Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Kershaw Signing for Topps

Earlier this morning Topps shared the below photo featuring Clayton Kershaw signing his Museum Collection card for all to see. I can't wait for this product to be released in April.

BTW, 2012 Topps Opening Day is officially live today. I don't really understand that set. It uses the exact same design as the recently released flagship Topps Baseball card set, but includes a little Opening Day banner to distinguish itself. I dunno, it seems to me to be a waste of time card set. Of course, a team collector like myself has to have them. Damn you Topps, you act like a drug dealer to my obvious addiction. Only 6 Dodgers are in that set, but I think the Matt Kemp Superstars Celebration insert card might be the best the set offers.

Dodgers Notes from Spring Training- Day 15

Throughout Spring Training the Dodgers PR department sends out helpful daily notes from Camelback Ranch, and I am happy to pass them along.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012 – 1:05 p.m., Phoenix Municipal Stadium
RHP Aaron Harang vs. RHP Tyson Ross
Spring Game 3/Road Game 2
Todays Starting Lineup:
Dodgers: Hairston SS, Gwynn CF, Sands RF, Loney 1B, Mitchell 3B, Kennedy 2B, AJ Ellis C, De Jesus DH, Cory Sullivan LF
A's: Crisp CF, Sogard 3B, Suzuki C, Manny DH, Allen 1B, Pennington SS, Taylor RF, Moss LF, Timmons 2B
Upcoming Spring Training Schedule:
(Andre Ethier swinging at Camelback, via twitter Jon SooHoo/ LA Dodgers 2012)
  • TAKING THIS SHOW ON THE ROAD: The Dodgers leave the friendly confines of Camelback Ranch – Glendale for the first time this spring as they travel to Phoenix Municipal Stadium to take on the Athletics. The two clubs will play again tomorrow in Glendale and will also meet for a three-game Interleague series from June 19-21 at Oakland. The A’s have won 13 of 22 all-time regular season contests between the franchises with the California neighbors splitting their two World Series matchups in 1974 and 1988.
  • A DOWNER: The Dodgers suffered their first defeat of the spring season yesterday as the Giants jumped on Ted Lilly early and beat Los Angeles 8-4 at Camelback Ranch – Glendale. Andre Ethier continued his hot start with a solo home run off Barry Zito to lead off the second inning and has two extra-base hits through his first four Cactus League at-bats. Jerry Hairston Jr. made his Dodger debut yesterday with a hit and an RBI and Juan Uribe reached base in both of his plate appearances in his first spring contest.

  • AARON IT OUT: Aaron Harang makes his Dodger debut this afternoon and is coming off one of the best seasons of his 10-year big league career after leading the Padres with 14 wins and posting a career-low 3.64 ERA in 28 starts last season. Since 2004, Harang ranks among the National League leaders in wins (85, 7th), strikeouts (1,223, 3rd), innings pitched (1,467.2, 4th) and complete games (13, T-7th). Harang will be followed to the hill today by RHP Chris Withrow, RHP Kenley Jansen, LHP Scott Elbert and RHP Javy Guerra.
  • NON-ROSTER SPOTLIGHT: Outfielder Cory Sullivan makes his first start of the Cactus League campaign today in left field and joins the Dodgers after spending the 2011 season with the Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate in Lehigh Valley, PA. The 32-year-old has appeared at all three outfield positions over the course of his big league career, posting a .994 fielding percentage, and has not committed an error at any level since 2008. Sullivan has a .271 career batting average with 10 homers and 97 RBI in 476 games in five Major League seasons with Colorado (2005-08), New York-NL (2009) and Houston (2010).

  • HIGH NUMBERS: The Dodger roster will be augmented today with a pair of right-handers from minor league camp with Francisco Felix (#87) and Shawn Tolleson (#92) making the trip to Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Tolleson was the organization’s Branch Rickey Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season, going a combined 7-2 with 25 saves and a 1.17 ERA in 57 relief appearances with Single-A Great Lakes, Single-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Chattanooga. The 24-year-old averaged 13.7 strikeouts per 9.0 innings across all levels in 2011 (105 SO/69.0 IP) and held opposing hitters to a .206 batting average.
  • HE’S ATHLETIC: The one Dodger most familiar with the Athletics, Mark Ellis, is getting a scheduled off day after starting the club’s first two spring contests at second base. The 34-year-old played for the A’s from 2002-11 before a midseason trade to Colorado last year and is Oakland’s all-time leader in games played (1,021) and home runs (84) as a second baseman. Ellis also holds the second-best all-time fielding percentage as a second baseman (min. 750 games) with a .991 mark in 1,085 games at the position and has posted a fielding percentage of .990 or better in seven consecutive seasons.
  • FATHER’S DAY: The Dodgers have seven players in big league camp whose fathers played in the Majors with three cracking the starting lineup today. Jerry Hairston Jr. will start at shortstop, Tony Gwynn Jr. in center field and Ivan De Jesus will serve as the designated hitter. Also making the trip to Phoenix and hoping to see action this afternoon will be Justin Sellers, whose father Jeff pitched for the Red Sox, Scott Van Slyke, son of three-time All-Star Andy, and Matt Wallach, the son of Dodger Third Base Coach Tim. Dee Gordon, son of Tom “Flash” Gordon, will remain in Glendale this afternoon after starting both of the Dodgers’ first two Cactus League contests at shortstop.

Hake's: Some Negro League Rarities

Following up my post from Monday, I want to take a second look at Hake's current auction by focusing on a handful of great Negro League collectibles within it. As I mentioned previously, Hake's has been an exclusive consignor of Negro League paraphernalia that resided within the collection of Richard Merkin.

Merkin was a American painter and illustrator who taught his craft for over 40 years at the Rhode Island School of Design. His own works reside in the Museum of Modern Art and the Smithsonian Institution. He also wrote for Vanity Fair and illustrated the book "Leagues Apart: The Men and Times of the Negro Leagues." BTW, pop culture enthusiast might find it interesting to know that Merkin appeared on the cover of the Beatles Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band album (back row, right of center).

Anyway, he clearly was fascinated with the Negro League Baseball and when matched with his penchant for collecting vintage photography went on to build one of the more impressive collections ever assembled. Check out just few available in this auction that stuck out to me.

Although slightly faded the below photo doesn't disappoint. It is from 1937 and features five ballplayers from the Cuidad Trujillo ballclub in the Dominican Baseball League. If memory serves correctly, this was a team that was put together by then dictator Rafael Trujillo who wanted to make sure his team won. So, he raided the Negro Leagues and signed a whole bunch of their stars. Of course, since he stacked his team they did win. Various stories exist about this time period with most Negro League players indicating that they were glad to leave the country. Imagine the pressure for a player when you have a guy who might kill you and the entire team if you didn't win. Anyway, featured below are Hall of Famers Cool Papa Bell (on the far left) and Josh Gibson (second on the right).

Here is a 1934 team photo of the Concordia Eagles of Venezuela. It features Hall of Famers Martin Dihigo (back row, third from left) and Josh Gibson (back row, far right). Furthermore, Luis Apricio Sr. (father of the Hall of Famer) is also there. Additionally, this is thought to be the only photo with both Gibson and Dihigo together.

Below is a 1934 team photo of the Bismark Churchills, and if features the great Satchel Paige (top row, at center). This was a semi-pro team that was not a member of any organized league due to its roster of mixed race players. Nevertheless, they won the National Semi-Pro Baseball Tournament in Wichita, Kansas in 1935 with "Satch" on the mound. In fact, Paige thought very highly of this team.
"That Was The Best Team I Ever Saw; The Best Players I Ever Played With. But Who Ever Heard Of Them."
BTW, this team was owned by Neal Churchill who was a local Chrysler car dealer in North Dakota.

This is a team photo of the 1930 Homestead Grays. It has four future Hall of Famers in it: Judy Johnson (top, second from right), Oscar Charleston (bottom row far right), Smokey Joe Williams (top, fourth from right), and Cumberland Posey (top row far right). This club won the Eastern Championship that season.

eBay: "Zim" Then and Now Bobblehead

In light of the recent screams of joy for a recently unveiled promotional game give-away called the "Zimmer Bear" in Tampa Bay, I thought it would be appropriate to show a recent eBay auction I ran into over the weekend. Here is another Tampa Bay game give-away, but this time it is a bobblehead doll of Don Zimmer. I do not know what year it was produced, but I think it deserves to sit on the shelf of any hardcore Dodger bobblehead collector. As you can see it is titled "Zim" Now and Then, and features Don Zimmer in his Rays coaching uniform and his Brooklyn Dodgers threads from way back when. I think this is pretty awesome.