Monday, June 01, 2009

Out of My Element

As many of you know, I have focused primarily on the collecting/ hobby side of Dodger fandom. I like to highlight collections and cards that tends to bring me closer to my youth. From Baseball cards to the random memorabilia item we all stared at and coveted when we hit the concession stands as kids, I believe this part of Baseball is as integral as the game itself. After all, it is the one common denominator that binds all fans of the game. Just about all of us have held a Baseball card of our favorite player in our hands or asked for an autograph from the stands at the stadium. All of these things causes me to ask, without this stuff would the game be as popular as it is today?

Whatever your answer, we all know that ultimately it's impossible to separate the two. Baseball and the hobby are tied together like Bonnie and Clyde. You can't have one without the other.

So, for one short day I get to indulge in the one part of my obsession that I tend to write little about. This coming Tuesday, tomorrow against Arizona, I will be a blogger in the press box. I will be focusing on more of the game than I ever have before and I hope it's as magical as my mind is currently imagining.

Follow along with me tomorrow as I head to the field for batting practice, a pre-game talk to the media by Joe Torre, live-blogging from the press box during the game and a post game recap of the day.

Greatest Dodger Collection Ever

Mark Langill, the Dodgers team historian, recently visited a gentleman in Chattanooga by the name of Sal LaRocca about his Dodger collection that many believe may be the finest ever assembled. In fact, Langill speculated that it's only equal may be the collection put together by famed collector Barry Halper.
His memorabilia rooms are filled with signed items from former Dodgers pitchers such as Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Don Sutton, Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser, as well as such position players as Leo Durocher, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Steve Garvey and Eric Karros. He has World Series programs from 1916 and 1920; seats from Ebbets Field; uniforms worn by Koufax, Durocher and Robinson; and a ball from Valenzuela’s no-hitter in 1990.
“After a while, it just doesn’t seem real,” Langill said. “Normally, if you’re in a museum setting, you look at things through a glass case. When you’ve got a 1916 World Series baseball in your hand, and then he hands you one from 1920, it’s like one of those ‘Night at the Museum’ things where all of a sudden Teddy Roosevelt comes to life.
The “Babe” is best remembered for his success with the Yankees and the generational pain he caused Red Sox fans, but LaRocca prefers to focus on 1938, Ruth’s one season as Brooklyn’s first-base coach. LaRocca has a photo of Ruth with the Dodgers, the newspaper article announcing his hiring and four balls with his signature.
Read more about it here in the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Unfortunately, there are no pictures. Hopefully, we will one day see these items in a Dodger dedicated museum.

Hat Tip: SCD:

Card of the Week: Watch Out For That Bat

With the seemingly constant barrage of bats breaking at ball games I thought it apt to highlight this 1993 Upper Deck card of Wes Chamberlain as the Card of the Week. These splintered bats are like dangerous projectiles that fly through the sky during a wicked hurricane. You never know exactly where they will land. Anybody in its way is sure to wish to be somewhere else. This bat being held by Chamberlain appears to be headed behind him towards the stands. I hope bystanders where able to get out of its way. Oh, by the way, I think this was taken at Dodger Stadium. (Please correct me if I'm wrong about that.)

Collection: 1922 W504 Universal Toy & Novelty

It's been awhile since I've highlighted something from my collection so I thought I would start with a scarce strip card set put out in 1922 that features the Brooklyn Dodgers. The set was made by Universal Toy & Novelty Manufacturing Co. and sold as an uncut sheet of 16 cards and one large size team portrait. Unfortunately, I have never been able to track down the team card, but I have completed the individual players cards from the Brooklyn set. Universal Toy made these sheet for 4 different teams. They measure approximately 1 3/8" X 2 3/8".

Strip cards are very different from the cards available in packs of cigarettes and modern issues seen today. As the name suggest, strip cards were issued in uncut strips that would be cut up by consumers once purchased. They are small in size, are often printed on poor quality paper or cardboard, and usually have terrible artwork. Still, a vintage card nearly 90 years old is still a wonder to behold- even if they look terrible. Due to the above negatives strip card can often be purchased for very little money relative to cards from the same time period. I think I purchased these cards as a set for a little over $100.00 from an auction house a couple of years ago. Check out all 16 cards here is my photoalbum.

Below is Hall of Famer Burleigh Grimes who was the last ballplayer legally allowed to throw the spitball.
Here is Hall of Famer Dazzy Vance. Have you ever heard of the "three men on third" incident.
Vance was also involved in one of the most famous flubs in baseball history, the "three men on third" incident. With Vance on second and Chick Fewster on first, Babe Herman hit a long ball and began racing around the bases. As he rounded second, the third base coach yelled at him to go back, since Fewster had not yet passed third. Vance, having rounded third, misunderstood and reversed course, returning to third. Fewster arrived at third. Herman ignored the instruction and also arrived at third. The third baseman tagged out Vance and Fewster; Herman was declared safe by rule.
Last but not least, here is Dodger Hall of Famer Zach Wheat.