Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Pause That Refreshes

Taking a quick break at the halfway mark of my 10 things posts. I finished off this page in my 1961 binder over the weekend when the Yogi card arrived. An interesting (to me) page. Lots of yellow/red name/team blocks here. With a bit of blue and an orange outlier thrown in. Also lots of star power here with Kaline and Maz in addition to Berra who is at Yankee Stadium as is Turk Lown.

Lown was nearing the end of an 11-year career, mostly as a reliever and it was one of his better ones. Dick Ellsworth had a handful of very good seasons in a rollercoaster career. This pic was used again for his 1962 card.

I had never really associated the Ray Barker in this set with the 'Buddy' Barker on the Yankees when I lived up there in the late 60s. Same guy. He had a long minor league career and had a short stint with the Orioles in 1960 before re-appearing with the Yanks later in the decade. My original copy was extremely miscut so I recently upgraded it to this one.




Looks like Maz was photographed in Wrigley. Stobbs as well (he was with the Cards in '58 so it's possible). Stobbs pitched 15 seasons, mostly for the Red Sox and Senators. Coot Veal's name was always worth a second look as a kid. His real name is Orville Inman Veal.


The Braves team card is in the spot it would have been had Topps not messed up and mis-numbered it. They gave it #426 on the checklist but the back has #463 as does Jack Fisher's card. Sticking it in the 'correct' slot was a simple solution for me.


Those team card backs with pitchers W-L versus the other teams provided me with hours of entertainment. I'd wonder why Spahn could have such good results against the league but go 1-5 against the Pirates. Bob Buhl beat the Bucs four times but the rest of the staff could only win five? Then I'd probably remember that the Pirates won the pennant and I'd go look at the rest of the NL team cards I had to see how they fared against the champs. A great time to be a kid with your cards.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

10 Posts, 10 Cards, 10 Books, 10 Songs (#5)


See, I told you they wouldn't all be cards. What we have here is the latest addition to my modest Jennifer Beals collection. I have a serious crush on Ms. Beals and have for a long time. I first saw her in 1983's Flashdance which I watched when it opened because my friend, Robert Wuhl had a one-line, very brief, moment of screen time in one of the club scenes. I won't debate the quality of Flashdance but I came away with an appreciation for Ms. Beals. (And, yes, I know she had a double for much of the dancing) As attractive as I found her then, she is one of those women who has gotten even more beautiful with age.

That photo is a promotional piece for The Bride, which I have never seen despite Beals' role. It just looked unwatchable. But it did also star one of my favorite musical performers, Sting.  I don't have much in my Beals collection....a few movie stills, a weird French poster/card that I showed here way back when, and a commemorative Flashdance DVD that came packed in a 'leg warmer sleeve'. I kid you not. 


(BTW....the White Whale of my Jennifer Beals collection would be, well,  Jennifer Beals 💘)




I wrote about this book (which I read for at least the third time last summer) on my 1959 Topps blog when I did some 'suggested reading' posts. Here's what I said then:

The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop. by Robert Coover is the most unique book on my shelf. 
 
Coover's book centers around J. Henry Waugh, an accountant who in his spare time, has built a fictitious baseball league the schedule of which he plays out using a dice based baseball game he devised. That's a little like saying "Hoover Dam holds back water".... it doesn't begin to describe the real treasure that this dark story is.

Waugh's league has 59 years of history, generations of players, league politics, feuds and rivalries. All of which has been chronicled in meticulous detail by the ever more obsessed Henry Waugh. Little by little the league has consumed Waugh and taken over his life (and the narration of the book after awhile).

Coover tells a great story and though his works contain no other baseball related books he has an obvious knowledge of the game and it's nuances. This is quite a ride. I had wanted to read this one for quite awhile and finally grabbed a copy a couple of seasons ago. I played quite a bit of Strat-O-Matic baseball as a kid and I was expecting a story of a guy obsessed with dice baseball. It's obviously much more than that and had me hooked from the start.

I mentioned Sting above and the fact that he's one of my favorite performers. I've seen him many times in concert, both as a member of The Police and on his own. My wife and I saw his Houston show when he toured alongside Paul Simon a few years ago. I paid with blood to get seats in the second row and it was worth every dime. They sang together, singularly, sang their own stuff and each other's. A memorable night for sure. 

Desert Rose, from his Brand New Day LP, is among my favorite Sting songs. It features a guest appearance by Algerian singer Cheb Mami, a not-so-great guy with a remarkable voice.


Saturday, January 19, 2019

10 Posts, 10 Cards, 10 Books, 10 Songs (#4)



I had just about given up on finding Batman sketch cards on eBay. I check once a week or so and the same old stuff was there, most of it not close to being worth the asking prices. Then a few weeks back I saw that Nathan Parrish had put up a bunch of his work at very low prices. I've picked up some of his 'cards' before. He uses several different tools in his sketches, pencil, colored markers, and so on. I also like how he portrays the different eras of the Dark Knight saga. The one above is my favorite of the latest batch.

As a really cool bonus, he wrapped them in a Japanese paper, similar to how I believe cards were traditionally distributed. Although the paper was likely not this beautiful. Here are a couple:



When my kids were very young we had them enrolled in the daycare facility at San Jacinto JC (yes, the place where Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte pitched). The program they had was top notch. They required that one of us be enrolled so I took night and/or Saturday classes each semester. I ended up with an IT certificate. But that's a long way to my point...I took one 'for fun' non-credit class, Intro to American Roots Music aka...Jazz Appreciation 101.

The instructor was a huge fan of tenor sax legend Dexter Gordon. From that class, I came away with an appreciation of him as well. I nabbed this book when it came out a few months ago and read it over the holidays. Gordon was a remarkable talent, grandson of a Medal of Honor winner and son of a doctor. He also had his share of trials and failings. But the sum total of his music is staggering. The book, written by his widow (actually she finished his autobiography), is very readable and insightful. I enjoyed it. It's too new to be out there at a discount though.




I could have picked any one of dozens of Gordon videos out on the net. If your life is spinning too fast try this: pour a drink (Makers 46 is my current choice), find a comfortable recliner, and crank up some Dexter Gordon.



Thursday, January 17, 2019

10 Posts, 10 Cards, 10 Books, 10 Songs (#3)


My wife has been out of town most of the week so it was the perfect time for a crack party. Now hold on. It wasn't what you just thought. You see I've had about a dozen graded cards that need to be in my set binder kicking around my hobby room for months. Today I grabbed a pair of pliers, a flat screwdriver and those encased cards and went to town. The result? Filled binder holes and a few upgraded cards as well.

That Mike Schmidt was one of them. He had a place reserved in my '76 binder and since it was filling up fast I needed him in there with his friends. A '76 Ryan joined him.

Here is Schmidt before he was free to breathe.


The others who were paroled from plastic prisons were from Topps 1959 and 1962 sets (all upgrades) and several 1961s. Those were filling holes. And rest assured that the broken plastic pieces were properly disposed of. They went into the recycling bin. The best news is that I didn't damage a single card which shows that I'm improving my skills.


There are dozens of Muhammad Ali bios. Just search Amazon and you'll be overwhelmed. But of the few I've read David Remnick's King of the World is head and shoulders above the rest. It's nearly twenty years old but the story holds up. Great writer detailing a fascinating man. Reading about the Liston and Patterson fights, which I thought I knew quite a bit about, was eye-opening. Amazon has copies for under $2 plus shipping. 

I grew up listening to Top 40 A.M. radio during the time of the British Invasion. The Beatles, Dave Clark Five, the Kinks, etc. Mixed in was a lot of Beach Boys, Motown and Philly Soul. But when I got to high school my group of friends (and therefore the music I heard) changed quite a bit. 

One artist I discovered and came to love was King Curtis. Curtis Ousley was a terrific sax player, bandleader and composer. He died far too young. I absolutely wore out this album in the early seventies. Heavy rotation in my dorm suite alongside Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, and Miles Davis.

King Curtis live at the Fillmore West  Soul Serenade


Bonus content: I found this video looking for the above one. It's from the Montreux Jazz Festival. I had this whole thing on a reel-to-reel tape at one time. Never had a player so I had to date someone with one. Here 'tis: King Curtis & Champion Jack Dupree Live from Montreux 1971



Tuesday, January 15, 2019

10 Posts, 10 Cards, 10 Books, 10 Songs (#2)

This is a Dorman postcard featuring my Dad's favorite pitcher, Allie Reynolds. Love these Dormands. Just terrific photography. I have three others but they are all of Billy Pierce. I first bought a graded one which I never had the heart to un-crack. So I fond a couple of others, one for the BP binder and one for my postcard collection.

Reynolds was an Oklahoma kid who didn't play baseball until after he graduated high school. His parents' strict religious belief prevented that. He's an interesting guy and his SABR bio is worth checking out. He was the first AL pitcher to throw two no-hitters in one season. He had a World Series record of 7-2 and won seven titles with the Yankees. No wonder my father loved the guy.




Today's book gets an asterisk. That's because I'm not quite finished with it. I have about a quarter of it left but I can't see it letting me down so I feel confident in featuring it. If you were to check my bookshelves you'd find about equal amounts of historical fiction, presidential bios, baseball and football history, sports bios, and hobby-related books. This is one of the better presidential bios I've read:


I really didn't know much about Grant past what you read in history books and such. Ronald White does a fine job of revealing him as a great military tactician, family man, and patriot.


And speaking of my Dad, as I was earlier, he picked up a love for the Beatles from me. I remember he'd come to sit in my room (I had the only record player in the house) and listen to the Beatles' Second Album with me. It was his favorite. Interestingly it was a US-only release album that was put together by Capitol Records to capitalize (pun intended) on their unbelievable popularity at the time. Of course, we were unaware of this. All we knew was that they were putting out music like their hair was on fire. By the time we'd saved enough paper route money for one album, another one was hitting Nunzio's record shop in Nutley.



Anyway, here is my favorite Beatles song and it happens to come from my favorite Beatles album:


My father bought this album for me in New York City the day it was released in December of 1965 so I could have it for my birthday the next day. He stood in line after work at some record shop in Manhatten. I always suspected he was anxious to hear it, too.

Bonus content:

Here's something I picked up in the same COMC haul as the Dormand. It a sweet (aren't they all?) '53 Bowman Reynolds.



And more bonus content, hthe old man's favorite Beatles' song:



Monday, January 14, 2019

10 Posts, 10 Cards, 10 Books, 10 Songs

I enjoy cards, I enjoy books, I enjoy music. Nothing unique about that as I'm sure plenty of you do as well. Recently I've been going thru my hobby collection as I get ready to downsize it. By 'downsize' I mean organizing the good stuff and getting rid of the clutter. All my remaining junk wax era non-Orioles? Adios. Commons from earlier this decade when I was buying blasters that I opened and immediately boxed up? Toast. The 1600 count boxes of 80s and 90s basketball and hockey that I've sifted through for anything worth keeping? Gone.

Anyway, in scrounging through boxes, binders, and shelves I've come across cards, pics, publications I've intended to put up on here but never have. I thought that I'd remedy that over the next few weeks. And just to make writing these more fun for me I figured I'd pair the memorabilia with books and songs I own and enjoy as well. Because why not? And as I implied they will not all be cards.

My guidelines:
  • Only things that have not been posted here will be included
  • The elements may or may not be connected
  • I'm gonna keep them short
Books and music will be from my shelves so you'll get an idea of my tastes in both. Be warned: I'm pretty 'mainstream' when it comes to my reading and listening.

I'll kick this off with the wonderful 1952 Topps Jackie Jensen.  If anyone would ask me why collectors dig the '52 set I'd just show them this card. I'm not sure what the background shows but I like to think it's the colors of a sunset reflecting on a stadium net. Whatever it actually is makes for a great card.

My copy has some seriously rounded corners but I'm fine with having added it to my Jensen PC.


First book up in the rotation of books is Game Faces by Peter Devereaux (that link takes you to the book on Google Books where you can see sample pages). The book features cards from the tobacco era and ties them to history, culture and the people of the time. You can read it from the beginning or just pick it up and browse through random pages. really good stuff.

I own that Mathewson on the cover, but I've shown it here multiple times.


Today I will tie the song to the card, sort of. It's Jackie Wilson, a much-underappreciated talent who really never gets much mention anymore. My friends and I were fans when we were in school in the mid to late 60s. Here's my favorite Wilson song, (You're Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher.


I hadn't thought about him or the song in a long time. Then, during this last Christmas season, I set a bunch of new presets in my Sirius radio to escape some of the temporary holiday stations. It was playing on an R&B channel and soon it was in my gym playlist. Catchy, right?




Saturday, January 12, 2019

Billy Pierce (and a friend or two)

I've added a few Billy Pierce photos to my binder over the past few months. This first one is a promo shot of Billy P with the much-traveled Virgil Trucks. It's been signed by both. Trucks came over to the White Sox in June of 1953 and pitched in the rotation with Pierce for two and a half seasons before being dealt away following the '55 campaign.

This wasn't the first time the two had been teammates. Trucks was an established vet whit the Tigers when Pierce debuted with them at the age of 18 in 1945. Trucks was still there when Pierce got a longer look and won a job in Detroit in 1949.

Both of these guys were cordial and prolific signers after their careers. For the life of me, I can't remember why I thought it was a good idea to scan these in black and white mode. It makes the sigs look fake but they are real. LOL


This signed George Brace photo is my second copy, the first with a nasty fingerprint on the surface of the photo.

The third and final pic isn't signed but it's my fave of the group since it's a wire photo from Spring Training, 1958.  In case you can't read the cutline Pierce is shown alongside Dick Donovan and Early Wynn.


The Sox finished second to the Yanks in 1958, ten games back. They were still a year away from their '59 World Series appearance. The Athletics finish 7th, 19 games back that year so the Sox were actually closer to 7th than they were to 1st. For whatever that's worth. The three guys in the pics didn't disappoint, though. They won 17, 15 and 14 games respectively.

Speaking of Early Wynn...I'll leave you with two things I read while poking around the 'net: 1) He whiffed more hitters than any other pitcher during the decade of the 50s and 2) on July 18, 1956 he was hit in the face with a line drive off the bat of the Senators' Jose Valdivielso. He needed sixteen stitches and lost seven teeth. He was back without missing a start and shut out the Orioles on six hits (and got a pair himself) in a complete game win on July 22. Damn.