Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Pilots Cards That Came After The Pilots

I've made no secret of my affinity for the Seattle Pilots, a one-year MLB team from 1969 whom I've written about here, here, here and here. Given that they existed for a mere year, and had Topps cards for only two years, they are eminently collectable and an "easy win", as they say (though I haven't finished up that 1970 Topps set just yet).

Now I'm interested in the more goofball, post-1970 Seattle Pilots cards that exist. We already talked about the 1983 Renata Galasso set here, but some other Pilots cards have recently come to my attention, and so I'm sprung into action, by the proverbial hook or crook. First, how about this 1992 Leaf Heritage Series Paul Molitor, bedecked in a full Pilots get-up? As you may well recall, the Pilots turned into Paul's Milwaukee Brewers in 1970, where they remain to this day (albeit in the National League now). Paul's card says "The Seattle Pilots would prove to be mistake", which I guess is pretty much the general consensus on the team.

Now this next specimen is not a posthumous Pilots card, but rather a 1969 Don Mincher card that Milton Bradley put out. Milton Bradley, like the game people? Anyone know if this was part of a game? I'm getting the sense that it was, if you look at all the code at the bottom of the game, as well as on the card's back. Me, I got mine via a COMC order, and it was quite inexpensive to boot. I suppose it's because it's, you know, Don Mincher and not, you know, Hank Aaron.

We already covered Mincher and Tommy Harper's lovely 1970 Kellogg's cards here, and while I think I've found most everything that's card-sized (i.e. not stamps or posters) that came out while this team was still around - with the exception of this 1969 Tommy Davis Deckle Edge card I still need to grab somewhere - most of what's to still be collected is "post-Pilots".

Here's a good one: Ichiro Suzuki in a Pilots uniform. 2010 Topps National Chicle Diamond Stars, #538/999. It even lists him as being "on" the Pilots, while giving his birth year as 1973. Wait a minute, that's.....impossible....

Finally, I recently became aware of the 1989 and 1990 Pacific Trading Cards "Baseball Legends" series. Perhaps there are more editions as well - my left hand is tired of typing and I don't feel like looking right now. But check it out - there are some Pilots "legends" like Gary Bell and Diego Segui! Thanks very much to Nick for the Frank Crosetti card as well. 

That's it for this week's edition of Pilots roulette. We'll see if I can come up with another batch that'll be worthy of yet another post.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Hockey Card Update & Interlude

It's been pretty much all-baseball here at the CH blog so far, with only one hockey card-flavored interlude so far. I'm rolling out a hockey card obsession very, very slowly, and dipping a toe into a couple of sets and personal preferences here and there, just to see what takes.

The one thing I knew I simply had to do was collect complete Topps sets of all of the Oakland Seals/California Golden Seals teams from their inception in 1967-68, through their demise and move to Cleveland (to become the Barons for a mere two seasons) in 1976-77. I never got to see the Seals play, but I did get to once hear an epic rant from my Grandfather, who told me about the time he went to see a Seals game at the Oakland Coliseum and forgot where he'd parked, leading to a two-hour late-night search after the game for his car. If you want to know more about the Seals, this book and this documentary are well worth checking out.

Right now, I've either got in my posession every single Topps Seals card created for their nine NHL seasons, or it's one of the few stragglers still on the way from one of my SportLots orders. Having just "released" my SportLots box this morning, I'll have a complete Seals collection by the end of the week. OMG what a major accomplishment! No single card cost me more than $3, and most were around 20 cents. That there was really my first and only hockey collecting goal....but of course others soon followed.

I saw some of these 1973-74 O-Pee-Chee WHA cards on someone else's blog, and then I got pretty damn excited about completing the 66-card set. 66 cards? I can do that. I've got 32 of them so far, which makes me 48.5% of the way there. I've always been fascinated with failed, defunct professional sports teams, and the WHA had some great ones: the San Diego Mariners, the Phoenix Roadrunners, the Vancouver Blazers, the Michigan Stags, the Cleveland Crusaders and so on. Wayne Gretzky played in the WHA, as did Gordie Howe, Gerry Cheevers and loads of other legends. The cards I have certainly aren't EX/NM, but that's okay. They speak to another long-gone time in hockey - one without helmets, overseas players and a US television contract.

Something I'd never heard of before three months ago - because I had never really been collecting hockey cards - was Parkhurst cards. Now I know it was a top Canadian brand of the 50s and early 60s during the Original 6 era, and I couldn't believe how gorgeous their cards generally looked. Expensive, though - not for the faint of heart. I took a particular shine to the look of the 1958-59 cards, and decided to buy one, whatever it ended up being. Enter one Barry Cullen of the Toronto Maple Leafs for $6, the cheapest decent-condition Parkhurst card I could find from that year. The card says he'd "potted" 16 goals the year before for the Leafs. Wikipedia says he played until 1960 for Toronto and Detroit before calling it a day.

So now that I've got a lone fabled Parkhurst in my collection, maybe it ends there, maybe not - but of course I'll look out for more. The brand, after a several-decade hiatus, continues to this day.

As I was wrapping up my Topps Seals collection, I thought I might poke around online to see what other sort of posthumous California Golden Seals cards might be out there: tribute cards and what have you. Here are a few 21st-century cards put out by In The Game for goalie Gilles Meloche, who is universally thought of as the most talented human being that the Seals ever put on the ice, including a card of his with the Barons:

I'm absolutely going to continue my quest for any post-1970s Seals cards that might be out there. If you've got a line on any good ones, please let me know. Finally, I decided to make a concession to modernity and collect a modern player. I strongly considered Patrick Marleau, who has been my #1 favorite San Jose Sharks player for over twenty years, and still is......yet if I'm being honest, I find the uber-talented Marleau simultaneously both one of the nicest guys and one of the least interesting people in hockey. I just could not rouse myself for the undertaking of collecting his entire career, for some reason. Perhaps that will change. 

Instead, I decided to focus on exciting, short-term San Jose Shark and Hockey Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne, "the Finnish Flash" and probably my #2 favorite hockey player I've ever watched outside of fellow Hall of Famer and non-Shark Peter Forsberg - whom I may collect next, and who in his prime was absolutely the single most dominating player I've ever seen. Here's what little I've got from  Teemu so far. More hockey interludes on this blog as interesting cards filter in.

Friday, June 26, 2020

A Few Words on "Vintage"

Actually, this post is more of an excuse to scan a few "vintage" cards of mine. Yeah - so what is vintage? I suppose it all depends on where you're coming from, right? To me, those 1977 and 1978 Topps cards that I first started buying as they were coming out aren't vintage to me - they have a late 70s look and feel that frankly, I really just don't like all that much. Sure, they were still doing the wacky line-drawing cartoons and mundane trivia on the back that they'd pulled from cards from the 50s and 60s ("Jose loves disco dancing"; "Ray once shot a man in Reno just to see him die" etc.), but I don't know - they don't meet my personal definition of vintage.

I suppose they may meet yours, though - and it could certainly be argued that when Topps lost their exclusivity and Donruss and Fleer flooded into the void in the early 80s, well, those cards are definitely not vintage. For me, though - especially now that I'm back into collecting - anything from 1972 Topps and working backward from there counts. I'm actually quite floored that there are cards from the 50s and 60s still very much in circulation, and are still very affordable. I mean, really affordable if it's a tiny bit beat up and common. Whenever I get a common card from the 50s and 60s, I'm incredibly psyched about it. I don't care who the guy is - it's just a delight to have his card in my collection.

Like Steve Boros' 1959 card. It's awesome - even if I didn't scan it very well. He looks like he just stepped off of "Leave It To Beaver" or "The Andy Griffith Show". Or Bill Short over here. I don't know this guy, even if he was 17-6 in 1960. I just love looking at this card, created six years before I was born, and from what feels like a million friggin' years ago.

I honestly don't have very many vintage cards in my collection right now, outside of the 1971 and 1972 Topps sets I'm starting to build, and all those Seattle Pilots cards from '69 and '70. I know that eventually getting the cards of guys from this era whom I collect - Willie McCovey and Frank Robinson, to say nothing of Willie Mays - is going to be a bit of an expensive slog, and I may never get there. That's okay. Until, then, I'll snap up any and all vintage commons that I can get for next-to-nothing, or in trades, or whatnot. It sure beats going after 1989 Donruss, don't it?

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Putting Together a 1986 Fritsch Negro League Set

The first time I ever really got a sense of baseball's Negro League is when I was a kid. I read a book about Willie Mays that also spotlighted heavily his relationship with Monte Irvin, whom you can see here. Both played in the Negro League before becoming teammates on the New York Giants in the early 1950s, and the book - which, of course, I can't remember a thing about because I read it in, like, 1978 - really impressed upon me the injustice of these tremendous athletes having to effectively hide themselves away from Major League Baseball and the public-at-large because of the color of their skin.

There was the human tragedy of it all, and then what my 10-year-old brain understood of the baseball tragedy of it all. Why couldn't Satchel Paige have faced Babe Ruth?? Why didn't Home Run Johnson get to play against Ty Cobb??? And so on. It didn't seem right. It wasn't right. The American Experiment still has a great deal to reckon with.

I've been to Kansas City many times for work, but have never been able to go to the Negro League Baseball Museum because I was always, you know, working during the day when they were open. I made it to a couple of Royals games, and it's even on the way there off the freeway from where I was working in Overland Park, KS. I'm bummed. I don't have that job any longer, nor do I have much reason to go to Kansas City (a place I really like, actually). In lieu of the five-hour visit I'll eventually make to that museum, here's how I'm getting my Negro League knowledge going again now: the 1986 Fritsch Negro League Baseball Stars set. Thank you to Nick from Dime Boxes for alerting me to their existence in this excellent and exceptionally timely post.

I learned in the course of linking to the set just now that I - and you - can buy the entire 119-card set for $21.95 right now. Go ahead and do it if you want, but me - I'm getting into building this set individually, and I have 40-some-odd cards from it so far. It's great! Each card has a rare photograph of the player - some of whom likely only have that one photograph, especially the turn-of-the-century guys like our new hero Home Run Johnson. The backs are full of biographical information; the teams they played for; what happened to these guys after the Negro League (several went into the Hall of Fame many, many years after they should have), and much more. Did you know that Josh Gibson hit 89 home runs one season, and 75 more the year after that? Yeah, I didn't either.

It's a great set, and one that'll be a delight and a bit of a challenge to try and pull together. I'm going to guess I'll be needing a bit of an assist from "the internet" in order to do so. I definitely picked up the two Monte Irvin cards in the set right away - because his story has been buzzing around in the back of my brain for four decades - and will continue hunting the rest of them, time and money permitting.

Here's what some more of 'em look like.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Fuji Improves The Card Hemorrhage Collection

You folks all know Fuji, right? Not only does he hail from my hometown of San Jose, California (about an hour down the road from where I am now), he's a longtime, ever-active card blogger who's been chronicling his life's work and his approach to collecting for many a year now over at The Chronicles of Fuji. Go bookmark it now if ya haven't yet! He's active on other blogs as well, always on point with a comment or observation that invariably "furthers the hobby", as they say.

Anyway, I guess the guy doesn't make all that many trades, but somehow I was lucky enough to pull one together with him. He's an SF Bay Area guy that hasn't glommed onto my San Francisco Giants (he's an A's guy instead, and good on him for it), and naturally when you've been doing it as long as he has and you live around here, you're going to end up with some Giants surplus whether you want to or not. It's got to go somewhere, right? Thankfully some gems ended up with me.

Like: how about these black-bordered 2005 Topps "Emerald Nuts" cards? I didn't know they existed, and I come to find out there are 30 of them in the series, Giants all. Instantly went right onto my want list, and now it's something I want - nay, I need - to collect. They're gorgeous, you know, if you like that sort of thing. Besides Moises Alou whom you see up top, Fuji sent me these two fellas as well:

He also sent me another Alou from 2006 in a similar series. What, now I need to collect that too? There were a few interesting local-series-only Giants in the envelope as well. Check out Noah Lowry, presented to you by Blue Shield of California:

...and Brian Wilson, one of my all-time favorite players whom I've yet to start building a collection for, brought to you by the Disabled Veterans of America:

Fuji's package also referenced this relievers-who-have-saved-more-than-45-games project that I'm working on, and has provided me with a few of the "base" cards to get me going with a few guys. Here are 3 of them:

There were some other gems in there as well that I didn't scan. Thanks, Fuji, and may The Chronicles of Fuji forever further the card education of those among us. I'll leave you with a 2002 Fleer Ultra of "The Big Cat", another one of my all-time faves.

Free Stuff Boondoggle

Hey folks - I'd never done a "Free Stuff Friday" before last week's giveaway, and consequently I'd never really had a chance to quality-control the "Contact Me" widget on my blog, either. Some of you that claimed cards, I'm certain, sent me your mailing addresses that way - but I didn't get the email.

If you're owed cards, and you haven't emailed me directly at thejayhinman(at)gmail(dotcom), can you please do so and let me know your mailing address, and which cards you picked? It won't happen again, folks....!

Friday, June 19, 2020

Free Stuff Friday First-Timer

I've never done a "free stuff Friday" before, but I like the concept! Let's give a try. Here are 18 cards. Claim the one or the ones that you want in the comments - first come, first served. Claim one, claim several. If I don't have your address - which is likely - please email me at thejayhinman@gmail.com - the comment form is broken, and I've had it removed...! - and let me know what it is, and I'll try and get the ones you claimed out to you next week.

And if you're up for a trade of some kind, let me know that as well.

Section #1:

Section #2:

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Matt Carasiti is Another Guy I Collect

Believe it or not, folks, the 2020 MLB season actually did get off to some sort of start this year.  I can remember it well. In late February, I was listening to my local SF Giants broadcasting station KNBR, and Marty Lurie's afternoon show live from Spring Training during the "pitchers and catchers" portion of the spring. Lurie had as a guest one Matt Carasiti, a guy trying to make that Giants as a reliever and as a spring training, non-roster invitee.

I'd never heard of Carasiti, but I learned during the interview that he'd had the proverbial "cups of coffee" with the Colorado Rockies in 2016, and with the Seattle Mariners just this past year. He'd played in Japan in the interim, as well as for an assortment of minor league teams starting in 2012. His interview with Lurie was great. I instantly warmed to the guy: articulate, funny, interesting and just one of those dudes that you totally root for, and wish nothing but success for. He talked about proposing to his wife in San Francisco, and about how important it was for him to try his best to make the Giants in the spring and get a chance to play big-league ball again in 2020, as well as told some stories about his time in Japan and about the life of a player on the minor/major-league bubble. I vowed on the spot to start pulling together a Matt Carasiti baseball card collection, even though I'd never seen the guy pitch.

And then - maybe a week later? - I read the news that Carasiti blew out his arm in camp, and had to immediately undergo Tommy John surgery. Totally heartbreaking. This was a guy who clearly knew that he might never pitch in the majors again, and then this happens. I redoubled my efforts to ensure that I built up the world's finest Matt Carasiti baseball card collection.

It took me a few months and a bit of internet sleuthing to track down his Hartford Yard Goats card, among other things, but here's what a bit of what I've got from Carasiti. First, if you happen to have a Matt Carasiti card sitting in your own collection, it's probably some variation of this card.....and look at how many of them there are...!

There's a ton of 'em, but I think I have them all - including an autographed version of one of them on the lower left. Here's that card again:

And now to a few other highlights from the Matt Carasiti collection:

I'm still missing two Carasiti cards to complete the collection, far as I know: this 2014 Asheville Tourists card, and a 2015 Modesto Nuts card. With those, I think I'll be all caught up, at least until the man returns from Tommy John and lights up the National League in 2021 for the Giants as our closer. Anyone got a spare of either of those?

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

As Close As I May Come To PCL Cards

I'm from the west coast of the United States of America, and if you're a baseball fan and you come from where I come from - particularly if you're of a certain "vintage", age-wise - you've heard a lot of talk about the old Pacific Coast League of the 1930s, 40s and 50s. There are still old-timers around my hometown of San Francisco that wax rhapsodic about the San Francisco Seals of the PCL, or folks across the bay who pledged undying love to the Oakland Oaks. I'd imagine it's the same in LA, Sacramento, Seattle and so on.

It wasn't really a minor league back then. It was all that fans west of the Mississippi had in terms of baseball - and that's a lot of real estate. Think of it as something between AAA and the National & American Leagues. Actually, these paragraphs I've swiped from Wikipedia gives you a pretty good sense of the league in its heyday:

During the first half of the 20th century, the Pacific Coast League developed into one of the premier regional baseball leagues. The cities enfranchised by the other two high-minor leagues, the International League and the American Association, were generally coordinated geographically with the major leagues, but such was not the case with the PCL. With no major league baseball team existing west of St. Louis, the PCL was unrivaled for American west coast baseball. Although it was never recognized as a true major league, its quality of play was considered very high. 

Drawing from a strong pool of talent in the area, the PCL produced many outstanding players, including such future major-league Hall of Famers as Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Tony Lazzeri, Paul Waner, Earl Averill, Bobby Doerr, Joe Gordon, and Ernie Lombardi. Amid success experienced after World War II, league President Pants Rowland began to envision the PCL as a third major league. During 1945 the league voted to become a major league. However, the American League and National League were uninterested in allowing it to join their ranks.

The PCL that still exists today is actually the league where I saw my first in-person baseball game ever, a Sacramento Solons game probably around 1975. Today, the San Francisco Giants' AAA team is in the current PCL - the Sacramento Rivercats.

I'd wondered what baseball cards might be like for the PCL of the 1940s and 1950s. I quickly found out that while Bowman, Zeenut, Signal Oil and others made cards, they're both hard to find and quite expensive (I do recognize that one has much to do with the other). Sure, I can pick up a few guys here and there - and I may do just that - but I decided to get started with a cheapo 36-card reprint set I found on eBay: the 1949 Bowman Pacific Coast League 1987 Card Collectors Co. set.

There's no Ted Williams nor Joe Dimaggio in there, but these small cards are fun to look at and have around for sure. They're exact replicas of cards featuring the Seals, Oaks, Solons, Seattle Raniers, Hollywood Stars, Los Angeles Angels, San Diego Padres and Portland Lucky Beavers. Maybe I'll gaze at these for a while, and stop my PCL journey there. Then again, maybe I won't. I may have to start an Albie Glossop collection, because a name like that is worth building a collection of.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Greg "The Moon Man" Minton

When I set out to build collections of the players I'd admired and followed over the years, for some reason I felt the inextricable pull toward collecting one Greg Minton, the San Francisco Giants and later California Angels reliever famously known as "The Moon Man". Well, I know why, and it wasn't really because he was one of my favorite players while he was around (although he was excellent for the Giants, particularly from 1979-1982).

It was because of this baseball card you see here, which is seriously one of my Top 10 of all time. You may notice that I've been using the image from it as my avatar since this blog started. It's quite possibly one of the worst airbrush jobs in the history of baseball cards. Minton's glasses look painted on. It reminds me of the Spanish woman who tried to personally restore a Jesus Christ fresco in her village several years ago. When I returned to card collecting, I started by ensuring that I had a copy of this 1978 Topps gem, and decided to keep going with Minton from there.

Again, it isn't just because of Minton's doofy card. When I was in my early days of baseball fandom, Minton and Gary Lavelle were our closers, our 8th/9th-inning guys - though I can't remember who really owned the job. By 1980, the job was mostly Minton's; by 1983, he and Lavelle were trading off again to see who'd get the save. For those four years, 1979-1982, Minton kept his ERA under 3.00 all four years and under 2.00 twice. Oh, and he broke a major league record over that time by going 269 and 1/3rd innings without allowing a home run (see "Record Breaker" card below).

Maybe I dug him so much because of the glasses, which I also wore until 7th grade. Here's an excellent 1982 Fleer card showing Greg rocking all four eyes in style. Oh - and the "Moon Man" sobriquet that he collected? Apparently the guy wasn't a weirdo in the Bill Lee mode - he just happened to be really big into pranking his teammates. From an early 80s Sports Illustrated piece by Ron Fimrite:

To his teammates on the San Francisco Giants, Relief Pitcher Greg Minton is Moon Man or Moonie. Minton, good-natured sort that he is, accepts their characterization with only one disclaimer: "I don't do things the same way other people do, but things come out the same anyway." Ah, yes. When Minton dives into a swimming pool, it may be from an apartment-house balcony. When he decides to skateboard, it could well be down the Great White Way. And when he goes courting.... But that's a story for later.

Talk about leaving one hanging! Anyway, I've been doing a good job collecting Minton's cards of late. It's certainly not an expensive endeavor - I just bulked up on his latter-years California Angels cards and got pretty much all of them on Card Barrel for 18 cents each. Here are a few I pulled from the bunch over the course of Greg Minton's 1970s and 80s career.