Saturday, November 19, 2016

#158 Cleveland Indians

The 1958 Cleveland Indians finished 4th in the AL with a 77-76 record. They were managed by Bobby Bragan for the first half of the year before he was replaced by Joe Gordon. Rocky Colavito led the club in homers (41) and RBI (113) while Vic Power topped the club with a .317 batting average. Cal McLish, Ray Narleski, Gary Bell and Mudcat Grant formed the rotation with Don Mossi and Hoyt Wilhelm fronting the bullpen.

The card shows the '57 Indians team with Kerby Farrell at the helm. I have a slight obsession with team photos. I keep a magnifying glass on my desk and enjoy spotting familiar faces on team cards. The '58 set is one that lists the players on the front which kind of takes the fun out of it. But it's still nice to see rookie Roger Maris on this one. The '57 set had much better team cards IMO. The had team stats on the back and also listed the players pictured.

The card is in decent shape..until you turn it over. A former owner extended the checklist with a pen. I have this on  'upgrade...someday' status.

Monday, November 7, 2016

#100 Early Wynn

Early Wynn won 300 games (exactly) in a big league career that stretched from 1939 through 1963 for the Senators, Indians and White Sox. He was a seven time All Star and the 1959 AL Cy Young Award winner. Wynn pitched for a couple of World Series teams, the '54 Indians and those '59 Sox. He went 1-2 in five Series starts overall.

He had double digit wins every year from 1949 to 1960 and managed to go 17-15 for the 1947 Senators who only won 65 games total. In 1958 he went 14-16 and led the league in strikeouts for the second consecutive season. He tossed a 1-2-3 inning and was the winner of that year's All Star Game in Baltimore.

Wynn stares mournfully out at us from his card. The S-O-X logo has been added to what is probably an Indians cap. In December of '57 he was brought over to Chicago in a deal that sent Minnie Minoso to Cleveland.

A bit of surface wear doesn't take much from this card which is one of the better ones I got in my original large lot purchase. The scan makes the corners look better than they are but they are still pretty solid.

WikiFacts: Wynn was the last active major leaguer who played in the 1930s, becoming one of only 29 players in baseball history to have appeared in major league games in four decades. His durability helped him lead the American League in innings three times (1951, 1954, 1959) and propelled him to an AL record for most years pitched (23).

Wynn was remembered for his toughness and for the frequency with which he threw at batters. He once stated, "I'd knock down my own grandmother if she dug in on me." He also said to reporters: "Why should I worry about hitters? Do they worry about me? Do you ever find a hitter crying because he's hit a line drive through the box? My job is getting hitters out. If I don't get them out I lose. I don't like losing a game any more than a salesman likes losing a big sale. I've got a right to knock down anybody holding a bat." When he was then asked whether he would have the same opinion if the batter were his own mother, he paused and responded, "Mother was a pretty good curveball hitter."

In fact, when Wynn was with the Indians, he actually threw a pitch at his own 15-year-old son, Joe. Wynn was throwing pre-game batting practice to Joe, and Joe hit two long drives in a row. Ushers in the nearly empty stadium began to clap. Moments later, Joe was lying flat on his back in the batting cage, frightened by his father's knockdown pitch. Wynn said later, "He was leaning in on me, and I had to show him who was boss.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

#351 Braves' Fence Busters

This my first posting of the 'multi-player specials' were scattered through Series 4 & 5. The Braves were defending World Champs in '58 and appear on three of the nine specials. This one obviously revolves around two Hall of Famers, Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews. 

Filling out the lineup of Milwaukee sluggers are catcher Del Crandall and first baseman Joe Adcock. Interestingly Adcock was coming off an 'off'' year. He was fifth on the Braves in homers in 1957 with a dozen. He was behind Aaron (44), Mathews (32), outfielder (and personal fave of mine) Wes Covington (21) and Crandall (15). Adcock missed a large portion of the '57 season and to be fair to Topps he did hit 38 dingers in 1956 so it wasn't like they stuck a scrub on the card.

My first thought was that this is a shot from Wrigley but now I'm thinking the photo was taken in the Polo Grounds. At least that's my semi-educated guess. The place had those 'windows' behind the upper deck seating and I think I can spy the high-rise apartment buildings of Coogan's Bluff that sat outside the stadium.

It's a neat card which is why I didn't mind overpaying a bit for a good copy. Hank+Mathews+those Braves' unis combine to make this one a winner.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

#356 Bob Malkmus

Bobby Malkmus made a long slow climb thru the Braves' organization and was given a shot at being their starting second baseman in June of 1957. He couldn't hit much and the Braves turned to Red Schoendienst who they picked up in a mid-season trade with the Giants. The Braves went on to the World Series while Malkmus went on to Washington via the Rule V draft that December.

He played sparingly in 1958 for the Nats hitting .186 over 74 at bats. After spending most of the following season in the minors the Nats gave him up to the Phils via the draft and he finished his career with Philadelphia. He had his most productive big league season in 1961 when he managed to get into over a hundred games in a utility role and was picked on one writer's MVP ballot (he finished 22nd with one vote) by hitting .231 with seven homers.

Topps repainted the photo used with this card to show a Braves-clad Malkmus in a Washington uni. The card is off center but overall very nice. It was a replacement for the original card that came in my large lot purchase.

WikiFacts: On September 16, 1960, 39-year-old former teammate Warren Spahn threw the first no-hitter of his illustrious career against the Phils, striking out 15. He struck out every player in the starting lineup except Malkmus.

Non-WikiFact: Malkmus was a product of Newark N.J.'s South Side High School and played football and baseball there. I'm from nearby Nutley and NSS was one of my home town's football rivals. He was before my time though.

Below is my original Malkmus card. The new one is a 101% upgrade. It was a no-brainer upgrade. I don't mind well loved cards but I do have (some) standards.