Thursday, May 30, 2013

It's the People You 'Meet'

Let's be honest. Every blogger likes to see their ramblings on the 'Net. It's a big reason why we do this. Yes, I know that some of us will say "I don't care if anyone reads this" but all of us do, to some extent.

But the real currency of blogging isn't the number of posts one spits out, or the number of followers one has, or how many comments your work generates but rather the number of people you will likely never get to see in person but who have, in some odd way, become friends of yours. At least that holds true for me.

One such friend is Ana Lu. She started leaving comments on my blogs from time to time and it was nice to hear from a fellow futbol fan. Then as time went on I found that she is from Portugal which is cool because my grandfather came here from the Portuguese Azore Islands.

And then finally I discovered that she, too, is a blogger. She writes the Hobby Card Europe blog. I enjoy reading it because she brings a European view, a woman's voice (there are so few females blogging about this hobby) and, frankly, I'm charmed by her wonderful Portuguese-influenced way of writing in English. (I hope that doesn't offend you, Ana).

Like many (most?) of us Ana has a 'niche' collection. Be it "Plays at the Plate", "Awesome Night Cards" or my own "Guys on the Phone" card collection we seem to love these sorts of focused personal collections. Her's is "Dust is in the Air" which features cards that show players kicking up infield dust, mostly by sliding.

Check it out, and remember that "Enviar um comentário" means "Leave a Comment". A few weeks back Ana let me know she was sending me an envelope. It arrived early last week and it was fun. First of all it came from Portugal and therefore had postage and marking that were pretty unique. Inside I found quite a bit more that the 'couple of things' Ana had promised.

First there were several of these shiny cards which I'd never seen. They are labeled as 'Phil Rizzuto's Baseball/The National Pastime cards. They are very shiny with a 3-D sort of effect and don't scan well. Most are copies of old-time baseball art or baseball-related magazine covers from early in the last century. The write-ups on the backs are pretty informative. 

A stack of shiny (chrome?) rookie Topps cards came out of the envelope next. My scanner hates them. I like the fact that the Colby Rasmus filled a hole in my 'fantasy team' needs.

Next were Oriole cards from the early 1990's which all filled a need since I was 'away' from the hobby for most of that decade. Here are two of them, both Cal Ripken cards. The second is an O-Pee-Chee.

Also included were some 2012 and 2013 Oriole Topps cards. Between these and some sent along by Night Owl some weeks ago I think I have the regular issue Birds filled in from the last couple of years.

Last, but certainly not least was a treasure trove of futbol items.

These cards are two of four cards I got that come from a Portuguese set made by Panini in Italy. Great looking cards. I love team crests that all international club teams have and each of these have crests from La Liga clubs.

Ana also sent along a huge stack of Panini futbol stickers. Lots of famous international players are included in this set as well as team photos and stadium shots. I see Panini stickers at Target and WalMart. Not sure if these are the same things. I'd guess they are.

Thanks again, Ana. It was really cool to get an envelope from the land of my grandfather. Your thoughtfulness is appreciated.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Eddie Grant... He made the Ultimate Sacrifice

The first major league player to die in the service of his country was Eddie Grant. With a law degree from Harvard he was quite unlike most of his contemporaries. It was said that instead of the usual "I got it!" called out when a player has a bead on a pop-up, Grant would shout "I have it!"

A native of Franklin, Massachusetts, he played 9 seasons of baseball with four different clubs, most notably the Phillies for whom he held down the regular third base job for most of four seasons, 1907 through 1910. Although only a .249 career hitter Grant nonetheless was able to lead the NL in singles in 1909 and 1910 and in hits overall in '09. A better fielder than hitter he finished near the top of several defensive categories when he was a regular.

Grant appeared in the 1913 World Series with the New York Giants as a pinch hitter and pinch runner. He left the game after the 1915 season to open a law practice in Boston.

He enlisted when his country called as we entered World War I in 1917. Wikipedia summarizes his Army service and the details of his death on the battlefield in France in 1918:

Grant was one of the first men to enlist when the United States entered World War I in April 1917, and he served as a Captain in the 77th Infantry Division. During the fierce battle of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, all of Grant's superior officers were killed or wounded, and he took command of his troops on a four-day search for the "Lost Battalion." During the search, an exploding shell killed Grant on October 5, 1918. He was the first Major League Baseball player killed in action in World War I. He was buried at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in LorraineFrance.
This New York Times article (opens as a .pdf file) from October 22, 1918 relates the story in full.

I have the Eddie Grant T205 Gold Border (shown above) as well as his T206. The Gold Border cards are just a wonderful set and Grant's is a great portrait I think. Here are a few more pics and details from the life of Captain Eddie Grant found around the 'Net:

Here is the plaque that was installed in the Polo Grounds by the New York Giants to honor him.

It's position in the stadium is visible in this famous shot of Willie Mays' catch in the 1954 World Series. It's on the left under the 483 distance marker.

And finally, Eddie Grant's grave marker in Lorraine, France. R.I.P. and Thanks for making the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, Capt. Grant.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Frank Robinson program

I've mentioned (ad nauseum I guess) that publications, particularly team issued ones, are a big part of my hobby enjoyment. Here's an example of the type of thing I collect. Obviously it's a Frank Robinson Hall of Fame Day 'program' from 1982. Frank had been enshrined earlier that summer. The program is 30 some-odd pages long with a gatefold ad for United Airlines in the center. The other 30 or so pages are comprised of photos, color and sepia-toned, representing different eras of Frank's life. 

There is a brief write-up that accompanies each group of pictures. The scan below is of two pages. I posted it sideways intentionally for perspective. 

I like that they included baseball cards as part of the tribute.

 Notice anything about the page below?

Yup, the portrait picture is reversed. The Bird is backwards. Too bad because the pic of Frank in the vest uniform is pretty sweet.

Friday, May 24, 2013

1969 Don Sutton

Another from my late '60s pile of 'cards that I wish I'd taken better care of'. This is my favorite Don Sutton card, the one I see when I here his name. I saw a lot of him in the time he was here with the Astros in the early 80's. Seems like it was a longer stretch than under two seasons but that's how minds play tricks on ya.

Anyway he finished the '82 season with Milwaukee and pitched in the last game of the season at Memorial Stadium against the Orioles. My Birds had taken three straight from the Brewers to catch the in the standings as the season was ending. It was a crazy weekend.

Matched up against Jim Palmer Sutton broke all of out hearts with a dominating 10-2 win in what at the time was Earl Weaver's 'good-bye' to Baltimore. Video of the games aftermath is in this post.

Sutton retired after a brief return to the Dodgers in 1988 with a record of 324-256. Hard to believe a guy could win that many games games and only win 20 once.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Big Boog

I think every Orioles fan of a certain vintage holds a special place in his heart for John "Boog" Powell. I know I do. He was just that kind of guy, powerful, jovial, larger than life. The '67 Topps Boog Powell is one of my favorites. The close-up photo really conveys his size, and oddly, his temperament  At least it does to me. He looks calm and satisfied with how his life has gone.

Like all of the 1000's of cards from the late 50's and 60's that were shot at Yankee Stadium I always feel like 'Hey, maybe I was there that day!'. Probably not.

But the card does reference a day I WAS at the ballpark, in this case Memorial Stadium. The write up mentions the fact that Boog was the first man to homer over the hedge row beyond the centerfield fence there. That was June 22, 1962 and it was my first ever time to see the O's in Baltimore. It was a twilight doubleheader against the Red Sox on a Friday. The Sox won the first game 2-1 in 10 innings with the loss going to Hoyt Wilhelm. Ike Delock and Milt Pappas had gone pitch for pitch for most of the game.

Don Schwall was pitching the second game for Boston. In the seventh Powell launched his monster blast out over the hedges towards these houses:

It was impressive. I remember my uncle who was, unlike my Dad, a serious Orioles fan, saying he'd love to have been out there to see it coming. The shot tied the game at 2-2 and Hobie Landruth, of all people, won it in the ninth for the Birds with a walk-off homer. Future Hall of Famer had gone all the way for the Orioles. I believe that was the only time I ever saw him pitch.

Here's to you, Boog!!

Monday, May 20, 2013

1960 Topps Managers, Solly Hemus and Jimmie Dykes

The one quality every manager's card should always have is a picture showing them doing something managerial. Unfortunately managers don't actually do much. They lean on the dugout railing, talk to the pitching coach, scratch out names on the line-up card posted on the wall, make phone calls to the bullpen and lean over and spit. That's pretty much it.

But Topps did a good job of making Solly Hemus and Jimmy Dykes look like managers. Solly was in the second of three years (2.5 actually) as Cardinals' manager. A long time Cardinal, he had returned to St. Louis from a stint with the Phils and gave the role of player/manager a shot in 1959. He didn't play much, just getting 26 at bats, but after finishing in 7th place he came back in 1960 solely as the skipper. His team finished third. He was let go as manager mid-way through 1961 with the Cards in fifth.

In his 1960 card he props himself on the railing and gazes off into the middle distance. He's probably hoping Stan Musial will play a few more years.

I know for sure what Jimmie/Jimmy Dykes is doing. He's composing a letter asking Topps to at least spell his name the same way on both sides of his cards.

Jimmy/Jimmie managed for twenty one years in the big leagues, mostly with the White Sox. He was a player/manager for his first six seasons in Chicago. He later had stints with the Athletics, Reds, Orioles, Tigers and Indians. His three year run with the A's was the longest of any with those clubs. He averaged a fifth place finish in his long managerial career and three 3rd place finishes with the ChiSox were the best he could muster.

He had 21 seasons as a player and hit .280 for his career. He played in three World Series and won two of them. All that time in a dugout certainly helped him perfect the 'foot up on the dugout looking thoughtful' step thing.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Brooks Robinson Turns 76!

So Happy Birthday, Brooks! And many more.

To celebrate here are a few items from my pile of Brooks-related 'stuff':

Friday, May 17, 2013

I'm a Publications Guy

Yes, I am. I mean, I really do love my cards and all the other assorted 'stuff' I've hoarded over the years. Really, I do. But the part of my memorabilia collection that's closest to my heart is my big stash of team publications. The vast majority of my collection is Oriole related but I do have quite a bit of ephemera relating to the Colts (Baltimore Colts only, thanks), Texans, NY Rangers, Houston Astros and Cougars, Nebraska Cornhuskers and a smattering of Dodger items as well.

If I was forced to choose between cards and publications, it would be 'bye bye cards'. So I'm always excited when my Oriole Media Guide shows up in the mail. Makes for tons of great reading. I've got a near complete run of Oriole Guides, lacking only the '54 and '56. Those early versions were called 'Spring Training Rosters' or 'Guides' and were just about eight pages long. Here is the '55.

The Orioles have had an erratic history of publishing yearbooks in the last two decades but they've been putting them out fairly consistently in recent years and my 2013 is supposed to arrive in June. Can't wait.

I'm working on a history of Oriole Yearbooks. It'll make a long post one of these days.

The Oriole Magazine above is a pretty slick publication that is issued three or four times a year. This is my first year to subscribe along with the yearbook and Media Guide. Jury still out on these.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

1969 Topps Leo Durocher


No special reason for this card here today. Other than the fact I'm currently firming up my plans for a trip to visit my daughter in Chicago this summer. As with most things I planned backwards, buying Cubs tickets before even looking at flights or hotels.

I'm excited to be knocking an item off my 'bucket list', seeing a game at Wrigley Field.

Oh, and Leo? I think of him in his days as manager of the Astros. I doubt there has been a much more unpopular guy associated with that team.

This is another of my beat-up vintage gems. Leo sports more creases than an Origami swan.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mail Call 2

I really enjoy Corey S's Adventures in 1952 Topps blog. Putting that set together, even in less than pristine condition, is a formidable task. The set is a classic and I only have one or two so following Corey's progress is pretty fun.

Recently he showed off a Larry Doby card from the '52 set and not long afterwards he showed off another one, in better shape, that he had acquired as an 'upgrade'. I'd commented on how much I liked the Doby (a nice batting cage pose, aren't those cool?).

Not long afterwards Corey emailed me for my address and then sent his original Doby my way. That's it at the top. Anyone that reads my babbling here knows that a touch of lost cardboard, round corners or off center pics don't bother me in the least. I love this card.

I like the fact that the '52 cards featured eye and hair color as part of the player data box. I don't know if that's been done since. Anyone? Doby is obviously an iconic figure in the game's history. And this is a far superior card to my other Doby, my 1959 version. So I'm pretty pleased to add it to my collection. Thanks again, Corey!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mail Call

I frequent a sports card forum called the 'Trading Card Zone'. I have a link to it over in the sidebar. It's a friendly place, home to guys who mostly pursue the "new shiny stuff" but they also tolerate me and my worn-cornered vintage cardboard and my long-winded stories of the "Good Old Days".

One of the ongoing threads is called Pay It Forward and it chronicles members sending cards to other members 'just because'. Not a new concept in the memorabilia blogosphere, but a pretty cool one for sure. I was recently the recipient of one such Pay It Forward package from a TCZ regular, Troy (aka: franklinguy52).

He included the Panini National Treasures game used Brooks Robinson swatch card at the top. Pretty neat, huh? What's really remarkable is that just prior to me receiving Troy's envelope I had seen this exact card on the eBay page that suggests stuff  'you might like' and I put it on my watch list. Not 10 minutes later I opened up the package and found it. It was like an instant scratch-off ticket winner!

Troy had commented on my Upper Deck golf pack purchase that I posted about on Masters Sunday. He said he had bought some so I had asked if he had found a Fred Couples card. Couples is a University of Houston alum and a special favorite of my whole family. Obviously he had because in the package was this golf shirt swatch card from that set. If there is a cooler guy on the PGA and/or Champions Tour I don't know who it could be. Fred has the smoothest swing of any golfer I've ever seen. 

It's Dylan Bundy. He's still a big prospect for my Orioles.

And a new to me Cal Ripken card. This from Upper Deck Collection inserts of 1996. Nice looking card, the border doesn't show as well in the scan as it does in person.

And finally David Duval. I used to think he was the perfect golfer. He had everything, swing mechanics, attitude, etc. For a time he was the #1 ranked golfer in the world. Then it fell apart for a variety of reasons. He's made a couple of brief, promising comebacks but now he struggles to make a cut from one week to the next. Some things are just hard to understand.

But it's still a really nice card. It captures him in his classic follow-through and he's wearing his shades as usual.

Thanks again, Troy. The cards are much appreciated! I'm digging through my stuff, and scouring the TCZ pages to find something I can pay forward to someone there who might appreciate some modest vintage cardboard.