Sunday, July 31, 2016

Relief specialist Turk Lown dies at 92, 44 1952 Topps 'survivors' left

The ninth oldest man on the list of surviving players who appeared in the 1952 Topps set, relief specialist Omar "Turk" Lown, died July 8 at the age of 92. Lown's's death brings the total of surviving players who appeared in the 1952 Topps baseball card set to 44.

Lown pitched 11 years in the major leagues; all but part of one season with one of the Chicago teams (1951-58 Cubs, 1958 Cincinnati), 1958-62 (White Sox).

Early in his career, Lown became a bullpen specialist. His last start came on Augh. 12, 1953. He pitched nearly 500 games as a reliever. He led the NL in games finished with 47 each in 1956-57, and 37 in 1959.

The SABR bioproject has a fine baseball biography of Lown, written by Adam Ulrey, at Turk Lown  bio.
Here's the current list of living players from '52 Topps.

PLAYER                     1952 TOPPS   BIRTH          TEAM
                        `           CARD NO.      DATE

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

Monday, July 25, 2016

Frick gave Cooke's blast HR status

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.

It's the 1930s and the batter at the plate at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis gets ahold of the pitch, sending it 400 feet to right-center field. The ball clangs off the edge of the roof covering the bleachers, bouncing back into the field of play. 

If the St. Louis Browns are hosting another American League team, the umpire signals home run. If, however, the Cardinals are the home team in a National League game, the umpire makes no such call; the ball is in play and the runner advances as best he can.

If you look at Dusty Cooke's major league record (and why would you?) in the "official" encyclopedia Total Baseball, or on, you'll see him credited with two home runs for 1938.  If you delve deeper into Cooke's game logs, however, you'll find only one home run credited. 

What's up with that? 

That bonus home run comes by fiat from then-National League President Ford C. Frick.

Cooke was playing right field for the Cincinnati Reds at St. Louis on May 14, 1938. 

In the top of the 6th inning, the Reds were ahead 3-1 with two out and two on, Cooke hit a blast into right-center field. Lonny Frey and Billy Myers scored as Cooke slid into third. 

Cincinnati manager Bill McKechnie came out to argue that Cooke should be given a home run, as the ball he hit struck the edge of the pavilion over the bleachers, or one of the steel beams supporting the roof. That meant the ball had cleared the concrete wall as it left the field of play.

If this had been an American League game, with the St. Louis Browns as the home team at Sportsman's Park, it would have been a home run. Such a situation was covered in the ground rules printed on the back of the managers' line-up card. When the Cardinals were the home team, however, the situation was not mentioned on the line-up card.

McKechnie argued that Cooke's run should count and the score should be 6-1 in favor of Cincinnati. The Cardinals scored four runs in the bottom of the 9th which should have given the Reds a 6-5 victory.  Rookie Enos Slaughter banged a two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th to win the game 7-6. McKechnie phoned league president Ford Frick to protest the game.

In typical Ford Frick style, the prexy dithered while players and management of both the Reds and Cardinals argued their case in the media. Frick said he would visit the St. Louis ballyard on June 1 to study the matter and issue his decision thereafter. On June 3, Frick ruled.

It was his decree that the game would be replayed in its entirely as the second game of a Aug. 20 doubleheader when the Reds visited St. Louis. 

That decision pleased nobody. The Reds felt the proper disposition would be to resume at game in the bottom of the 6th with the Reds ahead by 6-1. The Cardinals were unhappy with the date of the make-up game. They already had a doubleheader scheduled against Cincinnati on Aug. 21. It made more sense, they argued, to schedule the replay for July 11 or 12 when the Reds would be visiting for single games. 

The game of Aug. 14 went into the books as a 7-7 tie, with Cooke being credited with a home run. 

Reds manager McKechnie was quoted saying, "We won that game fairly and squarely and it really should be awarded to us without any replay of any sort, but making us play an entirely new game is decidedly unjust. However, we'll play it as ordered and make no further protest."

The Reds won the first game of the Aug. 20 doubleheader 4-2; Cooke did not play. He also sat out most of the make-up game, getting a pinch-hit single to start a three-run rally in the top of the 8th. It wasn't enough for the Reds to prevail, however, as the Cardinals won 5-4. St. Louis won both games of the next day's doubleheader. Cooke was an unsuccessful pinch-hitter in both Aug. 21 games.

When the 1938 season ended, it also marked the end of Dusty Cooke's major league career.

After three minor league seasons, he come up with the Yankees in 1930. Injuries limited his play in 1931 and, especially, 1932, when he had only one plate appearance. He'd been traded to the Red Sox for 1933 and played four years with Boston.

He spent the 1937 season with Boston's farm team at Minneapolis. He was having a great year when he was sold to the Cincinnati Reds for delivery in 1938. With the Millers in 1937 he hit .345 with 18 home runs.

With the Reds in 1938, at age 31, he hit .275, ending his eight-year big league career with a .280 average and 24 home runs. Three of his home runs, one each in 1930, 1933 and 1936, had come against the Browns at Sportsman's Park.

Cooke was traded to the Cardinals after the 1938 season, but never played for them in St. Louis. He spent four seasons at the top level of the minor leagues with Rochester (1939, 1942) and Jersey City (1940-41), batting a combined .294.

In retirement he joined teammate Ben Chapman as trainer and coach with the Philadelphia Phillies. He also reportedly joined Chapman in virulently race-baiting Jackie Robinson when he came up with the Dodgers in 1947.

An excellent account of Cooke's baseball life can be found written by Bill Nowlin on the SABR biography project. Dusty Cooke baseball bio

Though his big league days coincided with the Goudey bubblegum baseball card heyday of 1933-38, Dusty Cooke never appeared on a major card issue during his playing days.

In 1949, while coaching with the Phils, he was included in the set of Phillies and A's newspaper "cards" issued by the Bulletin in its Sunday roto section.

When collectors' issues were fashionable in the 1970s, Cooke was found in TCMA sets of 1972, 1975 and 1980. In 1992 he was included in the Conlon Collection set.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Updated checklist of my non-sports custom cards

Until now, there has been no place where all of my custom cards could be found in checklist form.  It is my intention to update this posting as new cards are created. Similar checklists for my baseball and football custom cards will also be posted.

Custom card availability. Unless noted, all of my custom cards are available to collectors for $12.50 each, postpaid for one or two cards; $9.95 each for three or more (mix/match). To order, email me at for directions on paying via check/money order, or to my PayPal account.

Civil War News
89   Grays Wiped Out
90   Victory Parade
91   Death at 1,000 Yard
(NOTE: My Civil War News cards are
note available for sale.)

Flags of the World
81   Islamic State
82   Iran
83   Scotland
84   Wales
85   England
86   Northern Ireland
87   Alaska
88   Hawaii
89   Vatican

Hit Stars
89   Johnny Cash

Rails & Sails
201   Chicago & Northwestern Diesel
202   Queen Anne's Revenge
203   U.S.S. Monitor
204   C.S.S. Virginia
205   Orange Blossom Special
206   City of New Orleans
207   City of Miami
208   Bamboo Grove Lounge Car
209   Hiawatha Skytop Lounge Car
210   R.M.S. Titanic (sailing right)
210   R.M.S. Titanic (sailing left)
210   R.M.S. Titanic (night)
211   Alton Railroad Abraham Lincoln
212   Gulf Coast Rebel (GMO RR)
213   U.S.S.Indianapolis

Spins and Needles
81   The Quarreymen
82   Marty Robbins
83   Roy Orbison

TV Westerns
72   Maverick -- James Garner
74   Maverick -- Gentleman Gambler
75   Maverick -- Well-Dressed Strangers
77   Rawhide -- Clint Eastwood
78   Rawhide -- Strategy Session
83   Rifleman -- Lucas' Rifle
86   Wyatt Earp -- Hugh O'Brian
87   Wyatt Earp -- A Legend is Born
88   Wyatt Earp -- Buntline Special
91   Wyatt Earp -- Taming Tombstone
92   Bat Masterson -- Gene Barry
93   Bat Masterson -- County Sheriff Bat
97   Cheyenne -- Clint Walker
98   Cheyenne -- Lonely Man, Cheyenne

World on Wheels
181   Buick Centurian (front view)
181   Buick Centurian (back view)
182   Dodge La Femme
183   Volkswagen Microbus
184   London Black Taxi
185   Schwinn Whizzer
186   Vincent Black Shadow
187   Minerva Town Car
188   Airstream Wanderer
189  Chrysler Town and Country
190  American Moto-Scoot

Friday, July 15, 2016

World on Wheels series continues with AmericanMoto-Scoot circa 1946

Usually this time of year my custom-card making centers on baseball subjects. But this summer I've been more interested in non-sports.

My latest is a continuation of my World on Wheels series. The subject is a motor scooter I saw while watching an episode of American Pickers. In one of their barn scrounges, the guys found a clapped-out hulk of an American Moto-Scoot.

It took a fair amount of google-searching, but I finally found enough data on that scooter brand to make a creditable card back.

The Moto-Scoot company was founded in Chicago in 1937 by Norman Siegel. When he entered the military in World War II, the company was taken over by a group of local financiers. When production was resumed in 1946, the brand name had been changed to American Moto-Scoot.

The company had a broad lineup of solo and two-seat models. I saw several times on the internet that Moto-Scoot had outsold such standards as Cushman and Salsbury, but I never saw any  hard numbers to verify that.

Moto-Scoots were lightweight, versatile and dependable. Built on a 50" wheelbase on a welded tubular steel frame, the bikes could be had with either a Briggs & Stratton or Lauson engine, putting out about 2-1/4 hp.

The Moto-Scoot featured a two-speed Albion transmission with an Amsco automatic centrifugal clutch. The scooter featured such refinements as a kick starter, ignition lock and key and a full one-gallon gas tank.

At 165-180 pounds, depending on model, the Moto-Scoot boasted a fuel efficiency rating of 80 mpg. Top speed was tuted as 40 mph.

Siegel had an innovative marketing plan. While he had a few brick-and-mortar dealerships, and sold the scooters in the J&R Auto Parts chain, sales were primarily mail order, through such catalogers as Spiegel and Montgomery Ward.

One undated brochure on the internet shows prices between $111.50 and $146.50, depending on model.

I didn't read deep enough on the internet to know why the company apparently halted production in 1947 or shortly thereafter.

There appears to be a thriving market today for surviving scooters and parts.

I've got a number of other non-sports customs in the hopper but I'm going to make an effort to whittle away at my baseball backlog.

You can order this card. Unless noted, all of my custom cards are available to collectors for $12.50 each, postpaid for one or two cards; $9.95 each for three or more (mix/match). Complete checklists of all my custom baseball, football and non-sports custom cards were published on this blog in late May. To order, email me at for directions on paying via check/money order, or to my PayPal account.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Robbins, Orbison added to "2nd Series" Spins and Needles set

Most of the 80 subjects in Fleer's original 1960 "Spins and Needles" bubblegum card set were drawn from the world of what was then collectively known as pop music. 

Today many of the artists on those cards are better known as belonging to the genres of Rhythm & Blues, Folk, Rockabilly, Doo-Wop and even Rock and Roll.

There weren't many Country and Western singers in the Spins set, so I've added a custom card for a long-time favorite of mine, Marty Robbins.

Roy Orbison was more closely related to the original Spins subjects but his career had not really taken off by the time Fleer released the set.

Purists may note that the backs of my new custom Spins cards reflect 1961 dating, rather than 1960. Consider it a Second Series, if you will. If I had adhered to the strict 1960 timeline, there would have been precious little to say about Robbins and Orbison.

You can find all you need to know about Marty Robbins and Roy Orbison, and even hear much of their music, on various internet sites, so I'll just share the images of my cards.

You can order these card. Unless noted, all of my custom cards are available to collectors for $12.50 each, postpaid, for one or two cards; $9.95 each for three or more (mix/match). Complete checklists of all my custom baseball, football and non-sports custom cards were published on this blog in late May. To order, email me at for directions on paying via check/money order, or to my PayPal account.