Archive for Oakland Athletics

Newest Hall of Fame autograph has arrived (Thanks, Topps!)

Posted in New Addition with tags , , , , , , on September 7, 2013 by Cardboard Icons

RickeyIt pretty much goes without saying … WE ALL DISLIKE REDEMPTION CARDS.

Notice I didn’t say Hate.  It’s too strong of a word.  I think dislike is more apt because I think deep down there is some joy that some of us get from these cards.

While we’d all like to have the card fresh in-hand from the pack, redemption cards do present a great opportunity to those who are willing to wait out the redemption process.

On Saturday I received my 2012 Topps Five Star Rickey Henderson autograph card, which was the result of a redemption card I purchased on eBay about a month ago.  The good news was when I bought the redemption card, there was already word that the cards were already live, so I figured I wouldn’t have to wait that long.  From start to finish, it took about three weeks to turn the redemption card into the live card, which is shown here.  In the end, I saved roughly $35 and received a gorgeous card.  Thank you, Topps.

Thrift Treasures 59: Game-used bat at flea market; used on two baseball cards?

Posted in Newspaperman, Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , on August 8, 2013 by Cardboard Icons

ThriftTreasuresLogoImagine, walking through a flea market held at an abandoned drive-in theater. There are loads of tools to the left, tons of kids clothing to the right. Behind you are some sketchy electronics that likely were stolen from someone’s car. And then, in front of you, beneath the rubble of “junk” is a wooden gem, staring at you.

Any time I see a full-size baseball bat, I stop to see what the deal is. Is it softball bat? A store-sold player issue? Some generic piece of wood fashioned into a baseball bat? Regardless, I stop to look. And 99 percent of the time I keep moving.

But recently, while inspecting a piece of wood buried beneath the junk, I uncovered a game-used bat of Major League veteran (now retired) Mike Aldrete.

Yeah, I know, you’re rolling your eyes. It’s Mike Aldrete. Not exactly someone who you’d expect me to be writing about. But understand that we’re talking about a game-used bat used in a Major League Baseball game. And it cost $5.

The first thing that caught my attention was the bat knob. It has the number “43” and “T153″ written in ink, which I assumed was a player number and the model number. Then I saw the handle was taped with batting tape, and lastly I saw the barrel, which had Aldrete’s name and the team he was playing for at the time, the Cleveland Indians.

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A little research shows that Aldrete played for the Indians for one season: 1991.

And here is where things get even cooler.

Do a quick internet search for “Mike Aldrete” and “Indians” and what pops up? Two images: Aldrete’s 1992 Donruss and 1992 Fleer cards. Now look closely.

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Something there look familiar?

While I can’t say for sure that the bat I found at the flea market is the same bat used in the images shown on the cards, let’s consider a few things:

The bat was found in Santa Cruz, California. Aldrete lives in Carmel, California.

The images shown on the 1992 Donruss and 1992 Fleer card were either shot by the same photographer or by two photographers in the same photographer well, while covering an OAKLAND ATHLETICS, which is like 60 miles north of Santa Cruz, Calif.

The numbers written on the bat knob look almost identical to that of the one used by Aldrete on the cards.

The tape job on my bat look almost identical to the one used by Aldrete on the cards.

That’s the extent of the evidence I have to this point. We can’t see the barrel of Aldrete’s bat to see if there are any other distinguishing characteristics. And best I checked on AP Photos and Getty Images, there are no other images of Aldrete at the A’s game shown on the cards.

While the actual link between the bat and the two cards is merely speculative and circumstantial at this point, it’s still a neat story and a possibility.


To see more Thrift Treasures posts, click HERE




2012 Bowman Baseball: Home of the (Oakland A’s) Rookie Cards

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , on May 9, 2012 by Cardboard Icons

2012 Bowman Yoenis Cespedes rookie card #193

I saw a slew of 2012 Bowman baseball opened this week and it instantly came to my attention that Bowman is not only “Home of the Rookie Card,” but more specifically home of the Oakland A’s rookie cards.

The Bowman set features a whopping seven legitimate rookie cards of Oakland Athletics players, and this does not take into account the multiple prospect cards that some people sometimes consider rookies.

We all knew that one of the big draws of the Bowman set was the first pack-seeded rookie card of Yoenis Cespedes wearing a Major League Baseball uniform.  But what I didn’t realize, and likely many others, is that there are a half-dozen other Oakland players who call the 2012 Bowman set the home of their first “official” rookie card.

Guys like Tom Milone and Brad Peacock were in 2012 Topps, but they were pictured as members of the Washington Nationals.

Take a look at this:

2012 Bowman Tom Milone rookie card #196

2012 Bowman Brad Peacock rookie card #216

2012 Bowman Jarrod Parker rookie card #213

2012 Bowman Jemile Weeks rookie card #61

2012 Bowman Michael Taylor rookie card #206

2012 Bowman Collin Cowgill rookie card #201

It should be noted that while these seven cards are considered rookie cards, four of these other players have appeared on Bowman branded baseball cards in recent years.

*Michael Taylor appeared in 2007 Bowman as a prospect card when he was with the Phillies. (2007 Bowman products)

*Jarrod Parker also appeared in 2007 Bowman as a prospect when he was in the Diamond Backs organization. (2007 Bowman products)

*Brad Peacock was in 2008 Bowman products as a Washington National.  (2008 Bowman products)

*Collin Cowgill appeared in 2011 Bowman Sterling as an autographed prospect card while featured in a Diamond Backs unform.  (2011 Bowman Sterling)

One of the greatest baseball days ever …

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , on October 7, 2011 by Cardboard Icons

My neighbors must think I have split personalities.  One day they see me wearing a Red Sox shirt, the next day it’s a Giants shirt.  And on Sept. 7, they surely saw me wearing an A’s hat.

Such is the life of a baseball fan who chooses an east coast team as his favorite, yet grew up watching — and supporting — local baseball teams, specifically the A’s.

One of my favorite memories s a kid was going to my first baseball game.  I was 8.  My father took me to an Orioles-Athletics game in 1988.  I have two distinct memories from that game — Cal Ripken hit a screaming homer run to left field, and my father bought me an A’s hat, which I wore to sleep.

Being a father of two now, I’d been contemplating taking my own kids to their first baseball game.  But I didn’t want to take them when they were too young to remember.  Lots of kids go to their first games when they still have pacifiers in their mouths.  Being a baseball fan, I know how special that first game is.  And I want/wanted each of my kids to remember their first experience.

Well,  Sept. 7, 2011, was the day … for my daughter, anyway.

My daughter is almost three.  She’s still young and impressionable.  She still tells me that she loves me, and she’s not just saying it to get into my wallet.  Does she love baseball?  No … well not yet, anyway.

But that Wednesday seemed like the perfect opportunity.  The Oakland Athletics run a ticket special for many of their day games where they sell tickets near Mt. Davis for $2 each.

Are they “good” tickets?  No.  Are they tickets to a Major League Baseball game for the same price as a pack of 2011 Topps Baseball?  Yep.

So the decision was made.  We would ride BART to the game and soak it all in.  The goal was to expose my daughter to baseball and show her that it was a fun time — the outcome of the game really wasn’t all that important.  Plus, I bought her a puppet of the A’s team mascot Stomper about a year earlier and we played with it just the night before the game.  I sold her on the idea that we might see Stomper.

Just before leaving the house, I posted on my Twitter account that I was headed to the game with my daughter. I mentioned that it was her first.  Within minutes, I got a message from the Oakland A’s twitter account asking where I was sitting.  I sent a message back, not really sure why they were asking.

So we ventured out … we caught a train in Fremont, Calif. and started the journey to the old, dilapidated facility that is the “O.Co Coliseum.”  My daughter was excited not only for the game, but her first train ride.

When we arrived at our destination, my daughter was excited to be there.  We quickly found our seats to catch a few moments of the A’s and Royals players stretching.  And then we ventured to the concession stands to grab some treats — popcorn and a hotdog.

When we returned to our seats, my daughter dove into her helmet full of popcorn.  Seconds later I was greeted by a representative of the A’s.  They said they heard it was my daughter’s first game and presented her with a certificate commemorating the occasion.  And then they upgraded our seats from the foot of Mt. Davis to field level seats near the A’s dug out.

With the game underway, we made the trek to our field level seats.  And let me tell you, it’s not easy totting around food and a 2-year-old at a baseball game. By the time we got to our seats we missed an inning of baseball and my arms were dead, but I knew it would all be worth it as we surely would get to see Stomper from our new location.

And just minutes later we did …

“Look, honey, it’s Stomper,” I told my daughter.

She grabbed her puppet — which we brought to the game — and stood up.  I offered to take her to see him up close, but she froze.  She didn’t want to go.

For several minutes she watched him from a distance … and then he was gone, moved to the other side of the Coliseum to meet other children.

About 5 minutes later I received a direct message on Twitter from someone who knew I was at the game.  That person showed me a Tweet contest from Stomper. 

When I received the message, I could see Stomper clear on the other side of the stadium.  I thought about grabbing my daughter and racing to him to say the phrase.  But my daughter was reluctant to see him when he was nearby, so I didn’t want to scare her off.  I figured if he came back to our area, I’d hit him up then.

We watched a few more innings of baseball and then I heard a magic phrase …

“Daddy, I need to go to the bathroom.”

My blood pressure went through the roof because I knew we had to gather everything up and find a somewhat sanitary place for my daughter to do her deed.

Needless to say we made it to the restroom in time and she was relieved.  But as we exited the bathroom, who do you think we saw?

This was our chance.

I raced over to the mascot, who was posing for a picture with some fans.  When he was done, I said the phrase …


He pointed to me and his handler handed us our prize. We’d won the signed hat … and my daughter got to meet Stomper, all at the same time.

With the loot in hand, we returned to our seats for another inning or so, until my daughter seemed to be running out of steam.  It was the sixth inning and Guillermo Moscoso had a no-hitter going, but none of that mattered. We’d had a good day and I was not going to have it ruined with a public toddler meltdown in a baseball stadium.

So we packed up our stuff, got back on the train and headed home.

It’s been a month since that day.  The season has ended, the League Championship Series are about to begin and Fall has arrived.  But even to this day,  my daughter still says a magic phrase to me:

“Daddy, remember when we went to the baseball game?  I got to meet Stomper!”

Of course I remember, honey.  Of course I do.

Thrift Treasures Part XXVII: Bash Brothers Autograph Edition

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , on August 18, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

We all grew up baseball fans, but few of us really had a chance to be raised around excellence. Fortunately for me, I was one of the few (relatively speaking) who lived, breathed and witnessed the greatness of the Oakland Athletics, circa 1988-1992.

True, I am a Red Sox fan, and have been since 1988, when I selected Roger Clemens as my favorite player. But there has always been a soft spot for those A’s teams, the same squad I would rush home from school and listen to on 560 KSFO radio or watch on KCIU-36, the flagship television station.

Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco were my guys. I waggled my bat the same way they did whenever we played pickup ball. I had pretty much all of the batting stances down from those teams, including the ridiculous bat-wielding technique of Ron Hassey, Carney’s bat jitter,  Rickey’s rock and explode, Hendu’s toe-tap, the way Walt choked up on the bat. Yep, all of them.

So imagine my delight when I stopped at a thrift shop and saw a binder full of Oakland A’s cards. Now before we go any further, this simplistic description of a binder of cards is actually pretty common in my area. I still live in the Bay Area. All sorts of collectors have dumped their collections at thrift stores, who then routinely over price them. But not today, my friends. The Cardboard Gods were shining down upon me. This time they wanted a mere $3.99.

I flipped through the pages of this neat-looking binder and nearly dropped a load in my pants when I saw this page:

Do you see it? Hell, do you see them? It’s a pair of freakin’ Mark McGwire autograph cards! And one of them being signed on my favorite McGwire card of all time, the 1989 Upper Deck card?

When I saw this, I closed the binder and headed to the register. You’re telling me that this store — which often removes cards from binder pages, throws them into baggies and hawks them 50 for $2.99 — was going to sell this entire binder for less than a bottle of Diet Coke and a pack of gum at the neighboring liquor store?

I was hoping the cashier didn’t thumb through the binder to get a gander at what I was so giddily ready to purchase. Good thing he didn’t or he might have realized there were FIVE more autographs in the binder including Bash Brother Jose Canseco (90 UD), Dennis Eckersley (89 Fleer), Mike Gallego (90 UD) and a pair of Walt Weiss (89 Topps, 90 UD).

Questioning the authenticity of these autographs? Not me. They are absolutely legit in my opinion, especially those McGwire’s. I’ve been mesmerized by McGwire’s auto since childhood and have been studying every stroke. I spent my first two years of college (1998 and 1999) trying to perfect it instead of listening to the history of Napoleon Bonaparte and the such.

Aside from the inked cards, there are still a boat load of cards that bring back all sorts of memories. Check out these Mark McGwire Mother’s Cookies cards. Gotta love the one with the massive bat and the one with fellow Rookie of the Year winners, Jose Canseco and Walt Weiss. I’ve written about some of these before.

And these unlicensed issues, which were pretty prevalent in my area during childhood.

I can’t seem to figure this one out. It’s not really a card, but more like a wallet size picture. The image appears to be from 1987, or Spring Training 1988, based on the jersey. The back only says “This Paper Manufactured By Kodak.”

How about this 1988 Topps Record Breaker Error/Gimmick card. Check out McGwire’s plant foot — there’s a bow on his cleat, and a weird triangle toward the heel. Come to think of it, it looks like Someone at Topps made a poor attempt to make it look like he was wearing a wedge heel. Seriously.

And for good measure, how about these rookie-year issues, 1987 Topps and 1987 Donruss Rated Rookie. Oddly enough, the Donruss card is probably the nicest raw copy of this card I have ever owned, and I’ve had a few come through my collection. They were tough to keep mint back in the day because of the stiff binder pages and black card borders.

Pretty cool, eh? And that’s just McGwires.

Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane with some other Junk Wax Era releases.

Here’s some 1989 Fleer error cards. Notice the red color bars on top and below the photos; they are supposed to be green.

I used to LOVE these oddball releases. 1989 Topps Toys R Us Rookies Walt Weiss and 1988 Topps Revco League Leaders Mark McGwire.

What an awesome image of Rick Honeycutt signing autographs. He actually looks like a police officer writing a speeding ticket. Sweet shades, Rick.

Who can forget how useful Tony Philips was. I’m pretty sure the Topps photographer caught Phillips off guard here. I wonder who else signed that ball and what happened to it.

A partial set of 1990 Fleer World Series cards, recapping the 1989 victory over the Bay Area rivals San Francisco Giants. That was the Bay Bridge Series that was stopped for a week or so because of the Loma Prieta earthquake.

I was going to scan an image of each player from those great teams, but there are too many. There are literally 200-plus cards in this binder. Instead I’ll finish this post with five of my favorite A’s cards from the era, all of which just happened to be in the binder.

1992 Upper Deck Mark McGwire — check out the bat.

1990 Score 1989 World Series recap of Games 1  and 2. Love the wording at the bottom left of this Dave Stewart and Mike Moore image. It says “Actual World Series Action Photography.”

1989 Fleer Triple A’s card featuring Canseco, McGwire and catcher Terry Steinbach. There’s a very personal story that goes with this card. Not the right forum to share it though. Actually, pretty depressing. Maybe I’ll save it for my book.
1988 Topps Team Leaders. So Young. So good. So innocent … or so we thought.

1991 Score Dream Team Rickey Henderson. Only a Canseco Dream Team card would have rivaled this badboy. Go, Rickey! Go!

Stupid Inserts Part III: 2001 Fleer Game Time “New Order”

Posted in Stupid Inserts with tags , , , , on November 7, 2009 by Cardboard Icons

2001FleerGameTimeNewOrderJasonGiambi2001FleerGameTimeNewOrderJasonGiambi2Hate to be all negative and what not, but what the hell was Fleer thinking when they created this card? This is a 2001 Fleer Game Time “New Order” die-cut insert featuring Jason Giambi. Don’t get me wrong, the card looks pretty cool. I dig the die-cut job, and the holofoil on the right side looks nice.

But what the hell is the point here? Look at the lineup card filled out to the left. It’s for “Oakland,” and shows Giambi in the No. 3 hole, which is where he hit at the height of his career, particularly with the A’s. What’s “New” about that?

It looks like Fleer tried to create a “New” all-star-type lineup with Andruw Jones hitting leadoff, Nomar Garciaparra batting second, Giambi third, and Manny Ramirez cleanup, followed by Sammy Sosa, Ivan Rodriguez, Darin Erstad, Scott Rolen and Pokey Reese. Problems: Of the guys listed, only Giambi ever played for Oakland. and secondly, FIVE of the guys are not even in this friggin insert set, a 15-card billing that features all of the usual heavy hitters, but nowhere to be found are: Andruw, I-Rod, Erstad, Rolen and Pokey. Interesting, no?

Oh, an who the hell is Don Latham, the guy who is listed here as Manager? Was this HIS fantasy team back in 2000?


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