Saturday, April 25, 2015
I had many, many great times in Houston's Astrodome. I saw more baseball there than I could possibly recall, lots of Houston Oiler and Houston Cougar football (I sold beer at Oiler games!), and some basketball including Final Four contests, an NBA versus ABA All Star Game and of course, the Game of the Century between UH and UCLA.
I saw concerts, rodeos, boxing, Oiler Pep rallies, movie shoots (a Bad News Bears extra) and all kinds of other events.
Last Saturday the Astros gave away mini-Astrodome replicas to fans entering Minute Maid Park for the game versus the Angels. I was out of town but my son took his fiance and I was the lucky recipient of one of the Domes.
The 'Dome" is pretty detailed as you can see. The 'roof' lifts off to reveal the seating and playing field. They even included the gigantic a/c cooling tower which is just to the right of the entrance ramps behind center field.
We rarely get to games early enough to pick these giveaway items up. They go fast thanks to large family groups that buy the cheapest tickets and grab them and then don't stay for the game. Invariably I'll see a 'family' of 8 or 10, all carrying bobblehead boxes, heading away from the ballpark as we arrive to park for the game. And yes, just as I figured, I'm seeing these things on eBay at prices from $50 to $75. That's just the way the world turns now I suppose.
Friday, April 24, 2015
Last Saturday I was in Austin for a performance of All The Way, a play by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan based on Lyndon Baines Johnson’s first year as President. It was quite an experience and many of the themes, political manuvering and social justice in particular, resonate today. I'm an LBJ-phile of sorts and I've been looking forward to seeing it for some time.
The play had a hugely successful Broadway run in it's limited engagement. Bryan Cranston starred as LBJ up there. Steve Vinovich, Cranston's Broadway understudy stared as President Johnson and did a great job. Some of the supporting actors were not quite as polished but overall it was a great show.
The LBJ Library in Austin was heavily envolved in bringing the show to Austin and they had a lobby presence. They had a few items on sale including the LBJ bobblehead above. I've been wanting to pick one of those up for quite awhile and happily they were selling them for less than I'de seen them in other places.
I also purchased a campaign pin and "Stetson" LBJ hat pin while I was there.
The Alley Theater in Houston, with perhaps best regional theater comapny in the country, has announced All The Way as part of next year's schedule. I'm looking forward to seeing their version.
Thursday, April 23, 2015
A little over a month ago I put a package in the mail to one of my very favorite players, Billy Pierce. The envelope came back on Monday and I was very pleased with the results. Above you see the 1961 Topps card he signed. I selected that card because it's among my favorites of his since the picture shows him in Yankee Stadium, the only place I saw him pitch. I'd like to think that the photo was taken at the game I witnessed in 1960, the first one I ever attended with my father. It's highly doubtful but, hey, you never know.
I enclosed two other items. One was a note in which I asked him for any special memory of Yankee Stadium. His reply is a bit difficult to read but he said: "The Yanke(e) Stadium was the most exciting park I was ever in."
And Billy was kind enough to sign the photo I included of my Pierce PC. The sig smeared a bit, and it looks like the package (at least my note) suffered some sort of water damage but I was very happy to receive it nonetheless.
I'm not a serious autograph collector. And I already have several Pierce signed items. But to get these back makes my Billy Pierce collection that much more special to me.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Like the Exhibit postcards I posted the other day, these JD McCarthy postcards had been out of my sight for awhile. I've posted some JDMs previously but this is my biggest group. And, as an aside, I'm reminded that I really really need to get my stuff organised.
JD McCarthy worked out of Detroit and produced cards for many, many big leaguers (and pros in other sports) for mailing out to fans who requested a sig or a picture. How quaint.
Marv Breeding was the Orioles' everyday second baseman in 1960. He hit decently (.267) but for the next two years he shared the job and his numbers fell off. He finished his career with the Nats and Dodgers.
Next up is a pair of Steve Barber cards. Barber wore three different numbers during his time with the O's. Here are two of them.
Clay Dalrymple was part of the Orioles' three AL Champs clubs from 1969 thru 1971. He had already spent a decade with the Phillies, as a regular for some of that time.
In Baltimore he was essentially third string behind Andy Etchebarren and Ellie Hendricks. He didn't get a lot of playing time but he can brag of a perfect World Series batting average! He got two pinch hits in two at bats against the Mets in the '69 Series.
Milt Pappas in another spring training shot. Pappas is an interesting character to say the least. He won 110 games with the Orioles in nine seasons before being traded to the Reds for Frank Robinson.
Billy Hoeft had been around the AL with the Tigers and Red Sox before he came to the O's in 1959. He was around Charm City for three years but never really got a foothold on a rotation spot. 1961 was his best season. He finished his career with stints with the Giants, Braves and Cubs.
McCarthy postcards can be seen with any number of back designs. There are at least three seperate ones among my Orioles examples:
My newly re-discovered postcard trove isn't done but I'll throw a few other posts up before I dig in again.
Monday, April 20, 2015
I haven't picked up anything for quite awhile and as my outgoing envelopes dried up so have my incoming ones. So I did some digging into boxes that haven't been opened in awhile and found a few things I had forgotten about.
These are Orioles issued by the Exhibit Supply Company, for the most part in 1962 and 1963. they'd been issuing cards since the 20s and continued into 1980 or so. I remember them from vending machines on the boardwalk at Coney Island when I was young.
There are pics of the rest of the early 60s Exhibits on this page and links to other versions. The '62 and '63 versions are referred to as 'stat backs' as opposed to the blank backs that were issued for decades prior. But not all the ones in my collection have stats. In fact there are more blank backs among my Orioles than stat backs. Examples of the reverse with stats are below. They are standard postcard size.
Steve Barber. This one is in pretty rough shape.
Jim Gentile. My only horizontal Exhibit.
Boog Powell. Big John
Jackie Brandt. He looks like a high schooler.
Here are examples of the backs. Both black and red printing is seen and I believe most players can be found with both.
These were in a box with some Oriole player postcards I had been looking for. I'll have those scanned and posted soon.
Friday, April 17, 2015
I love love love old baseball mags. This one was a virtual 'throw-in' to an eBay purchase I made recently. I would usually buy one of these type of magazines every spring. I always bout the Street and Smith annual, and I got the Sporting News but I'd grab one of these 'junk' mags, too. This one is typical with superstar photos and breathless article teasers on the cover. I'm kind of surprised that none of them announce a player being 'at the crossroads'. There always seemed to be an article about some player in that situation..."Johnny Callison...at the crossroads!" or some such foolishness.
This is the index page. There are some two page 'feature' articles (see below), a 'Gallery of Stars'..i.e. one picture/one paragraph stories on several players. Note that the cover calls them 'Exciting" articles. Ooookaaay.
I'll give True credit for having some big name writers as contributors. Bill Libby, George Vecsey, Maury Allen and Leonard Koppett are familiar names to those of us old enough to have followed the game back then.
Here is Libby's Koufax story. Note the first paragraph swipe at Cassius Clay!
No mag worth it's salt could skip a story on the Yankees, even in down times.
I love this shot of Yogi Berra getting the heave-ho. Norm Siebern of the O's looks rather bemused by it all.
This is the one page feature on Juan Marichal.
Most teams got a two page spread previewing their '66 season. This is the orioles' entry:
For my Yankee fan friends. I knew this team very well.
Oh baby, True did NOT like the Red Sox. And they only got one page.
No self-respecting 60's baseball magazine would be complete without some classic ads. Here's one I don't recall ever seeing. It's for a product call the 'Dippy Disk'. It's not real clear from the ad but I assume it's some sort of 'flat' baseball that is made to curve when thrown. Sort of like a Frisbee I suppose. When I read this I was instantly reminded of Eddie Murray's story of how he and his brothers learned to hit by swinging at plastic coffee can lids.
And of course I think it was a government regulation that every magazine carry a Joe Weider advertisement. This was True's back cover. Back then, and even today, I find this mildly disturbing.
If these old mags weren't such a pain to scan I'd post a bunch more.
EDIT....For Joe Shlabotnik....
Kenny Boyer? Who the heck thinks of him as a Met? I don't and I saw him play there. Went back to look at his stats and I was reminded that he also played for the White Sox and Dodgers. I'm losing memory, fast.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
With the excitement of Opening Day wearing down a bit, and my fantasy team quickly rolling downhill, I am very much anticipating the NHL Playoffs which open tonite. Four games, eight teams and we'll repeat that tomorrow night. And most night for awhile. That means a lot of evenings spent with my sons at Houston's Maple Leaf Pub. During the Cup playoffs hockey bars are just so much fun.
My Rangers have their first game Thursday and due to a concert I bought tickets for many months ago I'll have to keep up with the game via my phone while it records on my DVR. And, just my luck, we have a commitment for Saturday evening which is when the second Rangers-Pens game is scheduled.
I'm posting my two Eddie Giacomin signed photos here. The Rangers have had some great goalies since he played here but none of them will ever replace him at the top of my list of favorites.
The item below is a Topps 'poster' insert from 1980/81. I picked it up for 99 cents recently after seeing a different team's poster on someone's blog. Seeing 'N-E-W Y-O-R-K" spelled out on the blue sweater is always odd to me. I grew up in the 'dark sweaters at home era' and the times that teams wore the opposite scheme was a time I had very little access to 'live' NHL action.
So, if you are a hockey fan, hang on and enjoy the ride. There is nothing like the NHL playoffs.
LET'S GO RANGERS!!!