Monday, June 30, 2014

National Football Museum Manchester UK

Soccer err Football is all the rage these days and the US has a big outing in the "knockout" stage on Tuesday. Today team Phungo is getting into the spirit by publishing a few photos from a visit we made to the UK National Football Museum located in Manchester.

Click any Photo to enlarge

I don't really follow soccer, and I am not sure if the athletic shoe is the architectural design iinspiration, but to me this looks more like a basketball shoe than a soccer cleat. The museum reminded me of the Rock n Roll HoF in Cleveland with larger lower levels for fixed/permanent exhibits while the smaller upper levels are more apt for rotating exhibits.

The Museum is called the National Football Museum, but it has plenty of international flair. While the history of the game from the British perspective is at the center of the museum's vision, There are several exhibits and items that deal with the World Cup and other international competitions.

The museum is free to visit and has plenty of interactive and pop culture items, thus there is an appeal to novice fans as myself.  

 1959 Style Football Cards

One of the first notable items I saw were Soccer Cards in the style of 1959 Topps. From what I understand it was common practice for the Football cards of the Fall/Winter of a year to use the design of the previous summers Topps Series - I think these cards are from the 1959-1960 season.

Chix Bubble Gum Cards from 1951 and a program from the 2011 Women's World Cup.

Churchman Cigarettes Cards (1930) and  WD & HO Willis Cigarette Card Album (1935-36)

\Original FA Cup 

Actually the original cup was apparently stolen in the 19th century. This matching cup was created to replace the original. This 2nd Original cup was in use from 1896-1910. 

Stanley Matthews Exhibit

Stanley Matthews was one of a handful of players honored with their own exhibit box. In the 1959 cards near the top of this post his card is the leftmost of the center trio.

George Best European Footballer of the Year Trophy (1968) 

Willie Cunningham Knee Ligament

One of the more gruesome exhibits was this one of Willie Cunningham's Knee Ligament. The related text notes that the recover time for Cunning was six months. Today a player that goes through the same surgery would be back on the field in four weeks.

Wallace and Gromit 

 As I mentioned above there were a number of pop culture items in the museum. Team Phungo was delighted to see a Wallace and Gromit item that was from a production we were previously unaware. The Soccermatic is an invention from the Wallace & Gromit Cracking Contraptions Collection. I have been a fan of W&G for a long time. It is great for fans of stop motion animation and clever writing. 

Raquel Welch showing off her Soccer Skills in 1972

The FA
National Football Museum

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sunday Night Baseball: Yogi Berra 1959 Topps #180

The Yankees and Red Sox are featured one again on Sunday Night Baseball this week. Despite the Red Sox being the reigning World Champs, the rivalry just hasn't had as much juice the last couple of years. The Yankees are in the mix, but the BoSox are  currently way off the pace.

1959 Topps #180 Yogi Berra

Tonight we are building up some inventory in our HoF index by adding the quotable catcher. Berra and Johnny Bench are probably the two most written about catchers in the history of the game so I bother trying to add to that canon.

Instead I would like to mention a couple of things Berra related that folks might not know about. First off is that there is a Museum dedicated to Yogi Berra. I have never been there, but it is located in North Jersey just two hours from Philadelphia. If I am ever in the area I would like to try and visit. Card Collectors may be interested in one of their gift shop item - a Card Set representing the different eras of Yankees baseball. The set runs for $5 and contains 25 cards.

Secondly I wanted to mention baseball reporter and Yogi's grand-daughter Lindsay Berra who has a pretty interesting twitter account. Lindsay's unique perspective is enhanced by some terrific vintage photos of Yogi and other players from his era.

For the Collector
About a week ago I was asking Night Owl about cards that are shot from below subject with clouds in the background. He referred to it as the Hero Pose or Hero Shot, which I think I had heard of before but hadn't bothered to process the term.  This one of Yogi is pretty much a prototype. Solid batting stance, slight up angle, great set of clouds on a clear blue sky.

Among recent auctions the low sell was $8.50 for an off condition card. Ten different auctions ended for $12 or under. A PSA 3 VG card went for $22. $25 bumps one up to PSA 4 VG-EX. The card top ended at $1,317 for MINT.

The specimen above was picked up for $9 a while back. It is nice front, corners a bit soft. Unfortunately, the back has some issue - there is paper loss on the back, likely due to being taped to a binder, and somebody wrote $45 faintly on the card edge. 

Other Voices
1959 Topps one f/g card at a time

Phungo Yogi Berra HoF Index
1961 Topps #471 3 Time MVP 1951-54-55, (90th Birthday Posting)
2008 UD Yankee Stadium Legacy #1869 Yogi Berra
2009 Goodwin Champions Black Border Mini Gypsy Queen Back #62 Yogi Berra 

Sources Baseball-ref

Thursday, June 26, 2014

2014 Topps #498 Steve Susdorf

Things have been crazy busy here at Phungo HQ, some good Vacations & travel, some uhh more menial obligations and work ugh.

Somewhere in the last couple of weeks we were able to pick up some 2014 Topps Series 2 cards.

2014 Topps #498 Steve Susdorf

I picked up a hanger box and a single pack. Time permitting we will present some of them here - no major hits, but some fun ones and a couple of Phillies were in the lot.

Steve Susdorf is my odd selection for the first Phils cards from S2 to present here. Susdorf has been in the Phillies system forever. A collegiate player drafted in 2008 he finally made his major league debut last year at the age of 27. He only got into 3 games and unfortunately for him, in his only major league start he dropped and easy fly ball. I am not sure if Susdorf's fielding is that bad,  but if it isn't I hope that single error doesn't prohibit his major league return.

The Phillies season is looking like a loss and they will likely be sellers a month from now. That may open a spot for Susdorf to get onto the team for the last couple of months of the season. While he doesn't really have corner outfielder power, he is career .300 batter in the minors with a respectable .283 average at AAA in 2014.

Despite not being a really notable player, I do like this card. I like the Susdorf is shown in the Phillies road uni. He only played in three games and all 3 of those games were on the road.  Also Now that the RC logo has been around a while, it is kind of nice to see on these cards of players with limited debuts. This may just be hathead but the RC logo is an interesting counterpoint to what appears to be a bit of a receding hairline for the not so young Mr Susdorf.  Regardless the man is in a Major League game and he is smiling.

Ok, that is probably as much as anyone will ever write about a Steve Susdorf baseball card.



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tony Gwynn 1960-2014

I only got to see Tony Gwynn's play twice, and he didn't start either game. He pinch hit in both games and didn't get a hit either time. So I don't really have any great memories of seeing Gwynn play live. The latter of those two games was Gwynn's final game in Philadelphia. When he came to the plate to bat, he got a standing ovation and tipped his cap.

2002 UD World Series Heroes #57 Tony Gwynn

We have already featured the Tony Gwynn Rookie Card here and I have decided to go in a bit of a different direction here. This 2002 UD card is from just after Gwynn's career ended. The Padres franchise dates back to 1969 but they have only been to two World Series 1984 and 1998. The Series' were 14 years apart and Tony Gwynn played in both of them.

Here is a collection of Tony Gwynn Card Tributes, Obits and Memorials:

Padrographs - Great personal story from Rod
Card Buzz - How Gwynn handles autograph signings
Cardboard Icons
Cards that Never Were (1982 Topps Custom)
bdg610 Topps Baseball Card Blog (1983 Topps RC)
30-Year Old Cardboard
Sports Card Info (1982 TCMA Hawaii Islanders #10)
Beckett (1983 OPC RC) 
This Card is Cool 1994 Fleer
All the way to the backstop (2002 Topps)
Lifetime Topps Project (Goodwin Champ Auto)
The Writers Journey (Fleer)
Starting Nine (Various)
Uncle Doc's Card Closet
Jayson Stark on Gwynn's incredible numbers

Phungo Tony Gwynn HoF Index
1983 Topps #482 (rc)


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunday Night Baseball: Nolan Ryan 1977 Topps #650

This week the Baseball Big Show heads to Anaheim to see the Angels host the Rangers in an AL West battle. One of the first names that comes to mind when those two teams are mentioned is Nolan Ryan

1977 Topps #650 Nolan Ryan

We have had a couple of posts here that have casually mentioned Ryan cards but we really haven't dedicated a post to a single one of his cards.

Nolan Ryan is very popular with collectors, fortunately he played for an eon so there are a great many of his cards available. To me Ryan is an Angel, this is despite the fact that he spent more years with Houston, and that he faced the Phillies in a memorable NLCS as a member of the Astros. However the memories of our youth persist and Nolan Ryan was an Angel during my early years. It is also with the then California Angels where the Ryan Express was the most dominant. Seven of his eleven strikeout titles were while he was pitching for the Angels.  Oddly he never took home a Cy Young award - his best finish was 2nd in 1973.

Ryan remained with the Angles through 1979 before leaving for Houston via Free Agency. In 1988 He moved across Texas to pitch for the Rangers. 

Topps issued 10 cards of Nolan Ryan as an Angel the first of which was 1972 Topps #595 (Hi Number). The card back mentions an incredibly dominant game that Ryan had as a member of the Mets at the expense of the Phillies. His final Angels Card is 1980T #580 which features a fine action shot and it's flip mentions Ryan's famous 100.9 mph velocity.

Nolan Ryan's first Topps Ranger card was produced in 1990, he was featured five years through his retirement in 1994. The first five cards of the 1990 Topps honor Nolan Ryan.  Card #1 is his base cards while cards #2-5 are dedicated to the pitcher reaching the 5000 strikeout milestone. Each of the four cards represents a different era and team: Mets, Angels, Astros, and Rangers.

Topps then gave Ryan the honor of the #1 spot each of the next two season. I will need to check, but I think that makes him the only player to get the set debut spot in three consecutive years. In 1993 He is on Hero #700. Finally in 1994 Topps gave Ryan his Uniform Number #34 for his final card. The Card also features a special 27 seasons logo.     

The Nolan Ryan Rookie Card, 1968 Topps #177,  is shared with Jerry Koosman who we profiled last month. The 1969T #533 is the first card which Ryan appears Solo. Both of these cards are with the Mets as well as his memorable 1971 Topps Card #513

1977 Topps
I am not positive of this but I think this card is from the Phungo 1.0 collection. At one time I probably had 80%-90% of the 1977T set. It is easily the set that I bought the most of when I was a kid. Most of those cards are long gone, and I have very few cards from that set today. If I see them at a show I rarely pick them up. 

Sources & Links
Phungo Nolan Ryan HoF Index
Baseball Card Database
Old Cardboard

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Happy Anniversary Jim Bunning 1965 Topps #20

This weekend will mark the 50th anniversary of Jim Bunning's Perfect Game.

1965 Topps #20 Jim Bunning

On Father's Day, Sunday June 21, 1964 the Philllies beat the Mets 6-0 at Shea Stadium. The Future Hall of Famer struck out 10 Mets in the contest finishing out with a pair of K's versus Pinch Hitters George Altman and John Stephenson. It was the first Perfect Game pitched since Don Larsen tossed one in the 1956 World Series and the first NL perfect game pitched since 1880.  

The perfect game was Bunning's second no-hitter. As a Tiger he had no-hit Ted Williams and the Boston Red Sox in 1958.

After his playing career Jim Bunning went on to represent the State of Kentucky in the US Senate. He likely got his taste for politics when as a player he was involved in the development of the players union.

Phun Phact
Jim Bunning appeared on the Ed Sullivan show following his perfect game. 
2014 Heritage
Earlier this year we ran off a bunch of postings related to 2014 Heritage and the related original 1965 Topps. As the second half of this feature I intended to take a closer look at Heritage, but still haven't gotten that started. I will mention here that Heritage likes to give a nod to the earlier set by sharing card numbers with similar players. Jim Bunning's modern day partner on card #20 is Cliff Lee. That is a solid match Cliff Lee is on the shelf right now, but either he or Cole Hamels would have to be considered the team's ace.

Jim Bunning HoF Index 
1964 Topps #265
1970 Topps #403
2010 Phungo BFI (with Robin Roberts)
1964 Philies Series 
1964 Topps #135 Johnny Callison  

Other Voices
The Great 1965 Topps Project

The Year of the Blue Snow
Baseball Hall of Fame

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Johnny Damon Number Retirement by Wilmington Blue Rocks and Class A All-Star Game

On Tuesday Night as Part of the California vs Carolina League All-Star game the Wilmington Blue Rocks retired the jersey #18 of Johnny Damon
Johnny Damon

I have been a Damon fan for a variety of reasons. He was an exciting palyer who racked up a lot of hits, ran well and had some pop. He made it to the playoffs with the A's Red Sox and Yankees winning the World Series with the latter two squads. One of the other reasons I like Damon is we share an ethnicity. He and I both have a Thai Mother and American father. it is a unique combination that was precipitated by each of our fathers being stationed in Thailand during the Viet Nam War.

Jonny Damon has honored his heritage by returning to Thailand to promote baseball and represented the country as a player during the 2013 World Baseball Calssic.

In a nice touch to the retirement ceremony, Damon and the Blue Rocks brought back Damon's House Mother from his Wilmington tenure. She is shown in the background of the above photo along with another popular Blue Rocks alum Mike Sweeney.

All-Star Game

There was also a game played last night - The Carolina League All-Stars hosted their Califormia League counterparts. Both Leagues are at a level that is referred to as High Class A. It was a good opportunity for us East Coasters to see some prospects that play for Western Division organizations.

Tha Cal League won the game 3-2 with two Cincinnati Reds prospects leading the way.

Kyle Waldrop

All Three of California's Runs were plated by Kyle Waldrop who hit a Long 2 Run HR to center in addtion to an RBI single.

Ben Lively

The Reds #9 Prospect Ben Lively stuck out 2 of the first 3 batters he faced while pitching a pair of perfect innings for the victors. I would think that Lively has greatly icreased his Prospect status this season posting a 10-1 record and 2.28 ERA including a solid 95-16 K/BB ratio. Both Lively and Waldrop were promoted to AA Pensacola following the game.

Line Ups

A couple of noteables in there. Courtney Hawkins is the White Sox prospect that did a backflip on the podium at the 2012 Draft. Last year Team Phungo ran down to Wilmington to give Hawkins the Eye Test. He failed miserably, I am happy to report Hawkins is having a much better 2014 and appears to be a lot more patient at the plate. Kyle Wren is the son of Braves GM Frank Wren. Corey Seager is making some noise in the Dodgers Org, batting .340 with 12 Homers this season. Gabriel Guerrero is the nephew of Vlad and appears to have a similar build and batting stance. He his playing well for Seattles Hi Desert squad.

Carlos Correa

2013 1st overall pick Carlos Correa didn't get to start but did sub into the game. He went 0-2 with a K in his first AB. Still 19 Correa has displayed good hitting ability at the Hi-A level well represented by his .329/.421/.502 slash line. He was as big as any player on the field for the game and it will be interesting to see if he remains at shortstop or moves to another position as he continues to fill out.

Johnny Damon Index
Baseball America

Thursday, June 12, 2014

On The Road: 2014 12+ Waikiki/Oahu

-Waikiki Beach under a full moon.
-Pearl Harbor
-Beach Hopping
-Royal Hawaiian
-Koko Head Café
-Urban Genius

-Consignment Shop
-Salad Place
-Waikiki Festivals
-Coconuts Botique hotel
-ABC store after a few drinks

-ABC store sober

-Uncle Bo’s FJM

Sunday, June 8, 2014

On The Road: 2014 06 08+ Kauai

More Sunsets and Rainbows

-Beach Hopping
-Tahiti Nui
-St Regis for Sunsets

-Hanalei Coffee Roasters

-Flavored Macadamias
-Bubbas Burgers
-Pats Taco Truck


Thursday, June 5, 2014

On The Road: 2014 06 05+ Maui

This is mainly just a place holder right now but wanted to throw down some notes before I forget everything. Hopefully I will return here and fill in some details in the future.

Maui Brewing Tour/Maui Brewing
Star Noodle
Dragon’s Teeth
Cafe Des Amis in Paia 
Sunsets and Rainbows


Crazy Shirts in Lahaina
Banyan Tree Park
Buddha Park
PaiaMana Foods Paia
Flatbread Pizza Paia
Surfing Goat
Lavender Farm
Ritz Carlton Pool(s)


Avoid Eating at the Terrace in the Ritz Carlton

Monday, June 2, 2014

1964 Phillies @ 50: Alex Johnson 1966 Topps #104

A few weeks ago we put together a couple of postings featuring Dick Groat. Today as part of our 1964 Phillies series we are taking a look at one of the players sent to the Cardinals when Groat came over to the Phillies.

1966 Topps #104 Alex Johnson

As a rooking 21 year old Alex Johnson played 43 games for the 1964 Phillies. He Debuted on July 25th as the fightins’ starting left fielder. Johnson went 3 for 4 that day foreshadowing the fine season he would have. He batted .303 with 4 homers in 109 ABs – good enough for an OPS+ of 135.

Alex Johnson remained with the Phillies through 1965 before being traded following the season. Once again he batted well hitting .294 with modest power (8 HR, 20 XBH, 120 OPS+, 1.0 WAR). 

Following his stint with the Phillies Johnson spent the rest of his career as a journeyman outfielder. His best year was with the Angels in 1970, he made his only all-star team and led the AL in hitting.

Johnson was an enigmatic player with a quick bat. His batting average always hung around .300 and he could put up Home Run numbers in the teens. But he appears to have had little or no interest in being a baseball player.  

His talent kept him in the majors for 13 years. However, it was with eight different clubs, never lasting more than 2 seasons with any single team. According to his SABR biography by Mark Armour there are numerous accounts of him being benched for various reasons. Johnson appears to have been a contrarian only hustling when he pleased, alienating both teammates and coaches.  

Johnson's on field issues may have only hinted at greater problems for the ballplayer.  

During the 1971 season Johnson found himself on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Unfortunately it was for all the wrong reasons. There was a series of incidents that led to Johnson suspension by the Angels.

Marvin Miller and the players union filed a grievance which was won by Johnson. He was found to be emotionally disabled. Miller successfully argued that Johnson should have been place on the DL rather than suspended. 

Afterwards Johnson was traded to the Indians, he hung on with various teams including his hometown Tigers who gave him his final release at age 34. 

A 1998 SI article by Jeff Pearlman found Alex Johnson was running a truck repair company  business that was started by his father. Johnson remained bitter about his time in baseball, but was happy to continue the family business.  

1966 Topps
No you are not experiencing double vision, I have not double posted the Alex Johnnson card above. They are actually two different cards. Topps now routinely produces variations across several of it's products, but back in 1966 it was either to correct an error or to add a piece of updated information.  

1966 Topps #104 Alex Johnson (b-sides)

Looking closely at the bottom of the flip of each card one can see that there is an extra line on the bottom of the card in the fore. The addendum mentions the trade of Johnson to the Cardinals. The card also has moved the Topps Chewing Gum (T.C.G) copyright. The card without the trade is somewhat more rare than the traded variation.  Late last year I picked up the scarcer no-trade version via auction for $5.48 - close to half that cost was shipping. 

The 1966 Topps Dick Groat (one of many players involved in the Alex Johnson trade) has the same variations and resides right next door to Alex Johson in the Binder at #103. 

For more information on Alex Johnson and this card consult Jim from Downingtown's 1966 Topps Blog 

1964 Philies Series
Dick Allen (65 Topps)

Dick Allen John Hernstein RC (64 Topps) 
Dennis Bennett
Johnny Callison
Tony Gonzalez

Alex Johnson
John Herrnstein (65 Topps)
Chris Short
Tony Taylor
Frank Thomas  

Bobby Wine 

The Year of the Blue Snow: The 1964 Phillies
Sports Illustrated - Jeff Pearlman 
LA Times - Chris Foster
Bob Lemke's Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards   

Sunday, June 1, 2014

1964 Phillies @ 50

This is an index of postings related to the Phillies infamous 1964 Phillies team that led the National League most of the season only to collapse in the final few weeks. 

1964 Topps #135 Johnny Callison
Most of these posts were written during 2014 thus the feature title. I am sure we will add some postings in the future but the foundation is all 2014. 

1964 Philies Series
Dick Allen (65 Topps) 

Dick Allen John Hernstein RC (64 Topps)   
Ruben Amaro
Dennis Bennett (64 Topps)
Jim Bunning Perfect Game  (65 Topps)
Johnny Callison  (64 Topps)

Johnny Callison ASG Home Run (1967 Topps)
Johnny Callison 1964 ASG (1983 Topps Dale Murphy)
Clay Dalrymple (1963 Fleer)
Pat Corrales (1965 Topps RC)
Wes Covington
Ray Culp
Ryne Duren
Tony Gonzalez (61 Topps)

Dallas Green (62 Topps)
Alex Johnson (66 Topps, 66T w/ Trade Statement)
John Herrnstein (65 Topps)

Art Mahaffey (1960 Topps Rookie Star) 
Gene Mauch
Cookie Rojas (first ASG in Minnesota - 1965)
Bobby Shantz
Costen Shockley (1965 Topps Rookie Stars) 

Roy Sievers (1964 Topps)
Chris Short (1967 Topps)
Tony Taylor (1976 Topps)
Frank Thomas (1965 Topps) 

Bobby Wine  (1963 Topps)
Rick Wise (1972 Topps In Action)

Sunday Night Baseball: Dodger Stadium Visit

The Dodgers hosting the Pirates on Sunday Night Baseball has given us the perfect opportunity to feature a recent Team Phungo trip visit to Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers were out of town while we were in LA, but they do offer stadium tours on off days. I had never been on a Stadium tour before and Lady Phungo was busy with a conference so I decided to venture out from our fine hotel in near Manhattan Beach, drive across LA and check out Chavez Ravine.

2014 05 20 Dodger Stadium

The tour opens at the top of Dodger Stadium. Due to the unique terrain of Chavez Ravine you literally drive right to the level you plan on entering. It makes for a really cool first look at the field. 

Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory

The tour cost $20 which I thought was well worth it, even without getting to see a game.  One reason is the great views that one is presented from Dodger Stadium.

In close proximity to LA there are mountains everywhere. If you can't see the Hills then you are atop of some landmark which affords a view of the canyons or beaches. The Hollywood sign above is easily viewed from the Left Field Concourse

Retired Number Plaza 

Just outside the upper level the Dodgers have a Retired Number that I believe is relatively new. Each Number is about a foot deep and contains a brief player bio on the side. The right side is in English while the left is in Spanish. Jackie Robinson's 42 is the number nearest the entrance. I am not sure why the numbers are Red on the front rather than Dodger Blue. The reverse side is Blue, but one needs to reverse the image to view those correctly 

Entrance Vin Scully Press Box

The tour takes you to many unique places including a trip through the Vin Scully Press Box. 

Dodgers Retired Numbers

This is the Retired Numbers as viewed from the Press Box

World Series Trophies

I learned something on the tour, prior to 1967 there was no World Series Trophy. It was left  up to each team to decide how to honor their club. The Dodgers created Baseball Bats with the signature of each player - well sort of, the signatures are only engraved for the players actually signed for the ensuing season. Unsigned players had their names stamped in font form.

The Trophy to the left is from the Dodgers last World Series triumph in 1988. The stand on the left is for the 1981 trophy which was out for polishing. That was just fine with Team Phungo as 1981 is the split season that hurt what was a pretty good Philies team. 

In the window reflection you can see the many Dodger Gold Gloves that are beautifully presented on the opposite side of the room. 

Rookie of the Year Awards 

I am a little confused on this one. The five plaques at the bottom are for the five recent Dodgers RoY winners which are all referred to as the Jackie Robinson Award. I am good with that.

The 11 awards on top are also Rookie of the Year awards but this is where it gets odd. They are referred to as the Ford C Frick Rookie of the Year award. I couldn't find any on-line documentation of the awards name prior to 1987 when it became the Jackie Robinson Award. According to Wikipedia the Award was once named for J Louis Comiskey but there is no mention of Frick. The Dodgers awards all specify National League, possibly the NL award was named for Frick, while the AL was named for Comisky. If anyone has further info, I am certainly curios.   

Dodger Stadium from Field Level

The tour concludes by taking you to field level and into the Dodger dugout.

a thousand words

a thousand words
2008 World Champions