Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Gulf Coast Rebel my newest Rails/Sails custom

I really don't have a lot of "backstory" to go with the most recent addition to my Rails & Sails custom cards lineup.

I found a great piece of art to build the card around, showing the train at the Mobile, Ala., terminal in its original chinese-red and aluminum paint scheme.

A later version of a streamliner of the GM&O, presumaby the Rebel, is featured in a couple of scenes from one of my favorite movies.

I'll let this excerpt from Wikipedia explain . . . 

A GM&O EMD E7 and passenger cars were featured in the 1967 film In the Heat of the Night. Although the film's opening and ending shots of the GM&O are implied to be in a fictionalized version of Sparta, Mississippi, GM&O had ceased all passenger service south of St. Louis, Missouri eight years before filming was done in 1966. The actual filming location was Sparta, Illinois. The location where the GM&O locomotives and cars were filmed was in Sparta Illinois also. The train was leased from GM&O with a train crew to comply with union and operating rules of the road. The train came from Metro St. Louis, Missouri and traveled south along a GM&O right of way towards Sparta Illinois. At the time of filming, GM&O had not merged yet with the Illinois Central Railroad. The opening scene of the film shows the train crossing a main street in Sparta at night with the bright headlamp on the lead engine approaching town from an overhead shot. This was done using a scaffold across the tracks. This scene shows Virgil detraining and entering the depot station. The train was then driven south to an available turntable and parked for the night turning the engines around for the return trip to Sparta to shoot the final scene which was shot the following day and was among the final scenes of the film showing Virgil boarding the train and saying goodbye to Gillespie. As the train leaves Sparta, a close up shot of Virgil riding in a passenger car was taken by helicopter as the train travels the opposite direction with the scene expanding the view showing it meandering through the countryside as it leaves Sparta.

The train in the movie has the maroon-and-red color scheme that the GM&O adopted after its merger with the Alton Railroad in 1947.

I really do enjoy the research necessary to create a credible modern Rails & Salis card, but this may be the last non-sports card I tackle for a while. Baseball season is right  around the corner and my card-making time is likely to lean more in that direction in the coming months.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

1960 custom doubles DeMerit's Braves cards

As big a fan of the Milwaukee Braves as I was as a kid in the late 1950s, John DeMerit really didn't register on my radar . . . because he didn't appear on a Topps baseball card until 1961.

I should have been all over DeMerit. He was a near-Milwaukee native and starred at the University of Wisconsin for two years before signing a $100,000 bonus contract with the Braves in May, 1957.

There no sense in my doing a baseball biography of DeMerit here, Steven Schmitt has authored a really excellent article for the SABR Baseball Biography Project, which you can find here:
 John DeMerit bio .

I'm unsure why DeMerit didn't appear in the 1958 Topps issue. Another Braves bonus baby, Bob "Hawk" Taylor appeared in far fewer games for Milwaukee in 1957, and he has a 1958 Topps card. Taylor signed a week after DeMerit, but made his big-league debut nine days earlier. Maybe that made a difference in Topps being able to get photos, or some similar pragmatic reason.

When Major League Baseball changed its bonus rules in 1958, and made the changes retroactive, DeMerit was allowed to be farmed out. He spent virtually all of the 1958 season at AA-level Atlanta, hitting .257 with 13 home runs (including four in a row), before getting into three games with Milwaukee in the last week of the regular season. 

That wasn't conducive to Topps giving him a card in 1959. DeMerit played most of the 1959 season at Class A Jacksonville, with two weeks at Atlanta and most of the month of September with the big club.

Again, there was no Topps card in 1960, and DeMerit spent the entire season at Louisville, the Braves' AAA farm club. He had a good season for the American Association champion Colonels, batting .270 with a dozen home runs. 

DeMerit finally got his Topps card in 1961, and spent the entire season at Milwaukee. After the season he was picked by the Mets in the NL expansion draft. His 1962 Topps card pictures him capless in the Milwaukee jersey, but lists him with the Mets.

I could have chosen to make my DeMerit custom card in the 1958, 1959 or 1960 format. I chose the latter because the available supply of DeMerit-as-Brave color photos is extremely limited, and they didn't fit my vision for a 1958 or 1959 card. 

I could also have chosen to make my 1960 DeMerit card in the style of the 1960 Sport Magazine Rookie Stars subset, but that seemed to be a stretch for a guy who had been in the bigs for parts of three seasons, so I went with the regular format, as presented here.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Klippstein's unusual home run pace

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.

As a child collector I always had a fondness for the 1953 Topps card of Johnny Klippstein. Maybe it was the unusual name, or perhaps the bright orange sky background.

Whatever, seeing his name in a headline as I read back issues of TSN usually causes me to read what the sporting press had to say about him 50 or 60 years ago.

I especially enjoyed a short piece in a 1962 issue detailing the righty relief specialist's home run on Aug. 6 in Houston off Don McMahon. It was his first home run in nearly 10 years and it gave him and the Reds the 1-0 win in the 13-inning contest against the Colt .45s.

Bob Purkey had held the Colts scoreless through 10 innings, though he'd given up seven hits and three walks. Houston's Turk Farrell pitched 12 innings, allowing six hits and a walk before giving way to McMahon in the 13th. 

Klippstein was the third batter to face McMahon. Cincinnati manager Fred Hutchinson later said that if either John Edwards or Don Zimmer had reached base in the 13th, he would have sent Joe Gaines up to pinch-hit in the pitcher's spot. But the Reds' bullpen was gassed, having played back-to-back double-headers the previous two days in New York.

Thus with two out and nobody on, Hutch let Klippstein bat for himself. On the way to the batter's box, Klippstein accepted the bat proffered him by erstwhile pinch-hitter Gaines standing on the top step of the dugout. "I even kidded Joe about the bat,," Klippstein said after the game. "I asked him how he expected me to hit with the bat. It left as light as a toothpick."

The lightweight lumber proved to be a game-winner, though, as Klippstein sent McMahon's offering over the left field fence, 380 feet away. "I don't know whether it was the excitement or not but that trip around the bases seemed like running two miles," Klippstein said, " I felt so tried that I could hardly move my legs."

Perhaps he was just out of practice; Klippstein had not hit a home run in more than nine years. "You think maybe I've been in a slump?" he quipped after the game. 

Klippstein told reporters that he had hit home runs in each of his first four major league seasons prior to the power drought: As a Chicago Cubs rookie in 1950 off Bob Chipman of the Braves, in 1951 off the Pirates Murry Dickson, in 1952 off Pittsburgh's Woody Main and in 1953 off Johnny Lindell, again of the Pirates.

Klippstein had started in pro ball in 1944 at the age of 16, as a St. Louis Cardinals minor league prospect. With a year out for military service in 1946, Klippstein had pitched his way up the Cards' minor league ladder over four seasons, never having a losing season.

The Dodgers' organization grabbed Klippstein in the 1948 post-season minor league draft. He pitched the 1949 season at Class AA Mobile where he was 15-8 with a team-leading 2.95 ERA.

This time it was the Chicago Cubs that picked Klippstein in the post-season Rule 5 draft. He left the minor leagues behind him when he joined the Cubs for 1950. He'd had a 41-28 record in the minor -- and he'd never hit a home run.

Klippstein pitched in the major leagues for 18 seasons. He was with the Cubs (1950-54), Reds (1955-58, 1962), Dodgers (1958-59), Indians (1960), Senators (1961), Phillies 1963-64), Twins (1964-66) and Tigers (1967). Through 1957 he was in the Cubs and Reds starting rotations; from 1958 on he was almost exclusively used in relief. As a major leaguer Klippstein compiled a 101-118 record on a 4.24 ERA.

He appeared twice in the World Series, winning with the Dodgers in 1959 and losing to the Dodgers while with the Twins in 1965.

You'll find Klippstein in the record books as having led the AL with 14 saves in 1960. In 1956 he led the NL by hitting 10 batters. He also led in wild pitches in 1952 (12) and 1961 (10).

Besides Klippstein's peculiar home run pace, there's another interesting angle to his batting record. As a Cubs rookie in 1950 he batted .333 -- 11-for-33. He never again hit higher than .175 in any season, usually failing to get to .100. His big-league career BA was .125.

An excellent baseball biography of Klippstein by Gregory H. Wolf can be found in SABR's bioproject at Klippsten baseball bio .

Klippstein left a thorough baseball card legacy. He was in Bowman's 1951, 1954 and 1955 sets and in Topps sets of 1952-54 and 1956-67. He's also found in the occasional regional card issues such as 1956-57 Kahn's Weiners and 1965 Trade Bloc Twins.

Because he was often traded in the latter stages of his career, Klippstein may hold the record for appearing capless in Topps cards; he did so in 1961-63 and 1965. I do have to give Topps props for hustle on Klippstein's final baseball card. He went to spring training with the Detroit Tigers and was signed only the day before the 1967 season opened. He was released at the end of May, but appears in the '67 high-numbers.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Garagiola's death shortens '52 Topps survivors list

Joe Garagiola's death at age 90 on March 23 brings the total of surviving players who appeared in the 1952 Topps baseball card set to 46.

Garagiola wasn't a Hall of Famer, or even a star player, but his lone career-contemporary Topps card in the 1952 set enjoyed a premium collectible value due to his popularity as a speaker, author, broadcaster, game show host, etc. after his playing days were over.

I had a few interactions with Garagiola in the early 1980s in connection with his work with B.A.T., the Baseball Assistance Team. He'd sometimes call to vet a show promoter with whom he was arranging an autograph appearance for an old-timer who was new to the card-show circuit. 

Once or twice he popped into a card show in the L.A. area. If I recall correctly, he was emcee at the luncheon for the 1985 Anaheim National. He had a quick wit, a ready smile and an inexhaustible font of baseball stories.

Here's the current list of living players from '52 Topps.

PLAYER                     1952 TOPPS   BIRTH
                        `           CARD NO.      DATE

Wally Westlake           38                    11/08/1920
Eddie Robinson           32                    12/15/1920
Sam Mele                    94                    01/21/1922
Gil Coan                      91                    05/18/1922
Harry Perkowski          142                  09/06/1922
Red Schoendienst       91                    02/02/1923
Solly Hemus                196                  04/17/1923
Bob Kuzava                 85                    05/28/1923
Ed Fitz Gerald             236                  05/21/1924
Turk Lown                   330                  05/30/1924
Charlie Silvera             168                  10/13/1924
Irv Noren                     40                    11/29/1924
Wayne Terwilliger         7                      06/27/1925
Bobby Shantz              219                  09/26/1925
Bob Addis                    259                  11/06/1925
Ned Garver                 212                  12/25/1925
Ralph Branca              274                  01/06/1926
Bob Borkowski            328                  01/27/1926
Randy Jackson           322                  02/10/1926
Howie Judson             169                  02/16/1926
Bob Miller                    187                  06/16/1926
Bobby Morgan             355                  06/29/1926
Johnny Groth              25                    07/23/1926
Roy Sievers                 64                    11/18/1926
Carl Erskine                250                  12/13/1926
Carl Scheib                 116                  01/01/1927
Charlie Maxwell           180                  04/08/1927
Cloyd Boyer                280                  09/01/1927
Bob Kelly                     348                  10/04/1927
Tommy Brown             281                  12/06/1927
Dick Gernert                343                  09/28/1928
Joe Presko                  220                  10/07/1928
Bob Ross                    298                  11/02/1928
Joe DeMaestri             286                  12/09/1928
Curt Simmons             203                  05/19/1929
Ted Lepcio                  335                  07/28/1929
Ike Delock                   329                  11/11/1929
Del Crandall                162                  03/05/1930
Vern Law                     81                    03/12/1930
Johnny Antonelli          140                  04/12/1930
Dick Groat                   369                  11/04/1930
Bob Friend                  233                  11/24/1930
Willie Mays                  261                  05/06/1931
Tony Bartirome           332                  05/09/1932
Dick Brodowski           404                  07/26/1932
Bobby Del Greco         353                  04/07/1933

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Casey's beer ad cost him $500

In the early days of Casey Stengel's tenure as manager of the 1962 N.Y. Mets he found himself in the midst of a kerfuffle over an ad campaign.

Rheingold beer was the principal TV sponsor of Mets broadcasts in their debut year. The brewery reportedly paid $1.2 million in cash for the sponsorship, plus agreeing to purchase $200,000 worth of tickets for promotional giveaways.

As the season opened, full-page newspaper and magazine ads began to appear, along with color posters on subway trains and stations and point-of-purchase displays at taverns and liquor stores showing Stengel with 1962's Miss Rheingold, Kathy Kersh. 

The problem was Stengel was shown in his Mets uniform. According to rules in effect at the time, uniformed personnel were prohibited from appearing in team livery in beer and cigarette advertising. The ads were the product of the Mad Men at the J. Walter Thompson agency.

Stengel, certainly knowing of the advertising prohibition, said "They'd (the Rheingold people) been so nice to us that I didn't have the heart to turn them down when they asked me."

Since Rheingold's advertising policy would have obsoleted the campaign after a month, the whole thing might have blown over except that somebody squawked to baseball commissioner Ford Frick's office so vehemently that he was forced to take action. Speculation on the identity of the troublemaker centered on the Yankees and/or their TV beer sponsor, Ballentine's.

His hand forced, Frick slapped Stengel with a $500 fine. Dan Daniel, long-time New York baseball writer, opined that neither Stengel nor the Mets actually paid the plaster. He hinted that the fine was paid -- and happily -- by Rheingold, who considered the $500 a publicity bargain.

On its editorial page of the May 9 issue, The Sporting News sniffed, "This represents a hypocritical attitude by baseball. The game is most willing to take millions of dollars from breweries, but refuses t let anybody in the game exploit the product."

If you weren't drinking beer in New York in the early 1960s, you might not realize how big a deal the Rheingold Girl was. Daniel said that a field of nearly 400 young women was annually proffered from which the Rheingold Girl was chosen by the casting of millions of votes at taverns throughout the metropolis. The winner usually went on to significant, if short-lived, fame as a model and/or actress.

Kathy Kersh was among the most successful of the Miss Rheingold girls of her era. She appeared frequently on television. She was Jethro Bodine's recurring girlfriend on The Beverly Hillbillies in its third season, and the Joker's girlfriend on two episodes of Batman.
She also appeared on Ben Casey, My Favorite Martian, Burke's Law, etc. 

Her most memorable role was that as a THRUSH spy girl who, along with Sharon Tate, beat up The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn).

Her television roles also garnered a pair of husbands. She was married to Vince Edwards, "Dr. Ben Casey," and Burt Ward, "Robin".

Stengel's appearance in one of the Rheingold ads was panned for his poor form as a bunter. For her part, Kersh was "catching" in high heels.

In a recent Hunt auction, a 13" x 20" easel-back counter display of that ad sold for $425.

Stengel continued to appear with the contemporary Miss Rheingolds on ad pieces in subsequent years, but was shown in civvies. Here he is with Loretta Russell in a 1963 ad.

Stengel continued to appear with the contemporary
Miss Rheingolds on ad pieces in subsequent
years, but was shown in civvies. Here he
is with Loretta Russell in a 1963 ad.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Fourth Bob Hazle custom done in 1957 format

I've recently completed my fourth -- and probably final -- Bob Hazle custom card, in the 1957 Topps format.

You can't fault Topps for not having produced such a card in '57. Back then Hazle had only played six games in the majors, with the 1955 Cincinnati Redlegs.

After coming to the Braves in the pre-season 1956 trade with Corky Valentine for George Crowe, Hazle had been assigned to Class AAA Wichita for the year, and had begun 1957 there.

To go back to the beginning to understand why I've done four Bob Hazle custom cards, please read my blog post of Sept. 18, 2014, Why Bob Hazle . 

My first Bob Hazle custom card was done in the format of 1955 Topps, as a Cincinnati Redlegs rookie. It was originally on the blog on July 4, 2014: 1955 Topps Hazle .

On Sept. 19, 2014, I presented my 1959 Topps-format Bob Hazle card, reflecting his sale to the Detroit Tigers: 1959 Topps Bob Hazle .

The next day I introduced my 1956 Topps-style Hazle card: 1956 Topps Hazle .

This 1957-style card was not an easy build. I had a nice portrait photo of "Hurricane," but it was in black-and-white with a plain background. For my card front I had to colorize the photo and find an appropriate background.

After looking over all the original 1957 Topps Milwaukee Braves cards, my decision came down to those of Chuck Tanner and Dave Jolly. After looking at each version for several days I landed upon the Jolly background. I'm satisfied with my choice.

Actually, if the right picture came along, a 1952 Topps-style card wouldn't be out of the question. In 1951 he was hitting .280 at Tulsa and had been named to the Texas League All-Star team when he was reportedly called up by Cincinnati. Uncle Sam had a prior claim, however, and Hazle spent the rest of the 1951 season, all of 1952 and more than half of 1953 in the Army.

If a '52T-format card does come to fruition, you'll see it here first.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

1st double-HBP in an inning was in 1959

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.

Cursory poking around on the internet has failed to produce a list of the number of major leaguers hit by a pitch per season. My gut feeling, looking at yearly leaders in that stat, is that the practice is more prevalent now than it was in the 1950s, approaching or even surpassing the numbers from the rough-and-tumble days of 19th Century baseball.

Most years between the 1920s and the end of World War II, getting hit a dozen times in a season would qualify for the league lead. Since the 1980s, a player would have to wear one at least two dozen times in a season to earn that distinction.

It was not until major league baseball was more than 80 years old, however, that a player was hit by a pitched ball twice in the same inning. (That's assuming it didn't happen between 1876 and the mid-1880s, when the stat began to be reliably kept.)

The first player to have been double-tapped in an inning was Willard Schmidt of the Cincinnati Reds in 1959 . . . and he was pitching that game.

The incident occurred on Sunday, April 26, with the Milwaukee Braves visiting Crosley Field.

Schmidt was nailed twice in the bottom of the 3rd inning, after he had come on in relief of starter Joe Nuxhall, who been tagged for three runs, four hits and a pair of walks in 2.1 innings' work

The Reds' pitcher was batting second in the Cincinnati half when he was hit by Lou Burdette, following a Roy McMillan lead-off single. Burdette gave up three more singles to tie the game, even though he induced a pair of ground outs. 

Burdette was pulled in favor of rookie Bob Hartman, who gave up a walk and a pair of singles for three more runs before being replaced by Bob Rush.

Schmidt was the first batter to face Rush and he was hit for a second time in the inning. He took the mound in the top of the 4th, leading 6-3. When he gave up a single to Johnny Logan, he was relieved by Orlando Pena.

The lead see-sawed back and forth until Frank Robinson had a walk-off sac fly in the bottom of the 9th to earn the 11-10 victory.

There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to Schmidt having been hit twice in the 3rd. There had been no Braves batters hit in the game, nor any in the two earlier games in the series. Schmidt was not known as a headhunter; in his seven big league seasons he hit only 11 enemy batters. Schmidt's pair of plunkings in that record-setting inning was half of his career total.

Willard was the second of eight pitchers the Reds used to secure the win. The Braves had sent six hurlers to the mound. (Curiously, four of the six Braves pitchers were named "Bob": Hartman, Rush, Buhl and Trowbridge.)

Frank Thomas ties the record
While baseball had gone 83 years without having a batter hit by pitch twice in one inning, the record was tied just over three seasons later by Mets outfielder Frank Thomas. Coincidentally, Thomas had been a teammate of Willard Schmidt's and played at third base and in left field in that April 26, 1959 game.

Thomas earned his pair of Purple Hearts in the first game of a Sunday double header on April 29, 1962, with the Phillies visiting during the N.Y. Mets inaugural season in the NL. He was in left field that day.

The Mets were ahead 1-0 when Thomas came to the plate batting second in the bottom of the 4th. Gus Bell had opened the frame with a single off starting pitcher Art Mahaffey. The Phils' pitcher then hit Thomas on the arm, helping to set off a seven-run innings by the Mets.

By the time Thomas came to bat again in the inning, the Mets were ahead 8-0 and relief pitcher Frank Sullivan hit Thomas in the foot.

Mets pitcher Al Jackson went the distance. The 8-0 win was the first shut-out in the franchise's history.

Frank Thomas was no stranger when it came to being hit by a pitch. In his 16 major league seasons, he was hit 51 times, including leading the NL with 10 in 1954.

Five more since '62
Since 1962, there have been five more instances of player being hit twice in an inning.

Joining the club more than 30 years later was Andres Galarraga, with the Rockies, July 12, 1993.  Earlier in his career, with the Expos, the Big Cat had led the NL in HBP with 10 in 1987, and was major league leader with 13 in 1989.

The first American Leaguer to earn the distinction was Brady Anderson of the Orioles on May 23, 1999. He led the majors in HBP that season with 24; he'd led the AL in 1996 and 1997 with 22 and 19, respectively.

After more than a decade, the record was tied again on Sept. 23, 2010 by Jose Guillen of the S.F. Giants. Guillen had led the NL in HBP with 19 in 2005.

The Cubs' Jose DeJesus was hit twice in an inning on June 18, 2012. He previously led the AL in 2007 with 23 HBP while with the Royals.

The latest player to be hit twice in an inning was Brandon Moss of the A's on April 25, 2014.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Fantasy '56-style custom card for Paul Pettit

It's taken me nearly four years but I've now completed the second of a real fantasy card series.

This purports to  be a 1956 Topps-style regional form the Donovan's Drive-In chain of Southern California.

You can read the back story on my blog posting of May 16, 2012, here: Donovan's '56 Maz.

Some years back in my perusal of microfilms of 1950 back issues of The Sporting News, I read the contemporary accounts of the first $100,000 pitching phenom, Paul Pettit. His story epitomizes the bonus baby phenomenon of that era. 

For their $100,000 gamble on a high school kid, the Pittsburgh Pirates got a return of exactly one major-league victory in the 12 games in which Pettit appeared at the big-league level in 1951 and 1953.

My fantasy card looks back to the 12 seasons Pettit played in the minors. Early on he was a pitcher, then, after arm injuries, he hung on as an outfielder and first baseman in the higher minors. He played in five seasons for the Pirates' Pacific Coast League farm club, the Hollywood Stars.

If you're a veteran vintage baseball card collector, you may recognize the background of my new card as that used by Topps for Dale Long's 1956 card.

There are no career-contemporary baseball cards for Pettit. I'd like to make a 1953 Topps-style card, but I have yet to find a suitable photo, though I do have the germ of an idea that piques my interest.

For all the ink that he got as an impossibly handsome high school hero, there really isn't a lot of material on Pettit to be readily found on the internet. Over the years I set aside dozens of notes about his baseball struggles, but I don't want to author a definitive biographical sketch.

I'm just going to share my fantasy card creation of one of baseball's most interesting players of the early 1950s.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

1962 Post/Jell-O production found in article

According to Advertising Age, there were 96 different
box-back configurations for 1962 Post cereal cards.

The reprint of an Advertising Age article in the May 9, 1962 The Sporting News provides today's collector with some insights into the 1962 Post cereal and Jell-O box-back baseball card issues . . . along with a coupe of other contemporary baseball card sets.

The TSN article was headlined, “General Foods Taking Cuts in Baseball Card Field”.

I'm going to reprint the article in its entirety; I'll have a few keyed notes at the end.

Advertising Age, National Advertising Weekly: “Come this summer, the bubble gum set will be swapping two Mickey Mantes for one Roger Maris – off the back of a box of Post cereals, or Jell-O.”
            “Post division of General Foods has gone into the baseball card business in a big way. In fact, its projected 1962 output of 800,000,000(1) cards is just about as many as Frank H. Fleer Corp., of Philadelphia, Pa., will circulate among small fry via bubble gum packs.(2) But Fleer and its arch rival, Topps Chewing Gum Co., Brooklyn, N.Y., balked at the suggestion that Post might steal their seasonal thunder.

            “Post’s big league jump into baseball this year came with a page in the April 13 issue of Life. The ad offered free baseball cards printed on the backs of 12 Post cereals that are sold nationwide. Protruding from the gutter of the page was a four-color insert imprinted with the first two cards to get the kids started. The heroes: Sluggers Maris and Mantle.
            “The Life ad is the only print page which Post cereals has on tap this season. But the rest of the push—all TV announcements—is pretty hefty compared with Post’s drive in 1961, when it used TV sparingly (no magazines) and printed 400,000,000(3) cards. This year, for 15 weeks, the company had its agency, Benton & Bowles, line up 20, 40, and 60-second commercials on 240 stations in top markets. Messrs. Mantle and Maris are on deck for the announcements, as are Pitcher Whitey Ford and his son.(4)
            “In addition, Post is armed with heavy in-store promotion to back the drive. It will use whirl-around displays, over-wire pennants (with team names), “humorous” player cutouts, stick displays, banners and shelf talkers. To show dealers how they should work with these tools, Post has issued a 60-page merchandising guide.(5)
            “Post will print anywhere from three to seven cards on each of the 12 cereal packages, totaling 96 card panels. Some 200 different major leaguers will be rotated on the panels so that, regardless of which Post cereal a family buys, “each youngster can acquire a full set.” The players are split up evenly among the 20 teams in the National and American Leagues (‘although’ a General Foods man admitted to Advertising Age, ‘spring training swaps kind of threw this balance out of kilter’).
            “On the Jell-O front, General Foods has just started testing baseball cards in Chicago for its Jell-O gelatin products and regular, small-size pudding.(6) One card appears on the back panel of each package. Thus far, media buys for this test have been confined to Sunday comic sections and some TV announcements through the Jell-O agency, Young & Rubicam. General Foods declined to say whether it would expand the ball cards promotion to other products.

            Under an arrangement the company made with Frank Scott, a New Yorker who represents ball players in such transactions, Post has the rights to use a total of 500 players. It made the same deal with Mr. Scott last year. He declined to spell out how much each player will receive. ‘I don’t think it would be fair to General Foods to disclose this,’ he said.
            The gum marketers, who have had a promotional stranglehold on baseball cards for decades, for the most part appeared undisturbed—officially—over Post’s move. Melvin Poretz, advertising manager of Topps, said that General Foods’ Post Division is ‘operating in an altogether different field; our rights lie in the confectionery area.’ Topps, he said, is delighted that the ball players have a chance to make some extra money.
            “Raymond Beck, Fleer’s director of marketing, termed Post’s action ‘still new.’ He said Fleer is watching it closely, but doesn’t know how it may affect the company. ‘This season will tell us the story,’ he opined. Besides baseball cards, Fleer backs football and basketball cards with its gum (five per pack) in other seasons.

            “The two gum companies were embroiled in a wrangle about ten months ago. Topps was offering a player $125 a year, plus a $75 bonus on a two-year renewal, for the privilege of using his picture, batting average and other statistics on its cards. Fleer, on the other hand, said it was also paying players $125 a year, or five per cent of gross profits—divided among all the players involved—but also would ‘pick up the tab’ for any money the players lost by not signing an exclusive contract with Topps.”

(1) If accurate, this indicates Post intended to produce an average of 4,000,000 of each of the cards in its 1962 cereal issue. Some readers believe the 800 million figure combines both Post cereal and Jell-O production.

(2) This would seem to give a ballpark figure for the production run of Fleer's 1962 Baseball Greats set. Again assuming Ad Age knew what it was talking about, that would translate to 6.06 million of each high-number card (89-154) in the Greats set, if the widely accepted hobby belief is true that those cards were issued in 1962, while the 1-88 low-numbers were issued in 1961. 

(3) This pegs the number of 1961 Post cereal cards at 2,000,000 each, but does not address whether this includes box-back cards only or the 10-cards sheets that coud be mailed away for.

(4) A number of the Post TV commercials featuring the baseball cards can be seen on YouTube.

(5) Some of these point of purchase sales promotional materials have survived in the hobby. I have never heard of an extant example of the "60-page merchandising guide". This piece would surely be a "holy grail" for advanced Post/Jell-O collectors.

(6) this seems to confirm hobby lore about the original geographic distribution of 1962 Jell-O box-back cards.

Friday, March 11, 2016

'55 Topps expands George Crowe custom lineup

Regular readers of my blog know that growing up as a fan of the Milwaukee Braves in the mid-1950s, backup first baseman and pinch-hitter extraordinaire George Crowe was my favorite ballplayer.

What you may not know is that I often create my custom baseball, football and non-sports cards on the basis of an image that pops into my head and refuses to go away until I've put all other card creations on the back burner and brought that image to life.

That's how it was with my latest custom, a George Crowe card in the style of 1955 Topps.

This is my third Crowe custom, and it likely won't be my last. In years past I've created Crowe cards in the format of 1955 Bowman and 1954 Topps, filling some gaps in Crowe's "real" baseball card legacy. Crowe never appeared on a Bowman card in the 1950s. In the Topps lineup he was included in the 1952 and 1953 sets, then absent until 1956 when he had his last Topps card as a Braves. In the 1957-58 sets he's pictured with the Reds and in 1959-61, with the Cardinals. Big George is also found among many of the regional and team-issue card sets of the 1950s.  

I set aside nice pictures of Crowe when I find them, waiting for the day the inspiration strikes to create yet another George Crowe "card that never was."

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Hall's 1963 'perfect game' took 25 days

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.

You won't find Dick Hall's perfect game in 1963 on the official lists of such achievements . . . but he felt it should have been so recognized.

Hall's perfect-o, you see, was achieved over 25 days and five appearances, July 24-Aug. 17.

"That was my first perfect game" Hall said,  "I never had one before and this one took 25 days." He told reporters he thought the rules should be changed to give a pitcher credit for a perfect game, even if it was pitched piecemeal.

Hall was the Orioles' ace middle relief man in 1963, at age 32. The tall (6'6") right-hander appeared in 47 games that season, often as the set-up man for closer Stu Miller. 

In his "perfect-game" streak he went one batter better, setting down 28 in a row.
On July 24 in Baltimore Hall threw 6.2 innings of scoreless relief against Washington t get the win. He retired the last four Senators in a row t begin his streak.

He extended his streak to 12 against the first-place Yankees on Aug. 4 in New York with 2.2 IP of perfect work, earning his fifth save of the season.

On Aug. 9 in Washington he pitched the last three innings, setting down nine Senators and earning his sixth save.

In Minnesota on Aug. 15 he retired four Twins in a row to run his tally to 25 batters up, 25 batters down.

Two days later in Kansas City he pitched a perfect ninth inning for his seventh save. He had now faced 28 batters without any reaching base.

Hall's perfect-o came to a halt at home on Aug. 21 in the first game of a mid-week double header with the L.A. Angels visiting. He entered the game in relief of Steve Barber with two out and one on in the top of the sixth inning. The first batter he faced, Albie Pearson, singled. Hall then retired 10 of the last 11 Angels to earn his eighth save.

Hall's record that year was 5-5 with a 2.98 ERA and credit for 12 saves. (The Sporting News began keeping track of saves in 1960; it didn't become an official MLB stat until 1969.)

Did you remember that Dick Hall first came to the majors with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1952 as an infielder-outfielder? His rookie cards in 1955 Topps regular and Doubleheader show him in that role. 

He's a Pirates pitcher on his 1956 and 1957 cards, but Topps didn't issue cards of Hall in 1958 (he didn't pitch at all in 1958, sitting out the season with hepatitis) or 1959. He's with the A's on his 1960 and 1961 cards, though he was traded to the Orioles at the start of the 1961  season. 

Hall has Orioles cards from Topps for 1962 and 1963, then inexplicably he does not appear in their 1964-66 sets. He's back in the 1967 and 1968 sets, following his trade to the Phillies. He's again absent from the 1969 issue. The Phils had released him after the 1968 season and he returned to Baltimore as a free agent in 1969. 

Hall can again be found in the 1970 and 1971 Topps issues (O-Pee-Chee, as well) in O's livery. He retired at age 40 after the 1971 season, with a career pitching record of 93-75 with an ERA of 3.32 and 71 saves.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Custom TV Western Cheyenne cards

I've kind of painted myself into a corner with the card numbers on my series of custom TV Western cards.

By designating each card as a particular number within a sub-series dedicated to one program, I've used up all the numbers between the end of Topps' original 1958 card set, which stopped at #71, and the logical end point of #100.

That's not to say I've actually created all 29 cards between #72-100, just that I've assigned all the numbers. In fact, with the completion of this pair of Cheyenne cards, I've completed 14 cards: Three Maverick, two Rawhide, one Rifleman, four Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, two Bat Masterson and now two Cheyenne.

I can envision the day will come when I have to stretch beyond #100 to add some TV Western cards I've got on the back burner. There were so many Western TV shows of which I have fond childhood memories.

And I really enjoy the search and research it has taken me to do the cards I have. 

Because most of the television shows on which my cards are based were filmed in black-and-white, there are not a lot of color photos available that are suitable for creating cards, One a few of my cards I have "lifted" the card pictures from the covers of contemporary comic books. Colorizing some of the b/w photos that are available is also an option, but I'm not sure my skills in that area would prove sufficient t maintain the look I'm striving for,

I also enjoy google-searching the shows, the actors and the characters for my card-back write-ups. I learn a lot about the shows I enjoyed 50+ years ago.

For instance, I did not know that Cheyenne, which ran from 1955-1963 was the first hour-long TV Western, and one of the first hour-long dramas on national television. The program was also the first Warner Brothers studio offering made specifically for the small screen, and that it was so successful that it pulled WB out of a fiscal hole.

It also never registered on me as a kid, that ABC televised Cheyenne in a rotation; first with two non-Westerns in a series titled Warner Brothers Presents. Later, after Clint Walker had held out for a period during 1958-1959 over the distribution of proceeds from personal appearances and the right to make records for studios other than WB, Cheyenne was alternated with two other Westerns, Sugarfoot and Bronco (which I remember only dimly).

It certainly didn't enter my consciousness when the show was current that WB never missed an opportunity to showcase Clint Walker's physique by having Cheyenne take any excuse to strip off his shirt. While it may be studio publicity fudging the figures, Walker is said to have been 6'6" with a 48" chest and 32" waist in his prime.

And, while I can't say just why, it gratifies me to learn that Walker is still alive and participating in Western fan events, autograph signings, etc., as he nears the age of 86.

It will probably be next winter before I get to working on any new TV Western customs, so I hope you enjoy these.