Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sports Art II Andy Jurinko

I try to base my posts on items in my collection, even if they lead me far afield. This isn't about anything I own. A blurb in the digital edition of the current Sports Illustrated led me to discover Andy Jurinko who passed away early last year. 

I have some vague awareness of his work. I'm sure I'd seen some of it someplace but I don't recall where or how. But I sure didn't recognize the name. And look what I've been missing. These are some wonderful portraits and paintings that capture both players and moments from the 'Glory Days' of baseball. Lots of excellent renderings of classic ballparks as well. 

A coffee-table sized book of his portraits has been published recently. That's it at the top of the post. Check out some of his work. Many more in the gallery on  Well worth checking out. And his obit in the NY Times has a lot of background on Jurinko. 

This one of Frank Robinson in action is among my favorites. 

He's really captured Stan Musial's persona in this one, don't you think?

Hank Greenberg...

And Wrigley Field where my lucky dog son Brooks is today with his girlfriend watching the Cubs and Astros.

He had a previous book, 'Heart of the Game', published that featured the American League and it's vintage parks, action and players. The Times obit linked above says his 'Glory Boys' volume was to be a National League version. That might have changed with his passing.

Friday, June 29, 2012

1970 Frank Robinson

While I'm on a Frank Robinson tangent I thought I'd post these two cards of Frank from the Topps set of 1970. I had them both in stand-up plastic display cases but lately they've been in a box along with a dozen other or so vintage O's cards due to lack of room on my display shelves.

Neither is in what you'd call really good shape but they are about par for the course when it comes to cards that I've had since they were new.

Here is the regular issue Frank Robinson:

At least the stain and the crease are in the same place on the card. When you put all the stats of a guy with Frank Robinson's career on the back of the card there's no room for text.

So for a Frank 'blurb' you have to go to the All Star card from that set:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Frank is In The House! And In One Piece!

A couple of weeks ago I showed my newly arrived Frank Robinson bobblehead which sadly had not survived the trip from Cincinnati. The eBay seller quickly issued a refund and off i went to eBay again to find a replacement. I bought one for about what I had been refunded and it arrived the other day.

I can tell you that I opened the box with some trepidation since it didn't appear to have been packed all that well. But Frank was intact and ready to claim his place on my office's shelf of  rotating bobbles.

Here he is in his Red's (Red Leg's?) home white and red pinstriped sleeveless uni, a really sweet look. He's in good company now. This is sort of a Mt. Rushmore of my sports heroes.

Here's a view of the whole shelf as it looks today. I'll change it up with different bobbles every once in awhile as the mood strikes.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sandy Koufax eTopps

This eTopps card is are very scanner un-friendly. I've only got two of them anyway. I wasn't much into cards when that program was around and I never quite caught on to the concept of what it was supposed to be. The whole 'portfolio' thing seemed like shenanigans to me.

I bought a Johnny Unitas mini eTopps when it was issued and the other day I picked up this Sandy Koufax mini. It's really a pretty sharp little card. Looks a lot better in person than it does here.

I tried re-scanning it with different settings and it looks even worse.

Maybe that's why they ended the eTopps thing.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I hate my scanners

I've got two printer/scanners and I wouldn't pay a dime for either one of them again. I don't care what I do I can't get certain cards to scan correctly. Like this Dennis Martinez Fleer Somethingorother Auto'd card.

I really like the card. Denny Martinez was a huge favorite of mine back when he was active. But I'll be damned if I can get either of my scanners to show the whole card. The white border gets chopped off every time. I even tried scanning it in a holder (as you can tell by the reverse side scan) but no joy. 

Maybe the border is too white. Maybe there's a secret I can't figure out. Maybe I should use a camera. Maybe I need a 'dedicated' scanner instead of these multi-function deals. Maybe someone will nuke Canon headquarters. And then do the same to Epson.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Again with this Fuji guy!

This time the question is an easy one for me. Over on his blog Fuji wanted to know everyone's favorite player growing up and if you collect that player's cards and memorabilia. And what your favorite item is.

That took about 3 nanoseconds for me (and I bet a lot of others found it a quick answer as well). My baseball idol was Brooks Robinson. And yes, I collect Brooks Robinson items. I have all the cards issued during his career and a bunch of others including food issues like Post and Jello, limited distribution issues, that sort of thing. I pick up some of the ones that have proliferated in the last few years with the explosion of the "tribute", "heritage" and various 'game worn' cards. But those don't mean nearly as much as his actual Topps cards.

Actually I have much more non-card Brooks-related 'stuff' than I do cards. Magazines, postcards, 8x10's, books, bobbleheads and display items. that sort of thing.

As for my favorite... I'll rank my top three Brooks items in reverse order.

#3 is a 1969 Orioles yearbook I bought at Manny's Baseball Land across the street from Yankee Stadium before an Yanks-Orioles game that year. My friend and I entered the stadium through the rightfield gates and we spotted Brooks signing autographs near the thirdbase dugout. We sprinted, literally, through the pregame crowd and luckily Brooks was still signing when we bolted down the aisle. I'd never met Brooks in person before and I was both tongue-tied and out of breath. I opened the yearbook to the centerfold which was a montage of the 'All Time team'. Brooks signed it and I remember he looked at the layout for a few seconds as if he'd never seen it before. I stared at that wonderful autograph for days and days.

I'm on the road but I found the yearbook online. Here's the cover:

#2 is Brooks' 1957 Topps rookie card. It was the first 'high dollar' card I bought when I decided to build all the O's team sets up to that time. I don't remember what I paid for it but I do remember trading some early 60s star cards as part of the transaction at a card show. I've picked up two more, one graded, in the years since then but the first one is special. Here's my original copy:

And #1.... well, that would have to be the signed and inscribed picture Brooks sent to my wife and I after the birth of my twins, Brooks Robinson and James Palmer. By then I'd met Brooks a few times and he would stop to chat when I traveled to Arlington Stadium for Oriole games during his broadcasting tenure. 

When my boys were born in 1989 my aunt contacted Brooks through Crown Petroleum for whom he did a lot of work. She told Brooks about my sons and he took it upon himself to send a note and the inscribed photo. Getting a big manila envelope with a return address that featured his instantly recognizable signature is a pretty amazing moment. 

The picture is up in a frame at home but I have the envelope online for another project. This is it:


I'll get the picture itself scanned and posted one day soon. So there ya go Fuji...the answers are: Brooks Robinson; yes, I collect Brooks items; and the inscribed pic is my favorite.

A couple more pics.. here are the two Brooks' at a memorabilia show circa 1995.

And Brooks (on the right) and his brother James the day they were born. Note the USA Today headline. Hard to see without clicking it but it reads: "Birds Fly High!"

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Post with No Name

Last Friday I was at Minute Maid and saw the Astros break out their 'rainbow' unis from the late 70's/early 80's as part of the 'Throwback Friday' promotion. Maybe time has mellowed me but I didn't hate them as much as I remembered hating them when I saw them regularly back then. 

Outside of not using the white shoes they wore with this get-up, not much changed. The 'Stros got a nice pitching performance and couldn't hit squat. I hope this isn't the look the Astros are going to when they change unis for next year but as an occassional thing it's kind of fun.

Below is Lucas Harrell who pitched Friday night. Above is the singularly intimidating James Rodney Richard on his 1981 Fleer. Read all about one of the most interesting guys to pitch in the club's history on Wikipedia.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Davey Johnson 2012 Heritage

I have about a hundred or so contemporary cards, meaning cards from 2000 to now. That's not counting my one extravagant purchase of a box of last year's Allen & Ginter. I have them in a small card box and on Monday night while I was trying to get my mind off R.A. Dickey and Brett Myer killing me (for different reasons) I thought about blogging something to pass the time. So I pulled out that box and counted to the 44th card (that was my favorite uni number) and it was this Davey Johnson card.

He always brings to mind a couple of things. First, his love of stats and computers. He was ahead of his time in that regard I think. I'm trying to find a reference Jim Bouton(?) made to Johnson's ability to know exactly what he needed to hit to finish a season at .280 or so. Supposedly Davey didn't want to raise expectations for the next season.

Second, I remember praying for a hit as he batted against Jerry Koosman in the ninth inning of the fifth game of the 1969 World Series. I was watching with a friend and his mom in their living room. When Cleon Jones caught Johnson's fly ball I felt sick. Literally. I just got up and walked home so they wouldn't see me cry.

I know it's senseless but I've never really gotten past the Orioles firing Johnson after the '97 season. I had tuned out baseball during the strike a few years previous and was just letting the O's success suck me back in as a fan when Peter Angelos decided that Baltimore wasn't a big enough town for both of them. Yes, I know that Johnson had an ego problem and I know about the Alomar 'thing' but hell, he's just won Manager of the Year and two division titles. He'd only finished lower than second once in his managerial career and that was after he took over an already floundering Reds team in 1993. And the turned that team into a division winner the next two years!

Don't get me wrong, I've become a Buck Showalter convert. I'm glad my initial reaction to his hiring was very wrong. But the better part of the last two decades might not have been so futile had Davey Johnson remained in the O's dugout. Contrary views are welcome.

Johnson looks every bit of his 69 years on this card. I guess managing will do that.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

King Henrik

The NHL gave out it's awards Wednesday night and the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist took home the Vezina trophy as the league's best goalie in 2011/2012. I think he deserved it for all the nights he 'carried' a pretty punchless Ranger team and delivered them to the best record in the Eastern conference. He was nothing short of spectacular night after night. But I didn't think he would actually win. 

Here's the Lundqvist 07/08 Fleer Hot Prospect card. Pretty cool for a 50 cent card I think. 

It was my only Lundqvist card until I scored this one on eBay:

A jersey piece card of my three favorite goalies! I spent more than I should have on it but, as a Ranger fan for 50+ years and a guy who's favorite player is usually the Ranger goalie,  how often will I get a chance for a card anywhere close to this?

Sports Art(?) Perez-Steele Brooks Robinson Hall of Fame Postcard

Note: I wrote this entry on Tuesday, June 19. On Wednesday LeRoy Neiman, who I discuss here, passed away. R.I.P

I think of three names where sports 'art' is concerned. LeRoy Neiman, Sam Bass, known for his NASCAR 'art' and Dick Perez whose is best known to baseball fans for his Hall of Fame portraits, seen on a nice set of collectible postcards

Neiman is the most universally known of the three and he was a big deal back in the day. I'm no art critic but of the three I appreciate Neiman the most. His stuff was everywhere. He was on Wheaties boxes on store shelves and in Sports Illustrated. He'd go to a big game or a big heavyweight bout and he'd have a painting done the next day commemorating it. 

I had a Muhammad Ali print he did up on the wall of my first apartment. I read somewhere that he's 1) a semi-impressionist and 2) hated by most serious art folks. Doesn't matter, I like his sports art.

Sam Bass, on the other hand, I just don't get at all. NASCAR-types (and I follow it and a lot of motorsports) just go gaga over this guys work. Hell, he's the "Officially Licensed Artist of NASCAR". Yeah, whatever. He's like the emperor with no clothes. Everyone knows he sucks but nobody says it out loud. To me it looks like something done for a high school art contest. Every year the district I work for has a Rodeo Art show and winners have their work displayed at the huge Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. The also-rans in our local contest display more talent than Sam Bass. 

Your Honor, I rest my case.

And finally we have Dick Perez of the 'hobby famous' Perez-Steele Galleries. I'm generally a fan of his stuff. I really like a lot of the portraits he did for the Hall of Fame postcards. The Brooks Robinson one I'm showing at the top is a good example. His Ty Cobb and Chief Bender are really great as well.

The Hall of Fame cards were issued each year after the initial years sets that covered the inductees up to that time. I'm not sure they are still put out. From what I saw on this page it doesn't appear so. Looks like the 2001 inductees were the last ones that were issued. I've got a dozen or so. I may post them when I dig them out.

He also did a lot of work for Topps and Donruss. Not all of it, IMHO, up to the standards of his other art. But I do like his Allen & Ginter art. Nice stuff. 

Dick Perez has got a nice website. I didn't know he did some special Phiiles commissioned art. There is a lot of stuff to look at there.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cheap 'Must Have' Card... Don Mossi

Prior to Fuji asking for folks' favorite vintage card he wanted his readers to discuss an/or post the cheap (under $5) yet cool card they considered a 'must have' for every collection.

There was a wide range of reactions. Some were, ahem, pretty 'colorful' (yup, I'm looking at you Night Owl) ;-)

Anyway, I'm late to the party, nothing new for me. But I'm not convinced by Night Owl's rant, funny as it was. I believe there IS a cheap card that belongs in every collection. Maybe not one specific card but one of several that are cheap, and extremely cool. I'm referring to having in your collection any Don Mossi card.

How can a Don Mossi card not improve a collection exponentially? Look, if some non-card collectioning friend ever asks what you see in squares of cardboard you won't need to say a word. All you'll need to do is pull out the '61 Mossi that is at the top, or....

the 1959 Mossi

or the 1964 Mossi...

or the Pièce de résistance... my personal favorite and the only one of these that I don't have, 

the 1966 Don Mossi 

One look and he'd know. He'd just know why you collect cards. Don Mossi may just BE baseball.

There are a boatload of Don Mossi cards that can be found online for just a few bucks, or even a few cents including shipping. How can you resist?

My Favorite Vintage Card...1978 Murray Rookie

Fuji over on The Chronicles of Fuji asked for people to post their favorite vintage card. I thought it would be an easy choice. But the more I pondered it, the more I went through my stuff, the harder the decision became.

I considered the "obvious" choices in my collection. Those included my John Unitas rookie, Brooks Robinson rookie, T206 Christy Mathewson, and my tired old 1959 Bob Gibson, the one card of my 1959 set that actually survived from my youth and kick-started my '59 Topps blog adventure. I debated on a Koufax card and my '58 Maris All Star.

But I kept coming back to this guy:

It occurred to me that if I had dropped that one out of my stack and I was comparing all the others to it then the 1978 Eddie Murray rookie was the vintage card I enjoyed the most. It's nowhere near the most valuable card I own but is, in my eyes anyway, the 'coolest'. It would qualify even if it wasn't his rookie card but that trophy just makes it all the sweeter. Murray's bad-ass expression, the unusual pose, the classic (for me) three color helmet. I love it.

I've picked it even though it just barely qualifies as 'vintage' in my frame of reference.

Whatever. This is it. My favorite vintage card. 

My Worst Brooks card (is there such a thing?)

I came across this thing in my box marked "Oriole Junk". It's a '73 Topps Brooks Robinson and it's a nice card in the early '70s Topps mold. I sometimes think Topps just told their photographers to buy a cheap ticket and sneak down into the box seats to take their pictures.

The thing that distinguishes this card is how off center it is. No doubt it's the worst balanced card I've found in my collection. And as a guy who has collected the '59 Topps set, that's saying something. It is weird though that the front is so much better than the back. I always expect the two to be in sync border-wise.

The stats on the backs of baseball cards were always a big part on their appeal to me growing up. There was no better way for me to pass time on a rainy day than to pour over card backs. And the longer the columns, the better. I was interested in how guys' numbers ebbed and flowed over the years.

EDIT... I was sitting at my car dealers' service department waiting on an oil change when I originally wrote and posted this today using the Blogsy app on my IPad. I haven't ironed out the kinks in my IPad blogging skills yet. But I'm working on it.

Monday, June 18, 2012

1987 M&M's Panel: Cal Ripken and George Brett

I can't remember how these were distributed. Maybe in the huge bags of M&M's like my grandmother used to buy to fill up a bowl in her living room. Whatever. They came in two-card panels, 12 panels/24 players make up the set. The panels are perforated and, just like the separated cards, are worth next to nothing. Another one of those items you can buy on eBay and pay twice as much for postage as you do for the item.

The set is one of those MLB Players Assoc. items that doesn't show any team logos. The backs are semi-unreadable with the pink printing, at least to these now elderly eyes. They list some stats in addition to vitals and highlight blurbs. They use the basic numbers that used to be printed in long columns in the Sunday sports section (I miss that) and cover complete or recent career numbers depending on how long the player had been around.And what's up with the lime green M&M? 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Who's that guy?

PHX Cactus Legue Exhibit

I stumbled across this picture online. It's part of an exhibit at the Phoenix airport that chronicles all the teams that have or have had Arizona as their spring home.

I don't recognize the player signing for the kids. The only clues are the fact he's a righthander, and the fact that the O's trained in Arizona at Panther Field in Yuma in 1954 and Scottsdale from 1956 through 1958. That's certainly not an Oriole jersey worn in 1954 we can assume the picture is from the '56/'58 time frame

My guess is Mike Fornieles. Fornieles was 25 when he was in camp with the O's in '57 so he was about as young as the the player in the photo appears and he was Cuban which might be a reason he has attracted some Hispanic young fans.

That's likely a stretch but I have nothing else.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Oddball Orioles Stuff #1

As I continue to schlep through my boxes of 'stuff' I come across lots of off-the-wall memorabilia items pertaining to the Orioles.  I'll throw some of them up here from time to time.

This is a first day cover issued by the country of Grenada in 1988. It featuring what I assume were legal stamps issued by the government of that country. The three .30 stamps featured the three best known Orioles. I have no idea where I got this or what I paid for it. The envelope is cooler than the stamps I think. I love anything that features Memorial Stadium.

Most of my 'oddball' stuff came from the classified section of the Sports Collector's Digest, by poking around the boxes of 'crap' that a lot of dealer had on their tables back then or from friends I made in the Baltimore area through card trades and purchases.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Brian Roberts is back!

This isn't an Orioles blog per se but since I'm a fan of more that 50 years there are going to some O's posts.

Brian Roberts returned to the Orioles tonite after what a year and a half(?) on the sidelines with post concussion issues. I grabbed him a month or so ago for my fantasy and stashed him away, pretty much on faith. Well I stuck him in the lineup tonight and right now he's 2 for 3 with a ribbie. And the Birds are up 8-4.

Fun all around!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Down Goes Robby!!! w/Update

I found this Frank Robinson bobblehead on eBay. Of the six or so that were listed this was the most reasonable. It arrived today and well, you can see the result.

The shipping box looked fine but the styrofoam within the inner box was damaged (hard to see in this photo). It looked like it was crushed from both sides. The seller responded as soon as I contacted him and asked for a picture. I hope it works out. I really wanted this thing, dammit.

The eBayer refunded my $ and told me to keep the bobble or toss it. Sending it back would have cost me about $10 so we're each eating half the original shipping. I'm satisfied.

I've got a bid in on another one. Wish me luck.