Sunday, December 8, 2019

That's One Ugly Whale!

Yup, it's pretty ugly, but I was happy to land a 1959 Topps Venezuelan Ace Hurlers card. It puts me just that much closer to finishing off my Billy Pierce collection want list.

These are very difficult to come by and I long ago decided I'd grab one in whatever condition I could get. Other copies that were sold recently were not in much different condition than this one. It's fairly typical of cards from the Venezuelan release of the '59 set. I don't think the fact that he shares the card with Hall of Famer Robin Roberts made this one any more difficult than it would have been otherwise. These '59s are just tough.

I got lucky on this one. It sort of slid in under the radar because two others were up for bids at about the same time. Those two drew off the few other people who chase this stuff and I was able to win this fairly cheaply.

Pierce had a card in two other Topps Venezuelan sets, both were base cards. Those two, the 1960 and 1964 are much more attainable.

I haven't tried yet but I may attempt to clean some of the surface dirt on the front of this card. I don't believe in trimming cards, restoring corners or other restoration techniques, but I have no issue with someone (me in this case) doing some cleaning on vintage cards. I've used a clean, soft cloth to take off gum residue before.

With this one in the fold, I'm down to one card on my Billy Pierce 'target' list, the 1959 Bazooka SP. That one is a tough find and impossible at a cheap price. I haven't given up hope though.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Five Cool Commons

Twitter friend Mark Del Franco tossed up a tweet the other evening asking to see collector's favorite commons. I tossed up my '61 Wes Covington as it's one of my favorite cards, common or otherwise. And I thought that idea would make a good post. I know I really need some motivation to post and I appreciate neat commons from vintage sets, so here we are.

I'm sure I've posted each of these five cards in one form or fashion before, either on this blog or one of my set build blogs. These five are here for different reasons but all are among my favorites.

This '57 Charlie Neal card challenges the '61 Covington for artistic appeal. I just love the Ebbets Field background with the Schaefer Beer ad atop the scoreboard, the fencing above the Gem Blades ad, etc. And don't forget that "Schaefer is the one beer to have when you're having more than one."

Don Rudolph's 1959 Topps card looks very ordinary, yes?

But here's the cartoon on the back...

You really do want to read about Don Rudolph's 'dancer' wife. Trust me on this. She's the reason this common is so high on my list.

And Wes Covington appears...

That, my friends, is art. The pose, the bat rack, the uniform (those stirrups!!). The perfect baseball card? It has to be in the running.

I was always a fan of the late Elrod Hendricks. He played and lived with joy and a smile on his face. He never turned down an autograph request and loved talking to fans, especially after his playing days when he was on the Orioles' staff.

This card from the 1975 SSPC set captures him perfectly. Seeing his smile makes me smile. I have a signed copy of this card in my Hendricks binder pages but I like the unsigned one just as much. Hard to beat Ellie's zest for baseball.

The best day I've ever spent in a ballpark came in late June 1970. The Yankees-Indians mid-week, afternoon doubleheader was more fun than one could ever hope for. Tony Horton crawling back to the dugout after whiffing on a Steve Hamilton 'Folly Floater', four dingers by Bobby Murcer, a firecracker tossed from the upper deck that landed at home plate and probably shaved a few years off Ray Fosse's life. And the best baseball brawl I've ever witnessed in person. I did a blog post a few years ago centered on this remarkable day which you can see here.

This card of Vada Pinson from Topps' wonderful 1971 set uses a photo taken during the first game of that doubleheader (with a cameo by Thurman Munson). Every time I see this card I'm reminded of the day my best friend and I spent at Yankee Stadium just weeks before my family made our second, and permanent, move to Houston.

So there they are, five commons I love. I'm sure there are many more I could include in a list of commons I treasure but it would take something remarkable to bounce one of these off my list.

I'd love to see other bloggers' lists.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Cards at the Crossroads

As I contemplate what I'm going to do with this blog I need to catch up with a few generous packages that arrived from a pair of esteemed bloggers over the last couple of weeks. Let's do these in the order they arrived.

First up is a group of cards I received from Joe Shlabotnik. 'Joe' killed some of my 1973 needs, quite a few in fact. I've posted a handful of my favorites. Above and below are two Cleveland relief pitchers, Mike Kilkenny and Steve Mingori. Both are rocking the early 70s sideburns and they look enough alike (at least on these cards) that I wasn't sure that I hadn't discovered a Topps error.

Mingori was on his way to Kansas City in June of '73, and he pitched on their '76 thru '78 division-winning clubs.

Kilkenny was probably just happy to spend the '73 season (at least what there was of it for him) without having to forward his mail. In 1972 he was with four different clubs over the span of  33 days. He began the year with his original team, the Tigers. On May 9 he was dealt to the A's for first-baseman Reggie Sanders. On the 17th the A's traded him to the Padres in a deal that netted them Ollie Brown. Three weeks later the Padres sent him to the Indians for infielder Fred Stanley.

In '73 Kilkenny made just a handful of appearances for Cleveland and gamelogs show he wasn't very effective in any of them. By May 6, just short of a year since his '72 baseball odyssey began, he was out of the majors. He played in the independent Intercounty Baseball League in his native Canada before getting into owning racehorses and being a golf pro. Some of the rabbit holes you travel through while researching the players on these cards are very entertaining.

And here's Yaz. This is a Yastrzemski card that I don't remember seeing much of. He was just at the point of transitioning into more of a first-baseman than an outfielder, but he had plenty of top-level baseball left in him.

Cookie Rojas has what appears to be the batting helmet cart behind him in this spring training photo.When I was coaching we had these carts aplenty, filled with all sorts of equipment and dragged them to the fields every day.

Dave Giusti in what I'm thinking is another ST photo but I've been to McKechnie Field and that doesn't match my memory of it. Of course, this picture was taken 40 some years prior to my visits.

Ralph Garr wearing a Braves uni top I'm still conflicted over after all these years.

The '73s Joe sent helped get me to the point where I need less than 25 to finish the set. Outside of the 1960 Leaf set (which I'm convinced I'll never finish), the '73 set is the last one I'm looking to close out for the foreseeable future. Yes, that means that I'm done with the '57 Topps baseball and '69 Topps football sets. Hallelujah!

In addition to the 73s Joe included a handful of modern Orioles. Cards I'd never otherwise see. Trey Mancini is the closest the O's have to a household name. And that's a stretch.

These two cards came along for the ride from Virginia. The more Presidents cards I receive the more I realize how many different sets there are out there.

These Goudeys are kind of artsy. When I get some time I'm gonna look closer at the Goodwins from 2017 and find any other presidents.

Thanks for these, Joe. As always they are much appreciated.

The other package came from beautiful Upstate New York and the Night Owl. This card of Cardinals' infielder Tommy Edmon was one I asked him to put aside for me. He had opened packs of this Topps '19 issue and Edmon was in one of them. This was the last card I needed to finish off my fantasy baseball binder for 2019.

I'm the 'crazy cat lady' of fantasy baseball. Because I can't say "No" I ended up 'fostering' seven orphaned teams this year. On three different platforms. Yeech. ONE team is usually too much for me to keep up with. Nobody in America was as happy to see the end of the regular season as I was!

And, like Joe, the wise ol' Owl filled up the envelope with modern Orioles...and a note saying how tough it is to find new Orioles to send. Boy, no kidding! When you suck as bad as the O's do Topps has no need to put them into sets. I don't blame Topps a bit.

I really like this fancy-ass John Means card. It immediately won a spot in my fantasy bb binder, booting out the minor league card I had of him previously.

Throwback style Chris Davis.  Looks like he'll be around Charm City for 2020. I'm OK with that.

Manny. Everyone hates him but I'd take him back in a second!

Ced Mullins took a step (or three) back in 2019. I still have hope, tho.

And a nice mini A&G Brooks. I recently got around to putting my Orioles mini cards in tobacco card pages. They look good in pages, much better than shuffling thru them by hand. 

Thank you, Greg. And thanks to both you and Joe for much enjoyment via your excellent blogs.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It's the only holiday I really look forward to. Our plan is to spend it at the home of my recently widowed mother-in-law (RIP, Dad) and it has the potential to be a disaster. Let's hope it exceeds my expectations, shall we? And I hope yours is special.

See you somewhere down the road on the flip side.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

In the Nick of time

Just last week I was bemoaning the fact that I hadn't added anything to my PCs in quite some time. Then came a completely unexpected and very neat surprise.

These custom cards came to me from Nick Vossbrink who is both a Twitter friend and blogger of many interests, particularly baseball and photography.

These are great, yes? I really like the team-oriented colors and terrific photos Nick used on these. That 'ump view' shot of BP throwing a Spring Training pitch is amazing. It just came up someplace recently, Twitter maybe? I'm sure Nick has the story. It's got a 'Life Magazine: Baseball Is Back!' vibe to it.

And here is Brooks...

That's a classic photo from the 1970 Series.

Nick gave these the full career stat-back treatment which I appreciate even if I have come to need a magnifying glass on my desk in my old age.

And then there was this:

1981-style Oddjob! Toshiyuki 'Harold' Sakata was the Hawaiian-born actor who played one of the most memorable roles in any Bond movie as Goldfinger's henchman/manservant. Sakata packed a lot of living into his 62 years. He was an Olympic weight-lifter (Silver medal winner for the USA in 1948), pro wrestler and actor.

Pretty darn clever of Nick to use the '81 card design that features hats as Oddjob's bowler was his 'calling card' as it were. This makes a really fun addition to my actor/actress binder. If you aren't a Bond aficionado check out this clip which sums up Oddjob's role pretty well.

Many thanks to Nick for these fun customs.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Collection Status...Part Two

Last week I posted about my progress with my primary set projects. I'll take a little time today to focus on the rest of what I'm working on these days. Public Service Announcement: Slabbed cards in this post will be freed as long as I have a binder page that will fix properly. (That's a PSA..get it? PSA? The grading company. Hell, never mind)

Player Collections, etc.  Nothing new on the Billy Pierce front. I add some oddball items from time to time but the 'White Whales', like his '59 Bazooka card, remain beyond the range of my harpoon.  I do grab vintage of him from cheap card boxes at shows. I just think I hate seeing him in quarter boxes, so undignified! LOL

My PC/Orioles Stars binder has fallen into disrepair lately. That'll get re-done in the next few months. Meanwhile, I discover fun stuff like this Dennis Martinez card by reading other blogs (thanks, Fuji!). It was pretty cheap on eBay and it just showed up.

Likewise, my University of Houston alum cards were put up in a box when I turned my hobby room into a nursery! After all these years I will re-binder them and fill in some gaps, next year probably.

Small/Oddball Sets I recently came across a box I had put away that continued a load of stuff like small Orioles sets, TCMA team sets, 1980s era Kmart and similar 33-card boxed sets, etc, etc. Some of those need to be bindered, many will just get broken up into teams and sent to fellow bloggers. Some will get burned in the fire pit.

Houston Aeros Over the last few years I've pulled this one on and off the 'back burner' of my collecting. Aeros games were fun, cheap entertainment back in the day. My friends and I made it to lots of them, particularly at the old Sam Houston Coliseum in downtown Houston.

A few years ago I decided to collect their team sets from the few companies making WHA cards back then. I already owned the Howe cards so finding the rest wasn't hard. I have all the base Aeros cards from the various O-Pee-Chee sets. I have a couple of the Quaker Oats cards and a few of the 75/76 team issued set. Those latter two sets are very tough.

I also add a few 'retro' set Aeros when I come across them cheap, mostly Gordie Howe cards on which he is shown with Houston.

More hockey...once I finish going through my boxes of stuff and sort out the Rangers I have I may try to finish some team sets.

Non-Sports Cards This covers so much that I will break it down, mostly for my benefit. I think I need to re-assess where I'm going with these. 😏

Batman I have the three original Topps 1966 Batman sets, red, blue and black bat. There are dozens of modern Batman sets and I have a handful. I made it a point to buy the boxed sets that were associated with the first Batman movies. I am nearing 50 Batman sketch cards. Every few months I'll remember to check for cheap sketch cards on eBay. I added this one for a few bucks some time back. I have no current 'goals' when it comes to my Batman collecting.

More or less related to this... my Civil War News set has long been finished. Once in a while I find an upgrade. Topps continues to add to the Mars Attacks franchise. I have several of the reprint/update/continuation sets from this franchise. 

Presidents I finished off a couple of JFK sets in the past two years and am currently working on the '64 Topps LBJ/Goldwater set. I have exactly half of the 66 cards and little hope of finishing it anytime soon. They don't pop up often for sale/auction online.

My vintage Topps/Bowman presidents cards are in a small box, unorganized. That needs fixing. I also have several oddball sets of Presidents/famous historical figures which need bindering. My hodgepodge of oddball & modern presidential cards (Panini, European etc) also needs sorting.

Entertainment My pursuit of the Topps Soupy Sales set has been very slow. Once I found that each card has different possible backs (Topps flipped the sheets in the middle of the press run apparently) I backed off. I need to figure out what I have and what I need which is tough with the cards being unnumbered and the backs being unrelated to the fronts. Ugh.

I continue to add actress and actor cards, from the old tobacco sets thru 'fan' sets of the 50s and 60s. I bought a small lot of Exhibit cards of actresses recently. There is no goal or checklist for this stuff. I just pick up what I like when I find it at reasonable prices.

I came across some boxes of Stranger Things 1 & 2 packs really cheap. My wife and I really enjoy that series, so I bought the boxes. They are under my desk, waiting for a rainy day. 

Baltimore Colts Collection  I still lack some Fleer Super Bowl cards but those are not a priority. I do come across oddball and retro cards here and there.

I have a lot of new postcards and publications but I'm sticking mainly to cards with this post. Those will have to wait for another day.

Monday, October 21, 2019

1973 Topps Kickoff

As noted in my last post, I'm far enough along with my '74 and '57 sets that I can start to deal with what is likely my last set build for a while.

As has occurred a few times before, this one sort of fell into my lap via a starter lot that I couldn't pass up. Prior to coming across that box, I'd never really given any thought to collecting it other than in a general, 'I'd like to do more 70s sets' kind of way.

1973 was an interesting year in America, more interesting than the '73 Topps design for sure. Secretariat, the GOAT of racehorses, won the Triple Crown. George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees. LBJ passed away. Spiro Agnew resigned as Veep. The Orioles won the AL East but someone else won the World Series, I forget who it was. ;-) The World Trade Center and the Sears Tower opened in NYC and Chicago, respectively. The Watergate hearing began. And OJ Simpson ran for 2000 yards, the first NFLer to do so.

The box (unlike that damn 1974 starter pile) had about 300 cards in it, and (hooray!) no dupes.  It included many star cards and overall the cards were in nice shape. It's probably the first starter lot I've bought which lacked any cards that immediately said: "upgrade me!".

Factoring in the Orioles team set I already had plus some stars I've picked up though the years I'm at 341 of 660 cards, about 52%. When I was done sorting and check listing I wound up with about 25 dupes, almost all were stars and Orioles. All the cards in this post are part of my stack of dupes and some are a bit rough around the edges, literally.

The only 'high ticket' card is, of course, the Mike Schmidt rookie. But I've been lucky in the past in finding reasonably priced  star/rookie cards and hopefully the Schmidt won't be the exception.

There is also a set of unnumbered team checklists almost identical to those that were issued in 1974. They are cheap and easy to find.

There are a few 'errors/variations' in the set, different coloring for some managers/coaches cards and 'broken' black borders around the photos on a few others. Nothing that sounds like it needs to be included in my binder.

That Mike Marshall card is interesting in that he had been with the Expos since 1970 and yet Topps airbrushed a photo of him in a Tigers uni. His days with Detroit ended when he was drafted by the expansion Pilots in October of 1968. So the photo is from spring training of '68 at best.

This is one of my favorite Boog Powell cards. Classic Powell swing on a bright Baltimore day with batboy Jay Mazzone in the background.

Like the Bob Moose card, this Lindy McDaniel is a dupe because I casually collect their cards. He was in his 19th season in the bigs and his 160+ innings were the second-most of his career.

I've put my '73 want list over in the right-side column. If you can help me out let me know. I'm sure we can work something out!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Set Build Update

This sort of thing doesn't mean much to anyone else but sometimes I need to pause and take stock of where I am in my set building. It helps me to zero in on what I need to look at and determine what project, if any, I can look at tackling next.

The three sets I'm actively working on with expectations of finishing in the not-too-distant future are:

1957 Topps Baseball. I am at 391 392 of 407 in the base set (96%). Of the sixteen I need only the Sandy Koufax is high dollar although the others are also in the semi-scarce 4th Series. (Since I began typing this yesterday I've won an auction for the Koufax card.) Still, these are not hard to find and only a few dollars more than the rest of the set's commons. I figure to have this one 'complete' by the end of the year if I can make the hotel shows between now and then.

Once I'm done with the 407 'regular' cards I will add the four unnumbered checklists and possibly the three 'contest' cards I lack. I consider the checklists to be part of the set but I may be content to binder just the single 'contest' card I own.

I have several cards in this set that could easily be upgraded. My friend Darryl has a new supply of '57s in really nice shape. I'm going to have an upgrade list ready for his next hotel show.

1974 Topps Baseball. My want list shows twenty cards. Eleven of those are 'Washington' variations. One is a 'variation of a variation' (#599C which is a font difference on a 4 player rookie card that has both a Washington and San Diego version). Factoring in some cards that have been put aside for me by a fellow blogger I have four empty slots in my binder. Only the #1 card of Hank Aaron has any cost attached. I've just been fussy about getting a decent copy on the cheap.

As with everything else concerning this set build, figuring out a percentage is complicated. I have the full Traded set and one copy of all the unnumbered team checklists. I am ignoring the 'star variation' on the reverse of those. And I have representative pieces of the inserts. I need nine 'Washington' cards (two of the eleven on my want list are promised). I have both versions of the Alou and Apodaca 'errors'. Let's call this set 98.5% done. Let's also call it a pain in the ass.

1969 Topps Football. This set (thankfully) is pretty straightforward. I have 222 of the 263 cards (84%). There is one silly error/variation, the 'red dot/yellow dot' Jim Turner card. I have one of them and I'm not too concerned with the other. Only the Csonka rookie card among those 41 I need is anything more than a common. I'll have this one done by years end if I don't get lazy. I have a wrapper and a couple of the '4 in 1' inserts.

This next set is a long way from being completed. Not because I need a ton of cards, but because they are pricey and not available at shows very often.

1960 Leaf Baseball. This is the black sheep of post-war vintage sets. It's not very popular and the 'second series' is scarce and costly on a per card basis. Try asking a dealer at a show if he or she has any 1960 Leaf. LOL You get 'the look'. Sigh.

There are 144 cards on the checklist plus the corrected Jim Grant/Brooks Lawrence wrong photo error. I have 100 of the 145 cards (69%) including both Grants. The 45 I lack are all part of the scarcer 'second series' and routinely list for over $20 a shot, much more in some cases (thanks, Yankee tax!). I've been trolling eBay lately and have found a few 'bargains' in the $8 to $12 range but those are rare. At the rate I'm going I figure to finish this, well, never. But everyone needs a goal, yes?

My other ongoing project:

1961 Topps Stamps. My other 'ugly duckling' chase! Topps issued 207 unique stamps plus a second Al Kaline. I won't go back over the oddity of this thing (some teams have more stamps issued than spots for them, other teams with fewer stamps than spots)but if you are interested you can check out this post I did in 2018.

The bottom line is that I need 42 stamps to fill the maximum slots in the album. I'd need 72 stamps to have a copy of each one issued. My goal is to just fill the album.

My effort to achieve that has been stalled lately. COMC has been my best bet for finding stamps but nothing I need has come up lately. Like the 1960 Leaf set these things never show up on dealers tables except for a few superstars like Mantle and Mays. But digging and scrounging keeps me occupied. Gluing that final stamp into the album is going to become cause for celebration!


My lists of needs for these sets can be found over on the right side column. Any help is most welcome.

I also have some other ongoing set chases (sports and non-sports) and player collection needs and I'll delve into them next time.

Oh, I did mention upcoming projects. I've gotten suckered into one with another blind buy of a card lot. Hopefully this goes better than the '74 chase. Here is a hint...