Monday, March 25, 2019
I've mentioned a few times that as an East Coast Dodgers fan as a kid, I resorted to the U.S. mail for my Dodgers memorabilia.
I would order the Dodger yearbook each year during the late 1970s and early 1980s and consume every page of my distant Boys in Blue from the comfort of my bedroom.
In the back of the yearbook, usually the last or second-to-last page, the Dodgers listed "souvenirs" that were available for purchase through mail. Here is what that list looked like, with one particular item I underlined in red:
My funds were limited and my interests narrow back in those days (kind of like they are now). So there were just a couple of items that caught my attention. The Dodger autographed photo set for a buck seemed like my kind of deal (the packet that I scanned at the top is from several years earlier when the cost was just 50 cents). I'm sure I didn't know or care what "autographed" meant at the time and it's a good thing, since none of the photos were truly autographed.
I have discussed these 5x7 photos, which were a regular and familiar part of being a Dodgers fan, a couple of times before on the blog, and have received some of those photo packets from several collectors (as well as still owning the one I ordered back in 1978 or '79).
But I have never received such a black-and-white photo trove like I did a couple of weeks ago.
Blog reader Alan said he had something he wanted to send me, maybe to lift my spirits with all the recent depressing family news. He certainly did that. Several days later a large box that once held diapers -- 68 diapers -- landed on my porch.
That's quite a load. More than 15 pounds worth.
Inside were Dodger picture cards from the early 1980s all the way back to the 1940s -- yes, the Dodgers have been issuing these player pictures for a long time.
The photos were packaged in various ways.
Two stacks of photos fit neatly into large top-loaders and contained any number of players from the Dodgers from the '50s to the '80s. The Dodgers were pretty consistent with issuing these pictures every year, so if you were on the starting roster at the beginning of the year, chances were good you'd have a photo taken.
That's why I love these photos so much. Don Newcombe has a photo. Rick Auerbach has a photo.
And speaking of Newcombe, there he is:
I really got a kick out of the photos from the '50s because I had seen many of the pictures from the '60s, '70s and '80s already, but those '50s photos are priceless.
Some of the photos in the box were not protected by top loaders and either contained within an oversized clear sleeve or just out in the open.
Fascinating snapshots from long ago, of scenes familiar and unfamiliar, but as a Dodger fan, I know virtually every one of the players contained in the box, from a young Bobby Valentine to that wonderful Wally Moon photo.
I'm not sure where Alan found all of these, but judging by the way many of the photos were presented, they were definitely owned by a devoted Dodger fan and by someone who knew how to properly display them. Many of the photos came mounted on large white cardboard, like this:
Looking at the photos presented in this fashion made me know that I want to hang some of these up on my walls when I get my card room going. Supposedly I'll be getting that room together later this year and not a moment too soon, with a box like this.
Some other wall-destined examples:
Further down in the box, I saw photos presented in yet another way -- in pages, binder-style, which is my preferred method of displaying my collectibles.
In many cases, the pages feature various photos of the same player. The Dodgers updated their photos regularly, although I'm not sure how often. It wasn't a yearly thing, I don't think.
But there are several different photos for several of the players, especially 1960s guys.
Topps has nothing on these variations. You could go nuts tracking down all of the differences in these Dodger photos. It seems like whoever had collected these prior really tried to include as many differences as possible. There are about eight different Ron Fairly photos and almost as many as Junior Gilliam.
I started to get a little concerned that there weren't any Ron Cey photos in the box, but Alan didn't let me down. All the Cey photos were displayed for easy wall presentation.
Here is an early days Cey, sans mustache.
Here he is a few years later, batting against the Expos.
Here is the same photo but a somewhat different signature.
Here is a much shaggier Cey batting in an exhibition against the Angels.
I can see a little corner of my card room devoted to these Cey photos already.
I wish I could showcase all the pictures here, just because as a Dodger fan it's fascinating to me to have photos of players long forgotten, such as Bob Lee and Ed Goodson and Ed Rakow and Bob Stinson. It's also a thrill to have multiple photos of Tommy Davis and Davey Lopes and one of my childhood favorites, Bob Welch.
Welch always seemed to be in action.
Always. Whether Bob or Robert Lynn.
But I really must get to some of the earlier photos in the box because, wow, are those tremendous.
Preacher Roe. These are not 5x7. They are of the 8x11 variety and super fine. I am somewhat taken aback when I see such a clear photo of a Dodger legend staring back at me. These images from the '40s and '50s are presented on better quality stock and they really pack a punch.
Ralph Branca. The photos are in exquisite condition.
Schoolboy Rowe. The Tigers pitching legend from the 1930s played in nine games for the Dodgers in 1942. I never knew that (although Rowe is in the 1990 Target Dodgers set) and what a gift to have a photo of him from 1942!
I feel like I haven't gotten across must how many photographs were in this box. I'll show you just a few more without words and then address my absolute favorites.
OK, that's enough of that. You will notice that the Steve Yeager and Ron Fairly photos are signed, and I have no doubt those are their signatures, they look just like them.
Trust me, just about everyone was in that box, from Ron Perranoski to Ray Lamb to Mickey Hatcher to Mike Marshall (the pitcher) to Jim Brewer to Tommy John to Gene Hermanski and then there was a separate packet of just COACHES from the 1950s.
There were a few superstars not included, specifically Koufax and Drysdale. (There was no Maury Wills, but I have one of his Dodger pictures already. Same with Don Sutton). And out of the '50s images, there was not Campanella or Snider or Jackie Robinson, But there were photos of Gil Hodges, and I certainly am not complaining.
Because I've gone through all that to get here. These were my favorite pictures from the box:
A fifth mounted Ron Cey photo that I didn't show. I like this one best of all. Kiss it goodbye!!!
1940s manager Burt Shotton, from the days when the boss wore a suit and tie in the dugout (at least some of them did). Shotton was the manager when Jackie Robinson played his first major league season, stepping in when Leo Durocher was suspended for the 1947 season.
Gene Michael as a Dodger. The longtime Yankee player, announcer and front office man started out as a Dodger and there aren't a lot of pictures of him with the team. BUT HERE IS ONE.
Dixie Walker. The all-star noted for objecting to the Dodgers hiring a black man to play baseball. He later saw the error of his ways and this is a key part of history.
Another notable part of history. Several accounts say Stan Rojek, a native of Western New York, dressed in the locker next to Jackie Robinson during that 1947 season.
I love stuff like this. All it is is an advertisement issued in some past Dodger program. But placing the photograph of The Penguin with old-school ads will always fascinate me.
My heart pounds when I see this. Why, oh, why are we not taking photos like this now? This will have a prominent place on display in my card room. It is so damn beautiful.
This almost knocked me over. I missed it the first time I went through the box. Then, upon seeing it a second time, I couldn't believe I missed it. Why, it's Steve Garvey's powerful signature! I'd know it anywhere. Too cool.
Speaking of players who don't have a lot of pictures of themselves in Dodger uniforms, here is one of the most notable. I do a little happy dance every time I see a different photo of Dick Allen in a Dodger uniform.
And, finally, this.
It's one of several different photos in the box of Willie Davis. But it's my favorite one, obviously taken during one of the Dodgers' 1960s World Series appearances. I'm going to say it's from 1963 (the year the Dodgers swept the Yankees), only because I can accompany the photo with this:
It's a stamped and signed photo licensing agreement for the 1963 season, probably related to the Dodger photos taken every year, and at the bottom, Willie Davis added his autograph.
That is phenomenal.
It's going to take me ages to get all these photos organized and presented, even with the great start by whoever put together this collection. Once again, there are so many Dodger figures included. I haven't even mentioned Doug Rau or Ted Martinez or Jake Pitler (coach of the Boys of Summer!) or Kirby Higbe or Freddie Fitzsimmons or Eddy Stanky!
There you go. I couldn't leave that out.
But that's it. I'm not showing anything else. Not Rick Monday or Jim "Mudcat" Grant or Jimmy Wynn or Hugh Casey (yes! Dodger relief great Hugh Casey) or Tom Haller or Manny Mota or Ken McMullen or Von Joshua or Sweet Lou Johnson or Len Gabrielson or Rick Rhoden or Nate Oliver ...