Tuesday, March 20, 2018

1959 Topps All-Star #553 Orlando Cepeda - and a BIG cartoon

Last month Orlando Cepeda had to be rushed to the hospital to be treated for a "cardiac incident". Thankfully, according to a SF Gate article the Hall of Fame first baseman has made significant progress towards recovery. 

The scary news got me to check and I realized that I had not yet dedicated a column to Cepeda. Tonight we rectify this issue. 

1959 Topps All-Star #553 Orlando Cepeda

In 1959 Orlando Cepeda made the first of eleven All-Star teams that he would be part of during his 17 year career. 1959 began a four year run that featured two all-star games. Cepeda made all 8 of those teams. Cepeda only appeared in the first of the two 1959 games, with the NL winning the contest 5-4 despite the fact that Cepeda went 0-4.

In addition to the 11 ASG Orlando Cepeda's accolades include a World Champion, four postseason appearances,  an MVP (1967) award and a Rookie of the Year (1958).

And oh yeah that Hall of Fame plaque awarded by the Veterans Committee in 1999.  

The 1959 Topps All-Star cards close the set and were the last to be released for the year. The nice thing about this is that it allows Topps to put out an All-Star set representing the current years game, unfortunately they made some dubious choices in selection.

Orlando Cepeda would appear on two other All-Star cards, 1962 and 1968. In addition to being included in the 1968 ASG set Cepeda was also the subject of that years NL All-Star puzzle.

1959 Topps All-Star #553 Orlando Cepeda (b-side)

I like the backs of the 1959 Topps All-Stars, The full-size cartoon and fun-fact are nicely done. I also like the Bazooka ad at the bottom.

BIG Cartoon
1959 Topps #535 Orlando Cepeda also happens to be a landmark card. I believe 1959 Topps All-Stars are the first subset to include the full-size cartoon. There are actually 2 cards that precede Cepeda in the 1959 ASG Subset, but those are both managers, The first of which is Fred Haney who is the first oversized cartoon back. However since he is not a player, and neither is #534 Casey Stengel that makes today's featured guest Orlando Cepeda the first player to have an oversized cartoon back - PIONEER! Thanks to Fuji for getting my wheels rolling in this direction.

Other Voices
CommishBob covers this over at his 1959 Topps Blog

Orlando Cepeda Index
1975 Topps  #205 1967 MVP  (with Carl Yastrzemski)

Sources and Links
1959 Topps All-Stars Index 
1968 Topps Blog
1959 Topps 1 f/g card at a time
SF Gate

2018 0321 - Added Big Cartoon Paragraph, Thanks Fuji

Thursday, March 1, 2018

1959 Topps All-Star Index

This is an index of our postings related to the 1959 All-Star Subset. It is the second All-Star set produced by Topps.

1959 Topps All-Star #553 Orlando Cepeda

American League

552 Casey Stengel Yankes MGR
554 Bill Skowron Yankees 1B
556 Nellie Fox White Sox 2B
558 Frank Malzone Red Sox 3B
560 Luis Aparicio White Sox SS
562 Al Kaline Tigers OF
564 Mickey Mantle Yankees OF
566 Roy Sievers Senators OF
568 Gus Triandos Orioles OF
570 Bob Turley Yankees OF
572 Billy Pierce White Sox OF

National League
551 Fred Haney Braves MGR
553 Orlando Cepeda Giants 1B
555 Bill Mazeroski Pirates 2B
557 Ken Boyer Cardinals 3B
559 Ernie Banks Cubs SS
561 Hank Aaron Braves OF
563 Willie Mays Giants NL OF
565 Wes Covington Braves OF
567 Del Crandall - Braves OF
569 Bob Friend Pirates OF
571 Warren Spahn Braves OF

Sources & Links
1958 Topps All-Stars
1960 Topps All-Stars 
Baseball-Ref: Baseball Cards

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

International Polar Bear Day: Sherry Magee T205

Tuesday February 27th is International Polar Bear Day. The day is dedicated to raising awareness of the plight of the Polar Bear. You can even Adopt a Polar Bear for just $30 - well virtually anyway.

1911 T205 Sherrwood Magee

Sherry Magee is one of those borderline Hall of Famers from the deadball era that I don't know much about. He was traded away from the Phillies prior to their 1915 NL Pennant winning season so he did not get to play for that squad. He did manage to get into a World Series with the 1919 Cincinnati Reds who defeated the ill-fated Joe Jackson / Black Sox team.

In 2003 Magee was added to the Phillies Wall of Fame during an era that included several other early 20th century Phillies such as Gavvy Cravath and the original Billy Hamilton. Magee's best year with the club was 1910 when he led the league in Batting Average, Runs, RBI and Total Bases. In addition to those traditional stats he led the league in OBP, Slugging, OPS, OPS+, and Offensive WAR. That is a Mike Trout type year kids!

T206 may get all the notoriety because of the Honus Wagner card but I much prefer their 1911 predecessor T205 (see below). There is so much more going on with T205, The color, Gold Borders, Facsimile Signature and Team Logo are all things that stand out and then you flip the card over and...

1911 T205 Sherrwood Magee (b-side)

Look at all that text AND Stats. It may only be Games Played, Batting Average, and Fielding Percentage but they are stats. The Final Stat line includes the League Leading batting average mentioned above. The final line in the biography mentions the 263 Total Bases.

Not sure how many issues prior to 1952 Topps contain both a written synopsis and a stat box.

At the bottom of the card we return to todays theme "International Polar Bear Day". T205 were issued for a variety of Tobacco brands, This one just happens to be Polar Bear.

2002 Topps T206 #123 Pat Burrell (mini)

Among the Topps many retro brands are both T205 and T206 cards. This is a 2002 mini, which means it matches the size of the original tobacco cards from the early part of the 20th century.

2002 Topps T206 #123 Pat Burrell (mini / b-sdie)
Flipping over the card we get to see a faux Polar Bear ad, as Topps is not associated with the Tobacco company.
One of my minor collections is Polar Bear cards, both originals and retros. I have no official list, but do enjoy picking up the ones I see. Ideally I would like to have 1 T205 from each team - that would make for a good set for me.
This is all because my High School Mascot was the Polar Bear. It's a funny connection, I suppose it make me feel good when I hear stories about Polar Bears and I think of my younger days.
International Polar Bear Day

Yes it is a real think and if you want to learn more about the plight of the Polar Bear you can check here.

Sources and Links
Phillies Wall of Fame Index
Polar Bears International

Monday, February 26, 2018

Happy Birthday Matt Stairs 2009 Topps #139

Matt Stairs celebrates his 50th Birthday on February 27th. Of course Matt will always be remembered for one of the biggest Home Runs in Phillies history.

Game 4 of the 2008 NLCS Playoffs:

2009 Topps #139 Matt Stairs (image swiped from topps card db)

In the 8th inning of a 5-5 tie Stairs came in to pinch-hit and blasted a 3-1 pitch from Dodgers pitcher Jonathan Broxton deep into the Dodger Stadium bleachers. It is one of the hardest hit balls I have ever seen. The homer capped the scoring as the Phillies won the game 7-5 and took a 3-1 series lead. 

2009 Topps #139 Matt Stairs (b-sides /image swiped from topps card db)

The back of the card has a similar synopsis as we have written above along with the RHE box. Fumy how it is unlabeled bit all baseball fans know what it means. Stairs line for the game consists of his single PH AB - 2 RBI nobody Left on Base!

2008 Oct 13 Matt Stair Home Run in Game 4 of the NLCS

I was able to find the original image but it there is no associated photo credit in the accompanying Philly.com article. Notice that on this 2009 card the umpire has been digitally removed. Of course this meant that something had to be added in the umps absence. It looks like Topps took a crowd from a different game and inserted them in the space vacated by the ump. Check Stairs head then move to the right. The first guy is a match, Kid in orange shirt missing, Blue shirt w/ blue cap and shades over cap also missing. Same thing on row below - matches end with the person in the maroon shirt. ahh The joys of Photoshop.

UPDATE: I have found the source photo, it was taken by Chris Carlson and can be found here.  

Matt Stairs Index
1991 ProCards #259 (Swag)
2007 Topps #UH119 (Gold / Canadian Baseball HOF induction)
2009 Phungo #12

Sources & Links
2008 World Series Champs
Game Dated Cards Index
Topps Card DB
AP Images

2018 0228: AP Image found

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Happy Birthday & Anniversary Alan Trammell

On Thursday February 21st Alan Trammell celebrates his 60th birthday. His first as a Hall of Famer.
1981 Topps #709 Alan Trammell (pix swiped from Topps Baseball Card Database)

In this photo on his 1981 Topps card the Tigers Shortstop has a "You have Got To be Kidding Me" expression. An expression that many a SABRmetrician had each year when Alan Trammell was rejected for Hall of Fame induction.

This past December after a long wait Alan Trammell was selected for Hall of Fame induction by the latest incarnation of the Veteran's Committees.

Fifteen tallies and Trammell never got more than 50% of the vote. That is an awful lot of NO votes.

Trammell's HOF case is complicated. His career numbers are a tick below the traditional "Hall of Fame Thresholds". Hits = 2365, HR = 185, RBI = 1003. He checked the box on a World Champions and has some All-Star, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger hardware. Unfortunately he did not come up with the MVP, However....

Two years ago in my HOF ballot discussion of Trammell I examined the 1987 MVP award which I felt he deserved over George Bell. While I felt that two candidates were pretty even overall for me one big factor pushed Trammell past Bell. He performed better down the stretch when the players two teams were vying for the same division title.

For my complete Alan Trammell HOF Analysis click here.

1981 Topps
In general I like the 1981T design. I think the use of a cap as the palate for the Team & Position info is unique in the Topps canon. In fact I am not sure baseball cap icons have been used on many sets Topps or otherwise. However, I am not fond of the color combo given the Tigers by Topps. Purple & Black just appear to go together in this format, Works for Rockies Pinstripes but not 1981 Topps.

Check the Title of this posting. First we mentioned a Birthday, which we covered in the first sentence. But we also specify an Anniversary well...

1981 Topps #709 Alan Trammell (b-side)

Check out the first -toon. Yep In addition to being Alan Trammell's 60th Birthday, it is also his Wedding Anniversary. Since the Trammell's Wed on Alan's 20th Birthday it is also a Milestone Wedding Anniversary as well #40.  If Alan is reading this, the gift for the 40th Anniversary is the Ruby.

June 12 1979
The latter cartoon notes a Steal of Home by Trammell during a 9-2 Tigers victory over the Oakland A's. I am not sure, but this steal may be a borderline violation of an unwritten rule. The Tigers had an 8-2 in the bottom of the 8th inning.

The steal was so insignificant that it did not even make the Sporting News Write up for the game.

Although the write up does mention that the game was one of two led by Dick Tracewski who was holding the post on an interim basis until Sparky Anderson could take over. Perhaps Tracewski was trying to get the team in a more aggressive mode prior to Sparky showing up. 

Alan Trammell Index
1980 Topps - 1987 MVP aWARd / 2016 HOF credentials

Sources and Links
Game Dated Cards
Polish Sports Hall of Fame
Sports Illustrated Jay Jaffe 
Topps Baseball Card Database

Thursday, February 8, 2018

#tbt 2008 October 31: a Phillies Parade

There is a big parade happening in Philadelphia today. A decade ago Team Phungo got to attend a parade similar celebration.

In 2008 the Phillies Parade ended at the Stadium, On our way there we crossed the parking lot that is located where Veterans Stadium once stood. There are markers for each of the bases there, This is team Phungo at Home Plate. Pretty cool to have that pix taken the date the Phillies celebrated their World Championship.

Within the Ballpark the Phillies road around the ballpark in convertible and later spoke. This is Charlie Manuel. I blew this up a bit and used it for an early Phungo Card.

The Celebration concluded with the Phillies raising the 2008 Banner next to the American Flag.

Beutiful Day for a great celebration. I hope that the fans at the Eagles parade get to enjoy the day as much as I enjoyed the Phillies party 10 years ago.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

1996 UD All-Star Game Jumbo #275 Roberto Alomar

We had a lot of excitement around Phungo HQ over the weekend and I didn't get around to put together a column on an HOF celebrating a marquee birthday.

Yes on Monday February 5th the twelve time All-Star Roberto Alomar turned 50.

1996 UD All-Star Game Jumbo #275 Roberto Alomar

Roberto Alomar may already be used to having his birthday ignored. Despite being an Hall of Fame player he is only the 2nd best player born on February 5th, ranking behind the Great Henry Aaron. Alomar was admitted to the Hall as part of the 2011 class with Bert Blyleven.

During his 17 year career Alomar donned seven different uniforms. His stops that most affected me were probably with the Blue Jays (which I will avoid discussing), the Orioles and the Mets.

Alomar's HOF credentials include 2724 career hits, Two World Championships (1992 & 1993), an ALCS MVP (1992), and 10 Gold Gloves at the premium position of second base. His 2320 games at Second rank 3rd all-time.

1996 UD All-Star Game Jumbo
For our Robbie Alomar profile I picked out an oversized parallel of a 1996 Upper Deck base card. When Philadelphia hosted the 1996 All-Star Game UD put together a small limited release set of Jumbo cards for the event.

The cards are exactly the same as the base cards but twice the size. To illustrate the size difference of the cards size we have enlisted the help of the Phillies middle infield of the era, Mickey Morandini and Kevin Stocker.    

1996 Upper Deck Jumbo vs Base 

Notice that the Two Phillies Cards (2.5 x 3.5) are exactly half the size of the Alomar card (5 x 3.5).

We also see that the designs of Jumbo and base are identical, with the exception of the 1996 ASG flare. It is a bit hard to make out but in the bottom left of the Alomar card is the liberty bell shaped logo. For a better look at what the logo check out the Game Ticket featured in our Rickey Botallico posting.

Since this is a parallel of a base card likely released well before the season began, neither the photo nor any information on the back of the card have anything to do with the 1996 All-Star Game or season.

1996 ASG
Robbie Alomar was the started at second base for the 1996 AL All-Star team alongside his Orioles Double Play teammate Cal Ripken. All Three of Robbie's plate appearances came against future Hall of Famers: John Smoltz,  Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez. Alomar's lone hit was a single off Pedro in the 7th. The Box Score to the 6-0 NL Victory can be found here.

1996 UD All-Star Game Jumbo #275 Roberto Alomar

As mentioned above the backs are duplicates of base cards. This include the card numbers which remain unchanged despite the Jumbo being only a 18 card set. The Stat lines vary from player to player. If they have Postseason or All-Star experience those numbers are included, otherwise the stats for the most recent seasons are listed. Robbie gets ASG, LCS and World Series - Those numbers include His Stat line form the 1993 Series vs the Phillies

 1996 UD All-Star Card Set

Here is the box set cover. The verbiage at the bottom notes the the ASG Stamp and the fact that the set consists of "Enlarged Trading Cards"

The Checklist is on the Box Bottom

The 1996 ASG is a Future Series for Phungo and I anticipate this Box Set being a fun part of that series. For now this is the Index/Checklist for postings related to the Subset.

80 Jeff Bagwell
195 Barry Bonds
200 Ken Griffey Jr
271 John Smoltz
275 Roberto Alomar (50th Birthday)
280 Cal Ripken Jr
300 Frank Thomas
310 Barry Larkin
313 Sandy Alomar
315 Albert Belle
317 Charles Nagy
319 Kenny Lofton
320 Dante Bichette
345 Craig Biggio
360 Mike Piazza
410 Wade Boggs
450 Tony Gwynn
455 Matt Williams

Robbie Alomar HOF Index
1996 UD All-Star Jumbo #275 (this posting)

Sources and Links
1996 ASG Index
Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards - Bob Lemke 

a thousand words

a thousand words
2008 World Champions