flat screenings: diminished capacity (2008)

February 1, 2011 by

Can you think of a better way to celebrate Ernie Banks’ 80th birthday than to watch a quirky indie film that features him playing himself signing autographs at a baseball card show in the Windy City? Well sure, probably… but that’s what I did Monday night, so I’m going to blog about it.

Clearly Mr. Cub’s highest profile role since he played a judge in the 2003 film “Malibooty,” Diminished Capacity also stars Alan Alda as the colorful owner of a baseball card that MAY prove more meaningful to him than the cold hard cash it could be exchanged for. Matthew Broderick plays Alda’s nephew with fewer tricks up his sleeve than Inspector Gadget. – ROAD TRIP!!!!



Diminished Capacity was a book
some 10+ years before it became a movie, so you may have read it. I haven’t. Instead, I will wait for the graphic novel to be released.

Overall, I found the movie entertaining, and not just because of all the baseball card angles. Chances are, if you are reading this blog, you will catch yourself laughing during this film. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil the movie for you. (That’s what trailers are for.)

– Kris

waiter, there’s a fork in my 75 topps

January 30, 2011 by

Well, it only took me four years after deciding to rebuild my set of 1975 Topps baseball cards to accomplish the goal. It was a ton of fun, and I am pleased with the fact that that I managed to pull together a great condition set pretty much only via trading. It is absolutely fantastic to be able to flip through my binder and look at the cards’ fronts and backs, much like a great book.

Dwight Evans (1975 Topps no. 255)

Although I do still plan on upgrading five cards due to condition issues, I consider the set complete with the trade I made for this Dwight Evans card. I do have a bunch of duplicates in fantastic condition, as well as a good number of cards from the set in less than ideal condition, so drop me a line if you have holes in your set. I will keep them as trade bait rather than dumping them off on eBay.

So now what? I toyed with the idea of building a set of 75 minis, but have decided instead to keep working towards the completion of my 65 Topps and 72 Topps sets as priorities, and hoping to one day stumble into an unopened box of 75 minis. I know there is a box out there somewhere with my name on it.

I will definitely continue writing players with cards in the 75 set and asking them to add their signature for my collection. I will even consider PAYING one of the dudes $30 to autograph his card the next time I find myself in Las Vegas.

– Kris

peaches and herb

January 5, 2011 by

Five out of four dentists agree that this 1975 Topps baseball card of Herb Washington is so sweet that it will likely cause cavities. In my opinion, if you can’t agree that this is one of THE finest baseball cards ever produced, you are in the wrong hobby. (Yes present day Topps staff members, I am suggesting that it is time for you to take a break from your calculated hijinx in order to shake your groove things.)

Herb Washington (1975 Topps no. 407)

Also in my opinion, the only thing that could possibly improve “Hurricane” Herb’s baseball card was to get it autographed… which I did… thru the mail. It took a while to get back, but eventually the card and I were “Reunited.” It was so worth the wait.

Washington is such a nice guy! It appears that he offered to show up early before the fans got to the ballpark to have his photo taken for his baseball card. When he noticed the photographer backing up to squeeze his entire body into the frame, Herb obviously stopped him, saying, “It’s cool… I’ll just lean forward like I’m thinking about making a break for second base.” Fun time!

-  Kris

made in the USA: casey fossum

January 3, 2011 by

Casey Fossum is the second out of the chute in my presentation of autographed 2004 Upper Deck 25th Anniversary USA baseball cards, having earned that honor based on the fact that he will be celebrating his 33rd birthday this Thursday.

2004 Upper Deck USA Casey Fossum no. 59

After breaking into the majors in 2001, Casey spent time with the Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Devil Rays, Tigers and Mets. Interestingly, the left-handed signing Fossum racked up his personal season high win total (eight games) in 2005, the same season that he led the American League in hit batters, tying Jeff Weaver, the National League leader, with 18 plunkers each. I’m not sure if Fossum was pitching inside more in 2005, or if players were simply larger than he had been used to. The all-time single season high mark of 40 hit batsmen was set by Joe McGinnity in 1900 when he won 28 games for the Brooklyn Superbas.

There is a bizarro Facebook page set up for Fossum that may very well be sponsored by the Onion. I have no idea where Fossum will show up next, but understand that after having a decent season in Japan in 2010, his contract was not renewed by the Hanshin Tigers. If I had to guess, I would look for him at a Triple-A ballpark near you this summer. Possibly he will update his blog at some point.

- Kris

silent moves

December 31, 2010 by

Having just returned from San Francisco, California, the birthplace of former Major League Baseball player and manager Jim Fregosi, I thought I might as well feature his 1975 Topps baseball card that I recently got autographed thru the mail. Isn’t it nice?

Jim Fregosi (1975 Topps no. 339)

Fregosi is listed as the Rangers’ third baseman on his 75 Topps card in spite of the fact that he played 101 games at first and only 36 at the hot corner during the 1974 and 1975 seasons. Ah heck, what’s in a title anyway?

While scouring the interwebs in search of a better nickname for Jim than “Skip,” I ran across Chris Berman’s reference of “Jim Bela Fregosi.” That’s funny in my book.

I always loved Jim’s sideburns on this card as it appears he has been growing them out for this photo for the better part of a decade. That reminds me that I need to upgrade my 1965 Fregosi so I can send that one to him to autograph as well. I better get to it as this year isn’t getting any younger.

-  Kris

the cardinal

December 29, 2010 by

Q: What began as a giant undertaking, sprouted a halo, slapped on some war paint, learned to sing like a bird, showed promise as a brewmeister before developing a fondness for hibernating, became the final number one in Philadelphia and moved into a giant apple before retiring as a king? Oh yeah, and is also cousin of Bert Campaneris?

A: Jose Cardenal

The fleet-footed outfielder moved so fast that he managed to play with nine different major league clubs over a period of eighteen years. Following his retirement as a player, Cardenal went on to coach first base for approximately half as many major league clubs as he played for. Fortunately, Jose has slowed down enough to respond to my request for an autograph thru the mail.

Jose Cardenal (1975 Topps no. 15)

While reading about Cardenal online, you are bound to stumble over the fact that his contract was once sold by the Phillies to the Mets between games of a doubleheader. While that is all fine, well and good, it is worth pointing out that although Jose wore the winning uniform for both games of that split on August 2, 1979, he did not appear in either game. Sometimes life is funny like that.

Also of interest is that Cardenal is credited for having developed the cupped bat.

- Kris

made in the USA: tommy lasorda

December 27, 2010 by

I can count on one hand, the number of Upper Deck products I actually like enough to collect. Furthermore, I would hazard a guess that I could suffer a tragic accident while making a guest appearance with Jimmy Smith’s S & S Aqua Logging crew on History.com’s Ax Men and still be able to make that claim. Granted, it would be more of a challenge to sort the cards with fewer fingers, but it wouldn’t make me like them any more.

One of my favorite Upper Deck products is their 25th Anniversary USA Baseball set that was released in 2004. When facing the challenge of deciding what card I would ask a player to autograph when I meet them, if they have a card in this set, it is ALWAYS my first choice. The one exception to this was when Milton Bradley refused to sign his card with my blue Sharpie, so I had him autograph a different card.

2004 Upper Deck USA Tommy Lasorda no. 109

I wrangled an autograph from Tommy Lasorda after spotting him wandering around an Albuquerque casino prior to the 2007 Triple-A All-Star game. The neat thing about featuring a Tommy Lasorda card is that he needs no introduction.

Technically, I did not collect this product, but rather picked up the entire 200-card set (less the three inserted autographed cards) on eBay for twelve bucks including shipping. You can still pick up the entire set for a low price. In fact, I’ve seen it selling for $28.99 on Amazon.com- you know… the “other” online baseball card shop.

At any rate, one of my goals for 2011 is to feature the cards that I have gotten autographed from this set on a semi-regular basis. Although I have gotten that majority signed in person, I am always willing to trade for cards from this set, as long as they have been signed in blue Sharpie.

- Kris

sixty-four candles

December 24, 2010 by

There is no question that former major leaguer Bill Lee enjoys a laid-back lifestyle. But did you know that while expected to be born in 1946, Lee nearly put off his arrival until the following year?

Lee turns 64 years old this Tuesday, December 28, 2010, tying the mark set by another Bill Lee, the singing voice of a number of Disney characters including Shere Kahn from The Jungle Book (1967), who did so in 1980 just before passing away. The Spaceman shows no sign of giving up the ghost any time soon however, after becoming the oldest player to pitch in a professional baseball game by winning a contest for the independent Can-Am League Brockton Rox on September 10th of this year. (The Rox made headlines in 2009 when they hired Justine Siegal as the first female coach in professional baseball.)

Bill Lee (1975 Topps no. 128)

Bill Lee is wonderful about answering requests for autographs thru the mail and he has a fabulous signature that sometimes includes the name of the planet he is on when he signs. If you’ve been thinking about dropping Lee a letter, why not make it a birthday card and get it in the mail immediately?

Are you aware that Bill Lee owns a bat company? It is called The Old Bat Company. Obviously, he needs a new website designer…

-    Kris

ol’ reliable

December 22, 2010 by

I never ask a player to personalize an autograph, but I certainly enjoy it when they choose to do so. I suppose the act implies that the player takes an interest in fans who take the time to write them a letter. Ken McMullen has to have one of the most consistent signatures in the modern era.

Ken McMullen – 1975 Topps no. 473

I enjoy that the cartoon on the back of McMullen’s card asks what a “portsider” is- especially since the man who hit right handed, threw right handed and signs autographs with his right hand never hurled a single pitch throughout his entire professional baseball career. If that isn’t irony, it is something else. Perhaps this is what Ken was pondering in his photo as he appears to have been posing for either a coin or a bust in the Oxnard, California Hall of Fame.

For those readers who find themselves mired in difficult financial times, let me suggest employing Ken’s jersey numbers while filling out your next multistate lottery card. Tossing out number 35 for McMullen’s dismal 1976 tour with the Oakland A’s, we are left with 14, 11, 7, 4, 5 and 17- the numbers sewn onto his jerseys when he played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, California Angels, Dodgers (again) and the Milwaukee Brewers. For the “power” or “mega” ball, I recommend employing the number 2- McMullen’s number from the period in his career when he flashed the majority of his power with the Washington Senators (1965-1970).

If I happen to hit the Mega Millions or Powerball jackpot with McMullen’s jersey numbers, you can rest assured that I will invest a portion of my winnings to purchase his 1963 Topps rookie card in mint condition send it to him for a TTM autograph.

-   Kris

heads up!

December 20, 2010 by

Wally Moon drops into the Aardvark Trading Company’s command center to remind all you stargazers to be sure to check out tonight’s total lunar eclipse- if local conditions allow of course.

Although the entire event is expected to last in excess of five hours during Monday night and Tuesday morning, the peak will occur at between 12:41 am and 1:53 am (mountain) when the moon will change from a burnt orange color to brick red. If you need assistance converting that to your time zone, the friendly folks at NASA will be happy to help.

Interestingly, the last time a total lunar eclipse coincided with the winter solstice was in 1554 AD (2098 for our Buddhist readers), believed to be the year Sir Walter Raleigh was born. One can’t help but wonder if tobacco cards would ever have existed without Raleigh’s efforts to popularize the New World plant in England.

- Kris


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