Wednesday, January 30, 2019

10 Posts, 10 Cards, 10 Books, 10 Songs (#8)

These are five of the 1975 Topps cards that Steve from the 1975 Baseball Cards blog sent me recently.  Steve also tinkers with a blog that features athletes on phones and I flipped out when I found it. One of my first collections, when I re-entered the hobby in the late 80s, was of guys in all sports on the phone and with other electronic devices. I actually did a 'Guys On The Phone' post way back in 2012. When I saw Steve's blog I dug out the old pages I'd filled and sent him some of the cards (I've since found more and should send them his way, too).

Anyway, these colorful 1975 gems are most welcome. I'm down to less than two dozen needed for the set. I should do some damage to my want list at the TriStar show in February. My 1976 chase is winding down, too. Just about 40 needed there. I'm not sure how I got the bug that has sent me after the 70s sets. I followed baseball thru that decade (as best I could) but didn't collect much. I remember that I would buy a pack of cards just to see what Topps was doing.

I'm probably going to try to finish all the 70s sets at some point. My scorecard looks like this at the moment:

  • 1970-done and in a binder
  • 1971-I have a large box of 71s, well over 400, that I haven't even dug into. I need to sort 'em to see what I need.
  • 1972, 1973, 1974- I have all the Orioles and various small amounts of others.
  • 1975 & 1976-See above, bindered and almost completed
  • 1977-Just the Orioles and a few stars
  • 1978 & 1979- completed and in binders
Truth be told the 70s was sort of a 'lost' decade for me. I was in and out of college, held down numerous jobs to feed my habits, and wrecked some relationships and friendships. Not all of them, I did meet my wife during this time, but enough.

Phillip Roth's 1973 novel is just outstanding. I wasn't much of a fiction reader when I was in college but I read this on a recommendation and I've always been glad I did. I posted this on my1959 Topps blog in 2011.

I had tried to read one or two of Philip Roth's books prior to The Great American Novel. The key word being 'tried'. I never got very far. So I was pretty skeptical when a friend gave me his copy of this book and insisted I read it. Turns out to be the funniest, cleverest and most entertaining baseball novel I've ever read.

In it Roth chronicles the odyssey of the Ruppert Mundys, the only homeless franchise in the Patriot League. If you are not familiar with the Patriot League take heart, Word Smith, the book's narrator will explain the Communist plot and Capitalist scandals have conspired to wipe out it's rich history. It's enough to know that the Mundys have lost their stadium in Port Ruppert to the war effort (WWII) and have taken to the road more or less permanently.

The book is difficult to describe with murderous plots against umpires, wooden-legged catchers, games scheduled against teams from asylums and players named for mythological figures (Luke Gofannon, Gil Gamesh, etc).

The book slows in spots but will keep you laughing and wondering at the depth of Roth's imagination. Highly recommended.
One additional note...this is the only book I've ever bought after having read it.

Music in the 70s was something I clung to in stressful times and I will always consider it the best decade for music. I had access to lots of concerts through my jobs on the campus and through my job at the Houston Post.

The ticket is one I posted previously when I blogged about some of the shows I saw back then. I had pretty good seats for Traffic at the rickety old Sam Houston Coliseum back in '73. I loved this group and it's one of the concerts I remember attending (not always the case).

Want to hear my kind of rock? The music I still fall back to? Give Traffic's greatest song a listen,

Monday, January 28, 2019

10 Posts, 10 Cards, 10 Books, 10 Songs (#7)

I'm a sucker for old Johnny Unitas items and I found this on eBay. It's pretty fragile so I scanned it for posterity (I'll put it safely away now) and for this post. The Unitas pics are probably from the same photo session that produced the MacGregor Staff photo and related pics that I posted this past November.

As indicated by the cover, JU is the featured athlete and gets a two page spread in addition to a second photo.

Sonny Jurgenson waxes poetic on eating right, etc. It's hard to tell by the scans but this thing folds out so that the text and Jurgenson's photo are each one page.

Bart Starr did NOT explain the 'Lombardi Sweep' play that they ran down everyone's throats back in the day. Of course, I always think of the late, great Ray Scott doing Packer games on CBS. If you want to hear him at his best go to 1:05 of the clip below and give a listen to how a pro calls a TD.

"Starr.........he's throwing for Dale...................[crowd gets crazy].......Touchdown." Ray Scott was just the best.

A nice bonus is the appearance of one of my favorite players, Tommy McDonald, in the brochure. And he helps date the thing since he was a one season Cowboy (1964).

Mike Ditka looks very young in his photo, yes?

My favorite network broadcast show ever will always be Homicide: Life On The Streets. It portrayed the city of Baltimore through the eyes of it's Police Homicide Division. It ran for seven seasons, the first four or five of which are about as good as network TV could ever hope to be. It starred and was enriched by among others, Daniel Baldwin, Richard Belzer, Clark Johnson, Yaphet Kotto, Melissa Leo and especially Andre Braugher.

The show was inspired by this book: Homicide (A Year On The Killing Streets). The author had spent a year with the homicide cops of the Baltimore City Police and wrote a really great book as a result. I seem to remember getting it from a bookstore as soon as I discovered the show. Excellent look at the workings of a big city homicide squad, warts and all. No whitewashing anything.

To continue my Charm City theme, here is the remarkable Nina Simone and her cover of Randy Newman's Baltimore:

Bonus material...David Gray doing the same song live in Baltimore. I've probably seen Gray more than any other performing artist. He's the only musical act that, when I say "So-and-So's coming to Houston, wanna see him/her, again?" doesn't get a moment's hesitation from my wife. And he's coming back again in March. I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, January 25, 2019

10 Posts, 10 Cards, 10 Books, 10 Songs (#6)

This one was a long time coming. I've queued up T-3s, 1910-11 Turkey Red cabinet cards for purchasing several times over the years and never pulled the trigger. I always found they were too expensive for one in nice condition, or in terrible shape for a price I was willing to pay.

Meet Solly Hofman of the Cubs. Known as 'Circus Solly', he was a centerfielder and utilityman who played everywhere on the diamond except pitcher and catcher over the course of his career. His career covers all or part of 14 seasons and peaked in 1910. That year he hit .325 with 16 triples which were good for third in the NL in both categories.

In addition to his ten years with the Cubs, he had two brief tours in Pittsburgh, one with the Yankees and he also played for Brooklyn and Buffalo in the Federal League. He played in three World Series and hit .298 in them. His Cubs lost twice, in 1906 to the White Sox and in 1910 to the Athletics but in 1908 they got a title with a five-game Series win over the Tigers. They had beaten the Tigers in 1907 in five games but Hofman never got into a game. I'm assuming he was hurt at season's end because he was an everyday starter that year garnering 530+ plate appearances in 134 games.

BTW...there are two reasons given in his SABR bio for his nickname. One story attributes it to a cartoon character of the era while the other to Hofman's flashy centerfield skills. This little nugget was also on that page:

Before the 1908 World's Series, [manager Frank] Chance forbade Hofman's wedding to Miss Rae Looker and demanded "for the good of the team" that the ceremony be postponed until after the season. The Cubs won their second consecutive World Series in Detroit on October 14, 1908, and the Hofmans did not dally. They were married the next day in Chicago.
As for the card...well, it's a beauty for sure. I love the color and the background. The Net54 seller had several of these for about the same price and I zeroed in on this one. It had the best front by far. There is a crease in the upper right corner which is hard to see in the scan and barely visible even in hand. It shows up in the scan of the back but the back had other issues. That is if you let the marks made by a kid in 1911 become an issue. They don't phase me in the least.

The checklist shows that cards 51 thru 76 were boxers including the wonderfully named Knock-out Brown at #66. Card #80, Charles Bender, is one card I'd love to have. But I doubt I'll ever find one I could fit into my hobby budget.  You can look deeper into T3s on the Oldcardboard site.

I recently pulled Lawrence Ritter's The Glory Of Their Times down off the shelf again. It's one of the few books I've kept since I originally received my copy about five decades ago. I signed up for both a record club and book club through magazine ads when I was in high school. I stayed in both for a few years until I decided I could spend my money in other ways.

Ritter's book was my introduction to players from the early days of baseball. It's now considered a classic and for good reason. Ritter's interviews with baseball legends are timeless. When I skimmed it last week I remembered why I enjoyed it so much back in 1969. It's currently cued up for a re-read.

 I don't know how many people are familiar with Rodriguez, the Detroit native singer/songwriter who struggled mightily here at home but became the biggest music sensation in South Africa (and New Zealand) in the mid 70s. Ironically he had no idea of the fame and fandom he had garnered due to the oppressive South African government's tight lid on media and culture.

The 2012 documentary Searching for Sugarman tells the amazing story of his re-discovery in the 90s by a nation that had never seen him despite his fame and, in fact, had believed he had commited suicide decades before. Highly, highly reccommended.

This clip shows the opening of his first live performance in front of a South African audiance and it's pretty crazy.

His whole story is carzy atually. While he was a sensation overseas he was dropping out of the Detroit music scene, getting a degree at Wayne State University, dabbling in local politics and eeking out a living at various low paying jobs. He never saw a residual check and later decided not to pursue those who cheated him out of his wealth. The Rodriguez story truely is stranger than fiction.

My wife and I have seen his in concert a few times. He's now in his 70s and has almost no sight and the last show we saw was a bit rough around the edges. But he's still got that unique voice.

Even better than the movie clip is this segment from his David Letterman debut in 2012. Give it a listen:

Bonus content: Here's the video of the song he tries to play in that South African concert:

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Pause That Refreshes

Taking a quick break at the halfway mark of my 10 things posts. I finished off this page in my 1961 binder over the weekend when the Yogi card arrived. An interesting (to me) page. Lots of yellow/red name/team blocks here. With a bit of blue and an orange outlier thrown in. Also lots of star power here with Kaline and Maz in addition to Berra who is at Yankee Stadium as is Turk Lown.

Lown was nearing the end of an 11-year career, mostly as a reliever and it was one of his better ones. Dick Ellsworth had a handful of very good seasons in a rollercoaster career. This pic was used again for his 1962 card.

I had never really associated the Ray Barker in this set with the 'Buddy' Barker on the Yankees when I lived up there in the late 60s. Same guy. He had a long minor league career and had a short stint with the Orioles in 1960 before re-appearing with the Yanks later in the decade. My original copy was extremely miscut so I recently upgraded it to this one.

Looks like Maz was photographed in Wrigley. Stobbs as well (he was with the Cards in '58 so it's possible). Stobbs pitched 15 seasons, mostly for the Red Sox and Senators. Coot Veal's name was always worth a second look as a kid. His real name is Orville Inman Veal.

The Braves team card is in the spot it would have been had Topps not messed up and mis-numbered it. They gave it #426 on the checklist but the back has #463 as does Jack Fisher's card. Sticking it in the 'correct' slot was a simple solution for me.

Those team card backs with pitchers W-L versus the other teams provided me with hours of entertainment. I'd wonder why Spahn could have such good results against the league but go 1-5 against the Pirates. Bob Buhl beat the Bucs four times but the rest of the staff could only win five? Then I'd probably remember that the Pirates won the pennant and I'd go look at the rest of the NL team cards I had to see how they fared against the champs. A great time to be a kid with your cards.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

10 Posts, 10 Cards, 10 Books, 10 Songs (#5)

See, I told you they wouldn't all be cards. What we have here is the latest addition to my modest Jennifer Beals collection. I have a serious crush on Ms. Beals and have for a long time. I first saw her in 1983's Flashdance which I watched when it opened because my friend, Robert Wuhl had a one-line, very brief, moment of screen time in one of the club scenes. I won't debate the quality of Flashdance but I came away with an appreciation for Ms. Beals. (And, yes, I know she had a double for much of the dancing) As attractive as I found her then, she is one of those women who has gotten even more beautiful with age.

That photo is a promotional piece for The Bride, which I have never seen despite Beals' role. It just looked unwatchable. But it did also star one of my favorite musical performers, Sting.  I don't have much in my Beals collection....a few movie stills, a weird French poster/card that I showed here way back when, and a commemorative Flashdance DVD that came packed in a 'leg warmer sleeve'. I kid you not. 

(BTW....the White Whale of my Jennifer Beals collection would be, well,  Jennifer Beals 💘)

I wrote about this book (which I read for at least the third time last summer) on my 1959 Topps blog when I did some 'suggested reading' posts. Here's what I said then:

The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop. by Robert Coover is the most unique book on my shelf. 
Coover's book centers around J. Henry Waugh, an accountant who in his spare time, has built a fictitious baseball league the schedule of which he plays out using a dice based baseball game he devised. That's a little like saying "Hoover Dam holds back water".... it doesn't begin to describe the real treasure that this dark story is.

Waugh's league has 59 years of history, generations of players, league politics, feuds and rivalries. All of which has been chronicled in meticulous detail by the ever more obsessed Henry Waugh. Little by little the league has consumed Waugh and taken over his life (and the narration of the book after awhile).

Coover tells a great story and though his works contain no other baseball related books he has an obvious knowledge of the game and it's nuances. This is quite a ride. I had wanted to read this one for quite awhile and finally grabbed a copy a couple of seasons ago. I played quite a bit of Strat-O-Matic baseball as a kid and I was expecting a story of a guy obsessed with dice baseball. It's obviously much more than that and had me hooked from the start.

I mentioned Sting above and the fact that he's one of my favorite performers. I've seen him many times in concert, both as a member of The Police and on his own. My wife and I saw his Houston show when he toured alongside Paul Simon a few years ago. I paid with blood to get seats in the second row and it was worth every dime. They sang together, singularly, sang their own stuff and each other's. A memorable night for sure. 

Desert Rose, from his Brand New Day LP, is among my favorite Sting songs. It features a guest appearance by Algerian singer Cheb Mami, a not-so-great guy with a remarkable voice.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

10 Posts, 10 Cards, 10 Books, 10 Songs (#4)

I had just about given up on finding Batman sketch cards on eBay. I check once a week or so and the same old stuff was there, most of it not close to being worth the asking prices. Then a few weeks back I saw that Nathan Parrish had put up a bunch of his work at very low prices. I've picked up some of his 'cards' before. He uses several different tools in his sketches, pencil, colored markers, and so on. I also like how he portrays the different eras of the Dark Knight saga. The one above is my favorite of the latest batch.

As a really cool bonus, he wrapped them in a Japanese paper, similar to how I believe cards were traditionally distributed. Although the paper was likely not this beautiful. Here are a couple:

When my kids were very young we had them enrolled in the daycare facility at San Jacinto JC (yes, the place where Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte pitched). The program they had was top notch. They required that one of us be enrolled so I took night and/or Saturday classes each semester. I ended up with an IT certificate. But that's a long way to my point...I took one 'for fun' non-credit class, Intro to American Roots Music aka...Jazz Appreciation 101.

The instructor was a huge fan of tenor sax legend Dexter Gordon. From that class, I came away with an appreciation of him as well. I nabbed this book when it came out a few months ago and read it over the holidays. Gordon was a remarkable talent, grandson of a Medal of Honor winner and son of a doctor. He also had his share of trials and failings. But the sum total of his music is staggering. The book, written by his widow (actually she finished his autobiography), is very readable and insightful. I enjoyed it. It's too new to be out there at a discount though.

I could have picked any one of dozens of Gordon videos out on the net. If your life is spinning too fast try this: pour a drink (Makers 46 is my current choice), find a comfortable recliner, and crank up some Dexter Gordon.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

10 Posts, 10 Cards, 10 Books, 10 Songs (#3)

My wife has been out of town most of the week so it was the perfect time for a crack party. Now hold on. It wasn't what you just thought. You see I've had about a dozen graded cards that need to be in my set binder kicking around my hobby room for months. Today I grabbed a pair of pliers, a flat screwdriver and those encased cards and went to town. The result? Filled binder holes and a few upgraded cards as well.

That Mike Schmidt was one of them. He had a place reserved in my '76 binder and since it was filling up fast I needed him in there with his friends. A '76 Ryan joined him.

Here is Schmidt before he was free to breathe.

The others who were paroled from plastic prisons were from Topps 1959 and 1962 sets (all upgrades) and several 1961s. Those were filling holes. And rest assured that the broken plastic pieces were properly disposed of. They went into the recycling bin. The best news is that I didn't damage a single card which shows that I'm improving my skills.

There are dozens of Muhammad Ali bios. Just search Amazon and you'll be overwhelmed. But of the few I've read David Remnick's King of the World is head and shoulders above the rest. It's nearly twenty years old but the story holds up. Great writer detailing a fascinating man. Reading about the Liston and Patterson fights, which I thought I knew quite a bit about, was eye-opening. Amazon has copies for under $2 plus shipping. 

I grew up listening to Top 40 A.M. radio during the time of the British Invasion. The Beatles, Dave Clark Five, the Kinks, etc. Mixed in was a lot of Beach Boys, Motown and Philly Soul. But when I got to high school my group of friends (and therefore the music I heard) changed quite a bit. 

One artist I discovered and came to love was King Curtis. Curtis Ousley was a terrific sax player, bandleader and composer. He died far too young. I absolutely wore out this album in the early seventies. Heavy rotation in my dorm suite alongside Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, and Miles Davis.

King Curtis live at the Fillmore West  Soul Serenade

Bonus content: I found this video looking for the above one. It's from the Montreux Jazz Festival. I had this whole thing on a reel-to-reel tape at one time. Never had a player so I had to date someone with one. Here 'tis: King Curtis & Champion Jack Dupree Live from Montreux 1971

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

10 Posts, 10 Cards, 10 Books, 10 Songs (#2)

This is a Dorman postcard featuring my Dad's favorite pitcher, Allie Reynolds. Love these Dormands. Just terrific photography. I have three others but they are all of Billy Pierce. I first bought a graded one which I never had the heart to un-crack. So I fond a couple of others, one for the BP binder and one for my postcard collection.

Reynolds was an Oklahoma kid who didn't play baseball until after he graduated high school. His parents' strict religious belief prevented that. He's an interesting guy and his SABR bio is worth checking out. He was the first AL pitcher to throw two no-hitters in one season. He had a World Series record of 7-2 and won seven titles with the Yankees. No wonder my father loved the guy.

Today's book gets an asterisk. That's because I'm not quite finished with it. I have about a quarter of it left but I can't see it letting me down so I feel confident in featuring it. If you were to check my bookshelves you'd find about equal amounts of historical fiction, presidential bios, baseball and football history, sports bios, and hobby-related books. This is one of the better presidential bios I've read:

I really didn't know much about Grant past what you read in history books and such. Ronald White does a fine job of revealing him as a great military tactician, family man, and patriot.

And speaking of my Dad, as I was earlier, he picked up a love for the Beatles from me. I remember he'd come to sit in my room (I had the only record player in the house) and listen to the Beatles' Second Album with me. It was his favorite. Interestingly it was a US-only release album that was put together by Capitol Records to capitalize (pun intended) on their unbelievable popularity at the time. Of course, we were unaware of this. All we knew was that they were putting out music like their hair was on fire. By the time we'd saved enough paper route money for one album, another one was hitting Nunzio's record shop in Nutley.

Anyway, here is my favorite Beatles song and it happens to come from my favorite Beatles album:

My father bought this album for me in New York City the day it was released in December of 1965 so I could have it for my birthday the next day. He stood in line after work at some record shop in Manhatten. I always suspected he was anxious to hear it, too.

Bonus content:

Here's something I picked up in the same COMC haul as the Dormand. It a sweet (aren't they all?) '53 Bowman Reynolds.

And more bonus content, the old man's favorite Beatles' song:

Monday, January 14, 2019

10 Posts, 10 Cards, 10 Books, 10 Songs

I enjoy cards, I enjoy books, I enjoy music. Nothing unique about that as I'm sure plenty of you do as well. Recently I've been going thru my hobby collection as I get ready to downsize it. By 'downsize' I mean organizing the good stuff and getting rid of the clutter. All my remaining junk wax era non-Orioles? Adios. Commons from earlier this decade when I was buying blasters that I opened and immediately boxed up? Toast. The 1600 count boxes of 80s and 90s basketball and hockey that I've sifted through for anything worth keeping? Gone.

Anyway, in scrounging through boxes, binders, and shelves I've come across cards, pics, publications I've intended to put up on here but never have. I thought that I'd remedy that over the next few weeks. And just to make writing these more fun for me I figured I'd pair the memorabilia with books and songs I own and enjoy as well. Because why not? And as I implied they will not all be cards.

My guidelines:
  • Only things that have not been posted here will be included
  • The elements may or may not be connected
  • I'm gonna keep them short
Books and music will be from my shelves so you'll get an idea of my tastes in both. Be warned: I'm pretty 'mainstream' when it comes to my reading and listening.

I'll kick this off with the wonderful 1952 Topps Jackie Jensen.  If anyone would ask me why collectors dig the '52 set I'd just show them this card. I'm not sure what the background shows but I like to think it's the colors of a sunset reflecting on a stadium net. Whatever it actually is makes for a great card.

My copy has some seriously rounded corners but I'm fine with having added it to my Jensen PC.

First book up in the rotation of books is Game Faces by Peter Devereaux (that link takes you to the book on Google Books where you can see sample pages). The book features cards from the tobacco era and ties them to history, culture and the people of the time. You can read it from the beginning or just pick it up and browse through random pages. really good stuff.

I own that Mathewson on the cover, but I've shown it here multiple times.

Today I will tie the song to the card, sort of. It's Jackie Wilson, a much-underappreciated talent who really never gets much mention anymore. My friends and I were fans when we were in school in the mid to late 60s. Here's my favorite Wilson song, (You're Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher.

I hadn't thought about him or the song in a long time. Then, during this last Christmas season, I set a bunch of new presets in my Sirius radio to escape some of the temporary holiday stations. It was playing on an R&B channel and soon it was in my gym playlist. Catchy, right?

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Billy Pierce (and a friend or two)

I've added a few Billy Pierce photos to my binder over the past few months. This first one is a promo shot of Billy P with the much-traveled Virgil Trucks. It's been signed by both. Trucks came over to the White Sox in June of 1953 and pitched in the rotation with Pierce for two and a half seasons before being dealt away following the '55 campaign.

This wasn't the first time the two had been teammates. Trucks was an established vet whit the Tigers when Pierce debuted with them at the age of 18 in 1945. Trucks was still there when Pierce got a longer look and won a job in Detroit in 1949.

Both of these guys were cordial and prolific signers after their careers. For the life of me, I can't remember why I thought it was a good idea to scan these in black and white mode. It makes the sigs look fake but they are real. LOL

This signed George Brace photo is my second copy, the first with a nasty fingerprint on the surface of the photo.

The third and final pic isn't signed but it's my fave of the group since it's a wire photo from Spring Training, 1958.  In case you can't read the cutline Pierce is shown alongside Dick Donovan and Early Wynn.

The Sox finished second to the Yanks in 1958, ten games back. They were still a year away from their '59 World Series appearance. The Athletics finish 7th, 19 games back that year so the Sox were actually closer to 7th than they were to 1st. For whatever that's worth. The three guys in the pics didn't disappoint, though. They won 17, 15 and 14 games respectively.

Speaking of Early Wynn...I'll leave you with two things I read while poking around the 'net: 1) He whiffed more hitters than any other pitcher during the decade of the 50s and 2) on July 18, 1956 he was hit in the face with a line drive off the bat of the Senators' Jose Valdivielso. He needed sixteen stitches and lost seven teeth. He was back without missing a start and shut out the Orioles on six hits (and got a pair himself) in a complete game win on July 22. Damn.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Set My Clemente Free!

Alternate title: "Set 'Em Free, Part II" 😉

Got home Monday night and found that I had this '61 Clemente waiting for me.

Since I had my needle-nose pliers and screwdriver still on my workbench from the morning's operations I figured I'd crack open this one quickly. The damned case never even made it into my house. Here is the result...

This is one of my favorite Clemente cards. Love a well-done portrait and this certainly qualifies. I've heard the stories about Topps (and writers, and Bob Prince) referring to him as 'Bob' and how he hated it but those may be apocryphal. Whatever the case, he was 'Bob' on this one.

One of the great sports-related blessings of my life is that I got to see Clemente play. He truly was electric. I've related the Bob Moose no-hitter story previously but I thought about it again recently when no-hitters came up on Twitter. Moose shut down the Mets in Shea Stadium late in the 1969 season and that's the only no-hitter I've witnessed in person.  Clemente's athleticism saved the glory for Moose with a great catch of Wayne Garrett's drive in the sixth. I found this on the SABR page dedicated to Moose's gem:

After pinch-hitter Jim Gosger struck out and Tommie Agee grounded to second, Wayne Garrett connected for the Mets’ first and only hard-hit ball. “When he hit the ball,” admitted Moose, “I thought it was gone, but then I saw the wind hold it up. I knew that if anybody could catch it, Roberto would.” Clemente raced to the warning track and made what (NY sportswriter Leonard) Koppett described as a “leaping catch” against the right-field wall to preserve the no-hitter.
I even found a grainy photo of Clemente against the fence after making the catch taken from a newscast shown on NY television years layer. It's funny the tricks that your mind will play. I've always remembered it as Clemente ending up in foul territory after a running catch. Obviously not so.

He also made the greatest throw I've ever seen in person in the first game I watched in the Astrodome way back in the summer of 1967 but that story will wait for another time.

Meanwhile, I'm one star card closer to finishing this 1961 set. I did some COMC shopping today and also got a message that someone on Net54 is generously sending me some mid-series 61's which now puts me 'just' 40 cards short.

EDIT: As I was slipping this into the binder late last night I saw that it completes a rather nice page:

In addition to Clemente, we see Ralph Terry who I saw pitch frequently for the Yanks and (ironically) was the Game 7 (and Game 4) loser in the 1960 World Series to Clemente's Bucs. There are no less than three rookie-award emblazoned cards. Bob Aspromonte and Winston Brown (who's capless photo and non-existent big league career drag down the whole thing) warranted stars but my man Chuck Estrada got that beauty of a card featuring the Top Hat trophy! Also seen is a nice shot of Ken Walters at Connie Mack, Reno Bertoia in one of the first cards depicting a Twin as a Twin, and Don Caldwell and Glen Hobbie on a Cubs special. Interesting that Topps recycled the 'Batter Bafflers' thing from a 1959 card featuring two equally middle-of-the-road Red Sox hurlers.

Finally, in the upper right slot is a sweet (but damaged) card of frequent NL All-Star Del Crandall. Somehow Del fell off my 'upgrade this' list that I took to the hotel card show on Saturday. I'm sure I saw a copy in Daryll's vintage boxes. Next time!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Let 'Em Breathe!

I picked up two more All-Stars for the 1961 set build. I almost always go after raw cards but sometimes you find a graded card at a reasonable price. My normal procedure is to let them stew in their cases for a few days and then throw a 'freedom party' out on my workbench.

Ever since I damaged a '59 Killebrew rookie with an overzealous screwdriver I've been more careful doing this. I did ding my '62 Willie Mays but overall I've had success. What I normally do is stick the label (I've learned it's called a 'flip') into the binder on the back side of the card.

This morning I went from this... this...

...and finally to this...

Now that I look at the scans I think I'm going to pull the flips out of the binder pockets. Viewing three of them on a page is kind of annoying. #retiredguyproblems :-)

Progress report: I'm at 538 of the 587 cards in the '61 set (92% give or take). 34 of the cards I lack are high numbers including three All-Stars (Aparicio, Banks, Mays). Of the 15 lower series cards a couple are stars/rookies including the Marichal rookie. I'd also like to upgrade one card... I have a Mantle World Series Game 2 (card #307) which is trimmed.

I made the hotel show this past Saturday but I've pretty much exhausted the supply of  '61s that my friend Darryl had available. I picked up both of Bill Mazeroski's cards from him.

Overall I think I've made pretty decent progress on this thing. From time to time (particularly when looking at high number cards of lesser-known players) wonder how I could have let myself get into the chase for this. But it's been fun. I have a goal (a soft goal!) of finishing it this calendar year. We'll see.

Friday, January 4, 2019

New Year, New Stuff (From Joe Shlabotnik)

OK, so technically this padded envelope from Joe S came near the end of 2018 but I really didn't get to process it until January 1. So I'm calling this my first 2019 trade package. Joe had peeked over at my 1976 and 1975 Topps wantlists and the cards he sent put a healthy dent in said lists.

First of all, let's talk about the '76 Traded cards. When I bought the starter lot that launched me into the chase for the '76 set I didn't give those extra 44 cards much thought. I've seen them through the years but in 1976 I wasn't actively collecting anything (except maybe hangovers, overdraft notices, and failed relationships). It wasn't until Joe asked me which ones I had that I looked closer and figured "44 cards, why not?"

Back to the envelope...Joe filled part of the Traded set void and along with those he included base set needs for 1976 and 1975 which is another current project. I only scanned some representative examples. I was anxious to get them all into the binders. Damn, mid-70s Topps cards sure were colorful!

And sometimes fantastic. Like this one:

Between the wonderful 'fro, the terrible airbrush job and the punny 'headline' this baby is one remarkable piece of cardboard!

Red, pink, orange, green, blue. Rick Waits' card touches all the color bases.

This Jim Sundberg card was a dupe but it was also an upgrade! When I made my frequent trips to Arlington to see the Rangers (and usually the Orioles) two things were sure to happen... Jim Sundberg would be the catcher and huge dark storm clouds would pass over or near Arlington Stadium. Never failed.

I put this Luis Tiant card in the post because I like it.

It wouldn't be a Shlabotnik gift pack if it didn't contain off-the-beaten-track Orioles cards, both old and new. Like this Leaf Eddie Murray.

Or this Chrome Brian Roberts which my scanner choked on. Funny thing about Roberts. His career fits very neatly into my time away from baseball. I'm still amazed that the Orioles had a guy that once led the league in stolen bases.

Here's an Eric Davis card with one of those peel-y plastic sheets on it. I look at pulling them off as being akin to removing the label from mattresses. You know it's OK but something lurks in the back of your mind whispering 'Nooooo!'

Joe dropped a few Texans on me as well. One reason I'm hurrying through these is that I'm busy doing stuff I'd normally be taking care of tomorrow when I'll be at the Texans-Colts playoff game.

Keshawn Martin will go into my fantasy player binder since my old one of him uses a training camp pic with him wearing "00". I hate those.

Modern Brooks Robinson cards. I wonder what Hall of Famer has the most cards in modern sets. Ruth? Jackie Robinson? Mantle? I'm sure Brooksie is fairly high on the list.

I scanned this Rodrigo Lopez because I like the Fleer logo. I'm normally in favor of simple card designs but the auto under the name doesn't work.

Insert Ripken above. Jaunty cap angle Ripken below.

This Fleer set might be the only 1990s set I'd ever consider putting in a binder. It's very Stadium Club-ish. Joe included most of the Orioles team set in the envelope. If nothing else I might just finish that. Here's Moose.

Tony Tarasco looking badass.

When I did my Spring Training tour a few years ago Tarasco was coaching with the Nationals. My goal was to get him to sign a ball with an inscription reading "I had it all the way!". (Bonus points for getting the reference) When I was able to meet him after one of the games in Viera he had a lot of family and friends around so I settled for just a quick hello and a signed ball.

Raffy Palmeiro. I always think of my first visit to Camden Yards when I see him on an Orioles card. His suspension was big news since it occurred the day prior to my arrival. Sweet card though.

Finally, Joe included this Manny Machado Commemorative Players Weekend patch. It's thick and weighty. I dig the caps the Orioles wore for that season's Players' Weekend. Do these come inserted in regular packs? I've never gotten a 'thick' card like this from a pack that I recall. I suppose that's not surprising given how few packs I buy.

I know what the logo represents but whenever I see it I think of this:

Did I read this morning that Machado has a big offer from the White Sox? He's turned into a villain now but I'm still hoping he signs with an AL team so I can get to the ballpark and see him once or twice a year. Villian status be damned.

Anyway, that's just a portion of the cards I got from Joe. It's like the second or third one he's sent without a return from me. I need to do something about that. Oh, and I failed to mention earlier... his blog is among the best of the best. I mean that. I doubt anyone reading this is unaware but here is the link to The Shlabotnik Report. Did I spell that right? ;-)