Tag Archives: Upper Deck

I Was a Teenage Prospector: Ben McDonald

McDonald UD

1990 Upper Deck

Ahhh, Ben McDonald. In 1990, there was a rookie battle afoot: the forces of John Olerud (me, mostly) versus the forces of Ben McDonald (everyone else). It was tough for me to appreciate what the guy was capable of when everyone in town was treating him like the second coming. I thought Olerud was a much more solid prospect: good swing, strong college pitcher, great fielder…oh, and he played in those awesome late 80s/early 90s Blue Jays uniforms. What wasn’t to love? He rapidly became my favorite player while others went down the McDonald path, fueled by the 1990 Upper Deck error.

We know how their careers turned out: Olerud had a much more solid path, while McDonald got injured and flamed out somewhat early in his career. But every time someone mentions McDonald or I see one of his cards, I’m that 13-year old kid again, standing in the backyard catching flak for my choice of player. Still, that didn’t stop me from eventually seeing what was there and at least pursuing one of his autographs as a sort of badge of honor. Today, for me, McDonald is one of those “could have been” stories that intrigue me. What if his body had held up? He posted pretty good ERA+s from 1993 onward, cursed by playing for some lousy teams. I don’t know. It’s an interesting quandary.


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Filed under Baltimore Orioles, I Was a Teenage Prospector

Card of the Day: 2001 Upper Deck Dan Haren

Why doesn’t Dan Haren get the respect he deserves? Is it because of the teams he’s played for? I don’t get it.


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Trade from The Sandlot

Remember that David Wright card I listed? Well I had a few people interested, and Joe from The Sandlot had some cards that intrigued me, so we pulled the trigger on the trade. His end arrived yesterday, and the Wright card should be in his hands either today or tomorrow. What did I manage to land? Let’s take a look…

2006 Flair Showcase Showcase Signatures /35

Nice one. I have a few Cordero autos in my collection, but I couldn’t turn down one that was numbered this low.

2000 Fleer Fresh Ink

Another Jose Vidro auto to add to my collection.

2007 Topps Co-Signers "Blue" #/250

Always happy to add another numbered Zimmerman card to my collection.

2007 Topps Chrome White Refractor

I’m a refractor junkie, and I really like the white chrome design from 2007. In addition, I think Hughes has a bright future, so even if he is a Yankee, I wanted.

The wear on this and the vidro are from the cases.

A sweet little gray swatch of a Hall of Famer. It has stitching, too! I like to pick up HOF stuff when it’s possible, so, again, this was a no-brainer.

So thanks, Joe! I hope you like your card.

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The 1989 Project Day 3 – Gregg Olson

Today we look at the promised 1989 AL Rookie of the Year, Gregg Olson. This is going to be a fun entry, as I have quite a connection to the Otter; even if I never met the guy, he meant a lot to me.

1989 Donruss Baseball's Best

You see, I was a die-hard Orioles fan in 1989, and Gregg was something of a second coming for young Orioles fans at the time (a role Ben McDonald would go on to fill in 1990). I was even privileged enough to see him pitch in person on July 31st, 1990, when he closed the game out against the Blue Jays. It was my first major league game, and Olson’s appearance must have been electrifying, as I don’t remember much about that game other than Olson’s performance and taunting Glenallen Hill about his then-recent spider dream incident. We got his attention, too! But the most vivid memory was that 9th inning, when the entire stadium was on its feet to the last strike. What a performance, and I can point to it at as a moment when I really started to love baseball.

1989 Donruss The Rookies

The Otter spent his college days at Auburn, where he pitched in relief. In 1988, the year the Ori0les took him with their first pick, he struck out 113 in 72 innings, leading his team. Like most college relievers, he didn’t spend much time in the minors, toiling in only 16 games between Hagerstown and Charlotte before debuting at the Kingdome on September 2nd, 1988. He struck out two and walked one, but the Orioles weren’t quite ready put him in the closer role.

1989 Score Rookie and Traded

He started off hot early in 1989 (3 victories and 2 saves in his first 11 appearances), and became entrenched at the back of the bullpen. Of course, this was as Tony LaRussa was only just defining modern closer usage, so Gregg had plenty of outings that stretched past one inning; in fact, he had three games with at least three innings, and eleven two-inning affairs. That’s pretty amazing when you compare it to today’s usage patterns. He even had a couple of four strikeout outings with that sick curveball (you know, the one that would eventually shred his arm). Did you know he surrendered one home run the entire year? Stunning. The guy was unstoppable.

1989 Topps Traded

I first became aware of Gregg when I pulled his rookie card from a 1989 Topps pack on a frigid winter night in the alleyway circled right here:

The white building on the left of the photo is, in fact, the store where I bought that pack. Though it was yellow at the time, it’s still standing all these years later; I even visited it a few weeks ago. It has a different name and a new coat of paint, but it’s essentially the same (minus the packs).

1989 Upper Deck High Numbers

The Olson Topps was my first experience with a draft pick card, and as a budding prospector, I thought it possibly the greatest thing ever. Two thoughts sprang to mind: one, were there other draft picks in the set? (There were.) Two, how on Earth could I get this signed? The very idea was like visiting Mars to a kid in a small country town three hours from the closest team, but I wanted it. I tried to get him to sign it at the games I attended over the years, but I never had any luck. I did manage to score a signed version in 2003, appeasing that inner child.

One of the more interesting aspects of the 1989 Project Orioles cards are the uniform variations. If memory serves correctly, the team used the old Orioles uniforms in Spring Training, then changed to the black-capped versions once the season began. This means that it’s extremely easy to tell which pictures were taken in Spring Training. Some of the uniforms also have an EBW patch. The patch was worn in memory of Edwin Bennett Williams, who owned the team from 1930 to his death in August of 1988. We’ll look at that later, though. For now, enjoy The Otter!

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EBay Week: Day Three

Unfortunately, a lot of cards that I ordered has still not shown up, so this party may be cut short if they don’t show up tonight. I have a few more items to post, but I’m frustrated with this guy…anyway.

2008 Upper Deck Signature Stars

Alberto Gonzalez was another player that I hadn’t been able to find an auto for. I was stoked to find this one, and the sticker’s actually not so bad, except for that little bit that bleeds over onto the photo.

2010 Topps Chrome

Storen was on my must-have list for 2010 autos. Unfortunately, it seems that a lot of these chrome cards are smudging, as this one definitely was unsmudged when I bought it. I blame on-card autos on a chrome for this, so there’s not much you can really do. I’m still glad to have something from Storen.

And, of course, my Leaf set goes into this pile. I haven’t scanned anything from it, but we’ll see cards from that set soon enough.


Filed under Autographs, Mail Call, Nationals Autographs

Trade with reader Steve

Steve came across my tradelist on Zistle and saw a few items that he wanted, so we worked out a deal. I received his cards the other day and have had a backlog, so I’m now ready to post them! I told Steve I needed late-90s Expos cards, and he provided. Did he ever!


1997 Fleer Ultra


I had no idea Lee Smith had even been an Expo. I love finds like this.


1997 Collector's Choice


And another player I’d never heard of before. It’s great to be able to add “unknown Expos” to the collection.


1997 Fleer


Hey, it’s my first 1997 Fleer card! At first I thought I wouldn’t like the matte style of the card, but I actually really like it. I think we need a set like this today.


1997 Collector's Choice

1997 Collector's Choice


Steve included some other 97 Collector’s Choice, which is good, since I didn’t have any of these going in. Between this and the Nachos Grande break, I may actually complete this team set.


1997 Pinnacle Generation Now


Pretty cool little full-bleed card. I’d never seen these before.


1994 Upper Deck Electric Diamond


The elusive Brian Looney! I had heard of the guy but never seen one of his cards before. To get that, in addition to a sparkly Electric Diamond card, is pretty damn sweet.

He included some other cards that will come up when the time is right. Thanks, Steve! Your cards are on the way shortly.


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EBay Week: Day One

So last week I was able to pick up a few things from eBay before getting robbed, so I thought I’d show off some of my swag this week.


2008 Upper Deck Team USA


This is one of the promised cards from the 2010 Chrome replacement order. It’s even nicer in real life, and will definitely be a treasured part of my collection going forward, especially with Espinosa’s talent.


2006 Topps Chrome


My first Scott Olsen auto. Obviously I’d rather have had a signed Nationals card, but just having the auto is an important step.


2007 Sweet Spot


This is my second Matt Chico auto, but my first one of these mini-helmet cards. I was surprised at the heft and thickness of it, but I really love it.

All in all, a pretty good day, and I have a long way to go!

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