Friday, July 23, 2010

Baseball Games - Patent Edition

After posting the Big Six game from the Huggins & Scott auction, I became intrigued about the origins of that game. I didn't find a specific patent on it, but did find some other information. I'll be dedicating a separate post for that.

But I did find some patent information on other table and parlor games of baseball. I present seven patents for your enjoyment...

1903 - Card Game (patent number 726232)

1907 - Base-Ball Game Apparatus (patent number 863,758)

1907 - Game-Board (patent number 1,155,714)

1914 - Base-Ball Game (patent number 1,118,323)

1915 - Playing Cards (patent number 1,153,899)

1938 - Baseball Card Game and Score Device (patent number 2,113,369)

2004 - Casino Style Game (patent 6,755,420)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Artist Interview - Mark Chiarello

Earlier this year I became aware of Mark Chiarello. I was researching some Negro League baseball cards in the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards. He was the artist behind the 1990 Eclipse Stars of the Negro Leagues set. I did a bit of poking around and found that Mark has been involved with quite a few projects, including Comic Book covers, illustrating a kid's book, painting Star Wars stuff, and jazz icons. He is now the Art Director of DC Comics. This interview focuses on baseball cards.

How did you get your start painting baseball cards?
I guess I've been doing drawings of sport heroes since I was a little kid. I'd copy pictures of Gale Sayers and Thurman Munson out of Sports Illustrated all the time, hoping one day to become a 'real' artist when I grew up. I eventually did a few minor sports illustrations when I actually DID become a professional artist, but it wasn't until I painted the 1990 card set "Stars of the Negro Leagues" that I created my first cards.

What is your process to create a baseball card?
I really love the research phase of doing a sports portrait. I'm pretty diligent about sifting through hundreds and hundreds of photos in order to find that one, perfect image that I want to paint. I like to capture as iconic an image of a player as I possibly can, because I have the great fear that someone will say "gee, is that A-Rod or Jeter?, I'm not sure."
Once I track down that perfect photo, I draw the image in pencil and then jump in with paint (mostly watercolor). When I'm working on a baseball card, I usually work on a relatively small board (approx 10 inches tall), because I know the art is going to be reduced for publication as a trading card.

Where do you look for inspiration?
Oh, man, I'm SUCH a big baseball fan, there's inspiration all around. I always have the Yankee game on, or am reading a book about baseball. I don't play as often as I used to, but I still like to roam the outfield (although I roam a bit more slowly these days). Of course, there's always card collecting and attending card shows to get the juices flowing. Also, my best friend and collaborator, Jack Morelli, lives fairly close to Cooperstown, and as you know, that place is pretty darn inspirational.

Of the Negro League cards that you've done, do you have a favorite? Do you have a favorite Negro League player?
I've enjoyed painting Josh Gibson a few times, his life story was just so astounding. My favorite NL players are Josh, Leon Day (who I once met), Oscar Charleston (possibly the greatest baseball player of all time), and Cool Papa Bell (possibly the fastest baseball player of all time). Oh, and of course Satchel, everyone love Satchel!

What does the future hold for you with regards to baseball cards? Do you have any projects you're working on?
I've been doing a few baseball commissions lately (paintings of Sandy Koufax, Lou Gehrig and Mike Schmidt for private collectors), but yes, I'd love to get back to doing some cards. Unfortunately, with a full time job at DC Comics, it's hard to find the time to plan anything out.

As Art Director for DC Comic do you ever want to use your position to get a bat and ball back in Superman's hands?
Hahahahaha! I'd love for all of the superheroes to play a game against all of the supervillains. It seems to me that that story was told a long time ago in some weird, forgotten comic book. I'll have to do some research!

Any predictions for the 2010 MLB season?
I have three words for you: YANKEES, YANKEES, YANKEES!

I'd like to thank Mark for his generosity in allowing me to use the card images from his site and for his willingness to answer my questions. For more information on all that is Mark Chiarello point the browser to

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What's in a Name?

Yes, it is that time of the year again. The 4th Annual Minors Moniker Madness bracket is upon us.

Here are some of the names that you can vote on in the bracket:
  • Dock Doyle
  • T.J. Large
  • Rowdy Hardy
  • Brett Butts
  • Zach Outman
  • Will Rhymes
  • Gift Ngoepe
  • Josh Smoker
  • Forrest Snow
  • Beamer Weems
  • Stephen King
  • Boomer Potts
  • Cyle Hankerd
  • Blake Nation
  • Kila Ka'aihue
  • Norris Hopper
  • Jetsy Extrano
  • Chorye Spoone
  • Sharlon Schoop
  • Mark Hamburger
  • Gookie Dawkins
  • Petey Paramore
  • Zelous Wheeler
  • Stolmy Pimentel
  • Diego Seastrunk
  • Al Alburquerque
  • Stosh Wawrzasek
  • ZeErika McQueen
  • Hawkins Gebbers
  • Dale Cornstubble
  • Willian Avinazar
  • Alden Carrithers
  • Dale Cornstubble
  • Qualon Millender
  • Tyson Van Winkle
  • Kleininger Teran
  • Skyler Stromsmoe
  • Elisaul Pimentel
  • Clevelan Santeliz
  • Yangervis Solarte
  • Sugar Ray Marimon
  • Porfirio Martinez
  • C.J. Riefenhauser
  • Zachary Petersime
  • Atahualpa Severino
  • Leighton Pangilinan
  • Sequoyah Stonecipher
  • Seth Schwindenhammer
  • Riaan Spanjer-Furstenburg
Stonecipher. Wawrzasek. Kleininger. Aren't those wonderful names? Now, go and vote.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Where I've been

You might have noticed that I haven't posted for about a week. What, with the crazy rule lawyers over at Gint-A-Cuffs II and heading out for a mini-vacation with my wife, I haven't really had time or great desire to blog here. But that has passed and I'm back.

I've been in Birmingham, Alabama to attend the 13th Annual Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference.

The first day was an education symposium. I skipped that. Thursday night was a "Meet and Greet" at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Feeling like a fish out of water by only knowing one other attendee, I floundered and soon found my comfort zone. I hid behind some columns until my friend Bryan was done talking with some other people. I don't remember the exact chain of events, but soon I was introduced to Billy Ray Haggins who played with Memphis Red Sox. I squatted down beside him, asked a few questions and started to listen. He told marvelous stories. About how the industrial teams provided him with all the equipment that he needed, save his glove. How he only had three or four gloves in his whole career, and only one of them was new. How his last glove "wandered off" after he was involved in an old timers game somewhere. How he wanted to own one again, even though he knew he'd never use it.

The conference was held at the Sheraton-Birmingham. Talks were given about players and teams, barnstorming sessions and race relations. There was a player panel and an authors panel. There was a trip to Rickwood Field and then on to Regions Park where the Barons beat the Diamond Jaxx, 8-3.

I met some wonderful people, learned some good research techniques, made memories and gave a nickname to a fellow SABR-ite. Hi, "Raybro".

And in the goody bag that I got at the registration table were some goodies.

2005 Judy Johnson Negro League Night Card - Bill Cash

The Judy Johnson Memorial Fund's purpose is to "educate the general public on the interesting forgotten history of Negro League Baseball", among other things. If you like this card, you can purchase it and many more through the JJMF blog.

2010 Rickwood Field Advertising Card

Rickwood Field is an interesting place. It was built 100 years ago. And they're getting ready to celebrate. Thousands of young men and women have played there over the years.

Click on photo for a larger image. For more photos of the conference, please visit my Picasa folder. There's only 141 other images. Click the link. You know you want to.

In the coming days I'll be sharing other stories and images from the conference.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Get 'em while they're hot

That's right, you can purchase the Topps Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 2010 All-Star Game Edition Team Set with 6 Topps Packs of Cards. All for about the price of a blaster from Wal-Mart.

But wait, there's more. You get six Topps Packs of Cards. Wow.

My prediction is National League over the American League, 7-5.

I also predicted that the Hair Blocker would catch on.

July Huggins and Scott Auction Catalog

I received this catalog in the mail on Saturday. I vowed I would do a quick review and highlight before the auction starts on July 28th. I'm two weeks early.

The folks at Huggins & Scott have put together another fine catalog. It is full of a variety of sports, entertainment and general history items.

I've selected five items that interest me, although there are many, many more to choose from.

Title: "Big Six" Christy Mathewson Original Game - Framed
Lot#: 130
Description: Offered is an original 1922 Christy Mathewson "Big Six" game framed to the overall dimensions of 28x39 inches. The graphics are still prominent although slightly faded. The box cover of this Big Six Christy Mathewson Indoor Baseball Game is framed side-by-side with the actual game board with both pieces showing moderate wear and staining. The frame has several screw holes and abrasions, as this seldom-seen relic had hung in Joe Theismann's restaurant. Piroxloid Products out of New York, NY chose wisely by using the great Christian Gentleman as the centerpiece of their product, and the winning bidder can make the same choice by securing this fine piece.
Opening Price: $200
My Thoughts: I like games. Even though this one is framed, it shows that a lot of thought went into the mechanics of the game. I'd probably remove it and try to play. It would be interesting to examine the game and then figure out what the percentages of each possible outcome would be and code it.

Title: 1968 Milton Bradley Win-A-Card Game with Sealed Pack of (100) Cards
Lot #: 124
Description:Featured is an original 1968 Milton Bradley Win-A-Card board game highlighted by a factory sealed pack of (100) cards. The elusive 1968 Milton Bradley set contained baseball, football and hot-rod cards. This assembly depicts baseball players Pappas, Pierce and Stoneman atop three of the 25-card stacks, with a hot-rod card situated on the other. Although not visible, football singles are also possible. These cards grade (NM-MT), barring centering imperfections visible on the four top examples. This jumbo pack may contain coveted cards such as Aaron and Ryan RC along with tougher yellow letter variations. The original board with spinner, box bottom and top (all NM) are included, making for a superlative vintage collaboration between two great American giants, Milton Bradley and Topps.
Opening Bid: $750
My Thoughts: See above. I like games. The cellophane wrapping would be off of those cards in a minute.

Title: 1887 N28 Allen & Ginter Charles Comiskey SGC 50
Lot #: 3
Description: Graded 50 VG-EX 4 by SGC. The pioneering Charles Comiskey is portrayed on the offered 1887 N28 Allen & Ginter keepsake. This mid-grade antique is crease-free, displaying modest corner and edge wear. The checklist reverse has sustained minimal age induced soiling.
Opening Bid: $200
My Thoughts: How can you not love this card? The smile. The cap. The look of optimism. And an original A&G card.

Title: 1921 Wool’s American-Maid Bread Frank Baker (SGC 30)—Only Graded from Set
Lot #: 9
Description: Graded 30 Good 2 by SGC. Presented is a 1921 Wool’s American-Maid Bread Frank “Home Run” Baker Type card. This W551 offshoot is presently the only example to have been judged by the third-party service. The surface projects impressive multi-colored hues, while the reverse is boldly stamped in black ink. A combination of wear including obverse soiling and creasing accounts for the technical grade.
Opening Bid: $150
My Thoughts: I like the fact that this is an image of a Baker on a Bread card.

Title: 1910s Boston Red Sox Porcelain Doll
Lot #: 129
Description: Baseball's juggernaut prior to being felled by the infamous "Curse of the Bambino," the Boston Red Sox were perennial champions before their ill-fated sale of Ruth. During their stellar 1910s decade, appropriate homage was paid to the BoSox in the form of treasures like this vintage doll. Clad in a thin cotton one-piece uniform with "RED SOX" arched across the chest in felt characters, the composite doll stands 13" in height and has a porcelain head and a cotton cap with a felt bill. The body feels to be horsehair or straw stuffed. A crack on the back on the head has been repaired. The uniform shows age-induced discoloration, and the felt lettering has become partially detached with portions of the "E" missing. A unique Carmines heirloom.
Opening Bid: $300
My Thoughts: Chucky's great-grandfather? I don't know that I'd really want to own this, but I found it curious.

Image Credits: all lifted from the Huggins & Scott auction site, as well as the descriptions.  Used with permission.

I was getting tired of linking to the lots and finding, months later, that all traces of the auction were gone. This way, if the original disappears, I've still got something.

Monday, July 12, 2010

National Druggist Baseball Flip Formula

I was poking around Google Books and came across this interesting recipe in the volume 46 of the National Druggist (1916):
Baseball Flip
One ounce strawberry syrup. 1 ounce pineapple syrup, add one egg and some shaved ice. Shake, strain, and fill glass with plain soda, using fine stream moderately. Top with powdered cinnamon.
This is nestled in such other concoctions as Turkish Punch, Perry Cocktail, Coffee Flip, Raspberry Ambrosia, and the American Cordial.

I haven't tried it, but it doesn't sound so terribly awful.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Speak Softly

and carry a big... ah, never mind.
1993 Topps, Henry Mercedes (card #602)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Coolio's hosting a Cool Contest

Coolio is hosting a simple contest. Name your favorite player, what team they played for and why you like them. Official rules can be found at Coolio's blog. Help spread Coolio's generosity.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Baseball on the Funny Pages

There are a few comic strips that have a recurring baseball storyline or some regular baseball references. Peanuts comes to mind. Baseball Dad posted a few panels of Steve Moore's In the Bleachers. You can find many others here.

The two that I stumbled across are The Heart of Juliet Jones and Steve Canyon. Soap opera-y strips. These came from May 19, 1958. (click on the panel for a larger image).

Juliet Jones

Steve Canyon

No, I didn't search out panels from the following days. I don't know what happens. Don't ask.

Images snagged from the Plattsburgh Press-Republican.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Part of the Family

1983 Fritsch One-Year Winners, Ray Blemker (card #112)

In 1960 the Baseball Digest said of Ray Blemker,
Throws hard, has good control for novice, but needs more experience.
On July 3, 1960, fifty years ago today, Ray "Buddy" Blemker got some experience.

In the seventh inning of a game at Fenway, Ray Blemker came in to replace Don Larsen for the Kansas City Athletics. It wasn't a great outing for Ray. He got the first batter he faced to fly out. Then he hit the second batter he faced. Walks the next batter to load the bases. Walks the next batter to push in a run. Then gives up a homer to clear the bases. In the eighth inning he threw a wild pitch, allowing a runner to advance. He pitched 1.2 innings, giving up 3 hits and 5 runs, all earned. 27 ERA. He never pitched in the majors again.

Before being called up he played for the Sioux City Soos in the 3I league. And then the Shreveport Sports of the Southern Association. The next year, 1960, he made it to AAA Dallas Fort-Worth Rangers. And then he found his way to the majors. For just that one game.

He returned to the Shreveport Sports to finish out the season. 1961 found him playing for the Hawaii Islanders of the Pacific Coast League. And then back to Shreveport. In 1962, as a 24 year old and a father of two young children, he played for the Binghamton Triplets and later for the Albuquerque Dukes. That was his last year with professional baseball.

Why am I featuring Ray Blemker today? I found out yesterday that he was the husband to my wife's 1st cousin 2 times removed. I'm interested in family history and have had Ray in my database for years. But I didn't know that he was involved in baseball until yesterday when my mother-in-law and I were talking about it.

Buddy (#45) with the 1953 Huntingburg Happy Hunters,
the 1953 Southern Indiana Athletic Conference high school basketball champions.

Ray is a member of the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame and also a member of Georgia Tech's Athletic Hall of Fame.

Ray passed away in 1994 in Evansville, Indiana. I hope to get hold of some photos of Ray from his family.

Friday, July 2, 2010

2010 Tennessee Smokies baseball cards

I received an email last week or so that the 2010 Smokies team card sets are now available.

The Smokies are doing well, sending some of their roster up to the AAA club in Des Moines and having to send a few down to their A club in Daytona Beach.

The Southern League North Division All-Star team, which will be played on July 12th will include the following Smokies as starters: Tony Campana, Robinson Chirinos and Blake Lalli. They will be joining their teammates Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Ryan Buchter, David Cales, Hung-Wen Chen and Steve Clevenger. The Huntsville Stars will host the game.

Tennessee finished 3 games ahead of West Tenn at the break with a 42-27 record. Bill Dancy's doing something right over there.

I'll be attending the Birmingham Barons / West Tenn Diamond Jaxx game on Friday, July 16th as part of the Jerry Malloy Negro Leagues Conference. I'm looking forward to taking a few days off of work with my wife and experiencing the hospitality that is Birmingham. One of her crafty (read: quilting) friends is coming to visit her during the daytime while I'm at the conference. I don't think that her idea of fun is listening to lectures about the Negro Leagues. To each his (or her) own.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

1974 Topps Team Checklists

I found a stack of these at my local antique store in south Knoxvegas several months ago. I wasn't familiar with them, but the price was right so I picked them up.

Here's the description from my copy of the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards:
This set is a repeat of the 1973 set in the form of 24 unnumbered 2-1/2" x 3-1/2" checklist cards. Cards feature a team name on the front at the top with a white panel and a number of facsimile autographs below. Backs feature the team name and a checklist. The big difference between the 1973 and 1974 checklists is that the 1973s have blue borders while the 1974s have red borders. The 1974s were inserted into packages of the regular issue Topps cards and were also available in uncut sheet form as a wrapper redemption.
Since they are not numbered the SCBC lists them alphabetically. The number behind the team is the quantity of card I have. You see that I have some duplicates. The asterisks I will deal with later.

(1) Atlanta Braves - 3 *, **
(2) Baltimore Orioles *, **
(3) Boston Red Sox - 2 *, **
(4) California Angels *, **
(5) Chicago Cubs *, **
(6) Chicago White Sox - 1 *, **
(7) Cincinnati Reds *
(8) Cleveland Indians - 2 *, **
(9) Detroit Tigers
(10) Houston Astros - 1 *, **
(11) Kansas City Royals - 1 *, **
(12) Los Angeles Dodgers - 2 *, **
(13) Milwaukee Brewers *
(14) Minnesota Twins *, **
(15) Montreal Expos **
(16) New York Mets - 2 *, **
(17) New York Yankees
(18) Oakland A’s - 1 *, **
(19) Philadelphia Phillies - 2 **
(20) Pittsburgh Pirates - 2 *
(21) St. Louis Cardinals *
(22) San Diego Padres - 1 *, **
(23) San Francisco Giants - 1 *, **
(24) Texas Rangers - 3 *, **

Seeing Rico Petrocelli's autograph reminded me of the TV series, Petrocelli. My mom really used to like that. It came out in 1974 as well.

The cards I have are rather miscut. Okay, very miscut.

Some of the cards I have are partially filled in, others are not. I haven't figured out why Bucky McBallplayer is trying to shot-put the baseball, though.

Note the bottom of the Phillies checklist. **©T.C.G. PRTD. IN U.S.A.

Now note the bottom of the Dodgers checklist. *©T.C.G. PRTD. IN U.S.A.

Why the difference in the number of asterisks? If you go back to the list of teams, you'll see listed which cards I've verified as having one or two stars. By verified, I mean actually looking at the cards, or images of cards on ebay or This is not to say that if the list only has one asterisk that there is not a card with two. I just haven't verified it, yet.

This post will be my little checklist of checklists.