Tuesday, March 28, 2017

WHA Hall of Fame cards

I've been on a Houston Aeros/WHA kick lately. I think it began with Shane posting a Gord Labossiere card on his Shoebox Legends blog. He ended up sending me a dupe of that card and in the meantime I've been chasing Aeros cards from 1970's sets.

I also came across the WHA Hall of Fame site. I had no idea such a thing existed. The museum has an online store and one of the items intrigued me. It was this small (10 card) set that included a couple of Aeros cards. One being the Mark and Marty Howe card shown. At $5 each the set is a bargain and I bought a couple.

Having the Howe clan play in Houston was a big deal at the time. As the card notes the father/sons combo was a pro sports first. Now that the minor league version of the Aeros has moved on there is very little hockey awareness in the city outside of a midtown hockey bar my sons and I frequent and maybe a Stanley Cup Finals watch party around town depending on who is playing.

Ron Grahame is the other Aeros card in the set. He followed Don 'Smokey' McLeod as an Avco World Cup winning goalie in Houston. I once got him to sign an Aeros' program at a 'Meet the Players' event. His success here wasn't a fluke. He played well in a stint with the Bruins after leaving Houston.

The set also included a card of the Avco World Cup, the WHA's championship trophy. I have a good friend who was working for Foley's, Houston major department store at the time. The morning or so after the Aeros won their first title he passed by the store's loading dock and there sat, all alone and unattended, the trophy. It was destined for an in-store promotion/celebration for fans that day. Meanwhile the huge shiny thing was bidding it's time about five feet from the busy downtown sidewalk traffic along Dallas Street. I always told him he should have just lifted it and put it in his car. What a souvenir that would have been! Hard to picture the Stanley Cup in that situation.

This promo from the WHA-HoF shows the whole set and saves me from scanning them all.

The other famous WHA trio is also pictured on a card. The Winnipeg Jets' "Hot Line" of Ulf Nilsson, Bobby Hull and Anders Hedberg is shown together on this one.

This past fall the Jets honored their WHA heritage with a night honoring that trio.

The WHA was a blast back in the day. I'm having fun putting together a checklist/wantlist of Aeros cards. It's great to have a project.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Two Hockey Greats

When Shane posted his "I treated myself" 1957 Parkhurst Jacques Plante on his Shoebox Legends blog three weeks ago I said to myself "Self, you need that card."

And I went out and found one. It's not quite as nice as Shane's copy appears to be but it's not bad at all. This is the only time I've ever seen Plante referred to as 'Jake'.

Plante of course is the first guy to routinely wear a goalie mask in the NHL. That began with an injury he suffered in 1959 at Madison Square Garden. I hadn't realized it was the result of a feud he had with Andy Bathgate. The story is written up here if you're interested. I was a young hockey fan having seen my first live NHL game about that time and I recall the huge deal that was made of Plante's mask in the New York media. 

There are some wonderful Parkie Plante cards. Check them out. I may have to pick up another one or two at some point.

I hate stepping on Shane's toes with a posting of a card he recently showed so I'll also add a scan of a card I had stuck away in a binder with hockey inserts and oddballs. It's a '76-'77 OPC Gordie Howe. I decided not long ago to try chasing Houston Aeros cards. I was happy to find that I already owned this one. The bad news is that I had already purchased another one since I hadn't found it in my hockey stars binder. Ouch.

Looks like being off-center is more the rule than the exception on these.

My Aeros collection is off to a nice start, btw. I got a COMC delivery today and last week I got a small oddball set from the WHA Hall of Fame. Once I update my wantlist I'll post it.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Bobby Locke Additions

Well if I'm gonna be a Bobby Locke 'supercollector' I might as well dive in head first. I added a couple of items via eBay last week. Neither is spectacular but both are pretty cool.

First is a Jay Publishing B&W 5x7 from 1961. Jay's put out these photos as well as un-official yearbooks for a bunch of teams back then. The photos were sold in 'packs' at stadium concession stands. I remember buying them at Manny's Basebals Land across the street from Yankee Stadium as a kid. 

Next, a 1967 Seattle Popcorn card. These were stadium giveaways that came with a box of popcorn at Seattle's Sick Stadium. The Seattle Angels were an affiliate of the Angels in those days and Locke was up-and-down between the majors and minors. The card is about the size of Topps '75 minis and the ones that they stuck in some packs of '17 Heritage. .

The Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards says the year can be determined by the list of sponsors on the back.

The Seattle Popcorn series ran from 1954 through 1968. Here is the SCBC entry for them:

Locke has a few more oddballs floating around out there. I don't have the time or energy to track them down at the moment but over time I will probably find them. It's fun to have a project.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Somebody needs these

I frequently go through bloggers' wantlists to see if I might have anything they are looking for. I know most of you do this. Sometimes I see something that may help fill someone's needs that is close at hand. I keep a lot of my vintage dupes and other more current cards that I have no need for in storage boxes under a daybed our cat's lounging platform in my home office.

But sometimes I'm pretty sure I have an item stowed away in my hobby closet. Those take some digging to find and in that case I make a note to remind myself to look for it the next time I venture into the holy hell that is my storage area. I do the same thing with items I see that other people blog about that have peaked my interest.

A couple of weeks (months) ago I stuck this Post-it on my monitor:

I know it's not an 'I need to buy these' note because I finished the '63 Fleer set a year or two ago. And I ended up with a bunch of dupes. This morning I ventured into my closet in search of something else and came across my Fleer dupes and pulled out the Aspromonte and Pearson. So now I can fill someone(s) needs!

Except for one big problem. I failed to note whose wantlist(s) prompted me to make that note. I have the feeling that the two cards are sought by different people because I clearly added Pearson's name after I made the note with the Aspromonte. I've sort of half-assed it checking some blogs and I can't find the right one. Maybe whoever needed them has already filled the slots. But maybe not.

So I ask you...is either (or both) of these cards on your wantlist? If so get in touch and I'll get them to you on my next post office run.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

PWE from Shane

I frequently lament the terrible luck I have in finding Orioles among the new card packs I open. I believe the lack of O's is the hobby gods' way of balancing out the great luck I have at finding cheap vintage at shows.

But I usually come up with the current Orioles cards thanks to boggers who ship them my way through the kindness of their hearts. One such shipment came from Shane who writes one of my favorite blogs, Shoebox Legends.

A couple were from the '17 Heritage set. First up the oft-injured Chris Tillman. If the Birds are to make any noise at all in the AL East CT needs to get back out on the mound and display the 'ace' characteristics he has flashed in the past.

While I'm at it I'm going to state right now that no team has done sleeve patches as well as the Orioles through the years. I think I need to do a post highlighting them soon.

Shane sent me the O's team card as well. The good news..it features the elusive (Topps-wise) Matt Wieters along with slugging stars Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo. The bad news? They are wearing those horrific black softball team jerseys. Oh, and Wieters is now on the Nats. Terrible. #fakenews

I'd love to see the Heritage team cards made with the 'team on the bleachers' style photos of old but they may or may not have access to them and it's possible that teams don't take them nowadays. Googling a couple different ways turned up a few from recent seasons but not as many as I thought it would.

Now with these two, the one I actually pulled last weekend and a few more I picked up here and there I'm at about seven '17 Heritage Orioles. 

I also received this '17 flagship Yovani Gallardo. Nice card, it works with the design but again, those jerseys! Sad. Very sad.

Gallardo came to the O's last season as a free agent signing. He had good numbers in '15 for the Rangers. Orioles paid him $9,000,000 for his six wins. That's 1.5 mil per win. I think I could get my knuckleball going again with a few weeks notice and maybe grab a win with the Orioles lineup behind me. Hell, it was a killer knuckleball 45 years ago, why not now? And I'd take half of that 1.5M for a win. If I made one start and got a win what would my WAR be? Hmmmm.

The O's flipped Gallardo to Seattle for Seth Smith over the winter. He'll probably win the Cy Young this year.

Finally Shane tossed in this hockey gem:

It's the 1972/73 OPC Gord Labossiere. Killer card for an Aeros/Rangers guy like me. I loved the WHA when the Aeros were in their heyday. Labossiere quickly became one of my favorite players, due mostly to the fact that he had a (brief) Rangers history.

I love everything about this card, the pick background and the way he mirrors the player in the Aeros' logo. That almost forgotten first year sweater makes it even more interesting. Shane picked up a second copy as an upgrade and was nice enough to ship this one to me.

I have very few cards from this set. I really need to chase down more. In fact, given the Aeros rather short lifespan and the absence of many cards made for the WHA, I bet I could round up all the mainstream Aeros cards produced. I have a nice stack already. I need to do more research.

Thanks again, Shane. I appreciate your gift and your writing!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Topps Bobby Locke PC

I never thought I would include Bobby Locke in my list of PCs but here he is. Before I pulled his autograph out of a Heritage pack I really had never given him much thought. I had his 1960 Topps card but I haven't featured it yet on that blog. He has no '58 or '59 cards so I had yet to do any looking into his career.

Locke appeared in five different Topps sets during his career. I picked up the ones I didn't have from eBay last week.

This is his 'rookie' card, the 1960. Pretty standard card with a portrait and a b/w 'action' pose. I'm 99% sure this is a picture taken in Municipal Stadium. Those windows over Locke's right shoulder look a lot like the ones in this one of Rocky Colavito.

The back is where this one shines (well it does to me, I love the 1960 cream/orange/black early series cardbacks. Locke had pitched for the Indians in 1959 after nearly five minor league seasons. The pix were likely taken that season.

Second year Bobby Locke, his 1961 card. It's a high number and cost more than the other put together. It's also my favorite. Note that the picture used is the same as the one in the 1960 'action' shot. more of those windows...Municipal Stadium. 

I'm not a fan of the green cardboard but you get full stats and two cartoons.

Now we are up to 1962. Same background. More than likely the same photo-shoot with the photographer getting his cap-less pic, just in case. With Locke now with the Cubs the cap-less shot came in handy. 

A nice play on his last name in the cartoon caption. Locke didn't make it out of Spring Training as a Cub. He had issues with the the weird 'College of Coaches' idea and he was dealt to the Cardinals in April. He was with them for three weeks before being traded to the Phils. He spent most of the season in the minors.

The '63 and '64 seasons were also mostly minor league years for Locke although he was around in September of '64 to watch the club blow it's big lead in the NL. After a couple of years off Topps' radar in October of '64 he was sold to the Angels. Topps pulled out their 'Locke' file and made him another card. He is listed with the Angels but he never played for them, at least in 1965. He was in the minors before he went to the Reds in a July deal. He pitched a bit in Cincinnati the second half of the year. 

He is obviously in his old Indians uni again here. Only the cap logo is scrubbed out. The pose is also exactly the same as his 1960 'action' shot. This picture is obviously from that same photo session. 

The '65 set rightfully holds a place dear to the hearts of many vintage collectors. It's about damn perfect.

After a couple more seasons spent mostly in the minors Locke appeared in the 1968 set. This is the same photo they'd used in 1962.  It's well within the range of possibility that Topps issued five separate Locke cards over the course of nine years using the pictures taken at one 1959 photo shoot!

He'd returned to the Angels' organization about a year after they had traded him to the Reds and in 1968 he pitched in 29 games, easily his most since 1961. Topps crammed a lot onto the backs of these '68s.

I have two more Locke cards from Topps. This is the 2017 signed Heritage done in the '68 style.

And I picked up another version of the '68, a buyback issued in 2015.

So that's my Bobby Locke 'rainbow'. I know that's not the right term for whatever you call a complete run of a guy's cards but whatever. Bobby turned 83 earlier this month. Here's to many more years of health and happiness with his family.

I found a few other Bobby Locke items including a couple of cool minor league oddballs. Those will hold for another day. Here is a montage of his Topps cardback cartoons:

Let's wrap this up with a handful of off-the-wall facts I found on his SABR bio page.:...

  • He debuted in the big leagues with a starting assignment against the Boston Red Sox on June 18 [1959], and in his second at-bat he hit his only major-league home run, a three-run shot off Frank Sullivan over Fenway Park’s Green Monster wall in left field. 
  • Locke was born on March 3, 1934, in the little town of Rowes Run in the rough mining country of Southwestern Pennsylvania about 40 miles southwest of Pittsburgh. He was one of ten kids in the family.
  • [In high school] he played fullback and defensive back in football and made several all-star teams. He excelled in baseball as a pitcher, throwing two no-hitters and averaging 13 strikeouts a game. His 1952 team went undefeated, and he pitched a one-hitter with 13 strikeouts to win the state championship. Locke played in the Sandlot Classic at the Polo Grounds in New York City as a member of the 1952 USA Baseball All-Star team.
  • Locke accepted a football scholarship to Arizona State University but returned home to focus on baseball early in his first gridiron season.
You can read the rest here.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Bad Ideas

OK, I'm the 99 Cent store on Monday (everyone does that on their first day of Spring Break, right?) and as soon as I walk in I see a display of these:

Yup, Root Beer flavored Pop Tarts. C'mon man! I'm guessing that these didn't sell well in the regular groceries since there were so many 99 cent boxes available Monday. I'm thinking that two folks at Kellogg's lost their jobs over this....the person in R&D who dreamed them up and the dumbass in Battle Creek who signed off on them. 

Late last year I was in there and they had Maple Bacon flavor. I can almost understand Maple Bacon Pop Tarts, but Root Beer? Nope. That was a bad idea.

A little later I saw this display:

Look, I'm not a wine snob. I enjoy it at Italian restaurants but as a regular thing, I'll pass. But even I know that buying wine at the 99 Cent Store is probably undoubtedly a bad idea. Yes, the bottles were mostly $2.99 and $3.99 but still. 

Sidebar: My wife and I attended a friend's wine/dinner party a few weekends back. Everyone was supposed to bring a bottle of wine and tell the rest of the guests the story behind it. I kid you not. We brought a bottle of the stuff we served at my son and daughter-in-laws' rehearsal dinner last spring. Everyone seemed to like it. It wasn't from a bag or a box, It was like $17 a bottle. And that was the story......"We served this at our son and daughter-in-laws' rehearsal dinner last spring. The End". Other folks' stories mostly involved being served this particular wine at a Chef's Table experience in France, being given a bottle by the Prime Minister of Bolivia, discovering a wine on a bicycle tour of Napa Valley vineyards, and so on and so forth. To paraphrase the immortal George Gobel...that party was a tuxedo and my wife and I were a pair of brown shoes. /Sidebar

All that is a long way around to the subject of this post....the bad idea I had later on Monday....

Heritage isn't the bad idea...me buying it is. Hey, I like the cards just fine. I got a nice autograph out of my first purchase but I have no need to buy a hanger box of something I'm not going to collect. But like the guy in Battle Creek who knew in his heart that Root Beer Pop Tarts was a stupid concept I went ahead with buying that box.

I actually did OK with the 20 cards I got. First of all I had no dupes. That's unusual for me. Normally I buy a pack of something and a month later buy another one and half the cards are dupes.

Second of all I got this card:

It was the first one in the cello I think. And it instantly made me think of this card:

Well done Topps! A Heritage that mimics the original set. I suspect a lot of the '17 Heritage are supposed to. I like when it's pretty obvious.

I also got this which is supposed to be some kind of disk.But it's square which sort of ruins the effect. It would make a cool button and I may use the button maker at work to try it. Maybe not.

I don't know why my scanner makes these game cards square. And cuts off the top. I tried a couple of times with the same result.

Most shocking of all was the fact that I got an Oriole!!! My only out-of-a-pack Oriole for 2017. Mike Bourn is out awhile with a broken finger but he's an Oriole! Plus he's a Houston Cougar. Doubly nice.

I'm showing Buster Posey just to see if Night Owl reads this far.

And I'm showing Hernan Perez because the Photoshop'd pic with him in front of that sky makes him appear to be in one of those '3-D Jesus' pictures my wife's grandmother had on her wall in San Antonio.

Yea, this one...

And finally I'm showing the Sean Doolittle card because it's a mini. I didn't know they were doing minis. Chris Carter is there for perspective. And because if he swings he's not likely to hit anything.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Nostalgia Is A Helluva Drug

I worked at the Houston Post newspaper from about 1971 or 1972 until 1991. I left to do other things during that time but I kept coming back, working part-time or full. Sometimes just as a summer fill-in and sometimes as a second job. I loved the Post. Especially during the years the paper was owned by the Hobby family, one of Texas' most distinguished. The Hobbys sold the paper in 1983 and it was never the same.

The Post passed on to the Great Press Room In The Sky in 1995 leaving behind a quirky building and a lot of upset employees who had been given no warning of the closure. But I digress.

I have a few mementos of my time there....some pencils, stationary and this comic-sized booklet intended to be used in schools through the Post's Newspaper in the Classroom Program. It was printed in 1972-ish and features a two page spread on each U.S. President through Richard Nixon. I'd forgotten all about it until I was clearing my work desk drawers last week. It's printed on stock that is about one step up from standard newsprint. 

It's discolored over the years but it's not fragile like a regular 45+ year-old newspaper would be, I was reluctant at first to scan the thing because I figured that folding back the pages and pressing it to the platen would damage it. But It seems none the worse for wear now that I'm done.

The cover:

The graphic wraps around to the back cover:

The Presidential Seal is awesome. Makes me wish we still had a president.

I stuck GW's portrait up at the top. Appears to be the same portrait as is seen on the dollar bill.  I took a photo of the JFK spread for perspective.

Here is GW's 'fact page'/bio. It's funny how a some pages have aged differently than others. The discoloration is slight with some but others have turned a much darker shade of orange/brown. I'd guess that two different qualities of newsprint were used to print this and combined in the collating process.

Honest Abe. He lost the popular vote and yet went on to become arguably our greatest President. Sigh.

I don't think any President has led a more diverse and entertaining life than Teddy Roosevelt. Public Service Announcement: Read This Book.

My man, LBJ:

The last President in the publication is Richard Milhous Nixon. Another fascinating and complex character. A few years ago I watched a lecture on the 1968 election and how George Wallace's presence siphoned off votes that likely would have put Hubert Humphrey in the White House. How would Viet Nam have played out? No Watergate? It was pretty interesting.

Back to the Post. This is the building as seen in my time there:

The building inside was as interesting as it appeared from the outside. We called it the 'Castle'. The Houston Chronicle bought the Post properties many years ago. They immediately began using the presses but it wasn't until a few years ago that they moved their main offices from their downtown Houston location to the Post building southwest of town. They then put their name on the outside. I drive by often but I can't even look at it now. In the 70's there was a real rivalry between the two papers, the Chronicle was our 'enemy'. I've been reading the Chronicle since the Post died but I've never gotten over that. LOL

Lastly a note about a memorable day at work. In May of 1976 a tanker truck fillied with liquid ammonia was speeding through the elevated interchange of US 59 and the 610 Loop right outside the Post building. It crashed thru the guardrail on the upper ramp and crashed. I'll never forget being herded upstairs to the third floor but not before telling my drivers (I was Ad Services dispatcher then) not to return to the building. I had them take their company-owned delivery vehicles and head home.

Here are a few pics I found and following them is a video done by my late friend Judd McIlvain who was a reporter at KHOU back then.

You can't see our building in the first one but it's behind the elevated freeway ramps.

The Pearl distributor was across the Loop and a block south from us. The Post would be just off to the right.

It was a hell of an explosion. Shook the building something fierce and broke this concrete pillar.

There's the Post  between the pillars in these next two pics.

Here's the KHOU video. If you've read this far thanks for indulging me on my trip down memory lane.