Monday, December 29, 2008

1957 Topps - A Favorite

There are several reasons why I consider the 1957 Topps set one of my favorites. It is the first team set in my collection. Although I have a couple dozen Bowman and Topps from the early '50's, the 1957 set is the first that I have made a serious effort to finish. It is the first year that I actually recognize the names of players that I saw play or heard about on the radio. I certainly remember the four that are shown above. The standard 3.5" by 2.5" card dimensions started that year. That was certainly a needed innovation. I also like the design of the cards. They are much better than the cartoonish ones that preceded them. They don't have the high tech look of modern cards, but they do have a design that is similar to a modern one.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Woody or Woodie

The first Indians shortstop that I remember was George Strickland. He just barely kept his BA above the Mendoza line, before there actually was a Mendoza. The next shortstop I remember was one of my all-time favorites: Woody Held. Woody played beside third baseman Bubba Phillips. They were a pair, Woody and Bubba. And then in the outfield we had Rocky and Tito. Even after 50 years, I can still remember those great names. Woody's full name was Woodson George Held. Apparently, Topps didn't know if he went by Woody or Woodie. Notice that in 1961 they spelled it "Woodie" and all the other years "Woody". Woody liked to have his picture taken wearing his batting helmet. He is actually wearing the exact same one for the 1962 and 1963 cards. He usually hit about .250 with 20 homers.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

1981 Minor League sets

These cards come from my oldest minor league sets from 1981. The Batavia Trojans and the Chattanooga Lookouts. Browsing through these old sets, it becomes quite obvious why the Indians had such terrible teams in the eighties, no farm system. That also helps explain why Tribe collectors can put together massive collections of cards at reasonable cost - there are very few star cards that need to be purchased. These sets were printed by TCMA. My first few sets from them have similar black and white photos with red borders. In 1982, some of their sets started having color photos. I have nine TCMA sets in my collection from the early '80's, until ProCards took over the minor league market. The TCMA cards, although simple designs, are all attractive. They avoided the garish designs that are found on many of the ProCard sets.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A few Akron Aeros cards

I have eight sets of Akron Aeros cards. All were printed by Multi-Ad Sports. Starting in 1998 with Russell Branyan, I have shown one card from each set. I picked Dustan Mohr from the 1999 set, not because he ever played for the Tribe, but because he played for the Crimson Tide while my daughter was getting her accounting degree at the University of Alabama. CC was at Akron in 2000 and Jason Stanford in 2001. Jared Wright was in the 5th Anniversary set also in 2001. Then Victor for 2002, Grady in 2003 and Kevin Kouzmanoff in 2006. I think it's a shame when a guy is the first player in history to hit a grand slam on his first major league pitch and then gets traded. Especially when Barfield has been such a disappointment.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A minor league gem

I ran across this card in my Class A notebook a while back and thought it was unique. It shows Ty Kovach pitching for the Watertown Indians in 1989. Note the camera is behind home plate, the pitcher is in full sun and the batter, catcher and umpire are in the shade. I don't think I have ever seen another card with this composition. You just don't see this camera work coming from Topps, Upper Deck or Fleer!

I had a secondary motive for showing this card: I wanted to try adding images to my blog and see how the mechanics worked.

I don't know much about Ty Kovach, but I assume he never made it to the big leagues.

My First Baseball Cards

My grandmother was born in a farming village outside of Budapest, Hungary in 1888. She immigrated to the USA in 1912, living first in Chicago and then Cleveland. One day in 1961, she noticed that there were baseball cards printed on the back of a box of Post cereal. She knew I played Little League baseball, so she saved the box and gave it to me. At age ten, I was hooked on baseball cards immediately. I lived two miles from my grandparents' farm and visited them almost daily. I also had an aunt and uncle living next door and another aunt and uncle living across the street, so I quickly told them how great Post cereal was, and asked them to save the empty boxes for me. I can still somewhat remember that first panel of seven cards: Jim Coates, Ken Hamlin, Ed Bressoud, Haywood Sullivan for sure, then maybe John Callison and Vada Pinson. The last one might have been Tony Taylor or Jerry Kendall. The next box of cereal that I got, had the exact same seven players. I quickly alerted all my relatives to try to check the back of the box to get different players! Meanwhile, I cut my two sets of identical cards out and played the matching game, "Concentration", with them. I no longer have those cards, but at a card show in Virginia, in the mid-1980's, I saw a vendor with the same uncut panel for an outlandish price. Whenever I see Post cereal cards, I think of that first panel and fondly remember my grandmother.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Welcome to Bluegrass Smoke Signals

Welcome to the first posting to my first blog. The main topic will be my collection of Cleveland Indians baseball cards. I started collecting in 1986. My collection goes back to 1957, when the standard 3.5" by 2.5" card size was adopted. I started entering my cards in an Access database in 1998 and reached 2600 different major league cards. I haven't updated it in 10 years, so I don't know how many cards I now own. Since I have over 80 minor league sets, I would guess I have 7000 to 8000 total cards, all in sheets in three ring binders.

I'm still learning all the available tools to use while blogging, so hopefully as time goes by, you will see more and more features added to my posts, such as pictures of some of my favorite cards and of my family.

I am a retired chemical engineer, living in Georgetown, Kentucky. I was born in Cleveland in 1950 and have been a Tribe fan ever since my first trip to the Stadium in 1959 to see Mudcat Grant beat the Washington Senators 6-1.