Thursday, September 2, 2021

1961 Fleer Autograph Project - Parts 39 to 56

I've talked about getting back into the hobby waters in some small way. I still have a job search ahead of me, and it still isn't clear exactly when.   The powers-that-be have finally bowed to the reality most everyone else has accepted and moved the planning date for the merger out from mid-September to late October to mid-November.  That would put my layoff date somewhere around May 1, plus or minus a couple weeks,  I would have liked to make it to June 1, since I started with this company on May 21, 2012 and I would have hit 10 full years of service. It would have netted me some additional severance, but also just because 10 is a nice round number.  A minor star kinda number.  If it happens, it happens.  If it doesn't, that is fine also.  Moving on means not looking back.

My preparations for that coming job search are progressing nicely and I still expect to have a comfortable cushion of savings for that time.  So, while I have been dabbling a bit, my hobby spending has been way down.  So, I recently took the plunge and bid on a lot of 47 signed 1961 Fleer cards in a recent auction.  And, guess what? 

I won.  And here it is.

I have to be honest, this box contains my largest single hobby purchase in the 11 years I've been back in the hobby.  By a long shot.  My previous largest purchase was around $300 and this came to $1,100 after shipping.  Ouch, right?  Yeah, ouch.

It probably won't end up being bad in the long run.  Before bidding I looked up comps on all the cards and it totaled up to a bit shy of $2,000, with the cards I actually needed totaling about $900.  So, depending on how you look at it, I either over or under paid.  

Of the 47 cards in the lot, I needed 18; the 18 you see spread out above. The stack in the back are the 29 cards that I already had.  Those will be shipped off to another auction house later this month.   My hope is to recoup a decent portion of my outlay.

I am hoping to restart the series of looking at the subjects of these cards.  Though as I look back, the last one I did in the series was part 33.  That means sometime in the last 6 months I added 5 others.  I guess I am going to have to go back and figure out which ones.  

Anyway, this gets me up to having 56 signed cards from the 1961 Fleer set.  The set has 154 cards, but by my calculations only 96 subjects were alive at the time the set was issued, so I am sitting at 58% complete. Alas, it gets harder from here since I have pretty much gathered all the affordable autographs and just have the heavy weights to go.

What I am listening to: Easy by The Commodores

Monday, August 16, 2021

A Toe in the Water

As I said in my previous post, I've decided to not leave the hobby behind as I get ready for my upcoming job search. That's the theory anyway.

My observation is that collecting baseball cards is a hobby driven by emotion.  Seriously, can you see a Vulcan engaging in this hobby? Of course not.   But, I have found that emotions run both ways.  Even knowing that I have over 9 months to go and that being out of work doesn't represent an existential financial threat, it has been exceedingly difficult to even open the purse strings.  As an example, I was planning on heading down to the 600 table Dallas card show a few weekends ago to look for some vintage commons and trade bait to use in my autographed Fleer project.  But, my wife's card needed a $1,500 repair and that gave me the reason I was probably unconsciously looking for to not go to the show.

But, here is a recent arrival:

A magazine type supplement to the 1978 Yankees yearbook that I picked up off of eBay for a whopping $16.  While I have the 1978 picture album, I don't have the actual yearbook yet.  It does appear that they can be had for around $20. So, that may be my next big splurge. Anyways, that is the front cover above and this is the back cover below.


1977 was a exciting year for Yankees fans.  A World Series victory on the back of Reggie Jackson's
3 home run Game 6.  Sparky Lyle's Cy Young win, the first for a relief pitcher. And the emergence of Ron Guidry, who's 16-7, 2.82 rookie season was a foreshadowing of his stellar 1978 season


There is a month by month review of the season.

And there is the payoff.  An sheet of 27 trading cards of the key players from that season.  Out of curiosity, I looked to see how many different players appeared for the Yankees in 1977, The answer was 36, so the 26 players shown in these cards represents nearly 3/4 of the total.  For laughs, I looked to see how many players appeared for the Yankees this season, which is only 2/3 over.  The answer is 56, 28 of which were pitchers.

I find myself struggling to follow baseball the last few years, while I concurrently stay up to date on the NBA even in the offseason. I think there may be a clue as to why in the previous paragraph.  The modern baseball team seems to have become a revolving door of players and if you aren't making following the team a major part of your day then you are reduced to rooting for a uniform and not a core group of players that comprise the team year after year.

Anyway, that is my theory. It is also possible I am just a bad fan.  

What I am listening to: Down on the Street by The Stooges

Friday, August 13, 2021

Field of Dreams

 I am 55 years old and I am, in equal parts, nostalgic and cynical.  I watched the Field of Dreams game last night hoping that it would resonate with the former, only to find that it mostly hit the latter.

Don't get me wrong, as hokey as it is, I love the movie. I view it as a spiritual journey allegory,  The main character goes through a series of intellectual crises that lead to him making leaps of faith, with the end result of him reconciling with his father (or, perhaps his Father.)  I am trained as an engineer and, constitutionally, am inclined to analyze any decision as rationally as possible.  So, the character represents something I wish I could be and, to the extent we are dealing with idealization, I want the experience to be through the gauzy focus of nostalgia.  The movie achieves that.  

The game did not.  At least not for me.

The root of my objections are twofold. First, MLB leaned too hard into sentimentality and it came off as contrived and antiseptic. Second, the field itself was over engineered. They basically dropped a brand new A ball stadium into a corn field.  So, what specifically annoyed me?

  1. It wasn't even the real field!

  2. I would have preferred there was no outfield barrier, just corn marking the confines of the playing field, although...

  3. I did the think the rough wood fencing was a reasonable compromise...until I realized that it wasn't even wood but a fabric covering a chain link fence

  4. Advertisements on screens behind home plate

  5. The White Sox at least made an attempt to have their uniforms reference the movie. The Yankees just wore their normal road uniform.

  6. The opening with Kevin Costner walking across the field with soundtrack music seemed to be specifically set up to elicit an emotional response.
Overall, it was just too corporate. I mean, I get it.  Baseball is a business, but they didn't need to make it that obvious.  

Anyways, that is my take.  If you enjoyed the game, I won't judge.  It just wasn't for me.

What I am listening to: One Million Miles by Heart

Friday, August 6, 2021

There It Is, There It Goes

 There it is:

A lot of 61 signed 1963 Fleer cards is being auctioned off right now at Heritage Auctions and it includes a signed Roberto Clemente.  For anyone reading this who isn't familiar with what I collect, I have been working on a signed 1963 Fleer set for over 9 years and have autographed versions of 65 out of 66 cards.  What is the one missing?  Roberto Clemente.

So, to answer the question that is likely on your mind; no, I will not be bidding on this,  The current high bid is nearly $3,500 (with the buyers premium) and the auction has three weeks until it closes.  My guess is that this will go for between $6,000 and $7,000.  That is so far beyond my means that I wouldn't bid even if I wasn't facing a job search in the future.  However, the person who helped me get the 64th and 65th cards for my set also needed Clemente. So, I sent him the link to the auction in case he hadn't seen it. He had and has already bid. So, because he helped me out when he didn't have to, I am hoping he wins.

Speaking of the job search, I don't have any firm date on when I will be leaving this job.  It is supposed to be 6 months after the acquisition closes, but no one knows when that will be. It could be as soon as mid-September, but is more likely to be in the fourth quarter.  So, with a steady paycheck into the April/May timeframe and the ability to get through an extended job search, I've decided I can loosen up and dip a toe or two into the hobby waters.  So far, that decisions hasn't turned into much action.  Though I have one recent acquisition to post about in the next few days.

What I am listening to: Highway to Hell by Tom Morello, Eddie Vedder, and Bruce Springsteen

Thursday, April 15, 2021

When the Urge Strikes

Yes, I am on a hobby hiatus.  Sort of.  Mostly anyways.

My job situation has cleared up and changes are in my future.  It is too difficult to explain concisely, and that isn't why you are here anyways.  So, suffice it to say, I've decided my tenure in the job will be coming to an end sometime before the end of the year.  I'm at the point in my life that I don't feel compelled to hang on to a job at all costs.  I have enough solid experience that I can find another job and have the ability to weather an extended search. And, surprisingly, making that decision has introduced a significant feeling of peace into my life.

I am still mostly on a hiatus, but I have been selling off stuff that doesn't really fit in my collection with the intent to use the proceeds to go a show or two and try to work on some of the sets I am close to finishing.

So, last weekend with about $350 in my pocket, I wandered up to the OKC show with the more specific goal of knocking off some of the star cards I needed for my 1960 and 1965 sets. How did I do?  Well, see for yourself...

I bought about a dozen 1972-1973 Topps basketball commons for that set, but this 1955 Willie Mays was my only other purchase.  There was exactly one vintage seller at the show and he only had two of the '60 and '65 star cards I needed and they were at a price I wasn't willing to pay,. But, this Mays was. It took pretty much all the money in my pocket, but it was mine.  And less than an hour after arriving at the show, I was on my way back home.  

To be perfectly honest, I am somewhat ambivalent about finishing the 1955 set. I am only 14 cards from completion, but that Clemente rookie is still out there and I just don't see it ever getting into my price range. And, to be fair, the Jackie Robinson card in the set is selling well above my comfort level also. I will undoubtedly still pick up needs here and there, but I may just have to find a reprint or a modern shiny to fill the Clemente spot in the binder.

What I am Listening to: The Color of a Cloudy Day by Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires

Friday, March 19, 2021

In Memoriam - February 2021

 February 2 - Grant Jackson

February 3 - Wayne Terwilliger

February 4 - Hy Cohen

February 10 - Billy Conigliaro

February 11 - Wynn Hawkins (1960 Topps 536)

February 16 - Angel Mangual (1972 - 62)

February 16 - Lew Krausse (1973 - 566)

February 18 - Juan Pizarro (1965 - 125)

February 20 - Stan Williams ( 1970 - 353)

Saturday, March 6, 2021

1961 Fleer Autograph Project - Parts 31 to 33

 I've had a lot come at me this last few weeks.  It was announced  that my employer is being acquired by a larger company and I am staring into the teeth of a major transition.  Then my 84 year old mother had to have emergency surgery a bit over a week ago. I was up there last week, though I mainly was dog sitting, since I wasn't allowed in the hospital.  She did come home about a day before I left.  So, I will be going up again next week to help her recover.  With the job uncertainty and the extra travel expenses, I am going to take a hobby hiatus. So, this post will likely be my last hurrah for a little while.  It isn't like I was all that prolific to begin with, so no one probably would have noticed anyways.

Before all this came up, I was watching a number of signed 1961 Fleer cards on an auction site.  There were seven I was watching, but five sold for way more than I was willing to pay.  But, I did win two!

Bill Terry played his entire MLB career with the New York Giants (1923 to 1936), mostly as a first baseman. He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1954 and is still the last player to hit over .400 in the National League.  He did that in his stellar 1930 season where he hit for a .401/.452/.619 slash line and tolled up 254 hits, which is still tied for 3rd in the single season records for all of MLB, tied with Lefty O'Doul and behind only George Sisler and Ichiro Suzuki.  From his age 33 season (1932) through the end of his playing career, he was also the Giants manager and he continued in that role for 5 more years after his days in the field ended.  In his second year as player manager (1933) he guided the Giants to a World Series championship.

As you might expect, there is a wonderful SABR biography.

Joe Dugan is an unlikely player to show up in a baseball greats set, like 1961 Fleer.  If such statistics are to be believed, he was effectively a replacement level player, racking up 9.4 total WAR over a 14 year career spent mostly with the NY Yankees and Philadelphia Athletics. Therein lies a clue though.  Dugan was the Yankees starting third baseman from 1922 through the middle of 1928. In that role, he appeared in five World Series, three of which the Yankees won.  He hit a 3 run inside the park home run in Game 5 of the 1923 series.  Thankfully, for your reading pleasure there is a SABR biography.

And now, one of the crown jewels of my signed 1961 Fleer project. Coming in second only to Ted Williams, is this Joe "Ducky" Medwick.  At that Dallas show I went to a month or so back, there was a dealer in autographs.  And not just high end autographs. He had half a dozen 5000 count boxes filled with signed cards (mostly modern, but also vintage) that could be had for less than $10 each. Last year, I had become acquainted with a person who builds signed vintage sets and had signed Fleer cards I needed for my project.  Unfortunately, I never had much luck finding anything he needed other than a couple of my duplicate 1963 Fleer commons.  

It was the end of the day in Dallas and my back was starting to seize up (you young 'uns will understand when you cross over to the wrong side of 50,) so I only got through half of the 5000 count boxes. But I found about 8 cards he needed. I also took a look at the star cards he had in a display box and found another card my friend needed.  And with those cards, we started to work out a trade. At first, I thought I might go for a volume, and trade for a number of the lower value needs. But, those cards are lower value because the subject players were prolific signers.  Why trade for something I could pick up off of eBay for less than $30?  So, I ended up trading for this Medwick.  Medwick died in 1975, so there isn't many of these out there. In fact, I think I have only seen one other.

I've blah blah blahed enough.  SABR Biography

What I am listening to: Commercial Rain by Inspiral Carpets