July 22, 2014

Keith Olbermann On The Trimmed Honus Wagner Tobacco Card

A segment from tonight's Olbermann show:

July 21, 2014

Best Single 9-Card Binder Page in the 1971 Topps Set

This is always a fun experiment to do as I don't imagine that Topps thought we would be looking at their sets in groups of nine cards encased in plastic pages when they originally made these sets.

As far as all out fire power goes, nothing compares to card #64-70. You're getting three stars per page on each card with many of them Hall of Fame inductees. But I consider this sort of cheating in determining the best possible group of nine.

Look at all those wonderful stats! These cards are the only easy way you would ever be able to find who was the 20th best in RBIs or 17th in strikeouts.

As I flipped through the pages there were no obvious amazing pages and this is mainly because Topps used to spread out the star players giving them the nice round numbers of 100, 200, 300 and so on. So what you are hoping for is an established legend with some rookies or prospects that also eventually had great careers. So there are two main contenders that had at least two Hall of Fame inductees as well as other significant players. 

First up we have cards #244-252 with two Hall of Famers Johnny Bench and Hoyt Wilhelm. You also have Twins fan favorite Jim Kaat and the rookie card for Royals great Paul Splittorff who you may not have realized won more than 160 games and over 15 games in four seasons. 

The other contender is the group of cards #523-531. This page's Hall of Famers, Ernie Banks and Carl Yastrzemski, together are of a higher caliber than Bench and Wilhelm. Sandwiched between two other rookies you'll find Bill Buckner's second year card. Hi actual rookie card was the year before when he was featured in the same type of "rookie stars" card. It is also important to note that Tigers fan favorite Mickey Stanley is in this group.

So which nine-card grouping do you think is best?  

July 19, 2014

R.I.P. Uncommon Sports Cards and Jeff's Sports Cards

Over the past week I discovered that two of my favorite local card shops have closed. When I was visiting family back in Minnesota I found that Uncommon Sports Cards near Minneapolis had shut its doors. Every LCS has it's good and bad points but Uncommon had a huge section of storage materials and toploaders. They also had great blind lots that they would sell for $5.00 a box. It had been a few months since I had been able to make it back to the Twin Cities so I'm not exactly sure how long they have been closed but the store will certainly be missed.

Yesterday I called over to Jeff's Sports Cards to see how late they would be open and the number came back as being disconnected. Not a good sign. I was going over to Topeka anyway so I drove over to see if my worst fears were true and sure enough there were empty windows.

When I first moved to Lawrence back in 2008 the shop was called Al's Sport Cards. 

Al had owned it for many years and sold it to Jeff who logically changed the store's name to Jeff's Sports Cards. They of course had a great selection of Royals and Chiefs [as well as my central location for former Kansas State Wildcat Jordy Nelson cards] and it was certainly the most well organized sections for singles searching. Everything was divided by teams and everything was priced...it really was a model of how cards shops should operate. 

It's sad to see both of these shops close their doors and it shows how even in larger cities the baseball card and sports card markets are finding it harder and harder to make a profit. These shops didn't have the obvious problems that some shops have such as owners that don't offer good customer service or poor pricing. I always found a deal whenever I made it into the shop. I'm afraid it's just the reality that physical card shops are finding it harder and harder to compete with online sellers.  

Episode 4 Of The Breaks Is Up

July 18, 2014

My Favorite 1971 Topps Action Cards

Having recently completed my 1971 Topps set I'm going to start posting collections of various '71 cards that are my favorites and we will start with my favorite action cards from the set. The '71 set was the first to use action photos in their regular base cards. This led to the creation of some of the most memorable Topps cards ever...such as this Thurman Munson.  This is card #5 of the set and so when putting your set into a binder it's in the middle of the page literally right at the center of your attention. 

#5 Thurman Munson
These next two were chosen based on the facial expression of those featured as Casey Cox looks like he might have a ball hit right back at him. 

#82 Casey Cox

You just know Piniella foul tipped this one right back to the pitcher. 

#35 Lou Piniella

I like this one for two reasons. First, I like how everyone in the stands is looking at where Jerry Grote hit the and not at the runner while that is the center of our attention. And secondly, this is one of the rare Topps cards that doesn't actually feature the face of the player featured.  

#278 Jerry Grote

I can't quite tell if Rudy is wearing shades but I hope he is. I also love the big signature that is clearly written by a lefty.

#318 Rudy May

This is one of my favorites because it is so striking when you first look at it you aren't really sure what exactly you are looking at.

#331 Brooks Robinson

When was the last time you got a four players in a single card, plus an umpire, plus a Nolan Ryan bonus card [that's him wearing #30]? And for the uninitiated I use the term "bonus card" when one player because a part of another players card. This is particularly notable when that person is a Hall of Famer and it gives you a bonus card to collect if you are trying to complete a player's checklist.

#355 Bud Harrelson

Speaking of bonus cards these next two feature Thurman Munson nearly getting Vada Pinson out at the plate...

#275 Vada Pinson

...or catching a pitch with George Spriggs at the bat. This was of course in the days before batting helmets were required.

#411 George Spriggs

I choose this one because the '71 Topps set was the last year to feature one of my favorite uniforms in baseball history, the Chicago White Sox blue and white jerseys. The 1970 White Sox lost 106 games and so in the 1971 season they put out the blue and red jerseys synonymous with the mid-70s.

#520 Tommy John

July 16, 2014

Touring Lambeau Field

Back in June I got to take a tour of Lambeau Field for the first time. I've been to the stadium many times either just to take photos or to visit the Packer Pro Shop but I had never taken a stadium tour before. I had also hoped to visit the Packer Hall of Fame but it turned out that this summer it was temporarily relocated away from Lambeau as they are doing construction on a new Hall of Fame and Packer Pro Shop.

Here's some of the construction you can see while walking into the stadium. The construction should be done by the start of the season.  

Before the tour I stopped by the Pro Shop and saw this great display of Cheeseheads. Do a little research later I was surprised to find that the origin of these hats comes from the Milwaukee Brewers rather than the Packers

On to the tour which turned out to be exactly as I had hoped, run by two retired old guys that really really loved the Packers.

We go to go up to one of the high-priced executive boxes to view the field from above. While we were touring the ground keepers were mowing the field which is done every two days.

I entitled this photo "The loneliness of a Green Bay Packers groundskeeper."

We also go to go into the bowels of the stadium..."Player Entrance" this way...

...the home locker room is behind these doors. We didn't get a chance to see it for ourselves.

Players come out of the locker room and down through this hall to directly out on the field.

And as we walked onto the field they played recorded crowd cheers and the announcer's voice announcing the team's arrival onto the field. It was amazing to be able to be on the field after all these years. Well, we weren't on the field as really on the side of the field. If our guides mentioned it once, they mentioned it 10 times, we couldn't walk out onto the field.

They had these signs to remind us as well.

But while we were checking out the acoustics of the stadium by chanting "Go Pack Go" and listening for the echo all of a sudden someone started walking across the field. Our two guides looked at him and started making a move to intercept him and I imagined both of them tackling him like Clay Matthews in the middle of the field but thankfully they realized that that was the groundskeeper we saw earlier in the day mowing the lawn.

And of course it wouldn't be a Packer tour without poking some fun at the Vikings...although they are going to have to change this when the new Vikings Stadium which will have a fixed roof rather than a dome.

July 15, 2014

Wittenberg, Wisconsin's Packer Mural

In the middle of Wisconsin, in the town of Wittenberg you'll find Hanke's Sentry Foods...

...and on the side of that grocery store you'll find a wonderful Green Bay Packers mural. I noticed it as we were driving through town headed towards Nueske's, the great local meat market.

There's a lot to take in there so I'll break it down into smaller sections. First we have Don Hutson in the original navy blue and gold jerseys which founder Curly Lambeau borrowed from his alma mater Notre Dame.  

Next we have Curly Lambeau with his curly hair and the statue of Vince Lombardi this is in front of Lambeau Field. 

Cheeseheads and Jordy Nelson make an appearance. 

Next we have a Packers center with a strategically placed security light. 

Next we have a giant sized Donald Driver doing the Lambeau Leap along with what I think is another Donald Driver wearing the away jersey. 

The last section highlights the long standing tradition of having Packers players ride kid's bicycles as they go back and forth between the training facilities and Lambeau Field. Here's a great collection of photos showing Packer greats borrowing mountain bikes through the years. 

July 14, 2014

Crackin' Wax Has Raised $1K, Help Him Raise Some More

Crackin' Wax has blown through his goal of raising $1,000 dollars for Big Brothers Big Sisters and with three days left help him raise even more. I've donated and here's your chance to help a great charity and possibly win something for yourself as with each $5 donation you have a chance of winning some mystery prizes as well. Follow the link to donate today