Monday, August 11, 2014

A Red Rizzo from The Lost Collector!

My friend AJ (who runs the great blog The  Lost Collector) sent over a splendid card for my Anthony Rizzo Collection! 

Check it out.....

I love Heritage and am still slowly trying to BUILD this year's base set! Honest, I checked for a pulse and it's still there.....barely. I hope I can stick to it. Set-Building is something I do enjoy but view as a challenge for both modern sets and vintage. Vintage is tough because I lack a local shop for access to reasonable selections of commons....modern releases suffer the same handicap but I also don't find the math for packs/boxes of new releases to be very favorable for dinosaurs like me.

Maybe I'm just being a wimp? Sorry. Tangent.....

This Rizzo parallel won't be needed for the set-chase, but it is a WELCOME addition to my Rizzo PC! It's a simple head-shot of my favorite Chicago Cub. The red even works pretty well with the Cubbies uniform and logo. Love it!

I also appreciate The Lost Collector's use of the painter's tape. I try to do the same as much as possible. It gets the job done without leaving a sticky residue on the top-loaders. A win-win. Let's get that tape out of the way for a better view:

Fantastic - and how about those great Heritage backs:


A great description of a "Rizzo Moonshot" is very apropos in light of his power surge this season. I also appreciate the reminder about just how young Anthony really is.

A great card. Thanks, AJ! Now where did I put that spare PWE.......

Friday, August 8, 2014

My Hall of Fame Collection - 1951 Bowman #31 Roy Campanella

I recently opined on the twitter that "modern cards and prospecting are like one-night stands...vintage is true love."

I truly believe that and it appears that I am falling in love again thanks to this Campy! Introduce yourself, Roy...

I encountered a well-priced batch of graded '51 Bowman's on the Bay of E earlier this year. The Ryan's Pitch Collection welcomes all forms of vintage cardboard  - graded, non-graded, degraded, whatever the case may be - but my adrenal gland kicks in when a seller has numerous graded cards of players I really enjoy, at great prices, with combined shipping and (the kicker) a 'Make An Offer' option available.

I'm shy by nature and dislike the art of negotiation, but only because I wish I were better at it. And even when I decide to face this inner demon, the Bay is usually a hostile environment in which to attempt to do, particularly in the card market. Sellers are there to profit and the Bay is known to be full of buyers that are short of hobby knowledge but accompanied by deep pockets. This produces a beneficial equation for the sellers and gives them little reason to suffer through the entertainment of an offer from a spendthrift like me.

But this was true vintage love, you see....the stuff miracles are made of!

I quickly checked PSA's SMR database to ensure that my eyes were not deceiving me and formulated an offer amount on this Campy along with a few others. I wanted to cause deliberation without insulting and, after some quick emails, the Seller and I reached a mutually beneficial arrangement for the whole lot. I could barely contain my excitement then, and it persists today as I am very excited to share this particular card with you.

Campanella has a special place in the history of the game as one of its finest catchers, despite only playing for ten seasons. His Hall of Fame career, spent entirely with the Brooklyn Dodgers, was cut much too short due to a paralyzing injury suffered during a car accident in the winter of '58. Prior to that horrible twist of fate, Roy had earned a World Series ring (against my Yanks in '55), 3 National League MVP Awards, 8 All-Star appearances, led the league in RBI for a season and caught 3 no-hitters!  

"Campy" was one of the pioneers in breaking the color-barrier in baseball, joining Brooklyn during Jackie's sophomore campaign. He was one of the first four African-American players to appear in an All-Star Game, joining Robinson, Larry Doby and Don Newcombe. Yes, Roy, who passed away in 1993, holds a special place in the hearts of Dodgers and baseball fans in general, including myself. And now this card has joined him!

Where to start with this card?! It's pretty well centered and has excellent edges, two attributes that I really enjoy. The grade was most likely given for the corners, slight surface 'dent' in the upper right corner and border fading.

No problem.

A VG-EX "4" '51 Bowman is a GEM in my collection, any day of the week! The coloring of this card is amazing and the pose for this shot is baseball perfection. From my humble sampling, action shots appear to have been few and far between for '51 Bowman, so this look at Campanella tossing his old-school catcher's mask aside while he focuses on a pop-up is a real treat! How about that catcher's gear, though? I know many of you enjoy catcher's cards in particular and it's easy to see why. The chest protector, knee pads and backwards ball cap..... great coloring. Even the background calls your attention! The vivid green stadium seats in the background provide a very 'you are there' experience, enhanced by the depth perception provided through the stadium's deepening shadows as our eyes follow up into the stands......can anybody confirm if these green seats indicate Ebbets Field?

And who's that guy? Why only one spectator, a spectator wearing a mustard-colored shirt and sunglasses?    

Well focused.......the player and the card!

The back only adds to my enjoyment of this card, offering Bowman's traditional and simple approach: name, bio-stats, brief summary, card number. In 1951, he was coming off his third season in which he had surpassed the 30 HR mark (31) and approached 90 RBI (89) while batting .285. Bowman mentions that Roy held a .985 fielding percentage in 1949...he matched that in 1950 and would never drop below that mark for the duration of his career.

The back is in great shape, with no paper loss or markings to interfere with enjoyment of the information. The coloring is great, too.....just an all around great card, condition-wise. Interestingly, the write-up mentions that the Dodgers first noticed Campy when playing against him in an exhibition game. Hmmm, I wonder what the story is behind that statement? Well, as usual with the game we all love, here's the tale, according to SABR:

"In October 1945 Campanella caught for a black all-star team organized by Effa Manley against a squad of major leaguers managed by Charlie Dressen in a five-game exhibition series at Ebbets Field. Dressen, a Dodgers coach at the time, approached Campanella to arrange a meeting with Dodgers general manager and part-owner Branch Rickey later that month. Campanella spent four hours listening to Rickey, whom he later described as “the talkingest man I ever did see,” and politely declined when Rickey asked if he was interested in playing in the Brooklyn organization. Campy thought he was being recruited for the Brooklyn Brown Dodgers, a new Negro League outfit that Rickey was supposedly starting. A few days later, however, he ran into Jackie Robinson in a Harlem hotel. After Robinson confidentially told him he’d already signed with the Dodgers, Campy realized that Rickey had been talking about a career in Organized Baseball for him. Afraid that he’d blown his shot at the big leagues, he fired off a telegram to Rickey indicating his interest in playing for the Dodgers just before he left on a barnstorming tour through South America."    

Like I always say, all baseball cards are great pieces of history. Some have great players while others have great stories. And some, like this '51 Campanella, just seem to have both. I've only touched on the very tip of the iceberg that was Roy's contribution to the game and to the world, but this is a great way to start a conversation that I hope continues for a long time. I can't wait to add more of Campy's cardboard to my collection and learn more about his legacy, but I'll never lose my excitement and love for this card. I am thrilled to add it to my collection and could easily file this one under the "One of My Favorite Cards" title.

Either way - here's to you, Roy. Rest in peace and thank you for this walk into history.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

My Rizzo Collection - Autographed Ticket for 1st Home Run Game

Antonio, si stanno avendo un anno fantastico! Sapevo che si poteva fare - complimenti , mio fratello!

Yeah, I'm a little energized right now. It's been a tumultuous season for my favorite teams and favorite players. The Yanks' starting pitching has been decimated after such a glorious start, and yet they're definitely hanging around in a softer AL East - partially due to some consistent greatness from David Robertson (and another player I'll be announcing soon)! The Braves are pulling their usual stunt of mixing ecstasy with agony, though Freddie and The Kimbrel are certainly doing their parts and the Braves themselves are just a gant's ass behind the....gNats. Jagielo is coming back from injury but has already gone deep down in the Florida State League (A-Advanced). Mattingly's Dodgers are winning again, despite themselves and their critics. 

And then......and then......

There is THIS guy!

We're now into August, and Anthony Rizzo certainly APPEARS to be having the breakout season that his fans (and Cubs fans especially) have been waiting for! He's batting .283 with 25 HRs, 60 RBI and 70 runs scored! You can even add in a couple of stolen bases for good measure. While the Cubs don't find themselves in the hunt, Anthony's performance at the plate and in the field garnered him his FIRST All Star Game appearance (along with Fab-Fivin' Freddie Freeman and le Kimbrel)! He made good use of his single at-bat, Needless to say, I will be anxiously awaiting the late year releases for some All-Star cardboard.

In honor of his outstanding achievement, I would like to share one of my favorite pieces from the Ryan's Pitch Rizzo Collection. I picked it up on the secondary market last year and must admit that there was much inspiration for this addition from my good friend Brian, over at "30 Year-Old Cardboard". His legendary "Ultimate Dawson" Collection is a site to behold and I would highly encourage you to check it out. With so many types of memorabilia pieces that are absolutely swimming in interesting inscriptions and player is truly amazing and serves as a great example of one particular way to enjoy our hobby.

In that vein, I saw this ticket and knew that I had to have it. The price was right and the PSA authenticity credentials instilled the confidence I needed.....and I've enjoyed it ever since! I am happy to share this ticket to the Padres/Nationals game on June 11th, 2011!

It was the Bottom of the 2nd inning when Rizzo stroked his first home run off of John Lannan into the right field bleachers at cavernous PETCO. It would be the only run scored by the Padres that day, and they would end up losing the game, 2-1. But it was surely a great day for Anthony and, coincidentally, for my wife and me as we celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary. Big day!

Here's a closer look at the inscription, "First Home Run":

It probably wouldn't have affected my decision, but I am glad that Rizzo didn't go with "1st HR". I appreciate full words. Except for when I don't use them myself.....on this blog. Whoops.

Here's a close look at the unmistakable, short signature of Mr. Rizzo:

Overall, the ticket is really nice looking. An odd choice of picture, but it gives us a soothing look at what is probably a very comfortable San Diego evening. The color scheme and graphics don't lend themselves to an easy presentation for autographs and such, but I feel like the use of the silver ink helps to mitigate that effect.

Rizzo's really emerged as a star this season and I couldn't be happier for him or for Cubs fans. He seems to be a really good person (he sticks up for his teammates when opposing pitchers hurl 100 mph+ pitches at their heads, for example) and does a lot of great charity work off the field.  He's a lefty first baseman who looks like he's going to be playing some good baseball for many years to come. I love watching him play and find myself rooting just a little bit for the Cubbies in the NL Central.

I'm thrilled to add another Rizzo autograph to my collection, but especially ecstatic to add one that is unique and commemorates one of his early career milestones. He's averaged 26 long balls per 162 games so far in his blossoming career, so I'm ready for the next couple of decades!

Here's the back, complete with assurances from our friends at PSA.....

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

My Yankees Collection - 2011 Gypsy Queen "The Great Ones" Thurman Munson (mini)

Many moons ago, I was able to stop by what has become the closest hobby shop to me in Columbia, SC. I wrote about my discovery of this LCS back in 2012. While this current LCS scarcity is probably best for my wallet, what I wouldn't give for a hometown shop!

During this rare visit, I was able to snag some supplies and a card that I needed for my 1960 Topps set-build. I also performed an obligatory flip through the "Yankees Stars" box on the shop's counter. Most of these were over-priced, but I couldn't pass on this one!

As any Yankee collector will tell you, we have a special place in our heart for Mr. Munson. And even though I wasn't able to watch him play, he lives on as one of the best "lunch-pail" type ballplayers to ever put on pinstripes. SO many accomplishments in such a short time with the sad early ending that we all know by heart, I view every one of Thurman's cards as a unique opportunity to learn more about him and, in some small/weird way, pay tribute to his legacy. Capturing his iconic 1971 All-Star Rookie card was a big day in my collecting timeline, but even the smaller (literally), modern era cards provide a rich, enjoyable experience. This card lived up to the task.

As a bonus, it's a 2011 Gypsy Queen, one of my all-time favorite sets! A double-bonus, you say?! It's a mini. While I'm not a 'mini' collector, I find them curiously interesting. This card of Munson gives us a fantastic action image of Thurman, in full color, as he casts his [vintage] catcher's mask aside. Munson is gnawing on some chaw with a beautiful scowl beneath his memorable mustache.


I think it's a great looking card. The overall impression is a bit dark, but I think this approach suits the historic nature of its hobby throw-back design. It seems to boil with baseball and cardboard history overtones, doesn't it? A tobacco card-era throwback of a tobacco-chewing baseball player. The dark borders, in combination with its small size might also have made it difficult to preserve the condition of the edges, but this one seems to have survived fairly intact.

Here's the back:

A simple, informative card back. Thurman, the Yanks' captain, led the league in singles for 1975....Topps makes an interesting statement about rarity of players who can produce runs without power. Is this, for the most part, accepted baseball wisdom? I feel like I should do some digging around on baseball-reference!

For now, though, let's just enjoy this card. Welcome home, Thurman! You truly were a Great One!

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bobble Relevance

Who doesn't love a bobblehead? Last season, a neighbor of mine shouted me down as I was playing with my kids in our cul-de-sac.

"Hey man, you like baseball, don't you?"

"Heck YES, I like baseball! How come?"

"I went to a Padres game while I was out in San Diego and I have this you want it?"

"Definitely! Thanks!"

Didn't care who it was or what it looked like.....I was ALL about a free bobblehead for my baseball memorabilia collection. Turns out, it was Mr. Chase Headley......hey, cool. I knew about Headley and figured this was a pretty solid pick-up. Of course, NOW we know that Chase has become the starting 3rd baseman for the Yankees! Woo-hoo! "#AddedValue", as @StaleGum would say.

The Padres were sure proud of Chase's accomplishments back in 2012 - and you can't blame them! He came out of nowhere and really tore it up, both at the plate and defensively that season. He ended up earning himself a nice paycheck, too.

Unfortunately, Headley's output took a dive last year and his woes have continued through the first half of '14.....which made him an ideal bargain for the drifting Yankees. Hoping that Chase can continue his post-ASG hot streak and regain his 2012 form, Cashman & Co. swapped farmhand Rafael DePaula and 1st-half hero, Yangervis Solarte for Mr. Headley.   Like the Nuno/McCarthy trade, I think this is a good gamble for the Bombers, who are trying to piece together ANY sort of path into the post season for The Captain.

We'll see how it goes, but for now, this guy will be haunting me from the corner of the Card Cave:

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My Yankees Collection - 1998 Topps Gold Label Roger Maris

I cam across this card of Roger Maris and had to have it for my collection. 

Roger has become one of my favorite players since I returned to collecting and baseball itself a few years ago. His "unsung hero" story strikes a chord with me and as I continue to read books about his career and life, he always comes across as just an all-around good guy.

This Gold Label issue from Topps is not one that I am familiar with, but I like the design. Colorful shots of Roger in his prime as a Yankee are always welcome, and the subdued colors of this card's foil construction enhance the view for me.   Here's the front of the card:

Connecting the dots between the "98 Home Run Race" and Maris' ownership of the single-season record until that summer (or despite it), the card mentions Roger's 61st long ball in 1961. As most of us know, he made history on the final day of the season - a campaign that became almost unbearable for Maris to endure as many baseball fans refused to believe that the legendary Babe Ruth could be dethroned. Even a certain portion of Yankee fans gave Roger a hard time, both for threatening the Babe and for never (in their minds) living up to their favorites like Mantle, Gehrig and DiMaggio. It was a heartbreaking situation in so many ways, and one that I truly believe can be seen in the eyes of Maris.

Here's the back of the card: 

I'm not sure what Topps meant with the "HR1 Black Label" stamp on the right-hand side? Perhaps there were 61 different versions of this card that could be collected? I love the fact that the card back gives us the name of Tracy Stallard, off of whom Maris knocked #61. This gives us a little bit extra in the way of detailing the epic achievement, a feat not often achieved.

Trace Stallard was hurling for the Red Sox in 1961, and has stated that he was having the best game he ever pitched that fateful day, until Maris took him deep in the 4th inning. When all was said and done, Tracy took the 1-0 loss with Maris' solo shot providing the only run of the day. Stallard recorded 5 K's, 5 hits and allowed the single run over seven innings of work.   It would be the only hit that Maris would record against Stallard in seven AB's. As luck would have it, his involvement in record has endured as his best-known association with the sport he played for a couple of decades, but Tracy has kept a positive outlook on things:

        "I'm glad he did it off me. Otherwise, I would never have been thought of again. 
That was about all I did, and I've had a good time with it." 

You have to admire that perspective! Interestingly, Tracy was traded to the upstart Mets in 1963 along with Pumpsie Green and Al Moran. He did enjoy some success but was involved in another amazing baseball feat in 1964, Jim Bunning's perfect game, an event that I wrote about in May of last year. Once again, Tracy was on the losing end of somebody else's 'best day'. Despite another downer for his personal story, perhaps Tracy can always come back with a wink and reminder that, through the tough days, he managed to date Julie Newmar while playing ball and living it up in New York for a few years.

Nicely done, Tracy.

And nicely done, Topps - I'm thrilled to add this Maris card to my Yankees Collection!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 20, 2014

My Yankees Collection - 2003 Upper Deck "Standing O" #54, Derek Jeter

Well, I always say that I am eager to explore cards of my favorite players and teams that I missed out on during my Hobby Ice Age....


From 2003, here is a very unusual, very cool looking "Standing O" Jeter card from Upper Deck.   I have no idea if these were inserts in normal packs or special edition whatevers, but I knew I had to have this card as soon as I saw it!  

 It's in pretty good shape, though it does have some rounded corners.

Thanks, I'll be here ALL night......

The card is fairly simple, consisting of a background baseball image for the front.   The colors are great and the ball's seams pop nicely.   In front, we have a much younger-looking Captain, grasping a bat and looking....a bit confused.   Perhaps this was during his Mariah Carey years?

What does the back of a card like this look like?

OH, HECK YEAH!   We get a bonus for Ryan with a great Mattingly reference! And although it is slightly inaccurate (Mattingly officially announced and retired in January of '07, if I recall correctly), it is a WELCOME addition in the middle of this quick summary of Jeet's accomplishments.   32 STEALS!   Way to go, Derek.

Cool card and glad to add it to my collection. to store it?

Thanks for reading!