Friday, July 30, 2010

Auction Recollections: The Original Sym-Phony Bass Drum

When I wrote yesterdays post about a drawing of the lovable Brooklyn Dodger Sym-Phony Band I immediately remembered an old Leland Auction from 2005. Here is an original bass drum used by those raucous fans before they were officially dubbed the Sym-Phony Band by Red Barber. It featured a painted drum head with the name of one of the original founders of the group, Shorty Laurice, on it. If memory serves correct, this drum was purchase by LA area collector Gary Cypres and was displayed at his Sports Museum of Los Angeles when I visited it.
(auction link: Lelands)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Call Me Envious: Jerry Garcia Tribute Night

I don't want to steer you wrong. First of all, I am not a Giants fan. I can't stand that bay area team, and like all true blue fans I want to beat them unmercifully every time we play them. On the other hand, I am extremely envious of an event they have planned for their fans.

I know, I know... Jerry Garcia, the Grateful Dead and that brand of hippy jam band instrumental freak-out is really a thing of the past. Sure, the sound had a wonderful resurgence in popularity in the 90's when bands like Phish, Blues Traveler, String Cheese Incident and Widespread Panic became big, but for this man with a touch of grey I hardly noticed (except for Phish- they were great live).

Now, I am reminded of how wonderful it once was to be young and care free. When I would travel many miles to see a concert and made an annual ritual out of going to the Grateful Dead shows in Las Vegas- which happened to always coincide with the weekend before finals week in college. The Giants, in a little over a week, are having a Jerry Garcia Tribute Night and I am jealous, envious and beside myself. I stare at the picture above and find myself wanting it- a ceramic bouncing head masterpiece.

Why, oh why, did they put him in a Giants jacket?.... dammit!

Former Dodger Coach Elected to Polish Hall of Fame

Danny Ozark, a former coach under Walter Alston, just this past month was inducted into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, he had passed away a year before at the age of 85, but that didn't stop folks from celebrating his life and accomplishments.

Tom Paciorek, a former Dodger player, was on hand. I'll let the press release I received tell the story.
"Paciorek, kept the audience lively with stories of hasty dugout snacks, some prudent and mostly clandestine. He recalled what a tremendous influence Ozark had in his career and life. “I learned how to play first base from Danny Ozark when I just came up to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1973,” Paciorek added.

Paciorek told of the Chicago Connie’s Pizza chronicles. He needed no further prompting as he enthusiastically said, “We used to hide Connie’s Pizza’s in the umpires’ room at old Comiskey Park. There would be five or six of the big pies, thick and very Chicago style. As long as we left one, (emphasizing one), for the umpires post game snack, the custom was accepted and continued. If you weren’t playing, you could pop in and out and get some pie. It was the third inning and the batboy poked his head in and whispered, Wimpy they want you to pinch hit for Kittle (Ron Kittle), he’s got a migraine. Man, I had a Connie’s in my hand, (gesturing with his index finger and thumb, spread to the maximum). This is not convenient. I go out, look at Kittle, and he just puts his head down. I am snarling. I get my bat and helmet. Again, I look at Kittle, he looks down……I walk up to the plate, and just like that, WHOOSH, ….strike one. Before you can blink….WOOSH again and WOOSH a third time. STRIKE THREE. I walk back to the dugout throwing my helmet and bat. I go right up to Kittle….and I say…..Kittle, you could have done that.
The baseball conversation always got back to Ozark memories. The informal dais became brighter as Greg Luzinski reveled in the humanistic coaching techniques that Ozark employed in the big leagues. “The Phillies would not have had the great 70s teams if it wasn’t for Danny Ozark,” said Luzinski. “We had some great horsepower but it was Skip (Ozark), who kept the personalities together.”

The Sym-Phony Band

Here is a great color drawing of the old Brooklyn Dodger fan conceived Sym-Phony Band, via eBay. I don't know if this is rare or who the artist is, S. Rini, but it is sure is nice.

Back in Brooklyn, Dodger fandom was more fanatic and ridiculous than you can imagine. They had the infamous superfan Hilda Chester at the ready with her cowbell in hand and her mouth ready to scream out orders. Then, in the mid-30's a group of fans brought in their instruments and played them to their hearts content during games. They were named the Sym-Phony Band by announcer Red Barber in 1939. As the story goes, a group of patrons arrived at a game one afternoon with their instruments after a planned picnic had gone bust. Initially they were refused entry so they ditched their instruments in a hiding spot. Then, once they got in they went to the rear of the stadium and hauled them up to themselves with a rope. It didn't take long for Branch Rickey to recognize their popularity with the fans. So, he gave them their own row of seats in the aptly named Section 8.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Welcome to the Blue, Scott and Lisa!

The Dodgers made a trade this afternoon. They sent minor leaguers Lucas May and Elisaul Pimental to the Kansas City Royals for left fielder Scott Podsednik. He is currently having a strong season as the Royals leadoff hitter. Scott is batting .309, with 44 RBI's, 30 stolen bases and 46 runs. On top of that, he is hitting .330 with runners in scoring position. Overall, I like the pick up, but it remains to be seen if we gave too high a return for him. May and Pimental are pretty good prospects. Nevertheless, this really helps with Manny out of commission, and strengthens the bench when he returns.

The best news, though, is that along with Scott we can welcome former July 1998 playmate and wife, Lisa Dergan Podsednik, into Dodger Nation. Check out her SI's WAG (Wives and Girlfriends) feature here.
(pic link: Sports Illustrated)

RIP: Billy Loes

Former Dodger hurler Billy Loes passed away yesterday, via the NY Times. He pitched 6 years for Brooklyn while recording 50 wins and 26 losses. His Dodger ERA was 3.86. Billy was instrumental to the teams 3 pennant wins and the only Brooklyn World Series in 1955.

Billy Loes was known as a bit eccentric and has some choice quotes to prove it:
  • On why he didn't want to be a 20 game winner, "because then I'd be expected to do it every year.
  • "The Mets are a very good thing. They give everybody a job. Just like the W.P.A. (Works Project Association)." Loes was sold to the Mets, but he chose to retire instead.
  • On losing a ground ball during the 1952 World Series he said, "I lost it in the sun."
  • "Go ahead, write what you want about me and say I said it. You’ve been doing it right along anyway."
Hat Tip: Dodger Thoughts:

2010 Topps Tribute: Dodger Inserts

Here are pics of some of the Dodger insert cards in the newly released 2010 Topps Tribute set.
  • Single Relic Game-Used Cards
Don Sutton #TR-DS
Jackie Robinson #TR-JR

Roy Campanella #TR-RCA

Relic Manny Ramirez #TR-MRA

  • Franchise Feats Relic Book Card. This is one complete card that folds together like a book.
Jackie Robinson & Pee Wee Reese #FF-BD47

  • Autographed Single Relic Cards. There is supposedly a Johnny Podres card, but I have yet to see one.
Duke Snider #TAR-DS

Clayton Kershaw #TAR-CS
  • Autographed Triple Relic Cards
Duke Snider #TATR-DS

Manny Ramirez #TATR-MR

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Legendary Auction: Jackie's Bag

I'm sure you've seen the photo, now you can bid on the bag. Legendary Auctions has Jackie Robinson's equipment bag that was once used by him during his playing days. It has also been purported to be the bag he held in the below famous photo of him as he leaves the Dodger clubhouse for good.
I know it's hard to tell, but this looks like the same bag. Look at the blow-up below. You can faintly see the marking of Jackie's #42 and the Dodger script below it.
Anyway, this is a great vintage item that belongs in some museum somewhere. Maybe some benefactor will take it home and put it in a Dodger exhibit so that we can all enjoy it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

2010 Topps Tribute: Dodger Base Cards

Topps newest Baseball card set has just gone live. Topps Tribute is a higher end card set filled with autographs and relic/ game-used cards. Boxes run for about $230 to $250 each for only 6 packs, and each pack is guaranteed one hit. So you should walk away with 3 auto's and 3 relic cards in each box. The base set only has 100 cards, but comes with several parallel cards in shades of blue, black, gold, B&W, red and gold. Below are all of the Dodger cards in the base set. As you can tell, this set leans heavily towards retired stars and Hall of Famers with only a handful of current roster players. In this case, only Manny has a base card for the Dodgers. See a full checklist here.

Roy Campanella #6
Jackie Robinson #9
Pee Wee Reese #14

Manny Ramirez #61

Tribute to the Stars
Jackie Robinson #78

Furillo Gets a Physical

Dodger right fielder looks concerned as his 5 1/2 year old son examines him in preparation for the 1956 World Series, via eBay.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Blog Kiosk: 7/25/2010

Congratulations to Andre Dawson, Whitey Herzog and Doug Harvey on their induction into the Hall of Fame today.
  • Check out this new documentary called “Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story” at a screening near you, via Baseball Musings.
  • Dick Perez has a new book coming out that features his Baseball artwork. It is a retrospective that includes over 1400 works of art by Perez in 560 pages. Go here to check it out.
  • LAist reports on the first Dodger Stadium Flea Market.
  • Seat Geek analyzes the Dodger-Giant rivalry by comparing the secondary market for tickets.
  • Check out these incredible photos of stormy skies throughout the world, via
  • Willie Davis singing "That's the Way the Ball Bounces" from a 1963 album.

YouTube Link:
  • Maury Wills sings "Somebody's Keeping Score" from the same album as above.

YouTube Link:

Vintage Dodger Snapshot: Ron Cey's Big Hair

Ron Cey with his long bushy hair poses for a fan in this vintage snapshot, via eBay.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Loney Power

James joins in on the fun.

Living Through the Photos of Others: Comic-Con Baby!

Comic-Con San Diego is in full swing as pics slowly start to trickle in online. Check out what I've found so far.

For a full slate of photos check out what Fox5 San Diego has to offer on flickr. They've got celebrities, super heroes, monsters & aliens, and a great set of pics filled with the babes of Comic-con.

If your just looking for the photos of the fairer sex then check out this pool featuring only the ladies of comic-con.

Diegourias has even more pics of the show here.
(pic link: flickr: diegourias)

Here are 2 different sets from valincourt 1 & 2. Ryan G. Biv has some right here.

(pic link: flickr: valincourt)

Campanella Enjoyed 1955

Roy Campanella had a year many ballplayers can only dream of. In 1955 Roy Campanella won the MVP award while helping to steer the Brooklyn Dodgers towards their first World Series championship. In the below AP press photo found on eBay he shows his delight as he reminisces about the past season with his MVP award, game bat and ball from that magical year.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Follow the Dodgers

I just came across this youtube video of Gladys Gooding's recording of "Follow the Dodgers." Since it is "55 Since 55 Night" I realized immediately that I should post this up right away. Go here for my previous post about this great old song.

YouTube Link:

55 Since 55 Night

Tonight should be a great evening at Dodger Stadium as they celebrate the 1955 World Series Champion Brooklyn Dodgers. It is "55 Since 55 Night." The first 20,000 patron receive the above poster. Better yet, Don Newcombe will be throwing out the first pitch past an original home plate from Ebbets Field, below.
(pic link: Hitpix: DodgerTownUSA)

UPDATE: And I forgot to mention that Nancy Bea Hefley will be playing the organ all night long. No pre-recorded music to get in the way of a classic night of Dodger Baseball. Check out Chris at his blog,, and twitter as he shadows Nancy all night long.

My Own Through the Mail Success

Since I've gotten on to the topic of writing letters to ballplayers I though I would share one of my own experiences. It was the mid-80's and I was already a very active Baseball card collector in my early teens.

One afternoon I read an article in Beckett magazine about sending letters and receiving autographs back from current and former ballplayers. A smile immediately came across my face as I decided that this was something I needed to try. So, I begged my Dad to buy me a bunch of stamps and I went to work as I wrote letter after letter to some current and former ballplayers.

For several months I continued on this quest, but soon stopped. I don't recall the exact reason, but I'm sure it had something to due with general laziness. Anyway, of all the responses I did get back, and I did receive plenty, one stands alone as unforgettable.

A year after I had already stopped sending letters, I received a white envelope with a strange address emblazoned on it from Pennsylvania. I opened it up and found the following card- a 1986 Topps mini of Mike Schmidt signed by the soon-to-be Hall of Famer.
Wow! I thought. I had forgotten all about writing to him. Considering that my letter was probably one of tens of thousands I was grateful to get any response back.

The most memorable thing about Schmidt's envelope, though, was the type written letter he included. Check it out below. Click the pic to enlarge it. No one else had taken the time to actually write back. Of course, I didn't often ask any questions. I just requested their signature. Nevertheless, the thoughtfulness and time he took to do this still strikes me as remarkable. From that day on Mike Schmidt became one of my favorites.

Baseball by the Letters

Writing a letter is a lost art. When was the last time you sent a letter to a close friend or distant relative? Anyone have a pen-pal you correspond with regularly? I don't mean those folks you have friended on facebook. I mean actually sending a note, written in your own hand, through the mail.

I realize that this is foreign to most kids today. After all, in todays' world why bother putting it down from pen to paper when you can just send a quick email with all of the shorthanded jive and immediate response it brings?

I'll tell you this, though, when you send a nicely written letter to an old-time Baseball player you might be surprised at the response you get. Last year, I wrote a large number of post focused on fan letters written to former Dodger players. Check out my Dodger Correspondence label to check them out. Another, even better resource, is a new blog called "Baseball by the Letters" written by Tom Owens which focuses almost exclusively on the art of the fan letter. Check it out here.

In fact, for the Dodger fan you should check out Tom's series of post focused on a lengthy letter he recently received from former Los Angeles Dodger hurler Stan Williams. When asked about his favorite home run (Williams hit 5 as a Dodger which is pretty good for a pitcher) he responds with a great story about hitting one off of Sal "The Barber" Maglie. Let your imagine run wild as to why they called him "The Barber." Read it here. Here is a teaser,
"Now at the plate, Maglie threw 2 curves, both strikes, then facing home plate, both hands in air, he called 'time out.' "
Be sure to read it all, it had me laughing real good. There is also a part 1 to Stan Williams letter, here, that is a bit enlightening considering the Kershaw fiasco the other day.
"If someone needed to be hit, you got him in the ribs or butt."
Tom promises more from the pitcher in the near future.

A Dodger Bolo Tie

If you search the online auctions long enough you are certain to run into something new. Here is, what looks like, a vintage LA Dodgers bolo tie. It has a brawny batter swinging for the fences. There are no markings on the reverse. I can imagine wearing this with denim jeans, a button up shirt and a cowboy hat so that you can call me the Dodger Cowboy.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Nice Win!

Two wins in a row on two great pitching performances by Billingsley and Kuroda. I'm lovin' how this team is competing. After a game where the Keystone Cops ruled the day, the Dodgers show some fight. They can win this thing, and they know it. They just needed a little wake up call. Maybe Kershaw's message pitch and the ensuing ejections and mayhem has lit a fire under this team?

On a side note, Beto Duran shares a interesting photo on twitter.
"Manny Ramirez has started leaving his autograph in dugouts around the league including the Dodgers."

The Aura of the Brooklyn Dodger Collectible Market

As a Southern California based Dodger fan in my late 30's, my only experiences with the team has been on the West Coast. I am far too young to have been a Brooklyn fan and have never personally ventured out there in my soon to be 40 years. Yet, I find myself having a strong connection to those "Boys of Summer." As a collector, this means that I have naturally gravitated towards Brooklyn collectibles, and the marketplace reflects that I may not be the only one.

Collectors Weekly explores this and wonders aloud why it is that Brooklyn memorabilia remains strong even after it left the borough over 50 years ago.
So why is Brooklyn Dodgers memorabilia so collectible? After all, Walter O’Malley turned his back on the city after the 1957 season and left for sunny Southern California, where there was less market competition and warmer weather but lukewarm fans, who, even today, routinely show up for games in the fourth inning. While the team played in Brooklyn, they won exactly one World Series Championship. Since their departure, they have won five in Los Angeles, yet the West Coast version of the team garners far less attention among collectors than “Dem Bums,” as they were affectionately known, from Brooklyn.
I do have a little bone to pick about the statement "lukewarm fans", nevertheless, it is an interesting question. Will Brooklyn material remain strong as former Brooklynites die, or will we see an inevitable decline in values over time? Read the story for their insight.

My thoughts are that LA based fans will probably pick up the slack. The history and majesty of the Brooklyn team has transfered to the West Coast as a part of our legacy. As I had written in my "About Me" section,
"The history of the team, that binds us all together, is vast and storied. It was born out of the Victorian Era, resided in an immigrant culture emblematic of our past and traveled across great lands westward like the settlers of old. When you watch the Dodgers it’s easy to see them as ourselves."
The mystic of the Brooklyn Dodgers, I don't believe, will ever die.

Vintage Spokesman: Campy Exalts LIFE

Roy Campanella writes about the wonders of life in Life Magazine, circa 1954.
I have more reasons than most people for liking LIFE.
As a ball player, as a parent, and as a businessman... I like LIFE.

For one thing, I was lucky enough to have my picture on the cover last year, and I have never received so many letter in my life. One man in Westchester- I think he was an auto dealer- bought a lot of copies and sent them to me to autograph, I made it my business to sign them after the Christmas holidays as I did many of the other requests. It was surprising how many forwarded the actual picture in LIFE for the autograph.
Click on the pic below to read more from Campy.
(click pic to enlarge)
(eBay Auction Link)

Collection: N28 More Billiards

Here are some more vintage Allen & Ginter N28's from my set. These are the remaining 6 billiards & pool players that I have. Click on them to enlarge. They had all been graded by SGC when I purchased them as a lot on eBay some 5 to 6 years ago. I remember it being a pretty good deal at the time. (I usually could care less about card grading, but If I had to use those services then SGC is always my first choice for vintage cards.)

Funny thing, though, is that now that I review my set I find that I am missing 1 billiards player, named J. Schaefer. I had originally thought I had all the non-Baseball players in my set, but, alas, this apparently is not true. Fortunately, it shouldn't be very costly to pick one up in decent shape. So, this leaves my current set just 8 cards short of total completion.

Jackie on the Dirt

Here is an interesting 1951 press photo showing Jackie Robinson laying prone on the infield dirt. Monte Irvin of the New York Giants looks over his right shoulder towards Jackie as he heads onto second base. I'm not sure if Robinson snagged the ball, or dove and missed. All I know is that my imagination is running wild. Maybe Irvin hit a liner to the gap for a double and Jackie is snagging an errant throw from right fielder Carl Furillo. Who knows? This great photo was found on eBay.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Uncle Robbie and his Dogs

Dated a little over a year before he passed away, Wilbert "Uncle Robbie" Robinson sits on his porch with his trusted dogs below. It is a Wide World Press Photo from 1/7/1933. By this time he had retired from the game. Robinson managed the Brooklyn team from 1914 to 1931, and was so beloved they nicknamed the team the Robins in his honor. He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1945.