Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Your 1981 Red Sox Pt. 21: Chuck Rainey

In this series, I will look at each player who played in 1981, the year I was born. Because, why not?

Chuck Rainey was Boston's first round draft pick in the January 1974 draft.  He was picked 19th overall.  Rainey moved steadily through the minors at first, but seemed to get stuck in Pawtucket for a couple of years.  He finally made his Major League debut in 1979.  That year, he made it into 20 games, starting 16 of them and having a record of 8-5 with a 3.82 ERA.  He struck out 41 and walked 41 in 103.2 innings.  He cemented his spot on the pitching staff for the next season.  His record improved (8-3), but his ERA (4.86) rose more than a run.  Nevertheless, Rainey was solid.

In 1981, Rainey pitched sparingly due to an injury he suffered in 1980.  He also returned to the minors for a short stint to get back on track as the combination of the injury and the strike that year caused some difficulties for Rainey.

When he was healthy though, he was pretty decent.  Rainey pitched in just eleven games, starting just two of them, but had a record of 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA.  He pitched 40 innings, striking out 20 and walking 13.  Rainey was never a big strikeout pitcher.  His career high was just 84 with the Cubs in 191 innings pitched.  

The next season, he was back in the rotation for 25 of his 27 games and had a record of 7-5, but his ERA ballooned to 5.02.  In 129 innings pitched, he struck out 57 while walking 63.  After the season, he was traded to the Cubs for Doug Bird.  It was with the Cubs that he had his biggest season from an innings standpoint and had a 14-13 record.  Rainey also pitched for the Athletics.  

Monday, February 27, 2023

A Trade With Swing and a Pop Up

I recently made my first blog trade in a very long time with Bert from Swing and a Pop Up, a fellow Red Sox fan.  Almost all of the cards I received were off of my wantlist, with a few exceptions.  A lot of them were oddball cards, though there were some other base cards as well.

And here we go:

1.  Dennis Eckersley.  This card finished off the 1998 Stadium Club team set for me.  Oddly, I had the magenta printing plate of this card.   Not sure why I did not have this one.  Eckersley spent the final season of his career with the Red Sox and recorded the final save of his career with the Red Sox.  He also threw more than twice as many innings with the Red Sox than any other team for whom he pitched.

2.  Jose Malave.  Malave looked like a promising prospect when he hit .299/.369/.563 with 24 home runs and 92 RBIs for the Red Sox Double-A team in 1994.  Unfortunately in parts of two seasons with Boston, he hit just .226/.248/.368 with four home runs and 17 RBIs in 45 games.

3.  Roger Clemens.  This completed the 1995 Bazooka set for me.  Clemens seems to be the last card standing in a lot of sets in the mid 1990's.  I have no explanation for that, other than maybe fatigue.  I do tend to not focus as much on players that I already have a lot of cards of (with the obvious exception of Jason Varitek).  Nomar Garciaparra, Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez have also been players that happened with.

4.  Cory Bailey.  This finished off 1994 Pinnacle.  Bailey came up as a reliever prospect, but pitched in just 16 games over two years with Boston, throwing 20 innings, striking out 15 and walking 15.  He had an ERA of 5.40 and was 0-2.  He was traded to the Cardinals along with Scott Cooper for Mark Whiten and Rheal Cormier.  He had some decent seasons with the Cardinals and Royals.

5.  Babe Ruth.  Coming from the Ruth Conlon set, there are still a handful of Red Sox cards out there I still need.  This card discusses Ruth winning 17 of his last 21 decisions in 1915, his first full season in the Majors.

6.  Babe Ruth.  And this card discusses Ruth breaking the single-season home run record in 1919 when he hit 29 home runs as a member of the Red Sox.  The previous record of 25 belonged to former Red Sox Buck Freeman, who hit that number as a member of the Washington Senators of the National League.

7.  Carl Yastrzemski.  I love this shot of Yaz with the camera crew.  

8.  Jim Rice.  This seems more like a standard shot of Rice.

9.  Mike Torrez.  Torrez pitched the ill-fated one-game playoff in 1978 and gave up Bucky Dent's home run.  In five years with Boston, Torrez had a record of 60-54 with a 4.51 ERA.  He struck out 480 and walked 420 in 1,012.2 innings pitched.  His best season was 1981 when he went 10-3 with a 3.68 ERA.

Up next is a bunch of singles from the 1982 Brigham's/Coca-Cola set, which is one I am still trying to complete.

10.  John Tudor.  Tudor spent the first five seasons of his career with the Red Sox, going 39-32 with a 3.96 ERA.  Boston then traded him to the Pirates for Mike Easler.  Tudor had the best season of his career in 1985 when he went 21-8 with a 1.93 ERA and led the league in shutouts.  It would have been nice if Boston had held on to him.

11.  Dave Stapleton.  Stapleton was a very impressive defensive player, but did not hit much.  At least most of his career.  He was great in his rookie season in 1980 when he hit .321/.338/.463 with 33 doubles, seven home runs and 45 RBIs.  He finished second in the Rookie of the Year vote to Joe Charboneau.  He was primarily a second-baseman that season.

12.  Bob Ojeda.  Another pitcher Boston would have been smart to hold on to, Ojeda spent his first six seasons in Boston, going 44-39 with a 4.21 ERA.  He was traded to the Mets prior to 1986 for Calvin Schiraldi and Wes Gardner.  Ojeda went 18-5 with a 2.57 ERA for the Mets that season and was 1-0 against his old team in the World Series.

13.  Carney Lansford.  Lansford, along with Mark Clear, was the major return in the trade of Rick Burleson and Butch Hobson to the Angels.  Lansford won the batting title in his first season with the Red Sox, hitting .336 and winning his only Silver Slugger Award.  He was later traded to the A's in the deal that brought Tony Armas to the Red Sox.

14.  Glenn Hoffman.  Trevor's much older brother, Hoffman was supplanted as the third-baseman by the acquisition of Lansford and moved over to shortstop.  His best season was his rookie year in 1980 when he hit .285/.326/.397.  Like Stapleton, he declined quickly.

15.  Rich Gedman.  Gedman was second in the Rookie of the Year vote in 1981 when he hit .288/.317/.434 with five home runs and 26 RBIs.  Gedman was a two-time All Star in 1985 and 1986.  He hit .259/.310/.412 with 83 home runs in eleven seasons with the Red Sox.

And now for the primary reason this trade got started, the 1991 Swell Baseball Greats remaining cards for the team set.

16.  Tris Speaker.  Boston never should have traded Speaker.  Yes, unfortunately this has been a problem with this franchise for a very long time.  Speaker was Boston's best player.  In nine seasons, he hit .337/.414/.482 with 39 home runs (it was the Deadball Era) and 542 RBIs.  He also stole 267 bases.  Speaker was traded for Sad Sam Jones, Fred Thomas and cash.  Jones was at least decent.

17.  Carl Yastrzemski.  Yaz is one player Boston kept for his entire career, and his was the longest career in team history, spanning 23 seasons and 3,308 games.  Thus, he holds a number of career records for the Red Sox, most notably his 3,419 hits.  He is the only Red Sox player to have 3,000 hits with the team.

18.  Rico Petrocelli.  Petrocelli at one point held the single-season record for home runs by a shortstop.  He hit 40 home runs in 1968.  He spent his entire 13-season career with the Red Sox and hit .251/.332/.420 with 210 home runs and 773 RBIs.

19.  Jim Lonborg.  The third member of the Impossible Dream season in a row.  Lonborg won the first Cy Young Award in Red Sox history.  It was also the first year that the award was given to a pitcher in each league.  Lonborg was 22-9 with a 3.16 ERA and struck out 246 while walking 83 in 273.1 innings.  He led the league in wins and strikeouts.

20.  Rick Ferrell.  Ferrell, like Speaker and Yaz, is a Hall of Famer.  Ferrell was elected by the Veterans Committee in 1984.  Ferrell is largely considered one of the worst Hall of Famers, but he was a very good contact hitter for a catcher.  He hit .302/.394/.410 for his five years in Boston.  Ferrell was caught for Boston at the same time his brother Wes was a pitcher.  They were traded to the Senators together in a deal for Ben Chapman and Bobo Newsom.

21.  Don Baylor.  Baylor was acquired in a rare deal with the Yankees in 1986.  Rarer still, the deal actually seemed to help both teams.  A novel idea.  Baylor hit .238/.344/.439 with 31 home runs and 94 RBIs for the pennant-winning Red Sox.  The next season he broke the record for being hit by pitches.  Baylor was traded to the Twins late in 1987 season.  Later, he became the first manager for the Colorado Rockies.

Thanks for the trade Bert!

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Gypsy Queen City Connect Variations Pt. 3

It is probably fitting given my lone collecting goal in 2023 that the next of the Gypsy Queen City Connect variations is Rafael Devers.  There are four more of these out there for me to track down.  Devers was probably the biggest one to get though, so there is that.  I almost bought one of these jerseys at one point, but it was a Bogaerts jersey and I was not sure he would be coming back.  Had it been a Devers jersey, I definitely would have grabbed it.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Archives Blaster and Prizm Jumbo Pack

I have been picking up more packs and stuff recently, as might be obvious from the posts.  One day I grabbed an Archives blaster and a couple of Prizm jumbo packs.  The results were okay, but not particularly great.

1.  Xander Bogaerts.  Wait, so the 1987 design was used in both the insert set in flagship AND one of the designs from Archives?  That's definitely overkill.  But, to talk about something a little more positive, Bogaerts made big strides defensively in 2022.  He was a finalist for the Gold Glove and recorded career-best marks in UZR and DRS.  

2.  Alex Verdugo.  Nice view of the chains Verdugo wears around his neck.  I engaged in a Twitter discussion about favorite current Red Sox other than Devers.  I decided that I believe Verdugo is probably my second-favorite player on the current team.  

3.  Nathan Eovaldi.  The best card of the break is this Red, White & Blue parallel of Eovaldi.  It is the only non-base Red Sox card I got as one of the retail-only special parallels.  

Friday, February 24, 2023

Ebay Lot of Inserts, Parallels, Etc.

I bought a lot on Ebay to fill in a few holes from 2021 and 2022, which have been years somewhat underrepresented so far due to not being involved in trading.  I am going to get that fixed soon, but I might have another trial next month, which could change things.

1.  Pedro Martinez.  The 1987 design is a little overdone I think, but it is one of the more iconic designs during my lifetime.  Always fun to get Pedro Martinez cards though.  The trade for Martinez is still one of the best trades during my fandom.  Boston gave up Carl Pavano and Tony Armas, Jr.  Both pitchers pitched for awhile, but nowhere near as well as Pedro.

2.  Nathan Eovaldi.  The trade for Eovaldi cost Boston Jalen Beeks, who has been a solid reliever when healthy.  Worth it.

3.  Rafael Devers.  Part of the reason I bought this lot was the addition of a couple more Devers cards.  

4.  Bobby Dalbec.  Dalbec had a pretty decent year in 2021, hitting .240/.298/.494 with 25 home runs and 78 RBIs.  But his 156 strikeouts were glaring and he took such a huge step backwards in 2022 that it appears likely he will officially lose his hold on first base.

5.  Carlton Fisk.  I love this insert set.  I need to track down all of them.  Just a good-looking set.

6.  Nathan Eovaldi.

7.  Alex Verdugo.  I am looking forward to seeing Verdugo this year.  With the shift being banned and his improvement in the second half of last season, I think he is going to have a really good year.

8.  Jarren Duran.  This lot contained several Duran cards.  This Inception card has an interesting design, but is a little thick for my tastes.  Base cards should be able to fit easily in a page.

9.  Jarren Duran.

10.  Jarren Duran.  Yep, several Duran cards.

11.  Kutter Crawford.  Crawford was one of the most impressive of the rookie pitchers Boston used in 2022 (next to Brayan Bello).  He is also likely to be a part of the pitching staff in 2023 as he could emerge as a multi-inning reliever in the vein of what Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock have done.

12.  Trevor Story.  I really thought Story could have a 20/20 type season last year.  And he probably would have had he stayed healthy.  He hit 16 home runs and almost assuredly would have hit four more.  He stole 13 bases and has stolen 20 or more three times.  It likely won't happen this season either.

13.  Rafael Devers.  That's two Devers cards.  

14.  Jarren Duran.  And four Duran cards.  

15.  Christian Vazquez.  This is probably my favorite card of the lot, celebrating Vazquez's walkoff home run in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Rays.  What a great moment that was.  I really wish Vazquez was still with the team, especially since I am not sold on the current catching platoon going forward.  I hope I am wrong.

16.  Connor Seabold.  Seabold was the least impressive of the rookie pitchers Boston used in 2022.  I am not sure what happened to him, he looked like a decent prospect when Boston acquired him in 2020.  Luckily that trade also included Nick Pivetta.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Topps Chrome Update Group Break

I tried out another group break on Ebay, this time a multi-box break of Topps Chrome Update.  Here are the results:

1.  Rich Hill.  This is the purple refractor.  I think I have mentioned before that Hill used to be one of the kings of the Red Sox With No Cards.  I think that honor goes to either Andrew Miller or Scott Atchison now.  Hill will be 43 in 2023, yet still pitches like someone ten years younger.

2.  David Ortiz.  This is one of the Diamond Greats cards.  I really liked this insert set in the base set, but the Chrome version is not quite as cool because it is not die-cut.  

3.  Xander Bogaerts.  This is from the All Star insert set, hence the weird charcoal-colored uniform.  I don't like these All Star uniforms, I always thought it was cool to see all of the team uniforms in the All Star Game.  Bogaerts was a four-time All Star with the Red Sox.

4.  Jarren Duran.  Here is another purple refractor of the over-exposed outfielder.  I wonder if Topps will make many cards of him in 2023.

5.  Jarren Duran.  Oddly, this is the only base card I received in this break.  I have no explanation for that.

6.  Rafael Devers.  One card closer to 300.  This is the Generation Now insert.  I could have gotten a couple of other Devers cards, but at least I got an insert.  

7.  Wade Boggs.  Another Diamond Greats card, this one of my first favorite player.

8.  Rob Refsnyder.  And another purple refractor.  This makes four Refsnyder cards, currently tied for second among the new acquisitions in 2022.  Not bad for a guy that was a minor league free agent.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Random Jack Lopez Buy


I threw in a random bid on this Ebay item figuring I was not likely to add too many Jack Lopez cards to my collection.  Lopez was kind of an interesting story in 2021.  The career minor leaguer was drafted by the Royals back in 2011 and spent several seasons in their system.  He then signed with the Braves organization in 2019.  He didn't play due to the COVID situation in 2020, then signed on with the Red Sox.  He was never even on the Red Sox 40 man roster, but due to the COVID outbreak among the Red Sox late in 2021, Lopez was brought to the Majors.  

Lopez ended up playing in seven games in the Majors.  He recorded just two hits, but both were doubles.  He played every game at second base, and made just one error.  Lopez hit .285 in the minors and managed to sign on with the Tigers organization after the season, but did not appear again in the Majors.  Time will tell if 2021 was Lopez's only shot.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

2022 Topps Holiday Group Break

I threw in a barely serious Ebay bid on a break of some Topps Holiday boxes.  I never bought any of them myself this year.  Honestly, Topps releases far too many variations of their flagship set.  There's Chrome, Holiday, Chrome Sapphire, Chrome Ben Baller, Topps UK and Topps Mini.  There's no reason for this.  We really need more than one company to have a license.  

Anyway, here is the break:

1.  Jarren Duran.  The key cards out of this set are the short-printed image variations that come in a couple of tiers.  This is one of those variations, though it is the most common tier.  Duran's right forearm sleeve is altered to look like candy striping.  This was the only non-base card I received.

2.  Eric Hosmer.  This card made me happy though.  Hosmer was destined to not have many cards with the Red Sox since he only played 14 games.  I am guessing every single one will have this picture though.  

3.  Xander Bogaerts.  I wonder if there will be Bogaerts cards with the Red Sox in 2023.  I am guessing there will be some, but he did sign somewhat early with the Padres.  

4.  Trevor Story.  Story will miss the first couple of months of the season which is not what Boston needed.  It could result in some interesting player personnel decisions.  They acquired Adalberto Mondesi, but they could end up calling upon players like Enmanuel Valdez or Niko Goodrum to play early on.

5.  Jarren Duran.  This is the normal card, note the completely white right forearm sleeve.

6.  Rafael Devers.  Nice to add another Devers card.  One card closer to 300.  

Monday, February 20, 2023

Hope for the Future

One of the biggest criticisms of the Red Sox system for many years has been their inability to develop their own starting pitching.  This has been a problem for a very long time.  Boston does have a few promising pitching prospects in their minor league system right now, but they have had prospects before that did not work out.

That brings me to Brayan Bello, who made his Major League debut last season at the age of 23.  His final numbers were not great (2-8, 4.71 ERA, 55 strikeouts to 27 walks in 57.1 innings pitched), but he improved dramatically over the course of the year.  He maybe was not ready when he was called up when Boston needed pitching, but he settled in and his curveball is the real deal.  He may not start the 2023 season in the rotation, but it should not be long before he is a mainstay of the rotation.  Just a quick note, there is also Tanner Houck and he could very well end up a starter, but for right now his role is in flux.  There is no doubt he is a Major League pitcher though.

Bello made eleven starts in 2022.  He could quickly become the first homegrown pitcher to make more than 25 starts in several years.  Let's look at the homegrown pitchers and how many starts they have had over the last, oh, ten years.  I am defining "homegrown" as drafted by or signed as an amateur free agent by the team.  Players acquired in trade (i.e. Eduardo Rodriguez and Josh Winckowski), or brought over from another professional league (Hector Velazquez) do not count.  Also, players who were once homegrown, then traded but returned do not count (Justin Masterson).

Kutter Crawford: 12
Brayan Bello: 11
Tanner Houck: 4

Tanner Houck: 13
Kutter Crawford: 1

Tanner Houck: 3
Kyle Hart: 3

Brian Johnson: 7
Travis Lakins: 3
Darwinzon Hernandez: 1
Bobby Poyner: 1

Brian Johnson: 13
William Cuevas: 1
Jalen Beeks: 1

Brian Johnson: 5

Henry Owens: 5

Clay Buchholz: 18
Henry Owens: 11
Matt Barnes: 2
Brian Johnson: 1

Clay Buchholz: 28 (we had to go back all the way to 2014 to find a pitcher with 20 starts)
Jon Lester: 21 (traded at the deadline)
Brandon Workman: 15
Felix Doubront: 10 (traded at the deadline)
Anthony Ranaudo: 7

Jon Lester: 33
Felix Doubront: 27
Clay Buchholz: 16
Brandon Workman: 3

Yeah, that's pretty rough.  You have to go all the way back to 2014 to get a homegrown starter that started more than 20 games.  Clay Buchholz was the last remaining homegrown starter who had a lengthy career with Boston.  Jon Lester was the last homegrown star that Boston had.  In the time that passed, there have been several top pitching prospects that have not been able to carry their success over, such as Henry Owens, Anthony Ranaudo and Brian Johnson.  A few others have moved to the bullpen where they have had success, such as Matt Barnes and Brandon Workman.  Hopefully Bello or Houck can break this string.  

Sunday, February 19, 2023

A Plethora of Devers

I really had not considered making any collecting goals for this year.  That is not something I do frequently, but there have been times.  More than anything, I usually just like to collect for the sake of collecting.  But, I did have a thought when Boston locked up Rafael Devers for the next eleven seasons.  I had a decent number of Devers cards, but he was trailing former Red Sox Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts by a fair margin.  So, I decided shooting for 300 would put Devers far ahead of his former teammates.  So that's it.  300 Rafael Devers cards is the collecting goal for 2023.

So I started off on the right foot with a couple of Ebay lots and some interesting singles.  Here is the first lot:

The highlights from this first lot (which was actually some random inserts I selected from one seller) include the Heart of the City card which features Devers standing over the Boston skyline and the Topps Fire En Fuego die-cut insert.  The Spring Has Sprung card features Devers joking with Xander Bogaerts and Eduardo Nunez.  

Up next is a single card I picked up, the Topps Black Gold card.  I remember these cards being a big deal back in 1993.  What makes this card even more impressive is the City Connect uniform.

And finally, I bought a very large lot and there are definitely some interesting cards here.  Up first is Devers's Bowman Chrome Top Prospects card from Bowman Draft.  This was Devers's first card in the Majors.  The fourth card in the scan is the image variation from 2018 Topps, his rookie card.  Then the Finest rookie card.  That's two rookie cards, including an image variation, and the Chrome version of his first-year card.  That was a pretty impressive buy.  Plus then there are all the other inserts pictured.

And we finish things out with the rest of that lot.  A couple more inserts, a base card and the purple Prizm parallel.  Then, a third rookie card shows up, this one from Bowman High Tek.  

So with the new goal in mind, I added 22 new Devers cards in these lots.  That takes me up above 200 total Devers cards.  I would say the goal is definitely reachable.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Another A&G Blaster

I was itching to open some packs one night and decided to grab another blaster of Allen & Ginter.  I only had one base card from the team set, so I figured it was unlikely to pull any duplicates.

Well, it's tough to go wrong with a couple of Hall of Famers.

1.  Pedro Martinez.  Every Pedro Martinez start in Boston was an event.  It was simply incredible to see how much of an impact he had on the crowd.  He may have been the greatest pitcher I have ever seen during his 1999-2000 seasons.  I am so glad I was able to watch him at his best. 

2.  Ted Williams.  On the other hand, I missed out on Williams's career.  The only thing I saw from Williams was his appearance at the 1999 All Star Game, which Martinez started and won the All Star Game MVP Award.  Williams was brought onto the field for the All Century Team celebration and it was definitely an outpouring of awe from the players at the game.  

Friday, February 17, 2023

More Randomness and the Jason Varitek Quest for 1,000: #980

I bought a bunch of random singles from Burbank Sportscards recently.  Mostly, it was a way to add some cheap vintage cards, but it also added a Jason Varitek card to the collection.  There was not much rhyme or reason for most of the cards, but that's the fun of it.

1.  Dennis Bennett.  I decided the 1967 Topps set should be the next vintage team set I should collect after recently finishing the 1959 Topps team set.  Bennett was acquired in a rather poor trade from the Phillies for Dick Stuart.  After being acquired, it was learned that Bennett was hurt, but Boston chose not to revisit the trade.  Bennett spent parts of three seasons with Boston and went 12-13 with a 3.96 ERA, 166 strikeouts and 98 walks in 286.1 innings pitched.  

2.  Bob Tillman.  Tillman once held the Red Sox single season record for home runs by a catcher.  He hit 17 in a very good 1964 season.  That was eclipsed in Carlton Fisk's rookie season.  Tillman was my selection for the top Red Sox catcher of the 1960's.  He hit 49 career home runs with the Red Sox and batted .236/.307/.372.

3.  George Smith.  Smith spent just one season with the Red Sox and was the primary second-baseman in 1966.  He was not listed on my All-Time One-Year Wonder Second-Baseman post because he never played in more than 52 games in his other three seasons.  He was part of the return, along with George Thomas, when Boston sent former ace Bill Monbouquette to Detroit.  Smith hit .213/.283/.340 with eight home runs and 37 RBIs.

4.  Dan Osinski.  Osinski was acquired from the Braves along with Bob Sadowski for Lee Thomas and Arnold Earley.  Osinski spent two seasons in the bullpen with the Red Sox and was fairly impressive.  He had a 3.09 ERA in 131 innings pitched for the Red Sox and a record of 7-4.  He struck out 82 and walked 42.  His ERA in the Impossible Dream season was a terrific 2.54.  Despite that, he was released early in the 1968 season.

5.  Reggie Smith.  This is a slightly newer card of one of the most underrated players in baseball history, Reggie Smith.  I still think he has a possible Hall of Fame argument.  He just needs to get onto an Eras Committee ballot.  In 17 seasons, he hit .287/.366/.489 with 314 home runs and 1,092 RBIs.  With Boston, he hit .281/.354/.471 with 149 home runs and 536 RBIs.  He was an All Star twice and won his only Gold Glove in Boston.

6.  Jim Rice.  I was supposed to get this card in a package last year and never received it, so I had to buy it.  This is an oddball card from 1992 and I like the embossed design.  Rice of course is a Hall of Famer with the Red Sox.  Not that there is any competition.  

7.  Mike Lowell.  Lowell was the 2007 World Series MVP when he hit .400/.500/.800 with three doubles, a home run and four RBIs.  He also stole a base and scored six runs.  Lowell spent five seasons with the Red Sox and hit .290/.346/.468 with 80 home runs and 374 RBIs.  He was an All Star in 2007 and finished fifth in the MVP vote.  

8.  Alex Gonzalez.  I had been looking for this card for awhile.  Gonzalez was with the Red Sox in 2006 and then in 2009.  He had a reputation for being a glove-first shortstop.  In his first season, Gonzalez hit .255/.299/.397 with nine home runs and 50 RBIs, certainly living up to his reputation.  He did better in his second stint, hitting .284/.316/.453 in 44 games.  He hit five home runs and drove in 15 runs.  

9.  Manny Ramirez/Jason Varitek.  Here is the Varitek card from the Cut from the Same Cloth insert set.  I have a lot of these cards with Varitek paired with a couple of different players and several different colored parallels.  It is honestly surprising I did not have this one.  Yes, Manny Ramirez is on the card too.  Ramirez and Varitek were both on the 2004 and 2007 World Championship teams.  Ramirez was the 2004 World Series MVP.

10.  George Thomas.  I mentioned Thomas when I talked about George Smith.  They were acquired together.  Thomas spent six years in Boston primarily as a bench outfielder.  He never reached 70 games played in Boston.  His best season was 1970, when he hit .343/.420/.485.  In Boston, he hit .264/.338/.370 with nine home runs and 49 RBIs.

11.  Eddie Bressoud.  I talked about Bressoud recently.  After getting the Fan Favorites auto, I decided I should add another Bressoud card.  It is just my third Bressoud card, and the first one from his playing days.  This is the 1964 card, which is the year he made his only All Star team.

12.  Fred Lynn.  And closing things out with a Kellogg's card.  I love these oddball cards.  I would love it if we could get food issue oddballs again, but with the current climate of the sports card industry, that seems unlikely.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

R.I.P. Tim McCarver

Today, longtime broadcaster and former catcher Tim McCarver passed away at the age of 81.  McCarver had a surprisingly great career as a player, hitting .271/.337/.388 over a 21-year-career primarily with the Cardinals and Phillies.  He was an All Star twice and finished second in the N.L. MVP vote in 1967 with the Cardinals.  McCarver played in 23 games over parts of two seasons with the Red Sox from 1974 to 1975.  He hit .306/.370/.408 with three doubles, four RBIs and a stolen base with the Red Sox.

I remember McCarver of course from his broadcasting days, and to be honest, I was not really a fan.  I understand he was much better earlier, but the last few years that he was broadcasting games on Fox, he would make some weird, off-the-wall comments, like talking about how Shawn Chacon wears his hat like a left-hander and Derek Jeter is so successful because he has calm eyes.  

Nevertheless, it is a sad day.  McCarver was a widely respected man in baseball.    

2022 Stadium Club Blaster

I look forward to Stadium Club every year because of the amazing photography.  So far, I have attempted to not look into what the photos are so that I can be surprised when I get the Red Sox cards.  This blaster had just 40 cards in it, so I was not expecting much.  I did end up beating the odds by pulling two Red Sox cards.

1.  Connor Seabold.  Seabold was acquired in the trade that sent Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree to the Phillies.  Seabold was considered at the time to be the big piece as he was an impressive pitching prospect.  Unfortunately, that has not worked out and the other piece, Nick Pivetta, has been more impressive.  Seabold got roughed up in the Majors last season.  He went 0-4 in five starts and had an ERA of 11.29, striking out 19 and walking eight in 18.1 innings.  Seabold was traded to the Rockies recently.  This is a somewhat ordinary action picture of Seabold pitching, though I do like the ball suspended in the air.

2.  J.D. Martinez.  Martinez signed with the Dodgers, so neither of these players is still with Boston.  But, this pic is definitely my favorite of the two, featuring a shot of the home run cart and the City Connect uniforms.  It is going to be tough to top this picture from this set, but I never discount Stadium Club.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Goodbye Matt Barnes

Well, getting this card was unfortunate timing.  Matt Barnes, who I mentioned having a tenuous grasp on a roster spot a couple months ago, has been traded to the Marlins for Richard Bleier.  And I had just gotten this card a few weeks before.

This is a relic serial-numbered to just ten and featuring a patch with some green lettering.  I am guessing it is from the St. Patrick's Day or Boston Marathon uniforms.  Plus, Barnes is wearing a red jersey with a camo hat on.  There is a LOT going on with this card.

Barnes was Boston's longest-tenured player after Xander Bogaerts signed with the Padres.  Then, he was traded.  Barnes was Boston's top pick in the 2011 Draft, 19th overall.  This was the same draft that produced Blake Swihart, Henry Owens, Jackie Bradley Jr. and, of course, Mookie Betts.  It was a pretty good draft for Boston.  

Barnes moved fairly quickly through the minor league system and made his Major League debut in 2014.  The next season, he became a big part of the bullpen.  He had high ERAs for the first couple of seasons, but started racking up the strikeouts.  2017 was his first really good season as he went 7-3 with a 3.88 ERA, striking out 83 in 69.2 innings pitched.  He struck out 96 batters in just 61.2 innings pitched in 2018 with a 3.65 ERA.  He was a big part of the bullpen for the World Champions and threw 8.2 innings in the postseason, only allowing one run.

2019 saw Barnes start to get a bit more time as the closer.  He had his best season with a 3.78 ERA, striking out a career-high 110 batters while walking 38 in 64.1 innings pitched.  He notched four saves.  After Brandon Workman was traded in 2020, Barnes became the closer.  He saved nine games in the abbreviated season.  Then, he looked like an elite closer in the first half of 2021.  

In the first half of the 2021 season, Barnes had a record of 4-2 with a 2.61 ERA.  In 38 innings pitched, he struck out 63 and walked 11 and saved 19 games.  He was named to the All Star team for the first time.  Unfortunately, his numbers plummeted in the second half and he finished 6-5 with a 3.79 ERA, 22 saves and 84 strikeouts to 20 walks in 54.2 innings pitched.  He continued to struggled in the first half of the 2022 season, but came on strong in the end.

For his Boston career, Barnes had a record of 32-30 with a 4.07 ERA.  He appeared in 429 games, throwing 431.2 innings.  He notched 556 strikeouts while walking 200 and picked up 47 saves.  Barnes goes down as a very good setup man during his career, who was a highly effective closer for a little while.  He will be remembered in Boston.  He was an All Star and a World Champion.

At this time, Chris Sale is now the longest-tenured player in the Majors with Rafael Devers the longest in the organization.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023


Topps has been releasing these Game Within the Game cards for a few years now.  Featuring the amazing artwork of Paul Jennis, these are very impressive cards that are only available online.  There have been only about 12-16 cards released each of the last three years.  I have been watching them, waiting for a Red Sox card.  With this kind of release schedule, obviously the player selection is not impressive.  There has been a mix of retired and current players.  Annoyingly, there have been six Yankees cards.  But, finally, we have a Red Sox card.

Well, Ted Williams is certainly a worthy inclusion in a set that includes Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Roberto Clemente among its retired players.  Williams is an absolute legend of the game.  A terrific hitter who holds the all-time career record for on-base percentage and hit 521 home runs.  He is also, to date, the last hitter to bat over .400.  In addition, Williams gave up almost five seasons of his career to military service and used his Hall of Fame induction speech to advocate for the enshrinement of Negro Leagues players.  Williams is a true legend of the game and absolutely worthy of inclusion in this set.

It would be nice to see a couple more Red Sox in this set.  Rafael Devers certainly merits inclusion.  Maybe even David Ortiz.  

Monday, February 13, 2023

Allen & Ginter and Heritage High Numbers Blasters

I must have had some money to burn the day I bought blasters of both Allen & Ginter and Heritage High Numbers.  One break went pretty poorly, the other went well, though no big pulls in either one.

Up first is Allen & Ginter.  A&G is not one of my favorite sets, but it had Jason Varitek in the set, so I decided to take my chances.

1.  Chris Sale.  Unfortunately, this was my only card from the A&G break.  Sale should be healthy going into the 2023 season.  I doubt we see him as dominant as he was in 2018, but he should be a valuable pitcher.  

Up next was Heritage High Numbers.  This had a couple of players I was looking forward to.  I always do like Update sets.

2.  Kutter Crawford.  Crawford had some hype going into the 2022 season as a potential bullpen weapon.  He pitched reasonably well for a little while, then was overused and got hurt.  He ended up with a 3-6 record, 5.47 ERA and 77 strikeouts to 29 walks in 77.1 innings.  He could get another chance at a bullpen job in 2023.

3.  Eric Hosmer.  This is one of the cards I was excited about.  It's my first Hosmer card.  Hosmer was acquired from the Padres at the trading deadline along with low-level prospects Corey Rosier and Max Ferguson for one-time elite pitching prospect Jay Groome.  Hosmer didn't do much in Boston and was DFA'd in the offseason and signed with the Cubs.  Hosmer played in just 14 games with the Red Sox and only hit .244/.320/.311 with no home runs, three doubles and four RBIs.  His days of being a star certainly appear to be over, but he has had a good career.  

4.  Kevin Plawecki.  I was a little surprised by Plawecki's inclusion since he was released in September.  After a couple of good seasons with Boston, Plawecki's 2022 was pretty rough, hitting just .217/.287/.287 with just one home run.   I would have preferred seeing Reese McGuire, who was acquired just prior to the trading deadline.  

5.  Chris Sale.  Another Sale card.  His inclusion is also a little odd, but this is High Numbers, not technically an Update set.  Sale finally made his season debut in July.  He was terrific in that game, pitching five innings with just three hits and a walk while striking out five.  Then, he broke his finger after being hit by a line drive in his second game.  Then suffered another injury and was out for the year.  Bad luck.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Topps Now Turn Back the Clock: October 29, 2022

On October 29, 1975, Fred Lynn was named the A.L. Rookie of the Year.  He would also win the MVP award, becoming the first rookie to ever win both in the same season.  Ichiro Suzuki would later match that feat, but with the caveat that he had spent several seasons in the Japanese major league.  

Lynn may have set the bar too high in his rookie season.  He continued to have some very good seasons, but only seldomly lived up to that huge rookie season.  His best season though was his 1979 season when he won the batting title and hit .333/.423/.637 with 39 home runs, 42 doubles and 122 RBIs.  He led the league in all three slash categories.  Unfortunately, he would never have a season close to that again.  

Injuries probably kept Lynn out of the Hall of Fame.  Though with some of the more recent inductees, it appears the bar has lowered somewhat.  If he were to get on an Era Committee ballot, anything could happen.  He certainly was a famous player.  I would say he was at the least, better than Harold Baines.  

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Topps Lauren Taylor Team Set

Yeah, it's two cards.  It's still the team set.  Anyway, I mentioned during the Project 70 series that my favorite artist was easily Lauren Taylor.  I loved her stuff and grabbed both of the Red Sox cards she contributed, Xander Bogaerts and a Rafael Devers/Nolan Arenado All Star special card.  So, when it was announced that she would be doing a full set, I knew I was going to get whatever Red Sox cards would be available.

1.  Jarren Duran.  It was probably a contractual obligation to include Jarren Duran.  I am negative on Duran a lot, and I really don't mean to be.  I would love to see him play in the Majors as well as he has in the minors.  In two levels in 2019, he hit .303/.367/.408 with 46 stolen bases.  His power increased in 2021 to the point that he hit 16 home runs.  He is going to be 26 years old this year.  He could still come through.

2.  David Ortiz.  I am sort of disappointed that we did not have more cards commemorating Ortiz being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2022.  It was Ortiz's first year on the ballot and he made it onto 77.9% of ballots cast.  I remember the early voting did not look too promising, but it built up significantly over time.  

And just a note about the artwork.  It is incredible as usual.  I would love to see Taylor contribute to more cards in the future.  

Friday, February 10, 2023

2022 Topps Archives Blaster

Cards are becoming easier to find in retail stores in my area, so I have actually been buying occasionally.  I am definitely going to have to get my tradelist updated so I can start trading again then because I have not been doing well with retail breaks.  Maybe when I get through my trial in March.

That brings me to Archives.  I already bought the best card in the set with the Fan Favorites auto of Eddie Bressoud, so I didn't think I was going to get anything too terribly exciting.  I did okay though:

It is sort of interesting that all three cards I pulled were retired players.  And they were some of the best homegrown players Boston has had during my fandom.

1.  Wade Boggs.  I have mentioned a lot that Boggs was my first favorite player.  The Chicken Man had already had his best seasons by the time I started watching, but he still had something left, particularly in 1991.  That year, he finished second in the batting race and hit .332/.421/.460.  He had 181 hits, 42 doubles, eight home runs and 51 RBIs.  He was an All Star and won the Silver Slugger.  It was his last great season with the Red Sox.  He had his first bad year in 1992, then left the Red Sox for the Yankees.  I was pretty devastated.  

2.  Roger Clemens.  Clemens quickly become my next favorite player after Boggs left.  Clemens stuck around for a few more years, but by 1993, his best seasons with the Red Sox were also done.  Clemens won the Cy Young Award in 1991, the first year I watched baseball.  Clemens was 18-10 with a league-leading 2.62 ERA and 241 strikeouts.  He finished third in the 1992 vote, but probably should have won as he was 18-11 with 208 strikeouts and led the league again with a 2.41 ERA.  Dennis Eckersley won it that year after a terrific season as a closer and Jack McDowell was second after winning 20 games.  Neither were as good as Clemens though.  Clemens had a rough year in 1993, but was very good, but suffered injuries in 1994 and 1995.  1996 was his last season in Boston and he led the league in strikeouts with 257.  He left for Toronto after the season.  Again, I was not happy.

3.  Nomar Garciaparra.  After Clemens left, Mo Vaughn was my favorite player.  After Vaughn left, there was Nomar.  There was a TON of hype for Nomar when he was coming up.  It was the first time I had experienced that as a Red Sox fan.  There was hype for Phil Plantier and Mo Vaughn, but Nomar was another level.  And he was good immediately.  His rookie season saw him lead the league in hits (209) and triples (11).  He hit .306/.342/.534 with 30 home runs, 44 doubles, 98 RBIs and 22 stolen bases.  It is still the best rookie season for the Red Sox I have ever seen.  I still think he should get another look by the Eras Committee for the Hall of Fame, particularly if they eventually elect Don Mattingly.  

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Topps Now: September 1, 2022

This is the last of the Topps Now cards for the 2022 season to date.  Before I get to it, I will note that it is a parallel.  I ordered the base card, which apparently never got delivered to this particular seller.  By the time I was made aware of this, the base card was almost impossible to find for a reasonable price.  So I bought the parallel, because I had to have SOMETHING of this card.

On September 1, Rich Hill started a game against the Rangers and was less than sharp.  He lasted just four innings, giving up four runs on five hits and four walks.  He struck out two.  John Schreiber and Kaleb Ort kept the game close, but then the Rangers scored two runs each off of Zack Kelly and Eduard Bazardo.  Boston went into the bottom of the eighth inning down 8-3.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Red Sox got to within three on hits by Rafael Devers and Christian Arroyo.  Then, in the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox exploded for four runs to walk it off.  Tommy Pham and Alex Verdugo drew walks right away off of Jonathan Hernandez.  Xander Bogaerts singled to load the bases.  Devers came through again with a two-run double and Boston was within one.  After J.D. Martinez struck out, Arroyo was intentionally walked to put the double play in order.  Enrique Hernandez singled to score Bogaerts and move Devers to third and Rob Refsnyder came to the plate.  Refsnyder promptly singled to left to secure the win for the Red Sox.  The card says he doubled, but it was just a single.  That was all that was needed.  

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

All-Time One-Year Wonder Update for 2022: Lefty Reliever

I was not able to pull his base card in my blaster of Update, but I did buy this shiny green card of Matt Strahm, so it's time to talk about him.

When I did my post on the All-Time One-Year Wonder for left-handed relievers, my pick for the best at the time was Billy Wagner.  Wagner was acquired late in the 2009 season, but was a dominant force in just 15 games.  While I oftentimes preferred a player who spent more time in Boston for my top selections, I simply could not ignore his 1.98 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 13.2 innings pitched.  Plus, the main competition came from Chris Howard, who did not have much of a Major League career outside of the one year with the Red Sox, and then mostly ordinary partial seasons from Greg Swindell, J.C. Romero and Matt Thornton.  Most of the players did not spend even a full season with the Red Sox.  

Which brings us to Matt Strahm.  Strahm did spend the entire 2022 season with the Red Sox, something that was lacking from the reasonable competition in my post.  Strahm had generally pitched well during his career, but missed significant time with injury in 2021, pitching in just six games.  He was therefore an inexpensive addition to the team in 2022.

Strahm made it into 50 games during the 2022 season and had flashes of brilliance.  He finished with a record of 4-4 with a 3.83 ERA.  In 44.2 innings pitched, he struck out 52 batters while walking 17.  For a time, it looked like he would take over the closer role.  He ended up saving four games (fifth on the team) and finished ten.  He pitched well enough that the Phillies snatched him up on a two-year deal after the season.  Plus, he had great hair.

So where does Strahm fit in compared to Billy Wagner?  Well, let's start with the obvious.  Wagner could get into the Hall of Fame next year after his big jump in the voting.  Strahm is not headed that direction.  But, this is about what each pitcher did for Boston, not in their careers.  Strahm was certainly not as dominant as Wagner, but he did strike out 10.5 batters per nine innings.  Wagner though was 14.5.  Strahm's ERA was almost two runs higher than Wagner as well.  And their WAR was equal at 0.3, which I think says more about Wagner than Strahm.  

Strahm was certainly not the dominant force that Wagner was.  Where he has the advantage though is that he played the entire season with Boston and was pretty good.  His 50 games were significantly more than any of the pitchers I discussed in that post.  Only Mark Guthrie came close with 43 games.  So while he was not as dominant, he appeared in a lot more games and was still a reasonably impressive pitcher.  There was a similar argument in the right-handed relievers post in which Larry Andersen's extreme dominance was not enough to beat out Takashi Saito's very good numbers over an entire season.  Saito though, was much better than Strahm.  Just looking at WAR, Saito was 1.6 versus Strahm's 0.3.  So it is not quite as equivalent of a situation (although Andersen costing the Red Sox Jeff Bagwell took points off from him as well).  

It's close, but I think I am going to stick with Wagner's dominance and status as a likely future Hall of Famer over Strahm's consistency over a full season.  It may seem odd, but it is my choice.  

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Underrated Player of the Year: 2022

In this series, I look at one player per year from 1991-the present who came out of nowhere or had a great year that no one really noticed or expected.

I will get to my normal series posts once I am completely caught up on showing off the cards I have been getting.  That is due to be later this month.  This is one of my normal series posts and a way to show off this new parallel of Rob Refnsyder.

Like I said yesterday, I wanted to talk more at-length about Refnsyder.  He came up through the Yankees system and was a very good contact hitter in the minors.  I distinctly remember getting into an argument with a forum member about whether or not he was going to be a huge star.  I did not think he would be.  Just because he showed elite contact hitting skills in the minors did not always translate in the Majors.  Brock Holt won the batting title in the minors one year.  Well, I was correct about that.  In parts of three seasons with the Yankees, Refsnyder hit just .241/.312/.332.  He then became a bit of a journeyman, appearing with the Rays, Blue Jays, Twins and Rangers, though never hitting much.  Incidentally, I came out the losing end of an argument with that same forum member about Blake Swihart, though I still maintain Boston screwed him up by changing his position.  They should have just let him grow into the position.

Anyway, back to Refnsyder.  The Red Sox picked him up as a free agent in December.  He started the year in the minors and was hitting well.  Boston needed some reinforcements in the outfield and so called him up.  And he never stopped hitting.  He played in just 57 games, but was a revelation at the plate, and in the field.  Refsnyder ended up hitting .307/.384/.497 with six home runs and 21 RBIs.  He also made one of the great defensive plays of the year for the team at one point, leaping to catch a ball headed for the outfield wall.  He played so well that Boston locked him up for the 2023 season very soon after the season ended.  He is not expected to be a starting outfielder, but when your bench player can hit over .300 and play terrific defense at all three outfield positions, you really have something.  

John Schreiber was also considered, but since he has not appeared on any cards yet, I chose to go with Refsnyder.  Sure, it's arbitrary and possibly wrong, but it's my blog.

Monday, February 6, 2023

2022 Topps Update Blaster

Topps Update is another set that I look forward to every year.  I like getting cards of new players with the Red Sox and it seems like Update includes one very obscure player every year.  Time will tell if any of the players in this year's set will only appear in it, but there are a couple of candidates.  

Since 2005, the players who have received their only Red Sox card (or close to it) in Update have included John Olerud, Kevin Jarvis, Carlos Pena, David Aardsma, Casey Kotchman, Eric Patterson, Bill Hall, Matt Albers, James Loney, Matt Thornton, Jonathan Herrera, Kelly Johnson, Jean Machi, Alexi Ogando, Carlos Peguero, Doug Fister, Ben Taylor, Kyle Martin, Mike Shawaryn, Josh Taylor and Adam Ottavino.  We will see if there is anyone to add to the list from this year.

1.  Rob Refsnyder.  This is the first candidate.  He does have some relics in high-end products as well, but that doesn't disqualify him.  The one-time Yankee prospect had a really good season in 2022 and parlayed that into a Major League contract for 2023, so there is still a possibility he will get some more cards in 2023.  I will talk much more at length about Refsnyder very soon, so I won't delve too much into him.  Matt Strahm is the other candidate, but I was not able to pull his card.

2.  Trevor Story.  Well, we knew Story would likely appear in Update since he signed too late to make it into Series 2.  There will be plenty of Story cards.

3.  Jarren Duran.  I actually managed to get a few inserts out of this blaster.  That hasn't been happening nearly enough.  This is the Chrome version of the Stars of MLB insert.  Though I think in this case, they used the term "Stars" loosely, or it was wishful thinking.

4.  Rich Hill.  Nice to finally see Hill getting some card recognition in his, I think, FOURTH stint with Boston and his fifth year.  Hill did about what was expected from him in 2022.  He wasn't great, but he had his moments.

5.  Rafael Devers/Enrique Hernandez.  I still think these combo cards can be a little boring.  They're fine, but it would be better to do cards of more players.  There are still a ton of players from the 2022 roster that I do not have cards of.  John Schreiber in particular would have been nice to see in this set.

6.  Jarren Duran.  Here is the regular version of this card.  I know it sounds like I don't like Duran, but that's not true.  He's been very disappointing in the Majors though and I am not sure that will be changing.

7.  Pedro Martinez.  Another insert, though this one is a bit more deserved.  Martinez had some terrific moments in the postseason with the Red Sox.  He was 6-2 with the Red Sox with a 3.41 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 79.1 innings pitched.  His biggest moment was his relief outing against the Indians in the 1999 ALDS Game 5 when he threw six hitless innings, striking out eight, to wrap up the series.  

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Topps Now: September 5, 2022

It seems odd after the year that he had that the only Michael Wacha cards available with the Red Sox are Topps Now cards or really high-end relics.  I think that will change since he has yet to officially sign elsewhere.  If he does go somewhere else though, there will be a decision to make as to whether he supplants Hideo Nomo as the All-Time One-Year Right-Handed Starter.

On September 5, Wacha started against the Rays.  It was not one of his better games as the Red Sox lost the game 4-3, but that was not the fault of Wacha.  He pitched six strong innings, giving up just two runs, scattering seven hits and striking out seven batters while not allowing a walk.  He recorded his 1,000th career strikeout in the game.  Wacha did not figure in the decision as Jeurys Familia allowed two runs to take the loss.  Alex Verdugo homered in the game.  

Saturday, February 4, 2023

The Jason Varitek Quest for 1,000: #979

Card #979 comes from 2022 Topps 206.  Am I the only one that is a little frustrated with all of the online-only sets?  What I do like about this card is that it is mini-sized, the size of the original T206 cards.  It certainly captures the feel of the cards.  An interesting thing I noticed is that Varitek's jersey does not feature the "C" for Captain on this card.  That seems a little surprising.  21 to go.

Friday, February 3, 2023

Fan Favorites Auto: Eddie Bressoud

One of my most anticipated sets each year is Topps Archives.  Not because I like the set itself, but because of the Fan Favorites autograph set.  Fan Favorites was one of my favorite sets when it came out in 2003 and I collected it the next two years.  It was such a cool idea.  Bringing a lot of players back that were popular, but maybe not the best players.  There were plenty of stars too.  Fan Favorites only exists at this time in the form of the autographed set in Archives, but the idea is the same.  Previous years have seen autographed Red Sox cards for players like Mike Greenwell, Ellis Burks, Rich Gedman, Kevin Millar, Mike Timlin, Jose Offerman and Carl Everett.  Last year's set was kind of disappointing because the only Red Sox player was the uber-short-printed Nomar Garciaparra.  I would much rather have an under-the-radar player that I can find easily.  Which brings us to 2022.

There are still two premium autographed cards.  Roger Clemens and Wade Boggs will be tough to find.  But, this Eddie Bressoud card was not.  This is exactly the kind of player I want to see.  Shortstop Bressoud played for the Red Sox from 1962 through 1965 after being acquired in a trade with the Giants for Don Buddin.  Boston got the better end of the deal as Bressoud found hitting in Fenway to his liking.  For Boston, he hit .270/.337/.435 with 57 home runs, 115 doubles and 208 RBIs.  He hit a career-high 20 home runs in 1963.  He was an All Star the next season when he hit a career-high .293/.372/.456.  The Red Sox were not great in those years, but Bressoud was a solid player.

The only complaint I have with this card is the design used.  This is the 1972 design and Bressoud was out of baseball long before then.  I think it should have been a 1963 or 1964 design.  Otherwise, this is a great card, and one of my favorites of the year.  Bressoud was definitely a surprising choice for an autograph card in 2022.

Thursday, February 2, 2023


I feel like I have been doing way too many Topps Now posts lately.  Unfortunately, due to the retail scarcity most of the year, Topps Now made up most of my card buys in 2022.  One day though I went on a binge of buying a bunch of singles.  And this was the result:

1.  Enrique Hernandez.  Hernandez was kind of my focus in these buys, as will be seen.  I decided I needed a few more cards of the 2021 postseason hero.  So, this Topps Pristine card was the first buy.

2.  Jose Canseco.  This is a Topps Now Turn Back the Clock card that I had to grab because there are not many Canseco cards with the Red Sox these days.  This one commemorates Canseco hitting five home runs in five games in August, 1995.  Had he not gotten hurt in 1996, Canseco might have had one of his greatest seasons.  He hit .289/.400/.589 with 28 home runs and 82 RBIs in just 96 games.  

3.  Kyle Schwarber.  Schwarber will go down as one of Boston's best trade deadline acquisitions.  He was hurt when he was picked up, but hit seven home runs and had a .435 OBP.  He was good in the postseason too.

4.  Dennis Eckersley.  Eck retired from the Red Sox booth last year.  He had some great years as a starter with the Red Sox.  It's nice to see Eck shown with the Red Sox.  Like Canseco, his best years were with the Athletics.

5.  Enrique Hernandez.  Here is #2 of Hernandez, this one from Donruss which was pretty good to me in packs, but I only managed to get two blasters all year.

6.  Nathan Eovaldi.  Another base card from Donruss that eluded me.  Eovaldi will be missed in the rotation this season.  

7.  Marwin Gonzalez.  Here we come to a couple of the 2021 Topps Chrome Platinum Anniversary cards.  This was a huge team set that I am still working on.  Gonzalez did not do much in Boston, and accordingly he didn't get many cards, so I had to grab this one.

8.  Enrique Hernandez.  And we close things out with Hernandez #3.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Topps Now: September 2, 2022

Connor Wong received his first extended look in the Majors in 2022.  The catcher was acquired from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts trade.  He did not produce a lot, but was steady behind the plate.

On September 2, the Red Sox defeated the Rangers 9-1.  Wong started the game at catcher and hit his first Major League home run, a two-run shot.  It was his only hit of the game.  Nick Pivetta started the game, but was pulled after three innings.  Reliever Tyler Danish got the win.  Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez and Enrique Hernandez each had two hits.  Hernandez and Arroyo joined Wong as hitters driving in two runs.

Wong, Reese McGuire and Jorge Alfaro will compete in the Spring for the catching platoon.