Wednesday, November 15, 2017

#216 Richie Ashburn


#216 Richie Ashburn 
Progress: 1st of this card
285 of 407 
70% complete!!!
How acquired: $29.26 on eBay 
Condition: Very Good

This has long been one of my favorite cards in this set, at least from a distance.  It took me a long time to finally grit my teeth and fork over the money for one of these.  That said, I don't regret a single penny of it.  The green background just looks great with the red Phillies hat, and the art was obviously given more attention than most of the other cards in this set.  That's not really a surprise given the season Ashburn was coming off of in 1951.

I moved to Cooperstown, New York the summer before I started fifth grade in 1990.  I lived there until I graduated from High School in 1998.  As a result, I tend to have a lot of reverence for the guys that were inducted during that stretch.  Ashburn received the call in 1995.  He stood out to me for a couple of reasons.  For one, he was from a much older era.  Guys like Jim Palmer, Fergie Jenkins, Rollie Fingers, and Reggie Jackson, were guys I owned cards of from late in their careers.  Ashburn was a mystery to me as his last season was 1962 (he spent 16 years on the HOF ballot).  He was also one of the first guys I remember hearing a lot of grumbling about being inducted.  I just accepted the grumbles and figured he wasn't really worthy.  I was wrong, and had baseball-reference and the internet existed back then, I would have realized I was wrong much sooner.

Stats: 15 seasons, 5x All-Star,  2,574 hits, .308 avg., 2x NL Batting Champ ('55 .338, '58 .350), NL Hits Leader in '51 (221), '53 (205), and '58 (215), NL Triples Leader '50 (14) and '58 (13), 4x NL Walks Leader, 4x NL OBT Leader, Led NL in Stolen Bases '48
NL Pennant with Philadelphia in 1950

Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995

 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

#203 Curt Simmons


#203 Curt Simmons
Progress: 1st of this card
284 of 407  69.7% complete
How acquired: $7.89 on eBay
Condition: Very Good

The first time I saw, or noticed, this card on eBay was likely a solid five or six years ago.  Somewhat early in this process.  Without looking too closely, I assumed the "Bay Optics" billboard was an erased section of card that had pencil marks added to it.  For the next few years I'd often find myself saying, "Wow, there are a lot of marked up Curt Simmons cards floating around."  I should pay more attention to details.

As it stands, Simmons ended up being one of the last cards I picked up of these first 310 in the set.  A long-time Phillies starter, and a very good one at that, Simmons joined with Robin Roberts in the duo dubbed "The Whiz Kids" while anchoring the staff that won the 1950 National League Pennant.  He missed the end of the season, and World Series, due to being called into service for the Korean War.  I just can't fathom that.

 This card demands a slight premium compared to other cards in his series.  Sometimes those cards are mysteries to me, but I can see why this card would be a popular one among Phillies fans.

Per his wikipedia page, Hank Aaron and Stan Musial both describe Simmons as the toughest pitcher they ever faced.

Stats: 20 seasons, 3x All-Star, 193 wins, 3.54 ERA, 1,697 K's, 1964 World Series Ring with St. Louis

Best Hall of Fame Showing: 1.3% in 1973


Sunday, November 12, 2017

#189 Pete Reiser


#189 Pete Reiser
Progress: 1st of this card
283 of 407  69.5% complete
How acquired: $5.66 on ebay
Condition: Fair
As the back of this card mentions, Reiser had a monster season in 1941 (his first full season in the majors) playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers, in which Rieser finished 2nd to teammate Dolph Camilli in the MVP Voting.  I think the voters got it wrong.  In '41 Resier led the NL in runs (117), doubles (39), triples (17), average (.343), slugging (.558), total bases (299), and hit by pitch (11), as well as a few of the make believe modern stats that I won't dignify by mentioning here.  Reiser followed up with another strong all-star season in '42 finishing 6th in MVP voting, before missing three years to military service.  His first season back in 1946 saw Resier once again be named an all-star, lead the league in stolen bases, and finish 9th in MVP voting.  Injuries became an issue though, and Resiser would struggle to stay on the field for the remainder of his career.  1952 in Cleveland would be his final season, and see him appear in 34 games. Prime example of "Smoky Joe Wood Syndrome."

This card isn't in the greatest shape as you can see.  I'm not a fan of the solid yellow background, the off-centering bothers me to no end, and then there's the logo.  Judge me all you want, my politics tend to be the opposite of whatever Fox News is pushing, but I like Chief Wahoo.  This one however, is a little more difficult to defend.  Take a look at the other Cleveland cards in this set, the logo here is different.  I suspect it was hand drawn, perhaps due to Reiser's late addition to the Cleveland roster.

Stats: 10 seasons, 3x All-Star,  786 hits, 58 home runs, 295 .avg

Best Hall of Fame Showing: 3% in 1960

Included in Lawrence Ritter's 100 Greatest Players of All-Time Book.

Friday, November 10, 2017

#181 Bob Swift


#181 Bob Swift
Progress: 1st of this card
282 of 407  69.3% complete
How acquired: $11.25
Condition: Poor 

This Robert Swift card may be the single worst beating I've taken on a card in this set to date.  It's condition is every bit as bad as it looks in the scan.  For some reason, this was just a very difficult card for me.  But now I have one, over priced or not, and I'm in no hurry to pick up a new one.

You may have noticed it's been awhile since I've updated this blog.  I've been in the process of a move, and just haven't had time for blogging about baseball cards.  But things have settled some, and I've got a lot of catching up to do with this blog, so hopefully there won't be anymore long hiatus between post.

Stats: 14 seasons, 635 hits, 14 home runs, .231 avg., World Series Ring with Detroit in 1945 

Best Hall of Fame Showing: N/A

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

#37 Duke Snider


#37 Duke Snider
Progress: 1st of this card
281 of 407 69% complete
How Acquired: $26.25 on eBay
Condition: Good

Duke Snider is a big one.  He's far from the priciest card in this set, but he's not a cheap one either.  Especially realative to my own collecting budget.  This Snider wasn't actually my cheapest option.  There were a couple others for $5-6 less.  But compared to those, this one more than warranted the extra couple of bucks.

That's not to say this is a flawless copy.  Obviously it's not.  There's potential that it's been trimmed along an edge (I'd wager no, but it's only about a 55% confidence level in that "no" wager), I'm almost certain it was either soaked or swabbed with some sort of aclhol cleaner to remove glue stains on the back, it has numerous creases, and pinhole (I actually kind of like well placed pinholes).  All of which is to say, I love it.

Duke Snider needs no introduction.  The Hall of Famer is one the all-time great Dodgers, whose career carried the move from Brooklyn to California, with Snider winning a World Series in each city (I need a Dodger fan to tell me how many other guys can claim that).  Duke owns a legendary stature in the annuals of baseball history that is matched by precious few.  The most shocking thing to be found on his baseball-reference page is the fact that it took him eleven years on the ballot to be voted into Cooperstown.  I guess there was a still a backlog of guys from the early days.  I suspect we'll see something similar in a few years when we all age and our knees and backs start to go out and suddenly the stigma of HGH and steroids seems really confusing.

Stats: 18 seasons, 8x All-Star, 407 Home Runs, 2,116 hits, 1,113 RBI's, .295 avg., Led NL in Runs 3-straight seasons ('53-55), Led NL in HR in '56 (43), 5-straight seasons of 40+ HR ('53-57), Led NL in RBI's in '55 (136).
6x NL Pennants with Dodgers, 2x World Series Champion ('55 & '59). 38 hits and 11 HR in 36 World Series Games.

Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980 with 86.5% of the vote.


Friday, August 25, 2017

#29 Ted Kluszewski


#29 Ted Kluszewski
Progress: 1st of this card
280 of 407  68.8% complete
How acquired: $10.50 on eBay
Condition: Good

Ted Kluszewski was a name a recognized, but didn't know much about him beyond that.  My impression was that he was probably pretty good, maybe made an All-Star team or two.  I own a few of his later cards and thought of him mostly as the steakhead who didn't wear sleeves (google his cards if you don't know what I'm talking about).

After actually taking the time to look up his stats, I take it all back.  Ted doesn't have to wear sleeves if he doesn't want to.  He had a four year run from 1953 to 1956 that could be easily mistaken for the likes of Gherig, Mays, and Aaron.  His best season in 1954, saw him lead the league in both home runs (49) and RBI's (141), and miss out on winning the triple crown by only hitting .326.  Willie Mays would win the batting crown that year batting .341, and also edged out Kluszewski in MVP voting.  Ted finished 2nd with a good number of first place votes.  During that four year run, Kluszewski hit at least .300 each year and drove in 100 RBI's each season.  1956 was the only season he didn't hit at least 40 home runs, when he hit a "meager" 35 dingers.  He also had more home runs thank strike outs in each of those four seasons.  Who is this guy?

"Big Klu" would see his career slowly be chipped away at by injuries, but in his prime, his numbers can stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone in the game's history and not feel out of place.  In the 1970's, he served as hitting coach under Sparky Anderson with the great Cincinnati Reds teams of the era.  He died of a heart attack in 1988 at the age of 63.  The New York Times ran a very nice obituary for "Big Klu" upon his passing.

Stats: 15 seasons, 4x All-Star, .298 avg., 1,766 hits, 279 home runs, 1,078 RBI's, only 365 strike-outs, as a White Sox hit 3 home runs in a 6 game World Series loss to the Dodgers in 1959.

Best Hall of Fame Showing: 14.4% 1977 (exhausted all 15 years of eligibility on the ballot)


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

#309 Jim Busby


#309 Jim Busby
Progress: 1st of this card
279 of 407  68.5% complete
90% of non-hi's #1-310
How acquired: $11.50 on eBay
Condition: Very Good

This Busby marks exactly 90% of the cards in the first five series (1-310) having been obtained, scanned and posted.  It's kind of a crazy feeling to be searching for so few cards that I have now committed the numbers I need to memory.  Frank Campos is #307 in 1952 Topps.  Unfortunately, that's a piece of worthless knowledge that is going to stick with me forever.

This Busby is a baseball card.  It's generic looking enough to be the picture used on wikipedia for the page on baseball cards.  It isn't, but it could be.  For some reason, despite it's rather generic composition, I like this card.  Something about it just works.  Much like Busby's career, when you look at it, it's a very respectable body of work, but ultimately nothing that you'll really remember down the road.

Stats: 13 seasons, All-Star, 1,113 hits, 48 home runs, .262 avg.

Best Hall of Fame Showing: N/A