Saturday, January 28, 2012

1978 Topps - Part IV

I bought another lot of 1978 Topps cards on eBay the other day.  I'm done using eBay now though, well, at least until it becomes a headache to track down the last few cards.  This lot contained some of the more valuable cards in the lot and they were a must.

I needed to feel like I was going to get a good deal on Eddie Muray's rookie card.  His card kind of defines the set and can routinely be found on eBay for a starting price of three figures.  Here's one that caught my attention as far as asking prices go:

My dad always used to tell me that people can ask for whatever they want AND something is only worth what someone else is willing to pay.  Wise man, my father.

Anyway, my Murray rookie is NOT in "gem mint" condition, but I absolutely love it.  Older cards should have character, shouldn't they?  They may have been stored in a shoe box, left on the bedroom floor or kitchen table for a little borther to find, brought school bound in rubber bands... ahhh... good stuff.  My Eddie has a ding on one corner and he's off center.  No biggie, he's still probably one of the top ten cards condition-wise in my 1978 set.   Truly a gem in my eyes!

Eddie is one of only two players in the history of baseball to hit over 500 homers as a switch hitter and the other is the legendary Mickey Mantle.  I payed just over $20 for the lot below, which also contained a Jack Morris rookie card (not pictured), which I already owned.  $20 for a lot that contains 8 hall-of-famers!  Pretty solid deal if you ask me.

As it stands, I now have 528 of the 726 cards, which good for 72.7%. 

Look at those sideburns on Dave Winfield!  Whoa!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

1978 Topps - Part III

Back in November I went to the card shop in Creve Coeur to pick shop for some Cardinal related memorabilia for my little cousin.  I like to send him baseball cards and what not in the mail during holidays and special occasions: Thanksgiving, Christmas, first day back at school, his birthday, and etc. While I was there I rummaged through the old baseball card binder bin and picked up this beaut for $2!

Laura gave me a gift card to Baseball Card City, which is my preferred local card shop.  I spent the balance on 9-card baseball card pages.

All of my 1978 cards in the binder!  Behold!

So, I'm 71% done completing my 1978 card set, and at this point I only have one completed page out of 81.  Wow.  Talk about an uphill battle!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

We Will Eat Pizza Once More!

It's so very convenient to come home, pop a frozen pizza in it, and 15 minutes later begin eating said pizza.  But, a couple of weeks ago our pizza oven just up and died. This pizza oven is the third that I have known, and the second one that Laura and I have had since we've been married.

Yes, we eat a bunch of frozen pizza.  Whatever.

I mentioned the pizza oven to my Dad just before L & I left Mom & Dad's this past Sunday morning.  Dad mentioned that it might be the timer and that he wouldn't mind taking a look at it.

Huh, I'm my father's son, right?  I should possess a little bit of his "fix anything" gene!  Off to the basement with the pizza cooker I went.

I took out 6 exterior machine screws and tried to pull the cover off the unit.  No dice.  After a little tinkering I found that the bottom slides out.  Nice.  I'm in!  I also found that I only needed to remove five of those aforementioned screws as one was connected to the green wire inside for grounding purposes.  [Yes, I reconnected it.]

I followed the wires and discovered a red wire (hot) went into the timer and then a white came out attached to the heating element.  Okay.  Here's a closer look at what I found.  The white wire somehow had broken loose from the timer.  That would explain why the cooker doesn't heat up.  Bummer.

I'm not good at fixing broken plastic, but I can do wiring.  Cut the red, cut the white, and trim back the protective coating.  Easy.

I pulled out the wiring tool kit that Dad bought me way back in the day.  And I found myself a nice little coupler (red item in the picture).
 Insert white, insert red, crimp & crimp.  

I plugged in the oven for 30 seconds and it started to get warm.  Excellent!  I did a little de-greasing and cleaning of the oven and then back up the stairs to the kitchen I went with the pizza cooker in hand.

Laura MADE pizza the other night in the actual oven and there were a couple of pieces left over.  I popped them, plugged in the oven, and waited about five minutes. I needed to really test it to see if works!

Nom... nom... nom...  All is right in the world again!

The timer doesn't control the heating element any longer, but it still keeps time.  The new
"on/off" switch is the power cord.  Simple enough, as long as we remember to unplug after using.  No worries, we'll surely have to replace this oven before out minds start to go, and we'll surely buy one with a fully functional timer.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

1978 Topps - Part II

I have sorted through the eBay lot of 1978 Topps baseball cards.  As per usual, an Excel spreadsheet was involved and every card has been cataloged.  Here's the stats: $23.61 (including S&H) for 824 cards, 431 of which I needed.  The rest of cards will go up on eBay before too long as I try to recoup the cost for the original purchase.

In general, the lot was pretty average.  No cards of considerable value were included and all the star cards were assuredly well-loved and in very good (VG) to excellent (EX) condition at best.  For those not familiar with the grading of a card's condition, VG and EX are not exactly ideal, but I'm elated nonetheless! 

As it stands right now, I'm missing 207 cards for my 726 count 1978 Topps set.  Within those cards I'm still seeking the Eddie Murray rookie card, Andre Dawson, George Brett, Pete Rose, Nolan Ryan, and Reggie Jackson to name a few.

Here's the highlights from the eBay lot with a bit of commentary for each grouping.

The 1978 set is chocked full of cards featuring players who would continue their career in baseball after retiring as a player.  Steve Stone spent many years in the broadcast booth with Harry Caray and Lou Piniella managed the Cubs for the better part of three years.

The '78 set also features manager cards with a picture of them in uniform with their current team and a picture from their playing days.  The backs also include stats from their playing days.  Pretty cool if you ask me.  Within the set are rookie prospects cards that feature four players per card.  The one that I've pictured contains Dennis Lamp as a Cub, who wound up winning and losing 96 games in his career.

Team checklists!  Score!  Hall-of-famer Willie Stargell at the end of his career.
 Gary Carter, Rollie Fingers, and Willie McCovey are all in the Hall of Fame.  Charlie Hough is famous for being a knuckleball pitcher who would win 216 games in his career.

If a player participated in the All-Star game that year it was denoted on his card.  These days the players will be featured on two Topps cards: one in the base set and an All-Star card in the update set. Willie Randolph's Yankees beat the Dodgers and Steve Garvey in the 1977 World Series.  George Foster was the NL MVP in '77 and Carlton Fisk is in the Hall of Fame.

Hall of Famers Jim Rice and Jim "Catfish" Hunter, 200 game winner Vida Blue, and Bill Buckner are the last that I will share with you in this post.  And for what it's worth, Buckner is now the manager of the short season Boise Hawks, which is a minor league affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cubs Caravan - 2012

I didn't buy a ticket for this year's Chicago Cubs Caravan at the Riverplex.  Last year I had to coach my freshmen girls in Galesburg, and this year Galesburg was to visit us during the time the meet & greet event was to take place.  No need to purchase a ticket for something I couldn't attend.

Enter Mother Nature.

"All after school activities are cancelled!"  Huh, what am I going to do this evening?

Not more than a half-hour later Sandra asked me if I wanted her ticket to go along with Vince.  The rest is history.  Damn, I love those Iadipaolos!

Program, Vine Line, and IPMR Chiefs advertisement.
Vince and I made it down to the Riverplex just after 5:00 and we headed to the food line. It was short, featured a chocolate chip cookie, potato chips, and... wait for it... WONDER DOGS!  Man, those were some awfully tasty hot dogs.  I had built up quite an appetite during the day while trying to convince five classes of students that we were not going to have a snow day tomorrow.  After that workout those wonder dogs didn't stand a chance.

Off I went to grab my autographs.  I wasn't really interested in grabbing Dave Otto's signature, because he's only a sportscaster for Comcast Sports Net.  After you get used to Harry Caray, Ron Santo, and Pat Hughes supplying you with your Cubs fix, Dave Otto just doesn't really have a fighting chance.  He was really cool though.  I had brought along a baseball card of Otto in a batting stance, but Dave was a pitcher.  I asked what the reason was behind him posing like that and he told me a pretty cool story behind the pose.  Dave Otto, I will stop comparing you to the Cubs great broadcasters and give you the chance to win me over that you so rightfully deserve.  You earned it tonight.

I was standing in line to obtain autos from Chris Carpenter and Casey Coleman and we were right in front of Tony Campana and Jamie Quirk.  Jamie wasn't really busy as everyone wanted to get a piece of all 165 pounds of the fastest man in the Cubs organization.  Still in line for Chris and Casey I asked Jamie if he wouldn't mind answering a question for me.  He obliged and I asked why he only got one at-bat for the 1984 Indians.  I showed him the card and the stat line I was referencing.  He smiled.  "The Indians didn't know what they had.  I hit a walk-off homerun in my only at-bat for them. I went to Kansas City and won the World Series with them the next year."  Oh yeah, he signed my card, too!  Sweet deal, especially since I wasn't given a ticket to receive an autograph from Mr. Quirk.
Autographs of guys I didn't have cards of on a nice glossy stock.

After the autograph session there was a Q&A session with all of the players.  I spent some time talking to Vince, Jim, Megan, and Craig.  Really fun evening for me after originally being bent all out of shape about not being able to go.

Janers was missed from the baseball outing.  Usually I rely on her to talk to the players for me, because I tend to freeze up a bit around baseball players.  But, since she wasn't there I was forced to come out of my shell a bit.  

Oh, and I guess I'm supposedly going to have my photo in the Princeville/Dunlap newspaper.  It's not a large paper, and it doesn't have a huge circulation count, but the photographer was there and he said he was always looking for people from the two communities to take pictures of and run in the paper.  He recognized me from my coaching at DHS and even knew my full name.  I'll have to see if I can somehow score a copy so that I can show off my cheesy grin while being sandwiched in between Carpenter and Coleman.  Good times.

We were home around 7 o'clock, yet I somehow managed to get a large enough baseball fix to maybe get me through the rest of this winter. 

And even though I just finished shoveling the driveway it feels like spring!  Baseball will do that to a guy.
More Autographs.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

1978 Topps - Part 1

It was either my 13th or 14th birthday that my mom and dad gave me nine 1978 baseball cards as a gift.  At the time, I was more interested in collecting cards of the more current players, so I tucked them away in a box to save for a later date.

I've been in a baseball vintage mood for a while now.  I've purchased pennants and bobbleheads.  I have a bat from my mom's parents' old house.  I have a couple of Norman Rockwell prints of baseball scenes.  I even found an old catcher's mask in a corner of one of storage closets at school.  My man room is all decked out.

These 1978 Topps baseball cards are cool.  Really cool.  They have statistics on the back from the year I was born and there are a ton of names in the 726 set that I don't know.  But, what's better, is that I know more than I ever would have thought!  There are quite a few Hall-of-Famers in the set and many others that I recognize for obscure reasons.  Here's one of the cards that Mom and Dad gave me some twenty years ago.  It features two Hall-of-Famers: one made a living out of throwing 98 mph heaters and the other threw knuckleballs that wouldn't top 70 mph on a wind-aided day.  I love the contrast of pitching styles!
So back in early November I went to a baseball card show with Jane just for kicks.  I came out of there with 13 Cardinal cards for the whopping total of $1.45.  (For the record, I already had most of the Cubs.)  All were 10 cents except for Keith Hernandez who was a quarter.  Hernandez was featured in a couple of Seinfeld episodes... absolute classics!  Paying a quarter for Mr. Hernandez was no sticking point!

So, the hunt is on.

I was up to about 87 cards when I decided that I should win an auction on eBay to get a good start on the set.  When trying to complete a set I used to just by a box of cards and then search for the rest at shows, but a box of 1978 Topps is not cheap.  A box would feature 36 packs with each pack containing 15 cards for a total of 540 cards.  I found a lot on eBay for 500+ cards.  Behold!
The description of the lot was simple enough.  I don't need pristine cards.  A set of cards in mint condition is well north of $200.  Seriously, I'm in it for the fun of collection and I certainly won't stick my nose up at some cards described to be in "poor" condition.  My goal is to complete the set for under $50.

So my $24 worth of cards arrived to today.  Apparently, these were once Scott Carpenter's cards and Scott liked to store his baseball cards in a "Fund Milk Chocolate with Hazel Nuts" from the Cadbury company.  Go figure.

What you see below is a glimpse of my happiness.  Many, many cards with statistics to review and numbers to collate them by!
There's a Ken Griffey, Sr. card on top, and he's joined by a pair of Cadinals.  I have no idea who Terry Harmon is, but that's what the back of the card is for, and of course. But, have no fear!  At the top you can see a card of the Chicago Cubs manager: Herman Franks.  Sweet!  Oh, and by Ken Griffey you may be able to see a Dodgers card... I slid Mr. Griffey over and it's none other than Dusty Baker!  Yep, the same Dusty Baker that managed the Cubs to the playoffs.
No worries as updates will follow.  This is going to be great!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

I feel like spring is almost here!

I read an article Friday before I ran off to basketball practice about the recent "heat wave" that we have been so kindly subjected to so far in 2012.  The title of the article sums it up rather nicely, "More Than 1,000 Record Highs Set this Week."

I'm not one to waste an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, especially when that possibility could be right before an extended cold snap.  Jim and I had previoulsy planned to play a little catch after my Saturday morning freshmen girls' basketball game in the Dunlap High School gymnasium.  Instead, we took advantage of the beautiful day and ventured over to the local JFL football field.  This is the first time I've played catch, with a baseball, in January in quite sometime.  The last time was probably back in college now that I think about it.

Why would a couple of 30 and 40-something-year-olds go play catch in the middle of January?  Well, besides the aforementioned beautimous* weather, because we need to get Jim's arm in shape.  It's really hard to throw everyday for a week when one hasn't thrown in the previous months/weeks leading up to such use.  Jim will be traveling to Mesa later in January to participate in Randy Hundley's Official Big League Baseball Camps

Say what?

“There’s no greater fun than whipping a new bunch of rooks into shape.”  - Rick Sutcliffe, a former Cubs player and one of the past coaches at the fantasy camp

Hundley and Sutcliffe are both former Chicago Cubs that use the spring training facilities in Arizona to give the average Joes of the world an experience they will not soon forget.  I can't wait to hear the stories of Jim's week long baseball experience, and I'm more than happy to help him build up some arm strength in preparation!

Another good reason to play catch with Jim: he knows his baseball and we can talk ad infinitum about the subject.  Heck, it was a busy week for Cubs fans.  Zambrano was finally traded and we also sent Andrew Cashner to San Diego for Anthony Rizzo.  Rizzo, a first baseman, is one of those guys that is hard not to root for.  He could be the big left-handed bat anchoring the middle of the lineup that the Cubs have been missing for the better part of this century.  Also, he's a cancer survivor and the Cubs' brass have been frequently quoted about the tremendous make-up of his personality. Dare I say it?  He could be one of Jane's "Mai Guys"!

Warm weather, playing catch, talking baseball...  spring IS almost here!  Boy, I hope I didn't just jinx us. 

*beautimous = a word I stole from my loving mom-in-law

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tom's Man Crush Increases Exponentially

So Carlos Zambrano was traded to the Miami Marlins to pitch for his buddy Ozzie Guillen.  The Cubs send $16 million or so with Big Z and receive back Chris Volstad, a 25 year-old, 6'8", former number #1 draft pick. 

I'm completely in favor of this deal for the Cubs.  I realize Zambrano will probably earn 12+ wins for the Marlins in 2012 and perhaps even help them reach the playoffs, but he's on the backside of his career, and he was completely out of control in Chicago.  Even if the Cubs would have kept him he would never be the pitcher we want him to be.

I'll take a chance on Miami's retreads and be very happy about it.  Why?  Well, because when the Cubs finally win the World Series I want to be happy and very much in love with the roster.  Zambrano would not allow me such pleasure.  He became a distraction, a nuisance, a head case, a bad teammate, a waste of talent... in short: a cancer.  The longer he stayed with the Cubs the less I liked him.

Bye, Z.  Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Meanwhile, I'll be dreaming of Mr. Volstad doing as picture above: congratulating his teammates on one of many hard fought wins.

P.S. - Theo, thank you.