Friday, June 24, 2022

1969 Heritage, I mean Topps, Sparky Lyle Rookie Card CONTEST

I bought this card about a month ago from a dime box at The Batter's Box card shop. Off centered, wax residue all across the center of the card and the number 7 written neatly in the upper left-hand corner.

But it is the rookie card of 3 time All-Star and 1977 AL Cy Young Award winner; Sparky Lyle. 


Lyle had a great career as a closer over 16 years, but his best seasons were spent in Yankee pinstripes (1972-78) on the biggest stage as he helped the Yanks win two World Series in 1977 and 1978. It was those two seasons with New York that would be the focus of the book The Bronx Zoo, which Lyle co-authored with Peter Golenbock. I don't think I've actually read this book. I have read his other book, The Year I Owned the Yankees. I remember reading this one as a kid and enjoying it, but that it was different from most of the other books about baseball I was reading at the time because it was fictional, but I wondered how much of it was actually true.


The back of the card lists his name as Sparky Lyle, so early on, his nickname had stuck. His actual name is Albert Walker Lyle. Reynoldsville High School, where Lyle grew up had football and basketball teams but not a baseball team, so while he played varsity football and basketball for his high school, Sparky played American Legion baseball during his high school years. It was on the DuBois American Legion team that Lyle recorded the 31 strikeouts during a 17 inning game which is mentioned as part of the comic on the back of the card. It should be noted that Lyle pitched "just" 14 of the 17 innings when he recorded those 31 strikeouts.

On the back of the card we see minor league statistics as well as his first two years in the big leagues. Weird that he got into 27 games in 1967 for the Red Sox, but didn't have a baseball card until 1969. 

About a week ago I was at a different card shop and saw this copy of the same card in one of the showcases with a $2 price tag. I asked one the employees (I had never seen him before) for help getting the card out of the showcase. I was in front of the showcase and he was behind it, so I pointed and told him, "The Sparky Lyle there in the front on the middle shelf." He responded, "Oh, the Heritage card." I couldn't help it and I laughed and said, "It's a 1969 Topps card." He responded, "Well, it looks like Heritage." This was not a kid. This was a grown man, probably in his mid 30's. Now, I get that the 2018 Heritage had the 1969 Topps design, but I was still just a little surprised. 


This card is far from perfect, but is much better than my 10 cent copy and I'm going to keep this one in my collection.

I will be giving away this card. If you are interested. Sparky's birthday is coming next month; July 22. So the contest will run through his birthday. Comment on this post up to one time per day for an entry up until 7/22/22. Each entry will get you a spot into a drawing for the card. If you do a blog post featuring Sparky include a link in one of the comments and you will get an additional 5 entries. There is no limit to the number of blog posts you can do.


The main prize will be this 1969 Topps Sparky Lyle rookie card that has a bunch of condition issues, but since this contest will be running almost a month, I will periodically add cards to the prize, so that is another good reason to check in daily and leave a comment.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Card Show Pickup: 9 Pocket Pages of Vintage

Went to a card show this past weekend with my buddy Micah. Spent most of our time with one dealer that focuses on mainly vintage, but made a trip around the show and we picked up a couple of things from a few other dealers.

This post will focus on a purchase from the vintage dealer we spent most of our time with. He had posted on Facebook before the show that he was going to have some 9 pocket pages of vintage cards at the show for $4 each. He always has interesting stuff, so I made a point to get to the show as close to opening as possible and it's the main reason we headed to his table first.

He had a cardboard box with some 9 pocket pages on his table. The sign on the box said $4 each or 5 for $15. We started digging through the box and I found a few pages that caught my eye. 

I have some of these 1961 Fleer cards already, but for the price I couldn't say no.




I grabbed this one because of the Vern Law card, but it turned out I already have it. That's okay though. These will make a nice addition to my 1959 Topps collection.


This page has a few more 1959 cards, but there are a few other years represented here; including three 1957 Topps cards. I grabbed this page because of the 1957 Topps Whitey Herzog rookie card. It's in rough shape, but he's a Hall of Fame manager, and I didn't already have his rookie card, so for $3 for the page and only about $0.33 per card, I was excited to add this card to my collection!


So I was able to grab these five 9 pocket pages of vintage baseball cards for a total of $15.

But these weren't the only pages I bought from this dealer. 


I ended up buying another 28 pages of 1980-81 Topps basketball cards. More on these on my next post!

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Every player and every card has a story: 1956 Topps Bill Sarni

A few weeks back I came across this 1956 Topps card of Bill Sarni. @andyt813 posted his 1956 Topps Cardinals set and @TheVineCard asked if this card featured Jackie Robinson as the opposing player in the play at the plate.


@TheVineCard followed up with another tweet that included this clip from Baseball Reference which indicated a potential play at the plate on August 29, 1955 in a game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals at Ebbets Field in which Jackie Robinson stole home. The Dodgers would win the game 10-4 and go on to compile a 98-55-1 record winning the National League title and defeating the New York Yankees in the World Series 4 games to 3 that year.

Is the picture on this 1956 Topps card from that game on August 29, 1955 where Jackie stole home? It could be. Not sure that we will ever be certain, but the evidence was good enough for me that I promptly went to eBay and snagged this card under $5 bucks shipped. The idea of owning a 1956 Topps card featuring Jackie Robinson for that price was just too tempting. *Night Owl confirmed that this is not, in fact, a picture of Jackie Robinson, but it is Junior Gilliam. Still a great card though!


The card is that of William F. Sarni, who went by Bill as indicated on the front of the card. The F stands for Florine. Bill was born on September 19, 1927 in Manhattan Beach, California which is an affluent beach city in Los Angeles County. Wikipedia lists the following as being from or having lived in Manhattan Beach: Colin Cowheard, Matthew Fox, Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Jeanie Buss, Mike D'Antoni, Blake Griffen, Steve Nash, Luke Walton, Tony Gonzalez, Matt Leinhart, Nomar Garciapara, and Don Mattingly among others.


Look at the fantastic cartoons on the back. I can't remember where I heard this recently, but it was mentioned that Topps employed multiple comic book artists back in 1950's, 60's and 70's, which is why the cartoons from those early years are so great and have a real comic book feel to them.

The first cartoon highlights the fact that Bill started playing professionally at the age of 15. Being from the Los Angeles area, Bill played for the Los Angeles Angels in the Pacific Coast League in 1943 several months before turning 16. In 33 games for the Angels Sarni went 19-for-83 for a .229 average with a home run and 9 RBI. Not great numbers, but not terrible, especially when you remember that he was only 15 years old! I have to think that him getting this opportunity may have had something to do with depleted rosters due to World War II, but it's still impressive.

The next section of the cartoon mentions Bill's .300 batting average and fielding prowess in his rookie year. Bill would make his Major League debut on May 11, 1951, but didn't manage to stay in the big leagues until 1954. His .300 batting average in 1954 would come over 123. He hit 9 home runs and had 70 runs batted in at the plate, but also proved his worth behind the plate as well. His .996 fielding average led all N.L. catchers that year.  Wikipedia notes that on July 18, 1954 both Sarni and Philadelphia Phillies catcher Stan Lopata both played a game behind the plate without chest protectors because of the extreme heat in St. Louis. Some additional research reveals that it reached 115 degrees that day, the all-time record for St. Louis, that still stands today. It was so hot that it caused streets in St. Louis to literally burst. 20 people died that day in St. Louis due to the heat. 104 people lost there lives during the heat wave in St. Louis that week.


I live in the Phoenix area and it gets hot here. 115 is a common occurrence, but it's not 1954 and we are equipped to deal with it. St. Louis in 1954 was not. A Facebook memory from last year came up just a couple days ago that reminded me of my youngest playing in a baseball game when it was 118 degrees outside. It was hot. Can't imagine catchers not using a chest protector though!


Alright, hope you enjoyed this long post about this awesome 1956 Topps Jackie Rob...I mean, Bill Sarni card. I enjoy these types of posts. Every player and every card has a story.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

1962 NL Home Run Leaders and all of Hank Aaron's League Leader Cards

Similar to my post yesterday with all of the base cards from Hank Aaron's career, today I am featuring all of his League Leader cards.

Shortly after I picked up the 1957 Topps to complete the base run, I was able to get this 1963 Topps 1962 NL Home Run Leaders card off eBay for under $20 delivered. This was the last League Leader card featuring Hank Aaron that I needed.

This card features five Hall of Famers on it. I could be wrong, but I haven't been able to come across any other card that features more Hall of Famers on it than this one.


Hank was second in home runs in the National League in 1962 behind Willie Mays. The back also lists Grand Slams from the 1962 season, which I think is pretty interesting. Hank Aaron tops that list along with Frank Robinson with 3.


Here are all of the League Leader cards that Hank Aaron appeared on during his playing career. There are 15 in total between 1961 and 1972. Twice (1964 and 1967) Aaron appeared on all three (Batting Average, R.B.I, and Home Runs) and three times (1962, 1968 and 1972) he would grace two of the three.


In addition to seeing Hank Aaron on these cards, there are a plethora of other stars that can be found; including, Ernie Banks, Eddie Mathews, Stan Musial, Roberto Clemente, and Willie Mays among others.

These League Leader cards were a fun and affordable way to get additional Hank Aaron playing era cards in my collection and get enjoy some of the other all-time greats of the game.

Monday, June 6, 2022

1957 Topps Hank Aaron and the complete Topps Base Hank Aaron Run

In my last post about my Hank Aaron collection, I mentioned that I had recently won an eBay auction for two of the remaining cards I needed to complete my Topps playing days Hank Aaron card run.

One of those cards was his 1957 Topps card. Far from perfect, especially when it comes to centering, I am still extremely happy to add this card to my collection. I have seen a lot of these cards that are off centered left to right, with the extra being on the right side, which leads me to believe this card was probably on the edge of a sheet.


It has a nice crease across the bottom right corner and speaking of corners, they are a bit worn as well. Looking at the back of the card, it almost appears to be hand cut, but I don't think it actually is.


I got this as part of a two card lot on eBay. I only need a few Hank Aaron cards from his playing days and I happened to need both of the cards, so getting them both was awesome.

With this card, I completed the base run of his Topps cards from his playing days (1954 - 1976).


I would like to get magnetics for all of these, especially now that Ultra-Pro makes magnetics for the 1952-1956 cards, but for now here is my Topps Hank Aaron base card run. 

I still remember buying the 1976 Topps base and Record Breaker card at an old card shop that isn't around anymore, with birthday money. They were the first "vintage" cards I ever bought.

I still remember the day I found the rookie card at my LCS. I don't remember what it was priced at, but I asked what the best he could do was and I think it was $225, which was the most I had ever paid for a single card at the time, but I happily agreed and went to a bank to get some cash before they closed. 

I will remember all the DoorDash I did to put aside some money so that I could get the 1955 just a couple of months ago at a big card show that I went to with a friend of mine. First time going to a card show with a friend in decades. I paid more for the 1955 than I did for the 1954.

This was a fun journey. It took me about 30 years from start to finish. I have done this with a few players now, Reggie Jackson was the first and then Nolan Ryan I finished up last year, but this was the one that took me the longest and was also the most fun! 

Monday, May 16, 2022

Just a handful left for my Topps Hank Aaron Collection

I purchased a 1958 Topps Hank Aaron card from a guy in a Vintage Baseball Card Facebook group I am in. I'm not going to lie I was a little nervous about the purchase. 

He started off by listing it as a 1959 Topps Hank Aaron card. It was an auction with an end time. I had the highest bid at the end time, but then the seller posted something like "24 hours left" and I commented that the auction should be over. He didn't respond to my comment, but just sent me a message asking for payment. Okay. Then he says to pay Friends and Family or add $3.59 + $0.60 for Goods and Services. 

I always pay Goods and Services and I assume that everyone will expect Goods and Services unless they say so ahead of time, so it rubbed me the wrong way that he tells me this after I won the auction. But I got a good deal and there is no way I'm sending him Friends and Family, so I paid the extra. I paid on May 9th and the card arrived on May 13th, so at least it was shipped quickly. 

The card is not in great shape, but I'm extremely happy with the condition for the price I paid. After it arrived I realized that this only leaves me needing the 1957 Topps card as far as his base cards go from his playing days. So I put them all out in order and took a picture and posted on Twitter. Unfortunately I missed adding the 1971 Topps because when I grabbed it initially I realized it was not in a penny sleeve inside the top loader so I set it aside so I could add a penny sleeve. Someone pointed it out though and so I took another picture and posted it to Twitter.

Here is that picture.


Someone on Twitter said, now you need to do all of his League Leader cards and I actually looked and realized that I have all of those or thought I did. I am actually missing the 1963 Topps NL Home Run Leaders card. 

Here are all his League Leader cards.


The only Topps playing day cards I need for Aaron now are the 1957 Topps base card, his 1958 All-Star, 1960 All-Star, 1961 All-Star, the 1963 NL Home Run Leaders, the 1964 combo card Tops in NL with Willie Mays and his 1973 All-Time Total Bases Leader card.

Well, this isn't entirely true because I won an auction last night that had two of the cards on that list. So now I am down to just needing 5 cards. I also just put in an offer on another one that I am hoping gets accepted. 

Hard to believe that after all these years, I am getting so close to completing this run. I purchased my first playing days card of Hank Aaron back around 1990 from a card shop with birthday money. It was actually his last cards from his playing days. I got the 1976 Topps base and his Record Breaker card from the same set. Now 30 plus years later I am just a handful of cards away from having every Topps card issued during his playing career.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Time Travel Trade and Trivia

I did a time travel trade with Matt from the Diamond Jesters blog. He had reached out after seeing my post about 1974 Topps Traded and let me know he had a few of the cards I needed available, so I claimed them and sent him some pre-1974 cards and got these three cards I needed. Thanks Matt!

Did you know that Diego Segui pitched for both the Seattle Pilots and the Seattle Mariners? Not only that but in he did so in the first year of each of the franchises. 1969 for the Pilots and 1977 for the Mariners. And not only was he on the team, but he pitched in both of their first games. He got the save for the Pilots and took a loss for the Mariners. 


Just 11 more to go. 

42T Claude Osteen
165T Willie Davis
175T Reggie Cleveland
182T Lindy McDaniel
330T Juan Marichal
348T Pete Richert
373T John Curtis
454T Kurt Bevacqua
534T Eddie Watt
630T Tommie Agee
648T Terry Crowley