1956 Topps: Old Folks, Shanty, Yatcha And Dee

This post was going to be all about four 1956 Topps commons, and sharing a little bit about the players, but as I looked into them, almost all of them had interesting nicknames, so I’m focusing more on that.

Ellis “Old Folks” Kinder apparently got his name from the fact that he was 31 years old when he broke in with the Browns in 1946, and was 34 when he had his most success, going 23-6 with 6 shutouts for the 1949 Red Sox.

1956 Topps Ellis Kinder
The blank jersey in the “action shot” appears to be due to Kinder changing teams in the offseason, as the Cardinals got him on waivers from the Red Sox.  His time with the Cards would be short, as he’d get lost on waivers to the White Sox that July.

To a child of the 1970’s like myself, Jim Hegan will always be the father of 1B/OF Mike Hegan… But Hegan was well-known as an outstanding defensive catcher who caught three no-hitters and made five all-Star teams.
1956 Topps Jim Hegan
His nickname was “Shanty” for reasons I wasn’t able to determine.

Johnny Logan’s nickname was the one that initially grabbed my attention:  “Yatcha”.  Apparently it’s a bastardization of a Russian phrase used to quiet him down as a small child.
1956 Topps Johnny Logan
“Fiery”, “hard-nosed” and “scrappy” are ways I’ve seen Logan described.  I think that gives a pretty good impression of the guy.

Dee Fondy is the only player in this post to lack a nickname, but there’s another description of him that I found as interesting:  “Fleet first baseman”.  That’s not a description one hears very often.  Sure enough, he finished in the top 10 in stolen bases five times, and his 20 SB’s in 1954 was third in the league.
1956 Topps Dee Fondy
Dee wasn’t even a nickname, that was his legal first name.  I’m going to retroactively call him “No-nickname Fondy”.


It Just Seems Like A Day For Random Cards

I had a themed post ready for today, but I just didn’t feel like posting it.  Today seems more like a “random cards” sort of day, whaddaya think?

I’m slowly working through a wax box of 1992 Stadium Club Series 3… It didn’t start out slow, I enjoyed the heck out of it for a while… but it’s’ a 300 card series and a 540-card box, halfway through the box I hit the “doubles wall”.

This card might be the one I’ve enjoyed most, mainly for the “What the what?!?” factor.  Kirk Gibson… with the Bucs????
1992 Stadium Club Kirk Gibson
Gibson was with the Royals in 1991, got traded to the Pirates early in 1992 Spring Training, but only played 16 games for Pittsburgh before getting released.  Batting below the Mendoza Line will do that to a guy.

Also from 1992 is this O-Pee-Chee Premier card of Ozzie Smith… Familiar player, familiar team, but in this case unfamiliar set (to most, anyway).
1992 OPC Premier Ozzie Smith

Kellogg’s Keith Hernandez from 1981.
1981 Kelloggs Keith Hernandez
In 1979 and 1980, the Cardinals put the “TV numbers” on the uniform sleeves so that it wouldn’t take away from the beautiful chain-stitched birds-on-a-bat logo.  This photo gives a good demonstration of why that look only lasted two seasons.

It’s been a while since I posted a 1956 Topps card…
1956 Topps Ray Jablonski
As with pretty much all of the 1956’s in my collection, it was cheap, it had a good action shot, it was 1956, I bought it.

Remember when Chris Davis rookie cards would set you back a few bucks?  I’d been wanting to buy this Heritage High #’s card for a while, but it was always too expensive for my budget.  That’s not the case now, so I struck while the iron was… um… cold.
2008 Heritage Hi Numbers Chris Davis

This past Friday was “Force Friday” for those who are into Star Wars merch.  I hear that this is what happened to retailers who didn’t comply with “Force Friday”:
1977 Topps Star Wars #237

I think this post might need one more card… What do you say, one more card?
1975 Hostess Tony Oliva

Finally, on Saturday I posted about a PWE from Shoebox Legends, but inadvertently left out one of the cooler parts of the PWE… the stamp!
Jimi Hendrix stamp postmarked

I love a cool stamp when it comes along, it goes back to high school when I spent a couple of years collecting stamps (contrary to the general perception at the time that I was a nerd).

I appreciate the hell out of Jimi’s guitar skills, but I’ll admit I’m not much of a Hendrix fan… guess I’m not experienced, nor have I ever been experienced.  That’s not to say I don’t love me some Hendrix, just not the Hendrix that most other people love…

Favorite Hendrix songs:
Manic Depression
Crosstown Traffic

Favorite Hendrix covers:
Voodoo Child (Slight Return) – Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble (from the album “Couldn’t Stand The Weather”)
Hey, Joe – Buckwheat Zydeco (from the album “On Track”)

Favorite Hendrix parody:
Holidaze (S’cuze Me, I’ve Got Gifts To Buy) – Bob Rivers (from the album “More Twisted Christmas”)

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.

My New “Oldest Doubles” And Other 1956 Topps

Up until recently, the oldest “doubles” I’d ever had were a pair of 1963 Topps Marv Throneberry cards, one of those deals where I bought a card at a show and then got home and found out that I already had it.

One thing about buying from COMC is that it makes screwing up so much more efficient… I got both of these cards in the same COMC order…
1956 Topps Eddie Yost in duplicate
…and didn’t realize it until after the cards had shipped. Completely my fault, nothing to do with COMC, please continue to buy cards from that fine website (especially my cards).

The majority of the 1956 cards I got were all of the same category: “affordable commons that I bought solely because of the visual appeal — usually the action shot”.

This Roy Sievers card was one I saw on someone else’s blog and said “Oooh, gotta get me one!”
…I wish I could remember whose blog it was…
1956 Topps Roy Sievers
Roy Sievers was the 1949 AL Rookie Of the Year, was an all-star four times, lead the AL with 42 homers and 114 RBI in 1957 and his nickname was “Squirrel”.

Ruben Gomez was one of the first Puerto Ricans in the Majors.
1956 Topps Ruben Gomez
I love the fact that this pitcher’s action shot shows him legging it out to first.  It’s not entirely uncalled for… He batted .300 in 1955 (18 for 60).

Sammy White was the Red Sox starting catcher for most of the 1950’s, and was an All-Star in 1953.
1956 Topps Sammy White
White scored three times in one inning in a game against the Tigers on 6/18/53. He had two singles and a walk in the bottom of the 7th, as the Sox scored 17 runs off three Tigers pitchers.

Wayne Terwilliger played 9 years in the Majors with the Cubs, Dodgers, Senators, Giants and A’s…
1956 Topps Wayne Terwilliger
…but what’s really interesting about him is a career in baseball that spans seven decades. He started in the minors in 1948, and between playing, managing and coaching he spent 62 years in professional baseball, finishing as a first base coach for the independent minor league Ft. Worth Cats in 2010.

An interesting sign of how much I’ve come to enjoy the 1956 set is the fact that I’ve got nearly as many cards from 1956 as from the rest of the 1950’s – Topps, Bowman and Red Man – combined.  There’s a very good chance that 1956 will take the lead with the next show I attend.

I’ve Never Been Good About Holiday-Themed Posts…

…So I’m not going to do one.  You’re a strong person, I’m sure you’ll find the strength to deal with this particular setback.

I am going to show off a few of the 1956 Topps cards I got on Black Friday.  I’ll admit, that I know little-to-nothing about the guys on these cards, I bought them solely because they were cheap and attractive.

…I mean the cards.  Whether or not the players themselves were cheap and attractive is something I won’t address here.

1956 Topps Leroy Powell

Wow, we struck “fascinating background” paydirt with the first card!  Bob Powell – Topps mistakenly called him by his middle name – was a “bonus baby” out of Michigan State in 1955.  As his signing bonus was greater than $4000, it meant that he had to spend 2 years on the 25-man roster… But as the White Sox were a contending team at the time, and the manager liked to go with veterans, he stayed on the bench the whole season, except for one pinch-running appearance in September.  Frustrated at his lack of opportunity, he asked the White Sox to allow him to fulfill his military obligation in 1956.  In 1957 he faced the same obstacles, and again had one pinch running appearance before he asked the Chisox to give him his release.  Before too much longer he gave up on baseball and became a civil engineer.

This is Bob Powell’s one and only baseball card.

In trying to find information on “Leroy Powell”, I found a band called Leroy Powell and the Messengers, and they ain’t half bad.  Here’s a song called “Slow Train”, you can listen to it while I get on to the other cards…

Update on 12/28/13: I removed the embedded YouTube video because I think it was causing problems with my blogroll feed. Sorry for any confusion.

1956 Topps Bill Sarni

Bill Sarni was the Cardinals’ primary catcher in 1954 and 1955.  During the 1956 season, he was traded to the New York Giants in a deal that involved nine players, three of whom would later manage in the Majors:  Red Schoendienst, Alvin Dark and Whitey Lockman.

Sarni suffered a heart attack in Spring Training of 1957, which effectively ended his playing career.

1956 Topps Frank House

Frank House caught 580 games, mainly between 1954 and 1959.  He finished his career with an impressive 47% caught stealing percentage.  In 1948, he signed out of high school for $75,000, which was one of he biggest signing bonuses of that time.

1956 Topps Gene Freese

Gene Freese was a well-traveled third baseman, playing for 6 teams over 12 years.  He started for the Pirates, White Sox and Reds, and also played for the Phillies, Cardinals and Astros.

Freese passed away this past June at the age of 79.

1956 Topps Gene Woodling

Gene Woodling played for 17 years in the majors and batted over .300 five times.  He’s possibly best known for his time with the Yankees, and won five straight World Series with them from 1949 to 1953.  He finished out his career in 1962 with the Mets — because the early Mets were always happy to acquire former Yankee/Dodger/Giant players.

Merry Christmas, everybody!


Hobie… Hobie Landrith! King Of The Wild Frontier!

Broke into the majors with Cincinnati
Traded to the Orioles for Throneberry
Went to the same school as Steve Garvey
Hit for the cycle when he was only three

Hobie… Hobie Landrith!  King Of The Wild Frontier!

The above piece of… whatever… is to celebrate the fact that I picked up two Hobie Landrith cards from COMC on Black Friday.

…and I took a few – *ahem* – liberties in writing the lyrics above… Oh, the things one does to get a verse to rhyme!

The first Hobie Landrith card I picked up is this 1962 featuring a hatless Hobie in a Giants jersey.  More importantly, it’s a card I needed for my 1962 Mets team set.

1962 Topps Hobie Landrith

Hobie was the Mets’ first pick in the 1961 expansion draft, was the starting catcher in the first-ever Mets game and he hit the game-winning homer in the Mets first victory.

He didn’t last long in – I almost said he didn’t last long in Flushing, but Shea Stadium was still two years away – he didn’t last long in the Polo Grounds because he was traded to the Orioles in June as the Player To Be Named Later in the trade that got the Mets…

….drumroll please….


1963 Topps Marv Throneberry

Getting  back to Hobie Landrith – whose first name is Hobart, in case you were wondering – I got this card:

1956 Topps Hobie Landrith

…as part of my plan to buy up affordable and cool-looking commons from the 1956 Topps set.  I’ll be sharing more of these 1956’s before too long.

For those of you scratching your heads over the beginning of this post, I’ll clarify a few things…

Both Hobie Landrith and Steve Garvey played baseball for Michigan State University;  needless to say, it wasn’t at the same time.

Hobie Landrith did not really hit for the cycle when he was three.

…and the whole goofy theme to this post comes from the song “The Ballad Of Davy Crockett” (link for the YouTube video here)

…But I can’t share that song without also featuring They Might Be Giants’ version, “The Ballad Of Davy Crockett (In Outer Space)” (link for the YouTube video here)

Update on 12/28/13:  I had to replace the embedded videos with links, because it was screwing up my blog’s feed (used by blogrolls and such) something awful.  Sorry for the inconvenience.


Nothin’ From Nothin’ Leaves Nothin’

This post has nothin’ to do with nothin’… Just like the last post, I’m trying something here, trying to figure out why this highly respected and much beloved blog will not appear in blogrolls.

1956 Topps Bobby Hofman

Bobby Hofman was a New York Giant who was used mainly as a pinch hitter and utility guy. I bought this at a recent show because it’s a cool 1956 common, and I like 1956 and I can afford commons.

1976 SSPC: #243 Gorman Thomas (And Three Pitchers I Wish Gorman Thomas Had Faced)

1976 SSPC #243 Gorman ThomasHi, I’m Gorman Thomas!  You may remember me from… A 13-year Major League career that included twice leading the AL in homers, playing in the 1982 World Series and being named to the A.L. All-Star team in 1981.

‘Round here, folks call me:  Stormin’ Gorman.

In 1976, Gorman Thomas… played himself into spending 1977 in Spokane.  Perhaps his limited playing time kept him from getting into a groove, but in 267 plate appearances he batted .198 with 6 homers and 36 RBI.  Fortunately for him, he’d later turn it around.

So… take your time… and tell me… Is it Shea?  As cool of a portrait as this is, there’s no way to know where it was taken.
1976 SSPC #243 Gorman Thomas back

I can’t believe it never occurred to me that… had things gone a little differently, Gorman Thomas could’ve batted against Thomas Gorman. How cool would that have been?

During the 1980’s, the Mets had a pitcher named Tom Gorman… but since Tom Gorman never pitched in the A.L. and Gorman Thomas never played in the N.L., we never got that matchup. Pity… It would’ve made an excellent 1980’s Fleer combo card.

What’s even more interesting is that there have been three Major League pitchers named Thomas Gorman.

The first Tom Gorman pitched in 4 games for the 1939 New York Giants. He’d never pitch in the majors again, but would later switch to umpiring and was an N.L. Umpire from 1951 to 1977.

1984 Fifth National Convention #1 - Tom Gorman UMP - Courtesy of COMC.com

1984 Fifth National Convention #1 – Tom Gorman UMP – Courtesy of COMC.com

The second Tom Gorman pitched from 1952 to 1959, first with the Yankees and later with the Athletics. He pitched in the 1952 and 1953 World Series.

1956 Topps #246 - Tom Gorman - Courtesy of COMC.com

1956 Topps #246 – Tom Gorman – Courtesy of COMC.com

Finally, the third Tom Gorman pitched from 1981 to 1987, mainly with the Mets but also with the Expos, Phillies and Padres.

1985 Topps Tom Gorman
When I started writing this particular entry, I didn’t expect it to be more about Tom Gorman(s) than Gorman Thomas, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

My first (sorta) Player Collection: Luke Walker

In 1975 the Mets were my team, but for reasons my 2012 self still doesn’t fully understand, I also liked the Pirates.

Best guess I have these days is that I liked the uniforms.  I still like the uniforms, and I’m not sure how I got into my 40’s without owning one of those gold & black Pirates hats.  Somewhere in my accumulation of junk is a portfolio from the 1970’s which had sports drawings and you were able to color them yourself;  all of the baseball players are either colored with blue and orange or with black and yellow.  There was some sort of weird thing going on with me, which I can only explain as “I was a kid”.

In 1974, I also pulled this card from a pack:

I don’t know if I pulled this card before or after the “base” Luke Walker card, because I didn’t really pay much attention to Luke Walker until I pulled this card:

…So here I am, my collection numbers in the hundreds and easily fits in a single box, and I’ve got three cards of the same player.  I was so excited that I went and showed my mother.  The part that amuses me the most these days is my telling her, “I know he’s good because I’ve heard of him!”

At one point in my adult years, I thought back on this memory and said to myself, “Yeeeeeeaaahhhhh, I don’t think I’d ever heard of him”.  At that point I realized that I might’ve had him confused with this guy

Rube Walker was the pitching coach for the Mets at the time, so I would’ve been hearing his name regularly and it’s very likely I got the two confused.

Because of a childhood misconception, I’ve been buying Luke Walker cards as I’ve come across them.  I’d assumed I had all his cards, but I recently found out that I’m missing at least a few  cards;  1966 Topps, 1968 Topps, 1971 Topps Super, 1975 Topps Mini and 1971 ARCO Pittsburgh Pirates (a set I know almost nothing about).  I’ll do my best to rectify this at the next show I go to.

In researching this post, I found out that I may have a second player collection in the works… there’s a minor league hockey player named Luke Walker.  I don’t believe he’s shown up on an NHL card yet, but I will be keeping an eye on that guy.