Archive for vintage baseball cards

More Vintage Bargain Bin Finds: Rookies and a GREAT comic

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , on August 11, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

You know you’ve found a good card shop when you’ve been shopping there for years and can still find something you didn’t know they carried.

Such was the case recently when I make a trip to one of my shops, the one that I traditionally go to when I’ve got a case of vintage card fever. I asked the shop keeper if he had added anything new to the bargain bins and he said he hadn’t, but was preparing to within the next week or so. BUT as I nosed my way around the shop I spotted on the back wall a dozen or so boxes marked “Vintage, 75 % off high book.” Needless to say I was intrigued.

This shop is a set collectors dream. They have EVERY common in the store sorted by year and set number. Literally, there are probably 500 5,000 boxes full of cards on shelves. But up until recently, I didn’t know this included vintage! And as it turns out, this shop has a ton more vintage than I thought. For set builders, they have 50 or 60 boxes of pre 1970 stuff all sorted by year, set and number … as well as condition. The low-end is 75 percent off high book, mid-grade is 50 percent off high book and the better condition commons are 10 percent off high book.

It’s in my nature to gravitate toward the lower end stuff so I poured over three 5,000 boxes and made the best use of $20 that I could. Enjoy the finds:

The Ray Murray card above is one of two cards that I had been seeking for a few months. You see, one day I was offered this Murray card on the Topps Million Card Giveaway site and before declining the offer — they wanted my 1953 Bill Hunter rookie — I read the back and became infatuated with the comic. Now it is mine to enjoy forever.

The 1954 Topps set is one that I really like. I’ve toyed with the idea of building it seeing as how I’ve got most of the big names from the set including Jackie Robinson and Ted Williams, and rookies of Hank Aaron and Ernie Banks. After nabbing the Murray, I grabbed the Beckett Annual book and started looking for rookie cards from the set. I knew that the good rookies would be in the showcase, but I am working on an Ultimate Rookie Card Collection that entails getting the RCs of every player who had a card produced from 1933 to present. This would be the theme for the day as I was working a small budget.

You won’t believe the reaction when I saw this card. Can you figure out why I nearly busted out laughing? Hint: “I don’t like you, Mav, because you’re dangerous.” The Kazanski name is the same as the character “Iceman” from Top Gun. And for a split second, I had convinced myself that Val Kilmer’s character was named “Ted” and not “Tom,” and that the writers were inspired by this Phillies shortstop. No such luck. But Kazanski, who ultimately spent half a decade in the majors with five teams, does have the honor of being the first shortstop since 1920 to drive in four runs in his major league debut, something Cubs’ rookie Starlin Castro accomplished — and eclipsed — earlier this year. If ya didn’t know, now ya know. And now I’ve got his 1954 Topps rookie card. Score!

Meet Pedro Ramos, a Cuban-born pitcher whose career was spent with eight teams over 15 years. Ramos’ career is fascinating … he led the league in losses four seasons, but was apparently a huge hit as a Yankee reliever in 1964. And eight years before being a dominant Yankee, he gave up a ginormous home run to Yankee Legend Mickey Mantle, one that supposedly just missed leaving Yankee Stadium by inches — the ball struck a facade in the upper deck of right field.

From one Yankee player to another, here’s a 1958 Topps rookie of Jerry Lumpe, who broke into the Bigs as the New York second baseman. Lumpe played 12 seasons and collected 1,314 hits in 1,371 games. Sounds impressive but his career batting average was .260. He did, however, finish 25th in the AL MVP race as a Kansas City Athletic in 1962.

A Hall of fame rookie ca … nope, not so fast. This is Earl Averill, Jr. I knew the name sounded really familiar, and I was stoked to find this 1959 Topps rookie card for a buck. But I admittedly was thrown off when in the showcase below there was a 1934 Batter Up of Earl Averill (Sr.) Meh. I guess if I had read the comic on the back I would have known what was going on. Side note, gotta love that Topps didn’t color over the Cleveland ball cap Averill is wearing on his Cubs rookie card.

So, Red Sox manager Terry Francona is often called Tito because that is the name by which his father went by while playing in the Major Leagues. And Tito’s real name is John, which sounds nothing like Tito. For than matter, neither does Terry. Go figure. But hey, Terry and Tito, err John, surely look alike … although it might be a bit tough to tell given the condition of this 1957 Topps rookie of the elder Francona.

I gotta say, one of the first times I went digging through the vintage bargain boxes at this shop it was in direct response to something that happened on Twitter. Earlier this year, Beckett Baseball Editor Chris Olds and I were briefly stumped by an image Topps had posted — that of a retired Reds pitcher signing a Topps Heritage dual autograph card. If you’re so inclined, you can read my initial post on that topic here. Well, in April I was unaware that the shop had these boxes. As it turns out, they had SEVEN Wieand rookies; I grabbed two — one for me and one for TTM.

1960 is a fun year for rookies, I love the horizontal design for the Rookie Stars. And while there were a dozen or so rookies I could have bought during this trip — I’ll have to get them later — I opted to buy this Dick Ellsworth who is another player whom I had learned about through the Topps Million site. I’ll write about his later, but a few days ago I picked up THE Ellsworth card to own. You might know what it is, but if you don’t, check out last month’s Beckett Baseball. It is discussed there.

As noted above, there are hundreds of rookies I do not own, and I purposely left a lot of them behind because I wanted to work within a small budget. It keeps me grounded and keeps me hunting and returning to this shop for business. But there are still five other cards I bought on this trip, all of which depict hall of famers. On a side note, I am working on another project that entails owning original cards (or reasonably priced vintage) of every person in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

There’s been a trend in recent years to make cards of old, deceased or retired players to invoke some historical significance in today’s cards. For some reason, I can’t seem to embrace the idea of seeing a Mel Ott card decked out in refractor technology, gloss and gold foil. So instead of chasing such cards, I turn to the vintage sets that honor the old time players, like this 1961 Fleer card. Eventually I’ll have to pony up the cash to get Ott’s 1933 Goudey rookie, this will do for now.

While I was chatting with the shop keeper, he mentioned that he had just acquired an SGC 5 T205 card of Chief Bender. And for 10 seconds I held the card in my hands, examining the beauty of the century old cardboard. His price? $250. I liked it, but not THAT much. I settled for this 1961 Fleer Bender for $1. I consider it a place holder.

What does a 2,400 hits and a career .324 batting average get you? A place in the Hall of Fame … on his eighth term of eligibility.  This is the first Medwick card I’ve ever owned, and it will have to be the best until I find a decently priced copy of his 1933 Goudey Heads Up rookie. It will be mine. Oh yes, one day, it will be mine.

Technically, I ‘d already owned a Charles Comiskey card — but it is one of those Borden Cracker Jack reprints (like this Shoeless Joe Jackson seen here) and it is about the size of a quarter, literally. It seemed like a no brainer for me to add this Comiskey to my collection as it, too, will be a placeholder for one of his 1887 Allen & Ginter cards.

And finally, we have a card of one Cornelius McGillicuddy, better known as Connie Mack. Oddly enough I was looking the other day for his 1941 PlayBall rookie card and missed out on it for like $40.

If you’re keeping score at home, that’s 14 cards for $20.

The appeal of the 1953 Topps set is too much to resist

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , on August 8, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

Ask anyone what their favorite vintage Topps set is and they’ll more than likely tell you the 1952 Topps set. Why? Because it was the “first” standard Topps card set, and because the set houses many high-dollar cards including probably the second-most iconic card in our hobby, the Mickey Mantle. But if you ask me, the 1953 set is by far he most compelling of the early Topps baseball sets.

I applaud Cardboard Junkie for his efforts in completing this masterful set — it’s a task that one day I’d like to chase.

The cards are beautifully designed, both front and back. The front’s feature bright-colored artistry, that for he most part features damn-good portraits of the players. Oddly enough, however, the Willie Mays in this set might be the ugliest vintage Mays to exist. Sadly, I can’t say that I own one.

But I do own a few Red Sox commons, as well as the first card from the set, none other than Jackie Robinson, and as of Friday, I now own the Eddie Mathews.

The Mathews card, the image of which will always be stuck in my head, party because of Dayf’s site header image, is probably as close as I’ll ever get to actually owning Mathews’ rookie, which is the very last card in the 1952 Topps set and carries a hefty price tag — Beckett lists it at $10,000, they sell on eBay for no less than $1,000 — or the price of an actual 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle.

The Mathews rookie is a high-number shortprint. Coincidentally, this 1953 Topps card of the hall of famer is double printed. Go figure.

Cardboard Porn: 1909-1911 T206 Ty Cobb (Red Port.)

Posted in Cardboard Porn with tags , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

Cardboard Porn: Because sometimes words just get in the way.

This is the 10th in an on-going series of card images titled “Cardboard Porn.”

Fishing for original Allen & Ginter

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , on July 21, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

It gives me great pleasure to announce that I have finally obtained a trading card that is more than a century old. True, I own baseball cards that are now 100 years old. But in recent days, I have had an itch for an original 1880s Allen & Ginter card that I had to scratch. Problem: Damn near any baseball guy from the 1887 set will cost a pretty penny.

So I created my own solution: Buy an 1889 Allen & Ginter “50 Fish from American Waters.”

The card found me more than me finding it. I hit my card shop before work Tuesday in search of additional Helmar packs like the ones I wrote about yesterday. What I ended up finding — in addition to two more packs — was this 111-year-old trading card.

Granted fish are not baseball players, and the market for these cards is relatively scarce. Hell, I bet lots of people didn’t even know they existed. But I like this card … and the $3 price tag certain helped rush me to the register.

Now you probably don’t give a crap about some card showing a fish. It didn’t face King Kelly. But the card really is something to marvel at. The image shown here is more than just another picture of a fish. It’s actually a lithograph, and when you look at it under the right light, you can see there is a metallic finish to the once-bright colors.

And while the front is colorful, it is the dull, monotone back that really catches my attention. I love the font used for the Allen & Ginter logo — very Greek-esque — and I like the catch phrase “You will catch one in each box of ten cigarettes.”

I had a few choices for century-old cardboard (Non Allen & Ginter, mostly Old Mill and other tobacco brands) at prices less than $10. I could have bought cards featuring birds or actresses from the 19th century, but I actually like fish — fishing is actually one of my hobbies. And now that I’ve acquired this Pampano card, I find myself in a position where I will be fishing for more species from this wonderful set. Among the highest on my want list are probably the Sturgeon and the Striped Bass.

Cardboard Porn: 1954 Topps Billy Martin

Posted in Cardboard Porn with tags , , , , , , , on July 14, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

Cardboard Porn: Because sometimes words just get in the way.

This is the fifth in an on-going series of card images titled “Cardboard Porn.”

The Vintage Bargain Bin Challenge

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , on July 10, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

I kind of wish I could take credit for this, but the idea is not mine. The concept was a simplistic one: oldest card at the lowest price wins. Wins what you ask? Nothing, just bragging rights for about 5 minutes. It was a spur-of-the-moment challenge thrown at me by Beckett Baseball editor Chris Olds via Twitter. I mentioned on Twitter that I wanted to make a quick run to the card shop to pour through the “price-friendly” vintage boxes and next thing you know we’re both heading to the shops to win the challenge.

Well, I’m not sure if Chris plans to show off his piece on the Beckett Blog, but apparently he unearthed an original 1909-1911 T206 common White Sox player for $9.50. The best I could do was buy a trimmed 1952 Bowman Eddie Robinson (also White Sox) for a buck. I think he won.

But as I mentioned, I had other reasons to be there: I wanted to find something worth owning at a cheap price. And as usual I did — I purchased nine cards for a total of $20.50. The lot includes five Hall of Famers.

I’ll start with this 1960 Topps World Series celebration card of the Los Angeles Dodgers. I always run across these cards when I go digging through these vintage boxes, but I recently received some cards from Night Owl and owe him some cards. I hope he does not have this one already. Cost: $1

While we’re on the $1 price point, I might as well show off this 1966 Topps Harmon Killebrew that is in brutal condition. When I saw it was Killebrew I knew I had to have it. And then right before I sat down to write this piece I realized that this card seemed really familiar to me. Reason? Last time I hit this card shop’s boxes in April I bought the same card in better condition for the same price. Doh!

All Star cards really have lost their luster over the years, but the AS singles from the 50s are still awesome to me. In this case, even more so because this 1959 Topps card features former Red Sox slugger Jackie Jensen. Not going to set the hobby on fire with this card, but it’ll look good in my Red Sox collection, right next to the signed 1954 Bowman Jensen I own. Cost: $1

And now the Hall of Famers …

For the last two years, I’d been wondering if there had ever been a card made of Branch Rickey, the baseball executive who facilitated the Major League Debut of Jackie Robinson. Sure enough this 1960 Fleer Baseball Greats was sitting in the bin with an incredible price tag of two bits … 50 cents. C’mon, now.

Sparky Anderson has been one of my favorite baseball personalities. I had a chance to get his signature in person in 1991 at a Tiger-A’s game in Oakland and have since re-acquired his signature through the mail to replace the in-person one which has been lost over the years. It was always my intention to get his rookie card for my on-again, off-again rookie card project. Finally, I acquired one at a price I was comfortable with. Cost: $4

As was the case with Sparky, I had the opportunity to meet Orlando Cepeda during a free signing session at a local Piazza Hut. I forget if I told this story before, but Cepeda showed up like two hours late, but arrived nonetheless and signed everything in sight … at least until he got annoyed with some of my friends who had collected probably a half dozen signatures that day. At the time I thought he was an asshole. At the time I was 9. At the time none of us really appreciate when a Hall of Famer is signing autographs for free. Anyway, here we have a second-year card of Cepeda. Figured it was a must-add to my collection since I have yet to purchase his rookie. Cost: $2

I have had a penchant for finding vintage Carl Yastrzemski cards for almost nothing. I once purchased at thrift store a copy of his 1968 Topps card for a dime. Yes, a dime, as in the cost of two mini Tootsie Rolls. And somewhere else I purchased his 1965 Topps card for $5. Might not be a steal like the ’68 was, but $5 is solid nonetheless. And alas we have this 1969 Topps All-Star card for what I think was a good price: Cost $2

And what better way to close out a post about vintage cards than to show off yet another reasonably priced Mickey Mantle card. It may not be one of the nicest looking Mantles, or one that is even worth a ton, but this 1965 card commemorating a game-winning and record-setting home run he hit during the 1964 World Series seemed like a bargain.  Interesting to note that the image shown here doesn’t look like Mantle is connecting for a home run. In fact, it looks like he is striking out on a ball picked out of the dirt by St. Louis Cardinals catcher Tim McCarver. Cost: $8

Baseball Hall of Famers: Class of 1936

Posted in Hall of Famers with tags , , , , , , , , on May 7, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

Got an idea I’m unveiling here. As I move into a new era of card collecting, I’m going to showcase my cards from another era simply by grouping them by the year the depicted player was inducted into the Hall of Fame. We start at the beginning: 1936



1909-1911 T206 Piedmont Ty Cobb Red Background



1933 Goudey Babe Ruth



1909-1911 T206 Sweet Caporal Dark Cap Christy Mathewson



1909-1911 T206 Polar Bear Walter Johnson



Baseball Greats post card Honus Wagner -- circa 1960s

Updated 2/26/12