Friday, July 21, 2023

1961 Fleer Autograph Project Part 38 70

It arrived and I am beyond excited.

Because I am a big jerk, I am going to put my white whale after a jump break. In the mean time, here is a picture of a white whale.

Let's run down the 1961 Fleer set a bit, if for no other reason than to prolong the reveal.  Though there is nothing stopping you from skipping ahead.  

The 1961 Fleer Baseball Greats set was actually issued in 1961 and 1962,  The first series, consisting of cards 1 through 88, was issued in 1961 and, to state the obvious, the second series of cards 89 through 154 in the latter year.  While cards 1 and 89 were checklists they did feature players on the front and I have seen autographed versions of each card, however I don't have either.  All of the subject players were retired, though Ted Williams had just retired at the end of the 1960 season.  Many of the players had died before the set was issued, but there were 99 players that were alive on January 1, 1961.  Three died during the year: Schoolboy Rowe on January 8, Dazzy Vance on February 16, and Ty Cobb on July 17. It is safe to say that it is improbable that there are signed versions of the first two and I consider it unlikely there is a Cobb. I've certainly never seen one. So, we're down to a total of 96 cards that could theoretically exist in signed form.  

In my previous post, I defined white whales as the cards that were of truly great players who died shortly after the set was issued.  I said there was four, but when I relook at it, there are only three:

Rogers Hornsby (d. 1963)
Paul Waner (d. 1965)
Jimmie Foxx (d.1967)

So, now you know the options.  Let's cut to the chase.

Monday, July 17, 2023

1961 Fleer Autograph Project - Part 37

I am really excited.  I just won an auction for what will be my 70th signed 1961 Fleer card.  And it is one of four cards that I would consider the white whales of the project: cards of all-time great players who lived only for a short time after the set was issued.  I will probably skip over Parts 38 through 69 and post that card next.  At the rate I am posting these, it would probably be 2030 before I got to #70 otherwise. Oh, I'll loop back and start again at 38. There are some good ones in there, but #70 just can't wait its turn.

Wait a minute, you might be thinking. Isn't this set called Baseball Greats?  Why do you only consider 4 cards to be white whales? I'm glad you asked. You see, much like the Greats of the Game sets that Fleer issued between 2001 and 2006, only some of the subject players were truly great.  All were notable, to be sure. But, notable is not the same as great.  Let me give you an example: Ray Mueller

Ray Mueller was a baseball lifer.  Starting in 1932 with the Harrisburg Senators of the New York -Penn League, it spanned over 40 years ending in 1973 as a scout for the Philadelphia Phillies. His career included turns as a minor league player-manager and major league coach and scout.  He was a teammate of Babe Ruth for the 1935 Boston Braves and coached Willie Mays with the 1956 NY Giants.  Notable, but his time in the majors was mainly as a backup catcher.  He only played more than 100 games in a major league season twice, as the starting backstop for the Cincinnati Redlegs.

Anyways, here are few interesting tidbits abour Mueller.

  1. In 1944 he was an All-Star and received two first-place votes for NL MVP. 
  2. On July 21, he hit a walk-off grand slam in the 11th inning of a 5-1 win over the Cardinals. On his trip around the diamond, he passed his cousin Don Gutteridge, who was manning third base for St. Louis.
  3. During Mueller’s time with Boston, he was friends with Donald Davidson, who stood just 4’0”. Mueller helped him become the team bat boy, which he parlayed into a role with the team’s publicity department. When the franchise moved to Milwaukee in 1953, Davidson became the public relations director. Davidson is credited with giving Henry Aaron the nickname “Hammerin’ Hank.”  Davidson was another baseball lifer, though never as a player.
That's all for now. Keep your eyes out for that next post.  I'm so stinking excited.

What I am listening to: Smooth Sailin' by Leon Bridges