Monday, June 29, 2009

Jeff Niemann

Lost in the write-up of tonight's Rays/Jays tilt is Jeff Niemann's utter dominance of a really good Jays squad. On the MLB Network' pregame show everyone pretty much agreed Halladay would do all the dominating, and I'm not sure they even mentioned Niemann's name. 

And let's be honest: Niemann, along with Jason Hammel, came into the season out of minor-league options and was competing for the fifth spot in the rotation. This spot, as we all know, was merely being kept warm for David Price, so most observers were not taking Niemann's starting gig too seriously. Niemann is proving them wrong and, with the typical bumps along the way, has claimed his spot on the Big Club's staff.

I'm also a fan of Sonnanstine (whom the Rays sent down) but it's also nice to see former Durham Bull Niemann stay in the rotation and get better with every start. Congrats, Jeff, and keep up the great work!

As an aside, the compa and I attended a Rays/O's double header last year in Baltimore and ran into Jeff's dad at the Babe Ruth museum before the games. He asked about the Durham jersey I was wearing and we talked baseball for a few minutes before parting ways. Very nice guy and a very proud father.

And the winner of the Cy giveaway is...

after three randomizations, Dan, from Saints of the Cheap Seats! Thanks to everyone for signing up and participating. 

Dan, Cy is yours for the next month! Enjoy. Keep a look out on Dan's site a month from now for the next installment of the Great Cy Seymour give away!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Why so Blue? Cards from GCRL

Today I was chatting with the dishwasher repairman (very cool guy) when my wife comes in with a package. I see it's from GCRL, but obviously have to wait. And wait some more as we go get plants for the garden. 5 hours later this is one of the awesome cards in the package, which included several '76 and '73 needs, Crawford, and a 1977 Blue.

Vida Blue is one of the more under appreciated pitchers from the early '70s. His lifetime stats compare favorably with the HOFer Catfish Hunter, though I'm not sure whether that says more about how good Blue was or how dubious Catfish's election was. Maybe a little of both. 

His finest year was 1971, when he won both the Cy Young and the MVP, finishing 24-8 with 24 complete games, a 1.82 ERA, and a 0.95 WHIP. Those stats are insane for anyone in any era.

On a personal level, he's also one of the guys my dad followed when I was growing up. Vintage was so tough to get in my region when I was a kid, and when I was 10 I once let a guy pay me for 3 solid days worth of yard work in 1971 Topps. I used the opportunity to pick up a very poor condition 1971 Vida Blue (among other cards). My parents were furious (justifiably so, I guess) and now that I'm older I can really appreciate how shrewd that cat was: going by high book value he let me pick out $100 worth of poor, poor condition cards from his doubles (excluding "stars" like Reggie Jackson and Nolan Ryan) that were worth significantly less than $100 then and now. 

Anyway, I couldn't have been more excited to take the Blue home and show it to my dad (also scored the Blyleven RC---$50 BV!!!). Which leads me to another story: growing up I lived pretty far away Atlanta, but we managed to get to the Atl every other summer or so for a game. In '86 the Giants were in town, and my dad walked me down near the left field foul line to try for any autos. Sure enough, I got Vida Blue to sign a brand new baseball from the Braves clubhouse store. It's one of the best memories I have of being a kid, if only because I vaguely remember my dad being in absolute awe of the man putting his name on the ball. I mean, it's one thing for your parents to have "heroes" and to talk about them, but seeing one's parents standing in front of those same heroes produces a strange kind of vertigo, almost like you get a glimpse of your parent as a child.

Years ago I retraced the faded signature on the ball, (how didn't UD see that coming with the SweetSpot autos? have they ever seen a signature on a baseball fade?) but the last time I was home I noticed it was once again a shadow of itself. Getting cards like this 1972 Vida Blue is even better, because it allows you to tracing the memory itself.

Many thanks GCRL! 

And don't forget the Cy giveaway! Only 48 hours left.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Help! This card gave me nightmares last night...

I wasn't a big fan of Donnie Baseball as a kid, and I'm no fan of the Yankis as an adult, but I've grown into a begrudging respect of one of the best hitters of my youth. 

I really have wildly mixed feeling about the card below. 

Pros: great horizontal design, he's arguing with an ump over a call (how often do we get that?) over a play that already happened (how often is the past the subject of a shot?), fuzzy fans in the stands always get bonus points, etc.

Cons: most awkward positioning on any baseball card I've ever seen, most unflattering position I have ever seen, mullets are not for guys not named "Zane Smith," ugh.

So, what do you folks think? Bad card, good card, or GREAT card? I think it has an odd, perhaps unique mixture of all three qualities.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

As Promised: Late '80's Rummage Sale Insanity

See, I wasn't kidding. Here are the first nine Greenwells. 
The back is also full of Greenwells and there are yet more rolling around elsewhere.
This is but a single sheet from a stack about 8 inches high, plus a shoebox holding about 1000 more cards (mostly football, sadly). I don't need these but couldn't resist because I got the whole thing for $7!!!

I cannot, for the life of me, put these things into a coherent narrative of who those person was or why/what they collected, and anyone wanting to offer something up should feel free. There are the 35+ Greg Vaugn RCs, the beautiful:

Old HOFers:

HOFers as young prospects:

Banned players:

Warnings to baseball card prospectors:
Surprisingly great cards:

And one perplexingly bad one:

And these are scant selections from a MASSIVE stack. 

Trading Post

First, don't forget the Great Cy Seymour T206 giveaway.

Second, today I scored a massive who's who of late-80's  prospects and stars at a rummage sale. 35 Greg Vaughn RC's! Twenty 1987 Topps laminate Mike Greenwells! If anyone needs anything, I'll see if it's there.

But this post is about the very cool cards I recently received.

First up, 1973 Topps set needs from the Night Owl. I want to finish posting about the '76 set before I get into the magnificence that is the '73, but I thought I'd throw out these highlights from what Night Owl sent.

#116 Yankees Field Leaders featuring Ralph Houk, Jim Hegan, Elston Howard, Dick Howser, and Jim Turner. I love the coaches cards from this set, and it gives a chance to trace managing lineages over the years. Dick Howser passed away way too soon, and his thirty-six year old self here looks like he could be Ralph Houk's kid.

And then #510 Amos Otis. The photo is everything I love about the standard cards in this set, fuzzy, dramatic, awesome, so I'll let it stand alone.

Saints of the Cheap Seats sent over some really great Crawford cards. They are all smooth (especially the Heritage Jersey!) but I'll only throw out a few.

The Goudeys! My favorite thing about these is that, for Neo-vintage, they're not trying too hard (hello Topps 2009 Heritage). I mean, I'm not aware of any vintage Goudey with funky art deco type things going on in the background. It's Goudey, but it's moving forward. Nice! (and one is the red ink parallel)

Then we have the UD Masterpieces Card. I've never seen one of these up close. NOW I see what the big deal was about.

And last, a card that is definitely one of my favorite all-time Crawfords. I like the Turkey Red cards but let's face it, they are real repetitive. This card, however, is a checklist, and it is stunning. Are there any other action shots in TR? Man, if they are all like this they are must haves.

Thanks again gents!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Vintage Twinsfest autos

You'll find the Cy contest here.

So, the wife and I were so busy running around and enjoying ourselves at Twins autograph-stock we overshot the mark to get in the Harmon Killebrew line. We got there a full HOUR before he was scheduled to sign, but Twins fans are as serious about their Killebrew as they are about their Mauers and Morneaus. Harmon is also a big talker who likes to speak with everyone, which significantly affects his autos per minute.

No worries, though. After weighing our options for about 45 minutes we bolted for another line.

First up, Dick Stigman, a  1961 Topps Rookie award winner as voted on by the youth of America. He was also an All-Star his first year in the bigs, as voted on by whoever used to decide such things before the intertoobs and "vote early/vote up to 20x." What's that? Dick Stigman signed with a BIC?! Dick Stigman is so old school he laughs at your fancy markers and mint 10s. Bar the door, Katy, Stigman will show you how they rolled back in the day. (And yes, I did have a heart attack when he did this, but this obviously wasn't Dick's first rodeo)

Sitting next to Stigman, Julio Becquer. Here's an awesome article on Becquer (found on Baseball reference). We forget that players are also people as caught up in events as we are, as powerless as we are over the events that shape their lives. In 1961, the year after this card was produced, Becquer and other Cuban ballplayers saw their lives radically changed due to Cold War politics.

His might be my favorite auto from the day. He's got this fantastic, mobius strip like signature that winds its way across the card. I was in utter awe as he worked on it. Then he scratched his number in the bottom right corner and I guess he sensed I was puzzled because he said, "You know, so you don't have to turn that card over for the number." (!)

And finally, the man, Tony Oliva. This is also an awesome card, but what's more important was the signing. Oliva is a smooth, smooth guy who was enjoying himself, relaxing in the June heat and eating a bag of mini-donuts. I hand him the card and he turns to my wife, standing clear of the line off to his left, and says, "Would you like the last donut?" Wife: "I'm fine." Tony O: "C'mon, it's got your name on it..."

That pretty much did it for my compa. Thank God he's got me by a few years, because my spouse now has a huge crush on Tony Oliva. We talked about the donut episode the whole way home. Very, very cool.

And don't forget the Great Cy Seymour T206 Give Away...

Go here, read rules, etc. And I can add: AS READ ABOUT ON CARDBOARD JUNKIE (awesome, thanks for the shout out, dayf!)

And Cy never used steroids, so let's not forget that he won't be a bad influence on the kids. (Unless you dig up something unseemly about Cy, in which case I claim no responsibility)

Joe on the Twins not named Mauer and a Bull

So, what happened was, at first I was in the Joe Mauer line. As in I arrived at 8 AM to get in the Joe Mauer line (read gcrl's description, it's accurate). The compa and I were supposed to meet up later that afternoon to hang out and then go on back home while I was at the auto thingy.

Only she called round about 11 to say she was on her way over to hang out. Remember, this is our anniversary trip. She not a Joe Mauer fan, but she's not not a fan either. But standing in line to only get his auto would not have been her preferred activity.

She digs closers, though, so I relinquished my place in the Mauer line and got in the Joe Nathan line. He'd shut the door on the 'stros the night before (with Delmon's help, thank you!) and both of us would be stoked to see him up close. 

A cool story from the line: this older woman ushering the event chatted us up (people up here are REAL chatty like that) and asked if we had something for the other two guys (Luis Ayala and Sean Henn) to sign. I had purchased a hat the night before specifically for guys whose cards I lacked to sign, so I showed her the hat. "That's good, I always feel so bad when people get one person's signature and walk right past the others." And I guess there was a lot of that, which is hard to grasp. On the one hand, paying $85 for a box of Heritage with only a Luis Ayala auto: very, very bad. Getting a Luis Ayala auto in person: way, way cool under any circumstances. 

Anyway, she dug the Bowman Heritage Nathan I had for him to sign. Joe holding up a ball, smiling, it is its own thing, as they say. And Joe laid a great signature on it.

Finally, the first guy in the Kevin Slowey/Mike Redmond line was another former Durham Bulls, Jason Pridie. Embarrassingly enough, I had NO Jason Pridies until the Captain over at Waxaholic included one, among other Rays, with the Gaston he sent. See, one of Captain Canuck's powers is ESPN. I told Jason how stoked I was to see him up in the bigs, and congrats, and got him to sign the card. The scab doesn't do it justice (they seldom do) but there's one more thing about the card to share. 

I'm guessing Pridie and the Bowman Chrome have met before. Before signing he took his thumb and ran it over the spot he was going to sign a few times before he actually signed. Has anyone seen anyone else do this, and is that hoe players have to sign the Chromes? If nothing else I thought it was interesting that a) players would pass that kind of knowledge around and b) that Pridie cared enough to actually do it. Cool, cool guy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

T206 Cy Seymour Giveaway Updates

Don't forget to read the rules and leave a comment here if you want to enter the contest.

Thought folks might want to know a little bit more about the stakes here, seeing as how Cy was a great player in his day. Cy began his career as a fireballing stirkeout pitcher capable of otherworldly bouts of wildness. As in, in 1898 he lead the league in walked batsmen with 213. That is not a typo, I wrote two hundred and thirteen. In baseball history, the only player with more combined wins and hits is George Herman Ruth, whoever that is. Cy was a .303 lifetime hitter, but only OPSed .752. 

There's also a great biographical write up from the SABR people here.

Enjoy, good luck, and remember:

Twins Catchers not named Mauer

First up, don't forget to enter the Cy Seymour sees the world contest for a T206 card, linked here. He's an old man and needs to get out. He doesn't drink too much but is a big talker.

So, here at CCC we are way too alt to do something like wait in line for a year and a half to get an auto of Minnesota's favorite son. Especially not when guys like Redmond and Morales are signing.

Mike Redmond is like a Major League Crash Davis, only without the power. He 's a Gonzaga guy and, when you look at the stats, a decent of a hitting catcher. Lifetime OBP of .346. He's never had the chance to be the everyday guy despite his solid stats, and looked the part of the grizzled vet at the signing: 3-day beard, demeanor of an old sailor. In a lot of ways the prototypical ballplayer. I really like how he signed his number below his name if only because that seems like a real yeoman thing to do, identify yourself with your number, like you might not know who he is, but you've probably seen #55 somewhere and now you'll make the connection 

Finally, Jose Morales, a third rounder for the Twins in 2001. He's 26 (the wrong side of 25 for a prospect) and behind Joe Mauer, so you wonder if he's playing to unseat Redmond, going for a positoin change, or to be traded. His expression in this card is awesome: tearing off after a ball out in front of the plate, mask caught in mid-air, ump rocking forward a bit behind him (why do they airbrush out the umps in other cards again?). Very cool. I was surprised this card was so signable, or maybe Jose simply did a great job with it, just going for it, over the foil name, over the "Rookie Card" logo, everything, throwing himself out there, damn the consequences.

More autos coming, and don't forget:

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Great T206 Cy Seymour Giveaway

I am working on posting the autos, but in the interim a quick note.

Spread the word, tell all your peeps. Carl Crawford Cards is going to give away the card below, a 1909-11 T206 Cy Seymour. Polar Bear back.

Why? Because old school vintage is rad, and I get the feeling a lot of folks have never held, felt, smelled one of these up close. To spread the love, Cy wants to see the world.

What's the catch? There are a few.
1) You have to have a card blog (why in a second)
2) You have to be a follower of CCC.
3) The winner can keep the card for up to a month, but after a month must sponsor a contest on his/her blog, the prize of which is the T206 Cy, and send Cy on to meet someone else. The winner of that contest must then send Cy on after another month, and so on. This way Cy meets lots of folks, and lots of folks meet Cy.

To enter: be a follower of the blog and post a comment below saying you are in! 

Next Monday night I will run three randomizations of the list, whomever comes up #1 in the third randomization wins. Good luck!

Crawford Cards Anniversary Autofest

That's right, I asked Kevin Slowey to sign the card "Happy Anniversary" and he did just that. Kevin Slowey, the winner of the anniversary game the night before, 6/19. Very, very cool guy, the request gave him a good chuckle. I'm definitely a Slowey fan from here on out.

So, there are too many cards for one post, and the story is long, so I'll break this one up. 

I'm leading with Slowey because he was the winning pitcher in the game my companiera and I went to Friday night. He had a solid line: 6 innings, 3 hits, 1 earned run, 6 Ks, 4 walks. Hopefully the walks will come down and he can go deeper into games, but for a young guy you can't get much better.

A major highlight was Delmon Young's performance. He went 2/4 with a R, 2 RBI, and finally started showing a little of the power the Twins were hoping for when they got him from Tampa. 

The best part, though, was a spectacular HR he robbed from Lance Berkman that helped preserve Slowey's win. With Nathan on the mound in the 9th Berkman hit a laser over the left/centerfield wall that both Delmon and Carlos Gomez had a bead on. Both went up for it, and they had a little collision, but Delmon was able to maintain his concentration and come down with the ball. The Metrodome doesn't allow fans to sit in the first row of OF seats, and that definitely made a difference. (Delmon, they robbed you on Baseball Tonight and Sports Center, reminding me why I only occasionally tune into the WWL)

And finally, as you can see, Delmon personalized the card "To Melissa." My wife and I had watched him play for the Durham Bulls over a couple of years, and we were really stoked to see him in the Majors and see him do well. In the auto line she said "Get him to sign it to me," and he did. Very, very cool.

More autos later, including smooth vintage!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Who in their right mind bids on these auctions?

First, happy Father's Day to my dad and all the other dads out there. 

Second, I had a great anniversary at the Twins game and auto party, blogpost and cool scans will follow tomorrow.

Finally, check out this guy's auctions, they are Father's Day related (kinda):

As kids we all dreamed of going up into granddad's attic and hitting the mother load of t206, '52 Mantles, and other assorted goodies. This guy says he actually did it, and is posting the cards on ebay with that story. 

For all I know the story is legit, and his granddad had a whopper of a collection. Including April auctions this guy had Goudey Gherigs, Goudey Babes, the cream of the '49 Bowman set, everything. 

To take a stab, I'm no expert but the backs on the Bowmans scream repro, beginning with the mono-colored back and the font. Here's a real '49 Bowman Robinson's back. The back of this card is all black ink and you can barely make out the special offer mail-order ring. With 18 hours to go bidding is up to almost $57. Maybe the rest of you can ferret out what's wrong with the others. 

Technically the seller is not doing anything wrong, especially since the cards are actually listed as REPRINTS and the guy claims he knows nothing about cards and gives a straightforward caveat emptor in the description. 

So who on earth bids up reprints like this, or am I an idiot and am completely missing something (always, always possible)?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Autographed Vintage?

CCC will be on a brief hiatus this weekend as my spouse declared that, for our anniversary, we should go to the Twins game this Friday (she is actually a baseball fan, so this is more a good idea than sacrifice on her part). To sweeten the deal, we scored tickets to the Twins autograph party on Saturday. Which brings me to a good dilemma to have: what do you ask people to sign? I'm going Heritage with current players, but that leaves me without anything for the older guys.

There have been several cool posts recently where folks have designed their own cards to have autoed, but I'm simply not that talented with the computer, and won't even try. So, I'm going to have them sign some vintage. My 1973 Rod Carew won out over my 1972 (open to hearing others' opinions on that one, it was tough to decide), and I picked up the '68 Killebrew All-Star at the card shop ($8, but it was in hand). So, what do the rest of you think about having players sign older cards? 
Has anyone else done it? 

I'll let you know how things turn out.

Thank You Captain Canuck: '76 edition

Within an hour or so of having posted my 1976 Topps needs Captain Canuck over at Waxaholic offered to send me one of my needs, 558 Cito Gaston. Since the Captain is a Braves fan, I appreciate the sacrifice of the Cito Gaston.

Now, this Cito is a sweet card. I love how you can see the empty stadium behind him, the screen to protect folks from foul ball, the beams holding up the next level of seating, and the sky poking through it all in the far background. Great use of negative space.

It immediately reminded me of another great card, coincidentally also of a Brave: 1952 Bowman Roy Hartsfield. I mean., the two cards were separated at birth. There are a few folks already in Boston when Roy strikes his pose, but you get the same feeling of pre-/post-game emptiness. Through the supports you catch the city peering into the park in the form of
 an seemingly infinite number of windows, which represent the infinite people behind those windows. Not quite negative space, but very, very cool suggestion.

Thanks again Captain, your cards are in the mail!

Larry Doby

As baseball cards go, it's tough to beat Bowman from 1950-52. Bowman Hertiage doesn't come close to the real thing (exception being the '51 imitation). At right is a 1951 Bowman Larry Doby I managed to score for $13. I bring that up because, at a card show in March, I was with the guy from Noburu Aota (site on Japanese baseball and cards) when he scored one for $7. Yep, single digits for this beautiful card of a HOFer.

There are tons of sites out there that have Doby's bio, so I won't go into that (wikiHOF). Here's an SI article on the importance of recognizing the impact and importance of those players who followed directly in Jackie Robinson's footsteps. As stoked as I was to score my '51 Bowman Doby, I am a bit disappointed that I never had the chance to meet the man on the card. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Random Heritage Chrome

2008 Joakim Soria, Royals c216 194/1959
2007 Freddy Garcia, Phillies thc95 1350/1958
2006 Rafael Furcal Dodgers 1 810/1957
2005 Jeremy West, Red Sox 599/1956

2005 Topps Heritage Sps for Trade

5 Todd Helton
414 Carl Everett, White Sox
428 James Jurries, Braves
475 Wes Swackhammer, Cardinals

2006 Topps Heritage Sps for Trade

All gone

2004 Topps Heritage Sps for Trade

Just a few:

404 Javy Lopez, Braves
414 Marcus McBeth, A's
416 Ivan Rodriguez, Marlins
449 Valdimir Guerrero, Expos
454 Jose Valentin, White Sox
465 C.C. Sabathia, Indians

Clifford Layton and Larry LeGrande

Although Robinson and Doby broke the color barrier in 1947, it would be another 12 years before Pumpsie Green took the field for the Boston Red Sox. Needless to say, integration was a process that took years to accomplish and many Negro Leaguers were never given a legitimate shot at the playing in the Majors. Today, many of them don't even qualify for MLB pensions, and yet they still travel the country promoting the game they played and love.

So, at the same game I got to meet Clifford Layton and Larry LeGrande, both of whom were there signing autographs and selling Negro League memorabilia. I waited until things dies down a bit and struck up conversations with both of them. I am a sucker in general for talking to ex-ballplayers (not something one get to do too often) and have to say that talking to these two men was awesome. When impressed me about Layton was his encyclopedic knowledge of the Negro Leagues' history and his enthusiasm for sharing stories from his playing days. I don't remember much about talking to LeGrande because the first thing he lead with was "I caught Satchel Paige." After that I was pretty much in a haze, I mean, I had just shaken hands with a man who had caught Satchel Paige!

If you see that your local ballpark is sponsoring a Negro League night, I can only say "GO!" Talking with those two men was awesome and something I'll never forget. I saw that the Durham Bulls are having a Negro League night this Saturday, June 20th, and wish I could be there.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Larry Doby Week: The Cannon Street All-Stars

We didn't play Little League in SC when I was a kid, we played in a Dixie Youth Baseball league. When Little League World Series time came around, I always wondered why we weren't in Little League but never knew.

DYB was established in 1955, coincidentally the year that the Cannon Street All-Stars, a group of African American boys from Charleston, SC, went all the way to the Little League World Series because no white teams would play them. Even at the WS they were denied the right to play, on a technicality, because they had won their region by default. So, eight years after Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby integrated Major League baseball, baseball among boys and girls had a ways to go. 

I got the chance to meet three of the players from the Cannon Street All-Stars, Vermont "Pop" Brown, Carl Johnson, and Vernon Gray, and the historian researching the team, Augustus Holt, the night the Riverdogs were handing out the Doby jerseys. I spoke a long time with Vermont and his wife, (I believe her name is Wanda, I apologize if I am wrong) about the team and baseball in general. I also bought a copy of the children's book Let Them Play, which tells the All-Stars' story. The book is great, and I can't say enough about it, so I won't try. If your children love baseball, they will love this book! It's also in the works to make a movie about their story. 

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bryce Harper did what?

Sure you already caught the news: the "chosen one" is leaving HS at 16. I already came out against mega-overhyped superstars here, and this strikes me as INSANE. Not quite Joe Nuxhall to the Majors at 15 insane, but INSANE. The blogger over at Yahoo seems to think this is justified insofar as he's striking while the iron is hot (and it's hard to argue with that logic), but the idiot GM who throws millions at this kid deserves to be exiled to Mars. Although the narrative around this wunderkind is that he is a "once in a lifetime talent," let's not forget that every year the media sells us on a new "once in a lifetime talent," whether that's Longoria, Braun, Brien Taylor, Todd Van Popple, and on and on. And let's not forget how steep the athletic and social learning curve from 16 yo messiah to 22 yo everyday ball player is. Todd Marinovich couldn't handle it, and in all fairness to All-Star Josh Hamilton, the ride almost killed him. 

I wish Bryce Harper all the success in the world, but the road from HS Superstar to even making it as a 4th outfielder on the Nat'ls is littered with guys who ended up with desk jobs by the time they were 23. I've met a few. Nice people, really, but they had nowhere near the pressure of being the NEXT BIG THING. Here's to hoping he lives up to 1/10 of his hype.

Larry Doby Week at CC Cards

Last night I was watching MLB Network and an advertisement for the Civil Rights Game next Saturday came on. What I really liked about the commercial is that, after the opening sequence with Jackie Robinson, it then showed Larry Doby. 

If you don't know who Larry Doby is, he was the first African American to play in the American League, joining the Cleveland Indians eleven weeks after Robinson took the field for the Dodgers. He passed away 6 years ago this past week on June 13, 2003.

He was also from Camden, SC, my home state. My dad made sure I knew who Doby was growing up, but no one made a particularly big deal about him. There were no Little League parks, no public appearances, no one mentioned him in the class on SC history, nothing. 

Fortunately, many things have changed since then. Not everything, but many things. Doby's number 14 was retired by Charleston's Minor League club, the Riverdogs. Last year they even had a Negro League Day where they gave away Doby replica jerseys (Newark Eagles) and invited two Negro Leaguers to come to the park.

This week I'll be blogging about Doby and what I learned at that game talking to the Negro Leaguers and other folks I met there. Dinged Corners did an incredible post a while back on non-MLB traditions (can't find the link..grrr!) and that also inspires this week. 

Tomorrow: The Cannon Street All-Stars

Sunday, June 14, 2009

2003 Topps Heritage Sps for Trade

27 Rodrigo Lopez, Orioles, Old Logo
201 Walter Young, Pirates
156, Randall Simon, Pirates Old Logo
385 Chris Snelling, Mariners
417 Rafael Furcal, Braves
426 Jeromy Burnitz, Mets (card had a crease across the top right out of the pack)

What I Collect

As the site states, CC is my main guy. Click here for a list of all the Crawfords I already have. I have very few jersey/relics, and would be looking to trade for any thrown my way. I'll always take "Crawfords to be pulled later" if that works for you.

Other current players I dig are David Price, Delmon Young, Jeff Niemann, Justin Ruggiano, Elliot Johnson, and the legend Jonny Gomes. Andrew Miller was a student of mine, so I'll trade for him as well.

For teams, Durham Bulls and Charleston, SC Minor League teams (Riverdogs, Rainbows, Pirates, etc.).

For past players, I'm looking for Pedro Martinez, Fred McGriff, Virgil Trucks, Roy Sievers, Bobby Shantz, Vida Blue, Fergie Jenkins, Juan Marichal, Willie Stargell, and Larry Doby (I have few of them and could always "upgrade" as they say). I'm always looking for pre-1950 cards no matter the condition, as is everyone else.

My general set needs are also posted on the right.

Failing that, I'm willing to trade for other "tradable" cards in case our needs don't necessarily line up. Beyond the players I'm interested in, trading cards is a fun way to meet folks, so I'm always game!

Have a good one!

2002 Topps Heritage Sps for Trade

I have tons of doubles from the base set and a few other Sps I will add later. 

365 Paul Konerko, White Sox
367 Nick Bierbrodt, Rays
369 Jorge Padilla, Phillies
372 Alex Cora, Dodgers
376 Jason LaRue, Reds
383 Ramon Ortiz, Angels
387 Juan Pena, Red Sox
388 Michael Barrett, Expos
392 Juan Tolentino, Angels
396 Earl Snyder, Mets
398 Jason Schmidt
400 Nick Green, Angels
410 Joel Pineiro, Mariners
411 Alexis Gomez, Royals
414 Milton Bradley, Indians
416 Kaz Sasaki, Mariners
418 Josh Pearce, Cardinals
421 Joe Kennedy, Rays
422 Jason Maule, Astros
427 Freddy Garcia, Mariners
428 Herbert Perry, Rangers
430 Sandy Alomar, Jr., White Sox
432 Tsuyoshi Shinjo, Mets
434 Robert Fick, Tigers
436 Jose Mesa, Phillies
437 Scott Spiezio, Angels
439 Jose Acevedo, Reds
441 Barry Zito, A's
442 Luis Maza, Twins
444 A.J. Burnett, Marlins
445 Dee Brown, Royals

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Existential Crisis: What is Mint? Does it Exist?

One of the most confounding things about the hobby is condition. My way of dealing with this is just buying what I want/can afford without paying too much attention to whether or not it's "gem mint." I just use closed sales on ebay to gage what a card in similar condition usually sells for and make my bids accordingly. That's fine for buying.

But selling? Selling is another game, friends. I've had to sell off large parts of my collection over the past few years and have seen a lot of shenanigans on the part of buyers who are looking to scam sellers (never thought I'd say that). The one I'm most afraid of is the innocuous question: "Is the card mint?" 

First, as has been hashed out by millions of folks on the intertubes, condition is 100% subjective, even when Beckett and PSA sit down to hand out grades. There are guidelines, but whether or not a given card meets those guidelines is up to the "grader." I'm no power seller and don't care about condition for my own collection, so I usually just say cards are "pack fresh" or "see scans for condition."

Second, the cards in question are from 2000-on and never go for more than $10 or so. We're not talking vintage kept in a shoebox in someone's attic for 50 years. These are "new" cards in solid condition that have never known the joy of Timmy's bicycle spokes. People understandably want their money's worth, but anyone who has ever opened a pack of Topps Heritage knows that 99% of the cards out of the box are not, strictly speaking, "Mint."

Third, I would think that if you have to ask about basic condition that would be a signal that this auction isn't for you. Just a thought.

Which leads me to this: rather than being a sincere query, I see the question as usually a prelude to some combination of post-auction payment reversals, card switching, and complaints about the listing. 

So help me out, just in case I'm completely misreading a small portion of these folks. Mint? What in God's name is passable mint in the great market place that is the ebay? Is no creases, well-centered, but with a tiny chip on the edge Mint (it's a 9.5 Gem Mint according to my David Price)? Or is that card NM? How about a perfect card with a small printing mark on the back? Or a card whose only flaw is a splotch of stray ink the size of an amoeba which is only visible through an electron microscope?

I honestly have no idea.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Vintage versus Neo-Vintage, Who Wins?

I'm sure you've seen the great post over at Bad Wax on the future of Neo-vintage sets like Goudey, Heritage, A & G, etc. Like I said in the comments, at first I really loved these offerings but got ambivalent real quick for a variety of reasons, the last straw being that I can get off-grade vintage for cheaper than new neo-vintage. 

I don't know who collects what out there, but compare the cards below and tell me which you like best. Admittedly, you know David Price and have no idea who Johnny Vergez is, and the two Goudeys are "different years," but let's give this a shot. 

I love the Price, and I am a big Price fan, but the Vergez is really cool.  I wanted an original Goudey just to have one and got the Vergez for around $10. From the card stock to the weight of the card to the shadows suggesting the grandstands off to the right this card is also really sweet.

What do you think?

1973 Topps Needs



Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dear Steven Strasburg...

haven't we met before? I know there are a lot of folks out there who are really excited about getting to know you, like whoever the winner of this auction is, but I keep getting the feeling that we have already been through this. I know, I know, maybe you weren't YOU, and you might not be responsible for what other people are saying about you, but if I remember correctly these relationships can go south pretty quickly. Let's go down memory lane: 

Todd Van Popple was THE man. SI said people called him at all hours "because Todd just may be the next Nolan Ryan." According to Baseball Reference he turned out to be something closer to another Pat Mahomes

Or Brien Taylor? The guy who held out for "Van Popple money" and whom one HOF scout says is one of the five best pitching prospects EVER? How did that turn out?

And finally, let's not forget the man with the perfect mechanics who could not possibly ever break down or get hurt, Mark Prior. Was it Dusty Baker? Was it Prior? Was it you, me?

Ay any rate, we have been here before. Forgive my utter lack of excitement.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

1976 Topps Action

The photos on these two cards are awesome. The slight fuzziness only accentuates the the sense of motion.

First up: card #10, Lou Brock. Everyone knows Lou is one of the greatest base stealers ever, and this card feeds into everything we already know about his career. Lou's coming off the base (first or second?) and the positioning of his feet suggests this is the split second before he turns toward his destination and takes off in earnest. His arms hang loose and his shoulders are roughly square to the pitcher and the action at home plate but his right foot is already pivoting to the next base. Is he going? Faking? The contrast between Brock, the man trying to hold him on, and the outfielder with his hands on his knees in the background, really gives the card a keen sense of drama. (link to the post at Project Baseball 1976)

Up next, #90 Sal Bando. As with the fielders in the Brock card, here the immobile umpire at the foul line in the background contrasts sharply with Bando going to his left for the grounder. He doesn't have the ball yet, he's going toward the ground but has yet to dive. Again, the card suggests a lot more about the situation than it resolves, and things don't look good for Sal. He's playing in on the grass, so we can guess the hitter has a good bit of speed and was expected to bunt, but obviously that didn't happen. He may have been caught off guard, but Sal's making a somewhat awkward, diving stab at the ball to keep it from getting through the infield. Although we know there's a leftfielder somewhere off to the right, just out of the picture, there's nothing but the ump between the ball and the outfield wall, and the ball looks like it could roll on forever. (Link to Project 1976 Baseball)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Monday Fantasy Roundup: Chingones 8, JM's Chain 1

There was no post-rivalry let down on the part of the Chingones this week, who took the week 8-1 to regain respectability. Although controversial, manager Joe Mikulik's decision to bench Kevin Gregg in favor of LaTroy Hawkins for the duration was pure genius. When asked about this later, Gregg responded by shoving a baseball into his mouth: