a little bit of magic

I’ve recently discovered the magic of old baseball cards on ebay.

Well, that’s not exactly correct. I always knew they were there. And of course there’s always been magic in them little bits of cardboard. I just never thought to buy any of them before. And magically they appear on your doorstep.

Three things I’ve learned:

1. It would be very easy to get addicted to auctions on ebay.

2. There are a lot less players than I would have thought who’s baseball card I would like to own.

On my short list: Jim Bouton, Rocco Colavito, Vic Power, Tony Oliva, Harmon Killebrew, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Pee Wee Reese, Phil Rizzuto, Jim Gilliam, Carl Furillo, Preacher Roe, Yogi Berra, Satchel Paige, Johnny Podres, Duke Snider, Roy Campanella, Sal Maglie, Hoyt Wilhelm, Pepper Martin, Christy Mathewson, Nap Lajoie, and Lee Quillen. This list is fluid; names will appear for awhile and then fall off the list. Part of it is a visual appreciation of how the card looks. For example, I’m not too interested in the ’62 Topps Rocky Colavito. It’s just kind of a weird card. Sometimes weird is good, but not this time.

Rocky Colavito 1962 Topps

3. My favorite teams are apparently the Twins, (of course,) and the Brooklyn Dodgers. And, perhaps, the Minneapolis Millers?

My interest in post-1975 cards is almost non-existent. I wonder why that is? Certainly there were many great players post 1975. Like, for example, Kirby Puckett. Or Roger Clemons. Ryan Sandberg. But, so far, I’m looking mostly  at cards from the 1960s and earlier. I suppose part of it is just an age factor.. and the age of the card, I mean. Cards pre-1960 are just more historical, more rare? I don’t think it’s a question of value, because if you are talking about mint condition investment grade cards, you are not talking about my price range. Which is okay by me. I like a card that has been handled and shows some wear. I like a card that has been appreciated.

For me, the old old very old cards are great, but generally out of my price range too, especially for Satchell Paige - 1953 Toppsany player I ever heard of. The old Tobacco and Caramel cards, they’re beautiful, but mostly I just look at ’em online. I really enjoy the look of the 1953 Topps cards, which has such nice paintings of the players, rather than photographs, but those are also generally, but not always (with given condition issues) out of my price range.

Here’s a brief bit of information on the ’53 set, from Deans Cards:

“Instead of colorizing black and white photographs as they did for the 1952 set, Topps went to the expense of paying artist Gerry Dvorak $25 per card to sketch and paint the players. Although the 1953 Topps baseball card set contains some attractive actions shots, the set is primarily noted for its carefully drawn expressions, which are chronicled on the head shot cards.”

Other sources I’ve seen say that Dvorak was one of several artists, with Dvorak doing about 50 of the pictures, including Paige, Mantle, Pee Wee Reese, Johnny Mize, Enos Slaughter, and Yogi Berra. I wonder who the other artists were? I’ll be looking into that.

Occasionally you will find an older card in an auction at a more reasonable price. Usually due to some condition issues, but not always. For example, this is my (first?) T-206 card, the aforementioned Lee Quillen, who I had not heard of, but that I couldn’t pass up. It’s probably from 1909 or 1910, and obviously not in great shape, but also simply beautiful.

quillen 3

If you’ve never seen a T-206, they’re a lot smaller than the cards today, about a third the size, probably a bit less. They are little magic gems, time travelers from a different age. I wonder who owned this old card back then? And how it survived through all those years? Someone must have valued it back when it really had very little value, and stashed it away somewhere for safe keeping.

Lee Quillen was a third baseman, born in North Branch, Minnesota, on May 5th, 1882. He started his career with the Minneapolis Millers in 1902, then played up with the Duluth Cardinals in the Northern League in 1903 and ’04. He hit .350 with the Lincoln Ducklings in 1906, and joined the Chicago White Sox for four games at the end of that season. In 1907, though, he hit only .192 for the Sox, and he wound up with the Minneapolis Millers again in ’08 and ’09. He played five more years in minor league ball after that, finishing his baseball career with Lincoln again, in 1914. Lee died on May 15th, 1965, in Saint Paul, at the age of 83.

Good game, Lee.

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