Thursday, August 1, 2019

Toni Stone at the Laura Pels Off-Broadway

Last weekend Team Phungo made the trek up to Manhattan and enjoyed a tremendous play that was based on a Baseball Player.


Toni Stone played second base for the Indianapolis Clowns in 1953. This made her the first woman to play baseball with a Men's professional baseball team. The Clowns are an important part of Negro League history sending several players to the Major Leagues, including Hank Aaron the man that Stone replaced.

The play covers a lot of territory. We learn about Stones background and early prowess in athletics. Her range included track and figure skating. The play also depicts her as an avid baseball fan who memorized stats and has BASEBALL CARDS!!

If you have studied the Negro Leagues you may be familiar with a lot of the material in the play, but it is nice to see it depicted in a fashion that I found historically accurate: The long bus rides due to unwelcoming hotels, The double-headers played in different towns, and of course the harassment from fans during exhibition games with white teams.

In addition Stone dealt with sexism issues from teammates as well as opponents.

There is also a scene where Toni Stone discusses an unfortunate story regarding Gabby Street.

April Matthis
In addition to having an informative and interesting story the play has a very good cast led by veteran April Matthis in the title role. Matthis as Stone figures into every conversation from start to finish making this an almost one-woman show despite the fact she shares the stage with eight other actors.  


Above you see the set for the show. It is set up to appear like a ballpark with bleachers around the stage. Notice the trashcan of baseball bats between bleachers 2 & 3. The stadium lights were a neat part of the set which were used for dramatic affect. The windows in the two alleys between the bleachers often featured single players batting or throwing and created a look of a baseball card.


The Lobby was also dressed up for the show with Pennants and background info on Stone and the Negro Leagues.

Another really nice touch was that they sold Cracker Jack at the concession stand.

On Tour
Toni Stone will only be in NYC through August 11th. However it is going on a short tour thru early 2020. The first stop is San Francisco, followed by DC in the Spring. If you get the opportunity and would like to see some baseball history related theater I highly recommend this show.

Off-Broadway
I always recommend Off-Broadway if you want to see a play in New York. The theaters are more accessible, tickets are significantly cheaper and since the theaters are smaller you always get a good seat. In addition I can usually find an Off-Broadway show that aligns with my tastes. The Broadway productions are big and mainstream, OB gives the companies a chance to produce edgier stories.

Sources and Links
Vittles On Stage Index

SABR
Roundabout Theater

Monday, July 29, 2019

2019 ToppsNow #529 Bryce Harper/Rhys Hoskins honors July 18th Phillies Victory

I finally got to see a 2019 game that the Phillies actually won. And Topps was good enough to create a ToppsNow card for that game.

2019 ToppsNow #529 Phillies (Bryce Harper/Rhys Hoskins)

There were several key performers in the Phillies 7-6 victory over the Dodgers which featured FIVE lead changes (1-0, 1-2, 3-2, 3-4, 7-5). Topps chose to cover the days card with the Phillies big names Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins. However the hero could have also been 2017 First round pick (8th overall) Adam Haseley who tallied his first Major League Home Run.

Solid picture choices on both players. On the left we have a nice shot of Bryce Harper's emotional slide into second which I clearly remember from where I was standing. The latter photo features Rhys at the plate, anytime you can get the ball just prior to impact that's a win.

2019 ToppsNow
I would prefer that Topps go with a single image here but this was pretty much a team win and lets face it ToppsNow may not feature many Phillies this year. Otherwise this is an ok design, I would like to see the date more prominently displayed since NOW is a feature of the card. This is a two player card, but as far as I can tell the player position is not on single player cards.

There were six ToppsNow cards issued for July 18 2019. The Phillies had the largest print run for the day (464) even eclipsing the reigning AL MVP Mookie Betts and Hall of Famer Ted Williams.

2019 ToppsNow CheckList for July 18 2019
#526 Mookie Betts/Ted Williams (Print Run = 352)
#527 Brian Anderson (131)
#528 Chris Sale (182)
#529 Phillies (464)
#530 Stephen Strasburg (300)
#532 Donovan Solano (162)

Flip
2019 ToppsNow #529 Phillies (b-side)

The Text on the back of the card gives a concise two sentend summary of the Phillies 7th inning comeback. Not to self: use the word "cut" when I want to discuss a team making a comeback.

2019 ToppsNow #529 Phillies, 2019 JUL 18 Dodgers @ Phillies

And since this card is from a game that Team Phungo attended it will be going into the Phungo Games binder. Always excited to share a combined trading card/ticket photo on the blog.

Sources and Links
Bryce Harper Index
Rhys Hoskins Index
Phungo Game Dated Cards Index
baseball-ref
ToppsNow 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

In Memoriam: Jim Bouton (1939-2019)

"I learned Math from Baseball & Jim Bouton taught me How to Read"

Not entirely true, but there is a lot of truth there.

Prior to college I think I only finished maybe...  three books, "1984", "Wired" the Biography of Jim Belushi, and "Ball Four". All those novels we were supposed to read in High School (Hester Prynne, Silas Marner, Macbeth, Huck Finn, etc Who Knows What Else)  - I read exactly none of them.

But "Ball Four" it spoke to me.

"Ball Four" - Jim Bouton (1970 2nd Edition)

I have read the book three times once as a teenager. Again in my 20s or 30s, and most recently in my late 40s in preparation to see Bouton at the NYC SABR convention.

The SABR panel was incredible. That weekend it was publicly announced that Jim Bouton had a brain disease related to dementia. Regardless with the help of his wife Paula Kurman he was up to the task of discussing his life and Ball Four in a panel dedicated to Bouton and the book. A fan of the book and the man could asked for nothing more. Bouton was funny, touching, and informative. He was "Ball Four" personified.

He was also good enough to pose for pictures while signing books and other memorabilia.

 Jim Bouton (2017 Jul 01)

The Photo on the left page is one that I took at the event. The book is a 2nd edition

Ball Four (2nd Edition)

Here is Ball Four sans jacket.

That's it for now. Over the coming weeks I would like to mine the Phungo Museum for some other Bouton related content. Today, I would just like to recognize that he will always be a favorite author and I am glad I was introduced to his unique point of view early in my life and have been able to enjoy it to this day.

Memorials & Tributes
SABR (Mark Armour)

Sources and Link
Jim Bouton Index
SABR Bio (Mark Armour)
SABR47 NYC

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

ANNIVERSARY - 1979 July 10: Del Unser 3 consecutive Pinch Hit HRs (1980 Topps #6)

Wednesday July 10 marks 40th anniversary of a Pinch Hitter getting into the MLB record book

1980 Topps #6 Highlights Del Unser

That pinch hitter was the Phillies Del Unser who tied a mark first established a year prior by the Dodgers Lee Lacy.

Unser's streak commenced on June 30th. In the 9th inning of game versus the Cardinals at Busch stadium the Phillies were down 4-2 with 2 out in the 9th inning. Phillies Center Fielder Garry Maddox was on base when Unser was sent to the plate to bat for Manny Trillo. Unser homered off of reliever George Frazier to tie the game which the Phillies won 6-4 in extras.

The 2nd Home Run came in a 3-2 loss to the Mets. Unser hit a solo home run in the 7th inning while batting for Larry Bowa in what was basically a convoluted double change. The victim was starting pitcher Craig Swan.

Del Unser finished his Home Run trifecta facing Padres future Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers. The Phillies went into the 9th inning down 5-1, four batters later the Phillies had pulled to 5-3 on a 2 Run single by Bob Boone.

A hit and an out later Del Unser found himself once again pinch hitting for Larry Bowa. This time out he hit a Walk Off Home Run to give the Phillies a 6-5 victory. 

The streak ended 2 days later when Unser was Intentionally Walked by Fingers. The first time Unser was retired following the streak was July 23, Also by Rollie (strikeout).

1980 Topps Hilights
Hilights opens the 1980 set occupying the first six cards. The subset includes three Hall of Famers across two cards: Lou Brock & Carl Yastrzemski share card #1, While Willie McCovey resides at #2. In addition to Del Unser the Phillies are also represented in the subber by Pete Rose at #4.
 

Dennis Rasmussen?
1987 Topps #555 Dennis Rasmussen

What the heck is Dennis Rasmussen doing in the middle of a Del Unser column??, well lets turn over this card and see.

1987 Topps #555 Dennis Rasmussen (b-side)

Ok we are going to bypass that this card discusses Hall of Famer Larry Bird and move down to the On This Date section. Check it out we have today's hero Del Unser! and it mentions his 1979 Pinch Hit Home Run heroics too!

Finally Topps honors their history by mentioning Unser's 1979T card, lets have a look.
1979 Topps #628 Del Unser

Unfortunately Unser is repping a different team, however it always feels good to post and Expos card. Lets flip this one over and see if we have anymore fun items.

1979 Topps #628 Del Unser (b-side)

Well Check it out, we have another This day in History. This time it goes back to May 8 1968. On that date Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter tossed a Perfect game for the Oakland A's as they defeated the Minnesota Twins 4-0

And just because I am chaining together cards today, I am going to add one final card.


1969 Topps #235 Jim "Catfish" Hunter

The first card issued of Catfish following his Perfect Game was in 1969 Topps. This is back when Topps was putting -Toons on the back of cards, surely the Catfish comic would be dedicated to his big Game...

1969 Topps #235 Jim "Catfish" Hunter (b-side)

or.....maybe not

The game mentioned in the cartoon was a 15 inning affair won by the National League 2-1. In Hunter's defense he pitched FIVE innings that day, the difference was a Home Run by Tony Perez.

Topps does mention the Perfecto in the text. It also mentions that Hunter's game earned him a $5000 raise, that is a $36,000 raise in 2018 dollars. 

Game Dated Cards
Ok that is enough card chaining, At some point I will be adding each of these cards to the Phungo Game Dated Cards Index

1980 Phillies
Next Year will mark the 40th anniversary of the Phillies first World Championship, I hope to feature that team throughout 2020. Since I am not writing as many columns these days I am getting an early start on the feature and will open my Anniversary series a full six months in advance.

Sources and Links
1980 World Champion Philadelphia Phillies
1980 Topps Hilights
No-Hitter Index
Catfish Hunter index
Larry Bird Index
baseball-ref
Baseball Card Database

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

1967 Topps #165 Cleon Jones

I often find the "Where are They Now" features on retired ballplayer fascinated. Particularly those that are accomplished off the field.

Recently I saw a a news item on 1960s-1970s era Mets outfielder Cleon Jones.

1967 Topps #165 Cleon Jones

Jones has returned to the community where he was raised, Africatown Alabama which is near Mobile. He is 76 now and is busy helping out townspeople and elderly folks fixing and painting their homes. Africatown is an historic town in the area which is attempting to build a museum to honor the communities past. To read about the towns history, I strongly recommend you read this Alabama Newscenter article to find out about Africatown and Cleon Jones' efforts.


1967 Topps
Seeing the story about Cleon Jones also gives us a chance to add a column to our All-Star Rookie Cup Series. Unless team Phungo returns to serious blogging the Series will remain unfinished, but I do think it is within the realm of possibility to get up a Rookie Cup from each year and all the Phillies.

For his 1966 Cleon Jones received a single Rookie of the Year vote, good enough to place him 4th in the voting which was won by Reds Infielder Tommy Helms. Jones played 13 years which is wear several of his 1966 Topps Rookie All-Stars mates fall. The leader for tenure appears to be Woodie Fryman (LHP 18 years), while George Scott (1B) led the crew in WAR (36.5, Jones = 18.5). 

1967 Topps #165 Cleon Jones (b-side)

No pressure here, just that the back of Cleon Jones' first solo card mentions Hank Aaron, Billy Williams and Willie McCovey (featured on the very first Topps All-Star Rookie Cup card)

Sketchy
One of the many reason blog output has been slow is I have diverted my hobby time to artwork - mainly sketching baseball cards. Cleon Jones off the field charity inspired me to create a 5x7 based off of his 1967T card coupled with his efforts in Africatown.

1967T Cleon Jones (Phungo Original 5x7 in 2019 06 24)

Chief among my customizations is changing the bat to a paint roller. I also added a different trophy, changed the Mets team designation to Africatown and gave Cleon a background of a refurbished home rather than Shea Stadium.

Sources and Links
1967 Topps Rookie Cup Index (1966 Winners)
Phungo Sketch Index
Alabama NewsCenter
Baseballl-ref BR-Bullpen

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Anniversary 60 Years ago: Rocky Colavito 4 Home Run Day

June 10th marks the 60th anniversary of an historic game between the Cleveland Indians and Baltimore Orioles. That Day Rocky Colavito became the 6th major league player to record a 4 Home Run game.

1964 Topps Jumbo #9 Rocky Colavito

The Indians won that game 11-8 with Colavito accounting for 6 RBI. Notice that the above card features Rocky as an Athletic not an Indian. Well that is because of the back of the card...

1959 Topps Jumbo #9 Rocky's Hot Bat (b-side)

As we can see the headline on this card is all about the 4 Homer game which is described in the cards first coupe sentences. The remainder of the text discusses Colavito's home run legacy all the way back to his minor league days.

Rocky Colavito's four home run game is also featured on the back of a 1964 Topps base card, #109. Colavito, however, does not appear on the front of that card, to find out more click here.

Sloppy Topps
The photo on the b-side of the card is also not with the Indians. Colavito wore three different numbers with Cleveland 6, 21 and 38 but never 7. The two squads for which he donned #7 were the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City A's. I am thinking that this photo is with the Tigers as Rocky Colavito didn't join the Athletics until 1964. The front appears to be an Airbrushed Tigers photo as well. 

1964 Topps Jumbo
I love this set and I have it on the back burner to build. They are referred to Jumbo or Giant cards because they are oversized at just over 3"x5". I go with Jumbo because when you search on "1964 Topps Giant" you get a bunch of Willy Mays cards, but not necessarily Jumbos. 

Colavito's Four Home Run Game
Baseball-Ref Box
1964 Topps #109 (Rusty Staub)

Sources and Links
Game Dated Cards Index
1964 Topps Jumbo Index
Baseball-Ref
ebay
Cardboard Connection

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

1944 June 6: D-Day and Baseball

This week marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day. To commemorate the event in a baseball related way I wanted to pass on a bit of the sports history from the era.

The pending Allied Invasion had been rumored for some time prior to D-Day and major league baseball made plans to postpone any games on the date if possible.  This possibility was discussed in the June 1 1944 issue of the Sporting News - issued just days prior to D-Day.

 

1944 JUN 01 The Sporting News pg 1

There were two MLB games scheduled for June 6 1944 and indeed neither were played. I am assuming the time difference between Europe and the States allowed for proper scheduling changes. Those rescheduling of those games was mentioned in the June 7 1944 issue of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Horse Racing was the sport of kings in the era so you need to go a few paragraphs down to see a mention of the two games.

1944 JUN 07 Philadelphia Inquirer Pg 24

If you want to see a modern representation of the postponed games you can look to the terrific archive of baseball statistic history, Baseball-Reference.


Baseball-Ref Scores from Tuesday June 6 1944

Notice that when you do a search for games played on D-Day Baseball-Reference notes

"No Games Were or Have Yet Been Played on This Date"

 

Sources and Links 

Baseball-Ref 

Philadelphia Inquirer (1944 06 07)

The Sporting News (1944 06 01)




a thousand words

a thousand words
2008 World Champions