Saturday, June 29, 2019

Five cards 1962-1970

I have 3 binders for my collection.  My main binder which has most of my good/favorite cards.  My secondary binder has my small player collections and some of my favorite junk wax cards from my main period of collecting.  My third binder has mostly full-page sized items, such as signed photos and signed programs.  I'm not adding new pages, so I'm mostly not adding to the binders at this point.  But cleaning out some of my kid stuff from my mom's house, I found two unused binder pages.  So that's an opportunity to get a few more cards for the main binder.  And here are five such cards.
1962 Willie Mays All-Star.
First up we have the 1962 Topps Willie Mays All-Star card.  This is now my oldest Willie Mays by a few years, beating out my Nabisco Team Flakes card.
1962 AL Home Run Leaders.
1963 NL Home Run Leaders.
Just look at the assembled luminaries on these two home run leaders cards.  These two are a great way to get a bunch of early-60s sluggers in a small space in the binder.
Fergie Jenkins rookie card.
I don't care much for the 1966 Topps design and don't plan to get any more.  I always had a beat-up  Whitey Ford in my collection, but otherwise wasn't interested in 1966.  But I made an exception after seeing this card in another blogger's post at some point.  I had no idea that Hall-of-Famer Fergie Jenkins started out as a Phillie.    I think of him with the Cubs and Rangers of course; it turns out he also spent a little time in Boston.
1970 Topps Rod Carew.
And it's great to pick up an early Rod Carew.  This was his fourth regular Topps card and is now my oldest card of him.

As always, thanks for reading!

Five from 1960 Topps

Back when I was collecting in the late 80s and early 90s, I never had any 1960 Topps cards.  I'm not sure that I ever even saw any 1960 Topps.  Now that I have access to these, I love the design and couldn't help but pick up a few.
Curt Flood.
I got a 1959 Curt Flood as one of my first new cards when I restarted collecting in 2017.  Now I have the 1960 as well.   I appreciate Flood for his courageous, and costly, stand for players' labor rights, in addition to his near-2000 hits and 7 Gold Gloves.
Sandy Koufax.
This is now my best card of Sandy Koufax, by a million miles.  I posted a league leaders card I got previously, and that's fine, but this is awesome.  I don't even know what else to say about this one.
Don Drysdale.
Then we have fellow Dodger pitching great Don Drysdale.  I think this is my only good card of Drysdale.  Other than his pitching feats, I always remember Don Drysdale from that one episode of The Brady Bunch.
Robin Roberts.
I post a lot of Robin Roberts cards, since he was Dad's favorite growing up.  This is another good one.
Richie Ashburn.
And where I have Robin Roberts, I usually have Richie Ashburn.  Ashburn had left the Phils at this point, although I think he's still wearing the red pinstripes in this photo.  Roberts wouldn't be far behind, soon to join Baltimore.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Some Philadelphia Athletics

I work in Philadelphia and grew up in the area; I've always been aware of the Philadelphia A's and Connie Mack's place in Philadelphia baseball history.  I've said several times on this blog that I appreciate that the Phillies commemorate the A's history in Philadelphia with their wall of fame being the "Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame."  They don't induct any more Athletics these days, figuring they've got all the ones they wanted already (it's getting close to 70 years since they left), but if you go looking at the stadium, you'll find Connie Mack, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Al Simmons, and more.
1949 Bowman Elmer Valo.
I thought I should add some Philadelphia Athletics to my main binder.  Not long ago I picked up some Kansas City A's from the 1956 Topps set, but I never had any good cards of Philadelphia A's.  One of those 1956 Topps cards was of Elmer Valo, who was inducted onto the Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame in 1990.  This 1949 Bowman card is my first from that set, and I think this must be only my second card from the 1940s, after my 1940 Play Ball Jimmie Foxx.
1951 Bowman Joe Coleman.
Then we have a 1951 Bowman, was my third card from that set when I bought it, I think.  My first two 1951 Bowman were Richie Ashburn and Sam Jethroe.  I have since picked up the Larry Doby I posted the other day, and just a few minutes ago I bought Sherm Lollar from COMC, to make cards four and five from the set.  Coleman was a pitcher and the father of another MLB pitcher Joe Coleman, whose card is in the 1980 Topps set with the Pirates.  The younger Coleman pitched 10 games with the Bucs in their championship season in 1979 but didn't appear in the postseason.  This Joe Coleman is the grandfather of, and the younger Joe Coleman is the father of, Casey Coleman, who has pitched for the Cubs and Royals.
1951 Topps Red Back Elmer Valo.
Then we have my second-ever 1951 Topps; I posted my first, which was also a Red Back, of Ray Boone.  I made this endeavor really to get some Philadelphia A's into my binder, and the selection of particular players was secondary.  There's no good reason that I chose to repeat with Elmer Valo, but I'm happy to have another card from this set.
1952 Bowman Eddie Joost.
Finally we have what is my first card from 1952 Bowman, with Eddie Joost.  Joost was inducted into the Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame in 1995.  Joost was not only a player but also became the player-manager for the 1954 season, when the Mack family's ownership was coming to an end among years of financial troubles.  Joost's 1954 A's finished with a 51-103 record.  The A's only fared slightly better after moving to Kansas City, and it wasn't until 1968 in Oakland that the team really came alive.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, June 22, 2019

A Tour Through the 1979 Topps Set: Ten Cards from 401-500

It's been well more than a year, but I had been in the process of highlighting about 10% of the cards of the 1979 Topps set.  I'll pick up where I left off in March 2018, and put in the next installment now, with 10 cards from 401-500.

Previously in this series:
  1. My Ill-Fated 1979 Topps Project, and My Acquisition of a 1979 Topps Set.
  2. A Tour Through the 1979 Topps Set: Ten Cards from 1-100.
  3. A Tour Through the 1979 Topps Set: Ten Cards from 101-200.
  4. A Tour Through the 1979 Topps Set: Ten Cards from 201-300.
  5. A Tour Through the 1979 Topps Set: Ten Cards from 301-400.
Reggie Smith.
Tim Foli.
Let's kick things off with seven-time All-Star Reggie Smith.  Smith was a member of the 2000-hit club and won a Gold Glove in 1968.  His time with Boston got him in the Red Sox Hall of Fame.  He was close to the end of his career here, but hung on to win the World Series with Los Angeles in 1981.  Tim Foli was traded from the Mets to the Pirates at the beginning of the 1979 season, and really helped the Pirates win the division, the pennant, and the World Series.  Foli had career highs in hits, RBI, and batting average with the Bucs in 1979.
Rusty Staub.
Lance Parrish.
Here we have two Tigers, Rusty Staub and Lance Parrish.  I consider it a bit of a personal running joke how many times Parrish has appeared on this blog; he was brought to the Phillies when I was a kid, to be the new big All-Star catcher after Bob Boone and Ozzie Virgil.  Parrish and the Phillies fans never got along, and he ended up moving to the Angels.  Darren Daulton became the next big All-Star catcher for the Phillies, and was very popular.  I meant to post something about Rusty Staub when he died last year; I acquired a card mainly for that purpose, and will try to post it soon.
Bobby Valentine.
Jim Fregosi.
Here we have two cards of guys I think of as 80s managers.  In the 1987 Topps set, Bobby Valentine was the Rangers manager and Jim Fregosi was the White Sox manager.  Obviously Valentine was still playing at this point, and Fregosi had recently stopped playing.  Fregosi's last card as a player is in the 1978 set, with the Pirates.  The Pirates released Fregosi from his playing contract specifically so that he could manage the Angels.  The 1979 Angels had a lot of talent -- Nolan Ryan, Rod Carew, Don Baylor, Bobby Grich, among others -- and won their first divisional title.
All-time RBI leaders.
All-time stolen base leaders.
I like these All-Time Record Holder cards.  Hack Wilson still holds the record for RBI in a season with 191 in 1930.  The record should be safe this year, as MLB RBI leader Josh Bell is on pace to only have about 150.  Hank Aaron also still holds the career RBI record with 2,297.  Again, this record seems safe for the foreseeable future.  Lou Brock's stolen base records have been famously broken by Rickey Henderson.  Brock remains comfortably in second place for both the season record and the career record.
Shortstop Don Kessinger.
Manager Don Kessinger.
Then we have someone I've never heard of, Don Kessinger, but I pulled out his cards because I noticed he was that rare bird, the player-manager.  Wikipedia tells me that he was the last player-manager in the American League.  Only Pete Rose has done it since.  His last year playing was 1979, and he batted in 56 games; he only ever managed in 1979 as well, compiling a 46-60 record.  He resigned late in the season and was replaced by Tony LaRussa.  Kessinger was a six-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner.

There should be a couple more installments of this occasional series still coming.  Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 21, 2019

A Ralph Branca card

I bought a lot of these Pacific Legends back in the 80s.  I've talked about this before, but I'll mention it again here because it's so emblematic of the 1980s baseball card world.  Everyone, everyone wanted to get in on selling baseball cards back then.  My dad noticed that the gas station near his office had a big card section, so he would take me there sometimes to see what they had.  They carried some more offbeat things that I didn't see other places, like the umpire cards I posted once.  And I bought my packs of Pacific Legends and Swell Baseball Greats there.  The place still exists, but it's an ordinary gas station, meaning that in 2019 they don't sell any baseball cards.
Pacific Legends Ralph Branca.
Since I have a bunch of these Pacific Legends and even some unopened packs, I don't really look to buy many of them anymore.  But I wanted a Ralph Branca card, and there aren't that many options.  There are a few old Bowman and early Topps cards, but I decided to pay much less and go for the Pacific.

I've said before that I have a certain fascination with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and that accounts for part of wanting Branca in my collection.  But also he threw the pitch in the "Shot Heard 'Round the World," in which the Giants capped a remarkable late-season comeback to win the NL pennant over Brooklyn.  (I grew up watching M*A*S*H on TV, and this classic baseball moment made it into the episode "A War for All Seasons.")  It's a shame to find out that this, one of baseball's most celebrated home runs, was rooted in the Giants systematically stealing signs using a telescope and a buzzer.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Larry Doby and Monte Irvin

I got some good news at work recently, and am celebrating by buying a few more nice cards this summer than I might have otherwise.  And the first two of these arrived in the mail on Monday.
1951 Bowman Larry Doby.
I've posted about Larry Doby several times, and I'm very glad to now have this good card of him with the Indians.  I posted another good card I got of Doby recently, but that was after he left Cleveland and was with the White Sox.  It was with Cleveland that Larry Doby became the second black MLB player just months after Jackie Robinson, and it was with Cleveland that Larry Doby and Satchel Paige became the first black MLB players to win a World Series in 1948.  Doby played with the Newark Eagles in the Negro National League from 1942 through 1944 and again in 1946 and part of 1947; between those two stints, he was in the Navy during WWII.
1954 Topps Monte Irvin.
Monte Irvin also played with the Newark Eagles, from 1938 to 1942 and 1945 through 1948.  In the time between those stints Irvin was also in WWII, serving in the Army including in the Battle of the Bulge.  Doby and Irvin and company won the Negro World Series with the Newark Eagles in 1946, beating the Kansas City Monarchs.  Irvin started with the New York Giants in 1949 and stayed with them through 1955, winning the World Series in 1954.  He finished out his career with the Cubs in 1956.   He died relatively recently, in 2016 at age 96.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

1990 Topps Minis #49: Mark Grace

We have another of the 1990 Topps Mini League Leaders today, with #49 Mark Grace.  Grace is the second of five Cubs in the set; as P-Town Tom pointed out on Monday's post of Mike Bielecki, the 1989 Cubs had a good year, winning the NL East.  It would be until 2003 that they won their division again.
#49, Mark Grace.
Mark Grace was in his second season, and was a big deal in the baseball card world.  He was a 1988 Donruss Rated Rookie and made the 1989 Topps All-Star Rookie Team.  He was featured in all sorts of boxed sets and rookie sets at the time.  Grace finished second in the 1988 NL Rookie of the Year voting to Chris Sabo.  Since I stopped watching baseball in 1994, I didn't know what happened to him, but I see now that he went on to be part of the 2001 champion Diamondbacks team. 
Mark Grace card back.
Grace made his way into this league leaders set by finishing 4th in the NL in batting average and 4th in on-base percentage, while also placing seventh in walks.

More Cubbies for the next few installments.  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Two of Willie McCovey

As I catch up on acquisitions over the past year+ that I haven't posted yet, today I present two Willie McCovey cards.
1960 Topps Willie McCovey.
Certainly among the ranks of cards that I never would have dreamed of being able to own in the 80s is a Willie McCovey rookie card.  And enough cannot be said about that Topps All-Star Rookie trophy, which looks to me like a few Monopoly pieces glued together or something.  This card is an epic way to introduce the concept of the Topps All-Star Rookie team as well as introducing Willie McCovey.
1964 Topps Willie McCovey.
I posted a while ago about how I had no 1964 Topps cards, and seeing a Duke Snider on another blogger's post, thought that would be a good one to get.  Then later I thought, maybe I should add a second 1964 card.  And I picked McCovey for that second card.  I have a bunch of great McCovey cards but mostly from the 70s, so I'm glad to have another early card of his.
1964 Willie McCovey card back.
The large blank box on the card back caught my eye when I was scanning the front.  Like I said, I only have one other 1964 card, which is the Duke Snider.  And the Duke Snider, being at the end of his career, has so many lines of stats that there's no room for a trivia question.  You're supposed to scratch the box with a coin to get an answer to the trivia question (Who was the Indians batting leader in 1963?).  Does anyone know if these work?  There's no way that I'm going to scratch up my Willie McCovey card back, but if I did want to, would I at least find out that Vic Davalillo batted .292 for Cleveland in 1963?

Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 17, 2019

1990 Topps Minis #48: Mike Bielecki

We have another of the 1990 Topps Mini League Leaders today, now in Chicago with the Cubs.  Today's leader is pitcher Mike Bielecki.
#48, Mike Bielecki.
Bielecki started out with the Pirates in 1984, and moved to the Cubs in 1988.  He later played with the Braves, Indians, Braves again, Angels, and Braves again.  He put together a career 70-73 record with a 4.18 ERA.
Mike Bielecki card back.
In 1989, Bielecki got some Cy Young votes, tying for third in the NL with 18 wins.  This was clearly his best season.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Four from 1959 Topps

I've been going over my last year+ of acquisitions and figuring out what I never posted.  Today we have four cards from 1959 Topps.  I considered trying to complete the 1959 set but abandoned the idea, for now at least.  After I finish 1972 Topps and 1955 Bowman, I'll see if I want to start another set project.  But I did pick up a few cards to test the waters.
Johnny Podres.
I have a certain fascination with the Brooklyn Dodgers.  This being the 1959 set, it's after the move to Los Angeles, but I'm interested in Podres for his role with Brooklyn as MVP of the 1955 World Series.  Podres was part of the 1959 and 1963 World Series champion Dodgers as well.  He played with them in their 1965 championship season, too, but not in the postseason.
Danny Murtaugh with Frank Thomas and Ted Kluszewski.
On my list of "These guys should be in the Hall of Fame," in addition to Curt Flood and Dick Allen, is Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh.  This card was just before Murtaugh led Clemente, Mazeroski, Groat, and company to upset the Yankees in the 1960 World Series.  He would go on to beat the Orioles in the 1971 World Series as well, and the Orioles were again arguably the better team.  Murtaugh is pictured here with Frank Thomas, who I featured in a recent post of 1955 Bowman cards, and Ted Kluszewski.  This is one of my only cards (and the only one issued during his playing days) of Kluszewski.
Richie Ashburn.
I tend to pick up cards of Richie Ashburn and Robin Roberts in pairs.  I got the 1959 Roberts first and posted it some time ago.  Then there's a little asymmetry, in that I picked up a 1957 Roberts but not the corresponding Ashburn.  But that's balanced on my binder page by the following card, which is also a 1950s Ashburn, although that's not all it is.
Richie Ashburn and Willie Mays.
So, saving the best for last, we have Richie Ashburn and Willie Mays!  Of course in hindsight Mays is the much bigger star and better hitter.  But in 1958, Ashburn led the majors in batting average with .350, and Mays was second with .347.  Coming in third, fourth, and fifth were Stan Musial, Ted Williams, and Hank Aaron.  Cards like this, and the Pirates one above, remind me of the 1980s Fleer Super Star Specials, in which Fleer would come up with just about any excuse to have a couple of popular players on a card together.  Even though these old Topps cards came first by several decades, I experienced the Fleer versions first, as these 1950s cards were unaffordable and inaccessible to me back then.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Some Grover Cleveland Alexander acquisitions

I am going through the cards I've bought but not posted in the past year or so, and there are a bunch.  I showed my 3 Chuck Klein cards recently, and I have the same kinds of Grover Cleveland Alexander cards.  That is, for each of them, I got the 1960 Fleer, the 1961 Fleer, and what I'm calling a "Midwestern oddball."
1960 Fleer Grover Cleveland Alexander.
1960 Fleer Grover Cleveland Alexander card back.
As I said in my Chuck Klein post, the motivation for picking up these two is that when my dad and I used to go to so many Phillies games, there were (at first) just 4 retired numbers in the outfield.  Robin Roberts and Richie Ashburn had their numbers retired, and Grover Cleveland Alexander and Chuck Klein didn't really have numbers to retire, but they had their names (maybe their initials?) represented there.  Alexander was with the Phillies from 1911-1917 and again in 1930, and led the NL in wins and strikeouts five times in those years, and in ERA twice in those years.  Between his stints with the Phillies, he did well with the Cubs and the Cardinals, too.
1961 Fleer Grover Cleveland Alexander.
1961 Fleer Grover Cleveland Alexander card back.
For both the 1960 Fleer and 1961 Fleer, these of Klein and Alexander are the only cards I have from the sets.  These are nice cards, I think; I'll consider getting more.  I would even consider working on the whole sets at some point.
Great Plains Greats Grover Cleveland Alexander.
Great Plains Greats Grover Cleveland Alexander card back.
Then we have the "Midwestern oddball."  For Chuck Klein, I had a card issued by the Indiana Sports Collectors Association.  For Alexander, it's a "Great Plains Greats" card, issued by Sheraton, specifically advertising the Sheraton Inn Southwest in Omaha, Nebraska.  Googling the address, and also Omaha Sheratons, I see that there's another Sheraton in Omaha at a different address, and that the hotel at the listed address closed some time ago.  Nothing stays forever.  There are a number of other Great Plains Greats cards, including such luminaries as Carl Hubbell, Mickey Mantle, Bob Gibson, and Walter Johnson, among others.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 14, 2019

I didn't know they were Pirates

A short post today about four short-time Pirates, who were well-known for their time with other teams.  I didn't know before these cards that any of these players had ever been on the Pirates, and in each case I'm not sure exactly how I found out.  But I now have these cards of these great players with the Pirates, more or less.
1961 Topps Bobby Shantz.
1968 Topps Maury Wills.
 I say that I have them with the Pirates "more or less" because Bobby Shantz here is clearly still in his Yankees uniform in the picture.  But the card says he's a Pirate, so that's enough for me.  I posted about Bobby Shantz before, and how my dad would have been a little kid in the Philly area when he was a star with the Philadelphia A's.  Bobby Shantz spent 1961 with the Bucs after leaving the Yankees, going 6-3 with 2 saves, mainly pitching as a reliever, going 89.1 innings in 43 games.  Maury Wills is of course famous as a Dodger, but spent all of 1967 and 1968 with Pittsburgh.  He kept up his usual ways, batting .302 with 29 steals in 1967 and batting .278 with 52 steals in 1968.  He next made a stop in Montreal before returning to the Dodgers.
1984 Fleer Update Amos Otis.
1985 Topps Traded George Hendrick.
Skipping the 70s, we move on to two 1980s short-time Pirates.  First we have Amos Otis from the 1984 Fleer Update set.  I remember Otis from the talented 1980 Royals team that the Phillies beat in the World Series.  It's too bad that Otis didn't stay with the Royals long enough for them to win it in 1985; his career ended playing 40 games with the Pirates in 1984.  Then we have George Hendrick pictured here on his 1985 Topps Traded card.  I admit, I never noticed George Hendrick back in the day, and only started paying attention to his cards with Night Owl's post around the time I started blogging.  (I didn't pay much attention at the time, but Night Owl did include this card of Hendrick.)  So I've picked up some nice cards of Hendrick here and there, including this, to commemorate the 69 games he played with the Bucs in 1985.

Thanks for reading!  Please feel free to use the comments to suggest any other great players who spent short stints with the Pirates, and I'll consider picking up cards of them in black and gold if I don't have any yet.

Thursday, June 13, 2019


Now we have a brief tribute to that greatest of the mascots, the Phillie Phanatic.  I consider myself fortunate to have grown up with our local stadium being his home.  Over the years I've seen many mascots, and I always think how much better the Phanatic is.
Two 1987 Acme supermarket Phanatic figurines.
I remember getting some of these little Phanatic figures when I was a kid.  I seem to remember that they came from Acme.  If you're not from the Philly area, you might think of Acme as only the place that the coyote got all the gadgets he tries to use against the road runner.  But around Philly, Acme is one of the big supermarket chains.  (Back in the day it was the leading grocer in the area, but it's been surpassed by ShopRite at this point.)  This blog post confirms that these did come from Acme, and puts the date at 1987.  I would have been 11 years old in the summer of 1987, and I remember getting a couple of these at the time.  These that I have pictured here haven't been with me since childhood, though; I don't have my original ones, so I ordered a couple cheap off eBay a little while ago.  I remember that the one in the tux was called "Mr. Formal," and the advertisement pictured at the other blog's link shows that that's right.  
Dale Murphy and the Phanatic on a Star card.
So I thought I'd get a card of the Phanatic, too, and I picked this Dale Murphy Star card from 1986.  I vaguely knew about the existence of Star in the 80s, although I never got any of their cards.  I considered buying some of the old Star sets now (Fritsch has some sets in stock, for example), but decided that it doesn't feel like that fits with my collection since I didn't have them back then.  But if I don't want a whole set, I can still get a single card.  So this here puts the Phanatic into my main binder, and represents Star in my collection.  I also have fond memories of Dale Murphy's time with the Phillies, and you could say that this card foreshadows that.  So it's all good as a part of my collection now.

That's it for now; as always, thanks for reading!