Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Army's computer used to predict 1957 BAs

I'm going to introduce today's topic with a couple of paragraphs lifted from elsewhere on the internet. Each is slightly edited.

This description comes from the CED Magic site: 

RCA introduced the Bizmac computer in 1956. It was the company's first computer with commercial potential. Initially it was installed for military use, as in the above picture where Arthur Malcarney of RCA explains the control panel to Brig. General Nelson Lynde of the Army Ordnance Tank-Automotive Command in Detroit. The army purchased the $4 million machine containing 25,000 vacuum tubes for inventory management. 

This appears on ACM Digital Library site:

The RCA BIZMAC computer was developed as a major element of the RCA BIZMAC system which was primarily intended to handle cyclical accounting, such as inventory control, as employed at the Ordnance Tank and Automotive Command in Detroit, Mich. The design also permitted  the computer to be used in areas other than cyclical accounting; e.g., digital system simulation and statistical analysis.

The Bizmac was hot stuff in its day, as it $4 million price tag attests. As mentioned, the Army bought the first system to keep track of its two billion spare parts for tanks.

The system was written up in all the popular scientific magazines of the day, and probably was also thoroughly covered in scientific journals and periodicals for military wonks.

So what's the connection to a baseball blog? 

In an effort to showcase computer power in a way that the average Joe Taxpayer could understand, prior to the 1957 baseball season, somebody put Bizmac to work predicting major league batting averages for a dozen star players in the upcoming season.

Statistics from the previous five seasons were fed into Bizmac. After what was no doubt hours, if not days, of numbers crunching, the computer made it predictions. The numbers were reported in several periodicals, including The Sporting News' March 20 issue.

This chart lists the players' computed averages, their actual marks for 1957, and the variance.

Player                        Bizmac    Actual   Difference
Mickey Mantle          .342           .365        +23
Richie Ashburn         .328          .297        (31)
Ted Williams            .322          .388        +66
Harvey Kuenn           .319          .277        (42)
Minnie Minoso         .317           .310        (7) 
Carl Furillo                .314           .306       (8)
Ray Boone               .313           .273        (40)
Nellie Fox                 .309           .317        +8
Stan Musial              .305           .351       +46
Ted Kluszewski       .304           .274        (30)
Duke Snider            .302           .268        (34)
Yogi Berra               .297           .251        (46)

The average deviation between the computer's prediction and the actual 1957 stats was 10.12%. The composite average of Bizmac's predictions was .316. The actual 1957 marks came to an average of .305; Bizmac overestimated the players' performance by just under 3.5%. I'm horrible at math, so I have no idea how to analyze Bizmac's performance. 

Today, I'm sure that there's an app on the iPhone that could do as good a job--for whatever that's worth. 
No, that not the Bizmac computer on the desk in the foreground.
Bizmac is down the right-hand side, as far as the eye can see.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ballplayers gets the best babes: Part 6

Continuing with my periodical presentation of vintage photos amassed over 30+ years in the sportscard publishing world is this selection of photos of baseball players with their wives, fiancees, girlfriends or others. 

I presented groupings of similar photos almost exactly a year ago, in my blog of 9/9/11, and other groupings on Sept. 10, Oct. 2,  Oct. 6 and Oct. 16 of this year. This presentation contains some of a large grouping of similarly themed press photos that were collected over the years by former colleague Tom Mortenson, who was a long-time editor of Sports Collectors Digest.

Pictures of players and their babes were common in decades past. It's not something you see much today.

I'll again present the pictures chronologically. 

Here's Ted Williams with the first of his three wives, Doris Soule. The photo is undated. The couple was married 1944-1955. She was the daughter of Williams' hunting guide.

The marriage of All-American University of California football star and future N.Y. Yankee Jackie Jensen and Zoe Ann Olson, who medaled in diving at the 1948 and 1952 Olympics, was something of royal wedding in the sports world in 1949.

The couple is shown with their pet Pomeranian (?) in this photo, that looks to have been taken around the time of their wedding. The couple was divorced in 1968.

Another ballplayer that married a beauty queen was Harvey Kuenn. He was a multi-sport star athlete in his hometown of Milwaukee, Wis., and at the University of Wisconsin before signing as a bonus baby with the Detroit Tigers in 1952.

On Halloween in 1955, he married Dixie Ann Sarchet, who had been Miss Wisconsin in 1954.

This is a photo of Rocky Colavito and his wife, the former Carmen Perroti. While the background has been airbrushed away, I'm guessing from the program in their hands that the photo was taken at the 1954 World Series between the Indians and Giants. Colavito had spent 1954 with the Indians' Class AAA farm team at Indianapolis and led the American Association with 38 home runs. He was called up to the majors in 1955.

The couple was married in 1954 is still married today. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Early's dirty trick put out Pat Seerey

Uncommon commons: In more than 30 years in sportscards publishing I have thrown hundreds of notes into files about the players – usually non-star players – who made up the majority of the baseball and football cards I collected as a kid. Today, I keep adding to those files as I peruse microfilms of The Sporting News from the 1880s through the 1960s. I found these tidbits brought some life to the player pictures on those cards. I figure that if I enjoyed them, you might too.

             There’s probably a rule against it now, but in a game on July 26, 1946, Cleveland Indians outfielder Pat Seerey was having a bad day . . . and it got worse.

            Seerey had already struck out twice against Washington Senators pitcher Mickey Haefner and the home crowd at Municipal Stadium was booing him when he came up late in the game. But Seerey made contact and sent a dribbler down the third-base line.

            As Seerey raced towards first base, Senators catcher Jake Early called, “Foul ball. Foul.”

            Seerey stopped in his tracks and headed back to home plate. The Senators third baseman threw the ball to first.

            As Seerey took his stance anew at the plate, home plate umpire Cal Hubbard said, “I’m sorry, but you’re out.”

            “You called that a foul ball,” Seerey protested. “I didn’t say a thing,” said the ump, “That was Jake Early.”

            The Indians lost the game 5-4.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Collecting colorful Christmas Club checks

While preparing a group of vintage Christmas Club checks for sale on eBay beginning this week, I worked up this history of the genre. 

In the paper money hobby, the word “Christmas” usually evokes visions of Santa Claus notes; that handful of obsolete currency designs that incorporate vignettes of the Victorian-era St. Nick.
            With four-figure price tags the norm for surviving specimens, such a Christmas collectible is out of the reach of most of us.
            An attractive, and surprisingly challenging yet affordable, alternative for a collector in the holiday spirit might be Christmas Club checks. Often colorfully Christmas-themed, these checks can often be found in dealer stocks and on-line shopping venues for just a few dollars each.
            They offer a nostalgic look at a time when banks were a hometown, if not a neighborhood, institution and the end of the year was the Christmas season, rather than the Holiday season.
            Begun more than a century ago, and reaching their popularity peak in the 1960s, Christmas Club savings accounts were designed to entice savers – particularly youthful savers – to make regular deposits throughout the year with an eye towards withdrawing the balance during the holiday season for the purpose of gift buying.
            Left unsaid in the promotion for such accounts was that they were largely there to safeguard your money – from yourself. With even small amounts set aside each week, it was beyond the reach of temptation to spend it during the course of the year.
            The banks generally offered interest rates comparable to regular savings accounts, despite the incrementally higher costs of maintaining these low-dollar, short-term accounts. Lower interest rates, or even no-interest returns were not unheard of, and most programs assessed a hefty penalty for withdrawal earlier than the specified redemption date, which might be as early as Nov. 1, or as late as mid-December.
            A small gift was often offered as an enticement to enroll in the Christmas Club. Colorful lithographed cardboard Santa Claus ornaments seem to have been a popular come-on. Also common were Christmas-themed ink blotters and desk or pocket calendars.
            The first known such program is believed to have been the Carlisle (Pa.) Trust Company’s “Christmas Savings Fund” in 1909. It drew 350 participants whose average account balance as the Christmas shopping season arrived was $28.
            By the early 1920s, some banks were issuing tokens “Good for 25c in opening a Christmas account”. Such pieces are known from the Dime Savings Bank of Toledo, the First National Bank of Hazleton, Pa., and, undoubtedly, others.
            The earliest themed Christmas Club checks seems to date from the 1920s, with the use of such collectible paper petering out in the 1960s.
As Main Street banking has given way to large interstate and international conglomerates, and interest rates on most savings accounts have drifted down to insignificant, Christmas Clubs at banks are little known today. The costs of maintaining such small accounts has made them unattractive to big banking.
Today, credit unions are the principal promoters of Christmas Club accounts; their national association recently indicated 72% of credit unions offer such a savings plan. The Washington, D.C., Capital Communications Credit Union had 3,500 Christmas Club members in 1984, to whom checks had to be printed, signed and mailed. They found that 70% of the checks were returned to be deposited in another account.
            Regular thrifty deposits have given way to credit cards to fund holiday spending. The annual New Year’s reminder to open a new Christmas Club account has been replaced by whopping January credit card statements.
Collectible Christmas Club checks and related ephemera are a good way to recall Christmas the way it was in decades gone by.   


Monday, October 22, 2012

Canadian stamps and stuff honoring CFL, Grey Cup

One of my major assignments over the nearly five years I worked for Whitman Publishing was the compilation of a catalog/price guide of Canadian coins.

Throughout that period I immersed myself in both historical issues of the past and the current coin issues.

As a sports collector, I was especially interested in the many and varied commemorative coins issued by the Royal Canadian Mint. There have been dozens of coins issued to honor the NHL, its Canadian teams and even individual skaters in recent decades.

By and large, however, these special coins and sets have been little noticed in the sports hobby -- at least in the U.S. Similarly, football fans in the U.S. have never shown much interest in the Canadian Football League, even when the NFL was on strike.

Most (I didn't) didn't know that 2012 will mark the 100th playing for the Grey Cup, symbolic of the CFL championship.

Today I received a letter from a collector in Calgary that was franked with a pair of stamps honoring Lui Passaglia, the best kicker in CFL history, and Geroy Simon, another BC Lion standout.

The stamp is part of an eight-piece set issued in August that features a color foreground image of one of the greats from each current team in the CFL, against a black-and-white background photo representing a key moment in the team's history.

Player selection is, naturally enough, Canadian oriented, though each of the featured players starred in the U.S. at the college level. Only one of those players ever played in the NFL, Michael "Pinball" Clemons, who was with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1987.

Here's a list of the stamps in the Grey Cup series.

Geroy Simon (Maryland) British Columbia Lions
Tom Wilkinson (Wyoming) Edmonton Eskimos
"Thumper" Wayne Harris (Arkansas) Calgary Stampeders
George Reed (Washington State) Saskatchewan Roughriders
Ken Ploen (Iowa, 1957 Rose Bowl MVP) Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Danny McManus (Florida State) Hamilton Tiger Cats
Michael "Pinball" Clemons (William and Mary) Toronto Argonauts
Anthony Calvillo (Utah State) Alouettes de Montreal

There is also a stamp picturing the Grey Cup itself. Besides the individual stamps, which are designated as "Perpetual" first class postage, currently 61 cents within Canada, there is a line of team logo stamps, postcards, sets and stamp/coin sets that include a 25-cent coin with the team logo.

I looked over the Canada Post web site (http://www.canadapost.ca/shop/shop.jsf?execution=e1s1) briefly, but didn't quickly find information as to whether or how the stamps and gift items could be ordered directly from the U.S., but I'm sure there are lots of sellers on the internet offering the items. 

Information on the many current offerings of Canadian coins with CFL or other sports themes can be found at http://www.mint.ca/store/buy/sports--entertainment_coins-cat210014 .

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Out of town . . . new stuff to come next week

I'm currently out of town, without access to my regular computer, files, etc.

I'm not savvy enough to be able to get pictures posted to the blog from my remote location/computer.

When I get back in the middle of next week, I'll have some fun new stuff for the blog. I've been spending a lot of time with my Sporting News microfilm gathering material.

See you in a week.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Gun publisher bans guns in building

During my tenure with Krause Publications (now F+W Media) I was involved in the early 1990s with the acquisition and integration into the company of Gun List, a classified-ad newspaper for firearms hobbyists and collectors. 

I was publisher of the title and a growing outdoors division for several years.

Even though I never saw my father with a gun in his hand -- except a German Luger in a picture in his World War II photo album that showed him in a "liberated" German officer's cap with a sword in the other hand -- I   have had since childhood an interest in guns and the shooting sports (though I've never been a hunter). 

That interest probably stemmed from the Westerns that were ubiquitous on television in the 1950s and 1960s and a steady diet of war movies on late night TV.

So I enjoyed my time as publisher of the firearms periodicals and books at KP, and got to do some travel to large gun shows around the country, expanding my own collection of usable clones of historic guns.

F+W still publishes a line of firearms books and periodicals today. Some years back they acquired the iconic Gun Digest brand and continues to publish books with that cachet. Gun List was re-named Gun Digest and is now published in magazine format 32 times a year. The company also publishes Tactical Gear magazine.

I find it ironic, therefore, that every door on the company's facility here in Iola, Wis., carries a "No Firearms" notice.

When Wisconsin became the 49th state to "allow" its citizens to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights, the enabling legislation gave property owners the right to forbid entry of armed persons to their premises. 

Gun Digest has always editorially opposed unreasonable restrictions on lawful citizens bearing arms, so the hypocrisy of its publisher denying this avenue of self-defense to its employees is particularly galling.

Most of the recent spree shootings by gun-toting crazies and political/religious extremists in our country have occurred in self-declared gun-free zones, where they knew the chances of encountering armed resistance were negligible. 

I'm frankly surprised that we haven't heard about lawsuits being brought by victims and surviving family against those who banned legitimate concealed carry in their venues, while failing to provide protection from law-breakers.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ballplayers get the best babes -- Part 5

Continuing with my periodical presentation of vintage photos amassed over 30+ years in the sportscard publishing world is this selection of photos of baseball players with their wives, fiancees, girlfriends or others. 

I presented groupings of similar photos almost exactly a year ago, in my blog of 9/9/11, and other groupings on Sept. 10 and Oct. 2  and Oct. 6 of this year.

Pictures of players and their babes were common in decades past. It's not something you see much today.

Check out this photo of Mrs. Babe Ruth in a fur (presumably mink) coat. 

I'm not sure which Mrs. Babe Ruth this is. I'm guessing, from the style of the hat, that it was his first wife, Helen, whom he married in 1914.

This is a photograph from the noted baseball photographer Paul Thompson. 

Penciled on back is: "First Game of World's Series / Mrs. Babe Ruth blowing a pig balloon".

Again, basing it on the clothes, I'd guess this to be 1921-23. 

By the mid-1920s, Helen had left the Babe and was living with a dentist  in Massachusetts. She died in a house fire there in 1929. 

The next photo pictures Mr. and Mrs. Mort Cooper; she's the second Mrs. Cooper. The pitcher had divorced his first wife, Bernadine, in 1945. On May 16, 1946, he married Viola Dee Smallwood.

Cooper pitched that night for the Boston Braves and lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 9-8. Cooper gave up six hits (including a pair of home runs to Enos Slaughter) and five runs in six innings of work. He walked three and struck out two. 

The most recent of this trio of photos pictures Yankees first baseman Eddie Robinson at Yankees Stadium on Oct. 3, 1955, prior to the sixth game of the World Series.

The AP Wirephoto caption reads:

Yankees' first baseman Eddie Robinson poses with his bride-to-be, Bette Farlow, 23, of Staten Island, New York, before today's Series game. Eddie was hoping Bette would bring luck to the Yankees who trail Dodgers 3-2 in current Series. They plan to wed right after Series ends.

New York did beat Brooklyn that day, 5-1, tying the Series before losing the next day.

Though he had hit .667 in three at-bats earlier in the series, Robinson didn't appear in Game 6 or Game 7.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pretty Pictures: More ballplayer filmmakers

The umbrella identifier for this on-going presentation is "Pretty Pictures." That was the title of a 1930s book of cartoons by Otto Soglow that I read and reread as a child. These photos represent the gleanings of 30+ years of throwing pictures into files during my days as a sports collector, writer, editor and publisher. 

On my blog on Sept. 25, I presented a selection of modern baseball cards showing players using cameras.

On a related note on Oct. 4 were a trio of pictures from my photo files showing ballplayers behind the camera.

Today, courtesy former SCD editor and fellow Milwaukee Braves fan, area handful more photos showing ballplayers behind the camera.

The earliest of this quartet is this undated photo of Ted Williams working a movie camera. There is no indication of date, but Williams appears rather young in the photo. I'd guess 1940s.

Also undated are these photos of pitcher Warren Spahn, goofing around with a teammate whom I can't identify and a movie camera.

The World Series in 1957 or 1958 would have been the occasion for Braves' shortstop Johnny Logan to be filming Yankees' catcher Yogi Berra. Judging from the pinstripes on Berra's uniform, the action must have been taking place in Yankee Stadium.

Judging from the bunting around the rail in Milwaukee County Stadium, this picture of Braves' catchers Del Crandall (with camera) and Del Rice (pointing) must also have been taken at World Series time in 1957 or 1958.

All of these photos bring back memories of a time when most major leaguers didn't consider themselves too cool to be seen enjoying the pastimes of we mere mortals. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

That time I made Jay Leno laugh

This model of a Lamborghini Mura is part of a four-car
Matchbox set of Jay Leno's cars.
When I was attending the National Sports Collectors Convention in Anaheim, Calif., in 1985, I met Jay Leno and got a laugh out of him.

I was at the show with several members of the SCD staff. We were still on Central time, so we were up pretty early on Sunday morning. We had a Chevy Suburban that was painted up with logos and advertising for Old Cars Weekly, one of the periodicals Krause produced for the antique autos field.

We had driven out to Hollywood and eaten breakfast, then drove out to see the ocean. We parked at some public beach and walked around the sand a bit, finishing our take-out coffee.

We were about to pile back into the Suburban when a yellow Lamborghini pulled into the lot next to us. Out popped Jay Leno.

This was before he was uber-famous, but he was well-enough known that we recognized him by his distinctive hair coloration.

I knew Leno was a collector car enthusiast, and seeing the Old Cars logo on the Suburban, he struck up a conversation.

He asked us where Iola was in Wisconsin. We told him it was about 65 miles west of Green Bay and 20 miles east of Stevens Point. Leno said he knew Stevens Point . . . he had performed at the Holiday Inn there several years previously. He characterized it as a "dump."

About then another car pulled into the parking area near us. It was a sedan sporting door placards and a roof sign advertising it as a driver's education car.

A tall 30-ish guy got out, as did a very attractive and healthy-looking young lady. They disappeared over a nearby sand dune.

I said to Leno, "She must be going to take her oral exam." 

And that's how I got a laugh out of Jay Leno. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ballplayers get the best babes -- Part 4

Continuing with my periodical presentation of vintage photos amassed over 30+ years in the sportscard publishing world is this selection of photos of baseball players with their wives, fiancees, girlfriends or others. 

I presented groupings of similar photos almost exactly a year ago, in my blog of 9/9/11, and other groupings on Sept. 10 and Oct. 2 of this year.

Pictures of players and their babes were common in decades past. It's not something you see much today.

The first citation is a real period piece -- check out the stove and the small appliances. 

Do you recognize the item on the shelf, almost dead center in the picture? It's an early toaster.

The picture shows Mrs. Joe Dugan preparing oatmeal for her husband's breakfast (although the caption specifies dinner). It's an undated photo from Keystone View Co., New York, although the caption indicates it dates from the post-season of 1924 to the pre-season of 1925.

The caption reads: 

"Jumping" Joe Dugan, star 3rd baseman of the N.Y. Yankees is at home at Scarsdale, N.Y. keeping in trim for the 1925 season with plenty of work.
     Photo shows Mrs. Dugan cooking his dinner.

The home cooking doesn't seem to have been an elixir for Dugan, though; in 1925 he dropped 10 points from his batting average and played in only 102 games.

Chicago White Sox pitcher Johnny Rigney appears to have married well, in more than one sense of the word.

In 1941 he married Dorothy Comiskey, daughter of team owner Grace Comiskey and eldest granddaughter of Charles Comiskey. 

This International news service photo is dated June 11, 1941. Its caption reads: 

Chicago, Ill.- John Dungan Rigney, 26-year-old pitching ace of the Chicago White Sox, who has asked for a sixty-day deferment from induction into the Army because he wishes to marry Dorothy Comiskey, treasurer of the White Sox and "have enough money saved to provide for her every wish during my year in service". When Paul Armstrong, Illinois Director of Selective Service, learned that a local draft board had granted Rigney's request, he appealed the case to President Roosevelt, asking a reversal. The case has set major league baseball circles agog. Shown with Rigney is his fiancee, Dorothy Comiskey.

Rigney's deferment must have stood, because he completed the 1941 with the White Sox, winning 13 games, tied for second-best on the team.

Rigney opened the 1942 season with Chicago, then enlisted in the Navy in May. He did return to baseball until the start of the 1946 season, and arm trouble kept him on limited duty through mid-1947, when he retired to work in the team's front office.

His wife became owner of the White Sox in 1956, but after two years of fighting for control with her brother Chuck, she sold the team to Bill Veeck.

Our last photo shows Dodgers ace Don Drysdale with his first wife, Ginger Dubberly. She was a 1958 Tournament of Roses Princess and had several TV appearances as an actress in the early 1960s.

 The couple was married in 1958 and divorced in 1969. Judging from the apparent age of his daughter Kelly, the photo was likely taken about 1962.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Custom card created for "Mickey Mantle's Caddy"

While recently emailing with my new favorite photo source, Keith Olbermann sent me a Topps scan of Jack Reed, whom he described as "Mickey Mantle's Caddy."

I had never heard of Jack Reed, since by the time he made his major league debut in 1961, I had pretty much transitioned from a baseball fan to an AFL football fan.

So I googled the name and made two discoveries. Jack Reed was only one of three player's who at various times were known as Mickey Mantle's caddy, and, more importantly, Reed was a multi-sport athlete at Ole Miss. He is one of only a handful of athletes to play in a major college football bowl game (Jan. 1, 1953 Sugar Bowl loss to Georgia Tech) and a World Series (1961).

That association with the Rebels sealed the deal . . . I was going to create a Jack Reed custom card.

In case you don't understand the "caddy" reference, it's an old baseball term for a player who is often called as a late-inning defensive replacement and/or as a pinch-runner for an aging or hobbled veteran. Sammy Byrd, who was better-known as "Babe Ruth's legs," was probably the best-known of that type of player, running for the old war horse in the early 1930s. 

Today, with the designated hitter, you don't hear the term any more.

Reed was Mantle's caddy from 1961-63. He followed Bob Cerv in that role, and preceded Ross Moschitto.

Not wanting to reinvent the wheel, I'll not attempt to give you a full biography of Reed. Thomas Van Hyning did an admirable job of that in the SABR Baseball Biography Project. You can read it here: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/13225d55 .

I will, however, mention two things:

The first is the baseball highlight for which Reed is best known, outside his role as Mantle's defensive replacement.

Reed's only major league home run won an historic Yankees game. In the June 24, 1962, game at Detroit, Reed didn't even get into the contest before the 13th inning. 

After scoring six runs off Frank Lary in the top of the first, and another in the second, the Yankees were held scoreless for 19 innings as the Tigers battled back to a tie by the bottom of the sixth inning.

Mantle had started the game in right field. Joe Pepitone came in defensively in the seventh. He walked in the eighth and struck out in the 11th. Phil Linz pinch-hit for Pepitone in the 13th, drawing a walk. In the bottom of the 13th, Reed entered the game in right field.

Reed grounded out in the 15th, struck out in the 18th and grounded out again in the 20th. In the 22nd inning, after Maris had walked in front of him, Reed hit a home run off Phil Regan and gave the Yankees a 9-7 lead. Jim Bouton, who had come on in relief in the 16th, held the Tigers and the Yankees won the longest game in their history. 

Second, Reed is one of only a handful of non-pitcher major leaguers to have fewer plate appearances than games played. In his three-year big league career, Reed appeared in 222 games, but came to the plate only 144 times. 

Since Van Hyning's article did such a thorough job of covering Jack Reed, the player, I'll limit myself here to Jack Reed, the card.

Given Reed's tenure with the Yankees, I could logically have chosen to format my custom in any of Topps' issues between 1961-1964. 

I dismissed 1961 because, while Topps was sometimes prescient in giving a card to a player before he had actually appeared in the majors, it didn't happen often. More importantly, Reed has already appeared on a collectors' issue card in a format similar to '61 Topps. 

Likewise, I dismissed 1964 because Topps didn't often print cards of players whose career had ended the previous season.

More pragmatically, and the reason I likewise opted not to go with a 1963 format, is that in 1961, 1963, and 1964, Topps card backs had "complete" major and minor league stats . . . and I didn't have those stats. As I've mentioned before, the new "baseball bible," baseball-reference.com, is not totally comprehensive in some minor league stats of the 1960s and earlier, notably runs and RBIs, which I'd need to recreate a back design for any of those years.

So, almost by default, my Jack Reed custom was going to take the shape of a 1962 Topps card. This was going to be a first for me . . . I'd never previously attempted to make a card in that format.

By amazing coincidence, the first 1962 card I looked at on the www.toppsarchives.com site was Frank Thomas, and the cartoon highlight on the back was perfectly adaptable to a Jack Reed card, requiring only minor date and stat changes.

Creating a template for the front was more challenging. Poring over scans of original 1962 Topps baseball cards I found a considerable diversity in the "color" of the wood-look background. Because of differences in printing registration, some were quite muddy and some had too much of a red tint. Ultimately I found a Roger Maris card that looked "just right" on the Heritage Auctions site. 

You can see the result here.

My Jack Reed custom is by no means his first baseball card. 

It's true, he never made it on a "real" Topps card. I have to wonder whether Reed might have made the cut in 1962 when Topps expanded its baseball set from 589 to 598 if the company hadn't had to add a dozen or so cards each of the expansion Houston Colt .45s and New York Mets.

Both before and after his major league days, Reed was included in issues of the Richmond Virginians, the Class AAA International League farm club of the Yankees.

In 1960, the Virginians used black-and-white player photos of the players, including Jack Reed, on their game tickets. These are quite scarce. In 1966, Royal Crown Cola sponsored a team set of carton inserts with players -- and manager Jack Reed -- of the Columbus Clippers (a AA Yankees affiliate in the Southern Association) featured in b/w photos. These are not as rare as the 1960 Richmond ticket-cards, but finding a specific player when you're looking for him is a formidable challenge.

As a member of two World Championship Yankees teams, Reed did not escape the notice of producers of collectors' issue cards during the last baseball card "boom." 

In 1986, Renata Galasso included Reed in the color version of the 1961-format team set created to honor the '61 champs. Five years later, on the 30th anniversary of the team, Reed was part of a set of Susan Rini art postcards issued by Historic Limited Editions. Both of these cards are plentiful in the hobby market. There may be one or two other latter-day Jack Reed cards that have escaped my attention.

I do notice that Reed must be an amenable autograph signer, there are lots of autographed balls and photos available in the hobby market and via eBay.

Unfortunately, I haven't yet found a photo of Jack Reed in his Ole Miss football uniform . . . I'm sure I could find room for him in my 1955 All-American "update" set. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Uncataloged radio premium featured Minoso, Doby

I've owned the premium photo shown here for 10-15 years. I'd always intended to add it to the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, but could never lay my hands on it when I was in that mode.

No, it's not technically a baseball "card," but it is consistent with the hundreds of items of collectible baseball ephemera that we included in the Big Book as the years went by.

This is a 1956 or 1957 (the only years Minoso and Doby were together on the White Sox) premium photo from Philco, obviously intended to advertise one of their new-fangled transistor radios. The photo was taken in old Comiskey Park.

I believe this 8-1/2" x 10-3/4" premium was produced by Philco with more than one retailer's name printed at bottom. 

The picture is printed on semi-gloss light card stock; the signatures are facsimile autographs. The back is blank.

I put this picture up for sale on eBay, closing on Oct. 3. If it was a baseball card, I would have graded it Good because of a horizontal crease at center and bumps at the corners and edges. It sold for $15.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pretty Pictures: Ballplayer filmmakers

The umbrella identifier for this on-going presentation is "Pretty Pictures." That was the title of a 1930s book of cartoons by Otto Soglow that I read and reread as a child. These photos represent the gleanings of 30+ years of throwing pictures into files during my days as a sports collector, writer, editor and publisher. 

On my blog on Sept. 25, I presented a selection of modern baseball cards showing players using cameras.

On a related note are a trio of pictures from my photo files showing ballplayers behind the camera.

The earliest of the pictures is unmarked as to date, but certainly was taken circa 1931-36, when Ben Chapman (right, with movie camera) was an outfielder for the New York Yankees.

Chapman's subject in this home movie is Yankees business manager (later, president) Ed Barrow.

A bit later is this press photo of Bob Feller using a state of the art (for its times) home movie camera at Cincinnati during the 1940 World Series.

The Wide World Photos picture is dated Oct. 7, 1940. The attached caption reads . . . 

One of the interested spectators at today's game between the Tigers and Reds was Bobby Feller brilliant pitcher of the Cleveland Indians. Bobby is shown making movies of the activities at Crosley Field at the sixth game of the series.

The second photo also shows a player shooting home movies during a World Series.did not play in the '57 Series. The former Bonus Baby had spent the 1955-56 seasons in the military, and played only seven games with Milwaukee in 1957.

The caption on this Oct. 4, 1957, AP Wirephoto reads . . . 


Home movies of Red Schoendienst, left, and Joe Adcock are made today my Mel Roach, utility infielder, before practicing on home field, where Braves tomorrow resume World Series against New York Yanks. Red and Joe are regulars, of course. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ballplayers get the best babes, Part 3

Continuing with my periodical presentation of vintage photos amassed over 30+ years in the sportscard publishing world is this selection of photos of baseball players with their wives, fiancees, girlfriends or others. 

I presented a trio of similar photos almost exactly a year ago, in my blog of 9/9/11, and another grouping on Sept. 10 of this year.

Pictures of players and their babes were common in decades past. It's not something you see much today.

The first is a picture of a pair of future Hall of Famers. I believe it's a 1934 photo from International News Photo service.

You probably recognize Jimmie Foxx; he's posed on a beach with Helene Madison, who had won three gold medals at the 1932 Olympic Summer Games in Los Angeles.

Madison appeared in the multi-sport bubblegum card Sport Kings set in 1933 and was later inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.

The attached news service caption  reads . . . 

Maimi Beach, Florida . . . Helene Madison, the Seattle miss who took amateur swimming records on high, a season or so back, is the mermaid that Jimmy Foxx met up with here. Somebody must have told him that mermaids are vicious, or something, for Jimmy brought along his bat, just in case. Of course we don't have to tell you that the Jimmy person is just about the only star that Connie Mack has left to play on his baseball team this coming season.

In the second photo Billy Martin is shown arriving in Hawaii for the Yankees post-season tour of the Orient on Oct. 12, 1955.

The caption on the AP Wirephoto reads . . .

Yankee infielder Billy Martin is engulfed by colorful Hawaiian leis and a bevy of Hula maidens as the New York Yankees arrive recently at Honolulu on the first leg of a Far Eastern tour. They will play exhibition games in Hawaii, Japan, Okinawa and the Philippines.

That's the logo of the old Pan-American Airways on the plane in back.

Our third photo is undated and unattributed. It pictures a sartorially splendid and youthful Stan Musial and, presumably, his wife.

The photo looks to have captured the couple as they deplaned from a flight.