Monday, November 30, 2015

1976 Caruso Phoenix Giants Baseball #5, Skip James

In my last post (Carlos Lopez), I lamented how card maker Caruso picked green bunting for a 1976 bicentennial team set, when the situation obviously called for red. Ugh.

It's only now that I realize: I'd forgotten about this post from 2013.

Orange bunting and beige player.

I also forgot this other post from 2013.

Red bunting! But green player.

Is Caruso never going to put all the pieces together for today's PCL team, starring Skip James?

No, they will not. Red bunting and yellow player.

1976 Hostess, Garvey/Rader/Blue

Unlike the forthrightly patriotic 1976 Hostess, "red, white, and blue" never quite happened for Caruso. On behalf of America, I will accept it and move on.

Skip served five years in the Phoenix heat and had already been a Giants 1975 type card. After two brief stints with SF, he emigrated to Japanese pro clubs in the 1980s, like a growing number of guys who couldn't find steady MLB work. I haven't heard if Pacific Coast players were more likely to try Japan than their Atlantic equivalents, but can see how it'd be easier to transfer fan interest overseas, given the larger Japanese communities in PCL cities.

Value: This Caruso #5 cost $2 from, the source of many of my MiLB types. The team set includes a young Jack Clark and a few other future MLB players, so costs a little more than PCL sets with stars, about $20-25.

Fakes / reprints: Haven't seen any Caruso reprints in the marketplace, though it's possible Jack Clark's card got this treatment during his heyday.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

1976 Caruso Salt Lake City Gulls Baseball #5, Carlos Lopez

With my lengthy history as a Mariners fan, I should've gotten to know Carlos Lopez by now, but for some reason I haven't. I might've even known off the top of my head that he played 99 games for their 1977 expansion squad and was traded thereafter in a swap for pitcher Mike Parrott, but I didn't. Hmph.

1978 Topps #166, Carlos Lopez

Given this limited knowledge, my thanks to the 1978 Baseball blog for the (above) happy-go-lucky scan of Carlos Lopez and check out that powder blue Seattle expansion uni. The only way to make Carlos any bluer would be to print him entirely in blue ink. Which is what (below) today's type card did.

1976 Caruso SLC Gulls #5, Carlos Lopez (blank back)

Caruso printed a lot of 70s team sets and some render better than others. All that stars & stripes bunting is a fine nod to the 1976 USA bicentennial, but you need red bunting with the white card and blue player to complete its "AMERICA!" effect. All that green bunting puts me off my hot dogs and apple pie.

As a player, Carlos Lopez did a lot more than pose in blue and green. He played at least 17 seasons of pro baseball, starting as a fresh-faced Mexican Leaguer in 1969, "peaking" in the US as an Angel, Mariner, and Oriole (1977-79), and returning to the Mexican League for his 30s (1980-1985). His known career stats tells a story lived by many Latino players, who traveled far from home to follow their horsehide dreams.

Seattle Police postcard, Mike Parrott

Compared to Carlos, I know a lot more about aforementioned trade-mate Mike Parrott, who's still coaching in the PCL and "putting sanity to the test," as pitching coaches do in a league known for its hitter-friendly environments. Check out that linked article for a nice look at Mike's state of mind after 40+ years in pro ball.

Value: After years of watching eBay for Caruso singles, I nabbed Carlos in early 2019 for $2 + shipping. None of the 1976 SLC Gulls became a MLB star, so others should cost about the same.

Fakes / reprints: Caruso cards use thin white stock and were sold at ballparks in bagged, complete team sets. Haven't seen any Caruso fakery in the marketplace, but minor league cards of future star players are vulnerable to it, so be aware of that chance, if you prefer to purchase type cards of well-known players.