Saturday, February 27, 2016

Top 5 Indianapolis Indians Number Fives

I started this blog post with a mission: finish out the Indianapolis Indians type posts. They're a minor league organization with major league commitment to card quality, especially during the 1970s, a decade of typically poor card stock and middling black-and-white photos. So I checked my type list, warmed up my keyboard, and Googled 'topps harry spilman.' This is a "tobacco card" I expected to write about in support of 1979's type card.

But surprise surprise, it turned out I'd already profiled Spilman's spot on the 1979 Indianapolis AAA roster. Huh. OK, maybe I forgot one of the other four guys with big league dreams. But no, they were all there.

1976 team set #5, Joe Henderson:

1977 team set #5, Tom Hume:

1978 team set #5, Mike LaCoss:

1979 team set #5, Harry Spilman:

Badass cards photos aren't just for MLB players. Spilman says, 'toss that 85 fastball up here and I'll prove it doesn't belong in the park.'

1980 team set #5, Joe Price:

Huh, I've already covered them all. Oh well.

TRIVIA: All of these guys made the jump from Indianapolis to the bigs as Cincinnati Reds. Mike LaCoss had the longest career (14 years) and also made an All-Star team in 1979. Many years later, he also did the Ice Bucket Challenge.

For reasons unknown, Indianapolis put extra effort into their 1970s team sets, printing in full color where most teams settled for black-and-white. I surmise someone in Indy's promo department had latitude to fund the sets and they might've done well at the souvenir stands.

Value: While all future MLB vets, none of their minor league cards command above-average prices, so would run $2-3 bought individually.

Fakes / reprints: Haven't seen any in the marketplace, but sometimes you forget that you already blogged about Harry Spilman once, so then you try to do it again. It worked out OK.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

1967-68 Coca-Cola Minnesota Twins Baseball Crowns #5, Jim Perry

1960s-70s hurler Jim Perry won 215 career games, placing him in the top 100 all-time, but it's vogue in some baseball circles to re-examine the single-mindedness of wins and update how we value the men credited with them. For example, where does a starter like Jim, pitching in the era of 4-man rotations and multiple expansions, rate compare to today's 6-7 inning pitcher? And did he prove most deserving of the "win?" Whatever you think of Ws and Ls, SABR's Origin of the Modern Pitching Win does a great job laying out the "long, tortured history" of these stats.

But! No amount of words can wipe the name Perry from our statistical record, especially when younger and winning-er brother Gaylord joins the conversation. Between Jim (215) and Gaylord (314), 529 opponents hit the showers in defeat. That's a lot of smiling in the Perry households.

Today's type "card" is what it looks like, a soda bottle cap that sealed 1960s glass bottles of Coke or its related brands. You can also discern right away that the undersides of these Coke crowns are so small, you barely have room for a face and a name. "M5" tells you this is cap #5 from the M(innesota) team set and "P" tells you Perry is a pitcher.

Jim's floating head style reappears on cards and collectibles from time-to-time. The easiest place to find them on cards are Topps league leaders and some teams. The Cubs, for example, often omitted an "annual photo" -- and no group photo meant floating heads. Chicago looked like this for much of the 1970s.

1977 Topps #518, Chicago Cubs

My ode to the floating head, that side effect of too little space for too much baseball player.

Fly free, fly clear. Look to horizons unconsidered, celebrate your lightness of being. Be yourself, be alive, be unexpected. Be Joe Pepitone's sideburns.

Coca-Cola put a lot of floating heads under bottle crowns in 1967 and 1968, matching collections of teams and all-stars to promotional posters like this one. Buy enough soda and you could swap crowns for (cheap) baseballs or ball caps.

I cross-posted this poster from The Fleer Sticker Project's terrific profile of Coke's promotion and its hand-in-glove arrangement with 1967's "Dexter Press photos." You should read it and feel completely informed.

Value: Perry cost me $3 on eBay. High grade stars cost somewhat more, but dinged-up crowns can be a cheap (25 cents) way to start 1960s oddball collecting.

Fakes / reprints: It'd be tough to fake Coke's crowns and none are pricey enough to merit the effort.