Archive for Mark McGwire

Thrift Treasures 88: Return of the Bash Brothers 

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , on July 16, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

Given my geographic location it’s pretty common that during my thrift store hunting I come across Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants items.

While nothing moving forward likely won’t ever match a find from five years ago (Thrift Treasures 27) in which I acquired multiple autographs from the Bash Brothers years, I still get excited when I see A’s collections from that era.

Case in point my find from this week.

Sitting on top of the showcase at a local thrift store was a bag full of Oakland A’s Stadium Giveaway card sets and some misc. other cards.  

The giveaway sets ranged from 1986-2010, most of then were Mother’s Cookies sets which appeared to be mostly complete.  Well, the thrift store was selling the cards 20 for $1.

I managed to get into to store 20 minutes before they closed so I was able to search feverishly through the sets and other cards and managed to find 30 cards that cost me $1.50.

We’ll start with the “big” one here. This is a 1986 Mother’s Cookies Jose Canseco rookie-year release.

This was a relatively tough card to find in the Bay Area during Canseco’s hay day and it has always been one that I  wanted to acquire. Needless to say it was a steal at a nickel.

Speaking of Canseco, I pulled all of his cards, and those featuring fellow Bash Brother Mark McGwire, and Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson from the sets. I love these Mother’s Cookies releases.

Here are a few more A’s from 1997-2000, and some mid 2000s releases.  I like the Disabled Veterans Barry Zito releases; neat considering the work Zito did fot Strikeout For Troops 

A few Nick Swisher SGA cards for Chris Olds at Beckett.

Giants Reliever Santiago Casilla, an integral role player for the 2014 World Series Champions, started his career on Oakland under the name of “Jairo Garcia.” Here’s a 2004 release under that assumed name, and then a 2008 release under his real name. Interesting to note the vitals on the rear of the cards. 

So, growing up in the Bay Area, I was around for the years in which Kevin Mitchell was the man for the Giants.  I totally forgot he played about 50 games for Oakland in 1998 during his final tour on the Major Leagues.  This just doesn’t look right.

A pair of 1988 Nestle cards featuring former Giants star Will Clark and current Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti.

That find from five years ago had lots of autos. This find had just one, a rookie-year 1999 Just Mark Mulder. The numbered insert was a bonus.  

And the last two cards were giveaways during a game in Sept. 3, 2001, during Cal Ripken Jr.’s final tour through Oakland.  As ugly as they might be, these aren’t easy to find.  I actually sold one a year or so ago for $30.

Total cost of these treasures: $1.50 (a nickel per card)

You can see more Thrift Treasures posts Here

The Taste Of A New Generation

Posted in Instagram Portraits with tags , , , on January 13, 2013 by Cardboard Icons


Before they were great … They were unproven

Posted in Instagram Portraits with tags , , , , , , on January 10, 2013 by Cardboard Icons


Thrift Treasures XLIV: The Taste of a New Generation

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , on March 26, 2012 by Cardboard Icons

There was a time when I’d go grocery shopping with my mother and would ask her to buy certain products simply because the item contained a free promotional baseball card.

Kellogg’s brand cereals? yep.

Mother’s Cookies? Damn right … HAD to have those iced Animal Cookies.

Pepsi or Coke?  Depends on which one was offering my cardboard icons.

Today I present to you the food edition of Thrift Treasures.

My wife and I made a trip to some local antique stores about a week ago looking for whatever piqued our interests.  The trip as a whole was fairly mediocre.  Antique stores carry odd hours.  We went on a Tuesday, and most of the stores are open Wednesday through Sunday.  The result was only 3 of the 10 antique stores were open.  This of course translated into slim pickings.

But not all was lost.  Among the piles of organized madness was a small baggie of cards (pictured above) priced for a buck.


The first card in the baggie was one I had owned when I was a tweenager.  I remember pulling it from the inside of a 12 pack of Pepsi cans in 1989.  I remember that I creased the hell out of the card because it was attached to the box with a strip of hot glue.  Yeah, the geniuses at Pepsi adhered these seemingly collectible cards to the inside of their boxes using hot glue! Naked!  No plastic outer bag! Cardboard to cardboard with only a strip of glue between the two.


So yeah, this was a total sentimental purchase.  Value?  None, really.

Here are the cards that were within the baggie.

1989 Pepsi Mark McGwire Card #3

1989 Pepsi Mark McGwire Card #5

1989 Pepsi Mark McGwire Card #2

1989 Pepsi Mark McGwire Card #1

1989 Pepsi Mark McGwire Card #8

1990 Pepsi Jose Canseco Card #4

Mixed in with the Pepsi cards was a Mother’s Cookies card …

1992 Mother's Cookies No Hitter Set Nolan Ryan #6

… and some 1994 Tombstone Pizza cards made by Score

1994 Tombstone Pizza cards: Cecil Fielder (#18), Marquis Grissom (#7), Tim Salmon (#27), and John Kruk (#12)

Did Topps make the original gimmick card … in 1988?

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , on July 16, 2011 by Cardboard Icons

Errors used to be all the rage, and there certainly was no shortage of them in 1988 Topps.  There were the two versions of the Al Leiter rookie card, one of which didn’t even picture him.  You had the Keith Comstock error, which featured the wrong color in the team name, and then there was the Eddie Murray Record Breaker’s error which featured a text box over the front of the card.  But what about the Mark McGwire?

If you collected in the 80s and 90s, you know about this card because it was referred to as the “white triangle” error.  Check out the picture I have here.  See that white triangle under his left cleat?

Well look at it closer.  There’s also a bow on the cleat, too.  Now pull back a few inches from the computer screen and put it all together.  What do you have?  It’s a freakin’ high-heel shoe!

What’s debatable here is if that is really a bow or just the way McGwire tied his shoelaces. (Sometimes shoelaces can be fed through the toungue of a shoe, which in some instances could create this bow looking effect.  What’s interesting is that his right cleat does not look that way.

Now, what is not debatable is the fact that this is a manufactured error card.  There is no way this was accidental.

A lot of cards that speaks volumes about baseball, our hobby

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , on December 30, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds.

If there was a Mount Rushmore of the Steroid Era, these guys would take up three of the spots on the side of the mountain.   All three at one point were considered to be the greatest slugger in the game.  Sosa crushed more than 60 homers in three straight seasons, Mark McGwire broke Roger Maris’ single-season dinger mark (as did Sosa) and set the new mark at 70.  And then just a few years later, Barry Bonds came along and bested McGwire’s mark by pummeling 73 balls over the outfield fences at various ballparks throughout out the country.  Of course he later would surpass Hank Aaron’s all-time home run mark.

They were the best. They were the three guys whose baseball cards you wanted to own.  They were the three players whom even novice collectors wanted to invest.  And then things changed.

I came across this lot on eBay yesterday and it spoke to me like a whisper from down a dark alley reminding me of years past.  Not only reminding me of the recent history of the sport, but also of our hobby.

It’s a time capsule from when things were simpler. A time when everyone enjoyed the good and didn’t want to discuss the negativity.  Steroids? Pssssh, next question. A time when simple, meaningless rookie cards garnered attention. Not because they were signed or contained a swatch of game-used material, but simply because they were “rookie” cards featuring one of the game’s greats.

Sosa’s most desirable rookie card was/is his Leaf, but his Upper Deck garnered enough attention to pull close to $10 each.  The 1987 Donruss McGwire and Bonds cards are iconic of this mildly popular release.  The set features all dark borders, which caused fits among those looking for good-condition raw copies.  The McGwire is a rookie-year release — not an actual rookie card — featuring the “Rated Rookie” icon, which drew about $25 worth of attention to the scrawny slugger dressed in yellow.  And the Bonds was a solid true rookie that from time to time saw bursts in activity driving it to nearly $25.  And of course, all of the aforementioned cards were worth even more if they were graded high.

Which brings me to the next observation of this lot:  These three cards were graded by Beckett Grading Services under the guidance of the “old label” … and none of them earned high marks.

These cards were graded sometime before 2003, which I believe if when BGS changed their labels to feature the grades on front.  These cards were submitted by a collector who believed that their copies of well-cared-for but well-loved cards were worthy of slabbing, even if they had some chipping along the border, a slightly folded corner or a scratched hologram.  These cards were collected in a time when anything that was encapsulated by any company was thought to have increased in value, even if the grade was less than desirable.

A BGS 7 can carry a premium with older cards.  For those released within the last 20-25 years, all it means is that you’re admitting to the buyer that your card is not of mint quality. In some cases, the value of your raw card decreased because of the grade it received.  None of this mattered when these cards were submitted.

Now many years later with a clearer vision and a better understanding of the circumstances, collectors aren’t pouring money into any of these three players with the same fervor they once did. Even the most desirable rookie cards of these guys can be had at heavily discounted levels.

Nonetheless, the three cards offered for sale in this auction are iconic of the era when the players depicted on them were giants, a time when the hobby was simpler. A time when the sport was much more innocent. Or so we thought.

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!