Archive for the ‘baseball card reference’ Category

cards your great grandmother didn’t throw away

December 12, 2010

Yesterday, December 11, 2010, marked the 135th anniversary of the birth of Roy A. Stamm. Odds are stacked against you having heard of this man before, but considering that you are reading this blog, I would imagine that you would have shared some common ground with him.

Roy Stamm and friends circa 1890

Given my interest in most things historic, I always have an eye peeled for early mentionings of baseball and baseball cards. As a result of my ongoing research, I have amassed a sizable database of historical accounts of the origins of baseball in the New Mexico Territory, including the names and addresses of businesses and homes associated with people who either played baseball or had their hand in the industry in one manner or another… saloon owners, tobacconists, printers and photographers are prime examples of historical folks I collect data on. The bottom line is that you simply cannot know when that sort of information will prove valuable, even though your hunch tells you that you should try to only have to sift through the written archives once. At any rate, I’ve already gone further into all of that than I intended to do here.

With little spare time to spread around, I sometimes must make a decision to ignore the stacks of unsorted baseball cards on (or near) my desk, and pick up a book instead. The result can prove both entertaining and informative. The written account of Roy Stamm’s life struck me like an unexpected bubble envelope stuffed full of baseball cards off my want lists. Although Stamm completed his work in 1954, “fOR ME, THE SUN: The Autobiography of Roy A. Stamm, An Early Albuquerque Business Leader,” the book wasn’t published until 1999, some 42 years following his death.

Stamm the man, his book and his balloon (1890)

The following except from the book followed an incident in 1882 in which a bully had tossed the author, then six-years-old, into a mud puddle on South Second Street in New Albuquerque and attempted to force him to eat a toad. I’m not sure which is worse, the incident or one’s mother finding out about it.

“She was of Puritan Massachusetts and Mohawk Valley Dutch ancestry and had taught school in Kansas. Outraged by this “plain evidence of racial resentment”, she saw that from that time on I rode my saddle horse during most of my childhood (I became so accustomed to this, I’d ride across the street instead of walking!).

This decision was all right with me. Forbidden to play tops or marbles “for keeps” and ordered to hold myself, literally, “above those bad boys,” I used this easy transportation to reach the tremendous distinction of owning the “third largest cigarette picture collection in town.” The first and best belonged to a black boy whose father and brothers were porters in saloons; the second, to a newsboy. Their inside sources of supply were partially balanced by my ability to move around and to trade for pictures desired by others to complete their sets.

All of which distressed mother but, fair minded, she allowed me to retain my well won trophies. No matter how strong and possessive a mother’s instincts may be, unless he is predisposed, a boy’s natural inclinations seldom will permit him to become “sissified.”

The only conclusion I am going to allow myself to draw from this segment of Stamm’s book is that card collectors of the past were as varied and passionate about the hobby as are card collectors of today- and most likely, the future. I did contact Roy’s son to tell him how much I enjoyed the book and to thank him for his efforts in helping bring his father’s words to print. We were not able to pinpoint which cigarette cards were contained within the collection, but I have been having a blast paging thru my copy of “American Tobacco Cards: Price Guide and Checklist” by Robert Forbes and Terence Mitchell and wondering about what treasures may have been contained within Stamm’s collection.

Allen & Ginter: “American Indian Chiefs” and “American Editors” series

I think it is reasonable to predict that Roy may have been fond of the Allen & Ginter American Indian Chiefs series since he was an twelve-year-old boy growing up in the wild west when the cards were issued in 1888. As wonderful as these cards are, I feel the need to remind readers that many of the men featured on the cards were still alive when the amazing Linder, Eddy & Clauss lithographs were reproduced as tobacco cards. Even if Roy didn’t collect the Allen & Ginter American Editors (1887) cards, you can bet your bottom dollar that the Albuquerque newsboy did, and would have traded handsomely to complete his 50-card set.

Roy Stamm and his UNM football teammates (1894)

Roy Stamm led a fascinating life; regardless of what angle you choose to examine it. However, I will not be spoiling potential future book sales by stating whether or not he included more about tobacco cards or baseball as he drew from his extensive journal that he kept throughout his life. Stamm passed away two years after the release of 1952 Topps baseball cards, 10 years before the first Sharpie mark became permanent and decades before the dawn of blogging. I wonder whether he would have adapted to trading his cards via the internet, or if he would have stuck to his guns and traded only on horseback.

– Kris

the more things change…

August 15, 2008

Have you ever sat and wondered what it must have been like to collect baseball cards way back when… you know, in the days prior to the interweb, penny sleeves, and printed price guides? If you pulled a presidential DNA card from an Allen & Ginter pack, would you consider trading it for say, an hour in a time machine? I know I would!

Luckily, we do have access to a time machine of sorts, and it goes by the name of “Shorpy.” Best of all, you can use it as often and as long as you wish, and it won’t even cost you a Willie McGee card.

I must warn you that Shorpy “the 100-year-old photo blog” can be quite addictive. So you may wish to skip the rest of this entry and return to check it out sometime in November when there is no baseball to watch.

I suspect that most Cards in the Attic readers will be quite interested in this photo of a young military cadet that seems to have been taken in his dorm room right around 1911.

Why? Perhaps you need a closer view…

That’s right… baseball cards. Actually, there are all kinds of interesting things to look at in this photo, so you’ll want to be sure to visit and download the uncropped high resolution image that they obtained from a National Photo Company Collection glass negative on file at the Library of Congress.

But this blog is about baseball cards, and not so much the other stuff, so let’s focus on the cards. Without screw down acrylic cases to protect his collection, this young collector simply affixed his cards to his wall so he could look at them whenever he felt the need. Raise your hand if you’ve never done this yourself. Now put your hand down liar!

Without his own blog or MySpace page, the subject of our attention could only document his STELLAR collection by sitting in front of it and having someone take a photograph. Nearly 100 years later, his efforts are greatly appreciated. This guy even had a fish card that I suspect Cardboard Junkie can identify in an instant.

Not that long ago Shorpy ran another photo that seems to have either been shot in a military barracks, or some bizzaro pool hall. This photo dates to the later 1910s, but does that alone qualify the photo to be included here?

Hardly! A closer inspection reveals more baseball card madness…

My first thought was that they stuck the entire contents of a blaster box on the wall, but I’m fairly confident that Target wasn’t around yet. You’ll want to make sure to also check out the full-size image of this by following this link.

Isn’t history kool? Isn’t it also a little strange? Then, not unlike now, the country and the baseball card hobby faced hard times with myriad challenges and opportunities. What will be your legacy? (Completely rhetorical, of course- no need to go into all of that in the comments section!!!)

Did I mention that could be addictive?

– Kris

2008 albuquerque isotopes team set review

June 18, 2008

2008 Albuquerque Isotopes team set
Official Score – INSIDE-the-PARK-HOMERUN
Manufacturer: MultiAd Sports
SGA sponsor: Waycor Materials, Inc.
SGA date: Thursday, June 12, 2008
Final game score: Isotopes 8 – Round Rock Express 7
Attendance: 6,040 (first 3,000 received free cards)
Retail price: $5.00

Checklist: 36 cards
1 – Waycor truck
2 – Dean Treanor (manager)
3 – Steve Phillips (hitting coach)
4 – Rich Gale (pitching coach)
5 – Steve Miller (trainer)
6 – Robert Andino (inf)
7 – John Baker (c)
8 – Chris Barnwell (inf)
9 – Daniel Barone (p)
10 – Kenny Baugh (p)
11 – Andrew Beattie (inf)
12 – Tagg Bozied (inf)
13 – Dante Brinkley (of)
14 – Brett Carroll (of)
15 – Marcos Carvajal (p)
16 – Frankie De La Cruz (p)
17 – John Gall (of)
18 – Alexis Gomez (of)
19 – Marc Gwyn (p)
20 – Gaby Hernandez (p)
21 – Paul Hoover (c)
22 – Bobby Keppel (p)
23 – Chase Lambin (inf)
24 – George Lombard (of)
25 – Dallas McPherson (inf)
26 – Jai Miller (of)
27 – Joe Nelson (p)
28 – Scott Nestor (p)
29 – Chris Seddon (p)
30 – Dallas Trahern (p)
31 – Brandon Villafuerte (p)
32 – Randy Williams (p)
33 – Jason Wood (inf)
34 – Steve Woodard (p)
35 – Orbit (mascot)
36 – Sophie

I would be exaggerating if I claimed that I was stunned when I saw that the very first card of the set contained the exact same photo used in the first card of the 2007 team set. In reality, I was overwhelmed as I was handed an entire uncut 19″ by 26″ proof sheet for my review… and didn’t notice the reuse of the image for several minutes. Even later I realized that the photo was different, but only slightly, and was able to determine that it was definitely shot during Media Day 2007. Oh well… I understand that the sponsor needs an ad in the set, and the card is still good for obtaining signatures of players who didn’t make the team set.

I was extremely pleased to see that the Isotopes selected MultiAd’s “Style N” template with the distinctive enlarged offset grayscale photo used for the background. Without question, this style lends itself very well to highlighting player autographs as any possible dark backgrounds are removed from the equation. Again, card thickness is typical for a minor league set. Similar to the Isotopes 2007 team set, the backs consist of two-color (black and red) printing over white matte, with player stats and short bios. Surface treatment is an “autograph friendly” clear coat that lends itself very well to taking a Sharpie signature. If you can resist touching it for a few seconds, or convince a player to not slide the card under another one immediately after signing, the signature will not smudge. Drying time may vary slightly in more humid places such as New Orleans or Des Moines as compared to the dry climate of the desert southwest.

The photography in this set is first rate! A tip of the cyber cap is in order to the fantastic photographers who shoot for Kim Jew Sports. It would not be a stretch to claim that this is easily the most aesthetically pleasing baseball card set produced for the Albuquerque Isotopes (to date).

In a set that could prove difficult for many fans to select a favorite, one card stands out to me above the rest- catcher Paul Hoover. Normally I’m not a fan of cards of catchers wearing all their gear and a mask, as it tends to obscure what they look like, but this particular card is fabulous as it captures the intensity of Hoover’s eyes as he stares into the dugout for signs from manager Dean Treanor.

For comparative purposes, this card of catcher John Baker lacks any distinguishing features that would set him apart from say, any random bullpen catcher- which is a shame as Baker has one of the more colorful personalities of all the players on the current roster. What proof of that do I have to offer? Check out this video that is often played between innings on the jumbotron to entertain hardcore and casual fans alike. How many of the other Albuquerque Isotopes and/or Florida Marlins players can you identify? (I’m BEGGING you to please vote for “Finding Nemo” as the next movie to be created for Topes Cinema!)

I would say that my second favorite card in the set is of hitting coach Steve Phillips. In spite of the black uniform, this photo is one of the better shots I’ve seen of Steve. Much like the aforementioned Hoover card, this one depicts the determined look that is often spread across the faces of Isotopes players and coaches during gametime.

Speaking of determined faces… I’m including this scan of infielder Chris Barnwell’s card since his tongue sticking out of his mouth illustrates that he is loading his cannon prior to unleashing a bullet across the field to throw out a visiting hitter well before he reaches first base. Ever since I was a kid, I have used my tongue to help guide my hand while I draw, color, or cultivate weeds out of the garden, so I understand and appreciate the usefulness of such a great aiming device. Another great thing about baseball cards- I just realized that Barny and I share the same birthday.

For a person named “Gaby,” Hernandez is a player who keeps pretty quiet.

Finally, when I recently asked Chase Lambin if he spent much time working on his sweet signature, he replied that he worked most of it out during high school when he should have been paying attention in class.

Overall, this set has a fantastic design that is backed by a strong checklist. You could get way less for your five bucks picking up some random pack of four to seven major league cards than investing in this wonderful 36-card team set. If you have a complete duplicate minor league team set that you would like to offer in trade, drop us a line with the details of your proposed trade. I’m pretty confident that people trading sets can ship for less than any retail outlet would charge you. Amazing how that happens, eh? I’m pretty sure they also have a few uncut sheets available in the Isotopes team shop, but they don’t seem to be available online.

Subjectively yours,

– Kris

whatever happened to baby doll jacobson

June 9, 2008

I was searching through the names of baseball players past looking for someone I could tie loosely to the movie “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane,” to use as an introduction to my subject of the use of baseball cards in movies. (I’ll get to that in a bit.) That movie has nothing to do with baseball or baseball cards- I just thought it would make for a fun title.

At any rate, I ran across the name Baby Doll Jacobson, and decided that it sounded interesting enough to me to justify further research. Probably by now you are beginning to figure out why I tend to have difficulties finding time to blog frequently. As it turns out, William Chester Jacobson was born in 1890 in the tiny town of Cable, Illinois, located less than 50 miles from where I spent the vast majority of my first 20 years. Jacobson spent 11 years (1915-1927) in professional baseball, playing outfield and first base for the Tigers, Browns, Red Sox, Indians, and Athletics. Baby Doll recorded 3,933 putouts in 4,073 chances, which translates to a lifetime fielding percentage of .973. Jacobson also maintained a career batting average of .311 with 787 runs scored and 819 driven in over 5,507 at bats. Baby Doll hit 83 homeruns during his professional baseball career, and in 1922, recorded his only grand slam. Jacobson passed away during the early winter of 1977, and was laid to rest in Colona, Illinois, again only about 50 miles from where I grew up. It is a shame that I didn’t know about this person before today.

Baby Doll was only a teammate of Ty Cobb for 37 games before he was traded to St. Louis (where he spent the majority of his career) for pitcher Bill James. Interestingly, two days after Jacobson’s first game with the Tigers, they signed a pitcher named Razor Ledbetter. I’ve decided to mention Razor here as well since he probably doesn’t get much attention, given his career stats of ONE inning pitched in relief in which he gave up a single hit- no walks- no runs (earned or otherwise)- no hit batters. Razor also failed to record any strikeouts, which suggests that he wasn’t fooling anyone. Perhaps that is why he decided to hang up the cleats after that one appearance.

What got me started on this particular blog entry was the beginning of the film “Big,” where best pals Josh and Billy were opening packs of baseball cards after school. The cards appeared to be packs of 1987 Topps, which makes sense given that the movie was released during the summer of 1988. I would imagine that those particular cards were tossed, or could not be located today. And probably few would care if they could.

However, there is another movie that contained a baseball card (of the cigarette variety) that possibly could be located today either in some movie memorabilia collection, or less likely- in a vault at MGM. There are a couple of scenes in the Frank Sinatra-Gene Kelly musical Take Me Out to the Ballgame (1949) in which cigarette cards of Wolves shortstop Eddie O’Brien (Gene Kelly) are used as props- including one scene where O’Brien gives the cards to several young boys who are waiting to meet the players. I snapped a photo of a close-up of the card as it demonstrates that someone in the MGM art department was on the ball. I wonder how many of these things were made, and where it/they ended up.

Strangely, there was a non-fictional Eddie O’Brien who broke into the major leagues four years after the film was released as a shortstop with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He would have been only 18 when the movie was made, so I presume the use of his name was coincidence. This particular O’Brien made baseball history when he and his brother Johnny became the first twins to play for the same team in a major league baseball game. The twins were also on the same Seattle University Chieftains basketball team that stunned the sporting world in 1952 by upsetting the Harlem Globetrotters by a score of 84-81.

Finally, in an effort to bring this full circle and leave your brain spinning like a dog chasing his own tail, it is reported that since Gene Kelly disliked a swimming number that he performed with Esther Williams for “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” they came up with an alternate number called “The Baby Doll.” Weird, huh? Apparently, it didn’t make the final director’s cut, which leaves me wondering…. What ever happened to Baby Doll (Jacobson)?

By the Beckett, Jacobson appears on 22 baseball cards printed between 1917-1927, in 1987, 1988 and 1993.

What other movies feature baseball cards?

topps shelf literature

April 26, 2008

I realize that it is still spring, but it isn’t too early to begin thinking about items to add to your Christmas list. No, not the list you use when shopping for friends and family, but rather the list you consult whenever someone asks what you are hoping Santa will leave under your tree.

If you are anything like me, you regularly get asked if you are sure you just want baseball cards AGAIN. Odds are that more than once you have replied, “Yes, I already have enough socks, thank you.”

Perhaps this item will throw your gift givers for a loop. It is called a book.

The title is Topps Baseball Cards: The Complete Picture Collection (A 35 Year History, 1951-1985). “Written” by Frank Slocum, the book contains an introduction by Sy Berger, and say hey… a forward by Willie Mays. Published by Warner Books in 1985, Topps Baseball Cards was and printed and bound by Mandarin Offset Marketing Ltd. in Hong Kong.

If you aren’t familiar with this book, but are intrigued so far, prepare to have your mind blown. This unbelievable manuscript contains images of the front side of one of every Topps baseball cards produced between 1951 and 1985. The images measure approximately 1.1875 by 1.75 inches, so inclusion of the back sides of the cards really wouldn’t have been feasible. No short printed pages either!

Topps Baseball Cards also contains a nifty index in the back to help you quickly locate the cards of your favorite players. Perhaps by now you are thinking that this thing would be perfect if it also contained lifetime Major League batting and pitching statistics of all of the players featured on the cards. Well… it does!

While sellers are offering “used” to “like new” copies of this out-of-print masterpiece on Amazon from $50 to $500 (I am not kidding!), I was able to pick up a copy on eBay for $21 that I have personally graded as “gently utilized.” Condition really wasn’t an issue for me as I intend to use this reference volume much like one would treat a rental car. Once Aardvark Trading Company opens a physical store, this book will be available for customers to thumb through on cold winter days while they ponder which vintage set they want to chase next.

This monster book measures 14.2 by 10.7 inches, with a wingspan of just over 20 inches while in flight. The 735 pages of this behemoth combined with the hardback cover minus the dust jacket (dust jackets should be illegal in the continental 48 states) weigh in at a lap-crushing 10.2 pounds; so make sure you have a desk, table or industrial-strength book stand handy whenever you decide to flip through this fabulous document.

Unfortunately, the size and weight of the book serve as adequate deterrents for most graphers who may entertain the notion of having players sign the images of their cards. Of course if Topps decides to reissue the book with retractable wheels and a handle, all bets are off.

When you stop to consider that this book will easily serve as that perfect stop-gap catch all for your baseball card collection until you manage to win the lottery and are in a position to put together your dream collection, I don’t think it is much of a stretch for me to claim this is probably the best possible nonfiction book you could add to your library. Certainly if you can think of a better reference book, I would love to hear about it.

So the next time you are standing in front of THE aisle in one of those major retail stores pondering dropping another twenty bucks for one of those rip-off repack boxes, you should also consider the alternative of adding another $20 to your investment fund to purchase your very own copy of Topps Baseball Cards in the condition that best fits your style. You will be glad you did!

– Kris