Down The Rabbit Hole With A 1977 TCMA Minor League Card

A recent package from Nick of the World Famous Dime Boxes blog included a card which became my oldest minor league card, beating out my 1979 TCMA Jackson Mets team set (which I wrote about seven years ago).

Say ‘Hi’ to Carman Coppol from the 1977 TCMA Lynchburg Mets team set.

I admit, I never heard of Carman Coppol before this card came my way, but now that I know a little more about him, the more I like this card.

Before I get into that, here’s the back of this card:

Carman Coppol was drafted in the 31st round out of Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. I’m just familiar enough with E-Town to know it’s a Division III school, and I’m here to tell you that if you played D3 ball in the Mid-Atlantic, that playing professionally is, in and of itself, a pretty damn big accomplishment.

Coppol pitched three seasons in the Mets system and peaked in A-ball. According to the E-Town Blue Jays website, Coppol was inducted into E-Town’s Ira R. Herr Athletic Hall Of Fame in 1993. He was also named to the Middle Atlantic Conference’s Century Team (1974-1986 division) for baseball. Poking around that list of the best 82 baseball players from this D3 conference, I saw a couple of names that made it to the majors and another name that made me stop and Google in another direction.

That name that added to my research time was Lafayette College’s Jim Van Der Beek, which got me thinking “Wait… James Van Der Beek? Dawson’s Creek, Varsity Blues… THAT James Van Der Beek?” Sadly, I then realized that Lafayette’s Jim Van Der Beek falls into the 1912 – 1973 category, which would make Jim too old to play “Dawson”… But the actor is James Van Der Beek Jr., so maybe this Jim VDB is James Sr? …mayyyyyyyyybe….? At this point I’d already spent far too much time on what had been meant as a quick single-card post, so I’ll leave it to you to figure that out, if you want to.

The two legitimate names I recognized from the Century list were Messiah College’s Chris Heisey, who played with the Reds, Dodgers and Nationals…

…and Albright College’s Casey Lawrence, who pitched for the Blue Jays and Mariners, and is currently in Japan with the Hiroshima Carp.

One last guy who I thought would be on this list got me scurrying all over the internet. Gene Garber, who has over 200 MLB saves, is in the E-Town Sports HOF, is listed in several places as having gone to Elizabethtown High School and Elizabethtown College (as well has having grown up in a farm outside Elizabethtown)… and yet he is not part of that MAC Century team. How can this be?

I finally poked around enough that it dawned on me: Garber’s professional experience started in 1965, when he was 17 years old and continued until his age 40 season in 1988; however his E-Town College HOF page (such as it is) shows him as a member of the class of 1969. Garber must have attended college while pitching in the pros, so while he graduated from E-Town, he never pitched for E-Town. Even so… Graduating a four-year school in four years while playing professional baseball, that’s pretty damn impressive.

Since I wandered pretty far afield, my whole point here was that out of 82 best-of-the-century players from a D3 conference, I could only find two who had enough of a MLB career to appear on a card. I wouldn’t be surprised if I missed somebody, but it still underlines the fact that the deck is stacked against a player from one of these schools having a significant baseball career.

And now, getting back to the TCMA set – I *did* say up front that this was going down the rabbit hole – I took a peek at the checklist for the entire team, and there are some well-known names included: pitchers Neil Allen and Jeff Reardon and manager Jack Aker. Other names which jumped out at this 1970’s Mets fan are Butch Benton, Mario Ramirez (misspelled “Raminez” on his card), Randy Tate and Dave Von Ohlen.

So yes… quite a lot of research time coming out of one minor league card.

But before I go… A very big thank to Nick for sending me this card; he sent me many others (both in this package and in others I haven’t fully acknowledged), and I want him to know that they are all appreciated (just not publicly… yet)

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PWE Backlog #2: Autographs from CommishBob

There was a time when I posted here every single day.

Part of it is that I got more ambitious with posts as time went on – I’d have a serviceable post close to being ready, but then I’d get an idea to augment it, but augmenting it required research, scanning, finding cards to scan, etc. etc.

Admittedly, much of it is also lack of time and energy.

At any rate, because I’m generally behind on my posts, I’m waaaaay behind in my “acknowledging the generosity of my trading buddies” posts.

A while ago I got a package from CommishBob of The Five Tool Collector, and I didn’t quite get around to writing about it… Then I got another package, and I said “Well, maybe I’ll do the new one first, and then go back and do the first one”, and before I finish doing that, I received a PWE with three vintage cards in it. I’ve been able to Tweet my thanks, but I haven’t blogged about any of it.

The first autographed piece is what I imagine was a team-provided card for players to sign, and the autograph is for 1960’s Mets infielder Jerry Buchek.

Buchek was from St. Louis, signed with the hometown Cardinals, played with them for five years and got a hit for them in the 1964 World Series. He was traded to the Mets just before the 1967 season and would spend two years with the Mets. He was their primary 2nd baseman in 1967, but batted below the Mendoza line in 1968 and was used in more of a utility role.

I would have liked to have shared a Jerry Buchek card, but I don’t have any scanned, and I’m going to operate according to the teachings of that reknowned philosopher Larry The Cable Guy and just “Git ‘er done!”  As a result, you’ll just have to imagine Buchek’s head shot on a 1968 card.

More famous than Buchek is Bud Harrelson, a two-time All-Star, Gold Glove Winner and 1969 World Champion with the Miracle Mets.

Even if this were left unsigned, I’d love this piece. Mr. Met wasn’t as much of an on-field presence in the 1960’s as he is now, but as a cartoon character he was at his peak in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  I’ve been feeling the need to add more vintage Mr. Met pieces, and this is certainly an excellent way to add to that!

I also love how the boy obtaining the autograph has a similarly oversized and round head.

Unlike Jerry Buchek, I’ve got plenty of Bud images to chose from.

Wrapping up this trilogy of autographs is this very nice color 8 x 10 glossy photograph of Ed Kranepool, signed in gold Sharpie and with an inscription.

To the outside observer, Ed Kranepool was a decent player who was an All-Star in 1965 and played in two World Series (including 1969), but for many Mets fans he holds a special place in Mets history.  He started out as a 17-year-old local boy who debuted with the 1962 Mets and he played for the team his whole career, running up to 1979.  In the 1970’s he was THE MAN, the one player who had been on hand for nearly all of the team’s history, and for quite a while I was upset that the Mets hadn’t retired his #7 upon his retirement.  Kranepool once held a number of Mets career records;  most of them have since been eclipsed (generally by David Wright), but his 1,853 games played is still the Mets all-time record.

Many, many thanks go out to Bob for this oversized envelope which provided me several wide-eyed and sincere “wows” when opening it!  Bob, there’s a little bit of help for your 1971 Topps set build heading your way, but it’s just a drop in the Bucket O’ Appreciation I feel for your generosity!

 

How Many Countries Do I Have Cards From?

That’s a question I asked myself when I was finishing my previous post about a card from Germany. I asked it at the end of the post, but Fuji (of the World Famous Chronicles of Fuji) made a comment that he might do it as a blog post, I agreed that it deserved to be, and here I am doing my own.

This turned out to be a fun little exercise, and I’d love to see other people’s international collections, so let’s see if we can’t make this something of a Blog Bat Around.  If you do something similar, please post a link in the comments here so everybody can see what you’ve got.

Since, with the exception of two week-long trips to Canada, I’ve spent all of my life in the US, it’s not surprising that this list starts with…

1) UNITED STATES

This Gil Hodges card is, of course, from the 1965 Topps set.

2) CANADA

Sometime around the late 1970’s or early 1980’s, I bought a complete set of 1974-75 O-Pee-Chee WHA hockey for $10… Mainly because it was a cool oddball set.  To this day, it remains one of my favorite hockey sets..

3) MEXICO

I didn’t even think about Mexico until I remembered that I had one example of the 1977 Topps “Futbol Americano Profesional” set. I’m not clear if these cards were made in Mexico, but they were sold in Mexico so that’s good enough for me.

4) JAPAN

I’ve been intrigued by Japanese baseball since 1979 when I stumbled on a game on a UHF station outside of New York City. My Japanese collection isn’t going to impress anybody or pay for someone’s college tuition, but I enjoy it.

This card of Dwayne Hosey is from 1998 Calbee.

5) ENGLAND

Anglophile that I am, I have a few English cards;  mostly soccer, with some cigarette and tea cards… and Doctor Who as well. This card of a Rover BRM Le Mans is from the 1968 Brooke Bond “History Of The Motor Car” set.

6) SCOTLAND

I’m going with international sporting definitions of a country;  both Scotland and England are part of the United Kingdom, but I’m counting them separately.  This card is from the 1975/76 Topps Scottish Footballers set.

7) AUSTRALIA

It doesn’t get much more “stumbling across” than the way I stumbled across this card.  I was at a show and this card, from the 1978 Scanlens Victorian Football League set, was sitting on top of a dime box.  I had no idea what it was, but for a dime there was no argument that whether it was coming home with me.  Sadly, it was the only one of it’s kind I found.

8) GERMANY

When I featured the Sanella Margerine “Handbuch des Sports” card he other day, I forgot that it wasn’t my first German card;  I have this “Wer ist die schoenste Frau?” card from a cigarette card set that’s also from the 1930’s.  I originally wrote about this card over three years ago;  I still don’t know who she is.

9) SOUTH KOREA

I found out that Korean baseball cards were available on COMC, so I bought one just so I could say I have a Korean baseball card. This card features Shin Yung Song from the 2015 NtreevSoft Korean Baseball Organization set.

10) ITALY

I almost forgot that I had these 1992 Score Italian Soccer cards.  I don’t remember when or where I bought them, I only know I bought they because they were exotic (and, I’m sure, relatively cheap).

It’s not Trey Mancini or Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini or even Henry Mancini… It’s Roberto Mancini, who won  numerous championships as a player and is currently the manager of the Italian national team.

Since I’ve never featured one of these on the blog before, here’s the back:

11) SWEDEN

Swedish publisher Semic produced a hockey card set to commemorate the 1995 World Ice Hockey Championships, which were held in Stockholm that year.  I bought this card because I like Michal Pivonka, who played for the Capitals back when I still rooted for the Capitals.

12) THE NETHERLANDS (HOLLAND)

Back in the 1980’s I bought a pack of “Football Stars” cards which have long been a mystery to me.  I’ll write about the whole pack some other time, but they are blank-backed minis and I only know they’re from The Netherlands because the thin paper wrapper says “MADE AND PRINTED IN HOLLAND” on the back.  Since the front references the World Cup, and Germany’s Klaus Allofs only played in the 1986 World Cup, I’m assuming these cards are from 1986. They may well be some sort of “Broder”.


I have to admit that I didn’t expect to have twelve countries represented, but I’m often drawn to the unusual when it comes to collectibles, especially when it’s within my budget.

So, once again, I’d love to know what countries are represented in your collection; you can always just leave a comment here. This isn’t any kind of competition, there’s no award (real or imaginary) for having the most countries… I’m just curious and I’m sure others are as well.

1932-33 Sanella Margarine “Handbuch des Sports” – Curling

I’ve been meaning to share this for a while; It’s the latest addition and oldest card in my Curling card collection, a collection which has reached 11 cards.

This is from an early 1930’s German set called “Handbuch des Sports”, which literally translates to “Sports Handbook”. it was issued in 1932/33 and is printed on larger-than-standard, relatively thin stock. It’s similar to some of the “stamps” of the 1960’s in that it’s meant to be pasted into a book, but you provide your own adhesive. Interestingly enough, the “handbuch” is not just some soft-covered stamp album, it’s a hard-covered book with detailed writeups on many sports. I found this example from a Heritage Auctions lot.

From a North American standpoint, the highlight of the set is a card of Babe Ruth, but it also includes world famous athletes like boxer Max Schmeling and figure skater Sonja Henie, as well as a variety of sports like Polo, Cricket, Ice Hockey and most intriguing (to me, anyway), “Korbball”, which seems to be a sport similar to basketball or netball (on the off chance you’re familiar with netball).  Korbball is apparently specific to Germany.

I was excited to add to my small Curling collection, but unfortunately this card is about 2 3/4″ x 4 1/8″, which means it doesn’t go in the 9-pocket pages with the rest of the collection it now belongs to.  For the time being, it sits on my desk in an oversized toploader.

Here’s the back; Truth be told with this, it’s the old Germanic fonts which cause me more problems than the German language.

Aside from being able to add to my Curling collection, it’s fun to be able to add a collectible from another country.  Off the top of my head, I’ve got cards from seven different countries – eight if you count England and Scotland as separate countries, rather than being part of the UK.

Postcard Show!!! Part 3: The 1964 New York World’s Fair

When I was growing up my family lived in the suburbs of Long Island but all of my aunts, uncles and cousins lived in New York City… primarily in the borough of Queens. A couple of times a year we’d go into Queens for visits, and during all of the driving around I would see a lot of Queens landmarks from the back seat of our Pontiac Catalina. For the most part, the view was uninspiring, but there was one particular area, near where the Grand Central Parkway and Long Island Expressway meet, where the buidlings were noticeably different from anywhere else. I didn’t know what these odd structures were, but I mentally assigned them names like “The Capital T” and “the pies on stilts”. My parents said they were from The World’s Fair, but that didn’t really mean anything to me until I was older.

Much like “The City” refers to Manhattan in any part of metro New York, “The World’s Fair” refers specifically to the 1964 World’s Fair, which had been held in Queens on the same grounds as the 1939 World’s Fair. I attended the 1964 World’s Fair… technically speaking.  I was in a stroller and don’t remember any of it first-hand. Over the years, however, I’ve seen enough of the surviving bits of the fairgrounds to have developed a certain fascination with this international event.

For me, it goes beyond the actual physical remnants of that World’s Fair. I grew up fascinated by futuristic concepts, particularly that 1960’s idea of THE FUTURE… That Space Age-y “Tomorrowland” type of outlook which made us think that by the 21st century all of the buildings would be modular bubbles, and we’d be commuting in our flying cars and vacationing at orbiting space station resorts.


As much as the 1964 World’s Fair resonated with me, I’d never really collected anything connected to it.  It wasn’t until I was getting ready to leave my first postcard show (in 2017) that I I stumbled upon a postcard from the 1964 World’s Fair and made a mental note that when I came back next year I would make this something I’d look for the next time around (i.e. this most recent postcard show).  The postcard above, which shows the “Swiss Sky Ride”, was the first postcard I ran across.  Even though it didn’t represent anything that I personally remember or h ave a connection to, I decided to get it anyway just because it had that World’s Fair vibe and gave a good bird’s eye view.

The Unisphere, a stainless steel 140-foot globe, was used as the symbol of the World’s Fair, and has had more than it’s share of pop culture references, appearing in movies, music videos and on album covers.  Over the years it’s also become an unofficial but universal symbol of Queens.

Picking up these postcards has been something of an education for me. As a kid, I thought of the building in the next postcard as “The Capital Letter ‘T’” building because of it’s shape. When I got older I found out that it was a restaurant/catering hall called “Terrace On The Park”. However, it wasn’t until I saw this postcard that I found out…

…Holy crap, it was a HELIPORT?!?  As you can see in the photo, it’s labeled as the “Port Authority” building and was used to connect the World’s Fair to the airports.  I suppose it’s not surprising that I didn’t know its original purpose;  after the World’s Fair was over, there wasn’t a whole lot of need for people to fly their helicopter to this area.

This postcard features the New York State Pavilion from the World’s Fair. I find this the most interesting of the postcards.

The “Astro-View” observation towers on the left can easily be seen from the Grand Central Parkway are are what I thought of as the “pies on stilts”.  At nighttime there is (or was) a single red light on top of each, which made me think of a cherry on top of a pie.

The large colorful structure at the center of the card was called the “Tent Of Tomorrow”. I don’t remember ever seeing the colorful canopy shown here, I only remember cables suspended in a bicycle wheel pattern. The floor of the pavilion featured a giant road map of New York State.

The Pavilion was a key part of the movie “Men In Black”, appeared in the 1978 film “The Wiz” and was the location for They Might Be Giants’ “Don’t Let’s Start” video.

Sadly, the New York State Pavilion has fallen into disrepair and I’ve seen the word “ruins” used to describe it’s present state.

One last postcard features a landmark which was adjacent to the fairgrounds, used by the World’s Fair and shared the same kind of Space Age-y “1960’s Futuristic” visual design… Shea Stadium!

Shea was cutting-edge for the time;  the stands could be moved around into a football configuration (for the Jets) and the scoreboard was originally designed to allow for images to be projected on to a screen at the top.  The projected images ended up not working as hoped for, and the screen was replaced with Mets and Jets logos (anyone familiar with the Shea scoreboard should know what I mean).

The Mets did their share in promoting the World’s Fair;  they wore big patches on their left sleeves during the 1964 season.


That covers the World’s Fair postcards I got. I’d be satisfied leaving this collection as it is, given that I have at least one postcard of everything I would like to have a postcard of, but I’ll likely keep an eye out for others just to see if any caught my eye.

Does anybody else have memories of the 1964 World’s Fair or of what remains of it?

Striking Out In A New Direction

It all started on Twitter when Super 70s Sports made fun of this 1990 Kingpins card.

The Super 70’s Sports caption on this was “Amazingly, despite exciting stars such as this, pro bowling trading cards didn’t take off.”

I won’t deny that the card is worthwhile just for the awkwardness of it, but two thoughts popped in my head almost simultaneously:

1) I remember using scoring system consoles like the one in the photo.

2) I’ve been bowling in leagues for years, how is it that I don’t have any bowling cards?

I decided to go out to COMC to rectify the lack of bowling cards and found out that there aren’t a lot of options out there.

The 1990 Kingpins set, which featured members of the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA), seem to be the most common bowling cards available. I started out looking for interesting pictures and names I was familiar with… I don’t follow pro bowling, but my parents (also league bowlers in their day) used to watch the Pro Bowlers Tour on TV in the 1970’s, and I sure as heck remember Johnny Petraglia.

Petraglia is a member of the PBA Hall Of Fame, and as part of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the PBA, was named one of the 50 greatest bowlers from 1958 to 2008.

Just to give you a look at the back of the Kingpins cards, here’s the back of Petraglia’s card

When I was thinking of bowlers to search on, I thought of Chris Hardwick, the host of  TV shows like “Talking Dead” and “The Wall”; I knew his father had been a top bowler, and Chris Hardwick is no slouch himself, having hosted a web series called “Chris Hardwick’s All-Star Celebrity Bowling”.

So I searched on “Hardwick” and found his dad, Billy Hardwick.

Billy Hardwick was another bowler ranked in that same “50 greatest” list, and was twice named PBA Player of the year.

…But my bowling quest did not end there…

I found out there was at least one other American bowling card set, the 1973 PBA set.

This is Ernie Schlegel, who is also a member of the PBA HOF.

The 50 card set is a bit smaller than standard size. The front is full bleed and features a facsimile autograph.

The back is very rudimentary

These two sets seem to be the main targets of any bowling collection, but there are some other sets out there.  There’s a Japanese set – 2014 BBM “Fairies On The Lane” – which features women bowlers.  In searching COMC I discovered, very much to my surprise, there was an APBA bowling game in 1979.
1979 APBA Bowling 1978 - [Base] #MARO - Mark Roth - Courtesy of COMC.com

I’m not sure how a bowling game like this would even work.  I can’t imagine what kind of decisions would need to be made in a statistically-based game like this, other than whether to try to pick up the spare after getting a split.

At any rate, I don’t know how hard I’m going to chase bowling cards at this point… I would like to get at least one or two of those BBM cards, but I don’t see my bowling card collection going past one 9-pocket sheet.

Does anybody else have any bowling cards in their collections?

How The Metropolitan Museum Of Art Convinced Me To Buy My First 1953 Bowman Card

I’d never been much of a collector of 1950’s cards for much of my life. I could probably write an entire post just on that alone, but it gets summarized down to there being very little overlap between my collecting targets (teams, players, etc.) and the early-to-mid 1950’s.  My interest in these cards has increased somewhat over the past 5 years or so, but there’s still not a lot of specific cards on my wantlists.

Until…

OK, so I’m sure many of you are familiar with Jefferson Burdick… He was one of the pioneers of the hobby and later in his life he donated his enormous card collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The Met has scanned many of the cards in the Burdick Collection and have put the images on their website.

A few months ago during my lunch hour at work, I spent some time poking through the images and, for the heck of it, saving a number of images to my laptop for use in my wallpaper slideshow that’s always going on in the background. As these cards would appear on my laptop, I slowly came to realize how nice of a set 1953 Bowman Color is… and while the 1953 Bowman Pee Wee Reese is in a class by itself, most of the card images which lured me in were common cards which featured some fantastic photography… as well as fantastic fake action poses, fantastic uniforms and fantastic ballparks.  In this way I came to realize that 1953 Bowman had an appeal to me which had nothing to do with the players depicted and everything to do with the set providing a snapshot of baseball in the early 1950’s.

When I was getting ready for the card show I went to this past summer, I decided to look for some of the eye-catching commons from that set. Being the first time looking for these cards, I thought I’d limit my purchases to cards which were $2 and under. This turned out to be largely unrealistic, but I did find one card which met my financial goals:

For my purposes, this is the perfect vintage card: this card is in good condition save for the handwritten player name. The writing doesn’t interfere with the photo, but bumps the condition way down so that it falls within my collecting budget.  To be honest, if I had been a kid in 1953, I could see myself writing the player name on the front.  The one complaint I’ve always had about 1953 Bowman set (and the TCMA/SSPC sets inspired by it) is that you have to flip the card over to see who you’re looking at.

Speaking of flipping the card over…

Steve “Bud” Souchock played 8 years in the Majors, mostly with the Tigers.  Bud also earned a Bronze Star while serving three years in the military during World War II.

1953 Bowman will never be anything resembling a top priority for me, but I look forward to adding a number of commons to my collection while becoming more familiar with guys like Hoot Evers, Mickey Grasso and Gerry Staley.