Dec 28, 2011

The Quest for the 1961 Topps Phillies Team Set: High Numbered Glory

There must have been something wrong with kids growing up in the 1960s. Why did no one ever seem to buy the last series of cards in a given year? Is the need to complete a set a relatively new phenomenon? Did kids just get burnt out from buying cards all year and getting tired of seeing the same packs? Were all their favorite players and teams in the lower series so they already got them and now these later series?

Is it actually possible to lose interest from baseball during points in the year? This is something I just can't fathom. Baseball (and its various iterations) was the sport of youth. Wasn't there the MLB network and 24 hour ESPNews and the internet to keep interest in the hot stove during the offseason? Wait, you say there wasn't? You had to get The Sporting News weekly to know what was happening? Now, I see the problem.

Those poor packs of cards sat neglected during the early offseason months as kids and collectors were sidetracked by other pursuits such as football, snowball fighting, and raking leaves. I would still want them all though if I were alive back then. Grocery stores should always have cards and carry all those series.

Now, these high numbers are absolutely difficult and expensive to track down now because of this lack of sense of completeness and diversion from the real purpose in life: to indulge in baseball and baseball-related ideas all the year through. This can't be a solitary idea among the voices in my least they tell me it isn't.

Way back in 2010, I decided to pursue Phillies Topps team sets that corresponded with the Heritage set for that year. For 1961, all that's left is the high numbers of that 7th series. It has been frustrating to track down examples that cost less than $15. Here is the first example of Bobby Malkmus. He has no logo on his cap even though it's not his first card as a Phillie (1960 Topps).  Strange.

Here are the relevant stats:

Years on Phillies: 1960-1962
Best Year as a Phillie: 1961, .231/.276/.327 (61 OPS+), 7 HR, 31 RBI, finished 22nd in MVP voting (the only Phillie with a vote, considering the team was 47-107)
Card Number: 531 (HI number!)

Bring on the rest or build me a time machine to take me back to November 1961....all I would have to do is pack nickels with dates before that one.

Dec 19, 2011

Blog Bat Around: 2011 Retrospective

The blog bat around returns with the question bugging all of us.
The 2011 baseball card collecting season is finally over -- other than Bowman Sterling. What set or release stands out as your favorite from the year? What set or release brings your lunch back up in your throat?

My favorite set this year was 2011 Topps.  I might not have liked all the concepts, I definitely did not like the configuration, I did not like the investment potential (even if I don't do that)...wait, this is supposed to be the positive paragraph.  There were a few great things about 2011 Topps that made me coming back for more (so much so that I'm slowly approaching the non-parallels master set.)

1. The Diamond Giveaway:  I never thought I would trade virtual cards so much.  Even with all the hiccups....hic...of the itself.   The concept this year was spot on.   There was an actual prize to strive for in the factory set, and the exclusive diamond diecuts kept my trade offers full with ridiculous offers and let offer ridiculous things of my own.
2.  The Diamond Anniversary Parallels:  I don't think a parallel for a Topps set has ever been so aesthetically pleasing.  Really, it wasn't something where I went, oh, what a waste of a card.  I actually actively collected a good number of them...not that I would try to complete the set or anything...that's just crazy.  If I never need a reminder of the beauty lacking in the world, I can grab the pages with these parallels and partake in the glimmering paradise.
3. Kimball Champion Minis:  I wanted them all, I got them all.  They look awesome in pages, exactly 10 pages.  It doesn;t matter about the backs.  The only negative for me is the repeat subjects across some of the series.

My 2nd favorite set this year has been Gypsy Queen.  It was almost perfect.  Design was great, I have an unhealthy obsession with mini cards, the insert sets fit the theme, the framed border parallels were upstanding examples of how to do a great parallel set, and the mini framed relics are always welcome.  The auto checklist could have been better, but for someone who bought only retail, it didn;t matter to me.

There are some sets that I find not so appealing.  For me, Bowman Platinum is something that I don't need to see anymore.  With Topps Chrome, Finest, and the other Bowmans dealing with prospect and rookie autographs, it was redundant and superfluous.  If there were no Finest or Bowman Chrome, it might work as a concept.  Otherwise, it's just hanging out there like an unattached incandescent bulb with no collecting niche.  

The one disappointment I had was Allen & Ginter, and it's not for the reasons that are often commonly cited.  I like the non-sport elements, I like the whimsy, I like the disregard for number symbols on the back.  It is its own brand.  This year, it went a bit too far in the number of insert sets that are dedicated to the sublime and unnatural.  All I want is more base set minis than insert set minis in a box.  Is that too much to ask?

2011 was a heavy collecting year for me.  Seriously, it;s pounds and pounds of cards.  They're not easy to transport.

Dec 14, 2011

The Wonders of Coffee

At this point, late nights are a common occurrence in life. I don't actually drink coffee, but I heard it does wonders for the late night seeker or the not-yet-morning person. Caffeine is something that baseball players really must have drank a lot of in the 1950s. Performance enhancing drugs at that time was booze and cigarettes, so any energy boost at that time would have been welcomed. Right now, I'm running on one of those adrenaline highs you get after something exciting happens to you, you know? The problem is nothing actually happened, so my brain has convinced my mind (these are not the same) that I should be amped....

So here I am, absolutely hyper for no reason. I've spent hours rifling through cards ("everybody shufflin'") and realizing that 2011 was the year of collection overload. It looked like my cabinet decided to swallow all the coffee I don't drink and dedicate itself to running around and filling itself with cards that I haven't seen before. Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike autonomous furniture? First, they surreptitiously undermine your authority and then they convince the other furniture to join their cause. As I write this, my dining room table has decided to fill itself up with cards without my knowledge as well....

Here's to some of the 1956 Topps cards I have, the first of which is definitely coffee stained (or it at least better be coffee).  This card is of my second favorite catcher from before I was born, Andy Seminick.

It was a calling to old glory for Andy, as he returned to the scene of his power hitting younger days after a 3+ year exile in Cincinnati.  On second thought, that could have been a Skyline chili stain....

Jim Owen was too young to appreciate the drinks of the older gentlemen of the club, having only just turned 21 during the 1955 season. But there must have been some sort of "giddyup juice" in his water bottle because the ball jumped out of his hand in any which direction. He issued over 130 BB between the minors and majors.

He finally settled down to a less than 6.0 BB/9 in 1959 when he could rent a car on his own. I wonder if drive-through coffee places were invented yet?

So to all nighttime coffee drinkers out there, I have two pleas (of semi-ignorance), stop allowing your furniture to take sips when you're not looking and only drink it when you're in need of vintage cards because they will appear in all their stained glory.