Friday, December 21, 2012

Buy portable accommodation from Cabins 4 Hire

On Cabins 4 Hire site, we can buy portable accommodation including portable cabins and portable toilets.

Porta Fidei - 15

The Year of Faith has begun and as part of our ongoing study, we have been posting a section of the Holy Father's document announcing this event. Today's is the final installment. 15. Having reached the end of his life, Saint Paul asks his disciple Timothy to “aim at faith” (2 Tim 2:22) with the same constancy as when he was a boy (cf. 2 Tim 3:15). We hear this invitation directed to each of us, that none of us grow lazy in the faith. It is the lifelong companion that makes it possible to perceive, ever anew, the marvels that God works for us. Intent on gathering the signs of the times in the present of history, faith commits every one of us to become a living sign of the presence of the Risen Lord in the world. What the world is in particular need of today is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the Lord, and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life, life without end. “That the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph” (2 Th 3:1): may this Year of Faith make our relationship with Christ the Lord increasingly firm, since only in him is there the certitude for looking to the future and the guarantee of an authentic and lasting love. The words of Saint Peter shed one final ray of light on faith: “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet 1:6-9). The life of Christians knows the experience of joy as well as the experience of suffering. How many of the saints have lived in solitude! How many believers, even in our own day, are tested by God’s silence when they would rather hear his consoling voice! The trials of life, while helping us to understand the mystery of the Cross and to participate in the sufferings of Christ (cf. Col 1:24), are a prelude to the joy and hope to which faith leads: “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10). We believe with firm certitude that the Lord Jesus has conquered evil and death. With this sure confidence we entrust ourselves to him: he, present in our midst, overcomes the power of the evil one (cf. Lk 11:20); and the Church, the visible community of his mercy, abides in him as a sign of definitive reconciliation with the Father. Let us entrust this time of grace to the Mother of God, proclaimed “blessed because she believed” (Lk 1:45). Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 11 October in the year 2011, the seventh of my Pontificate. From the Apostolic Letter for the indiction of the Year of Faith, porta Fidei, Benedict XVI

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Relocatable Buildings - Product Sites

So instead of just wasting time i figured i should start some research for the upcoming projects so i've found a few useful sites with information on relocatable buildings. Hopefully you get some inspiration from them. - This site has links to various types of relocatables, one being education! - - These are mainly product sites so it gives a good indication of where portables are currently at and where they could possibly end up...

Relocatable Buildings

We are a leading supplier of premium relocatable buildings in Australian. Our buildings are a ground-breaking concept and have the design, but also made with the highest quality materials which makes our finish products stronger and of a higher quality that any other transportable building. Whether you are looking for an granny flat, office building or rural accommodation one of these will suit you.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Slides were once state of the art

Regular readers know I have several times in the past used this space to present interesting advertisements I've found in vintage magazines; generally rambling on about the huge strides technology has made in the last 50-60 years.

Today, while I was reading the Sept. 22, 1958, issue of Sports Illustrated, an ad caught my eye that directly related to a conversation earlier that morning around the table at coffee break.

I maintain a "retirement office" on Main Street in Iola, in a building owner by my former boss, Chet Krause. Chet created and built the hobby publishing empire known as Krause Publications from 1952 through the early 1980s, when he began to turn the reins over to others.

Today, at age 88, he uses this office setting to write monographs on subjects that interest him, to conclude the disposition of a lifetime of collecting, to conduct his philanthropic and civic endeavors and, generally, to maintain contact with three generations of local and visiting friends, former employees and colleagues.

Much of this socialization occurs mid-mornings when the coffee pot is on and the table in our small breakroom contains an assortment of homemade baked goods, fruit or the contents of a gift basket. A day rarely goes by that somebody from the community or from afar doesn't join us.

My wife compares the ambiance to the cracker barrel at the old general store where everybody feels free to drop by and join the conversation.

Topics of discussion run the gamut from town gossip to world politics, from the Packers to local history and everything in between.

Today, a principal topic was slides; the photographic medium, not the playground staple. One of the fellows sitting around the table mentioned that he had a friend that was in the process of converting 6,000 slides to digital format. The friend had some connection with the FAA, and many of the slides were crash scene photos and pictures of aircraft from decades past.

The friend was using one of those $100 conversion units that quickly and efficiently convert 35mm slides to digital images. Chet mentioned that he had recently thrown into the trash his own lifetime accumulation of vacation and business trip slides. It was generally conceded that slides were an obsolete medium, especially for sharing pictures in this age of Facebook, camera phones and tabletop picture frames that store and randomly show hundreds of images. Our guest remarked that he still owned three slide projectors -- none of which work -- on the floor of an upstairs closet.

I'm sure that those of you who share the "Boomer" designation of our age group, can remember sitting through slide shows at family gatherings, business meetings and club functions. Such presentations became a cliche, though I was rather a fan. I usually enjoyed wall-sized images of far-away people and places shown on a bright white screen much more than I did flipping through an album of snapshots.

As a photographer early in my career, I was also a big fan of slides and transparencies (as larger-format color positives were known). I found that slides offered color that was more pleasing to my eye than color negative film.

I may be completely wrong about this, but I believe I heard that color transparencies held their image and color for a greater time than film images. I know that some of the images of antique autos and other subjects that I shot on 2-1/2" square transparencies are as bright now as they were when they were made 30+ years ago. 

I've also, on occasion, purchased large lots of 35mm slides on eBay. These are often family collections of vacation scenes, new cars, prom dresses, pets, etc. These offer a nostalgic look back to the mid-century. I save the best of them for some, as yet undetermined, future use, and trash the rest. While I have yet to buy one of those slide-to-digital converters, I'll do so some day. For now, I have an otherwise obsolete scanner that includes plastic templates that allow for such conversion.

In my collection of baseball images acquired from many sources over the years, I have many 35mm slides, and transparencies of various sizes up to 8" x 10". Some of my favorite transparencies are those that I have purchased from Topps on eBay. For a number of years, under the Topps Vault label, the card company has been auctioning images from its archives dating back to the 1950s. They are advertised as "Original negatives," but they are positives. 

A number of them have provided images that appear on my custom cards. Opening bids on them are $9.95, where many of the "common" players sell. Superstars like Mantle, Koufax,  Ryan and others can sell for hundreds of dollars, whether they be the pictures that were actually used on cards, or "out takes" that never made it to cardboard.

I recently read that the last processor of one major type of slide film -- I don't remember whether it was Kodachrome, Fujicolor or whatever -- had issued its last call for film. The day is nearly at hand when there will be no place the average person can have slide film developed. 

This has been my long way of introducing the ad that I saw in SI, and share with you here. As I am wont to do on such occasions, I am compelled to compare the advertised retail price with today's dollar. In this case the $149.50 spent on a deluxe Kodak Cavalcade slide projector would translate to over $1,100 today.

From the idyllic portrayal of the family unit shown in the ad, it looks as if they enjoy their technology purchase as much as a family today enjoys its flat screen color TV at about the same relative expenditure. Today, these projectors go begging on eBay for lack of a $15-25 opening bid.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

'52 Eau Claire Bears photo may be Aaron's first OB collectible

I don’t know if this is actually the first time Henry Aaron was mentioned in a national sports publication, but the earliest such mention that I can recall seeing was this item in the June 18, 1952, issue of The Sporting News.

Under the headline “Clowns Sell kid Shortstop flash to Boston Braves,” Chicago baseball writer Russ J. Cowens, who frequently covered Negro Leagues goings-on for TSN, wrote, “The pace-setting Indianapolis Clowns lost a promising young infielder last week, but came up with two recruits who loom as potential stars.

“The Clowns, who added to their lead in the Negro American League by splitting four games while the Kansas City Monarchs were dropping three, sold Henry Aaron, 17-year-old rookie shortstop, to the Boston Braves, who are to assign him to a farm club. Aaron was slugging the ball at a .427 pace, led the league in doubles with seven, and in homers with eight. He also was the top man for runs batted in with 26.”

The two “potential stars” that the Clowns signed to replace Aaron were Tom Cooper, “a former student at West Virginia State College, and Herbert Benson, a first baseman.”

On the morning of June 9 that season, the Clowns had played to a 17-8 record to lead the NAL.

This early mention of Henry Aaron reminded me that I have squirreled away in my “archives” what I now realize may be the first collectible item ever issued of Aaron . . . at least the first while he was in Organized Baseball.

It is an 8” x 10” black-and-white team-issued glossy photo of the 1952 Eau Claire Bears.
Aaron is shown seated at the left end of middle row. The Bears were a Boston Braves farm team and Aaron’s first club in Organized Baseball.

Three other future Major Leaguers are shown in the team photo – two of them managers. Aaron’s future outfield teammate Wes Covington is pictured in the back row, third from right. Also in the photo are Bears manager Bill Adair, who had a 10-game stint as manager of the Chicago White Sox, and Johnny Goryl, who played for the Cubs 1957-59 and the Twins 1962-64, managing the Twins in 1980-81.

The 1952 Eau Claire Bears finished third in the Class C Northern League in 1952. Aaron led the team (and was third in the league) with a .336 batting average. His nine home runs in 87 games were only fourth best on the team (Covingtonled with 24).

Aaron is pictured on an earlier postcard of the Indianapolis Clowns, predating his career in Organized Baseball. 

Eau Claire baseball historian Jason Christopherson was able to add a couple of tidbits about some of Aaron's '52 Bears teammates.

He wrote, "Back row, far left is Charles "Chet" Morgan Jr., son of Chet Morgan Sr., an outfielder briefly with the Tigers in the 1930s.

"And in the second row, third from the left, is Chuck Doehler, who just passed away a month or so ago. Though he never made it far professionally (he was a late-season fill in for the injured "John" Covington in 1952) as a player, Doehler has one of the most unique baseball connections you could ever imagine. Chuck was one of the last to see the earthly remains of Babe Ruth (long story, but Claire had the casket re-opened so that Chuck and his late-arriving Babe Ruth League teammates could place a ball with Babe), and one of the first to welcome the new HR King, Henry Aaron. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

How to order my custom cards

I get a fair amount of inquiries about the availability of my custom card creations.

By making this blog entry, and updating it as necessary, readers should be able to find virtually the entire body of my work in this field.

As I've mentioned in the past, I make my cards in extremely small numbers. I generally print a sheet of nine cards when working in the modern (1957+) format, and eight when working with the old large-size Topps/Bowman issues of 1956 and earlier. 

Since I generally only need two of each of my cards for my "master" sets, the other half-dozen or so extra cards are theoretically available. I'm not in the "business" of selling my custom cards, but it is easier on everybody if I just put a price on them to help cover my materials and time, than to explain to serious collectors of a particular player, team or set, why I don't make my cards available.

And I'll admit it, it's gratifying to my ego when somebody likes what I have created enough to want one for their own collection.

Virtually all of my cards are available at $7.50 each, $6 each for three or more (feel free to mix and match). All prices are postpaid. Because I offer these cards for individual collectors, rather than for resale, I reserve the right to limit quantities.

Cards can be ordered by sending a check or money order to: Bob Lemke, P.O. Box 8, Iola, WI 54945. I will also accept PayPal. If you want to remit via PayPal, you'll need to email me at to get my account name.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Pirates 1951 exhibition benefited blinded player

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.

            A benefit game for Julius “Moose” Solters was played on July 9, 1951, at Forbes Field between current Pittsburgh Pirates players and former Pirates active on other teams.
            Solters, who had played nine Major League seasons, all in the American League, had been blinded as a result of an accident on the diamond during the 1941 season and had been trying to support his wife and five children by operating a tavern in the Beltzhoover district of Pittsburgh.
            After outfield practice at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 1, Solters got in the way of a baseball thrown by teammate Joe Kuhel to Luke Appling. “I was crossing the field, heading for the dugout, when I saw my two brothers-in-law in the stands. I waved to them and that’s all I remembered,” he said later. 
            The ball struck Solters in the left temple. He was hospitalized for two weeks with a fractured skull.
            He returned to action on Aug. 14, but by the end of the month, had to remove himself from the line up frequently, sometimes for days at a time.
            The next season he his eyesight began to fail and he eventually became totally blind.
            The 1951 benefit was organized by former Pirates infielders Lee Handley and Frank Gustine..
            The Solters benefit game was the Pirates’ third charity exhibition in a month. The first two had been a home-and-home series with the Cleveland Indians.
On June 11 at Municipal Stadium, in a game dubbed the Health and Welfare Exhibition, the Bucs had beat the Indians 9-5 before a crowd of 8,568.
A return engagement at Pittsburgh on June 25 was a benefit for the Children’s Hospital. A home run derby, an accuracy throwing contest for catchers and a base-running race, preceded that game. Winning wrist watches for their performances in the pre-game contests were Ralph Kiner, with five home runs, Joe Garagiola, who was the only catcher to throw a ball into a bucket at second base, and Bobby Avila, who circled the bases in 15.4 second. In the game, the Pirates defeated the Indians 5-2 before a crowd of 9,517.
The Pirates turned over their share of the gate, $6,640 to the Children’s Hospital, while the Forbes Field union employees donated their night’s pay, $1,418.
In the July 9 Solters benefit game, the current Pirates defeated the former Bucs 1-0, before a crowd of 9,533..
In the line-up for the current Pirates was a “ringer” in the person of shortstop Danny O’Connell. O’Connell was then serving in the U.S. Army, stationed in Virginia. He had returned to Pittsburgh on a three-day pass. That pass was extended when U.S. Senator Herman Welker of Idaho phoned O’Connell’s commanding officer and requested the extension so that O’Connell could participate in the benefit game. Welker was an accredited scout for the Pirates. Since army colonels don’t say no to U.S. senators, O’Connell was OK’d to play.
The “former Pirates” had their own ringer. Cleveland Indians pitcher Bob Feller, coming off his third career no-hitter, did a bit of relief work. Feller had been snubbed by American League manager Casey Stengel for the All-Star team, and paid his own way to Pittsburgh for the Solters benefit. Feller had been a teammate of Solters with the Indians,  1937-39. Proving that no good deed goes unpunished, Feller was tagged with the loss.
In a short speech at home plate after he was presented with a check for the game’s proceeds of $15,633, Solters, according to Pittsburghbaseball writer Dan McGibbeney, “‘looked’ around spacious Forbes Field and, with a sob in his voice, said:
“‘It is the most wonderful feeling to know that I have so many friends. As I stand here tonight I can see in my mind the beautiful green trees and grass which make such a wonderful backdrop beyond the outfield walls. This wonderful gesture you are making tonight proves once again to me that baseball and its people are truly the best sports in the world.’”
Besides the game’s proceeds, the fund for Solters was bolstered to more than $16,000 with other donations, including $250 each from the American League, the National League and the Commissioner’s office.
The 14 Pirates’ alumni who played in the game were: Stan Rojek, Wally Westlake and Cliff Chambers (Cardinals), Bob Elliott and Ebba St. Claire (Braves), Dixie Howell and Jimmy Bloodworth (Reds), Ken Heintzelman (Phillies), Gene Woodling and Johnny Hopp (Yankees), John Berardino and Dale Long (Browns), Hank Borowy (Tigers) and Clyde Kluttz (Senators).
The current Pirates’ lineup played the entire game, with O’Connell (3b), Rocky Nelson (1b), George Metkovitch (cf), Gus Bell (rf), Pete Reiser (lf), Ed FitzGerald (c), Monty Basgall (2b), George Strickland (ss) and Junior Walsh (p).
The Pirates’ principal star and drawing card, Ralph Kiner, was not at the benefit game. He was in Detroit at a meeting of league and player representatives held the day before the July 10 All-Star Game.
Though he had begun playing baseball in the sandlots around his native Pittsburgh in the 1920s, Solters had never played for the Pirates. He spent his entire big league career in the American League.
His pro career began in 1927. After hitting .393 with Binghamton in 1932 and .363 with Baltimorein 1933, he entered the major leagues with the Boston Red Sox in 1934, batting .299. He was traded in mid-1935 to the Browns. Prior to the 1937 season he was traded to the Indians, where he had his best season, hitting .323. He returned to the Browns on waivers late in1939. In 1940 he was traded to the White Sox.
Following his injury, Solters sat out the 1942 season. He returned to play in 42 games as a fourth outfielder for Chicago in 1943, hitting just .155 against wartime pitching.
Solters appeared in several of the major baseball card issues contemporary with his career, notably 1934 Goudey, 1934-36 Diamond Stars (shown at top), 1939 and 1940 Play Ball (shown above) and 1941 Double Play. He died in 1975.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Going on hiatus

This blog will be going dark for a week or 10 days.

I'm leaving today for the National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore.

I expect to have some new postings before long.

In the interim, feel free to click on "Older Posts" to see what you may have missed in the past couple of years.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

WWII shortstop became Elvis' bodyguard

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.

            One of Elvis Presley’s bodyguards circa 1960 was a former major league ballplayer.
            That’s according to St. Louis sports writer Ed O’Neil (no, not Ed O’Neill the former Youngstown State football player/AlBundy/Jay Pritchett).
            Writing in his “Breezes From Press Box / Picked Up by Bended Ear,” column in the July 6, 1960, Sporting News, O’Neil revealed,
            “Elvis Presley’s bodyguard is a fellow with a brief major league background.
            “Bitsy Mott, paid as a ‘security’ man by Presley, is the same Elisha Matthew Mott who played in 90 games and hit .221 for the 1945 Philadelphia Phillies, playing second, third and shortstop.
            “Mott was a special deputy on the Tampa, Fla., sheriff’s staff before going with Elvis into teen-age combat. In Presley’s G.I. Blues movie, Mott plays a sergeant, tongue-lashing Elvis. He uses the oratorical style he acquired while debating heatedly with umpires.”
            In 1961, Mott appeared, again uncredited, as a state trooper in the Elvis Presley movie, Wild in the Country.
            Mott, whose nickname came from his 5’ 8”, 155-lb. frame, got the Presley gig because his sister married Elvis’ agent, Col. Tom Parker.
            Mott’s pro career began in 1939 and ended in 1957. He played all over the Eastern U.S., mostly in lower-classification leagues in the Southeast. He never played higher than a single game of Class AA ball, with Little Rock of the Southern Association. He was the prototypical “good field, no hit” infielder, batting around .255 for his career.
            As far as I know, Mott never appeared on a baseball card.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Could'a-been, should'a-been '58 Campy

As a seven-year-old card collector, besides the Milwaukee Braves' cards, some of the most eagerly anticipated cards in the 1958 Topps set were those of the Dodgers and Giants . . . the teams that had moved to California.

I wanted to see what some of my favorite "enemy" players looked like in their new uniforms: Mays, Hodges, Antonelli, Snider, Campanella.

I felt gypped (I know, no loner a p-c term) when all Topps gave us was pictures with new logos airbrushed on their caps.

As the season wore on, and new Topps series came and went without the appearance of a Roy Campanella card, I began to suspect that Topps had given up on Campy's chances to come back from that fateful auto wreck on Jan. 28.

After dinner that night, Campanella had left his Glen Cove, Long Island, home to drive to Manhattan for a television appearance. The appearance was postponed and Campanella drove on to his liquor store in Harlem. After closing up shop he was returning home in a rented 1957 Chevrolet about 3:30 a.m. when he failed to negotiate a curve and wrecked the car. 

Campanella broke his neck in the crash and was left paralyzed from the chest down.

Marshaling the power of wishful thinking, all of baseball hoped and prayed for Campy's recovery and return to the diamond. That never happened.

We got our Campanella card in 1959 Topps, a high-number titled "Symbol of Courage. The card pictures the fallen Dodgers star in a wheelchair. On back is an inspirational message over the signature of National League president Warren Giles. It was the first time Topps had issued such a "tribute" card. 

(A copy of that card is one of last vintage cards I added to my personal collection. I bought one in 2000, when I was confined to a wheelchair for several months, and feeling a special empathy for Campanella.)

Since 1961, Topps has included Campanella card in many, many sets. Companies like Fleer and Upper Deck also had Campy cards in some of their vintage-retro-throwback issues. And of course he appears on many collectors' issues from the 1970s onward.

There was a Roy Campanella card issued in 1958. Bell Brand chips issued a regional set to welcome the Dodgers to Los Angeles. The Campy card in that scarce set makes no mention of the accident. 

More than half a century later, we'll probably never know why Topps didn't issue a Campanella card in 1958. Unlike card #145 that was initially listed on the checklist as Ed Bouchee, but was never printed, Campanella's name didn't appear anywhere on the Topps checklists. Whomever made that decision correctly, but lamentably, concluded that Campanella wouldn't be playing for Los Angeles that season.

Perhaps Topps bigwigs also felt that producing some sort of tribute card in the 1958 set would send the wrong message . . . that Campanella was never coming back.

I've decided for my latest custom card project to create the 1958 Topps Roy Campanella card that never was. I present it herewith.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Who was Jane Searles and why was Ty Cobb paying her $8 a month? UPDATED W/ANSWERS!

I've mentioned a time or two that one of my retirement projects has been helping my former boss with the disposal of a 40+-year collection of bank checks, stocks, bonds and related fiscal paper.

We recently uncovered a handful of checks that were signed by famous baseball players -- three of them by Ty Cobb. 

Many collectors believe that checks are an excellent way to insure that an autograph is authentic. After all, in most circumstances, signing another person's name to a check is considered criminal forgery. While a name penned on a check is not an absolute guarantee of authenticity, it can usually be relied upon as genuine.

The earliest of the three checks is dated May 3, 1930, and drawn on Cobb's account at the Georgia Railroad Bank of Augusta, Ga.

The check was payable to "Jane Searles" in the amount of $8. 

In researching the check, I discovered that this example is not unique; several other Cobb checks on the Georgia Railroad Bank payable to Jane Searles for $8 have been sold within the hobby in recent years. They appear to have been issued at one-month intervals.

Which raises the question . . . who was Jane Searles and why was Ty Cobb paying her $8 a month in 1930?

The example of the Cobb-Searles check that my boss has appears to have been purchased circa 1981 from The Franklin Autograph Society of Hatfield, Pa. He has a gold foil-sealed certificate of authenticity to that effect. His records don't indicate what he paid for the check. 

The FAS was founded in 1975 and appears to have authenticated and sold to collectors all manner of documents bearing famous signatures. Whether they had the expertise to truly authenticate those autographs is anybody's guess.

I wouldn't be surprised if the several Cobb-Searles checks in circulation in the baseball memorabilia hobby all came from FAS. It is not uncommon for large numbers of a famous person's check to be sold to one buyer and then parceled out to collectors. 

Obviously, if Jane Searles' connection to Ty Cobb was readily discernible via a Google-search, I'd have done so and presented the findings here. Perhaps details can be found in one of the Cobb biographies.

Eight dollars in 1930 money is equal to about $105 today. Whether these checks payment for housekeeping, dog-walking or some other type of regular personal services is a matter for speculation. 

The collectible check itself is typical of the early decades of the 20th Century. The body measures about 8-1/4" x 3-1/8". At the left end, where there is a large vignette of the Augusta bank's august stone headquarters, a check stub has been pasted, also made out in Cobb's hand with the date, amount and payee. If you look closely, you may be able to see at center an underprint image of a steam train, with "Georgia Railroad" and the date 1833.

The endorsement(s) on back would be useful in solving this riddle -- if they were decipherable.

Searles has endorsed the check, as "Janie Searles," at top. Beneath that is a company name, perhaps "Henderson Gas Co."? The signature of Rose S. Baron appears below that. Towards the bottom is a purple rubber-stamped receipt of the Savings Teller, The National Exchange Bank, Augusta. 

As you can see, the check has suffered some damage at the bottom-right, gnawed on by silverfish, mice or similar varmints. 

Still, because  it bears an unmistakably genuine autograph of Ty Cobb, it should be worth the average price of about $800 that Ty Cobb checks have been bringing in today's market. The check will be offered in a forthcoming sale later this year.

Reader Mark Aubrey has provided the answer to this puzzle. He writes, 

"I looked at and found a Janie Searles, age 22, living in Augusta, Georgia in the 1930 Census.

She is one of at least two daughters to Robert Searles, a widowed barber.

Janie's occupation is listed as a cook in a private home.

She is single and listed as "Negro" in the 'color or race' column and can read and write.

She and her parents were born in South Carolina."

Mark reports that 1940 Census showed she was still a cook in a private home. "I noticed in the 1940 Census that Janie was making $240.  I assume that is per month, although I haven't checked it out.  She was also working 58 hours per week.  If she was Cobb's cook, either he did a lot of entertaining, was real hungry or she was a slow cook."

Ed McDonald is a Florida card collector and dealer who shares a lot of my interests in the hobby and baseball. He was able to shed additional light on this Ty Cobb check.

He wrote: 

"I have a little info on the Cobb checks.     I was at the baseball card show in Atlanta when those checks were "discovered".    I believe it was the spring of 1976 (give or take 1 year).     It was several years before the first National in LA in 1980.

"It was already dark on a Saturday evening, not long before the show closed.    This very old tall thin gentleman, wearing overalls and a ball cap, wandered into the show with the entire checkbook.    3 checks per page, all glued back onto their stubs ... hundreds of pages of checks.    The chec ks were separate, but the stubs were still uncut and still in the 3-ring check binder.     He wanted $75 per sheet of 3 checks, cash only.     I bought 3 pages (9 checks) ... I still have some.    In fact, I was the first person to look at the checks (and to hear the story).     My table was out in the hall, just outside the show room.

"The old guy related that he was a distant relative of Cobb's and had inherited, from Cobb, an old rusted 30's-40's car, with no keys, and having not run for many years (supposedly Cobb' s but even he was not sure).   Cobb died in 1961 so I assume this took place in the year or two afterwards, when the estate was settled.

"The car sat for quite a few years in a barn that the old guy had.    In the early 1970's, he decided to try to sell the car.   When a locksmith came, they got the trunk open and there were the checkbook, a bat and a pair of cleats.    He didn't want to sell the latter two items but saw the card show advertised, and there he was, with the checkbook in tow.

"That was his story to me."

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Babe Ruth left $360,000 estate

            While digging through an old issue of The Sporting News, I discovered some data about the estate Babe Ruth left upon his death at the age of 53 on Aug. 16, 1948, According to a New York tax appraisal, the estate was valued at $360,000 (that's about $3,230,000 in today's dollars). 
            In his 24 years of professional baseball, his baseball earnings were estimated to have been about $1,425,000. His total income in that period, of course, was much higher due to many lucrative endorsements.
            Of Ruth’s estate, $179,611 was in a trust fund in which his widow, Claire Ruth, was left a life interest. He also left her a $5,000 bequest.
            Ruth bequeathed $5,000 each to his adopted daughters, Julia Ruth Landers of Kearsage, N.H., and Dorothy Sullivan Ruth Tirone of New York.
            His sister in Baltimore, Mary H. Moberly, received $10,000.
            Upon the passing of his widow, 10% of the trust fund was to go to the Babe Ruth Foundation that he had established for “the kids of America.”

Friday, July 20, 2012

Artie Wilson was 'Wally Pipp' to Willie Mays

Among the PCL regional card sets in which
Wilson appears in this 1952 Mother's Cookies.

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.

 In our last presentation, we covered Willie Mays' preferment from the N.Y. Giants' Class AAA farm club in the American Association to the major leagues on May 24, 1951.

To make room for Mays on the roster, the Giants optioned infielder and left-handed pinch-hitter Artie Wilson to Ottawa of the International League. Wilson never again played in the major leagues. After two games with the O-Giants, he was sent to Minneapolis as a sop to Millers fans who were upset about the loss of their slugging star, Mays.

Wilson’s stay in Minneapoliswas also brief. On June 20, at the behest of Oakland Oaks manager Mel Ott and owner Brick Laws, the Giants optioned Wilsonto the Pacific Coast League, where it was hoped his presence would improve the Oaks’ gate, which at the time was lagging some 125,000 behind the previous year’s pace. Wilson had starred for the Oaks in 1949 and 1950, after five years playing in the Negro Leagues. He was the key man in the infield for the team that took the PCL pennant twice in three seasons, and led the Coast League in batting (.350) in 1949. He hit .311 with Oakland in 1950; after the season he was traded to the Giants.

Saying goodbye to Minneapolis with a bang, in his last game as a Miller, Wilson had a perfect night in his finale. Playing left field in the first game of a doubleheader, Wilsonhit an inside-the-park home run, a triple and two singles. He also drew a walk and drove in four runs. Immediately after the game he was rushed to the airport to catch an airplane for the coast.

Playing Winter League ball in the Puerto Rican
League in 1949-50, Wilson hit .367 to lead the
Mayaguez Indians to the title. This is his

1950-51 Toleteros card.
Oaklandfans arranged for the presentation of floral pieces at home plate when Wilson suited up for his first game with the Oaks on June 22. His presence was the impetus for the team’s biggest home crowd of the season, more than 8,500.

He didn’t disappoint the local fans in his homecoming, hitting two singles and a ninth inning sacrifice fly that brought home a run that proved to be margin of victory in a 5-4 Oakland win over San Francisco. As attendance swelled to 23,000 for the first three games upon Wilson’s return, Oakland won four out of six games.

Wilson was one of the Oaks’ most popular players in that era. Oaklandbaseball writer Ed Schoenfeld described him as the “skinny little Negro jumping-jack shortstop,” and predicted he would be the spark needed for the Oaks to capture the 1951 pennant. They finished fifth in the Coast League, 19-1/2 games behind. Wilson had hit .255 for the year. 

Wilson spent the next six years in the Pacific Coast League, batting .315 between 1952-57 with Seattle, Portland and Sacramento. After a five-year layoff, Wilson returned to the PCL briefly in 1962 at the age of 41, hitting just .164 in 25 games with Portland. He was elected to the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame in 2003, and died in 2010, just after his 90th birthday.

In his 19 games with the Giants in 1951, Wilson had only four hits in 22 at-bats--all singles--a .182 average. For his time with the Giants, Wilson was awarded a 1/8thshare from the team’s World Series pool: $618.88.

It's not surprising that Wilson didn't have any mainstream baseball card appearances in his brief major league career, but he can be found on a number of regional cards issued Out West during his PCL days, and on 1949-50, 1950-51 Toleteros Puerto Rican League cards.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

TSN cartoon helped Mays to majors

Some of the earliest publicity that Willie Mays received in the national sporting media appeared in the May 23, 1951, issue of The Sporting News.

There was a large cartoon montage by famed sports cartoonist Murray Olderman on Page 27 of that issue.

On the following page, in the section devoted to American Association news and box scores was a short article . . .

Mays Amazes Miller Fans,
Hits .607 on Home Stand
            MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.—Willie Mays, young Negro flychaser, enjoyed one of the most productive two weeks at bat ever experienced in O.B. during Minneapolis’ first home stand, which ended May 13.
            In 14 games, the Miller rookie tagged opposing pitchers for 34 hits in 56 times at bat—a .607 pace. Mays drove in 13 runs during the span, and 13 of his blows were for extra bases—eight doubles, one triple and four drives over the Nicollet Park wall.
            Mays failed to connect safely in only one of the 14 contests, while on three occasions he had a perfect record at bat, once with five hits and twice with three.

On May 24, the Giants called Mays up to New York. At the time he had a 16-game hitting streak going, having batted .567 since the skein began on May 6. It was later said that the TSN article, and particularly Olderman's cartoon, had brought Mays to the attention of Giants' owner Horace Stoneham and precipitated his call-up.

 On the Sunday following Mays preferment, Stoneham made a conciliatory gesture to the Minneapolisfans by taking out a large ad in the Minneapolis Tribune to offer this explanation . . . 

            “We feel that the Minneapolis baseball fans, who have so enthusiastically supported the Minneapolisclub, are entitled to an explanation for the player deal that on Friday transferred Outfielder Willie Mays from the Millers to the New York Giants.
            “We appreciate his worth to the Millers, but in all fairness, Mays himself must be a factor in these considerations. On the record of performance since the American Association season started, Mays is entitled to his promotion and the chance to prove that he can play major league baseball.
            “The New York Giants will continue in our efforts to provide Minneapolis with a winning team.”

At the time Mays was promoted, the Millers were in third place in the American Association. With their leading batter gone, Minneapolis quickly dropped to the middle of the league's standings, and ended the season in the second division, 17-1/2 games out of first place.

Mays’ promotion to the major league was judged costly not only to the Millers’ pennant hopes, but also to ticket sales throughout the American Association. One official of the Milwaukee Brewers told the New York News that Mays’ absence was a $250,000 loss  to the league.

In his 35 games with Minneapolis, Mays had batted .477.

When he joined the Giants, Mays was given #14. He took his famed #24 when Jack Maguire went to the Pirates on waivers May 28.
Giants’ fans must have wondered what was going on, however, when Mays went 1-for-26 in his first seven major league games—a .038 average. (His first big league hit came on May 28, a home run off Warren Spahn of the Boston Braves.)
In his next 10 games with New York, though, Mays was 15-for-37, a .405 average, bringing his batting mark up to .254.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Schmitz "unhappiest ball player" of 1952

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.

Journeyman pitcher Johnny Schmitz was tagged by Robert L. Burnes, sports editor of the St. Louis Globe Democrat, as the "unhappiest ball player" of 1952. 

Burnes was referring to Schmitz having been dealt away from both pennant-winning teams that year and presumably missing out on World Series bonus money.

Schmitz had been traded from the perennially second division Cubs in mid-1951 to the always-contending Brooklyn Dodgers.

Schmitz began the 1952 season with Brooklyn, who won the National League pennant. After going 1-1 for the Dodgers, Schmitz was put on waivers on Aug. 1. 

By what must have seemed like a stroke of good luck, Schmitz was picked up by the N.Y. Yankees, who were in first place in the American League at the time and were the eventual World Champions.

After less than a month, the Yanks traded Schmitz to the seventh place Cincinnati Reds. He left the Yankees with a 1-1 record on Aug. 28. 

The Reds finished the 1952 season in sixth place, out of the running for post-season bonus pay.

A full World Series share for the Yankees in 1952 totaled just over $6,000, which probably represent most of a year's salary for Schmitz at that time. The N.L. Champion Dodgers set a full share of their cut of World Series proceeds at $4,200.

As it turned out, though, Schmitz was not forgotten in divying up what the Sporting News of the day liked to term, the "melon." While the Dodgers stiffed him, the Yankees voted Schmitz a one-fourth share, amounting to $1,496.66. 

Schmitz was not the only recipient of Yankees' largesse with their post-season split. Charlie Keller, a long-time Yankees slugging star who had spent the 1950-51 seasons in exile with the Detroit Tigers, returned to the Yankees as a free agent on Sept. 5, 1952. In his three weeks on the roster, he struck out in his only at-bat. Probably more in gratitude for his earlier years of service in pinstripes, Keller was voted a $1,000 share of the World Series pool.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bruton was early Milwaukee fan favorite

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.

Unless you were a Milwaukee Braves fan at the time, or like myself are a serious student of the Braves of that era, you’d probably never guess who was the team’s first fan favorite.

It wasn’t future Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews, though he led the National League with 47 home runs that season. Nor was it staff ace Warren Spahn, another Hall of Famer who led the league with 23 wins and a 2.10 ERA.

No, the first player to capture the town’s attention was centerfielder Billy Bruton.

In their first game as the Milwaukee, rather than Boston, Braves, the team had defeated the Reds 2-0 in the 1953 season opener at Cincinnati on April 13. Bruton had batted 2-for-4 with a double, but the writers said his greatest contribution was in centerfield; they estimated he took six runs away from the home team with his fielding.

The next day, against the Cardinals and Gerry Staley, the Braves played their first official game at the brand new Milwaukee County Stadium. Despite a 47-degree temperature for the home opener, attendance was 34,357 – a larger draw than any series the team had played at Boston in 1952. There was no TV coverage for the opener and one wrtier described downtown Milwaukee as deserted at gametime.

After flying out to left in the first and popping up in the infield in the third, Bruton led off the sixth inning with a single. In the bottom of the eighth, with two out. Bruton tripled. He scored on Sid Gordon’s single to break a 1-1 tie.

The Cardinals answered with one in the top of the ninth, but in the bottom of the 10th, Bruton hit a walk-off home run – a storybook ending to the Milwaukee Braves first official home game.

In the team’s first two games, Bruton had five of the Braves’ 15 hits, three of their five runs and the team’s only stolen base.

Wet, cold weather forced cancellation of the rest of the home series with St. Louis. The Braves returned to Cincinnation April 17 and Bruton continued to be hot. The Braves lost 10-9, but Bruton was 3-for-5, raising his batting average to .571.

In St. Louison the 19th he was “only” 2-for-4 in the Braves 4-3 loss, and his average dropped back to .556.

Bruton went on to get at least one hit in each of the Braves first seven games of 1953
and he was batting .424.

He cooled off considerably as the year progressed. By the end of the season his BA was .250, the lowest total over the course of his .273 career spanning 12 years.

I may be incorrect in this, but I believe that Billy Bruton was the first player to be honored on the cover of the Milwaukee Braves program.

If I’m not mistaken, the team’s first cover, prepared for its exhibition games against the Boston Red Sox, had a picture of County Stadiumat center. For the official season, manager Charlie Grimm, who had managed the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association 1941-44 and 1951-52, initially had the place of honor on the program’s cover.

I believe that Bruton then became the cover boy on the basis of his torrid play in the first week of the season. He appeared on the program cover for homestands later in the season, as well, rotating with such other Braves stars as Eddie Mathews, Joe Adcock, etc.

Milwaukeewas predisposed to get behind Bruton as their first big league hero, as 1953 was actually his second season playing there. He had spent the 1952 season there with the Brewers, batting .325 and stealing 30 bases in dilapidated old Borchert Field.

Early in the 1953, amid a host of “days” and “nights” for most of the team’s regulars, the fans had given Bruton a television and an apartment full of furniture.

Though his hitting had leveled off by the last month of the season, a formal “Billy Bruton Day” was held on Sept. 13. On that occasion he was presented with a $5,500 down payment on a new house. He also received a watch, a suit, golf clubs and two $1,000 savings bonds. His wife was presented with diamond earrings.

And speaking of Bruton . . . 

I don't guess I'll find another excuse to share this vignette of Billy Bruton, so I'm going to append it here. It reflects a time when the Boston Braves, with whom Bruton went to spring training in Florida in 1952, had to find alternative accommodation for their black players, who were not welcome in the team hotel in Bradenton.

From April 2, 1952, Sporting News, “Harold Kaese, writing in the Boston Globe from Bradenton, Fla., reported, ‘Sam Jethroe, George Crowe and Bill Bruton live at Mrs. Gibson’s boarding house here. As rookies, Crowe and Bruton arrived several days before Jethroe. Bruton requested that grace be said before meals. This was all right with Mrs. Gibson. Then Sam arrived. When his first meal was ready he plunged right into Mrs. Gibson’s good victuals, as usual, giving the impression that the pork chops were base hits. ‘Just a minute, Sam,’ admonished Mrs. Gibson. ‘We have some new rules since Mr. Bruton joined us. We are asking a blessing on our meals.’ Sam dropped his fork and stood up respectfully with the rest of them while Mr. Bruton said grace.”

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Lake ended MLB career 0-for-1950

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.

While he has a 1951 Bowman baseball card, Detroit Tigers utility/backup infielder Eddie Lake was out of the big leagues by then. He had ended his three-decade (1939-1950) major league career by going 0-for-1950.

But in his first game of 1951, he hit a home run for the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League. He finished that season batting .261. His 27 home runs that season were tied for sixth-best in the league.

For most of his major league career, Lake offered a combination of speed and power in the middle infield for the St. Louis Cardinals (1939-1941), Boston Red Sox (1943-1945) and Detroit Tigers (1946-1950). He also fielded well, whether at second, short or third. 

The one thing he didn't do well in the majors was hit for average. In his first five seasons in the majors he hit only .189, albeit he never played in more than 75 games in any of those seasons. 

He blossomed in his final season with Boston, 1945; he hit .279 and took 106 walks to lead the American League with a .412 on-base percentage. Though he was 30 years old in 1946, the Tigers traded Rudy York to Boston for Lake and made him their lead-off hitter. 

He continued to hit fairly well for a shortstop, batting .254 in 1946 and talking 103 bases on balls. His 120 walks in 1947 were again third-best in the A.L., but his average dropped to .211. In 1948 the Tigers brought Johnny Lipon up from the Texas League and Lake was relegated to part-time work.

By 1950, he was mainly used as a pinch-hitter (0-for-9) and a pinch-runner (nine games). In 20 games he had only seven at-bats and no hits, walking once and striking out three times. He appeared in the field only once at shortstop and once at third for any inning each without handling any chances.

As mentioned earlier, Lake returned to the minor leagues in 1951, and continued to play out west through the age of 40 in 1956. He was a playing manager for some truly bad teams in the lower levels in 1955-1956.

In 1955, managing the Spokane Indians of the Class B Northwest League he finished 33-1/2 games out of first place, but was the league's second best hitter at age 39, batting .336. In his last year of pro ball, at Class C Salinas in the California League, he hit. 312 and his team finished in seventh place, 38 games off the pace. In those two seasons as a minor league manager he did not have a single player who would ever appear in the majors.

Besides his 1951 card, Lake also appeared in the 1949 and 1950 Bowman sets, and can also be found as a Boston Red Sox on an Exhibit card in the 1947-1966 series, though by then he had been a Tiger for two seasons.