Saturday, March 27, 2021

Closet Discoveries

 I've been on a cleaning/reorganizing/purging binge lately and I attacked my hobby closet earlier this week. I opened four boxes from the upper shelves and had a lot of fun. Absolutely the best thing in any of my boxes was this Hank Aaron foldout I got the night he hit homer #712 in the Astrodome in September of 1973.

It opened up to a full four page home run log. There were spaces to fill in  homers 711 thru 715.


I filled in the slots (sorta) beginning with the dinger off Dave Roberts we witnessed that night. Jerry Ruess is the missing victim of #713. Jack Billinghan served up #714 and, of course, #715 was smacked off Al Downing. You can see that I underlined Jack Billingham in the listings. I believe I'd noticed his name a few times and was counting them up. Without Baseball Reference in those days we were on our own. BTW...Billingham gave up five Aaron homers thru the years, not early the top mark. Here are Hank's favorite pitchers:

Don Drysdale 17 homers
Claude Osteen 14
Bob Friend 12
Larry Jackson 10
Don Cardwell 10
Roger Craig 10

There was also a career summary that covered a couple of pages and a statistical summary of his career to that point.

I had no idea that this thing had survuved in my storage boxes. I was happy to see it. I still don't have the little paper certificate we received but finding this was a kick.

This piece is just the tip of the iceberg of what I dug out of these boxes and is currently stacked in my home office/hobby room. I've been busy scanning some really off-the-wall items which willkeep me posting for a while.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Epic Card Show Fail


OK, so it wasn't that big a deal but yesterday, for the first time I can recall, I attended a card show and walked away with every dime I brought with me. Blame it on my quirky wants, blame it on the explosion of interest in shiny stuff, blame it on the pandemic. But whatever is to blame, it felt weird. 

Coming home empty handed really was the result of all of the above excuses. I don't have much on my want-lists that dealers carry to small shows in the best of times.... '67 High Number SPs, '62 Post Cereal, '75 Topps Minis, and an admittedly odd selection of non-sport sets. The tables yesterday reflected the current trends in collecting. There were plenty of boxes of what I suppose are the kinds of cards people are in line for at Target these days. Display cases were generally filled with 'hits'.

Daryll, the promoter and my friend, did a great job with the show, the first hotel show since last year. COVID protocols were in place and enforced. I should note here that my wife, my mother-in-law, and myself are all fully vaccinated. If not for that I likely wouldn't have gone at all. 

He cut back on tables to give plenty of room for social distancing. But some of that is the reason for my striking out. With fewer tables the dealers cut back on what they brought. I normally spend at least 75% of my time at the hotel shows at Daryll's own tables since he usually has tons of vintage stuff. But he's limited what he brings and only sets up a few tables to give more to the dealers. After all, it's table rentals that pay for the room.

I struck out card-wise but getting to chat with Daryll for a bit made the trip worthwhile. And it was nice to get out of the house for a bit. I stopped at a few stores on the way home and bought binders and other hobby supplies so that made the trip worthwhile.  

Meanwhile, I have a few things that were picked up in my latest SportsLots binge and an eBay buy or two. The '62 Post Cereal McCovey up top brought me to just five remaining. There are also some variations out there which I don't plan to chase. If they fall into my lap I'd take them of course. I also added Juan Marichal. His card is a bit pricey but after a day or so of combing through eBay looking at '67 Topps SPs like the Rod Carew rookie, it doesn't seem so expensive. And it really is as nice as the scan shows. That level of condition is rare for a set that was generally cut from the backs of boxes by 10-year-olds with dull scissors.

Over on Twitter a hobby friend showed a couple of cards from a set I was unaware of, the 1968 Topps/Milton Bradley Hot Rods. I commented on them and did some digging. They reminded my of the George Barris 'Kustoms' that we loved as kids and he was gracious enough to send me the cards. Turns out I had a couple of these stashed away in a box of oddball singles and strays and had completely forgotten about them.

This turned out to be a 66 card set without any rarities so I'll work on it casually for now. I found a dozen or so being sold by an eBay dealer so I'm at 16 or so. Finding them, not cost, is the challenge. That's a much more enjoyable hobby predicament than wondering if nabbing the remaining 26 Topps 67s will take my whole stimulus check. 

There are some back color variations. The story behind these is a bit murky (I've read a couple of conflicting accounts) but I'm not going to worry about any of that. They will make a nice companion to the World On Wheels binder.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

1975 Topps Minis are Cute


I've been putting together the '75 Topps Mini set pretty casually for quite a while now. I finished the regular set a few years back and had a small stack of the more diminutive alternatives that came in a 'mixed lot/starter lot' I'd purchased. I also had most of the Orioles from long ago. I'm glad I have this one to play with since my '67 set build is stalled due to the silly prices that have been reached in the vintage market. When I get frustrated with folks asking $80 for a battered '67 7th Series SP I can go to SportsLots and toss a half dozen of these in my cart for about fifty cents each.

I've had fun with this as I have picked up the vast majority of what I have in the binder through good old trading. I've swapped dupes with Twitter and blogging friends, old and new. I've been sent some substantial packages in the mail in exchange for my sending dupes from other sets which is satisfying. I always end up with a healthy amount of dupes from most of my set builds because I have a habit of just grabbing lots and hoping for the best. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. 

Which reminds me...if you're building the '74 Topps set, get in touch. I can hook you up!

I don't have a lot of completed pages in my '75 Mini binder. The page I posted above is a pretty good one. It has a Hall of Famer, some solid players, some interesting players and a PC guy (Bob Moose). there's also a favorite Oriole of mine, some terrible airbrusing, and a nice cross secetion of card photo styles, posed, action, head shots, etc.  

It's also nicely representative of the colors the set uses. I've noticed that some of the pages in the back of the binder seen to be dominated by the orange/brown combo cards. Maybe that's just happenstance but it's definitely true at this point for me. 

If you have any dupes for this thing you're looking to offload please check out my wantlist over on the right. As i said, I have lots of stuff from 60s and 70s Topps sets I can trade.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Sprinking In Some Sigs

 I recently picked up a small group of signed cards form the Topps 1959 and 1960 sets. I'm not an autograph guy particularly but adding a few to my sets is a nice bit of 'gravy'. What's more, these were in really nice condition so most served as upgrades as well. 

The '59s...

Walt 'Moose' Moryn, whose '59 card blog post is here, was a fun-loving guy and a popular teammate. I included this from his SABR bio in that '59 blog post and seems worthy of being re-printed:

Among those who remembered Moose was Cardwell, whose no-hitter was nearly overshadowed by the drama of the game-saving catch. “He made me famous,” Cardwell told Jerome Holtzman for an obituary in the Chicago Tribune. “After I threw the pitch, I was leaning down with him and saying, ‘C’mon, Moose, make the catch.’“He was a good man, a ballplayer’s ballplayer. After the game I told him, ‘Moose, I owe you a beer.’ And he said ‘I’ll take you up on it.’ He enjoyed life. And he enjoyed people. He always drew the biggest crowd.”Another Cubs teammate was fellow St. Paul native Jerry Kindall, who was just 21 when he first arrived in Chicago fresh from the University of Minnesota. Kindall told Holtzman about his first encounter with the Moose. “I walked into the clubhouse and there was Walt,” Kindall said. “He was wonderful to me. He shepherded me around. He gave the appearance of a very gruff guy, but if you were a teammate, you saw through that in a hurry. He was really a tender-hearted guy.”

It's going on 10 years since I posted this card over on that set blog. Seeing a Ryne Duren card always reminds me of games at Yankee Stadium with my father. May they both RIP.

Johnny Klippstein began his pro career in 1944. Since I remember seeing him pitch I'm feeling pretty old right now. I included his first and last cards on the '59 set blog. Seafoam green card with a pic taken at the LA Coliseum...what's not to like.

The 60s...

Klippstein again and I'd bet this photo was taken at the same time as the one above. His cap sits the same way on his head. Pretty consistent signature through the years for sure.

Duren again. Lovely day at the ol 'ballyard as Red Barber used to say.

An old ESPN online story on baseball's hardest throwers had this entry for him:

He was perhaps the first truly frightening "power reliever." Famous for wearing "Coke-bottle glasses" and throwing his first warm-up pitch to the backstop, Duren threw as hard as anybody in the game. In 1958, his first full season with the Yankees, Duren struck out 87 hitters in 76 innings and led the American League with 20 saves. In his second season with the Yankees, Duren struck out 96 hitters in 77 innings.

How hard did Duren throw? Nobody used radar guns in those days, but Duren once told interviewer Dom Forker, "Anyway, I don't know how fast I threw, but I do know that Mantle told me I was the fastest he ever saw. And Tony Kubek said I threw harder than Nolan Ryan."

The alcoholism that hampered his career became others' salvation as Duren became a counselor later in life. 

There was also a 1994(?) Topps Archives faux '54 signed Klippstein in the mix but I didn't scan it. If anyone happens  to be collecting that set signed get in touch.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Project 2020 Jackie R.


In honor of Presidents Day I'm posting a card I've had on my desk for a month or two. I didn't follow the Topps Project 2020 thing very closely but I'm somehow back on their mailing list and this one caught my eye. I love that it's not the same old pose of Jack Roosevelt Robinson and besides that, it's pretty sharp. I didn't notice that there is some sort of 'gem' embedded in the thing to the left of the name box. I guess it makes sense given the card was designed by someone named Ben Baller who is, among other things according to the blurb on the back, a 'world-renowned jeweler'.  

It sat on my desk because anything in a case is a pain to scan and I don't like posting phone pix, but here we are. I'm hunkered down in Houston awaiting tonight's record low temp and feeling lucky that our power is still on. Figured I'd put my time to good use.

I've also been meaning to mention that, from the looks of the comments on my 'Paid Too Much' post, I'm not alone in being dismayed/bemused/confused by the state of the hobby right now. And if you don't think the hobby is wacky, check this out at the Heritage Auction site. Apparently, for the low price of $35K (!!!) you can own a piece of a video replay of a basketball two pointer. I'll be damned if I can make sense of the whole thing but there it is. And heritage is no fly-by-night outfit. They are a big player in the memorabilia business.



Friday, February 5, 2021

Paying Too Much

I'm the last guy who should be weighing in on the current state of the hobby but since when has that stopped me from opening my mouth? I see tweets and read blogs about guys sitting in lines for hours, not for COVID vaccines, but to buy boxes of cards at Target. I'm guessing they are trying to hit it big on shiny stuff. 

I used to buy a pack here and there, baseball and football mostly, just to see what the companies were up to. Then I stopped seeing anything on the shelves. One thing leads to another and card prices are way above where they were just a year or so ago. Where this leaves the hobby, how it affects kids trying to collect...I don't know. I have opinions but as someone who doesn't care about new cards my opinions aren't worth much. 

What does mean something to me is that the 'bubble' has tricked down and elevated the prices on almost everything. Pre-War cards shot up and not long after I noticed the prices of the cards that interest me, mid-50s thru late 70s stuff, followed the upward trend. I saw it in the cost of the 1967 Topps high numbers I am lacking. Run-of-the-mill raw cards in that group went from about $15/$18 to $27/$35, sometimes much higher, for anything better than VG-EX. I wish I had been more aggressive when I began the set because now, unless I get lucky with a bid group, I grab anything under $25 that doesn't have a chunk missing. 

Even the prices for 1962 Post Cereal cards, those that were 'short printed' (issued on the backs of unpopular cereals) have risen quite a bit. It kills my soul to spend big bucks on cards that appear to have been sliced off the boxes by seven-year-olds with a butter knife. But I'm too close on this set (and the '67T) to turn back or abandon the build. So here we are.

For the Post set I'm long done with the easy cards. Most of those are still available for 79 cents to a few dollars. But the ones in this post were somewhat tougher. That's why I was okay with paying for the Jerry Lynch card up top even with the penciled-in team change. Lynch, btw, was traded from the Reds to the Pirates in May of 1963. So either the box was on the shelf awhile or some kid liked updating his cards.

This Joe Amalfitano card was, believe it or not, the better of the two available on SportsLots. I've blocked out of my memory what I paid for it. LOL It's hard impossible to read but the card has a notation that he had been drafted by the Houston Colts.

Marty Keough had a younger brother and a son who played big league ball. At nearly 87 years old Marty has outlived them both.

 Then there's this Early Wynn. His card is a 'tweener', somewhat tough but not crazy overpriced. I'm always impressed by the fact that Wynn pitched his first big league game in 1939 and his last one in 1962. The card mentions that he's 'Seeking the charmed circle of 300 major league victories... He hit that goal in July, 1963 in his second to last career start. He was 43 that year and had a nice season overall with a 2.28 ERA and a 1.175 WHIP in 20 games (5 starts).

Wynn was also a pretty good hitting pitcher with a .214 average and 17 career homers. here is his Hall of fame plaque. He was elected in 1972 with 301 of 390 possible votes.

But back to my rant...I've been able to throttle back my usual urge to complete sets as soon as I can. I'll get these two done when I get them done. The '67T, in particular, will take some time because I'm going to wait out the bubble I think. 

And I doubt I'll start another set chase anytime soon.

Monday, February 1, 2021

1975(?) Sugar Daddy Connie Hawkins

I found this in a box of junk cards I was going through while trying to find something else. I'd forgotten about it and until now I didn't even have it on my Hawkins checklist. Sugar Daddy candy 'pops' were pretty popular when I was a kid. I'm sure they are still around. The elongated shape of Sugar Daddys led to the small size of the card (illustrated below) and odd shape.

This little card comes from the second of four mid-70s issues from Nabisco/Sugar Daddy. The first two sets were multi-sport and had 25 guys in each.  Hawkins is included in both of the first two series but the two checklists (again, look below) had a lot of overlap but were not exactly the same. They were both laid out with football players as the first cards, followed by hockey and then hoops. oddly, there is a lone stray hockey guy in the middle of the basketball players in both. This article from SCD in 2015 has a lot more info on these.

Another quirk, which I can't explain, is that the sets are listed as being from 1974 and 1975. But the stats on this '1975' Hawkins (note the copyright) come from the '72-'73 season.

I've enlarged the back for readability. And I noticed there were something called Sugar Mama Pops. I don't remember them but apparently they were the chocolate-coated version. I found a label and a photo of the 'poster' that these were supposed to be displayed on.

Here's the card next to a standard Topps card:


Oh, good old Sugar Daddys..


Here are the checklists. The later series issued after these two showed non-specific athletes from all sorts of different sports. They are as boring as they sound.

1974 Sugar Daddy Pro Faces

1 Roger Staubach              
2 Floyd Little              
3 Steve Owens              
4 Roman Gabriel              
5 Bobby Douglass              
6 John Gilliam              
7 Bob Lilly              
8 John Brockington              
9 Jim Plunkett              
10 Greg Landry              
11 Phil Esposito              
12 Dennis Hull              
13 Reg Fleming              
14 Garry Unger              
15 Derek Sanderson              
16 Jerry Korab              
17 Oscar Robertson              
18 Spencer Haywood              
19 Jo Jo White              
20 Connie Hawkins              
21 Nate Thurmond              
22 Mickey Redmond              
23 Chet Walker              
24 Calvin Murphy              
25 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

1975 Sugar Daddy

1 Roger Staubach              
2 Floyd Little              
3 Alan Page              
4 Merlin Olsen              
5 Wally Chambers              
6 John Gilliam              
7 Bob Lilly              
8 John Brockington              
9 Jim Plunkett              
10 Willie Lanier              
11 Phil Esposito              
12 Dennis Hull              
13 Brad Park              
14 Tom Lysiak              
15 Bernie Parent              
16 Mickey Redmond              
17 Jerry Sloan              
18 Spencer Haywood              
19 Bob Lanier              
20 Connie Hawkins              
21 Geoff Petrie              
22 Don Awrey              
23 Chet Walker              
24 Bob McAdoo              
25 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

I don't have the other Hawkins. This '74 series (or Series No. 1 as Nabisco called it) show players in team uniforms on plain backgrounds rather that with the 'All Star' motif.

Late addition...Sugar Mama wrapper:

These apparently were like Milk Duds on a stick. I'm sure they paid for a few dentists' car notes.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

1988 Swell Gum Football Greats (H-O-F)

I love oddball sets and I was happy to pick up this 1988 Swell Gum Football Greats set on Net54. As you might expect it features all the members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame as of the issue date.

The logo on the front is a bit hard to make out but it signifies that 1988 was the Hall's 25th Anniversary. There are 144 cards in the set. Here's that logo.


Swell Gum was a brand name under the Philly Gum umbrella and Philly Gum is lasted (it's very hard to see) on the back of the cards.

The checklist is quirky in that it starts off with the five 1985 Hall inductees. That group included Joe Willie Namath, O. J. Simpson, and Pete Rozelle. 1985 was three years prior to the set being issued. The newest inductee class (1988) is at the end. It's as if the set was put together in '85 with the newest members featured but not issured for three years. In between the '85 and '88 groups the rest of the Hall members are in alphabetical order..sort of. Some cards are 'out of place' in the alphabetical lineup...Dick Butkus and Willie Brown landed in behind the inductees with 'C' names and others are scrambled as well. 

The cards themselves have a decent design. The Hall logo takes up too much space but it doesn't deter from the cards much.


Nothing wrong with the Jim Brown card. It's better than some of the Topps and Philly Gum cards that were produced during his career.

I had to stop and think when I was sorting these and saw "John Johnson". I just didn't recognize the name or the face.

But when I flipped it over I saw it was John Henry Johnson.He was a powerful runner for the Steelers and a few other teams back in the day but I know I never once heard him referred to as simply John Johnson. Henry was always part of his name. That's how he's listed everywhere

This is as good as any a spot to show the back of the cards. The text is exactly the same as is posted on the member's Hall of Fame website page.

A few more of my favorite cards...

Then there is this....

The Jim Parker and Gino Marchetti cards are perfect examples of the wide gap in photo quality. I mean is that the best pic of Parker available? It appears to be a faded Polaroid Instamatic shot. OTOH, the Marchetti photo used is a classic.  

Some, like Lance Alworth's picture, fall somewhere in between.

I've mentioned a few times the letter I received unsolicited from 70s era Giants runningback Ron Johnson. It was something prompted by a meeting between Johnson and my Uncle Gerard. The same sort of thing happened with Hall inductee Alex Wojciechowicz. One day in the mid 1980s I got a large envelope in the mail which contained a Pro Football Hall of Fame wall calendar. It had been sent by Alex Wojciechowicz who had become a customer at my Uncle's pharmacy. In it Wojciechowicz had written a bit about his career and some notes on other Hall members he'd played with and against in the 40s. What I remember most about it is that every he signed his full name to every comment. I'm sure i have the calendar among the stuff I packed away when I gave up my hobby room whn we needed space for a second nursery.  I'll dig it out one of these days.

I'm a sucker for sideline cape pics so I'll finish with this one of Doug Atkins.

Swell followed up this set with sets in 1989 and 1990. If I can find them cheap enough I may grab those as well.