Wednesday, May 21, 2014

1955 Topps #110: Gus Zernial, Kansas City Athletics, OF

Gus Zernial arrived in the Athletics organization during his 3rd season in the majors with the Chicago White Sox in 1951.  Zernial was an All-Star player for the Philadelphia Athletics between 1951-1954 before the team moved to Kansas City in 1955.  In K.C., Zernial continued to be an Athletics star, leading the team in HR's, RBI, and SLG during their first year in Kansas City.  He was 2nd on the team in Total Bases, and 3rd in Runs.  Zernial played for Kansas City for 3 seasons for a total of 7 years within the A's organization before finishing out his career with Detroit in 1958 and 1959.  

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

1970 Topps #575: Cleon Jones, New York Mets, OF

Cleon Jones was a key member of the '69 Amazing Mets team that would eventually go on to win the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles.  Jones made his only All-Star appearance in '69, and came in 7th for NL MVP voting as well.  He would get another opportunity to play in the World Series in '73, but his team lost out to the streaking A's.  Jones played a total of 13 seasons in the majors between 1963-1976, with all but his final season as a Met. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

'50B Whiz Kid- Konstanty, '51T Red- Westlake, & '51T Blue- Sain

     Three exciting acquisitions today in a couple of sets that are rapidly becoming some of my all-time favorites.  Interestingly, my post earlier today mentioned today's top acquisition in Johnny Sain, who was traded along with Country Slaughter from the Yankees to the original Kansas City Athletics.  Here's Sain is shown during his final year with his own original Boston Braves team in 1951.  The Braves would traded Johnny Sain to the Yankees near the end of the regular season for Lew Burdette.  Luckily for Sain, 1951 would begin the start of three consecutive World Series Championships against the Giants and Dodgers, in which Sain would pitch a total of 13.2 innings over 4 games.  Sain had previously appeared in the 1948 World Series with his original Braves ballclub against the Indians.

     Jim Konstanty was actually teammates with Johnny Sain for one season in 1946.  Here, he is pictured with the 1950 World Series contending Philadelphia Phillies, where Konstanty spent the majority of his career between 1948-1954.  Konstanty pitched total during 3 games in the '50 World Series against the unbeatable New York Yankees, who were on the road towards 5 consecutive championships; however; Konstanty was able to maintain a 2.40 ERA throughout the 15 inning ordeal.  The Yankees would eventually claim Konstanty on waivers near the end of the '54 season, where he would remain for parts of three years before finishing out the rest of his final season with the Cardinals in 1956.

     Wally Westlake played in the Majors for 6 different teams throughout his ten year career between 1947-1956.  Here, he is shown with his original Pittsburgh Pirates ballclub during his final season with the team before being traded along with Cliff Chambers to the St. Louis Cardinals for Joe Garagiola and four others.  Westlake would eventually appear in the '54 World Series as a Cleveland Indian against the champion Giants team.

1950 Bowman #35: Enos Slaughter, St. Louis Cardinals, OF

     Hall-of-Famer, Enos Slaughter, had a 19-year career that spanned over 22 seasons between 1938-1959.  He spent most of that career with the St. Louis Cardinals, but played for three other teams beginning in 1954, when he was traded to the New York Yankees for Bill Virdon and a couple of other players.  The Yankees traded Slaughter and Johnny Sain to the Kansas City Athletics during their inaugural 1955 season, before taking him back the following year. Slaughter continued playing for the Yankees for all but his final 11 games, which were with the Milwaukee Braves. 

     Throughout his first five seasons, Slaughter had already led the league in Hits, Doubles, Triples, and Total Bases, making the All-Star team twice, and runner-up for the N.L. MVP once.  He would then serve 3 years in the military between 1943-1945 before going back to the Cardinals, where he made 7 more consecutive All-Star appearances for a career total of 9.  He would also lead the league in Triples for a second time, as well as in RBI.  Slaughter made it to the World Series 5 times, coming away with 4 rings.  His first two World Series championships occurred in 1942 against the Yankees before leaving for military service, and in 1946 against the Red Sox after coming back from the war.  Between those 12 games, Slaughter scored 8 Runs, earned 4 RBI, and hit 2 HR's.  His next three World Series were as a Yankee in 1956, 1958, and 1959 where he scored a total of 9 Runs, 4 RBI, and a homer in 15 games against the Dodgers and Braves.

     Slaughter finished out his playing career in the Minor Leagues in 1960 and 1961.  He was elected in the Hall-of-Fame in 1985.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

1972 Topps Topics, Pt. 1: In Action subset

     Now that I've completed the '72 Topps set, the task of organizing the subset cards in the back of my binder continues to "puzzle" me.  While building a set, I typically tend to place all of the subset cards in the back of my binder in numerical order.  After I complete a set, however, the subset cards are rearranged in some type of logical sequence.  For the '72 set, this is still a work in progress. 

     The '72T set has a lot of subset cards, so I'm breaking this topic into two different posts.  The first post is focused primarily on all of the "In Action" cards.  I've scanned all of these binder pages herein.  The four cards above have been rearranged to display only the subset cards starting with the 3 rookie cards that don't fit into a team set and the first "In Action" card.  Many of the backs of these "In Action" cards contain advertisements, but there are other features as well.

     There were four 6-piece puzzles that could be formed using the back of these "In Action" cards, so I rearranged my first four pages of subset cards to properly display these puzzles.  Puzzle A features Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox (#'s 564, 558, 560, 570, 556, 562). 

     Puzzle B features Joe Torre of the St. Louis Cardinals (#'s 572, 566, 568, 552, 574, 554).

     Puzzle C features Tony Oliva of the Minnesota Twins (#'s 702, 712, 714, 698, 708, 704).

     Puzzle D features Tom Seaver of the New York Mets (#'s 706, 700, 710, 696, 692, 694).

     Six of the "In Action" cards featured a history of League Pennant Winners, Leading Batsmen, and Leading Pitchers dating back to the start of the 20th Century.  These are card #'s 178, 170, 172, 166, 168, and 176.

     Ten of the card backs feature a baseball rules trivia titled "So You're a Baseball Expert" by Harry Simmons, which recounts actual scenarios in baseball history was an outcome solution presented.  These are card #'s 292, 294, 296, 298, 300, 302, 304, 306, 308, 312.

     Eleven of the "In Action" card backs display stories from prominent newspaper articles highlighting events from the '71 season.  These are card #'s 426, 428, 430, 432, 434, 436, 438, 440, 442, 446, 448.

     "In Action" cards were featured in Topps sets for 1962 and 1982 as well.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Major Milestones: Completed '72 & '71 Topps sets on same day

     I've stated this time and time again on previous posts:  the 1972 Topps set is more difficult to complete than the 1971 and 1970 sets.  Today, I received the final missing cards to complete both sets on the same day.  I didn't start collecting the '71 set until a couple of years after I had already started collecting the '72 set (and the '70 set a couple of years after that.  I probably started collecting the '72 set seriously around 2007.  When I got to the final two series (526-656 and 657-787), it became a lot tougher to find cards priced under 20%-25% BV.  I eventually got stuck on the '72 set, and for the first time, gave in to collecting two sets at once.  I probably got serious about the '71 set around 2009, and found collecting these cards at strictly under 20% BV much simpler than I did collecting '72s at under 20%-25% BV.  Of course, advancement began to slow while collecting the higher numbers, but it was nowhere near what I experienced trying to put together the '72 high numbers.  I eventually opened up to collecting a third set at the same time around 2011, and found the 1970 Topps set the simplest of the three to build at 20% BV.    

     Beckett currently lists the set values at: $2k for 1970, $2.5k for 1971, and $1.5k for 1972.  That's all fine and dandy, but the market is telling a different story.  Perhaps, these sets should be rearranged accordingly: $1.5k for 1970, $2.0k for 1971, and $2.5k for 1972.  What this all means is that it is probably better to purchase a complete set of 1972 Topps than to try and put it together individually.  I'm glad this chapter has been closed in my book.  Finishing off those last 11 cards from the 1970 set will complete the entire decade in which I was born.  I'm looking forward to begin focusing solely on the classics from the '50s and '60s.   

1950 Bowman #'s: 78 M.Owen, 80 H.Fox, 133 D.Kolloway, 152 E.Kinder, & 242 D.Kryhoski

...a bunch new Bowmans from the 1950 set arrived in my mailbox today.

What else can I say? 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

1950 Bowman #170: Dutch Leonard, Chicago Cubs, P

     A nice acquisition of veteran player and 4-time All-Star, Dutch Leonard in a strong VG 3.0 condition.  Leonard had just begun playing for his fourth and final team in 1949 to cap off a 20-year career spanning from 1933-1953.  He made the Hall of Fame Ballot 7 times between 1960-1973, but never earned greater than 2% of the total voting.  Leonard was a top 10 league leader many times in Games Started, Innings Pitched, Complete Games, and Shutouts.  He was the oldest active player in the NL during his final four seasons between 1950-1953.      
Dutch Leonard was actually born in 1909, not 1910, as shown of the back of the card.
     With my '50 Bowman set fast approaching nearly 75% completion, I have decided to rearrange my binder into what I call, "set formation".  Prior to organizing my set binders into "set formation, I typically start a new page for each team, organizing the teams by win percentage, with playoff advancement superseding win percentage.  In this case, the Chicago Cubs were the 12th best team out of 16 total teams in 1950.  The following two binder pages are organized with the missing cards from each team accounted for.  In this case, the two spaces prior to Frankie Frisch's Card are missing cards for the previous team.  My teams are organized by player's ages: Frankie Frisch, Dutch Leonard, Hank Edwards, Hank Sauer, Johnny Schmitz, Doyle Lade, Bill Serena, Bob Rush, Roy Smalley, Wayne Terwilliger, and Preston Ward. 

I am still two cards away from completing the Cubs team set of 13 total.  Coincidentally, the next ranked team after the Cubs in 1950 was the Chicago White Sox. 

1950 Bowman lot: G.Munger #89, E.Stewart #143, & F.Baker #145

Here's a few more '50 Bowmans just added to my collection, which has now surpassed 70% completion.  

George Munger was a 3 time All-Star for the St. Louis Cardinals in '44, '48, and '49, where he spent the majority of his career.  Munger played for a total of 10 seasons in the majors between 1943-1956, finishing off with the Pittburgh Pirates.  He threw a complete game victory with an ERA of 1.00 in the '47 World Series against the Boston Red Sox.
Eddie Stewart played for 4 different teams between 1941-1954, with 1950 being his third and final season with his third team.  He finished second in the league that year in Double Plays turned as a Rightfielder with 3.  Stewart also finished second in the AL with 13 Triples during his first year with the Senators in '48.  He was traded to the White Sox for Mike McCormick after the '50 season.   
Floyd Baker began playing in the majors for the St. Louis Brown in 1943.  He played in two World Series games against the St. Louis Cardinals in 1944, before going to the Chicago White Sox in 1945 where Baker remained for the majority of his career through the '52 season.  Baker was teammates with Eddie Stewart for two years before being traded to Stewarts former team--the Washington Senators.  Floyd Baker was just coming off his league leading season in Fielding % as a 3B in 1950 as well as making the league top 3 in Double Plays as a 3B in both '47 and '49.  Baker continued playing in the majors through the '55 season. 

These are three nicer lower grades cards for my standards.  They appear to average around VG 3.0 overal with decent centering, surface, and edges.  The majority of the wear is at the corners, where minor rounding is evident. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

1969 Topps #539: Ted Shows How (Mike Epstein - Ted Williams)

     This post isn't so much about Ted Williams demonstrating the art of hitting as it is about the beginning of my shift in focus from early-'70s to late-'60s Topps baseball cards.  Yesterday, I completed both the 1972 and 1971 Topps sets (posts to follow).  With only 11 cards left to go in the 1970 set, it's the 248 missing cards from my 1969 set that begin moving to the forefront of future posts.  

     There is one major concern that must be considered when collecting the '69 set online.  Good deals on lower grade common cards are not to be found online.  With the BV for many commons ranging from $1.50-$2.00, looking for cards at 20% BV is nearly impossible to find online.  Sure, the '70, '71, and '72 sets have cards valued in a similar range, but to a much lesser extent.  High-number '69s (and even '68s) are not all that rare, and command little more in value than do the low numbers. The key to collecting common cards for both the '68 and '69 sets for me will have to be card shows and shops.  Unfortunately, good shows and shops are not too abundant in my area, so I will have to rely mostly on my travels to locate these commons at a reasonable rate. 

     I was able to find this card nicely priced at $2.00 for less than 17% of its $12.00 BV, which was a really good deal for being a strong [VG+ 3.5] condition.  Set completion is now at 62%, which is more heavily weighted with stars than commons.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

1970 Topps #609: Buck Martinez, Kansas City Royals, C

     Let's get back to the early '70s for just a second.  Here's another '70 Topps card to add to my collection of 709 out of 720 cards now.  With a Buck Martinez rookie, I've now completed all of the Kansas City Royals team sets to present except for their inaugural year of 1969.  Martinez can still be heard broadcasting play-by-play for the Toronto Blue Jays where he finished his playing career between 1981-1987.  He played for a total of 17 seasons over an 18 year span with 3 different teams.  Buck's 2nd team was the Milwaukee Brewers between 1978-1980.  Half of his career was with the Royals between 1969-1977.  Martinez was a member of the original '69 Royals team, and a significant contributor to the '76 ALCS vs. the New York Yankees, where he batted .333 with 4 RBI in 15 AB's over the 5-game series. 

     This is a solid [EX 5.0] card worth about 40% BV, which is exactly what I was able to find it for.  The centering is 65/35 L-R on the front with is clean surface.  The corners are fuzzy with a minor ding on the top-left.  The edges only show wear on the back.  What interests me about this card is the fact that the number circle on the back where it says, "Topps 609" is white instead of yellow.  I skimmed through all of my '70s Topps cards and noticed that none of the other player cards have a white circle; only the subset cards like the All-Stars, League Leaders, and Playoffs, etc. 

Here's what my binder page containing the Buck Martinez card looks like.  As you can see, Martinez was the youngest player on the '70 Royals team set next to the Amos Otis, the original Billy Butler, and Al Fitzmorris/Scott Northey.  As a team, the '70 Royals had a better winning percentage than the Seattle Pilots/Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, and Chicago White Sox.

Friday, May 2, 2014

1952 Topps #'s: 82, 95, 100, 101, 112, 245

A bunch of '52s arrived in my mailbox this week.  I recently posted about Solly Hemus, who was one of five players that did not give authorization for Topps to reprint their card in 1983.  Here are 6 more '52 Topps cards that I decided to invest in at under 10% BV each.  The interest stems from my recent acquisition of a complete reprint set of 1952 Topps cards.  They're all lower grade cards in P, F, or G condition with an individual BV of $40.  For me these cards serve to filter my reprint set with originals sporadically throughout.  Take a look.