Wednesday, December 16, 2015

#12 Andy Carey - New York Yankees


Andrew Arthur Carey
New York Yankees
Third Base

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'1"  Weight:  190
Born:  October 18, 1931, Oakland, CA
Signed:  Signed by the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent in 1950
Major League Teams:  New York Yankees 1952-1960; Kansas City Athletics 1960-1961; Chicago White Sox 1961, Los Angeles Dodgers 1962
Died:  December 15, 2011, Newport Beach, CA (age 80)

Wearing #6, Andy Carey was the Yankees primary starting third baseman for five seasons between 1954 and 1958, a period that saw the Bronx Bombers win two more World Championships in 1956 and 1958.  Known more for his glove than his bat, Carey was instrumental in helping to preserve Don Larsen's (#332) perfect game in game five of the 1956 World Series.  Carey led the American League in triples in 1955 with 11.

The Yankees traded him in June 1961 (with Larsen) to the Athletics, and he'd play the final year and a half of his career with the A's, White Sox and Dodgers before retiring.

Dad - Christmas 2004
Building the Set
December 25, 2004 from San Diego, CA - Card #253
This is the first Yankee player to show up in the set, and I still remember the warning we'd receive from baseball card dealers in the late 1980s when my Dad and I informed them we were trying to build a complete 1956 Topps set.  Without fail, at every baseball card show, a dealer would warn us, "Good luck finding the Yankees."

A lot of collectors who grew up rooting for the Yankees were focused on building complete team sets from the 1950s Topps sets. For this reason, it was definitely difficult to track down single Yankees cards of their stars and commons as we were putting together our set.  Dealers who had commons for sale for $4 to $7 would regularly mark up their Yankees commons to $10 to $15, and we'd often pass on these cards.  (To a lesser extent, the same could be said for the Dodgers cards.)

This was one of six 1956 Topps cards my Dad gave to me for Christmas in 2004 and I never asked him how much he paid for the lot.  I do know that he ordered the cards from Kit Young Cards in San Diego, although unlike his purchase of the Ted Williams card, I doubt he actually spoke to Kit this time.  He would have given me these cards at the first house my wife Jenna and I owned, which we affectionately called The Crick.

The Card
That's most likely Carey in the action shot at third base, tagging out what I would guess to be a White Sox runner.  As is becoming the norm, the head shot was re-used from Carey's 1954 and 1955 Topps cards.  Our copy of this card is fantastic, with four sharp corners and not a crease to be seen.

1956 Season
At just 24 years old, Carey was firmly entrenched in the Yankees starting line-up in 1956, appearing in 132 games at third and hitting .237.  He struggled in the 1956 World Series, starting all seven games at third, but going 3 for 19 (.158) at the plate.  He's best remembered for contributing to two of the tougher outs during Larsen's perfect game.

In the second, he deflected a ground ball from Jackie Robinson (#30) to shortstop Gil McDougald (#225), who threw out Robinson at first.  If not for Carey getting a glove on the ball, it would have been a single to left.  In the eighth, he caught a low line drive off the bat of Gil Hodges (#145), again preserving the perfect game.

Phillies Connection
On December 15, 1961, Carey (along with Frank Barnes) was traded by the White Sox to the Phillies for Taylor Phillips and Bob Sadowski.  Carey refused to report to the Phillies in March 1962, as he preferred not to spend his final year in baseball on the last place Phillies and he intended to focus full-time on his growing California brokerage business.  The Phils received Cal McLish from the White Sox as consolation for Carey's refusal to report, and Carey was eventually swapped to the Dodgers where he finished his career closer to home.

For Phillies collectors, Carey is included within the 1962 Salada-Junket coin set, marking his only appearance with the team on any collectibles.  The set's creators originally released the Carey coin featuring him in a White Sox uniform, but the photo was updated to feature him in the Phillies hat and uniform he'd never actually wear.

1953 Topps #188
 
1962 Salada
Coins #86B
1962 Topps #418
 
2002 Topps Heritage Real
One Autographs #RO-AC
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1953 Topps #188
First Topps Card:  1953 Topps #188
Representative Phillies Card:  1962 Salada Coins #86B
Last Topps Card:  1962 Topps #418
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2002 Topps Heritage Real One Autographs #RO-AC

50 - Carey non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 12/15/15

Sources:  
Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
Gettysburg Times - February 27, 1962
The Phillies Room
The Trading Card Database

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

#11 Chicago Cubs Team Card


Topps included full team photos in its baseball card set for the first time in 1956, having previously experimented with team cards in a limited edition 1951 stand-alone set.

Building the Set
December 4, 1999 in Raleigh, NC - Card #188
This is one of four cards I acquired at the "Holiday Sports Classic" baseball card show held in Raleigh in late 1999.  I paid $10 for the card and at the time it was the seventh (out of 16) team cards we had in our set.  Given the timing of this show right before holidays, I would have attended this show by myself but I most likely called my Dad back in Millville, New Jersey to update him on my purchases later that day.

The Card
The Cubs are shown in a photo taken during the 1955 season at some point after June 12th.  Owen Friend was purchased from the Red Sox on that day and he's included in the photo.  You can just barely see the ivy on the outfield wall to the left and right of the team.

  • Front Row
  • Howie Pollet (#262 with White Sox)
  • Jim Bolger
  • Paul Minner (#182)
  • Batboy Billy Phillips
  • Warren Hacker (#282)
  • Jim King (#74)
  • Walker Cooper (#273 with Cardinals)
  • 2nd Row
  • Hal Jeffcoat (#289 with Reds)
  • Jim Davis (#102)
  • Coach Ray Blades
  • Lewis (perhaps a team executive?)
  • Manager Stan Hack
  • Coach Dutch Leonard
  • Coach Ray Hayworth
  • Frank Baumholtz (#274 with Phillies)
  • Bob Rush (#214)
  • 3rd Row
  • Clubhouse Manager Yosh Kawano
  • Owen Friend
  • Clyde McCullough
  • Ernie Banks (#15)
  • Bob Speake (#66)
  • Gene Baker (#142)
  • Randy Jackson (#223 with Dodgers)
  • Dave Hillman
  • Eddie Miksis (#285)
  • Trainer Al Scheuneman
  • Back Row
  • Hank Sauer (#41)
  • Sam Jones (#259)
  • Lloyd Merriman
  • Solly Drake
  • John Andre
  • Harry Chiti (#179)
  • Harry Perkowski
  • Don Kaiser (#124, Daiser on card)
  • Dee Fondy (#112)
The Cubs still call Wrigley Field their home although capacity has increased to 41,160.  All the single season records on the back of the card still stand with the exception of home runs in a season.  The Cubs hit 235 home runs in 2004, eclipsing the 171 hit in 1930.

Most Home Runs - 235 in 2004
Most Runs Scored in One Game - 26 in 1922 and 1995
Additional Pennant Winning Teams - 1984, 1989, 2003, 2015
Additional World Championship Teams - N/A

The Cubs team card, along with the team cards for the Phillies and Indians, is available in three variations.  I have the "No Date - Centered Name" variation and the other two versions available are the "No Date - Left Name" and "1955" variations.

1955 Variation
No Year, Team Name at Left
1956 Season
The Cubs finished in last place in 1956 with a record of 60-94, 33 games behind the pennant winning Dodgers.  Shortstop Ernie Banks (#15) and right fielder Walt Moryn paced the offense.  Banks hit .297 with 28 home runs and 85 RBIs, beating out Moryn for the Cubs triple crown.  Bob Rush led the pitching staff with 13 wins.  Following the season, General Manager Wid Matthews resigned and the Cubs would not have a winning season again until 1963.

Cubs Cards That Never Were
I've always been very interested in the concept of "cards that never were" and my other blog, The Phillies Room, has been slowly tackling custom cards for the players who played for the Phillies but never appeared with the Phillies on a baseball card.  As I go through each team card from the 1956 Topps set, I'll highlight some of the team's players, managers or coaches omitted from the set.

For the Cubs, these are the 1956 Topps cards I'd like to see.
  • Stan Hack (manager) - Hack played 16 seasons with the Cubs between 1932 and 1947 and he was a four time All-Star.  He managed the team for three seasons (1954-1956) never finishing with a winning record and going 196-265 overall.
  • Pete Whisenant (center field) - Whisenant was the team's primary center fielder in 1956, splitting time with Solly Drake.  This was his only season with the Cubs as he was traded to the Reds in November 1956.  His rookie card (with the Reds) can be found in the 1957 Topps set.
  • Walt Moryn (right field) - Moryn enjoyed a break-out season in 1956, hitting .285 with 23 home runs.  He'd also appear in the 1957 Topps set.
  • Turk Lown (relief pitcher) - The team's closer in 1956, Lown saved 13 games but didn't receive a Topps card until 1957. 
  • Yosh Kawano (clubhouse manager) - The popular Kawano, featured on the team card, was with the Cubs from 1943 until his retirement in 2008.
  • Billy Williams (left field) - Certainly a stretch here, but the future Hall of Famer was signed as an amateur free agent in 1956.  He appeared in 13 games that season for the Ponca City Cubs of the Class D Sooner State League.
Sources:  
Baseball Reference
The Trading Card Database

Monday, November 30, 2015

#10 Warren Spahn - Milwaukee Braves


Warren Edward Spahn
Milwaukee Braves
Pitcher


Bats:  Left  Throws:  Left  Height:  6'0"  Weight:  172
Born:  April 23, 1921, Buffalo, NY
Signed:  Signed by the Boston Bees as an amateur free agent in 1940
Major League Teams:  Boston Braves 1942, 1946-1952; Milwaukee Braves 1953-1964; New York Mets 1965; San Francisco Giants 1965
Died:  November 24, 2003, Broken Arrow, OK (age 82)
Hall of Fame Induction:  1973

One of the greatest left-handed pitchers of all time, Warren Spahn enjoyed a 21-year career in the Major Leagues and his 363 wins are the most ever by a lefty.  He was a 14-time National League All-Star and he compiled 20-win seasons 13 times, including in 1963 at the age of 42.  Spahn was the National League Cy Young Award winner in 1957, the year he led the Milwaukee Braves to their only World Championship title.  He pitched no-hitters in 1960 and 1961 and he led the league in complete games seven years in a row between 1957 and 1963.

He missed three seasons (1943-1945) early in his career serving in World War II and he pitched professionally until he was 46 with the Triple-A Tulsa Oilers.  Following his playing days, Spahn managed the Tulsa Oilers (a Cardinals farm club) for five seasons and was the Indians pitching coach in 1972 and 1973.

Building the Set
September 8, 1990 in Vineland, NJ - Card #95
Dad and I attended a baseball card show at Vineland's Cumberland Mall in early September 1990, and this was our big purchase.  We paid $25 for the card at the beginning of my junior year in high school.

1990 and 1991, years in which I was a junior and then a senior in high school, saw us add the fewest amount of cards to our 1956 Topps set.  My records show we added just three cards in 1990 and another three cards in 1991.  Part of this has to do with the fact that I was a junior and senior in high school, otherwise occupied by typical teenage stuff.  The other part has to do with the fact that we were actively collecting other Topps sets from the 1970s at this point.

All while collecting the 1956 Topps set, Dad I compiled a complete 1975 set, followed by the 1974 and 1976 sets.  We then began the 1973 set followed by the 1970 set.  We hand collated these four sets during our "golden era" of collecting together between 1987 and 1997.  I finished off the 1972 set a few years back and I'm still plodding my way through a 1971 set in order to have a full run of sets from the 1970s.

I recently discussed with my eight-year-old son Doug the idea of the two of us collecting a vintage set together.  He's shown some interest in this 1956 Topps blog, and it makes me smile to think that one day he might be writing a similar blog discussing how he and I put together the 1965, 1966 or 1967 Topps set.

The Card
Spahn appears to be levitating in the clouds as he rises above the rafters of County Stadium.  The head shot on the front is the same used on his 1955 Topps card.  It's safe to assume the cartoon in the first panel featuring the scalps of Spahn's National League opponents would not appear on a modern-day baseball card.

1956 Season
Spahn's Braves were a year away from their World Series appearance, finishing second in the National League behind the Dodgers by just one game.  Spahn won 20 games to a 2.78 ERA, anchoring the Braves rotation that also consisted of 19-game winner Lew Burdette (#219) and 18-game winner Bob Buhl (#244).

The Braves had a chance to win the pennant on the final day of the regular season, but Spahn's 11+ inning performance went to waste as the Cardinals walked off with a 2-1 victory.  Rip Repulski's (#201) double off Spahn scored Stan Musial with the winning run, giving the Dodgers the pennant and causing Spahn to reportedly weep as he walked off the field.

1948 Bowman #18
1951 Topps Red Backs #30
1965 Topps #205
1973 Topps #449
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1948 Bowman #18
First Topps Card:  1951 Topps Red Backs #30
Last Topps Card (as a player):  1965 Topps #205
First Topps Card (as a coach):  1973 Topps #449
Most Recent Topps Card (post-career):  2010 Topps #20B SP
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2015 Topps Archives #170

861 - Spahn non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 11/29/15

Sources:  
Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
National Baseball Hall of Fame
SABR
The Trading Card Database

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

#9 Ruben Gomez - New York Giants


Ruben (Colon) Gomez
New York Giants
Pitcher


Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'0"  Weight:  170
Born:  July 13, 1927, Arroyo, Puerto Rico
Signed:  Signed by the New York Giants as an amateur free agent in 1953
Major League Teams:  New York Giants 1953-1957; San Francisco Giants 1958; Philadelphia Phillies 1959-1960; Cleveland Indians 1962; Minnesota Twins 1962; Philadelphia Phillies 1967
Died:  July 26, 2004, Carolina, Puerto Rico (age 77)

As pointed out in his SABR biography, Ruben Gomez was the second pitcher from Puerto Rico to reach the Major Leagues and the first to start and win a World Series game.  He faced off against the Indians in Game 3 of the 1954 World Series, allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings pitched.  Gomez is a legend in his native Puerto Rico, having played in parts of 29 seasons in the Puerto Rican Winter League between 1947 and 1977.

Known as "El Divino Loco," or the Divine Crazy, Gomez pitched for the Giants, Phillies (twice), Indians and Twins during his 10-year big league career between 1953 and 1967.

Building the Set
June 20, 1992 in Ocean City, NJ - Card #100
As I wrote in my post for the Elmer Valo (#3) card, this is one of 11 cards my Dad I bought in June 1992 at the Ocean City baseball card show held on the boardwalk at the Music Pier.  We paid $60 for the lot of 11 cards, which at the time was most likely a steal.  Chronologically, I have this listed as the 100th card we added to the set so it's a bit of a milestone card for us.

I would have just graduated high school when we attended this show, and I'd be heading off to college in the fall.  If I had to guess, I'd say we purchased this lot of 11 cards from a baseball card dealer who had a store called Diamond Dust.  His cards were always nicely displayed in binders and I remember his table would be positioned in the back right of the lower level of the Music Pier.

After purchasing these cards, Dad and I undoubtedly sat at the counter of Mack & Manco's, enjoying a few slices of pizza with birch beer.

The Card
That is most likely Gomez legging out a ground ball to first base in the action photo.  Everything I've read about Gomez indicated he was a speedy runner and not a bad hitter (for a pitcher).  The third panel on the back of the card says as much.  And it looks as if the photo was taken during one of the seven games Gomez pitched against the Braves in 1955.

Similar to the three cards before it, the Gomez portrait utilizes the same photo as his 1954 and 1955 Topps cards.

1956 Season
Gomez struggled in 1956, going 7-17 with a 4.58 ERA in 40 games for the Giants.  His SABR biography notes that Braves slugger Joe Adcock (#320) chased him off the field in a game on July 17th after getting hit by a pitch.

Phillies Career
The Phillies acquired Gomez and Valmy Thomas from the Giants on December 3, 1958 for Jack Sanford.  Gomez would appear in 42 games for the Phillies in 1959 and 1960, getting the starting nod in 13 of those games.  He'd go 3-11 with a 5.78 ERA in 124 2/3 innings pitched.  He was hampered by a knee injury suffered early in the 1959 season and he'd spend part of the 1960 season pitching for the Phillies Triple-A team in Buffalo and on loan to the Orioles' Triple-A team in Miami.

He appeared in just 19 games for Buffalo in 1961 and was sold to the Indians minor league team in Jacksonville following the season.  Gomez would make it back to Philadelphia in 1967 following three seasons in the Mexican League.  He appeared in seven early season games for the 1967 Phillies, earning him his final Topps card in the 1967 Topps set.

Gomez has Phillies cards in the 1959, 1960, 1961 and 1967 Topps sets.  He also has a card in the 1959 Jay Publishing Phillies photo card set.

1954 Topps #220
1959 Topps #535
1967 Topps #427
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1954 Topps #220
First Topps Card:  1954 Topps #220
Representative Phillies Card:  1959 Topps #535
Last Topps Card:  1967 Topps #427
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  1994 Topps Archives 1954 #220

35 - Gomez non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 11/24/15

Sources:  
Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
The Phillies Room
SABR
The Trading Card Database

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

#8 Walter Alston - Brooklyn Dodgers


Walter Emmons Alston
Brooklyn Dodgers
Manager


Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'2"  Weight:  195
Born:  December 1, 1911, Venice, OH
Signed:  Signed by the St. Louis Cardinals as an amateur free agent in 1935
Major League Teams:  St. Louis Cardinals 1936
As a Manager:  Brooklyn Dodgers 1954-1957; Los Angeles Dodgers 1958-1976
Died:  October 1, 1984, Oxford, OH (age 72)
Hall of Fame Induction:  1983

As a player, Walter Alston had one at-bat with the 1936 Cardinals, striking out against Cubs pitcher Lon Warneke.

In his 23 seasons managing the Dodgers, Alston led the team to seven National League pennants and four World Championships in 1955, 1959, 1963 and 1965.  Alston's Dodgers finished with winning records in 19 of those 23 seasons and his 2,040 wins as a manager led to his induction into the Hall of Fame in 1983.  The three-time National League Manager of the Year (1955, 1959 and 1963) was known for his use of statistical analysis and for signing 23 one-year contracts, eschewing any long-term deals with the Dodgers.

With a few games left in the 1976 season, Alston stepped down as the Dodgers manager, handing over the job to Tommy Lasorda who would manage the team until 1995.  Alston's #24 was retired by the Dodgers in 1977.

Building the Set
February 14, 1999 in Raleigh, NC - Card #178
I feel as if I probably overpaid for this card, paying $20 to a dealer at the Raleigh Sports Card & Memorabilia Show back in early 1999.  This was the only card from the 1956 Topps set I bought that day and I would have called back home to my Dad after the show to inform him of the purchase so that he could update his copy of our checklist.

I lived in Raleigh for a few years in the late '90s/early '00s, and the fact that I was attending a baseball card show on Valentine's Day speaks volumes as to my situation in 1999.

The Card
This is one of only two manager cards in the 1956 Topps set, with the other manager card belonging to the Phillies' Mayo Smith (#60).  Strangely enough, Topps saw fit to include one card for a coach, featuring Orioles coach Harry Brecheen (#229) in Series 3.  Here's a list of all the managers who could have had cards in the 1956 Topps set, in order of each team's finish in the 1955 season:

  • Dodgers - Walter Alston
  • Braves - Charlie Grimm (1955-56) or Fred Haney (1956)
  • Giants - Leo Durocher (1955) or Bill Rigney (1956)
  • Phillies - Mayo Smith 
  • Reds - Birdie Tebbetts
  • Cubs - Stan Hack
  • Cardinals - Eddie Stanky (1955), Harry Walker (1955) or Fred Hutchinson (1956)
  • Pirates - Fred Haney (1955) or Bobby Bragan (1956)
  • Yankees - Casey Stengel
  • Indians - Al Lopez
  • White Sox - Marty Marion
  • Red Sox - Pinky Higgins
  • Tigers - Bucky Harris
  • Athletics - Lou Boudreau
  • Orioles - Paul Richards
  • Senators - Chuck Dressen
There's an uncorrected error on the back of Alston's card, stating he had never played in a big league game as Topps overlooked his one game with the '36 Cardinals.  Alston's 1956 Topps card has been reprinted in both the 1995 Topps Archives Brooklyn Dodgers set (#141) and the 2001 Topps Archives set (#201).

1956 Season
At 44 years old, Alston was entering his third full season as manager of the Dodgers and his first season as the manager of a defending World Champion.  The Dodgers went 93-61 in 1956, winning the National League pennant but falling to the Yankees in the World Series in seven games.

1976 Topps #46
2001 Topps Archives #201
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1956 Topps #8
First Topps Card:  1956 Topps #8
Last Topps Card:  1976 Topps #46
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2015 Diamond Kings #139

191 - Alston non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 11/16/15

Sources:  
Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
National Baseball Hall of Fame
SABR
The Trading Card Database

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.

Not a bad looking first page!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

#7 Ron Negray - Philadelphia Phillies


Ronald Alvin Negray
Philadelphia Phillies
Pitcher


Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'1"  Weight:  185
Born:  February 26, 1930, Akron, OH
Signed:  Signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers as an amateur free agent in 1949
Major League Teams:  Brooklyn Dodgers 1952; Philadelphia Phillies 1955-1956; Los Angeles Dodgers 1958

Ron Negray is the first Phillie in the 1956 Topps set, although many Phillies fans might not be familiar with his name.  Negray sandwiched parts of two seasons with the Phillies in the mid-1950s in between stints with the Dodgers.  Used primarily in relief, Negray had respectable ERAs of 3.52 in 1955 and 4.19 in 1956.  He last appeared in the Majors in 1958, but he'd stick around in the minor league systems of the Dodgers, Indians, Braves and Angles through 1963.

Building the Set
December 18, 1994 in Winston-Salem, NC - Card #133
This was another college purchase and I bought this card from the first baseball card store I found in Winston-Salem, Tommy's Collectibles, which was relatively close to the Wake Forest campus.  A quick Google search turns up no hits for a Tommy's Collectibles in Winston-Salem so my assumption is that Tommy has taken his wares and moved on.  I remember Tommy (or a relative of Tommy) giving me a good-natured hard time during one visit because I was clearing him out of most of his Phillies cards.  In general, baseball card dealers in North Carolina found it puzzling that there were Phillies collectors out there.

December 18th is a strange date for me to be buying baseball cards.  The first semester of my junior year would have been drawing to a close and I would have had a car with me at this point in my college career.  My guess is that I swung by Tommy's before heading out on my 7 1/2 hour drive home.  I bought two 1956 Topps cards from Tommy on this day for $10 - this card and a card of fellow Phillie Herman Wehmeier (#78).  I most likely bundled these two cards together as a Christmas present for my Dad for what we joked was "His" collection.

The Card
I'm hoping someone reading this can confirm, but I believe the stadium facade in the background is from old Connie Mack Stadium.  This is Negray's rookie card and he'd have only one more major baseball card release in the following season's 1957 Topps set.

The first panel on the back refers to Negray's first season as a professional, pitching for the Dodgers' D Level team in Valdosta, Georgia.  He'd never reach 21 wins and 242 strikeouts again in his professional career.  The third panel references Negray's time with the St. Paul Saints which was the Dodgers Triple-A team at the time.

1956 Season
See below for a few details from Negray's 1956 season.

Phillies Career
Negray came to the Phillies in a trade with the Dodgers on June 7, 1955 for pitcher Dave Cole.  He made his Phillies debut a few weeks later, starting the first game of a double header against the Cubs on June 19th.  He'd bounce between a starting role and the bullpen for the duration of the 1955 season, finishing with a 4-3 record over 19 games.  In 1956, Negray was used mainly in relief, appearing in 39 games and pitching to a 4.19 ERA with 3 saves over 66 2/3 innings.  Only relievers Bob Miller (#334, 122 1/3 innings) and Jack Meyer (#269, 96 innings) saw more action out of the bullpen than Negray.

Prior to the 1957 season, Negray, along with a player to be named later (Ben Flowers), Melvin Geho, Tim Harkness and Elmer Valo (#3), was traded back to the Dodgers for shortstop Chico Fernandez.

1957 Topps #254
 
2006 Topps Heritage Real
One Autographs #ROA-RN
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1956 Topps #7
First Topps Card:  1956 Topps #7
Representative Phillies Card:  1956 Topps #7
Last Topps Card (as a player):  1957 Topps #254
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2006 Topps Heritage Real One Autographs #ROA-RN

11 - Negray non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 11/11/15

Sources:  
Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
Garvey Cey Russell Lopes
The Phillies Room
The Trading Card Database

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.

Monday, November 9, 2015

#6 Ray Boone - Detroit Tigers


Raymond Otis Boone
Detroit Tigers
Third Base

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'0"  Weight:  172
Born:  July 27, 1923, San Diego, CA
Signed:  Signed by the Cleveland Indians as an amateur free agent in 1942
Major League Teams:  Cleveland Indians 1948-1953; Detroit Tigers 1953-1958; Chicago White Sox 1958-1959; Kansas City Athletics 1959; Milwaukee Braves 1959-1960; Boston Red Sox 1960
Died:  October 17, 2004, San Diego, CA (age 81)

I'll admit that I know Ray Boone more because he's Bob Boone's Dad and not because of his 13 seasons in the big leagues.  But the elder Boone was a two-time All-Star and garnered A.L. MVP consideration in 1953, 1954 and 1955 when he tied for the league lead in RBIs with 116.  Playing most of his career with the Indians and Tigers, Boone starred on the Tigers teams of the mid-1950s along with Harvey Kuenn (#155) and Al Kaline (#20).

After his playing career ended, Boone served as a long-time scout for the Red Sox and two of his more notable Phillies-related signings were Curt Schilling and Todd Pratt.  Boone was in attendance at the 2003 All-Star Game in Chicago which featured his grandsons, Aaron and Bret Boone.

Building the Set
July 19, 1997 in Ocean City, NJ - Card #150
My Dad and I purchased this card along with the Warren Giles (#2) card and 9 others at the 1997 Ocean City baseball card show held on the boardwalk in the Music Pier.  My records show we paid $5 for this card and it was the second most expensive card we purchased that day behind the $10 paid for the Giles card.

The Card
I knew about Boone prior to purchasing this card as he appeared with his son Bob on the awesome Father & Son cards in both the 1976 and 1985 Topps sets.  I'm assuming the action photo on the front of the card is supposed to represent Boone sliding hard into second base.  The cartoon in the center panel references Briggs Stadium which was what Tiger Stadium was called between 1938 and 1960.

I'm going to start keeping track of this, as Boone joins the other first four player cards in the 1956 Topps set that feature portrait photos recycled from the 1954 and 1955 Topps sets.  I should also mention that this is the "white" backed Boone card and the first 180 cards from the set are available in either a white backed or gray backed version.  My Dad and I didn't realize this until we were well into collecting the set, and we came to the mutual agreement that we didn't really care if we added a white-backed or gray-backed card to our set.

Our only criteria was that the card had be in great shape - well-centered with sharp-ish corners and no front or back major surface blemishes.  This was more my Dad's rule than my rule, but looking at our set today I'm glad he set this standard.

1956 Season
Boone made his second All-Star team with the Tigers in 1956, and he'd finish the season with a .308 average, 25 home runs and 81 RBIs.  This season was to be his last as a starting third baseman, as he'd move over to first base to start the 1957 season.

Phillies Connection
Boone's son Bob began his 19-year Major League career with the Phillies in 1972, and he was behind the plate when Tug McGraw struck out Willie Wilson to give the Phillies their first World Championship title in 1980.  I believe the image to the right was taken during an Old Timers game in the late 1970s at Veterans Stadium and it features the three generations of Boone's who had or would play in the Majors.  (I think I first saw this photo in a Phillies Yearbook, and I was definitely confused by the older guy wearing a Phillies hat with a Red Sox jersey.)

1951 Bowman #54
1951 Topps Red Backs #23
1960 Topps #281
1976 Topps #67
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1951 Bowman #54
First Topps Card:  1951 Topps Red Backs #23
Last Topps Card (as a player):  1960 Topps #281
Representative Phillies Card:  1976 Topps #67 (with Bob Boone)
Most Recent Topps Card (post-career):  1985 Topps #133 (with Bob Boone)
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2006 SP Legendary Cuts #94

I'm also going to be keeping track of players in the 1956 set who appear in Topps flagship sets following their playing careers.  Boone is the first player so far to make it into a Topps set from the 1980s.

71 - Boone non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 11/5/15

Sources:  
Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
SABR
The Trading Card Database

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

#5 Ted Williams - Boston Red Sox


Theodore Samuel Williams
Boston Red Sox
Outfield


Bats:  Left  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'3"  Weight:  205
Born:  August 30, 1918, San Diego, CA
Signed:  Signed by the Boston Red Sox as an amateur free agent in 1936
Major League Teams:  Boston Red Sox 1939-1942, 1946-1960
As a Manager:  Washington Senators 1969-1971; Texas Rangers 1972
Died:  July 5, 2002, Inverness, FL (age 83)
Hall of Fame Induction:  1966

Known affectionately throughout his career as The Kid, Teddy Ballgame and the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams is one of the greatest hitters of all-time.  Other than his rookie campaign of 1939, his years serving in World War II (1943-1945) and his first year in Korea (1952), Williams was named to the A.L. All-Star team every year he was active, making the club 17 times.  The A.L. MVP in 1946 and 1949, Williams is the last player to hit over .400 in a single season when he hit .406 in 1941.  His Hall of Fame plaque notes he was named Player of the Decade for the 1950s.

Williams is one of four players to appear in the 1956 Topps set and be elected to baseball's Hall of Fame in the 1960s, along with Jackie Robinson (#30) and Bob Feller (#200, both 1962) and Roy Campanella (#101, 1969).

Building the Set
Mom & Me - Christmas 1993

December 25, 1993 from San Diego, CA - Card #122
This card is behind only the Hank Aaron (#31) and Mickey Mantle (#135) cards in terms of the most money spent on any single card for our set.  Dad (Santa) left this Williams card under the Christmas tree for me on Christmas morning, 1993.  He purchased the card from Kit Young Cards in San Diego and to hear him tell the tale, he fiercely negotiated the price down to $135.  Dad loved bragging that he "Talked to Kit himself" when purchasing this card since it was such a major purchase.  "Talked right to Kit about the price.  Told him we were building the set and I talked right to him."

I don't have a picture of my Dad and me together from this Christmas, but I'd be remiss if I didn't point out from time to time that my Mom also played a large role in us collating this set.  My Dad would have been the one hesitant to spend $135 on a piece of cardboard, even if it had Ted Williams on it.  My Mom would have been the one telling him to go for it.

Our card has a minor ding on the top left corner, but otherwise it's in fantastic shape.  I also received the Jim Konstanty card (#321) on this Christmas morning, and I'm not ashamed to admit I have no memory of adding the Konstanty card to our set.  The Williams card far overshadowed it.

This was the 122nd card we added to the set and in terms of Big, big-ticket cards remaining, this left us with only the Aaron and Sandy Koufax (#79) cards to track down.

The Card
Williams had an exclusive contract with Bowman up until 1954, and he was omitted from the first three years' of Topps sets.  Making his first Topps appearance in their 1954 set (twice), Topps recycled the same portrait photo used on his second 1954 Topps card for the 1955 and 1956 Williams cards.  I always found it a little odd that Topps chose to use an action photo of Williams showing him appearing to be watching a pop-up. And I'll check for this on future cards, but I don't recall Topps spotlighting any other player autographs like they did for Williams with the white cloudy background making his signature easier to see.

The cartoon on the back in the first panel actually resembles Williams and states simply (and accurately), "Ted is one of baseball's all-time greats."

1956 Season
Williams was 37 entering the 1956 season and he showed no signs of slowing down.  In 136 games for the Red Sox, he hit .345 and led the majors with a .479 OBP, drawing 102 walks.  He hit 24 home runs with 82 RBIs.  At season's end, he was still the active career home run leader with 418, trailed by Stan Musial who had 352.

1939 Play Ball #92
1954 Topps #1
1958 Topps #1
1972 Topps #510
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1939 Play Ball #92
First Topps Card:  1954 Topps #1
Last Topps Card (as a player):  1958 Topps #1
First Topps Card (as a manager):  1969 Topps #650
Last Topps Card (as a manager):  1972 Topps #510
Most Recent Topps Card (post-career):  1976 Topps #347 ATG
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2015 Topps Tape Measure Blasts #TMB-14

Apparently Williams was a big fan of signing exclusive contracts with a single baseball card manufacturer.  He doesn't appear in the 1959, 1960 or 1961 Topps sets as he had signed a deal with Fleer.  He returned to Topps with four manager cards with the Washington Senators/Texas Rangers and he made an appearance in the 1976 Topps subset celebrating the all-time greats.

2,129 - Williams non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 11/2/15

Sources:  
Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
National Baseball Hall of Fame
SABR
The Trading Card Database

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.