Ted Taylor's Collector's Corner

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    Ted Taylor has been a life-long baseball fan and collector of baseball cards and sports memorabilia. He began writing a hobby column back in the early 1970s and has been writing it someplace ever since. He was first president of The Eastern Pennsylvania Sports Collectors Club and co-promoter of the Philadelphia Baseball Card & Sports Memorabilia Shows. He served as VP of the Fleer Corporation (1991-97) and was co-founder and the first President of The Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society (1996-99). Ted can be heard playing big band and swing music from 8 a.m. to noon every Tuesday on WRDV-FM (89.3), and you can email him at ted@tedtaylor.com.

Ted Taylor's previous three books . . .
  "The Ultimate Philadelphia Athletics Reference Book (1901-54)" available from www.amazon.com
  "The Duke of Milwaukee - The Life and Times of Al Simmons" available from www.EduPublisher.com or by mail from TTA Authentic LLC, PO Box 273, Abington PA 19001 ($15 ppd.).

  "The Glenside Kid” – a story about growing up in the mid-20th century - available from www.eduPublisher.com or by mail from TTA Authentic LLC, P. O. Box 273, Abington PA 19001 ($24 ppd).

Click here for information on Ted's latest book . . .
“20th Century PHILLIES by the numbers”
Or . . . You can’t tell the players without a scorecard

June 12, 2016

This continues our 41st Year of hobby columns

Ted Taylor’s Collector’s Corner

Topps Archives my choice for 2016 best set yet!

  There have been a lot of baseball cards issued this year – and some are very good (Heritage, for example) – but my favorite, so far, is 2016 Topps Archives Baseball. This baby has a nice mixture of current players, rookies and, yes, retired stars in various retro card designs.

  The main part of the base set has 300 cards. It uses three designs: 1953, 1979 and 1991. For my money, the best cards are the ’53 designs. Short prints also return, although the number hasn’t been announced. These cards will have new players that aren’t in the main base set – surely this will drive set collectors nuts.

  Each box (they are selling in the $100 range, 24 packs, 8-cards-per) has two on-card autographs. As a Phils fan I was happy to find Aaron Nola. The other was veteran Carl Everett of the Red Sox.

  Base cards have four parallels, all of which are serial numbered: Blue, Red, Black (1/1) and Printing Plates.

  Pick an old-timer (Mays, Ruth, Ashburn, Bench, Paige, Brooks Robinson, Seaver, Early Wynn – his picture is from the ’53 Bowman, how ironic - etc.) they are likely there. Perhaps my box didn’t have them but of the load of veterans Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron are conspicuous by their absence.

  The throwbacks aren’t limited to players and designs. The set also includes cards from the movie, Bull Durham. In addition to signed cards (Kevin Costner is one) from select actors (all are on-card), there’s a basic insert set similar to the Major League cards in 2014 Topps Archives Baseball. I got two of them – Bobby (David Neidorf) and Nuke LaLoosh (Tim Robbins).  Both the inserts and the autographs have numbered Red, Black (1/1) and Printing Plate parallels.

  This isn’t the only set from Topps this year with Kevin Costner autographs. 2016 Topps Allen and Ginter Baseball has more from the Oscar-winning actor but with a Field of Dreams theme.

  I keep albums of old-timer cards (one day to pass along to grandson Brett) and I find these multiple inclusions of former stars to be worthwhile, though likely to confuse younger card purchasers who will think some of these guys are still active.

  Since my first box has 192 cards and there are 300 in the set I’m probably going to spring for another one simply because it is such a fun set to open.

Topps Finest Baseball Delivers On-line Only Product

  This was one of those sets that puzzled veteran collectors. Selling now in the $115 range Topps had originally solicited 2016 Finest as a traditional product, then it was announced several weeks before release that it would be switched to an online exclusive that would be only available from Topps MVP direct stores and online at Topps.com.

  The hobby boxes (Ken Griffey Jr. is the package poster child) included five chrome cards-per-pack and six packs-per-mini-box. Two such boxes made up the larger offering. A pre-sale was in effect from April 27 to May 9 with boxes priced at $99.99 and cases going for $799.89.

  Continuing a tradition of big designs and colorful Refractors (a little too artsy for this collector), the set also has a heavy focus on veteran content. Each hobby mini-box has one on-card autograph (and mine was Corey Kluber of the Indians.

  The 100-card base features top veterans and rookies on Chrome technology but breaks little new ground as far as different players go.

Stuff and things . . . some observations . . .

The Philadelphia Athletics, again, get national exposure

  The June 6 “Sports Illustrated” contained a great story called “Remember the Pathetics” a tale by L. Jon Wertheim about the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics – likely the worst baseball team of the 20th Century. He covers the usual ground – and to someone, like me, who was the founding president of the A’s Historical Society, little new surfaced.

  When writing my “Ultimate Philadelphia Athletics Refernce Book” (still providing me quarterly royalty checks seven years after Xlibris published it) that 1916 was a source of a lot of players who never graced a big league box score again – many of them only once. The fact is that Mr. Mack would troll the sandlots looking for someone with talent (even a trace of it) and sign them. His keen eye for finding such players failed him that season.

  The SI article also has a team picture, something I was never able to find in all my years of research. The story is a good read. And here’s the crowning irony, the A’s have been gone from Philadelphia since 1954 and they still enchant baseball historians. It is sad that the caretakers of the historical society were unable to perpetuate it.

Muhammad Ali Passes

  Muhammad Ali (aka Cassius Marcellus Clay) passed away early this month. He was one of the great Heavyweight champions of all time – in a class with Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano, for my money the two best.

  He was a little too “over the top” for me and verbally cruel to Philadelphia’s Joe Frazier (though later in life, I’m told, they patched things up.) He evaded the draft at a time when other young men were being drafted, fighting – some giving their lives – so being from a family that lost a member in Viet Nam I never really quite got over his dodging that responsibility.

  I had the chance to meet Ali at a National Hobby Show in Cleveland in the 90’s and have a photo of the two of us hanging in my office. (Thanks to the show promoter it was signed by Ali for me.) I’ve met a load of celebrities in my life (I’ve been lucky) but Ali was one of only two (Ronald Reagan was the other) who actually sucked the air right out of the room. He was a huge presence.

Encountering the Kansas City A’s

  A reader, Kevin Meara, from the midwest sent along a wonderful scan of a placemat from the Berkshire Hotel in Kansas City filled with A’s autographs. The placemat included the A’s 1955 schedule (their first year) and signatures of Manager Lou Boudreau, Coach Oscar Melillo, players such as Elmer Valo, Billy Shantz, Jack Littrell, Arnie Portocarero, Dick Kryhoski, Art Ditmar, Jim Finigan and Pete Suder. The man's father and grandfather were staying at the hotel and encountered the A’s in the coffee shop. The placemat said “The Athletics are going places” and they did, a few years later they went to Oakland. It’s a very nice copy, I wish I had the original.

Trivia Questions

1) Who is the last major league player-manager?  Hint - he played for the Phillies at one time.

2) Name these past Phillies players whose fathers are in the Baseball Hall of Fame?

As usual - Thanks to Ted Silary for including this column in his web-zine and to all of you for regularly reading it.