Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Old Mill Newspaper Advertisements

I was doing a bit of research the other day for a fellow SABR member. I saw an unrelated newspaper ad for "Chinese Baseball". While looking at that page, I found an ad for Old Mill Cigarettes.  We know them as the the cigarettes that came with the T-206 baseball cards.

The earliest ad that I found was from early March, 1910.  The cards were positioned as "Baseball pictures".  I've gathered a sampling of the ads from various states and present them in chronological order.

The Times Dispatch - Richmond, Virginia
March 2, 1910

Daily Public Ledger - Maysville, Kentucky
April 8, 1910

Daily Public Ledger - Maysville, Kentucky
June 10, 1910

Daily Public Ledger - Maysville, Kentucky
June 17, 1910

Daily Public Ledger - Maysville, Kentucky
June 24, 1910

In Texas, the ad copy varies.  They are featuring "Texas League baseball pictures".
Palestine Daily Herald - Palestine, Texas
September 12, 1910

El Paso Herald - El Paso, Texas
October 18, 1910

In Honolulu, they drop the ad copy, but continue to show the picture of the pack with the cards.
Evening Bulletin - Honolulu, Territory of Hawai'i
July 20, 1911

Evening Bulletin - Honolulu, Territory of Hawai'i
August 17, 1911

There probably are other examples showing various sporting or manly type activities.  Although women are featured in some of the ads, they are not shown smoking.

This is not a 'new' find.  Guys on the Net 54 Vintage Baseball Card Forum were discussing this in December of 2008.

UPDATE: I found a site,, that has 26 different Old Mill ads.  There is nothing new under the sun.

images from the Library of Congress's Chronicling America - Historic American Newspapers

Friday, September 23, 2011

1992 Mother's Cookies

Back in 1992 the Mother's Cookies produced several sets of team cards. A's, Astros, Dodgers, Giants, Mariners, Padres, and Rangers, as well as small sets of Jeff Bagwell, Chuck Knoblauch, and Nolan Ryan.

This particular card came to me from Greg at Night Owl Cards.  He recently whined commented on wanting to see Mr. Hershiser in a Dodger uniform.  Here you go, Greg.

1992 Mother's Cookies Dodgers
Orel Hershiser (card #6)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Author Interview - Joseph Wallace

Ruby Thomas had never seen anything as beautiful as Ebbets Field, with its brick exterior and half-moon windows that reminded her of slices of jelly candy.
This is the first line of Joesph Wallace's Diamond Ruby.

Earlier this year I was introduced to this book by way of Ron Kaplan's Baseball Bookshelf.  I picked up the sample chapters for my Kindle, devoured them quickly and then ordered a copy of the book from amazon.  I contacted the author, Joseph Wallace, and he gladly sent a Diamond Ruby baseball card my way.  I read the book, had more interaction with Joe (he lets me call him Joe).  I asked for an interview, which he agreed to.

First, my review.

Prohibition is enforced.  The Spanish Influenza epidemic is rampant.  Babe Ruth is king.  Ruby Thomas can throw a baseball.  In the pages of Diamond Ruby Joseph Wallace transported me to Brooklyn in the late 1910s and early 1920s.  His writing style is engaging and colorful.  I got sucked in early and didn't know how the title character would overcome the hardships that were placed before her.  If you're looking for a book about sugar and spice and everything nice, this isn't for you.  If you want a book that can speak to you on several levels, let me suggest this one.

I have seen reviews that say that Diamond Ruby is an essential take-to-the-beach-on-summer-vacation book.  One to laze around with.  I'm going to one up that.  Diamond Ruby is an essential book for fans of baseball, period pieces, good literature, and books in general.  Read it.  Buy a copy.  Give it to your friends.  Then buy another copy for yourself.

Joseph Wallace

Q: Diamond Ruby is set in Brooklyn. You obviously did a lot of research to be able to paint such wonderful word pictures. What sources did you use? How long did your research take before writing? Did you start writing the story line and then flesh out the details?

A: I couldn't write Diamond Ruby until I felt like I was living inside the 1920s Brooklyn world where it was set. To do this, I haunted the New York Public Library's Microfilm Room and read through at least half a dozen newspapers, day by day, one after another. By the time I was done, I'd learned so much about how people lived, what they worried about, what they did for fun. Their world did feel real to me, sometimes even more vivid than the one I was actually living in.

Q: Is your writing style more like "lock myself in a room every morning until I produce 1,000 words" or "writing at the dining room table with kids and pets running amok"? Maybe somewhere in the middle?

A: I need quiet to be able to write well. When I was writing Ruby, I'd go away for three days at a time every few weeks and stay in a motel. It was a kind of sensory deprivation, just me in that room with no distractions, and the words would come pouring out. Sometimes I'd write for fourteen hours a day. My reward would be one good meal in a local hotel.

Q: One of the characters, Helen, is blind. Were you consciously more descriptive in your writing because of that?

A: Helen, like Ruby, was modeled on a real person: a stunt diver who went blind after a tragic accident. I thought of my Helen as the kind of person--strong-willed, brave, plain-spoken--who could get past Ruby's reserve, her solitary nature. She was the kind of friend Ruby would need, so it was easy to write vividly, visually, around her.

Q: Since you weave real people (Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, Judge Landis) into the book, did you have to overcome any fears of putting the right words into their mouths?

A: I was definitely nervous about making Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey into important characters! I'm usually suspicious of writers who put words into the mouths of real historical figures. My solution was to have readers see them only through Ruby's eyes. You're never inside their heads, listening to their thoughts. You see them as Ruby does, smart and funny, but never being too wild in front of this tough young girl.

Q: As a writer, does it bring you pain or grief when one of the characters you create dies?

A: Yes, sometimes it's difficult to kill off a character, especially ones who don't deserve it. In Diamond Ruby, Ruby faces some significant tragedies; those were very hard to write because they hurt Ruby (a character I was very fond of).

Q: You've mentioned that you are working on a follow-up book with Diamond Ruby. How's that going? Do you have a publication date?

A: I hope to be done with my sequel to Diamond Ruby, to be set in Hollywood in 1927, sometime next year. Before I get back to it, though, I'm finishing a big thriller, featuring dozens of characters and locations as far-flung as Australia, Panama, Senegal...and Brooklyn!

Q: What's your favorite flavor of frozen custard?

A: I love vanilla frozen custard, but I definitely won't say no to other flavors.

I'd like to thank the author for his time and permission to use his photograph.  Yes, I asked.  For more information about Joseph Wallace, visit his official website.  To purchase a copy of Diamond Ruby go here.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Live Blog - Smokies vs Baybears - final innings

In the eighth inning, things started to go in favor of the Smokies. Men were getting on, runs were being scored. What was 2-1 became 2-4, Smokies. A pitching change here, a pinch runner there and they end up winning.

Brian Harper

Just after the Smokies won, I swung my camera to catch a shot of the Baybears dugout.  What my lens autofocused on was Roger.  To see some real baseball photographs, visit his flickr page.

The end to a good night at the ballpark.

For baseballish details, go read the box score.  Game time on Sunday is 5:00pm.

Many thanks go out to Adam Kline and the wonderful staff of the Smokies for a good time tonight, and the whole season.

Live Blog - Smokies vs Baybears - part deux

Now it is the top of the 7th.  Same score, 2-1.  The Smokies had runners in scoring position but couldn't bring them in.

Back to Roger.  He's a photographer.  You might have seen his camera.  A few weeks back, in trying to protect his camera from a hard hit foul ball, his hand took the brunt of the force.  A broken bone, but he's back.  Roger is one of four boys in his family.  He and two of the older brothers collected baseball cards back in the 1950s and 1960s.  He told me that the played some sort of fantasy game with them, so they were well worn / well loved.   The three older brothers moved on to other pursuits and out of the house.  When they returned they found that their young brother had traded them away for something.  He doesn't remember what, but they weren't pleased with him for a bit.  Roger acknowledges that the cards, being in the condition they were in, probably wouldn't be worth much today.    My guess is that he misses them more for the nostalgia than for the value.

In the third inning there was a close play at first.  The ball bounced but it looked to me that the runner, a Baybear, was out.  Close, but out.  The umpire agreed with me.  We didn't consult.  The Baybear players in the dugout took exception withe the umpire's call.  All of a sudden they were rooting for Florida University.  Which was strange, because the UT game was over and technically it is the University of Florida.  Then all of a sudden, the home plate umpire decides that one of the Baybear pitchers should take the rest of the game off.  I haven't heard that much language in concert in quite a while.

Turner Ward, Baybears Manager

Turner Ward, manager, was an outfielder for a number of teams from 1990 to 2001.  I don't remember seeing his baseball card.

Now it is top of the 8th.  Score still 2-1.

Win or lose, fireworks show after the game.

Live Blog - Smokies vs Baybears

It is now in the top of the 4th. Baybears have a 2-1 lead. I was on the first base side taking some photos during the player introductions and then moved over to the third base dugout to take more photos. I think I spent more time talking to Roger than using the camera.  More about my talk with Roger later


It is now in the bottom of the 5th inning.  You can see what's happening in the game by visiting the MiLB Gameday broadcast.

Local HS ROTC Color Guard
One of the things that I love about attending baseball games is the patriotism.

Long hallway to the visitor's dugout
Everyone has to take a photo like this.  Sort of like a publicity photo of your band in front of a brick wall.

Play at the Plate

Don is part of guest services. He is stationed at the the elevator that goes up to the suites and the press booth. He's always smiling, always pleasant. Another thing I like about going to ball games.

Live Blog - Smokies vs Baybears - pregame

I'm fortunate enough to be at Smokies Park for game 3 of the Southern League Championship.  The Mobile Baybears are up two games to none over the Tennessee Smokies.  The game is scheduled to start at 7:15pm.  I arrived shortly after 6pm.  Still plenty of parking.  On the elevator ride up to the press booth Adam Kline, the Smokies Director of Media Relations, extended his hand and called me by name.  The Smokies have a good staff.

Since this is Saturday and we are in Vols country, the CBS feed is being played on the scoreboard.  Tennessee just scored.  It is now 13-30, Florida.

I'm off to snap some photos.  Back soon.

Nothing like football at the ballpark.

Bryan Steverson's excellent book, Amazing Baseball Heroes.

Bill's Dream Job.  Except at another stadium.

I'm eating BBQ sandwich, corn on the cob, salad, and fried zucchini.  Press booth food is good.  They're getting ready for the pregame ceremonies.  I need to finish my sandwich.

State of the Blog

The state of the blog is good. For the past few weeks I've been sort of looking forward to this post.  33 months or so of blogging.  And this is blog post number 600.  I envisioned streamers falling from the rafters, balloons being launched, the champagne fountain never running dry.

Then I saw the Play at the Plate 1,000th post.  And then the Night Owl's post about blogging for three years. About 1,700 posts on that fine blog.  And then Brian's 30-Year Old Cardboard announced that he just completed post 5,000.

600 doesn't sound so significant, does it?  Well, compared to those maniacs, no.  But in my world, yes.  I didn't know what I was doing when I started this blog.  Hey, I still don't.  My output has diminished.  I stray from cards and indulge myself in a bit of research.  There are days I don't even look at card blogs and I feel like a louse.

Then there are days like last week when I arrived home from work, knowing that a full evening lay ahead with the kids, preparation for a meeting, and a bit of housework.  What do I find in the mailbox?  An envelope from zip code 13601.   I let it sit through dinner, through the bath and then the homework.  I held it, contemplating putting off the other things I had to do.  Later that evening I opened it and out came a team bag with a mess of Hershisers from my want list.  Also tucked into that bag was this Ray Dandridge card.  I'm not going to tell you about him.  Look it up yourself.  Darn, he was good.

2005 Upper Deck Classics
Ray Dandridge (card # 79)

This is one of the many Orel Hershiser cards in the envelope.  There are several variants of these cards.  I still can't tell what they all are.  Sure, I can consult the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards or look to my reference sheets, but I'm too tired right now.  This is my first Hershiser 1998 SPx card.  Greg just wanted it out of his house.  Something about black and orange.  And the team name GIANTS.

1998 SPx Finite - Spectrum
Orel Hershiser (card # 318) (#d/2250)

But this isn't a trade post.  I'll show you more Hershisers in the coming weeks.  Back to the original topic.

Through this blog I've increased my knowledge of cards and card history.

I've made many acquaintances across many states and a few countries, some of which have turned into true friendships.  For that I'm very thankful.

I've traded cards and given them away.

I've learned how to make a fake card well enough to fool another blogger into thinking it was actually part of a checklist.

I've sometimes turned the blog into a vehicle for respect, and I'll continue to do so.

This blog has helped me gain access to the Tennessee Smokies' Press Booth.  That's where I'll be on Saturday night, covering the third game of the Southern League Championship Series.  The Smokies are down 2-0 in a best of 5 series.

I'm happy with where I am and what I've done.  I make no apologies for my slowing down.  For the times I'm not blogging, I'm spending it with my family.  I''m reading.  I'm researching.  I'm enjoying my life as a blogger.

Thank you all for accepting me into this club and supporting me in so many different ways.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I say Micro, you say ...

Soft? Skirt? Scope? How about 1991 Topps Micro? Sure, I knew you could.

This first card came in the mail last week, from everyone's favorite Baseball Dad, Jack from the All Tribe Baseball blog.  It arrived with a note that said that he had a "major addition" for my collection.  Carefully ripping the package open, I saw this.  I don't have the actual size of this card, but it is rather tiny. 

1991 Topps Micro
Orel Hershiser (card # 690)

My initial thought was, "Great, another Cracker Jack card."  I've been sorting my Hershiser cards lately and I didn't remember seeing the Cracker Jack.  I checked Zistle.  I had the Cracker Jack, but not the micro.  Another one off the OH want list.  Thanks, Jack.

1991 Topps Cracker Jack, 2nd Series
Orel Hershiser (card # 17)

For size comparison, here's the standard Topps card.  I think that Orel is saying, "One win?  That's all I got last season?  One?  Great.  Just one loss, too.  Remember that.  I'm a .500 pitcher.  Valenzuela and Belcher are also .500 pitchers.  And Howell.  And Cook.  Ramon?  He's a freak.  Let's see how he does after tearing his rotator cuff.  Wait.  What?  Oh, just one out in this inning?  Okay.  Never mind."
1991 Topps
Orel Hershiser (card # 690)

Now all three cards are tucked safely away in the binder, taking up the top three slots in the 1991 section.

Thanks, again, Jack.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Whitey Hawking Post

I was not even four months old when this issue of LIFE magazine hit the newsstands.  Always nice to see Mark Antony smoking.  And Liz not wearing a wedding ring.

LIFE - April 13, 1962

On page eight of that issue we see Whitey Ford hawking Post Cereal Trading cards. 

image lifted from this ebay auction
I didn't know about these Mantle and Maris cards with advertising backs until doing some searching for baseball related advertising images for a previous blog entry.

This is a far cry from the earliest baseball card advertising I've seen (here and here).

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Smed's Still With Us

Tonight I (and several other bloggers) received a short email from everybody's favorite blogger that is named Smed.  If you follow Smed's Baseball Card Blog, you know that he's been a bit quiet as of late.

He wanted everyone to know that his relocation is going well.  It will be another few weeks before he heads back to Minnesota to retrieve his collection, but to fill a yen to rip he did pick up a few packs of Gypsy Queen and A&G.

He sent this postcard along so he must be doing okay.

Hall of Fame Relic Card - Orlando Cepeda

2003 Topps ARTifact, Orlando Cepeda (card # AR-OC)

Cepeda, a seven time All-Star, was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1958. It wasn't until 1967 that he won the NL MVP. In 1967 he led the NL in two categories: RBI - 111 and HBP - 12. He spent eight full seasons in San Francisco before being traded to St. Louis for Ray Sadecki. Then a series of trades, releases, and signings with Atlanta, Oakland, Boston, and Kansas City. He played three games with the Athletics.  He went 0-3.  There's a career stop over to be proud of.  He was part of the 1967 World Champions team but batted rather anemically, just .103 for the series.  He was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veteran's Committee in 1999.

I won this on ebay for $1.41, plus $2.50 shipping. Under my $5.00 self imposed limit.  That was over two years ago.  I don't know why I'm just now blogging about this.  Perhaps because I haven't been showing too many cards recently.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Association Men

The Young Men's Christian Association was formed in the United States in 1851. This was seven years after it had formed in England. The YMCA promoted clean living, physical exercise, fellowship, and Bible study. While poking around Google Books I came across this article from one of the Y's house organs.

Association Men - 1914

I guess one could interpret the stats in a variety of ways.  Perhaps drinking and playing ball was good when you were young, but as you got older, drinking hampered your batting.  Look who did the research.  None other than Hugh Fullerton.  A few years later he exposed the evils of baseball and gambling.

The lure of the drink is strong.  Several players showed up in ads through the decades and some distillers used the game as a backdrop.
LIFE - May 12, 1952

I found a few other nice images from the pages of Association Men showing the young men playing the national pastime.
Association Men - July, 1904

Association Men - July, 1904

Association Men - 1914

Friday, September 2, 2011

Star Skating Rink & Base Ball Grounds

Back in July Paul H., a fellow member of SABR, asked about the location of the Star Park in Covington, Kentucky.  Paul runs Project Ballpark.

A few members answered Paul, including me.  I hopped on Google and searched.  I found it.  Clearly the Internet is paying off.  Here's what I found.
from Green Cathedrals by Philip J. Lowry

As I looked at it the info was rather vague. "Just across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio".  Really?  That's an awful lot of shore.  I found a map of Covington from 1874, but it didn't show any ball park.

Wait.  The Philadelphia Pearls?  Was that really a team?  A bit more research told me that from 1873 to 1875 the Philadelphia team in the National Association was named the White Stockings (also known as the Whites or the Pearls).  Who did they play?

More searching led me to this 1883 map from   Eight years after the ball game had been played.

Boone - Kenton - Campbell Counties 1883 published by D.J. Lake

A bit more poking around and I found this non watermarked version.  I don't remember exactly from where I retrieved it.

So, there it was.  On the northwest corner of Scott and Seventeenth.

I emailed Kevin at Seamheads of the good news so that they could update their BallParks database.  They moved the pin on Google maps a bit closer from where they had it, but it still isn't right.  I need to gently nudge them. UPDATE: I reached out again to Kevin at Seamheads and they said they'd move their pin based on this research, as it "is the best available evidence we have."  He likes to use Sanborn Fire Maps.

On the family vacation that we took at the end of July, we were just minutes from Covington on our way back home.  I asked my wonderful wife if we could take a short tour of the town "Just across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio" and try to find the old ballpark, knowing full well that it wouldn't still be standing.  She said, "yes" and didn't even roll her eyes.  She's wonderful like that.

I've never been to Covington.  Driven by it countless times.  Parts of it seem really nice.  They're doing some renovation, but the town, like scores of others across the land, has seen better days.

looking NW at the corner of Scott and Seventeenth

looking SE from the parking lot that was once the Star Base Ball Grounds
Back to 1875.  September 21 was a Tuesday.  What was a team from Philadelphia doing in Covington, Kentucky?  And who did they play?  Back to the Internet.

According to the Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky the White Stockings' opponents were the Hartford Dark Blues.
Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky - B
According to RetroSheet's Events of Tuesday, September 21, 1875 page, it was the only game played that day and the the score was 13-9, Philadelphia.

So, what did I learn?  I learned that answering a question for a fellow SABR member can be interesting rewarding.

current map of Covington, Kentucky

UPDATE 2: Kevin from SeamHeads indicated that he trusts Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps a bit more than other maps. I did a bit more searching and found two Sanborn Maps at the Kentuckiana Digital Library.

I modified the first image by including the scale on 17th Street.  The second image did not have street names near the block I cropped, but it is the same block as the first image.  There is no ball ground listed, but I could imagine the vacant space in the southwest corner of the block could house a baseball field.

1896 Sanborn Map - Covington, Kentucky

1909 Sanborn Map - Covington, Kentucky