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1933 Goudey Baseball Cards PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 25 July 2014 00:00
For baseball card collectors of any age, the idea of no new cards being produced for 20 years in almost unfathomable. After all, Bowman started producing cards in 1948 while Topps entered the market in 1952 and is still the collectible of choice. Many others joined the fray in the 80's and 90's and it could be reasonably argued that too many cards were produced in that era. However, as we look back on the history of the hobby, it becomes clear that such a gap did exist in the early 20th century.

In the early 1900's, baseball cards were almost always produced as premium items that accompanied tobacco in one form or another. In fact, the famous Honus Wagner card from the T-206 set of 1910 holds its scarcity from Wagner's rumored dislike of tobacco and his threat of legal action that caused his card to have a limited run. The final full set of baseball cards during this time was the 176-card Cracker Jack set from 1915 and it was almost two decades before baseball card collecting made a colorful comeback.

In 1933, the Goudey Gum Company of Boston decided to produce a 240-card set that would include all the major stars of the period. They had beautiful colors and amazing artwork, including both portrait and action shots. And the good news for today's modern collector is that the cards from this set can still be found in the marketplace. Of course, the cost will vary greatly based on condition, but you can still add baseball's legendary names to your own collection.

To put the timing of the '33 Goudeys in perspective, the country was in the throes of a terrible economic depression, FDR had just been inaugurated, Hitler was the new Chancellor of Germany and prohibition was ending. Into this setting, Enos Gordon Goudey decided that pictures of ballplayers as premiums would help increase the sales of his gum products.

As we review the cards in this historic offering, the values will be based on a card in "Excellent" (EX 5) condition.

#19 Bill Dickey, Yankees Catcher ($375) - At age 26, he was already established as the All-Star backstop of the New Yorkers dynasty.

#20 Bill Terry, Giants 1B ($285) - Coming off one of his best seasons where he hit .350 with 28 homers and 117 RBI. In 1930, he had 254 hits and batted .401.

#29 Jimmie Foxx, Athletics 1B ($700) - "Double X" won his second consecutive MVP in '33 by hitting .356 with 48 homers and 163 RBI.

#49 Frank Frisch, Cardinals 2B ($285) - "The Fordham Flash" took over as player-manager in the second half of the season and led the Redbirds to the World Series championship in '34.

#53 Babe Ruth, Yankees OF ($6,250) - "The Sultan of Swat" had four cards in the set, which was the most of any player. Numbers 144, 149 and 181 have values ranging from $4,000 to $5,000.

#92 Lou Gehrig, Yankees 1B ($1,950) - "The Iron Horse" was in his prime and had two cards in the set...#160 is similarly valued.

#119 Rogers Hornsby, Cardinals 2B ($325) - The legendary "Rajah" was in the twilight of his Hall of Fame career at age 37 but still hit .326 as a part-time player.

#127 Mel Ott, Giants 1B ($375) - Came to the Majors in 1926 at age 17 and was coming off a '32 campaign where he led the NL with 38 home runs.

#158 Moe Berg, Senators Catcher (195) - One of the great "back-stories" in the history of the game, he hit only .185 as a back-up in '33, but the following year he was part of a barnstorming all-star team that traveled to Japan. During the visit, Berg (who may have been the most intellectual player of his time, having been educated at Princeton and Columbia) took photographs and home movies of the Tokyo landscape which were later used by General Doolittle's bombers in 1942. When his playing career ended in 1939, Moe drifted underground and became a spy for the OSS (predecessor of the CIA) in Europe during World War II. His exploits are captured in a 1994 biography titled "The Catcher Was A Spy."

#211 Hack Wilson, Dodgers OF ($450) - This diminutive (5' 6") slugger still holds the all-time record for RBI in a season with 191 for the Cubs in 1930.

#216 Vernon Gomez, Yankees Pitcher ($400) - "Lefty" won 87 games for the Bombers from 1931-1934.

#220 Lefty Grove, Athletics Pitcher ($575) - A 300-game winner in his 17-year career, he went 24-8 with 21 complete games in '33.

#222 Charley Gehringer, Tigers 2B ($450) - Right in the middle of his 19-year career with the Bengals at age 30, he had over 200 hits in seven different seasons including 1933.

#223 Dizzy Dean, Cardinals Pitcher ($775) - One of the most colorful characters of the game, he had a short but memorable career. In '33, he started 34 games and completed 26 of them. In addition, "Diz" also appeared 14 times in relief and had a 20-18 record while leading the NL in strikeouts.

#230 Carl Hubbell, Giants Pitcher ($475) - The master of the knuckleball, "King Carl" won the NL MVP with a record of 23-12 and a league-leading ERA of 1.66.

Other Hall of Fame members in the set include Pie Traynor, Ki-Ki Cuyler, Paul Waner, Al Simmons, Eddie Collins, Joe Cronin, Mickey Cochrane, Tris SpeakerLeo Durocher, Arky Vaughan and others. For boys of a certain generation, many of these names are familiar from the player discs of the All-Star Baseball board game.

Hope you enjoyed our nostalgic visit back to one of the great baseball sets in history.

Last Updated on Saturday, 26 July 2014 14:23
 
All-Star Flashback PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 18 July 2014 00:00
For baseball fans of the Baby Boomer generation, this week's All-Star game brought back a flood of memories. Back in the day, the mid-season classic was a must-watch event for youngsters because they had the opportunity to see many baseball heroes for the first time. You might have read about them in newspapers or magazines, but with only an occasional game on TV and no interleague play, here were the stars of the game up close. So, let's set the baseball time machine for July 13th, 1954 and see what the teams looked like in front of 69,751 fans at Cleveland Stadium.

NL Starting Lineup

1) Granny Hamner, Phillies 2B - At age 27, this was his third consecutive All-Star appearance.

2) Al Dark, Giants SS - He played all 154 games for the pennant-winning New Yorkers and hit 20 homers.

3) Duke Snider, Dodgers CF - Contributed three hits and a walk in the game. 1954 was his second of five straight 40 HR seasons.

4) Stan Musial, Cardinals RF - A perennial All-Star, "Stan The Man" had a season where he hit .330 with 35 home runs and 126 RBI.

5) Ted Kluszewski, Reds 1B - "Klu" hit a home run off Bob Porterfield of the Senators in the 5th inning and led the NL with 49 round-trippers during the season.

6) Ray Jablonski, Cardinals 3B - Had 112 RBI as a rookie in '53 and 104 in '54, but was traded to the Reds before the '55 season and never had another productive year.

7) Jackie Robinson, Dodgers LF - Had two RBI in the game, but this was his final All-Star appearance.

8) Roy Campanella, Dodgers C - '54 was "Campy's" worst season, but he rebounded to with the NL MVP in '55.

9) Robin Roberts, Phillies P - The workhorse ace of the Phils staff, he led the NL in Wins (23), Complete Games (29), Innings Pitched (336+), Strikeouts (185), ERA (3.19) and WHIP (1.025). How much would that be worth on your fantasy team?

AL Starting Lineup

1) Minnie Minoso, White Sox LF - The "Cuban Comet" led the AL with 18 Triples during the season.

2) Bobby Avila, Indians 2B - Jump-started the Tribe's magical season by leading the AL with a .341 Batting Average.

3) Mickey Mantle, Yankees CF - This was the third of 16 All-Star appearances and '54 was the first season he topped 100 RBI.

4) Yogi Berra, Yankees C - His 125 RBI in '54 was the highest total of his career and helped him capture the AL MVP.

5) Al Rosen, Indians 3B - "Flip" had 100+ RBI for the fifth consecutive season.

6) Ray Boone, Tigers 3B - Had 20+ HR for five consecutive campaigns in the mid-50's.

7) Hank Bauer, Yankees RF - Another solid contributor to the Yankees dynasty, this was the his third straight All-Star selection.

8) Chico Carrasquel, White Sox SS - Played every game for the Pale Hose and led the AL with 718 plate appearances.

9) Whitey Ford, Yankees P - The Bronx Bombers' ace for over a decade, his lifetime winning percentage was .690.

Game Notes

> The American League won the game 11-9 with three runs in the bottom of the 8th inning. Al Rosen hit two home runs and had five RBI.

> Both Ray Boone and Gus Bell hit home runs. Ironically, each of these players ended up being the patriarch of three-generation MLB families. Boone was the father of Bob Boone as well as the grandfather of Aaron and Bret. Bell was the father of Buddy Bell and grandfather of David and Mike.

> Larry Doby, the first AL player to break the color barrier, hit a pinch-hit home run.

> Ted Williams missed almost all of the previous two seasons serving in the Korean War, but he did appear as a pinch-hitter late in the game.

> Willie Mays missed the '53 season due to military service and even though he won the MVP in '54, he was a reserve on this roster, replacing Snider later in the game.

> Other future Hall-of-Famers on the bench included Red Schoendienst, Pee Wee Reese, Nellie Fox and George Kell. In the bullpen, you could find Warren Spahn and Bob Lemon.

> Casey Stengel managed the AL team while Walter Alston was the skipper of the NL squad.

> Dean Stone of the Senators was the winning pitcher in his only All-Star appearance and Virgil "Fire" Trucks of the White Sox secured the save.

> Rookie Gene Conley of the Braves was the losing pitcher. At 6' 8", he also played six seasons in the NBA with the Celtics and Knicks during the 50's and 60's.

> Other memorable players included Gil Hodges, Carl Erskine, Harvey Haddix, Jimmy Piersall, Mike Garcia and Allie Reynolds.

> As with most All-Star games, there were also some rather obscure members of the squads. Do you remember Randy Jackson, Don Mueller, Marv Grissom, Jim Wilson, Jim Finigan, Sandy Consuegra and Bob Keegan?

60 years later and the names still burn bright.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 July 2014 01:01
 
Putting in the Clutch Halfway PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 11 July 2014 00:00

The definition of "clutch" seems to be somewhat elusive for many people. The slang dictionary describes it as "the ability to deliver when peak performance is needed" and your imagination can take that beyond the realm of sports. The urban dictionary concurs by saying, "the ability to perform well on a certain activity at a particular moment, despite external pressures, influences or distractions." Of course, the term also has a tendency to fit other circumstances such as, "you are really craving a beer...you go to the fridge and there's one left...so clutch."

For longtime baseball fans, clutch has always been linked with RBI. After all, don't the leaders in that statistical category come through in the clutch? The answer, of course, is never that easy. The folks who study baseball statistics have known since the 70's that raw stats can be misleading. Batting in runs is a very important factor in a player's success but that outcome is influenced greatly by where he hits in the lineup, whether he has protection in that lineup and, more importantly, how many runners were on the basepaths when he came to the plate. To this end, baseballmusings.com gives you the historical data to determine "RBI Percentage." It is a result of a player's (RBI - HR) / Runners On, or in simplistic terms, what percentage of baserunners did a player drive in during the season. In 2013, the stat told us that Allen Craig (23.2%) was the best clutch hitter in baseball and only seven hitters had a number over 20%.

So, as the halfway point of the season comes and goes, let's look at the best (and worst) clutch hitters in the game. The statistical information is as of June 30th and includes players who had at least 100 runners on base when they came to the plate.

1) Miguel Cabrera 27% - The Tigers first baseman is far and away the best in the game in this category. He was 6th last year at 20.8% and certainly solidifies his reputation as a perennial MVP candidate.

2) Ryan Braun 22.9% - For some cynics that point to his 11 home runs and say the Brewers outfielder isn't having a solid bounce back season, this number is the counter-argument.

3) Robinson Cano 22.6% - After the huge free agent contract, the consensus opinion seems to be that 2014 has been a disappointment for the Mariners second baseman. This stat, along with the team being seven games over .500 and having the 2nd best run differential in the AL, tells a different story.

4) Omar Infante 22.2% - An under-the-radar signing by the Royals that has filled the black hole they had at second base, they're four games over .500 at the end of June.

5) Chris Colabello 22.0% - An early-season aberration, the Twins first baseman was already back in the minor leagues by the end of June.

6) Devin Mesoraco 21.9% - The Reds certainly seem to have made the right call by giving this catcher the full-time job.

7) Kyle Seager 21.4% - Another major contributor to the Mariners success, this third baseman drives in runs when 75% of America is already asleep.

8) Jose Abreu 21.3% - This 27-year-old Cuban rookie has given the White Sox everything they hoped for when they made a long-term commitment. As their everyday first baseman, he has a .953 OPS.

9) Charlie Blackmon 21.1% - Started off hot for the Rockies in April and the fantasy contribution (12 HR and 15 SB) is off the charts for this outfielder.

10) Aramis Ramirez 20.6% - Another reason the Brewers are the surprise team of the NL in 2014. This 35-year-old third baseman has been solid all season.

11) Mike Trout 20.4% - No surprise here for arguably one of the best players in the game, the Angels outfielder has improved this number from 2013's 17.1%.

12) Justin Morneau 20.4% - A nice comeback story for the Rockies first baseman.

Nelson Cruz leads the Majors in RBI through June, but his RBI percentage figure is only 17.3%. When it comes to everyday players, the bottom of the barrel looks like this...

> Danny Espinosa 6.6% - 17 RBI and a .217 BA in 244 at-bats for the Nationals second baseman.

> Ben Revere 6.8% - In the Phillies lineup for his speed, but this isn't very good production for an outfielder.

> Ben Zobrist 7.2% - A very productive player for the Rays over the years, this second baseman is having a forgettable season.

> Travis d'Arnaud 7.4% - Given the everyday job at catcher by the Mets, this youngster has already made a trip to Triple-A.

> Xander Bogaerts 7.5% - A fantasy darling this spring, the Red Sox third baseman has been dismal.

> Desmond Jennings 7.6% - The fact that two starters on the Rays are in the bottom six tells you everything about their stagnant offense. This speedy young outfielder is hitting .235 with 70 strikeouts halfway through the season.

For those of us from a certain generation, it would have been nice if Carlos Gonzalez had made the list because it would have brought back memories of "Clutch Cargo."

Last Updated on Friday, 11 July 2014 20:51
 
PED's and Arpad Elo PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 04 July 2014 00:00

Recently, baseball writers and broadcasters have made a big deal about players who were suspended for using performance enhancing drugs in 2013 receiving a significant amount of All-Star votes. As this is written, Nelson Cruz leads the AL DH category, Melky Cabrera is 3rd among AL OF's, Jhonny Peralta ranks 4th for NL SS and Ryan Braun is 5th in the NL OF balloting. The conclusion of these pundits is that this phenomenon proves that fans don't care about steroid use, or cheating in general, by major league ballplayers.

Playing devil's advocate, maybe their conclusion is flawed. Is it possible that fans are willing to forgive a player's mistake as long as he's clean now and performing well on the field? Could it be that fans believe the testing program has some level of validity and these players couldn't really be cheating in 2014? The experts seem to think that because the All-Star voting is often perceived as a popularity contest, the fans really like and admire these players. Other evidence might suggest that just the opposite is the case.

Sports memorabilia in general, and baseball cards in particular, have always been a clear barometer of a player's popularity. The four cheaters already mentioned plus other suspended players from 2013, including Bartolo Colon, Everth Cabrera and Yasmani Grandal have essentially no presence in the trading card market. That is especially evident in the case of Braun, who was more of a "superstar" than the others. After winning the 2011 NL MVP and following up with an even better statistical season in 2012, his rookie cards from 2007 seemed to be increasing in value every day. Today, despite his return to All-Star relevance, his cards are worth next-to-nothing. In fact, if you'd like a quantity of them, just let me know and I'll put together a bulk order for you.

It is naive of scribes and members of the electronic media to think that fans have forgiven PED users and don't care that they cheated the game. The most popular cards from the 80's and 90's belonged to players like Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and others. In the current marketplace, the value of that cardboard is minimal. If you want a really cheap way to wallpaper that extra bedroom, instead of heading for the home improvement store, just do it with Rafael Palmeiro baseball cards instead. You remember him, don't you? The guy with 569 HR's and 3,020 base hits.

If the memorabilia market doesn't convince you, then spend a little time browsing through the "MLB EloRater" on baseball-reference.com. The Elo rating system is a method for calculating the relative skills of players in two-player games. The creator of the system, Arpad Elo, was a professor of physics at Marquette University who wanted an improved chess rating system. Although the system has its roots in chess, today it is used in many other games. The website has taken that premise and applied it to the ranking of baseball players. Every player was given an initial rating of 1,500 and then they simulated over 100,000 match-ups in order to give the players more realistic starting ratings. After that was completed, fans could go onto the site and do their own match-ups. A random player is selected to begin the process and following that, a second player within 250 points of the first player is selected. It is up to the user to determine who they believe was the better player. All those results create the "best of the best" along with a points list of 1,867 hitters and 1,186 pitchers. You can try it yourself and test your knowledge and opinion. The first two match-ups on my test were Adrian Gonzalez vs. Hank Sauer and Chris Chambliss vs. Chili Davis. The site gives you all the historical information and lifetime stats for both players.

So, you ask, how does the EloRater (and the fans) make out on their voting patterns? It seems as if the results have great validity as the top ten hitters are Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Tris Speaker and Eddie Collins. Difficult to argue with that list, and the pitching results are similar with Walter Johnson, Lefty Grove, Pete Alexander, Cy Young and Greg Maddux comprising the top five. As with All-Star voting, however, this exercise is swayed by popularity. Our cheaters from the PED era didn't rate well in the survey. Barry Bonds comes in at #79 (just behind Kenny Lofton) and it's doubtful that anyone reading this column thinks there were 78 position players better than him in baseball history. Mark McGwire is currently #172 (just ahead of Robin Ventura), while Rafael Palmeiro is at #233 (tied with Norm Cash) and Sammy Sosa currently occupies #242 (tied with Dolph Camilli). Only Roger Clemens seems to have slightly avoided the wrath of the fans at #25 among pitchers, but he's still behind Bert Blyleven and Phil Niekro.

So, maybe the fans do care after all. This one does.

 
Baseball Quotes - Part Deux PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 27 June 2014 00:00

In a recent visit, we touched on some great quotes from the 150-year history of our grand old game. The overwhelming response made it clear that baseball fans can never get enough when it comes to the characters of the game. As always, there will be the humorous one-liners and comic observations, but we'll also cover a few philosophical entries. After all, there was a minor league player in the 1940's named Aristotle Lazarou. A Cardinals Catcher from the 50's named Dick Rand could have had a relative named Ayn and batters do have to walk from the on-deck circle to the Plato.

> Royals reliever Dan Quisenberry on what happens when his sinker wasn't working, "The batter still hits a grounder, but the first bounce is 360 feet away."

> Giants Coach Rocky Bridges on why he refused to eat snails, "I prefer fast food."

> "You know you're having a bad day when the 5th inning rolls around and they drag the warning track." - Mike Flanagan, Orioles Pitcher

> Reds SS Barry Larkin on his future with the 2003 team, which had an interim manager and no general manager, "We've decided to take a wait-and-see approach - mostly wait, because we don't know who to see."

> "You can sum up the game of baseball in one word - You never know." - Joaquin Andujar, Cardinals Pitcher

> Phillies Pitcher Don Carmen, after getting only his second major league hit (in about 80 at-bats), was promptly picked off second base. When asked about it after the game, he said, "I had never been to second base."

> Indians broadcaster Nev Chandler said, "That base-hit makes Cecil Cooper 19-for-42 against Tribe pitching." His partner in the booth Herb Score added, "I'm not good at math, but even I know that's over .500."

> Browns Manager Luke Sewell responded to a sportswriter who had suggested his team played like dogs by saying, "Don't call 'em dogs. Dogs are loyal and they run after balls."

> "Last night I failed to mention something that bears repeating." - Mariners broadcaster Ron Fairly

> "A baseball park is the one place where a man's wife doesn't mind him getting excited over somebody else's curves." - Brendan Francis

> "Hitting is timing. Pitching is upsetting timing." - Warren Spahn, Hall of Fame Pitcher

>  "The greatest feeling in the world is to win a major league game. The second-greatest feeling is to lose a major league game." - Chuck Tanner, Manager

> "Baseball statistics are like a girl in a bikini. They show a lot, but not everything." - Toby Harrah, Rangers Infielder

> "The best way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until the ball stops rolling and pick it up." - Bob Uecker

> "Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." - Wes Westrum, Giants Catcher

> "Baseball is the only orderly thing in a very unorderly world. If you get three strikes, even the best lawyer in the world can't get you off." - Bill Veeck, Team Owner

> "I don't want to play golf. When I hit a ball, I want someone else to go chase it." - Rogers Hornsby

> "With those that don't give a damn about baseball, I can only sympathize. I do not resent them. I am even willing to concede that many of them are physically clean, good to their mothers and in favor of world peace. But while the game is on, I can't think of anything to say to them." - Art Hill

> "Nolan Ryan is pitching much better now that he has his curveball straightened out." - Joe Garagiola

> "It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in Spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in Summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the Fall alone." - A. Bartlett Giamatti, Commissioner

> "I am convinced that every boy, in his heart, would rather steal second base than an automobile." - Thomas Campbell Clark

> "You can't tell how much spirit a team has until it starts losing." - Rocky Colavito, Indians Outfielder

> "If it weren't for baseball, many kids wouldn't know what a millionaire looks like." - Phyllis Diller

> "Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday's success or put its failures behind and start over again. That's the way life is, with a new game every day, and that's the way baseball is." - Bob Feller

> After losing a game 15-0, Pitcher Bo Belinsky said, "How can a guy win a game when you don't give him any runs?"

> "Losing streaks are funny. If you lose at the beginning, you got off to a bad start. If you lose in the middle of the season, you're in a slump. If you lose at the end, you're choking." - Gene Mauch, Manager

> "There have only been two authentic geniuses in the world. Willie Mays and Willie Shakespeare." - Actress Tallulah Bankhead

> "You don't realize how easy this game is until you get up in that broadcasting booth." - Mickey Mantle

> "The baseball mania has run its course. It has no future as a professional endeavor." - Cincinnati Gazette editorial, 1879

> "Pitchers are dumb. They don't play but once every four days. They're scratching their ass or pickin' their nose or somethin' the rest of the time. They're pitchin', most of them, because they can't do anything else." - Ted Williams

And don't forget, there's no crying in baseball.

 
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