Thursday, September 21, 2017

1979 TCMA Stars of the 50s

This 291 (293 with variations) card set is one of two large sets produced by TCMA in the late 70s following the lawsuit by Topps arising from the SSPC set of 1975/76. That action effectively killed TCMA's efforts at using current players and pushed them towards making sets of retired major leaguers and a myriad of minor league sets. 

Actually TCMA produced dozens of sets around that time and later but this one, 'Stars of the Fifties' and it's companion, 'Stars of the Sixties' are by far the biggest. I picked up both of them recently. They are a lot of fun and I'm really looking forward to putting them in pages. The quality of the photos varies greatly but you can't help but appreciate the simple beauty of them. 

I've scanned a bunch and will post these few and some random thoughts.


Every card in the set features a posed photo. The Ted Kluszewski card is typical. there are lots of spring training shots sprinkled throughout the set. Big Klu's card is one of the better ones, bright and clear.


I don't recall seeing a card with a pic of a player tying his shoe as Robin Roberts is doing here. You wonder if the photographer just happened to come upon him down on one knee, called his name and took the picture or had him pose like this.


Elston Howard is a fake catching pose somewhere in Florida. Probably Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg. i need to get a dupe of this so I'll have one in my ever expanding Ellie Howard PC.


Some of the cards suffer from photos that seemed to be over-exposed. They are a bit washed out in appearance. Ernie Banks' card is one of those.


Bob Purkey wearing the ultimate spring training attire, a rubber windbreaker style jacket under a jersey.  Sweating off those winter pounds.


Harvey Haddix isn't looking sad because he lost a perfect game in the 13th. He's looking sad because he ALWAYS looked sad. 


Alvin Dark of the Giants. If you're getting the feeling that there are a lot of NY area players in this set you're not alone. I'll have to do a tally once I page this thing. It's a neat card isn't it?


Roberto Clemente....he always looks so damn regal doesn't he? Willie Mays is probably the best all-around player I've ever seen but I could make a pretty good case for Clemente as well.


This Billy Pierce shot has been used on at least a half dozen other oddballs. And usually it's much clearer.


In contrast to the Pierce card Sam Jethroe's card is cardboard art. 


Snider, Hodges, Campy, Furillo grace one of the few group photos. The other one I saw while flipping through the box was one of Dodger pitchers.


The Original Frank Thomas wearing a flocked Pirates helmet. MLB had brought back the matte finish helmets, can the flocked ones be far behind?


Even as a young player Spahnnie had that 'Spahn look'!


Roy Campanella looks like a high school kid here. I had to flip the card over to be sure it was him.


Willie's card is among the top five or so in the set as far as I'm concerned. Nice to see a photo that isn't overused. This reminds me of the pics in the old Sport magazines of the day.


Don Hoak in a classic baseball pose from the 50s. What a great card!


Leo Durocher hitting infield. I wonder how many infield grounders he hit during his lifetime?


Stan Lopata. Yes, he always crouched like that. He didn't always wear the shades but he did for this shot.

Sal Maglie. From 1950 thru 1952 he went 59-18 for the Giants with 46 complete games in 83 starts. He had a WHIP of 1.21 and an ERA of 2.83 That's impressive stuff. He's also one of the few guys who played for the three old school New York teams. He's also the answer to a tough trivia question: "Who was the losing pitcher in Don Larson's perfect game World Series win?"



Jimmy Piersall won two Gold Gloves. That's impressive given the quality of the outfielders during his time. Neat card, too.


Al Kaline, native son of Baltimore, looking about 18 here. That's Yankee Stadium.


Figured I'd throw out a peek at a card back. Vitals, blurb, lifetime stats.


Vic Power. One of the great names in the game during the 50s/60s.


Hal Smith  this is the Hal Smith who began his career with the Orioles and went on to play with the A's, Pirates, Colt 45s and Reds. It was his three run dinger in the bottom of the eighth of the 7th game of the 1960 Series that gave the Pirates a short-lived lead. An inning later Maz broke that tie and Hal Smith got a ring.


Walt Dropo had a rookie year to remember. It was 1950 and he made his only All Star tean, hit a career high 34 homers and drove in a league leading 144 runs. Yup, he was ROY.


Roger Maris. maybe it's just me but I can't remember a bunch of really cool Topps Maris cards. I like the 1961 MVP card for sure. This card of him as an Athletic is pretty sweet.

All in all it's really a fun set even with it's flaws. I received a box with what I hope is the 'Best of the Sixties' version yesterday. Can't wait to get a chance to dig into that one, too.



Thursday, September 14, 2017

Batman Project retrospective

I don't think Batman ever sleeps but I'm putting my Batman Sketch Project to bed. My original goal was to complete a page of sketches for under $75. Well, you know what they say about good intentions. 

Actually I can say I met that goal. I can put nine sketches together on a page with the total cost being well within that total price. I never paid an exorbitant amount for any of these. And some were free. But as time went by I got caught up in the project and ended up with 29 sketch cards and a couple of prints. 

I bought most of these on eBay. About four came from Etsy purchases and the rest were commissions and gifts. If I've tracked them correctly 23 24 different artists are included. 

I had a suggestion that I should post the completed pages so here they are. The cards are in no particular order although my most recently acquired ones are grouped more or less at the end. 


The Batman character has evolved over the many decades he's been a part of pop culture. I've got a book that goes into quite a bit of detail and breaks down the different 'phases' of Batman but I haven't really done more than flip thru it. One day when I have more time I might try to put these cards in some semblance of order. Until then it's just fun to look at the different takes the various artists had.


The card in the bottom right slot of the page below and the top left of the next page were done by my friend who teaches art at my school. They were a neat 'back-to-school' gift that I really appreciated. They were unexpected and one reason why the tidy three page group of 27 sketches spill over to a fourth page. But I'm not complaining!



This last page contains my two 'spill over' sketch cards, three inserts from recent Batman sets and two 'limited edition' numbered prints.


This project turned out better than I expected. A bit more expensive than I expected as well but I'm fine with that. With these cards, three Batman card sets (vintage and contemporary), several over-sized pieces of original art and a few display items I feel I've got a solid Batman collection.

I don't know where I'll go next with it but I'm sure I'll figure that out.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

1954 Wilson Franks Vern Stephens


I've had this card on my 'someday' list for a long time. Wasn't on top of the list but it certainly was there. Problem was...the price. These Wilson Franks cards routinely go for over $200 even ungraded. I had an eBay search going for this card and I would get a couple of 'hits' a week but they always seemed to be for $300+ copies. So nailing this one for $85 was a pretty good deal.


Stephens played in the majors from 1941 through 1955 with the Browns/Orioles, Red Sox and White Sox. He was a shortstop early in his big league tenure. The Browns experimented with him in the outfield after an arm injury but that was short-lived. That same injury, by the way, caused him to fail his Army physical keeping him out of WWII. In 1951 he moved over to third base and stayed there the remainder of his career. 

No matter where he played he was a solid hitter. He led the AL in RBIs three times including back-to-back in 1949/50 with the Red Sox. Those years he racked up 159 and 144. His 137 total in 1948 was nothing to sneeze at either. He led the league with 24 dingers in 1945 and hit 39 in '49. He was a seven time All Star and he finished in the Top Ten in MVP balloting six times. With that resume I wonder why we don't hear more about Vern Stephens?

This little (20 card) Wilson Franks set is a lot of fun. It would be pretty pricey to complete but having a card or two would make a nice addition to a vintage collection. Both PSA and Sports Collectors Digest have some good background articles. Check 'em out.

Here is the (unnumbered) checklist:

  • Roy Campanella
  • Del Ennis
  • Carl Erskine
  • Ferris Fain
  • Bob Feller
  • Nelson Fox
  • Johnny Groth
  • Stan Hack
  • Gil Hodges
  • Ray Jablonski
  • Harvey Kuenn
  • Roy McMillan
  • Andy Pafko
  • Paul Richards
  • Hank Sauer
  • Red Schoendienst
  • Enos Slaughter
  • Vern Stephens
  • Sammy White
  • Ted Williams



Thursday, September 7, 2017

Batman #26 and other things


Several months ago, in the midst of my Batman sketch card frenzy, I received an email from an artist who offered to do one for me. After a bit of back and forth and a few stops and starts I received the sketch card. It's a nice addition I think. Along with two done for me by one of my school's art teachers I've now filled three binder pages with sketch cards. I think it's time to call it a day and put the Batman binder away for a bit.

When the artist (he called himself CCM) sent me the sketch card he was kind enough to fill the envelope with some other things from his collection.

First and foremost was this Leaf sketch card of the late Lee MacPhail, the long time baseball executive.  According to Wikipedia MacPhail had an extensive baseball resume. He spent 45 years in the game serving as the director of player personnel for the New York Yankees, the president and general manager of the Baltimore Orioles, chief aide to Commissioner of Baseball William Eckert, executive vice president and general manager of the Yankees, and president of the American League.


I honestly had never seen a baseball sketch card that was issued by a major card manufacturer. A trip to eBay showed me that Leaf has done a bunch of sketch cards with subjects ranging from Stan Musial to Sting.

Of the ones I saw the many of best were from Rich Molinelli who did this MacPhail. Here's a shot of MacPhail outside Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.


The Orioles card CCM sent included some pretty cool ones. Like this manufactured patch of Jim Palmer's rookie card. Topps put this out in 2013.



Among the standard cards I got were these two 1960 gems. Both of these were upgrades to the ones I had in my 1960 Topps binder.


A week or so ago someone on FB or Twitter asked about the first baseball card you remembered owning. I know I had some '59s and I saw a friend's 1958s but the first card I specifically remember pulling from a pack was the 1960 Albie Pearson. I got a few packs of cards in my Easter basket as a kid and I remember getting Pearson. That was just about the time I was developing my own ideas about favorite teams and players instead of following along with my Dad's Yankees/NY football Giants preferences. I had decided that since I had been born in Charm City the Orioles and Colts were 'my' teams so I bet I was thrilled with this card. that's probably why I remember it rather than the rest of the packs. Maybe.



Sunday, September 3, 2017

Something completely different

Part of the cache of 'stuff' that yielded the Fernando Valenzuela button I posted awhile back was a stack of concert ticket stubs from the early 70s. Some of these were concerts my wife attended, some were mine and some were concerts we went to together. Generally the ones from 1975 or later were shows be saw as a couple. 

I don't collect stubs as a rule and I'll toss these out in my next 'purge'. I have stubs from some baseball games I attended as a kid and some Orioles World Series and playoff games as well. I originally planned on keeping all the Houston Texans tickets but after a couple of seasons they became a pain and other than the ones from their first game I've tossed them out as well.

Lot's of good shows represented with these stubs. I used to work at Hofheinz Pavilion on the University of Houston campus and was able to see every show that came thru that venue. No stubs from those I'm afraid. But there is some great 70s music represented below.



I've always been a fan of Janis Ian. I loved her voice and she's still producing good music on a limited basis. Mostly now she's a frequent Facebook Liberal gadfly and for that I still love her. Notice that the Wings ticket was a 'general admission' entry. What a mistake that was. I remember being pinned in close to the doors waiting for them to open that evening. It got pretty crazy. The other tix are from a Rolling Stones show that I have no memory of (nor does my wife, at least that's her story) and Jose Feliciano who created the original National Anthem controversy.




For you youngsters the second set of tickets represent shows by Santana, America, Linda Ronstadt and Traffic. Some of which I actually remember.

The concerts I enjoyed the most from that terrific era of music are not here. Like Springsteen playing for three and a half hours. Billy Joel was a one record wonder playing in a tiny downtown venue. CSN&Y headlined a July all day stadium festival that saw people overcome with the heat being laid out on the concourses. One really fun night saw Isaac Hayes (one of my very favorites!) 'upstaged' by an imposter who walked right by me and onto the stage and  before the law dragged him off. Good times.

Big concerts demand big prices these days and are are much more judicious in our entertainment spending. We still love live music.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Happy 82nd Frank Robinson

Just some FRobby stuff on this beautiful Thursday morning. He's one of the less appreciated stars of the 50s/60s. Hope his day is great.




The story behind these next two is here in this post from 2012







And finally Frank's 1957 rookie card. A classic.




Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Since I'm Up

Watching the rain and live coverage of rescued flood victims being staged at my local WalMart I might as well post something.



I picked up this Salada Elston Howard coin not long ago. One of those 'what the heck' bids that I made and forgot about until I got the email saying I had won.

Nice addition to my Elston Howard PC. I hate leaving it in the holder but these things, like the metal Topps coins, get 'worn' pretty easily otherwise.

Our storm status is unchanged btw. It's rained most of the night but it hasn't been heavy so the water is not pooling on my block. The end of this rain may be in sight. then it'll just be a matter of not having any of the rising tributaries affect us.

I saw today that this will end up as the single largest rain event in US history.

And on Tuesday the alleged potus is coming. Haven't we suffered enough?

Finally...
Love these two pics. Can't say enough about the first responders and hundreds of volunteers who have saved lives here.