cards your great grandmother didn’t throw away

December 12, 2010 by

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

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make something grrrrrrrreat!

December 8, 2010 by

What’s this… back to back posts featuring superb defensive outfielders from the 1970s? Excuse me for attempting to finish 2010 strong. Obviously Mickey Stanley is on board with the notion that the best way for a player to get his baseball card featured on “Cards in the Attic” is to sign and return it after receiving it in the mail with a nice letter. Ol’ number 24 scores bonus points in my ledger for employing a blue Sharpie when autographing his 1975 Topps baseball card thru the mail.

Mickey Stanley – 1975 Topps no. 141

Apparently a fan of Yogi Berra, Stanley was quoted as saying, “Those were the best pitches I ever heard” when asked about having been struck out by Nolan Ryan.

One of my favorite things about vintage baseball cards is when you flip them over and see only a single team name in their stats. I guess that officially makes me a curmudgeon or something.

Say, don’t forget to check out the wise Night Owl for more about Mickey Stanley’s 1975 Topps baseball card.

– Kris

the bandit

December 6, 2010 by

You may be wondering why I selected a 1975 Citroën for the background of my image of Ken Berry’s autographed 1975 Topps baseball card. Then again, you may not. Regardless of whichever it may be, the car’s antennae reminded me more or less of how Berry held his bat in this photo. Actually, the logo of his brainchild, the Ken Berry League Southwest Youth Athletic Association, Inc. is also quite similar.

Ken Berry – 1975 Topps no. 432

Allen Kent Berry, no relation to Franken Berry, was kind enough to autograph his card for my collection honoring my thru the mail request. I am a huge fan of baseball cards that feature players in front of empty sections of ballparks. I’d like to imagine that someone asked the photographer if they should move the bat on the ground out of view, and he (or she) replied, “Nah… someone at Topps will simply airbrush it out later.”

Working as a technical advisor on the film “Eight Men Out,” Berry got into the movie near the end playing the fan that heckles Shoeless Joe Jackson during a minor league game. There’s your fun fact for the day.

– Kris

topps 52s… dodgers blues

October 20, 2010 by

The focus of this blog post is simply to feature a few autographed Topps 52 Rookies baseball cards of former Los Angeles Dodgers players. I had originally planned a rant on the terrible trade that sent Tony Abreu to the Arizona Diamondbacks at the end of the 2009 season, then decided that probably the only people who even care about that deal wouldn’t want to think about it anyway. Besides, the Dodgers are not the only Major League team making bad trades. Thus, you are spared that discussion and rewarded with a few images of nice blue Sharpie signatures on baseball cards that are ideal for autographing.

Tony Abreu. (2007 Topps 52 – no. 9)

The chrome variant of these cards also takes a nice Sharpie signature after having the surface quickly treated with baby powder. Chrome cards signed without surface preparation have a tendency to bubble and smear, and generally look rather crappy, so do not skip that important step in your graphing routine.

Tony Abreu. (2007 Topps 52 Chrome – no. TCRC 10)

Eric Hull did spend a few days on the Dodgers bench during the 2007 season, but did not actually appear in a major league game until later in the season with the Houston Astros. I believe Hull is currently retired.

Eric Hull (2007 Topps 52 – no. 128)

One of the kool things about baseball cards is that they rarely fail to teach you something new, assuming you are willing to look for that information. For instance, did you know that Eric Stults was born exactly six days after Eric Hull?

Eric Stults (2007 Topps 52 – no. 106)

Eric Stults spent the 2010 season playing for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. I’ve tried following American ballplayers as they continue their careers overseas, but never successfully. Somehow those stats seem to get lost in translation.

– Kris

giles & cole – more arizona fall league tales

October 16, 2010 by

Are you aware that for a mere six bucks you have the opportunity to meet the most promising young talent professional baseball has to offer, often before the players become household names or show up on most fantasy baseball managers’ radars? Seriously! They call it the Arizona Fall League. That same six dollars (U.S.) allows you to sit comfortably in relatively empty stands in a variety of Phoenix’s Spring Training facilities and learn more about the game of baseball while chatting to people who have been heavily invested in the business their entire lives. Oh yeah, the games are generally pretty entertaining contests as well.

Marcus Giles (2000 Arizona Fall League – no. 14)

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that Marcus Giles needs no introduction. What is important to take away from this discussion is that this is the type of player fans get to enjoy when they attend ballgames in the Arizona Fall League. Have you checked out the team rosters for this season?

The other important note I wanted to make is that Marcus’ older brother Brian attended several games to support him after the Pittsburgh Pirates 2000 season had ended. This is only an example of  course. In a nutshell, Fall League fans consist primarily of scouts, graphers, player family members and/or present and former big league players and managers.

Brian Cole (2000 Arizona Fall League – no. 10)

Obviously, appearing in AFL games doesn’t guarantee that a player will ever make it to the majors, as any of a number of roadblocks can derail a player’s career- or worse. Considered a top prospect for the New York Mets, outfielder Brian Cole was killed after being ejected from his SUV in a single car accident only five months after he signed his Arizona Fall League baseball card for my collection. I recently observed that the lawsuit surrounding Brian Cole’s death was recently settled– just nine and a half years after the accident that occurred at the end of Spring Training in 2001. Cole’s family reportedly received $131 million in actual damages from the Ford Motor Company prior to punitive damages consideration by the Jasper County, Mississippi jury that tried the case for the third and final time. Baseball fans can only speculate how Cole’s 135 minor league stolen bases in 320 lifetime games would have translated at the major league level.

Arizona Fall League…. Major League Baseball’s best kept secret.

– Kris

ndungidi & ginter – arizona fall league tales

October 14, 2010 by

I thought a post was called for in honor of the opening of the 2010 Arizona Fall League (AFL) season this week. I will keep it brief, much like the AFL season itself. There are so many positives about the Arizona Fall League, it always gives me pause when a baseball fan confesses that they’ve never heard of it. That is a shame. I cannot think of a better value for true baseball fans than the AFL.

The Arizona Fall League no longer produces baseball cards much to the dismay of the autograph collectors who make annual pilgrimages to the Valley of the Sun each autumn. At any rate, here are a couple of baseball cards from the 2000 Arizona Fall League set to give you a slight taste of what they are/were all about.

Ntema Ndungidi (2000 Arizona Fall League – no. 26)

This Ntema Ndungidi card brings back fond memories of his teammates talking about what an interesting character “Pappy” was in the clubhouse. Reportedly some of his odd behavior included having in-depth discussions with his locker. When I asked Ntema to sign his card before a game, he complied by laying a cheese sandwich he was eating on the top of the concrete wall between us so he could use both hands to apply his signature. I do believe Ndungidi has one of the thinnest Sharpie autographs I’ve ever seen. Ndungidi’s professional baseball career ended in Canada in 2003 without having made a single MLB appearance. Still, not bad for a kid who didn’t pick up a baseball until after high school.

Keith Ginter (2000 Arizona Fall League – no. 15)

Keith Ginter on the other hand, made not only two Arizona Fall League teams (1999 and 2000), but also enjoyed his fair share of coffee in the bigs with Houston, Milwaukee and Oakland. While not as outrageous as Ndungidi, Ginter was reportedly one of five Astros who were tied up and robbed by two gunmen during Spring Training in 2000. I am assuming that the gunmen weren’t asking for autographs… While you likely have at least one of Ginter’s baseball cards in your collection, chances are that you don’t have this one.

I have no idea how many seasons Denton Hanna was employed to shoot all of the photos used in the AFL baseball card set, but he seemed to be a fixture at the various Fall League ballparks I visited. Hanna is a freelance photographer who has a pretty impressive list of clients that includes Topps and Major League Baseball. I am somewhat puzzled by the fact that his website doesn’t appear to have been updated since 2004. Thus, I will not be providing a link to it.

Hang on to your seats as I plan to feature more Arizona Fall League cards between now and the end of the season when I will be heading over to Phoenix to catch between 10 and 12 games.

– Kris

and then there were three… or four

October 11, 2010 by

Although my hobby goals are generally unwritten, one of them has been to complete my set of 1975 Topps baseball cards before the Night Owl completes his review of the entire set. While I haven’t reached the summit of that mountain yet, I have made fantastic strides toward that end this season almost exclusively via online trading.

As of this posting, I technically only need a single card- no. 255 Dwight Evans to complete the set. That said, I also have to replace two damaged cards- no. 393 Gary Gentry and no. 649 Jack Heidemann before my binder will be satisfied. There is also the situation of card no. 484 Glenn Beckert that I mailed for an autograph some eight months ago and haven’t gotten back. Possibly, I never will… I refuse to buy these cards on eBay because I would feel absolutely no joy in completing the set in that manner.

The vast majority of the 75 Topps cards I picked up this year have arrived as part of trades with collectors who are members of Vintage Card Traders (VCT). While not all 121 VCT members are as active as the rest (placing myself in the “relatively inactive category”), I would hazard a guess that their overall membership is likely a little more active in working card swaps that the current baseball card blogosphere. I would not hesitate to recommend any dedicated baseball card collector to check out the membership requirements of the 11-year old VCT. Just keep in mind that the group is primarily interested in vintage cards, just as the name suggests. Even if you aren’t collecting vintage cards, I would suggest that you check out various VCT member want lists and try to initiate trades of modern cards.

On a final note, I do have a considerable number of duplicate 1975 Topps baseball cards for trade, so feel free to contact me if you are working on the set and have cards to trade that I need from other sets.

– Kris

only the shadow knows…

October 9, 2010 by

I remember the 1970s. However, I do not claim to actually understand how many of the things from the 70s came to be. A perfect example would be Jerry Terrell’s 1974 Topps baseball card.

Jerry Terrell (1974 Topps – no. 481)

I remember having Terrell’s 74 Topps card in my collection as clearly as I recall eating jelly beans and drinking Shasta root beer in the back seat of my father’s 65 Chevy Impala while our family enjoyed a “Herby Rides Again”/”My Name is Nobody” double feature at the drive-in. Who knows… I may have even first seen this card while opening a pack during the 15-minute drive to the theater.

Interestingly, I didn’t think anything was strange about the card until I reacquired it for my collection earlier this year. I sort of wonder if anyone else has written about the odd “shadow” cast on the ground next to Jerry, but I find that I’m not so interested as to actually take the time to scour the interwebs to answer my own question. The bottom line is that I picked up a few blaster boxes of 2010 Allen & Ginter baseball cards during the baseball season when I didn’t have any spare time to open them, and have decided that I can only open a box after I post some sort of offering on this blog. Thus, you get this.

Although the shadow not only seems unnatural in that it is not varied from the dirt warning track to the raised grass surface, but also the shape of the shadow seems unlikely to have been cast from the same light source as is the shadow across Terrell’s face from his ballcap. Even with that in mind, I doubt I would have bothered to call attention to this card if not for the fact that Terrell’s shadow is cast in different direction from that of his teammate’s in the background. Here is a quickie Photoshopped version that illustrates a “truer” shadow that would have been cast off Terrell in keeping with the same light source as his teammate.

MODIFIED Jerry Terrell (1974 Topps – no. 481)

Without having access to the original negative, I can only speculate that this photo has been doctored. Even then I am left scratching my head as to WHY would anyone have bothered to do so in the first place.

– Kris

the fifth dementia

December 27, 2009 by

When the fifty-two is signed in blue
It rises above all other cards
As Alberto takes the mound
six-four-three’s fill scorecards

This is the blogging of the card of A. Arias
The card of A. Arias
A. Arias!
A. Arias!

Alberto Arias (2007 Topps 52 Rookies – no. 82)

– Kris

krismas day triple play

December 25, 2009 by

One of the neatest aspects of immersing oneself in minor league baseball is that doing so affords the opportunity to follow your favorite players for a longer period of time than if you had waited to “discover” them once they become an everyday player in the majors. Of course, this argument makes the assumption that your favorite minor league players not only make that leap, but also make it stick when they do.

Josh Wilson (2006 Topps 52 Rookies – no. 45)

Born within a Bill Mazeroski moonshot of Honus Wagner’s birthplace, shortstop Josh Wilson was destined to play ball. I first met Josh during the 2004 season when he joined the Albuquerque Isotopes. A completely likable fellow, Wilson approached both games and practices with determination to perform to the best of his abilities and to improve at every opportunity, making him one of my favorite players for the two seasons he was in town. The thing I like best about Josh’s character is that he even takes his clowning around seriously. Wilson would be a positive influence in any professional baseball clubhouse.

Josh Wilson (2006 Topps 52 Rookies – chrome no. TCRC12 1752/1952)

With that having been typed, the man himself has probably been involved in as many trades as have his baseball cards. Over a span of only five years, Wilson has donned major and/or minor league uniforms for the Marlins, Rockies, Nationals, (then Devil) Rays, Pirates, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Padres and Mariners.

Josh Wilson (2006 Topps 52 Rookies – chrome refractor no. TCRC12 305/552)

I hit the trifecta when Josh autographed all three versions of his 2006 Topps 52 Rookie card for me this past summer while back in the Duke City playing for the Tacoma Rainiers. If all goes well, he will return again in early April when the Seattle Mariners play a two-game Spring Training series against the Colorado Rockies at Isotopes Park. It will be a pleasure to watch him running, diving and making dazzling plays while wearing a Seattle uniform.

– Kris