Archive for New York Yankees

Thrift Treasures Part XXIII: I (HEART) the ’70s!

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 14, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

I didn’t live a single minute of the 1970s, but for whatever reason I find the entire decade intriguing. From the music, cars and television, to the quaffed hair and abundance of denim and polyester, the era before my birth has captured my imagination. What was it really like to live during this time, when some folks considered “classic rock” music to be noise pollution, when baseball uniforms were uglier than sin, and when Star Wars was merely a new movie? I’m never really going to know, but thanks to some cardboard I found at a thrift store on Tuesday, I can get a sense of the time. These 40 cards cost me $2, their real value is in the eye of the beholder.

We’ll start with some non-sport items because they are probably my favorite of the bunch.

These 1976 Topps Autos of ’77 cards are simply awesome. One of the first cards I pulled from the box was that of the Pacer; you would not believe the smile I had on my face. At this point, the Pacer is a complete joke, but it is still somewhat of a pop culture icon. For me to find a card of the Pacer is simply amazing. Aside from the photo, my favorite aspect of this card is that it touts the “360-degrees visability.” (Yes, it is mispelled) AWESOME. For the record, I never knew these cards existed. I’m tempted to go find others.


While non-sport cards are really not my thing, I must say that when the cards come from the 70s, they never cease to amaze me. Here we’ve got two of one of my all-time favorite actors, John Travolta. He starred in a TV show called “Welcome Back Kotter,” which was about a high school alumnus who returned to be a teacher. Travolta starred as bad-ass Italian teenager Vinny Barbarino, who is portrayed on these cards. Love the quote bubbles.


By the time I started watching sitcoms, “Happy Days” was already in re-runs. Having said that, I still found Fonz, Richie and Potsie to be rather amusing. Imagine the joy that came over me when I found these three, particularly the card with the caption “Easy girls, one at a time!”


I’m going to admit something I’ve never owned up to on this blog:  I hadn’t watched the original “Star Wars” movies until 2002, a full year after a friend of mine purchased the trilogy as a present for my 21st birthday. That fact may have played into why these cards intrigued me so. I’ve NEVER seen C-3PO’s name spelled “See-Threepio.” I still feel like this is an error, but obviously it is not. And the Carrie Fisher card … was she hot for her time? Can’t get a good feel on this.


This card was so odd that I had to buy it, this is from the 1970 Fleer “Ripley’s Believe It of Not!” set. The card is so busy I have no words.


And now the sports portion of our program … There were “old” cards from three sports in this box, baseball, basketball and football. I chose cards from all three sports.


Not a real noteworthy rookie card, but a rookie card nonetheless. Johnson played 10 seasons in the NBA and currently is the sports director at Community College of Philadelphia. (H/T: Wikipedia) Maybe I’ll send this to him for fun.


Six vintage Pro Football Hall of Fame members. The Griese and Youngblood cards are the worst condition of the bunch, but they were must-buys given the stash I found. The cards I really love here are the Franco Harris (love that hair) and the Ken Houston. Check out the shades!


Starting with a trio of rookies, most notable names here are Ken Macha and Rick Rhoden. Unfortunately the Larry Anderson is the only guy on the 1977 card that is not an official rookie card.

A couple of MLB Dads. Cookie is the Dad of MLB Network’s Victor Rojas, and Steve is the father of Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher.

Hey, look, it’s Bucky Dent before he became Bucky F’n Dent.

Believe it or not, I own a Greg Luzinski player model glove and this, I believe, is my first Luzinski card. Good times.

I never knew Ron Santo played for the White Sox! Apparently he played one season for the Pale Hose and then hung up the spikes. Atta boy, Ronnie! This may be Santo’s last card (as an active player). Won’t know for sure because Beckett’s Web site is acting up again. (Update: This is his second-to-last card, he has one in 1975 Topps)

Solid set of Red Sox from 1978 Topps. Problem: They are is terrible condition. Oh well.

One of the best defensive first basement of all time … and seen here on his fourth-year card without that legendary mustache. Kinda off, no?

There is only one reason why I would buy this card. Can you guess why? Hint: Second row from the bottom, first player on the left.

Not a huge fan of these 1975 Topps MVP cards, but I needed the Yaz for my Red Sox collection, and Johnny Bench/Boog Powell was a bonus.

A couple of Hall of … Oh, nevermind. These two baseball legends are remembered on these 1978 Topps cards for feats they accomplished the year before. The Jackson performance is legendary.

Third-year cards of two Hall of Famers who came into the sport and left at the same time. Awesome.

And lastly a pair of 1977 Fleer stickers featuring the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers. Don’t know about you, but I kind of miss the idea of stickers in my packs of cards.

Rookie Card Showcase: 1953 Topps Bob Cerv

Posted in Rookie Card Showcase with tags , , , , , , on December 30, 2009 by Cardboard Icons

This is part 20 of an ongoing series. To see the rest of this series, click here.

Bob Cerv was a Yankee at three times in his career, briefly replaced Mickey Mantle during the Hall of Famer’s rookie season, and in his first year as a starter away from New York, excelled by smashing 38 homers, eclipsing 100 RBIs and becoming an all-star en route to finishing fourth in the MVP voting in 1958. But these reasons are not why I think of Cerv. In fact, I hadn’t known about Cerv until Billy Crystal’s movie “*61.” The movie depicts Cerv as being the roommate of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris during the 1961 season in which the two Yankee sluggers chased Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record. That must have been a hell of an experience for Cerv, who mainly was a backup for the Yankees during all of his stints with the club.

Doin’ Two Babes at the Same Time

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2009 by Cardboard Icons

Made you look, didn’t I?

So here’s a hypothetical question I’ve been pondering as it pertains to my two Babe Ruth vintage cards: You’ve only got room for one of the pictured cards in your collection in the depicted condition. Which do you choose?

Your choices include a 1960 Fleer Babe Ruth in decent condition, off-center top to bottom and right to left, rounded corners and some surface wear; and a 1967 Topps Venezuelan Babe Ruth in horrible shape, akin to the remains of a bar of soap found in a single man’s shower.

Now before you answer, I want you to consider all the factors.

The ’60 Babe Ruth is older, in nicer condition and features him in action, sorta. The back also has his career statistics (pitching and hitting), which is a big plus. It is a vintage Ruth, a card of which you can be proud to own. It’s decently valued at $100 in Beckett Baseball, but copies can be attained on eBay for about $20 in similar shape. For any collector, such a card would be a nice addition.

The ’67 Ruth is newer and just beat to a pulp. It’s rough around the edges, the card contains FIVE corners because part of the card has fallen off, it’s got evidence of having been stapled to something, and the back is written in Spanish — no statistics. Beckett Baseball has it valued at $700. But here’s where things get tricky. You’re going to have a hard time finding this card on eBay. It was produced for the people in Venezuelan four decades ago. There has not been a copy of this card on eBay in forever.

Both cards are encapsulated and deemed authentic by Beckett Grading.

Knowing these factors, which do you decide is right for your collection: The more plentiful, better condition 1960 Fleer card, or the much rarer, yet worse condition, 1967 Topps Venezuelan?

Remember, we are only talking about the pictured cards in this condition. You MUST choose only one. The card you choose can and will be the only Babe Ruth vintage card you ever own.

An unlikely pair of Yankee blue refractors

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , on December 11, 2009 by Cardboard Icons

I still love refractors. No matter how plentiful they become and worthless in the eyes of collectors, these shiny versions of certain Topps manufactured cards still blow me away. That is why I sometimes purchase small lots of refractors at discount prices. A few years back I picked up a lot of blue refractors and among the lot were these two 2006 Bowman Chrome blue refractors of AJ Burnett and Nick Swisher. Who would have thought that three years later they would end up being teammates for one of the most stories franchises.

Thrift Treasures Part XX: “You’ve got 27 outs to win.”

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , on December 1, 2009 by Cardboard Icons

The smell was putrid. If you’ve ever been around someone who works outside all day and doesn’t wear deodorant, you probably know the odor for which I am speaking. That was the particular scent emanating from within an antique store I stopped at Monday to see if they had any baseball cards. I’d been there before and had good luck. Back in 2003 I saw for sale a complete 1986 Fleer Update set — the one with a Barry Bonds rookie — but was not willing to fork over the requested $29.99. (Still a morale victory for even finding cards.) And just two years later I found a stack of a dozen 1952 Topps cards that cost only a buck a piece. It should be noted that all 12 (including a pair of Red Sox) of the cards were in horrible shape, but they were authentic 1952s, how could I pass on them? So when I went back on Monday, I figured there was a chance there could be something, and boy was I right.

As I walked past the first showcase, I saw two stacks of vintage cards bound with rubber bands. I could tell they were from the 1960s (none of them were oversized) and they appeared to be decent condition.

As I thumbed through them I uncovered what I thought to be a Tony Oliva rookie and figured my trip had been worth it. But just a few cards later I uncovered a 1964 Topps Casey Stengel card that appeared to be signed. Fearing that the shop owner would notice the card was signed and charge me more, I left it in the stack as I quickly shuffled through the rest.

In all there were about 125 cards, more than half of which were Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox cards, not exactly two teams with a ton of talent in the mid 1960s. There were no Harmon  Killebrew or Nellie Fox cards

Knowing that the Casey Stengel card had to be mine, I figured I had to find a few other cards to mask the greatness of the inked one, and to make the purchase worthwhile for the curmudgeon working the counter. This is the kind of place that is not interested in my $2 transaction if I’ve got to use a credit card.

I gathered 10 cards for purchase and headed to the counter when the man told me that I needed to spend $5 more if I was going to leave with the cards. Frustrated, I headed back to the stacks to look for five more cards, half contemplating just leaving the store without the Stengel. I asked the man if he had any more cards; he said he did.

In a drawer under the register he pulled two small stacks also bound by rubber bands. He said these were $5 each, which made me grumble when the first card I saw was  a 1989 Pro Set Deion Sanders rookie. But I saw a 1962 Topps Stan Musial card and a 1968 Topps AL HR Leaders card (w/ Carl Yastrzemski) and figured that one of these two would be worth the bounty he asked. I chose the Musial because it was more appealing. I ended up with these for $15:

1963 and 1964 Topps high numbers

1968 Topps NL HR Leaders w/ Hank Aaron (badly miscut); back has names circled.

1964 Topps Tony Oliva, which I mistook for his rookie. Oliva's expression says it all.

1969 Topps Frank Tarkenton

1970 Topps Gale Sayers

1962 Topps Stan Musial (In Action)

1964 Topps Casey Stengel, autographed

As I said earlier, when I saw the Stengel, I knew it had to be mine, but I was really unaware of how much his signatures go for. If someone would have offered this card to me for $15, I would have balked. And I would have had egg on my face. Stengel signature’s aren’t rare, but they are not exactly common place. Stengel, known for several quotes including the one in the title of this blog, died in 1975 so it’s not like he’s been sitting at home all these years signing baseball cards. And best I can tell, this signature matches all of the ones that are being offered for sale on eBay with prices of more than $100 each. This card, which I assume is real and will keep in my collection, is a treasure in its own right. I mean this is the guy who led the Yankees to SEVEN WORLD SERIES TITLES from 1949 through 1958. Are you kidding me?

Dear Topps, about your 2010 base set …

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , on November 30, 2009 by Cardboard Icons

Dear Topps,

I saw the design for your base set 2010 and I would like to say that I enjoy it a bit. I know it’s a fusion of an old Bazooka set and a Topps set, but it looks a bit refreshing. Traditionalists may not like it because it looks pretty modern, but I dig it. Anyhow, that is not the reason I am writing today. My reason for this post is to let you know that as a collector I would implore you NOT to make Alex Rodriguez, David Wright or Ryan Howard the first card in the set. Hell, don’t even make it of a certain player. Please, pretty please, return to the days of making the World Series championship team the first card in the set. In the 1970s Topps did this for a few years and it looks pretty neat.  And I don’t mean to make it a gimmick either. Don’t short print it. Don’t add a picture of Hans Solo or C-3po. And please leave Mickey Mantle out of the Yankee celebration. Just a straight up Yanks celebration, maybe even a shot of them hoisting the WS Trophy. Bottom line, do the right thing and honor the World Series team with the very first card in each year’s set. I’m sick of seeing Alex Rodriguez grace the first card in the set. He has been the first card in three of the last four sets (2006, 2008 and 2009.)

Yours in cardboard,



Big Thanks to Wax Heaven

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , on November 25, 2009 by Cardboard Icons

G0nna make this short and sweet. A few weeks back Mario broke a pack of Triple Threads baseball supplied by Topps and out of it he pulled this sweet Jon Lester auto-relic. I immediately inquired about it and he said I could have it for nothing more than my postage-paid bubble mailer. When the card arrived, it also came with a little container of other goodies including about a dozen random Red Sox cards, a UFC Michael Bisping Auto redemption (Topps estimates it’ll be ready in March) and this Derek Jeter Upper Deck short print card commemorating his achievement as the all-time Yankee hits leader. If there is one thing I have learned in my 18 months as a blogger it’s that there are a lot of generous people in our hobby.