Sunday, October 21, 2018

New York Rangers Matchbook Covers

Well, if everything has gone according to plan and Blogger is cooperating (harrumph) this will post as I'm inside Madison Square Garden in beautiful New York City. I'll be watching just my second Rangers home game since 1970. The last time I was in the Garden for a Rangers game was 2005 against the Sabres and I'm not ashamed to say I was very misty-eyed walking in after 35 years.

I'll try to hold it together this time.

In honor of that I'm posting my oldest Rangers memorabilia pieces, three matchbook covers featuring players my father saw as a kid in the 30s. The Rangers were the only team he and I 'shared' and I will always remember his rule on weekends when the Rangers were playing....'No TV or radio allowed'. Together we would watch the same-day taped game broadcast, usually on the basement TV. He didn't want the result known beforehand. I had usually snuck a listen to my transistor radio or learned the score from my friends on the block. I never told him though!

Ott Heller, Murray Murdoch and Butch Keeling played together in the old MSG for most of the 30s. The Blueshirts were a fairly successful franchise in those days. Between their joining the modern NHL in 1926 and 1941 they won three Stanley Cups and made the playoffs in all but one season.

Ott Heller's actual first name was 'Ehrhardt' and was known as 'Ott', never Otto, at least in every Rangers reference that I own. The matchbook cover is in error.

Heller, Murdoch and Keeling played together on one Cup-winning club...the 1932/33 Rangers. And no, I am not old enough to have seem them in person. I only go back to about 1958 as a fan.

I love the reference to a team nickname I've never heard, the Garden Horsemen, on Murdoch's cover. I don't know and can't find any backstory on that. But I like it.

As I type this early in the week the Rangers are looking even worse than I expected them to look so far. But win or lose the game I'm watching on Sunday this is my team, always and forever. #LGR

Saturday, October 20, 2018

One card...but it's a beauty

At least I think it's a beauty. Which is why I bought a card of a player I've never heard of from a set I'll never probably buy another card from.

It's a 1911 Obak cigarette T212 card of Los Angeles Angels outfielder Curt Bernard. And I don't know him from Adam. But that fairgrounds background is just fantastic. I chose it from a group of these because that painting is so well done.

This paragraph comes from Wikipedia (links theirs) and if it's correct I may know the park shown in the distance:

From 1903 through 1925, the team played at 15,000-seat Washington Park (also known as Chutes Park), just south of downtown Los Angeles. Both the team and the park were founded by James Furlong "Jim" Morley (1869–1940), an entrepreneur involved in bowling, prize fighting, billiards, and gemstones as well as baseball.
Assuming that is the Angels home stadium it's Chutes Park.The above Wiki passage isn't clear but the link makes it plain the Chutes Park was their home through the 1910 season and Washington Park is a different structure on the same grounds opened in 1911.

Barnard was about a decade removed from his two 20ish game runs with the New York Giants. The first coming in 1900 and he had another shot the following season. But his 15 year pro career was spent primarily in the minors and mostly in the PCL with Los Angeles.

The Cardboard Connection has a nice, concise article on the Obak cards which were issued over three years with each year's set having a distinctive back. This 1911 is part of the last Obak issue. Only PCL players appear on these. Back then the PCL was within spitting distance of being a third 'major' league. That CC article link above discusses that.

The red-backed 1911 group is the only one of the three to feature stats and a small write-up of the player on the front.

I wish I had the resources to go after more cigarette cards from this era. They are just wonderful pieces of history. I know not everyone is enthralled by them but I certainly am. My collection isn't very big. I have a couple dozen T206s, half that many T205s and a scattering of others. This is my first, and likely only, T212.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

1953 Bowman Color is hard to beat

I stuck my nose into someone else's Twitter thread the other day when the subject of buying a nice vintage card came up.

I tossed out the idea of getting a '53 Bowman and did so by posting my Stan Musial in the thread. Hell, I'll put it here again because I love it so much. My blog post on this card from earlier this year had some of my other '53 Color Bowmans. Click and scroll if you want to.

I was reminded that I had some new additions to my '53 Bowman Color collection that I have scanned but not posted. These came (if memory serves) as part of a group of miscellaneous and oddball stuff I bought in a sale benefiting a dog rescue group.

Check 'em out:

That is Herman Wehmeier above with the chewed up corner. I didn't scan the back but his makes note of the fact that he's a 'hometown boy' having been born in Cincinnati. That's the Polo Grounds he's in. You can see the apartment buildings that were behind the third base side of the place through the openings in the walls of the upper deck.

Next up, Lou Kretlow is posing in 'the big bahlpaak' as Red Barber called it with his Mississippi drawl back in the day. Kretlow was a Sooner who was signed by the Tigers and pitched for them, the Browns, Orioles and A's in addition to the White Sox. This page has a clip of him, Mickey Mantle and Joe Black playing in a Florida golf tournament for ballplayers. Kretlow appears at the end being interviewed as the winner. The whole clip lasts less than a minute.

A last note on Kretlow. The back of the card mentions that he was 4-4 for the Sox in 1953 but adds that his ERA, "the best test of a pitcher's ability", was 2.96 and winning my old-school-stat heart.

Lastly we have the best known of the three pitchers, Joe Nuxhall. Nuxsie is, of course, well known as the youngest player to appear in a big league game. He was 15 when he debuted in 1944. The card speaks to that fact and adds that he returned to his high school team after that stint thus becoming "undoubtedly the only boy ever to play in the majors then to resume high school sports." Indeed. After his playing days he was a long-time radio broadcaster for the Reds.

This is another great Polo Grounds posed shot.

If I ever hit the Texas Lottery (unlikely since I don't buy tickets) I'd find a nice, ungraded 1953 Bowman Color set and have the time of my life putting it in pages. Other than that I'd never attempt to chase it. That wonderful Mickey Mantle card will never otherwise be within my reach. And I'm not chasing a set I can't finish.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Joe DiMaggio and Friends in 5 Minutes?

Five Minute Time Begins.......NOW

OK, I'm not sure who's idea this was and looking it up will waste time but several bloggers are doing the 5 minute post thing so I'll give it a shot. Please don't be a smart ass and comment that most of my post look like I did them in 13 seconds. I already know that.

I've added several postcard sized cards recently. Here are three more.

A Joe DiMaggio Exhibit bought from a Net54 guy. My first career-era Joe D piece.

R314 Goudy Wide Pen of Joe and his manager, Joe McCarthy. My last bio of Joe said he had a rocky relationship with McCarthy.

Chuck Klein R314 came along with the Joe D/McCarthy. A fun addition. I have no good info on Chuck.

I'm prepping for a vacation so this five minute thing is a good idea.

20 seconds left!! I made it!!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Beatles Exhibit cards

It's Saturday morning and I'm busy getting ready for a vacation trip so I figured I'd toss up a few scans I've had kicking around for awhile. These Beatles Exhibit cards are pretty common (and pretty unattractive) but I was a big fan back in the day and these are a nice, cheap, career contemporary memorabilia piece of each of the Fab Four.

They are blank-backed as are most all Exhibits. The stat-back sports versions being the notable exception. 

Maybe it's me projecting but it seems that these cards catch the four of them as the teen public saw them back in the 60s. George is bemused, Paul sort of dreamy, John is serious .....

..and Ringo, well Ringo is morose and maybe befuddled. In other words he was looking like Ringo.

The Exhibit Supply Company that produced these things just took whatever pics were available, in this case some sort of publicity stills, and made the cards rather haphazardly. Thus the sigs are cut off on these and every other example I've ever seen. Speaking of the Beatles and Saturday mornings....Joe Shlabotnik made a Beatles' 'FrankenAlbum' with a fun series of Saturday morning posts about a year ago. If you are a Beatles fan and somehow missed it you can click that link. And speaking further of the Beatles and Saturday mornings.... they were the stars of a cartoon series that ran for several years beginning in 1965 I think. The four 'moptops' (haven't heard them called that in a long time) looked like this:


YouTube videos of the cartoons tend to come and go apparently due to copyright issues with the music that was included. But as of now there is a full segment available. Enjoy.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Hotel Show Bat Guys

I finally made another hotel card show this past Saturday after life things had gotten in the way of the past several. It was good to catch up with my friend Darryl who puts on these shows.

One of his regular table-holders wasn't there though so Darryl had tables on which he was able to spread out a lot more of the stuff he normally doesn't bring with him. That included a whole bunch of 'action' figures/statuettes/toys or whatever you want to call them. There were a lot of Starting Lineup-type sports figures but I wasn't interested in those. The Batman ones, well, they caught my eye for sure.

Darryl had them marked cheap and had a BOGO sign there as well. So for a couple of bucks I added two Dark Knight toys. They are metal and feel (and look) pretty well made. Of course I didn't have the patience to photograph them still in the packages but they came with cards which ended up in my batman collection binder.

I realized that the pic at the top gives no perspective so with that in mind I just took this photo with a card in it. It's Batman (the Animated Series version) with his friend, Solly Drake.

The packaging and the backs of the cards show the figures are Kenner products and the cards are from SkyBox. A bit of google work shows the toy series, Action Masters,  included other action heroes but in my book Batman is the ONLY action hero!!

Oh, and I found a Topps Batman movie set sticker in one of Darryl's non-sports boxes.

Batman is The Man! I picked up a large Batman sketch and another sketch card recently. But the sketch was the worst-packages eBay purchase to ever show up at my door. Well, second worst. And it now is sitting between a couple of coffee table books recovering until its presentable. I'll get it scanned one day soon.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Ripped From The Headlines

I think is the second Topps Now card I bought this year. A few Fridays ago I was at the Astros-Angels game when Yuli Gurriel hit a pair of homers. At some point, the scoreboard listed the top fantasy point-getters for the baseball day thus far and there were two Gurriels at the top. 

I pointed out to my son what I thought was just an odd coincidence and he informed me that those two Gurriels were, in fact, brothers. Lourdes Gurriel of the Jays had hit two homers and they became the first brothers to do it in the same day. I've always said that the only Topps Now cards that would interest me were those that I had a direct connection to*. This one falls that category.

On a side note...the coolest thing about the game was the fact that we had awesome (and free!!) seats. Oh, and Mike Trout hit a very impressive homer.

I wouldn't normally post one of these but I was intrigued by the back of it. I noticed that Topps puts a hologram (?) of their logo there. I hadn't seen that in previous Topps Now cards and found it an interesting that they would do that. Are these things being forged? If so, why? Seems like it would be a lot of work for not much return. But what do I know?

Note that the top picture, of the front of the card, is a scan. I used my phone to catch the hologram effect in the second picture.

That's all I got. Time to go work through the hotel show spoils.

*=I sometimes end sentences with prepositions. Its just how I roll.

Friday, October 5, 2018

And Our Long National Nightmare... over! Leroy Ellis, newly minted (in 1970) Portland Trailblazers pivot, had an eventful trip (in cardboard form) from North Carolina to my house recently. Ellis' card was the last I needed for my 1970-71 Topps basketball set. It was one of several SPs that finally dipped into my price range in the last few months.

My patience paid off when I found one at a really nice price on eBay. It was even bundled with a second card (Hi Earl!) at a cost below what I had been seeing online for just the Ellis card. So I grabbed it. Weeks went by and then I received a note from the seller..."Your package came back as 'undeliverable, no known forwarding address' ".

That was pretty weird considering I've lived in the same house since 1983. But the seller, HomePlateCards, said they would resend and refused to let me at least help with the re-shipping. A couple of days later I had Leroy Ellis in hand and soon 'in binder' and another set is put to bed.

Leroy Ellis was a durable, quick center for a decade and a half in the NBA. He averaged 8 rebounds and just under ten points a game. He was never an All-Star but you don't play that long without skills. That card shows him in his Bullets warmups.

The second card, of Earl the Pearl Monroe, isn't an upgrade on the one in my set already but it'll find a spot in my 'favorite hoops guys' binder. He was fun to watch with his head fakes and spin moves.

 I'm expecting the final card from the other set I've been actively chasing to arrive in a day or so. That one will be the case for more celebrating.

A little bit of Earl Monroe as the NBA season approaches:

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

1922 Kolbs Bakery Bender Pin

Charles Bender loved baseball and after his major league (and Federal League) days had ended in 1917 he pitched and managed in the minors before returning to the big leagues as a coach for several organizations. Along the way, he also coached the US Naval Academy team for four years.

In 1922 he was managing the AAA International League's Reading (Pa.) Aces and took a regular turn on the mound. He threw 183 innings at the age of 38 and had some pretty impressive numbers. That same year the Kolb Baking of Philadelphia issued this small pin as part of an ongoing set that continued into 1923. The pins promoted Kolb's Mothers' Bread. 32 different pins are known and the ACC classification is PB4.

The pins are small. I took this picture to show some perspective:

Bender is not the only well-known name in the set. Al Schacht aka 'The Clown Prince of Baseball' is also included. I have problems taking glare-free pics with my phone and I'm too lazy to dig out my digital camera so I'm including a shot from an online auction of three other PB4s.

EDIT...In the comments, Fuji asked if there was any info on how these were distributed. I had spent a bit of time poking around previously but hadn't found this until I played around with different search terms:

This is a store display item that was auctioned thru Goodwin Auctions' site in 2014. The text description implies that the pins were distributed with the packages of bread themselves. Here is the text from the auction description:

"In 1922 and 1923 Kolb’s Bakery, makers of Mother’s Bread in Reading, Pennsylvania produced a set of small discs which were included with loaves of bread as a sales premium. The Reading International League entry was known as the Aces in 1922 and changed to the Keystones in 1923. Another significant change for 1923 was the departure of Chief Bender who had served as the team’s player/manager the previous team. Thirteen of Reading’s 20 players on the 1923 roster would log time in the majors. To help promote the collectors’ disks, Kolb’s Bakery created these marvelous store displays, showing all the players in the set, while silently teasing children to get their mom’s to buy Mother’s Bread. We can only assume the promotion met with marginal success, considering the set was abandoned after a mere two years"

Sunday, September 30, 2018

T205 Bender

 EDIT: As was pointed out in the comments the T205 set was issued circa 1911, not 1905. Not the first time I've screwed up something obvious by 'distracted posting'.

When I was a 12-year old I hung out at the corner store, drank RCs, talked about girls and bought baseball cards. In 1905 1911 12-year-olds hung out at the corner store, drank RCs (new that year), talked about girls and begged the grown-ups for the baseball cards that came in their cigarette packs.

One of those cards was this beauty...a T205 of Charles Bender of the Philadelphia Athletics. He was just coming into his prime in 1905. He was a full blown star in 1911 and helped his team win the second of three championships they accrued between 1910 to 1913. He had emerged as a rookie in 1903 and was on his way to a Hall of Fame career as well as a life in baseball that lasted for decades. His SABR bio is well worth the read.

My collection of Bender cards is growing slowly but steadily. This is the latest. As cool as the iconic  T206 set is, I'm just as big a fan of the T205s. The colors, gold accents, secondary illustrations and the portraits themselves are terrific.

I hope I'm never so jaded that I lose the thrill I feel to hold a card that made some 12-year-old happy 113 107 years ago.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Sometimes You Just Get Lucky

I'm down to one card to complete the Topps 1962 set, the Twins Team card. It's been easily the most challenging of my vintage 'chases'. But it's also been fun and very satisfying. My next-to-last pickup was this Bob Miller card.

Bob here is one of two 'Bob Millers' in the '62 set. This Bob is a.k.a. 'Bob G. Miller'. He was at the end of a decade-spanning career in the majors and found himself as part of the floundering expansion Mets. He had started the season with the Reds but was dealt, along with Cliff Cook, to the Metropolitans about a month into their inaugural season. The trade sent Don Zimmer to the Reds. Cincinnati was at .500 and sitting in 6th place in the NL when the deal went down. They soon ripped off a winning streak, bounced up into third place by June. They spent the whole second half of the season right there in third, looking up at the Dodgers and Giants who had a dogfight for the lead that ended in a playoff.

The Mets, on the other hand, were historically lousy all season. They ended up 40-120, a mark that even the 2018 Orioles couldn't fall to (though not for lack of trying).   :-/   As for Bob here, well it's easy to see why the Reds were OK with moving him. He had pitched in five games to that point and had been manhandled to the tune of an ERA near 22 and a WHIP of over 3. He wasn't as atrocious with the Mets but he wasn't lights out either. 1962 was his last season. The guy who had broke in with the Tigers in 1953 as a big money 'bonus baby' and been a rookie along with Al Kaline hung up his spikes at the age of 26 with a total of six big league wins.

Miller's card, #572, commands a premium. And when I say 'premium' I mean over the usual bump that commons in the short-printed high numbered last series normally get. I know there is a 'Yankee Tax' that is paid when buying cards of guys like Bill Stafford and Rollie Sheldon, but I don't think Mets carry that burden. Maybe 1962 Mets' cards do. I know that the Al Jackson card was oddly elusive and expensive but I chalked that up to it being a rookie card, even an Al Jackson rookie.

Miller's card isn't too tough to find but it regularly lists in the $20-$30 range, even raw and in middling shape. I sucked it up and paid the price on the Rookie Parade cards I needed (they bring up the rear of the set in the 7th Series) but I refused to shell out $25 for a raw Bob G Miller. My solution was to set up a 'bid group' using Auction Sniper and stick a $10 bid on every single Bob G Miller that came along.

I wasn't keeping track but I know I missed out on a couple dozen copies of this card. But I had patience. Bid Grouping has never failed me. And it didn't this time, either. It did take weeks and weeks but I finally had a Miller fall through the cracks! I won this puppy for about a buck and a half. Even with a few dollars for shipping, he was in my binder for under $5.

Check out the back:

I like that it (and other high numbers) references the current baseball season. Here it mentions the trade that brought him to New York. The cartoon (by Jack Davis I think) has a headline entitled 'Major League Performance' which is odd because the subject is a minor league no-hitter Miller threw. But you can also read it as 'hey, this guy had a big-time accomplishment'. Whatever.

In case you were wondering the other Bob Miller in the set was also a New York Met!

Bob L. Miller came from the Cardinals as the Mets' 1st pick in the 1961 expansion draft. He went on to pitch for 17 seasons for nine different clubs. He finished up with his second stint as a Met in 1974. Here is his 1962 Topps card from my binder:

The Bob Millers are only referenced using a middle initial on collectors' checklists and the like. Neither card makes use of it or mentions the fact that there are two guys with that name in the bigs. If Baseball Reference's Bullpen Wiki is to be believed the two Bob Millers were not only 1962 Mets teammates...they were also road trip roommates!

And if you are interested in the Topps '62 set and some of its quirks you should take a glance at this page which shows the 'green tint' variations all in one spot.

I'll hold off on more about my '62 set adventure until the last card is in the binder. I've got that Twins Team card in my sights.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Odd Man Out...T206 Harry Steinfeldt

The famous poem from 1912 entitled Baseball's Sad Lexicon was penned by Franklin_P._Adams and extolled the on-field virtues of the Cubs' double-play combo of the day...Tinker, Evers, and Chance. I have the three players on their T206 cards and wrote a post on them a few years ago.

Of course, infields have four players and while I knew the name of the overlooked third-baseman, Harry Steinfeldt, I never thought about him having a card in that set, much less tracking it down. A Net54 member had one up for sale not long ago so I bought it. Makes a nice companion for the other three.

Steinfeldt had a long career that began with a couple of years in Texas playing minor league ball in 1885 in Texas...Houston, Fort Worth and Galveston specifically. His days with Galveston predate the horrific Galveston Hurricane of 1900 which remains the worst natural disaster to ever hit the United States.

He began his big league career with Cincinnati in 1898 and came to the Cubs in 1906. He helped them get to the World Series that season by leading the NL in hits and RBIs. The Cubs lost to the White Sox in the Series that year but came back the next two to beat the Tigers for the crown twice. They played in a fourth Series, losing to the Athletics, in 1910. that was Steinfeldt's last hurrah with the Cubs.

Manager Frank Chance sold him to the St' Paul club who traded him that summer to Boston in the NL. He finished that season with the Braves, spent 1912 with Louisville and then left the game. He died two years later of an undisclosed illness at the age of 38.

Here is the poem and what Wikipedia has to say about it:
The poem was first published in the New York Evening Mail on July 12, 1910, under the title "That Double Play Again." The day before, the Cubs had defeated the Giants, 4–2, in Chicago, having squelched a late-inning Giants rally with a double play from Tinker to Evers to Chance.
The poem, soon renamed "Baseball's Sad Lexicon," became popular across the country among sportswriters, Grantland Rice among them, who wrote their own verses along the same vein. The poem only enhanced the reputations of Tinker, Evers, and Chance over the succeeding decades as the phrase became a synonymous with a feat of smooth and ruthless efficiency. It has been credited with their elections to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946.
 And finally I'll repost my T206 cards of the 'stars' of F.P.A.'s work:


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Johnny Unitas 'Golden Arm' Matchbooks

Johnny Unitas' Golden Arm Restaurant was a Baltimore hot spot in its heyday. I vaguely recall my one visit back in 1970 (I think). Mostly I remember being disappointed that Johnny U himself was not there to greet me, his biggest fan, at the door with a hearty handshake. Probably just as well since I would have likely fallen over flat on my face had it happened. In 1988 Johnny U sold the place he had founded with teammate Bobby Boyd.  And then, a victim of suburban grocery store expansion, it closed in 1994.

From time to time I seek out a menu from the place. But I never have much luck given that I am not going to bid very high on something that'll end up stuck among my Colts publications. And that's fine. One day one of the menus will fall through the eBay cracks and land in my lap.

What I have had luck with was finding a cocktail glass from the bar (since lost to a deadly fall from a closet shelf) and a couple of matchbook covers.

These two standard size covers both came as full books of matches way back when. But the covers fit better in a binder page so that's how they ended up.

The gold one is pretty fancy as befitting a joint with "Elegant Dining in a Relaxed Atmosphere". 😉

But I like this next one more.

It's got that great posed 'action' shot of Unitas on the white 'Close Cover' panel.

This next one is relatively new. I found it in one of my 'John Unitas' searches and with it I learned that there was a 'Golden Arm' at the Orlando Sheraton near the airport there.

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the restaurant's opening. There is a Facebook page dedicated to it. These pics came from that page. Since I've left Facebook in my rearview mirror I figure there isn't much they can do if I repost the photos here.

Here's a menu. I found a few archived reviews. They had good things to say about some of the seafood dishes. I recall having a burger but that may just be my imagination. I don't see one on the menu.

This next one is my favorite. Dig the plaid sports jacket that Frank Robinson is wearing. Men's fashion in the 70s was NOT a thing of beauty.