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Thursday, June 17, 2010
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Mike DeNero's Neighborhood was created by superstar cartoonist Jim Hunt – check out his website at www.jimhunt.us. To view a synopsis of the comic strip, past months’ strips, and sketches of the four characters with whom you will soon become quite familiar (Bernie, Tony, Leela, and, of course, Mike), please visit our custom eBay page dedicated to Mike DeNero's Neighborhood by clicking here.
The Mammoth Shot
by Mike DeNero
Forty years from today, a sixty-seven year-old man will be at a family gathering in Bayamon, Puerto Rico (perhaps a grandson's birthday, perhaps a milestone wedding anniversary, perhaps a relative's graduation) and he'll be asked by some of the attendees at the event - some of whom will be his close family members, some of whom will be significant others of distant cousins - to recall his days of playing Major League Baseball for the Seattle Mariners. While he undoubtedly will wax poetic about his three years worth of brief stints with the big club in Seattle, he will invariably steer the conversation to an at-bat on May 29, 2010 in a packed Triple-A ballpark in Syracuse, New York, because on that night, he hit what he now describes as a “mammoth shot” over right-center field wall in his first at-bat against the best pitcher of the 21st Century, Hall of Famer Stephen Strasburg, who finished his career with an astonishing 310-138 record, a 2.61 ERA, 5,212 strikeouts, seven National League Cy Young Awards, and four World Series titles, all with the team for which he played his entire career, the Washington Nationals.
Some of those in attendance at the family gathering will have heard the old man's story before (several times, in fact), but those witnessing the old man's bravado for the first time will pull out their iPads (measuring 4 inches by 3 inches, weighing 2.1 ounces, and projecting High Definition images onto any surface) and speak into them: “Rene Rivera; home run; video; Google.” Instantaneously, the most oft searched Rivera bomb link appears at the top of the search page and the guest clicks on it and projects the video highlight onto the plastic siding exterior of the McFive Guys Mansion next door (Five Guys, the best hamburger shop in the nation, will have expanded into Puerto Rico by 2015).
There it is. A 99 mph fastball delivered by the twenty-one year-old phenom (who would make his Major League debut just days later) to the twenty-seven year-old journeyman catcher. It leaves Rivera's stunned bat faster than it arrived and, more importantly, via the opposite trajectory. The "mammoth shot" clears the right-center field fence and all 13,000+ Strasburg disciples in attendance fall silent and Strasburg screams violently at himself while covering his face with his gloved left hand – it is the first home run he has surrendered in his minor league career. A couple fans in attendance can be heard booing as Rivera crosses the plate. A couple fans in attendance can be seen grabbing their iPhones to retract the Auction Sniper bids they had placed for the "1 of 1" Bowman Superfractor Stephen Strasburg "rare" rookie card, which would sell later that night for north of $16,000.
After watching the video, those in attendance who are hearing the old man's tale for the first time suddenly act a little differently. They immediately feel more important -- that they are somehow dining with royalty. Their grasp at greatness is in the guise of a balding sixty-seven year-old man with a potbelly, a moustache that is in bad need of trimming, workingman’s hands, and bifocals. He's old beyond his years, but after those at the family event witnessed the video of his "mammoth shot" from Syracuse, New York, 2010, his step is springier, his former athleticism is more apparent, and his bravado is even more exaggerated, if that were even possible.
One of Rob Dewolf's passions is collecting cards of Cleveland Hall of Famer Napoleon Lajoie. A former minor league baseball player who advanced to Triple-A in the Padres organization, Rob's current job in the newspaper field requires him to get up at 4 a.m., six days a week. Hence the name of his column, which happens to be when he finds time to write about various aspects of the hobby. Rob lives in central Ohio with his wife and daughter.
The Trader Still Speaks
by Rob Dewolf
Few things from my high school days delivered as much of a thrill as opening the mailbox and seeing the latest issue of The Trader Speaks nestled among an assortment of bills, fliers, catalogs and other mail for my parents. On that one day each month, the walk from mailbox to family room was filled with anticipation as to what might be within the 80 or so pages. For sure there would be the semi-regular columns -- Lew's Corner by Lew Lipset; The Lyons Roar by George Lyons; Tom Reid on Non-Sports; So This is Real Collecting by Bill Heitman; Exhibit Baseball by Elwood Scharf; Ye Old Autograph Hound by Neil Sussman; and of course, Collecting News by TTS editor Dan Dischley.
All of these articles would be read in their entirety. But the ads in my favorite hobby publication would be scoured first, repeatedly, and with the intensity of a New York Times copy editor.
It's probably hard for a sports card or memorabilia collector who entered the hobby in the Internet age to understand the importance back in the day of hobby publications -- printed versions that actually were mailed to readers, for Google's sake. The content within was limited to the number of pages (unlike today's blogs and message boards that have unlimited space), and the ads were compiled weeks before (unlike new listings that appear on eBay every minute of every day). Instant info, this was not. Yet publications like The Trader Speaks and Sports Collectors Digest were a lifeblood to many collectors.
SCD's pages were physically larger and more numerous in a typical issue, and it published more often -- biweekly before becoming a weekly publication. But I preferred TTS and its 7 x 8 1/2-inch format. Part of the reason was the anticipation. Absence did make the heart grow fonder, because beginning on the 25th or 26th day since the most recent TTS had been delivered, the clock in my collector's head started counting down the days until the next issue was due to arrive.
Even though Sports Collectors DigestThe Trader Speaks was a Cadillac and SCD more of an Impala. provided a collecting fix on a more regular basis, Not that there's anything wrong with the latter -- my first car was an Impala and one that always will have a special place in my heart. But when prom time rolled around, it was Dad's Caddy that I borrowed for the night (and early morning, much to his chagrin).
Not only did I think that the articles in TTS covered more of the advanced (and, to me, mysterious) cards of our hobby, the ads also offered more cards and memorabilia that appealed to the advanced collector. Not that I was one, of course, but it still was awesome to see stuff like Kalamazoo Bats, 1949 Bowman PCL cards, complete Goudey sets and obscure pre-war type cards sold and auctioned on a regular basis. I still remember a quarter-page ad for an auction of a T206 Honus Wagner buried in the middle of one TTS issue. Today such an auction would command the first two pages in a major auction house's catalog and enough flowery prose to earn the envy of a garden club president.
Simply put, The Trader Speaks, in the 1970s and early '80s, was classy. Sadly, it eventually changed hands, went to a tabloid format and not long thereafter lost most of its importance in the hobby.
The enjoyment that TTS provided me 30 years ago continues today. It's been fun trying to put together a complete run of issues, starting with No. 1 in November 1968. In addition to collecting the issues, I also enjoy browsing the ads and wishing I could go back in time. A full ticket from the 1939 All-Star Game for $35 (October 1979), T206 common players for $1.40 each (August 1979), a Harrington Ice Cream Babe Ruth for $40 (January 1980) ... I need to stop now.
I'm 10 issues away from completing my quest, one that actually has sparked another. I'm in the process of indexing and scanning every article printed in TTS. The articles will be converted to .pdf format and entered into a searchable database that any collector can access online. I hope to also include scans of some of the more interesting ads through the years.
The Trader Speaks was important enough that it deserves to have a permanent place in the hobby in one form or another. Plus, for as much as it gave me, the least I can do is give something back.
Leela’s Tips & Tricks is Leela’s first foray into writing a monthly column – she usually just appears in Mike DeNero’s Neighborhood. As such, she does not have an impressive resume … yet. But give her a break; she’s only five-years-old! We hope you find her vintage collecting tips useful, her butchered attempts at composing sentences in what she calls “Canadien-French” amusing (if not refreshing, albeit confusing), and her unabashed love for her Montreal Canadiens admirable. Enjoy!
Une meilleure façon de dépenser $16,000
(Translation: A Better Way to Spend $16,000)
Bonjour, collectionnuers de cartes! It’s me, Leela, providing you with some vintage cardboard education … my tip o' the month. Voilà!
Well, my beloved Canadiens had a marvelous run but, alas, have been ruthlessly removed from the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Philth-adelphia Flyers -- Imposters!!! Wait 'til next year! (Attendre l'année prochaine!)
Anyway, although I must provide my tip of the month, I must say I have been so enthralled with my beloved Habitants' playoff run; therefore, I have given little thought to this month's tip until I saw that ridiculous “1 of 1” Stephen Strasburg Superfractor card sell on eBay on Saturday night for more than $16,000 (Qui diable pourrait payer $16,000 dollars pour une carte de 2010 Bowman - et ce que le diable est un Superfractor?). My tip is that if it is ever resold, don't bid more than $100 for it. If you were so inclined to bid $16,000, use that $16,000 to follow Strasburg around the country and see him pitch in all the different ballparks this summer!
Gotta go. My dry cleaner just called to say that my vintage red wool Maurice "the Rocket" Richard #9 Montreal Canadiens hockey sweater is ready and that all the tears I cried on it after the Flyers stole my dream from me did not leave a permanent stain on the sweater! Wait 'til next year! (Attendre l'année prochaine!)
Au revoir … Vive Les Habitants! C'est tout!
In an effort to avoid being bested by their pal Leela, Tony and Bernie (the lovable twins from Mike DeNero’s Neighborhood) allow me to present Tony and Bernie’s “Big Apple” Stash. As the lads are twins, and are usually forced to share, why stop at toys, snacks, and sportscards? They will also take turns authoring this column, a monthly ode to their favorite vintage sportscards picturing New York legends. This month, Tony takes a stab at waxing poetic about one of his all-time favorite players. Unlike Bernie, Tony’s spelling skills are well honed, especially for a 5-year-old. Enjoy!
The 1953 Bowman Phil Rizzuto & Billy Martin
First and foremost, Happy Memorial Day to everyone! Today, I'd like to tell you a little about one of my favorite cards: the 1953 Bowman Phil "the Scooter" Rizzuto & Billy Martin. I love this one because the front is just a picture -- no graphics -- and because Phil and Billy look like two young Italian kids from the Bronx who, but for donning their pinstripes and Yankees caps, could just as easily be sporting leisure suits and fedoras on their way to see “Bones” (a.k.a. Frank Sinatra) at the Paramount. Hey, I know I’m only five years old, but I’m mature beyond my years!
The image on the card makes them appear as if they're having the time of their lives -- and I imagine they were, as the Yanks would go on to win their fifth straight World Series title later that season. I'm willing to bet that Billy probably celebrated that championship with an all-nighter at the Copacabana or Toots Shor's with Whitey and Mickey while Phil and his wife, Cora, probably spent the evening watching The Jackie Gleason Show after a home cooked meal. Who actually had the better time? You be the judge. Me? I’ll take the home-cooked lasagna and canolis for dessert and a little conversation with Phil and Cora to wash it down!
Mike DeNero’s Layaway Program
In a recent conversation with my aunt about our sportscards business, I mentioned that our company offers a layaway program. She sort of snickered at the thought. While it may sound a bit humorous, it has been our most successful program that we have offered to our customers to date. In fact, nearly half of our revenue for 2010 been generated through that program. Here’s how it works:
- Customers can purchase items for layaway through any of our channels: our website, www.MDsportscards.com, our eBay site, or over the telephone;
- We require a 10% deposit (or more, if the customer wishes) via PayPal, direct credit card payment, money order, or check;
- We provide the customer with six full months to pay off the balance and allow the customer to make as many payments during this time as he or she wishes;
- We email to the customer a brief 2-page layaway agreement that they can either sign and mail back to us or indicate their acceptance of the terms via a return e-mail; and
- We provide full insurance (at no additional cost to the customer) for the purchased products from the date of sale through delivery to the customer.
If you have any interest in purchasing some of our products through our layaway program, please contact us by telephone at 571-449-3470 or by e-mail at MDsportscards@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you.
Our Consignment Program: We offer our consignors affordable and fair consignment rates and the ability to sell their sportscards, ticket stubs and memorabilia through one, two, and/or three channels: our eBay store, our eBay auctions, and our website.
Contact us today to discuss your collection. You can call us at (571) 449-3470 or e-mail us at MDsportscards@gmail.com. We look forward to speaking with you.
1970 and 1971 Topps Carlton Fisks
by Bob Lemke
1970 Topps Carlton Fisk (originally published on Bob Lemke’s blog 4-28-2010)
I found a couple of great early images of Carlton Fisk and thought I'd take a shot at creating what his cards might have looked like if Topps had included him in its 1970 or 1971 sets, rather than waiting for 1972 to give him a rookie card.
I know Topps "All-Star Rookie" designations reflected selection of that honor for the previous year, but I chose to make it a "pre-season" designation.
There's a 1971-style card in the works, as well, with a colorful "action" pose.
1971 Topps Carlton Fisk (originally published on Bob Lemke’s blog 5-22-2010)
Well, it HAS been a while. I was away from my home base for nearly two weeks, and then busy playing catch-up at work and with my hobby projects.
I'm finally getting time to post my newest custom card creation, a 1971 Topps-style Carlton Fisk to go along with the 1970-style card I posted nearly a month ago (April 28).
The '71 Fisk was the first for me in that format, but now I have a template created in case I want to delve any deeper into that genre. Truthfully, though, I don't really have any other 1971-style cards in my sights right now.
In 1971 I was no longer buying cards. At age 20 I was more interested in growing my hair, overthrowing the government, pursuing hippie chicks and my part-time job in pharmacological distribution. By '71 even my youngest brother had stopped buying cards, so I was never really exposed to what Topps was doing until I got back active in cards around 1979.
Card-wise, my heart will always be in the Fifties.
Bob Lemke is a collector of bubblegum cards in the 1950s-1960s, Bob Lemke's hobby today is creating cards of current and former “players” in those "golden age" styles. He currently edits the vintage sections of the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards and maintains a hobby blog at boblemke.blogspot.com.