Card of the Day: 2005 Topps Turkey Red Ryan Drese Auto

It’s an in-person autograph, from Drese’s short time with the Nationals. Ryan’s major league career ended in 2006 in Washington, and he was last seen with independent Long Island in 2010.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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The 1989 Project Day 13 – Rob Murphy

1989 Donruss Baseball's best

Rob had been a solid Reds player up to this point, identified with the team in most card sets, even making some team leaders cards after an amazing 1987 rookie campaign in which he threw a 0.72 ERA in 50.1 IP as a reliever. Of course, he was already 27, so that was kind of his peak, but he had a 2.56 ERA to go with 209 strikeouts in 230 IP for the years he had with the Reds.

1989 Donruss Traded

On 12/13/88, the Reds dealt Murphy and Nick Esasky (who will be featured in the 1990 project) to the Red Sox for Todd Benzinger, Jeff Sellers, and Luis Vaszquez. Apparently, this was a consolation trade for the Red Sox, who had tried to send Mike Greenwell to the Mets in exchange for Ron Darling. The Reds seemed to be reluctant to deal Murphy, but he was a key part of getting rid of Esasky, who had gotten into Pete Rose’s doghouse. Murphy, however, seemed to be happy about getting out from under John Franco’s shadow, as he had been Franco’s setup man.

1989 Fleer Update

Murphy would not, however, be a closer in Boston; he was slotted into the same setup role as in Cincinnati. But it didn’t matter. He had a 2.74 ERA in 1989 with the Red Sox, striking out 107 in 105 IP. A 151 ERA+. He won the Red Sox Fireman of the Year and set a Red Sox record for 74 appearances by a left-handed pitcher. One hell of a year for a middle reliever, in other words.

1989 Score Rookie and Traded

The manufacturers sure jumped on him changing teams, though; he was one of the guys was standard for the traded sets that year, as you can see, and I was completely nonplussed. Come on, he was a setup guy, and for a 13-year-old, a middle reliever means almost nothing. There were lots of Red Sox prospects that I felt would have made better candidates at the time, but now that I see Murphy’s career in retrospect, I understand.  Yeah, he was a middle reliever, but he was an amazing setup man. Relievers are overvalued these days, but given the state of relief back then, Murphy was probably pretty undervalued.

1989 Topps Traded

Unfortunately, Murphy’s 1989 success would be short-lived; 1990 would be an absolute disaster. He had a 6.32 ERA, his HR/9 ballooned from .6/9IP to 1.6/9IP, and his BB/9 skyrocketed, too. I can only surmise that it was a bout of bad luck OR his velocity was falling off, as he still struck out 54 in 47 IP and would rebound for the next few years. The Red Sox had had enough, though, and gave up on him in 1991, trading him to the Mariners for Mike Gardiner. He rebounded nicely in Seattle in 1991, his HR/9 dropping back down to a 0.8 rate, he had a 3.00 ERA, but I guess the problem was his velocity dropping off, as his strikeout rate sustained its drop and would do so for the rest of his career. Makes sense for a flame-throwing reliever, honestly.

1989 Upper Deck High Numbers

His career would last until 1995. From 1992 to 1995, he went 13-13 with a 4.90 ERA, 3 saves, 115 K in 174.2 IP, and had a 1.391 WHIP, good for a 79 ERA+. According to Wikipedia, though, his post-baseball career has been pretty interesting:

horse racing and thoroughbred training expert, Murphy has devised his own method for handicapping and breeding. Rob’s company, M375 Thoroughbreds, Inc., has bred, raised, and raced such successful horses as Platinum Tiara, Swing and Miss, Diamond Studs, Strike Three, and Golden Spikes.

Good for him! Always good to hear players making a life for themselves after the game.

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Card of the Day: 1987 Topps Dusty Baker

Given that tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I thought I’d feature a guy who’s cooked a few arms in his time.

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Ryan Zimmerman GU, Auto, and Chrome Collection Part 1

This is by no means a comprehensive posting of my collection of Zimmerman GU & Autos, just to let you know up front. These are all treasured pieces to my collection, so I thought I’d start collecting them all into a series of ongoing posts. I think I’ll do one for Jordan Zimmermann soon, as well.

2004 SP National Honors

2006 Topps Chrome Blue

2006 eTopps

2006 Upper Deck Special F/ X Materials

2007 Upper Deck Artifacts

2007 Upper Deck Exquisite

2010 Triple Threads

2010 Topps Tribute

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Card of the Day: 1989 Star Columbus Mudcats Manny Acta Auto

Manny has one of the best autographs of a manager out there. Love the touch with the number on the card. I miss the guy.


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Morning Coffee and the Blog Roundup 11/22 – Last of the Week Edition

Yeah, I have no plans to write this tomorrow. I think a break from collecting and writing about cards will be good for me; the process of putting together the 1991 project has been incredibly discouraging for me. Watching the card world explode like that has given me a first-hand example of why the junk wax era ended up falling apart on the card manufacturers. It’s depressing. You can see that the manufacturers were caught off-guard by the rapid expansion and started sourcing their photos to the same photographers. A Classic card will have a photograph from the same reel as a Fleer Ultra card. Willie Fraser’s 1991 Bowman, O-Pee-Chee, and Stadium Club are all essentially the same picture. Part of me really wants to know how they dealt with the continued expansion in 1992, but the effort and money involved in collecting sets that will ultimately not be worth the cardboard they’re printed on…I don’t know. Maybe I’ll go backwards? Start at 1987 and go backwards? Something to ponder.

I did receive a card that reminded me of why I collect yesterday: this beaut, the blue refractor Jordan Zimmermann auto I mentioned yesterday.

Other than that, not too much going on. Gearing up for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as we’re going to be discounting prices and going for the gold, but that’s about it. Let’s see what other folks were up to yesterday…

And that’s it for today. Have a happy holiday and great weekend!

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The 1989 Project Day 12 – Scott Scudder


1989 Fleer update


Scott Scudder was not a particularly impressive minor league pitcher for the Reds after being drafted in the 1st round of the 1986 draft and signing on July 4th of that year. He had, however, been a highly-coveted high-school pitcher out of Texas, scoring a 14-0 record with a 0.74 ERA and 147 strikeouts as a Senior. The Reds sent him to the rookie-league Billings Mustangs that year, and he put up a pedestrian 1-3 line with a 4.79 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 52 innings to go with a 1.50 WHIP. He spent two years at Single-A Cedar Rapids, going 14-15 before getting bumped up to AA Chattanooga at the back end of 1988. He wasn’t showing much to the organization, and yet they were shooting him through the system. He hit AAA Nashville in 1989, going 6-2 with a 2.68 ERA in 12 games, striking out 64 in 80 IP with a 1.26 WHIP. Combine that with a strong Spring Training that impressed manager Pete Rose, and I guess the Reds thought he had finally put it together, because they recalled him and he pitched in his first game on June 6th in San Francisco. He gave up a homer to Kevin Mitchell in the early going, but he ended up lasting six innings, giving up three runs on three hits with FIVE walks and five strikeouts. Yikes.


1989 Score Rookie and Traded


He went on to be 4-9 with a 4.49 ERA and almost as many walks (61) as strikeouts (66). Seriously, his BB/9 was 5.5, and his SO/9 was 5.9. That’s not really going to get the job done, and presaged his future role as a AAAA pitcher. He would spend only one year entirely in the majors, 1991, when he started and relieved, still unable to bring that walk rate down. In the 91 offseason, the Reds traded him, Joe Turek, and Jack Armstrong to the Indians for Greg Swindell. He played two partial years with the Indians, going 6-11 with a 5.42 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 113 innings. That walk rate still sucked, as he had a 4.7 BB/9 and a 1.752 WHIP. He became a free agent in the 1993 offseason and signed with the Pirates, but never made the team, spending 1994 in their minor league system before landing with the Reds in 1995. And then his career was done, never living up to the promise of his hype.

Scudder was never a particularly popular player in our hometown, but then we were a long way from Cincinnati and never really saw their games.  Still, it seemed like he would pan out to be more than he ended up being. I’m going to go ahead and blame being rushed to the majors. I don’t know why the Reds did that when they had a fairly good rotation that would take them to the World Series Championship the next year.

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Card of the Day: 1991 Stadium Club Ken Griffey Jr.

Kicking off Thanksgiving week with a classic that will never get old. Love the photography in this set.

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Morning Coffee and the Blog Roundup 11/22 – Short Week Edition

There’ll only be two morning coffees this week, I think, with the holiday coming up, but no worries – I have the entire week’s non-roundup entries planned out and 90% written. I’m actually kind of excited about the whole deal. I like the idea of being able to spend time with my family and have a nice, relaxing weekend while still keeping the blog (my baby) updated.

Got some free money out of paypal this past week and got a really nice Topps Chrome Blue Refractor Jordan Zimmermann auto. I think it’ll arrive in the mail today, and I’ll definitely have to show it off here. I may eventually go for the rainbow on that set, but we’ll see how difficult that might be.

Little plug here…my girlfriend’s first book/collection was published this weekend! It’s Kindle-only at the moment, but I’ve heard from a little birdie that real paper copies are on the way very soon, and I’ll have an ad up soon (need to check with her “people” about officially-sanctioned ads and all that nonsense).

Speaking of fiction writing, finally knocked out the outline for my novel and am commencing with the first draft. I’m hoping to find a publisher after the first of the year, but only time will tell.

Picked up an Update rack pack this weekend and managed to score a 1959 card on the million card giveaway. Promptly flipped it for a 59 Senators card. All I need to do is unload the 77 Buckner card and I should have enough cards built up for another shipment of vintage goodness. The MCG has been really kind to me; I hope next year’s version is, as well.

Okay, so let’s see what everyone else was up to this weekend, as I’m running out of time:

And that’s all for today. Have a good one!


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I Was a Teenage Prospector: Derek Bell

Bell Score

1990 Score Rookie and Traded

I covered Delino Deshields’ 1988 O-Pee-Chee card on my other site today, and as much as I’d love to write about Derek’s here, I think it’s better to offer some variety, so it is that we behold Derek’s 1990 Score Traded, his first mainstream card. Derek was one of the prospects that I first learned about in 1988, with his name mentioned in the same breath as Joey Belle when it came to being troubled. As a burgeoning Blue Jays collector, I was intrigued, especially by the Eric Davis comparisons that were being drawn; I was also really into Davis at the time.

Of course, finding the OPC card sent me over the moon, but I had to endure a few years’ wait after that for another Derek Bell card. It was an incredibly pleasant surprise to pick up the 1990 Score Traded set at a small coin shop in my hometown in 1990 (a coin shop that was the go-to-source for traded sets). 1990 Score had such a cool design, and though I was disappointed with the color scheme, I treasured all the random rookie cards in the set, including this Bell card.

This was also my first exposure to the conundrum of XRCs. I was confused at the time. Did the OPC card count as his rookie, or did this? Or would his 1991 cards count as rookies with both of these as oddities? I’m dismayed that this answer is just as, if not more, confusing than ever these days. I thought for sure it would eventually be answered. It makes me glad I got out of this rookie business.

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