Thursday, December 31, 2020

Vintage backgrounds: Tony Gonzalez Redux

 Eagle-eyed readers might have noticed the '65 Tony Gonzalez among the cards I got recently from Johnny's Trading Spot, and that it was almost the same photo of the '66 Gonzalez card I wrote about, assuming the photo was from 1965. I guess I was wrong!

I suppose it is possible that Topps took a very similar photo two years in a row, but I have to assume that the two photos were taken in the same session, as his pose and location are so similar. They have to be at least a short time apart, however. The boy on the '66 card with the blue shirt, open with a white undershirt underneath, appears to have his back turned on the '65. The big difference is the row of men with straw hats on the '65, who are nowhere to be found on the '66. Perhaps the photo on the '66 was taken first, and the men took their seats before the photo on the '65 was taken.
#22 was still John Herrnstein in 1964, so that would still be him in the dugout.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Wallet Card at W.T. Grant's

 W.T. Grant was a national chain of department stores, originally founded in 1906 in Lynn, Massachusetts. At it's height the chain had 1,200 locations, but changes in the economy, internal mismanagement, and a failure to keep up with competitors' innovations led to the company's bankruptcy in 1976, at the time the second-largest in US history. The W.T. Grant in Freeport, NY opened in 1950 and closed in 1975.  Though the store closed 45 years ago (the location is now Chubbuck's Farmacia Hispana), the Grant's name can still be seen all over the front entrance.

A '52 Bowman

 One of the better cards I got in the Cracked Bat Ballot Box was an '87 Donruss Rookies Bo Jackson. I already had the card so I traded it to Penny Sleeve for your Thoughts. In return Jon sent me this great card, a '52 Bowman of Cubs knuckleballer Willard Ramsdell. It's a beautiful card. I think the artist was making up a ballpark as I couldn't find any indication that there was an NL park with a 414 foot dimension, but perhaps I am wrong.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

1981 Topps Bob Knepper


The front: Quite a dynamic action photo at Shea Stadium. This game would be June 15, 1980, Knepper's best start of the season. He pitched his only shutout of the year, a 3-0 whitewash of the Mets, striking out seven while walking just one. 

The back: Knepper's high school heroics came for the Calistoga (CA) Wildcats.

The player: During his fifteen year career for the Giants and Astros, Knepper was either quite good or very bad. He had some solid seasons in the late 70s for the Giants and mid-80s for the Astros, but had some real stinkers too. Overall the numbers balanced out to a 146-155 record and a 3.68 ERA.

The man: Knepper is best-known for his anti-women's rights and anti-LGBT attitude which surfaced after a spring training game umpired by Pam Postema. After the game he told reporters "God created women to be feminine. I don’t think they should be competing with men. It has nothing to do with her ability. I don’t think women should be in any position of leadership. I don’t think they should be presidents or politicians. I think women were created not in an inferior position, but in a role of submission to men. You can be a woman umpire if you want, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. You can be a homosexual if you want, but that doesn’t mean that’s right either."

My collection: I have 53 of his cards, from 1978 to 1990. I would be interested in trading for 1979 Hostess #52.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

1986 Sportflics Decade Greats Carl Hubbell


I couldn't find either of the "action" photos online, but if you do a Google image search on Carl Hubbell you will see lots of similar photos. He seemed to have one standard follow-through pose he used for most posed photography.

On-the-field trivia: Dick Kinsella was the sheriff of Sangamon County, IL and a part-time New York Giants scout who discovered Carl Hubbell while taking in a minor league game in Houston, where he was a delegate to the 1928 Democratic National Convention that nominated Al Smith to run for President. Other teams had been concerned about Hubbell's reliance on the screwball, a pitch known for taxing pitching arms, but the Giants had had success with screwballer Christy Mathewson and signed Hubbell. From 1933 to 1937 Hubbell was the best pitcher in the National League, winning over 20 games each season and winning three ERA crowns. The screwball began taking a toll on his arm by 1939, however, and for the next three years he was a good, but not great, pitcher. He is best known for striking out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin in the 1934 All-Star Game.

Off-the-field trivia: Hubbell retired after the 1943 season and became the Giants' Head of Player Development, a role he held through 1977. He remained a Giants scout until his death in 1988 at the age of 85, when he suffered a stroke while driving. At the time of his death he was one of the last New York Giants in organized baseball and the last who played under John McGraw. 

My collection: I do not have any playing-days cards of Hubbell. Hubbell's last solo card as a contemporary player was in the 1943 MP and Co. set.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Bingo Sweep

 I managed to score a complete sweep of Bingo last month at Johnny's Trading Spot. Easy to do when you are the only one who shows up! I don't know if Johnny is going to do those games anymore but here is what you missed out on:

Starting out small with a '62 Post Vada Pinson and two 2020 Panini inserts. Yep, a '62 Post is part of staring out small.

Next up, some hand-selected vintage needs for my sets.
Now we get into the portion of the package that could be considered "things I'd never seen in person". Here is my first ever Sportscasters card. It's from 1978 and looks really great in person.
Maybe because it is written by "sportscasters" but the back is a whole lot more negative than you would find on a regular baseball cards. I don't know if this is just for Kingman or if the set as a whole tried to be a bit more objective than the usual praise-only baseball card.
Sub-par fielder and strikeout king sounds like most of the Yankees today. Actually most of MLB plays like Dave Kingman these days.

Finally, there was this mysterious box. Fortunately Johnny put a post-it on the box describing what it was so I knew not to just tear into it. Even before I saw the post-it I was intrigued by the mailing label, which clearly wasn't recent.
I carefully opened the box keeping the mailing label attached and intact. Fun oddball thing to add to my collection. You'll see why. Inside was this hand-sealed envelope.
What's inside the "Touch-N-Seal" envelope?
A complete set of 1982 Kelloggs cards! Apparently if you purchased the whole set from Kellogg at once, this is how you got the set, hand-sealed in an envelope, then sealed in the larger box. 
The envelope contained sheets of three cards. Over the past 38 years most had completely detached but some were all or partially attached, like this:
And some sheets had one card upside down, like these three which were still completely attached.
Last time I got Kelloggs, my dupes got snatched up very quickly. I only had four of the cards from this set already, so these are the only ones up for trade this time:

Friday, December 25, 2020

12/25 trade post with cards from Mr. 12/25

 I got cards in the mail yesterday from Baseball Card Breakdown, collector of cards that are numbered 12/25. How appropriate!

Some great vintage in here, especially the nice Yankee Stadium shot of Bobby Kennedy, who played third base for the Dodgers in the 1950s, no relation to the John Kennedy who played third base for the Dodgers in the sixties. Also the classic Michael Jordan card from 1991 Upper Deck that I had my eye on for a while, and finally a new card of Andy Pettitte. Great cards!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Cards from the latest Cards on Cards giveaway

Cards on Cards has been one of the most prolific at giving away cards. I decided to claim a Willis Tower  card from the 2020 Allen & Ginter Reach for the Sky insert set. My company's headquarters are in that building so I've been there a few times, so I thought it would be cool to have a card of it. I'd also be interested in trading for any of the cards of New York buildings in that set.

In addition I claimed a couple of shiny Bowman cards, and Kerry generously threw in a few 2020 Series Two needs. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Cardboard cousins: 1972 Topps/2013 Archives

 The 2013 Archives set had some cards in the '72 Topps design. I didn't have a lot of great matches; my best one is #24, I picked it mostly because of the somewhat similar poses.

#24 Ted Ford and Ben Zobrist. Zobrist broke in with the Rays in 2006. His first base coach, George Hendrick, was teammates with Ford on the '73 Indians.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Cards and vintage things: 1940 Spokane schedule

 I recently picked up a small lot of '30s and '40s matchbook covers. It was pretty cheap and you couldn't see most of the covers, but I noticed what looked like a baseball schedule on the back of one. I was right!

Bill & Harry Ulrich owned a restaurant in Spokane. Bill was also the owner of the city's affiliate in the Western International League, which would explain why there was a Spokane schedule inside. Notice there is no team name - more on that in a bit.

Here is the back with the schedule. There was no date on the matchbook, but this particular slate of teams for the WIL was only in 1940 and 1941, and the dates of the doubleheaders match up with Sundays in 1940.

Looking for a card to pair with the matchbook, I didn't have anything for the two members of the 1940 team who played in the majors (Mike Budnick and Smead Jolley). Two years earlier, when the team was the Spokane Hawks, Bill Rigney, who later had a long career in the MLB as a player and manager, made his pro debut. I paired it with Rigney's '67 Topps card which mentions his 1938 debut, though it doesn't mention the team. There are other Rigney cards which mention Spokane but I don't have them.

For some reason the Hawks changed to the Indians in 1940. I couldn't find a reason why; perhaps they were in the middle of the name change when the matchbook was produced which is perhaps why it just says "Spokane Baseball Schedule" inside. Unlike the Cleveland Baseball Club or Washington Football Club, however, the Spokane Indians, now a Rockies affiliate, has developed a positive affiliation with the Spokane Tribe, which the team website says is a "unique partnership in the world of professional sports". This includes the team's uniforms, which are not in English but in Salish, the native language of the Spokane Tribe.

Monday, December 21, 2020

1983 Fleer Stamps

 As you may know, I love all things early '80s Fleer, sets which had fun photography with lots of quirky character. While I have accumulated most of the 1982 Fleer Stamps I had never come across any of the '83s. Quite accidentally I discovered that you can pick up the whole set quite cheaply. The entire set came in four 72-stamp sheets and there are a lot of complete sets of the four sheets on eBay, that can be gotten for around $10 or so shipped. It's a great buy if you love these kinds of "cards", or PC a bunch of players from the early '80s.

The stamps are small, maybe a quarter the size of a standard baseball card. I'm keeping them intact in one of the plastic wrappers they came in.

Here are many highlights of the fun photography in this set:

Vintage backgrounds: A parking lot card

Wes Parker's 1967 Topps card may not have the most prominent parking-lot backgrounds, but it does have one of the most crowded, with a whole row of cars parked dangerously close to the first base line.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Wallet Card at Woolworth

 I've made very few trips outside of my town the last few months, so my wallet card hasn't had many opportunities to poke it's head out. However I needed to get my car inspected, which gave me the chance to walk around the Freeport shopping district for a couple of hours, and I was able to take a lot of wallet card photos. Freeport is a town that was once prosperous but has seen hard times for the past few decades, meaning that there are lots of old stores that have never been thoroughly remodeled like you see elsewhere. I was able to find quite a bit of old signage peeking out.

There was a Woolworth location in Freeport from at least the 1920s to the early 1980s. There is still a ghost sign on the side of the building, though it is pretty faded. I found that the closer I got, the harder it was to see. If you peer closely you can just make out WOOLWORTH.

As I walked along the side of the building, I could find another bit of an old Woolworth sign. Both of these signs would have been at the back of the store which took up a full block.

Friday, December 18, 2020

1981 Topps Rick Sofield


The front: Looks like Yankee Stadium. Sofield is staring up into the right field grandstand? Or admiring the Yankee Stadium facade (over the scoreboard in this incarnation of Yankee Stadium)? Maybe his teammate is telling stories about just how far Mickey Mantle hit a ball. Or maybe Josh Gibson - with this week's news about the Negro Leagues we can now say there has been a major leaguer who hit a ball all the way out of Yankee Stadium.

The back: Sofield's four singles were not enough as the Twins fell to California, 11-6.

The player: Outfielder Rick Sofield played for the Twins from 1979 to 1981. In 207 games he hit .243 with 9 HR and 66 RBI.

The man: Sofield has coached high school and college baseball teams, as well as in the Pirates organization for several seasons. 

My collection: I have six of his cards, from 1979 to 1982. I would be interested in trading for 1982 TCMA Toledo Mud Hens #21.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

1986 Sportflics Decade Greats Al Simmons


All three photos came out pretty well here. The one of Simmons swinging is pretty well-known; it was even a Sports Illustrated cover in 1996 (article about the '29 A's).

On-the-field trivia: Simmons's career peaked with the A's three pennant winning seasons of 1929 (.365, 34 HR, 157 RBI), 1930 (.381, 36, 165) and 1931 (.390, 22, 128). Those are some eye-popping numbers in any era. After nine phenomenal seasons in Philly, he was sold to the White Sox in one of the A's depression-era salary dumps; at the age of 32 it actually wasn't a bad move; Simmons was good but never great again in his last 11 seasons with the White Sox, Tigers, Senators, Braves, Reds, A's (again), Red Sox and A's (again again). 

Off-the-field trivia: Al Szymanski changed his name in the minor leagues when he got tired of people mispronouncing it, supposedly after seeing a sign for Simmons Hardware. After his career he coached for the A's and Indians. He died of a presumed heart attack at 54 years old in 1956.

My collection: I do not have any playing-days cards of Simmons. Simmons's last solo card as a contemporary player was in the 1939 Goudey Premiums set.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Cardboard Cousins: A couple of Joes

 2012 was the first year of Topps Archives, yet another set which puts current players in older card designs. This set had a lot of '71s. The best match among my collection is these two Joe's. Mauer was the better player, but Pepitone was more famous. Mauer was the better overall hitter (the rare catcher with a lifetime batting average over .300) but Pep had more pop (219 HR to Mauer's 143). Both were good fielders who each won three Gold Gloves at their position.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Back to Black

 Thanks to reader Jimetal7212 who answered the mystery re the Team TSC foil variations. "There not variations in the truest sense of the normal use. Stadium Club used roll on rainbow foil during this release so depending on where the card laid on the sheet it may have received different foil treatments. Because of this randomness and non-repeating nature any version is a base version. "Variations" in foil type are like this throughout the set and no premium for any type of foil."

One set that certainly didn't need foil is the 1971 Topps set. I recently got a few set needs from Bucky75

My favorites are Frank Hernandez and Felipe Alou taking hacks at the old Yankee Stadium. Those two cards go really well together. You can even see the same fan sitting a couple of seats to the left of the dugout pillar, so you know it's the same game. I know I'm in the extreme minority here, but I also really like the yellow uniforms!

Monday, December 14, 2020

A 1996 Stadium Club mystery

 When going through my cards from The Best Bubble, I noticed two different versions of Bernie Williams's 1996 Stadium Club "Team TSC" subset card, one with red foil and one with blue.

I looked in my Beckett almanac and on the internet, and could find no information on a parallel set. The blog Fan of Reds noted this same thing for a Barry Larkin card, but that's about it.

The TSC subset is about 100 cards in the 1996 Stadium Club set, and is somewhat short-printed compared to the rest of the set. I also have multiple copies of John Smiley's card, and when I checked my trade box I found that my two copies were also a red and a blue:
I have 30 cards in the Team TSC subset. Here they are. I counted 15 blue and 14 red. 
15 plus 14 is 29 and I said 30. That's because Kenny Lofton had to be different:
Yep, apparently there are gold foil versions too! Regular base cards in this set have gold foil, and there was apparently a silver foil parallel set that could only be purchase in complete set form. I have no idea if that is from this or something else.

Any information on these variations would be greatly appreciated! Unless someone knows of these being intentional parallels, I am inclined to chalk these up to printing varieties - maybe Topps ran out of a color at some point.