Tuesday, July 31, 2012

40 Years Ago

On July 30 of 1972 I was in Baltimore for my pretty much annual summer trip up there. It was usually a week or two of cramming in as many O's games and crab feasts as humanly possible. When we had spare moments I'd go to Faidley's for crab cakes.

My Uncle would score tickets and we'd head for the Stadium using his 'shortcuts' and winding along beside Druid Hill Park. And he had 'out of the way' parking spots that never failed. That Sunday Mike Cuellar shutout the Yankees on three hits. Boog Powell homered and he and Brooks Robinson each had a pair of RBI's.

I seem to recall a Yankee batter getting tossed by an ump but I can't find any evidence of who it could have been. Maybe that was another game. :::edit.. maybe it was Ralph Houk?:::

My man Mike Cuellar passed away a couple of years ago. I just loved watching him pitch. There was just something special about the guy and how he worked on the mound.

Those were really good days.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Fuji asked again... (and again!)

...and this time the question that Fuji asked was:
"What are your all-time favorite products to collect in each sport?"
By 'products' I assume that he is looking for a 'card set' so I'll stick to that. That makes a difference because my favorite things to collect are not necessarily cards.

Anyway in baseball my favorite product would be the Topps 1960 set. I have mentioned that and did so just the other day in a comment on Fuji's blog:

I loved that 1960 set. It was very colorful and I really dug the rookie cards and the manager cards. There was something about the backs that drew me in, too. The gold and white color scheme and the 'Season Highlights' were fascinating to me. I'll NEVER forget a kid at school whose parents had bought him a whole box of packs of the 1960s. I couldn't get over how lucky he was.

 In football it would be the 1990 Pro Set. Easy to buy by the pack at my local grocery, cheap so the kids at my school could buy 'em as well. I put together the set a card at a time. Had a lot of fun doing it. Plus, they are nice looking, at least I think so. This set got me back into collecting football.

Hockey? I collect that, too. But I don't have many cards. Most are vintage Rangers I've sniped off eBay here and there. No hockey cards survived my childhood. The only ones I even remember having were late 60's post expansion Topps cards. I do have the 77-78 WHA set. It's pretty crappy but I was a huge Aeros fan back then and the set was fun to put together a few months ago. 

Here is the Frank Mahovlich card from the Topps OPC* 68/69 set. Most gawdawful thing, isn't it? They stuck his head on another player's body and hoped no one would notice. 

edit...Fuji's next question was "What is the ugliest set you've ever seen?"  This is it. The Topps 68/69 Hockey. Poorly cropped posed shots, generic sketched backgrounds. It's worse than the 1990 Topps baseball set (although not by much).

*=thanks for the correction 1967ers

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Pair of Franks, a feathered friend... and Don Drysdale

In the rush of craziness that was my month of July one trade package that came my way slipped past me. Chris a.k.a Nachos Grande sent me a Frank Robinson card from the 2011 Gypsy Queen set. It's a special one with a frame and looks pretty cool. The Gypsy Queen art (at least in my eye) is pretty special. I don't see as many "LOL" inducing cards as I do in Allen & Ginter (see Maris Sketch card).

There probably weren't more than a handful of guys as competitive as Frank Robinson. Ever. And I understand he's not everyone favorite guy. In fact I dropped a blog from my daily reading list because of some remarks he made. Petty? Maybe, but why bother with haters?

Here's the card from NG:

The scan just doesn't show how nice it is. Can't see the frame or the gold letters. Thanks a bunch Chris.

Wasn't long after I got that card that I was at a small flea market type sidewalk sale in Dallas and found a guy with a box of cards. Among the handful I picked for a total of $3 was a different GQ Robinson, this is a Homer Run Hero card and a couple of Oriole Bird Mascot cards from this year's Topps. 

This stuff is old news to most of you but I don't have much in he way of current cards so I appreciate having these.

I kept one of these Bird cards and the other is fixing to be mailed to someone who has it on their want list. 

I paid a little more for this 1957 card. It's a rare one in that the scan actually makes it look better than it is. The smiling, youthful Don Drysdale would morph into one of the most badass pitchers ever. I thought about the Robinson/Drysdale combo on the trip home. How'd you like to have been John Roseboro in the early 60's and had the chance to be right in the middle of many confrontations between Drysdale and Frank Robinson? I'll bet he heard some things, no? 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Heartbreaking Cards from Matt

I received a surprise envelope from Matt of Heartbreaking Cards fame on Monday. Those kind of surprises are especially welcome. Here is what he included:

Dig this one. 1967 Topps N. League (N. League? I never noticed that before) ERA Leaders. I'm always rambling about how much I like these leaders cards with the list of players on the back. I'd spend lots of time as a kid studying the numbers. Is this one scarred? Yes, but who cares, look who's on the front...Sandy Koufax, Mike Cuellar and Juan Marichal!!! I have collections of all three. I sat next to Cuellar in the Astrodome at a game in 1968 and he became a favorite of mine.

Look at Koufax's ERA... 1.76 One point Seven Six. LOL

A couple of Lance Berkmans. The first of these is a patch card that's about as thick a card as I've ever seen. My kids and I have followed Lance since his days at Rice. His leaving the 'Stros was a day of mourning for my boys. He's had some tough luck lately and I just heard he got hurt again this week. 

Wei-Yin Chen A&G. The 20 years of Camden Yards patch is a nice touch. I like cards that show sleeve patches front and center.

A Mike Cuellar issued by Topps in 2005. Someone who collected in those days can clue me in as to whether this was a regular issue card or some sort of insert, subset, etc. The modern card stuff confuses me. But either way it's a nice addition to my Cuellar binder pages. 

Finally here's the immortal Johnny Unitas on a Allen & Ginter's Yankee Stadium Tribute mini card. The back mentions that it was a National card show promo. This looks like a variation of my eTopps Johnny Unitas card except I can actually scan this baby. 

Thanks so very much Matt. Again I find that this hobby has some very generous and thoughtful people in it.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Adam Jones mini from The Daily Dimwit

Sam from the Daily Dimwit offered up this 2012 A&G Adam Jones mini as trade bait and I jumped on it. As you can see it's a really cool one. It's one of those hand numbered deals, #23 of 25.

This puppy would get me a bunch of Gint-A-Cuffs points. LOL, too bad I didn't pull it myself.

Thanks, Sam!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Owl delivers

On Monday I got four deliveries in the mail. Four! One was an run-of-the-mill eBay purchase but the other three brought cards for bloggers that I've enjoyed corresponding and/or trading with for a while now. I'll post one today and the others later in the week in the order I opened them.

I only saw one of the Harry Potter movies but I seem to remember that there was an owl that delivered the mail or some such thing. I thought of that yesterday when I pulled an envelope out of the box from Night Owl.

Here's what he sent:

Four A&G Orioles including a Brooks mini. I've open about ten packs of my Gint-A-Cuffs box and I think I have found maybe one Oriole total. I'll keep these off to the side and resist the urge to slide them into the contest packs for the 'Favorite Team' bonus points. The What's in a Name Brooks mentions people in Baltimore naming their kids after Brooks. I did, and name his twin for Jim Palmer.

The Brooks mini has a design that goes all the way to the edge, the Ripken has a border. Don't know what that means, if anything.

Nick Markakis has hit very well since coming back from his 6 week injury layoff. The O's will need that to continue if they have a chance in the AL.

Manny Machado is one of the top O's prospects. He's hitting in the .265 range for Bowie but he's got a lot of talent.

 Three 90's Oriole icons. One turned his back on the O's to jump to the Yanks (horrors), one looked like a donkey in front of the Mitchell Committee, and one, well, I'll keep my Brady Anderson theory to myself. I found out the other day that he works for the Orioles now.

And finally a very cool non-Oriole card. My much coveted 2009 Heritage Ozzie Guillen. Night Owl had it up on his blog a while back and I mentioned how much I liked it. He was nice enough to send it along. Cool, right? I really loved the 1960 manager cards that this one emulates. I love the 'flying sock' logo, I love the gold color Topps used on the back of the 1960 set, and I love managers that break the mold. Earl Weaver, Paul Richards, Ozzie, Casey Stengel.... even Billy Martin to some extent. Add it all up and this card is a winner.

The 1960 manager subset would be a fun one to pursue. Not too expensive I'd bet. 

Thanks again, Night Owl, and thanks for the fun reading you provide.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

1957 Topps Al Smith

Here's Al Smith. No reason in particular. Just a nice vintage Al Smith. I've been looking hard at the 1957 set and trying to decide if I want to make it my next long term collecting project. I might just opt for something that's not as expensive like a 60s' era football set. We'll see.

Oh, here's Al Smith getting a beer dumped on his head during Game Two of the 1959 World Series..

And a note from Wikipedia:
In December 1957, Smith was traded by Cleveland along with Early Wynn to the Chicago White Sox for Minnie Miñoso and Fred Hatfield, in a deal that was very unpopular among Chicago fans (Miñoso was "their guy"). He slumped in his first year with the White Sox to the point that eccentric owner Bill Veeck held an Al Smith Night to honor his outfielder. Anyone named Smith, Smythe, Schmidt, or Smithe was admitted free and given a button that said, "I'm a Smith and I'm for Al." On his big night, Smith hit into two double plays and dropped a fly ball that led to the Boston Red Sox;s winning run. (Comiskey Park, August 26, 1959).

Monday, July 23, 2012

Oh Me of little faith

My son tells me that I'm too negative. I continue to write off the Orioles. When they lose two in a row or score just a handful of runs in a series I shake my head, figure the fun run is over and mutter "Nothing has changed".

Then they come back and win 5 in a row and creep back to a place from where they can actually spot a wild card slot berth, maybe even the top of the division. They go into today's game looking to sweep the Indians (on the road no less) and win their sixth straight.

Oh, here is the Bird that whispered to me "Don't lose hope!". Three incarnations of him.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tippy and Frank, My autograph moments

Fuji has posed yet another challenge on his blog as part of his ongoing contest. Entrants are supposed to relate their best or worst in person autograph experience. Since I am not much of an autograph collector I don't have that many. I figured I'd go ahead and relate both my worst and best. Both of these have already been posted elsewhere

My most memorable experience was at Yankee Stadium and involved Frank Robinson. I'll paste this from the Frank Robinson card entry on my 1959 Topps blog:

In 1969 I went with a buddy, also a Oriole fan, to see the O's play at Yankee Stadium on a mid-week afternoon. We'd decided that we'd make a couple of banners to support our club. We set to work dividing an old bed sheet and, with orange paint and a marker, we each created a work of art. His was the number '5' for Brooks Robinson. Mine was a '20' in orange with 'RF' added on.
We missed the Orioles' batting practice session but we hung out near the third base dugout in hopes the players would see our signs when they warmed up. Then a batboy approached me and asked if I would like him to take my banner to Frank in the clubhouse and show it to him. I said 'Sure' and handed it to him not knowing if I'd see it again. Moments later here comes my banner up the dugout steps being carried by Frank Robinson himself. He asked whose it was and brought it over to me and thanked me for bringing it. He asked for my pen and signed it right in the middle on the '0'. 42 years later I still have it. It's discolored and been stained a bit along the way, the orange color had darkened to a pinkish red and the autograph has faded some. But that banner still means more to me than any piece of memorabilia I own. 

Now for the other end of the spectrum. This is from a comment I made once on Kevin's Orioles Card 'O' the Day blog:

Here is where I relate my most embarrassing moment in a big league park. Took my then girlfriend, now wife, up to Arlington to see the O's play the Rangers in '76. Tippy hadn't been with us long and I knew little about him. He was standing on the sidelines near the dugout and when he came over I had my wife ask him some dumb question about coming to the O's in Spanish. He looked at me and said 'I hope I do well for the city' in perfect English. I had no idea he was from Colorado. I looked like an idiot but he laughed and signed my scorecard.
I don't have the scorecard handy. Since it wasn't an Orioles home game program there's a good chance it got shuffled out the door at some point. But I still have the memory of feeling like an idiot. Sadly, it wasn't the first or last time for that. Here's a Tippy Martinez 8x10 instead.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

One Night in Frisco (Minor League Baseball)

Stand by for some of the worst pictures ever blogged.

I was up in Frisco, Texas, just north of Dallas, earlier this week for a teachers convention. Since the Rangers' AA club plays their games right under my hotel window I decided it would be a fun way to spend Monday evening. Plus, I like minor league ball almost more than major league ball. It's relaxed, intimate and hassle-free. It helped that the convention organizers had cheap tickets available.

That night the Frisco Roughriders were playing the San Antonio Missions. I was surprised to find out the Missions are a Padres' farm club. I had assumed they still were part of the Dodger chain as that had been for many years.

I was also surprised to find that the Roughriders' starting pitcher was going to be Neftali Feliz. He was making a rehab start and that had the fans excited. I got to the game early because I like to poke around minor league parks. This one is called Dr. Pepper ballpark and it's about ten years old.

I had a seat in the 14th row behind home plate. I didn't have a decent camera so I had to use my phone camera. You can click the pictures to make them bigger, of course.

That red speck on the mound is Feliz warming up. A guy behind me told me that Feliz pitched for the Roughriders a few years ago on his way up the Ranger ladder. I was likely the only guy in the park who wasn't aware that he was Rookie of the Year a couple of seasons ago.

That's the Embassy Suites where I was staying that looms over the park beyond centerfield. My room was just to the left of the Dr. Pepper sign. It's not exactly as close as it looks in the picture. There is a street and a little park sort of area between the hotel and the stadium.

Feliz had control problems in the first inning and that, combined with some terrible defense put him in a hole early. That shortstop is Jurickson Profar and the fans were pretty high on the guy. He's from Curacao and the guy behind me said the Rangers might trade off their current shortstop to give this kid the job next year.

Those are some of the buildings that stretch all the way down each line behind the stands. Concessions, restrooms, some sort of roped off private boxes that required a secret handshake or something are among them. It's a nice clean place. Reminded me of the Dell Diamond in Round Rock north of Austin that used to be an Astros' farmclubs' home. Now it's the Rangers team, too, I think.

Feliz only pitched two innings and took the loss. I doubt he cared much. I was a bit surprised that he went and sat in the bullpen after his two innings. On my way out I stopped and watched a bit from behind the home bullpen area. That's Feliz in the blue jacket. He was talking to some guy through the chain link fence. I saw him give some poor teenage girl a hard time when she came over and asked for an autograph on an 8x10. He finally signed it.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Non-Sports Collection

Fuji laid down another contest challenge (I have no chance in the contest but the effort is fun). He asked us to "Show and/or Tell" anything we collect that is not related to sports. I spun around in my chair to look at my shelves.

As I posted over there in the comments I have a couple of things I'm interested in that fall outside the realm of sports. I have a nice group of vinyl albums. They are mostly early Beatles albums and others from that generation of music. At one time I had a couple of bookcases filled with vinyl but I sold off or donated about 90% of them. As my family grew space became limited and something had to go.

I also had one wall of the family room lined with shelves of books, many of which were U. S. Presidential bios. I probably had every book on Lincoln and LBJ ever printed. I kept most of those but, like the albums, had to sacrifice many of the others. My book collection now consists mostly of those Lincoln and LBJ books, any book I can find on the Orioles or BALTIMORE Colts, Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series and some reference books.

The one active non-sports collection I have is Presidential campaign buttons and pins. My collection is dwarfed by some of the ones I've seen. The LBJ Library in Austin was a great many. I have 60, maybe 70 with the oldest being an FDR button whose date I haven't been able to determine exactly.

I have some of my best ones mounted in display cases but most are loose and I was able to scan a few. My favorites are the over-sized LBJ buttons I posted here, my two JFK/Johnson buttons (not scanned) and the 'Sagitarius For Jackson'. That one's a hoot.