Hoosiers on Cardboard, Part 2

Congratulations! You're about to read the second in a series on pro athletes who either were born in Indiana or spent their formative years here. Go here for the first installment about a pitcher who last week made his major league debut, hurling 5.2 shutout innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Don Larsen

Don Larsen was a journeyman pitcher.

I always had the notion that he was an ace - probably among the best of his era. As a kid breathing baseball facts, I didn't dig deep enough.

Of course, he pitched a gem of a ball game just about 55 years ago. It was Game 5 of the World Series, Oct. 8, 1956. Larsen's New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Larsen didn't allow a hit or a walk. It's the only time in World Series - wait, post-season history that a pitcher has accomplished this.
"Sometimes a week might go by when I don't think about that game, but I don't remember when it happened last."  - Don Larsen, who turned 82 on August. 7.  

Larsen was born in Michigan City, Ind., roughly 45 minutes from downtown Chicago. Michigan City is best known as a place for bargains on clothes and shoes courtesy of their swell outlet mall.

This is my only Don Larsen card, acquired this Spring at a card show for $4.
He finished playing the game with a career record of 81-91and a respectable ERA of 3.78. His best year came in 1956, when he posted an 11–5 record, a career best 107 strikeouts and a 3.26 ERA. 
Larsen started in the majors in April 1953 with the St. Louis Browns. I had assumed he pitched most of his years with the Yankees. Not so.

His career arch:
  • New York Yankees (1955-59)
  • Kansas City Athletics (1960-61)
  • Chicago White Sox (1961) 
  • San Francisco Giants (1962-64)
  • Houston Colt .45s/Astros (1964-65)
  • Baltimore Orioles (1965)
  • Chicago Cubs (1967) 
In New York, manager Casey Stengel used Larsen as a backup starter and occasional reliever. He went 45–24 with the Yankees, making 90 starts in 128 appearances.

Described as gangly righthander, Larsen was called "Gooney Bird" by his teammates.

And he had a reputation for partying. Stengel: "The only thing he fears is sleep."

When Larsen crashed his car into a light pole in the middle of the night during spring training, after curfew, Stengel said, "He must have gone out to mail a letter."

Here's what he did after his history-making game, according to his words in a New York magazine piece earlier this year:

"The first stop was a place called Fifeto Squeri's, it was on 50th and Second Avenue; it was a little Italian place that I frequented. I knew the family. We had Champagne. It was a ball.

"Then, we went to a place called McAvoy's. I stopped in there with a bunch of my friends. We were just goofing around, having fun. That was on Lexington Avenue, downtown, or maybe just in town. You never know. New York's a big place.

And then we went to the Latin Quarter, I was with [sportswriter] Arthur Richman. Joe E. Lewis was performing - the comedian. We were there until late. I had to be on Dave Garroway's show the next morning. Early. Like six o'clock."
Don Larsen: A native Hoosier, journeyman pitcher and baseball legend.


My Lineage Obsession

Editor's Note (9/28): My Lineage needs/wants have drastically changed and I expect to update them in the next day or two. Thanks!

(This post includes a) Lineage for trade; b) news about the quest for my first set; c) a hearty thank you; d) a new auto; e) there is no "e".

My pursuit of the '75 minis from the Lineage Experience will end at one. With everyone, everywhere choosing to collect these cards, I cry "Uncle!".

Eventually - perhaps a very long time from now - I may snag four or five from my player collections. That's all I really wanted anyway.

But as for the rest of Lineage, I'm still on the hunt for the retired fellas and other favorites from the checklist. See below for what I have available to trade and what I'm seeking.

But first, I want to thank the Jeff Laws of My Sports Obsession for shipping me a few Lineage legends, several much-needed cards for my '76 quest and more.

Jeff and I - after several deals - are now at a point where we're just sending mailers back and forth every so often. I have these unspoken arrangements with a handful of bloggers, it seems, and they work great and generally are much less fuss.

This go-round, he sent me several old-timers from the Lineage set. I won't post all of the goodies, but I scanned a few.
I think this is a nice-looking card and Morgan is near the front of the players I collect.

Jeff also sent along the below gem - an auto that I noticed he posted several weeks ago. (Sorry about the neck strain.)
Not a huge name but a great addition for me - a lifelong Reds fan.

And Jeff added this legend - my very first cloth card.
Mr. Laws (who by the way lives no more than a couple of hours north of me in Indiana) didn't stop with Lineage. He took the time to look over my 1976 needs and sent me a couple of cards I needed and a couple of others cards where I needed upgrades.

Here are some of them.

So, I'm now dangerously close to completing '76, the first set that I personally have labored to put together. This set means a lot to me, as I wrote about a few months ago.

I have 15 cards to go (and another 30 for which I'm seeking upgrades)! Here's my 1976 list for those who might have and/or need some.

But back to Lineage. I have needs and wants and perhaps you do too!

Here's what I have for trade:

3 Jimmie Foxx
10 Jim Palmer
20 Justin Morneau
32 Jon Lester
35 Hanley Ramirez
41 Vladimir Guerrero
41 Vladimir Guerrero (refractory-thing)
51 Hunter Pence
55 Nolan Ryan
56 Shane Victorino
59 Duke Snider
65 Josh Johnson
67 Nelson Cruz
72 Rickie Weeks
85 Al Kaline
100 Babe Ruth
101 Madison Bumgarner
110 Thurman Munson
118 Todd Helton
126 Shin-Soo Choo
132 Nick Markakis
133 Zack Greinke
145 Adrian Gonzalez
149 Kevin Youkilis
152 David DeJesus
153 B.J. Upton
173 Adam Dunn
189 Jaime Garcia (refractory-thing)
192 Willie McCovey

Here's what I need:

2 Derek Jeter
5 Felix Hernandez 
13 Cal Ripken Jr.
19 Larry Walker
21 Edinson Volquez 
40 Stan Musial
47 Lance Berkman
48 Carlton Fisk
52 Andre Dawson
53 Mike Schmidt
57 Willie McCovey
60 Reggie Jackson
64 Joe Morgan
76 Roberto Alomar
90 Tris Speaker
98 Evan Longoria
99 Honus Wagner
103 Joey Votto
106 Cy Young
108 Hank Aaron
112 Johnny Cueto
120 Ichiro
121 Roy Halladay
137 Johnny Bench
141 Ozzie Smith
143 Miguel Cabrera
146 Freddie Freeman RC
148 Aroldis Chapman
154 Fergie Jenkins
156 Austin Jackson
158 Monte Irvin
159 Yonder Alonso
170 Tom Seaver
171 Ryne Sandberg
178 Albert Pujols 
181 Frank Thomas
182 Frank Robinson
186 Mel Ott
187 Justin Verlander
190 Bert Blyleven
195 Chipper Jones All-RC
196 Ichiro All-RC
197 Andre Dawson All-RC
200 Tom Seaver All-RC



Kimball Champions: The Homestretch

The idea of a miniature baseball card, I must admit, never much appealed to me in my collecting youth. But after my return to the hobby earlier this year, Kimball Champions soon arrived and everything changed.

I found my mini-set to collect.

While I know some have complained that the card stock is not thick enough, it works fine for me. Mostly, I'm drawn to the art - both the close-up and the action down low.

I'm closing in on finishing the first 100 - although I realize another 50 are coming soon with Topps Update. No matter, I'll chase those too.

Recently, Justin of The Hopeful Chase sent me three to bring my total to 93. Here's one of my unfinished binder pages. Wouldn't you love to be the person who helps make this and a couple of other pages complete? I don't really care, pal. Not my problem.

 If you answered "yes, I'd love nothing more than to help you" like I'm guessing, here's what I still need:

39, 59, 62, 70, 80, 95, 96

Oh, and while I'm here, may I direct you to the front page of this blog where I have a bundle of available cards and needs grouped (generally) for easy perusing.

(Next Post: Topps Chrome Finds My Home)


Where Were You?

If anyone is interested in sharing, I thought it might be nice to find out where people were this morning, 10 years ago. It's odd - in a way - that it takes a tragedy of this sort for people to have a common bond - but there are few such dates/moments where everyone is able to share like this.

I was living in the Roscoe Village neighborhood of Chicago. I was at home, going into work late that day - about ready to change and walk over to the El for the daily ride downtown to my office across the street from the then-Sears Tower.

My mom called and told me to turn on the TV.

I watched a little bit but still headed over to the El. Everyone was silent, kind of looking at each other (usually people generally don't look at each other). I got off at the Quincy stop in the Loop, walked a block and saw most everyone starting up at the top of the Sears Tower. The word was out that a plane was "missing" and supposedly headed toward Chicago. (This proved later, thankfully, to not be the case.)

Cell phones were jammed at this time. I walked a block farther to keep a block away from the Sears Tower (a presumed target) and then went into my building - the entrance of which is probably 200 feet from the Sears Tower (so averting it made little sense). My co-workers were heading out - being told they were welcome to go home. I checked in with my boss - the only one in the office planning to stay - and went ahead and headed home.

As it turns out, five people from our NYC office - our HQ is a couple of blocks away from Ground Zero - were killed that day (one was on a plane, three happened to be in meetings at the WTC and another presumably killed by debris). I didn't personally know any of them. 


What Are They Worth?

So, I periodically check around for "baseball cards" on Craigslist. Not much comes up but a couple of sets did pop up this week that got my interest and the seller mostly seems to know what he's advertising.

1. A 1977 Topps Baseball Complete Set (hand collated)
 - billed as "featuring Dale Murphy, Bruce Sutter + Andre Dawson's rookie"

2. A 1986 Fleer Update Baseball Set
- billed as "Barry Bonds Rookie card!!! Will Clark, Jose Canseco, John Kruk and Ruben Sierra Rookie cards."

3. A 1981 Kellogg's 3-D Baseball Super Stars set. "This is a classic set. Has tons of HOF players: Jackson, Palmer, Foster, Ryan, Schmidt, Brett, Rice, Murray, Perez, Winfield, Carew, Henderson, Morgan, Carlton, Molitor, Yastrzemski, Yount, Rose and more. You don't see sets like these too often!"

Hmmm, well, OK. My question to the more knowledgeable collector out there is what would you pay for such sets assuming they are as advertised (and in excellent condition).

(Yes, I know I could do the research myself but what fun is that?)


The Dirt On Wrigley

Late last month I posted a bit about a great return trade package sent by reader Ryan LaMonica - a frequent and awesome trade friend.

Among the included fun: an Aramis Ramirez jersey relic with a much-desired (for me, at least) stripe.

Here's the thing I somehow glossed over while admiring the card. Look closely at the bottom of the swatch. Do you see it? Strain your eyes more than, you're not that old!

Whatever, it's quite visible in hand.
Dirt! A smudge of dirt!

Now, I noticed the dirt before of course but somehow it didn't dawn on me that this is possibly Wrigley Field* dirt. Ryan wrote me yesterday and suggested it may very well be.

What do you think?

Very cool, if so. I just don't know. Do they truly not wash these unis before slicing and dicing?

* Speaking of Wrigley Field, my wife got tickets for us to enjoy a free evening at the game versus my Reds last night. This is an annual night, typically at White Sox park, bestowed to her and many others by the hospital where she once spent far too much time. Unfortunately, we weren't able to make it due to work and family commitments. Waaaaaah!


Meet The Mets (or your team of choice)

In recent months, I've had great success clearing out the teams-I-don't-collect-box after posting two junk sale notices. I think most recipients have been happy and some have said what they received was far from junk. (Now, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course, and the quality of cards sent has varied greatly by team).

There are many, many teams that haven't been requested and most of them include anywhere from 40 to 80 cards. Yes, many of these include a healthy portion of late 80s/early 90s stuff but you just might be able to fill in a few collecting gaps.

I mentioned the Mets in the headline as the team is among those I have a heaping stack of cards waiting to be shipped away. In return for any of the stacks, I'm not seeking much of anything really. If you can find a couple of cards from my wants posted on the front of my blog (or in the last couple of posts) then that would be swell.

Or, I'd be happy to take on your excess Reds, Tigers, Cubs, (2000-2005 White Sox),  '80s-ish Pirates or Brewers, what not.

If anyone is interested in a stack, send me an e-mail asking if your team is available (or how many cards are available) or leave a comment. I know I'm very thin on the Blue Jays, Yankees, Dodgers, Phillies, Braves, the expansion teams and maybe another one or two I'm forgetting. Those stacks would be much smaller.


Sticker(s) Up (For Trade)

All right, I'll fess up. I've encouraged a few card bloggers who picked up packs of the oh-so-childish 2011 stickers to go right ahead and stick 'em in their books.

Easy for me to say; not so easy for me to do.

I amassed a decent collection of stickers in the waning years of my initial baseball card collecting phase. I didn't stick any of them. Not one. I felt it would ruin them. Here's a glimpse at my collection. There are many more if you're looking for them. Football stickers too!

Thinking about these old stickers gave me the urge to look for the new version Friday at Target. I bought three packs. Yeah, I just turned 43.

Here's what I have to trade - if you need them. I have a couple from the teams I collect but would be happy to get a few more (or anything from my want lists) - or feel free to suggest deals for your dupes should you see one here that you need.

Happy Laboring. Oh, and if you're looking for Bowman Platinum, may I direct you to yesterday's post.


The Bowman Platinum Exchange

I dabbled a bit with Bowman Platinum this year before deciding it would just be too pricey for me to chase with abandon. My wish now is to deal away a good portion of what I own - ideally for BP Reds, Tigers and Cubs of various base and parallels.

I own a handful of these already so jot me a note if you would like something below and have Reds, Tigers and Cubs and I'll let you know if I need what you have. Of course, other key items on my want list would gladly be accepted - such as the Heritage short prints. Just sayin'.

I like most of the color parallels, particularly the green.
But the red parallel I pulled of the player below also looks very sharp - much better in hand than this scan shows. For some reason, while it's quite red the scan skews purple.
Without further adieu, here is a long look at some available cards.

Happy Labor Day Weekend.


My (All-New) LCS / Meet The Parkers

Months ago, before the move to Indiana, I documented my Local Card Shop experience at a joint in suburban Chicago called Matt's something or other. "Matt's Cards?" "Matt's Sports Cards?" Beats me. All I know is the terse fella who owned the place wasn't named Matt.

The gist of the experience: uncomfortable. * stretches collar a la Rodney Dangerfield *

So, once in Indiana, I wasted no time heading to an LCS in a nearby small town. My first visit was just swell. The gentleman behind the counter is apparently the co-owner and a font of information about cards. We chatted for a solid 45 minutes about card shows, the types of cards they carry and nefarious dealers. It was, well, nice.

The shop mostly carries boxes of newer product as well as a fleet of relic cards and autos and Jarrod Parker cards galore. If you missed my previous post, it explains this shop's Jarrod Parker fixation. Sidebar: If you missed my previous post ... Where were you!? Are you not following me!? How dare you good sirs (and two ladies)!

Anyway, this new-to-me LCS is a small shop and, sadly, has no dime or quarter boxes. But, I'll surely stop in now and then to talk cardboard and baseball, snag a relic and perhaps even buy a hobby box.

I'm not a big relic collector - at least not high on the one-color whites and grays - but I do love the striped jersey or the one-colored swatch that screams a certain team. That's what I took home from my first visit.

To wit:
Not related to the aforementioned Jarrod Parker.
I really love this relic - the large cut of cloth, the unmistakable Pirates' color, how it pops against the black and white.

To cap it off, Dave "The Cobra" Parker was one of my favorite players growing up, long before playing for my beloved Reds. The "We Are Family" 1979 Pirates left a big impression with me at age 11. In fact, I've been a closeted fan of the Pirates ever since. I should rank my favorite teams, being the list maker that I am. I believe they'd rank #5 or #6.

Parker, a two-time batting champ, not only has a World Series ring, but was the 1978 NL MVP and the 1978 All-Star Game MVP. I won't mention his usage of cocaine (which he confirmed in testimony against a drug dealer). But you just did mention it! Oops.

A seven-time All Star and three-time Gold Glove winner, he finished his career thusly: .290 batting average, 2,712 hits, 339 home runs and 1, 493 RBIs. But Parker never received more than 24% of votes on Hall of Fame ballots and his 15-year Baseball Writers Association of America eligibility expired on the 2011 ballot.

Parker, now 60, owns several Popeye's Chicken franchises in Cincinnati and has two fake knees. But in his day, at 6'5" and at a playing weight of 230 to 240, he was an intimidating physical presence.

He's also the only known baseball player to wear a hockey goalie mask to the plate, which he did while pinch-hitting in his first game back from a fractured jaw and cheekbone.

Dave Parker, without question, a man to be reckoned with.


Hoosiers on Cardboard, Part 1

Congratulations! You're reading the first installment of a series on pro athletes who either were born in Indiana or spent their formative years here. Happy reading!

Jarrod Parker

Two months ago, about a week after moving back to Indiana after 25 years in West Texas, Ohio and Chicago, I paid a visit to a nearby small town to check out a baseball card shop I read about online. I haven't written about this experience yet but will one of these days. Suffice to say it was much improved from this experience.

A nice gent greeted me as I walked in. He sat behind a three-sided counter jammed with Jarrod Parker cards, surely every one produced to this point. I used my keen brain and deduced he must be a local.

And sure enough, Parker grew up just down the road - about 12 miles from my hometown - in a sneeze of a town called Ossian, Ind., population: a shade under 3,000. 

I wasn't surprised to learn a big leaguer is from these parts. I was more surprised that I hadn't heard about it before. I guess 25 years away has a way of making you lose touch.
An image borrowed from checkoutmycards.com. I need to check out their cards (and begin my Parker collection.)
Parker, just 22, is a top prospect - by some accounts the top prospect - for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
A righthander, his main pitch is a fastball that reaches 96 mph. According to Baseball America, before this season he was the #33 MLB prospect. He's hovered around that number every pre-season since being drafted straight out of Norwell High in Ossian - 9th overall in the 2007 MLB draft.

Now, I'm no scout but I am a roughly 20-time fantasy baseball league champion so clearly I'm a baseball genius, yet I somehow still have no idea whether Parker will bust out or break out. Who does, really, when it comes to prospects. Considering he missed all of 2010 after Tommy John surgery in October 2009, his future success - much like any pitching prospect, I guess - is far from guaranteed.

This season, he pitched pretty well in AA but didn't exactly light the league on fire. I imagine he's still another year away from the majors.

But I'm rooting for him. 

Whatever happens with his career, Parker is a natural for me to collect. Beyond our regional link, I had been thinking some about adding two or three prospects a year to my PCs. I'm not really much for prospecting - but a bit of it here and there is kind of fun. I guess I'd better get back to that shop since I didn't buy any Parkers that day.

Well, I did buy one Parker - but I'll write about that in the coming days.

So there you have it, the first in a series on Indiana-ish baseball players. The first of any series on the Indianaland blog. History has been made.

Search Me *shrugs*