BEST OF 2018: Behind the Cards: The Fred Hutchinson Story

As 2018 comes to a close, we want to take a moment to look back at one of our very favorite posts that we have ever shared on the COMC Blog. A long time COMC user graciously submitted this incredible career retrospective of Fred Hutchinson. We’re hoping to be able to share his writing with as many sports fan as possible. This story was originally published on 03/09/2018 and is presented in it’s entirety in this blog as well

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(Note from COMC: The following post comes to us from the desk of Stan Opdyke, a lifelong fan of the game of baseball who started collecting cards over 60 years ago. He has an affinity for the Baltimore Orioles, his favorite team in his youngest days. Through his involvement in the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Mr. Opdyke was inspired to research and write this brilliant look at the cards produced by the life and times of Fred Hutchinson. If you would like to submit your article to us for consideration to be published on our blog, please email us at staff@comc.com.)

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Fred Hutchinson

Fred Hutchinson, at the age of 18, began his professional baseball career in 1938 as a pitcher for his hometown Seattle Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League. Baseball cards were relatively scarce items at the time, at least in comparison to what they would become after World War ll, so unsurprisingly no baseball card of Hutch was produced in his first professional season.

Hutch was sensational for the Rainiers in 1938. Pitching most of the season as an 18 year old, Hutch compiled a 25-7 won/loss record and a 2.48 ERA. On his 19th birthday on August 12, 1938, he pitched before a standing room crowd at Seattle’s Sick’s Stadium in search of his 19th victory. Hutch got the win in a game that stands with the Edgar Martinez double that defeated the Yankees in the 1995 post season as one of the most iconic baseball games ever played in Seattle.

Hutch’s superb season drew the attention of major league teams and one of the two major producers of baseball cards in the 1930’s. On December 12, 1938, the Seattle Rainiers traded Fred Hutchinson to the Detroit Tigers for four players and $50,000 Depression era dollars. The huge outlay of cash undoubtedly influenced the Goudey gum company to include Hutch in its 1939 Premium set. The other major baseball card manufacturer of the era, Play Ball, did not issue a card of Hutch in 1939. 

1939 Fred Hutchinson Goudey Premium

The 1939 Goudey Premiums are listed in the 2013 Standard Catalogue of Vintage Baseball Cards in two distinct series, R303-A and R303-B. The R303-A cards are slightly smaller but otherwise identical to the R303-B cards. Both series of 1939 Goudey Premiums are unnumbered. Hutch appears in the 303-A series. The 1939 Goudey Premiums are baseball cards in that they were issued by a gum company and depict images of baseball players. However, in other ways they are not like baseball cards at all. The smaller sized 303-A cards still measure a very large 4 inches x 6 3/16 inches, far too large to fit in anyone’s shirt pocket. The Goudey Premiums also differ from typical baseball cards because they are printed on paper stock that is about the thickness of a newspaper page. The 1939 Goudey Premiums have the look and feel of a small poster.

The photograph Goudey selected to use of Hutch is a portrait of a teenager sporting a warm grin. It is a rare photo of a smiling Fred Hutchinson. When he grew older, Hutch was given the nicknames “The Bear” and “Old Stoneface,” quite a contrast to the photo on his 1939 Goudey Premium card.

Hutch struggled in 1939.  His trouble began in Spring Training when he lost the ability to throw strikes. His lack of control would have undoubtedly cost him a major league roster spot had the Tigers not invested so much money in him. However, because of the huge cash outlay, Hutch began the 1939 season in the major leagues.

Hutch made his major league debut in one of the most significant games in baseball history. The New York Yankees played against the Tigers in Detroit on May 2, 1939, and for the first time since May 31, 1925, the name of the legendary Lou Gehrig did not appear in a regular season box score. The Yankees scored early and often without Gehrig in the line-up. With the Tigers trailing 13-0, Hutch was brought into the game by Tiger manager Del Baker. Nothing went right for Hutch. Pitching just two-thirds of an inning, he surrendered four hits, five walks and eight earned runs.

Hutch was sent to the minor league Buffalo Bisons of the International League after his disastrous major league debut. His traditional pitching numbers (won/loss and ERA) were better in Buffalo than in Detroit, but in both the major and minor leagues in 1939, his performance significantly lagged the excellent season he had for Seattle in the Pacific Coast League in 1938.

1940 Team Issued Fred Hutchinson Buffalo Bisons card

Hutch’s demotion to the minor leagues led to his second appearance on a baseball card. In 1940 the Buffalo Bisons issued a team set of baseball cards. The 1940 Bisons cards are printed on thicker paper and are much smaller then the 1939 Goudey Premium cards. The unnumbered 1940 Bisons Fred Hutchinson card shows him winding up as if he is about to deliver a pitch. The photograph was obviously staged because the picture was taken on the grass in front of a dugout rather than on a pitcher’s mound.

Hutch pitched for both Buffalo and Detroit in 1940.  Detroit won the American League pennant in 1940 and Hutch was included on the Tigers World Series roster. He pitched one World Series inning against a team he would one day manage, the Cincinnati Reds. He allowed one walk, one hit and one earned run.

In 1941 Hutch, pitching for the Buffalo Bisons, turned in a performance reminiscent of his sensational 1938 season in the Pacific Coast League. He won 26 games for Buffalo in 1941 and in 284 innings he turned in an excellent 2.44 ERA. With such a stellar season behind him, Hutch seemed destined to earn a spot on the Tigers major league roster in 1942. World War II however intervened.

Hutch enlisted in the Navy shortly before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He served in the Navy’s physical education program. Hutch pitched for Navy teams in Norfolk, VA, Seattle, WA, and Hawaii, so during the war he was able to keep his baseball skills sharp.

The baseball players who served in the military in World War II returned en masse to organized baseball in 1946. Hutch was part of the 1946 waive of ex-servicemen returning to professional baseball.  He spent the entire year in 1946 with the Detroit Tigers. It was the first time he spent a full season in the major leagues.

1991 Reprint of 1947 Tip Top Bread Fred Hutchinson Card

In 1947 Hutch appeared for the first time on a post war baseball card. The Tip Top Baking Company issued several regional baseball card sets in 1947 to promote the sale of Tip Top Bread. The unnumbered cards feature black and white pictures with the player’s name, position, team and league affiliation printed underneath the photo. Hutch’s Tip Top Bread card features a close up portrait of him wearing a Detroit Tigers cap.

In 1948 Hutch did not appear on a baseball card. In 1949 two gum manufacturers, Bowman and Leaf, produced baseball cards of Hutch. Fred Hutchinson’s 1949 Leaf card is his highest priced card. The 1949 Leaf set is extremely difficult to complete. About half the cards in the set are short printed and Hutch’s card is among the short printed cards. His 1949 Leaf card in excellent condition is worth $900.00. By way of comparison two other Hutch cards that are also difficult to find, his 1939 Goudey Premium card and his 1947 Tip Top Bread card, have much lower prices. His Goudey Premium card in excellent condition lists at $75.00 and his 1947 Tip Top Bread card in excellent condition lists at $150.00. (All prices are from the 2013 Standard Catalogue of Vintage Baseball Cards.)

In 1950, Bowman was the only gum company to produce baseball cards. Hutch is included in the 1950 Bowman set. His 1950 Bowman card is derived from a painting that was transformed into a baseball card. The painting depicts Hutch at the very end of his follow through after delivery of a pitch. Bowman got good mileage out of the painting because they used again in 1951. That same year, Hutch was named to the American League All Star team. He pitched three innings in the 1951 mid-summer classic.

In 1952 Hutch made his first appearance on a Topps card. Topps produced its first baseball card set a year earlier, but in its initial set the company did not issue a card of Fred Hutchinson.  Topps made up for its 1951 omission by producing a magnificent card of Hutch in the 1952 set. Bowman again used a painting to create the front of its baseball cards. The artist hired to paint Fred Hutchinson must have noticed the look on Hutch’s face after he had surrendered a long home run.

The Tigers had a miserable year in 1952, almost as miserable as the look on Hutch’s face on his 1952 Bowman card. On July 5th, with the club in last place, Tiger manager Red Rolfe was fired and Hutch was hired to replace him. Hutch remained on the Tigers active playing roster after he took over as manager. He continued in his dual role as a player and a manager in 1953.

Both Topps and Bowman included a card of Hutch in their 1953 sets. Topps took a page from Bowman by using a painting as the template for the front of its 1953 cards. Bowman emulated Topps by issuing a larger baseball card in 1953 than it had produced from 1948 to 1952. (Bowman did not issue a card of Hutch in 1948).  The 1953 Bowman set is considered by most collectors as one of the best baseball card sets ever produced. Hutch’s 1953 Bowman card is representative of the picture quality that exists throughout the set.

Hutch retired as an active player after the 1953 season.  He managed the Tigers for one year after retiring as a player. Neither Topps nor Bowman included managers in their 1954 sets, so 1954 marked the first time since 1948 that Fred Hutchinson did not appear on a baseball card.
After the 1954 season ended Hutch informed the Tigers he wanted a two year contract. The Tigers refused to offer more than one year. The impasse led to Hutch’s departure from Detroit when he refused to sign the one year contact he was offered.

Hutch was out of a job, but he was not out of baseball. In 1955 he returned to his hometown to manage the Seattle Rainiers to a Pacific Coast League pennant.  A year before Hutch”s arrival, the Rainiers began issuing baseball cards to fans who purchased popcorn at the team’s home games. Seattle minor league teams issued popcorn cards every year from 1954 through 1968.  It is hardly surprising that Hutch, the popular hometown manager, was included in the popcorn cards the team produced in 1955.

In 1956 Hutch returned to the major leagues to manage the St Louis Cardinals.  Topps was the only gum company that manufactured baseball cards during the three years Hutch managed the Cardinals.

Topps did not issue a card of Hutch while he managed in St. Louis. Topps  included few cards of managers in the sets it produced from 1956 to 1958. Brooklyn’s Walt Alston and Philadelphia’s Mayo Smith were the only managers Topps included in its 1956 set.  No managers were included in the 1957 set. In 1958 Topps issued only two cards of managers, a card of Reds manager Birdie Tebbetts with two of his players, Frank Robinson and Ed Bailey, and a card on which managers Casey Stengel and Fred Haney appeared together.

Hutch enjoyed some success with the Cardinals. In 1957, St. Louis finished in second place, fueling expectations that the team would contend for the pennant in 1958. However in 1958 the Cardinals played poorly, and as a consequence, Hutch was fired shortly before the 1958 season ended.

In 1959 Hutch returned to Seattle to once again manage the Rainiers. His second stint with the club lasted only three months. He was in town long enough though to appear in the 1959 edition of Seattle Rainiers popcorn cards.

In the middle of the 1959 season, Cincinnati Reds manager Mayo Smith was fired. Hutch was chosen to replace him.  Hutch managed the Cincinnati Reds to a 1961 World Series appearance. As was customary, he served as the National League All Star manager the following year. As a result of managing in the 1962 All Star game, Hutch became one of about a dozen men in baseball history (Hank Bauer, Yogi Berra and Alvin Dark are a few of the others) to manage and play in a World Series and manage and play in an All Star game.

Hutch remained the manager of the Reds until deteriorating health caused him to take a leave of absence in 1964. Hutch appeared in each baseball card set Topps produced from 1960 through 1964.

In late December of 1963 Hutch was diagnosed with cancer. He died of the disease eleven months after he was diagnosed. Between diagnosis and death, Hutch managed the Cincinnati Reds for most of the 1964 season. The determination and courage Hutch displayed during his last baseball season is told by Bruce Markusen in his excellent Hardball Times article, available online, “The Final Year of Fred Hutchinson’s Life.”

Hutch resigned as the manager of the Reds in a letter he sent to team owner Bill DeWitt dated October 11, 1964. Exactly one month later he died in Bradenton, Florida.

Rich Reminisces: 1962 Mets

I mentioned in my previous column about how much I enjoy the YouTube page “Classic Baseball on the Radio“. While they have some games such as the World Series and All-Star games that you would expect them to have, the regular season games they also have are sometimes famous in their own right. One of those games is from the 1962 New York Mets season. Now when a team loses 120 games in a season, usually the fans leave in droves. But because those Mets were so lovable, they actually drew more fans than you would expect, considering how bad they were and the Polo Grounds location.

I say all that because there is a 1962 Mets/Cubs game saved which actually had two memorable moments before the 1st inning was even concluded. I had read about one of those moments when I was very young, but never knew it was not an apocryphal story, while the other was noted but still difficult to believe. By the way, last article’s subject Roger Craig does not appear in this game. In case you want the spoiler, here is the Retrosheet recap of the game on June 17, 1962.

The first of those two events occurred in the top of the 1st inning. You see a Cubs rookie by the name of Lou Brock deposited a homer into the Polo Grounds center-field bleachers.

Now it may not seem like hitting a homer into the bleachers is so special, but remember just eight years earlier, the most famous catch in baseball history occurred in those vast expanses of the Polo Grounds. If you have not seen this play and are a baseball fan at all, I’m shocked. The most amazing aspect of this catch was not just how far Willie Mays  ran to catch the ball, but the amazing spin and throw immediately afterwards. There was a runner on second base and despite how far the ball was slugged, the runner only got to third base.

Mays was such a great center fielder for so many years. More than 15 years later this next catch occurred. In some ways, this is a harder catch than the more famous effort:

The great aspect of the 1954 catch is how it is immortalized on this 1959 Topps card:

But going back to Mr. Brock, while today we think of him as a singles hitter who accumulated more than 3,000 hits in his career, during those early stages he would constantly be in double digits for doubles, triples and homers. During the 1967 season, which may have been his best season, Brock garnered 65 extra base hits, with 21 of those having left the ballpark.

He continued his hot hitting in the 1967 World Series, leading the Cardinals to their second World Championship in just four seasons. This 1968 card show his effect on those games:

When he retired,Brock had set the record for most career stolen bases. He was later elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

With that, the top of the first has been concluded but the real fun stuff occurs in the bottom of the first inning. As we noted, those 1962 Mets were on their way to 120 losses, and among their highlights they never won a game on a Thursday that season. While Roger Craig is the Dallas COMC official player, the most popular player on those Mets was a man named Marvin Eugene Throneberry whose initials spelled out MET. Somehow that all seemed appropriate as Marv was a decent player until he got to the Mets and then just imploded as a player.

Sadly, although some of the later additions to the 1962 Mets are immortalized on cardboard, we would have to wait until 1963 for Marv to receive his Mets card. Why is this 1962 game important to Marv’s legend? You see, in legging out a triple, Marv missed both first and second base on his way to third. When the appeal play at second worked, famed manager Casey Stengel went out to challenge the call, but one of the umpires informed him he also missed first base. The radio broadcast and retrosheet actually verifies this seemingly impossibility. Now, as a fledgling dealer in the 1980’s, I would have loved to have seen Marv on a 1962 card for today’s affordability reasons. I’m kind of glad he has attainable 1963 cards instead.

And almost 60 years later, having proof of both of these events saved on tape showed what I had heard about as a young child but always assumed was not true when it came to “Marvelous Marv”.  Thankfully Marv had a nice renaissance in his later years as he became one of the famed Miller Lite spokesmen. While he passed at the early age of 60, Marv is still a beloved figure for those who liked those early Mets teams.

Rich Klein can be reached at RichKlein@Comc.com

The First 100: Ranking Our Favorite Cards from Topps Living Set

This year Topps released a very unique and welcomed product named ‘The Living Set‘. Each week, three new cards are released into the set, which should theoretically never end. Each particular week’s cards are only available for that week and then never reprinted again. Current players can only have one card in the set unless they change teams. All cards are stylized after 1953 Topps, can feature current or retired players, and are created around the artwork of legendary sports card artist Mayumi Seto. Card #100-102 (week 34) were released last week, with #100 reserved for Babe Ruth. 

From the moment this set was unveiled, two of COMC’s employees were hooked on the concept, design, and the execution. Our Communications Manager James Good and Senior Business Analyst Grant Wescott each own a complete set up to this point in time and plan to continue to collecting the set as new cards are released each week. We asked them to choose their favorite 10 of the first 100 cards released in the set and give a reason why those cards resonated with them.

Grant Wescott:

“I’d wished for years Topps would produce an on-demand baseball set with the same, consistent design year after year, featuring only one player to a card, no parallels, and a checklist to eternity. The day Topps Living Set was announced was probably the best of my collecting life. Not only did they check all the boxes – that consistent design? None other than the most beautiful Topps set of all time: 1953. All meticulously hand painted by the talented Mayumi Seto. “

James Good

“In an industry that tries to consistently innovate by making cards flashier and more complex, the basic card stock and classic design of Living Set, as well as the focus on artwork, is a welcomed breath of fresh air. While I would prefer that Topps would let me pay for Living Set as yearly subscription service, as opposed to buying each week individually, there is a certain charm to the current format that plays well to my nostalgia for simpler times in the hobby. Just like opening a pack as a kid, there is that rush of excitement that comes with heading to Topps website each Wednesday to see who this week’s subjects are. I thought that sense of satisfaction was long gone in our day and age. Bravo Topps.”

What are some of your favorite cards in Topps Living Set so far? Who would you like to see featured in the next 100 cards? Do you have a set of your own? Let us know what you think about The Living Set in the comments below!

[COMC Tutorial] All About The Rookies

Rookie cards are among some of the most coveted cards in the trading card hobby. Unfortunately, the hobby does not have a fool-proof system for conveying what is and isn’t a true rookie card. What some collectors might consider to be a true rookie card, others would not. One of the most commonly asked questions that our Customer Service Team receives is the following:

“What is the difference between the Pre-Rookie Card, Rookie Card, Rookie Year, and Rookie Related search filters on COMC?”

Today, we seek to answer that question by explaining our search filter designations for rookies in detail, using examples and cards that you’re probably familiar with, and some that you might not be.

Rookie Card 

The red-colored ‘RC’ tag on COMC is reserved for cards that are recognized as true rookie cards. To satisfy the designation of RC, a card must:

  • Depict a player in their pro uniform
  • Be licensed by both the league and players association
  • Come from a standalone nationally distributed set
  • Come from a base set
  • Be released after the player’s top-level debut

Some of the sets that we see as producing true rookie cards include Topps Base Set, Topps Chrome, Panini Prizm Basketball, and Upper Deck Hockey to name a few. These sets are considered to contain a player’s true rookie cards because they are commonly accepted as major annual releases that have high relevance in the industry.

Rookie Year 

With defined criteria necessary to earn RC status, our yellow rookie year tag is applied to any other card released of a player during the same year as their rookie card. These cards can include parallels of rookie cards, inserts cards from sets that feature a rookie card, cards that are licensed by a player’s association but not a league (i.e. Panini Optic Baseball), stadium giveaways, and many more cards that do not meet the qualifications of a rookie card.

Looking at these three 2018 Shohei Ohtani cards, we have designated one (2018 Topps Chrome #150) as a true rookie card, and three others as rookie year cards. Here’s why:

2018 Topps Chrome – Pink Refractor #150: This card does belong to a flagship product that we recognize as producing true rookie cards, but it is a parallel of the base rookie card. For that reason, we designate it as a rookie year card.

2018 Topps Now – Japan #5J:  Topps Now is not a nationally distributed set, as it is an on-demand product that is printed year round. As of this writing there are 29 different Shohei Ohtani Topps Now cards available on the COMC Marketplace. These cards all receive the rookie year designation as they are not widely considered to be true rookie cards.

Pre-Rookie Card 

A pre-rookie card is any card that was printed prior to the year that a player made their debut at the top level of their respective sport. The most common pre-rookie cards are included in prospect-heavy products such as a Bowman Draft, Topps Pro Debut, team-issued minor league baseball cards, football rookies depicted in college uniforms in sets released prior to the start of an NFL season, and junior league hockey cards.

Rookie Related

The Rookie Related designation is really quite simple – it’s a catch-all filter of all the cards that have received a rookie card, rookie year, or pre-rookie card designation. If you’re still a little bit confused over rookie card vs rookie year vs pre-rookie card, simply choosing the rookie related filter will show you ALL of those cards.

The Politics of the Rookie Card

One of the most common misconceptions on COMC is that the red rookie card symbol represents the most desirable cards belonging to a player. That isn’t true at all. While these items are considered that player’s true rookie cards, there are many instances where a pre-rookie card or even a rookie year card can be a substantially more desirable card than a flagship RC. Don’t believe us? We’ll let you decide which of these cards you would rather have in your collection:



Have any questions? Feel free to post in the comments below, or email our Customer Service Team at Staff@comc.com and we’ll be more than happy to look into your concerns. If you disagree with any of our assessments pertaining to these rookie designations, you are more than welcome to submit a correction requests for rookie years that you would like to dispute. However, please note that while we will not agree with all requests, we will review each one.

Rich Reminisces: Roger Craig

One of the great aspects of my role with COMC is the freedom I have within my office. The way I’m able to work is with an oldies-based internet radio station, old radio air-checks, or old sports radio broadcast playing just about at all times. Of course, I do turn them off for the occasional work meeting or other important aspect, but since I’m in an office by myself most of the time, some background noise is very appreciated.

Out of all those sports radio broadcast stations available on sites such as youtube, my personal favorite is “Classic Baseball on the Radio:” This user posts exactly what his name is, which is old radio broadcasts, which have been preserved in many cases for more than 60 years. The person got most of his air checks from a person who lived in Upstate New York and thus the vast majority of the games are either New York Yankees or New York Mets games. Since I grew up watching those two teams, albeit a few years later than these recordings, there is a great pleasure in hearing about those players one never saw being brought to life.

In my GTS column, I have mentioned the work that the great Raymond Jones has done in helping us with the Adat Chaverim show. Raymond comes up whenever I receive a new donation and takes boxes with him to see if he can make sets based on what he notices in those boxes. I think Raymond made 20-30 sets for us for the last show and also did some yeoman work in verifying sets were actually complete. I mention Raymond because for a good 2-3 months Roger Craig seemed to be on the mound (or would come on in relief) in every Mets game. We’ll go through his career later, but yes, he pitched in a time when many starters would come in for an appearance. Try that in today’s baseball world and you would hear screams from every executive. For fun, check out Lefty Grove‘s statistics some time on Baseball Reference. You will see some interesting categories he led the league in during the same season.

So for those reasons, we agreed Roger Craig should be the official baseball player of the DFW COMC office. The only other athlete we (actually I) considered for this honor was WWE Superstar Alexa Bliss. Raymond and myself have a running conversation about whether we prefer ‘The Godess’ Ms. Bliss, or his favorite, ‘The Empress of Tomorrow” Asuka. If you have never seen this bit entitled a Moment of Bliss from a recent WWE Raw episode, you are missing the development of a future actress. Note how easily she delivers the line comparing herself to Nelson Mandela, or discussing herself as a 7-year old goddess while building up a match against rival Trish Stratus. She actually has a future in Hollywood if she does desire:

And now that we have finished with our digression about Ms. Bliss (and who would really object to focusing on her?), let’s return to Roger Craig. Roger’s rookie card are in the 1956 Topps set, and yes there are two versions available (White and Grey back). Those cards are very affordable and show the stats of someone who did help the Brooklyn Dodgers win their only World Series the previous season.

Roger would continue to be part of the Dodgers organization for the next several years. His best year as a Dodger was probably in 1959 when he tossed four shutouts to lead the National League and garnered the only MVP votes of his career. But after the 1961 season, his career would turn, and not in the best way. Whilst he only spent two seasons with the expansion New York Mets, he compiled an 15-46 record. Now the saying goes you have to be a pretty good pitcher to lose 20 games in a season, so he must have been a great pitcher to do that in consecutive seasons. Here is his first Topps card as a Met and just as with the 1956 card there are two varieties. We are picturing the Green Tint Topps card in the card on the right.

A side note on 62 Green Tints: When I was collecting a master 1962 Topps set way back in the day, it took me forever to get a Moose Skowron green tint card. To me, that card was probably harder to acquire than the now well-known 1961 short print Skowron card. But I think the bemused expression on Craig’s face presaged his next two seasons.

At the end of the 1962 season, Craig was sent to the St. Louis Cardinals and as if the gods were shining down, Craig pitched on another World Championship team.

Frankly, by the conclusion of the 1964 season, Roger’s career was pretty much concluded. He did spend the 1965-66 seasons with two different NL teams and completed his career shortly after his 35th birthday. His final card as a player was a 1966 Topps High Number which does make sense, since by that time in his career Topps was not always sure he would make a major league roster. As Sy Berger would note, Topps usually had a pretty good concept of who would make the team coming out of spring training. Not perfect, but pretty darn good for that era

But we are not done with Mr. Craig. Roger ended up as a baseball lifer and spent almost a quarter-century as either a pitching coach or a manager. He was the pitching coach for the 1964 World Champion Detroit Tigers and managed the 1989 San Francisco Giants to the World Series.

Here is a really cool Mother’s Cookies Roger Craig card with him in a traditional managerial pose:

Roger has continued to have cards issued almost to the present day. A few years ago, Topps Heritage included him in their 2015 Real One Autographs insert set. As they have done a “reprint” final year card was created so the player could autograph those cards for random placement in packs.

 

Quite a life for the nearly 90 year old Roger Craig and we are happy to show you some of the cards of Mr. Craig, the official baseball player of the COMC DFW office.

I would love to hear your comments and your suggestions for future blog post subjects. Reach me by email with your thoughts at RichKlein@comc.com.

#Cardstock Volume 12 – The Future is Now

#CardSTOCK is an ongoing series created by Baseball Cards Daily’s Chris Steuber that details the hobby value of baseball players based on their popularity and performance . You can check out all past editions of #CardSTOCK here. You can catch Chris’s podcast ‘Baseball Cards Daily’ for free on itunes and Google Play.

With the 2018 MLB season coming to a close, now is the time to look back and reflect on the accomplishments of these five players who are quickly becoming household names. For some, the dream of the post season is still alive, while others will potentially be snubbed for awards they should win. Yeah, we’ll say it: Blake Snell for American League Cy Young! Regardless, these players made an immediate impact to their respective teams, and as a result their card values and desirability has risen tremendously.

 

 

 

Sets Revisited: 2007 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects (baseball)

By James Good

Although I consider myself a lifelong collector, there was about a five or six year stretch through my teenage and early adult years where my trading card collection remained largely dormant.  The 2007 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects set is near and dear to my heart because it was the first product that pulled me back into the hobby as an adult a little over ten years ago. That makes it a perfect candidate for this installment of Sets Revisited.

As close as a 90’s kid would ever get to the real thing!

As a 90’s kid in the hobby, I bought and traded cards not only because it was AWESOME to have a superior collection than my friends, but also because I was led to believe that one day I would be sitting on a goldmine of cardboard. Shout out to all the fellow 90’s collectors with hundreds of pounds of junk wax era cards who felt the same way! While that pipe dream has yet to pan out, 2007 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospect was the first set that really introduced me to the prospecting aspect of the hobby.

In early 2008 I took a job at a sports card and memorabilia shop at the local mall. As I got reacquainted with the hobby, a lot had changed, particularly on the baseball card front. I was completely caught off guard that products containing primarily minor league players had leaped to the forefront of collector’s attention. I could not believe that the Ken Griffey Jr. and 90’s Mickey Mantle insert cards that I loved so much were worth so little, yet collectors were now crazy for kids who had yet to make their major league debut. The idea of a stock market like approach to collecting fascinated me, and I too quickly bought into the hype.

Before I get into the prospecting element of this blog, everyone likes a feel-good story, right? At the time in early 2008, my favorite baseball player on the planet was Tim Lincecum. ‘Lincy’ was a University of Washington pitching standout who I always felt belonged in Seattle Mariners uniform. But as fate would have it, my beloved Mariners instead took Brandon Morrow in the 2006 MLB Draft with the sixth overall pick instead, passing on names like Lincecum, Clayton Kershaw, and Max Scherzer. I’ll save my grievances for a later blog. Regardless, in my very first box of 2007 Bowman DP&P, I pulled a monster rookie card of my favorite player:

2007 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects – Red Refractor Tim Lincecum #’d 3/5
(It kills me that I don’t have a better picture!)

That was all the excitement and enjoyment that I needed to keep ripping the product for the next several months. To this day, I have not hit a card from a product that I have loved nearly as much as I did that card. One of my biggest regrets in collecting was selling it when money was tight back in 2009. I’m hopeful that someday it will return to my collection, but for now a gold refractor version that I was able to snag for about $30 earlier this year on COMC will suffice.

As far as the prospects in the set, time is the one true constant in the world of professional sports, and time will always tell all. Enough time has passed that there is no more speculation to be had with 2007 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects. Without further ado…

Who Were We Prospecting Back in 2008?

2007 Bowman DP&P was not a product that was popular for the autographs, but rather for the 1st Bowman non-autographed cards of several top prospects. We’ll get to them later. The set simply did not have a truly standout autograph class at the time:

BDPP111 Daniel Moskos
BDPP112 Ross Detwiler
BDPP113 Tim Alderson
BDPP114 Beau Mills
BDPP115 Devin Mesoraco
BDPP116 Kyle Lotzkar
BDPP117 Blake Beavan
BDPP118 Peter Kozma
BDPP119 Chris Withrow
BDPP120 Corey Lubke
BDPP121 Nick Schmidt
BDPP122 Michael Main
BDPP123 Aaron Poreda
BDPP124 James Simmons
BDPP125 Ben Revere
BDPP126 Joe Savery
BDPP127 Jonathan Gilmore
BDPP128 Todd Frazier
BDPP129 Matt Mangini
BDPP130 Casey Weathers

BDPP131 Nick Noonan
BDPP132 Kellen Kulbacki
BDPP133 Michael Burgess
BDPP134 Nick Hagadone
BDPP135 Clayton Mortensen
BDPP136 Justin Jackson
BDPP137 Ed Easley
BDPP138 Corey Brown
BDPP139 Danny Payne
BDPP140 Travis d’Arnaud

Looking at this list in 2018 is almost painful, and not just because none of the prospects who I invested in panned out. With the success of Tim Lincecum and the (at the time) raw potential of Madison Bumgarner, fellow Giants pitching prospect Tim Alderson seemed like a can’t miss prospect. While the latter two have multiple World Series rings and individual accomplishments, Alderson was never able to reach the bigs, logging nearly 800 minor league innings as of 2016.

I can’t recall if Todd Frazier was a hyped prospect back before his big league debut, but his name is one of two on this list that stand out as having solid big league careers. The other would be Ben Revere, who was one of if not THE top auto to hit in the product. Of the rest of these names, Beau Mills, Michael Main, Jonathan Gilmore, Michael Burgess, Kyle Lotzkar, and Nick Hagadone all had appeal and were considered the best of the rest.

As I spoke to earlier, the real appeal of 2007 Bowman DP&P came from the non-autographed 1st Bowman cards of several top prospects who would command top dollar from the day that the product was released. You can catch the full checklist for all 100 prospects in the set here. So who were the cant miss prospects of this set?

Matt Laporta and David Price were on EVERY prospectors radar. Laporta was generally seen as the safer option of the two, as even prospectors to this day would agree that prized pitching prospects are high-risk, high-reward investment opportunities. Obviously David Price has had a great career up to this point, so it’s always good to see a top prospect who does pan out. Jason Heyward, Madison Bumgarner, and Freddie Freeman were also very coveted prospects who were hot sellers. Freeman  has an opportunity this season to become the first league MVP from this group, although in my belief he’s been passed up in that race as of this writing.

With Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, and Johnathan Gilmore, the Atlanta Braves were one of the most coveted teams in the forum group breaking scene. I opted to put my faith and dollars into the San Francisco Giants for the handful of breaks that I took part in.  Aside from Madison Bumgarner’s first prospect chrome and Tim Lincecum’s green-bordered RC, Nick Noonan, Wendell Fairley, and Henry Sosa were all above average prospects at the time as well.

Speaking of above average prospects, here are the five players that I recall being sleeper picks among prospectors. Do you remember any of these guys?

Of these five, I was most invested in Matt Dominguez, who was a machine in Single-A in 2008, cranking out 18 homers. He was never able to hit for both power and average the Major League level though, and it pains me to see that parallels of this chrome card can be had for a fraction of what they were worth back then.

Nobody had a clue about Kluber’s talent 10 years ago!

Lastly, I wanted to mention the one guy who I felt wasn’t on any prospector’s radar back then and who has had arguably the most accomplished career to date. That man would be Corey Kluber and his TWO Cy Young awards!  He remains the only base card in the set that consistently sells for above $5. The entire San Diego Padres team could be had in group breaks for just over double that price back in 2008.

2007 was a really interesting year for this product. The set list is broken up by draft picks, all depicted in professional uniforms, and prospects, who were photographed in action during the World Baseball Classic. Some collectors were put off by the fact that these players were depicted in their WBC country uniform, which really stunted the long term value of Clayton Kershaw’s card in the set among others.

That’s going to do it for this stroll down memory lane. Do you recall any fun memories from this set? Let us know in the comments below!