Mission Creep

So while we’ve all been locked down the boys and I have been getting our baseball fixes in where we can. We’ve watched movies like Field of Dreams. We’ve watched recorded games. We’ve done some Sporcle quizzes. And we’ve looked at our baseball cards.

Not just looking at cards, I think we’ve all taken it upon ourselves to give things a re-sort. For my part I looked at my Giants albums. I’ve had my team sets in alphabetical order by last name. This has been fine, especially as I build the team sets, but it’s never felt right.

One of the things I’ve liked about Mother’s Cookies is how the first sets were ordered by star power. I like the idea of the set telling a story about the team and while paging cards by something like WAR would be an interesting way to do this I decided instead to page them by lineup.

This idea is stolen from some guys on Twitter but the basic idea is that the first page is the main starters for the season, the second are the pitchers, and the rest of the pages are everybody else.

More-specifically, page one is organized like a field:

LF | CF | RF
---+----+---
SS |    | 2B
---+----+---
3B |  C | 1B

Center Square is either the Manager or the Team Card. I really like this because it gives me a sense of what the team actually looked like that season. Both good and bad. Is it fun to see the most valuable players first? Yes. But it’s also important for me to see the “who the hell is that” players to be reminded of the team’s weaknesses as well.

Page two meanwhile is the top nine pitchers on the team. First the four or five starters, then the closer and the relievers.  Page three is the rest of the bench ordered by number of at bats. And page four ends up being players who didn’t play, all stars, league leaders, etc.

I’m already enjoying looking through things more. Now, this kind of sorting isn’t without its problems—the main one is being what season do I choose to represent. Do I sort the cards based on the team that existed the year the cards came out or do I go based on the previous year which is represented in the last line of stats?

There’s no good answer here. Going by the card year means that new players aren’t in the team set. Going by the stats year opens you up to missing guys who were traded late in the season or who changed teams before press time.

I chose to go by the card year. When I look at cards from 1960 or 1970 I’m thinking they represent 1960 or 1970. Stats on the back show me what the guy did last year but the cards stand in for the current season.

This choice means I miss some rookies but more importantly opens up a bit of mission creep with regard to the trades and free agents. Like with my 1968 team set which is basically complete except for the Mays/Mantle/Killebrew card, there’s no second baseman in the team set. When I looked up who played that year I found out it was Ron Hunt who played in almost 150 games at second but whose 1968 card features him with the Dodgers.*

*Note, if I had gone with the previous year I’d be in even more trouble since there’s no Tito Fuentes card in the set at all.

So I’ve gone ahead and added Ron Hunt to my searchlist and done this with a bunch of other players as well. Not everyone who’s missing. But if there’s a position player who started the overwhelming majority of the games or a pitcher who made up a large part of the rotation I feel like I should add him.

Through the 1970s this wasn’t even two dozen cards. I’ll get up to the 1994 strike eventually but with Topps Traded existing plus the existence of multiple brands things are going to get more complicated. I should have coverage with more brands but do I want to mix them? Don’t know yet.

Anyway what I’m currently missing is as follows. Not going to update this the way I’m doing the Colorwheels post since these aren’t priorities. Most are commons and pretty cheap. A couple Hall of Famers or short prints though will definitely be more of a reach. Still it’s nice to see where things started.

1956 Topps 165	Red Schoendienst	St. Louis Cardinals
1956 Topps 247	Bill Sarni		St. Louis Cardinals
1957 Topps 68	Ray Crone		Milwaukee Braves
1957 Topps 218	Ray Jablonski		Chicago Cubs
1957 Topps 271	Danny O'Connell		Milwaukee Braves
1959 Topps 75	Sam Jones		St. Louis Cardinals
1961 Topps 418	Ed Bailey		Cincinnati Reds
1965 Topps 205	Warren Spahn		New York Mets
1965 Topps 218	Dick Schofield		Pittsburgh Pirates
1966 Topps 26	Ray Sadecki		St. Louis Cardinals
1967 Topps 86	Mike McCormick		Washington Senators
1968 Topps 15	Ron Hunt		Los Angeles Dodgers
1970 Topps 103	Frank Reberger		San Diego Padres
1975 Topps 162	Willie Montanez		Philadelphia Phillies
1975 Topps 547	Von Joshua		Los Angeles Dodgers
1976 Topps 81	Darrell Evans		Atlanta Braves
1976 Topps 177	Marty Perez		Atlanta Braves
1977 Topps 47	Lynn McGlothen		St. Louis Cardinals
1977 Topps 76	Tim Foli		Montreal Expos
1977 OPC 56	Bill Madlock		San Francisco Giants
1977 Topps 209	Rob Andrews		Houston Astros
1979 Topps 668	Bill North		Los Angeles Dodgers

Two notes. 1967 Mike McCormick actually lists him as a Giant on the back. And while the 1977 Topps Bill Madlock would be a contender, that there’s an O Pee Chee showing him with the Giants means that’s the better choice for the binder.

Author: Nick Vossbrink

Blogging about Photography, Museums, Printing, and Baseball Cards from both Princeton New Jersey and the San Francisco Bay Area. On Twitter as @vossbrink, WordPress at njwv.wordpress.com, and the web at vossbrink.net

4 thoughts on “Mission Creep”

  1. This is an interesting idea, but I don’t think I’d ever overhaul my team binders to do this. I don’t think I could add cards of players pictured as non-Dodgers either.

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