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Former Cape Cod Leaguer Wins Heisman

Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, 2018 Heisman Award Winner

Oklahoma Sooners’ quarterback Kyler Murray won the 2018 Heisman Trophy with 517 1st place votes, earning the Sooners’ their second Heisman in a row and the first for the Harwich Mariners of the Cape Cod League.  Murray juggled baseball and football for the Sooners, leading the Oklahoma to a 12-1 record and an Orange Bowl berth against Alabama this season, and a .296 average with 10 home runs in 51 games.

In 2017, Murray spent 16 games on the cape playing for the Mariners, hitting .170 with a pair of doubles before reporting back to campus in June for football workouts.  The Oakland Athletics selected Kyler in the first round, ninth overall in the 2018 entry draft, and while many have speculated an impending addition to the Bo Jackson/Deion Sanders Double Duty Club, Scott Boras has announced that his client intends to focus on baseball.

Kyler Murray is the first Cape Cod Leaguer in the circuit’s 133 year history to win the prestigious college football award.

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Custom Cards: Famous Fans

I listen to a lot of podcasts.  Three of my favorites are Never Not Funny, The Kevin Pollak Chat Show and The Smartest Man in the World.  Smartest Man is of particular interest to baseball fans as Greg Proops is a massive baseball fan.  He grew up in the South Bay and regales listeners with stories of smoking weed and sneaking beers into Candlestick Park.  He is also a supporter of the Negro League Museum in Kansas City.  If you search his show’s archives, there’s an episode from last summer in which Proops hosts the NLM’s award banquet.  Besides his deep love of baseball, Proops is one of the most famous and accomplished improvisors of the last 30 years.  He’s been a cast member of several iterations of Whose Line is it Anyway?, including a live tour featuring Joel Murray, brother of Goldklang Group board member and occasional actor Bill Murray.

Jimmy Pardo hosts one of the longest running podcasts, Never Not Funny.  Jimmy grew up in Chicago and is an unrepentant fan of the White Sox.  He also admins a yearly fantasy league featuring fans who bid for slots in his annual charity event the Pardcastathon.  Besides being a giant baseball nerd, Pardo also has encyclopedic knowledge of classic rock and musical theater and is a former season ticket holder of the LA Kiss arena football team (RIP).

Kevin Pollak is one of three well known impersonators, but made his name as a character actor in The Usual Suspects and A Few Good Men.  Baseball fans probably won’t be interested to know that Pollak went to high school with former Giants & Yankees pitcher Dave Righetti.  More recently, Pollak hosts the long form interview show called The Kevin Pollak Chatshow, which ends weekly with his signature sign off “Now…get out of my face”.  The episode with Tom Hanks is interesting, even if just to hear Tom Hanks talk about double fisting tall boys while watching the Edmonton Eskimos in the Grey Cup and another share about playing Cards Against Humanity with his son Colin (now of Life in Pieces).

Now that I’ve told you more than you ever wanted to now about three comedians you probably don’t care about, I decided to do up some custom designs for three podcast hosts that also enjoy baseball.  I went with two of my favorite mid-80 card designs.  The 85 Topps base and 87 Donruss base.  I think the 87 Donruss is under appreciated, and the 85 Topps is way overshadowed by the 87 design, which is probably one of the most popular designs in baseball card history.

For Jimmy Pardo I used one of the show logos, which color wise I think was inspired by the mid-80’s White Sox logo.  Propps & Pollak’s show logos didn’t minimize well to fit the card template, so since both guys are San Francisco fans I went with Giants logos.  I found a great picture of Pollak wearing a San Francisco Seals hat, which is what I used for the Donruss card.

These are the first cards I’ve designed that I’ve actually considered printing out to try to get TTM autographs on.  So that might be a project for my Thanksgiving break.

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Custom Cards: Wrigleyville 2018

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NOTE: This is a custom card set, these are not available for purchase and I do not hold the copyright on the images used.  These cards were designed exclusively as an exercise in creativity and design.

 

Okay, legal notice out of the way, this is a custom card design I started working on a couple weeks ago (if you dig, you can find my custom card blogger.com page that was the forerunner of this site).  Without sounding arty-douchebag, the concept was inspired by postcards from the 1920’s.  Sort of in the Allen & Ginter vein.  But I also wanted to keep it brighter and have a lot of negative space – just in case someone wanted to print these out and use them for autographs…(send me a picture if you do).  The teams’ 1931-33 jersey logo fit the era vibe I was looking for perfectly, and I was able to find this year’s photo day pictures on Zimbio.com.  I posted the first few on SportsCardForum and got called out to do a Kerry Wood.  Felt like a nice chance to do a sepia tone.

 

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2018 BBM 1st Version Nippon Professional Baseball Card Review

First off, take a look at the video above, a great box rip video by Charm City Autographs.  Guy churns out great MLB & NPB content daily on Twitter.  So watch the video and give him a follow.

But anyway, we’re taking a look today at the 2018 BBM 1st Version cards (available for purchase here).  The general consensus is that BBM is the Topps of the Japanese baseball card collecting scene.  The 1st Version set is the company’s flagship release, equivalent to Topps’ Series 1.  In addition to 1st & 2nd Version, BBM also has a range of team-specific releases and a high end “Genesis” set and a rookie-centric release.

Today we’re focused on the 1st Version, which is what I’m carrying here at Bay State Baseball Cards.  I’ve had some of the cards in hand for about a week now, I really like the set.  The base cards are a full bleed photo with a small borderless text area on the bottom with the player’s name, team position, number and the set name.  The text is a little small (or I’m just getting older than I thought).  And it seems that this is a general template that BBM’s using in the past few years.  I’ve seen some recent flagship releases with a similar aesthetic (varying graphic elements, but full bleed, name & team in same region of the card, etc).  So coming in new to this year’s set, the design is pretty exciting, akin to a Stadium Club.  But maybe collectors who have been building sets over the last few years would like to see something new.

Let’s circle back for a second.  The base set features 26 player cards, 1 manager card and a team checklist for all 12 teams in the NPB (6 in each league).  Additionally there are some parallels (serial numbered gold cards, gold & silver foil facsimile autos, hand signed on card signatures, a small handful of jersey relics and some alt-photo cards.  Additionally there is the Cross Universe (& Cross Universe 3D), Gemstone and Japonism inserts.  A considerably smaller offering of chasers compared to their American analog Topps.

The back is in all Japanese.  I would guess that if you’re studying the language, having a bunch of flash cards written in kanji might be helpful.  For me, It’s been 25 years since I’ve even tried to read the language, so I’m lost in the sauce on the backs.  I do like one design element where all Central League teams have red highlighted elements and Pacific League squads are trimmed in green.  The action photos on front, I’ve been told, are mostly from Spring Training (eagle eyed collectors have caught players from the Korean team KT Wiz in the background of some Fighters’ cards – the teams meet annually in Arizona where they share spring training facilities, I believe with the Cincinnati Reds).  It’s personally slightly disappointing that most, if not all, the photos also feature exclusively the teams’ home uniform sets.  But the photos are gorgeous.  Great photo quality, and the card stock is top of the line front and back.  Another nice addition are the team checklist cards (which, surprisingly, also count the Gemstone, Cross Universe & Japonism cards).

My personal opinion is that this is a great jumping in point for Americans who are interested in getting into Japanese cards.  You get the full range of teams in this set as well as some stunning looking inserts (the Japonism and Cross Universe are some of the most stunningly crafted designs I’ve seen in a long time).  With the limited number of inserts and parallels, putting together a full set through pack cracks and picking up singles isn’t unreasonable.  Then, at the end of the day, you will have an awesome looking set.  That’s why I’m carrying this set rather than one of BBM’s other offerings, or a set by Calbee or Epoch (the other two major brands producing NPB cards).

Overall, this is a really interesting set for a couple different types of collectors.  First is for collectors interested in the Japanese game.  But also, there are some interesting guys to look at becoming a super collector of (Wladimir Balentien comes to mind).  Then, I just like picking up non-MLB products.  It’s also a good looking set.  It won’t look like a custom card you printed out on your LaserJet sitting in your binder between Topps flagship & Stadium Club cards.

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1998 St. Paul Saints (Northern League) Team Set Review

Back in the late 90’s when Major League Baseball lost it’s monopoly protection status, it opened up the door for a new generation of “rebel leagues”.  The Northern League, the St. Paul Saints’ first home, was the first to reach the baseball zeitgeist – at least that I was aware of – early on.  It may have been when J.D. Drew forsook the Phillies during the ’97 Entry Draft, rejecting the $2.5million signing bonus (he had asked for $10million) and signed instead with the St. Paul Saints.

The Saints, owned by Veeck (son of Bill Veeck) and Bill Murray (yes, of The Life Aquatic and Saturday Night Live’s lounge singer skits), which means that funky promotions is part of their DNA.  A baseball team owned by Bill Murray with the Veeck promotional heritage is bound to make the news on occasion.  So the Saints have always been bubbling just under the surface through the last 25 years of my baseball fandom.  I remember one promotion from a few years ago that got nixed by the league where the Saints planned to compete the first three innings of a regular season game via MLB The Show on Xbox.  A decade ago or so, when it was first proposed, it sounded stupid.  Now, four of the top five sports run incredibly robust esports leagues (and the tier 4 soccer club I work with sponsor an EA FIFA pro and consider him part of our player roster).  There were also a couple years where the Saints would challenge their cross-town Major League colleagues in attendance.

All that, plus the “My name is Paul, they’re from St. Paul” connection have drawn me to following the Saints over the years.  So one of my collecting goals is to have all the Saints’ team issued sets.  I found this ’98 team set on eBay at decent price ($15 + shipping) and picked it up.

The set came shrink wrapped with The Great Hamboni facing out on one side and J.D. Drew facing out on the other.  Aside from Drew, the only other player with any name recognition is former rookie of the year candidate and AL All-Star Matt Nokes.

My initial reaction to the set is that it’s pretty harsh looking.  Each card features a player (or coach) cut out and Photoshopped onto a background featuring a fairly gaudy Saints’ logo in gold and white.  The player name is full width at the top of the card, but is ghosted, blue on blue with a white outer glow, and then – and I’m realizing this after only taking a good hard look – but there’s also a facsimile of the player’s autograph up top.  The result is a muddled and difficult to read mess.  The bottom of the card is no better.  The Saints’ logo, in it’s proper & traditional blue, a gorgeous, classy and classic logo is too small and turns into blue scrambled eggs, lost against the other elements of the card.  I can say, however, that all the photos are nice and crisp and there is a nice mix of posed, versus action, but all the pics are from home games.  My personal preference is to get all the teams’ uniforms represented into a team set.

The back of the card is simple black and white, but does feature the front side photo as a watermark with the typical back of card information.  My problem is that the text is a little small.  I think they tried to mash a little too much info on the back.  However, compared to some other minor league team sets, there was a lot of thought put into making a good back of card design.  They just missed the bullseye.

Overall, the front is gross and fits in the gaudy “let’s cut players out of pictures and put them on horrific looking backgrounds” fad of the era.  But that does speak to the quality of the set.  In the late 90’s we’re coming into the PhotoShop era, teams like the Saints were able to produce a set with a design like this in-house.  In the card I can see the time and care they put into the design of the card.  Its easy 20 years later to pick at the style.  But then again, if you saw me in the late 90’s wearing a sweater vest over a plain white shirt and a visor like Joey Abs, you’d probably give me a low grade on visual appeal, too.

The legacy of this set is that it stands up against the major releases of the day from a design stand-point.  Maybe we’re not proud of our Semisonic CD, but I’m sure that if I follow you around enough I’ll catch you humming “Closing Time”.

There are a lot of reasons to put this set in your collection.  Aside from J.D. Drew or Matt Nokes collectors, Twins fans may want to start collecting the Twin Cities’ other team.  The J.D. Drew card also makes it a good grab because of the ’97 draft drama.

The set is like a DeLorean.  It’s ugly as sin, is a perfect representation of what was wrong with style when it was made, but you know what?  I still like it.

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1989 STAR Minor League Series 2 Set Review

Once again, thanks to Dan Stickney at Fadads Collectibles in Belleville, MI, I was able to pick up two boxes of ’89 STAR minor league.  Dan did a fantastic job of delivering both boxes safely, and four days early.  You can visit his eBay store by clicking here.

This 1989 STAR minor league set was supposed to be a 300 card, 3 series set, but it appears the series was abandoned after series 2 released.  So what we have is a 200 card set split into two distinct series releases.  Series 1, which I reviewed yesterday, is one of the poorest efforts I’ve seen at a national minded release.  The card design was lazy, the colored borders seemed random, the reverse was muddy and worse of all the card distribution was terrible.  I lost count on double dips, and after a box, I’m at 50% on the checklist (not counting the Hensley Muelens error).

The second series addresses, if not solves, a lot of the problems of the low number run.  Before we get into what STAR did right, there were a few problems.  Initially, the packaging seemed to have no effort behind it.  The pop box is very generic.  Green fading into red with a ball with “STAR” in front of two crossed bats and above that a pennant that reads “MINOR LEAGUE” above “Base Ball Cards” and the tag line “The stars of tomorrow .. today!”  No pictures of ball players, no images of the cards to attract kids over.  Then there’s a “1st Edition” in a comic book FX balloon, which even 30 years later, is confusing.  Is this the 1st series?  Is there a 2nd edition of 2nd series coming?  Match that with the pack packaging that correctly reads “2nd series”, the whole thing just comes across looking like a gong show.

The set does however fix some of the major design issues that hindered series 1.  The most apparent fix is that STAR went away from multiple border colors to a uniform red border color.  Maybe not the ideal choice, when you have a red border around players wearing Pirates’ yellow & black or Giants orange, it does hit the eye much less harshly than the previous series.

The quality of photo used in series 2 is a full letter grade improvement.  From a D to a C.  The photos are brighter and a little bit more effort was put into the crop.  But they do suffer from lack of action.  It’s a lot of stagnant shots of players posing with a bat and not many of players swinging a bat or sliding into a base.

The back of the cards are a major improvement.  The team logos are much clearer and the color is closer to white than the “faded legal pad yellow” of the early series.  The print is also a uniform red, which again not an ideal choice, particularly if you consider color fade as the cards age.  But, still a vast improvement over the dealer’s choice color selection.

Star power versus the previous edition is a slight improvement.  Series 2 features players that have a little better recognition, we’re looking at Robin Ventura, Deion Sanders and Tino Martinez versus Steve Avery.  It may be harsh to criticize player choice three decades later.  Particularly when you’re talking about 200 players (overall) drawn from roughly 1500 players and 50+ teams in affiliated baseball in 1989.  But, looking back at the collection, from a player recognition standpoint, you’re going to be more drawn to series 2 for guys like Ventura, Sanders and Martinez.

I lamented earlier about the awful card distribution of the blue box 1st series.  It was not unusual to pull the same card twice in a pack.  That is really where series 2 shines for me.  As a modern collector going back to a “junk wax” set like this, the ideal scenario is to get a box, rip packs and be able to complete a low count set without having to supplement either with additional packs or by trying to grab singles off the internet.

It took me exactly 75% of the box to complete the 100 card series 2.  A dramatic improvement over the blue box.  It was actually pretty funny.  I put the Tino Martinez card into it’s slot in the line-up and thought “I can’t have many more needs”.  Then I rifled through and realized that I had in fact completed the set.

I like to look at these sets as what value do they have for collectors today.  To that standard, series 2 rates way higher than Series 1.  Being able to rack-up a full set inside of a box that you can get on eBay for $12-$20 is very appealing, particularly for those of us old enough to remember when the hobby was ripping packs to build sets.  The design is a lot more pleasing than Series 1 which has a draw for those of us who put their sets into binders.  But, for completists like me, it’s difficult to deal with series 2 independently of series 1 because this set starts at card 101.  Then you sleeve it behind the rainbow border series hits your eyes very wrong.  Then there’s the total lack of player appeal.  Deion Sanders (who annoyingly has the only sideways photo in the set) might be the biggest name, but as a baseball player his cards didn’t seem to have much staying power.

Now that I’ve had some time to sit and think about my experience with STAR Minor League 1989, I just can’t.  I can’t foist this set upon you.  $27 for both boxes.  But I’m going to be int for at least another $15 to take a run at completing the set.

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1989 Star Minor League Series 1 Set Review

The very definition of “junk wax” is this 1989 Star series 1 minor league set.  Series 1 is a 100 card line-up with not much in the way of star power or aesthetic appeal.  Before I get started though, this review is based off a box of 1989 Star Series 1 cards.  I got it and a box of Series 2 from Fadads Collectibles off eBay.  Dan Stickney were packed very well, arrived in 3 days and he accommodated sending them to a different address.  5 star shipper.  Visit Dan’s eBay store here.

Star power wise (no pun intended), Steve Avery is probably the biggest name in the set.  Avery was part of the killer Atlanta Braves pitching corps of the early 90’s, but an injury in the ’96 season shortened what had been promised as a long and bright career for the lefty.

Rod Beck and Moises Alou stand-out as big names, but only in comparison to the Brian Deaks that make up the rest of the series.  There are some great “Quintessential 80’s Baseball Names” in the set though, particularly Titi Roche, Oreste Marrero and Rich Casarotti.

The cards are very simple.  Star may have actually phoned it in when designing their logo.  I think it went like this:

Star Executive: I have no imagination, can you just write “star” in all caps in like, I don’t know, Arial Bold?

Graphic Designer: Yes.  That will be $10,000, please. 

The cards are very simple.  Each card has a primary color border, which seems to have been assigned independently of the team colors represented.  The STAR wordmark is the largest element font size wise and is in the top right corner.  Bottom left is the player name and bottom right is the team city and position.  No graphic elements on the front at all.  The player photos range from posed to action   Some are incredibly poorly cropped (ie: Brian Hunter #35) or just poor photos (ie: Brian McRae #44).

The back of the card is a weird almost faded legal pad yellow with either blue or red print which again seems to be independent of the team colors associated with the player.  The only graphics are on the back, with team logos – some of which didn’t reduce to card size very well (ie: Albany-Colonie Yankees), and a MLB Killebrew.

Stats are very basic, vitals, and a “how obtained” which includes draft position, trade info or free agency signing info.  The SABR numbers are limited to the typical set for late 80’s cards.

It’s funny, the last two sets I picked up, the ’88 Cape Cod League sets, both have way more fire power player wise than this series 1 set.  Star eventually came out with 3 x 100 card sets for the ’89 MiLB season.  Logic would reason that they would lead with their strong foot and launch with guys who were more likely to be stars.  It’s easy to look back and wonder why series 1 didn’t lead with Sandy Alomar and Tino Martinez, or even a Albert (then Joey) Belle.  I can’t remember now 30 years on whether any of those guys had rookie year hype.  But one look at Mike Anaya and you know he’s destined to be a bartender at a VFW Hall out on Long Island somewhere.

I look at baseball cards in two ways, there are financial buys and emotional buys.  This set, actually, none of the 3 sets are going to make sense from a financial stand point.  And really, since none of these cards are drawing more than pocket change, it doesn’t make sense to crack packs looking for a Steve Avery or a Hensley Muellens (though, I guarantee if you get a box you’re likely to pack pull a half dozen of either).

Really, the only appeal to this set, and how I justified buying two boxes (one series 1 and one series 2) from eBay was the nostalgic allure of just shredding a bunch of packs.  There’s something very comforting and friendly about cracking 48 packs of baseball cards.  For me, it’s almost worth the money just to be able to sit on the couch with my legs crossed and half bury myself under a pile of ripped up wrappers.  It’s the equivalent of popping every blister on a sheet of bubble wrap.  Staring at a pile of disheveled papers before finally being able to square all the corners.  Its the ritual of opening a pack of cards and mumbling “got it, got it, need it, got it, got it, need it, need it, got it”.

Matter of fact, I’m sitting here staring at the series 2 box I got (you can tell because the series 1 box was blue and red with blue packs and said “Series 1” and the series 2 was green and red with green packs and also said “Series 1”) and holding off on opening them.  If I can wax poetic, it’s the withholding of the pleasure, like a heroin addict that draws the needle back before plunging the dragon.

But, for a reasonable, rational, responsible adult, there is absolutely no draw to the 1989 Star minor league set.  It’s not pleasing to the eye, it won’t increase in value.  I can’t recommend this set at all.  The cards are easy to come by, I got two boxes shipped off eBay for $26.95.

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Incoming Product: 2018 BBM 1st Version

There are three major baseball card producers in Japan that release Nippon Professional Baseball card sets.  BBM, Calbee and Epoch.  BBM is the top dog in the NPB card scene, and they take advantage of that by releasing 18 sets this season.  12 are team sets, the other six general releases ranging from Version 1 & 2 (equivalent to Topps Series 1 & 2) and ranging up to Genesis, which is a very high end release.  In contrast, Calbee has 1 set release with just 6 insert sets.

Bay State Baseball Cards is adding BBM 1st Version to stock in the next week or two.  We want our Japanese offerings to be simple for people just sticking their toe into foreign baseball card waters.  So let’s take a look at 1st Version.

The base set is a 336 card checklist with 28 teams per team, 26 player, one manager and a “Spring Training” themed team card for each of the NPB’s 12 squads.  There’s a 36 card Cross Universe subset, and 3 twelve card inserts (Japonism, Gemstone and 3D Cross Universe).

There are also some relics and chases including 200 serial numbered Dennis Sarfate cards.  For a more robust breakdown of the set, read this post at japanesebaseballcards.blogspot.com.

The base cards are fantastic looking.  Full bleed photos with no border.  A very small BBM logo in one corner (with consideration to avoid overlapping any element of the photo).  I really like the paint stroke background behind the player’s name.  The reverse has a head shot and a bunch of information in Japanese, which I haven’t read since I took Japanese 101 which was weirdly offered to me in 8th grade back in the very, very….very early 90’s.

I’ve seen pictures of the Japonism insert, which hints at cherry blossoms in a very fantastic way.  The Cross Universe set, according to the JBC post (link above), is reminiscent of other “cross” subsets from the last 8 years.  But this year’s set has an ethereal cosmic vibe.  The Gemstone set feels like a miss to me.  It looks like it maybe sort of wants to be Japonism, but doesn’t know how to draw The Great Wave off Kanagawa.  I would have gone away from pink background with sort of similar elements for the Gemstone set.  But, I really believe that between Japonism, the relics & auto cards and the strength of the base set totally offset the points lost on the Gemstones.

Overall, the set received strong reviews from the NPB collector blogosphere (do people still say “blogosphere” in 2018?), and looks to be a strong jumping in point for those of us who are interested in starting our Japanese card collection.

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Webstore Update

Soft launch of Bay State Baseball Cards will occur on November 1st.  On that date I’ll start accepting orders.  For me that day will bring my life full circle.  My first job as a wee young lad was at a baseball card shop outside of Philadelphia.

I am on vacation next week, my partner and I are running up to Portland, ME to get away from all the people who annoy us by driving their cars in front of us and being in line in front of us at stores and restaurants.  We’re both big hockey fans, so I think she’s taking me to a Maine Mariners game.

In the next ten days, I plan on adding a bunch of new stock to the webstore.  I have some Topps Heritage High Number and base be as well as a handful of Panini cards (including a small binder full of 2018 Stars & Stripes with some pretty dope insert hits).  I’ll also be adding a couple hundred 2018 BBM 1st Version cards.  I’m really excited to be able to carry Japanese baseball cards.

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Set Review: 1988 Ballpark Cards Cape Cod League

One of the things that I got excited about when I decided to move to New England was the Cape Cod Baseball League.  If you’re unfamiliar, the Cape Cod League is a long-running amateur league that features college players from around the country playing wood bat baseball.  It’s become a proving ground for MLB prospects, as it’s the first time scouts get to see them swing wood bats.  There are maybe 2 dozen such summer college leagues around the country, but none has the history or the pedigree of the Cape.  One of the other allures is the opportunity to spend some time out on Cape Cod, surrounded by all things Cape and then wander up to a field behind a high school in towns like Falmouth, Chatham and Barnstable (where they still pronounce it “bahrn-stahble”) and watch guys like Frank Thomas, Mo Vaughn and Jeff Bagwell pepper the trees just beyond the outfield wall for free.

My first Cape League experience came in Bourne, where a friend and I spent a cool early summer evening sitting on a stone fence behind the chicken wire backstop, watching Jeff Conine’s son take his hacks and petting the occasional stray dog.

And it’s with that perspective that I’m looking at this 1988 Ballpark set.

This is a 30 card set, featuring two players from each team that had been tagged as top prospects.  Fortunately in hind sight, they hit on a lot of names like Frank Thomas, Mo Vaugh, Jeff Bagwell, John Valentin and Chuck Knoblauch.  I don’t think any of those guys have actual college sets, so these will be the first on card appearance for a couple Hall of Famers.

The front of the card is clean and simple.  A step behind design wise what some minor league team and prospect sets were doing in ’88.  But considering the laid back, non-commercial aesthetic of the league, this design works very well.  The front features “action portrait” photos with a nice mix of batting stances, fielding stances and pitchers in different points of their delivery.  The front graphics limited to a black border around the photo and a grey field featuring “CAPE COD PROSPECTS” on line one, the player’s name & position on line two and their team on line three.

The back of the cards are also very well done.  It feels like a lot of time went into the execution of this set, particularly on the back of the cards.  Each card features the player’s name, college, home town and typical demo stats (height, weight, bats/throws, etc).  Each player also gets some basic stats from their NCAA career and then a mix of “honors” from their regular college season and Cape League trivia.  Then up in the left corner is the Cape League logo from the era and an older MLB logo (the ball on flag design from the 60’s) instead of the familiar Killebrew logo.

Another fun aspect are the uniforms themselves.  I think we’ve gotten accustomed to the Brandiose uniforms, where every team has 10 jerseys, and logos that cost thousands of dollars to design.  The Cape League in the 80’s was very much an amateur league.  The jerseys reflect that in the best and most warmly nostalgic way possible.  It hammers that the league’s focus is on playing baseball for the love of baseball.

My only, very minor, nit-picky complaint is that the cards are hand cut.  That means that they aren’t uniform in dimensions and some may not fit cleanly into a 9-sleeve binder page.  That was where I intended to store this set, and it was mildly disappointing that I’m not able to do that.

But, the set is pretty readily available on eBay for around $45 opened (virgin sets are a few dollars more).  But considering the Frank Thomas card itself floats at around the price of the entire set, I think it makes sense to also grab a Bagwell and Mo Vaughn for the collection.

This is a great set for college collectors, pre-rookie collectors, Frank Thomas, Jeff Bagwell, Mo Vaughn and Robert Gralewski completists, and if you just like odd-ball non-big brand sets.  For under $50, the set has a ton of bang for the buck.