Tuesday, August 31, 2021

1980 TCMA - Millers and Tides

 I got two team sets from the 1980 TCMA set, the classic red-bordered design.

Holyoke Millers (Brewers)

Most of the cards look like they were taken in a residential neighborhood, with people's houses clearly visible, or just off the parkway.

This shortstop was 6-2, 175 pounds, so probably not known as Pudge.

This second baseman hit 4 home runs in 651 minor league games, so probably was never called "Big Hurt".

But this is the Kevin Bass that starred for the Astros in the late '80s. The Brewers traded him for Don Sutton.

I was intrigued that there were two Asians on the Millers, at a time when they were a rarity in American pro baseball. Seems to be a bit of a coincidence that they were on the team at the same time; Ogawa was a Japanese league veteran who tried to make it in the US but struggled at AAA. Ako was American; a Hawaiian schoolboy sensation in the 1970s who pitched professionally for a couple of years.

Tidewater Tides (Mets)

Several players in this set went on to notable careers.

Mookie Wilson cards are always fun.

Mike Scott was another member of that team who became pretty prominent, was a big star for a short time. He was on enough cards that I remember what he looked like, and I'm pretty sure this isn't him.

Closing out with some Oscar Gamble-like hair from Jose Moreno.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Off-grade vintage fun

 I was able to get another little lot of vintage for a quarter a card. Naturally, at this price, the cards were in rough shape, but that's OK by me. In most cases, I'll trade the best-conditioned version of a card I have already.

Some '68s with ragged cuts along the edges, almost like they were cut out of a cereal box. Davidson and Merritt were needs for me, the others are available for trade.

One stray '67 here, the rest are '66s, some of which are ragged too, others have writing on the front or back. Some moderately big names for trade (McCarver, Allen, Bauer, Roy White rookie). Five of the '66's were needs for me, including one high-number.
Getting into the better stuff now. Almost all the '64s were glued to an album or something and the backs are almost completely glued over. Still, Robin Roberts and especially Willie McCovey are great finds for a quarter! And I can always go to TCDB if I really want to read the backs. Got four other '64 needs here. The rest are available for trade.
These were all keepers, all great early '50s finds for a quarter each. The '51 Bowmans all were album glue casualties. The fronts look great though. The '53 Mitchell is trimmed. The damage to the '56 Walker is obvious but almost all my '56s are in rough shape. The mystery Tiger is Ike Delsing, but Bowman didn't always put names on the front so who cares that his name was erased?

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Mind Reader

 Recently Cards as I See Them posted some cards that he got at a card show that he wasn't necessarily interested in keeping. I expressed interest in some of the Heritage News Flashbacks and some Yankee cards, and he said he'd send a few of them my way in exchange for some of his mini-collection needs.

He didn't specify which ones he was sending, and I didn't mention that the ones that I was most interested in were the '66s. So I was quite happy to see that he read my mind and this quartet was in there:

A fun mixture of '60s pop culture, with some almost everyday-looking people mixed in with the colorful Hendrix and Batman.

He sent a few more great cards too, even sneaking in a '73 high number need:

Justin Jacobs on baseball cards

Infielder Justin Jacobs played in the Rangers organization in 2017 and 2018. In 128 games he hit .269 with 7 HR and 52 RBI. Now a coach in the Rangers organization, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"I’m not much of a card collector, and don’t think I have any good stories about cards. I only had a few cards made for me while I was in Single A. Definitely was a cool experience seeing my name on a baseball card."



Friday, August 27, 2021

Baseball card stories from Brian Schwerman

Brian Schwerman pitched in the Pirates organization from 1976 to 1978. His best season was 1976, when he went 1-3 with a 4.75 ERA for Niagara Falls. Now the President of Dura Wax Janitorial Supplies in McHenry, IL, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"Growing up Topps baseball cards were treasured.  They were 5 cents for a pack and getting a box of 20 packs (a whopping dollar) for your birthday was the greatest gift a ten year old boy could get.  And that gum!!!  Baseball cards were some of the best memories I have as a child. My friend of 58 years and I still talk about them.  In fact, he still has a collection that dates back to the “bread cards” from his dad’s era.  It is worth thousands of dollars.  Little did I know that when I was 17 years old that I would get drafted and sign a contract with Topps for $5 to give them the rights to my name and picture to place on a card. I still have that check today as I thought my kids or grandkids would want it someday.  Unfortunately they do not see it the same way I do. 

I am very partial to the cards of the 1969 Cubs having grown up living and dying with my favorite baseball team.  Can’t beat the 60’s cards of Ernie Banks and Billy Williams. 

Having played for the Pirates and my best friend growing up being a Pirates fan, I love any card with Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell on it. Again, little did I know that as a 12 year old that someday I would be on the same field with Stargell and Dave Parker pitching batting practice in spring training. It was a dream come true for me.

I am one of those millions of kids whose mom threw all of their cards away.  I have a few cards of my own from the minor leagues that I hope my 3 month old grandson will want.  But who knows? 

My biggest regret happened in 1977.  Mickey Mantle came to my team in Charleston SC to put on a hitting display before our ballgame (he did this back then because he needed any money he could make).  He came into our clubhouse and sat 5 feet across from me to get dressed.  I can still remember staring at his physique as he took his shirt off. I only wish I had a card of his then but I was in too much awe to even ask for his autograph. I really blew that one."


Thursday, August 26, 2021

Vintage star power from Wax Pack Wonders

 I sent some Donruss puzzle pieces to Wax Pack Wonders, and he responded with a really generous return package. Now what I sent him were early '80s puzzle pieces, including one complete puzzle, so it wasn't junk wax, but this is still a really nice return:

This is what I thought I was getting, which certainly would have been a fine return all by itself - four vintage hall of famers!

But Jeff threw in a lot more, with several '70s needs (Darwin is a mini) and my first 2020 Series II.
And three cards that are much older! The '63 Tebbetts is practically pack fresh. And two 1955 cards - kids had some nice designs to choose from that year.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Super cards from Dime Boxes

 Dime Boxes Nick sent me some great cards this week. The trade was kicked off when Nick offered up a couple of '71 Topps Supers on his blog. Here they are:

Bill Freehan passed away last week, probably while this card was in transit. Glenn Beckert passed away last year. I'd never seen Topps Supers before, and I assumed they were just oversize baseball cards like '64 Topps Giants. However, they are much thicker, almost like cardboard coasters. They even make a "clank" sound when they bang together.

 Nick sent a lot more cards than these two.  Here are four magazine-themed cards. The bottom two are from a 1998 Fleer set commemorating Sports Collectors Digest.  The top right card is a modern Topps Magazine card, apparently Topps revived the magazine. The top left is an original Topps Magazine card from 1990. There was another 1990 Topps Magazine card but I didn't recognize it as such when putting together the photo because it was just Bob Welch in a 1960 Topps design, I figured it was just one of the many modern sets where Topps rehashes their card designs. Kind of lazy of Topps to always be doing that. If they're not careful, MLB might get tired of their laziness and give someone else the card license . . .

Nick sent some great vintage! The Babe Ruth card is from '73 Topps. Sparky Lyle is a high number. And there's a Jim Kaat rookie! In fact, there's two cards of him doing the same pose ten years apart.
Some minor league fun!
Yankees! Including current Yankees Gallo and Stanton. The Stanton card is a really nice one from something called 2017 Topps On Demand. The front is not shiny but the back is. Yankees currently have an 11-game winning streak, first time since August/September 1985. That team followed up their streak with an 8-game losing streak that pretty much doomed the season, though they almost came back. Let's see if they can avoid that this time.
Lots more shiny, oddball, fun cards . . .

. . . and this mysterious one. It looks like a mid-1980s Topps All Star card but notice there is no name on it. The back is blank. Anyone know what it is? Maybe a custom?


Tuesday, August 24, 2021

1983 Daytona Beach Astros/1982 Tucson Astros

 A couple of black-and-white TCMA sets. The further back these cards go, the more Astros-heavy they become.


Monday, August 23, 2021

PZAZZ! Motor Inn Presents . . . . . . The 1983 Burlington Rangers

This is a fun three-card into to an otherwise typical minor league card set. Part of the big box of minor league cards I got for $25.

Times have changed - the PZAZZ! Motor Inn is now the PZAZZ! Resort Hotel. In 1983 the area was mostly restaurants but now there are casinos and an amusement park.

The set was part of a larger Midwest League set produced by Larry Fritsch Cards, a card selling business that still exists today. The design and photo selection are very reminiscent of the Cramer PCL cards. I highlighted a few cards that show some more personality than the others.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

1984 Cramer PCL (continued)

I didn't mean to split this set into two posts, but somehow I managed to miss two teams in yesterday's post.

The Portland Beavers! (Phillies) If you haven't already, check out the All-Time Portland Beavers Project. Notable names here include Rick Schu, a name I liked since I was a kid, Steve Jeltz, the Boba Fett of baseball (after his career he became a bounty hunter), and blogger favorite Darren Daulton.

Las Vegas Stars (Padres). I'm the only one but I like yellow cards. John Kruk is everyone's favorite including Cramer's - he's the only player with two cards in the set. Two future World Series winning managers here too, with Ozzie Guillen and Bruce Bochy.


Saturday, August 21, 2021

1984 Cramer Pacific Coast League set

Other than the cards I showed yesterday, these were the newest cards in the box. It is a complete 250 card set, but out by Cramer Sports Promotions, the company that eventually became Pacific. The set is organized by teams, with a few extras at the end that I guess were late insertions. In the box I bought, the team sets were all over the place, and the more notable names were in a different part, so it was a while before I realized there was a complete set in there.

Here is each set, with a couple of cards highlighted for each one.

Edmonton Trappers (Angels) - not too much of interest here. My eye was drawn to the big McDonald's sign behind Marty Kain, and the fans lounging with their feet up behind Steve Finch.

Hawaii Islanders (Pirates) - One thing I like about junkwax-era minor league cards that wasn't in much supply with the vintage cards was goofiness. Chuck Hartenstein laughing on the phone really stands out here. Also check out blogger favorite Bob Walk!
Albuquerque Dukes (Dodgers) - some notable names including Franklin Stubbs and a young Terry Collins.
Salt Lake Gulls (Mariners) - Danny Tartabull, Harold Reynolds, Ivan Calderon - some big names here.
Tacoma Tigers (A's). Mike Gallego sighting. Bruce Robinson's card is one of the more interesting in a set of mostly generic poses.
Tucson Toros (Astros). Early card of Glenn Davis. I like the Jamie Williams card, catcher at night, the minor league equipment in kind of rough shape.
Vancouver Canadians (Brewers) - Tom Candiotti and Doug Jones were the two best pitchers on the Indians in the late '80s, both were Brewers castoffs. A couple of Hall of Fame names with Bob Gibson and Frankie Thomas.
Phoenix Giants - notable cards include Rob Deer, Dan Gladden, and Tim Blackwell's mustache.


Friday, August 20, 2021

Arnie Costell on baseball and baseball cards

 Arnie Costell pitched in the Tigers, Yankees and Astros organizations from 1971 to 1975. His best season was 1973, when he went 1-4 with 2 saves for the Oneonta Yankees, striking out 42 batters in 39 innings. He is now a motivational speaker and mentor for MLB and NFL players, and an accomplished artist as well. I had a very enjoyable call with him today where he shared many stories about his baseball career, cards, and art.

On his career:

"I grew up on Long Island, in Wantagh. I went to MacArthur High School in Levittown. I threw harder than anyone I knew. We all played stickball as kids, couldn't afford little league. We played on an elementary school field, Seaman Neck School in Seaford. When we played they were blood games. The big kids would kick you off the court. When I was 12 I would I would make the 18 years olds play a challenge game. They couldn't hit me.

When I was coming out of high school they said I was throwing 102. Wasn't a question of mechanics (I was real wild), but when you love something . . . it's like my artwork, I never took a class, I'm colorblind, I just love it! I abused my talent, but we all did. I wish my talent had taken me farther. First round pick, thought too much of myself. You get humbled in a heartbeat. Jim Leyland was my first minor league manager. I heard him say a few years ago, "Verlander notwithstanding, the hardest thrower I ever saw was Arnie Costell." Very humbling to hear that.

I'm 69 years old, I've had 22 surgeries, Tommy John twice, hip, knee replacements, I still throw in men's leagues. Just asked to pitch again to some D1 kids. I threw yesterday, even thought it was 90 degrees out. I just love throwing a baseball. If I have an addiction, it's throwing a baseball. I just get a high from it, I relive my memories throwing against a ball."

 On baseball cards:

"I do artwork. This picture is the baseball card, I did images of myself in three different pitching forms on my website.

My most cherished moment from when I was invited to Tigers camp, was when Topps was taking my photo. Got a picture and $5 check. We all said we would keep the check. I still have it somewhere, wish I could find it. When I was having my picture taken I would stand from the stretch position, looked like I was taking a sign. 

When I was a kid everything was about flipping the baseball cards. Scale them up against the wall. Leaners, things against the wall. Talking about it brings back amazing memories. My mom would throw out my cards, probably threw out a million dollars worth.

A few years ago I saw one of my minor league cards. One of my friends had bought a bar. Right behind the beer pull was one of my minor league cards. They found it on the internet. I asked what they paid for it, they said $12. Soon after I got a card in the mail and they asked me to sign it. I am humbled and honored to get a request like that.

Someone sent me a card last year of myself, Billy Martin and Jim Leyland with the Tigers. Jim was one of my first minor league managers, I am very close to him to this day."

 On his favorite player:

"I am left handed and Jewish. Sandy Koufax was the ultimate! I once got to meet him at a sports dinner at Island Trees High School. I stood in front of him and I couldn't talk. One time he was a roving in the minor leagues, in Lakeland, Florida when I was with the Tigers.  I would emulate him, he was the ultimate of who I wanted to be! He comes down, everybody was so excited for me, knew how much he meant to me. When it was over, Jim Leyland calls me up and says, "Arnie, what did you think?" I told him "Jim, I don't remember a damn thing!" I felt like I was in the presence of a deity. He is above and beyond a human being. He is humble, great, everything they make him out to be and more. I would love to have the type of energy he had. You could understand how great he was. Not just the talent, that's not what made him great. It was his makeup that made him great. In November of 1966 when he retired, I was 14 years old, I cried. My mother heard the news first, didn't want to tell me. 

In high school I felt it was a disrespect to wear #32. In my first four games at MacArthur I three three no-hitters and a one-hittter. I wore #34 to be near him. His number should be retired in a higher league, not just MLB. When were kids trading cards I would always try to trade for them if someone got him before I did. I would trade Clemente, Aaron, Drysdale, Gibson to get a Koufax, I didn't care. Not for the money, I just wanted the Koufax. I even did a piece of artwork painting him, called “The Left Arm of G-d”. My brother says to me, that picture that you painted, it's the poster we had on our bedroom.

I did another painting of Koufax called “Dreams of a Young Left-Hander”. Notice at the bottom is a New York Mets hat. People kept saying to me I put on the wrong hat because I played for the Yankees. I tell them this is my dream and I always grew up dreaming of playing for the New York Mets."

Thanks! Here is his card from my collection:

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Early minor league cards: prologue

 If there was one area of cards that I really enjoy that has been seriously lacking in my collection, it is pre-1987 minor league cards. I've always been fascinated with them but owned very few. I got very lucky this week, buying a lot with not a lot of information but that seemed to have some older minor league card sets. I thought it might have a fair amount of pre-1987 minor league. It ended up being probably about 3/4 of an 800-count box, including what turned out to be a complete 250-card 1984 Frisch PCL set, and nine minor league team sets from the '70s, going back to 1973. I didn't even realize until a couple of days ago, when Night Owl posted a list, but it had two of the four oldest TCMA sets created. Really pretty amazing. I paid $25 for the lot which seems like a really good deal now that I've had a chance to look at the cards.

I will be spreading this out over several posts, so get ready for a lot of early minor league cards. For now, here is "what else" happened to be in the box.

Several 1990 Classic draft pick cards. Looks like they stole their back design from Donruss.

Some random major league cards. Apparently this guy was hoarding Carl Everett and Brien Taylor cards. I only needed the Skybox and Pacific Everett cards, the rest are available for trade.
Two copies of the 1992 ProCards Fort Lauderdale Yankees set - there's Everett and Taylor. The seller wasn't completely clueless - the Mariano Rivera card was missing from both. One set available to trade.

Same thing with the team-issued set that year. Again, an extra set to trade - possibly most of two sets. Again, no Rivera. I'm certainly fine with breaking the sets up.  I think there are some Brien Taylor collectors out there?