Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Follow-Up on TCMA Cardinals '40s set

Boy, was I ever wrong.

Monday I posted the TCMA '42-'46 Cardinals set. Near the end, I noted that the set had been reissued in 1983. Based on what I knew of TCMA and what I had seen of the cards online (or thought I had seen) I assumed that two versions were basically the same. Not so.

Here is the Buddy Blattner card from the '83 version of the set:

And Ray Sanders:

The player's name and position are now rendered in black in a slightly narrower (and cleaner to my eye) font.

The bigger difference is on the reverse...

The '83s were printed on gray cardboard. Each player gets a summary paragraph dealing with his career with an emphasis on the '42 thru '46 seasons. The stats are much more presentable than the typewritten ones of the earlier version. There is no comparison, the '83s look much more professional.

The difference in the shades of gray between the two '83s above is a scanner thing, they look the same in hand. Note that the copyright is updated and the cards are now numbered.

Ken Burkhart's card was one I had in the 'red cardinal' version and I thought I had found the regular version. But the card I acquired turned out to be the '83:

This leaves me with the '75 variation and the '83 non-variation. Scanning them together allowed me to notice that I had assumed the '73s were 'standard' sized. Nope, they are about 5/32nds taller than standard. The '83s are exactly 2.5 x 3.5, the size card we know today.

I also picked up the second of the two different 3-player specials that featured Stan Musial, Mgr Billy Southworth and a third player. Johnny Hopp in one, Ray Sanders in the other. '83 w/Sanders on top, '75 w/Hopp on the bottom.

TCMA moved the text to the side, bordered the photo, and added the era/team designation that the player cards have. The reverse is also different in style.

So I have ended up with a mixed set. LOL...I may poke around and try to find '75 versions of them all and keep the '83 in the back pages like I do with my '62 Green Tints. Or not.

It was kind of fun discovering these things. TCMA was a weird and wonderful company.

Monday, June 1, 2020

TCMA Cardinals, 40s Version

Last week I posted the oddball Gashouse Gang TCMA set from 1974 that was given to me by a dealer a few years back at the hotel show I attend frequently. The majority of the cards in my 'brown bag gift' were also from a Cardinals-related set issued by TCMA. This one was done originally in 1975 and it commemorates the Cardinals club from 1942 through 1946.

St. Louis was the toast of the National League during that span. They took home four league titles and won World Series championships over the Yankees in '42 and Red Sox in 1946.

Their rosters back then were dotted with stars and Hall of Famers, particularly among their everyday players. The '75 TCMA set is much larger than the Gashouse Gang edition, both in terms of card size and checklist size. These (mostly) black and white cards are standard size. I was wrong...they are slightly 'taller' than standard card size. See the follow-up post for more. The checklist stands at 61 plus a couple of variations which we will deal with in a bit.

The Stan Musial card at the top is my favorite of the bunch. I always like bat rack photos used on cards and, well, it's Stan The Man! Next up is shortstop Marty Marion, a four-time All-Star and 1944's MVP. Marion and I share the nickname, 'Slats'. I don't know how Marion earned it and I'm sure not telling how I did.

The regular, single-player cards have the same style of typewritten stat backs as was seen in the '74 set. These carry four seasons of basic numbers for players who were with the Cards for all four seasons. Players have no stats for the years they were elsewhere.

Another fun card is that of infielder Frank Angelo Joseph Crespi, aka 'Creepy' Crespi. That is one of the great names in baseball history. Crespi is an interesting guy. He was the Cards' starting second baseman in 1941 but lost his job to Jimmy Brown in '42. He still got into over 90 games and scored a run in the '42 Series.

Crespi declined a military deferment that he was entitled to as sole supporter of his elderly mother. He said, "I don't think I'm too good to fight for the things I've always enjoyed." Crespi entered the Army in '43 and ended up breaking his leg three(!) times during his military service (though not in combat). The first break came while playing on an Army ball club in Kansas. The second break came as a result of a training accident. The third, well, he apparently was racing other patients in his wheelchair and wrecked. 😧

He never returned to baseball. After numerous attempts to qualify for a big-league pension, he finally gave up and continued his post-baseball work in the financial offices at McDonald-Douglas. Many years later it was determined that Crespi had never officially retired and was credited with time on the DL. He got his pension.

Terry Moore roamed center for the Cards when he wasn't serving with Uncle Sam. He was a four-time All-Star.

Joe Garagiola played was platoon catcher for the Cards and a hometown favorite. He debuted in 1946.

Harry 'The Hat' Walker was familiar to me from his days as the manager of the Astros.

Red Schoendienst spent almost seven decades in baseball in one capacity or another before he passed at the age of 95 a few years back.

Pepper Martin had been an integral part of the cards of the 30s and returned to the team in 1944 as a stopgap infielder due to the shortage of players during WWII. He hit pretty well that year at the age of 40 but didn't get into the Series.

Enos Slaughter was another long time baseball guy who won four titles, two in St. Louis and two with the Yankees. He was known for his hustle and for scoring the winning run in the last game of the '46 Series. He was also (allegedly, and along with Terry Moore) behind an attempt to keep Jackie Robinson off major league diamonds.

Like the previous set, there are oversized cards, two in this case. One shows the team in 1942.

The back has the story of their exploits.

The other shows old Sportsman's Park and has a list of the players who were members of the Cards in this era who were not included among the cards.

Four multi-player cards are part of the set. All have World Series notes on the back. Musial is shown on two similar cards. Here is one of them.

Notice anything odd about that last card? It's the inked red cardinal on Johnny Beazley's jersey. There is another version which shows the bird without the red coloring. I'm lacking that one.

The other 'red bird' variation' is Kem Burkhart's card. His 'normal' card is headed my way at some point from COMC.

There is another variation which I haven't seen. It is a 'missing name' Lon Warneke. I haven't seen it available anywhere but It's listed on the checklist at the Trading Card Database site.

The last 'variation' is supposedly one involving Ernie White's card. 

The 'variation' is listed simply as just that, 'variation'. I've looked at a bunch of White cards over the last month or so and I'll be damned if I can figure out what the notation is supposed to indicate. The  best I can figure is a difference in how the name/team/position is situated in relationship to the photo. To tell the truth, I think I'm probably just imagining that.

This is really a more fun set than the Gashouse Gang issue. 'Fun' as in 'easier to figure out' and keep straight. I have, or will have some time in the near future, the thing finished except for the three variations I've noted. So the bottom line is I have every card.

Oh, I forgot to mention one detail. This set was 're-issued' by TCMA in 1983. Since there are no telltale markings or even cardboard color differences in the ones I have I really don't know if any I own are from the reprints. One eBay seller had his listed as '75s and '83s, but they looked identical down to the amount of wear and in every other way. If TCMA just rolled the presses in 1983 using the same original 1975 sheets there wouldn't be any difference anyway.

UPDATE--A few '83 'remakes' have arrived, and they have several significant differences. I'll get them posted in a follow-up to this soon.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

TCMA Cardinals, The Gas House Gang

A few years ago I was at the regular hotel card show buying a stack of cards for a set I was building at the time. As I was paying, the dealer, one of the few who has stuff worth looking at, handed me a paper sack. It was one of those in which you'd tote a school lunch. He said he'd bought a collection earlier in the day, and he had no use for the bag's contents so it became his 'gift' to me.

I peeked inside and saw an unruly jumble of Cardinal cards that I didn't recognize. I stuck it in my backpack and forgot about it until I was going back to the next show. Turns out that the cards were TCMA near-sets from 1974 and '75.

The first is the oddly interesting Gashouse Gang set of 31 cards issued in 1974. As with many TCMA issues, figuring out just what you have can be challenging. There are 26 different players represented. These are narrower than standard-sized modern cards, though just as tall.

Here are a few of the individual player cards. I say 'player', but player/manager Frankie Frisch and a coach or two are also in there.

This illustrates how they differ in size from standard cards:

Ernie Orsatti has two different poses, a portrait and a full-length shot of him with a bat.

There is also a card of the Dean brothers, Dizzy and Daffy. That brings us to 27 plus the Orsatti variation.

The backs of these have nominal stats for most players, a blurb for the coaches, and a notation of games played with other teams in 1934.

There are also four over-sized cards. These clock in at 3.5" x 4.5" and feature action from the '34 World Series, and one showing Dizzy Dean and Leo Durocher celebrating the title.

Here is the back of the oversized Dizzy and Leo photo card:

 And the others:

Oh, the backs are darker you say? Hold that thought, because, as with a lot of things TCMA, stuff gets a bit complicated.

You may have noticed that some cards have '1934 Cardinals' at the top, others show 'The Gashouse Gang'. I haven't seen both versions for every card, but I saw enough in my travels down eBay and COMC rabbit holes to be fairly confident that the whole bunch comes in both versions.

Then there's this....

The cards (all? some?) also have blue tint versions.

And then there's this:

I mistakenly picked up a second Daffy Dean card. When it arrived it was obviously printed on brighter paper. And the back, like those of the oversized cards, was on darker cardboard. The Trading Card Database calls these 'graybacks' but the checklist is identical. Were these reprinted by TCMA? Did someone go to the trouble to 'counterfeit' these? Surely not.

The whole deal is more than I can process. There is a 'regular set' with white backs and '1934 Cardinals' on the front, a set with white backs but with 'The Gashouse Gang' on the front. Plus a blue tint versions of both of the above. Then there are the 'dark cardboard' versions.

I may need to consult Twitter acquaintance Andrew Aronstein, son of the company's founder, Micheal Aronstein, to help me sort it all out.

Running down the checklist I found on the Trading Card Database told me I needed four cards. I was able to find them without too much hassle on SportsLots and COMC. Then, when I became aware of the multiple version fun, I decided that one of each player (and the two Orsatti poses) would be plenty for me. I went ahead and picked up a blue tint or two just as examples. 

Once COMC starts shipping again I'll have everything in hand. Then I'll turn to the other TCMA Cardinals set which was in the paper sack. That's the 1942-46 Cardinals has 'red jersey Cardinals' variations. Oy vey.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

1954 Orioles/American League Schedule Booklet

I don't remember where this little item came from. Someone may have gifted me with it. But it's been sitting on my desk for months waiting to be posted.

1954 was, of course, the inaugural season for the Orioles in the modern Major Leagues. So I suppose this qualifies as a 'rookie' schedule booklet. More than that, though, I love that it features a neat design with Jim Hartzell's original Oriole and some fun typography.

The booklet is 2.5"x4" and I scanned it with a standard Topps card to show how it compares. The card also gives me a chance to plug my 1960 Topps blog. I'm posting four or five times a week over there.

I only scanned the cover. The rest of this post uses phone photos with the schedule held open with clips. I hate squashing old paper items on my scanner's platen. And this piece is in very nice condition.

Most of the pages are a day-by-day American League schedule.

The center pages are specific to the Orioles, beginning with the ticket price and ordering info. NO TELEPHONE RESERVATIONS

Next is the centerfold with stadium and game facts. The opposite page list the Orioles' home night games for 1954. Night games were not the default back then so pointing them out was a necessity I guess.

Next comes a list of Sunday and holiday dates at Memorial. A few things of note include the fact that the Orioles had home games on the three major in-season holidays, Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and Labor Day. There were eight doubleheaders. We're raising a generation of fans who have no idea what it's like to watch two games with one ticket. And it's apropos that the second half of the booklet starts with the All-Star Game, played in Cleveland.

BTW...that was a wild and fun game, won by the AL 11-9. There were four AL homers, two by Indians' corner infielder Al Rosen, a pinch knock by Indians' outfielder Larry Doby, and another by former Indian, Ray Boone. Bobby Avila, yet another Indians' player, started at second for the AL and went three for three before being replaced by Nellie Fox who won the game with a two-run single in the eighth.

Back to the schedule... The whole league took off for the then-annual Cooperstown Hall of Fame Game in August. The Yanks beat the Reds 10-9 with Mickey Mantle hitting a home run.

Following the AL schedule, we get a listing of ALL the league's night games.

Inside the back cover gives us a promo for some big league films available for screening. Nowadays you can just crank up YouTube.

And the back cover had a promotional ad for the official big-league baseball. The AL used Reach branded balls while the NL had ones with the Spalding markings. But as the page points out, Spalding made them both. Spalding had acquired Reach, a rival sporting goods firm, way back in 1892 but kept the name on the AL balls for decades. 

I remember league-wide schedules back when I was a kid. We used to find them at the local car dealerships. I don't think I ever had any with team-specific covers or info, though. It might be a fun area of collecting to dig into.