Sunday, September 30, 2018

T205 Bender

 EDIT: As was pointed out in the comments the T205 set was issued circa 1911, not 1905. Not the first time I've screwed up something obvious by 'distracted posting'.

When I was a 12-year old I hung out at the corner store, drank RCs, talked about girls and bought baseball cards. In 1905 1911 12-year-olds hung out at the corner store, drank RCs (new that year), talked about girls and begged the grown-ups for the baseball cards that came in their cigarette packs.

One of those cards was this beauty...a T205 of Charles Bender of the Philadelphia Athletics. He was just coming into his prime in 1905. He was a full blown star in 1911 and helped his team win the second of three championships they accrued between 1910 to 1913. He had emerged as a rookie in 1903 and was on his way to a Hall of Fame career as well as a life in baseball that lasted for decades. His SABR bio is well worth the read.

My collection of Bender cards is growing slowly but steadily. This is the latest. As cool as the iconic  T206 set is, I'm just as big a fan of the T205s. The colors, gold accents, secondary illustrations and the portraits themselves are terrific.

I hope I'm never so jaded that I lose the thrill I feel to hold a card that made some 12-year-old happy 113 107 years ago.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Sometimes You Just Get Lucky

I'm down to one card to complete the Topps 1962 set, the Twins Team card. It's been easily the most challenging of my vintage 'chases'. But it's also been fun and very satisfying. My next-to-last pickup was this Bob Miller card.

Bob here is one of two 'Bob Millers' in the '62 set. This Bob is a.k.a. 'Bob G. Miller'. He was at the end of a decade-spanning career in the majors and found himself as part of the floundering expansion Mets. He had started the season with the Reds but was dealt, along with Cliff Cook, to the Metropolitans about a month into their inaugural season. The trade sent Don Zimmer to the Reds. Cincinnati was at .500 and sitting in 6th place in the NL when the deal went down. They soon ripped off a winning streak, bounced up into third place by June. They spent the whole second half of the season right there in third, looking up at the Dodgers and Giants who had a dogfight for the lead that ended in a playoff.

The Mets, on the other hand, were historically lousy all season. They ended up 40-120, a mark that even the 2018 Orioles couldn't fall to (though not for lack of trying).   :-/   As for Bob here, well it's easy to see why the Reds were OK with moving him. He had pitched in five games to that point and had been manhandled to the tune of an ERA near 22 and a WHIP of over 3. He wasn't as atrocious with the Mets but he wasn't lights out either. 1962 was his last season. The guy who had broke in with the Tigers in 1953 as a big money 'bonus baby' and been a rookie along with Al Kaline hung up his spikes at the age of 26 with a total of six big league wins.

Miller's card, #572, commands a premium. And when I say 'premium' I mean over the usual bump that commons in the short-printed high numbered last series normally get. I know there is a 'Yankee Tax' that is paid when buying cards of guys like Bill Stafford and Rollie Sheldon, but I don't think Mets carry that burden. Maybe 1962 Mets' cards do. I know that the Al Jackson card was oddly elusive and expensive but I chalked that up to it being a rookie card, even an Al Jackson rookie.

Miller's card isn't too tough to find but it regularly lists in the $20-$30 range, even raw and in middling shape. I sucked it up and paid the price on the Rookie Parade cards I needed (they bring up the rear of the set in the 7th Series) but I refused to shell out $25 for a raw Bob G Miller. My solution was to set up a 'bid group' using Auction Sniper and stick a $10 bid on every single Bob G Miller that came along.

I wasn't keeping track but I know I missed out on a couple dozen copies of this card. But I had patience. Bid Grouping has never failed me. And it didn't this time, either. It did take weeks and weeks but I finally had a Miller fall through the cracks! I won this puppy for about a buck and a half. Even with a few dollars for shipping, he was in my binder for under $5.

Check out the back:

I like that it (and other high numbers) references the current baseball season. Here it mentions the trade that brought him to New York. The cartoon (by Jack Davis I think) has a headline entitled 'Major League Performance' which is odd because the subject is a minor league no-hitter Miller threw. But you can also read it as 'hey, this guy had a big-time accomplishment'. Whatever.

In case you were wondering the other Bob Miller in the set was also a New York Met!

Bob L. Miller came from the Cardinals as the Mets' 1st pick in the 1961 expansion draft. He went on to pitch for 17 seasons for nine different clubs. He finished up with his second stint as a Met in 1974. Here is his 1962 Topps card from my binder:

The Bob Millers are only referenced using a middle initial on collectors' checklists and the like. Neither card makes use of it or mentions the fact that there are two guys with that name in the bigs. If Baseball Reference's Bullpen Wiki is to be believed the two Bob Millers were not only 1962 Mets teammates...they were also road trip roommates!

And if you are interested in the Topps '62 set and some of its quirks you should take a glance at this page which shows the 'green tint' variations all in one spot.

I'll hold off on more about my '62 set adventure until the last card is in the binder. I've got that Twins Team card in my sights.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Odd Man Out...T206 Harry Steinfeldt

The famous poem from 1912 entitled Baseball's Sad Lexicon was penned by Franklin_P._Adams and extolled the on-field virtues of the Cubs' double-play combo of the day...Tinker, Evers, and Chance. I have the three players on their T206 cards and wrote a post on them a few years ago.

Of course, infields have four players and while I knew the name of the overlooked third-baseman, Harry Steinfeldt, I never thought about him having a card in that set, much less tracking it down. A Net54 member had one up for sale not long ago so I bought it. Makes a nice companion for the other three.

Steinfeldt had a long career that began with a couple of years in Texas playing minor league ball in 1885 in Texas...Houston, Fort Worth and Galveston specifically. His days with Galveston predate the horrific Galveston Hurricane of 1900 which remains the worst natural disaster to ever hit the United States.

He began his big league career with Cincinnati in 1898 and came to the Cubs in 1906. He helped them get to the World Series that season by leading the NL in hits and RBIs. The Cubs lost to the White Sox in the Series that year but came back the next two to beat the Tigers for the crown twice. They played in a fourth Series, losing to the Athletics, in 1910. that was Steinfeldt's last hurrah with the Cubs.

Manager Frank Chance sold him to the St' Paul club who traded him that summer to Boston in the NL. He finished that season with the Braves, spent 1912 with Louisville and then left the game. He died two years later of an undisclosed illness at the age of 38.

Here is the poem and what Wikipedia has to say about it:
The poem was first published in the New York Evening Mail on July 12, 1910, under the title "That Double Play Again." The day before, the Cubs had defeated the Giants, 4–2, in Chicago, having squelched a late-inning Giants rally with a double play from Tinker to Evers to Chance.
The poem, soon renamed "Baseball's Sad Lexicon," became popular across the country among sportswriters, Grantland Rice among them, who wrote their own verses along the same vein. The poem only enhanced the reputations of Tinker, Evers, and Chance over the succeeding decades as the phrase became a synonymous with a feat of smooth and ruthless efficiency. It has been credited with their elections to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946.
 And finally I'll repost my T206 cards of the 'stars' of F.P.A.'s work:


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Johnny Unitas 'Golden Arm' Matchbooks

Johnny Unitas' Golden Arm Restaurant was a Baltimore hot spot in its heyday. I vaguely recall my one visit back in 1970 (I think). Mostly I remember being disappointed that Johnny U himself was not there to greet me, his biggest fan, at the door with a hearty handshake. Probably just as well since I would have likely fallen over flat on my face had it happened. In 1988 Johnny U sold the place he had founded with teammate Bobby Boyd.  And then, a victim of suburban grocery store expansion, it closed in 1994.

From time to time I seek out a menu from the place. But I never have much luck given that I am not going to bid very high on something that'll end up stuck among my Colts publications. And that's fine. One day one of the menus will fall through the eBay cracks and land in my lap.

What I have had luck with was finding a cocktail glass from the bar (since lost to a deadly fall from a closet shelf) and a couple of matchbook covers.

These two standard size covers both came as full books of matches way back when. But the covers fit better in a binder page so that's how they ended up.

The gold one is pretty fancy as befitting a joint with "Elegant Dining in a Relaxed Atmosphere". 😉

But I like this next one more.

It's got that great posed 'action' shot of Unitas on the white 'Close Cover' panel.

This next one is relatively new. I found it in one of my 'John Unitas' searches and with it I learned that there was a 'Golden Arm' at the Orlando Sheraton near the airport there.

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the restaurant's opening. There is a Facebook page dedicated to it. These pics came from that page. Since I've left Facebook in my rearview mirror I figure there isn't much they can do if I repost the photos here.

Here's a menu. I found a few archived reviews. They had good things to say about some of the seafood dishes. I recall having a burger but that may just be my imagination. I don't see one on the menu.

This next one is my favorite. Dig the plaid sports jacket that Frank Robinson is wearing. Men's fashion in the 70s was NOT a thing of beauty.

Monday, September 24, 2018

WG5 ... 1913 National Game Charles Bender

I'm so backlogged on new stuff that I don't know where to start. So how about here...with my latest Bender addition. This is from the 1913 National Game set. It's a great way to collect career-era cards of early Hall of Fame players at an affordable price.

As you can deduce these were issued in decks and because they had rounded corners many have avoided damage and can be found in nice condition. They are close cousins to the Tom Barker game cards issued at about the same time. Some great info and the impressive checklist can be found on Old Cardboard.

As much as I love the picture on the 'front' the back is pretty spectacular as well.

As I mentioned at the top I have a stack of stuff that's accumulated on my desk over the past month or so. Some need to be scanned while the rest, mostly graded pieces that my scanner punts on, get the camera phone treatment. I take lousy pictures but my scanner is even worse at capturing graded cards so I'm going with the lesser of two evils.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Shiny (and more) Part Two

Not long after Night Owl's shiny contribution to my modern card collection arrived I received a similar gift from Jeff who authors 2x3 Heroes, another favorite blog of mine.

Like Greg's cards these will end up in a few different places..... my Orioles current favorites binder (and yes, I realize how silly that sounds given the current crew), my fantasy baseball binder (or the baseball 'live' box I keep of guys I may need for my fantasy binder)...or my O's Stars binder i.e: Murray, Brooks, etc.

We can start off with that Zach Britton card up top. I'm disappointed but not surprised that the scan doesn't really convey what it looks like in hand. It's sepia(?) or something and all chromified. I'm sure there is an actual name for it. I'll just say it's unique enough to boot the Britton I have now in my fantasy binder. EDIT: I pulled this back out to look it over and I see it's a 'chrome refractor'. As is one of the next pair. 

Above and below are two different Trey Mancini chrome cards. I confess to not knowing (or having forgotten) if Topps Chrome is a seperate set or a variation of the base set or what. But there are so many around that I'm guessing it's a stand-alone set. Either way Topps does crazy things with the coloring on these.

Hey, it's Manny Macado, Oriol Dodgers star! Somewhere along the line the number of Dodgers followers has surpassed the number of Brewers fans in my Twitter feed. (Getting all the Brewers tweets was odd in the first place but that's for another time.)

This Machado is a different sort of Chrome card. I swear I don't know how contemporary card collectors keep this stuff straight. The little shield indicates it's the 30th anniversary of the '87 design. Scanners just never give the full picture on these. Pun intended.

Jeff included a couple of Gypsy Queens, both destined for my newly re-organized stars binders.  Adam Jones' decision to nix a trade to the Phils and remain onboard the sinking ship that is the Orioles franchise shows either amazing loyalty or increadible stupidity. And Adam Jones isn't stupid. As I said about Machado recently...I hope AJ gets a ring before he hangs 'em up. And that's gonna take him moving on sooner rather than later.

Topps loves to use the same picture over and over but with Eddie Murray I'm fine with this one.

Big League Adam Jones. Other than my wishing that Topps had used the 'happy bird' logo on the Orioles I think this set a A-OK.

BL Manny wearing the MLB money grab Players Weekend uni. Dopey concept but it makes for a nice card in this case.

Oh Dylan. I get the feeling Bundy will head off to another team and pull a 'Jake Arrieta' by winning a zillion games and a Cy Young.

I got trey Mancinis in this package. ::groan::

Mini AJ. This may be the only card I already had but seening how disorganized my minis are there's just no telling. Organizing my minis is way down on my hobby to-do list.

And finally a Topps regular Brian Matusz. His best days came before I was back into baseball.And they didn't last long. Here's an odd fact from Wikipedia: "Despite the fact he only appeared in one game for the Cubs during their 2016 World Series season, he was given a World Series ring."

ANOTHER EDIT: I went back and pulled this one out again because I remembered wondering about it when I scanned it. It had a different 'feel' to it, not quite as glossy as most Topps base cards. And it felt thicker I think. Anyway it's numbered 81/91. And it has a foil Topps logo which I think is not on all their cards from 2016. That's all I know.

Big tip of the cap to Jeff for these babies. Nice adds for me and a bit of an education as a bonus!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Sulu (George Takei) Signed Card

I'm a Star Trek guy. Not to a 'fanboy' extent but I enjoyed the original Gene Roddenberry show as a kid, as short-lived as it was.  And I've seen most of the movies through the years since.

George Takei, as Sulu was a great, if somewhat understated, character. In the years since he's led an interesting life, speaking out on current events and politics. He makes for an interesting Twitter 'follow' to be sure.

I don't normally pay for signed cards but I saw someone's copy of this on Twitter and thought it would make a nice addition to my collection. I found one on eBay that was significantly cheaper than the others and took a chance on it. Sometimes a cheap price comes with a 'cost'. But in this case, the card was as advertised and showed up in my mailbox packed well and in short order.

I'm not going to make a habit of buying celebrity autographs but I'm happy to have one of 'Sulu".

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Shiny Things....Part One

I've received two packages of shiny (and otherwise) Orioles cards in as many weeks. Blogger generosity makes me feel like the happy face guy that Night Owl added to his note accompanying these chrome-afied. Birds. 

He was being cute with his reference to these babies being 'right up my alley' but the fact is that I always have a place for modern cards, especially Orioles.  Even with the sad state the franchise is in at the moment the Birds are still mine. 'For better or worse' as they say.  And speaking of worse....

..Chris Davis. He's hitting .174 as I type this which is a step up from the .140 range he was in for a long time. And his fancy stathead numbers are no better. That is too bad because I like Davis a lot. He seems to be a good guy, does a lot in the community. The team is stuck with a long-term deal with him so I can only hope he turns it around at some point.

I don't know what this 90s Pinnacle is other than what it claims to be...a 'sample. But it sure shouts 'I'm a 90s baseball card!' doesn't it?

Every player should wear their pants like Tim Beckham. I'd prefer stirrups and black shoes but I'm an old fart. This card went immediately into my fantasy team binder. I love having variety in that thing.

Stefan Crichton pitched in eight games for the Orioles in 2017, got absolutely annihilated in almost all of them, and was traded to the Dbacks this year who released him. Got himself a die-cut card though.

Another card of Crush. This thing looks almost 3D. The photo comes from a Friday game as that's when the Birds wear those jerseys.

Dylan Bundy..perpetual prospective staff ace. His results in 2018...not good. But man, that card!

Mark Trumbo has had his moments with Baltimore. Not this year though. Opening Day is a Topps set I just don't understand. I sure like that card though. It's going to replace the one of Trumbo that currently sits in my FB binder.

And Greg included some non-shiny cards. The best of which is this Heritage Ripken. Once someone pointed out the 'off center' names on these it became one of those 'I can't unsee it' things. I don't understand how Topps could screw up something so simple. Nevermind, I do understand...they don't really give a shit.

But having said that this is a really nice card. I make no secret of my affection for the '59 design. (and no apologies, either).

And for a 'back of the card' guy like me, this is pretty sweet.

Oh, Manny...

Bundy again. This one goes in the FB binder. I owned him for about 2 starts.

And Crush. I think Night Owl wanted him out of the house before the bad karma affected the Dodgers.

And finally.....miniiiis!!!!! I've determined that I will place every mini card I own in the plastic sheets I have for them. Otherwise they have a tendency to fall out of card stacks and end up on the floor under my desk joining the old penny sleeves and Fig Newton crumbs that already occupy that space. Can't have that. .

Thanks for the stack Greg. Much appreciated.

The next group, to be blogged soon, bears a striking resemblance to this one but has no overlap. Getting those scanned today I hope.