Tuesday, February 27, 2018

You Gotta Have Faith

This is a 1960 Topps Venezuelan Billy Pierce. At least I believe it is. Unlike some of the other late 50s/early 60s sets that were distributed in that South American country the 1960 bunch had no identifying markings to distinguish it from it's US cousins.And it doesn't have a different color back like the '64 ones do.

The 1960 Venezuelan set is marked as 'PRTD. IN U.S.A.' along the right edge on the back and the reverse is all in English. The guides say that the cards have a lack of gloss which is sometimes helpful in distinguishing them. But sometimes not.

The scan makes the edges look better than they are, at least in the scan of the front. You get a clearer picture of the condition in the back scan.

I found this one on eBay not long ago and it was really cheap. Considering that it was the first example I've come across in my years of looking I was happy to nab it even in poor condition. Actually it's hard to find any of these in decent shape.

Truth be told if it was in better shape I'd be less inclined to believe it was actually a Venezuelan card. A high percentage of them I see for sale look a lot like this one.

Pierce was on two other cards released by Topps for the Venezuelan market. His 1964 (see below) and the 1959 Ace Hurlers #156 he shares with Robin Roberts. That one is another card I've never seen. The '64 Venezuelan is always on eBay, so much so that I've had to filter it out of my saved eBay search.

Here's a look at it, front and (black ink) back.

On a semi-related note I've discovered that the 1962 Shirriff Billy Pierce coin I've also been hunting forever was never issued. It was one of the 21 coins that were issued in the US by Salada but left out of Shirriff's Canadian version. The fact that it's included in checklists on the Trading Card Database and many other sites has been a false lead I've followed for years. 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

1911 T-201 Mecca Double Folder 'Chief' Bender

Sometimes you have to compromise. I dearly love adding vintage cards to my small but much loved Charles 'Chief' Bender* collection. But I'm just not willing to pay the asking price for graded and slabbed cards. 

I found this 1911 Mecca Double Folder on eBay and the price was right. Chief shares it with his A's teammate Rube Oldring. Bender was a big part of five World Series clubs in Philadelphia between 1995 and 1914. Oldring played on three of those teams. Bender won three titles, Oldring two.

This is such a wonderful set. Players generally share a card with a teammate. Here is a short description of the set and the star-laden checklist. The 'back' of the card has both players' 1910 stats. I like how Bender's pitching numbers are labeled as 'Field' and they also list his hitting stats. Also interesting is the fact that home runs are not listed but stolen bases are. It was a different game back then. Oldring was second in the league in dingers in 1915...with 6!

Here is Oldring's side of the card. An outfielder, he played for 13 seasons in the majors beginning and ending with short stints with the Giants and Yankees. But the bulk of his time was with the A's. He hit .270 for his career and twice finished in the top ten in hitting including 1910 which was his best season at the plate..

BTW...don't be fooled by the scan. The corners on my card are in decent shape but they are not as perfebt as my scanner made them out to be. I have a couple other of Bender's cards targeted but as with this one I'll wait for the right card at the right price.

*=I cringe a bit whenever I type 'Chief' but that's what he is widely known as throughout his baseball life. Although he usually used  his given name when signing autographs he at least tacitly accepted his nickname.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Icee Bear Hoops Stars

Remember that time you threw a pot luck dinner and your cousin brought a bag of store-bought mini donuts? That's cousin is me whenever I post basketball cards in the middle of Topps new set release season. I get a funny look from most people and then they move on to the bloggers who found the advance copy of the new Gypsy Queen checklist.

But then there are the two people at the party who LOVE store-bought mini donuts. So I'm posting for them today.

I'm nearly done with the '72 Icee Bear set. Added several of the more costly stars in recent weeks. I don't look at a ton of basketball cards so I can't say offhand if many cards listed this guy as "Kareem Jabbar". I almost never see anything but the full "Kareem Abdul Jabbar".  Sometimes hyphenated, sometimes not.

Interesting picture as are most in this set.

Wilt's card is a completely different style of photo than the others in the set. I think that's one of the things that got me interested in these things...20 cards with almost as many different types of photos.

Check out the Icee Bear Fact on Wilt's card. He was ROY, MVP, ASG MVP and the league scoring and rebounding leader in 1959/60. Not a bad year.  At 7' 1" and 275 lbs. he'd have made a helluva tight end if he had taken up football.

I hardly have any John Havlicek cards which is surprising because I was a big fan of his and the Celtics growing up. My kids have a hard time believing that but it's true. 

Anyway check out this great piece of NBA history. "Havlicek Stole The Ball!!! It's All Over!!!" Oh that Johnny Most call is fun.

I had a friend who was a fan of the Lakers and in particular Jerry West. We got into some big debates over who the best NBA guard was. I always took up for Oscar Robertson. He never backed down from his Jerry West argument.

Pistol Pete Maravich is the only card I've picked up with a noticeable flaw. The stain along the bottom left is also on the reverse. I can live with it as it brought the price down quite a bit.

The 1971 Topps set used the same photo..with a different but equally fake background. Interesting that the Icee Bear card has washed out colors, at least for the jersey.

And finally here is The Hawk, Connie Hawkins. He almost never smiles.

EDIT: I just realized that I posted this card not long ago after I got it at the TriStar show. That's OK, you can never get too much Hawk goodness.

I think this is the same photo as the one on the '72 Topps. 

The rest of the set (there are twenty in all) is now in my sights. Once I'm done I will be able to concentrate on the '70-'71 Topps basketball set. I have a baseball project lined up to follow that one though.

Have another donut why don't you?

Monday, February 19, 2018

Happy Presidents Day

If you have the day off I hope you are enjoying it. Here are a few presidential items I have in my collection.


Friday, February 16, 2018

'58 All Star Program

I thought that the 1958 All Star Game program I bought at the recent TriStar show was worth a closer look. I'm just going to post some highlights rather than very page. I don't want anyone nodding off while I indulge my love for old publications!

As with so many of these types of vintage items the cover is the best thing about it. I have a hunch that the player/ump illustration was based on a photo. I tried to find the original picture via Google and Getty Images with no luck. Of course it likely wasn't originally a shot of an Oriole player sliding to tracking it down was a dead end from the start.

The covers shown were scanned but the inside pages are pics I took. I learned the hard way that pressing these vintage paper pieces onto a scanner platen is a mistake. 

Commish Ford Frick welcomes us to the '58 ASG with an inspirational message. I hadn't realized that this was the 25th annual game. There was no ASG in 1945. '58 was the last of the 'one game' All Star breaks for awhile. From 1959 thru 1961 they played two each year.

The old ads in these can be a hoot. Check out the one for Alan Ameche's place. I could go for a Powerhouse burger myself right about now.

The longest feature on the book was this article on the first ASG.

Cameos of the managers. They had faced off in the '57 World Series and would do so again that fall.

Bob Maisel was a legend in Baltimore baseball writing. His father Fritz was a player for the Yankees and Browns.

Unlike modern programs the ones back in the day were published locally and very close to the game. That meant you would find the actual elected squads pictured. The AL lineup had a local guy, Gus Triandos.

The original owner of the program kept score! It wasn't as hard to score an ASG back them. Managers didn't feel the need to sub in every player available.  It's hard to see in the pic but the scorer listed Al Kaline as entering the game for the NL(!) in the 9th. I thought it was just his/her quirky way of noting subs but you can see that Lee Walls was entered correctly.

BTW...if you check the entry for this game on Baseball Reference you'll see that Haney only used three position players from his bench.

This NL starting group was pretty stout! In all there were 9 future Hall of Famers in the starting lineups.

All the reserves got a photo included on a page similar to this one. Hey, I spy Billy Pierce!

This is a nice way to fill a page. "Hall of Fame Candidates" indeed!

Some of the NL reserves. Spahnie got the start making him the 9th Hall guy.

Old fashioned line scores and batteries from the previous 24 ASGs bring up the rear of the program.

Check out the Rolex featured in the Stieff Company ad. Only $125 for a Rolie! Plus the band of course. I'm from Baltimore but I don't remember the Stieff Company being a big thing. Seems it was.

And finally the back cover presented by Gunther Beer! Now Gunther I remember. Their ad was on top of the old scoreboard at Memorial Stadium. The company is long gone but the brewery was made into a fancy apartment building.

Ernie Harwell was in his fifth year as an Orioles broadcaster. He moved on to the Tigers after the 1959 season. Herb Carnel was in his second season as Harwell's partner. He stayed through the beginning of Chuck Thompson's time as lead man in the Orioles booth.

In addition to this '58 program I picked up yhe '93 issue. I may post that soon. Much bigger and fancier but it can't compare to the '58 in nostalgic charm.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Best Thing About Card Shows....

...is enjoying them with friends, both old and new. I hit up the TriStar show here in Houston this past weekend. I thought it was one of the better shows they've had in awhile. That may be because there didn't seem to be the huge autograph lines that I've encountered in the past. Mostly I think it was the quality of the dealers in attendance.

And I mentioned friends. I met up with Bru who pens the entertaining Remember The Astrodome blog. Great guy and I enjoyed talking collections as we walked. If you check his latest blog entries you'll see he did pretty well at the show. Local collectors like him had a real bonanza of Astros 'stuff'' to drool over. Winning a title does that. I'd like to hit a Baltimore area show one day. I'd probably go broke.

I also bumped into one of oldest friends. Bobby has by far the best collection of vintage cards I've ever seen. He's considering selling off a chuck of it and it was fun to watch the dealers go bug-eyed when he showed them what he had in his case.

As for me..well this was one of those rare shows that I left without having bought a single baseball card. But I did end up with this:

I've had this 1958 All Star program on my want list for many years. I never seemed to be able to find on in decent condition with a price tag I could live with. One of the show dealers had a terrific variety of vintage publications, and what a display it was. I paid dearly for this but he also had a '93 ASG program so I made him an offer on the pair. He accepted without counter-offering which makes me think I could have gone lower but it was worth the cost.

Both programs came with ticket stubs from the games. Pretty good selling point!

I'm going to do a separate post on the '58 program so I'll save the details for that one. But there was more at the show than just programs.....

Bro surprised me with a sweet 8x10 of Milt Pappas. My collection of Orioles photos needs to see the light of day so Bru's gift (he got it in a lot of pics at an estate sale) inspired me to snag a box of binder pages for them. One of my retirement projects is to organize my photos. I love the fact that this one was taken at Yankee Stadium where I saw so many Orioles games as a kid. That's Herm Starrette in the background.

Next to the programs my biggest purchase was a stack of '70/'71 Topps basketball cards. One dealer had multiples of most every common and some SPs in wonderful condition. His prices were reasonable so I knocked about 50 cards from my wantlist.

It's a weird and wonderful set full of odd poses, reversed jerseys,dopey expressions and tons of color. I love it. I'll just post a handful here.

Jim Barnes as an Olympic gold medal winner with the US team in 1964 and led an interesting if somewhat tragic life.

He bounced around the NBA and carried with him the nickname of 'Bad News'. I love that Topps used it for his cartoon in this set.

Here's a closer look:

Nate Thurmond may be the most overlooked star in NBA history. He could flat out play. When I was coaching my sons in youth basketball one of the opposing coaches came over after a game and said "Your big boy rebounds like Nate Thurmond!" When he said that I knew the guy knew his hoops.

This is one crazy card though. 

Gus Johnson was a fun guy to watch. He played for the Bullets when I was a fan of the club and would fly down the key and rattle the rim with slams. He was like Connie Hawkins with a bit less 'flash'.

And again Topps did a great job with the cartoon.

Behold! "Gus has a gold tooth."

Topps also threw in actual un-retouched photos like this one. Like I said, a weird set!

I also came one card closer to finishing off my 1972 Icee Bear NBA set. The Hawk looking very badass.

My last purchase was a spur of the moment thing. One of the bigger private signing outfits always has a large table at TriStar shows and sometimes sells off excess merchandise at good prices. I have a rather tattered copy of the actual SI cover but I wanted this Big E signed photo-copy for the UH wall in my home office.

I like the big card shows but they are hard on my hip and back. I'm looking forward to the upcoming small hotel shows. I'm sure I won't leave the next one of those without at least one baseball card!