Friday, April 29, 2011

Thanks for a six-pack of 1962 Post Canadians

Fellow collector (and member of OBC) Bob Neill sent me several cards yesterday, all hits to my 1962 Post Canadian baseball set. Like most of the cereal set, these six show close-cropped players and lots of text, matched with French for their francophone audience.

Note that 5 of the players come hand-trimmed from boxes, but #191 Jerry Kindall features edge perforations. Collectors could obtain some cards directly from Post, which came on punch-out sheets and left those tell-tale chads.

Further note that #104 Maury Wills appeared on Post, Fleer, and regional sets well before his "feature card" debut with Topps in 1967, who failed to sign him at the minor-league level and apparently left it unresolved for several years. If you're interested in his earliest cards, more than 20 issues predate his "rookie" card from 1963 Fleer. See's player search for a list and--surprise!--that 1960 Topps #389 actually featured an unnamed Wills in a fielding pose from the World Series. The exact definition of a "rookie card" remains tough to pin down!

See my 1962 Post Canadian #5 profile of Mickey Mantle for more about the set itself.

Thanks for the hits, Bob! If any readers are interested in vintage trading and not already an OBC member (headquartered at, check out our site and consider applying for membership. It's a great group for both cards and socializing.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

1959 Venezuelan Baseball #5, Dick Donovan

Today's card represents Topps' first foray into publishing cards overseas, an important step that paralleled the MLB's growing (and symbiotic) relationship with Caribbean baseball. The fact that  a Brooklyn-based candy maker could license their designs to a Venezuelan printer (Benco) also says something about the evolving sports economy.

In the generation following WWII, geographic expansion of America's pastime meant more teams and fuller integration with foreign-born players. MLB rosters featured three active Venezuelans in 1959: Chico Carrasquel, Ray Monzant, and future HOFer Luis Aparicio. Their high profile in a country that already loved the game made printing cards for local consumption worthwhile, a practice Topps continued on-and-off into the 1970s.

This card looks unusually faded, but that's no accident of the scanner. While Benco's design copied Topps in style, it lacked something in substance, using both cheaper paper stock and no finishing gloss. This surface scuffed more easily, left colors washed out, and made details harder to discern. (Dick's #22 remains easy to read, thanks to Chicago's switch to TV-friendly uniforms with jumbo numbers on the shoulder.)

Benco's version came out in two series, #1-110 and #111-198, matching Topps own #1 to #198 (not 196 as often reported). The card backs include a mix of "(C) T.C.G. PRINTED IN U.S.A." and "Impreso en Venezuela por Benco CA" tag lines, oriented vertically along the right edge. It's tough to discern low-grade American versions from the former; see the Topps Archives article on Venezuelans for distinguishing scans that compare card stock for each.

Value: A dealer who specializes in Venezuelans sold this low-grade single for $5. Stars are rare enough to vary in price quite a bit, often commanding triple digits.

Fakes / reprints: Don't know of any faked Venezuelans. Regular Topps are better known and valuable enough to reprint on their own.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

1979 TCMA Savannah Braves Baseball #5, Brian Snitker

As a child of the 1970s, I was fascinated with guys who kept their MLB careers going into the 2000s, making rosters year after year. Tim Raines (debut 1979) fielded his last fly ball in 2001. Mike Morgan (debut 1978) made his last relief appearance in 2002. Rickey Henderson (debut 1979) stole base #1406 in 2003. That about wrapped it up for active players...but not for players on cards.

Brian Snitker never reached the big leagues as a catcher, but he's been with the Braves for more than 3 decades as a pro, coaching bullpens, pitchers, and teams. That's long enough to helm 9 different minor league teams and win manager of the year twice, South Atlantic League in 1997 and Carolina League in 2000. According to, he's even been on 29 different cards, a total not many guys from the 70s can match.

Keith Olbermann occasionally posts cards of current managers saved from his days at TCMA--see A Hairstyle is Temporary, A Baseball Card is Forever and Minor League Cards, Playoff Edition--but I don't think he's shown any coaches. Consider this post some "equal time."

Interesting meta-comment on the card back about the number of team photos Snitker played for in 1978. Even more notable, he caught at four different levels that year, A ball, high-A, AA, and AAA. Imagine handling that many different pitchers! Anyone who can do that deserves a shot at managing.

Value: Bought this for $2 at

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

1979 TCMA Charleston Charlies Baseball #5, Gary Woods

Fans who track Toronto's expansion year of 1977 should remember Gary Woods, as he started their inaugural game in CF, an early April contest that featured snow on the field and sober fans in the stands. (Exhibition Stadium didn't sell alcohol, a rarity in non-Prohibition baseball.) Woods bunted for a single, stole second, and came around to score the franchise's second run in an eventual 9-5 win.

I'm a fan of colorful uniforms like those sported by Charleston's Charlies, which served at the time as Houston's International League affiliate. Those bright stripes probably carried over from their parent club, itself one of the most distinctive looks in baseball history.
Unfortunately, imitation isn't always for the best. This "uniform effect" carried over to another Houston farm team, the Tucson Toros, in a particularly garish way just a year later.

By the numbers, Woods "peaked" as a league-average MLB hitter in 1982 (career stats at Baseball Reference), but regrets nothing about his decade and a half playing pro ball. As he told the Chicago Tribune in 1986:
"There are a whole lot of guys with more talent than I ever had who never got the opportunity. I went to the big leagues, went down, made it back and stayed...I can look in the mirror and say I did all I could to be the best possible player I could be."
Woods now lives in California and coaches for the Santa Barbara Foresters, who play in a July-August summer league for college players.

Value: Bought this for $2 on

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

Monday, April 25, 2011

Winners from the Easter Card Hunt

Thanks to everyone who entered my Easter Card Hunt contest. This list shows everyone's guess, interspersed with the cards in bold. Somewhat surprised no one went for #5!

  • 1974 Capital Publishing Co. #5
  • AstrosFreakCam #9
  • 1948 R346 #12
  • 1953 Topps #20
  • DodgerBobble #21
  • CubsFan #23
  • AdamE #40
  • Don WO #41
  • Mark #44
  • Mark A and 1971 Topps #55
  • 1934 Batter-Up #61
  • Chris S #69
  • Fuji #72
  • Greg Z #75
  • Hackenbush #80
  • 1933 Goudey #95
  • Beardy #99
  • Mariner1 #105
  • 1971 Topps #110
  • 1955 Topps #116
  • TiedGame #117
  • Nathan #124
  • 1941 Play Ball #128
  • Matt Hicks #133
  • 1953 Bowman Color #137
  • PlayAtThePlate #142
  • Captain Canuck #167
  • Andrew #175
  • BA Benny #177
  • 1962 Post Cereal #181
  • Night Owl #192
  • 1962 Topps #197

Congrats to Mark A, the only exact match, who picks up a 1971 Topps #55 Steve Carlton! Here's the full list of winners, judged by numerical proximity.
  • AstrosFreakCam: 1974 Capital Publishing #5 Roger Connor (StL) and 1948 R346 #12 Phil Masi (Boston Braves)
  • DodgerBobble: 1953 Topps #20 Hank Thompson (uh oh, it's a NY Giant :-)
  • Mark A: 1971 Topps #55 Carlton (Cardinals) and 1934 Batter-Up #61 McNair (A's)
  • Beardy: 1933 Goudey #95 Crowder (Senators)
  • Mariner1: 1971 Topps #110 Mazeroski (Pirates)
  • TiedGame: 1955 Topps #116 Bilko (Cardinals)
  • Nathan: 1941 Play Ball #128 Appleton (White Sox)
  • Matt Hickes: 1953 Bowman Color #137 Dente (White Sox)
  • BA Benny: 1962 Post Cereal #181 Hal Smith (Pirates)
  • Night Owl: 1962 Topps #197 Dick Hall (A's)

Now its final phase: TRADING. Want to swap something you won? Leave a comment in this post! I'll give people a few days to make any exchanges and then send out the cards.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Giveaway!

Happy Easter and Passover to readers who celebrate and good luck with your egg hunts to the rest!

In honor of the holiday, I'm giving away cards from 5 different decades. Exactly what cards they are remain a secret for now, but there's at least one from each of these.

  • 1930s
  • 1940s
  • 1950s
  • 1960s
  • 1970s

HOW TO ENTER: My cards range between #1 and #200, not necessarily inclusive. Comment with one guess in that range; I'll compare all entries to the giveaway cards and the closest win! It's a great time to test out your lucky numbers.

DEADLINE: Tonight (Easter Sunday) at midnight US Pacific time.

Make sure to include a contact email if you don't comment with your Google ID.

Friday, April 22, 2011

1979 TCMA Toledo Mud Hens Baseball #5, Kevin Stanfield

TCMA published more than 40 minor league team sets in 1979 and covered a surprisingly wide range of the country, from Hawaii's Islanders to Buffalo's Bisons. Checklists include 20 - 30 players each and picture many 1980s MLB stars, since most were only a step away from the bigs. My favorite card so far is of future intimidator Dave Stewart, who appears on Albuquerque Dukes #5.

Toledo's uniform used an unusual combo of dark colors and military striping that year; it reminds me of a band leader. Or maybe, given the big glasses and several days of beard, a 1970s narcotics investigator going undercover as a band leader.

The Mud Hens remain one of the best-known minor league teams, thanks to their distinctive name, long local history (playing since 1902, with one break following WWII), and 50+ years as a AAA affiliate for MLB teams.

Toledo opened a new downtown stadium in 2002; if you're in the area, they're running an interesting series of fan promotions this home stand (April 22 - 25, 2011).
  • Spring Cleaning Giveaway: first 1000 fans receive a giveaway from seasons past. What will you get?
  • Royal Wedding Rehearsal: first 1000 fans in the ballpark will receive a Prince or Princess crown!
  • Player autographs and kids run the bases

I'm a big fan of the last one, as getting onto a manicured pro field also feels like a special treat, especially for kids. Even the Kingdome's artificial carpet felt like heaven the two times I got to walk around on it in 1979.

Value: Like many of my TCMA cards, this cost $2 at

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

Thursday, April 21, 2011

1979 TCMA Ogden A's Baseball #5, Craig Mitchell

With Seattle already several games underwater in the standings, I've got an eye on their AAA affiliate Tacoma Rainiers, 2010's defending Pacific Coast League champions. Unfortunately, they're also in last place at 4-10. about former MLB slugger Wily Mo Pena, huh? 6 homers in just 9 games for the Reno Aces! En Fuego!

Today's #5 hails from Utah and features an erstwhile Oakland A's affiliate of the same name. But life is more than former baseball teams--interested in a state with good business and natural wonders? According to Forbes in 2010, the Ogden area trails only Pittsburgh as America's most livable city. That rating's a combo of employment levels, crime rate, cost of living, local economic health, and available culture. Judging by Craig's card, I'll add "great weather." Not a cloud in the sky!*

(*Brought to you by the Odgen Chamber of Commerce.)

That blank section looks just like a stadium scorecard, perfect for adding Craig's stats by hand. Just assume I penciled in "12-9 for Vancouver in 1978" and then "2-2 for Ogden in 1979." (Full minor league stats at B-R.) The latter marked his final pro season, but I bet he's still a ringer in local softball leagues.

Value: This #5 cost $2 at

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

1970 Baltimore Pictures of Champions Baseball #5, Brooks Robinson

Baltimore won 100 games every year from 1969-1971, one of only four franchises to accomplish the feat, and reached the World Series each year, winning it all in 1970. That run ranks among the best-ever in baseball and 1971's squad is famous for fielding 4 different 20-game winners (Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar, and Pat Dobson). Brooks Robinson anchored third base throughout and won the series MVP in 1970.

This 16-player set's numbered by uniform, so Brooks gets #5. For a small, orange-and-black rectangle, this card features a lot of uniform detail.
  1. That's the "Cartoon Bird" hat used from 1966 to 1989 (with black hat and orange bill)
  2. Baltimore used black half-sleeve undershirts for during the late 1960s and early 1970s
  3. Brooks added a T-shirt layer under his uniform; probably a chilly night
  4. His left shoulder shows MLB's 100th Anniversary patch, calling back to 1869 as pro ball's (debatable) starting point

This patch means the photo came from 1969 or perhaps 1970 spring training, since teams often reused a prior year's uniform during their spring games. (Given the huge light standard looming over Brooks, I think it's a 1969 home game in Baltimore.)

A local promotor distributed this set in the Baltimore area, though it's not clear exactly how it got into the hands of collectors. I've seen dealers with small bunches of them at shows and a full set once or twice, so perhaps you could buy either singles or sets. Here's the checklist.

  • 4: Earl Weaver
  • 5: Brooks Robinson
  • 7: Mark Belanger
  • 8: Andy Etchebarren
  • 9: Don Buford
  • 10: Ellie Hendricks
  • 12: Dave May
  • 15: Dave Johnson
  • 16: Dave McNally
  • 20: Frank Robinson
  • 22: Jim Palmer
  • 24: Pete Richert
  • 29: Dick Hall
  • 35: Mike Cuellar
  • 39: Eddie Watt
  • 40: Dave Leonhard

Value: This #5 cost me $25. Brooks, Jim Palmer, and Frank Robinson are the only players who run that much--most cost a few dollars.

Fakes / reprints: It'd be easy to fake these with modern printers, so be wary of buying them from unknown dealers.

Monday, April 18, 2011

1972 Venezuela Baseball Stamps #5, Jim Fregosi

1972 is one of those years Topps took a ton of card photos on spring training practice fields, leading to several marginal "action" poses with chain-link fence backgrounds. This not-really-swinging look captures both the malaise of Florida afternoons and Jim Fregosi's "my knee hurts again" ennui.

Sticker front (blank back)

If found this post following the bread crumbs of my other Venezuelan posts, you probably know their native pro ball (aka, Liga Venezolana de BĂ©isbol Profesional) occupies the MLB's winter months, so this stamp set likely hit Caribbean stores and ballparks in late fall. Local card sets usually came in small packs of 4 or 6, which I assume was also the case here.

1972 stamps feature a plain, gumless back, which most collectors mounted in albums. Unfortunately, that habit makes card damage a common occurrence and few survived the 1970s at all, let alone in decent shape.

While most of the set's pictures came directly from 1972 Topps cards, Venezuelan editors cropped Jim's from his high-series "traded" card.

Thanks to a Jan 6, 2011 blog post from Who Made the Grade, I learned that Fregosi appeared on three Topps cards that year: #115 (as an Angel), #346 Boyhood Photos (as a Met), and #755. NY traded for Jim in December 1971, so the first series must've already been closed for printing by then, and only caught up in the next go-round.

Who Made the Grade also made the point that Nolan Ryan--the focus of the swap--deserved a traded card more than Fregosi. Failing knees put Jim's prime behind him, though he still helped teams as a platoon player and unofficial coach. (I feature his unusual final days as a fielder in the 1966 OPC #5 profile.)

If you enjoy that early 1970s "look" on these cards, check out the blog 1973 Topps Photography, which is running through the whole set.

UPDATE: Bad news for me! Turns out that rounded font for JIM FREGOSI means this stamp's a counterfeit printed in 2009 and sold into the modern hobby on eBay. See this Collectors Universe forum for more details on how that happened and cards to avoid. This Brooks example and (its blockier font) should be legit. Some fakes made it into PSA slabs, reminding us that professionals get fooled.

Value: Found Mr. Fregosi on eBay for $12. HOFers like #184 Nolan Ryan cost triple digits--well above Topps equivalents--given the set's rarity.

Fakes / reprints: Collectors Universe confirmed that many counterfeits exist, even in professionally graded slabs. Look for rounded lettering with whiter borders and avoid too-good-to-be-true pricing. It took real expertise to ID and call out these fakes, given their low profile in the hobby.

Friday, April 15, 2011

1975 Shakey's Pizza West Coast Greats Baseball #5, Ernie Lombardi

Pizza might not be "American" as apple pie, but it's just as much a staple of our modern diet. Mozzarella even passed cheddar as the nation's most-consumed cheese, thanks to our love of every size and topping combination you can shred and sprinkle it on. Mmm, lunchtime.

Card front

This makes two mentions of Mr. Lombardi in one week, since Dave Frishberg also included him in the song "Van Lingle Mungo." Ernie looks a little dour here, but he hit well enough (126 lifetime OPS+) and long enough (1931-1947) for the Veterans Committee to posthumously enshrine him in 1986. Of course, Shakey's beat them by a full decade--take that, Vets!

Card back

I grew up a half-mile from that Bellevue (Washington) location and ate many a meal there, gorging on their lunch buffet of fast food slices and spiced steak fries. "Aurora" and "Lake City" mean neighborhoods in Seattle itself--Bellevue and West Seattle are separated from Seattle by bodies of water.

This card set includes 18 retired MLB players born somewhere on the West Coast and I assume people obtained cards during restaurant visits. Shakey's followed with similar sets in 1976-77, ceasing only after the Mariners came to town, as fan attention moved to players they could actually see on the field.

Value: Lombardi cost me a few dollars on eBay. Ted Williams is the set's biggest name and runs $10 or more.

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

Thursday, April 14, 2011

1954 Plankinton Meats Baseball #5, Bobby Thomson

Every now and then, baseball cards return to the floating head, that single design element that's equal parts "spotlight" and "creepy." Topps league leader cards use it off-and-on since their debut in the 1960s.

1962 Topps #55

Chicago Cubs team cards went bodiless for most of the 1970s.

1971 Topps #502, no room for a team name!

Magazines and newspapers no doubt used close-cropped head shots well before then, but today's #5--actually a folded booklet--predates anything I've seen on regular cards.

Wisconsin-based Plankinton Meats printed this 12-player series to honor the Braves' new home in Milwaukee and put real design work into the 11" x 17" finished product. Each poster shows a dozen highlight photos with text for "miscellaneous baseball tips." (Bobby's include "throwing from left field," pull hitting," and--my favorite--"fans are important.")

Bobby broke his ankle during spring training in 1954, so gave way to a rookie outfielder named Hank Aaron, who went on to play 122 games and hit his first 13 MLB homers. Aaron shifted to right in 1955, returning Thomson to left, a lineup Milwaukee kept through mid-1957.

Value: I recently came in second on eBay for a mid-grade booklet at $70, so that's a starting point. As of this writing, another eBay seller lists it for $220 Buy-It-Now, so let's call its price "variable."

Fakes / reprints: It'd be tough to fake something that large, but might happen for something so rare. (Warren Spahn and Eddie Mathews are probably the only guys valuable enough to try.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Van Lingle Mungo in cards?

Back in the late 1960s, songwriter David Frishberg turned a former Dodger pitcher into his most successful single, spinning the chorus "Van Lingle Mungo" over verses built from baseball contemporaries like Johnny Mize, Augie Bergamo, and Stan Hack. (Full player list at Baseball Almanac.)

1934 Diamond Star #19, Van Lingle Mungo

Here's the song with superimposed player pictures.

Some guys mentioned served as "fill-ins" during WWII--including the aforementioned Bergamo--but even Augie picked up two TCMA retrospective cards in 1975 and 1983. Anyone seen a video or blog cover the song (i.e., its players) in actual cards?

For the record, these #5s profilees also appear in Frishberg's tune.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

1978 Bob Bartosz Baseball Postcards #5, Dizzy Dean

Some oddball sets fit a soft spot in my heart, thanks to their context or theme, and this small group of postcards feels just right. They're the product of long-time New Jersey resident Bob Bartosz, profiled as Camden County's official photographer, and still photographing for the fire department more than 50 years after he started in 1959.

Dizzy Dean's held forth as team ace during the Gashouse Gang's championship run in St. Louis and collected an amazing 102 victories from 1933-36. 150 career wins proved enough to get him into the Hall of Fame in 1953, but he'd have a harder time in 2011. While Kirby Puckett and Dean both played a dozen seasons, the former ran it out everyday and appeared in less than 125 games just once. Guys with short careers can't throw in empty years anymore, like Dizzy's three (!) with just 1 game each (career stats). 

Bartosz bound 24 of his photos into a postcard book, discretely numbered at lower-left on the back, and likely sold them by mail or in-person locally.

Last week, reader Ed Watts helped figure out answers to the Memphis Chicks matchbox trivia. Today's Dizzy Dean montage spurs another question--what year and stadium is Ol' Diz pitching in? I've seen an in-uniform Old Timer's Game photo (shown here) of him at Yankee Stadium in 1962, but that's well before my time. Can anyone confirm or deny that game as the sequence pictured on today's #5?

UPDATE: Ed chipped in again to say it's likely the Astrodome, given the arrangement of fencing seen behind Dizzy's wind-up. He even appears uniformed in a blog article called Old Timer Games at the Dome!

Value: This postcard cost $5 on eBay in 2008. Singles that don't picture HOFers might run less.

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

Monday, April 11, 2011

1978 Big T/Tastee-Freez Baseball Discs #5, Greg Luzinski

Hey, it's another disc set! After yesterday's post about 1976 Sportstix stickers, round cards are on a roll. On a roll! Because they're round.

Big T produced this 26-player set on the heels of MSA's popular (but unnumbered) discs from 1977. The 3" diameter allows for a mug shot and basic bio, but used black-and-white photos, probably to save on printing costs. (Greg wears a logo-less hat because Big T only licensed the players themselves through the MLBPA union, not the team insignias via MLB Properties.)

Big T / Tastee-Freeze restaurants serve "classic" American fast food, similar to larger chains like Dairy Queen. Wonder what that light stain on the Luzinski disc (just below the #5) came from, a burger or the milkshake?

Original at

Love these old restaurant signs, though this one's for a Big T awaiting demolition. According to Wikipedia, you can still find Tastee-Freez shops scattered across 22 US states.

Value: Single discs cost a few dollars and HOFers--Palmer, Carew, Seaver, Brett, etc.--run somewhat more.

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

Sunday, April 10, 2011

1976 Sportstix Baseball #5, Ted Simmons

While unplanned, the 1970s disco decade became the high point for baseball cards that were actually shaped like a baseball. Several companies licensed the right to show player pictures--with black, logo-less hats--including the widely available MSA discs. They closely resemble Pepsi's glove discs, already featured in a 2010 set profile.

Isaly disc from PSA registry

1970s company Sportstix echoed this circular look in style, if not substance, with their own multi-sport sticker set. It included three sports (baseball, football, basketball), distributed five stickers at a time in small plastic packages. Each one listed all five included players, perhaps to avoid legal conflict with Topps, who claimed the exclusive right to sell cards in "packs."

Sportstix included 13 baseball stickers and used two numbering styles, depending on their playing status. Active players were #1 to #10 and include All-Star caliber guys from 1976. (Dave Kingman might be the best-known today.) The three retired players--Mays, Clemente, Mantle--go by letters A, B, and D. The older, retired players are all-timers, so prove both more memorable and more valuable in the market. Not sure what happened to letter C--perhaps they meant to add a fourth, but couldn't work out a contract?

Each sticker measures 3" across and comes in one of three styles: square-cornered, octagonal, and (like my #5) round.

Sticker front (blank back)

Few seem to remember Ted Simmons today, perhaps because he competed against elite backstops like Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk, Thurman Munson, and Gary Carter. I won't call it a shame that his legacy faded, since his excellent hitting overshadowed middling defensive play, but a guy must be great to count five HOFers in his Top 10 Similarity Scores, with Miguel Tejada a possible sixth.

Value: The 1976 active players cost a dollar or two. Mays, Clemente, and Mantle run $10 or more.

Fakes / reprints: It'd be hard to reprint these stickers for any kind of profit, so I doubt anyone tried.

Monday, April 4, 2011

1978 Memphis Chicks Baseball Match Box #5, Team Trivia

This is one of the more era-specific baseball giveaways I've seen, especially coming from a minor league team. Matchboxes usually mean cigarettes and cigarettes mean tobacco, which MiLB prohibited across the sport starting in 1993. These days, it's all programs and overpriced food!

Of the 5 questions on box #5, only 3 turn up easily via Google. The other two are somewhat esoteric--players living in Memphis in the 1970s--or need quality research, since Memphis rosters from the 1940s and 1950s prove tough to come by. (I suspect you could find answers locally back when these promos came out.) Questions below!
  1. What famous father and son combination is pictured here? (Father pitched for Chicks--son presently pitches for a major league team) Appears to be Ross Grimsley, Sr. and Jr.
  2. Name 3 former Chicks now living in Memphis who played prior to 1960 Answers in the update section below
  3. What former Chicks pitcher holds the record for the best winning percentage in a single season? (This is an all-time Southern Association record) From the Association's own records page, I suspect it's Glenn Liebhardt)
  4. What famous holiday and year did Russwood Park burn? Easter Sunday, 1960
  5. What two major league teams played there that day? Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians

Isn't it odd that Memphis, a franchise devastated by their ballpark burning down, would promote themselves with matches?

UPDATE: Thanks to reader Ed Watts for researching the first two questions!
  1. It appears the father/son combo is Ross Grimsley, Sr. and Jr. The father played for Memphis 1952-53 and 1979 Hostess #5 shows some of his son's pitching record.
  2. Ed suggested four possibilities, given players who pitched for--and died in--Memphis : Sammy Meeks (1952-54, d.2007), John Antonelli (1935, 1948-49, d.1990), Ed McGhee (1950-52, 1955, d.1986), and the aforementioned Grimsley, Sr. It's an intriguing question, if hard to narrow down to 3.

Value: Found this for $1 at the 2010 National in Baltimore. Not sure if there's a larger market for matchbooks, beyond better-known sets like the 1935-6 Diamond Match Co.

Fakes / reprints: Doubt someone would ever fake a matchbox.

Friday, April 1, 2011

1977 Bob Parker Reds Baseball #5, Don Gullett

Happy Opening Day, Reds fans! Congrats on the exciting comeback and win over Milwaukee, who got a reminder how un-automatic the closer role really is, short of guys like Mariano Rivera (who picked up save #560 on the back side of a Yankee win).

Card front (blank back)

Gullett made the opening day start twice during his 7-year stint with Cincy. Notably, he drove in the team's only run against Juan Marichal in 1972 and then pitched into the 10th (!) in 1975, giving up a single run over 9 2/3 innings. I predict it'll be a long time before we see a starting day pitcher go into extra innings again, if ever.

Artist Bob Parker first drew these postcard-sized images in a regular newspaper feature highlighting Reds players, but later printed them as individual cards, sold by mail order for a few dollars each. I love the surrounding cartoons, a style that calls all the way back to 1938 Goudey.

1938 Goudey #277

Value: Sets cost a few dollars then and singles cost a few dollars today. Stars Pete Rose and Johnny Bench might run you more.

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