Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas! This year featuring: 1956 Topps

 Today, 2000-odd years ago, Jesus Christ was born. Christmas also has the added attraction of being the big gift-giving holiday of the year. As this is a baseball card blog, I'll just say in passing that it is good to remember that it is, after all, a holiday celebrating the birth of Christ. 

I got some great baseball cards this year, so thanks mom and dad! It took me forever to decide what I wanted, though. I was originally going to ask for some 1959 Topps hall of famers, but I realized all of a sudden that I was tired of 1959 Topps. That feeling passed off, but I am going to work on some other sets before I go back to working on it. Don't want to be too burned out on it. I eventually decided on 1956 Topps Yankees, because you can never go wrong with 1956 Topps. Because I decided so late, there are still a couple of stragglers in the mail. I got 6 today, and they're all great.

I always like getting Whitey's cards, as he was a great Yankee pitcher. I love how his career W-L on the back of the card is 61-22. Almost otherworldly. 1956 was one of Whitey's best years, as he posted a 19-6 record and led the league with a 2.47 ERA. 
I was very glad to get the Mickey McDermott, as he didn't stop long in New York. 1956 was his only season in the pinstripes, which is probably just as well, as he had a 2-7 record with a 4.24 ERA. He did pinch hit 24 times, though he had a bit of an off-year at the plate, hitting .212. 

Tommy Byrne was an interesting pitcher because, though fairly successful, he had terrible control. In 1949 he walked 179 batters in 196 innings, the next year he walked 160, and the next year he walked 150 batters in 143.2 innings. 1955 was his best year in the majors, as he led the league in winning percentage with a 16-5 record. That year he walked "just" 87 batters in 160 innings. For his career he walked 1037 batters in 1362 innings. I don't know if there's really a match for him in big league history.
Andy Carey's card is the only one I got which I don't really like. Something about his face is just really weird. Joe Collins' card is nice, though.
This might be my favorite of the bunch, just as a card. I'm not totally sure why I like it so much, but I just do. 

As stocking stuffers I got 4 modern packs. It was nice to open some packs, because I never get packs on my own. I got one pack each of 2018 Topps, 2019 Topps, 2020 Topps, and 2020 Topps Update.

The pack of 2020 Topps Update was the best, surprisingly. I'd seen about 2020 Topps Update on the blogs, so I was warned of how boring the set was. The pack was boring, except for one card which made it all okay: a Randy Arozarena foil parallel rookie card!
I've had some very good luck with getting good cards in Topps Update at Christmas. For 2018, my sister got me a 36 card pack of Update, which yielded a Ronald Acuna Jr. rookie card which I sold around 2 months ago. I'm planning on selling this card to get some vintage, as I believe this card is only going to go down in value. (I really hope I don't have to eat my words.)

The Arozarena was the one big card, but the other cards were enjoyable too.
It was also nice pulling a Luis Robert. I'll keep this one, as I think that Luis Robert has better seasons in store.
Getting a Chance Adams 2019 Topps card seems to have become a new Christmas tradition for me, as I got the pink Chrome parallel last Christmas.
It was nice getting cards of some guys I got to see in the World Series this year.
Luis Arraez's 2020 Topps card lists his weight at 155 pounds, but Baseball Reference lists him at 175 pounds. He's not a behemoth, whatever his weight is. Arraez currently has a career batting average of .331, so if he keeps that up he'll have a nice little career.
It will be interesting to see how deGrom will be viewed by hall of fame voters. On one hand, he won 2 straight Cy Young awards, and has a 2.61 career ERA. On the other hand, it will be a bit of a surprise if he ends up with more than 150 career wins.
This was a nice little quartet of rookies. Jeff McNeil is a very good player, with a .319 career average and good fielding. Dominic Smith hit .316 with 10 home runs in 50 games this year, so we'll see if that improvement is real. Ramon Laureano has an incredible arm, and Max Fried has a 26-11 career win-loss. He had a 7-0 record this year, accompanied by a 2.25 ERA.
And here are all my non-keepers. If you're interested in some cards, I'm interesting in trading all of the cards above.

I also got an encyclopedia for the Mexican League, with stats up to 2000, which is very nice as Baseball Reference only has stats from 2001 to the present, not including some sporadic leagues they have.

Anyway, that was all I got for Christmas this year, not including some money I got from my sister, my aunt Stephanie, and my Grammie. Though I already spent a fair amount of the money my aunt Stephanie gave me on books.  And I think that my Grandma and Grandpa have a check coming in the mail too.

Overall, I've been having a very good Christmas, and I hope all of y'all have a very merry Christmas too!

Extra: I wrote in my post about getting my Comc shipment shipped that "My order is supposed to be shipped by March 10th next year. I'm praying that a miracle will happen, and I'll get my cards in a reasonable time. I know that almost certainly won't happen though."

 Well, I got an email from Comc on Sunday that my cards were being shipped! I guess my prayers were answered, even though they were a little half-hearted because I thought it was so unlikely.They're supposed to come tomorrow, so I'm waiting eagerly. It looks like Comc might be catching up on shipping their cards, as there was a thread on TCDB about other people also getting their cards shipped early. I hope it is so.

I have a post I want to do over the weekend, so I'll get to the Comc cards a couple of days after I do that post.

I'm not a big fan of Christmas music in general, but Big Star's song "Jesus Christ" from their 3rd album is a very good Christmas song. Hope you like it too.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Getting vintage O-Pee-Chee cards off Sportlots

I've liked O-Pee-Chee cards for a long time. There's something that I really like about them. They're bilingual, the backs are in different colors than Topps, and they're much rarer than their Topps twins while not being any more expensive. So I decided I would get some.

Around the same time, I decided that I should get some cards off Sportlots. With Comc not shipping, eBay being too pricey for cards under $5 etc. yadda yadda yadda. I'm sure you know what I mean. 

So for my first purchase on Sportlots for a very long time, I got 25 OPC cards from the 1970s off a Canadian seller. I had a good experience. The prices were good, shipping OK, and the cards got here in alright time considering they were coming from Canada.

I mostly focused on Yankees. It looks like the first baseman holding on John Ellis is Harmon Killebrew, so that's a nice cameo.
The backs are always the fun part for vintage OPC cards, as the fronts are the same 99% of the time (1977 excepted). They have French as well as English, and it's always interesting to see baseball terms in French. A pitcher is a lanceur, an outfielder is a voltiguer, and a first baseman is a premier-but. Very fun. Oh, and the floating disembodied head of Ron Klimkowski will haunt you forever!
Mike Cueller is so miscut, you can see that the Cy Young card was above him on the sheet. 
It's always great to get cards of knuckleballers, and Wilbur Wood is one of my favorite knuckleballers.
It's odd, because I'm accustomed to the knuckleball being translated as le papillon (the butterfly) but it seems to be translated as balle jointure here. Google Translate makes it look like "joint ball," which I guess is a fairly accurate description of the knuckleball. I wonder if that was just the people at O-Pee-Chee doing something different, or whether they actually called it the "joint ball" in 1973. 
1974 was arguably Sparky's best year with the Yanks, as he posted an 1.66 ERA with 15 saves that year. It looks like he has a large chaw of tobacco in his cheek. Lindy actually pitched for the Royals in 1974. 
If you know why Sparky Lyle enjoyed birthday cakes, as the cartoon points out, then you probably know why I think it's so funny that it's mentioned on his card. If not, be warned. It is not a tale for the faint of heart.
1974 was one of the rarest of all the OPC sets, but I was able to get mine without much of a premium. It's kind of surprising to see how cheap OPC cards are for commons, considering that they're so rare. The most expensive card I got in the whole order was the 1973 Wilbur Wood, and it was 95 cents. The average price (not including shipping) was 33 cents each. 
There are 2 unsightly printing flaws by the team name, which is annoying. 1974, for both Topps and OPC, has a ton of printing flaws for some reason. It's quite irking. 
This Tommy John looks super strange, as his finger looks a foot long. It's probably his finger poking out of the hole, and then a flesh-colored bandage or something by it, but that's still pretty weird.
It was cool getting a card of Frank Tanana from when he was a young flame-thrower. All my previous cards of him were from when he was in his 30s in the 1980s, and just getting by. But he was actually super good for a while there. In 1977 he led the league in ERA, and in 1975 he led the league in strikeouts. But he was overworked at too young of an age: 269 innings at 20, 257 innings at 21, 288 at 22, etc. He got hurt in 1979, and was never the same again, though he actually wasn't very good in 1978 either.
There's a certain fascination about slick fielding infielders who can't hit a lick. Rafael Bellaird, Mario Mendoza, Bud Harrelson, and, of course, the crown prince of them all, Mark Belanger. In 1978 Phil Niekro outhit Belanger .225 to .213. Niekro also outhit Belanger in 1979, 1981, and probably some other seasons which I'm missing.
For some reason, Belanger's career stats never made it to the O-Pee-Chee card, though they were there for Topps. They had probably decided they were frightening the kids enough with his yearly batting statistics, and didn't need to divulge that his career average was .235, with 17 home runs in 1415 games.

Not a lot to say about these two, except that 1978 has a nice design and that they're the last cards in the post.
One very annoying thing about O-Pee-Chee cards is that they're very rough cut, as you can tell from this picture. You don't notice it too much in penny sleeves, so that's how I'm storing them.

Overall, I had a good experience with Sportlots. The site is rather cumbersome and quaint, but as long as I can get good cards for good prices, it's all right.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

My first trade

I'm not much of a trader. That's partially from being an introvert, and partially from me not having a lot of trade bait, as I don't collect modern cards. However, in the last month or two I actually did my first real trade not in-person, with Nick of "Dime Boxes-The Low End Baseball Card Collector's Journey". I sent him a PWE of reprints, and in return he sent me a very generous package of about 50 Yankees and player collection needs. To show how many holes there are in my collection, only 4 were duplicates. I had a blast looking through the cards, though it was slightly tinged with a feeling of unworthiness. 
He sent me 11 Mariano Rivera cards, and they were all greatly appreciated, as Mo is favorite player ever. I now have 62 Mariano Rivera cards, which is pretty awesome. 
Phil Rizzuto is another of my favorites, as he was a Yankee fan favorite, and also because he was Italian. I'm around a quarter Italian, so it's nice how the Yankees have a good tradition of Italian stars. It might actually be the reason I'm a Yankees fan today, because my family has been a Yankee family going back to my great-grandfather, who was born in Italy. Lazzeri and DiMaggio, you know. My Grandpa grew up watching The Scooter, and thought Rizzuto was the best of the New York shortstops (Pee Wee Reese and Buddy Kerr being the other two.)
This package doubled my Masahiro Tanaka collection from 9 to 18 cards. I'm not a big relic card fan, but I certainly don't mind getting them.
Topps is getting lazy. And for fairly high -end products, too.
Incredibly, I only had 2 Aaron Judge cards before getting these 5. Judge is my favorite active player, as he's so amazing both at bat and in the field. Now if he could only stay healthy...
I'd been looking for a card of Ichiro as a Yankee for a long time, so I was very happy to finally get one, even if it is from Panini. 
I really like getting O-Pee-Chee cards, especially of Yankees. Actually, that's going to be the theme for my next post, so stay tuned. It should come out by Sunday.
I collect all knuckleballers, so getting some was a real treat. Wilbur Wood had an absolutely otherworldly workload for a couple years there. In 1971 he was out there for 334 innings, and he was just warming up. The next year he labored for 376.2 innings, and posted a 2.51 ERA. In 1973, he had a 24-20 record, and pitched 359.1 innings. That was his last truly insane season, as he "only" pitched 320 innings in 1974 and 291 in 1975. Eat your heart out, Clayton Kershaw.     
Hoyt is probably the most collected knuckleballer ever. Pitching in the majors until he was 49 probably had something to do with it.     
R.A Dickey may end up in history as the last knuckleballer, as nobody has picked up the torch now that Dickey's retired. Hopefully someone else will pop up soon.
This card back makes me really like R.A Dickey, just outside his knuckleballing awesomeness. The list of intellectuals in baseball is fairly short, so it's nice seeing that. 

Friday, December 4, 2020

Getting my Comc shipment shipped

 I requested that my Comc cards be shipped today. As I'm sure you've heard, Comc shipping is taking forever, which is very frustrating. I really don't get why it's taking so long. Comc is the only site that's taking forever for shipping. I've seen the theory put forth that it's to make people pay more for premium shipping, but that doesn't make much sense to me. I'm sure they're losing much more money in lost sales than they gain in upgraded shipping. 

My order is supposed to be shipped by March 10th next year. I'm praying that a miracle will happen, and I'll get my cards in a reasonable time. I know that almost certainly won't happen though. I think it'll be at least relatively okay, because I'll be getting plenty of cards in the interim. 

Because it's not supposed to be shipped until March, I'm going to show some of the cards in the order now (pictures from the Comc website).

I got around 30 cards for my 1959 Topps set build for very good prices which is great. Not all commons, either. OK number of high numbers and hall of famers, so when I reach 90% I don't have just the harder cards left.

I'll just show a couple of the 1959 cards.

Rest in peace, Mr. McDaniel.

I love the black bordered Phillies

I also got some 1970 Topps cards for my Dad, who is, if you include the cards in the Comc shipment, now down to about 30 cards left to complete the set. 

I got a couple 1969 Topps Deckle Edges, so now I think I'm now down to just Willie Mays and Rusty Staub. I'm having a very hard time finding Staub at a reasonable price. $3 is ridiculous to me, when Yaz was just $1.75. If anybody has a spare Staub, I'd be interested in a trade.

At Yankee Stadium!

I'll just show a couple nice cards now.

1952 Bowman is one of my favorite sets

Love the shortstop-pitcher designation

Could this card have been any better? Bat rack, camera, and it was just 70 cents

So I'll be waiting a long time for these cards, but it'll be awesome when I get them. Is anybody else waiting for a Comc shipment, or recently received their cards? I know the shipping problems for no good reason are souring a lot of people on Comc, but my attitude on it is that they have the best prices for vintage cards worth 50 cents to $5.