Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Nice Package, Part Two ;-)

My family first moved to Houston in the summer of 1967, early July to be exact. I was heading into my sophomore year of high school and I was the one family member that hated the idea of pulling up our New Jersey roots and heading down here. I pretty much figured that being summer I wouldn't know anyone or even get a chance to know anyone my age until school opened. And a new school itself was not something I relished.

But Houston had baseball, and with the Orioles struggling following the great 1966 season, I decided to throw myself into following the Astros, just because. We were in a hotel for a few days before our moving van arrived and I remember cutting out Astros game stories, box scores and pictures from the Houston papers, the now-defunct Post (where I later was employed for many years) and then afternoon published Chronicle.

Those clipping turned into a scrapbook of the second half of the Astros' dreary 1967 season. I wasn't new to this. I had kept New York Ranger scrapbooks for years. Which brings me to the card at the top of the post. It was part of the Nachos Grande group break and it is why I was happy I dealt the Twins for the 'Stros as my 'second' team. I would never seen it otherwise. It's a 2004 Upper Deck Play Ball Home Run Heroics Eddie Mathews.

It's a gimmick card, sure, but it commemorates Eddie Mathews  500th homer which he hit in a Friday night game on July 14 of that season in Candlestick Park. I don't specifically remember listening to that one but I listened to just about every Astros game that year after we arrived. What I do remember (and probably still have stored somewhere) is the newspaper account of Mathews' milestone. Those were the highly competitive days when newspapers held deadlines until the West Coast games were finished before going to press.

So when this card came out of the stack from Chris I really got a kick out of it when I realized what it was. There are a couple of others in the break that are worth mentioning, for differing reasons.

This is Dave Crouthers, a 2001 3rd Round pick of the Orioles. After the 2004 season, with a 30-25 minor league record, the O's tossed him along with Mike Fontenot (who?) and Jerry Hairston, Jr. into the trade for Sammy Sosa. This may be the most obscure autograph card I own but in looking at that trade I did discover that both Crouthers and Hairston played for Southern Illinois. I also now know that Hairston played for the Orioles for seven seasons and then for two teams for two seasons and five teams for one season. So there.

This is Annette Charles. I have no idea who she is or why she has a card and I don't care either. Plus she's rather unattractive in a Pat Nixon sort of way. 

Pinnacle Press Cal Ripken. Any Ripken is a good Ripken. That stance is #845 of the 1252 different ones that Cal used in his career.

And finally a 'laundry' card of Rafael Palmeiro. In August 2005 I was driving my family from NYC to Baltimore on our monumental East Coast vacation when the news broke that he'd been suspended for steroid use. When we attended the games at Camden Yards the sign congratulating him on 3000 hits was still up. But he wasn't playing.

Of the cards that I received as part of Chris' 'trade stack', this is my favorite:

It's a 2005 Upper Deck Classics Lyman Bostock. He was a talented young outfielder for the Twins and Angels who was shot an killed in 1978 in a case that was the result of Bostock being in that too familiar 'wrong place, wrong time'. He'd only played four seasons in the bigs when he died. If you are a fan of the powder blue double knit era, this is a card for you.

Here are a few others with quick observations:

I liked Frank Viola with the Twins. But wearing that terrible Met road uni with the shoulder stripes? Ugh. Still kind of a neat card. Looks like he's charging a bunt.

There is no way this guy hit 50 homers in one season. He's the bat boy. I don't believe he was juiced but I'm totally convinced the ball was. It was part of baseball's attempt to pull fans back into the game.

EDIT: The more I look at this card the more I'm convinced it actually IS the bat boy.

I don't know Kevin Foster but that's a screamin' Cubbie throwback, isn't it? 

Chris Sabo, without his goggles. He just looks weird like that.

 btw....THIS is Chris Sabo.

Cliff Floyd pulling a hammy, again. He does Sirius fantasy baseball radio shows. He's pretty good at it. Funny and insightful. Better than he was at staying healthy.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Nice Package, Part One ;-)

I had planned on going to the big Tristar memorabilia show last Saturday. But I was sick as a dog and didn't make it. Since I'm not really looking for anything in particular, don't have a want list or anything, I was OK with missing it. I figured it was money that would be better used on our vacation trips anyway. So, unlike in the old days, I blew it off. No big deal.

That is until Monday morning when good ol' Night Owl started chirping about his weekend card show experience. He picked up some really cool stuff. Grabbed a couple of nice Koufax Leader cards, some '77 Topps he needed and a bunch of stuff from bargain boxes. Even a recent shiny Topps Frank Robinson card that I'd never seen, Very cool. And so I felt that twinge of regret. Now I was wishing that I HAD gone to the show on Sunday when I was feeling better and not worried about being 'a good husband' and taking care of what was needed to be done at home. I was kind of kicking myself all day at work. That lasted until I got home and a big thick yellow mailer was in the box. It was my goodies from Chris of the Nachos Grande blog! I had bought in to his group break a couple of weeks back AND claimed his 'trade stack' by sending some cards off his want list.

So I was feeling instantly better. I was getting some new-to-me card stuff after all. Cool. I opened the package and then spent the better part of ten minutes getting to the cards themselves. Chris' mailouts are pretty much secure from any possible natural or man-made disaster. When the Zombie Apocalypse occurs only Twinkies, roaches and Chris' card packages will survive. But with the help if a box cutter and some elbow grease I was able at last to spread out the goodies across my desk. The group break cards consisted of Orioles which I claimed as my team, and Astros for which I had traded my randomly assigned 2nd team, the Twins. That trade, by the way, was one I regretted for awhile when early packs opened by Chris contained no Astros and at least one Twins 'hit' and some other neat cards I could no longer claim. But in the end the Astros represented themselves pretty well.

The Brooks Robinson Upper Deck card at the top was one of the Orioles. I like it because it features a picture I don't recall seeing on a card. I got the Ripken out of that set as well.

This is a Topps Chrome Ripken from a year I can't read off the back because the printing is too small for my old eyes. If you have some of these you can appreciate the live and in-person over-the-top look of them. Did they all have a hologram baseball and tie dye design. I'm getting facial tics from staring at it right now. Let's move on.

These three cards are of Orioles players who played most of their careers while I was not paying attention much. There is a big gap in my baseball fandom history from the '94 strike to about 2010 or so. Other than a very casual knowledge of the Astros' doings during that time and a couple of games in Camden Yards and  Yankee Stadiums II & III I was oblivious to the game. Anyway, there were several cards from each of the sets you see. And Astros from those sets, too. These included local players I DO know.

It's Shiny Holographic-ish Lima Time! I think you had to live in Houston back in his prime to appreciate just what a squirrel he was. He was on TV all the time with one stupid commercial or another. What a character. He had a sizzling wife, though. I once told my wife that Lima's wife was the only woman I'd leave her for. My wife rolled her eyes and gave me 'that look'. She's heard me say that about Giada, too.

Craig Biggio will make the Hall of Fame one of these days, maybe next year. My kids loved him. They went to see him get his 3060th and last hit in his last game from field box tickets courtesy of dear old Dad. 

Here's a rare Jeff Bagwell card that does not feature him swinging like he wants to hit one to another dimension.

And a couple of cards of my favorite Astro, Lance Berkman. I first saw him play at Rice University. And he seems like a real gem of a guy. I'm really happy he got his World Series ring, even though it was as a Cardinal. Could have been worse, he could have won it as a Yankee. That Cardinal-Rangers Series, by the way, is pretty much what won me back as a baseball fan.

And now for my two favorite group break Oriole cards:

I just love the Upper Deck Past Time Pennants set. Just terrific photography and a sweet design. I got four from this set, two I had that I've shown before, the Eddie Murray and the Brooks Robinson. Of course the best one I own is the gorgeous Rocky Colavito. The Ripken and Palmer make it a nice foursome of Oriole cards from this set. I have a nice four card display frame waiting to be filled.

That's enough for now. I'll post a couple more, including the card a wasn't expecting that turned out to be my favorite of the break, when I get the chance. I'll also show off the cards I got in the 'trade stack' group.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Pack of Racing Cards

I was at a Target store not long ago and while I was waiting for my wife to finish shopping I went to the card display and found a mixed up box of all kinds of packs marked .99 so I grabbed one of the NASCAR packs. 

I used to be a huge NASCAR guy but that was more than a few years ago. I follow it still but not nearly as closely as I did in the 80s and 90s when I knew every driver, his crew chief and his sponsor. Now I will watch the Daytona 500 and a few others, or at least DVR a few and watch if anything exciting has happened.

Anyway I bought this pack of Press Pass 2011 cards not knowing what to expect. I was very pleased to open it and recognize the guy on the first card, Bobby Labonte. One of the two Texas Labonte brothers, Bobby was a favorite of mine back when he was winning races and a title for Joe Gibbs in the green Interstate Battery #18. There was a guy I'd see driving around my part of town that had a Chevy painted up to match that car. I secretly envied him. Labonte is still racing, has decent finishes from time to time but his days as a driver for a first rate team are gone.

The Mobil One car has been on the track for many years but I remember it when it carried the #1 on the sides. And Dodge has pulled out of NASCAR this year.

Here we go! The Home Depot #20. Too bad it is not Tony Stewart's ride anymore. 'Smoke' is a throw back to an earlier era in auto racing. He's either upfront or crashing to get there. He drives anything with wheels. After Stewart formed his own team the #20 was driven by Joey Logano. He was a young hot shot who probably got a NASCAR Sprint Cup ride too early. He's never lived up to his hype.

I spend a lot of time on I-10 which is a major east-west route and I'll see a few NASCAR haulers rolling through Houston from time to time. I still get a kick out of seeing them. Jeff Burton drives the #31 Caterpillar car.

There were a couple of other cards but I'm figuring that posting four will lose me plenty of readers as it is. I have one more NASCAR post but it's a story from my first in-person race. These Press Pass cards are nothing special. Typical slick, colorful and shiny modern stuff. One pack is plenty for me.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

1969 World Series Press Pin (Orioles)

Nowadays all Super Bowl logos look alike, and there are only generic World Series programs every year (I believe only the covers are different for each team). Thankfully there is still the tradition of each World Series participating team giving out out pins to members of the press and special guests.

While the 1969 World Series is still a painful memory for me there is absolutely nothing wrong with this terrific pin. It's one of my favorite Oriole items. Part of the pin's appeal is that it came to me from a member of the Orioles family who I became friends with in Baltimore in the late 80's. This is a straight 'pinback' style pin rather that the more often seen 'post and clutch' style. Not sure why the O's went that route. I also see this in 'charm' form which was what was given to wives and the other female personnel who were awarded them.

I've got three of the Orioles six Series pins (and the beautiful 1958 and butt ugly 1993 All Star Game pins). I'll get them up on here soon.

In the interest of fairness here is the Mets' pin from the same Series. I found this pic. I don't own the pin. Why would I?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

1953 Topps #15 Bobo Newsom

I've really been enjoying Classon Ave's Adventures in 1952 Topps blog. I'll never be able to put that set together but it'll be fun watching him do it. And like me, he's not all that concerned about condition so it's an attainable goal.

One night I got to wondering how many of the players pictured on the '52 set had played with or against Babe Ruth. With his last season being 1935 I knew it was probable that a handful of the older players had done so. I was just beginning my informal research* when the name Bobo Newsom popped up. I'd heard his name come up before but didn't really know much about him.

Turns out that Bobo Newsom was a heck of a colorful character. He pitched for twenty years beginning in 1929 and 1930 with cups of coffee in Brooklyn. After an inning with the Cubs in 1932 and 30 win minor league season(!) Bobo found himself in a starting role with the St. Louis Browns in '34. And as such he faced the Yankees six times that year, five starts and a relief appearance. In those games Ruth was in the line-up for the Bombers four times and he went 4 for 14 off Bobo, all of his hits being singles.

In 1935 Ruth was playing out the string with one last early season fling in Boston with the Bees (Braves) and Bobo was still in the AL with the Browns so the two never again faced each other in a regular game. Newson's best days were perhaps his Tiger seasons in the early 40's. In the 1940 World Series against Cincinnati he pitched and won Games One and Five and then went out and lost a tough 2-1 decision to the Reds in the decisive Game Seven.

Newsom kicked around the majors through 1948 while putting together both 20 win and 20 loss seasons here and there. He spent the 1949 through 1951 seasons in the minors and operating a drive-in diner and then returned to the majors in 1952 and '53 with the Nats and A's.

Turns out he didn't have a card in the 1952 set but he returned to cardboard acclaim as part of the 1953 Topps offering. So he wasn't part of my personal "52 Topps guys+Babe Ruth" subset but was interesting as hell and he DID face Ruth.

I went hunting and found a bunch of Newson's '53 cards online and picked up this one for next to nothing. It's off center (ok, seriously off-center) but it's otherwise a beauty. Bobo looks like he'd be a million laughs at a party, doesn't he?

Do yourself a favor and read his SABR bio. Turns out 'Bobo' wasn't just his nickname, it was what he called just about everyone else. He worked as part of the Orioles broadcasting crew in the mid '50s and appeared on a pair of the Esskay Meats cards distributed at that time. I found a few pics online. Here is one of them. Once again Bobo has that twinkle in his eye! These are well outta my price range I'm sure. Too bad.

*=I believe the answer is three, Dutch Leonard who pitched for the Dodgers in 1935 but didn't face Ruth, Al Benton who faced Ruth in four games as a pitcher for the Athletics in 1934 and Newsom. Several other guys came close. Johnny Mize debuted the season after Ruth retired as did a few others.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

1962 Salada Brooks Robinson Coin

Pretty simple item, a Brooks Robinson 'coin' from the 'Salada Tea set' of 1962. These were promo items found in packages of several different products including Salada Tea and Junket custard mix. I have about six of these, all Orioles, with two coming from the similarly designed metal 1963 set. It's a plastic 'coin' with the front picture printed on paper and inserted into the frame. I believe they only come in blue and red and I have no idea if players are available in both colors.

The back has a couple of lines about the set including the fact that "there are 200 coins. Ten from each team". In truth there are 221 coins and the variations up the checklist to over 260. The 1963 set consisted of 63 coins. That info on the reverse side of '62 coins is printed 'in relief', sort of an embossed deal, so it doesn't show up in a scan. The 1963 set had more standard printed backs. There is a bit of info on the sets here (1962) and here (1963).

I'm not sure where I picked this Brooks coin up. I don't think it was something I saved from the days it was issued but I do know that, like Post Cereal/Jello card boxes, I bugged my Mom to buy this stuff. I was surprised to find it is still available. Salada Tea is still around as well.

Monday, January 21, 2013

More Earl Cards, etc.

I dug up some cards of Earl yesterday while watching the NFL. I tried (and failed) to find my old copy of the Earl Weaver Baseball game I had many years ago. I think it was the first program I bought to use on my old Gateway 386 machine. But I know it's the only computer or video game I every played outside a few failed attempts to master EA Sports NHL Hockey '98 on my kids' Nintendo and an occasional game of Pong in a bar.

 If you haven't tired of Earl Weaver obits and memories there is a good write-up by Roy Firestone on the Orioles Hangout blog. And a nice tribute by Richard Justice.

And finally I was easily able to find a shot of the old Earl Weaver Baseball game online. I'm reminded of how little patience I have for games on any platform. I barely remember playing this thing. If it had been called Billy Martin Baseball or Tommy Lasorda Baseball I'd probably never given it a second thought. Anyone else remember when programs were listed as "IBM" compatible?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I Dig Pink Cards!!!

I somehow stumbled across what is called (I think) a 'sell sheet' for the upcoming 2013 Topps set. I wasn't really interested (I don't have many current cards) until I saw the PINK Marlins guy card! That got my attention. The 1959 Topps pink framed cards are some of my favorites among the ones I've posted on my other blog. They are pretty cool in a weird way. I'm particularly fond of one, the only '59 Topps that is part of my set that survived from my youth. That card is the centerpiece of the set for me even though it's the worst one in terms of condition.

I don't know much (OK, I don't know ANYTHING) about the 'parallel' cards that I see everywhere. Blue parallels, shiny chrome parallels, parallels that only show up at one store chain. I don't see how anyone, even the Topps people can keep it all straight. And how does anyone make a complete set? Does anyone even try?

Be that as it may, I was excited to see that there will be pink colored cards in the '13 Topps. I may try to find one or two if they are not too expensive. I gathered up some of the pink cards in my collection. Most come from the '59 Topps set obviously but I found many that I'd forgotten.

Some are 'more pink' than others. Most have at least a fair sized 'name box' in that color. I know some mid- to late 60's cards had pinkish accents like circles for the team name (I'm thinking Red Sox?). There are tons of others that I either can't think of or don't have handy. I don't have any other sports represented by a pink card in my collection. I'd bet there were some hockey and basketball ones.

edit: I found out that Topps already has put out some pink cards in the current football set. Sure enough there is one on this page. And a search turns up a bunch more.

1959 Bill Virdon

1959 Ron Kline

 1965 Roberto Clemente (the fabulous Mantle card is also this same dark pink but I don't have it. Maybe some day)

1966 Yaztrzemski. This is a pic I found on the net, mine hasn't been broken out of the grading slab yet and scanning slabbed cards makes me frustrated. But it's about as nice as this one.

1959 Kaline/Maxwell

1959 Junior Gilliam

1960 Topps Roy Face

 1958 Ryne Duren. For some reason the scanned color background looks 'off' to me. 

 1960 Russ Snyder

T206 Hal Chase. It looks orange or sort of 'peach' but it's pink (or it was a long time ago). As always my scanner erps out the t206s without some of the border. 

1959 Oisk

1958 Topps Jim Bunning

1959 Jim Brosnan

1958 Art F'ing Ditmar

Even football cards got the 'pink treatment' now and then. 
1966 Philly Gum Bob Hayes. The whole team set of Philly Gum Cowboys cards were pink for a couple of years. I'd like to get a '67 Don Meredith. 

1965 Topps Tom Day  

1958 Topps Bobby Layne 

1959 Gene Snyder

1959 Tony Taylor

and the King of all my pink cards..... 1959 Bob Gibson. Probably the only original 'one owner' Topps '59 in my set.