Thursday, June 30, 2022

Classic cards and a classic card

Baseball Card Breakdown has been buying a few of the Classic sets from the late-80s/early-90s. He's been offering a lot of them for trade, and I picked up a few from a set that I somehow did not have any cards from before. It's from 1989 and has a really nice pink and blue design. It really stands out, I don't think I've seen any cards with this kind of color pattern before.

Classic had some nicer-than-average photography for the junk wax era. Their cards are kind of underrated.

While I had just asked Gavin about some Classic cards, he surprised me with this fantastic card too! Moose Skowron was the first baseman for the great Yankee teams of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Other than the Gehrig years, the Yankees have mostly won championships with solid-but-not-superstar first basemen: Joe Collins, Skowron, Chambliss, Tino, Teixiera. Maybe Rizzo next? Very cool to have an autographed card of a key member of the '61 Yankees.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Vintage Backgrounds: 1975 Topps

There are lots of interesting photos in 1975 Topps, which is kind of impressive considering there are very few on-field action shots, certainly less than in '73 or '74. Almost every photo has some kind of fun background, with interesting locations or players doing things in the back of the shot. However, in terms of blog material there's not a lot that hasn't been done already on other blogs or by me in posts on other sets. 

So I'll cover a couple of other things with this post. It's Like Having My Own Card Shop is running a contest where he's giving away some vintage cards, including a Sparky Lyle rookie card. Here's Sparky's '75 card. Looks like a spring training shot, right? I don't think so. I'm pretty sure this was taken in left field at Shea Stadium, the Yankees' home field in 1974 and 1975. Shea had almost no seats in the left field area until a small remodel around 1980. The see-through wall in the bullpen area, the green wall further on, and the two large poles also fit. For me the giveaway was the distinctive lightpoles, a very NYC style that was visible from the outfield (looking at the Shea parking lot).

Collecting Cutch is doing a blog bat around on cards of players wearing sunglasses. Sunglasses cards weren't as prevalent in the '70s as they would be in later years. Here's one that caught my eye. I'm 99% sure this is Shea Stadium too.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Wallet Card at an old Coca-Cola sign

Here's another old sign steps away from the birthplace of baseball in Hoboken. It's a Coca-Cola privilege sign, the kind that used to hang over restaurants and shops all over the country in the mid-20th century. This one hung in front of a coffee shop called Schnackenberg's, which operated from 1931 to 2019, and was not removed when the shop closed. I'm not sure if this sign actually goes back to the 1950s/1960s, but it was hanging in front of the shop as early as 1986. No matter how old it is, it certainly is a nice-looking sign.


Monday, June 27, 2022

1981 Topps Rick Rhoden


The front: Simple headshot at Shea Stadium. A red collared T-shirt is peeking out under Rhoden's uniform; that doesn't look like standard Pirates gear.

The back: Rhoden would hit a total of 9 HR in his career. Generally considered the best hitting pitcher of his era, for his career he hit .238 with with 9 HR and 75 RBI in 830 at-bats. He walked 17 times and struck out 114 times. The fact that the best hitting pitcher in the league put up numbers comparably to a weak-hitting middle infielder is as good an argument as any for the DH.

The player: Despite all the focus on his hitting, Rhoden was actually a very good pitcher. He won 38 games for the Dodgers from 1976 to 1978. He was traded to the Pirates for Jerry Reuss after the '78 season, and lost almost all of '79 to injury. He bounced back and became one of the most consistent pitchers in the league, while toiling for one of the worst teams in baseball. After an All-Star season in 1986 he became the subject of many trade rumors as the Pirates were in a rebuild. After the season he was traded to the Yankees for Doug Drabek. Drabek became a star for Pittsburgh while Rhoden was only OK for the Yankees (28-22, 4.09 ERA over two seasons). He ended his career with the Astros in 1989. Overall in 16 seasons he went 151-125 with 1,419 strikeouts and a 3.59 ERA.

The man: Rhoden was an excellent athlete besides his pitching and hitting prowess. Rhoden also excelled in basketball and golf. His skill at these sports is even more impressive when you consider that due to a childhood injury he wore a brace on his leg during all waking hours for four years, and his right leg is permanently bent inward at the knee. In 1990, after his retirement from baseball, he embarked on a career as a professional golfer. He has won 53 celebrity/athlete tournaments and has also played in US Senior Open and Champion Tour events. 

My collection: I have 62 of his cards, from 1975 to 1990. I would be interested in trading for 1988 Sportflics #104.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

1986 Sportflics Decade Greats - Lemon/Newcombe/Roberts


Bob Lemon originally came up with the Indians as a third baseman, appearing in five games each in 1941 and 1942. After three years in the Navy, he returned as the team's Opening Day center fielder in 1946. His diving catch on April 30th saved Bob Feller's no-hitter against the Yankees. However, Lemon was struggling at the plate, and several players who had played against him in the Navy convinced manager Lou Boudreau to move Lemon to the mound, where he had excelled in wartime ball. Lemon reluctantly agreed and quickly became a star. From 1948 to 1956 he was one of the best pitchers in the American League, winning at least 20 games in seven of those nine seasons. Overall in 13 seasons he went 207-128 with 1,277 strikeouts and a 3.23 ERA. After his career he managed three teams, most notably the Yankees for whom he famously became the calming presence the team needed when he joined in mid-1978 and led the comeback from 14.5 games out to a World Championship. He died in 2000.

Don Newcombe came up with the Dodgers in 1949 and immediately had a big impact, going 56-29 over his first three seasons. He lost his age-26 and -27 seasons to military service in Korea, but returned in 1954 and had his best two seasons in 1955 and 1956, going 47-12. After that he struggled to maintain his form, struggles that he later attributed to severe alcoholism. He spent some time in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Japan but never consistently returned to his original form. Overall in 12 seasons he went 153-96 with 1,187 strikeouts and a 3.57 ERA. After his playing career, he was able to conquer his alcoholism, and devoted much of his time to helping others do the same. He died in 2019.

Robin Roberts was probably the best pitcher in the National League during the first half of the 1950s. He won 20 games each year from 1950 to 1955, leading the NL in wins each year from 1952 to 1955, and in strikeouts in 1953 and 1954. In 1957 he turned 30, and he struggled to make the transition from power pitcher to finesse artist. After going 1-10 with the Phillies in 1961 he was released by the team, and he signed with the Yankees, who feared losing some pitchers to the military draft. He spent the first month of the '62 season with the Yankees but never appeared in a game. He was released by the Yankees and signed with the Orioles, and also spent time with the Astros and Cubs before retiring after the 1966 season. Overall in 19 seasons he went  286-245 with 2,357 strikeouts and a 3.41 ERA. Roberts was involved in a lot of different pursuits, including owning restaurants and being president of a frozen shrimp company while still an active big leaguer. After his career he owned a minor league hockey team, was a broker for Lehman Brothers, and coached the University of South Florida baseball team from 1977 to 1985. He died in 2010.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

A Year of Topps Designs: 1974

 In 1974, the overall theme at Topps seemed to be: take one element of each sport, and build a card around that.

I have cards from the baseball, football and hockey sets.

The football set works very well with the goalpost as a framing device. In hockey, they used a hockey stick as the left border. (Kind of like the '82 baseball set with the "hockey stick" in the same place. The bottom of the card foreshadows the '76 baseball set.) Baseball is a bit of a stretch with this theme, as pennant flags are less a part of the game then a bat or a ball.

Basketball fit the theme very well though:

Other than several series of Wacky Packages, it was a light year on the nonsports front, with just one set, for Evel Knievel. The US flag motif works pretty well as the "one design element".

Sports cards had a white background; nonsports had blue. The only other set Topps attempted to put out was a test set for the Six Million Dollar Man. Perhaps it tested poorly because it had no core design element?

Friday, June 24, 2022

Wood vs. Wood #97

 Last time, 1987 won, 6-3. Who will triumph this time?

Tito Francona is shown posing in the dugout. Not sure if it's spring training or the regular season. Note the big #14 on his sleeve - in the early days of baseball on TV a lot of teams went with extra large numbers so you could see them clearly on the small screen. Tito (real name John Patsy Francona) was a solid regular OF-1B for Cleveland. From 1959-1962 he hit at least .270 with 14 HR and 70 RBI each season, and he led the AL with 36 doubles in 1960. He slumped badly the following two seasons, but hung around until 1970 as the Cardinals, Phillies, Braves, A's and Brewers all took a chance on him to see if the old bat would return. Overall in 15 seasons he hit .272 with 125 HR and 656 RBI. After his career he was the Director of Parks and Recreation for New Brighton, PA. He is best known today as the father of Terry Francona, who now managed the team his dad once starred for. He died in 2018.

Glenn Wilson gets one of the most dynamic photos in the '87 set, once hand already coming off the bat as he looks like he's drilled a line drive to center field. It's a day game at Shea Stadium. This may be his RBI single to right off Dwight Gooden in the top of the first on April 19, Wilson's only hit in seven at-bats in two day games at Shea in '86. Like Francona, Wilson started his career with a few solid seasons as a regular outfielder, most notably 1985 when he hit .275 with 14 HR and 102 RBI for the Phillies, earning an all-star appearance. Like Francona, several teams gave Wilson a chance to revisit his early success, in his case the Mariners, Pirates, Astros, and Pirates again. Overall in ten seasons he hit .265 with 98 HR and 521 RBI. After his playing career he became a minister and a youth baseball coach. He shared some baseball card stories with this blog in 2012.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Art on the back: 1975

After two years of some of the best cartoons in the company's history, Topps dialed it down in 1975, going back to the old standby of general baseball trivia instead of items specific to the player. The primary artist is clearly the same one who did the 1970 set. A lot of the trivia was around nicknames. So Birdie Tebbetts is a bird, Candy Cummings is eating candy, etc. There were at least two different cartoons about Walter Alston being known as Smoky. And Greasy Neale was, well, greasy:

Here's a cartoon that appears to be an error. What does Dean Look winning a world series game have to do with football?

There's a clue on this cartoon, which mentions that Look was also a pro football referee.

I'd never heard of this guy before, so I looked up Look. He played in three games for the Chicago White Sox in 1961, and one game for the New York Titans (now Jets) in 1962. He then went on to a long career as an NFL referee. Remember Dwight Clark's catch in the 1982 NFC Championship game? That's Look giving the touchdown signal.

So Look never pitched for the Phillies, meaning that card is an even bigger error than it looks. The correct answer should have been Grover Cleveland Alexander, who won Game 1 of the 1915 World Series. The Phillies wouldn't win another World Series game for 65 years, when Bob Walk won Game 1 of the 1980 World Series, the Phillies' first championship.

I thought I found another error is on the back of Don Kessinger's card. I have the whole '75 set and this is the only cartoon in my set without a pink background. Looking online, though, it appears other cards have a pink background. Looks like mine is just a printing error. Still a cool variation.

Here are a few more cartoons I found interesting.

I had no idea that the President of the United States was the individual who would break a tie in a vote for MLB commissioner.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

A total package

I picked up a lot of 40 2005 Topps Total cards for a dollar. Topps Total is a fun set with a lot of players who didn't normally get on cards in standard sets, plus I don't have a lot of it, so I was happy to get a bunch real cheap.

The lot included four silver parallels.

I already had five of the cards so they're available for trade. The Cubs card I had just gotten in the thrift store lot a day earlier. This one is in much better shape.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

An expensive car repair

I had to take my car in unexpectedly this weekend, and that left me with a couple of hours to kill on a Saturday afternoon. I walked around and decided to check out a thrift store that I'd been in a couple of times before but hadn't bought anything. This time was different. I found a wooden box filled with matchcovers from the late '30s-early '40s. I hoped it would have a lot of Long Island matchbooks, though it didn't, it did have a lot of NYC ones. I was able to get the whole box (about 200-300 matchbooks) for $20. Since I was buying something anyway, I decided to buy some baseball cards too. There is a huge card area in the back of the store, literally just boxes and bags stuffed with cards. There was a LOT of nonsports (the owner is more of a comic book guy than a baseball card guy) and what was there was a lot of junk wax. Plenty of basketball, hockey and football. The football was mostly stuff like Pro Set. The baseball was 99% junk wax, but I spent two hours digging through it and pulled about 500 cards, which cost me $15. Plus on the way out I picked out two 1970s 7-UP cans that were $0.50 each.

I'm not showing the matchcovers or soda cans unless someone is interested (maybe relevant is one matchcover with a 1942 Detroit Tigers schedule). Here are some highlights from the cards I pulled. Most of what I pulled was early 2000's stuff, of the maybe 500 cards I ended up needing roughly half. Lots of stuff from the random sets that Fleer or Donruss or Topps was putting out at that time. I found other interesting cards too though. Mostly though not all commons.

1991 Bowman is one of the few junk wax sets I still need a lot of. I found a few, which turned out to be all Pirates. There were lots of sets where I found a few useful cards. Stuff like 2003 and 2004 Fleer, or 2003, 2004 and 2005 Topps Total. 

1990 Leaf is another set that is hard to come by, especially the second series. I was able to make a serious dent in that set from what I found in the boxes.
Lots of Pacifics which I always seem to need, highlighted by a shiny Canseco.
I love finding 80's Sportflics needs!
I found a pretty large stack of '92 Topps Gold cards, almost all Gold Winners.
There were a lot of Allen & Ginters and A&G minis, mostly from 2008. I maybe should have taken more than I did, but A&G doesn't excite me a whole lot.
I've had a few Action Packed cards before, but this particular set was new to me - it was an Amoco/Coca-Cola giveaway from 1993.
I found a few other cards from sets I'd never seen before. I have so many late '80s Fleer boxed sets, it surprises me to find something from one that I don't have anything from. I really like that black-and-white border.

Speaking of Fleer, there was one box which had a lot of 1984 Fleer Star Stickers scattered through it. I picked out every one I could, as I need most but not all of the set. The stickers were mostly but not all from the last half of the set. I'm down to needing just 10 more, all from the first half (2, 7, 18, 21, 27, 28, 36, 48, 49, 53). The cards on the bottom were the new ones for me, the top is a rather large trade stack. Lots of Hall of Famers and stars in there.

Speaking of stickers, the same box had a lot of Topps yearbook stickers. I grabbed all the ones I could find. They were from the '84, '86 and '87 sets. It will be fun to put these in, especially the '86s, most of which I had when I was a kid but are long gone.
I did pick up a little football. I found the Giants cards from the 1991 Pacific set all at once, with the Super Bowl XXV champs. I also picked up any '80s Topps football I could fine, mostly '87.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Breaking the rules for the right Scooter

A while back I inexplicably forgot that I had a '54 Topps Rizzuto when I bought a small lot with it recently. This time, I broke my "rule" (this was almost a dollar a card) for a lot with a '56 Rizzuto as well as a bunch of '54s. I knew very well I didn't have a '56 Rizzuto. For quite a long time Al had a graded copy at his table, so I used to see that card regularly.

It's a bit scuffed up but overall pretty good. There was one other '56 in the lot, Gene Woodling who was a key player on the early '50s Yankees dynasty teams before being traded for Don Larsen. It's unclear exactly who the baserunner is on the Rizzuto card. It's clearly #31 but for what team? Well, if it's Cleveland, #31 would be . . . Gene Woodling!

A dozen older cards as well, all but one from 1954. No Hall-of-Famers but some big names like Ed Lopat, Harvey Kuenn and Al Rosen. I already had Eddie Stanky so that one is available for trade. These clearly came out of a scrapbook so I was a little concerned about the backs (there were no back photos) but they were in excellent shape, better than the fronts.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Vintage and more from Card Hemorrhage

Card Hemorrhage has been gravitating away from baseball and towards hockey. That's fortunate for me, as I actually have some pretty decent hockey cards for trade. He sent me a really nice package of baseball cards in advance of the hockey cards I am sending him.

Much of the package was vintage cards, like these six '62s, highlighted by a second-year Juan Marichal card.

I love the back of the Hal Smith card with the advertisement for Topps football cards. Topps put out a really nice football set in '62; I don't actually own any cards from that set though.
He found quite a few '67 needs for me.
Four from '69 and '70, highlighted by that great Reggie Jackson second-year card.
Three more from early 70s Topps, including the last common non-high number I needed for the '73 set. Now I just need 33 more cards to finish off the set - four lower-numbered Hall of Famers, and 29 high-numbers (including the Schmidt). I am going to have to start targeting those cards more in my searches.
Finishing off the vintage section with some great oddballs, including a '73 OPC.
Moving into the 1980s, Jay included an unopened pack of 1981 Topps Scratch-Offs.
The back is fun too. It's funny to think of Ring Pops as brand new; they seemed like they'd been around forever as a kid in the mid-to-late eighties.
Six panels of three cards each on the inside. Biggest stars are Henderson, Palmer, Dawson and Seaver. Should I break up the panels into individual cards? Too late, I already did.
Lots of modern cards as well, mostly but not all from Jay's SF Giants.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Generous giveaway from Night Owl

I was fortunate to be one of 20 readers to get 250 of the 5,000 cards Night Owl gave away for his 5,000th post. Far too many cards to be shown here, but it was a lot of fun to go through a card package that was partly tailored to my interests, and partly a highly random mixing, which I always greatly enjoy going through. Here are some highlights.

Night Owl has very few failings as a baseball card fan and writer, but one of them is his strange inability to properly appreciate the Yankees. I have a feeling he was rather happy to find someone to take Yankees out of his sight. Here are some of my favorite cards he sent of Yankees of the past, mostly players from some championship teams.

There were lots of cards of players from the current Yankee squad. For so many years the Yankees have been pretty good, not great. This year they are playing by far the best of any Yankee team since they won the World Series in 2009. They win with hitting, they win with pitching, they have lots of blowouts, they win close games. Hopefully they can keep this kind of play going straight through October.
Naturally Night Owl sent some fun vintage, highlighted by a 1958 Clem Labine! He was one of the key members of the great Brooklyn Dodgers teams. That Ron Blomberg card is my first from the 1975 SSPC Yankees team set.
There were a LOT of fun random cards to go through. Here are a few that stuck out to me as being particularly fun.
He even snuck in a few non-baseball cards in the lot, highlighted by a card of guitar legend Joe Satriani, who grew up in Carle Place, Long Island.