Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Golden Age of Baseball

Have you ever been to a place where Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Bob Feller, Tris Speaker, and Nap Lajoie were all present in some form? You cannot say yes if your answer was either “Card Show” or “Cooperstown”. While both places are great, they are not historic landmarks. Okay maybe Cooperstown is, but none of them played ball there.

I’ve been in a baseball nostalgia for quite some time. Starting to sort all the early 60’s cards has only made the hunger for vintage even stronger. I’m starting to get into pre-war baseball. Watching “The Golden Age of Baseball” shows makes the hunger that much more insatiable. I could try and buy a bunch of pre-war cards, but I want more history. What I want is actually in my backyard.

(Re)Built by Osborn Engineering in 1910 (whom also built Comiskey, Fenway, and Yankee Stadium among others) League Park had 21,414 seats. Originally it was a wooden facility that had 9,000 seats prior to 1910. The Tribe called it home from 1910 through 1946. From 1946 till 1951 the Tribe split their games between League Park and Municipal Stadium. Much like older stadiums, the dimensions were incredible; 290’ to right, 385’ to left, and a fantastic 460’ to dead center. Many would think that lefties had a power alley. Nope, if they wanted to hit a homer the ball had to clear a 60 foot fence onto Lexington. Good luck with that lefties.

Unfortunately Municipal Stadium won and League Park was completely demolished in 1951.

So what happened to this forgotten relic of baseball’s past? Let me show you my adventure to League Park….

But first a little prologue…

All last night I psyched myself up for this small trip with the thought of “shit, I’ll be on the same land that Ruth, Gehrig, Feller, Lajoie, Speaker, Young, and many others have played ball….how the hell would I pass this up?” Pretty easy actually, it’s not in the best of neighborhoods.

The east side of the city isn’t the best place to be. In fact, coming home from a concert a few years ago, I was stopped at a red light maybe 10 blocks south of the park when a cop pulled up, looked at me and said “You should probably get the hell out of here as fast as possible.” Thoughts of what might happen raced in my mind as to what could happen. I flip flopped all day whether I wanted to go or not. I gave it the green light after I saw photos and stories of past accomplishments of Young, Joss, Lajoie, Speaker that all took place at League Park.

Driving to League Park is pretty simple if you know the city, which I do. I parked on a one way street just north of the park, which back then would have been the third baseline. Although League Park is simply a field now, I got nervous walking up. Ghosts from years past I suppose. First thing I noticed and walked directly up to was this:

Home Plate. I actually had thought there was a plaque in the ground to dedicate the former field, but I guess not. Kicking some dirt up around home plate, the same dirt former members of the hall did was neat.

Two things remain, the first base wall and the former ticket office.

The 1st base wall is held up by metal supports that were put in. I'm not sure when, but they look pretty recent. The ticket office was supposedly turned into a recreation room. Ideally I wanted to go inside, but there was various groups of youth football with parents and all the doors were either boarded up or sealed. I will eventually one day see the inside of the building. Maybe.

Here's an closer view of one of the supports found on the length of the wall.

More supports down the first baseline all the way to the ticket office. You'll notice the lighter molding that runs down the wall. I believe that was part of the grandstand that ran down the line and turned into field box seating. Not entirely sure though.

After I checked out the wall and walked up close to hopefully find a lose brick on the ground for a keepsake (no luck) I walked out the exit gate onto E.66. Turning around and checking out the architecture from 100 years ago was amazing. Imagining what I'd be looking at with a full park surrounding the exit was even more special.

Another small detail I really enjoyed about League Park was the brickwork on the outside frame. The patterns of the bricks was fascinating and definitely gave the deserted and demolished old park some character in it's afterlife.

Taking a brief walk down the street I was able to get to the ticket office. Trust me, I glanced everywhere for a possible way in. Not entirely sure if I found an entrance what I would have done...I didn't want to risk getting arrested for trespassing, but something this old and the history behind it might be semi worth it. But then again, probably not.

Finally I reached the front of the old building, at the corner of E.66 and Lexington.

Next to the building (which had some fencing off done, but was mostly falling apart) was this Historic Landmark and RENOVATION sign. Supposedly $1.8 million was put aside for a renovation project in which the grounds would house softball/baseball fields and a new ticket office. Again, supposedly the whole project would cost the city $18 million. It never happened, and honestly will never happen. Too much corruption and other issues at hand. And with the economy the way it is, who wants to fix up an old park, for no solid reason?

After seeing League Park and not really being able to poke around as much as I would have liked to, I decided to check out the wall one more time. That and take a photo of my personal favorite area of the former park. The player's tunnel.

The player's tunnel was connected to the dugout on the first base side. Here's how I think the dugout tunnel works: First pair of stairs connects to the dugout which leads down to the tunnel itself. It angles left and another pair of stairs leads the players up behind the tunnel to the dressing room. Again this is my estimation so I'm not 100% sure. Here's the photos, you tell me what you think.

Dugout to the tunnel stairs well.

Pretty sweet hole that leads to the middle of the tunnel. If you didn't know it was there, that'd be a bad fall.

Back stairwell that I assume leads to the locker room.

One last photograph of the ticket office, which I will re-visit eventually.

While many dedicated baseball fans know what's located at Yawkey Way or Waveland and Addison, I believe E.66 and Lexington tops them all.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

If I were commish....

Blog Bat Around. Never participated in one of these. David over at Tribe Cards posed the question, "What would you change about baseball?"

I've thought about this for a few days. What do I hate the most about the sport? A lot.

1. Get rid of the DH. I live in an American League town with the Tribe. I've grown up knowing nothing other than the DH. My childhood was during the McGwire-Sosa race. Looking back, it sucked. I absolutely hate waiting for the long ball to score runs. I want double switching, stealing, sacrificing guys over, ya know, real baseball. I don't care if it makes some guys not able to find work. You shouldn't be in the league if you cannot field a position.

2. Re-align the divisions. 2 Divisions per league. Go back to the way things were prior to the 94 strike. I loved taking the stickers off my back door and rearranging them in order of the standings. Looking up at the top and waiting for my club to be number 1 in baseball.

3. 140 Games. Start in May. End in September. Playoffs October. Northern clubs get wrecked in April and early May with rain/snow outs. So eliminate April.

4. Eliminate the Minor Leagues. Yup. Get rid of them. Allow clubs to fully be independent of their parent clubs. All levels of baseball will be their own leagues. Which segways into my new idea...

5. Promotion/relegation. Don't want organizations fielding garbage teams and making profit? They lose, they are relegated. The levels of baseball are similar to that of the English Football System. Low to highest levels are Rookie, A, AA, AAA, Majors. Teams who are promoted will receive large cash sums for winning their league and being able to field a competitive team in the new more talented league.

Granted, all the players playing for their minor league clubs will still be owned by the Major League clubs. This is somewhat of a problem to overcome. However, to eventually overcome the problem, the MLB Draft will be disbanded. There is no point for the draft, at all. Players will be scouted and able to sign with whatever club they wish.

6. Playoffs. Top two of each division move on. The winner of each division plays the second place club in the other. 5 games. 7 game league championship. 7 game world series. All playoff games start at 1, 4, or 7.

7. More day games. 5-7 weekday games in a 162 game season? How is the schedule formed, by computer? In my 140 game season, I'd want a max of 30 games to be during the day.

8. Bye interleague play. You served your purpose, now there's no reason for it. For all the Mets/Yanks, Sox/Cubs games, there are always Pirates/Indians or KC/Arizona. It was fun, memories were had. But now it's time to say goodbye.

I gurantee barely any of these ideas would happen, but it'd be cool to see some of them enacted. If I were the Commish, of course.

Monday, September 20, 2010


The majority of my posts are about cards from either the late 80's or early 90's. This is when my foundation of card collecting started. I didn't care what sport it was, packs were being opened.

After learning about Drazen Petrovic years ago I took big interest in Petro. I really wasn't into cards much during that time. After coming back to the card world 3 or so years ago I just assumed that since I collected like crazy back when Drazen played, I would surely have some of his cards. In all the time I've searched, I've come across zero. How could I see his arguably best performance ever (dropping 40 on the Cavs in a playoff game) and never have a basketball card of his?

This wasn't right and I was about to make sure I had some Petrovic cards. I made the situation right last weekend.

Drazen Petrovic collection is up to 2.

Upper Deck 93. Pretty wild to think this would have been his last card. Cutting in the lane against Dallas.

Score 91. His first year with New Jersey. So far, this is my favorite card I own, depicting his great jump shot.

One day, I intend on visiting Croatia to see Sibenik (where he grew up) and Zagreb where his memorial center is located.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bazaar Find

Having prior knowledge that a sports card/memorabilia dealer set up shop enticed me to go visit a Bazaar. And let me just say they are aptly named. Tons and tons of crap people try and sell. Things you'd never expect. This one is essentially a glorified garage sale, all day every day.

Unfortunately the card dealer guy was not there, and I'm not even sure he runs his stand anymore. But in it's place were two more dealers.

The first dealer was odd. I don't know what sort of impression I give off, but he did not acknowledge that I had walked into his stall. I'm not a heavy set or tall guy at all. So when two people are in a 10x10 space, you think some sort of "hey what's up" would happen. None. Basically, if he didn't want to notice me, I wasn't going to say anything to him. This made me not want to spend any money in his store. Simple customer service goes along way.

Side note: I do realize that a lot of people probably come in and browse without buying, but how are you going to try and make sales without simple greeting?

This guy had about six 5,000 count boxes of commons. Just garbage. Foiled 2000 cards, gross. No MLB Showdown. Another one of his 5,000 boxes was full of 60's gold. I might bite the bullet and purchase a few if I need to fill sets. Lots of McFarlane and Starting Line Up figures also.

The best part of his little stall, two T-206's. Bill Clymer (VG 3, $55) and a Tris Speaker (VG 3, $500). I asked to see them and he sort of gave me an odd eye. Look man, I know it's odd that someone is asking about your product, 10 minutes after stepping into your store. He pulled them out from the case and mentioned how they were his friends. I always feel that the majority of vintage cards aren't 100% authentic. So I had my reservations. I thought about purchasing Clymer since it was around my budget. Looking at the letters and font color, I deemed them real. Asking over at FreedomCardBoard, one of the boarders felt they were authentic also. Pretty badass to be holding cards that are 100 years old.

You be the judge about their authenticity, I'd love to hear more input.

After thanking him for taking the time out of his busy schedule of deciding where to put his Joe Montana McFarlane (lol), I left and walked across the tiny hall to another "card dealer". I hesitate to call this guy a "card dealer", I'd rather say a hustler. Guy was my age but had the ghetto accent. When I walked in he was trying to hustle an older gentleman into purchasing one of those old NBA 3 rookie players per card. This one had Bird and two others. I wasn't really listening too much, instead I was trying to find the rhyme or reason about his layout. Why was a Pat Listach insert one of the main cards this guy had to show. Why does this guy have probably 500 Donruss 1988 Stickers? Wait a minute, are those early 90's NBA team sets? HOLY SHIT DO THEY HAVE NEW JERSEY? YESSSSSSSS THEY DO. I picked it up and looked at the last card hoping it was a checklist. Instead, I was staring at my soon to be first Drazen card. MONNNEYYYYYYYY!! The older guy left and the kid explained to me how he buys massive collections from card shops in hopes to sell them off later to make money. The guy he was just dealing with was a "big time collector". From the bits and pieces of their conversation, I really think neither of them had any idea what they were talking about...most of the words were "book value". Long story short, Drazen and his buddies cost me $0.50. The kid asked why I wanted that set and I explained to him who Petro was and how he was one (if not the) best all time 3 point shooters and a HOF'er. Not to mention, my ethnicity.

I was about to leave when I decided to check out the rest of the place. Odd shit everywhere, why not? Last but not least, heaven. One older guy with just tons and tons of random sports stuff and cards strewn everywhere. And also probably one of the nicest card dealers I had ever met. We talked for literally 20 to 30 minutes about anything. My favorite part was two randomly placed MLB Showdown 2000 starters. They were not purchased.

Seriously, completely odd place.

After browsing some more, I found these gems. If there was a Petrovic pin, it was being purchased. Instead these were all from 1995-1996. Drazen's former Yugo teammate Vlade shows up 5 times. Speaking of Drazen and Vlade, ESPN's 30 for 30 is doing a special on them October 12. Watch it. It will be the best 30 for 30.

Hiding in a corner of a display case were some very old cards. I thought at first they were late 1950's. Come to find out they are 1935 Goudey 4 in 1's. Unfortunately they had been cut up. No problems with them being cut up, they were awesome regardless.

These are Card C and Card D.

The dealer also mentioned how he had tons of other vintage at his house and that he is running multiple card shows within the next few months. SCORE!

And on top of all of this, he had a stack of early 90's NBA Cards. Flipped through, last card, Petrovic. 2 BRAND NEW DRAZEN CARDS!!

Total cost at his stand: $5.

Overall, great place and I'll probably stop by his stand again once he brings in all his vintage items.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Overproduced, Underappreciated

Nostalgia has set in here at Attic Insulation. Searching for that first real full time job and not having much cash to blow doesn't leave one able to purchase new boxes or packs. Instead, I'm digging through cards from 1955-1996. Plenty of winners to be had in the lot.

I bring you the third and final installment of the WAX RACK SEARCH. When I see some of these cards, I feel like I've been digging through the ocean floor and have just found the Titanic. Actually no, not the Titanic. More like the Hope Diamond.

Seriously, so many people just see 1980's-1990's cards and say "junk wax". And in all honesty, that is so true. I see posting on Craigslist all the time about "please buy my cards, plenty of rare ones, 1980-1990's! Ken Griffey Rookies!!!". Unfortunately for these people they will never sell that Griffey ($3 value) along with the other 10,000 cards for $300. In fact, I doubt I'd ever purchase cards from that era again, but I'd be a liar to say it's not so much fun digging through them seeing how goofy those dudes looked.

Although, to be fair, I'd never pass up a box of Fleer Metal. Unless the store owner wanted $40 (LOOKING AT YOU GUY IN CANTON).

Enough about junk wax, let's get to the hope diamonds.

First up, Milwaukee Brewer's golden child BJ Surhoff. I really like the photo used. There was no way to get a shot of him doing anything else? Running away from the play. No hitting, fielding, sitting on the bench with gum on his hat? This card reminds me of Eddie Matthews MLB Showdown card, except that card is so much worse. At least you can see Surhoff's face in this. Solid effort Donruss.

This has to be the most basic card I've ever seen. It is also one of the best cards I have ever seen. This card could be pulled today and nobody would blink an eye. The best part is Ryno's card is from the tail end of the 1990 Score set. Yes, Score used to make good looking cards, I had a hard time believing it. I hope that I have more of these lying around somewhere. Cardboard perfection right here folks.

While I joke about how much care I didn't take with my cards growing up, sometimes I surprise myself. This Canseco is in a penny sleeve! I knew Canseco and his home run hitting power. I also remember him as the guy whose head helped Candy Maldonado hit a homer at the old Municipal Stadium. I was also there for that game. I was little, but I was there. Going back to the card however, not even a penny sleeve could handle my youthful strength. A beautiful solid bend tarnishes this card forever. Or gives it character, you tell me.

This card is heavy. It is also embossed. AND VERY VERY ACTION PACKED. (Also creased, lol). I didn't know embossed cards happened in 1992. But here's living proof that yes, yes indeed, embossed cards happened in 1992.

My favorite Indian growing up prior to my Kenny Lofton lovefest in the 90's. I really don't have an explanation for my fandom of Brook. I think it was his name. Anyways, I used to have a small card book that was given away to all kids of the Indians Fan Club back in the early 90's. It allowed for 4 cards per page, with probably 5 pages in it total. I remember nearly half of that book was Brook cards. Then Jesse Levis and some Joey Bells. I'd love to find that book one day.

Holy shit, this guy played baseball. A watered down version of Rod Beck, in style only. I love the background of his photo. The "FANTASY DRAFT" icon. What I really want to know is, if given a chance at a "Fantasy Draft", would you take Bryan Harvey? For me, 1,000 times yes.

Mike Benjamin. I had no idea he had played in this time. I only know him as the On Base 5 Shortstop with a +5 arm from 2000 MLB Showdown.

I really believe Matt Stairs is why EastBound and Down exists. Everything Matt Stairs has done in his career has been perfect. My only wish is that he played for the Indians. Matt you are a legend and one day I will visit Cooperstown and tell my kids "yes, I saw Matt Stairs hit many moonshots in my life", as memories come rushing back and tears swell up and I choke on every word of that sentence.

This card really wasn't going to be included. I have no idea what Bottenfield's life stats are. I didn't bother looking at the back to see if he had a good year. I didn't care. I just remember he somehow got 2 MLB Showdown cards in 2000. The first one was a Control 0 with Saint Louis. The second a Control 3 with Anaheim (hey remember that team?).

Up until finding this card, I forgot all about Damon. He was another favorite of mine growing up, simply for his last name. Berryhill. God, imagine how good a hill full of berries would be. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries. I'd make so many PBJ and pancakes filled with berries it'd be unreal. I want a Berryhill.

At first, I thought this was a Valentine's Day card that I forgot to give out in 2nd grade. The goofy banner around the photo confused me. The photo of Babe is real cool, but everything else was straight Looney Tunes. So then I flipped to the back.

Apparently this card came with a Collector's Plate? I honestly have no idea where it came from or what it came with. It is a baseball card, goofy looking, and now is on the blog. Common sense pick really.

And you probably thought, what could top Babe Ruth? Of course the logical answer is Hipolito Pichardo. James, if you ever read the blog again, I posted this card with you in mind. That and all the Hipolito Pichardo super fans out there. I GAAAAA-RUNNN-TEEE that blog traffic just went up 200%.

And finally we have come to the Hope Diamond. Everything about this card is perfect. The Expansion Draft. The photo. It being our former failed grinder manager Eric Wedge. And certainly the mustache. Holy shit that mustache. Any dude who has or have ever had that mustache cannot be taken serious. This ladies and gentleman, is the best card in my entire collection.

This is beyond baseball, this is mustache.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

1991-1992 NHL

Welcome back to the garbage wax rundown! After dropping some hot cards in the last post, I've found some other gems. This time, it's from the Coolest game on Earth...or, when the NHL mattered.

I like a lot of people played the hell out of the NHL series from 1994-1997. Nothing else to me mattered. I could run through a season in under a week. The addiction was high. My dad was a big hockey fan, which lead me to follow the sport. I really have no idea why he was so big into it, we didn't have an NHL team. Our IHL team (Lumberjacks) were real good though.

So all that love like everything else sports related translated into sports cards. A lot of them. All of them mishandled by my small feeble peanut butter filled hands.

This guy was awesome. One of the best last names in any sport, ever. And a good goalie. He was real sick in NHL 1994. As I said before, the NHL isn't the same. Quebec not having a team is a reason why.

I don't think any early 90's hockey blog post is worthwhile without Gretzky. Wasn't much of a fan of him, I loved Super Mario. Fact: After this photo was taken, Wayner purchased the T206 Wagner.

I don't know why, but I've always liked Nolan. So much so that I would always include him in my second line from 1994-1997. My teams were stacked and I cheated in a lot of trades to have the best team...who could blame me, I was 7 years old. I also own a McFarlane of Nolan.

I LOVED THIS GUY TOO. First line, legendary defender. On a side note, I hate those striped sweaters that the 'Hawks are wearing in this photo. I also really really really want this sweatshirt.

The Minnesota Wild are okay, but they are no North Stars. One of the coolest names in any sport. Great sweater. I miss this team so much. Eventually I will own the chase Mike Modano North Star figurine.

My favorite player of all time. Lil Theo. He could do all the coke he wants, he's a legend. And really, he's the only reason I even had an interest in Calgary. Dude was 5'2, didn't care about his body, and was quick as hell. When I played roller hockey, I thought I was Theo...except I wasn't fast, and couldn't really roller skate all that well.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The best cards on Earth...

...are always found right here at Attic Insulation. No joke, read some of my previous posts.

Nah, I'm kidding most of what I have isn't anything good or special, I'm just a dude who likes mediocre baseball players, hilarious names, awesome mustaches, or in the best case scenario, a baseball card featuring all of the above.

And this post is continuing the grand theme of mediocrity in sports card collecting.

Over the last few weeks I've been assembling my dad's cards. I've put together most of the 1969 and 1966 sets. Then I found a box of about 200 or so 1966 cards, became pissed that I sorted some already and still have more to sort. I decided no longer to sort and instead just pull out all cards and sort by sport and year. I've been overwhelmed. One man can only handle so many Roy Face or Bob Friend cards. If you must know that threshold, it's 10 of each.

But there comes times when you are thinking you are opening a wax rack figuring you'll come across some 1973 Topps. Instead you end up finding your own cards somehow buried deep in the 1960's.

Here is one of those times:

The glorious inside.

The first card noticed is in a screw down holder. Must be worth a bit to be kept in such a fool proof case, right? WRONG!

Greg Millen? I have no idea why he is in this. I don't care, it's awesome. I debated taking this apart and letting him go loose. Instead it was decided to keep the card in the screw down and when (if) I have kids they will ask who Greg was and how good of a goalie he was. My response, "I have no idea who he is". Cannot wait for that day.

Underneath Greg was quite a few of the 1992-1993 Cracker Jack Mini's. I vividly remember going to Myrtle Beach almost every summer of my first few years in my life. My dad would always buy Cracker Jack and we'd then open the prize, which were these cards. This has always been one of my favorite memories, and I wish Cracker Jack would start putting cards back into their product. On the topic of Cracker Jack, it blows now. Barely any peanuts, tastes like shit, and I cannot find them in boxes anymore. To top it off, the prizes blow. I don't want some shit ass monster tattoo, I want a Matt Mantei mini, make it happen Cracker Jack.

Recently, I've been very interested in the vintage pre-war cards, after reading "The Card". While they are all nearly out of my budget, these cards will suffice. From top left to bottom right: Speaker, McGraw, Wagner, Matthewson, Mack, Plank. No idea if Nap got a card, but I want it.

On the other end of the mini spectrum are these two. Matt Williams and Chris Sabo. I sleep better at night knowing I own two mini versions of Sabo and Williams.

After being really excited about everything seen so far, I became annoyed. Here is why:

Why were oversized cards created? They serve no purpose. Usually I try to enjoy cards in some way. I just cannot get behind oversized ugly ass cards. Why did Topps do this to collectors? I'm glad I was 1-2 years old when these came out. I most likely would have wanted to collect cards if I saw these shitpiles non stop. The best thing these goofy ass cards have to offer is the paint streak from the 1988 set. Only way this can be redeemed is for Topps to send me the 1988 and 1989 Dan Plesac cards. I would gladly accept your apology in Plesac form. Thanks :)

Don't worry, there's plenty more to come!!!