Monday, August 30, 2010

#6 - Hank Aaron Special - '69-'73

First, Hank's four Topps cards.  I love these four years, and the first three are great cards of Hank.  In the 1970 shot, he's holding his glove and a ball.  I like it because it is different from most posed shots.  The '71 is a good shot, with what appears to be Shea Stadium stands in the background.  I love the double-A "aa" in lower case letters on this card.  The 1972 is a good pose, and appears to be from Spring Training.  Even though Hank is an aging player, the psychedelic color layout works well with his photo.  Okay, to be honest, his 1973 card leaves quite a lot to be desired.  He's been moved from outfield to first base, the Braves have terrible new uniforms, he's trapped in an "action" shot that has little action other than fighting the sun with his shades down, and there's a horrible outfield fence in the background.

As I looked at the back, and his milestone homers, I noticed one pitcher standing out: Sandy Koufax.  Then it suddenly occurred to me that his homer off Koufax would NOT have been at Dodger Stadium, but rather at the LA Colisuem, since it was 1959.  Sure enough, and here's the box score.  Koufax pitched one inning, the 9th, trailing 5-0, and gave up a homer to Hank, his second of the game.  With Koufax as a lefty, and that short left field fence and 40 ft. high net, he could have popped a Wally Moon shot.

As I looked at the other teams on his milestone list, I realized that he played in a great number of ballparks in his career!  Most teams in the National League during his career either moved, built new ballparks, or a combination of both.  Then he returned to Milwaukee in 1975 to play in the American league and racked up eleven more new stadiums.  I count 37 total ballparks.  Here's a list as comprehensive as I think I can get:  Hank would have played in four parks against the Dodgers: Ebbet's Field in Brooklyn (1954-1957), two games in Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, NJ (one in 1956 and one in '57), The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (1958-1961), and Dodger Stadium (1962-1974); three parks against the Giants: Polo Grounds (1954-1957), Seals Stadium (1958-1959), and Candlestick Park (1960-1974); two parks against the Cardinals: Sportsman's Park (1954-1965) and Busch Stadium (1966-1974); two parks with the Braves: County Stadium (1954-1965), and Atlanta Fulton-County Stadium (1966-1974); two parks against the Reds: Crosley Field (1954-1970), and Riverfront Stadium (1970-1974); two parks against the Phillies: Shibe Park (1954-1970), and Veterans' Stadium (1971-1974); two parks against the Pirates: Forbes Field (1954-1970), and Three Rivers Stadium (1970-1974); one park against the Cubs: Wrigley Field (1954-1974); two parks against the Astros: Colts Stadium (1962-1964), and The Astrodome (1965-1974); two parks against the Mets, but only one of them new: the Polo Grounds (again, 1962-1963), Shea Stadium (1964-1974); one park against the Expos: Parc Jarry (1969-1974); and one park against the Padres: Jack Murphy Stadium (1969-1974).  Then in the American League (1975-1976, unless otherwise noted): two parks against the Yankees, but only one of them new: Shea Stadium (1975 during Yankee Stadium remodel), and Yankee Stadium (1976); one park against the Orioles: Memorial Stadium; one park against the Red Sox: Fenway Park; one park against the Indians: Municipal Stadium; one park against the Tigers: Tiger Stadium; one previous park with the Brewers: County Stadium; one park against the Angels: Anaheim Stadium; one park against the White Sox: Comiskey Park; one park against the Royals: Royals Stadium; one park against the Twins: Metropolitan Stadium; one park against the A's: Oakland Coliseum; and one park against the Rangers: Arlington Stadium.  Let's not forget All-Star games, either.  Two parks in Washington, DC: Griffith Stadium, (1956), and RFK Stadium, (1962 [updated] and 1969);  Whew!  Way to go, Hank!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

#5 - Hank Aaron Special - '66-'69

Hank continues to rack up Hall-of-Fame accomplishments on the back of this card.  The emphasis changes a bit from more season accomplishments on card #4 to a bit more on career milestones on card #5.  Amazing.  One of the best things about his career numbers is that they were relatively consistent throughout.  He broke Ruth's record without ever hitting 50 homers in a season.  Many of the other big sticks in baseball history have at least one 50 homer season.

One small thing I've always had against the 1969 Topps set is that it seems the graphic design crew ran out of fresh ideas.  It takes the team name with the same font and places it at the same place on the card as the '67 set.  It takes the same sized circle from the '68 set and uses the two years combined.  Here, the circle is the same color as the '68 set (I think most teams are) and for some reason, Hank's '69 picture is a re-use of the '68, adding to the lack of innovation.  Nevertheless, I like the '69 set.  Classic Aaron on classic cards.  Makes me wish I were a kid again.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Check Out My Baseball Blog: From The Bleachers

If you like baseball as much as the cards that reflect the game, maybe you would be interested in stopping by my baseball blog, From the Bleachers.  I've been writing for over five years on a wide variety of things.  Commentary, personal experience, crazy stories, ballpark trips, history, and just sitting in the bleachers (or box seats).

Whether it's my attending 173 regular season games in 11 ballparks in 1986, to George Brett sitting down next to me and a friend in a bar and buying drinks all night, to being at the World Series during the earthquake, or reading my on-line heckling tutorial, I'm sure there's something for everybody.  Check it out by clicking here.

Friday, August 6, 2010

#4 - Hank Aaron Special - '62-'65

So far in this special series of Aaron, the Braves uniforms have not changed much.  The hats are consistent.  Hank has that gracious built-in smile...always.  His hair style stays the same, and he is predictibly clean shaven.  But one thing I notice is his face maturing from a young pup to a veteran ballplayer in his prime.

His list of accomplishments on the back of the card piece together just what kind of player he was.  In '56 and '59 he led the league in batting.  In '57 he led the league in homers.  In '57 and '60 he led the league in RBI's.  In '56, '57, '59, '60 and '61 he led the league in total bases.  The card contains an error in the '61 year, claiming he won TB's for the fourth time, when it was actually his fifth time.  In '57 and '58 he won a World Series and a pennant.  In '58 he won a gold glove.  In '63 he became a member of the 30/30 club.  But notice his '62 accomplishment: "Although Hank didn't lead the League in any one category..."  Uh, you mean Hank sucked in '62?  Yeah, really bad, at .323, 45 and 128!  So, Hank showed himself as a triple crown player who could also catch and run.  That's a great picture of an overall player.

I grew up 30 miles east of San Francisco and 20 miles east of Oakland.  Our famliy took one annual trip to a game in the 70's, usually in Oakland because it was so much closer and with less traffic.  But in '74, Hank's all-time record prompted us to take in our first family Giants game when the Braves came to town, hoping to see the Hammer hit.  We were disappointed as the homer king was given the day off.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

How This Blog Started

A couple of years ago I was told of an acquaintance of mine, and friend of many of my friends, that he had a really good blog about modern graphic design.  I checked it out and really liked it.  Dave C at grain edit was the guy and he and his team have such a talent for coming up with modern graphic design from the 50's to the 70's that they were ranked as one of the top such sites.  Anyway, it struck me that the design of the 1972 Topps baseball cards, with their funkadelic layout, would fit in such a site.  (I still need to approach him on the subject.  Shhhhh!)

I began Googling for material on the '72 set, and came up with a few things.  But the best by far was the 1972 Topps Set blog by MMays.  Each card was scanned and posted, front and back.  The memories came back from my childhood.  I realized that I had almost a complete 1974 Topps set, and that I could do such a thing someday.  So I tinkered around his blogroll and the blogrolls of those on his blogrolls.  I noted that there seemed to be a great hole in the ballcard blogs: 1974.  So I put the idea on the back burner until just a couple of weeks ago when I created the 1974 Topps Set blog.

I've been a blogger with Blogger for over five years now.  The format changed greatly over this time, and I knew it.  I've been fearful of all those mass info losses that people have experienced with changing a blog format.  So starting a new blog has been an experiment in experimentation.  I think I've got down what I want, and I've got a scanning process in place that should work for the entirety of this project.

I realize that there's a great community of ballcard bloggers out there, and I hope I'm not stepping on anybody's toes with either doing a 1974 set or using the 1974topps [dot] blogspot [dot] com address.  I've found many of you out there after I picked my year and URL.  Anyway, I hope to contribute to the community in the same way all those others have contributed to my enjoyment of baseball cards.

[This post will appear in my "pages" link list at the top of my blog under the heading of "How."]

#3 - Hank Aaron Special - '58-'61

One of Hank's best facial features is that pleasant, built-in smile that always seems to appear in photos of him.  He's also built physically for a baseball uniform.  He always looks like a ballplayer's ballplayer.  The classic Braves uniforms shown in the 1961 card just adds to his appearance.  Hank just never looks like a Schmoe.

I've always had a kind of fantasy where I wanted to see the fans up close at his first big league at bat when a time traveler or angel or prophet says to them, "Yep, this kid will break Ruth's record some day."   How would they react to such news?  And, 20 years later it happened.  Of course, neither 714 or 715 could go on the back of this card since he ended the '73 season with 713.  All these years later, one thing I think I could say about Aaron is that he has been somewhat underrated as a player.  And that's saying a lot.

I heard a story once that said the Giants were the first team to scout Aaron.  But the Braves won out by a mere $1200 on a contract.  Man, could anybody imagine Mays, Aaron, McCovey and Cepeda in the same lineup?  The Giants would have won ten consecutive World Series.  Cursed $1200!