Tuesday, July 30, 2013

More from Fuji's TWE

Here are a few more items that I got in the Thick Manilla Envelope from Fuji of The Chronicles of Fuji a few weeks back. 

First we have a Gregg "With Two G's" Olson Toys'R'Us card out of a boxed set. Boxed sets branded with retailers names were big back then. I saw a lot of KMart cards and have some from Woolworth, Drake's cakes and a lot more. When I purged my collection some years ago I generally pulled the Orioles from the sets and gave the rest away to kids at my school.

Olson was a bad ass when he was in his prime. 

It's AJ10!!  He had two dingers in a recent game against the Red Sox and paid for it.

Ripken mminiiiissss! Does Night Owl get a residual for that?

One of the strangest autos you'll see. Mamon Tucker is apparently proud of his first name but ashamed of his last name. 

It took a little research to figure this one out. With as much stuff as i was digging up in 1990 I don't remember these. Topps 'Sticker backs". I found that the Ripken part of this card is a peel-off sticker. Once peeled the Gaetti is then a blank back card. I'm making that sound waaaay more complicated than it actually is.

'Sticker' side

 'Card' side

And one of if not the coolest thing in the package..... an official autographed Fujiiiiiiii card  (apologies to Night Owl)!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

1940 Play Ball "Bill" Hershberger

A blog I really enjoy is the Infinite Baseball Card Set authored by Gary Cieradkowski. He is a graphic artist and the cards he designs are fabulous. What makes his blog even more of a treat is the well written historic texts that accompany the cards. Most of the players he features are not the superstars we are all so familiar with but rather ordinary players with extraordinary stories.

One such player that was recently profiled is Willard 'Bill' Hershberger who was famed catcher Ernie Lombardi's back up from 1938 through 1940. That club produced two pennants (1939 and 1940) and a World Series title in 1940. Playing for a powerhouse club like those Reds teams was not enough to allow Hershberger to fight off the demons that had haunted him since he, at the age of 18, was awaked by the sound of his father's suicide by gunshot and he himself found the body.

It's not a happy story by any means. But Cieradkowski does a great job of chronicling the years that led up to Hershberger being the only major league player to commit suicide during a regular season. It's definitely worth reading the entries that make up the whole story.  Part One is here and Part Two is here.

As a matter of happenstance I've been looking at a few 1940 Play Ball cards, one I purchased and a couple that I have dug out of my collection. The Hershberger story got me digging around the 'net and I found this clean and sharp copy of Hershberger's 1940 PB. It was priced pretty cheaply so I bought it.

I've already discussed the merits of this great set. This card stands out because Gum, Inc. added a 1939 pennant to the front of (all?) the Reds in the set to signify their NL crown the previous year.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Some West Coast Treats

I recently got a thick manila envelope (TME?) from Fuji of The Chronicles of Fuji blog. He had let me know an envelope was coming but what he didn't tell me was that I'd need a front end loader to get it from the mailbox to the house.

Anyway when I opened it I found all sorts of interesting stuff. This is a good place to tell ya that Fuji and I have a very similar outlook on collecting. I don't think he'd disagree that we are both 'all over the map' when it comes to interests. We may not target the same players or teams but we both like oddball items, figurines, publications, non-sports stuff. We both have an interest in Japanese players, that sort of thing.

So anyway, here is Part One of what fell out of the TME:

He included almost 20 Americana cards. I don't know a lot about this set but if it features Presidents, I'm interested. Funny thing is I'm not very political at all. I refuse to get into debates on Facebook or even talk politics anywhere else. But I'm endlessly fascinated by politicians, particularly U.S. Presidents. I am intrigued by campaign strategy, how Presidents administer, how the job changes them, etc. Presidential Libraries are a place i could spend every free day I had.  Included in Fuji's lot were three of my favorites, Lyndon Johnson, Jack Kennedy and John Adams. If I could add the Lincoln I'd have my own personal Mt. Rushmore of Commanders in Chief.

There were baseball cards in there as well. Lots of them, all Orioles. And I don't think I already had any of them.

Here is a Nick Markakis die-cut. It's some sort of 'X' card from Upper Deck. Ana Lu is jealous.

Next up, a pair of shiny things. I was surprised to see Miguel Tejada playing for the Royals on Monday night. Every time they showed him he was chatting up an Oriole runner out at second base. Since the O's got about 17 hits there were plenty of opportunities for conversation. 

I don't think I remember seeing any of the cards that came with a film covering on the front. And if they wanted to make cards with some protection they should have had corner protectors. <shrug>  Did collectors pull off the film? Inquiring minds and all that.

A more current card here. Frank Robinson on a contemporary Topps Chasing History. I am so glad the Birds brought back that cartoon bird.

And this is an Archive reprint of one of my very favorite cards, the 1969 Topps Bird belters. Frank, Brooks, and towels hanging on the dugout wall.

Here is something cool unrelated to Fuji's slew of cards: Topps had this color negative up in their eBay store a couple of years ago. Obviously from the same photo shoot.

They got a lot of mileage out of that few minutes of picture taking.

More from Fuji is coming up before long.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Soupy Sales, a pair of Topps 1965 (or 1967) cards

Growing up in Northern New Jersey I had quite a few friends who loved different teams, enjoyed different sports. We favored different pizza joints and 'liked' different girls. We swore by different newspapers and we argued over comic book heroes.  But one thing we all agreed on was that Soupy Sales was the best thing on TV. 

If you are unfamiliar with Soupy I'm not sure I can explain him. His career started in local Detroit television and in the mid 60s he came to the New York metro area and did his show from the Channel 5 studios. 

His show consisted of pretty broad humor, recurring 'bits', music (mostly from Soupy himself), byplay with his larger than life dog puppets Pookie and White Fang, and assorted foolishness. Some of his better recurring skits included answering the door to find special guests, fake radio broadcasts, newsreel excerpts that he turned into jokes, and other equally dumb crap. He was best known as the guy who made the 'pie in the face' popular. He had big name stars on the show, Sammy Davis, Frank Sinatra and they got the pie 'treatment'. But I loved the guy. Looking back at videos of the show I see the unevenness of his routines. And just as I remember he played to the studio crew as much as the unseen audience. 

He famously was suspended for a few shows for asking his viewers to go look for green pictures of Presidents in their father's wallet and sending them in to him. There were also stories of racy double entendres which we chose to believe and repeat to each other endlessly but likely never really were used on the show. 

On one show the crew did prank Soupy by having an (off camera and unseen by the audience) topless girl at the door when Soupy answered the doorbell. It's a classic piece of video. 

Anyway here are a couple of Soupy Sales cards from the 1965 Topps set. There were 66 in the complete set and each of them has a very corny tagline on the reverse. The list is here on the PSA site. I'd love to have the whole set but they are priced way too high for my blood. I picked these two up just to have them. They was advertised as VG I think but are darn near perfect. I remember these being around when I was a kid but I don't remember actually collecting them. I see references to both 1965 and 1967 as the dates they were distributed. I'd go with '65 because the show was still being aired live then. By '67 it was in syndication. 

Soupy Sales, whose real name was Milton Supman, died in 2009. Typing that just now I recall that knowing his real name made a kid cool in our eyes. Jeez, we were very immature. 

R.I.P. Soupy!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Three PR4 "Cracker Jack" Pins or are they?

These neat little pins are classified as PR4 and they date from 1930 to 1933.Napkin Doon (as in "Adventures of") showed off some graded beauties he came across at his LCS earlier this month. Those were very sweet. These metal pinbacks feature baseball players, presidents, actors/actresses and, according to an advertising piece I found, 'Indians, generals, animals and birds'. 

I had this post ready to go and included a little history of baseball-related Cracker Jack prizes when I stumbled across a couple of things on a card discussion forum that made me stop and re-think things. More of that in a minute.

First, these pins are not terribly expensive if you want to pick up some of the non-sports pins as I did. The Kit Carson and Wild Bill Hickok came from eBay as a single lot. They are not in pristine condition but I was certainly willing to pay the $10 to pick them both up. The Bill Terry was about $14 I think. It's in very nice condition for what it cost. Most of the other baseball pins I found from this set were more costly.  

Now I have always assumed, given that the are generally called 'Cracker Jack' pins, that they were prizes in boxes of Cracker Jack. Well, maybe they were and maybe they were not. Check out these two photos:

Above is a gum wrapper which shows the contents to be the pins and below an advertising piece featuring them and giving the issuing company as being General Gum, Inc. of Chicago.

Wikipedia makes no mention of the 'General Gum Co.' in relation to Cracker Jack. While CJ is always associated with the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and the poster lists Chicago as the gum company's home that may just be happenstance. 

I guess there are a couple of possibilities. This auction house makes the casethat the pins may have never been Cracker Jack prizes at all. Or, given that the gum company was in Chicago, the manufacturer may have licensed/sold the pins to both General Gum and Cracker Jack.

I don't know the actual facts of all this, and I don't really care much. I just like the pins and am happy to have a couple.  The picture below shows two of them along with a U.S. Quarter for perspective. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

"Line Drive" Nelson 1940 Play Ball

A couple of weeks back I posted about Babe Dahlgren and I mentioned that I thought the '39 Play Ball of his that I had was the only one I owned. And I suppose that's true but I did come across a 1940 Play Ball of righty pitcher Lynn 'Line Drive' Nelson that I had gotten off eBay once upon a time. I'd completely forgotten that I had a few of these squirrelled away.

Nelson had a great nickname and was a pretty interesting guy. He was a really good hitter who played some outfield for the Phils in the late 1930s. He was used regularly as a pinch hitter. In fact his hitting numbers are better than his pitching numbers. He hit a career .281 in almost 400 plate appearances. On the hill he ended up 33-42 with a 5.25 ERA over his seven seasons in the majors with the Cubs, A's and briefly the Tigers.

Oh, that nickname. I thought it might have been given him for his hitting prowess. But Bill James states it was because most of what he threw up at the hitter was rocketed back at him. Sounds like poor ol' Charlie Brown.

He also reminds me of my grandfather.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Upper Deck Palmer and Feller Swatches

When I got back into collecting the whole "game used relic/patch/strand of Ruth's hair in a card" thing had pretty much died down. At least I think it had. My hobby knowledge and history is very hazy when it comes to the last two decades. Kevin at Orioles Card 'O' The Day was the first blogger I became acquainted with and he could confirm this. I remember emailing him a couple of summers ago to ask what the heck a 'blaster' was!

But to me in 2010 getting a piece of a jersey that a major leaguer had worn was new and interesting. I've picked up a few along the way. I certainly haven't gone overboard but I enjoy having a swatch/relic (are they the same?) card of a player I admired and rooted for.

Upper Deck made some really nice cards before they lost the ability to issue MLB cards. It's a shame that they no longer part of the deal. These two cards are part of my collection of favorite pitchers. They are both from 2006 and while they have different details they look very much the same in concept and design.

Jim Palmer, of course, is a great favorite of mine, so much so that one of my sons is named for him. I've related some of those stories before so I won't do it again now. I've seen that picture of Palmer before but not to the point that I'm sick of it. I like the Yankee Stadium facade in the background, too. Combine that with a woodgrain patterned card and it was a keeper for me.

The next one is a Bob Feller from the same or a related set. I walked into a Houston area mall many years ago and came across Bob Feller signing autographs on behalf of  one cause or another. I seem to recall that the sigs were free with a charitable donation that got you a Feller 8x10 with the charities logo at the bottom. I kicked in the $5 or so, got my picture but didn't wait in line to get it signed. I think I was in a hurry. That 8x10 is around here someplace.

Bob Feller won 266 games in his career even though he lost nearly four seasons to military service. And those were seasons in the heart of his prime. Consider this.... in the six seasons that bracket his his military service, three years before and three years after, Feller averaged 23.5 wins. That's just flat out ridiculous. Anyway, here's the card:

Again, pretty sweet I think. Feller always seemed to be smiling, at least that's how I remember him. Nice old-timey-feeling gray road uni patch, too.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

1958 All Star Frank Robinson

I'll check in on the All Star Game tonight but I'm not devoted to it like I was as a kid. The World Series home field gimmick doesn't add any allure for me. But there are three players that I'm interested in seeing (besides the four Orioles, of course). I'll get back to them in a bit.

I'm slowly but surely working on my '58 All Star card subset. Since I have the Mantle and Musial my next goal is the Mays. All the others (and need about seven) can be had cheaply, especially since I'm not very condition conscious. The Frank Robinson came my way for just a couple of dollars. There is a chip in the lower right, and its off center but other than that it's very presentable. It looks better in hand than in the scan, thats for sure.

As for Frank, well he had one really great All Star Game, the second of the two held in 1959. In that game he took over at first base for Stan Musial in the fifth inning and went three for three including a homer off Early Wynn.

In 11 total All Star appearances Frank hit .250 with a pair of homers. His second homer came in the 1971 Game at Tiger Stadium. He hit it two batters after the monumental light pole blast off the bat of Reggie Jackson. It made Frank the first player to homer for both leagues in All Star competition.

The three players I mentioned earlier all have a connection to the schools my sons and I have graduated from. And I always follow those schools.

Jesse Crain is a former University of Houston star. He had some up and down seasons with the Twins but has found a home in the White Sox bullpen. He's been putting up some outstanding numbers there. Unfortunately he's on the DL at the moment and won't get to pitch tonite. I was reading that there are a few contending clubs that may be interested in his services. With the trade deadline looming Crain may be headed to his third big league team.

Alex Gordon is a Lincoln, Nebraska native who starred for the hometown Nebraska Cornhuskers. His time there preceeded my son James' by a year but we are definitely fans. My son and his buddies have made several trips down to Kaufmann Stadium to see him play. He had a lot of hype coming to the majors and had a slow start to his career but has put things together now it seems.

Texas State University product Paul Goldschmidt played there for a strong Bobcat program through 2009. My son Brooks is a 2011 graduate and saw him play quite a bit. I got to see him knock a few out of the park against Houston and Rice. This is his third year in the big leagues and his numbers seem to get better every season. 

Hope everyone enjoys the game tonight. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

40 Years (and ten days) Ago

edit: I meant to post this back on the 4th of July but you know how that goes.

On the 4th of July in 1973 a kid went to see the Orioles play the Brewers at Memorial Stadium. His father bought him a program and the young fan scored it. Turned out to be a pretty interesting game. The Brewers cuffed Mike Cuellar around and led 5-0 going into the bottom of the sixth. The Orioles rallied and scored 3 in the sixth and four in the seventh (including a two run homer by Earl Williams) to take a two run lead into the eighth.

'Closer By Committee' members Eddie Watt and Bob Reynolds proceeded to give the lead away and the game was tied going to the bottom of the eighth when the Orioles' suddenly awakened bats continued their onslaught and they scored three more to go up 10-7. The inning was highlighted by a Paul Blair single driving in two. Reynolds managed to hold that lead and got the win.

The fan (and you can tell it's a kid by the handwriting) scored the game using a rather rudimentary system consisting of 'O', 'S', 'D', 'HR', 'SF' and 'SO'. Not very elaborate but I can follow the game with it. I remember using a similar 'system' when I was first scoring games at the ballpark.

The program is 36 pages long including the covers. That's pretty good for .25 even in 1973 terms. There was one feature story, that being the "American League Innovation..." Of course they are referring to the DH. The rule itself is explained on the second page of the feature and a photo layout of potential DHers.

Some thoughts on that photo montage..... I never think of Frank Howard as a Tiger, ever....I love the picture of Frank Robinson in his Orioles duds though he's listed for his new team, the Angels...... the heading above the picture claims that these are "six former NL slugging super-stars who seem ideally suited for the role..." and it goes on to name four as regular DHers and points to Robby and Dick Allen as guys who will DH in the second game of doubleheaders. (For you kids that is when you got to see teams play two games in a day for the price of one ticket.) If i had the time and energy I'd like to scour the BR boxscores to see if and when those two actually fulfilled that role.

The rest of the program is typical of the era (and today as well for the most part). there is a shot of Earl Weaver in his usual pose, pointing out the error of the umpire's ways. And individual shots of what had to have been his always bemused coaches.

Orioles roster page....

A feature on Brooks Robinson above which is an ad for the Purdy Steak Company. The ad trumpets Purdy as the "National Champion of processed portion meat products." That may be the single worst marketing slogan of all time and may explain why the company is long gone.

Not a bad starting rotation:

Food and souvenir prices were listed on one page. Crab cakes went for half a buck. I figure I ate about $100 worth of those babies in my visits to Memorial.

And what would an Orioles' publication be without a Natty Boh ad on the back cover?