1952 Topps
Joe Garagiola

The 1952 Topps design is considered by most to be the best. And when it comes to individual cards, this Joe Garagiola ranks right up there too.

My memories of Garagiola are not as a player but as an announcer with the NBC game of the week. I remember Garagiola and Tony Kubek and Vin Scully and Bob Costas. As a kid, I would have to tune into the Saturday game to get my baseball fix. There was no ESPN and my local team was not on T.V.

Garagiola was a good catcher who was considered a great prospect. He grew up on the same street at another catcher — Yogi Berra. Of his catching abilities, Garagiola once said: "Not only was I not the best catcher in the Major Leagues, I wasn't even the best catcher on my street."


1948 Bowman
Bill McCahan

What can I say? This poor old baseball card was well loved.

McCahan was a two-sport athlete playing both baseball and professional basketball — a member of the Syracuse Nationals of the National Basketball League.

As a baseball player, he threw a no-hitter in his rookie season of 1947 against the Washington Senators. A second-inning throwing error kept him from the perfect game.

A few observations about this card:

Bill McCahan is not exactly a household name. How did this card survive? I mean, when the card got to a certain point, why wasn't it just tossed in the garbage?

How did it get so worn? My guess is it lived in the back pocket of it's first owner. Or, maybe it was kept in his shoe for safekeeping.

And finally, who would want this old piece of cardboard? The answer: me. And I love it.


1970 Topps
Jerry McNertney

Choosing which cards I post is sometimes difficult.

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you've probably come to realize I'm partial to the older cards. The older and poorer the better.

So when I came across this 1970 Topps card, I had reservations. It's not of a notable player. It's not particularly rare. It's not valuable. It's got it's share of creases and bends, put I've posted much worse.

The thing is does have going for it is the team: Seattle Pilots. Check out that uniform and cap.

The Pilots were born in 1969 and by 1970 had already vacated the Pacific Northwest to become the Milwaukee Brewers.

New owner Bud Selig didn't get final approval to move the team until only a few days before the 1970 season was scheduled to begin. He had intended to change the team's identity but was left with the old Seattle uniforms and colors.

Milwaukee never did change its colors. Though a different shading, the blue and gold remain. Thanks to the Seattle Pilots.


1960 Topps
Warren Spahn

I learned something new today. Warren Spahn hit 35 homers in his career —ranking him third behind Wes Ferrell (38) and Bob Lemon (37) for pitchers all time.

He was around a long time, playing 21 seasons and acquiring 363 wins. His cards are readily available and relatively affordable.

And I've got my share.

I must have more poor old Warren Spahn's than any other player. And this card does not disappoint. Take a look: creased, rounded corners, scuffed, pen marks, glued to a scrapbook and glasses drawn on his face.

When it comes to poor old baseball cards this one checks all the boxes except for ripped in two.

For all it's flaws, I love it. How can you not love Warren Spahn?


1934 Goudey
Frankie Frisch

I once had a colleague propose that baseball's Hall-of-Fame should be limited to a certain number of members. An interesting argument. 

In other words, if a new player is deserving, an older player must be removed. Top 100 players only.

Frankie Frisch would not approve. Some say it's his fault the Hall has so many mediocre players.

As a member of the Veteran's Committee, Frisch is said to have used his influence to usher in what some consider the Hall's least-deserving members.

My thought is this: Either you're a Hall-of-Famer or not. If you need to make an argument for a player's inclusion, maybe he's not deserving. A Hall-of-Famer should be automatic, you should't need to think long about whether they're worthy.

Rickey Henderson: No argument.
Derek Jeter: No argument.
Lee Smith: No dice.

Is baseball's Hall-of-Fame oversubscribed?


1962 Topps
Roger Maris

I've been waiting for this card for a while. As a collector of poor old baseball cards, I've been looking for that perfect 1962 Roger Maris.

And by perfect, I mean perfectly poor.

As I've mentioned before, I rarely purchase any baseball card that is not in poor condition. I can't justify spending big bucks for a card I can get for a fraction of the price.

Plus, I like my cards to tell a story. And this card's story probably includes the back of someone's jeans pocket.

As the new single-season home run king, Maris was on top of the baseball world in 1962 and must have been one of the most desirable cards of that year's set. That, along with the fact it's card No. 1, means condition will always be a concern.

I can just imagine unwrapping this gem in the summer of '62. I'm sure it's new owner couldn't help sharing it with friends, keeping it in his back pocket for safekeeping.

Come to think of it, that's where I kept it when it arrived a few days ago – in my back pocket (in it's rigid sleeve) ready to show the world my latest find.


1948-50 Japanese Menko
Tadayoshi Kajioka

This arrived today.

A month after a winning bid on eBay, my first Japanese baseball card arrived from half-way around the world.

The listing said it's of Tadayoshi Kajioka, a pitcher who would win 131 games in the Japanese league.

Is it really Kajioka? I have no way of knowing.

Does anyone out there read Japanese? I'd love to know what the card says.

Regardless, it's a valued addition to my poor old baseball card collection.


1919 W514
Pickles Dilhoefer (graded)

As a matter of principle, I don't usually buy graded cards.

You might say I'm downright opposed to encasing these poor old baseball cards in plastic.

But this card is different.

As a kid, before the Internet, I used to buy most of my cards from a dealer in Northern California. He would send me a list of cards he had available and every few weeks I'd place my order.

Then, like now, I gravitated to the older cards — T206's and strip cards made up the bulk of what I collected.

Back then, HOF strip cards would run about $10 or so. Bigger names like Ty Cobb would be more. Commons would be available for about $3-$5.

Except Pickles Dilhoefer. Pickles would always be listed at HOF prices. I couldn't justify spending that kind of money for a ballplayer who's only claim to fame was being part of a trade involving Grover Cleveland Alexander.

Thirty years later, I want Pickles Dilhoefer.

While it's never about the money, my purchase of these poor old cards are in a sense an investment. I always try to pay what I think the card is worth, never more.

But when it came to Pickles, my sense of 'want' overtook my sense of 'worth.' This card cost me $27. Is it worth it? I'm not sure.

But it doesn't matter. I am the proud owner of my very own Pickles Dilhoefer.


1962 Post (Life Magazine)
Mickey Mantle

On the surface, this card appears to be a 1962 Post Cereal card, taken right off the back of the box. But a few clues tell otherwise. The most notable being the advertising on the back.

Post inserted two cards in issues of the April 13, 1962 Life Magazine. It was part of an ad linking Post Cereal and subscriptions to Life Magazine.

Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, coming off their battle for the single-season HR record, were promoted heavily and the only two players to appear in the advertisement. The perforated edges and lack of blue lines separating the stats provide us with other clues that this card is not a cereal box card.

Sometime during this card's life, Mantle was ripped in two. Was it done when separating the card from the ad? Was is done in later years? Who knows?

What I can tell you is it wasn't done recently. That transparent tape is brittle and old.

If only baseball cards could talk.


1934 Goudey
Gerald Walker

Gerald Walker is no Joe DiMaggio.

Walker, more commonly known as Gee Walker, was a pretty good player. He was named an All Star in 1937, beginning that season (on Opening Day) with an "unnatural cycle" (a cycle in reverse order: HR, 3B, 2B, 1B).

He had a good career.

So who would scratch out Walker's name in 1934, replacing it with a not-yet-Major Leaguer named DiMaggio?

My guess is this creative drawing was done a few years later. DiMaggio was in the Pacific Coast League in 1934, an outfielder with the San Francisco Seals. He would not make his Yankees debut until 1936.

Was DiMaggio even on the baseball world's radar in 1934? Maybe he was. In 1933, DiMaggio hit .340 and was undoubtedly in the news for his 61-game hitting streak. Between May 28 and July 25, he hit .405 (104-for-257).

I'm sure that opened a few eyes.

Maybe even for a young baseball collector hoping to have the next up-and-coming star. You think?