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Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

      I hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas Day.  I've already received some cards and also given some.  We got a pretty much unxpected white Christmas where I live, though I would have been fine with a brown one.
      Below is my most treasured card.  Below that is a repost of a great story about Ron "Santo Claus" at Christmas back in 2009.  Coincidentally there is a Star Wars reference in it.

"Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home!
-----Charles Dickens

The main reason Santa is so jolly is that he knows where all the bad girls live.
-----George Carlin

This was on the Cubs web page.

'Santo' Claus has gift for giving

'Santo' Claus has gift for giving Cubs analyst thinks of others during holiday season

12/24/09 10:00 AM EST
CHICAGO -- Ron Santo still remembers a Christmas photo of him at 3 years old holding a brand new baseball glove.
"We only got one present a year," said Santo, the Cubs' radio analyst, who turns 70 in February. "We couldn't afford any more."
This holiday season, Santo becomes Santa Claus for his two grandsons, Sam, 10, and Spencer, 4. And young Spencer had a special request: He wants some baseball gear, just like grandpa. Under the tree on Christmas Eve, young Spencer will get his wish, all kid-sized.
Spencer also is a huge fan of "Star Wars." That's a galaxy Santo isn't too up-to-date on, but he said he was able to find something Luke Skywalker would be proud of.
"This Santa Claus takes very good care of my family," Santo said.
It will be a special holiday for Santo, who recently signed a three-year contract extension with WGN Radio to do the color commentary on the Cubs broadcasts with partner Pat Hughes. The negotiations didn't take long at all.
"I love what I do, and it keeps me alive, as far as I'm concerned," Santo said from his Arizona home. "When I go in [to negotiate], I could say I'm looking for a two-year [deal] and they'll say, 'Why don't you take a three-year contract?'"
He has taken time off in years past for health reasons. Santo has had both legs amputated below the knee because of diabetes, and there are times when road trips wear him out.
"There are certain perks [WGN Radio] gives me," Santo said. "They also know I go crazy when I can't go [with the team]. As long as I'm feeling good, meaning I know my sugars have been good and I'm feeling good, I'll go. If I start to feel like I'm not feeling that great, I'll take a road trip off."
Santo annually hosts a walk-a-thon to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. He was diagnosed at 18, shortly after he had signed his first pro contract. At the time, life expectancy of someone with Type 1 juvenile diabetes was 25. Santo never told the Cubs about his disease. He has beaten the odds and is a hero for his resiliency.
"I can't tell you how much it means to me," he said. "I'm very proud to be able to be an inspiration to a lot of people. I get a lot of letters, and my son opens them. When I get one from somebody who has lost a leg and is a diabetic, instead of me writing back, I call them. It means so much more to them. I've helped a lot of people who have lost limbs."
Santo often refers them to his prosthetist, Ray McKinney. The two of them have established a foundation to help people with diabetes.
Imagine the surprise when someone picks up the phone and hears Santo's recognizable voice.
"They say, 'You're kidding?' but a lot of them listen to me and know my voice," he said. "When I fly from [Arizona] to Chicago or Chicago to here, you can't believe how many people come by on the plane to say 'Hi' to me."
Santo picked Arizona for the offseason. He has had enough of Chicago winters.
"I spent all my winters in Chicago when I played," he said. "When the kids got out of college, Vicki and I decided to come to Arizona. Everybody puts up their lights down here early in December, and it's really gorgeous. There's a lot of good Christmas feeling."
Which means decorating the cactus and palm trees and not having snow to shovel. Santo and his wife, Vicki, have four children, and they get together Christmas Eve to celebrate. Before dinner, the kids can open one gift and the rest wait until after the plates are cleared.
"Every year, I get a big gift [for the grandkids]," Santo said.
Just in case Sam and Spencer are reading this, we won't reveal what "Santo Claus" has planned.
"I'm Santa Claus here," Santo said. "Well, at least one of them believes in Santa Claus. I don't talk about it, but I know [Sam] knows."
There is one present Santo would like to see under the tree with his name on it: a Cubs' World Series.
"I'm always excited for the season," he said about the Cubs. "Every year, right after Christmas, in January, I start to get the itch."
He has been sticking to an exercise program this offseason to help keep his blood sugars at a good level. He works out every other day, including riding a stationary bike for 40 minutes and doing about 50 sit-ups on a specially designed chair.
"Exercise has a lot to do with controlling your sugars," he said. "When I leave here, I'll be in the best shape I can be in."
Not bad for a 69-year-old former third baseman.
Does Santo miss Chicago's snow?
"No -- are you kidding?" he said, laughing. "It's going to be 72 [degrees] here today. We've got the Christmas tree up and lights out in the back. It's really great."

Monday, December 21, 2015

This Card is No Dud

I came close to catching my white whale a couple of weeks ago.  This one, that I did manage to reel in, is one it's cousins.  While I failed again to pick up the Ron Santo I did get his road roommate and fellow All-Star infielder Glenn Beckert.  69 players were featured including most of the fondly remembered Cubs of the era.  Here's a nice article on the set from Sports Collectors Daily.  Capturing this card may inspire to me build a more complete Glenn Beckert collection.  Do you own any of these?  Anyone from the Chicago area remember buying any?  I don't have any memory of them.

The Milk Duds people misspelled Glenn's name, as well as three others in the set.  A quick ebay search showed at least one other instance of the same error in the 1989 Pacific Sports legends set.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Happy Chanukah!

I grew up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood on the far north side of Chicago and though I'm not at all religious I do call myself culturally Jewish.  Having moved to another state a few years ago, I now live in a small town that as far as I can tell is exclusively Christian.  As a way of staying connected to my roots I've started collecting cards featuring Jewish athletes.  Here's one of my favorites, a vintage Sid Gordon from the 1948 Bowman set.  Happy Chanukah!
This as Adam Sandler's most recent version:

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Turkey Day!

I can't tell you much about these.  They are listed in The Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards.  I'm guessing they were a send away item since they came sealed.  The copy-write date is 1994 but they were released in 1995.  Wikipedia shows Mr. Turkey as part of Sara Lee but that's about all I could find on the company.  Anyone have anything to add?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

My Brain is Weird

I have many issues with my brain.  Like when I want to think of a person's name and it takes me five minutes to come up with it.  And don't get me started on my memory deficits (and no, though I was a teen in the 1970's I didn't do drugs).  One thing my brain likes to do is make connections between celebrity faces.  I'd say more often than not other people don't see what I do.  Here's one.  I was looking through a box of random cards yesterday and saw this one.  I could say some about the Stone Pony but what came to mind was a resemblance to an actor who's career was just getting going when this card came out.  First of all, can you even name him?  If you're under thirty you may not be able to.  Secondly, do you see the resemblance?
A hint--they share the same first name.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

I Don't Always Buy Logoless Products But When I Do...

I'm on the record as not being in love with logoless products.  Unfortunately for me it's the only way to add new cards to my Ron Santo collection.  This one came up recently on Ebay and it was paired with another relic card from 2002.  The relatively low starting price and added value enticed me to begrudgingly bid.  As the only bidder I did win.  Obviously.  Here in all its glory is Hall of Famer Ron Santo wearing his plain blue hat (I'm assuming it's blue). To its credit it is a fairly attractive card, has a nice writeup and is serial numbered.

I did already have one of these but just one and this one has stitching.  
The white smudge at the bottom right is a scanning artifact.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Hello Froggy!

And the winner of the best impression of a frog by a major league ballplayer goes to:

 Oops, frog fall down.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Street Signs

It would have been cool if these two athletes were brother and sister but they aren't.  Still, they both have cool names.

Friday, November 6, 2015

A Real Piece of Americana

I'm currently reading historian Arthur M. Schlesinger's volume of "Journals, 1952-2000".  In it he records a brief anecdote that includes the three men pictured below in the 1992 Starline Americana set.

"After Anwar Sadat's funeral in 1981 -- at President Reagan's request, Nixon, Ford and Carter went together -- Kissinger told Schlesinger, "As soon as we got into the plane, Nixon was his old self again, trying to manipulate everybody and everything, dropping poisonous remarks, doing his best to set people against each other. Later, when we were in a car by ourselves, Ford said to me, 'Sometimes I wish I had never pardoned that son of a bitch.' "

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Good Luck, Cubbies!

Things are not looking great for my Cubs but it's October 20th and the young Cubbie bears are still playing so it's hard to complain.  The current players may not know about the significant history between the Cubs and Mets but guys like me sure do.  I don't know that it will hurt more to lose this series to the Metsies but it would be sweet to beat them on the way to the World Series.

Two of the four Hall of Famers from the 1969 team are gone but I'm sure Fergie and Billy are pulling for their old team.

Here's an item I've had in my possesion since Billy Williams' playing days.  
 The cover art was done by Wayland Moore.

Friday, October 16, 2015

We're a Couple of Oddballs

No, I'm not talking about my wife and I.  Well...  But seriously folks.  Here are a couple of cards that fit into two of my collecting goals for 2015, Jewish athletes on cards and Lou Boudreau.  I guess that's the same thing. Maybe.  More after the cards.

The first card is from the second of four series of 55 cards issued by Big League Collectibles from 1982-85.  It measures 2-1/2" x 3-3/4" and is on heavy stock.  Each set was limited to 10,000.
The uniform patch dates this to sometime during WWII.  Here's a link to a signed copy of the original photograph.

Next up is perhaps even more of an oddball, coming from a 65 card set of Ohio legends.  The "cards", issued in 1982 are pretty much postcard sized, 3-3/8" x 5-5/8" and are on thin stock.

Without getting too deeply into this quagmire, Lou is technically Jewish ( and this is where I start getting uncomfortable) seeing as his mother was Jewish.  After a divorce Lou was raised as a Christian by his father.  Regardless of his upbringing/heritage, I decided to collect "The Good Kid" because I have fond memories of listening to him broadcasting Cubs games on WGN radio and sometimes TV. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Ron Santo 2004 Topps Retired -- A Find

Ron Santo's 2004 Topps Retired Certified Autograph Edition is easy to find.  They usually go for around $20.00.  I have these four plus one not encased and I sold another this summer.  I know there's at least a refractor version serial numbered to 25 and there could be others of even lower quantity but they're out of my price range and that's perfectly fine with me.

Until I saw one recently I wasn't aware of an unsigned version.  As disorganized a collector as I am I don't have a checklist of anyone's cards, even my favorite, Ron Santo.  I happened upon this one by chance while browsing Ebay.  Disorganized people need luck.  Maybe at heart I like it better this way.  At any rate I was able to snipe this one for just just $3.25.  Two other bidders didn't offer more than $3.00.  I'm not trying to acquire every variation of every Ron Santo card but when a S/N to 99 card like this comes my way for this price I'm in.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Marion Not Hossa

You may not be familiar with Marion Bartoli even if you're a casual follower of tennis.  I wasn't until her improbable run at the 2013 Wimbledon Championships.  My wife and I fell in love with her quirky energy.  I just had to have a card.  I think I picked this one up on COMC.

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