Sunday, March 31, 2019

One of these things is not like the others

Got some nice cards in a PWE trade with Baseball Card Breakdown. The three '71s were the basis of the trade, but Gavin through in some modern cards as padding. One of them, the Fleer Tradition Giles card, was actually one I needed.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Pete Falcone on baseball cards

Pete Falcone pitched ten seasons in the major leagues, mostly for the Cardinals and Mets. In 325 games he went 70-90 with a 4.07 ERA. Now the owner of Falcone's Table Catering in Alexandria, LA, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"I guess my best story about baseball cards is that, a number of years before I met my wife, her little brother was playing with some cards in front of their house. Her ex-boyfriend happened to look at one of the cards that her brother was handling and one of them was an old St Louis card of me. He took the card and said my name and that he knew me from High School. My wife then took this certain card and made a comment about me, then eventually placed my card on her vanity mirror. She does not know why till this day. Of course she broke up with this fella and I came into her life some 5 years later. True story.
My favorite card is one of me when I was in spring training with the Mets. I am sitting down at my locker, showing a card of me to the cameraman. Also, to my right is a bare backed Pat Zachry. LOL

No I do not collect cards."

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Opening Day Predictions

I do these every year . . .


1. Yankees
I'll always pick the Yankees. This is basically the same team that won 100 games last year, but last year's second-half fade and this spring's injury issues are some red flags.

2. Red Sox
Speaking of red flags. The 2018 Red Sox were probably the best MLB team in the last ten years. I don't get the sudden fad this spring of counting them out because their bullpen is a bit weaker. With that lineup and starting rotation, they'll be just fine.

3. Rays
It will be very interesting to see how the second year of the "opener" experiment plays out. Was it truly an effective strategy, or just a novelty that teams have now had a chance to get used to?

4. Blue Jays
It feels like a lot more than four years since Jose Bautista's bat flip. Maybe Vlad Jr. will be the boost this team needs.

5. Orioles
If this team improves by 15 wins from last year, they will still lose 100 games.


1. Indians
The Indians made some noise about trading off some of their best players but mostly stood pat, so they should still be the favorite in baseball's weakest division.

2. Twins
The Twins have enough good young talent to seriously challenge Cleveland.

3. Tigers
How bad is this division? Last year the Tigers lost 98 games and finished in third place.

4. Royals
Losing Salvador Perez will hurt, but there is still some decent talent on this team.

5. White Sox
They spent the whole offseason chasing after Machado and Harper and got nothing.


1. Astros
Even without Keuchel this team is loaded.

2. A's
The A's have a great lineup, they just need some pitching. If they could sign Keuchel (obviously, they won't) it would flip the top of this division.

3. Angels
The Angels are in a similar position to the A's, a good lineup but with minimal pitching. If they get lucky they could be a real postseason threat.

4. Mariners
They traded their best pitcher and best hitter to New York teams.

5. Rangers
Looks like they are in full teardown/rebuild.


1. Phillies
I think Harper can really invigorate this team.

2. Nationals
There has been a lot of hype about this division, which is kind of surprising because only one team finished more than two games above .500. Juan Soto might be able to replace Bryce Harper's production, but this 82-80 team didn't really improve much.

3. Braves
Young teams that rise suddenly one year usually fall back to earth the next.

4. Mets
They are a few years too late for acquiring Robinson Cano to be exciting.

5. Marlins
How bad is the AL Central (part II)? The Marlins were the worst team in the National League last year. Had they been in the ALC they would have finished half a game out of third.


1. Cardinals
They had a nice off-season, and last year's playoff teams have some serious issues.

2. Cubs
Rarely has a great team looked as bad as the Cubs did at the end of last year. It will be very interesting to see if they bounce back in 2019.

3. Reds
Yasiel Puig makes the Reds a fun time to watch for the first time in what feels like decades.

4. Brewers
They were a very fluky team last year, and their already-unstable pitching situation got worse this spring, not better.

5. Pirates
Not a bad team, but overmatched in a suddenly powerful divison.


1. Rockies
This looked like a really good team at the end of 2018. I think they could be a sleeper pick to go far in October.

2. Dodgers
The Dodgers won two pennants with teams that seemed pretty shaky at times, which is certainly a credit to manager Dave Roberts. I think their luck runs out in 2019.

3. Padres
Manny Machado might turn this team from a 96-loss team to an 86-loss team.

4. Giants
86 losses sounds about right for this surprisingly-generic Giants roster.

5. Diamondbacks
They already waved the white flag this offseason trading their best player.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Wallet Card at Renato's Restaurant

Renato's was a small but well-regarded Italian restaurant that opened in SoHo in 1922. In the 1960s writer Tom Wolfe called it "a hideaway for those in the know". The restaurant closed in 1976, but over 40 years later, the sign remains.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

1981 Topps Jim Sundberg

The front: You don’t see the headshot with the batting helmet too often, but as Sundberg was a catcher, that might have been the only hat he had.

The back: This is an odd error. Sundberg did pinch-run on June 24, 1979, but he did not score a run.

The player: Sundberg spent a decade as the Rangers’ catcher, then spent a year in Milwaukee before coming to Kansas City just in time to help lead the team to their first world championship in 1985. Overall, in 1,962 games in 16 seasons, he hit .248 with 95 HR and 624 RBI.

The man: After his playing career he spent many years in the Rangers front office. He is now primarily an events speaker. He shared his thoughts on baseball cards with this blog in January.

My collection: I have 44 of his cards, from 1975 to 1989. I would be interested in trading for 1977 Hostess #110.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Al Lang Stadium

Wrigley Wax once again was a great photo detective, identifying the location of this Lou Burdette card as Al Lang Stadium.
He also linked to this great photo from the Tampa Bay Times, which clearly shows both the hotel and the ballpark.
This made me wonder about the hotel in the background (I couldn't find a name for it, it's not there now). Was it the location of the "house" visible in many junkwax-era Cardinals cards? Here are some examples - that "house" always intrigued me, as it looked so odd on a baseball card. Obviously, it's not the same building - too small and too close to the field.
It was some kind of fieldhouse behind the ballpark, as seen in this photo from Digital Ballparks.

Wallet Card with signs from Soho's industrial past

Today Soho (SOuth of HOuston Street) is a trendy neighborhood with fashionable shops and apartments. However, in the mid-20th century it was an industrial center with many factories. The factories are long gone but many of the signs remain. Click on the links from Walter Grutchfield's fantastic website to learn more about these bygone businesses.

Garvin Machine Co.
 Beekman Paper
Marine Engine Specialties

Sunday, March 24, 2019

1981 Topps Harry Spilman

The front: Getting ready for the pitch in a day game at Shea Stadium. This must be July 27, 1980, the only day game at Shea where he played first base. Spilman was the hitting hero in the Reds’ 10-4 victory; reaching base four times and scoring three runs, including a two-run home run off of Neil Allen. The second baseman is probably Ron Oester, who played most of the game at second. Late in the game Oester shifted to shortstop to spell Dave Concepcion, and Junior Kennedy came into the game at second.

The back: Spilman married Kim Grossman, a former secretary for the Evansville Triplets. Spilman was traded to the Astros in 1981 and became close friends with Nolan Ryan, who hired Kim as his secretary. After his playing career Spilman moved next door to Ryan and caught him during his off-season workouts. Spilman is one of at least ten former teammates of Ryan who named their son Nolan.

 The player: Primarily a pinch-hitter, Spilman played twelve seasons for the Astros, Reds and Giants, only topping 100 at-bats twice. In 563 games he hit .237 with 18 HR and 117 RBI.

The man: Spilman coached in the Rangers organization when Ryan owned the team. He is now Special Assistant to Player Development for the Royals.

My collection: I have 23 of his cards, from 1979 to 1990. I would be interested in trading for 1988 Mother’s Cookies #16.