Tuesday, November 3, 2015

George Metkovich Purchase

I won #58 George "Catfish" Metkovich a few days ago, and I'm just getting around to posting it now.
He picked up his nickname in Spring Training as a rookie, when he went fishing, stepped on a catfish and cut his foot, causing him to miss several games.  He was a reserve outfielder on the 1946 Boston Red Sox, the last Red Sox team to win 100 games.  For a guy who had over 40 years to sign the card, Metkovich is very hard to find; I've only seen a couple of these since I started. 

I'm now up to 152/274 (55.47 %) of the way there.  

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Monte Irvin, Harry Byrd, Art Schult and Andy Carey Purchases

Also picked up these four: #62 Monte Irvin, #131 Harry Byrd, #167 Art Schult and #188 Andy Carey.

Irvin was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1973, the first year that Negro Leaguers were considered. Byrd was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1952.  He won 15 games that year, which was about a third of his career wins total.  Considering the Philadelphia Athletics were a solidly second division team by then, they had a considerable amount of talent; Byrd, 1952 MVP Bobby Shantz, and All-Stars in Eddie Robinson, Gus Zernial and Ferris Fain.  Schult and Carey were both backups on the Yankees for several years and combined won three World Series with them.

These pickups bring me to 151/274 (55.11 %).  This might be it for a while, at least until I can pick up some more shifts and reload.  Since August alone, I've spent almost $2,000 on this project, so I need to take a breather.

Johnny Wyrostek, Clint Courtney, Dixie Walker and Harvey Haddix Purchases

It has been a long time since my last update.  Midterms start this week, and I've been chasing my tail for a lot of the last few weeks.  I've also been busy with several new purchases, of #79 Johnny Wyrostek, #127 Clint Courtney, #190 Dixie Walker and #273 Harvey Haddix.  
Wyrostek was a two time All-Star, and one of the tougher cards.  This was the second Wyrostek I've seen, and I am glad to report that I got it cheaper than the other one.  Courtney had a long running feud with Billy Martin that culminated in the two of them beating the crap out of each other under the bleachers at Sportsman's Park.  Walker was the ringleader of the Brooklyn Dodgers who demanded to be traded instead of playing with a black man.  When not circulating racist petitions, Walker was a five time All-Star who won a batting title in 1944.  He is the only man who was a teammate of both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.  Haddix went on to pitch a 12 inning perfect game that was ruined in the 13th inning.  This was his rookie card.

Edit: Walker is the only man to be teammates with Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Mike Garcia, Granville Hamner, Hank Edwards and Jim Waugh Purchases

It's been a while since my last post, but I did knock off a couple of the difficult cards.  I picked up #90 Hank Edwards from another Net54 member, and #146 Granville Hamner got back from SGC a while ago.  The other two, #75 Mike Garcia and #178 Jim Waugh were eBay finds that I was able to get pretty good prices on.  In the year+ I've spent building the set, this was the first Edwards I've seen, and only the second Hamner.  As a side note, Hamner's nickname during his career was 'Granny'.  He must have been heckled something awful.

I have two more that are in the mail, a purchase and an auction win.  They should be here within the next few days, though it may be a while before I can get home and scan them.  These four bring me up to 143/274 (52.19 %).     

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Phil Rizzuto Purchase

I picked up #116 Phil Rizzuto last week.  Rizzuto is the 12th HOFer, and 5th MVP I've added for this project.   He won the MVP Award in 1950, the year the Yankees won the second of five consecutive World Series titles.  He played with the Yankees until 1956, when he was unceremoniously released to make room for Enos Slaughter.
I'm now up to 139/274 (50.73 %).  I bought a couple more cards, one from eBay, another from a Net54 member, that should be arriving around midweek. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Frank Campos, Don Hoak and Milt Bolling Purchase

The cards I bought from another Net54 member arrived today.  All of them are difficult, in varying degrees of toughness.  Bolling was the last card in the set, so he is very expensive, Campos is just tough to find, and Hoak died in 1969 and was a notoriously bad signer during his lifetime.  I'm glad to see that the Bolling looks like it is in fountain pen; I'm a sucker for fountain pen signatures.
The PSA grades on the top two are for the cards, not the signatures.  With these three and the Smith, I'm up to 138/274 (50.36 %), just over the half way mark.

Frank Smith Purchase

I purchased #116 Frank Smith a few weeks ago.  For a guy who lived to be 77, he is very difficult to find.  This is only the second Smith I've seen in the year-plus I've spent building the set, and on the other one the signature looks like crap.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Vern Benson Purchase

I picked up #205 Vern Benson earlier this week, and it arrived today.  Benson spent most of his playing career in the minors, but spent several decades in the majors as a coach and scout, and even managed the Braves for one game when Ted Turner and Bowie Kuhn were having a spat.
I'm now up to 134/274 (48.91 %).  I'm headed back to school next week, so I expect my pace of acquisitions and posts to slow.  I'll probably do an end-of-summer update before I leave.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sam Mele Return, Sammy White and Rip Repulski Purchases

I've been working a crapton the last couple weeks and haven't had time to post.  I have another Sam Mele return to report, this one on his 1964 Topps.
I mailed this on July 25th, and it came back on August 3rd.  The year after this card came out, he managed the Twins to the World Series, where they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

I won a pair of auctions for my 1953 Topps project, bringing in #139 Sammy White and #172 Rip Repulski.  White was an All-Star this year, and caught Mel Parnell's no-hitter a few years later. Repulski was an All-Star in 1956 and won a World Series with the 1959 LA Dodgers.  They both are not easy to find signed, so I was pleasantly surprised to get them pretty close to the opening bids.
I'm now up to 133/274 (48.54 %).  I have a deal in the works with another Net54 member for some other cards, and hopefully they'll be here before I leave for school, on the 7th.  Stay tuned...

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Jim Wilson Purchase

I picked up #208 Jim Wilson last week, it's just taken a few days to get it scanned and uploaded. Wilson threw a no-hitter on June 12, 1954, against the Philadelphia Phillies.  Robin Roberts was the losing pitcher in that game.  He later became an executive with the Orioles, Astros and Brewers.
I have a few more purchases coming in soon, and have an auction ending on Monday, so there will be a few more additions this week.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Joe Black, George Spencer and Don Lund Purchases

Over the past week I've picked up #81 Joe Black, #115 George Spencer and from the high numbers, #277 Don Lund.  Black was the 1952 N.L. Rookie of the Year, when he won 15 games and saved 15 more.  He never had another good year after that due to arm troubles, but managed to hang around as a player until 1957, then for a few more years as a scout.  Spencer was a member of the 1951 Giants, for who he won 10 games.  Don Lund played for the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers, and I remember reading somewhere that before his death he served as a consultant for the producers of 42.

This brings me to 130/274 (47.45 %).    

Monday, August 3, 2015

Johnny Antonelli Purchase

I won this a while ago, but I'm just getting around to posting it now: #106 Johnny Antonelli.  He's one of the last living members of the 1948 Boston Braves and the 1954 New York Giants.
This brings me to 127/274 (46.35 %).  My goal was to reach 125 by year's end, which I have now done.  I'm hesitant to set a new number goal because I'm trying to knock out the tougher cards first, and by definition those are hard to find.  Reaching 50 % completion would mean getting to 137 signed cards, so I think I'll go with a new goal of 138, or 50 % +1. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Jim Hegan and Harry Simpson Purchases

I also picked up two more tough ones recently; #80 Jim Hegan and #150 Harry Simpson.  Simpson died in 1979, and Hegan in 1984, so they both are pretty difficult to find.
Chalk this up to 'a sign of the times' but I'm noticing that the biographies on the card backs omit references to the Negro Leagues.  Case in point, Simpson's bio says that his first year in organized baseball was 1949, when that was actually his first year in the integrated minor leagues; he had gotten started professionally with the 1946 Philadelphia Stars, and played with them through 1948.

Bubba Church Purchase

After much searching, I finally found a bold signature of #47 Bubba Church.  For some reason, the Church's that I've seen all were either faint or badly blurred.  From the scans it looked like it was signed in fountain pen, but it's actually signed in Sharpie.  A bit of a disappointment, but for the price I got I'm not complaining.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Al Zarilla, Ed McGhee and Harry Perkowski

A purchase from Mickey's also arrived today: #181 Al Zarilla, #195 Ed McGhee and #236 Harry Perkowski.  I've noticed that I've been able to pick up a  lot of the tougher signatures cheaply due to them being personalized, recently with McGhee and McDermott, and a few months ago with Bob Hooper.
I have a couple more eBay purchases that should arrive over the next few days.  I'll do an update then and see if I've reached my goal of 125 signed 1953 Topps.

Karl Drews

I picked up one of the toughest cards in the set in an auction a few days back: #59 Karl Drews.  He's tough because he was hit and killed by a drunk driver in 1963, 10 years after the set came out.  For some reason, all the Phillies in the set are hard to find; I have yet to see a Howie Fox, and I've only seen one each of Johnny Wyrostek, Willie Jones, Drews, Ken Heintzelman and Granville Hamner.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Several Auction Wins

Over the past few months there has been a collection of signed 1953 Topps that is being broken up and sold on eBay.  I picked up a few of them in the spring, and added a half dozen more earlier this week.  Five of them arrived today; #55 Mickey McDermott, #221 Bob Milliken, #240 Freddie Marsh, #241 Al Sima, and #256 Les Peden.  For some reason none of those five come up for sale very often. I only know of one McDermott and Milliken for sale, and had never seen any of the other three outside of personal collections.
Some of the signatures look pretty faint in the scans, but they are much bolder in person.  I'm now up to 118/274 (43.07%).  My goal was to get to 125 by the end of the year, which is looking very doable. If I'm lucky I may even get to 137, which is the halfway point.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Ray Jablonski Purchase

Another eBay auction win arrived a few days ago, #189 Ray Jablonski.  This was the first Jablonski that I had ever seen come up for sale, and I was pleasantly surprised to win it for just over $20 with shipping.
This brings me to 113/274 (41.24%).  I was finally able to get a summer job, so there will be some new acquisitions in the near future.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Marion Fricano Purchase

Another one of the tougher cards arrived today: #199 Marion Fricano.  There is some tape over the autograph and the inscription, but I can live with it.  Fricano died young, in 1976 at age 53, and this is only the second card I've seen signed by him for sale.  I had to take a picture, as my scanner is on the fritz at the moment.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Rocky Krsnich Return

Today brought in a return from #229 Rocky Krsnich.  I mailed it on the afternoon of the 4th, so it took exactly two weeks.  He is the brother of former Milwaukee Braves outfielder Mike Krsnich, who passed away a few years ago.
This is the last return for the set; no other players who are alive are still signing.  I was able to get 44 of the players through the mail, which for a set that is 63 years old I think is pretty good.  This puts me at 112/274 (40.88 %), and I have a few more coming in that I just bought today.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Bill Miller Purchase, Johnny Sain Upgrade

I won a couple of auctions recently, for #100 Bill Miller, and an upgrade for #119 Johnny Sain. Miller is surprisingly difficult to find; this is the first one I've seen.  Interestingly enough, the Sain here, which is in much better shape than the one I own, only cost me about half as much as my original.  These are the first two autographs I've ever purchased that have been graded.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Les Fusselman Purchase

I was able to pick off one of the most difficult cards in the set last week, #218 Les Fusselman. Fusselman was the Cardinals third-string catcher, so he wasn't very highly collected during his lifetime, and he died in 1970, so there wasn't a very large window for him to sign his card.  I was able to snag it for just under $100, and a more experienced collector told me this was probably a $500 card, so I'm happy about that.  On the back of the card, it mentions that Fusselman spent four years in the Army, seeing action in the Philippines and on Okinawa.
This brings me to 110/274 (40.15 %) signed.  I should have one or two more coming in shortly.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

June Update

With about half the year gone, I figured now was as good a time as any to put an update out.  Without further ado:

  • Reach 125 signed 1953 Topps.  I'm at 109 right now, with a couple more that should be in shortly.  I'm focusing on trying to pick off the more difficult cards, so I may or may not reach this one by the end of the year.
  • Add at least six new Hall of Famers to the set.  Again, I haven't been focusing on this one as much as I could have.  I've added three this year, and I don't have any new HOF acquisitions on the horizon.
  • Add at least one new Phillie.  This one I did get to: I picked up #10 Smoky Burgess in April.  
  • Get at least two more 1949 Bowmans signed.  I exceeded this one, with returns from Dave Ferriss, Sam Mele, and Tommy Brown.  I probably won't make any additions to this set for a while.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Wilmer "Vinegar Bend" Mizell Purchase

Another eBay purchase arrived today, #128 Wilmer Mizell.  For some reason, Mizell doesn't come up for sale cheap often, so I was lucky this auction went low and I grabbed it on the not-outrageous end of the price range.
Mizell's nickname came from his hometown of Vinegar Bend, Alabama.  This is the 109th addition to my project, putting me 39.78% of the way there.  I have another purchase in the mail, and another request that should be back within the next couple weeks.  

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Bill Werle Purchase

One of my auction wins from last week arrived today, #170 Bill Werle.  What I find interesting is on the back of this card, the trivia question asked if anyone had thrown a no-hitter in the World Series, and the answer was no, but one of the card's later owners crossed out the no and wrote "Don Larsen, 1956".
This is the 108th (39.42%) signed 1953 Topps I've added.  I started this project in mid-July of last year, so thus far I've made pretty good progress I think.  

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Dick Bokelmann Return

Today brought one return: #204 Dick Bokelmann signed his 1953 Topps card in eight days.  Probably more like seven; I mailed it in the afternoon of the 22nd, so it didn't get out until Saturday.
This brings me to 107/274 (39.05%).  I'm running out of players to send to for this project.  The only one who is still signing that I don't already have is Rocky Krsnich.  There are 4-5 other players still around, but none who sign.  

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Dave "Boo" Ferriss Return

Today brought the last of the 1949 Bowman returns: #211 Dave "Boo" Ferriss.  I say the last because there are only three other players from the set still alive (Red Schoendienst, Yogi Berra and Ralph Branca) and none of them are signing.  This makes the 13th signed '49 Bowman I have.  He also included two signed pictures as well.
Ferriss was nicknamed "Boo" because as a child he couldn't pronounce the word "brother".  In the 1980's, when David Halberstam was researching The Summer of '49, he traveled to Mississippi to search for Ferriss, but the Dave Ferriss he turned up was the pitcher's grandson; the former pitcher is listed in the telephone book as Boo Ferriss.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Ben Wade Purchase

My most recent purchase arrived today: #4 Ben Wade.  This is the 106th addition to my 1953 Topps set, and brings me to 38.69% completion.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tommy Brown Return

Today brought one 1949 Bowman return; #178 Tommy Brown, a former Brooklyn Dodgers outfielder.  Brown came up in 1945, and holds the record for youngest player to hit a home run in an MLB game.  He hung around for a few years with Brooklyn, the Phillies and the Cubs before retiring in 1953.  I sent this out on May 9th, so that makes a 10 day return.  He also enclosed a window decal for the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund.
  This is the 12th signed 1949 Bowman I have.  After turning the cyberworld upside down, I managed to find #211 Dave Ferriss at a price that was not outrageous, and sent that out to him a few days ago.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Johnny Hetki and Gene Stephens Returns

Now that finals are over, I finally have time to get caught up.  A couple of returns for my 1953 Topps project came in recently: #235 Johnny Hetki arrived on 4/30 after about two weeks, and #248 Gene Stephens came in a couple days later.  I had sent it on 11/18, so just under 6 months.
Gene Stephens is suffering from Alzheimer's, which I can see from his signature; it looks almost nothing like the facsimile on the back.  When he came up, the Red Sox were grooming him to be Dom DiMaggio's replacement but he had a hitch in his swing that prevented that.  Johnny Hetki was nearing the end of the line when this card came out: the following season was his last in the majors.  He hung around with Toronto, then a minor league team, for a couple more years but never made it back.  There seem to be a lot of Pirates in the high numbers (#221-280).  Not sure why that is. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Bob Hooper Purchase

I won #84 Bob Hooper in an auction in eBay a few days ago, and it arrived today.  I was pleasantly surprised that no one else bid on it, so I was able to grab it for the starting bid of $29.99.  I guess it's because the signature is personalized and kind of ugly and the card isn't in great shape either, but Hooper died in 1980, so the pickings are kind of slim.  He is one of two Canadians in the set, the other being #137 John Rutherford.  Incidentally, they are both from the same part of Ontario.  Their hometowns aren't that far from each other.  I don't know who "Larry" is; I wonder if he had brothers named Curly and Moe?

This purchase brings me to 103/274 (37.59%) on the set.  I'm trying to convince myself to sell off a few other pieces of my collection to fund more purchases, but that will probably have to wait until after finals.  I'm looking into moving some 1950's and early 1960's signed Topps cards I have, and a few unsigned 1933 Goudey's I've been holding on to.  

Friday, April 17, 2015

Sam Mele Return

I had one 1949 Bowman come in yesterday, #118 Sam Mele.  He signed it in a little under a month. I think I mailed it out on 3/20 or thereabouts.  This is the first time that Mele has ever signed the card I sent him in the four times I've written.  The first time, he signed two index cards but kept my '49 Bowman, the second time, he kept my '65 Topps and wrote "No card Scott" on my letter, and then the next '49 Bowman I sent him never received a response.  I think what made the difference is I hand wrote my letter.  Usually I type them because my handwriting is atrocious, but I guess that's what he prefers.
This is the 11th signed 1949 Bowman I have.  I'm not actively trying to complete the set like I am with the 1953 Topps, although if I ever win the lottery (or get a job) then I'll try to polish it off after I'm done with the '53 set.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Smokey Burgess Purchase, Carl Scheib, Frank Lary and Steve Mura Returns

I picked up #10 Smokey Burgess off eBay for the 102nd addition to my 1953 Topps project.  I'm now 37.23 % of the way there.  Burgess was a Phillie at the time, which meets my new goal of 1 new Phillie by the end of the year.  On the return side of the ledger, I talked myself in to picking up Carl Scheib's card from the 1949 Bowman set.  He signed it for free at his home in a little over a week. He was card #25, and is the 10th signed '49 Bowman I have.  Frank Lary signed his 1961 Topps card, #243 in about six months at his home in Alabama.  Lastly, Steve Mura signed his 1979 Topps rookie card, #725, in about a week c/o home.  He also included a signed custom card.  The front of the custom is his 1983 Topps card and the back is a logo commemorating the Cardinals 1982 World Championship.  I'm not sure if I'll complete the card; I haven't found a working address for Jim Beswick, and Broderick Perkins seems to be hit-or-miss, with very long wait times when he does sign.  If anyone has had success with either of those two, let me know!  I'd love to complete it.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Group Picture

Since I don't have any new acquisitions on the horizon for my 1953 Topps project, I figured now would be a good time to post a group picture of what I do have. 

That's all 101 of them.  I looked at the spreadsheet I've been using to keep track of this project, and thus far it's cost me $2209.09!  That's an average unit cost of $21.87, though it's dragged down by the cards I bought for a few dollars and got signed TTM.  Those have pretty much dried up by now, so that cost will rise as I get further and further in to this project.  It's been a labor of love though; I've had a lot of fun putting it together, and it's been a pleasure working with the other collectors who have helped me to plug holes in it.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Spring Update

With 4 days to go until the Spring Equinox, I figured now would be a good time for another update on my goals for the year.

  • Get to at least 100 signed 1953 Topps.  With my most recent purchase, I've exceeded this one.  I'm currently at 101 (36.86 %).  I'm going to shoot for 125 by the end of the year.
  • Add at least six new Hall of Famers to the set.  I've added three so far this year: Whitey Ford, Warren Spahn, and Dick Williams.  I don't count the Mathews because I ordered that one in 2014 and it just took a while to arrive.  I'm taking the advice of another collector and focusing on adding tough cards, so it looks like it might be a while before I make any more progress on this one.
  • Add at least two more Boston Braves.  In between the Spahn, the Johnny Logan and Ebba St. Claire purchases, I've exceeded this one.  The Philadelphia Phillies are another team who I don't have very many from, but there were only 9 Phillies in the set that year.  If I can pick up one additional Phillie, I'll be happy.
  • Get at least two more 1949 Bowmans signed.  I exceeded this goal pretty early in the year.  I am currently trying to talk my self into picking up Carl Scheib's card, but other than that I don't really have any plans to add to this set soon.  I'd like to pick up Dave Ferriss's card from this set as well, but his card is very pricey.  Apart from those two, there aren't really any signers left from the set who I don't already have.  Sam Mele signs for everybody but me; I've lost two '49 Bowmans and a 1966 Topps sending to him already, and I've decided to cut my losses.  Ralph Branca, Yogi Berra and Red Schoendienst are all still alive but haven't signed in years, and to my knowledge there isn't anyone else still alive and signing who I don't have.       

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Eddie Mathews and Dick Williams

The last two: #37 Eddie Mathews and #125 Dick Williams.
Last week I picked up a Dick Williams, and my Eddie Mathews  that I ordered in November finally got back from PSA.  Mathews and Hank Aaron hold the record for home runs hit by a pair of teammates, and he was the only man to play for the Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves.  He was also on the cover of the first issue of Sports Illustrated.  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1978.  Williams was featured prominently in The Boys of Summer, although he is more famous around here for leading the "Impossible Dream" 1967 Red Sox to the World Series.  After being fired from Boston, he lead the Oakland Athletics to two consecutive World Series.  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.

I'll post an update tomorrow on my 2015 goals.  I've taken a good sized chunk out of them recently, but I just got back from a wedding so I'm too tired to assess it now.


George Shuba and Ed O'Brien

Two more here: #34 George Shuba and #249 Ed O'Brien.
Shuba became somewhat famous for a photograph taken in 1946 of him shaking Jackie Robinson's hand as Robinson crossed home plate.  At the time the two were minor league teammates; they wound up spending seven years together with the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Shuba was the last living man to have been on the field when the Dodgers won the 1955 World Series.  O'Brien and his brother John (#223) were both bonus babies with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Neither amounted to much, although they did become the first set of twins to play in the same game in the majors.

Cal Abrams, Herman Wehmeier, Tommy Byrne, Johnny Logan

Four more from the auction: #98 Cal Abrams, #110 Herman Wehmeier, #123 Tommy Byrne, and #158 Johnny Logan.

Wehmeier is another tough one; he died at the age of 46 in 1973, two days before he was to take the stand in an embezzlement trial.  Byrne settled in Wake Forest, NC after his career was over and was elected to serve as its mayor for two terms.  He was the losing pitcher in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series.  Logan was a four-time All-Star and was the shortstop on the 1957 Milwaukee Braves.

Joe Dobson, Jim Hearn, Sherm Lollar, Ebba St. Claire,

I won several eBay auctions over the past few weeks as well.  There was a large collection of signed '53 Topps that was being broken up, and I picked up a few of them.
These four are #5 Joe Dobson, #38 Jim Hearn, #53 Sherm Lollar and #91 Ebba St. Claire.  Dobson was a member of the 1946 Boston Red Sox, and is featured prominently in The Summer of '49.  Hearn was a member of the 'Miracle at Coogan's Bluff' 1951 New York Giants.  Lollar started out as Yogi Berra's backup with the Yankees, but he wasn't getting enough playing time so they shipped him to Chicago, where he made several All-Star teams.  He is usually ranked as the second-best catcher of his era, behind Berra.  St. Claire had a son, Randy, who went on to pitch for the Montreal Expos, including the year they made the playoffs.  

Luke Easter, Dale Mitchell and Bob Porterfield Purchases

It's been along time since my last post.  I had exams all last week and this week and got really bogged down in those.  But I'm home for spring break now, and have a lot of catching up to do.

I picked up several 1953 Topps over the past few weeks.  These three, #2 Luke Easter, #26 Dale Mitchell and #108 Bob Porterfield all came from a fellow member on Net54baseball, who knew someone who had them and arranged the sale.  All three of these are very difficult to track down because the players died very young.

Luke Easter was one of Tim Russert's heroes growing up.  He was known for his mammoth home runs, nicknamed 'Easter Eggs'.  By the time this card came out, he was 38 and battling several injuries, but played for several more years with the Buffalo Bisons, where Russert saw him several times.  After his career was over, he became a pay steward for one of the steelworkers' unions in Cleveland, where he was murdered in an attempted robbery in 1979.  Mitchell was a two time All-Star for the Indians who made the final out in Don Larsen's World Series perfect game.  Porterfield came out of nowhere to win 22 games for the 1953 Washington Senators and throw two no-hitters that year.  He made the All-Star team the following season before fading away.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Tony Bartirome and John O'Brien Purchases, Gene Conley Return

I haven't posted in a while; I've been really busy with school, and when I've been home I haven't gotten around to scanning my stuff.  It hasn't helped that the past few weeks have been fairly quiet on the autograph front.  I won several eBay auctions over the past few days, but those items haven't arrived here yet.

What I do have are three more 1953 Topps to plug various holes in my set.  I won #71 Tony Bartirome and #223 Johnny O'Brien in auctions, and finally got Gene Conley to sign my card, which was #215 in the set.  He also wrote a very nice note on my letter of request.

Conley is the last living man who played for the Boston Braves and the Boston Red Sox, and also one of two men to have won championships in two major sports: the 1957 World Series, with the Milwaukee Braves, and then a few NBA championships with the Boston Celtics.  He charges a $5 fee for cards.  Bartirome and O'Brien were part of a youth movement that Branch Rickey tried while he was with the Pirates.  That rebuilding effort also included Dick Groat, Bob Friend and Roy Face. Those three went on to help Pittsburgh win the 1960 World Series, but Bartirome and O'Brien never panned out.  Bartirome's MLB career was actually over by the time this card was printed; the 1952 season was his only.  O'Brien hung around for a few years, but never became an everyday player. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Warren Spahn Purchase

Another eBay purchase arrived today for my 1953 Topps project: #147 Warren Spahn.  What makes this one even better is he's on a Boston Braves card.  Spahn is currently sixth on the all time wins list, and would probably be higher if he hadn't lost three years due to World War II.  I read somewhere that he was present when the Ludendorff Bridge collapsed towards the end of the war.  This one isn't slabbed, but it passed PSA's Quick Opinion service.
This brings me to 83/274 (30.29%) completion.  Also, it is the second of four Hall of Famers that I had wanted to add this year, and the first of two new  Boston Braves.

Neil Berry Return

Picked up another signed 1949 Bowman, this one is #180 Neil Berry.  For some reason, he is listed as Connie Berry on this card.  He signed it in about 2-3 weeks.  Berry was the Tiger's starting second baseman in 1949, but lost the job the following year to Jerry Priddy.  He bounced around the American League for a few years, spending time with St. Louis, Chicago and Baltimore, before retiring in 1954.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

January Update

With one month gone, I figured I'd post an update on my collecting goals for 2015.  They are:

  • Get to at least 100 signed 1953 Topps.  I'm at 82/100 right now, after starting the year with 68.  This goal is probably a bit modest.  I'll wind up updating it to a higher figure at some point; I just want to see how long it takes me to get to 100, and how expensive that is before I set the new goal.
  • Add at least four new Hall of Famers to the set.  The return I got from Whitey Ford was the first HOF'er I added this year, and I won a Warren Spahn on eBay a couple days ago that should arrive next week.  I think adding six new HOF'ers is an achievable goal.  It will require a bit of balancing with my first goal though; even a cheap HOF'er costs enough for a few scrubs, so working on this goal hinders my sheer numbers goal.
  • Add at least two new Red Sox to the set.  Already met this one, thanks to my purchases of #40 Johnny Lipon and #149 Dom DiMaggio.  There are a few on eBay that I may bring on board at some point in the not-too-distant future, but my new goal is to add two from the other Boston team, the old Boston Braves.  After the second series, the cards were corrected to reflect the move to Milwaukee, but there are plenty of Boston Braves to go around.  The Spahn is one, and I have an Eddie Mathews out at PSA right now that I ordered last year.  
  • Get at least two more 1949 Bowmans signed.  Exceeded this one.  I have three in so far, and a request out right now with a fourth.  I'd love to pick up #211 Dave Ferriss, but he was in the high numbers, so his cards are really expensive and I haven't yet seen one within my price range.

That's where everything stands right now.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Billy Loes, Paul LaPalme, Gene Hermanski and Johnny Klippstein Purchases

I filled four more holes in the 1953 Topps set today, with #46 Johnny Klippstein, #174 Billy Loes, #179 Gene Hermanski and #201 Paul LaPalme.  Hermanski was a member of the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers, and is featured somewhat prominently in the movie 42.  Loes was a member of the 1955 Dodgers, and became well known for saying that he didn't want to be a 20-game winner because "Then I'd be expected to do it every year".
These four bring me to 82/274 (29.92 %) of the way there.  I have a couple others in transit that I've ordered, and a few requests out that hopefully will trickle in sometime soon.  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Whitey Ford, Wally Westlake, Ed Fitz Gerald Returns, Connie Ryan Purchase

After I finished digging out from underneath the blizzard that was dumped on my area earlier this week, I had three returns and a purchase waiting for me.  For my 1953 Topps project, #207 Whitey Ford signed his card for his $40 cash fee.  The purchase was #102 Connie Ryan.  Ford is the first Hall of Fame'er that I've added to the set this year, and these two brought me to 78/274 (28.47 %) completion.  My 2015 goals included getting to 100/274, which I'm well on my way to, and adding four new HOF'ers, which I'm off to a good start on.  The other two returns were both from the 1949 Bowman set, #45 Wally Westlake and #109 Ed Fitz Gerald.  My 2015 goal for this set was to add two more, and combined with the Gil Coan I added a few days ago, I've brought in three so far, with another request outstanding.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Dom Dimaggio Purchase, Gil Coan and Bob Del Greco Returns

It's been a while since my last post.  I have two returns and a purchase that I'd been meaning to post but hadn't gotten around to because I've been away at school.  I swung by home today and finally scanned them in.  For my 1953 Topps project, I received #48 Bob Del Greco with his $5 fee, and purchased #149 Dom DiMaggio off eBay.  I don't usually buy unslabbed autographs off eBay, but this one passed PSA's Quick Opinion service, which was good enough for me.  The other return was a 1949 Bowman, #90 Gil Coan.  Mr. Coan was kind enough to sign and personalize my card, my letter and add his own signed card. 
The DiMaggio was the second Red Sox card I've added this year from the set, which meets my original goal.  I will see if I can add two more players from the other Boston team, the Braves, by year's end.  By my count, I'm now at 76/274 (27.74%) of my 1953 Topps project.  I have a few more on the way, including one that was supposed to arrive today, but was probably delayed because of the weather. We're in for a massive blizzard here--my area is supposed to get 2-3 feet of snow, and Boston could get up to 40 inches.  Driving back to campus today, I-95 was a parking lot.  I think the fastest I went was 35 MPH, and that was only for a little while.  Pretty soon it got so bad that I got off and took the back roads.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Pete Runnels

Today a purchase arrived that I'd forgotten about when I gave an update yesterday: #219 Pete Runnels.  The player on the card is actually his teammate Don Johnson; somehow the name got switched so the card was printed with Johnson's portrait.
This brings me to 74/274, or 27 % of the set.  The Matthews I'm waiting on will make it 75/274 (27.37 %).  Only 199 more to go!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Cloyd Boyer return, and a few purchases

Today I received another return, this one from #60 Cloyd Boyer.  I mailed it the day before Christmas, so it took about three weeks.  He is the older brother of former Cardinals third baseman Ken Boyer, and former Yankee Clete Boyer, both deceased.  I also had a few purchases arrive; #103 Joe Astroth, #152 Bob Adams and #153 Andy Seminick.
I currently have 73/274 of the 1953 Topps signed and on hand, with the 74th, #37 Eddie Mathews in the mail.  Once it arrives, it will bring me up to 27% of the set.  I started the year at 24.81%.  My 2015 goal is 36%, so I feel pretty confident that I'll get there.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Bill Bruton

One of the purchases that I had been waiting on arrived today: #214 Bill Bruton.
Bruton lead the National League in triples two times, in runs scored once, and in stolen bases three times.  He was a part of the 1957 World Series winning Milwaukee Braves.  He also led off a game with a home run twelve times.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Gene Conley

Received my first return of the year today, although this one gets an asterisk.  Gene Conley swapped out my 1953 Topps with a 1961 Topps, and inscribed 'Happy Birthday' on it.  Evidently someone else ordered this as a gift, and our cards got switched.  I'll probably send this one back to him, and hope that whoever got my card did the same.