Thursday, October 19, 2017

Billy Pierce Collection additions

Back in December of 2014 I was able to find an affordable Swifts Meats Billy Pierce. It took me by surprise to nab one in nice shape that I could afford. These are neat and unusual collectibles. When I posted that first one I did some research into how they were distributed when they were issued in 1957. 

It turned out that they came with packs of hot dogs AND via a mail-in order form. That post has much more detail and some links to info/checklists. Click here to go back to it

About a month or so I came across another listing for one of these in my general Billy Pierce search on eBay. The seller described it as a 'Type card', i.e. 'a piece of junk you can own just to say you have one'. But in the pictures it looked just fine, very collectible.  And he wanted $31 for it. I don't recall what I paid for my first one (it was 'graded' by some fly-by-night company) but it was over $100, maybe closer to $125. I mean these babies are pretty hard to find. And a quick search on eBay shows how much the going rate normally is.

So for $31 I had to take a closer look. It's got a stain and one of the punch-out body pieces is halfway 'punched out' but it's not that much worse than my slabbed one. I kept looking for the catch but I never found one so I grabbed it.

I would normally never buy a second copy of something of this ilk but at that price I simply had to pull the trigger. Heck, I'd buy one of these of a random player at that price. 

So anyway, I now have two of these. And at one point I never thought I'd even have one. 

I'm not sure which side of these is considered the 'front' so here are both sides. Click the link above for a look at what they are like when assembled and to see the game board they were supposed to used on.

This next item is much less significant in terms of hobby relevance but it was a more exciting pick-up for me. This is a J.D. McCarthy postcard of Billy Pierce that I never had seen before. I've refined my BP search on eBay to where I have eliminated the Topps cards and all the other common items that were showing up again and again.

One night this thing hit my screen and I didn't hesitate to nab it. McCarthy postcards are a great addition to player collections. I figured that a Pierce or two had been produced but there is no checklist available so I had no way to know for sure.

I'm a post card fanatic. Every season from about 1968 or so I would write to the Orioles requesting a price for their team issued postcard set. After a few years they began sending a souvenir list without my even writing. Once or twice someone in their PR office sent me the late season additions to the year's postcards unsolicited. I spent a decade or so putting together a listing of Orioles team issued postcards only to find out that it had already been done. At some point in the mid 1980s the Orioles got away from producing the sets, or at least including them on their price lists. I remember once calling their offices to inquire about them and getting no real answer. My collection really got moved to the back burner when that happened. (They have since resumed producing that cards but when they did so I have no idea.)

But meanwhile I had come across McCarthy's cards and I've amassed quite a few Orioles examples. The late Bob Lemke came into possession of McCarthy's files and you can read his post concerning that right here.

Well, I've made a short story long but the bottom line is that I've found a BP McCarthy and am glad to have done so. And to make it just a bit better the card was mailed between two of my favorite places, Chicago and North Jersey!

This last piece is another dupe that I added because it was cheap and available. It's a picture pack photo which was done by Jay Publishing as team sets in the early 60s. They were sold at stadiums, by mail order and at places like Manny's Baseballand across Jerome Avenue from the ballpark in the Bronx. I've posted this one and some other Pierce variations before. For a couple of bucks adding a signed copy didn't require much thought.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

TCMA The 60s Set Series II Minor League subset

The nine minor league cards from the TCMA Stars of the 60s Series II set have trickled in and I thought they were worth a post. As is the case with many of the TCMA sets this little subset seems to be random at first glance. Or maybe it isn't. It's as if they needed to fill in a gap so they used whatever photos they had at the front of the folder marked 'Minor League Pictures'. That would explain why there are three 'Andersons', Buford, Beard, Brickell, Cook and Coleman included. Pumpsie Green's picture had probably been misfiled with the guys at the beginning of the alphabet.

These are not in checklist order. 

Fritzie Brickell- Buffalo Bisons

The back of this card of short time Yankee Fritz Brickell lists him as a member of the Buffalo Bisons. That's an uncorrected (and uncatalogued AFAIK) error. He never played for Buffalo and he is wearing the uniform of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He played for Toronto in 1961 and '62. 

Interestingly Toronto is listed as unaffiliated with any MLB club for '61 but as a farm team of the Braves in '62. Which leads us to the next card....

Sparky Anderson-Toronto Maple Leafs

Sparky is 27 years old give or take in this shot from his stint with Toronto ('60-'63). He looks closer to 40...or maybe 50.

Below is the back of Sparky's card. It's printed with black ink unlike the rest of Series II (but it matches some of the cards from previous TCMA issues). It's also notable (and weird) that all nine of the cards have 'upside down' backs. In a binder you have to flip the page around to read them.

Ted Beard- Indianapolis Indians

The funny thing about Ted Beard is that he played for Indianapolis in 13 different seasons and through several different affiliations between 1947 and 1963. In between Indy stints he played in seven seasons for the Pirates and White Sox.

Pumpsie Green- Buffalo Bisons

Three things you should know about Pumpsie Green...his brother was Cornell Green who was a five time Pro Bowl safety for the Cowboys...his given name is Eliajh...he was the first African-American player to appear for the Boston Red Sox.

Syracuse was the Mets' AAA farm club and Green played there beginning in 1963.

John Anderson- Toronto Maple Leafs

The second of three Andersons among the nine cards belongs to pitcher John Anderson. He appeared in 24 games over three seasons for the Phils, Orioles, Cardinals and Colt 45s. He pitched for Toronto for three seasons in the early 60s.

Don Buford- Indianapolis Indians

Discounting Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson's dugout career Don Buford represents the best on-the-field major leaguer included. His time with Indianapolis was from 1962 to '63 when the team was affiliated with the White Sox. He put up some terrific numbers both seasons.

After some decent seasons with the Sox he was traded to the Orioles in 1968 and became 1) a handy and valuable switch hitter for three pennant winners and 2) one of my very favorite big leaguers. His stance was memorable and one I liked to imitate when we played corkball outside the dorms when I was in college.

Buford later managed in the Orioles organization, played several years in Japan and had a son, Damon, who played big league ball.

Choo Choo Coleman- Syracuse Chiefs

Clarence 'Choo Choo' Coleman was an Original Met having been claimed from the Phils in the '61 expansion draft. He began the '62 season in Syracuse which is when this picture must have been taken. He was with the Mets later in 1962 and 1963 and had a return six game engagement in 1966. Meanwhile he spent plenty of time in the Mets' system and finished his career with two seasons in Mexico.

If Baseball Reference is to be believed (and I do) then TCMA erred in saying on the back of Coleman's card that he was with Syracuse prior to his major league debut with the Phillies in 1961. Coleman, as noted above, played with Syracuse in 1962 after he was selected by the Mets. Spokane is probably the team they should have made mention of.

Craig Anderson- Buffalo Bisons

I've already posted these last two cards. Craig Anderson won three games and lost 17 for the 1962 Mets. He pitched for Buffalo during parts of each season from 1963 thru 1965.

Cliff Cook-Buffalo Bisons

Cook was a third baseman and outfielder who played one season's worth of games (163) over the course of five years for the Reds and Mets. He played for Buffalo in 1962 and '63.

And that wraps up my posts on the TCMA sets from 1978 and 1981. It was a fun project. A comprehensive  TCMA project would include more sets than I could ever hope to track down. Tom Collier and Mike Aronstein were very prolific producers of cards back in their heyday. All sorts of reprint, specialty and minor league sets flooded the marketplace in the late 70s and early 80s. None of them (or these 'Stars' sets) can compare with the mother of them all, their original SSPC monster, but these in particular are a whole lot of fun.

Lastly several folks have commented or emailed about collecting these Stars sets. Words of advice from someone who has tracked these for a long time. If you look online, particularly on eBay, you'll see wildly divergent asking prices for these things. I've seen Series I and II listed for over $120...each! I've also seen them going as a complete package for half that. So the advice is 'have patience'!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

TCMA The 60s Set Series II (Pt 2)

I need to apologize for these photo laden TCMA posts. I have a hard time narrowing down the cards I think are scan/post worthy. So many fun ones...and quite a few 'dogs' as well. I really believe that's part of the attraction of these things.

Anyway here are some more from the TCMA Stars of the 60s Series II set.'s a 188 card 'extension' of the 1978 Series I offering. It has lots of posed action and portrait shots like the original but adds some group/multi-player cards, game highlight cards (which I dubbed "TCMA Now") and some action photos. There is also a nine card subset of big leaguers of varying career success levels in their minor league uniforms.

Some of the better action shots are seen on horizontal cards.

Jose Tartabull in the yellow and green of the KC A's.. He's the father of a major leaguer, Danny Tartabull and the guy who won a big game for the Red Sox in August of 1967. Tartabull caught a fly with one out and Chicago's Ken Berry on third in the bottom of the ninth. His throw to Ellie Howard nailed Ken Berry at home and the game was over. That 1967 AL race was something else.

Dick Egan pitched in 70 games for the Tigers, Angels and Dodgers. In his career he allowed 13 homers. Not a single one came with his team behind on the scoreboard. I have no idea what that signifies but I found it interesting.

Bob Moose, a guy I collect. I saw his no hitter at Shea in 1969.

Yup, Teddy Ballgame gets a card in this one. He retired after the 1960 season so technically he qualifies as a 60s star. Hey, if you have a nice shot of Ted Williams in the batting cage in Sarasota  you use it. Ted gets a nice one paragraph career wrapup on the back.

Like the previous editions this TCMA release is comprised mostly of portraits. They run the gamut from mundane and/or poorly shot to damn near artistic. I've scanned some of interest for inclusion here. Such as this gem:

Rick Reichardt was an accomplished baseball and football star at the University of Wisconsin and the bidding war for his services led to the baseball draft being instituted. He hit the first homer in Anaheim Stadium according to Wikipedia.

I've never really gotten used to seeing Lou Brock as a Cub. Nice pic though.

It's a pensive Duke of Flatbush with the Mets at the Polo Grounds in 1962.

Len 'Boom Boom' Boehmer He had a cup of coffee with the Reds after a long minor league career and then got about a hundred at bats with the 1969 Yankees. He rented a house that summer in Nutley, New Jersey which was where I grew up and isn't much of a hike to the Bronx. I was living down the Shore by then but when I visited friends in Nutley we attempted to find Len in my old neighborhood. We were unsuccessful.

I think this is a sweet shot of Ron Fairly. That first baseman's mitt looks huge!

Billy McCool is here for two reasons. First. I always thought that was a fun name. And second there is some sort of wheeled vehicle on the field with him. Tractor? Motorcycle? Dunno.

If I drew up a list of big league pitchers I'd hate to face on the mound Don Wilson would be fairly high on it. He could bring it and he had a touch of Don Drysdale in him. Four years ago I posted this with another Wilson card:

"......when we moved to Houston and went to games in the Dome it seemed like Don Wilson was always the Astros' starter. He was a 'take no prisoners' kind of bad azz dude. His no-hitter in May of 1969 against the Reds came a day after Don Maloney had no-hit the Astros. Knowing Wilson the general assumption was he getting some revenge for the previous night's humiliation. But in this great game story from the Houston Chronicle it's clear that Wilson carried much more than that into the game."

Bo Belinsky...sorry for the lopsided scan. His New York Times obit is an interesting read. Bo got a lot of press for a lot of off the field notoriety.

Who else but Don Mossi?  Mossi pitched his last minor league season in 1953 in Tulsa. His manager was Joe Schultz.

Wally Bunker whose Rawlings glove I grew up using. I'm thinking of having it refurbished.

A nice shot of Richie Allen sporting the 'windbreaker under the jersey' look. If you think he's Hall of Fame worthy I won't argue with you.

Paul Blair wearing the number that Eddie Murray made famous in Baltimore. PB wore it in 1964 and 1965 before switching to #6.

Nelson Mathews played 157 games in center field for the A's in 1964. He hit .239 with 14 dingers and 60 ribbies. He led the league in whiffs as well. Why am I having a hard time even remembering him. Or the sharp uni the A's wore in 1962?

Bobby Shantz during his brief stint with the Houston Colt 45s in early 1962. Even at 92 he remains one of the surest TTM signers around. I oughta send him this card. It would look nice signed.

TCMA had some really nice portrait shots in their files. This one of Jim Bunning at Yankee Stadium is terrific.

Tim McCarver...batting practice shot. There are a handful of these in the set. I liked McCarver a lot more as a player than I did as a TV color man.

Bud Harrelson and Al Weis in one of those simulated infield action pics that you usually associate with the 1950s.

Tommy McCraw. I just like this card. The powder blue Sox uni is nice. McCraw made the last out and got the last hit for the Washington Senators. And while his one year playing for Ted Williams wasn't very productive he always credited Ted for teaching him the 'mental aspect' of hitting.

Larry Burright was a Dodger signee who was dealt to the Mets for the 1963 season. He got about a hundred at bats and was shipped to the minors before losing the 2nd base job to Ron Hunt. His nickname was 'Possum'. How does a kid from California end up with that name?

Wally Moon was Rookie of the Year in 1954 with the Cardinals, went on to win a Gold Glove, make two NL All Star teams and finish as high as fourth in MVP voting.

Don Hoak, another '1957 Topps-esque' card. the more I look at it the more I get a 1961 Topps vibe out of it.

The great Billy Williams. Can a Hall of Famer be 'underrated'? Maybe. Or maybe Williams was just a quiet guy who we never really think about these days.

Roy White. Whenever I see him I remember the great catch my father and I saw Frank Robinson make at Yankee Stadium in June of 1966. He robbed White of a game winning homer as he fell over the short right field railing. Ralph Houk got tossed out of the second game of the DH that evening during the lineup card exchange because he was giving the umps hell over the call. Houk could really pitch a fit when he needed to.

Joe Moock. I included this card because I'd never heard of the guy. He was a September call up in 1967. I'd moved to Houston (first time) in August of that year so I just missed him when I was going to Shea that summer. In the minors in 1966 he had 191 hits including 23 homers and 130 RBI. Never did anything approaching that before or after. In 1998 Steve Rushin of SI wrote The Ballad of Joe Moock about the Mets never-ending search for a good third baseman.

So that's a look at the third piece of the TCMA Stars sets. I received 6 of the final minor league cards I was lacking yesterday. When the last one arrives I'll scan them and post them. All I need to do now is page these things up in a binder. It's been fun.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

TCMA The 60s Set Series II (Pt 1)

The weird and wonderful TCMA Stars of the 50s and 60s sets ended with the 1981 issue of a Series II for the 60's set. It picked up the numbering at #294 with nine minor league players (including a Sparky Anderson card) and ran through #482.

The 'Big Leaguers' begin with this Maris/Mantle beauty at #303.

There is no card numbered #319 but there were two #399s so the speculation is that one of those was mis-numbered. Makes sense. Here are the two cards involved:

The numbers on the backs are tough to read. Be forewarned of that if you have to sort these. LOL My 64 year old eyes were not happy!

Here is a better look. 

The 'set' I bought was minus the minor league cards. The eBay listing only mentioned that there were nine cards missing without further explanation. When it arrived and I saw what I needed I was afraid that the minor leaguers would be some sort of scarce short prints that would cost me dearly. Turns out only the Sparky Anderson card carried a premium. The rest were available for under a buck for the most part. A quick trip to COMC and SportsLots garnered me the nine I was lacking and that was that. 

The first of the minor leaguers that arrived at my door (the only ones so far) are these two guys from the Buffalo Bison, a Mets farm club in the 60s. Scanning them I noticed that the backs are printed upside down. Just another bit of quirkiness. 

This is infielder Cliff Cook. He played in parts of five seasons for the Reds and Mets.

Craig Anderson was an original Met who was picked up from the Cardinals in the expansion draft. He pitched in 50 games in 1962 for New York. He worked mainly out of the bullpen but did make 14 starts. Here's a weird fact. Out of the bullpen Anderson won both ends of a doubleheader against the Braves on May 12. He had won another game as a reliever six days earlier over the Phils. Those three wins in the span of less than a week were his only wins of the season. He lost 17 others as well as recording 6 blown saves.

The rest of the set is chocked full of the same type of goodies that the previous TCMA sets contained. There are however more action and multi-player cards then were seen in Series I of the 60s set. 

The multi-players cards come with one caveat, two actually. All except one feature photos of either the Yankees or Mets.

Fairly easy to name the players without looking at the back. Here is the outfield that the 1969 Series made famous... Jones, Agee and Swoboda. Bleep 'em all.

This next one is id'd as being from spring training of 1962. It features the Bombers from the 1961 team: Maris, Berra, Mantle, Howard, Skowron and Blanchard.

And they were not all 'players'. We get the photos of the two NY clubs that include the staffs. This Met's pic is actually a Dodgers reunion shot with Casey, Gil Hodges, Charlie Neal, etc. All of whom were one time Brooklyn Bums.

The Yankees coaching staff smiled for the camera. Well some of them did.

And the guys on these cards were not all star players either. Look kids, it's Ron Taylor and Don Shaw!

The oddball of the group is this one of the Cardinals brain trust. 

I'm a bit disappointed that the back makes no mention of what appears to be a t-shirt cannon prototype but is undoubtedly a ball launcher.

Also sneaking into the mix are some actual game action cards. 

This one of Roger Maris greeted at home plate has game details on the reverse. Here is an expanded view for easier reading. Does this remind anyone of a current phenomenon? Let's label this one as a TCMA Now card.  And note the pencil check marks. Some of the cards with more than one person shown have these marks. My guess is that someone tried to guess who was pictured and was checking their work.

Here's another TCMA Now card...Gil Hodges and Ed Vargo...

...with the action annotated...

Most of the 'in action' cards were simply regular cards without the gory details. The Hammer got an action photo as a regular card in the set....

As did Steve Whitaker....

Ditto for Cardinal Ray Washburn. He once told my then 9 and 11 year old younger brothers to "Go to hell!" as he jogged on the warning track pregame in the Astrodome. All they had done was call his name asking for an autograph. If I hadn't been there to witness it I wouldn't have believed it. He was an ass but he knew how to wear a uni. Nice stirrups.

And there are others which seem to be cards taken during spring practice or game warm-ups as well as a few that are hard to classify...

The Yankees' Stan Bahnsen

Senator pitcher Barry Moore. He was one of those 'his card was in every damn pack!' guys in the late 60s.

The Astros' Hector Torres got a spring training photo on his card. Torres couldn't hit a lick (career .216 average) but he used his fielding skills to carve out a nine year career in the majors. He's a baseball lifer and his current job is the hitting(!) coach of the Bowling Green Hot Rods. They are the Class 'A' Tampa farm club.

Casey Stengel got his own card. There are quite a few managers and coaches in this series. Below is Danny Murtaugh enjoying spring training life.

and Ed Lopat in the gold and green.

I have a lot more interesting cards scanned but I'll save those for the next installment. I'll end this one with one of my favorites in the set. 

This shot of Ted Savage would look perfectly at home on a 1957 Topps card wouldn't it? Great posed photo in front of an empty Polo Grounds third base grandstand.