Friday, January 29, 2021

(Almost) free cards

Back when free card Fridays were still in vogue, gcrl had his own version, almost free stuff Friday, in which he would put up cards for claiming in return for one card off his want-list. The first time I saw it, I found the idea of wading through his massive want-list daunting, but the second time I was so impressed by the cards he had to offer that I took the plunge. I'm glad I did. In return for a 2006 Fleer Ultra Takashi Saito (and some cards for his lurker collection I threw in) I got to take my pick. I was the last to that particular almost free stuff Friday, but there were still some great cards left.

I ended up with five cards (including the Wills above), and they really packed a punch.
Gio is one of my favorite Yankees, because it's just incredible how he came out of nowhere. Before coming to the Yankees, he hit just .225 in the majors, surviving in the majors only because of his defense. Since moving to New York, he's hit .310 with 27 home runs. I doubt it's steroids, because I don't think steroids can turn a terrible hitter into a great hitter. 

It's also cool seeing Duke Snider as a coach for the Expos.
I think it's a tragedy how for vintage Topps, there are so many sets with great fronts and bad backs, and vice versa. 1971, for example. The design and the photography on the front makes the front a top-10 Topps set for me. But the backs are horrible; an ugly color and only one year of stats. 1970 has the reverse problem. The backs are nice, bright, and very readable, while the front is gray and bland. But 1976 may be the best example of that. The fronts are colorful, and the photography is good. But the backs may be the worst in the history of Topps. They can be almost impossible to read at times. The font and the background is almost the same color, making it a train wreck of a back.

Thanks for the cards, gcrl!

Extra: I'm going to a card show today for the first time in almost a year! And the last time I went, I only got to spend half an hour. It's going to be the biggest card show I've ever been to, with about 450 tables. All the card shows I've been to before have been small hotel shows, so I'm a little nervous, but hopefully it'll be fun and I'll get some great cards for me and my dad.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

The rest of my COMC shipment: Pre-war cards, Yankees, and the rest

This is the last, but not least, post showing the cards I got in my Comc shipment. I'm kind of glad I'm finishing them up today, because it's almost a month since I got them. I'm really working this month on taking care of my backlog, because it's better to blog about cards when the excitement of acquisition is still fresh. I hope to have it all worked off by some time in February.

Anyway, the cards. 

These are cards I got on behalf of my dad, who's trying to complete 1970 Topps, as that was the first year he collected cards. He mostly has just semi-high numbers and high numbers left, and after 50 years of collecting it he has just 28 cards left. 
These are two that I bought when I thought I was going to collect 1969 Topps. And then I realized how many bad photographs there were in that set, so that went on the shelf. These two are all right though.
Tom Tresh started out his career with a bang, winning the Rookie of the Year award in 1962. His career went downhill from there, his batting average slowly regressing, from .286 in 1962, to .246 in 1964, to .233 in 1966, and then .219, .195, .211, and retirement. Oh well. 
With these three, I now have all of Mel Stottlemyre's regular Topps cards from 1967-1974 (my dad having his '75 card). Stottlemyre was one of the few bright spots on the Yankees during their second Dark Age (the Horace Clarke Years), winning 20 games three times for teams primarily populated with such immortals as Jake Gibbs, Andy Kosco, Bobby Cox, Gene Michael, and others.
I like getting Ryne Duren cards, as I've acquired a love of the bespectacled fireballer from my dad, who in turn grew up on stories of Duren from his dad, my grandpa, who was actually around to watch him pitch.

Ryne Duren would warm up by unleashing heaters into the backstop, thus striking fear into the hearts of the prospective batters both by his speed and the knowledge that Duren didn't know where the ball was going. It's safe to say that not many batters dug in against Duren. One time in high school my Dad decided he'd try doing that in his warm-ups. It did not go as well. Midway through his warm-ups his coach came out, wanting to know what in the world was wrong. My dad explained that he was just imitating Ryne Duren, but he was a bit unnerved by his coach coming out in the middle of his warm-ups,  and ended up pitching badly.

I love this quartet of cards. The ss-p designation on Eddie O'Brien's card is great.  Eddie Yost was called "The Walking Man" because he walked so much, leading the league 6 times in his career. Elmer Valo's 1957 Topps card is a classic, and so are Dick Stuart's nicknames. Four of his five nickname listed on Baseball Reference are classics: Dr. Strangeglove, the Boston Strangler, Stonefingers, and The Man with the Iron Glove. 
Steve Bilko was one of the greatest minor league sluggers in history. In a three year stretch running from 1955 to 1957, in which he played for the L.A. Angels in the PCL, he hit 148 homers with a .330 average and .638 SLG. But he never had much success in the majors. He hit 76 homers in 1738 at bats for 6 teams over 10 years, but never really caught on.

As it says in The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading, and Bubble Gum Book, "If Rochester was New York City, Steve Bilko would be in the Hall of Fame. But it isn't. And he isn't."
I was excited to add a card of Connie Marrero to my collection, as he was a very cool player. He spent his prime pitching for small town teams, and was in his mid-30s when he entered professional baseball, and 39 when he reached the major leagues. Despite those handicaps, he spent five very solid years in the majors for the Senators, going 39-40 with a 3.67 ERA with bad teams.
1952 Bowman is one of my favorite sets ever, so I was glad to pick these two up for less than $2 each. Larry Jansen was a very good pitcher, winning 20 games twice in the majors. His best minor league season was 1946, in which he went a sensational 30-6 with a 1.57 ERA for the San Francisco Seals.

Sandalio "Sandy" Consuegra, a teammate of Connie Marrero, had some good years too. In 1954 he was 16-3 with a 2.69 ERA, leading the league in both winning % and ERA+. For his career he was a respectable 51-32, with an ERA of 3.37.
This was my first 1939 Play Ball card. It's in bad shape, but I was very glad to get it because it was just $3, and Johnny Cooney (the player, though you can't tell from the front) had a very interesting career. He started out as a pitcher, and was fairly successful, going 34-44 with a 3.72 ERA for pathetic teams. Switching to the outfield, he prolonged his major league by 10 years. Though he was a solid hitter, with a .286 career batting average, he hit but 2 homers over his 20-year career.
On a whim I bought two cricket cards, and I don't regret it at all. J.B Hobbs, maybe the greatest cricket player ever, was just 85 cents (!), and H. Sutcliffe, a teammate of his in international cricket, was a mere 75 cents. So if you want to get some pre-war cards, but want sports cards, not cards of birds and trains and flowers and planes, cricket is the best option. 

I try to avoid spending much on individual cards, but every once in a while I splurge and buy a $10, $20, card, whatever it is. My big card of this order was a 1909 American Caramel card. It's of Harry Krause, who you probably haven't heard of, but had an interesting story.
In 1909 Harry came out of nowhere to go 18-8 for the Athletics as a 20-year old, leading the league in ERA with a stingy 1.39 ERA. The next year though, he hurt his arm and dropped out of the major leagues, so thus far his career closely parallels Mark Fidrych's. But unlike Fidrych, he went back to the minor leagues and ending up winning 266 more professional games, finishing his 22-year pro career with 309 wins.

A solid back, though not as nice as the Polar Bears or Piedmonts from T206.

So that's it from my COMC shipment. I got a lot of cards which I really liked, and I hope y'all enjoyed seeing them. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Am I becoming a set collector?

I've never been a very focused collector. I've always had some specific types of card that I value more, like Yankees and my player collections, but for the most part I've always just collected whatever caught my eye. Looking back at a card show post from April, 2019, there's no rhyme or reason, just lots of fun cards. 1980s Baseball's All-Time Greats, Bert Blyleven with a beach ball, a 1995 Fleer card, 2011 Topps Lineage, 1980 Topps, Omar Vizquel with a sports car, 1984 OPC, Nolan Ryan as a Met from a Coca-Cola set, Nolan Ryan as a baby from a Pacific set, pitchers sucking on lollipops, Fernando Valenzuela looking depressed, etc. You get the idea. It's a fun way to collect. And I still collect that way, for the most part. But over the last six months I've started tentatively journeying into set collecting.

It started with 1959 Topps. I'd been getting '59s for cheap at a local card shop, and when I'd gotten to 50, I decided I'd officially start collecting it. The fronts are colorful, the backs aren't bad, and it's the cheapest of the 1950s Topps sets. But now I'm wondering, where is it going to end? If 1959, why not 1963. If 1963, why not 1964, 1965, 1967, and a myriad of other sets? I don't know. I've been adding some cards from those other sets, so I'm at least thinking about collecting them, but for now I'm just going to enjoy the awesome cards and not over-think it.

Speaking of awesome cards, I had 28 1959 Topps cards in my Comc shipment, (the two above being examples) and there are a lot of nice cards among them. Here they are (he wrote after attempting to come up with a good transition, and failing miserably):
Pink isn't my favorite color for baseball cards. It just seems very out of place. But the three above are still nice cards; they just look a little awkward. 

Here's something about Granny Hamner you probably don't know: After his major league career he was a minor league manager for the Athletics, and he also took the mound frequently. In 1961 he had a 5-4 record with a 3.43 ERA for Portsmouth-Norfolk, and in 1962 he actually was 10-4, with a 2.03 ERA. On the strength of that he was called up the Athletics, but after posting a ERA of 9.00 in 3 appearances retired for good.
Marvelous Marv!
Here's a nice quartet of hall of famers. I don't think any of them cost me more than $2.50, which was nice. The Mazeroski might be my favorite of all the '59s I got in the order. It's in great condition, I like the yellow, and the picture is nice.
This was less than $2, but the condition bothers me enough that I regret it slightly. I mean, what's that yellow blotch?
Some facts about Elston Howard: He was an all-star for nine straight seasons (1957-65), which is interesting as he had three seasons in that span in which he hit .253 or less. In 1967 he finished 17th in the MVP voting, which is stunning as he hit just .178 with 4 homers that year! He also played a year in the negro leagues, which I did not know before researching this post.
Here are some good examples of why I'm collecting '59 after all. There's some fun photography, and I really like some of the color combinations. The yellow ones are nice, and I love the black ones.
One thing I think is weird about Sal Maglie is that he didn't become an effective pitcher until he was pitching in the Provincial League after his expulsion from MLB (48-49). And he was in his late 20s at the time.
It felt good to knock out some high numbers. These 4 brought me to having 6 high numbers, which is a respectable number, though I don't have any of the stars yet. 

I have a small connection to Solly Hemus, as my grandfather was Hemus's lawyer, so I always enjoy getting his cards. Though he was a regular for just 3 years, he was actually quite a good player. He was a 2nd baseman who hit .270, walked a lot, led the league in hit by pitches 3 times, and had some pop in his bat. He was a very under-appreciated player, because no skill of his really stood out, but he had a lot of little advantages which added up to making him a very valuable player. His career OBP was .390. I love the Infield-Manager designation, too. 1959 was his last year as a player, and though he was just 4 for 17, he hit 2 doubles and walked 8 times. This is making me think that I probably should get more of his cards, as they're very affordable.

So anyway, there you have it for the 1959 Topps cards I got. I now have 105 of them, so just 467 to go! I think I'll work a little on some other sets before getting back to 1959. 

Right now I'm not working very seriously on any sets. It's more like glorified accumulating, which I'm calling set collecting. I'm not very focused or motivated as a collector, so I may never actually complete any of these sets. But that's okay. It matters more just to enjoy collecting cards. 

And since I haven't shared any music in a while, I think I'll share a couple of songs today.

Revolver might be my favorite Beatles' album. The White Album gives it a run for its money, but I feel like the Beatles were at the height of their craft then.
I've actually shared this one on my blog before, but because it was so long, and almost nobody read my blog back then, I think it's worthwhile to share it again. I like it a lot. I'm never quite sure if I like Pink Floyd, but this a really good early song from them. 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

My Comc cards came!

My Comc shipment came December 28th, so that was a pleasant surprise. I had anticipated waiting for months, which was not a pleasant thought. But a mini-miracle happened, so yay!

I had been buying cards from March onward, finally shipping them after Black Friday, so I ended up with a decent pile of cards. They were all vintage, as I love vintage cards. Which you can probably tell from reading my blog.

Since I got 80 cards, and want to show them all, I've decided that I'll break them up over 3 posts in total. This one will feature all the odd-balls, of which I got plenty.


With these four I'm now down to just Rusty Staub and Willie Mays to complete the 1969 Deckle Edge set. It's a very nice set, and quite cheap. Except for Rusty Staub, who for some reason is $3, which is more almost twice as much as I payed for Yaz. So if anyone has either Staub or Mays, I'm eager to trade for them.

To be honest, I was not very enthusiastic about receiving this quartet of OPC cards. My order of O-Pee-Chee cards off Sportlots had satisfied my O-Pee-Chee urge for a good long time, so these cards, acquired long before my Sportlots order, left me cold. I guess it's inevitable that when you get cards you bought a long time ago, some of them you don't care about anymore.
The backs are really the reason you get vintage OPC cards, so I thought I might as well show them.

I was very excited to get my first playing career Minnie Minoso for just 65 cents! It's a nice card too.
Wilmer Mizell is probably the only card that I really regret getting. It's not in very good shape, and it's not from a set I care too much about. But his nickname was "Vinegar Bend", so I guess it could be worse.

But I don't regret for a second getting that Gene Conley. A fun fact about him, which you might know: He is the only player ever to play for three different Boston pro teams: The Braves, the Red Sox, and the Celtics. He won one championship for the Braves, and three with the Celtics. 

I really couldn't resist this 1969 Milton Bradley Horace Clarke. Horace is an important figure in Yankee history, as he has a whole era named after him, but it's his awesome specs that sealed the deal. He often wore glasses in other cards, but I don't know of any others that feature him with sunglasses, which is too bad.
Actually, the Steve Barber on the right is another one I regret getting. I got it because I thought it featured him as a Yankee, but the TCDB lists him as being a Pilot. So whatever. 47 cents down the drain.
Guidry would probably be a hall of famer if his career was just a couple of years longer. His record, 170-91, is sensational, but 170 wins is too low to get considered. If his career started a little earlier, if his first year as a regular was at 23 instead of 26, I think he would be a no-doubt hall of famer. As it is, he has an okay case.

So that's it for the "odd-balls." My next post will probably be about the 1959 Topps cards I got. Thanks for reading, and have a good day. (or night if you read it tonight.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Christmas Completed

 I believe that in my last post I mentioned that three of my '56 Topps cards were still in the mail. Well, the last card came on Saturday, so now all 9 are accounted for. I love 1956 Topps, so I'm very happy to have gotten Yankees for Christmas. Anyway, here they are:

Though Konstanty, the 1950 NL MVP, was at the tail-end of his career by the time he joined the Yankees, he did quite well in his stint. From 1954-56, he was 8-3 with a 2.36 ERA and 17 saves in 62 games. He never pitched in the postseason for the Yanks, though, which makes it seem like Stengel didn't have an overabundance of faith in him. After all, he was 38 in 1955, the only year the Yankees were in the World Series when he was with them.
I have the feeling that Gil McDougald was Casey's kind of player. Not a star, but an incredibly useful player. He played all around the infield, and, what's more, was an outstanding fielder at every position. He was also a very solid batter, hitting .276 with a little power. You need the Mickey Mantles of baseball to win championships, but you also need the Gil McDougalds too. They act as the glue holding the team together. 
Bob Turley was the last to arrive, which is understandable, as the card was coming from Canada. 1956 may have been ol' Bullet Bob's worst season in the big leagues. Despite an 8-4 record, his ERA was 5.05, and he walked 103 batters in 132 innings. Though his control at the best of times was hardly pin-point, he compiled a 101-85 MLB record over 12 years, and won the 1958 AL Cy Young award.

 I had a very good Christmas, and I hope Christmas 2021 will be just as good.

A couple final quick notes: My Comc order arrived last Monday, and my first post chronicling it should come in a couple of days.
     I listed on Ebay the Randy Arozarena foil rookie card I pulled on Christmas, so if anyone's interested, here's its link: 
    Also, I've been a member of the Trading Card Database for just a little over 2 years now, as I joined January 3rd, 2019. I'm glad to be a member, as it's very handy to track your collection on, and the members are all nice and helpful. I haven't traded on the site yet; that may be in the future. If you aren't a member, you should consider it. It's free, and it's very helpful just as a database even if you don't enter your collection or trade.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

My first in-person trade in two years

 Trading is the best way to acquire cards, in my opinion. And trading in-person is the best way to trade. It's a lot more personal, and it's just funner. No shipping fees, either. The problem with trading in-person is that there has to be someone who lives fairly near you who collects baseball cards. Which is the hard part. So hard, that until fairly recently (OK, a month ago, this post is overdue) I hadn't been able to trade in person since Winter 2018. 

But, thankfully, I was finally able to find someone to trade with. We were able to meet in late November, and it was very fun talking baseball (he's as obsessed about baseball as me, which is saying a lot) and trading cards. He has 3 or 4 younger brothers, I can't remember the exact number, and they all collect baseball cards too. So I actually had a lot of people to trade with. I recommended to him, and I believe that he's made an order with his younger brothers. 

He's a Giants fan, so I was able to get plenty of unwanted Giants off my hands in exchange for cards I like. I got a lot of cards with fun photography.

 Kiermaier was #10 on Dimebox Nick's Top 10 cards of the year list. It's definitely a great card. The Schwarber sunflower seeds/ice water/headphones card is nice too.
Hanging out by the bat rack always makes for classic shots.
I don't think this pair needs much commentary
1992 Topps is a very good set, in my opinion. It's a nice, clean design, and the backs are B+. The photography can be very nice too, as evidenced above.
There's a lot of leaping featured on those 2 cards. Geno Petralli is looking pretty graceful for a catcher, and Andres Galarraga is also suspended in the air. The Jose Oquendo also gets extra points for the Ozzie Smith cameo (he's behind Andres).
I love these two. Al Martin seems to be mesmerized by the ball, and a Fernando Valuenzuela short-term stop, pitcher at the plate card is pretty awesome. Fernando was 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA and a .250 average with 1 double in 1994.
1987 O-Pee-Chee may be my favorite of all the OPC sets. The backs are just so bright! I currently have 4 cards from the set.
He had a dozen or two of 1978 Topps commons, so I traded for  a good amount of those. I think I traded some of my low-grade duplicates from '68 and '69 for them. Enrique Romo was 109-74, with a 2.67 ERA and 23 shutouts, in the Mexican League.
I like the Technicolor Astros jersey on Ferguson.
Bucky Dent is definitely my favorite of the '78s I got. He's up there with Aaron Boone and others as Post-season heroes.
I will close with this rather enigmatic picture of J.R Phillips bouncing a baseball on his knee.

My friend Damien has a blog called "The Cooperstown Advocate" where he argues for various players' enshrinement. He's more of a big-hall guy than I am, but he's very knowledgeable about the players, so I always enjoy reading his posts. And arguing with him in the comments :).  

So, anyway, thanks to Damien for the trading and thanks for reading!