Sunday, July 28, 2019

En vedette tout l'été chez . . .

With all the Expos talk around the baseball world lately, I thought it would be a good time to share some cards I picked up a few months ago as part of a trade with a Canadian collector:

Provigo was (and still is) a Canadian grocery retailer. As you can see by the French-language website—with English as a secondary optionthey're based in the province of Québec.

The card design is nice and simple. I like the contrasting bright yellow stripe on the bottom that includes the player name and number. (And who are we kidding, the Expos logo and uniform would look good on just about any design.)

As far as I could find, 1986 was the only year that Provigo teamed up with the Expos and MLB to make a team set. There are 28 cards in all, not including the coupons and advertisements you'll see coming up. Provigo also put out a set of 25 stickers for the Montreal Canadiens and Québec Nordiques during the 1985-86 hockey season.

Here's an example of the card back:

Just like O-Pee-Chee cards, the bio and blurb on the Provigo cards are printed in French and English. 

I wasn't aware that Hubie Brooks called Irvington, NY his home. That's not too far from where I live now, and must have been where he lived when he played for the New York Mets (1980 through 1984). 

Irvington is a quiet little town that runs right along the Hudson River, named after New York writer Washington Irving. Seems like it would have been a bit of a drive to get to Shea Stadium in Queens, but if Mr. Brooks enjoyed the quiet, peaceful life, he made a good choice.

Let's get to the other cards I picked up in the trade:

Here's an offer for a card-collector's albumonly $1.99 CAD plus tax!

Note the perforation marks along the right side, suggesting that these special-offer cards may have been an insert in some sort of flyer or coupon book.

Next up, it's Youppi! the mascot, helping to advertise the Ultramar and Gulf companies. More specifically, it says that Youppi! himself will be featured all summer at Ultramar and Gulf locations. That's a lot of Youppis!

Speaking of a lot of Youppis, is that a red Youppi! and a yellow Youppi! at the bottom left of this Hostess coupon?? 

No. After conducting some research, all three of those guys are mascots for Hostess potato chips. They're called "The Munchies".

Youppi! himself did get a card, though. He's pictured in his familiar spot on top of the dugout. This time he's playing the saxophone. Looks like a natural.

And here's Youppi's bio and blurb. I think it's a great write-up. 

If you're wondering what he's up to these days, Youppi! is the official mascot of the Montreal Canadiens. He made the transition from baseball to hockey back in 2005.

When you think about the Expos, it's hard not to smile. Back in the 1980s and 1990s they had some talented teams and were fun to watch. (Think Andre Dawson, Tim Raines, Gary Carter, Steve Rogers, Jeff Reardon, Andres Galarraga, Tim Wallach, Moises Alou, Larry Walker, Vladimir Guerrero, Marquis Grissom, Pedro Martinez.)

These cards provide a great reminder of that, and I'm happy I have a few of them in my collection now. 

It sure would be fun to see Major League baseball in Montreal again. I wonder if Youppi! is out there having a catch somewhere right now and getting his baseball routine warmed up, just in case.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

The Well-Matched Card

Note: While this post was sitting in my queue, another Greg in another area of New York (he's better known as Night Owl) happened to publish a post on a similar subject. Like-minded Gregs, you could say. 

Whereas Night Owl's post much more thoroughly covers the entire 1974 set, this post focuses on just one card. Regardless, I hope it will add to the cheers for 1974 Topps.

Have a look at this card:

1974 Topps #155, Bert Campaneris

It might be the most well-matched vintage baseball card I've ever seen.

In 1974, Topps matched the colors in their design to the colors of the represented teammost of the time, at least. (The Cubs and Angels, for example, had a magenta banner instead of a more accurate red, and the Dodgers had that same magenta color in the thin borders that surround the image.)

For Oakland, though, it was an easy choice. And for Bert Campaneris's card in particular, that easy choice paid off. Look at the green "Oakland" banner at the top and then look at the green in Bert's baseball cap. Look at his jersey and then look at the yellow in the card border. Even the palm trees in the background match, and they frame the card left and right.

Not all of the A's cards in the set earn a perfect score, of course. Sal Bando's green jersey almost looks black on card #103, while Deron Johnson's is more of the traditional Oakland gold color on card #312. Even the green banners on one Oakland card can vary slightly in color from the banners on another. 

But that just makes the color matching on Campy's card up there even more impressive. Think of the times you've briskly thumbed through a stack of cards, stopped, and gone back a couple of cards to get a better look at one that caught your eye somehow. That's the effect here, and it's terrific.

If you're already thinking of a vintage card in your own collection that exhibits the same type of color-matching perfection, why not share in the comment section?

And thank you for reading, as always.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Completed Set: 1987 Kay Bee Superstars of Baseball

Today's post features one of the many boxed sets of baseball cards that were released by retail outlets during the 1980s. (And featured by bloggers lately.)

Toys "R" Us, K-Mart, Woolworth, Hills, Eckerd Drug Stores, Kay Bee Toy Storesand I'm sure I'm missing a fewall issued these small sets of 33 or 44 cards, featuring the stars of the game, complete in the box.

But I only acquired this 1987 Kay Bee set a couple of months ago, and it wasn't a "new in box" purchase. I picked up 25 of the 33 cards in a trade, and over the next few weeks I found a couple of other trade partners who had the remaining 8 cards available. Done. Neat and tidy.

Interesting thing is, I don't remember ever buying baseball cards at Kay Bee Toy Stores. I hardly remember even seeing any trading cards there.

What I do remember is that there was a Kay Bee location about 10 minutes from where I grew up. They had rows of toys, action figures, dolls, stuffed animals, and board games. And one particular row of their store was devoted to something else: model kits. There were cars, planes, boats, and other vehicles, along with a rack filled with tiny jars of Testors paint—every color you could imagine. I think that's the only thing I remember bringing home from Kay Bee. An occasional model airplane, and some olive drab paint.

In any case, compiling this set all these years later was pretty fun. And because there are only 33 cards, I'm going to show them all, three at a time. Here we go.

According to the back of Jesse Barfield's card, he led both leagues with 40 home runs in 1986. That surprised me.

The blurbs on the card backs in this set often contain great information. Did you know Wade Boggs won the A.L. batting title three times in his first five seasons? That's really impressive. His career batting average to this point? .352

That's a great shot of Jose Canseco taking batting practice with a couple of other players looking on. These Kay Bee cards are glossy, and have a heavy card stock similar to the glossy All-Star inserts that Topps put out during the 1980s.

There's Roger Clemens in the classic pitcher's pose, and Vince Coleman doing what he did best.

Dwight Gooden and the Mets were coming off their World Series victory. This is one of the Gooden cards that I really like, because it shows his terrific form and balance. (Not to mention a shot of the classic spring training uniforms.)

There's Rickey hitting a line drive somewhere, possibly at Wally Joyner, who looks like he might be at Yankee Stadium.

Don Mattingly looks like he may have just barely gotten under one, while Jack Morris is busy winding up. Let's allow Morris to show us what the card backs in this set look like:

Wow, a picture on the back! Good stuff, Kay Bee. Pretty impressive blurb there, too. It provides a nice reminder of Morris' 1984 playoff and World Series accomplishments.

Another note on the card backs: When I first began looking through these cards, something that surprised me was the lack of any Topps logo. I did find an image of the original box these cards were packaged in, which features the logo at the top left in small red letters. But other than that, nothing on the cards themselves. Even the tiny copyright line on the right-hand side of the card back doesn't contain the name "Topps". There's a Kay Bee copyright, followed by a second copyright for "T.I.L."

In any case, I certainly don't mind the lack of a Topps logo. The card fronts look great to me regardless. So let's get back to it.

In 1986 Kirby Puckett had a whopping 680 at-bats and 223 hits for a .328 average.

There's Tim Raines looking like he'd thought about a bunt, but then didn't like the pitch and pulled it back. Dave Righetti is one of only six pitchers featured in the set, and he earned it with 46 saves the prior season, at one point converting 24 consecutively.

The back of Mike Schmidt's card tells us that he's either led or tied for the N.L. lead in home runs eight times. The angle on Mike Scott's card makes it look like he's tossing that ball eight rows behind home plate.

Closing it out with two big hitters following through, and a pitcher who brought about mania in 1981. Fernando mania.

And that's it. A neat little set that couldn't have cost more than a few bucks back in 1987. Thanks for flipping through it with me. 

Do you have a favorite toy store/convenience store set of the 1980s? Leave a comment below.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

From the Favorites Box: Brett Hull, 1990-91 Score #300

A series where I post some thoughts about favorite cards. Previous cards in the series are available here.

Score released its first hockey set in time for the 1990-91 season, and really nailed some of the imagesespecially on their horizontal cards. 

This Brett Hull card might be my favorite in the entire set. It's perfectly framed, and captures Hull doing what he did best: Shooting.

The Golden Brett scored a league-leading 72 goals the previous season, and I wonder if the shot you see here resulted in one of them. If you look at the ice and the boards behind him, you can see that Hull is on the left side of the offensive zone, positioned just inside the top of the face-off circle (similar to the "Ovechkin spot"). If not a goal, the blastpossibly a one-timermay have resulted in a welt somewhere on that poor goalie's body. Or a dent in the boards. Or if you were a penalty killer like I was, a bruised foot or shin.

If this photo was taken during the game between the Blues and North Stars on December 31, 1989, then the shot could have resulted in Hull's 33rd goal of the year. (You can tell he's in Minnesota by the green, yellow, and white seats in the background.) That goal tied the score at 1, about halfway through the third period. But it was unassisted, which rules out the one-timer theory. And would Score send a photographer out to frigid Minnesota on New Year's Eve? I don't know about that.

The Blues had visited Minnesota twice previously that calendar year. Both times they were shut out by a 3-0 score, so that means no goals for Hull there. It wasn't for a lack of effort, though, as Hull put up five shots on goal in the first game and eight shots on goal in the second.

The only other time St. Louis visited Minnesota that season was on February 13, 1990, when they played to a 2-1 overtime win. Hull had another five shots on goal, but didn't figure in the scoring.

I suppose the photo could have also been taken during the playoffs (the Blues faced the North Stars in the second round that season). Hull did score three goals in the series, including two on the power play. However, look at the seats behind him. I see a lot empty ones. Not likely for seats that close to the ice during a playoff game.

Goal or not, the card is fantastic, and it reminds me of how exciting it was to watch this guy wind up and lean into one so many times throughout his career.

Hull's dynamism and the image alone give 1990-91 Score #300 a spot in my box of favorite cards.