Thursday, December 31, 2009

David Price Highlights: 2006 UD Minors

Don't forget about the Nelson Reimold jersey relic trade bait I've got up if you are interested.

This is one of those cards that a lot of people feel doesn't count because it goes back to a time before Price had played in the Majors. Whatever, it's a great card.

Now, I'm ready to admit that I love this card for reasons that might only be relevant to me and a few others. First, it's at the DBAP, home to the Durham Bulls and USA Baseball, Price's team when this shot  was taken. If you are ever in Durham, NC during baseball season you have to go to a game. The park is beautiful. Compa and I have gone to several games when the gates opened (about two hours before game time) just to sit and drink beer in an empty park and be alone watching the players warm up. It's a great space to watch baseball.

Second, it brings to the fore a DBAP tradition: sumo wrestling. It's one of the promos the Bulls do in between innings to keeps casual fans and folks with families interested and in the game. I'll admit, these sorts of things wore on me over time. We had a ticket package with some friends and went to a lot of games, and we went for the games, not this junk. Well, I went to a few Charleston Riverdogs games when I was homes last summer. Let me tell you, the promotions there are so over the top I'll never again complain about the ones in Durham. So yes, I get sentimental about the sumos now and then.

Third, I think it captures the camaraderie of non-big league ball. This is a canned moment but Price and Arbencina are hamming it up for the camera, even enjoying themselves a bit. It's a nice, goofy moment, the kind of thing I wish I could see with a beer and the compa from up in the empty stands.

Stay good in the New Year and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Trade Bait: 2006 Bowman Nolan Reimold jersey relics

So, here's what I have to offer:

I picked these up in Iowa over Christmas. I have a few more O's relics to be trading soon, but these are the first two I'll put up.

I'd primarily like to score some CCs, Gomes, Prices, or Niemanns I don't already have (more or less in that order and I'll get the non-CCs up ASAP today) but my broader interests can be found here. I'll trade these together or apart. Since my main aim is to get some CCs I'll take offers from now till Sunday and, if no CC offers come up I'll go for others.

Here are the backs, one of which is a little bit chipped but the other of which is fine. The chipping doesn't show in the scan.

Leave a comment and drop me a line with an offer if you're interested!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tex Clevenger is the AL Wally Moon

I'm in Iowa until Wednesday with limited scanner access. Yesterday's card and today's are both Daddy D cards but I've had to get the jpgs online. I've done a couple of Wally Moon posts (here and here), and I think everyone agreed that Wally Moon had the all-time greatest unibrow. When I saw this 1960 Tex Clevenger while going through Daddy D's common box, I knew that a challenger for the title had emerged:

That brow is classic. But is it enough to displace Wally Moon?

As a player Clevenger had a solid 8 year career mostly as a reliever and spot starter, compiling a 36-37 record with a 4.15 ERA and a 94 ERA+. What's strange is that he retired after the 1962 season at the age of 29, a season which may have been his finest (he had an ERA+ of 133). Today he owns a car dealership in Portersville, CA, Clevenger Ford. Looks like that, at age 77, he could really kick you a@@ if he were so inclined.

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

Monday, December 28, 2009

Harry Chiti: The Ultimate PTBNL

I know. It's debatable whether or not Harry Chiti was actually traded for himself. Still, there are stories that are larger than the truth to the extent that they are are more important and more essentially true than what actually happened. Many baseball stories are like that. Does it really matter if the Babe called his shot? Was Norm Cash really the first guy to use the infamous "pictures of your wife" pick-off move, doing so on no less a star than Mickey Mantle? Who cares? Those stories convey deeper truths about the game and how we relate to it as fans than anything found in the box scores. 

If you read the sponsor's comment on Chiti's BB Reference page (linked above) it's pretty apparent that he was the kind of guy you'd have to be to be traded for yourself and not lose your sanity: "A big ole guy with a catcher's mitt." Sure, he bounced about, but you get the feeling Chiti played ball because he enjoyed it, not because he expected to be a star or make a million dollars. A lifetime .238 hitter, Chiti's best year might have been 1958 when he batter .268 with 9 HR and 44 RBI in  103 games for the A's. Not stellar, but a lot of guys have had solid careers as backup catchers. 

He bounced around a lot, but is most famous for having been purchased by the Mets from the Indians in 1962, then being sent back to the Indians for cash. It's not being "traded for himself," but "traded for himself" is a much better story:  "Chiti was traded for a PTBNL, then was sent back as that same PTBNL." It resists the notion that what we do, at home or in our jobs, is reducible to a simple sum or collection of physical objects. And let's not forget that John Odom, the minor leaguer traded for some bats, had a hard time coping with the trade's aftermath and never quite got over it, sadly taking his own life only six months later.

In this 1960 we have a close up Chiti looking rather hopeful. I love the texture of the green-painted concrete of the dugout roof behind him and the blurred flat-top of the kid in the stands hovering over his right shoulder. Just a big ole guy with a catcher's mitt traveling city to city, a few towns and several years before the end of his sojourning and the situation for which he'll forever be remembered.

Sorry if this post was a bit of a downer. On a brighter note, I have a stack of cards to trade when I get back up north, so those will be posted soon.

Have a good one and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are (I think I have your address, so be expecting a letter!).

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Random Rays Coolness from Saints of the Cheap Seats

I was sitting there one day when compa brought in an unexpected package. I say "unexpected" because she assumed, incorrectly, I had been ordering contraband on ebay. For a moment I thought it was something I didn't remember purchasing (end of semester grading leads to a beer or six now and then). Fortunately for me, it was a pack of Rays goodness from Saints of the Cheap Seats, sent over "just because." Compa was stoked for, among other reasons, I hadn't spent us into the poorhouse, so I let her pick out her faves.

"Julio Lugo looks crazy." And I'd have to agree. The "375" on the outfield wall contributes to the chaotic action on the card. Did he ever come down or did he just float off into space?

"This card's just weird. It says '84 but it's obviously not '84. Are there Orwellian overtones here?" Brazelton was a first-round pick who never quite lived up to expectations but really, who does? It's strange to think of this set as being in the neo-vintage genre, but there it is: a redo of the classic '84 Donruss. And calling it "Originals" is pretty ironic, given that the design is a repeat.

"Whoa." I'd have to agree. This card didn't scan well at all, so you'll have to imagine that it's half-way between an Action Packed card and a relic. McCracken is slight raised (Action Packed) and the MLB/SPX logos are recessed into the card like a foil relic. Strange, but very awesome. McCracken is a NC boy (big plus) but he went to Dook (big minus). He had a solid career and bounced around between several teams, first getting shot at a full-time gig with the Rays in '98, a year which was one of his best (the BEST being 2002). The '99 UD SPx card brings up the fact that '98 was his first full-time gig and that he responded with what was then his best season, but by '99 he was no longer a full-timer. Strange how those things work.

Thanks again Saints! Have a good one and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Guy Walks into a Bar: Shoeless Joe Reprints from Iowa

Which after Kinsella's book and the movie, may as well be Shoeless Joe's second home. Being from SC, one one my growing interests is ballplayers from my home state and the Carolinas in general. Makes me feel connected to my roots despite the fact I'm 3000 miles away in an igloo just down the block from Capt'n Canuck. My correspondence with one of the dean's of Carolina ball, Lou Brissie, has been particularly awesome.

So, when I came across these in Iowa last month I pulled the trigger. I asked the guy, "Can I take a look at those," to which he responded, "You know those are reprints, right?"

Now, I'm reasonably intelligent and was rather non-plussed. I mean, the cards were marked $1 (with a 50% discount), and anyone would assume that these cards were reprints. I will never be able to afford the real thing, and even if I had the cash must admit I'd be more likely to make ginormous charitable donation than throw down for one of these.

I dig the Play Ball cards in general, and this one is AMAZING. Joe taking a huge rip, with an expression on his face like he's watching the ball far off in the distance. Even looks like there's some chaw in his right cheek. That back is also nice:

That's one thing people don't know about Shoeless Joe: he was traded around a lot before going to the Sox. Connie Mack of the A's thought he was just an illiterate, homesick rube. Each their own, but as a SC boy way up here in the snow, I can say I'm feeling a little Shoeless Joe these days. No pine forests, no Spanish moss, no oyster roasts, damn right I'm homesick now and again.

Next up:

Oh yes, the Cracker Jack. One day I'd like to own a common from this set, or maybe a Charles Bender in terrible condition. This card will never be mine, but the reprint is fine by me. I wonder if that's his bat Black Betty in this photo or the one above. Or if Betty survived UD's wood chipper. Hope to God the answer is yes. The back of this card is also pretty awesome:

Unlike the Play Ball card, this one gets his birthplace correct, as in it's SC, not NC. There is a difference. Moreover, my mom is from Pickens County, where Shoeless Joe was born, and that's a big point of pride for a lot of folks in that area. I wonder how much 100 boxes of Cracker Jacks would have cost so you could land the whole set.

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

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays

BJ Upton and Carl Crawford Cards wish you and yours Happy Holidays.
(Man I love this card)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

More Bargain Box Lovin': Late 60s Willie Mays Insert

I'm in Iowa now, back to the scene of my best bargain box crimes hoping to stock up for trades.

I can't remember who recently posted on these, but if I remember correctly Matt over at the #5 Baseball Card Type Collection had left a comment saying he had the complete set, and now and again would throw down nine innings with other folks at local shows. That, people, is pretty awesome.

Well, I got this over Thanksgiving down here in Iowa, at another shop down there, the same one where I scored the '64 Oliva for compa. I'm going back today and plan on RAIDING that place for some serious trade bait.

This is my first card of one of the guys in the greatest player ever debate, Willie Mays. Can't even afford the off-grade stuff, so when I saw this in the Bargain Box it went in the pile. It drives me nuts that the closest shop where I can get decently prices relics is 1 hour away, and that the shop where I got this beaut is 10 hours away, but I digress. How much was it? In a 2/$1 box that offers a steeper discount of 5/$2, so this late-60s Willie Mays cost me 40 cents. Sure, it ain't mint, but I'l take it.

As for the card, my first question is, if Mays was a HR, what was Aaron? Overall, and has been noted elsewhere, this insert set might be the first "Heritage set" insofar as it resembles the '51 Topps game cards. Both this card and the '51s are about 1/2 the size of the over-sized early 50s Topps cards, and 3/4 or so size of the current standard BB card size. I know, the '51 is generally considered dogmeat next to the '52 and anything else from the '50s, but it's still a nice set and generally A LOT more affordable. Ditto for this game card. I know the others from the late-60s are more desirable, but this fits in my budget, especially at 40 cents.

So here we've got a portrait of Mays, we've got the signature, the HR in bold block letters. It's not the 52 Topps or '52 Bowman, but I'll take it.

I also need to shout out to Daddy D for having footed the bill for my cards at that shop as an early Christmas present. If I had known that was the plan you bet your a@@ I would have pulled the trigger on the '60 Bob Gibson I was eyeing. Thanks again, Daddy D, have a good one everybody and a good night Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Trading Post: On Card Autos

So, an epic trade with On Card Autos. Around 75 Rays, numerous CCs, several Rays relics. Awesome.

Another copy of this AMAZING Gomes card. Man, I can't get enough of it. Jonny's defense takes a lot of crap on the message boards, and a bit unfairly I may add. He's not the fastest dude around, but he'll give you all-out effort. Check out this card depicting a defensive play at Fenway. Great stuff, and a great card.

I don't like to rip on anybody around these parts, so I'll say this: either as a DH or RF I want this man on the roster next year. For Jebus' sake.

And speaking of defense, one of the relics from the trade, an Aubrey Huff. Man, is there a position Huff didn't play for the Rays? He's definitely under appreciated, basically the face of the franchise pre-CC. Funny thing about this card is it showcases his defense but celebrates his two HR in a victory over the Yankis. Weird.

This is a great BJ Upton expression, like a Bart Simpson "Who, me?" BJ was an uber prospect for so long it's easy to forget he was born in 1984. Dude's young, and has only begun to tap his potential. One of those guys who's so talented, so athletic you think he's lazy or loafing but he's not----he just makes it look easy. Looking for a big comeback season this year after a down year last year, right Boss Man, Junior!

Compa says that here "CC looks like he's about to kick some a@@." Right on.

And finally, some trivia:

I have very few of the UD Documentary cards, and at some point need to get the ones from Sonny's CG shutout of the White Sox and the Rays/O's double header on September, the Rays games I got to in '08. So, who's on the front of this card? Kazmir. By extension, who was the young hurler who led the Rays to victory?

James Shields. Pretty lazy of UD to just throw any old Rays pitcher on the front as if most fans wouldn't know the difference. (And yes, sadly I'm sure very few did---aren't many Rays fans out there)

Thanks again On Cards Autos! Glad you dug the cards. Have a good one and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Trading Post: Sewing Machine Guy

I spotted the '07 Turkey Red needs on Sewing Machine Guy's blog and, just by happenstance, had an SP he needed. I had purchased a few budget packs at Target for fun and was stoked I could send one of those cards along to help someone out. He offered, in return, something amazing:

Your eyes do not deceive you, friends. That is a Bowman Chrome auto of Joey Gomes, Jonny's younger brother. This is supremely bada@@, and Sewing Machine Guy I'll tell you that getting this is pretty awesome. The highest he made it was AA, and he and Jonny were both in the Rays system at the same time. That must have been a lot of fun but it must have also been difficult. I mean, only being human, seeing your brother make the bigs while you're still on all-night buses across the southeast---that's gotta be bittersweet. (I say that as someone with a PhD from a public state university whose younger sibling got into an Ivy League school---you're happy for your sibling, but you're also a tiny bit jealous) It looks like Joey is now out of ball, having last played for the Joliet Jackhammers of the Northern League in 2008.

Well, before he sent the package out SMG ripped some more Turkeys and pulled this. He was gracious enough to send it along after I asked for it, which was an awesome gesture:

I was a graduate student at UNC for some years (too many years) and at one point Andrew was a student in one of my classes. I honestly had no idea who he was until I read a Peter Gammons article about Miller's dominating the Cape Cod League on summer, even being named MVP. Seriously, he was a like any other student, only one with a million dollar left arm. I found one of his old quizzes when I was moving out of my office to move to my job, and at some point I'll cut the sig and make it a "certified auto" (haha). I don't have many Millers, mostly because they were insanely expensive until recently. Sadly, I can now pick them up because Andrew's having prolonged difficulty translating his game to the majors. Hopefully he'll turn things around---compa and I are really pulling for him!

Thanks again SMG. Have a good one and good night Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

CC HIghlights: 2009 Topps UDH from Play at the Plate

I have seen this card on the ebay and various blogs, and I have absolutely coveted it. Something along the lines of "CC in triumph over the world." What's not to love about this card? We've got CC holding the MVP trophy aloft after his amazing catch. Again, how did this gentleman NOT win a GG this year?

And the card is very real time given that this was from this year's AS game. Adding to that is the grounds crew in the background, and when was the last time the grounds crew made it into a card? You wonder if those guys have stacks of these cards somewhere and will break them out at this year's Christmas parties. Gives the card a very informal , spur-of-the-moment feel. And have you ever seen a guy smile like that? CC is STOKED, and it shows. Great photo, great card, great moment.

We also get the full story on the back, which is another great touch:

I have a package from Play at the Plate to thank. Also included were another CC for the collection, as well as a number of UD documentary cards. Very, very cool, and much appreciated. A package is in the offing in exchange.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tony Oliva: I'm Glad He's Got a Few Years on Me

I've scored some nice cards from 50 cent boxes lately. Last Friday I scored this '69 Tony Oliva for the compa. In general, though, the card shop in town doesn't do the best job of helping me out with my player collecting needs. There are several 5000 count boxes you can pick through but nothing is in order and yes, as a player collector it absolutely drives me nuts.

"Do you have...?"

"Check the box."

It kills me, but sometimes they have some beat up vintage I'll gladly take off their hands for 50 cents. Not what I went in for, but after going through 1000 cards I'm not remotely interested in for any reason I'll take it. Tony definitely fits that bill and even fits the player collections.

First, the photo is nice. It's a typical posed shot but Tony's not looking at the bat, the cameraman, or the viewer. He is looking somewhere off to his right at who knows what. In fact, it gives the photo a playful quality better suited for a GQ shoot than your typical Topps baseball card.

As for the card itself, what can I say? It's straight off off POBC's dream list. Wrinkles? Check. Creases? Check? Tape stains? Check. Massive piece of half-torn scrapbook page still glued to the back 40 years after it was first put in? Check.

In short, it's everything a well loved card should be.

It also nicely compliments this card, which I scored out of a 5/$2 box when we were last in Iowa.

Jay Ward played parts of three season with Minnesota and Cincy, and let's be honest: there couldn't be a bigger contrast in demeanor between these dudes. Ward is deathly serious and has a Marine's haircut. He's out to make the team, not taking any prisoners, and will not be denied. Oliva is sticking his tongue out at us, just having a good time. That's the kind of screw it whatever, happy go lucky self-confidence we could all use a little more off. You get the feeling the Oliva just knows he belongs, just know he's good, and that he'd be that way if he were playing ball, acting Shakespeare, or flipping burgers. The kind of guy who will offer your compa mini-powdered donuts, which will then have her taking about said donut offer for, oh, the next seven months.

I mean, that guy on the XX commercials has NOTHING on Tony Oliva.

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

Friday, December 18, 2009

Pete Rose and Done

After 23 years and significant help from those in the blogging community I have completed the '86 Topps set. Friday afternoon the compa gave me a $5 budget at the local card shop (I went over by $3) and came across #741, the Pete Rose MGR card and the last one I needed to complete the set.

I dig the bowl cut and I dig the smile. It's a real tragedy what's happened to him since. Given the current state of the game I don't think anyone could make an argument for why Charlie Hustle doesn't belong in the HOF. I also like how in this card he's in the dugout, off the field, visibly in the role of MGR.

Thanks again to everyone who helped me out with the '86. Now I'm only 1 card away from the '76.

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

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Don't know what ya got...: Part 2, Elliot Johnson

I know I misspelled Chris Richard's last name "Richards" several times in the last post. I had to mention it, or compa would be packing her things.

Like Jonny Gomes, I imagine that your average Rays fan 10 years from now will not know who Elliot Johnson is. This says a lot more about our culture and our preference for the flashy and trendy than these two ball players. Elsewhere I've posted my feelings about Gomes and his instrumental role in serving notice to the rest of the AL that the Rays were no longer doormats, so this post is about Johnson and his role in those same events.

First, Elliot is a super fan friendly guy, like Richard. A friend of mine one complained about how some of the Bulls, especially in the wake of their success over the past few years and the Rays WS run, basically gave up on interacting with the fans. I don't know whether or not that's 100% true, but I do know that I have seen kids standing 20 deep, all screaming "Elliot," waiting to get a sig, and that Elliot has stood there and signed until everyone had an auto. I never asked for one myself, which I now kinda regret, but there you have it. (As an aside, I similarly watched the O's Adam Jones sign for about 30-minutes prior to the Rays/O's double header two seasons ago. Again, no auto for me, but that made quite an impression)

Second, and like Richard, Eliot is no slouch as a player. Elliot has a decent bat for a middle infielder and Rays Index has this play from the Int'l League Championship as the Rays organization's play of the year. Elliot only got a brief cup of coffee with the Rays in 2008, and it looks like this past season will have been his last with the organization (scroll down to the last bullet point). Although he advanced pretty quickly through the Rays' system he has been a victim of organizational depth as much as anything else. I mean, without naming names, there are guys on ML rosters whose stats are far less.

Third, he's another guy who plays all out. The first brawl Gomes was involved in? It came after this play. I'm no unbiased observer, so I'll tell you a different play at the plate story for context. When I was a Little Leaguer I was a pretty fat kid who ate, slept, and drank baseball. I was a solid hitter, but obviously no great runner of the bases. Championship game, I'm on second and the batter hits a soft single to right. The coach sends me home, which I still think is one of the stupider decisions I've ever been a part of. Ball beats me by a bit, OK a lot, catcher is blocking the plate, so I absolutely blew the kid up. Seeing as how the ball beat me I'm initially called out. But the ball is now over in the on-deck circle, so the call is reversed and I'm called safe. UNTIL the other ump comes in from left and re-reverses the call, saying that not only am I out because runners coming home MUST slide, but that technically I should also be tossed from the game. I had no idea about the rule, and let me be square with you: that wasn't the worst thing that ever happened to my fat 13 year old self, but it was up there. Between my teammates and coach calling me out the next few innings things really sucked. Of course we lost and I caught unmentionable Hell for it from all involved. As far as I know no one ever got on the coach for a) sending the fat ass home from second on the play or b) no bothering to inform us we had to slide going in to home.

At any rate, this is all to say I'm totally behind Elliot Johnson on his collision with Cervelli now and forever. My fat 13 year-old self would agree. That is how the game should be played. If not, then don't block the plate, period, or go back to Little League. As for the current narrative, the next day the Yankis retaliated, Gomes clowned several Yankis, and the rest is history.

I hadn't thought too much about that play until I saw this card over at a post at Play at the Plate:

A signed Elliot Johnson depicting the Cervelli play. Improbably enough, his base card is also of the same play:

Both are from the 2008 Stadium Club set, and I'm going to try to get my hands on them ASAP after the first of the year. Hopefully by trade, then by bounty, and finally via flea-bay if all else fails. Not only is this a great card of one Hell of a player, but it also depicts THE moment when the Rays fortunes changed for the better. Who knew that one hard play at the plate could send a team to the World Series?

Thanks for the memories Elliot, loved watching you play.

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

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Don't know what ya got...: Part 1, Chris Richard

til it's gone. Cue the hairbands, people.

After the last post I've been thinking about how I miss Minor League ball. I've said it 1000 times, but I follow the Rays because I've lived in/near cities with Rays minor league affiliates, Charleston, SC and Durham, NC. It's always awesome to see the hot prospects come through on their way to the bigs (Price, David) or get stuck going over the basics before making it large in the bigs (Upton, BJ), but you watch the lesser guys over the years to the point you start to look through them. You just assume, like you, they'll ALWAYS be there.

I realized after my last post I left a lot unsaid about Chris Richard and Elliot Johnson, both of whom are professional ballplayers. I know, any dude who gets paid is a pro, but bear with me.

The words "throwback" gets tossed around a lot these days, too much in fact, but these guys are real throw back type players. Two more who come to mind are guys like former Bull Darnell McDonald and his brother Donzell. Darnell made an opening day roster for the first time in his career this year with the Reds at the age of 31. I watched Donzell play for the Leones of the Mexican League a few years ago when they won the championship. A dude who plays in the Bigs for a million plus per is NOT a throwback type guy. Guys like these embody it.

And I'll admit, I now realize that what I miss about watching Minor League ball is these guys, the guys you root for to have September call ups or to make the Opening Day Roster once, or one last time. Hell, they all started as HOT prospects but hit a wall somewhere whether due to injury, ability, or lack of opportunity.

I was doing my MA at Johns Hopkins when Richards came to Baltimore. He had tantalizing 2000, hitting 13 HRs in 221 ABs with the O's, and great things were expected. He had 15 HRs in 542 ABs the following year and was dealt to Colorado in 2003. I remember him coming to Durham a few years ago, and it almost felt like a mini-reunion although dude has no idea who the Hell I am. He didn't see the bigs again until last season when injuries to Carlos Peña pressed him into service. He didn't bat all that well and I remember the game where he made his only error. I was so excited for him to be up I felt sick after watching it. Another Chris Richard fact: he came out to the bar where Bulls fans congregated to watch the WS when the Rays made it a few years ago. How awesome is that?

Part II on Elliot Johnson is coming tomorrow. Feel free to share any stories you've got about players you've enjoyed watching, and beginning now if you have any spare Chris Richards or Elliot Johnsons I'll take them off your hands.

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

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bulls on Parade

We do it like this. Having moved from the Durham area about 7 months ago, compa and I missed out on seeing the Bulls win the International League Championship. And then the Bricktown Showdown for the AAA Championship. Which sucked for us, at least a little, seeing as last year we sat there and watched the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankis take to to the Bulls in the International League Championship. Nothing so much against the AAA Yankis as their fans who, despite being AAA Yankis fans, were definitely ready for the bigs in terms of being some of the most....well, I digress.

We missed out on all the post-championship euphoria. We watched the showdown on ESPN2, which was great, but we missed out on being there with our friends and the Bulls. There was even a Bulls event where you got to go into the dugout out onto the field and meet Chris Richard and Elliot Johnson. Well, my former neighbor over at Noboru Aota was kind enough to send me a post card. One signed by the aforementioned Chris Richard and Elliot Johnson. Awesome!

Man Adam, I can't thank you enough. For those of you who don't know that's the old park, the one in Bull Durham, located a few blocks from where the Bulls currently play.

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

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Warren Hacker We Hardly Knew Ye

Well, there was no immediate response to my '55 Bowman Cubs post, so I figured I was in the clear. I got a great deal on the cards, had done my due diligence by offering them to Cubs fans in the blogosphere, and now I could keep them with a clear conscience.

Then I started hammering out a trade with On Card Autos, a Cubs-centric blog, and the cards became part of the deal. The Warren Hacker is my favorite, and before he heads out for better digs this post is for him.

Aside from the typical '55 Bowman greatness there's nothing too special about the front. You have Hacker in a posed pitching shot, arms above his head, lights on the edge of the ballpark rising in the background. The lights tell us this isn't Wrigley, which is odd if only because Hacker is a Cub and you'd think they'd get his photo in the friendly confines. Any guesses on where this is? My favorite is the back:

Instead of a bio, which seems to be most common for the '55s, we have Hacker's advice to America's youth. In a world where "athletes aren't role models," we have this blurb that equates sports with citizenship. I get too cynical at times about the state of things (I'm in education and yep, I fear we're all heading straight to Hell most of the time, despite whatever we might do), and this strikes me as a pretty awesome gesture. I wonder if this was Hacker's idea or Bowman's? I haven't seen enough of the '55s to know if there are others like it, but it would be cool to know. Either way, hats off to Mr. Hacker (he passed away in 2002).

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

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dear Tampa Bay...

Re-sign this man. Like yesterday. This is your opportunity. Do it NOW.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Blue Skies Ahead

Vida Blue says "D@#! right." After Captain Canuck sent me this awesome 3D Blue, Daddy D dig some digging around in the vastness of his secret bb card warehouse and produced this gem. 99% of all the vintage goodness I post comes from him, and he doles it out in packages with cryptic messages from which I have to divine why different given cards are special. After he saw Capt'n Canuck's card, he sent me this one along with a 3D Fergie Jenkins from the same year simply because these cards kick ass. Well, they are no Sportsflicks (ha ha), but they are pretty awesome. The 70's are often overlooked in terms of bb cards and design, mostly because they followed the 50s and 60s, but as a decade cards from the 70s definitely have their own thing going on, and it's pretty good.

Which leads me to today. I'm in a good mood: end of the semester (thank you sweet lord Jebus), and I can honestly say that, having spent the last few months settling in, I love my job. I mean, I dig teaching. From the BS excuses about missing assignments to watching students learn more about themselves, their culture, and other cultures, I really dig it. Kinda like Mr. Blue up there looks like he feels about baseball. And yes, I'm aware of the issues that ended his career early, but let a man have his moment. It's currently -20 where I live (seriously) but life is pretty alright at the moment.

I'm off to spend the rest of the night relaxing and sipping some Templeton Rye (any thoughts on how to trade whiskey endorsements for free product I'm all ears----that stuff is good). Have a great one everybody and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

CC HIghlights: 2007 Turkey Red

This is one of my favorite CCs, a shot of him diving to his left after a line drive. I got this card a while back (apologies if it was from a fellow blogger whose name I've forgotten; at 33 my memory comes and goes) and will admit it's one that has grown on me over time. CC's a HELL of a defensive player, but generally only gets credit for SBs or ripped for not having more power. As if tipping their collective hats to CC's offensive numbers, most cards showcase him running or batting, so these are a rarity.

In general I dig the Turkey Red. However, the portraits get repetitive after a while, which makes this card more exceptional for the set and how its player is usually portrayed. The colors of the OF wall behind him add to the overall feel, and the ad really fits the throwback field of the card and the Turkey set. The "Lines" can only be "Airlines," right? And that ties in with CC's flying throw the air after the ball, about to catch it but not quite yet. A moment, suspended indefinitely.

If you follow CC the back is a little old:
The scholarships he turned down, the SBs and triples, nothing about the GG defense on the front of the card. You've heard that stuff before, but overall this is an awesome card because of the amazing action shot on the front.

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

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

1959 Dale Long: WWFS?

As in, "What would Freud say?" The card is so comically phallic as to tend to self-conscious parody, I mean the guy's last name is "Long" and that's some of the strangest, most awkward bat positioning I've ever seen coupled with a camera angle that emphasizes Long's, err, bat.
You might have caught this over the NIght Owl's or in the NYT recently, but Long is one of three (!) left-handers that have logged a MLB game at catcher in the past, oh, 100 years or so. Both Daddy D and compa are left-handers, and to hear him tell it they should be a protected group of people under the law. He's full of trivia about "great left-handers" and killed me with a question about who the 3 left-handed catchers were.

It's funny, because that bit of info even made it on to the back of Long's '59.
But check it out: he's catching right-handed and there's no mention of why he was catching or had to use a 1B mitt in the first place. Poor left-handers---even when they do something os trivially historical significance the rest of us overlook their left-handedness.

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

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cubs Bait: 1955 Edition

Hey Cubs fans, I grabbed these are in Iowa over Thanksgiving. I bought them to keep, but since they kick ass I thought I'd throw them out and see if anyone would be interested in them (preference to anyone with CCs for trade). They ain't mint (the Hacker has an old-school crease), but they are nice cards. Leave a comment and/or drop me a line!

He's no Angel: Rocky Bridges

Take a look at this guy. But not for too long, because he might kick your a@@.
After having posted on Daddy Wags the other day, I'll come out of the gate gate saying that the lettering on the late-50's, early-60's Angels unis is really great, especially the LA on the hat. What was the big controversy about their name recently?

Anyway, Bridges had a solid 11-year career, making the AS squad in 1958. What's crazy about this card is he has this kind of "World's Most Interesting Man"-look about him, like he knows something you don't and he's not willing to key you in as to what it is. Moreover, the right cheek full of chew and no visible hair make him look more like a Marine in a moment of respite than a SS for the Angels having his picture taken for a BB card. He's also not even bothering to look at you/the camera/the photographer, precisely the kind of indifference you'd want from a military man, er SS.

What's best, though, is the cropping on this shot. Night Owl has done several excellent exposes on the subject, so I'll refer to his as the expert. Although Bridges's face is centered, his body is not. We pretty much get the full jersey, but if you look closely you'll notice we also get part of the left shoulder and arm, which look like he's got his hand on his hip and is actually leaning slightly to the right. The ease, the relaxation conveyed by those little details just underscores the things I pointed out above, making this card a kind of Ass-Kicker's American Gothic.

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

Friday, December 4, 2009

Old School Errors: Forrest Goes "Smoky"

First off, Smoky is from NC. Pretty appropriate for a guy from NC, where every house has an out door, indirect smoker in operation from May to late September.

What's not to like about a catcher who, despite having LIMITED speed, is still shown stealing a base on his '56 Topps card? And by "limited" I mean he was 1-2 in steal attempts in 1955 (he looks safe here) and 13-27 lifetime over 18 seasons. Guessing CC might have been able to show Smoky a thing or two. Or maybe Smoky was just that slow. At 5'8, 180 lbs. I imagine he had to get a pretty good head of steam going before hitting full stride.
Love how the back calls him "Smokey" while in both his sig and the front he's "Smoky." Admittedly, we folks from the South aren't much for spelling things how other folks might see fit to spell them, but that's pretty rich. Laziness in the Topps print room? Someone just assuming Smoky was an idiot who couldn't spell his own name? You can almost hear the editors and proofreaders arguing over that, finally deciding to go with "Smoky" on the front but "Smokey" on the back, just to be safe. It's the kind of confusion that makes the old school cards great, free of the manufactured "Pedroia with a Yankis Logo" crap that passes for errors and oddities these days.

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

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Daddy Wags

That's not part of the posed shot: Dude actually hit like that. And not just hit, but hit for decent power, totaling 37 HRs in 1962.
Daddy Wags's Baseball Reference Page Sponsor not only mentions the hand placement, but also the tragedy of his later life: he died homeless and alone. Again, coming off of Thanksgiving, just reminds me how thankful I am for the things I have. Hardballtimes also has a great writeup with some really choice quotes from the man himself. For example, despite his circumstances, Daddy Wags referred to his predicament as a radical lifestyle choice, like the hippies. Not only could Tim Lincecum learn a thing or two from Daddy Wags about what it takes to be a real hippy, but there's a dogged optimism in that statement, one that refuses to give in to self-pity against all odds. In one way or another we could all use a little Daddy Wags like that.