Wednesday, March 20, 2019

HOF Binder: Page 10

We've reached a milestone of sorts with Page 10 of the Hall of Fame binder. At the onset I was wondering if I would be able to follow through with my goal of posting a page per week and I'm pleased to report I haven't hit a speed bump yet. In fact, I'm a little more than a quarter of the way finished with this series.

Prepare yourself for an education, for there aren't a bunch of household names in this post!

1980 TCMA Baseball Immortals, #78 - Ray Schalk
Ray Schalk was not an offensive juggernaut at the plate, but he was a defensive force behind it. His career numbers include 11 homers and a 0.253 batting average over 18 seasons, but he also threw out 52% of all would be base stealers during his career. In fact, in 1925 Schalk cut down 61 of 85 base runners, 72%, which led all of baseball. Wow.

1980 TCMA Baseball Immortals, #79 - Dazzy Vance
 Honestly, I knew nothing of Dazzy Vance before today, but he had quite a nice career. In 1924 he won the pitching Triple Crown and the MVP with 28 wins, a 2.16 ERA, and 262 strikeouts over 35 games pitched. From 1922 to 1931 he led the league in multiple pitching categories with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

1983 Donruss Hall of Fame Heroes, #20 - Joe Cronin
 Joe Cronin was on my radar before this series started, but that's only because I knew him as Moe Berg's manager at the beginning of The Catcher Was a Spy movie. Cronin had a great career and earned MVP consideration in eight seasons and was an All-Star in seven seasons. Mostly a shortstop during his 20 year career, he batted 0.301 and provide nice pop with 60+ extra base hits in eight different seasons.

2010 TriStar Obak, #19 - Hank Greenberg
Hank Greenberg, the biggest name on today's post, is another player whose ball career was put on hiatus when he served in World War II for 3+ seasons. Here are some of his career highs, which were set in parts of different seasons: 63 doubles, 16 triples, 58 homers, 143 runs, 184 RBI. and 119 walks. What a masher. In 1938 he had tallied 58 homers with five games to go in the season and only needed two more to tie Babe Ruth's record. Wouldn't that have been something if Hammerin' Hank owned the single season home run record until Maris?

2014 Panini Classics - Home Run Heroes, #23 - Sam Crawford
 Give Sam Crawford's career a quick peak . . . you won't be disappointed. To start things off he led the league in homers in 1901 and 1908 with sixteen and seven, respectively. The outfielder of nineteen seasons played before the All-Star game came to be, he never won a world championship and was only given MVP votes during four different seasons. Personally, I think he was highly underrated and maybe playing for Cincinnati and Detroit hurt him a little in the public eye? He was a 0.309 career hitter, stole 367 bases, and is the career leader in triples with 309. Your average player won't hit twenty triples in their entire career . . . he swatted twenty in a season five different times!

2012 Panini Cooperstown, #65 - Zack Wheat
Zack Wheat played nineteen years (eighteen with the Dodgers) and the left fielder won the batting title in 1918 with a 0.335 average. Wheat, in my opinion was very much like Crawford. Both were outfielders, batted lefty, hit over 0.300, could hit a double or a triple, they walked more than they struck out, and both could steal a base.

There's definitely some talent on this page, but Cronin and Greenberg were the only names I was familiar with before crafting this post. As far as the cards go, the 1980 TCMA Baseball Immortals set is really saving my butt here, but I sure would like to find some other cards to put in their place, especially when there are multiple of them on the same page. My favorite card is the Joe Cronin card and it's also the only one which has a vintage-like feel in my opinion. I'd like to replace the others, especially, the Greenberg card with all the lightning in the background.

Next week we'll see two of my favorite Hall of Famers as we'll see the classes from 1961, 1962 and part of 1963.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, March 18, 2019

One Gesture Leads to a Second

Back in December I posted a feel good story about passing on a baseball card to one of my high school's maintenance workers from his playing days. Alex, a blog reader, enjoyed the story and decided to make a significant contribution. A week or so later I received a yellow padded envelope with about twenty more Roberto Batista cards. There were numerous duplicates in the package, but even better was that at least one copy of every card produced from his playing days was included.

Shortly thereafter I hit up Dave at Minor League Singles and cleaned out his Roberto Batista inventory. There was a spell back in January and February where I'm sure I was ultimate Roberto Batista collector! I had 31 copies of his cards from his minor league days.

Seven of those cards went into a card frame I picked up on Amazon.
I filled out the other two card slots with a team photo card and a Cardinals logo card from Fleer.

Twenty-three of the remaining cards went into a clear plastic case with a bow placed on top.
Card for Alex
The last card was to receive an autograph to send back to Alex. I was able to locate a few other cards to send to Alex as part of a thank you package for being so generous with his card funds to surprise a former minor leaguer, who he has connection to, with a nice gift.
The generosity from Alex did not stop with Roberto cards though. Somewhere during all the planning and waiting he slipped a PWE into the mail with a Brooks Kieschnick in-person autograph. Score!

Planning and waiting . . . Well, I wanted to surprise 'Berto with the frame and all the duplicates for his birthday, which was March 10th. I placed everything into a gift bag and it sat in my closet at school for the entire month of February. Sometimes waiting is the hardest part! On March 8th my school had a half-day and I was able to track down 'Berto at lunch and I pulled him aside into one of the nearby faculty lounges for some privacy.

He saw the gift bag and he started shaking his head, left-to-right, and repeating, "What did you do?" I tried to explain as best I could about how I collect cards and then write about them on my blog on the internet. I mentioned how one fellow collector thought he should have more cards from his playing days than just the one I gave him back in December.

I handed over the gift back and his hand found the clear plastic case of cards at the bottom. I don't think he knew what to make of it at first and I explained they were all duplicates to keep or to pass on to family and friends. He then reached in again and pulled out the frame.

At first he was kind of speechless, save the occasional "Oh, My God." He sat down, placed the frame on the table and started pouring over the cards. I interjected that I thought there was a copy of each of his cards in the frame. He then said, "Yeah, a card for every team I played on except the summer league."
The card in the top left is from 2000 when 'Berto was 18. I guessed, "The Dominican Summer League?"  He responded with, "Yes, where I played before coming to the US." To the best of my knowledge cards have never been produced from the Dominican Summer League.

'Berto then repeated something he said from our initial baseball card encounter back in December, "I don't have much from my playing days."

He continued with more, "They sold everything. When I didn't make the majors they got rid of it all."

I didn't prod, but from what I could tell his baseball mementos, although priceless to him, could be had for the right price if it meant helping his family. He mentioned something about how he doesn't even have his All-Star trophy. I'm assuming that was from his 2003 season where he led the NYPL in saves with a 0.88 ERA.

Roberto, humble and gracious as always, was truly touched by the gift. We parted with some smiles and a handshake and I made off for my afternoon meetings. Later, on my way out of the building to baseball practice, I bumped into another maintenance worked and she commented how nice the card display was and how appreciative 'Berto was of the gift. I thought it was pretty cool that he thought enough of it to show off to his co-workers. That made me smile.

I want to thank Alex for reaching out and providing so many more cards for this endeavor. I had plans of my own to grab one of each of his cards, but Alex really came through with his package of twenty cards.

It's been about ten days since I surprised 'Berto with the cards, but I've seen him a few times since then, while coaching the baseball team, and I always get the biggest smile and a wave.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Vogelmonster Is In Japan!

Sometimes I get excited. This is one of those times and I'll do my best to not go all fanboy on you.

Vogelbach is second on the Mariners in plate appearances this spring and is leading ALL hitters in walks.

Vogelbach is 26 years old and out of minor league options. Kyle Seager's unfortunate hand injury, which has him out until at least mid-June, has allowed the Mariners to shift Ryon Healy across the diamond. This development gives Vogelbach a legitimate opportunity to receive regular at-bats! He'll share first base with Edwin Encarnacion a little, but mostly it sounds like he'll be plugged in as the designated hitter.

I'm excited to see how Vogelbach's new "relaxed" approach to the mental side of the game, as well as his approach at the plate translate over to the MLB level. For the first time it seems like the manager and GM of a major league club both want to see him succeed. I, for one, think it's about time and I can't wait to see Dan Vogelbach go all Godzilla Vogelmonster while in Japan versus the Athletics.
Folks, I believe this will be your last chance to jump in on the ground floor of the Vogelbach baseball card market. You have been warned!

Go get 'em, Dan!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

HOF Binder: Page 9

I was mildly frustrated with myself last weekend when learning I had mistakenly forgot to delay the HOF Binder post to Wednesday. I've been writing these the weekend before and then scheduling them for some easy mid-week reading. I wound up breaking my streak of Wednesday HOF posts and burying my post from earlier in the day. Double whammy!

Let's see if I can't rebound here a bit.

This week we have another pretty solid page, all the way around, with only having to double up on TCMA's Baseball Immortals set. I like when the page starts off with a year marker, but I dislike when I'm not able to see the entire induction class from one year. In this case we're missing Ray Schalk and Dazzy Vance from the 1955 HOF class. They'll just have to wait until next week!

1983 Donruss - Hall of Fame Heroes, #26 - Bill Dickey
 The 1983 Hall of Fame Heroes set from Donruss is absolutely stunning. The artwork is masterful and the player selection is top notch. I don't own much 1983 Donruss other than Sandberg's rookie card, but I've been picking these cards, from the 44-card boxed set, out of dime boxes whenever I can find them.
Bill Dickey, played his entire seventeen year career as a catcher for the Yankees. He took time to serve our nation in WWII later in his career, but during his prime he was the best offensive catcher in the game. He was an eleven time All-Star, garnered MVP consideration during nine different seasons and he was a SEVEN time World Series Champion. Dickey walked twice as many times as he struck out in his career, swatted 200+ homers and had a career batting average of 0.313.

1980 TCMA Baseball Immortals, #72 - Rabbit Maranville
 Walter James Vincent Maranville played for five different organizations, mostly as a shortstop, during his twenty-three year career. He was all of 5'5" and was noted for his defensive prowess. He earned MVP votes during parts of eight different seasons, but that was mostly due to playing on winning teams and being an integral part of the defense. The lifetime 0.258 hitter never had an OPS register higher than 0.750 and it is said he was given the nickname of "rabbit" by a little girl who insisted he bounded around like one on the base and in the field.

1980 TCMA Baseball Immortals, #73 - Bill Terry
 Bill Terry, a middle of the order stick for some great New York Giants teams, won the batting title in 1930 with a 0.401 mark. He was a career 0.341 hitter with decent pop. He would have earned many more than the three All-Star selections he earned if the majority of playing career hadn't come before the first All-Star game in 1933.

1994 Conlon (color), #39 - Frank "Home Run" Baker
 John Franklin Baker swung a 52 ounce bat and led the AL in home runs from 1911 to 1914 with 11, 10, 12 and 9, respectively. The first seven years of his career were spent with the Philadelphia Athletics, but he sat out the 1915 season, at the age of 29, over a contract dispute with Connie Mack. Mack sold his contract to the Yankees the following year and hit 10 homers in just 100 games to finish second in the AL in homer to Wally Pipp's 12. Baker also sat out the 1920 season due to family issues. He finished his career with the Yankees as Babe Ruth was just starting to earn his homer hitting reputation. Baker was once quoted as saying"I don't like to cast aspersions, but a Little Leaguer today can hit the modern ball as far as grown men could hit the ball we played with." 

2012 Topps Archives, #138 - Joe DiMaggio
 Everyone knows about Joe DiMaggio and his legendary hitting streak. I would like to remind you that he won three MVP awards at the ages of 24, 26 and 32 . . . and that he spent his prime, ages 28-30, serving in the Military. Also, he was an All-Star thirteen times during his thirteen year career. Wow.

2003 Upper Deck SP Legendary Cuts, #44 - Gabby Hartnett
 Gabby Hartnett, one of my favorite Cubs, hit 236 homers and batted 0.297 as a catcher over twenty seasons. He was the NL's answer to Bill Dickey for a number of years and might be better known for his Homer in the Gloaming during the 1938 pennant stretch. I can't do the story justice, so you should just go ahead and click on the link.

2005 Upper Deck Classics, #89 - Ted Lyons
 Ted Lyons was the ace of the White Sox staff for six years, but then he suffered a shoulder injury during the 1931 season at the age of 30. After his shoulder injury he became more of a junk ball pitcher, and although he never relied solely on his knuckleball it was a large part of arsenal. In 1942, at the age of 41, he led the league with a 2.10 ERA. He spent the next three seasons in WWII with the Marines. He returned to baseball at the age of 45 and pitched well, but soon retired to the dugout to manage. Lyons finished with a career record of 260-230 and an ERA of 3.67.

Again, I'm happy with the page, but I would like a couple of upgrades if possible. First, I feel like Bill Terry should have a few more cards out there, which would help the fact I had to double-dip on the TCMA Baseball Immortals set. Secondly, and this is probably more of me dreaming big, but I would love to find something older of DiMaggio. I doubt I could ever afford something from his playing days, but if it's in poor enough condition then maybe I could have a shot!

My favorite card from this page is the Home Run Baker card. Don't sleep on those colorized Conlon cards . . . they are fantastic! Plus, Baker's career is fascinating to read about. The Hall of Fame Heroes card of Bill Dickey would be a close second.

That's it for this week. Thanks again for stopping by!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Ogle That Vogel: 2012 Onyx Mojo

Young Dan Vogelbach is my favorite Dan Vogelbach. Dog tags, chin hair, intimidating shades... baseballs fear this man. 
I don't know that I will ever figure out card pricing on the internet. My newest edition to the Vogelbach collection is a 2012 Onyx autograph card, which is hand-numbered 07/10. This beauty cost me about half the price of what the autographed 2014 Onyx version, numbered to 50, is going for on Ebay. I guess sellers can ask whatever they want, but I'm not buying until it's to my liking.
I have material to blog about, but it's the end of the grading period and we're less than a week out from my high school baseball season opening up. Things are busy, but it's a good busy. 

Enjoy your weekend!