Fashionably Late COMC Black Friday #1: Baseball And Non-Sport

Now that everybody else has posted the cards they got from COMC during the Black Friday promotion, it’s my turn.  I just wanted to, you know, be polite and let everybody else go first.

Circumstances worked towards limiting my purchasing this time around.  I was a bit short on credit and a lot short on enthusiasm… You see, the promotion came right at the beginning of my bout of despair over the bloatedness and disorganization of my collection.  When you’re anguished over the state of your collection, it takes a lot of the wind out of “WTF” purchases.

…Which is not to say I didn’t get some cool stuff, just that I didn’t get as much stuff as usual.

Anyway, we’ll start and finish with a pair of non-sports cards I was particularly happy to get, and fill the middle in with baseball cards from 1970 and 2016.

First off is a card I’ve been meaning to get for quite a while; this card is from the 1953 Topps License Plates set.
1953-topps-license-plates-new-york
These cards are smaller than standard, but they’re less small than I, for some reason, thought they were. They’re the standard 3.5″ wide, but only about 1.75″ high. I don’t see myself getting more than one or two of these, but I figured I should at least get a card representing the state in which my first three cars were registered.  I’m over 50 years old, but Black and orange NY plates like this are well before my time… They were blue with orange characters when I was a wee small child, orange with blue in the 1970’s into the 1980’s and then went through a number of changes after that involving white, blue and the Statue Of Liberty.

Here’s the back.  As everybody knows, the capital of New York State is ynablA.
1953-topps-license-plates-new-york-back

I got a little curious about how much some of the stats on the back have changed over the past 63 years.  According to a US Census Bureau article I found from 2 years ago, NY State’s population was 19.7 million and fell to 4th in the list of most-populous states (behind California, Texas and Florida).  From a NYS DMV report from 2015, I found that the number of non-commercial vehicles for just New York City and Long Island is close to 4 million.  Statewide totals are close to 9.4 million.

Isn’t that fun?

OK, enough blathering about the license plate.  You’re looking for baseball, right?  I’ll start off with two 1970 cards… advance warning:  I don’t have much to say about these  two.

Blue Moon Odom, water towers and the sleeveless 1968 Oakland Athletics uniform… Although this is possibly the A’s wearing the previous year’s uniforms in 1969 spring training.

1970-topps-john-odom

Matty Alou, a batting cage and that weird Pirates cap where the “P” is part a patch instead of embroidered directly on to the cap.

1970-topps-matty-alou

If you compare to “Alou” here with “Albany” on the license plate card back, you’ll see that they’re both the same font:  “Koffee”, for those keeping score at home.

One of my objectives on Black Friday was to get at least one card from the online exclusive 2016 Topps Archives Snapshots set. These cards intrigued me, I wasn’t quite sure what was going on with them. Like the regular Archives set, the photos are a mix of current and retired players. Unlike regular archives, these are meant to look sort of like a hand-labeled photo. I found this Michael Conforto for 44 cents, a price I couldn’t say ‘no’ to.
2016-topps-archives-snapshots-michael-conforto
The photo is very high-res, but there’s not a whole lot about the card that is extraordinary. I think the retired players might be a lot more appealing to me… I’ve got an eye on the Oscar Gamble card which appears to feature the same photo used on his 1974 card.

The back is…largely superfluous. Well, that might be harsh. The back is the back. That’s a better way to put it.
2016-topps-archives-snapshots-michael-conforto-back
Better than Panini but not winning any awards.

Another “dip my toe in the water” card was this 2016 Bowman “Turn Two” insert.  On the front of this card is Orioles pitching prospect Hunter Harvey, who’s also the son of former pitcher Bryan Harvey.
2016-bowman-turn-two-hunter-harvey
Here’s the side that’s technically the back; you can tell because it’s got the card number and legalese.  D.J. Stewart was the O’s 1st round pick from 2015.
2016-bowman-turn-two-dj-stewart

D.J. stands for Demetrius Jerome.

Wrapping things up with the second non-sports card…

Topps issued a Star Trek set in 1976. During that year, I loved cards, I loved Star Trek, and it’s very clear to me that I never saw a single pack of these cards because there is absolutely no way I wouldn’t have bought at least one pack.

1976-topps-star-trek-the-phaser-tomorrows-weapon

C’mon, I bought a couple of packs of “Welcome Back, Kotter” cards that same year. I wouldn’t spurn Spock for Arnold Horshack. (But I am amusing myself by picturing Spock holding his arm up and going “Ooh! Ooh! Mistah Kottah!  Mistah Kottah!”)

Yes, the Phaser is not yesterday’s weapon, it’s not today’s weapon, it’s tomorrow’s weapon. Make sure you’ve got that memorized, there’s a quiz on Friday.
1976-topps-star-trek-the-phaser-tomorrows-weapon-back

I’m somewhat intrigued by the text at the bottom:  “Be sure to watch for the new Star Trek full length motion picture”.  In 1976, that motion picture was still 3 years away… and wasn’t worth waiting 3 years for.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the holy hell out of it on opening night, but quickly realized that this excitement was almost completely fulfilled anticipation and very little having to do with the movie itself.  I saw it again a couple of months later in a second-run theater, and realized that it really was not a good movie.

So, that’s the first of three batches from COMC;  the other two are not what you’d normally expect from a baseball card blog written by someone in the U.S., and I’ll leave it at that for now.

My First “Rails And Sails” Card, Plus a “Train” Playlist

I had all kinds of hobbies when I was younger, and model trains was (sort of) one of them.  I say “sort of” because I loved to make plans of what my train layout would be like, I read magazines like Railroad Model Craftsman, I dreamed on my ideal  layout… but when push came to shove, I never did anything other than temporarily set up the tracks and play with my trains.

Similarly, I’ve always been semi-intrigued by the 1955 Topps “Rails And Sails” set… not so much the “sails” part, and I wasn’t really that interested in the cards that featured tank cars or refrigerator cars or cabooses or steam locomotives… Which pretty much means I’m only interested in the diesel locomotives.  Well, at a show a year ago (the “Forgotten Show”, for those who read my last post), I found this card, which may well end up being the only card I get from this set.

1955-topps-rails-and-sails-21

But if I’m only getting one, this is a fine one to get.  Here’s the back.

1955-topps-rails-and-sails-21-back

I don’t have a whole lot else to say about this, so I’ll fill out the rest of the post with a playlist consisting of songs about trains, subways and all things which ride on rails.

5:15 – The Who
500x (The Train Song) – Sara Hickman
A Poem On The Underground Wall – Simon and Garfunkel
Betting On Trains – Hem
Big Train (From Memphis) – John Fogerty
Canadian Railroad Trilogy – Gordon Lightfoot
Chattanooga Choo Choo – Glenn Miller
Choo Choo Ch’Boogie – Louis Jordan
Don’t Sleep In The Subway – Petula Clark
Engine 999 – The Hooters
Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash
I Often Dream Of Trains – Robyn Hitchcock
If Love Was a Train – Michelle Shocked
I’ll Be Your Train – Health and Happiness Show
Kiss the Train – Sun-60
Last Train Home – Pat Metheny Group
Last Train To London – Electric Light Orchestra
Last Train – Travis
Long Train Runnin’ – The Doobie Brothers
Love Train – The O’Jays
Midnight Train To Georgia – Gladys Knight and The Pips
Midnight Train – One Plus Two
My Turn Train – Henry Lee Summer
Night Train – Oscar Peterson Trio
Night Train – Let’s Active (not the same song as the previous one)
One After 909 – The Beatles
Pain Train – The Guess Who
Peace Train – Cat Stevens
Railroad – The Zutons
Spanish Train – Chris deBurgh
Take the “A” Train – Duke Ellington and His Orchestra
The Blue Train – Linda Ronstadt
The El – Rhett Miller
Marrakesh Express – Crosby Stills and Nash
The Metro – Berlin
The Train Kept A Rollin’ – Aerosmith
The Train Song – Eddie From Ohio
The Uptown Train – Joe Jackson
Train in the Distance – Paul Simon
Train In Vain – The Clash
Train, Train – Blackfoot
Trains and Boats and Planes – Fountains Of Wayne (I like their version better than Dionne Warwick’s original)
Underground – Men At Work

Honorable mention (because I don’t like these songs quite enough and it’s my playlist):
Casey Jones – Grateful Dead
City Of New Orleans – Arlo Guthrie
Downbound Train – Bruce Springsteen
Hey, Porter – Johnny Cash
Orange Blossom Special – Johnny Cash
Son of an Engineer – Cowboy Mouth
Steel Rail Blues – Gordon Lightfoot
Texas and Pacific – Louis Jordan
Trans-Europe Express – Kraftwerk

I know there are countless songs that would also qualify… Hell, you could probably make a full playlist of train songs by Johnny Cash… But feel free to mention any of your favorites.

Culture Time: “A Goldsmith In His Shop” (This *IS* Baseball Related. Trust Me.)

I have a desk calendar from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  I’d had some thoughts that it wouldn’t hurt for me to get all cultured up in 2016.

Yesterday’s calendar page featured this detail of a 15th century painting by Petrus Christus called “A Goldsmith In His Shop”:

petrus-christus-goldsmith-in-his-shop-dec-1-2016

My immediate reaction upon seeing the goldsmith (in red):  “Heh, it’s Justin Verlander!”

The woman on the left might be a 15th century Kate Upton, saying “Verily, kind goldsmith, thou didst get shafted in that Cy Young voting most foul!”

…and the gentleman in back is thinking “Sorry, dude… but  I would’ve given the Cy to Zach Britton…”

To further broaden your cultural horizons, I would like to share some additional examples of fine art…

This first piece is by R.G. Laughlin and is titled “Mets Amaze Baseball World”.
1971-fleer-world-series-mets-orioles
This, so far, is the only card I have from the 1971 Fleer World Series set. You can easily tell the difference between the 1970 and 1971 sets by the MLB logo and year on the card (1971), rather than the year inside a baseball (1970).

Next up is a fine example of portraiture by Dick Perez, circa 1983.
1983-donruss-jim-palmer-dk
Perez was well known during that period for his series of popular “Diamond Kings” paintings.

Of the finer paintings commissioned by Topps in 2002 is this Ron Stark painting of Frank Robinson from his time with the Cincinnati Reds:
2002-topps-gallery-frank-robinson
If the entire 2002 Topps Gallery set were like this, I would be enthusiastically working on a complete set, but too many of the paintings were full-length action shots which kind of minimize the appeal of paintings as opposed to photographs.

This final painting, one by Richard Sudell, was acquired not for it’s baseball connection, but for it’s relevance to a particular episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus (as well as the “Monty Python’s Previous Record” LP).

It’s from the 50-card “Garden Flowers” series created by Wills’ Cigarettes in 1939… It’s one of the oldest trading cards I own… and it features…

LUPINS!
1939-willss-garden-flowers-lupin
If you’re not into Monty Python, this will likely result in a shrug on your part.

If you are a fan of Python, then join in as I sing…
Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore, Riding through the night
Soon every lupin in the land will be in his mighty hand
He steals them from the rich, and gives them to the poor
Mister Moore! Lupin donor… Extra-or…….dinary

And with that, we conclude this edition of Culture Time. Don’t you feel so much better for the experience?

That’s what I thought.

Inspired By Cyber Monday:  More 1961 Topps Sports Cars

Late on Cyber Monday, I capped off my COMC shopping spree by inching closer to a complete set of 1961 Topps Sports Cars, an all-time favorite non-sports set of mine… And from reactions I’ve gotten when I’ve shared these in the past, many of you enjoy these cards as well.

Of course, those cards I just bought haven’t even been packed up and shipped out yet… But it made me realize that it’s been quite a while since I shared any of those cards here.  So, without any further ado, here are several 1961 Sports Cars which I got earlier this year.

My Maserati does one-eighty-five
I lost my license, now I don’t drive
– Joe Walsh, “Life’s Been Good”
1961-topps-sports-cars-maserati-200-si
This Maserati put out 190 horsepower, according to the specs on the back.  My Mazda has nearly that much… but I’m guessing the weight-to-horsepower ratio of the Maserati is a lot more impressive.

The back of this next card mentions this Mercedes winning a world championship in 1955. Unmentioned is the fact that a 300 SLR was involved in one of the most horrific accidents in motorsports history… Something I knew nothing about until I researched this post.
1961-topps-sports-cars-mercedes-benz-300slr
I won’t get into the details – you can find information easily enough by searching on “1955 Le Mans disaster” – but an accident during the 24 Hours Of Le Mans resulted in the death of the driver and over 80 spectators, plus 120 injuries. Mercedes dropped out of direct involvement with racing for over 30 years. Switzerland banned auto racing, something that still stands today.

The specs listed for this Moretti coupe state that it had 45 horsepower and a top speed of 65 MPH… I guess maybe it was one of those situations like they say where it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than to drive a fast car slow.
1961-topps-sports-cars-moretti
The card back also refers to the car being “quite small” and “expensive for its size”. For me, “Moretti” makes me think of a character from the now-cancelled TV show “Perception”; Rachael Leigh Cook played an FBI agent named Kate Moretti.  At 5’2″, she could also be considered quite small, but I don’t know whether she’s expensive for her size.

In a prior post featuring these cards, someone asked if there were any American cars featured.  The answer is “Yes, but not many”.  Here’s one of them, the Corvette “Stingray” concept.
1961-topps-sports-cars-chevrolet-corvette-stingray

…although the card itself doesn’t reference it as a concept, just that “1961 model road Corvettes look a bit like this car”.

As for the small number of American cars in this set, I would guess that a large reason was that Topps wanted to keep things exotic.  Even the two Corvettes included were the above concept and a racing version.  I also don’t think there were a lot of American cars of the day which would qualify as sports cars.  The Ford Thunderbird could have been one.  Other than that, I’m not sure.  Keep in mind that in 1961 was a few years before Mustangs, Camaros and GTO’s were introduced.

 

I Get All Of My Dinosaurs From COMC!

…Well, I get my 2015 Upper Deck Dinosaurs from COMC… because I haven’t been able to find them anywhere else.

Like a lot of kids, I was fascinated by dinosaurs… I’m not sure how many other kids were like me and wanted to be an archaeologist when they grew up, though.  So when I read the series of posts on Nachos Grande where he opened a box of 2015 Upper Deck Dinosaurs, I was excited.  I would’ve freaked out about this set if it came out when I was a kid.

I wanted some of my own… but could not find packs or boxes anywhere.  It didn’t get sold in retail stores.  I didn’t see it in the couple of hobby stores I went into.  I even tried a science museum… Yes, a SCIENCE MUSEUM.  No luck at all.

Since I don’t feel the need to collect the whole set, I figured I’d get my fix by buying a couple of cards from COMC, and I focused on some of the dinosaurs I knew from childhood (as opposed to some of the one’s I’d not heard of like Spinophorosaurus or Compsognathus).

…Although even if I wasn’t familiar with Allosaurus, I would’ve gotten this card. This is easily my favorite of all the cards I’ve seen so far.
2015 Upper Deck Dinosaurs Allosaurus

The back of the cards features the same image, with some write-up text.
2015 Upper Deck Dinosaurs Allosaurus back

I also got the Stegosaurus card…
2015 Upper Deck Dinosaurs Stegosaurus

…as well as the Ankylosaurus. All three of these are dinosaurs that I used to have as small, brightly-colored figures when I was a kid.
2015 Upper Deck Dinosaurs Ankylosaurus

Because it’s a 21st century card set, there are short prints, sketch cards, minis, 3-D cards and other inserts, but right now all I have is these three base cards.

Does anyone else enjoy these cards? Has anyone found individual packs for sale anywhere, even if it was a card store?