Wednesday, April 29, 2015

1977 Caruso PCL Hawaii Islanders Baseball #5, Luis Melendez (and more Dave Roberts)

For all the bicentennial bunting used on its 1976 cards (#5 Dave Roberts profile), Caruso returned to a more familiar black and white in 1977 for Hawaii's PCL set. These days, a good designer with a computer can match Topps stroke for stroke in visual presentation, but I suspect 1970s tech meant a real price difference for any kind of color, so most teams opted for bare-bones photos.

That font is interesting.

WhatTheFont identifies Aurora Bold Condensed as a close match, which looks like this.

Close, but no lei, as there's a lot more curve happening in Aurora. The card font might be completely custom work, but add a note if you can ID it for sure!

1977 "Topps Update," Luis Melendez

Luis Melendez and that excellent mustache were on the downslope of an MLB career; his 1977 big league service time was so slight that this custom version's the only card you'll find, courtesy the Padres page of blog 1977 Baseball Cards Update.

1977 "Topps Update," Dave Roberts

That blog's San Diego page also sports a 1977 version of my 1976 Hawaii Islanders #5 type card, none other than Dave Roberts. His feature page ("Mr. Roberts?") goes into some depth on his career path, which started high as 1972's #1 pick, continued well in 1973...followed by a long slide down from there.

One of that blog's readers noted Roberts made a rather sloppy play to end the 1981 Divisional Series as a Houston pinch-hitter. I've linked the game broadcast above and Roberts' at-bat starts at 1:58:10 and the broadcasters give a slo-mo breakdown a couple minutes later, in case you want to know why you should check for dropped third strikes.

Value: This #5 single currently lists high on eBay ($8 + shipping), but Caruso team sets sell for a more reasonable $15-25, with no stars in its checklist to chase. That says as much about the quality of San Diego's farm system as anything, unfortunately.

Fakes / reprints: Haven't seen any fake Caruso minor league cards in the marketplace.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

1976 Caruso Hawaii Islanders Baseball #5, Dave Roberts

I like it when cards get a little ostentatious, going the extra mile to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, as the saying goes. Let's say you can only print in one color on white. Any other year, you might seem cheap, but that's no problem in 1976! America!

The bicentennial was all over the place for 1976, hence the stars and stripes and bunting borders for Caruso's PCL team sets. Barack Obama would've been 15 and living in Honolulu at the time, so it's not beyond the pale to think president #44 saw this set for sale at an Islanders game himself.

The Islanders played AAA for San Diego, who drafted Dave Roberts first overall in 1972. While never a star, he played long enough to overlap careers with another Dave Roberts, hence my confusion as an 8 year-old when these came around.

1981 Topps #57, Dave Roberts

Being a kid in Seattle, this was "my" Dave Roberts. The "other" Dave played in Texas.

1981 Topps #431, Dave Roberts

Topps didn't stop there, because "other" Dave switched Texas addresses during the 1980-81 offseason.

1981 Topps Traded #824, Dave Roberts

No matter what decade you're in, that's a lot of Dave. (Gotta whole lotta Dave! Whole lotta Dave!)

UPDATE: Enjoy even more Dave Roberts in my 1977 Hawaii Islanders post. This time, there's video of Dave's only post-season appearance, as he pinch-hit with two outs in the ninth in the deciding game of the 1981 NL Division series.

Value: As of writing, this #5 lists for $8 on eBay, a little higher than I'm willing to go for minor league type cards. Teams from this era cost $15-25, since Caruso-made sets rarely include a major star.

Fakes / reprints: Haven't seen reprints in the marketplace, as Caruso's PCL sets are obscure and inexpensive enough to discourage the requisite investment of time.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

"I feel like pigs in a waller," a.k.a, Topps exhibit at the Louisville Slugger Factory!

Louisville's hosted baseball since before a bat rolled out of Bud Hillerich's woodshop and into Pete Browning's hands (1884, courtesy their history page), but the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum is my favorite icon in a town synonymous with the pastime. I make it to Louisville about once a year, and this time, I lucked into extra baseball, as a Topps-themed spread occupied the factory's free exhibit room.

Here's my @Number5TypeCard twitter rundown of exhibit highlights; click through for bigger photos. Note how the mega-Mantle sits alongside Star Wars, reflecting Topps' open mind toward selling what's popular throughout their history.

Topps legend Sy Berger's smiling mug appeared ten feet inside the door, placed above a table of card components as "Cookin' Up Cards In The Kitchen."

Mounted on the wall, here's my favorite piece in the exhibit: a custom Louisville Slugger bike with a card pinned in the spokes! Now you can move that 1986 Topps Sid Bream faster that Sid Bream ever could himself! (I kid Sid, but he really could've benefited in a sport with bikepaths instead of basepaths.)

I voted on a bevy of competitions between Topps subjects, spanning Superman to Major League's Jobu totem. Heck with you, Elvis, it's Beatles across the board for me.

A bunch of Hollywood ephemera on display came from a deep-pockets collector of both cards and props, who coordinated with Louisville Slugger to fill cases with Luke's lightsaber, Indy's whip, and...damn, that really is Indy's whip. A variety of Topps sports cards filled other cabinets, covering football, hockey, soccer, basketball, and more.

There's the real Jobu totem, which (heads up to Cleveland fans) sits in neighboring Kentucky for another month or two.

Several autographed bats by huge names sat on display in the factory store and looked, to this fan's opinion, quite vulnerable to theft. Maybe they have a bunch more in a back room? At the other end of affordable, the blacked but unfinished bats cost $20 each, thanks to errors prior to the finishing process.

This run-through doesn't even cover the factory tour itself, which guides you through the process from raw timber to a sweet range of pro finishes. Slugger's factory isn't just a thing to do in town, it's really a baseball Mecca not many steps behind Cooperstown. Pair it with a Louisville Bats AAA game and you've got the meat and potatoes of baseball, past and present.

(And Slugger wasn't the only baseball meal I enjoyed on this trip. Next post, I'll cover a Cuban exhibit just around the corner.)