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.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

1981 Topps Tom Herr


The front: Nice spring training shot, with a chain link fence and some indeterminable activity in the background providing some visual interest.

The back: Herr scored the walk-off winning run on a sacrifice fly by Garry Templeton off of future Hall-of-Famer Bruce Sutter. But the big news that day was Lou Brock getting his 3,000th hit.

The player: Herr is listed as a shortstop on this card, but he was primarily a second baseman. He played 14 games at SS, 58 at 2B. He would only play SS for two more games in his career, both in 1988. On his 1979 rookie card, Topps got his position right. In 1982 they called him a third baseman. Herr never played third base in the major leagues until three games in his final season, 1991. As a second baseman Herr was a key member of the great Cardinals teams of the 1980. Like most of those Redbirds he was more of a speed/defense guy than a big hitter. In 1985, batting behind Vince Coleman, he hit .302 with just 8 HR but 110 RBI. In 1988 he was traded to Minnesota for slugger Tom Brunansky, a surprising trade at the time. He ended his career with brief stints for the Phillies, Mets and Giants. Overall in 1,514 games he hit .271 with 28 HR, 574 RBI and 188 SB. This May he was elected to the Cardinals Hall of Fame.

The man: After his retirement he was a minor league manager for a while, and also had a wine-rack business. He is now retired.

My collection: I have 73 of his cards, from 1980 to 1991. I would be interested in trading for 1986 Drake's #21.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Shiny and more shiny

 I picked some more of A Cracked Bat's generous pockets and got a dazzling array of cards. These are mostly Yankees, but all have shiny elements. Some days I'm into dirty old vintage cards; some days I like dazzling new cards that shift color at every angle.

These car could fit into two categories. Shiny . . . 

And more shiny! My favorite is the 2020 Prizm Gio Urshela. I don't know if that is a parallel or base card (my Panini knowledge is quite limited) but it caught my eye immediately and I think it's fantastic.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Cardboard cousins: '62 Topps/'11 Topps Heritage Minors

I have a lot of 2011 Topps Heritage Minors - not the big stars but all the commons people get rid of when trying to pull Trout, Harper, Machado, etc. I was able to make a couple of links to my '62 cards.

#162 Hot Corner Guardians. I'm sure it's a coincidence but at least they paired it with a third baseman. Francisco Martinez played eight seasons in the minor but never reached above AA.

#188 I just liked that two middle infielders got matched up with interesting fielding poses. Chuck Hiller played eight years in the major and is best known for a grand slam in the 1962 World Series. Tony Wolters converted to catching and has been in the majors with the Rockies since 2016.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Cards and Vintage Things: May 20, 1956

 Kaplan's Deli was a dining institution in Chicago for much of the 20th century. Apparently they held a Food-A-Rama in Sioux Falls, Iowa on May 20, 1956 and printed matchbooks for the occasion. The biggest news of the day was the US conducting the first ever air drop of a hydrogen bomb, at Bikini Atoll. 

May 20, 1956 was a bad day for baseball for the Upper Midwest teams. (Actually, except for the Braves and to some extent the White Sox, it was a bad decade for major league teams in the region). The KC A's and Milwaukee Braves all lost, and both Chicago teams dropped doubleheaders. So the "honor" of having a card pictured with the matchbook goes to Jim King, who homered off of Hall of Famer Don Drysdale today. King is largely forgotten today, but he was a pretty good slugger for some bad Cubs and Senators teams in the late 1950s and the 1960s.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Vintage Backgrounds: Yankee Stadium, old and new

 Through the magic of airbrushing, Gene Tenace appears on his 1977 Topps card in a Padres uniform in the old Yankee Stadium, which had not been used since the 1973 season. 

1976 was the first season of the new Yankee Stadium, which can be seen on many cards in the set, like this one of Von Joshua. Obviously nobody at Topps thought the Marlboro sign clearly seen in the background was a problem here . . .
. . . but for some reason it was a problem on Jack Brohamer's card, as someone at Topps used a black marker to cover up the Marlboro sign. I know I have a lot of marked up cards but this is what all the '77 Brohamers look like. 
This is not the only case where someone at Topps marked up a background sign. Stay tuned . . . 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

1981 Topps John Candelaria

The front: There are not too many cards of the Candy Man with a beard. I am guessing this is a between-innings warmup pitch as several fans are not looking at the field. This is Shea Stadium, making this July 10, 1980 a Thursday afternoon game that lasted two hours and 11 minutes. Candelaria was outdueled by Pat Zachry 2-0, done in by a Lee Mazzilli home run in the third inning.

The back: The Baseball Bulletin may have called Candelaria their 1977 NL Pitcher of the Year, but he was only fifth in the Cy Young voting, behind Steve Carlton, Tommy John, Rick Reuschel and Tom Seaver.

The player: Candelaria had several excellent seasons for the Pirates in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Highlights included a no-hitter in 1976, 20 wins in 1977, and winning Game 6 of the 1977 World Series. After being traded to the Angels in 1985, he pitched for eight teams in eight years with varying degrees of success. Overall, in 19 seasons he went 177-122 with a 3.33 ERA.

The man: During his career Candelaria was often a problem personality, with three DUI arrests and numerous conflicts with managers and other players. Since his career ended, however, he seems to have kept a low profile.

My collection: I have 74 of his cards, from 1976 to 1993. I would be interested in trading for 1989 Sportflics #202.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Card board cousins: 1969/1990 rookies

 The 1990 Baseball Card Magazine set uses the 1969 Topps design. Kirby Puckett and Zoilo Versalles match up so I thought I had an easy post - two Twins MVPs. But it turns out Kirby never won an MVP! So instead I'm doing these two cards that match up pretty well, rookie cards at #31. The photos match up pretty well. Each card has one guy who went on to a long career. The BCM card actually has an error - the back says Expos Rookie Stars, not Cardinals Rookie Stars.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Cards and Vintage Things: The Matchbook Dating Game

 Stealing a title concept from Nine Pockets. Or I could have stolen Baseball Card Breakdown's Ignorable Filler Post as my matchbook posts don't generate much interest. But the latest matchbook lot I bought gave me an idea for a new series that may make them more interesting. Or less.

I actually bought three different lots from one eBay seller.

One lot was Matchoramas. These are oversized matchbooks (30- or 40-strike books) from the 1960s and 1970s with full-color photography. This lot was all hotels. I love the ones with the interiors, it really feels like stepping into a 1960s hotel room.

Another lot was of various New York State matchbooks. Some fun Long Island ones there including a long-gone strip club from a town right near me. Also I wonder if a certain Watertown-based reader might know the Crystal Restaurant. Note the four digit phone number!

But the big draw was several "dated" lots. Unlike baseball cards matchbooks are rarely dated; often it is hard to guess even what decade it is from. Every matchbook in this lot had at least a year, if not an actual date. These ranged from the 1930s to the 1980s, with most in the 1960s. Some highlights: my first Horn & Hardart (Automat restaurants) matchbook; a shiny matchbook from 1942, 1967 and 1969 calendars, an old Bell telephone matchbook, local supermarket ShopRite and the Garden City Fire Department, and a Coca-Cola 100th anniversary.
The dated matchbooks also gave me an idea for this blog. I thought it would be fun to pair up matchbooks with a specific date during the baseball season with the local player who had the best game that day.
To start off, here is a matchbook that sort of fits in. This matchbook from O'Brien's Restaurant in Waverly, NY was not printed with a date but someone stamped the back "August 2, 1963". August 2, 1963 was a light news day; headlines were primarily about reactions to the Nuclear Test Ban and some civil rights protests in Alabama. Waverly is on the NY/Pennsylvania border about halfway between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. On that date the Phillies, Pirates and Yankees all lost. The only "local" team to win was the Mets, who won 3-1 in 11 innings in Milwaukee. I don't have a card of Joe Hicks, who got the game-winning hit, but perhaps more impressive was Galen Cisco, who pitched ten innings without allowing an earned run to get the victory.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Baseball card stories from Shawn Tolleson

 Shawn Tolleson pitched for the Dodgers and Rangers from 2012 to 2016. His best season was 2015 when he went 6-4 with 35 saves and a 2.99 ERA for the Rangers. Now the owner of Tolleson Health Advisors, which provides a variety of health and wellness services, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards. 

- Do you have any stories about cards of yourself or of other players?
At all of the autograph signings that I have been a part of, the most popular card of mine seems to be on where Rougned Odor is dumping a cooler of red Powerade on me.  You don't even see my face in the card!  My friends always give me a hard time that the most popular baseball card I have of myself is really a Rougned Odor card!

- Do you have a favorite card of yourself or of another player?
My favorite baseball card of all time is a Mark McGwire rookie card.  There used to be a baseball card shop in my hometown of Allen, Texas.  It was next door to Cici's Pizza, where we would eat often as a family or after baseball games.  Every time we went, I would finish my pizza and walk next door to browse the cards.  The Mark McGwire rookie card was in the glass case and I wanted it so bad.  It was $15.00.  I remember that vividly.  I can remember working to save up my money to buy it.  My dad was a veterinarian and he payed me $2.00/hour to clean the cages and kennels.  I worked 30 hours to save up the money!  My biggest regret was not having Mark McGwire sign it when I had the opportunity when we were both with the Dodgers, you can say that I was a little shy.  Shoulda, coulda, woulda.
- Do you collect baseball cards?

I don't collect them anymore, but I do have thousands of them.  I recently went and got them from my childhood home so that my two boys (5 and 3) can start the hobby.  I forgot how many Michael Jordan cards I had!  I also have 3 boxes of unopened Topps cards from 1988, 1990, and 1992.  That has been fun to go through, but the gum is not so good anymore! Haha.


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Vintage backgrounds: Tampa Stadium

 In 1966 Tampa Stadium was constructed right next to the Reds' spring training site of Al Lopez Field. In 1974-75 the stadium was significantly enlarged to accommodate the NFL's expansion Buccaneers. The Buccaneers now play at Raymond James Stadium, constructed in the location of the old Al Lopez Field. You can see a great view of the then-newly-expanded Tampa Stadium just past the Al Lopez left field wall on this 1977 Topps Doug Flynn card.

Monday, September 14, 2020

1981 Topps Jim Norris

The front: Simple spring training headshot.

The back: Norris's diving catch of a line drive by the Angels' Tony Solaita with two outs in the ninth inning saved the game for the Indians.

The player: The best baseball player to come out of Seaford, Long Island, Jim Norris played for the Indians and Rangers from 1977 to 1980. In 489 major league games he hit .264 with 7 HR, 110 RBI and 59 SB.

The man: Norris seems to have kept a very low profile during and after his playing career.

My collection: I have six of his cards, from 1978 to 1981. I would be interested in trading for 1975 Oklahoma City 89ers #17.

Cardboard cousins: '71 Topps/'20 Heritage.

 I only have nine cards from this year's Heritage set. That doesn't mean I'm in a rush to get more - that set, like Gypsy Queen, Archives, and Allen and Ginter, I seem to mostly pick up through blogger giveaways or random collection acquisitions. For eight of those cards I had a match in '71 Topps (still need '71 Topps #1). These two stood out:

#26 star pitchers. I guess Quintana isn't really as big a star as he used to be - seems to have struggled more with the Cubs. Still, couldn't pass up squeezing in a HOF rookie card.

#247 Royals rookies. I have no idea why Topps couldn't keep the colors the same. Too soon to tell if either Staumont or Starling will become a Royals star like Paul Splittorff. Looks like Staumont is having a nice season out of the bullpen though.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Cards and vintage things: Tricky Dick and the Swingin' A's

 My Don and Chris Old Stuff order had a lot of Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP) material. I'm guessing they produced a lot more stuff than they ended up using. I picked up this and another flyer (I'll show it in another post) not for any love of Nixon, but just because I thought it was cool to have something that was supposed to be posted up on telephone poles or something and then thrown out almost 50 years ago, but still survived.

According to the daily Presidential diary, Nixon arrived in Warren,OH (about an hour outside of Cleveland) at 5:20, so the crowd must have been waiting for a long time. It appears this was actually a motorcade that traveled through several Ohio towns. The President and First Lady stopped briefly at the courthouse to greet some members of the crowd, before moving on to Youngstown.

This motorcade took place about a week after the Oakland A's won their first World Series since they were in Philadelphia in 1930. Two Cleveland natives were on that team - Sal Bando and Mike Hegan. They presumably were not at the event but likely were aware of it. Bando and several other A's had actually already met Nixon, at an August 1971 White House event during Vida Blue's historic run.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Vintage backgrounds: Under the bridge

 I was intrigued by this card of Rick Manning, in Cleveland's infamous all-red uniform, seemingly taking a swing while under a bridge. I think this is a spring training ball park but I don't know where. Any ideas?

Thursday, September 10, 2020

1981 Topps Brian Downing

The front: Here you get a pretty good look at Downing's stance, one of the more unusual ones in baseball. Downing had a very open stance where he almost faced the pitcher, much like Tony Batista in more recent years. Looks like Yankee Stadium, which would make this September 7, 1980, when Downing went 0-for-3 in a 4-1 loss to the Yankees. That would be Rick Cerone's mitt peeking behind Downing.

The back: That .326 average is not even on the top 10 list in Angels history any more. Darin Erstad's .335 average in 2000 is the team's record. Nine different players are in the team's top 10 list for single season batting average. None are named Mike Trout. (Trout's rookie-season .326 average in 2012 is his career high).

The player: Downing was a catcher for the White Sox and Angels in the 1970s. He saved his career by adapting the wide-open batting stance which helped him become a .326 hitter in '79 and a perennial 20-HR threat. A broken ankle in 1980 led him to play in just 30 games that year and switch to the outfield. Downing last played in the field in 1987 but remained a regular DH for the Angels, and then the Rangers, through 1992. In 2,344 games he hit .267 with 275 HR and 1,073 RBI. He had a keen batting eye, walking more times in his career than he struck out (1,197-1,127).

The man: Downing kept a low profile after his playing career, moving to a small town in Texas and distancing himself from baseball. According a to a 2012 article from the Angels Win blog, Downing felt disrespected by the Angels, leading to his post-career bitterness. According to the comments on that post, Downing was either one of the classiest, nicest players in the game or a jerk who would loudly yell at his wife in public.

My collection: I have 74 of his cards, from 1974 to 1992. I would be interested in trading for 1982 Fleer Stamps #215.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Cardboard cousins: '70 Topps/'19 Heritage

 I have a lot of '70 Topps (though few stars or high numbers) but only a handful of '19 Heritage.

#224 Topps matched up pitchers from the Pilots/Brewers franchise.
#196 NL playoffs. Saved by the Belli was from the Dodger cards I got from Night Owl last week.
#117 Cubs outfielders
#114 Yankees shortstops
#98 Tigers outfielders
#82 Yankees backup catchers
#61 NL Batting Leaders. Two big stars and one OK guy, on both cards.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Cards and vintage things: Model Railroader

A couple of times a year we would take the kids to a model train show in our area. They like to look at the model cities, towns, countryside, etc. We go with my father-in-law who is a big train fan. They usually have stacks of train magazines and catalogs that are free to take on your way out.  The kids like to take some for art projects and such. The last time we were there, some time last year, I noticed some much older-looking magazines. My father-in-law and I split up what we could find. I ended up with four from 1948-1949, two from 1961 and one from 1973. I'm not really into model trains but it's always interesting to read anything from that era. 

Here are the four oldest ones with some cards of the most famous baseball player/model railroader, Joe DiMaggio. DiMaggio was a big fan of model trains and hosted a short-lived TV show for Lionel in 1950. He once appeared on the cover of a magazine called Model Builder with a train set. He was never on the cover of Model Railroader but here is a 2007 article about celebrity modelers which mentions him.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Vintage backgrounds: 1957 Topps Don Kaiser

 This was one of the cards I got recently from Cards as I See Them. It's an interesting background but I can't place it. It looks like there is a scoreboard on the right side of the card. Kaiser is wearing a road uniform so it is presumably one of the other seven NL parks in 1956. Most of the NL scoreboards were square. The only one that flared up on the sides like this one was the Polo Grounds. However the grandstand at the Polo Grounds was much closer to the scoreboard than most other parks and would have been more prominent here, I think. This one has me stumped. Any suggestions? 

1981 Topps Sammy Stewart

First off, RIP Lou Brock, baseball Hall of Famer who shared his thoughts on cards with this blog in 2012.

The front: I'm pretty sure this is Yankee Stadium. That would make this August 10, 1980. Stewart came into a 4-4 game in the sixth inning, and in the seventh allowed an RBI groundout to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead. Stewart was bailed out by Rick Dempsey and Eddie Murray, who got RBI hits in the top of the ninth to give the O's a 6-5 win.

The back: Stewart went to Owen High School in Swannanoa, NC.

The player: Stewart spent his ten year career (eight years in Baltimore) almost entirely in middle relief. In 359 games (25 starts) he went 59-48 with 45 saves and a 3.59 ERA.

The man: After his baseball career Stewart became addicted to crack, was arrested 26 times and spent several years in prison. He died of heart disease in 2018.

My collection: I have 32 of his cards, from 1979 to 1988. I would be interested in trading for 1984 All-Star Game Program Insert #NNO.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Wonderful vintage from Wax Pack Wonders

 It's hard to add a new regular trading buddy since I've just been doing PWEs since March. Wax Pack Wonders only started in April but we've already traded a few times. This time it was a vintage trade. As many of you know I don't really care about condition with vintage cards (or any cards, for that matter). For those of you who are, though - look into a trade with Jeff. These are some of the nicest conditioned vintage I've ever seen. Particularly the '63-'68 in the photo below - almost all look pack fresh, with the '63-'68 cards having four sharp corners. I've almost never seen that on a vintage card.

The back of the '66 Bobby Klaus has one of the strangest cartoons I've seen on a card. I'm not sure if it's supposed to be Bobby or his brother that's dressed like a woman.
(I know, it's supposed to be the mom. Mrs. Klaus, I guess. Doesn't really match with the way the caption is written, though.)