Thursday, February 28, 2013

1951 Topps #A-32: Hank Thompson, New York Giants, 3B

Hank Thompson was born in Oklahoma City, OK on 12/8/1925.  Thompson started playing for the all black Kansas City Monarchs in 1943 until he was drafted in the Army during WWII.  He went back to K.C. after the war to play for the Monarchs for much of 1946-1948; however, Thompson played for over a month with the St. Louis Brown in 1947.  In 1949, he went back to the major leagues to play for the N.Y. Giants.  Thompson was with the Giants when they won the World Series in 1954, and continued playing with the Giants through 1956.  Hank Thompson passed away in Fresno, CA on 9/30/1969 at the age of 43.

BV: $12.00 (for minor stars)
Cost: $3.00 (25% BV)
Condition: PR 1.0 (5% BV)
Completion: 7 of 104 (6% total)
Comment:  I figure that this is a minor star card, which is currently valued a $12 in NM 7.0.  I had to give it a poor grade because severe creasing is beginning to result in paper loss on the front surface, which has become distracting.  The corners, edges, and centering look fine otherwise.  Once again, it appears that I am overpaying for these cards at $3.00 each, but I have not been able to find them for much lower online.  They don't seem to be just "thrown" around at the card shows either.  Perhaps a reconsideration of the value for '51 Topps commons by Beckett?  Currently, I'm willing to pay up to $3.00 for common Redbacks in P, F, and G condition. 

1951 Topps #A-16: Preacher Roe, Brooklyn Dodgers, P

Preacher Roe was born in Ash Flat, AR on 2/26/1916.  His Major League career began with only one game for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1938.  He came back to the majors in 1944 with the Pittsburgh Pirates after some minor league time.  In 1945, Roe made the all-star team for the first time and led the N.L. in strikeouts.  He was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1948 along with Gene Mauch and Billy Cox.  As a Dodger, Roe made the all-star team four more times consecutively in '49, '50, '51, and '52.  He appeared in the '49, '52, and '53 World Series, but the Dodgers lost all three of those to the Yankees who were on a historic streak of five straight championships.  Roe retired as a Dodger at the end of 1954, and did not get to play with the '55 Dodger team that won the only World Series championship ever brought to Brooklyn.   Preacher Roe passed away on 11/9/2008 in West Plains, MO at the age of 92.

BV: $15 (for semi-stars)
Cost: $3.00 (paid 20% BV)
Condition: GD 2.0 (worth 15% BV)
Completion: 6 of 104 (5% complete)
Comment:  Considering Preacher Roe as a semi-star (he's unlisted), this card would be valued at $15 in NM 7.0 condition.  Although there is a couple of heavy creases, I would still grade this card as Good.  There is only minor corner, edge, and surface wear other than a small tear below "16 IN" on the front.  It has good centering and coloring with no print defects.  

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

1954 Topps #243: Ray Blades, Chicago Cubs, CO

Ray Blades was born in Mt. Vernon, IL on 8/6/1896.  He began playing for the St. Louis Cardinals as a leftfielder in 1922.  He was a part of the Cardinals first 4 World Series teams, but did not appear during their 1st World Series Championship season of 1926.  He did appear with the Cardinals during their 1928 W.S. loss to the Yankees, their 1930 W.S. loss to the Athletics, and then their 2nd World Series Championship victory over the Athletics in 1931.  Blades retired with a lifetime batting average of .301 in 1932.  He immediately began managing for the Cardinals minor league system.  In 1939, Blades was brought up to manage the St. Louis Cardinals until 1940.  Afterward, he became a coach for various other teams including the Reds, Dodgers, and Cubs.  Ray Blades passed away in Lincoln, IL on 5/18/1979 at the age of 82.

BV: $15.00 (for commons)
Cost: ?
Condition: PR 1.0 (worth 5% BV)
Completion: 1 of 250
Comments: This was the first 1954 Topps card I ever owned.  I can't remember exactly what I paid for it, but it certainly couldn't have been much more than 50 cents considering the strict baseball card budget I had as a college student after serving in the military.  I've always liked the '54 set, but as a budget-minded collector, I never really believed that starting a collection of 54's was actually feasible.  For one thing, the values listed in Beckett are astronomically outrageous.  I hadn't yet adjusted to paying more than $1 for a common card until I started working on the 1972 high-series set.  I also didn't realize that I could find many of these cards for under 10% BV if I collected them in PR, FR, and GD condition.  In addition, the larger card size just didn't seem to fit in with the rest of my "book" collection, until I discovered 8-pocket pages.  Lastly, I didn't know where to begin since most of the common players were unfamiliar to me.  That all began to change a couple of years ago when I discovered a large used book for $10 showing every Topps card ever produced between 1951-1985 (a newer one that goes up to 1990 also exists).  I now use this book as a type of checklist to do all of my research, budgeting, planning, and strategizing.  After purchasing the complete '54 reprint set, I was soon ready to begin replacing some of those reprints with original cards.  To date, I have acquired about 30 original cards from the '54 set--and it all started with #243.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

1951 Topps #A-49: Al Zarilla, Chicago White Sox, OF

Al Zarilla was born on 5/1/1919 in Los Angeles, CA.  He began playing RF for the St. Louis Browns in 1943, and was part of the team's only World Series appearance.  Zarilla scored a Run and an RBI in 10 total plate appearances for the Browns in a 4-2  series loss against the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1944 World Series.  Afterward, he served in the military during WWII before going back to the Browns in 1946.  Zarilla earned a career-high .329 batting average, and made the All-Star team during his final year with the Browns in 1948.  He was traded to the Boston Red Sox in 1949, and then to the Chicago White Sox in 1951.  In 1952, Zarilla was traded back to the Browns, and then back to the Red Sox where he finished playing after 1953.  Al Zarilla died on 8/28/1996 in Honolulu, HI at the age of 77.

Completion: 5 of 104 (total 4%) 
Condition: PR 1.0 (worth 5% BV)
Cost: $2.24 (paid 15%-22.5% BV) 
Comments: This card is unquestionably in poor shape.  The severe creasing has resulted in causing difficulty to read the lettering, although completely visible.  The back is missing a piece of paper and has dark smearing on the lower right.  This is the HR card for the Redback set. 

1951 Topps #A-35: Al Rosen, Cleveland Indians, 3B

Al Rosen was born on 2/29/1924 in Spartanburg, SC.  In 1942, He enlisted in the Navy to serve in WWII and made Lieutenant before leaving after 4 years.  He began playing for the Cleveland Indians in 1947.  He appeared in a total of two World Series with one championship (having beat the Boston Braves in '48, but losing to the New York Giants in '54).  Rosen won the AL HR title in '50, and then the RBI title in '52.  In 1953, he won both titles together along with the A.L. MVP title. Rosen was an all-star during four consecutive years between '52-'55.  Rosen ended his career after 10 seasons with the same team in 1956.  He worked as an MLB executive for the Yankees, Astros, and Giants between 1978-1992.  Al Rosen is currently 88 years old (22 years old if you only count the leap years).

Completion: 4 of 104 
Condition: PR 1.0 (worth 5% BV)
Cost: $3.00 (paid 20%-30% BV) 
Comments: I hate to rate a card so low, but the paper loss on the ear did it for me.  I also hate to pay such a high percentage for a poor card, but the 51's may just be that undervalued.  To pay the 5% BV price that these card should command, I would have had to been able to get it for $0.50-$0.75.  If someone is selling at these rates, let me know.  I'm typically willing to pay up to 10% BV for pre-1957 cards, but '51 Topps is the exception.  A 20% BV cap seems fair--$25 Berra's anyone?  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

1951 Topps #A-29: Bob Kennedy, Cleveland Indians, OF

Bob Kennedy was born 8/18/1920 in Chicago, IL.  Kennedy began his MLB playing career with the Chicago White Sox in 1939, where he would spent the majority of his time.  He missed three seasons in '43, '44, and '45 to serve in the military during WWII.  In 1948, Kennedy was traded to the Cleveland Indians where he would win his first and only World Series Championionship.  In 1954, he became a part of the original Baltimore Orioles but would return to the White Sox during the following year.  In 1956, he played for the Detroit Tigers before again going back to the White Sox for part of the following year.  Kennedy ended his playing career with the final Brooklyn Dodgers team of 1957.  He managed the Cubs between '63-'67, and was the original manager for the Oakland A's in 1968.  He was the Cubs' General Manager from 1977-1980.  Bob Kennedy passed away on 4/7/2005 in Mesa, AZ at the age of 84.

Completion: 3 of 104
Condition: PR 1.0 (worth 5% BV) 
Cost: $3.00 (paid 20%-30% BV) 
Comments: The writing and white-out on the front combined with the paper loss on the back make this a poor-rated card.  It's still very collectible for me.  An interesting note is that Bob Kennedy's son, Terry, also played in the majors between 1978 and 1991.  Terry was part of the '84 World Series team that went up against the Tigers.  Here's his '87 Topps card.

1951 Topps #A-4: Vern Stephens, Boston Red Sox, 3B-SS

Vern Stephens was born on 10/23/1920 in McAlister, NM.  He began as a SS for the St. Louis Browns in 1941.  Stephens appeared in the 1944 World Series as a Brown, but would lose in the series against the Cardinals 4 games to 2.  He won the league RBI title in '44 and the HR title in '45.  He was selected to the All-Star team four years in a row as a Brown in '43, '44, '45, and '46.  Stephens was traded to the Boston Red Sox in 1948 where he would again make the All-Star team four years in a row: '48, '49, '50, and '51.  Stephens also won the league RBI title twice more while with the Red Sox in '49 and '50.  In 1953, he was first traded to the White Sox and then back to the Browns.  Stephens was with the St. Louis Browns during their last days, and again in 1954 when the team moved east to become the Baltimore Orioles.  In 1955, he was traded back to the White Sox where he would finish out his playing career.  Vern Stephens passed away on 11/3/1968 from a heart attack in Long Beach, CA at the age of 48.

Completion: 2 of 104
Condition: PR 1.0 (worth 5% BV)
Cost: $3.00 (paid 20%-30% BV) 
Comments: writing; white-out; paper loss

1951 Topps #A-47: Tommy Glaviano, St. Louis Cardinals, 3B

My first contribution to the 1951 Topps Baseball card set is Tommy Glaviano.  He was born in Sacramento, CA on 10/26/1923 .  Glaviano played 3B for the St Louis Cardinals from 1949-1952 and then for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1953.  He passed away in Sacramento, CA on 1/19/2004 at the age of 80.

Completion: 1 of 104 
Condition: FR 1.5 (worth 10% BV)
Cost: $3.00 (paid 20%-30% BV) 
Comments: This post represents the first in a series of posts that I will dedicate towards collecting the 1951 Topps baseball card set.  The complete set contains a total of 104 different cards divided equally into two "decks", which are designated as either Redbacks (A series) or Bluebacks (B series).  For simplicity, I will number them #1A to #52A and #1B to #52B, respectively.  These cards were originally released to be played as a game called Doubles, which were packaged with two of these 2" x 2-5/8" cards for a penny.  I found that if you cut a card sleeve down to a 2-1/2" height, this cards will fit neatly into the sleeve sideways.  The card and sleeve can then be inserted into 9-pocket pages snugly. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Throwback Sets: 1954 Topps #1-250 + #251-268

I typically work on completing Topps sets individually in reverse consecutive order.  Having completed a majority of the 1972 set (over 93%), I continue to struggle to find additional high-number cards for a decent price, so I decided to work on the 1971 set (over 85%), and then the 1970 set (over 78%).  I finally got tired of giving in to paying high dollar for overpriced common cards in the early 1970's card sets, so I started looking for deals elsewhere.  A few years ago, I purchased a 1953 Topps reprint set (1991 Topps Archives) for about $15 with the intention of someday delving even deeper into those early 50's cards--Apparently, that time is now.

I found a 1954 Topps reprint set (1994 Topps Archives) for about $60, and finally gave in.  As with all of my other sets, these were organized into teams with the World Series champions showing first (N.Y. Giants), then the W.S. losers second (Cleveland Indians), and then all of the other teams organized by their overall winning percentage (Yankees, White Sox, Dodger, etc.).  Each team is then further organized by player age--with the oldest person first and the youngest last.  The set was inserted into 8-pocket pages, so that replacement of the reprints with originals in the future would be simple.  For me, starting with a complete reprint set helps to: remove the fear of starting a collection that you may not ever be able to completely finish, as well as reduce the tendency to overpay for individual cards while collecting in a hurry.  I've found it possible to collect early 50's Topps cards for under 10% BV.  Since these cards are much older than I am, condition is not really a major factor.  

The original 1954 Topps set included 250 cards numbered from #1 to #250.  An important note about this reprint set is that it does not include two cards: #1 and #250 (both Ted Williams cards).  In 1994, Upperdeck actually reproduced the two T.Williams cards (#1 and #250) in addition to an additional "Card that Never was" featuring Mickey Mantle #259.  The three Upperdeck cards (#1,#250,#259) belong with the '54 reprint set as far as I'm concerned although the asking price can often be about as much as it would cost to buy a low-grade original.  I found an original 1954 Topps card #1 ($800 BV) for under $38 and chose to purchase that instead of a reprint.  As of this post, I'm still working on obtaining an original #250 T.Williams for under $50 and a fake #259 M.Mantle for around $10.

An interesting note is that the 1954 Topps reprint set includes an additional 8 cards numbered from #251-#258 featuring players that probably should have had a card issued in 1954 but didn't.  These additional cards have realistic photos of how old the players may have looked in 1954 with card backs replicating the original '54 cards.  The 8 additional cards that are included with the reprint set are: #251 R.Clemente XRC, #252 B.Grim, #253 E.Howard XRC, #254 H.Killebrew XRC, #255 C.Pascual XRC, #256 H.Score XRC, #257 B.Virdon XRC, and #258 D.Zimmer XRC.

In 1995, Topps produced another Topps Archives set to commemorate the '52-'56 Brooklyn Dodgers.  This 165-card set included 7 more "Cards That Never Were" fake reprints that I would consider to also be a part of the 1954 Topps reprint set.  The 7 additional cards are: #260 R.Campanella, #261 B.Cox, #262 C.Erskine, #263 C.Furillo, #266 D.Newcombe, #267 P.W.Reese, #268 G.Shuba.  I don't know what happened to #264 and #265, but would be interested to hear more about it if anyone else knows.  These additional 7 cards may be difficult to find as a stand-alone group because all of the '54 Topps Dodger reprints were reproduced alongside these in 1995.  Sellers typically sell the complete team set, which would result in duplication. 

Of course, I have to at least try and make a connection to the '87 Topps set.  The only person from the '54 Topps reprint set that still had a card when I first started in 1987 was Tommy Lasorda.  Although two other 1987 managers (Gene Mauch and Dick Williams) actually had cards pre-dating the '54 set, Lasorda was the only one with a card in 1954.