Monday, December 31, 2012

Nicest pin ever? Or was I screwed?

Harry Truman ran shoestring presidential campaigns and as a result his pins are pretty scarce and can be costly. I've passed up quite a few on eBay and elsewhere because I thought the pin was too expensive or the dealer wasn't sharp enough to know if he actually had an original.

A week before Christmas I found one on eBay that looked pretty nice, was not too expensive (about $24 IIRC), claimed to be original and came from a dealer with near perfect feedback (lots of it).
The pin arrived the other day, I pulled it out and it looked like this:

The scan doesn't do it justice. It's shiny and just perfect. Flawless celluloid surface. I thought it was the nicest 40's era pin I'd ever owned. And then I turned it over. Again, flawless. And that's the problem.

I've been collecting these pins for a long time. I can't remember ever seeing a supposedly 60+ year old pin with a perfect back side and pin. Never. These babies were made with the cheapest possible alloy and they stain and tarnish over the years no matter now well they are kept.

So now I have a question in to the seller. He seems like a very nice guy, emailing me about sending the pin out after Christmas if it wasn't something I needed for a gift. And his feedback is almost perfect. I asked him if he was certain that the pin was an original and not a reproduction. And I was very polite about it. So I'll be interested in hearing what he has to say.

I was contacted by the seller today (Monday) and he provided me with enough info and a backstory on his pins that I'm pretty sure the pin is original. Looks like I made a pretty good deal.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Or Do They?

I was waxing nostalgic the other day on the merits of the Philly Gum football sets. I went back to find more in my mish-mash box of football cardboard and came across a couple of 'modern' cards I thought were blog worthy.

These are from the 1997 Upper Deck Legends set. For my $$ the Y.A. Tittle card is about as close to 'art' as a football card can get. I mean just look at it. That cliche which says a picture is worth a thousand words? This card embodies that.

Late in a tough game at Yankee Stadium, probably in mid-December, probably against the Packers. It's been dark since halftime and now it's pushing 6 p.m. Tittle comes off the field after a TD toss for the lead to Joe Morrison or maybe Del Shofner. He goes to the bench to warm his hands while Bart Starr takes over and tries to put the Pack back on top. Nobody goes over to talk to Tittle who is lost in thought as the Yankee Stadium lights shine off his helmet. Up in the booth Ray Scott, the best football broadcaster ever, calls the Packer drive as only he could. "Starr..." long pause while the ball travels downfield... "...this is Dowler.....touchdown".

Great card from a really cool set. I have two others, one the John Unitas card below. But I went looking at others online and decided I wanted the set, at least the base set. I don't need the autographed cards or any special inserts, I don't care about any of that. I think the photography of the base cards make it one of the best football sets ever.

I found the base set at a decent price so it's on the way. Meanwhile here is the Johnny U. It's another card that sparks a lot of good memories: the gorgeous Colt unis...Memorial Stadium...those high top shoes... the baseball infield dirt. I can't wait for the whole set to arrive.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

They Don't Make 'Em Like This Anymore

For my money the Philadelphia Gum football sets of the mid 60s are among the best cards ever printed. Lots of collectors have described them as 'dull' but I don't agree at all. I have a sort of open ended goal to collect one of these sets some day. I'll likely wait until after I've got most of my Topps '59 baseball set blogged so I can concentrate on the Philly Gum set. 

I never knew anything about the company. My friends and I had the strange idea that it was just a brand name used by Topps which was doing AFL cards back then. We came to believe this because of the 'fine print' copyright line on the back of the cards which to used seemed to be a near duplicate of the size and type font Topps used. 

Wikipedia schooled me on the company:
The company was established in 1948 in Havertown, Pennsylvania, by Edward P. Fenimore (a longtime chewing gum expert who was with Bowman Gum). His son Edward L. Fenimore, served as president of the company and for a period, as the Chairman of the National Association of Chewing Gum Manufacturers. His sons, Edward P. II & Richard L., later joined him on the management team, making the company a third generation family owned and operated business. All products, many of which were sold under the Swell brand name, were manufactured in a 200,000-square-foot (19,000 m2) factory just west of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

Anyway here are a few of my favorites, several of which I've posted previously. I have more of the '64 set than any of the others so that may be the one I end up chasing.

 1966 Philly Gum Lenny Moore

1964 Philly Gum Del Shofner

 This Shofner card is typical of many in that set as it used a shot taken with an empty grandstand behind him. My Dad loved the "New York Football Giants" as he called them. I listened to a lot of games of theirs broadcast by Marty Glickman and Al DeRogatis. 

1964 Philly Gum John Mackey

1964 Philly Gum John Unitas

1964 Philly Gum Jim Martin

1964 Morrall & Scholtz

 1965 Philly Gum John Unitas

1967 Philly Gum Sonny Jurgenson

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Big Day at Reliant Stadium

It wasn't all that long ago I spent my Sundays hoping that the Texans would escape embarrassment on the football field. Sitting up in Section 641 or watching from the couch (when I could stand to watch) I always said I just wanted to get to a point where the Texans were playing meaningful games in December.

Well those days finally arrived last season and now we are at a point where a win today clinches home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Standing (or rather running) in the way is the remarkable Adrian Peterson and his Vikings. They've got playoff intentions themselves and may have even more than the Texans to play for.

I'm letting my sons go to the game. My Nebraska grad hasn't been to a game since last season and he and his brother should have some fun. I'm missing my second consecutive home game. I never thought that would happen but I'm glad my guys will get a chance to be together at a game.

I sure hope they get to see a Texans win!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I'm Through (With the NHL... for this year)

Yup, when it comes to the NHL I'm wearing a mask just like Jacques Plante and Eddie Giacomin cuz I can't see myself giving a damn now. I got my refund for the terrific rink-side tickets I had for the Rangers game in Dallas on January 4. It was going to be a great family holiday adventure. Now the game and our fun are cancelled.

It took me more than a decade to get back to giving a crap about baseball after the strike that cancelled the World Series. And I'm still only a half ass fan these days. Who knows how I'll feel about hockey after this since it's likely the second cancelled season in recent years.

 I may still go to an Aeros game or two this season because I love the sport but the NHL is officially dead to me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Back Home from Nebraska

I've been off with my family watching the graduation of my son from the University of Nebraska. He's the third and final of my kids for finish college and I'm proud of all of them.

They take their Huskers very seriously up there. The football team has sold out Memorial Stadium for over three hundred consecutive games and the womens volleyball team tickets disappear within minutes of going on sale.

On my son's first visit to Lincoln to check it out we sat down at an IHOP for coffee and the 60-ish waitress asked us if we were "in town for the game?" Being that it was a Wednesday in April we were a little puzzled and it showed because she gave us a funny look and remarked that we must not be softball fans. On that same trip we stopped at one of the college bookstores in town and I noticed a display of Husker Spring Game DVDs on the counter. I picked one up to see if it really was what it proported to be and the cashier warned me that they were in short supply because they sell out fast. A DVD of the spring game. Hmmm.

Anyway here are a few of my favorite Nebraska related cards. The one up top is from the 1955 Topps All-American football set which featured notable college players and legends of years past. Bob Reynolds is the only Husker representative.

This one is a 2007 Zak Taylor Press Pass. We met Taylor on that same trip at a reception and he seemed like nice level headed kid. My son fell in love with Lincoln and UNL on that trip and chose to go there over offers from Arizona State, Oklahoma State and others. I think he made the right choice.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dewey Defeats Truman


That's one of the most famous headlines of the 20th Century. In the 1948 Presidential election the Chicago Tribune prematurely published a special edition of their paper declaring Republican Thomas Dewey of New York the winner over Missouri Democrat Harry S Truman who had run as FDR's Veep and succeeded him after his death. Of course the Trib was wrong and Truman got a lot of mileage out of the picture of him holding the paper and smiling.

1948 marked Dewey's second run at the Presidency  He had fallen short in 1944 against Roosevelt although his 44% of the popular vote was higher than any other man to run against FDR. In 1948 he was the prohibitive favorite against a splintered Democratic Party but his timid, middle of the road campaign left him vulnerable to an upset and Truman won the election. 


Dewey was one of those interesting New York bred moderate Republicans of a breed that seemed to die out with Nelson Rockefeller. He served several terms as governor after making a name for himself as an anti-Mafia 'gangbuster' while serving as a federal prosecutor and Manhattan District Attorney. He became a multi-millionaire as a very successful lawyer. 

Late in life he became discouraged by the direction of his party and essentially left it when he refused to attend the coronation of Barry Goldwater as the GOP's 1964 candidate.

The pin at the top is from his 1948 campaign that he ran alongside his VP candidate Earl Warren then Governor of California. The one below comes from either that campaign or the previous one in 1944. The slogan "Clean House with Dewey" is likely a play on his reputation as a crime fighting prosecutor. 

The one up top and the one on with the flaws below are from my collection. It looks a lot rougher in my blown up scan than it does in person. I found a nicer example of that one on the web and posted it for clarity.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Go-To Guy

Yes, my Texans are getting killed. So it's time to make myself feel better by pulling out a couple of cards of Eddie Murray. Eddie always gets me out of my funk.

We see here a thick, shiny gold Eddie Murray with a piece of his uniform inserted. Or so says Upper Deck. I always wondered how reliable these things are. It's kind of a nice card either way. The pic is from his later days with the Birds. He's wearing the mid '90s style duds. The sideburns are by now out of style.

But here is the real deal, a Topps 1981 Murray from his days as a serious bad ass. Eddie poses in the Memorial Stadium home dugout, gazing up at the crowd with an expression that says "You people could never be as cool as I am."

Long live Eddie Murray!!!!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Heisman Day

Some kid, a redshirt freshman from up the road, will probably take home the top individual honor in college football today.

Here is a look at one of my favorite cards featuring college football players. It's a 2007 Press Pass featuring the only University of Houston Heisman winner Andre Ware and current Arizona Cardinal Kevin Kolb.

Both made huge contributions to the Houston program and both had (or in Kolb's case is still having) mixed results in the pros. Ware currently does radio for the Texans and he's very good. Well spoken and not a homer. I listen to a lot of NFL games via Sirius radio. And I've found that coherent unbiased commentary is pretty rare.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

2003 Upper Deck Pride of New York Art Ditmar

I like Art Ditmar. I collect his cards. But to include him in a set titled 'Pride of New York' seems a little over the top.

Neat card though. The design is pretty sweet and the sig is front and center. What I like most about it is that the picture could have easily been taken on a Sunday afternoon in a sun-drenched Yankee Stadium with me and my Dad in attendence. Maybe a 1961 doubleheader against the White Sox or A's.

No way to know for sure but it's fun to speculate and it brings back some nice memories.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

1957 Topps Art Ditmar

The '57 Topps set is just so great. I'm partial to it to a large extent because it contains the rookie card of Brooks Robinson. But so many of the cards are nice. The Koufax, the flipped negative Hank Aaron, The Ted Williams. Take a stroll over here and see if you don't agree. I bet you have forgotten how cool the '57 set is.

I like that Art Ditmar is wearing white undersleeves for his shot. I think those are against the rules nowadays. Might have been then, too. Ditmar may just have been wearing them before the game on a day he wasn't pitching.

The coloring on this card almost makes it look like a 'night card' but I doubt it is. Probably just how the flash illuminated Ditmar or maybe it was recolored. Hard to say. And Topps included an unusual 'Traded' line on the back. Instead of the standard dry 'Traded to Yankees in April' they fleshed it out with "As this card went to press..." and they used red ink to set it off.

Ditmar is pictured in his A's uni with the Yankees listed as his club. Interestingly one of the players he was traded for, Tom Morgan has been airbrushed into an A's cap. Morgan's Yankee pinstripes are still visible.

Monday, December 3, 2012

1961 Topps Art Ditmar

Here is Part 2 of this blog's look at 50s/60s pitcher Art Ditmar. The 1961 Topps set is fairly plain, not ugly, just plain. The green and black backs though is one of my least favorite Topps cardback color combos.

The left panel of the cartoon on this Ditmar card gave me pause. I had to go check the numbers and sure enough Ditmar's 15 wins led the Yankee staff in 1960. I would have bet on Whitey Ford, or even Ralph Terry.

Ditmar was treated pretty rudely by the Pirates in the 1960 Series. He started twice, getting KO'd in the first inning of Game One and the second inning of Game Five. Yikes.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

It's Art F'ing Ditmar Week!!

Yes, Art Ditmar. For no other reason than I think I have more vintage cards of him than any non-Oriole other than Sandy Koufax. I wrote about my being a fan of the guy when his card was featured on my 1959 Topps blog. I explained it like this:

True confession time... I've always had a 'thing' for Art Ditmar. No, no... not in the same way I've always had a 'thing' for Jennifer Beals..... but a 'thing' nonetheless. I've got several of his cards. It began when I was a kid and the joke among my many Yankee fan friends was "Oh oh, you're screwed, here comes Art F'ing Ditmar!!"  Yes, most of my friends had precious little comedy talent. but that's another post. It was one of those inside jokes and we all became fans of the guy, even those of us who didn't root for the Yanks.
The '58 Topps set doesn't get a lot of love generally. At least it seems that way to me. It's pretty colorful but I think the 'no-background' pics, many of which are just head shots, leave something to be desired. No matter this pink Ditmar card is pretty sweet. The backs had a lot of 'stuff' crammed into the small space. Here Ditmar's card contains a short write-up, his vitals and a 'double' cartoon with some fun artwork. The standard (thru '58) year/life stat lines cover the bottom.

I'll be putting up more Art Ditmar cards throughout the upcoming week. Try and curb your enthusiasm, will you? I'm sure I'm putting my 'Oriole Fan Membership Card' at risk but that's OK. I'm secure in my Oriole-ness.