Thursday, July 24, 2014

Too much goodness to absorb at once

I am making a semi-serious effort to cut down on my Dodger doubles. I've already made arrangements on Twitter to send Dodgers to four or five people. That's not nearly enough to get to a respectable level of dupes. So if anyone wants a variety of Dodgers extras -- and, yes, I know the usual blogging candidates -- please let me know. I'd rather get rid of them this way than in more anonymous ways, which is what I will consider next.

One person who already has some Dodgers coming his way is Stewart, who jumped on my offer immediately. Not long ago, he sent a package full of variety straight from Dodger country. There was so much random that I couldn't process it all.

In fact, I thought I had absorbed it all finally, when I went back to it last night -- to scan, of course -- and was floored by something grand that I totally missed the first time.

I'm saving that piece of wonderful for last as is my custom. In the meantime, take a look at this:

All-Time greats? You bet. Not only is someone named Ducky fanning himself with four bats, but I've wanted one of these cards since I was probably 13.

This is from the TCMA All-Time Greats series first issued in 1973 and then subsequently in following years during the '70s. I would see these cards advertised in catalogs like Larry Fritsch and others and drool over them. Cards of old-timey guys just weren't around in the late '70s. You saw them only from the good folks of TCMA.

Now that I have one, I can't get over how primitive it is. The back looks like it was written on a typewriter, which is standard for TCMA cards from that time. Also, there is a part on the back on the top edge that says "cut on the dotted line." You just don't get messages like that on today's cards.

More primitive greatness created by scissors and cardboard. This apparently was cut off the side of a box of macaroni and cheese in 1987. I know this because I see "Kraft dinners" in the top left corner. And now I have "If I Had a Million Dollars" by the Barenaked Ladies in my head.

More quirkiness, which isn't easy to achieve with Kevin Brown. Normally, I give Kevin Brown cards a quick once-over stink eye. But this one features a piece of bat used by Brown after a year in which he hit .076. I can see why he was willing to give up the bat.

TOTAL! And I need all of that! LOOK AT IT! There is nothing like a massive stack to attack a massive set. One Total card is just not going to get it done.

Some of these Marquee cards look colorized. I don't know if that's what's going on here, but it's very TBS, circa 1990.

This is now the most unsettling card of Shoeless Joe that I have in my collection. Don't look at it for a long time. You'll see things.

Laughed out loud when I saw this card. "I'M KENNY POWERS AND I'M VERY UPSET WITH HOW I'M ACTING RIGHT NOW!" That show needs to come back.

I have no idea where this card came from, but the back is fantastic, too.

Gold foil parallel madness from the '90s. But at least it's Garv and his head floats.

This is the Nomo portion of the post. Getting Nomo cards makes every day brighter. And Stewart was able to deliver six Nomo cards that I didn't have.

Here are a couple extra-key ones:

This is not a 2002 Donruss Originals card. Don't be so gullible.

It is a SAMPLE 2002 Donruss Originals card.

I don't know what possessed Donruss to do this. Was it pissed off that no one was reading the card backs. "We'll show those sniveling collectors who only like the pictures."

Stewart said he obtained this card from a guy working the parking lot at Dodger Stadium. I guess it's some sort of stadium issue, from around 2003. The back says Nomo is nicknamed "The Warrior", which I have never heard.

There were lots of Mondesi cards in this package. In terms of '90s Dodgers with the most cards, Mondesi probably comes in fourth behind Piazza, Nomo and Karros.

I will not apologize for wanting cards of Eric Gagne. Send them to me. Nothing from when he was a Brewer/Ranger/Red Sox though.

That is a whole lot of games already played right there.

I would love one day to have a schedule for every year of the L.A. Dodgers. I have a very meager amount already and this helps me quite a bit (although it's a little disturbing to find out that there are Spanish versions, spring training schedules and also apparently a schedule for every player in 2007).

The schedule that is second from the left at the top is from 1987. I looked at that schedule to find that there were two baseball card giveaways that year. Then I looked at the 2013 schedule (bottom right). There were no baseball card giveaways. But there were like 10 bobblehead giveaways. That is not progress.

Of course, that's in the eye of the beholder, which is probably the reason I also received this:

I carelessly cropped off the name at the bottom, but I think you can figure out (or maybe you can't, it is a bobblehead after all) that this is Shawn Green.

I've written before that me and bobbleheads don't see eye to eye. They're kind of neat, I guess. I just look at them like a dog trying to figure out what his owner is saying. Not really seeing the point.

But it's pretty cool that someone thought enough to send me one. In fact, as I said above, it was such a varied package that I completely missed some things the first time through. They sat on my desk for a couple of weeks without my knowledge.

There was this Mondesi card that completely eluded me, despite the shiny.

And there was this Brian Jordan card that I probably would have thrown in the dupes box if it didn't catch my eye a second time.

And then, at the bottom of all those cards (I'm only showing a fraction of them here), there was a note from Stewart:

"Live life above the line ..."? What the hell? What kind of self-help mumbo-jumbo is th -----

MARIO MENDOZA?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

As in the Mendoza line?

As in THIS Mario Mendoza?

That is glorious.

I really shouldn't ask, but now I need to know the exact circumstances of how this autograph on an index card came to be. I HAVE MARIO MENDOZA'S SIGNATURE! I NEED TO KNOW!!!!!!!!!

"Best of luck"? Well, obviously, I have your autograph, I definitely AM lucky.

That is totally cool, and my '70s collection rules more and more by the day.

Thank you, Stewart.

And that is your daily reminder to go back through your cards because -- really -- you never know what you're going to find.

(P.S.: Don't forget about the Dodger dupes. If you want some, let me know)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Doubling up

The other day I displayed this photo on a post to celebrate the fact that my 2011 Topps Lineage minis set was finally fully paged.

But there is one thing very unusual about this photo when it comes to my collection:

The cards are inserted one per pocket.

With virtually all of my sets, I insert cards two to a pocket.

I know this makes me odd. I had no idea exactly how odd until I started a blog. It seems that most binder folks store their sets one card to a pocket. Periodically, when the topic comes up as it did earlier today, and I inform people that I double-bag pages, I get a "you do WHAT?", and then after my response, I get a "well if you must."

And I do "must".

Putting two cards in each pocket began out of necessity. When I was a teenager and first became aware of pages and binders to display a collection, I didn't have any money. Back then, you could find pages only through mail-order catalogs. They weren't readily available and they weren't cheap. Also, binders were reserved for school. A spare binder was a luxury.

So I conserved both pages and binders by putting two cards in each pocket with their backs facing each other. I had no problem with this. The card back was the least attractive part of the card, it didn't need to be displayed. And if I wanted to look at the card back, I'd simply take out the card.

As the years went on and my collection grew, I continued to double-bag pages for the same reasons. Money is always tight.

Then space became an issue.

When you live in a house with people, there is only so much of the house that is "yours". I've pushed the limits of where my cards can go as much as I can. There is only so much space they can take up without bringing in counselors.

I now have 60 binders full of cards. I just counted them. The room where most of them are stored is packed. No more will fit. I have a closet area where I might be able to fit a few if I need the space. After that, my only option is the basement and I don't like that idea at all. (It's possible I could acquire or build some shelving, but that also comes with issues of its own).

If I were to take all of the cards out of the pages and re-file them with one card to a page, I would double the number of binders I needed, and there is no way I'm doing that. No room. No money.

Besides, I just like the look of my double-bagged binders.

Here's what I like about them:

 This is a look at the innards of my 1971 Topps binder. I love that I can see full-color faces of 17 players (plus one entire team) in one glance.

You can't do that if you limit cards one to a pocket. Instead it would look like this:

That doesn't look nearly as pretty as seeing full-color cards on facing pages.

I'm beginning to understand that I'm in the minority on this issue. But I still don't understand why.

I know some say they want to see the card backs. I value card backs as much as anyone -- I've written enough posts about card backs -- but really there aren't very many that are worth being on display at all times. If I want to see the back, I'll take out the card.

I know taking out a card makes some collectors squeamish, but really what are you risking by removing a card? Unless it's a super vintage card, TAKE IT OUT. It's a card, it's meant to be handled. If you can't remove it, maybe it should be in a toploader and not a binder.

But I do make exceptions to my two-cards-per-pocket rule.

The 1956 Topps cards I have are one to a pocket. The card backs on '56 are the best card backs of all-time. I refuse to cover those up.

Also, my 1975 Topps minis are also one to a pocket. But that's because the pages were free, man. There all kinds of exceptions when pages don't cost a cent.

That's also why the Lineage minis are one to a pocket, too.

But I don't anticipate any other sets being that way.

If I was attempting to complete a set from the '50s or the '60s, I would consider one card per pocket. The card backs are a little more memorable than the backs from sets from the '70s through today, and there's something about absorbing the entire card from a set that old.

But as for other sets?

I couldn't possibly go from this:

To this:

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My work here is done

If I were to stop collecting right now, immediately this very minute, ignore the card show coming up this weekend, return the amount in my paypal account to the bank, leave the cash that I received for my birthday for the express purpose of purchasing more cardboard on the counter, I will have led a good hobby life.

In many ways, I'm done.

I don't need to acquire any more cards. I own far more than I ever thought I'd obtain, and have far more interesting cards than I ever thought possible even five years ago.

A few recent developments have lead me to this.

The first came when I received yet another card bonanza from Jaybarkerfan's Junk. As I often do, after first going through the cards, I then figure out which ones are duplicates. There were a lot of duplicates, which is no problem because there were a lot of terrific non-duplicates, too, which you'll see soon.

I put the duplicates where I normally do, and then -- I don't know what possessed me to do it this time -- I took a picture of where they're stored.

Here is a look at my Dodgers card dupes:

Sorry about the card blurriness, this is a dark corner under my desk.

The box at the bottom (ignore the writing on there, that was from a long, long time ago) is packed full of Dodgers doubles. Inside that box is one full set of columns on the bottom, followed with another full set of columns stacked on top of the bottom columns, with some small rows jammed on the end.

And then there are the stacks, there are six of them that you see there, of cards that don't fit in the box. There is also a separate stack up on shelf that you can't see.

Once upon a time on this blog, I advised people to go through their doubles periodically because you never know when you'll find a card in there that you actually need.

I now shudder at the thought of that.

I also haven't organized my doubles in probably a couple of years. That's both a function of less time and MOAR DOUBLES.

And when I see what's before me, there is that inevitable thought:

Are we done here?


OK, the other occurrence that caused me to consider whether I've accomplished everything I need to do.

Often, people ask me out of the blue if I need a certain card. I am always grateful for the thought. Thinking of little ol' me just because they have spare Dodgers card.

But I didn't know how high on the priority list I actually am. Here is a tweeted response from a blogger when I thanked him for considering me:

Honestly, I think that's all I can accomplish. There is no chance I eventually surpass Koufax or Robinson on that list, so everything else from here on out is either a lateral move or heading down.

But when you see something like that, your thought -- or at least my thought -- is: (*fist bump*) mission accomplished.

I wanted people to send me Dodgers. Now they do it almost as a reflex action. Right after thinking of the man who broke the color barrier.

What else is there to do?

Well, I guess the least I could do is show the cards that Jaybarkerfan's Junk sent.

I sincerely hope he did not spend $10 for this card. First, that's too much to spend on a card you're going to send to me. Second, I still can't figure out why these are so valued -- if they are anymore. I'm going to hope it's because of rarity and not stitching. Please tell me these were rare.

More stitching. The heart of the package was relics. A whole mess of them as you can see.

I also no longer have room for all of my Dodger relics. A year or so ago I planned to weed out some of my relics. But that involved trading, selling and mailing and there is no time for that, so I've just let them pile up. The Delwyn Young relic is a dupe, that Shawn Green relic is Green relic No. 15 in my collection, so obviously I need to take some action.

But let's move on because I don't want to think of that.

I still have room for tobacco minis. I'm running out of pages, but at least I can buy more without worrying about creating a fire hazard.

I also have a space rule for vintage. If I receive vintage doubles of Dodgers from 1977 or earlier, I file them in the appropriate binders.

Anything after 1977 goes in the dupes pile that you just saw in that picture. So the above cards are safe. I think that might be my 7th or 8th 1977 Cey, so I may have to bump the rule back to 1976.

OK, now here -- here is why I am not calling it quits (I had some of you worried this whole time, huh?). This lousy 2014 Topps Series Kenley Jansen card is why I'm still pressing forward.

This is just the third Dodger from Series 2 that I own. That's all I have. For someone who comes third behind Koufax and Robinson, don't you think I would have wrapped up all the Series 2 Dodgers by now?

Clearly I have still have some very important work to do.

My work here is NOT done.

Not by a long shot.

(*clears throat*)

Allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Night Owl.

I want your Dodgers cards.

Tell your friends.

Thank you.

Monday, July 21, 2014

C.A.: 1978 Topps Mark Lemongello

(I suppose you've heard that today is National Junk Food Day. Why this day isn't scheduled for a Sunday in October is beyond me. But mostly I want to know, where is National Junk Wax Day? We could schedule it for every August 27 -- August always needs a holiday -- and celebrate by dumping our surplus 1991 Donruss in the river. Think about it. In the meantime, here is Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 209th in a series):

Let's start with the name, since that's what draws everyone's attention first.

To be honest, I didn't make the connection when I first saw this card in 1978. Mark Lemongello? Lemon Jello? It sailed directly over my head. This was probably because I was in seventh grade at the time and completely smitten with a devastatingly pretty girl named Lisa Maringelli. "Lemongello" and "Maringelli" are much too similar when you're 12 years old and in love.

So, to me, at that time, this Lemongello was a cool dude, because his name glides off the tongue -- like Maringelli -- not because it glides down the throat like lemon jello.

Next, let's address everything else you've read about Lemongello, because he's been written about more than a few times.

 You've probably heard that he had a temper. He wrecked things. He'd take out a clubhouse after a poor start. He punched through hotel ceiling tiles with his fists. He once smashed a Coke machine, destroyed a couple hairdryers, and when he was a teenager, obliterated his stereo system. There is video of him (uploaded by none other than Wrigley Wax) flipping out -- and flipping off -- on the field against the Cubs.

A former teammate and good friend of his at the time, Frank MacCormack, remembers the aftermath of a minor league game in 1975 in which Lemongello held a 9-0 lead before exiting in the sixth inning with a blister. The other team tied the game 11-11 and then won in the bottom of the ninth when the right fielder lost a ball in the sun and the winning run scored. Said MacCormack:

"Later, at a restaurant, there were a bunch of us, we ordered four T-bone steaks and four baked potatoes. Finally, after an hour and 15 minutes, the waitress put the food before us. But there was one T-bone steak with french fries and she made the mistake of putting them in front of Mark who hadn't said a word since the game, just sat there seething. The french fries made him go nuts. He picked up the french fries and threw them at her, hitting her on the back of the head. Then he picked up the steak and fired it off the wall on the far side of the room. We told the manager we didn't know him."

This story, the others, and even more, including the time he bit a chunk out of his own shoulder, can be found in a Montreal Gazette story from 1979. It also recounts how Lemongello famously mocked Toronto and the Blue Jays when he was traded there by Houston, and how his family believes his increasing outbursts were due to losing a brother to bone cancer in 1976. Near the end of his major league career, he showed up Blue Jays manager Roy Hartsfield, letting the ball drop and walking away when the manager came to take him out of a game.

OK, now let's get to the kidnapping.

There was the time in 1982 when Lemongello and another pitcher, a former minor leaguer, abducted his two cousins and forced them to withdraw $50,000 from a bank and then dumped the two in the woods. (The two cousins, by the way, were Mike Lemongello, a former pro bowler, and Peter Lemongello, a former crooner who appeared on the Tonight Show several times -- but that's another story).

Mark Lemongello was sentenced to community work and seven years probation, which he served. The whole incident allegedly evolved from a dispute related to work that Lemongello was doing on Astros pitcher Joe Sambito's house.

But you know all that. It's all there on the internets. A number of times.

When I write about well-covered topics like this one, I try to find something that I haven't seen everywhere else. The most ideal nugget would be to determine what Lemongello is doing now. After all, today is his 59th birthday, and someone somewhere must be celebrating that, right?

Sadly, since serving his sentence, Lemongello seems to have dropped off the earth -- or at least off the internet.

But I did find something interesting that I didn't see anywhere else.

Lemongello began his professional career with the Detroit Tigers. He was signed by them in 1973. In 1975, he played for the Tigers' Double A club in Evansville, Indiana.

One of the pitchers in the same rotation as Lemongello that year was ... Mark Fidrych.

Lemongello and Fidrych were ON THE SAME TEAM!

Evansville must have been the most entertaining place to watch baseball in 1975. On one side you had Fidrych, charging out of the dugout, congratulating infielders in the middle of the game after nice plays, talking to himself, exhibiting hyper energy at all times; and on the other side you had Lemongello, a brooding perfectionist, whose outbursts were as volatile as Fidrych's were gleeful.

And here's another thing: Fidrych and Lemongello, along with MacCormack, Ed Glynn and Dennis DeBarr, were roommates.

Holy heck, the '70s were great.

So, I don't know where Lemongello is, and I hope the fact that he hasn't popped up in the public eye since 1983 means he's settled down and is enjoying a quiet birthday today.

But at least I know something that I didn't know before:

They need to make a movie about the 1975 Evansville Triplets. Right now.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I guess I collect prospects now?

I made an off-handed comment about the hype over the Dodgers' best hitting prospect a few posts ago. I hold no ill will toward Joc Pederson. In fact, if he was called up today to replace Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier, I wouldn't say a word.

My point was that you never know what you're going to get with prospects, no matter how good they look in the minors.

Part of my viewpoint on this is my age. The longer I am a fan, the less gullible and more cynical I've become. I've lived through Joe Simpson, Mike Marshall, Greg Brock, Jack Perconte, Mike Huff, Rafael Bournigal, Karim Garcia, Wilton Guerrero, Adam Riggs, Delwyn Young, Xavier Paul and a host of others that I've long since forgotten. They tore up Triple A and, at best, put together an average major league career.

The other reason I hesitate over players like Pederson is I live a long way from where the Dodgers' top prospects play. Albuquerque and Chattanooga, and before that, Las Vegas, Jacksonville and San Antonio, are nowhere near me. I don't get the chance to evaluate these players in person.

So, when another of these prime prospect types comes along, I stand with my arms crossed and say, "show me".

Well, Corey from the Tim Wallach blog did show me. In the form of cards. He happens to live where Pederson's name comes up more often than anywhere else outside of Los Angeles-based social media. Corey and Pederson each apply their trade in New Mexico, and apparently, judging by the package I received from Corey, there are stores in New Mexico that you can go to where all they sell are Joc Pederson cards.

How else would you explain this?:



I used to be proud of the seven Joc Pederson cards that I was able to muster before this package arrived at my home. Now, I have about 20 cards of a guy who has never played in the major leagues to this point.

This is very uncomfortable. I guess I'm collecting prospects now?

Since I try to avoid cards of players until they reach the majors, a couple of things I noted with these cards that prospect collectors already know or brush off:

1. The helmets. I can't get used to those helmets.
2. Player-collecting of minor leaguers is odd just because some of them aren't full developed yet and you can see their body types and even their faces change over just a couple of years. This reminds me of how close these guys are to high school and it weirds me right out.
3. I don't collect "minor league only" cards unless it's a complete set issued by a team or a league. The Heritage minors set looks nice, but I can't get over that every player in it is a minor leaguer and I'd have a difficult time spending money on that.
4. The repetition of images would drive me to drink if I was a player collector.
5. I can't get over how accustomed I am to someone's first name being "Joc".

For the record, I hope Pederson has an exceptional career with the Dodgers, and that fans aren't demanding he be traded four years from now (but they probably will no matter how well Pederson is doing).

But even after more than doubling my Joc Pederson collection, I'm not ready to guarantee anything about his career.

That's because I remember Bobby Mitchell. And Billy Ashley. And Antonio Perez ...