Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mini pages, mega reaction

I go back and forth over whether I am naturally tidy or sloppy. I tend to think that I am tidy because my mother is quite the neat freak, and, oh, the random rules when I was growing up. Whether by force of habit or inherited genes, I tend to like certain things tidy.

But only certain things. My desk at work ranks only third in the sports department in terms of health department disaster area, but consider that I have been meaning to clean my desk there for 15 years and have never gotten more than five minutes into it. That's a lot of accumulation.

So it seems I'm only tidy about areas that matter to me. The kitchen, for example. Get those counters clear. Food is too important to eat in filth.

And, above all, baseball cards.

My collection is not as tidy as other collectors. I marvel at those who have their own dedicated card rooms and have constructed four-level shelves just for their binders. My goal is one day to have my own exclusive card room (my wife has even signed off on it), but it's going to be a few years before I get to that level.

Still, even though I must go to four different sections of the house for my cards, in general, they are neatly organized. Binders are preferred over boxes. But the boxes are always organized. Even the doubles boxes I try to keep tidy, although the incentive is low.

So it is quite trying for me that time and oddly shaped cards have conspired against my hobby-related OCD. For months, probably years now, random cards of all shapes have been sitting on my card desk and in random boxes tormenting me on a daily basis. THESE CARDS NEED TO BE STORED IN PAGES!

I have been most desperate about the minis that are sitting out in the open. Stuff like this has accumulated too much for my comfort:

All minis -- especially minis -- should be stored. They're mini. They need to be sheltered and protected.

I was most disturbed by my Dodger minis, most of which I've received from various collectors. The Dodger minis get first priority for my tobacco mini pages. I carefully slip them into order, painstakingly shifting other minis to get the new mini in its proper spot.

But many, many months ago, I ran out of tobacco-sized mini pages. And the backlog began.

It doesn't look like a lot (26 cards total), but that's just too much for me to stand. The elements! The potential damage! Close your eyes!

So, for months, the OCD part of my brain (YOU MUST GET THESE IN PAGES!) argued with the accumulating part of my brain (MUST. ACQUIRE. CARDS) and the accumulating part always won. I love new cards way too much, and nobody wants to see new pages on a card blog anyway.

I thought I'd never get the pages I needed to make the inner-wincing go away. But I guess it just got to be too much. I care TOO MUCH for cards, they must be tidy!

And, so, I am showing for you now:

(*imagine that music that is played when the heavens open*)


- Hobby Exclusive
- Super Strong Weld
- No PVC - Acid Free
- Hologram/Safe Storage
- Ultra Clear
- UV Protection
- Lays Flat
- Patented

OK, I don't care about most of that. I just felt I should list it because I'm so excited!

Sure, this isn't as big as when I got my free box of newly made 1975 Topps-style minis from UltraPro after a bit of hounding on my part.

But cleaning off my card desk is really important to me now, especially when it comes to minis.

These pages mean I can do all kinds of things that I couldn't do for a long time.

- I can store my Dodger minis in proper order
- I can get one of those mini binders
- I can move all my tobacco mini Dodgers into one of those mini binders
- I don't know why I haven't thought of doing that until now
- I can store random minis, like the Munnatawket minis (gee whiz, Kate Upton needs a house)
- I can store random minis, like the owl minis
- I can store various A&G insert minis that just sit there in a box waiting to be loved
- I can store the minis rejected from my A&G frankenset mini binder until I can trade them to those who want them more.

Now that's a list I can appreciate.

I love my A&G frankenset mini binder. And I know I'll love the other mini binders as much as I love this one. I have the complete 2011 Topps Lineage '75 minis stored in their own mini binder and it's one of my most prized binders.

So that's what one box of tobacco-sized mini pages can do.

It can tidy up my card area, it can create peace of mind, I can sleep at night, the nightmares will go away, the endless rants during the day will cease, the neighbors will stop calling the police, all of that will end.

And ... most importantly ...

I can now use my money again to buy actual cards.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The helmet king

A post earlier today from Wrigley Wax got my attention. I am a sucker for helmets on baseball cards and even did a post a few years ago trying to figure out why I liked them so much.

WW dug up the first Topps card to show a Cubs player wearing a helmet. I suppose if you run a Cubs blog that's what you got to do. I was surprised that there wasn't a helmeted Cub before 1963 until I considered that helmets weren't made mandatory for all players until 1958 (and not strictly enforced until 1970), and helmets most often appeared during games, which Topps didn't regularly shoot until the '70s.

I quickly went through my collection to find the first Topps card of a Dodger wearing a helmet. I came up with 1962 Topps Larry Burright here, an extra careful chap, wearing a helmet while fielding grounders. I wasn't extra careful researching this though, so I'll have to double-check for the next helmet post.

That's right, the next helmet post. I told you I like helmets on cards.

But for now, it's still Ron Cey Week. And I'm happy to reveal that there was no more masterful helmet-wearer than The Penguin.

I've always known this. But when I did the research I was a bit amazed.

In virtually all of Cey's cards issued during his career, he is wearing a helmet. That's a little bit mind-blowing, considering players in helmets did not appear in the majority of cards issued during Cey's career. For example, in 1976, only four Dodgers are wearing helmets.

But I think Cey is the helmet king. After a couple of years sharing a rookie prospects card with two other dudes and wearing a cap, Cey makes his solo card debut with a helmet:

A majestic card, no doubt made more grand by that hint of helmet. (I must link to the fantastic Gummy Arts rendition of this card made on Cey's birthday).

From there, it was either helmet or no hat at all, dammit.

Not a cap to be found. That was just too, too cool for a Cey fan, and another contributor to why he was my favorite player. And, conversely, why helmets were so awesome.

But now Donruss and Fleer had arrived and how would they treat Cey's headwear?

Amazing. Still committed to the helmet.

Topps featured two cards of Cey in 1982 and he's showcasing the helmet in each one.

Then Donruss and Fleer rocked my world by showing the first cards of Ron Cey wearing a regular hat since 1973. These were the first cards of Cey that I pulled in which he was wearing a hat. That's a nine-year period!

So, now, Topps' eyes were opened and for its 1983 set it did something it had never done:

Cey is wearing a soft hat -- although Topps hedged its bets by including the inset photo of Cey in a helmet
 (the first time he is in a visible flap helmet).

It was a whole new world.

So what do Donruss and Fleer do?

Go back to the helmet!

That's a fine Topps trolling job, you two.

By 1984, Cey was a Cub, and really who cares anymore? But his trend toward helmets continued in Topps. He's wearing helmets on his 1984 and 1985 Topps cards and no hat at all on his 1986 and 1987 Topps cards. (In Donruss and Fleer it's a mix of helmets and caps).

The only time that Cey is wearing a soft hat on a Topps card during his career are on the 1972 and 1973 rookie prospects cards, 1983, and the 1987 Traded set (as an Oakland A). But there is not one time in Topps flagship that Cey is wearing a soft hat only -- the headwear the majority of players wore on cards at that time -- on a solo card.

That, to me, is amazing.

And Ron Cey is the helmet king.

Of course, it would take another similar research project to find someone who exceeds or matches that. And it can't be any player from the post-1980s because there are too many action shots from which to choose.

I may be up for that at some point, but more likely not.

I don't want anyone knocking the crown from Cey's head.

Or more accurately, the helmet.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

I'll take the vintage, please

Remember this card? I pulled it out of a repack box that I bought with a gift card just after the first of the year.

As nice as it is to say, "I have an autographed card of Hall of Famer John Smoltz," uttering that sentence rings a little hollow if you know I'm a Dodger fan. And with all of the Braves fans blogging about baseball cards, I knew this wouldn't stay in my house for long.

The card is still in my house. But that's only because I'm determining right now if I want to trudge through the newly fallen snow to the post office before I go to to work. It's in a mailer ready to go, destined for John at Johnny's Trading Spot.

John wanted this card quite a bit and we negotiated for awhile until he struck upon some possibilities obtained at a card show, or wherever he turns up his marvelous finds (I get the impression that everywhere in the south are street-side stands that sell sportscards). He turned up some finds that I was interested in and even featured them on his blog just for little ol' me.

I'll dispense with any more words and show the card that got me to give up Smoltzie.

I know you might be numb to this card because it's one of those cards that Topps repeatedly issues in reprint form. But this is the genuine article, a 1958 Topps Pee Wee Reese. It's his final Topps card and I believe the only one issued during his playing career that shows him listed with the L.A. Dodgers.

This was one of three remaining Dodgers I needed from the '58 set. The other two are named Drysdale and Koufax. So it was a no-brainer to claim this card for Smoltz.

I will take a vintage card in a deal almost every time. That doesn't mean more current cards don't interest me. It's just that if you want me to jump at what you're offering, vintage is likely to do it most often.

The Reese card actually has a crease through it from top to bottom, as John informed me before we made the trade. The crease is so faint that not only is it difficult to see in the scan but you have to hold it up to the light and ... oh, there it is!

That doesn't concern me at all. I make all kinds of condition exceptions for cards from the '50s and especially cards from the '50s of Dodger Hall of Famers.

There's the back. You can see the crease a little bit more on the reverse side. But I'm too busy staring at the cartoon of the boys playing marbles.

Still, I figured another card in the deal would smooth over the crease just fine.

It's a 1963 Post card of Dodgers '62 playoff goat Stan Williams. Post minded its manners and didn't mention Williams' bases-loaded walk to let the Giants into the 1962 World Series, but it's kind of implied in a rather devastating way:

"Stan had two good seasons -- 1960 ... and 1961 ..." Just two good seasons. Never mind that 1962 is the most recent one and is the year featured on the line of stats on the bottom. Ouch.

Meanwhile, I just love crossing off Post Dodger needs, there are so many of them.

John also threw in this gold parallel from 2015 Update. Still don't know how Guerrero feels about Yasiel Puig getting star billing on his card, but Guerrero's not a Dodger now so it doesn't matter.

I'm finishing this post a few hours later after I started it and I'm pleased to say that I did send the Smoltz autograph out this afternoon.

It's much better that a Braves fan has it.

And it's better that I have a '58 Pee Wee Reese card ... that I obtained for a card that I pulled while using a gift card bought on someone else's dime. So, basically, that I got for free. A '58 Pee Wee Reese card for free.

I can't complain about that at all.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The quintessential '70s ballplayer

If you were asked to come up with the quintessential 1970s ballplayer -- the one person who was the most typical example of a ballplayer from the '70s -- how would you go about determining that?

Perhaps you would narrow it down to players who spanned the entire "Me Decade". Maybe you would determine which players won the most titles during the '70s. Or maybe you'd break out the statistics and develop formulas that matched the average production of a '70s ballplayer, the propensity to gravitate to a team featuring baby blue road uniforms, or calculate the the collective size of hair length and mustache.

I didn't do any of that to figure out the quintessential '70s ballplayer.

Instead, I merely consulted some Hostess cards from that very decade.

Based on that Hostess research, there is one player among the three above that is a quintessential '70s ballplayer, and I hate to break it to you Carlton or Porter fans: that player is Ron Cey, Infield, Los Angeles Dodgers.

Today is Cey's 69th birthday. As you know, he is my favorite ballplayer of all-time, has been since 1975.

I show some bias when it comes to my favorite ballplayer and the '70s, so I might as well continue that for at least today. It's The Penguin's birthday. I need to show some respect.

So how did I let Hostess determine that Cey is a quintessential '70s ballplayer?

It's quite simple.

I determined all of the players to appear in every Hostess set, issued from 1975-79. That's five sets, so a quintessential '70s ballplayer should have five different Hostess cards (I'm not counting unissued proofs, Hostess fanatics).

Cey is one of those players to appear in all five sets.

There they all are, side-by-side.

I'll show them one at a time, too, so you can see them at a respectable size.






There you have it. The quintessential '70s ballplayer is a man of average height, who provides solid middle-of-the-lineup power, fields his position well, runs like a penguin and wears his blond hair long and mustachioed. He also happens to play for the Dodgers.

But that might be my bias coming through some.

Weren't there other players who appeared in every issue of Hostess?

Yep. There are 30 total.

Here are the players not named Cey that show up in all five Hostess sets:

1. Buddy Bell
2. Johnny Bench
3. Cesar Cedeno
4. Dave Concepcion
5. Bobby Grich
6. Mike Hargrove
7. Toby Harrah
8. Reggie Jackson
9. Dave Kingman
10. Davey Lopes
11. Greg Luzinski
12. Bill Madlock
13. Gary Matthews
14. Hal McRae
15. Joe Morgan
16. Thurman Munson
17. Phil Niekro
18. Jim Palmer
19. Gaylord Perry
20. Rick Reuschel
21. Pete Rose
22. Nolan Ryan
23. Mike Schmidt
24. Tom Seaver
26. Ted Simmons
27. Willie Stargell
28. Dave Winfield
29. Robin Yount

I love this list. 1975-79 is exactly when I was discovering Major League Baseball and its players. I hold great attachment for many of the players on that list. These guys may seem ancient and long ago to you, but to me they are young and at their peak.

Hostess did well covering the superstars of that time period -- Bench, Jackson, Rose, Seaver -- and they made sure to feature the upcoming stars, too -- Madlock, Winfield, Yount. But there are several big names that didn't make all five sets, names like Carew, Garvey and Brett.

Does that mean there are quintessential '70s players who didn't appear in all five Hostess sets?

Well, you won't hear that from me. Especially not on Cey's birthday.

After all, I'm still miffed that Kellogg's didn't feature Cey in every one of its sets for when he was playing. Just four?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

My continuity program

The business world has a way with creating phrases that sound more impressive than what they actually mean. Truthfully, all those words do is confuse me.

"Thinking outside the box," "scalability," "getting your ducks in a row." Ugh. The last few days I was struggling with the phrase "facilitating conversations." I actually had to do online research to figure out what it meant. I don't write like that and I certainly don't talk like that.

I was similarly confused when I received this chrome, 1987 Topps-tribute card of Clayton Kershaw from Rob, of the 1982 and 1988 set blogs. I don't exactly know what the hieroglyphics are in the background, but one confusion at a time please.

Turning over the card, I read the following:

"You have received a 1987 Topps Baseball Card from the 2017 Topps Baseball Hobby Continuity Program".

OK. Yay for me. But a couple of things.

First, I did not receive a 1987 Topps baseball card.

This is a 1987 Topps baseball card.

Secondly, while I'll admit I was intrigued by the "Topps Baseball Hobby Continuity Program," I had no idea what it was.

But I do know I was impressed. It sounded like a pretty ambitious and admirable project. Perhaps there was some longstanding program in place to get youngsters involved in baseball card collecting so that there would continue to be baseball card collectors for ages to come. You know, maintaining the continuity of baseball card collectors. Like building baseball fields in urban areas. That sounded great. I wondered what was involved and what they did. Maybe I'd look up this "continuity program."

Well I tried to look it up. But there really isn't any such program with mission statements and projects to attract youngsters into the hobby. At least there's nothing with "continuity" in the title.

"Continuity," when it comes to the hobby, seems to mean an insert set that runs through multiple series in a set. For example, the "Year In Review" insert in 2008 Topps was a "continuity program" because the cards appeared in Series 1, 2 and Update that year.

It seems odd to call something a "program" when it's merely an extended insert series. But that's the business world for you. How can we make it sound more impressive than it is?

Rob also sent me some regular old base Dodgers from 2017 Topps:

Some of these I had already, but most I didn't. I haven't had time to type up a 2017 Dodgers want list so I don't know what's left to get, besides the Howie Kendrick card.

But you can be sure a want list will show up, because I always have some form of allegiance to the base set.

I've been dedicated to it, more or less, since 1975. I suppose you could call buying packs and collecting cards my "continuity program" because it continues from one year to the next, from one decade to the next.

In fact, if anyone questions me in the future about my "childish habit of collecting baseball cards," I'll just respond with "it's my 'continuity program'."

That should impress the heck out of them.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Championship corralled

History is made today as I enshrine another card into the Cardboard Appreciation Hall of Fame.

It's been more than three years since a card first entered those hallowed, cardboard halls. The '71 Vida Blue card was the last one at the end of August, 2013.

Card #542 of the 1973 Topps set will now join the few honored to be elected. By the closest championship vote since Cardboard Appreciation Hall selection began, Pat Corrales of the San Diego Padres is the C.A. The Review 4 champion.

The final votes:

1973 Topps Pat Corrales, 37 votes
1970 Topps Jose Laboy, 35 votes

For a little while there I thought I was going to have to cast the deciding vote. The two cards were even for the first few days of voting before the Corrales card eventually pulled away. Then Laboy made a brief rally near the end but it wasn't enough. Corrales in the champion.

If I was required to cast the tiebreaker, I would have chosen the Corrales card. Although the Laboy is special for its vibrant beauty and quirkiness (there aren't many baseball cards with a red shopping cart featured), there are many bat-selection photos in 1970 Topps alone. The Corrales card is unique for the painful aftermath of a home plate collision. Sure, it's not cropped very well, but that's part of its charm.

To demonstrate how much this Cardboard Appreciation Hall of Famer stands out, I am taking a tour through Pat Corrales' other cards. They're no pushovers, but there is nothing like his '73 Topps card.

Let's begin:

Pat Corrales' rookie card may very well set the record for the most extreme neck crane for the benefit of a baseball card photographer. It's quite possible that ball has never come down.

This card is classic for its unintended commentary. Corrales was named Topps' top rookie catcher for the 1965 season even though he batted just .224 and struck out 42 times in 174 at-bats! Why Corrales is rolling his eyes at the very thought of receiving that Topps trophy!

The 1967 through 1971 Pat Corrales cards (he didn't appear in the '68 Topps set) chronicle a backup catcher's journey through his unheralded tasks of daily baseball. Corrales became a backup for young superstar Johnny Bench. The '71 Red Chest Protector card is a personal favorite.

In 1972, Corrales shockingly received two cards, a base card and an "in action" card. They are both super high numbers and not the easiest to acquire (please note my miscut gem). The "in action" card foreshadows Corrales' card greatness the very next year.

Fergie Jenkins runs over Corrales at the plate and is called out on June 14, 1972. A Hall of Fame card is born.

Corrales' final playing card isn't nearly as exciting as the previous year's edition. But you do get a nice look at the Padres' full-body gold uniforms from that time. I also believe this photo was taken at Wrigley Field, the site for the collision on his '73 card. Could this have been taken before his famous tag-out?

Corrales wouldn't appear in major sets again until he took a manager gig for the Texas Rangers. Topps wasn't issuing manager cards at the time, so you had to settle for a tiny mug shot on the team card.

This card is interesting to me because it also features the Rangers manager who was fired to make way for Corrales. Billy Hunter is in the center of the first row, sixth guy from the left.

Corrales' first individual card as a manager is in 1981 Fleer. This is probably the first visual confirmation I received that, yes, Pat Corrales is a manager for the Texas Rangers.

He bounced around managing jobs during the 1980s and became the only manager to be fired while his team was in first place when the Phillies let him go in 1983.

Then there were those days in Cleveland, particularly 1987 when Sports Illustrated announced the Indians as the team to beat heading into the spring. By June, the Indians were in last place and Corrales was on his way out of his last major league managing job.

(I thought it was interesting that Corrales went from the Phillies to the Indians while a later Phillies/Indians manager, Charlie Manuel, went from the Indians to the Phillies).

But Corrales was a lifer and took jobs in the minors and as a coach for decades.

He's now forever immortalized in the Cardboard Appreciation Hall of Fame, thanks to his violent play on cardboard.

Thanks everyone for voting and participating. I will add the Corrales card into the Hall of Fame tab when I get a moment, and then resume regular Cardboard Appreciation posts, no matter how infrequently they are read.

In fact, while the vote-off was taking place over these several weeks, I lined up my next four Cardboard Appreciation topics. And I'm pretty happy about that.