Friday, November 20, 2015

Some Willard Mullin Drawings at SCP Auctions

SCP Auctions is at it again with their 2015 Fall auction and it includes several fantastic original Willard Mullin drawings that I just had to share here.  As you may know, Mullin was an legendary New York area editorial sports cartoonist who was the brainchild of the famous Brooklyn Dodger "Bum." 

At top is probably my favorite of the bunch.  Undated, although suspected to be from late 1954, it features the hearty swing of Roy Campanella.  It it titled "Fate's Left Hand" or "The Hand of Fate," and it includes a comment box pointed at Campy's left hand; noting:
Maybe "they should ought to of had Spooner sooner"... But it says here the focal point of the Dodger hopes lies in Campanella's ailing duke.
Prior to the start of the 1954 season Campanella fractured his hand and tried in vain to play through it.  He lasted until May when he finally had surgery.  Unfortunately, he returned far too early.  He clearly was not fully healed; as evidenced by his inability to firmly grip the bat.  As a result, Campanella went on to have the worst season of his career.  He batted .207 with only 19 home runs.  The Dodgers failed to win the division.  In reference to Spooner, Karl came up from the minors late in the season to win his only two starts in convincing fashion.  If only he was brought in sooner, Spooner might have been enough to give the club another chance at the World Series title.  Check out the auction for the above drawing here.

These next two Mullin drawings are being sold together in one lot. 

The drawing on the left is from 1947 and features the "Bum" discovering the fact that last years club was devoid of power.
My Gosh!  Th' most homers any of our bums got last year wuz ELEVEN!
Then there's speculation that maybe future Hall of Famer Johnny Mize is the answer to the Dodgers' struggles.

The next drawing (on right) is titled "The Wings of Spring."  It notes that the old Spring adage that "the pitchers are ahead of the pitchers" has never been more true.  Apparently, there had been three no-hitters thrown that March already.  The Bum notes:
"But they don't have t'be that far ahead... They might of given us one little scratch single... It's hoomilleratin'"

These final two drawings includes Mullin's mascot for the NY Giants with the Brooklyn "Bum."  Per the auction description:
Drawing on left:  Great piece of 1950's Willard Mullin signed original newspaper artwork entitled "New Man in the Act" pictures the New York Giant mystified by "St. Louis Swifty" doing tricks in front of him. The Brooklyn Bum is in the background saying "Everybody wants t'get in'tha ack".
Drawing on right:  Great piece of 1950's Willard Mullin signed original newspaper artwork featuring the New York Giant and Brooklyn Dodger carrying off a treasure chest as the Pittsburgh Pirate is looking at a treasure map with the Polo Grounds as the treasure's spot while his friend is busy digging an empty hole.

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Discovering Former Dodger Ernie Burch on an 1887 Old Judge Card

Who was Ernie Burch?

I had to find out after running into an 1887 Old Judge Baseball card of this former Brooklyn Grays/Dodgers left fielder.  It had recently sold at Bagger's Auction for $95.00.  The card, as you can see above, shows Ernie sprawling for an imaginary ball next to the wooden stands built upon the bank of old Washington Park stadium on 4th and 5th Avenue's in Brooklyn. 

He's sporting a fantastic uniform complete with pillbox cap, collared jersey with laces for buttons and what must have been a stylish-for-time mustache that would make hipster's of today green with envy.  This man was the picture of late 19th Century awesomeness, and as such is deserving of a brief spotlight some 120 years later.  Unfortunately, information is scant, so I'll do my best.

Ernie Burch began playing professionally a bit late in life (although, this was rather common during these days) at the age if 26.  Originally from Illinois, he started out for a club called the Peoria Reds of the Northwestern League before moving on to the Cleveland Blues of the National League in 1884.

He failed to impress while there; slashing just .210/.240/.242/.482 in 124 at-bats.  The next year, though, he broke out and caught the eye of Brooklyn scouts who signed him up to play in the borough for the 1886 season.  His first season for the Gray's he hit .261/.321/.349/.669 then .293/.395/.388/.784 in 1887.  Then, he all but disappeared from the Majors.  Why?  I dunno.

What I do know is that he eventually reemerged with the club that gave him his start in 1890.  Via Dave Anderson at the NY Times who briefly recounts his career:  
''Burch is regarded as a fine fellow by those who know him,'' it was written. ''But fine fellows do not always make fine players. I am told that this is especially true in Burch's case. Mike Scanlon told me that Burch is not the fielder and batter he is cracked up to be and Mike wonders at the avidity with which the local clubs sought to secure Burch's services."
So, he flamed out.  Such is life I suppose.

One day you're the peach to the pie... the luster to the gem... the vibrato to the fiddle.  Then the next you're like that first round draft pick that never got past double-AA.

BTW, I did discover while briefly researching Burch that there is a famous Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circus clown with the same name.  He performed under the name of Blinko the Clown and was featured in a Cecil B. DeMille film in 1951 called "The Greatest Show on Earth."  He was even honored by colleagues as the King of the White-Face Clowns, and worked at Circus Circus in Las Vegas from 1977 to 1990. 

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Blog Kiosk: 11/20/2015 - Dodger Links - Jansen on Donnie, Honey on Greinke and some Puig Gossip

Dodger alumni Eric Karros and Ron Cey spent yesterday afternoon hanging out with some young patients at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.  As you can see they brought gifts, smiles and some needed encouragement.

Photo above via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2015Go here to see more pics from Jon.  Below are more links to check out:
“For me, Donnie was always good. He understood as a person who I am and he always helped keep me positive. That’s one big thing I had with him. I always could be myself with Donnie. I understand the organization’s decision. I understand for Donnie, too. I’m happy for him that he’s with Miami now.”

Jansen said he and Mattingly had a long discussion, and added the need to push forward. “We’re still here for one thing and that’s to win a championship. I’m pretty confident in what Andrew and Farhan are doing,” he said.
  • Oh, My!  Via Craig Calcaterra at Hardball Talk, "Andy Van Slyke is spreading Yasiel Puig-related gossip."  Apparently, a certain high-paid player went to management to suggest that a certain Cuban outfielder needs to go.
If this isn’t true and if Van Slyke is just trying to sound wise he probably owes an apology to Kershaw. If it is true, and Kershaw is telling the front office that Puig needs to go, it’s gonna make life a lot of fun for the Dodgers’ next manager. Because Puig, whatever else you can say about him for bad and for good, is not in a great place to be traded right now, coming off of an injury–plagued season.
  • Dodgers Night at the Clippers game has been scheduled for Monday, November 30th.  Get your tickets here.  Use the promo code "Dodgers" for a ticket and limited edition Dodgers/Clippers t-shirt.  I am unsure if any players will be at the game. 
  • Via Anthony Irwin at Dodgers Nation, "Dodgers News: Grandal Says He’s “Ahead of Schedule”
  • Via Ken Gurnick at, "Honeycutt: Greinke can be like Maddux."
    "You've seen him each year we've had him, and each year he gets better as the season goes on," Honeycutt said of Greinke. "He's in great shape, he adds and subtracts to his pitches when he wants to. He can continue to pitch just like Maddux into his 40s. He has that ability, because he has the pitches already and makes the adjustments with the pitches he has.

    "There's no doubt in my mind he can go as long as he wants to go. For five years, I don't see him having any issues after being with him the last three years. He's very intelligent, he takes care of himself. A lot of guys have talent, but you have to have the smarts to go with it, and he certainly has that. He's got a lot of game."

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