Sunday, February 14, 2021

1961 Fleer Autograph Project - Parts 28 to 30

 I think I may have an attention problem. My collecting goes in phases. I'll go whole hog on one part of my collection and then, later, drop it and move on to something else.  At the end of 2020 and in January, I was working on my 1960 and 1965 sets. I even went to a really large show down in Dallas with the intent of moving them much closer to completion. In a sense, I did. I picked up a fair number of commons, along with a few minor stars for those sets.  But, I still lack a fair number of major cards for both sets and the prices that were being asked for those cards were well beyond what I consider reasonable. 

Now, I get that the market has moved over the last year and perhaps my criteria needs to be updated. But, even though I have been saying this for quite a while, I do think we are in a bubble, albeit one with some staying power.  I am 32 cards from finishing 1960 and 44 from finishing 1965. Of those, 8 and 12  are major star cards, respectively. So, those two sets may soon join 1968 on the "not quite complete, but waiting for the bubble to pop" shelf. 

In the mean time, after I snagged one of the last signed 1963 Fleer cards I needed at Clean Sweep Auctions, I noticed that there was a huge lot of signed 1961 Fleer cards up for auction.  I am talking about a 46 card lot, with 20 cards I still needed. So, I figured out what those 20 needs would have set me back at eBay market rates and decided to bid up to that level.  It would have been my largest single hobby purchase.  Except, I misread the auction closing rules and couldn't bid.  It would take a while to explain the bidding rules, but suffice it to say this is the only auction where I have ever seen those rules. 

Anyways, the lot finished right at where my maximum bid was. Which means I probably would have lost anyways.  But, it did get me to start looking beyond eBay.  As luck would have it, a 5 card lot of signed 1961 Fleers was up for auction at Heritage. I only needed 3 of the 5, so I determined what the market rate was for only the three I needed and set that as my maximum bid.  This time I made sure to understand the auction rules and placed my bid. And I won. Here are the three I needed for my signed 1961 Fleer project.

Babe Herman, a native of Buffalo NY, had a 13 year major league career, most with the Brooklyn Robins.  The bulk of his MLB career was between 1926 and 1937, with a short stint back in Brooklyn in 1945. The interregnum was spent playing with the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League, then considered something of a West Coast quasi-major league. As always, SABR has a biography of Babe that does justice to the man. Read it. He is a fascinating character. I learned from it that he was actually the scout that originally signed my favorite player, Paul Blair, to a professional contract.  

Bibb Falk played a 12 year career, 9 with the Chicago White Sox and 3 with Cleveland. He was a prime beneficiary of the Black Sox Scandal, as the ensuing suspensions opened up the opportunity for him to start his major league career in 1921 as Joe Jackson's replacement in left field. He was a solid, if not powerful contact hitter, with a .314 career average and no single season lower than .285.  In a typical 162 game season, he would strike out only 33 times.  Once again, there is a great SABR biography.

Finally, the only Hall of Famer in the group.   After a 5 game cup of coffee with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1912, he kicked of a 13 year run in the majors in 1916.  He was a spitballer that was able to continue throwing the pitch after it was outlawed in 1920.  In what may have been his finest year, his 1918 season comes in at 9.9 Wins Above Replacement, only slightly behind the great Walter Johnson (10.4). No position player exceeded 6.8 in the season (George Sisler.)  He was voted into Cooperstown by the Veteran's Committee in 1969.  And, saving you from my tortured prose, you can find his biography at SABR.

What I am listening to: The Rumble by Chick Corea and Steve Vai

Saturday, February 6, 2021

In Memoriam - January 2021

 Monday, January 4, 2021 Tom Acker

Tuesday, January 5, 2021 Don Leppert

Thursday, January 7, 2021 Tommy Lasorda HOF

Sunday, January 10, 2021 Pedro Gonzalez

Thursday, January 14, 2021 Ron Samford

Tuesday, January 19, 2021 Don Sutton HOF

Wednesday, January 20, 2021 Mike Sadek

Friday, January 22, 2021 Hank Aaron HOF

Saturday, January 23, 2021 Paul Foytack

Monday, January 25, 2021 Dick Smith

Tuesday, January 26, 2021 Ron Johnson

Friday, January 22, 2021

1963 Fleer Autograph Project, The Finale

My last post was about the 64th unique signed 1963 Fleer card in my collection.  I told the story about how I came to possess it, But, that was not the whole story.  I couldn't share the rest of the story at the time. Now, I can.

The seller of that signed Dick Farrell card is a big autograph collector.  Though I didn't know it at the time, he and I have a mutual trading acquaintance.  When he contacted me, he also pointed me to a card for sale at Clean Sweep Auctions: a signed 1963 Fleer Ken Boyer which I still needed. Because it was a raw card, I sent the listing to PSA for a quick opinion on it's authenticity.  And and it came back as "Likely Genuine."  So, as soon as I got the ruling, I went and bought it.

It shipped on the same day as the Farrell. But, unlike the Farrell which arrived 4 days later, Boyer went missing. From January 4, for two and a half weeks, he was no where to be found. I know the problems that the Postal Service has been having, so I remained patient.  Well, mostly patient. I still checked the tracking a few times a day to see Ken popped up again.  Yesterday, he finally did; showing up at the Oklahoma City Distribution Center.  And today, he arrived in my mailbox.

The 65th and final signed 1963 Fleer card in my collection.  Oh, I'll still keep an eye on the market.  I don't expect to see, no less buy, a signed Clemente.  But, it is fun to dream and I may be able to cheaply upgrade some of my rougher pieces. 

What I am listening to:  Vin Scully calling Hank Aaron's 715th home run.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

1963 Fleer Autograph Project, Part 64

 As long time readers (all 3 of you), I started collecting signed 1963 Fleer cards back in September of 2012  It was a project started without much thought for what I really expected to accomplish.  At the time, there were some cards that seemed out of reach.  If I had really stopped to think logically, I never would have started.  But, I did and as the circumstances of my life evolved, I found myself occasionally being able to acquire cards that I previously though out of reach.

I worked steadily on the set over time, but my efforts came to a halt nearly three years ago, in the spring of  2018 when I received back the Vada Pinson card from authentication.  I've done my best to keep my eye out for any of the remaining three (two really, since Clemente will be out of reach.)

Roll the clock forward to a couple of months ago, when a lot of 47 signed '63 Fleers came up for sale on eBay. One of the cards was of Dick "Turk" Farrell, who I still needed.  Farrell is a tough get since he passed away in 1977, at the age of 43 and only 8 years after his baseball career ended.  I dropped the seller a note expressing my interest in that card. Not surprisingly, he wanted to keep the group complete since the Farrell is one of the key cards in the set.  I told him that I understood and if he ever changed his mind to let me know.

Fast forward to New Years weekend when I get an message from him, saying he is ready to break the lot apart.  We quickly agreed on the price and here it is:

The 64th signed 1963 Fleer card in my collection.  The only one's remaining:  Ken Boyer and Roberto Clemente.  Both  are similar to Farrell in that they all died young. Clemente's story is well known, of course.  Boyer passed away in 1982 at the age of 51.   I have seen at least one copy of the Boyer card, and a couple of forgeries.  I have actually seen one Clemente also but, if memory serves, the asking price was over $5,000.  Even if I could afford that, I couldn't ever justify that kind of expense.  So, in the end, 65 out of 66 will be complete for me.

What I am listening to: I'll See You in My Dreams by Bruce Springsteen

Monday, January 4, 2021

New and Old PC Additions

 A few hobby things brewing here.  One I am really excited about, but probably won;t be able to share anything until this coming weekend, depending on the Post Office.  But in the mean time, I've added a couple cards to my Paul Blair player collection.

Wait. Don't I already have that card?  Yes, I do. I had three at one time, but traded one for the chicken bucket lid and a handful of team-issued postcards. So, this one brings me back up to three.  I've talked about this card before.  To recap, it was a limited edition Nabisco All-Star Legends card that was issued at regional in-person events and not through the mail like the more pervasive cards from this small set.  In 10 years, I have seen only 5 appear on eBay.  When the listing mentions the actual set name, the cards always sell for crazy dollars (the lowest I've seen is $68.)  

But, twice now it was buried in a larger lot of cards and the auction description made no mention of Nabisco.  Both times, I was able to pounce on the lot and win this card for a song.  This card above came in a lot with autographed cards of Brad Ausmus, Steve Avery, Harold Baines, Jesse Barfield, Jay Bell, Tom Brookens, and Earnest Byner.  The whole lot was mine for about $30.  I don't need any of the others, so claim 'em if you want 'em.

The second card is a custom card that draws it's inspiration from 1988 Donruss.

Other than the bare-bones back (I alliterate intensely) it is actually well done. I'm still not overly convinced about ACEO cards, but I am not deadset against them either.

Anyways, I've got a full day tomorrow and need to get my beauty sleep. So, I am going to end here and only mention vaguely that I am within striking distance of finishing one of my favorite projects that I've undertaken since I got back into the hobby.

What I am listening to:  Appalachian Nightmare by Justin Townes Earle

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Auld Lang Syne

 Life is odd.  This year has been tragic beyond comprehension.  We have seen, and suffered, such loss.  Yet only now, on the last day of the year, with the prospect of relief and normalcy on the horizon, do I feel the weight of the times.  I've struggled with a feeling of melancholy all day.  I hope, and believe, the turn of the calendar in a few hours, will usher in a year, not of forbearance, but hopefulness.

Please accept my best wishes for a happy and fruitful 2021.

Friday, December 25, 2020

An Appropriate Christmas Gift

I am, by my own admission, a difficult to person to buy gifts for.  My wife doesn't understand my collection and has wisely chosen to steer clear of it at gift giving times.  Beyond that, my life is uncomplicated.  I like to cook and eat, and take care of our farm.  I mostly have what I need for both and will generally buy what I need if there is something I don't have. 

This year, the main thing I wanted for Christmas was a new refrigerator.  We had our current one for 16 years and the thermostat would occasionally flake out and freeze the produce.  So, with 2020 being the way it was, we saved money by not eating out much at all and finally bit the bullet and got a nice new fridge.

But, beyond that, what was my poor beleaguered spouse to do?  

Befitting of any couple that has been together 30 years, we share a common language. Not so much a verbal language, though it is expressed in words. It is a language that really references shared experiences (think of the Star Trek: Next Generation episode "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra."

(Non-relevant) example #1: Like most long term couples, we understand each other so thoroughly we can finish each other's sentences.  When we do that our comment is "Lobsters!" This is a reference to a scene in the sitcom "Friends."

(Relevant) example #2:  When she asks me for gift ideas, I generally don't have much of an idea. So, I borrow a line from a movie we both love "A Christmas Story" and say "I don't know, maybe just some Tinkertoys."

When my wife was back in Ohio helping care for her mother, she visited a thrift store in her hometown that resells donations in order to raise money for charity.  This store always has high quality goods and clothes for sale and she usually ends up buying stuff every time we are back.  Her trip last month was no exception, other than she found a gift for me.  And, now that you have read this far, what was that gift?

I am just tickled to death with this gift. I had these as a wee boy. I'm not going to start collecting vintage Tinkertoys, but i am going to find a prominent place to display it as I reorganize my home office next week.  

Here is hoping that you are having a joyous holiday season and please accept my best wishes for a normal New Year.

What I am listening to: Ronin by Sturgill Simpson