Friday, July 31, 2015

Player Profile: Greg Briley

I have 38 cards of Greg Briley. This one is from 1989 Fleer Update.

Playing career: Outfielder Greg Briley played for the Mariners and Marlins from 1988 to 1993. In 598 games he hit .253 with 29 HR and 135 RBI.

Where he is now: Hitting coach for the White Sox rookie-league team in Great Falls.

My memories: Only know him from his card.

Google Autocomplete results: He is seventh when you type Greg Bri, between Gregg Brie, a corrupt businessman, and Greg Britton, Editorial Director of the Johns Hopkins University Press. Another prominent Greg Briley is a photographer in Charlotte.

Coming up next: The next profile will be Tyler Brilinski.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Wallet Card visits some of the last alleys in Midtown

Movies that take place in Manhattan often have scenes in alleys, particularly action scenes (Home Alone II, Highlander, Jason Takes Manhattan come to mind). In reality, Manhattan real estate is so valuable that every bit of empty space is gobbled up and real alleys are very few and far between.

Broadway Alley is located between 26th and 27th streets, between Lexington Avenue and Third Avenue. Despite the name it is not particularly close to Broadway - the name was supposedly to make it seem classy.
 One side of the alley is unpaved, making it the only dirt road in midtown and one of only two in Manhattan, according to the great Scouting NY blog.
 I noticed another alley a couple of blocks away. With the empty alleyway space, the trees, and shack, it is hard to believe you are at the corner of 29th and Lexington.
 A few blocks further up is a more typical Manhattan alley. Sniffen Court at 36th and Lexington features 19th-century carriage houses converted into private homes. It is best known as the location for the cover of the Doors Album Strange Days.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Trade with Jaybarkerfan

Got some nice cards from Jaybarkerfan's Junk. All Yankees and no junk. Here are some highlights:

This was the first card I saw in the package and I was immediately excited - I had seen pictures of this card since I was a kid, am excited to finally have it.
 Another Mattingly card from his playing days that I did not have.
 Incredibly shiny card of one of the Yankees' top prospects.
 This was an interesting card, kind of an unusual texture, almost like a thick business card. This was produced in 1997 by the Score Board company.
 Finally, a card numbered 69/100 from something called Topps Gold Label, according to the gray label on the front of the card.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Player Profile: Nelson Briles

Check out my retrospective of the baseball cards of Hall of Very Good inductee Lee Smith over at the HOVG.
I have two cards of Nelson Briles. This one is from 1978 Topps.

Playing career: Nelson Briles pitched fourteen years in the major leagues for five teams, most notably the Cardinals. He was a key part of the 1967 World Champion Cardinals team, going 14-5 with a 2.43 ERA. His .737 winning percentage led the National League, and he went 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA in two games in the World Series. He also won a World Series game in 1971 as he helped Pittsburgh beat Baltimore in that series. A fuller account of his career can be found at the 1972 Topps blog.

Post-baseball career: After his retirement he was a broadcaster and front-office executive for the Pirates. He died of a heart attack while golfing in 2005.

My memories: Before my time. Only know him from his card.

Google Autocomplete results: He is sixth when you type Nelson Br, between Nelson Broms, former CEO of Equitable Life, and Nelson Bryant, an outdoors writer. There do not appear to be any other prominent Nelson Brileses.

Coming up next: The next profile will be Greg Briley.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Wallet Card at Merchants Bank of New York.

Check out my retrospective of the baseball cards of Hall of Very Good inductee Jim Kaat over at the HOVG.

In 2001 Valley National Bank acquired Merchants Bank of New York, which had been in business for 75 years. Fourteen years later, Valley's blue and yellow sign at the bank's Diamond District branch is dwarfed by the old Merchants Bank sign that goes down the side of the building.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Player Profile: Reid Brignac

I have two cards of Reid Brignac. This one is from 2009 Topps.

Playing career: Third baseman Reid Brignac came up with the Rays in 2008 and was a backup for the team for several years. His best season was 2010 where he hit .256 with 8 HR and 45 RBI in 113 games. After playing for Tampa Bay from 2008-2012 he has bounced around the majors, with brief stints for the Rockies, Yankees, Phillies and now Marlins.

Where he is now: He signed with the Marlins for 2015. He has spent most of the season in AAA, but in seventeen big league games he has one hit in thirteen at-bats.

My memories: I remembered him as a Tampa Bay Ray but had completely forgotten his seventeen-game stint with the Yankees in 2013. I guess hitting .114 with 0 RBI will make you forgettable.

Interesting facts: His wife Lauren Anderson was Playboy’s Miss July 2002. Anderson is six years older than Brignac, who was sixteen years old when his wife’s centerfold was published.

Google Autocomplete results: He is third when you type Reid B, between Reid Barton, a mathematician, and Reid Bartelme, a costume designer. There do not appear to be any other prominent Reid Brignacs.

Coming up next: The next profile will be Nelson Briles.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Some more random Wallet Card appearances

A few more wallet card shots not really meaty enough for a stand-alone post...

The Chelsea Florist used to be called the Chelsea-Merit Florist... can still be seen on the old sign underneath the awning. They don't advertise "Funeral Design" so prominently anymore.
 The sign for another florist across the street caught my eye. Quite old-fashioned and probably decades-old, it really stands out from the newer but more temporary-feeling signs all around it.

Finally, one more sign that really caught my eye. Westpfal has been providing cutting instruments to New Yorkers since 1874. It's not actually a vintage sign but it's different and unique.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Player Profile: Stoney Briggs

I have one card of Stoney Briggs, from 1995 Upper Deck Minors.

Playing career: Outfielder Stoney Briggs played ten seasons in the minor leagues, mostly in the Blue Jays and Padres organizations. In 1007 games he hit .260 with 101 HR and 472 RBI. A fuller account of his career can be found at the Autographed Cards blog.

Where he is now: A youth baseball coach in Delaware.

My memories: Only know him from his card.

Google Autocomplete results: He is third when you type Stoney Bri, between Stoney Bridge Ireland, a town, and Stony Brook University, a college. There do not appear to be any other prominent Stoney Briggses.

Coming up next: The next profile will be Reid Brignac.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Wallet Card at S. Wolf Paint

S. Wolf Paint at 52nd Street and 9th Avenue was founded in 1869 and supplied paint for many of New York's most famous skyscrapers, including the Empire State Building. The Wolf family sold the business to Janovic in 1987, and Janovic later sold it to Benjamin Moore. However the Wolf sign, complete with "Since 1869", remains on the 52nd Street side to this day.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Player Profile: Dan Briggs

I have three cards of Dan Briggs. This one is from 1979 Topps.

Playing career: Outfielder Dan Briggs played seven years in the major leagues for the Angels, Indians, Padres, Expos and Cubs. His best season was 1979, when he hit 8 home runs in 227 at bats for the Padres. A fuller account of his career can be found at the 1980 and 1982 Topps blogs.

Where he is now: Owner of the Big League Baseball School in Worthington, Ohio.

My memories: He shared his thoughts on baseball cards with this blog in 2013.

Google Autocomplete results: He is third when you type Dan Bri, between Dan Brill, who works in advertising, and Dan Brisse, a snowboarder. The first entry when you google Dan Briggs is not the ballplayer but the bass guitarist for the band Between the Buried and Me.

Coming up next: The next profile will be Stoney Briggs.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Some random Wallet Card photos

A few wallet card photos that weren't really meaty enough for their own posts:

If you zoom in on the sign Gene's, a Greenwich Village restaurant since 1919, you will notice the phone number OR5-2048. "OR" stood for Oregon, which was what the area's phone exchange was called before converting to all-number dialing in the 1960s.
 Here's another sign old enough for an alphabetical exhange. MU stood for Murray Hill.
 The sign on Phil's Stationery on 47th Street is old enough that the sign company decal on the lower right had an alphabetical phone exchange. It's too small to see in the photo, though, but it dates this sign to the 1960s at least.

 The sign for Trumart Fabrics on Seventh Avenue appears to be about the same age.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Player Profile: Tony Bridges-Clements

Playing career: Tony Bridges-Clements was the Royals’ first-round pick in 1986. The shortstop never played in the major leagues but did play even years in the minor leagues, mostly at the AA level. Overall in 548 games he hit .230 with 9 HR and 142 RBI.

My memories: Only know him from his cards. Didn’t realize that Tony Bridges and Tony Clements were the same guy until I put this post together. I have two cards of him, one with each last name:
Where he is now: Anyone know where Tony Bridges-Clements is now?

Google Autocomplete results: Tony Bridges-Clements is not in Google autocomplete and there does not appear to be anyone else with that name.

Coming up next: The next profile will be Dan Briggs.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Pedro Liriano's favorite card

Pedro Liriano has pitched professionally since 2001, most recently with the Camden Riversharks. He made the major leagues in 2004 with the Brewers and 2005 with the Phillies. He kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"I am not really a collecting cards guy, but I do have a special favorite card of my self. 
This one:"
Thanks! I don't have that card, but here is one from my collection:

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Wallet Card at the Knickerbocker Hotel subway entrance

The Knickerbocker Hotel was built in Times Square in 1906. As it was built over the subway, a special entrance was built on the subway platform. (Subway entrances inside of major office buildings are actually fairly common in NYC.) The hotel closed in 1920 and converted to office space. At some point many years if not decades ago the door was sealed off, but the sign remains. The building is now being converted back into a hotel, so maybe someday soon this will start being an active entrance again!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Player Profile: Donnie Bridges

I have one card of Donnie Bridges, from 1998 Topps.

Playing career: Donnie Bridges was the Expos’ first-round pick in 1997. He never pitched in the major leagues but did pitch nine years in the minor leagues, mostly at the AA level. Overall in 180 games he went 55-60 with a 4.31 ERA.

Where he is now: An instructor at 59 Baseball in Hattiesburg, MS.

My memories: Only know him from his card.

Google Autocomplete results: He is third when you type Donnie Bri, between Donnie Brasco – Joseph T. Pistone, Law Enforcement Agent, referring to the alias of an FBI agent, and Donnie Briggs, an actor. Another prominent Donnie Bridges is Digital Sales Specialist at Argen.

Coming up next: The next profile will be Tony Bridges-Clements.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Wallet Card by request: somewhere near Hollis

Back in January when I started Wallet Card I mentioned that I would take requests (which I still absolutely would). Tony L. of the Off Hiatus and 1982 Topps blogs wrote "I think you should take him for a ride on the LIRR and get a photo with Donnie Baseball in Hollis." Although years ago I used to take the LIRR through Hollis (a town in Queens) every day, I'm on a different line now and don't have reason to pass through it. I do get pretty close at one point, and a few weeks ago I snapped this photo just east of Jamaica, towards at least the general vicinity of Hollis; the buildings in the back may actually be Hollis. 
Hollis is a fairly typical Queens town mostly known for Holliswood Hospital, one of many NYC hospitals to close during the Bloomberg administration. A lot of musical talent from both the jazz and rap genres have come out of Hollis as well.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Player Profile: Michael Brewington

I have one card of Michael Brewington, from 1990 CMC.

Playing career: Outfielder Michael Brewington played in the Pirates organization from 1989-1991. In three seasons of A ball, he hit .271 with 6 HR, 79 RBI and 33 SB. A fuller account of his career can be found at The Greatest 21 Days.

My memories: Only know him from his card.

Where he is now: Anyone know where Michael Brewington is now?

Google Autocomplete results: He is eighth when you type Michael Brew, between Michael Brewster NFL, a center for the Saints, and Michael Brewer Stats, referring to a quarterback for Virginia Tech. The first entry when you google Michael Brewington is not the ballplayer but the Senior Director of Quality Insurance at IntercontinentalExchange.

Coming up next: The next profile will be Donnie Bridges.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Shawn Gallagher on baseball cards

First baseman Shawn Gallagher played professional baseball from 1995 to 2001, mostly in the Rangers organization. His best season was 1998, when he hit .308 with 26 HR and 121 RBI at Charlotte. He hit exactly 100 home runs in his minor league career. After his playing career ended he got two degrees in nuclear engineering at MIT and worked his way up the government ranks. From 2010 to 2012 he served as Director for Nuclear Threat Reduction at the National Security Council, where he is credited with conceiving and proposing the concept of Gift Basket Diplomacy. Now the head coach of the Ashburn Shooting Stars softball team in Ashburn, VA, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"I was an avid baseball card collector from the first box of 1985 Topps until I appeared in the 1996 Bowman set.  Even after then I continued to passively collect but at that point it was mostly to get cards of friends and teammates. As a 9 year old when 1985 Topps packs first started appearing in the local grocery store, I could pretty much recite every player on every team that season.  My collection continued to expand in 1986 with the Topps set and then really took off the next year when a baseball card shop opened in our small town in the Colorado mountains that also carried 1987 Donruss and Fleer.  By that time, my group of friends spent most of our time off the field collecting and trading cards. I can remember checking the mailbox every day starting the third week of the month when the new Beckett would arrive.  I had practically memorized the value of every card.  My big presents for birthdays and Christmas were always baseball or baseball card related. I continued at that pace until the industry started printing too many sets and insert/special cards to keep up with. Like many at that time, I was frustrated that I could never get all the cards of my favorite players without spending all my money on 20 different special cards.

My interests started shifting along with my style of play on the field.  By the early 1990s, I was known as a throwback player more like the old timers than the new flashy players. By that point I identified more with 1950s era and older players than I did with the then-current players and my collection reflected that.  I stopped buying as many packs and started scouring card shows and shops for older cards of my favorite players. I still have several 1930s era Hall of Famer cards and some tobacco cards in my collection, although none that would be considered very valuable because of their poor condition.  I was collecting more for the player and season than the resale value so I didn't mind wrinkled or badly worn cards.

By the time I got into pro ball, my collection stopped growing but my best baseball card memory came then.  Topps had pulled a few of us aside during Spring Training in 1996 to take some pictures and had us sign a contract. I didn't think they would actually make a card of me as an A-ball player but a few weeks later I received notice that they had and that it would be in the 1996 Bowman set.  As soon as the set was released, I bought a box to see if I was really in there.  No kidding but literally the first pack I opened had my card in it - a great memory coming full circle from that avid 9 year old collector to getting one of my own. These days the only additions to my baseball card collection is the box of cards I get under the Christmas tree - a tradition my wife keeps alive. It takes me back to my youth - to sit down by the tree on Christmas morning and open up packs of cards! 
I would like to see the baseball card industry begin to recognize female athletes on the same scale as male athletes by printing a full-scale, national-level set of softball cards.  I coach an elite youth softball team and can promise that these young ladies--and the older softball role models they follow--work every bit as hard and in many ways are more talented than their baseball counterparts.  The softball world needs a stage like this and some enterprising company may be shocked at the number of youth softball players and their families who would buy packs of softball cards."

Thanks! I don't have that card, but here is one I do have from 1999 SP.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Wallet Card tours some of the last remaining medallions on the Avenue of the Americas

As I have mentioned in the past, I have become very interested in the last few years in old photos of Manhattan and Long Island. One common feature in old Manhattan photos that I thought were all gone were the medallions of the Avenue of the Americas.

After World War II Sixth Avenue was renamed "Avenue of the Americas" in order to drum up interest among the various  countries of the Western Hemisphere to do business in NYC. It remains the official name of the street although most New Yorkers still call it Sixth Avenue. In order to emphasize the new name and function of the street, medallions featuring the various countries of the Americas were affixed to street lights. They were taken down in the 1990s as they were exhibiting signs of age and many streetlights were being replaced anyway. These medallions are prominent in any picture (or video) of Sixth Avenue from the 1950s to the 1990s, and they always catch my eye when I see them in a photo.

I recently read that there actually are some surviving medallions on either end of the Avenue of the Americas. I don't know that I'll get to the ones on the southern blocks of the avenue downtown, but it was easy for me to check out the medallions on the three blocks immediately south of Central Park. Seeing the medallions that I thought were gone forever was kind of like stepping back in time for me, and was definitely one of my favorite wallet-card finds. I made sure to take a picture of every medallion, so bear with me as I indulge with several photos that are meaningful to me, if possibly no one else.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Player Profile: Jamie Brewington

I have five cards of Jamie Brewington. This one is from 1996 Donruss.

Playing career: Jamie Brewington pitched ten seasons of professional baseball, reaching the major leagues with the Giants in 1995 and the Indians in 2000. In 39 major league games he went 9-4 with a 4.83 ERA.

Where he is now: In 2012 he was hired by the Pirates as a scout. The hire caused some controversy when it was revealed that he was in legal trouble for failure to pay child support.

My memories: Only know him from his card.

Google Autocomplete results: He is first when you type Jamie Brewi, ahead of Jamie Brewer, an actress. There do not appear to be any other prominent Jamie Brewingtons.

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

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The last - and best - of the $3 street boxes

Al says this is the last box, at least for now, unless he buys some more collections. That doesn't mean it's completely the end - he said he might put together some stacks of common refractors/numbered cards he'd sell for $3. We'll see I guess. Meanwhile the street boxes in their current format went out with a bang.

Highlights: modern
Lots of modern stuff as usual, including as always some interesting cards I'd never seen before. These foil cards from the 1995 Bowman set look really good in person, with an illusion of depth to the star field.
 Donruss Preferred is a fun high-end throw-in, especially with Luis Castillo's hooded sweatshirt.
 Topps Turkey Red always seems like such a bland set (as do all the "throwback" sets in my opinion). That's why seeing a pitcher pose as a catcher is such a surprise here.

Highlights: Unlicensed/counterfeit:
These poorly drawn cards are from an unlicensed set called "Franklin Caramels". It's kind of like a Broder set that is trying to look vintage. The set is from 1989 and is notable for containing a very early Ken Griffey Jr. card.
 This was really, really cool however. It's a counterfeit card of a card that was never actually produced, purporting to be a test card for a 1984 Nestle Don Mattingly rookie card with an alternate photo. Somebody named sshah55 is selling one on eBay right now for $45, not mentioning that it is counterfeit.

Highlights: Vintage oddballs
I don't actively collect vintage, because I would try to collect everything and could never afford it. Therefore I have a self-imposed limit of 1978 to my collection. However I like the vintage cards I come across very much. There was some really cool stuff in this box. Remember this box is about 1,000 cards for $3 so each card was less than a penny each.

1977 Hostess Don Baylor
 Five cards from 1976 Hostess.
 From 1970, a baseball-card-sized comic book from Topps called "The Al Ferrara story".
 Here's an example of a page on the inside. I think I'll have to take Wallet Card to Carnegie Hall.
 Here were the oldest cards in the box, three Topps game cards from 1968! This one-two-three inning features Gary Peters, Tim McCarver and Tony Gonzalez.