Friday, November 30, 2012

That's no's a LCS!

I recently had to take a day trip down to Charleston, SC and found myself with a few spare moments.

Cue the iPhone maps search (I don't have Siri capabilities yet): baseball cards

Results: Hooked on Cards (.2 miles away)


I tried to contain my excitement as I circled in on the alleged location.   I say 'alleged' because we've all been duped before by bad intel from internet-based searches.   Was the information up to date?   Was I headed towards a nail salon? Was it actually a Local Card Shop?


I hadn't been inside of an LCS since Columbia's last card shop,  Rudy's Upper Deck, closed its doors forever last year.   It's really one of my favorite kinds posts to read about on everyone's blogs - the card shop re-cap.   Napkin Doon's stories about "Cleve's" are some of my favorites.   Highly recommended to satiate your thirst if you find yourself in a hobby geographical doldrum - check 'em out here.   It conjures up images of a cardboard cornucopia.   Packs and singles and memorabilia and posters and magazines and supplies and.....and friends.   A local hobby shop is our "Cheers".   A place where people not only want to know your name but understand why you're excited to tell them about that super sweet Topps-Update-Series-All-Star-Game-Yankee-23/25-Tri-Relic that you pulled a couple of weeks ago.   My waitress at lunch that day didn't even know what I was talking about!

Gratuitous, yes.

If they're a really understanding bunch, they'll be patient when you fog the windows of their display case for half an hour and then walk out with nothing but supplies (Oh, I'm back to the LCS....not talking about fogging Jessica's case).   Not because you're a ruthless small business hater - no.   They know you're a collector because hey, they are, too!   And they know you have a method to your madness and......they know you'll be back.

Okay.  Maybe they knew I'd be back when I did a back flip in the parking lot and took a picture of their store?

Anyways - Hooked on Cards is a great hobby shop.   Most impressive to me was the flawless organization of their small space.   Divided by sport, you had bargain bins on the counter to leaf through with the more valuable singles and autographed pieces within the display case.   If you looked up, you would see shelves of row after row of unopened wax - conveniently labeled with name and price.


They were very helpful and a pleasure to talk to.   I enjoyed my experience.   I cautiously asked how business was going......and breathed a huge sigh of relief when they said everything was going great.   They seem to have a very loyal following and are trying to incorporate a winning marketing strategy that builds the hobby network through trading, customer appreciation and quality.   Great job, guys.

I can't wait to go back and if you ever find yourself in the Charleston area - I recommend you check them out.   Here's their information:

Hooked Indeed
 Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 16, 2012

One of My Favorite Cards: 1954 Topps #153 Albert "Rube" Walker

As promised, some Dodger "blue"!

I love this card.   It's a 1954 Topps card, so I would love it anyways - but this one definitely has my attention.   It's in pretty good shape, so I feel lucky to have it in my collection as a great representation of baseball in its golden age.   The coloring is terrific and the old-school look of Rube's collapsed hat should be in the dictionary to explain what exactly a "ball cap" is!

Classic. Period.

The details on the front side of this card provide you everything you need to know - team, team logo, position, autograph, close-up and "position action shot".   Rube was a catcher for the Dodgers, so this card provides the extra bonus of getting to see some of that classic catcher's gear.   Love it.

The back of this card is just as good.   It divulges the full spectacle of Albert Bluford Walker Junior's name.   Would never have guessed he was from North Carolina with a name like that, eh?   Rube batted left but fielded as a right hander.  Rube never played ball in college and was drafted by the Cubbies out of high school in 1948.   The write-up gives a great tidbit on a couple of records that Mr. Walker lay claim to as a young player with Brooklyn who was finally getting a shot in '52.   Campanella was obviously the main guy behind the plate for the Dodgers at this time, so I can only imagine the frustration that Rube felt as he battled to make the starting line-up.   Or, perhaps he was enjoying every minute of it!?   Topps squeezes even more information into the comprehensive review of Walker's minor league batting numbers.   That's good stuff and something we don't see too much of anymore.

Call me Al......unless it's the FRONT of this card...

Topps provides the previous year's statistics along with the cumulative career numbers, as was the standard.   It looked like Rube was a pretty good fielder with a .978 fielding percentage.   You combine that with a .250 average and I think you have the makings of a solid back-up catcher.  Plus, his name was Rube and that's just awesome in itself.

Ah, the cartoon strip, "Inside Baseball".   Love these things, and this particular 3-panel strip is a great example.   It relates a portion of Rube's contribution to the epic Dodger-Giants playoff series of 1951.   Most of us know about that (the "Shot Heard 'Round the World") Series and its incredible/terrifying finish but what I personally did not know was that MVP Campanella did not play in Games 2 or 3.   If I am reading the comic correctly, the "...a Dodger was hurt..." refers to Campy, right?   First of all, I am a bit shocked that Topps didn't provide the star player's name here......perhaps it was a simple factor of not being able to fit "Campanella" - but I don't think so!   There's a lot of space still available in Panel #1.   My second complaint is that I can only find mention of Campanella's injury in one remote space in the internet universe......somebody refers to Roy "injuring his thigh" at some point.   But I can't find a write-up of Game 2 that describes some type of in-game injury or event and the resulting substitution.   In fact, doesn't portray Campanella as being on the starting lineup.   Therefore, I'm assuming that the Dodger backstop suffered something during Game 1 and just couldn't make the start in Games 2 or 3. 

Can anybody confirm this?   For you Dodgers fans - do you think this had any impact on the Series' outcome.......well, more than that whole telescope, thing?

Anyways - Rube Walker got his chances in Games 2 and 3 and, as it says on the back of this card, made good use of his time.   He pounded 3 hits and 2 homers to assist the Dodgers on their way to a 10-0 victory that necessitated that epic Game 3.

Or did he?

The back of this 1954 Topps card credits two home runs to Walker but the box scores at do not agree - they report only 1 home run, in the 9th inning, for 'ol Rube.   Huh.   I wonder what happened there?   Does anybody know?   Perhaps some kind of in-the-park deal from earlier in the game?   You can read over the numbers from that Game 2 here.   That would be interesting - again, if anybody can provide some insight, I'd be grateful.   Otherwise, it may just be a baseball card curiosity! 

Rube much closer to achieving "full Medlen" than Tom.

Walker went on to do some managing for the Dodgers and Yankees farm systems before becoming a pitching coach for the Senators, Mets and Braves.   A testament to the role a good catcher can play in successful pitching, he was a pitching coach for the Mets from '68 through '81, including the Amazin' Mets of '69 and oversaw development of two pitchers that made their way through the Metropolitans organization: Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver.   'Nuff said, Rube!

Guess what just got added to my "Want" list?

Mr. Walker finished out his days in the Game as a scout for the Cardinals and passed away in '92.

So there you go - some great stories to go along with this Rube Walker card from 1954.   I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did researching (even though I feel a bit incomplete for the effort).   Mr. Walker sure is a great part of the Dodgers' franchise history and another classic component of our great Game, too.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fortune and Glory

My last post encouraged me to conduct some additional collection forensics.

You see, I have to admit - while I have most of my cards corralled into storage tubs, there is still a tremendous amount of organization, separation and minimization that needs to occur for me to reach a point where my OCD tendencies will be satisfied.

But that takes time and, as most of you would probably agree - time is precious and all too scarce.

But the fight wages on.

In the meantime, I like to ignore my own self-imposed mandate to organize by shuffling through the binders and boxes for the sole purpose of enjoyment.   Imagine that?!

During my latest excavation, I was focused on trying to ascertain whether or not I had any hidden (forgotten?   Lost?   See personal mandate....) or recently transitioned "gems" that I could roll out on some red carpet to share with my readers.   No, not necessarily  in value, but in actual player accomplishments or notoriety, too.

Did I find anything?

Yes I did.

"I call it luck..."

And, oddly enough, this second verse goes about the same as the first.   I acquired this card a bit differently than Mr. Sandoval's '11 GQ autograph card (pack-pull).   Believe it or not, this card was part of my haul from a card-break-draft over at the recently retired blog, Crinkly Wrappers.  In fact, if you follow the link, my friend Ted's final post - a very well written baseball card blog obituary - still remains.   He was a great and generous guy and I hope he's doing well.   You can probably even go back through his post archives and find the very post where I "drafted" this card somewhere during the 2nd half of the 2011 MLB regular season.

Talk about dumb luck.

I wasn't crazy about it but my particular order for that portion of the draft left me in a "best available" type of situation.   Freese was playing pretty well at that point and he held a large advantage over MOST of the other available players for that round - he was a regular player.   So, I staked my claim.

It wasn't a card of a player I was a big fan of or even a team that I cheered for.   In fact, this team ultimately displaced the Atlanta Braves (one of my personal faves) from the '11 playoffs thanks to the Bravos' now infamous September collapse.  Lots of drama.   Lots of great history there.   And a lot of that is now represented in this card, and for this player who, as that team's improbable and now historic post season run unfolded.......materialized as a true October baseball legend and hometown hero.

Amazing.   I even almost traded this card away to another Crinkly Wrapper reader after they expressed interest from the card-draft bleachers.   At the time, I wasn't stoked about this card.   But I had elected this particular player because I was impressed by the "upward trending" contribution he was making to the Cardinals as their season began to take shape.   I believe a Freddy Freeman GQ mini card was a part of the discussion.   I DID want the Freeman mini......and I ALWAYS want to try and make a proposed trade work out.......but sometimes you just can't make the pieces fit.   Negotiations proved tough and, as sometimes happens, our trade talks ended unsuccessfully.

Sometimes this can be a bit fortuitous, I guess.

I'm glad I hung onto this David Freese card.   He may never escape the pesky injuries that pop up for him from time to time and thus, he may never achieve the kind of career-long success that lands him in the Hall of Fame or rosters of "all-time" baseball greats.   But he will have the Fall of 2011 on his resume and I will have the personal stories of watching his AMAZING walk-off theatrics for his team, the destiny-infused 2011 World Champion Cardinals, to pass on to my kids or any other poor soul caught in a basebal conversation with me (evil laugh).

And as I always say - I love it when a card has/triggers a great story.   And when that card has a little bit of extra "oomph" to accompany that 2011 NLCS and World Series MVP story, it's even sweeter.   It looks like lightning has indeed struck twice in the Indiana Jones warehouse that IS my collection.   I wonder what else is in there?

"Top Men..."

What have been your favorite "discoveries" in your collection over the years?

Hang in there, Night Owl......some 'blue' coming soon......

Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 9, 2012

You Never Know!

Greetings and salutations, my friends!   I've missed you all over the past.........well, it's been too long.   And before that, too few and far in between posts.

But no moping because there's no know how it goes.

It was a great baseball season and, even though none of my personal favorites contended in the Fall Classic - it was a powerful finish for the Black and Orange.   Hats OFF to them and congratulations to my fellow bloggers who are Giants fans through and through.   It must have been a great roller-coaster ride!

Of course, one of the best highlights from the series for most of us was the historical performance by Pablo Sandoval in Game 1.   It set the tone for the Giants' ultimate victory and places a guy we all call "Panda" in some pretty esteemed World-Series-Game-Home-Run-Hitting company.   How cool is that?   I watched it unfold on TV as Mrs. Ryan's Pitch sat nearby.   I caught her attention to clue her into what was going on.   She's not a baseball nut like me but she enjoys the game and understands my obsession.   We both marveled at the moment...

Continuously checking my twitter feed and adding in my own 140-character nuggets as "@RyansPitch", I suddenly looked off into the distance.

"Wait a second...."

I ran plodded down to the basement and began a reckless search for a piece of cardboard that I had suddenly been inspired to think that....maybe, just maybe.......I actually had in my collection.   I scattered boxes and binders and loose-card stacks all over while I looked for a certain box.    Along with the original epiphany of this particular card, a new theme began to cultivate in my synapses:

"Organize your damn collection, lazy!"

I promised myself that I would.   Later.


Found it.   YES!   I knew it to be true.....I had pulled this card out of a blaster during my "Ryan's Spring" in 2011 when I dove back into our hobby.   It was awesome, simply because it was an autograph and autographs on cards in packs was a complete revelation to me as a born-again collector (can I say that?).   But it was of a player I wasn't that crazy about.....he didn't wear pinstripes or do the Tomahawk it went in its top-loader and was placed into THIS stack instead of THAT stack and eventually forgotten.   Doomed to rest in peace until it was handed over to my son one day with a, " son."

But I had to wake it up and enjoy found importance in the collection.   Cards have stories to tell.  Sometimes it's the picture on the front.   Other cards tell their best stories through stats on the back or a hand-written scribble by some kid from decades past.   Mostly, our cards will speak to us about the players they depict - the inherent purpose for their existence, after all.   And now, this card's story - like the man who signed it - will have an even sweeter story to tell.

We all love "pulls" and it's kind of neat when a "pull" enjoys an increase in "mojo" over time.

Enough words in quotation marks.   Here's The Panda:

Loopy On-Card Greatness

Man, I miss 2011 Gypsy Queen.   It was the release that brought me back into the collecting fold.  I thought it was pretty damn cool and as it turns still is.   I hope Topps can re-capture what they had because further review of the sophomore release only heightens my disappointment and "meh" attitude towards it.

Pandas and GQ aside - it's great to be back.

Thanks for reading!