During last weekend’s show I was looking at one dealer’s tables full of vintage cards, one of which had a small quantity of moderately-creased and tabless Red Man cards on display.
Red Man cards occupy an odd little niche in my collection. The sets were issued from 1952 to 1955 so they predate my Mets, partially predate my Orioles, and have little overlap with my various player collections.
…But dammit, I just love the way these cards look, so while I don’t have much in the way of obvious or defined collecting goals involving these sets, I gleefully acquire any relatively cheap commons I stumble upon, regardless of who’s depicted on them.
Getting back to the show, I looked through the Red Man cards the dealer had and bought three New York Giants, a team which my mother rooted for until they left for the West Coast (which was some eight years before I was born, so her Giants fandom is something I’d only been told about). The three cards I bought were $1 each, a nice price even in lesser condition.
Towards the end of the day when I was reviewing my scribbled notes on which dealers to go back to if I had time and or money, I got to the scribble about the dealer with the Red Man cards and a voice in my head (sounding suspiciously like Redd Foxx) said “Don’t be a dummy, dummy!”
I heeded the voice and went back and bought the other five commons in his stock.
To give you an idea of how little it mattered to me which players were on these cards, on the way home I tried to do a mental inventory of the Red Man cards I bought and all I could come up with was “Three New York Giants, two cards of Ferris Fain… and three other guys”. The only reason I remembered Ferris Fain was because there were two different cards of his. Today I’ll feature those two Ferris Fain cards plus a couple of others, and save the remaining Red Man cards for a later post.
Ferris Fain was a first baseman from 1947 to 1955, a five-time All-Star and a two-time batting champion, batting .344 in 1951 and .327 in 1952. His career .424 on-base percentage ranks 14th all time, ahead of Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Jackie Robinson, Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera, among others. He’s also name-dropped in the song “Van Lingle Mungo”.
Don Mueller played most of his career with the New York Giants, was an All-Star in 1954 and 1955, and lead the N.L. with 212 hits in 1954. He also narrowly lost the batting crown to teammate Willie Mays that year (.345 for Mays, .342 for Mueller). Mueller batted.389 in the 1954 World Series, where the Giants swept the Indians.
Here’s something to chew on… Mueller’s card mentions that in 1953 he had the fewest strikeouts in the league with 13 in 460 at bats. Unless I missed someone while scanning the MLB.com’s sortable stats, the fewest strikeouts for a batter with at least 460 at bats in 2016 was Joe Panik with 47 K’s in 464 AB’s.
The batter with the most K’s in the Majors in 1953 was the Cardinals’ Steve Bilko with 125. Khris Davis already has more (126) this year. Yikes.
Jim Delsing was a centerfielder who wielded an exceptional glove but would eventually be replaced in center by a young Al Kaline.
As I mentioned, I’ve got four more Red Man cards at the show, but I’m going to leave them for another time, and get to some of my other acquisitions first.