Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Presidents and Junk Wax

Collecting Presidential memorabilia is an expensive hobby for the most part. That's why I confine myself to inexpensive campaign pins, Presidential cards from Topps and other companies and assorted trinkets.

When I saw that Archives had a Presidential Chronicles subset I figured I could find it cheap and I did. It's only 10 cards total but several of those ten are targets in my collection, such as it is.

The JFK and Nixon cards are my favorites of the set. I really feel the pictures Topps chose for these two cards capture the essence of each of them. Kennedy, the charismatic orator, Nixon the thoughtful brooder.

The other cards in the set are Truman, the two Bushes, Jimmy Carter.....

...Hoover, Lincoln (how I wish I could afford some actual Lincoln memorabilia!), Ford and President Obama. The last two are very well represented in my collection.

The back of each card has a one paragraph blurb. You can't call it a 'bio'.

The Kennedy card uses a picture from his speech at Rice University in September of 1962. That day he proposed a large budget for NASA in hopes of having them put a man on the moon. Here's the original photo from Google Images. Looks like it was a beautiful day at Rice Stadium. I've seen many games there and that place hasn't changed a bit in 50 years.

And the Junk Wax I mentioned in the title? The seller used eight 90's era baseball and hoops cards to fill out the thick toploader. I'm sure every one of us has gotten cards orders thru the mail that included extras that the seller used to protect the 'goods'. I've never had this many cards as a 'bonus'. These are the six 'best' cards of the bunch. The Frank Thomas and Karl Malone cards are probably worth a nickel apiece but hey, a Hall of Famer's card is a Hall of Famer's card!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Orioles' Franchise Four...ummm Five

I'm sure quite a few of you voted in your team's Franchise Four online poll. MLB's latest way of capturing your email address was too good for me to pass up, almost.

Each franchise had a list of eight candidates, the Orioles were:

Paul Blair
Dave McNally
Eddie Murray
Jim Palmer
Boog Powell
Cal Ripken Jr.
Brooks Robinson
Frank Robinson

Those in bold were the winners of the online voting. And they are hard to argue with. Each is obviously deserving of the honor. But there was enough wiggle room that my sons and I had a lively debate at Minute Maid Park watching the Astros one night before the All Star break. 

In my mind Brooks Robinson and Jim Palmer are automatic. Brooks is Baltimore baseball and Palmer is the best pitcher the team has ever had, one of the game's greats. That leaves six. Paul Blair, Boog Powell and Dave McNally all had fine careers while wearing Orioles unis but it's not hard to push them to the second tier of Orioles greats. And we'll leave out the fact that you could have swapped in Mike Mussina for McNally and maybe Brady Anderson for Blair and the whole discussion won't change much.

So we are left with three stars and two slots. In the interest of harmony Cal Ripken Jr. gets one of the two remaining spots. I tried to make a case for putting Murray and Frank in ahead of Cal but I couldn't convince myself, much less my boys who grew up watching him. You can throw numbers and rings, personality and charisma around all day but in the end he's Cal Ripken. 

So we are now down to Eddie Murray and Frank Robinson. Both belong. In my eyes Eddie was the Orioles MVP through the 80s. When we needed a hit, a run, a spark there was nobody I wanted to see stepping out of the dugout with a bat than Eddie. He's a franchise cornerstone.

And then there is Frank Robinson. The trade that was made to bring him to Baltimore in December of 1965 changed to team forever, and I think in many ways, the city as well. Everyone loved Brooks but Frank Robinson was the unquestioned leader of those O's clubs. 

In the end I simply couldn't decide. There was no way I could leave one of those five off my ballot. So I did what most red-blooded Americans do when it comes to elections. I didn't vote

But the whole Franchise Four deal gives me an excuse to show some of my favorite cards of the guys who were voted into the group.

At the top is the 1981 TCMA Cal Ripken Jr. card. I lucked out when I bought this set when it was issued. I got one dupe in the set and it was this card. I periodically check prises on eBay to see what they are going for. The window for me making a killing on this card has long been closed. I'll just keep them both.

The 1960 Leaf card is probably the only one of Brooks Robinson that lists him as as 'Infielder' rather than 'Third Baseman'. It's another quirk in this set. Ken Boyer is listed the same was yet Luis Aparicio is a 'Shortstop' and Sparky Anderson is a 'Second Baseman'.  Some sort of positional bias was at work. But nonetheless it's an interesting set. Definitely one that's 'greater than the sum of it's parts'. The cards are all portraits in black and white and individually they are pretty much the same. But a page of them has a certain charm. I have about a dozen. Brooks' card, with the angelic look of it, is my favorite.

1970 Frank Robinson. He didn't have any cards as an Orioles that I could call iconic or classic but I've always been partial to this one. 

OTOH Jim Palmer has had some really great cards over the years. I prefer this second year card of him over his '66 rookie card.

And then there is this:

One of the best cards Topps has ever produced.

I poked around the other teams' results. I'm not sure how you can possibly pick a F4 for the Yankees, or Dodgers. Throw darts I guess. Too many greats through their long histories. The only choice that really jumped out at me was Buster Posey making the Giants' list and not Juan Marichal. I know Posey has rings and awards, but Juan Marichal. Maybe a Giants' fan can chime in.

The Sporting News got in on the fun and had a Franchise Four for each team. Their Orioles were Ripken, Brooks, Palmer and Murray. They acknowledged Frank Robinson's spot as being worthy of consideration and mentioned Brady Anderson as well. Their 'write-in candidate' was Mike Mussina.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Stadium Club....finally

I'm a bit late posting some 2015 Stadium Club cards. But since I think this is the best set Topps has put out in quite awhile I'd give them their due. I'm going to post some of the cards I like from the small box I bought at Target. I'll skip the ones I've seen posted in many other places.

The card of Devin Mesoraco up top is a nice blend of colors against the dark sky. I didn't know that he was an All Star last season and he's had a season ending injury this year. That ignorance is likely why I've had fantasy baseball issues.

Victor Martinez listens to the National Anthem. I'm sure there are many other cards showing players during the anthem but I can't think of any at the moment. The Anthem is woven into the game. Nice card  that would be cool to have signed.

Wil Myers in one of the better posed shots that came in my box. He looks like he enjoys playing baseball, yes?

Nothing special about these two pitchers' cards other than the fact that they are so similar and came back-to-back in one of the packs. I'm no fan of color baseball tops but the Mets' orange and blue isn't bad.

The look I get when someone asks me about Albert Belle's time in Baltimore*:
(*=Belle had some pretty good numbers in his two years with the O's. It was the team that sucked). 

Chase Utley's National's Park 'mirrored' dugout photo is unique.

The final two cards are of Yankees (Don't judge, thanks) because they are two of the best that I got in the box.

The Brett Gardner card immediately made me think of this:

Too bad an O's fan isn't reaching over the wall to snare that one away from Gardner.

On this next card, Yankee (and former Red Sox..the double whammy!!) Jacoby Ellsbury reaches out for, what... a high five? fan auto request? in Yankee Stadium. It's a wonderful shot. One worthy of Night Owl's Awesome Night Card binder I believe.

I really like the Fernando Valenzuela card, the Frank Robinson and Bo Jackson cards, too. But this may be (godhelpme) my favorite of the bunch.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Pierce/Trucks Signed 8x10

I added this to my Billy Pierce collection. Pierce and Virgil Trucks were formidable pitchers during their careers and prolific signers afterwards.

I checked and saw that they were teammates on the White Sox for two and a half seasons, from June of 1953 when Trucks came over in a deal with the Browns, through the end of the 1955 season. I noticed something while checking into their times with the Chicago. In 1954 the Sox won 94 games but finished 3rd in the AL, 17 games behind the Indians. The Yankees won 103 games yet were 8 back at the finish. What's more interesting is that those were the only three teams to finish over .500 that season. The Red Sox were fourth.....47(!) games out.

Trucks won 47 games in his two and a half seasons in Chicago and had a 3.14 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. He spent nine years with the Tigers and also saw times with the A's, Yankees and Browns but his best pitching may very well have come with the White Sox.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Diecut cards...yea or nay?

I picked up an 8 pack box of Stadium Club and a pack of 2015 Score football at Target recently. The Stadium Club cards are great. No need for me to repeat what everyone else has said. Seems they get universal praise and I like them a lot, too. My only gripe is that I didn't get much in the way of Orioles or players I'm interested in. But that's probably on me. I did get an 'Albert Belle as an Oriole' card. Thanks a bunch.

I buy a pack or two of football cards each year just to do it. I'll probably spring for a pack of Topps football when they come out. Score is Score. They don't cost a lot and they won't bowl you over but I did get some nice cards for my fantasy binder. I'm always looking for cards of guys in the uniforms of the team he plays for when I own them. I was able to upgrade from some 2014 rookie cards of guys in college unis so I was happy.

One thing I picked up in both the box of SC and the Score pack was a diecut (diecut?, die cut?, die-cut?) card. Diecut cards have been around forever. There were some in the 1920s and probably before that. But I'm no fan of them. In modern sets they are just another gimmick. I like the color scheme of the SC Jackie Robinson card but that's about all.

That Robinson card is in the shape of a shield, more or less. But what's the deal with the Aaron Rodgers card? Is there some significance to the way it's cut? Am I overlooking something obvious here?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

I'm heading to Charm City!

It's been ten years since I attended a game at Camden Yards. I'll fix that with a visit at the end of July. I'll be seeing the Tigers come through Baltimore and I expect to make it out to at least two of the three games they play while I'm there. Hopefully all three. I just hope my recent terrible record of seeing my teams in person can be turned around.

The Texans lost each of the games I went to in 2014, my Houston Cougars lost more than they won in all three of the sports I watched live. The Orioles have gone 2-6 in games I've seen them play in Houston and the Rangers won five in a row before I drove up and saw them lose to the Stars in January. They had another win streak after that game. So it's not promising.

But I'll be there nonetheless. Should be fun. To get me in the right frame of mind I'm posting some Orioles cards sent my way by Shane of Shoebox Legends. I love Shane's blog and he seems like a really nice guy. The cards he sent are pretty much all new to me. Of course with my serious lack of modern cards it's not hard to hit something I don't have.

I looked up Brandon Snyder and read that the Orioles signed him to a minor league contract this spring. He's in the low minors, still chasing the dream. Good for him.

I had forgotten that Sam Horn was a Red Sox player before he was with the O's. I thought it was the other way around. I was losing my hold on big league ball about then so he's really just a name to me.

That's an Archives on the left and a Wilhelm Heritage on the right. I love any shot of Hoyt in an O's uni and this is a pic I haven't seen on a card before.

Hunter Harvey is one of the O's top pitching prospects. He's sidelined with arm issues right now. That's not good. The KMart Ripken! Oh that retail boxed set era. KMart no longer exists anywhere I've been in recent years but that was my go-to store when I was on my own for the first time. KMart furnished my first apartment.

Here are four horizontal ones I scanned together. The Brooksie is a 2015 Topps. If you look in my garage you'll see a file cabinet I used to use in my home office. I covered it with stickers like the Fleer stickers that Shane sent.

If I have one regret as a result of not following the Orioles (or baseball at all) very closely for a stretch it's that I missed out on most of Brian Roberts career. And that's a shame.

Thanks for the cards, Shane. I always appreciate your posts and look forward to many more.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

1963 Babe Ruth H-O-F bust

Some things just hide in plain sight. I've been looking for this little item in my boxes for a week. Found it on my bobble head shelf over my desk.

It's part of a 20 piece series of Hall of Fame busts that were produced around 1963. This is the only one I have and when I picked it up it was the cheapest example around. Probably because the box was pretty beat up and the 'plaque' on the front is scarred.

These were put out by a New York company for the Hall of Fame to be sold in their shop and at big league ballparks. They did these in two series and the second series is scarcer, at least according to what I've read. The Babe is among the cheaper ones. 

It's kind of a neat oddball item. And oddball items fit right in to my collection. I took a picture of it with a regular card to give you a perspective on the size in case you've never seen one.

I doubt I'll try to find any more of these as my display space is pretty crowded already. So much so that I've taken to rotating bobble heads was the sports seasons change.

Here's the checklist. Its comprised of twenty early Hall inductees. If I do go after another one it would probably be the Joe D. (my dad's favorite player) or the Christy Mathewson. 

Here is the checklists:

1st Series:
Ty Cobb
Bill Dickey
Joe DiMaggio
Lou Gehrig
Rogers Hornsby
Walter Johnson
Christy Mathewson
Babe Ruth
Pie Traynor
Honus Wagner

2nd Series:
Mickey Cochrane
Joe Cronin
Bob Feller
Jimmie Foxx
Hank Greenberg
John McGraw
Jackie Robinson
George Sisler
Tris Speaker
Paul Waner

Friday, July 10, 2015

Fantasy Foolishness

Don't worry, I'm not going to subject you to my fantasy baseball angst. I'm doing fine, thanks. But I do want to expose some of my stupidity that comes from collecting players I own combined with my  'obsessive/compulsive collecting disorder'..... OCCD if you will.

Once I pick up a player my singular goal is to get a card of him into the binder. This has led to some overspending in the past. Here is the most egregious example:

I drafted Ryu when he was just a twinkle in Don Mattingly's eye. The only card he had at that point (at least the only one available online) was this Korean one so naturally I bought it. I wasn't quite $10, but it was close. Soon afterwards there were any number of mainstream cards of him available on COMC for 47 cents. 

Here are two more examples:

Both of these cards were among the few available when I grabbed these guys for my team and both were sort of pricey. I little bit of patience would have saved me some money.

The corollary to all this is my other 'obsession'.....I want the card of a player in my binder to reflect the team the player is with when I have him rostered. Which means I knew I'd be replacing these cards eventually anyway. And yet I still over-spent. Is there any hope at all for me?

That second need, to have a representative card of a player, is my next post.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Randy Burke Customs

My ongoing interest in obtaining a Randy Burke card for my Fantasy Football collection reached it's natural conclusion when I ordered a couple of custom cards to be made from photos I've picked up in the last year or so. I had previously made my own custom cards but while they looked OK I really had no way to produce a quality professional-looking two sided cards.

The backstory I discussed here previously. In a nutshell I finally determined that the 'card' I had been searching for was actually a team issued photo. I'm not sure if they were distributed to the public or were exclusively used as publicity stills.

In the end I found and purchased two copies of the pic, neither of which was without flaws. The photos are below, the one on the left had red ink bleeding thru from the newspaper archives stamping on the reverse. The other had crop markings.

But using my very rudimentary graphics skills I pieced together a clean copy (below) that I was able to made use of for the first card.

The final product, which is posted at the top and arrived late last week, came out really well I thought. Clean, simple design that reminds me of regional issues. The finish is shiny and the card stock, while not as thick as a '56 Topps, is better than the current Archives release. I'm very happy with it. Here is the back:

The second card was made using a photo I purchased from the Baltimore Sun archives. It shows Burke as a rookie being fitted for his helmet by the Colts' equipment manager. Here is the original pic. Below that I've posted the caption.

I cropped the shot and didn't bother to try to eliminate any of the gray 'painted over' area that the Sun photo editor applied. Turns out it doesn't detract all that much from the finished card:

The reverse is identical to the first card.

I ordered some extras and sent them along to Randy Burke as I've discovered that he didn't have any cards from his career. That's not surprising given that nothing seems to have been issued. I'm hoping he likes them and I've asked that he sign one of each for me. I'll post if he does.

So my collection 'white whale' has been reeled in. Not exactly as I had envisioned it many years ago when I first went on the hunt for a card of every player on my fantasy rosters but in many ways it's even better. Thanks to Shelley at Customcardboard for the nice work!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Bob Moose Regional

I'm slowly picking up some regional issues of guys in my PCs. Here's one:

This regional card was issued as part of a promo set of Pirates cards by broadcast affiliate KDKA-AM and it's TV partner KDKA-TV in 1968, Bob Moose's rookie year (he pitched in two games in '67). KDKA became the Pirates radio anchor in 1955 and the relationship lasted 51 years. The Pirates returned to KDKA's FM side in 2012.

The checklist for the set is numbered by player's uniform number:

  • 7 Larry Shepard MG
  • 8 Willie Stargell
  • 9 Bill Mazeroski
  • 10 Gary Kolb
  • 11 Jose Pagan
  • 12 Jerry May
  • 14 Jim Bunning
  • 15 Manny Mota
  • 17 Donn Clendenon
  • 18 Matty Alou
  • 21 Roberto Clemente
  • 22 Gene Alley
  • 25 Tommy Sisk
  • 26 Roy Face
  • 27 Ron Kline
  • 28 Steve Blass
  • 29 Juan Pizarro
  • 30 Maury Wills
  • 34 Al McBean
  • 35 Manny Sanguillen
  • 38 Bob Moose
  • 39 Bob Veale
  • 40 Dave Wickersham