Thursday, March 29, 2018

Often Imitated, Never Duplicated

The above is a page from my Billy Pierce binder. I'd say Topps has wrung every bit of juice out of the '52 Pierce. And as silly as it looks I am sure that there are some really iconic cards that Topps has recycled many many more times than this (I'm looking at you 1953 Mantle).

Truth be told there are really only seven Topps issues on that page. Upper left and middle left are two different '#d to 60' of the same signed 2011 Diamond Lineage something or other. I bought two of these because that section of my modern Pierce checklist is a hellish mess of reprints and such. I thought I had it all figured out but apparently not.

Top center and right are also the same card with one autographed by Billy TTM. But luckily for me I have decided (too late) that the only cards I really am concerned with Pierce originals and variations. And to that end I'm posting my 'real' 1952 Topps Billy Pierce.

Like so many cards in the '52 set it's a classicly wonderful card. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Chief Bender Sweet Caporal Pinback and S74 Silk

My Charles Bender collection grew by two non-cardboard pieces recently. I was able to pick up this Sweet Caporal pinback on eBay.  These were produced from 1910-1912 and there were 152 baseball subjects plus a bunch of variations for a total of 209 different pins. They are not in high demand so the prices on most common players are very reasonable. Old Cardboard has the scoop on these. 

The front of mine is in really good shape. The back isn't bad either. The paper insert is intact but off-center. I like these things so much I'm tempted to go after a few more.  

Below is the pic I took of the pin with a dime so you can see the relative size. 

Right after that arrived I won an auction for this S74 Silk from 1909-1910. There were two types of these made available in packages of tobacco. Type 1 is known as the 'white' silks and they came with a paper backing that advertised the brand of tobacco. The Type 2 Silks like mine are referred to as the colored silks and they had no paper backing. More about these beauties is available on the Old Cardboard site

There is no way I'm going to take the silk out of the holder so a bit of the contrast is lost in the scan.

Here is a closer look at the upper portion which displayed the A's classic elephant and the team name.

And here is the lower portion. 

There is a Bender in the Type 1 checklist and I'll track it down at some point. For now I'm happy to have this one.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Baseball’s Sad Lexicon

Baseball’s Sad Lexicon

These are the saddest of possible words: 
      “Tinker to Evers to Chance.” 
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds, 
      Tinker and Evers and Chance. 
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble, 
      Making a Giant hit into a double— 
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble: 
      “Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

OK, until this morning those were 'the saddest of all possible words.' But today I figured we were close enough to the season opener that I should check the Orioles' website for news of their 2018 publications. Every year for the past several they have started selling the O's yearbook, media guide and magazine right about Opening Day. Easy as pie..order, wait, enjoy. I have every Orioles' media guide except the very first one, from 1954. I have every yearbook (they skipped a few years here and there) and at least one scorecard from every Orioles season and postseason series since '54. 

Publications..from the Orioles, Baltimore Colts, New York Rangers and others... are my very favorite collectible. I'd give up every card I have before I'd sacrifice my pub collection. Which is why I was very disappointed when the Orioles publication page showed me this:

In case you can't read it the gist of it is no more media guides will be available to the fans in paper form. Oh sure, we can download a file version but that's not the same thing. I can't hold a file in my hand. I realize that everything in the media guide is available somewhere online but grabbing that big, fat usually orange book off the shelf to find Adam Jones's career homer totals against the Tigers was very satisfying. 

I also realize that last year's guide has everything I need except last year's numbers but that's not the point. My guides are lined up in two shelves of my hobby room. Not having a 2018 guide is going to annoy me. The fact that media guys get one makes it even worse. Guides will be out there and I want one dammit!

Joe Shlabotnik pointed out via Twitter the fact that there were years that the guide wasn't readily available and I was still able to land one. That's true but that doesn't mean the 2018s will show up on eBay anytime soon. I may have to wait years for some reporter's widow to sell off the guy's hoard. It's depressing.

For the record, I was given many of the guides from the Orioles' early years by my uncle who had connections to the team back then. In the late 70s/early 80s I would call or write the club's pr department and beg for one. One lady actually remembered me from year to year as 'that fan in Texas'. Some years they sold them along with the usual pennants and team postcards via mailorder. I've saved a bunch of the forms I got back from my calls and letters. The rest, mostly the expensive ones I was missing from the mid-50s, I bought on eBay.

Yes, I'm probably overreacting to all this but it sure feels like a big piece of my hobby enjoyment is over. Yup, my gonfalon bubble has been pricked. Oh well.

Since I hate publishing a post without some sort of memorabilia here are my T206s of the "Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds, Tinker and Evers and Chance".  

Sweet cards, yes?

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

We Interrupt This Charles Bender Blog.... bring you a few football cards that arrived from north of the border. Angus (Dawg Day Cards) sent me these sweet cards and they fit right into my modern Baltimore Colts collection. It was one of those totally unexpected deliveries. And aren't those the best kind?

First up is a signed Mike Curtis. This comes from a 2004 Upper Deck set and is my first Curtis signed card.

I'll admit to some prejudice but I've always felt that Mike Curtis has never gotten his due as a player. He was famously hard charging player who also had a nose for the football. He had 25 interceptions in what amounted to eight full seasons. A lot of folks remember his for one moment on the field when he slammed a fan who attempted to make off with the game ball.

But he was much more than that and I think he's Hall of Fame worthy. But the good old boy network that runs the Hall has never seen it that way. Of course they are the same guys who denied John Mackey entrance for over a decade because of his Players Association work.

But it's a great card and much appreciated.

The other two are both of Raymond Berry, one of my football PCs.

Shiny Chrome Prizm above...

..and a real beauty from the Donruss Americana set. (I think...the fine print on the back is really, really fine!

Here is a fun little video about Mike Curtis.

Thanks so much Angus.

And this is as good a place as any to post my Colts World Champions sticker sheet. I was directed to some of these on eBay but I had a package of sheets from back in the day. Amazingly they came from a Hallmark store in Catonsville, Maryland long, long ago.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

T206 Charles Bender with trees!

Not much to say about this one except it gives me 2 of the 3 Bender T206 cards and it's not long for this case.

My knowledge of the T206 set is limited but I do know it's called the 'Monster' and it's the most iconic baseball card set in history. Lot's of collectors have insights into the variations, back varieties and such but I'm not sure anyone knows much about the artists responsible for these beauties.

Looking at my new card above with the trees in the background and my other one (below) without the trees I can take a guess that two different artists used the same photo as a model.

The third T206 Charles Bender is a beauty as well. Here is an image of it from the net:

I've exhausted my hobby budget for the month (year? LOL) but there are a couple of these on eBay right now that my my left index finger itching to click the BIN button. Lord give me strength!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Project Post inspired by Night Owl

A week ago Night Owl posted about his various hobby projects and that post spurred quite a few other bloggers to do the same. I'm kind of late to the party as usual. I had a very similar post in the works for awhile so NO's entry got me to dust it off and revise it for posting today.

My MO is to be working on a 'primary' project (likely a vintage set) while having others churning in the background. Those secondary ones are usually just my long term PC searches. That's pretty much where I am at the moment. Truth be told though I'm spending most of my time on a project that isn't directly hobby related but certainly will effect my collecting. More about that at the bottom. First things first.

Here is my primary project right now:

1970/71 Topps Basketball

I'm enjoying the ride on this one. It's challenging without being impossible. I'm in need of 32 cards to complete the 175 card set. Plus I'd like to nab the Checklist Two variation. I've got the biggest names knocked off, at least in terms of their regular cards. I need a few All Star cards and some second tier stars. The rest of what I lack are mostly short-printed common players.

I was happy to pick up a very nice Wilt Chamberlain last week. It was significantly less expensive than other examples in similar shape. Patience pays off.

In the same transaction I grabbed these two. The Championship Series cards which land at the end of the checklist command a premium about equal to a semi-star card. May be because NY and LA stars appear on the fronts.

My secondary, ongoing projects:

T206 Baltimore Players

Here's a word to the wise: If you get your checklists from the 1977 edition of the Sports Collector's Bible you are likely going to end up disappointed.  Trust me on this. Years ago I wrote down six cards from Bert Sugar's book into my wantlist thinking they were the Baltimore Orioles represented in the iconic T206 set. Over the course of a few years after I began looking I was able to acquire all six. Turns out that there were nine! I only found this out recently. Luckily none of the three Orioles I was missing were stars or otherwise hard to find.

This card of Sammy Strang is one of the 'missing' three. I picked it up not long ago on eBay. Strang had played 10 major league seasons, mostly with the Giants. He played on their championship 1905 squad and got one at bat in the World series against the Athletics. He led the NL in On Base Percentage in 1906. He finished his career with three seasons in Baltimore with the Eastern League Orioles. He played both the infield and outfield. After his playing days Strang, whose father was a baseball executive, served during World War I and later was a minor league manager and coached baseball at West Point and Georgia Tech.

I hope to complete this small group of cigarette cards in the next few months.

Player Collections

I always look to add to my player collections. I have too many of them for sure and only a few are really being actively pursued but I get a lot of satisfaction from building them. 

My Billy Pierce collection is at a point where the last pieces are going to take some time. There are only a couple of vintage pieces open on my checklist. One is his 1959 Topps Venezuelan #156 Ace Hurlers card that he shares with Robin Roberts. The other is his 1959 Bazooka card. It's an SP and doesn't show up often and when it does it is out of my price range. The other things I look for are 'one offs' and oddballs like ballpark pins and team issued postcards. These things are difficult to checklist and may not even exist. I find press photos all the time but I just don't buy every one that comes along. Outside of those two cards I mentioned I figure my Pierce collection is complete. Of course there are also cards issued post career by Topps and other companies. I collect them as well but do so without a lot of effort or zeal. The ones from Topps use the same photo over and over (sound familiar to you Koufax collectors?) and the differences are just silly in my eyes.

This card, the 2011 Topps 1952 Black Diamond Pierce autograph card, is an example of that sort of thing. It's probably the most costly of the lot and I shouldn't have picked it up but whatcha gonna do? I don't know how collectors who chase some of the more popular players deal with stuff like this. 

A couple of years ago I read Chief Bender's biography and found him to be a fascinating baseball figure. Since then I've tried to collect his cards. Obviously many of them are very pricey and will never find their way into my collection but combing through eBay for bargains is fun. Right now I have about a half dozen vintage Bender cards. This 1940 Play Ball was issued after his career was over obviously but it's still a great card.

Other player collections...Elston Howard, Johnny Callison, Bob Moose, Juan Pizzaro, Connie Hawkins, numerous Orioles and Baltimore Colts players and several more are all checklisted to one extent or another. I poke around at card shows and online and add things that I come across but none are complete nor am I confident that my checklists are even accurate. That's a long term project.

After ignoring many of these collections for awhile I checked a few of my eBay saved searches recently and found this Bob Moose ARCO collectible. It's an 8x10 photo and I like that the back mentions his no-hitter that I witnessed at Shea Stadium in 1969.

The Baltimore Colts

As with Billy Pierce I don't have much in the way of vintage mainstream cards to find for my ongoing Colts collection. Just a few of the Fleer Super Bowl cards and a Topps premium/insert or two remain. In the meantime I pick up the stray modern card of Baltimore Colt players and oddball pieces that turn up here and there. I had this this on the front bumper of my '64  Malibu SS back when I was tooling around campus back in the 70s. That is until a cop stopped me and informed me that I needed to put my state-issued plate back on or get a ticket. I since lost the Colts plate but found came across it in my garage a year or two ago. It now sits proudly on my office wall.

Non-Sports Sketch cards

I've set this aside for the time being. Every few weeks I check eBay for Batman and Mars Attacks sketch cards but not much has surfaced that looks nice (and affordable enough) to go after. I won't call these 'complete' but I am satisfied with what I currently have. The same can be said for my pins and postcards. I'm in a holding pattern at the moment. 


I've finished my goals for the most part. I have a straight run of Orioles yearbooks and media guides from 1954 through today with the exception of the '54 and '56 guides. I collect game programs but have never worried about having one from each year. Maybe one day I'll see if I'm close to a full run. I'm pretty sure I am. My Baltimore Colts media guide collection is complete. As with the Orioles I dabble in game programs but don't have very many. I have spent some time working on my New York Rangers publications lately. I have about half of their Blue Book/media guide run that they began in the early 60s. I'll never finish it but filling in the gaps in my 80s and 90s shelves is cheap enough.

Fantasy Sports Collection

I have been running a fantasy football league for college friends and some new arrivals since 1980. I've been playing fantasy baseball in multiple leagues for about the last seven years. Every player I've ever 'owned' on all those teams is represented in my fantasy baseball or football binders. Sometimes I've had to make my own custom cards, sometimes I've bought custom ones on the net. But the vast majority are actual cards and my goal is to have as many different sets represented as possible.

The only current cards I seek out are those of my players. This '18 Heritage card of Alex Colome came in my only pack of this year's Topps I've bought. It will push out his '17 Topps card since I have a bunch of those in my baseball binder.

Over on the football side I'm always looking for cards of players who are now represented by those custom cards. A real card, even a throwback always bumps a custom. But I doubt I'll see Elton Veals or Kyle Mackey for example in a Donruss or Score set anytime soon.

With this year's baseball draft coming up in a couple of weeks I'll be back in the market for singles of my players. I wish I had the internal fortitude to wait until the season was over and nab each one in a single transaction on COMC. Not happening I'm afraid. I'm too anal. I need a card of the guy I picked up on waivers NOW! The good thing is I've stockpiled a 400 count box of current players so hopefully that'll cover most of my players.

My next project:

1962 Topps(?)

I told myself I wouldn't take on another vintage Topps baseball chase after I finished the 1970 set. And I'm not sure I really will. But the itch is still there. I recently picked up a small '62 Topps lot. through a collector I know via an online forum. The cards are in 'collectible' condition (for me that's VG or better) and came pretty cheaply.

Even in my weaker moments when I was thinking about a new project I hadn't really considered the '62 set as a goal. It's not terribly popular (but that might make it more easily obtainable). Plus I was leaning towards 'bookending' my '59-'60 run with either the '57 or '61 set if and when I did give in to my urge. I also considered doing the '1966 set to commemorate the Orioles first title.

If I do take on the '62 set I have a decent head-start. I have the Orioles of course, some stars and dupes of guys in my PCs. Plus I have the starter lot now. Darrell at the hotel card show has plenty of these in his bargain bins and always cuts me a good deal. My secret weapon though might be my friend Bobby who has a boatload of all the early '60s sets and could probably be persuaded to sell me some dupes. His cards are in remarkable condition.

There is no urgency to this one. A vintage set chase is a big commitment in terms of cash and time. I still might back out. 

My over-riding and most urgent project

Organization and re-claiming space!!

I mentioned above that I've run a fantasy football league for almost four decades. This fall we will play our 39th season. For most of that time I printed and saved all sorts of statistical stuff. Sometimes it was for or five pages a week or more. That's not counting draft and transaction histories, rosters etc. And until about 2007 or so I produced, printed and mailed a weekly newsletter to all the owners. And I've kept every single scrap of it in binders. Those binders took up multiple shelves and I had more sitting in the top of my closet. I finally decided enough was enough.

A few weeks after I retired in December I began a long term project to get rid of it all. I pulled all the binders, culled out the multiple copies of some stat sheets I kept and began a huge scanning project. I'm turning the whole mess into digital format. I tried out different .pdf freeware programs and have settled on a good one. Each season's paperwork is going to become a single file. It's slow going but I'm making headway. I have ten seasons of paper scanned, saved digitally and then tossed in the recycling bin. I have other seasons through 2004 in manila folders under my desk and ready to scan. It's amazing what reducing a dozen 3" and 4'' binders to one thumb drive and one remaining binder will do for your shelf space.

That space and those binders will be put to good use. All my PCs and sets currently in boxes will be put in sheets and bindered. That is something that is long overdue. I also plan to combine the digital files that all this fantasy stuff has generated since we went fully online in 2008 into single .pdf files. My goal is to finish this all by the end of the year.

That's it for my hobby project update. Apologies if you fell asleep halfway through and hit your head on the keyboard.

Friday, March 9, 2018

1961 Golden Press Chief Bender

This Golden Press Chief Bender is what I call a 'PC tweener'. The 1961 Golden Press Hall of Fame set which was issued as a book with the cards inside and perforated. Intact books are not very common and in decent shape run over $200 for the most part. I've had some on my watch list but never pulled the trigger. If I'm going to spend that on any one item it will be a vintage Bender or a Billy Pierce '59 Bazooka.

By 'tweener' I mean it was from a set from between his career years and before Topps flooded their sets with old time guys on modern base cards. Things like the Kelloggs' Hall of Fame set falls into the same category. Bender, like many early century Hall of Fame guys has a lot of these types of cards. His include the 1950 Callahan set and 1960 Fleer to mention a few. I'm slowly adding these to my Bender PC. I have a 1940 Play Ball Bender en-route. That would qualify as a 'tweener' as well I suppose.

My scanner cleaned up the front of this card to the point that it smoothed out the perforated edges. But you can see them on the scan of the back.

The Golden Press book contained 33 cards. Sports Collector's Daily has a nice write-up and pics of the book itself.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

More Billy Pierce

I haven't posted much recently. One reason is that I've had a lot of projects going on, both in and out of the hobby. Another is lack of having anything new arrive in my mailbox of interest to anyone but me. But I'll press on with a couple of Billy Pierce items that I've acquired in the last few weeks.

First up is a 5x7 photo. Pierce's sigs are always plentiful so a signed photo doesn't cost much more than an unsigned one. I'd have picked this up either way as it's a new item for my collection. My other 5x7's are 'photo pack' pictures that were sold in and around stadiums and through the mail. This one was billed as a 'team issue'. I'm not sure of the origin but it is new to me in that the typography is different than most I've come across. Plus I don't have one with this pose as far as I recall. (One of my projects is re-organizing my PCs and I haven't gotten around to BP quite yet).

This next piece is a dupe. It's from a 1982 Yankee yearbook insert set that was designed by TCMA. It's done in '51 Bowman style and I got it because it was cheap and a signed version will be better than an unsigned one in my Pierce binder.

These things were hand cut for better or worse.

I've also added about four Archives/Heritage/Lineage/Tribute Pierce cards issued by Topps between 2001 and 2011. I don't know how player collectors can keep up with all the 'stuff' that was churned out in those sets. Honestly it all gives me eyestrain and a headache. I'll post them when I get them figured out. Wish me luck.