Thursday, April 30, 2020

Filling holes in a binder

Yesterday I finally got around to taking the 1974 cards I had acquired from COMC and thru the generosity of a fellow blogger or two (Hi Fuji!!) and putting them in my binder. It struck me that after all this time I still don't know what I think of this set. Ask me today and I'll tell you how much I like it, how I dig the team colors being used, etc

Ask me tomorrow and I'm liable to hand you the binder and never miss it. That sort of parallels how I feel about these specific cards, all coming from Fuji. They are all 'game action' shots. All show the player prominently but have sort of odd angles where the player isn't facing the camera. The backgrounds of each of them is out-of-focus. Are they brilliant, offbeat, quirky, artsy?  Or do they suck?

I dunno, ask me tomorrow.

Monday, April 27, 2020

From The Sublime... the ridiculous.

This is a two-sided David Klingler laminated drink coaster. It was a $1 buy at the last TriStar show. It's exactly what I went there to find.*   It sits next to my keyboard at the moment.

*=that's just bullshit.

Oh, I forgot to include this '67 in my last post. Helluva lot of talent here I'd say.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

'67 Clemente (and friends)

I'm accumulating a bunch of 1967 Topps baseball these days. I really don't know if I'll go after the whole thing. But, even if I don't, there are worse things to have sitting around that these gems, yes?

I got this Clemente from a guy on Net54. My friends and I were endlessly amused by the fact that the Pirates wore caps with their letter logo applied via a patch on the front. That was the sort of thing we got as giveaways on Cap Days.

But 'patch cap' notwithstanding, it's a neat portrait card.

Glenn Beckert passed away recently, and I was reminded of how good that Banks-Beckert-Kessinger-Santo infield was back in their heyday. I also thought about it just this week while looking into Dick Ellsworth's 1960 card for an upcoming post on that blog. He had few good things to say about the Cubs' organization of that time.

Roy Face popped up on that blog as well with his special card shared with Hoyt Wilhelm.  Face went 18-1 for the Bucs in 1959 pitching 57 times out of the bullpen. I don't see how that's possible but it happened.

And it looks like Face had a legit, directly embroidered cap. I wonder how this all worked?

Here are three guys who were, at one point or another, Orioles.

Don Buford played for the O's for five seasons, from 1968 through the end of his career. He was with the Sox for five years before that although his first season was just 12 games. Buford played four years in Japan after his Orioles tenure.

He was an infielder during his Chicago days. When he came to Baltimore he played almost everywhere for a bit before settling in as the regular left fielder on those powerhouse clubs of  '69-'72. He made one All-Star team. In the 1971 ASG he batted for the guy whose card is just below and he whiffed.

My scanner cut the bottom border off Buford's card and I'm too lazy to dig it out to re-scan.

Here's one of my very favorite players, Mike Cuellar. I've always liked this road uni. It was what the 'Stros were wearing when I first got here and I followed them very closely. Cuellar was good in Houston. Begining in 1969, he was great for the Orioles.

This is as good a place as any to reprint my story of sitting next to Cuellar in the Astrodome for a 1968 game. This was posted back in 2014.
We came to Houston in the late '60s because my father was transferred here by Shell Oil. One of the perks was scoring company seats at the Astrodome from time to time. And I'm here to tell you that Shell had goooood seats. Second row behind home plate. So nice in fact that they shared that row with the Astro management and sometimes we were sitting next to team executives and other front office types.
But we attended one game in 1968 that had us seated next to then-Astro Mike Cuellar and  reliever Fred Gladding. Fred Flintstone was on the DL so I understood his being in street clothes in the stands but why was Mike Cuellar sitting next to me with some sort of binder charting pitches? Didn't guys do that from the dugout? But there he sat, wearing expensive-looking shoes, shiny silver/gray pants and a mock turtleneck. That 'look' was pretty much the off-the-field 'uniform' of major leaguers back then. I got my program signed by both players and I remember having a few brief exchanges with Cuellar.
Cuellar became a favorite of mine and I was thrilled when he was dealt to my Orioles that winter even though the thought then was that the O's got snookered, picking up a washed up junkballer. But tossing that remarkable screwball he went on to become one of the best pitchers in O's history, winning the Cy Young in 1969. I skipped school to stay home and watch him beat the Mets in Game 1 of the 1969 World Series and he cemented his place in my heart with his great win over the Reds in Game 5 of the 1970 Series which wrapped up the championship for the O's. That was the same year he hit a grand slam in Game 1 of the ALCS against the Twins. Didn't pitch well that day but his slam was a huge kick for me.
Last man up is Johnny Orsino. Unlike Buford and Cuellar, he was an ex-Oriole in '67. He came to Baltimore in 1963 after a long minor league climb through the Giants' chain and a few months of big-league time in San Francisco. He stepped into the starting catching job, played 116 games, hit .272 and swatted 19 homers. It was easily his best year in baseball. His playing time dropped over the next few years as his hitting regressed. He split time with Dick Brown and Charlie Lau for a couple of years. Andy Etchebarren pushed that entire crew out of the picture in the Orioles' championship year of 1966. Orsino had been dealt to the Senators for Woody Held. He played little and, in fact, had just one at-bat in '67 and never played in the majors again. But he can say something that a lot of major league vets can't say. His name is in a World Series box score. He had an at-bat in the '62 Series for the Giants. In Game One, he entered as part of a double switch in the top of the ninth and faced Whitey Ford in the bottom of the inning. Ford got him to ground into a 5-4-3 double play.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

I'm Batman

Chasing a bunch of football sets has kept me off the non-sports trail for a bit. I did pick up a couple of new Batman sketch cards over the last few months. Nothing remarkable but I think I've already cherry-picked the supply that was out there on eBay and Etsy. But these were cheap so I figured 'why not?'

Actually, I'm saving my money for the new Kickstarter Mars Attacks set. Gonna be fun. But here's the Dark Knight:

Sunday, April 19, 2020

1970 Kellogg's 3-D Football

One of the more fun (and easier) football sets that I put together during my recent football kick (pun intended) was this gem. Kellogg's only did two football sets, both 3D, of course. This one, the 1970 set, was available to consumers in complete form with a mail-in order option. Their followup the next year wasn't offered thru the mail so if you wanted the full 60 card set you had to eat (or at least buy) a crapload of  Corn Flakes and Raisin Bran.

This 1970 bunch (and I'm assuming all the Kellogg's 3-D sets) was produced by the Xograph Company. The design is simpler than the 1971 offering which had a border of stars around the photo. I must say I prefer this cleaner look.

Not much point in typing a lot on these. They are probably familiar to most collectors. There are plenty of stars and future Hall of Fame players included. I haven't double-checked this but I saw it mentioned online that only five players appeared in both years.

Juice here looks to be on the team's bench in this photo. That's about as close as you'll come to an actual game action shot.

Here's one...Johnny U. My hero. I had the Colts from this set, Unitas, Bubba Smith, Tom Matte and John Mackey, in my Colts collection. But since these are pretty inexpensive it was an easy call to just grab a second copy for this set's binder.

Speak of the devil...

George Webster was a terrific player, very much an overlooked talent both then and now. Like John Mackey above, he's been placed in front of a Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum background.

I've heaped praise on Gale Sayers on this blog many times. This is another card I grabbed a second copy of. No need to cannibalize my Sayers collection, small thou it may be.

Sayers' teammate, Dick Butkus. A real badass.

Yes, Alex Karras played football. He wasn't just that guy in Blazing Saddles.

Speaking of actors. 

Recently Night Owl did a fun post in which he took a deep dive into the card numbers on Topps baseball through the years. There were a few that failed the 'Is it easy to sort these?' test, especially if your eyes have a few years on them.

Well, even the toughest Topps number font/color/position takes a backseat to these things.

If you're not familiar with the backs, well, the number is down there on that line in the lower right-hand corner. Don't squint, I've done the work for you:

The backs had various configurations of pretty much the same info, depending on whether the player had stats to display. In general, they all listed basic vitals, some notes on his college, what Kellogg's called 'personal info' which was a blurb about being drafted, traded, injured, and so on. 'Pro Honors' was just that. One thing they didn't include, front or back, was the name Kellogg's. I'm sure someone knows why.

To fill space some cards had 'It's a Fact' blurbs.

George Webster got two of those. Here's a closer look.

And a few more backs showing how they moved the blocks around to fit the space.

For the sake of comparison here's the Kellogg's 1971 Colts LB Bob Grant. Again, there is no mention of Kellogg's anywhere.

At least the number is a little bit bigger.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Leafs Are In The Bag

There seems to be a point in all of my set chases where I say to myself: "Self, why on earth did you decide to collect this damn thing?" Usually, it's when I'm frustrated with a star card that has eluded me for a while. In the case of the 1960 Leaf set...well, it's hard to point to that one moment. But I can tell you what was behind it...lack of homework.

Don't get me wrong…I love this thing. But there were a few times that I was tempted to pack it in and admit defeat. The 'high numbers' (can cards #'d 73 to 144 really be called high numbers?) are a pain to find and a pain in the wallet when you do find them. I quickly determined that any of the high numbers priced below $20 were a bargain. I grabbed any I could. Some came cheap, as low as $8 if I got lucky. Others ended up costing me closer to $30. Had I looked harder at the set before I was committed to it, I may have bailed. But I stuck with it.

You can read all the particulars of this quirky thing over on the SCD website if you want to. Over here, I'm celebrating finishing it! And an interesting finish it was. A month or two back I returned from one of my extended breaks from the chase and dug into eBay. I found a seller with a bunch of these up for auction. I bid on all I needed but only won one of them.

The day after those auctions closed I found a dealer with a stack of these things, and at reasonable prices. Plus, and sweet Jesus this was great, he was accepting offers. I jumped in and nabbed several at better prices than I had seen in the past. Between those purchases, my eBay win, a BIN or two and a COMC delivery I went from lacking 15ish to needing just four or five. A nice chunk of the haul came in one day:

Inspired by my new gems, a trip back to COMC turned up a Gene Green card and into my basket it went. Then an eBay search led me to this one and even with the 'Yankee tax' I couldn't complain too much.

Meanwhile, I had posted the photo of my 'big delivery haul' on Twitter and something amazing happened. Talmer Curry, an Orioles/Ravens fan who I had never interacted with, reached out to me with word that he had some '60 Leaf high numbers and asked what I needed. Wait, what?

I messaged him back with my needs and low and behold, Talmer asked for my address so he could knock two real toughies off my list! Here's one...

I think that in all the time I had been working on this set I'd only seen one Johnny Callison on eBay and I remember that I was outbid, by a lot. And now here I had this card through the generosity of a stranger. And then there is this other one Talmer sent...

His given name is Barbra O'Neil Chrisley but whatever it is I'm damn sure happy to slide him into one of the last open slots in my binder. Mr. Chrisley is rarely available in the usual places. But he's mine now.

And so it came down to this guy(s). The Two Smiths is another rare one, or at least it seemed to me to be next-to-impossible to find at anything approaching a reasonable price. But I did another in a long line of eBay searches for it and found one that had one low bid at the time. Figuring there was no way it would stay that way I stuck a snipe on it for $60. That's more than a reasonable man should pay for it but I'm rarely reasonable. And I won the last 1960 Leaf I needed for less than $16.

It is a pretty neat card actually. Here's a look at how the back differs from the standard ones.

So that's a wrap. I'll post some others here as I get the chance. There are very few 'stars' but a lot of these guys have fun baseball stories to tell. And some of the cards in my binder do as well. Like my Curt Flood card. The only one I saw for a couple of years is still sitting there on COMC with a $130 price tag. It's not even graded. If I was going to quit on this set I figured it the Flood card was going to do it. But I ended up nabbing a real beauty of a Flood for 1/10th that price.

Little victories like that, and being the recipient of generous gifts like the one from Talmer Curry, make this hobby such fun.

I'm done with this one but not 'finished'. For one thing, I have the Gene Green card at COMC and when I last looked my purchases had a late June expected shipment date. I'm fine with that. It's only cardboard and the folks there have bigger fish to fry, like trying to stay safe while working. My cards will get here when they get here.

And if you read that SCD entry you'll see that there are a couple of variations that I may or may not decide to track down at some point. There are also some prototypes floating around, but they are far out of my range. And finally, there are a couple of cards I would like to upgrade. I have one of two of those on the way already.

But the bottom line is that I have met my goal. I have a set or two on the horizon but I think I'll just sit back for a bit and savor this one.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Jackie Robinson Day

Today is the anniversary of Jackie Robinson's big league debut in 1947. Under normal circumstances, the majors would be awash with players wearing #42 as a tribute to his courage.

I only have a couple of vintage Jackie cards, so I figured today would be a good day to show my favorite again.

I hope all of you are staying smart and healthy.  And here's to Jackie Robinson. May we all possess his courage in trying times.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Back In The (Horizontal) Saddle

I don't like leaving things undone. And having two set-specific blogs started and more-or-less dormant has been bothering me for months.

After a few false (re)starts, I'm going to finish both my 1958 and 1960 set blogs. I'm going to work on one at a time. I've rolled out some 1960 Topps posts over the last few days and have more in the pipeline.

When I looked back at the first posts I published on these two new set blogs I saw that they were fairly long and detailed. I had done my 1959 blog that way, with what I thought was a good bit of research on each player featured. Attempting the same thing with two more sets, particularly producing them at the same time, burned me out.

I cut back on the length and the frequency of my posts but I still lost interest in working on them. And the fact that feedback for set blogs, particularly those dealing with vintage sets that are not considered classics, is almost nonexistent.

But I recently I've had time to go back and flip through many of my sets and have really fallen back in love with these old gems. I decided that I didn't want these blogs hanging out there undone.

Right now my plan is to work on the 1960 set and see where it takes me. I've condensed the entries to where I can finish them without devoting an entire evening to each one. I'll continue with the '60 set for a while and if I get tired of it I will jump over to my '58 blog and post there. Maybe I'll rotate by month. But I'm determined to finish them.

I hope I can have some folks along for the ride but even if I am posting for myself I like the idea that I am giving these pieces of cardboard a bit of a voice. Wish me luck!

Links to both sets are over in the sidebar. My 1960 blog has fresh content. I hope you'll take a peek.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Collections, Near and Far

I'm not even sure what that title means but whatever. This post will be the first of a handful I plan to write to summarize where I stand in terms of my set chases, what I've been picking up, and where I plan to go with collecting in the near and long term.

Let's start here:

Those are 1962 Topps cards and their 'parallel' Green Tint version. I dealt with them previously in detail while I was putting the '62 set together. If you are not familiar with the 'greenies', they are, in a nutshell, the product of the Topps second series being reprinted off-site due to unexpected demand. The story is that the original plates were damaged in transit and had to be re-done. You can check out this post to see what motivated me to just collect a subset of this goofy subset.

A few weeks ago I was paging thru my '62 set and when I got to the back where I had the green 'alts' I got the idea that I could collect the entire group without too much effort. So that's what I'm doing. No hurry. A already had a couple dozen of the 87 cards in the group. I found a few cheap ones on eBay so I'm at about 30.  This will be a 'low and slow' project, kind of like my 1960 Leaf build, only much cheaper.

These are old news to most everyone. Even I'd seen them and I don't see much of the Topps 'on demand' stuff. I bid on this set of 20 Graig Kreindler-painted cards from Topps' 150 Years of Baseball in a charity auction on Net54. The money raised went to a dog rescue organization.

Kreindler is really good. Much better (IMHO) than whomever they have doing the Living Set.

This Tony Gwynn is among my favorites. I like that he's wearing a Tony Gwynn wrist band.

At least I think it's a Tony Gwynn wristband.  Looking at it now it looks more like Bill Buckner.  LOL

I have another small set that I picked up but I'm saving that for a post of its own. So I'll finish with these:

Am I collecting the 1967 set now? Well, I'm not NOT collecting the '67 set. I lucked into some small lots and couldn't pass them up. I'm just going to see what I feel like once my other projects finish up.

If I look at too many of the cool vertical backs I will get hooked for sure!

These backs are damn close to perfect!

More on my ongoing projects and things I've wrapped upcoming next week. I hope everyone out there in blogger-land stays smart and safe. Don't take any chances, I have so few readers as it is. 😒