Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Done In By Nature

Photo courtesy: Wikipedia
I've detailed my love and nostalgia many times for the old Cincinnati Gardens on this blog, but further up the road in the Dayton, Ohio suburb of Trotwood, stood another old legendary arena, that being the Hara Arena. Now, I was at only one event at the Hara, and it wasn't even in the main arena itself. It was a baseball card show in one of the adjacent ballrooms and I was helping the card shop owner setup.

From 1964-2016, the building hosted major concerts, sports, and pro wrestling among other things. The Rolling Stones played their first US concert there, Wayne Gretzky made his professional hockey debut for the Indianapolis Racers in the building during a pre-season game against the Cincinnati Stingers. It also hosted ECW's "Heatwave" pay-per-view in 1998, which many say is one of the best events in company history. As far as minor league hockey goes, it was the old hockey barn in Dayton for many years and featured teams such as the Dayton Gems, Dayton Bombers, and Dayton Demonz.

I had hoped at some point to be able to go to an event in the building to experience at least once but due to financial issues (tax liens on the property, etc.), the building closed in the summer of 2016 and over the past few years fell into disrepair.

Recently, the building made the news again.

On Monday night, an outbreak of severe tornadoes struck the Dayton area and caused extensive damage in the Dayton suburbs of Trotwood, Beavercreek, and Riverside. Several of these tornadoes were rated as a EF3 by the National Weather Service. One of the buildings that suffered extensive damage was the Hara Arena. The tornado that hit that particular area was rated as an EF4.

Here's what the building looks like now after the tornadoes ripped through ...

And here's a drone video that local TV station WHIO-TV took the day after:

As you can clearly see, the roof has been shredded and there is debris everywhere. The local TV station did an interview with the current owner of the building who stated he was hopeful it could be salvaged but if not, it would have to be demolished. It would be nice if it could be saved unlike the Gardens but time will tell. 

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Oddballs and Vintage

Normally, this would be the post where I would detail my adventures in the yearly community yard sale. However, this year, aside from an old baseball calendar I bought for 50 cents (post on that coming in due time) and a board game I bought for a dollar for my son, this year was a bust. I knew it was coming, I'd been too lucky the past few years with giant hauls and scores of vintage. I could have kept looking but in the back of my mind, I knew that I still had cards from the haul my mom brought me in March to organize and write about. So, that's what this will be.

Normally, when I'm digging through mega-hauls, I'm expecting card from the mid to late '70s, so imagine my surprise when this 1955 Bowman surfaced. It's not exactly Ernie Banks or Mickey Mantle but any 1955 Bowman is good in my book. 

This is more like what I expected to find. A nice handful of 1978 Topps. This isn't all of them but I'd say these were probably the highlights. Check out that afro on Jose Cardenal!

More late 70s vintage .... some notable names here in Jerry Koosman, Ron Cey, Ray Fosse, Garry Templeton, and Steve Yeager.

More random vintage, a few 1974 Topps Traded, and 1973 Topps Bill Hands, and a 1976 Topps Lou Brock. I find the Bill Hands card to be interesting. He's listed as a member of the Twins, the uniform looks kind of like an early Rangers home uniform, and he's pitching in Wrigley Field.

Along with 1955 Bowman, another unexpected treasure were these 1982 Kellogg's cards. The Fisk card is a little beat up but I don't mind. 

On to the oddities now, there were gobs of these 1987 Hygrade Baseball's All Time Greats cards. Again, I didn't scan them all, just a handful to give a sample. 

More Cap'n Crunch cards. I now have four cards from this set. Maybe the cardboard gods are telling me I should put this set together.

Some Starline Long John Silver's cards. The background on the Glenn Davis card is old Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati.

A couple of Don Mattingly oddballs. The Kaybee Kings card is just wonderful and fits in well with my defunct retail chain collection.

Here's a weird one. This is a promo card from the 1989 CMC Babe Ruth set. Since there were no other cards from the set in this collection, I'm curious now as to how this card ended up in here. According to the back, this was part of a 20-card set that came complete with binder, pages, a hanger box of the set, and a bio pamphlet of the Bambino. All that could be yours for the meager sum of $12.99 apparently.

And I'll close this out with a pair of random oddballs. I've never had a Topps Magazine card before so this will slot nicely into the Indians binder (once I finish purging what I don't want from there). The Revco card is another nice one to add to the defunct retail collection.

Even though the community yard sales were a bust, I still managed to find a few nice cards in my mom's mega haul. And it will keep on giving as there are some treasures I haven't shared yet.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

2019 Donruss Blaster

I've had this blaster of 2019 Donruss sitting around for a while now. I actually bought it a week or so before Opening Day but due to other things, I haven't had the chance to open it until now. 

If you remember last year, I bought three packs of Donruss from the card shop and thought they were horrible. The pictures, the design, everything except the 1984 style cards was bad. Let's see if Donruss redeemed themselves this year.

Here are the base cards. As is the case with Donruss, there are no logos or nicknames. Not that I mind that too much when photos like this do their best to hide that that. The Rhys Hoskins card is a throwback uniform variation that I noticed after sorting these to be scanned. As far as the design this year goes, I don't really mind it. It's pretty simple and doesn't try to be something it's not (and doesn't have wavy lines all over the place either like last year).

Of course, there are nickname variations. These are painless enough.

The two Reds cards I got in my box. Scooter Gennett is inching closer to coming back and re-joining the team after injuring his quad right at the end of spring camp. It makes me wonder though, who will be the odd man out in the infield since Jose Iglesias has been a heck of a fill-in with both his glove and his bat, and Derek Dietrich I think may have usurped Jose Peraza as the everyday second baseman.

Here are a few of the Rated Rookies. I think there was one of these in every pack. These were literally chosen at random. Garrett Hampson is currently hitting .194/.224/.269 with Colorado and was actually optioned back to Triple-A as I write this. Kopech was 1-1 in only four games with the White Sox and will miss the entire 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery.

I think even the most ardent Donruss/Panini hater can probably find some good in the Diamond Kings cards.

Every year since Panini brought Donruss back, they've had the back end of the base set devoted to old designs. This year it's 1985, which I sort of enjoy. As a matter of fact, my favorite Donruss designs are probably from the years 1982-1987. I wonder what they'll do when they reach 1990 as they've already used it for a base set design in 2017.

As it is with Donruss, there's a boatload of parallels and the the like. The Rizzo is numbered to 484 and the design on the Ryan O'Hearn card is called "Independence Day". The back also feels like it's a vintage stock card or something.

Purple parallels! Very cool and very shiny.

Speaking of shiny, there's a four card "bonus" pack with the blasters and inside contained these super shiny cards. I think my favorite of these is the Jose Altuve "Action All-Stars" card. One thing I didn't notice until scanning these is that the Franchise Features cards have a different player on the reverse side.

And would you look at who's on the back of the Kris Bryant, that being Reds top prospect Nick Senzel, who is doing quite well for himself both at the plate and in the field. After seeing him play, I can see why the Reds released Matt Kemp.

So that's a blaster of 2019 Donruss. It's a definite improvement from last year. I like the inserts and parallels, and especially the "Action All-Stars" set.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Gridiron Goodies From the Mega-Haul

I finally had the chance to start sifting through some of the cards from the giant box I featured in the last post. The amount of baseball cards to go through and sort out is just overwhelming. While I'll get to those eventually, I figured I'd start small and look at some of the football cards I decided to keep.

Ickey Woods cards are always a treat. The Starting Lineup card is a duplicate as I purchased that same card from a card show last fall.

More Bengals, both old and somewhat new. The Munoz is another duplicate. It might either end up in the trade bin or in the donation box, not sure yet. The T.J. Houshmanzadeh card was one of the most recent cards in the box.

Starting Lineup cards are some of my favorites to keep. These are from the 1990 set where the yellow cards are considered variations, at least by TCDB. You'll notice as well that the two Herschel Walker cards depict him with different teams. The standard issue (blue) shows him with Minnesota but the variation has him with Dallas.

Some neat cards of some of the top names in football in 1990. I love the card of John Elway running for his life from the Oakland defender.

There's something about team leader cards that I just find fascinating. The Chiefs were 6-10 under coach John Mackovic in 1983 which was good enough for last place in the AFC West with Carlos Carson being named to the Pro Bowl. The Buccaneers were also a last place team, tying Houston for the worst record in the NFL at 2-14.

The Chiefs card reminds me of the "action football" cards I got from the community yard sale last spring (which by the way is only a week away as I write this). I also like the Super Bowl cards as I'm not that familiar with some football history so they help to educate me on past events like that.

Finally, a few cards from the 1990 set and a neat looking Rickey Dudley cards from the NFL Showdown card game. 

With this batch, I feel I've added a nice variety to my football collection. A few things were dupes, like the Ickey Woods and the Anthony Munoz, but other than that, I'd say this is a pretty solid batch of stuff.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

The Original Red Stockings

150 years ago yesterday, professional baseball was born.

On May 4, 1869, the Red Stockings of Cincinnati played the Great Westerns of Cincinnati and won, 45-9. That win set off a streak of 57 consecutive wins against clubs from the National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP). They finished the 1869 season on November 6 by beating the Mutuals of New York, thus becoming the only team to go undefeated a whole season.

That first club consisted of ten players (nine everyday players and one substitute) and so for this piece, I wanted to do a brief look at that original club to see how their career went in organized baseball. For purposes of this exercise, I'll consider "organized baseball" as beginning with the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (aka the National Association or NA) which began play in 1871.

Asa Brainard (P): Played for three different clubs (Washington Olympics, Middletown (CT) Mansfields, and Baltimore Canaries between 1871 and 1874. The top season he had was 1871 with Washington, which had several former Red Stockings players, where he had a 12-15 record over 30 games.

Doug Allison (C): Allison spent ten years in organized baseball playing multiple teams including the New York Mutuals, Hartford Dark Blues, and Providence Grays. The catcher for the 1869 team, he also played outfield and first base in his later seasons. However, the most notable thing that Allison contributed to the game was the use of a catching glove. Other catchers had used gloves on and off during the time but Allison had one of the earliest documented use of a gloves on June 28, 1870.

Charlie Gould (1B): The only Red Stockings player who was actually from Cincinnati, Gould played two seasons in Boston (1871, 1872) and then came back and played 1874 with Baltimore where he reunited with his old Red Stockings teammate Asa Brainerd, and then returned to Cincinnati for the 1876 and 1877 seasons. An interesting trivia note, Gould was the manager for the 1876 Reds, which was also the first season of the National League.

Charlie Sweasy (2B): Sweasy played here and there from 1871-1875, but joined the new Reds of the brand new National League in 1876 where he played second base under fellow Red Stockings player Charlie Gould. Sweasy and also played 55 games for the 1878 Providence Grays. After retiring, he worked various odd jobs selling oysters and working as a watchman.

George Wright (SS): One of only two Hall of Famers on the original squad, Wright played mainly in Boston and Providence from 1871-1882. In 1875, he amassed an astonishing 401 plate appearance with 408 at-bats with 61 RBIs. In 1876 and 1877, he led the majors in games played, plate appearance, and at-bats. In 1879, he managed the Providence Grays to the National League pennant with a 59-25 record.

Fred Waterman (3B): The person who manned the hot corner for the Red Stockings, appeared in only 61 games in organized baseball over parts of four seasons. His best season was probably the 1871 season where he hit .316 and was fifth in the league in runs scored. In the field, he was also stellar finishing second in both putouts and assists. According to his SABR biography, very little is known about Waterman outside of baseball and he supposedly worked odd jobs around Cincinnati after his career was over. 

Andy Leonard (LF): Leonard will go down in history as the first Irish-born professional baseball player. During that historic 1869 season, he accomplished a feat that will never be matched in modern baseball, that being hitting for the cycle in one inning. He joined a number of fellow Red Stockings teammates on the 1871 Washington squad and then spent the remainder of his professional career with Boston in both the National Association and the National League. He tried a comeback to the Reds in 1880 but retired in the middle of that campaign. 

Harry Wright (CF/Mgr): The other Hall of Famer on the 1869 team, Wright was the man who, along with team president Aaron Champion, put the team together. Wright was not only the centerfielder for the club but was also the manager. After the club disbanded after the 1870 season, Wright set up shop in Boston with a new Red Stockings club. Between 1871 and 1875, the Boston team won every National Association pennant except for the inaugural pennant. He also captained the 1877 and 1878 Boston team to the NL Pennant. Wright managed the Providence Grays for two seasons and the Phillies (aka Quakers) for 10 seasons.

Cal McVey (RF): The youngest member of the Red Stockings, McVey was only 18 when he suited up for the club on that historic day. He followed Harry Wright to Boston when the National Association began play in 1871 and played for them four out of the next five seasons, with a brief detour to Baltimore in between. In 1876, when the National League replaced the National Association, McVey joined the White Stockings in Chicago and spent the next two seasons there before spending his final two seasons with the Reds. He played minor league ball in California for a number of seasons after and was a honored guest of the Reds as part of the 1919 World Series.

Dick Hurley (Sub): Before his involvement with the Red Stockings, Hurley played on the Buckeyes of Cincinnati amateur team, which was one of the top teams in the Midwest. Harry Wright recruited him to be the substitute player for the Red Stockings at $600 per season. After the Red Stockings dissolved, Hurley's only appearances in organized baseball were the first two games of the 1872 season for the Washington Olympics where he went 0 for 7.

I hope you enjoyed reading about the original Cincinnati Red Stockings team. I certainly enjoyed looking them up. I knew of some of the players but most of them I didn't. I can definitely say I learned something new as well.

Research credit: Baseball Reference, SABR Bio Project, Wikipedia

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

A Monster of a Box

I'm not sure who Brandon is, nor am I sure how this grimy old bankers box became littered with holes and tears with a lid wrapped up in old packing tape. One thing is definitely for certain though, this box contains baseball cards .... and lots of them!

Over the course of a rainy Saturday night a few weeks ago, I decided to start the process of organizing this beast. Here's a quick picture I snapped about a quarter of the way through.

Just look at that. 

The majority of the box was baseball cards, probably about 95% of it. There was also some basketball, football, and a very small selection of hockey cards. When all was said and done, I'd estimate there to be about 3,800 cards in here as it filled up a 3,200 count monster box and nearly a row of another one.

I then went through everything again to decide what to keep and what to donate. I ended up filling up five grocery bags worth and dropped them off at the local Goodwill last week.

Here's the final product after two rounds of sorting and organizing ...

The right two rows are miscellaneous cards I kept from the box, roughly about 1,500 or so I'd say. The all black row is nothing but 1986 Topps. I think there's enough here to warrant starting a set but they still need to be sorted by number. The last row (left side) is another pile of cards from the remainder of the haul with the Ziploc bag in the back that will be going to a teacher friend of mine to be used as rewards for her students.

I'm now in the process of figuring out blog posts for all of this and taking the first round of pictures. More to come on this behemoth ...