Sunday, December 21, 2014

Steve Carlton Turns 70

Tomorrow December 22nd  Phillies Hall of Fame Pitcher Steve Carlton turns 70.

1981 Donruss  #481 Steve Carlton Cy Young Award Winner 

There was a twitter exchange last week where Andy from @HighHeatStats noted this will make a lot of us feel old.

Andy is correct. As a hero of my youth Steve Carlton remains perpetually 35, the age he was the night he started and won game 6 of the 1980 World Series.

1981 Topps #404 Phillies Win the World Series

That season Carlton won the Cy Young Award, leading the league in Wins (24), Strikeouts (286), Starts, and Innings. His 10.2 WAR led all players, not just pitchers - Teammate Mike Schmidt took home the 1980 MVP award with a respectable 8.8 WAR. Carlton's 2.34 ERA in 1980 was 2nd to Don Suttom (2.20) but his SABR numbers ERA+ (162) and FIP (2.42) led the league

Of course the calendar inevitably turns and Steve Carlton did not stay perpetually 35. He did pitch pretty well for another couple of seasons (Another Cy Young in 1982) but eventually age and 24 years of fastballs took their toll. In 1988 Carlton retired at the age of 43.

1981 Donruss
Since the above Steve Carlton card was published in 1981 it is likely the photo was taken 35 years ago during his magical age 35 season. A man in the middle of a Cy Young season on the edge of winning a World Championship. 

1981 is the inaugural set for Donruss. The 600 card checker consists strictly of players with a couple of Manager and Coach cards. There are no subsets cards with the exception of four special cards for the MVPs (George Brett and the Phillies Mike Schmidt) and Cy Young (Steve Stone and Carlton)

I remember opening these in 1980. I enjoyed the card being new and different. I thought the backs had a fresh and interesting approach, but they also seemed cheap. They were thinner and if I recall correctly they had a lot of card dust from the cutting process.

Sources & Links
Phungo Steve Carlton HoF Index 
Cardboard Connection
Bob Lemke's Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards    

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Al Kaline 80th Birthday

On Friday December 19th Al Kaline will celebrate his milestone 80th Birthday.

1959 Topps #463 Baseball Thrills Al Kaline 

60 years ago on this date Al Kaline turned 20, the following year he would pace the American League with 200 hits and a .340 batting average. The above 1959T card celebrates Kaline's batting title.  Kaline finished 2nd in the MVP voting that season, the award went to Yankee catcher Yogi Berra.

We have already featured this card in July of 2013, but I wanted to put up a fun card for Kaline's birthday, additionally this is one of the 1959 Topps BT cards that we have yet to cover in our subset series.

1959 Topps #463 Baseball Thrills Al Kaline (b-side)

The flip side of the card goes into some more detail on the first few seasons of Kaline's Hall of Fame career. 

In 1955 Al Kaline was the youngest Batting Champ and I believe he remains the player with that distinction today almost 60 years later. That season he collected 200 of his 3007 hits.

The 15 time all star played his entire 22 year career with the Tigers, Winning a World Series Title in 1968. His career 92.5 WAR ranks 7th all time among Right Fielders.

Happy 80th birthday to one of the all-time greats

1959 Topps
This card is examined in more detail over at the Commish Bob's Site 1959 Topps one f/g card at a time

Al Kaline HoF Index
1954 Topps #201 (rc)
1959 Topps #463 (RTC posting from 2013 July)
1965 Topps Embossed #13
2008 Donruss Threads #23
Kaline's SABR bio can be found here

Sources and Links
1959 Topps Baseball Thrills
Phungo HoF Index

Monday, December 15, 2014

LIVE: Gary Gulman @ Bowery Ballroom 2014 12 13

We saw Gary Gulman at the Comedy Cellar a few years ago. His short-form set that night was marred by someone talking during the performance. Gulman had to admonish the patron - It was the right thing to do but the incident burned my focus for a good portion of his set.

Gary Gulman at the Bowery Ballroom 2014 12 13

Despite being disappointed with our initial encounter with the comedian, this past weekend we gave him a second shot. Friends we were staying with in NYC were going to the show based off their enjoyment of Gulman's recent NetFlix release.

I am happy to report that on Saturday Night at the Bowery Ballroom Gulman gave a solid performance. It was the final show on his fall tour in front of his home crowd. For me the show was good, but lagged a tad in the 2nd half - perhaps it was I that dragged. Consuming a half dozen drinks in various haunts across Manhattan can do that.

Gulman opened by mining his Massachusettes roots discussing Patriots fans and their love of Tom Brady. Warming up a New York audience by picking on the team that the Giants faced in two Superbowls is a good move. His sports related intro segued into his own experiences on the playground. Gulman who is of Jewish Heritage deftly discussed the athletic ability of his counterparts growing up. He is mystified by the protective instincts of elders who deemed protective backboards necessary - "There are four people in history who have broken backboards, not one of them was a 10 year old Jewish Boy"

Other routines during his set included themes Gulman returns to frequently and hits well - Trader Joe's and our generation dissatisfaction with modern conveniences. Gulman revealed he gets back at rude Trader Joe's patrons by slipping something out of their bags that he thinks will be critical to their spouse. His hit on the complaining set was those with a a distaste for airports - It is basically a Mall, There are worse ways to spend an afternoon.

Gulman defied convention by not making the audience coerce the standard encore - simply announcing he would do two popular bits based off of prior response via social media. His chosen hits on Saturday night were the grapefruit routine and his Sugar Cookie rant - "A cookie without sugar is a cracker"

Random Notes 
- Joe List opened/introduced the night and did a nice 15 minutes set covering dating and nerdisms. He was then followed by a 2nd comedian who was quite forgettable.

- The Bowery Ballroom is very nice theater with decent drink selection and standard markups. Staff was friendly and efficient. My one issue was the show was advertised at 10:30 show with 10pm doors. Doors didn't open till close to 10:30 and I am pretty sure that the opener didn't hit the stage until 11:30.

- Gary Gulman was noted on the December 12 edition NPR's Hear and Now in their On Stage segment. Click Here, Scroll down to On Stage: Comedians Under the Radar

Sources & Links
Phungo On the Road - NYC 2014 12 13

On The Road: 2014 1213 NYC

Gary Gulman at Bowery Ballroom
10 Bells
Beer Culture
Nonna's Pizza at 2AM
NJ Transit - NJT got the Disappointing rating in our August Trip, much better this time.
Malt & Mold - Tiny LES Beer/Cheese shop. Small but interesting Selection of Local and US Craft Beers

Eastwood - Cool Room/vibe, good beer. Food ok - trying but a bit hit/miss 
Drunk Santas

Cheap Rental in the Lower East Side - $85/night room great rate, but you may not want to stay there too long

Getting to that Tree @ Rockcenter - crazy fun adventure though

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sy Berger 1923-2014

Earlier today we got the news that Sy Berger has died at the age of 91. 

2004 Topps Archives Fan Favorites #137 Sy Berger

To many Sy Berger is considered the father of the modern day baseball card. He came to Topps in 1952 and designed the companies famous 1952 Set. In 2004 the company honored Berger with the above Topps Archives card which is in the 1952 design that he created.

I collect lots of different cards and brands, but Topps was always my first card and I return to it in this blog often. Thanks to Sy Berger for creating and promoting a simple item and hobby that I can enjoy.

2004 Topps Archives Fan Favorites #137 Sy Berger (b-side)

The flip side of the Sy Berger card gives some of the background regarding the 1952 Topps set and Berger's contributions to the hobby.

Card Tributes
Night Owl Cards
Base Set Collecting - Nice Collection of links to other tributes and obituaries
Cardboard Connection
A Cardboard Problem
Dime Boxes
The Topps Archives
Sports Card Info 
Yadier Molina Baseball Cards
1978 the Year it all Began
bdg610s Topps Baseball Card blog
All About Cards (includes embed of Olbermann tribute)

Sports Collector Digest Profile from September 2014

NY Times Obit
ESPNs Sy Berger profile


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Box Break 2014 Topps US Olympic & Paralympic

I picked up a variety of items as part of the Dave and Adams Cyber Monday promo. I am leading off with a look at a non-baseball Hobby Box.

I watched a good bit of the 2014 Olympics coverage. In addition to the competition, I was also interested in the events because of the venue. Mrs Phungo has been to Russia a number of times. One of her trips there took her to Sochi, site of the 2014 Olympics.

When I saw Topps would be producing an Olympic set, I figured I would look into a set when the price was right.  That time came on Cyber Momday.

Box Break
2014 Topps US Olympics #84 Katie Uhlaender

For our base card we take a look at the #84 card of Kaite Uhlaender who we discussed back in February.  Uhlaender just missed getting a Medal, finishing 4th in the Skeleton.

The cards are nice looking, There is a flag behind ice motif going on, rather than a frame the bottom of the card is separated by a mountain range which serves as a backdrop for text of the athletes name and event. The US Olympic logo appears in the bottom right.

The picture themselves vary mostly casual pix like the one of Uhlaender above, but there are also action and head shots. 

2014 Topps US Olympics #48 LoLo Jones

Prior to the 2014 Olympics we knew Lolo Jones as a Hurdler in the Summer Olympics. This year we were re-introduced to her in the Bobsled event. Her card above is a silver parallel - this is signified by a "Medal" in the lower right. I have paired Jones' card with it's b-side which contains a few biographical tid bits. In a nice bit of continuity the design on the b-sde echoes the mountains from the bottome of the a-side.

2014 Topps US Olympics #85 Danelle Umstead

Paralympians are also featured in the 2014 Topps Olypic set. The visually impaired Danelle Umstead won a Bronze medal at the 2014 Paralympic Winter games. According to her Team USA bio Umstead's Guide since 2008 has been her husband Rob. The Topps card doesn't specify if the man featured in the above photo is Rob.

2014 Topps US Olympics #85 Lindsey Vonn 

For our example of a bronze card we present an Olympian most sports fans are familiar with, Lindsey Vonn. Vonn failed to Medal this year but did take home a Gold in 2010.

2014 Topps US Olympics #3 Eddy Alvarez

Eduardo Alvarez is another athlete we features in February. After the Olympics concluded Alvarez followed in his brothers footsteps and returned to playing baseball. Eddy put together an impressive debut batting .346 with 5 homers across 2 levels in the low minors. Alvarez is in the White Sox organization and will be an interesting prospect to follow in the next couple of seasons. 

2014 Topps US Olympic Relic #OR-DW David Wise

I got a picked up a bit of a David Wise hot-pack. The Box Relic was a Wise as was one of the four Gold Medal Cards. The Medal Card is appropriate as Wise took home the 2014 Gold in the Half-Pipe.

The Vaguey Lawyerese on the back of the relic is as follows: 
The Manupatch
2014 Topps US Olympic Sochi Patch Free-Skiing Patrick Deneen

It's a manupatch but I like it. The pix featurs Patrick Deneen doing a flip, which through me off a bit. I thought Topps had put the swatch in upside down. Took me a second, but I figured out the orientation eventually.

The Hit
2014 Topps US Olympics #68 Noelle Pikus-Pace

Oops buried this a bit. Each Box contains one auto "on average". We had the good fortune to pick up an auto of Noelle Pikus-Pace.

Yeah I didn't know her either. She took home the Silver in the 2014 Skeleton. This is the same event in which Katie Uhlaender at the top of our post just missed medalling.

There were a few other insert cards, but I have elected to not present them here.

The Vitals

1 Hobby Box of 2014 US Olympic and Paralympic Team and Hopeful Trading Cards $24

Complete 100 card base set
24 Bronze Parallels
8 Silver
4 Gold - All parallels fell at expected odds.

3 Games of the XXII Olympiad (Bobsled - Steven Holcomb, Skeleton - John Daly, Ski Jumping -Lindsey Van)
2 2014 Olympic Game Venues (Sanki, Rosa Khutor)
1 Olympic Heritage (1980 - Lake Placid)

1 Autograph Noelle Pikus-Price (Skeleton)
1 Athlete-Worn Memorabilia - David Wise (Freeskiing)
1 Offiicial Commemorative Patch - Patrick Deneen (Freestyle Skiing)

35 Duplicates

190 cards total

Sources & Links
Cardboard Connection
Sports Ref
Team USA

Monday, December 8, 2014

Philly Show 2014 12 06: 1974 Topps #283 Mike Schmidt

This is a card I picked up at the Philly Show on December 6th. It went for $4.

1974 Topps #283 Mike Schmidt

I have balked at picking up this card a few times, because I am fairly sure it was part of my childhood collection. On Saturday I finally broke down and brought the card back into the fold.

The card is noteworthy and should be in the hands of any good Phillies collector. It is the first solo Topps card of the Hall of Famer. The previous Mike Schmidt Card is a shared Rookie card which we featured a few months ago.

In addition to all this Hall of Fame goodness, the card has one other fun detail in the photo


One of the great relics of 70s baseball. PHUNGO CHALLENGE - find other cards with Bullpen cars. This may be the only HoF card that features a Bullpen Car.

There is a bit of a mystery in this card though. At first I assumed by the colors that it was a Phillies Bullpen car. But Schmidt is wearing the Phillies powder blue road unis of the era, which leads us to this being an away game. Perhaps the Phils were at the Reds or Cardinals.

It also looks like a spring training or minor league facility. Did either the Reds or Cards host spring training in Florida during the 70s?
And finally, did they have Bullpen cars in the minors, or at spring training? seems odd.

sources & Links
Mike Schmidt HoF Index 
2014 12 06 Valley Forge Card Show Swag Index

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Philly Show 2014 12 06 - Vintage Phillies

This weekend Team Phungo was at the Valley Forge show for 4 hours os so and picked up a bunch of vintage cards. I concentrated on my Phillies 50s and 60s Topps checkers and Card of Hall of Famers from the same era. There was an additional focus on 1966 Topps in preparation for the release of 2015 Heritage in just a couple of months.

1966 Topps Bobby Wine
1966 Topps John Boozer

Who would have thought I would pick up Wine and Boozer cards from the same 50 year old set on the same day. I could also toss out a quip regarding having a Wine Boozer combo on the 1964 Phils may have led to their collapse.

Joking aside, I was very happy to pick up the above cards. The pair which went for 50 cents each closed out the lower & Mid Series cards for my 1966T Phillies team set. Still have 3 cards remaining from the scarce high series.

At least part of the reason 1966T gets dismissed is it arrived on the heals of the popular 1965 Topps set. The upcoming Heritage set may give us a chance to reconsider the orignal set. The two cards above illustrate one of the nice aspects of 1966 Topps. The photographs on the cards come from a variety of angles and often feature faux-action. In my opinion the tedium of repeated head shots throughout recent Heritage sets has heard the set.

We will be taking a look the originals set over the coming weeks and I am sure I will return to that point often.

More Set Closing
1958 Topps Granny Hamner

This was the last card I needed for 1958 Topps, I also picked up the 1960 Topps Bobby Del Greco card to close that set.  Each card was $1.50 although the above Hamner was tossed in for free when I bought twenty 1954T Commons.

The two cards also give team Phungo a run of completed Phillies Team Sets that run for 1958-60 - oddly my longest run among vintage sets.

Other Highlights 

1966 Topps Chisox Clubbers

I am just going to post pix of some other cards now. Time permitting I will return to discuss these cards at some point in the future. Right now I just wanted to post a cross section of the pickups and also give some pricing details which may interest other collectors. The Clubbers card went for 50 cents. Picked up this card as part of our 2015 Heritage research.   

1959 Topps #23 Murry Dickson

$2. Down to 2 more cards to complete the entire 1959 Topps Set! 

1939 Diamond Stars Van Mungo

$14. I think this was the priciest pick up  of the day. Trying to pick up a Diamond Stars card at each big show I attend. This is a pretty sharp looking one. 

 1961 Topps #478 Roger Maris 1960 AL MVP

$8. This is a subset I have been working on. Pretty happy to pull this one in for $8

 1952 Topps George Kell

$10. 1952T of a Hall of Famer.

1934 Goudey Woody English

1934 is my favorite Goudey set. 

 1961 Topps World Series Highlight

$2. Picked this one up just for the hat.

 1960 Topps Hank Aaron All-Star

$10. A subset that I am contemplating building.

1962 Topps Willie Mays All-Star

 $10. Yet another All-Star Subber I am considering building 

a thousand words

a thousand words
2008 World Champions