Archive for the ‘photography’ Category

only the shadow knows…

October 9, 2010

I remember the 1970s. However, I do not claim to actually understand how many of the things from the 70s came to be. A perfect example would be Jerry Terrell’s 1974 Topps baseball card.

Jerry Terrell (1974 Topps – no. 481)

I remember having Terrell’s 74 Topps card in my collection as clearly as I recall eating jelly beans and drinking Shasta root beer in the back seat of my father’s 65 Chevy Impala while our family enjoyed a “Herby Rides Again”/”My Name is Nobody” double feature at the drive-in. Who knows… I may have even first seen this card while opening a pack during the 15-minute drive to the theater.

Interestingly, I didn’t think anything was strange about the card until I reacquired it for my collection earlier this year. I sort of wonder if anyone else has written about the odd “shadow” cast on the ground next to Jerry, but I find that I’m not so interested as to actually take the time to scour the interwebs to answer my own question. The bottom line is that I picked up a few blaster boxes of 2010 Allen & Ginter baseball cards during the baseball season when I didn’t have any spare time to open them, and have decided that I can only open a box after I post some sort of offering on this blog. Thus, you get this.

Although the shadow not only seems unnatural in that it is not varied from the dirt warning track to the raised grass surface, but also the shape of the shadow seems unlikely to have been cast from the same light source as is the shadow across Terrell’s face from his ballcap. Even with that in mind, I doubt I would have bothered to call attention to this card if not for the fact that Terrell’s shadow is cast in different direction from that of his teammate’s in the background. Here is a quickie Photoshopped version that illustrates a “truer” shadow that would have been cast off Terrell in keeping with the same light source as his teammate.

MODIFIED Jerry Terrell (1974 Topps – no. 481)

Without having access to the original negative, I can only speculate that this photo has been doctored. Even then I am left scratching my head as to WHY would anyone have bothered to do so in the first place.

– Kris

pause the presses

September 4, 2008

As summer insists it is time to begin heading south for the winter, I find myself suddenly without (live) baseball. And it stinks!

I made it to an even 70 Albuquerque Isotopes games this season. In spite of the fact that many of the contests weren’t easy to watch, all were highly entertaining- and the vast majority contained numerous elements of drama equal to those you would expect to experience at a major league game. I think the point I’m attempting to make here is that it would have been even more difficult to look away.

The Isotopes absolutely caught fire at the end of the season, winning 18 of the final 24 games in August in order to climb back into second place in the Pacific Coast League’s American Southern Conference. I don’t know exactly how many games they won by coming from behind, but it was enough that fans seemed shocked at the ends of the games when they fell short- especially during the final homestand.

I did get my photo taken while chasing autographs prior to a game near the end of the season, and published in the sports section of the Albuquerque Journal. The photo was used as part of an article written about the “business of collecting autographs” – something that sent the majority of the local graphers off in a tizzy, and demanding that they were misrepresented by the reporter.

Journal photographer Morgan Petroski shot this photo of Jarrett Hoffpauir autographing his card from the 2008 Memphis Redbirds team set for me on August 18th. I intend to include a scan of that card when I get around to posting my review of that team set- hopefully at some point before the snow flies.

Unfortunately, you cannot read the article on the Journal’s website without paying. I’m not going to scan the article and post downloadable .pdf files, but I did find HALF of the article online here… in the unlikeliest of sources. Make of it what you will. I guess I’m still making up my mind about what was written, and what wasn’t. While it definitely isn’t the “angle” I would approach such a story from, I also don’t believe the article really depicts autograph collectors in a terrible light.

The thing that really interests me about the article was the fact that since being mentioned in the article by name, Aardvark Trading Company’s website was hit exactly seven times by people who obviously read it. No, that isn’t very many, and I suspect that more than half of these new cyberguests were actually some of the other graphers. So I’m left pondering the question of whether or not people who still read newspapers also use the internet. Another nagging possibility is that the vast majority of newspaper readers found the storyline dull and uninteresting.

In other press-related news… I recently had one of my photographs published online by a website known as Baracuda Fantasy Sports. It is nothing fancy, just a shot of Cincinnati Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan that I shot during the Arizona Fall League in 2005.

This is also the time of year that I would be thinking about making a road trip over to Phoenix for some Arizona Fall League action, but I don’t think I will have enough free time to make it worth my while. On the other hand, I might just decide to take a week off work if young quarter horses Lucky Aces Cash, A Royal Memory, One Spot Dot Com and Baloo combine for the superfecta during the 6th race at the Albuquerque Downs this Friday afternoon. (Any order, of course, as I will be boxing that particular wager.) Yes, handicapping ponies appeals to me as an interesting way of passing the winter- at least while not sorting cards.

I realize that I am about a dozen team set reviews behind schedule, as my mail carrier seems determined to bury me with solicited and unsolicited work. Readers should also be anticipating a season wrap-up to my Topps 52s autographs project- but that’s all I’m going to say about that matter for now.

I thought I should get some news posted before the New Mexico State Fair cranks up this weekend and provides yet another worthy distraction from my blogging efforts over the next couple of weeks. I’m sure glad I have a PARTNER in this undertaking who is happy to step in and help fill the void by adding some fresh content while I am busy.

– Kris

the more things change…

August 15, 2008

Have you ever sat and wondered what it must have been like to collect baseball cards way back when… you know, in the days prior to the interweb, penny sleeves, and printed price guides? If you pulled a presidential DNA card from an Allen & Ginter pack, would you consider trading it for say, an hour in a time machine? I know I would!

Luckily, we do have access to a time machine of sorts, and it goes by the name of “Shorpy.” Best of all, you can use it as often and as long as you wish, and it won’t even cost you a Willie McGee card.

I must warn you that Shorpy “the 100-year-old photo blog” can be quite addictive. So you may wish to skip the rest of this entry and return to check it out sometime in November when there is no baseball to watch.

I suspect that most Cards in the Attic readers will be quite interested in this photo of a young military cadet that seems to have been taken in his dorm room right around 1911.

Why? Perhaps you need a closer view…

That’s right… baseball cards. Actually, there are all kinds of interesting things to look at in this photo, so you’ll want to be sure to visit and download the uncropped high resolution image that they obtained from a National Photo Company Collection glass negative on file at the Library of Congress.

But this blog is about baseball cards, and not so much the other stuff, so let’s focus on the cards. Without screw down acrylic cases to protect his collection, this young collector simply affixed his cards to his wall so he could look at them whenever he felt the need. Raise your hand if you’ve never done this yourself. Now put your hand down liar!

Without his own blog or MySpace page, the subject of our attention could only document his STELLAR collection by sitting in front of it and having someone take a photograph. Nearly 100 years later, his efforts are greatly appreciated. This guy even had a fish card that I suspect Cardboard Junkie can identify in an instant.

Not that long ago Shorpy ran another photo that seems to have either been shot in a military barracks, or some bizzaro pool hall. This photo dates to the later 1910s, but does that alone qualify the photo to be included here?

Hardly! A closer inspection reveals more baseball card madness…

My first thought was that they stuck the entire contents of a blaster box on the wall, but I’m fairly confident that Target wasn’t around yet. You’ll want to make sure to also check out the full-size image of this by following this link.

Isn’t history kool? Isn’t it also a little strange? Then, not unlike now, the country and the baseball card hobby faced hard times with myriad challenges and opportunities. What will be your legacy? (Completely rhetorical, of course- no need to go into all of that in the comments section!!!)

Did I mention that could be addictive?

– Kris

2008 mississippi braves team set review

June 29, 2008

2008 Mississippi Braves team set
Manufacturer: Grandstand
Retail price: $ 10.00

The Mississippi Braves are the Double-A Southern League affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, and play their home games at Trustmark Park in Jackson, Mississippi. As of this posting, the Braves maintain a three-game lead in the Southern Division in the second half of the season- after finishing 10 games out in the first half. They may very well lead the league in “most players named J.C.” for all I know.

Checklist: 34 cards (neither printed nor included)

1 – [1] J.C. Holt (inf)
2 – [2] J.C. Boscan (c)
3 – [4] Carl Loadenthal (of)
4 – [5] Jordan Schafer (of)
5 – [6] Matt Young (of)
6 – [8] Van Pope (inf)
7 – [9] Paul Bennett (inf)
8 – [10] Jose Camarena (c)
9 – [12] Jason Perry (of)
10 – [13] Javier Guzman (inf)
11 – [16] Mark Jurich (of)
12 – [17] Nelson Payano (p)
13 – [18] Quentin Davis (of)
14 – [20] Kala Ka’Aihue (inf)
15 – [22] Franklin Stubbs (coach)
16 – [23] Kris Medlen (p)
17 – [24] James Parr (p)
18 – [25] Greg Creek (inf)
19 – [27] Derek Botelho (pitching coach)
20 – [29] Tommy Hanson (p)
21 – [30] Phillip Wellman (manager)
22 – [31] Sung Ki Jung (p)
23 – [32] Dustin Evans (p)
24 – [34] Todd Redmond (p)
25 – [36] Jerome Gamble (p)
26 – [37] Ray Serrano (c)
27 – [45] Luis Valdez (p)
28 – [47] Ryan Basner (p)
29 – [48] Brad Nelson (p)
30 – [50] Carlos Sencion (p)
31 – [51] Michael Nix (p)
32 – [52] Dan Smith (p)
33 – [na] Ricky Alcantara (trainer)
34 – [na] Trusty (mascot)

Cards are thin, but not flimsy. Both surfaces are semi-gloss that require no preparation prior to autographing- not that I’m suggesting that anyone needs to get the back sides of their cards autographed. Photos are credited to Ed Gardner and Tom Priddy. Bob Smith shot the photo of Jo-Jo Reyes used on the ‘08 Mississippi Braves pocket schedule.

I do like the card designs, with their random blue and red curved borders, team logo and player name in red text highlighted by white drop shadows. That said, these cards are probably only a single design element away from being declared “busy.” The curved blue and red border theme is continued on the back, but with player bios and stats printed in black over a mottled grey background.

First up is pitcher Luis Valdez. One of the darkest cards in the set, this one still works because the photo is sharp, and there is plenty of room for a signature across the lower third.

Yes, I believe I really like these cards. I wonder how they would look with a horizontal alignment.

Very nice! This is the ONLY card in the set in which a player steps in front of any border, and it really stands out. Matt Young leads the Braves with 19 stolen bases out of 27 attempts. Young also leads the Braves by having appeared in 79 games so far this season, and scoring 45 runs in the process.

Another good example of the horizontal alignment of several of the cards in this set is the card of Paul Bennett. This card refuses to be “complete” until it is signed with a blue Sharpie!

Did I mention how good the photography is in this card set? Check out this offering of Dan Smith. See what I mean?

The 2008 Mississippi Braves team set provides an even mixture of position players batting or playing defense. The J.C. Holt card illustrates the importance of not making cards of every player swinging a baseball bat.

Catcher Ray Serrano demonstrates the art of framing a pitch to help make sure the home plate umpire “sees” it correctly. This card won’t help you identify Serrano in a crowd, but that is also why the players where numbers on their jerseys. Please don’t ask me who the umpire is since there is no number 11 listed on the official Southern League Umpire roster, or am I simply not seeing things?

As you realize that you are nearing the end of my review, you may be starting to wonder if I am going to include a scan of Tommy Hanson’s card in light of the fact that he recently hurled the first no hitter in Mississippi Braves history. I am not. Instead, you should pick up a set for yourself while it is still an option. The 2008 Mississippi Braves team set is available for purchase directly from the Extra Innings team store for $10.00.

They also have the 2007 Mississippi Braves team set still available as well. Actually, those are a STEAL at only three bucks a pop! I look forward to an opportunity to review that set at some point in the future.

If you are heading to the ballpark to take in a Mississippi Braves game, just wait and pick up a few sets in person. These cards will be distributed FREE to the first 2,000 fans attending the July 6, 2008 game vs. the Chattanooga Lookouts. Want to sort your new cards in style? I suggest dropping another $500 and renting one of Trustmark Park’s luxury suites for an evening. You can invite up to fifteen of your best friends or favorite blog writers to join you. Post-game fireworks will help draw a large crowd to that game, so arrive early.

– Kris

2008 iowa cubs team set review

June 28, 2008

2008 Iowa Cubs team set
Official Score – TRIPLE
Manufacturer: MultiAd Sports
SGA info: FREE to the first 1,500 fans through the turnstiles for the June 14, 2008 game vs. the Nashville Sounds
Sponsor: KRAFT Foods
Retail price: Good question! I’d say around $10.00 from the Iowa Cubs team shop.

Similar to the Omaha Royals, the Iowa Cubs went with MultiAd’s unobtrusive (Style C) template in the creation of their team set for the 2008 season. As pointed out previously, I am keen on this design that uses a sort of greyscale cigar-band strip across the lower margin of the cards to create a suitable position for the player name, number and position, along with the team name and logo.

One relatively simple thing that immediately sets the Iowa Cubs team set above the Omaha Royals was the inclusion of one extra card- a checklist. I am also impressed with the decision to use a swell team photo for the checklist. Having the team pose in front of the scoreboard adds a certain old timey touch to the set. Nicely done! (And I’m not just saying that because the Iowa Cubs took the opportunity to send a subliminal “shout-out” to the Aardvark Trading Company by including the Albuquerque Isotopes name on the scoreboard… or am I?)

Checklist: 30 cards
1 – Jose Ascanio (p)
2 – Justin Berg (p)
3 – Andres Blanco (inf)
4 – Mike Burns (p)
5 – Andy Cavazos (p)
6 – Neal Cotts (p)
7 – Nelson Figueroa (inf)
8 – Jake Fox (inf)
9 – Sam Fuld (of)
10 – Sean Gallagher (p)
11 – Kevin Hart (p)
12 – Koyie Hill (c)
13 – Micah Hoffpauir (1b/of)
14 – Matt Johnson (trainer)
15 – Von Joshua (hitting coach)
16 – Randy Keisler (p)
17 – Josh Kroeger (of)
18 – Pat Listach (manager)
19 – Sean Marshall (p)
20 – Mike Mason (pitching coach)
21 – J.R. Mathes (p)
22 – Casey McGehee (c/inf)
23 – Matt Murton (of)
24 – Eric Patterson (inf)
25 – Carmen Pignatiello (p)
26 – Tony Richie (c)
27 – Bobby Scales (inf/of)
28 – Andres Torres (of)
29 – Randy Wells (p)
30 – checklist (team photo)

Cards appear to have been treated with the popular Sharpie-friendly clear coat finish. The backs consist of two-color (black and red) printing over white matte, player stats and short bios. A grayscale thumbnail image showing either the entire front, or a cropped portion, is included on the back of each card except the checklist. Cardstock used for the team set is approximately one grade thicker than say, construction paper. I know, I know… I’ll stop harping on this fact as soon as one team gets it right.

Photo credits for this set include Chris Donahue, Earl Hulst, Scott Schutz and Larry Woolis. Essentially all action shots, the set contains a nice mixture of pitchers wearing either white or blue jerseys, and with enough different backgrounds so you won’t grow weary of looking at photos of the pitcher’s mound. The light-colored background on Randy Keisler’s card makes his perfect for autographing purposes.

Of the two catchers, Tony Richie’s is the better offering as you can actually see what he looks like. I don’t think Koyie Hill really enjoys signing autographs anyway, so maybe he prefers cards with his face being blocked by a mask and a mitt.

Eighty percent of the ten “hitters” cards feature I-Cubs in blue jerseys. This Randy Wells offering stands out though, as he is the only pitcher in the stack not shot in the act of pitching. Instead, he is laying down a sacrifice bunt.

I’ve mentioned before how fun it must be as a fan to be able to identify yourself in the background of a baseball card. Take the two fellows in the front row immediately to the left of Josh Kroeger for instance. One or both of them appear in the background of three additional cards in this set (Fox, McGehee and Murton). I’d say that’s a little much. As good as the photographs in this set are, a little more variability in the composition would be nice to see.

Fantastic photo of trainer Matt Johnson! I’m sure Matt is a great guy, but the card would be better if it contained a player. In all fairness, the portrait shots of Pat Listach, Von Joshua and Mike Mason are equally as good.

Although I am leaning toward one card as my overall favorite from the set, I am finding it a difficult decision. This is a great shot of Andres Blanco…

and this photo of Eric Patterson is stellar…

I find it interesting that both of my favorites are of non-pitchers who aren’t batting. Hmmm…..

Cubbies fans may (or may not) take delight in the fact that I will be reviewing an entire decade of Iowa Cubs team sets in the days to come. I won’t be submitting these reviews back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-etc. though, so I can do my best to stay on top of current team minor league team sets as they become available.

The Iowa Cubs ordering process could be improved as I only see the 2003 team set available online even though they have sets ranging all the way back to 1998 in their team shop. Don’t sweat it, call them at 515.243.6111. Don’t be shy, order some today. Tell them I sent ya!

I’ve seen these same sets selling on the secondary market for $15.

– Kris

2007 charleston riverdogs team set review

June 27, 2008

2007 Charleston RiverDogs team set
Official Score – DOUBLE STEAL
Manufacturer: Grandstand
Retail price: $ 6.00

One of the teams making up the southern division of the South Atlantic League, the Charleston RiverDogs are presently the Class A affiliate of one of the major league teams from New York. They play their home games at “the Joe,” or Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park located along the banks of the Ashley River in historic Charleston, South Carolina.

This team set lacks a printed checklist and uses player jersey numbers as card identifiers on the back (without benefit of a # of # designation). Of course I won’t leave you hanging, so here is the official checklist.

Checklist: 32 cards
1 – [2] Randy Martinez (p)
2 – [3] Chris Kunda (inf)
3 – [4] Mike Dunn (p)
4 – [5] Mitch Hilligoss (inf)
5 – [7] Eduardo Nunez (inf)
6 – [9] Kyle Anson (c)
7 – [11] Kevin Smith (inf)
8 – [12] Seth Fortenberry (of)
9 – [13] Torre Tyson (manager)
10 – [15] Jonathan Hovis (p)
11 – [16] Luke Trubee (p)
12 – [17] Chris Malec (inf)
13 – [19] David Robertson (p)
14 – [22] Edgar Soto (p)
15 – [23] Ferdin Tejeda (p)
16 – [24] Brian Aragon (of)
17 – [25] José Gil (c)
18 – [26] Josue Calzado (of)
19 – [28] Greg Colbrunn (hitting coach)
20 – [29] Wilmer Pino (inf)
21 – [31] Carlos Reyes (pitching coach)
22 – [33] Brian Baisley (c)
23 – [35] Garrett Patterson (p)
24 – [36] Grant Duff (p)
25 – [38] Austin Jackson (of)
26 – [39] Ivan Nova (p)
27 – [40] Hector Noesi (p)
28 – [‘07] Vinnie Colangelo (clubhouse manager)
29 – [‘07] Tim Lentych (trainer)
30 – [‘07] Jeff Zaba (strength coach)
31 – [‘07] Charlie T. RiverDog (mascot)
32 – [‘07] Chelsea (mascot)

Interestingly, I haven’t been able to located a website for Grandstand cards, so I’m unable to identify the template used in the creation of these cards. Card fronts consist of color photos framed by an eighth-inch blue and olive border. This border provides suitable locations for player name and position, as well as the team name, logo and the year of issue. Card thinness is average minor league fare. Surface treatment is a semi-gloss that requires no additional preparation prior to autographing. The backs also feature four-color printing, with easily read player stats and short bios in black text over an image of several baseballs and a glove.

The card for infielder Mitch Hilligoss is noteworthy due to his hitting streak between April 18 and June 1, 2007 that left him the all-time SAL leader in consecutive games with a lofty 38. This card is also provides graphers with a second opportunity to get Eduardo Nunez’s signature as he is featured prominently in the photo.

The card of Austin Jackson depicts the outfielder doing one of the things he does best- burning up the base paths. Jackson accumulated 33 stolen bases during the 2007 season while timesharing between Charleston, Class A Tampa and Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Four of the cards in this set turn the normal minor league baseball card mold on its side… literally. I don’t think it is any secret that I prefer horizontal alignments over portrait- assuming that the image works in that format. The card of pitcher Mike Dunn demonstrates that this concept is well understood by the designer(s) of the 2007 Charleston RiverDogs team set.

A few of the more aesthetically-pleasing cards included in this set include catcher Kyle Anson legging out a base knock…

pitcher Jonathan Hovis and an intriguing and well-captured mid-flight pitch…

and infielder Chris Kunda fixin’ to score. The drama captured by this shot is punctuated by the fact that everyone including Kunda is watching the batted ball. One gal in the stands is even waiting to see where the ball lands before she takes a drink of her beer. Perfect!

Several of the cards are a bit on the dark side, but overall, I believe that photographer Chrissa Stroh turned in some excellent shots. That said, there are three cards in the set (Greg Colbrunn, Hector Noesi and Garrett Patterson) that fall well short of the mark. Patterson’s card isn’t terrible, but there must have been better photos available of Colbrunn and Noesi that better show what these guys look like.

If you couldn’t tell from my “official scoring” whether or not I think this team set is “worth” the $6 price tag, my answer is “Yes, easily.” Cards from this set are currently available on the secondary market ranging from $3.00 each to 10-card single player lots for anywhere from $10.00 to $30.00 (depending on the player). You do the math… then order directly from the Charleston RiverDogs team shop. Keep your rss reader tuned to Cards in the Attic for reviews of older Charleston RiverDogs team sets that are still available from the team.

Subjectively yours,

– Kris

2008 beloit snappers team set review

June 26, 2008

2008 Beloit Snappers team set
Official Score – TWO RUN RAINMAKER
Manufacturer: Grandstand
Retail price: $10.00

I wish to begin by stating that it was an absolute PLEASURE to review this particular team set. The Beloit fans are fortunate to have such a quality product available to help them document the 2008 season as their Snappers continue in their winning ways in the Western Division of the Midwest League.

I must caution that this set lacks a printed checklist and utilizes player jersey numbers as card identifiers on the back (without benefit of a # of # designation), a small detail that I know will frustrate the most anal of completist collectors. With that out of the way, let’s move on to the official checklist.

Checklist: 32 cards
1 – [1] Rudy Hernandez (hitting coach)
2 – [2] Ramon Santana (ss)
3 – [4] Chris Cates (ss)
4 – [5] Joe Benson (of)
5 – [7] Ben Revere (of)
6 – [8] Garrett Olson (3b)
7 – [9] Daniel Lehmann (c)
8 – [10] Chris Parmelee (of)
9 – [11] Steve Singleton (ss)
10 – [13] Daniel Berlind (p)
11 – [16] Jair Fernandez (c)
12 – [17] Spencer Steedley (p)
13 – [18] Matt Williams (p)
14 – [19] Greg Yersich (c)
15 – [21] Charles Nolte (p)
16 – [22] Michael Tarsi (p)
17 – [23] Mark Dolenc (of)
18 – [24] Deibinson Romero (3b)
19 – [25] Gary Lucas (pitching coach)
20 – [26] Brad Tippett (p)
21 – [27] Steve Hirschfeld (p)
22 – [28] David Bromberg (p)
23 – [30] Michael McCardell (p)
24 – [31] Blair Erikson (p)
25 – [33] Ozzie Lewis (of)
26 – [35] Brian Kirwan (p)
27 – [37] Santos Arias (p)
28 – [39] Nelson Prada (manager)
29 – [40] Loek Van Mil (p)
30 – [‘08] Kazumasa Manabe (strength coach)
31 – [‘08] Alan Rail (trainer)
32 – [‘08] Snappy D. Turtle (mascot)

The Class Low “A” affiliate of the Minnesota Twins through 2010, the Beloit Snappers have sprinted to an early lead in the second half of the Midwest League’s Western Division after finishing the first half in third place. They play their home games at Pohlman Field in Beloit, Wisconsin. Home to just under 38,000 Snapper fans, the “Petunia City” is located at the confluence of the Rock River and Turtle Creek, and nearly straddles the mythical Illinois/Wisconsin border.

The cards in this set include a nice mixture of action and portrait shots featuring stunning photography framed by an eighth-inch white border. Player names along with the snazzy team logo and name are superimposed over the image of a bat rack along the lower margin of the cards. While not detracting from the overall appearance, this does lend itself for effortless reading of player names- even in low light situations.

This card of Brian Kirwan is fabulous not only because the photo is both in focus and well cropped, but also because the outfield signage helps capture the flavor of the ballpark. For instance, the Hormel Chili sign is likely significant to many Beloitians as they probably at least know someone with no more than a couple of degrees of separation from the Hormel plant. Beloit is also the birthplace of Korn Kurls, Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander and the speedometer. Both Chief Black Hawk and former Major League infielder Jerry Kenny once called Beloit home.

Another major plus with this set is the variety of backgrounds present. For example, the hibernating trees in the background of David Bromberg’s card not only provide a wonderfully neutral background ideal for autographing, but also serve as a stark contrast between the coldness of winter and the initial signs of spring- in this case, the onset of a new minor league baseball season.

Outstanding examples of the ten “portrait” cards included in this set are pitching coach Gary Lucas sporting his big league jacket, and catcher Jair Fernandez- apparently smiling after realizing that he will be one of few minor league catchers who will be recognizable on his baseball card rather than shot while completely covered with safety gear.

The 2008 Beloit Snappers team set also contains seven kool action cards that aren’t simply guys standing in the batters box waiting to take a hack. (Don’t worry, there are a few of those, but even they are well done.) A few good examples of these action shots include outfielder Ozzie Lewis about to grab a fly ball just shy of the warning track…

third baseman Garrett Olson judging a high hopper…

and catcher Greg Yersich playing first base and concentrating on a hit ball in an effort to make an inning-ending play to preserve a two-run lead for the Snappers. Sports photojournalists around the world over could take a lesson from this card and due their best to compose similarly creative shots that help tell the story they are helping preserve for the future.

Backs of the cards feature smart four-color printing with black stats and player bios over a grey and white background. Cards appear to have a semi gloss finish. Card stock is thin, but I would not characterize them as flimsy. Add thicker cards to the sparsely populated “wish list” for 2009.

I’ve encountered no evidence on the Snappers pocket schedule or website to indicate that these cards were given away to fans as one of this season’s game promotions. I believe the most interesting of the Snappers promotions has to be their “Must Win Miller Mondays.” According to the rules of that promotion, all fans attending games when the Snappers end up losing at home on a Monday receive free tickets to the next Wednesday home game. I wonder what will happen if the Snappers drop the final home game of the season on Monday, September 1st. Obviously, they MUST win that one! Right?

Fans of the Minnesota Twins, Midwest League baseball or simply well-designed baseball cards should not hesitate to snap up one (or more) of these team sets. 2008 Beloit Snappers team sets are available online directly from the team shop for $10 each. As of this posting, they also still have team sets from 2007, 2006 and 2001, in addition to Midwest League Top Prospects sets from 2008 and 2004. Order one for your collection today! I haven’t had the opportunity to review previous Beloit Snappers team sets, but I would not be surprised to discover that this isn’t the first time they’ve knocked this product out of the park.

The same set is moving at $14.00 on the secondary market, while a nearly complete autographed set recently sold for $38.00 on eBay.

Subjectively yours,

– Kris

2008 pacific coast league top prospects set review

June 21, 2008

2008 Pacific Coast League Top Prospects
Official Score – 6-4-3 DOUBLE PLAY
Manufacturer: MultiAd Sports
Release Date: June 2008
Retail price: $ 10.00 (most PCL team shops) and up (secondary market)

You would be hard pressed to locate a set of minor league baseball cards loaded with more talent than the 2008 PCL Top Prospects. If you don’t recognize the majority of the names as you read through the checklist, then I would suspect that your fantasy baseball team is probably in a world of hurt.

1 – Checklist: 36 cards
2 – Brett Carroll (of) – Albuquerque Isotopes
3 – Eulogio “Frankie” De La Cruz (p) – Albuquerque Isotopes
4 – Greg Reynolds (p) – Colorado Springs Sky Sox
5 – Seth Smith (of) – Colorado Springs Sky Sox
6 – Ian Stewart (inf) – Colorado Springs Sky Sox
7 – Emmanuel Burriss (inf) – Fresno Grizzlies
8 – Patrick Misch (p) – Fresno Grizzlies
9 – Sam Fuld (of) – Iowa Cubs
10 – Sean Gallagher (p) – Iowa Cubs
11 – Jon Meleon (p) – Las Vegas 51s
12 – Xavier Paul (of) – Las Vegas 51s
13 – Mitchell Boggs (p) – Memphis Redbirds
14 – Chris Perez (p) – Memphis Redbirds
15 – Colby Rasmus (of) – Memphis Redbirds
16 – Hernan Iribarren (inf/of) – Nashville Sounds
17 – Luis Pena (p) – Nashville Sounds
18 – Michael Abreau (inf) – New Orleans Zephyrs
19 – Adam Bostick (p) – New Orleans Zephyrs
20 – Eric Hurley (p) – Oklahoma Redhawks
21 – Doug Mathis (p) – Oklahoma Redhawks
22 – Luke Hochevar (p) – Omaha Royals
23 – Chris Lubanski (of) – Omaha Royals
24 – Tyler Lumsden (p) – Omaha Royals
25 – Matt Antonelli (p) – Portland Beavers
26 – Chase Headley (of) – Portland Beavers
27 – Mark Saccomanno (if) – Round Rock Express
28 – Chad Reineke (p) – Round Rock Express
29 – Carlos Gonzalez (of) – Sacramento RiverCats
30 – Gio Gonzalez (p) – Sacramento RiverCats
31 – Nick Adenhart (p) – Salt Lake Bees
32 – Brandon Wood (inf) – Salt Lake Bees
33 – Wladimir Balentien (of) – Tacoma Rainiers
34 – Jeff Clement (c) – Tacoma Rainiers
35 – Emilio Bonifacio (inf) – Tucson Sidewinders
36 – Max Scherzer (p) – Tucson Sidewinders

The set contains 16 pitchers, a single catcher, 1 league logo card /checklist, and 18 infielders and/or outfielders. It is quite possible that this will represent the final minor league card for a number of these gifted players.

I’m not sure who selected the players included in the set, but I would hazard a guess that the decision was left to the individual teams. The PCL opted to go with a brownish-maroon variation of MultiAd’s (Style F) template. I say brownish-maroon for lack of a better description. The color is completely off the Munsell Soil Color Charts– coming closest to 10R 3/4 (“dusky red”). RBG values are 116, 52, 66- html color value = 743442. Not that any of this matters, I suppose, since it “works.”

Additional research is needed to determine whether MultiAd actually offers thicker card stock to customers. However, I am a bit hesitant to call them and ask as I suspect I will be disappointed if I am confronted by the reality that these cards don’t HAVE to be as flimsy as they are. It is a shame that the keystone set for the PCL isn’t printed on thicker cardstock- especially given the higher than average price tag associated with the set.

The card backs consist of two-color (black and brownish-maroon) printing over white matte, player stats, short bios and miniature grayscale representations of the images found on the card fronts. The non-glossy surface is nice because the cards do not require special preparation prior to autographing.** That said, getting this entire set autographed will prove quite a challenge given the number of players that are already contributing to major league teams. Of course, the best graphers enjoy a good challenge.

On average, the images used on the cards range from good to very good. Coming up short of the low end of the average, the images of two of the three Omaha Royals players, Luke Hochevar and Tyler Lumsden, are screaming for a “do over” as they are out of focus. There is enough going on in the background of the Chris Lubanski card that it passes as average.

For comparison, the above-average cards in the set (ranked in order of image clarity and overall composition) include Nick Adenhart, Sam Fuld, Eulogio “Frankie” De La Cruz, Brandon Wood and Michel Abreu.

The photo used in the creation of Nick Adenhart’s card is arguably the clearest in the entire set. This shot has me anticipating an absolutely wonderful 2008 Salt Lake Bees team set.

Kudos to the photographer responsible for shooting the Iowa Cubs players! Probably no Ansel Adams, but this person appears to have a keen eye for framing a great shot- pulling the viewer into the game and capturing the intensity on Sam Fuld’s face as he appears to be eager to add even more dirt to his uniform.

** This scan of Frankie De La Cruz’s 2008 PCL Top Prospects card demonstrates that even non-glossy card surfaces can result in a smudged autograph if the player immediately slides it under a second card after signing.

Again, this photo of Brandon Wood launching a moon shot has me looking forward to reviewing the Salt Lake Bees team set. Nicely done!

Michel Abreu… focused and in focus- that’s what I’m talking about!

After considerable study and reflection, I ended up scoring this set as a “6-4-3 DOUBLE PLAY”- extremely useful, yet somewhat routine. A solid defensive effort that lacks originality and leaves many fans questioning whether the second baseman actually touched the bag, or if the umpire had better things to do and was in a hurry to hit the shower. All things considered, I recommend picking up this set of cards, and tucking them safely into individual penny sleeves.

Subjectively yours,

– Kris

* Don’t forget that Las Vegas will be hosting the 2008 Baseball Winter Meetings (December 8-11)!

media daze

April 3, 2008

So you’ve never been fortunate enough to attend a professional ballclub’s media day and are curious as to what goes on? This entry may serve to clear that up for you as does stirring the edge of a brackish pond with a weathered tree branch… but at least it is something. Besides, I have photos.

The Albuquerque Isotopes 2008 Media Day was held on the final day of March, appropriately enough at Isotopes Park. The event was a welcome ending to my winter long exercise of trying to guess the names of the players who would make the opening day roster.

First task on the agenda was to secure my credentials. Sure, most of the people working at the ballpark know me, but it is the best policy to be properly identifiable from a distance as opposed to running the risk of meeting a new trigger-happy security guard itching to try out his new taser on the first person who steps onto the field without a badge.

My main duty of the day was to snap a couple of decent headshots of each of the players that for display on the ballpark’s jumbotron during the pregame lineup PA announcement, during each player’s at bat, or while relief pitchers are on the mound making warm-up tosses.

We set up shop in a portion of the clubhouse and used a green screen behind the players to make editing easier. It was a fantastic time greeting the players returning from last season… “Hello Eric (Reed),” “How’s it going John? (Baker and Gall),” “Hope you had a nice winter Daniel (Barone),” “What’s the frequency Kenny? (Baugh),”and “Are you ready to pitch in a couple of games again this year Andrew? (Beattie).” These guys all remembered the drill from 2007, and moved through quickly- eager, I’m sure, to get outside and onto the field.


Albuquerque Isotopes outfielder Alexis Gomez

I was able to break the ice with the players I had seen last autumn in the Arizona Fall League (Brett Hayes, Jai Miller and Scott Nestor) by welcoming them to Albuquerque then asking them to give me a roughly three-quarter angle pose with a look over their shoulder.

After I got the photographs I needed, each player had to have a video shot for the same purpose. The thing I like about the videos is that they allow for creativeness pretty much only limited by each player’s imagination. For some I would “help” by tossing a baseball to a pitcher who would catch it then toss it into his glove a few times, or into the air several times, or over his shoulder and into his glove from behind the back while not taking his eyes off the camera. I also tossed a bat to a number of the hitters who would catch it then take a few practice swings, or inspect it for defects, or go into their batting stance- trying to look mean without cracking a smile.


Albuquerque Isotopes pitcher Marcus Gwyn

All in all, it was a delightful anthropological study of the players, including the new pitchers whom I won’t see much of again once they move into their summer home (ie., the left field bullpen): Marcos Carvajal, Eulogio De la Cruz, Marcus Gwyn, Gaby Hernandez, Robert Keppel, Joe Nelson, Chris Seddon, Brandon Villafuerte, Doug Waechter and Randy Williams.

The last thing the players were asked for was their selection for a walk up song. I would say that about half of them were prepared with a song title and artist. Some even knew the exact time of the song they wanted the dj to play. The rest of the players promised they would think it over and arrive at a decision before the home opener. I won’t go into details now as it seems like a good stand-alone blog post for a future date. However, I can tell you that Isotopes fans are going to be hearing a good amount of AC/DC, Black Sabbath and Earth Wind & Fire this summer.

By the time I wrapped up my shoot, all of the players had made it out to the field and were either being interviewed by newspaper, radio and television reporters, or were standing around in small groups talking about things that guys talk about… sports, women and cars.


Albuquerque Isotopes infielder Chris Barnwell being interviewed.

Eventually the players, coaches and trainers assembled in deep centerfield for their team photo. Obviously the bad news for autographers was the Isotopes decision to once again wear black jerseys on media day. This act pretty much ensures that at least half of the baseball cards in the team set will be lousy for getting signed (assuming, of course, that those players are still around when the cards are released on June 12th).


A short meeting followed the team photo shoot. Taking my queue from the members of the mainstream media, I steered clear of the meeting like a thirsty zebra observing a pride of lions at a shrinking water hole.


I continued to chat with reporters while the players ran through a series of stretching and throwing exercises. Some of the reporters wanted to talk about baseball, fantasy baseball, baseball cards, women and cars, but the vast majority seemed more concerned with when they were going to be fed by the Isotopes.


I moved in close for infield and pitching/catching drills, and even closer for batting practice. I hung around the cage for the duration of the practice session while trying the various settings, filters and functions on my new lens. If you’ve never had the opportunity to stand next to a batting cage while professional hitters take their best hacks, you REALLY need to begin working on your strategy to make that happen. Trust me! Who knows, you may be only a blog away…


Albuquerque Isotopes catcher John Baker


Albuquerque Isotopes infielder Dallas McPherson

After watching the newest position players (Chris Barnwell, Tagg Bozied, Brett Hayes, Chase Lambin, Dallas McPherson, Lee Mitchell and Alexis Gomez ) swing away at offerings from pitching coach Rich Gale, hitting coach Steve Phillips and manager Dean Treanor, I wish to urge all fans planning on watching games from the outfield berm to make sure you take your mitt with you to the park. You are going to need it!


Albuquerque Isotopes infielder Tagg Bozied

I was without question the last media representative standing. I’m not sure if that is because I had neither a definitive story I was working on, nor a deadline- or if it was because winter had officially ended and I just wanted to soak up as much of the atmosphere that the day could provide.

– Kris