Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Jesse Burkett - Master of the Inside the Park HR

 I'm still waiting on that card I spent a C-note on to arrive.  I ended up dropping an email to the seller on Friday.  Alas, he doesn't actually own a computer and the email was answered by his son and business partner.  My message was passed on to Bill, so I'll keep an eye on the mail. If it doesn't arrive by Thursday, I'll give him a call and, if he hasn't sent it, I'll ask him to bring it to the mini-show up at Al's on Saturday.

In the mean time,I'll bring you another interesting story from baseball's history, using 2011 Tristar Obak as the launching-off point.

Jesse Burkett, a member of the baseball Hall of Fame, played major league baseball between 1890 and 1905 and still holds the MLB record for career inside the park home runs with 55.  Second on the list is Ty Cobb with 51.  Possessing a disagreeable personality, he was nicknamed "Crab." He continued as a player manager in the minor leagues putting in playing time from 1906 through 1913, as well as limited appearances in 1916 and 1919 (at the age of 50!)  His 1906 season may well be one of the more interesting seasons in baseball history. As a player for the Worcester Busters, he lead the B level New England League in hitting with an average of .344.  As the team manager, he lead the Busters to the first of four consecutive league championships.  What made it most interesting, though, was that he was the owner of the team at the time.  All and all, he appeared as a professional player in 28 different seasons.

Other Inside the Park Home Runs of Note:

  1. The most inside the park home runs hit in one season is 12 by Sam Crawford for the Cincinnati Reds in 1901.
  2. The most hit in one game is 3 by Tom McCreery of the Louisville Colonels on July 12, 1897.
  3. Since 1950, only two players have hit 2 inside the park home runs in a game: Dick Allen of the Chicago White Sox on July 31, 1972 and Greg Gagne of the Minnesota Twins on October 4, 1986.
  4. On July 25, 1956 Roberto Clemente hit the only walk-off inside the park grand slam in MLB history.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Why didn't any of you tell me this set existed?

Must collect.......must have.......

Sunday, October 21, 2012

In Which I Take Willie Mays Hostage

This weekend is the October card show up in OKC and probably my last such show until after the holidays are past.  I had stashed some cash away previously, combined it with my monthly allowance and walked into the show with the princely sum of around $200 in my pocket. I normally don't take near that much, but today I had some specific goals which made it necessary to spend a little heavy.  My goals were as follows:

  1. Formally purchase the big ticket card that I had closed a deal for a couple weeks ago.  Just about half my bank was set aside for this.(Yikes!)
  2. Knock of some of the 50 or so-odd remaining high number cards I need to finish my 1971 set
  3. Pick up a few 1960/1961 Fleer commons.
I only managed to actually succeed on the third goal, but half completed the first goal.  There were two specific dealers that tend to have a lot of 1971s and I was hoping one or both would be there. Neither were, leaving me to look at table after table of MOJO!!11!111!!!!  However, Zach and Bill from Wichita were there, so it wasn't a total loss.  Bill is an older gentleman, a retired investment banker, who I was to buy my big ticket card from.  Zach is a younger guy, who I buy from at every show.  He always has a decent selection of high end cards, but also a lot of big 3200 count boxes of midrange vintage commons. I started with him and  managed to find 10 commons from 1960 Fleer for a dollar each.

The cards were all really clean. Other sellers I have dealt with would have priced them at $2, which I might have paid.  I also managed to find 3 commons for 1961 Fleer, also for a dollar each.

Zach also had a small stack of 1963 Fleer and I found an additional 2 commons, and one star card, for that set that I needed.

Forgive the grunge on the left side of that Brooksie image. That isn't on the card. My scanner just needs to be cleaned.

After concluding the deal, I wandered down to Bill's table to get my card we had agreed on a couple weeks back.  Alas, he left my card at home and said he would mail it to me on Monday.  So, I looked over what he had at his table. He is sort of an odd dealer.  As a retired investment banker (who still swings a few deals in his retirement), he doesn't need to sell cards. He does it for the fun and normally will sell things at slightly more than his cost. So, his merchandise is generally more limited than other dealers and is usually a mish-mash of stuff without much rhyme or reason..But, he will always have some interesting stuff. So, when you are at his table you need to scan carefully to make sure you aren't missing anything. This time, he had one T206,  some neat 1939 Play Ball and a stack of close to 60 1950 Bowman cards that he was selling for $100 (some were nice, but most were rough). 

One thing did catch my eye.

I have been working on 1963 Fleer since last December but haven't made any progress in 2 or 3 months. Unfortunately, among the remaining are cards I need are ones like Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente (which book at $200 each.) I've been dreading getting those cards because they are so expensive.  But, having gotten over my nausea from closing a deal for over $100 for a card, I waded in anyways and he gave me a more-than-fair price for this one without me getting cold feet.  And it is a beaut.  Clean, sharp corners, and still has the original gloss on the front. The top to bottom centering, at 10-90, is the only weak point.

I am now in striking distance of completing this set, needing only 11 more cards to finish, including the aforementioned Clemente, Don Drysdale, and Warren Spahn.

So, we turned out conversation to the logistics of getting my other card to me.  I went ahead and paid him at the show, since I trust this guy. He said he had set the card aside for me and was pretty sure where it was.  Further, he said, if he couldn't find it he'd send me my money back. I offered him an alternative plan.  Pointing at another card on his table, I said that if he couldn't find the original card that we closed a deal for, I'd take that one.  He picked it up, handed it to me, and said "take it, it will be safer with you."  I protested quite sincerely that I didn't want to take what I hadn't pay for, but he was insistent.  Eventually, I relented.

And that is how I came to take Willie Mays hostage.

It is a nice card with solid corners and good gloss. I would put it in the NM range. It's only flaw is that it is miscut, as you can see by the solid line at the bottom. I assume it is a guide line for when the cards were cut at the factory.  The thing is that the top border looks close to correct to me. It may be a a tad narrow, but not enough that you should see the top of an adjacent card at the bottom. So, I held it up against another card and this one is actually cut a bit longer than it should be. Not surprisingly by about the width of that line.

Once (if) my other card arrives, I will send this 1962 Willie Mays back.

Or send a check to buy it.  At this point, with a 3 month card drought facing me, I am guessing I will opt for the latter.  Which, I am savvy enough to realize, was the seller's plan all along.  I generally pride myself on recognizing the tactics salesmen employ.  Resisting them is, apparently, another matter.  I guess we'll see later this week. I will be dropping an envelope in the mail.  Who knows what the contents will be.

Having completely spent my money in the space of about 30 minutes, I stayed a while and talked with Bill and Zack and then headed home to mow my lawn one last time for the year.  Last show of the year, but head and shoulders my favorite.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Well, the Yankees season is over, and not a moment too soon. That had too be one of the all-time most pathetic offensive performances in a post-season history. Game 4 started at 3 PM local time, when I was still at work.  I streamed the radio feed across my iPhone and listened to it while I was working.  By the fourth inning, when Detroit went up 6-0 my disgust level was such that I turned it off.

In a  way, I am relieved and am looking forward getting back to normal life. I have a stack of chores and small projects to work on over the winter.  Although, for the moment, I have a card show to go to on Saturday and I need to get myself prepared.

Over the coming days and weeks, I may dissect the Yankees a bit and talk a little bit about what I think they should do for 2013.

What I am listening to:  "The Boy in the Bubble" by Paul Simon

Monday, October 15, 2012

A New Approach

So, I was somewhat accurate on my prediction about Game 2 of the ALCS.  I said Kuroda would give up 3 to 4 runs in 6 to 7 innings of workmanlike pitching.  In the end, he gave up 3 runs in 7.2 innings, but it was anything but workmanlike. He carried a perfect game into the 6th inning, struck out 11 and walked none before getting yanked in the eighth.  Indeed, if it wasn't for some poor work by the bullpen, and a lousy call at second, he probably wouldn't have been charged with 3 runs.  The offense, however, remains anemic.  The supposed big boppers in the lineup (A-Rod, Granderson, Swisher, and Cano) have only managed 12 hits in 107 cumulative at bats this postseason.  I am pretty sure you could run any random sample of 4 AAA ballplayers out there and get more production than that.

Tuesday will see Phil Hughes take the mound against Justin Verlander.  Hughes is a good young arm but is prone to giving up home runs. In fact, only Ervin Santana threw more taters in 2012 than Phil. But, he is a gamer and while I expect he'll get tagged for one or two long balls, he'll keep the game close enough that the Yankees will have a chance if the offense wakes up.

But, the title of this post refers to something different.  I have never been really happy with my approach to blogging and have been wanting to make it more satisfying for myself and for my several readers.  I have fallen into the trap of my posts being all of the "look at what I got" variety.  Nothing wrong with that. I like seeing what you got.  But, I just don't get a lot of joy out of writing them.  And, having mostly eschewed most modern sets, my trading activity has dwindled to almost nothing. For several reasons, time is at a premium and if I am going to continue blogging, I need to make it more fun.

So, that is what I am going to try and do starting with the 2011 Tristar Obak box I got a while back. One of the things I like about Obak is that it is a quirky little set, of a manageable size, that is put together with some careful thought. Oh, it does do some of the up-and-coming minor leaguers, but generally never more than a handful.  What is unique about Obak, and why I love it so, is that it highlights noteworthy people in baseball history who, for the most part, are obscured by the bigger names.

Take for example, Cal Hubbard.

Hubbard is the only person to be a inductee of both the Baseball Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame.  And, for good measure, he is also a member of the College Football of Hall of Fame.  A significant achievement. Yet, I never heard of him until I pulled this card from a pack.

As a football player in the early days of the NFL, he was a top defensive player, making first team All Pro 4 times, while helping his team win 4 championships (NY Giants in 1927 and the Green Bay Packers in each year between 1929 and 1931.  He was among the inaugrual inductees when the Football HOF opened in Canton, Ohio in 1963.

While he was playing pro football, he began umpiring in the minor leagues during the off-season and and advanced to the major leagues by 1936, where he quickly became recognized as one of the best umpires.  His major innovation was to design, based on his football experience, a comprehensive system of positioning and responsibilities for umpires that is still used today. He was inducted into the Baseball HOF in 1976, about a year before his death in 1977.

What I am listening to:  The Passenger by Siouxsie and The Banshees.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Is the Yankee's Season Over?

I have to think so.  The Yankees pitching has been superb but, offensively, they are utterly pathetic. Derek Jeter, Mark Tiexiera, and Raul Ibanez are the only players showing any sign of a pulse offensively, and Jeter is now gone with a fractured ankle.  A-Rod, Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson, and Robinson Cano all look completely lost at the plate.  Cano I can forgive given he almost singlehandedly held off the Orioles in the last week of the regular season.  The others? Not so much. Granderson looks so lost, I half expect him to swing at pickoff moves to first. 

So, I am not expecting much today. Hiroki Kuroda has been the ace of the staff this year, far better than his 16-11 record would imply. In 8 of those 11 losses, he held the opposing team to 3 or less runs.  In short, he should've been a 20 game winner this season.  How will he do today?  Well, he is going on short rest, so I expect he will grind out a workmanlike effort. I don't expect him to shut Detroit down, but I don't expect him to get blown out either.  I see him allowing 3 to 4 runs in 6 to 7 innings of work.  With this Yankees team that should be enough for Detroit to head home with a 2-0 lead in the ALCS.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

October Mini-Show - Cheap HOFers

The nice thing about not building modern sets is you have some cash free for getting some nice vintage cards without having to plan in advance.  Walking into the mini-show last weekend, I didn't have any expectations regarding what I might find or what I wanted to find.  Sure, I had my 1971 want list with me, but with a larger show coming up next weekend, I didn't mind if I walked out empty-handed.  As it turns out, I didn't.

One seller, who always has a binder or two of 1971, wasn't there.  But, an older fellow out of Wichita, who always has killer deals was and I bought six cards from him.  I am not sure what his deal is. I gather that he was a banker and even though he appears to be retired, still helps putting large financing packages together.  In short, I don't think he sells sports cards for profit. I think he does it for the sheer enjoyment.  This is reflected in his prices.  He had a 1960 Stan Musial when I first walked in that  I wanted to buy, but someone else snagged it before I worked my way back to his table.

What did I get?  Some seriously cheap 1969 Hall of Famer cards and a couple of 56s.

Okay, so Sparky isn't in the Hall of Fame, but this is his rookie card.  No mention of his love of birthday cakes, though.

I think I spent around $60 on these cards and 2/3rds of that was on the Rizzuto. I'm pretty stoked about the two 1956s.  I am actually starting to move forward on that set. Sure, I am less than 20% complete, but I do have around 60 cards from the set, including Scooter and Billy Martin. There are plenty of (very) expensive cards to go, including the Mantle, but I don't plan to get hung up on quality for this set, so maybe in 4 or 5 years, I could actually finish this set.

This seller offered me a pretty killer deal on another card that I walked away from because it was  more than I had ever spent on a card.  But, after some thought, and consultation with my wife, I called him back and closed the deal.  I'll pay for it and pick it up at the larger OKC show on the weekend of October 20.  But, I am going to hold back on saying anything until I have it in hand.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Great Sunday

Wow, what a great Sunday it was.  Did you watch that Yankees-Orioles game last night?  CC was fantastic and what a ninth inning!

But, that wasn't the highlight of my day.  My wife and I went to see a small airshow by the Commemorative Air Force and splurged on a ride in a C45 Expeditor personal transport plane.

The flight was $65 per person for a 20 minute flight and it was well worth it. Right up there with the ride we took on one of the wooden boats at the Antique Boat Museum up in Night Owl Country.  There was also a B29 Superfortress there as well, but at $595 and up for a flight, we decided to just admire it from terra firma.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

2009 Tristar Obak - Packs 17 to 20

Pack 17

45 T212 Emmet Ashford Umpire
27 Chris Tillman Norfolk
30 Josh Vitters Peoria
50 Arnold John "Jigger"Statz Los Angeles

Who is the number 4 all-time hits leader in organized baseball? "Jigger" Statz, that is who.  With 3356 hits in the PCL on top of 737 as a MLB player, he comes in just behind Hank Aaron (who's combined total was 4095.)

51 Monty Stratton Sherman
101 Dinesh Patel GCL Pirates

Get this. Dinesh Patel, above, won a baseball reality show that was on Indian TV called "The $1,000,000 Arm" and signed a pro contract with Pittsburgh.  He made 15 appearances over two seasons with the GCL Pirates and his career was done. Co-winnder Rinkhu Singh is still kicking around in the lower reaches of the Pittsburgh chain and also plays in Australia.

Pack 18

26 T212 Duke Snider Fort Worth
6 Brett Lawrie Wisconsin
15 Neftali Feliz OKC

Having seen a decent number of minor league games over the last few years, Feliz is still the biggest I-saw-him-before-he-hit-it big player I saw before he hit it big.  He was a starting pitcher when I saw him with the OKC Redhawks and he was a starting pitcher again this year before getting taken down by Tommy John surgery.   That Tommy John guy is a menace.  He needs to be banned from baseball.

29 Angel Villalona San Jose
43 Walter Carlisle  Vernon
Walter Carlisle's claim to fame is being the only known outfielder to complete an unassisted triple play. Borrowing from Baseball Reference "Carlisle made a diving catch off the bat of Roy Akin just behind second base with runners on first and second, but the runners had taken off with the hit, so he touched second, and then ran by himself all the way back to first to complete the triple play."

48 Robert Forrest "Spook" Jacobs Asheville

Pack 19

12 T 212 Austin Jackson Scranton Wilkes Barre
7 Fu-Te Ni Toledo

Bring me a shrubbery!

Okay bad joke.  Fu-Te Ni spend 4 years in the Tigers organization, spending some significant time up top in 2009 and 2010. He was released in August of this year. My admittedly cursory research didn't turn up what, if any, future plans he has. Although, I would expect that he will land in a foreign league somewhere.

18 Austin Jackson Scranton Wilkes Barre

I have been starting to wonder about the value of the Curtis Granderson for Austin Jackson trade this year as Grandy has turned into a latter day Dave Kingman with a lot of power, but a low batting average and way too many strikeouts.   I didn't feel any better when I saw that Jackson has a significantly high OBP.  For my money,  the Yankees should let Granderson go and focus on keeping Nick Swisher. Move Brett Gardner to centerfield and signup Ichiro for another year to back fill Gardner in left.  But, I would bet Brian Cashman is more likely to let Swisher walk and keep Granderson. 

That really wasn't about Austin Jackson, was it?  Ah well, that is what I get when I don't actually plan posts out.

19 Andrew McCutchen Indianapolis
25 Justin Smoak Frisco
66 Jim Rice Pawtucket

Pack 20

11 T212 Jason Heyward Mrytle Beach
17 Jason Heyward Mrytle Beach
72 Russell "Lena" Blackburne Rubbing Mud
87 Abner Charles Powell New Orleans
97 John Heisman Atlanta
Yes, that Heisman. Apparently he was also, at one time, president of the Atlanta Crackers of the Southern Association. Heckuva nickname, though it's exact origin is unknown.

 A34 Anthony Slama New Britain Auto (2/5)

And my final auto from the box. Anthony Slama, who has jsut concluded his 4th year at AAA Rochester, with only a couple cups of coffee in 2010 and 2011. Frankly, I don't get why Minnesota doesn't like this kid. His minor league stats are solid. The rumor is that Ron Gardenhire doesn't like that many of his strikeouts (of which he accumulates A LOT) are looking rather than swinging. I suppose that the thinking is that it won't translate at the majors because of better hitters, but you would still think a team as pathetic as the Twins would at least give him a good look.

So, that is the end of my second box of 2009 Tristar Obak. I have a box of 2011 Obak to share, as well as a few cards I picked up at yesterday's mini-show. I'll try to knock them out as quick as I can. There is the bigger bi-monthly OKC show in two weeks and I'd like to have the decks cleared by then.  I think I am going to take a different approach to the 2011 Obak to try and make the posts more interesting and informative.  If anyone out there is still reading, stay tuned!

What I am listening to:  "The Walls of Laemnil" by Fairyland

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Chance Encounter

So, I had to run up north to buy horse feed today.    After finishing at the feed store, I suddenly realized I was close to one of the local card shops.  And, wouldn't you know, that shop has a small show the first Saturday of every month. Why, what an amazing coincidence, today is the first Saturday of the month!  Can you believe it?

But, the weirdness didn't end there.  When I grabbed the grocery list on my way out of the house, I somehow (I don't know how) grabbed my 1971 Topps want list. Can you believe that stream of coincidences?

Yeah, me neither.  My wife was going to a mall up in the same neighborhood and could have gotten the feed, but I volunteered to get it so I could slip over to the show.

So, anyways, I went to the show and was looking around a bit (only 6 or 7 tables) and there was a card table set up in the back of the shop. Come to find out (and this part I truly didn't know about) they were having an autograph signing with Ty Hensley, who was the Yankees Number 1 pick in the 2012 amateur draft.  So, after letting a few little kids in front of me, I paid my money and got an autographed picture.

It felt a little weird being a 46 year old man in line to get an autograph from a 19 year old kid. But, I felt a bit better seeing a fellow that was at least 75 also in line.

Ty made 5 appearances in the Gulf Coast League this year, had just gotten back from the Instructional League, and was going to be going soon to the Dominican Winter League. He is unsure where he will end up next season.  Low A Staten Island is possible, although he was hoping to get assigned to High A Charleston (or get promoted there during the season.)

Here is a scouting report on Hensley.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Theeeeee Yankeeeeeeees Win!!!

A few weeks ago, I poured my angst out all over the pages of this blog.  Boy, oh boy, was I ever wrong.

It is a damn shame that Chris wasn't here to say "I told you so."  I don't think he ever would have, but he would have earned the right nonetheless.  It was a fun stretch run where the Yankees finally started playing solid ball after sucking so badly since the All-Star break.

And, in another strange turn of events, I actually feel sorry for Bobby Valentine.  I still don't like him, but I do feel badly for him. I am not sure who could have turned that toxic environment around.  It will be interesting to see if the Boston owners and executive leadership deal with his firing any better than they dealt with that of Terry Francona. I always figured that Bobby Valentine was a default choice for manager last off-season since no one else really wanted to be stuck in the middle between undisciplined players and duplicitous executive management.  My guess, at this point, is the next manager will probably be the only person with enough credibility to not be viewed as a management stooge by the players or an expendable piece part by management.  My prediction is that the next Red Sox manager will be Jason Varitek.  We'll see if this prediction is any better than my last.