Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Tony Blanco

I found this in a dime box at Chameleon Cards & Comics the other day.

At first glance it's just a rookie card of a guy who was in the big leagues of 56 and disappeared. Unless you're a Nationals collector or someone working on the set I doubt you'd pick it up. I picked up because I recognized the name.

Blanco's career stateside is largely limited to his time as a farmhand in the Boston Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds orgs, and his one season as a Washington National. Blanco went on to have an arguably better career overseas in Japan.

Around the time I was in Japan, Blanco was a member of the Chunichi Dragons. He was essentially brought in to be the big foreign power bat in the lineup after Tyron Woods left as a free agent (sidenote, Woods never signed with another team and his career ended not long after that). Blanco did indeed provide some pop as most of the buzz around Blanco doing anything was always centered on his dingers.

Blanco hit 39 dingers in his first season as a NPB player and then 32 dingers after that, both times he also led the Central League in strikeouts.

Blanco spent four seasons with the Dragons before he became a free agent. According to various media outlets, contract negotiations between Blanco and the Dragons were pretty much a mess. They didn't get very far and Blanco ended up going to the Yokohama/DeNA BayStars. He had a few nice seasons with the BayStars before he would up on the Orix Buffalos prior to the 2015 season. He became a free agent again in 2016 and hasn't played professionally since.

At this point the 36 year old Dominican infielder's career is likely done. And yet when I see/hear his name, I'll always remember the gaijin playing for the Dragons.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

Monday, November 27, 2017

Card Show Pickups: Eh

The first time this year I attended a card show. It was, meh and a good reminder why I don't really go to these any more.

If you like old white guys selling you vintage cards of Hank Aaron and Whitey Ford at nearly triple what Beckett prices them at, this show is for you. If you're like me and you're looking for minor leaguers and obscure oddballs, well, good luck.

Of course not everything about the show was bad.

I managed to get another card in the 1979 Topps collection signed. Billy Sample there was the free guest signer.

Sample was very nice and talked a lot with the fans who came up to him to ask for his autograph. Even took pictures with them.
Also, Sample would like to send a message to both Danny Darwin and Pat Putnam, that he is "still the best looking guy on the card" (his words not mine). I'll have to tell Mr. Darwin and Putnam if/when I ever meet them too.

Dale Berra was another signer who was supposed to come but cancelled. He had a card as part of the Pirates Prospects card in the 1979 Topps set, but I didn't have that one so no big loss on my part lol.

So with the free autograph obtained, what else is a guy to do but see if there's something worthwhile at the card show?

Presenting my token vintage Yankees card, one 1940 Play Ball card of George Alexander "Twinkletoes" Selkirk. With a name like Twinkletoes, how could I resist?
The story goes that the Canadian outfielder got his nickname due to how he ran on the bases BTW.

The back of this card says that he's now "ON SENATERS (sic) FARM." After his playing career and military career was over, Selkirk became the General Manager of the Washington Senators (the one that's currently the Texas Rangers). Which means that this card was in the possession of whoever wrote on it between 1940 and 1968 (the year Selkirk got fired). Selkirk continued working baseball related jobs like being a scout for the Yankees after that.

The same vendor had this neat Mike Gonzalez card available for a pretty nice price and I bought it.

Gonzalez's playing career was over by the time this card came out (his playing days were around the time T206es were still new), but he did have a pretty nice coaching/managing career in various parts of the baseball world. The Cuban ex-catcher won four World Series titles with the Cardinals as a coach, and went on to coach/manage various clubs in Cuba too. Gonzalez was temporarily banned from MLB after being involved with a thing that involved major leaguers going to Mexican baseball leagues or something, but he was eventually reinstated (he never returned stateside though).

At the show there was a depressing lack of any deals that could be done with coins. Because I got spoiled in the past I refuse to pay more than a quarter for 1979 Topps (unless it's Ozzie Smith in which case I'd pay a whole $1). The best I could find were some 1979 Topps singles for a quarter each :P. And maybe some older vintage for $1 each.

Although I'm on a hiatus of sorts with the 1979 Topps set, I figure I'd narrow down the focus to something manageable, like maybe completing the Dodgers team set first. I'm a closet Dodgers fan so it should make sense.

If nothing else, I was glad to finally be able to reunite the Ron Cey card I've had for a while with his three teammates in the infield. Normally this would be the part where I declare that I'm going to get all four of these signed, but then I remembered that Bill Russell doesn't sign anymore so there went that idea :P.

And there you have it. A pretty depressing haul, but I could've done a lot worse I suppose.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

2017 IP Autograph Count: 63

Friday, November 24, 2017

A Japanese Trade In 2017 Part 2: 2017 Baseball!

Alright, now for the type of content you people actually want.


In our trade I asked Kimowota-san to get me three packs of 2017 BBM (the Japanese version of Topps flagship) as the Dragons-only product hadn't been out yet at the time of our trade.

These three packs made me more excited than Topps flagship and I was really hoping I could pull something nice like a an autograph of a Dragons player. Maybe even last year's first rounder Yuya Yanagi. Let's find out.

Pack 1.


It's not an autograph but I'm very happy with this Yuya Yanagi rookie card. Yanagi was the Dragons' first round pick last year, and for them he's a guy they desperately need to pan out. Yanagi is armed with a fastball that can reach 150 kilometers and hour (aprox. 93 mph), as well as a nasty curveball. Both helped him be a standout during his college days at Meiji University. Yanagi signed with the Dragons well underslot and fans boo'd the team for being cheap. This season Yanagi was seen as being potentially able to start the season with the Dragons as a starter but injuries to a part of his upper body delayed his 2017 debut. He's since returned to action but spent his time rehabbing with the Dragons' farm team before really rejoining the ichigun club.

This is what the back looks like BTW. Usually the part that has the "The Rookie Story" is supposed to lay out career stats, but for rookies they have blurbs about the player's amateur career.

Eeeeeeeyyyyyyy, two Dragons in a row in the very first pack! This also features blog favorite, Yudai Ohno. He really needs to come stateside. If people think Aaron Judge puns are easy and insufferable, well...

BLAST, my Dragons streak over at two cards :P.
In all fairness though, getting a superstar like Tsutsugoh is a very nice compensation for it though. Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh has been with the Yokohama/DeNA BayStars for a few years now and he's emerged as one of the team's most well recognized player. And possibly their best, although that's up for debate. Or maybe not since he led the league in home runs last year. BayStars fans are happy the team is good again after a decade of being a cellar dweller, Tsutsugoh and the rest of the Stars hope to keep it going.

Hey an insert, a Cross Squall insert. First off, points for creativity in using a word like Squall. Second, this insert features Takashi Toritani, the Tigers' equivalent of Cal Ripken Jr. in that he's appeared in 1,800 consecutive games (possibly more by the time this post goes up) and he's looking to beat the all time NPB record. He even wore a protective face mask to preserve his streak.

That's some serious dedication right there.

W00t!!!! I got a shiny silver facsimile auto of Toshiya Okada!
Okada mostly spent his time recovering from injuries.

Best of all it's numbered 42 of 50!

Pack 2.

AWESOME! Another Dragons rookie!

Here's a familiar name if you kept in touch with Mariners prospects in the last five years. Former M Stefen Romero has a new home with the Orix Buffaloes this season. Romero started the season off very well but after crashing into a wall he injured his left knee he was out for a few weeks recovering. He's since returned in the DH role.

Another Cross Squall insert, this time of Takahiro Norimoto.

I didn't show the back of the Toritani from earlier so here's the back of the Norimoto to make up for it. It's basically just the same picture used in the front except it's not edited and there's some minimal information near the bottom (name, team, position, date of birth, blood type, etc...).

Hark, another gaijin!

We end this pack on a strong note with Shintaro Fujinami. I remember Fujinami getting a lot of buzz when he was getting drafted by the NPB as another high profile pitcher who could end up in the big leagues. Although so far he's been derailed by injuries.

Pack 3.

The man whose redemption card netted me a certified Reggie Jackson autograph.

While all eyes are on Ohtani, some people may have Kikuchi in the back of their minds. The 26 year old lefty has a mid-90's fastball, slider, curveball and changeup. That said don't expect him to be coming stateside yet. The Seibu Lions have stated that they'll post him if he posts double digit win totals in 2017 and 2018. He managed to achieve 16 wins in 2017 so he's halfway there. If no, he'll eligible to be a free agent in 2019.

I scanned Makoto Aduwa here due to how I think it's neat how a half-Nigerian and half-Japanese has a chance to play at the highest level in Japan in 2017. He's armed with a high-80's fastball, a changeup and a slider.

And lastly a checklist for the Nippon-Ham Fighters with a very nice shot going on.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


So with Luis Torrens finally being immortalized on cardboard again as a rookie for the San Diego Padres, it's come with it's own set of pro's and con's for this player collector.

Even though I used the plural version of pro's, there's really only one pro. The fact that I can keep collecting Torrens. It's been three years since Torrens had a card of any kind made in an official capacity. It's finally nice to get some new cards to chase.

Like the gold parallel above.

And this camo parallel.

Numbered 25/25.

But of course there are some cons.

The biggest being that there are a lot of parallels. And something I didn't realize in recent years is that Topps keeps pulling more and more of these things out of nowhere.

Like these 5x7 jumbo cards. I had no idea these existed and I didn't want to know they existed. They're firmly in the "gimmicks for people who collect major leaguers" category, but the fact that they're on my radar only further reinforces that Torrens is indeed a big leaguer.

I picked up the gold (numbered 01/10) and the base (01/49) on eBay.

While I admit that looking at a bigger version of the card is nice, part of me wonders if the people at Topps were so caught up in asking themselves if they could make them bigger, that they never stopped to ask if they should make them bigger.

These are basically the same except that the serial number is in tiny font on the lower left hand corner of the front. The backs aren't worth scanning.

And on top of that, Torrens will have a few more parallels in the upcoming Topps mini set. Because apparently that set will include Update this year :P. Great. Just great.

Look, I don't want to be that guy who complains about the parallels, but I do have a limit. Luckily this is JUST close enough to the limit that I don't unleash negative Kenny. Which pretty much means that if Torrens was in every product this year like Dan Vogelbach was, my brain would've turned to mush and this blog would've died back in mid-May.

I don't know how collectors like P-Town Tom do it. To go after everything the player has been printed on under the sun. I kneel before their power.

I guess this is what I signed on for when I decided to become a supercollector. I made this bed, might as well make it comfy enough to lay in. If nothing else, the idea of having the jumbo, standard sized and mini sized Torrens base cards next to eachother should make for a fun picture.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

Also, Happy (early) Thanksgiving to my American readers. Hope you all have a wonderful time with your loved ones. And if you're going Black Friday shopping, I hope you don't get trampled. And to the non-American readers, I hope your weekend is just as great too.