Monday, January 31, 2011

1955 Topps #123 - Sandy Koufax

One of the two BIG rookie cards in this set, Sandy Koufax (b. 1935)!!! Koufax played in the majors from 1955 to 1966 for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers. Koufax began his career mired in mediocrity from 1955 to 1960, then after the 1960 season, things 'clicked.' From 1961 to 1966, Koufax was the best pitcher in baseball. This run also has Koufax regarded as one of the best pitchers in history. Koufax ended his career after losing to the Orioles in the 1966 World Series, citing his desire to want to be able to lift his arm later in life as the reason for his early retirement (he was 30). He retired with a record of 165-87, 2,396 strikeouts and a 2.76 ERA. Some of Koufax's other accomplishments:
  • 3-time Cy Young Award Winner (1963, 1965 and 1966)
  • Won the 1963 NL MVP Award
  • Led league in wins 3 times (1963, 1965 and 1966)
  • Led league in ERA in 5 straight seasons (1962-1966)
  • Led League in strikeouts 4 times (1961, 1963, 1965 and 1966)
  • Won the pitching triple crown 3 times (1963, 1965 and 1966)
  • Threw 4 no hitters
  • One of his no hitters was a perfect game in 1965
  • Won the World Series with the Dodgers 4 times (1955, 1959, 1963 and 1965)
  • Uniform number 32 retired by the Dodgers
  • Elected to the hall of Fame in 1972 on 86.87% of the ballot (first ballot)


Sunday, January 30, 2011

TTM Success - Marty Marion

I mailed a ball to former St. Louis Browns manager Marty Marion on January 20, 2011 and received this ball back today (the mail came yesterday, but we were at a hotel in Raleigh). That's a 9-day TAT for a free TTM. Richburg South Carolina's own Marty Marion (b. 1917) played in the majors from 1940-1950, 1952 and 1953 for the St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Browns. He was the 1944 NL MVP. He retired with 1,448 hits, 36 home runs and a .263 batting average. At age 93, he is the oldest living former Major League manager. He managed the Cardinals (1951), Browns (1952 - 1953) and White Sox (1954 - 1956). He won the World Series in 1942, 1944 and 1946 with the Cardinals.

1955 Topps #122 - Carl Sawatski

Carl Sawatski (b. 1927 - d. 1991) played in the majors from 1948, 1950, 1953-1954 and 1957-1963 for the Cubs, White Sox, Braves Phillies and Cardinals. He retired with 351 hits, 58 home runs and a .242 batting average. He won the World Series in 1957 with the Braves.


Blog on Location Day 2 - NHL Skills Competition

After we watched all the players go in during the red carpet presentation, we made our way into the RBC Center for the Skills Competition. In my opinion, the skills competition is one thing that NHL may have on other sports. I wish baseball would do something similar for their all star game along with the home run derby. Maybe they'll catch on one day.
Here is our group, all ready to get inside. Top Row - My wife Mallory, Amanda, Danny, Adam, Opie, some random girl. Bottom Row - Babe-O-Licious, Me.
Here is Team Staal before the start of the skills competition. My favorite part of the show was the Breakaway Challenge, where the players had to skate to the goal and attempt some kind of trick shot. Alex Ovechkin won this competition for the 3rd time in a row.
Finally, after everything was done, Team Stall beat Team Lidstrom hands down by some astronomical margin that I have already forgotten.
We had a really good time tonight; we won't be able to catch the actual All Star game due to financial constraints, but I'm glad we were able to do everything else. I think Raleigh was a great place to hold the All Star game, and I believe it was a much better time here than in Atlanta in 2008. I hope the NHL will bring the game back here in the not too distant future. I have had a great weekend, I hope you all enjoyed reading.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Blog on Location Day 2 - NHL Red Carpet

We spent a good portion of today hanging out in the hotel room because everyone was worn out from last night's festivities. Because Fan Fair was in Downtown Raleigh and our hotel was right beside the RBC Center, we elected to skip the drive today because we all were needing to save some cash, and everyone really got everything they needed yesterday. The Red Carpet player intros were at 4PM today, and the place was packed. We were able to get a good spot close enough to the railing where we got some good autos. I also gave a pen and a puck to a lady in front of me who was playing blocker so her kid could get autos. I had purchased 2 silver sharpies yesterday in hopes to getting some pucks signed... I will be taking them back and will be asking for a refund because they failed epically.
The one time my marker didn't fail, though, was when I was able to get a signature from Carolina Hurricane Eric Staal. I'm glad the signature that worked out was a very good player.

The sharpie kind of worked for Cam Ward, another Carolina Hurricane. I've heard of both he and Staal, so I was happy to get these guys. I wanted to get 18-year old phenom Jeff Skinner, too, but was unable to. Oh well. I'm happy with my score.

I asked the lady in front of me if she would hold out one of my pucks, and she did so without fail. I was really happy with all the signatures she loaded on here for me.

Here is the other side of the puck, which looks pretty sweet. I repaid her by giving her son an official 2011 All Star game puck, which she was very appreciative.
I also helped out a really nice kid from Raleigh. We talked some baseball while we were waiting for the players to come out, and when they did, I got his jersey signed for him since there wasn't any room for me to sneak out of the pile and let him in. He was a nice enough guy and I know he was really happy that I got that jersey out there and had it signed by some big named players. I should have taken a picture of it, but I wasn't thinking about that at the time. Oh well.
Check back later on for my next post - NHL Skills competition. I took a few pictures from there that I will share.

1955 Topps #121 - Bill Renna

Bill Renna (b. 1924) played in the majors from 1953-1956 and 1958-1959 for the Yankees, A's and Red Sox. He retired with 219 hits, 28 home runs and a .239 batting average.

Friday, January 28, 2011

First Ever 'Blog on Location' - NHL All Star Fan Fair

Hello to everyone. I'm in wonderful Raleigh, NC, site of the 2011 NHL All Star game. Today, the pre All Star festivities include the NHL Fan Fair.
There are a bunch of vendor booths, photo-ops, souvenirs, etc. We made the rounds, taking in all of the sites and sounds of the event. I am not a hockey fan, however, my wife, being from Detroit, is a HUGE Red Wings fan, so this is her Birthday/Christmas present. I took a picture of my wife with what appeared to me to be a giant Muppet. I was informed that this is the Montreal Canadiens' mascot... Interesting looking fellow.

Here is our good friend Babe-O-Licious with Blades, the Boston Bruins mascot. Babe is the person who arranged the whole trip. She is the queen of sports themed trips and is always the one who I call when I need to get somewhere.

I liked the 'Guardian Project' poster they had up, so I took a picture of the Red Wing guy for my wife because I knew she'd love it.

Here is the poster itself. Pretty cool. I may try to find one for Chris' bedroom.

You can't erase the smile from my wife's face. I'm glad I was able to get her tickets to the Skills competition (we couldn't get cheap enough All Star game tickets, but we went in 2008 when they were in Atlanta). To me, the skills competition is more fun anyway.

Here is my feeble attempt at a slap-shot. Notice my handling of the hockey stick. You can tell I had never swung a stick in my life. I think they clocked my puck (one I connected with it) at a whopping 28 miles per hour. Oh well, it was fun anyway. Look mom, I'm wearing the custom jersey you got us for Christmas!!
Check back tomorrow evening when we get back from the Skills Competition. I'm hoping for a good time, and I'm sure it will be. Have a good night, I'm going to hang with the crew and have a couple beverages!

1955 Topps #120 - Ted Kluszewski

Ted Kluszewski (b. 1924 - d. 1988) played in the majors from 1947 to 1961 for the Reds, Pirates, White Sox and Angels. Known as Big Klu, Kluszewski was a powerful force in the lineup. He led the league in home runs in 1954 with 49. He hit 40 or more home runs in three straight seasons (1953 through 1955). He retired with 1,766 hits, 279 home runs and a .298 batting average. After his playing days were over, he served as hitting instructor under Sparky Anderson during the Reds' run in the 1970s.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

1955 Topps #119 - Bob Lennon

Bob Lennon (b. 1928 - d. 2005) played briefly in the majors for parts of 3 seasons (1954, 1956 and 1957) for the Giants and Cubs. He retired with 13 hits, 1 home run and a .165 batting average.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hall of Fame Spotlight - Ernie Lombardi

Plaque photo borrowed from

Ernie Lombardi (b. 1908 - d. 1977) was considered one of the better hitting catchers of all time. He played from 1931 to 1947 for the Brooklyn Robins (Dodgers), Cincinnati Reds, Boston Braves and New Tork Giants. Lombardi was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1986 by the Veterans' Committee after failing to be elected after appearing on 9 ballots from 1950 to 1967. During his eligibility, he didn't receive more than 16.4% of the vote. He retired with 1,792 hits, 190 home runs and a .306 batting average.
What makes him a Hall of Famer?
  • Won the World Series in 1940 with the Reds
  • 1938 NL MVP
  • 2-time batting champion (1938 and 1942)
  • Last catcher to win a batting title until Joe Mauer won it in 2006
  • 7-time all star (1936-1940, 1942 and 1943)
  • .306 career batting average is very good for a catcher
  • batted over .300 10 times in his career

Should he be a Hall of Famer?

  • Regarded as one of the slowest players of all-time
  • Grounded into 261 career double plays (20th all-time); leading the league 4 times
  • Led the league 9 times in passed balls (152 - career, 66th all-time)
  • Led the league in 1941 in stolen bases allowed (44)
  • Appeared on HOF ballot 9 times, averaging 6.27%
  • Never reached any 'Golden Ticket' numbers (3,000 hits, 500 home runs)

The verdict?

Lombardi was one the best-hitting catchers of all-time. Ok, he didn't hit for all that much power, but he definitely hit for average. A lot speaks to the fact that no other catcher would win a batting title between his batting crown of 1942 and Joe Mauer's of 2006. The catching position is a difficult one, and it takes its toll during a grueling season. Being able to hit consistently over the period of time that Lombardi did is definitely noteworthy. Does that make him a Hall of Famer? YES, I believe it does. The Veterans' Committee got this one right.


Lombardi caught both of Johnny Vander Meer's back to back no hitters. He also attempted suicide in 1953 after suffering from depression. He slit his throat from ear to earand begged not to be saved. He was saved, however, and made a full recovery.

An autographed index card from Lombardi averages approximately $70.00 and a signed baseball was not found on Ebay or any other memorabilia page.

1955 Topps #118 - Bob Purkey

Bob Purkey (b. 1929 - b. 2008) played in the majors from 1954 to 1966 for the Pirates, Reds and Cardinals. He was an All Star in 1958, 1961 and 1962. His best season came in 1962 when he went 23-5 with a 2.81 ERA. That year he finished third in Cy Young voting and 8th in MVP voting. He retired with a record of 129-115, 793 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.79.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

1971 Topps Pickup - Steve Garvey Rookie

Even though my card shop has closed (which I am still sad about), I still have one nearby that I can go to. The guy there still has some 1971 Topps cards that I need for my set. I got the Steve Garvey rookie card, now, the only card he has left for me is the Willie Mays. I'm s-l-o-w-l-y chipping away at this set. Seems like it is taking forever, but I'll be getting there sometime.

1955 Topps #117 - Mel Roach

Mel Roach (b. 1933) played in the majors from 1953-1954 and 1957-1962 for the Braves, Cubs and Phillies. He was primarily a utility infielder who ended his career with 119 hits, 7 home runs and a .238 batting average. He was a member of the World Series Champion 1957 Milwaukee Braves.

Monday, January 24, 2011

1955 Topps #116 - Tom Hurd

Tom Hurd (b. 1924 - d. 1982) played in the majors for three seasons (1954 - 1956) for the Red Sox. He ended his career with a 13-10 record, 96 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.96.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

All Things Must Come To An End

I knew it was coming when supplies stopped being ordered, but I hoped that something could be done to keep the doors open longer, but, the inevitable happened yesterday: The card shop I've been helping out at has finally gone out of business.
I have worked hard over the last several months doing everything I could to get some sales in (going to card shows, etc) but it wasn't enough. The economy crash of 2008-2009 and the ever increasing amount of card related websites has done in the neighborhood card shop.
The rent for the place was ridiculous, I won't disclose the amount, but I find it hard to see how the shop owner ever turned a profit with the amount of overhead that he had. Once his construction business tanked, I knew it was going to be hard for the shop to stay open.
To me, the worst part is what will all of the kids who came in on Saturdays end up doing now? Most were really gppd kids who I will keep in touch with, but I know that some of them will turn to 'alternate' forms of entertainment and will most likely go down some less than savory paths.
My lack of a part-time job doesn't concern me near as much as the fact that I'll probably never have the same experience as i was able to have at the shop. Most of the people who came in there thought I owned the place, but, I didn't. I wish, but I don't have enough money to invest in something like that. It is really sad, you HAVE to have benefits and health care. If I had my own shop, I don't know how long I would be able to sustain it and be able to pay for necessities for my wife and son. I hope to be able to open one, one day, but as it looks right now, it won't be for a while.
So, it was a great ride, the four years I was there. I'm going to miss a lot of the people who have come in.

1955 Topps #115 - Ellis Kinder

Ellis Kinder (b. 1914 - d. 1968) played in the majors from 1946 to 1957 for the Browns, Red Sox, Cardinals and White Sox. He had a career record of 102-71 with 749 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.43. He went 23 - 6 in 1949. He died at the age of 54 after undergoing open heart surgery.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

1955 Topps #114 - Lou Ortiz

Lou Ortiz (b. 1923 - d. 2010) did not reach the majors, from the information that I could gather. He was affiliated with the Cardinals for most of his career. He also bounced around to the Giants, Phillies and A's organizations.


Friday, January 21, 2011

1955 Topps #113 - Harry Brecheen

Harry Brecheen (b. 1914 - d. 2004) was a pitcher in the majors from 1940, 1943 to 1953 for the Cardinals and Browns. As a player, he was a member of the 1944 and 1946 World Series Champion Cardinals. After he retired with the Browns in 1953, he stayed with the team when they moved to Baltimore where he was their pitching coach from 1954 to 1967.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

1955 Topps #112 - Nelson King

Nelson 'Nellie' King (b. 1928 - d. 2010) played from 1954 to 1957 with the Pirates. He was 7-5 with an ERA of 3.58 and 72 strikeouts. After his playing career was over, he move to the broadcast booth for the Pirates. King passed away last year after battling Parkinson's disease.


Negro League Stamp Dedication

This post is long overdue. At the end of June last year, my buddy Corbin and I went to Washington, NC to check out the USPS dedication of the new (it was new then) Negro League stamp. As a part of the event, several former Negro Leaguers were on hand for the dedication.

I heard about the event from a fellow baseball fan. I figured that it would be a good chance to see a bit of history. Corbin took pictures for me, which is why it took a bit getting the post up.

Here is local legend Carl Long signing my baseball. I got baseballs signed by each of the former players. Everyone on the list posted above appeared at the show except for one of the guys and the female player, who was one of the ones I really wanted to meet. For the most part, they were pretty receptive, but Corbin and I did get lots of funny looks, if you know what I mean. I won't explore that any further.

Here is the actual dedication and all of the former players who showed up. It was a beautiful day, and a kind of historical event. I'm not too sure why they chose Washington, NC, but I'm glad I got a chance to go.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

1959 Topps #111 - Bob Milliken

Bob Milliken (b. 1926 - d. 2007) played for the Brooklyn Dodgers during the 1953 and 1954 seasons. In his brief time in the majors, he was 13-6 with 90 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.59.