Sunday, August 9, 2020

Fleer Autograph Project and More

I feel like things are getting back to normal.  Well, not really, but I am getting back to a less moribund level of hobby activity.  I am still not looking at going to any shows any time soon, so I am concentrating online.  This week saw a few things arrive,

This Frank Howard card was the card that was stuck in the Los Angeles distribution center for two weeks. It finally arrived and is the second to last card I need for my 1970 Topps set and for the complete run of Topps baseball sets from the 1970s.  The final card I need is Johnny Bench, which has been selling for prices way beyond what I was comfortable paying.  Granted, I was only looking at trusted sellers, who will command a premium.  I'm going to have to get a bit more serious about this one. I'd love to get that '70s run complete.

A new addition to my Paul Blair PC: 2004 Upper Deck Timeless Teams Auto Gold. As best as I can tell, there are 7 versions of this card (4 base and 3 autos at varying levels of scarcity/serialization) and I now have 3 of this card.  There is a second Paul Blair card in this set related to the 1970 team and I have 4 of those.  Since there are Platinum base and autos for each card that are 1/1, I don't expect I'll ever get all 7 versions of each card.  In fact, the serialized versions of these cards come up on eBay so rarely, I doubt I'll ever even get close to 6 out of 7.  Not a problem since that is what the chase is for, no?

Finally, I added two new cards to my signed 1960 through 1963 Fleer project. Since both Lloyd Waner and Marty Marion were prolific signers in their retirement, I was able to add these at a reasonable price.  To a certain extent, as it relates to 1960 and 1961, I am still bottom feeding. I think I am getting to the point that I am going to have to start opening the wallet a bit wider to add more.  Which will conflict with my set building. So, I expect this to slow down (not that it was ever fast to begin with.)  I do have a goal to get over halfway before the end of the year. Which raises the question as to where I stand.  Glad you asked. Here is my progress:

I have exactly one more card to add in the next 4 months to get to that goal.  I have not decided yet whether that will be another low cost addition or if I should splash out a bit more.  Stay tuned!

What I am listening to: Got the Time by Anthrax (a cover of the Joe Jackson original if you can
believe it):

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Theme: Ink

Still haven't made any progress on that next post in the promised series on 1970 Topps card backs. In my defense, we had a huge storm a few weeks back and I lost 7or 8 large post oak trees and large limbs off at least a half a dozen others.  So, in addition to all my normal chores, I have been slowly cleaning up that mess.  

So, I am going to half-ass a post here of things that have an admittedly tenuous link to ink, in it's various incarnations.

A new addition to my Johnny Antonelli player collection, this is a 1960 Topps tattoo. I've got to get my Antonelli collection organized.  It is fine in the binder, but I haven't really done a good job of organizing the spreadsheet of haves and wants.   It is supposed to be hot this weekend, maybe I'll work on when I retreat inside after doing my morning projects outside.

One of the three remaining cards I need to finish the 1970 Topps set is this 7th Series checklist, unmarked by either pen or pencil.  I actually have bought one of the two remaining cards for that set, but there is a problem.

That is right, the card shipped and has been sitting in Los Angeles for over a week and a half.  This was purchased from Greg Morris Cards off of eBay. I have come to expect that such shipments will usually take 2 or 3 days to clear the LA distribution center.  But, this is way beyond that.  While I get that the Post Office is struggling with difficulties imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, I have to say that this isn't that.  This isn't a long simmering degradation in service. This happened all of a sudden early in July. There are stories being reported in the media about changes being made by the new Postmaster General that are bollixing up service, they aren't really breaking through the general election year noise being generated by the political class at the moment.  Here is a good article discussing the issue.

And finally, a new non-sports addition to my collection:

In a recent auction held by Vintage Non-Sports Auctions, I managed to pick up the two bookplates shown framed above.  They use the artwork for 16 of the cards from the 25 card 1892 N101 Duke "Breeds of Horses" set.  I am led to understand that these bookplates were contemporary to the same era.  Anyways, I just got it back from the framers yesterday.  I was looking for a Victorian feel and I think we captured it. Even if the Arts & Crafts wall color doesn't really match up well.  Now, I actually have to start building that N101 set. I don't have any yet, as they have tended to sell individually for $10-$20 dollars. That isn't horrible, but I have been able to acquire other horse themed tobacco card *sets* in the same range and it has been a little off-putting to get one card for that price.

Anyways, hopefully I will whole-ass a post soon.

What I am listening to: You Can't Rule Me by Lucinda Williams

Friday, July 3, 2020

PC Addition, Eh!

After a long period of dormancy, I've made some additional progress on my Paul Blair collection.  A new addition came in yesterday:

This is the last of the O-Pee-Chee cards I needed for the PC. It commemorates Blair's game winning home run in Game 3 of the 1966 World Series.  It was hit off Claude Osteen, who had otherwise pitched a brilliant game.  OSteen's final line was 3 hits, one walk, and three strikeouts in 7 innings pitched.

This is the 142nd unique item in my Paul Blair PC

What I am listening to: Follow You Like Smoke by Elizabeth Cook

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Card Show!

Yesterday. I went to a card show for the first time in I can't remember when.  Since it has been a while, I had a little more money that I normally would. Plus, I took the 1956 Topps Mickey Mantle I won in a break a while back to trade up with.  My main goal was to make progress on finishing my 1970 set (3 cards to go), 1968 set (6 cards to go), and 1965 set (167 cards to go.)  By that measure I failed miserably.   I managed to find one 1968 card I needed. It was a good one, though.

Still 5 to go, including the Nolan Ryan rookie card.

So, with that I recalibrated and decided to work on my 1960 set, where I was sitting at about 30% completion and my 1955 set, where I was about 75% complete. I did much better here.  I managed to snag about 57 cards, mostly commons, from 1960.

This was about as close as I came to a star card with this show.

 In a recent post, Night Owl lamented to disappearance of manager cards. I have to say that I agree.  These manager cards from 1960 Topps are wonderful.  I found four manager cards yesterday. Far and away, these are my favorites from the new cards I added to my set.

I also like these types of cards, which were common in the 1960s sets.  While both Rocky Colavito and Tito Francona were good players, this card did not age nearly as well as that 1968 Super Stars card above.

Interestingly enough, this was one of only to Topps cards of Jim Baxes, the other being his rookie card in 1959.   1959 was Jim's only season in the majors.  He performed poorly in AAA in 1960 and was out of organized baseball after only 21 games in 1961.  Fun fact: Jim Baxes first major league home run was the first HR hit off of Bob Gibson. It was in Gibson's ML debut on April 15, 1959.

As far as 1955, I managed to find 18 cards I needed, which brought me down to only needing 32 more to finish the set.  Most were commons from the second, high number series.

That Williams (along with '68 Super Stars above) were the major scores in exchange for the '56 Mantle.  I could have gotten more money selling the Mantle on EBay.  But, with all the Johnny-Come-Latelys in the hobby, all the reports of buyer fraud scared me off.  This Ted is really nice.  It is in way better condition than I would have acquired if I didn't have some high end trade material.

So, that is about it, other than this 1966 Curt Flood I found in a dollar box.

I haven't given up on my 1970 card back series of posts.  I have just been fairly busy out in the real world and just haven't had the energy to sit down and work on the next installment.  It is coming, I just don't know when.

What I am listening to: Follow You Like Smoke by Elizabeth Cook

Monday, May 18, 2020

The Oddest of Oddballs

Life's big questions.

Collecting trading cards would seem to be a simple, easy to understand hobby.  When I first got into it, back in late 2010, with my Paul Blair player collection, I certainly would have thought so. I did not know of such things as relic cards, sticker autos, short prints and serialized cards. I was quite the naïf.  In the near decade since, my collecting has taken me in multiple directions: set building, set building for sports I don't even follow, autographed cards, even non-sport tobacco cards.  

But, still at the center is that Paul Blair player collection.  It has been somewhat stagnant these last few years, but occasionally something gets added.  In my COVID19 quarantine, I have spent more time at Net54Baseball and came across a long thread of Orioles and Brooks Robinson collectors and caught a glimpse of some Blair memorabilia. I introduced myself and one thing led to another and a trade deal was closed.   In exchange for one of my 1993 Nabisco Blair cards, I got a handful of team issued Paul Blair postcards (which are still in transit) and this:

I didn't get the 1976 Topps card in the trade, I only included it here to give a sense of the size of the item above it.    What is it, you are probably asking?  It is a 1976 English's Chicken lid.  You are probably wondering if that is really a lid to a bucket of chicken?  If you are, you would be correct. 

My God! What have I done?

If you had told me in 2010 that I would have added a lid to a cardboard bucket of fried chicken to my collection I would have thought you were crazy. But, here we are.  I have a 44 year old chicken bucket lid and I am excited beyond belief.  I have occasionally searched for one of these; always unsuccessfully.  To have it fall into my lap like this is a nice bit of serendipity.  I thought I might explain about English's, but I found out that the late, great, Bob Lemke had beat me to the punch. You can read his blog post here.  And the collector he got his information from?  The same person I traded with!  Small world.

Hopefully, the post cards will be here by the weekend, so I can show them off.

What I am listening to: A Tout Le Monde by Megadeth (yes, I probably should have posted "Once in a Lifetime," but I am in the middle of a thrash metal phase, so you get this.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

New Blair Additions

I'm still mostly on the sidelines waiting for COVID-19 to abate and the oil & gas industry to pull out of it's tailspin. But, I did manage to add a couple new things to my Paul Blair player collection.

As you can see this is the O-Pee-Chee version of his 1968 card.  With this, I have ten of the eleven OPC Blair cards. The only one I lack now is card number 153 from 1967, which is the World Series Game #3 card - Blair's Homer Defeats L.A.   There is another such card he appears on, 1971 Topps/OPC #195, the AL playoffs game 1 card. However, while he appears on the card, he is not the subject, which is Boog Powell. Blair is just congratulating Powell after he hit a home run. So, I'm not going to consider that part of the PC.

This is a team issued photo from 1975.  I know have 4 team issued photo cards.  In addition to this one, I believe I have 1969, 1971, and 1973.  There isn't a lot of good resources out there for these types of issues, but there are a number of Orioles team collectors on net54. I'm hoping they can help me know definitively which years they are.

Added in edit: I am told by a long time Orioles collector that the photo was actually issued by the team in 1973-1974.

What I am listening to:  Rock Me Baby by B.B. King, Susan Tedeschi, and Derek Trucks

Monday, May 4, 2020

1970 Card Back Follies, Part 2

Okay, I really need to get back to this.  I laid out the skeleton of this post about two weeks ago, but have been putting off doin the research and write-up.  So, without much further ado, here is part 2 of my examination of random, interesting card back cartoons from 1970 Topps.

David Nelson (#112) - Dave's hobby is saving clippings of his favorite athletes

I really didn't find much else about this other than Nelson was born at Fort Sill, Oklahoma (about an hour and a half drive from my home here) and his favorite athletes growing up were Oscar Robertson and Jackie Robinson.

Sparky Lyle (#116) - Sparky once struck out 31 men in a 17 inning game

This feat was accomplished in American Legion ball in his hometown of DuBois, PA and it was the thing that caught the attention of a major league scout, George Staller of the Baltimore Orioles, who signed him to a contract. It should be noted that Sparky only pitched in 14 of those 17 innings and manned frist base the other three,  There wasn't much primary source information I could find.  The local newspaper, The Courier Express, is indexed at, but there is a complete gap in the records between 1946 and 1969. By 1969, he was on his third major leagues season with the Red Sox.

Joe Coleman (#127) - Joe has particular success vs. the White Sox

This was a hard one. Not because of a lack of information, but because of too much information. I had a hard time deciding how to test this one. It is probably the sole reason that it has been over two weeks since my previous post on this topic. Finally, I just had to fish or cut bait.  I have a good idea why this was the cartoon caption.  Prior to 1970, Coleman had a 3-1 record in in 8 starts and one relief appearance against the White Sox, with all three wins being complete games.  However, that is where it breaks down.

So, I downloaded his entire career from Baseball Reference and did some analysis of his pre-1970 statistics.  Using the traditional pitching statistic of ERA, I calculated Coleman's results for each team and overall, then sorted.
So, you can see that Coleman's ERA is particularly poor against Chicago; worse even than his overall performance.  Now, I know that ERA can be affected by factors outside the players control, so I thought I would look at the modern Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP).  However, FIP is adjusted by a yearly league factor and I quickly decided I didn't want to put *that* much effort into this, so I backed off to using WHIP (Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched.)

As you can see, Coleman was better against the White Sox than his overall average against the league. However, it was only marginally better than average and certainly worse than his performance against a number of other teams.  So, my last effort to understand this was to look at Win Percentage Added (WPA.) I understand WPA conceptually, though I don't know how it is calculated.  In general it looks at an individual players contribution to a game.  A positive number means they contributed towards a win (even though the game result may not have been a win.)A negative number means they were a negative influence on the game outcome. In order to control for the fact that the amount of playing time versus each team. I looked at average WPA per appearance.

So, my impression is that, overall, Coleman was a neutral contributor to the Senators.  Interestingly, based on this metric, he wasn't particularly successful against the White Sox. In fact, it was probably more accurate to say (accounting for all three above metrics) that he has particular success against the Angels, Athletics, and Tigers.

Richie Scheinblum (#161) - Richie's 1st homer in pro ball was a grand slam in the 13th inning

Scheinblum first pro homerun was with the Burlington Indians of the A level Carolina League in 1964.  The homerun referenced was in a game on June 14 against the Greensboro Yankees. It was hit off of pitcher Joe Riccardo.  Riccardo never made it out of A ball, with the 1965 season being his last.

What I am Listening to:  Walking in Memphis by Marc Cohn