Monday, June 23, 2014

The spice of life

When I was a kid, my brother and a couple of friends of ours would pretend we were radio hosts. As kids from the '70s, the best way to do that was to use your parents' cassette recorder (the one with the carrying handle with the big buttons in the front). And to jazz up your recordings, every once in awhile we would record what we heard on the radio and mix it in with what we said.

The way we did this was to push the cassette recorder as close to the radio speaker as possible. We thought this was the height of innovation and we were quite proud of our work. We'd listen to those tapes over and over.

One time, one of us said something into the recorder and added "let's see what the man on the street has to say." Then we turned on the radio and recorded the first words we heard. Those words were "it's the spice of life."

That threw us into hysterics. Absolute hysterics. Imagine two boys and two girls, ranging from age 8 to 12, lying on the floor in convulsions of hilarity. Genius! We thought we were genius! We couldn't believe our good fortune, and we listened to the tape we recorded with "it's the spice of life" over and over. Very pleased with ourselves.

What the radio person probably was discussing when we so rudely interrupted him was "variety," as in "variety is the spice of life." You know the saying.

And it's true. It is the spice of life. I love variety. Why do you think my want lists are so varied?

Well, out of the blue, Eric sent me a package that is the very definition of variety in our hobby. Spice of life? You bet. Wait until you see it.

Almost as amazing as the package was the fact that I haven't heard from him since he sent me some cards to help me complete my 1976 Topps set almost five years ago. I'm so fortunate that he was thinking of me ... and still reading.

So, let's take a little tour through variety. I think you'll agree it's one of the most diverse packages you have ever seen.

I'll start with some oddballs.

These are 1974 Kellogg's 3D cards. I never had any Kellogg's cards of my own until 1977. But the first ones I ever saw were from '74, so these are filled with nostalgia.

Kellogg's cards were something else. They weren't like regular cards. They were special. Like holding something sparkly in your hand. The cards practically glowed when I looked at them as a kid.

Three cards from the phenomenal 1967 Topps set (go vote!). I have completed the '67 Dodgers set already, which means these will go toward my very unrealistic tangerine dream of a goal to complete this set.

This is a 1990 Pacific Legends card. Don Newcombe apparently wasn't enough of a legend for card companies to avoid misspelling his name.

I surely do appreciate this card. I had no idea there was a Dodger featured in the 1968 league leaders. For years I walked around all smug because my '68 Topps Dodger set was complete.

Notice how all the players on this card are creased except for Claude Osteen. I kind of like that.

Here is where it gets extra spicy.

This is a card from the 1965 Freddie and the Dreamers set. It's awesome. Bring back music cards.

If you don't know Freddie and the Dreamers, it was a British Invasion band of the 1960s, who's biggest U.S. hit was "I'm Telling You Now." If you clicked on the link, you probably saw the lead singer doing all kinds of goofy dances. That was their thing.

Those are a couple more. Eric sent me a few others, too.

I'm not going to act like I'm the only one who likes music, but you're coming to the right place if you send me music trading cards.

How's this for variety?

That's a ticket from the first time the Dodgers ever visited Fenway Park for an interleague game. June 11, 2004. Sadly, the Red Sox won.

OK, back to cards.

This is a Red Man tobacco card from 1954, I believe. I'll pin it down when I have a minute. It's pretty cool. I love cards of Carl Erskine.

Not done with the Dodger pitcher awesomeness.

This is my favorite item out of the package. This was one of my favorite pitchers when I was a kid and this was my favorite card of him. And Eric got it autographed in a TTM try.

That is fantastic. I have no other words for that.

But it's not the coolest because this:

Eric sent the hand-signed note!

You're welcome, Andy, but I didn't do a thing.

We're veering into magazines in this spice-laden package. Trust me, this will lead to something terrific. Not that a September 1955 Baseball Digest featuring Newk isn't terrific enough.

This one I remember. We had this very magazine in our home as my brother had a subscription to Baseball Digest. I probably read every word in this one and I'll do it again.

This reminds me that Baseball Digest wouldn't feature anything about the preceding year's World Series until January. So if you didn't catch the newspaper or the game on TV (which was on too late for us tykes), you had to wait until January to get your fancy Series pictures.

Oh, and this.

Practically every magazine ad issued in the '70s looked like this. It's a miracle I'm not smoking four packs a day.

I remember reading this one, too. It was a treat to see a player from your team on the cover of Baseball Digest. Between BD, Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News, I actively rooted for a Dodger to appear on one of them. It happened so seldom!

(By the way, these Baseball Digests give me a post idea. You'll see it some day).

This Garvey magazine is an excellent lead in to this, also from Eric:

That's a snapshot of Steve Garvey before a spring training game at Vero Beach, Fla. You'll notice that Garvey is wearing a green cap because it's St. Patrick's Day.

We'll see another Garvey photo in a moment, but first this:

That's Toni Tennille from "The Captain and ..." fame. Eric said she sang the National Anthem before the game that day, and then apparently went jogging, I guess? (Toni and Alyssa's tops kind of match).

Look, it's REGGIE!

Eric didn't tell me anything about this photo. What I really want to know is what he's drinking. Is that Dr. Pepper? Tab? The '70s were so tremendous.

OK, back to Garvey and his green cap.

Eric said he was signing for his grandmother and uncle.

What was he signing?


That was the program issued that day in 1979.

Here is a closer look at Garvey's signature:

That is so cool I'm not even going to mention that the program cover is all about my favorite player, Ron Cey.

I can't actually complain if Popeye signed the Penguin's program.

Eric also sent several other Dodgers and oddballs that I will definitely enjoy.

I surely appreciate him sharing these memories with me. That means a lot to me as a blog writer. Steve Garvey, Reggie Jackson, Andy Messersmith, Toni Tennille and Kellogg's are part of my memories, too, and I'll be sure to value these in that spirit.

And, of course, for the variety.

I would pull out my cassette recorder and hold it up the radio and wait for the right words to tell you how grateful I am.

But I think the blog does a better job.


  1. The Fenway ticket stub is a great piece. The Redman is a 54. The 58 Hires Rootbeer Snyder is no joke. They are very tough to find... Great package

    1. The Snider isn't a '58 Hires. It's Bowman Heritage from 2004 or whenever, done in style of Hires.

  2. Scattered thoughts:

    Those are some awesome snapshots!

    I knew some kids who smoked in the 1970's, and none of them had a hot girlfriend in suspenders. Maybe they should've smoked Camels.

    As a Mets fan, I can't help but wonder how many of those "20 worst trades of the Seventies!" Baseball Digest is highlighting involved my team. At least Seaver and Ryan, I'd have to think. Maybe Rusty Staub, Jerry Koosman, Jon Matlack...

    Freddie And The Dreamers look like a bunch of dorks... but in a good way. Maybe I should go back and give them another listen.

    That Diego Segui is a Seattle Pilots card I don't already have! On to the wantlist it goes...

  3. I should start picking up some of those '70s baseball magazines. I always see them at shows, but never pull the trigger.

  4. Loved the story about the radio! My brother, a family friend and I used to do something similar as kids, and this brought back wonderful memories!

  5. That's a spicy meatball of a package. So much fun. I especially dig the Erskine. And you know I feel connected to those Garvey green-cap snapshots. So cool.

    1. Oh, and my best friend and I also did the ol' tape recorder radio gig. Still have 'em. In fact we digitized them about ten years ago for future generations to ponder in confusion. One of our favorite gags was writing up an interview to do with my Grandma, then splicing in different wacky questions to match up with her answers. When Mt. St. Helans erupted, people were apparently going crazy for collecting ash from the fallout. We got a good five minutes of my Grandma saying things like, "People will pay a lot for a piece of ash." Priceless.

    2. Hahaha! Now, THAT is funny!

  6. The Messersmith autographs are wonderful. He no longer signs under any circumstances, so those are even nicer than Toni Tennille in a tanktop.

  7. I don't know what Reggie is drinking but what that picture made me think of is soda/beer tabs. It has one of those old style tops that you had to pull all the way off the can. You used to see them on the ground everywhere. Even years after they stopped making them I remember randomly seeing them at a park or at the river. So, as I'm looking at that Reggie picture I'm thinking, "I can't remember the last time I saw a old style pop top on the ground".

  8. Freddie and the Dreamers reminded me of those old photos of people down in the tube stations during the London blitz.

  9. Love the old issues of Baseball Digest. They're so informative. It's easily in my top 5 favorite magazines of all-time.