Wednesday, March 31, 2021

1981 Topps Lenn Sakata


The front: Cool spring training shot with the overhanging grandstand and the guy in street clothes. Looks like Topps airbrushed his face a bit to preserve his anonymity.

The back: Sakata played golf at Kalani High School in Honolulu.

The player: Originally with the Brewers, the Orioles traded for Sakata after the 1979 season to replace Mark Belanger. Sakata was a regular for the Orioles in 1981 and 1982 until Cal Ripken took over the shortstop job. He hung on as a backup for the Orioles through 1985, and ended his career with stints with the A's and Yankees.

The man: Sakata has had a long career as a minor league coach and manager. He is currently the manager of the San Jose Giants.

My collection: I have 17 of his cards, from 1980 to 1988. I would be interested in trading for 1992 The Wiz Yankees #167.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Website update

 I've tinkered a little bit with my blog layout, partially to reflect some of my new collecting areas. 

On the top right, under my baseball wantlists and tradelists, I've added the matchbook/matchcover themes I collect. Mostly vintage logos, vintage photography, local (Long Island/NYC businesses), and most relevant for this community, anything sports related. Maybe someone's got a matchbook like this one to trade?

I've also figured out what I want to do with vintage football. I'm not interested in completing sets but I went through the TCDB galleries for 1971-1979 Topps and picked out about 100 with cool photos that I'd like to add to my collection. I have a couple thousand football cards to trade, mostly late 70s-early 80s, which I haven't added to my tradelist. Maybe someone's got a card like this to trade? 

Finally, I did what I should have done a long time ago and added a "most wanted" section. I've pulled off lots of trades from other people's "Nebulous 9", "Dime Box Dozen" etc. I don't know why it took me so long to do the same. Right now I'm highlighting the two vintage sets I've been stuck on "almost completing" for a while now.

1974 Topps - down to just seven cards. Second-year Mike Schmidt and late-career Brooks Robinson are the only ones left who aren't basically commons.

1976 Topps - thirteen left here. A few big names - Ron Guidry Rookie, Hank Aaron record breaker, Brett and Schmidt second-year cards - but nothing too unattainable. 

Whose got cards from these sets to trade?

Monday, March 29, 2021

1986 Sportflics Decade Greats: 1930s pitchers Dizzy Dean/Paul Derringer/Red Ruffing


Dizzy Dean: Dizzy Dean made it to the Hall of Fame despite only six full seasons as a starting pitcher. With the Cardinals from 1932 to 1937 he was one of the best pitchers in baseball, most notably 1934 when he became the only NL pitcher in the liveball era to win 30 games. However, injuries took their toll on his arm, and at age 27 he pitched his last full season. Acquired by the Cubs in 1938, he pitched very well in limited duty, including some key victories down the stretch to edge out the Pirates for the NL pennant. However, his career was basically over at the age of 30. After his playing career Dean became one of the first popular players-turned-announcers, using a carefully-constructed persona as a feeble-minded Southerner, intentionally goofing up to augment his "Dizzy" image.

Paul Derringer: The first player in this set not in the Hall of Fame, Paul Derringer fifteen seasons in the major leagues, mostly for the Reds. He was one of the greatest control pitchers of all time, walking only 761 batters in 3,645 innings. His best season was 1939, helping the Reds win the pennant by going 25-7 with a 2.93 ERA. Derringer was often in trouble off-the-field, getting into numerous fights. After his career he was a plastic salesman and later handled customer bail matters for the AAA. He is also the first player in this set I have a playing-days card from, in the 1935 Diamond Match set.

Red Ruffing: Red Ruffing began his career with the Red Sox, and after suffering through two 20-loss seasons Boston traded him to the Yankees for little-regarded outfielder Cedric Durst. Yankees manager Bob Shawkey adjusted Ruffing's delivery when he arrived in the Bronx, putting him on a Hall of Fame path that saw him win six World Series, including four in a row from 1936-1939, winning 20+ games each of those seasons. Ruffing served as a Private in the US Army Air Forces in World War II, and was later a coach and executive for several teams.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Some pickups from the original wood set

 I used the last of my $5 eBay coupons to acquire what turned out to be a very nice lot of '62s. The price was probably depressed by the seller calling it a "poor" lot. Looks like this seller sells almost all current cards and didn't realize just how nice these were for 1962s - probably some of my best-condition overall.

Some famous baseball dads, an early Mudcat Grant, and my first of the great '62 in-action cards.

Some more nice cards, some classic vintage "characters" like Moe Drabowsky and Albie Pearson, and some great backgrounds on the Kralick and Hershberger cards. I'm planning a "vintage backgrounds" post on the Hershberger.
Half of this lot consisted of semi-high numbers, which was a nice surprise. 
Some nice all-star cards here, including another Colavito.
One interesting thing to note was the back of some of the semi-highs, which were released around the time of football season. Note the advertisements on the back of some of the cards for the football set. (I don't have any '62 Topps football but would love to get some, it's one of the best designs Topps ever produced).
This was a 32-card lot. I don't have that many '62s, so I needed almost all of the cards. These two, however, are available for trade:
A lot of people compare this set to '87 Topps, the other famous wood-grain set. That is the set that set off my collecting, as well as possibly more card collectors than any other set. If anything, it is kind of an underrated set now just because of the overproduction at the time and the many rehashes Topps has done lately. Does '87 stack up to '62? Would a regular series comparing cards from the two sets be interesting?

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Time Traveling through the decades

 Like last year, my first cards from this year's set have come to me via the Diamond Jesters Time Travel Trade. He buys a pack of the current year's cards and begins the process of working backwards through time by trading each card for something older.

Everyone's been ragging on this set, but now that I have them in hand, other than the small print I like it well enough. A lot of people have been calling it the Donruss set. The diagonal design does bring '86 Donruss to mind. I didn't realize it also mimicked the '87 design's stripe of baseballs on the middle edge until seeing them in person. I like those designs though, so those callbacks are OK by me. And you can do some fun things with the way the diagonal slashes are aligned:

Time-hopping a bit, I picked up some pretty big names from the '80s. '85 Football is one of my favorite designs, so it was nice to get a big star from that set. Kind of ironic seeing OJ Anderson, future Giants Super Bowl hero, running over a few Giants, including George Martin and Beasley Reece, on his '83 Topps sticker.
The best part of the time travel trades, of course, is the vintage baseball. Sadly, Ed Armbrister passed away while his rookie card was on it's way to me. Still, a Hall-of-Fame All-Star and a couple of early '60s cards will always put a smile on my face.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Cardboard Cousins: 1971 Topps/2002 UD Vintage

 In 2002 Upper Deck ripped off the '71 Topps set for their design. #130 features a couple of Astros in similar poses. Both Denis Menke and Moises Alou made the All-Star team twice in their Astros tenure. In 1969, Menke became the first Astro to have a season of at least 500 plate appearances while walking exactly as many times as he struck out (87). Alou later equaled that feat in 2001 (57).

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Cards and vintage things: August 28 thru September 3, 1966

Peggy's Lunch was a restaurant in Dallastown, PA, in the southeastern part of the state. I don't know what "Yankee Dugout" was but it ran from August 28 through September 3, 1966.

During the week of "Yankee Dugout" the biggest world news was in China, where hundreds were killed by the government sanctioned Red Guards. In the US, Constance Baker Motley of New York was confirmed by the US Senate as the first Black female federal judge, while Alabama Governor George Wallace signed into law a bill to prevent Alabama schools from accepting federal funding for desegregation.

"Yankee Dugout" took place in Phillies territory. It was a good week for the team, who won five of the seven games to improve to 74-64, still only good for fourth place in a tough National League. Jim Bunning was masterful, with two complete game victories that week - 5-1 against the Giants on the 29th and a 6-0 shutout at Shea Stadium on September 2nd.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Vintage Backgrounds: 1968 Topps Bill Singer

On my last vintage backgrounds post I confused two Dodger pitchers in the '68 set, Jim Brewer and Bill Singer. Commenter Jim from Downington kindly pointed out my error and corrected it. Well, why not do one for Singer too?

Not much of a background here but still an interesting detail. Penny Sleeve for your Thoughts recently showed a '57 card with a player whose sleeves were ripped. Eleven years later, still years away from the riches free agency would bestow on them, a player still had to get by on some worn-out clothes.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

1981 Topps Dave Frost


The front: A sunny day at Yankee Stadium.

The back: 10-3 against the AL West; 3-7 against the AL East. And another AL East loss in Game 2 of the ALCS, allowing 10 runs in 4.1 innings in a loss to the Orioles.

The player: An elbow injury in early 1980 ended up wrecking his career, with ERAs in the mid-5s in 1980, 1981 and 1982, ending his career at age 30.

The man: According to the 1982 Topps Blog, Frost abandoned a post-baseball career as a commodities broker to get a degree in psychology, and now works to counsel and rehabilitate domestic violence offenders. He also coaches for the MLB Urban Youth Academy.

My collection: I have ten of his cards, from 1979 to 1983. I would be interested in trading for 1982 Topps Traded #37.

Monday, March 22, 2021

1986 Sportflics Decade Greats: 1930s catchers Cochrane/Dickey/Hartnett


For each decade Sportflics had some cards that were three players on one card.

Mickey Cochrane: A two-time MVP who played thirteen seasons for the A's and Tigers, winning two World Series with Philadelphia and one with Detroit. Had a lifetime batting average of .320 when his career was abruptly ended when he was hit in the head by a pitch and nearly died. Everyone who knew him called him Mike - he was only known as Mickey to his press and to the fans, including the Mantle family in Oklahoma who named their son after him. Cochrane, who was a Lieutenant Commander in the Pacific Theater, lost his own son in battle in Europe. After his career he went into the automotive business in Montana with his brother Archie. Archie Cochrane Ford continues to operate to this day.

Bill Dickey: An 11-time All-Star who won seven World Series rings with the Yankees. Between 1936 and 1939 had 20+ HR and 100+ RBI each season. In 17 seasons hit .313 with 202 HR and 1,219 RBI. Played in eight World Series, hitting .255 with 5 HR and 24 RBI in the Fall Classic. His two run home run in Game 5 of the 1943 World Series clinched the series win for the Yankees. Dickey served in the Navy Hospital Area in Hawaii during World War II. After his playing career he coached for the Yankees for many years, tutoring both Yogi Berra and Elston Howard in catching defense.

Gabby Hartnett: The National League MVP in 1935, played 20 seasons in the major leagues, 19 for the Cubs. A lifetime .297 hitter with 236 HR and 1,179 RBI. Best known for his twilight "Homer in the Gloamin'" in 1938 which clinched the NL Pennant for the Cubs. Was a coach and announcer after his playing career, and also owned a bowling alley in Lincolnwood, IL.

Cardboard Cousins: 2001 Upper Deck Vintage/1963 Topps

 For a few years in the early 2000s Upper Deck put out a "Vintage" set that was a blatant rip-off of vintage Topps designs. The first one, in 2001, used the 1963 design. 

#109 has two outfielders who started their career with the Braves and ended it with the White Sox, and whose career high in doubles was 44 (Maye led the NL with that total in 1964).

I didn't know anything about Lee Maye until I started researching this post. Maye was uniquely talented as not just a baseball player but as a singer. His Topps card only hints at his accomplishments:
Before he had reached the major leagues, Maye had reached musical success as lead singer of Arthur Lee Maye and the Crowns, who had several local hits in the Los Angeles area, and as a backup to other singers, most notably as one of the back-up singers on the original recording of "Louie Louie". Playing baseball six months out of the year prevented him from having a truly successful recording career, but the chance to travel to major league cities helped in other ways, including performing at the Apollo Theater in New York, which he called one of his "biggest moments". You can read more about his singing and baseball careers on the Spectropop website.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Cards and vintage things: September 24, 1966

The colors on this 55-year-old matchbook have not lasted well - it is for a gala banquet at the Fountain Hill Beneficial Society on September 24, 1966. Fountain Valley is a suburb of Bethlehem, PA, in the Lehigh Valley.

Meanwhile, in Japan, 317 people were killed in the devastation wrought by Tropical Storm Helen and Typhoon Ida. Fighting in Vietnam and the Congo also were in the headlines. Meanwhile, in the US, George Skakel, brother of Ethel Kennedy and brother-in-law of Senator Robert Kennedy, was one of four people killed in a plane crash in Idaho. The Skakels had some bad history with dying young not too dissimilar from the Kennedys.

Meanwhile, at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia, an hour's drive south from Fountain Hill, a five-run third inning was enough for the home team to edge the Cardinals, 5-4. Leadoff hitter Cookie Rojas drove in Philly's first run with an RBI single off of Al Jackson, one of Cookie's three hits that day.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Not my best purchase

 I always try to make sure I get a really good deal when I buy lots of cards (these days that's just online - eBay, haven't done an in-person purchase in over a year now). I goofed a bit recently though. I was seduced by a couple of 1940s cards in a large lot that was mostly modern crap, and put in a bid higher than I really should have. I ended up spending $20 for a lot I probably wouldn't value at more than $10. Not a big deal, really, but I often note how good a deal I got for things, might as well be honest when I don't. I come to that number by not wanting to pay more than $0.25 a vintage card and $0.10 a modern card, and being quite selective on the modern ones.

Here's what I got. Some nice cards and a lot of stuff I don't need, and probably will have a hard time trading.

I'll start with the filler. The bulk of this 175 card lot was junk wax and 2010-ish Bowman. Anyone working on a 1990 or 1991 Donruss set? A few big names in here, especially the 1991.

Most of these Bowmans are from 2010, a few from 2009 or 2011. Lots of Marlins here.
The puzzle piece is from Duke Snider - anyone working on that one? Knucksie and Dusty might look nice in your collection.
A few randoms from Fleer and Score, a Cal Ripken and a Rocket checklist.
Finally some Topps cards from various years. Some pretty decent names in '86 and '87.
On to the keepers. I didn't do too bad, really. Just not as well as I usually do. These autographs maybe helped me value the lot more than I should have. I don't actively seek out autographs but it's always nice to have them in my collection.
Mixed in with the '10 Bowman Chrome were a few refractors. Some reasonably big names here.
Some more Bowman cards I didn't have. This was certainly a Jhan Marinez hot lot with the base Chrome, the refractor Chrome and the autograph Chrome. I have to admit I'd never heard of him but he's pitched 103 games in the major leagues for seven different teams and is still active in the Mexican League.
Two more random cards I happened to need.
Some 2018 Heritage (Minors) and 2019 Heritage. Nice to see a couple of big-time former Yankee pitchers.
On to the vintage! A few standard Bowman and Topps cards from the '50s and '60s, all cards I needed.
My first ever 1961 Topps Stamps. I like that Zoilo Versalles is called Zorro on the front.
Getting odder with the oddballs - these are from the 1959 Oklahoma Today Magazine set. These were magazine cutouts of prominent ballplayers from Oklahoma. Nice to get two Yankees from this set. There's a certain other Oklahoman Yankee in the set that is priced quite highly, don't think I'll ever get that one.
This was the card that made me pull the trigger. The 1943 M.P. & Co. set was one of the very few to come out during World War II. I had actually seen this same card in another lot that I bid quite highly on to just fall short. Seeing it again was what triggered me here. 
The back is worth a look at too. "The Mad Russian of Baseball"! He was a surprise breakout star in 1942 but was not able to maintain his success in '43. His SABR biography is definitely worth a read. His SABR bio is an interesting read. My favorite tidbit is that in 1945, Novikoff was a big enough Russian-American celebrity that after V-E Day in 1945 US General Omar Bradley and Russian Marshal Ivan Konev, toasting various American and Russian leaders, included a toast to Novikoff.
Finally, a couple more war-time era "cards". After winning the World Series in 1943, the Yankees put out a stamp album. These are a couple of stamps from the set, including Hall-of-Fame manager Joe McCarthy.
Finally, one other interesting item in the lot. It's a Yankee Stadium ticket! I don't collect tickets, especially from games I didn't go to, but it's an interesting oddball collectible to have. I did a little research online but can't figure out when it's from - my best guess is early 1980s.

OK, so this really isn't that bad a lot for $20. I'm certainly having fun with it. I do plan to be a bit more careful going forward though.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Vintage backgrounds: 1968 Topps Jim Brewer

No great insights here, just a fun card with a lot going on in the background. You don't see too many people in street clothes on vintage cards, at least as prominently as the man (well, half of the man) on the left. Meanwhile on the right, another photographer taking another baseball card photo? Or someone using binoculars to check out the early-arriving fans? This is Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia, with the Ballantine Beer scoreboard and Longines clock prominent in the background.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Wallet Card at Lynn's

 In front of the door of the Our Holy Redeemer Thrift Shop at 23 West Merrick Road in Freeport, NY, "Lynns" is embedded into the sidewalk. Lynns was a discount clothing chain with several locations in New York and New Jersey in the 1960s.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

1981 Topps Jerry Turner


The front: Turner looks proud to be in yellow and brown as he stands in the dugout by the helmet rack.

The back: Turner had a monster year for AAA Hawaii in 1975, hitting .329 with 11 HR and 91 RBI in 142 games.

The player: Outfielder Jerry Turner played ten years in the major leagues, mostly for the Padres. In 733 games he hit .257 with 45 HR and 238 RBI.

The man: Since his playing career Turner was a scout and a pro and youth baseball coach, most recently for the MLB Alumni Association youth clinics.

My collection: I have 13 of his cards, from 1975 to 1983. I would be interested in trading for 1982 Topps Traded #121.

Monday, March 15, 2021

1986 Sportflics Decade Greats Charlie Gehringer


On-the-field: Second baseman Charlie Gehringer was a model of consistency. He earned the nickname "The Mechanical Man" from Yankees pitcher Lefty Gomez, who said "You wind him up in the spring and he goes all summer. He hits .330 or .340 or whatever, and then you shut him off in the fall". Gehringer, who played in the first six All-Star Games, hit .320 with 2,839 hits, 184 HR and 1,427 RBI over his 19 year career, all with Detroit. Statistical highlights included 1929, when he led the AL in hits, doubles, triples and stolen bases; 1936, when he hit 60 doubles, and 1937, when he hit .371. In 1935 he hit .375 against the Cubs to help the Tigers win the World Series.

Off-the-field: "The Mechanical Man" could also be used to describe Gehringer's personality. Teammate Mickey Cochrane said  "Charlie says `hello' on Opening Day, `goodbye' on closing day, and in between hits .350." He worked just as hard off the field as on it. Off-season jobs included working as a sales clerk at Hudson's, a well-known Detroit department store, and barnstorming with major league and Negro League players (Satchel Paige said Gehringer was the toughest white hitter he ever faced). His playing career ended in 1942 at which time he enlisted in the Navy. Later in the decade he began a successful career in the auto parts industry, marketing innovations in upholstery and interior materials. Gehringer did not marry until after his baseball career, as he lived with and cared for his ailing mother. He skipped his Hall of Fame induction in 1949 to prepare for his wedding.

My collection: I do not have any playing-days cards of Gehringer. His last card as an active player was 1941 Play Ball #19.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Cards that were almost free

 I picked a few cards from the latest "Almost Free Card Friday" from Cards as I See Them. Here is the rather eclectic mix I chose:

A Yankee card, a couple of Texeira cards (the Studio is actually clear), an Upper Deck Johnny Bench, an OPC, two Topps Big Leagues, and two colorful parallels. Fun stuff!

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Bob and Jim

Jon of Penny Sleeve for your Thoughts is collecting every copy of the 1961 Topps Billy Muffett card. I got one in a recent purchase and sent it his way. In return he sent me two very nice 1958 cards. Bob Taylor and Jim Bolger - two midwestern guys on midwestern teams. Taylor is a rookie card of a guy who played 11 years in the majors. 

Friday, March 12, 2021

Cardboard cousins: 2001 Upper Deck Decades 1970s and 1974/1975 Topps

 The 2001 Upper Deck Decades set was one of the first times Upper Deck ripped off vintage Topps designs. I was actually able to find a few good combos here.

#70 Mike Schmidt/Bobby Bonds. I like the way the colors work here. Schmidt (138) and Bonds (134) were #1 and #2 in strikeouts in the NL in 1974.

#61 Steve Garvey/Dave Winfield. Two all-time great Padres. Garvey is shown in a Dodger uniform on a card with Padres colors. In 2018 the two teamed up with Amgen and Don Baylor Jr. for a multiple myeloma campaign, Myeloma MVP. Multiple myeloma was the disease that killed Don Baylor.
#52 Darrell Porter/Robin Yount. This is the best combo here - same team, somewhat similar pose, matching border colors. The two were teammates from 1974 to 1976.
There was also a subset that used the '74 design. #158 matches up two members of the 1977 Reds starting rotation.