Saturday, March 17, 2018

Blog Bat Around - My Projects

1.  Topps Vintage Flagship through 1979

Let's be realistic here. I am never going to finish 1952 Topps. That Mantle card is not in my budget.  Even if I won the lottery, I still wouldn't drop that kind of coin on a baseball card.

But, I do believe I can finish a large number of these sets.  In fact, here is my progress after about 7 years collecting.

Year Total Have Percent 
1952 407 2 0.5%
1953 280 6 2.1%
1954 250 1 0.4%
1955 206 56 27.2%
1956 342 283 82.7%
1957 354 0 0.0%
1958 495 9 1.8%
1959 572 3 0.5%
1960 572 22 3.8%
1961 587 3 0.5%
1962 598 4 0.7%
1963 576 7 1.2%
1964 587 19 3.2%
1965 598 95 15.9%
1966 598 7 1.2%
1967 609 2 0.3%
1968 598 311 52.0%
1969 664 7 1.1%
1970 720 576 80.0%
1971 752 752 100.0%
1972 787 700 88.9%
1973 684 684 100.0%
1974 728 728 100.0%
1975 660 660 100.0%
1976 704 704 100.0%
1977 660 660 100.0%
1978 726 726 100.0%
1979 726 726 100.0%

16040 7751 48.3%

I stop at 1979 because that was the last set I was exposed to in my youth and the Topps sets after 1980 don't really appeal to me aesthetically (1983 is okay, but that is really about it.)

The chart above is slightly misleading.  I have completed 1974. Sort of.  I am one card short of the master set.  I have all the checklists and traded series, as well as all the Washington Nat'l League variants.  The one card I don't have is the San Diego large print variation of card 599.  I have never got it because it usually sells for over $30 and I have a hard time paying that much for what is essentially a nondescript common.  But,  I probably should get over that.

Anyways, my main focus at this time is 1970 and 1972. I hope to finish at least one, but ideally both, in 2018.

2. 1960 to 1963 Fleer Baseball Autographed Sets


 This didn't start as an autograph project. I always liked 1963 Fleer and decided to build it.  That led to building 1960 and 1961, even though I am not enamored with their design.  On a lark, I sent a couple '63s out to a signing and off we went with trying to rebuild that set in autographed form.  As that project slowed, I decided to extend the project to the earlier Fleer sets.

Here is my progress to date.  Note that many card subjects in 1960 and 1961 died prior to the set being issued, so I measure progress against the number of cards of players who were living when the sets were issued:

Year Total Cards Possible Have Percentage
1960 79 40 7 17.5%
1961 154 95 16 16.8%
1963 66 66 63 95.5%
Total 299 201 86 42.8%

3.  Player Collections (Paul Blair and Johnny Antonelli) 

I am up to 124 unique Paul Blair cards and 62 Johnny Antonelli.  There isn't much left to add to these.  There are a couple O-Pee-Chee Blairs I need and I still need a Jello Antonelli. I am sure there are some regional issues out there yet unknown to me.  There are number of unlicensed issues that basically consist of cut autos in card form. They are generally issued in small numbers (I hate artificial scarcity and will not reward it) and they generally don't ever feature actual photographs of the actual person. So, I don't collect those.

4. Various Modern Sets that catch my fancy

I pretty much avoid modern sets.  As I have said, all the variations and short print artificial scarcity just ticks me off and I'd rather focus my limited funds on vintage.  Occasionally though,  a modern set will cut though the noise and interest me.   Here are the ones I am (sorta) working:
  • 2009-2011 Tristar Obak. 
  • 2000-2004 Fleer Greats of the Game.  I don't include 2006, because it was the first GOTG set after Upper Deck bought out Fleer and, frankly, it had absolutely none of the charm of it's predecessors. In fact, it has no charm whatsoever
  • 1991-1994 Conlon.  The first three years are complete.
  • 1993-1994 Ted Williams

5. Various Vintage Oddballs

I actually have more of these than I expected.  My approach to collecting has been to maintain focus on a small number of priorities. That is what I thought anways.  It is true, in a sense, since I still place much of my collecting effort on only one or two Topps vintage sets at any given time and the Fleer autograph project.  But, dang, I've got a lot of things open.

  • 1959 Fleer Ted Williams
  • 1961 Golden Press
  • 1968 Topps Game
  • 1970 Kelloggs
  • 1978 TCMA The 1960s
  • 1972 Sunoco Football Stickers
  • 1974-75 Loblaws Hockey Stickers

What I am listening to: The Perilous Night by Drive-By Truckers

Thursday, March 15, 2018

1963 Fleer Autograph Project - Part 63

It is late and I've been up 21 straight hours.  I got up at 3:00 AM this morning and left home at 4:00 to catch a flight to Houston to attend an industry briefing on the expected effects of the recently imposed steel tariffs (Long story short, they won't do what they are intended.) At the end of the day, I started my trip home that, unfortunately, included a 3 hour layover in Dallas.  I am home now, but it is after midnight and I am wound up.  So, I am going to have an adult beverage, crank this post out and hopefully get some sleep.

Here it is.  The 63rd autographed 1963 Fleer card (out of 66 total cards in the set) that I have added to my collection.

I snagged this on EBay in raw form for less than $40 and sent it off for authentication.  It arrived back today.  I only have three cards from 1963 Fleer that are not autographed:

38 - Dick Farrell
56 - Roberto Clemente
60- Ken Boyer

At the moment, I am still planning to attend the National in Cleveland this summer. I have family in Cleveland and it is a good opportunity to visit.  If I do end up going, adding one or more of the three above will be my goal.  I expect that Clemente will never happen, but I would be pleased to eventually add the other two.

What I am listening to:  Jackson by Carlene Carter

Friday, February 23, 2018

1961 Fleer Autograph Project - Part 16

I'm dang near caught up. Which is good, because I am heading to a card show tomorrow; my first in at least four months.  So, let me knock this off right quick now.  Here is the 16th autographed 1961 Fleer card I have added to my collection:

This one set me back the princely sum of $19 delivered, which I consider a bargain for a member of the baseball Hall of Fame.  Kiner's career was cut short, after 10 major league seasons, due to back issues, but was elected to Cooperstown in 1975. He had a long career as a NY Mets radio announcer.  At the time of his death in 2014, he was the last living player featured in the 1960 and 1961 Fleer Baseball Greats sets.  Only 5 other players featured in those sets lived into the 21st centurey (Lou Boudreau, Marty Marion, Bob Feller, Ted Williams, and Eddie Joost.)

What I am listening to: Things Have Changed by Bettye Lavette

Things Have Changed by Bettye Lavette on VEVO.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A New Player Collection Addition

It's cold outside and I am not interested in going outside and doing anything.  There is plenty to do around here, but I think I'll crank out another post before I go dormant again.

It has been a long time since I added anything to my two player collections: Paul Blair and Johnny Antonelli. I have likely exhausted most of the major issues for both men and am down to the rare oddball/regional issues.  Of course, there are numerous non-licensed cut-auto issues over the last decade.  But, I don't really collect those as they generally don't feature photos and are issued in deliberately low numbers (Artificial scarcity makes my blood boil and is why I gave up collecting modern set issues (I'm looking at you, Heritage!)

But, I continue to keep an eye on EBay in case anything new (to me) pops up for these PCs. A few weeks ago something did:

A 1961 Kahn's Wiener Antonelli.  This is considered card #1 in the 43 card set.  The cards aren't actually numbered, as you can see below. But, Antonelli is first when the card subjects are alphabetized.  So, card #1. Kahn's was an Ohio meat company, so this set only features players from the Indians, Reds, and Pirates.  The set features Hall of Famers Bill Mazeroski, Frank Robinson, and Roberto Clemente.

A quick review indicates that this is the 62nd unique Antonelli card in my collection.  That includes a couple Stratomatic cards.

What I am listening to: Corazon Espinado by Santana

Sunday, February 11, 2018

1961 Fleer Autograph Project - Part 15

Well that last one was fun, but it is time to move back to the shallow end of the pool.  Here is my 15th autographed 1961 Fleer card, Ossie Bluege. 

I picked this up for $19 delivered. 

Ossie Bluege had an 18 year MLB career between 1922 and 1939, all with the American League Washington Senators. He put up a .272/.352/.356 slash line over that career.  That is just slightly above replacement level, as he put up a total of 28.3 WAR over his playing days.  He was considered one of the better third baseman of his era and modern fielding metrics support this notion.  He also managed the Senators from 1943 through 1947. Overall, during his 5 years at the helm, he out up a 375-394 win-loss record, though he did lead the team to two second place finishes in 1943 and 1947.

His on-field career ended after 1947 and he went on to a long career in the front office, first as a one man farm director and later as the team comptroller (he was an accountant in the off-season during his playing career and executive secretary.

While he could be considered a baseball lifer, he probably isn't all that well known by modern fans.  One claim to fame that should resonate with modern baseball aficionados is the fact that he was the guy that originally scouted and signed future Hall-of-Famer Harmon Killibrew

What I am listening to: Psycho Killer by Talking Heads

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

1961 Fleer Autograph Project - Part 14

So, we are heading full-on into February and I am catching up to late December.  For reasons too complex and boring to go into, I had a little extra cash heading into the holiday (weird, huh?)  So, I decided to go after a card that could be the centerpiece of my Fleer autograph project. Here it is:

The Splendid Splinter!  Interestingly, this was fairly affordable.  I grant you affordable is relative. But, most Williams autographs on EBay sell in the $150-$300 range.  Surely, that isn't exactly cheap, but considering this is probably the greatest hitter of all time,  I am pleased to get it.  For the most part,  I have been bottom feeding on the 1960/1961 part of the project; spending about $25 per signed card. There are a number of other signed 1961 Fleer's that are considerably more expensive and way outside my budget.  For example, I've never seen a Jimmie Foxx for less than $1000 and the two that are available on EBay are nearly $1500.  Additionally, there are a number of cards in the $500-$1000 range. They are mainly of players that died during the 1960s, like Ray Schalk and Hippo Vaughn.

So, I cannot speak to what may happen in the future, but I believe this may be the keystone addition to this project.

Overall, how am I doing on this project:

Year Total Cards Possible Have Percentage
1960 79 40 7 17.5%
1961 154 95 16 16.8%
1963 66 66 62 93.9%
Total 299 201 85 42.3%

What I am listening to: Gimme Something Good by Ryan Adams

Sunday, January 28, 2018

1961 Fleer Autograph Project - Part 13

 I really need to get caught up here.  I now have 4 autograph project posts that need to written and one addition to my player collections to review.   This is the 13th signed 1961 Fleer card I have added to my collection:

The back reads:

Hack was one of the greatest of all National League third basemen.  With only two years of minor league ball at Sacramento and Albany, Hack became a Cub regular in 1934, hitting .289.  In six seasons, he hit .300 or better. In five years, he led third basemen in put outs, two years in fielding and two years in assists. After retiring from playing in 1948 he managed Des Moines, Springfield, Los Angeles and the Cubs.
I am not sure on what basis they consider him among the greatest third baseman, at the time. Modern metrics peg him as a roughly league average fielder.  I have to assume it is based on his offense. He put up 52.7 oWAR (vs. 1.4 dWAR) over his career.  Though not a power hitter (57 career HRs), he did manage a .301/.394/.397 slash line over 16 years with the Cubs. He was an on base machine, scoring nearly twice as many runs as he drove in.  He was close to being a Cubs lifer, except for a short stint as a Cardinals coach and manager (10 games to close out 1958.)

Many, including Bill James, thinks Hack should be in the Hall of Fame. Modern HOF metrics don't look favorably on him, but it is hard to say how much of that is due to the changing nature of baseball and the "popularity" of power.

Coming up next:  A fabulous Christmas gift to myself

What I am listening to: I'll Drink to You by Duke Jupiter