Monday, September 19, 2016

Cards Just Because

When I go to a card show and dig thru boxes of cheap vintage I will sometimes  always  pull cards out that just strike me as cool. Either I like the composition of the card, dig the photo or get some pang of nostalgia from it. Happened again this past Saturday at the monthly (now twice monthly) hotel show.

Bob Turley was a favorite of my father and I think sometimes he was more enthused about seeing him pitch at Yankee Stadium than he was about Whitey Ford. We always got to the games early so I was very familiar with the Yankee Stadium batting cage. I wish I could figure out who that is behind him on this '61 Topps.

I had completely forgotten about his having won a Cy Young Award until I was checking his bio the last night. He was also #2 behind Jackie Jensen in MVP balloting after that terrific 1958 season. I was too young to remember his days with the fledgling '54 Orioles but he won 14 games on a team that only won 54 overall.

I already have a nice '61 Billy Pierce but if I ever decide to collect the set I need a dupe Pierce to slide into the slot on the binder spine. Now I have one. Plus it's another Yankee Stadium shot. I always like to think I was there the day they took these shots. This is classic Pierce.

I grabbed these two rookie related cards as well. Julian Javier has that great Topps top hat trophy and Fritz Brickell got the star that designated him as a rookie in 1961. I'm not sure that was actually the case (he played for the Yanks briefly in '58/'59). The real reason I bought the Brickell card was the 'windbreaker under the jersey look'. That used to be common. Not anymore.

Brickell's dad Fred was a big leaguer in the 20s and 30s. He died at the age of  54 the year his son's card was issued. Fritz died just a few years later of cancer at the age of 30 in 1965.

Breaking my pattern of 1961s was this Casey/Woodling '63 special. I like the original Mets' clean pinstripe look and the Polo Grounds background. Too bad had forgotten that I already had this card. I could have spent the 50 cents on some other vintage gem.

All in all another great Saturday morning spent with baseball cards. I sunk $85 into 1958s. Oh, did I mention that I'm now committed to collecting that one? Well I am. More on that soon.

Friday, September 16, 2016

More Civil War News Gruesomeness

Through a combination of purchases on eBay and COMC I've added some new cards to my Civil War News binder and upgraded a few others. I spent a few extra dollars to get a decent copy of #21 Painful Death. It's one of the more graphic cards in the set and one I remember as fascinating me as a kid. It's badly miscut but the card is otherwise very nice. Especially alongside some of the poorly conditioned ones that I already own.

The back mentions Stonewall Jackson's Virginia campaign without any specific tie-in to the artwork on the front.

There were definitely several different artistic styles within this set. The face belonging to the guy holding the flame here is seen on many other cards. 

Here is another card I remember well. I was fascinated by the Civil War era armored gun ship the Merrimac.

This new copy of The Battle Continues is a clear upgrade over my previous one:



I have already posted my mistakenly bought AB&C copy of Angel Of Mercy. The Topps version is equally as creepy.

A few months ago I did some checking into Civil War troop train wrecks and determined that this is based on an event that happened somewhere else besides Chattanooga on the date listed. I can't find the webpage anymore though so my old man memory made be failing me. 

A couple more random cards from my stack of new additions.

The Angry Man is John Brown and he graces Card #1 in the set.

I also picked up the most expensive and elusive card, the checklist. I found a cheap one after a long search. It's not as nice an example as I had hoped to add to the binder but given what these run in good condition this one will have to do.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Kicking Off 1958 (maybe)

I've been itching for a new baseball project since I finished off the 1960 set. The 1958 had been in the back of my mind for a long time. And I do mean a looong time. I don't think I've ever been to a card show without at least digging thru a box that contained these colorful gems. The first things I bought on eBay were small lots of '58 Topps back in 1996.

This set has some sentimental value to me. I've mentioned before that these were the first cards I remember seeing. I was living out on Long Island and a girl in my neighborhood had some. I don't think I ever got my hands on any but by 1959 I was a collector, or at least an owner, of Topps cards.

I'm still not fully committed to chasing this set. I have the All-Star subset, the Orioles, a few dozen commons and some stars so I wouldn't starting from scratch. But a vintage set is a big commitment in time, patience and most of all, cash. I'll wait and see how I feel over the next month of so and I'm going to check into the availability of inexpensive star cards at the next hotel show I hit up.

Meanwhile I nabbed a few (sort of a sampler pack) out of a vintage bargain bin at the last hotel show. With my 'frequent buyer' discount they cost me about sixty cents each. The Andy Pafko and Charlie Lau cards were two of the better conditioned ones I found. I also grabbed a couple of Giants because I always am attracted by the lousy art skills of the Topps Art Department. Ruben Gomez got a logo penned in the form of the old San Francisco Seals cap logo. Topps usually went the route of copying defunct minor league logos for teams that had moved. The Orioles in the 1954 set had caps (and unis) drawn in that mimicked the old International League Orioles gear.

Check out Bob Speake's cap. Looks like it took all of thirty seconds work to make that NY Giants' cap into a San Francisco one.

Here is a close-up.

Del Crandall, Smoky Burgess, Charlie Maxwell and Billy Hoeft are all welcome additions to my vintage collection even if I don't collect the set.

I'd always assumed that Harry Simpson got his 'Suitcase Simpson' nickname by being traded around so much. Not so. i discovered my error when reading about him for my 1959 blog. I'll let Wikipedia tell it:

That his nickname of "Suitcase" came from his being frequently traded during his playing career is a common misconception. According to the 1951 Cleveland Indians Sketch Book, he was called "Suitcase" by sportswriters after the Toonerville Trolley character, Suitcase Simpson, because of his size 13 shoe with feet as large as suitcases. This is years before his many trades. His real nickname was "Goody", which came from his willingness to run errands and help neighbors in his hometown of Dalton, Georgia.

I picked up the Esposito and Lollar cards because I'm partial to the wonderful 'Flying Sock' logo. And Camilio Pascual has became a favorite of mine when I witnessed him being wrapped in a Cuban flag by on-the-field interlopers at Yankee Stadium in 1963

Over the next few months I'll make up my mind about taking this thing on. One thing I am sure of is that collecting the '58 set won't translate into a '58 Topps blog. It's hard enough for me to find time to post to this one. And my poor ol' 1960 set blog is way behind. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

More $$$ for cards!

In my last post I casually mentioned my new 'TV setup'. About a month ago I made to move to 'cutting the cord' as it's called. I'm not completely there yet since I still have a minimal cable account for reasons too convoluted to go into here. But I do most of my viewing thru my Amazon FireTV Box using the Sony Playstation Vue app, the Netflix app and a bunch of others. 

Bottom line is I'm paying about $60 less a month than I was with our top shelf  AT&T Uverse plan. And I actually have many more viewing options. I'm not really planning to spend the savings on hobby stuff but that would be fun!

I did take some extra cash to last weekend's hotel card show but the plan was to spend it on a bulk lot of 1958 Topps cards should I come across one. I'm about 90% sure that the '58 set will be my next project. I bought a handful but there were no bargain lots around so that project will wait a bit.

I rummaged through the cheap card boxes and came up with a few that were calling my name. The Frank Robinson at the top of the post is from TCMA's 1986 All Time Orioles set of 12. I love Frank Robinson cards, I love oddballs and TCMA stuff in particular. I wasn't familiar with these but I've since found the set for sale on eBay very cheap so I might need to pick it up. I've also come across a color version of at least one (Jim Palmer). I don't know the story on all that and I'm not really interested. 

Here is the reverse of the Robinson card. BTW...I saw references to the set with blue back printing being a reprint set.  A reprint of a TCMA set? I'm not even sure Larry Fritsch would try to pull that one off. 

A few other random things I brought home. 

1981 Topps Bob Griese. Did he steal those cheaters from Michael Caine?

I forgot to scan the back but it mentions that Griese coaches his kids' youth team. I guess that would be Brian Griese.

Next is a card of one of my UH friends, Otis Birdsong. That's an '86/'87 Fleer which was a cool and colorful set. Always nice to add a card of a Houston star. Particularly Bird who is such a great guy.

This next one is a Cooperstown from Panini showing Roy Campanella in his Baltimore Elite Giants uniform. Campy played with Baltimore from the age of 16 over parts of eight seasons.

Had that been Campy in a Dodgers uni I might not have grabbed it but you don't see many cards with him during his days in Baltimore. That's the old Orioles Park in the picture.

And I grabbed a nice copy of Topps' 1966 Jim Bouton card. I'm not even sure why I did. I don't particularly collect Bouton but I have enjoyed his books, saw him pitch numerous times as a kid and even played Little League against his young cousins in New Jersey.

Sure, he's a Yankee but most Yankee traditionalists hated him. Even the dealer I bought it from, a Yankee fan himself, had a smart remark about this card. LOL.

I'll post the '58s next time so everyone can tee off on them (and me for collecting them).

Monday, August 29, 2016


If we traveled back in time to 1964 and you asked the 12-year-old me what my favorite TV show was the answer would be, without hesitation, Combat!. And yes, the exclamation point always follows the name of the show. 

I had no idea that there were Combat! cards produced back during the show's run. I used to find all kinds of non-sports cards for sale at my uncle's pharmacy but I don't think I ever saw these. But a few weeks back I found these at my local hotel show in a bargain bin. 

Combat! ran for five seasons on ABC and it was a must watch in my house and among my friends. My buddies and I would argue about which of the two main characters, Lt. Hanley (played by Rick Jason) or Sgt. Saunders (Vic Morrow) was 'cooler'. My choice was Morrow who is featured in both of the cards above.

Combat! was the story of one platoon as they moved across France after D-Day. A couple of years ago I found a DVD copy of several Season One episodes at a used book store and picked it up. Unlike the original Star Trek shows I've been checking out via my new TV set-up the Combat! episodes hold up well.

This next card shows Rick Jason in his role as the Lieutenant. He was usually the calm 'voice of reason' who frequently clashed with the volatile Morrow.

The list of guest stars who appeared through the five year run is impressive and includes Ted Knight and Frank Gorshin made appearances. Other notable guest stars included Lee Marvin, Robert Duvall, James Coburn, Bill Bixby, Telly Savalas, Charles Bronson, James Caan, Leonard Nimoy, Roddy McDowell, Mickey Rooney, and Jack Lord.

The set was produced by Donruss but their name wasn't on the cards. With really good eyes you can see their name on this wrapper (image found on the 'net):

When 'read' in numerical order the set told a story of one campaign by the platoon. The narrative on the backs more or less correspond to the photos on the front. Here is the front and back of #51.

#55 and #56 are an example of the way the cards are sequenced.

The 132 card set was issued in two series of 66 cards in 1963 and 1964. And finally here is an interesting fact from the set's blurb on Dean's Cards:
One problem faced in production of the 1964 Donruss Combat cards was that Donruss only had a license to use images of the regular cast members. Thus if an “extra” was in the photo, his face had to be removed from the card and drawn on by hand. Therefore, many of the cards have a cartoonish look to them.
I don't plan to chase any more of these, I have enough projects going on as it is. But they were a fun and nostalgic find and grabbing these 10 or so for a couple of dollars was kind of cool.

EDIT: I just found this page with some more details about the set.

Another EDIT: I found this picture online on MeTV's page. There is plenty of Cobat! trivia and info on that page as well. Access it here.

Of course that's Braves' star lefty Warren Spahn with Combat lead actors Rick Jason and Vic Morrow.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Civil War News Additions (and a subtraction)

I'm slowly adding to my '62 Topps Civil War News set. I've found that there is no middle ground with these either price or condition-wise. I've exhausted the supply of needed and affordable (under $2) examples on COMC. Now I'm doing a daily check on eBay. It's hard to find anything under $5 there.

These two come from an earlier eBay purchase and are in better shape than most of my other ones. That one up top is one of the nightmare-inducing examples that stuck in my memory from my elementary school days. A painting of soldiers impaled on abatis stakes tends to stay with a kid.

Here is the back. I bet I was disappointed that there wan't a description of the gruesome scene depicted on the front. Instead it discusses the reaction of CSA General John Bell Hood to the lost battle of Nashville in December of 1965. But. as has been documented, that story was made up by the Topps writers who did the 'News' on these cards. More on that in a bit.

#52 Friendly Enemies depicts wounded from both sides sharing a canteen after presumably fighting each other moments before.

The card's back references the post battle atmosphere of Chattanooga in September of 1863.

I was able to find a couple of nice examples of the faux Confederate currency that was inserted into the packs. They in 10 different denominations. Some serial number variations bring the total to 17 different. Once I'm done with collecting the cards I may try to nab a few more of these bills. This $100 note is the better of the two I have.

The title of the blog mentions a 'subtraction'. Here's why:

In my haste to scoop up all the cheap ones available on COMC I added this #58 Angel Of  Mercy to my cart. When the package arrived it stuck out from the rest of my purchased lot. The obvious difference was the size of the card. It was smaller than the rest and flipping it over the the pink/red is brighter as is the cardboard itself.
And then there was this:

I had no idea that these cards had been reprinted by Topps' 'kissing cousin' AB&C in England in 1965. I think of them as a football (soccer) card maker but they did loads of non-sports issues as well. Scroll down on this webpage for a list of AB&C card issues. 

I'd obviously misread (or not read) the card description and ended up with the British version of this creepy Clara Barton card. It isn't the first time I've 'mis-bought' something online. Won't be the last either. And it IS pretty creepy. Her bloddy and bandaged patient looks like something from those Friday The 13th films. Here are comparison views of the AB&C card and one of my Topps cards.

Reading the card backs and poking around the internet doing just the barest of research turned up the fact that the card backs are far from an accurate chronicle of the Civil War. I recently came across a 1998 interview done with Len Brown who was one of the Topps employees involved with making this set. It's very long and the page uses very small type but it's still worth looking at if you are interested in this set. It's a good read even if you just want some insight into how these old non-sports sets were done.

Late in the interview Brown is asked about the backs and how they were developed and here is that exchange:

{Paul} ....... By the way, who did the stories on the backs of the cards?
{Len} Uh-oh, I was afraid you were going to ask that. I slaved over the backs.... but what I am not proud of was that I misled lots of children to think that these were true events that took place during the war. Most of them were just fictional. We planned the pictures.... composed the scenes out of our imaginations..... after the paintings were done, I wrote a little story about the front of the cards---then I would look up a town or date that seemed appropriate and would try to publish a newspaper back as if it were a real event. I remember getting a letter from a schoolteacher years ago, thanking us for helping the children in her class to learn about the Civil War. Yet, sad to say, facts never got in the way of telling an interesting story.
{Paul} That's okay, Len. The stories were great. I enjoyed reading each of them -- true or not. Were there any stories that were factual? I remember a particular card; "The Silent Drum" was about a drummer boy who was killed. Or were they all made up?
{Len} There might have been a few accurate stories that were written up. I suspect "The Silent Drum" was fictional. We were just trying to tell an interesting story about the picture on the front. If I had to guess, I would say 80 to 85% of the stories were complete fiction pieces. The battles were based on fact, but the incidental details were really fiction.
{Paul} Well, the stories were good, factual or not.
The origin of the Confederate currency inserts is also discussed:

{Paul} So is it an authentic copy, or just an artists conception of what the money looked like?
{Len} I don't believe they were 100% authentic. We purchased some antique confederate bills and reworked the designs a little bit. It was a combination of several elements. I think they came off looking pretty real because we stayed close to the original. In those days we were afraid of just "counterfeiting" the Confederate money, even though they were no longer considered real currency.

I'm lacking about 30 to complete the Civil War News set.  expect it to take me quite awhile to finish it off but having a project always makes this hobby fun.