Monday, August 14, 2017

It only took 40 years

This particular magazine issue evokes one particular memory.

I am 12. I am seated in the back seat of the family station wagon. Right side. In my lap is an issue of Baseball Quarterly magazine, a new publication dedicated to baseball only and absolutely the coolest thing to read at that point in time.

We are going to my grandmother's house, about 15 miles away. We did that a lot on the weekend. But because I was now 12, going to grandma's wasn't as interesting as it had been. My grandpa had recently passed and he was the one who watched all the Mets games. My grandmother had tried to keep her back room stocked with items three boys would want to read. But we had been there so much that we had read most of them.

But Baseball Quarterly was new. It would keep me interested and, most importantly, keep me away from whatever Adult Conversation was going on in the living room. (I don't remember which issue I was reading in the back seat, but it was probably the one with Rod Carew on the front as that was issued in the spring of 1978).

As the station wagon hits the road, I turn the pages, and then I see it:

It's an advertisement for the magazine, one of those "don't miss a single issue!" ads. And pictured in the ad is the previous issue, the issue above, with Ron Cey on the cover.

Damn, I wanted that issue.

I've written about this before. I beat myself up about not subscribing to the magazine until after the Cey issue came out. What a genius I am! The Dodgers finally get some publicity out east -- my favorite player gets on the cover -- and I'm reading about a Minnesota Twin.

In that previous post that I linked, I mentioned that I've wanted that Cey issue ever since that moment in the car. And I've known it could be easily purchased on ebay for a long time. But I just never bought it.

Turns out I was waiting for someone to send it to me for free!

Fred, a reader from way up in New Brunswick for crying out loud, sent me the magazine along with a few other goodies that he said needed a better home.

He couldn't have found a better one.

I know there is not one single person in this world who has wanted this magazine issue for so long. And Fred sent it precisely 40 years after it would be arriving in people's homes in 1977! (Exactly how long is 40 years? Check out what they're using to interview Cey!)

I took a few snapshots of the inside of the magazine and will go through them quickly.

The big selling point of Baseball Quarterly, besides the fact that it was all about baseball, was that it featured full-color photographs, something that the other baseball-only publication at the time, Baseball Digest, couldn't do.

But this particular issue -- the third issue of Baseball Quarterly ever -- contained just two full color photos inside, this Yaz photo on the front inside cover ...

And this photo of Mickey Rivers on the back inside cover.

Baseball Quarterly -- which would later drop the "Quarterly" when it started publishing six times a year in 1979 -- would add more color photos in later issues.

Here is the prevalent Renata Galasso ad that appeared in almost every baseball publication at the time. You want 1,000 1977 Topps cards for $7.99? Gotta build a time machine and set the dial for 1977.

Since a complete Topps set was 660 cards at the time, I always wondered what the other 330 cards were. I see they were throwing in the 1976 Topps Traded set, but that was only 44 cards. Perhaps some Galasso Greats?

Some heavy hitters behind this magazine.

Book reviews! Included is a review of one of my all-time favorite baseball books, Roger Angell's Five Seasons. I can't wait to read this.

And now the moment 40 years in the obtaining: the cover story, by Abby Mendelson, a Pittsburgh-based writer who covered the Steelers during their glory days.

I'll probably read the whole story this evening.

Each Baseball Quarterly magazine contained a poster as that was the thing to do in the 1970s. The early posters were not in color but the later ones were, I owned the Steve Garvey color poster.

This issue's poster is:

The Bird!

Yes, I know it's sideways. Turn your phone sideways, I'm not shrinking down a beauteous collage like this.

The poster was produced to commemorate Mark Fidrych's return to the field in 1977 after encountering the first of his many arm difficulties.

Today also happens to be the late Fidrych's birthday. He would have been 63 today. We all miss you, Bird.

The profiles in this issue run the gamut from historical -- Connie Mack and Tommy Henrich -- to the latest. And there's also a story on both: comparing the Indians' Dennis Eckersley with a Clevelander of the past, Stan Coveleski.

Here is an ad for the 1976 SSPC set. Just about all of the ads in the publication are either for baseball cards or baseball books. This was a real baseball lovers publication. I don't remember whether the magazine ever received major sponsors, which is probably why it went under in the very early '80s.

Fred also sent a couple of other publications along:

A program from the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier.

And a commemorative glossy publication full of Dodger goodness. I can't wait to read this, too.

For those of you wondering whether this has become a periodical blog, Fred did think about you:

Here is my first autographed card of the current Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. That is one special autographed card, check out that face.

Here is a comical buyback of a 1989 Topps card.

And here is my 180th 1975 Topps buyback!

I know I mentioned I had 175 of them recently but I recalculated I actually have 180!!!

This was quite the varied package and hit a home run with just about every item.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to find a station wagon and see if I can get in the back seat to read my Ron Cey Baseball Quarterly.


  1. Glad to see you enjoyed what I sent. Took me a while to find the Mark Fidrych insert poster. I knew I had it somewhere in all the baseball clutter I have.That is good clutter by the way.
    On the day in Dodger Stadium for the game on April 15/2007 I got to shake Maury Wills hand as my wife and I were going to our seats. He was on his way to the field for the pregame festivities.Took a few minutes to talk with me.
    Anyway, enough rambling. As always a great post. Glad I hit a home run.

  2. Awesome!!! Btw, Mickey Rivers always had the best quotes.

  3. 914 area code means this was a fairly local publication. It was our area code until 2000, but they ran out of numbers and gave us a new one. SSPC, when based in peekskill, would also have been 914. Perhaps there is a connection.

  4. Talk about patience, lol. Now I have that song in my head, dang it.

  5. The 1000 cards sounds to me like they're talking about vending boxes. So it would be two vending boxes for $7.99 or a whole case of 24 for $75. I think the traded set was thrown in as an extra, not part of the 1000 cards.

    1. Galasso ran that same ad, updating the year offered, through most of the 80s in Baseball Digest. Always both honked me off and made me drool that the grainy photo actually showed 1975 Topps cards rather than the year offered. Who wouldn't pay a pittance for 1000 '75s?! Wonderful post.

  6. It's odd that I don't remember Baseball Quarterly, given that in 1977 I bought pretty much any baseball magazine I ran across. This looks pretty cool, I wouldn't mind flipping through something like this.

    If you didn't recognize the stands behind Cey, the WHN microphone gives it away as Shea Stadium. WHN had broadcast them Mets at one time, and at the time of this magazine they were the one and only country music station in New York City.

    I'm drooling over the Stan Martucci ad more than the Renata Galasso ad. Given that Staten Island is largely residential, I looked up 44 Dewhurst Street on Google Maps, and sure enough, Stan ran the business out of his house. I wonder if the Martucci's still live there. OK, I'm done rambling now.

  7. One of my favorite things about looking through older magazines is checking out the ads. But with this particular issue... the Fidrych poster takes the cake. I'm tempted to purchase a copy just so I can get a copy for my office walls.

  8. Who is baseball third greatest pitcher, and why can't he get in the hall of fame?

    1. I was wondering that myself. Inquiring minds want to know!

    2. Addie Joss. He couldn't get in the Hall of Fame because his career didn't meet the 10-year mininum. But the Hall waived that rule for him and he actually made the Hall the year after the story came out.