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

April 20, 2016

This continues our 41st Year of hobby columns

Ted Taylor’s Collector’s Corner

Topps 2016 Gypsy Queen is a great looking set

  Always a collector favorite, 2016 Topps Gypsy Queen Baseball is back for another run and for my money is looking better than ever. Cal Ripken Jr. adorns the packaging and even the box is a keeper.

  The vintage approach is there but the pictures, while “arty”, are still pretty close to the kind of photography that allows us to actually see what the player looks like. Four goodies are packed in every hobby box, too. There are two autographs and two relic cards.

  As a Phillies fan I was pleased to score an autographed card of Aaron Nola and also one of alleged Dodger wunderkind Joc Peterson. My relics were a pair of those “no specific event, game or season” jobs. One from Matt Harvey, one from Carl Edwards Jr. (on a small card, embedded in a big card).

  The 300-card base set is there for collectors and then there are those dreaded 50 short prints. Taking things further, 100 of the base cards are treated to a variety of parallels, including Purple Paper Framed – of which I got two (Ichiro 76/250 and Jake Arietta 96/250). I also got a 1/1 hobby printing plate (Jose Peraza of the Reds, it was the cyan plate).

  Set composition includes precious few new players – not already portrayed on earlier Topps issues. Great if you collect specific players, not so hot if you are working to build team sets. Here are the National League players I got in Gypsy Queen that hadn’t surfaced before – Aaron Altherr (Phillies), Mike Minor (Braves), Yoenis Cespedes and Zack Wheeler (Mets), Joe Ross (Nats), Tommy Pham (Cardinals), Javier Baez (Cubs), Brandon Finnegan and Jose Peraza (Reds), Zach Davies and Domingo Santana (Brewers), Shelby Miller and Patrick Corbin (D’backs), Juan Perez (Giants, actually on a Glove Stories card).

  New cards over in the American League include:Rusney Castillo and David Price (Red Sox), Aaron Sanchez and Devon Travis (Blue Jays), Justin Upton (Tigers), Cody Anderson (Indians), Todd Frazier (White Sox), Chris Archer, Matt Moore and Richie Shaffer (Rays), Christian Colon (Royals), Byung-Ho Park and Tyler Duffey (Twins), Preston Tucker (Astros) and Cole Hamels (Rangers).

  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 indentical 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.

  Baseball heroes from the past are sprinkled throughout the box and it’s always a kick to bust a pack and find Babe Ruth. I did just that, he’s card #336. Other legends that I found include Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Willie McCovey, Ken Griffey Jr., Lou Gehrig, Phil Rizzuto and Duke Snider. Some are set numbered, some are in the “Power Alley” subset. Also other ho-hum subsets called “Walk off winners” and “Glove stories”. Wouldn’t you rather get more player cards? I would.

  In addition to the standard cards, the full base set is paralleled by a Mini version that falls one per pack (and there are also 50 short prints). Mini parallels extend across all 350 cards. Collectors are treated to multiple on-card autograph sets and a variety of relic cards can be found in the release.

  Hobby boxes – 24 packs, 10-cards each – are in the $110 range at the moment.

Topps “Legacies of Baseball” Is true high end

  Packaged in a nifty brown box this debut edition of Topps Legacies of Baseball brings you one pack and four cards – that’s it. The high end product is selling in the $150 range (do the math, that’s $37.50-a-card) and in the lone pack you get two on-card autographs, one metal vault card and one low numbered insert card. That’s it.

  My box contained signed cards from Corey Seager (38/199) of the Dodgers and Mark Prior (78/199) as Lasting Imprints card of Sandy Koufax (3/50) and a Roberto Alomar metal card (24/50).

  That’s what I call a high end box of cards (albeit a small box).

Donruss (Yawn) Baseball hits the stores

  Pardon the editorial content in the headline but Donruss has rolled out a particularly boring set of baseball cards for 2016. Of course the fact that all the logos and team names are eradicated doesn’t help much either. The card pictures remind me of when I was a kid and the extra players on your sandlot team usually got a blank shirt and a hat without an initial.

  The basic cards are pretty much action shots , many positioned so the lack of any indentification on the uniforms isn’t that big a deal – but it is anyway. Big Papi David Ortiz adorns the packaging in his blank black batting helmet.

  Insert sets include Power Alley, Studio (a good idea when Donruss used to do it, because they were artsy photos) and two Diamond Kinds (a good idea when Dick Perez used to do them), The one I have of Bryan Harper makes him look like a street person. The one of Evan Longoria isn’t much better. Also one old-time card – Kirby Puckett is included but if you didn’t know that he was no longing playing nothing would tell you.

  Even Donruss needs to get all the proper licenses or get out of the game. I got mine at Target. $5.99 for 30 cards, $2.99 for six cards. Clearly the 30 card pack is the better buy. But why would you want to buy them anyway?

New stuff . . .

  Topps Showcase UEFA Champions League cards. Packaged with two mini-boxes, six-packs-per-box (six cards-per-pack). You are promised two autographed cards in each master box. Covering the annual inter-league competition among the great European soccer clubs, Showcase Soccer includes some of the best players in the world. With 200 cards, the base set offers a detailed look at the top teams across the continent. Expect to spend around $80-a-master box.

Trivia time . . .

  Three members of the 1950 Phillies Whiz Kids remain. That’s all. Who are they? Also - Who was the team’s pitching coach?

  If you’d like to submit a trivia question for the next column please do so at: ted@tedtaylor.com

Letter to the “Teditor” . . .

  Hello Ted,  I was wondering if there was any way to find some information about my father.  Francis (Frank) Abromaitis was drafted by Connie Mack in the late 40’s out of La Salle High School.  He never made it to the big league, but was wondering if there were stats and such saved as there are today, for the minor leaguers back then.  Round about the time I found out about the A’s museum, was the time it was closing. Any information would be greatly appreciated.
Kevin Abromaitis

Reply . . .

  First the bad news Kevin. According to the records in my book (“The Ultimate Philadelphia Athletics Research Book” 2010, Xlibris – over 1200 major and minor league A’s bios) – and Baseball Reference.com – your father never played for the A’s – or any other team in professional baseball. “Drafted” is probably not the right term either. Recruited would be closer to the facts. What we have learned is that your father was one of a group of Philadelphia former college and sandlot players that Connie Mack signed for participation in the frequent exhibition games the club played against town teams. These players mixed with major leaguers (usually the subs) and played in many of these fund-raising games throughout the season. In the late 90’s one such player, who also pitched BP for both the A’s and the Phils in the 40’s, sued Major League Baseball seeking a pension for the years 20+ years he served. He lost the suit since he never signed an actual player contract. Turns out that Kevin’s Dad, Frank, was an A’s bullpen catcher for a time and family photos (Kevin’s aunt has them) show him in an A’s uniform and another on his way to spring training with other ‘prospects’.

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