Sunday, July 21, 2013

Connecting Bob Gibson and Roger Maris with Danny Tartabull and Werewolves - 1968 Topps #154

I happened upon this card at a really great price that made it too difficult to pass up.   It was vintage, it featured Bob Gibson and it marked a specific event in baseball history - so I'm lying.   I was powerless to resist regardless of the price.   Here's the front of the card:

Clearly, a beautiful dame's lipstick is visible in the lower right....

I go back and forth on the '68 design.   It is loved by many but hated as well - I suppose I am somewhere in between, but it carries the trump aspect of being from 1968 regardless of design.   I do appreciate the vintage television screen viewing frame that Topps uses here, showing a zoomed-in look at Gibson chucking some serious heat towards a batter.   I can't imagine facing that guy!   This particular copy is in pretty good shape.   The centering is jacked up a bit (technical term) and there's a weird red coloring on the bottom right, but the corners are good and everything is legible - which is what matters the most to me.

As the card proclaims, Gibson tossed a shutout in Game 4 of the '67 Series to put the Cards in a 3-1 game lead.   The evil Red Sox would go on to stretch the Series to a full 7 games, but we all know how it ended.   The Cardinals were the much more experienced team in the Series but the Sox certainly showcased some impressive talent in Lonborg, Yastrzemski, Siebern and even an aging Elston Howard.  I didn't know that?!   Must research Elston's time in enemy territory a bit closer....

Anyways, the Series featured pitchers like Lonborg and Gibson along with some young fellow named Steve Carlton.   Gibson's shutout is truly worthy of note with this card as he held the Sox to only 5 hits but I wonder if there was a similar highlight card for Mr. Lonborg's 1-hit shutout complete game over St. Louis in Game 2?   If not, it would certainly be a shame.

I have a strong affinity for the '67 Series because it plays out for me as the swan song for Roger Maris.  He was already well into a steady (but respectable) decline towards retirement by the fall of '67 but he brought his batting average up above .250 for the first time in three seasons to contribute to the Cardinals' domination of the senior circuit that season.   Even better, Maris batted .385 for the Series with a home run, 7 RBI and 10 hits - a stat line that was only SLIGHTLY bested by teammate, Lou Brock.   Lou DID have three additional at-bats....just saying.

But yes, Roger did go DEEP in Game 5, providing the lone run in Steve Carlton's losing effort.  

Here's the back of the Gibson highlight card:

More lipstick.   Or Tartabull blood?

Yep, that's a Tartabull you see there on the Red Sox lineup.   How sweet is that?   Confirmed by my crack investigative google skills, Jose Tartabull IS the father of junk wax-era legend, Danny Tartabull.   There's something special about bringing a 1968 Topps card that highlights the '67 World Series full circle back around to a rookie card in my '86 Topps Traded Set.   Thanks to for sharing the image.  

Did you know about the book written about Danny's old man's putout from right field, late in the '67 season?   It involves werewolves and was written in 2001.   WHAT?!  Apparently those BeanTown types are good for some decent lore every once in awhile.

I say it often but never enough - I love this hobby.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

For Trade - 2012 Topps Dave Winfield Retired Number Manu-Patch

Here's a Dave Winfield manu-patch that I pulled out of last year's flagship, if I recall correctly.   It's pretty sharp looking and it pays great homage to Winfield's highly underrated years with the Padres as he began his career.

It really doesn't fit into my collection very well, however.   Is anybody interested in swapping for this?   Just thought I'd throw it out there....

Thanks for Reading!

Friday, July 19, 2013

I Consider This Reprint To Be A Rain Check

I don't often dabble in reprints.

As a collector with a curious case of selective OCD qualities, any joy from appreciation of a nice copy of an old, glorious card is usually foiled by my left-brain subconsciousness ruining the experience with thoughts of, " isn't real...." or "'ll never know what this card was truly like, will you?"

Awful, I know.

But these usual sentiments didn't apply as soon as I laid eyes upon this beauty.   It's a reprint of the 44th card from Bowman's 1953 "color" set.   And I think it's absolutely perfect!


Berra is goofy, Bauer is in control and having a good time while the Mick appears to be a bit forlorn and wary of the price for the fortune and glory that lies ahead.   Who says these little pieces of cardboard aren't true pieces of art?

This picture was most likely taken during the 1952 campaign and the season's stats for all three Yanks can be reviewed on the back of the card shown below.  

Bauer enjoyed an All-Star season in '52 and was probably still enjoying life to the fullest after four years of war from '42 through '45.   Purple Heart and Bronze Star, people.......a hero.   On the diamond, he had about as solid of a career as any could ask for.   One of my favorite highlights would have been in the Fall Classic previous to this picture, when Hank popped a bases-loaded triple to clinch the series for the Bombers over the New York Giants.

Yogi had established himself as one of baseball's finest backstops, if not THE best catcher (as noted for the junior circuit on the card back above).   Thirty home runs from you game caller is an incredibly valuable power source, no matter what decade we're talking about - and the Yankees had Yogi in their lineup for 142 games in '52.   With careful monitoring of ailments and exclusive pitcher/catcher tandems resulting in frequent changes for catchers in today's game,  his records become even more impressive.

I love how this card still refers to Mantle as being the youngster who replaced inherited DiMaggio's centerfield spot.   That wording is very carefully chosen and very indicative of the Yankees fandom culture that was prevalent at the time.   Perhaps this was a brief moment captured where Mickey was still trying to find his place in the Bronx universe?   The Mick was fortunate and would eventually play his way into the hearts and minds of the Yankees faithful.   Another young, record-setting outfielder with a crew-cut wouldn't be so lucky at the beginning of the next decade.

Do I even need to point out the great appearance of Yogi's vintage catcher's gear in the forefront of the picture?   Awesome stuff! 

This particular card comes from some sort of a Mickey Mantle commemorative set in 1996.   I'm not too certain of its origin but if any of the other cards are in line with this beauty, I would be hard pressed not to add them to my collection.

Alas, my OCD hasn't let me off scott-free with this card.   It has been officially placed on my radar as one of those epic cards to be obtained at a later date......only time will tell.  

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Quest for '60: #499 Johnny James

It's been a great couple of weeks for my quest to complete the 1960 Topps set.   I had some very generous additions from reader Mr. Haverkamp (thank you, sir) and I was also able to pick up this card of Mr. James - a Yankee (applause!) and man of two first names.

This card is in really great shape!   The colors are nice and bright, the surface is clean and the corners are sharp for a '60.   More and more, I fall in love with this set every time I have the chance to enjoy a new addition.   I know.   It's weird.

Mr. James' time in the majors was fairly short   He initially came up for a cup of coffee on September 6, 1958, after spending four years in the farm system.   On that day, he came on in relief of Art Ditmar, who had served up seven runs in six innings to the Washington Senators.   Taking the reigns with gusto, Mr. James held the senators scoreless over the final three frames.

Johnny would miss out on breaking camp with the club in the spring of '59 but he fought his way onto the roster in Florida a year later and had some success with the Yanks in 1960.   During that season he appeared 28 times in relief, going 5-1 with two saves and striking out 29.

In 1961, Johnny was sent to California in the trade that brought Bob Cerv to the Bronx.   His career would end when that season wrapped up for the Halo's, but he did participate in the historic home run season of his former teammate, Roger Maris.   On June 11th, in the bottom of the 7th inning, Maris (who had already taken Eli Grba deep in the 3rd for HR #19) crushed a solo shot off of James into the right field bleachers for his 20th long ball of that historic season.

Johnny James ended his career with a 5-3 record and 73 strikeouts.

Here's the back of card #499:

I always love the backs of these vintage cards and this one is no exception.   Of note to me is the use of the term "reliefers" as opposed to "relievers".   This is the first time I've noticed that but I'll assume it was common practice back then?   I'll surely keep my eyes open for that nomenclature going forward....also, you'll notice the Topps write-up refers to the Yankees as the "New Yorkers".   Again, I'm certain my eyes have glazed past this reference before, but this is the first time I've noticed.   Very cool.

I also find it interesting that Topps was able to successfully project that Johnny would make the club in 1960 after spending the 1959 campaign back in the minors.   This card is #499 - would it have been produced early on in the season?   Could they have had a head's up if this card was released in a later series?   Inquiring nerds want to know.....

The cartoon highlights Mr. James' participation in a no-hitter against the Phillies during spring training ......which is also noted in Johnny's wikipedia which wikipedia notes this co-op no-no as being a prime reason for Mr. James breaking camp with the parent club.

HEY!   So, it looks like Topps did indeed have a pretty good idea that Johnny "stands a fine chance" to be on the roster at some point that season!   Those rascals at Topps, I tell you what!

Ah!   Just a common from an old baseball card set - but look where it's taken us!   A post that includes two guys named Grba and Cerv, along with some impromptu cardboard appreciation research for your enjoyment today.   I love this hobby.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My First Zoilo!

In this Year of the Puig and season of distress for Yankee Nation, any bright spots for hope have been a much welcome occurrence.

Don't get me wrong, the Yanks are truly holding their own in what I consider to be the toughest division in baseball.   Considering the onslaught of injuries, slow recoveries and even setbacks for a majority of the traditional offensive producers - we're doing alright.

But it's still great to see a youngster come up through the system, report for duty and provide some excitement!   That's what Zoilo Almonte has done for the Bombers and I hope he gets a chance to continue as long as possible!

I was able to obtain my first card of Zoilo, this 2010 Topps minor league card.   Almonte is featured playing for the Yanks' Class A affiliate, the Charleston RiverDogs.   A team I desperately need to take a drive and go see!

The light is kind of poor to make out the foil print, but overall it's a really sharp, colorful card.   As you can see, Zoilo is a lefty, which will undoubtedly come in handy from time to time as long as he manages to see at-bats in Yankee Stadium.   The design is right in line with that used for the big league release but it's always a lot of fun to enjoy the minor league mascot logo's.   From my time in various places across the country, I've always found them to be a lot of fun and pretty imaginative.
Since being called up, Zoilo is batting .342 with a respectable .881 OPS.   He's only gone deep once but has scored four times and shown tremendous patience at the plate ( 2:1 K:BB) with a flair for clutch hitting, netting him 7 runs batted in.   As an extra bonus, he's also swiped 3 bags!

Here's the back of the card:

The offensive boost he's provided has been fantastic for our box scores but the intangible contribution of youthful excitement on a team of aging veterans and injury "fill-in's" has been a breath of fresh air.   I wonder if he'll be included in the Update Series from Topps?

Welcome to the Show, Zoilo and welcome to the Ryan's Pitch Yankees collection!

Thanks for reading.