Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Through the years, I've acquired somewhere north of 150 graded “vintage” Mets cards.

But recently, the thrill of the chase has gone cold. I cannot muster much enthusiasm in the service of tracking down a nice copy of a 1968 Dick Kenworthy or others of its ilk.

Sure, I find some stray excitement in scoring hard-to-find oddball/test issues, but even then the rush is relatively unleaded.

So it has become clear to me that a change in collecting priorities is in order. And I think I've located the perfect fix: pre-war cards (that is, anything issued in 1941 or years prior).

More specifically, I've decided to focus on pre-war cards of Brooklyn players.

(I needed a way to constrain my goals, and limiting myself to Brooklynites has the added advantage of being budget-friendly, because, well, let's just say that the pre-war Brooklyn squads were not littered with Hall of Famers.)

This 1911 T205 William Bergen was my first purchase, and it was a decision based largely on aesthetics. The gold-bordered T205 issue is a beautiful set, and I'd argue that the Brooklyn cards, with their deep blue colors and unfussy design, are particularly attractive.

You'll note that Bergen is listed as a member of the “Superbas.” In this era, team nicknames were essentially fluid-- the Brooklyn NL team was known alternately as the Superbas, Robins, Trolley Dodgers, and just plain Dodgers.

Note as well the hat that our Bill is wearing, which is short brimmed and balloons out on top like a hot tray of Jiffy Pop.

Bergen was a catcher whose 11-year career started with Cincinnati in 1901 and ended with Brooklyn in 1911. He put the “dead” in deadball, managing just two home runs and a .170 average in over 3,000 career at bats.

As fate would have it, one of those home runs came in Bergen's very first game-- he wouldn't get his second and last until 8 years later.

Bonus fun fact: Bergen held the record for most at bats without being hit by a pitch until Mark Lemke broke it in 1997.

Bonus less-fun fact: His brother Marty was a catcher for Boston who murdered his family and committed suicide in 1900.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


You were a mistake, Dick Selma.

I was young and rash.

I took you at face value, and I fell for you, with your bright Florida sunshine and the sweet blue piping of your Mets jersey.

But then I got you home, and saw your other side. The side that showed you belonged to the San Diego Padres.

I'm shallow, I know, but this whole Padres thing cooled my ardor considerably.

Look, it's me, not you, OK?

And now this is how the affair ends-- no drama, no harsh recriminations. Just me willing to slip you into a bubble mailer at the first sign of an opening $29.99 ebay bid.

Please forgive my fickle heart, Dick Selma...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Back when I was 10 or 11, my best friend and I took to writing letters to retired baseball players in search of autographs.

We were both of us baseball-history geeks, and we enjoyed taking the time to do a little extra research on our subjects in an effort to personalize the requests.

As we received our responses, we would split the bounty fairly randomly. I don't recall either one of us fighting particularly hard to take possession of a specific autograph.

Here is my remaining inventory of signatures from those days: 

Monte Irvin (black-and-white photocard)
George “Highpockets” Kelly (HOF postcard)
Buck Leonard (HOF postcard)
Earl Averill (HOF postcard)
Burleigh Grimes (HOF postcard)
Joe McCarthy (HOF postcard)
Sandy Koufax (cut paper)
Cal Hubbard (cut paper)
Stan Musial (index card)
Hank Aaron (index card)
Don Drysdale (index card)
Don Newcombe (index card)

This brief mania having run its course, I didn't spend much additional time over the years chasing autographs. I have pulled a decent number of them from 21st century packs, but that has rarely been the goal.

However, given my history as a Mets fan, I have long aspired to own a decent Tom Seaver autographed card.

My hope had been to find something that met certain specific criteria. For one, it had to picture him with the Mets. Cards of Tom Terrific on the Reds, White Sox, or Red Sox were dead to me.

Secondly, it had to be an on-card autograph. No signatures on glittery silver stickers would suffice.

Finally, the price had to be reasonable. I was not about to get into any triple-digit shenanigans in the service of this quest.

The 1997 Donruss Significant Signatures insert had been on my radar for some time. It is an attractive enough card, and with a print run of 2,000 the asking price tends to remain reasonable.

I fell across this graded version a couple of months back, and put in an early bid that ultimately won the card for a bit less than $25.

And you can rest assured that I will not trade this for autographed cards of Pat Zachry, Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson, and Dan Norman...