The Most Fun I’ve Had With eBay in a While, Part III
May 28th, 2010 by slangon

I’d posted a few lots that I won a while back from the same seller on eBay over the last week. They were particularly fun for me because they were basically the equivalent of buying a pack of cards in both cost and the number of cards that I ended up with, but with the exception of them all being vintage. This was the third and final lot that I ended up with and coincidentally the lot containing the card that I was going for. It actually worked out well for me since I had seen that one card selling for pretty much the same price (or more) that I paid for the lot.

So here’s the group of 1963 Topps cards that I got.

I don’t think this happens too often now-a-days, but I often see weird little inconsistencies in older issue Topps cards. For example, in this group of 6 cards, there are 2 players from the Angels, Albie Pearson and Bob Sadowski. Bob is listed as playing for the “L.A. Angels” whereas Albie plays for the “Los Angeles Angels”. Why is the team name written out differently? Beats me.

While on the subject of that Albie Pearson card, I like his on deck pose. That got me thinking though. Between MLB Network and SNY (the local New York sports channel that is the Mets network), I’ve seen a ton of older baseball games. It seems to me that well into the 80’s, when a batter was on deck he would often kneel in the on deck circle waiting his turn at bat. Of course these days, when a batter is on deck, he’ll stand and take some practice swings, usually trying to swing along with the pitches to get a sense of timing. That makes sense to me, but why didn’t batters back in the day do the same?

Another card that caught my eye in this batch was that Harvey Kuenn card. Harvey was the 1953 Rookie of the Year and 8 time All-Star. Pretty good player. What caught my eye though was a weird print defect on the card.

As you can see, the color alignment is pretty off on this card, giving it that weird blurry effect. I actually get a little dizzy if I stare at this card for too long. What I find weird is that I own one other card with a similar defect, which also happened to come from the 1963 set.

Here’s long time Detroit Tiger slugger Norm Cash. Stormin’ Norman had himself a pretty nice little career, batting .271 over 17 seasons while hitting 377 dingers and driving in 1103 runs. He was a big hero in Detroits 1968 World Series win, batting .385 with 1 homer and 5 RBI. This card is a couple of years removed from Norms career year in 1961. That year he hit .361 with 41 home runs and 132 RBI. If those stats seem a little unbelievable, Norm wouldn’t disagree. He summed that year up thusly: “It was a freak. Even at the time, I realized that. Everything I hit seemed to drop in, even when I didn’t make good contact. I never thought I’d do it again.” He was also known for having  good sense of humor. On July 15, 1973, Nolan Ryan was working on his second no-hitter against the Tigers. According to teammate Jim Northrup “In his last at-bat, Norm walked up to the plate with a table leg from the locker room. The plate umpire, Ron Luciano, says, `You can’t use that up here.’ Cash says, `Why not, I won’t hit him anyway.’ He then gets a bat, strikes out on three pitches, and walking away he says to Luciano, `See, I told ya.'” Cash is also notable for never wearing a batting helmet in his career, even after they were mandated by the league in 1971.

I also ended up with Elston Howard’s card from ’63, which happens to be the year that he won the A.L. MVP. He hit .287 that year with 28 homers and 85 RBI, as well as making the All-Star team and winning the Gold Glove. Howard, of course, was also the player who broke the color barrier within the Yankees organization. Those are all reasons why I’m pretty excited to have this card. Probably the biggest reason I like it though is that fact that Howard played 3 years in the Negro Leagues for the Kansas City Monarchs under Buck O’Neil. I’m really fascinated by the history of the Negro Leagues and always appreciate getting a card of a former player. I actually think a pretty cool collection subject would be to collect all the players who broke the color barrier for all the Major League teams. I’ll have to do some research.If anyone is interested, here is a list of the first colored players for all the pre-expansion teams, along with the date of their debut:

Dodgers – Jackie Robinson (April 15, 1947)
Indians – Lary Doby (July 5, 1947
Browns (Orioles) – Hank Thompson (July 17, 1947)
Giants – Monte Irvine / Hank Thompson (July 8, 1949)
Braves – Sam Jethroe (April 18, 1950)
White Sox – Minnie Minoso (May 1, 1951)
Athletics – Bob Trice (September 13, 1953)
Cubs – Ernie Banks (September 17, 1953)
Pirates – Curt Roberts (April 13, 1954)
Cardinals – Tom Alston (April 13, 1954)
Reds – Nino Escalera / Chuck Harmon (April 17, 1954)
Senators (Twins) – Carlos Paula (September 6, 1954)
Yankees – Elston Howard (April 14, 1955)
Phillies – John Kennedy (April 22, 1957)
Tigers – Ozzie Virgil, Sr. (June 6, 1958)
Red Sox – Pumpsie Green (July 21, 1959)

Apparently, all the expansion teams (Mets, Colt .45’s, Senators Part 2, and Angels) had colored players from day one, so you can’t really say anyone broke the color barrier on those teams.

The final card from this batch, and the card that made me bid on all these lots, is this guy.

I’ve mentioned in the past how one stumbling block I’ve found in collecting these early Mets teams sets is, regardless of how bad those teams were, collecting them can get a little challenging due to the Mets penchant for signing great players after they’re no longer great. In the card collecting world though, a card of Duke Snider from a year in which he only hit .243 with 14 home runs and 45 RBI is still a Duke Snider card. So far, I think I’ve done a fairly good job of getting many of those cards out of the way without dropping major bucks. This card of Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn puts me one step closer. By the way, I know that the 1975 Rudy May card is universally regarded as one of the worst air brushing jobs in Topps history, but Richie’s hat in that black and white picture sure gives it a run for its money.

3 Responses to “The Most Fun I’ve Had With eBay in a While, Part III”

  1. Nice cards.

    The list of first colored players is a bit ambiguous. Is it the first colored player to sign with the team or the first colored player to play with the team? It appears to be the second.

    Earl Wilson signed with the Red Sox on May 11, 1953 and debuted with the Sox on July 28, 1959.

    Pumpsie Green signed with the Red Sox on February 8, 1956 and debuted with them on July 21, 1958, a week before Earl did.

    Pumpsie ended his career with 13 HRs. Earl ended his with 35.

    Earl was in the bigs for 11 seasons while Pumpsie exited after 5 seasons.

    Pumpsie was an infielder. Earl was a pitcher.

    In 1967 Earl was the AL leader for wins with 22. Pumpsie never pitched.

    Still, those are some nice cards.

  2. Yeah. Sorry, I should’ve clarified that. That list was of the first colored player to play with the team in a Major League game. No disrespect meant to Earl Wilson.

  3. I don’t think that Earl would have been offended. Neither am I.

    So, does anyone know what happened to Pumpsie Green?

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