Tagged: Red sox

Underappreciated Baseball Great Tris Speaker

Tris Speaker was one of the most prolific and underappreciated players in Red Sox history.  Playing in the shadows of Ty Cobb during baseball’s “Dead Ball Era”, Speaker led the Red Sox to World Series championships in 1912 and 1915 and the Indians in 1920 as a player/manager.  The “Grey Eagle” hit for high average, power, and production while establishing the standard for center field defense.   

From deep in the batter’s box, the crouching Speaker held the bat at the hip to ensure greater contact.  He struck out just 220 times during his 22-year career that included 3,514 career hits.  Speaker displayed the strength to hit line drives into the gaps and down both lines, accounting for his still-standing major league record of 792 career doubles.  Speaker batted higher than .350 nine times and higher than .380 five times en route to a .345 career batting average.

Despite the lofty batting statistics, Speaker won just one batting title courtesy of playing in the same era as Cobb, who won 12 batting titles and compiled a .366 career batting average.  Like his career accomplishments, Speaker’s baseball cards pale in comparison to Cobb’s, but are quite impressive in their own right.  Most baseball historians and vintage card collectors consider the 1909-1911 T206 card to be Speaker’s rookie.  The card displays Speaker on the verge of making contact from his unique batting stance.  Decent graded versions sell for as much as $7,500.

The original T206 baseball cards were issued in cigarette and loose tobacco packs through 16 different brands owned by the American Tobacco Co., including the “Ty Cobb” brand.  The set includes the T206 Honus Wagner card, the most valuable and coveted card ever produced.  One of the largest pre-World War I sets ever produced, the series also includes Hall of Famers Speaker, Cobb, Nap Lajoie, Cy Young, Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson.

Speed and defense also contributed to Speaker’s Hall of Fame career.  He stole 436 bases and hit 222 triples (fifth on the all-time list) during his career.  Speaker is considered the best center fielder of his time and one of the best ever.  Playing in an era when long drives were rare, Speaker played extremely shallow — practically positioned as a fifth infielder — to cut down would be singles and bloop hits.  His trademark play was racing to second base behind a confused or unsuspecting runner for a pick off play.  Speaker is still the all-time leader in putouts and double plays for his position.  He also recorded a record-tying 35 assists for the Red Sox in 1909 and 1912.

The majority of Speaker baseball cards display portrait or batting stance photos.  However, the 1927 Exhibits card is one of the few that feature Speaker in action defensively.  The photo shows Speaker as he awaits a throw, perhaps playing first base.  The 63-card 1927 Exhibit Baseball Set featured a green hue of the black and white images on each card front — a relatively new and unique printing method for the time.  Ungraded versions sell in the $125-$175 range.

Speaker’s unconventional path to centerfield started at a young age. After suffering two broken arms as a teenager, he taught himself to throw right handed.  Despite throwing with his non-dominant arm, Speaker tried to break into professional baseball as a  pitcher.  After being turned down by New York Giants manager John McGraw for a tryout as a pitcher, Speaker went to the Texas League to learn centerfield with the Cleburne Railroaders in his native Texas.

A year later, he was purchased by the Boston Americans (later Red Sox) and became the regular centerfielder, playing alongside Hall of Famer Harry Hooper and defensive whiz Duffy Lewis to form the “Golden Outfield,” which was widely considered one of the best outfields in baseball history.

One of Speaker’s earliest cards with the Red Sox is from the 1910-1911 M116 Sporting Life series.  A four cent investment would get readers of the Sporting Life newspaper a dozen sports cards.  Speaker’s card features a colorized portrait displaying his Red Sox baseball jersey.  Highly graded versions sell in excess of $5,900.

 

 

All-Star Shortstop Xander Bogaerts Heats Hobby

Xander Bogaerts entered the 2016 season as an emerging star. Three months into the season, he’s become baseball’s finest shortstop, arguably the game’s top hitter, and a viable American League MVP candidate. Being compared to big-time stars such as Mike Trout, Manny Machado, and Bryce Harper, Bogaerts has become a top star in the collectibles world as well.

The diversity of Bogaerts’ skills have been on full display since the start of the season. Spraying the ball to all fields, while also finding the gaps, Bogaerts has exploited defensive shifts by hitting to the open areas. The result has been a higher batting average and increased production — more hits with runners xanderon base while anchoring a potent Red Sox offense from the third spot in the lineup. Wade Boggs’ Red Sox single-season hit record (240) is well within his sights.

Taking baseball and the hobby by surprise, Bogaerts game-used memorabilia and certified autographed cards are few and far between for the time being. His limited 2015 Topps Gypsy Queen Red Framed Jersey card is a hot item selling for $12, while his popular 2015 Topps Career Highlights Game Used Jersey card sells for as much as $10. A 26-game hitting streak earlier in the season put Bogaerts in the national spotlight, increasing the the interest and value of his memorabilia cards.

Bogaerts has led the league in hits and batting for most of the season, while also placing among the league best in runs, RBI, doubles, and OPS. Most defensive metrics rank him among baseball’s best fielding shortstops. He also excels on the basepaths, stealing bases at opportune times while taking extra bases with regularity.

With an All-Star appearance in the offing, Bogaerts will be a focal point of many mid- and late-season baseball card releases. Expect to see a wide assortment of new Bogaerts game used and autographed cards in the coming months. For now, his 2012 Rize Prodigy Gold Autographed insert limited to a pr
oduction run of 100 is selling for $40

Just 23 years old, Bogaerts has become the best all-around shortstop to wear a Red Sox uniform since Nomar Garciaparra’s prime years of 1998-2000. Like Garciaparra rookie cards in the late ‘90s, Bogaerts’ earliest cards have become “must haves” for Red Sox collectors. His 2012 Bowman Chrome Rookie — a mere common card less than a year ago — is selling for $5. Limited autographed Bowman Chrome rookies are selling for $124, with “Blue Refractor” autographed versions limited to a production run of 50 approaching $1,000.

Impressed by his athletic ability and live bat, the Red Sox signed Bogaerts at the age of 17 out of his native Aruba for $410,000. As a teenager, Bogaerts represented the Netherlands in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, opening eyes with his play on the field and his maturity off the field. Bumped to third base to accommodate slick-fielding fellow countryman Andrelton Simmons, Bogaerts looked like a seasoned veteran, hitting .263 with a .364 on base percentage.

Off the field he impressed with advanced people skills and speaking fluently to reporters in four different languages (English, Spanish, Dutch and Papiamento). One of his rarest baseball cards is the 2013 Topps Tribute World Baseball Classic Game Worn Jersey, which is limited to a production run of 67 and is becoming increasingly popular, selling for $80. The Bogaerts base card from the WBC set can be had for $3.

With his baseball IQ on par with his on-the-field proficiency, Bogaerts looks to be a pillar in the Red Sox lineup for many years to come. An increasing international following will heighten the demand and value of his cards, so buy early and often. With David Ortiz in the twilight of his career, Bogaerts is quickly becoming the face of the Red Sox.

Red Sox Retire Wade Boggs’ No. 26

Wade Boggs is getting his due. Sixteen years after retiring from baseball, Boggs will have his number 26 placed on the Fenway Park right field facade, alongside the numbers of eight other Red Sox greats and baseball legend Jackie Robinson. The delay likely had something to do with Wade Boggs jumping ship and winning aWorld Series with the Yankees.

The Hall of Fame third baseman was one of the best hitters to ever wear a Red Sox uniform. His .338 Red Sox batting average is second to only Ted Williams. He won five batting titles and six Silver Slugger awards to go along with seven consecutive seasons with 200 or more hits during his 11 years with the Red Sox. His great eye at the plate combined with high batting averages produced remarkable peak seasons. From 1983-1989, Boggs hit .352 with a .446 on-base percentage, leading the AL in OBP in six of those seven years.

A model of consistency at the plate, Boggs produced a slashline of .328/.415/.413 with 3,010 hits in 18 big league seasons. A poor fielder his rookie season, Boggs worked to become one of the game’s better fielding third basemen, earning two Gold Glove Awards. Boggs also made 12 All-Star Game appearances.

Boggs is a key pl'83TBoggsayer in the popular 1983 Topps Baseball Card Set. Considered by many collectors to be the top series of the ‘80s, the ‘83 Topps set includes rookie cards of Boggs, Tony Gwynn and Ryne Sandberg as well as the second-year card of . The dual-photo format — an action or posed photo behind a small circular head shot in the lower righthand corner — has been a fan favorite over the years. Borrowed from the 1963 Topps series, the format allowed Topps to feature a wide-array of action photos without neglecting the traditional head shot.

Midway through the 1982 season, Boggs took over third base from reigning AL batting champion Carney Lansford, who landed on the disabled list with an injured ankle. Lansford never regained his job and was eventually traded to the Oakland A’s. Boggs made him expendable by hitting .349 for the season.

After quickly establishing himself as one of baseball’s premier hitters, Boggs — like Gwynn — was somehow excluded from the 1982 Topps Traded Set. Following a brilliant rookie campaign, Boggs was featured prominently in the 1983 Topps, Fleer and Donruss rookie checklists. Boggs’ elite status continued on the field as the second-year rising star lead the AL with a .361 batting average.

Relative newcomers to the world of baseball card collecting in 1983, Fleer and Donruss played second fiddle to Topps in production, marketing and distribution of their baseball card sets. As a result, Boggs’ rather drab-looking Fleer and Donruss rookie cards were not received with the same fanfare as the first-year Topps issue. Decent versions of the Fleer and Donruss rookies are available for $3-$5.

Because Boggs never hit for much power, except for that one season in 1987 — when many observers suspected baseballs had a little extra “bounce” — his rookie cards may have never reached their full potential. Traditionally, the rookie cards of sluggers are more sought after than the rookies of high-average hitters. Gwynn rookie cards may be slightly undervalued for the same reason. Never known for power, Boggs hit 24 homers in 1987 — when home runs were hit at an unprecedented pace — but never collected more than 11 in any other season.

The 1983 Boggs Topps rookie currently sells for $8 in decent condition with highly-graded versions commanding as much as $50. Because of minor production flaws and gum-stained card backs, the highest-graded versions are extremely rare.