Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A pair of '58 Topps All Star cards

The 1958 Topps All Star card  of Jackie Jensen combines two things I've become a fan of... the 1958 Topps All Star cards and Jackie Jensen! Jensen is, as I have gone on about a few times previously, an interesting and much under appreciated player. He had all the tools needed for stardom but his career was undermined by his 'inner' demons.... anxiety, self-doubt and fear of flying.

My interest in the '58 All Star cards I think goes back to the fact that the '58 set was the first one I remember seeing. Living in Jericho on Long Island at the time I had a friend, a girl who lived down the street, who had a stack of them. They must have made a huge impression on me because I can still recall looking through them on my back porch with her.

Many years later I set out to collect as much of the set as I could at card shows and then on eBay but there came a point where I just lost interest. The set just didn't grab me as some later ones, the '59 and '60 for example, did. But out of the aborted collecting campaign came the one subset that did interest me, these All Star cards. I'm closing in on completing it.

Below is the Bob Friend which I snapped up along with the Jensen. Friend was three time NL All Star and among other accomplishments he became the first pitcher to win his leagues ERA title while pitching for a last place club. He did that in 1955. He led the NL in wins in 1958.

Bob's son, Bob Friend Jr., was a golfer on a couple of the PGA tours and is currently an analyst for Sirius Radio's PGA Tour Network among other golf related activities.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Topps Tattoo Billy Pierce

Patience pays off in this hobby. I've missed on several of these over the last year. I was able to find the parallel tattoo that features Pierce's name awhile back but the face tattoo eluded me..

I had a shot at one that went cheap a couple of weeks ago but missed by a few bucks. This one was a B-I-N that went unsold and I kept making offers to the seller which he rejected until I guess he figured it was me or nobody. So here it is.

Pretty good shape for something so fragile. These were issued as gum wrappers in 1960 and this is the Topps version. There were sets issued by O-Pee-Chee and my 'sig' tattoo is one of those. At one point I told myself that I was going to chase both versions of both tattoos. That's not going to happen. The difference between the two versions is just the manufacturers copyright line so I'm happy with what I have and as far as I'm concerned my 'tattoo chase' is over.

Here is the 'flipped' scan showing Pierce's name 'correctly'. EDIT: I meant to mention that when I saw Pierce's name is shown 'correctly I meant readable without a mirror! His first name is more properly spelled 'Billy'.

'Billie' Pierce was a Delta Blues/jazz singer whose career spanned some fifty years and who passed away in 1974.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday Morning Quarterback #8 1989 Topps Traded Todd Blackledge

In this ongoing (weekly?) series of posts I am going to feature cards from my fantasy football player collection, specifically the 117 quarterbacks I've had on my team's roster since 1980. I have one selected card for each player in my All-Time Flyers binder. Through the years I've tried to use as many different card varieties as possible while holding on to my preference which is: a card issued in a year I owned the player showing him in the proper team uni in a vertical format. Card availability and my whims have had a big impact on that standard as we will see. 

NFL Info: Todd Blackledge won a National Championship at Penn State and was drafted by the Chiefs in 1983. He was drafted 7th in the first round, behind John Elway but ahead of Dan Marino! He played sparingly that first year and ended up sharing the starters role with Bill Kenney the next several seasons after that. He finished up with Pittsburgh backing up Bubby Brister in 1988-90.  He has had various jobs in broadcasting since he retired including work including studio and sideline at ESPN.

Fantasy Angle: Blackledge was pretty highly thought of coming into the NFL in '83. As mentioned he was taken as the second quarterback in a draft that has become known as the 'gold standard' of NFL QB drafts. In addition to Elway and Marino, Jim Kelly was taken in that first round. I drafted Blackledge in '83 and never used him. Tommy Kramer began the season as my starter and when he struggled I switched to Joe Ferguson of the Bills. I finished 6-7-1 and out of contention that year.

The Card: The '89 Topps set is pretty run-of-the-mill as far as I'm concerned. The Blackledge card is typical with it's somewhat muddy photo. The backs do contain quite a bit of info including full stats where possible. It's all packed into an odd design with a yellow and blue/green motif. Blackledge only had a few cards and the one I've seen of him as a Chief is in the horizontal '85 set which I only use in my 'fantasy football frankenset' as a last resort. And this one, showing him standing on the sideline, works in the sense that he never did anything for me, either.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

1964 Topps 'Giants' Warren Spahn

I don't recall ever seeing Warren Spahn pitch in person while he was in his prime (and what a 'prime' it was!) but I did see him as his career was winding down pitching for the Giants. In fact I saw him win the next-to-last game of his career in 1965 when he beat the Mets at Shea. It was a home run festival for the Giants which made my best friend Chris and his Dad very happy.

But I'm posting this just because Spahn cards never cease to amuse and amaze me. Look at the angles on this one. His cap, cap brim, nose, ears, eyebrows and even the character lines on his expressive face all leading off into different directions. The Braves' classic cap makes it even better.

It's a great shot of a great pitcher. Here is his 1959 Topps blog entry with some career details and Spahn-centric links. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Who's that dude with the aviators?

Here is my latest bobblehead. The one, the only Ron Kittle! I follow him on Facebook because his posts make me laugh (or shake my head, it depends). Of course after I bought this on eBay I see that he is selling them himself with the money going to charity. Oh well.

The ones he's selling are signed but that's no big deal. I just wish I had waited so I could have put my $20 to better use than lining an eBayer's pocket. And yes, I did break off the advertisement on the bobble's base. I usually do if I think I can without damaging it.

I already have a signed Kittle card. I posted that back in January.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Weird Little Collections: Original Six Favorites #5

I'm not sure there is anything I can say that will adequately describe Bobby Orr. As a Ranger fan I know I was supposed to 'hate' and I'm sure I said I did back in the day. But truth be told I doubt even the staunchest Blueshirt Believer would have hesitated to sell his own mother to slave-traders to have Orr on Broadway.

Orr changed the way the game was played. He did stuff with the puck that no defenseman had ever done with it. Like going end to end on the ice and leave opponents wondering what the hell was going on. Don't believe me? Ask anyone that saw him play. It's a great shame that his knees took so much abuse and took such a toll on him. 

This is the 1969/70 O-Pee-Chee Bobby Orr. I only wish the card looked as good in my hand as it does in the scan. You can see the fuzzy borders. Why do so many O-Pee-Chee cards look like they were cut from sheets using a butter knife? And the corners are not as sharp as they appear but overall I'm glad this card survived. I had completely forgotten I owned it and went out an bought a 72/73 Orr a couple of years ago. I guess you can't have too many Bobby Orr cards.

Pick a video to watch. This one features music by Carly Simon.

Here is one set to a song by Creed. Creed? I haven't thought of Creed in a decade.

This one has his Top Ten highlights. 

Or go find Legends of Hockey Bobby Orr on YouTube. It's a three parter and well worth the time.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Coins of the Realm

I keep finding more of my stuff that hasn't seen the light of day in awhile. These are 1964 Topps coins. I've got a stack of these including the Orioles and some stars from both the 1964 and 1971 coin sets. 

The set has a lot of star power. And you can find most of the Hall of Famers pretty reasonably.There is a B-I-N Koufax All Star coin on eBay for 9 something now and I've seen them lower than that. Including the All Star coins there are 164 coins in the set plus three variations/errors. The checklist can be found here.

 I actually like the regular coins more that the All Star ones. Something about the gold rim makes them stand out. The All Stars coins, done in blue (A.L.) and red (N.L.), look a lot like the 1971 coins. I pulled out a bunch of the '71s as well and I'll post them soon.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My Sloooooow Pursuit of the '64 Topps Giants Set

I've liked this set for a long time. I honestly don't remember seeing it back when it was fresh in 1964 but when I started hitting the hobby shows in the mid-to-late 70s and early 80s I picked up the three of Orioles that are included and then a few others. I thought they were neat cards. The fact that 1964 is right in my wheelhouse when it comes to being a baseball fan certainly adds to it's appeal to me. If you hadn't noticed I am partial to postcard sized collectibles and these of course fall under that umbrella. And finally I dig the fact that they are really inexpensive considering the star power throughout the checklist.

There was a time in my youth when the Phillies were a team I followed. Going to Shea Stadium with my friends and their fathers who were mostly National League fans I guess I felt I needed a team in that league to root for. The Phils' outfield with Johnny Callison, Wes Covington and Tony Gonzalez were fun and Callison remains a favorite to this day.

As for this set collection, I didn't do much about them for a very long time. I bought a lot of about ten a couple of years ago and never even took them out of the sleeves they were shipped in. Then about a year ago I decided to add a few here and there. The only card I can recall paying more than a buck or two for is the Koufax. And at the time I bought it I was buying more for the spot in my Koufax PC than the '64 Giant binder but it was nice to add in any case.

I still lack a few short prints and a few slightly pricier cards as well as some 'commons' but I'll knock off the last dozen or so that I need without too much angst.  If you've never seen the back of one of these take a peek at the Koufax.

Just in case anyone has any of these hanging around, here is my needs list:


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Big E gifts from Mark Hoyle (and a bonus)

Friend of the everyone's blog Mark Hoyle sent along a couple of Elvin Hayes cards from the 1975/76 Topps hoops set. I don't think I had ever encountered cards from this year. Poking around eBay and other sites I found that Topps used color combos for each team that didn't match the teams colors which was pretty much their modus operandi for decades across all their sports issues.

Simple fronts with a pic, plain sans serif block fonts and the two piece stripe adornment. The backs with that green and purple/blue coloring are hard to read. 

That is Elvin's regular card and he shows up on the Bullets Team Leaders card as well. 

Interestingly the backs of the leaders cards list the Bullets' yearly leaders in four categories going back nine seasons to 1966/67.

As I looked at the cards from this set online I was struck by how many of the players were very familiar to me. I probably couldn't name more than 5 current NBA guys and I have no idea who won the championship last year but I remember Kevin Porter and Mike Newlin.

With the addition of these two Big E cards and the handful I've picked up in recent months I guess I am officially making Hayes a PC to chase. I have seven 'career era' cards in my cart at COMC and when I finish checklisting what I have I'll add a few more.

One other thing I found online was the set's team cards. They have the usual photos of the teams sitting and standing on benches. All except the Lakers. Have a look:

Yup, it's a 'floating heads' team card!!

That's Connie Hawkins on the upper left. And some guy named Abdul-Jabbar second from the right on the bottom row. I've heard of him, too.

He is the added gift I mentioned. It's a 1974 Topps Don Baylor stamp! I love oddball O's stuff like this. I have one or two of these from the Orioles team set but the Don Baylor is new to me. Thanks so much, Mark. You make the blogosphere a better place, even without a blog!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Monday Morning Quarterback #7 1990 Pro Set Steve DeBerg

In this ongoing (weekly?) series of posts I am going to feature cards from my fantasy football player collection, specifically the 117 quarterbacks I've had on my team's roster since 1980. I have one selected card for each player in my All-Time Flyers binder. Through the years I've tried to use as many different card varieties as possible while holding on to my preference which is: a card issued in a year I owned the player showing him in the proper team uni in a vertical format. Card availability and my whims have had a big impact on that standard as we will see. 
NFL Info: Steve DeBerg was drafted in 1977 by the Cowboys who cut him at the end of camp. DeBerg was signed by the 49ers and went on to play though 1998 with six different NFL clubs. In '98, as a Falcon, he became the oldest qb to start an NFL games and the oldest player ever to appear on a Super Bowl roster. That was his last season. Among his highlights: He led the NFL in completions in 1979 and he set NFL single-season record for lowest interception percentage in 1990.

Fantasy Angle: I had DeBerg on my roster on four separate occasions spanning 1980 to 1998. He started the third game in my teams' history in '80 while playing for the 49ers and had two touchdowns. I drafted him in 1985 but traded him before the season started for the Cardinals' Neil Lomax who got me to the playoffs. He rode my bench during last season of his in '98 as a Falcon. But it was in 1990 that, as a KC Chief, he played a big part in one of my most successful seasons. He made five regular season starts for me that year and went 4-1 including the final two games that got me a division title. He threw for five scores over that two game span. Then I used him in my semi-final game and he helped me win again with a 12 point effort. I started Dan Marino in the title game and won my first championship.

The Card: 1990 Pro Set is one that I hold near and dear to my heart. I was bailing out of the baseball card hobby but along had come Pro Set football, available nearly everywhere in pack form. I could grab a three pack sleeve at the grocery store or get one at Stop-and-Go when I filled up. Putting the set together card by card, trading with the kids at my school. It was a lot of fun. People can bash the set all they want but I love everything about it.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Lucky Me... More Orioles Dexter Press

I managed to extract the last of my Orioles Dexter Press postcards from their binder page today. It was a harrowing experience. But I took it slow and the cards came out fine. The glossy finish has reacted with the vinyl pages over the years it seems because the fronts are somewhat sticky and I had a hard time lifting them off the scanner platen. 

The Mark Belanger card is the only one that features an Oriole in a road uniform. This shot resembles those used in the large 5 x 7 Dexter Press cards that I've posted previously. Palm trees=spring training.

Tom Phoebus had his picture taken a bit closer to game time than most of the others. The crowd looks to be filing into the bleachers.

Here is the back of the Davey Johnson card. Here, from the text on the back, is a trivia question that'll win you a beer next time you're in a bar: Dave Johnson is the last player to get a hit off Sandy Koufax. He singled off Koufax in the sixth inning of Game Two of the 1966 World Series. That was last inning Koufax pitched before he retired.

Johnson has always been one of my favorite baseball people. His firing by by Peter Angelos in 1997 was the final straw leading to my break from baseball. Davey began his association with the game by serving as the Washington Senators' batboy during spring training in 1953. It's kind of neat that he wrapped up his career as manager of the Washington Nationals last year.

More Dave Johnson facts: He received a math degree from Trinity University in San Antonio, was at the forefront of the game's computer revolution, he can speak Japanese, has a pilot's and real estate license and taught scuba diving. He won the Manager of the Year award in each league and 14 of 17 teams he managed with the Mets, Reds, Orioles, Dodgers and Nationals finished either first or second. I think he belongs in the Hall of Fame as a manager but it'll be tough sledding. 

The next four-pocket sheet in the binder contained these postcard sized photocards. These unauthorized 1972 issues were distributed in Canada, or at least were manufactured there by Pro Star Promotions. They have a matte finish and they slid out of the binder page without a problem. Further proof that the gloss on the Dexters is behind the problems I had.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Orioles Dexter Press Postcards.... and a lesson learned.

Lately I've been pulling more and more items from my 'hobby closet'. Lots of stuff I have not touched literally for decades. I had my Dexter Press Orioles near the top of a box because I had scanned and blogged a few some months back.

These are just beautiful items. Rich in color and featuring an easily recognizable Memorial Stadium as a backdrop (at least for most of them). And the set comes from the best days of the Orioles franchise. If you look to the right of Moe Drabowsky you can even see the famous white houses that sat out behind the hedges on 36th. When I went to Baltimore to see the O's my uncle usually got seats in the upper deck behind 3rd but those wooden bleachers in left field was where I sat for the '69 Playoff games and the '83 World Series. Wonderful memories for me.

But back when I stored these in binders the four pocket pages I used contained PVC. They pretty much all did back them. Ultra Pro pages were not widely used until later. While I put most of my cards in quality sheets some things remained in the cheap ones and these postcards were in that group. I have managed to remove the bulk of this set from the crappy four pockets without much more damage than a loss of gloss. But the Andy Etchebarren postcard was a victim of too much PVC and not enough TLC while removing it. That's a nice rip in the upper part of the card as you can see.

I don't have many regrets concerning the hobby and how I have collected stuff but not heeding the warnings about cheap vinyl sheets is one of them.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Compare and Contrast.... Frank Robinson

Here we have two Frank Robinson new and one old, one pristine and one battered, one shiny and one, well, not so shiny.

First the 2012 Topps Tribute Robinson. It's got that 3D look, all kinds of chromey and reflective. Nice, elegant design with a classic picture of Frank in an action pose. 

The back is OK. A couple of facts, period appropriate cartoon bird logo, not too cluttered. I never like when the pic on the back is just a cropped version of the one on the front but it's not a big deal. All in all a very sweet card I'd say. It's nice to have it in my collection.

Now, here on the other hand, is my one of my original, survived-my-card purges, 1970 Topps Frank Robinson cards. Yes, that's a pin hole, those are creases and scratches. The corners are all dinged to one extent or another.

But I think it's beautiful. I mean, that is Frank Robinson, the Frank Robinson I remember as an Oriole. He just looks like a winner, doesn't he? That's Frank in Yankee Stadium remembering his terrific catch in 1966 that won a game I was at with my father. The catch that got Ralph Houk ejected while exchanging line-up cards for the second game that day. The same Frank Robinson who came out of the Yankee Stadium dugout one summer afternoon carrying MY banner that carried his (now signed) #20 in orange paint. The banner the O's bat-boy had taken to the clubhouse for me which I figured I'd never see again. Yes, that Frank Robinson.

The 1970 set may not be very dynamic. Gray borders and boring fonts don't do much for many collectors but it represents the '70 Orioles for me and that was a very very good year.

The back of this Robby card is just a wall of numbers but those numbers (and the others yet accumulated) got Robby into the Hall of Fame. And the cardboard has yellowed with age.

All-in-all the 1970 Robinson is something you could upgrade out of a $1 box at a card show but it's really special to me. I'll take it over shiny any day.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

1963 Salada Coin-Billy Pierce

I've been chasing this little gem for awhile. Most were just a bit pricey for my taste, north of $50 and frequently close to $100. But this one came along and I grabbed it at a very reasonable price. I'm not sure why the Pierce is among the higher priced coins in the set. I haven't seen anything to indicate why it carries a premium other than vague references to some being more scarce than others. But there it is. 

The back is pretty impossible to decipher even to the naked eye, never-mind in a scan. But there is Junket Rennet Custard logo there and apparently these were issued in boxes of the dessert mix as well as Salada Tea in 1962. They are plastic with paper inserts depicting the player. 221 coins made up the set with some players appearing on two teams due to trades and some other coloring variations. The next year the 63 issued coins were made of metal and were painted.

There is a parallel set called Shirriff Coins that were issued in Canada. There is a checklist with known variations that can be found here. I have a handful of these things, all Orioles and I picked them up a long time ago. So long ago that I can't remember where or when. I posted the Brooks Robinson from the 1962 set over a year ago.

But even today most of them can be had for very little. Except the Billy Pierce, of course.

Late addition:
Mark Hoyle sent me a shot of his Red Sox '62 Salada set in the original display 'shield'. It's a terrific item. But now I have something else on my wantlist!