Friday, October 31, 2014

Dusty Allen on baseball cards

First baseman-outfielder Dusty Allen played seven seasons of professional baseball, reaching the major leagues in 2000 with both the Padres and the Tigers. In 27 big league games he hit .250 with 2 HR and 2 RBI. Now the CEO of the Westgate Group in Las Vegas, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"I am not very into baseball cards.  I have never been one to collect any memorabilia.  Anything that I have ever attained while playing, I have given away (ie: Garth Brooks signed baseballs from when he was in Spring Training with me, Nolan Ryan signed baseballs that he signed for me when I stayed with his son Reid at his house when we were in college, etc.).  

I am not a very sentimental person."

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Interview with photographer Kevin Pataky

Kevin Pataky has been a sports photographer in Connecticut for many years. His work has appeared on numerous baseball cards. He kindly answered my questions on baseball cards.

"I collected cards as a kid. I started in 1975 and have all the Topps sets complete from 1974-2000. The Madison Bumgarner 2009 Connecticut Defenders card is my picture. It's one of my favorites because of his success."


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Matt Miller on baseball cards

Matt Miller pitched for the Rockies and Indians from 2003 to 2007. In 100 games he went 6-1 with 2 saves and a 2.72 ERA. Now the owner of 59 Baseball in Hattiesburg, MS, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"I was one of those guys that flew under the radar when it comes to baseball cards. I think my only "real" card was my Colorado Rockies rookie card from Fleer. I am asked all the time for cards but really only have team cards from my minor league time. 

I collected in the late eighties and early nighties around the time collecting was getting watered down, so the attic is full of cards with little value I suppose. One of these days I will bring them down and let my 8 year old go through them and see what he can find."


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sean Lawrence on baseball cards

Sean Lawrence pitched nine seasons of professional baseball, making the major leagues for the Pirates in 1998, for whom he had a 2-1 record in seven games. Now a police officer in Illinois, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"I don't collect cards, sorry. My favorite of myself would have to be the only big league card. It's a unique card I guess... It has Abraham Nunez, Aramis Ramirez, and me on it, and Aramis and Abraham's names are switched. Guess that's a "mistake" card?? Worth more?? Certainly not because of me.. Lol."

Monday, October 27, 2014

Alvie Shepherd on baseball cards

Alvie Shepherd pitched in the Orioles and Angels organizations from 1996 to 1999, winning seventeen games and saving ten. Now a Manager at Isagenix, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"My rookie card was taken while I was at college visiting during the fall semester. I was standing in the freezing cold which is probably why I'm not smiling.

My favorite card is my rookie card.

I used to collect cards when I was a kid but not avidly."


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Baseball card story from Fritz Peterson

Fritz Peterson pitched eleven seasons in the major leagues, nine of them with the Yankees. Winner of 133 games lifetime, his best season was 1970, when he was an American League All Star, going 20-11 with a 2.90 ERA. Author of the new book When The Yankees Were on the Fritz, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"My rookie card with Frank Fernandez on it is very ugly! I think they painted my cap on because I wasn't supposed to make the team that soon!"

Thanks! I don't have that card, but here is one from my collection.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Interview with photographer Ken Babbitt

Ken Babbitt has been a professional sports photographer since 1987, and his work has appeared on numerous baseball cards. He kindly answered my questions about cards.

"Where the majority of the more recent cards are action cards, there's not really much to say about them. Back in the early days, however, it was a bit different, as they were just about all posed shots. One thing that I remember is more about a card that I didn't shoot! I asked a kid, he was in the Yankees organization at the time, if there was anything different that he wanted to do for a card photo. He wanted to do the Heisman pose, with his batting helmet turned around. I told him that I wouldn't send that in, so he pretty much refused to do anything else. I believe what got sent in on him was a head shot. That's more a behind the scenes tale of a card that never got shot. I guess that I should have just done it!

Favorite cards.....that I have done. In 1999 and 2000, Team Best did subsets called "Babbitt's Bombers". They were simply minor league guys posed with a big bat. They were all players that were supposed to be power hitters. I shot Josh Hamilton just a couple of months after he graduated from HS, and there were some other guys that made it, and some that fizzled out before ever reaching the big leagues. We missed on a few!
Another of my favorite cards is of a kid by the name of Mike Conroy who was from my hometown. I had know him since he was 14, and his family forever. He was a supplemental 1st rounder, taken by the Indians out of high school in 2001. After his season ended, Upper Deck sent me an Indians jersey and cap, and we met up behind Scituate (MA) High School and did the photos.
Another for the favorites file...I had gotten hooked up with what was then Pinnacle Brands, and dealt with a photo editor by the name of Paul Glines, who has since passed away. He was the first guy to help me correct things that that I was doing, making my photos more "card worthy". During one of our several phone conversations, I told him how I had become good friends with Mo Vaughn, and had given my son the middle name Vaughn. He used several of my photos for Mo's cards, including a couple with the big bat shot at Fenway. Paul is a guy that I look back on as a true mentor in this business, he was a wonderful man.
My favorite card as a kid was the 1970(I believe) Frank Howard, shot at Fenway with the Green Monster in the background.Not sure why, but I always liked it.
As for collecting cards......At this point, all I care about are the cards with my photos, and I have fallen way behind in finding those. I'm sure that I'll never complete that task!"


Friday, October 24, 2014

Interview with artist Christopher Paluso

Christopher Paluso is a well-known artist in the San Diego area, specializing in sports and aerospace painting. He kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

Do you have any behind-the-scenes stories about cards you created?
The 2003 Upper Deck Play Ball Major League Baseball set where I was the lead illustrator. It started out they wanted to have me be the lone artist, it became evident that the timeline was too tight, so they added two other illustrators to complete the set. What is unique is that the images were done with white backgrounds, but I did a series of images that were similar to the original 1941 Playball set we fashioned the new set after. I did them in a way that they were equivalent to four widths of a card. This way no two backgrounds would be alike and would mean a background I did was behind an illustration of another artist.

 Do you have a favorite card (either one you painted or a different card)?
Well this one card was special for a couple of reasons. It was the Troy Glaus then California Angel. He was a Southern California boy playing for the Angels and when I was painting his image they were playing in the 2002 World Series, and right when I was finishing it he was up to bat and he hits a homerun. I had a tv going in my studio so I would not miss the games. Makes for a great memory.

 - Do you collect baseball cards?
So here comes the fun story with this. Yes I collect some cards, but mostly I have balls, bats, and misc. memorabilia in my collection, which is small. So as part of our payment for the artwork we did for the set, we were given five factory sealed boxes of the cards. Five cards per pack and 24 packs per box. I received them UPS on the day I was going down to my Tax man who was a big collector and very good friend Tony Pulli. His dad's cousin was MLB Umpire Frank Pulli. My wife tells me not to stop and look at them so as not to be late for my appointment. I said I have to take at least one box and because this was my first time with my art on a card. I take one random box and head out the door. Get to Tony's and go into his office and we decided to go ahead and open at least one of the packs. Now there is a back story to this. UpperDeck bought one set of the original set from 1941(only 72 cards) and randomly placed into packs. Now back to the opening of the first pack. I carefully opened up the pack and reached in and pulled out what I thought was one of the cards. Only it was in a plastic soft sleeve and it had a printed note congratulating me on getting an original 1941 card. The card I got was special on a number of levels, it was of a player who came from my hometown of San Diego and was the first of the 144 Hall of Fame images I have done for the San Diego Hall of Champions Sports Hall of Fame who I had two special meetings with, none other than Ted Williams. His card is the second most valuable card to Joe DiMaggio. What a great pull I have been told whenever I tell the story. The card is in our safety deposit box.

Thanks! Here once again is the original Paluso painting I acquired last week, which is what inspired me to look him up and reach out to him:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Al Sadler on baseball cards

Al Sadler pitched in the Brewers organization from 1992 to 1998. In 219 games he went 35-34 with 20 saves and a 4.30 ERA. Now a special education teacher and the owner of Al Sadler's Baseball in Conyers, GA, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"The one story I have about my card and probably the favorite is the one in Beloit with my leg kicked up. The real story behind the high leg picture is I had just gotten those shoes which no one else had at the time. I believe they were the new Bo Jackson's and I was trying to be funny and show them off all at the same  
I do not collect cards myself but my son and nephew does. I don't have the patience and they aren't worth what they used to be."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Billy Sample on baseball cards

Outfielder Billy Sample played nine seasons in the major leagues for the Rangers, Yankees and Braves. In 826 games he hit .272 with 46 HR and 230 RBI. He has written the script for a baseball movie that was released in 2013 called Reunion 108, (out on DVD shortly with soundtrack available on iTunes and 31 other music sites) and has acted in that and several other movies. He kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"During my first full year in the majors (1979), I got a card request that went something like this, "Mr. Sample, I think you are an outstanding young player and I would love to get your autograph ... and oh, by the way, could you get me Buddy Bell, Al Oliver and Richie Zisk's autographs too?"  And for that one time, I actually did.  I quickly learned from my 'Rookie Mistake' 

In old age and twenty-eight years from my last groundout to short, I still get about five autograph request per week sent to the house, all in mint condition, amazing; anyway, on the Prospects cards which has Danny Darwin and Pat Putnam preceding me from left to right, if I'm the first one to sign, I'll often tell the collector to remind the other two, that I'm still the best-looking guy on the card.  Darwin can fight and Putnam is real strong, so I may have to use my separating attribute; speed, to avoid any possible altercations :-)  

Most of the baseball card pictures are taken early in the morning in spring training, and that's not my best look.  I have a card in a Braves uniform, with those thin spring training caps, where I am in much need of a haircut.  I am still trying to keep that card out of view of my aunts, Bernice and Wincey, who would still admonish me, as old as I am, for having loose ends of hair going every which-a-way, embarrassing the family and myself. :-)  

Aside from that previous card and one in a Texas uniform that is so underexposed that you can hardly see me, I like my cards.  
My favorite is one in a Yankees' uniform in which I am doffing my cap.  Okay, okay, so it's staged, yet, I believe there is only one other player who has taken a picture that way.   
I'm not a card collector, my mother-in-law, Gloria, mounted my cards on wood and gave it to me as a present, and a fan did that as well, which I appreciated.  Once when going to the premiere of the movie, Echelon 8, my buddy, Keith Collins, invited me to be a part of the red carpet arrivals.  Since I wasn't in the movie, I thought I might need to identify myself to the photographers, so I carried a bunch of my baseball cards, almost as a joke.  Well, the photographers were all baseball fans and lapped up the cards with conversations of how they internalized the game and its history."

Thanks! And thank you to Wolfman Shapiro, who writes the Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter, for the introduction to Sample, who he recently interviewed for his newsletter. He is interested in interviewing baseball card bloggers who played Strat-O-Matic for his newsletter, so contact him if you would like to be interviewed.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Huge Haul Part V: Baseball hits

Finally, some highlights from the higher-end baseball cards in the second lot. Not quite as impressive as the football hits, but still some very cool cards, one in particular.

There was a big section of 1981 Fleer Star Stickers, which I guess is borderline vintage. Nice picture of Don Sutton doing what he does best.
  Pretty rare to get any kind of Trout card, let alone a cool-looking insert like this.
 I thought it was really cool when I pulled a Dick Perez 1/1 sketch card of Derek Jeter. Imagine my surprise when I came across a second, and then a third! Apparently Topps made an error - there was a 1/1 sketch card for each player, then Topps made a copy of it for a reprinted sketch card which was mass-produced but forget to remove the 1/1 from Perez's signature. Oh well, two of them are up for trade if anyone wants them.
 A Mickey Mantle card numbered to just 29 copies. With so many Mantle collectors out there I'm really psyched to have this card.
 There were a couple of real vintage cards in this set. Just because I don't actively collect vintage (no way I could afford it) I definitely appreciate getting cards like this. Here's a 1960 Norm Siebern!
 I like this one even better, from 1962 Topps. Even though it's a posed shot it has a real candid feel with the amount of detail in the background with the old, old Yankee Stadium and even the guy in the windbreaker.
This is definitely the coolest card in the lot though - a Bob Feller pants card. To have a relic card of a legendary, inner-circle Hall-of-Famer is really fun, definitely a centerpiece for my collection.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Huge Haul Part IV: Football hits

First off, an update on that Ivan Rodriguez painting I showed yesterday. This one:

It turns out it comes from the 2003 Upper Deck Play Ball set. Here is what the actual card looks like:
If anyone has this card I would love to trade for it. Apparently in 2003 Upper Deck had a contest to give away the original art for each card in the Play Ball set. This one was painted by Artist Christopher Paluso. Looking online, there are eBay auctions right now for the Todd Helton painting for $400 and the Carlos Delgado painting for $225. I don't have a COA or anything but the frame on my painting is the same as those, so I am going to assume mine is legit. It's cool to have a painting worth over $100 but even cooler to have original baseball card art.

This painting was many things the guy was just throwing into the second box he sold me. That box contained about 800 "hit cards" from football and baseball - numbered, refractored, inserts, vintage, autographs, jersey cards, etc. The football hits actually probably surpassed the baseball hits in quantity and quality. Here are some highlights:

Very little from this box would be up for trade. However I did notice several copies of this Chrome Peyton Manning card.
 I've loved tight ends ever since Mark Bavaro. Here are jerseys from two great ones.
 A very cool vintage oddball - from 1976 Wonder Bread.
 I'd forgotten Ronnie Lott was a Jet. Great player.
 Very cool to get an autograph of Mathias Kiwanuka, one of the great Giants of recent years.
 And a patch card of one of the greatest Giants of all time!
 When the guy was telling me about the box he specifically mentioned a Leon Washington rookie autograph. I was hoping it was the one where he is flipping a double bird. Still, this one is pretty cool.
 Always cool to get a jersey card of a hall of famer.
 Oldest football card now in my collection - this one is from 1964 Topps.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Huge Haul Part III: Non-sport and non-card stuff

The guy I bought the two lots of cards from was basically just trying to make room in his apartment. As a result, he started "throwing in" a lot of stuff into the big plastic tub that had some of the cards in it. There was a great variety of interesting and unusual things here, some of which I am keeping but others are up for trade.

This first set was actually in the first lot, but fits better here. It was a ton of cards (maybe the whole set) from the 1991 Gulf War set. So weird to have a trading card set about a war going on while it was happening. This is up for trade if anyone wants it.
  I saw this 1998 Yankee Valentino and thought that it sounded familiar. I figured it was just hyped a lot during the beanie baby craze.
 Then I looked at the back of the card inside the case. It turns out that this is one of the Beanie Babies given out at Yankee Stadium the day David Wells threw a perfect game against the Twins. This one is a keeper.
 There was a ton more beanie baby stuff which is up for trade if anyone wants it.
 Some other really random non-sport trading card sets (all up for trade if anyone is interested): Harlem Globetrotters, Valiant Comics, Beetlejuice the Animated Series, and the Godzilla movie with Matthew Broderick. That last one really surprised me - they made trading cards for it?

 Apparently they also made trading cards for the movie Hook. Again, up for trade if anyone has anyone wants them.
 Probably the weirdest thing the guy threw in were two sets of Butthedz Presents Miss Masters Spoofy Tunes. This were apparently made in Canada by an artist named Dave Dawson, and they present gross or salacious interpretations of the news and pop culture. Think South Park meets Garbage Pail Kids.
 Here is an example of the level of artwork and humor:

 Here's one they did that rips on card collectors. Kind of funny actually.

 These two sets are up for trade if anyone wants them.

There were four Becketts from the mid-2000 with Yankee or Met covers (Ryan, Reyes, Rodriguez and Jeter). If there is interest in trading for these let me know.
 Also to trade is this hardcover book from 1991 called Elevating the Game: Black Men and Basketball.
 It is not autographed but does contain a lot of press information so it's kind of interesting.
 These last two items I'm probably going to keep. This is an original Ivan Rodriguez painting, apparently a give-away from some card. I thought the guy said the artist's name was Peluso. Anyone know anything about this.
 Finally, also framed, was this photo of Hank Greenberg that was apparently given out in copies of Baseball Magazine during his playing career. Looking at eBay it's apparently from 1935 and goes for about $50 today, but I'm not trading or selling such a cool piece of memorabilia.