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

May 14, 2016

This continues our 41st Year of hobby columns

Ted Taylor’s Collector’s Corner

Topps Museum Collection Baseball is, well, expensive

 Roberto Clemente adorns the packaging for the very expensive ($180-or-so a four mini-box hobby offering) 2016 Topps Museum Collection, stays with the standard format, and offers one hit in every pack and new design. Buy a box you are promised four total hits, including one on-card autograph and an autograph relic.

 Here’s how my box shook out: On-card autograph of Jason Hammel (198/299);Autograph relic was Matt Barnes of the Red Sox, signature and swatch (3/5); Dual relic was from Josh Donaldson (59/99) but, remember, not from any game, etc. Finally my plain old relic was a Kyle Seager portion of the Seattle star logo (37/59). All nice but museum?

 While not a focus of the hit-centered release, the 100-card base set includes former greats alongside current stars and rookies. The full base set is also found in four different parallels and the “Canvas Collection” is back again – I got Jose Bautista.  If you get very lucky you might even find a piece of authentic canvas collection artwork (I wasn’t lucky).  

 Attractive cards, for sure, but nobody in my assortment to suggest a hit close to Roberto Clemente.

Bowman Baseball brings rookies, others

 What I always like best about Bowman Baseball cards is that there are usually a lot of cards of players that haven’t been issued so far this year. The 2016 set probably has a large number of “future stars” but it also has a lot of “used to be” and “same old” stars, too.

 Actually it adds very few new elements and will be a familiar – as well as pleasing - sight to prospect collectors (among which I number myself). Following the recent pattern, each hobby box includes one autograph and jumbo boxes offer three autographs. Mine was a signed Alex Bregman card  (Astros).

 Featuring key rookies like Miguel Sano and Kyle Schwarber, the base set showcases the top current players in the league. As a Phils fan I was happy to find Jake Thompson and Nick Williams. But every set so far seems to have Aaron Nola and so do this one. Someone needs to tell me why Ryan Howard is taking up a Phillies card that could have been devoted to any number of the young stars they have.

 The checklist of prospects is further covered with a variety of Chrome parallels – among them I found Marcus Strohman (24/25) in orange and Daniel Robertson (030/150) in blue.

 Hobby boxes are selling in the $80 range.

Topps signs Rookie Rockies slugger to deal memorabilia deal

 Topps has announced an exclusive memorabilia deal with Colorado Rockies rookie sensation Trevor Story for his signed memorabilia. Story made MLB history by becoming the first player ever to hit seven home runs in his first eight games. The 23-year-old shortstop won National League Player of the Week honors in the first week of the 2016 season.

 As a rookie with a handful of MLB games under his belt, Story hasn’t had many signed items on the memorabilia market, but Topps Authentics is changing that and they plan to get signed items including baseballs, jerseys, bats and oversized cards into the hands of baseball fans.

 Topps signings are witnessed by representatives from MLB Authenticators Inc.  MLB players signing exclusively for Topps include Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Luis Severino, and Kenta Maeda.

Topps Major League Soccer full of goodies . . .

  2016 Topps MLS Major League Soccer offers a detailed look at the growing stable of talent with a design overhaul. Each hobby box includes one jumbo relic and two autographs.

  The base set totals 200 cards. This includes veterans, rookies, team cards and the 24 Under 24 subset. This includes the first MLS card for superstar Frank Lampard. Additional choices come in the form of Blue , Orange (#/25) and Black (1/1) parallels, as well as Printing Plates (1/1). There will also be Image Variation short prints.

  Autographs are found in several designs. Memorabilia cards are also a feature  with one per box. (Hobby boxes going in the $75 range.)

Catching up on Letters to the “Teditor”

Almost a big leaguer . . .

  Last month Kevin Abomaitis wrote about finding info on his father, Frank, who he believed played for the Philadelphia A’s. Turns out that he didn’t but was employed by the club as a bullpen catcher and part of the travelling squad that played exhibitions (fund raisers) with local sandlot teams. Players like Frank were part of the A’s, just never saw big league action.

  This question prompted Ted Silary (editor/publisher of this ‘zine) to recall another almost A’s player (a man I knew well) Bill Hockenbury.

  Hock was a Philadelphian and was called up to the A’s from their Lincoln farm club  in late 1947. In the minors Bill, a third baseman, had hit 19 homers and when recalled he believed it was the beginning of a long big league career. Instead, it was the end and though suited up and eligible he never got in to a game. He had a close call, though. Connie Mack (clearly not totally ‘with it’) called for “Hockenbocker” to get on the field as a pinch runner. As Bill started up the steps another player, Austin Knickerbocker, streaked past him and took his place on the field. Bill came to spring training in 1948, was farmed out, and never got back. He played in AAA for a few years – even tried his hand as a pitcher (he’s on a Parkhurst baseball card as an Ottawa A’s hurler). He played nine seasons in the minors, retired in 1954 after playing with Dallas in the Texas League.

  While the Philadelphia A’s Historical Society was blooming (1995-2010) Bill was a regular player rep there and signed countless autographs recounted many stories.

  Silary wrote to me that he was familiar with Bill, actually tried to right the wrong. “His sister is married to Dan Dougherty, the former basketball coach at Episcopal and elsewhere . . . I tried to right that wrong last year and asked the Phillies to let him play for one pitch in a meaningless September game. Bill Giles' son liked the idea but said it just wasn't possible because of rules involving 40-man roster, etc."

  So that’s how it ends for Bill, I suppose, he never gets that line in the big league stat book. How sad that corporate America (in this case the Phillies) couldn’t find a way to make an old man happy. The Phillies, especially last season, could have used some positive press and this baby would have gone coast-to-coast. (There was precedent, of course. Minnie Minoso got into two games in 1980 with the White Sox so he could be recognized as the only man to play in five decades – broke in witn Cleveland in 1949, got in to three games and actually got a hit - in 1976 to make it four decades. Satchel Paige pitched in one game in 1965 for the KC A’s 12 years after he last appeared in the majors. He pitched three innings, no runs, no hits, one strikeout – he was in his 60’s (they think).

Here’s the deal on Trayce Thompson . . .  

  In the April 20 column I wrote “Someone also has to explain to me why a Dodger player wearing #21 is pictured on card 220 who, on the back, is identified as Trayce Thompson of the White Sox. Could it be? A legitimate error card? Thompson never played for the Dodgers but the picture on the Gypsy Queen card is identical to the picture of him on card 62 of series one Topps this year. Todd Frazier on this year’s Gypsy Queen wears #21 on his White Sox uniform.

  Regular reader Ron Atkinson replied “Hi Ted…great column as usual!   Mr. Thompson is now a Dodger. He is the son of NBA great Mychal Thompson and  younger brother of  current star Golden State Warrior Klay Thompson.”

Trivia Question answered

  Reader Walter Czop replied. "The three Whiz Kids still living are:
Curt Simmons
Putsy Caballero
Bob Miller

  Pitching Coach was George Earnshaw (the old Philadelphia A from the 1929-1931 champs)

About short prints . . .

  Czop continued, “You stated in the column that the first time you got a Cole Hamels as a Topps Texas Ranger card was in the 2016 Gypsy Queen set.  I have a 2016 Topps Cole Hamels Texas Ranger card from the 2016 Heritage set.  Cole is a high number (short print) in that set.” (And that’s why I didn’t have him, Walter.)

 “And you asked what sucks about the short prints?  I haven't been able to pull out a Mike Trout (card #500) in the Topps Heritage 2015 or 2016 sets!  Usually I get two hobby boxes from Steve McKenzie at Knuckle Ball Cards (Horsham), then buy about five or six blaster boxes from Target and 5 or 6 from Walmart (so I can get the Target and Walmart inserts).

  “So after reading about you needing to buy 11 boxes this season to make a set, I have done the math and I think it costs about the same to just buy a set from Steve or another card dealer.  Yes, you don't have the fun of opening the packs, but you don't also have the frustration of laying out a bunch of cash and not getting some of the better players in the league!”

  And then he added, “I was in the Citizens Bank Hall of Fame Club seats for Phillies Opening Day.  They had a nice display in a case on the first base side of the club showing the John Shibe concession business.  Pretty good and informative.  Take a look if you get up there this season.  There was a second display showing some real old Phillies score cards.”

-- Walter Czop

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