Monday, August 31, 2009

Things that make me happy...

like Dinged Corners leaving a comment to say they have found a CC card I don't have! I'll have to come up with sufficient ransom.

A few days ago I heard back from Mr. Donald Zimmer, aka "Popeye," aka "The Gerbil." I heard his wife has been known to ghost sign for him, which I think is kind of sweetly intriguing. I have seen some hard words directed towards players who charge or don't sign ttm, but that's the prerogative of the player. If Zimm's wife will occasionally sign some of his mail, given that they are both in their 70's I'd imagine, I picture them doing that over coffee in the south Florida morning, sharing the work.

This is a card Daddy D was gracious enough to gift to me. I'm glad to be able to gift it back to him in the near future!
Before I sent that out, I went digging for Zimm cards I have from when I was a young warthog. Zimm's stint in Chi town roughly coincided with when my family first got cable, so I'll always think of him as the Cubs' manager.
Zimm was a great manager, and I love the fact that he always seems to be smiling, at least across these two cards. I pulled these two cards out today because they cheer me up. He was almost killed by a pitch when he was a minor leaguer, but he still made the bigs, had a successful career, and went on to be a great manager.

Thanks Mr. Zimmer!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Show....

must go on.

One of the coolest things about the blogosphere is the custom card community. Now, I have neither the eye, nor the talent, nor the time to get into making customs, but the work done by folks like Goose Joak, Punk Rock Paint, and Bad Wax is incredible.

And then there's this that I received from Troll a while back:
I know, what the h&ll is that!?! It's a custom CC button. True 1/?. Awesome! Thanks again my man.

That's Two Soul-Crushing Losses in Three Games...

gotta be a mere coincidence that the Rays just traded Kaz, right?

C'mon boys, you still got the talent to make a run!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Apparently Operation White Flag 2009...

is officially underway. If you need me I'll be at the bar thinking about spring training.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It's here....

and I'm already hooked. I'm only a few pages in, but the book is awesome. The Intro is all about why you pitch inside. He cites no less an authority than Satchell Paige on the subject, and recounts sitting in the bullpen with Paige one afternoon which Paige spent intimidating Larry Doby, warning him not to be digging in against him later. AWESOME.

He also put a great auto on it for me, complete with "Fire" Truck. Thanks again Mr. Trucks!
And on a final note, CC is out of the lineup again tonight. We have our collective breath held here Carl! Get well soon!!!

And Gomes is, once again, not starting for Cincy. I mean....what the heck do I know? I haven't destroyed the careers of any major league pitchers, so I know nothing. Dusty, loved you as a player, but get it together!!!

The quote off of Volquez's BReference page says it all: I wouldn't trust Dusty to put together a sandwich, nevermind a pitching staff. My turkey and cheese would be visiting Dr. Andrews within the week.

Vote in Traded Sets Throw Down!

OK, go here and vote for the best card from the 1990 UD High Numbers set. I do have a dog in this fight, and it's Keith Hernández. Right now he's tied with Nolan Ryan. Get out the vote!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Peñas para la compa:gracias Sr. Troll!

Peña has 2 homers tonight. Nice!
So, I was corresponding with Troll a couple of weeks ago when the compa says, "Ask him if he has any Peña doubles." Which I did. To which Troll responded with an insanely generous number of cards, most of which were no doubles at all but straight from the private stock.
Yep, that's a PSA 9 Topps Chrome RC of the gent in question. But why, you ask, does the compa like Peña? Well, two reasons, both of then coming out of a trip we took to Baltimore for a day-night doubleheader late last summer. Peña plays first, and I sprung the cash for us to sit second row from the field for the games, which is a lot cheaper than you'd think given it was Camden yards.

First thing the compa notices? Peña has a great a$$. That was the one thing she thought was absent from the tremendous cards Troll sent: no shot of Peña's backside. She loves, however, this heroic looking Peña. First question she asks: why'd he drop the bat?
The second thing: the day after we were at the inner harbor talking to a guy who runs a t-shirt shot there. He told us this great story about how Peña had been talking to some folks who ran a restaurant around those parts, and later returned to their place with a bunch of Rays swag and tickets to the games. Pretty awesome guy, and the kind of story that needs to be publicized a lot more.
She looks at this card. It's got the smile, the pose, and...Derek Jeter? Compa: "Why in the *&^% do we have a Yanki on a Rays card?" I tried explaining about the neo-vintage craze, and Gehrig on the original Goudey cards, but she wouldn't relent. A lot of what she said wasn't fit for print, but can be summed up as "Tell these Upper Deck people that only Yanki fans would dig something like that. I don't want Captain Intangibles on my Peña cards, or any Rays cards! It ruins his smile." Message sent.
Check out that expression. Why compa digs it: "He looks cute and goofy running the bases. I guess that's why he's a god of the Three True Outcomes. That way 2/3 of the time he doesn't have to mess with this, but he'll still take a walk just to make the pitcher look bad." In her defense, this year Peña has more homers than singles. It's a fact.
And these are just a few of the awesome cards the generous Troll who lives in Tampa sent to the Compa! Thanks again!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Catching Up:Contests, Things I Don't Get, and Thanks to 1980 Topps Baseball

OK, so first of all don't forget the two great contests going on right now.

1st, the Ginter Giveaway at Card Cache.

2nd, the HOF giveaway at Collective Troll. While you're there check out Troll's latest post on the mad props he's gotten for his work. Very well done, sir!

Next, two things I don't get:
1) Why in the name of all that is holy is Jonny Gomes not an everyday player in the Reds OF? His OPS is .925, his OPS+ is 136. He's a legit power threat in a lineup that could really use another big gun. So why on earth isn't he etched in stone in the lineup?

2) Why aren't CC and Zobrist getting national coverage for MVP, and Niemann for ROY?

Finally, sending out good vibes, I recently received two incredible packages from some folks in the blogosphere. With school kicking off in less than 24 hours, the compa and I have been in the weeds for the past two weeks (hence the slackness in posts, and these belated thank yous). The compa has a moral obligation to thank Troll for the incredible package he sent her (long story which I'm sure she'll explain) and she has promised me that's coming soon! Apologies, Troll, she really digs the cards.

I got two unexpected cards from the folks at 1980 Topps Baseball. Let me say that it's incredibly humbling that anyone would think enough of me to pick up some 1986 Topps needs for me at a show. Dean Family, I cannot thank you enough and am in your debt! With these two cards, I'm now 1 away!

First up: Dave Rozema. Did you know he's Kirk Gibson's brother-in-law?
He might be most famous for plunking a couple of Twins in 1982, which spawning a bench-clearing brawl, during which Rozema tried some sort karate kick that not only derailed his season, but also failed to connect with its target, John Castino. Apparently, he was a "colorful" player and a pretty good sport at that, as his home town minor league team sponsor a Rozema karate kick bobblehead night. I love how in this card he's leaning back a bit, like he's getting ready to throw a kick at someone. Nice touch!

I also received Lance Parrish.
Lance Parrish looks like catchers have and should have looked since the beginning of time. Bat over his shoulder, yeoman-like mouth half open as if to say, "What are you looking at?" I know Topps is about to break out a new T206 retro set, and let me just say that THIS is the prototypical shot they should use. It's absolutely timeless.

Many thanks again, Deans!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Virgil Trucks Giveaway: Results are in!!!

The Rays are up, it's a Friday evening, things are right with the world.

I've had a great time running this, and I hope ya'll have enjoyed it. Mr. Trucks is really one of the kindest, most generous players I've come across, and his appreciation for us fans is pretty incredible. If you didn't win, please feel free to drop Mr. Trucks a line. He's an incredible individual, and without his cooperation this wouldn't have been possible. If you are so inclined, order the book as well. I got a note from Mr. Trucks today, and my copy is in the mail! I'm really stoked to get it, and will let you know how it is once I've read it.

Also, Troll is running a cool HOF contest over on his blog, here. Check it out!

Time for the results, the randomizations are below. I have traded with some of you, and some of you I don't know! Please email me your address ASAP and I'll get these in the mail. (After two weeks I'll re-run the giveaway with anything left over, so don't leave me hanging!!!)

Have a great weekend everyone!

1. Mmosley---1954 Bowman (an NC State fan at #1!!! I should have run another randomization!!)
2. Matthew Glidden---1950 Bowman
3. Dean Family---1957 Topps
4. Pack Addict---1959 Topps
5. Wicked Ortega----Diamond Stars (Brown version)
6. Dan---Diamond Stars (Blue Version)
7. Douglas---personal card
8. MattR---business card w/ Fire Truck
9. Don---business card w/ Fire Truck

  1. Matthew Glidden
  2. Jeff Meloy
  3. Captain Canuck
  4. White Sox Cards
  5. Slangon
  6. Dean Family
  7. Hackenbush
  8. Night Owl
  9. Beardy
  10. Mark’s Ephemera
  11. Mmosley
  12. Wickedortega
  13. Brian
  14. Packaddict
  15. MattR
  16. Collective troll
  17. Dan
  18. Maury Wills HOF fan
  19. Douglas
  20. Core contrarian
  21. Dinged Corners
  22. MadHandle11
  23. Gcrl
  24. Zman40
  25. Don

Timestamp: 2009-08-22 00:57:22 UTC

  1. Don
  2. Douglas
  3. Night Owl
  4. Wickedortega
  5. Dinged Corners
  6. Gcrl
  7. MattR
  8. Packaddict
  9. Matthew Glidden
  10. White Sox Cards
  11. Collective troll
  12. Core contrarian
  13. Slangon
  14. Beardy
  15. Maury Wills HOF fan
  16. Dan
  17. Hackenbush
  18. Zman40
  19. Brian
  20. Captain Canuck
  21. MadHandle11
  22. Jeff Meloy
  23. Mmosley
  24. Dean Family
  25. Mark’s Ephemera

Timestamp: 2009-08-22 00:57:57 UTC


  1. Mmosley
  2. Matthew Glidden
  3. Dean Family
  4. Packaddict
  5. Wickedortega
  6. Dan
  7. Douglas
  8. MattR
  9. Don
  10. Jeff Meloy
  11. Dinged Corners
  12. Brian
  13. Captain Canuck
  14. Collective troll
  15. Zman40
  16. Core contrarian
  17. White Sox Cards
  18. Gcrl
  19. MadHandle11
  20. Beardy
  21. Hackenbush
  22. Night Owl
  23. Slangon
  24. Maury Wills HOF fan
  25. Mark’s Ephemera

Timestamp: 2009-08-22 00:58:26 UTC

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Virgil Trucks Giveaway: What are the stakes?

OK, the cards have arrived and the giveaway is closed! I'm pretty exhausted from work-related travel during the past four days, but thought I'd put of some scans of what is being given away. I think you'll agree, Mr. Trucks is an awesome individual who cares a lot about baseball fans and the games history. I can't wait to get the book!

So, you already know the 1954 Bowman:
Like I said, I sent Mr. Trucks a few more cards. First, this gem:
Yep, that is some mega-vintage 1950 Bowman Virgil Trucks. If you've never seen these, they are incredible. Whoever lands this beauty will be incredibly stoked. Next up:
1957 Topps. Another nice card, this one of Mr. Trucks playing with the A's. Pretty cool you can see the warm-up suit peaking out from under his uni. Even better, check out the back:
See '44-'45? It actually lists his service in the Navy on the back of the card. Nice. And we have this:
1959 Topps. This card, along with the '54 Bowman, was among those purchased at the cardshop in Devanport, IA, I mentioned here. But that isn't all! Mr. Trucks threw in a few more graphs that he said I could give away.
The awesome things about these diamond signatures cards is that they were printed up specifically for players to give away. This is another version:
He also included this awesome cardboard you have already seen and that I am guessing is of personal vintage:
It is a little large than a "normal" sized card, but this cool card features a pitching tiger on the front and some great info on the back. And like I said, it's kind of Mr. Trucks's "if I designed baseball cards, my baseball card would look like this..." baseball card. I'm sure we all agree that some folks at the card companies could learn a thing or two from Mr. Trucks. And finally, I think you remember the "Fire Trucks" stamp:
He threw in 2 of them!

So, once again, many many thanks to Mr. Trucks! I'll run the randomizations tomorrow and cards will be assigned numbers according to the order in which they appear in this post, 9 in all!

Finally, because I have been out of town I am way behind on posts and emails. I will be catching up tonight, but I wanted to throw out a quick "Thanks" to the folks who sent me cards recently. I will be posting them over the weekend, but in the meantime wanted to say your generosity and thoughtfulness are awesome. And, look soon for a special post by the compa!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Nicknames: "Fire" Trucks, Whammy, Superman, and Briefcase

OK, no mail from Mr. "Fire" Trucks today, but I did get two letters. I'm out of town from Monday to Wednesday, so hopefully something shows up around then!

The coolest thing about having the blog is the kind of people you meet who know a lot more about baseball than you do. It's all relative, but I like learning more about the game and its history, especially from other folks that love and follow the game.

A while back I said I had a "top two" nicknames, which I did. Little did I know of the awesomeness of two others. So, we're up to a top four, in no certain order: "Whammy" Douglas, Virgil "Fire" Trucks, Art "Superman" Pennington, and Herb "Briefcase" Simpson.
Yep, Mr. Pennington signed it with the "Superman." The Ginter insert autos are beyond my financial reach, so as I said earlier I'm trying to contact these gentlemen through the mail. AND, there will be a Pennington giveaway a few weeks after the Trucks giveaway, so keep your eyes peeled. In case you are interested, Mr. Pennington has a website found here. He lost everything in the Cedar Rapids flood last summer, so if you are thinking on throwing down cash on the Ginter certified auto, you might consider sending him a base card and a few bucks instead.

He even answered the question sheet I sent him. Where did "Superman" come from? His mom when he was 10 or 12. I'll save the rest for the giveaway later.

I also heard back from this gentleman, Herb "Briefcase" Simpson (another article here).
How awesome is the nickname "Briefcase"!?! Now, in my utter ignorance, I had no idea Mr. Simpson's nickname was "Briefcase," so I didn't ask him how he became known as "Briefcase." Might have to send a follow up letter and ask. BUT, what was his best moment in baseball? Mr. Simpson hit a homer off Satchell Paige and his parents were in the stadium to see it! Very cool memory to share.

So, as a general question, why haven't the big THEY made a Negro League set loaded up with "hits" or whatever? Any thoughts? Given the popularity of the Negro League Ginter autos, would you bust a product with Negro League hits, cut sigs, and relics? They could even get current prominent Afro-American players involved. What do you think?

P.S. Upper Deck, let me suggest that, having lost your MLB license, this would seem to be one heck of an idea. Plus, you'd be educating the general public and providing extra income for some of these men.

Crawford goes 4-4...

but Rays lose 5th straight. Shields gave up 5 early and the Rays offense never really got going. The division was a long shot at the beginning of the month, but at 5 games back the wild card is the new long shot. Not to be a pessimist, but when you're 5 out in mid-August things are uphill.
Oh, well. An older cousin of mine is a Pirates fan from the 70's, so that poor guy hasn't had anything to cheer about in 18 years. I think he's just started to prefer hockey.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Gomes HR X 3!!!

We're only in the 6th at Cinci, but CCC favorite Jonny Gomes has already homered 3 times! Way to go Jonny!

Virgil Trucks Giveaway: Who is "Fire" Trucks? Part 2

Like I've said before, the man put up some pretty impressive stats. Before I begin, however, I'd like to give a shout out to a contest over at Saints of the Cheap Seats. Great he's keeping Cy's dream alive!
Like I said yesterday, in 1952 Virgil "Fire" Trucks threw 2 no-hitters. Baseball Digest did a great interview with Mr. Trucks about the two, found here. The first was against the Senators on May 15. According to this article it was also the 2nd no-no in Tigers history.

For good measure, Mr. Trucks then threw one against the Yankees on August 25. Now, any no-hitter is amazing. A no-hitter against this roster, however, is almost incomprehensible. I mean, if someone on the street told you that a guy had no-hit a Yankees team with Berra, Mantle, etc., on it, you'd probably assume he was joking.

Amazingly, his W-L record in 1952 was 5-19 with a 3.97 ERA, or 95 ERA+. It goes without saying that with a little bit more run support, that season might have been a lot different.

Like I said yesterday, Trucks also threw 4 no-hitters in the minors.

When you dig deeper into the stats, Trucks had some pretty dominant years during a period that had quite a few dominant lineups. 1949 might have been his best, when he led the league in K's, had a 2.81 ERA, 148 ERA+, 6 shutout, 4 saves (!), and a 1.21 WHIP. That was against an AL with guys like Dimaggio and Williams sowing terror wherever they went. I'll let the rest of the seasons speak for themselves, and they say that Mr. Trucks had some monster years.

Over his 17-year career Trucks went 177-135 with a 3.39 ERA, 116 ERA+. He led the league in K's in 1949 with 153 and had 124 CG for his career. I know that was a different era, but that's over 1/3 of the games he started. Almost unthinkable today.

Anyway, don't forget to comment at the original post here to enter the giveaway, and that all you need to do is be a follower of the site. I'm off to brew some beer.

Have a great one!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Virgil Trucks Giveaway: Who is "Fire" Trucks? Part 1

When hammering this out earlier, I realized one long post would be too long. We're going multi-parts.
One of the reasons I'm really looking forward to the book is that I'm a big fan of stories and people who can really tell them. If you check out this interview from Baseball Almanac, you'll see why I'm so stoked.

Among other things, Mr. Trucks says that, when he was with the Tigers during the 1945 World Series against the Cubs, he saw THE guy with THE goat at Wrigley field. Now, for several years I've been operating under the assumption that this was mostly an ESPN invention designed to bring drama back into baseball after the Red Sox "lifted the curse" that the media had invented for them. But NO, Mr. Trucks says he saw the guy with the goat at Wrigley field. Incredible.

In addition to the cards I sent him, I included a piece of paper with some questions, which Mr. Trucks answered in detail.
What's that in the middle there you ask? Well, it's this:
That's right, man has a stamp about what his best moment playing ball is. I guess he gets that a lot, but to someone who analyses books for a living the "no-hitters stamp" is awesome! Post-modern? Text in the age of mechanical reproduction? Awesome. I'll get into his stats tomorrow, but fact is between the minors and majors he threw 6 no-hitters, the ones listed above being in the majors and in the same season (a feat only accomplished only by Mr. Trucks, Johnny Vander Meer, Nolan Ryan, [edit] and Allie Reynolds).

Best hitter he ever faced? He wrote Ted Williams and Joe Dimaggio. Well, statistically speaking, he did pitch really carefully to Ted, holding him to a .250 BA but walking him 11 times in 39 total plate appearances. Ted also took Mr. Trucks deep three times. For some reason Dimaggio's stats don't have a "vs" category, so we can't compare him to Ted, but it'd be interesting to know.

Where'd he get the name "Fire" Trucks and why? A reporter, Jack House, from The Birmingham Alabama News gave it to him because...he could throw "over 100 mhp"!!! and "my last name, Trucks."

But let's be serious. It's a superb example of what a nickname should be. For example, if "Fire" Trucks is an OF, the name doesn't give us much of a mental picture, does it? But "Fire" Trucks as a pitcher? THAT guy throws 100mph heat. The name is perfect! It works on every level imaginable.

So, if you are interested in the giveaway, register on the previous post here. I forgot to add in that post that, once things are closed, I'll randomize the list 3x at, top x names get the goods. Simple enough. Scans below are of the "Fire" Trucks card Mr. Trucks sent, as well as the postcard for his book, which features BOTH awesome Trucks stamps. Have a good one!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Virgil "Fire" Trucks Giveaway

OK, tomorrow I am going to do a long post on this man:
The abbreviated version of the story: the nickname "Fire" Trucks is absolutely incredible, so I decided to try my luck and write to Mr. Trucks and send him a letter with two cards to sign. One of the things he sent back was this awesome business card with his own fire truck stamp. Very, very excellent, and one of the coolest things I have ever seen.

He also included a a postcard about his biography, stating that hardcover copies are currently available for $30 (check to Virgil Trucks) at his address found here. I am a big reader and ordered a copy almost immediately.

I also scooped up a few more cards on ebay and sent them to Mr. Trucks asking him to sign them, saying they would be giveaways on my blog. Maybe he signs them, maybe he doesn't, at the very least I can say he has already been very generous with his time.

If nothing else, I'll be giving away free and clear the beautiful hand-signed 1954 Bowman of Mr. Trucks at the bottom of this post. Why? Because his nickname is one of the all-time greats and his generosity is absolutely impressive. His bio deserves all the attention I can give it.

To enter: be a follower of the blog and leave a comment on this post saying you are "in." Nothing else. Fellow bloggers, please post this on your site to get more folks involved. As I will explain tomorrow, "Fire" Trucks was a great player with some really great stats and I am looking forward to getting the bio. Contest closes when I get the bio and/or other cards in the mail, whichever arrives first!

Good luck!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Charles Bender is Money

My new car needs new engine. Bummer. It's under warranty (thank you dear, sweet Lord) so hopefully things will turn out.

In other news, I bring you my small Charles Albert Bender (1903-1917, 1925), AKA "Chief," collection. Connie Mack referred to Bender as the best "Money Pitcher" he'd ever had, as in if he had a single game to win, he'd want Bender on the mound. Those were some of baseball's All-Time great teams, with players like Frank "Home Run" Baker, "Gettysburg" Eddie Plank, and "Rube" Waddell, just to limit myself to naming a few players. And Mack felt Bender was his best pitcher.

Bender appeared in 5 World Series with Mack's A's, compiling pretty impressive stats: 6-4 with a 2.44 ERA. The ERA would be a lot lower save for the infamous 1914 game against the miracle Boston Braves, in which he gave up 8 hits and 6 earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. He and other A's players were suspected of negotiating contracts to jump to the startup, rebel Federal League before the series began, and so many felt he and other A's players conspired to throw the series, whether under the influence of gamblers or due to plain indifference. Both of the great recent Bender bios, Chief Bender's Burden and Money Pitcher, offer excellent portraits of the moment, but neither offers anything conclusive proof.

Like a lot of pitchers from that era, Bender threw a lot of innings, doing things like starting the opening game of a double-header and relieving the second. Like a lot of them, he often pitched hurt. If there's an argument against the Nolan Ryan, ESPN school of "we used to throw a ton of innings and it had no effect on us," it's to be found in the careers of pitchers like Bender and others, the original old schoolers.

Like I said before, he went on to be a mentor to CCC favorite Bobby Shantz. Bender is often credited with inventing the slider, though he didn't have a name for it.

Bender's story also highlights a lot of the difficulties Native Americans faced at the turn of the century and continue to face today. He was "white enough" to play, but not "white enough" that he escaped being heckled with war whoops when he pitched or, like John Meyers, being dubbed "Chief." Bender, or so the story goes, would respond by calling them "foreigners."

I'll go deeper into these cards another day, but here are my Bender cardboards.
The front of this T205 is great, the back is interesting, but you don't get all the text!
To borrow a phrase from Capt'n Canuck, this card went though the wash with a pocketful of poker chips, but we get the full text. Turns out Bender was also a great hitter, too.

Finally, this T207, not quite as pretty as the T205, but a solid card nonetheless.
Have a great one!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

When book isn't all bad

Rays lost in 11 last night, but I came up large in the Rays in the poor man's Ginter break, but then again my car (purchased in April) is in the shop and might need a new engine. What I need is a long post to take my mind off things.

So, if you've followed the running debate over at Saints of the Cheap Seats, it seems consensus is that value is relative and derived from the context of a specific situation, and not something that easily transports from one context to another. I'm on Zistle, have traded through it, and think it's a good tool. As is ebay and, as much as I can't believe I'm saying it, as is the book (won't say which one) on certain occasions.

Example, on the aforementioned trip to Iowa that included the game at Wrigley with Mr. Ray, Jonny Gomes (0-3, 1 RBI last night) Daddy D took me to an old school card shop in Davenport to fill some set needs. I was also looking for some Virgil Trucks cards. Given my recent experiences at shops, I wasn't too optimistic with regard to 1) pricing and 2) inventory.

My experience at Superstars and Superheroes was something of a shock that caught me off guard. I didn't even take my set needs lists because the last time I asked to see the '73 commons box at a shop the guy looked at me like I was speaking pig latin.

First I asked if he had any "Virgil Trucks," from the earlier in the '50s the better. I did want the Trucks cards (he'll be a major player in later posts) but will admit that I was trying to score points with Daddy D in the same way you go into a bar with your father-in-law and order your favorite whiskey neat, knowing full well most bartenders have no idea what the hell you are referring to, as they are most accustomed to mixing whatever sugary concoctions are currently in vogue for the college scene and have no understanding of basic mixology. It's a cheap way to score "I'm a cultured guy" points among guys who, like Daddy Dean, have me beat by miles in the "I know baseball" category.

So Larry, that's the owner, looked at me for a second before saying he hadn't heard the name "Virgil Trucks" in a while, but he was sure he had a few. Specifically, 1954 Bowman, 1956 Topps, and 1959 Topps. I had a hard time keeping up with the ensuing conversation between Larry and Daddy D, as both men ended up having a vast knowledge of lesser known pitchers from the 1950s.

All three cards were in great condition, in-hand, and not subject to the ebay auction switcheroo, but they weren't cheap. I'm NOT into condition, but they were as close to mint as you'll find, and if you follow high-grade '50s on the 'bay you know the pricing for high end from that era is all over the map. I think $22 got me all three. A lot more than I was looking to spend, and "book price" to boot, but in the end a fair price.

I also scored this 1951 Bowman of Eddie Lake for $6.50:
This is a pretty fantastic stadium shot, and I love the two ghosts wandering through the emptiness of the OF behind Eddie. But was $6.50 too much? Again, it gave me pause, but my logic is this would have set me back 1-2 dollars on ebay, plus shipping (assuming it's a lone purchse) is at least $4. I'll throw out a $2.50 premium for "in-hand," though not that often. Because, well, I don't have that kind of scratch.

Anyway, next up was the '73 commons. I was sweating a bit because the compa does the finances and $5 on baseball cards is $5 most unproductively spent, and I'm almost $30 in the hole. Again, though, I'm thinking Larry might have a handful of '73s that I can glance at before moving on and paying up.

Wrong again. The shop has something of a dickensian archival feel to it that I hadn't quite grasped when I first went in, so when Larry emerged from the back with two 5000 count boxes it fit the nature of the place. Now, between them the boxes covered '72-'75, with '73 spanning the two, but it was mind blowing to see that many '73s at once. And I left my lists at home, which meant I had to go back the following day.

So...the next day I wade into a sea of '73 commons while on a strict budget. I am 110% opposed to paying book for anything, much less commons, but condition wise, for the most part these cards fit the definition of "high grade," and certainly put the rest of my '73 set to shame. If those cost me between 20-30 cents apiece, Larry's commons are worth an average of $1.25. And the '73s clearly rule, despite what the night owl says, as these scans show:
I know Juan isn't a common, but he was in the box. Now, could I complete my set spending that much for commons, even really good ones? No, never in a thousand years. I went over budget (again), but Larry cut me a break, so I spent around $25 for 20 sharp '73 commons and some off condition stars from the '70s.

Now, I would never spend that much on the 'bay, and I hate the book in most cases, but I have no qualms about this for several reasons.

First, beyond simple supply-demand, Larry has a mind numbing inventory other shops don't have. That's worth something.

Second, dude knows his baseball, and on both occasions we had great conversations about everything from '50s players to current card design. I wasn't in there to throw down on the expensive vintage or the 2009 high end, but he treated me as if my business was important. Knowledge and customer service are worth something.

Third, most folks feel condition is worth something, and us non-condition folks will have to pay for it now and again. Law of the jungle, I guess, and it happens on ebay just like in shops.

Finally, I think it helps a lot that Larry is a student of the game and appreciates it for what it is, by which I mean the shop reflects a certain lack of pretension that comes only through really "knowing" what the hobby is about. I get the feeling Larry enjoys his shop in ways that the guys who sport the latest Ebbets Field throwbacks to work and see cards as investments just don't.

In short, I have no problem paying "book" for cards the next time I'm in Davenport. Sure, I could get the same cards cheaper online, but I'm also receiving more than the cards in return, things you don't get online, and it ends up being money well spent.

Just my two cents, feel free to disagree.

I'll be sitting by the phone the rest of the day with the compa, hoping that we won't need a new engine when the tele finally rings!

Peace, and have a good one!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Vintage versus Neo-Vintage Round II: T205 Edition

David Price on the mound, Rays on the TV, things are good.

CC had SBs 50 and 51 last night, giving him five 50+ steal seasons. Showing some power here recently, too. AND today's his birthday, and NO I wouldn't have known if ESPN hadn't announced it.

Gomes is OPSing around .900, but has the night off.

Things are good.

So, among the things to do while I'm waiting for the poor man's Ginter break, pit cards of some of my favorite players against each other. Specifically vintage versus neo-vintage, which is a never ending subject of fascination.

First up: T205 Chas Bender. He'll get several posts in the near future, but here is the front of this HOFer's 205 next to CC's 205 Mini from '02.
Now, there are some subtle differences in design, but what doesn't come through in the scan is how the differences in printing technique effect the overall look. Here are the backs, both Polar Bears: (Crawford just homered!)
If you were wondering, this back belongs to a different T205 Bender I have, as my first copy has a better front but a terrible case of paper loss on the back.

Anyway, I've got my opinions which I'll keep to myself, but which do you folks like better and why?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Droppin' the Whammies

Let's be honest. Baseball in 2009 is a lot different than it used to be. We move a lot, the players move a lot, there are few local teams, and less and less local coverage of teams. At least it seems that way.

The worst thing that's suffered? Player nicknames. What Chris "You're with Me, Leather" Berman does is a sad, pale reflection of what once came out of anonymous leagues covered by local newspaper people.

Why all the nostalgia? Whammy's in the house!
Although the back of the card claims Whammy is from Ohio, he actually grew up in Carrboro, NC, near where I went to school. The kind gent at Noboru Aota gave me this '59 card of Charles William "Whammy" Douglas as a going away present. Now, Whammy had a winding path to the bigs, and his career in the minors reminds us just what we've lost with the broad institutionalization of pro ball. Among others, he played with Burlington of the Carolina League, Lexington of the Tar Heel League, and Mexico City of the Mexican League. Dude was everywhere. Check out the back:
He's called Whammy, according to an interview in this article, because while pitching for an American Legion team in the early '50s against a semipro team, he struck out a ton of batters. "So they just started calling me 'Whammy'." Easily one of my top two baseball nicknames ever.

And if you want to know what kind of player he was, dude was HARD CORE. Read the article. He lost an eye at age 11 and still made the Majors. I have two arm, two eyes, and two legs and I'm....well, I'm not in the Majors playing baseball.

It took me a few months, but I finally managed to track down an address through LB's Sigs through the Mail, and Whammy came through for me, big time with the sweet auto!

Many thanks Mr. Douglas!

And don't forget, I'm looking for some cardboards, help me out!