Wednesday, October 21, 2020

1981 Topps Jerry Royster


The front: Here's an understated but appealing photo that almost makes you feel like you are standing on the field, not removed from the action. It might be Shea Stadium, which had the same color outfield wall, but it might also be spring training.

The back: The Atlanta stolen base record is now the 72 bases swiped by Otis Nixon in 1991. King Kelly of the Boston Braves stole 84 bases in 1887.

The player: Infielder Jerry Royster played sixteen years in the major leagues, ten of them for the Braves. He was mostly a platoon and backup player. In 1,428 games he hit .249 with 40 HR, 352 RBI and 189 stolen bases.

The man: Royster had a long career coaching in the major leagues and had managerial stints with the Brewers and in Korea. He is now head baseball coach at Sierra Canyon School in Chatsworth, CA. 

My collection: I have 34 of his cards, from 1976 to 1989. I would be interested in trading for 1985 Mother's Cookies #18.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

'61 Topps: Wasted opportunity?

 I really like the design of the '61 Topps set. The clean, sparse border allows plenty of room for the picture, which should have made this an all-time great set like '57. However, Topps botched it by overwhelmingly using plain headshots. You can see this in this recent lot of '61s I picked up. I never got the $25 eBay coupon it seems everyone else did, but I was able to massage $1.40 of extra bucks and the sellers' combined shipping to win three five card lots of '61 for under a quarter apiece.
As you can see there are two copies of #212 Haywood Sullivan, if anyone wants to trade for one.

Most of these cards have some kind of scribbled word or name on the back. But I took this photo to highlight the cartoon. Jim Brosnan's book was the first baseball tell-all and was somewhat controversial; I'm kind of surprised Topps made a cartoon about it.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Ebay mixed lot

 It's getting harder and harder these days, but I am still able to occasionally get a lot of beat-up vintage for under a quarter a card, my self-imposed limit. Here's my latest win.

First, the trade bait. 

1966-1969. A few pretty good cards here including Cepeda, Marichal and two Aparicios.
The '67 League Leaders card I had already but I'm switching out the one I already had for this new one, because I love cards like these. I was actually able to find a reference to Lamont Morgan at this address in a 1952 directory of the US Army's Ninth Infrantry Division. I'm guessing that 15 years after the Korean War, Morgan was married with a kid who labelled his baseball cards so they wouldn't get lost in flipping or trading.
Here are the keepers from the lot. 1954-1959. My first 1954 Bowman card! A nice Yanke card in there too.
Some big names from the 1960 set.
That Haddix card in particular is a beaut. What a great photo. Here is a closeup.

My "biggest" time travel trade yet

 Diamond Jesters' regular time-travel trading series had a really interesting addition this week. I actually waited a day in case someone would have a better offer, as I didn't have anything really great to trade, but no one else seemed to want them, so I scrounged up my oldest cards for trade plus a few "newer" vintage stars, and got these in return from Matt.

This was the easy part, three standard vintage cards I needed. I really love the Burdette/Shantz card. Burdette had eight inches on the 5-6 Shantz. 

These were the big draw though. Three 5 x 7 Yankee photo cards, issued by Jay Publishing in 1963. Like the '30s Diamond matchbooks, these are in Beckett and the TCDB, so I'm happy to consider them part of my baseball card collection.
Here's Ford next to one of the cards, to give you a sense of size. In hand they are similar to magazine pages, thin and not shiny, but with a crisp and clear photo that would look great in a frame.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

A surprise consolation prize

 During the ALDS I was having fun with Chris the Collectors' "predictions" about the Yankees, pretending that Chris, a Red Sox fan, could use his powers to help the Yankees. Of course, the Yankees ended up losing the series, but I was surprised by an envelope from Chris this weekend, with a note apologizing for "jinxing" the Yankees. Inside were these three great cards. Two reminders of the 1996 World Champions (25th anniversary next year! Where did the time go?), and a 1967 Topps need, of one of the far-too-many baseball legends we lost recently.

Like Chris I am rooting for the Astros tonight. In my case it is so the Yankees won't be the only team to have ever blown a 3-0 series lead. Right now that doesn't look too like, 3-0 Rays in the 6th inning. Looks a lot like game 5 of the ALDS, in fact. Chris, I'll send some Red Sox your way soon. Thanks!

Friday, October 16, 2020

All the way back in 2018

 I recently got a nice stack of cards for my 2018 Topps setbuild from Jafronius. 

Some big names in here like Trout, Yadi, Scherzer . . .

It's only two years old, but a photo like this already seems quite out-of-date. I'm surprised at how much I miss the home crowd reaction during games. When a Yankee would hit a home run in Yankee Stadium, you would expect to see everyone jumping up like this. I found it surprisingly disappointing not to see that in baseball games this year.

This photo could be 2020. Heck, it could be 1920. Just a great photo that looks more like a Stadium Club card then a standard base card.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

More cracked goodness

 I got another great package this week from A Cracked Bat.

Part of it was my latest pick pocket picks. I went heavy on the shiny this time.

Julie also included these three '66 needs, which I don't remember asking for - what a nice surprise!

In my last pick pockets I had gotten a Panini White Wave Prizm of Gio Urshela. I loved the card - one of the most colorful shiny cards I had ever seen. Julie had a bunch of them in the pick pockets so I told her I would trade some cards for any leftovers. Here's what I got. Magnificent!

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Cardboard Cousins: '56 Topps/'01 Fleer Tradition

 In 2001 the Fleer Tradition design was a ripoff of the '56 Topps design. This is the closest match I could find among cards I had. Moose Skowron was a prototype of the Aaron Judge/Giancarlo Stanton model the Yankees have today - big hulking slugger who is always pulling a muscle and losing playing time. Casey Stengel had him take dance lessons to improve his flexibility, maybe Aaron Boone can have his guys do the same. Enrique Wilson is pictured as a Pirate here but is best known as a Yankee. Primarily a backup, he was famed for his hitting prowess against Pedro Martinez, and was always in the lineup against the Red Sox Hall of Famer.

There's a surprisingly simple connection for Skowron and Wilson - both wore #14 for the Yankees. Personally I think of Lou Piniella with that number. It is currently worn by Tyler Wade.


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Vintage backgrounds: Don Zimmer

 My original goal for this series was to include anything interesting in the background - could be unusual objects, people or famous lurkers. Here's a famous lurker. Even though Bobby Adams was pictured as an Oriole on his 1956 Topps card, he played for the Reds and White Sox in 1955. That infielder is the Brooklyn Dodgers #23, Don Zimmer, at the beginning of a very long career in major league baseball.

This appears to be the first game of a doubleheader, July 17, 1955 at Ebbets Field. In the second inning Adams singled, then went to third on a throwing error by third baseman Don Hoak. This was presumably a double play attempt where Hoak threw the ball past Zimmer who was setting up for the double play. It does appear Zimmer is looking for a ball that went past him here. Despite the error the Dodgers cruised to a 6-2 victory.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Almost free vintage

 I claimed quite a few cards from the recent Almost-Free Friday from Cards As I See Them. I made sure to send GCRL a lot of cards in return for this high-quality vintage acquisition.

From the 1970s. The 1970 Topps RBI Leaders marks a milestone for me - it completes my 1970 Topps Series I (cards 1-132), my first completed series from the pre-1974 years when Topps issued cards in series.
Some great early 60s cards, including baseball card legend Wally Moon.
Finally, I couldn't pass up a nearly free '55 Bowman or a star from the Yankees' dynasty days.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Cards and Vintage Things: Charlie Maxwell and the Baby Dolls

 Fortunately for me, the pandemic surge in baseball card pricing has not affected the matchbook market, and I've been able to acquire cheap lots at a steady rate. I'm not showing all of them here, though I will eventually show off the lot that this one came in as it had a lot of sports-related matchbooks. However, when I saw this one I realized it would be perfect for Collecting Cutch's annual Save Second Base event. It's not very vintage, '80s I guess by the hair. However it goes well with this pink 1958 Topps card.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Losses big and small

 Yesterday was a tough day for Yankee fans, first and most importantly with the sad news of Whitey Ford's passing. The greatest pitcher in Yankees history, Ford was a native New Yorker who grew up in Queens and lived on Long Island, by all accounts a gentle character with an old-time New York toughness underneath. Then in the evening Gerrit Cole pitched beautifully but ended up losing to the Rays, 2-1, ending the Yankees season. Cole's gallant effort in defeat was reminiscent of Ford's stellar outings in the 1955 and 1960 World Series, which the team lost despite Ford's fantastic pitching. Aaron Boone's questionable pitching decisions in the ALDS pale in comparison to Casey Stengel mishandling the rotation in 1960, causing Ford to pitch only twice instead of three times, which led to Stengel's firing. Hopefully Cole's Yankees will bounce back in 2021 the way Ford's did in 1956 and 1961.


Friday, October 9, 2020

It's all coming together?

 Last night, even without Chris the Collector's "help", the Yankees managed to force a Game 5 in the ALDS. The hitting, with home runs by Voit and Torres, was just good enough, and four pitchers pitched very well. They seem to be set up tonight with Gerrit Cole pitching. I'm feeling almost optimistic, which probably means they're doomed. It will be fun though . . . 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Momentum changes quickly

 Everything went poorly for the Yankees yesterday. Tanaka and the relievers provided the Rays another session of home run derby, the offensive outside of Stanton has forgotten how to hit, and Chris the Collector didn't even comment on my post. I'm starting to think he might not even like the Yankees.

Another clunker like the one Tanaka pitched yesterday and the Yankees are done until next season, whenever that may be. So much for the myth about "Playoff Tanaka" . . .

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Chris giveth . . . Chris taketh away

Early in Game 1 of the ALDS Chris the Collector commented on my post that he thought the Yankees would score ten runs. They scored nine and won the game. Last night he commented that he would not predict for Game 2, and the Yankees scored just five runs and lost. Chris, since you obviously have magical powers over the Yankees, please predict something good for the Yankees tonight. If you do, and if they win, I'll send you some Red Sox cards.

Another reason the Yankees lost is Aaron Boone's attempt to be smart and "fool" the Rays by switching pitchers after the first inning. Though it's not like he has many good options; the Yankees have given up 15 runs in the two games Gerrit Cole hasn't pitched. Meanwhile, the Yankees hitters read all the headlines about what great home run hitters they are, ruined their swings trying to do home run derby and set a postseason record for striking out.

The real goat, of course, is Giancarlo Stanton. He only hit two home runs when the Yankees needed him to hit four.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

The commenter is always right

While last night's game was still 4-3, Chris the Collector commented on my post from yesterday that he thought the Yankees would put up another 10 run effort. He was close - they ended up scoring 9 with a five run ninth. I don't know how much longer the Yankees can keep this together, but I wonder if this will be a more offensive-heavy postseason than usual, without the grind of a full season. The last few years the Yankees would peak in the midsummer - maybe this year October is the equivalent of midsummer, especially playing in warm weather sites. If so that would be a big help for the Yankees, at least until the big muscle guys inevitably start pulling muscles instead of fastballs.

Last night all four home runs were clutch - go-ahead blasts for Frazier and Judge, a game-tier for Higashioka, and the backbreaking grand slam by Stanton in the ninth. Gerrit Cole continues to carry the Yankees pitching staff. Someone else will need to step up and join him. Good thing they have got the steady veteran Masahiro Tanaka going ne - Deivi Garcia? What? OK, we'll see . . . 

Monday, October 5, 2020

ALDS preview

 The Yankees start their next round tonight against the best team in the American League. The Yankees lost eight out of ten to Tampa Bay during the regular season, but they have their injured players who missed those games back for the postseason, although some are probably due to pull a muscle or two during this series. Can the Yankees attack Tampa Bay's pitching the way they did Cleveland's? Can they get their own act together on the mound? We're about to find out. The biggest wild card might be the neutral site. We'll soon see who is helped more by playing in San Diego's Petco Park. 

Sunday, October 4, 2020

1981 Topps Stan Bahnsen

The front: Here's Bahnsen in Spring Training at Daytona Beach. None of the ads on the wall have been scratched out.

The back: His fifteen-year career did not leave room for an information blurb.

The player: Stan Bahnsen, "The Bahnsen Burner", had some good years with some bad Yankee teams in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In five seasons he went 55-52 with a 3.10 ERA. He was traded to the White Sox and never really had the same success, despite lasting for another 11 years in the majors for five more teams. Overall in 574 games he went 146-149 with a 3.60 ERA.

The man: After his playing career Bahnsen went into the celebrity cruise industry, recruiting former teammates to appear on celebrity cruises for the MSC Cruise company.

My collection: I have 21 of his cards, from 1967 to 1982. I would be interested in trading for 1970 Topps #568 and 1972 Topps #662.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Cardboard Cousins: 1954 Topps/2000 Fleer Tradition

 Like Upper Deck Vintage, Fleer Tradition often stole from Topps designs. The 2000 set is a ripoff of 1954 Topps. I don't have many '54s but managed to find a team match with #202 - Pirates Bob Purkey and Pat Meares. The fielding poses are even kind of similar from card to card.
It was tough to find a good connection between these two. In 1965, Purkey was a St. Louis Cardinal, where one of his teammates was a rookie named Steve Carlton. Carlton's last season was with the 1988 Twins, managed by Tom Kelly, who also managed Meares when he made his big league debut with the Twins in 1993.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Wax Pack Wonders never cease

 I got another nice PWE from my newest trading buddy Wax Pack Wonders.

Some modern set fillers.

And some great vintage cards! Two from '71 Topps, one from '62 Post, and one each from 1970 Topps and O-Pee-Chee. The Ed Stroud O-Pee-Chee is a "perfect miscut", a term I just invented. The miscut occurs exactly along the top and left borders!
Here is a closer view on a dark background.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Who needs pitching?

It's not that often you can slug your way to a win in October, but that's what the Yankees did last night. Their own pitching was pretty bad, but home runs from the G & G & G boys (Giancarlo, Gio and Gary) kept the Yankees in the game. Aroldis Chapman pitched a great ninth inning after the bullpen had blown two previous leads, bearing down after Gary Sanchez's passed ball on what should have been a game-ending strikeout to avoid disaster. 

On to San Diego to play the Rays. Yankees were 2-8 against Tampa this year. The Rays won't make the mistakes the Indians did, so the Yankees better be ready. Hopefully the warm California weather will keep the Yankees' bats hot.
(I couldn't resist showing Gio on an Indians card.)

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Save some runs for the next game, boys

 The Yankees sure looked good last night. Of course, I've seen them win the first game handily and go on to lose the series lots of times. I remember the back-to-back-to-back home runs against the Indians in Game 1 in 1997. Indians ended up winning the series in Cleveland on a Sandy Alomar home run. Alomar is now managing the Indians so I'm sure he'll have them up for Game 2, so the Yankees better beware of a letdown.

No matter what happens the rest of the way, four home runs and a great pitching performance are a nice highlight for a postseason game.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Playoff preview

Even though it seems almost silly this year, I have done a little playoff preview for the Yankees every time they make the playoffs. The Yankees were actually a pretty bad team most of the year, but a couple of hot streaks were enough to land them a postseason spot. No home games and a poor stretch of play to end the season likely mean a quick playoff exit, but some postseason baseball is better than none. 

I guess the biggest highlight of the year is having the AL batting leader and home run leader. Too bad both of them have much better numbers at home . . .

Monday, September 28, 2020

Forties Card Friday

 Jon of Penny Sleeve for your Thoughts, the father of Free Card Friday, had another of his generous giveaways last week. I was very happy to claim a 1949 Bowman card of Emil Verban. I have a few 1930s matchbook "cards" and that Warren Spahn Exhibits "card" from Johnny that is probably a 1948, but this is now my oldest card that is clearly a baseball card, and nothing else.

Nice front - the red background really pops.

The back is as much fun as the front. I love the 12/31/49 expiration date. I also love the "New York 46" post code. I looked up the PO Box and in the early 60s it was used by Jack August Seafood, a New England chain of food products and restaurants.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Cards and Vintage Things: August 15, 1952

 On August 15, 1952, Eisenhower and Stevenson were traveling the country in their campaigns to replace Truman, while attempts at diplomacy in Korea were failing. That day someone stamped the back of this Westbury Manor matchbook. Opened in 1946 on Jericho Turnpike in Westbury, L.I., the venue still exists today, catering weddings and other events. Personally I can't remember if I've been there myself or not; I've been to several similar venues in the area and they all pretty much look alike to me.

That date wasn't great for the New York teams, either. The eventual pennant winners, Yankees and Dodgers, both lost on the road, while the Giants split a doubleheader with the Braves in the Polo Grounds. Hank Thompson's two-run home run in the eighth inning of a 1-1 game in the nightcap salvaged the night for the Giants. (This card is a 1994 Topps reprint, not an original 1954.)

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Another generous blogger

 Daniel of It's Like Having My Own Card Shop recently gave away cards to people who commented on one of his posts. I had no idea what would be coming, and was quite surprised at the nice PWE I got.

Those six 1970 Topps cards are all semi-high numbers, including Hall of Famer Don Sutton. Very generous! The 1999 Upper Deck card was from my modern wantlist - I can't remember seeing a photo like that on a baseball card.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Vintage backgrounds: Mystery at Daytona City Island Ballpark

 What was so offensive about the ads on the walls at the Expos' spring training home in Daytona Beach? Three players have ads in the background that have been obscured by black marker.

You can see it a little bit on the right of Ellis Valentine's card.

It's much clearer on the left of Jerry White's card. Note that it is to the left of a yellow sign.

The same can be seen on Dan Warthen's card, though now it is to the left of a white sign with a red logo. Was the sign on the right changed, or is this a different sign that was obscured?

I scoured all of the Expos cards in '77 Topps, and the years before and after, for clues. The other sets weren't helpful. Pepe Frias and Gary Carter have cards that feature the outfield wall unobscured but too far away to read. Woodie Fryman's card, however, provides a possible clue. The logo on the sign to the right of the Belk Lindsey sign has what appears to be the same logo as the sign on the Warthen card, though missing the red dot in the middle. Was the red dot also added by a Topps staffer?

Belk Lindsey, now just known as Belk, is a regional department store chain. That does not seem offensive, the way the Marlboro ad in Yankee Stadium might have. Had they refused to sell Topps products? Did someone at Topps think the logo was too prominent and interfered with the picture? Or perhaps the obscured sign is something else entirely.

1977 is my cutoff for vintage. When I started the Vintage Backgrounds project, my intent was to find all kinds of interesting things in the backgrounds of vintage cards. My first few posts happened to be about ballparks and they generated a lot of interest, so I started focusing on those. For future posts in this series I am going to go back and do what I originally intended, and look for other surprising objects/people/etc.