Monday, March 2, 2015

Wallet Card at a Privilege Sign at Royal Pizza

Here's Wallet Card at my second privilege sign sighting, at Royal Pizza on Third Avenue. I actually spotted this one all by myself but later realized it had already been noted by Ephemeral New York, who state that the place opened in 1973. The sign is probably 40 years old.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Player Profile: Mickey Brantley

I have fifteen cards of Mickey Brantley. This one is from 1987 Donruss.

Playing career: Outfielder Mickey Brantley played for the Mariners from 1986 to 1989. In 302 games he hit .259 with 32 HR and 125 RBI.

Interesting facts: While a minor-leaguer at home in the off-season in Catskill, NY he worked in the local Boys Club with a high-school boxer named Mike Tyson. Tyson often ate at the Brantley’s home and according to Brantley, "Mike wanted to date my younger sister -- that was not going to happen.” Brantley invited 49 friends to his first game at Yankee Stadium in August of 1986, among them Tyson, who three months later would become the youngest ever world heavyweight champion.

Brantley’s son, Michael Brantley, is a star outfielder for the Indians.

Where he is now: President & General Manager of All American Prospects baseball instruction in Florida.

My memories: Only know him from his card.

Google Autocomplete results: He is second when you type Mickey Br, between Mickey Breton, a telecom executive in the Virgin Islands, and Mickey Brueckner, a gym owner in New Jersey. There do not appear to be any other prominent Mickey Brantleys.

Coming up next: The next profile will be Rob Brantly.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Bill Bray on baseball cards

Playing career: Bill Bray pitched for the Nationals and Reds from 2006 to 2012. In 258 games he went 13-12 with 3 saves and a 3.74 ERA. Now a pitching instructor at Colonial Baseball Instruction and Jamestown High School in Virginia, and a columnist for The Sporting News, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"If I remember correctly, every player when they sign gets a deal from Topps and a royalty check for $5.  If they produce a card, you get another check sometime after that.  I was so excited to have my first card.  2004 Topps.  
About 10 years earlier, I had made a deal with a family member involving baseball cards.  My hero is Sandy Koufax and my uncle had a nice 1964 Topps Koufax.  I wanted it so bad and he made the deal that once I had a card of my own, he would trade me for the Koufax.  I will never forget trading my card for his Koufax.  My Uncle framed the card with one of my jerseys and it's hanging in his game room. 
My favorite card of all time is the 1955 Topps Sandy Koufax Rookie.  Just a beautiful card. One of my goals in life is to own a PSA 10 version of it.   
My favorite card of myself is the 2007 Topps with the yellow background.   
I like it because of the cartoon on the back.  The cartoon suggested that I was popular with the ladies in college, which is so far from the truth.  That and the card is a throwback, which I love.   
I’m still collecting.  Mainly older cards now.  I have been putting together sets from the early sixties and have almost complete sets from 1964 and 1965.  I am picky about which cards I buy, so it is a slow process. I also have complete 1971, 79 and 83 sets."


Friday, February 27, 2015

Player Profile: Michael Brantley

I have one card of Michael Brantley, from 2012 Topps.

Playing career: Outfielder Michael Brantley came up with the Indians in 2009 and was a regular in their lineup by 2011. Through the 2013 season he was solid but far from spectacular, with career highs of .288 batting average, 10 HR and 73 RBI.

Where he is now: 2014 was his age-27 season, and like many players that age he had a career year, hitting .327 with 20 HR and 97 RBI.

Interesting facts: His father, Mickey Brantley, played for the Mariners in the 1980s.

My memories: I only knew of him as a run-of-the-middle outfielder whose father was in all the junk wax sets. I was quite surprised to see him third in the MVP voting this year. Probably the most under-the-radar star in the American League.

Google Autocomplete results: He is third when you type Michael Br, between Michael Brown Video and Michael Brown Facts, referring to the highly-publicized police shooting in Missouri. There do not appear to be any other prominent Michael Brantleys.

Coming up next: The next profile will be Mickey Brantley.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Wallet Card at Bickford's

Bickford's restaurants were cafeteria-style eateries, basically one step up from fast food, from the 1920s to the 1970s. The Bickford's pictured here, at 488 Eighth Avenue, went out of business in the mid-1960s, as rising crime in the city deterred the late-night crowd that was a key part of Bickford's success.
After Bickford's the location was home to a restaurant called Snacktime and then an adult book store. The Bickford's facade was revealed followed by the removal of the adult store's sign when it closed in 2000, and it remains to this day, with the building's current tenants, a pizza place and a hair removal spa.

In the 1950's Bickford's expanded into New England, and to this day there are still several of them around, mostly in Massachusetts, operating more as pancake houses. Also, the pawnbroker next to Bickford's in the photo, which also has a pretty cool old sign, has been in business at that location since 1901!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Player Profile: Jeff Brantley

I have 62 cards of Jeff Brantley. This one is from 1992 Ultra.

Playing career: Jeff Brantley pitched fourteen years in the major leagues, mostly for the Giants and Reds. In 615 games he went 43-46 with 172 saves and a 3.39 ERA. In 1996 he led the national league with 44 saves for the Reds.

Where he is now: A TV announcer for the Reds. He isgenerally considered one of the worst announcers in baseball. His lowest moment was talking about working on the World Baseball Classic, saying of pronouncing the players on the Taiwan and China teams, “I was ching-chang-ing to death.”

My memories: I remember him vaguely as a pitcher for the Giants. I had actually forgotten he was a reliever and not a starter. I think I would confuse him with John Burkett.

Google Autocomplete results: He is ninth when you type Jeff Bra, between Jeff Brameier, lacrosse coach at Darien High School in Connecticut, and Jeff Brandes, a Florida state senator. Another Jeff Brantley is a psychiatrist at the Duke Department of Psychiatry.

Coming up next: The next profile will be Michael Brantley.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cards from Johnny's Trading Spot

Johnny kindly sent me a medium flat-rate-box jammed with minor league cards he was looking to get rid of. Tons of variety in what he sent me which I love.

Most of the box was from Classic, like these two Ugueth Urbina cards with photos taken seconds apart. A lot of the Classic cards I had already, including a bunch of 1991, 1992 and 1994 Classic/Best and a lot of Classic 4-sport from all 4 sports, a lot of which are going straight into the Trade-A-Thon, so if you are participating in that expect some minor league cards! (And if you aren't in the Trade-A-Thon yet and want to participate, new folks are welcome!)
 I don't want to imply that he sent me a bunch of junk, though. There were a ton of really cool cards that I am keeping for myself, like super-shiny inserts from Classic.
 Lots of 1989 Star, a set I enjoy and don't have much from. Here's a Jerry Nielsen error card.
 Also more recent stuff like Just 2K, with its' weird border design.
Thanks Johnny!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Wallet Card at Instructive Books in Baldwin, NY

I've become so interested in old signs that have survived their business that I have been keeping an eye out for them as I drive around Long Island. I noticed this sign for "Instructive Books Inc." on this empty storefront on Grand Avenue in Baldwin this weekend.
They apparently sold encyclopedias and dictionaries. The most recent mention that I can find via google is an ad from 1949. I imagine the company is long-defunct but 66 years is an awful long time for no one to have painted over the sign. Anyone know of a way to research when the company did actually go out of business?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Player Profile: Cliff Brantley

I have sixteen cards of Cliff Brantley. This one is from 1992 Donruss.

Playing career: Cliff Brantley pitched for the Phillies in 1991 and 1992. In 34 games he went 4-8 with a 4.25 ERA.

Interesting facts: His son, Cliff Brantley Jr., was drafted by the Blue Jays in 2014 and played in their system last year.

My memories: Only know him from his card.

Where he is now: Anyone know where Cliff Brantley is now?

Google Autocomplete results: He is third when you type Cliff Br, between Cliff Brokaw, Managing Director of Corsair Capital, and Cliff Briggie, an artist. There do not appear to be any other prominent Cliff Brantleys.

Coming up next: The next profile will be Jeff Brantley.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Wallet Card at a privilege sign at the Starlite Deli

In the last couple of years I have become very interested in pictures of New York from the 1950s-1980s, a time where everything is somewhat familiar but also somewhat different, almost like an alternate reality. My favorite find so far has been a YouTube video called A Walk Through New York City in 1968. In 1968 for a student film someone took a movie camera and walked all the from Battery Park up Sixth Avenue all the way to Central Park. It was filmed to be seen in fast motion for about two minutes but someone slowed it down so that you can clearly see each block. If you are familiar with New York it really is fascinating to watch.

One thing that struck me watching the video was that you would see on every couple of blocks a luncheonette, pizza place, bar, etc., with a big Pepsi-Cola sign. I included some screen caps below to give you an idea. I did some research and it turns out they were called privilege signs, and they were given to stores around the country by Pepsi, Coke, 7-Up etc - free advertising in exchange for them buying a sign.

In the 1960s they were still very common across the country, but by the end of the 1970s they started being seen as old-fashioned and most of them disappeared. There are still a few holdouts today - keep an eye out for them in your neighborhood.

One New York-area privilege sign still exists in, of all places, Times Square, where little remains from before the 1990s. Unfortunately when I stopped by the Starlite Deli there was a scaffolding, but I got underneath to get a good picture of the sign.
I think privilege signs are my new obsession - I am keeping my eye out for them wherever I go, and would love to find out about others that are still in existence.

Here are just a few screen caps from the video, you can see a ton of them if you watch the whole thing.