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

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.