Monday, January 31, 2022

Hollywood bit players on baseball cards: Part 14

Today's actor had only one major screen credit, receiving fifth billing in football star Jim Brown's action film, Black Gunn. He plays a character named Sam Green. Colorful film title, colorful character name. The actor's name was a colorful one too. Recognize him (on the left)?

It's former Oakland A's star Vida Blue! Coming off of his breakout MVP season in 1971, Blue also appeared in a couple of episodes of Laugh In that year, but did not act beyond that. Here are his earliest and last Topps cards.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Cards and vintage stuff: April 26, 1962

The biggest news on Earth took place in space on April 26, 1962. The Americans crash-landed the Ranger 4 satellite onto the moon, the first time the US landed an object on the moon. Meanwhile, Ariel 1 launched, making it both the first British satellite and the first multinational space effort (US-UK). Planetside, other major headlines revolved around the business world, as US Steel and Bethlehem Steel were indicted for price-fixing, and the Packard car brand was officially ended.

Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce of West Philadelphia met at the Sheraton Motor Inn for their Twenty-First Annual Dinner. There is not much online about this organization, let alone the dinner, so it's a good time to answer a commenter's question from the previous post in this series. Rarity in matchbooks is very different than that in baseball cards. The number of matchbooks for an event like this would be quite small, equal to the projected number of attendees, presumably. For a relatively small dinner like this, perhaps 500 matchbooks tops. However, most individual matchbooks are "rare" compared to baseball cards that are printed by the hundreds of thousands. They might be done up for a local business or an event, and there would only be maybe a few dozen left in existence decades later. Most collectors collect certain "types" of matchbooks. For example the ones I like best are Long Island/NYC, sports, full-color photography, and notable brands. Some collectors might focus on casinos, low-digit telephone numbers, or one from every Holiday Inn. The only really "common" ones are those that were printed up nationally, such as supermarket sets, big chains like 7-Eleven or Wendy's, and business like correspondence schools that regularly used matchbooks as a form of advertising.

While the West Philadelphians were enjoying their Chamber of Commerce gathering, the local Phillies were having a rough time on the road in Milwaukee. The Phillies lost to the Braves 10-4. Unsurprisingly, the big blow was a three-run home run by Aaron. Surprisingly, the slugging Aaron was not Hank (who did manage a sacrifice fly) but little brother Tommie, who was a double short of a cycle, driving in four runs. On the Phillies' side, the only extra-base hit they managed that day was a double by Ruben Amaro.


From the eBay quarter box

This was a nice little auction that surprisingly nobody else bid on. Four cards for a dollar. Nice conditioned cards too.

Win Savers is from the 1960 set and I had it already. Nice bit of trade bait with some unsung heroes of the '59 White Sox pennant winners. The three red-background '58s were set needs though. The red cards look good together. But those Giants caps! The Giants had just moved to SF and Topps didn't know what their hats would look like.

Friday, January 28, 2022

Gustavo Molina on baseball cards

Catcher Gustavo Molina played nineteen seasons of professional baseball, including parts of four seasons in the major leagues with the White Sox, Orioles, Mets, Red Sox and Yankees. In 1,574 professional games he hit .234 with 119 HR and 598 RBI. Now the manager of the Reds' Dominican Summer League Team, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

- Do you have any stories about cards of yourself or of other players?  The first time I see a baseball cards of my self was a great feeling . It never crossed my mind ever but I had to sign like 2000 just to get a contract.
- Do you have a favorite card of yourself or of another player? I keep for couple of each model they make for me at home.
- Do you collect baseball cards? No


Thursday, January 27, 2022

Cristhian Martinez likes his baseball cards

Cristhian Martinez pitched for five seasons in the major leagues, with the Marlins and Braves. In 135 appearances, all in relief, he went 7-8 with a save and a 4.02 ERA. Now the pitching coach for the Mets' Dominican Summer League Team, he kindly replied to my questions about baseball cards.

"I have baseball card when I play and like it."


Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Vintage backgrounds: 1972 Topps Tom Phoebus

How many cards have a child on the field in the background? I imagine this must be one of the oldest such examples. One of the Padres talking to the little leaguer is #4, hitting coach Bob Skinner.


Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Wallet card with another Pepsi privilege sign

This is one of those posts that probably won't interest too many of you, but it's something I like. I really enjoy finding old Pepsi privilege signs that are still up after 40-50 years. There is a photographer on Flickr named Ben Hagen who has an unequaled eye for finding interesting details in the urban environment. He posted a photo of a Pepsi sign peeking behind another sign in Chelsea. Despite minimal clues I had a feeling I knew exactly where it was, a building on 7th Avenue and 22nd Street that has been boarded up for many years due to ownership disputes. When I was in the city last month I had a chance to check it out, and I was right! Not much to see but still a fun find for someone who "collects" sightings like these. This was back in mid-December, someone was using the vacant space to sell Christmas trees. I'll always enjoy opportunities to find bits of the past peeking into the present.

Monday, January 24, 2022

1981 Topps Johnny Oates


The front: Nice photo of a happy-looking Oates at Yankee Stadium. What grabs my attention is the bill of his cap. Looks like three stickers, two with whatever is on them crossed out. I looked at other photos of Oates and didn't see anything like that. Any ideas what they might be? (I could possibly see doing a future blog series about things on players equipment, like unusual messages on bat knobs, gloves, etc.)

The back: Oates lined out in his only plate appearance in the 1977 World Series. In 1978, he had two plate appearances, with a single and a walk.

The player: Oates was a defense-first platoon catcher for several teams from 1970 to 1981. In 593 games he hit .250 with 14 HR and 126 RBI.

The man: Oates went on to a long career managing, first for the Orioles and then for the Rangers, with whom he won three AL West titles. Oates resigned from the Rangers in 2001 and was considering a return to major league managing when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He passed away in 2004.

My collection: I have 13 of his cards, from 1972 to 1982. I would be interested in trading for 1978 SSPC #72.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

1986 Sportflics Decade Greats: Stan Musial


What a great card. The color photos, the batting helmet - this looks like it could be the 1970s or 1980s, a very modern look for an old-time player.

The player: Musial was "Player of the '50s" for this set, a deserved title, but Musial was so great he could have been a credible "Player of the '40s" as well. Between 1941 and 1963 Musial played in 3,026 games, hitting .331 with 475 HR and 1,951 RBI. His Navy service in 1945 kept him from reaching 500 HR and 2,000 RBI. A 20-time All Star, Musial won seven batting titles. It wasn't until 1959, at the age of 38, that he hit under .300 for a season. He scored over 100 runs a year from 1943 to 1954; topped 200 hits six times (and won hit crowns in two other seasons) and had ten seasons of 100+ RBI. He was a three-time MVP and helped the Cardinals win three World Series as a player.

The man: By all accounts Musial was an even better human being than he was a ballplayer. He was generous with his time and friendship in the St. Louis area, owning a restaurant with local restaurateur Biggie Garagani for decades, showing up every day to greet customers. He was one of the first players to stop advertising tobacco, and was credited by Jackie Robinson as one of the most supportive opposing players he faced. (When Musial was in high school in Donora, PA, he had a Black teammate and friend named Buddy Griffey, whose son and grandson went on to some impressive major league careers themselves.) In 1960 presidential candidate John F. Kennedy reached out to Musial to campaign for him, and the two developed a friendship. In 1964 President Lyndon Johnson named Musial his physical fitness advisor, a role he held until taking on the GM role for the Cardinals in 1967. Musial oversaw a world championship but felt the role wasn't for him and he resigned after the season, still the only person to win a World Series in his only season as GM. Musial was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2011. Two years later he passed away at the age of 92.

My collection: I do not have any playing-days cards of Musial. His last card as an active player was 1963 Topps #250.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

From the eBay dime box

There are a few eBay sellers who start their auctions at some price well under a dollar, with free shipping. They gamble that the low price will attract more eyeballs and drive up the price. I don't know how successful it is overall, but every one in a while I will place a bid and be surprised when I end up with the cards.

I bid on two five-card lots of current Yankees, Gleyber Torres and Giancarlo Stanton. I ended up winning the lots for 30 and 35 cents, respectively. So the seller threw them in a PWE and called it a wash, right?

Nope. They spent $5.15 on shipping, putting each one in a sleeve and toploader and wrapping them in cardboard. I feel like messaging the seller and suggesting that next time they ask the buyer if they just want it in a PWE, but I don't know if they would think it's rude. (They do sell lots of cards, this isn't someone who never sold cards before.)

Here are the cards I got. Hopefully Gleyber can bounce back from a rough 2020/2021. Stanton had a bit of a rough start for his Yankee career but he's gotten fully past that and is one of their most reliable hitters these days.

Another seller had a bunch of cheapo lots. I threw bids on a bunch of them, and ended up just with the one I was least interested in. Still, 60 cents for 7 big stars from the 1991 Pacific football set, which is a design I like quite a bit. I already had the Seau so that's up for trade. These did come in a PWE.


Friday, January 21, 2022

Route '66

I picked up a little lot of 1966 cards that was in my price range. All the cards are in the 300-399 portion of the set.

Here are the keepers for me. Most interesting card is certainly the Harry Walker. It looks like the photo was taken at the Astrodome, which might make it the earliest Topps card with a photo taken there? The back mentions his military service in World War II under General Patton.

Most of the cards I had already and are available for trade. All are commons, and in pretty decent condition.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Current cards with a little bit of vintage

In a few years cards from 2020, 2021, and maybe 2022 are going to be as plentiful as junk wax and will be turning up everywhere, as the flippers find it difficult to unload all those base cards and commons. 

I picked up a lot of 250+ for about ten bucks - it popped up on my radar because of a couple of vintage oddballs that were thrown in.

Most of it was from four brands that the owner presumably bought boxes of, flipped the best cards and didn't know what to do with the rest. There were about 50-75 cards each of:

- 2020 Topps Update. Boy, the reverse-backgrounds issue is annoying

- 2021 Bowman/Bowman Draft. The major league set is OK, gives another card for the league's regulars. The minor league cards will be more interesting in a few years when some of them start panning out.

- 2021 A&G. The non-player cards really aren't very good. Not sure which is worse, actors who were never close to being stars or instagram "celebrities". I personally wish the inserts were less biology-themed (lots of animals and plants) and had more historical/cultural themes.

- 2021 Heritage. I've never been quite on the '72 design bandwagon like a lot of other vintage fans. However the original set had much more photo variety than this one.

So my initial thoughts aren't that positive but I am sure I will find things to enjoy about them.

Fortunately this wasn't just a commons lot, there were plenty of stars within.
Here are some other cards that stood out to me. From the Matt Olson card I learned that he learned about baseball from his sixth grade teacher - Jeff Francoeur's mom. The Pettitte card is a serial numbered card #29/50. There are now retired cards of 21st century minor stars like Mark Buehrle. Too bad they got a bad photo that looks like he showed up to the park hung over. Most of the "In Action" cards aren't very dynamic. The Miguel Rojas card is a nice exception. And as a Star Wars fan I was glad to have a couple of "Far Far Away" cards even if they aren't actually Star Wars cards.
There were a few cards that were not from the pandemic era. Some junk wax of course, can't avoid that. Two really fun cards though in the Wes Chandler and Pedro Ramos. Ramos is my first vintage Kahn's card (1964). 1986 Topps football was the first sports card set I collected. I had several of those 1000 yard club inserts but not this one.

From the back of the Chandler and Ramos cards, I learn that Chandler got a third of his 1,199 yards in two games against the Seahawks, and that Kahn's was the Weiner the World Awaited.

But most interesting of all to me was these three 1977 RC Cola cans. Not really baseball cards of course but certainly related. Bert Campaneris, Mike Hargrove and Bill Madlock.

I was intrigued by a price tag on one of the cans. I couldn't see what it was in the eBay photos. Turns out it is Fred Meyer. Not a defunct brand like I was hoping, but still pretty cool as it's a regional brand we don't have in NY. (Two of the bottles have Oregon deposit information, though the eBay seller was in Florida.)
Here are the front of the cans. There are a few differences in the cans as you can see.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Bird, Ballpark, Boxing, Beatles and beyond from the Best Bubble

I got another surprise envelope from the ever-generous Best Bubble

Half of the cards in the envelope were some great on-card Yankee autographs from the early '80s. I don't know if it's intentional or not, but Bird's autograph actually looks like a drawing of a bird.

The Comiskey Park card is from a White Sox team-issued set from 1988. The Red Kleinow card is a 1982 Renata Galasso reprint of a 1911 Turkey Red card. And while I don't collect boxing, that Muhammad Ali card is pretty cool too.

This was the most interesting card in the package. It's a Beatles arcade card from the 1960s. It looks like the Exhibits arcade cards that vintage baseball collectors are familiar with. 

Exhibits did make Beatles cards but those were blank on the back. This one is not. Not sure who the manufacturer is for these. I've seen some references to Billboard, not sure if that is the magazine or a different company.

It wasn't until the last few years that I started appreciating the Beatles' music. This is a cool addition to my general "vintage stuff" collection.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

A Year of Topps Designs: 1979

1979 was the year of the ribbon for Topps's U.S. sports sets. I own examples from baseball, football and hockey.

The blue border really makes the hockey set stand out. The ribbon in that design stretches up and to the left from the round logo almost like a musical note. The football set re-uses the ribbon from the '73 design, just shortening it so it is only at the top of the card. Baseball, meanwhile, has a very simple design with the team name in a ribbon at the bottom.

I didn't have any '79 basketball. I wondered if they used a ribbon too? 

You bet! The entire design is just a big ribbon around a basketball. 

The other sports set (other than a very plain sticker set of U.S. soccer team logos) was a U.K. soccer set which, like other Topps U.K. soccer designs, used a previous U.S. football design, in this case the '78 design.

In 1979 there were several attempts to cash in on the Star Wars phenomenon with space-based movies and TV shows, and Topps produced cards for several of these. Disney's Black Hole was one of the least successful Star Wars ripoffs, and even the Topps design was a ripoff of their Star Wars design with the hand-drawn starfield.

James Bond got into the space race with Moonraker. Topps used a very bland design for this set.

The Star Trek design was only a little more interesting, with a teeny-tiny Enterprise in the bottom right corner. I didn't even notice it at first. Making the ship a little bigger would have made for a better-looking card.

More effort went into the design for the Buck Rogers set. The laser-field design was one of several jagged-edge designs that Topps put out in '79. From the back of this card I learned that Felix Silla was also Cousin Itt on the Addams Family. He was also a hang-gliding Ewok in Return of the Jedi. He passed away last year at the age of 84.

Another jagged-edge design for a space-themed set can be seen on the Alien cards. (Were these marketed to kids? I wonder how many Topps sets were made for R-rated movies.)

Jagged-edges were also at play for the hit TV show Incredible Hulk. Simple but effective.

One final set for Topps in '79 (other than the ubiquitous Bazooka Joe and Wacky Packages). Another simple but effective design, this one for Rocky II. It sure is cold out!

Monday, January 17, 2022

Art on the back: 1965

In 1965 Topps went for a very kid-friendly look for the card backs. Most players got a cartoon on the back, unless they were a veteran who needed a lot of space for their career statistics. In both cases the names were hand-lettered comic-book style, as can be clearly seen on the larger names for veteran players, like Nellie Fox whose name came out rather uneven.

The cartoons also have a very "childish" feel, in fact the ballplayers kind of look like children in a lot of cartoons. Most of it was pretty standard fare - players doing well on the field, changing teams, signing contracts, playing other sports in their baseball uniform (a lot of basketball this time around). Here are a few that stood out to me.

One unusually serious cartoon addressed Don Zimmer's famous beaning.

I noticed a couple of "error" cartoons. Ken Boyer's caption refers to this 1964 MVP win, but the cartoon shows him embracing a Yankee. Presumably the cartoon was originally going to be about Ken and his brother Clete, who both appeared in the '64 World Series, but at some point the caption was changed without changing the cartoon.

Bob Chance's caption talks about his high RBI total for the Indians. However, the leader of the line of ballplayers about to score is holding a sign saying "Chuck Sent Us". The text on the card mentions Chance getting traded for Chuck Hinton; the cartoonist appears to have confused Bob and Chuck.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Wood vs. Wood #78

Last time '62 won handily, 7-1. Who will come out on top this time?

Two very different visions of baseball here. One is a guy with no hat, a plain jacket, his hair blowing in the breeze, a lone tree behind him. The other is in a modern stadium, plastic grass, polyester uniform in bright colors. One thing the cards have in common is team names that are now defunct.

Gene Green played seven years in the major leagues for the five teams - St. Louis, Washington, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Baltimore. At various times a right fielder and a catcher, Green had a little power, could hit for a little average, but was incredibly slow. In the two seasons where he played over 100 games, he led his league in GIDP. Overall in 408 games he hit .267 with 46 HR and 160 RBI, grounding into 63 double plays. Green died at the age of 47 in 1981.

One of the few American baseball players of Japanese descent before 1995, Tom Foley was a middle infielder for 13 seasons for Montreal, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Known primarily for his glove, Foley hit .244 with 32 HR and 263 RBI in 1,108 games. He retired after the 1995 season and joined the front office of the newly-created Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He stayed in the Rays organization as a scout, coach and executive until he retired after the 2019 season. 

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Hollywood bit players on baseball cards: Part 13

Today's bit player made his acting debut in the 1982 classic Q, The Winged Serpent. If you like cheesy horror movies and early '80's NYC, like I do, then you will love this film. In this scene our actor, playing Detective Hoberman, fires at an ancient winged serpent from the nest the creature had made at the top of the Chrysler Building.

He appeared as a member of the house band in a 1987 episode of Murder, She Wrote. (He is the man on the far left.)

His final acting appearance was in a 1990 episode of Columbo, as a member of a regular poker game.

Surely you recognized blogger favorite Ron Cey! Cey did a fair amount of acting, though mostly after he left the L.A. Dodgers. He appeared as himself in quite a few 1980s TV shows: Pryor's Place, E/R, Hardcastle & McCormick, Simon & Simon. I guess he missed Hollywood after he joined the Cubs.

Here are my earliest and last cards of The Penguin.

Friday, January 14, 2022

1974 - done! 1976 - one to go!

I decided to use TCDB again to try to get my last few '74 and '76 needs. I had worked out a huge deal with one guy - got to the point where I had pulled 400 cards for him - then he just stopped answering me. Was still logging on to the site but he decided to just pull out of the trade and not even tell me. Fortunately I decided to give TCDB one more change. I recognized the name Turrdog - I had actually traded with him before! Unlike the other guy, the trade with Turrdog went very smoothly. I sent him a few needs, and he sent me these two fantastic cards! 

Mike Schmidt finishes off my '74 set. It's a classic card with the Phillies bullpen cart in the background. And the Yount almost takes care of my '76 set. It's a simple but classic pose.

The last card I need to finish off '76 is also a second-year player card - George Brett. If no readers have it, I'll hit the TCDB again. I've updated my sidebar with a few modern needs this time - mostly star cards for sets where I need one card left, plus a few starter sets I'd be interested in. 

Speaking of the sidebar - I use the "blog list" as my reading list. Each day I see what's new at the top of the list and click on those blogs. Lately when I've added a new blog they either don't show up or stay at the bottom of the list. Does anyone know how to fix that?

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Cards and vintage stuff: September 22, 23, 24 1959

News events of September 22-24, 1959 included a plane crash in France that killed 54 people, and the explosion of an Atlas-Able rocket on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, a bit of a setback for the US in the space race, as it gave the USSR the opportunity to be the first to photograph the far side of the moon. Nikita Khrushchev continued his US tour with a visit to Iowa, and the White Sox won their first pennant in 40 years.

The North Carolina State Fair was being held in Raleigh, and the Automatic Canteen company printed up matchbooks for their booth at the Southeastern Plant Engineering and Maintenance Show. Automatic Canteen was (and still is, without "Automatic" in their name) a leading vending machine company.

1n 1959 the team geographically closest to North Carolina was the Washington Senators. The Senators were winding up an eight place season with losses to the Yankees on the 22nd and 23rd, their last two home games of the season. Rookie star Bob Allison was a rare bright spot for Washington, with four hits including a home run.