Posts Tagged ‘minor league baseball’

giles & cole – more arizona fall league tales

October 16, 2010

Are you aware that for a mere six bucks you have the opportunity to meet the most promising young talent professional baseball has to offer, often before the players become household names or show up on most fantasy baseball managers’ radars? Seriously! They call it the Arizona Fall League. That same six dollars (U.S.) allows you to sit comfortably in relatively empty stands in a variety of Phoenix’s Spring Training facilities and learn more about the game of baseball while chatting to people who have been heavily invested in the business their entire lives. Oh yeah, the games are generally pretty entertaining contests as well.

Marcus Giles (2000 Arizona Fall League – no. 14)

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that Marcus Giles needs no introduction. What is important to take away from this discussion is that this is the type of player fans get to enjoy when they attend ballgames in the Arizona Fall League. Have you checked out the team rosters for this season?

The other important note I wanted to make is that Marcus’ older brother Brian attended several games to support him after the Pittsburgh Pirates 2000 season had ended. This is only an example of  course. In a nutshell, Fall League fans consist primarily of scouts, graphers, player family members and/or present and former big league players and managers.

Brian Cole (2000 Arizona Fall League – no. 10)

Obviously, appearing in AFL games doesn’t guarantee that a player will ever make it to the majors, as any of a number of roadblocks can derail a player’s career- or worse. Considered a top prospect for the New York Mets, outfielder Brian Cole was killed after being ejected from his SUV in a single car accident only five months after he signed his Arizona Fall League baseball card for my collection. I recently observed that the lawsuit surrounding Brian Cole’s death was recently settled– just nine and a half years after the accident that occurred at the end of Spring Training in 2001. Cole’s family reportedly received $131 million in actual damages from the Ford Motor Company prior to punitive damages consideration by the Jasper County, Mississippi jury that tried the case for the third and final time. Baseball fans can only speculate how Cole’s 135 minor league stolen bases in 320 lifetime games would have translated at the major league level.

Arizona Fall League…. Major League Baseball’s best kept secret.

– Kris

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ndungidi & ginter – arizona fall league tales

October 14, 2010

I thought a post was called for in honor of the opening of the 2010 Arizona Fall League (AFL) season this week. I will keep it brief, much like the AFL season itself. There are so many positives about the Arizona Fall League, it always gives me pause when a baseball fan confesses that they’ve never heard of it. That is a shame. I cannot think of a better value for true baseball fans than the AFL.

The Arizona Fall League no longer produces baseball cards much to the dismay of the autograph collectors who make annual pilgrimages to the Valley of the Sun each autumn. At any rate, here are a couple of baseball cards from the 2000 Arizona Fall League set to give you a slight taste of what they are/were all about.

Ntema Ndungidi (2000 Arizona Fall League – no. 26)

This Ntema Ndungidi card brings back fond memories of his teammates talking about what an interesting character “Pappy” was in the clubhouse. Reportedly some of his odd behavior included having in-depth discussions with his locker. When I asked Ntema to sign his card before a game, he complied by laying a cheese sandwich he was eating on the top of the concrete wall between us so he could use both hands to apply his signature. I do believe Ndungidi has one of the thinnest Sharpie autographs I’ve ever seen. Ndungidi’s professional baseball career ended in Canada in 2003 without having made a single MLB appearance. Still, not bad for a kid who didn’t pick up a baseball until after high school.

Keith Ginter (2000 Arizona Fall League – no. 15)

Keith Ginter on the other hand, made not only two Arizona Fall League teams (1999 and 2000), but also enjoyed his fair share of coffee in the bigs with Houston, Milwaukee and Oakland. While not as outrageous as Ndungidi, Ginter was reportedly one of five Astros who were tied up and robbed by two gunmen during Spring Training in 2000. I am assuming that the gunmen weren’t asking for autographs… While you likely have at least one of Ginter’s baseball cards in your collection, chances are that you don’t have this one.

I have no idea how many seasons Denton Hanna was employed to shoot all of the photos used in the AFL baseball card set, but he seemed to be a fixture at the various Fall League ballparks I visited. Hanna is a freelance photographer who has a pretty impressive list of clients that includes Topps and Major League Baseball. I am somewhat puzzled by the fact that his website doesn’t appear to have been updated since 2004. Thus, I will not be providing a link to it.

Hang on to your seats as I plan to feature more Arizona Fall League cards between now and the end of the season when I will be heading over to Phoenix to catch between 10 and 12 games.

– Kris

krismas day triple play

December 25, 2009

One of the neatest aspects of immersing oneself in minor league baseball is that doing so affords the opportunity to follow your favorite players for a longer period of time than if you had waited to “discover” them once they become an everyday player in the majors. Of course, this argument makes the assumption that your favorite minor league players not only make that leap, but also make it stick when they do.

Josh Wilson (2006 Topps 52 Rookies – no. 45)

Born within a Bill Mazeroski moonshot of Honus Wagner’s birthplace, shortstop Josh Wilson was destined to play ball. I first met Josh during the 2004 season when he joined the Albuquerque Isotopes. A completely likable fellow, Wilson approached both games and practices with determination to perform to the best of his abilities and to improve at every opportunity, making him one of my favorite players for the two seasons he was in town. The thing I like best about Josh’s character is that he even takes his clowning around seriously. Wilson would be a positive influence in any professional baseball clubhouse.

Josh Wilson (2006 Topps 52 Rookies – chrome no. TCRC12 1752/1952)

With that having been typed, the man himself has probably been involved in as many trades as have his baseball cards. Over a span of only five years, Wilson has donned major and/or minor league uniforms for the Marlins, Rockies, Nationals, (then Devil) Rays, Pirates, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Padres and Mariners.

Josh Wilson (2006 Topps 52 Rookies – chrome refractor no. TCRC12 305/552)

I hit the trifecta when Josh autographed all three versions of his 2006 Topps 52 Rookie card for me this past summer while back in the Duke City playing for the Tacoma Rainiers. If all goes well, he will return again in early April when the Seattle Mariners play a two-game Spring Training series against the Colorado Rockies at Isotopes Park. It will be a pleasure to watch him running, diving and making dazzling plays while wearing a Seattle uniform.

– Kris

clines cornered

November 1, 2009

Although I probably owe all readers who have spent any amount of time in New Mexico an apology for the title of this posting, I just don’t see that happening. Instead, let’s check out some kool baseball cards. These are all 1975 Topps cards that I got autographed in person during the 2009 season.

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Gene Clines – 1975 Topps no. 575

A hitting coordinator for the Los Angles Dodgers, Gene Clines made a few trips to Albuquerque during the 2009 season to help Isotopes hitters fine tune their approach at the plate. I was fortunate to have caught up with the “Roadrunner” after one of the games while he was hanging around outside the ballpark enjoying a smoke. Unfortunately, it was too dark for me to tell whether Gene was wearing the World Series ring he earned with the Pirates in 1971.

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Glenn Abbott – 1975 Topps no. 591

I’ve gotten cards signed by Glenn Abbott before, but I never had his 1975 Topps card when I’ve seen him. One of the advantages of completing a set is having a card of every player contained within on hand in the event that you get an opportunity to meet them. I still need a few cards to complete my 1975 Topps set, but luckily, I was able to pick this one up in a trade before the Portland Beavers visited the Duke City near the end of summer. Abbott pitched a perfect inning on September 28, 1975 against the (then) California Angels in what proved to be the first four-pitcher combined no hitter in Major League history.

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Don Money – 1975 Topps no. 175

Having set the major league record of consecutive errorless games at the hot corner at 86 with 257 opportunities during the summer of 1974, Don Money handled this card flawlessly after he agreed to autograph it for my collection. The four-time All-Star appeared in the 1982 World Series with the Milwaukee Brewers. Money is currently the manager of the Nashville Sounds. Don’s current signature is amazingly similar to the facsimile signature that was applied by Topps 34 years ago.

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Jim Slaton – 1975 Topps no. 281

Jim Slaton served as the Isotopes pitching coach during the 2009 season, so I had a great number of opportunities to get this card autographed. That does not mean that I appreciate it any less. A teammate of Don Money and the Milwaukee Brewers, Slaton won Game Four of the 1982 World Series.

– Kris

2009 quad cities river bandits team set review

July 24, 2009

2009 Quad Cities River Bandits team set

Official Score –  base-clearing DOUBLE

Manufacturer: Grandstand

Sponsors: Names Around Town Photography and Plaza Physical Therapy

Retail price: $ 8.00

What’s the name of that place in Iowa where the players walk out of a cornfield to play baseball and entertain adoring fans night after night? No, not THAT one. I’m talking about the ballpark whose right field skyline includes a monumental 70-year-old bridge that spans the Mississippi River. Yes, Modern Woodman Park, home of the Quad Cities River Bandits. The average fan visiting the facility from out of town would likely require a tour guide to inform them that the renovated stadium is actually 78 years old, making it one of the four oldest pro ballparks in use today.

Just between you and me, three-quarters of a century equals a LOT of baseball! Without a doubt, the Quad Cities (Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa; Rock Island, Moline, and East Moline, Illinois) fans have enjoyed many a fine ballgame in their backyard over the decades. The Quad Cities River Bandits are currently the Class A, Midwest League affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.

The 2009 Quad Cities River Bandits team set does not have an official checklist, so feel free to print out the one I’ve typed up and keep it with your cards.

Checklist: 30 cards

1 – Ace Adams (pitching coach)
2 – Jarred Bogany (of)
3 – Hector Cardenas (p)
4 – Dave Carpenter (p)
5 – Alex Castellanos (inf)
6 – Paul Cruz (of)
7 – Charlie Cutler (c)
8 – Gary Daley (p)
9 – Ramon Delgado (p)
10 – Steve Dillard (manager)
11 – Jon Edwards (of)
12 – Roberto Espinoza (c)
13 – Joe Kruzel (hitting coach)
14 – Brett Lilley (inf)
15 – Scott McGregor (p)
16 – Travis Mitchell (of)
17 – Osvaldo Morales (inf)
18 – Casey Mulligan (p)
19 – Arquimedes Nieto (p)
20 – Frederick Parejo (of)
21 – Andres Rosales (p)
22 – Chris Swauger (of)
23 – Miguel Tapia (p)
24 – Kevin Thomas (p)
25 – Guillermo Toribio (inf)
26 – Niko Vasquez (inf)
27 – Adam Veres (p)
28 – Brian Puchalski (trainor)
29 – Kevin Welch (strength & conditioning coach)
30 – Rascal (mascot)

I don’t think it is too big of a stretch for me to assume that Names Around Town Photography took all photos used in the 2009 Quad Cities River Bandits team set. The photos are for the most part very nice. The majority of the shots appear to have been thought out, and are unique throughout the set.

Divided into subsets, the 2009 Quad Cities River Bandits team set contains 3 cards of the field staff, 11 pitchers, 2 catchers, 5 infielders, 6 outfielders, and 3 non-baseball player cards (that will not be discussed further in this review). Here is the card of manager Steve Dillard. Nice action shot, and an interesting background to boot.

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Each of the cards featuring the Quad Cities River Bandits coaching staff would have been fantastic if some sort of reflector or fill flash had been used while shooting the close-up of hitting coach Joe Kruzel. But such lighting was not used, which leaves us with a pretty nice photo of the River Bandits logo on the front of his cap.

The 2009 Quad Cities River Bandits team set contains cards of eleven pitchers. This subset illustrates three different styles of River Bandits uniforms, contains a nice variety of different angles, in game photos, posed upper body shots and even the set’s first horizontally aligned card.

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This photo of Andres Rosales is perfect for use as a horizontal card. How about that grin folks? Sort of makes one wonder if Rosales is always in a great mood. Let’s check out the back of his card…

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Well, I guess this photo answers the question about whether or not Rosales is a constant ray of sunshine. A good team set will not only make you think of  questions, but will also answer them!

I’m including this scan of Arquimedes Nieto simply to increase this blog’s Google strength amongst web surfers hunting for the name “Arquimedes.” I do like the use of the outfield berm as the background, even though the result is that Arquimedes is a tad bit on the dark side. The photo is expertly cropped, allowing fans to see that Arquimedes is pitching while wearing a custom-made left shoe that looks exactly like the Quad Cities River Bandits logo. How wild is that?

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There are only two catchers included in the 2009 Quad Cities River Bandits team set, but the designer took full advantage of the opportunity to depict one catcher on defense and the other on offense. That is the equivalent of a one – two – three inning!

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The defensive-offensive ratio drops to 20/80 as you flip through the cards of the infielders. Even still, the different camera angles and backgrounds vary so much that each card is as refreshing as an ice cold Mountain Dew.

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Infielder Alex Castellanos appears to be watching a foul ball bounce off one of the five arches of Centennial Bridge and plop into the Mississippi River only to be eaten by a giant catfish rumored to lurk in that area.

For those readers scratching your heads wondering about this confounded bridge that I’ve mentioned a couple of times now, here it is in the background of Brett Lilley’s card. Obviously the 2009 Quad Cities River Bandits team set provides you with a golden opportunity if you want to own a card of the all-time NCAA leader in hit-by-pitches.

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One-third of the cards of outfielders in the 2009 Quad Cities River Bandits team set show players in the field while the rest were shot in the act of hitting or running the base paths. As with the other subsets, the outfielders show a nice range of the different River Bandits uniforms and provides numerous views of the ballpark, helping make this set a pleasure to flip though. Is it just me, or do players seem happier on horizontal cards?

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Structural engineers world wide must be salivating by the fact that the 2009 Quad Cities River Bandits team set contains more cards with images of a bridge than do the 2006-2009 Topps Allen & Ginter sets combined!

Card thinness is standard for a minor league set, and both sides have a semi-gloss finish. No surface preparation is necessary prior to obtaining autographs. The backs consist of four-color printing including typical stats, biographical data and very nice photos of players that are different from the photos on the front- a very classy touch that helps makes this team set a keeper in all leagues.

The 2009 Quad Cities River Bandits team set is a must have for all St. Louis Cardinals fans who enjoy following the careers of young players as they navigate their way upstream through the Cardinals farm system.

The set is available online for those of you who do not expect to be traveling through the Midwest at any point in the near future. You get all 30 cards mentioned and/or pictured in this review for $8.00. Shipping is right around six bucks, and you may be hit with sales tax. Heck, you might as well have them toss one of their 2008 team sets in your shopping cart for only five dollars and no additional shipping costs. I haven’t reviewed that particular set only because I do not have it.

–  Kris

……….

On a side note, I would be completely remiss as a historian if I failed to take advantage of this opportunity to hook you up with a link to a bit of the past of the Modern Woodmen of America. If you’ve ever been to a cemetery of any age, you’ve probably seen a distinctive grave marker of one of the members of the fraternal society and wondered what it was all about.

allen and ginterings

July 8, 2009

How do I prepare for the release of the 2009 Topps Allen & Ginter baseball cards? Well, for starters, I like to look back at the previous sets and marvel at what a fantastic product it is. Tired and in need of being retired? I think NOT. These cards are smokin’!

Of course, we’ve all seen them, and most even have the majority of at least the base cards. As such, plain ol’ base cards don’t merit scanning and posting here. Instead, here are scans of the various Topps Allen & Ginter cards I have gotten autographed in person over the past three months.

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Jeff Weaver – 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 167

It sucks that I’ve only gotten one card from the 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter set autographed in person this year. Of course, that is the main drawback to a product with a relatively small number of players included in it- most of them aren’t going to be appearing in many minor league games.

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Greg Reynolds – 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter no.139

Greg Reynolds applied his fantastic signature to his 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter card recently while passing thru town with the Colorado Sky Sox. In spite of how often I rant and rave about other baseball cards that I like to collect, I would be hard-pressed to name another product that “takes” an autograph as well as the Allen & Ginter cardstock.

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Jason Schmidt – 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 337

Jason Schmidt has been rehabbing with the Isotopes for a short while. If you aren’t sure what he looks like in street clothes, I suggest looking for the 6’4” dude surrounded by a group of people seeking autographs.

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Rich Thompson – 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter no.291

Rich Thompson was “down” with the Salt Lake Bees when they swarmed the Duke City earlier this season. Thompson is nothing short of all-serious on the mound, but an extremely pleasant player to talk to before he puts on his game face, or after his work is done for the evening. If you are wondering what the mini version of Thompson’s 2008 Allen & Ginter card would look like signed, here you go.

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Rich Thompson – 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 291 mini

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Brandon Wood – 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 312

For those of you who track such things, Brandon Wood seems to have doubled up and is now willing to sign two items per fan. I didn’t ask him why he had changed his routine when he was here with the Salt Lake Bees. I also saw him sign the sweet spot of a baseball this year. I found that significant because I once watched as he refused to sign the sweet spot for a fan during Spring Training in Tempe, Arizona, explaining that the sweet spot is reserved for the manager’s signature.

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Chin-Lung Hu – 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 22

Hold onto your caps, it’s a Chin-Lung Hu trifecta! First, a regular sized card signed in English then a second signed in Hu’s native Taiwanese. I’ve heard several people ask Hu to sign in Chinese, and the end result is the same. Listen, I’m a baseball card collector, not an orthograpist, so I don’t know which is correct. For all I know, asking a Taiwanese person to write in Chinese may be equivalent to calling a square a rectangle. Sure, I could ask Chin-Lung at some point, but I would rather congratulate him on a game well played while he is signing my cards.

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Chin-Lung Hu – 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 22 (Taiwanese auto)

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Chin-Lung Hu – 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 22 mini

Obviously there isn’t a heck of a lot of time for chitchat when Hu stops to sign his mini version of his 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter card!

Although I will be collecting the 2009 Topps Allen & Ginter baseball cards, I am undecided whether I will bust out of the gates with the new product, or wait and attack it with blaster boxes once they begin to filter into Target. More than likely I will invest my blaster box funds on a couple of Joel Rosario mounts at Hollywood Park Thursday in an attempt to parlay it into a hobby box.

– Kris

if you can’t pull ’em…

June 29, 2009

I’ve finally created and posted my want list for the 2009 Topps Heritage baseball card set I am working towards completing. In celebration of that milestone, I thought I would post scans of a few of the cards in the set that I have gotten autographed in person so far this season. I’m not overly bothered that I rarely pull a kool autographed card from my boxes, because each unsigned card represents the potential for obtaining an in-person signature.

Before I get to the autographed cards, here is the specimen that represents the 1960 Topps baseball set within my type collection.

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Tommy Davis – 1960 Topps no. 509

The rules pertaining to my type collection are pretty lax. Basically, I am working toward obtaining one card from as many different sets as I can, and acquiring them thru trading channels whenever possible. With that in mind, if you absolutely need this Tommy Davis card in your collection, make me an offer.

Onward with the autographs…

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Alcides Escobar – 2009 Topps Heritage no. 143

Alcides Escobar passed thru the Duke City last week with the Nashville Sounds. The fleet-footed shortstop prefers stealing bases to signing autographs, but will sign one per fan.

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Greg Golson – 2009 Topps Heritage no. 130

Greg Golson also will sign one autograph per fan. The Oklahoma City RedHawks outfielder does have a rather stylish signature, don’t you think?

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Chris Hayes – Royals Team – 2009 Topps Heritage no. 413

Team cards are swell for getting autographs of players who don’t have many baseball cards of their own. This particular signature belongs to pitcher Chris Hayes. Hayes will probably end up having a large number of baseball cards before his baseball career draws to a close.

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James McDonald – Dodgers Team – 2009 Topps Heritage no. 18

Team cards are also great for players who have cards, but you think merit more NOW! Case in point, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher James McDonald. The Dodgers were nice enough to loan McDonald to Isotopes fans for a few weeks during the first half of the season, but I don’t expect to see much more of him in the minors.

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Jason Repko – Dodgers Team – 2009 Topps Heritage no. 18

Deja different! Same card as above, but signed by outfielder Jason Repko. Currently playing outfield with the Isotopes, Repko is a standout ballplayer, and a heck of a nice guy. In case you are wondering, I also enjoy getting team logo cards signed by players, but you don’t see them being produced all that often. If you have minor league logo cards that you want to unload, give me a shout.

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Carlos Rosa – Royals Team – 2009 Topps Heritage no. 413

A few rough outings have resulted in some rather inflated stats for this young pitcher thus far this season. Unfortunately, Carlos Rosa performed very well during his appearances in Albuquerque. Rosa will continue to work on his stuff in Omaha until he can join their parent club in Kansas City.

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Angel Salome – 2009 Topps Heritage no. 121

Angel Salome’s card is great, and his autograph is pretty interesting, but you should see the guns on this dude! I have no idea how he manages to hold a Sharpie in his hands without crushing it. Currently catching with the Nashville Sounds, keep your eyes peeled for when Angel joins the Brewers.

Again, please visit my 2009 Topps Heritage baseball card want list on the Aardvark Trading Co. website. If you have cards I need, chances are I can help you out as well.

– Kris

join the (2008 topps stadium) club

June 22, 2009

Quick… what is more fun than purchasing a whole mess of 2008 Topps Stadium Club baseball cards at drastically discounted prices?

CORRECT- getting some of those cards autographed in person!

A handful of pages have been ripped from the calendar since I last discussed these cards. As I suspected, the cards look pretty sharp after the players have signed them. I already posted scans of Blake DeWitt’s autographed Stadium Club cards, so they will not be repeated here. With that in mind, first up are the five variations of the Chin-Lung Hu cards that I pulled together while trying to understand this product this past winter.

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Chin-Lung Hu 2008 Topps Stadium Club no. 133-a

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Chin-Lung Hu 2008 Topps Stadium Club no. 133-a 1st Day Issue (no. 187/599)

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Chin-Lung Hu 2008 Topps Stadium Club no. 133-b (no. 690/999)

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Chin-Lung Hu 2008 Topps Stadium Club no. 133-b 1st Day Issue

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Chin-Lung Hu 2008 Topps Stadium Club no. 133-b Photographer’s Proof (no. 44/50)

Carlos Gonzalez took a break from hitting home runs while in town with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox in order to autograph a few cards for me. Gonzalez was later called up by the Colorado Rockies.

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Carlos Gonzalez 2008 Topps Stadium Club no. 128-a

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Carlos Gonzalez 2008 Topps Stadium Club no. 128-b 1st Day Issue

Infielder Jonathan Herrera also visited the Duke City long enough to sign both variations of his Stadium Club cards.

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Jonathan Herrera 2008 Topps Stadium Club no. 122-a

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Jonathan Herrera 2008 Topps Stadium Club no. 122-b 1st Day Issue

In spite of being on the DL, Colorado Sky Sox pitcher Greg Reynolds seemed quite happy to affix his signature to both variations of his Stadium Club cards.

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Greg Reynolds 2008 Topps Stadium Club no. 122-a 1st Day Issue

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Greg Reynolds 2008 Topps Stadium Club no. 122-b 1st Day Issue

Slugger Sean Rodriguez visited Albuquerque with the Salt Lake Bees prior to being called up to the Los Angeles Angels. Not only did Rodriguez autograph his cards with a smile, but afterwards thanked me for coming out the to the ballpark.

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Sean Rodriguez 2008 Topps Stadium Club no. 131-a

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Sean Rodriguez 2008 Topps Stadium Club no. 131-b (no. 974/999)

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Sean Rodriguez 2008 Topps Stadium Club no. 131-b 1st Day Issue

I am still interested in picking up the rookie card variations that I don’t have, so please check out my want list before digging through your duplicates. I do have a few, and expect to have more duplicate autographed 2008 Topps Stadium Club baseball cards to trade to graphers who are working on this set. I may not revisit this product prior to the end of this season, so feel free to contact me if you have any questions or have a trade proposal.

2009 albuquerque isotopes team set (P)review

June 17, 2009

SPOILER ALERT !!!!

If you already have tickets or otherwise plan to attend the Omaha Royals – Albuquerque Isotopes game on Thursday, June 18, 2009 and do not want to see images of the 2009 Albuquerque Isotopes team set before you have one in hand, DO NOT continue reading. Instead, you should revisit this post after the game if you are interested in my thoughts on the cards.

On the other hand, if you are in the area and trying to decide whether or not you want to go, I urge you to read on and keep in mind that team sets will be distributed for FREE to the first 3,000 fans through the turnstiles. After that, team sets will be available for purchase in the stadium team shop, or via the internet.

………..

2009 Albuquerque Isotopes team set
Official Score – COMPLETE GAME two hitter
Manufacturer: MultiAd Sports
SGA date: Thursday, June 18, 2009
Retail price: tbd

After setting the bar high with their 2008 team set, the Albuquerque Isotopes certainly delivered a first pitch strike by including a checklist on the back of the team photo card- the first of 35 cards in the 2009 team set. The team photo features a crisp, bright image with the players dressed in white uniforms.

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1 – Isotopes team photo (checklist)
2 – Tim Wallach (manager)
3 – John Moses (hitting coach)
4 – Jim Slaton (pitching coach)
5 – Greg Harrel (trainer)
6 – Giancarlo Alvarado (p)
7 – Danny Ardoin (c)
8 – Henry Bonilla (p)
9 – Dee Brown (out)
10 – Nick DeBarr (p)
11 – Blake DeWitt (inf)
12 – A.J. Ellis (c)
13 – Shawn Estes (p)
14 – Sergio Garcia (inf)
15 – Charlie Haeger (p)
16 – Jamie Hoffmann (out)
17 – Chin-Lung Hu (inf)
18 – Mitch Jones (out)
19 – Hector Luna (inf)
20 – Luis Maza (inf)
21 – Brian Mazone (p)
22 – James McDonald (p)
23 – Eric Milton (p)
24 – Valentino Pascucci (inf)
25 – Xavier Paul (out)
26 – Miguel Piñango (p)
27 – Dwayne Pollok (p)
28 – Stephen Randolph (p)
29 – Jason Repko (out)
30 – Jovanny Rosario (out)
31 – Scott Strickland (p)
32 – Erick Threets (p)
33 – Jeff Weaver (p)
34 – Sophie
35 – Orbit (mascot)

The cards are non-glossy, and therefore require no surface treatment prior to autographing. The 2009 Albuquerque Isotopes team set utilizes MultiAd’s “Style O” template on the front, and “Style 4” template on the back. Card backs consist of two-color (black and red) printing over white matte, with player stats and short bios. Player headshots on the card backs are essentially a cropped, greyscale version of the image depicted on the fronts.

The light grey borders help lighten the overall appearance of the cards. The set contains one card each of the Isotopes coaching staff, trainer, mascot* and fan favorite Sophie. Manager Tim Wallach and his coaching staff are all depicted in black jerseys. I find Jim Slaton’s card the more engaging of the non-player cards. This card demonstrates that random candid shots make for better baseball cards than posed headshots.

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(*There is a non-numbered variation of the mascot card that is not included in the official team set. In a nutshell, the second card was printed with the set, but will be distributed by Orbit during “personal” appearances. If you ABSOLUTELY HAVE to have one, I would recommend asking in the team shop if you can purchase an uncut sheet.)

The 28 player cards include a nice mixture of different uniforms that helps keep the team set interesting. This mixture includes nine black, eight white, six red and five Dodger blue uniforms. Uniform aficionados should note that the blue uniforms are only worn during Sunday home games. Similarly, the team set contains generous helpings of prospects and major league veterans.

Half of the player cards in the set feature pitchers. With the exception of Charlie Haeger, all were shot on the mound. That does get a little monotonous, and it would be nice to see a photo of a pitcher laying down a bunt or running the bases while wearing an Isotopes jacket. Here are three examples that best demonstrate a need for a little more variation when it comes to cards of pitchers.

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The 2009 Albuquerque Isotopes team set contains two cards of catchers. Both Danny Ardoin and A.J. Ellis are featured in full gear near the plate. Unfortunately, Ardoin was sent to the disabled list soon after being forced to bend down in order to fit into his awkwardly cropped photo.

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The six cards of Isotopes infielders contain the best action photography in the set. This card of Blake DeWitt is a great example of the level of play Isotopes fans are treated to game after game.

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“Determination” would be an apt title for the outfielders subset. Again, excellent photography persists as is obvious in this fantastic shot of Jovanny Rosario scrambling back into first base to avoid being picked off.

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Whether you are a casual fan or a hardcore baseball card collector constantly on the hunt for night cards, mid-air moments or even umpires, the 2009 Albuquerque Isotopes team set offers something for everyone. You can bet that baseball fans all across Dodgertown will show an interest in the 2009 Albuquerque Isotopes team set given that eight players included in the checklist have either already spent some time with the NL West leading parent club or are currently on board for what is proving a magical season. There is no reason to suspect that the list won’t continue to grow as the season progresses.

This is going to be a fun and challenging set to get autographed!

– Kris

at dewitt’s end

May 19, 2009

Don’t get me wrong… I’m glad that the Dodgers decided to send Blake DeWitt down to Triple-A in order to get some at bats rather than predominately riding the bench in LA. However, if they don’t call him back up soon, I’m simply going to run out of cards for him to sign.

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Blake DeWitt – 2009 Topps Heritage no. 255

Regular playing time and hitting in a ballpark that favors batters slightly more so than does Dodger Stadium is proving to be as good for DeWitt as home cookin’. I believe that Blake’s .308 average, 18 runs scored and 9 driven in over 20 games with the Isotopes support this statement.

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Blake DeWitt – 2008 Stadium Club no. 127-a

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Blake DeWitt – 2008 Stadium Club no. 127-b

It is almost difficult to believe that DeWitt has been playing long enough that he even has a Topps Total card, or half of one anyway. What a fantastic product Topps Total was!

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Blake DeWitt – 2005 Topps Total no. 127

Well, I do have a couple of additional minor league cards Blake can autograph while we wait patiently for the 2009 Isotopes team set to be issued in just less than a month. Don’t forget to visit my want lists on the Aardvark Trading Co. website, especially if you have a bunch of cards of players you’ve never heard of that you would like to swap for cards of big leaguers that you do recognize.

–  Kris