Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hall of Fame Thursday - Lou Gehrig

1979 TCMA #46 Lou Gehrig

Seventy years ago today Lou Gehrig played his 2130th consecutive game. It would be the final game Gehrig would ever play.

He played every Yankees game for nearly 14 years. Just for good measure he threw in 34 World Series games as a member of 6 Yankees World Championship Teams (1927, 28, 32, and 36-38). To help try and grasp what 2130 cards consists of, I took the Lou Gehrig card above and reduced it to 10% of actual size and then created 2130 copies of it. Just think if they were real cards the composite would be 10 times this size.

2130 Lou Gehrig Mini Minis (click to enlarge)

A lot of us became more familiar with Gehrig when Cal Ripken Jr approached, and then passed Gehrig, during his own consecutive game streak. It is hard for me to believe it is almost 14 years since the Iron Man passed the Iron Horse. There are many other records and accomplishments for which Lou Gehrig should be known in addition to the streak. He collected 2721 hits while mashing 493 Homers. His career BA was an impressive .340. His Career RBI (1995) and Run Scored (1888) totals still rank in the top 10 All time.

It's been 70 years since Lou Gehrig played his final game and there remains no cure for the diseases which now frequently is referenced by his Name. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a disease that destroys the body while leaving the mind in tact - It frequently affects young men - Lou Gehrig was taken by ALS as the age of 37. Physicist Stephen Hawking is a well known ALS patient. Last fall phungo ran on obituary on 1970s era Minnesota Vikings linebacker Wally Hilgenberg who succumbed to the disease.

In Philadelphia baseball circles the fight against ALS is prominently waged by one time Phillies Pitcher Curt Schilling. Schill is an historian of the game and named his first son Gehrig after the baseball icon. Curt and his wife Shonda are both active in fund rasing efforts to raise money for ALS research.

Since 1984 ALS has been the Phils Primary Charity. Each year the team hosts an ALS benefit inviting the public to meet, greet players, and recieve autographs in exchange for their contributions. I have not seen a date posted for this years ALS event yet.

In one final Phillies Lou Gehrig connection, we mention Shane Victorino who recieved this years Lou Gehrig Award sponsored by the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity - which Gehrig was a member of at Columbia University. The award is given annually to the player who "Best Exemplifies the Giving Character of Lou Gehrig". Victorino is scheduled to recieve the award prior to the Phillies 4th of July game versus the New York Mets.

That day, July 4th 2009, will be the 70th anniversary of Lou Gehrig's "Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth" - click the link - It is likely very few of us are old enough to have heard it at the time, yet we have all heard it countless times. It still a chill giver. The text of the speech can be found here.

The information for this article has come from several sources including Wikipedia, Baseball-Reference, and Retrosheet.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Phungo Cards - Charlie Manuel

2009 Phungo #41 Charlie Manuel

Tonight is Charlie Manuel Bobble Head Night at Citizen's Bank Ballpark.

Winning changes everything.

Manuel offered up the following quote when he was told that there would be bobblehead for him "If somebody would have told me when I first took this job that I'd have a bobblehead, I would have told you at the time that I'd be headless".

Winning does change everything.

In years past nearly every spring Manuel was on the edge of getting run out of Philadelphia. He had to replace a legend in Larry Bowa - to his credit Charlie never complained, blamed anyone else, or ducked the criticism. He just got his teams prepared and put his players in situations where they could succeed - And they did. Now he has a World Series Ring and a Bobblehead to prove it.

The Phungo card above is number 41 in the Phungo Set, which matches Charlie's uniform number. The Photo was take on October 31st of 08 during the Phillies World Championship Parade. It was one beautiful and glorious day but....... well, Charlie sure looked uncomfortable in that suit.

Click here for a Phungo profile on Charlie and if you want to know more about Phungo Cards click here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

phungo 5 with Texas Rangers Cards

This week the Phillies are hosting the Washington Nationals, and I've have decided to go a slightly different route with Phungo 5. We are going to check in with a blogger representing one of the two clubs descended from the Washington Senators, The Texas Rangers.

Texas Rangers Cards covers the Rangers club which emerged when the Senators migrated to Texas in 1972. TRC is the first AL blog to appear in the Phungo 5 and has hooked us up with some good information about Rangers Past, Present, and Future.


1) Do you know of any Washington Senators connections to the Rangers anymore or is that so far in the past that no one really mentions it?

It is still mentioned occasionally. The team still owns the rights to the name "Washington Senators" (that's why the Nats couldn't use the name) and uses Washington jerseys for throwback games. Tom Grieve is the first person who comes to mind to make the connection. Tom played for one season for Washington before the move. For quite awhile he was practically the face of the Rangers, serving as the GM and now as a broadcaster. Toby Harrah is also a fairly big name and played for both teams.


2
) I look at the Rangers rotation and I see two former Phils in Kevin Millwood and Vincente Padilla plus a guy that couldn't get himself on the mound as a Phil a year ago (Kris Benson) - am I wrong to have a knee jerk reaction against this staff?

You are in the case of Kevin Millwood. Kevin has started three games this season and has completed one of them while posting a 1-1 record. Those numbers are a little misleading though. He is carrying a 1.17 ERA in 23 innings and has 14 strikeouts compared to 4 walks. I worry more about the offense when Millwood starts. Padilla is a different story. He also has a 1-1 record but the similarities end there. He has a 9.64 ERA in 14 innings and 11 strikeouts to 5 walks. I get this weird rash on Padilla's nights to pitch. Benson is just Padilla on the DL. I guess your knee jerk reaction about the staff went 2 for 3. In summary, I would take Millwood over Mitch Williams (former Ranger) but would have to take Mitch over the other two...


3) Seems to me Ian Kinsler and Michael Young autograph cards are a bit undervalued - Do you think my opinion is correct, If Michael Young keeps himself healthy he may be a 3000 hit guy - and we all know what that means. and if I am looking to pick up some cheap autos of Rangers prospects - who would you recommend? Please tell me Joaquin Arias - I know I have a couple of those laying around already.

Kins and Young are undervalued but don't tell anyone, I am scooping them up as quick as I can. Both of them have HOF potential in my mind. Prospecting is not my strong point but I'll give it a shot. At this point Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz are the top pitching prospects. Both are starters and are supposed to carry the team into the future. Justin Smoak and Max Ramirez are both near the top of the position players list. Arias got hurt a couple of years ago and got passed up by Elvis Andrus. There is a very real possibility that he will end up on the trade block.

2008 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects Chrome #BDPP89 Elvis Andrus
2007 Bowman Heritage #22 Michael Young


4) Last month you came out with a column regarding Ivan Rodriguez and his possible involvement with PEDs. It has only been a month - Have there been any developments in your relationship with your Pudge collection.

Not really. I have continued to add cards to the collection through trades but haven't made any additions through buying. I am still hoping that he will eventually clarify his statements on the matter.


5) I see you are a Civil War Buff, Have you ever been to Gettysburg?

Yes. Went years ago when I was in high school. Awesome place. My current location keeps me from seeing as many battlefields as I would like though. If anyone ever gets a chance to get to Prairie Grove, Arkansas they should. Great park.

We will award Texas Rangers Cards a 5 out of 5 this week. Thanks for the tips on Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park and letting us know what else is going on at the Ballpark in Arlington.

This weekend will be the first 2009 meeting between the Phillies and those stinkin' Mets. To mark the occasion we are hosting a Phungo 5 with the Mets card and memorabilia Blog Sports Locker.

If anyone would like to volunteer as the Nationals Rep for Phungo 5 please let me know.
For a look back a previous Phungo 5 click here and find out what Wax Heaven had to say about the Florida Marlins.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Phungo 5 with Wax Heaven

2006 Fleer #191 Josh Johnson

On Friday night Josh Johnson put together another great start for the Florida Marlins. He held the Phillies scoreless on 3 hits over 7 innings. Unfortunately for the Fish they were undone when their closer, Matt Lindstrom, had trouble getting the ball over the plate. In the end Shane Vicotorino would hit a Grand Slam and the Phillies would snatch a victory from the Marlins in what appeared to be a certain loss.

I am sure my view on this game is significantly different then today's Phungo 5 guest, Mario from the extremely popular and very interesting Wax Heaven. Florida has struggled a little in the past week, but still have a good early lead in the division. Mario appears to be in a state of guarded optimism as the Marlins keep churning out young talent and admirably challenge the titans of the NL East despite having a huge payroll deficit.


1) You have recently announced that you are focusing your collection on
Andrew Miller and Canseco. You were drawn to Miller almost instantly on his arrival to Miami, what started your infatuation? and as a fan and colector what do you think the Canseco and Miller have in common.

When I returned to collecting after 10 years away and five years from watching my last baseball game, I had no idea who 75% of the players were. One of the first products I opened was 2007 SPx and I ended up pulling an Andrew Miller autograph which at the time booked for about $50 dollars. From that point on I casually picked up his cards but wasn't really a fan and then when the Marlins traded for him I was shocked and knew I had to start collecting.

He and Canseco, who I have been collecting for 20 years have nothing in common. Jose is cocky and sometimes arrogant, Andrew is shy and down to Earth. My wife and I have met him three times and one day when I ran into him alone he asked me where my wife was, even remembered her name! Many Marlins are like that, including
Dan Uggla.


2) The current Marlins pitching staff is very strong (consequently the team is off to a scorching start) - do you think 20 years from now that one of them will be viewed as the greatest Pitcher in Marlins History? Or do you think that honor will belong to a Marlin from the past (Dontrelle or Josh Beckett)

Let's be real here. When Alex Fernandez, Livan Hernandez, and Dontrelle Willis are viewed as some of the Marlins all-time greats, it sets the bar pretty low. I think Josh Johnson, Chris Volstad, and Andrew Miller will all become Marlins greats before being traded away to big market teams.


3) Your moving more into the Photography end of things these days. As far as actions shots, is there any particular area in the stadium you try and get to for your photos?

I like photography because unlike collecting, once you buy a camera you don't have to continue to spend more money. In the beginning I used to sit in the first row of the outfield but I got tired of taking pictures of the player's back. Today I always sit in the visitor's are by third base cause there are more right handed pitchers than there are left, plus I love photography lefties for some reason, especially
Ryan Howard.


4) Darrent Daulton and Jim Eisenriech are both prominent former Phils, but won a World Championship as Marlins. Any recollections of the two?

Darren Daulton was awesome and one of my favorites on the team when he was here. Jim on the other hand, I hardly remember.

I love the Phillies. It's sad when commentators try to stir the Florida vs. Philadelphia rivalry when their really isn't one. Our true enemy has shown their
ugly faces and they come from New York.


5) Last summer I met some relatives of Sean West - real fine people. Can you tell us anything about him. I see he is in the Marlins top 30 prospects.

I saw Sean West a lot during Spring Training. Since I never saw him pitch, the most I remember about him is how tall he was. We have a lot of really tall pitchers.


%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

Thanks to Mario and the rest of the Wax Heaven family. I know they are both busy running a couple of projects and raising one of the newest Marlins fans and do appreciate their time. It's pretty remarkable to see that Wax Heaven is creeping in on a MILLION hits - not bad for covering a "dying hobby".

For a look back at a previous Phungo 5 click here for our inteview with Brewers authority Thorzul and you can read how he foresaw a near no-hitter by Dave Bush.

Next week the Phils host the Washington Nationals. Phungo 5 will feature a team that is descended from a previous DC tenant, The Washington Senators, when we speak with Texas Rangers Cards.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Would You Cheer for an Opposing No-Hitter

2008 Topps #576 Dave Bush

I am a Phils fan but I am also a baseball fan.

On Thursday Dave Bush, who Thorzul astutely referenced as underrated in a recent Phungo 5, came five outs away from a No-Hitter.

I was doing something stupid (working) yesterday so I missed the event, but had I been there or watched on TV or listened on the radio - Yes I would have been cheering for my team to get no-hit.

I have been to two-hundred plus games. I am a baseball junkie - I have the box-scores to every game I have ever seen - I have been to a World Series clincher, an NLCS Clincher, I've seen Grand Slams and Shutouts, but I have never seen a no-hitter.

This was a game between the Brewers and Phillies in the middle of April - A game the Phils were losing by 6 runs. And the kid pitching the no-no was raised in the Philadelphia suburbs. The Bush family has held Phillies season tickets for 15 years.

To me, you have to pull for the no-hitter.

That's just me - what do the Phungo Readers think?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Phungo 5 with Thorzul Will Rule

This week the Phillies and Brewers meet for the first time since the 08 NLDS. Milwaukees still appears to be a good club but they have a dramatically different pitching look without CC or Ben Sheets in the rotation. In addition at some point Trevor Hoffman should bolster their bullpen.

Team Phungo recently sent out a Phungo 5 for the always witty Thorzul Will Rule crew and got the following responses:

1) The Brewers seem pretty loaded for hitters, what is the
situation with the Pitchers - Gallardo is pretty good.
how do you feel about Parra and Bush? Has anybody ever
sought out a Jeff Suppan Card?


You're right about the offense being loaded. It's going to be a fun
team to watch hit this year, but then you'll have plenty of time to hit the
restroom during the top half of each inning. Gallardo should be good, and Dave
Bush is probably the most underrated guy on the staff. And Jeff Suppan...all I
have to say is that his 2007 Topps Heritage card (and I had at least five of
them) was good for use as a bookmark for the duration of Summer 2007. I read
some good books that summer, including "Cross-X," the true story of an
inner-city high school debate team, which I highly recommend. Jeff Suppan helped
me never lose my spot.


2) You have been doing the cardblogging thing for a while,
do you ever get bloggers block and have to resort to lazy
gimmicks like interviewing other bloggers?

Thorzul Will Rule will celebrate (or has celebrated, I'm not sure) its
second birthday sometime this spring. There have been some lean periods, sure,
but I think the secret is not to post something just for the sake of posting. I
guess part of my fallback strategy is to haul out another page from my sticker
book
whenever I can't think of something else to write, but that's
actually gotten some of the most positive feedback out of all the content so
far. I've tried to establish my own niche in this baseball card world, and
I think comedy has been the way to go. I could really care less about breaking
news on a sell sheet or some new product or something like that. If
someone's coming to Thorzul Will Rule for information, they will be
disappointed 99 times out of a hundred. I'm all about the fun of baseball
cards
, and hopefully I can make somebody laugh at some point during the
soul-sucking existence we call a workday. I guess I could always fall
back on posting some Brewers card or another, but I really don't want to
get pigeonholed as a Brewers blog. There's way better and more insightful
stuff out there if that's what you're looking for.


3) I don't want to steal any of your thunder but what
can you tell us about the next $5 group break - I like them
and am happy to see that they appear to be pretty successful
so far.

The cheap group breaks will return. They actually turn out to be a lot of
work. I've purchased other lots of cards, but some of them just didn't
turn out to be right for the promo, too much 1990s junk and stuff like that. I
guess I'd like to try doing it three or four times a year from now on. I
really hope everyone has been satisfied so far if they've taken part.



2006 Fleer #267 Randy Wolf
2007 Upper Deck #178 Geoff Jenkins
2008
Topps Flight to 420 #BF-401 Brett Favre 2006-09-24

(Click photos to Enlarge)



4) Do you think Geoff Jenkins looks more like Brett Favre
or Randy Wolf?

Brett Favre.



5) Which is better the Bernie Brewer Slide or the Sausage
Race


The Sausage Race by a mile! Each school year I plan a field trip with my
class that involves a tour of Miller Park. The kids always ask about the slide
and if they can go on it, but there's too much liability involved to let
them. Keep in mind that Bernie used to slide down from the barrel and land in a
glass of beer, but I guess that's too non-PC to fly at the moment. At the
Sausage Race, a true fan needs to pick one variety of sausage to cheer on and
stick with it. I'm a Bratwurst man myself, an homage to my German heritage.
He rarely comes in first during the games I attend. Readers who haven't
been to Miller Park should also know that during the seventh inning stretch, in
addition to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," we also sing "Roll Out
the Barrel," a polka-infused ode to alcohol consumption. Good times.


%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%


Thanks Thorzul - Another Great Phungo 5, Alas we can only award 4 out of 5. As a Vikings Fan, I cannot give a point for Brett Favre, just typing his name irks me - although I did appreciate his cameo in "Something About Mary".

For a look back at a previous Phungo 5 click here.

I am also pleased to let you know that this weekend we are planning to have the prolific Mario from Wax Heaven on the hot seat for the next Phungo 5.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Today's Post - Bill Lee


1971 Topps #58 Bill Lee

Can you guess the reason for this post - Lets just say I wonder if after breakfast he ended up hungrier then when he started.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Phungo 5 with Padrographs

The surprisingly hot San Diego Padres are here to play the Phillies in the first home series since the death of Harry Kalas. It is an emotional weekend in South Philly, hopefully the Phils will be able to remain focused and play well against the Padres.
For the Fightin Friars Phungo 5, I have enlisted the help of Rod from Padrographs who is in the process of chronicling over 700 San Diego Padres autographs on line. Rod has also recently begun an interesting project of collecting cards that represent every Padres Starting line-up - Great idea nine players in a starting line-up, 9 pockets on a card page.

1) Your reviewing your autos (700+) in Alphabetical order. how long do you anticipate this task taking?

Well if all I did was the Padrographs and did one per day, it would take two years. But since I keep adding to the total and am blogging about other things and have a life it could take several years. I am at 715 as of today (4/13/09) and have about 12 guys out in the mail, plus a few others that I haven't been able to track down. By the way if anyone is going to see the Erie Sea Wolves play let me know, they have a player that I need a signature from.

2) The Padres are off to a Hot start - who is the biggest surprise to you?

Hundley and Headley have really been amazing for just getting started in MLB. I hope that the team can keep up this pace. It will be amazing if they do, but the really important thing is finishing ahead of the Dodgers and Giants.

Note: Hundley came up with a big hit in the Pads Friday night victory over the Phils.

3) Among Padres Phillies Connections John Kruk comes to mind, can you think of any other interesting ones?

John Kruk is one of my all favorite players, we have the same Buddha body shape. Another Phillie Padres connection is a local player from Portland, the man who once wondered why do we drive on a parkway, and park on a driveway, and if packing peanuts are for shipping stuff how do we ship them. Ladies and germs, Larry Anderson

Chachoengsao Temple Buddha, Chachoensao Thailand
1989 Donruss #86 John Kruk

4) According to some of your blog entries you have been away from Southern Califormia a long time. Has it been hard to maintain your allegiance to the Padres?
I was originally born in SoCal, Long Beach to be exact. I would have gone to the same high school Tony Gwynn if we stayed where we lived when I was born. I moved from Long Beach to Honolulu to Ferndale to Oxnard to Newport, RI to Norfolk, VA to Long Beach to Big Sur to Eugene to Portland to San Diego to Chicago to Oakland to Portland. I have been here since 1981. I became a Padres fan when the brother of my classmate, Jill Roberts, Dave Roberts was drafted by the Padres. I have followed them since, more or less.

5)Better Mascot - The Phanatic or the San Diego Chicken?

The San Diego Chicken. I was in San Diego before he became the San Diego chicken when he was a mascot for a local radio station.

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

Padrographs gets a 5 outta 5. I thought I would have to ding him on the Mascot Q, but he came up with a good enough justification for favoring the chicken - And anytime Larry Andersen gets mentioned that is always a bonus.

I would like to thank Rod for his time, well thought answers, and for giving me the opportunity to post the Buddha picture. For a look back at a previous Phungo 5 click here for a look at Trader Crack's 5.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hall of Fame Thursday - Harry Kalas

Harry Kalas 2008 10 29

Harry Kalas received the Ford C Frick Award for his Broadcasting Contributions to Baseball in 2002. For Hall of Fame Thursday I have collected a few links on Kalas. This is his Baseball Hall of Fame Bio and here is his the text of his Frick Award acceptance Speech. Philly Sports Hall of Fame Bio (Kalas was a member of the Charter Class - 2004). There is also a Harry Kalas Obituary on Baseball Prospectus.

Various Card Blogger Links on the Harry Kalas Passings - Including Mark Fidrych postings that mention Kalas:

Sports Card Info
Stale Gum
The Phillies Room

A Cardboard Problem
Bad Wax
bdj610's Topps Baseball Card Blog

Cardboard Junkie
Grand Cards
Heartbreaking Cards of Staggering Genius

Lake Effect Baseball Cards
Long Fly Ball To Because.....
Paul's Random Stuff

Rain of Error
Taste Like Dirt
Wait 'til Next Year

Wax Heaven
White Sox Cards


That is a bunch of great tributes, I am glad so many card bloggers paid tribute to the Philadelphia Broadcaster and Icon.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Phungo 5 with Trader Crack's

1994 Fleer Extra Bases Second Year Star #12 of 20 Pedro Martinez

Today we are taking a break from the Harry Kalas memorial posts so that we can go off to the Great White North for Phungo 5 with Trader Crack's. The Phils are in DC to play the Nationals and I thought this would be a good opportunity to find out some info on a part of the Nationals past, the Montreal Expos. While Trader Crack's is not an Expos blog specifically Ryan does have a pretty firm knowledge of the team and Canadian Players. Here is his Phungo 5:

1) Do you have any idea how many former Expos are still playing?

Off the top of my head, there’s Vladdie Guerrero. I’ve forgotten if Bartolo Colon stopped feasting on the hot dogs and got a team this year. Same sort of scenario for Brad Wilkerson, Pedro Martinez and Jose Vidro, minus the hot dogs. Then you’ve got Randy Johnson, Orlando Cabrera and Fernando Tatis. Jason Bay and Grady Sizemore came up in the Expos organization before being shipped to other teams. The last few years were a whirlwind of activity so I’m sure there’s plenty of other guys who suited up in Montreal and are still around.

Perhaps the most interesting former Expo still “playing” is their mascot Youpii, who has now taken over as the mascot for the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens.

2) The Expos were leading the NL East when the 1994 strike occured, do you think a playoff berth could have saved baseball in Montreal?

The Expos would have made it to the World Series in ’94 but I don’t think anything could have saved baseball. The Canadian dollar was very low at the time and there seemed to be tremendous frustration and apathy towards the team seeing as how the Expos were a farm team of sorts for the All-Star Game.

3) Is Matt Stairs playoff HR vs Dodgers the hardest ball ever hit by a Canadian?

Probably not. Can I prove it? Nope.

4) Any hints for my Hockey Playoff Brackets?

I heard that Wayne Gretzky is pretty good. They made a cartoon about him and he even had his own Barbie doll.

5) The McKenzie Brothers or Kids in the Hall?

Have the Kids in the Hall gotten their own MacFarlane figures? I didn’t think so.

I am glad to see that Youpii has found good work, and will likely outperform all the Expos. Apparently there is a virtual all-star team of Expos still playing. I will stick my personal assertion that Matt Stairs NLCS dinger is the hardest ball I have ever seen hit - Trader Cracks gets a 4 out of 5 in this weeks Phungo 5.

I also want to take this opportunity to post some football cards. A couple of weeks ago Trader Crack's posted that he had a bunch of Daunte Culpepper cards looking for a home. I didn't realize how many he had. Here are some of the highlights:

1999 Collector's Edge #160 Daunte Culpepper

2006 Topps Turkey Red #244 Daunte Culpepper

1999 Donruss Rookie Gridiron Kings #RGK3 Daunte Culpepper (#d 2558/5000)

2005 Topps Heritage #26 Daunte Culpepper

I would love to thank Ryan for his generosity - and I would also like to mention that in the box there were some duplicates and I would like to pay those forward. If anyone is interested please email me, my address is in my profile.

For a look back at a previous Phungo 5 click here for a look at Tulo Trader's Phungo 5.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Harry Kalas Memory

I met Harry Kalas once.

Sort of, This was in November of 1997, I was on a flight back to Philadelphia from a fun-filled football trip to see the Vikings host the Patriots in Minnesota. I was sitting in my seat blankly gazing towards the front of the plane when, to my shock, I recognized Kalas walking up the aisle. Then to my thrill (and fear) he sat down in the empty seat across from me. I wasn't sure what to do - I have had very few "brushes with fame". Finally after a few moments of self-debate (and composing myself) I said something like "Excuse Me, I'm Paul and I am a big Phillies Fan" l offered my hand and Harry Kalas shook it. He was very gracious and told me he was covering the football game for Westwood One - We discussed the game for a little bit and I remember specifically talking about Cris Carter. This all happened prior to take off - after that I let him be, although if I would of talked to him the entire flight, I am sure he would have been more than happy to oblige.

When it came time to disembark, Harry told me it was a pleasure - He had even gone to the trouble of remembering my name - and then he walked off the plane.

2009 Phungo #58 Harry Kalas

This is the Harry Kalas Phungo card. I thought I would post this card on a much happier occasion. Last week when Harry threw out the first pitch for the Ring Ceremony game would have been a happy occasion. Here he is getting ready toss out the first pitch on October 2nd of last year this is prior to game 2 of the NLDS.

That was the Brett Myers game, the Shane Victorino game and also the C C Sabathia game.

The Phils had already won game one of the five game set, but were still looking at the possibility of facing CC twice in the series. That all changed on October 2nd. In the bottom of the 2nd with the score tied, a man on third and two outs, Brett Myers came to the plate in what one would assume would be an automatic out....Instead, during an epic confrontation, Myers fouled off several offerings from the Milwaukee ace before working a nine pitch walk. Two Batters later Shane Victorino hit a Grand Slam. It would be the last time Sabathia pitched for the Brewers.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Harry Kalas (1936-2009)

To me Harry Kalas, as much as anyone in sports, understood that sports is about the fan. He understood what Autographs and Photos meant to them and was always accommodating. This is what gave Harry Kalas the "everyman" quality. He was like a regular guy that just happened to have the great job of broadcasting the Philadelphia Phillies.

I will likely have a couple of Harry Kalas columns over the next week, but I will need to take some time to get my thoughts together and give the posts the proper care. Until then I would like to pass along some of the more interesting tidbits that come to mind.

Harry Kalas called every one of Michael Jack Schmidt's 548 Career Home Runs. I doubt anybody has called more homers by a single player.

Harry Kalas was the Phillies broadcaster since 1971, He covered over 6000 games. Prior to that he was the original broadcaster for the Houston Colt 45s and Astros.

I am 41 years old and Harry Kalas is the only Phillies Primary broadcaster that I have ever known.

In addition to Phillies Baseball, Kalas covered college basketball locally and NFL football for Westwood One.

He has also been the voice of NFL films and many a commercial.

Kalas was the final speaker at the closing ceremonies of Veteran's Stadium. He also removed the "one game to go banner" during the game.

Harry Kalas threw out the first pitch prior to the Phillies ring ceremony game this Past Thursdsay. This was the last Phillies home game Harry ever covered.

As a youngster Kalas grew up as a Washington Senators Fan. He said that during a rain delay at his first game, Mickey Vernon took the young Harry Kalas into the Senators dugout and introduced him to his teammates. Kalas said right then he was a baseball fan and a Senators Fan.

Today he died in Washington D.C. The home of the team he once rooted for, He likely passed away in the broadcast booth - where he performed the job he loved.

As you may know, Harry's Son Todd covers the Tampa Bay Rays. In a recent interview, Harry Kalas spoke of how special it was to cover the 2008 World Series and he said it was even more rewarding knowing that his son covered the games for the opposition.

Due to the MLB broadcasting exclusivity rights of the time Kalas was unable to call the Phillies 1980 World Championship. If you ever hear him calling Tug McGraw's strikeout, it was dubbed in after the event. The exclusivity arrangement was altered three years after the 1980 season to allow local radio to carry their own broadcasters. Harry Kalas credited the fans of Philadelphia for getting the broadcasting rules changed.

It would take 28 years but this Past October Harry Kalas did get to call the final out of a Phillies World Series victory.

Harry Kalas has Died

The Philadelphia Daily News is reporting that Hall of Fame Broadcaster Harry Kalas has died.

Phillies.com report.

He had been taken to a Washington DC Hospital after passing out in the Press Box at Nationals Stadium.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Phungo 5 with Tulo Trader - Phillies @ Rockies

2007 Bowman Heritage Rainbow Foil #248 Troy Tulowitzki

This weekend the Phillies play Colorado and for the 2nd installment of Phungo 5 we go out to the Rockies, actually I think we are traveling to the sunshine state as our Phungo 5 Guest is a transplant.

We are getting some help from the Tulo Trader for today's 5. Tulo Trader focuses on the young phenom shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, but also covers the rest of the fine Rockies team. Colorado has several other young players, however they are on the cusp of ushering in an era of change as Matt Holliday has been traded, Todd Helton is getting older and coming off a disappointing 2007. Thanks to Tulo Trader for all his interesting answers and comments.

1) Two years ago the Rockies swept the Phils in the playoffs then their 08 seasons went dramatically different directions. What must the Rockies do to get back on track?
That's the million dollar question and I can't help but look at pitching. The Rockies will have to have a little bit of luck on their side if they want to make another run like 2007 as Coors Field keeps the big pitchers out of town, not so much for the thin air, but for the vast outfield. As we've seen before, the marquee pitchers of the league will stay as far away from Coors Field because they weren't built for it. The Rockies will almost exclusively need to raise sinker-ball pitchers in the farm system and hope for their future big league success. Outside of that, the Rox will have to keep their starting eight healthy. In 2008, Troy Tulowitzki went down early and Todd Helton played only 83 games while playing 154 in 2007. Additionally, with the exit of Matt Holliday prior to the '09 season, the Rockies will have to rely on small-ball tactics to win some games in true National League fashion, though I could see players like Ian Stewart filling that void in the future.

Phungo Note: We are also hoping for big things from Stewart as he was the last batter added to the Phungo Fantasy Squad.

2
) I believe that the Rockies are not your home team, how often do you get to see the Rockies.
From 2005-2008 Coors Field was my front yard. Now I'm two time zones away and it is extremely difficult to catch Rockies games. I usually make it back to Denver for at least a few games a year, but outside of that I'm relegated to watch the few nationally televised games on TV at home or run up to the sports bar to cure my fix. Fortunately, I didn't miss much last year.

3) I see that you are a Brett Myers Fan, He has a somewhat checkered history both on and off the field. How did you become a Brett Myers fan.
Ah, Brett Myers. The sole reason as to why I started collecting his cards was because of the infamous "Boom... outta here" interview in 2008. Many thanks to Jim Rome for keeping that going.

4) Is my Joe Koshansky autograph card I picked up for 2 bucks worthless?
I was a little upset to see JoKo go, but the Rockies are inundated with young infielders with big potential that have no place to go. I'm guessing the outlook on Koshansky was that when Todd Helton finally rides off into the sunset, the Rockies would move Garrett Atkins to first base opening up third base for touted prospect Ian Stewart. I have plenty of Koshansky cards as well and I'd like to think that they won't be worthless... of course, a card is only as valuable as its owner holds it.

5) Rocky Mountain Oysters, Yes or No ?

I'm originally from the Chesapeake Bay area... I'll take those oysters over the Rocky Mountain variety any day of the week.

We are awarding another 5 for 5. Good to get some positive feedback regarding Ian Stewart and Joe Koshansky.....I have never experienced the culinary pleasure of Rocky Mountain Oysters but I will defer to TT's opinion.
Thanks to the Tulowitki Trader for writing my column today. If you want to look back at the previous Phungo 5 with Cardboard Junkie Click Here.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hall of Fame Thursday - Nellie Fox


1957 Topps #37 Nellie Fox

50 years ago today the 1959 season began. The 59 season was great success for the Chicago White Sox, they won 94 games and the American League Pennant. The Chisox also had the top 3 finishers in the MVP voting. I didn't have the patience to look it up, but I cannot imagine one team having the top 3 MVP candidates. The Three players were Fox, Luis Aparicio, and Pitcher Early Wynn. Wynn also took the Cy Young Award that year. Additionally that same year the Cubs had the NL MVP in Ernie Banks. Two teams in the same city winning both MVP awards has happened several times, especially back when New York had three teams. Most recently it happened in 2002 when Team Balco swept the awards with Barry Bonds winning the NL and Miguel Tejada capturing the AL Award while with the A's.

During his 19 year career Nellie Fox spent 14 seasons with the White Sox. He was originally signed by Philadelphia's other team, the A's, in 1944, but was traded for Joe Tipton. Fox racked up 2663 career hits and never struck out more than 20 times in a season. The 13 time All-Star led the league in hits 4 times and was know as a old school palyer (even in 1950s they had old school players) who fielded his position well - He set the consecutive game record for 2nd basemen at 798.

Fox was not elected to the HOF by the BBWAA - he was denied in his final year of eligibility (1985), falling just short with 74.6% of the vote. In 1997 the Veteran's Committee Made Nellie Fox a Hall of Famer.

For the Collectors

Nellie Fox's rookie card is 1951 Bowman #232. In recent auctions it has sold for $47.50 in pretty good condition and $18.50 in rough condition.

I don't think he shows up on a Topps card until 1956 (#118) - This cards has sold for as low as $9.49. The 1957 card above I picked up as part of a lot - $3.50 of which went towards Nellie's Card.

Nellie Fox died in 1975 and his autographs are pretty scarce. The "certified" autos I found generally ran between $200 and $300.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Phungo Cards - Opening Day!

2009 Phungo Black Frame Insert - Opening Day (Unnumbered)

Today is Opening Day for the Phillies. Even though it is their 3rd game of the season. Sunday was Opening Day for Baseball, but it really was a night game, Tuesday's game was also a night game. Today is a getaway day for the Braves, thus a good opportunity to schedule the Phils first day game of the year. Today's schedule also includes the ring ceremony for the World Champions - Pat Burrell even flew in from Boston for the event.

The Phungo Card above is from Opening Day back in 2005. I am sure the photo looks pretty familiar to Phungo Readers. It is also the picture that is in the Phungo banner, It was taken prior to the first game ever played by the Washington Nationals. The card is part of the unnumbered Phungo Black Frame series.

Unfortunately the Phils are off to a rough start today and will have to come up with some offense to avoid being swept.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Richie Ashburn article on The Golden Age of Baseball

I am stealing a post today. This is a link to a column on Richie Ashburn over at The Golden Age of Baseball. If your a Phils fan and need to get over the blues of the 0-2 start this article may help, enjoy.

The 1954 Topps card of Ashburn featured in the article has sold (ungraded) for a low of $10.50 in recent ebay auctions.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Opening Night - Phungo 5 with Cardboard Junkie

New Phungo Feature today - the PHUNGO 5. For each series during the Phillies 09 Season I am going to attempt to get a mini-interview of 5 questions from a card blogger related to the team which is facing the Phillies (Think "Daily Show" V1.0 with Kilborn)

The Phillies are coming off of winning the 2008 World Championship and as a reward they get to host ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball and the Atlanta Braves. This gives me the opportunity to pick the brain of the prolific DayF over at Cardboard Junkie. I am ashamed, I think he gave me his entire Braves preview. Dayf is his usual witty and insightful self and I am very happy with the results of the first Phungo 5.

1) This is the 2nd consecutive year the Braves have been on Opening night, Like it or Loathe it?
Love it. It's like Daytona for baseball, a big event. I don't even mind the crappy ESPN announcers. Bonus: Derek Lowe gets an extra start in due to all the off days from playing a day before everyone else. I just hope the weather isn't lousy up in Philly.

2) If I am a prospector what Braves cards should I be looking at?
You obviously are too late to jump on the Jordan Shafer bandwagon and pretty much everyone knows about Hanson and Heyward by now. Gorkys Hernandez too, to a lesser extent. Freddie Freeman is probably the best prospect still (sort of) under the radar. Huge 19 year old first baseman that mashes the ball. Also watch out for shortstop Brandon Hicks. He's raw, but he might end up converted to third base to take over for Chipper one day. Brandon is another guy who can hit the ball out of the park, but he strikes out too much. If he can learn how to make contact or at least figure out how to take a ton of walks like Adam Dunn he might be in the bigs one day. There's a whole mess of pitchers who could make an impact in a couple of years too. Kris Medlen, Cole Rohrbaugh, Julio Teheran and Jeff Locke. All lefties except for Medlen.

3) What three players will need to excel for the Braves to win the NL East?
Jeff Francoeur has got to remember how to hit. If he doesn't the Braves are in trouble and Jeffy will probably be on his way out of town. Mike Gonzalez is pretty critical. The bullpen is good but injury prone and Mike needs to lock down that closer role to keep the whole house of cards from collapsing like it's done so often in the past. The most important guy on the team right now is Brian McCann. He's an All-Star catcher, hits the daylights out of the ball and is picking up the Team Leader role now that Smoltz is gone and Glavine has gotten old. If McCann gets injured for any period of time, the Braves are in deep trouble. If Chipper goes down they could muddle through with some combination of Infante, Prado and Norton over in the hot corner. Behind McCann is David Ross and Clint Sammons. McCann has to stay healthy.

4) Favorite Phillies Braves Connection
My cousin Tim, a big Phillie fan who took me to a few Phillies/Braves games when I was a kid. I owned a Phillies cap before I ever owned a Braves cap if you can believe that. Got it at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium at a game he took me to. I don't know how the hell he managed to drive home after all of those beers he had at the game, but we did and it was a really fun time.

5) Dr Dirt or Mr Clean?
No contest. Mr. Clean.

1991 Donruss #744 Dr Dirt and Mr Clean (click to enlarge)

There it is, the Debut of Phungo 5 - We will give the Cardboard Junkie team a perfect 5 of 5 for their efforts - Hope you enjoyed it, We will be looking to Tulo Trader for a Rockies report later this week. If you are interested in representing your team in a future Phungo 5 leave a comment or email me - I have some folks in mind, but some teams are a little thin - is there a Nats Card blog out there?

As for me I am looking forward to watching the Phils defend the World Championship. The Phillies are facing long odds, No NL team as repeated since the 75-76 Reds 30+ years ago. Regardless, the Phils are a fun and likeable team. Tickets will be more expensive and harder to come by this season, but I am sure glad the season is here.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Would you like to see some New Hero Numbers? 42 and 21

The recent Hall of Fame posts on Roberto Clemente and Jackie Robinson got me to thinking - Are Robinson and Clemente worthy of Hero numbers?

One of the facets of Topps cards that I prefer to Upper Deck is that they have Hero numbers. The numbers were present on the cards I grew up with and I enjoy seeing them on today's cards. Topps has also "retired" the number 7 to be used exclusively for Mickey Mantle.

If a card number can be retired to a specific player for on the field greatness, why not recognize a card number that represents social progress. I propose making card #42, Jackie Robinson's uniform number, a Hero Number. This way it is a living memorial honoring Jackie Robinson and what he represents. This is similar to the way players don uniform number 42 on Jackie Robinson day during the Major League season. Similarly I also think that Robero Clemente's 21 is worthy of the Hero number treatment as an honor to him and the rise of the Latin player.

Each year the cards could be a different player, this would surely generate some free publicity for Topps as the players and their credentials would likely be debated beyond baseball card circles. In the initial years the numbers would go to a Dodger and a Pirate but beyond that I would expand the player pool to all 30 teams. Juan Pierre would be a good pick from the Dodgers for the #42 honor. Perhaps Ian Snell, who represented Puerto Rico in the WBC could be the initial #21 representative.

In a hobby that is short on innovations that are not in reality gimmicks, I think it would be easy to do and would also generate a significant goodwill return for Topps.

It would be more interesting then than having another Corey Hart on card number 42.

2008 topps #42 Corey Hart (Reverse)

What do Phungo Readers think? is this an idea that Topps could run with?

a thousand words

a thousand words
2008 World Champions