Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Koslo's last pitch made baseball history

Uncommon commons. Contemporary accounts of tidbits that as a collector of baseball and football cards I found interesting because they helped bring to life the faces on the cards I collected. I figure that if I found these items of interest, so would other vintage card collectors.

On May 29, in an entry about Clark Griffith, we mentioned that he was the first known major league pitcher to have pitched to just one player in the season, and to give up a home run to that player. (Hal Chase in 1912).

The last player known to have done so was Dave Koslo, in 1955.

Koslo was a Wisconsin native who had pitched for 10 season with the New York Giants between 1941-53. He'd been sold to the Orioles for 1954, and the Milwaukee Braves picked him up when Baltimore released him in mid-season.

Koslo made 12 relief appearances for Milwaukee in 1954, with a 1-1 record and a save.

In the second game of the 1955 season, April 14, Koslo was called to the mound at St. Louis in the bottom of the 11th inning, with the Braves and Cardinals tied 7-7. Rookie centerfieder Bill Virdon came to the plate and delivered his first major league home run, a walk-off homer.

Koslo never pitched again in professional baseball.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hall of Famer knew Jesse James

Uncommon commons. Contemporary accounts of tidbits that as a collector of baseball and football cards I found interesting because they helped bring to life the faces on the cards I collected. I figure that if I found these items of interest, so would other vintage card collectors.

Here's three things you probably didn't know about Hall of Famer Clark Griffith.

1) He claimed to have had a speaking acquaintance with, and to once having saddled the horse of, notorious outlaw Jesse James.

Griffith was born in 1869 near Clear Creek, Mo., in the heart of Jesse James' country. Griffith would have been about 13 years old at the time of the outlaw's death.

2) While managing the Washington Senators in his early 40s from 1912-14, the Old Fox put himself on the mound as a relief pitcher for an inning in one game per year.

In 1912, he became the first known major league pitcher to face only one batter in a season, and give up a home run to that batter. In the last game of the season, at New York, Griffith took the mound in the bottom of the 8th inning and gave up an inside-the-park home run to Hal Chase. The Senators lost the game 8-6.

3) In 1923 Griffith adopted two of his sister's children, and later, after their father died, took in their five siblings. One of the adopted children, Calvin, took Griffith's name and, upon Clark Griffith's death in 1955, took over control of the Senators.

One of Calvin's brothers was major leaguer Sherry Robertson, who later served as the Senators' assistant farm director. Two of Sherry Robertson's sisters married ballplayers. Mildred married future Hall of Famer Joe Cronin. Thelma married Joe Haynes, a Senators' player and coach.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Baseball C.S.I.

Uncommon commons. Contemporary accounts of tidbits that as a collector of baseball and football cards I found interesting because they helped bring to life the faces on the cards I collected. I figure that if I found these items of interest, so would other vintage card collectors.



Jack Tighe, circa 1940.
 A baseball rhubarb went high-tech in 1953 when criminal investigative technology was used to settle a dispute.

In an Aug. 8 game at Buffalo, International League umpire Max Felerski ruled that a drive to the left-center field wall had gone through the screen there for a ground-rule double. Bisons manager Jack Tighe insisted the ball had bouned off the top of the screen for a home run.

Tighe insisted so vehemently that Felerski threw him out of the game. In reporting the expulsion to league president Frank Shaugnessy, Felerski said Tighe "spat in my face."

Shag telegraphed Tighe that effective immediately he was indefinitely suspended.

Tighe defended himself, saying, "I did curse and I may have sputtered, but I didn't spit. I wouldn't spit on a dog." He also admitted he had threatened to spit on Felerski.

On Aug. 10, Tighe packed up players Frank Carswell, Jack Wallaesa, Johnny Maldovan, who were witnesses to the confrontation, and general manager Joe Ziegler and drove to a police headquarters for a lie detector examination. It was reported to be the first time a polygraph had been thus employed in professional baseball.

Though it was an unprecedented event, the stakes were high. If Shaughnessy had determined Tighe to be guilty of deliberately spitting the umpire's face, he could have suspended the manager from Organized Baseball for a year.

The tests took nearly two hours, and the press was barred from the proceedings. According to the examiner, the tests taken of Tighe and the three players all indicated there was no spitting. When presented with the result on Aug. 12, Shaughnessy lifted Tighe's suspension and fined him $100 for swearing at the ump. Felerski later conceded the spitting "colud have been accidental."

The Bisons finished third in the I.L. in 1953, and Tighe was replaced by Billy Hitchcock as manager for 1954. Tighe scouted for the Tigers in 1954 and went to Detroit as a coach in 1955-56. He was promoted to Tigers manager for 1957-58, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, in the American League.

Though he had a lengthy minor league career as a player and a manager, Jack Tighe stint as a big league skipper was in the years that Topps didn't produce cards of the managers. I'm not aware of any baseball "card" picturing him.

Of the other players in this situation, only Frank Carswell appeared on a career-contemporary baseball card, and that was in the scarce 1953 Glendale Meats Detroit Tigers regional issue during his brief (mid-April through May 30) "career" in the majors.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Colts' Rechichar played minor league baseball

Uncommon commons. Contemporary accounts of tidbits that as a collector of baseball and football cards I found interesting because they helped bring to life the faces on the cards I collected. I figure that if I found these items of interest, so would other vintage card collectors.


In our presentation on May 22, we featured Hall of Fame football executive Jim Finks and his brief minor league baseball career.

Like many pro footballers of the era, Finks tried his hand at professional baseball as a way of earning a paycheck between football seasons.

Another such two-sport player of that era was Bert Rechichar.

Rechichar, though he was blind in one eye, starred at the University of Tennessee (as shown on this 1952 Bowman card). He was the first round pick (#10 overall) of the Cleveland Browns in the 1952 NFL draft.

He played only one season for the Browns before moving on to the Baltimore Colts (1953-59), Pittsburgh Steelers (1960) and N.Y. Titans (1961). He was basically a defensive back, sometimes playing at linebacker and, on offense, as an end or halfback. He also punted and place-kicked, and ran them back.

In 1953, the Colts' debut year in the NFL after the Dallas Texans were transferred, Rechichar practiced kicking long field goals, even though he wasn't the club's regular kicker. In the season opener against the Bears, the Colts found themselves at the Chicago 49 with four seconds left in the first half when an assistant coach wondered if Bert could kick a field goal from there. So Rechichar went on the field without bothering to attach his chin strap and lined a 56-yarder through the uprights. Until Tom Dempsey's 63-yarder in 1970, it was the NFL record. That same game, Rechichar ran back an interception 39 yards for a touchdown in the Colts 13-9 upset of the Bears in the franchise's first game played before 23,715 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.

Rechichar played two seasons in the lower minor leagues, as property of the Cleveland Indians. He was an outfielder with the Reading Indians (Class A, Eastern League) in 1952, but hit only .222. In 1953 he started the season at Class B Spartanburg of the Tri-State League. He was again hitting only about two and a quarter when the Peaches released him on June 26 to the Rock Hill Chiefs, of the same league.  Rock Hill put him on the mound the next day against Spartanburg. He lost to his old team 12-2, giving up five hits and five runs in five innings. Rock Hill gave him his pink slip after the one game. He went back to Reading, but batted only .175 and ended his professional baseball career.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Durocher, Boudreau opposing shortstops in exhibition game

Uncommon commons. Contemporary accounts of tidbits that as a collector of baseball and football cards I found interesting because they helped bring to life the faces on the cards I collected. I figure that if I found these items of interest, so would other vintage card collectors.



Last time in this space we recalled a 1953 exhibition game between the Pittsburgh Pirates bench-warmers and a local semi-pro team.
 
That was only one of many exhibitions games played by major league teams in 1953. A lot of these games were played to raise money for various charities.
 
One such game was a June 29 contest at Fenway Park between the New York Giants and the Boston Red Sox. As was often the case in those games, line-ups were fluid, often showcasing for the bonus babies who were often relegated to the bench for most of their two-year forced stay on the big club's roster.
 
The Giants-Red Sox game, played before 17,122 fans for the benefit of hospitalized veterans, also included appearances by the respective teams' managers. The Giants won the game 6-3.
 
Giants' skipper Leo Durocher, at 47 years of age, had last played semi-regularly in 1940. He pinch-hit a single off the Green Monster. He was credited with a steal of second base when Boudreau refused to apply the tag on the sliding Durocher, who then took over for rookie shortstop Daryl Spencer for two innings.
 
Boudreau, who had last played semi-regularly in 1951 and was, at age 35 in his second year as Boston manager, also played some at second base and rapped a double down the left field line.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pirates reserves played semi-pros to 5-5 tie

 Uncommon commons. Contemporary accounts of tidbits that as a collector of baseball and football cards I found interesting because they helped bring to life the faces on the cards I collected. I figure that if I found these items of interest, so would other vintage card collectors.


I've mentioned before that my recent review of The Sporting News microfilm from 1953 showed that most major league teams played in several exhibition games during days off in the season. Besides generating ticket revenue, the exhibition games were used to boost interest in minor league affiliates and, often in the early Fifties, to give fans a look at five-figure bonus babies who didn't often see action in official league games.

Sadly, such games are now a thing of the past.

One account of a 1953 exhibition game that I found particularly interesting involved the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was not an inter-league rivalry game, nor a game against one of the Bucs' farm teams. Rather, following the May 2 afternoon game with the Cincinnati Redlegs at Forbes Fields, the Pirates' reserve players (who hadn't played in the afternoon game) piled on a bus with manager Fred Haney and club executives Branch Rickey Sr. and Jr., and motored to suburban South Hills to play a twilight game against Dormant, the 1951 and 1952 champions of the semi-pro Greater Pittsburgh League. Dormant alumni had included in the past such MLB stars as Paul Waner, Lute Boone, Wilbur Cooper and Rip Collins.

For the exhibition, played before an overflow crowd of 3,000, the Pirates fielded a team that included recently signed bonus babies Vic Janowicz and twin infielders Johnny and Eddie O'Brien. Cal Hogue pitched.

The star attraction for Dormant manager Billy Fuchs' team was Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Jim Finks, who played a few innings in the outfield and went 0-for-1 at bat. The semi-pros played the Pirates to a 5-5 tie.

Finks, a college star at the University of Tulsa, had been the Steelers' 12th round pick in the 1949 NFL draft.

Like many pro football players of the era, Finks picked up off-season income playing in the minor leagues. He was light-hitting (.236 average, no power) catcher with the Class C (Eastern Texas League) Tyler Trojans in 1949 and Class B (Big State League) Austin Pioneers in 1950.

He played in the with Pittsburgh in the NFL through 1955, then went to the Canadian Football League as player, coach and general manager of the Calgary Stampeders.

He returned to the NFL with as GM of the Vikings from 1964-73. He moved on to the Bears in 1974-82, then took over as general manager of the Chicago Cubs in 1983-84. He rejoined the NFL with the New Orleans Saints from 1985-92. He proved to be a master of building successful teams and, a year after his death in 1994, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

For '52T fanatics. Gaps in your collection?

One of the greatest aspects of collecting baseball cards is that there is no "right" or "wrong" way to collect. Unlike coins and stamps, where the popular albums define the boundaries of a collection, in cards we're free to pick and choose what appeals to us.

Sure, to an extent the principal reference books like the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards present checklists of "complete" sets, but since these references are not "official," and in many cases are not all-inclusive, each collector can decide what constitutes a complete set.

This is particularly true of error and variation cards. Few collectors agree on exactly what constitutes an error or a variation, and their collecting pursuits are guided accordingly.

Back on May 8, we presented a newly reported Frank House variation card in 1952 Topps by Tom Killeen of Massachusetts. That card seems to fit the generally accepted hobby definition of a variation: requiring human intervention to create.

Killeen also sent along information and scans of two other 1952 Topps cards that may of interest to collectors of 1952 Topps and/or errors and variations.

Each of these cards exhibits a gap in the black frame line that separates the central picture portion of the card from the white border. The gaps are small, and could easily go unnoticed, but Killeen has sent confirmation of the existence of several examples of each card.

The cards affected are #99 Gene Woodling and #116 Carl Scheib.

It is probably impossible to pinpoint the cause of these gaps 60 years after the fact. They may have occurred in the pre-press color stripping process. More likely they occurred when wear or damage to the black printing plate resulted in part of the frame line being removed. Technically, if the former was the case, the correction of that error after it was discovered would fit the definition of a man-made variation. However, since the wear/damage theory would present the same gaps on the finished cards, it's unlike these two '52Ts will be added to the catalog's listings.

They're presented here because a fellow collector took the time and made the effort to study these anomalies and to share his findings with you. For that, Tom Killeen deserves our thanks.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

'73s not so bad, after all

Back on March 15, when I posted my custom card creation of a 1972 Topps-style Gorman Thomas pre-rookie card, I mentioned that I had another good early spring training photo of Thomas, but that I didn't want to create a 1973-style card, because I didn't like that format.

After looking over some 1973 Brewer cards, I decided that the format wasn't so bad after all, and that a '73-style card would both add to my repertoire  of vintage card templates, but also be a good use for that extra Thomas photo.

Here's the result.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

When Jackie was rapped as racist collaborator

 Uncommon commons. Contemporary accounts of tidbits that as a collector of baseball and football cards I found interesting because they helped bring to life the faces on the cards I collected. I figure that if I found these items of interest, so would other vintage card collectors.


"From now on, Jackie should keep his mouth shut about racial discrimination because what he did in Birmingham outrages his fine utterances on fair play."

Those strong words of condemnation for Jackie Robinson came from Alabama's largest "Negro newspaper," the Birmingham World, in mid-October, 1953. "Chalk up another victory for bigotry in Birmingham," the paper said. "Add Jackie Robinson's name to America's shame list. He gave in to racial intolerance. We aren't rooting anymore for Jackie."

This outpouring of disappointment and rage was precipitated during a post-season barnstorming tour of the South. Promoted by Ted Warner, the month-long series of exhibition game in cities and towns that lacked major league baseball featured "Jackie Robinson's All-Stars.," playing nines made up of stars of the Negro American League, usually augmented with some local talent. 

The post-season tour was something of an annual event for Robinson. In 1953 his picked team for the first time included three white players. Dodgers first baseman Gil Hodges and former Brooklyn pitcher Ralph Branca, who'd ended the '53 season with Tigers, were joined by St. Louis Browns second baseman Bobby Young on Robinson's otherwise all-black assemblage.

The 1953 tour began in Baltimore on Oct. 9, not long after it had been confirmed that the city would be getting major league ball in 1954 with the St. Louis Browns moving to Maryland.

The exhibitions drew 92,824 fans in 32 games played across Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. The Robinson All-Stars defeated their opponents 24-6 with two tie games.

One of the tour's stops was Birmingham, on Oct. 18. Because there was a local ordinance in force at that time precluding black and white players from competing in the same contest, Robinson benched his trio of Caucasians. 

"Democracy was benched and sportsmanship sidelined when Warner and Jackie did this," the World editorialized.  The game should have been cancelled as a gesture of protest against such laws. He let us down."

Attempting damage control, Robinson said later in a press conference back in Harlem that he "may have been wrong," but that he "thought he was right at the time."

When the game had been booked prior to the end of the baseball season, it appeared that Birmingham's law prohibiting integrated sporting contests might have been on the way out, at the behest of Mayor James Morgan, who called the law unconstitutional. A late-season surge by the Birmingham Barons team in the Southern Association made it appear as if the city might be hosting games in the "Dixie Series" pitting the SA champions against the Texas League pennant winners, the Dallas Eagles, who had a number of black players on its roster. There were no black players on Southern Association rosters in 1953.

Birmingham eventually finished fourth in the SA, and talk of repealing the segregationist policy was largely scrapped, though it remained an issue in that fall's local elections.

In justifying his taking of money to play the game under segregated conditions, Robinson said he was influenced to play the game by the opinions of local citizens, both black and white, by Ted Warner and by his teammates. Robinson said the biggest mistake was in booking the game in the first place.

Roscoe McGowan, a New York baseball writer who provided The Sporting News with the majority of its scant coverage of Negro Leagues baseball in 1953, weighed in on the controversy with tihs, ". . . since the Dodgers always had refused to schedule games in cities where their Negro members were not permitted to play, Jack had compromised on a principle for which he was supposed to battle and for which Brooklyn club officials and other white organizations had been battling."

At his press conference, Robinson said he planned another barnstorming tour in 1954, and would again field a team of mixed black and white players. He declared that proceeds from that tour would go to local charities in the South to repay "the people of the South for being so nice" to him.


As a side note, playing for Robinson's All-Stars during part of the tour was "Murry" Wills, future L.A. Dodgers infield star, who in 1953 was shortstop of the Miami Sun Sox of the Florida International League. Besides playing at short, Wills did some pitching, as needed.

Monday, May 16, 2011

When Cuba invaded the Mountain States League

Uncommon commons. Contemporary accounts of tidbits that as a collector of baseball and football cards I found interesting because they helped bring to life the faces on the cards I collected. I figure that if I found these items of interest, so would other vintage card collectors.

I wonder who was more culturally shocked when Cuban ballplayers invaded the Mountain States League in the spring of 1953? Was it the Cuban ballplayers, generally teenagers (or at least trying to pass as teenagers) fresh out of the cane fields and sandlots, or the rural folk of the tiny Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky hill country that comprised the Class D league?

With the U.S. military gobbling up young men to fill the ranks during the Korean War, ballplayers were hard to come by for the lower-level professional leagues in 1953.

Dr. Hobart Ford, who owned the Morristown Red Sox of the Mountain States League, decided upon a radical strategy to fill his uniforms.

Through an arrangement with Joe Cambria, business manager of the Havana Cubans of the Class B Florida International League -- a team owned by Washington Senators owner Clark Griffith -- Ford imported an entire team of young Cubans; 16 players including veteran manager Napoleon Reyes. The Morristown Red Sox would serve as a farm club for Havana, which in turn fed Cuban prospects to the Senators for may years.

Things looked dicey as late as four days before the season opener as visa problems delayed the arrival of many of the Cuban players.

Ford explained his player procurement by saying, "Baseball talent is getting more difficult to find all the time. Most young American boys are going into the army and their future in Class D ball is a lot more indefinite than it used to be. Therefore our Cuban connection will supply us with good players and assure us of a top-flight team."

According to the owner, all of the Cuban imports had played winter ball in the Caribbean in recent months. The roster limit in the league was 20 players, required to me pared down to 17 a month into the season.

A look at the roster for the 1953 Morristown Red Sox shows very few Anglo names. There were only two major leaguers on the team. Manager Nap Reyes had played three seasons with the N.Y. Giants during World War II. At the age of (at least) 33, he played 96 games at first base and shortstop for Morristown in 1953, batting .370.

Future big league pitcher Pedro Ramos, at age 18, won seven and lost six on a 6.26 ERA. He went go on to pitch for 15 years (1955-1970) in the majors, for the Senators, Twins, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Pirates, Reds and the "new" Senators. Pitching for the "old" Senators in 1958-1960, and the expansion Minnesota Twins in 1961, Ramos tied or led the American League in losses in each of those seasons, dropping between 18-20 games each year. His career big league record was a hard-luck 117-160 with an ERA of 4.08.

With their late-arriving squad, the Morristown Red Sox started the season 0-4. They finished the year in 4th place, 15 games out. Both Ramos and Reyes remained with the team in 1954, after which the league folded, as did so many lower-level minor league circuits in the early-1950s.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Two T206 Marquards hit with errors

Last time in this space, we presented a pair of heretofore uncataloged error cards from the 1909-1911 T206 series.

Because of the singular place that tobacco card set holds in the hobby, its checklist is considered virtually inviolate. When the Joe Doyle, N.Y. Nat'l (hands above head) variation was added 10 or so years ago, it was the first change in the list in many years. The checklist is likely to remain fixed for a long time to come.


So unique is the T206 set, and so popular even a century after its issue, that it is the only set in the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards for which a subsidiary listing is provided of well-known error cards. These error cards are differentiated from the nine accepted variations in T206 by the fact that they were likely the product of printing errors, rather than man-made intervention in the process.

Because of the complex nature of the lithographic printing system by which T206 were produced, the series was prone to several types of errors, from wear or damage to one or more of the printing plates, to deficiencies of one or more of the more than one dozen specific colors of ink that might have comprised the image on any one card.


Some collectors feel these errors, especially when they exist in more than a single example, represent a suitable pursuit in and of themselves, separate from the mail body of T206. Some of the errors can bring several hundred dollars. For those reasons, many years ago we chose to incorporate the "1901-11 T206 Errors" listings in the big book.


Now, through the efforts of T206 devotee Trae Regan, four more T206 errors will be added to that "set" in a forthcoming edition of the catalog. These are not earthshaking discoveries; they have been known among serious T206 collectors for a long time, but they have never been previously cataloged. We'll share two more of those with you today. Both have been confirmed in several examples, signaling they are "collectible" to those who want to search them out. Both involve the cards of Hall of Fame pitcher Rube Marquard.

Marquard (Portrait), "reverse comma"
More than a few of the T206 Marquard portrait (350 Subjects series) cards can be found with what appears to be a backwards comma, rather than a period, after the "N" on his jersey. This was probablt the result of damage to a printing plate.

Marquard (Follow through), red "8"
An extraneous object falling on the red/magenta plate while it was being prepared is the likely cause of what appears to be a red numeral "8" under the pitchers left arm on some cards. This error has been observed on both Piedmont and Sweet Caporal cards of the 350-460 Subjects series.

As mentioned, these errors will probably be added to a forthcoming edition of the Standard Catalog. How they will be priced in their initial presentation remains to be seen and will be based on hobby market demand.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Four more T206 Error listings

Because of the singular place that the T206 1909-1911 tobacco card set holds in the hobby, its checklist is considered virtually inviolate. When the Joe Doyle, N.Y. Nat'l (hands above head) variation was added 10 or so years ago, it was the first change in the list in many years. The checklist is likely to remain fixed for a long time to come.

So unique is the T206 set, and so popular even a century after its issue, that it is the only set in the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards for which a subsidiary listing is provided of well-known error cards. These error cards are differentiated from the nine accepted variations in T206 by the fact that they were likely the product of printing errors, rather than man-made intervention in the process.

Because of the complex nature of the lithographic printing system by which T206 were produced, the series was prone to several types of errors, from wear or damage to one or more of the printing plates, to deficiencies of one or more of the more than one dozen specific colors of ink that might have comprised the image on any one card.

Some collectors feel these errors, especially when they exist in more than a single example, represent a suitable pursuit in and of themselves, separate from the mail body of T206. Some of the errors can bring several hundred dollars. For those reasons, many years ago we chose to incorporate the "1901-11 T206 Errors" listings in the big book. 

Now, through the efforts of T206 devotee Trae Regan, four more T206 errors will be added to that "set" in a forthcoming edition of the catalog. These are not earthshaking discoveries; they have been known among serious T206 collectors for a long time, but they have never been previously cataloged. We'll share two of those with you today. Both have been confirmed in several examples, signaling they are "collectible" to those who want to search them out.

Randall, "MILWAUKEF"
The T206 card of Newt Randall can be found exhibiting the city name at bottom as "MILWAUKEF". This is likely the result of the bottom horizontal bar of the last "E" being damaged or obstructed in the later stages of the print run(s). All examples of the muffed Milwaukee reported thus far reported have appeared on Piedmont 350 backs.

Leifeld, partial "G"
On some examples of the T206 card of Lefty Leifeld (Pitching), there is a portion of the "G" of "PITTSBURG" on his jersey missing. Information on the backs of those cards with the partial-G is not available, though the Leifeld (Pitching) card was issued in both 150 Subjects and 350 Subjects printings.

Next time, we'll present Regan's two other reported errors -- both involving the same Hall of Famer!

Friday, May 13, 2011

1952 Winston-Salem Cardinals

The scrapbook of Winston-Salem Cardinals photos that I bought circa 2005 (see the entries yesterday and the day before) has nine autographed player portrait photos. Like the 1950 and 1951 pix, they are the work of a local studio, Coppedge, though we don't know how they were distributed.


The roster of '52 W-S Cardinals playing in 10+ games looks like it had 24 players, so this group represents only a third or so of the team. The number of player photos issued in this series is currently unknown.

The '52s, like the '51 photos, are in 4-1/4" x 5-1/2" format, with deckle edges. The difference between the two years' issues is that the 1952 photos have a narrower white border all around.

Eight of my nine 1952 photos have genuine player autographs. They are:


Dom Barczewski
Bill Bernier
J.C. Dunn
Benny Fasano
Wally Fessler
Jim Michalec
Bill Oberschmidt
Bob Rooney

The ninth photo is unidentified. It is shown at bottom-left in the accompanying picture.

There were only two former or future major leaguers on the 1952 Winston-Salem roster. Johnny Grodzicki, who probably was the team's pitching coach at age 35, had two wins for the W-S club. Paul Owens, for whom playing at Class B Winston-Salem represented the pinnacle of his playing career, never played in the major leagues, but managed the Philadelphia Phillies in 1972, 1983-84. In 1983 he won the National League pennant.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

1951 Winston-Salem Cardinals

Yesterday we presented an uncataloged set of player photos of the 1950 Winston-Salem Cardinals. Today, we'll continue poking into the scrapbook in which they were found.

My W-S scrapbook has 15 photos of 1951 W-S Cardinals, plus a sponsored team photo.

They player photos are in a different format from the 1950s. The 1951s are 4-1/4" x 5-1/2" with wide white borders and deckle edges. As with the 1950 (and 1952) player photos, we know they were the work of a local studio, Coppedge, whose ad appears rubber-stamped on the back, but we don't know how they were distributed.

The player names are not on the photos themselves, but each of those in my scrapbook is (presumably) authentically autographed.
 
The 15 players I have are:

Del Childs
George Condrick
Joe Cunningham
Frank DiPrima
J.C. Dunn
Johnny Grodzicki
Don Kohler
Jim Lewey
Red Long
Herbie Mancini
Stu Miller
Harold Olt
Dick Rand
Dennis Reeder
Don Stephens

Cunningham, Grodzicki, Miller and Rand were former or future major leaguers.

Joe Cunningham had a 12-year major league career and was a lifetime .291 hitter. He played with the St. Louis Cardinals (1954, 1956-61), Chicago White Sox (1962-64) and Washington Senators (1964-66).

Johnny Grodzicki's big league career (1941, 1946-47 withthe St. Louis Cardinals) was behind him when he pitched for Winston-Salem in 1951. His major league numbers were a 2-2 record and 4.43 ERA. At 34 years old, he was old timer on the '51 W-S Cards, and probably functioned more as a pitching coach than a player, though he was 2-4 with a 3.44 ERA in 1951.

Stu Miller, who was 13-10 with a 2.88 ERA at W-S in 1951, began his major league career the following season with St. Louis. He pitched for 16 seasons in the bigs, with a 105-103 record and 3.24 ERA. He ptiched for the Cardinals (1952-54, 1956), Phillies (1956), Giants (1957-62), Orioles (1963-67) and Braves (1968).

Dick Rand played a few games with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1953 and 1955, and was the Pirates back-up catcher in 1957.


Those on the 1951 Winston-Salem Cardinals roster (10+ games) whose pictures are not in the scrapbook, are:


Hal Atkinson
Lou Dolci
Byron Elser
Ray Jablonski
Jim King
Robert Klein
Warren Moody
Arnold Riesgo

Of those, only Jablonski and Riesgo are included in the team photo, presumably taken at the start of the season. The others probably joined the team during the course of the season.

Tomorrow, we'll conclude with a look at the 1952 Winston-Salem Cardinals team-issued player photos.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

1950 Winston-Salem Cardinals


This 11-3/16" x 8-3/4" team picture of the 1950 Winston-Salem
Cardinals has facsimile autographs on the back. Future Hall
of Fame manager Earl Weaver is third from left in the bottom row.
 The last National Sports Collectors Convention I attended was in 2005. It was in Cleveland, if I recall correctly. At the show my major purchase was a scrapbook of photos related to the Winston-Salem Cardinals of the Class B Carolina League.

The scrapbook was missing its cover, and a few of the pictures that had originally been there were gone, but as a fan of 1950s minor league baseball, it seemed like a worthy addition to my collection.

Less than a year later I left my full-time job as editor of the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards and mothballed my collection for the next few years.

Recently, as the result of a posting on a vintage card collectors forum, I dug up the Winston-Salem sacrapbook for a closer look.

The book included team photos of the 1948-1951 squads, along with three partial sets of player portrait photographs, from 1950-1952.

The player photos were all the work of a Winston-Salem studio, Coppedge Piedmont Photo Finishers, Inc., whose advertising was rubber-stamped on the back of each picture. The photos are 4-1/4" x 5-1/2" with wide white borders.


Earl Weaver, from team photo
 It is not known how the photos were distributed, i.e., whether sold as a set, possibly with some type of album, or given out at selected games as an attendance incentive.

The scrapbook contained 18 individual portrait photos of the players. According to BaseballReference.com, there were 22 players (presumably those in 10+ games, except pitchers) on the roster of the 1950 Winston-Salem Cardinals.

The 18 players I have, plus future Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver, who was a 19-year old second baseman on the team, seem to comprise the full set of these player photos.

There are no photos of Russell McGovern, Willie Osteen and John Romonosky, who were on the roster of the 1950 Winston-Salem Cardinals, probably joining the team later in the season.  
This past winter, the photo of Weaver showed up on a collectors' forum. I'd bet the Earl Weaver picture was taken out of this very scrapbook before I bought the rest of it in 2005. My reason for this presumption is that the name penned in blue ink in the bottom border of the Weaver photo is in the same hand that penned the names of the players on the other photos.
The pictures I have are: 
  • Hal Atkinson
  • Gene Barth
  • Hoyt Benedict
  • Bob Bills
  • George Condrick
  • J.C. Dunn
  • Neal Hertweck
  • Jack Huesman
  • George Kissel
  • Bill LaFrance
  • Vinegar Bend Mizell
  • Kenny Morgan
  • Jim Neufeldt
  • Lee Peterson
  • Ed Polak
  • Russel Rac
  • Bobby Tiefenauer
  • Dick Umberger
 Besides Weaver, Vinegar Bend Mizell is the best-known future major leaguer on the 1950 W-S Cardinals. He was also 19 at the time, and had a 17-7 record with a 2.48 ERA that season. Romonosky, who pitched in four games for W-S with no record, pitched in the majors for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1953, and for the Washington Senators in 1958-1959. Neal Hertweck had two games with the 1952 Cardinals, going 0-for-6 at the plate. Bobby Tiefenauer won 16 and lost eight for the 1950 W-S Cardinals. His major league career included 10 seasons as a reliever for St. Louis (1952, 1955, 1961), Cleveland (1960, 1965, 1967), Houston (1962), Milwaukee (1963-1965), the Yankees (1965) and the Cubs (1968).

  
Here's a scan (actually two scans put together because of the page size) of one of the scrapbook pages.

Tomorrow we'll look at the 1951 Winston-Salem Cardinala pictures.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Owen's ear assault predated Mike Tyson

Uncommon commons. Contemporary accounts of tidbits that as a collector of baseball and football cards I found interesting because they helped bring to life the faces on the cards I collected. I figure that if I found these items of interest, so would other vintage card collectors.


Mickey Owen had a long -- 13 seasons between 1937 and 1954 -- and productive career in the major leagues though his unfortunate legacy is that of the dropped third strike in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 1941 World Series, preventing the Dodgers from pulling within a game of the Yankees, who won the series 4-1.

Owen was also one of a handful of major leaguers who were banned for three years (1946-48) for jumping their Organized Baseball contracts to take fat paychecks in the Mexican League in 1946.

With that type of material to work with, I doubt that Owen's assault of Newport News Dodgers pitcher Owen Maguire in 1953 was, as Maguire contended in a $20,000 lawsuit, "without justification or provocation." It is likely that Maguire said something that set Owen, manager of the Norfolk Tars, off on a Mike Tyson-esque rampage.

Owen was playing-manager of the Yankees' farm club in the Class B Piedmont League at the time of the attack during the Sept. 15 game.

It was reported that 20 stitches were required  after Owen bit through Maguire's right ear.

Owen denied the charge, but was fined $25 the league president.

It's not know how the lawsuit was resolved.

Owen went on to the found the renowned Mickey Owen Baseball School in the Ozarks (alumni include Michael Jordan and Charlie Sheen).

After appears in Play Ball baseball card sets in 1939-40 and the Doubleheader set of 1941, Owen dropped off baseball card checklist until the 1950-51 Bowman sets. He never appeared on a Topps card.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Bonus baby Joey Jay's short, productive rookie season

Uncommon commons. Contemporary accounts of tidbits that as a collector of baseball and football cards I found interesting because they helped bring to life the faces on the cards I collected. I figure that if I found these items of interest, so would other vintage card collectors.

Despite the fact that he was the Milwaukee Braves player closest to my own age in the 1950s, I never was a great fan of Joey Jay.

He had been signed as a $20,000 bonus baby in June, 1953. He was reportedly the first Little League alumnus to make the majors. His darkly handsome face appeared on 1954 and 1955 Topps cards (as well as the 1954 and 1955 Johnston Cookies Braves sets), but then he disappeared until 1958, while he served his delayed minor league apprenticeship.

Of course I couldn't read the sports pages at the age of three, so I didn't really know too much about Jay's rookie season until I found some tidbits while perusing 1953 issues of The Sporting News.

I learned that less than a month after his signing, Jay made his "official" professional debut in a mop-up role in a 10-0 loss at Philadelphia on July 21.

In actuality, Jay had appeared on the mound in a Braves uniform on July 15 -- in Quebec! The Braves had flown to Quebec City during the All-Star break to play their Class C farm club in the Provincial League. In front of an overflow crowd of 7,368, the M-Braves no-hit the Q-Braves in an 8-0 win. 

Six Milwaukee pitchers combined for the no-hitter. Jay followed Warren Spahn (who had won the All-Star Game the day earlier), Lew Burdette, Vern Pickford, Jim Wilson and Max Surkont. Jay finished out the game, striking out three and walking one.

He then rode the pines until the last home game of the season, the second game of a Sept. 20 doubleheader against the Reds. He was the surprise starter, facing Joe Nuxhall, and giving Milwaukee fans their first look at the bonus baby.

That was his first start in professional baseball, and he shut out Cincinnati 3-0 for the win. The game was called after 6-1/2 innings because of darkness. Jay struck out four, walked four, had a wild pitch and gave up three hits.

Jay pitched in only one more game that season, getting in an inning Sept. 26 in a 10-7 loss at Cincinnati.

For his rookie season, Jay had a 1-0 record and a 0.00 ERA in his 10 innings of work.

His teammates voted him a 1/4 share of the National League second-place money, $370.33.

Following the 1953 season, Jay barnstormed in the Northeast with a team of All-Stars headed by Washington Senators pitcher Frank Shea. On the tour, Jay was given the start on Oct. 12 in his home town of Middleton, Conn. He won 8-3.

Jay never won more than nine games in a season for the Braves. He was traded to the Reds for 1961. He then proceeded to lead the National League with 21 wins, following up with a 21-win season in 1962.

He pitched through the 1966 season, ending his big league career back with the Braves in Atlanta. His lifetime record includes 99 wins and 999 strikeouts.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

'52T House: Error or variation?

If you've read my blog entries or my ravings on some of the baseball card forums in which I participate, you know that in recent years I have undergone a significant change in my thinking on which cards should be added to the master checklists in the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards as variations.

Along with many others in the hobby, as a result of the greatly increased flow of information via the internet, I have begun to clarify my perceptions of what constitutes a real "variation" and what is "merely" a printing error.

To sum up my personal philosophy in a few words: A legitimate variation requires human participation in its creation. A printing error is the result of a mechanical malfunction somewhere in the pre-press process, while the card is on press, or in the cutting/packaging operation.

While each collector is free to create his own definitions and to judge the suitability of any card for inclusion in his holdings, as "gatekeeper" of the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, it is my judgment that will ultimately prevail in whether or not a card becomes "listed."

I recognize that many classic hobby rarities that ARE listed in the "big book" have been grandfathered in; if they were discovered today they would be unlikely to make the cut. This includes cards such as the 1957 "Gene Bakep," the 1958 "Pancho Herrer," the several 1980 name-color errors, 1990 Frank Thomas "No Name," and others.

With the 2011 edition, I began the process of excising some of the previously listed error cards. These were generally printing errors that had not yet gained any great degree of premium value.

Lately, much of my collector contact regarding the SCBC has been regarding the topic of errors and variations among vintage cards. I have used this forum, and will continue to use it, to present the most interesting of those cards, while seeking hobby input on their "catalogability" and, if nothing else, making them part of the permanent hobby record, even if they never make the pages of the catalog.

All this is by way of bringing up for discussion an error or variation affecting card #146 in the 1952 Topps set, Frank House.

Tom Killeen of Massachusetts is a dedicated collector specializing in '52T. He has identified several cards that display distinct differences, be they errors or variations.

To my mind, the most significant of these -- and the only one that has me stumped as to whether it should be labeled E or V, is the House card.

Killeen has accumulated a handful of examples of the card that did not receive the red ink in the area of the roaring tiger logo. The result is a jaundiced-looking cat with a yellow tongue and without the orange shading around the face. 


The presence of the normal amount of red ink on the cap's "D" proves that the yellow-tongued tiger did not result from simple failure of the red ink to be applied. I also noticed nothing significant in the shading of the player's face that would indicate an overall shortage of red ink. 

If forced to guess 60 years later, I'd say the color-strippers in the pre-press department at Topps' printer initially forgot to prepare the team logo to receive the red ink. After an unknown number of the cards had been printed and packaged, the mistake was discovered and corrected. 

This fits my definition of a true variation. 

A check of the 1952 Topps Frank House cards for sale on eBay on a recent day showed 27 of the red-tongued tiger and just a single example of the yellow-tongued cat.  

If today was the deadline for the 2013 edition of the Standard Catalog, I would be sorely tempted to add this as a legitimate variation. Since we have almost a year before that deadline, however, we'll have time to consider the input of other collectors and to determine whether the card market sees a premium value for the yellow-tongued tiger card.

You are encouraged to weigh in with your opinion.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hoskins had role in historic start

Uncommon commons. Contemporary accounts of tidbits that as a collector of baseball and football cards I found interesting because they helped bring to life the faces on the cards I collected. I figure that if I found these items of interest, so would other vintage card collectors.recommended him to Indians general manager Hank Greneberg.  "You better sign this fella. He can hit. I know because I could never get him out," Paige told Greenberg.


Though there had been Negro pitchers in the major leagues since Dan Bankhead with the Dodgers since 1947, it was nearly the end of the 1953 season before black starting pitchers faced each other for the first time.

In the second game of the Sept. 7 Labor Day doubleheader at Cleveland, Satchel Paige of the St. Louis Browns took the mound against the Indians Dave Hoskins.

Coincidentally, or possibly not, Hoskins had gotten his major league opportunity on Paige's recommendation.
 Hoskins had started out in pro ball as an outfielder with the Cincinnati Clowns and Homestead Greys of the Negro Leagues. He came to Organized Baseball in 1948 with Grand Rapids in the Class A Central League. He hit .393 that season and Paige 
 
The Indians signed Hoskins in 1950, assigning him to Dayton in the Central League and switching him to the mound. Hoskins was okay with the position shift, allegedly saying after being hospitalized by a beanball, "I was tired of pitchers throwing at me and made up my mind to throw at other guys."
 
After winning 22 games for Dallas in 1952, Hoskins was called up by Cleveland for the 1953 season, where he was 9-3 for the year.
 
In the Labor Day doubleheader, which the Indians won 10-7, neither Hoskins nor Paige figured in the decision. Paige went 4.2 innings, giving up seven hits (three of them home runs) and seven runs, striking out a pair. Hoskins lasted only 3.2 innings. He gave up seven hits (two HR) and five runs, striking out five. In that game Paige got his only two base hits of the season.
 
Hoskins spent most of the Indians 1954 pennant-winning season on the bench, pitching in only 14 games with an 0-1 record. That ended his major league career and he returned to the minors until he retired after the 1960 season. He was only 44 when he died of a heart attack in 1970.
 
Hoskins appeared in Topps sets in both 1954 and 1955, and was even included in Topps' 1955 Doubleheaders issue.
 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

'53 Braves were buried in endorsement largesse


This 7" x 10" photo was one of a series issued
between 1953-1957 by Spic and Span dry cleaners.
 Last time out we presented some details about the 1953 Milwaukee Braves endorsement deals as exemplified by an issue of window posters advertising Top Taste bread and Pictsweet frozen produce.

Some of the details of that endorsement deal were revealed in a late-season article in The Sporting News written by Edgar Munzel.

As the first major league team to be involved in a city switch since the turn of the 20th Century, the Braves were overwhelmed by the outpouring of fan fervor that not only set the County Stadium turnstiles spinning, but also made local heroes of even the team's bench warmers.

In his article detailing some of the endorsement deals, Munzel quoted one of the Braves players as saying that about outside of their house or apartment, most of the players had little in the way of day-to-day out-of-pocket expenses "except meat."

Many of those endorsement deals resulted in the issue of baseball cards and collectibles that remain much sought-after by collectors 60 years later.

The entire roster, including coaches and manager each received $50 and all the cookies they could eat from Johnston Cookie Co., whose factory used to be visible from virtually every seat in the stadium. Johnston, of course, produced baseball card sets in 1953, 1954 and 1955.

The players got $100 apiece and free dry cleaning from the local Spic and Span chain. Between 1953-1960, Spic and Span issued seven distinct sets of Braves cards. Wisco gas stations also had a deal with the players, though they did not issue branded cards. It is believed that blank-backed versions of the 1953-55 Spic and Span card set were actually distributed by the gas stations. The players got $100 cash and 100 gallons of gas in that arrangement.

It was reported that "half a dozen" of the Braves were given endorsement deals by R.G. Dun cigars, calling for $50 cash and free stogies. To date, only two players (Lou Burdette and Jim Wilson) have been seen in what is presumed to be a set of 10" x 9-1/2" countertop signs picturing the player and offering a team game schedule.

Naturally in Wisconsin, at least two dairies extended endorsement deals. Golden Guernsey gave the players $100 and free dairy products. If Golden Guernsey issued any type of card or premium in connection with the deal, they have not been identified to date. Neither are any surviving collectibles known from Bendfeldt Ice Cream, which paid the players $50 each and kept a freezer stocked with dairy treats in the clubhouse.

In total, Munzel estimated that the totality of what he labeled "extracurricular loot" for the Braves in their first year in Milwaukee was about $100,000. Not bad at a time when the starting MLB salary was $5,000 and top stars like Mathews and Spahn might be bringing down $25,000-40,000.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

'53 Braves window posters checklist expanded

When the Boston Braves moved to Milwaukee for the start of the 1953 season, it is safe to say that everybody connected with the team was overwhelmed by the welcome they received.

Besides spinning stadium turnstiles, the Braves were met with an outpouring of free goods and services, many connected to paying endorsement deals. I'll cover that more fully in a future entry, but one deal deserves special mention because it resulted in the issue of a very rare series of Braves player memorabilia, and because the known scope of that issue has just been greatly expanded.

For the past eight or 10 years, the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards has carried listings for 1953 Top Taste Bread posters and Pictsweet frozen produce posters.

These posters were intended to be placed in grocery store windows to attract sales with their pictures of Milwaukee Braves players holding a loaf of bread or a package of veggies. Identical in format, at about 8-1/2" x 11-1/4," the posters are in black-and-white and feature uniformed players against a plain gray backdrop. At bottom is a white panel with an identification such as, "STAR PLAYER OF THE MILWAUKEE BRAVES," along with the player name. At least one poster, shown here, has just the player's name.

The most recent edition (2011) of the Standard Catalog checklisted five players pictured with the Top Taste bread, and six with the Pictsweet products.

Now, via a message from catalog contributor John Rumierz of Michigan, we know there were at least 19 Braves featured in the promotion.

Here is the list he provided, along with the featured product:
  • Joe Adcock, TopTaste bread
  • Johnny Antonelli, Pictsweet orange juice
  • Vern Bickford, Top Taste bread
  • "Bullet Bill" Bruton, Pictsweet peas
  • Lew Bursette, Top Taste bread
  • Walker Cooper, Pictsweet cauliflower
  • Del Crandall, Top Taste bread
  • George Crowe, Top Taste bread
  • Sid Gordon, Pictsweet strawberries
  • Charlie Grimm, Pitsweet strawberries
  • Harry Hanebrink, Top Taste bread
  • Johnny Logan, Pictsweet carrots
  • Eddie Mathews, Pictsweet orange juice
  • Andy Pafko, Top Taste bread
  • Jim Pendleton, Pictsweet corn
  • Sibby Sisti, Pictsweet (product unrecorded)
  • Warren Spahn, Top Taste bread
  • Max Surkont, Pictsweet green beans
  • Bucky Walters, Toop Taste bread
Rumierz says of the Walker Cooper window poster, "This has to be the only cauliflower card in the hobby!"

In a contemporary article in The Sporting News, it was reported that National Tea Company, which owned Top Taste and Pictsweet, had signed each player (and evidently the manager and coaches) on the roster to a $50 endorsement deal that also included all the free bread and frozen produce they could use.

Because these posters were intended to be taped into store windows and/or tacked to point of purchase displays in the aisles, surviving examples are generally in wretched condition, often suffering from heavy brown toning from sun exposure.

The latest "book value" on the posters is pegged at $150 in Near Mint for average players. Spahn and Mathews were heretofore uncataloged, so your guess is as good as mine on value. In fact, it has been so long since I saw a public sale of a Pictsweet or Top Taste poster that I have no idea what a real-world value would be in today's market.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Stengel blew top when Mick blew bubbles

It is ironic that the iconic ballplayer from 1950s bubblegum cards, Mickey Mantle, was once subjected to the legendary sharp tongue of manager Casey Stengel for the sin of having been photographed during a game blowing a gum bubble.

I found an article in the Sept. 23, 1953, issue of The Sporting News that featured a full-length photo of Mantle standing in center field, hands on hips, blowing a good-size bubble. Without doing a great deal of work it's not currently possible for me to reproduce the photo here, but there's no reason not to give you the full flavor of the TSN article.

The article was date-lined New York. The headline read "Mickey Bubbles Busted by Ol' Case".

There was a subhead: Gum Chums Rate Mantle's Technique Bush League; Say Texture Wrong, Too".

In full, here is the article:

"On Thursday, September 10, while the Yankees were taking their final meeting with the White Sox, 1 to 0, one of the photographers in the Stadium trained his telescopic lens on Mickey Mantle in center field.

"Much to the cameraman's amazement, he saw a big bubble issuing from Mickey's mouth. He looked again. It really was a bubble. Mantle was chewing bubble gum, and having himself a juvenile time.

"The photographer alerted his companions and the next day most of the local newspapers had pictures of Mantle and his gum bubble.

"Casey Stengel hauled Mantle on the carpet and asked him what he thought he was doing out there. Casey uttered about 50 dozen choice words, and Bubbles, of course, had nothing to say, except, 'It never will happen again.'

"And what did the kids--the experts--think of Mickey's technique as a bubbler?

"They said it's all wrong. He had his head too straight. Any bubble blower knows you can't get 'em real big that way. And if you do, you get in a mess if the bubble busts all over your chin and chest.

"The youngsters couldn't say much for the texture of his bubble, either. Theirs are clean and clear--like window panes. Mickey's was solid thick.

"Anyone could blow 'em that way, the kids agreed."

Then, as now, bubble gum was available free to players in the locker room. With both Topps and Bowman vying for player exclusivity, it's easy to imagine the players had their choice. A collector today has to wonder if the free locker room gum included packs of baseball cards.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

While I was in a 1956 Topps-style groove with my custom card creations, I thought I'd finish up a project I had been contemplating for several years.

Tom Gastall was a $40,000 bonus baby catcher signed by the Baltimore Orioles in 1955. He died tragically in a small-plane accident on Sept. 26, 1956, without ever making it onto a baseball card.

There's no sense in me trying to recount Gastall's story when other have done a great job of doing so. Here's a link to a great look at his life and death.

http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2006-09-16/sports/0609160169_1_orioles-fall-river-father-death

Other than the fact that he's had a less than stellar rookie season in 1955, there's no reason Topps could not have included a card of him in its 1956 set. My custom fills that void.

Whoever it was that created in Zipz Cards set of 1954-55 Baltimore Orioles cards -- and I haven't seen any evidence to suggest that these crude little cards are at all contemporary with their subject matter -- included Gastall in the set, and he was part of the 501-card all-time Orioles set issued in 1991 by Crown gas stations and Coca-Cola, but as far as I know he didn't have any career-contemporary issues.

I was surprised to find that pictures of Gastall in an O's uniform were not that had to find. It was even more surprising that there exists on the internet at least two examples of his autograph.

For a retired guy, I've been very busy lately, so I'm not sure when my next custom card project will be started, much less completed. I'm not even sure who I'll be working on or in what classic format. Watch this space for developments.