Saturday, November 11, 2017

Hawkins RC from Jon of APSFYT.

The blogging community is just awesome, is it not?  But I didn't need to remind anyone this, did I? If you need any more evidence this post and a couple more in the next week or so will provide it. Jon, who authors the always entertaining A Penny Sleeve For Your Thoughts, read my post about the passing of Connie Hawkins and immediately reached out to see if I wanted his extra copy of Hawk's rookie card. I sprained my wrist diving for the keyboard to accept his offer. Here is Hawk and some friends Jon included to keep him company on the trip. BTW... Jon is running a contest on his blog. Go check it out and enter why don't you.

I love this Topps 69/70 hoops set. I'm not up on all the ins and outs of the licencing rights of that period but Topps obviously couldn't use team nicknames or logos on its products. Does that take away from the set of this card? Nope. It's a beaut. I love the little player drawings that surround the main photo and cartoons are always fun.

There are some players that are worth the price of the ticket no matter what team or sport. Hawk is one of them, James Hardin, Barry Sanders and Gale Sayers were others. I was lucky. Back when Hawkins was playing for Phoenix in the early 70s the Rockets were playing home games in Hofheinz Pavilion on the University of Houston campus. Students got in for a buck but as an employee working in the building I could just stroll down the ramp and watch games. I saw a lot of NBA action back then.

This card is a rookie card in the sense that Hawkins wasn't in the NBA previously and no mainstream sets were issued for the ABA. Hawk was the ABA's MVP in 1968 with the Pittsburgh Pipers and averaged 30 ppg for the largely forgotten Minnesota Pipers in 1968/69.

To keep the Hawk rookie from getting lonely Jon sent along some Orioles. Here are some of them.

 This Jim Palmer GQ is different from any of the (admittedly few) GQ cards I own. I've never seen the off white borders on these. Very nice addition to my JP PC.

This next one is a Ryan Minor mini card from 1999's Private Stock set. Again, I have never seen anything from this set. filled me in.

Below on the left is a 2005 Sammy Sosa Turkey Red with no name on the front. I'll let you provide your own punchline. He's paired with a Javy Lopez Donruss Portraits, also from 2005.

Upper Deck Ripken that didn't scan very well.

Buyback Joe Kerrigan from 1979. Does seem possible that he was a player nearly 40 years ago.

JJ Hardy won't be back with the Orioles next season. Here he is on a Power Players version of his Topps card from 2014. That Weaver Patch...RIP Earl.

Miggy! 2004 Fleer Ultra. This may or may not be a gold label thingy. Google calls it a Gold Medallion card so I'm going with that.

Thanks, Jon! Much appreciated addition to my Hawk, Palmer and a couple other PCs.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

1963 Post Cereal Koufax

One of my hobby quirks is that some cards are better if they are not perfect. Case in point...Post Cereal cards. Back in the day my friends and I ate a lot of Alpha Bits, Rice Krinkles and whatever it was that they called their version of Frosted Flakes (Frosted Post Toasties?).

There were families with six or so boys that lived at either end the street back then (heavily Catholic town) and we all collected and traded these. And we all did terrible jobs of cutting up the boxes. After I bought this Koufax recently the seller messaged me to say that he had failed to mention a crease that ran thru the card in his description. He offered to cancel the sale if I wanted to. Cancel it? Hell, no. Send that puppy my way!

The other thing I don't do is binder these or my Jello cards. I keep them in a stack in a shoe box on the top shelf of my hobby closet. (I'd prefer a cigar box but I haven't had one of those around is ages.) I love shuffling thru them when I'm feeling old and need a shot of nostalgia. Like this week when I got my official Medicare card in the mail from the SSA.

Speaking of Medicare... when they showed Sandy at the World Series recently my first thought was "He looks like he could still give 'em and inning or two...and he might have to". He also looks remarkably like my father. Even my wife mentioned it.

Anyway, here he is at the World Series. The best lefty I've ever seen.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Card Show Stuff

After a series of unavoidable events caused me to miss a few months I finally made a hotel card show in October. I'm not chasing any baseball sets and the one football set I'm building (1964 Philly Gum) wasn't in great supply among the dealers of vintage cards. I was able to add a couple of stars from that set.

So I made do with grabbing some cheap cards that just caught my eye. I'm not sure what attracts me to cards of coaches like this 1954 Topps Ray Blades. But I added it to my stack and I'm glad. Blades was a player I wasn't aware of but in the 1920s he carved out a nice career as an outfielder with the Cardinals. As the back of his card notes Blades hit .342 in 1925 during a string of .300+ seasons. You can check out his SABR bio here.

Blades was one of those baseball 'lifers' who played, coached, managed and scouted for numerous clubs thru several decades. He managed the '39 Cardinals to a second place finish in his first year at the helm but was fired early the next season after the team stumbled early.

When I see these cards of coaches I always wonder if Topps someone else in the checklist originally but had to remove them for some reason.

Here's my first Dom DiMaggio card, a decent 1953 Topps.

Not much to say other than I don't think I was aware of the fact that Dom was four inches shorter than his more famous brother.

I love this 1960 Topps of Ralph Felton. I didn't know him when he played but a quick search showed that he won a national title at Maryland and played 11 seasons of pro football with the Redskins and Bills. He was better known as 'Rass' Felton and opened a grocery after his playing days.

There is something about the 1960 Topps football set that just makes it appear to be a much older set. I can't really explain it but the set strikes me as something from the mid 50s.

George Webster was a terrific player in his day with the Oilers. He was an All American safety at Michigan state but the Oilers made him a linebacker. The story goes that as a rookie in a 1967 exhibition game against the Cowboys he caught Bob Hayes from behind. I was at that game at Rice Stadium but I have no recollection of that. I do remember Hayes made a long catch and run on what was a rainy night.

My scanner didn't do a very good job on this 1970 Kelloggs' 3-D Webster. It's a really neat set. Very underrated.

One of Webster's teammates at Michigan State was Gene Washington. His is a pretty remarkable story of growing up as an athlete in Texas. His home town had no high school that would allow blacks so he took a bus to Baytown, across under the Houston Ship Channel, to all black G. W. Carver High School. He played football and ran track and set records against other black high schools in the Prairie View Interscholastic League. 

He went on to become an All American for the Spartans and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. As for's still there in Baytown. It's no longer a 'stepchild' and no longer a high school. I've taught and coached there for nearly 29 years. Gene has visited a few times and is a gracious, soft-spoken gentleman. When I look up from my door at school every day I see a fantastic framed nearly life-sized photo of him in posed action for Michigan State. Next to that are framed banner listing the football, hoops and track state titles the Gene Washington and his schoolmates won while at Carver. 

This is a 1971 Topps Gene Washington game card. It's the spiritual brother of the 1968 Topps baseball game inserts. Pretty neat. I can't believe I never thought to pick it up for my GW collection before this. Washington played seven NFL seasons, all for the Vikings. There is a neat video on the Vikings site. It's part of a documentary done by Gene Washington's daughter chronicling his 'road' to Michigan State and the pros. It's well worth the 10 minutes. 

And finally a Cal Ripken medallion card from one of the Topps issues of 2017.  This was a freebie. One of the regular dealers at the show was ripping mini boxes (probably looking for Aaron Judge cards) and this was some sort of insert. I've bough enough stuff from him that he will sometimes toss Orioles things my way. 

And yes, the medallion appears to be crooked. That's not a scanning error. 

I'm actually closely reading the back for the first time and see that it came out of Update. Likely to be the only card out of that set I'll own. 

I was only mildly disappointed at the lack of vintage football at the show. There are plenty of dealers who carry football cards but they stock mostly new stuff. 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Baltimore Colts White Whale! (or at least the tail)

I've had this on my want list for quite a long time. It's a 1968 Topps Test Issue team card of the Baltimore Colts. They were never distributed nationally and are relatively scarce. With a crease and a stain dinging it's value I was able to grab this with a lowball offer on eBay.

The wonderful Fleer Sticker Project blog posted a lot of info on these in 2010 and you can see that here. In a nutshell these things came in a pack that featured a cloth patch. I dig the team card alot more than the patch but I was never asked to take the test so what do I know? The FSP post I linked has a shot of each of the available cards and stickers.

The back listed the players in the team pic. Topps issued one for 25 of the then 26 teams. The Cincinnati Bengals were a startup franchise and had no team pic to use.

I know that the scans run over the border of the box but using a smaller photo setting kind of makes the card look like a mini. The actual size is 2 1/2" x 4 11/16" which is about equal to a 'tall boy' card turned on it's side.

I'm still actively searching for the Colts patch. I'm optimistic because it seems like my luck in uncovering long sought items is improving. The same week I found this card I also discovered a guy selling another item I've had on my Colts list. That is arriving this week and will appear in another post.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Teeny Target Trip

So on the way home from my most recent card show visit (that's a different post) I stopped at a Target I usually never bother with. But I was in dire need of an iced coffee and that was the nearest Starbucks location.

Of course I hit the card aisle and ended up grabbing this box on a whim. I didn't quite know what they meant by the 4 packs/50 cards/bonus business but I soon found out. Here's what was inside:

The packs were pretty mundane. The two Draft Picks packs were a waste. Logo-less cards of guys I've never heard of. The cards suck. And there were only four to a pack...which made me think of the Woody Allen bit in Annie Hall where he retells the old joke about the food at a Catskills resort.

I already have the Babe Ruth set so that pack is dupes. The Heritage pack wasn't bad. I pulled a Manny Machado and a card I could use in my fantasy binder, Andrew Cashner.

The white box held the 50 cards. It was a John Smoltz hot box as I got three(!) cards of his and a load of other trade fodder. The Smoltz trio was interesting because I was listening to him educate Joe Buck on big league pitching as I was flipping thru the cards. Everything else was the same sort of thing that shows up in every Fairfield repack...junk wax era Donruss..2012 to 2015 Topps and a scattering of 1990s cards featuring lots of gold foil over fake granite borders...i.e. 1994 Pinnacle Select.

The 'bonus' was two packs of TeenyMates. I will admit that I've never seen these things before. Each pack contained two 'mates' representing MLB teams, a couple of puzzle pieces and a foldout which serves as ad piece, checklist and info sheet.

I was puzzled by them being all catchers but I went to the webpage and figured out that there are several series of these things and each series featured a position or baseball pose. They also listed some special 'TeenyMates' and gave the a category of  'common', 'rare', and 'ultra rare'. The rare ones are 'gold', glow-in-the-dark or uniform variations. They have them for all the major sports. Who knew?

From the front I had a hard time seeing which teams were represented among my four new little friends. My crappy phone pics don't help here so I'll tell you that I got a Padre, Pirate, Cub and Brewer.

Here are the two sides of the enclosed flyer. I gotta say that I liked these more than a soon-to-be 65 year old probably should. I'll end up giving these to my wife to use as rewards for the kids she tests but first I'll let them sit on my desktop and watch a bit of postseason ball with me.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Ben Hawkins 1944-2017

Another of my old school favorites passed away recently. Ben Hawkins was a few years ahead of me at Nutley High. I recall sneaking under the fence at the Park Oval to watch him terrorize Montclair and Clifton on Saturday afternoons. 

He went on to a great career at Arizona State and played for the Eagles and Browns  in the NFL and with Philly in the WFL. He led the NFL in receiving yards in 1967.

He was known for having that loose chinstrap flapping around when he played. In the video at the bottom he explains how that habit came to be and shows a few clips of him having his helmet knocked off.

Nice little video. Love hearing that north Jersey accent he never really lost.

RIP, Hawk

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Billy Pierce Collection additions

Back in December of 2014 I was able to find an affordable Swifts Meats Billy Pierce. It took me by surprise to nab one in nice shape that I could afford. These are neat and unusual collectibles. When I posted that first one I did some research into how they were distributed when they were issued in 1957. 

It turned out that they came with packs of hot dogs AND via a mail-in order form. That post has much more detail and some links to info/checklists. Click here to go back to it

About a month or so I came across another listing for one of these in my general Billy Pierce search on eBay. The seller described it as a 'Type card', i.e. 'a piece of junk you can own just to say you have one'. But in the pictures it looked just fine, very collectible.  And he wanted $31 for it. I don't recall what I paid for my first one (it was 'graded' by some fly-by-night company) but it was over $100, maybe closer to $125. I mean these babies are pretty hard to find. And a quick search on eBay shows how much the going rate normally is.

So for $31 I had to take a closer look. It's got a stain and one of the punch-out body pieces is halfway 'punched out' but it's not that much worse than my slabbed one. I kept looking for the catch but I never found one so I grabbed it.

I would normally never buy a second copy of something of this ilk but at that price I simply had to pull the trigger. Heck, I'd buy one of these of a random player at that price. 

So anyway, I now have two of these. And at one point I never thought I'd even have one. 

I'm not sure which side of these is considered the 'front' so here are both sides. Click the link above for a look at what they are like when assembled and to see the game board they were supposed to used on.

This next item is much less significant in terms of hobby relevance but it was a more exciting pick-up for me. This is a J.D. McCarthy postcard of Billy Pierce that I never had seen before. I've refined my BP search on eBay to where I have eliminated the Topps cards and all the other common items that were showing up again and again.

One night this thing hit my screen and I didn't hesitate to nab it. McCarthy postcards are a great addition to player collections. I figured that a Pierce or two had been produced but there is no checklist available so I had no way to know for sure.

I'm a post card fanatic. Every season from about 1968 or so I would write to the Orioles requesting a price for their team issued postcard set. After a few years they began sending a souvenir list without my even writing. Once or twice someone in their PR office sent me the late season additions to the year's postcards unsolicited. I spent a decade or so putting together a listing of Orioles team issued postcards only to find out that it had already been done. At some point in the mid 1980s the Orioles got away from producing the sets, or at least including them on their price lists. I remember once calling their offices to inquire about them and getting no real answer. My collection really got moved to the back burner when that happened. (They have since resumed producing that cards but when they did so I have no idea.)

But meanwhile I had come across McCarthy's cards and I've amassed quite a few Orioles examples. The late Bob Lemke came into possession of McCarthy's files and you can read his post concerning that right here.

Well, I've made a short story long but the bottom line is that I've found a BP McCarthy and am glad to have done so. And to make it just a bit better the card was mailed between two of my favorite places, Chicago and North Jersey!

This last piece is another dupe that I added because it was cheap and available. It's a picture pack photo which was done by Jay Publishing as team sets in the early 60s. They were sold at stadiums, by mail order and at places like Manny's Baseballand across Jerome Avenue from the ballpark in the Bronx. I've posted this one and some other Pierce variations before. For a couple of bucks adding a signed copy didn't require much thought.