Wait til Next Year . . . is making a come back.

I am going to mix a bit of the philosophy of my life into this blog as I continue to highlight some of my baseball card collection. (hoping the card collectors of this world welcome me back)

Its been a tough 18 months for me . . . the Chicago Cubs have had it rough as well.

This site will be devoted to all those who need to define what "wait til next year" means.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

welcome to the big leagues

Today in baseball history (1955 that is) Brooks Robinson made his major league debut. Getting two hits on his opening day was a teaser of what was to come. Those actually would be his only two hits in 1955 after appearing in only 6 games and 22 at bats, but his first two of 2848 career hits.

His full time role would not officially start until 1958 playing in 145 games, and from 1960 until 1974 would appear in 15 consecutive all-star games and receive 16 consecutive gold glove awards.

Topps 1960 # 28; my birth year and a real "cool" card

Brooks Robinson began his storied Oriole career today, September 17, 1955; played his entire 23 year career in Baltimore and ended his career in 1977.

A career .267 batting average, 2848 hits, 1357 rbi's and 268 home runs is just the icing on the cake for this "vacuum" at 3rd base. Lee May nicknamed him "Mr Hoover" and it is well known that "while Brooks never had a candy bar named after him, in Baltimore, people named their children after him".

Topps 1969 # 550; a "happy" smiling card

The 1964 AL MVP, two time World Series Champion (1966, 1970), 1970 World Series MVP and Babe Ruth awardee, Robinson was inducted into MLB Hall of Fame in 1983 with 92%.

I remember watching the Orioles back in the late 60's and early 70's, secretly cheering for them (not so secretly, as they were my favorite AL team back in the day). Being a Cubs fan meant being an anti-White Sox fan and the Orioles were going to beat the Mets in 1969, emphasis on were. They sure did have some great pitching and fielding back then.

Brooks Robinson, a childhood "hero" of mine, started his career . . .today !

Sunday, September 13, 2009

6 in 30: better late than never

Exactly one week ago Dinged Corners offered up a challenge that many of you tackled quickly. For me, since I am "slow", have been called "a dollar short and a day late" many a time in my past, and just got busy with cleaning, organizing, and redecorating my home (it is for sale now and today was the first Open House)I am just getting to this challenge today.

But nonetheless here goes. The challenge was to pick a binder and find six cards in that binder that made you "happy" in 30 seconds. For those of you who did this, I don't have to tell you that 30 seconds goes quick.

My first challenge was to pick what binder. I could have easily picked my almost complete Topps 1970 binder, or any of my Chicago Cubs binders or my newest binder with the 1995 Cardtoon set or even the 1991 binder I put together for my daughter. All of which would have made for finding six "happy" cards easy. No instead I choose a binder I don't look at much; a miscellaneous binder of stars and set out to find six "happy" cards quickly.

For me, one of the first words I think of when someone says "happy" is smile. So I set out to quickly find six cards that had a smile. Here are my six "happy" (smiling) cards:

Bo Jackson; 1991 Upper Deck # 744

Kirby Puckett, 1993 Topps # 200

Ken Griffey Sr., 1988 Donruss # 202

Frank Thomas, 1993 Leaf Hotshots # 77

Barry Bonds, 1992 Upper Deck # 134
Ozzie Smith, 1990 Post # 6 of 30

So there you have it, my 6 in 30 "happy" cards . . . a nice challenge . . . better late than never.

When 500 HR meant something

Today in baseball history two HOF'ers hit their 500th home run. Two of the greatest players of any era; Willie Mays and Frank Robinson.

Mays hit his 500th in 1965 while Robinson hit his in 1971. Back in the day when hitting 500 home runs was a commodity for a select few both Mays and Robinson were tops in their class.
September 13th certainly does mark a special day in baseball lore.

Willie Mays Topps 1970, # 600: the eyes awaiting a home run pitch
(I know it is a photo from spring training but I still love those intense "eyes")

Frank Robinson Topps 1967 #100: another shot of the "home run" eyes

Ranking 4th (Mays with 660) and 7th (Robinson with 586) in career round trippers, I salute Mays and Robinson for reaching that 500 HR club on the same day, albeit six years apart.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Someones "junk" is someone elses treasure

Several months ago a most generous blogger John of Pursuit of 80's offered up a set he "did not like as much as he thought" and I because my thoughts are far less deep or poignant I asked and received this most unexpected treasure.

John had acquired the 1995 CardToons set of cards (copy written date of 1993 though not released until 1995).

For those not familiar with this set, it was a parody,simple as that. The base set of 95 cards spotlighted almost every star of the day in a caricature rendition with humor and sarcasm flowing freely. There were also several subsets printed including one aptly named Big Bang Bucks (showcasing the 20 highest salaried players on card currency) and Politics in Baseball ( an eleven card set focusing on the problems of baseball at the time).

My personal favorite subset is the Field of Greed (a nine card set) which describes the history of baseball (at the time) labor problems. The most interesting thing about this subset is that when completed and aligned (or put in a nine-pocket page) they make a complete Field of Greed picture.

The complete set has a comical approach to our national pastime and its players; fronts and back are very cleverly stated (or at least in my opinion) and gives me a chuckle every time I look at these cards.

A couple of my favorites are naturally the "Scrubs" (ie Chicago Cubs) cards:

Shawon (Tungsten Steel) Dunston

Ernie (Mr. Club) Banks

and if some remember this superstars' brief stint in baseball, Michael (Just Air) Jordan (sorry if the timing is perfect as he was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame (yesterday) as the GOAT (greatest of all-time) for a sport I rarely follow.

This 1995 Cardtoon set is fun, simple as that. Collecting baseball cards should be fun, simple as that. This set is now my "treasure". Thank you John !

Friday, September 11, 2009

We will always remember . . .

We will always remember where we were eight years ago at 7:46 am . . . I certainly do and will never forget. That September day in 2001 that has changed our lives, country and world forever.

To reflect just a bit on the personal side of things; I was President of the Buffalo Grove Area Chamber of Commerce participating in our usual Tuesday morning networking group (yes back in the day I lived in Illinois and was a business owner). Our executive director walked in and whispered in my ear about what she was just saw on tv (very similar yet far from the scope of how President Bush was informed at Emma E Booker Elementary School in Sarasota Florida).

I excused myself from the group, walked to her small office and watched with horror on her nine inch portable television. Within moments, cell phones were ringing and about fifteen of us crammed into the space built for one watching in shock. There was silence among us, except for the few who stepped away to use their phones. Within a few short moments "chaos" occurred with our group - fear, shock, concern, horror.

For about an hour our group slowly shrank in size, many going to schools to pick up their kids, some going home to family and others going to their office to start a "new day". I stayed behind until all were gone and then headed to my office well after nine o'clock. I drove the one mile with indescribable emotions and met my six employees in the front office. Our day was not about "work". We stayed together for another hour or so and by 11:00 my office was closed and I was in communication with so many families, businesses and "officials" of our town that my mind was all about "whats next", the loss of lives and "where do we go from here".

Later that evening a networking event was to be held at a local restaurant and the Chamber of Commerce decided we should go ahead with it. I am today still so proud of the turnout and generosity of my fellow Chamber members and friends. We turned it into a fundraiser, handed out small American Flags (thank you to my still good friend Ron) and networking turned into hugs and tears.

I know this is a baseball card blog, so lets get to it. As an excuse, I was not collecting cards in 2001 (I had stepped away from the hobby in 1993), even though my collection from the 1960's and 70's and my flagship framed tribute to the 1969 Cubs were proudly displayed in my home.

Several months ago, I did acquire one card from a blogger (sorry I forgot who) that is appropriate for today.
This great shot of a 30' by 50' American Flag (Topps # 357) being help by the players,coaches and personnel of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies on September 17, prior to their first game being played after the horror of 9-11. America - United We Stand.

So today, as I write my 200th post, it is time to remember and never forget. It is a time to be thankful and grateful to those who serve and protect. It is a time to reflect on the lives that have been changed so drastically and be so proud of those who have stood tall and fought back.

It is a time we will always remember . . .

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Happy Birthday Maz'

September 5 marks the 73rd birthday of Bill Mazeroski - Happy Birthday Maz !

Mazeroski was one of my favorite non-Cub players of my youth. I toiled around youth baseball at second base for about a year, before I became a pitcher, third baseman and finally a bench warmer. But Mazeroski was the star NL second baseman of the day and I tried to be him.

Maz's Rookie Card, Topps 1957 # 24 was one of my first major star cards I remember cherishing and eventually put into a thick single screw plastic holder.

The 1960 card, Topps # 55, is really my all-time favorite for several reasons. First it is the year of my birth (yes 1960 is a looong time ago). The 1960 cards showcase the nice classic vertical style of cards and I like the contrast of background colors used for the two photos; blue sky in the color large head shot (got to love that bulging cheek) and the black and white half body shot with the yellow background (reminds me of day baseball when the sun shines). 1960 is also the year that Maz hit that most unlikely walk-off game seven ninth inning homerun to catapult the Pittsburgh Pirates to World Series Champions over the highly favored New York Yankees.

So today I salute a boyhood "hero", World Series star, perennial all-star (7x) and 8x Gold Glove winner on his birthday - Happy 73rd Birthday Maz !

Friday, September 4, 2009

Lifes Balancing Act

Many of us, especially in my age bracket (going to be 50 next year), have experienced (or suffered through in some cases) the challenge of balancing family, work, home and community into ones life.

This balancing act of such has taken turns and shifts through the years and as I sit here in my quiet home (no wife, no child, no pets) fumbling through (actually the never ending task of sorting, organizing and storing of) my baseball cards I came across this 1991 Topps #659 of Oscar Azocar card that seemed pertinent to this balancing act of life.

While his career lasted all but 202 game, 439 at bats, a .226 BA over three seasons and two teams Yankees (1990) and the Padres (1991, 92), Azocars' skill of balancing seems remarkable.

Here's to lifes balancing act.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Just One Shy

Today (Sept 2) marks the 37th anniversary of Chicago Cub Milt Pappas' razor thin close call with perfection (in 1972 for those math challenged). After retiring the first 26 batters in a row and reaching a 3-2 count on the 27th batter (Larry Stahl of the San Diego Padres) Pappas was one pitch shy of perfection. Unfortunately the call was a ball (lets not over react to a correct call made by then plate umpire Bruce Froemming) and perfection was "ruined". Pappas did however retire the next batter to secure the no-hitter and an 8 - 0 victory at Wrigley Field. Still today, Pappas has the unique honor of being the only pitcher to have a perfect game "ruined" by a base on ball to the 27th batter.
{1973 #70 love those "earmuffs"}

Pappas's career began in1957 with the Baltimore Orioles appearing in only 4 games, yet 1958 began a string of eleven years in a row of double digit victories. Prior to that infamous day in 1972, Pappas was probably best known for being traded to the Cincinnati Reds during the off season of 1965 for the "old" superstar Frank Robinson.

{1958 # 457 "oh so young"}

Two and half years in Cincinnati and a couple of stints with the Atlanta Braves, Pappas was traded to the Chicago Cubs in June of 1970. Arguably, his finest year was in 1972 as Pappas compiled a 17-7 win-loss record and a top ten in the Cy Young award voting.

Pappas finished his career in 1973 with a 209 - 164 record, 3186 innings pitched and a better than 2 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio (1728 to 858). With 110 wins as an Oriole, Pappas came within one win shy of achieving 100 wins in the NL as well. Pappas would have been just the eighth pitcher to achieve 100 wins in both leagues joining; Cy Young, Al Orth, Jim Bunning, Gaylord Perry, Nolan Ryan, Ferguson Jenkins and Dennis Martinez.

Once again, Pappas was just one shy of being part of an exclusive club. So today I honor Milt Pappas and being just one shy . . .

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Trying again

Dear fellow bloggers, followers, baseball card junkies and baseball fans in general

I am attempting a comeback. Being that this is my first post in almost three months I will take it slow and do my due diligence in returning to your nightly reading lineup. It has been a "summer to forget" in my part of the woods and it is now time for me to get back on the playing field. Ok enough of the baseball analogies, I am going to give my blog another shot.

Just a bit of a recap of my personal life: my daughter returned from her year in Finland on May 24, and two weeks later my wife asked me for a divorce (and I agreed). We decided to put the house on the market and I would move out in 2 - 3 months (I thought we agreed). I packed up most of my "stuff" (including my baseball cards, binders, supplies etc) and within two weeks was "ready". Then my wife said she was "moving out" and out she went. I unpacked my "stuff" and she used my boxes and crates. She was gone by July 15 and I took the house off the market (never really had officially listed it). This past weekend I moved my beautiful daughter into her college dorm (she is attending Flagler College in St Augustine Florida and is an incoming freshman). My house is now empty, quiet and clean. No more dog, no more cat, no more wife, no more teenager. The house is too big for one so now I will try to sell it more vigorously. So that's my "brief" update of my summer . . .

Now for my baseball update: at the time of my last post in June the Cubs were 29-26 trying to find their groove. They never found it and now sit at 65 - 64. Another "summer to forget" as well. Quite coincidentally the day of my previous post the Cubs beat the Astros 7 - 1 (yesterday the Cubs lost to the Astros 5 - 3).

This past weekend I started reading a George Will book titled Bunts. In a rather poignant way Will concludes his introduction like this: ". . . baseball is a work in progress. If you dont believe me, just remember, and heed, the fans familiar cry, Wait til Next year".

A great big thank you to all of you who have expressed concern for me. I will try to get back to the basics of my blog (a personal salute to the Cubs of 1969 and baseball of that era), try to remember why I started this, try to get back into the trading mode and try to rekindle some blogger friendships I have ignored. I am going to try again . . .

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Fathers Day came early

I received an early fathers day "gift" and wanted to share with everyone my newest addition. Before I continue I must say that this "present" was given to me by . . . drum roll please . . . well to be honest, I bought it myself. That's right, I bought myself an early fathers day "present"; why, just because.

Here it is . . . weighing in at 6.2 pounds, 1848 pages worth of baseball cards; The 2008 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, 17th edition, edited by Don Fluckinger.

I have never bought a book that was this heavy nor had as many pages - except maybe my daughters huge SAT practice test book. My book will get opened much more.

This book boasts "the hobby's biggest and best price guide". However, I did not buy this volume for the price guide but for the vast collection of cards, over 140 years worth. This book catalogs sets, individual cards, errors, reprints, coins, stamps, rookie cards, short prints, double prints among its many different designations.

A 6 pound history lesson and for me an early fathers day "gift". Happy early Fathers Day to all you Dad's out there - may you be as nice to yourself as I have been for me. Thank you to me !

Monday, June 8, 2009

to tweet or not to tweet

for some unexplainable reason I have decided to join Twitter and become a twit. For those of you who think I just flipped my lid and have no clue what I am talking about, I am proud of you and you can stop reading this post now.

For the two people left reading (ok maybe less than two if not only one or none) I can be found here: Wait til next year Twitter

Twittering, or as they say "to tweet", is the craze these days. Real-time short messages from people and organizations all around the world telling of what is happening "now". My life is certainly not exciting enough to be followed by too many but if you do have an account I would like to follow you.

Maybe I have lost my mind but with this blog, facebook and now twitter I think I have entered the 21st century of communication (albeit nine years late). Time for me to tweet.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

They said this !

I was going to title this post "who said this" and make a contest of sorts but I don't have any cards or really anything worthy of a winner so . . . the title stays as "they said this".

Recently I stumbled upon this website Brainy Quote filled with interesting and sometimes humorous quotes and there is a whole category of sports quotes.

Some of my baseball favorites:

1) Other sports play once a week but this sport is with us every day. Peter Ueberroth

2) The only way to prove you are a good sport is to lose. Ernie Banks

3) The triple is the most exciting play in baseball. Home runs win a lot of games, but I never understood why fans are so obsessed with them. Hank Aaron

4) Baseball players are smarter than football players. How often do you see a baseball team penalized for too many men on the field? Jim Bouton

5) One thing you learned as a Cubs fan; when you bought your ticket, you could bank on seeing the bottom of the ninth. Joe Garagiola (note needed here: between Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola quotes, an entire blog could evolve)

6) Hitting is timing. Pitching is upsetting timing. Warren Spahn

7) I went through baseball as a "player to be named later". Joe Garagiola

8) The trouble with jogging is that the ice falls out your glass. Martin Mull (I just had to share this one with everyone)

Check the site out Brainy Quote you might get a laugh or two. Maybe one day there will be a site of the greatest quotes by bloggers ?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

a shadow of a career

in my Websters New Collegiate Dictionary copy written in 1973 (yes it is the only middle school graduation present that I still have) the word shadow has several definitions including:

a) an imperfect and faint representation
b) an imitation of something
c) a source of gloom and unhappiness
d) not functioning in a official capacity
e) of questionable merit

Knowing all of that I think this card of Kevin Orie (1998 Pinnacle # 71) and his shadow fits. Looks like Orie has a scared look on his face, is running from success and his career is well . . . all of the above work.

Orie was billed as the next Ron Santo for the Cubs after being drafted in the first round of the 1993 amateur draft. All those expectations lasted about a year as Orie never could produce numbers anywhere close to staying in major leagues.

Interesting to note is that Orie did have a respectable year in 1997, earning him enough rookie of the year votes to place 11th, yet from then on it was down hill. The Cubs traded Orie to the Marlins mid season in 1998, and Orie disappointed them too.

After appearing in just 77 games in 1999 the Marlins sent Orie to the Dodgers which began Orie's minor league travel odyssey; to the Royals, Yankees, Phillies and then back to the Cubs in 2002 to play 13 games with the big boys and then off for more travel signing with the Indians, Astros and Brewers yet never making it back to the senior circuit, finally "retiring" in 2006.

His career fits the above definitions of a shadow very well.

"Big Z" reaches 100

Carlos Alberto Zambrano of the Chicago Cubs reached victory 100 last night ! Now I know that his 100 wins is over shadowed by Randy Johnson reaching 300 wins earlier this week but the Cubs and Zambrano should celebrate just a little bit.

Zambrano becomes only the fourth Chicago Cub pitcher in the last fifty years to reach that plateau with the club; thats right he is now in the company of HOF'r Ferguson Jenkins, soon to be HOF'r Greg Maddux and the powerful Rick Reuschel as the only Cub pitchers in the modern era to garner 100 wins wearing Cubbie Blue.

Zambrano also hit his franchise record 18th career homerun to help the Cubs win 2 - 1 while allowing only 2 hits through 6 2 /3 innings. He celebrated his 28th birthday last week; comes off his suspension, hits a homerun, pitches a gem and then announces he "wants to retire when his current contract expires" in 2012.

It bothers me that after a strong performance on the mound (and at the plate), reaching a minor milestone (100 wins is minor in the overall scheme of things) this three time all-star and two time silver slugger awardee is bombarded with questions concerning reaching 300 wins. I guess that is the state of the game these days - the constant comparison and pressure to achieve stratosphere status. Zambrano makes $ 16 million this year, will make upwards of $ 50 million more by the time his contract runs out . . . why should he even contemplate pitching after he turns 32 ? ! He is the state of the game - play hard, play to win, play with emotion and energy, get paid buckets of money and "retire" !

I like to celebrate "little" things like; a beautiful Florida sunset, an unsolicited hug or "I love you" from my daughter, finding an extra $ 20 in my pocket, receiving a bubble mailer with baseball cards from the mail box, and a Chicago Cub pitcher reaching 100 wins !

Congratulations "Big Z", this Cubs fan wants you to pitch strong, hard and win as many more games as you can. Never mind personal milestones, lets get the World Series Ring . . . then you can "retire".

Thursday, June 4, 2009

the greatest singles hitter of his time

the title of this blog might conjure up names like Cobb, Carew, Boggs or Ichiro but as great as they all were the hitter I am referring to has incomparable stats.

Have you ever heard of a young man named Kosman ? Maybe yes, maybe no. Well you should, he batted .929 his first year of organized ball and .893 his second year with only 1 extra base hit. That is right, I said nine twenty nine and eight ninety three. Ok, wait a second, truth be told it was in t-ball and this youngster was only six and seven years old, but who cares, his batting average is the highest I have ever seen anywhere.

He was promoted to the minors in 2007 and Kosman settled back to reality by hitting .327 and .382 the next two years respectively. With only two extra base hits out of his 38 minor league safeties, he just might be the greatest singles hitter of his time.

Before he could even swing a bat this year, 2009, an off season mishap with a trampoline has sidelined him a bit. A broken arm may slow this kid down but his coaches and trainers are sure he will continue where he left off; hitting singles when he gains his full strength back.

Thanks to his Dad, Paul of Wrigley Wax "little" Kosman will be a star for a long time. Keep hitting singles Sean, the record books await !

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I was on the radio today

I will try to make this short story long (or is it the other way around ?).

For starters, I dealt blackjack (yes I am a "professional" blackjack dealer) at a charity event this past weekend and on Monday I sent an email to the party planner / guy who hired me to say how well I thought the event was run and that I appreciated being involved. On the bottom of my email, as some of you may have noticed, is a tag line (signature) that promotes my blog (this blog that you are reading).

Unbeknownst to me this guy also does a sports talk radio show on AM 1490 in the Sarasota, Bradenton area from 5 - 7 pm on Wednesday called "Out of Bounds". He noticed my signature and called me to see what my blog was all about and then asked me if I wanted to be on the radio as a guest to talk about my collection and the Cubs. Naturally I said yes. This might be a good time to say that I have been told I have a face for radio - sorry for that old joke.

So this evening at 6:30 pm I called as instructed and was his guest for about ten minutes talking baseball, the 1969 Chicago Cubs and baseball cards. For me, this was exciting.

I think I did well (that is according to the two people who listened to me, my wife and daughter) since he did call me after his show was done and thanked me for being on. He also invited me back to talk "anytime". That only means he likes me or is desperate for guests. I would like to think that I did ok for my first time on the air.

The bulk of our conversation was about the cornerstone of my collection; the Cubs of 1969 pennant and the cards from 1970 that are framed, but he also asked me about the "Bartman" incident and our hopes for this year. He even plugged my blog on air !

I hardly doubt this will turn into anything regular but it was fun to be on the radio today.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Afro, Sideburn and Mustache

three words that could describe 1974 perfectly:


One of the most knowledgeable and generous Cub bloggers around, Paul at Wrigley Wax sent me the complete Topps 1974 team set of the Chicago Cubs. Twenty-seven cards which also include the Jerry Morales in a Padre uniform # 258 and Rookie Infielder Bill Madlock # 600.

However, the three cards that stand out to me are the Afro (Jose Cardenal # 185), Sideburn (Randy Hundley # 319) and Mustache (Bob Locker # 62). Those were the days . . .

Thank you Paul for the complete set and bringing me back to 1974.

Moyer gets win # 250

Congratulations to Jamie Moyer for earning his 250th win today . . . some of us remember a younger Moyer wearing the big red "C" on his blue cap and pitching for the Chicago Cubs.

Moyers' major league debut AND first victory was on June 16, 1986 against the Philadelphia Phillies. Interesting enough win # 250 on May 31, 2008 he is wearing the colors of the Phillies.

You have come so far and it all started in Chicago . . . Congratulations Jamie Moyer !

Sunday, May 31, 2009

An interview on cardboard

As I was putting the finishing touches on the 1991 binder for my daughter I came across this card which caught my attention at first and after a bit of research warranted this post.

This 1991 UpperDeck of Dave Smith #704, depicts him sitting casually on a folding chair doing an interview for WBBM NewsRadio. He has a half smile, his shoes are untied, has a cup of water (I am guessing) and just seems to be his normal "likable" self.

The interviewer has his finger pointing at Smith, as if he might have just said "good answer", is wearing argyle socks and what look like velcro shoes (or slippers).

The back of this card can be deemed fair at best. Only five of his eleven years of stats appear and the horizontal photo of his almost release shows a good two finger grip and grimace on his face but UD 1991 was not known for their card backs (nor the fronts for that matter either).

This card intrigued me because I remember Smith as a "bust-out" for the Cubs in 1991 and 1992 (going 0 - 6 with 17 saves while earning over $ 2 million a year) and was amused at the "interview" being portrayed on the card.

Smith did have several "great" years as a member of the Houston Astro's from 1980 - 1990. A two-time All-Star ('86 and '90) Smith is number two on the Astro all-time save list with 199 career saves. His change-up was once unhittable and he was voted onto the All Astro Dome team in 1999 upon the closing of that stadium. Smith had then gone on to coach for the San Diego Padres for several years.

The sad part about this is that Dave Smith passed away from a sudden heart attack in December 2008 at the very young age of 53. I still like this unique card and wonder what questions would have been asked if one only knew how short his life would be.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Baseball's Book of First's

I just bought this book as titled: Baseball's Book of Firsts.

An immediate qualifier is needed. I was at the book store looking for a high school graduation present for my most favorite teenager (other than my own daughter) and prior to checking out I stumbled by a bargain bin. As any baseball card show goer knows, we stop at all bargain bins anywhere and everywhere and lo and behold I found this most interesting book.

This book is NOT a novel of any sort, it has more space allocated to the photos than words and is filled with little appreciated "facts" describing more than 150 of baseball firsts. My kind of book.

A historical presentation as many of baseball's first were prior to the turn of the 20th century but author Lloyd Johnson does a very nice job of bringing in many "modern" day firsts as well.

There are only three chapters: 1 - Players; 2 - Leagues and Teams; 3 - The Game.

A couple of interesting (at least to me) firsts are:

The first Manager to endorse a nutrient drink ? answer: Charles Comisky in the 1880's as he led the St Louis Browns to four straight pennants with this unknown secret clubhouse drink.

The first player to wear his birthday on his back ? answer: Carlos May in 1968 wore uniform # 17 (his birthday is May 17).

The first player to wear a batting helmet ? answer: Willie Wells, a Negro League Hall of Fame shortstop, put on a miners helmet in 1905 to protect himself as he was known to lean his upper body (and head) directly over the plate in the strike zone.

This book has so many tidbits of baseball lore (firsts) that I just could not pass it up as I headed to the check out line. A bargain bin book purchase find at $ 1.99 was a baseball first for me.

Two returns in one week

I start this post warning everyone that it has little to do with baseball cards and much to do about "nothing" (I say "nothing" sarcastically). It has been quite a week . . . for me.

It all started last Sunday, May 25 when my daughter returned to the USA from her almost one year in Finland. She left August 2, 2008 participating in the Rotary Youth Exchange program for high school students and after ten months of emails, IM's, Skype and old fashioned letter writing the HUGS we got at the airport at 6:25 pm last Sunday will be cherished forever. As our only child, we missed her terribly.

Jennifer, endured the cold and dark yet remarkable country of Finland. She attend the local University in Kuopio, stayed with four different families, traveled to Amsterdam, Paris, Sweden, Lapland and the Canary Islands and you all can read about her adventure if you so choose Jenny's Journal from Finland If any of you have children in high school, I highly recommend contacting your local Rotary club to get more information about this extraordinary program for your teenager.

This week has been a wonderful "reunion" with family and friends who all want to see Jennifer and more importantly for my wife and I getting to know our worldly and beautiful daughter all over again.

Monday was Memorial Day. We "celebrated and honored" our veterans which culminated with a red, white and blue food fest at our home with friends.

On Tuesday, after a day of rest and unpacking I gave my daughter her binder of 1991 baseball cards (thank you to the many bloggers who sent cards) and she was quite impressed. Her favorite color is yellow so naturally the 1991 Fleer is her "favorite" and she wants the complete set now. Though I acquired only about 100 cards, I may just have to spend $5 (or less) to buy the complete set for her. She also loves the "inappropriate" 1991 Score Dream Team and the 1991 Studio cards. She will never really be into collecting or really interested in baseball but she does like the color yellow and "cute guys".

Wednesday and Thursday were your non-descript regular weekdays though we are continuing to learn all about Jennifers year in Kuopio (the small town she lived in for ten months, five hours north of Helsinki).

Friday, my daughters bestest girlfriends threw her a party and all these teenagers had a wonderful get together; swimming, hot tub, food galore, silly string and laughter. A real nice reunion for my daughter who got to see so many she had missed.
Today is Saturday and my favorite teenager (besides my daughter) is graduating high school. She is a cancer survivor and my hero. I am so proud of her and is my motivation to continue participating in the ACS's Relay for Life for the rest of my life. Kimberly is a Harry Potter and now Twilight groupie, a lego, rubik cube and jigsaw puzzle genius, a superb photographer and has graduated with honors. Kimmy you are my hero !

and finally tomorrow, Sunday, will be here soon and I just heard that the re-broadcast of Ken Burns' Baseball will be on tv again. I remember watching this 18 1/2 hour historical and emotional mini-series in 1994 when it first premiered and highly recommend to any and all of you. It is not a highlight film of all the greatest moments in baseball; however it is the story of how our favorite game became our national pastime and is all about the personalities and "life" of baseball from the beginning.

So, for me, what a week it is: from my daughters return to the return of a Baseball classic . . .

Friday, May 29, 2009

Night(Owl) hits another homerun

as generous bloggers go NIGHT OWL is right up there with the best of them.

A surprise package arrived in my mailbox a few days back (actually on May 16 my birthday, though Greg did not know that). I was extremely pleased to find this bubble mailer / surprise birthday present filled with Cubs cards galore.

Some of my favorites include the Sammy Sosa Christmas 2000 card (second from left in top row with red bow), the 2008 Goudey Kosuke Fukudome Rookie card (fourth card in top row) and two 1992 BCM cards depicting the 1970 style of Matt Williams and the Astro Rookie Stars; Bowen and Juden (fifth and sixth cards second row) .

I have to admit that since my scanner has not been working recently and my camera skills are less than adequate the above does not reflect the true appreciation of what was sent. Over 25 cards from 2008 Heritage to 1988 mini to to 1997 Pinnacle to 2009 UD. A great selection.

As birthday surprises go, it was the best. Thank you Night Owl !

Thursday, May 28, 2009

my Bad(Wax) Luck

in honor of a quarter million hits, BadWax held a rather random contest a few weeks back. Anyone could leave a comment and had to indicate the exact hit number we were at the time of our comment and share our most favorite post. In shear luck and randomness I won.

My luck and a most generous award was sent to me; the entire base set of the 2008 Allen & Ginter's includng SP's (350 cards) as well as the 50 state cards. Naturally I was and still am shocked yet very pleased.
This first picture showcases 11 inches of A & G (I was going to title this post "the 11 inch gift" but opted not to). These cards for those who are not familiar are an extra thick off-white card stock depicting artwork of every player.

A few of my favorite horizontal cards are the "Babe Ruth HR point" of Jim Thome, "leading off" of Ryan Braun, the "bat behind the back stretch" of Justin Morneau and the "airborne catch" of Eric Byrnes.

Most of the cards are actually the vertical style like "why are my eyes glancing to the left" from Greg Maddux, "in full gear" Jason Varitek and a nice "look over my shoulder" Edwin Encarnacion.

This set is extra special for a number of reasons and one of those are the non-baseball cards within the set. Such as top row of: Pablo Picaso, Jeff King (of Iditarod fame), Benjamin Franklin
and the bottom row of Billy Mitchell (Pac-Man champion), Joey Chestnut (hot dog eating champ) and Frank Morris (Rubik Cube fame).

A & G also had several sub-sets and one of the most popular are the state cards of which BadWax included. These cards are of even a heavier card stock than the base set and boast of a player from each state.
Three of special note are: Illinois - Curtis Granderson (I lived in Illinois for 42 years); Florida - Lastings Milledge (currently live in Florida) and Alaska - Curt Shilling (I never knew Alaska even had baseball).

This set is now going into a special binder, centered in my binder shelf and will be forever treasured as a most special set from a most generous "quarter million" blogger. Thank you BadWax !

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

two "special" cards

for those of you who know me probably know I am a Cubs fan and prefer "vintage" cards to the "modern" cards (though I am a quiet Rays fan since I live the Tampa Bay area called Sarasota and am slowly coming around to appreciate some newer cards)

That being said, two cards came to me from Jim at GCRL that are worthy of a "special" designation. First of all they came from a very generous blogger and that always makes a card special - thank you again, Jim.

Secondly, both of these cards are Dodgers; ok true, not my favorite team by a long shot but coming from a Dodger fan makes them special as well. Many of us get flooded with cards of our favorite team's so when cards come from the senders favorite team, it should be noted as "special".

Probably not as important as the two reasons above but both of these cards are what I have termed as a "Clemente-ism" (look at some previous posts under my irregular special feature onthe right, if you need a explanation of what I mean).

This 1978 Steve Garvey # 350 showcases his batting average at the end of the '77 campaign at exactly .300 !

And this 1986 Steve Yeager # 32 after fourteen years as a Dodger has his total career homeruns at exactly 100 !

You will have to believe me because I purposely did not show the backs of these cards in hopes that some of you might look at your own collections and see if you can find any other "Clemente-isms", just to designate them "special" too.

And finally these two cards are special because they are Steve's . . . and anyone with the first name Steve in my book is "special".

Monday, May 18, 2009

a Motor City trade

a couple of weeks back an email came across my path from a reader of my blog who was looking for some "vintage" Detroit Tiger card. Communication went back and forth a few times and a trade was easily agreed upon.

So, I sent out a handful of Tiger cards from the years 1966, 68, 71 and a Rusty Staub from 1979 any Tiger fan should appreciate (vintage or otherwise). In return I got a bunch of Cubs cards ranging in year from 1961 to 1975 including 5 cards from 1970 which is helping me put together another team set.

A couple of my other favorites are the "floating head" team photo from 1972 and the 1973 Batting Leaders with HOF'rs Billy Williams and Rod Carew.

This mystery reader also looked at my want list and included three Topps All-Star cards I needed; a 1966 Marcelino Lopez of the Angels # 155, a 1972 Chris Chambliss of the Indians # 142 and the 1973 Jon Matlack of the Mets # 55.
I really like readers of our blogs who make trades, regardless of whether they have blogs or not. Everyone participates in this blogging world in different ways and I only hope the cards I sent are finding their new home as friendly and safe as my new cards are. Thank you Tiger Fan.