Saturday, April 30, 2016

Joe Durham, 84, first African-American to hit a home run for the Baltimore Orioles

Joe Durham, the first African-American position player in Baltimore Orioles history, passed away April 28, 2016 in Randallstown, Maryland. He was 84.

Joe Durham
Durham followed pitcher Jehosie Heard, who broke the color barrier for the Orioles earlier in the 1954 season as a pioneer during the team's inaugural season. Prior to joining the Orioles, Durham was an All-Star in the Negro Leagues with the Chicago American Giants.

In my column for The Sports Post, I profiled Durham from a 2010 interview that I conducted with him, where he explains his career experiences from playing in the East-West All-Star Game, to the hardships he faced integrating the Piedmont League in 1953, one year prior to his major league debut.

"Joe Durham was a Negro League All-Star Before he made History with the Baltimore Orioles." - The Sports Post

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

2016 Topps Gypsy Queen and Museum Collection keep things hot for collectors

Now that the obligatory release of the 2016 Topps Baseball set is in the rearview mirror, the famed baseball company has opened up the season with two products that are primed to set the table of any collector’s lineup. The 2016 Topps Gypsy Queen and Museum Collection sets are next on deck in Topps’ expanding baseball card line.

This year’s Gypsy Queen set blends a classic retro portrait design with the clarity of modern card manufacturing to create a truly wide appealing collectible. With exciting action shots frozen in time by the masterfully painted canvases, the cards make for a journey worth pursuing. The 350-card checklist gives a nod to the past by honoring almost 50 Hall of Famers with a dazzling subset of short prints, while all the major stars and rookies are covered in the base set.

The box provided for this review provided an array of inserts including two autographed cards and two relic cards. In addition to the two dozen mini cards that were randomly inserted into the packs, the box also yielded a pack of 10 parallel mini cards, which are part of a more limited set of 100 mini cards.

2016 Museum Collection (l.) & 2016 Gypsy Queen (r.) / Topps
For collectors seeking a fancier indulgence, the 2016 Topps Museum Collection will satisfy their hunger. Each four pack box boasts one on-card autograph, one autographed relic, one quad relic, and one prime relic.

The thick glossy design of the Museum Collection cards are similar to Topps’ other high-end products, giving collectors a heavier feel that a premium product deserves. Each of the relic inserts that came in the box had vibrant patches that equally highlighted the relic and the player featured on the card. Especially attractive was the quad relic card that came in the box, featuring four prominent players from the same organization with a mix of bat and jersey pieces.

As collectors dig deeper into Topps’ releases during the baseball season, both the 2016 Gypsy Queen and Museum Collection products are worthy of a look. Whether it is a collector searching for a set oriented product in Gypsy Queen, or a guaranteed-hit product like Museum Collection, both issues offer satisfying returns for the purchase.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Medgal explores 'The Cardinals Way' of success in new book

Author Howard Medgal peels away the layers surrounding the long-standing mystique of the St. Louis Cardinals system of player development in his new book, “The Cardinals Way.” Detailing the history of the storied franchise that has garnered 11 World Series Championships, Medgal connects the dots from over a century of innovation that started with the legendary Branch Rickey and continues today under the watchful eyes of general manager John Mozeliak and owner Bill DeWitt Jr.

Click here to read a complete review of Medgal's inside look at the Cardinals system of success.

The Cardinals Way / Thomas Dunne Books

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Start the 2016 baseball season with Topps Opening Day

As fans turn their attention from watching prospects and non-roster invitees compete during Grapefruit League games to the performance of their favorite team’s franchise players, the Topps Company celebrates the journey into the 2016 season with the release of their Opening Day product.

2016 Topps Opening Day Baseball / Topps

The 2016 Topps Opening Day Baseball set is a perfect complement to the excitement surrounding the calls of the umpires summoning the major leaguers to play ball. Topps brings back a fun simplicity to collecting by making it easy for fans to compile an entire set by purchasing a box of cards.

Click here to read more in depth about Topps' 2016 Opening Day Baseball card set.