Sunday, January 31, 2021

Turning stamps into stamps

 You may remember I posted a set of 1983 Fleer Stamps I purchased on eBay last month. It had been a "Buy it now" and it came with guaranteed delivery. That wasn't why I picked that one, it just happened to be the cheapest one available. As with most packages last month it arrived late. Turns out if you order something "Guaranteed Delivery" and it comes late, eBay gives you a $5 coupon. I ended up using mine to acquire a vintage baseball stamp lot. Nice little oddball addition to my vintage collection. Here was what was in the lot:

These two beauties are 1955 Golden Stamps. They look great and I will certainly be looking out for more I can get cheaply, though I think they usually go for more than I'm willing to pay.

These are 1969 Dell Stamps. No MLB license so no logos. This was a commons lot, biggest names were Mel Stottlemyre and Felipe Alou.
These from the 1971 MLB Stamps lot were licensed. Even less star power here. The one name you might recognize is Ron Reed.
Not stamps but these were also in the lot. What are they?
These were cutouts from some kind of publication. On the back you have a complete MLB schedule. 
Might be hard to tell from the photo but you have Milwaukee and Washington in the American League so this has to be 1970 or 1971. Sure enough Milwaukee was at Oakland May 18, 19, and 20 1971. I am guessing these are cutouts from the 1971 stamp album. 

Friday, January 29, 2021

Wallet Card at Rosalle Furs

 Rosalle Furs, which operated stores in Freeport (Long Island) and New Rochelle (Westchester County), had a checkered history. In December, 1967, an REA truck filled with several hundred furs was hijacked in New York City. A few months later, an informant tipped off the FBI that the stolen furs could be found at the Rosalle stores, which led to raids and the arrest of four men, including Frank "The Boss" Moccardi of the Gambino crime family. Four years later there was another raid, this time for illegally selling furs from endangered species.

The Freeport location was later a Christian book store and was most recently a T-Mobile store, though it is currently empty. The word "FURS" can still be seen in the tilework at the entrance, though it appears the Roselle name was rather artlessly covered up.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

1981 Topps Mariners Future Stars


This is a rather sad card - two of the three men died in very unfortunate circumstances.

Rick Anderson

The player: Rick Anderson pitched for the Yankees for one game in 1979 and the Mariners for five games in 1980, going 0-0 with a 3.75 ERA.

The man: In 1989 Anderson was found dead in a boatyard trailer he was living in near Los Angeles at the age of 35. The cause of death was arteriosclerosis due to obesity. At the time of death he weighed over 400 pounds.

My collection: This is my only card of Anderson. I would be interested in trading for 1979 TCMA Columbus Clippers #21.

Greg Biercevicz

The player: Greg Biercevicz was drafted by the Mariners in 1977 and immediately made a big splash at Class-A Bellingham, going 11-1 with a 0.90 ERA. The next season he was promoted to AAA, a level he would pitch at for eight years without ever making the major leagues. Overall, in 200 minor league games (173 at AAA), he went 69-58 with a 3.93 ERA.

The man: Biercevicz has kept a low profile since his playing career ended.

My collection: I have two cards of Biercevicz, 1979 and 1981 Topps. I would be interested in trading for 1985 TCMA Rochester Red Wings #30.

Rodney Craig

The player: Rodney Craig had stints with the Mariners in 1979/80, the Indians in 1982 and the White Sox in 1986. In 145 games he hit .256 with 3 HR and 27 RBI.

The man: Craig struggled with mental illness throughout his life and was homeless for most of the years after his mothers death in 2001. He was stabbed to death in a fight at a homeless encampment in Los Angeles in 2013.

My collection: I have five of his cards, from 1980 to 1983. I would be interested in trading for 1983 TCMA Charleston Charlies #15.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

1986 Sportflics Decade Greats Lefty Gomez


Some nice photos here. Here's a better look at the Yankee Stadium action shot:

On-the-field trivia: The ace of the pitching staff for the great Yankee teams of the 1930s, Lefty Gomez led the AL in wins and ERA twice and strikeouts three times. He was at this best in October: in 7 World Series games Gomez was 6-0 with a 2.86 ERA.

Off-the-field trivia: Gomez was none as one of the great wits of the game. His plaque at Monument Park says of Gomez: "Noted for his wit and his fastball, as he was fast with a quip and a pitch." Among his most famous moments were walking up to the plate in the twilight against Bob Feller with a lit match in his hand to make sure Feller could see him, and responding to criticism that the Yankees' great defense made him seem better than he was by saying "I'd rather be lucky than good". He invented the term "gopher ball" for a home run, saying his outfielders had to go-fer several that he gave up in a game.
While with the Yankees he attended a nightclub performance by Broadway star June O'Dea, fell in love with her and they eventually married. They nearly divorced in 1938 in a well-publicized separation, but mutual friend Jack Dempsey was able to get the couple to reconcile. The couple were married for 56 years when Gomez died in 1989.
After his playing career Gomez, the second Hispanic player elected to the Hall of Fame, was one of the founders of the first Venezuelan professional baseball league, made up of Latin players as well as Black players who were avoiding segregated ball in the US. 

My collection: I do not have any playing-days card of Gomez. His last card as an active player was in the 1941 Play Ball set.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Cardboard cousins: '57 Topps/'15 Archives

 I don't have a lot of '57s but was able to find a pretty good match with that section of '15 Archives - card #4 features Braves who made the All-Star team the year after the card came out. Julio Teheran was an All-Star for the Braves in 2016. He won 77 games over eight seasons for the team. Shortstop Johnny Logan was overshadowed by Aaron, Mathews et al on those great Braves teams of the '50s but he was an All-Star in '55, '57, '58 and '59. He hit 92 HR and 207 HR in eleven years with the Braves.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Cards and vintage things: July 31, 1965

 July 31, 1965 was a day of tumult and protest. In Americus, Georgia, five Blacks demonstrating against segregation were beaten by an angry mob. In New York, 200 protesters marched on Times Square to protest the Vietnam War. In Greece, the government attempted to defend itself in what became known as the Royal Coup of 1965. In lighter news, author J.K. Rowling was born in Britain.

Topton, Pennsylvania has had volunteer firefighting companies since the late 1880s. The current organization, Topton Volunteer Fire Company #1, was created on August 25, 1915. 

The local baseball team, the Phillies, had a tough day, losing at home to the Mets, 4-3 in eleven innings. Dick Stuart was 2-for-3 with a home run in a losing cause for Philadelphia.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

All this for some '87 Topps

 I recently sent most of the '87 Topps Traded set I won from A Cracked Bat to Night Owl. He sent me a really generous return package.

Here are some hits to my wantlist for my Topps setbuilds of recent years. That would have been a fine enough return.

Also some hits to my 1998 Collectors Choice and 1990 Leaf wantlists, even better.
How about some '70s football too? 
But wait, there's more! Some really nice '60s (and one '70s) vintage. Surely that's it? No!
Four 1950s cards - amazing!
I had to show the back of the 1955 Johnny Riddle. Not just for the 1905 birthdate, but for the cartoon which would become obsolete a year after the card was published.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Vintage backgrounds: Surprise Hammer

 Of all the baseball losses we've had in the last 12 months, I don't think any have hit me quite like the loss of Hank Aaron. Growing up with him as the Home Run King, he had an iconic status that was more than any other living ballplayer, even Mantle or Mays. By all accounts a fine man off the field as well. If I had to pick one favorite card in my collection it wouldn't even be a Yankee, instead it would be the '56 Aaron I won in a contest from It's Like Having My Own Card Shop.

In my favorite vintage set, 1967 Topps, Aaron appears on two league leader cards and the Braves team card in addition to his base card. There is actually a fifth card in the set which features Hammerin' Hank. On the Atlanta Aces card, #44 can clearly be seen chatting with an LA Dodger in the background. Definitely one of the best cameo appearances on a vintage card.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Wallet Card at Carol Green's


Carol Green's was a women's clothing store that operated in Freeport, NY from 1931 through 1981. It was noted that during World War II the store purchased $12,500 in war bonds, the largest individual purchase in the town. The location is now home to a store called Variedades QueQue, but most of the Carol Green's name can be seen on the floor at the entrance.

From the New York Heritage Digital Collection, here is a photo of Carol Green's from the 1940s:
And another from the 1970s.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Where there's a Wills, there's a way

 Daniel of It's Like Having My Own Card Shop recently picked up two copies of Maury Wills's 1963 Fleer card. I was able to work out a trade with him for the extra Wills. I mailed him a PWE of cards for my part of the trade - but forgot to stamp it! I accidentally sent PWEs to Daniel and another blogger and then realized I had forgotten to stamp them. Miraculously, they both arrived at their destination! 

That '63 Wills is a great card. He didn't have a contract with Topps until late in his career so Wills cards from this time period are rare.

I love the back too. "The mercury-footed outfielder, son of a Baptist minister . . ." Better copy than Topps was writing at the time.
Daniel threw in some great vintage extras too. These '75 minis are nice selection of stars from the mid-70s who are largely forgotten today.
These are all needs from the fifth (next-to-last) series of 1970 Topps. Highlights include Frank Howard, Joe Pepitone and a Darrell Evans rookie.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Tyler Heineman on baseball cards

 Catcher Tyler Heineman played for the Marlins in 2019, the Giants in 2020 and has signed for the Cardinals for the 2021 season. In 20 major league games he has hit .208 with 1 HR and 3 RBI. In 604 minor league games he has hit .285 with 39 HR and 248 RBI. He kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"I used to work at a card store! The Bullpen LA. Worked there for a couple of years. Used to collect hockey cards. Still have them. Favorite card is a 1979 OPC Wayne Gretzky rookie card PSA 8."


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

1981 Topps Fred Stanley


The front: Simple headshot at Yankee Stadium.

The back: An original Seattle Pilot, Stanley's long career didn't leave room for a blurb.

The player: Fred "Chicken" Stanley played 14 years in the major leagues, including eight for the Yankees, for whom he won World Series rings in 1977 and 1978. Often used as a defensive replacement and backup shortstop, Stanley played in 816 major league games, hitting .216 with 10 HR and 120 RBI. 

The man: He has worked in the Giants' front office for many years, picking up three more World Series rings as an executive. His current title is Special Assistant, Player Development.

My collection: I have 21 of his cards, from 1972 to 1983. I would be interested in trading for 1975 SSPC Yankes #13.

Monday, January 18, 2021

A football trade

I'm probably not buying any more vintage football, but I'm happy to do more vintage football trades. These cards came from a trade with reader Ken, with whom I recently did a vintage baseball trade. 

Here's a few '74s, mostly checklists but a few players including Staubach. A couple of nicer photos from the '78 set as well.

Here's a dozen '73s, almost all of them big names. My favorites are the two in the lower center, MacArthur Lane and Bubba Smith. Cards like those two I'd be happy to trade for all day long.


1986 Sportflics Decade Greats Mel Ott


On-the-field trivia: Mel Ott was known for an unusually high leg kick to generate his powerful swing; Sportflics used photos from both sides that showcased the kick. Ott retired in 1947 with 511 home runs, 200 more than any other National Leaguer and third all-time behind Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx. He led the National League in home runs six times, and in walks seven times, walking almost twice as many times as he struck out in his career (1708 to 896). 

Off-the-field trivia: One of the most popular men in baseball among both players and fans, Ott managed the Giants throughout the 1940s; he was the "nice guy" in Leo Durocher's famous "nice guys finish last" quote. Sadly, he died from injuries sustained in a car accident in 1958, a fate later shared by fellow New York Giants Hall-of-Famers Carl Hubbell and Frankie Frisch. Since 1959, the National League has presented the Mel Ott award to the league home run champion. 

My collection: I do not have any playing-days cards of Ott. His last card as an active player was 1943 MP and Co.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Some more football cards and an update

 You may remember that the USPS misdelivered a couple of eBay football card orders and the best I could get from them was a handwritten note on a Google maps printout from the post office. Well, surprise of surprises, I am actually getting a refund from eBay on the $20 purchase, and am still waiting to hear about the $10 purchase. It took a call and quite a few emails with their customer service, but I am definitely feeling better about that fiasco.

While that was going on I did make one small purchase of a late '70s football lot. I have to say it kind of confirmed my "meh" feeling to vintage football. They're fun but not as much fun as I thought they would be.

Here are my favorite cards in the lot. Highlighted by some guys sitting on the bench, and a guy named "Joe Lavender" rocking some cool shades (which he sports on several other cards as well, apparently).
I don't regret the purchase but I am losing my enthusiasm for picking up more of these, though I'm still happy to trade for vintage football cards (and have quite a few from throughout the 70s to trade). What I do plan to do is to go through each set on TCDB and see which cards look most interesting to me, and make a want list just of them.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Cardboard Cousins: '76 Topps / '15 Archives

 2015 Archives included '57 and '76 designs. Today I picked a '76 pair, both #144. Al Fitzmorris and Yordano Ventura were starting pitchers who each won 11+ games three years in a row. Tragically, Ventura was killed in a car accident after the 2016 season. Fitzmorris was not protected by the Royals in the 1976 expansion draft despite winning 15 games for the club, due to conflicts with manager Whitey Herzog. He was drafted by the Blue Jays who traded him to the Indians. Both pitchers were on the 2019 ballot for the Royals Hall of Fame. It does not appear anyone was actually selected from this ballot; the last inductee was in 2015. 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Cards and Vintage Things: September 24-25-26, 1964

 Thursday-Saturday, September 24-25-26 of 1964 were marked by freedom movements in Africa, with the capital of Congo seized by rebels, and a war for independence launched by the Mozambique Liberation Front. In the US, the Warren Commission presented it's findings to President Johnson, while the TV season kicked off with new shows debuting including The Munster, Gomer Pyle and Gilligan's Island.

Meanwhile in Williamsport, PA, the 85th Annual Pennsylvania State Firemen's Convention was held. The convention was concluded with a parade on Saturday that had 3,000 marchers over 3,000 hours. There was a "Mardi Gras atmosphere" in downtown Williamsport including a makeshift reviewing stand in front of the county prison and young boys trying on "Beatle" wigs.

Many of these dated matchbooks came from a seller in the Philadelphia area. The last of these posts had a quite positive Phillies team in June of 1964. September was a different story for the squad, as a ten game losing streak at the end of September ruined their pennant chances in one of the biggest collapses in baseball history. These were losses 4, 5 and 6 of the streak, all at home against the Braves. One player who couldn't be blamed for the collapse was rookie Dick Allen. Allen had eight hits in thirteen at bats in the three games, including a triple and home run. In the other seven games of the losing streak Allen hit .346. I wonder if Allen's teammates hadn't collapsed, and he became seen as a young hero of a surprise pennant-winner and possibly World Champion, might his career might have gone much smoother?

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Vintage backgrounds: Where is Tom Egan?

 There's a lot going on Tom (or Tommy, as he signed his name) Egan's card. There are a few fans in the stands, the gates probably just recently opened. There's a notice on the dugout wall, another Angel lounging on the steps. There even appears to be some bunting on the fence near the dugout. But where is this?

Egan is wearing his home uniform. In 1966 the newly renamed California Angels opened Anaheim Stadium. However, this doesn't really look like Anaheim Stadium. Also, why does Egan, who had only played in the majors with the Angels in 1965 and 1966, have his cap airbrushed? Perhaps, then, this is 1965, when the team was known as the Los Angeles Angels, and Topps airbrushed out the LA from his cap. But the Angels played in Dodger Stadium this year, and this certainly isn't Dodger Stadium.

I think this is actually Yankee Stadium! The colors and shape of the dugout match the old Yankee Stadium more closely than either LA ballpark, I think. In 1965, Egan was an 18-year-old "bonus baby" who had to spend the season on the major league roster. Perhaps while in Yankee Stadium early in the year the Angels (or Topps) decided to take some photos of their new player and put him in the home whites even though they were on the road. The Angels actually played the Yankees at home in the first week of the season, but later in April the Yankees opened their home schedule against the Twins and Angels; perhaps the bunting was still up for opening week.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Wallet Card at Royol Home Appliance

 In 1936 an appliance dealer and repair shop called Royol opened in Freeport, NY. At some point in the 1960s or 1970s the name changed to Willig-Royol. The location is now called C&C Appliance, but you can still see "Royol" in a sidewalk sign at the entrance to the store.

Here is an advertisement for the store from 1952:

Monday, January 11, 2021

Some items the USPS actually delivered

 This week I received my first eBay purchase since my big USPS fiasco last month. It was a small lot of 1969s for a good price, just under a quarter of a card shipped. This week I tempted fate by daring to order a small football lot; let's see what happens there.

The big attraction for the '69 lot was that it was stocked with high numbers. These were the cards I needed from the set, all high numbers and some moderately big names, too:

Here's the trade bait from that lot. The cards on the bottom are all high numbers.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Fuji sends cards that reach for the sky

 I got a very nice package of cards this week from Fuji. It started from my recent comment that I was interested in the New York buildings from the Allen & Ginter Reach for the Sky insert set. Fuji sent me this great Empire State Building card.

The building on the lower right side of the card is where I worked from January 2009 until March 2020 when Covid made me a full-time work-from-home employee. The buildings on the right side of the card were what I would see when looking out the window of our main conference room, at about this height from the street. So this card makes me weirdly nostalgic for sitting in meetings waiting for them to end.

The rest of the package was very Yankees focused. Some great cards here including a 1960 Johnny Blanchard.
My favorite one is the Marv Throneberry card which appears to be spring training action with water right past the third base line. Sure enough, Al Lang Stadium, where the Yankees trained during Marvelous Marv's time with the team, had it's third base line just across the street from Tampa Bay.
This was actually my favorite card in the package, as I was forced to do some sleuthing to figure out what the heck it was.
Turns out it's a 1975 Fleer Cloth Pennant Sticker. You can read all about it on the Fleer Sticker Project blog. Very cool oddball item.

Some of the cards Fuji sent me that I had already. He sent me a bunch of Yankees from the 1993 Upper Deck All Time Heroes set, but I already have the full set so that is available for trade, as are the three early '70s cards below.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Interview with former Fleer photographer Lou Sauritch

 One of the company's original baseball card photographers, Lou Sauritch worked at Fleer for 23 years. I spoke with him on the phone and he kindly answered my baseball card questions with some great stories.

"My brother had a surfboard company and Tim Flannery was going to do a photo with the surfboard to promote it. I initially suggested taking the photo at the beach but Flannery didn’t want to. He said “Have your brother bring the board to the stadium” which is what we did.

The Bill Ripken card (photographed by Steve Babineau) was so surprising to me because the photo had to be checked so many times  – first of all you get the picture, then it goes to Fleer, then it has to go to print it. After that card came you had to check everything. One time I was shooting Juan Berenguer with the Giants. I shot regular and then I shot up from underneath. Later I got the film back and I saw that the bottom of the brim of his hat said “a*****e” on it. I asked Juan about it the next time I saw him. He said “Yeah, when Roger Craig comes to take me out, I flip the hat up at him”.

Terry Forster’s card in 1981, our first year, he has his leg crossed with a big smile. I was shooting him in the dugout and he farted very loudly, the whole dugout started laughing.

My favorite cards - I took photos of my son who played in the minors for the Orioles for three years before he got injured. Fleer had minor league cards at the time. This was in Bluefield, West Virginia and then when he came up to California, High Desert. I had shot his managers like Butch Wynegar, Andy Etchebarren, Joe Ferguson.

The Flannery card was another favorite because it was different. All the card companies were boring until Upper Deck came out and you had action shots and guys in the dugout, it really helped the industry.

I made a lot of good friends among the players. Don Baylor was a good friend of mine, we stayed close until he passed away, that was very difficult. Rod Carew and I talked every day.  I’ve known him since 1979. We used to golf all the time until his heart attack. 

I used to photograph both Griffeys, I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania near where they lived. I did a lot of work for Gargoyle Sunglasses that he used to promote.  I got a call from Griffey’s agent right after he signed the glasses contract, he told that if there was any ad work I would do it. That was a great experience.

In Bo Jackson’s rookie year, my friend Mitch Haddad, the Donruss photographer, and I were trying to take photos of him but he kept refusing.  We explained the situation to Frank White, and he said “Bo, get over here.  See these two guys here, they’re good guys, you do what they tell you,” and he posed for us. Mitch now photographs TV shows - George Lopez, West Wing, NCIS. We used to travel all the time together. We were buddies, would share a room, go to rib places.

We had a good relationship with certain veterans. The rookies would see them talking with you and know “this guy must be decent”.  Made good friends like Baylor and Carew. 

Some were difficult. Dave Kingman was a real a*****e. One time there was nobody around, he was just leaning on the batting cage. I politely went up to him and said “Dave, can I get a few shots of you?” He got angry and said, “Can’t you see I am thinking!” Another time he told me he wanted a picture with his dog. I wanted to say no but I didn’t.

I did take a photo of Jason Giambi with his dog. I saw him with the dog and asked “Can I take a picture with your dog?”, and he said “Yeah, sure!”

Some of these guys were real characters. Dan Plesac – He originally wanted one where he was stretching out on the ground like a first baseman reaching for a throw. Fleer wouldn’t go for it, but we got one instead where he posed as a hitter with a bat and helmet.

Mark Grant was another one – he told me to go high up in the stands, he was going to have a catcher’s mask in his hand, reaching for a pop fly. Fleer said no to the photo. I told them, “Do you think I could get a pitcher to take that pose if he didn’t want to?” We ended up doing the one that looked like he was a hockey goalie with a baseball bat and glove.

I shot football too – that wasn’t as enjoyable. I like football but it’s much harder. I had an editor that would get on you all the time. He would watch the highlights and ask why I didn’t get a shot of a big catch. I told him I have to shot 36 guys at a time. I got him to come with me to a game in Philadelphia, we got to the game and I said, “You tell me where to shoot.” After the game was over he told me “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize.” We also had to do headshots on the bench and hope the players would look at you. You don’t get to know the players the way you do in baseball. My high school buddy Dave Dalby who played for the Raiders I would see before the game. But most of the players you couldn’t communicate with because they were so whacked out on game day.

Magic Johnson’s rookie year I shot the Lakers. A friend of mine worked for Ebony Magazine and needed some pictures of Magic.

I got into photography because I collected cards. I went to these collectors shows all the time, and I met the curator of the Angels Hall of Fame. He tells me, “Why don’t you start a company writing press guides and doing the photos?” I ended up doing 18 of the 24 teams at the time. Then I got a press pass for the Angels, borrowed my brother’s camera, and got more and more into it. I was not the team photographer but gave them lots of photos. Then in 1980 I saw a tiny article in the LA Times about the baseball card lawsuit, and called Fleer. About two months later they called me back and I started working for them. Steve Babineau and I were their first two photographers – he did the East Coast and I did the West Coast. I worked for them from 1980 through 2003 spring training. The industry was sliding, we had been sold a number of times. They went under shortly after, so I got out at the right time. There are so many cards these days – people come up to me all the time asking what their cards are worth, but they’re usually not worth anything."