Before I introduce some cool cards I received from Mike at Not Another Baseball Card Blog, I heard some very sad news today. Hobby legend Bob Lemke passed away today.
For those of you who do not know that name, Mr. Lemke was the Editor for the final version of which I am aware of the bible of cards, the 2011 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards. He also edited the Standard Catalog of Vintage Baseball Cards, which was published in October of 2011 and the Standard Catalog of Minor League Cards, which does not appear to have been updated since It came out in 2000. For many years, he worked for Krausse Publications in Iola, Wisconsin -- the publishers of Sports Collectors Digest and Baseball Cards Magazine -- and his Wisconsin background showed itself regularly in the custom cards he made available through his information-packed blog. His knowledge about all things in our hobby and his proselytizing for the hobby will be missed.
After that somber note, the only appropriate way to respond is to be reverential. Mike from NABCB sent me a number of Canadian cards that I needed for my various team sets and player collections along with some Pacific Legends -- for which I think I now have a complete Milwaukee Braves set.
Let's start with the Pacific Legends
The Pacific Legends set is a concept that I feel like should be brought back by someone other than Topps to highlight the stars of the 1970s and 1980s. I don't trust Topps to do it -- we'd probably end up with 12 variations of Dave Collins and Dale Berra on the Yankees and then one card of Lloyd Moseby to represent the Blue Jays.
But doesn't that sound like a good idea?
If you look at the list of players who were featured in the original sets, it is a hodgepodge of players from all through baseball history and of varying abilities. It's got everyone from Ty Cobb and Eddie Mathews to Ed Kranepool and Gary Peters.
I feel like a set of nostalgia like this could do well. I mean, we don't need another set with Paul Molitor and Robin Yount in it, but would you say no if Molitor and Yount and Brett and Gossage were joined by Chris Chambliss, Steve Balboni, Willie Mays Aikens, Lonnie Smith, Vince Coleman, Joe Charbonneau, Mel Hall, Greg Walker, Mickey Rivers, Oddibe McDowell, Jody Davis, Eric Davis, George Bell, Charlie Lea, and Bob Welch?
Archives started out like this, but Topps gave up on that concept quickly and started adding more current players/rookies to drive sales. It's too bad.
Why in the world would I put up two Fleer 1990 cards -- especially a checklist? Because these two cards were the final two Fleer Canadian cards that I needed to complete my team set. I happened across an eBay seller who had two team sets at a reasonable price, so I bought them. It was easier than having to turn over literally every single 1990 Fleer card I ever see to check for "PTD IN CANADA" on the back. Mike happened to have these last two cards that did not come in the team set, and so he sent them to me.
Proving that guys that make the major leagues are special -- especially if they are from a small town -- George Canale was honored in May of 2016 by Cave Spring High School by having his jersey retired. Canale is a Virginia Tech legend, having set the Tech record for career homers (76) and RBI for the Hokies during his three seasons there (1984-1986). Canale retired after the 1999 season and owns a batting cage facility in the Roanoke, Virginia area.
See, here are two guys who should be in that 80s Legends set. Ted Higuera won 20 games in his second season in the majors -- completing 15 games in the process and finishing second in the Cy Yount Award voting behind Roger Clemens's 24-4 season. Funny thing: according to WAR on Baseball-Reference, Higuera was 0.5 wins better than Clemens even though Roger was a unanimous winner.
B.J. Surhoff had a long career in the majors -- 19 years, in fact -- and finished his career with 2326 hits. Perhaps if he had gotten more playing time in Atlanta in 2000-2002 and not been a catcher for much of his early career he would have had a better start offensively and gotten to those major milestones.
And finally, we have almost certainly the least interesting O-Pee-Chee cards to have ever come out -- the 1990 versions. Keeping the Topps logos on the front and being different only by the occasional "Now With" notation on the front along with the bilingual backs, 1990 O-Pee-Chee really just mailed it in.
I will say, though, that Jerry Reuss and perhaps Bill Krueger also should have places in that 1980s Legends series I'm advocating for.
Krueger is an interesting case -- almost certainly he stayed in the major leagues as long as he did because he threw left-handed. He didn't make it to the majors until he was 25, but he stayed until he was 37. In that time, he played for Oakland, the Dodgers, the Brewers, the Mariners, the Twins, Montreal, Detroit, San Diego, and back to Seattle and split his time almost evenly between starting and relieving. He was both more accomplished and more nondescript than I had ever recalled.
And that is saying something.
Perhaps Chris Bosio should be in the 90s Legends version instead.
Mike, thank you very much for plugging up some gaps in my Canadian baseball card collections -- it is much appreciated.