Tuesday Tunes: Diamond Ditty #4 – “Babe Ruth!!! King of ‘Em All” by Murderer’s Row

6 05 2015

My 2nd post of Babe Ruth week here is of the “Tuesday Tunes: Diamond Ditties” variety – where I post about a song that has something to do with baseball!  This was a song I hadn’t heard about until I started doing some Google searches.

I decided to do this post on Wednesday, since today is a historic day in the history of baseball.  100 years ago today, the Bambino hit the first home run of his career.  Ruth was a 20-year old pitcher in his first full season with the Boston Red Sox.  The homer came off Jack Warhop – who of course pitched for the Yankees.  Ruth also pitched a complete game, but took a loss to Warhop, 4-3.

Jack Warhop

Artist/Title/Album: “Babe Ruth!!! King of ‘Em All” by Murderer’s Row (2009)

Description:  There isn’t an album for this – Murderer’s Row (as far as I understand it) is a collaborative effort by a few musicians who are all Yankee fans.  The idea to do a song was the brainchild of Tim Reid of the Committee to Commemorate Babe Ruth.  He wrote a song and reached out to Chris Risola, the former guitarist for the 90’s rock band Steelheart.  They wanted to put together a song honoring Ruth upon the 60th anniversary of his passing.  Chuck Howell is credited as the singer, Greg Ward is credited for the keyboard.  Linda Ruth Rosetti – Ruth’s granddaughter – sang background vocals on the song as well.  They named the effort Murderer’s Row after the 1920’s Yankees lineup.  The piano intro was from Peter De Rose, a Hall of Fame Composer who was friends with the Babe.

You can hear about the song (and a live version of it) at the 1:04 mark on this link from Baseball Digest radio.

How it’s related to baseball:  Obviously it’s a tribute to the Sultan of Swat!

2011 Gypsy Ruth

He could whack ’em and smack ’em and jack ’em!
Like no one before.
He lived big and swung big,
yeah he was king of ’em all.
Babe Ruth!!!  King of ’em all.

The link to the YouTube for this song is here:


Monday Mascots #1: Little Ray, Babe Ruth’s mascot

4 05 2015

I’ve decided this will be Babe Ruth week here on the Lifetime Topps Project.  Why?  Well, it’s not because today is Star Wars Day!  No, it’s because Wednesday is the 100th anniversary of the first major league home run from the Sultan of Swat.  I’ll be doing 5 “baseball & culture” features this week, and two of them are new features on this blog.

This is the first of those new features under the “baseball & culture” section of my blog.  In addition to two types of “Saturday Suds” themes (beers to drink and places to drink them), I’ve done songs, movies, and later this week will cover my first book.  This is a different theme – I’d like to write about mascots in the game.  And this first one will be a different take from what you’d probably think of as far as “mascots”.  I’ll probably follow-up with the more traditional idea later – the San Diego Chicken would make the most sense.

But to go with the Babe Ruth theme, I Googled “Babe Ruth mascot” to see if he had some kind of affiliation or something.  I was expecting maybe a corporate sponsorship or something.  Instead I found the story of Ray Kelly.

Mascot/Team:   Little Ray (New York Yankees, 1921-1930)

Little Ray Babe Ruth Mascot

Background:   Babe Ruth was always known for being great with kids.  Beside the fact that he was the most transcendent athlete in the history of American sports, he was known for being great with his younger fans.  Ruth was never known as the most mature guy out there, and when he became famous at a young age, it’s likely that he felt far more comfortable with a pack of 10-year old kids than he was with the elite circle of Harry Frazee or Jacob Ruppert.  Being raised for the most part at the St. Mary’s School for the Boys in Baltimore, he was credited for wanting to give back.

In 1921, Ruth was in his second year with the Yankees; this was before “The House that Ruth Built”, and the Yankees were renting the Polo Grounds from the Giants.  That year, Ruth saw a father and his young son playing catch at a park near his house, and the ever-friendly Babe joined them.  Babe was so impressed with Ray Kelly, that the next day the 3-year old was at the Polo Grounds for the Yankees game as Ruth’s “official” mascot.  “Little Ray” was there when Yankee Stadium opened in 1923 – the picture above is from the ballpark’s opening.  Kelly kept that role for a decade, until he was 13.  Even after leaving the team to attend school, Kelly and his father did get to attend the 1932 World Series in Chicago as Ruth’s guest.  He maintains to this day that Ruth did in fact call his shot in the third game of the series.

Outside of baseball:   After his Yankee days, Little Ray grew up to serve as an Army sergeant in World War II.  He later graduated from Pace University and worked as an accountant.  My grandfather fought in WWII and I’m an accountant – so I can relate on some level.  Though I was never a professional ballplayer’s mascot :).  Kelly passed away in 2001, 6 years after the baseball world “rediscovered” his story around the celebrations for Ruth’s 100th birthday.  Here’s a little more detail on his story.

Baseball card connection:  There are no baseball cards of “Little Ray”, but you can usually find prints of one of the 4 or 5 photos on eBay at any given time.

Completed insert set – 1999 Topps Lords of the Diamond

1 05 2015

Continuing with some completed insert sets – here is another one is from 1999 Topps.

Info about the set:

Set description: These die-cut cards showcase an action player photo over a diamond-shaped inset with the ballpark background included.  The rest of the card is has reflective foil with the words “Lords of the Diamond” at the top.  The top is die-cut in a jagged fashion that reminds me of ice.  The back continues the ice-like theme with a write-up about the player’s dominance on the baseball diamond.

Set composition: 15 cards, 1:18 odds (1999 Topps series 1)

Hall of Famers:  3.  Frank Thomas, Tony Gwynn, Greg Maddux.  Maddux is the only pitcher in the set.

Card that completed my set: #LD1 – Ken Griffey Jr.

I got Bonds and Griffey both from a Beckett.com marketplace purchase in November last year.

How I put the set together:

  • 2 cards from my series 1 hobby box
  • 2 cards from trades
  • 1 card from the National
  • 4 cards from Sportlots
  • 6 card from Beckett’s marketplace

Thoughts on the set:  I really like this set – it may be my favorite insert set from 1999.  I’m usually a sucker for die-cuts like this, and though the jagged edge isn’t my favorite (see Upper Deck’s SP Platinum Power for that) – it’s still pretty cool.  As is often the case with these shiny cards – they tend to scan better than they are held in hand.

Highest book value: #LD9 – Barry Bonds

Best card (my opinion): #LD3 – Sammy Sosa

I don’t usually pick a Sosa card – but his photo fits the design the best.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.

1999 Topps Lords of the Diamond

1999 Topps Lords of the Diamond_0001


Any other tidbits:  As you can see, Maddux is the only pitcher here.

Other players mentioned on the backs of the cards – Hank Aaron (twice), Willie Mays, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, Jimmy Wynn, Jose Cruz, Hack Wilson, Hank Greenberg, Al Simmons, Sandy Koufax.  Griffey is also mentioned on A-Rod’s card back.

Completed insert set – 1999 Topps New Breed

29 04 2015

Continuing my catch-up posts for completed insert sets – this is “New Breed” from 1999 Topps.

Info about the set:

Set description: These cards showcase young players bringing in a new era of baseball talent, and are typical of the “shiny nineties” as far as Topps insert cards go.  The background of the photo has been turned into something as shiny as a hologram, while the words “New Breed” are displayed vertically on the left side of the card.  As is often the case with cards like this – they actually look really cool when scanned, but the shininess is a bit overwhelming when holding a cards.  The back has a spotted lighting effect and a write-up on the prospect.

Set composition: 15 cards, 1:18 odds (1999 Topps series 1)

Hall of Famers: None – this is too recent for a set based on younger players.  But Derek Jeter should be there soon enough, and there are a few others who will have legitimate shots.

How I put the set together:

  • 2 cards from my series 1 hobby box
  • 5 card from card shows (including 1 from the NSCC)
  • 1 card from a traded
  • 3 cards from Beckett’s marketplace
  • 4 cards from Sportlots

Card that completed my set: #NB9 – Derek Jeter

I got this card from Sportlots last October.

Thoughts on the set:  I don’t particularly care for the shiny stuff, unless it’s a nicely done hologram.  But this set does have quite a bit of star power.  Jeter and A-Rod are both included, and then you have Adrian Beltre, Vlad Guerrero, Paul Konerko, Todd Helton, Scott Rolen, Andruw Jones, Aramis Ramirez and Nomar Garciaparra.  Two-thirds of the guys in this set had great careers, which is pretty surprising for a young up-and-comer set.  Still, it does feel like an insert that could have been axed from the 1999 product – it doesn’t really stand out.

Highest book value: #NB9 – Derek Jeter

Best card (my opinion): #NB15– Adrian Beltre

The fact that Beltre is in this set made me realize how impressive his career has been.  He’s starting to become a legit HOF candidate – in fact, through last year, I don’t know how you wouldn’t vote for him.

My Favorite Reds card:  #NB13– Paul Konerko

Favorite is a bit of a tough word to use here.  On one side – I love this card, and the photo is the best in the set as far as fitting with the picture.  However, this card serves as a reminder that the Reds didn’t hold on to Konerko.

1999 Topps New Breed

1999 Topps New Breed_0001

Topps Cardboard Icons – Ken Griffey 5×7

27 04 2015

Griffey Topps Icon - Header

Topps has been coming out with various online-only products for quite a while now.  One of their best ideas is the Cardboard Icon series.  They take a Hall-of-Fame caliber player, blow up 5×7 reprints of their full run of Topps cards, throw a black border on each card, number it out of 199, and sell it on their website for 50 bucks a set.  You can also get gold border versions for $100.  The numbering is in the black border at the bottom of the card.  When you order a set – every card is numbered the same.  The set I bought is numbered 48/99.

This isn’t really in my collection wheelhouse, but I love Ken Griffey Jr.  He’s pretty much always been my favorite baseball player, and while I’ll never get too crazy collecting his cards, this seemed like a great way to get something showing off each of his Topps cards.  So I’ll scan each of these cards below and give the initial thought that I associate with that card.

1989 Topps Traded – Cool rookie card, but not as iconic as the Upper Deck card.

Griffey Topps Icon - 1989

1990 Topps – Similar photo, All-Star Rookie Cup, signature taped black bat.

Griffey Topps Icon - 1990

1991 Topps – Topps 40th.  Great photo – like many other cards in this set.

Griffey Topps Icon - 1991_0001

1992 Topps – Horizontal, asymmetrical – but still phenomenal.  Has a gold parallel.

Griffey Topps Icon - 1992

1993 Topps – Photo fits well with the underrated design.  What happened to the black bat!

Griffey Topps Icon - 1993

1994 Topps – First really glossy Topps set.  And Griffey sure makes it look good!  The black bat is back.

Griffey Topps Icon - 1994

1995 Topps – Going to the opposite field!  One of Topps’ worst designs.

Griffey Topps Icon - 1995

1996 Topps – Photo that fits with the eccentric “duplicate face” Topps design.  Where’s the fielder?

Griffey Topps Icon - 1996

1997 Topps – Classic Griffey follow-through. Definitely one of his 49 homers from the previous season.

Griffey Topps Icon - 1997

1998 Topps – Another classic follow-through.  This time on a pretty crummy design.

Griffey Topps Icon - 1998

1999 Topps – Even Griffey can make a crappy gold border look good.  This won best card of the set in the prestigious Lifetime Topps awards.

Griffey Topps Icon - 1999

2000 Topps – I was in college when Griffey was traded to the Reds.  It made me feel like I was 10 years old again. This was clearly a spring training shot.

Griffey Topps Icon - 2000

2001 Topps – Topps 50th. The Reds’ sleeveless uniforms were excellent.  Not sure why they added the HTA logo.

Griffey Topps Icon - 2001

2002 Topps – Orange border = gross.  Same photo, different uniform as 1995 Topps.

Griffey Topps Icon - 2002

2003 Topps – Another great Griffey card.  Blue border > Orange/Gold Borders.  I love when Topps has lineage in their design (1953, 1963, 1973, 1983, 2003 and sort of 2013).

Griffey Topps Icon - 2003

2004 Topps – Probably my favorite Griffey card.  I can’t wait to bust open the boxes for this set.

Griffey Topps Icon - 2004

2005 Topps – Not sure why they did the first edition parallel.  Interesting photo – I wonder why there is an American League logo in the back.

Griffey Topps Icon - 2005

2006 Topps – Nice card – most Griffey cards are.  This looks like a sacrifice fly.

Griffey Topps Icon - 2006

2007 Topps – I sometimes forget his first name is George.  Black dice border.

Griffey Topps Icon - 2007

2008 Topps – Last Reds card.  New Era.  I wish Topps still did photos like this.

Griffey Topps Icon - 2008

2009 Topps – Junior with the White Sox just looks weird.

Griffey Topps Icon - 2009

2010 Topps – Back with the Mariners.  As it probably should have been.  Griffey’s last card.

Griffey Topps Icon - 2010

Trade #6 with Night Owl

25 04 2015

I think this qualifies as my 6th swapping of cards with Greg of “Night Owl” fame.  That’s easily the most trades I’ve had with any other blogger.  I sent Greg some Dodger cards I’d found in my parents’ attic from my days of 1990’s collecting a little bit ago, and he mailed me some cards once he got through the dog days of March.  See March apparently is the worst month of the year if you are a Night Owl.  I was born in March, and so was my second son, so I have to disagree with Greg on that one.  February is the worst month in my opinion!  It’s cold, there isn’t baseball yet, but the only part of the football season I really like has just finished up.  And until I left my job as an auditor, I had to pull all-nighters at work for 5 of the past on February 27’s.

But now it’s April, which is a new day.  It’s much warmer (for the most part).  Baseball is back.  The Masters was just on.  I am a little busy at work, but the only times I don’t sleep through the night are when the 1-month old baby decides he doesn’t want to.  And I’ve got new cards from Night Owl to show off.

Greg sent me a few cards from the 2002 Topps set.  The 2002 Topps set – which I’ve opened, but not posted about yet!  Should be around mid-May, though.  Anyways, this is the set I’m shortest on.  Anyone who has some extras – let’s make a deal!

Trade - Night Owl 2002 Topps

He also sent me some 2014 Topps Heritage cards.  I’m very close to finishing up the regular part of the set.  The SP’s?  That’s another issue altogether.

Trade - Night Owl 2014 Topps Heritage

And he also sent some 2014 Topps inserts.  These are great to get – but, like the Heritage SP cards, there are quite a few left on the wantlist!

Trade - Night Owl 2014 Topps inserts

Last but not least – in fact, the best cards of this package – are 2 inserts from 1999 Topps.  These are the best to get in trades, just because anything that’s 15 years old is pretty hard to pick up without paying for it.

Trade - Night Owl 1999 Topps inserts

Thanks again for the cards, Greg!

Completed insert set – 2011 Allen & Ginter Hometown Heroes

23 04 2015

It’s nice to get to an insert set from Ginter completed.  Every year Ginter has one really common insert that comes more than every other pack.  Even though these are 100-card inserts, they are easier to finish than the base set, since that has 50 SPs.  In 2011 this set was Hometown Heroes.  I finished this set up almost a year ago – and am finally getting around to posting about it!

Info about the set:

Set description: “Featuring 100 MLB stars and their hometowns!”  The horizontally oriented set shows the player to one side with his last name and the name of his hometown.  A map with a flag in the player’s hometown is behind the picture on the other side of the card.  The back features a write-up of information about the player’s hometown.

Set composition: 100 cards, 3:4 odds

Hall of Famers: None – the set is all current players

Card that completed my set:  #HH-3 – Brian Wilson

2011 Ginter HH Brian Wilson

How I put the set together:

36 cards from 2 hobby boxes

44 cards via trade

7 cards from a card show

13 cards from Sportlots

Thoughts on the set:  As far as these 100-card Ginter sets go – this is as good as any.  It’s probably the best read of any insert set.  And the set is designed better than the base set – 2011 Ginter was the worst base set design in my opinion!

This was one of 2 cards I got from Sportlots in May.  Wilson is from Londonberry, NH, which was the home of the first potato grown on American soil.

Highest book value:  #HH-79 – Derek Jeter

2011 Allen Ginter HH Jeter

Jeter’s in the set, and he’s the most marketable as far as book value goes.  Jeter’s card talks about how he was an all-state basketball player, in addition to being the National Player of the Year in baseball.

Best card (my opinion):  #HH-54 – Joe Mauer

2011 Ginter HH Joe Mauer

In a set of Hometown Heroes – Joe Mauer is easily the first guy you think of as playing for his hometown team.  There are 3 others who’d qualify for that distinction – Neil Walker, Brian McCann and Jason Heyward.

My Favorite Reds card:  #HH-27 – Brandon Phillips

2011 Ginter HH Brandon Phillips

Phillips is actually the only Red in the 100-card set.

Other information:  Only two players in the set went to the same high school – Michael Young and Dan Haren.

2011 Ginter HH Young Haren

People named on the descriptions on the back include:

  • 6 MLB Hall of Famers (Tony Gwynn / Utley, Frank Robinson & Joe Morgan / Jimmy Rollins, Alexander Cartwright / Shane Victorino, Phil Rizzuto / Rick Porcello, Rod Carew / Manny Ramirez)
  • 5 academy award winners (Billy Bob Thornton on Cliff Lee’s card, Michelle Pfeiffer / CJ Wilson, John Wayne / Chase Utley, Hillary Swank / Alex Gordon, Steven Spielberg / Andrew Bailey)
  • 4 Grammy winners (Buddy Holly / Matt Kemp, Roy Acuff / Todd Helton, Don Henley & Norah Jones / Austin Jackson)
  • 2 NFL Hall of Famers (Don Hutson / Cliff Lee, Warren Sapp / Zach Greinke),
  • 2 US Presidents (Abe Lincoln / Jayson Werth, Thomas Jefferson / Justin Verlander)
  • a former MLB commissioner (Peter Ueberroth / Troy Tulowitzki)
  • a gold medalist (Babe Didrikson / Roy Halladay)
  • the Wizard of Menlo Park (Thomas Edison / Rick Porcello)

Here is a breakdown by state of the 100-card set:

  • 15 – California
  • 10 – Texas
  • 9 – Florida
  • 8 – Georgia
  • 4 – Tennessee, Washington, Virginia
  • 3 – Arizona, New Jersey, Oklahoma
  • 2 – Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Maryland
  • 1 – Connecticut, Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Dakota, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Wisconsin, West Virginia


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