Sunday, January 21, 2018

#28 Jerry Priddy

#28 Jerry Priddy
Progress: none, 2nd of this card
How acquired: $3.55 on eBay
Condition: Very Good

This copy of Jerry Priddy is in about the same shape as my first one, though I elected to keep the original in the binder where I keep the better examples.  This card came with a good number of others from the same seller, another case of when shipping is combined at a flat rate, I'll bid $5 on every '52  that's available.  I don't consider myself a card "speculator" or "investor," I just feel like there's worse things to add to my collection than '52 Topps duplicates.  

By happy accident this is a "Black Back."  I am by no means attempting to build a master set of 52's, but at the same time if I'm going to double up on a first series card, I prefer they be different color backs.  At some point I'll take a look at where I stand as far as the red/black backs in the first series of 80 cards where they show up in two colors.

Stats: 11 seasons, 1,252 hits

Saturday, January 20, 2018

#25 Johnny Groth

#25 Johnny Groth
Progress: None, 2nd of this card
How acquired: $3.30 on eBay
Conditon: Good

This Groth is a huge improvement over my first copy.  I wasn't looking to upgrade, but when I'm bidding on a card and the seller combines shipping, I'll take any and everything under a certain price.  And I apologize in advance for what I'm about to say, but as my binder fills out to near completion, I've realized that maybe some of the more horrible worn and wrinkled cards bug me a little bit.  So it's kind of nice to replace one like this.  Also, I suspect I'm in the minority, but I prefer that my first series cards be red backs like this, despite the black being considered slightly rarer.  In any event, now I have Groth in both.

Groth for his part, was a very solid player enjoyed a 15 year career and collected over a 1,000 hits.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

#1 Andy Pafko

#1 Andy Pafko
Progress: 1st of this card
301 of 407  73.9% complete
How acquired: $47.96 on eBay
Condition: Poor

When I first made the decision to actively pursue these '52 Topps cards, Andy Pafko was the only non "common" that I was actively targeting and had a saved ebay search for.  Back in 2008, It was my goal to pick one of these up for under $20, and I came very close a couple of times.  Over time I lost interest, as when I had enough in my "ebay account" (I sell a lot of cheap modern cards on ebay) to put towards a big purchase, "Pafko" wasn't a name that rang out the way a lot of the Hall of Famers did.  As a result he took a back seat, and now is actually the final card of the first 310 I acquired.  When I chose him for the banner of this blog (and now this card has been photo shopped in) I never would have guessed that to be the case.

I used to be a pretty big comic book collector in my pre-teen and early teenage years.  "Reader" is probably a more accurate description.  But I liked to read the old issues and story lines, a habit that couldn't help but rub shoulders with "collecting."  Issue #1's were always a very big deal.  In the mid-1980's, DC Comics (I was a DC reader) rebooted all their story lines, and restarted a lot of the comics at issue #1.  When I was "collecting" in the early 90's these were "old" and still within my price range.  So I targeted a lot of #1's and tried to work/read my way up to where I was currently in the story line.  It ingrained the importance of "#1" into my collecting subconscious, even though there is no real inherent value to card #1 in baseball sets.  With one very notable exception, this Andy Pafko.

In a way, I'm doing with Topps cards what I did with Justice League, and Flash, and Superman comics thirty years ago.  I'm working on the old sets, building my way up to where my own collection started.  These sets, Topps sets, tell a story.  They're like almanacs of a given year of baseball history.  This Pafko is the Topps version of Detective Comics #27, or probably more accurately, Action Comics #1.  This is where the Topps story starts.  I know, the red/blue backs are out there, but they're not "baseball cards," at least not as I've known baseball cards to be my entire life.  

I've read that this card is "valuable" because kids would wrap there cards in a stack with rubber bands and as such, there aren't many high grade copies of this Pafko because he was usually on top.  I don't buy that theory.  For one, there aren't many high grade copies of any of these cards, and more to the point, why are the low grade copies so expensive?  It's a lot simpler than that.  This is card #1 in the first Topps set.  That's all you need to know to explain the price it carries.  No offense to Pafko, who had an excellent career, but he shouldn't cost anywhere near what Yogi does.  There's a strong argument to be made that it's the first modern baseball card.  I don't think you need to be an old comic book collector to appreciate that.

Look at the back of this card.  "In 1943 at Los Angeles, Andy led the Pacific Coast League in batting with .356 and was brought up to the Cubs at the end of the season." Call me Ishmael.  With that simple sentence about a minor league batting line, the Topps story begins.

My copy is well worn.  I sort of figured that I would have to pay out for a nicer one, given I didn't think I would land one of these for less than $80, and at that point, I'll pay a little extra for a slabbed one to make sure it's real (and then free it myself).  But this one fell in my lap at a price I can live with.  I'd prefer it was a red back, but the black backs are allegedly more "rare," so I guess it has that going for it.  Aside from the #1 on the back of the card, there's really not too much to get excited about, but I don't think I'm alone in my belief that that #1 is more than enough.

Stats: 17 seasons, 4x All-Star, 1,796 hits, 213 HR's, 976 RBI's, .285 avg.. 4x NL Pennants, World Series Ring in '57 with Milwaukee Braves

Best Hall of Fame Showing: 0.7% 1966

Saturday, January 13, 2018

#294 Walker Cooper

#294 Walker Cooper
Progress: 1st of this card
300 of 407  73.7% complete
How acquired: $8.25 on eBay
Condition: Fair

This Cooper has some fairly heavy creasing throughout, but nothing that's going to keep me up at night.  It's a nice looking card, with Cooper being another guy that was clearly given extra attention by the artist.  The "Star" treatment if you will.  Cooper was one of the better catcher's in all of major league baseball in the 1940's being named to eight All-Star teams between 1942-50.  I feel pretty good about landing one of these for less than the cost of a movie ticket.

A fact that the back of this card makes mentions of, but doesn't follow up on, is that Walker's brother Mort was also in the majors.  Mort Cooper, a pitcher, played from 1938-49, and was the NL MVP Award winner with the Cardinals in 1942.  He won a league best 22 games, and also led the NL with a 1.78 ERA and 10 shutouts.  Walker was also an All-Star in '42 and finished 11th in MVP voting.  In '43 Mort would again win 20 games and finished 5th in MVP voting.  Walker, apparently tired of playing second fiddle at family gatherings, finished 2nd in '43 MVP voting.  Both would finish in the top 10 in MVP voting again in '44.  The brothers helped the Cardinals win three straight NL Pennants and two World Series.

Stats: 18 seasons, 8x All-Star, 1,341 hits, 173 home runs, .285 avg.

Best Hall of Fame Showing: 14.4% in 1976 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Update to the Need List


The Need List Page has been updated.  The reason for this update is I recently "won" a Buy it Now "auction" on eBay for the last remaining card I needed from the first four series in this set.  Here is a screen grab of the new acquisition in all it's mangled glory:

It's tracking info says it should be in my hands on Tuesday.  So as much as I hate counting my chickens before they hatch, I'm pretty excited about this and wanted to get it out there.  I've also been somewhat vocal on my Tim Wallach blog lately about wanting this card, and would hate for someone to send one or pick one up with the intent to trade it to me (I'd probably still be happy to work a trade for another, or any card in this set for that matter, but it's not longer at the top of priority my list).  Then again, I'm sure this post has assured a mishap with the mail delivery next week.

In any event, this Pafko will be jumping to the front of the line when it arrives, and hopefully will be showing up as an "official" post next week.  It's also, sadly, the end of my aggressive pursuit of this set.  I'll still keep an eye out for the hi-numbers, and one day hope to complete the full run of 407 cards, but that day isn't today.

As of now, the 1953 set has formally become my primary vintage focus.  And while it's probably a nicer set, it's just not the same as this one, and isn't nearly as exciting.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

#291 Gil Coan

#291 Gil Coan
Progress: 1st of this card
299 of 407  73.4% complete
How acquired: $5.50 on eBay
Condition: Fair

The coloring of Coan's eyes on this card is sort of impossible to ignore once you notice it.  It's an otherwise pretty cool looking card.  Coan looks like a slugger (he wasn't).  This particular copy clearly has been knocked around a little bit, and even managed to pick up a pen mark on the back somewhere along the way.  Despite the heavy creasing and faded colors, this Coan is more than acceptable for my purposes.

Per Coan's wiki page, he is the oldest living former Giant as of 2016, having been born May 18, 1922.  Someone pointed out in the comments of a recent post, that I got a good price on a recent card.  He explained the player was still alive and signed cards sent to him in the mail.  That's a factor I never considered when wondering why some of these cards seemed to cost so much.  I don't think that was the case with this Coan, but it was a welcomed bit of information that I'll certainly take into account going forward.

Stats: 11 seasons, 731 hits, 39 HR, .254 avg.

Best Hall of Fame Showing: N/A

Monday, January 8, 2018

#289 Tommy Holmes

#289 Tommy Holmes
Progress: 1st of this card
298 of 407  73.2% complete
How acquired: $12.00 on eBay
Condition: Very Good

I've come to accept that my baseball knowledge prior to around 1960 isn't what I thought it was.  Case in point, Tommy Holmes.  I'd never heard of him.  And the fact that this card rarely showed up on eBay, and when it did, usually carried a price tag north of $50, really drove me nuts.  Turns out I'm just not that smart.  Otherwise, I'd have known of the lifetime .300 hitter Tommy Holmes, and this being a popular card wouldn't have been such a source of frustration to me.

In 1945 Tommy Holmes nearly won the Triple Crown.  He led the league with 28 home runs, finished 2nd in batting average hitting .352 (a mere .003 behind the leader) and 2nd in RBI's with 117.  For good measure he also led the league in hits (227), doubles (47), Slugging (.577) and OPS (.997), and set a then record with a 37 game hitting streak.  I guess the writers valued "winning" more then, because Holmes somehow finished 2nd in MVP voting to a guy who had 47 fewer hits, and only hit 6 home runs (I'm sure Phil Cavarretta had a fine season, but come on).  For about seven years, Holmes was an absolute monster, then his career sort of flamed out.  In any event, it's a name I'm glad I've come know as a result of this endeavor.  

Stats: 11 seasons, All-Star, 1,507 hits, 292 doubles, .302 avg.

Best Hall of Showing: 0.8 % in 1958