Monday, November 30, 2009

Trade Bait

Don't forget to check the older Heritage lists to the left I have a ton of SPs. Mostly looking for Crawford, Gomes, Price, or Niemann! Leave a comment and drop me a line if you are interested.
Big Al Refractor /559
Assorted Heritage, plus a Prince Oddball
SP Authentic and Turkeys. The Al is the Turkey Ad SP
These are all black backs.

Cardboard Mystery: Vicente Romo and the Lipstick?

This card has corny glory unlike few others. Is Vicente Romo supposed to look like he's fielding his position, or is he getting into stance to kick your ass? Give it took the Sox so many decades to win the big one, I'll go with the former. I mean, there's more than one fielding gaff that might be explained away like that.

My favorite part of this card? Check out his lips. This could be due to any number of causes (bad printing, bad child, bad photographer) but it looks like Romo is wearing lipstick. Which is cool, but a little strange on a baseball card. I mean, what was he thinking/doing just prior to this?

Does anyone else have this card, and does it look like he's wearing lipstick?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

(Belated) Thankfulness

Like everyone, I've got a lot to be thankful for. I'm in Iowa, with the compa's family, who was gracious enough to delay Turkey Day until Friday so we could be here and share it with them.

I've got a lot to be thankful for. Aside from being ill as a dog after dinner yesterday (I blame my mother-in-law), I've got my health. Despite my considerable eccentricities I have the compa. I'm also employed in a great job, which in this day and age is no mean accomplishment in higher education. I'm thankful for

I'm thankful I'm NOT a Cubs fan. Cubs fans have it tougher than most, and I don't think the rest of us appreciate that. Compa's grand dad was a Cubs fan, which gave Daddy D a permanent leg up in family arguments. Think Zim is happy to be a Cub in 1961? This might be the only card in existence where Zim isn't smiling. In fact, he looks depressed.
Willie Jones doesn't look much happier, but I'm guessing he's just happy to have a job. "Puddin' Head" Jones played most of his career with the Fightin's before traveling around a bit on his way to Cincy. He's also from Dillon, SC. Apparently he was, like me, thankful to be FROM SC as opposed to be living IN SC, as he lived out his days in OH.
And finally, I'm thankful for all my great friends past, present, and bloggered. Without you life wouldn't be nearly so interesting, and there'd certainly be no binge-drinking fueled trips to Jerusalem. Hopefully we'll all get there one day.
Thanks to Daddy D for the '61s, and have a good one Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Doppelganger: 1961 Topps Edition

You've heard it all your life: you are special, there's no one like you. Now imagine making it to the majors, being one of a select group of ballplayers, only to find there's another one of you out there. Bob Will is Jim Brosnan, or is Jim Brosnan Bob Will? Brosnan was even originally drafted by the Cubs, the team that employed Bob Will.

Even the composition of these cards is stunningly similar. Will gazes right, Brosnan looks left. The glasses, the haircut, the C's on the caps, next to each other cards may as well be mirror images of each other. They both even have their mouths slightly agape in one of those half smiles you give to someone you don't know who's taking your picture. But you wanna know what's really creepy? Someone at Topps was on to this. How do I know? Check this out:
Yep, these cards are consecutively numbered in the 1961 set, #'s 512 and 513. Crazy. It's like you are supposed to make the connection.

Have a great one and a have a good night Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Trade Bait: Tigers, Twin, Rays

That's actually the Fu Te Ni Bowman Chrome, my scanner hates me. Email me if you're interested!

Living with Ryne Duran

Things have been crazy lately. Like 1963 Ryne Duran crazy.

I know, "what's so crazy about this card?" Well, if you know anything about Duran, you know that he was generally feared as much for his fastball as for his utter lack of control over it. This is probably due to several factors, not the least of which were heavy drinking, poor vision, and a keen sense of how to put on a show. Did he hit the guy in the on-deck circle because he was hungover? Blind? Nuts? Who knows? That kind of stuff keeps the batter from getting too comfortable in the box, so the point is moot.
Makes the back of his '63 Topps all the funnier, the notion that the Angels used Duran to "blind" opposing batters, since he himself was virtually blind. And check out the K/BB ratio---insane! His sunglasses give the card a real sense of menace I'm not sure I've ever seen on a card before. One imagines that, in his spare time, the man on the front of this card moonlights as a contract killer for a number of international crime syndicates. That, however, wouldn't play so well as a cute cartoon on the back, so they went with something much less interesting about on-field performance and K's. I can hear the exchange:

Topps photographer: "Would you mind removing the shades, Mr. Duran? You're famous for wearing thick glasses, and we'd like to showcase that."

Duran: "I'd mind."

Photographer: "But..."

Duran: "Unless you want to wake up on the bottom of the ocean, the shades stay. And let's get this done quick. I was out late last night and this sun is killing me."

There are different periods we all go through when, for better or worse, we're hitting against Ryne Duran. For days. For weeks. Maybe months. Duran himself had some well documented struggles with alcohol. This, of course, puts my own troubles into perspective. But nonetheless, there are periods when it's tough to keep digging in, swinging away, when the madness is bringing heat and the ball could just as well as kill the mascot as go over the plate. Just gotta stay focused, keep your eyes on the ball, and dig in. Hell, if you get hit you're still getting on base.

Have a great one and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Waiting for Brissie: No More!

I posted this a while back, on a ttm I got from Lou Brissie.

It would took some saving up of monies, but I decided I HAD to ask him to sign a '49 Bowman and a '48 Leaf. Both are available on the 'bay for double-digit BINs, so I decided to wait to see if anything turned up. I imagine hunting large game is roughly the same, as a) I was gnawing off a limb in the interim, just waiting to pull the trigger and b) there aren't a whole lot of folks out there who run auctions of cards from the '40s, much less auctions of any given player.

Well, I managed to catch an off grade '49 Bowman for cheap ($5!!!) so I was really stoked about that. Shortly thereafter I won a '48 Leaf Lou Brissie, only to have it never show. After three weeks the seller refunded my money, which I appreciated, but still...three weeks wasted. Rather than pack up my weapons and head back out into the savannah, I went BIN and scored one for around $20 including s/h. That's WAY too much, but it's a seller's market with those kinds of cards, and it's one I really wanted. I'm also really reticent to try a ttm with a card that cost that kind of money (I know, for most it ain't that much, but for my budget it's a TON), but again the situation forced my hand.

Mr. Brissie is from SC, which I still can't get over. I wrote him another letter, thanking him for the first ttm he did for me, requesting two more sigs (a little much, I know), and telling him how proud I am to have a player like him be from my home state.

This past Friday, these returned to ND:
First, I know: $20 for a card with a crease like that?!? Let me tell you, having Mr. Brissie's signature on it makes it worth the expense. The '48 is a classic set, and I love the info on the back. I can't imagine being a young man in the late '40s whom Connie Mack calls "Another Left Grove." That's pretty amazing praise. I know that in the current 24-news cycle we're constantly bombarded by "next-Nolan Ryans" and "next-Roger Clemens" on a daily basis, but back then, and from a HOF manager like Mack, that's A+ praise. It's also a Philadelphia A's card, which is another plus.

Next, the '49 Bowman:
There's a lot to like about the '49 Bowmans in general. The layered effect of the printing on the front, the multicolored back...they are nice cards, though generally completely overshadowed by the amazing '50 and '51 sets. I love how the '48 Leaf lists Brissie's hometown as Ware Shoals and the '49 Bowman lists it as Anderson. Both are in the upstate, and both are small towns, but Ware Shoals makes Anderson look like NY City in terms of size. I also dig the advert for the baseball bank on the back, if only because that kind of superfluous stuff irritates collectors so much on cards in 2009. It takes up 1/2 the card! I wonder if kids in '49 got angry about it or just sent away for the bank---has anyone ever seen one of those?

Mr. Brissie, thank you so much for the autographs! It's really excellent to have the signature of a ball player from SC on those cards.

Have a great one everybody, and have a good night Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Gene Conley and the Search for the Holy Grail

Seriously. I've been meaning to post this for a while, and today's the day.

If you've never heard of Gene Conley, he's the only man to have won a World Championship in two major sports (MLB and NBA). Considering how man years he played back-to-back MLB and NBA seasons, it's almost unthinkable that he played baseball for 11 years, and basketball for another 6.

I read his bio, authored by his wife, and must say it was a surprisingly good read and really provides a lot of insight into what is was like for a baseball family during the '50s and '60s. Unlike other players, Conley had the advantage of being able to threaten to play basketball full-time, and so had at least a little leverage in contract negotiations. All the same, to make ends meet he often played BOTH sports, which inevitably entailed fatigue and injuries, which inevitably lead to a lot of drinking to deal with the pain. Mrs. Conley doesn't shy away from dealing with that issue head on, and maintains the position that Mr. Conley is/was always a good man struggling with major problems. As a result, both of them come across as sincere, loving people who, despite these difficulties and Mr. Conley's constantly being on the road, have been married for over 50 years now.

The other thing that really comes through in the book is that Mr. Conley is an absolute card, a fun-loving guy with a big heart who's liable to say/do anything at any given moment.

So, there are A LOT of really great stories in the book, but for the moment I'll stick to this one: Gene Conley, Pumpsie Green, and their quest to go to Jerusalem (mentioned here and here). If you've ever had too much to drink/smoke and set off with your friends on some kind of improbable journey scripted for a mid-80s coming of age movie, you know exactly the kind of thing I'm referring to. I'll omit some details, but it's pretty much like this: after a tough loss in NY, the Red Sox team bus was stuck in traffic. Conley announced he had to pee and was getting off the bus to go to the bathroom at a local bar. On the way out he tapped Pumpsie Green and said, "Let's go." They went, and when they came out of the bar there was no bus. What followed was several days of being AWOL from the Sox while they partied in NY, culminating in the decision to go to Jerusalem. Which didn't work out.

Having read about this in Mr. Conley's bio, I'd love to get in touch with Mr. Green, but it seems no one has any info on how to find him. Makes Pumpsie Green all the more legendary. So, a while back I started signing off on the blog with props to Mr. Green, borrowing words from an old-school Boston disc jockey. I think it's pretty appropriate, and maybe Mr. Green will eventually turn up. I'd certainly like to know if, after the first unsuccessful trip, the two of them ever got to Jerusalem.

In conclusion, thank you once again, Mr. and Mrs. Conley, for signing the card and the book.

Have a great weekend everybody, and have a good night Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Some thoughts on the Aki trade

I try to keep the negativity to a minimum around here. That isn't because I'm naturally upbeat or optimistic. It's just that I'm on here to have fun, blog about baseball, baseball cards, CC, Gomes and few other players, and make some trades.

That said, I'm about to let some negatives flow.

First up: the Aki trade, particularly the take on it by the good folks over here. I'm no fan of the Bay, mostly because it seems to be run by a legion of self-professed stat gurus who eat up whatever the Rays GM is serving. Well, sure, Andrew Friedman is a solid GM, but for a team with a small budget and uncertain window of opportunity as a consequence, he's looking more like Steve Phillips than Theo Epstein. Lets review:

Edwin Jackson for Matt Joyce? Depending on what the purpose of the trade was, the verdict is still out on this one. Insofar as the Rays acquired a bat we needed to play RF last season, thus filling a was a BUST. And before you ask, no, I do not think turning over a corner OF position to a platoon of journeyman OF is a viable alternative. Ever.

Signing Pat Burrell? I'm sure Pat's a great guy, but he didn't come up through the system like the other guys on the Rays I root for, soooo.....let's just say that if I turned in a job performance like that this year, I'd be unemployed ex post haste. He's a DH-type with limited defensive skills. AND Adam Dunn would have been cheaper, better, and younger. I don't care if he's a lefty and Burrell is a righty. This was the wrong move.

Kazmir for a bunch of dudes? I understand why, but I don't get the what, as in who did the Rays get in return? I know, guys like Alex Torres, Matt Sweeney, and Sean Rodriguez....but this leads me to the Aki trade.

This trade is not an example of "exploiting market inefficiencies." This trade is an example of squandering one's resources. If Rodriguez is a key acquisition in the Kaz trade, this still means that they now have increased the glut of middle infielders in the organization (Bartlett, Zobrist, Brignac, Rodriguez, Aybar, Beckham). Getting rid of Aki for a bag of balls may be a start, but it continues a strange trend of redundancy. Are we trying to win this year? Next year? In 2020? Even if Zobrist takes over in RF and Brignac goes to 2B...why are we trading for depth where we already have it? I included Aybar in this list only because the Bay guys did...but who on earth believes Aybar is a solution defensively? He's got a great bat but would seem limited at 2B. Do we send him away for a A-ball arm and some pine tar? Why can't we just order pine tar and ball instead of trading away players for these things?

No matter how you slice this...what is going on? And all you could get in return was a middle innings arm? And what holes does this fill? Besides landing us some extra batting practice balls, of course.

And before you ask: yes, I do believe CC is next on the block the moment the Rays fall out of the race next year, if they fall out, which I hope they don't. And yes, the D-Rays Bay guys love this possibility. And yes, I am decidedly on the other side of the aisle on that one as well.

At some point you have to put your chips on the table and try to win. The time for the Rays is now.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Squirrel Strikes Again: Roy Sievers Part II

Not so long ago I posted about some mail from Roy "Squirrel" Sievers, 1949 ROY and a hard-hitting OF/1B for 17 seasons with the Browns, Senators, White Sox, and Phillies. He was kind enough to sign two cards for me, as well as answer a few questions about his career.

When I first sent those cards off, unbeknownst to me, Daddy D had stuck a 1961 Sievers in the mail that arrived a few days after I wrote Mr. Sievers. Additionally, my dad and I had several conversations about mid-50's baseball, all of which in one way or another made their way back to the Washington Senators and a friend of my dad's who today might be the only Nats fan in existence. Well, really wished I included Daddy D's card (as a surprise for him later) and I really wanted to give the others to my dad and his friend, but that's three cards and I only had two. Great idea, poor execution.

Until I decided to write to Mr. Sievers again and (quite humbly) ask for a couple of more autos. I hope I wasn't too annoying, and a big "Thank you" is on the mail, but these are really going to make a Merry Christmas for the old men in my life.

First up: 1953 Topps.
I really, really dig this card. It's happy Mr. Sievers, having returned to the majors after a brief stint back in the minors. LOVE the two-tiered grandstand over his right shoulder, sparsely populated with fans before or after a game, hints of the cityscape filling in the rest of the space behind him. There are even a few clouds up there: an absolute classic from the '53 set. Here's the back:
The '53s are slightly oversized for modern cards and awesome. The kind of info included on the back reminds up how much the game has changed culturally in the past 60 years. Not only did Mr. Sievers have an off-season job, but he was an inspector in an auto plant. Can't imagine ANYONE playing in the Series doing anything like that.

And then there's this card, 1950 Bowman:
It's the RC, and it's signed ROY '49. There's some really nice symmetry in that. This card is beautiful, and everything I dig about the best of the early '50s Bowmans. I even picked up another copy just to have an unsigned copy. It looks like Mr. Sievers is in foul territory behind the left field line, with the center field stands being behind him. We've got the large scoreboard and the empty stands back there, maybe a few smokestacks beyond that. It's a great posed shot, and the colors are tremendous, but it really gives you a sense of the player in a down moment, before or after a game, when there's no one else around but some guys taking extra swings in the cage and some rookie named Sievers posing for his first baseball card in a time when baseball cards were no big deal.
Thanks again Mr. Sievers!

Have a good one everybody and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Trading Post: Canadian Blue

A while back I'd gotten news of a mid-70's 3D Vida Blue being available...after some correspondence with Captain Canuck over at Waxaholic, the card has arrived. Check this out:

This card is one of the straight up gems of my Blue collection, which I'll try to get up ASAP. The scan of the card completely flattens out the technology here, so you're not going to get a good sense of what this looks like in person. For starters, the background is awesome, a really well done, interesting shot of the stadium behind Blue. There's no one else there, and the park is empty. We get the foul pole marking the distance out towards where there's a break in the out bowl and we get nothing but sky beyond, all of which conspires to make Blue loom that much larger in the foreground. And let's not forget: back in the day, Blue was HUGE. Even though his career was derailed by drug abuse, he was an effective pitcher until he retired.

Other Blues: a 1986 Topps.
It's almost like an update of the card above, but without the other half of the stadium behind him on the right the card doesn't have the same imposing feel as the one above. Here Blue's coming off and 8-8, 4.47 ERA season, which is nowhere near as imposing as the kind of nasty stuff he brought in the early-mid 1970's. However, seems like a 4.47 ERA these days will get you CY Young consideration in the AL, so I guess it's not that bad. Still, even the man himself isn't quite as intense. Blue at twilight.

But then the following year we had this:
No glove, no other accouterments of baseball, just Blue in his Giants uni, arms crossed, looking rather self-satisfied. And why not? In '86 he went 10-10 with a 3.27 ERA, a nice bounce back season after the previous year. I read that he went into retirement only because he'd tested positive for drug use, and rather than face a suspension and the disgrace that goes with such things decided to go away quietly. Now, coming off a year like he had in '86 it's obvious that he still had something left in the tank. Compared to some of the users out there today....make of that what you will.

Then we have a Fleer sticker of Msr. Blue:
This card is awesome. It screams 1980s, big hair, and sweatbands the size of one's forearms. It make the glove look almost like a giant, oversized plastic prop, or something off of photoshop disasters.

And finally, a 1980 BK card.
Gotta score the regular Topps for comparison, but I'll start by saying that if BK still did old school baseball cards they'd get more of my money. As in, I'd eat there, which is something I haven't done since...well...about 1980. This has to be a spring training portrait, but it looks like he's in CO or something with huge, rolling hills in the background. All in all a solid card, especially for a collaboration between burger people and Topps. And nothing like BK's later efforts, which are a sad, pale rendition of what could have been.

Thanks again for the Blues, Captain! Hope you enjoyed the Braves I sent.

Have a good one everybody and good night Pumpsie Green, whever you are!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Trading Post: Halloween Cards from the Wicked One

Not Satan but Ortega, Wicked Ortega.

Between work and working in the yard, blogging about baseball cards has taken a momentary backseat. But I'm back, at least until compa wants my butt outside again.

A few trades have come in in the past few days, and multiple shout outs are in order. First up: some CCs and assorted Rays from Wicked Ortega.
Since the Rays are coming off of back-to-back winning seasons, I really dig this card. How bad were they only a few years ago? 518-775 bad, as in Little League mercy rule bad. As in terrible. Carl, however, looks like he knows something we don't in this photo. Maybe it's that the brick and ivy backdrop is ridiculous given that the Rays play in an ultramodern dome? Or better, that the Rays would be ruling the division the following year.
I'm digging the UD Masterpieces, albeit about 18 months late. This particular card might have been better done sideways to get a full body shot of the slide, the catcher, the ball coming in, etc., to give a fuller sense of the drama unfolding here, but who am I to complain? It's a solid B in a world full of F- cards, so I'll take it. And how does everyone feel about the parallels? We have a red frame and a black frame, but they are essentially the same card.
Mario over at Wax Heaven did a hatchet job a while back on UD X if I remember correctly, and I kind of get it. The "X" is a design, but I'm not sure how it's been sustained over multiple years. The formula seems to be "Player plus x equals new design." Next year: rinse, repeat. Love the die cuts, like the idea and the design...just not maybe every year. This is a well-done, solid card....but would I want the same basic card design next year?

Finally, wicked sent over some Peñas. I've gone into some depth about the compa's Peña-love, and these cards only added fuel to the fire. Thanks wicked. I guess. That said, check these out:
The compa laughed out loud at these. "He looks like he's dancing!" When I think of all the goofy baseball action shots out there, this card is definitely near the top, and leads me to believe that there simply aren't enough goofy action shots on baseball cards. Sure, Peña's not putting on the most heroic of moves, and this catch is beyond awkward, but it's a solid reminder that he's a GG first baseman. It takes A LOT of talent to look that crazy making a catch that difficult.

Thanks again for the CCs and Rays, Wicked!

Have a great one everybody, and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!