It must have been 1982 or so and I was earning about $20 every Saturday helping my uncle put newspapers in racks around town. One day after completing the route, we stopped by a local baseball card shop.
If my memory serves me, baseball card shops were starting to spring up about then. A few years later, there would be hundreds to choose from.
As I made my way throught the shop, I felt like a kid in a candy store. I know that phrase is overused but that's the best way I can describe the feeling I had as I saw shelf after shelf of vintage cards in cases.
The pricetags were scarry for a 13-year-old. Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Earnie Banks, Willie Mays. Superstar cards selling for $20-30 each!
How could I justify spending my entire earnings on a single card? What would my mom say if I told her I spent it all on a baseball card?
Instead, I gravitated to a binder marked 25 cents. Looking through, I found my first poor old baseball cards. Warren Spahn, Bob Lemon, Ed Mathews, Luis Aparicio, Early Wynn, Al Kaline, Juan Marichal and this Willie Mays. All cards from the late 1950s into the 60s.
I was thrilled. I must have spent $3-$4. Each card went into my binder.
It was in that same shop that I bought my first Bowman, a 1955 Art Ditmar. Later I learned about Goudey and bought a 1933 Phil Collins. And then I saved up for my first T206, a George McQuillan.
I remember, for some reason, really wanting a 1933 Goudey Frankie Frisch. I must have called that shop every day for months asking the owner it's price. It was always too much.
A week ago I got a 1934 Goudey Frankie Frisch. I'm still waiting for that 1933.
It's one thing to have a pejorative nickname, it's another to have it printed on the back of your baseball card. At least I assume it's degrading, right?
When trying to find the meaning of 'Puddin-Head' I got several explanations.
One refers to the fact that Willie Jones wasn't the brightest bulb in the box. Another attributes it to a popular song of the 1930s. A third says Jones was hit in the head, not ducking while sliding into second base. A fourth says he actually liked to eat pudding.
So which was it? Anyone out there know?
Jones himself was a pretty good third baseman and two-time All-Star. He was an important part of the 1950 Whiz Kids team. And he had a unique nickname.
Today I learned that Allie Reynolds was part of the Creek Nation. And as a Native American ballplayer, he was nicknamed Superchief.
In baseball's days past, most Native American players were nicknamed Chief: Chief Bender, Chief Meyers.
Slow farmboys were called Rube: Rube Marquard, Rube Waddell.
Deaf players were called Dummy: Dummy Hoy. Dummy Taylor.
Today, these nicknames would not be tolerated. Reynolds played at least 40 years after the other players mentioned. I've never heard of anyone calling him Superchief. He's always been known as Allie as far as I knew.
But that's not the case for the others. I would have to think hard to tell you Chief Bender's real first name is Charles. And did you know Marquard's real name is Richard and Hoy's is William?
Reynolds was actually a pretty good pitcher for some pretty good teams.
He threw two no-hitters in one year, was named to six All-Star games and won 6 world championships as a member of the New York Yankees.
Many consider him a borderline Hall-of Famer. More than just a nickname.
I had never seen one of these cards before this one arrived a few weeks back.
The 32-card set was exclusively comprised of members of the Pacific Coast League's Oakland Oaks. And while Charlie Dressen would make a name for himself as manager of Brooklyn's Boys of Summer from 1951-53, the best know acorn on the team was a young infielder named Billy Martin.
Only available in the Bay Area, this is a fairly rare set but not a particularly expensive one. Distributed in loaves of Remar bread, samples can be found for under $10.
What a treat to go along with that peanut butter and jelly sandwich.