The Yankees Are Like The Killer In A Horror Film… And I Mean That As A Compliment

I’ve been waiting patiently for the Yankees to get old and fade to irrelevancy, but they’ve been like Jason or Freddy or some other disfigured maniac from a horror movie franchise.  It doesn’t matter if he’s been shot point blank in the chest or bludgeoned with a sledgehammer or run over by a Hummer or buried under half a ton of peat moss… Just when you take a deep breath and start to relax, there’s a clap of thunder and a flash of lightning which silhouettes a disfigured figure in the doorway, back to wreak more mayhem.

I give Brian Cashman & Joe Girardi a lot of respect for what they’ve done… They’ve had injury upon injury, and they go get guys like Alfonso Soriano and I say “HIM?  Hah!  Good luck with that!” and then a few days later I’m saying “Soriano did what?!?  Arrrrrrggggggghhhh!!!”

So with that in mind, when I found out that the Yankees were mathmatically eliminated this morning, I gave ’em a little “Na na, hey hey, Goodbye”.

So as a show of respect towards the Evil Empire, I’ll share some recently-obtained vintage Yankees and the vague hope that next year, with the “Core Four” reduced to the “Core 0.667”, the Yankees will just stay dead.

… Even if just for a little while.

1969 Topps Fritz Peterson

1969 Topps Joe Verbanic

1972 Topps Ron Blomberg

Pssst… Ron… Take to doughnut off the bat before you use it…

O Broder, What Art Thou?

So I was in Target during lunch yesterday, stocking up my “work pantry”, and I decided to check out the 100-card repacks on the way out. I know these repacks aren’t worth the money I’m putting into them, but they can be a fun diversion… or a Junk Wax Festival. You pays your money and you takes your chances.

My attention was caught by one repack which had this card on the back:
1990 Shanks Rookies Gary Sheffield

I thought “What the devil is that?”

Yeah, right. I really thought “What the @#%&*! is that?”, but I like writing “What the devil…” because it makes me sound like a scientist from a low-budget 1960’s science fiction movie. And there are worse things to be.

“I was a mathematician before I became a bad actor… That number is pi!”
(Let’s see if anyone gets THAT extremely obscure reference)

I kinda like the card, even if it is book-value worthless… as opposed to any other 1990 base card which has a book value only because Beckett has to give it SOME value.  The card sort of has a 1966 Topps bottom and a 1969 Topps circle.

Here’s the back to the esteemed Mr. Sheffield’s card:
1990 Shanks Rookies Sheffield back

“The Shanks Collection”, eh?  All right, if you say so.  I did some Googling on “1990 Shanks Collection” and all I got were some eBay listings.  I think this can be safely classified as a Broder.  You know, it’s been many years that I’ve been using the term “Broder” for an unlicensed-by-anybody card, but I’ve never seen an actual Broder.  Maybe someday…

UpdateBy “actual Broder”, I mean the original Broders, as opposed to cards which fall under the generic term “Broders”.

Wait a second, I hear a truck… Crap, I’ve got to put the recycling out by the curb.  I’ll be right back…

OK, sorry about that.

Well, you’re here and I’m here… Did you want to see what else I got in the repack?

I figure that, on the whole I got 10 dime-b0x needs for my $4, but I did well in terms of cards I actually want.  Here, let me show you…

I got this lovely George Foster Diamond King that’s been on my want list for… Oh, thirty years.

1983 Donruss George Foster DK

George Foster is one of a line of big-name players that the Mets brought in past their prime and who did just fine for the Mets but not anywhere close to the expectations of the fans who foolishly thought the Mets were acquiring a star player in his prime.

Moving right along…

Ahh… The elusive 1984 Donruss!  And it’s Shlabotnik favorite Benny Ayala!

1984 Donruss Benny Ayala

In 1974, Benny hit a homer in his first Major League at bat for the Mets.  This young Mets fan’s expectations of Benny were based on that random occurrence.  Silly me.  Anyway,  Benny had a 10-year career as a 4th outfielder, mainly with the  Orioles.

Jerry Willard!  A player I collect!  Wooooooooo!

1986 Donruss Jerry Willard

I saw Jerry play in the minor leagues, just in case you were wondering why someone would collect Jerry Willard cards.  I saw Jerry when he was in the Phillies system, but he traded to the Indians before he made it to the Majors.  This is why you shouldn’t get hung up on the fact that your local minor league team isn’t affiliated with a team you like… There’s always a decent chance that the guys you’re watching will make it with some other team.

Moving along… “Captain Kirk” McCaskill!  Another player I collect, even if it’s from the tremendously drab 1989 Fleer.

1989 Fleer Kirk McCaskill

I know we were meant to think “pinstripes”, but I’ve always thought “jail cell”.

Attica!  Attica!

Finally, I got this interesting TCMA “Baseball History” card of Jim DePalo.

1979 TCMA Baseball History Jim Depalo

Who is Jim DePalo?  If Baseball America had existed in the 1950’s, he might’ve been on the Yankees’ Top 10 Prospects list.  He peaked at AAA in 1956, going 13-5 for the Denver Bears.  I’m guessing that the TCMA guys found this photo and said “Hey, let’s add it to the set!”

1979 TCMA Baseball History Jim Depalo back

Aw, hell, look at the time!  I spent too much time on this, I’ve got to go shower.

…And thus ends my early morning free-form blog odyssey…  “On the bass:  Derek Smalls, he wrote this…”


My 1976 SSPC Dilemma… and A Chris Chambliss card!

As some of you know, I bought 1,200 1976 SSPC cards a few months ago in the hopes of getting something approximating the entire 630 card set.  I’ve been sharing images of the cards, but I haven’t said anything about the purchase since that original post.

“Joe,” I hear you ask, “You bought all those cards; did you get a complete set out of it?”

SSPC reaction

Um…. No.

Despite all those cards, I ended up with just over 2/3rds of the set.

Naturally, the biggest stars in the set are among the missing third.  My “haul” wasn’t quite the haul I thought it was.

There were also a couple of teams where I got no cards at all, and I got one and only one Yankee

1976 SSPC #434 Chris Chambliss

A few weeks ago, Jim over at The Phillies Room posted his 1976 SSPC Phillies here and here (note:  links corrected on 8/22), and he was concerned that he might be stealing some of my thunder.  The reality of that is that I have no thunder to steal… I don’t have a damn one of those Phillies, and when I saw Joe Hoerner and his straw hat, I said “Aw, maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!!!!!”

So that’s where I stand.  What am I going to do next?

Frankly, I don’t know.  I’m still trying to work out how much time and money I want to put into this set from here on out.

Since 1976 SSPC doesn’t have the demand of other vintage sets, and since they’re considered by some to be unlicensed sets, complete sets are relatively cheap.   If a full set is my objective, it might be easiest and most cost-effective to just buy a set… but that also makes my earlier purchase pointless.  Not the end of the world, but…

I don’t think there’s much point in attempting to complete the partial set I have.  Even if I managed to get all the remaining cards for a quarter apiece — a questionable assumption given the stars involved – it would cost me over $50 to do that, and it’s not out of the question to get a complete set on eBay for not much more than that.

I could keep an eye on eBay for lots of cards, but I’m thinking that’s more effort than I want to put into this set.

The game plan I’m leaning towards at the moment would be to work towards complete the Mets team set, pick up those cards of players I like and cards with cool photos, and then leave it at that… but I haven’t checked into the cost-effectiveness of this plan, or how many cards would be on my wantlist if I went this way.

So, yeah, I’m largely clueless now… especially with regards to this set (bah dum bum).  I suppose it took me 37 years to get these cards in the first place, I don’t need to be rushing into anything just now.

I do have plenty of cards to share, so I will continue to do so… Just don’t get upset with me when I skip past the Phillies, Yankees and Orioles.

…and if anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears.

1976 SSPC #434 Chris Chambliss back

A 2014 Heritage Card Which Came To Me Through The Space/Time Rift In My Garage

A lot of people are surprised to find that, in the back of my garage just underneath the breaker panel, there’s a rift in time and space. It’s a small rift, as rifts go… but it’s big enough that small objects from up to 10 years in the future can fall back in time through it.

Don’t get this confused with the interdimensional rift I’d mentioned before; that rift is in my attic, it’s a completely different rift.

Anyway, this is the card which, just the other day, fell out of the rift in my garage…
2014 Schmeritage Brian McCann

I’m glad this particular card happened to fall through… Not that I care much about Brian McCann or the fact that he’ll apparently become a free agent and sign with the Yankees, but more because I love the 1965 design and I’m looking forward to next year’s Heritage.

I have to admit, I didn’t fully appreciate the design until 2003 Upper Deck Vintage paid “homage” to 1965.  Once I was able to buy a number of these cards and pull them from packs, I grew to appreciate the simple yet appealing look of these cards.  It’s probably my favorite 1960’s set – at the moment, anyway – and most likely in my Top 10 all-time, all-manufacturer base sets… not that I’ve ever made a list like that. But I’m sure it’s up there.

Cards I Got From “Diamond Giveaway”… OK, So I’m A Little Behind…

I didn’t know what to write about today, I wasn’t feelin’ the posts I had in my Drafts folder, so I went poking around my unused scans… and that’s when I found images of these cards I’d redeemed from Topps “Diamond Giveaway” promotion back in early 2012.

…And I said “Ah, what the hell.”

Rule #1 with Diamond Giveaway was always “Fill the oldest need possible”, but not everybody was willing to trade their 1963 Duke Snider for my 1991 Milt Thompson. So, Rule #2 was “work towards completing sets which I’m reasonably close to completing”. In this case, I turned a 1983 Bruce Hurst (which I already had) into this Winfield. Naturally, a recent Fairfield repack I got had this card in it… But how was I to know that in 2011?
1986 Topps Dave Winfield
I don’t know why, but I think I appreciate Dave Winfield more now than when he was active… Maybe because as an all-around athlete (drafted in three sports!) he just looks good on a card.

I’m not a fan of the Cardinals or Alex Johnson, but this is easily the best card I got from Diamond Giveaway, and many others agreed with me – I got far more trade offers for this card than for any other.
1967 Topps Alex Johnson
I’m not even 100% sure about what it is that I find appealing, I just know that I look at it and think “Now that’s a baseball card!”

This is “Action” only in the sense that takes place during a game. Doesn’t matter to me, I’m not one to turn down some free-but-not-really-free 1972’s!
1972 Topps George Mitterwald

1980 Topps was another set I worked towards through Diamond Giveaway. I’ve got 99.85% of the 1973 set, complete sets from 1974 to 1978 and again in 1981, and I feel like I should have complete sets from 1979 and 1980 as well. Maybe I should bump up the priority on those two. Like Dave Winfield, 1980 Topps has also grown on me over the years. At the time I thought it was a little too much like a reworked 1974 design, but I think I’ve grown to appreciate it on its own.
1980 Topps Jimmy Sexton
I like Sexton’s belligerent expression in this card. He’s either trying to look bad-ass or he’s angry because he doesn’t like to do Standard Baseball Card Pose #27. “There, I’m doing your stupid pose. Are ya happy? Huh? Are ya?”

I’ve got plenty more Diamond Giveaway cards to share… Maybe they’ll surface on another uninspired Saturday.

Hostess Card Of The Week: 1975 Sparky Lyle

1975 Hostess Sparky LyleI started writing this post thinking that today was the 41st anniversary of the trade where the Yankees acquired reliever Sparky Lyle from the Red Sox for 1B/3B Danny Cater and player to be named later, but I was wrong; that trade was made on March 22, 1972. Today is actually the 41st anniversary of the “naming of the PTBNL”; infielder Mario Guerrero was sent from AAA Syracuse to AAA Louisville to finish off the deal.

Screw it, I’m finishing this post anyway.

Sparky Lyle is a very rare type of player: He’s a Yankee I kinda like. It helps that he was a Yankee when I was young and naïve and liked both New York teams.

Sparky was one of the dominant closers of the 1970’s and won the Cy Young award while helping the team win the World Seies in 1977. How did the Yankees show their appreciation for their award-winning reliever? They signed Goose Gossage to a big contract and gave him the closer job. This is the kind of crap that drove me away from the Yankees (although, let’s be honest, my being driven away from the Yankees was inevitable).

The acquisition of Gossage obviously didn’t make Sparky happy. After the 1978 season the Yankees granted his wish and sent him to the Rangers in a 10-player trade. A newswire article I found about the trade quoted Yankees president Al Rosen as saying that the key to the deal was a 19-year-old AA pitcher named Dave Righetti.  Righetti would be the 1981 AL Rookie Of The Year and lead the AL in saves in 1986. It’s kinda nice to see a trade involving a key prospect where the prospects pans out.  FWIW, Righetti has been the Giants’ pitching coach since 2000.

Getting back to Mr. Lyle, he’s standing in the left field corner of Shea Stadium; the Yankees played at Shea in 1974 and 1975 while extensive renovations were being done at Yankee Stadium.

I really need to read Sparky’s book about the 1978 season, “The Bronx Zoo”.

1976 SSPC #190: Ed Figueroa

1976 SSPC #190 Ed Figueroa Hi, I’m Ed Figueroa!  You may remember me from… being the first Puerto Rican pitcher to win 20 games, pitching in the ALCS & World Series, and winning 71 games over a 4-year span with the Angels and Yankees.

In 1976, Figueroa… pitched for the Yankees, went 19-10 with a 3.02 ERA and finished 4th in A.L. Cy Young voting. The Yankees had acquired Ed and Mickey Rivers in exchange for Bobby Bonds.

So… take your time… and tell me… Is it Shea? Jeez, there ain’t much to go on there… but it doesn’t look Shea-ish, so I’ll just shrug.

1976 SSPC #190 Ed Figueroa back

Picking nits: The back of the card indicates that Figueroa was assigned #37 with the Yankees, but that wasn’t going to happen; 37 is retired for former manager Casey Stengel. Ed would wear 31 with the Yankees.

Betcha didn’t know… That “Figueroa” has all 5 vowels in it: A, E, I, O & U (but not Y).

“Shoulda Been” 2013 Heritage #2: Ichiro Suzuki


Ichiro is missing from 2013 Topps products, and if there’s been any explanation for that beyond the obvious, I haven’t seen it.

It doesn’t seem right that Ichiro doesn’t have a Topps card, so here’s a custom Heritage card:

2013 Schmeritage Ichiro Suzuki

Since Ichiro, or someone representing him, doesn’t want to play nice with collectors, I’m not going to play nice with Ichiro; I created this custom using his last name. So there, Mr. Suzuki. Nanny nanny boo boo.

I have an outstanding request (or really two requests) for more “Shoulda Been” Heritage cards, and I’ll get to those as soon as I have time to make them.

Meanwhile, if there’s someone who you think should have a Topps card and doesn’t, leave a comment and I’ll try my best to rectify the situation.

Hostess Of The Week – 1979 Terry Whitfield: Jerseys, Japan, Johnson City

Terry Whitfield was an outfielder and pinch hitter who played for the Yankees, Giants and Dodgers, with a stint in the Japanese Pacific League sandwiched in the middle.
1979 Hostess Terry Whitfield

I’ll be honest, I’d mentioned Johnson City in the header mainly to keep the alliteration going… In 1971 Whitfield was a first-round draft pick (19th overall) of the Yankees, and started his professional career in Johnson City, where he was teammates with Louisiana Lightning himself, Ron Guidry.

Whitfield moved up through the Yankees farm system, but never established himself with the parent club after a couple of “cups of coffee” with the Yanks. He shares his 1975 rookie card with Fred Lynn, Ed Armbrister and Tom Poquette.

During spring training of 1977, Whitfield was traded to the Giants for Marty Perez (known on this blog as the Latin Davy Jones)…
1977 OPC Marty Perez
…and much to the dismay of the airbrush artist who did this card for the 1977 O-Pee-Chee set, Perez played in one game for the Yankees before being shipped off to Oakland as part of a package for pitcher Mike Torrez.

Terry Whitfield established himself as a regular outfielder with the Giants with good offensive stats, although maybe not what may have been expected of him.

Whitfield is notable in that he may have been the first American player to spend his peak years playing in Japan; his contract was sold by the Giants to the Seibu Lions for the 1981 season, when Whitfield was 28 years old.

He’d play three years in Japan, helping the Lions win Japan Series titles in 1982 and 1983 while hitting 88 homers over the 3 years.

After Japan, Whitfield was signed to a three-year contract by the Dodgers, who must’ve figured that they signed a guy who’d sorted out his hitting issues while overseas, but it didn’t work out that way. Whitfield ended up as more of a pinch hitter than a regular and would hit just 7 homers in three years with the Dodgers.

OK, I’ve covered Japan and Johnson City… what about the Jersey?

The jersey Whitfield is wearing is fine in and of itself, but I view it as a mistake along the lines of the New York Rangers’ uniform change of the 1970’s…
1977-78 Topps Walt Tkaczuk
You’ve already got a classic uniform, why would you change it?

…And the answer to that is, of course, it was the 1970’s.

Whaddaya Know… There Really Were 1987 Minis… Kinda… Sorta…

Last year, when Topps had the 1987 Mini inserts, a common theme among bloggers was that it ain’t any such… That the only minis in 1987 was the Topps Leaders set, and they only shared the general woodgrain theme and not the same design.

I was on board with that line of reasoning until I ran across these in the “accumulation” part of my collection:
1987 Topps Box Cards Sutton Winfield
I’ve had an empty 1987 Topps wax box since… well, probably since 1987. I don’t remember for sure, but I probably was in a store that had a couple of wax packs left in the box and I asked the friendly neighborhood storekeeper if I could take the box if I bought the remaining packs.

This box was one of my “attic finds”… is it a “find” if it’s in your own attic?… At one point I was going to write a post about this box along the lines of “Should I keep it as an intact box, should I cut out the one side of the box and leave it as a panel, should I cut it into individual cards?” But there was a major need for cleaning in my man cave, so the “box” is gone and now it’s just a panel.

After I scanned this panel, it occurred to me that these cards are smaller than standard. I took a 2012 Mini and compared them, and glory be, they’re the same size. The backs are different, but I’m not going to quibble with Topps about that…

1987 Topps Box Cards Sutton Winfield Back

So now we’re just left with the bogus 1972 minis… and to quote the preacher in Blazing Saddles, “Son, you’re on your own.”