Thursday, December 30, 2021

Art on the back: 1964

In 1964 Topps hid their artwork behind a coating that needed to be scratched off with a nickel or dime. Most of my '64s are unscratched, or were scratched and have faded - not really sure how it worked, and how it would age after 57 years. Here is a typical example. Hard enough to see in person - can you see the sleeping Boston pitcher?

Others of my '64 even have heavy scratch marks visible on them. Perhaps kids used the wrong coin (why not a penny or a quarter?) or scratched too hard?

Still, a few of my '64s have cartoons that are pretty easy to see. Here are the most interesting of those that I have:

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Wood vs. Wood #76

Last time 1987 won, 5-0. Will 1962 come back this time? It's a battle of the Braves with a couple of nice looking cards.

Howie Bedell is almost under the bleachers as he poses for the photographer. He gets a 1962 Rookie star. He played almost all of his major league ball that year, hitting .196 in 58 games. A long-time minor leaguer, his only other major league stint was brief but memorable - he had nine plate appearances and one RBI for the Phillies in 1968. His RBI was a sacrifice fly off of Don Drysdale to end his record 58 2⁄3 consecutive scoreless innings streak. After his playing career ended in 1960 Bedell was a coach and front office executive well into the 1990s, winning World Series rings with the '80 Phillies, '85 Royals and '90 Reds. The 86-year-old Bedell is now retired and living in Pottstown, PA.

Rafael Ramirez gets a dynamic photo of a wild-looking follow-through on a swing at what appears to be a spring training game. Ramirez was the starting shortstop for the Braves for most of the 1980s. An All-Star in 1984, Ramirez was a glove-first middle-infielder with an OK bat. In 1,539 games for Atlanta and Houston, he hit .261 with 53 HR, 484 RBI and 112 SB. The 63-year-old Ramirez has kept a low profile since his playing career ended, presumably returning to his native Dominican Republic.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Good cards for the price

Lately I've acquired a few vintage lots that were right around my limit of $0.25 a card. For the first time in a long time I was able to get one well below that limit - 100 cards for $16 shipped. I think that's a blip, not a start of a trend, but it was nice to get even if I had 85 of the cards already.

Here are the cards I needed:

Claude Osteen brings me to needing just two non-high numbered commons for my '73 set (Glenn Borgmann and Cesar Cedeno). Got two high numbered needs as well.

1970 needs. The bottom four are high numbers. I still need most of the highs from this set.

1969 needs. Joe Pep and Merritt are high numbers. I love the red batting glove.

These were the reason I bid on this lot despite not needing most of the cards. 1960 team cards of the Braves and Yankees, these don't go for cheap, especially the Yankees card. Very hard to tell (I cheated and looked at a '59 team photo on line) but Mantle is second from left on top. The Braves card is even worse, you'd need a magnifying glass to see anything but Aaron is third from right on top.

On to the trade bait!

1973. These are in pretty good shape. Laboy is a high number.

1970. These are pretty good conditioned as well. I believe there are a couple of you who collect color-shift printing errors like the Jay Johnstone. Bottom row are high numbers.
'69s. These are definitely rougher but as always I'll trade you my better-conditioned copy. Bottom row are high numbers.
Last group. The '66 Boyer is in better shape than the '68s.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Hollywood bit players on baseball cards: Part 12

Today's bit player made his acting debut in a 1971 episode of Mission: Impossible, "The Catafalque". As the Captain of the Guards he did not get a speaking line, but nevertheless appears to have made an impression on Peter Graves and Lelsey Ann Warren.

Two years later he got a speaking role, though very briefly, as a pool waiter on the Partridge Family. If you haven't guessed who it is yet, the title of the episode, filmed in the Kings Island amusement park, is "I Left My Heart in Cincinnati".

It's Cincinnati Reds legend Johnny Bench! Here are my oldest and most recent Topps cards of him.

Bench played himself on TV numerous times, including appearances on Mr. Belvedere, Married . . . With Children, The Bad News Bears, and five appearances on Hee Haw.

Cards and vintage stuff: May 18, 1957

Saturday, May 18, 1957 was one of the slowest news days yet in this series. The biggest news stories were negotiations over tolls for the Suez Canal, and Armed Forces Day Parades in the US. In sports news, Bold Ruler, ridden by jockey Eddie Arcaro, won the Preakness.

Meanwhile, members of the Washington Board of Trade, the leading organization of DC businesses, were enjoying their 61st Annual Spring Outing, and T.D. "Tom" Lane of the Universal Match Corporation was there. The festivities for the event, held in Chesapeake Beach, MD, included a parade, entertainment, and a chicken dinner. Tom Lane, a WWI veteran who was a race car driver and flew in a flying circus in the 1920s and 1930s, was a longtime match salesman who was elected President of the Sales and Marketing Executives of Washington in 1964.

Meanwhile, at Griffith Stadium, the local nine were trounced by Cleveland, 8-1. Jim Busby had two hits, including a HR, and scored three runs in the rout.


Sunday, December 26, 2021

Vintage Backgrounds: 1972 Topps Boyhood Photos Joe Torre

One innovation in the '72 Topps set was "Boyhood Photos of the Stars". Joe Torre's card featured the future Yankee manager posing on a Brooklyn street.

Many articles about Torre say that he grew up in Marine Park, on the corner of East 34th Street and Avenue T, though none list the exact address. However, the neighborhood does look very similar to the one in Torre's photo.

Perhaps a car expert could identify the vehicle behind Joe. One article mentioned his father's Studebaker. It almost looks like it says Buick on the side. Old cars aren't my specialty, but perhaps someone else can ID it.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Does anyone have 1993 Fleer #307 Ken Griffey Jr. to trade?

It's been a few years since this has happened to me, but once again, a set I thought I had completed is missing a card. In the past when this has happened I've made a post like this and it's worked. Hoping someone has an extra to trade. Thanks!

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Kyle McGowin on baseball cards

Kyle McGowin has pitched for the Nationals since 2018. In 48 appearances (including 27 in 2021) he has gone 1-0 with 2 saves and a 5.98 ERA. He recently opened a baseball card store in West Palm Beach, FL, World Champion Sports Cards. He kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"I sadly only have minor league cards. Growing up I was a huge Tim Lincecum fan, so I tried to collect as much of him as I could.     

Til this day I still collect cards and opened up a card store 3 weeks ago!"


Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Wallet card at the Hoboken Bank for Savings

A couple of months ago I started a new job that is fully remote. That situation is great in a lot of ways but I do miss going into the city. The company I work for now does not even have a Manhattan office but they do have one in Hoboken, NJ. I'll rarely be going in but I did last week, and took a few walletcard photos along the way. (Hoboken is right on the other side of the Hudson River from Manhattan; a PATH train ride from Penn Station to Hoboken is much quicker than a subway ride to the Bronx or Brooklyn.)

The Hoboken Bank for Savings on Washington Avenue was built in 1929 (the bank was established in 1857). In the 1970s it became Washington Savings Bank, and through a series of mergers ended up belonging to TD Bank before closing this branch, which is now a Walgreens.

A Hoboken bonus: Not really worth it's own post, but I wanted to include the old enamel street signs on many buildings in Hoboken. They used to be all over NYC too but have been gone since the 1950s; I've done Wallet Card posts on them in the past. Cool to see them still in use here. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

1981 Topps Matt Keough


The front: Keough delivers a pitch at Yankee Stadium. This would be June 22, 1980, when Keough pitched a complete game victory over the Yankees, one of Keough's 20 complete games that year. 

The back: Dad Marty played for six teams, mostly the Red Sox and Reds, from 1956 to 1966. Uncle Joe played for three teams, mostly the Royals, from 1968 to 1973. 

The player: Keough had a rough 1979 (2-17, 5.04 ERA). In 1980 Billy Martin came to the A's and Keough was one of several pitchers who saw immediate, if brief, improvements, going 16-13 with a 2.92 ERA. By 1982, the heavy workload Martin had instituted had worn down Keough and his teammates, and he led the AL in losses. The following season he was traded to the Yankees, and had stints with the Cardinals, Cubs and Astros in 1985 and 1986. After four seasons in Japan he attempted a comeback with the Angels, but retired after being hit in the head by a foul ball while sitting in the dugout in spring training.

The man: Keough was a scout and executive during the 1990s and early 2000s. Multiple DUI convictions led him to be sentenced to a year in jail in 2010. He was also famous for appearances on Real Housewives of Orange County. He died in 2020.

My collection: I have 17 of his cards, from 1978 to 1984. I would be interested in trading for 1982 Fleer Stamps #129.

Monday, December 20, 2021

1986 Sportflics Decade Greats Jackie Robinson


The player: By the numbers, Jackie Robinson was an excellent player with impressive achievements for someone who didn't play their first full major league season until the age of 28. In 1,416 games, he hit .313 with 286 doubles, 55 triples and 141 HR, mostly as a second baseman, in an era when most middle infielders were not good hitters, and especially did not hit for power. His best season was his MVP year of 1949, when he led the NL with a .324 batting average and drove in 124 runs. Impressively, he walked 756 times while only striking out 291 times. Like most Brooklyn Dodgers he struggled in October, however. In six World Series, all against the Yankees, Robinson hit just .234 with 2 HR and 12 RBI. By the time the Dodgers finally won a series near the end of Robinson's career in 1955, he was benched for Game Seven after hitting .182 over the first six games.

The man: As impressive as Robinson's numbers were, they barely cover the importance of the man. No single player, not even Babe Ruth, was more important to the history of baseball, and the greater American society beyond. Early on, at Pasadena Junior College and in the US Army, he stood up to segregation and racism, enduring arrests and court-martials. Dodgers owner Branch Rickey, looking to integrate his team, and by extension the major leagues, saw Robinson as someone with both the skills to succeed on the field and the fortitude to endure with dignity the racist actions he would face. Robinson's success proved to many white Americans the folly of segregation, and the numerous instances of white players and league management supporting Robinson, were important examples of how integration could be achieved. Robinson remained a visible supporter of civil rights after his career, both by actions and by example. He was also the first Black vice president of a major American corporation, Chock Full O'Nuts, where he served as VP of Personnel (the NY-area coffee shop chain had a predominantly Black workforce). He left the company in 1964 to found Freedom National Bank in Harlem (the bank went out of business in 1990) and in 1966 became Special Assistant for Community Affairs to New York State Governor Nelson Rockefeller. (A supporter of Rockefeller and Nixon, Robinson stayed with the Republican Party well after most other notable civil rights activists left the party.) Robinson died at the age of 53 in 1952 of a heart attack after years of struggling with diabetes. His widow, Rachel Robinson, who will turn 100 years old in June, as been instrumental in keeping his legacy alive for the past 50 years.

My collection: I do not have any playing-days cards of Robinson. His last card as an active player was 1956 Topps #30.

A Year of Topps Designs: 1985

Seemed like an opportune time to cover this year. I have cards from all three major sports sets Topps issued that year:

The football set is a classic. With an action photo the card looks like a mini-poster. The baseball set is simple, but I like the team name on an angle, gives it a playful look. The hockey design is very bare-bones, with the only flair being the large curve where the team logo (and a lot of white space) resides.

The only other "sports" release was the WWF set, which I believe is considered an iconic set for wrestling fans. The design is simple but effective, with the caption "exploding" out at the reader.

1985 was a big year for non-sports at Topps, as they had cards covering many areas of mid-80's pop culture.

I was an eight year old in 1985 so I should have been in the prime demographic for this movie, but I don't remember Baby at all. The movie is a largely forgotten Disney flop about a "brontosaurus" found in modern-day Africa. Like many Topps movie sets, there is a simple design with an element that relates to the movie, in this case a ragged, wild look for a jungle movie.

I only very vaguely remember this movie. Another Disney flop (the mid-80's were not a strong point for them, movie-wise), Return to Oz was a modern-day "sequel" to Wizard of Oz. This was a sticker set with a variety of simple designs, or often no design at all.
1985 wasn't a great year for Disney, but it was a big year for Sylvester Stallone, who had two big-time sequels. Rocky IV had the boxer travel to Russia to fight Ivan Drago. The comic-book style boxing glove "punching" the border is pretty much the only visual interest in the design.

Rambo: First Blood Part II was the other big Stallone sequel of 1985. Topps basically took the Baby design, added some white to the border, and swapped out the Baby logo for a dynamic Rambo photo. It's a good look with the right photograph.

The other big movie set of '85 for Topps was Goonies. No movie logo for the design, but instead the border resembles the pirate treasure map central to the movie plot. Good creepy fun for kids of the 80's.

Topps didn't just make movie cards in 1985. They also put out two trading card sets for popular musical acts.

Cyndi Lauper was born in Brooklyn, grew up in Queens, ran away to Canada, came back and became a star. She sang the theme song for Goonies, and that video and several others featured Captain Lou Albano who is also in the WWF set. This set has a very MTV-inspired design which looks about as stereotypically 1985 as you can get.

The English band Duran Duran got a set as well in 1985, with a design that is a little more understated than Lauper's, but still pretty bold for a Topps non-sport design.

However, Topps's biggest hit of '85 came from a quite unexpected source. A gross-out parody of Cabbage Patch Kids, Garbage Pail Kids featured gross-out versions of the popular dolls. They were immensely popular at the time and can actually fetch some big bucks today. I loved these as a kid, but stuck them all to my bedroom wall and eventually threw them out. The design is pretty minimal, simply but effectively showcasing the art.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Baseball and cards, but not baseball cards

I picked up a rather fun lot on a whim. I found a seller who had eight Sports Illustrated from the late 60's and early '70s with a $0.99 opening bid. All had covers with Hall of Fame baseball players. Shipping was $13, but the seller had generous combined shipping, so I looked and found a large starter set of '85 Topps football. I always like the design but never had a lot of cards from the set. I put a bid on each and ended up with no competition, getting quite a haul for about $15.

Last time this blog ended up being "baseball magazines come to life" I got very few comments so I assume there isn't a ton of interest in these, but if people want I can share some highlights from the insides in a future post. Here's what I got.

1966 - Joe Morgan (and Sonny Jackson). 

1967 - Mickey Mantle (and Ken Berry)
1968 - Rookie prospects for the upcoming season. (Don Pepper, DET; John Bench, CIN; Alan Foster, LAD; Mike Torrez, STL; Cisco Carlos, WSX). Love the bullpen car!
1968 - Al Kaline with Denny McLain
1970 - Johnny Bench

1970 - Hank Aaron

1972 - Johnny Bench

1974 - Hank Aaron

As for the football cards, I ended up getting very nearly a complete set, missing just five cards, and as you can see almost all the big stars. The only cards I still need are 79 (Eric Dickerson), 80 (Henry Ellard), 251 (Warren Moon RC), 321 (Raymond Clayborn) and 334 (Andre Tippett).

Friday, December 17, 2021

'61 stamps

Got a nice little lot of '61 Topps Stamps for about $2 shipped. Always fun to get vintage, even little oddballs like these. A few notable names here, most notably Aparicio.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Vintage/modern lot

I took a small gamble on a little lot of vintage and modern cards. About 130 cards for about a dime each. I did OK.

This was one of those lots where they just take a photo of a loose pile of cards and you try to guess what is in there. The lot was about a quarter vintage, mostly 1970s with just a bit from the 1960s.

I knew the '63 Adcock would be in there. There were only two other 60's cards. I knew there would be a '68 card and it turned out to be one I needed. And there was a '65 in there too. Now that I know to look at the backs of any '65-'67's, I was rewarded by discovering an O-Pee-Chee!

I was less lucky with the 70's, all cards I had already. Still, there were in pretty good shape so will be good for trading.

Most of the lot was modern cards, and pretty good ones at that. Most of the cards I needed. They kind of fit into four categories.

Star cards from base sets. The Reggie from '82 Topps Traded I need; the rest I had already. After I took the photo I realized the '99 Lofton is a "Rediscover Topps". I don't collect those if anyone is interested in it.

Star cards from other types of sets (A&G, Heritage, etc). I rarely get Clemente cards so I was particularly happy to get this one.
Inserts. Some fun cards here.
Parallels. Lots of fun colors and variations.
Lots of shiny cards in this lot!

A few others I particularly enjoyed. I'm not much of a comic book guy and I never cared for Piazza but I like that card. The Ali/Norton flyer is a nice touch for the Yankee Stadium legacy set; imagine those posted all over NY in 1976. And the "Ballpark Heroes" is a nice idea, though the SUV in the background doesn't look like it comes from Cobb's era.