Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Best Binder Page

Last week Junior Junkie posted his "Best Binder Page" which consisted of the nine 'best' cards in his collection. He selected cards he's take with him to a desert island. His cards, not surprisingly, were all Ken Griffey Jr cards...and some beauties are on that page for sure. He issued a challenge to fellow bloggers to do the same and several have done so. I liked the idea and figured 'why not?' Seemed easy. Take my nine favorite cards and scan them as they sat in a nine pocket sheet.

Well, not so fast. As I started pulling out binders I found that choosing nine cards was next to impossible. I had a stack of about 25 I thought would belong on my list of 'favorite' cards and I hadn't even gotten to my box of slabbed cards. At first I thought I'd follow JJ's lead and select nine Brooks Robinson cards, or Billy Pierce cards, maybe nine John Unitas cards. But in the end I decided that I had to have my best binder page reflect my wider interests. And I realized that I had to make my own guidelines. So I did.

My Best Binder page would contain:
1) Non-slabbed cards. I decided to take the 'binder page' term literally. I know JJ didn't stick to that but I just wanted to scan a page in one piece. That left out a couple of worthy cards which I'll mention later.
2) Only 'Big 4' sports cards. I collect all kinds of off-the-wall stuff but most folks are not interested in my actresses, Japanese menko or George Jones/Merle Haggard cards so I left them out. I decided that the page would reflect a cross-section of my mainstream interests.

As it turned out I scanned my 'Best Binder Page' about a dozen times. I kept looking at it and thinking that there was a card that I had excluded that needed to be in it. I finally said 'enough!'. And the result is the page at the top.

I'll add a few words about each card below.

Brooks Robinson's rookie card from 1957 was the first 'big ticket' card I ever bought. And it's my favorite player's rookie card. It's the first card that went into the page.

The 1978 Murray rookie may be my favorite card of all time. It's certainly my favorite card of the 'modern' card era.

T206 Christy Mathewson speaks for itself. It's the coolest card I own. If I was only allowed to keep one card I think this would be it.

I was a huge fan of John Mackey. I've written previously: "[He] redefined his position and was a pioneer in the rights of the oft forgotten former players in his job as NFLPA president. Sadly his work kept him from induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame due to politics. On top of that he was a wonderful guy, great to fans. I got to see him interact with the public at a memorabilia show many years ago and he was personable and gracious." And this card comes from the terrific 1964 Philly Gum set. Special player, special card.

I couldn't leave out Billy Pierce. It was hard figuring out which card to include but this one comes from the very first card set I held in my hands, the '58 Topps. Truth be told my favorite Pierce items are not regular cards but rather some of the oddballs and specials I have, his Dormand postcard for example.

But I like the '58 Topps set more than most do. Nostalgia plays a part I'm sure. It's colorful...and this Pierce has the great 'flying sox' logo going for it. I'd have put the yellow letter variation here for added spice but I couldn't lay my hands on it immediately.

This is the only card that survived from my childhood collection, at least the only baseball card. '59 Gibson, as battered as it may be, is the centerpiece of my 1959 Topps set. Hey, it's Bob Gibson....on a pink card!

Love this 1961 Fleer Lenny Moore card. Probably my favorite football card. The Memorial Stadium scoreboard, the crowd, Moore's pose and the Colts' logo add up to something much greater than the sum of it's parts.

This Mantle from the '58 All Star subset was on my want list for years and years. I finally found one I could afford in decent shape and grabbed it. That got me to chasing the rest of that group of '58s and really got me going after more vintage subsets. It's been a lot of fun.

The 1961 Topps Wes Covington may be a common on the checklist but there is nothing 'common' about it. You can find this all over the card selling sites for a buck and change. That shows you how few folks appreciate art at it's finest.

And that's my Best Binder Page. I'll have to do a follow-up post on the cards sitting on my desk at the moment that I considered and left out. Any of them could have very easily nabbed a slot.

This nine pocket might be more significant for what I didn't include than for what I did. No Jim Palmer? I named one of my son's Jim Palmer so how could I leave him out. I dunno. I also left off my Johnny Unitas rookie card. It's in a slab and I have never gotten around to freeing it.

There were a bunch of other cards that could have easily made the page like Cal Ripken's rookie or maybe his minor league Rochester Red Wings card. It was hard to leave out one of my Jim Brown cards and I had a couple of Gordie Howe cards in the stack of 'semi-finalists but my best Howe card is slabbed. Same for my pretty Gale Sayers card. I'm looking at several Eddie Giacomin cards as I type and wondering how I can leave out my beloved Eddie! Again, I dunno.

And so it goes. Like most of the other bloggers who took on this challenge said or implied...."Ask me tomorrow and you might get a different group of nine cards".

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bobbles For Charity

Last week I attended a performance by the Spirit of Houston, the University of Houston Marching Band. Proceeds went to the band's scholarship fund. A silent auction was held in conjunction with the show and lots of UH sports memorabilia was up for bid.

I won a couple of lots and my favorite was this group of three UH related bobbleheads. The Guy Lewis is a dupe and this one will end up with a friend but the other two were new to me. Jim Nantz is a UH alum and he does a lot for the school. He joins Vin Scully and Chuck Thompson in a group of three broadcaster bobbleheads I own. Not too exciting but all three are among my favorite media types so that's pretty cool.

The one I really wanted was this guy, The Big E, Elvin Hayes.

The base is signed.

Hayes does Cougar hoops radio broadcasts so he's around the school a lot these days, and that's a good thing.

I recently had to install a couple additional shelves to accommodate more of my display items as I pull them out of boxes.

More shelves coming soon.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Jeff Gordon Retires Today (if the rain stops!)

Not much blogosphere interest in NASCAR outside of Raz and a couple of others but I've followed the sport for about 30 years. I'm not as big a fan as I used to be but I still track a couple of drivers including my favorite, Jeff Gordon.

If the rain stops today in Miami Gordon will attempt to go out with a bang as he tries to win his fifth NASCAR championship in his final race before retirement. 

Here are a handful of my not-too-substantial Gordon collection. 

When it comes to racing I've always been more interested in items other than cards. Like this signed 8x10. I used to join drivers' fan clubs (it's a racing thing) and things like this came along in the fan pack package.

With Gordon retiring and my other favorite, Tony Stewart, stepping out after next season I can see my days as a NASCAR fan waning even more.

In the meantime I will be watching Gordon with his hands up on the wheel today (hopefully) and maybe he'll pull off what will surely be a very emotional title run.


Gordon finished third among the championship contenders, sixth overall today. He jumped out front early and had some fans pumped up but after about the 1/3 mark of the race he wasn't really a threat. Not the way I'd have scripted it but that's racing. Next stop for JG, the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Battle of Wills

I needed a Derek Norris card for my Fantasy Baseball collection. Well, to be honest I wanted a 'Derek Norris as a Padre' card for my Fantasy Baseball collection. I had a Norris card but it was this one:

Wrong team, wrong year and you can't even see Norris' face.
Off On A Tangent Comment: Lots of folks love these kind of cards but I'd rather that a guy's base card at least show me the player in a way I'd recognize. But that's a debate for someone else's blog.
Back to the the Norris '15 Opening Day card. After my fantasy year was over I went through my binder. I looked for any card I could reasonably 'upgrade' from 'placeholder cards' (minor league card, wrong team, die-cut card, etc) to one with the guy's correct team.

I found the Padre Norris card with a "$1.15 BIN or Best Offer" price on eBay. I usually try to limit my fantasy cards to no more than a buck including postage but this was the cheapest one I saw. (Yes, cards are cheaper on COMC and SportsLots but with those I have to wait to buy enough to make the shipping worthwhile). Just for grins I offered the guy $1. He declined and counter-offered with $1.08 (LOL). So here we were, a dealer and I in a showdown over a crummy 2015 card and 7 or 8 cents at stake.

My online poker days are behind me so I just folded to his bluff and paid the $1.08.

I really like how bad ass Norris looks in this shot. Too bad he did nothing for my team in the week or so I had him.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Freeing Carl Yastrzemski

Nearing the end of my quest to complete the '63 Fleer set and I was down to just a handful of cards. Yaz was one of them. I found a decent enough copy very reasonably priced on eBay and won it with a $14 bid.

The down side? It was in a case. My vague rule of thumb....If it isn't some big-time valuable card and it's needed to complete a set it's coming out to breathe. Busting cards out of their plastic 'prison' always makes me nervous because I've messed up my share but Yaz wasn't all that difficult.

Ten minutes with a couple of small screwdrivers and the Boston hero was back on the scanner and then into his waiting slot in the binder.

You can tell by looking at the top scan that the corners are not as sharp as the scan of the 'free' Yaz make them appear. No matter, I'm very happy that Yaz is out of the case and in the house.

Just a couple of these to go. Let's hope my snipes hold up.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Please Don't Judge Me

I like oversized collectibles. Postcards, 8x10s, even those old 5x7 photocards that Topps (and others) foisted on us in the cardboard bloated 80's...all that stuff is in my collection. The '68 Dexter Press Photo Cards are one of my most treasured collectibles. So I guess it's no surprise that I bit when Topps produced this 'commemorative' 1970 World Series Champions set made up of 5x7 reproductions of 1970 Topps Orioles cards.

I don't know what the big deal about a 45th Anniversary is other than an excuse for Topps to churn out one more set in their line of Cardboard Icon stuff. While the 1970 set gets a fair amount of  well deserved criticism I cherish the Orioles in the set. I think Topps chose some really great pics.

This Cardboard Icon set contains ten cards plus the 'header' card shown above. As advertised they are blown up, gold bordered versions of  the originals. The set is numbered, I bought the cheapest available version which was numbered to 49 (why 49?) and my set is #5. If I was given a choice of sets I would have taken set #1 but #5 would have been my next choice. Not that it makes any difference in the grand scheme of things.

Anyway, here is Dave McNally. I like the fact that the larger photo size makes it easy to see what's going on in the background. McNally is posing with a bunch of hard working fellow Spring Training engaged teammates behind him.

The little World Series 'trophy' that's been added is embossed and stands out every so slightly from the surface of the card. Next up is the always smiling Paul Blair.

Boog Powell at Yankee Stadium. Looks like Mark Belanger is posing for a different photographer behind him.

Brooks Robinson in another Yankee Stadium shot.

Jim Palmer, Spring Training in Miami.

Frank Robinson, in still one more Yankee Stadium shot. He has the contented look of a man who knows a championship is in his future.

Davey Johnson posing as a second baseman flipping the ball to his shortstop or to a fan hanging out at the railing. No telling who that is way back to the left leaning into this Spring Training shot.

Topps included the two Orioles All Star cards, Brooks and Frank Robinson. The printing on these, especially the black ink, has a bit of the 'embossed' feel that is present with the World Series trophy logo on all the rest of them.

Like the fronts, the backs are replicas of the original cards.

Most of the backs are sharp and clear. They reproduced well. Except.....

...for Dave Johnson's card. This one is not nearly as sharp as the rest.

I saved one card for the end. Don Buford. I was scanning these as I opened the wrapper and didn't notice the fact that the team designation on Buford's card looks so terrible. How does this stuff happen on what is supposed to be a specialty (or at least premium priced) product? C'mon man!

UPDATE: I've contacted Topps Customer Service regarding the Buford card. We'll see what they say.

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Few More '63 Fleer

I'm close to finishing this set. I haven't scanned them all but I had a few scans ready to go. These happen to include some of my favorite 'enemy' players (read: non-Orioles).

Bob Gibson was just emerging as a standout when this card was issued. He had been a regular in the Cards' rotation for a couple of seasons and as a first time All Star in 1962 he pitched a couple of innings and allowing a run. I can't say for certain Gibby is the best righthander I've ever seen but he was definitely the most intimidating. Rather than repeat my favorite Gibson memory I'll just link to that post.

Bobby Richardson was a steady Yankee in the middle of their infield for most of the years I watched games at the Stadium growing up. He was an excellent 2nd baseman and pretty good hitter most years. My Dad (and Yankee broadcaster Phil Rizzuto) loved the guy. He's a good TTM signer as well.

I was always a fan of Tommy Davis and always thought of him as a Dodger. In the 1970s he came to Baltimore and showed he had something left in the tank. I was looking at his Baseball reference page and was reminded that he played for the Astros in 1969/70. I had absolutely no memories of him in a Houston uniform and I realized that it's because I was living back in New Jersey during the bulk of those two seasons.

In fact Davis played for ten different teams in his 21 year career. I had no idea. hey, he was third in the 1962 MVP balloting and picked up some scattered MVP votes 14 years later as an Oriole. Cool.

Frank Lary was a really good and very popular pitcher for the Tigers from 1955 thru 1961. He won a career high 23 games in '61 and led the league in complete games, finished third in the Cy Young voting, seventh in the MVP race and earned a Gold Glove. Then his career fell off a cliff thanks to shoulder problems. He had a terrible '62 season but Fleer included him in the set anyway.

When I wasn't rooting for the Dodgers as my NL team I was a fan of the Phils. This isn't among the better cards in the set. Ruben Amaro has his face obscured by the shadow of his cap brim and he doesn't fill much of the frame. But we do get to see some of Wrigley Field so there's that.

I was looking up some stuff on Amaro and clicked thru a couple of links to where I saw that his son, Ruben Jr., is now the first base coach of the Red Sox. Has anyone else ever gone from being a major league GM to a job as a first base coach?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

'63 Fleer Don Drysdale and Ron Santo

I've just about wrapped up the '63 Fleer set. I won a cheap auction for a Yaz and I'm looking at adding one more player card, Roberto Clemente as well as the elusive checklist.

Meanwhile here are a couple of the 'stars' of the set, Hall of Famers Don Drysdale and Ron Santo. That horrific looking 'crease' across the middle of the Drysdale isn't anywhere near as visible when the card is in hand. That seems to be a recurring theme with these. I'm not sure of why it happens. I guess my scanner just doesn't mesh with this set.

Both of these are Polo Grounds photos. I like how on the Santo card you get a hint of the apartment buildings on Coogan's Bluff behind the stadium.

I scanned the backs side-by-side for some unknown reason but it does serve to show the wide variety of shades of green you can find on these things.

Santo's card points out how his average fell off in 1962 from the previous season. In fact he lost about sixty points from his average and it was the lowest of his career until his last season which he spent with the White Sox.

Drysdale, on the other hand was coming off a career year. He had 25 wins pitching 314 innings. Three hundred inning seasons are a thing of the past. The last pitcher to reach that was Steve Carlton in 1980. If you have a minute scroll down to the bottom of Drysdale's Baseball Reference page and check out how many times he ranked among the leaders in various pitching categories.