Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Murray Christmas to all!

Eddie and I hope your holidays are badass!

And to help you along the way here is a Murray blizzard.

Donruss All Star stand-up from 1986(?)

Oversized '86 Donruss

'88 mini Murray

1981 Drake's Cakes

1981 Squirt

1981 Topps... getting into the spirit now

1986 True Value

2005 UD Pastime Pennants

1983 Topps

And finally the most Murray card of them all....the 1979 Topps. His rookie card. If I had a buck for every time I've posted this I'd be retired now.

May your day be Murray and bright!!

Friday, December 18, 2015

1963 Fleer Checklist

The last card I needed for my 1963 Fleer set was the most elusive of the 67 cards. The checklist was substituted for Joe Adcock's card in some of the print runs and therefore both can be considered SPs. But of course kids tended to mark the checklist so finding one in 'collectible' condition can be problematic.

I'm not sure how many of these I looked at and almost snapped up at prices of close to $100 and above. And there are a lot around in the $60-$75 range that I could have lived with. But I was resigned to paying the price for one that wasn't really beaten up. I searched eBay and COMC every day once I decided to finish this cool little set.

Finally this one popped up on COMC. Looks like a couple of boxes were marked at one time but overall, with nice colors, good corners and barely a mark it was a steal at ~$50.

I don't know why I don't exercise the same kind of patience in all my hobby endeavours. But I'm glad I did this time because it paid off very well.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Odds and Ends

A big thick envelope arrived in the mail awhile back. It wasn't from a blogger but it did contain (among other things) a card. That's it up top and it depicts Joe Stephens, former NBA player who happens to be running as a candidate for Justice of the Peace out here in the boondocks east of Houston. The envelope was chock full of has campaign material and it turns out he is hoping to replace the current (and retiring) JP. That judge is a neat guy who plays golf every afternoon at my course as soon as he clears his docket. Now that he's hanging up his gavel I suppose I'll see him out at the course in the mornings as well.

I don't have anything of interest on Joe Stephens. I remember his name from his days as a high school star locally and from when he played for the Rockets. Looks to be a nice family oriented guy. I hope he wins.

The next card is one of those things that an eBay dealer included as an extra card mainly to protect the card he was sending.
I wasn't aware that Fleer did a 2001 Red Sox 100th set. I bet I know two guys who know all about it! (Looking at you, Mark and Shane). Joe Cronin played a good long time and since the numbers on the back were nearly unreadable I'm posting the backside in jumbo form.

Finally here is a Warren Spahn from a 2003 Upper Deck set. I was cruising COMC and padding my order to justify the shipping charge when I found this. I'm always up for a Spahn, even one that features a sepia pic and only lists the last five years of his career. Why not add a few more tidbits and his career totals? Oh well, I still like the card overall.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

It's Good To Have Friends

Mike McKay from Chicago is a regular reader and frequent contributor to my collection. His latest package came in a couple of weeks ago. As usual he sent me a spare signed card from one of his latest TTM successes. Hall of Famer and Baltimore Colt star Ray Berry has had a reputation of being very fan friendly. Mike sent me a Swell Gum Berry that I didn't have in my collection. It finds a good home in my Colts binder.

Thinking about how good Ray Berry has been with fan requests reminds me of how lucky I was to be a Colts fan. They were such a community oriented club back in the day and players like Berry, Gino Marchetti, Lenny Moore and John Mackey all valued their relationship with the fans. When my Uncle in Baltimore talked to me about the Colts I always got the impression he was talking about family. That was cool.

Next up we have one of two custom cards that Mike sent of the legendary Steve Dalkowski. If you've never heard of Dalkowski I can only urge you to read this Hardball Times article about the Orioles' prospect (suspect) who is acknowledged by many to be the hardest (and wildest) thrower in the history of the game. Trust me it's a wonderful read even if you are familiar with the Dalkowski story. The article contains a blurb from Pat Jordan's Suitors of Spring that's worth the click, trust me.

For more amusement check out his Baseball Reference page. And note his first season as a professional. With Kingsport of the Appalachian League (D level Orioles club) he pitched 62 innings, struck out 121 hitters, walked 128 and compiled an ERA of 8.13 and had a WHIP of 2.43 while uncorking 29 wild pitches. He only gave up one homer which likely confirms the fact that it's hard to hit the ball deep when take your stance with your ass still in the on deck circle.

Here is a 2015 Topps Series Two of Cal Ripken. He recently accepted a job as adviser to the Commissioner on Youth Baseball. It's hard to believe Cal is now 55 years old. 

The best of the other things Mike included was this Memorial Stadium postcard. I can never get enough of the grand old place. Lots of memories there. This was the scene of my first 'blind date'. I'll have to tell that story sometime. It never came to anything but we've been friends and I'm still in touch with her from time to time. So much for that off the wall tangent.

Thanks again Mike. You generosity is very much appreciated. Keep your calendar open for June and maybe I can buy you a brew when I get up there to Chicago.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

'63 Fleer Roberto Clemente

I was lucky enough to see Roberto Clemente play. He made two of the most ridiculous plays I've ever witnessed. One came in the very first game I saw in the Astrodome, July of 1967. Rusty Staub singled and when a subsequent Astro singled to right Clemente made a throw that reached third on a line and froze Rusty Staub who had to stop at second. Doesn't sound like a big deal but the throw just stunned the crowd.

A couple of years later he climbed the fence along the first base line as me made a catch in Bob Moose's no-hitter at Shea in September of 1969. I'd be surprised if that one isn't on YouTube somewhere.

Here is his 1963 Fleer card, the last of the regular cards I picked up in this set. I've since added the Checklist and I'll post that and a few others in the near future.

This may be my favorite Clemente card. The back reminds me that he was originally in the Dodger system. Sorry to bring that up Dodger fans but oh, what might have been.

Friday, December 4, 2015

'61 All Stars....Done

I've been off the grid for a week or so. Attending to real world things can be hard.

But while that was going on some 'stuff' came in the mail and I'll try to post it over the next week or so. First up, the last two cards from Topps' 1961 MVP subset. Yogi Berra's card was one of the more costly of the bunch and I bid on more than a few before I picked this one up. I like how the photo is cropped so that his jersey sort of resembles the point of home plate at the bottom. I'm sure that was unintentional but it's sort of cool nonetheless.

Yogi's recent passing brought him into the news quite a bit and a lot of the stories centered around his personality and his always quotable tongue. But he won THREE MVP awards in the '50s. Here is a portion of Yogi's page on the Hall of Fame's website:

In addition to his colorful persona, what made Yogi so great was that he was one of the most feared hitters the game had ever seen. Teammate Hector Lopez said “Yogi had the fastest bat I ever saw. He could hit a ball late, that was already past him, and take it out of the park. The pitchers were afraid of him because he'd hit anything, so they didn't know what to throw. Yogi had them psyched out and he wasn't even trying to psych them out”. What was even more amazing was that when he donned the “tools of ignorance”, he had a reputation as being one of the best in the business behind the plate as well, as his manager Casey Stengel praised “Why has our pitching been so great? Our catcher that's why. He looks cumbersome but he's quick as a cat”.

When I picked up the Berra card I thought the subset was complete. But I soon realized that I had crossed Phil Rizzuto off the checklist but his card was missing from the binder. I was 99.9999% sure that I had bought one early on in my pursuit of the set but I sure couldn't find it. I went thru every box I could lay my hands on and then remembered that checking my purchase histories on various sites was a lot easier than shuffling thru stacks of cards. No Rizzuto purchases appeared so I wrote it off to loss of brain cells and picked one up cheap on COMC.

I never saw Rizzuto play but his prime was right in my Dad's wheelhouse as a fan and he was always talking Rizzuto up. I knew him as the Yankees' broadcaster and I always enjoyed him. He had a lot of stories and sometimes the game we were watching took a back seat to some tale of a Joe DiMaggio hit or something.

He played eleven full seasons as the Yankee shortstop. Prior to a three year service hitch during WWII he hit .304 and .284 in two seasons the Bronx. When he returned his only year to hit above .275 was his MVP year of 1950 when he hit .324 with a .418 OBP. That's sixty points above his career batting average.

With the '61 MVP subset done I'm in the market for another goal but I may wait until I clean up the 1960 set. I'm nearing the end of that one.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Best Binder Page

Last week Junior Junkie posted his "Best Binder Page" which consisted of the nine 'best' cards in his collection. He selected cards he's take with him to a desert island. His cards, not surprisingly, were all Ken Griffey Jr cards...and some beauties are on that page for sure. He issued a challenge to fellow bloggers to do the same and several have done so. I liked the idea and figured 'why not?' Seemed easy. Take my nine favorite cards and scan them as they sat in a nine pocket sheet.

Well, not so fast. As I started pulling out binders I found that choosing nine cards was next to impossible. I had a stack of about 25 I thought would belong on my list of 'favorite' cards and I hadn't even gotten to my box of slabbed cards. At first I thought I'd follow JJ's lead and select nine Brooks Robinson cards, or Billy Pierce cards, maybe nine John Unitas cards. But in the end I decided that I had to have my best binder page reflect my wider interests. And I realized that I had to make my own guidelines. So I did.

My Best Binder page would contain:
1) Non-slabbed cards. I decided to take the 'binder page' term literally. I know JJ didn't stick to that but I just wanted to scan a page in one piece. That left out a couple of worthy cards which I'll mention later.
2) Only 'Big 4' sports cards. I collect all kinds of off-the-wall stuff but most folks are not interested in my actresses, Japanese menko or George Jones/Merle Haggard cards so I left them out. I decided that the page would reflect a cross-section of my mainstream interests.

As it turned out I scanned my 'Best Binder Page' about a dozen times. I kept looking at it and thinking that there was a card that I had excluded that needed to be in it. I finally said 'enough!'. And the result is the page at the top.

I'll add a few words about each card below.

Brooks Robinson's rookie card from 1957 was the first 'big ticket' card I ever bought. And it's my favorite player's rookie card. It's the first card that went into the page.

The 1978 Murray rookie may be my favorite card of all time. It's certainly my favorite card of the 'modern' card era.

T206 Christy Mathewson speaks for itself. It's the coolest card I own. If I was only allowed to keep one card I think this would be it.

I was a huge fan of John Mackey. I've written previously: "[He] redefined his position and was a pioneer in the rights of the oft forgotten former players in his job as NFLPA president. Sadly his work kept him from induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame due to politics. On top of that he was a wonderful guy, great to fans. I got to see him interact with the public at a memorabilia show many years ago and he was personable and gracious." And this card comes from the terrific 1964 Philly Gum set. Special player, special card.

I couldn't leave out Billy Pierce. It was hard figuring out which card to include but this one comes from the very first card set I held in my hands, the '58 Topps. Truth be told my favorite Pierce items are not regular cards but rather some of the oddballs and specials I have, his Dormand postcard for example.

But I like the '58 Topps set more than most do. Nostalgia plays a part I'm sure. It's colorful...and this Pierce has the great 'flying sox' logo going for it. I'd have put the yellow letter variation here for added spice but I couldn't lay my hands on it immediately.

This is the only card that survived from my childhood collection, at least the only baseball card. '59 Gibson, as battered as it may be, is the centerpiece of my 1959 Topps set. Hey, it's Bob Gibson....on a pink card!

Love this 1961 Fleer Lenny Moore card. Probably my favorite football card. The Memorial Stadium scoreboard, the crowd, Moore's pose and the Colts' logo add up to something much greater than the sum of it's parts.

This Mantle from the '58 All Star subset was on my want list for years and years. I finally found one I could afford in decent shape and grabbed it. That got me to chasing the rest of that group of '58s and really got me going after more vintage subsets. It's been a lot of fun.

The 1961 Topps Wes Covington may be a common on the checklist but there is nothing 'common' about it. You can find this all over the card selling sites for a buck and change. That shows you how few folks appreciate art at it's finest.

And that's my Best Binder Page. I'll have to do a follow-up post on the cards sitting on my desk at the moment that I considered and left out. Any of them could have very easily nabbed a slot.

This nine pocket might be more significant for what I didn't include than for what I did. No Jim Palmer? I named one of my son's Jim Palmer so how could I leave him out. I dunno. I also left off my Johnny Unitas rookie card. It's in a slab and I have never gotten around to freeing it.

There were a bunch of other cards that could have easily made the page like Cal Ripken's rookie or maybe his minor league Rochester Red Wings card. It was hard to leave out one of my Jim Brown cards and I had a couple of Gordie Howe cards in the stack of 'semi-finalists but my best Howe card is slabbed. Same for my pretty Gale Sayers card. I'm looking at several Eddie Giacomin cards as I type and wondering how I can leave out my beloved Eddie! Again, I dunno.

And so it goes. Like most of the other bloggers who took on this challenge said or implied...."Ask me tomorrow and you might get a different group of nine cards".

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bobbles For Charity

Last week I attended a performance by the Spirit of Houston, the University of Houston Marching Band. Proceeds went to the band's scholarship fund. A silent auction was held in conjunction with the show and lots of UH sports memorabilia was up for bid.

I won a couple of lots and my favorite was this group of three UH related bobbleheads. The Guy Lewis is a dupe and this one will end up with a friend but the other two were new to me. Jim Nantz is a UH alum and he does a lot for the school. He joins Vin Scully and Chuck Thompson in a group of three broadcaster bobbleheads I own. Not too exciting but all three are among my favorite media types so that's pretty cool.

The one I really wanted was this guy, The Big E, Elvin Hayes.

The base is signed.

Hayes does Cougar hoops radio broadcasts so he's around the school a lot these days, and that's a good thing.

I recently had to install a couple additional shelves to accommodate more of my display items as I pull them out of boxes.

More shelves coming soon.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Jeff Gordon Retires Today (if the rain stops!)

Not much blogosphere interest in NASCAR outside of Raz and a couple of others but I've followed the sport for about 30 years. I'm not as big a fan as I used to be but I still track a couple of drivers including my favorite, Jeff Gordon.

If the rain stops today in Miami Gordon will attempt to go out with a bang as he tries to win his fifth NASCAR championship in his final race before retirement. 

Here are a handful of my not-too-substantial Gordon collection. 

When it comes to racing I've always been more interested in items other than cards. Like this signed 8x10. I used to join drivers' fan clubs (it's a racing thing) and things like this came along in the fan pack package.

With Gordon retiring and my other favorite, Tony Stewart, stepping out after next season I can see my days as a NASCAR fan waning even more.

In the meantime I will be watching Gordon with his hands up on the wheel today (hopefully) and maybe he'll pull off what will surely be a very emotional title run.


Gordon finished third among the championship contenders, sixth overall today. He jumped out front early and had some fans pumped up but after about the 1/3 mark of the race he wasn't really a threat. Not the way I'd have scripted it but that's racing. Next stop for JG, the NASCAR Hall of Fame.