Monday, December 31, 2018

M116 Sporting Life Chief Bender

A recent eBay discount code day gave me the chance to save some money on a card I've had on my watch list for quite a while. Pardon the lousy photo. My scanner tends to blur and washout cards in PSA holders and I'm never very successful at taking good pics with my phone. But here it is:

The card is a  much nicer copy than what I expected to be able to pick up. Really nice corners, no paper loss, etc. It looks so much better in hand than it does in these pics. I'm not sure but I think this is the only pre-war car I own with a grade of  '5'.

Sporting Life was a weekly publication based in Philadelphia which was in business from roughly the mid-1880s until the mid-1920s. It was a direct competitor of The Sporting News of which many of us are more familiar. The entire run of the Sporting Life is available online through the LA84 Foundation archives. This link is to the 1911 issues. I wish the site wasn't so clunky and difficult to navigate. But checking out some of the pages is fun. Wikipedia reports that the SL focus was on baseball and trap shooting. 

OldCardboard, as usual, is a great resource for some background on this really cool set.  Here is the checklist which has stretched to 400 cards. Chief Bender has three variations in the set. This is one of what is called the 'Pastel Background'. He has a second one with a different card back. He also has a 'Blue Background' version. I'm just happy to have one. I won't chase the other two because I'd rather spend my money on a different career-era Bender.

Back to the set itself...Oldcardboard describes the set with these characteristics: 
  • White-bordered cards with player and team listed at the bottom
  • Unnumbered set of hand-tinted black-and-white player portraits
  • Many player poses are the same as found in the T206 set
  • Some pastel and blue background variations
  • Cards were packaged and sold in 24 series of 12 cards each
  • Each series was distributed in an envelope with the series checklist
  • Cards are found with 3 back variations
You'll note that the site mentions that many of the M116 player poses are the same as found in the T206 tobacco set. Bender has three cards in that set as well. One is a portrait and while it is indeed similar, it doesn't appear to be the same pose. I suppose the possibility exists that the original photo was the same and the two artists put their own spin on it. But to me, there are enough differences that I suspect the two cards were based on two different photos from the same session. You can check them out below in another of my crappy cellphone pictures.

I also ran this one on my scanner and, as noted, the label looks fuzzy and the colors are not as pretty. But it is what it is.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Net54 Vintage

I'd never heard of the 1929 Kashin Publication (R316) set until recently. It's not very well known but it has an impressive checklist and the cards are relatively affordable. SCD has a nice little write-up and more info. They don't, however, explain who or what Kashin Publications was and what exactly they published. A few minutes of googling didn't help. that's a project for another day.

I picked up a couple of Kashins from a guy on Net54 for no other reason than curiosity, and the fact that they were cheap. First up is Hall of Famer Bill Terry. He played 14 years for the New York Giants, ten of which could be called 'full' seasons. In those 10 he received MVP consideration in seven of them.

Ethan Allen played the outfield for 13 big league seasons (never a day in the minors), earned a couple of college degrees, and invented a baseball tabletop game that became Cadaco All-Star Baseball. It was my first baseball game and my friends and I played for days on end when we were kids. That is until we discovered Strat-O-Matic.

Here is his Kashin card....

...and here is the game I remember so well.

The guy I bought these Kashin's from threw in a 1919 Zeenut of Tex Wisterzil. I'd never heard of him but I guess that's not surprising as his only 'big league' experience was two years of Federal League ball. But he played 16 years in the minors including right down the road in Galveston. The Zeenuts cards (and there were about 25 sets of these issued over many years) featured players from the PCL. Old Cardboard gives the rundown

Wisterzil, a third baseman by trade, was playing for Portland when this card was issued in 1919. I went looking for more info on him and found a routine LA Times blurb from 1919:

The small piece just below that one was far more interesting:

Two hours and 14 minutes of headlocks, finally settled with a scissors and side roll. "Strangler" Lewis seemed to have the match well in hand but fell victim to Wladek Zbyszko's dreaded side roll. For shame!

The stuff you learn while blogging never ceases to amaze me.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Murray Christmas to All!

I hope all my blogger friends have an enjoyable holiday season! Do yourself a favor and get into the spirit with the wonderful Darlene Love in her 2011 appearance on the Letterman show. It was her 25th  performance of this song on his show and I think it's her best.

Best Christmas song ever!

And some bonus content...a mashup of her performances on DL's show. Kind of cool. Full screen it and crank up the volume!

 And her final Letterman performance, December 2014. I miss Letterman and her annual appearances.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Orioles Wire Photos

While looking for something else I came across a seller on eBay with a bunch of reasonably priced wire service photos and among them were some Orioles-related ones. I bought what I thought was the best of the bunch.

Since I'm such a sucker for the early '60s Orioles jerseys I had to pick this one of Robin Roberts and Manager Billy Hitchcock. The fact that it's a shot of Roberts is a nice bonus. Even I tend to forget that he did some good things while a member of the Orioles. He was a double-digit winner in each of the three full seasons he played there. I saw him pitch at least a couple of times. He beat the Twins in a game I attended in 1963 during our annual 'late in the summer' trip to Charm City. I also saw him in Yankee Stadium but I can't recall or figure out when exactly. All I remember is that it was a night game.

The photo's caption relates to Roberts' debut with the O's in May of 1962. He had signed with the Yankees after the '61 World Series but never made an appearance with them early in 1962 before he was cut and signed with the Orioles.

Roberts stars in this next photo as well. This picture comes from this game later in that same season.

The caption states that the Orioles swept a five-game series from the Yanks. That was five games in three days. Good times. Of course, the Yanks had the last laugh, they won the pennant and my Birds finished 7th.

No action in this third and final photo. It shows Frank Robinson as he signed to manage in the Puerto Rican Winter League in 1968. The team was called the Cangrejeros (or Crabbers). It was a big deal at the time since the majors had still not had a black manager and Robby was a big star. This is really what set in motion his eventual hiring in Cleveland.

Frank's Hall of Fame bio recounts his days as a manager in Santurce. And has some cool pics as a bonus.

I picked up a handful of other photos in the purchase including a couple of Billy Pierce shots. I'll get those posted in the new year.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

1961 Topps Stamps (Revisited)

In late October I posted my 1961 Topps Sticker Album, You can check it out at this link. I've been chipping away at these for a while. I hate the fact that I have to pay over a buck for some of them. Even a dollar seems high but whatcha gonna do?

I'm not bringing this up again to show off new stamps but rather to add some info to what I had previously written. It turns out that not all teams were created equal in the Topps Stamp world in 1961. I was wrong in that previous post when I noted that each team had twelve stamps issued. That is the case in the NL...8 teams, 12 stamps per team to fill ten album slots. So there were 96 NL stamps to fill the 80 spots on the NL pages.

But the Junior Circuit, with two clubs debuting in '61, gummed up the works. Over there 5 clubs got 12 player stamps...the Red Sox, White Sox, Tigers, Indians and the Twins who had just slid in from Washington. My Orioles got 11 stamps. More on that in a bit. The Yankees (no surprise) and the Athletics (big surprise!) had 13 stamps each. The two expansion clubs, the Angels and Senators (who replaced the departed for Minnesota version) got 7 stamps each. That's 111 stamps (or 112 if you count Al Kaline twice as he got a stamp in both colors).

The other aspect of the stamps that I hadn't given much thought to was the color. Obviously, there were brown and green stamps and it's easy to see that the league designation had nothing to do with which player was done in which color.

           But the two colors actually give us the notion that there were two 'series' of these. The Twins stamps can be used to show this. The green Twins have the team listed as Minn.-St Paul. The Twins with brown stamps carry the whole new name, Minnesota Twins. According to Wikipedia, the Twins' name was announced late in November of 1960. Too soon for the first series of stamps to carry it.

The 'green early/brown late' also tells us why the Orioles got jobbed by having only 11 and the perennial doormat and unofficial Yankee farm club Athletics had 13. In January of 1961, those two clubs pulled off an eight-player trade. Whitey Herzog, already a green A's stamp guy, went as part of the deal to the Orioles. Heading the other way was outfielder Bob Boyd who appears on a brown stamp as an Athletic. It would make sense that the deal was too late for Topps to change Herzog's stamp but they were able to show Boyd as a member of the A's. Boyd was supposed to be the Orioles 12th stamp.

Here they are in my album with future A's manager (and twice-an-Oriole) Dick Williams in between.

I figure the Yankees got an extra stamp because there was a slot to fill to complete the printing sheet and they are, after all, the Yankees.

I've 'completed' three team pages. And others are getting close. Below are a few of them. I have a brown Kaline stamp. Likely he replaced a player scheduled for the later series but was removed and so he has stamps in both colors.

The Athletics' page is full, all 10 slots covered. I actually have 11 different A's players but Bud Daley came too late to make the album. I haven't decided what to do with the 'latecomers'. I don't want to squeeze them onto the team pages. I may do what I figure I would have done as a kid, stick them on the inside front cover pages where there is some open area. We'll see.

The Braves were the first team to have a full complement of 10 stamps. I have Henry Aaron, Spahnie and Ed Mathews on the page. I would have held open a slot for any of those three had I needed to.

Over on the right side of the blog, I have added a page link for my 1961 Stamp build. Much of the info I typed here can be found there along with a checklist/needs list and more. I will not link to the site which characterized these as 'bland' and praised to 1962 stamp set. That one was full of murky, out-of-focus pictures. Not even the fun team logo stamps that were included could make it as sweet as the 1961 bunch. Some folks just don't appreciate classic beauty.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

1961 Topps Negative of Mel Harder (No, it's not)

I've made it plain in the past that my idea of collecting a set includes not only finding the cards but also adding some ancillary pieces. A wrapper, card variations, pack inserts, maybe a printing plate or something similar make the set more meaningful for me.

Topps Vault, who BTW, is now just another eBay seller, had this '1961' negative of Cubs coach and former All-Star Mel Harder up for bids. I threw a minimum bid on it and I won and figured I had a nice piece for my '61 build.


Had I done just five minutes I would have realized that this can't be from 1961 or been taken with the possible intent to use in that set. Mel Harder was coaching the Indians at that time and would remain with them for a couple more seasons. He coached on the Cubs staff in 1965!

I looked back at the original description of the eBay listing and Topps did use "Circa 1961". I guess they have a more liberal idea of what 'circa' means but whatever. Add to that the fact that Harder was only on the Cubs staff that one season. The Vault folks could have easily dated it correctly as a 1965 item.

No matter. It was my job to check before I bid and I failed. But looking a little deeper at Harder's background I found that he seems to be a very under-appreciated player. Over a  20 year career, all in Cleveland, he won 223 games which is one less than Catfish Hunter and Jim Bunning.

He received Hall of Fame consideration and his name pops up from time to time on lists of guys who should be in the Hall. In fact, he once received more than the required 75% of the votes from the old Veterans Committee but was denied induction because two other players received higher totals. The rules back then limited the number of that group's inductees to two.

Harder has plenty of cards from his playing days. Here is one that I have in my 1960 set. Obviously not this copy which I grabbed off the net.

The photo on that card was so similar to the color transparency that I thought it was the same one. I wondered if Harder had been a Cubs coach who Topps airbrushed into an Indians cap. That's what led me to look at his bio and how I discovered the real story.

Harder had a few other interesting moments in his career. He started the 1934 All-Star Game and pitched five scoreless innings. In fact, he pitched 19 AGS innings in his career and never allowed a run. In July of 1932, he was the Indians starter for their first ever game in Municipal Stadium. He returned to throw out the ceremonial first pitch in their final game there in  1993.

So I have an interesting piece from Topps files but I'm still looking for pieces to add to my 1961 build.

EDIT: I'm adding a phone pic of the negative and a card to show the relative size and shape. I flipped it because it is somewhat bowed and the reflection made it harder to see.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

An Oddball Batman item

Here's an off-the-wall Batman item I added a few weeks ago on a whim. This is a 1966 (or 1967) Topps novelty issue known as Comic Book Foldees. Pretty simple concept...three separate characters on a foldable 'card' that can be mixed into a an additional six 'hybrid' characters. The two outer panels are 'split' to allow this effect. Pretty entertaining ...for about five minutes I guess. Then again in the mid-Sixties, kids were more easily entertained by things like this. 

Topps licensed the DC characters for this and used other famous faces. Babe Ruth pops up in one. I was very pleased to find that my favorite President got to share this with my favorite crime fighter.  Does anyone reading this have any recollection of these things? I was in high school so I doubt they would have caught my eye at the local candy store or drug stores that were our main suppliers of cards and crap. 

The wonderful Topps Archive blog brought this to my attention with a post in October and I quickly found that my man, Batman, was on the checklist. There are several other Batman-related characters and the Batmobile is also included but I'm good with just the Dark Knight for now. The TA blog goes into detail on this goofy Topps set with the usual painstaking research he shows every Saturday. He explains why the set is actually a '67 item despite the 1966 date that is visible. 

If you are so inclined you can view the entire 44 piece collection online. Apparently, a second, larger (in physical size) version was also released.

I don't like putting stuff like this on my scanner but I sucked it up and made one 'fold' so you can see the hilarious Crime-Fighting  President.

And just for comparison's sake here is the Foldee alongside a standard Topps card:

As I said I won't go out and find any others in this set but if I did I might be tempted to track down the Jimmy Olsen/Grubby Beatnik/Graceful Dancer!

Monday, December 10, 2018

A Post About Nothing

I have no theme for these random scans that were sitting in my picture folder. But there is a short story for each:

The '71 Hoyt came from Night Owl. I picked it as my prize in his recent 10th anniversary giveaway contest. It was timely as I am in the process of (gulp) getting my 71s organized and putting together a want list. If and when I complete this thing it'll be my poorest complete set in terms of condition. It's a tough one to put together in nice shape due to the black borders but what I've seen in my box is a lot of pretty weak examples. Doesn't matter really. It's not like I'm going to try and turn the set for profit or anything.

I'm getting closer to knocking out the 1975 set. If you have dupes please check my linked list over on the right. I somehow have acquired four Dick Allen cards. One is for the binder, one for my unofficial and very casual Allen PC and one I keep on my desk because it makes me happy.

The 'Blue Bat' 1966 Batman set I bought needed two cards upgraded. This one came the other day. And this is a significant upgrade so you can imagine what my first one looked like.

The seller used this Close Encounters of the Third Kind set card as a filler to protect the Batman card. I loved that movie (along with everyone else in the world) but had no idea there was a 1978 Topps Close Encounters set made.

And this has to be the best card in the set!

That's all I have. Have a great week and remember to keep your kids away from Smocking Guns!! ::eyeroll emoji here::

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Best of 2018.....LOL

P-Town Tom (P-Town is Peoria, I was unaware) asked us to blog about what we considered our favourite card of 2018. Me picking a 2018 card is like a goat farmer trying to find a Kentucky Derby entrant in his barn. It doesn't take long to scan the possibilities and none of them are likely winners. But, oh well.

My problem is the fact that I haven't really bought much in the way of current cards in a long time. I snagged a pack of Heritage and a few of the other 'new cards in old designs' sets this year. I didn't get much of interest or anything cool. 90% of my 2018 cards came from other bloggers' generosity or in COMC purchases for my fantasy team collections. And with those, I usually get a cheap common.

There are a few exceptions and my entrant in the 'Favorite Card of 2018' contest is one of them. I'm choosing this 2018 Panini Elite Patrick Mahomes. I'm not sure whether it's the card or the player that inspired this but here we are. I have Mahomes in the one league I actually care about, and I sure thank the football gods for that. It's a dynasty league and I took Mahomes with my second round pick last year.

With injuries killing my runningbacks Mahomes has not only kept me afloat but he lifted me to a pretty good year, all by himself.

Anyway, it's a pretty sweet card. I bought it to replace the one I had in my binder that showed him in his college uni. Panini does a pretty nice job with football cards. (I think it's a shame that Topps has exclusive MLB rights). The red and gold of the card nicely coordinate with the spiffy Chiefs uniform. The 'action' is nothing to write home about but as I said, I have a small pool of contenders to choose from.

I actually considered a few others for the prestigious 'CommishBob's Best 2018 Card' award/contest entry. Here are the runners-up, in no particular order:

Topps base card of Altuve and Correra. It's easy to like both these guys even if you are not an Astros fan. I like that you can see the post-Hurricane Harvey 'Houston Strong' patch on Altuve's jersey.

This next one slid in from Night Owl a few weeks ago. I snatched a nice '71 Hoyt Wilhelm from his giveaway and he padded the card sleeve with a pink (PINK!!) chromafied Trey Mancini card. I had the regular chrome Mancini in my fantasy binder but this pink (PINK!!) one bumps that one to my regular Orioles collection. I like variety in my fantasy player binders and there isn't much more 'varied' than a pink chrome card. It certainly stands out on that page.

Pink cards are just plain fun.

And then there is the card I was going to choose until I was going thru my football binder and spotted the Mahomes. It's this Paul Pogba World Cup Panini Prizm card. I followed the WC this year like never before and it was a ton of fun. There are other countries I would have prefered to see win (I'm looking at you, Portugal) but France was undoubtedly the best in the tournament and earned the title.

Pogba, of course, plays his professional footie for my seriously underperforming Manchester United club. I love the sport but the drama of players vs coaches, in-season transfer window madness and the general crapload of foolishness that swirls around soccer is pretty stupid. I try to ignore it but some of it is unavoidable. I enjoy watching Man U matches at the Houston bar where their supporters gather but hearing the cussing and griping gets old after awhile.

Oh, I almost forgot...that's a really sweet card, right? Again Panini shows what they can do when they don't have to concentrate on removing logos and airbrushing pants stripes.

OK, I've managed to post a card for the contest and get some stuff off my chest. I feel better.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

My First IP Signature

A year ago I posted my story of meeting Elston Howard and his signing photos for my best friend and I. When I posted that I was still trying to locate the photo. I came across it last month along with some cards I had given up on. But that story will hold for now. I just wanted to post my Howard photo tonight.

I used my picture editor to crop out much of the very wide border this picture had.  It is actually about 11"x14" but the photo itself is maybe 7"x10".

You have to look really closely to see the inscription and signature. It's faded quite a bit over time. Yes, he signed it to 'Bobby Andrews' which is what I went by growing up.

Even cropping the inscription and blowing it up doesn't help much. but there it is. Looks like a pencil sig but it's actually done in black ink. And it is one of my few really meaningful autographs.

I'm very happy that I finally found it.