Thursday, September 30, 2010

Putting Up My Dukes One More Time!

Elijah Dukes, that is! Oh, and Lastings Milledge, too!
(You can all stop groaning now.)  

This card (from '08 Topps Co-Signers) was irresistable to the part of me that collects infamous things, so I got a guy I know locally who wasn't in love with the card to sell it to me.

Sadly, Dukes and Milledge aren't teammates anymore, and Dukes was a Newark Bear last I heard. While it wouldn't be great for his kinda-stalled career, I hope Dukes is still on the Bears roster next spring (better that than him being out of baseball completely), as I saw the Bears play too early in the season to catch him in action.

Ben Henry's "Casey At The Bat" Poster

(Ben Henry's "Casey At The Bat", adapted for cardboard.
Click the picture for a larger view.)

I got one of these recently, one of the more brilliantly nerdy things I've ever seen in my life. Basically, Ben Henry of The Baseball Card Blog took Ernest Thayer's poem "Casey At The Bat" and set it to baseball cards he felt appropriate to the text. It's a Herculean effort of Photoshop prowess, funny, poignant, and done with an assortment of some of the best cards ever made. He's selling them for $26.50 shipped, and if you're lucky, he may still have one of the first 50, which he's signed and numbered. You can order the poster and read more about its origins here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Put Up Your Dukes Part II: The Scrapbook!

Thanks to Bob at The Hobby Shop, I was able to take some pictures of the scrapbook mentioned in my previous post, as well as some pictures of the other cards that were in it along with my John L. Sullivan card. Stand by for awesomeness.

 The cover of this leatherbound beauty!

The stencil used to letter the pages.

A few pages of college football clippings from the days before college players were professionals!

The front page of the pro f00'ball section.

From the baseball section, a young man runs out of room to stencil in "Senators".

The back page of the Red Sox section. If you look closely, you can see where the cards were.

That beauty in the center of this pic was one of 'em. Teddy Ballgame! (Also in this pic: '54 Bowman Willie Mays, '54 Topps Ted Williams and to the right of Ted, a '54 Topps Hank Aaron rookie.)

 The Babe!

A little tough to make out (still need to figure out the zoom on my phone), but DiMaggio and Rizzuto are in this shot.

Some Leaf football (Sid Luckman and Doak Walker among them), as well as a gorgeous Namath rookie peeking in from the left.

Sammy Baugh!

And last, but not least, some of the other boxers: Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, Jake La Motta and Max Schmeling, among others!

Put Up Your Dukes!

John L. sure did!

I got this card last night, a steal at any price, much less $15, even with the glue damage on the back:
You see, there's a great story behind that glue damage. This card was part of a pretty amazing collection that walked into my local card shop a few weeks ago. A man of about 70 brought in a leather-bound scrapbook he'd put together when he was about 9 or 10. In it, he had pasted newspaper clippings of some sports stories of the time, and further into the book, he'd also pasted a collection of probably about 100 sports cards (baseball, football and boxing), from the '48 and '49 Leaf sets and the '49 Bowman set. We're not talking lightweights here, either, as Ruth, DiMaggio and Teddy Ballgame were all represented on the baseball end of things, Doak Walker was in the football collection, and among the boxers, Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson and the great John L. Sullivan (a criminally undervalued card even for its relatively late vintage, considering that "The Boston Strong Boy" was essentially the first American superstar athlete), pictured above, were just a few of the many names I saw.

The cards, aside from the paste jobs on the backs (which, all things considered, weren't the worst I've seen by a long shot) were all pretty well-preserved and meticulously organized (including stencilled team names at the tops of the pages; the stencil was still in the scrapbook, too), especially considering that a kid of 10 or so, in the late '40s did this. It's actually a damn shame that the scrapbook was sold and disassembled after all this time, as it was a gorgeous time capsule and had to be full of memories for the owner, but from a business perspective, the collection would've been near-impossible to sell except by auction, which could've been dicey and a world of hassle.

I'm going to see if I can grab some pictures of the scrapbook later today, or at least encourage them to photograph or scan it for their own site, just because it's the kind of thing that really needs to be seen and preserved to the degree that it can be at this point (obviously, the cards aren't in it anymore, but the book itself is pretty awesome even without them).

(Edit: Behold! The scrapbook can be seen here!)

For those who are curious, I found an intact scan of the Sullivan card back at Dave's Vintage Cards (Anyone ever dealt with them? They have some staggeringly good stuff in inventory according to their site, priced reasonably for the most part...) for those who want to get out the magnifying glass and read what it says. Hopefully Dave won't mind me ganking his scan in exchange for the link.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Finally, I scan some stuff and write a thing or two.

Took me forever to get around to going through cards, lugging them to the computer where the scanner resides and scanning them, but I did it. (Now, to figure out how to turn off auto-crop on my scanner program so I can get usable scans of things that aren't in screwdowns!) To start things off, I'm just going to post a few recent acquisitions with my comments.

How could a man pass on an Albert Belle Sweet Spot card? It actually took me a few attempts on eBay to get this one, but I'm happy that I have it. Belle didn't do a lot of official signings for card companies, I don't think, and while he's a complicated, some would say troubled guy, he was also the last guy you wanted to see at the plate if your team was facing him, for the near-entirety of his career. I find myself in this strange position of missing Albert Belle now that I've got the benefit of hindsight, and I think he got royally screwed by the BBWAA when it came to the Hall Of Fame.

Ladies and Dobermanns, I present to you an awesome, signed in ball point pen '62 Topps Don Mossi card! (Last time a ballplayer signed a card in ball point for me was Henry Aaron in '86!) Sent this one out to him a month ago, and he returned it signed in about 2 weeks! Thanks, Don! Very cool piece from a guy who should get way more attention for his pitching prowess (he's got a reliever's perfect game, 27 outs in a row to his credit, and he had a few very solid years as a starter after making a name for himself as a dependable bullpen guy to boot!) than he does for his dashing good looks.

Speaking of good lookin' fellers...
Here's another through-the-mail score, a '90 Topps Don Zimmer (it was either I send Zim this, or run the chance of never seeing my '55 or '56 Topps Zimmers again; for some reason, I'm really short on his cards...), signed and returned within about a week! Now, there's some talk among the autograph seeker community about how Don might not be signing all the stuff that he gets in the mail, and some Google Images research turned up two distinct, recent Zim signatures in bunches (the one pictured above is the one you don't see in the Steiner-type mass signings, which looks hurried and abbreviated, and is closer to his early signatures), but I'll say this: if I have Mrs. Don Zimmer's autograph, that may be even more awesome! Thanks for the signature and for the awesome, Mr. and Mrs. Zimmer!
Like I said, I'll be posting more as I have time (and especially once I make my scanner call me "daddy" on the auto-crop front), but I did scan a bunch of cards, and I've got things figured out a few posts ahead. In the meantime, what kinda stuff have y'all picked up recently?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Getting on the ass end of a pretty long bandwagon, by my own admission...

...but here I am.

I'm Scott Crawford. Some of you may know me from...well, all over. I could talk about those other places and other things that I've done or how we may know each other, but that's not what we're here for, and hell, you all know how to use search engines if you get curious, right? (For those of you who don't know me from elsewhere and are finding me for the first time, be warned, those search results get kinda weird and kinda not-safe-for-work-or-kids.)

So, yeah, enough about me and what I did on some date with some stuff with some dudes.

I'm here today, and ideally for the forseeable future, to talk with you about trading cards.

I love trading cards.

I'm pretty sure I bought my first pack at some point during 1980. It was a pack of 1980 Topps baseball cards, bought at a old, run down grocery store owned by a Greek man named George. I could be wrong about this, but I think my Rickey Henderson rookie card came from my first pack. I seem to remember Dwight Evans and Tom Burgmeier being in there too, though again, it was decades ago and very hazy.

Since that day, I've had an on-again, off-again, love/hate/love relationship with trading cards of all varieties. I mainly collect baseball cards, but I've collected a whole mess of other types of trading cards. Football, basketball, hockey, "Howard The Duck"...let me tell you, people, it gets ugly around here sometimes.

After 30 years of collecting cards, I'm still not exactly sure what draws me to them quite so strongly, causes me to spend a ton of hours sorting through them, makes me spend money I don't really have on them, or has compelled me to create a place to talk about them with other folks. It could be that I'm an OCD culture junkie. It could be the connection to my own youth that they have. It could be about a wider connection to history that comes from an unlikely source. It could even be an appreciation for what's, in all truth, an incredible form of pop art. Yes, even in the case of the "Howard The Duck" cards. Oh, who am I kidding? ESPECIALLY in the case of the "Howard The Duck" cards.

Whatever the reason, I've been thinking about opening shop and talking with you all about cards for what seems like forever now, but tonight's the night I finally chose to do it. Maybe it's because I spent a fair chunk of my evening at a store, hands-deep in 1980 Topps cards. No Rickey this time, but I did replace my Tom Burgmeier card and while I don't want to say I replaced my Dwight Evans, because a card that's been with me quite as long as that, you don't replace, but I did get another copy of it in better condition than the slept on, eaten on, thrown around, with me through several moves and most of my life one that may or may not have been in my first pack.

As for what I'll specialize in here, among a pretty crowded and still-growing field: mostly, it'll be sharing.

I've got some cool cards that I'd like to show folks, and if people want to talk about or show off theirs here, that's cool as well. I've also got a bunch of doubles, so in an effort to get them out into the world, I'll be trading them to interested parties, giving some away, and occasionally selling them, though like most of the card collectors I know of who aren't dealers, what I have doesn't have a ton of monetary value. In the meantime, if you have want lists, feel free to send them here. I'll be posting mine as soon as I write something up that provides some context to it.

This won't be a news site per se, but if I come across news that's beneficial or interesting to us and not splattered everywhere, I'll pass it on.

Instead of up-to-the-minute reports on sell sheets and the like (which are done very well elsewhere), I'll be more likely to talk about what I've seen, thought and have experienced during my time as a card collector, or during my time as a person who happens to collect cards, and see what you folks think about it. Hopefully, it turns into a fun discussion.

If this opening piece has struck you as a bit sedate for the launch of a site, it's by design. My first instinct when I write things like this is to jump around and yell and throw stuff and curse and break things, but I paused for a minute and went in a different direction when I resumed writing. (This isn't to say that the wild rumpus won't happen here occasionally, because it will.)

I did this because decided that the Crazy Eddie approach to talking about cards ran counter to how I feel when I spend time going through cards and looking at them.

When I look through trading cards, I feel calm. Again, for reasons I'm not entirely aware of, it quiets me. I'm really thankful for that. I forgot to mention that in my list of reasons for collecting cards, didn't I?

Here's hoping that you all get a great feeling of some sort when you look through cards, and that you'll come by here to talk about them with my readers and I.


P.S. Expect the layout of this site to look like rubbish for the next little while, as I figure out how everything works here and find someone willing to spare me the indignity of getting lost in Photoshop. First and foremost, this place needs a title banner. Do I have any volunteers in the audience?