I Do Not Know What A “Rheum” Is

I am so far behind in sharing my new acquisitions…


…I’m so far behind that I’ve almost caught up to myself. Every time I go to a show or order off COMC I scan all the vintage cards and some of the more interesting post-vintage things, but for the most part the scans just build up because I never get around to writing about them.

This post is the first attempt to catch up, and all three cards are of Don Zimmer in his post-Dodger playing days.

Don Zimmer got around a bit in the early 1960’s. Shortly before the start of the 1960 season, the Dodgers traded Zimmer to the Cubs for a package of players and cash. He stayed with the Cubs for two seasons before being drafted by the Mets in the October, 1961 expansion draft.

There techically aren’t any Mets in the 1962 Post set – I guess because they used photos from 1961 and didn’t do any airbrushing – but if you look at the last line of text on this card, you can see there are cards which reference the fact that the featured player was drafted by the Mets.

1962 Post Don Zimmer
The Gil Hodges card (which I don’t have) has a similar line on it.

One of the Mets’ objectives in putting together that first team was to obtain players who would be familiar to the New York baseball fan, and Zimmer certainly fell into that category. Despite that, he only played 14 games for the Mets before he was (mercifully?) traded to the Reds.

Zimmer finished 1962 in Cincinnati, but during the following winter was traded to the Dodgers for a minor leaguer.

Anyone care to guess whether these are Cubs pinstripes or Mets pinstripes on this Dodgers card?
1963 Topps Don Zimmer

His second stint in LA was short, because he was sold to the Senators that June. He’d finish out his major league career with 2.5 seasons in D.C., after which he played one very unspectacular season in Japan.

1964 Topps Don Zimmer

…and if you’re wondering what the subject line has to do with any of this…

…”Zimmer” is the German word for “room”… or “rheum”, if you prefer.

Are We Not Stars?: 1972 Cubs Rookie Stars

…Answering the age-old question, “Who are these guys?”

BTW, this is the rookie card for all three Cubs.
1972 Topps Cubs Rookies Hooton Hiser Stephenson

Burt Hooton

Burt Hooton pitched 15 seasons, mainly for the Cubs and Dodgers.  He threw a no-hitter in his first appearance of 1972… and right off the bat we can stop wondering about who the best player on this card is.   He pitched in three World Series, was an All-Star in 1981, and finished a distant 2nd to Gaylord Perry in the  1978 Cy Young Award voting.

Burt Hooton is currently the pitching coach for the Class A Fort Wayne Tin Caps

Gene Hiser
Gene Hiser played for the Cubs from 1971 to 1975, generally splitting time between the Majors and AAA.  The main exception to this pattern was 1973, where he played 100 games for the Cubbies despite a .174 batting average.

Hiser also appeared on a 1974 Topps card.

Earl Stephenson
Earl Stephenson wasn’t a star for the Cubs in 1972;  he didn’t even play for them that year.  Instead, he was traded to the Brewers, with Jim Lonborg, for Jose Cardenal.  After pitching a career-high 35 games, Stephenson was traded to the Phillies in a trade involving Lonborg (again), Ken Brett, and Don Money.
From 1973 to 1979, Stephenson was a mainstay in AAA, although he did make appearances with the Orioles in 1977 and 1978.

Closest To Being A Star:  One would be severely misguided to suggest that anyone but Burt Hooton is the closest to being a star.  The question could be put to rest after asking “Have any of you guys been on a Major League baseball card issued after 1974?”

Saved From The Purge: 1990 Upper Deck

I’ve recently been purging cards from Upper Deck sets of the 1990’s. With the exception of 1993 – which I bought as a hand-collated set back in ’93 – I’m pretty indifferent to these sets.  I’ve come to the conclusion that I am never going to try to complete these sets, so why hang on to Mike Henneman and Randy Ready?

…But there were several cards that I held on to even though they don’t fit into any of my conventional “needs”. Here are three action shots from 1990 Upper Deck that were cool enough to hang on to.

1990 Upper Deck Don Robinson

1990 Upper Deck Ron Oester

1990 Upper Deck Domingo Ramos

More Backs Of 1993 Leaf Cards

Over the past week or two I’ve been focusing my purging/organizing efforts on my Leaf cards. In the process, I found more 1993 Leaf cards, and I’ve got a better idea of where I stand with my new goal of collecting one of each cityscape found on the backs of the cards. We’ve got 4 more cities today…


1993 Leaf back Greg Hibbard


I’ve been to Toronto, so I know this is City Hall.
1993 Leaf back Juan Guzman


1993 Leaf back Cal Eldred


This is part of the National Aquarium in Baltimore… Doesn’t look like an aquarium, does it? If you’re in Baltimore, the Aquarium is definitely worth checking out. If you’re going to check it out, it’s definitely worth buying tickets in advance, even if it’s just a matter of buying tickets for later in the day… The wait can get pretty long on weekends.
1993 Leaf back Glenn Davis

Loria Purchases Mets, Holds Fire Sale, Moves Team To Sacramento

What would it take for me to stop being a Mets fan?

I started thinking about that after two other blogs made me think “If I weren’t a Mets fan, I could definitely see myself as a fan of the blanks“.

Wrigley Wax showed off 60 years of Cubs programs that got me thinking about the North Siders…

…and Tru School Sports got me thinking about the Rays.

Before I get into the teams I might get behind if I were no longer a fan of the Mets (or Orioles), I’m going to speculate what it would take to get me to stop being a Mets fan.

Some people would stop being a fan if their team left town, but I left town first and I live several hundred miles away, so that’s not really a factor.  I suppose if they moved out to the West Coast then games would start late at night for this East Coast boy, and I’d also have fewer chances to see them as the road team.  Sacramento is the largest west coast market without an MLB team, so I’ll pick on them for this exercise.

The Wilpons are not the greatest owners on the face of this Earth, but there’s always the “At least the Mets aren’t owned by Jeffrey Loria” factor… especially if the team holds a Marlins-style fire sale as part of the process.  Barring a clone of the late George Steinbrenner, this would be my greatest ownership fear.

Another nail in the coffin would be to get the uniforms designed by whomever it is at Nike who comes up with those constantly changing but unerringly fugly Oregon Ducks football uniforms.  I’m thinking black, silver, midnight green and blood red uniforms with chrome helmets.

Finally, to really drive me away, they’d have to pick some gimmicky name for the team like the SacTown RivvaHawkzz Of Sacramento.

OK, that was a lot of setup, let’s get to the main point… Which teams could I see myself being a fan of?

1)  Chicago Cubs
I gravitate towards underdogs, and from an underdog standpoint, are the Cubs really that much different from the Mets?

However, that’s not what makes me think it would be fun to be a Cubs fan.  It seems like the Cubs have always had a good relationship with their dedicated fanbase… Even if the on-field product is weak, they know how to treat the people who ultimately pay the bills.

1972 Topps Don Kessinger

There’s also those abso-freakin’-lutely beautiful program covers the Cubs had for three decades.

Not to mention Wrigley Field, known here as “Cadaco All-Star Baseball Field”.
Cadaco All Star Baseball

2)  Tampa Bay Rays

1979 Joe Maddon

I’ve mentioned that I like underdogs… So tell me what other team can, within the past 5 years,  have 5 straight winning seasons, play in a World Series, win the division twice and despite all that, still be underdogs?  Besides that, I just like the way they do business… They play the game right, run the team right, treat their few fans well.  What’s not to like?

3)  Minnesota Twins
1980 Topps Geoff Zahn

I’ve never been to Minnesota, but over the years it seems like a lot of players have taken less money to sign with the Twins, and that makes me think it must be a nice place to play… Plus I love the “TC” caps.

4)  Pittsburgh Pirates
1972 Topps Milt May
I’ve mentioned here numerous times before that I have a sort of mini-crush on the Pirates going back to childhood… And since I’m a Steelers fan, it wouldn’t be a stretch to switch to another Pittsburgh team… and unlike Minnesota, I’ve been to Pittsburgh.  Well, OK, fine… I drove through Pittsburgh.  Squirrel Hill Tunnel, baby!

5)  San Francisco Giants
1973 Topps Chris Speier

When I lived on Long Island, people would sometimes ask me what team I would’ve been a fan of had the Dodgers and Giants not left for the West Coast.  My answer has always been the Giants, mainly because my mother had been a Giants fan back in the day, and I just couldn’t picture myself as a Yankees or Dodgers fan.  It’s probably academic, because if the Dodgers & Giants hadn’t left town together, it was pretty likely that the Giants would’ve left by themselves, maybe to Minneapolis where their top farm team was in the 1950’s.  At any rate, I feel a tiny, tiny little connection to the Giants.

Honorable Mention:  I have friends who are fans of these teams, and through those friends I’ve seen the appeal of following these teams (in order by city):  Oakland Athletics, Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays

So, what about you?  What would it take for you to stop cheering for your current team? If your team were to suddenly become the SacTown RivvaHawkzz or the Buffalo Snow, what would you do?

1976 SSPC: #319 Steve Swisher (Cubs)

1976 SSPC #319 Steve Swisher
Hi, I’m Steve Swisher!  You may remember me from…
A 9-year career with the Cubs, Cardinals and Padres, as well as being the father of current player Nick Swisher.

In 1976, Steve Swisher… had a career year in that he set career highs in games, hits, runs and RBI… not to mention being named to the N.L. All-Star team!

This card is… Interesting.  I like the reflection of the foul lines in his glasses.  And while I know this was S.O.P. for the Cubs at the time, I like the embroidered “C” patch on the helmet and the uniform # written in the middle of the “C”.

Betcha didn’t know… Steve Swisher was traded for Ron Santo, Rollie Fingers and Gene Tenace — not at the same time, and other players were involved.

Cardboard History: Steve Swisher collectors take note:  This may very well be the coolest Steve Swisher card in existence!

1976 SSPC #319 Steve Swisher back

Another favorite song from 1976:
Aerosmith’s “Rocks” album was one I knew well growing up because my older brother owned it and played it all the time. For some reason, I didn’t get my own copy until about 10 years ago when I bought the CD… and I’d instantly regretted waiting that long because I’d forgotten how great this album is. According to Wikipedia, “Last Child” made it up to #21 on the Billboard charts.

The SSPC set: 1975 or 1976?

One thing that’s bugged me for a long time, and especially since I bought my haul of SSPC cards, is what to call the main 630-card set. Is it 1975 SSPC or 1976 SSPC? As Shawn Spencer on “Psych” would say, “I’ve heard it both ways”.

I think a lot of people use the 1975 copyright on the back as the basis for calling it “1975 SSPC”. In addition, the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards refers to it as “1975 SSPC”, and I’ve run across prominent auction houses selling the cards as “1975 SSPC”.

On the other side of the debate are COMC and BaseballCardPedia, which both list it as a 1976 set. Everything I’ve seen regarding the selling of the set indicates that it went on the market in 1976. The card backs reference the past 1975 season, the upcoming 1976 season and in some cases had been updated to reflect offseason player movement. Wouldn’t that indicate that it’s a 1976 set?

As I was sorting through my cards, my interest was further piqued when I ran across this Joe Lovitto card:

1976 SSPC #271 Joe Lovitto

I noticed that it listed him as a New York Met, something which caught my attention for two reasons…

First off, I didn’t remember him being with the Mets… and as it turns out, the Mets traded for him in December, 1975 and released him towards the end of Spring Training, so he never played in a regular season game for them.

The second reason it caught my attention was because card back included something else of interest:
1976 SSPC #271 Joe Lovitto back

It starts right off by saying he was traded on 12/12/75.  That’s a much later update than you’d see in the Topps set, but right in line with some of the 1976 Topps Traded cards.

As I kept going through my cards I tried to find later transactions, but most of what I found was from December 9th through the 12th.  Some online thingamajiggery revealed that 12/12/75 was a Friday… A bunch of transactions all at once and concluding on a Friday?  Sounds like that was the week of the Winter Meetings.

Then I had another idea; I’d go to baseball-reference.com, look up transactions starting in December, 1975 and see how far the transactions go before one fails to be acknowledged on an SSPC card back.

After December 12th, there’s a bit of a gap, which is understandable. Back to business, preparing for the Holidays and all that.

Then I found this deal…
December 22, 1975: The St. Louis Cardinals traded Mick Kelleher to the Chicago Cubs for Vic Harris.

I found that I have a Vic Harris card…
1976 SSPC #321 Vic Harris

…and this is very notable in that,  unlike the other cards, the trade is acknowledged with an O-Pee-Chee-like line at the top:
1976 SSPC #321 Vic Harris back

Verrrry interesting.  Looks pretty last-minute to me.

Finally, I ran across this deal…
January 9, 1976: The New York Mets traded Jerry Cram to the Kansas City Royals

I’d started looking for Mets as soon as I started going through my cards, so I knew I had Jerry Cram.
1976 SSPC #559 Jerry Cram

…and the back of that card doesn’t acknowledge his Kansas City Royalty.
1976 SSPC #559 Jerry Cram back

Just to review… (he said, as he looked pensively out the window) … A trade on 12/22/75 was mentioned, but a trade on 1/9/76 was not… Clearly, this set was “put to bed” very late in 1975, if not actually in 1976. The cards may have been printed in 1975, but there would’ve been very little time to ship any out before the end of 1975.

At this point what really started to bother me is why anyone would think that the people selling SSPC would have called it a 1975 set.  Calling a set “1975” and selling it in 1976 is not just poor marketing, that’s plain ol’ stupid. If I introduced a 2012 set now, would you buy it?  The only way I can see “1975” happening is if it was intended all along to be a document of the just-passed season… but if you were doing that, you wouldn’t update it for offseason trades.

At this point I’d convinced myself that it was a 1976 set… but I had to do my due diligence, I’ve been burned on things like that before.

So I kept flipping through books for this, Googling for that, when I had a small epiphany; there were several smaller sets generated before the main set came out, and one of those was a promo set. If a small set of cards were made to promote an upcoming set, wouldn’t those promos include the set year on them?

Well, DUH.

I don’t have any of the promos, but I borrowed an image from COMC.

1976 SSPC Promos #6 - Tom Seaver - Courtesy of COMC.com

1976 SSPC Promos #6 – Tom Seaver – Courtesy of COMC.com

…and there you go. A promotional card for the set says that it’s a 1976 set. Wish I thought of that up front.

But that’s neither here nor there. What’s important is that from this point on, this set shall be referred to on this blog as the 1976 SSPC set.


Hostess Card Of The Week: 1976 Jerry Morales

1976 Hostess Jerry MoralesFun Facts about Julio Ruben (Torres) Morales!

Signed by the Mets as an amateur free agent in 1966 . . . Selected by Padres in the 1968 Expansion Draft . . . Made his M.L. debut in September, 1969 . . . Was an N.L. All-Star in 1977;  was HBP and scored a run in the N.L’s 7-5 victory . . . Aside from Padres and Cubs, also played for the Cardinals, Tigers and Mets.

Hey, Cubs Fans… Help A Fella Out Here…

2013 Topps Heritage Glen Hobbie AutoI pulled this lovely Cubs autograph out of a retail Heritage blaster… Which is kind of funny because it was just about a year ago that I pulled a Jim Brosnan autograph out of a retail Heritage pack.

This is the best pull I’ve had so far in the still-young year, but the thing is that I don’t know anything about Mr. Glen Hobbie other than what I Googled before writing this post.

Did you know…?

In 1960 Glen Hobbie lead the Cubs with 16 wins!  Ooh, that’s good!

He also lead the Majors with 20 losses.  That’s bad.

…But he pitched 4 shutouts and 16 complete games!  That’s good!

…and lead the NL with 114 earned runs.  That’s bad.

In 1959 Hobbie was working on a perfect game when that no-good, rotten Stan Musial had to go and break it up.  You hear so many good things about Musial, but nobody every talks about what a spoilsport he was.

Anyway, what it boils down to is that Glen Hobbie was a good pitcher on some less-than-great Cubs teams… but…

…and here’s where you Cubs fans come in…

…but is there a particular reason, perhaps something off the field, for him to be featured with an insert?  I mean, Jim Brosnan wrote a couple of books.  Is there something else going on with Glen Hobbie that was behind the scenes, something that Baseball Reference or Wikipedia might have overlooked?

Tell me, tell me, tell me the answer
You may be a lover but you ain’t no dancer.

My Reward For Being A Courteous Holiday Shopper

I went out on the Saturday before Christmas and braved the area of concentrated retail surrounding the local Open-Air Upscale Shopping Experience (once referred to as a “mall”).  My next-to-last stop was at Target, so I decided to reward myself for meeting the pre-Xmas frenzy with a smile.  I walked into the card aisle, and the first Fairfield repack I saw hanging there had this on the front:
2008 Topps Back To School David Wright
David Wright & Mr. Met said “Psst, Joe!  You can’t NOT buy this repack!”

I’d assumed it was a card from a Topps Mets team set, but when I got home and opened the pack, it was numbered TB5.  What the…?

I did a little Googling and found that it’s from an 8-card 2008 “Back To School” set. You can read about these cards via some 4-year-old posts from JayBee (he of the Blogroll and Topps Baseball Card Blog) and Paul (he of the Random Baseball Stuff).

Should you not feel like linking, the gist of it is that Target (and perhaps other stores) sold a “Back To School” bundle which included 2 packs of series 1, 2 packs of series 2 and two cards from a special 8-card set (numbered TB1 – TB8).  If I saw those “Back To School” packages in my local Target in 2008, I probably only saw ones which had Chipper and A-Rod in them.

The repack also contained this lovely 1984 Donruss Ron Cey.
1984 Donruss Ron Cey
It’s funny how I largely ignored this set in 1984, bought maybe one or two packs and said the Eighties equivalent of “meh”;  yet I now like the set, I value it for it’s relative scarcity, and I hang on to any cards that come my way.

1986 Topps Glossy All Star StrawberryFinally, I got this Darryl Strawberry All-Star Glossy which has somehow eluded my grasp for all these years. The 4 Fairfield repacks I’ve bought over the past month or two have contained so many All-Star and Rookie Glossies from the 1980’s that I’m going to have to make those the next sets that I inventory, just to see how many of these I really, really need.

Since I didn’t wish everybody a Merry Christmas – Hey, I was busy! – I’ll wish everybody a happy Boxing Day.  I hope that, whether for Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or whichever December holiday you observe, you all got some cool stuff.