Monday, January 21, 2013

Stan Musial: An Irreplaceable Icon and the Story of His Missing Baseball Cards

by +Dean Hanley
We were sad to hear about the passing of Stan Musial on Jan. 19, 2013 -- not just because of his performance on the baseball field but also because of the low key way he conducted his life. The New York Times put it best in its eulogy on “Stan the Man” with this headline: “The Star Who Stood Out by Not Standing Out.” 

Musial finished his career with 3630 hits, and he had exactly 1815 hits at home and 1815 hits on the road, which proves his overall clutch performance. And Musial’s last hit in 1963 went by a rookie second baseman named Pete Rose, who eventually broke Musial’s National League hits record and then went on to break Ty Cobb’s all-time hits record.
Click here to see this 1953 Stan Musial
Bowman baseball card.
Baseball card collectors also know another unique fact about Musial. From 1954 through 1957, there were no Stan Musial baseball cards available because he would not sign a contract with Topps. Musial previously had a contract with Bowman and there were Musial cards available before 1954.

There is a famous story about the owner of the St. Louis Cardinals, Gussie Busch, approaching Sy Berger from Topps for a contribution to a charity, which finally resulted in Musial’s cards becoming available again. Berger said he would make the donation if Busch could get Musial to sign a contract with Topps. So in the last baseball card series of 1958, a special Stan Musial All Star card became available. 

Click here to the 1958 Stan Musial Topps
All Star card
And in 1959, Musial’s card became available in the Topps set.

Click here to see the 1959 Stan Musial Topps
baseball card available at  Dean's Cards.
Musial was 43 years old when he played his last game for the Cardinals. He became a beloved fixture in the St. Louis community, often showing up at events to play his harmonica. He also learned a trick from his pal, John Wayne, about dealing with the constant autograph seekers. Wayne told Musial how he carried around autographed photos of himself to pass out to those who asked for an autograph – so Musial started doing the same thing!
Click here to see the last baseball card
issued during Stan Musial's active playing  career: the 1963 Topps Stan Musial card
With Stan Musial's passing, baseball has lost one of its true icons from the game’s glory days.

Friday, January 11, 2013

2013 Baseball Hall of Fame Results: Joe DiMaggio Didn't Get in the First Time Either

The 1991 Topps 40th anniversary set featured players who were shut out
in the 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame voting, including Roger Clemens, 
Barry Bonds and Craig Biggio.
by +Dean Hanley
Now that the verdict from the baseball writers is in, it appears they wanted to punish anybody who played in the so-called steroid era of baseball in the 1990s.

The voters have never denied so many players at the same time with obvious Hall of Fame credentials. And there is a question whether Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will ever gain entry -- even though the Hall of Fame already has exhibits honoring their accomplishments.

But history shows that voters also have made some questionable decisions in the past in denying players entry into the Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility.

Yogi Berra, considered the greatest living Yankee, didn't make it on his first try.

Click to see the 1953 Topps Yogi Berra card
And Joe DiMaggio didn't make it in his first year of eligibility either.

Click to see Joe DiMaggio on the cover of the 1948 Street & Smith's baseball yearbook

In fact, since the first Hall of Fame election in 1936, only 32 players have been elected in their first year of eligibility. And other than the inaugural Hall of Fame election, only once have three first-year candidates been elected in the same year -- Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Robin Yount in 1999.

And no player has ever been a unanimous choice for admission to the Hall of Fame. Who came closest? Tom Seaver with close to 99 percent of the total vote in 1992.

Click to see the 1967 Tom Seaver rookie card.

Other famous baseball players who didn't gain first year admission to the Hall of Fame include Rogers Hornsby, Roy Campanella, Jimmie Foxx, Carl Hubbell, Harmon Killebrew, Eddie Mathews and Mel Ott.

Players eligible for the first time in 2014 include 300-game winners Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine -- and it will be Jack Morris' last year of eligibility. So will Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mike Piazza make it in? Baseball fans will be anxiously waiting for those results.

And that brings us to today's Dean's Cards survey question: