Is Pete Rose Back In Major League Baseball?… Kinda, Maybe, Probably Not

Pete Rose’s banishment from MLB for gambling on baseball while playing for and managing the Reds will go down in history as one of the most debated sports topics.  Should the banishment be forgotten allowing him entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame?  This is a question that plaques the minds of many baseball fans today, and will continue to do so for years to come.

Legendary baseball player, and sometimes controversial pop-culture figure Pete Rose hasn’t appeared on an MLB-licensed Topps baseball card since 1989.  The last time he was featured in a licensed product showing team names and/or logos comes from 1994 Upper Deck: The American Epic.  Since then he has been seen countless times in other non-licensed baseball products made by Leaf and Panini.

Collectors opening 2020 Topps Series 2 Baseball are finding a familiar looking fellow on the Philadelphia Phillies Decades’ Best insert.  With his back turned, no team name and/or logos visible, you can just make out the cockeyed name across the back of the jersey which says “ROSE”.  Other players on the card include Steve Carlton and Bob Boone.

This isn’t something that Topps made a point to alert collectors about.  Collectors are discovering this all on their own.  Self-discovering moments such as this add a bit of excitement to the brand.  Pulling a card out and saying “I wonder if anyone else has noticed this?” can be fun.

In no way is this card rare.  Topps didn’t issue a corrected version.  Each one, including the parallels, looks just like this.  That won’t stop some folks from attempting to sell their cards for a premium.  This reminds me of the 2019 Topps Stadium Club Shane Bieber “error” which calls him Justin on the back.

You Know What’s Cool? Little League Pins That Look Like Packs Of 1954 Bowman Baseball Cards

With the cancellation of the 2020 Little League World Series, I’ve been looking around for some alternative sources to obtain new pins this year.  eBay has always been an option, but the Little League Pin Traders Club group on Facebook can be an equal or even better source.

Everyday collectors are posting pictures of their pins looking to trade.  Upon joining, I came to realize how many pins I didn’t know existed.  That’s the thing about Little League pins.  You can go many years without knowing that certain pins exist.  There is no official release date and/or checklist.  In addition to that, the quantities are all different.

Did you know there are some Little League pins that look just like packs of old baseball cards?  Organizing a trade using one of my Sports Card Info pins, I was able to obtain (2) pins that look like packs of 1954 Bowman Baseball.  One of them is green, and the other is red.

These pins aren’t small either.  They’re made of metal, and are about the size of a normal pack of cards.  High-quality and very heavy.  I had no clue they existed until I joined this group.  Other baseball card pack pins I’ve seen include 1952 Bowman Baseball and 1963 Topps Baseball.

Its interesting when the sports card hobby collides with the pin collecting world.

Cancelled 2020 MLB Little League Classic Pins Begin To Surface – Red Sox vs. Orioles

This COVID-19 virus sure has messed-up a lot of stuff.  Everyone wishes we could just go back to the way things use to be.  Life will eventually get back to normal, but it certainly won’t happen overnight.

One of the casualties of this horrific virus is the Little League World Series.  It has officially been canceled for 2020.  This will be a significant impact to baseball fans, and businesses to the surrounding communities.  Hotels, restaurants, and shops are already hurting.  Taking away the business generated when the world comes to Williamsport will only deepen the economic blow.

With the cancellation of the 2020 Little League World Series also comes the cancellation of the MLB Little League Classic.  Taking place during the Little League World Series, the MLB Little League Classic features two MLB teams playing a regular season game at BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field right there in Williamsport.  Little League players, and their families are welcomed to attend.  For a lot of these kids, this game might be the only chance they have to watch a MLB game in person.

Collectible lapel pins are a huge part of the Little League World Series.  Everywhere you look teams, districts, players, umpires, ushers, emergency medical staff, security guards, corporate sponsors, and local businesses have pins they’re looking to buy/sell/trade.  2020 will be an unusual year with a low number of pins.  With no Little League World Series being played, it doesn’t make sense to spend money on making them right now.  Especially during this economic downturn.

Some 2020 pins have found their way out.  I suppose they were in the works before the Little League World Series was cancelled.  Take this pin for instance.

It commemorates the now cancelled 2020 MLB Little League Classic between the Red Sox and Orioles.  A handful of these pins have been floating around Williamsport.  I wasn’t fast enough to hit the “Buy It Now” on the first two, but I got lucky with the third.  They were selling extremely fast.  According to the seller, only (50) of these pins were made.  I’ve seen a few different variations.  The pin I bought has a white scoreboard.  Others come in grey.  Its possible there could be more colors.  I’d speculate each color is limited to (50) copies.

Card of the Day: Dean Windass 2008-09 Topps Premier League Match Attax

Card of the Day: Rusty Kilgo 1990 Grand Slam Midwest League All-Star #11

Spontaneous Explosions, Fire Pits, & Bribes – THIS… IS… MUTANT LEAGUE FOOTBALL!!!

An apocalypse is no excuse for that football game to go unfinished.  That’s what the people at Electronic Arts thought when they decided to release Mutant League Football for the Sega Genesis in 1993.

As you can tell from the box art, this is not your typical lifelike football simulation.  Radiation has caused humans to mutate, and the dead are rising from the grave.  The reason for the post-apocalyptic environment hasn’t officially been explained.  According to the instruction manual, the reasons were lost do to an alien invasion, spin control, a sloppy filing system setup by a temp, and/or BBQ sauce.  The investigation continues to this very day.

Playing fields can be made of rubber, toxic waste, ice, and rock.  You’ll find many hazards on these fields that you certainly won’t find on any normal gridiron.  Hazards include fire pits, landmines, and you can even fly off into outer space.  If members of your team hit any of these hazards they can easily lose health or even die.  If they die while carrying the ball, don’t look for any sympathy.  The opposing team will just pickup the ball as if it were a normal fumble.  Each team has what they call Nasty Audibles.  These involve using items such as jet packs, electric shocks, invisibility, and even exploding footballs to intentionally hurt players on the other team.  You can even attack the quarterback with the intent to kill.  If you eliminate enough players, the opposing team has to forfeit.  One of the most popular things you can do is bribe the referee.  You can do this twice per game.  A bribed referee will make fake calls.  This doesn’t last very long.  As soon as the first fake call is made, the other team usually kills that ref.

With all of this violence and additional features, I bet your thinking this game probably sucks when it comes to playing real football.  That’s not the case at all.  Its hard to find a game that has a good balance of comical violence, yet retains that excellent football game play.

Inside specially marked copies of the game you’ll find two trading cards.  Its cool to see cards included within a video game.  There were a few spin-offs.  They made Mutant League Hockey, and there was a Mutant League Basketball game in the works but it never saw the light of day.

Lyle Alzado would’ve done well in this league if it had existed in the real world.

If you play this game on full-season mode and end up winning the championship, the losing team spontaneously explodes.

Running for two seasons an animated cartoon was even inspired by these video games.  Along with the show came a series of crazy action figures.

Between 2017 and 2018 Mutant League Football received a revival for the PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch.

Card of the Day: Jason Garrett 1991 Pro Set World League of American Football #31

Under The Tree: 1970 Chemtoy Major League Baseball Player Bouncing Balls

Toy manufacturer Chemtoy decided to combine two popular toys at the time – bouncy balls and baseball cards.  The result is a set of bouncy balls with pictures of baseball players inside them.  On the reverse side of the picture you’ll find a red or blue background, name, position, team, and a 4-digit number.  Each team has around (12) balls.  It can be quite difficult to see the player’s picture since the material Chemtoy used is very foggy.  Its not uncommon for them to yellow with age.  Many of them contain bubbles.

Chemtoy distributed them a few different ways.  Full boxes contain (144) balls.  Boxes can be team-oriented.  They can also be a mix of teams from the National or American League.  Blister packs were another delivery method.  Vending machines too.

About (285) balls make up the entire set.  Although when it comes to a product like this a newly discovered addition could popup one day.  Sometimes the most obscure players can be the hardest to find.  Stars like Pete Rose, Willie Mays, Ernie Banks, Reggie Jackson, Hank Aaron, Tom Seaver, Roberto Clemente, and Ted Williams each have balls.  Roberto Clemente can actually be found with two different colored backgrounds.

Collectors can’t get enough of these.  You rarely see them sell for under $10 per ball.  I’ve seen set/player collectors spend hundreds on a single ball they needed.

In 1969, Chemtoy made a football set of bouncy balls.  You almost never see these.  They’re a lot rarer than the 1970 baseball follow-up.

Even though this product might be presented as a “Super Ball” by a lot of collectors, they’re really considered to be more of a bouncy ball.  Wham-O has the distinct honor of being the creator of the Super Ball, and continues to make use of that name today.  Similar products made by other manufacturers are considered to be bouncy balls.  This is due to the different materials used to make their products.  In short, all “Super Balls” are bouncy balls, but not all bouncy balls are “Super Balls”.

FYI – Kansas City Chiefs owner and American Football League founder Lamar Hunt came up with the name “Super Bowl” after watching his kids play with a “Super Ball”.

Card of the Day: Paul Noce 1990 CMC Minor League Baseball #139

2019 Topps Heritage Minor League Baseball Hobby Box Break & Review

The MLB regular season is officially over.  Now the postseason begins.  My Phillies didn’t make it.  They finished the year 81-81.  Bryce Harper had a great season and was really fun to watch in a Phillies uniform.  That walk-off game winning grand slam against the Cubs was nuts.  This off season I would like to see them improve their pitching department.  That area drastically needs to be fixed.  Phillies’ batters would no sooner get some runs on the board and their pitchers would give them right back.  Very frustrating to watch.

2019 Topps Heritage Minor League Baseball consists of (200) cards.  Parallels include Blue #’ed/99, Black #’ed/50, Flip Stock (1:108 packs), Gold #’ed/15 (1 per case), and Red #’ed 1/1.  An additional (20) Short Prints fall 1:6 packs and are #201-#220.

While ripping through those packs you need to keep an eye out for variations.  CMP codes can help.

  • Base – #636
  • Short Print – #650
  • Image Variation – #651
  • Missing Name Variation – #652

Top prospects such as Keibert Ruiz, Julio Pablo Martinez, Nolan Gorman, Casey Mize, Wander Franco, and Joey Bart have Autographed Image Variations #’ed/50.

Unlike the MLB versions of Heritage, the MiLB edition comes with an additional hit.  Every hobby box should have at least (1) on-card autograph, and (1) relic.

Autographs include Real One Autographs, Real One Dual Autographs, 1970 Mint Autograph Relic, Bazooka Autographs, Fresh on the Scene Autographs, and 1970 Topps Super Baseball Topper Autographs.

Relics include Clubhouse Collection Relics, and 1970 Mint Relics.

Inserts include Fantastic Feats, Fresh on the Scene, and 1970 Topps Super Baseball Toppers.

During the summer I attend about four MiLB games.  Usually on bobblehead nights.  Lots of fans have a great connection to that team in their backyard.  For me its the Williamsport Crosscutters, Harrisburg Senators, and State College Spikes.

This is the last product to utilize the 1970 Topps Baseball design.  Boxes aren’t that expensive.  A single hobby box should cost $60.

Lots of rookies and prospects in their MiLB uniforms.  MiLB is known for being gimmicky.  Crazy uniforms, mascots, giveaways, etc…  You see this a lot in Topps’ other MiLB product Pro Debut.  Heritage MiLB is a bit more serious, but still a lot of fun.

People like to say that cards of players in their MLB uniforms will always get more attention.  I think a statement like that is too general.  A mass-produced base card of a player in their MLB uniform probably wouldn’t be worth as much as one in their MiLB uniform if the MiLB card is a low-numbered parallel.  I think it all comes down to aspects like that.

Checklist

Here is what I pulled:

Relic

  • Nate Pearson Clubhouse Collection Relic

Auto

  • Alek Thomas Real One Auto

Short Prints

  • Brady Singer #214
  • Seuly Matias #219

Parallel

  • Nick Madrigal Black #’ed/50

Inserts

  • Elehuris Montero Fresh on the Scene
  • Matthew Liberatore Fresh on the Scene
  • Kris Bubic Fresh on the Scene
  • Jonathan India Fresh on the Scene
  • Andrew Knizner Fantastic Feats
  • Luis Robert Fantastic Feats
  • Bryan Mata Fantastic Feats
  • Julio Pablo Martinez 1970 Topps Super Baseball Topper