Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Morning Joe

What you see above is the result of an artistic attempt by someone (me) without even the tiniest bit of artistic/graphic talent who is limited to the use of MSPaint and MSPublisher. 😩 If you don't catch the reference then you (inexplicably) don't read The Shlabotnik Report, one of the more fun card related blogs around. 

'Joe' does terrific customs and includes them as 'prizes' in his equally awesome custom cereal boxes. It's a unique and fun project that I really enjoy. His most recent edition came this past Sunday but there are plenty more which you can find all along his feed. You can see all his custom cards grouped together here and here. Fun stuff, no?

Anyway as I returned to blogging recently I moaned that I had very little new material. I mentioned that I might have to dig through some old boxes to find things long hidden away. I've done that before. But rather than be subjected to my posting about yellowing 1984 All Star ballots and various crappy K-Mart boxed sets Joe sent me a PWE with more interesting cards. And for that I thank him. And I'll show them off here.

First up...a 1979 O-Pee-Chee Doug DeCinces. DeCinces, the one time heir apparent to Brooks Robinson in Baltimore, had a nice career with the Orioles and Angels from 1973 thru 1987. 

I have a straight run of all the main stream Orioles cards from 1954 to 1990 (Topps, Bowman, Fleer, etc). But I love adding this type of 'variation'. I have a few OPCs from back in the day but not this '79 DeCinces. It goes in the back of my Orioles '75-'79 binder.

Next up...three Bowmans. First is a 2016 Chris Davis. Davis is one of those guys who just looks cool on a baseball card. That's weird I know but every Davis card I have is pretty sharp. Even the ones with less than stellar designs. I happen to like this Bowman design more than the '16 Topps.

This Trey Mancini Bowman is also a 2016. Must be from a differnt set though as it has a different design. I have absolutely no insight into the machinations that lie behind modern sets. It's a welcome card anyway. Mancini made a splash at the end of the 2016 season for Baltimore. He got called up in mid-September and hit a homer in his first three starts. He's only the third player in history to do that. I'm not sure he's going to have a spot on the O's opening day roster though.

Chance Sisco, seen here on another '16 Bowman, is the Orioles catcher 'of the future', or so I'm told. If, as has been whispered, Matt Wieters resigns with Baltimore and splits catching/DH duties with Wellington Castillo, then Sisco is sure to end up with another season at AAA or lower.

Joe put a few Donruss in the envelope and these two represent the 'Alpha and Omega' of modern Donruss efforts. That Manny Machado is not nearly as obviously a unlicensed card. The Ripken photo was been altered with thick black lines covering much of the orange of his uni. But it still goes into the Ripken section of my Orioles stars binder. (Manny has a slot, too)

Adam Jones Diamond King. Another card altered to exclude logos and colors but it's actually a pretty cool card overall. Diamond Kings featured artwork (then done by Dick Perez) back in the day and I guess they still do.

2002 Jerry Hairston. Hairston's tenure with the Orioles (1998-2004) fell within my self-imposed exile from baseball. He was still playing as a semi-regular with the Dodgers as late as 2013. Live and learn.

Finally, a card of Rafael de Silva from his Man U time. He's since moved on to play in France. I don't have nearly enough Manchester United cards. Kind of a weird shot. Looks like he's doing the mannequin challenge. Happy to add it to my rather slim soccer binder.

There you have it. Cards from Joe Shlabotnik that prevented, at least for a time, my dragging out some dusty 80's material. Thanks, Joe!!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

RIP Alan Rosen aka 'Mr. Mint'

I learned the other day that Alan "Mr. Mint" Rosen died this week at the age of 70. Rosen was probably undeniably the most well known dealer/buyer/investor in the history of the hobby. He made a name for himself with huge ads in all the hobby publications. Pictures of him waving his wads of $100 bills were all over the place. He claimed to be the 'best known face' in the hobby and I have no doubt about that. 

Back in the halcyon days of this hobby you couldn't walk into a major show without seeing Rosen and his huge 'BUYING" signs front and center. His persona and 'shtick' rubbed a lot of folks the wrong way but there is no denying that he would be deserving of a spot on the hobby's Mt. Rushmore. If you have any doubts check out his website, in particular the "major finds" page.

I had one encounter with Rosen. Back in the mid 80's I was sitting on a stash of Cal Ripken rookies I'd picked up for probably a dime each. I used to buy 400 count boxes of Orioles 'commons' when the hobby was exploding with cards and companies. At the time I had no clue what my motivation was (and I still don't). But when Ripken rookie mania struck I was happy that I had done so. I had dozens of his Fleer and Donruss '82 rookies to say noting of the 50 card plastic 'cube' nearly filled with his true Topps rookie and many of the Update set 'rookie'.

About that time I had decided (with a wife, three little kids and a house note) to quit my company which provided services to the airlines and go back to school to get my teaching/coaching certificate. I was looking at three semesters of a reduced income and paying tuition costs. Those Ripkens looked like a way to make my transition back to being a college student again much less harrowing financially.

I took them to a big card show at the AstroArena next to the Dome one Friday and went straight to Rosen's table. He went through the cards and made me an offer. I can't remember what he quoted me but both he and the offer made me dizzy. I told him I'd think it over. I went back the next day and talked to the show promoter who was a dealer I knew well. He sent me to another table and I ended up selling most of the Ripkens to that second dealer. I can't remember exactly what I got in that deal but it was over three grand. I remember calling my wife and she told me to take the money straight to the bank before I lost it. LOL I really think she was afraid I'd spend it on other cards.

I found the following story online some time back and had been saving it for a future post. Now's the time. I've never heard of the movie mentioned but I may have to check to see if it's available on Netflix. The details pretty much sum up Rosen and his outrageous style.

New film has hobby's 'Mr. Mint' steaming mad 

July 09, 2008
Baseball card collecting is one of the dominant themes in the new motion picture, "Diminished Capacity," but not everyone associated with the hobby is thrilled by how card dealers are portrayed in the film.
In the movie, a Chicago journalist suffering from memory loss (played by Matthew Broderick) takes leave from his job and returns to his rural hometown, where he bonds with his Alzheimer's-impaired uncle Rollie (played by Alan Alda) and his old flame (Virginia Madsen). The trio heads to a card show in the city, where Rollie hopes to sell a rare baseball card that has gained the attention of some collectors intent on scheming the old man out of a potential fortune.
The notion of dealers trying to pay as little as possible for valuable cards has been used before in the movies (as in the 1999 film "Blast From The Past"), but in this film, the primary no-good dealer character goes by the name "The Mint-Mint Man," a parody of well-known vintage card dealer Alan "Mr Mint" Rosen. The Mint-Mint Man's show display features a photo of him fanning out a wad of cash, similar to images Rosen has used for years to promote himself at shows.
Director Terry Kinney told the New York Daily News that The Mint-Mint Man's sign and nickname were inspired by a research trip to a card show, where he saw Rosen's "Mr. Mint" booth and his trademark wads-of-dough portrait. Rosen told the Daily News that he wasn't happy with the suggestion that he operates in the same way as the character in the movie.
"They ripped off my persona, my character," Rosen told the paper. "I have a corny act, like a pro wrestling character, that I spent many years and millions of dollars establishing, and they stole it from me." Rosen said he contacted an attorney to see if there was a legal avenue to pursue, but his attorneys told him he didn't have a case. "They portray the character as dishonest and that bothers me," Rosen says. "I am 100 percent honest. I don't take advantage of old men like the guy in the movie. I'm a huckster, but I'm also an honest guy."
EDIT: Here is the IMDB page for Diminished Capacity. Looks to be available thru Amazon Video for those so inclined.

And here's a pic of "the Mint-Mint Man' character played by Bobby Cannevale. It comes from another story I found about the movie on SCD's website.


All you really need to know and Alan Rosen is that he had his own bobblehead and beanie baby!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Dipping (Stubbing?) My Toe In

With a bit of prodding from my better half and a few others I'm going to give this blogging thing a go again. That's not entirely accurate since I've done some posting on my 1958 Topps blog. But as far as this place goes, well, I've been gone a couple of months.

I'd like to tell you I feel different than I did the day I signed off but I'd be lying. I also would like to tell you that I have a ton of new stuff to show off but that wouldn't be true either. I've picked up very little other than 58's and I haven't been to a card show in months. I'll remedy the latter issue when TriStar hits Houston next month. 

By far the best thing I've added recently was this 1952 Star Cal Billy Pierce decal. These babies are just great vintage oddball items. I picked this one up for around $30 I think which is a good price though certainly not a 'steal'. 

This is my second Pierce Star Cal. Almost three years ago I nabbed the Pierce/Nellie Fox version. Those with two players are known as 'small' while the single player decals are referred to as 'large'. When I blogged that Pierce/Fox version I dug up a lot of info on these things so if you are interested you should check that post out

Somehow I didn't even have this large Pierce on my checklist so I never really thought to search for it. It just popped up on my general eBay Billy Pierce search one night and I grabbed it. Frankly I'd have paid a good bit more had I needed to. The prices for these are all over the map, by the way. If you are a Yankee fan there is a nice Rizzuto/Coleman without the envelope on eBay right now for under $20. That would be a much better way to spend $20 than on a Chromilated-Refactorized-Diecut Gary Sanchez card. 

My Pierce is in about the same shape you find the majority of these things in. They are kind of fragile and through the years many have yellowed a bit and the envelopes had a tendency to tear. 

Here is mine in the envelope as I received it. Looked to me that it had never been opened and it about killed my soul to remove it but I was careful. The glue barely needed any persuading to allow the flap to open. 

Here is the back of the envelope complete with suggestions on where to apply them. I can just see myself  using the 'Frame on wall with colored tape' idea in our living room. But really I was thinking about how cool this Pierce would have looked on the back window of my Dad's '56 Studebaker Golden Hawk back in the day.

The back of the decal itself:

It actually scanned better than I thought it would.

The envelope without the decal reveals the checklist. The numbering system corresponds to the different teams. 70A thru 70F are Yankees. the 71 sequence decals are Red Sox, etc. The 'small' (two player) versions pick up the numbering. Interestingly there are a few quirks to the checklist vs. the actual decals. There is a Jerry Staley decal listed as 81G on some checklists but it is not on the envelope list. The small Ned Garver (which is two pics of him) is listed in the same numbering sequence as the decals containing Philadelphia Athletics. I don't know the full story on these obviously.

And finally here is my Pierce/Fox version. It's actually the same size as the 'large' Pierce but the scan runs off the column when I use the XL setting. 

So that's it. I'm back, more or less. We'll just have to see how things go. I won't have a lot of stuff to post here until I get to a show probably. BTW...I need only the Mickey Mantle card to complete my '58 Topps set. If you have an extra send it my way will ya?