Tuesday, March 14, 2023

1961 Fleer Autograph Project - Part 35

 I really need to get my rear in gear here. Previously, I had mentioned that I had a bit of a curve thrown at me by life late last year. That situation is now coming to close.  As a celebration, I have bought another signed 1961 Fleer card to my collection. That one will be, once I receive it, the 63rd such card. So, I really need to get this party going. Hopefully, I can actually make regular entries in this series as there is a long way between 35 and 63.

Fred "Firpo" Marberry is often considered the first relief specialist.  To be sure, there were relief pitchers before Marberry's time, but it was never really a specialty.  Indeed in the 1910's, the decade before Firpo started his professional career, over 62% of the games ended in complete games.  Over the space of his major league career that level decreased but was still substantially around half of all games.

I would have researched this further, but I really didn't want to pay for more detailed access to Baseball Reference, so I tried another approach.  Using the free part of B-R, I looked at the progressive career leaders for games finished and looked to see which of the various leaders had more than half of their career appearances in relief.  Only one name stuck out: Doc Crandall.  Over a 10 year career, Crandall made 302 appearances, 168 of which were in relief.  In contrast, Marberry made 365 relief appearances in the 551 games he appeared in.

Here are some random facts about Marberry (mostly stolen) from his SABR biography:

  1. A big man, Marberry stormed around, throwing and kicking dirt, glaring angrily at the batter. He and catcher Muddy Ruel would put on an act during warm ups intended to psych out opposing batteers.He was Al Hrabosky a couple decades before Al Hrabosky was even born.
  2. Marberry acquired the nickname Firpo because of his size and facial resemblance to Argentine boxer Luis Firpo. 
  3. At the time, games at Griffith Stadium typically started at 4:00. In the faster-paced games of the time, this meant that “Marberry Time,” as it was soon called, would arrive at about 5:30 or 6:00, with the shadows rolling across the diamond. For a fastball pitcher like Marberry, this was an ideal environment.
  4. He had a short stint as an American League umpire in 1935, but found the job too lonely.
  5. Even after his major league career was over at the age of 37 in 1936, he continued pitching in the minors, mostly the Texas League, for 5 more seasons.
  6. He owned a 600-acre farm near Marberry ‘s boyhood home in Mexia and, at various times, he operated a wholesale gas distributorship and ran a recreation center in Waco.

What I am listening to: Honeysuckle Blue by Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Happy New Year!


What I am listening to:  Auld Lang Syne by The Choral Scholars of University College Dublin

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Night Owl Delivers

 It's been nearly 3 months since my last post.  A lot has happened since then n my life, though not on the hobby front.  You're hear for the cards, so I won't waste time on life events other than to say I've been thrown a curve, but all is generally well for me.  And it is the holiday season!

I got back into the hobby just about 12 years ago, attending my first show and getting my first cards in December of 2010.  I began trading cards online shortly thereafter, though as a marginal blogging personality (at best) it was always a small part of my collecting experience.  I went back and looked to see who those early trading partners were.  The first person I traded with after re-entering the hobby was Chris over at Nachos Grande.  The second was Night Owl.  Fast forward to today and I do some sporadic trading over Twitter (though I intend to leave there soon) and at Net54.  But, for the most part, my only consistent partner now is Night Owl, with whom I trade with a couple/three times each year.

Anywho, I mentioned previously that I'm shifting my collecting focus somewhat.  Specifically, I won't be building any sets from 1954 or prior due to the cost and will start building some of the sets from the 1980s.  Sometime back I bought a huge box of junk wax for $10 and it included a substantial amount of 1989 Topps.  A few weeks ago, I got an email from Greg asking incredulously "Are you really building 1989?"  When I confirmed that I was, Greg was generous enough to knock off my entire want list for the set. And here is a sample of what he sent.  Knowing his feelings for the man, I am most surprised that he parted with a Jack Clark card.

Or, perhaps more accurately, I am surprised he allowed a Jack Clark card to take up space in his house for any length of time. Either way, I'm glad to have it and glad to have 1989 in the books.

Greg didn't stop there, though.  See for yourself:

A 1966 Roger Maris.  Damn.  I mean, damn!

This is probably a good launching off point to talk about my 2022 and plans for 2023. It seems like an awkward segue but bear with me.

2022 was generally a sedate year, hobby wise, as I was preparing for a job search.  But, at the same time it was very productive, as I managed to finish 3 sets (starting in December 2021): 1960, 1965, and 1968.  I also made substantial progress on my 1969 set.

So, what is in store for 2023?  My goals will be simple:

  1. I'd like to finish my 1955 Topps set, because I only need 5 more cards.  Those 5 are Jackie Robinson, Harmon Killebrew (RC) and three high number commons.
  2. Finish my 1969 set.  I am 15 cards from completion, with the biggest names being Clemente, Bench, and Nolan Ryan.
  3. To the extent, I finish at least one of the two above mentioned sets, I'd like to start a new set.  1966 has vaulted into the lead now that I have Maris.  Logically, 1967 would be the choice since I have completed 1968 through 1979, but I have heard too many horror stories about the high numbers in '67.  So, '66 it is.
  4. Start one set from the 1980s, with '82 and '85 being the leading candidates.
So, not only has Night Owl sent me a really nice, valuable card, but he has helped clarify my goals for next year.  Thank you, Greg!

What I am listening to: Colors by Black Pumas

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

1961 Fleer Autograph Project - Part 34

It has been a bit over a year since I last posted about my autographed 1960 and 1961 Fleer project.  In that post, I shared that I won a lot of 47 signed 1961s, of which I needed 18.  The other 29 were shipped off to an auction house and I netted back about half of my original lot cost. I've added a few more over the last year and, as of today, I am sitting at 61 signed cards from this set. So, we have some catching up to do.

Hall of Famer Lefty Gomez (1972 Veterans Committee) pitched in 368 games across all or part of 14 seasons. All but one of those games were with the NY Yankees between 1930 and 1942.  The sole game where he didn't where the pinstripes was an ineffective 4 2/3 inning start for the Washington Senators in the first game of a twin bill on May 30, 1943.  His finest season was probably 1934, when he went 26-5 with a 2.33 ERA and finished 3rd in the MVP voting behind only Mickey Cochrane and fellow hurler Charlie Gehringer. Oddly enough, he finished ahead of teammate Lou Gehrig, who was 5th in voting despite hitting for the Triple Crown (the only time he ever did so.)

His best game may have come on May 24, 1932 against the Philadelphia Athletics. Lefty pitched a complete game while allowing only 3 hits and 1 walk against 13 strikeouts. One of the hits was a ground ball single by Jimmie Foxx, who was hitting .441 at the time and was well on his way to the first of his three MVP seasons.

Gomez was known as one of the funniest men in baseball, though much of his humor was self-deprecating. An example was when Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon in 1969, and he and NASA scientists were puzzled by an unidentified white object. Upon hearing of it, Lefty said, “I knew immediately what it was. It was a home run ball hit off me in 1937 by Jimmie Foxx.”

What I am listening to:  Down by the Water by The Decemberists

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Good God!

 I realize the gap between this post and its predecessor isn't all that long, at least for me.  I am trying to get ramped up to post more about my signed 1961 Fleer project, since when I last left off I was posting about my 33rd such card, and I just picked up my 61st.  But, I want those posts to be informative and that involves taking time to research them.  Currently, I am really busy at my new job and I have several large projects I want to finish around the farm before the cold weather sets in, so I have not found the time to sit down and focus on the research.  So, this is basically a throwaway post.

As you know, prior to working on a signed 1961 Fleer set, I was working on a signed 1963 Fleer set. And, when we last left that project, I had autographed versions of 65 out of the 66 cards in the set; lacking only Roberto Clemente.  I have only ever seen that card come up for auction a couple of times and it always finished waaaay outside my budget, Another showed up in the Most recent Memory Lane auction. The opening bid was $2,500 so I was out of the running before the auction even opened.  The auction closed last night and check this out:

Absolutely crazy.  I cannot even imagine.  If I had $10K drop into my lap I have plenty of things I could do with it: put it towards a new car, knock a chunk off my mortgage balance, put it away for retirement, the possibilities are legion. Buying this card would be pretty close to the last thing I would do.  

Anyways, back into my hole. 

What I am listening to: Resignation Superman by Big Head Todd and The Monsters

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Pleasure and Pain

As I mentioned earlier, I had lived frugally for over a year in order to prepare for a job search.  And, since I was only off for 6 weeks, I had some extra money saved up.  Most was used in a responsible, adult way. Some as a supplement to our retirement savings, and I also bought a used utility tractor for use around our acreage. But I did decide to do a little celebratory hobby spending.  Some of it you saw in my previous post.  Here is the rest of it:

I honestly didn't think I'd get this.  I threw a bid on it that was 30-35% below comps for a PSA 4 and actually won.  I am assuming it didn't command a typical price because of that side-to-side centering.  But, I have always been a corners and edge man.  As long as there is border all the way around, I am happy.  And there is border all the way around here. So, good to go.

But this comes with a cost, since this card was many multiples of my previous most expensive purchase. I did have to "borrow" against future hobby spending, And that cost, not surprisingly, is severely curtailed hobby activity at least through the end of the year.  I will try to knock off the commons I need for my 1969 set and I may actually start working on some of the junk wax era sets that interest me.  But, that is probably about it.

Speaking of which, that big box of junk wax I bought a couple months ago for a tenner?  It had a near complete set of 1989 Topps and I have thrown a want list over on the sidebar. I had previously decided to not work any base sets newer than 1979.  But, as I sneak up on retirement in 6-8 years, I am re-evaluating how I want to collect between now and then and, of course, afterwards.  I have already decided that 1955 is the oldest set I will build, And I will likely start moving forward in time from 1979. Most of the 1980s Topps sets are growing on me. I'm not a fan of '86 or '87. In fact, I absolutely hate 1987. But the rest of the decade is fine and will make a nice way to keep collecting without having to open my wallet too wide.  Along those lines, that big box of junk had a partial set of 1988 Score, which I also like well enough to build the set and may even post about.

So, there you have it. I have reached the pinnacle of my collecting life with this card. But, I am looking at the future without any sense of melancholy.  I am happy to have this card, but I also got a great deal of enjoyment out of the Felipe Alou card I needed to finish my 1965 set, which I started working 5 years ago.  That is the beauty of this hobby. You can do it any way you like on any budget you like.

What I am listening to:  Starlight by Yola

Friday, August 19, 2022

Card Show Pickups - Miscellaneous Stuff

 In my last post I mentioned I bought a few cards at last weekends show just because they caught my fancy. And here they are.

I found this signed 1977 Willie Randolph in a $5 box.  The more I look at it, though, the more convinced I become that it is not authentic.   So, basically, a fiver down the drain.

Over the last few shows, I've picked up individual vintage football cards of HOF players. Nothing expensive, but mainly players who names I recognize and I may have watched as a youngster.  I really like the 1967 Topps Gino Cappelletti; enough that may try to build that set.  At the time, Topps only had the license for the AFL. NFL cards were issued by the Philadelphia Gum Company.  The dilemma I face is whether I should also collect the 1967 PGC cards also.  Generally, I like the design of the Philadelphia cards, which were issued between 1964 and 1967.  But, 1967 was ugly with a canary yellow border.  So, I may just stick with Topps. It isn't anything I am going to start soon, so who knows what will happen.

Another thing to note here is the back of the card, which is very similar to the back of 1968 baseball.  I am assuming Topps got a deal on that godawful yellow ink.  As they probably started the printing the baseball cards after finishing up the football set.

Capelletti is an interesting fellow. He was both a placekicker and a receiver. He passed away at the age of 88 earlier this year.

Believe it or not, this is the first 1951 Topps I have ever owned. I had to have at least one and this is probably where I will stop.  I am glad to have this card, but the set doesn't capture my imagination.

And, there it is.  My favorite pickup from the show. It was marked as $50, but the seller is my main in-person vintage guy, so he usually gives me a decent discount. So, I am guessing this cost me more around $40. Not a small sum, but well worth it to have an autograph of one of the greatest ballplayers ever.

So that is about it for the show.  Not sure what it next. Hopefully, I will start posting more.

What I am listening to: Lone Pine Hill by Justin Townes Earle