Friday, October 11, 2013

Andy Pafko 1921-2013

By Dan | @DGood73

Andy Pafko was Number One.

The 1940s and 1950s All-Star outfielder - who died this week at the age of 92 - forged a respectable career, contributing to pennant-winning squads in Brooklyn and Milwaukee.

But Pafko's most enduring legacy was built by rubber bands and bike spokes.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

When old was new again: The Senior Professional Baseball Association's cardboard impact

By Dan | @DGood73

Walking away is the hard part.

For most Major Leaguers, a love of baseball emerges in childhood, when growth is measured in glove sizes.

Eventually the field dimensions change. The crowds grow. Pitches accelerate and dip and curve. Checks start coming in.

You spend a lifetime competing, icing and taping and rehabbing, traveling across the country, signing autographs for faceless fans, trying to fully master the game ... and as your mental approach peaks, the physical skills disappear, age's bitter grip taking away the thing that defines you.

All too soon, the boys of summer and men of fall become seniors in winter.

A few decades ago, card companies tried to capitalize on those seniors, players who weren't ready to give up their on-field dreams. The Senior Professional Baseball Association didn't last long - didn't even make it through a second season - but due to licensing freedoms and name recognition, five sets were devoted to the old-timers between 1989 and 1991.

The hoopla seems foolish today. Who was clamoring for another Dave Kingman card ... in a West Palm Beach Tropics uniform?

The midsections were softer. The hair was thinner and grayer. But the names were the same, the stars of the 1970s and 1980s momentarily together again, glimmers of past sunlight keeping us warm for a few more minutes.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Welcome back, Manny Ramirez

By Dan | @DGood73

Manny Ramirez, the homer-bashing, baggy-uniformed, attendant-pushing, awe-inspiring, steroid-tainted, once-in-a-generation slugger, is back in the Major League pipeline, signing with the Texas Rangers and assigned to AAA Round Rock.

The assignment follows his stint with the EDA Rhinos of the Chinese Professional Baseball League. Manny plans to trim his dreadlocks to comply with the Rangers' team rules.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

John Daly, football kicker?

By Dan | @DGood73

John Daly remains larger than life.

Big, booming drives. Out-sized personality.

But a football kicker?

Yes, golfer John Daly was named an alternate kicker on the 1991 All-Madden Team. George Foreman was also included as the squad's "eating coach," whatever that entails. The honor provided Daly with his first trading card – an Action Packed issue that shows the golfer lining up a putt, a gold foil leather helmet in the card's corner.

After years of inconsistency, Chris Davis has finally put it all together

By Dan | @DGood73

Chris Davis has finally put it all together.

Through his first 57 games this season, the Orioles first baseman has destroyed opposing pitching, ripping 20 home runs and batting .355. Both of those totals rank near the top of the American League leaderboard, the type of production the Rangers had hoped for during Davis's early big-league days.

"Crush," as he's nicknamed, always had tape-measure power.

Hitting the ball was the problem.

Friday, May 31, 2013

My issues with rookie cards (And why I enjoy Topps Archives football)

By Dan | @DGood73

I miss the simpler times.

It's difficult to pinpoint when investment eclipsed innocence, but a series of flash-points triggered our current collecting landscape. The Ty Cobb T206 card. Junior Griffey's Upper Deck smile. Autographed Baseball Heroes cards. Embedded game-used materials. Grading popularity.

Rookies, rookies rookies ...

Last year's football products were stuffed with rookie card potential - the first appearances of once-in-a-generation talents such as Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck. A handful of other rookies stood out too, such as Russell Wilson and Doug Martin, Justin Blackmon and Alfred Morris.

That's six special (investment-worthy) players. What about the nearly 200 others?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Lamar Odom shows off his cards on a 1999-00 Skybox Apex promo card

By Dan | @DGood73

No, he never really was "Magic Johnson with a jump shot."

That's how a rival NBA coach described Lamar Odom on the back of a 1999-00 Skybox Apex promotional card. The card shows Odom posing with cards after being named a Fleer/Skybox spokesman, joining Keith Van Horn and Stephon Marbury. Interesting spokesperson lineup, eh? I picked up the card - numbered to 2,000 - at a recent card show for $3. The cards-within-a-card perspective drew me in.

Odom was 19 years old at the time the card was released, an emerging rookie presence for the Clippers. He still plays for the Clippers today - with additional stops with the Heat, Lakers and Mavericks - but he's a 33-year-old role player now, trying to win another ring (he already has two).