Posts Tagged ‘the future’

cards your great grandmother didn’t throw away

December 12, 2010

Yesterday, December 11, 2010, marked the 135th anniversary of the birth of Roy A. Stamm. Odds are stacked against you having heard of this man before, but considering that you are reading this blog, I would imagine that you would have shared some common ground with him.

Roy Stamm and friends circa 1890

Given my interest in most things historic, I always have an eye peeled for early mentionings of baseball and baseball cards. As a result of my ongoing research, I have amassed a sizable database of historical accounts of the origins of baseball in the New Mexico Territory, including the names and addresses of businesses and homes associated with people who either played baseball or had their hand in the industry in one manner or another… saloon owners, tobacconists, printers and photographers are prime examples of historical folks I collect data on. The bottom line is that you simply cannot know when that sort of information will prove valuable, even though your hunch tells you that you should try to only have to sift through the written archives once. At any rate, I’ve already gone further into all of that than I intended to do here.

With little spare time to spread around, I sometimes must make a decision to ignore the stacks of unsorted baseball cards on (or near) my desk, and pick up a book instead. The result can prove both entertaining and informative. The written account of Roy Stamm’s life struck me like an unexpected bubble envelope stuffed full of baseball cards off my want lists. Although Stamm completed his work in 1954, “fOR ME, THE SUN: The Autobiography of Roy A. Stamm, An Early Albuquerque Business Leader,” the book wasn’t published until 1999, some 42 years following his death.

Stamm the man, his book and his balloon (1890)

The following except from the book followed an incident in 1882 in which a bully had tossed the author, then six-years-old, into a mud puddle on South Second Street in New Albuquerque and attempted to force him to eat a toad. I’m not sure which is worse, the incident or one’s mother finding out about it.

“She was of Puritan Massachusetts and Mohawk Valley Dutch ancestry and had taught school in Kansas. Outraged by this “plain evidence of racial resentment”, she saw that from that time on I rode my saddle horse during most of my childhood (I became so accustomed to this, I’d ride across the street instead of walking!).

This decision was all right with me. Forbidden to play tops or marbles “for keeps” and ordered to hold myself, literally, “above those bad boys,” I used this easy transportation to reach the tremendous distinction of owning the “third largest cigarette picture collection in town.” The first and best belonged to a black boy whose father and brothers were porters in saloons; the second, to a newsboy. Their inside sources of supply were partially balanced by my ability to move around and to trade for pictures desired by others to complete their sets.

All of which distressed mother but, fair minded, she allowed me to retain my well won trophies. No matter how strong and possessive a mother’s instincts may be, unless he is predisposed, a boy’s natural inclinations seldom will permit him to become “sissified.”

The only conclusion I am going to allow myself to draw from this segment of Stamm’s book is that card collectors of the past were as varied and passionate about the hobby as are card collectors of today- and most likely, the future. I did contact Roy’s son to tell him how much I enjoyed the book and to thank him for his efforts in helping bring his father’s words to print. We were not able to pinpoint which cigarette cards were contained within the collection, but I have been having a blast paging thru my copy of “American Tobacco Cards: Price Guide and Checklist” by Robert Forbes and Terence Mitchell and wondering about what treasures may have been contained within Stamm’s collection.

Allen & Ginter: “American Indian Chiefs” and “American Editors” series

I think it is reasonable to predict that Roy may have been fond of the Allen & Ginter American Indian Chiefs series since he was an twelve-year-old boy growing up in the wild west when the cards were issued in 1888. As wonderful as these cards are, I feel the need to remind readers that many of the men featured on the cards were still alive when the amazing Linder, Eddy & Clauss lithographs were reproduced as tobacco cards. Even if Roy didn’t collect the Allen & Ginter American Editors (1887) cards, you can bet your bottom dollar that the Albuquerque newsboy did, and would have traded handsomely to complete his 50-card set.

Roy Stamm and his UNM football teammates (1894)

Roy Stamm led a fascinating life; regardless of what angle you choose to examine it. However, I will not be spoiling potential future book sales by stating whether or not he included more about tobacco cards or baseball as he drew from his extensive journal that he kept throughout his life. Stamm passed away two years after the release of 1952 Topps baseball cards, 10 years before the first Sharpie mark became permanent and decades before the dawn of blogging. I wonder whether he would have adapted to trading his cards via the internet, or if he would have stuck to his guns and traded only on horseback.

– Kris

mr. jones and me look into the future

December 24, 2009

Mitch Jones autographed his 2006 Topps 52 Rookie card for my collection during the first few days of his only season with the Albuquerque Isotopes. Over the course of the 2009 season, Jones launched 35 homers to capture the coveted Joe Baughman award and earned a $7,000 bonus in the process. You can bet that bonus was well spent on shelving to house all of the hardware Jones earned during the 2009 season including being named the Isotopes MVP, PNM Power Hitter of the Year, PCL All-Star and being added to the Topps Triple-A All-Star team. I probably forgot a few awards, but you get the idea…

Mitch Jones (2006 Topps 52 Rookies – no. 260)

In spite of the fact that Jones had a card in the 2006 Topps 52 Rookie set, he actually didn’t make his Major League debut until being called up to the Los Angeles Dodgers during June of the 2009 season. If Jones can heat up in the Florida sun this spring, chances are he will hit his first of many Major League bombs playing for the Atlanta Braves.

–  Kris

2009 albuquerque isotopes team set (P)review

June 17, 2009


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.


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.


(*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.




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.


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.


“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.


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

fun and games: Baseball Boss

April 2, 2009

If your understanding of what exactly constitutes a “baseball card” is anywhere close to mine, you may often find yourself trying to wrap your brain around the concept of “virtual baseball cards.” Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love reading other blogs that feature other collectors’ original trading card designs and retooled retro tribute artwork. In fact, I’m often guilty of that same creative process myself. However, each time I complete a design, or see a virtual card online, the thought that invariably creeps into my head is, “Well, that’s nice. Now what are you going to do with it?”

Let’s face it, the chances of a major trading card company picking up on a design style created by an “outsider” seems slim at best. Giving that designer credit or compensation then, would appear to be even less likely. Thus, if no one is ever going to actually print any of these unique cards, what purpose could they ever possibly serve?

Here is one positive application.

The brain trust behind Challenge Games has developed a nifty online baseball simulation game that utilizes virtual baseball cards as a major element of their product known as Baseball Boss. I was just introduced to this intriguing online game a short while ago, and I can already confirm that it is, well… completely addictive. If you like collecting baseball cards, the thrill of opening packs to see what you will get, and possess even the slightest interest in the history of baseball, I suggest you clear your social calendar.

The basic premise behind Baseball Boss is that you collect virtual baseball cards using various methods available within the application. That sounds like a fun time, right? Wait, there’s more! You use these virtual baseball cards to build a team (or teams) of your favorite players spanning the entire history of major league baseball. Once you have built your team(s) to your satisfaction, you enter into a fabulous cyber world of simulated games against teams from all across the globe. (I don’t think anyone is playing this game aboard the International Space Station… YET!) Baseball Boss features a number of different head to head play modes ranging from single game scrimmages; 3, 5 and best of 7-game challenges; and league play.

You are awarded tickets for playing other teams. You will want to beat those teams like an old carpet hanging over a clothesline. Tickets are currency that can be exchanged for more virtual packs, boxes and cases of virtual cards. Members are also encouraged to make TRADES with other owners, and Baseball Boss even contains an auction house where you can pretend that you have been unleashed on eBay with a monstrous PayPal balance.

Before I continue, I should point out that this game is FREE! It costs you nothing to sign up, get a few packs of virtual baseball cards and set up a team that is ready to begin playing. It is also true that you probably could have been doing all of this in less time that it has taken you to read this far. For those of you high rollers who don’t like to do things that don’t cost anything, the accommodating folks at Challenge Games have also installed various options for anyone who would like to give them some money. I’ll let you discover those options at your own pace.


The virtual Simpsons-themed baseball cards featured here are an example of a new product that was released to unsuspecting Baseball Boss members on Wednesday, April 1st. Throughout the month of April, you can challenge a team called the Springfield Nukes to a head to head match up. Each time you defeat them, you get to add one of 14 limited “Homer at the Bat” inspired virtual cards to your collection. These 14 cards include 9 Major League Baseball players such as Ken Griffey Jr., Jose Canseco, Darryl Strawberry and the great and powerful Ozzie Smith, as well as 5 cards featuring the online game developers. Collect all 14 and you also win another pack of virtual baseball cards to help beef up your team.


The Baseball Boss marketing folks have described their unique product as “iTunes meets baseball cards.” In doing so, I believe they have sold themselves short. Instead, I would describe the concept as 1910s Baseball Game Reproducer meets Strat-O-Matic for a pick-up Wiffleball tournament inside a Marx Toys warehouse that is raided by the entire membership of the Society for American Baseball Research just as Goose Joak begins singing the National Anthem. This definitely isn’t your father’s fantasy baseball! I do believe that I already mentioned it is FREE to register to participate in Baseball Boss, so once again I am astounded to discover that you are still reading this instead of checking out the website for yourself.


The only reason I can think of that you are still hanging on is the hope that I will provide you with a peek at a little of the game action. Okay, you’ve earned it. But just a peek!


If you are thinking that I may have set up a baseball diorama and taken photos to mess with your head, I appreciate that you believe I have that much free time at my disposal. In virtual reality, this image shows you a still of the LIVE ACTION of Brady Anderson hitting a sacrifice fly to center field in the bottom of the 11th inning to plate Bobo Osborne. This run resulted in a win for relief pitcher Mike Fetters of the Albuquerque Aardvarks (my team) while Charlie Haeger got charged with the loss. How about that scoreboard? If you like virtual baseball cards, you are going to be a huge fan of this scoreboard. While the live game action isn’t “perfect,” it remains highly entertaining.


This is a fragment of the series summary page. This gives you line scores of each game, as well as hitting and pitching leader boards for the series. Full box scores are available and usually quite interesting to read. You’ll need to provide your own Cracker Jack, but otherwise, Baseball Boss has you covered.

If you aren’t sold on this game yet, let me add that the simulations can run year-round, and are not impacted by the dreaded All-Star break, player walkouts, owner lockouts or winter. It is like a perfect world made better! Baseball Boss comes complete with official licensing from MLB Advance Media and permission from the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, so you can trust that it is the real deal.

Drop me a line when you get your team registered. I am looking forward to completing some virtual trades with you readers, and I will eagerly accept all challenges.

– Kris

happy birthday boy scouts of america

February 8, 2008

What better time to announce one of the goals of the Aardvark Trading Company than on the 98th anniversary of the founding of the Boy Scouts of America?

It was on this date in 1910, that W.D. Boyce, a Chicago area publisher, founded the BSA. Legend has it that Boyce had benefited from the generosity of a Scout performing his duty in London, England the year before, and was very impressed by the Scout Movement that had been organized by Robert Baden-Powell at Brownsea Island, England in 1907. Scouting has flourished in America ever since.

Everyone who collects baseball cards realizes that fewer and fewer kids are getting into the hobby today than in the past. The reasons for this trend are numerous, and it would prove a time-consuming waste of effort to start pointing fingers at the technological advancements being made in other industries such as skateboarding and video gaming. And I’m not buying the excuse that kids aren’t collecting cards because of the use of steroids in baseball.

Philosophical collectors are reaching the conclusion that if younger generations fail to develop an interest in the hobby, the demand for all those cards they’ve been carefully storing in protective sleeves and binders could dry up right around the time they plan on retiring. As a result, we will be left sitting alone with our stacks of boxes of cardboard covered with photos and stats of baseball players that no one has ever heard of. Slowly but surely, old baseball card collectors will become as crazy as the “cat woman” living next door as we try to comprehend how an Albert Pujols rookie card suddenly is as worthless as an off-center 1981 Donruss Lenn Sakata card.

The bottom line is that museums such as the Smithsonian Institution and the Baseball Hall of Fame will probably only be interested in one of each card for their type collections. Unless the trend changes, even Topps will be forced to rethink their policy of buying back old baseball cards to insert into packs when the only merchandise selling is 50-year anniversary reprints of Harry Potter cards. Of course this brings to mind the Boy Scout motto: “Be Prepared.”

But what can be done? Surely a single person can do nothing, right? WRONG!

We were elated to learn of the partnership between the Major League Baseball Players Association and the Boy Scouts of America that allows youngsters to earn achievement awards and merit badges by collecting cards, creating displays to share at meetings, and demonstrating a knowledge of different aspects of the hobby. I think we can all agree that once the baseball card bug has bitten you, there is no cure.

We believe that it is such a great idea that we immediately sent off our application for consideration to serve as guides along the trail that has become overgrown and difficult to navigate. We are hopeful that we will be selected to help support Albuquerque area kids as they discover the joys in something that is so meaningful to us.

While performing our good deed, I suspect that we will learn many new things about trading cards as we observe the decisions made by new collectors.

– Kris