Friday, December 4, 2015
Ugh, now I have to find pages (a '56 of the Month post)
This is Bob Nelson.
He was one of the bonus babies of the 1950s, signed for a big bunch of money and then forced onto a major league roster before he was ready.
His high school career was legendary. He so dominated pitchers that he was nicknamed "the Babe Ruth of Texas." He apparently was so good of a high school player, in fact, that he gets two nicknames. His baseball-reference page says Nelson's nickname is "Babe," but you can't find Nelson by searching for "Bob Nelson," because he's listed under "Tex Nelson."
That's a man with 25 career major league hits and two nicknames.
Nelson was hardly a man, though, when he played with the Orioles in 1955. Teammates noticed that the 18-year-old was overmatched. In a book detailing the mistakes made during the bonus baby era, former teammates like Chuck Diering and Wayne Causey said Nelson was a nice kid, who hit the crap out of the ball in batting practice, but just didn't have it in him to succeed at the major league level. He didn't have the toughness, he didn't have the head for it.
All of those high school accolades didn't matter a wit anymore. Babe/Tex Nelson eventually did find the minor leagues two years later in 1957. And he never made it back to the majors, playing in the minor leagues until 1961.
Twenty years later, I saw this card for the first time when it was one of the cards selected out of the grocery bag of '50s cards gifted to me and my brothers by my dad's co-worker.
I didn't know Nelson's background at all. Never heard of him. And there wasn't much to his stats. I remember being alarmed by Nelson's pock-marked face. As a teenager, it was a sore subject. I had no idea that who I was looking at was a teenager himself.
I'm showing this card because it's one of the 1956 Topps cards sent to me recently by Commish Bob of The Five Tool Collector. Of course, he's an Orioles fan, so I have to show an Orioles card.
Here are some of the other '56s he sent:
And here are a couple more that didn't fit with the others:
Most of these fit just fine in my '56 set quest. A couple I will probably upgrade.
But right now, the main mission -- the overriding feeling I have while writing this post -- is I really, really, really, really, really have to find some pages for these things.
As you know, '56s don't fit in customary 9-pocket pages. You have to find 8-pocket pages. They're not rare or anything, they're just not available at your friendly neighborhood big-box store. You have to order them online. And if you know anything about me and ordering things online, I prefer all of my online hobby purchases to be CARDS.
As I've said many times, shopping for pages and binders is like shopping for socks and underwear -- necessities but a complete party-pooper of an activity. I can't get myself to buy them (the pages, not the underwear) for anything. I'm currently wrapping up two weeks of vacation and do you think I could've spent 20 minutes of that vacation ordering some 8-pocket pages?
I also don't like seeing '56 cards stacked out in the open. These aren't regular cards you know.
So in a few days I'll resign myself to ordering a few more 8-pocket pages.
The sacrifices we set-collectors make.