Thursday, August 17, 2017

#305 Paul Richards


#305 Paul Richards
Progress: 1st of this card
278 of 407  68.3% complete
How acquired: $9.50 on ebay
Condition: Very Good

The managers have some of the nicer looking cards in this set.  This Paul Richards only adds to that argument.  The detail in the coloring is really incredible compared to the vast majority of the other cards in 1952 Topps.  Also, and I could be wrong, but that looks like a reporter standing next to him.  It's definitely a guy in a fedora and suit.  Working on my theory that it's a reporter, Richards cuffed hand gives the impression he could be saying some things he doesn't want overheard.  But who knows.  In any event, It's a great looking card.

Richards spent 8 years as a catcher in the majors from 1932 to 1946.  Some quick math suggests that span is far more than 8 years, which it is.  He was out of MLB from 1936-43, and only returned when there was a shortage of players due to the war.  Despite his age and absence, he still managed to lead all catchers in fielding percentage.  His BB-Reference page is littered with appearances on various leader boards for defensive catching categories.

Stats: 8 seasons, 321 hits, 15 home runs, .221 avg.; World Series Ring with Detroit in 1945 (went 4 for 19 with 6 RBI in 7 games)

Manager: 12 seasons, 923 wins, 901 losses

Best Hall of Fame Showing: N/A

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

#301 Bob Porterfield


#301 Bob Porterfield
Progress: 1st of this card
277 of 407 68% complete
How acquired: $7.99 on eBay
Condition: Fair

I think somebody out there is spreading an ugly rumor that the hi-numbers begin at #300 in this set.  From everything I've read about print runs, and the set-up on the printing sheets, there is nothing particularly special about #300-310.  Yet, people charge for them like they're some kind of exotic scarcity.  I was ready to high five someone after picking this card up for under $10 bucks.  I ran into the same thing to a lesser degree when working on the 1970 Topps.  The hi-numbers started at #634 and run through #720.  They all share the same size print run.  But cards #700-720 seemed to cost more than #634-699.  I guess people just like big numbers.

This Porterfield isn't the most exciting card in the set, but there isn't anything really wrong with it either.  I guess they can't all be winners.  Porterfield was about to begin what was easily the best four year stretch of his career in 1952 and may have seen better treatment had he started that stretch an year earlier in '51.  Yankees probably should have given him one more year to develop.

Stats: 12 seasons, All-Star, 87 wins, 97 losses, 3.79 ERA, 92 CG, Led AL with 22 wins and 9 shut-outs in '53, Led AL in complete games in '53 (24) and '54 (21), 3x World Series Rings (NYY '49-51)

Best Hall of Fame Showing: 0.3% 1966

Sunday, August 6, 2017

#66 Allie Reynolds















#67 Allie Reynolds
Progress: none, 2nd of this card
How acquired: $5.01 on eBay
Condition: Fair

This is another pick up from the seller whose cards all smell like rubbing alcohol.  Again, I don't mind.  I paid a little more for this Reynolds, but I don't think I'll live to regret it.

Allie Reynolds is a name that should ring out more than it does.  I'd put him in the Hall of Fame if it were up to me.  Reynolds was the Yankee's ace prior to the emergence of Whitey Ford.  He won six World Series with the Yankees, putting together a World Series record of 7-2 with a 2.79 ERA in 9 starts, including 5 complete games, 2 shutouts, and 4 saves just for good measure.  He made the All-Star team his final three seasons in the MLB and five of his last six.  In 1952 Reynolds would post a record of 20-8 with a league best ERA of 2.03, and finish 2nd in MVP voting.  In 1954, his final year of pro-ball he went 13-4 while battling a back injury suffered when the Yankees charter bus crashed into on overpass in Philadelphia the previous season.  He finished with 182 career wins in a career that was cut short prematurely.  Reynolds stayed on the Hall of Fame Ballot for all his 15 years of eligibility, but never received more than 33.6% of the vote.  

I've said this for years, but the Yankee bias is a myth when it comes to the Hall of Fame.  I don't think there is any doubt that Yankees receive more attention than other players during their career's, but when it comes to Hall of Fame voting, I believe that "Yankee Bias" actually works against them.  

How many 2x MVP Award winners with 3x World Series Rings aren't in the Hall of Fame besides Roger Maris?  Typically being a 9x Gold Glove award winner is enough (right Ozzie Smith?), but if you toss in a MVP award, batting title, and 3x Silver Sluggers, and over 2,000 hits you should be fine, right?  Not so much for Don Mattingly.  How about a 6x World Series Champion, with an MVP Award, 9x All-Star, with the distinction of breaking the color line for the most historically significant franchise in the history of the game?  Take a hike Elston Howard, we need to save room for Craig Biggio and Bud Selig.  A 5x Gold Glover, with a CY Award, whose Yankee teams played in four World Series (and won two) and spent the better part of a decade as perhaps the best pitcher in baseball?  Not only can Ron Guidry go kick rocks, but so can all of his teammates from that "mini" Yankee Dynasty (which is only "mini" by Yankee Standards, right "Big Red Machine?").  So no Thruman Munson, Willie Randolph, Sparky Lyle, et al, the Hall needs space for the likes of Dave Concepcion and Tony Perez.  Their team won two world series, and thats more impressive for the Reds than it is for the Yankees.

So how about a guy that was the best player on a team that won four World Series and six AL Pennants.  Nah, lots of guys go one and done on the ballot while being the leader of four World Series Champions, so get lost Bernie Williams.  The anchor behind home plate and actual clubhouse leader who let Derek Jeter keep his hands clean, Jorge Posada?  Five Silver Sluggers at catcher just doesn't mean what they used to, and his five World Series Rings aren't going to impress anyone either.

So sure, the Kevin Maas, Hideki Irabu's, and Danny Tartabull's of the world are going to get more attention than they often merit during their active days in New York.  But if you want to end up in Cooperstown wearing a Yankee hat on your plaque, you better be prepared to have a little something extra on your resume to overcome that "Yankee Bias."

Saturday, August 5, 2017

#66 "Preacher" Roe















#66 "Preacher Roe"
Progress: none, 2nd of this card
How acquired: $3.51 on ebay
Condition: Good
My first copy of "Preacher" wasn't one I had any thoughts of upgrading, but when this copy fell into my lap, I was more than happy to swipe the two out in my binder.  For a number of reasons, least of which being "Preacher" was really good, I find this to be one of the cooler cards in the set.  I'll take as many as people want to sell at this rate.

I keep my 52's in a binder in the 8-pocket Ultra-Pro pages.  Ultra-Pro calls them "Platinum," but I've found they're not nearly as nice as the "Platinum" 9-pocket pages.  Maybe it's a result of the seams not providing the same support in the 8 card horizontal layout, but they feel more flimsy to me, and they're not deep enough as the edges of the two cards in the top row tend to be exposed.  Perhaps I'm nuts, but I also feel like they're not as clear.  I'd really like to see them correct this.  

I use 8-pocket pages for my '52-56 Topps and nothing else.  Some high end collectors may laugh at me, but when I'm dropping $15 or even $60 (Yogi Berra) on a card, that's a lot of money, and I'd like the card to be protected a little better in it's page.  "Just get your nice cards graded and slabbed."  No.  I'm in the business of cracking cards out of slabs, not putting more in them.  I like to enjoy my cards, and on rare occasions, try to force others to enjoy them.  This involves taking my '52 binder off the shelf and flipping through the pages, or even more recklessly, letting a non-collector flip through the pages.  I'd like a sturdier page.  I'm talking something as thick as those semi-rigid top loaders.  I'd be willing to pay more for them.  We are after all talking about sixty year old cards that tend to cost more than typical cards.  We're not all top-loader guys with giant boxes of our valuables.  Some of us simple folk will endure some wear and tear in the name of a binder to look at.  I'd just like to minimize that wear and tear for the older stuff.

Friday, August 4, 2017

#300 Barney McCosky


#300 Barney McCosky
Progress: 1st of this card
276 of 407  67.8% complete
How acquired: $11.00 on eBay
Condition: Fair

Last year I spent a good amount of time being very upset at how difficult it was to find 1970 Topps high numbers for under $2.00 on the various online sites.  In retrospect, that wasn't so bad.  These fifth series 52's are much worse.  Granted they're older, but come on, I refuse to believe that this McCosky (or any 5th series card) is really that much rarer than any of the other card in the first 310 in this set.  Yet they all seem to have a $10+ plus price point unless you get lucky and find a steal.  Thankfully, I'm almost done (I miss being able to buy packs of new stuff).

McCosky's career numbers were likely affected by his military service as much as any player I've come across.  His first four seasons in the league saw him have at least 160 hits in each (including an AL best 200 in 1940) and receive MVP votes each year.  Then at the age of 26, he missed four seasons while in the Navy.  When he returned at age 30 he had a few more very productive seasons (though not as productive as his first four), before winding down with a few seasons as a seldom used reserve.   He finished with an impressive career average of .312. Those four years likely didn't cost him a spot in Cooperstown, but it's easy to argue his career hit total is probably close to 1,000 less between the lost seasons and reduced numbers upon his return due to lack of playing.  In any event, it may have been the difference between being a player most baseball fans had heard of, and one that is relatively obscure.

Stats: 11 seasons, 1,301 hits, 24 home runs, .312 avg., led AL with 200 hits and 19 triples in 1940.

Best Hall of Fame Showing: N/A

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

296 "Red" Rolfe


#296 "Red" Rolfe
Progress: 1st of this card
 275 of 407  67.5%
How acquired: $13.00 on eBay
Condition: Very Good

This is one of my favorite cards in this set, and is probably on the short list for the best looking card of a manager ever made by Topps.  Rolfe was ten years removed from his last game as a player when this card came out, but's its his time as a player that he's best remembered for.  Rolfe was one of the "Bronx Bombers" winning five World Series as the Yankees starting third baseman from 1936-1941 playing alongside the likes of Gehrig and Dimaggio.  Former teammate and fellow "Bomber" Bill Dickey was also included in the is set in the high numbers as a "coach."  I'm sure it's not an accident that Rolfe and Dickey made the cut the as a few of the only non-players Sy Berger included in this set.

This card is perhaps the most detailed card I've seen so far.  There are a lot of short cuts that could have been taken that weren't.  For instance, notice the way the grass and dirt is colored to the left of the logo.  That could have easily been done as just one or the other and no one would have batted an eye.  The crisscross pattern of the fencing above the dugout, the multiple shades of gray in the concrete, even the small patch of stripes on his stir-ups are all the sort of details that usually get colored out of existence in this set.  Someone took put a lot of time and effort into coloring this card.

Stats: 10 seasons, 4x All-Star, 1,394 hits, 69 Home Runs, .289 avg., 1939 AL Leader in Runs (139), Hits (213), and Doubles (46).  Led AL in Triples (15) in 1936.  Five World Series Rings

Manager: 4 seasons, 278 wins, 256 loses

Best Hall of Fame Showing: 4.9% 1958

(I'm not saying Rolfe should be in Cooperstown, but he's certainly more deserving than Bud Selig.) 

Monday, July 31, 2017

#285 Cliff Fannin


#285 Cliff Fannin
Progress: 1st of this card
274 of 407  67.3% complete
How acquired: $4.99 on eBay
Condition: Very Good

This Fannin ended up being a pick-up I feel pretty good about.  The 5th Series (#251-310) of this set has proven extremely difficult to find at reasonable prices, so to find this Fannin in this shape and price feels pretty good.  Most the price guides insist that the first series (#1-80) demands more of a premium, but in my experience, that's a bunch of B.S..  I question how many of those editors are actively trying to piece together a set of these on the cheap.

This card is somewhat unique in this set.  Without looking at it too closely when it popped up in ebay listings, I assumed it was one of those abstract solid color backgrounds, akin to the Johnny Sain card in this set.  But in hand, I don't think it is.  It could be, but my guess is that the red is actually the outline of a stadium that's been shaded in and the blue is the sky.  Perhaps this was the artist's attempt to depict a photo taken at night?  Or maybe it was just a lazy effort at coloring in a background.  Which ever the case may be, the Fannin is one of the more unique cards I've run across so far in this set, in that it doesn't fall into any of the common styles.

Stats: 8 seasons, 34 wins, 51 loses, 4.85 ERA, 28 CG

Best Hall of Fame Showing: N/A