Vottomatic, Kahn’s cards and Reds 6, Astros 5

30 04 2012

I’m back in Ohio this week – basically, my wife and I took the week off to head back home for a couple of baby showers for the soon-to-be-newest-Reds-fan.  On Saturday we had a get together / shower with friends in Columbus.  Yesterday, she had a shower at her parents’ house.  So I took the opportunity to get a baseball game in.  Me, my dad and my 87 year-old grandfather went to the Reds’ game.

It started out pretty slow for the Reds.  Matt Latos clearly didn’t have his best stuff.  He gave up a run in each of the first 2 innings and the way the Astros were hitting off him, he was lucky that was it.  He settled down, and Joey Votto hit a home run near the smoke stacks to tie the game.  The Astros ended up tagging Latos for 3 more runs before he was pulled after 6-1/3 innings.  The Astros were kind of forced to pitch to Votto in the bottom of the 7th, and he made them pay with a 2-run double to tie the game 5-5.  Jay Bruce homered in the next inning, and the bullpen held Houston to only 1 hit in the last 3 innings for an exciting comeback win.  It was a great game to go to with my dad and grandpa – the weather was great, we sat in the lower level behind home plate and had a lot of fun.

They had a card giveaway as a promotional item, too – I think it was only supposed to be for kids, but somehow my dad finagled my grandpa’s veteran / POW status into getting a pack to look through.  I remember these Kahn’s sets coming out from when I was younger – it was neat to flip through them to see some of the lesser-known Reds on cards of their own.  I don’t have a readily available scanner here, so I got a picture off ebay (where a couple sets are already up).  The Votto and Phillips card have a gold / silver background to point out that they won gold gloves / silver slugger.

Gypsy Queen Jumbo Pack

29 04 2012

I was conveniently at the Palisades Mall last week and of course stopped by Target looking to see what Gypsy Queen retail looked like.  I didn’t see any blasters, and I probably wouldn’t have bought one either way.  I mostly wanted to get a 3-pack Jumbo or, if that wasn’t available, a retail pack or two.  I found both, so I just went with the Jumbo.  Just under $10 bucks – a bit much, but I just wanted to see the retail framed paper cards.  The Jumbo packs have 3 6-card retail packs inside, as well as a 3-card pack of Gold Framed Paper.

Here’s the Gold Framed Paper:

I also got a couple of SP variations in the 3 packs.  That’s beating the odds, I guess.  I got a straight cut mini, an SP mini (Cain #305) and an Andre Dawson mini.  I now have two Dawson minis but no Dawson base card.  D’oh!

I also got one each of the 2 retail only insert sets.  I’m glad I got those instead of dupes of the ones available in both hobby and retail!  Future Stars is the only insert set that’s back from last year.

Finally, I got 4 cards that I needed toward the base set.  Funny, all 4 of these were in the last pack.

All in all, I did well.  Got some cards towards what I’m collecting, so I can’t complain with buying this pack!

Completed insert set – 2011 Gypsy Queen Sticky Fingers

28 04 2012

Before I get started on some of my more detailed review of 2012 Gypsy Quee, I’ll look back at an insert set I completed from last year’s product.  The fifth “standard” baseball insert set I’ve completed from 2011 Gypsy Queen is the last baseball insert set and the 2nd retail only set – Sticky Fingers.

Info about the set:

Set description:  15 current infielders with photos showing off their defense.  The standard “Gypsy Queen” lettering is at the top with “Sticky Fingers” written just below it.  The border is made to look like a honeycomb with “sticky” honey, and you will find a buzzing bee here or there – but no Winnie the Pooh!  The back references a specific play the player made, but the picture on the front doesn’t necessarily match.

Set composition: 15 cards, 1:4 odds (2011 Gypsy Queen retail only)

Hall of Famers:  None – these are all current players.

How I put the set together:

  • 11 cards from trades
  • 1 card from a Card Show
  • 3 cards from Sportlots

Thoughts on the set:

I like whenever they have insert sets with legitimate themes better than just anything to get good players in the set.  The hobby inserts sort of have themes – but this one is much more specific, and I like the fact that it’s different.  Like Wall Climbers, the insects are kind of creepy!

Card that completed my set: #SF8 – Ivan Rodriguez

Pudge was one of 3 cards from a massive Sportlots purchase back in January.

Highest book value:  #SF1 – Derek Jeter

Best card (my opinion): #SF9 – Brandon Phillips

My Favorite Reds card:  #SF9 – Brandon Phillips

Just like the Wall Climbers cards, these have really good attention to detail.  The Phillips card shows this very well – from his uniform, to his gold Oakleys being upside down on the top of his head, to the World Series champion logo on the outfield wall in the background – this card shows all of that well.  And he’s a Red, so it beats out the Pudge card with him decked out in catcher’s gear making a play.  My scan below probably doesn’t even do it perfect justice since it’s a horizontal card (number 9), but I’m not pulling it out of the sheet just for that!

2012 Gypsy Queen box break #2 & 1887 comparison

26 04 2012

On to my second box of 2012 Gypsy Queen.  I did a little better with this box, but no crazy kind of pull to write home about.  I again got about 15 cards that were damaged – always the back card from the pack.  I looked up what to do, and Topps says you can send in up to 25 cards at a time.  I’m going to do that, and just pitch about 5 cards because I don’t care enough to pay the $2 shipping another time to get it to them.  Out of the damaged cards, only 4 would have been singles between the two boxes – I’ll send in those cards and some of the “better” players out of the rest.  Stay tuned on that front…

First up, here are the variations from this box:

And here are the rarer minis I got.  The last 3 are photo variations.

Here’s some of the inserts.  I did get a few doubles from the earlier box.  If you were wondering – the Jackson refers to his shot in the All-Star game at Tiger Stadium.  I figured it could have been that one or the 3rd home run in the ’77 World Series – either would be appropriate to call a “Moonshot”.  I think they got the correct homer out of the two, but it would have been nice if they matched the picture up.  He hit the All-Star home run while with the A’s, not the Yankees.  I also got 2 Framed Paper cards in this box, after getting only 1 in the first box.

I also got a “Gypsy King” card – which means I hit the odds spot on for my 2 boxes (1:48).  This is card #2.  I’ve mentioned this before – I don’t mind these as much as some other folks have said they do.  I like this one better than last year Gypsy Queens, because at least it’s related to baseball!

And finally, here’s the relics.  These were comparable to the last box – maybe a little better.  Two pretty good names.  Interesting – Rivera is on the box cover for Gypsy, while Longoria is on the box cover for Heritage this year.

And here’s the autographs.  This was also better than the last box.  Jordan Zimmerman isn’t a big name, but he is a bigger name than what I pulled in box #1.  And the other is a redemption – but it’s for a Cano, so I can’t complain there either!

My base set collation between the two boxes was… OK.  Not great, but not horrible.  I’m 43 cards short of the set, with 4 singles damaged (so I should have been 39 cards short).  That’s about 80 doubles when I count all cards from the two boxes.  I honestly can’t complain with that, but it’s nothing like what I saw with Heritage!  But – it’s worth noting that none of the boxes had duplicates individually.

I like the product for its design and the whole idea of it.  I kind of liked last year’s design better.  I won’t be collecting the photo variations SP’s this year.  I actually liked collecting the SP’s last year – at 50 with 1:4 odds, it was a doable challenge.  But, at the same time, it’s probably good for the budget that my collection for this set will be finished pretty early.

Overall, I still like this product a lot.  I’m glad they didn’t screw up the hits per box like they did last year.  In the second year of a product that had a great initial year, it’s easy to have a let down.  I think overall, it’s got some areas where ’12 Gypsy is stronger than last year’s, and some where ’11 was stronger.

I’ll note one other thing I thought of last year – PUT IN SOME KIND OF TRIBUTE TO THE ORIGINAL SET 😉  I really think it would do well for the product!!!!

Collecting the Gypsy Queen set in 1887

For my Topps Heritage box break, I did a little blurb on what it would take to collect the actual 1963 Topps set through boxes.  Doing so in 1887 for Gypsy Queen would have been particularly challenging!  First, you’d need to buy a lot of cigarette packs!  I don’t smoke, so I guess I’d just be doing this for the cards.  I have a coworker who smokes a pack a day, so maybe I would have cut her some kind of deal.  I’m not sure where Gypsy Queen was distributed, but I’m sure the east coast was a safe bet.  It doesn’t appear that they created any type of checklist – and card collecting was in its infancy.  As most of the Gypsy Queen cards were the same photos as Goodwin & Co’s much larger “Old Judge” set – it’s tough to know now if their even was a way to know which cards were printed as Gypsy Queen cards.

“Suffice it to say” #1 – it would have been very difficult to collect the Gypsy Queen!  There were probably more cards produced than the world today knows of.

“Suffice it to say” #2 – I do think it could have been done – what’s more likely is that card collecting was in its infancy and people just thought having a card of John Montgomery Ward was cool – they didn’t think – I should really collect the 149 others!  “Suffice it to say” #3 – if anyone had done so, their descendant could make a killing today!

Back to my 2nd 2012 Gypsy Queen Box

Below are the “stats” for the box.

24 packs per box * 10 cards per pack + 10 card mini-pack – 1 card because of one of the relics = 249 cards

182 of the 300 card base set (61% set completion)

6 Photo Variations

19 Minis (10 regular, 7 photo variation, 2 SP)

15 Minis Parallels (4 Gypsy Queen back, 4 Straight Cut Back, 2 Black Border, 1 Green Border, 1 Sepia Tone, 3 Mini Inserts)

2 Framed Paper Blue

8 Sliding Stars, 8 Moon Shots, 4 Glove Stories

1 Gypsy King

1 Relic – (Longoria), 1 Framed Mini Relic (Rivera)

2 Autographs (Cano Redemption, Zimmerman)

Including the first box:

261 / 300 of the base cards (87%)

**For comparison purposes, I only had 235 / 300 last year!

2012 Gypsy Queen box break #1

25 04 2012

I pre-ordered two boxes of Gypsy Queen and they came in last week.  I liked this product last year – but, hey, I like almost all retro products out there!  2011 Gypsy Queen stayed true to the original as far as design.  The 2012 design is a little more colorful, and I kind of like the change.  I don’t know if I like it more than last year – but I just like that they changed it up.  Finishing this set should be a lot easier than last year – because there aren’t really SP cards in the set.  Instead, there are photo variations with the same card number as the regular set.  Here’s the 6 photo variations I got.


It’s great to be able to get some cards of Junior.  And while I did pull his regular card, it was damaged in the lower corner.  That was one thing about this box that pretty much sucked.  More often than not, the back card from the pack was damaged (it looks like 16 of the 24 packs).  Usually, this was a bent corner for some reason.  Also, this made me realize that the back card tends to be a “retired player” – so these are some of the better cards in the set.  I was sad to see that first post-retirement Griffey card I’ve pulled had a dinged corner.  This kind of thing happens when I’m doing my lifetime Topps project – I can’t expect all the cards from 25 years ago to be in perfect condition.  But for this year’s cards, it’s not too much to ask!  I’m going to send these in to Topps later this week – from what I’ve read, they are actually pretty good about fixing this, but it stinks I’ll have to pay for shipping and waste my time.

The box itself is again pretty nice.  You get 24 packs and a mini box with 10 mini cards.  I didn’t do particularly well with this box.  After some of the crazy luck I’ve had pulling cards over the past year or so, I can’t complain.  I got two low-level autos – which are still on card and very nice.

I got one regular relic and one mini framed relic.  I am awesome at pulling Kevin Youkilis relics – 2011 & 2012 Gypsy Queen as well as 2011 Allen & Ginter have yielded Bobby Valentine’s favorite player for me.  Getting Phillips as the regular relic was a bonus for me – because I’d be buying or trading for it otherwise!

I didn’t get anything like I did with 2 stamps in the 2 boxes from last year’s product.  I basically got what you’re supposed to get as far as inserts – which is good as far as I’m concerned!  I got no dupes, and I generally like the product and I like what Topps has done.  And I like that there’s no SP’s for this product – sometimes I like having that added challenge, but I’m ok with it for GQ this year.  The dinged corner thing bugs me, and I do think they’ve gone a little bit cheap on the card stock for GQ.  Comparing a Gypsy card to a Heritage card is like comparing the Ritz Carlton to a Marriott.  There’s nothing wrong with the Marriott – but it doesn’t compare to the Ritz.

Here’s the Mini cards:

Here’s some of the inserts.  I got what I’d consider the 3 best “Glove Stories” cards – the Mays over the head catch, the Jeter flip, and Griffey crashing into the wall (though he unfortunately broke his wrist after this play).  The Moon Shots card of Pujols is kind of funny to me – at the time of me writing this, he still hadn’t hit an American League home run yet.

I really like the framed paper cards, but this is one area I wish they had kept as is.  The framed paper cards are numbered a lot lower (599 instead of 999) compared to last year.  I like these cards, they’re really nice.  And they must have produced a lot more GQ, because I got just 1 framed paper card this year instead of the 6 you’d get in last year’s box – the decrease in numbers per card doesn’t account for that much of a difference.

Below are the “stats” for the box.

24 packs per box * 10 cards per pack + 10 card mini-pack = 250 cards

185 of the 300 card base set (62% set completion)

19 Minis (11 regular, 7 photo variation, 1 SP)

12 Mini Parallels (4 Red back, 4 Straight Cut, 2 Black Border, 1 Green Border, 1 Sepia Tone)

3 Mini Inserts

1 Framed Paper Blue

8 Moon Shots, 8 Sliding Stars, 4 Glove Stories

1 Relic, 1 Framed Mini Relic

2 Autographs

Gypsies have taken over this blog – part 2012!!!

24 04 2012

1963 Season – statistics

23 04 2012

All-Star Game: NL over AL, 5-3 at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio     (Willie Mays, MVP)

World Series: Los Angeles Dodgers over New York Yankees, 4-0     (Sandy Koufax, MVP)


MVP: AL – Elston Howard, C, New York Yankees (.287/28/85)

NL – Sandy Koufax, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers (25-5/1.88/306, 11 SHO)

Cy Young: Koufax, SP, Los Angeles

RoY: AL – Gary Peters, SP, Chicago White Sox (19-8/2.33/189)

NL – Pete Rose, 2B, Cincinnati Reds (.270/6/41)


Hall of Fame: John Clarkson, SP, Chicago White Stockings, Boston Beaneaters (VC)

Sam Rice, OF, Washington Senators (VC)

Eppa Rixey, SP, Cincinnati Reds (VC)

Elmer Flick, OF, Cleveland Indians (VC)


Batting Leaders:

Avg. (AL) Carl Yastrzemski BOS .321, (NL) Tommy Davis LAD .326

HR (AL) Harmon Killebrew MIN 45, (NL) Hank Aaron MIL / Willie McCovey SFG 44

RBI (AL) Dick Stuart BOS 118, (NL) Aaron MIL 130

R (AL) Bob Allison MIN 99, (NL) Aaron MIL 121

SB (AL) Luis Aparicio CHW 40, (NL) Wills LAD 40

H (AL) Yastrzemski BOS 204, (NL) Vada Pinson CIN 204

Pitching Leaders:

W (AL) Whitey Ford NYY 24, (NL) Koufax LAD / Juan Marichal SFG 25

K (AL) Camilo Pascual MIN 202, (NL) Koufax LAD 306

ERA (AL) Gary Peters CHW 2.33, (NL) Koufax LAD 1.88

SV (AL) Stu Miller BAL 27, (NL) Lindy McDaniel CHC 22


Trends and Stats:

0 players above .330 AVG

8 players above 30 HR, 4 above 40 HR

8 players above 100 RBI, 1 above 120 RBI

0 players above 50 SB

5 players above 200 H

10 pitchers above 20 W, 2 above 25 W

6 pitchers above 200 K, 3 above 250 K, 1 above 300 K

24 pitchers below 3.00 ERA, 8 below 2.50, 1 below 2.00

18 pitchers above 250 IP, 4 above 280 IP, 1 above 300 IP


Read below for my All-Star selections.  There were no silver sluggers until 1980, so I won’t have an award to compare it to. Read the rest of this entry »

1963 Cincinnati Reds season

22 04 2012

The Reds had another inductee to the Hall of Fame in 1963 – this time it was Eppa Rixey, the longtime starting pitcher.  Rixey won over 260 games in a career that spanned from the mid-teens to the early 30’s.  He was the Reds best pitcher in the 20’s, though he didn’t come to the team until just after they won the World Series in 1919.

The 1963 version of the Reds was again a good team, but again a team that really didn’t quite have the horses to win a pennant.  They were two years removed from winning the National League, but starting off slow (6-10 in April) was too much to overcome to compete.  They got back to .500 in early June, and were 6 games over .500 at the end of the month.  That actually got the team to within 4 games of the first, but after a 16-16 July, they were in 5th place, 8 games back, and effectively out of the race.  The Reds stayed in 5th, finishing 86-76, 13 games behind the eventual champion Dodgers.

This season is most notable for being Pete Rose’s rookie year.  Rose went 0-3 with a walk in his ML debut on April 8th.  He started his career 0-11 before getting the first of his 4,256 hits, a triple off the Pirates’ Bob Friend, 5 days later.  Rose ended up hitting .273 with 170 hits and running away with the Rookie of the Year award.

The Reds had some representation at the All-Star game.  Jim O’Toole had a great start to the season, going 13-6 (with 2 complete game losses to boot) and a 2.02 ERA at the break.  He was named the NL’s starting pitcher – which is something notable given the incredible year Sandy Koufax had.  Unfortunately, he didn’t have quite as successful of a 2nd half, finishing 17-14 with a 2.88 ERA.  His battery mate, Johnny Edwards, also made his first all-star game as a backup catcher.  Edwards hit 11 homers with 67 RBI, but most importantly was a Gold Glove winning catcher.  O’Toole pitched the first 2 innings, giving up 1 run, while Edwards went 0-2 as a late inning replacement.

Jim Maloney was actually the Reds’ best pitcher in 1963.  He went 23-7 with a 2.77 ERA and 265 strikeouts over 250 innings.  In a season when pitching started to take hold again, particularly in the National League, he was right up there with the best pitchers in the Senior Circuit who weren’t named Sandy.  Joe Nuxhall (15-8, 2.61) and John Tsitouris (12-8, 3.16) rounded out the Reds excellent starting rotation.

Offensively, Frank Robinson had a down year – he hit just .259 with 21 homers and 91 RBI.  Vada Pinson was the team’s true star – he somehow got left off the All-Star team despite leading the majors in hits and triples.

Team MVP: Vada Pinson (.313/22/106, 204 H, 14 3B)

Best Pitcher: Jim Maloney (23-7/2.77/265)

Award Winners:

Pete Rose, Rookie of the Year

Johnny Edwards, Gold Glove

All Stars:

Jim O’Toole (starter)


1963 baseball season in review

21 04 2012

In honor of 2012 Heritage, I’ll go through the year it honors – 1963 in baseball.

Highlights and Events:

1962 was a year of new beginnings for teams (Mets, Astros, Dodger Stadium).  But 1963 was notable for a completely new minor league system.  The American Association folded after 61 seasons, and the B, C and D levels were abolished.  Most of those teams moved to A classification, while a number of A-level teams moved up to AA.  The Appalachian league became Rookie League baseball.

It was also a beginning for a pretty notable new player.  Young Pete Rose got his first base hit on April 13th, and accumulated the first 170 of his record-setting career to win the Rookie of the Year award going away.

The Reds were good, finishing 10 games over .500, but they were stuck in the middle of the league with about 5 other teams.  Among those teams were Milwaukee, led by Hank Aaron who led the circuit with 44 HR and 130 RBI.  The defending NL champion Giants were among this group, as well – Willie McCovey (44), Willie Mays (38) and Orlando Cepeda (34) combined for 116 homers.  Juan Marichal also won 25 games for the Giants and led the majors with 321 innings.  But while the Braves, Giants, Reds, Phillies and Cubs were good, they were all bunched together between 82 and 88 wins.

If Rose was the new face in the baseball landscape, another great was in his last season.  Rose would eventually break some of Stan Musial’s National League records – and by 1963, Stan Musial was about to hang up his cleats.  After having a very good 1962 season at the age of 41, Musial’s numbers declined in ’63, and he wasn’t an everyday player any more.  He retired with 3,630 hits – exactly half came both at home and on the road.

Musial got one last appearance in an All-Star game, his record 24th.  From 1959-1962, there were 2 All-Star games.  However, at the beginning of the 1963 season, the MLBPA and MLB agreed to move back to just 1 game and decided to split up the revenue differently.  Mays won the MVP award; his 2 RBI, 2 runs and 2 stolen bases helped the NL to a 5-3 win.

By September, the Dodgers and Cardinals were the only true contenders.  The Dodgers were in first for the entire 2nd half of the season, but the Cardinals did emerge and get within one game of LA, but the Dodgers pitching was too strong, and they won 99 games to take the division.

The Dodgers had decent hitters like defending MVP Maury Wills (.302, 40 SB) and batting champion Tommy Davis (.326).  But pitching was their strong suit.  Aging Johnny Podres won 14 games, and Don Drysdale followed up a Cy Young season with 19 wins.  But nobody was a bigger baseball story in 1963 than Sandy Koufax.  Koufax threw a no-hitter at Dodger Stadium on May 11th against the defending champion Giants.  From there, he had one of the greatest seasons in modern pitching history, going 25-5 with 11 shutouts, 306 strikeouts, a 1.88 ERA and a WHIP under 0.9.  He won the Cy Young and NL MVP, leading the Dodgers into the World Series against their longtime rival Yankees.

The American League was even less competitive.  In June, the defending world champion Yankees pulled away from the pack to stay, and after the first week of July, not team got within 5 games of the Bronx Bombers, who won 104 games and finished 10.5 games clear of the 2nd place White Sox.

The White Sox and Twins both won over 90 games.  Chicago was led by a solid pitching staff.  Future Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm pitched 136 relief innings, “saving” 21 games (though the stat wasn’t official at this point) with a 2.64 ERA.  Gary Peters won 19 games with a league-leading 2.33 ERA, while his teammate Juan Pizzaro was second at 2.39.  The Twins had a solid lineup that featured Harmon Killebrew (ML-leading 45 HR and AL-leading .555 SLG), Bob Allison (led AL with 99 R and .911 OPS), Jimmie Hall and Earl Battey.  And Carl Yastrzemski had a very good season despite the fact that Boston bottomed out in the second half. He led the league in hits, walks, doubles, average and OBP.

Elston Howard of the Yankees, however, took home the MVP award.  He hit 28 homers while calling pitches for a staff that had Whitey Ford (24 wins, 2.74 ERA, AL leader in innings), Jim Bouton (21-7, 2.53 ERA), Ralph Terry (17-15, 3.22) and Al Downing (13-5, 2.56 ERA).  The lineup was solid even with the declining production of Roger Maris and the fact that Yankee great Mickey Mantle only managed 213 plate appearances due to injury.

The American League didn’t have quite the exciting finish the senior circuit did.  The defending World Champion Yankees didn’t run away with the division, either.  The Twins, in only their second year in Minnesota, kept it close and finished only 5 games back.  Harmon Killebrew of the Twins had an argument for the MVP – he led the AL with 48 home runs and 126 RBI.  But Mickey Mantle took home the aware despite only playing 123 games.  He led the majors in OBP and the AL in SLG, and still managed 30 homers.  His slugging teammate Roger Maris followed up his record-setting 61 HR season with 33 homers and 100 RBI.

There were some interesting feats during the year.  Koufax wasn’t the only pitcher to get on the no-hitter bandwagon.  Marichal threw a 1-0 no-no against Houston in June.  The Colt .45’s had one of their own, however, as Don Nottebart threw the franchise’s first no-hitter (in the team’s 2nd year of existence) in May.

Four players on the Indians hit consecutive home runs (Woodie Held, Pedro Ramos, Tito Francona and Larry Brown).  This was only the 2nd time in ML history this had occurred – it’s happened 5 times since then.  Up to that point, it had only happened in Ohio.  The Tribe did it at home in Cleveland Stadium, while the first time was the Milwaukee Braves, who did it against Cincinnati in Crosley Field.

The three Alou brothers all batted consecutively in a game for the Giants on September 10th.  This happened in a pretty interesting way.  Jesus made his Major League debut by pinch-hitting in the 8-spot of the lineup to lead off the top of the 8th.  After he grounded out, Matty, who’d been a reserve outfielder and pinch hitter for 3 seasons at this point, pinch-hit for the pitcher’s spot and struck out.  Felipe Alou, who was the team’s starting right fielder and leadoff hitter, then came up at the top of the order.  He grounded out to the pitcher for what had to be one of the most interesting 1-2-3 innings in baseball history!  Five days later, they would make history again as the three all played in the outfield at the same time.

After saying goodbye to Musial, baseball also said goodbye to the Polo Grounds at the end of the season.  The site directly across the Northeast corner of Central Park was originally used for – as you’d expect – polo!  Baseball was first played there in 1880, when the New York Metropolitans were formed.  The first version of the “Mets” began play in 1880 as an independent team.  In 1883, they joined the American Association and the owners of the team formed the New York Giants to compete in the National League.  Renovations in the early years meant that a few different structures existed on the site, but the final version of the Polo Grounds was built in 1911.  After the Giants left for San Francisco in the 50’s, the Mets became the tenants in 1962.  But the Mets played the final regular season game there on September 18th in a 6-1 loss to the Phillies.

On October 12, 1963, one last game was played in the Polo Grounds.  A unique event, a Hispanic All-Star Game pitting the the Latin stars from the American and National Leagues against each other a week after the finale of the World Series.  Juan Marichal started for the NL, striking out 6 in 4 innings as the NL won, 5-2.  Marichal, Orlando Cepeda, and Vic Power received an award before the game, which also featured greats like Roberto Clemente, Luis Aparicio, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, and Zoilo Versalles.  Here’s a link to the box score for the game.

The last sporting event played there was a 19-10 NY Jets loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Milestones and records reached in 1963 included:

  • Warren Spahn became the all-time leader in wins by a left-handed pitcher.  On April 11th, he won his 328th game to pass Eddie Plank.
  • Duke Snider, now with the Mets, hit his 400th career home run off Bob Purkey at Cincinnati’s Crosley Field on June 14th.
  • Early Wynn, back with the Indians, won his 300th and final game on July 13th.  The win was his only victory that year; Wynn had the longest timeframe for any pitcher between win #299 and #300 – a span of 9 months and 7 starts (as well as a few relief appearances).  Wynn pitched almost exclusively in relief that season, though his first start was a complete game 2-0 loss, and he did manage an excellent 2.28 ERA in 55 innings.  He retired at the end of that year and became the Tribe’s pitching coach.
  • On August 27, Mays hit his 400th home run at Candlestick Park off Curt Simmons of the Cardinals.

I’d say Willie Mays was the best player in the game at this point, with Hank Aaron close at his heels.  Mickey Mantle had been the best player in baseball since the mid 50’s – until now.  By 1962, Mays had essentially caught up with him, and after 1963 – there was no debate – Mays and Aaron would both pass him into the debate of the best player in the game.  Mantle was still great when he played – but Mays and Aaron were great when they played and they played all the time.

Just like the 1962 season, I think any question of best pitcher in baseball was down to Hall of Fame pitchers – Don Drysdale and Warren Spahn.  Spahn was the best pitcher in the game prior to 1962, and then had been for a number of years.  Drysdale won the Cy Young in 1962 with a great 25-win season, but Spahn still had a very good year (though he had very little run support) and Drysdale didn’t quite catch him in my mind.  I generally look at how pitchers have done over the past 3-5 years.  I can’t change it from Spahn in 1963 – he had one last great year.  Spahn went 23-7 with a 2.60 ERA and again led the majors with 22 complete games.  Drysdale had a similar season to what Spahn had in 1962 – he had a 2.63 ERA and pitched over 300 innings, but went 19-17 due to poor run support.  Sandy Koufax had the best season in 1963 – but, with all apologies, at this point, he’d had one good season and one truly great season.  At the end of 1963, that’s just not the resume yet to have thought he was better than what Drysdale or Spahn had strung together.

Read below for the World Series summary.

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2012 Heritage & 1963 Topps – 1990 Reds and Big Red Machine

20 04 2012

There was one Big Red Machine member in the players in the 1963 Topps set – Pete Rose was the first of any of the BRM players.  This wasn’t the first, though – Manager Sparky Anderson had earlier cards from when he was a player.

Because of this card, 2012 Topps Heritage is kind of unique in a way that I’m honestly wondering is an oversight – but figure it just can’t be.  How so you ask?  Well, it’s because of the 50th anniversary buy back program Topps has for all of its cards.  For the first time since 1989 Topps, a Pete Rose card was included in a baseball card product licensed by MLB.

This is unquestionably the most notable card from this set.  The buyback card above was on eBay at the time of me writing this with a BIN of $1,999.  I’m surprised I hadn’t read more about it earlier.  It’s kind of a big deal on a couple levels – including the fact that they put a stamp on a Pete Rose rookie…

There is another Big Red Machine member in the 2012 Heritage product.  That would be Joe Morgan, who has a nickel “63 Mint” card denoting his rookie year.

There is also one player from the 1990 team.  Eric Davis was in the Mint set last year, and Paul O’Neill is in this year’s set.  He got a penny card because he was born in 1963 (and because Topps paid him money for the rights to use his likeness 🙂 ).