Wednesday, June 30, 2010

1980 TCMA Richmond Braves Baseball #5, Fred Hatfield

After a while, TCMA's red borders and blocky team names all blend together. The company produced 52 different (!) team sets that year, so this blog will have a virtual deck of cards once they all get an entry.

Card front

As you might guess from the uniform, Richmond served as a AAA affiliate for Atlanta in 1980, which they did nonstop from 1966 to 2008. Prior to the 2009 season, they relocated to Gwinnett, Georgia, chasing a more lucrative stadium deal. Fortunately for local fans, the Giants filled this gap by moving one of their AA teams to Richmond. CATCH SQUIRREL FEVER!

Card back

Note that TCMA invites you to write for a free list of cards and "collect them all." Putting together 50+ sets would've been a huge task in 1980--and remains one today--unless you had enough money to buy them en masse from the maker. It's a good bet at least one oddball dealer owned all the sets at one point, but I wonder if a collector ever did?

Value: Coach Hatfield cost me $2 from Beckett Marketplace, about right for "common" minor league players.

Fakes / reprints: Haven't seen any TCMA minor league reprints in the market.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

1980 TCMA Toledo Mud Hens Baseball #5, Gary Serum

Baseball fans seem to really like the Mud Hens, and I bet it's not because their female mascot's named "Muddona." Perhaps longevity bred familiarity and affection, as the team name traces all the way back to 1896, when the American Coot, aka "mud hen," made its home in Ohio's ample marshland.

Given the uniform's strong American colors and "serif-T" hat, I expected Toledo to be a Texas affiliate, but they served the Twins in 1980. That relationship ended in 1986 and they've been a AAA team for Detroit ever since.

Card front

As a baseball-mad 7 year-old in 1979, I fell asleep with the Seattle team set clutched to my breast on more than one occasion and pored over every stat line as if gold nuggets would pop out of the newsprint. Just about every player who took a turn at bat or pounded a resin bag that year found a welcome chair in my baseball world.

I've got an unexpectedly strong memory for Mr. Serum, considering his brief 3 years in the majors. Gary pitched against the Mariners twice in 1979, both Minnesota defeats; a 10-2 loss on July 3rd likely imprinted his name in my cranium, considering how rarely Seattle scored into the double digits. (Credit the pitching logs for finding the exact date and score of that start.)

Card back

Serum spent most of 1978 in Minnesota's rotation, garnering 23 starts and 9 wins, but split 1979 between the Mud Hens and Twins. 1980 marked the beginning of his end, as Gary failed to make the major league roster and spent 3 more years in the minors before retiring at age 25.

Value: You can find TMCA minor league singles on eBay and Beckett Marketplace for a dollar or two.

Fakes / reprints: I've never seen a fake of a "common" minor leaguer and would be surprised if one turned up.

Monday, June 28, 2010

1980 TCMA Syracuse Chiefs Baseball #5, Pat Rockett

With that hair and mustache, I bet Pat listened to some Little Feat in his day. "GOT A ROCKET IN MY POCKET AND A ROLL IN MY WALK..." (video thus)

Card front

Pat Rockett hit a single MLB homer in 152 career games for Atlanta. That's one more than I ever hit, of course, but even an average blogger might've slugged better than the .155 (not batting, slugging!) he managed in 1978.

Card back

1980 marked Pat's final season in pro ball, when he logged 81 games for Toronto's AAA affiliate in Syracuse, NY. He set a career high in walks that year and broke .350 OPB for the first time. Unfortunately, with infielders Alfredo Griffin, Damaso Garcia, and Roy Howell playing every day for the Blue Jays, slim "breakthrough" odds might've pushed him to try another line of work.

Value: Non-star TCMA minor leaguers cost a few dollars at most and that's how much I paid for this one on Beckett Marketplace.

Fakes / reprints: Unless it's superstar like Cal Ripken or Albert Pujols, I doubt folks would try to reprint a modern minor league player.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

1980 TCMA Spokane Indians Baseball #5, Joe Coleman

Joe Coleman, Jr. covered a lot of geography in uniform. Just 18 years old at his (Washington) Senatorial debut, Joe eventually pitched for 7 teams, wore 13 uniform numbers, and totaled 145 career victories. No longer able to find big league work in 1980, he signed to pitch and coach with Seattle's AAA squad, the Spokane Indians.

Card front

After 3 seasons in Spokane, Joe switched to coaching pitchers full-time. He's currently with a Detroit affiliate, the Flying Tigers of Lakeland, Florida.

Card back

These stats munge Joe's 1979 somewhat. He started the year with San Francisco, making 5 brief relief appearances before they released him in late April. Pittsburgh signed him to a AAA contract in May, where he proved an effective middle reliever. A final September call-up netted 10 big-league games with the eventual World Champions and he picked up an airbrushed 1980 Topps card for the effort.

1980 Topps #542

Value: TCMA printed their minor league cards in larger numbers by 1980, so you can find them for a few dollars on eBay or Beckett Marketplace.

Fakes / reprints: I haven't seen any reprints in the market and doubt someone would take the trouble for anyone other than a superstar.

Friday, June 25, 2010

1977-78 Venezuelan League Baseball Stickers #5, Simon Barreto

On June 23, 2010, the New York Mets hosted (and beat) Detroit's "Tigres" on Venezuelan Heritage Night. Given our southern neighbor's longtime importance to the sport, how could this card not follow?

Simon Barreto played in the American minor leagues from 1971 to 1973, compiling 8 wins and 9 losses. Whether by choice or for lack of options, his career then moved south to baseball-friendly Venezuela. Unfortunately, foreign stats are hazy from that era, so I don't know how he did prior to this photo with the Tigres de Aragua. He looks brightly arrayed, if nothing else.

I normally don't show blank backs, but this one includes an album remnant. Its collector pasted Simon onto the page, but later thought better of it and pulled him away. This residue matches the card front, with both Tigres and their team logo.

This 402-sticker set features a great deal of local talent like Barreto, but also reprints portions of 1977 Topps itself. I'm sure player collectors gnash teeth at the inclusion of guys like Nolan Ryan and Reggie Jackson in its checklist, given their rarity and expense.

#158, Nolan Ryan

UPDATE: trading friend Rick shared these scans of a new-to-him album purchased with most of the set already mounted inside. Amazing pick up and the first intact album I've seen.

Nolan Ryan in position on his page of MLB stars

Value: "Common" players like Barreto cost $5 to $10 each, unless they miraculously escaped being taped into an album and remained in higher grade. MLB stars can cost hundreds, though so few are actually available that it's hard to set a consistent price.

Fakes / reprints: Haven't seen any definite fakes, but would be wary. It has thin paper and cheap printing, so would be easier to counterfeit than most Topps sets.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Poll: How long will you wait for an eBay transaction?

On May 3 (of 2010), I bought the wrong thing on eBay. It's a case of mistaken identity, where I watched two cards and ultimately bought one thinking I had the other. Thousands of transactions since 1996 and I can still push the wrong "Buy It Now" button!

The seller advertised a 7-day return window, so I confirmed his policy by email, repackaged the "wrong" card, and dropped it in the mailbox with money for return postage.

And waited.

On June 1, I emailed to confirm receipt of the exchanged card, since it'd been a couple of weeks. The seller said it arrived OK, but that he was out of country until mid-June. If needed, he could tell his office to send it ASAP.

"No problem," I said, "and no rush. Just send it once you're back." And waited.

Being June 24th, it's been 7 weeks since the original purchase for under $10, and I assume it'll take another reminder email (and waiting into July) at this point.

So today's poll question: What's your "longest" eBay transaction, at least for something that wrapped up successfully? Weeks? Months? A year?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

1922 Godfrey Phillips "Clan Tartans" Silks #5, Clan Fraser

In the early 20th century (we're talking 1910s and 1920s) tobacco companies printed some of their sets on swatches of silk. Thanks to Topps' enthusiasm for re-use of vintage card concepts, silk's finding fashion again, typically packaged in protective plastic.

These small scraps of material can last a very long time, even in the wild. Today's post features a non-sport silk from England, just one of many exotic issues tobacco-makers packaged with their products. This is the Fraser tartan, a plaid-patterned Scottish symbol of their clan.

Card front (blank back)

 Wikipedia covers the history of tartans in some detail. Prior to modern times, they represented regional areas in Scotland, somewhat distinct from European heraldry, which followed specific families and political groups. By the time this silk issue came out in 1922, clans had picked "official" designs, so this pattern's unique to Frasers.

Tobacco companies put lots of different designs on silk, not just flags. While I focus 99% on baseball, I like that this set uses cloth to represent cloth, so had to pick one up. Here's a similar set featuring cricket insignias from the same tobacco company, Godfrey Phillips.

1921 County Cricket Badges (also silk)

Value: British tobacco cards are plentifully available (via eBay or non-sports dealers) and I bought this for $1.

Fakes / reprints: This would be tough to fake, since you'd need blank silk.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

1980 Cincinnati Enquirer Baseball #5, Johnny Bench

Completing our recent "great backstops of the 70s" trend, here's Johnny...Bench.

Card front (and back, sort of)

The Cincinnati Enquirer, which now runs, printed these profiles of the Reds as newspaper clip-outs from March to May in 1980. Numbered by player uniform and relatively small in size, it looks like you folded along the dotted line to make a "card." 32 players in all, this set includes Big Red Machine stars like Bench, George Foster, Dave Concepcion, and Tom Seaver.

Card back

Even this small clip of newspaper references some important things.
  • Ken Griffey, Sr. appeared in the 1980 All-Star Game, homered off Tommy John, and was named MVP.
  • A short clip about Pete Rose mentions a potential player strike. Back in March 1980, Sports Illustrated talked about free agency and the growth of baseball's union, under the assumption a strike might stop the 1980 season before it started. (It actually took place mid-1981.)
  • From "for greener pastures" and "left-handed starting," I infer the Reds went shopping for a free-agent pitcher. Nothing in their 1980 transactions log looks like a match, unfortunately.

Speaking of their 1980 transactions, check out these 2 draft choices from that year.

Tartabull did well for several other teams and finding Eric Davis in the 8th round is not bad at all.

Value: This is a very scarce set, at least outside of Cincinnati. While Bench is listed at $9 in the SCD annual guide, actual selling prices are uncertain. I've only seen near-sets on eBay, so assume collectors tried to get the whole team.

Reprints / fakes: It'd be fairly easy to fake this, assuming you had blank newsprint, but demand is too low to make it worthwhile.

Monday, June 21, 2010

1963 Sugardale Meats Baseball #5, Jim Perry

Not long ago, this blog profiled the nearly identical 1962 Sugardale Meats #5 of Perry. Most of that set matches up identically with 1963, aside from minor text updates. In Jim's case, they added "His record during the 1962 season was 12-12," which obviously couldn't come until after the season wrapped up. (I still love its side-printed advice: "This card may be wiped with a damp sponge.")

Card front 

After two promising seasons at 23 and 24, Perry's performance sagged in 1961 and 1962. After 5 poor relief appearances in 1963, Cleveland swapped him to Minnesota for similarly shaky starter Jack Kralick.

Teams rarely make 1-for-1 position trades, but both pitchers benefited from a change of scenery. Kralick won 25 games for Cleveland over the next 2 years and made the 1964 All-Star team. Perry anchored Minnesota's rotation for 10 years and won the AL Cy Young in 1970.

Card back

Cleveland traded Perry to Minnesota in early May, so Sugardale withdrew him from the packaging process and released relatively few of them. They didn't replace Jim with anyone, so #5 became a scarce short-print.

Value: Only a couple of 1963 Sugardale #5s made it onto eBay over the past few years. Given their scarcity, I was happy to win this low-grade example for $60.

Fakes / reprints: This oversized card is nearly 3" x 5" and has a protective plastic coating, so would be tough to credibly reprint. While I haven't seen any in the market, it's possible someone would take advantage of its scarcity to make an attempt. If you're looking for a 1963 Sugardale type card, go with someone cheaper than Perry.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Type Site: BA Benny's Baseball Card Buffet

Prolific card blogger and avid Mets fan BA Benny recently ran a giveaway commemorating his 100th post. The (randomized) winner received a copy of Strat-O-Matic baseball, plus lots of favorite-team cards. Would you believe that lucky chap was me? Quite unexpected, but quite excellent!

Check out this batch of cards from my Seattle Mariners, both old school and new, going clockwise from upper left.

  1. Ryan Langerhans: Saw him play for the A's a few years ago at Fenway, 1 of exactly 2 games he spent in Oakland green-and-gold.
  2. Jack Wilson: Current shortstop and seems to be decent at it.
  3. Rey Quinones: Mid-80s part-timer at shortstop. Once unavailable to pinch-hit because he was playing Nintendo in the clubhouse.
  4. Mike Jackson: Great reliever who made two turns with the M's, 5 years total in his 17-year career.
  5. Franklin Gutierrez: Great defensive CF, fast on the bases, and sharp hitter. Can't complain.
  6. Dan Wilson: Came to Seattle with Lou Piniella and solidified the backstop position for years.
  7. Jason Vargas: Quietly pitching very well for a last-place team.
  8. Feliz Hernandez: Team ace, Cliff Lee or no Cliff Lee. (And it'll be "no Cliff Lee" pretty soon.)

Thanks for all the goods, Mr. Benny! Read all about his cards at BA Benny's Baseball Card Buffet.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

1974 Kellogg's Baseball #5, Carlton Fisk

17 years ago this week, Carlton Fisk broke the major league record for games caught at 2,226. In a curious move, the Chicago White Sox cut him just a few days later, stating they'd kept him on the roster only to let him set the mark. (Time does heal some wounds: Fisk's bronze likeness now stands inside their park.)

I like cards that catch players enjoying themselves. This one's a slightly odd kneeling-with-bat pose, but Fisk makes it look good. His power, game-calling, and reliability matched up well with a generation of great backstops that included postseason rivals Johnny Bench of the Reds and Thurman Munson of the Yankees.

Immensely popular in both Chicago and New England, New Hampshire named Fisk their all-time greatest athlete in 2004. (More info at his Wikipedia article.)

Value: Fisk is a Hall-of-Famer and fan favorite, but Kellogg's cards plummet in value once the surface starts cracking. (Check the lower-left corner, near his name banner.) Low-grade versions will cost $5 or less.

Fakes / reprints: The distinctive plastic and paper combo makes counterfeiting a Kellogg's pretty tough. I've never seen one in the market.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

1955 Topps Baseball Double Headers #5, Ted Kazanski

Today's distinctive 132-player set is actually a 66-card issue, all picturing a pair of baseballers on one piece of cardboard. Topps "reused" a portion of each picture by adding an off-center fold.

Card front (folded)

When "closed," you get a player like Gordon Jones on one side and stats on the other. It seems odd that the higher-numbered player gets the front, but let's face it, the whole set's a little unusual.

Card "back" (unfolded)

Compare Ted's "huge bonus" bio to his Mendoza line batting average. Three homers in 134 games doesn't make the Phillies president seem very prescient.

Open up the card to see another player, such as #5 Kazanski. (This pair of players shares just a single foot and red stirrup along the bottom, while others get a partial uniform swap.)

Card inside (unfolded)

Topps added some nice artistic detail to these cards, somewhat offsetting the lack of real photos. If you start to build the set, a really cool pattern emerges. Laid out side-to-side, the background pictures turn into panoramic stadiums!

Read my 1955 Red Man post for more on this art style, since it's almost certain that Topps issued the Doubleheaders set to compete with the chewing tobacco maker's own painted cards. (Indeed, 1955 proved Red Man's final year, which might mean their competition succeeded in driving Red Man out of the card business.)

Value: Judging from completed eBay auctions, "common" player combos cost about $10 and stars go for $20 and up. (As is often the case with eBay, many sellers set high Buy It Now prices, without any of those cards actually selling.)

Fakes / reprints: These cards would be easier to reprint than those with photos, but perhaps aren't well-known enough to make it worthwhile. (I've never seen fakes in the market.)

Friday, June 11, 2010

1976 SSPC World's Series 1887 #5, J.C. Rowe

Today's the first day of 2010's World Cup, a 32-country, month-long competition that whittles down to a single champion. It and the Olympics pretty much define high-profile international sports. Major league baseball's own "World Series" includes ever-growing numbers of foreign-born players, but comes from very different roots.

Born in a pre-immigration American era, baseball's championship took the name "World's Series" far before 1900. In this case, "world" refers specifically to the realm of baseball--it's not meant to be arrogant, as it might sound to modern ears. The earliest versions pitted winners from different geographic areas against each other. (In 1887, Detroit beat St. Louis 10 games to 5.)

Card front

"Oddball" card maker Sports Stars Publishing Company (SSPC) printed a bunch of sets in 1975 and 1976, including a 630-card attempt to circumvent Topps' exclusive hold on MLB players and teams. (More info thus.)

Much less controversial, this 18-card insert to SSPC's magazine reprints a distinctive (and expensive) 19th-century set made by Scrapps Tobacco, framed on a white background. Most good info on those rarities comes via auction houses. Here's one example (with scans) from Robert Edward Auctions (with whom I have no affiliation).

Card back

Card backs add a bio for each player and I like how the editor adopted some older phrasing for Mr. Rowe. (Being a lefty, I also hit "from the southerly side of the plate.")

Want to know more about 19th-century champions? See Wikipedia's article on baseball's World Series precursors.

Value: Oddballs from the 1970s rarely cost more than $5. I bought this on eBay for $3.

Fakes / reprints: Since it's already a reprint of the Scrapps die-cut set, I doubt anyone would take the trouble.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Type Site: Gint-A-Cuffs

Recent #5 site follower Beardy, of multiple card blog fame, is also a key part of this year's Gint-A-Cuffs card opening competition. I'm highlighting it now, since the sign-up ends on June 25, a scant two weeks from today.

So what is this thing called Gint-A-Cuffs? In one sentence, it's a way for 2010 Allen & Ginter collectors to see tons of cool cards, throw their favorite players into a scrum, and talk a little cardboard smack. Modern card folks should definitely check it out. Contest rules thus!

Lifetime O's fan Beardy is more than just a virtual bare-knuckle boxer. Here are more sites of interest!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

1978 Kellogg's Baseball #5, Al Cowens

Here's why you should read more, kids! Just this week, I learned much more about the multifaceted perfect storm that lead to Kellogg's long-running line of packaged cereal cards and today's bespectacled #5, Al Cowens.

  • Topps patented the concept of packaging cards with gum fairly early in their history, so competitors were forced to try things like candy and tiny cookies, which both stained the cards themselves (even worse than gum)
  • Players Association head Marvin Miller aggressively sought licensing deals soon after securing a new collective bargaining agreement with MLB in 1968; collectibles proved a new and rapidly growing income stream for both players and the union
  • Post Foods had already succeeded in the early 60s with cards printed on cereal and pudding boxes

Follow that progression and BAM! You end up with baseball players in boxes of 70s and 80s cereal. Kellogg's chose to wrap each card in a plastic sleeve within the Corn Flakes (or whatever) instead of printing them on the box. Unlike the 1960s Post sets, this meant young collectors couldn't see who they had until it was time to eat.

While I already knew something about the union's growth, my recent read of Dave Jamieson's new book Mint Condition filled in this story--and a great deal more--in satisfying detail. I highly recommend it as history of both card collecting and baseball in general.

Card front

Kellogg's leapt into baseball with XOGRAPH's 3D cards, a thick-stock design that survived food packaging better than normal cardboard. They created the distinctive illusion of depth by texturing its plastic surface and "blurring" the background, pretty much what you see here. Holding and tilting the card makes Al "move" a little side-to-side, like a poor man's hologram.

I really like how this card echos KC's powder-blue uniform on its outside edges. They also gave Al a huge autograph, relative to the usual "bottom third only."

Card back

Card blog Dinged Corners recently asked people to nominate the best glasses on a baseball card. While Al Cowens doesn't have the awesome shades of a Bob Watson, he's clearly a serious batsman with a job to do.

Value: "Common" Kellogg's cards cost a dollar or two, depending on condition. A friend sent Mr. Cowens--with obvious surface cracks--to me for free a few years ago.

Fakes / reprints: It'd be tough to fake a Kellogg's card and I haven't heard of any in the marketplace.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Type Site: Dodger Bobble

Recent #5 site follower Dodger Bobble runs an entertaining blog by the same name, serving up what the world needs more of: BOBBLEHEAD DODGERS!

That is a sweet, classy Hollywood picture of a man and his unstable cranium. And you know that no one knows unstable craniums like L.A.

While the site covers a variety of Dodger topics, actual bobbles get loving profiles like the photo-friendly May 18th Andre Ethier giveaway.

"Hey, I can see my town from here!"

Dodger Bobble has already pumped out more than 100 posts since March, kicking off when he received tickets (and L.A.'s bobblehead promo schedule) for their 2010 season. That's a serious accumulation of reading material.

See Dodger Bobble for more sweet Dodger coverage!

Monday, June 7, 2010

1971 O-Pee-Chee Baseball #5, Thurman Munson

Born on June 7, 1947, and Yankees team captain from 1976 until his accidental death in 1979, Thurman Munson.

Card front

While card photography slipped badly after baseball's expansion in 1969, this card is one of the decade's best. It's got a great action photo, the Topps All-Star Rookie trophy, and one of the 1970s top players. Like Munson, it's the complete package.

New York's fielded many fine catchers over the years, including Bill DickeyYogi Berra, and Elston Howard, but Thurman's the only one to take the captain's role. Munson rewarded this honor with an MVP season in 1976 and proved essential to their 3 straight World Series appearances.

Card back

Canadian card maker O-Pee-Chee (OPC) based this set on Topps' own release, but with a redesigned back that allowed for French text.

1960s OPC checklists typically stopped at two or three hundred cards, but 1971 matched Topps card-for-card at 752 total. Several of its players appear on updated teams, so I assume it came out after Topps started issuing cards in the US. (It also got some extra Expos, to better interest Canadian fans.) Rather than list the changes here, just check out Oh My O-Pee-Chee's 1971 blog posts!

Value: While notably rarer than Topps versions, 1971 OPCs haven't taken off in value. Low-grade Munsons cost $20-$40 in either set.

Fakes / reprints: 2010 Topps includes a reprint of the American Munson in its "Cards Your Mother Threw Out" subset. Not sure if anyone faked the real thing, but it's definitely possible. 1971 OPC came on cheaper, whiter stock than US cards, and use less gloss. Already plagued by chipping black borders, Canadian edges also fray more easily, making it tough to find high-grade examples.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Type Site: Nachos Grande

Recent #5 blog follower FanOfReds is also the man in charge of Nachos Grande, a card blog of his trades and opinions. Visitors should expect lots of scans, lots of trades, and a long legacy of posts covering every facet of baseball.

FanOfReds and I both lamented this week's news that Ken Griffey decided to hang up his spikes. As a Mariners fan since 1979, it's hard to accurately describe the tectonic shift Seattle experienced in 1995, transforming from a nation of skeptics into a baseball town via one playoff race. (No doubt any Reds fan can appreciate the Lou Piniella link between Cincy's "Nasty Boys" champs in 1990 and Seattle's own run.)

Griffey provided 1995's "swing point" with a game-winning homer on August 24th, beating John Wetteland and the Yankees. Improbably, it was his first career walk-off hit, let alone it proving a harbinging homer of things to come.

FanOfReds covers The Kid in detail, both as a player and baseball card icon. Find more below!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

1978 Boston Globe Red Sox of the 50s and 60s #5, Lou Berberet

There's not much known about these oddball cards, at least in major price guides. Daily newspaper The Boston Globe apparently printed them to honor past Red Sox, but probably also as a way to "convert" their 50s and 60s photo archives into a salable product.

Card front

This photo's a claustrophobic close-up of Lou Berberet, part-time catcher for several AL teams, including a 1958 half-season in Boston. Always good with the glove, his batting unfortunately dropped off a cliff after age 27, and Lou stayed near the Mendoza line for the remainder of his career.

Note how classic Bowman designs reappear on the front (1953 profile) and back (1955 profile), though with lower-quality execution and almost no embellishment. Various sources place the release year anywhere from 1978 to 1981 and mention "Series I" (50s) and "Series 2" (60s) designations. This could mean they started distribution at the earlier end and continued to print cards into the 80s.

Card back

The card back includes a trivia question that asks about Boston's last tie game. Though ties don't really happen anymore, baseball rules do allow for them in specific situations.
"In Major League Baseball, games end with tie scores only in rare cases when conditions make it impossible to continue play. A tie game does not count as an official game in the standings unless it is finished later or replayed; however, individual player statistics from tie games are counted...Previously, curfews and the absence of adequate lighting caused more ties and shortened games."
Boston's last tie came on June 8, 1961, during the second game of a doubleheader. The "nightcap" didn't start until 9:06pm, so stood well after the witching hour when Angels took a 4-3 lead in the 11th. Gary Geiger tripled home Chuck Schilling to make it 4-4 in the bottom half, but got caught in a rundown and the Sox failed to score. Being close to the AL curfew, umps called the game, resulting in a tie. (In 1961, the AL used a 1AM guideline and playing a 12th inning would've taken them well past it.)

Here's more, in case you didn't know about baseball curfews!
"Curfews were fairly common in the major leagues into the 1950's and 60's. The initial impetus was World War II, during which there were curfews to accommodate dim-outs (as in "dim" the lights) to save energy. Games all over the country had curfews putting a limit on how long a night game could last. By the 1970's night games could last as long as it took."

Value: I bought Lou off eBay for $3.50. Boston Globe cards don't show up very much, so it's hard to estimate their market value. (Most 1970s oddballs cost under $5.)

Fakes / reprints: Haven't seen enough of this set to know if any fakes exist, but there can't be much of a market for them.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

1952 Bowman Baseball #5, Orestes "Minnie" Minoso

This is one of my favorite #5s ever. Even as Topps broke out with its larger, "modern" 1952s, Bowman polished their mini-painting concept to a shining diamond of excellence.

Card front

I've got 5 reasons to love this vintage jewel, one for each of Minnie Minoso's proper names. (Saturnino Orestes Armas MiƱoso Arrieta.)
  1. The man himself excelled in every available league from the 40s to the 60s and added 1976 and 1980 appearances for the ChiSox. (He batted for the St. Paul Saints as recently as 2003, making him a 7-decade pro.)
  2. Its background includes screening and dimpled padding, an intriguing card rarity. (Original picture from Shibe Park in Philly, the home to Bowman Gum--thanks to White Sox Cards for research help.)
  3. Minoso finished in the top 5 MVP voting several times, including his 1951 rookie year. (He barely missed the ROY award that year, finishing 2 vote shares behind Gil McDougald despite measurably better performance.)
  4. This is the last 1950s set before the Topps-led shift to stat grids. (See 1953 Bowman #5 for more details.)
  5. He's from Havana! Cuban players started signing in the majors after Jackie Robinson's debut. Minoso started in 1949 and went on to star for 4 teams, primarily Chicago and Cleveland.

Card back

I kinda miss "text" card backs, but acknowledge the shift to baseball stats also encouraged young collectors to learn about numbers and math. Score one for education!

Value: Minoso still has plenty of fans, so definitely costs more than "common" money. Low-grade versions run $10 to $20.

Fakes / reprints: People have reprinted the entire 1952 set, so be aware of "too-white" stock or cards with too much gloss.