Friday, July 29, 2011

1980 TCMA Waterbury Reds Baseball #5, Paul Herring

Yesterday's 1980 Peninsula Pilots placed in the MiLB Top 100 All-Time teams, thanks to their 100-40 record and runaway Carolina League title (set profile). While comparatively less successful on the field, these 1980 Waterbury Reds sit atop my list of all-time player names. Here are my faves from their TCMA checklist.
  • Tom Lawless
  • Randy Town
  • Steve Christmas
  • Skeeter Barnes
  • Doug Neuenschwander
  • Paul Herring
Paul Herring. On the Reds. Yup!

Not only is it hilarious that Paul's a "Reds Herring," but if you count the border, he's a red Herring TWICE. So funny, yes? (I'll just be over here, snickering to myself.)

Paul hit decently in 7 minor league seasons (career stats), but didn't peak high enough to reach the bigs. After a slow start for Waterbury in 1982, he signed with Tabasco of the Mexican League and finished his pro career with another five years south of the border.

("Red Herring." Hee hee hee!)

Value: 1980 TCMA singles cost a dollar or two and none of the Waterbury players became famous enough to reach star value.

Fakes / reprints: Thanks to Ryan at Cardboard Zoo, we know some black-backed (instead of the pictured blue back) TCMA cards went into post-1980 collectors sets. Find out more at his own 1980 Waterbury Reds post.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

1980 TCMA Peninsula Pilots Baseball #5, Fred Warner

I wrote about another "Pilots" team just two days ago, the single-A Tigers affiliate from Clinton, Iowa. You can guess by the stylized "P" that today's Pilots served in the Phillies farm system, following a long line of local teams that played for the Dodgers, Expos, Senators, A's, Astros, or independently from 1900-1970.

Unlike the short-lived flame-outs of earlier teams, these Peninsula Pilots found a long string of success in the 1980s, finishing with the  Carolina League's best record 4 times in 7 years. 1980 saw them go an amazing 100-40, a feat that earned them #74 in MiLB's top 100 seasons.

The ageless Julio Franco and former #5 type card Don Carman played with Fred Warner on that 1980 team and moved quickly to the big league level after dominating in the minors. Franco's especially amazing, lasting until age 48 (!) in the majors and playing a final season in Mexico before retiring in 2008. (Read "Being Julio Franco" by Jeff Passan for a day in his life.)

Note that Warner and Carman's cards share the same red-bordered design, since the Pilots issued two sets that year, one in color and another in black-and-white.

1980 TCMA Peninsula Pilots (color) #5

My hunch is that the team's amazing first half (51-19) excited fans so much that they sold out of the black-and-white sets and team marketers decided to splurge on color for the rest of the season. That's one more #5 for me!

Value: Singles from this set cost a dollar or two. The black-and-white set's currently on eBay for ~$1 per card.

Fakes / reprints: Haven't seen any in the marketplace.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Congrats to Damon Rutherford (a.k.a., Ervin Santana)!

On July 27, 2011, Anaheim's Ervin Santana struck out 10 Indians in a 3-1, no-hit win over Cleveland. He allowed a single run in the first on a wild pitch, but bupkus afterwards. Amazing work!

Ervin's name stands out to me because he played the role of "Damon Rutherford" on a custom card contest early last year, matched Satchel Paige for this 1976-style father-son card.

I like how this card turned out, both for its double vintage look (1953, 1976) and unusual colors (Paige's brown cap, Santana's orange glove).

1976 father-son card backs included a vignette; most passed along important advice or described a pivotal moment in their careers when dad "came through." Find the original #66 (Gus and Buddy Bell) at Project Baseball 1976.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

1975 TCMA Clinton Pilots Baseball #5, Greg Kline

Baseball's not a kind game to most players. Even with pro teams dotting all of North America, the opportunity for success falls between slim and none. Greg Kline's own minor league stats show how most pros experience America's pastime: a brief year or two of scorching summer practices wedged between high school and their "adult career." Being born and raised in Pennsylvania, Greg's first month in Bristol, Virginia probably felt fun and close to home. By the start of that second season on Iowa's river banks, though, I bet he was looking at other options.

I can barely pick out details from that patch on Greg's hat, so it's handy that TCMA also printed Clinton's tiger-on-a-boat team logo on card backs. (The town sits just west of the Mississippi's River and shipping's been an economic and cultural essential since the heyday of 19th century Midwestern lumber mills; the tiger denotes their Detroit affiliation.)

Like last week's Wausau Timbers, the Pilots spent some time as a co-op affiliate of multiple teams, fielding players from five MLB franchises in 1976. Jim Leyland managed for three years in Clinton and 11 total in the Tigers minor league system, making his current stint with Detroit a homecoming of sorts.

Value: Find most 1975 TCMA Clinton Pilots singles at CheckOutMyCards for $2.50 each.

Fakes / reprints: Haven't seen any in the marketplace, though it'd be easy to fake with modern equipment.

Monday, July 25, 2011

1980 TCMA Orlando Twins Baseball #5, Eddie Hodge

Black-and-white photography is often all about contrast and light balance. One well-framed cloud over a canyon, for example, makes for thought-provoking art.

Eddie Hodge, on the other hand, shows the dark side of black-and-white, as the Orlando Twins home uniform makes him look sickly tanned, almost to a George Hamilton level. (Readers under 30: search for a picture of George Hamilton. He is SO ORANGE.)

Did you know: Hodge is one of just five guys to pitch exactly 100.0 career innings in the majors, going 4-3 for Minnesota in 1984. Only he and Jack Bracken (Cleveland Blues, 1901) hit the century mark during a single season.

After some tweaking, I found a new take on Eddie's high-contrast original, with apologies to Shepard Fairey.

Value: 1980 TCMA non-star singles should cost a dollar or two. (HODGE posters only $20! :-)

Fakes / reprints: Haven't seen any in the marketplace.

Friday, July 22, 2011

1980 TCMA Salt Lake City Gulls Baseball #5, Mark Nocciolo

Fresh-faced and slightly befuddled, Mike Nocciolo's showing off a lot of stripes on his Gulls uniform. Jersey stripes, pant stripes, shoe stripes, and even sock stripes. (The only thing without stripes, the Cardinals look-a-like cap, is sleight-of-hand rather than true St. Louis gear, as Salt Lake City dropped the inset "T" from their stylized SL logo.)

For those who don't like stripes: huge catcher's mitt! They make any uniform awesome.

This dense card text calls back to a previous profile, 1975 TCMA #5 Stan Cliburn, who made space for Nocciolo by jumping from Salt Lake City to California. (Mike's own leap from single-A to AAA marked his top level in pro ball.)

Minor league rosters being fluid like they are, Cliburn moved from the Angels to the Pirates organization later that year and both men spent 1981 as opponents in the AA Eastern League, Mike catching for Holyoke and Stan for Buffalo. Though Nocciolo hung up his gear after 1981, Cliburn went on to play for nearly two decades and continues to manage at the minor league level. As of 2011, he helms the American Association's Sioux City Explorers.

Value: This #5 cost $2 at, about right for singles from that era.

Fakes / reprints: Haven't seen any in the marketplace.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chicago Bandits Nine customs at White Sox Cards

Props to White Sox Cards for its current run of Virginia Brights custom cards, celebrating all nine fielders on the Chicago Bandits. Here's scorecard position #5, third base.

Some old school sets (we're talking 19th century) featured ladies dressed for baseball, though with studio models instead of real players. That's the story with this 1886 Sub Rosa Cigarettes #5, which remains my type collection's oldest card.

Allen and Ginter cigarettes marketed their Virginia Brights and Sub Rosa brands to ladies, which may or may not explain using female models. (Of course, those Chicago Bandits cards are for fans everywhere.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

1980 TCMA Wausau Timbers Baseball #5, Martin Little

Today features our second player from the Wausau Timbers, a Wisconsin-based single-A club. The Timbers played in the Midwest League for a dozen years from 1978-1990, winning a single title in 1981 under Bill Plummer, former big-league catcher and future single-year Seattle manager. (Mariner fans know 1992 as Bill's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Season.)

We're used to thinking of minor-league clubs as being either affiliates, which field players signed by a parent MLB franchise, or independent, where the team itself scouts and signs players. Wausau debuted as a Mets affiliate in 1978, but cut ties after one year and became a third kind of club, a co-op team that fielded players from multiple parent clubs. 1980 lineups came mostly from Seattle, with fill-ins from a handful of others. (I don't know of any 21st century co-op teams; if you do, please add them in the comments!)

Due to the challenge in compiling stats for leagues with ever-changing rosters, TCMA went sans stats on many cards, though they at least note Martin played in the St. Louis system. He spent 1979 on the field in Gastonia, NC, a town that once featured the frightful Gastonia Rippers. Add that menacing name to a roster with the likes of Billy Queen, Jake Early, and Calvin Clinkscales for an instant summertime potboiler! Can "Big Jake" figure out who stole the team's jerseys before their late-season showdown with Statesville? And what does Calvin really keep in that private footlocker? Look for my serialized version in 2012 packs of Allen and Ginter...

Value: Martin Little cost $2 at (Sellers on both Beckett Marketplace and eBay stock many of the 1980 TCMA team sets, if you're looking for the whole thing.)

Fakes / reprints: Haven't seen any in the marketplace.

Monday, July 18, 2011

1979 TCMA Wausau Timbers Baseball #5, Dave Stockstill

A sporting guy named Stockstill, huh? Do you think he ran extra wind sprints to shed that "slow guy" image? (Just kidding Dave, don't thump me.)

Dave Stockstill's pro career started fast, thanks to good power with the bat and a strong outfield arm. This half-blank card back should reflect time with two Cubs rookie league teams in his first season (1978), which preceded an impressive .933 OPS and league MVP award playing for Wausau in 1979.

Though he jumped up the minors quickly to AAA, Dave plateaued there, first for Chicago and later in Texas, stuck behind a veteran Rangers outfield of guys like Billy Sample, Gary Ward, and Larry Parrish. (Given Sample's middling stats at the plate, I'm surprised Stockstill didn't get a 1984 call-up.)

TCMA offered two designs for their minor league team sets, full-color or black-and-white, no doubt charging less for the latter and its cheaper card stock. No one from Wausau's 1979 team set the sport on fire, though Harmon Killebrew's son Cam played one of his pro seasons in their outfield alongside Stockstill.

Value: Dave cost $2 at, typical of non-star minor league cards from that era.

Fakes / reprints: Haven't seen any in the marketplace.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Going to the 2011 National

Starting to see this year's National pop up in more and more card blogs, so people must be getting excited.


I'll be at the show in Chicago, too, searching for cards and talking to other fans. Want to say hi? Post a comment below or send an email and we'll figure out a place to meet.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo #5, "Scottie" Ferguson

Jimmy Stewart, #5 cards, and Hitchcock all at once? I'm transported!

Check out the original (and more great custom cards) at PunkRockPaint's My Favorite Movies (All-Star Edition).

Type Site: Eutaw Street Cardboard

Quick shout-out to #5 site follower Kirk, a man dedicated to collecting at least one autographed card of every player to don the Baltimore uniform. He's written regularly about this search since 2009 at Eutaw Street Cardboard and recently crested 75% of known Orioles, an amazing 672 different guys.

My own player collection includes former Oriole and great glove man David Segui, so you know that this March 2010 post with five (!) signed cards caught my eye. Segui's apparently a good signer and Kirk added a note about his in-person courtesy.

Segui is a great signer. I went 5 for 5 this time with the Crown card in the mix. In my requests I stress the importance of the Crown card to my collection and ask for it to be signed above all else. Segui actually read my letter before signing and the Crown card is without his usual inscription MATT 16:26. After all of my bitching last week it seems there are players out there that do take the time. My faith has been restored.

Visit Eutaw Street Cardboard to see (plenty) more autographs and Baltimore Orioles cards or check his "Vault" section to spin a trade.

Monday, July 11, 2011

1980 TCMA Waterloo Indians Baseball #5, Tim Glass

Today's card shows the face of high expectations, a young player brimming with promise. Would he become a face of success? A team fixture for years to come? An answer to the trivia question, "who was the highest catcher chosen in 1976's amateur draft?" To at least one of those, the answer is yes.

Cleveland picked high school star Tim Glass with 1976's 14th selection, making him the first of two catchers chosen in that year's first round; LA picked up Mike Scioscia five spots later. Both spent upwards of a decade with their franchises, but Mike found big-league success as everyday backstop for two World Champion Dodger teams (1981, 1988) and manager of Anaheim's only title-winner (2002).

It's been 35 years since 1976, but history has a way of repeating itself. Would you believe the 2011 MLB draft class includes both Brennen Glass and Matt Scioscia, respective sons of Tim and Mike? To quote Yogi, "it's deja vu all over again."

Value: Tim cost $2 on Beckett Marketplace, about the same as other 1980 TCMA singles. Some team sets use black-and-white photos, while others went with color, depending on how much the franchise wanted to spend on their cards.

Fakes / reprints: Haven't seen any in the marketplace.

Friday, July 8, 2011

1975 TCMA Dubuque Packers Baseball #5, Arnaldo Alvarado

Most of TCMA's early (pre-1978) minor league sets profiled Iowa-based single-A and AA teams, squads full of recent draftees, college grads, and international players seeking American pro success. Today's guest, Venezuelan native Arnaldo Alvarado, played in both Cedar Rapids (1974) and Dubuque (1975) as an aspiring MLB infielder. Unfortunately for Arnaldo, he didn't slug well enough to balance a .200 average, so lasted just two seasons among the tall corn before returning to the Caribbean's winter leagues, where he found more success and played into the 1980s.

What comes to mind when you hear Dubuque? Is it "Talkin' Baseball?"
We're talkin' baseball!
Kluszewski, Campanella.
Talkin' baseball!
The Man and Bobby Feller.
The Scooter, the Barber, and the Newc,
They knew 'em all from Boston to Dubuque.
Especially Willie, Mickey, and the Duke.
For "fans of a certain age," this song (and its many variations) entered your brain and stayed there forever. It's like sweet, nostalgic baseball candy. Big congratulations to composer Terry Cashman, who'll be honored at the 2011 Hall of Fame weekend and perform his seminal tune in Cooperstown on July 23.

As with football's Green Bay Packers, Dubuque's team name references the local meat-packing industry, so made their logo a bat-swinging hog. Not sure if they wore those striped pants, but it would've been short-lived; an affiliation change to Houston's Astros in 1975 included a new rainbow jersey to mimic the parent club. See the Sports Design Blog's team profile for details, as well as scans from TCMA's 1976 team set.

Value: Arnaldo cost $2.50 from

Fakes / reprints: Several players from this team reached the majors, including regulars Terry Puhl and Luis Pujols, but doubt anyone reprinted the set itself.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

1952 Num Num Baseball #5, Bob Feller

It's been three days since July 4th here in the U.S., just long enough to come down from all those patriotic burgers, bratwursts, and BBQ ribs. Stomachs don't feel so crazy anymore, eyes don't bulge at the sight of mayonnaise, and belts fit a little better. Does that make it safe to talk about food cards? Potato chip food cards? Let's hope so.

Num Num Foods, makers of pretzels, chips, and other snacks, published a pair of vintage photo sets profiling the Cleveland Indians. They started with an unnumbered 36-count version sold as a "photo pack" to stadium visitors in 1949 (and by mail in 1950), which included facsimile autographs on the front and promotional hand stamps on the back. They followed it in 1952 with two permutations of a numbered 20-card set, one (like Bob Feller) with a cut-away tab below its picture and another without, the latter published by the team itself.

Today's card got an awkward trim because Num Num buyers could trade a complete set of 20 card tabs for an autographed baseball. Someone snipped the redemption tab away but wanted to save "#5--Bob Feller" on its front. Hope they still got their ball!

Like other card makers before them, Num Num severely short-printed one player from this set (#16 Bob Kennedy), encouraging kids and parents to keep buying snacks in the hope of finding that elusive last card. Capitalism! America! *BURP*

Hat tip to blogger ALL TRIBE BASEBALL for pictures of the Bob Feller tribute (and post-game fireworks) at Cleveland's 4th of July, 2011 game against the Yankees. There's a great statue of Bob and his sweeping leg kick delivery outside the stadium, always worth a visit if you're in the area.

Value: This Feller cost me $45 on eBay a few years ago. Trimming the tab knocks a card's value down at least by half, in addition to any other damage or staining.

Fakes / reprints: Haven't seen any personally, but assume there have been modern reprints, given the ease of doing so with current technology.

Friday, July 1, 2011

1979 TCMA Wisconsin Rapids Twins Baseball #5, Bob Blake

I'm off to Wisconsin in a few days, so let's kick off the 4th of July weekend by checking out a team from the Great Lakes region.

Today's guest, Bob Blake, turned his 11-game 1978 single-A debut season into a nice start for 1979, picking up 7 wins early and earning a midyear promotion to Minnesota's AA affiliate in Orlando. It's hard to imagine culture shock like switching from dairy farms to Disneyland, but I know what I'd miss: pasties.

This erstwhile Twins affiliate franchise played 21 seasons in Wisconsin Rapids, at what looks like the state's geographic center. (It's eerily centered, almost a target dot.) Even though they folded back in 1983, a connection lingers to current-day ball through Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, who served his very first year during the squad's very last season, going 71-67.

After parent club Minnesota bumped Blake from single-A Wisconsin Rapids to AA Orlando, he pitched about the same number of innings, but gave up a bunch more homers and runs. As a St. Paul resident, I suspect Bob preferred the northern climes to a possibility of toiling for years in the Florida sun, so hung up his cleats after 1979.

You could fit stats for his two pro seasons on this black back, so I did so, thanks to his Baseball-Reference entry.

Value: This #5 cost $2 at, about right for non-star minor league cards.

Fakes / reprints: Haven't seen any in the marketplace, but you could fake the look pretty easily with modern equipment.