Sunday, August 20, 2017

Fernandomania!



My wife was going through some shoe boxes of mementos that she came across one evening last week and found (among some other interesting things) this Fernando Valenzuela button. In 1981 Fernando arrived with a splash after being named the Dodgers' Opening Day starter as a replacement for the injured Jerry Reuss. Most everyone knows how his career blazed across the baseball universe after that. 

Even my Mexican American soon-to-be father-in-law was caught up in Fernandomania. He'd lived his whole life here in Texas but had never been to a baseball game (or pro sports event for that matter) until we took him to see Fernando pitch in the Astrodome late in the 1981 season

Don Sutton out pitched Fernando that night and the Astros won but that didn't dampen the festive mood or ruin our milestone family adventure. I think we bought him that button in the Astrodome gift shop during the game. Back then the Dome and every other park I visited carried caps and other items from every team in the majors so finding a button of a member of the Astros' division rival probably didn't surprise me. 

I hadn't thought about that night in a long time. I saw my father-in-law last week and I meant to ask him if he remembers going to that game. He's 91 now but still sharp as can be so I'm betting he does. I remember sitting that night down the left field line near the foul pole and how impressed he was with seeing the inside of that impressive building he'd seen from the street many times. 

I believe the last time I saw Valenzuela pitch in person was in the 1986 All Star game when he struck out five straight AL hitters (Don Mattingly, Cal Ripken, Jr., Jesse Barfield, Lou Whitaker and Teddy Higuera) to tie Carl Hubbell's record set in the 30s.  

Fernando had some cool cards in his day but I really like this Stadium Club from a year or so back. Greatness.



Saturday, August 19, 2017

1970 Topps..putting a bow on it



The Seattle Pilots team card, #713 in the set of 720, arrived yesterday and I slipped it into the last nine pocket page of my 1970 Topps binder. that was the last open slot and ends another fun vintage card chase. I had a few setbacks along the way including having a large group of OPCs included in my starter lot and an eBay dispute over my first copy of the Pilots card that I am still involved in.

But those are minor details. I'm happy to put this baby to bed. I currently have no plans to blog it card-by-card, I have way too many irons in the fire as it is. But that may change somewhere down the line.

In the meantime I have a couple of posts in the works regarding the set. I thought I'd post the first and last binder pages today. Each has some interesting cards. Here is the page containing numbers 1 thru 9:


The most expensive card on that page is #1, the Mets team card witch (painfully for me) proclaims them as "World Champions". And so they were. I've long since gotten over it but at the time it was pretty traumatic. I can still remember watching Cleon Jones catching the final out as I sat in my best friends livingroom. I got up and left without saying anything and walked home. I came to discover that there is a 'Mets tax' on their 1970 cards. I've gotten used to paying a premium for Yankees players but doing so for the 1970 Topps Mets kind of sucked.

My fave on the page is #2, Diego Segui aka 'The Ancient Mariner'. He earned that nickname when he made his second go-round in a Seattle uniform as the Opening Day pitcher for the Seattle Mariners in 1977. He was 39 at the time. The '69 Pilots uniforms are among my all time favorites and I'll write a post showing them off before long.

The Grant Jackson card is a close second. Jackson was coming off his only All Star season and in 1970 he joined the Orioles. He was a handy bullpen piece for the O's until he was dealt to the Yanks in 1976. I have an Orioles game program and a couple of team postcards signed by him.

Now we will skip to the last binder page, cards #712 thru #720:


Most expensive card...easily the Nolan Ryan. It was the costliest card of all 720 by far. I set a budget and every card that fell within my limit had some flaws. I decided that I'd ignore the off-centeredness of this one in favor of the nice corners. This is Ryan's third Topps card, his second solo card. But the premium comes from it being a high number.

I found that there was absolutely no rhyme or reason to the pricing of the 1970 high numbers. I picked up some excellent copies of common players in the high number series for about $1.75 while others commanded $7 to $10 consistently. It made the chase just that much more fun.

My favorite on this page is the Pilots team card. It was costly in it's own right and I was lucky to find this one for under $20 shipped. It's kind of interesting the Topps never switched to calling the club the Milwaukee Brewers even though the sale and city switch had gone through before the late series cards were done. This is the only Pilots team card ever released obviously.

And this one is the second copy I purchased. The first was part of a buy I made of four high numbers, three of which arrived. The fate of the fourth card, the Pilots card, is a mystery. I'll let eBay and PayPal do their thing and whatever happens happens. If I lose my case it won't be the first time I threw $25 down the drain by dealing with a questionable seller.

Looking at the back of  the card it's fun to note that these records could be labels as 'Pilots Team All Time Records'. I love the fact that ex-Orioles Big Gene Brabender will always be the Pilots leader in seven pitching categories. That's him towering over everyone else in the top row of the team card picture.


As I mentioned I'll have some other 1970 Topps posts coming. I intend to look at the Pilots' uniforms and the great managers cards in the set.

I had doubts as to whether chasing this set would be enjoyable. Turns out it surely was.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Steppin' on Joe's toes


I kicked around the idea of collecting the 1976 SSPC set for a long time. As with other sets I had the Orioles and a few other assorted cards. About six months ago I found one on eBay at a reasonable price and picked it up.

If you follow Joe Shlabotnik's The Shlabotnik Report (and you should) you know that he has had an ongoing series of posts featuring this wonderful oddball set. That's one reason that until now I haven't bothered to do anything with my cards other than shuffle through them. Posting them feels a little like putting up pictures of someone else's kids. However....

....now that I've finished the 1970 Topps chase I decided to binder this one and do at least this one post based on it. BTW...if you are not familiar with the story behind this privately produced set you should check out this brief but thorough introduction to it.

I'm posting some random SSPCs here today. I had about 20 scanned but several lost their border in the scanning process and I hate posting those. Two terrific ballplayers from the Orioles segment of the set kick off the scans, Don Baylor and Paul Blair. The cards are grouped together by team with a few exceptions. The last 50 or cards are made up of managers, coaches, the checklists, stray players from teams grouped elsewhere, things like that.



George Brett had had a fine rookie season in 1974 but he exploded in 1975 and this card, released with this set following that season would have been one of the most coveted had these actually been in circulation.


Pete Rose. I was hoping that the Brooks Robinson card would have scanned better but whatcha gonna do?


Brian Downing. As I recall he had a really wierd batting stance...or maybe I'm confusing him with someone else.


Dusty Baker looking very young.


My set came with both the error 'Noland' Ryan and the corrected version. These 'combo' cards are the fronts of the seven checklist cards. There are a couple of other 'errors' which are players whose pictures were mixed up.


Joe Ferguson with his epic 'stache.


Woody Fryman has hijacked the groundskeeper's cart.


The back of Duke Snider's card lists him as 'Hitting Instructor' and mentions his additional role as a broadcaster in Montreal.


Luis Tiant looking a bit perplexed.


The backs look like this.


That's a quick look at a dozen of the 630 cards in this quirky masterpiece. I'm about to put it in pages and I can't wait to see how it looks.

This brief SSPC interlude is over...I now return the 'rights' to blogging these babies to Joe.



Monday, August 14, 2017

Joe Knows

Got a neat package in the mail late last week for Joe Shlabotnik. He knocked off five of the remaining dozen or so 1970 Topps cards I needed. I threw them into one picture because I didn't intend for this blog to become a 'set blog' and that's kind of the way it was headed lately. 

Anyway, here are the 1970s. These are all from the semi-high number series which have proved to be just as difficult to track down in terms of reasonable price/condition as the high numbers. Included are an Expo and a Pilot player, two reasons I love this set. Plus a former Strat-O-Matic staple from my dorm days, Ted Uhlaender. 


Joe included a bunch of other stuff in the package. These next two cards are the most fun....

This card comes from the 1975 Topps (English) Football set. The design is familiar to everyone reading this. Just like the Topps baseball set of the same year it's about as colorful (colourful?) as a set can get. It would be fun to see this thing in binder pages. For an idea of what it would look like click to this hobby site. I don't have the time or inclination at the moment but this would be a fun set to chase. If you have even the slightest interest in soccer cards you should poke around this site. It's got tons of info and pics.

I don't remember Jim Holton but he also played in the old MSL or whatever it was they called the prior US pro soccer league. His time with Man United came when the club was struggling and they even suffered (gasp) relegation! Soccer fans, particularly English ones, love to sing/chant during games and apparently this was a thing in Holton's day:

'Six foot two, eyes of blue, Big Jim Holton's after you'


Interesting to note that the stat area on the reverse instructs you to 'fill in season's record' for 1974/75. Here is a closer look.


Hyun-Soo Kim is no longer an Oriole as he was dealt at the trade deadline as part of the Orioles 'pennant push' (try not to laugh at that). I scanned this one in the card sleeve so you could see that Kim is announcing to me that he's a variation! Good thing he told me, too because my card-ignorant ass would never have known. 

Joe hit me with more Orioles, too. Some suffered from my scanner's aversion to bright white borders but these were fine:

Shiny Bowman sluggers. I only realized in the last year that Bowman isn't all rookies/minor league prospects.

Brooksie Panini Diamond King. Sweet card. I sure wish they had a license.


University of Houston alum Michael Bourn. His Oriole career ended before it started with a hand injury. I had him a few years back in fantasy so this one will bump the old one. Orioles card--->any other card.


Added value bonus! A pic I found of Jim Holton from the 80s on getty. Him, his wife and kid are wearing the caps he was awarded for his International competition appearances with Scotland. Groovy, yes?


Thanks for the cards, Joe. And I'll have another Shlabotnik-centric post this week.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Show Haul II

Here is the second and final installment of 'Stuff from the Hotel Show'. Pales in comparison to what's been posted around the blogs and on Twitter after the National show but that's fine by me. If the National show ever finds its way back down my way I'll hit it up. 

I already have a 1970 Xographs/Kelloggs Brooks card but in case I ever decide to put the set together I'll have one for that binder and my Brooks/Orioles binder. Like the rest of these this came out of the 10 for $6 bin. I used my credit to nab them. 


Xographs evolved into the company that made Sportflics cards a decade and a half later. But those things can't touch the 1970 Kelloggs cards.

Darrell had a huge stack of the '69 Topps Deckle Edge inserts. I wish I had picked up more but I'm certain that they will still be in the bin at his next show.  Topps used this Juan Marichal picture in their 1965 set.


This shot of Brooks is from 1965.

Hawk Harrelson in his A's uni and an airbrushed BoSox cap.


Deckle Edge #4..Luis Tiant. This set was notorious for misprinted cards.


I brought home this much loved 1957 Topps Orioles team card. It was like a homely, sad, lonely puppy at the pound begging for a home. Even though I already have multiples of it I couldn't have slept had I walked away from it.


This is what team cards should always be. Team pic on the front, info on the back. I don't care about Gatorade bath shots from the previous June.


"Pennant Winning Teams: 1944" That would be the Browns. Someone, maybe a kid in Catonsville or Towson, edited the roster on the back using two different pens. One day after I retire and have the time I'm going to do some research and break the code of the red and blue. I thought I had it figured out but Dick Williams' comings and goings with Baltimore complicated things to the point I gave up.


The roster as seen on the back of one of my better examples of this card. Topps dropped a comma before the name of the last player listed, Chuck Diering, making it seem as if he's a bat boy.

Here is the original photo of the '56 Orioles.


I don't have plans to ever chase the Topps World on Wheels set from the early '50s these were hard to pass up.


When I was in Springfield Massachusetts a couple of years ago the hotel we were staying at was hosting a Kaiser-Frazer owners convention. There were some really neat and unusual cars in the lot.






These last two items came from the last hotel show I went to, in June I think. They were stuck in a pocket of my backpack and I didn't remember them until I went thru my bag after last weekend's show. Kelloggs' Presidential stickers. I've read that there was a card set and a sticker set put out by Kelloggs in 1980. But I think the truth is that there were two different sticker sets. Beckett's 2016 Non-Sports catalog is useless in finding any info. It has nothing (but it does had about 35 small print pages devoted to trashy Bench Warmer cards) and I regret wasting my money on it.

Anyway, here are JFK and George Washington.


Everything else I picked up went out in PWEs and such. The next show rolls around at the end of September. I can't wait.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Card show haul




OK, 'haul' is a bit strong but it was a well spent two hours on Saturday. First thing I did was show the infamous OPC 1970s to show promoter/dealer friend Darrell who took them back and offered me full credit and then some. I used that at his cheap-o vintage tables to hit some other folks' want lists and scrounge some cheap vintage for myself.

I have great memories of the Post and Jello sets of the early 1960s. There were plenty of them available Saturday and I took about a half dozen. Since I have almost no issue with whatever shape these are in I could easily be persuaded to chase one of the sets.

The Don Mossi and these next three are from the 1962 set. I probably should have bought every one he had (at .50 apiece) but I wanted to grab a few other things I saw.

Daddy Wags Leon Wagner. The Angels should cut the foolishness and call themselves the Los Angeles Angels again just so they could go back to this cap.


Pinch hitter deluxe Smoky Burgess. Not cut very well but I always remember that I was one of the kids who loved to cut the cats apart after we finished the boxes.


I'm sure I have this card of Hoyt Wilhelm already but I grabbed it anyway. Hoyt was awarded the Purple Heart after serving during WWII and being wounded in the Battle of the Bulge.


This is a '61 Hector Lopez. I always liked him because my father did.


Not every card I bought was vintage. This shiny Bowman looks way better in hand.


PSA has graded 75 of these 1965 Topps Embossed Boog Powell cards as 'Mint 9'. This is not one.


I'll end this post with a '68 Dooley Womack. I once had the idea that I would put together a Ball Four 'set comprised of a card  of every player mentioned in the index of Jim Bouton's book. It would have been what bloggers now refer to as a 'frankenset' but back then nobody knew that term. I don't know why I never went through with the goofy notion. It would have been fun!


I'll post the rest of the show haul next time.