Wednesday, June 1, 2011

1999 Workman Publishing Baseball Tarot

As I am oft to do, I randomly searched Amazon for baseball-related material.  I don't quite remember the combination of terms that led me here, but I found myself intrigued and perplexed by an offer for something called, "Baseball Tarot."  I believe it cost me five bucks.  Maybe not even that much.  Brand new.

I will say the packaging is quite ingenious.  The whole thing comes a thick fold-out arrangement with the book (with which to interpret the cards) on one side (it can be removed for easier reading) and the deck of 78 cards on the other.  Since this was new, I had to remove the celophane from the package and from the cards.

I know very little to nothing about tarot, other than I know one shuffles the cards, deals them, then flips them over in a certain arrangement in order to decipher one's future - or something.  I dunno.  Anyway, this is the same thing, but relates the entire process to baseball.  I found the tie-in quite clever and amusing. 

The cards are divded into two "sections" or "categories" for lack of better words - "The Majors" and "The Minors."  The majors contain cards depicting "The Rookie," "The Legend," "The Manager," etc.  The Minors are further broken down into "suits:" The Suit of Balls, The Suit of Bats, etc.  Each card has a baseball-related term (or terms) associated with it and those terms are then parlayed into life lessons: Error, Triple Play, Home Run, Shake Off... 

As you can see, the cards are quite a bit bigger than a standard card (shown by the 1987 O-Pee-Chee Dennis Lamp above).

The book is very well thought out, I have to admit.  I really expected some goofy baseball tie-in, and though there is certainly some of that in the book, much of it actually can be applied to baseball and life (in terms of the writing and organization. What you do with the actual readings is in your hands, as it were).  For example, when laying out the cards, one can employ a "Ball, Strike, Out" or a "Who, What, I Dunno" or a myriad of other baseball-related scenarios.  Each scenario is explained for the person wishing to partake in a reading.

How one interprets each card is also related to baseball: Are you ahead of the count or behind it when the card is drawn?  Are you in the ballpark?  What's the signal? and so forth...

Though I don't give a rip (pun intended, after all we are talking about a "pack" of cards here) about tarot readings and the like, I think the tie-in to America's pasttime was (is) very well executed in this little package.  For the novelty alone, it was worth the five bucks I spent.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Follow My Career...

I recently made a trip to my local card shop. The owners are nice enough to put up with my hours of searching for Bip Roberts, Don Mossi, Dick Pole, Pete LaCock, and Rowland Office cards. They also, on occasion, will set aside cards that they think I might appreciate.

They knocked it out of the park on my last visit. After searching through a box of '60s commons, in an attempt to fill out my Don Mossi collection, a stack of cards were set in front of me.

Quite possibly the most amazing stack of cards... EVER!

Thirty well-worn cards from 1958, and one from 1959 were in my hands. It was easy to see that the original owner genuinely cared for these players. Not the cards... but rather, the players on the cards. On each card, the owner carefully traced the progression of the player's career in ball-point pen. Most of the players on the cards are tracked through the 1961 season.

 As you can see from the example above, this kid was pretty thorough. As you can see, Lou (The Nervous Greek) Skizas was picked up by the White Sox (in the 1958 Rule 5 draft), he then played for Bermingham (sic) and Charleston in '58. The tracking ends with Seattle (1959). At some point, he played a little third base.

Imagine how tough it was to follow all the transactions without the internet! I will forgive that the kid missed stops in Nashville, Macon, Indianapolis, Mexico City, and Denver. He did catch Havana, Cubans (couldn't find it on Baseball Reference), Sugar (Was it a lesser known nickname?), and I'm not quite sure what is written under "Sugar" (could it be an attempt at spelling "Rainiers"?)

Pretty impressive...

It gets better.

Joseph Paul Lonnett was signed by the Phillies in 1948. This card shows some of the places he hung his hat starting with the 1958 season. In the middle of the season, he was traded to the Milwaukee Braves. He didn't play for the Braves in '58, but did play for Wichita.

Then it gets CRAZY!

In May of 1959, he was traded by the Milwaukee Braves with Earl Hersh to the Detroit Tigers for Al Paschal (minors) and Charlie Lau. I'd have to do some more research to be sure why, but the players were all returned to original teams on THE SAME DAY! It seems Joe refused to report to his new team. (Did he kill the trade?)

That explains the MILWAUKEE BRAVE and MILWAUKEE.

In June of '59 the Phillies bought him back from the Braves. In '59 he played for the Phillies, Louisville, and Buffalo.

1960 brought him back to Philadelphia and Buffalo, so that explains the BUFFALO (x2). 

DALLAS FORT WORTH, the SENATORS, CHARLESTON, and Little Rock can not be verified by Baseball Reference... BUT I'm gonna say that this kid knew something they don't.

I have 29 more gems like this that I will share between here and my blog over the next few weeks.

The Well Loved Card Was Almost Mine

I don't own a 1948 Leaf card. Not yet, at least. The only card I have before 1950 is a 1933 World Wide Gum card of Ralph Kress. I spotted this beauty on eBay and put in a token bid. I half expected to be outbid for this card, but I had a sliver of hope that the appalling condition of the card may scare other prospective buyers off. This is nothing more than a filler card. But that filler card is a vintage Luke Appling.

The card has multiple creases, frayed edges, writing in two different colored inks... it was amazing. As outstanding as this card is, I wasn't going to pay more than a few bucks for it. There love for a well worn card and there's reality. For as much character as this card has, it's not worth getting into a bidding war.

If you squint closely at the card, you can see that someone filled in the left side of the card with red ink. I have taken it upon myself to deduce that the seven "X"s that line the top represent his seven All-Star appearances. Although, I could be reading more into it than was ever there to begin with.

Ah, but what would a colorful card front be without a back? A previous owner of this card came to the conclusion that Lucius (Luke) Appling was "good". That may be a bit of an understatement.
I tried, but I refuse to pay anything more than my maximum bid. Another card will come up. It always does.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

1980 Donruss Prototypes

Topps monopoly over baseball cards was starting to crumble by the late seventies. Donruss and Fleer were both starting to make headway into the hobby, but they would still need a court decision to turn in their favor.

In anticipation to the late 1980 court ruling, Donruss made prototypes for cards, so they weren't caught off guard by a quick decision.

Donruss created three different prototypes. One of Reggie Jackson, one of George Brett and one of a blank card.

As you can see, this design is in line with the first official baseball sets from Donruss. There are bright primary colors and lots of precise lines. Donruss took so much care in this prototype, that the pictures look better than some of the pictures actually used in the 1981 set.

In fact, Donruss liked the picture of George Brett so much that they used it on two different cards in the 1981 set. Donruss used a cropped version of Reggie Jackson's prototype picture of one of his three cards in the 1981 set.

The most amazing aspect of the 1980 Donruss prototype is how similar it appears compared to the 1980 Topps set. Both feature flags wrapped around the top and bottom of the card and a large area for a picture.

Below is an uncut sheet of all three prototypes.