Monday, April 30, 2012

2012 Gypsy Queen- Dodgers Inserts & Relics

 Following up on my two previous post (here and here) featuring Dodgers cards from 2012 Topps Gyspy Queen set, I wanted to highlighting some of the inserts and relic cards that can be found in it.  As always, click on any pic to embiggen.

Below are the cards of Jackie Robinson and Sandy Koufax from the Hallmark Heroes subset. There are 15 different players featured in the set.

Dee Gordon and Matt Kemp are a part of the  15 card Sliding Stars subset.
These next two insert cards are probably my favorite relics in the set.  These are Indian Head Penny Relic cards.  As you can see a real vintage Indian Head coin is inserted within the card.  There are 100 different players in this subset, and they are limited to just 10 copies each.  Four Dodgers are represented: Jackie Robinson, Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw (not shown) and Sandy Koufax (not shown).

RIP Moose Skowron

As many of you know already, former Dodger Moose Skowron died this past Friday.  Although he didn't wear Dodger Blue for a very long time (only the 1963 season) he did have a huge impact on the team.  He was traded to the Dodgers by the Yankees and proceeded to have a dismal season at the plate, but came alive during the World Series against the Yankees.  He batted .385 with a home run as the Dodgers swept the Yanks in 4 games.

Anyway, this morning I received the below obituary on Moose Skowron from Raymond Rolak with instructions that it would be OK to reprint it.  Since I failed to find a copy of it online I figured I should post it up in its entirety.  Mr. Rolak is a past Chariman of the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame and a veteran broadcaster.

By Raymond Rolak
Past Chairman of the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame and veteran sports broadcaster
Stan Musial and Moose Skowron.
New York--  Bill “Moose” Skowron, 81, passed recently after a lifetime connected with baseball. He professed a love for his hometown of Chicago and his Polish heritage. Skowron, who had been ailing, suffered from congestive heart failure complicated by lung cancer. He had been a patient at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

“There weren’t many better guys than Moose,” said former teammate Yogi Berra. “He was a dear friend and a great team man and a darn good ballplayer, too.” Most recently Skowron had been a community ambassador for the Chicago White Sox.

When the announcement of Skowron’s passing came, the Yankees remembered their former first baseman before they took on the Detroit Tigers in their scheduled games at Yankee Stadium. “He was great to be around,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Very energetic, went to some of the fantasy camps we put on, we’d see him every year we went to Chicago. He was so very popular at the old-timers games here. He had a real zest for life. Loved the game, (he) loved to talk about the game.”

Everyone affectionately knew him as Moose and he was known for his great baseball stories along with the reputations of being one of the best clutch hitters of all time. He had tremendous success in the post season, earning five World Series rings, four with the New York Yankees and one with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

His one year stint with the Dodgers brought him a new kind of notoriety. “After we won the ‘63’ Series a group of us were brought out to Las Vegas for a week of stage performances. We had singing, skits and jokes for a week, two shows a night, with big crowds,” he had told me in a 2005 interview. Skowron was also featured in a “Mr. Ed” television episode with Leo Durocher and was highlighted or appeared eight times on “The Ed Sullivan Show” national telecasts.

Skowron starred with the Yankees from 1954 to 1962 before playing with the Dodgers, White Sox, Angels and the expansion Washington Senators. He was an All-Star pick in six of his 14 major league career seasons.

Another teammate and NPASHF inductee (1982), Toney Kubek, spoke fondly of Skowron, “Casey Stengel had us room together on the road. Stengel wanted me with a winner, with a mentor who was a consummate professional and knew how to win championships. And that’s what Moose was.” Kubek who had a second career as a national baseball broadcaster added, “Moose ate the same pregame meal everyday when we were on the road. He started with a salad and then a hamburger-steak smothered in onions and finished with a small chocolate ice cream-sundae. I don’t know how he did that but it never varied,” said the smiling Kubek.

Injuries took a toll on Skowron’s statistics. In 1955 he was plagued by a torn thigh muscle and was out for more than 40 games. In 1957 he missed 30 games after damaging his back lifting an air conditioner. The collision he had with Coot Veal of the Tiger’s at first base in 1959 broke his arm and he was out for more than half the season.

As a story teller, Skowron was the best and he always tried to put an optimistic spin on past events. He had told me about his struggles to stay in the lineup. This was the advice he shared with me that he had received from Wally Pipp, a Yankee first baseman of days gone by.

Skowron recalled, “I met Pipp at an Old-Timers’ Day at Yankee Stadium. “Don’t ever get a headache or catch a cold. I got a headache once and took a day off and never played again. A guy named Lou Gehrig took my place.” After sharing this with me, Skowron waited for the laugh, “I made sure from that day on to do everything I could to remain healthy.”

Born William Joseph Skowron in Chicago with humble upbringings he went to Purdue on a football scholarship. He signed with the Yankees in 1950 after hitting .500 in his sophomore Big Ten baseball season. He played shortstop for Purdue. His college baseball coach at Purdue was also an assistant football coach, Hank Stram (NPASHF 1985). He had a spectacular season as Minor League Player of the Year in 1952 for the Triple-A Kansas City Blues but didn’t crack the Yankees lineup until 1954.

Richard Lally wrote in the book, “Bombers: An Oral History of the New York Yankees” some reflections from Frank Lary, the Detroit Tigers’ pitcher known as the Yankee Killer. “Skowron was a smart hitter, went with the pitch, thought along with the pitcher, and could hit the long ball the other way as hard as anyone. And Moose was underrated as a fielder at first base. He had real soft hands and could dig tough chances out of the dirt.” What many didn’t know was that the Yankees had paid for dance lessons in the 1952 off-season for Skowron to get his footwork faster as he transitioned from an outfielder to a great fielding first baseman.

Another former teammate Ralph Terry said, “Moose was a Yankee all the way. He was a true professional who always worked hard and took the game as serious business. I am proud to have been able to call him a good friend. I remember during spring training when I was 18; he took me for my first pizza-pie.”

It was Chicago that loved him the most. He was a native son. I shaved four times the night I went to dinner with Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio,” said Moose. He told the story smiling with a big grin so many times when he was speaking in front of a fraternal group or at a youth sports banquet.

After his playing days, Skowron stayed involved in baseball, and was in great demand as a speaker recalling his storied days of Yankee experiences. Some of his most appreciative audiences were present day major league players. Also in his later years, sometimes at White Sox games he would call bingo in Polish on the right field patio porch at U.S. Cellular Field.

Wally Ozog, former Polish Roman Catholic Union of America National President remembered Skowron as a gentle ambassador for the PRCUA. “Skowron went to the old Archbishop Weber High School in Chicago, class of 1948 and excelled in football and basketball. They didn’t have a baseball team then. Edward Dykla who had taught at Weber got him enrolled with the PRCUA,” said Ozog. “Moose always was a great help with any request and was a regular at Polish Night at old Comisky Park.”

Native Detroiter and famed White Sox pitcher Billy Pierce said, “Moose was a champion in the game of life. He will be sorely missed.” He was inducted into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame in 1980.

Skowron is survived by his wife Lorraine “Cookie,” and adult children Lynette, Greg and Steve along with four grand-children. He has one surviving brother, Edward. Visitation was at the Colonial-Wojciechowski Funeral Home in Niles, Illinois. A Requiem Mass of Resurrection was held at the Queen of All Saints Basilica in Chicago.

REA: Some Dick Perez Originals

The most anticipated sports memorabilia auction is now under way, and I plan on posting extensively on it.  It is filled with so much Baseball goodness, I just can't flip through the catalog without sharing some of the beauties within it. 

This weekend I picked up my Robert Edwards Auction (REA) catalog and will start off my posting by highlighting the works of sports artist Dick Perez. As many card collectors will recall, Perez's artwork has been associated with Baseball cards since the early days of Donruss. Along with his partners (Frank & Peggy Steele) they produced paintings of current players of the time that would be reproduced and inserted in to packs of cards.  On top of that, they produced a limited postcard set that is still highly sough after in the hobby. 

Below are two separate auctions of original paintings done by Perez.  These paintings were produced for his recently book titled, "The Immortals: An Art Collection of Baseball's Best," and feature some of the more important figures in Baseball history.  In all, nearly 200 original Perez paintings are in this auction.  Click on any pic to embiggen.

The below grouping is part of a 17 painting lot focused on "Baseball Origins" from 1869 to 1900. 

This grouping is especially related to the Dodgers.  The 14 painting lot focuses on the "War and Post War Years- 1941-1957." As you might expect, several Dodgers are represented.

Blog Kiosk: 4/30/2012

WooHoo!!!!  McCourt No More!!!  Via Tim Brown, the Dodgers sale closes today.
  • Big League Sports catches up with Dodgers coach Charlie Hough as a new documentary called "Knuckleball" hits the film festival circuit.
Did you ever think you would be the subject of a feature film?
A horror show maybe, but no never a film. The documentary is really the story of all those who have thrown it to varying degrees of success and really our common stories of how we got to be knuckleballers. I think it’s neat and I hope people enjoy it. It’s not your average sports film.
  • Has Javy Guerra been hit with the Snuggie curse?  Check out Sons of Steve Garvey for details.
  • True to the Blue recaps the Kemp and Ethier signings at Frank & Sons, and shares some great photos.  LA Blue Crew was at Autograph Alley at Dodger Stadium for the Tommy Davis signing on Saturday and Billy Ashley on Sunday.
  • Ken Levine, the DodgerTalk former host, put up some great pics from the recent Doo Dah Parade in Pasadena this past weekend.
  • This past weekend saw the Dodgers sweep the Nationals.  "Chris Capuano and James Loney lead the way on Sunday, via Steve Dilbeck of the LA Times.
  • With the Dodgers sale closing today I would suspect that the rumors related to the Dodgers extending Ethier will soon become reality.  MLB Trade Rumors notes that it could be up to a 5 year deal at $15Mil a year.
  • Sports Collectors Daily follows up on the Ted Williams Collection auction held by Hunt.  It recently closed and featured his 1949 MVP Trophy that sold for $299,000.00.
  • Do you remember when back in 1997 David Wells came onto the mound wearing Babe Ruth's game-used cap?  Well, that same cap is now on auction at SCP, via the New York Times
Wells said he wanted it to “look like a major league field,” and hopes to finance the renovations (at Point Loma High School in San Diego- his Alma Mater) partly with a portion of the proceeds from a memorabilia auction. Wells’s lot includes the 1930s Babe Ruth cap he bought for $35,000 and wore in the first inning of a game at Yankee Stadium
  • "Party With My Friends" A Star Wars sing along.

Video Link:

    Dodger Coorespondence: Walter O'Malley Pleads His Case

    It has become sacrosanct that O'Malley was the villain who took the beloved Dodgers away from Brooklyn.  He stole the hearts of the borough by following the financial gravy train to the West Coast.  We know now, of course, that there was much more at play.  The Dodgers were unable to secure the right to built a new stadium in Brooklyn and scoffed at the idea of moving the team out of their home city. 

    Heck, you could say that he did everything he could to keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn.  As the following letter below, that is available from Heritage Auctions and written by Walter O'Malley to a desperate fan, can attest.
    (Auction Link)

    O'Malley writes back: 
    "I have your letter, but I wonder how carefully you read the newspapers. They very clearly stated that we want to keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn and were willing to spend $5,000,000 to do so. Progress, however, has been very slow and we will have to leave Brooklyn if there is not to be a new stadium when our present lease runs out."

    Friday, April 27, 2012

    Sneak Peek: Mike Scioscia's Bobblehead

    Here is a sneak peek at the Dodgers bobblehead for Mike Scioscia, as found on the Dodgers twitter feed. This will be given out to fans attending the June 12th game against the Angels.
    (Pic via twitter @Dodgers)

    Blog Kiosk: 4/27/2012

    Check out this vintage game-used bat that once graced the hands of Jackie Robinson.  It was used during the 1953 Baseball season, and is available at auction through MEARS.  They tend to specialize in game-used uniforms and equipment.  See the auction here- it closes tomorrow evening.
    The Dodgers want to repay their fans who were inconvenienced by Mother Nature on Wednesday night.

    Ticket stubs from the Dodgers’ rainy 4-2 loss (4/25) to the Atlanta Braves can be redeemed for free reserve-level tickets to a May 14 game against the Arizona Diamondbacks or a May 31 game against the Milwaukee Brewers.
    Ticket stubs from April 13 can also be exchanged for May 14 or May 31 tickets.

    Exchanges can be made at the advance ticket window at Dodger Stadium’s parking lot P between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. from Monday through Saturday.
    • 89.33 KPCC recently broadcast and is running a story online about a new book by writer, producer, and lifelong Dodgers fan Paul Haddad. In Haddad’s new book, “High Fives, Pennant Drives, and Fernandomania,” he focuses on the “glory years” of his childhood team, which spans from 1977 to 1981.  They have a nice, lengthy feature complete with audio from classic Dodger games and excerpts from the book.  Go here.  Below is a sample of one of the recordings.

    • MLB's oldest living ballplayer turned 101 yesterday.  Happy belated birthday, Connie Marrero.  (Hat Tip: Huffington Post)
    • Via Jon Weisman at Dodger Thoughts we learn that the upcoming film about Jackie Robinson called "42" is set to be released on April 12, 2013.
    • Juuust a Bit Outside visits Fort Wayne, Indiana and shares a pic of a statue of Dodgers great Carl Erskine that is located there.
    • Beyond the Boxscore takes a look at Yu Darvish's mystery pitch- the "shuuto."
    • Upper Deck continues its blog series on "How to Open a Trading Card Shop" with a recent story on selling supplies.
    • Topps will have a new Wacky Packages set out in July and Beckett has some preview pics.  These cards are a crack-up.  See a couple examples below.

    • The schedule for the Kings vs. St. Louis Blues second round match-up of the NHL playoffs has just been released.  The first game is tomorrow evening.  See the schedule, here.
    • A close friend recently co-wrote a short film with actress Catherine Dent called "Silk," and is currently soliciting funds to pay for its filming.  From my friends email to me. 
    The script was included as part of Catherine's application to the AFI Directing Workshop for Women, and she was chosen as one of eight directors out of hundreds of applicants to participate in the program.  The film SILK, which calls attention to the scourge that is child marriage, will be shot this summer and screened here in L.A. before it goes worldwide and is banned in multiple countries.

    AFI provides us with the equipment to shoot the film, but they also require us to raise the funds to pay for everything else.  So this morning we launched our web page at Kickstarter.
     Go here to help this worthwhile venture

    2012 Gypsy Queen- Dodgers Autographs

    Following up on my post from earlier this week, check out the inserted Dodgers autograph cards that can be found in packs of Topps 2012 Gypsy Queen cards.  BTW, if you want to see a complete checklist of the set go here.

    Before I get to the cards I wanted to note that there are numerous Matt Kemp autographs in the set, but none of them have been inserted into packs.  Instead, a redemption card is included that would need to be sent to Topps for later delivery.  From all accounts, Kemp has yet to sit down and do a signing for Topps this season, so we will all have to wait until he has that opportunity to do a signing.  Now, on to the cards.

    GQA-AET Andre Ethier

    GQA-CK Clayton Kershaw

    GQA-NE Nathan Eovaldi

    GQA-SK Sandy Koufax

    Dual Autograph Relic Card
    GQDAR-GE Steve Garvey - Andre Ethier 

    This card looks a bit weird as Topps used different stickers for the autographs.  There is also a triple autograph relic card that features Kemp, Reggie Jackson and Ken Griffey, Jr. that is available through a redemption card.

    Hunt Auctions: A Vintage Ticket and Scorecard

    It's feels like it's been a long time since I've posted about some upcoming auctions featuring Brooklyn Dodgers vintage memorabilia.  I've just been sidetracked by other things.  Fortunately, the light at the end of the tunnel is fast approaching, so I'll be able to point out some of my favorite items over the next coming weeks.  In fact, with spring auction fever in full bloom I just may overdo it. 

    I'll start with Hunt Auctions and their regular internet offerings.  Below is a 1904 scorecard from a game between the Brooklyn Superbas (a precursor to the Dodgers) and the Boston Beaneaters (the old Atlanta Braves team).  It is from a Dodgers home field at Washington Park, and showcases starting pitcher Ned Garvin on the cover. 

    Vintage tickets are not my main cup of tea, but I do enjoy their uniqueness when they look like the ticket below.  Here is a 1938 ticket stub from Ebbets Field for "Night Game 7."  It is die-cut to look like a Baseball atop a light bulb.  BTW, this is just 3 years after night Baseballs introduction into the game by the Cincinnati Reds at Crosley Field in 1935.

    Thursday, April 26, 2012

    Blog Kiosk 4/26/2012:

    Topps on twitter recently shared some photos from the bowels of their offices in Duryea, PA.  It included pics of some game-used jersey's they use to put into cards.  Check out the Dee Gordan gamer above (pic via @Topps twitter), and a huge stockpile of gamers below (pic via @Topps twitter).
    • I sympathize with what Jon is saying at Dodger Thoughts.  I too would keep a caught foul ball, and would never consider handing it over to anybody. 
    • Greg, why do you taunt me so?  He post up a recent autographed card of former Dodgers prospect Carlos Santana at Plaschke, Thy Sweater is Argyle.  He would have been a very formidable bat in our lineup.
    • Guerra passes a concussion test after being whacked in the face by a hard liner, via True Blue LA.
    • The screaming about Javy Guerra is a bit irrational.  Remember, patience is a virtue in Baseball.  Steve Dilbeck seems to agree as he writes that "Javy Guerra Has Earned the Right to Rebound as Dodgers Closer."
    Sure, watch him closely, but this is a guy who has only been on the job for four months. Cut him some slack.

    All he did last year was convert 21 of 23 save opportunities. He’s 7 of 9 this year. Not exactly the same as last season, but it doesn’t mean the sky is falling.
    • DodgersBobble was at the Angels FanFest last weekend and has his story and a  bunch of pictures to prove it.  Unfortunately, I had no idea this event was going on, so apologize for not listing it on my calendar.  RBI Collecting has their own post up about the Angels FanFest.
    • Left Field Pavilion beautifies a Jon SooHoo pic of Andre Ethier, here.
    • I could watch this for hours.  The USC Song Girls were at Dodger Stadium and here's a video to prove it.  I didn't go to USC, but I have to say that I have always loved their fight song. 
    • FanGraphs interviews Ralph Branca.
    DL: How big was baseball in New York in the 1940s and 1950s?

    RB: It was really big. We had three teams and it was the only time a city ever had three teams. There were three different rooting interests and everybody was a real, real fan of their team. Giants fans were big for the Giants, and the same for Yankees and Dodgers fans. Everybody thought their team was the greatest.
    • The very first sketch of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is set to go on auction, via The Sun.  Click on the pic to embiggen.

      Collection: Schmoll SPX

      Here is another 2005 Upper Deck SPx autographed card in my collection.  As I had previously mentioned, I love this design.  On top of that, the Dodgers autograph checklist (there are 9 total) features several promising young Dodgers.  All of whom either starred for other teams or sputtered out.  That being said, several current Dodger stars were a little too young to be included.  Which is too bad.  They would have looked great on these cards.  Sometimes, when I'm bored at night thinking about it, I imagine what it might look like to have either Matt Kemp or Clayton Kershaw emblazoned on front.  Oh well, maybe a a future heritage version might be in the works when (or if) Upper Deck gets back its Baseball license. 

      This card is of former Dodgers reliever Steve Schmoll.  In the past I've shown both the Russell Martin and Jason Werth cards.  See those previous post here and here.  So far I am missing just one more Dodger autograph to complete this little subset- the card of former starter DJ Houlton.  Fortunately, the Houlton is far from rare.

      BTW, Schmoll was the very first Logan White signing to make it to the pro's. He was signed as a free agent out of college by White before the 2003 draft, and played for the Dodgers before Broxton was called up.

      Wednesday, April 25, 2012

      Monday's Flag Day

      Today is the Dodgers unofficial Flag Day celebration, and we have Rick Monday to thank for that.

      Below, Rick Monday describes exactly what happened in Dodger Stadium on April 25, 1976.

      Video Link:

      Weekend Autograph Opportunities: Nothing But Dodgers

      Here are this weekends autograph opportunities throughout the Southland. As always, be sure to check the Blue Heaven Calendar for other events (a link can always be found on the tab at the top of this page, just left of center), and always confirm with the establishment. Everything is subject to change.
       As has been a tradition for a while now, the Dodgers will have a former players signing free autographs before home games this coming weekend in Autograph Alley at Dodger Stadium.  Autograph Alley is located in centerfield and is accessible through the rear entrance.  On Sunday all signings are at the Viva Los Doyers celebration in the Dodgers parking lot.  Below is a schedule:
      Al Downing 
      5:10 PM – 6:30 PM
      Tommy Davis 
      4:10 PM – 5:30 PM
      Sunday (at Viva Los Doyers)
      Billy Ashley 
      11:10 PM – 12:30 PM
      Current Dodgers closer Javy Guerra will be signing free autographs at the Shops at Montebello in the Center Court on Saturday.  Go here for details.
      Saturday, April 28, 2012
      11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
      The Shops at Montebello
      at the Center Court

      If what I've listed so far isn't enough then go over to the Frank & Sons Collectible Show in the City of Industry.  Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Dee Gordon are signing.  Flyers are below. Click any of the pics to enlarge.

      Blog Kiosk: 4/25/2012

      Panini unveiled more preview picks of their upcoming 2011 Limited Baseball set that is coming out soon.  See them here.  They showed off a couple of Dodgers autographed prospect cards of Justin Boudreaux and Pratt Maynard.
      • Here's an excellent update from Jon Weisman at Dodger Thoughts on the progress of some Dodger prospects in Albuquerque with the help from Albuquerque sports reporter Christopher Jackson.
      Sands and the Topes’ coaching staff are confident he can turn things around, but lordy, that boy seems stubborn. They tell him “lay off the first pitch” and he goes up and swings away from the start.
      • Go to LFP and check out the Dodger Video that's posted up.  It's incredible.
      • Chad Moriyama thinks the MLB should ban plate collisions and takeout slides.  I wholeheartedly disagree.  I might accept banning home plate collisions, but takeout slides are an integral part of the game.  The idea that a man running towards second base should not be allowed to break up a potential double play is ludicrous. 
      • GCRL shows off some recent "Through The Mail" autographs of some Dodgers.
      • Kevin Nelson at Sports Collectors Digest writes about, "The Importance of Nisei Baseball in Japanese Internment Camps."
      • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Jersey (from GasLamp Ball) recently visited Dodger Stadium and has a post up to prove it.
      • Sports Collectors Daily picks out 5 of the best vintage Baseball card investments.
      • As expected, LA Kings goalie Jonathon Quick has been nominated as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy that is given out to the leagues best goalie, via Kings Insider.
      • Check out this soon-to-be released animated graphic novel called "Bottom of the Ninth" that was created by Ryan Woodward.  It looks great.  Link here.  A preview video trailer is below.
      YUP!  Always dreamed about this when I was a kid….an ANIMATED graphic novel!!!  Took me 40 years to realize this dream, well…40 years of dreaming – 4 insane months of animating, drawing, drinking caffeine, and acting like a 10 year old again.

      Video Link:

      Tuesday, April 24, 2012

      2012 Topps Gypsy Queen- Dodgers Base Cards

      This was probably my favorite Baseball set from last year.  Topps Gypsy Queen is back again in 2012, and it blows away my expectations.  It's just a great looking set. 

      It was officially released last week, so there has been plenty of banter about it already.  Heck, just about every collector blog out there has already posted about it, so I figured I should too.  After all, I don't think there is anything to dislike about it.  The design is flawless, and the painted look of the photographs adds a vintage feel to the cards.  This makes sense since it is fashioned after a card set originally produced in the 1880's.

      Below are the Dodgers base cards within the set.  Furthermore, both Kemp and Kershaw have "short-printed" variations seeded in packs.  Examples of those are below.  As always, parallel versions exist for each card; including mini parallels.

      18 Jackie Robinson

      31 Ted Lilly

      38 James Loney

      44 Matt Kemp
       (On the Left is the Normal Version, On the Right is the Short Printed Card)

      46 Chad Billingsley

      124 Dee Gordon

       135 Clayton Kershaw
       (On the Left is the Normal Version, On the Right is the Short Printed Card)

       233 Duke Snider

      290 Sandy Koufax