7.29.2008

1960 Topps
Bill White


Bill White had a solid 13-year career for the Giants, Cardinals and Phillies in the 1950s-60s.

He was selected to five All-Star games and won seven consecutive gold gloves at first base. He later had a career as a broadcaster and was the National League's president from 1989-1994.

So why did I find this card in the bargain box for just 25 cents?

Here's a guy that proved himself as a player, broadcaster and executive yet his card is being had for just a quarter.

A 2008 Topps Opening Day card of Clay Buchholz books at $2.50. Phil Hughes and Ryan Braun are $1.

Will they prove to be stars of the future? Maybe.

Will they be named to five All-Star Games or win seven gold gloves when thay call it a career? I don't know.

In 20 years, which card will be worth more?

In 20 years, which of these athletes would have contributed more to the game?

I'd take this 1960 Topps Bill White card over the others any day.

7.27.2008

1975 Topps
Rich Gossage


Congratulations to Goose as he is inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame today in Cooperstown, N.Y.

I have many fond memories of watching Gossage pitch at San Diego's Jack Murphy Stadium in the mid-1980s. His induction is long overdue.

Goose was a real closer. He often pitched several inning to close a game unlike today's relievers who are so specialized they're lucky if they pitch an entire inning.

As for the baseball card, isn't it weird seeing Gossage without the wild mustache? And how about that red Sox cap. I forgot they even wore red in the 1970s.

7.23.2008

1953 Topps
Wilmer Mizell


This country boy from Vinegar Bend, Ala., would have a good career going 90-88 in nine seasons with the Cardinals, Pirates and Mets. But Mizell would eventually be known as more than a Major League Baseball pitcher.

Mizell served two terms as a U.S. Representative from North Carolina. He served from 1969 to 75. But a little thing called Watergate took place and Mizell, a Republican, was defeated in the 1974 election.

He also served as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development in the Ford administration, Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Governmental and Public Affairs in the Reagan administration, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs in the Department of Veterans Affairs in the first Bush cabinet.

Look at the guy, does he look like a politician?

7.20.2008

1977 Hostess
Mark Fidrych


In the 1970's, there were not a whole lot of choices in baseball cards other than Topps. One company that did make cards was Hostess, the makers of Twinkies and Ding-Dongs.

The cards came in panels of three on the bottom of each box. And by the time they arrived into your cupboard from the grocery store they were all scuffed up.

As a kid going to elementary school, my lunch often consisted of: A sandwich, a package of Cheese 'N Crackers, a Hostess Twinkie (sometimes a Ding-Dong or Cupcake), and a carton of chocolate milk.

Believe it or not, the Twinkie or Ding-Dong was a staple for the typical third-grader in 1977.

And one of the more popular cards a kid could get was Mark Fidrych.

Fidrych had a great season in 1976 going 19-9 with a 2.34 ERA. He was Rookie of the Year in 1976 and, in 1977, appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated with Big Bird.

How cool was that... when you're an 8-year-old?

7.18.2008

1920 W516-1
Babe Ruth


This authentic strip card of Babe Ruth is special for a few reasons:

First, it shows Ruth as a pitcher. It's hard to imagine that the Babe was a great pitcher before he became the game's greatest homer run hitter. Actually, in my book, he was the game's greatest player, period.

The card also shows Ruth during his first year as a Yankee. In 1920, he hit 54 homers with 137 RBI while batting .376.

Not bad for a pitcher.

If you're not familiar with strip cards, these blank-back cards were sold as strips with many cards coming on a strip. The cost: usually a penny. The cards were then hand cut and separated. Every know-and-then you may see a full strip for sale, but it's rare.

Strip cards used to be an affordable alternative to tobacco cards. But today, their value has grown significantly. They were printed on super-thin card stock, almost paper-like and were often simple line drawings.

7.16.2008

1983 Fleer
Pete Rose


Pete Rose has lots of cards that are vintage. His 1964 Topps card is one of the nicest in that year's set. But can we consider this card of Rose vintage? It is 25 years old.

Does the fact that it is a quarter of a century old make it so? I'm not sure.

In the early 1980s I remember going to a card shop and buying a bunch of cards from the 1950s and 60s. They included stars like Warren Spahn, Robin Roberts, Frank Robinson, Whitey Ford and Hank Aaron. To me, even though they were barely 20 years old, they were vintage.

Some say that cards ceased being vintage after 1980 when Topps lost it's 25-year grip on the industry. In 1981, Fleer and Donruss joined the market, producing cards to challenge Topps. Other companies soon followed suit and the industry would change forever.

Before a few weeks ago, I felt the same way. I consider myself a vintage collector and wouldn't even consider buying anything made after 1980.

But then I found a few 1981 Donruss Reggie Jackson cards at a local shop. They brought back lots of memories.

But again I ask, are they vintage or are they just old? What do you think?

You can weigh in by leaving a comment below. I'd like to know what you think.

7.14.2008

1966 Topps
Mickey Mantle


It may sound dumb, but I have four of these cards. Of the four, three are in pretty bad shape. This one is the worst of the bunch.

So why do I have four?

Lately while looking through eBay, I've adopted a certain philosophy toward those players I consider superstars; Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente and Jackie Robinson.

I try to find regular issue Mantle and Robinson cards, during their playing days, for under $40. I also look for Mays, Aaron and Clemente cards for under $5. Now keep in mind condition isn't that important to me. I think these cards will always hold their value regardless of condition.

And believe it or not, I am occasionally successful in my quest.

I have been successful at least a few times when it comes to the 1966 Topps Mickey Mantle.

7.11.2008

1909 T206
Cy Young


This guy was so good they named an award after him.

This card would be in pretty good shape if it weren't for the missing upper-left corner. But hey, it's a 99-year-old baseball card of Cy Young.

Yep, that Cy Young.

The man who won 511 games. The man who had at least 30 wins five times. The man who won 20 or more games ten times. The man with three no hitters and one perfect game.

Yep, that Cy Young.

I think it's safe to say that no one will ever surpass 511 wins. And of those winners of the Cy Young Award, only Denny McLain has won 3o or more games. He won 31 in 1968. Young did it five times.

I bet Cy Young never had a pitch count.

7.10.2008

1959 Topps
Duke Snider


I had my eye on this card for a few weeks. It was listed on eBay and a few days ago I finally pulled the trigger. So for less than the price of a gallon of gas in Southern California, it's mine.

For me, this card is interesting because it shows how Snider's numbers dropped dramatically after leaving Brooklyn's Ebbets Field and moving into Los Angeles' Coliseum.

In 1958, the Dodgers' first season in L.A., Snider hit only 15 homers with 58 RBI. He had hit at least 40 homers and averaged 117 RBI in the final five seasons in Brooklyn. Some think the move to Los Angeles marked the beginning of the end of a great career for the Duke of Flatbush.

In the 1950's most considered Snider the third center fielder in New York. The first two were the Yankees' Mickey Mantle and the Giants' Willie Mays.

But Snider's numbers were at least comparable. He was an eight-time All Star and a two-time world champion. And in 1980 he was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

What a treat it must have been for New Yorkers to be able to go out on any given day and watch any of the three future Hall of Famers patrol the outfield.

7.08.2008

1971 Topps
Thurman Munson


As of today, here's my top-5 list of favorite cards made by Topps:

1. 1971 Thurman Munson
2. 1957 Ted Kluszewski
3. 1953 Satchel Paige
4. 1964 Mickey Mantle
5. 1952 Any card in this set

This card just recently became my all-time favorite. I'm not sure why. It could have something to do with the nice action shot and the crisp black border (not in this example though). Maybe it's the giant trophy or the green and yellow coloring. I think it's all of the above.

This card is Munson's most valuable. It's not even his rookie card, it's actually his second-year card. When I looked up the card's value ($125 in NM condition) I was surprised to find out that, of the 1971 Topps set, only Nolan Ryan and Roberto Clemente are worth more at $150 each.

Munson is worth more than Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Reggie Jackson and Pete Rose.

But why?

Maybe it's because of the card's great design. Any thoughts?

7.05.2008

1974 Kelloggs
Bob Gibson


I don't remember ever seeing Bob Gibson pitch so all I know about him is what I've read over the years.

And what I read is that he was dominating on the hill. There was no leaning over the plate when Gibson took the mound. If you did, he might put the next pitch in your ear.

I recently found this card at a local card shop and it brought back lots of memories.

I remember searching through countless boxes of Kelloggs Frosted Flakes as a kid looking for that single baseball card.

Only, I was more likely to get Burt Hooton than Bob Gibson.

Another thing I remember about these cards is that they always had a slight warp –in other words they would never stay flat. Maybe it was that cheesy 3-D coating.

7.03.2008

1958 Topps
Virgil Trucks


Look up Virgil Trucks' stats and you will see the numbers of a pretty good pitcher who was named to two All-Star teams. But look a little deeper. Look at 1952.

That was the year that Trucks compiled a 5-19 records for the Detroit Tigers.

Awful?

Think again.

The Tigers were horrible in 1952. The team finished the season 50-104, 45 games behind the New York Yankees in the standings. They were 24 games behind the lowly St. Louis Browns. They had the worst team-winning percentage (.325) until 2003, when the Detroit Tigers beat their record for futility (.265).

So what about Trucks?

Of Trucks' five wins, two were no-hitters, one was a one-hitter and another a two-hitter.

In fact, Trucks threw a total of six no-hitters in his career, four of them while playing in the minors.