Thursday, September 29, 2016

1958 Customs (Phantoms?) from Bob Lemke

Bob Lemke writes one of my favorite blogs. He has some great stories from bygone days thru his access to old copies of The Sporting News. Plus he was a mover and shaker in the memorabilia news industry for many years. 

He also produces some terrific customs, both sports and non-sports. After a brief hiatus he is currently selling them again and I for one am glad. They are not cheap but if you buy a few at a time they cost about the same as a Topps Now card and are far more interesting than a card of the latest walkoff passed ball incident. 

When I decided to go after the 1958 set I knew I'd be checking out what Bob had available. I did the same for my 1959 and 1960 projects. Both of those binders have a page in the back that contains a few Lemke creations. 

For 1958 Bob now has seven customs (plus a variation). I recently picked up three of them. Roy Campanella never got to play with the 'Los Angeles' Dodgers as his sparkling career ended with his auto accident late in  January of 1958.  Bob's custom is a spot-on take on what a '58 Topps Campy might have looked like. 

Next is Bob's version of the '58 multi-player specials. He found a nice shot of Don Newcombe and Johnny Antonelli and used it in a way I'm surprised Topps didn't think of. 

When I looked at the checklist for the '58 set I saw that there was no card #145 and then remembered that it had originally been the spot where Ed Bouchee would have appeared. He was dropped from the set when his legal issues arose and he was suspended. Lemke fills the slot with a nice version of what the Bouchee card might have looked like. He has available both a yellow and black background. I picked the black since there are not as many black cards in the set as there are yellow. Bob was kind enough to also sent the yellow version as well. I have the yellow version at the bottom of this post.

Unlike the other Lemke customs I have or will pick up the Bouchee card will reside within the main binder pages as if it was an actual Topps card. I don't like having an empty slot on a page in a completed set. But to just 'skip' the spot would have thrown off my numbering and made my card-related OCD kick in to high gear. 

BTW...Bouchee was reinstated to MLB in the summer of 1958 and had cards in Topps sets again from 1959 through the end of his career in 1962 with the Mets.

The reverse of Bob's custom is a few shades 'brighter' than the original Topps cards but it's a great replication in all other ways so I'm happy to use it in that #145 slot. If it wasn't available I would have had to make my own lousy custom which in no way would have looked right.

There are four other Lemke '58s listed on his site. I'll snatch those up at some point along with the '59s and '60s that I missed the first time.

I'm still weighing my options as far as a '58 Topps blog goes. I'll figure something out.

Oh, and here is an image of Bob's yellow Ed Bouchee #145. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

'58 Topps..the new project

Over the last couple of weeks I committed to chasing the third and final of my three 'cornerstone' sets, the 1958 Topps set. Along with the '59 and '60 these sets were the first ones that I dealt with as a kid and the ones with the most nostalgic value.

The 1958 isn't the most popular of the 50s era sets but it's colorful, relatively easy to track down and it doesn't have lots super expensive rookies. I set about to begin my quest in the same way I started with the 1960 set. I gathered together the '58 cards I already owned. I had all the Orioles, a few stars (Sandy Koufax!), a couple dozen commons and the entire All Star subset. 

Then I found a large lot (240+ cards) of cheap '58s on eBay and nabbed it at a price that netted me 210 new (to me) cards that included some stars in lesser condition. Even disregarding the 25 or 30 cards I already owned the lot cost me about 80 cents a card. The Frank Torre card at the top comes from that lot and more or less exemplifies the average condition of the lot. Trust me, some of the ones I received no doubt spent some time being attached to bike spokes.

Finally I took my wantlist to the monthly hotel card show and combed through my favorite dealer's vintage boxes and came up with about 60 more commons in really nice shape. He cut me a nice deal on a few stars as well. 

I spent last Sunday sorting what I had and making notes on cards that will need an eventual upgrade. I also looked closer at eBay and COMC to get an idea of what it will take for me to finish this thing off.

Here is a peek at some of what I have. This Luis Aparicio was part of the eBay lot. I so love the old Flying Sock logo. 

Frank Sullivan came in the lot, too. Soft corners and a bit scuffed. But this one is way down the upgrade list. Down far enough that I'll probably never do it.

Another Flying Sock guy, Jim Landis. This one came from the show. Nice card for the fifty cents or so that it cost.

Daryl Spencer sports a logo-enhanced cap. Topps modeled these on the old San Francisco Seals caps. Close but no cigar. This is another card show pickup.

Fianlly here is Hall of Famer early Wynn. I didn't intend for this to be a Sox-centric post but whatever. He came over from the Indians for 1958 as the cardback notes. And he had plenty of arm left. He won 49 games for Chicago between '58 and 1960 when his effectiveness diminished. 

Topps packed a lot of stuff on the reverse of these. Stats, cartoons, personal data and a blurb in most cases.

When the weekend was done I ended up with a total of 332 cards. That's roughly 2/3 of the 494 card set. I did have one surprise. I just know I have the Frank Robinson and Ted Williams cards from this set. But try as I might I couldn't come up with them. I'll keep digging. 

In addition to all the actual '58s I have I picked up some of Bob Lemke's customs including the 'missing' #145 Ed Bouchee. I'll post them soon.

I'm still debating whether of not I will have a dedicated '58 Topps blog. I'm waaaay behind on my 1960 blog. The idea of undertaking a new one is rather daunting. But nobody (that I have found) has blogged the set and I'd like to fill that gap. I'll try to come up with an idea for a simple way to do it.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Cards Just Because

When I go to a card show and dig thru boxes of cheap vintage I will sometimes  always  pull cards out that just strike me as cool. Either I like the composition of the card, dig the photo or get some pang of nostalgia from it. Happened again this past Saturday at the monthly (now twice monthly) hotel show.

Bob Turley was a favorite of my father and I think sometimes he was more enthused about seeing him pitch at Yankee Stadium than he was about Whitey Ford. We always got to the games early so I was very familiar with the Yankee Stadium batting cage. I wish I could figure out who that is behind him on this '61 Topps.

I had completely forgotten about his having won a Cy Young Award until I was checking his bio the last night. He was also #2 behind Jackie Jensen in MVP balloting after that terrific 1958 season. I was too young to remember his days with the fledgling '54 Orioles but he won 14 games on a team that only won 54 overall.

I already have a nice '61 Billy Pierce but if I ever decide to collect the set I need a dupe Pierce to slide into the slot on the binder spine. Now I have one. Plus it's another Yankee Stadium shot. I always like to think I was there the day they took these shots. This is classic Pierce.

I grabbed these two rookie related cards as well. Julian Javier has that great Topps top hat trophy and Fritz Brickell got the star that designated him as a rookie in 1961. I'm not sure that was actually the case (he played for the Yanks briefly in '58/'59). The real reason I bought the Brickell card was the 'windbreaker under the jersey look'. That used to be common. Not anymore.

Brickell's dad Fred was a big leaguer in the 20s and 30s. He died at the age of  54 the year his son's card was issued. Fritz died just a few years later of cancer at the age of 30 in 1965.

Breaking my pattern of 1961s was this Casey/Woodling '63 special. I like the original Mets' clean pinstripe look and the Polo Grounds background. Too bad had forgotten that I already had this card. I could have spent the 50 cents on some other vintage gem.

All in all another great Saturday morning spent with baseball cards. I sunk $85 into 1958s. Oh, did I mention that I'm now committed to collecting that one? Well I am. More on that soon.

Friday, September 16, 2016

More Civil War News Gruesomeness

Through a combination of purchases on eBay and COMC I've added some new cards to my Civil War News binder and upgraded a few others. I spent a few extra dollars to get a decent copy of #21 Painful Death. It's one of the more graphic cards in the set and one I remember as fascinating me as a kid. It's badly miscut but the card is otherwise very nice. Especially alongside some of the poorly conditioned ones that I already own.

The back mentions Stonewall Jackson's Virginia campaign without any specific tie-in to the artwork on the front.

There were definitely several different artistic styles within this set. The face belonging to the guy holding the flame here is seen on many other cards. 

Here is another card I remember well. I was fascinated by the Civil War era armored gun ship the Merrimac.

This new copy of The Battle Continues is a clear upgrade over my previous one:



I have already posted my mistakenly bought AB&C copy of Angel Of Mercy. The Topps version is equally as creepy.

A few months ago I did some checking into Civil War troop train wrecks and determined that this is based on an event that happened somewhere else besides Chattanooga on the date listed. I can't find the webpage anymore though so my old man memory made be failing me. 

A couple more random cards from my stack of new additions.

The Angry Man is John Brown and he graces Card #1 in the set.

I also picked up the most expensive and elusive card, the checklist. I found a cheap one after a long search. It's not as nice an example as I had hoped to add to the binder but given what these run in good condition this one will have to do.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Kicking Off 1958 (maybe)

I've been itching for a new baseball project since I finished off the 1960 set. The 1958 had been in the back of my mind for a long time. And I do mean a looong time. I don't think I've ever been to a card show without at least digging thru a box that contained these colorful gems. The first things I bought on eBay were small lots of '58 Topps back in 1996.

This set has some sentimental value to me. I've mentioned before that these were the first cards I remember seeing. I was living out on Long Island and a girl in my neighborhood had some. I don't think I ever got my hands on any but by 1959 I was a collector, or at least an owner, of Topps cards.

I'm still not fully committed to chasing this set. I have the All-Star subset, the Orioles, a few dozen commons and some stars so I wouldn't starting from scratch. But a vintage set is a big commitment in time, patience and most of all, cash. I'll wait and see how I feel over the next month of so and I'm going to check into the availability of inexpensive star cards at the next hotel show I hit up.

Meanwhile I nabbed a few (sort of a sampler pack) out of a vintage bargain bin at the last hotel show. With my 'frequent buyer' discount they cost me about sixty cents each. The Andy Pafko and Charlie Lau cards were two of the better conditioned ones I found. I also grabbed a couple of Giants because I always am attracted by the lousy art skills of the Topps Art Department. Ruben Gomez got a logo penned in the form of the old San Francisco Seals cap logo. Topps usually went the route of copying defunct minor league logos for teams that had moved. The Orioles in the 1954 set had caps (and unis) drawn in that mimicked the old International League Orioles gear.

Check out Bob Speake's cap. Looks like it took all of thirty seconds work to make that NY Giants' cap into a San Francisco one.

Here is a close-up.

Del Crandall, Smoky Burgess, Charlie Maxwell and Billy Hoeft are all welcome additions to my vintage collection even if I don't collect the set.

I'd always assumed that Harry Simpson got his 'Suitcase Simpson' nickname by being traded around so much. Not so. i discovered my error when reading about him for my 1959 blog. I'll let Wikipedia tell it:

That his nickname of "Suitcase" came from his being frequently traded during his playing career is a common misconception. According to the 1951 Cleveland Indians Sketch Book, he was called "Suitcase" by sportswriters after the Toonerville Trolley character, Suitcase Simpson, because of his size 13 shoe with feet as large as suitcases. This is years before his many trades. His real nickname was "Goody", which came from his willingness to run errands and help neighbors in his hometown of Dalton, Georgia.

I picked up the Esposito and Lollar cards because I'm partial to the wonderful 'Flying Sock' logo. And Camilio Pascual has became a favorite of mine when I witnessed him being wrapped in a Cuban flag by on-the-field interlopers at Yankee Stadium in 1963

Over the next few months I'll make up my mind about taking this thing on. One thing I am sure of is that collecting the '58 set won't translate into a '58 Topps blog. It's hard enough for me to find time to post to this one. And my poor ol' 1960 set blog is way behind.