Wednesday, October 1, 2014

On the fringe

There are a few ways to my collecting heart.

1970s cards. Minis. Dodgers, of course. Combine all three and you've made a friend for life.

But this isn't the only path to gratitude.

Take a recent package that I received from Alan, who dropped me an appreciated note about how he has returned to collecting and enjoys my blog. He had some cards for me that didn't fit his collection but thought it might fit mine.

The cards couldn't have been more on the fringe of what I collect. The Hyun-Jin Ryu card that you see here is one of only three cards received that actually features a Dodgers logo. A lot of the cards are the first of their kind in my collection. Yet, every single one of them are connected to the Dodgers in some way.

Like I said, there isn't just one path.


You should be. This is one of the most interesting card packages I've received in a long time.

Get ready to learn something.

I'll start with the only other Dodger you'll see in this post. It's a Bell Brand potato chips card from 1960.

The other Bell Brand cards I have are in disturbingly pristine shape, especially considering that they came out of a greasy potato chip bag. This card is more what I would expect, but also in great shape ... considering that it came out of a greasy potato chip bag.

It's also one of the earliest cards of Wills as a Dodger that you can find. Wills famously did not have a contract with Topps. He did appear in the 1963 Fleer set, as well as Post sets, but that was two or three years after this card.

Wow! YELLOW! You know you're in the '70s now!

These are two cards from the 1970 Washington Senators Traffic Safety set, an 11-card set that is one of the first police sets ever made (by the way, I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, I have the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards sitting on my lap).

Both players, of course, are straight from the great 1960s Dodgers teams but are slumming here with the Senators.

Also, you can apparently find these cards in pink.

Like every good police set, the back of the card gives you a little lecture.

It's always dangerous sending me a graded card, but this one might actually survive intact.

As you can see, it's not only a Kirk Gibson rookie card, but it's from the Coca-Cola set, which automatically adds 5,000 more awesome points to the card. Also, since the Diamondbacks dumped Gibson recently, I can start liking him again. Yay!!!!!

But Alan didn't stop with just one Coca-Cola rookie Gibson. This is a sealed Gibson, which can only mean one thing ...

It's a Tigers Coca-Cola 3-card pack!!!!!!!!!

You have no idea how much I wished these would find my neighborhood. Stupid Topps and Coca-Cola manufactured sets for half the major league teams in 1981, but somehow none of them -- not even the New York teams -- ever found their way near me. I saw these advertised in baseball card catalogs constantly and how I wished I could get my hands on them.

So, I am willing to trade either the graded Gibson Coca-Cola card or the 3-card Tiger Coca-Cola pack to a Tigers fan, but I'm going to have to get something extra-good in exchange because the 14-year-old in me really REALLY wants to open that pack.

This is tremendous.

This is a 1960 Darigold Farms Spokane Indians card of Willie Davis, which Alan says is the first time Davis appeared in a card set.

These cards go for a fancy penny. They came glued to milk cartons and you had to remove the tab at the top, which often led to the top border being trimmed, like in this case here.

It's still a great-looking card. And now that I know that the cards came in backgrounds of yellow, green or red, I have to repress the urge to collect the whole expensive thing.

Pretty freaking cool.

Everyone that sends me cards has to be a smart guy.

Oh well, as a Dodger fan you have to take the whole history, not just some of it. I think this is from the1960 Nu-Card Hi-Lites set. My Standard Catalog says that the backs contain a quiz question, but this particular back is blank. I know the set features cards with black type and red-and-black type. Perhaps the black-type ones are blank?

I'm just guessing. Like I said, these cards on the fringe of my collection and my knowledge.

That doesn't mean I don't think they're thoroughly cool.

There's always more than one way.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

10 from the glory years

I'm writing this late because I fell into the trigonometry trap left by my daughter. Never again.

So, as I write, the Royals are leading the A's 3-2, but that could all change and everything that I write from here on out may be obsolete in an hour or two.

Oh, well. How often do I get to write about the Royals?

The best thing about Kansas City playing a playoff game is it evokes memories of what I call my first collecting era. That era runs basically from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s. Or, in other words, the same period of time that the Royals were winning playoff games and playing in the World Series.

My glory card years were their glory years period.

So I wanted to show some Royals card favorites from that period -- I kept it to 1976-85 since that is when K.C. began and ended its postseason run -- in recognition of this feat from what has always been one of my favorite teams.

The trouble is, I've actually shown a lot of Royals cards from this time period already. And I don't want show them again. So, you won't see any Hal McRae cards here. You won't see Cesar Geronimo's magnificent mustache or the Dan Quisenberry card that makes me think of my ex-girlfriend. You won't see 1978 All-Star George Brett or 1980 All-Star Frank White.

But, don't worry, I got you covered. I have a lot of cards.

So, here are 10 from those glory years. That I haven't shown before. I think:

John Wathan, 1982 Donruss

Now that I've scanned the card, I can see lots of interesting activity in the stands. But, by far, the best part is how awed the Royals player -- Willie Wilson, maybe? -- appears to be by Wathan. Wilson is a gargantuan beast as Wilson cowers in fear.

Joe Zdeb, 1978 Topps

Before Sports Illustrated unleashed Sid Finch and Topps issued the Kazuo Uzuki card, my brother and I thought this was the first prank of the non-existent ballplayer. Zdeb? Zzzzz-DEB? What is that name? That's not real! It turned out the "d" is silent and we spat all over each other for nothing. And we were relieved when the 1979 Topps set came out and Zdeb was there again. I've always liked real people on my baseball cards.

Dan Quisenberry, 1982 Fleer

A spectacular card and possibly the first ever to feature mass calisthenics. By now we knew that Fleer was on to something strange and wonderful.

Freddie Patek, 1979 Topps

I was blissfully unaware of the height of ballplayers when I was a kid. Tall guys looked short on baseball cards. Short guys looked tall. But I knew Freddie Patek's height. You don't play baseball at 5-foot-4 and keep it quiet. And if you're 5-foot-4, then the blue glove you're wearing definitely looks like a toy.

Clint Hurdle, 1982 Topps

MORE exercise? 1982 happened to be the same year that Jane Fonda released her first workout video. I smell cross-promotion. This card also somewhat answered my question of what Dorothy Hamill would look like in eye black.

George Brett, 1977 Topps

What this card meant to my sixth-grade class I can't even describe to you. Brett was a god at this time. A young, virile sensation. It pains me now to see some younger folks laugh at his outspoken behavior -- particular the famed pooping incident. I wish I had that kind of presence and ability to be able to broadcast my bathroom mistakes to the world without any hesitation. Let's see Mike Trout do that.

Lynn Jones, 1986 Topps

This is what would happen if your chemistry teacher somehow got lost in a batting cage.

Dennis Leonard, 1980 Topps

I have wondered what Leonard is doing on this card ever since 1980. He has to be mocking someone, right? Please say he is. A fan probably. An umpire would be most awesome. Or maybe his coach. Leonard is the first pitcher I ever saw win a game in person. He beat the Yankees. So he automatically rules. I say he's mocking the Yankees. Fat asses.

Pat Sheridan, 1984 Topps

"Revenge Of The Nerds" also came out in 1984.

U.L. Washington, 1984 Donruss

There are a lot of memorable characters in the Royals' relatively brief history. It's one of the reasons why they've always been one of the teams I've rooted for when I'm not rooting for the Dodgers. But U.L. Washington might be the best character. The fact that he always displayed a toothpick was endlessly fascinating to us, no matter how often it was mentioned. And this is one of the few cards where you can see that toothpick in his mouth WHILE HE'S PLAYING.

Those are just a few of my favorites from that era. Trust me, there are many others.

But I probably should watch the rest of this game instead of trying to peak views of it in between words.

The Royals are now trailing 5-3.

Stupid trigonometry.

(UPDATE: Royals win in 12!)

Monday, September 29, 2014

TCMA oddballs are the bestest oddballs

I received a care package from Commish Bob at The Five Tool Collector a couple of weeks ago. I think he's giddy about the O's being in the playoffs because with the exception of Andre here and a couple of others, the package was filled with oddballs!

Here, take a look at this:

It's a Korean night card! Woooooo!

Please don't make me tell you more than that the card is from 2010. I have no time for research today.

Also included was the 1989 Dodgers Police set, which is one of the team's police sets for which I didn't have a representative.

Now I've got the whole thing!

This set, of course, is important because it came out the year after the Dodgers won the World Series. So most of your favorite 1988 Dodgers are included.

But since it came out in 1989, it tried to reflect the '89 Dodgers as much as possible. That's why there's a Willie Randolph card but not a Steve Sax card, because the '88 L.A. second baseman Sax departed.

This set fills a hole in my collection, but it wasn't the best part of the package.

This was the best part of the package.

Oh, I know you've seen this Jackie photo at least on 100 other cards. But have you seen it this big?

That gives you the idea of the size.

They're postcard-sized cards, maybe even a little larger, and they're from TCMA, issued in 1982.

I had no idea that TCMA produced cards this large. I guess I was too focused on items that were 2 1/2-by-3 1/2 when I was a kid and TCMA was doing its thing.

Here are the others:

The ones with the names at the bottom are actually from 1984. I don't like those quite as much as the '82s, but it's still nice to have my '50s and '60s Dodgers heroes in almost life-size form.

Each of the backs also contain this enjoyable little quirk:

Floating heads!

Plus you can't beat "he was forced to restrain the tempests of his fiery competitive spirit" for writing on the back of a baseball card.

TCMA is right up there in terms of the size of giddiness I feel when acquiring baseball cards. But do these cards beat Kellogg's in terms of oddballs?

Probably not. But that's only because I wasn't pulling TCMA cards out of cereal boxes. TCMA's were always stationed so far away that I had to view them in a black-and-white catalog and wait six weeks for them to arrive.

But I'm telling you, if those TCMA cards were in cereal boxes ... we'd be talking an entire blog devoted to TCMA.

Which reminds me, I really need to make my own cereal and then put my own baseball cards in the boxes.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Awesome night card, pt. 223: the '80s are back

With just a few glaring exceptions, I like the teams headed to the playoffs this year. Taken collectively, they offer the excuse for nostalgia. In fact, when I see the playoff schedule, the Human League starts playing in my head.

That's because this year's playoff grouping definitely features an '80s flavor.

There is still one playoff spot undecided -- the A's or Mariners will determine that tonight or tomorrow (or Monday) -- but I can still see a team from every World Series of the 1980s, except 1986, in this year's playoffs.

Here is the breakdown:

1980: Royals
1981: Dodgers
1982: Cardinals
1983: Orioles
1984: Tigers
1985: Royals and Cardinals
1987: Cardinals
1988: Dodgers (and maybe A's)
1989: Giants (and maybe A's)

That's nine years out of 10, which is a better representation than any recent decade. The 1970s features six years (eight if the A's get in). The 1990s features none (one if the A's get in). The 2000s features three.

This makes me happy, partly because I hated the Series matchups in the '90s, but mostly because the '80s was full of good times and the unexpected, both on the field and off, in my life and out.

I think this is why the Royals are drawing so much applause for making the playoffs for the first time since 1985. People of a certain age (mine) and even younger remember the days when the Royals made the postseason virtually every year. We grew up during that time. The Royals were -- are -- supposed to be in the playoffs. During the late '80s, it felt awfully empty without K.C., and, apparently, when you don't let K.C. in the playoffs for a few years, then the '90s happen and it's the Yankees and Braves stomping their boot all over everything.

So, yeah, good for the Royals. And all those other teams who were good in the '80s making it back again (mostly the Dodgers and Orioles).

I'm looking forward to seeing some new blood in the World Series.

Which actually is old blood.


Night card binder candidate: 1980 World Series, Phillies beat Royals in 6, 1981 Topps, #403
Does it make the binder?: Yes!

Friday, September 26, 2014

See ya, Paulie

If you don't live in New York State perhaps you missed it. Derek Jeter hit a game-winning single in his ... oh, who am I kidding, you all get ESPN, right?

Suffice it to say, I think people overreacted juuuuust a little last night. But I don't have anything negative to say about Jeter. Hall of Fame player. Charmed career. Too bad he had to play for THAT team.

Unlike billions of collectors, Jeter doesn't fit into my collecting priorities much. In fact, the card above is the only way he gets in any of the Dodgers binders. All other necessary Jeters are related to sets I've collected.

But that other guy who is retiring in a matter of days, that first baseman for the White Sox  -- the one who is a little more of my kind of player -- can be found in my binders everywhere.

It's Paul Konerko Day in Chicago on Saturday. I hear they're going to run some sort of video, and then I hope Konerko goes out and blows up a light tower like Roy Hobbs and no one can ever stop talking about it.

If my records are correct, I have 104 cards of Konerko. Somewhere between 65-75 of them are of him with the Dodgers, the team that drafted him. He played only 55 games for the Dodgers in his career and I have a card for every game, plus probably the 26 games he played for the Reds after he was traded to them by L.A.

A big part of why I have an attachment to Konerko is because of what could have been. If the Dodgers never traded him, they probably could have enjoyed stability at first base for years. No signing of an over-the-hill Fred McGriff. No position experiments with Shawn Green and Nomar Garciaparra. No desperate expectations with Hee-Seop Choi. No waiting seven years for James Loney to realize his potential. No giving prospect-lovers heartburn with an epic trade with Boston. So much effort that could have been conserved.

What gives me consolation is, yes, all of those Konerko Dodgers cards. They are proof that the 400-homer-hitting slugger began with my team. And to salute him on his final weekend now, here are the Dodgers cards of his that I could scrape up:

A lot of cards with the word "ROOKIE" plastered all over them.

I didn't track down all of the Dodger Konerkos I have, mostly in the interest of time and sanity, since I have to put all these back in the exact order in which I removed them.

But you do get the idea that I have a decent reminder of Konerko's days as a Dodger.

And to you White Sox fans who look at these and say "THAT isn't Konerko," you know what?

You're probably right.

There he is.

Blasting the light tower in his final at-bat to win the game.

Do it for me.

See ya, Paulie.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A couple of firsts

I've collected cards for a long time now. But because I go at my own pace and don't attempt to grab everything from the latest and greatest, I've missed out on some things that are almost regular occurrences for other collectors.

For example:

This is my first rip card. I didn't pull it -- I don't really buy boxes anymore. It was sent to me by Jeroen, The Dutch Card Guy.

Since it's my first rip card, you must now be submitted to my very outdated and antiquated views on rip cards. And those are: I can appreciate the intrigue created by a card like this, but I have a fundamental problem with voluntarily ripping up a baseball card.

Just putting aside the philosophical argument of turning a card into a wrapper, I don't know if I like the idea of ripping up my own baseball cards ... in my own home ... where there are people who don't understand the whole accumulation of baseball cards thing ... and giving them IDEAS. One simple tear in front of the wrong person, and I might come home to a pile of cardboard carnage.

But these are the gimmick times in which we are living.

So, anyway, this is one of those double rip cards from 2014 Allen and Ginter. Jereon pulled it, and despite my desperate pleas for him to keep it intact (not really), he ripped it and was instantly punished with a Yankee. That Yankee card was rip card, too, which yielded a mini 1-of-1 Adrian Beltre.

None of those would have made me pleased that I had ripped up a double-sided Dodgers card. I think Jereon realized that, which is why he sent me the wrapper ... er, card. Here is the "ripped" side:

Your National League RBI leader is all torn up. That isn't right.

So, that was my first "first" from The Dutch Card Guy's sendings.

Here is my second "first":

I have other stamped "buyback" cards, but this is the first buyback from the 1975 Topps set in my collection.

When Jereon featured this on his blog, I instantly had an idea. My quest to complete the '75 Topps mini set is winding down (final cards growing mold in my cart because of the whole stupid no money thing), and I've already completed the regular '75 set, but what else is there '75ish?

Some have brought up the OPC '75s or graded '75s, but neither of those fit in with the spirit of the first set I ever collected. There are Kellogg's 75s, which may be a possibility someday. But then I thought, how cool to have some buyback '75s?

Sure, buybacks are pretty annoying in a lot of ways. I don't want gold stamps on my 1956 Topps. But I've already completed the '75 set. I think I'd like to see how many '75 buybacks I can accumulate. At least the Dodgers, anyway. I ESPECIALLY want a '75 Ron Cey buyback card. So if anyone knows how I can work that into my collection, let me know.

The rest of the cards that Jereon sent aren't as unique to my collection, but that's not stopping me from accumulating!

Here's a Gypsy Queen mini Gonzalez from last year. It is either the base mini or the variation mini. Because this is the GQ mini that I have of Gonzalez from last year:

I suppose I should have determined which one was which before I wrote this post. I'm a bad, bad blogger.

T206 doesn't look right with modern players. The Russell Martin card is your average Piedmont back variation. The Loney card is the Caramel variation. But I hope everyone has moved beyond variation backs. In fact, forget I said anything.

I have this particular mini already. Since there are just 199 of them, the thought of collecting them all crossed my mind. But I won't do that. Instead, I'll be happy to trade it to a Dodger collector for any Dodger mini or Allen & Ginter frankenset mini that I need.

Back to biggie cards. It's a goldie of yesterday's birthday boy who hit a home run on his birthday. Do you know how difficult that is to do? I've done the same, but that was against some 12 year olds and we were using a tennis ball and launching it over the garage 150 feet away.

I'm hoping by the time I get home from work, Kemp will have helped the Dodgers clinch the National League West for the 13th time.

Thanks, Jereon for some new kinds of cards in my collection. I promise I won't rip any of them up.

EDIT: 2:22 a.m.: Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!