Friday, July 31, 2015

The Commish Managed to Surprise

CommishBob - The Five Tool Collector - was kind enough to send along some 1960 Topps Managers.

 Bob also runs the fantastic 1960 Topps Blog Horizontal Heroes - The managers represent some of the few exceptions to the Horizontal cards from the set.
But the backs are still horizontal! Great artwork on these.

Just for good measure, Bob threw in this awesome insert from Stadium Club:

 Thanks very much Bob, these were great! 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

2015 Allen & Ginter - A Box and a Blaster

 HEY! Are you planning on attending the national? We should hang out, check out some cards, maybe make a trade or two in person? Send me an e-mail so I know which day(s) you'll be there!

Was this a poor return, do you think? No Autos, nothing serial numbered, and here are the "hits":
 Two Marlins and a former Marlin . . .
Here is the hit from the blaster.

The A&G back minis:
Black bordered:
Insert minis:
These are short print minis....

So... yeah. Nothing really jumped out at me from the box. The Box Topper is a Kershaw card, a bigger version of the base card, no relic or auto on it.

Not sure if I got skunked or if that is typical for an A&G box.... Everything shown is available for trade, if you're interested, let me know!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

If I had a blog then . . . Trip to Citi Field, 2014

 HEY! Are you planning on attending the national? We should hang out, check out some cards, maybe make a trade or two in person? Send me an e-mail so I know which day(s) you'll be there!

This post would have appeared in May of 2014, if I had a blog then . . .

My sister lives in Manhattan, so I usually go visit her once a year or so. She's not much of a baseball fan, so even though it was my 10th time in New York, I still had not attended a MLB game in NYC.

A buddy of mine who is a theater guy had never been to an MLB game despite living in New York for a decade, so I bought a couple tickets off stubhub and jumped on the train to Flushing.

Ah, the Big Apple. Someone smarter than me can tell me if the one outside is the original from Shea, or if the original is inside and this is a replica...

Our tickets were the cheapest I could find at the last minute, so our seats were pretty far away from the action. The bird's eye view was unique, I've never watched a game from this perspective before:

It was a great day for baseball!

Bronson Arroyo was on the Hill for the visiting Diamondbacks, and his funky high leg kick was on display in full force.

The Mets dropped a heartbreaker, falling 2-1. With Jenrry Meijia on the hill in the top of the ninth, an error by Daniel Murphy at second base allowed AJ Pollock to score the go ahead run. Addison Reed closed out the game in the bottom of the ninth for the D'Backs.
 After the game, we headed all the way down to Coney Island to meet up with another friend. We went to the Coney Island Freak Show! Sorry, no pictures of that...

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A 1964 Venezuelan Update: Most Recent Lot (Odds and Ends)

 HEY! Are you planning on attending the national? We should hang out, check out some cards, maybe make a trade or two in person? Send me an e-mail so I know which day(s) you'll be there!
 Since one of the last cards I need for the 1965 OPC Set is Drysdale - I made sure I found the Venezuelan version sooner! Down to just two more Topps All-Star Rookie cards to go, Pete Rose and Rusty Staub. The first leader card! These league leader cards are hard to find cheap, I'm taking a patient approach on them.
 My First Double!
This one is quite a bit cleaner, so I will keep this as the upgrade. If anyone wants to trade for the other one, let me know!

Heading to the National starting tomorrow; with any luck I will be coming back with several more of these Venezuelan Topps to add to my set!

Monday, July 27, 2015

My Twins FrankenSet - Page 4

 HEY! Are you planning on attending the national? We should hang out, check out some cards, maybe make a trade or two in person? Send me an e-mail so I know which day(s) you'll be there!

I've seen a few FrankenSets out there - John has a Braves set, Tom has a Cubs set, Nick has the Dime Box FrankenSet, Robert has a serial numbered card set. Jeff's got a White Sox FrankenSet. I'm sure there are many others. Tell me about yours in the comments!

I decided this would be a good way to at least start organizing my Twins cards.

My own "rules" for the set are pretty simple -
1. Each card should be a Twins player in a Twins uniform (and exclude multi-team cards)
2. If at all possible, each page should have 9 unique players and 9 unique sets
3. Have Fun (Mandatory)

Here's Page 4:
 and the backs:

28 - Frank Viola 1984 Topps (signed - Thanks again Tony!)
29 - Rod Carew 1968 Topps Game Insert
30 - Bob Allison 1969 Topps
31 - Doug Mientkiewicz 2002 Upper Deck Plus
32 - Justin Morneau 2009 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection (#114/599)
33 - Brad Radke 2002 Topps Gallery
34 - Bert Blyleven 2001 Upper Deck Decades
35 - Johan Santana 2007 Bowman Chrome
36 - Kennys Vargas 2015 Donruss

This page had a little bit of everything, but no Kirby Puckett! I tried to challenge myself to fill a page without him. The first appearance of Kennys Vargas! He's hanging out with Doug Mientkiewicz right now in AA Chattanooga.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Elmer Valo's Topps Run: 1951 - 1961

I've done it - I finished a complete run of Elmer Valo's Topps cards from his playing days - let's take a look:

 Topps Red Back # 28 - "hustling" is an adjective you'll see often in reference to Elmer, his 10 Homers in '51 were a career high..

Valo is tied with Joe DiMaggio for career on base percentage at .3983.

Elmer only appeared in 50 games in 1953, he struggled with injuries to his leg and probably lingering effects of concussion(s) (undiagnosed at the time) suffered in '52.

As the Athletics had a hard time drawing fans in Philadelphia, Valo had a hard time drawing time in the lineup. His injury plagued 1953 campaign had won him no favors from the manager, and he scuffled to the tune of a .214 batting average in a little over 100 games, mostly coming off the bench.

Valo had the best season of his career in 1955. He reached high water marks for batting average, on base percentage, and a gaudy 155 OPS+. Valo even received MVP votes, as the now Kansas City Athletics rose from the cellar to a respectable 6th place in the American League.

Valo was known as a fearless defender in the outfield, crashing into walls and robbing home runs. This also meant frequent injuries - Elmer robbed a Ted Williams home run in '46, crashing into the wall so violently that he had to be carried off the field. During the Athletics' improbable run in 1947, Valo took a hit away from Yogi Berra in the 8th inning of a close game, his third such catch of the contest. He did not hear the raucous crowd's reaction at first, his collision with the wall had knocked him temporarily unconscious.

no copy here - just enjoy the beautiful card...

Upon being traded to the Dodgers Philadelphia sportswriter Red Smith called Valo "The Most Sincere Fella" and "Whipping Boy-Elect." He said he hoped the fans would boo Duke Snider instead of Valo because Snider would "give it back to them, whereas Valo would agree with them." Elmer was in the lineup for the final game at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn for the Dodgers, and made the move to Los Angeles, playing part time in the outfield and pinch hitting.

Why no 1959 card? Valo had no offers from MLB clubs following his 1958 campaign, so he signed on to play and coach in the PCL with the Seattle Rainiers. He led the league in hitting, which earned himself a new gig in August of '59, playing for Cleveland. While getting on base at .424 clip, his efforts at the plate and in the field were not enough to earn Cleveland the AL pennant. He was able to latch on with the Yankees in the off-season, only appearing in 8 games (strictly as a pinch hitter) for the Bronx Bombers before moving on to the Washington Senators.


For the third time in his career, Valo was playing for a relocated franchise in 1961. The Senators moved to Minnesota to become the Twins and Valo split the final year of his playing career between the Twins and the Philadelphia Phillies, his second stint with that club.

Rumor has it that Elmer was actually a four-decade player, getting a single at bat from Connie Mack's Athletics in the 1939 season. The story goes that Valo was traveling with the team after his minor league season ended, and Mack asked him to get up from the bench and pinch hit, not realizing that Valo was not yet officially on the roster. This at-bat was later expunged from the official record at Mack's request; playing Valo without being on the roster would have resulted in a hefty fine for "The Tall Tactician."

Much of the information from this post comes from the great biography on Valo found online at the SABR bio project. Please click through to read the whole thing here. More Bios from the author Mel Marmer can be found HERE.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A 1964 Venezuelan Update: The Louisv- I mean Oakl- I mean Kansas City Athletics!

Charlie O. Finley's Athletics were on the move in 1964 - Anywhere but here! The A's, as Finley was asking them to be called, tried to move twice in the year, citing poor attendance in Kansas City. A trip to Louisville was cancelled (missing the opportunity to become the Louisville Sluggers, the Kentucky Colonels, or just the plain old Louisville A's) by the rest of the American League Owners.

The next attempt was to move the team to Oakland, also thwarted; this time by the good citizens of Kansas City. Asked by the local government to pitch in by forgiving the tax burden for the stadium, asking only a percentage of admission and concession sales in return, the fans were happy to have another MLB team in town. It would, of course, not be the last time Finley tried to move out West.

Rocky Colavito was one of the few bright spots for the cellar dwelling Athletics - smashing 34 homers and putting up (for the new-school readers out there) an OPS+ of 137 and finishing the season with a team leading 4.1 WAR. Home runs were, in fact, the Athletics' specialty at home in 1964. They hit 107 Homers in Kansas City's Municipal Stadium, then a team record. They also gave up 132 round-trippers at home - at the time a Major League Record.


Last Venezuelan Topps Post is coming up soon... just some odds and ends left to go.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Just One Pack of.... Basketball?!?! Topps Archives

Remember this box? No worries, I forgot about it too...

I purchased this box in Chattanooga during my road trip to save it for a rainy day.

 A box topper? Not quite, it's a standard card sized advertisement for buying Master Photos.
 Here's what the pack looks like.
 Each pack has one card from this insert of #1 Draft Picks - A pretty unobtrusive design.
 Base cards take the design from each player's rookie year. Kind of a reverse version of Stadium Club. The backs show a "current" photo of the player on his 1993 team.
Pretty good photography! This was my favorite basketball set as a kid, I probably would have loved Topps basketball in the late 80s / early 90s, the designs would probably have been a little different from the baseball versions, though. I'm going to see if I can build the set with this box, but I've already found lots of doubles. If you are interested in any cards from the set, let me know! We can probably trade.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sorting Out . . . The Arizona Diamonbacks

It's been awhile since I've done one of these, it's hard to find time to sort through an entire team's cards. The Arizona Diamondbacks are the third recent expansion team I've tackled in the sorting out series...

The Diamondbacks found early success, thanks in no small part to some excellent and timely pitching from Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling.

Luis Gonzalez, Mark Grace, and Matt Williams fueled the D-Backs offense in the early days.
 Some of my favorite cards featuring D-Backs are horizontal heroes.
Randy Johnson is not officially a player I collect, but I certainly don't turn that many away...

 The rest of this post is trade bait! If you see anything you like below, let me know!
 Didi Gregorius is the Gold Parallel version.
 Tiny Patrick Corbin is numbered 51/100
 Maybe you're a fan of Gonzo?
 Or Miguel Montero?
 Or Gracie?
Or Goldy?
I've updated my Zistle account with all of the Diamondbacks in my collection - if there are any that interest you, feel free to contact me via Zistle, or just send me an e-mail! The Will Ferrell card is available for trade as well..