Braves Card of the Day: 1974 Topps Paul Casanova #272

I ain’t much on Casanova

Me and Romeo ain’t never been friends

Can’t you see how much I really love ya

Gonna sing it to ya time and time again…

Ohh Casanova

Casanova

Ohh Casanova

Casanova

Blog Bat Around: My All-Braves All-Autograph Team

Blog Bat Around

Bat around header

Over at Torren’ Up Cards, a new Blog Bat Around was proposed. Here’s the summary straight from the source:

About two years ago my collector friends in Japan did a fun little challenge where they constructed a starting nine/10 lineup with their best MLB/MiLB autographs at each position. Now “best” is subjective. Some people went with best in terms of the best on their favorite team at the moment, or possibly the best at the position in franchise history, or just go with the best in general regardless of team. In my case I went with players who were my favorites in general (so Luis Torrens was at every position).

This variety is what made the challenge so fun and gave people a chance to flex and show off some of their autographs.

I know that not everyone on our corner of the blogosphere is an autograph nut, but if you’re in this hobby long enough you’ll accumulate a decent number of them for one reason or another (usually because of the kindness of strangers). Anyway I wanted to revive this fun little challenge for my friends here on the blogosphere as my first Bat Blog Around.

This is a great idea and I’m glad I got off my ass to participate, even if it meant I spent a week NOT posting my Braves Card of the Day.

My Autograph Collection

I’ve never concentrated on collecting autographs, but two things have increased the number of autos in my collection: I buy into a number of group breaks and I try to get a single autograph of every player that comes through Atlanta. Of course, this has led to a ridiculous number of Hector Olivera, Christian Bethancourt, and Mallex Smith autos sitting in top loaders in my boxes.

That said, I believe I have an autographed card for every Braves great from the Milwaukee years on. Unfortunately, I can’t just pick one player for each position. So, I’ve got my winners and my runners up. Let’s dive in.

First Base

Winner: Freddie Freeman

The card you see below is Freddie’s first Bowman auto. It’s a beautiful signature from the Braves best player. From his first game in Atlanta, he’s been the favorite of Braves fans. I hope, I hope, I hope he plays for Atlanta his entire career. I hope he stays healthy. He’s in his prime. He’s a joy to watch.

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Runner Up: Fred McGriff

It remains remarkable to me that the Braves were able to get to two straight World Series before Maddux and McGriff wore the Tomahawk across their chest. The mid-season trade for McGriff is the greatest mid-season trade in Braves history and without it, the Braves would not have been able to keep pace with the Giants in the West in 93.

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Runner Up: Bob Horner

Bob Horner was fat. Bob Horner was often injured. Bob Horner was lazy. I loved Bob Horner.

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Second Base

Winner: Mark Lemke

Here are a few of the falsehoods you will hear from Braves fans about Mark Lemke. “He was a clutch hitter.” “He was an underrated bat.” He was neither. Every ounce of value provided by the Lemmer came from his glove. When his decline came, it came rapidly. No matter. Like every Braves fan of a certain age, I love Mark Lemke and I’m so glad that he has several auto cards.

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Someday: Ozzie Albies

I’m calling it now. Albies will be the greatest Braves second baseman ever. He’s terrific in the field and his bat is legit. He’s one of the most fun players to watch in baseball right now.

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Shortstop

Choice: Andrelton Simmons

Simba is not only my favorite shortstop in Braves history, he’s my current favorite player in all of baseball. Watching him field his position is enough to get me to turn on a baseball game. His web gems are baseball porn and I have a number of his autohraphs from his time with the Braves. I don’t believe he’s had a single auto in any set since his trade to the Angels.

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Third Base

Sometimes, you just can’t choose between two great baseball players.

Co-Winner: Chipper Jones

Chipper Jones is arguably the 2nd greatest Atlanta Braves offensive player. The only third baseman in baseball history that you can definitively say was better, without any controversy, is Mike Schmidt. Getting to watch him hit, year after year, is one of the singular joys I’ve had as a Braves fan. I can’t make this list without Chipper Jones.

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Co-Winner: Eddie Mathews

Eddie Mathews is arguably the 2nd greatest Atlanta Braves offensive player. The only third baseman in baseball history that you can definitively say was better, without any controversy, is Mike Schmidt. It’s hard to believe that he was merely the second best player on those great Braves teams of the 50s. I can’t make this list without Eddie Mathews.

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Runner Up: Terry Pendleton

It pains me to no end when I hear people dismiss TP’s 1991 MVP award as undeserved. (It was, but it still pains me.) I know this however, if the Braves don’t sign Terry Pendleton, they don’t make their miracle runs to the World Series in 1991 and 1992. They don’t sign Greg Maddux before the 93 season and they don’t trade for Fred McGriff during the 93 season and they don’t win 14 straight division titles. He’s one of my all-time favorites.

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Catcher

Winner: Brian McCann

This is one of those guys that no fan of the Braves ever wanted to see wear another uniform, even though we all new the Braves were right not to sign him to a big free agent deal. It tickles me to no end that he got a World Series ring with the Astros. I hope that last few years of his career are spent with the Braves. (As a backup, I hope.)

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Runner Up: Javy Lopez

For many of those years the Braves won with Lopez behind the plate, Eddie Perez was the backup catcher. If I would turn on a game in progress, I would always have a hard time telling who was behind the plate until the catcher would stand up. Javy Lopez was a big, big man.

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Outfielders

Winner: Hank Aaron

Hank Aaron is the greatest of the Braves and I’m thankful for the group breaks I occasionally participate in, and my father in law, otherwise, the only Aaron auto I’d own is a rather shitty in-person auto on a shitty K-Mart card from the 80s.

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Winner: Dale Murphy

What Aaron was to the Braves in the 50s and 60s, and what Chipper was to the Braves in the late 90s and 00s, Dale Murphy was to the 80s. He was the best player on the team and he was the most popular player on the team and he was on every milk container for sale in Columbus, GA.

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Winner: Andruw Jones

He’s the best defensive player I’ve ever seen, with the possible exception of Andrelton Simmons. On a team with Chipper, he was the most exciting player to watch week in and week out.

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Runner Up: Tim Raines

One of my rare autograph purchases for no reason other than he’s one of my all-time favorite baseball players. He doesn’t make my list though because he wasn’t a Brave.

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Runner Up: Stan Musial

Musial is one of my favorite “historical” baseball players and this card was a rather ghoulish purchase made within minutes of his death.

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Runner Up: Tony Gwynn

Another favorite and another ghoulish purchase.

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Runner Up: David Justice

I wanted to put Justice on the list above. He hit, after all, the home run that was the only run scored in the World Series clinching victory of Game 6, 1995.

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Someday: Ronald Acuña Jr

I’m ready for the Acuña era to start.

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Starting Pitchers

Look at the name of this blog. I couldn’t include just one starting pitcher. I need a rotation and, as it turns out, I have a card for the five greatest pitchers in the history of the franchise that weren’t named Kid Nichols.

Winner: Greg Maddux

The best I ever saw.

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Winner: Tom Glavine

Tom Glavine was a steely eyed son of a bitch. He was always my favorite and he pitched my favorite game of all time, the 1995 World Series.

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Winner: John Smoltz

My opinions about Smoltz are complicated by the stupid shit he will occasionally spout, but he was so good, and he spent so much of his career throwing every pitch in pain. Terrific announcer too.

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Winner: Phil Niekro

The only pitcher that mattered when I moved to Georgia and became a Braves fan.

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Winner: Warren Spahn

Owning this card makes me so damn happy.

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Runner Up: Steve Carlton

Before I got to see Maddux pitch every 5th game for a decade, I believed that Lefty was the best I ever saw. I loved those Phillies teams of the late 70s and he was my favorite player on those teams.

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Closer

Winner: Craig Kimbrel

This guy is far too cool to be a damned Red Sox. This is one of the few Braves autographs I pulled directly out of a pack.

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To paraphrase Bob Gibson screaming at Tim McCarver, the only thing Joe Simpson knows about baseball is that he can’t hit them.

Braves Card of the Day: 1950 Bowman Del Crandall #56

If we were to make a Mount Rushmore featuring only Braves catchers, Del Crandall would have to be one of the names, right? Joe Torre, Brian McCann, Javy Lopez, and Del Crandall.

1950 Bowman Crandall 56a1950 Bowman Crandall 56b

Braves Card of the Day: 1955 Bowman “Lou” Burdette #70

Damn Bowman, you too? #LewNotLou

Braves Card of the Day: 2018 Topps Ozzie Albies #276

My new favorite baseball player on a perfectly OK baseball card from a really stupid baseball card set.

2018 Topps Albies 276b

Braves Card of the Day: 1957 Topps Lew Burdette #208

So, here’s the conspiracy theory behind Topps getting Lew Burdette’s name wrong for years. They did it intentionally to get Lew back for the joke he played on this card. Burdette was a righty, but he borrowed Warren Spahn’s glove and posed as a lefty for Topps.

Would Topps purposely get his name wrong for years after this incident??? #LewNotLou

Braves Card of the Day: 1956 Topps Lew Burdette #219

There you go Topps. It’s Lew. Not Lou. Lew. Short for Lewis. #LewNotLou

Why did you get this wrong so many years?

1956 Topps Burdette 219a

Braves Card of the Day: 1962 Topps “Lou” Burdette #380

It’s LEW not LOU!!!! Why? Why? Why? LEW Burdette. LEW! LEW! LEW! LEW! LEW! LEW! LEW! LEW! Come on Topps. #LewNotLou

Braves Card of the Day: 1977 Topps Mike Marshall #263

I’m partial to Mike Marshall because Ball Four is my favorite book. I’m also partial to Marshall because he liked to stir shit up, even though it may have gotten him blackballed from the game.

1977 Topps Marshall 263b

Just watched the Bolts and the Devils, and I gotta say, New Jersey is a bunch of babies. Losers.

Braves Card of the Day: 1981 Topps Bruce Benedict #108

“In a race with a pregnant woman, he’d (Bruce Benedict) finish third.” - Tommy Lasorda

True, but I’d wager in a race between a pregnant woman, Benedict, and Lasorda, that Lasorda would finish fourth. Then and now.

Braves Card of the Day: 1979 Topps Braves Prospects #715

I like weird curiosities in baseball cards. For example, this card is 715 which is a pretty magical number in Braves history. And yesterday (I think) was the Anniversary of that home run.

Braves Card of the Day: 1981 Topps Al Hrabosky #636

I give you the evil eye. Look away or I shall destroy! I am the MAD HUNGARIAN!!!! BE AFRAID!!!! BE VERY AFRAID!!!!

Braves Card of the Day: 1958 Topps Harry Hanebrink #454

These days, a player like Hanebrink with a short career as a utility man would be lucky to get a single card during his career. Hanebrink got 2. Of course, while in the minors, he’d get a billion Bowman cards.

Braves Card of the Day: 1952 Topps Sibby Sisti #293

1952 Topps Sisti 293a

It’s hard for me to see the appeal of Sibby Sisti, but then again, I wasn’t in Boston in the late 1940s. Sisti was a thoroughly mediocre baseball player who was so loved by Boston Braves fans that he was one of the inaugural players inducted into the Boston Braves Hall of Fame, along with Warren Spahn, Johnny Sain, and Tommy Holmes. From a purely baseball point of view, Sisti’s name doesn’t belong among those others. It isn’t even close.

1952 Topps Sisti 293b

On the other hand, I love Mark Lemke. I’m guessing a lot of young guys don’t understand that!

Braves Card of the Day: 1957 Topps Danny O’Connell #271

1957 Topps OCconnel 271a

It’s always fun to just find a card of an old player that you know nothing about, and then read a bit about him online. Often, it allows you to shine a little extra light on bits of history about your favorite team. For instance, I know that Hank Aaron has credited the Braves trade for Red Schoendienst as providing one of the sparks that would lead to the Braves 1957 World Championship. It was Danny O’Connell, along with two other players, who was traded to the Giants for Schoendienst.

1957 Topps OCconnel 271b

Braves Card of the Day: 1956 Topps Braves Team Card #95

The lack of true team cards in modern Topps flagship sets is indicative of the degradation of said sets. The entire focus of sets are now on the hits, the rookies, and the stars. The regular guys that make up the majority of the rosters for most teams are considered irrelevant. They are just incidental content. That’s a shame.

Is this card fairly priced?

Braves Card of the Day: 1951 Bowman Willard Marshall #98

1951 Bowman Marshall 98a

Many years ago, I wrote a post about collecting Willard Marshall cards at Talking Chop. I wrote a lot of posts back then about vintage Braves cards and the players on them, but I never gave him much thought after.

1951 Bowman Marshall 98b

Almost 4 years after that post went up, I received a sweet email from a man who got a baseball from Marshall with the signatures of the 1949 New York Giants. He had seen Marshall play with the Giants and the Braves. It’s the kindest email I’ve ever received.