Friday, May 31, 2024

Cake or gum? 1976 Ted Sizemore

Last time gum cruised to a 7-1 victory. Who will win this time?

Two photos taken at just about the same time, at Candlestick Park. It's quite possible Sizemore didn't even move between the two photos. Do you prefer the close-up or the longer shot?

Second baseman Ted Sizemore came up with the Dodgers in 1969, hitting .271 with 20 2B, 4 HR and 46 RBI while playing good defense in the infield, enough to win the Rookie of the Year award. That ended up being a typical Ted Sizemore season throughout the 1970s - solid defense, decent average and doubles power. Not a star, but a useful player in that era. He was traded to the Cardinals for Dick Allen after the 1970 season, then traded back to the Dodgers for Willie Crawford in 1976. After the '76 season Sizemore was traded to the Phillies for Johnny Oates. In two NLCS with the Phillies he hit well in a losing cause against his old Dodgers teammates, .308 in eight games. He finished his career with brief stints with the Cubs and Red Sox. Overall, in 1,411 games he hit .262 with 188 2B, 23 HR and 430 RBI. After his career he was a long-time executive for Rawlings, and served as CEO of the Baseball Assistance Team for many years. He is now retired.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Vintage star cards roundup

These posts are getting more and more spaced out, as it takes longer for enough cards to fill them. Most of the my vintage eBay pickups are coming from those weekly low-grade auctions from Greg Morris. Of the last four weeks, in three of them I've come away with very few cards, one with the most I've won in any of them. There's no predicting it which I guess is part of the fun.

The silver lining about not winning a lot of cards is not paying so much. Of course the good thing about these auctions is that the cards are usually on the cheap side to begin with. This was three weeks ago, I think my smallest winning yet:


The following week picked up a little bit, highlighted by the 1939 Play Ball Al Schacht, an all-time great card I'd seen on some other blogs. I paid a little more for that one and was glad to.


Then last week I had my biggest winnings by volume, though fortunately not by price as it was mostly dollar-ish commons. I broke this one out into several pictures. Starting out with some Topps star cards. The biggest stars, Aaron/Mays/Clemente etc, always go to high, but I can usually snag some of those second-tier stars - McCovey, Drysdale, Kaline, Robinson, Mathews etc.


I picked up nine cheap commons from the middle series of 1957 Topps, which was short-printed. 


Oddballs! Ted Williams in a hospital bed reading a book about fishing is a really fun one. 1960 Leaf is surprisingly charming for a set where the photos are just black-and-white head shots.


A few Bowman additions. The '55 Minoso is another blogger favorite.

Finally, two sets I'd never seen in person before. Two Yankees from the 1952 Berk Ross set. They are a little murky but the photos are as good or better than what Topps and Bowman were putting out. And a 1941 Double Play! Two players on one card goes against the grain for a collector, but the photos look really good in person.

Otherwise, just a few other vintage eBay pickups these past few weeks. I did manage to find that rarity, a vintage need for a quarter. It's a sunset card of a four-time All Star, not bad for a "common".

Another first for me, four from 1961 Nu-Card Scoops. The price was enough to satisfy my curiosity about this set. It's OK but I probably won't go out of my way to get a lot more.
The Duke of Flatbush! Or, rather, The Duke of LA by this time.
Last but certainly not least, a very cheerful Willie Mays on a surprisingly cheap 1962 card.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Trade with Misfits138

I got some nice variety in a TCDB trade with Misfits138. Who says modern cards can't be fun? I know, I usually do, but I like all of these.

My last two needs for the 2024 Series I set. The big every-day-low-cost rookie cost me a '69 Deckle Edge Clemente, but it was in rough shape and had been hanging around my trade list for a while. There's a decent chance he becomes a Hall of Famer, I suppose.

My first 2024 Topps Heritage cards! Highlight is my first card of Juan Soto as a Yankee. He's certainly been fantastic, but I'm going to avoid becoming attached to him until/unless he signs a long-term deal.
I do enjoy the Topps Heritage News Flashbacks (and Baseball Flashbacks). New Age Performers is cool too. I had no idea the first automobile rebate was such a big deal.
Some other recent cards of current Yankees, including my first Austin Wells card.
Finally, just a bit of vintage among all of those new cards!

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Blog bat-around: final card

The current blog bat-around (from John's Big League Baseball Blog) asks us to show the final playing-days card of our favorite player. I've generally been more of a team fan than a player fan, but there are a few that stick out for me. As a child I picked Mike Pagliarulo as a favorite player. Partly because he was a hard-nosed, working-class grinder type that kids often gravitate to, and also because 13 was my favorite number. When the Yankees finally got good in 1995 both Ruben Sierra and Darryl Strawberry brought so much excitement with every at-bat, they were both favorites of mine. Later on Alfonso Soriano was a very exciting player. After the 2003 season I decided to buy a Soriano shirt, my first time buying a player's shirt. I learned my lesson - the Yankees traded him for A-Rod shortly after. However, for most of the great Yankee teams in the 1990s and 2000s, the whole team was so good but there wasn't really a standout "favorite" for me. In more recent years, Aaron Judge brought a lot of excitement from Day One and very quickly became a favorite for me. Oswaldo Cabrera is not a star yet but he's another player I've gravitated to recently, just a lot of fun to watch.

However, if I had to pick one player it would definitely be Don Mattingly. Even as I considered Mike Pagliarulo my "favorite", Mattingly was right up there, and getting his card was very important to me in 1987, my first year of collecting. Later on, he was the one consistent bright light on some bad Yankee teams. When the Yankees finally made a playoff run in 1995, Mattingly was right there with Sierra and Strawberry as a must-watch at-bat. Like every other Yankee fan, I really wanted them to win it all for Mattingly's sake as much as anything. Even though they didn't win it all until he left, his influence on the players that remained was vital to the team's success.

Monday, May 27, 2024

Wallet card at Walson Servicenter

Here is one I can't believe I'd missed all these years. I used to take my car here regularly, though I may have stopped by the time I had started doing wallet card photos because I had moved farther away. It's a very good repair shop, but a bit expensive for regular maintenance. I'd take my car here if I had a serious problem with it. Somehow I had never noticed the sign above the door until I drove by the other day. Check out the phone number - FR 4-3500. I went back the next day to take a photo, though the owner was outside and I didn't want to get into a conversation, so I had to take this a bit surreptitiously.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Wood vs. Wood #203

Last time 1987 cruised to a 7-3 victory. Who will win this time?

Jack Fisher strikes a classic pitching pose. I'm not sure if this is spring training, it might be Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. "Fat Jack" Fisher was a workhorse innings-eater for five teams, mostly the Orioles and Mets. In four seasons with some awful Mets teams (1964-1967) he led the NL in earned runs allowed three times and losses twice. In 400 major league games he went 86-139 with a 4.06 ERA. After his career he was a personnel manager for a printing company and owned a bar called Fat Jack's. In April of 1964 Fisher threw the first pitch at Shea Stadium; last month he celebrated the 60th anniversary of that pitch by throwing out the first pitch before a game at Citi Field.

Royals rookie Mike Kingery strikes a classic batting pose at spring training. The journeyman outfielder played for six teams over ten seasons. After his rookie season he was traded to the Mariners for Danny Tartabull. Kingery struggled with the Mariners and bounced around with several teams, finding by far his most success with the Rockies, for whom he hit .349 in 301 at bats in 1994. Overall in 819 games he hit .268 with 30 HR and 219 RBI. After his retirement in 1997 he opened a baseball school in Minnesota, which he still runs today. In addition, Kingery, his wife and their eight children have been performing gospel bluegrass music in concerts throughout Minnesota for the past eighteen years.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Big OPC star lot

I got very lucky with this lot. 61 cards for about 30 cents a card. All stars and Hall of Famers. Some big ones as you will see. Some trade bait in here too. I find that any extra vintage OPC I come across goes quickly.

Starting off with the most recent cards here, all star pitchers, three of whom appear on two different cards. I already had a '79 Tiant so that is available, as are the extra '83 Tiant and 85 Fingers.

1978 was the most represented in the lot. These are some of the cards. Two Roy Hartsfield's so one is available.
Look at all of these league leaders! League leaders was certainly a theme in this lot, but nowhere more so than in '78. There's an extra #1, two extra #6's (Nolan Ryan!) and an extra #7.
Some big star power in 1977. In some of these photos I flipped a card so you could see it was OPC. I already had the league leader card so that's another available Ryan.
Some big star power in '75, including my first OPC of the MVP subset. And an extra Matty Alou to trade.
Some big stars in '72 as well. This more than doubles my meager '72 set. The one card I had already was the one card that was in here twice, Killer Killebrew.
1971 has a solid gruop. I already had Piniella so that's available.
Not flipping these over anymore because the fronts are so good, even if the same as Topps. The '70 Campaneris is the oldest trade bait available. I liked lining up the two Gibsons. McCovey/Allen/Banks is a great get too.
Finally, here is the amazing part of the deal. My second-ever 1968 OPC is a league leader card with Roberto Clemente. There's a 1966 Whitey Ford which is fantastic, then 1965 knocks it out of the park with a second-year Tommy John (I don't even have that card in Topps form), a Juan Marichal, and best of all the AL Home Run Leaders card with Mickey Mantle! I think the seller hurt themselves by only showing the fronts of the cards, but I gambled they were all OPC backs and got quite lucky. These really beef up my early OPC sets.

Friday, May 24, 2024

Equipment: 1990 Topps Traded and Debut

On his Topps Traded card, Junior Ortiz has a bat with a very prominent 55. With both the Pirates and the Twins, Junior was #0 (0 for 0rtiz). During the 1990 season Paul Sorrento wore #55 for the Twins...


... but Sorrento's card has him holding Greg Gagne's #7 bat!


The Topps Debut set allows for more spring training number variations. Eric Anthony's hat says #63; during the season he wore #23.


Terry Jorgensen's bat has his initials, TJ.


Thursday, May 23, 2024

1974 Topps Deckle Dating: Wilbur Wood

With his wrinkled forehead, double chin and apparently gray sideburns, Wilbur Wood sure looks a lot older than 31 here.

June 30th, 1973 at "Oakland Stadium".

The Topps photographer got Wood on the day of his start, which may have been bad luck for Wood. He pitched well, but lost in a complete game to the defending champs, 3-2. Wood allowed just six hits but three were home runs, two by Reggie Jackson and one by Sal Bando. The win allowed the A's to regain first place from the White Sox. The Sox had been in first place for most of May and June, and had been 38-32 going into this game. They went 39-63 the rest of the way to sink to a 5th place finish. 

In other news, there was a total eclipse of the sun for 92 minutes, the longest-duration total eclipse until 2150. The greatest part of the eclipse was over the Sahara desert in Niger. An American cruise ship with 2,000 scientists aboard included celebrities like Neil Armstrong and Isaac Asimov, as well as a teenager from the Bronx who won a scholarship to attend the cruise - Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Elsewhere, fighting increased in Cambodia and a plane crash in Jordan killed seven.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

1986 Spokane Indians at the Mall - Brian Wood


There's so much going on here that I can't figure it out. There appears to be a wine bottle and a can of beer or soda on the glass counter, as well as some wooden piece of equipment with a crank. Some kind of objects on the wall, possibly figurines of some kind? I can't make out what is inside the glass display - shoes? jewelry? watches? There are a couple of old-fashioned lamps hanging from the ceiling, and what looks like another one on the top of the shelves. Any guesses for what kind of store this was?

Brian Wood was the Padres' second-round pick in the 1986 draft, and pitched well through AA as a reliever. His best season was 1989 at Class-A Charleston, when he went 7-7 with 20 saves and a 1.53 ERA, striking out 153 batters in 105.2 innings. He appeared to be overmatched at the AAA level - in parts of three seasons for the Padres, and later Orioles, AAA teams he went 4-10 with a 4.75 ERA, and never made it to the major leagues. Overall, in 321 games over eight seasons, Wood went 48-46 with 52 saves and a 3.64 ERA, striking out 836 batters in 802 innings. Anyone know where Brian Wood is now?

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

1981 Topps Jim Slaton


The front: A very blue sky that matches his uniform.

The back: 44 years later, Slaton is still the all-time Brewers leader in wins (117), innings (2,025.1), games started (268), and shutouts (19). Not much of a history for long-time Brewers pitchers, is there?

The player: Slaton was more of a durable innings-eater than an elite pitcher, which is why the Brewers' all-time wins leader is not in the team hall of fame or The Collector's All-Time Brewers team. He would have high ERAs and low strikeout totals, at best a mid-rotation starter. Though he was an All-Star in 1977, his best season was 1982, when he went 10-6 with a 3.29 ERA, largely in relief, and won Game 4 of the World Series. In 16 seasons, including stints in California and Detroit, he went 151-158 with a 4.03 ERA.

The man: After his playing career Slaton was a long-time minor league pitching coach. He is now retired, though he still makes public appearances for the Brewers.

My collection: I have 36 of his cards, from 1973 to 1987. I would be interested in trading for 1972 Topps #744.

Monday, May 20, 2024

1976 SSPC Bill Plummer


The card, in brief: Bill Plummer has a big wad of tobacco in his cheek as he stands with the flagpole visible in the background. Any ideas for what the flag is below the US flag? I looked for other photos of Shea at the time and didn't see any with two flags on that pole.
Playing career, in brief: Bill Plummer played parts of 10 seasons in the major leagues, eight of them with Cincinnati where he was Johnny Bench's backup. Being Bench's backup means Plummer rarely got to play - 324 games over eight seasons, never more than 65 games in a season. Though he was on the postseason roster three times he never got to play in a postseason game. He was known as a good defensive catcher but was a very weak hitter - lifetime .188 with 14 HR and 82 RBI.
Post playing-career, in brief: After his retirement as a player in 1978, Plummer immediately went into coaching. He coached and managed right through the 2023 season in several organizations, managing the Mariners for one season in 1992. He died of a heart attack in March of 2024.

My collection: I have nine of his cards, from 1973 to 1979. I would be interested in trading for 1978 Mr. Chef's San Jose Missions #19.

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Cake or Gum? 1976 Ron LeFlore

Last time cake rolled to an 8-2 victory. Who will win this time?

The two photos next to each other show a nice beginning and ending for LeFlore's swing. Despite their similarities the photos were not taken at the same time, as can be seen by his sleeves. The Topps photo is definitely Shea Stadium, a Yankees home game. The Hostess card may be Shea, but I am leaning towards Oakland. The lurker at the batting cage looks like he has a uniform number ending in 4, which could mean it is Bob Molinaro, Leon Roberts or Mickey Stanley.

Ron LeFlore's first experience playing organized baseball came when he was in prison for armed robbery. An inmate with connections to Tigers manager Billy Martin (who but Billy would have prison connections for baseball talent?) convinced Martin to give LeFlore a tryout. LeFlore was released from prison in July of 1973, and a year later he was in the major leagues. He immediately became a star, as one of the fastest players in the league and an excellent hitter as well. From 1976 to 1979 he was one of the best hitters in the American League. He hit .300 in three of those four seasons, and in 1978, hitting .297, he led the AL with 126 runs and 68 stolen bases. However, his continuing association with drug dealers and mob figures led new Tigers manager Sparky Anderson to trade LeFlore to Montreal. In his one season with the Expos LeFlore led the NL with 97 stolen bases, though he hit just .257. After the season LeFlore signed a big free agent contract with the White Sox. In Chicago LeFlore's baseball skill rapidly declined, while he continued to make bad decision off the field. At the end of the 1982 season, he was arrested for drug and gun possession. He failed to make the White Sox roster in spring training of 1983 and retired. After his career he worked in a variety of jobs, even attending umpire school. He was also arrested twice for failure to pay child support. At last report he was retired and living in Florida.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Wood vs. Wood #201

Last time it was a 7-2 victory for 1962. Who will win this battle of the Sox?

A rather dark photo of Ike Delock. Delock had an 11-year major league career, pitching in 322 games for the Red Sox, and ending his career with 7 games for the Orioles in 1963. Delock spent time as both a starter and a reliever for Boston, and overall went 84-75 with 31 saves and a 4.03 ERA. He went into a career in sales after his baseball career. He died in 2022.

John Cangelosi gets a much sunnier photo. Cangelosi had an excellent rookie season in 1986, setting the American League rookie record with 50 stolen bases, broken by Kenny Lofton in 1992, and Esteury Ruiz set a new mark last year with Oakland. The 50 SB disguised an overall weak offensive season for Cangelosi, who hit .235 with 2 HR and 32 RBI in his only season as a regular. He spent several more seasons as a backup outfielder for the Pirates, Rangers, Mets, Astros, Marlins and Rockies. Overall in 1,038 games he hit .250 with 12 HR, 134 RBI and 154 SB. He is now a youth baseball instructor in the Chicago area.

Friday, May 17, 2024

Equipment: 1990 Topps

Mark Portugal's glove has his nickname "Porch".

Dave Johnson's glove has "DJ". 

Tom Pagnozzi is "Pag".

Dave Clark, #12, poses with two bats. This photo was probably from 1988, not 1989, as Clark switched to #25 during the '88 season. Assuming this is 1988, the bat with the #15 would have belonged to Ron Washington. (Pitcher Neil Allen wore the number in 1989.) 

Here's an odd one. Brad Komminsk is wearing #45 but appears to be using a #66 bat during a game. #66 was assigned to September call-up Mark Higgins. This might be a long shot but: On September 24, Cleveland hosted the Angels in a day game, with Komminsk and Higgins batting eighth and ninth. (Both went 0-2 with a walk in the game, a 5-4 Indians victory.) Perhaps Komminsk picked up Higgins's bat in the on deck circle? 

Carmelo Castillo wore #8 for Cleveland from 1983 to 1988. He was traded to the Twins near the end of 1989 spring training. Gary Gaetti wore #8 for Minnesota so Castillo switched to #22. I assume this photo was taken very shortly after the trade, before Castillo got new bats.

Pat Sheridan, #25, is holding the bat of #17, Kirt Manwaring. Sheridan had never worn #17 at this point in his career; two years later he was #17 for the Yankees.

Eric Hetzel's glove has #26. Wade Boggs wore #26 for Boston so I am guessing that was Hetzel's minor league number. He wore #31 when he made his major league debut in 1989.

Rick Wrona is holding a bat with #5 on it. #5 on the Cubs was coach Chuck Cottier. Wrona wore #1 for the Cubs.

Finally, there's Steve Cummings, who has maybe the most ambiguous glove of all time. It's just labelled "MINE".