Monday, October 25, 2021

A Year of Topps Designs: 1970

 Topps entered the 1970s with some pretty conservative designs. Muted colors were given to both baseball and football. The baseball design was as simplistic as you could get; football at least had a football and a banner for a little interest.

Hockey was pretty similar to football,highly simple card except for a stick and a puck. The stick is big enough to make the design stand out a little more.

The basketball design, in the "tall boy" style, was much more interesting than the other sports.

The major news event of 1969, the moon landing, was commemorated by Topps in a trading card set. It features full bleed photography, matched with a serious, textbook-like caption and a silly "Man on the Moon" logo.

Way out wheels featured 36 creations by custom hot rod creator George Barris, using an old-timey western-style design.
Other Topps sets issued in 1970 were a "flags of the world" set which just had a flag on a black background, and a Bazooka Joe set with comic strip reprints.

Hollywood bit players on baseball cards: Part 8

Today's actor appeared in the 1970 Jerry Lewis film Which Way to the Front, a World War Two satire generally considered one of Lewis's worst films. He plays a character named Lincoln, driving the jeep in the photo below.

He had a brief career in movies, but a long one in baseball. A fantastic fielder and excellent hitter, Davis had 2,561 hits, including 182 HR, in his eighteen year career, mostly with the Dodgers. He had several baseball-related TV guest appearances, including episodes of The Flying Nun and Mr. Ed.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Art on the back: 1960 Topps

Cartoons got a smaller space on the back of 1960 Topps, and the artwork was a bit less interesting than previous years, with kind of a generic theme. Here is a typical example, notable only for the misspelling of the name of one of the Alou brothers.

There were a few themes that were repeated often; a player doing well would show a frustrated opposing batter or pitcher; a player getting traded had the former team's mascot looking sad; a player with a hobby was shown doing that hobby in their baseball uniform, etc. Players with college experience continued to be a novelty; here are a couple of the stronger examples of this theme:

Some of the more interesting cartoons had a war related theme. The Gene Freese one is particularly odd, even more so considering that the trade appears to have been December 8 according to newspaper accounts, and is December 9 in Baseball Reference. Still, I think I will consider December 7 to be Gene Freese Day rather than Pearl Harbor Day from now on.

Finally, a few more cartoons with a science-fiction theme.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Cards and vintage stuff: July 14, 1954

The big news on July 14, 1954 was a heat wave that was sweeping the U.S., most notably in St. Louis, where the high of 115 degrees is still the record. Elsewhere, diplomatic discussions regarding the future of Indochina were being held in Geneva.

In baseball, there was only one game played on the day after the All Star Game, a reschedule from a rainout. in Milwaukee, the Brooklyn Dodgers squeezed out a 2-1 win in 12 innings. The winning run came on a sacrifice fly by Duke Snider, scoring Jim Gilliam.

Meanwhile, in Millersport, NY, at Cook's Paradise Grove, The Peter J. Schmitt Company, one of the nation's largest grocery wholesalers, held a retailer's picnic. The Buffalo-based company was founded in 1927 and grew to be one of the top 20 in the United States before being sold in 1988.


Thursday, October 21, 2021

Vintage backgrounds: 1970 Topps Frank Quilici

This is definitely one of the strangest photos on a vintage baseball card. There's the Twins' "Mr. Everything", Frank Quilici, posing in front of a batting cage in spring training. Behind him on the right side of the card is fellow infielder Cesar Tovar. And behind him on the left side of the card is . . . a guy in a towel, shower shoes and nothing else! How did this make it on a card? I'm kind of surprised that more people haven't noticed it; a Google search produces a post on the When Topps Had Balls blog but nothing else. Maybe everyone who sees it pretends they didn't see anything?



Wednesday, October 20, 2021

High-end low-end lot

I bought another "low grade" lot for just over a quarter a card. Unlike my last few lots, the cards here ended up being in quite good shape. This seems to be the case of a guy who mostly sells modern cards not really understanding how bad older cards can get. And while there were very few Hall-of-Famers in this lot, most of these were pretty well known stars.

The oldest cards in the lot were from '59 Topps, and '60 Leaf and Topps. Only my second and third from '60 Leaf. Yankee fans remember Frank Torre fondly from the '96 season.

'61 and '62. Six players who are not in the Hall but all of whom are an important part of the history of baseball in this era.
Mid-60s, highlighted by young Mel Stottlemyre.
Jumping to the most recent cards in the lot. The '69s and '72s are all semi-high-numbered cards, and except for maybe Money, are all pretty big names. The '73 Garvey is one I've seen on a bunch of blogs, glad to finally own one.

Trade bait! And they are all in pretty good shape, some in very good condition. Some big names in that bottom row.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Wallet card with four vintage soda signs

Hillside Beer & Soda, just inside the Queens border in Floral Park, NY, has the most vintage soda signs I've seen on one establishment. They are in varying degrees of weathering, but you can see Pepsi, RC Cola, Diet-Rite and 7-Up. (The painted sign underneath, now partially obscured, says ICE CUBES.)

That Pepsi sign is pretty faded (those signs face west), but this one facing north is doing much better. I do love those yellow-bordered Pepsi signs!

1981 Topps Bob Bailor


The front: Happy guy at spring training.

The back: Bailor and Galasso had the two best MLB careers for players born in Connellsville, PA. Another teammate of theirs, Roger Miller, pitched briefly in the majors for the Brewers.

The player: An original Blue Jay, Bob Bailor was a decent utilityman between 1975 and 1985, also spending time with the Orioles, Mets and Dodgers. In 954 games he hit .264 with 9 HR, 222 RBI and 90 SB.

The man: He was a coach with the Blue Jays for many years, and was the only member of the original Blue Jays to win a World Series ring with the team in 1992 and 1993. As the first base coach, he was the first man to shake Joe Carter’s hand after his Series-winning home run. He is now retired and spends his time hunting and fishing.

My collection: I have 24 of his cards, from 1976 to 1986. I would be interested in trading for 1977 O-Pee-Chee #48.

Monday, October 18, 2021

1986 Sportflics Decade Greats Johnny Mize/Joe Gordon/George Kell


Johnny Mize: Four time NL HR champion, twice with the Cardinals and twice with the Giants. He lost the prime of his career to WWII, but came back to be a key member of the Yankees' bench; he played for the Yankees in five seasons, 1949-1953, and won the World Series each year. His ninth-inning, bases loaded single won Game 3 of the 1949 World Series. After his career he coached and worked in real estate. I don't have any of his cards from his playing days; his last card as an active player was 1953 Topps #77.

Joe Gordon: The best defensive second baseman of his era, Gordon also had excellent power for a middle infielder of his era; his 246 HR are second all-time for a second baseman, hitting over 20 in seven of his 11 seasons. He took over for Tony Lazzeri in 1938 and helped the Yankees to five pennants in six years, winning the AL MVP in 1942. After an injury-plagued 1946, the Yankees traded Gordon to Cleveland for Allie Reynolds, a blockbuster deal that helped both clubs, as Gordon recovered to have a career year in 1948 to help the Indians win the pennant. After his career he managed and worked in real estate. I don't have any of his cards from his playing days; his last card as an active player was1950 Bowman #129.

George Kell: One of the finest third baseman in the American League, Kell played fifteen seasons for five teams, primarily the Tigers. He won the batting title in 1949 and hit .306 for his career. After his playing career, he was a long-time announcer for the Tigers. I don't have any of his cards from his playing days; his last card as an active player was1958 Topps #40.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Wonders from the minor and major leagues

I got two jam-packed PWEs in a recent trade with Wax Pack Wonders. Most of these cards fit the theme of my recent minor league card acquisitions.

The bulk of the trade was about 20 cards from the 1990 Best set. Yes, that is a high school behind Jeff Plympton; Beehive Field was located next to New Britain High School. It's a beautiful set, where the photography is emphasized by the card design where none of the cards have borders.

Would you believe, most of the cards don't have borders?

Spelling player's names was not a strength of the Best staff though. Future major leaguers Hurst, Voigt and Zupcic get error cards here. ZVPCIC is my favorite.

But the biggest mangling of a name in this lot was a 1981 TCMA of future big leaguer Jim Pankovits.

Here's the rest of the minor league cards. My favorite is the '77 TCMA Bob Weismiller, another "backyard" shot.

There were a few vintage cards in Jeff's PWEs too, with a '59 Reds team card, a '61 Fleer Joe Medwick, and a '75 OPC with a cartoon featuring Le Coq Rouge.
As usual, Jeff used some vintage stamps; these being from the 1980 Winter Olympics.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Big generous package from Cards on Cards

I got a huge box of cards from the Cards on Cards spring cleaning 2021 (which is still going on, check out the link on his blog. I asked for Yankees, Cardinals and some miscellaneous, and he sent back over 600 really nice cards. He has nicer cards to give away then many people do to trade. (Fortunately I do have some vintage Cardinals for him.)

This may be my favorite card in the box. I should really put together a want list for 1998 Metal, it's such a great looking set and I don't have much from it. Love the lower Manhattan, pre-9/11 skyline here. I kind of miss commuting to the city. Once the pandemic hit I switched to working from home. Today is actually my last day at the company I've been with for the past 20 years; later this month I'm starting a new job, fully remote, for a company that doesn't even have any office space in New York.

Here's a kind of silly card from Topps Archives. A "parade" of one. The original had Bo Belinsky, certainly a colorful character worthy of a modern card. And I'm sure it would have been nice for Dan Pfister, Joe Bonikowski and Dave Stenhouse to be included too. Real '62 Rookie Parades are tough to acquire; I don't have any of my own yet.

Here's another modern headscratcher. What's with the yellow and black Yankee logo? They didn't have logos like that in the real '58 set. Maybe Topps confused the Yankees with the Steelers.
I'm not a big fan of bat flips but I don't hate them either. So far I haven't watched one pitch of the postseason. I wanted to avoid the hype of the Boston game, and had a feeling the Yankees wouldn't show up to play, and unfortunately, except for this guy I was right. I've been meaning to turn on some of the other games, but for a variety of reasons its been easier to follow games online than turning on the TV.
Super shiny Yankees!
There were lots of Cardinals, (my NL team, at least they gave the Dodgers a little fight), and plenty of other teams too. More fun shiny/colorful cards.
Jay Austin was a second round draft pick for the Astros in 2008 and never got above A ball but is still active after all these years in a variety of unaffiliated leagues; currently playing with Monclava of the Mexican League.
A couple of vintage oddballs, including my first '73 O-Pee-Chee. They look the same as Topps on the front, so here is the back, with the much more formal script for the cartoon.
There were a few extra-special cards in toploaders. The Walter Johnson card is called "Pennant Aggression". I guess it's some kind of pun but I don't get it. Jersey card for Michael Aubrey, who had a brief major league career. The Cap Anson card appears to be made of wood or some woodlike material. This card is from 2013. I'm kind of surprised Topps put out a card of him as recently as 2020; I would think that given the heightened awareness of the history of the Negro Leagues, that would be the last modern card for a while for the father of MLB segregation.
Tino Martinez shiny card! That Thurman Munson card is one of those Topps variations. The Crusade card is a really nice design. The autographed card is a 2013 Team USA 18U card of Michael Rivera. Rivera was drafted by Cleveland in 2017 and made it to AAA this season.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Wood vs. Wood #48

 Last time 1962 got it's first victory, taking four out of five votes. Today's match-up should be a good one.

Usually I don't care much about writing on a card but the photo on Ralph Terry's card is so nice I'd kind of like to upgrade it at some point. #47 behind Terry is relief ace Luis Arroyo. #68 in the '87 set is also a New York player who got a good photo and a pretty prominent lurker, with Wally Backman sliding past Tony Pena of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Ralph Terry is best known for his 1962 season when he won 23 games, then won the World Series MVP for allowing just five runs in three starts, including his legendary complete game, 1-0 win in Game 7. He recently wrote an autobiography and kindly answered my questions about baseball cards in 2019.

Wally Backman was a key member of the '86 Mets, platooning with Tim Teufel at second base and hitting .320. He has had a long career as a minor league manager, but numerous personal issues, including arrests for domestic violence and DUI cost him a job as manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks; and was recently arrested once again for domestic abuse while managing the Long Island Ducks.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

A Year of Topps Designs: 1971

No white borders for Topps for their major sports releases in 1971. They went for a bold look for both baseball and football, with all black borders for baseball, and either red (AFC) or blue (NFC) for the NFL. All-Pro football players got both colors.

In basketball Topps went with a taller card instead of the standard size. The basketball design and the amount of room for the photo are great; the blank backgrounds and lack of logos, with players wearing their jerseys backwards, are not so great.

No backgrounds for hockey, either. A bit of a lighting effect in the otherwise solid background is all there is to enliven what is otherwise a pretty boring design.

Outside of the big four sports, Topps focused on the new popular TV shows for the older children/younger teens who made up the bulk of the card buying public.

The Brady Bunch featured a great TV design, reminiscent of 1955 Bowman, and even more so the World Series subset from 1967. It's a great looking set, I'm surprised I hadn't seen it before.

The Partridge Family got a more simple look, typical of many Topps non-sport designs.

The Brady Bunch and Partridge Family became TV classics. The third TV show that Topps put out a set for did not. Bobby Sherman's Getting Together only lasted one season. The Topps set for that show had pink borders and a flowery design.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Hollywood bit players on baseball cards: Part 7

Today's actor played CONTROL Agent Roberts in the 1969 Get Smart episode "The Apes of Rath". KAOS scientist Dr. Rath has discovered a way to make savage apes look like regular humans, but able to revert back to savagery upon command. 

Our luckless Agent Roberts has received a banana in the mail, a sinister omen.

Moments later, he lets into his apartment the man he thinks is CONTROL agent Chuck Armstrong (actor Charles Bateman), not knowing this is really "Chucko the Ape". 

Minutes later, "Chucko" is activated and Roberts meets his (off-camera) demise.

This actor didn't get to appear on screen with any members of the main Get Smart cast, but here is a publicity still with the always-exasperated Chief of CONTROL (Edward Platt).

Did you recognize him?

It is former Dodgers star Maury Wills. I have five of the six cards Topps issued for him during his playing career.

Though Wills had a few other roles where he played characters other than himself, other than Get Smart it was always within a baseball setting. Other notable acting credits included the movies The Black 6 (the story of a motorcycle gang played by NFL stars Gene Washington, Carl Eller, Lem Barney, Mercury Morris, Willie Lanier and Joe Greene) and The Sandlot, and episodes of Shazam and Adam's Rib. Here is Wills in his 1973 Adam's Rib appearance.