Friday, April 29, 2022

Baseball card stories from Jeff Heaverlo

The son of former major leaguer Dave Heaverlo, Jeff Heaverlo pitched in the Mariners and Angels organizations from 1999 to 2006. His best season was 2001, when he went 11-6 with a 3.12 ERA at AA San Antonio. Overall in 162 games he went 41-33 with a 4.32 ERA. He kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"I remember 3 guys always asking for us to sign cards after games (same guys every night) with a stack of cards. I signed one of each and thanked them for coming out to watch. After a 4 or 8 game stretch and the same people were there every night, I had to politely decline. 

I was also photographed wearing a tie-dye jersey for a card. Rather embarrassing! 

 My favorite card is Walt Weiss 1989 Topps card!!! He looked like a tank. He’s my favorite position player of all time given the fact I was born when my dad pitched for Billy Martin in Oakland in ‘78. 


David Cone is who I wanted to be like. The only cards I collect were of my put in the spikes of my bicycle to make it sound like a motorcycle."

Thanks! Here is a card of him from my collection.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

A Year of Topps Designs: 1960

Topps put out three sports set in 1960 with three quite different designs. In baseball, they put out what would be their last horizontal set. There was a large color photo with a smaller black-and-white photo in more of an action pose. The player's name is in alternating colors which I personally find hard to read. The football set is a great, understated design which really highlights the photograph.

Hockey went with a very different route, with only the player visible on a background of colored boxes.

Looks like Topps was pretty quiet on the non-sport front. The only one I see is a "funny valentines" set. The reverse of each card was a nasty comment. This one was a bad breath joke. Each illustration was different so there wasn't really a unified set design.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Wood vs Wood #90

Last time the '62 card beat the '87 card in voting, 7-0. Back-to-back shutouts for the vintage guys. Let's see if '87 can get on the board this time.

Jim Piersall was one of baseball all-time characters, enough that there was a movie made about him in 1957, Fear Strikes Out, about his battle with bipolar disorder. (I remember watching it in high school psychology class. We watched a lot of movies in that class.) It was based on Piersall's autobiography but Piersall said it was a distortion. His antics including spraying home plate with a water pistol, hiding behind the Yankee Stadium monuments, and running the bases while facing backwards for his 100th career home run. He was also involved in numerous fights on and off the field. Piersall actually had a pretty good career, lasting seventeen seasons, mostly for the Red Sox and Indians. He led the AL in doubles in 1955 and had 256 in his career, as well as a lifetime .272 average with 104 HR and 591 RBI. Later a coach and an announcer, he died in 2017.

Nobody's made a movie about Dave Stieb, but there's a pretty popular YouTube documentary about him and I've seen his cards pop up on the blogsphere a lot lately. Stieb was a very good, though rarely great, pitcher for the Blue Jays in the 1980s, best known for several near-miss no-hitter before finally acheiveing the feat in 1990. That documentary is apparently a call for Stieb to be voted into the Hall of Fame. In his sixteen year career he went 176-137, with 1,669 strikeouts and a 3.44 ERA. That's a very nice career but not Hall-of-Fame worthy, especially considering that he never won 20 games in a year or struck out 200 batter in a year. None of his ten-most similar comps on Baseball Reference are in the Hall; he's most similar to Virgil Trucks and Ken Holtzman, which seems about right. Stieb now works as a building contractor in Nevada.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Hey, Abbott!

In another recent giveaway, The Angels In Order put some Jim Abbotts up for people to claim. Abbott was a big free agent signing for the Yankees after the 1992 season and was largely a disappointment, but had one big highlight with his September 4, 1993 no-hitter. He had a lot of great cards. I picked a couple of SP card, one with the Yankees, and the other a rare pitcher-hitting card. 1996 SP sure is an underrated set. Finally, I picked a 1990 Topps rookies card, it's a junk wax set I somehow still haven't completely finished.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Art on the back: 1972

There were no cartoons on the backs of 1971 Topps. Instead, Topps experimented with black-and-white head shots of each player. I guess the experiment was considered a failure, as photos of the player were not seen on the backs of Topps cards for another 22 years. (Perhaps it was considered too expensive to pay for twice as many photos?)

So, cartoons were back in '72, but were given very little real estate, just a bit of the top right corner. The subjects were random baseball trivia, usually not related to the player on the card. The combination of the small space for the drawing and the repetitive subjects make this set a far cry from the great cartoons of '69 and '70 (and '73).

There were several topics that were repeated on multiple cards. The "monkey suit" was particularly noticeable, as it appeared on two backs just five cards apart.

Occasionally the cartoon was about the player on the card, which made for a weird circumstance for Tug McGraw's card. I can understand why they thought the real reason for his "Tug" nickname was inappropriate for a card, but why bother making a cartoon for a made-up reason? Or was this "tugged on his toys" story more widespread in '72?

Here are a few more interesting cartoons I found as I squinted at the backs of my '72s.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Hollywood bit players on baseball cards: Part 19

Today's bit player is a famous baseball player, but went against type by playing a football player in his one big acting role. Here he is in 1979's TV Movie Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, where he played wide receiver Kyle Jessop, the love interest of a cheerleader played by Ellen Bry.

Other than an uncredited appearance in the 1985 baseball movie The Slugger's Wife, his only other acting credit was in the 2015 movie Walt Before Mickey, where he played the father of a child actress.

It's former Yankees star Bucky Dent! His legendary hot streak of October 1978, with the playoff-winning home run against the Red Sox followed by an MVP performance in the World Series against the Dodgers, catapulted the young shortstop into instant fame, including the opportunity to appear in this TV movie.

Best known as a Yankee, he started and ended his career with other AL teams. Here are my first and last cards of this "Cowboys wide receiver".

Cards from It's Like Having My Own Card Shop

I got a very nice PWE from It's Like Having My Own Card Shop. One vintage card but it's a biggie. Reggie! The card looks great in person; the blur in the background and in the front add to the action feel. The back tells about how he stole home to tie an ALCS game but got hurt and had to miss the World Series.

Now the only cards, other than high numbers, that I need for the '73 set are two All-Time Leaders cards, Bob Gibson, Willie Mays, and of all people, Glenn Borgmann.

Daniel also sent some needs for my 1990 Leaf set. Three Hall-of-Famers and a Hall-of-Namer (great name).


Friday, April 22, 2022

Dick Lange on baseball cards

Dick Lange pitched for the Angels from 1972 to 1975. In 70 games (31 starts) he went 9-15 with a save and a 4.47 ERA. Now a real estate agent at Real Estate One in Clinton Twp, MI, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"I have three cards, plus 1 card from AAA Salt Lake City Gulls and 1 from Caracas Leones. I do not collect cards and the most interesting thing about cards is getting a request from a collector from Japan."


Thursday, April 21, 2022

Cards and vintage stuff: May 1, 1946

Less than a year after World War II, the U.S. was still helping Europe recover, approving a loan to France while discussing downsizing the number of troops stationed in Austria. The first of May was still a major holiday for organized labor. One of the largest industrial strikes in Australian history commenced this day, while in New York the first May Day parade in five years featured over 3,000 veterans in uniform. You can watch video of the parade here.

Also on that date, The White Turkey Inn in Danbury, CT reopened after being closed during the war. Located in the 1760s home of Revolutionary War veteran John Gregory, the restaurant maintained it's Colonial atmosphere. You can find a menu and newsletter announcing the reopening here. There were also three White Turkey Inns in Manhattan: at 12 East 49th St (off 5th Av); 220 Madison Ave (at 37th St) and One University Place (at Washington Square). 

Amid festivities in Manhattan and Danbury, there was joy in the Bronx too, as the Yankees scored early and often on the way to a 6-3 victory over Cleveland. Tommy Henrich was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and four RBI, including a three-run home run off future Yankee Allie Reynolds in the fourth inning. Red Ruffing pitched a complete game victory for the Bombers.


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Vintage backgrounds: 1973 A's

 A couple of A's cards that stuck out to me going through this set . . .

It looks like those are little leaguers on the back of Rollie Fingers's card. Maybe that's their coach in the red shirt? As fun as it must have been for them to be on a major league field, how much cooler if the next year they opened up packs of cards and saw this?

Not really a background thing here, but I thought it was neat how the A's arranged their team photo with alternating green and yellow jerseys. 1972 was the year the A's debuted this iconic look. Meanwhile, the managers and coaches wear white jerseys and hats. Of course, one guy (traveling secretary Tom Corwin?) had to stand out with a red striped shirt and maroon pants.


Tuesday, April 19, 2022

1981 Topps Rick Manning


The front: It's a bit unusual for the player in the posed shot to be looking away from the camera that way. It's either Yankee Stadium or Tiger Stadium, not sure which.

The back: Manning was one of four Indians to hit seven sacrifice flies in 1979. The other three were Gary Alexander, Bobby Bonds and Andre Thornton.

The player: Rick Manning was a speedy centerfielder with a good glove and an OK bat. Playing for mostly mediocre Cleveland and Milwaukee teams, he played in 1,555 games, hitting .257 with 56 HR, 458 RBI and 168 SB.

The man: Manning's promising career was somewhat derailed by a back injury in 1977 that hurt the Indians in multiple ways. Manning never hit as well after the injury. In early 1978, he stayed at the home of his friend and teammate Dennis Eckersley while recuperating. While there he had an affair with Dennis's wife Denise, which led to the Indians trading the future Hall-of-Famer to Boston for four players who never did much for Cleveland. (Denise later divorced Dennis, married Rick and divorced him too). After his playing career, Manning became an announcer. He joined the Cleveland broadcast booth in 1990 and remains there to this day. His 32+ years announcing for Cleveland is a team record.

My collection: I have 41 of his cards, from 1976 to 1988. I would be interested in trading for 1976 Hostess #12.

Monday, April 18, 2022

1986 Sportflics Decade Greats Ralph Kiner


The player: Ralph Kiner was one of the best one-dimensional players in baseball history. Kiner came up with the Pirates in 1946 and led the NL with 23 home runs in his rookie year. However, he hit only .247 and struck out a league high 109 times, and was in danger of returning to the minors with a slow start in 1947. However, that season the Pirates had acquired veteran slugger Hank Greenberg, a move which would help the young slugger in two ways. Greenberg spent many hours teaching the young Kiner the finer points of hitting, greatly improving his overall game. Also, the team greatly shortened the distance to the left field fence. That area was originally called "Greenberg Gardens" but later became known as "Kiner's Korner" as Kiner used that field change to his advantage. Kiner led the NL in home runs in each of his first seven seasons, 1946-1952, including a career-best 54 home runs in 1949. After the 1953 season, in a typical Pirates cost-cutting move, Kiner was traded to the Cubs. However, back injuries prevented Kiner from reaching the same levels of success in Wrigley, though he did hit 50 home runs over two seasons with the team. He was traded to Cleveland and played one season there before retiring. Because of his short career and rather pedestrian .279 career average, Kiner was not elected to the Hall of Fame until his final year of eligibility, 1975.

The man: Kiner enlisted in the Navy the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked, and accumulated 1,200 flying hours in anti-submarine missions. After his playing career Kiner became a broadcaster, joining the Mets in their first season, 1962, and staying with them through the 2013 season, one of the longest broadcasting careers in history. Kiner and his postgame show "Kiner's Korner" were cornerstones of New York sports television for decades, and he was beloved by generations of Mets fans. (The very young Kiner in one of the photos on this card looks so different from the older gentleman most New Yorkers are familiar with.) He died in 2014 at the age of 91.

My collection: I do not have any playing days cards of Kiner. His last Topps card was 1953's #191, while his last career as an active player was 1955 Bowman #197.

Art on the back: 1970

The 1970 back design is very similar to the 1969 design, including the big space for the cartoon.

(Hal's dad, Max Lanier, was a former major leaguer and appeared in the '52 set.)

All Stars got the treatment that the managers got in '69, with a portrait to go along with a cartoon. The artist has a very distinct style, as can be seen in the batter swings. My first thought whenever I see this card is that Snoopy is walking on the left side of the card. Do you see it too?

Sometimes the artist repeated a joke, like here with two pool-playing Williams. (Horton and Sudakis)

And here are two very similar cartoons that appeared on back-to-back cards. (I looked up Kranepool and Swoboda's restaurant. It was in Amityville, L.I., right near Kranepool's listed home address in South Farmingdale. (Swoboda is listed as living in Syosset, which is a little further away.)

There were a LOT of fun and/or interesting cartoons in this set. Here are some that stood out to me.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

A Year of Topps Designs: 1957

1957 was an important year in trading card history, with the introduction of the standard size of card, one that still stands to this day. I have cards from the Topps baseball and football sets of '57. The football set is reminiscent of the baseball sets of '55 and '56, with solid color background and a portrait and action shot. Baseball, however, went with a new look. It was not nearly as artistic, but instead highlighted the full-color photography.

The hockey set was very similar to the football set. Big blocks of color, and either an action shot or portrait (usually a portrait). 

Basketball, however, was like baseball with the emphasis on photography.

The layout of the basketball design, with a simple box inside the photo area, was repeated with minimal variety throughout the company's various non-sport sets in '57.

Hit Stars featured various music and movie stars.

Isolation Booth was a quiz-show style trivia set.
Planes was a celebration of aircraft.
Robin Hood featured photos from the TV series.
Finally, Space featured real and imagined images of space exploration.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Nickel chrome

Not something I'd do every time, but once in a while . . . I picked up a lot of 30 2019 Topps Chrome cards for $1.40 shipped. Less than a nickel apiece. I don't totally get the appeal of Chrome. What is the purpose of the outline of the player, for example? I like to get a few from each year but don't feel the need to complete the sets.

Some fairly big names in the lot. Not huge stars but nice to have.

Two dupes as trade bait. You have the Yankees' current third baseman and the guy who will be called up to replace him when he is inevitably hurt.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Mateo Miramontes on baseball cards

Mateo Miramontes was the Mets' sixth-round pick in 2003 and pitched in their organization for three years, before his career was shortened due to injuries. His best season was 2004, when he went 1-0 with a 3.14 ERA for the Gulf Coast Mets. Now the head baseball coach at Monte Vista High School in Danville, CA, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"I collected cards as a kid just like everyone else. The big find I had was my mom came home with a couple uncut sheets of cards. I thought it was the coolest. Hung on my wall through college. Since then I have my own cards from my playing days and a couple of my buddies who played pro ball as well. Really I just keep them as a memory of a great time in my life of getting to play ball at a high level with some really great people."



Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Cards from The Angels in Order giveaway

The Angels, in Order recently had a giveway and I claimed a few cards.

I find myself gravitating to modern cards of vintage players in these giveaways. The Pujols card if shinier than it looks in the photo. It actually looks really good in person. The other three were just nice adds to various 90s/early 00s parallel or insert sets.

Thanks Tom!

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Trade with Cards as I See Them

I was able to find a few cards for Cards as I See Them in my recent Dodgers haul. In return he sent me a fun, eclectic mix of vintage and modern cards.

From the 1960s: Just a few days ago I had gotten the '63 Eli Grba with Ryne Duren's photo on it. Now I've got the actual Duren from that set.

Early '70s: Gary Gentry was a rookie star on the '69 Mets, winning 13 games. But Topps wasn't getting new photos in, so they had to use an airbrushed minor league photo. Thankfully there were all-new photos in '71. I'm intrigued by the sign learning against the wall in the back of Steve Kealey's card. I wish I knew what it said.

Two '73 high numbers as I get closer to completion on this set! Just 36 cards to go, 30 of them high numbers. Some fun backgrounds here.

Starting the modern cards with some '07 UD set needs.
GCRL posted this recently on his blog. He pointed out that the other guy (John Patterson?) is holding a glove with Matt Williams's name on it. That's got to be pretty unusual. They are also wearing different jerseys. A spring training workout? With the card in hand, I also noticed Williams's goofy smile in the insert photo. What a great card.
Finally, two cards of the two Captains. I especially love the Mattingly's, as they are both from sets that I already really liked, so I'm very happy to get cards from them of my favorite player.