Thursday, May 28, 2015

I'm sure many of you know of I've known about it for years but only recently started to delve into it. Simply put, it's an on-line database for trading cards of all kinds. Currently the site has 6,435,514 cards listed with images for 1,100,504. The images come from people uploading images to it. It seems to be pretty much a user-drive site, with checklists of new sets also being uploaded by members. Someone moderates the place. The more you upload the more privileges you get on the site. For example, when you first join, the first images you upload  have to be approved. But after awhile, your images just go right into the database.

I'm, of course, most interested in baseball cards, but the site has cards from all sports and a number of non-sports card sets as well.

You can also use it to catalog your own collection but I don't plan to do that. I have a well ordered database of my own design I use and don't see much point in duplicating it on-line.

The site has a number of interesting lists which I'm going to share on occasion. One of them is "The most common cards in member's collections". This is the baseball card list, which is heavily loaded with late 1980s Topps cards.

1987 Topps #648 Barry Larkin
I don't know how many members the site has, but this card is held by 509 of them. By the way, there are many more baseball cards than any other. Even the 10th ranking on the baseball list is held by many more members than any other type of card.

1981 Topps #675 - Atlanta Braves Team Card
I had to crib this image from the site. It's the only card on the list I don't own. I not only own all the other cards but I already had scans of them.  This card is held by 391 members. The resolution of the images on the site is pretty good, but not as high as I typically scan at.

1987 Topps #735 Rickey Henderson
#3 on the list with holdings by 374 members

1988 Topps #102 Barry Larkin
#4. The second of three appearance by Larkin on this list, the only player to appear more than once. 363 members.

1987 Topps #773 Robin Yount
#5 with 358 members

1987 Topps #300 Reggie Jackson
#6 with 352 members

1989 Topps #515 Barry Larkin
#7 with 352 members. Who knew that Barry Larkin was so popular with collectors?

1987 Topps #386 Mark McGwire
#8 with 348 members.

1987 Topps #80 Wally Joyner
#9 with 347 members

1989 Topps #784 Steve Avery
#10, also with 347.

The inclusion of these Topps sets in this list may be more a function of the prodigious number of sets produced by Topps rather than their being particularly popular with collectors. Having said that, 1987 is one of my favorite sets.

To contrast the baseball card list with the basketball card list, the #1 basketball card is the 1990-91 Hoops #236 Jeff Hornacek with 198 members. All of the cards on the basketball list are from the same set.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Movie Review - Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961)

You probably remember the TV show "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" which ran from 1964-1968. But before that there was a movie in 1961.

At book sale at our local library a couple of weeks ago I picked up Season 1 of the television show. Included was the 'never before seen pilot'. Certainly I had never seen it. If you hadn't seen the movie you would have to agree that the pilot pretty much set the tone for the entire series. But, in fact, the movie set the tone. Except for the lack of women in the TV show.

First of all, look who was in this movie!  Trivia - Michael Ansara (who later played a Klingon on Star Trek) was married to Barbara Eden while this movie was made.

Walter Pidgon is Admiral Nelson, the inventor of the fabulous nuclear submarine "Seaview". The two distinguishing features of the Seaview are the giant windows in the front and the 1959 Cadillac fins on the back. In the movie, the sub as part of the US Navy but in the TV show, it was part of some marine study institute. The Seaview is on her maiden cruise carrying a few dignitaries, Dr. Susan Hiller (Joan Fontaine) and Congressman Llewellyn Parker (Howard McNear, mostly known as Floyd the barber from Mayberry). Dr. Hiller is there as part of a psychological study of the crewmen and Parker is with a congressional budget committee who always opposed the building of the Seaview and wants to see if the government got it's moneys worth. He carries a notebook and a sharp pencil.

After a few practice dives at under the Arctic ice,  the Seaview gets bombarded underwater by sinking chunks of ice. Since ice usually floats this was a surprise. The Seaview surfaces and finds that the sky is on fire. Admiral Nelson learns from Naval command that a errant meteor has set the Van Allen Radiation Belt on fire! The Van Allen Belt had only just been discovered in 1958 so I guess it sounded plausible. The air temperature was already 130 degrees. Before they leave, they see a guy laying on a hunk of ice and rescue him and his dog. What he was doing there is never explained. This is Miguel Alvarez (Michael Ansara).

The crew hightails it to New York to meet with a UN expert panel of scientists. On the way, Nelson and Comm. Lucius Emery (Peter Lorre) concoct a scheme to launch a nuclear missile at the burning belt to blow out the fire. Emery's role on the Seaview is unclear. He seems to spend much of his time studying the sharks that Seaview have in a giant tank on board. The missile has to be launched at some precise location in the Pacific Ocean at a precise time in order to work. By the time Nelson arrives at the UN, some crazy scientist on the panel had already convinced them that the fire would burn it self out at 173 degrees. By then of course everybody would be dead and the planet a cinder (which nobody mentions). Nelson, insisting that only his plan would work, storms out of the UN and takes off in the Seaview.

The TV pilot had a similar plot, only it was a earthquake that was going to occur in the Arctic which would send devastating tidal waves into the Atlantic and Pacific. Nelson blew up a nuke to stop the earthquake.

After many adventures, the Seaview gets to the launch point and saves the day.

Some charactor notes:

Admiral Nelson is pretty much a megalomaniac who is convinced he is right and doesn't care what happens to anyone as long as he gets his way.  This character was toned way down for the TV show.

Captain Lee Crane (Robert Sterling) is played pretty straight as the boat's commanding officer who gets increasing worried about his superior officer's seeming increasing insanity. In the TV show, Crane is the solo real Naval officer on board.

In a surprising move for 1961, the Seaview has a woman officer, Lt Cathy Conners. Of course, she's played by Barbara Eden, and is engaged to Lee Crane. She spends a lot of time hanging all over the captain and screaming.

Already mentioned is Comm. Lucius Emery (Peter Lorre). He mostly seems like a absent-minded professor.

Joan Fontaine as Dr. Heller is interesting. It's not clear how long she was supposed to be aboard the Seaview but she is wearing a different outfit pretty much every time we see her. BTW, she and Barbara Eden wear high heels. On a submarine.  Her function seems to be to convince Crane that Nelson is crazy and will kill them all. Eventually, convinced of this herself, she goes into the reactor room and somehow sabotages it, getting a lethal does of radiation (shown by the badges everyone wears) in the process. But we don't have to watch her slowly die as she falls into Emery's shark tank and gets eaten alive. Really.

Miguel Alvarez (Michael Ansara), the mystery man from the Arctic, turns out to be some kind of religious zealot who spends his time trying to convince the crew that we are all helpless against God and if God wants to burn the world down, there's nothing we can do about it. The movie comes down to a religious discussion between Alvares (who has a bomb he found conveniently laying around) and Nelson. While this is going on, Crane, goes outside the sub and somehow launches the missile by hand.

After the missile launches, the Seaview surfaces and everybody goes out on the deck so they can watch the nuke explode right over their heads.

OK, here's a special treat, Frankie Avalon singing the love theme from "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea". I strongly recommend you don't listen to more than 15 seconds of this.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

2015 Topps Gypsy Queen Relics

Since I don't buy anything more than a blaster or two of most products, my chances of getting a relic are slim. I figure it's cheaper to buy individual relic cards on eBay. For one thing, a few loose relic cards are cheaper than a whole box and I don't end up with a bunch of base cards I don't want. Also, I can usually find a relic card I actually want, either a particular design or player.

Gypsy Queen has three size relic cards in this year's set: mini, regular and jumbo.

I'm pretty sure that Topps started their practice of putting relics on mini cards and then encasing the card in a normal sized card covered with plastic. They leave an opening in the plastic so you can touch the relic, and I suppose, the player, at a remove. They've continued the practice with Allen and Ginter and Gypsy Queen.  here are a lot of these available on eBay so I decided to go with an Astro.

Singleton was drafted by the Phillies in 2009. The Astros got him in the Hunter Pence trade in 2011. In 95 games last year, Singleton hit 13 home runs but only batted .168. He's back in AAA hitting .291 with 14 home runs in 42 games. The Astros are playing pretty well with the players they have so I don't see Singleton coming up anytime soon unless somebody gets hurt.

There are also a lot of the regular sized relics. I couldn't find an Astro or a Phillie at a price I wanted to pay but finally found this.

I figure I might as well go with a future Hall of Famer. Kershaw seems to be off to a rocky start in 2015. He's 2-3 with a 4.32 ERA. This is coming off a 21-3 season with a 1.77 ERA.

There weren't a lot of the jumbo relics available.

This is the gold parallel card, numbered to 25. I figure it's worth the $9.99 (with free shipping) I paid.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Kenny Lofton's Parachute

Apparently, Kenny Lofton was so fast on the base paths, he was forced to wear special equipment to give catchers a fighting chance to throw him out.

1997 Upper Deck #52

Friday, May 22, 2015

Movie Review - The Age of Adaline

Last weekend my wife, my daughter and I went to see "Marvel's The Age of Adaline". I was pretty disappointed. Where was Iron Man and Captain America? Where were the great special effects?  Oh, what a minute. This was not that Marvel movie.

I told my wife and daughter that I was going to open my review this way and they didn't think it was too funny. But it's my blog so I'm going with it.

I hadn't even heard of this movie until I saw Blake Lively, who plays Adaline, on a talk show. The concept sounded intriguing. The scene they showed had Harrison Ford in it. I'll got to any movie with Harrison Ford. When I heard my wife and daughter planning to see it, I joined them.

It's not a particularly original story. A person (Adaline) finds that she seems to be immortal, or at least long-lived. How does she face life when all about her grow old except her?

OK, so a familiar story but done pretty well. Adaline, born in 1908, seems like a normal girl. When she is 29 she's in a horrific car accident, which through an improbably series of events, stops her from aging. She spends most of her life running from shadowy government types who want to study her and entanglements with other people, especially men.

The first 30 minutes or so details all this background and the story gets going in 2014. Her best friend is a blind woman who thinks Adaline is older than she looks. She has no other friends, except a daughter born before the accident who now looks more like Adaline's grandmother than her daughter. She's well on planning her next disappearance when she meets a guy and lets him open a crack into her life.

I'm not very familiar with Blake Lively's work. The only thing I've seen her in was 2011's "Green Lantern". Than movie was so forgettable that I believe I've lost remembrance of 2-3 months of my life around when I saw it.

Lively is, of course, a beautiful woman and, if you're a guy, you might see how someone could fall in love with her at first glance. But what really got to me was her voice. She's a young woman, but she speaks with a feeling of experience well beyond her age. She is, after all, over 100 years old. Even as she starts to fall in love with this guy, you can hear in her voice that she's not at all sure it's a good idea.

She was entirely captivating in every scene she was in, both by how she looked and how she spoke.

If you're a little tired of summer blockbuster fare (even though it's only May), I'd strongly recommend this movie.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

1976 Phillies SSPC cards

There's an interesting history behind the 1976 SSPC cards which I'm not going to go into in detail because there's a pretty good article about them here on Although these cards have a copyright date of 1975, they weren't released until sometime in 1976 and are considered a 1976 set.

As I've mentioned here before, I wasn't a big baseball fan as a kid. Sure, I liked baseball, and since I lived in Philadelphia, the Phillies were my favorite team. But it wasn't until I was a young adult, around 1971, that I really became interested in baseball and the 1970's Phillies were my team.

In 1972, the Phillies were pretty sad sack, finishing with a 59-97 record and 6th in the old NL East. But that was their nadir. By 1976, they finished with a 101-61 record. In 1980 they will win the World Series and remain a dominating team for several years after.  They did it with a core of players who were with the team through out much of the decade. To me, these guys are the Phillies.

Of, course, Michael Jack Schmidt was the main guy. He hit 38 home runs with 107 rbis. He walked 100 times and had 705 plate appearances, only Dave Cash, their lead-off guy with 727, had more.

The next main guy is Steve Carlton. He was 20-7 with a 3.13 ERA and 2 shutouts in 1976. Some of the photos in the set are weird. It looks like the photo was snapped as Carlton was walking by. Given his prickly nature, he was probably saying "No photos" as he went by.

With Bowa, it was always about the defense. Sure he was a dependable bat, but you came to see him play shortstop. He turned 90 double plays in 1976.

To Schmidt's offense you can add 28 home runs, 95 rbis and a .304 batting average contributed by Luzinski.

for some reason, Garry Maddox is missing from this set, so I'm going to cheat and include his Topps cards. Where would the Phillies have been without the "Secretary of Defense". Can't you just hear Harry Kalas calling him that?

In 1976, Boone made his first of 3 appearances as a Phillie in the All-Star Game. There were 5 Phillies on that 1976 All-Star team, Dave Cash, Bob Boone, Greg Luzinski, Larry Bowa and Mike Schmidt.  The Nationals won 7-1.

Tug brought his “Ya Gotta Believe” attitude to the Phillies in 1975. Relief pitching was not as important to the game then as it is now. McGraw only had 11 saves in 1976, sharing the closer duty with Gene Garber (who also had 11). But what Phillie phan can forget Tug's save of the last game of the 1980 World Series?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Another Old O-Pee-Chee Phillies Card

I posted a 1971 Phillies O-Pee-Chee card last week. This week I have a 1976 Phillies card.

The card is a little off center but otherwise in excellent shape. I can barely remember Schueler as a Phillie. He was with the team from 1974-1976, first as a starter then a reliever. He was 16-20 with 4 saves with the Phillies.

Here is his 1976 Topps card.

Other than the French and the lighter card stock, there's no real differences in design. Unlike the 1971 O-Pee-Chee, this one does say OPC instead of TCG next to the "Printed in Canada".

I like the funny little Hank Aaron trivia cartoon. I don't have that many 1976 Topps cards but it looks like the cartoons had absolutely nothing to do with the player or team on the card.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Random Cards From My Collection #75

Card #39942
2003 Just Prospects #2 Josh Anderson
Comments on the card/player: These used to be pretty common in repacks and that's where I got this card in 2013. Anderson was the Astros 4th round draft pick in 2003 and eventually had a 3-year career with the Astros, Braves, Tigers and Royals.
How/When acquired: Paid $0.04/card for a 100-card Fairmont repack in 2013.

Card #31660
1991 Donruss #536 Jose Canseco
Comments on the card/player: Canseco had his second highest home run total of his career in 1991, with 44.
How/When acquired: Don't know.

Card #4963
2005 Classic Clippings MLB Game Worn Jersey Collection #31 Omar Vizquel
Comments on the card/player: Vizquel played for 24 years and won 11 Golden Gloves.
How/When acquired: From back in the days when nearly every blaster box came with a relic. Paid $0.32/card for blaster box of Classic Clippings on 5/1/05.

Card #5121
2004 Topps #344 Albert Pujols/Todd Helton/ Juan Pierre
 Comments on the card/player: I always liked the design of these leaders cards from 2004 Topps, especially the backs.
How/When acquired: Paid $0.26/card for a blaster of Topps in 2004.

Card #32008
2012 Topps Heritage #269 Justin Morneau
Comments on the card/player: From 2006 through 2009, Morneau averaged 117.5 rbis per season. He hasn't had more than 84 in a season since.
How/When acquired: Paid $0.30/card for a blasters of Topps Heritage in March 2012.

Card #10323
2008 Topps Opening Day #9 Ken Griffey Jr.
Comments on the card/player: These cards were red, scarlet, vermillion, crimson, ruby, cherry, cerise, cardinal, carmine, wine, etc.
How/When acquired: Paid $0.16/card for a blaster in March 2008.

Card #4252
1998 Upper Deck #246 Kevin Brown
 Comments on the card/player: Commemorating the first no hitter of 1997. Brown was 16-8 for the Marlins in 1997, helping to lead them to the 1997 World Series win.
How/When acquired: Don't know.

Card # 9254
1989 Topps Traded #54 Ken Howell
 Comments on the card/player: In early December 1988, the Dodgers traded Howell to the Orioles for Eddie Murray. A few days later, the O's traded Howell to the Phillies for Phil Bradley. The Phillies then signed Howell to a 4-year, $4.7 million dollar contract. He was 20 and 19 in his first 2 years with the Phillies but injuries ended his career after the 1990 season.
How/When acquired: Don't know.

Card #13884
2009 Topps 206 #284 Alexei Ramirez
 Comments on the card/player: The front of these cards were OK, but the set is ruined for me by the identical fake stain on the back of each card.
How/When acquired: Paid $0.44/card for a hobby box in December 2009.

Card #5613
2001 SP Legendary Cuts Game Jersey Tommy Holmes
 Comments on the card/player: I love this card. Holmes mostly played for the Boston Braves in the 1940's. I love that this is a swatch from a woolen uniform.
How/When acquired: Paid $4.66 in May 2005 from eBay.