Friday, April 14, 2017

1961 Fleer Autograph Project - Part 6

After the big 1963 Fleer Mays pickup, my hobby activity has been quiet.   A serious uptick in the activity at work, along with the various farm chores that come with the spring, have kept me busy.  My recreational attention has also been focused elsewhere (but more on that later.)

I have picked up a few more autographed Fleer cards recently. Two are still in transit, but here is one that has been sitting on my desk for a while.

Hal Trosky was a power hitting first baseman with the Cleveland Indians in the 1930s and early 1940s.  His 11 year career was shortened as intense migraines kept him from playing, and out of military service, in 1942 and 1943. With the migraines under control he played for the Chicago White Sox in 1944 and 1946, after which he retired to farming and scouting in his native Iowa. His finest year was 1936 when he hit .343/.382/.644 with 42 home runs and a league leading 162 RBIs. Alas, it was only good enough for 10th place in the AL MVP behind none other than Lou Gehrig.  Trosky passed away in 1979 at the age of 66.

A Word about the blog: You may have noticed that I have changed the blog header.  I had been exclusively a baseball fan until recently.  Living in Oklahoma City, it is hard to escape the NBA Thunder.  As the years have passed, my wife and I have grown more and more interested in following them.  We ended up buying a 6 game mini-package of tickets this year and managed to attend 10 games total (They went 9-1 in those games.)  We also have playoff tickets for the first round against the Houston Rockets. So far, I have not been paying attention to baseball because the Thunder have consumed what little band width I have available. I have no intention of collecting basketball cards to go along with this new passion, although you may see one or two every now and then.

A word about the banner:  I love that picture. It was taken right after Russell Westbrook hit a buzzer-beating 3 pointer to win the April 9th game against the Denver Nuggets in Denver. This was the game where Westbrook collected his 42nd triple-double to pass Oscar Robertson for the single season record.  It was also the game where the Nuggets were eliminated from the playoffs.  The whole range of human emotion, from Westbrook's elation to the fans mixture of incredulity and resignation, is shown in that picture.

What I am listening to: No Mess by Sarah Gayle Meech

Sunday, March 19, 2017

1961 Fleer Autograph Project - Part 5

After the big 1963 Fleer Mays pickup, I have been sleeping off the hobby hangover that came with it.  I have had one post in my drafts folder for an auction I won prior to the 1963fest:

I won this for a bit over $18 delivered.  Allie Reynolds is a native Oklahoman. He was born in Bethany, which is now an OKC suburb (not sure if it was back in 1917 when Reynolds was born.)  He died in OKC 77 years later. He had a 13 year career between 1942 and 1954, with the first five years in Cleveland and the final eight with the Yankees.  In those 8 years with the Bombers, he played on six winning World Series teams.

He retired after the 1954, in which we was still effective turning in a 13-4 record with a 3.32 ERA and a better than league average ERA+ of 105.  After his playing career, he was active in the oil and gas business in Oklahoma, becoming the owner and President of the Atlas Mud Company which appears to be still extant 23 years after his death from complications of lymphoma and diabetes.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

1963 Fleer Autograph Project-Part 62

Before I get to the 62nd autographed 1963 Fleer card, I'm going to build a little suspense and take you through the other cards I bid on but didn't win. And I am going to hide the pickup below the fold, so you have to cheat to see it. Don't cheat.

So, here are my losses:

Vada Pinson - this one surprised me. I figured it would sell for around $50, so I set my bid limit comfortably above that at $75. However, I was wrong and consequently lost the auction. My habit is to wait until there are about 10 seconds left, then enter my bid. Normally, it works fine for me. I get my bid in but don't leave enough time to have someone outbid me. But, in this case, someone else had taken a similar approach, but with a higher max bid, and I didn't have time to place a followup.  I would have liked to get it, but the final price of $82 was probably a bit steep.  Particularly since this was the first auction I was bidding on and was trying to not overbid early and shoot through my budget before the end.

Dick Farrell - I'm kicking myself on this one. I though the auctions were spaced out enough that I could finish bidding on one and move to the next, but for some reason when I flipped over to the Farrell auction there was just a few seconds left and I didn't have time to get a bid in before it closed.  The auction closed at $78, considerably less than the $132 a similar card sold for some weeks back. Who knows if I would have gotten it anyways, but I would have rather bid and lost fairly than to miss bidding altogether, like I did.

Ken Boyer - I really wanted this one. Ken Boyer died young in 1982, so I have seen very few of these. In fact, this was only the second one I have ever seen. The other one was a few years ago and I can't remember how much it sold for. So, I was willing to go up to $100 for this. It ended up going for $163. Crazy. Whomever got it for that price deserves it.  Tip of my hat.

Now, you may have figured out what the third auction I won was. But, in case you haven't put the effort in to looking back at my previous posts where I list the cards I was till missing (and I hope you have enough life that you didn't), I am going to hide the card below the fold.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

1963 Fleer Autograph Project - Part 61

Jumping ahead to the new additions to my autographed 1963 Fleer set, ere is the 61st signed card:

I ended up snagging this one for $43, which I think was a good deal. Power (nee Pellot) lived out his retirement in his native Puerto Rico, where he passed away in 2005.  He had a 12 year MLB career, between 1954 and 1965, playing with 5 teams (Philadelphia/KC Athletics, Cleveland, Minnesota, California Angels, and the Philadelphia Phillies.) He was considered a solid first baseman, winning 7 consecutive Golden Gloves and pioneering the one handed fielding style that is common today, but considered flashy at the time.

Coming tomorrow: the second, and best, of the new additions.

What I am listening to:  We're a Happy Family by the Ramones (note the shirt at 1:10)

Friday, March 10, 2017

1963 Fleer Autograph Project, Part 54 Revisited

A few weeks back, a high quality autographed 1963 Fleer set came up for auction at a legit auction house.  This set had 65 out of 66 cards signed and authenticated; missing only Roberto Clemente.  I kept my eye on the auction, but it was quickly bid up past my means and eventually sold for $2900 (before buyers premium!) I thought nothing more of it until about a week and half ago when the same set showed up on EBay being auctioned off individually.  Having just received my annual bonus at work, I decided to bid on 7 cards; 5 I still needed and 2 that would upgrade my current version.

The auctions closed this past Sunday, and I was poised on line for the final bidding.  I managed to snag 3 cards total. One was an upgrade and the other two filled in holes.  I'm pretty excited that I am now up to 62 of 66 cards autographed.  I think you'll see why.  But, I'm going to make you wait and break this up into 3 posts.

Here is the upgrade:

You can see my original signed Clinton here.

Coming up tomorrow: the first of two new additions to my autographed set.

What I am listening to:  Boom Boom in the Zoom Zoom Room by Blondie

Thursday, March 9, 2017

1961 Fleer Autograph Project - Part 3 and 4

As I mentioned on the previous post, I targetted and won 4 autographed cards from the 1960 and 1961 Fleer sets. Having previously shown the two 1960s, here are the 1961s. These are the third and fourth autographed cards I have from that set.

From my calculations it is theoretically possible to get 94 of these cards in autographed versions (subject died in 1962 or later). So, I have a ways to go.

Dolph Camilli had a 12 year career, broken up by military service during WWII.  He had a solid 7 year run between 1936 and 1942, the first two years of that stretch with the Philadelphia Phillies followed by 5 years with the Brooklyn Dodgers.  During that time he racked up between 4 and 7 WAR each year.  His best year was 1941 when he hit .285/.507/.556 with 34 home runs and 120 RBIs, and won the NL MVP. The MVP race that year was a Brooklyn affair, with the second and third places going to team mates Pete Reiser, and Whit Wyatt. That said, Brooklyn still lost the World Series to the Yankees in 5 games. In his only post season series, Camilli went 3 for 18 with 1 RBI.

Rick Ferrell had an 18 year career as a catcher with the St Louis Browns, Boston Red Sox, and Washington Senators between 1929 and 1947. He was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veteran's Comittee in 1984.  I was actually surprised that he was in Cooperstown, since he doesn't stack up statistically to contemporaries like Mickey Cohcrane, Bill Dickey, Gabby Hartnett, or Ernie Lombardi.   And certainly modern sabermetrics don't do him any favors. But he was a solid player for a long period of time, making 6 all star games, including 4 straight between 1934 and 1937. Interestingly, in 1944 and 1945, while with the Washington Senators, his pitching staff included 4 knuckleballers (Roger Wolff, Dutch Leonard, Mickey Haefner and Johnny Niggeling.)

Coming up: Another 1961 and a return to 1963.

What I am listening to: Keep on Rollin' by Elvin Bishop

Friday, March 3, 2017

1960 Fleer Autograph Project - Part 3 and 4

A group of autographed 1960 and 1961 Fleer cards came up recently on EBay. I targeted, and won, four of them, two from each year. Here are the 1960s.

Lou Boudreau is an interesting guy.  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame, as a player, in 1970.  Over the course of a 15 year career (1938-1952), he had a respectable triple slash line of .295/.380/.415 while playing premier level defense as a shortstop.  13 of those years were in Cleveland, with the final two in Boston. In that final season, he only appeared in 4 games mid-season. He won a batting title in 1944 and was the AL MVP in 1948, when he hit .355/.453/.534 with 18 HRs and 106 RBIs.  The second and third place finishers in the MVP ballot that year was no less than Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams.

What is interesting about Boudreau is that, for 10 of those years he was a player/manager.  Starting in 1942, and through 1950, he managed the Indians, including during their World Series Championship season of 1948.  Get this: his first year as a player manager in 1942? He he was 24 years old.  Crazy huh?

Johnny Mize is also a Hall of Fame inductee (1981). He enjoyed a 15 year career (with 3 years missed during WWII) with the St Louis Cardinals (6 years), NY Giants (6 years), and tghe NY Yankees (5 years). He put up a .312/.397/.562 triple slash over the course of that career, knocking in 2011 hits and 359 home runs.  He managed to be on 5 world championship teams, all with the Yankees at the end of his career. By the time he played with the Bombers, he was mainly a role player. What I know today as a fourth outfielder. However, at the age of 39, in the 1952 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers, he went 6 for 15 with 3 home runs and 6 RBIs.  This included a pinch hit home run off Preacher Roe in the bottom of the 9th in game 3, which was won by the Dodgers; a solo home run in the Yankees 4th game victory, and a 3 run dinger of Carl Erskine in game 5 (won by the Dodgers.)

What I am listening to: Jump Around by House of Pain (don't judge)


Saturday, February 25, 2017

1961 Fleer Autograph Project - Part 2

This project is starting to roll along nicely. There are plenty of cards out on EBay. So many that I could being getting them almost continuously. I am holding back, since there are other things I would like to do in the short term, both in my collecting and in my real life.  There are a few more coming in the mail that I was able to snag for a song. But, more about that later.  Here is the newest addition:

Hal Schumacher had a 13 year major league career between 1931 and 1946, with 3 years off serving in the US Navy during WWII. Schumacher is an interesting choice for a set ostensibly of all time greats.  Don't get me wrong, he had a creditable career and modern metrics show him to be better than league average over the course of that career. But, other than three solid years at the outset of his career (19-12, 2.16 in 1933, 23-10, 3.18 in 1934, and 19-9, 2.89 in 1935) he was what would be considered a solid mid-rotation starter during his NY Giants career.

The best game in his career, as measured by Win Percentage Added, came on April 24, 1938. On that date, he pitched a complete game, one hit shutout against the cross-town Brooklyn. He also went 3 for 4 in the game with 3 singles, though none of those hits contributed to any scoring as the Giants sole run came on a Mel Ott home run to lead of the top of the second inning.

What I am listening to: Zombie Stomp by Ozzy Osbourne

Saturday, February 11, 2017

1960 Fleer Autograph Project - Part 2

So, here is my second autographed 1960 Fleer card of Hal Newhouser:

I picked this up for $16.15 delivered.

Newhouser had a 17 year career from 1939 through 1955, all but two with the Detroit Tigers, that culminated in his election to the Hall of Fame in 1992. He had a 207-150 record with a 3.06 career ERA.  Modern metrics show him as a career 130 ERA+ (with 100 being average) and as having racked up 60.4 WAR.  That has him tied with Joe McGinnity in the all time pitching WAR list.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

1961 Fleer Autograph Project - Part 1

Let's kick off my new and improved 1960s Fleer Autograph Project.  By way of review for any new arrivals here, several years ago, I started working on getting my 1963 Fleer set autographed.  As of today, I have autographed versions of 60 out of the 66 player cards in the set.  1963 was Fleer's first set to feature contemporary players.  The company had issued two sets, in 1960 and 1961, that featured great players of the past.  My quest here is to acquire as many autographed versions of the cards from those sets as I can.

The difference will be that, for 1960 and 1961, I am only going to chase certified authentic autographs.  Since 1963 featured many players who are alive today, I didn't have such a restriction. Indeed many of my autographed 63s came from public signings and TTM requests.  However, since the earlier two sets were of past greats, many of the subjects are long departed this mortal coil.  Certified autos, while not foolproof, do significantly increase my confidence that the signatures are genuine.

So, here is my first 1961:

1961 Fleer featured a total of 154 players from the past.  By my review, a total of 59 of those featured players died in 1961 or earlier, leaving an upper limit for this quest of 95 cards. I am not sure when the autographed card craze started, but another 17 players died during the remainder of the 60s, 31 in the 70s, 28 in the 80s, 12 in the 90s, and the remaining 7 since 2000.  The last player featured in 1961 Fleer to pass was Ralph Kiner in 2014.  If I had to guess, I would think it would be fairly difficult to get more than 50-60 such cards for this set. But, we will see.

Now, on to Burleigh Grimes, who passed away in 1985.  Grimes played 19 seasons in the majors, with 7 different teams between 1916 and 1934, amassing a 270-212 record. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1964.  Modern metrics don't really do him justice. According to Baseball Reference, he accumulated 46.9 WAR over that 19 year career, which is only good enough for 119th best on the all time list. That puts him behind fellow 19 year veteran Bartolo Colon (49.4 WAR), who is by no means a HOFer.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

1963 Fleer Autograph Project - Part 60

Well, I guess I achieved one of my 2017 goals and January isn't even over!

A couple dozen autographed 1963 Fleer cards showed up on EBay a couple weeks ago. Most I had but two I didn't.  This Gene Oliver card above which (obviously) I won and a Dick Farrell that I did not.  I was able to score the Oliver for less than $25 delivered.  The Farrell, which I bid way too much for, went for $132.  I suppose that is because he died in 1977 before the autograph craze really took hold.  I would have liked to snag that one, but I am not upset given the crazy price it went for.

This is the 60th autographed 1963 Fleer card in my collection, out of a total of 66 cards in the set.

I need the following cards to complete this quest:

5 - Willie Mays
23 - Vic Power
34 - Vada Pinson
38 - Dick Farrell
56 - Roberto Clemente
60 - Ken Boyer

What I am listening to: King Nothing by Metallica

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Ten Records

The godfather of baseball card blogging, Night Owl, threw down a challenge earlier this week: to name 10 albums that were significant to you and tie it to baseball cards.  This is my effort.  I've gone a little further and added videos of songs from the albums (with one exception) and tied the cards to the song.    So, here we go:

1. Styx - Cornerstone

Why this album: This album changed my musical tastes.  Prior to buying Cornerstone, I listened to the worst of 1970s pop music, like The Village People and KC and the Sunshine Band.  The song Babe was what drew me in, but it was the rock power anthems on the record that converted me over to rock music.

Why this card:  Well, I am nothing if unoriginal.  Babe is the song that introduced me to Styx.  And what other baseball player to show?  Sure, there were many ballplayers with the nickname babe.  32, according to Baseball Reference.    But, none are greater than Babe Ruth

2. AC/DC - Back in Black

Why this album:  This album, bought at the KMart in Chili Center, NY really led me into the hard rock world and away from the (sometimes forced) theatrics of Styx.  A lot of Styx music sounds dated now.  Back in Black, at 37 years old, still fits into the modern music landscape.  Plus, I remember driving to Buffalo in a blizzard to see AC/DC as a college freshman.

Why this card: What Do You Do For Money, Honey?  Don Money?  Like I said, I don't pretend to orginality.

3.  Sammy Hagar - Standing Hampton 

Why this album: The first concert I ever attended was Sammy Hagar (with Aldo Nova opening) at the Rochester Auditorium Theater in my junior year in high school.

Why this card:  Well, standing hampton is a NSFW slang.   Look it up and you'll understand.

4. Stevie Ray Vaughan - Texas Flood

Why this album: I remember hearing a cut from this album, SRV's debut, on the radio during my senior year in high school and being completely blown away by it. The cassette tape was pretty much on loop for me the summer between high school and college.

Why this card:  Well it is Curt *Flood* and he was born in Houston, Texas.

5. R.E.M. - Reckoning

Why this album:  I first heard this playing on the store sound system as I wandered about The Record Archive in Rochester during college. It blew me away and I bought it immediately. It was my entrĂ©e into alternative rock.  The video is a bit of a stretch. I really spent some time thinking about this and never got anywhere.  I finally googled "R.E.M. " and "baseball" and found out two members of the band formed a group called The Baseball Project and released two baseball themed albums.  So, I went in that direction instead of beating my head on a wall trying to tie Harborcoat to baseball.

Why this card:  Well, the song is called Harvey Haddix.

6. Metallica-S&M

Why this album:  This brought me back to heavy metal after a long time away. I don't have an extensive metal library, but I do appreciate watching people that are really good at what they do.  And Metallica is that.

Why this card:  I defy anyone to come up with a different player.  Enter Sandman played whenever Mariano Rivera came in from the bullpen at Yankee Stadium and Metallica played at his final game.

7. Pine Valley Cosmonauts - The Majesty of Bob Wills

Why this album:  I came across this album in the music section of the late, lamented Borders Bookstore.  They had headphones along the rows of CDs that would allow you to listen to selected albums.  This album was one such selection.  It introduced me to Western Swing music, an amalgam of country and jazz most popular in the 1930s and 1940s.  It is still around, most notably by the Austin band Asleep at the Wheel.  Bob Wills is in both the Rock and Roll and Country Music Halls of Fame.

Why this card:  Well the song above is about the Alamo, which is in San Antonio. Cliff Johnson, a player on the Yankees teams of my youth is from San Antonio.

8. Social Distortion - Social Distortion

Why this album:  I really like the SoCal punk sound here.  And, when I found out that there was a fair amount of crossover between the SoCal punk scene and the classic country and Bakersfield sounds (typified most recently by Dwight Yoakam), I was hooked.

Why this card: Well, Casey Stengel wrote a book titled "Casey at the Bat: The Story of My Life in Baseball."

9. Slaid Cleaves - Broke Down

Why this album:  I don't rightly recall if this was my introduction to Americana music, since that is a fairly broad label that encompasses a number of other genres, like folk and alt-country. I will say that, after hearing this song on a locally produced radio show, I did go right out and get the CD and it did contribute to a new direction in my music listening.

Why this card:  Well, what else is the baseball equivalent of one good year other than the one year wonder.  And Joe Charboneau falls into that category

10. Metamodern Sounds in Country Music by Sturgill Simpson

Why this album:  Sturgill Simpson is the man.  Along with Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell, he is saving country music.  Much to the chagrin of Nashville's Music Row. But screw them. They are peddling crappy pop and bro country. If you haven't seen his performance on Saturday Night Live recently, you should.  Go here and here.  While I expect that Beyonce's "Lemonade" will win, I'd love Simpson's "A Sailor's Guide to Earth" to win the Record of the Year Grammy.

Why this card:  Okay, this is a stretch. I admit it. But, I do need to show some faint glimmer of originality. Turtles all the way down is a colloquial expression of the infinite regress problem in cosmology.  It is also considered an example of the Anavastha concept in Indian philosophy.  So, here is a card of two Indian natives who joined the Pirates minor league organization in 2009 as part of the reality show, Million Dollar Arm. Dinesh Patel only hung on for two years, both in Rookie ball.  Rinku Singh made it 4 years, getting as high as A ball.  He resigned with the Pirates in November 2015 and managed to pitch one scoreless inning in rookie ball during the 2016 season.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Updated 2017 Goals - A New Quest

So, on my previous post, I had a number of goals for this year, one of which was to add one more card to my 1963 Fleer autographed set.  With only 7 cards remaining in that quest, two of which are out of my reach (Mays and Clemente), I rated that as the goal I was least likely to achieve. I have started to broaden my searches for that by looking at auction houses, but I still rate it as my most challenging goal.

Then this happened:

On a lark, I submitted a bid on this card at Pristine Auctions. I didn't figure I'd win a autographed card of a Hall of Famer with my low ball bid. Alas, I did.  For a mere $16 (delivered,) this card is mine.  So, I decided to add 1960 and 1961 Fleer to my autographed set quest.  There are 79 cards in 1960 and 154 in 1961.  I'll start researching what is achievable with this project, so stay tuned.

I've already completed 1960 and am 4 cards away from completing 1961 as unautographed sets. But, while I like set building, I like challenges, too. The autographed 1963 Fleer set was a challenge. And hella fun. So, I thought I'd give this a try. There are probably plenty of cards that I can't get, like Babe Ruth, where the player died before these cards were issued.  And probably plenty that may be too expensive, but this is one of those challenges where it is the journey and not the destination. 

Well, that is it.  I need to head out to get stalls ready for the cold weather tonight and feed the horses. I have tickets for tonight's OKC Thunder-Denver Nuggets game.  My employer is a sponsor of the Thunder and I was able to score a couple tickets that are usually reserved for the marketing folks to use to schmooze customers.  Row B in the level closest to the floor.  Normally,  the nose bleed seats (300 level) is what I can afford. I will generally splurge once a year on 200 level seats. So, I am excited beyond belief!  Ta!

What I am listening to:  Away by Rorey Carroll.

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 Hobby Resolutions

Everyone else is doing it, so why shouldn't I?

Of course, being on the wrong side of 50, I have personal resolutions for 2017:

  1. Lose some weight.  In 2016, I slimmed down from over 220 to 188.  With the holidays, I've put about 8 pounds back on.  I'd like to lose that and a few more. Ideally, I'd like to get under 185.
  2. Exercise.  With a full time job, a 40-60 minute commute on each end of the day, and a 17 acre farm to care for, I have little time for aerobic exercise.  But, I'd at least like to start walking more.
  3. Thunder up!  My wife and I bought a 6 game package for the OKC Thunder this year and will probably end up going to 8-10 games, overall  We've talked about getting on the wait list for season tickets next year.  They would be in the nose bleed section, because anything closer to the floor would be out of our price range. It would be hard to make it to 40 games next year, so we may look for another couple to go halfsies with us.
On the hobby side, I have a few goals:

  1. Finish one or both of 1970 and 1972 Topps.  These are the last two sets I need to finish the run of Topps sets from the 1970s.
  2. Finish 1961 Fleer. Only four cards to go, although two are expensive: Ted Williams and Babe Ruth.
  3. Cut the remaining want list on 1956 Topps by a third. I need 75 cards, plus the two checklists, to finish.So, 25 new (to me) cards.
  4. Although I suspect that I'm pretty much at the end of this quest,  I'd like to add one more autographed 1963 Fleer card to that set. Of the 7 cards I still need, only one player is still living and that is Willie Mays. Of the 6 other cards, one is Roberto Clemente.  Those two ain't happening.  So, it will have to be Vic Power, Vada Pinson, Dick Farrell, Ken Boyer, or Gene Oliver.
  5. Maybe have some original content around here.  
  6. Get rid of all the cards I don't want. That is my collection in the picture.  Top two shelves are my sets.  The third shelf down is all my duplicates and unwanted cards.  The bottom shelf is supplies and what not.  I'd like to clean that third shelf out.

So, there it is.  Bring on 2017!

What I am listening to:  The L&N Don't Stop Here Anymore by Billy Bragg and Joe Henry