Friday, February 28, 2014

Playing With My Dodgers: Jim Campanis

Just how far does nepotism go?

Jim Campanis was "scouted" by Dodger scouting director Al Campanis (who happened to be his father), leading Los Angeles to sign the catcher as an ametuer free agent in 1962.

In his major league debut, the only game in which he would appear in 1966, Jim Campanis caught the final two innings ever pitched in the regular season by Sandy Koufax at Dodger Stadium.

In limited action, most of it coming in 1967, Campanis would bat a paltry .149 in 74 at bats as a Dodger.

By the end of 1968, Al Campanis, now serving as general manager, would send his son to Kansas City for a couple of minor leaguers too inconsequential for Baseball Reference to mention by name.

I guess there's your answer about nepotism, at least when it comes to baseball.

P.S. Jim Campanis batted .147 in the remaining 143 at bats of his career, proving that his father was a shrewd GM... I guess.

1968 Topps Jim Campanis LAD #281

Here's the third of four PWMD inductees from the latest delivery from Mark "Harry" Hoyle. We can see from Jim's catcher's mitt that his initials afforded him the opportunity to both label his possessions and make a religious statement at the same time. Taking a look at his big-league stats, I would be inclined to throw the middle initial of "H." into the mix...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Playing With My Dodgers: Bob Lee

Bob Lee's career with the Dodgers consisted of four games early in the 1967 season.

First three appearances: 3.2 IP, 0 Runs, 2 Hits, 2 K, 0 BB
Final appearance: 3.0 IP, 8 Runs (4 Earned), 4 Hits, 0 K, 3 BB

He was then sold to the Reds, where his career would fizzle out by the end of the following season.

The best parts of the big right-hander's story were written before his trade to the Dodgers for Nick Willhite (another recent PWMD inductee). "Moose" had a fantastic rookie season for the Angels in 1964, and followed that up with an all-star campaign in '65. The reliever compiled a scoreless innings streak over the course of those seasons that reached 21, an Angels franchise record that was not broken until just last season by Jared Weaver.

1967 Topps Bob Lee LAD #313

In this, the second of four new PWMD inductees to recently arrive courtesy of Mark "Harry" Hoyle, Lee still sports his California Angels jersey. But it's his military-grade flattop that really stands out. Yet another gem from the "Vintage Virtuoso."

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Playing With My Dodgers: Don LeJohn

Three months spent in Los Angeles in 1965 represents the totality of Don LeJohn's big-league career. Yet the man was a Dodger almost exclusively for thirty-three years.

That career began in 1954 with the Shawnee Hawks of the Class D Sooner State League. Twelve years later, LeJohn would make his Major League debut, starting at third base for the Dodgers in the second game of a double header at Wrigley Field on June 30, 1965. Batting eighth, he came to the plate for his first at bat with runners at the corners and two outs in the top of the second inning. LeJohn came through with a hit off of Bob Buhl to drive in Lou Johnson. He would later single and score the go-ahead run in a 4-3 Dodgers win. A strikeout in his only plate appearance in the 1965 World Series would end the big-league portion of Don LeJohn's career.

By 1967, LeJohn would begin a twenty-year career as a manager in the Dodgers' minor league system, starting with the Tri-City Atoms of the Short-Season Class A Northwest League, and including stops in Bakersfield, Waterbury, San Antonio and Lodi. Players like Ron Cey, Steve Yeager, Joe Ferguson, Rick Sutcliffe, Pedro Guerrero, Bob Welch, Dave Stewart, Fernando Valenzuela, Orel Hershiser, Steve Sax, Sid Bream, John Franco and Ramon Martinez would benefit from his tutelage, not to mention such future managers as Terry Collins, Jim Riggleman, Ron Washington, Ron Roenicke and Mike Scioscia.

Don "Ducky" LeJohn may have had a brief moment in the big-league spotlight, but for more than three decades he was the kind of baseball lifer who contributes to the solid foundation of a successful major-league franchise.

1966 Topps Don LeJohn LAD #41

Naturally, this is the only big-league card of LeJohn's career. It's also the first of four more PWMD inductees sent by the "Vintage Virtuoso," Mark "Harry" Hoyle. And it's a beaut. Ducky stands poised to field any grounders that may come his way in the foul territory along the fist base line at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia. The last major league game to be played there took place before my first birthday. But Mr. Hoyle's baseball time machine continues to take me to places that I only wish I could have experienced first hand. Thanks, Mark!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Correction: Mr. Hoyle

A short while ago, I received a truly awesome trade package from Mark "Harry" Hoyle, a non-blogger who is rapidly building a legend as the "Vintage Virtuoso" in the card blogging community. In my posts about that trade I accidentally left in my place-mark subject header of "Harry/Mark." Allow me, on the occasion of receiving an incredible addendum to the previous package, to correct that mistake, as we take a look at more of what Mr. Hoyle has bestowed upon this humble playground. Let's play...

1975 Topps Mini Manny Mota LAD #414

If you didn't start saying it when you saw this, try it now: "Mini Manny Mota." You know you want to do it. Out loud now: "Mini Manny Mota." See? Now that's Playing With My Cards. You can't stop saying it, can you? I know I couldn't. Mini Manny Mota!

1975 Topps Mini Bill Buckner LAD #244
1975 Topps Mini Geoff Zahn LAD #294

Another thing that I can't stop saying is "wow." Mark's incredible collection, his generosity, and his presence in the community (blog or no blog), have made for one of the most welcome developments of the new year. If my rambling fails to properly convey my excitement about Mr. Hoyle's impact on my collection, this second batch of Dodgers '75 Topps Minis that he sent, in all of its colorful mini glory, serves the purpose well.

1969 Topps Jim Lefebvre LAD #140
1969 Topps Andy Kosco LAD #139

I was born in 1970. Perhaps as a result, I tend to conceptually divide time into decades even more than people without a zero at the end of their birth year. My collection tends to reflect that, as well. I began collecting in 1980. When it comes to Topps Dodgers cards, I have them all from the 80's, most of them from the '70s, and less than 10% from the '60s. That percentage has been on the rise in the past month, thanks almost entirely to Mr. Hoyle.

Lefebvre won a Rookie of the Year Award for the Dodgers, and later became a coach (though he and Lasorda didn't work well together). But the thing that I remember about him from when I was a kid was that his name was pronounced luh-FEE-ver, while Padres outfielder Joe Lefebvre pronounced his name luh-FAY. I never could wrap my mind around that. Meanwhile, I love that Topps tried to pass off Kosco's black hat and sleeves, pinstripes, and lawn-tarp undershirt as a Dodgers uniform.

1968 Topps Len Gabrielson LAD #357
1968 Topps Jim Brewer LAD #298

This is the '60s set that has grown on me the most over the past year. I used to hate those borders, but I dig 'em now. And I love all of the action taking place behind Jim Brewer on the sidelines. You not only get the young dude in the windbreaker, but the random zoom lens from the camera poking into the frame on the right.

Mark had sent a '65 Topps Jim Brewer in his last package, which was inducted into the Playing With My Dodgers collection, along with four other great cards. I think he enjoyed seeing his cards make their way into the set because he managed to hit upon four more PWMD greats, which will be inducted this week.

Receiving any one of these cards would have made my day. I can't thank you enough, Harry/Mark... pardon me, Mr. Hoyle.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Extras? Extras? Read All About It

You know, I need to stop underestimating what you people out there are likely to drop in the mail. When Matt over at Red Cardboard recently asked readers of his blog to take some unwanted cards off his hands, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. After all, as far as I'm concerned, there's absolutely no such thing as unwanted cards.

But, as Matt put it in his post, he was tired of looking at what he described as "filthy, rotten, disgusting non-Reds baseball cards." Although, as a completist and a hoarder, I couldn't relate, I could sure appreciate the sentiment. Especially since that meant baseball cards for me! I asked for his Dodgers pile and one of two Yankees piles on offer. He said he wasn't asking much in return, and the way Matt had described them I figured I'd get some junk wax, a few 2013 Topps commons, and just maybe a card or two that I still needed.

1989 Topps Tommy John NYY #359
2013 Topps Archives Goose Gossage NYY #156

1989 Topps? See, just junk wax... Oh wait, it's just that one. And that one is that dude all the young guys out there know as the surgery guy. And it looks like the photo of T.J. was taken with him standing in the same spot in Fort Lauderdale as the Goose was on this Archives card, released 24 years later. Nice.

2013 Topps Blue 2012 ALDS Game #5: CC Sabathia NYY #283

2013 Topps? Yeah, recent junk... Oh wait, it's a blue parallel of a great pitcher on a post season highlights card. Nice, nice.

2007 Upper Deck Goudey Hideki Matsui NYY #105
2012 Topps Gypsy Queen Gold Framed Paper Mark Teixeira NYY #90

Well, you get the point. The stuff Matt sent was not junk at all. Man, am I glad most of you people out there are team collectors. It's crazy the things you see as clutter. Godzilla? Yes, please! Fancy bordered Gypsy Queen cards? Okay!

1994 Topps All-Star Catchers: Mike Piazza/Mike Stanley #391

The Yanks were great... but check out the Dodgers! Matt even sent a "transition card," bridging the gap from one storied franchise to the other. I think this card shows which team is boss.

1992 Fleer Gary Carter LAD #450
1991 Upper Deck Gary Carter LAD #758

But the Dodgers catcher I was most excited to get was The Kid. He may not have had much of a career in Dodger Blue, but it's great to have him on the all-time roster. And he's always good for some excellent cardboard.

2006 Upper Deck Andre Ethier LAD #985
2006 Upper Deck James Loney LAD #937

I keep telling anyone who will listen that (other than Topps flagship base sets) I have a big ol' hole in my collection that remains agape as recently as 2007. Which means that it shouldn't be surprising that these two awesome Dodger rookies are new to me, and greatly appreciated.

2011 Topps Chrome Andre Ethier LAD #4
2010 Bowman Chrome Refractor James Loney LAD #32

And here are those two in shiny and refractor form. Glad to see Tampa Bay brought Loney back. Still rooting for the guy.

2013 Topps Pro Debut Andres Santiago Chattanooga Lookouts #196

Here's something else to appreciate. If you're one of those people who can afford to jump on board with every set released each year, congrats. I'm not one of those people, and (as much as I dig 'em) Topps Pro Debut is one of those sets for which, other than a random pack or three, I have to take a pass. So getting baby Dodgers who may one day grow into adult Dodgers is way cool.

2013 Topps Archives Clayton Kershaw LAD #130
2013 Topps Heritage Clayton Kershaw LAD #200

But there's nothing cooler than Kid K. If it weren't for that perfect A.J. Ellis card, the Heritage Kershaw might have been my 2013 Card of the Year. Slip that thing in with a '64 Topps Koufax, Drysdale and Podres, and you can have a nice little daydream.

Heck, all of these cards (and more) were a nice little daydream, from which I didn't need to awake, thanks to Matt. Thanks, Matt! Keep seeing Red (and only Red).

Friday, February 21, 2014

Mini-Collecting Under the eBay Radar

I recently read on someone's blog (sorry, I forget whose it was) that they'd had pretty good success with placing very low early bids on a bunch of cards and reaping the rewards when a few of them slip through the cracks and don't get bid up. So, naturally, I had to give it a try. The result was four great mini-collection hits, delivered to my mailbox, for just about a buck total.

2000 Pacific Crown Collection Latinos of the Major Leagues Freddy Garcia SEA #28

This photo on just about any other card probably would not have gotten Freddy Garcia into The Turtleneck Collection. However, framed the way it is, with all of that fabulous colorful shininess, I've gotta get it in there. Come to think of it, this idea might not save me money, after all. Now I want to track down this entire insert set. These things are fantastico!

1992 High 5 Reusable Decals Promo Frank Thomas CHW
1998 Topps Gallery Jose Rosado KCR #131

The Big Hurt's big turtleneck gets him in with this really odd oddball. And Jose Rosado makes for a museum-worthy addition to Getting a Grip in one of its least-populated sub-categories, Rosin Bags.

2001 Topps Stadium Club Pete Harnisch CIN #24

But this one is even better. If there's a more interesting Warm-Up Grips card out there, I'd love to see it. Maybe I will see one on eBay, while everyone else misses it. It's been known to happen...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cards From the Happiest Place on Earth

Sure, growing up in Southern California I loved the Matterhorn and Space Mountain at Disneyland. But my Happiest Place on Earth was among the hills of Chavez Ravine. A lot of life has happened over the course of the past couple of decades. So much that I'm not even sure when the last time was that I had the chance to enjoy beautiful Dodger Stadium in person. But I did recently receive a package from Chavez Ravining, courtesy of Alex.

It all started when he showed a few cards on his blog that he had available for trade, including one that caught my eye for obvious reasons...

2012 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions Nolan Ryan #108

Hoyt Wilhelm and Nolan Ryan, two Hall-of-Fame pitchers with very different repertoires, are easily the Grand Masters of Getting a Grip so far in the mini-collection's short life. Ryan has had some of the more interesting specimens to make it into the collection to date, including a couple of other cartoon versions, a fabulous Achievement Grip, and even a son in the collection. Thanks to Alex, you can now add this suit-and-tie grip to the eclectic list.

2006 Topps Bryan Bullington PIT #304
2004 Topps Total Arthur Rhodes OAK #716

He also sent along some always-welcome standard Posing With a Grip cards, including Arthur Lee Rhodes in his one season in Oakland (out of twenty spent in the bigs).

2004 Topps Total Silver Steve Sparks ARI #309
2004 Topps Total Randy Johnson ARI #650

Fortunately, that wasn't the only Topps Total card that Alex sent my way. Any Topps Total is welcome on the Playing With My Cards playground, but especially knuckleballers and Big Units.

2005 Donruss Jeff Fassero ARI #248
2005 Topps Bazooka Brad Wilkerson TEX #53

Really, anything that's not from the Topps flagship base sets between 1997-2007 has an excellent chance of being new to me. I'm especially exited to receive Donruss cards from this period, since they are a billion times better than the stuff they were putting out during my younger collecting days. Meanwhile, Brad Wilkerson does not have a Doughnut there. That's a gyro. It's a "mistake" that a lot of people have been making when sending me mini-collection cards... and I love it! Why? Because I love cards that I don't have, whether they're Dodgers, mini-collection hits, pitchers, non-pitchers, stars or scrubs. If it's a baseball card, and I don't have it, I want it. It's a sickness, really.

2002 Topps Ten Ichiro SEA #102
1996 Fleer Ultra Roger Clemens BOS #16

That sickness means that I love getting cards of players that I like and respect (Ichiro) as well as players that I despise (Clemens). All you've gotta do to make me happy is make new cardboard with baseball players on it appear in my collection. The fact that Alex included much of what I enjoy the most is icing on the cake. Come to think of it, cards like this make our former dining room (now the great baseball card sorting factory) my new Happiest Place on Earth. Thanks, Alex!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Check Out My Impulse Buys

There were a few cards on COMC that I wanted to pick up recently for various projects and posts. But there weren't enough on that list to make the $3 shipping fee worthwhile. A collector has two options in that case: wait until they have enough needs to justify the purchase, or create "needs" on the fly and make the purchase immediately.

So, really, there is no choice. You've seen, or will see, the other cards from this purchase as they fulfill their Playing With My Cards destiny. Right now, it's time to enjoy some cards just because they were meant to be enjoyed. Let's play...

2009 Topps Allen & Ginter Clayton Kershaw LAD #53
2010 Topps All-Black Clayton Kershaw LAD #10

Naturally, I had to add to the affordable Kershaw collection. The '09 Ginter was a classic no-brainer for Getting a Grip. I'm not usually big on the black parallels, but they looked good with the 2010 design.

2012 Topps Archives Stickers Clayton Kershaw LAD #67S-CK
2013 Topps Gypsy Queen Mini Clayton Kershaw Photo Variation LAD #26B

Big cartoonish floating head and mini batting photo variation. It's this kind of Random variety that makes collecting these things so fun.

2013 Panini Prizm Blue Pulsar Clayton Kershaw LAD #3
2013 Bowman Blue Refractor Clayton Kershaw LAD #220 (225/250)

I dig these the most, though. Blue refractor Kershaws are a particularly desirable player collection subset for me, though I certainly can't afford to be a completist with these. I love these Panini Pulsar things. Can't get enough of 'em.

Moving on, "It's tiiiiiiime for Dodger oddballs!" (Sorry, I wanted to hear Vin Scully say that in my head.)

1986 True Value Super Stars Fernando Valenzuela LAD #6
1997 Fleer Sports Illustrated Hideo Nomo Classic Covers LAD #176

Is Fernando going to pitch a five-hit shutout, or build a tree house for his kids in the back yard? Maybe both. When I saw that there was a baseball card version of that Nomo SI cover, it became must-have material. I had that magazine cover on my bedroom wall for several months in 1995. And this was at a time when I thought I was too cool and grown up for such nonsense. That's how excited I was.

1987 Topps Tiffany Dave Lopes Record Breaker HOU #4
1981 Topps Coca-Cola Houston Astros Don Sutton HOU #11

Dodgers wearing (or, in the case of Sutton, having their picture altered to appear as though they're wearing) an orange rainbow on their jerseys. The Lopes card may not look like an oddball, unless you noticed the particularly crisp photo and fine dark wood grain of the border. It's my first Tiffany card from the '87 Topps set, and it's a beaut. Dig the Don cuz it's a different picture from the base set (Dodgers) or traded (Astros) versions from '81 Topps.

1993 Topps Stadium Club Inserts Charlie Hough FLA #C2

I'd been seeing this on the Dime Box Dozen at Nick's site since I started doing this blog thing. I wanted one, too, so I figured it was time to do something about it. All together now: ROUGH... TOUGH... CHARLIE... HOUGH!

2008 Upper Deck National Baseball Card Day Luke Hochevar KCR #UD16
2006 BBM Japan Nostalgic Baseball Atsushi Aramaki Mainichi Orions #85

Of course, I had to get a few more non-Kerhsaw grips while I was at it, and I couldn't be happier with these. In fact, what would make me really happy is getting my hands on that whole Nostalgic Baseball set. Those things are awesome!

1989 ProCards Scott Davison Jamestown Expos #2145

But the random COMC treat that I'd been eyeing the longest was this Scott Davison card. It's not his first, though. That honor (most dubiously) goes to the black & white '84 Topps ripoff you will find here, along with the story of why I'm interested in Scott Davison... if you're interested, that is.

In retrospect, pointing this out only reminds me that I've allowed Top of the Topps to whither on the vine. Who knows if I'll wake the thing up at some point? Not I.

End transmission.