I Gave Some Thought To Collecting The 1963 Fleer Set…

Why not go after 1963 Fleer? It’s a cool vintage set that is only 66 cards (67 if you include the checklist) and could be considered an “oddball”. I’ve already completed the Mets team set, and I’d featured it a year ago.

But then I look at the cards that command bigger prices… Clemente, Koufax, Mays, Gibson, Yastrzemski, Drysdale, Spahn, the Maury Wills rookie, the short-printed Joe Adcock, and I think “Ehhh… Maybe completing the set isn’t that important to me…”.

That doesn’t mean I can’t “collect” it like I collect 1956 Topps… Buy any cheap cards I can find, and leave it at that.

Here are the 4 non-Mets cards that are in my 1963 Fleer collection:

For a guy who was a 4-time All Star and a 7-time Gold Glove winner, Vic Power often gets  overlooked… Possibly because his career looks like a tour of small-market teams. Kansas City, Cleveland, Minnesota are the three cities where he put in the most time.
1963 Fleer Vic Power

Ron Hansen is one of those guys where I didn’t realize I had multiple cards of  his until I put all the pieces together.  “Oh, wait, this is the same guy who’s with the Senators on my 1968 card, and with the White Sox on my 1970 card and with the Yankees on my 1971 card…
1963 Fleer Ron Hansen
He’s also the winner of the 1960 A.L. Rookie Of The Year award.

Tito Francona was an All-Star in 1961, lead the league in doubles in 1960 and is the father of Terry Francona, but I frankly bought the card because I love the photo.
1963 Fleer Tito Francona
It sounds impressive to say that Tito Francona finished second in 1956 Rookie Of The Year voting… except that Luis Aparicio got 22 of the possible 24 votes, while Tito and Rocky Colavito each got one vote. Hey, it’s still second.

His full name is John Patsy Francona. “Patsy”? Maybe it’s his mother’s maiden name? “Patsy” makes me think of King Arthur’s trusty “steed” (played by Terry Gilliam wielding two halves of a coconut shell) in Monty Python & The Holy Grail.  It also reminds me of the episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show where Rob has to explain to his son Richie why his middle name is “Rosebud”.

I could talk about Milt Pappas winning 150 games before turning 30, or for being traded to the Reds for Frank Robinson, but I’ll leave you with just one fact:
1963 Fleer Milt Pappas
He was born Milton Stephen Pappastediodis.

It makes one wonder if Jarrod Saltalamacchia were born 50 years earlier, would we know him as “Jed Salt”?

“Hot Stove” Custom – Joe Mauer Modeling The Twins’ New Home Unis

Two weeks ago, the Twins unveiled their new home uniforms and whenever new uniforms are modeled by a current player, there’s going to be a “Hot Stove” custom made of it.

2014-15 TSR Hot Stove #3 Joe Mauer
Just to be absolutely clear, unlike the majority of “Hot Stove” customs I make, Joe Mauer’s image has not been altered. All I did was to remove him from the original background, put him against a generic faux-3D background and make a custom card out of him.

I was mildly disappointed in these uniforms. I’d heard in advance that they’d be losing the pinstripes and adding gold to the trim, but this almost strikes me as change for change’s sake. It’s not better or worse, it’s just different. The gold trim is subtle… almost too subtle. You can’t even see it in this custom, and I don’t know how much it’s going to show up in general. The gold looks fine on the sleeves, OK on the chest wordmark and like crap on the cap logo.

Aside from removing pinstripes and adding gold trim, the uniform no longer has the player’s number on the front and the word “Twins” is now navy instead of red (although the “win” part of the word is still underlined).

This has nothin’ to do with nothin’, but recent news stories about the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Belin Wall reminded me that “Mauer” is a German word for “wall”… as in “Die Berliner Mauer”.

Off Topic: Looking For A Current Comic To Read

I recently read that Marvel is going to put the Fantastic Four comic on hiatus in 2015.
1992 Impel Marvel Fantastic Four

I loved the FF as a kid, and when I got back into comics 20-or-so years ago, the FF was one of the first titles I picked up. I’ve been reading it ever since.

…So when I saw that the plug is being pulled, even temporarily, on this title that I’ve put so much time into, my reaction to the announcement was a hearty “Oh, thank God!”.

You weren’t expecting that, were you?

Jonathan Hickman’s recent run was decent, but for the most part the FF has been dull and uninspired for years.  Marvel seems to have no clue what to do with the Fantastic Four… or perhaps don’t want to do anything interesting with the FF being that the movie rights to the Fantastic Four reside elsewhere.

Removing FF from my pull list is the easy decision… the hard part is replacing it. I look through the racks, I scan through Previews magazine and there’s very little that jumps out at me.

This is where you come in… Hopefully…  Are any of you reading an ongoing title that you’re particularly fond of?

I’ll give you an idea of what I’m looking for:

  • I appreciate both writing and artwork, but great writing seems to be harder to find these days.
  • I don’t care for the supernatural, especially vampires, zombies or magic.
  • Comics that are violent just for violence’s sake don’t hold my interest.
  • No major crossover events.

Giving my money to a company other than Marvel or DC would be a definite plus.

What I’m currently enjoying: Astro City, Daredevil

Older titles I’ve enjoyed:  Alias/The Pulse, Promethea, Casanova, Strangers In Paradise, Marvels (Busiek/Ross), Rex Mundi, The Ostrander run of Martian Manhunter.

Current Titles I used to like at one point but no longer do: Powers, Savage Dragon.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Four From 1956: Cards I Forgot To Post

In looking for existing scans for an upcoming post, I ran across four images of 1956 cards I picked up two years ago and had never featured here… What an a terrible squandering of bloggy resources!

And since I wasn’t sure what I was going to post today, I’ll make up for lost time.

In this past year I found out that there are three notable Roger Craigs, and not just the two that I thought there were. Notable Roger Craig #1 is the former original 1962 Met who also pitched for the Dodgers and managed the Giants & Padres:
1956 Topps Roger Craig

Notable Roger Craig #2 is the San Francisco 49ers running back who won three Super Bowls with a little bit of help from Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, et. al.

Notable Roger Craig #3 is a former “Jeopardy!” champion who set the highest single-game total and the largest “True Daily Double” bet… A True Daily Double is when you wager everything you’ve got, rather than the more typical one or two thousand. Roger Craig is apparently well-known for True Daily Doubles, as I’ve seen people say things like “I’m going to Roger Craig it!”

…I should do a custom “Jeopardy!” set sometime…

Just like Roger Craig, there are two notable Frank Thomases… The Big Hurt and the “original Frank Thomas”, the guy who played from 1951 to 1966, was a three-time All-Star, an original 1962 Met, and also put in a number of years with the Pirates and other teams.
1956 Topps Frank Thomas

Gus Triandos is 12th on the All-Time Orioles Home Run list. His 142 ranks just above Nick Markakis (141). Hopefully Nick, who is a free agent, will be back to pass Gus. No offense, Gus.
1956 Topps Gus Triandos
It just occurred to me… Markakis passing Triandos… How excited would Baltimore’s Greek-American community get over that one?

For the record, the top 15 are: Cal, Eddie, Boog, Brooks, Palmeiro, Brady Anderson, Kenny Singleton, Frank Robinson, Andrew Jones, Melvin Mora, Chris Hoiles, Gus, Nick, Paul Blair and Jim Gentile.

I knew nothing about Jim Wilson before buying this card. How’s this for a “fun fact”: In 1955, Jim Wilson lead the A.L. with 18 losses… and was an All-Star.
1956 Topps Jim Wilson
Wilson was a All-Star three years in a row, and it appears that he represented three different teams… Milwaukee Braves in 1954, Orioles in 1955 and he was an All-Star in 1956 when he started the season in Baltimore and got traded to the White Sox on May 21st, so I presume that he was an All-Star with the White Sox.

Contrast & Compare: 1979 Burger King Beniquez & Tiant

I thought it might be good to share some real cards after two straight days of customs.

1979 and 1980 Burger King cards are among my recent obsessions…  Well, I’ve come to obsess over any baseball card from the 1970’s, it’s just a matter of degree…  But anyway…

Just like with 1977 O-Pee-Chee baseball, I only collect the cards that have different images and aren’t just the original Topps card with a different number.  Today I’m sharing two cards like that from the 1979 Burger King Yankees set, starting with Juan Beniquez:
1979 BK Juan Beniquez

Juan Beniquez came to the Yankees in a blockbuster deal with the Rangers on November 10, 1978:  Beniquez, Dave Righetti (I always forget he started in the Rangers organization), Paul Mirabella, Mike Griffin and Greg Jemison for Sparky Lyle, Mike Heath, Dave Rajsich, Domingo Ramos, Larry McCall and cash.

Just under a year later, the Yankees traded Beniquez to the Mariners.

Here’s the Topps Beniquez:
1979 Topps Juan Beniquez

Luis Tiant came to the Yankees as – how else? – a free agent.
1979 BK Luis Tiant

Although he was 38 in his first season with the Yankees, he went 13-8 with a 3.91 ERA. Here’s the Topps equivalent:
1979 Topps Luis Tiant
I was in the New York area at the time, so I don’t remember hearing about any Boston backlash towards El Tiante going from the Sox to the “freakin’ Yankees”, but I’m sure there must’ve been some.

Tiant spent two years in pinstripes and had an interesting career path. He won 20 games 4 times, twice lead the league in ERA and shutouts, but in 1969 he went 9-20 and lead the league in homers and walks. Most people think of the 8 years he spent with the Red Sox or the 6 with the Indians, but he also spent a year with the Twins and spent the end of his career hopping around between AAA and the Mexican League while making brief appearances with the Pirates and Angels. In between pitching for the Twins and Red Sox he sent a month at the beginning of 1971 pitching for the Braves AAA team. The Braves released him, the Bosox picked him up, he went 1-7, 4.91 in 1971 but turned it around in 1972 and lead the majors with a 1.91 ERA.

The Unplanned Custom Of Amber Orrange

I was watching the news the other day, paying only slight attention to the story about the end of the UConn women’s basketball team’s 47-game winning streak, and they mentioned the key role played by Stanford senior Amber Orrange.

That caught my attention.  “Did you just say Amber Orange?”, I asked my TV.  “What a great name!”

It appears that Amber’s surname was mispronounced on the news program I was watching, and it should be pronounced “orr-ANJH”. No matter, it’s still a great name, and it inspired me to make a quickie custom based on the 1957-58 Topps Basketball set:
1957 topps basketball Amber Orrange
Orrange tied the game up with a 3-pointer with 1.4 seconds left in regulation time, and scored the go-ahead points in overtime as Stanford beat UConn 88-86.

I don’t collect basketball cards, but there’s something about the colorful simplicity of that 1957-58 design that just speaks to me. I’d like to get a card of my own, but it seems to be a truly rare set, so I may have trouble finding one cheap enough for me.

Have any of you bought a card solely for the design? How about buying an album just for the cover?

“Hot Stove” Custom: J-Hey Takes His Bat To St. Louis

For some reason, I thought it was going to be a quiet week, and was all prepared to share a custom that highlighted the Twins’ new home uniform.

On Sunday night I felt like messing around with Paint Shop Pro, so I started work on an Adam Lind custom, being the arguably biggest name to move at that point. Heck, I even thought about making a Tommy LaStella custom.

Then we had a sudden surge of news… The Blue Jays signed Russell Martin, and the Braves traded Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden to the Cardinals for Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins. For whatever reason, I was more artistically inspired by J-Hey than by Russell Martin, Shelby Miller and the others, so…
2014-15 TSR Hot Stove #4 Jason Heyward
Which is not to say that I won’t do customs of the other guys, but I gotta go where my muse takes me.

I always forget to point out, for the benefit of first-time visitors, that these custom cards are made to give a “sneak preview” of the 2015 baseball season, and they are based on the 1974 Kellogg’s 3-D set.

For this custom, I had to “clone-out” the Braves script and piping, add some Cardinals script (which came from a photo of Matt Carpenter, FWIW), and play some games with the cap.  I’m not completely happy with the cap, but the rest turned out well enough.  Towards the end I gave brief thought to making his wristband red, but at that point I’d already spent too much time on this as compared to time I should’ve spent on my real life to-do list.

I didn’t give much thought to the uniform # I “assigned” to Heyward;  I just took the “1” from Matt Carpenter’s 13 and duplicated it into 11.  Don’t tell 3rd base coach Jose Oquendo that I gave his number away.

I have to admit, every time I type out “Jason Heyward”, part of my brain wants to type out “Justin Hayward”… Justin being a member of the Moody Blues, and band I’m quite fond of.