Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Reprise.... Eddie Grant (T-205 Gold Border)

NOTE: Today being Memorial Day I thought I would reprint the post I made in each of the previous couple of years showing Eddie Grant, the first major league player to die in combat in the service of the United States.

The first major league player to die in the service of his country was Eddie Grant. With a law degree from Harvard he was quite unlike most of his contemporaries. It was said that instead of the usual "I got it!" called out when a player has a bead on a pop-up, Grant would shout "I have it!"

A native of Franklin, Massachusetts, he played 9 seasons of baseball with four different clubs, most notably the Phillies for whom he held down the regular third base job for most of four seasons, 1907 through 1910. Although only a .249 career hitter Grant nonetheless was able to lead the NL in singles in 1909 and 1910 and in hits overall in '09. A better fielder than hitter he finished near the top of several defensive categories when he was a regular.

Grant appeared in the 1913 World Series with the New York Giants as a pinch hitter and pinch runner. He left the game after the 1915 season to open a law practice in Boston.

He enlisted when his country called as we entered World War I in 1917. Wikipedia summarizes his Army service and the details of his death on the battlefield in France in 1918:

Grant was one of the first men to enlist when the United States entered World War I in April 1917, and he served as a Captain in the 77th Infantry Division. During the fierce battle of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, all of Grant's superior officers were killed or wounded, and he took command of his troops on a four-day search for the "Lost Battalion." During the search, an exploding shell killed Grant on October 5, 1918. He was the first Major League Baseball player killed in action in World War I. He was buried at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in Lorraine, France.

This New York Times article (opens as a .pdf file) from October 22, 1918 relates the story in full.

I have the Eddie Grant T205 Gold Border (shown above) as well as his T206. The Gold Border cards are just a wonderful set and Grant's is a great portrait I think. Here are a few more pics and details from the life of Captain Eddie Grant found around the 'Net:

Here is the plaque that was installed in the Polo Grounds by the New York Giants to honor him.

It's position in the stadium is visible in this famous shot of Willie Mays' catch in the 1954 World Series. It's on the left under the 483 distance marker.

And finally, Eddie Grant's grave marker in Lorraine, France. R.I.P. and Thanks for making the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, Capt. Grant.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

PWE from Mark Hoyle

Mark Hoyle's mail-outs are truly like Forrest Gump's 'box of chocolates'... you never know what you're gonna get. But it's always fun.

Mark delivers an eclectic mix of old and new and almost always includes at least one really neat oddball item. One of his packages arrived late in the week and as always it was fun to open. The 1969 Johnny Callison stamp fills a need in my Callison checklist. Callison was never a superstar but he was a solid pro and four time All Star for the Phillies back when they were 'my team' in the N.L.

Chico Salmon was a handyman for the Indians and Orioles in the 60s and early 70s. He played on the three AL pennant winning Orioles clubs of that era and got a hit in the 1970 Series. It was his only Seres at bat for the Birds and he will forever have a 1.000 World Series batting average. His SABR bio is a fun read.

This is his Milton Bradley game card from 1969. I posted some of my other cards from that game last year. This Salmon card is new. I have a signed Salmon postcard somewhere that I need to dig up.

Creepy Card Alert!!!

How about this Action Packed Alex Ochoa? These AP cards are embossed and scanning it makes it look like he's wearing eyeliner, doesn't it? Looks like Ru Paul with a ball glove.

This is the back of the card but it could just as easily be the front. And probably should have been!

Mark also sent along some newer Orioles, some vintage and semi-vintage Orioles and a nice hoops surprise!

'72 Cro Crowley. He was a better situational hitter than he was a hitting coach.

I like this Fleer set more than I probably should. At one point I had it in a binder. Yup, that guy was me. I cannibalized it to reuse the pages.

This is my favorite Adam Jones card. He's a throwback guy on a throwback card. He signed more autographs during the spring games I attended than any other player.

And here is the hoops card. A 1975-76 All Star Rick Barry. He was sort of a prickly guy but boy, could he play the game. In this season he led the NBA in FT percemtage for the fourth time. He did it six times in all. I remember trying to imitate his unique free throw technique in intramural hoops Didn't work as well for me as it did for him!

I believe that's Mike Riordan that he's guarding in that pic on the card. Funny, I recognize a rather obscure 70s Bullet player from the 70s but outside of the bearded Hardin guy on the Rockets and Lebron James I wouldn't know a current NBAer if I met one.

Anyway, a big thanks goes out to Mark for the cards. Always, always appreciated. And Mark, I'm still on the look out for a Galen Cisco Topps Giant!!

I almost is a shot of Barry's FT style, and as a bonus, a look at one of the greatest unis ever! Smooth!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

TTM from Bobby Shantz

Yesterday I received my return envelope from Bobby Shantz. He signed three cards (more on that in a bit) and replied to my question. I'd heard he was a very good TTM signer and since I had seen him pitch and he was a favorite of my father I thought I'd send these off.

I actually didn't intend to send three cards. I normally would keep it to two. I often see that people send multiples of large numbers but to me (and this is not a criticism of anyone) one or two seems right.

I had the two Bowmans and the note in an envelope and ready to go a few weeks back after picking them up at a card show. But when the really sweet 1960 was available on COMC I bought it. I thought it would be cool to have a signed Shantz as part of my 1960 project. I had both Bowmans in one sleeve and intended to remove one but in my haste I just added the 1960 card to the envelope and off they went.

They came back in about a week. I've really happy with the sigs and how Bobby inscribed them. I had spent some time looking for a particular 8x10 of him in a Houston Colt .45s uni but ironically I couldn't find one that wasn't already signed and inscribed. But the cards and note will do just fine.

Bobby Shantz now joins Lindy McDaniel and Billy Pierce in my small but meaningful (to me) collection of sigs from players that connect me to my Dad.

Maybe I'll try a non-pitcher next!

Monday, May 18, 2015

It's Brooksie's birthday!

And in honor of my favorite player I'm posting a bunch of his cards and memorabilia that I've posted over time. Brooks Robinson was born on May 18th, 1937 in Little Rock, Arkansas. 

Here is a taste of his baseball life:

  • 15-time All-Star (1960-1974)
  • AL MVP (1964)
  • 1966 All-Star Game MVP
  • 1970 World Series MVP
  • 16-time AL Gold Glove Winner (1960-1975)
  • AL At Bats Leader (1961)
  • AL RBI Leader (1964)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 6 (1962, 1964, 1966, 1967, 1969 & 1971)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 2 (1964 & 1966)
  • Won two World Series with the Baltimore Orioles (1966 & 1970)
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1983

Happy Birthday to a great player and greater man!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

1973 Sadaharu Oh Menko card

This eBay pickup fills a need for me. For a very long time I've wanted a stand-alone Sadaharu Oh card issued during his career. I have a few other Oh cards but none of this nature.

With the help of Gary Engel's Japanese card guidebook I was able to ID this as a 1973 Menko from the set cataloged as JCM 15b. It is printed on thick cardboard, probably as thick as 3 vintage Topps cards put together.

In 1973 Oh was about 2/3 of the way through his outstanding career. He hit 51 homers which was his second best total ever. His .355 batting average was his career high and his total bases and slugging percentage were his best to that point in his career.

As is the case with many Japanese Menko sets the backs of the 15b's are interchangeable so they are no help in identifying players. It's sized at 1.75" x 3". For comparison purposes here is the Oh scanned next to my 1974 Frank Robinson.

The top edge of the Oh card is a bit ragged. Engle's book doesn't mention whether or not these cards came as pairs that were separated by collectors but given how Japanese Menko cards were issued it wouldn't surprise me at all.

All in all I'm pretty stoked to have this one. I don't have a huge collection of Japanese cards but I find them fascinating. I pick up singles that catch my eye here and there off eBay for fun. The different styles intrigue me and they are a fun look into another culture.  I'll continue to add to what I guess could be called my 'type' collection.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

1940 Play Ball Roy "Beau" Bell

Baseball Reference has always listed Roy "Beau" Bell as a University of Houston alum making it appear that he played there prior to his days at Texas A&M. The only problem with that is that the UH baseball didn't start until at least 1947. Bell might have played club ball while attending UH but he certainly never played at the intercollegiate level.

He ranks third in almost every stat category among pro players listed as UH alums according to BR. He's behind Tom Pacoriek and Micheal Bourn.

I wasn't aware of this when I added Bell to my Houston alum collection. But it's no big deal. I'm happy to add another Play Ball card to my collection. They don't get much love on the blogs. I think the black and white format and the humdrum card backs probably account for that.

Bell played seven years in the American League from 1935 through 1941. He played primarily for the Browns but spent time with the Tigers and Indians as well. His best seasons were 1936 and 1937. He hit over .340 both years and he led the league in hits and doubles in '37 while making his only All Star team.

In addition to this card Bell appeared on at least one Detroit regional issue and on a Wheaties panel.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

My three faves, a contest post

Frankie, who writes My Life In The Sports Card Hobby, has a little contest going that is right up my alley. He's asking fellow bloggers to post their three (or so) favorite cards. That's something I do in my head all the time. I thought it would be easy to do for a post. But it was much tougher than I figured. I have LOTS of favorites. The lists sit over on the sidebar of this blog and reviewing them I realized that I have cards I love that I don't even have on those pages. 

But in the spirit of the contest I gave it a shot. I decided to consider only baseball and leave it at three cards although Frankie was pretty liberal in his rules. Anyway, here goes:

1978 Topps Eddie Murray..... This one speaks for itself. I think it's a classic, one of the best of the era. It's the rookie card of a Hall of Famer in a pose that is seen on few if any other cards. Eddie Murray was a badass and this card captures that. It's far from my most valuable card but that makes no difference. I love this one.

The best card of my favorite player has to be on the list of my favorites. It was the first 'expensive' card I ever purchased. I recall finding it at a card show when they were still in their infancy. This one was at the old Allen Park Inn in Houston. The show, and buying this Brooks rookie, was an eye-opening experience. I have a nicer copy I picked up years later but this is a milestone card for me.

I don't have a lot of tobacco cards, a few dozen I guess. This one is the best of the lot. I could have put my T-206 Chief Bender here but the Mathewson is just a better looking card. Sure it's off-center but the idea that someone pulled this out of a tobacco package 100+ years ago is kind of awe inspiring. Mathewson was already one of the greats when it was issued. I bet this very card made someone very happy.

Both Mathewson and Bender were pretty much 'must haves' for me. I have a couple of books about Chief Bender and find him a fascinating character. As for Mathewson, he's from Factoryville, Pennsylvania where I spent plenty of time in the summers as a kid. I have an aunt who still lives there in a beautiful old home with an amazing view. Her late husband, my uncle, passed much of his baseball library along to me.

So there they are. My three favorite baseball cards. I was forced to leave off a few cards I truely treasure including my Bob Gibson rookie which is my only surviving 1959, my Koufax cards, and any number of others. If I make this list in a few months it might be different.