Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Billy's Billfold

A large stash of Billy Pierce items hit eBay a month or two ago. I bid on one lot containing over 100 paper pieces and got out-sniped. Probably for the best considering my current hobby-related storage/organizational issues. Based on the auction descriptions it seems that the Pierce family is thinning out Billy's collection of personal memorabilia.

Other auctions featured trinkets, small awards and things like that. A wallet and this billfold caught my eye. Bidding on the wallet surpassed what I was willing to pay so I went all in on this.

Not much else to say about it besides the fact that it's nice to own a personal piece from one of my favorite players. There is something embossed right below the signature panel on the front but I can't read it even with my jeweler's loupe.

BTW...the Algiers Hotel in Miami Beach is long gone. It was an oceanfront spot on Collins Avenue built in the early 1950s. Much swankier than the Holiday Inn I called home last time I was over that way.

I did end up with a few pieces that I suspect came from the breakup of that large lot of Pierce photos and ephemera. I'm waiting on some of them. That'll be another post.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Japanese Cards Pt 2 The Rectangles

I'm finally finding the time to post the followup to the first half of SumoMenkoMan's generous gift of a padded envelope stuffed with Japanese menko cards. This post shows off the rectangular cards. 

The first four all come from the JCM 2 (Blue Baseball Back) set of 1948.

I first thought the above card was Hall of Famer Tetsuharu Kawakami. A better guess is Takehiko Bessho. The cards come with different backs so identifying them is problematical.

I hope it's Bessho. Read this from Baseball Reference:
A star pitcher in high school, he had one of the most famous performances in the history of the spring Koshien in 1941 when he threw 14 innings despite his left arm being broken and in a sling. He lost the game 2-1 but won widespread recognition for his courage and guts. His catcher had to roll the ball back to him after each pitch and he fielded barehanded. His explanation was "I want to play as much baseball as I can before I die."
The scrambled reverses mean I'd be guessing on some of these. But these are among the most colorful and detailed cards I own. The second card IS Tetsuharu Kawakami.

This one of the pitcher in the striped uni is my favorite. I'm fairly certain that it's Juzo Sanada. I had a copy of this card previously but this one is focused properly.

The next card is likely one of the two generic players depicted in the small set. If not then it's Torao Ooka.

The backs reflect the set's name.

I can't find a match for this card in the guide. The colorized photo image suggests the 1950s but who knows? It's about the size of the Topps mini cards they put out now in Gypsy Queen, etc.

The back is interesting. I figured I'd spot the set with a parachute on the reverse pretty easily but I can't find it.

This die-cut was the example used in the guide making it a snap to ID. The player is Rentaro Imanishi and the card is from the 1949 Hoshi Gangu set JDM 21. After a solid rookie year in 1946 he won 73 games over four seasons. Then he seemed to flame out and never had more than two wins a year after that.

We jump to 1958 for this card from the Doyusha borderless set JCM 30a. The player is Katsuya Nomura who was active in the Japanese pro ranks as a player and manager from 1954 to 2009.

This is the first team card I've ever come across. The back is identical to the cards in the 1976 Viking set but Engel's guide doesn't mention any cards but those of players. And the ink color used on the back of the '76 set was black. Call this one a mystery.

We jump ahead to a more modern set, the JCM 55 1962 Doyusha Menko. This one is in rough shape but it's still pretty sweet. Shinichi Eto was a catcher/1B for the Dragons for 11 seasons and won a couple of batting titles. He played a total of 18 seasons.

This next one is one of two cards issued for Shigeo Nagashima in the 1959 Marusho Two Bat JCM 38b set. He played his entire 17-year career at 3rd base for the Yomiuri (Tokyo) Giants.

And finally, we have a card from an almost modern Japanese set, JCM 15b, the Kankan menko from around 1973. These are very thick, sturdy cards with nice photography. A similar set on thinner cardboard had been issued the previous year. This is Koji Yamamoto of the Hiroshima Carp. He had an 18-year career with them as an outfielder and later served as their manager for 10 seasons.

It's fairly common for the backs to be off-center even for cards which are centered on the front.

That wraps up the great envelope from Ryan. Posting it late doesn't reflect on how much I appreciated it. Thanks again, Ryan.

Monday, April 9, 2018

We Interrupt This Dusty Card Blog..... bring you a picture of modern cards!

Found myself in a San Antonio WalMart this weekend. Was buying a jacket (I need to check weather reports before traveling) and cleaning supplies (working on in-laws rental property). I figured a card purchase would be a nice break from the drudgery. This particular WalMart had a very small card section tucked in next to the cigarette case register. There weren't even the boxes of Yu-Gi-Oh stuff and weird brand 2016 football draft pick card packs I find at Houston big boxes.

They did have twenty-card hanging packs of Heritage so I made my first retail purchase of 2018 cards. This stuff is very old news to everyone so I will just post this pic of a few of the cards on the desk at the Hyatt.

As you can see it was a Manny Machado hot pack and I got another Oriole so it wasn't a wasted $5. And I got lots of guys with beards. I don't understand the connection between Lou Brock and the Miami guy but then again I haven't read the back. I'm guessing it has something to do with stolen bases.

I got one guy I needed for my fantasy baseball binder. All things considered, I got my money's worth. But have no fear..I'll soon be back to posting cards that smell like my grandmother's winter coat closet in Brooklyn.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Japanese Menko Cards Pt 1 The Circles

Hello again. I'm back after taking a mini break from the hobby.

I need to catch up and post about one of the best mailers I've ever received. It came from Ryan aka SumoMenkoMan who authors the very interesting blog of (nearly) the same name. The envelope was totally unexpected and quite welcome. As you'd expect it contained Japanese menko cards, lots of 'em. So many that I thought it best to make two posts about them.

In this post I'll showcase the round ones. Identifying baseball menko sets isn't hard if you have the right tools, Gary Engel's guide for example. Ryan himself has info on his blog mostly geared towards sumo rather than baseball menko. He's written a guide to those btw.

ID-ing players on these cards is more problematical, at least for me. But that hasn't stopped me from enjoying them. I'm posting these from smallest to largest grouped (I think) by set. Scanning limits your ability to show the precise sizes and tends to cut off the edges of these but no matter, I'll plow ahead.

Of course the first one I stick up here I can't identify as to the exact set. That figures. The various elements match several different cataloged sets but none precisely. But it looks to be from the late 40s. I'm sure Ryan or one of the other menko experts that frequent the blogs can set me straight.

Whiffed on this one as well. Can't find a set that has a design quite like that..and no set in the guides shows a card with a number with that many digits. I feel like his face is familiar but I'm drawing a blank. 


Finally, a couple that I can identify. These next two are from the 1949 ten card JRM2 Starburst set. This batter is Hiroshi Oshita. I like this one a lot. Great little details in the catcher and ump. Oshita is a Hall of Famer.

This next guy I also recognize. He is Henry "Bozo" Wakabayashi. He's a Japanese baseball Hall of Famer and has a compelling story.

here is a JRM 14 from 1950ish. I thought I had deciphered the Kanji as Matsumoto but that doesn't appear to be the case.

The next five as bigger (obviously) and are from sets in the circa 1948 JRM 1 family. There are differences in sizes and small details but they all have the same basic design. In some the team name is in parenthesis.

The next three are JRM 26 Pinwheel menko. First up, Masayasu Kaneda.

Michio Nishizawa turned pro at 15 and excelled as both a pitcher and as a first baseman/outfielder.

Finally here is Hideo Fujimoto. This is one of two cards I had in my collection albeit in slightly different sizes.

I had a version of this next card as well. This is a JRM 20 of Bozo Wakabayashi seen above in another card. He was a two time Japanese League MVP.

This final card in today's post was easy to identify as it is the same card Engel uses in his set description. It's a large size JRM 37 from 1958. The player on top is Michio Nishizawa but the others are listed as 'unknown' Chunichi Dragons.

That wraps up the circular versions of the menkos I received from Ryan. Wonderful, colorful cards aren't they? I love 'em.

Next time (when I return from a short trip to San Antonio, I'll post the rectangular ones. Those may be even sweeter.

どうもありがとうございます Ryan.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Often Imitated, Never Duplicated

The above is a page from my Billy Pierce binder. I'd say Topps has wrung every bit of juice out of the '52 Pierce. And as silly as it looks I am sure that there are some really iconic cards that Topps has recycled many many more times than this (I'm looking at you 1953 Mantle).

Truth be told there are really only seven Topps issues on that page. Upper left and middle left are two different '#d to 60' of the same signed 2011 Diamond Lineage something or other. I bought two of these because that section of my modern Pierce checklist is a hellish mess of reprints and such. I thought I had it all figured out but apparently not.

Top center and right are also the same card with one autographed by Billy TTM. But luckily for me I have decided (too late) that the only cards I really am concerned with Pierce originals and variations. And to that end I'm posting my 'real' 1952 Topps Billy Pierce.

Like so many cards in the '52 set it's a classicly wonderful card. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Chief Bender Sweet Caporal Pinback and S74 Silk

My Charles Bender collection grew by two non-cardboard pieces recently. I was able to pick up this Sweet Caporal pinback on eBay.  These were produced from 1910-1912 and there were 152 baseball subjects plus a bunch of variations for a total of 209 different pins. They are not in high demand so the prices on most common players are very reasonable. Old Cardboard has the scoop on these. 

The front of mine is in really good shape. The back isn't bad either. The paper insert is intact but off-center. I like these things so much I'm tempted to go after a few more.  

Below is the pic I took of the pin with a dime so you can see the relative size. 

Right after that arrived I won an auction for this S74 Silk from 1909-1910. There were two types of these made available in packages of tobacco. Type 1 is known as the 'white' silks and they came with a paper backing that advertised the brand of tobacco. The Type 2 Silks like mine are referred to as the colored silks and they had no paper backing. More about these beauties is available on the Old Cardboard site

There is no way I'm going to take the silk out of the holder so a bit of the contrast is lost in the scan.

Here is a closer look at the upper portion which displayed the A's classic elephant and the team name.

And here is the lower portion. 

There is a Bender in the Type 1 checklist and I'll track it down at some point. For now I'm happy to have this one.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Baseball’s Sad Lexicon

Baseball’s Sad Lexicon

These are the saddest of possible words: 
      “Tinker to Evers to Chance.” 
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds, 
      Tinker and Evers and Chance. 
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble, 
      Making a Giant hit into a double— 
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble: 
      “Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

OK, until this morning those were 'the saddest of all possible words.' But today I figured we were close enough to the season opener that I should check the Orioles' website for news of their 2018 publications. Every year for the past several they have started selling the O's yearbook, media guide and magazine right about Opening Day. Easy as pie..order, wait, enjoy. I have every Orioles' media guide except the very first one, from 1954. I have every yearbook (they skipped a few years here and there) and at least one scorecard from every Orioles season and postseason series since '54. 

Publications..from the Orioles, Baltimore Colts, New York Rangers and others... are my very favorite collectible. I'd give up every card I have before I'd sacrifice my pub collection. Which is why I was very disappointed when the Orioles publication page showed me this:

In case you can't read it the gist of it is no more media guides will be available to the fans in paper form. Oh sure, we can download a file version but that's not the same thing. I can't hold a file in my hand. I realize that everything in the media guide is available somewhere online but grabbing that big, fat usually orange book off the shelf to find Adam Jones's career homer totals against the Tigers was very satisfying. 

I also realize that last year's guide has everything I need except last year's numbers but that's not the point. My guides are lined up in two shelves of my hobby room. Not having a 2018 guide is going to annoy me. The fact that media guys get one makes it even worse. Guides will be out there and I want one dammit!

Joe Shlabotnik pointed out via Twitter the fact that there were years that the guide wasn't readily available and I was still able to land one. That's true but that doesn't mean the 2018s will show up on eBay anytime soon. I may have to wait years for some reporter's widow to sell off the guy's hoard. It's depressing.

For the record, I was given many of the guides from the Orioles' early years by my uncle who had connections to the team back then. In the late 70s/early 80s I would call or write the club's pr department and beg for one. One lady actually remembered me from year to year as 'that fan in Texas'. Some years they sold them along with the usual pennants and team postcards via mailorder. I've saved a bunch of the forms I got back from my calls and letters. The rest, mostly the expensive ones I was missing from the mid-50s, I bought on eBay.

Yes, I'm probably overreacting to all this but it sure feels like a big piece of my hobby enjoyment is over. Yup, my gonfalon bubble has been pricked. Oh well.

Since I hate publishing a post without some sort of memorabilia here are my T206s of the "Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds, Tinker and Evers and Chance".  

Sweet cards, yes?