Happy Easter, and happy April Fool's Day! I'll be spending the day at my in-laws, which is sort of appropriate for this post - and you'll see why in a second. Today's Sports Card Tour stop is Detroit.
Detroit has four pro sports teams - the Tigers, the Lions, the Pistons, and the Red Wings. The Tigers won the American League pennant in 2006 and 2012. Newly-elected Hall of Famers Alan Trammell and Jack Morris led the Tigers to their last World Series title, in 1984.
The Pistons have won three NBA titles, the last coming in 2004. The Lions last title in 1957 predates the Super Bowl era; they are one of four NFL teams who have yet to appear in the big game.
The city of Detroit has many nicknames: Motown, the Motor City, Detroit Rock City.. and of course, Hockeytown.
That's because no American hockey franchise has raised the Stanley Cup more than the Red Wings. Their 11th Cup win came in 2008, against the Penguins (Sidney Crosby & co. won the rematch a year later.)
I don't have any original six-era hockey cards thanks, COMC so I have to rely on post-career cards like these. Retired players appear in baseball sets a lot more frequently than hockey players. Not sure if that's because of Upper Deck's exclusive NHL license or a perceived lack of collector interest in pulling cards of players like Ted Lindsay, Red Kelly, and others.
My father-in-law (whom I'll refer to as 'Pop' from now on) was a Tigers fan growing up; he listened to the 1968 World Series on the radio while fixing helicopters in Vietnam. I gave him my 1965 Topps Al Kaline card, which was probably the only vintage Kaline in my collection.
GCA (The Collective Mind) recently wrote about 2007 Sweet Spot Classic, and it reminded me that I pulled a Kaline auto out of a tin I bought from Dave and Adam's a few years ago:
Thankfully the autograph holds up on the wooden bat surface; many of the on-ball autos from this set have faded.
I have another bat relic of a Tigers legend..
This Ty Cobb is from the 2001 Sweet Spot Classic set. I bought this for about $40 on eBay quite a while ago, even though I don't have a Ted Williams relic. Must have been Pop's influence on me :)
Even with these two cards Pop's Tigers collection is much more impressive than mine. He has the entire 1968 Topps team set in PSA 8 or better, the 1984 Topps team set, a Denny McLain 8 x 10 autograph from when my wife met him at the last card show we attended (prior to last week's) and at least one* Black Diamond Die-Cut (Miguel Cabrera) from the 2011 Topps Diamond Dig contest.
*I think he has a Justin Verlander, but I'm not sure if it's a black parallel or a base.
Some classic-looking Tigers cards. The Kaline was a throw-in from the same dealer that sold me the Nelson Cruz and Omar Vizquel I picked up at the card show. Bunning was a dime box find; his second career as a Republican Senator was of particular interest to my extremely conservative in-laws. But I bought his card anyway :P
Here's some more Miggy, including a Finest blue refractor #d 50 of 50 - or in eBay terms, a one of one (aren't they all?)
Unlike Dennis, I don't have too many Verlanders.. only about a dozen or so. The Studio RC was part of a random bulk lot of baseball cards I bought on eBay. I might try that again sometime soon; I'm running out of tradeable cards.
I've cleared a lot of space in my Tigers binder pages lately - not just because there are a lot of Tigers fans around me, but because Trammell and Morris 'graduated' to my stars/HOFers box upon their selection by the veteran's committee. Someone needs to explain to me why Lou Whitaker continues to be overlooked; "Sweet Lou" had a higher career WAR than Tram, for what that's worth.
One more Tigers card to show off...this is one of my favorites:
For those of you over 30 (myself included) Victoria is a multi-talented entertainer who starred on Nickelodeon in her teens. I think she's stopped acting and become a pop singer, but I'm not certain. However I am certain that she's fricking gorgeous.
When I was writing my sick-lit novel someone recommended that I watch a similar young adult movie called Keith - which starred another singer/actor, Jesse McCartney.
I mention this because the character he played was named Keith Zetterstrom.
The writer must have been a Red Wings fan.
Steve Yzerman might be the best General Manager in the NHL. Unfortunately for Wings fans he's running their Atlantic Division rivals the Tampa Bay Lightning. I have some decent inserts of Stevie Y. My wife has better ones though...
But I have Yzerman's O-Pee-Chee RC:
It's the keystone of my never-ending quest to build a full set in PSA 9 or better. It's one of the two cards I bought when I sold my Gold Refractor autographed card of ...well, it's not important how I got this card.
I've always resented Brendan Shanahan for weaseling his way out of Hartford and riding shotgun with a Red Wings team that would have won two cups with or without him. My wife has a collection of Shanny cards and jerseys - including Whalers and Wings sweaters.
Sergei Fedorov never really bothered me, though he pulled some shit of his own in Detroit. He was holding out for a better contract when I was in high school; my best friend introduced me to a girl who claimed to be a Red Wings fan so I said "That sucks about Fedorov." She had no idea what I was talking about.
Red Wings miscellany. I got the Pete Stemkowski and two other 70-71 Topps cards from a man who lived next door to us until he moved when I was about 16. I always thought he was a grump until he called me over to his house and handed me some (pen-marked) hockey cards. Doug Brown lived in New Haven for a while and is related to the owner of the hockey equipment shop in my hometown. I sent Paul (Card Boarded) most of my Jimmy Howard cards, but I held onto this red prism parallel.
The rest of my Red Wings hits include a Pavel Datsyuk quad relic that received several trade offers back in the day, and a Curtis Joseph 3rd Period parallel (#d/10) from my 05-06 BAP haul. It's surprising to me that "CuJo" has not yet been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
As for the Basketball Hall of Fame, Grant Hill was just selected as part of the class of 2018 inductees. He was one of six Detroit Pistons on the ballot (seven if you count Chris Webber as a Piston) I picked up this jersey card on COMC. Don't remember how much it cost but it's #d to 49.
Many of those near-HOFers were on the Pistons' 2004 title team - including Ben Wallace, Richard Hamilton, and Chauncey Billups. I wasn't collecting basketball cards or following the game at that time, as you probably know. This is pretty much every Pistons card I have from 1998 to 2014, aside from a few Greg Monroe cards:
Since I was a 90's kid and the "Bad Boys" won back-to-back NBA titles when I first started following basketball, those teams are more frequently represented in my collection.
Reason number 11 why I never liked Michael Jordan - he held such a grudge over Isiah Thomas for getting the best of him that MJ pulled a power play and kept Isiah off the Dream Team (good lord, I actually agree with Stephen A. Smith!) While researching this post I learned that the Pistons' all-time leader in win shares is...Bill Laimbeer? Really?
Last but not least, the Lions.
I always admired Barry Sanders, for his running style and his humility. It's unfortunate the Lions couldn't surround him with a more talented team. I had hoped that he'd be the one to break Walter Payton's rushing record - but I understood why he'd choose to retire over taking another year's worth of physical punishment for a mediocre squad.
Calvin Johnson also carried the franchise on his shoulders before abruptly retiring at age 30. "Megatron" might soon follow Sanders into Canton. Matthew Stafford might be the most underrated passer in NFL history. He's compiled seven straight 4,000-yard seasons - but has a losing record for his career and has only made three playoff starts. This is his age 30 season...
When I was still buying football card packs and boxes, I had a knack for pulling relics of Lions QBs: a Charlie Batch here, a Joey Harrington there..those cards are long gone, but I held on to most of my Dan Orlovsky cards!
Dan-O is a Connecticut guy and UConn alum. Unfortunately he was thrown to the wolves on that 0-16 Lions team, and never really recovered.
Tigers card I'd like to own: I'm always on the hunt for Al Kaline cards, but I'd definitely like to add another Justin Verlander rookie card.
Lions card I'd like to own: This Barry Sanders Flair insert, in which the text compares his running style to a lyric from Pearl Jam's "Animal."
Pistons card I'd like to own: A Ben Wallace card. Or a Rip Hamilton card. I'm surprised I don't already have Hamilton in my UConn collection.
Red Wings card I'd like to own: I've always wanted Steve Yzerman's second year card from 1985-86 O-Pee-Chee.
Favorite Tigers player: Miguel Cabrera (despite the recent blogger backlash)
Favorite Lions player: Matthew Stafford
Favorite Pistons player: Andre Drummond, another UConn guy
Favorite Red Wings player: Dylan Larkin
I know this was a long post already, but we can't do a Motor City stop without showing a car.
That's better. Thank you, Victoria! :)
The next tour stop will be slightly shorter than this..we're headed north to Edmonton.
Thanks for reading! Enjoy the rest of your Easter!