Wednesday, November 28, 2012

'56 Topps Pee Wee Reese

I've started adding some '56s to my collection. Nothing special, mostly commons in f/g condition. Saying I like the set is like saying I like ice cream, hell everyone does. I also have a vague goal of completing a Hall of Fame collection. I'll never finish it unless I hit the Powerball lotto. Years ago I got started by picking up some of those 1961 Fleer All Time Great cards of some of the real old timers, guys like Grover Cleveland Alexander and Hughie Jennings. Guys I figured I'd never get a 'real' card of.

But as time has gone by I've been able to afford 'real' cards of Babe Ruth, John McGraw, Frank Chance, Chief Bender and several others. So I am again going to pursue Hall of Famers. When I came across this Pee Wee Reese in an online auction I saw a chance to get a '56 and add a H-o-F player whose card I lacked. I'm sorta, kinda, in a way a half-ass Dodger fan (mostly because of my long standing Sandy Koufax man-crush and the fact I once lived in Brooklyn) so the '56 Reese had special appeal. Plus, he's finishing off a dp in the background pic. Nice.

The price was right and the card looked pretty nice so I grabbed it. I scanned it before I pried it out of the PSA grade slab so the scan isn't as sharp as the card looks in hand. But you get the idea.

And I learned something in the process. According to the cartoon on the back Harold Henry Reese got his nickname by winning the national Pee Wee Marbles Tournament as a kid. I'd bet there isn't a kid in America that has any idea what a marble was used for back in the day.

Monday, November 26, 2012

NHL on suicide watch

Last week the NHL cancelled all games through December 14 and the All Star Game as well. They supposedly think that the Board of Governors meeting on December 5th will lead to a settlement and a December 15 start to the season can result in a 58/60 game schedule.

Frankly my dear, at this point, I don't give a damn. I actually hope they ditch the games through January so I can get a refund on my Rangers/Stars tickets and use the cash for Christmas stuff.

But just because I'm nostalgic for good ol' shinny I dug out some of my 1994(?) Parkhurst Tall Boy reprints. I love this set as it features players from my days as a serious hockey fan. These posted cards are those of the Rangers 'Goal-A-Game' aka GAG line of the late 60's. (No Ranger choking remarks, please.) Vic Hatfield, Jean Ratelle and Rod Gilbert were a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

Note the Northland branded sticks. Quite visible particularly on Rod Gilbert's card. I used one of those on the ponds and parking lots of New Jersey as a kid. I still have one that I did some repairs on. I cut off the well worn blade and replaced it with a street hockey blade and I still mess with it from time to time.

A hockey stick from 1966 and a baseball glove from 1965. You get the feeling I have a hard time letting some things go?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Let's watch TV

Digging through some shoe boxes (yes I do keep cards in shoe boxes) I turned up this '55 Bowman of Oriole outfielder Gil Coan. It's seen it's better days but it is certainly within my collectible range. Someone sent this along in a trade or as a break throw-in last year. It's a dupe, I have one in my Oriole base collection but you can never have too many '55 Bowman Orioles now can you?

Coan was a long time Senator and was a regular for about six seasons prior to being traded to the second year Orioles for 1955. He was waived and signed by the White Sox that July and finished his career with the Giants in 1956.

Coan hit .303 in both 1950 and 1951, easily his best seasons. He even got some scattered MVP votes in 1950. He had a career average of .254. The back of the card references his speed and it's shown in the fact that he was second in the AL with 23 steals in 1948.

This is his last major issue baseball card not counting reprints and reissues. The '55 Bowmans are pretty unique of course with the 'TV' motif. I see these and am reminded that while our family was one of the last ones in America to own a color set, my grandfather in Brooklyn had one of the first. And he had a window unit A/C as well. Damn I loved visiting my grandparents!

Speaking of speed this picture turned up in a google image search. It's from The Sporting News archives and shows Coan (on the right) and Cleveland's George Case at the line for a 'race'. It is dated from 1946.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Hair today, Gone Tomorrow

The NFL had 'playboys' players before Joe Willie Namath came along (Paul Hornung and Frank Gifford come to mind) but Namath changed the way Americans looked at it's heroes. He was, as they say, brash and irreverent. He had the audacity to spit in the eye of the established NFL and with his Super Bowl III backed up his words. As a Baltimore Colt fan I was certainly no admirer of Namath, hell I hated him after that game but in retrospect he had a fine career. He's a Hall of Famer and, while his numbers don't bowl you over, he certainly had the 'celebrity' and charisma that made it impossible to keep him out.

I own two Namath cards with this 1972 being my favorite. The 1972 set is pretty mundane to my way of thinking but this card of Namath, with his hair, sideburns and far away gaze, is pretty cool. On this day of giving thanks..... Broadway Joe, I forgive you.

To restore the cosmic balance of the universe, however, I need to post a card of the greatest football player ever, John Constantine Unitas. It's a "Monarch Corona" card that someone sent my way a long time ago. I had no idea what it was until I googled that name this morning. Turns out that is a brand of privately printed cards that are manufactured and sold by a guy named Allen Miller. I'd be astounded to learn that any entity or athlete has actually authorized these cards so if you want to find out more you can google it yourself. I check out his website and I will say he does some nice work.

Anyway here is the 'anti-Namath', my hero, the great Johnny U.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

William Howard Taft Campaign(?) Pin

I picked this one up for $12 last month. It was just different enough to catch my eye and the price for a century old pin was right. The stain doesn't detract much from the unique gold eagle design. I've seen this pin elsewhere being described as being issued for the 1912 campaign but I have no way to be sure. It just might be an inauguration souvenir.

William Howard Taft was president from 1909 through 1913. He was trounced in his re-election bid. He received just 8 electoral votes in what was the worst defeat of a seated president in history. That 1912 election was contested by Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt (who Taft had served under a a cabinet member) and Taft. Wilson won with just 41% of the popular vote.

Taft was the first President to throw out the baseball season's traditional first pitch. He served a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court after his days in the White House.

Monday, November 19, 2012

I Give Up...

... on the NHL season. I don't know who deserves the blame, and I don't care. I just know that last season was a fun one and I thought the NHL had some momentum. Now, hell, I've lost interest.

I just hope that after the January games are officially cancelled I can get my money back on the tickets I bought through Stub Hub to the Rangers-Stars game in January.

Good Ol' Gump Worsley seems to share my feelings, yes?

That's a 1970 O-Pee-Chee card, btw. One of my few non-Ranger vintage hockey cards.

Friday, November 16, 2012

1964 Philadelphia Gum John Mackey

One of my favorite football cards is this John Mackey from the '64 Philly set. I like the card, sure, but I like it mostly because of John Mackey. He changed the position of tight end from one of a blocking end to a pass catching weapon.

He had speed and size and great hands. I was fortunate to have seen him play in person. My father and I drove through a pouring rainstorm to see the Colts play the Oilers in the Astrodome in October of 1970. It was the only Baltimore Colt game I ever attended. Mackey caught two Johnny Unitas passes for 21 yards. He was no longer a focal point of the team's offense but he still had skills.

Two things stand out about that game. First is that had it not been a Colt game we might not have gone. The rain was horrendous as it often can be in Houston, and we had to get up from watching the Orioles and Reds playing Game Two of the World Series. But it was the Colts and my Dad knew how much I wanted to actually see Unitas play so off we went, listening to the Orioles as we drove.

The second thing is how the Colts won. On their last drive of the game Unitas threw a scoring strike to Roy Jefferson for the winning TD. As long as I live I'll never forget seeing my all time favorite athlete throw the pass and begin to trot towards the sidelines even before it was caught, not even watching. Even nearing the end of his career Unitas was a joy to watch.

A few months later Mackey took a tipped pass off the hands of Eddie Hinton and the Cowboy's Mel Renfro and scored a 50 yards TD in Super Bowl III. Those were heady days for me!

John Mackey is a Hall of Famer but politics held him out of the Hall for far too long. His work as the NFLPA's first president was held against him. It angered me at the time. He has since been named to many all-time great lists including being ranked as #48 on the NFL Network's Top 100 NFL players of all time.

John Mackey, an engaging, witty and intelligent man in his prime was defeated by dementia in his later years. He died of the effects in July of last year.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

1953 Baltimore Orioles Program

It's just a bit the worse for wear but here is another Baltimore Orioles game program from their days prior to re-entering the major leagues. This time the publication comes from the 1953 season as a farm club of the Philadelphia Phillies.

The program had been folded and the lines are easy to see. The cover has a big ol' chunk torn off as well. But the cover artwork is in tact so that makes it still collectible to me. The program is from one of the three series' the O's played against Buffalo in '53.

The management page shows Jack Dunn III who was the third in a long line of Jack Dunns that played prominent roles in the franchise history. His grandfather's T206 card was featured in a post awhile back on this blog. Manager Don Heffner spent forty years in the game and was managing the Reds when his GM, Bill DeWitt, made the infamous Frank Robinson-to-the-Orioles deal.

As always it's fun to see some of the old ads that ran in these publications. "Fresh Up with 7 Up. It likes You." What the hell does that mean? There are several bios of Oriole players scattered through the program. This club had a number of guys who had or would play in the majors but none is a household name. This page shows Marvin E. Rackley.

The program is unscored.

That was followed by a stat page which was half taken up by an ad for a lounge inside LaGuardia Airport. Apparently it's the place where celebrities meet. I once saw Tony Bennett in LaGuardia, but it wasn't in a lounge.

General info on the team, the stadium, tickets, etc.

More ads and another bio. John B. Graham.


The back page. The two Orioles broadcasters are wearing airbrushed caps. They look better than a lot of the caps Topps messed up in their card sets through the years. BTW... Baxter Ward left the Baltimore market for the greener pastures (and faster life) of Los Angeles where he did news anchoring before becoming a semi-successful politician. John MacLean later did radio games for the Senators and red Sox as well as working Mutual's Game of the Day in the later 1950s.

Monday, November 12, 2012

It's Veteran's Day

I'm going to deviate from my normal collection drivel to post a video I received from my aunt over the weekend. My cousin, Lt Col Andrew Straley, USMC returned from a six month deployment in Afghanistan. It was his third deployment in the Middle East in the last few years! 

All of our service personnel have to make sacrifices, some great, some small. Drew left his family which includes his wife and 8 year old triplet girls to provide communications for our troops. The video below includes a few seconds of Drew's return at BWI and then his surprising the girls at their school. Warning: If you know anything about 8 year old girls you know the level of screaming that goes on in the video. It's fun to watch their reaction anyway.

Here's to you, Andy (he's always been 'Andy' to me) and to everyone who gave of themselves to serve on behalf of our freedom.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

1951 O's-Dodgers Scorecard

One of the biggest chunks of my memorabilia stash consists of publications, the vast majority of which are Orioles related. I've got every yearbook, most of their media guides and a couple hundred game programs from 1954 through the 2012 season. But I also have a couple of programs from the 'old' International League Orioles.

This 1951 program comes from the days of the Orioles' incarnation as a Phillies affiliate. What's cool about this one is that it was issued and scored for an exhibition game against the Brooklyn Dodgers. The game was played on April 11 as noted in the exhibition schedule that's included on the third page. That was a week before the Orioles' Opening Game on April 18th versus the Montreal IL club. 

The program consists of the four pages shown here. It's a simple foldout format but packs a bunch of info. I can follow the game as scored even though the pencil writing is faded and the scorers system is much different than mine. The Dodgers won the game 11-7 despite being outhit 10-9. None of that really matters because what caught my eye was the Dodgers' lineup for the game. I'm assuming the game was scheduled as one of those train stop games that big league clubs would play after breaking camp and heading north for the season. They still play those some, don't they?

This ad was the whole back cover of the program. I would have bet that Baltimore staple National Boh would have been their sponsor. The ad mentions the Orioles' manager Nick Cullop. He was a long time minor league player and manager who had played for several clubs over the course of five seasons in the late 20s through 1931. He had one of the best nicknames ever... 'Tomato Face'. 1951 was the second of two seasons for Cullop at the helm of the Orioles. He managed them in 1950 to an IL Championship as a Browns affiliate. In '51 the Orioles finished sixth in the league with a 69-82 record. Collup was managing in independent Northern League in 1952 and returned to the higher minors in 1954.

Back to the line-up. It was populated by almost all of the Bums' starters, some really big names in baseball lore.

If you check out the blown up scan below you can make out the starting line-up:

Don Thompson CF
Carl Furillo LF
Duke Snyder RF
Jackie Robinson 2B
Gil Hodges 1B
Roy Campanella C (the scorer listed him as 'Campy', I love that)
Pee Wee Reese 3B
Rocky Bridges SS
Preacher Roe P

Regular third baseman Billy Cox made a late game appearance as well. I like how the scorer listed the players' uniform numbers. Not as many of the Orioles were big names. OK, none of them were big names but the club had many former and future major leaguers. 

Here is a blown up shot of Ol' Tomato Face.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

El Presidente!

The Astros have announced that Dennis Martinez is joining their staff for 2013. That's great news for someone who was a big fan of the guy back when he was active. There are some players who, when your team cuts ties with the, tend to fade from your focus. Not with Dennis Martinez. If anything I became more of a fan of his after he was traded off than he was when he pitched for the O's.

I knew the issues he had had in his personal life and was really happy to see him get them straightened out and have so much success. I'm really looking forward to seeing him at Minute Maid next season. 

Here's an El Presidente trivia fact. Counting his original signing by the Orioles Martinez signed as a free agent six times in his career. First by the O's, then after the trade to the Expos he re-signed free agent contracts twice with them and later signed FA contracts with the Indians, Mariners and Braves.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Thoughts of better times

Coming off last season's 12-1 season including a bowl win over Penn State and an (at times) national ranking a lot of my fellow Houston alums had visions of another big season in 2012. But I pretty much knew better.

We were going to war with a new unproven coach, new starters at almost all the skill positions and our usual terrible defense. But even given all that I expected better things than what I've seen this year. My Coogs are awful and it's getting worse. The UH faithful (we don't have many) are calling for Coach Levine's mostly bald scalp and it appears our AD's honeymoon is over.

So I thought I'd post a few cards of one of my favorite UH greats, Heisman trophy winning Andre Ware. Ware was the 1989 Heisman winner, the first black quarterback to take home the award. He set dozens of collegiate records while running the Coogs' Run-N-Shoot offense. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004.

The Lions took Ware in the first round of the 1990 draft but his skills didn't translate to the NFL. After four up and down years with Detroit he played in Canada and with Berlin in NFL Europe.

Andre got into broadcasting after his playing days and has worked college football for ESPN/ABC. He has been the radio color analyst for the Texans since their inception and he is really great at it. Honest and well spoken, he is a great representative for the University of Houston.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

And yet another two 1958 All Star cards

This Nellie Fox has a creased corner which doesn't show up on the front in this scan to the same extent it does when viewed in person. OTOH the horizontal lines that cross the front in the scan are barely perceptible in person. I need to figure out my scanner's properties I think.

Anyway the back of the card, as on the rest of these terrific '58 All Stars, tells us that Nellie terrorized the Tigers in 1957. He went 40 for 93, a .430 clip. In addition he scored 22 runs, had 7 doubles, two homers and drove in 13 runs. Those are the best numbers he had against any one club. Of the 21 times he collected three or more hits in a game that year, eight of them came against the Tigers. He did it four times between August 9th and 17th against them. Then on August 18th he hit one of his five 1957 homers. I bet they got sick of him.

I like the Skowron card a lot because it's not a portrait. And because Moose has his trademark 'squint' on. And because he looks like John C. Riley. And because I just liked the Moose in general. Ignore the ragged left edge and soft corners, it's got a nice shine to it. Looks like my Orioles kept Moose in check fairly well in 1957. The three extra base hits they allowed him are the fewest of any club that year.

So this wraps up my '58 AS card eBay haul of last month. I'm pretty sure I'm going to try and collect the rest of this subset. May not be anytime real soon but I'll get to it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

In a Colt state of mind

This card is from the 1970 Topps Super Glossy football set. This is the only one I own and I don't know where I got it or much about it. The back states that there are 33 in the set and the Johnny U. is #2. Not much else to the card back. They didn't go out of their way to make them very interesting.

All of them are visible on this site. The set is comprised of 21 NFL guys and 21 NFC players. There are some big names in the set including 14 Hall of Famers. 15 if you count Joe Kapp (CFL H-O-F member) and even more are members of the College Football H-O-F..