Thursday, November 18, 2021

Third Blogging Anniversary

 I started blogging three years ago today. It's always nice being able to write about baseball cards and have people read what I write. 

Last year I used my blogging anniversary as a chance to reminiscence about my early days of collecting, so I think I'll do that again. (My mom finds it funny that I'm reminiscing about things when I'm still young.)

For a time I think that the only place I bought cards at was a card shop called Nick's, which I still visit today. It was owned by Nick, who was super nice. Once he gave me a complete 1990 Upper Deck set because he liked how I was interested in the older players. Not a ton of monetary value, but it's a nice set and I thought it was really cool. It's also funny because though my dad mostly collected from 1970 to 1975, he briefly returned around 1990 and bought tons of Upper Deck packs trying to complete the set. He never got close, and I got it for free. 

I would frequently purchase 20-card repacks of vintage cards in good shape for $20. I would have been able to get many of those cards for less than a dollar on COMC, but because I didn't know about COMC at the time I would have just spent that money on less worthwhile things. Like buying retail packs, which wasn't cost-efficient even back then.

Another thing I really liked was that there would be over-production era packs for a quarter each, which were fun to open. Nick sold the shop in 2016, and I was very sad. The new owner is nice, (he's the one who gave me a 1933 Goudey for free last year), but I still miss Nick. 

Thanks to my parents for, as Yogi said, making this night necessary, and also supporting my hobby. Thanks to all my blog readers and commenters. I don't think I'd be blogging if I didn't have people who read and commented on my posts. Writing is fun, but also hard. I now have 11 followers, up from 4 as of my second blogging anniversary, so that's nice. Thanks everyone!

Thursday, November 4, 2021

My birthday!

 Yesterday was my 15th birthday. It was a pretty good birthday. We went to my favorite restaurant for lunch, I had cake, and of course I got baseball cards. This year I picked them out for myself, and though it's nice not being sure what you're getting, I'm glad about the cards I got.

I've always wanted a Zeenut card because I really like the minor leagues, the Pacific Coast League is my favorite minor league, and the Zeenut cards chronicled the Pacific Coast League from 1911 to 1938. They're rare, though, and usually in bad condition, so I'd never gotten one. This, a 1925 card of Bill James, is my first. 

I'm really happy with it. It's obviously not in mint condition, with a corner missing, but it doesn't have any ugly creases and is just a nice card. Bill James (not be confused with the writer) also was a very interesting player. He won 26 games with a 1.90 ERA for the Miracle Braves in 1914, a forerunner of the Miracle Mets, but hurt his arm the next year and was never the same again. He never had a winning record in pro ball again, but lasted until 1925. He only pitched one inning that year, and allowed two unearned runs. He managed in the semi-pro Sacramento Valley League until the mid-1940s.

I also made a cool purchase on the forum Net54. I bought 15 1947-50 Yankee Picture Pack cards for just $19. Calling them baseball cards is a bit of a stretch, as they're huge and pictures, but they are usually considered cards and are very nice. There aren't many baseball cards from that time, and so for some of these guys it's their only Yankees card. And they were just over a dollar apiece. 
Frank Crosetti started out with the Yankees as a short stop in 1932, and was still with the Yankees as a coach when my great-uncle John tried out with them in 1962. 

My great uncle got to take batting practice right after Roger Maris, and fielded ground balls from Crosetti. When he was getting a bat from the batting rack for batting practice, he heard a voice saying "don't use that bat," looked over, and there were Yogi Berra and Elston Howard. Howard apparently didn't want a kid to use his bat. The Yankees were impressed and offered him a contract, but unfortunately he said that he had an offer from another team with a bonus of $10,000 (he did not), and they told him he wasn't worth that much. This is where he should have said he would take less, but he said thanks and left. He ended up signing with the Pirates for $1,500. He had a good year in rookie ball in 1963, but then got hurt and hit only .256 in 1965. And retired. 

It's cool how Bobby Brown's picture pack card and his 1951 Bowman card have the same picture. It's really nice to have both.
Spud Chandler is one of the great pitchers that almost no one has heard about. He had a 109-43 record, and led the league in ERA twice, including 1947 when at 39 he posted an ERA of 2.46. He won the MVP award in 1943, with a 20-4 record and 1.64 ERA. Unfortunately he was a late-bloomer and had arm problems, but he could have been one of the greats. 

I also got three packs. One from 2021 Topps Series One, one from Series Two, and one from 2020 Topps Update. It was fun opening them, though I didn't get anything amazing. 
Gerrit Cole was my only Yankee card, only two days after I wrote about getting my first Yankee card of him. I was actually wrong about that; I already had his 2020 Topps base card and forgot about it.
I don't care about modern cards that much, sadly, so the rookies are the most exciting part. I'd like to love modern cards, but I just can't. 
I didn't remember Giovanny Gallegos , but anyone who's name is Giovanny gets my support. Justin Turner has been a favorite of mine for a long time because of his beard. I call him "The Dwarf" because the beard reminds me of Tolkien's dwarves. 
Jorge Soler was a timely pull. I was rooting for the Braves, as it seems everyone was doing, but switched to the Astros after they were down 3-1 because I wanted it to go to seven games. I wasn't cheering very vehemently for the Braves in the first place to be honest. 

It was a good birthday. A little quiet, but I enjoyed the cards. I spent most of my day researching Bullet Rogan's time with the 25th Infantry in Hawaii. A refresher on Rogan if you've forgotten (I had before last week): He was a top pitcher and hitter in the Negro Leagues in the 1920s, with a 120-52 record, 2.65 ERA, and a .338 batting average. And before joining the Kansas City Monarchs he was the best player in Hawaii.

Monday, November 1, 2021

A little help from my friends

 It's always nice to get some help with a set or player collection from a fellow blogger. Jon of A Penny Sleeve For Your Thoughts left a comment on my last blog post offering to send me some 1959 Topps cards, no strings attached. Getting 62-year old cards for free was a pleasant surprise.

He sent me nine cards on my want-list, so I'm now at 170/572, or 29.7%. I'm hoping to reach the 200 card barrier by the end of this year, and I plan on getting at least a good chunk of that on COMC's Black Friday. 

The Lou Skizas is in very nice condition. Jon said he hoped that they would all meet my condition requirements, and none even came close to being rejected. I mean, my requirements are not strict, but they're in great condition, especially for freebies.
Unfortunately, I got Dick Ricketts at a card show back in February. It was still on my want-list for some reason- whoops. 
Ah, the always alliterative combo cards. Calling Dave Sisler a batter baffler was a bit of an exaggeration, as he had a career ERA of 4.76 at the time. He did have a 2.48 ERA out of the bullpen for the Tigers the next year.
Here's something to think about before you spend $$$$$ on prospect cards: Whitey Lockman, up to 1950, looked like a future hall of famer. Whitey came up in 1944 as a teenage centerfielder, and had an elite .341/.410/.481 slash line. Yes, it was war-time, but he was 18. With Jersey City that year he hit .317/.479/.563. He was in the army in 1946, and injured in 1947, but he played very well in 1948, with a .286 average, 18 home runs, and 117 runs scored. Still just 21. He kept it up in 1949, with a .301 average, 11 home runs, and a WAR of 4.3. Nothing dramatic happened that I know of, but he never played that well again. He hit .295 in 1950, but without power, and he moved to first base in 1951. His average stayed in the .290s, but it was empty, and in what should have been his prime, from his age 27 to 30 seasons, he hit just .258. And by 1959, at 32, he was playing for the Baltimore Orioles. You really never can tell. 

Thanks Jon for some much appreciated help on my set!

I also received some team and player collection cards from gcrl of cards as i see them as part of an almost-free-card-Friday. For two TCMA Dodgers, I got three Yankees and two players I like.
I'm so haphazard in my modern card collecting that this was my first card of Gerrit Cole as a Yankee.

I heard DJ was playing through an injury, and his .268 batting average certainly makes that seem likely. Oh well. 
This was also my first post-Rangers card of Yu Darvish, and my first card of young Yaz. Both had amazing 2020 seasons (8-3, 2.01 for Yu, Mike Yastrzemski finishing 8th in the MVP voting) and disappointing 2021 seasons (8-11, 4.22 for Yu, .224 average for little Mikey.)

Weird how the only logos on these cards are for Pepsi and Bank of America.
Yay! A card of my favorite active player! Who was actually healthy all year! It was such a relief for Judge to be actually playing everyday. It wasn't 2017, but he hit 39 home runs. If Judge can keep that up for five more years, and then play well for another five, we're talking Hall of Fame territory. I guess you can't read too much into the future of injury-prone 29 year-olds, but I can dream.

So that's it for today. Thanks for reading, and thanks Jon and gcrl for the cards!

Monday, September 13, 2021

I haven't forgotten about you, 1959 Topps

 My post before last saw me finally completing the 1969 Topps Deckle Edge set. The other set I've been working on, 1959 Topps, has been going slowly but surely. Including the cards I have sitting in COMC's warehouse, I'm over a quarter of the way through the set, at 159/572, or 27.8%.

I've been able to find some very good deals on Net54. For $19 I got an 18 card lot of 1959 cards in very nice condition, including Richie Ashburn. Watching the binder pages starting to fill up is extremely satisfying. 

Richie isn't in the best shape, but my set is rather short on star power, so I'll take it gladly. 1958 was Ashburn's best season, as he hit .350 with a league-leading 215 hits and also league leading 97 walks.

I like the variety of emotions shown on these cards. That's Felipe Alou's rookie card, and he just looks happy to be on a Topps card. Johnny Podres looks a little bored. Larry Doby just looks angry, and I don't know if I can blame him. As the first African-American in the AL, things were not always smooth, and by 1959 he was washed up, playing for the Detroit Tigers, and didn't even have a hat on. 

I love the Howard and Shantz cards. The pink pair, not so much. What's pink doing on a baseball card? Actually, the Gilliam is a nice card, but there's a big printing flaw right by his nose, which is a bit annoying.
Though I'd prefer new cards, both Repulski and Lumpe were welcome upgrades (upgrades on right.) Speaking of which, there few worse last names than Repulski and Lumpe.

Klippstein, Repulski, and Zuverink. I love it.

A slightly bland final four for this batch of '59s. This is Stan Williams's rookie card. He would appear in Topps sets until 1972. Looking at his cards, I just realized that Stan belongs to the Topps Yankee swamp of difficulty, with others such as Bob Friend, Bob Schmidt, and Bob Meyer, as his only playing career card in pinstripes is a high number. 

Because I'm already posting about 1959 Topps cards, I might as well feature a few of my COMC cohort. I've been looking for as many cheap high numbers as I can get, and have managed to get quite a few for $1.25, or even cheaper. In other words, success. 

#507, $1.09

#548, $1.03

#572, $1.24

So I guess what I'm saying is that, despite their ridiculous shipping times and all that stuff, I can't stop buying on COMC because of the deals I find sometimes.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

1952 Topps blooper

Most people I know, on the blogs and forums, think 1952 Topps is over-rated. It's certainly not the #1 of Topps sets (as some people think), but the cards really do have a mystique in person. It's hard to help admiring such a daring set, with 407 cards, a new big size, a facsimile signature, and stats on the back. 

But I have to admit it is amateurish in some ways. The design isn't really that nice, and the downside of having 407 cards in a set is that there's a lot of no-namers. Another problem is that the pictures weren't actually color photographs, but black and white photos recolored. That usually wasn't much of a problem, but it looks odd sometimes, and sometimes the artist flat-out messed up. Looking through my cards, I found a funny example which I'll show tonight.

How about you just look at that card for a minute. A pinhole at the top, general condition flaws, the good-ol' hands-behind-your-head-without-a-ball pose, a funny flying sock logo, a signature in cursive, and, on his chest, Chicago. Wait a second.

You've probably noticed it by now. The poor artist completely forgot the I, and had to improvise with a faint line in between H and C. Ouch. 

I don't really understand why he would've missed the I if it was on the uniform in the first place, but maybe I don't understand the exact process of how the pictures were made. 

I guess that's it. I just thought it would be fun to share a cautionary tale of inattention. Good night.

Monday, August 23, 2021

My first completed set!

 A couple of weeks ago, with the arrival of #33, Willie Mays, my 1969 Topps Deckle Edge set was finally finished. And the quest all started with an Ebay order that never came.

It was probably back in 2017. I had ordered a small lot of Deckle Edge cards, but they were lost in the mail. I was very disappointed, and to console me my parents bought me a lot of Deckle Edge cards for around $20. Actually, I just decided to dive into the Ebay feedback history to get the details. It had 26 of the cards, for $16.60. Which was just an unbelievable deal. The lot had Roberto Clemente, Rod Carew, Pete Rose, Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, all those guys. It even had the two short prints, Joe Foy and Jim Wynn. 

That was a huge part of the set, leaving just 9 cards, but I didn't add any more until last year. I got about four in my COMC order,  one or two from my dad, one from a card show, and suddenly I only had one card left. Willie Mays. 

At the card show I went to in the spring, I had the chance to get Mays for $10, but passed it up, remembering that I had seen it for cheaper online. A decision which I cursed for a while, until I found a copy on Ebay for $6.95 + shipping/tax. Finally the set was complete. I still think I should have gotten it at the card show, but it's okay.

Mays is the last card in the set. As you can see, it's numbered to 33, but it's actually a 35 card set because both of the short prints share numbers with another player. Jim Wynn and Hoyt Wilhelm are both #11, and Joe Foy and Rusty Staub are both #22. 

1969 Deckle Edge isn't the best set ever, but it's a fun little set with plenty of star-power. The checklist is a little weird. Felipe Alou is the representative player for the Braves, instead of Hank Aaron. Being black and white makes it distinctive, and it's just a nice clean set.

It feels good to have a complete set. There's a couple cards I want to upgrade, but they're both commons so it won't be too hard. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Worst set candidate: 2001 Fleer Tradition

 We all know 1990 Donruss, and 1991 Donruss, and 1965 Topps Embossed; almost the icons of ugly sets. But a lot of disasters have slipped through the cracks, so I'm thinking about doing a little series to highlight those lesser-known wonders. Hope no one has done this before.

In the early 2000s, there were a lot of sets like UD Vintage and Fleer Tradition, which were basically devoted to tweaking old Topps designs a tiny bit to avoid a lawsuit, and then passing it off as their own. So you can't really call any of those sets good, when they were glorified rip-offs. It makes you feel that Topps deserves to be the only MLB-licensed baseball card company if that's what the other companies did. 

But the worst of those sets was 2001 Fleer Tradition. The problem, in my eyes, with a lot of retro sets is that they use a photo filter to make the pictures look older. I get why they do it, but I think it always looks terrible. But the worst use of it comes in 2001 Fleer Tradition, hands down. The action shots have the filter, and it's the worst I've ever seen. Here's an example:

I mean, look at that. Mo's face is a blur, you can barely read "New York," and everything else looks weird. And it's not the scan (from TCDB), as I have this card and it's just as bad in hand.

Some more atrocities:

What could they have been thinking?

The set could be worse. The layout is okay, and it really might be a nice front if it weren't for the stupendously bad action shots.

The backs are fairly innocuous. One thing I don't like about them is the cartoons. They're boring, and not even player specific. 

The statistics are meager, for 2001, and there really isn't anything to make up for that. Look at all that space at the top! 

And after awhile they wimp out, and don't even include the pitiful cartoons, so there's an ocean of blankness. All that space could be used for stats.

I'm not sure what to do next, so I'd be interested in hearing about worst set "favorites" of yours.