Monday, April 30, 2012

EJ with the Walkoff!

Way to go, man!

2005 Bowman EJ Rainbow: ¡Complete!

Watching the game tonight getting ready for a temporary cross-country move. I'm battening down the hatches to make major progress on my ttm projects this summer (Topps 1951-present and Topps Rookie AS Team) and was thinking about any projects I'd actually managed to finish. The CC collection is rolling along, but I haven't bought any wax and have yet to acquire any 2012 CCs.

So, what have I done? Recently the final card I needed to complete the 2005 Bowman Elliot Johnson rainbow popped up on eBay, the /5 red refractor. I held my breath for about a week while the auction wound down. Fortunately I was the only bidder, making this collection complete:
If I land a plate at some point, great. If not, great. It looks good to me!

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

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Everybody Hurts: CC Edition

It's been a while since I posted anything about CC, but it's been a while since he's played. According to reports, CC is going to talk with THE Dr. James Andrews about his elbow. Ugh.

So I thought I'd throw this card out there. When they first came out they sold for WAY too much, about 6 months went by, one sold for $20 BIN, and then this copy rolled around at auction and I managed to scoop it up. It's actually the second Brock/CC relic I own, but this one is definitely my favorite.

First, the symmetry of the design is awesome, with the mirror effect broken by the fact that Brock and CC are running left. Second, both relics are a bat (the other is bat/jersey). Third, the picture of CC here is the same picture that was used to produce the 2010 SP, only on that card he was airbrushed into a Sawx uni. In a way that makes this, perhaps, his last card in a Rays jersey (sniff).

Anyway, get well soon, CC. Have a good one everybody and good night Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Monday, April 23, 2012

TTM from Gil Coan: OK for a Dook fan

One of the cooler things about the blogging community is the general willingness to help others out. Tom over at Baseball by the Letters posted a great success he'd had from NC-native Gil Coan and that piqued my interest in sending Mr. Coan a letter. No fear. After a brief email exchange Tom helped me out with the addy and, after some ebay magic, my letter was off to Mr. Coan.

The '53s tend to be tough cards to fit signatures on if only because they're mostly close-up portraits. This card is even stranger because the background is a scoreboard with the writing clearly visible up behind the subject. All the same, Coan laid a nice sig on here. 

Coan played 11 seasons in the majors from 1946-56, mostly with the Senators and New York Giants. I like reading about those Senators (guys like Cecil Travis, Buddy Lewis, Eddie Yost, Roy Sievers, etc.) and the fact that Coan was from NC was a huge bonus. He was even born in Monroe, right next door to Wingate University where, coincidentally, I started my college career. 

Coan's finest season came in 1951 when, at 29, Coan batted .303 with 62 RBI and 85 R. He even garnered a few MVP votes for a teams that went 62-92 and finished 7th in the American League. 
This 1953 Bowman color set me back a touch more than I would have liked, and I admittedly wasn't thinking to clearly in terms of "is this a card that is easily singable," but like a lot of former ballplayers Mr. Coan found the perfect (if only!) spot on the card where the signature would look good. 

Mr. Coan even responded to my questions about his life in baseball. His favorite player when he was a kid was Dizzy Dean, and his best moment in the game was Opening Day 1946 when he took the field for the first time with the Senators at Old Yankee Stadium. Unless I'm mistaken, the card above is Yankee Stadium, too. Like a lot of guys from the 40s and 50s, the toughest pitcher he had to face was Bob Feller. 

As for being from NC, he was pretty diplomatic when asked if he preferred Western-style (ketchup-based) or Eastern-style (vinegar-based) bbq. His answer: all of it. 

As the title of the post suggests, he has a much clearer opinion of things when basketball season rolls around and cheers from Dook. 

If you've never rear Tom's blog seriously, go check it out! His approach to ttm-ing is genuine and sincere, and I keep a lot of his advice in mind when thinking about sending someone a request. Thanks again, Tom!

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

Monday, April 16, 2012

Lost in Eden: TTM from Johnny Schmitz

Sometimes incongruous landscapes make the most sense, to the point they become natural, almost preferred, and the impossibilities we can conceive of unmoor us permanently from our surroundings.

Which leads me to ask: where the Hell is Johnny Schmitz on this 1951 Bowman? He's looming up in a clearing in these anonymous woods, playing baseball with no one in particular and yet not in the least self conscious about it. Like a lot of cards in the set, as observers we're asked not to inquire overmuch about Schmidtz in these fantastic surroundings. 
But where else would we find someone nicknamed "Bear Tracks"? It's oddly appropriate that a man best known for shuffling around on the mound with size-14 feet is silhouetted against the salmon mountains, peering in at a batter somewhere down and to our left. Delivering the pitch Schmitz is huge, dominant, leering, our primary focus. Yet he's dwarfed by the mountains in the distance, their presence rupturing our attention and inviting us to something beyond Johnny Schmitz, to something like life beyond baseball.
Many folks have posted about the fact that Schmitz passed away this past October 1. I was fortunate to have sent this card to him over the summer and received it back in no time flat. It makes me sad when the older players I've heard from pass away, because since I was a kid I've always thought of guys from that generation as eternal, our legacy as fans.

Of course they left baseball, married, divorced, had kids, were triumphant, were failures, and did things largely like the rest of us. Adulating baseball players for their accomplishments is like taking snapshots of someone's life through a keyhole. And yet, if we're honest, that's how all of us want to be remembered, how all of us want to be judged: as being who nonetheless shined while dwelling in the shadow of the mountain. 

It's a baseball card, but it speaks to me the same way that may favorite paintings, poems, and novels do. There is no field like the field on the card, and Johnny Schmitz never played on the edge of these woods. But we can put him there, then and now, painting the black in the twilight. If there's a heaven, Johnny Schmitz is pitching on this field. If there's not, Johnny Schmitz is pitching on this field. This field that only exists because we said it did. He's there because we put him there, because the world is a thing of our own creation.

Thanks again for the ttm Mr. Schmitz. Have a good one everybody and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!