Thursday, December 30, 2010

#133 Fred Lindstrom

This #133 Fred Lindstrom is one of several recent pickups for my set. As will be shown in future posts, it is an example of the lower grade cards that I have been adding to the set in an attempt to be more budget conscious. This particular card came from an eBay auction, which I won for about $15, which I think is a bargain for a Hall of Famer. It was ungraded and I recently submitted it to SGC, which graded it as a 30 (Good).
Lindstrom was a third basemen and outfielder who played from 1924-1936, primarily for the New York Giants, but also for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, and Brooklyn Dodgers. He made a name for himself in 1924 when, at age 18, he got into 52 games for the Giants and batted .333 in a losing effort to the Washington Senators in the World Series. His two best seasons were 1928 and 1930, when he batted .358/.383/.511 (132 OPS+) and .379/.425/.575 (141 OPS+), respectively. He finished second in the MVP voting in 1928.
Lindstrom is a very dubious Hall of Fame selection, gaining election in 1977 from the Veteran's Committee. He only had three excellent seasons (1928, 1930, and 1933). Of his thirteen seasons in the majors, he only played in 130 games or more in seven of those seasons and he was out of baseball at age 30. Lindstrom appears to be among the small subset of players that were elected based on a career batting average over .300. Lindstrom posted a very solid .311 career batting average, but didn't have plus power or plate discipline, resulting in a pedestrian (by Hall of Fame standards) career 110 OPS+. In all, Lindstrom was a solid player, a consistent hitter, but something short of a Hall of Famer. It's hard to justify Lindstrom's inclusion in the Hall of Fame when far more deserving contemporaries such as Babe Herman (who will be featured in a future post) are not enshrined.

Back after a long layoff...

I haven't posted on this blog for so long, but I'm going to try to resurrect it with more frequent posts going forward. Over the nine months or so since my last post, I have expanded the sets that I am collecting (1934 Goudey, E96 and E96 Philadelphia Caramel, among others), which has caused me to re-allocate my collecting resources. The 1933 Goudey set is still one of my main focuses, but I have decided to collect it in lower grade condition so that it doesn't devour my entire collecting budget. As a result, I have sold off many of the cards that I previously posted about, including the #181 Babe Ruth, as well as Lefty Grove, Lynford Lary, and Tony Cuccinello. I have picked up some additional lower grade cards for the set, including some Hall of Famers, which I will be posting about on a regular basis.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

#220 Lefty Grove

This is one of my favorite cards in the set (have I been saying that about every card?). I like the vivid and colorful depiction of the ballfield and it certainly doesn't hurt that it features one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history. I picked up this card from Heritage Auctions a couple of months ago. It's a solid SGC 50, with no creases or wrinkles. With a little better centering, it might have had a shot at grading as a 60.

Robert "Lefty" Grove's career really speaks for itself, so I'll just highlight some of his impressive achievements. Grove pitched for 17 seasons from 1925-1941 for the Philadelphia Athletics (1925-1933) and Boston Red Sox (1933-1941). For his career, Grove was 300-141, with a 3.06 ERA and 2,266 Ks (which is a lot for the era in which he pitched - he led the AL in strikeouts for seven consecutive seasons from 1925-1931). His career 148 ERA+ is fourth-best all-time, behind Mariano Rivera (202!), Pedro Martinez (154) and Jim Devlin (151).

His best season was 1931 when he was named MVP after going 31-4 with a 2.06 ERA (219 ERA+) and 27 complete games. That season, Connie Mack's squad went 107-45, but lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series in seven games. A win in that series would have made three in a row, as the A's won in 1929 and 1930. In eight career World Series appearances, Grove went 4-2 with a 1.75 ERA and 4 complete games in 5 starts.

Following the 1933 season, the A's traded Grove, along with Max Bishop and Rube Walberg to the Red Sox for Bob Kline, Rabbit Warstler, and $125,000. Unless the A's were on the brink of bankruptcy and needed the cash, it was a mistake. Kline and Warstler washed out and Grove led the league in ERA in 1935, 1936, 1938, and 1939. Over eight seasons in Boston, Grove went 105-62 with a 3.34 ERA (143 ERA+)

Grove was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1947.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

#157 Sam Byrd

This is the final card from the batch of PSA crossovers that I recently received back from SGC; the card was originally a PSA 5 and crossed over at the same grade to an SGC 60. It has a clean surface, but the corners and centering keep it from grading higher. Sam Byrd is pictured as a member of the New York Yankees, in an action pose set against a ballfield background.

Byrd played parts of 8 seasons as an outfielder with the Yankees and the Cincinnati Reds. He was a decent hitter, posting a career .274/.350/.412 line (103 OPS+) in nearly 2000 plate appearances. His best season was 1932, when he hit .297/.385/.478 (127 OPS+) in 243 plate appearances. He saw his only postseason action that year, when he went hitless in his only at-bat in the World Series, in which the Yankees swept the Chicago Cubs.

Byrd has one of the great baseball nicknames - "Babe Ruth's Legs," which he earned for his frequent appearances as a late-inning pinch runner for the aging Ruth.

Byrd's last season in the majors was 1936, after which he became a professional golfer, winning six times on the PGA Tour from 1942-46. He made it to the finals of the 1945 PGA Championship, losing to Byron Nelson in match play and twice finished in the top five at the Masters. According to Wikipedia, he is only person to compete in both the World Series and the Masters. His golf prowess must have been well-known prior to his going pro, as the back of his 1933 Goudey card describes him as "one of the best golfers in professional baseball."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

#193 Lynford Lary

This card was also in the batch of PSA crossovers that I recently received back from SGC. The card was originally a PSA 6 and crossed over at the same grade to SGC 80. It's a nice example, with great centering and good corners. On the design side, it's not one of the better efforts in the set, with a yellow background that is a little blah for a guy with such a great name.

Lynford Lary, nicknamed "Broadway," played parts of 12 seasons as a shortstop with the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Washington Senators, St. Louis Browns (twice), Cleveland Indians, Brooklyn Dodgers, and St. Louis Cardinals. He is featured on this card as a member of the Yankees. As a hitter, he didn't have much pop (.372 career SLG), but he had a keen eye, posting a very solid career .369 OBP, thanks to 705 career walks against 470 strikeouts.

His best season came as a 25-year old in 1931, when he posted a .280/.376/.416 line (113 OPS+) with 10 home runs and 107 RBI as the Yankees' starting shortstop. Apparently, the Yankees weren't impressed and Lary lost his job the next season to 21-year old Frankie Crosetti, who would hold down the shortstop position full-time for the Yankees through the 1940 season. Oddly, it appears that Lary was the superior offensive player (91 career OPS+ to Crosetti's 84). Crosetti never had an offensive season as productive as Lary's 1931 campaign. Lary led the American League in stolen bases in 1936 with 37, during his first stint with the St. Louis Browns.

Lary was married to Mary Lawlor, an actor who starred on Broadway and in two feature films.

Friday, February 19, 2010

#99 Tony Cuccinello

I picked this card up from SGC today. It was part of the batch of PSA crossovers that I mentioned in a previous post. I bought it as a PSA 6 and it crossed over nicely to an SGC 80. This has to be one of the best-looking cards in the set. Most of the '33 Goudeys feature either a ballpark or solid color background. The Cuccinello card is striking because of its multi-hued background, as well as the enigmatic expression on Cuccinello's face. This card is one of my favorites.

Cuccinello, nicknamed "Cooch" (yikes) and "Chick," had a long major league career as a second and third baseman for the Cincinnati Reds, Brooklyn Dodgers, Boston Bees, New York Giants, Boston Braves, and Chicago White Sox. In 1933, he was a 25-year-old starting second basemen for the Dodgers. He made the first-ever All-Star team that year, and again in 1938, and he finished in the top 25 in the MVP voting four times. For his career, he got into 1704 games and finished with a .280/.343/.394 hitting line, posting a 104 OPS+, which is pretty decent for a middle infielder of that era. His best season came in 1932, when he hit .315/.374/.431 for the Reds.

His performance that year certainly made an impression on the Dodgers. Following the 1932 season, Brooklyn sent slugger Babe Herman, future Hall of Famer Ernie Lombardi, and Wally Gilbert to the Reds for Cuccinello, Joe Stripp, and Clyde Sukeforth. His brother Al Cuccinello played for the New York Giants in 1935.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

#181 Babe Ruth

Here's an image of my #181 Babe Ruth, which arrived in the mail today. I will be submitting it to SGC for crossover in the next few days. I like the appearance of the BVG holder even less than the PSA holder, so it will be nice to see it in an SGC holder. It looks like a solid SGC 20 to me. There are surface wrinkles and a fairly heavy crease that runs about an inch from the bottom border. The other major issue is the stain below Ruth's name. But the image of Ruth is very sharp, the colors are vibrant, and all of the text on the back of the card is legible.

I'm going to be using many of these blog posts to briefly profile the players that are featured on the cards that I add to my set. I'm pretty sure that such a blurb on Ruth would be pointless, as anyone who would read this blog is already familiar with Ruth's exploits. So, instead, I'll post the text from the back of the card, which is pretty great:

"One of the keenest students of baseball, New York Yankees Home Run Star. He is also one of the hardest men to pitch to in the game. Box men say you can fool him on a certain ball once, but the next time he gets it, he is apt to hit it out of the park. Before starring as a home run hitter, was rated as one of the best pitchers in the American League. Born in Baltimore, Md., Feb. 7, 1894, Ruth is a left hander, 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 210 pounds."

I'm not familiar with the term "box men." Could it refer to the catcher, who would be calling the pitches?

I'll post an image of the card in an SGC holder once I cross it over.