Wednesday, September 26, 2012

It's Campy...Really

This 3-inch plastic statue features Brooklyn Dodger star Roy Campanella. Really, it does:

Molded in 1956 and sold through Dairy Queen stores that year, Campanella was one of 18 big league players to be included in the promotion. Since half of the players (Campy, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Larry Doby, Bob Lemon, Eddie Mathews, Stan Musial, Pee Wee Reese and Duke Snider) are Hall of Famers, there is quite an interest in them.

The same 18 players were also featured on statues with cards that year known as Big League Stars. However, while those statues have a bronze color, Dairy Queen statues are white.

Also note the presence of Stan Musial, who was absent in Topps' sets through 1958 and wasn't on any Bowman issues after 1953.

Friday, September 21, 2012

On the Lighter Side...

Here's a "gem" of mine that was picked up at The Nationals:

It was sent to me after I got back from Baltimore, however. At the show, I ran into several of my OBC buddies including Larry "Guru" Tipton, who is legendary in the group for his condition guide. While at the show, he "scored" a collection of cards that were...shall we say, water damaged? After the show, he was kind enough to share cards of this "find" with members of the community.

In fact, he even inagurated his OBC-styled grading service called Guru's Grading Service (GGS). After lovingly grading and labeling many of the cards, he sent them to fellow OBC members as a way of spreading his good fortune.

I already have a 1961 Topps Hank Foiles in my own collection, so I'm not likely to free this one from its slab. Which may be a real treat for my nose.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Put a Patch On It

Today's entry goes off the beaten path when it comes to collectibles:

This patch measures 2 1/2 inches by 3 1/4 inches, or just shorter than a standard card. It was made in 1978 and sold by the Penn Emblem Company for $2.50. Actually, the commons are still available in mint condition for around that, and maybe even less. Collectors don't seem to care for them.

There were 103 players available, and Pete Rose had two differently-colored borders. Since the name of the manufacturer doesn't appear anywhere on the patch, the SCD "book" simply has them listed as "1978 Baseball Player Patches." Although the images sort of look like the players pictured -- even without the team logos or any mention of team affiliation -- they've never attracted that much interest.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Original 1953 Topps Reprints

When "1953 Topps Reprints" are mentioned, many collectors think of the glossy, standard-sized cards that hit the market in 1991. Not this:

The front may look familiar, but the back is more in the style of a 1930s or '40-style back than the way it was presented in its original Topps form:

The term "1953 Topps Reprints" is something of a misnomer. Hobby legend has it that the cards were produced for a banquet dinner and the cards were printed for the attendees as party favors. It's possible the Sy Berger or somebody with connections to Topps was in attendance at a banquet that had ex-sports figures in attendance and the cards were printed to remind everybody that they were once young and athletic.

There were eight cards in the set, three of whom are misidentified by their pictures.Here's a genuine 1953 Johhny Mize for a comparison:

As you can see, the back of the original card had much different info on it, including a different biographical write-up:

By the way...Roy Face went 18-1 in 1959, eclipsing the record that Johnny Allen is credited with. And Johnny Allen wasn't a member of the Yankees in 1937...the Yanks dealt him to the Indians the year before that.

Friday, September 14, 2012

More Recent Arrivals -- 56 Topps

They may not be the prettiest cards I own, but these 1956 Topps cards can tell a story even when they're scuffed like this. Since I have picked up a scanner to use, I've been slowly showing some of my recent additions to my collection...and here are some more of those:

Johnny Antonelli is from Upstate New York (as am I) and has become a part of two bloggers' sites: Night Owl (who featured a much nicer-looking 1956 than this one) grew up near one of his tire franchises and Jeff over at Cardboard Catastrophies (who also has a much nicer 1956 Topps than this) has a player set devoted to Antonelli. Between those two, there's enough background on him as a I'll just focus on the card.

One of the neat things about the 1956 Topps cards is the second full-color action shot. With the background added to the image, the cards really "pop" in a way that they 1954 and 1955 cards (which also had a second image, but no backgrounds) didn't. And the shot of Antonelli delivering a pitch to an unseen competitor is just great.

As for Luis Arroyo, he's just posing for the cameraman here. Yet the stadium backdrop makes the card something more than it would have been without it.

Arroyo actually pitched for the Pirates in 1956. He started the year in the minors and was dealt away in May. The Puerto Rican native was best known for a baffling screwball, as well as being part of the latter days of the Yankee dynasty that made the World Series each year he was with them.

Showing off his windup is Jim Hearn, who was instumental in helping the Giants to overcome a 13 1/2-game deficit to with the 1951 pennant.

But Hearn will be forever remembered by me as my very first 1952 Topps high #...a $4 purchase. When I think of him, that will always be the first thing that comes to my mind.

Billy Klaus is shown here turning a play at second against the Yanks' Andy Carey. I like the way the picture shows tha dust getting kicked up as Klaus throws to first and Carey attempts to take him out. That's how baseball should be played, not the silly "neighborhood play" sometimes used today. Yes, I get that it's there to prevent injuries...but it doesn't seem right.

I just noticed that Klaus is the only non-pitcher in this group of cards.

So, we go back to the pitchers. In fact, this is the third Giant hurler out of the five cards. Liddle came to the tam from the Braves along with Johnny Antonelli -- and Billy Klaus, for that matter -- in 1954, and was part of that year's World Series team. In fact, he was the pitcher to threw the pitch to Vic Wertz that Wille Mays caught and still nailed the runner at the plate...the one play that is still shown from that Series all these years later.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Old-School "Pogs" From 1963

When pogs became popular in the 1990s, there were children of the 1950s and 60s who immediately recognized them as new versions of an old relic...the milk bottle cap. Though the concept of caps that could be used in a game predated pogs and even milk caps (Japanese Menko games have existed since the 1700s, for instance), it was still a quaint reminder of a time when local dairies delivered milk bottles to doorsteps and advertised on the cardboard caps that topped their bottles.
And that brings us to today's set:

In 1963, a Cincinnati-based dairy known as French Bauer released a set of 30 milk caps that encouraged their clients to visit Crosley Field and see the team play. The 1 1/4-inch diameter discs are blank-backed and feature a die-cut area and a staple that were designed to be broken open to allow the milk inside to be poured out. Predictably, not many of these have survived and examples are a little scarce today.

Two caps are especially prized by collectors: a Frank Robinson and a rookie-year Pete Rose. However, the bottle caps weren't only limited to players. One cap even showed the image of team owner (and long-time baseball executive) Bill DeWitt:

Though considered a common in the set, there weren't a lot of kids excited about old men in suits. Especially a man who later traded Frank Robinson to the Orioles because he felt Robinson was "old." That makes the DeWitt cap one of the tougher commons in the set.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Different Type of "Scratch-Off" Card

The rookie card of James Brown is pretty well known in the hobby. Today, let's take a look at the back of the card instead:

Notice how there's a rather large are at the right with a trivia question, and that the answer can be seen when the area is rubbed with the edge of a coin. Here's a back where the answer is more visible:

Normally, the card that has been unscratched will sell for more than one that has been scratched, but this is a point that often gets overlooked by sellers who are content to just provide scans of the card's front. That can lead to some hard feelings when it gets sold to a collector who cares about condition and that collector flips it over.

Note to sellers: a scan of the back for all cards, not just the ones with scratch-off areas, might be helpful here. Collectors who are more condition-conscious will know beforehand whether the card has been scratched, and it'll help eliminate most of the returns that result. I know it's not many...but everything that staves off any headaches is a good thing in my opinion.

The scratch-off area has been with Topps football cards since before that. In fact, their football set in 1951 had a covered area on the back that could be scratched off:

The set's name -- Magic -- was a reflection of the fact that the colleges were obscured and that the owner was forced to look under the gray area to find out what it was. While many cards that have been scratched off look nice, the process of an 8-year old kid in 1951 using a penny or nickel to scratch the back didn't always lead to nice results. However, the scratch-off area doesn't seem to be as big a deal as one would think...unless the scratching left gouges in the card itself.

The process of having a trivia question with a scratch-off area was part of football cards (on and off) in both Topps and Philadelphia cards through 1970, but the gimmick has found its way into other sets as well: 

For instance, here's the back of a 1963-'64 Topps hockey card of Stan Mikita that features a bilingual question...

And a 1964 Topps card of Hank Aaron that reveals a question about a home run champ...though not about Aaron or anybody on his team.