Monday, May 31, 2010

Nitty Gritty Old vs New

I love baseball history! If you are reading this blog, you probably do, too. Like most kids I was initially drawn to the home run king Hank Aaron. I wanted to read everything I could about Hammerin’ Hank and from there I learned about Eddie Mathews and then Spahn and Sain and pray for rain. As I got older I became friends with Johnny Sain and he filled me in on A LOT about the Braves teams of the 40s. Johnny Sain went to the World Series with the Boston Braves in 1948, but was on the losing end against the Indians. He won three rings as a pitcher, but those came with the Yankees. In 1957 when the Braves won it all it was a three man rotation of Spahn, Lew Burdette and Bob Buhl. The first picture I ever saw of Buhl was on his 1961 Topps card which is incidentally one of the Nitty Gritty Card(s) of the Day today. After seeing this card I instantly gave this great pitcher a nickname, Bug Eyed Buhl. This edition of Nitty Gritty Old Vs. New is card #145 from 1961 Topps of Bug Eyed Bob Buhl going up against card #145 of Jair Jurrjens from 2010 Topps Heritage. Old Bug Eye was an 18 game winner for the ’57 Braves. Along with Spahn and Burdette he anchored the starting rotation that led them to the NL Pennant. When the World Series came, his luck had run out. He started two games, but lasted just 3 innings, serving up a couple of homers. Of course the Braves won it all despite Buhl, but he got a ring just the same. Buhl was most dominant as a member of the Braves, but his career lasted 15 years. He was 166-132 with 1268 strikeouts and a 3.55 ERA and a very unfortunate photo on his ’61 Topps card. His best years came with the Braves, but Phillies fans remember him in infamy. At the start of the 1966 season the Cubs sent Buhl and Larry Jackson to the Phillies for three young players including a pitcher named Fergie Jenkins. He won 6 games for Philadelphia and retired the next year. Of course Jenkins went on to a little bit more successful… The modern counterpart of Buhl’s card is of current Braves starter Jair Jurrjens. So far this year Jair ain’t doing too well. He is 0-3 with a 6.38 ERA in 5 starts. Jair wins this battle in having a more flattering photo, but as always vintage wins the war. Bug Eyed Buhl 1, downhill sliding Jair 0. I love this hobby! 49 years LATER!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Nitty Gritty Card of the Day

Last week my friend and fellow blogger Wicked Ortega put out a call to arms looking for cards of former Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Rennie Stennett. I have long been a fan of the 7-hitman and I went into my personal stash of Pirates cards from the 70s to send him some. I took a couple of scans before shipping and here is your Nitty Gritty Card of the Day. From 1972 Topps, card #219 of Rennie Stennett. This card rocks for several reasons. It is Stennett’s rookie card and the young infielder from Panama hit .353 in 51 games for the Bucs in 1971. He wasn’t a part of the postseason roster, but of course Pittsburgh went on to win the World Series that year. Stennet remained with the Bucs for 9 seasons and was a part of the We Are Family team that won it all in 1979. You can read his complete Wicked-Bio here so I won’t rehash all that. What I really love about this card is that it shows Stennett in Pirate City at the practice fields that are just a few miles from my home. This has long been the spring home of the Pirates and so many players got their first taste of the pros right there. Stennett first arrived at Pirate City in 1969 as an 18 year old. From there he went on to play for two teams that would win it all and set a modern day record that may never be broken. It all started in my hometown. I love this game, I love this hobby!!! 38 years LATER!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Nitty Gritty Card of the Day

So I have spent the better part of the day sorting, sorting and organizing the mess that I call a card collection. I stop every now and then to scan and read the other blogs. This morning I was checking out Play at the Plate where he has up another edition of Cards From the Old Man. Today’s feature is a sweet 1962 Topps card of the greatest left-handed pitcher of All Time Warren Spahn. My competitive nature took over and I felt like I HAD to post a ’62 Topps card myself. Unfortunately I really don’t have many, certainly not anything that would rival Warren Spahn. That said, the Nitty Gritty Card of the Day is from ’62 Topps, card #498 of Angels pitcher Jim Donohue. Warren Spahn won 363 games and pitched a couple of no-hitters, but this card confirms that Jim Donohue also pitched a no-hitter. His however came in college and not in the majors like Spahn’s. Donohue’s career was far less storied than Spahn’s. It lasted just 2 seasons for 3 different teams. Over that time he was 6-8 with a 4.29 ERA in 70 big league games. I love this hobby! 48 years LATER!

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Nitty Gritty Card of the Day

Today's Nitty Gritty Card of the Day is card #4 from 1965 Topps showing the National League's homerun leaders. Willie Mays blasted 47 to pace the league, but seems to be taking a nap in the photo. Running the bases can be exhausting. I love this game, I love this hobby!

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Nitty Gritty Card of the Day OR Why Hate Joe Morgan?

Today’s Nitty Gritty Card of the Day comes from 1965 Topps, card #16 of Houston Colt 45s rookie shortstop Sonny Jackson. Initially there was another player on this card, but I have the custom version which just shows Sonny Jackson. I am really drawn to “custom” cards of yesteryear. Mainly I want to know what inspired collectors back then to customize. Did this person just really not like Joe Morgan? Maybe he or she really liked Sonny Jackson and felt he should be solo on the card. I don’t think this is a Traded or update card because Jackson was traded to the Braves long before Morgan was traded to the Reds. Maybe the card owner was a big fan of Morgan and a friend or older sibling did this to the card to get back at them for something. Perhaps this person treasured this card for years and then vandalized it because they dislike Morgan as a sportscaster… Who knows, that is what makes this card fun and interesting to me. The story is most likely that a kid did it out of boredom, outgrew the cards and gave it to someone who passed it along to someone who eventually sold it to someone who sold it to me… I would guess that this cards original owner is in their 50s. I wonder if they remember doing it. I wonder if they followed baseball. I can almost this person using this card as dinner party conversation. “When I was a kid I had Joe Morgan’s rookie card and I blacked his face out with marker. It must be worth a fortune now. If only I still had it and hadn’t marred it”. I can totally imagine it. Either way, it is one of my favorite cards now, I love it! I have never done this to a card myself, but I imagine that it takes balls to do it. I wanted to try and see what kind of a rush I got. I dug around and found this rookie card of one of Morgan’s teammates on the Big Red Machine. I flipped it over and went to town with a black sharpie… Wow, that was a rush. Well, it would have been if I took the card out its top loader but I didn’t because I am not an idiot… Maybe I will try this experiment with a different card down the road. Back to Sonny Jackson. I keep on adding the middle name Man to his name when I think of it in my head, I don’t know why. Anyway, Jackson’s career got off to a quicker start than Joe Morgan’s did. In 1966 Jackson finished second in the Rookie of the Year vote. That was the year that Tommie’s swept the Award. Jackson batted .292 with 49 steals as the 45s shortstop. Morgan batted .285 that year with 11 steals, but made the All Star team. All things considered this card tells a story. Since I don’t know it, I guess I get to make it up. That is fun for me. Plus its pretty neat to have a blacked out rookie card of a Hall of Famer… I love this hobby! 45 years LATER

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Nitty Gritty Card of the Day-1963 Topps Traded

Today’s Nitty Gritty Card of the Day comes from 1963 Topps, card #368 of All Star catcher Lonas Edgar Bailey, commonly known as Ed Bailey. I received this card in the mail from my good friend and fellow blogger Adam E of the Thoughts and Sox blog. The cards came in a GIANT box filled with paddle mailers and great cards. He had posted this card as trade bait a few months ago and I HAD to have it. There is something about vintage cards with writing on them that draws me in. This card was updated by its former owner after the Braves and Giants made a BIG trade following the 1963 season. The Giants sent Bailey and Felipe Alou, Ernie Bowman and Billy Hoeft to the Milwaukee Braves in exchange for Del Crandell, Bob Hendley and Bob Shaw. Bailey and Crandell were both catchers at the end of their careers, but the impact players were Alou who would lead the NL in hits twice as a Brave and Bob Shaw who would win 16 games for the Giants in ’65. Ed Bailey only played in 95 games for the Braves in ’64, a year removed from a 21 homer year with the Giants in ’63. Bailey only spent a single season in Milwaukee before making another brief stop in San Francisco and then in Chicago with the Cubs. He was signed by the California Angels in ’66 but was released after just a few pinch hitting at-bats thus ending his Nitty Gritty 14 year career. I was drawn to the card because of the writing on it. It fascinates me when people (kids presumably) write on cards. In this case it was an update to his new team, but the card’s owner failed to continue the updates as he was traded several more times in the next two years. The front of the card has some serious wear to it, like it was out a lot. The corners are decent and so is the back. I would think the owner really liked Ed Bailey and viewed this one often. I didn’t know too much about Bailey, but after getting this card I did my research and affirmed that Bailey was both Nitty and Gritty in the life and on the diamond. He spent more time in the military than he did in the minors and was a big leaguer the year he was released (as a September call-up) and never went back down over the next 13 seasons. He was 5 times an All Star and started behind the plate for the National League 3 times, the last time in ’63. In 1959 he and his brother, pitcher Jim Bailey, were battery mates with the Reds. That would be Jim Bailey’s lone trip to the show; he was 0-1 in 11 innings. Ed Bailey led the ’62 Giants to the World Series, but fell to New York. Ed Bailey was horrible at the plate, going just 1-14, but his lone hit was a 2-run homer. He was a platoon player most often, but he reached double figures in homers in 8 out of 14 seasons and topped 20 homers three times, the most coming in 1956 when he hit 28. As an All Star he batted .250 with 2 walks and an RBI. He was a power hitter first, but also a great arm behind the plate. Even as a part time player he led NL catchers in base runners thrown out once (in ’56) and placed in the top-5 six times. In 1957 he led NL backstops in base runners thrown out percentage and placed in the top-5 in that department 4 times. Over his career he threw out 191 would-be thieves for a 39% rating. The back of the card tells us he hit 3 homers in one game in ’56. He added an 8 RBI game in ’65. He was behind the plate for many of Juan Marichal’s wins including his no-hitter in June of ’63. He made two unassisted double plays and hit 8 pinch hit homeruns including 2 grand slams. Baseball reference shows his 162 game averages as .256 with 21 homers and 72 RBI. Those are pretty great numbers from a catcher with an arm who knows how to call a game and field his position. Even though it’s posed, I like the pic on the front and the “catchers finding Jesus” pose in the circle adds to the cards Nitty Gritty look. Thanks so much for all the great cards Adam E! Thanks also for inspiring me to learn about this soldier, ball player and City Councilman. If anyone else has any CUSTOM Topps Traded cards, I want ‘em! I love this game, I love its history, and I REALLY love this hobby! 47 years LATER.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Nitty Gritty Old vs New-or the Clairvoyance of Topps

Welcome to the Nitty Gritty Old vs. New. Today’s pairing is card # 291 from 1960 Topps of Bob Keegan going head to head against #291 from 2009 Topps Heritage of Ubaldo Jimenez. Last year this card pairing didn’t make so much sense to me. Bob Keegan of the 1960 St. Louis Cardinals and Ubaldo Jimenez of the 2009 Colorado Rockies. Both are right handed pitchers for National League teams, but that was about it. Actually it didn’t even go that far. Keegan spent two seasons playing for the Rochester Red Wings (AAA) at the tail end of his career. They were the Cards AAA affiliate but he never threw a pitch for the Cardinals. There are more differences between the two. Keegan was an All Star in 1954 when he went 16-9 for the White Sox.
Jimenez had never been to an All Star game. Bob Keegan was most famous for his no-hitter against the Washington Senators in 1957. Last year Jimenez was most known for helping the Rockies to the World Series in 2007. Keegan never made it to the Series. Bob Keegan spent time in the Army Air Corps before hitting the big leagues. He was a rookie at 32. Jimenez began playing pro ball as a teenager and made his MLB debut at 22.
The pairing seemed odder at the end of last season when Jimenez struck out as many batters in 2009 as Keegan did in his entire career.
Now it makes more sense. The folks at Topps are clairvoyant. With his 7 wins Jimenez leads the National League and will probably start this year’s All Star game, so they have something else in common. Earlier this season Jimenez no-hit the Atlanta Braves to give them another thing in common. It all makes sense now. These righties have completely parallel careers. I don’t know how Topps knew that it would turn out this way, but it has. At just 26 years old, I think Jimenez is just getting warmed up. 1960 was Keegan’s final year in pro baseball. He was 38 and he spent the year in the minors. I think that Jimenez will outgrow the connection, but for now it makes perfect sense. Vintage always wins in this game, but I think that Jimenez will win out historically. His star is definitely shining bright right now, but you never know where the next pitch will end up. I love this game, I love its history. I really love this hobby! Thanks for reading! LATER.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Nitty Gritty Card(s) of the Day-1968 Topps Edition

Today’s Nitty Gritty Card of the Day comes from 1968 Topps, card #6 of the American League’s Home Run Leaders from 1967. I have been going through and digging up all of the ’68 cards I have left to make a trade package for a fellow blogger and I figured that I would post a few of them before they relocate… 1968 isn’t my favorite set of the 60’s, but it grew on me for a while and I even collected it a bit. I had a full page of the League Leaders cards and even though I am not a fan of Carl Yastrzemski, I still appreciate the amazing year he had in 1967 and looking at the League Leaders cards and seeing his face first in the row on so many of them reminded me how great a player he was. Yaz paced the American League in homers with 44 that year. Of course his 121 runs batted in led the league as well as his .326 batting average. Yep, ’67 was the year that Yaz won the Triple Crown. He also led the AL in slugging percentage, OPS, on base percentage, total bases and runs scored. He was dialed in! He started the All Star game in left field and won his 3rd (of 7) Gold Glove Award. He had 13 assists from left field and only committed 7 errors while patrolling the grass in front of the Green Monster. Not only did Yaz start the 1967 All Star game, he played the entire 15 inning game that year. In 6 plate appearances he was 3-4 (.750) with a double and two walks. Tom Seaver walked Yaz in the bottom of the 15th before retiring Bill Freehan and Ken Berry to end the game. Had the AL won, Yaz might have added All Star MVP to his list of Awards in ’67. The AL lost 2-1 in 15 innings and Yaz had to settle for AL MVP, Triple Crown, Gold Glove, MLB Player of the Year and the Hutch Award. He would get his AS MVP trophy a few years later. Oh, his team did pretty well that year, too. Yaz led the Red Sox to the 1967 American League Pennant. Their first since they lost to the Cardinals in 1946. 21 years later it was the Cardinals who beat the Red Sox in the World Series again. Yaz batted .400 with 3 homers and the Series went 7 games, but Bob Gibson and the Cards overmatched the Sox even with Yaz’s hot bat. The other two players on this card had pretty decent years as well. Harmon Killebrew started the All Star game at first base and tied Yaz for the homerun crown. Killer finished second to Yaz in runs batted in, runs scored and total bases. He also finished second in the MVP vote. He would earn his MVP honors in 1969 when he led the AL in homers and RBI. The third man on this card is Frank “Hondo” Howard. The Capital Punisher of the Washington Senators. He hit 36 blasts for the 6th place Sens, but was left off of the 1967 All Star team. He started the game the following year and also began a streak of 3 consecutive seasons with 40 plus homers. He would lead the AL in that category in 1968 and ’70. I said at the top of the post that the Card of the Day was #6, but I also mentioned that I was sending these cards away so I am going to go all out and throw in a bonus for you my dear readers… Card #369 of Yaz as a Sporting News All Star. Like I said, 1967 was HIS year. I am also including a bonus scan of the other All Star cards I have. Frank Robinson, Joel Horlen and Yaz from the AL side and Bob Gibson and Gene Alley from the NL. Each leagues All Stars fit together to form a puzzle picture. I only have 5 cards so I get a Frankenstein image… Hats off to Yaz for one of the best seasons of any player, ever! He did it in the year of the pitcher, too, which makes it even more impressive. Look at the back of the card-Don Mincher's 25 homers put him in 5th place that year... Yaz's All Star teammate, Frank Robinson knows the feeling of having one of the best complete seasons in history… The Judge earned the Triple Crown in ’66, but he took it one step further. He added a World’s Championship and picked up WS MVP along the way. I love this game, I love it’s history and I love this hobby! 42 years LATER!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Nitty Gritty Card(s) of the Day-The Faces that Catchers Make

Today's Nitty Gritty Cards of the Day come from the 1978 O-Pee-Chee set and feature two of the greatest catchers of their era and all time as well. Both were 6'2", around 210 pound right handed sluggers and both represented their respective Leagues as All Stars eleven times. The cards are #210 of Gary Carter and #135 of Carlton Fisk. I am not trying to compete with Oh Mon O-Pee-Chee by any means, but as I was thumbing through my OPC cards from the 70's and these two stuck out. There are so many parallels between these two amazing Hall of Fame backstops, but the goofy "O" face they're both showing on their '78 cards is what stands out to me today... For more on the wonders of O-Pee-Chee cards, check out this awesome site... I love this hobby! 32 years LATER!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Nitty Gritty Old vs New

Today's installment of old vs new focuses on card #180 from 1960 Topps and 2009 Topps Heritage. The player's in question are current Pirates outfielder Ryan Church and former All Star Harry "Suitcase" Simpson. The connection between these two players isn't that solid. Although both players are left-handed hitting outfielders and both have played in many different cities. Simpson played for 5 different teams in his 8 year MLB career. Pittsburgh is Church's 4th team in 7 years. Perhaps that is the connection Topps was going for. I love this hobby! I love this game. LATER.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Nitty Gritty Card of the Day!

Today's Nitty Gritty Card of the Day comes from 1965 Topps. It is card # 69 of the 1955 Rookie of the Year Bill Virdon. Virdon is one of the great career baseball guys out there. I have met him many times around Pirate City where he still coaches the young outfielders in the organization. Virdon spent 11 years as a player with the Bucs and led the NL in triples and won a Gold Glove in centerfield with them in 1962, in 1960 he was a part of the World Championship team. 1965 was his final full year as a player. He came back to the Bucs as a coach and manager and also managed the Yankees, Astros and Expos. He was named the Manager of the Year twice and also won 2 divisional titles as a skipper. I love this game, I love this hobby! 45 years LATER!