Saturday, December 16, 2017

#272 Mike Garcia

 #272 Mike Garcia
Progress: 1st of this card
293 of 407  72% complete
How acquired: $11.40 on eBay
Condition: Very Good

"Big Bear," or "Mexican Mike" as the Cleveland press often dubbed Garcia, was an expensive card.  It only took about thirty seconds of research to figure out why.  While not a Hall of Famer, Garcia was nothing short of a superstar for the better part of a decade.  From his rookie year in '49 when he led the American League in ERA to 1957, he never failed to win at least 12 games, winning 18 or more four times (20+ twice) and also led the AL in ERA again in 1954.  In '54 he lead the AL with a 2.64 ERA while going 19-8 and being widely regarded the ace of a pitching staff that included Bob Lemon, Early Wynn, and Bob Feller.  "The Big Four" led Cleveland to a record of 111-43 and the AL Pennant.  If you consider "WAR" a real stat (I don't), then Garcia measures up very well there as well.

Going north of a Hamilton for these cards usually bugs me if the name on the front isn't one that immediately pops out, a name big enough that my wife will recognize it.  But sometimes, as is the case with this Garcia, I end up not minding.  What I end up with is a nice looking card, in pretty good shape of an excellent player, and some more than mere trivial knowledge of baseball history.  As opposed to spending the same amount on a Topps Now for some nominal mid-week achievement by a trendy rookie.

Stats: 14 seasons, 3x All-Star, 142 wins, 97 loses, 3.27 ERA, led AL in ERA '49 (2.36) and '54 (2.64), Led AL in Shutouts '52 (6) and '54 (5)

Best Hall of Fame Showing: N/A

Thursday, December 14, 2017

#267 Sid Gordon


#267 Sid Gordon
Progress: none, 2nd of this card
How acquired: $3.25 on eBay 
Condition: Very Good 

This is a really a great looking card.  A good number of the cards in this set look dark and muted, but a few, like this Gordon, just pop with bright colors.  Between the between the colors and the great Braves logo, this Gordon is one of the better looking cards in the set, even if it looks more like a card for a camp ground  fly fishing tour guide than a ball player.


This card is also a marked improvement over my first Sid Gordon.  I wasn't actively trying to upgrade my copy, but I'm not about to turn down nicer examples when they fall into my lap at price like this.


Stats: 13 seasons, 2x All-Star, 1,415 hits, 202 home runs, .283 avg. 

Inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2004

Monday, December 11, 2017

#262 Virgil Trucks


#262 Virgil Trucks
Condition: Fair
Progress: 1st of this card
292 of 407 71.7% complete
How acquired: $7.25 of eBay

I don't know the time line as to when Topps released each series of these 52's.  I've spent so much time learning the series, as to print runs, and even card layouts on the actual sheets, that I've never thought to actually look at the dates.  I realize this now because the back of this card makes reference to something Trucks did during the '52 seasons, specifically, throwing a no-hitter.  So it's safe to assume the 4th series (of which this Trucks belongs to) came out sometime between May 15, 1952 when Trucks no-hit the Senators, and August 23, 1952 when Trucks would throw a 2nd no-hitter against the Yankees.  I'm assuming Topps would have made mention of that one as well, as Trucks was the first player to ever toss two no-hitters in the same season (three others have since).

This card was a bit of a grizzly to finally take down and add to my collection.  The $7.75 price felt like a bargain when I landed it after weeks of narrowed in focus on it.  Trucks was a solid MLB'er who pitched on some bad teams.  One of those guys that would post a record of 5-19 in '52 (despite tossing the two no-hitters), then turn around and go 20-10 the next season despite relatively similar numbers (he was traded to a better team).  It's become apparent that anyone of any note in this 4th series is just going to cost more.  I'm ready to call the theory that the 1st series cards #1-80 are more expensive than the 4th series complete hogwash. 

Stats: 17 seasons, 2x All-Star, 177 wins, 135 loses, 3.39 ERA, Led AL in Shutouts '49 and '54, Threw a complete game and picked up a win for the Tigers in Game Two of their '45 World Series win over the Cubs

Best Hall of Fame Showing: 1964 2%

 

Saturday, December 9, 2017

#260 Pete Castiglione

 #260 Pete Castiglione
Progress: 1st of this card
291 of 407 71.5% complete
How acquired: $8.24 on eBay
Condition: Very Good 

As I've narrowed in on the final cards from #1-310, I've grown less patient in my purchasing habits.  While I don't like paying so much for these cards, it's not without it's benefits.  For one, they tend to be better condition.  Not always, but for the most part, they're similar to this Castiglione, which is really in very nice shape.  Also, when I'm focused on one particular card, it's easier to have an idea as to what I should be paying.  For years my method was to search "1952 Topps" on eBay, and sort by ending soonest.  Then I'd just go after what ever was cheapest and ending soon.  When you're down to a dozen or so needs, that just isn't a practical way of doing it.  So while the Buy it Now from dealers tends to cost me more, I also have some sense of what's fair.

Pete Castiglione isn't a guy I ever thought I'd pay $8+ for a card of, but it's nice to be able to slide another card into it's appropriate slot in my binder, and one that is nice to look at as well.  As it stands there are three empty spots in the binder, or five if you count the last two on the final page, which happen to be #311 Mickey Mantle, and #312 Jackie Robinson (I anticipate those spots will stay empty for awhile).  The other three are the first one, the Pafko I still need, and two spots for cards I have but haven't cracked their PSA cases yet. 

Stats: 8 seasons, 426 hits, 24 home runs, .255 avg.

Best Hall of Fame Showing: N/A

Thursday, December 7, 2017

#253 Johnny Berardino


#253 Johnny Berardino
Progress: 1st of this card
290 of 407  71.2% complete 
How acquired: $8.50 on eBay
Condition: Poor

When I started this effort to collect the '52 set, I figured every card I picked up would look like this, or worse.  Surprisingly, the well worn cards aren't nearly as common as I expected them to be, and the ones that do show up, often don't go for all that much of a significant of a discount.  

Berardino was a difficult card to find in my price range, and I eventually let my impatience get the best of me sprung for this one.  If there's any reason for the premium on this card, I doubt it's his respectable eleven year career.  Berardino compiled a better resume on IMBD with a number of cameos and small parts in a various films and tv shows.  He's best known as playing Dr. Steve Hardy on General Hospital for 33 years.  I'm not sure I buy that General Hospital fans are driving up the price of Berardino cards, but I'm not sure why else this card cost me $8.50 either.

Stats: 11 seasons, 755 hits, 36 home runs, .249 avg. 

Best Hall of Fame Showing: N/A

 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

#246 George Kell


#246 George Kell
Progress: 1st of this card
289 of 407   71.0% complete
How acquired: $3.25 on eBay
Condition: Poor

This George Kell clearly spent a long time very well secured inside a scrap book.  It's also either badly miscut or trimmed (maybe both).  I lean towards miscut and think the odd edges are due more to whatever solution was used to detach this card from it's scrapbook resting place.  I don't think it was soaked, but I'm pretty sure it was spot treated with some sort of solvent.  Which I don't mind at all.  

Don't misconstrue any of this as complaining.  This is a rare "win" picking up this card at this price, even in this shape.  Hall of Farmer's in this set tend to typically set me back more than the $3.25 that this one did.  Kell's career numbers may be borderline for the Hall of Fame, but he spent thirty plus years calling the Tigers Broadcast after his career.  I fall in the camp that likes the Bob Wolf's of the world getting into Cooperstown, so for me, Kell is an easy choice and very deserving.

Stats: 15 seasons, 10x All-Star, 2,054 hits, .304 avg., 385 doubles, 78 home runs, AL hits leader '50 (218), '51 (191), AL Batting Champ '49 (.343), AL doubles leader '50 (56), '51 (36)

Inducted into The Baseball Hall of Fame 1983


State of the Blog:  I have 20 more "new" cards to post at the moment.  I also have probably another 20-30 duplicates, which I may post as a group, or I may post individually.  Two of the "new" cards are slabbed in PSA cases, and I may do separate post for the breaking of the case and the card itself.  The point being, this blog as an end date, and it's rapidly approaching.

You can do the math.  20 "new" cards to post, and this George Kell is number 289.  That brings the total up to 309.  There are 310 cards in the first four series.  Card #1 Andy Pafko is the only one left that I need.  And that's completely by chance.  When I chose the Pafko to use on the banner of this blog, it was the lone "expensive" card that I was actively trying to purchase.  Back then, I didn't want to spend more than $30 on one.  Five years later, I don't want to spend more than $60, and am having no luck.  But sooner or later, likely before I post all of the cards I have to post, I'll pull the trigger on one.  They're not hard to find, just hard to find for the price I want to pay.

I figure a complete run of cards #1-310 neatly sleeved in a binder is a good jumping off point for me.  It'll feel "complete."  Granted, there are another 97 hi-numbers to bring the set total to 407.  They famously include the signature Mantle card, as well as Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, Eddie Mathews, Bill Dicky and some other familiar names.  And the truth is, I could probably own ~90 of them within another five years if I allowed myself $100 a month to go after them.  But I just can't justify it.  This is a hobby for me.  A harmless hobby, as I tend spend $20-50 a month on ebay and the occasional packs from target.  I want to keep it that way, and I don't want to be 100% locked in to buying one or two horribly worn hi number 52's a month at the cost of not buying anything else.

So, once I have a Pafko in hand, I will be devoting my efforts to the 1953 set.  This will allow me to keep the same budget I have now, and still be able to pursue the 1970's sets I'm working on, and occasional pack of cards from Target (and obviously, Tim Wallach cards).  I'll still track '52 hi numbers, and if I end up with one, I'll post it, it just won't be a priority.  Which is all a long way of saying, my 1953 blog is up and running, and I'll be updating it about once a week until I finish here, at which point I'll update it more regularly.  So please, check it out:






Saturday, December 2, 2017

#244 Vic Wertz


#244 Vic Wertz
Progress: 1st of this card
288 of 407  70.8% complete
How acquired: $5.25 on eBay
Condition: Poor

This Vic Wertz was a tough card to track down, or at least, to track down at a price that I was willing to pay.  This is one of those cards in this set that just doesn't show up for under ten bucks very often, unless it looks like this.  The premium on this Wertz doesn't bother me as much as some of the others as he was a solid player, driving in over 100+ runs five different times over the course of 17 seasons.

The premium could also be for other variables as well.  Wertz is a big name for trivia buffs, as he hit the ball in the '54 World Series that served as the set up for Willie May's famous catch in the Polo Grounds.  After baseball Wertz raised millions for various charities in Michigan including the Special Olympics, March of Dimes, and Boys & Girls Club among others.  So imagine he remains a popular guy to collect among Tigers fans.

Stats: 17 seasons, 4x All-Star, 1,692 hits, 266 home runs, 1,178 RBI's, .277 avg., went 8/16 with a home run in the '54 World Series.

Best Hall of Fame Showing: 1.4% 1975 (spent 9 years on the ballot)