Wednesday, January 31, 2018

1961 Fleer Autograph Project - Part 14

So, we are heading full-on into February and I am catching up to late December.  For reasons too complex and boring to go into, I had a little extra cash heading into the holiday (weird, huh?)  So, I decided to go after a card that could be the centerpiece of my Fleer autograph project. Here it is:

The Splendid Splinter!  Interestingly, this was fairly affordable.  I grant you affordable is relative. But, most Williams autographs on EBay sell in the $150-$300 range.  Surely, that isn't exactly cheap, but considering this is probably the greatest hitter of all time,  I am pleased to get it.  For the most part,  I have been bottom feeding on the 1960/1961 part of the project; spending about $25 per signed card. There are a number of other signed 1961 Fleer's that are considerably more expensive and way outside my budget.  For example, I've never seen a Jimmie Foxx for less than $1000 and the two that are available on EBay are nearly $1500.  Additionally, there are a number of cards in the $500-$1000 range. They are mainly of players that died during the 1960s, like Ray Schalk and Hippo Vaughn.

So, I cannot speak to what may happen in the future, but I believe this may be the keystone addition to this project.

Overall, how am I doing on this project:

Year Total Cards Possible Have Percentage
1960 79 40 7 17.5%
1961 154 95 16 16.8%
1963 66 66 62 93.9%
Total 299 201 85 42.3%

What I am listening to: Gimme Something Good by Ryan Adams

Sunday, January 28, 2018

1961 Fleer Autograph Project - Part 13

 I really need to get caught up here.  I now have 4 autograph project posts that need to written and one addition to my player collections to review.   This is the 13th signed 1961 Fleer card I have added to my collection:

The back reads:

Hack was one of the greatest of all National League third basemen.  With only two years of minor league ball at Sacramento and Albany, Hack became a Cub regular in 1934, hitting .289.  In six seasons, he hit .300 or better. In five years, he led third basemen in put outs, two years in fielding and two years in assists. After retiring from playing in 1948 he managed Des Moines, Springfield, Los Angeles and the Cubs.
I am not sure on what basis they consider him among the greatest third baseman, at the time. Modern metrics peg him as a roughly league average fielder.  I have to assume it is based on his offense. He put up 52.7 oWAR (vs. 1.4 dWAR) over his career.  Though not a power hitter (57 career HRs), he did manage a .301/.394/.397 slash line over 16 years with the Cubs. He was an on base machine, scoring nearly twice as many runs as he drove in.  He was close to being a Cubs lifer, except for a short stint as a Cardinals coach and manager (10 games to close out 1958.)

Many, including Bill James, thinks Hack should be in the Hall of Fame. Modern HOF metrics don't look favorably on him, but it is hard to say how much of that is due to the changing nature of baseball and the "popularity" of power.

Coming up next:  A fabulous Christmas gift to myself

What I am listening to: I'll Drink to You by Duke Jupiter

Friday, January 19, 2018

1961 Fleer Autograph Project - Part 12 (mildly NSFW)

So, it's 10 PM on a Friday. I'm normally asleep after a long week in the mines.  But, for whatever reason, I am sitting in my home office with a glass (or more) of Jameson's Black Barrel, listening to my classic rock playlist on iTunes, watching political Twitter meltdown over a potential government shutdown, and trying to figure out how to move this shit forward.

Most men my age are having existential crises that, for some reason, involve sports cars. Me? Not so much. A Ford Fusion is plenty sporty enough for me. My midlife crisis involves an autographed sports card collection. I've mostly exhausted by 1963 Fleer project and have moved on to a similar effort regarding the 1960 and 1961 Fleer sets. I've struggled with this project on a couple fronts.  First, how to approach the project. Second, how to blog about it.

With regard to the first issue, there are a total of 233 cards in the aggregate of the 1960 and 1961 Fleer Baseball Greats sets.  It is my estimation that, of those 233 cards, there is a maximum of 135 cards that could be autographed by the cards subject.  I am pondering whether I just move forward as I have to date, with no clear plan other than serendipity? Or do I focus in on one year in particular? How do I apportion my limited hobby resources between this project and my vintage Topps set building efforts? Heck, do I even want to continue given that a Jimmie Foxx autograph would set me back four figures? I have no answers other than I hope I hit the Lotto before I have to face those big decisions.

With regards to the second question, who the heck knows. I'm just gonna wing it.

The only decision I can make, at this point, is whether that a third glass of whiskey will  make tomorrow's hangover that much worse.

The text on the back of this card reads as follows

Haas's brief minor league career earned him a trial with Pittsburgh in 1925, but he was sent to Atlanta for two seasons, and then sold to the Athletics. He starred for the famous Connie Mack pennant clubs in 1929, '30 and '31. He played from 1933 to 1937 with the White Sox, 1938 back with Mr. Mack, and then launched into a managing career in the Texas League. He returned as White Sox coach for ten years.
Let's be clear about something. Haas doesn't qualify as a baseball great.  He was,  though, a notable major leaguer.

The referenced 1925 trial with Pittsburgh consisted of 3 plate appearances in 4 games that resulted in exactly zero hits in three plate appearances and one run scored.  He did manage to to tally 12.4 WAR over a 12 year career. One win over replacement (on average) per year ain't that great. But, he did manage a 12 year career that saw him post a .292/.359/.402 regular season slash line and three World Series appearances (including two Series wins.) He did a couple tours through my adopted home of Oklahoma City, both as a player in 1924 and as a manager in 1939. There isn't much information that my drunk ass can suss out regarding the historic Texas League statistics/game logs, so I am just going to publish this post and hope for better on the next.

Random observation:   Fleer doesn't believe in the Oxford comma.

Non-Random observation: I'm gettin gcloser to Part 14, which is a doozy.

What I am Listening to: Slipping Away by Dave Edmunds

Sunday, January 14, 2018

1961 Fleer Autograph Project - Part 11

To give you some context about how far I am behind, I acquired the card below in July of 2017.  My hobby activity over the intervening 6 months has been minimal, so I don't have a huge backlog to catch up on.  But, I do need to get my act together if I am going to return to a normal hobby year in 2018.

I want to keep moving my set building moving forward, since I am 91 cards away from finishing the 787 card 1972 Topps flagship set, 156 cards away from finishing the 720 card 1970 set, and 63 cards away from finishing the 340 card 1956 set.

But, anyways, on to the reason for this post.   An autographed 1961 Fleer Red Ruffing:

Ruffing had a 22 year MLB career, the first six in Boston. An early season trade in 1930 sent him to the Yankees where he stayed for 15 seasons and participated in 7 world series. He missed 2 full and a partial third season to military service during WWII. He compiled a 273-225 record, with a 3.80 ERA across those seasons. Though he doesn't represent well under modern statistics, he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1967. 

What isn't as known about Ruffing is that he was actually a good hitter, racking up a career slash line of .269/.308/.389.  He was often called upon to pinch hit during his career.  Unfortunately, the statistics in Baseball Reference get sketchier the further back you go. I tried to look up his career batting splits by position and they don't add up to his career totals.  Suffice it to say, he actually totalled 15.0 WAR as a hitter!

What I am listening to:  Keep Between the Lines by Sturgill Simpson

Sunday, January 7, 2018

A Nice Surprise

A special Christmas gift arrived yesterday.  It is the 14th autographed 1961 Fleer card I've added to my collection. And, it is a doozy. However, since I just published a post on the tenth card yesterday, I still have several posts to go before I get to show it.  This post is not going to move that ball forward.

Friday, as I was helping my wife get ready to host her bunco group,  I wandered out to the mailbox to pick up what was likely bills and junk mail. I was surprised to find a bubble mailer with a return address in Watertown, NY.  It was, of course, from Night Owl.  Before running into town on another last minute shopping run, I quickly opened it up to see what was inside.

There was a small stack of cards, accompanied by a note reading "I don't know if you need any of these, but they seem to be about your speed."  There are two implied questions in the note:  Do you need these? Do you want these?  The answers were "mostly yes" and "definitely yes."

Of the 20 cars in the package, I already had two: a 1991 Conlon and a 1993 Ted Williams.  Beyond that, I needed, and wanted, all the cards.   There were three mid-1990s Upper Deck cards: a 1996 Jackie Robinson and 1994 All Time Heroes cards of Manny Mota and and Bill Mazeroski.

 The All-Time Heroes is a nice set that I would like to build some day.  Alas, unopened boxes are selling for $120 right now, so that is something that will need to wait.

The star of the show, so to speak, was 15 cards from the 1990 Swell set. 

As an aside: is it just me, or is seeing Johnny Podres as a Padre disconcerting?  Not because of the awkward alliteration, but I just always think of him as one of Roger Kahn's Boys of Summer.

Anyways, this is a set I have always liked. I actually have two cards from this set already, both autographed: Johnny Vander Meer and Enos Slaughter. I've always wanted to put it together, but with too many other open books in my collecting, it has never risen above the level of passing thought.  But now that I have over 12% of the entire 135 card set, I guess I am officially collecting it.

Thanks, NO!

What I am listening to: Better Bad Idea by Sunny Sweeney

Saturday, January 6, 2018

1961 Fleer Autograph Project - Part 10

Enough of the non-trading card interlude.  Back to the main event: my tenth autographed 1961 Fleer card.  This one of the second of two Dutch Leonards to play major league baseball.

This Dutch Leonard, no relations to the first, pitched for 20 years in MLB between 1933 and 1953. He was a knuckleballer and compiled a 191-181 record over those 20 seasons. That may not sound like an overly impressive win-loss record, but the modern statistic ERA+ shows that he was at least league average, and often significantly better,  every year of his career save one.  He racked up a 51.7 career WAR. That included years of 6.6 and 6.3 WAR in 1947 and 1948, which saw him only compile a W-L record of 29-29 over that time. It probably didn't help that he played for the hapless Philadelphia Phillies in those years.

Hoyt Wilhelm, successor to the mantel of the most significant full time knuckleballer on Leonard's retirement, said that he learned the pitch from photographs of Dutch. Thus, Leonard's legacy continued on for another 20 years after his retirement and on into Cooperstown.

What I am listening to: American Metalhead by Sebastian Bach