Monday, December 10, 2018

Forgotten


Two more players were voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame yesterday. As someone who grew up watching baseball in the 1980s when Harold Baines and Lee Smith did most of their hitting and pitching, neither impressed me as Hall of Fame quality.

That doesn't mean I'm not happy they've been voted into the Hall. I don't think it's "embarrassing" or "a joke" that each were selected. The Hall is already full of players who if they were voted in today would stupefy the social media babblers.

Both Baines and Smith obviously enjoyed long and successful careers (both do seem like they're being rewarded for longevity). And I've evolved in my thinking about the Hall

At first, I thought the restrictions on Hall voting were good; it should be difficult to be inducted. Then I thought the restrictions on Hall voting were bad: it's just a ploy to get people talking about the Hall and deserving players are facing a logjam. But now that the Hall is basically a free-for-all -- Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds are not in the Hall of Fame and Harold Baines is -- and the definition of what makes a "Hall of Famer" is as vague and subjective as it has ever been, I'm just happy that good players from the past are being recognized. I'd prefer focusing on that. Maybe Ron Cey will squeeze in someday.

What does annoy me, however, is the many times I heard and read that Baines' and Smith's selections were "long overdue." OK, if Baines and Smith were long overdue to get into the Hall of Fame, what's that make Gil Hodges, someone who died before either of those two put on a major league uniform?

Gil Hodges is still not in the Hall of Fame.

Gil Hodges, who drove in at least 100 runs in a season seven straight years (Baines had three his entire career), hit more than 20 home runs in a season 11 straight years, averaged 29 HRs and 100 RBIs and a .487 slugging for his career, is still not in the Hall of Fame.

Gil Hodges, who was manager of one of the most shocking World Series championship wins in history, is still not in the Hall of Fame.

Gil Hodges, a legendary World Series player -- check out his 1953 and 1959 Series numbers -- and two-time World Series champion, is not in the Hall of Fame.

Gil Hodges, a Boy of Summer, mentioned in the same breath as Robinson, Snider, Reese and Campanella is still not in the Hall of Fame.


Second guy from the left is still not in the Hall of Fame (Furillo isn't either, but one guy at a time).

I've been annoyed for quite awhile that Hodges has been overlooked for so long, but I've been low-key about it just because I've always assumed that every deserving player will get their due. My long-held belief was then shaken by the steroid years and it is shaken further by the recent vote.

When Baines and Smith were announced, folks immediately rejoiced or recoiled. And all of the names that immediately came out of their mouths made me sad. "Well, this opens the door for Dale Murphy." "Larry Walker still isn't in." "Fred McGriff's time is coming." "Edgar Martinez is a shoo-in now." Even players from my era, who I am happy to hear have some new hope, like Ted Simmons, were mentioned.

Yet, nobody mentioned Gil Hodges.

He's forgotten.

How can a guy who dominated an entire decade like that be forgotten?

I have more than 60 cards of Gil Hodges. I've been lucky in that I have quite a few of his 1950s cards. Perhaps that's why he's so lightly regarded. Many of his cards aren't that difficult to find.


Still, I've paid a pretty penny for some of them, and still they're gorgeous.

What I found when looking through my Hodges cards is how great they seem to think he is.


He's an All-Time Dodger.


He's one of baseball's greatest sluggers.



He's one of the Greats.


He was part of a Super Team.



And he's a Legend of New York.

Hell, Hodges should be in the Hall of Fame for this card alone.

Hodges' cards -- the sheer variety -- speak to the respect that historians of the game held and hold for him.


Hodges is in a variety of TCMA Greatest Teams sets through the 1970s and 1980s.



This is the first Gil Hodges card I ever owned. It's from TCMA's 1975 Dodgers' All-Time Team. Gil Hodges is the first baseman on that team. THE GREATEST FIRST BASEMAN OF ALL-TIME FOR A TEAM THAT'S BEEN AROUND SINCE 1890.

Not in the Hall of Fame.


Hodges' exploits are so well-known and numerous that he's appeared on various moment-in-time cards, like this World Series card.


And this NuScoops card. Four Home Runs in a Nite Game, you guys. Let's get this guy a plaque.



Hodges has shown up on cards that feature just his first name.



He's shown up on cards with the team initials painted on his cap.



He's appeared on combo cards.



He's appeared with the peristyle architecture of the Los Angeles Coliseum behind him. How many Hall of Famers can say that?


He's appeared on mini cards and shown up hatless and inside a giant wood-framed television set.


He's also on the only porcelain card in my collection. PORCELAIN! Get this guy in the Hall!



Plus, there are the manager cards (I'm still kicking myself for trading away his 1969 Topps card). Hodges was the rare major leaguer who won a championship as a player and a manager. He's one of just 20 people to do that and one of the most talented, too.



I'm not fond of Hall of Fame debates. To me, they're too much like political arguments or discussions about the weather. It's a lot of talk about nothing and no one is getting anywhere. Save it for talk radio. I don't listen to that either.

But I do believe people should get their due and the longer it goes and the more that people talk about some dude from the 1980s waiting a long time, I can't help but worry that everyone has forgotten about somebody who was probably better than most of the players in the '80s.

The Hall of Fame does have a Golden Days Committee that considers players from 1950-1969. They will meet in 2020 to determine if anyone from that period is deserving to reach the Hall (Maury Wills would be in this group, too). If Hodges doesn't make it then, he won't get another chance until 2025 because the committee meets just every five years.

I don't even want to think about who will fly into the Hall during those future years when Hodges is STILL waiting.

Congrats to Harold Baines and Lee Smith. I'm not much for Chicago sports but I'm sure it was a big day there yesterday. Yet, waiting 15 years or whatever it was -- both Baines and Smith finished their careers in the late '90s/early '00s -- is not a long time or "long overdue."

Hodges ended his career 55 years ago. His managing career ended and he died 46 years ago.

He is still waiting.

THAT is long overdue.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Struggles


The posts aren't coming easily lately.

With the time constraints that often arrive at this time of year, plus a few new editions to the list of time-suckers (my blog reading is way down), I basically have one shot on an idea for a post. If that idea falls through, then there's no time for a backup post. This means I should have some posts ready-made in advance, but I don't like doing that. I want to be present in the hobby, here and now, as often as possible.

Today's challenge was figuring out what my favorite card of 2018 was, per P-Town Tom's contest.

I searched through my pretty mediocre 2018 acquisitions and came up with zip. I kept finding cool cards and then I saw each time that the card was created in 2017. This happens because I'm usually behind when acquiring cards from a given year. Many of my best 2018 cards will be acquired in 2019. This is how I keep costs down and keep my sanity from running out by avoiding the feeding frenzy.

So, anyway, I still don't know what my favorite 2018 card is. The good news is the contest runs until Jan. 7, so there's still plenty of time for someone to shower me with fascinating 2018 cards for the holidays!

In the meantime, all I've got for you are cards I like better than 2018 cards: they are old cards from off my want lists.

I received some 1993 and 1994 Ted Williams Company cards from mr haverkamp that whittle down my base set wants for each set to a mere three cards apiece.

Here are the '93 needs crossed off the ol' lists:



Beauties. Start making some 2018 licensed cards of Don Drysdale and I'll come up with my favorite 2018 card in no time.

The Negro Leagues card of Bullet Rogan at the top of the post came off my '94 TWC want list.

Here are the rest of the needed '94s:





That Ted Williams card is a looker. That checklist card is not.

The colorization on the '94 TWC cards does not seem right, but I will not complain about an Ed Collins card. The guy was playing in 1910!


Noted Mike Schmidt card collector mr haverkamp provided a spare 1981 Fleer Schmidty for my set collection quest. That set is down to seven cards to go.

Another one of the reasons I'm having troubles finding my favorite 2018 card is I pretty much shut down on buying 2018 product around about June or July to focus on older cards, so the selection is pretty weak.

But I am not giving up. Before January 7, you will see my favorite 2018 card. Even if I have to rip up a Ryan Braun card and glue it back together, I will produce a favorite from this humdrum card year.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Take two


I wanted to write about the 1983 Topps glossy send-ins because I had recently decided I need to complete the 40-card set.

So last night after work (and driving through a foot of snow), I wrote up a whole post on my love for the very first of the glossy send-in sets and just before hitting "publish," realized that I had basically written the entire post seven years ago.

Ugh.

Well, the cards are scanned already, now what?

My curiosity is always buzzing so it wouldn't allow me to let go of the 1983 glossies that easily. I looked at the ones that I owned -- all of them obtained back in 1983 from sending in those "runs" cards that allowed you to pick a group of five glossy cards. I wondered if I could figure out which groups I ordered back then and why.

I have 19 of the cards, which is interesting because there were eight groups of five cards each for 40 cards. Nineteen cards means I ordered my five cards four separate times, but somehow lost one of the cards. How'd that happen?

Fortunately, the numbered checklist pointed it out for me.

The first group in the checklist contains Carl Yastrzemski, Mookie Wilson, Andre Thornton, Keith Hernandez and Robin Yount.


I have just four from that group, Wilson, Thornton, Hernandez and Yount.

That means Yaz is missing. Why is Yaz missing?

I took an online peak at the Yaz '83 glossy. It didn't look familiar at all. That probably means only one thing: I had traded it immediately to my brother upon receiving the five cards in the mail from Topps.

This was the rule of law in our house among my brothers and I. If we were to obtain a card of a player from the others' favorite team, we MUST trade it to that brother. Yaz was as good as gone when I ordered the five-card group.

So, which other groups did I order?


I ordered the second group, cards 6 through 10.

This is likely the first group that I ordered, as soon as I accumulated the "25 runs" I needed, because of the Fernando Valenzuela card. I don't remember actually receiving this card, but I'm sure it was a treat.

The next two groups I skipped. The third group, cards 11-15 contain Rich Gossage, Bob Horner, Toby Harrah, Pete Rose and Cecil Cooper. Even with the childhood favorites of Harrah and Cooper there was no need to choose that one. The fourth group, cards 16-20, featured Dale Murphy, Carlton Fisk, Ray Knight, Jim Palmer and Gary Carter. That is a lot of star power, but I ignored it. Nothing there fit in my collection.

The fifth group, meanwhile, contained another Dodger, and I'm assuming I snapped up this one next.


This selection, of cards 21-25, may be the lightest on star power but when I see a Dodger, nothing else matters. Sure I'll add a Mariner and a Blue Jay. DUSTY!

This also explains why I skipped the sixth group, cards 26-30, which is packed with key players and now I need them all. Those fellows are: Bill Madlock, Lance Parrish, Nolan Ryan, Rod Carew and Al Oliver. Bummer.

I did order the seventh group, cards 31-35. It contains no Dodgers. It doesn't contain any cards from my brothers' favorite teams either.


My guess is I ordered this one because George Brett was a favorite and also it contained two young stars from that period, Rickey Henderson and Kent Hrbek. The other two, both from teams I disliked quite a bit at the time, came along for the ride.

The eighth-and-final group that I skipped also contains a number of notables. In cards No. 36-40 you'll find Steve Carlton, Eddie Murray, Ruppert Jones, Reggie Jackson and Bruce Sutter. Four Hall of Famers, that's all. Sheesh, why didn't I pick that one?

So maybe I didn't do the best with my send-in selections, but it served my collecting needs all the way up until now when I'm looking to complete the set.

This set won't be tough to complete. Each of the missing cards are around a dollar apiece. This would've surprised me way back in 1983 because sending away for cards that you couldn't find anywhere else seemed pretty exclusive at the time (then again, a dollar per card would've sounded enormous).

Anyway, here is how the cards were grouped together in checklist form:


I don't remember seeing this checklist. And neither version of the fronts are familiar:


The Ron Cey collecting box! There's that obvious Penguin swing.

So that's a lot of digging into something that is of interest to only me. But at least it got me to put up a 1983 Topps glossy send-in want list on my main want list page.

To me, this is the only glossy send-in set that matters. The ones that came after, with the green borders and orange borders and blue borders and especially those that you didn't send away for but appeared in rack packs, just don't seem as special as the yellow-bordered beauties.

I mean if I can write about them in two separate posts seven years apart with the same amount of passion, they must be special. Either that or they're so forgettable that I can't remember writing about them the first time.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Ugly \'əg-lē\

Against my better judgment I am entering Baseball Every Night's "Ugly Sweater/Ugly Baseball Card" contest.

It's not that I'm afraid of branding a baseball card ugly. I've done that many times on this blog. I even dedicated an entire post to what I thought were the ugliest baseball card sets at the time (Peter will happy to know that 1995 Fleer wound up first).

It's just that "ugly" comes in many forms. How do I decide which ugly?

I figured I'd let the dictionary help me arrive at a conclusion. As you know, a dictionary is incapable of settling on one definition of a word. It has to give you several options. By this means, I can address several different kinds of ugly before making a decision and delivering the final, devastating Ugliest blow.

For my dictionary of choice, I chose my red-covered, hard-bound Webster's ninth collegiate edition dictionary, published in 1983. This is your average, hefty, all-you-could-ever-need dictionary that was prevalent on every desk shelf before the internet thought it could explain words better but instead you're left with several confusing options and definitions, half of which you suspect have been arrived at by 30-somethings nostalgic for the days of Limp Bizkit's "Nookie" violating everyone's ear space.

No, this is better:


I'll go with each definition and try to find an appropriately ugly card.

1. Frightful, Dire


In 2009, Upper Deck's Goudey set, which had been a perfectly fine representation of the popular '30s cards, underwent a soul-extraction. That's the only way I can explain the cards. There is no better example of that phenomenon than the soul-less and downright creepy (and, yes, frightful) Dave Concepcion card. I don't even want to look at his eyes for too long. There is nothing in them. The card has freaked me out for years and it is ugly.

2. a) Offensive to the sight: hideous; b) offensive or unpleasing to any sense


There is just one set that causes me to react in a way that is remotely similar to encountering maggots at the bottom of a garbage can and that is 1992 Donruss. I really can't explain why I feel that way. I tried to in a post a few years ago, but I have a feeling it's deeply personal and even may not be able to be explained with a trip to the psychiatrist. Just know that I definitely find it hideous and unpleasant to all my senses.

3. Morally offensive or objectionable: repulsive


It's difficult for me to find baseball cards morally offensive or objectionable. I suppose there are some cards where the person on them causes me concern that I own their cards. O.J. Simpson for one. Here is another. Ugueth Urbina served seven years in prison for attempted murder. That's ugly. I have just one or two of his cards. Not thrilled about it.

4. a) Likely to cause inconvenience or discomfort (the "ugly" truth)


I loathe this card for its discomforting ugliness. Not only is it the Giants celebrating a third World Series title, closing off one of the darkest eras of baseball history, but they are doing so in front of a mass of hopeful Royals fans. The K.C. fan base is one, for me, that can do virtually no harm. They are cuddly poochie dogs. (Those who might not think so are probably fans of the Cardinals or Yankees, and they don't count for obvious reasons). This is inordinately sad and almost cruel. It's one of the ugliest moments I can find on a baseball card.

4. b) Surly, quarrelsome (an "ugly" drunk)


Madison Bumgarner's behavior on the field is ugly. Surly is a particularly apt description for the way he mopes around the mound making sure everyone on the field is acting to his particular standards.


So, this is where my dictionary's ugly definitions run out. But I still have some more ugly cards as I travel toward the ugliest.


1990 Topps is a popular choice among the Ugliest Sets. I can't argue with a card like this, in which lime green clashes with burnt orange clashes with magenta clashes with Roger McDowell's goofiness. But I've come around on 1990 Topps a lot, especially since its connection to artist Roy Lichtenstein and comic books in general was made.



In terms of an ugly card creation, it doesn't get much worse than 1977 Topps' Rick Jones. This re-creation of what was surely a black-and-white picture in a publication is one of the weirdest, strangest happenings in all of 1970s card lore. I happen to think it's so ugly and bizarre that it's wonderful, so I would never seriously enter it under an Ugly category.


Another entry under ugly's first definition: "frightful." This card doesn't seem so alarming looking at it under the light of day. But if I woke up out of a deep sleep, so deep that I didn't know what day it was or even where I was. and this card blown up poster-size and hanging on the wall was the first thing I saw? Well, that would be so dire I would probably have a heart attack on the spot.

This card is probably the most appropriate lead-in to my official entry in the Ugly Sweater Card Contest, what I find the ugliest card in all of my collection:


This very definition of the word "grotesque" is card No. 14 from the 1995 Comic Images Phil Rizzuto's Baseball: National Pastimes set (that's a mouthful). It features a number of baseball-related pictures from long ago, including this bean-bag game from the 1880s that probably scared the crap out of any kid who was handed a bag and asked to throw it at the beast. Just horrifying.

The card is also chromed-up which makes it look even more scary. I sure do feel sorry for children in the 1880s.

So, that's a look at some frightful, hideous, offensive, discomforting cards.

And, for what it's worth, that Limp Bizkit song is ugly, too.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Special delivery


Just to set the scene, there is no one in my neighborhood, not on my street, not on the streets nearby, not on the streets a mile-and-a-half from me that knows I collect cards.

So when I found a box with no writing on it on my porch a couple weeks ago, a box that is just the kind that would house cards, I was a bit perplexed. What could it be? And if this is cards, who in the world around here knows that I collect cards?

The mystery didn't last long though. I had been conversing in emails with Jeff (who goes by turrdog on the blogs) about a trade. I also knew that Jeff has relatives up my way and often comes to my deserted outpost at this time of year to hunt.

This is a popular reason for people making trips to where I live. Probably the top reason. In order it is to:

1. Hunt
2. Fish
3. Boat
4. Hike

I think that's the whole list. Since I don't do any of those things, why in the world am I here? I don't know. I've been asking myself that question for more than 25 years.

But thank goodness a card collector does some of those things because I received a little care package on my front porch, not delivered by a mail carrier who gets paid or anything. It was actual to-your-door service. It was like a tin of Christmas cookies but even better!

The box of cards covered a range of my collecting interests. A decent swath were oddball Dodgers from the 1980s. This is well-known territory for me. Plenty of fun, but I have a lot of them. Fortunately, Jeff sent a bunch so a few things stuck. One is the '83 Topps glossy send-in card of Fernando up top. That will go to my '83 glossy completion project, officially announced right here today.


These were the other odd needs. Somehow that '87 Pedro Guerrero Sportflics card has snuck past me all these years. The Fernando looks a lot like another oddball issued in 1987, but that one doesn't feature a True Value logo.



How about this pesky overproduction era set?

Jeff sent all but a couple of the 1993 Stadium Club Team Set Dodgers cards, something that doesn't come along often in trade packages. One of the cards he didn't send that I have already is the Mike Piazza card. I had to look up the now one lone missing card. Of course, it's Pedro. (No, not Astacio, silly).



Here are two final-series 1973 Topps needs from the box on my porch!

That Del Crandall card has a lot of problems, but I don't care in the least. It's crossed off the list!


And so are these!

Most of these have boxes filled on the back, which I would replace in other sets, but not for 1973 Topps. It's not a set I ever collected as a kid. Those marked backs work just fine. The real attraction to these cards are all the signatures on the front! William Joseph Buckner!!!!

The rest of the box -- a little more than half in fact -- contained my main football card mission and that is 1977 Topps.


I love getting these cards.

This assortment was chock full of some of the great football looks from this time period. I don't think any sport beats football for plain bizarre appearances on vintage cards. Take a peak at a few of these.


This one is well-known. Try to picture this getting past today's cardboard quality-control sensors. Billy's had a few during the photoshoot!


Topps smartly cropped out the bodies of the two dead hitchhikers he is dragging behind him.



The football parallel to the Topps baseball Doyle Alexander card issued the same year.


I am highly entertained.


Yes, 1970s football cards are great fun.


I often separate football eras into the old, old days and then the more modern era. The modern era for me starts around 1976, the first year I can remember buying football cards. The old, old days is just about anything before that. Garo Yepremian stumbling around trying to throw a football in that Super Bowl game is definitely the old, old days. Yet, here he is on a '77 Topps football card!! What the heck? Does this mean I'm old???


The team checklist cards back then featured the checklist on the front and the team leaders on the back, which if you ask me is backward.

Also, there's quite a disparity in terms of teams sets from back then, This Dolphins set features 23 players.


The Seahawks get just 10. I know they were an expansion team back then, but I believe they were required to play with the same number of players as every other team!



There were lots and lots of '77 football in that specially delivered box. All the great NFL names. Vern Den Herder!


Dominating defenders of the past like Jack Gregory.


More late '70s greatness.

Because of the 1977 Topps set, I was a Cowboys fan more than anything else that year.

 

I thought the red-and-yellow looked sharp. The names were familiar because the Cowboys were in the Super Bowl often at the time. So for this year only, I held those Cowboys cards above all others.

The following year I'd become an Oilers fan and then several years later, a Bills fan for good.

This was a great box of cards full of stuff I love. But Jeff wasn't finished. He followed up the special delivery with a one-card mailing the customary way.


This Maury Wills Greats of the Game bat relic will go very nicely with my Wills Greats of the Game jersey relic.