Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dallas Doings

Well, the trip to Dallas to see the Rangers turned out well, despite the wrong team winning. My sons and I had a great time. The seats were in the fifth row, pretty much perfect and something every NHL fan should experience sometime. You really get a feel for the game when you are that close to the glass.

The arena up there is nice, nothing spectacular but it's well maintained and attractive. Nothing can match Madison Square Garden or the United Center in my hockey experiences but we enjoyed it. Sadly (or not, depending on your outlook) the game itself isn't enough anymore. There needs to be three(!) timeouts per period so that the 'Ice Girls' can skate around with shovels to pick up the ice shavings. Really? Three timeouts per period? And of course you need a mascot, contests and blaring music to set the mood. Oh well, times change.

One nice surprise was that when we entered the arena every fan was offered a Dallas Stars yearbook and a game program, free gratis-like. How cool is that? I saw that about half of those coming in passed them up but to a publications guy like me it was a very nice 'gift'.

There were plenty of Rangers fans on hand and we made our presence felt, especially in whatever bar that was we were in for the hour or so prior to the game. Too bad we couldn't push the right team to a win.

On Tuesday we visited the George W Bush Library and Museum on the SMU campus.

Putting politics aside it was a fun experience. They pack a lot of 'stuff' into each and every inch of the place. It's much more crowded than the LBJ Library in Austin or the Bush Senior one in College Station. As befits a newer presidential library there is an almost overwhelming multimedia and interactive aspect to the place. Lots of videos, several different small theaters, and a lot of  'touch' screens all over. As you would expect the 9-11 section was both the most crowded and most somber place in the library. It is very well done, respectful and informative.

The only disappointing aspect of the Bush Library is the lack of 'campaign' pins and memorabilia available in the store. They had a couple of exhibits of campaign gear in the hall and a very neat section devoted to the Bush-Gore 'battle of the hanging chads' election which gave me hope the store would be interesting. I'm used to finding new and different campaign stuff for sale at the LBJ Library on every visit but there was noting to be found yesterday. I did buy one item, a pin for my presidential seal display.

I'm an 'LBJ guy' and visit that library as often as possible but W's new place is worth a visit if you are in the area.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

1970 Kelloggs Baltimore Colts

I've got plenty of Kelloggs baseball cards. Probably have every Orioles player that Kelloggs issued but these are my first Kelloggs football cards. I'm not even sure I was fully aware of the fact that Kelloggs made football cards available at all.I know I never picked up any in a cereal box.

The '70 baseball versions were the first 3-D cards for Kelloggs and the football versions are very similar. The set consisted of 60 cards. They were found in cereal boxes AND available through a mail-in offer. John Mackey, John Unitas, Bubba Smith and Tom Matte are the Colts in the set. I picked them up in one transaction recently and they are in generally good shape. They are all curled as you would expect, Kelloggs cards of that vintage all seem to do that. Only the the Unitas card has the usual Kelloggs cracking although they are not as noticeable in hand as they are in the scan. The Matte and Smith cards each have a tiny crack on the upper left only. The corners are sharp.

The cards have a nice write-up on the reverse and a very limited stat summary. They also add a listing of the player's 'Pro honors' i.e. All Pro, All NFL, etc. That's a nice touch. There are no team logos and the copyright credits the NFLPA.  I'm not sure about the Matte card but Unitas and Mackey are shown against a background that is Los Angeles' Memorial Coliseum.

Here are the rest of the Colts:

The Matte card may be my favorite of this set since it's not a picture I've seen before.

This Bubba Smith shot proves that Kelloggs got their pictures from Topps.

Kelloggs' football cards returned in 1971 as another 60 card set. Only Johnny Unitas is a carryover player from the '70 set. In fact only five players total from the 1970 sets were repeated in 1971. And the '71 cards are scarcer due to the fact that they were not available through the mail, only in cereal boxes. I had bought a '71 Mike Curtis card from an online dealer but the dealer refunded my money because they discovered the card was too severely cracked.

So the hunt for the '71 Kelloggs Colts continues.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Let's Go Rangers!!!

Tomorrow morning I'm taking my two sons away from their fiancees and heading up to Dallas to watch the Rangers play the Dallas Stars. Only one of my boys has ever seen an NHL game live and neither has ever seen the Rangers.

I took my wife to a Rangers-Stars game a couple of seasons back and the Blueshirts won in overtime. I'm hoping for a similar result this time. They've now won 8 straight, I hope I'm not jinxing them. If the Rangers win I won't even care if the video board makes fun of me and my vintage Rangers' sweater.

The cards I've posted here are part of a much larger stack sent by Joe Shlabotnik. I'll have a bunch more to say about that box soon but in brief it had an interesting trip and contained a boatload of fine vintage football, hockey and miscellaneous other things.

Joe helped me knock out at least two years of Topps Baltimore Colts and I was able to upgrade quite a few more. More on that soon enough but today I have scanned Rangers from four different Topps sets.

As happened with baseball for at least a decade after the '94 lockout/strike I was out of touch with hockey for quite awhile. But the reasons were quite different. Moving down to Houston for good in 1970 took me away from the NHL. Trying to follow the Rangers was difficult with the nearly non-existent coverage NHL hockey received locally. I kept my subscription to The Hockey News for a year or two but many of the Rangers of the 70's and 80's are just names in the media guides. I turned into a Houston Aeros fan and that kept the hockey flame alive for me.

I saw a few Rangers games on TV and I knew the goalies and the stars but the day-to-day stuff was all lost to me. And my hockey collection pretty much reflects this. These four cards are among the first I have from any of these sets.

Each of these sets has the elements I like in card design. The colors ore those of the team and the team logo is shown. And how about the mask John Davidson is wearing in that second card of his? That sure takes you back.

Thanks again, Joe S. I'm certainly glad the box made it (though it was looking bleak for awhile) and I appreciate your thoughtfulness and help in knocking out some Colts cards.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Manny's Baseball Land 8x10 Orioles

I couldn't pass these up when I came across them on eBay a few weeks ago. For about $6 each I won these 8 x 10s from Manny's Baseball Land, the iconic store that was on Jerome Avenue across from the old Yankee Stadium for many years. See this previous post for more on Manny's.

One of the fun things about these is doing the detective work to date them. The Pappas above is the only one of the three with enough background visuals to even attempt that. The two Orioles on the field to the right of Pappas I believe are Walt Dropo and Gene Woodling. I'm more confident of Dropo that Woodling but it appears that the numbers work (14 & 17) so I'll go with that. Pappas, Dropo and Woodling played together on the O's in 1959 and 1960. The guy over on the left signing for fans along the railing sure looks like Paul Blair but Blair was only 16 in 1960. I blew the shot up as large as I could and I just feel like he is a black player wearing a single digit number so if that holds true it's either Bob Boyd or Valmy Thomas.

Not that it matters, or that anyone besides me cares. LOL

In the one below Jack Fisher is posing in Yankee Stadium.That's all I know for sure. When he was a rising start for the Orioles in the early 60s we all thought Fat Jack was going to be the staff ace soon and for a long time. His career derailed in 1962 and he never had an above .500 record as be banged around for the rest of the decade. I saw him pitch  for the Mets a few times at Shea Stadium. I never rooted for the Mets but it was hard to root against him.

And this one of Brooks Robinson makes him look to be a rookie doesn't it? The Orioles switched to the orange brimmed caps in 1958 so this shot of him wearing the all black cap dates back to 1957 at the latest.

Good ol' Manny's Baseball Land. Great memories of my Dad buying me a yearbook or pennant as the subway rumbled overhead and we got ready to head into the big ballpark.

Friday, December 26, 2014

1969 Glendale Stamps Baltimore Colts

The 1969 Glendale Stamps Baltimore Colts set falls under the heading of "Cheap vintage Colts stuff I'm OK with buying". The album was published by Glendale Publishers, Inc. of New York City. There were a dozen stamps made for each of the then 26 NFL teams for a total of 312. 

these are about the size of the stickers Topps put out to be placed in albums in the 80s. It's an unlicensed product so there are no team logos to be found. You can see each of the stamps here and there is more info here. As the bloggers notes these are listed as a 1969 issue, that being the copyright date but the album (see below) has 1970 splashed across the front. Probably an attempt to give the set a longer shelf life.

The stamps came on a sheet meant to be cut apart and placed in the album using the little glue strip across the top. There is an album with the complete intact stamp set on eBay for above $300 but the empty album goes for about $15. I found the Colts' stamps from an online seller for about $12.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

1970 Topps Super Colts

Joe over at the Schlabotnik Report picked up a nice stash of the 1970 Topps Super football cards recently and blogged about them a couple of weeks back so I'll spare you a repeat of the details but these are really pretty neat items. I have always been aware of the baseball versions of these but the football ones were unknown to me until a few years back. I hadn't pursued them until I decided to collect the Baltimore Colts cards from their tenure in Baltimore.

I will not attempt to collect every single insert and oddball card or set out there. That's just silly (there is a Topps test issue Unitas tattoo that cost more than my car). But the affordable and interesting ones are going to be in my sights.

My copy of the Unitas is a bit rough but I wanted to buy cheap and that's what I did. It's still nice enough to add to my binder. As Joe pointed out the reverse side of the card is identical to the regular Topps 1970 backs except for the card number.

Tom Matte came to me at the last card show I attended and he was essentially a throw-in on a stack of Colts cards I had selected. Again he is 'much loved' but I can't complain about the price.

Matte and Johnny U. are the only Colts in the set. The Supers, btw, are sometimes confused with another 1970 Topps special set, the Super Glossy inserts. I have the Unitas and posted that one a couple of years ago.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Even I'm tired of this card!

Look! It's another by-gawd Topps Heritage version of the 1964 Billy Pierce card! This version had a blue sig, is unnumbered and has a Topps Certified 'tagline' printed below the photo.I swear this is my last one. I was thinking it might be fun to have one full page containing the '64 card and the many variations of it but I don't think there are quite enough of them available and I'm spending my money in other ways now anyway.

Just to make sure this post has something new and different in it I'm posting a photo sent to me just this week of the Billy Pierce tribute that is shown on the outfield wall at Comiskey Park. It comes from my "Chicago Insider" Mike McKay. Thank you Mike, for the photo and the holiday wishes. My best to you and yours, and many thanks!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Monday Morning Quarterback #43 Steve Walsh 1995 NFL Experience

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:  Jimmy Johnson coached Steve Walsh at the University of Miami for a couple of seasons and then drafted him for the Cowboys in 1989. That was the same year the Cowboys drafted Troy Aikman so you know how that worked out for Walsh. He was traded to the Saints a few weeks into the 1990 season and started 11 games for them that year and seven the next. He was dealt to the Bears in 1994 and was their primary starter that season. He bounced around the NFL for another five years and then retired to coach high school ball in Florida. His record as a starter was 20-18. Walsh is the uncle of New York Ranger defenseman and captain Ryan McDonagh.

Fantasy Impact: Steve Walsh sat on my bench during both the '94 and '99 seasons. He was backing up my teams' backup Erik Kramer in Chicago in '94 and backing up my teams' starter, Peyton Manning of the Colts in '99. I never used him.

The Card: The copyright line on the back of the card says 1994 but this card is considered part of the 100 card 1995 Classic set. The bio reads as if the card was issued late in the 1994 season...("Through 11 weeks....") so it appears to be a set that came out at the tail end of the '94 season. A bit of research might uncover the truth but I'm not interested enough to dig into it.

The card itself isn't awful but neither is it attractive. I like that the color scheme echos the Bears colors and the fact that there are two different pictures used front and back. The back is among the least informative cards I've come across. No stats at all and nothing in the way of info at all other than the one paragraph blurb. If the card was, as it seems to be, issued late in the season I guess I can understand the lack of a stat line or lines.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Two Killer B's

In a few weeks the Hall of Fame (or the BBWA I suppose) will announce the 2015 Hall inductees. It'll be amazing to me if there are none as was the case last year. With all the politics that are involved in balloting like this I generally tend to not pay a lot of attention. The Football Hall kept John Mackey out for many, many years due to his activity as leader of the Players Union. Guy Lewis was victimized by mis-conceptions and prejudice and only last year was inducted into the Basketball Hall, many years after coaches with inferior records were accepted (I'm looking at you, John Chaney).

But putting that aside there are a couple of former Astros who have a shot and who I'd like to see elected, if for no other reason than to ease the pain of my sons, both frustrated Astros fans.

Craig Biggio barely missed last tear and everything I read says he'll get in this year.

Jeff Bagwell is another story. He has the numbers. By almost any measure he belongs. Not to disparage Hall of Famer (deservedly so) Tony Perez but Bagwell has better career stats. But Bagwell has that PED cloud although as far as I know it's just speculation.

My belief is that you can't exclude someone on mere rumors. I think Bagwell belongs.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Alex Sandusky signature and cards

This homebrewed signed Alex Sandusky card came my way through the generosity of Mike McKay, a friend I've made through this blog. Mike has hooked me up before.

Alex Sandusky, one of four NFL players to attend Clarion made a living by protecting Baltimore Colts' qb Johnny Unitas and opening holes for Lenny Moore and Alan Ameche among others. Old time Colts fans like me have always appreciated him. He played in the shadow of some truly great players including Hall of Famer Jim Parker and never got the accolades he was due. But he has two Championship rings and a good life in retirement. BTW... he is not related to disgraced coach Jerry Sandusky.

I recently picked up several Sandusky cards for my Baltimore Colts collection.

1962 Post Cereal. There are 15 Baltimore Colts in that set which makes it one of the largest group of Colts cards of the era. Only the 1959 Topps Colts (16) outnumber the Post Cereal Colts among cards from the 50s and 60s. I'm lacking six out of those 15.

Here are a couple of  1960s wax pack issues. These two just scream 60s football.

First up is the 1963 Topps. Does anyone remember that red film sheet that you placed over the cartoon to reveal the answer to the question? (EDIT: I wonder if any of those survived. I'd check eBay but it's blocked here at work.)

1964 Philly Gum card. People are probably sick of hearing how much I like this set. But I do. 

Thanks Mike. The Sandusky sig is neat and especially so since it came from a friend who is so generous. It's now part of my custom cover for my Baltimore Colts binder.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Bazooka Cards

A couple of 1971 Bazooka cards that came from my oddball box. Topps made these obviously and used a very familiar picture for the Brooks Robinson card. I've seen the McNally shot as well.

These were the standard sized Bazooka offerings through the 60s and 70s. I would really love to have one of the full box sized cards that they made in 1959, the Billy Pierce in particular.

 Courtesy of eBay here is a complete '71 box with Randy Hundley, Willie Mays and Catfish Hunter featured.

Oh, and if you are looking to get me a Christmas gift you could do worse than this 1965 box with three of my favorite players on the back. Hard to beat a Robinson-Koufax-Colavito trio of cards!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

I'm Hungry

So lets have some Hostess cards from the closet box of oddball 'stuff'. 

Here is a 1975 Brooks Robinson. Obvious spring training photo session with the shadows of Brooks, the photographer and the support crew visible.

Jim Palmer's card from that 1975 set was shot in Yankee Stadium.

A trio of 1976 Hostess cards. Mike Torrez pitched for 18 seasons and won 20 games once... as a member of the '75 Orioles, his only year in Charm City. By the time this card was cut from a box of Ding Dongs he was pitching in Oakland courtesy of the Reggie Jackson trade.

Here's Brooks again in a spring training shot. That's Miami Stadium's curved roof behind him.

 Don Baylor was on the same April flight to Oakland as Mike Torrez since they both were part of the Reggie trade. It's surprising to me to look back at Baylor's numbers as an Oriole and see that he hit only 57 homers for them. He had 25 in 1975.

Finally this is the 1978 Jim Palmer. '78 was Palmers last 20 win season. He was coming off a second place in the Cy Young balloting after having won the award three of the previous four seasons. He was headed for the back side of his terrific career but wasn't done quite yet. In 1982 he pitched well enough to finish 2nd in the Cy Young voting.