Monday, October 29, 2012

I miss my BALTIMORE Colts

Don't get me wrong. I love the Texans. I got in on the ground floor with them, I've had season tickets since the first day they were available. But I grew up a Baltimore Colt fan. Not just a fan. More of a religious follower. I say that because I spent my Sunday mornings during the football season in prayer for Johnny Unitas, John Mackey and all the rest.

The day they left for that other city was one of the worst days of my life. Oh, I know the franchise had already been run into the ground by their drunk owner but they were still my team. After they left I tried rooting for the Oilers since I was here in Houston. I was a very lukewarm Oiler follower. And when the Ravens arrived in Charm City I just couldn't make myself root for a club that arrived in the same underhanded way the Baltimore Colts had left. 

So I wandered around until the NFL birthed the Texans. Meanwhile I've continued to collect Baltimore Colt memorabilia. Press guides, cards, pictures, all sorts of things. Which brings me to this item. It's an NFL publication which is essentially an 8x10 magazine-style yearbook covering the whole league. I can't remember where I picked it up but I used to buy a lot of publications from a couple of dealers who regularly showed up at Houston card shows.

The covers are comprised of an illustration by George Bartell. He has an unmistakable style seen in all sorts of ways back in the 60s and 70s. He did the illustrations for some great NFL posters and tons of program covers. He's best known for his automotive illustrations. He also did album covers and book illustrations. A great blog, the Fleer Sticker Project featured those NFL posters Bartell awhile back.

The inside features a four page spread on each team. There is a write-up and a head shot of almost the whole roster. I'd have loved this back in the day. 

And the inside front cover just screams late 60s.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

1956 Koufax, finally!

Funny thing about this card. I put together my Koufax collection back in the early 80s before I got out of collecting about 1990 or so. At some point after that I guess I convinced myself  that I had all of his cards. I know i thought that for years and when I began going to cards shows again a few years ago I never had any Koufax cards on my want lists.
Turns out I was wrong. When my kids moved out to go to college I reclaimed my 'office'. Back before we had three kids that room had been one of our back bedrooms and lined with shelves full of memorabilia and card binders. Then our family grew and my collection was boxed and stored. That is until I took back the room and unpacked many of my boxes. Going through my 'stuff' I made a discovery.
Not only was I missing two Koufax cards, one of them was the '56 Topps which had been one of my favorites. So a couple of years ago I decided that if I found a reasonable card at a reasonable price I'd grab it. I've had it on the back burner for quite some time. And last week, inspired perhaps by adding the long sought '58 Mantle All Star, I found one.
At $56 I couldn't pass it up. It's much nicer than others that were going in that range and higher. It's in a graded slab (and I have not yet attempted to free it, but I will) so the scan doesn't really show it off like it should. The bottom right corner is kind of soft and there is a surface crease but the card is bright and clear. There are comparable ones on eBay now going for twice what I paid.
I'm pretty happy with it. Now I will try to find my other missing Koufax, the '63 'Dodger's Big Three' special he shares with Don Drysdale and Johnny Podres.
My '55, his rookie card, is in pretty poor shape but I doubt I'd ever spend what it would take to upgrade it. Besides, truth be told, I like the '56 more. Koufax bears a striking resemblance to my late father in it. And even now, at 73 or so, he and my Dad could have been brothers.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Boog Powell Auto Card

I usually don't go after autographed cards. I pick them up if they are reasonable and I like the look of the card. And for the most part I will own just one auto'd card of any one player.

I found this Boog Powell card from the 1993 Ted Williams set on eBay and I bid $2. I won it so here it is.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The High Cost of Impatience

Somewhere along the line I've mentioned that I collect a card of each player I own on my fantasy football team. Since this is my 33rd season in the league I've had more than a few players come and go. From Tommy Kramer to Christian Ponder. I keep the cards in a huge binder which currently contains 73 nine-pocket sheets holding more than 650 cards. 

All of which brings me to William Powell of the Arizona Cardinals. That's him in the two cards above, one a homemade card 'crafted' by me in MSPublisher, the other a blank backed  'shiny' unauthorized card that probably violated eBay's TOS four different ways. I bought it anyway. Spent several bucks on it, too. And paid shipping.

Why do I have these cards? Because I simply cannot stand to own a player and not have him represented in my binder. I picked up the rather obscure William Powell two weeks ago as a possible bye week fill-in. (I have Arian Foster and Ray Rice off this week.) But being that he has no history in the NFL and wasn't a huge prospect coming out of Kansas State there are no cards of him anywhere. 

So since I couldn't wait for an update set later this year (does Topps do one of those for football?) I decided to use my horribly rudimentary graphics skills and make one. The result is the card at the top of the post. I have about eight homebrews in my binder due to the fact that I've picked up a few players along the way who never had one issued in any form.

As my homemades go it's not the best and not the worst. And it's not as crappy as it appears when it comes to the borders. My scanner rejected this one and sliced off the left side. I even do card backs. They are just as lousy as the fronts, maybe worse.

The day after I made this one I found the shiny gold Powell card on eBay. The seller made no bones about the fact that it wasn't authorized in any way. But in my hierarchy of desired cards a 'professional' bootleg ranks a notch above one of my own creations so I bit.

All because it actually bothers me to not have a card of a "Baltimore Flyer'. Pretty sad actually. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

My latest (and oldest) pin

This is a Williams Jennings Bryan campaign pin from the 1896 race between Bryan and William McKinley. McKinley won the election and the two faced each other again in 1900. McKinley again came out on top. I posted a McKinley pin from that 1900 race a few week ago.

The front of the pin is in really good shape considering its age. the back shows the ravages of nearly 120 years of sitting in someone's drawer. It's impossible to read without a magnifying glass but the back shows the pin was manufactured by The Whitehead & Hoag Co. of Newark N.J. Patented and it lists three dates, July 17, 1894, April 14, 1896 and July 21, 1896. Don't know what the dates signify. The July '86 date shows up in a Wikipedia entry as a date that a patent was awarded to the firm of pinback buttons:
Benjamin S. Whitehead patented the first innovation to the design in 1893 by inserting a sheet of transparent film made of celluloid over a photograph mounted on a badge to protect the image from scratches and abrasion.[3] Whitehead had patents for various designs of ornamental badges and medallions previously, patented as early as 1892.[4] Another patent was issued to Whitehead & Hoag on 21 July 1896 for a "Badge Pin or Button" which used a metal pin anchored to the back of the button to fasten the badge.

Apparently Whitehead and Hoag was a well known firm back in the day.

I'm excited to add this one to my collection.

We'll get back to sports stuff with the next post.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Elusive 1958 All Star Mickey Mantle..... Finally

I've been after this card for a long time. I'd bet I put in eBay bids/offers on 40 different copies over the last few years. And I never was able to win. That's because for once I set a certain standard and price point and was determined to stick to it. I was finally able to pick this one up for a 'best offer' of $27 or so.

Chasing vintage cards to me is chasing childhood memories. Yankee fan or not (I was not) I watched many many of their games with my Yankee fan father growing up. And you couldn't watch that many games without developing an admiration for the sheer talent of Mickey Mantle.

Combine that with my affinity for the 1958 Topps All Star subset and you get a card that I've had on my want list since I've been back in collecting. It's not 'gradeable' but it doesn't have any creases or paper loss. The corners are soft but I'm not too fussy about corners, especially when the picture is clean and the back looks as good as this one does.

As I mentioned in my Ted Williams post last week the numbers versus each team makes a great card back for a numbers nut like me. Mickey hit less than .333 against only one club, the Tigers. I would have thought that Yankee killer Frank Lary was responsible for that but Mantle hit .357 against him in 1957. But Billy Hoeft and Paul Foytack gave him fits

I haven't decided on which of my 'Most Wanted' cards I'll pursue next. The '56 Koufax is tempting. It's the only one of his Topps cards I need.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

My Gym Alums

That's a dumb title for a post but I can't come up with a better one so there ya go. I've taught for 23 years now and had some pretty good athletes come through my gym. Among them are a few who went on to play college and NFL football at a high level.  I've picked up a few cards of them when I came across them.

Former Iowa and current defensive back for the Panthers Charles Godfrey.

Godfrey's brother and Kansas State and CFL quarterback/receiver Ell Roberson.

University of Houston wide out James Cleveland. He was a free agent pick-up of the Dallas Cowboys last season but was cut during camp.

Probably the most accomplished of the kids I've taught is former Yale running back Robert Carr. He was a quiet kid from a good family. He broke several season and career records at Yale. I haven't come across any type of card of him.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Two More 1958 All Stars

Another Red Sox and a White Sox were among the group of 1958 Topps All Star cards that I picked up last week. Here is Boston infielder Frank Malzone. He was known as a fine fielder who could also hit some as indicated in his 1957 numbers shown on the card. a .292 average with 103 ribbies isn't too shabby. Looks like he had good success against everyone except the Yanks and Senators.

The card itself has some soft corners and a crease that shows mostly from the back but it's certainly collectible to me. My scanner seems to dislike these cards and the scans show a level of 'scuffing' that just isn't there when you look at them in person.

Sherm Lollar's skills behind the plate earned him the spot on this All Star card. He had several Gold Gloves to his credit. He was a seven time AL All Star including the three years prior to and following the 1957 season reflected on this card. '57 was the only year in the second half of the decade that he did not get a spot on the team. 

This copy is a bit better than the Malzone both front and back. I love the Sox cap logo outlined in red that they wore in this era. I have one of those. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Too Soon

In the wake of the Orioles ALDS(?) loss to the Yankees it's just too soon for me to post a Mickey Mantle card, even if it is one I've finally picked up after several years of trying. So instead I'll post one of the other '58 All Star cards I scored off eBay.
The 1958 Topps All Star cards comprise one of my favorite subsets ever put out by Topps. I like everything about them. Because of the All Star cards the '58 set was one I considered chasing and blogging before I settled on the 1959.

And while I was doing my weekly scan of the online bidding site I came across a dealer who was selling reasonable copies of not only the Mantle but this Ted Williams along with a few others I needed. I haven't actively pursued a Ted Williams card but since I don't have any outside of his managerial cards from the late 60's/early 70's Topps sets I figured this was a good opportunity to add a card of one of the all time greats. The fact that it was from this subset made it even better. This is the last time Topps featured Williams on a card during his career. Fleer, of course, had it own dedicated 'Ted' set in '59. Williams did show up on the 1959 Topps Red Sox team card. You can see him if you look close.

My scan really does the card a disservice. The scuffing that shows itself in the scan isn't nearly as noticeable on the actual card. Ted's head (and I'm going to eschew the obvious jokes for the time being) dominates the front of the card and quite a few of the cards are portraits. A couple of exceptions will show up here soon.
The added bonus is the fact that the cards carry the Sport magazine imprint of the front. I grew up a dedicated Sport reader. It was a monthly so my folks were not as reluctant to buy me a subscription as they were when I wanted one to the Sporting News. (I usually bought that myself with money I saved from my allowance or my newspaper delivering job.)

But the back of the card is 100% gold for a guy who loved the stat laden team and leader cards of the 1960's. How great is a rundown of the player versus each club in the league? And look at Williams' '57 numbers! He hit .474 with 9 homers and 20 RBI and 22 runs scored against the Indians. His next highest average came against the Yanks. He tattooed Whitey Ford and company at a .453 clip. His lowest average against any team was .333 versus both Washington and the White Sox. The Orioles actually held him to one homer and seven ribbies. Part of that probably was a result of the dimensions of Memorial Stadium in those days.

And check out the write-up. It all but canonizes Ted. I love the last line especially..."Ted is truly a remarkable man." And this, to me at least is a truly remarkable card. Check back for some others coming soon, including the Mantle.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

It's Now Officially Football Season

It's been many years since I had any baseball interest this deep in October. In fact it's been many years since I hadn't released my very tenuous hold on the game in July or so. But the resilient Orioles ran through a magical 2012 campaign and made baseball fun. But that, sadly, is over. As much as I hate having them lose to the Yankees it was hard for me to be very upset. They showed a lot of heart (and the need for a few more bats) and they looked like they were having fun.

Best news is that next season the Orioles will be coming to Houston every season! Not many Astros fans are happy about the league switch but I'm really grateful for the chance to see them without taking a road trip to Dallas/Fort Worth. But that's next year. Right now my focus turns to football, at least in my day-to-day rooting interests. I'll still be blogging baseball stuff here among other things. Lately, with the O's so much in the forefront this blog has been more 'Oriole-centric' than I intended it to be. Time for some diversity.

Although I was born in Baltimore and lived in Brooklyn and on Long Island I did most of my growing up in Nutley, New Jersey. Great little town not too far from New York City but what seemed like a whole different universe to me while I was growing up.

There were lots of kids up and down the blocks surrounding my home and, living on a dead-end street, we played a lot of sports right out there on my block. Street football took up a lot of our time in the fall. We would play with usually three or four kids on a side, telephone poles marked the first downs and two man hole covers were our goal lines.

I fancied myself a quarterback and tried my best to be Johnny Unitas. I had a buddy who usually played on my team and the two of us had a set play we called the 'Tommy McDonald'. It involved a pump fake long and him then cutting sharply towards the curb. I'd have the ball already on it's way to where he was going to meet it and, with him being tall, it was pretty much unstoppable. The play was named for the 50's/60's receiver and Hall of Famer Tommy McDonald who played mainly for the Eagles and Rams and was famous for being the last NFL player to not wear a face-mask on his helmet.

They pay me to catch footballs (SBS)
The '63 Topps McDonald card I posted was one of my very first eBay purchases. McDonald is one of a handful of non-Baltimore Colt players I collect. I had his book way back when and I'm tempted to pick it up again on Amazon for a couple of bucks.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Game 5!!!!

I stayed up far too late to watch Game Four and I'll have to hustle home after work Friday afternoon to see the first pitch of Game Five but hey, how often is this going to happen? I was thinking about Elrod Hendricks tonight. I was thinking how cool it would be to have him still in the Orioles dugout talking to these young kids who are facing post-season pressure for the first time. But it doesn't seem to bother them a bit. They never seem to get too down or too excited. I laughed when Craig Saiger was relaying how the guys in the dugout were pointing the bill of their caps in the direction they wanted the ball to be hit. Is that a Little Leaguers' mojo thing or what?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Orioles Old and New

As Game Four of the ALDS (or whatever they call this series) rolls on I wanted to post something to maybe help the Birds break this tie and send it to the fifth game.

This '55 Bowman Harry Byrd shows him airbrushed into an 'Orioles' cap. Actually I'd bet it wasn't airbrushed. Just painted in. Either way it's a crude job. You can barely tell what it is.

Byrd was a Yankee in '54 but a trade delivered him from the 'dark side'. That's what I'm hoping the O's are able to do tonite. Bring back out a win from the world of pinstripes. Byrd started the year with the O's in 55 but after seven starts and about that many relief appearances, he was waived and claimed by the White Sox in June.

The card itself is from one of the sets I loved way back when even though it was printed before I was aware of cards. There were some floating around in the late 50s and early 60s among the kids I hung out with.

Manny Machado homered last night. Unfortunately for me I missed it as we had tickets for a show and I hate backing out on something my wife enjoys. Maybe Manny can do it again. This is the only Machado  card I have. Scanned better than I thought it would considering how shiny it is.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Oh, What a Night!!

Last night was pretty cool. The Orioles tied up their series with the Yankees. Another tense, exciting game of course. Nice effort by Wei-Yin Chen. I didn't pull any Orioles in Gint-A-Cuffs but Night Owl and a couple of others supplied me with the O's out of the set. I've kind of become jaded to the A&G set after only two years of messing with it. Last summer I thought the 2011 set was the coolest thing ever. But after the 2012 set I have kind of lost interest. Unless there are some really kick ass subsets next year I think I'll pass on it.

I nearly had to treat my remote button pushing finger with an ice pack because:

And up in Jersey, while the baseball game was on, across Route 3 from my aunt and uncle's Secaucus home, my Texans beat the Jets. It wasn't very pretty but it's a win and that's all that matters. 

And last, but not really least, Arian Foster slashed his way to 22 fantasy points to give me a win. At 4-1 I trail my sons (damn newbies!) by one game in our division. I like this Foster card even though I don't really know one set from another. I buy random Texans cards off the web as they catch my eye. 

The night wasn't perfect though. Brian Cushing went down with a season ending injury. That's gonna hurt. But, as the Texans said (many times) last season.."Next man up!!" Here is another great looking football card. Same brand/set logo, different year maybe?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Good Bye Fantasy Baseball!!

My first (and last) venture into the world of fantasy baseball ended a week or two back with a fourth place finish overall in a fourteen team ESPN league. I made the playoffs but was eliminated in the semi-final round.

I thought playing fantasy baseball would be a good way to learn about the current players since I had decided that this would be the year I got back 'into' major league baseball. And in that I succeeded, to a point. I drafted pretty much 'blind' without any research other than the bios and projections that were available during the draft. But I thought I did pretty good. I drafted Ryan Braun, Curtis Granderson, Edwin Encarnacion, Paul Konerko, Andre Ethier and a few other solid players. Unfortunately I had a less than stellar staff and I had compounded the problem by drafting Chris Carpenter. Hey, who knew? I also used an early pick on Carlos Santana of the Indians and he proved useless. And above all I had the worst collection of middle infielders in the league.

But one thing that my 33 years of fantasy football had taught me was that championships are won by owners who pay attention. So I did. I culled the dead wood (everyone except Johnny Cuerto (who?) and James Shields) from my starting pitchers, claimed AJ Pierzynski to spell Santana, and grabbed Adam LaRoche on a tip from a baseball savvy friend. End result was a division lead mid way through the season.

Then my club began melting down. So I worked the waiver wire like BB King picked his guitar. I made tons of moves. Over a hundred waiver claims by mid August. Nobody else in the league came close to that. And I did learn about players! I learned that there are a least 40 shortstop/secondbasemen in the majors named 'Alexi' or so it seemed. I went thru more scrub infielders than I ever imagined existed, most of them multiple times. None of them helped. And all along the way I tracked down a card of every player I picked up. I spent $5+shipping on a minor league card (his only card) of a Phils infielder I had rostered for thirty six hours.

Finally my team, the Baltimore Elrods, imploded and I dropped to fourth in my seven club division. So I quit. I just stopped looking at who had the day off, who was D-T-D, which available starters were in a '2 start' week. I stopped carrying my iPad everywhere on the off chance that Fantasy Alarms would text me that Granderson was not in the Yankee line-up and I could sub in Micheal Saunders (who?). I still had a Ranger pitcher active that they had placed on the DL I think. Hell, I removed the league bookmark from my toolbar so I wouldn't be tempted to find another Diamondback reserve to squeeze a day's at bats out of.

And a weird thing happened. Over the last three weeks of the season I went 6-3-1, 8-1-1 and 9-0-1! My team had gone through the roof without me even knowing it. I have no idea how, but I had made the playoffs. I didn't even know they had started until I logged in to check my final results. But in the end I was knocked out and I still don't know who ended up winning the thing. Nor do I care. I had some fun. Obsessed a lot over guys I never heard of and learned that fantasy baseball is waaaay too much work. I'll stick to fantasy football. The once a week line-up think suits me just fine!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

T206 Orioles Commons

As the magical 2012 Orioles prep for tonites playoff series opener against the Yankees I figured it would be a good time to  look at a few more of the Oriole cards that are included in the T206 set of 1909-11. There are nine Baltimore players in total in the set. I have seven of those including the Jack Dunn which was featured in a post in late September.

The Orioles club of that era was a member of the Eastern League. They played in that circuit from 1903 through 1911. The Eastern League, the history of which is intertwined with the International League, was surprisingly stable for most of that time frame.

Here are four of my common cards of Oriole players from the set.

Phillip Poland was a journeyman minor leaguer of which little is known outside the numerous clubs he played for over a ten season career. He was an outfielder with 8 homers listed among the sketchy stats of the time. 

Firstbaseman/infielder Pete Cassidy was already a 36 year old veteran of the big leagues when this card was issued. He played two seasons in the majors just prior to the turn of the century and fifteen years in the minors. He was an Oriole at the end of his career in 1908-09.

Jim Jackson debuted in 1901 as an outfielder for the Baltimore Orioles when the were an American League franchise. He also played for the Giants and Cleveland Naps in the first half of that decade before he began a steady career in the minors that lasted through 1916 including player/manager stints in the later half of the decade. This card was issued during his return to Baltimore as a member of the 1909 Eastern League Orioles. 

It's interesting to see the font  used for the team name on Jackson's jersey is different from the very plain 'Baltimore'  that was used in the rest of the portraits. I'm guessing that a picture from his time with the 'big league' Orioles was the basis for his portrait and the artist copied that fancier font.. 

And finally we see Bob Hall who played for the Orioles from 1906 through 1910 as an infielder. He was a Baltimore native who had played a couple of seasons in the National League as an infielder and outfielder just prior to his Oriole stint. 

The previously referenced Jack Dunn card is the most costly of the Baltimore T206 cards but it can be fould reasonably if you have some patience. I have some lowball offers and bids in on the remaining two Orioles I need to complete the team set. If you have any interest at all in the wonderful T206 set you need to have the site bookmarked. It holds a wealth of info and is a great place to kill a few hours in front of a computer.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Brooks' Statue Unveiled

I really wish I could have been there. From what I have read and seen it was a very special night. Coupled with the excitement of the Orioles stretch run (how long has it been since that was a relevant term) I bet the night was very memorable.

Matthew who pens the Foul Bunt blog was lucky enough to be there and posted a great re-cap and some nice pictures. You can check it out here.

Brooks holds a special place in the heart of Oriole fans, especially those of a certain vintage that were fortunate enough to see him play or actually interact with him. I was blessed to do both. I named one of my sons for him, that's not unusual as many folks in the Baltimore area carry the name or a derivation of it.

I've told some Brooks stories on the blog previously. And posted several pictures but I'll post them again here along with a few new ones.

Up there at the top is my lousy phone picture of my statue replica that arrived today. Next pic is Brooks and I taken at Arlington Stadium in the early 80's when he was broadcasting Oriole games.

Here is my Brooks (Brooks Robinson Andrews) with the original Brooks taken at a card show circa 1997.

And finally here is Brooks at Arlington Stadium in a shot I took before a game in 1975 that I referenced in yesterday's post.

EDIT: Jeremy made a comment about this picture that caused me to look at it a little closer. It seems that Brooks is signing a hardback copy of his 1974 book Third Base Is My Home. I have an autographed copy of the paperback version on my shelves. I'm not sure where I got it but I've had it for a long time. I'm pretty sure I wasn't the one who obtained the autograph in my version. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pix from the past

I was going through some old photo albums and found these pictures I had taken 37 years ago. Wow, could it have been that long ago? Am I really that old? Yes and yes. 

These were taken on June 11th or 12th, 1975 at Arlington Stadium (the old one obviously) before a game between the Orioles and Rangers. I have ticket stubs from both games and these pics could be from either (or both). Back then the Orioles made two trips a year through the West Division and I always drove up for at least one series in the Metroplex. 

The Orioles won 9-8 in ten innings the first night. Dave Duncan homers twice for the Orioles. Brooks Robinson got one of the Orioles' 16 hits. Jim Palmer won his 10th game of the season on the second night which meant he had 10 of the Orioles 24 wins on the season to that point. 

I took a picture of Brooks during that series in Arlington but I'm saving that for another post.

Mike Cuellar (with an Afro) playing long toss in Arlington  Stadium.

Bobby Grich jokes with Ellie Hendricks during warm-ups.

Don Baylor, who was from Austin just down I-35 had played in this park as an Oriole farm hand a few years earlier. I remember he had a lot of fans and friends there. 

Earl walking and thinking (and probably wishing he had a smoke).

I was going through some old photo albums and found these pictures I had taken 37 years ago. Wow, could it have been that long ago? Am I really that old? Yes and yes.

These were taken on June 11th or 12th, 1975 at Arlington Stadium (the old one obviously) before a game between the Orioles and Rangers. I have ticket stubs from both games and these pics could be from either (or both). Back then the Orioles made two trips a year through the West Division and I always drove up for at least one series in the Metroplex.

The Orioles won 9-8 in ten innings the first night. Dave Duncan homers twice for the Orioles. Brooks Robinson got one of the Orioles' 16 hits. Jim Palmer won his 10th game of the season on the second night which meant he had 10 of the Orioles 24 wins on the season to that point.

I took a picture of Brooks during that series in Arlington but I'm saving that for another post.