Tuesday, September 30, 2014

1970/71 Topps Elgin Baylor

I'm soooo out of touch with basketball. I was watching the local sports segment yesterday and there was a report on the Houston Rockets holding 'Media Day', showing off some new uniform, etc. They had the typical presser with players sitting at a table talking. Dwight Howard, one of the two Rockets I can actually name, was talking about the numerous players that apparently are gone from last year's team. He slowly rattled off about six names. I think he was having trouble remembering all the dudes that have been run out of town or traded. I recognized Jeremy Lin's name.

I was wondering it that's typical of the NBA these days. Do they have that much player movement? They must have some really loose free agent guidelines. But none of that relates directly to this card of a guy I enjoyed watching when I actually was aware of the NBA.

Elgin Baylor was a scoring and rebounding machine. He was on the All-NBA team for 10 straight years, the first ten years of his career. That followed two years at the University of Seattle where he was twice named All-American in the college ranks and was the Final Four MVP. When I think of him it's always of him up in the air, either muscling a rebound or taking that jumper from near the corner.

When this card was issued his Hall of Fame career as a player was about over. If you look at his numbers you'll see that he never led the league in anything but was Top Ten (or more often Top Five) in EVERYTHING. He was just that great. If I had to win one game to save my life I'd want Baylor and Bill Russell playing on my team. After he retired as a player Baylor spent 22 years as general manager of the Los Angeles Clippers.

I'm slowly building the '70/'71 Topps hoops set....odd size, logo-less unis and non-existent team names and all. I'm about a quarter of the way through it.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday Morning Quarterback #31 Greg Landry 1980 Topps

In this ongoing series of posts I am going to feature cards from my fantasy football player collection, specifically the 117 quarterbacks I've had on my team's roster since 1980. I have one selected card for each player in my All-Time Flyers binder. Through the years I've tried to use as many different card varieties as possible while holding on to my preference which is: a card issued in a year I owned the player showing him in the proper team uni in a vertical format. Card availability and my whims have had a big impact on that standard as we will see. 
NFL Info: Greg Landry had a long professional career, mostly with the Detroit Lions from 1968 through 1978. He had a couple of different stretches as starter during that period then moved on to the Colts for a couple of seasons including as the starter in 1979. He finished his playing days with the USFL and a stint with the 1984 Bears.

Fantasy Impact: I had Landry as a reserve briefly in 1981. I picked him up as a 'handcuff' to Bert Jones (although that term wasn't used back then). When I acquired Tommy Kramer for Jones in mid-season my need for Landry was gone, and so was he.

The Card: The 1980 Topps design is about par for that era's Topps football course. Without the official NFL license Topps couldn't use the teams' logos. The name box with the football could have been smaller but there is still plenty of picture expanse on there.  The back isn't the easiest to read but it sure includes a lot of stuff, stats, cartoon, vitals, and a random fact.

I actually like the design but I can't tell you if it's how i see the card or because of the general wave of nostalgia I feel for vintage-y football. Landry looks to be working out pregame in a nearly empty stadium.

Sunday, September 28, 2014


Lots of stuff on my plate at the moment. Weekends have been crazy. But I wanted to take time out to post a couple of neat vintage football cards that I grabbed as "COMC order rounder-outers" a couple of weeks ago (You've done that, right? Added some stuff you were not looking for to justify the $3 shipping. Sure you have).

That's Football Hall of Famer 'Deacon Jones on his 1967 Philly Gum card. You'll see him referred to as 'David' from time to time. But 'Dave'? That's pretty weird to me. But as Dave, David or Deacon he was about as great a defensive lineman as you could ever hope to see. He was part of the Rams' Fearsome Foursome which consisted of Rosey Grier, Lamar Lundy, Merlin Olsen and Jones. They terrorized NFL quarterbacks through the early to mid 60s.

This isn't Philly Gum's most inspired design.

The 1966 Philly Gum Bob Boyd. Here is another guy who I knew as one name but almost always is referred to by another. I always called him Bobby Boyd. 

No matter, he was a standout DB for some great 1960s Baltimore Colts clubs. I used to have a black and white Polaroid picture of Boyd that I took at Colts training camp many years ago. This picture is better, as is the '66 Philly Gum design. This set always tempts me as one I'd like to chase. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Football Cards from Fuji

I've already posted the baseball cards that came in the latest envelope from Fuji, and here are the football cards. They really hit my collecting sweet spot. Vintage Baltimore Colts! 

1974 football is not Topps' most inspired design but I do like the way they incorporated the goal post into it. Marty Domres was at the end of a three year run as a sometimes starter for the Colts. As the successor to Johnny Unitas and Earl Morrall he basically was in a no-win situation. And that's pretty much what he did...not win.

A trio of 1971 Colts. All three of these guys were key contributors to some glorious Colts teams. I don't think I had ever noticed that Topps used different sized fonts on the same team's cards. The All Star cards were done in two colors while the non-All Stars were either red for AFC teams or blue for NFC teams.

Oh, that Bubba Smith picture used on his '71 card? Topps got a lot of mileage out of it. I'll document that at the bottom of the post.

Fuji included this Colts' team checklist from the '74 set. Nice little ad on it promoting the purchase of the complete checklist 'set'. You could get all 26 of them for 30 cents and a pack wrapper. 

The back of the checklist had the rules for the 'game' that could be played with the '74 cards. Each had a play outcome on the reverse. You can see the back of Tom Mitchell's card above. Interesting that the checklist and the regular card were done in two different color schemes. I guess a bit of detective work might be in order if I wasn't so busy.

I've cropped and enlarged the 'rules' for your reading pleasure.

Tom Mitchell was the Colts TE in 1972/73, playing alongside Raymond Chester after inheriting the job from John Mackey. Mitchell led the team in receptions in those years but by the time this card was issued in 1974 he had moved on to the 49ers.

This was a terrific package of cards from Fuji. I appreciate his generosity and great writing.

Oh, those Bubba Smith cards with re-used pics? Here they are as borrowed from the net:

1970 Topps, his rookie card:

1972 Topps All Pro card:

1975 Topps:

 1975 Topps:

1970 Kelloggs' card:

That a lot of Bubbas!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Upper Deck Autographed Frank Robinson

Upper Deck sure had some tasty cards back when they had a licence with MLB. They used great pictures with nice designs in some of those specialty sets. I missed out on a lot of these because I wasn't collecting during the period that they were produced. Greats of the Game sets, Great Teams sets, whatever this is from set, all of them are nice additions to a binder, yes?

I have been trying to expand my Frank Robinson collection lately with cards showing him on the Reds. I may not have been a fan of the team but I sure do like those classic unis. Just beautiful. 

As simple and attractive the front of this card is the reverse is about as crowded as a card can be. My tired old eyes have a lot of trouble reading through the wall of stats, and the write-up in that tiny font? Forget it. 

No matter. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

1955 Robert Gould Billy Pierce card

Back in February I picked up and posted the Billy Pierce 1955 Robert Gould 'Statue' cheap little plastic toy that had been one of the more elusive pieces on my wantlist. At the time I commented that the card with which the toy was issued was even more scarce and expensive. I hadn't seen one for less than $300 (yes, I track stuff like that).

Two weeks ago or so I was looking for a different Pierce item and this card popped up at less than $100. I figured that if was 'now or never' since there was no telling when another example would appear at that price.

The card is in pretty rough shape but it really isn't too much worse than a lot of the much more expensive examples I've looked at. The original packaging seems to have included a rubber band which was used to attach the figure to the card and that pretty much eliminates the possibility of really pristine cards.

Here is a shot of the toy from the original posting back in February.

What little background I have about these is included in that post. Some additional details came up in the comment section.

The card I bought came in this form (sorry for the lousy scan):

I pay no attention to the grading since I have no idea what the numbers mean. The grade of 'Fair' seems mighty generous unless it's given relative to the other examples of this came card. I scanned the thing and then broke it out of the plastic prison.

It's blank-backed for those interested in that sort of thing:

Just for comparison here is one of the $300+ versions that was on eBay and I had saved a picture of:

If mine is 'fair' this one is easily EX+. Would I rather have this one? Hell, yes. Am I ever going to upgrade the one I have now? Sure, I'll do that the day after the Publisher's Clearinghouse folks show up at my door with balloons.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

40 Years Ago Today

On September 24, 1974 one of my favorite non-Orioles players reached a milestone in a way that showed great symmetry (or great something).

Baltimore native and Hall of Famer Al Kaline got his 3,000th hit that night in Baltimore Memorial Stadium off Orioles starter Dave McNally. It was a double into the right field corner for Kaline, the first of two hits he got that night while serving as the Tigers' DH.

The Orioles won the game 5-4 with a bottom of the eight 2-run rally. Reliever Bob Reynolds got the win with two and a third innings of one hit ball. The O's finished the night a half game ahead of the Yankees and won the Eastern Division that year by two games and then lost the AL title to the A's.

Kaline has four cards in the 1959 Topps set. His base card is my favorite:

He is featured on one of the Baseball Thrills subset cards:

A hideously ugly pink and red combo card with Yankee killer and my Dad's least favorite player, Charlie Maxwell:

And a The Sporting News All Star Selection card.

This post is both a tribute to one of the greats of the game and one final plug for $30 a Week Habit's 'best set' tournament. It's a close contest at the moment with this '59 set slightly ahead of the '74 in the finals so your vote may tip the scales one way or another.

In another bit of symmetry here is my 1974 Topps Dave McNally.

Go vote!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Baseball cards from Fuji


I received this terrific group of Orioles in the mail from Fuji over the weekend. He sent even more vintage Colts football cards and I'll get to those soon in another post. But I want to show off these today.

First up is a group of 10 1975 Topps minnniiiiiiiis(©Night Owl, all rights reserved). There are some happy O's in that group! Well, maybe not Bob Oliver but he was an Angel in that shot, airbrushed into Orioles gear. He only spent three weeks with the Birds in September of '74 so his glumness can be excused.

My favorite of the bunch is the Elrod Hendricks. Love the old school 'catcher with no gear except a glove' pose. I don't have many of the '75 minis, even among my Orioles collection. I have the regular '75 team set but other than Brooks Robinson's card and one or two others I've needed to fill out the team. I think I have the Northrup so the rest of these are going to come in real handy. Fuji sent the team card as well.

The rest are new-to-me 90s Orioles. Here is a shiny Mike Mussina. I know I'm supposed to hate the guy but I can't. I'm too old to worry about hating baseball players. I liked watching him pitch as an Oriole and I wasn't following the game by the time he jumped ship to New York so I collect his cards when the come my way.

Sam Horn. I looked and he didn't play for a long as I had thought. Maybe Classic could have made the border on these cards a bit thicker if they tried. Maybe not.

I had memory of Jayson Werth as an Orioles' prospect. Or of him with Toronto or the Dodgers. I was first aware of him on the strong Phils clubs of a few years back.

And then there is Rick Sutcliffe. He won the '84 Cy Young. He was traded to the Cubs in June of '84 from Cleveland. I'm guessing not many of the major award winners through the years have been dealt during that season.

Thanks for the cards, Fuji! I'll have the football cards up later in the week.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday Morning Quarterback #30 Ryan Fitzpatrick 2012 Donruss Elite

In this ongoing series of posts I am going to feature cards from my fantasy football player collection, specifically the 117 quarterbacks I've had on my team's roster since 1980. I have one selected card for each player in my All-Time Flyers binder. Through the years I've tried to use as many different card varieties as possible while holding on to my preference which is: a card issued in a year I owned the player showing him in the proper team uni in a vertical format. Card availability and my whims have had a big impact on that standard as we will see. 
NFL Info: Harvard educated Ryan Fitzpatrick was drafted by the Rams in 2005 but his career didn't get any traction until 2008 when he started a dozen games for the Bengals. He then spent four up and down years piloting the Bills, made nine starts backing up Jake Locker in 2013 in Tennessee and is now the 'hey, don't screw anything up' starter in Houston where is job is mainly to hand off to Arian Foster. The Texans have a video board feature they run during a time-out at NRG Stadium that is entitled "Are you smarter that Ryan Fitzpatrick?" You can guess how it works.

Fantasy Impact: I had Fitzpatrick on my 2010 roster for two weeks in 2010. I used both Joe Flacco and Ben Rothlisberger on my way to a league championship that year. Fitzpatrick was cut to make way for Big Ben early in the season. It was one of my better moves.

The Card: A Donruss/Panini chromified card. Lots of odd, blocky pointless shapes front and back. The info on the back is minimal and routine except for the wonderful nugget that states how fast he completed his Wonderlic test and the fact that he left one answer blank and therefore missed a perfect score! Like Fitzpatrick himself this card is not great but not horrible either.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Al Capone Sez.......

I thought I'd throw in a plug for $30 a Week Habit's Topps set tournament which has reached the finals. The last two sets standing are two of my very favorites, the 1974 and the 1959.

I love the fact that the color scheme of the '74 Orioles cards matches the teams' colors. That's not true for all the teams in the set but the O's are the only one I care about. In binder sheets the O's team set looks very sweet. 

I have a few '74 Orioles scanned from other posts and here they are:

It's really a great design with some fine photo choices. If it wins I'm not going to complain.

But the other contender, the Topps 1959 set, is very close to my heart. I put a lot of blood, sweat and tears, not to mention coin, into building and blogging it over the course of several years. I've mentioned several times previously that the 1958 Topps cards are the first ones I can remember seeing in person. A kid (a girl!) in my neighborhood had a stack of them that summer and all the rest of us little knuckleheads were mesmerized by them. The 1960 is the first set I tried to collect for myself although I had to rely on the generosity of my parents and grandparents for pack purchases so I never came close to finishing it. For sentimental reasons it's still my favorite Topps set.

But 1959 Topps baseball cards were the first ones I ever held in my hand and could say they were mine. And the set is about as fun as a set can be. I discovered so many great stories while researching my posts and I really came to love so many of the cards. Here are a few of my favorites:

Bob Shaw's card reminds me of spending Sunday afternoons with my Dad watching Yankee doubleheaders.

Not only is Willard Schmidt's card just plain gorgeous with the color combo and the black frame but when I posted it I came in contact with several of his family members, one of which, his nephew, has become a friend.

Then there the superstar cards that I value a lot:

The Mickey Mantle, a key to the set obviously. I was happy to get it for $100. I bet I bid on 25 of these while trying to get a decent example within my budget before I won this one.

The Bob Gibson rookie card which is one of, if not the only, '59 Topps that has survived from coming straight out of a pack into my grubby hands in 1959. And it looks it.

So get on over to Robert's blog and cast your vote for your preference. He's going to put together the set that wins. I won't try to influence you either way other than to note that I can give him a nice boost if the '59 wins. Just sayin'.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Another Billy Pierce Postcard

Right on top of finding that JD McCarthy Pierce postcard I refined my Pierce searches and was able to uncover this on eBay. The listing showed only the front and while the seller called it a 'postcard' I had some doubts. I have seen that photo before and I didn't want to be buying just a 3x5 photo. But a message to the seller produced the info I had hoped for and a shot of the back which you can see here.

I jumped on the B-I-N and am pretty happy to have gone from zero Pierce postcards to two in less than a week. There isn't much of anything on the back of this other than the usual stamp box and such. It looks pretty generic. I suppose there is the possibility of it having been manufactured after Pierce's career. But I've looked at lots and lots of postcards in my time and while I am far from being a qualified 'expert' in things like this, I find the overall look and feel of the card to be vintage.

Either way it's a nice addition to the Pierce binder.