Tuesday, August 30, 2016

More $$$ for cards!

In my last post I casually mentioned my new 'TV setup'. About a month ago I made to move to 'cutting the cord' as it's called. I'm not completely there yet since I still have a minimal cable account for reasons too convoluted to go into here. But I do most of my viewing thru my Amazon FireTV Box using the Sony Playstation Vue app, the Netflix app and a bunch of others. 

Bottom line is I'm paying about $60 less a month than I was with our top shelf  AT&T Uverse plan. And I actually have many more viewing options. I'm not really planning to spend the savings on hobby stuff but that would be fun!

I did take some extra cash to last weekend's hotel card show but the plan was to spend it on a bulk lot of 1958 Topps cards should I come across one. I'm about 90% sure that the '58 set will be my next project. I bought a handful but there were no bargain lots around so that project will wait a bit.

I rummaged through the cheap card boxes and came up with a few that were calling my name. The Frank Robinson at the top of the post is from TCMA's 1986 All Time Orioles set of 12. I love Frank Robinson cards, I love oddballs and TCMA stuff in particular. I wasn't familiar with these but I've since found the set for sale on eBay very cheap so I might need to pick it up. I've also come across a color version of at least one (Jim Palmer). I don't know the story on all that and I'm not really interested. 

Here is the reverse of the Robinson card. BTW...I saw references to the set with blue back printing being a reprint set.  A reprint of a TCMA set? I'm not even sure Larry Fritsch would try to pull that one off. 

A few other random things I brought home. 

1981 Topps Bob Griese. Did he steal those cheaters from Michael Caine?

I forgot to scan the back but it mentions that Griese coaches his kids' youth team. I guess that would be Brian Griese.

Next is a card of one of my UH friends, Otis Birdsong. That's an '86/'87 Fleer which was a cool and colorful set. Always nice to add a card of a Houston star. Particularly Bird who is such a great guy.

This next one is a Cooperstown from Panini showing Roy Campanella in his Baltimore Elite Giants uniform. Campy played with Baltimore from the age of 16 over parts of eight seasons.

Had that been Campy in a Dodgers uni I might not have grabbed it but you don't see many cards with him during his days in Baltimore. That's the old Orioles Park in the picture.

And I grabbed a nice copy of Topps' 1966 Jim Bouton card. I'm not even sure why I did. I don't particularly collect Bouton but I have enjoyed his books, saw him pitch numerous times as a kid and even played Little League against his young cousins in New Jersey.

Sure, he's a Yankee but most Yankee traditionalists hated him. Even the dealer I bought it from, a Yankee fan himself, had a smart remark about this card. LOL.

I'll post the '58s next time so everyone can tee off on them (and me for collecting them).

Monday, August 29, 2016


If we traveled back in time to 1964 and you asked the 12-year-old me what my favorite TV show was the answer would be, without hesitation, Combat!. And yes, the exclamation point always follows the name of the show. 

I had no idea that there were Combat! cards produced back during the show's run. I used to find all kinds of non-sports cards for sale at my uncle's pharmacy but I don't think I ever saw these. But a few weeks back I found these at my local hotel show in a bargain bin. 

Combat! ran for five seasons on ABC and it was a must watch in my house and among my friends. My buddies and I would argue about which of the two main characters, Lt. Hanley (played by Rick Jason) or Sgt. Saunders (Vic Morrow) was 'cooler'. My choice was Morrow who is featured in both of the cards above.

Combat! was the story of one platoon as they moved across France after D-Day. A couple of years ago I found a DVD copy of several Season One episodes at a used book store and picked it up. Unlike the original Star Trek shows I've been checking out via my new TV set-up the Combat! episodes hold up well.

This next card shows Rick Jason in his role as the Lieutenant. He was usually the calm 'voice of reason' who frequently clashed with the volatile Morrow.

The list of guest stars who appeared through the five year run is impressive and includes Ted Knight and Frank Gorshin made appearances. Other notable guest stars included Lee Marvin, Robert Duvall, James Coburn, Bill Bixby, Telly Savalas, Charles Bronson, James Caan, Leonard Nimoy, Roddy McDowell, Mickey Rooney, and Jack Lord.

The set was produced by Donruss but their name wasn't on the cards. With really good eyes you can see their name on this wrapper (image found on the 'net):

When 'read' in numerical order the set told a story of one campaign by the platoon. The narrative on the backs more or less correspond to the photos on the front. Here is the front and back of #51.

#55 and #56 are an example of the way the cards are sequenced.

The 132 card set was issued in two series of 66 cards in 1963 and 1964. And finally here is an interesting fact from the set's blurb on Dean's Cards:
One problem faced in production of the 1964 Donruss Combat cards was that Donruss only had a license to use images of the regular cast members. Thus if an “extra” was in the photo, his face had to be removed from the card and drawn on by hand. Therefore, many of the cards have a cartoonish look to them.
I don't plan to chase any more of these, I have enough projects going on as it is. But they were a fun and nostalgic find and grabbing these 10 or so for a couple of dollars was kind of cool.

EDIT: I just found this page with some more details about the set.

Another EDIT: I found this picture online on MeTV's page. There is plenty of Cobat! trivia and info on that page as well. Access it here.

Of course that's Braves' star lefty Warren Spahn with Combat lead actors Rick Jason and Vic Morrow.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Civil War News Additions (and a subtraction)

I'm slowly adding to my '62 Topps Civil War News set. I've found that there is no middle ground with these either price or condition-wise. I've exhausted the supply of needed and affordable (under $2) examples on COMC. Now I'm doing a daily check on eBay. It's hard to find anything under $5 there.

These two come from an earlier eBay purchase and are in better shape than most of my other ones. That one up top is one of the nightmare-inducing examples that stuck in my memory from my elementary school days. A painting of soldiers impaled on abatis stakes tends to stay with a kid.

Here is the back. I bet I was disappointed that there wan't a description of the gruesome scene depicted on the front. Instead it discusses the reaction of CSA General John Bell Hood to the lost battle of Nashville in December of 1965. But. as has been documented, that story was made up by the Topps writers who did the 'News' on these cards. More on that in a bit.

#52 Friendly Enemies depicts wounded from both sides sharing a canteen after presumably fighting each other moments before.

The card's back references the post battle atmosphere of Chattanooga in September of 1863.

I was able to find a couple of nice examples of the faux Confederate currency that was inserted into the packs. They in 10 different denominations. Some serial number variations bring the total to 17 different. Once I'm done with collecting the cards I may try to nab a few more of these bills. This $100 note is the better of the two I have.

The title of the blog mentions a 'subtraction'. Here's why:

In my haste to scoop up all the cheap ones available on COMC I added this #58 Angel Of  Mercy to my cart. When the package arrived it stuck out from the rest of my purchased lot. The obvious difference was the size of the card. It was smaller than the rest and flipping it over the the pink/red is brighter as is the cardboard itself.
And then there was this:

I had no idea that these cards had been reprinted by Topps' 'kissing cousin' AB&C in England in 1965. I think of them as a football (soccer) card maker but they did loads of non-sports issues as well. Scroll down on this webpage for a list of AB&C card issues. 

I'd obviously misread (or not read) the card description and ended up with the British version of this creepy Clara Barton card. It isn't the first time I've 'mis-bought' something online. Won't be the last either. And it IS pretty creepy. Her bloddy and bandaged patient looks like something from those Friday The 13th films. Here are comparison views of the AB&C card and one of my Topps cards.

Reading the card backs and poking around the internet doing just the barest of research turned up the fact that the card backs are far from an accurate chronicle of the Civil War. I recently came across a 1998 interview done with Len Brown who was one of the Topps employees involved with making this set. It's very long and the page uses very small type but it's still worth looking at if you are interested in this set. It's a good read even if you just want some insight into how these old non-sports sets were done.

Late in the interview Brown is asked about the backs and how they were developed and here is that exchange:

{Paul} ....... By the way, who did the stories on the backs of the cards?
{Len} Uh-oh, I was afraid you were going to ask that. I slaved over the backs.... but what I am not proud of was that I misled lots of children to think that these were true events that took place during the war. Most of them were just fictional. We planned the pictures.... composed the scenes out of our imaginations..... after the paintings were done, I wrote a little story about the front of the cards---then I would look up a town or date that seemed appropriate and would try to publish a newspaper back as if it were a real event. I remember getting a letter from a schoolteacher years ago, thanking us for helping the children in her class to learn about the Civil War. Yet, sad to say, facts never got in the way of telling an interesting story.
{Paul} That's okay, Len. The stories were great. I enjoyed reading each of them -- true or not. Were there any stories that were factual? I remember a particular card; "The Silent Drum" was about a drummer boy who was killed. Or were they all made up?
{Len} There might have been a few accurate stories that were written up. I suspect "The Silent Drum" was fictional. We were just trying to tell an interesting story about the picture on the front. If I had to guess, I would say 80 to 85% of the stories were complete fiction pieces. The battles were based on fact, but the incidental details were really fiction.
{Paul} Well, the stories were good, factual or not.
The origin of the Confederate currency inserts is also discussed:

{Paul} So is it an authentic copy, or just an artists conception of what the money looked like?
{Len} I don't believe they were 100% authentic. We purchased some antique confederate bills and reworked the designs a little bit. It was a combination of several elements. I think they came off looking pretty real because we stayed close to the original. In those days we were afraid of just "counterfeiting" the Confederate money, even though they were no longer considered real currency.

I'm lacking about 30 to complete the Civil War News set.  expect it to take me quite awhile to finish it off but having a project always makes this hobby fun.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Shlabotnik Cards (and Picasa is dead) (and my scanner hates me)

Recently I received a nice group of cards from 'Joe Shlabotnik' and I quickly scanned them for posting. I was in a hurry because my window of opportunity to upload them to Google's Picasa online photo service was closing. I loved Picasa. But it's gone now. I have alternate plans, none of which I like. Meanwhile I'm just loading all my scans on a flash drive and toting them around.

But back to the cards I got from Joe. They were almost all Orioles cards and that's good because the only way I seem to get the O's from contemporary sets is by having them sent my way by fellow bloggers. I get some decent stuff from the few packs I buy but I have terrible luck when it comes to snagging Orioles.

Couple of Brooksies to kick things off. Up top we have the '16 Archives and below it's a Topps World Series Heroes from the 2014 set. I really need to count up my different cards of Brooks. I read posts all the time that state how many of a certain player are in the blogger's collection. I need to do that with Brooks, Mike Cuellar and a few others.

Next, Manny Machado 2014 Opening Day. I've had the concept of the Opening Day set explained to me but I still wonder why it exists. Same cards with an extra logo? Is that it? But either way this card took it's place in my fantasy binder because 2014 was the year I had Manny on my team.

I like cards with borders. I wish Topps would do borders on every set except Stadium Club. But you will note the 'trimmed' look of the Machado card. Very bright white borders give my scanner fits. And I'm too lazy to re-scan with a dark sheet of paper over the card and then crop the card. So Manny lives on in this post sans border.

Zack Britton lost his border and most of his position. I read an article the other day suggesting that the reliever has a case as the AL Cy Young Award. And yes, he's that good.

Joe's envelope turned into a JJ Hardy hot pack. here is his Heritage from 2016.

His (non-bordered...grrr) Archives from last year.

And his 2015 Heritage.

Joe warned me that there was back damage to this one. Looks like Topps had tried a new faux-damage variation. White Out staining joins 'gum' and 'wax' stains as chase cards.

Caleb joseph from last season's set show the Orioles back-up at a not too flattering angle. It's an unusual action shot but I'm not sure what the action actually is.

An Honest Abe for my presidential binder. Shows him with Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. Bruce McGill played Stanton to Daniel Day Lewis' Lincoln. He was a dead ringer for him, too. Bruce McGill is awesome.

Joe sent along two SSPCs. I have the Orioles from the set and a few scattered others but bot of these were new to me.

It's me! Well, no it isn't but it's close. Same first and last name and we were born 6 days apart. I have one of his regular Topps cards but I wasn't aware he was in this set. That's Shea Stadium and those hideous behind-the-box seats barricades they installed. And the patch on Andrews' sleeve is for Don Wilson the Astros' fireballer who has passed away in January of 1975.

And then there is Terry Crowley. He's with the Reds here but he spent 12 seasons with the Orioles as a player and many more as a hitting instructor. I'm not sure what he's up to now but as recently as 2014 he was still semi-involved in coaching as he was working with Chris Davis that year. 

'Cro' won rings with the O's ('70) and Reds ('75) and very nearly another one in 1983 but he was released by the Orioles before the season. He also was in several more post season series with Baltimore and Cincy. 

Thanks again Joe, and thanks for all the great posts you do on TSR. I enjoy each and every one.

Monday, August 15, 2016

'96 Leaf Signature El Presidente

Ok, I know that just the sight of a Dennis Martinez card makes Night Owl break out in hives but some things can't be helped. Besides I think down deep Mr. Owl likes El Presidente, maybe not as much as I do, (I really really like him) but time heals all wounds.

Anyway I've seen these 1996 Leaf Signature cards pop up on other blogs from time to time. But only recently did I decide to investigate them. I found that many can be had for reasonable prices. I'm not really a signed card collector but if I can pick up one of my favorite players cheap I'll go ahead and grab it.

I saw some with silver foil 'medallions' on them and others with bronze and I believe there were also gold foil ones. I have no idea what the significance is. I suspect the bronze were more plentiful/cheaper. Any help from 90s collectors? Frankly they'd be better looking cards without that glob of foil smack in the middle of the photo but it was the 90s and cards had to be fancied up to get attention I suppose.

Finally here is a nice interview with Dennis that I found on Fangraphs. Worth a read.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Card Show Vintage Football

Well, football season is encroaching of baseball's summer spotlight and I know that bugs a lot of you. I'm OK with it though. I don't pay a lot of attention to the preseason football other than to gripe about having two meaningless games included with my Texans tickets...and paying the full regular season price for them.

But soon it'll be September and the baseball pennant races will be cranked up to 11, the NHL camps will be open and exhibitions underway and I'll be knee deep in the Texans season to say nothing of my Houston Cougars. It's my favorite time of the year.

In my more nostalgic moments I think about long ago Saturdays in the fall when I'd be supervising intramural football games. Then we'd all head for the Athletics office to watch pennant race baseball on TV when the shadows seemed always to be covering the mound in the late afternoon. Finally it was off to work the UH game versus Arkansas or Texas in the Astrodome. Wish I could be that carefree now.

These are some of the vintage football cards I snapped up at the last monthly card show I attended. They came out of the dollar bin but with my 'regular customer' discount I paid less than that per card. Back up at the top is a 1960 Topps Y.A. Tittle. I remember him as the quarterback of the Giants back when I'd listen to their games with my father.

Then there is Howard 'Hopalong' Cassady on his card from the same set. Cassady won the Heisman at Ohio State and played eight years in the NFL. Although he never had the impact in the pros that he did in college he was able to help the Lions win the league title in 1957. He had about a half dozen cards during his pro career but this is the only one that uses his nickname on the front.  BTW...the original Hopalong Cassidy was a fictional cowboy romanticized in pulp novels, movie shorts and on TV.

The last card is a Philly Gum Giants team card from the 1967 set. The '67 Giants added QB Fran Tarkington and in the process were able to rebound from a 12 loss season to a couple years of .500 football. And they were pretty entertaining with Scramblin' Fran at the helm.

For all the greatness of the Philly Gum sets of the mid-60s you can tell by reading the blurb on the back that they would have benefited by employing a better proofreader.

I have other stuff from the bargain bins at the show to post, including a few cards from a TV show I loved as a kid but haven't thought about in years.