Purging baseball cards for the good of future generations

I put all my baseball cards from 1979 to 1998 in the neighborhood rummage sale.

Silver Sage Village is having a 16 household rummage sale on September 19th and everyone has been culling through their junk. My office mate moved to one he set up in his apartment and this has given me a good chance to go through my stuff.

I’ve been selling unwanted things on ebay, including parts of my sports card collection. My account is AnAmericanPlaceII which is an homage to social realism photographer Alfred Stieglitz’s gallery in New York City.

In a past life, I had a sports card store front called Pine Riders in Riverton, Wyoming that opened during the sports card bubble in the late 1980s through the 1990s. The great thing about having a store like that was buying, selling and trading for my own hobby, as well as helping others support theirs. To this day, I’m amazed I was able to keep the doors open turning over cardboard worth a dime to a few bucks.

On Pine Riders opening day, former Yankees pitcher who won the decisive game of the 1961 World Series, Bud Daley, came over and signed autographs. I ran into Bud at the Wind River Casino when I was in Fremont County a few months back.

When I moved from Wyoming to Colorado over 20 years ago, I hauled literally a ton of cards with me in notebooks, boxes and brief cases that took up space in closets, crawl spaces and basements.

At the height of the card bubble, I had a colleague trade my entire collection of cards – complete sets from 1958 through 1998 – around 25,000 cards – for a handful of items that are of more interest to me and much less bulky to haul around. Among my newly pared down collection is a 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle card and Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig autographs.

My friend Rodger McDaniel recently wrote a blog post about how he was once a millionaire before his mother threw away his baseball card collection with included a few 1952 Mickey Mantle cards. That Topps card is one of the few Holy Grails of the hobby. My mom, on the other hand, saved mine in a box which was the basis of my collection as I have continued it to this day.

Rodger’s lament is one of the classics.

In getting ready for the garage sale, I am doing my part to increase the value of the newer vintage of sports cards that are generally from 1980 to the present.

I realized I had no heart-felt feelings about them, like I do for the rest of my Yankees collections and started slashing and burning. I collect:

  • 1919 Yankees for no particular reason except that Chicago Bears founder George Halas was on that team and this also was the year of the Black Sox Scandal;
  • 1923 Yankees were the first to play in Yankee Stadium and won the first World Series title that year;
  • 1932 Yankees finished the season winning the World Series and highlighted by Babe Ruth’s supposed “called shot” home run for a sick kid and also the first year for Frank Crosetti;
  • 1961 – 1962 Yankees‘ third base coach was Frank Crosetti and this was also the first year I paid close attention to baseball mostly because of Maris and Mantle chasing Babe Ruth’s home run record;
  • 1977 – 1978 Yankees with Reggie, Reggie, Reggie!
  • 2001 Yankees since I went to New York for games 3 and 4 of the World Series a month after 9/11

I emptied out all my boxes of Donruss, Fleer, Bowman and Topps, cards, which in this day and age have little value to me personally or financially. The huge number of cards and sets and subsets became unmanageable. Now, I could care less about Harold Baines or even Mark McGwire who took a personal and professional nose dive in the wake of the performance enhancing drug scandals.

Those are all going to the garage sale along with hundreds more – George Brett, Nolan Ryan …

Free agency also screwed things up. It used to be a player stayed on the same team for his entire career. Now, a pitcher has a good year and gets traded.

I’ve always been a Yankees fan and many of those I’m tossing are of ballyhooed young players like Brien Taylor and Pat Kelly. I also have a lot of players like Joe Girardi who were okay, but not great players. I also had a lot of Girardi cards because he was one of the original Colorado Rockies in the 1992 expansion draft.

During this time period, I was in a rotisserie baseball league called the Buttheads. I always collected cards of the players on my team – the Yangs – which gave a bit of reality to the fantasy. I have a lot of Greg Maddux cards and Pedro Astacio, Denny Neagle (I was the only Butthead to select Rockies pitchers).

Why the Yangs?

In Star Trek Episode 52 “The Omega Glory” Kirk and crew find themselves in some alternate world where the good guys are the Yangs and bad buys are the Coms.

Back to sorting.

I’m a member of a facebook group called Baseball Card of the Day. Members post images of cards for various reasons, memories, updating about the status of their collections. Occasionally, there will be someone who talks about leaving their collection to their kids to pay for their college educations.

I say, do your kids a favor and cash in your cards while you’re still alive. If a guy like me who  has a pretty good idea as to how much a Frank Thomas 1990 Leaf card is worth and where I might find someone who would might buy it, an heir with no idea about the hobby will have a hard time figuring out how to parlay that 1989 complete set of Topps baseball cards into microbiology textbooks.

Baseball cards are for moms to decide to keep or throw away, it’s much less stressful.

By the way, If you’re holding a Joe Hesketh rookie card, it just went up in value because I threw mine away.

2015 Wyoming road trip for the arts – trek 1

Anyone who has spent any time in Wyoming knows that road trip organization is key. I have been known to travel two hours for a 10 minute meeting. This week, I plotted out a six day trip that started on Monday May 4. Two years ago, my health took a hit when I made a series of road trips to the East Coast at the end of May to a long Wyoming trek in early June.

The Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund Board met in Pinedale and approved the digital Art of the Hunt project.

The Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund Board met in Pinedale and approved the digital Art of the Hunt project.

I was a little concerned that two years later, I didn’t want to push my luck, but decided to anyway. This trip, acording to my new mileage app called Mileage IQ, I logged 1, 554 miles.

I’m working on a couple projects and now that the weather has finally broken – more on this – it was a good time to take off. I found out at the last minute late last week that the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund would be meeting in Pinedale in western Wyoming on May 6-7. My production company, Boulder Community Media, has a project the WCTR board would be considering a proposal called the “Digital Art of the Hunt”.

Being a veteran grant writer I know that a project’s chances are better, if applicants show up in person. I made a bunch of phone calls and set up an excursion. Sitting through meetings like this is very informative and when I have other proposals considered, I will show up. The board approved the project. It was the 19th ranked application out of 45 and received the second highest grant award.

The weather was mostly bad. This is snow south of Lander.

The weather was mostly bad. This is snow south of Lander overlooking Red Canyon.

Boulder to Laramie 109 miles: I was funded by the Wyoming Humanities Council and the Wyoming Arts Council to produce a documentary about Wyoming Progress Administration cultural projects that include large murals in Riverton, Kemmerer, Greybull and Powell. I learned that one of my former University of Wyoming college professors Herb Dieterich was the last guy who did any research about this topic back in 1980.

My call to him was a blast from the past. He agreed to meet me on Monday afternoon. He turned 90 May 3rd. He spent a summer in the National Archives in DC researching it and gave me a copy of his paper, which is helpful. He was mostly checking out the project funding sources than about the artists.

We had a nice visit. I’ll be back to talk to Joe Russin, the son of Robert Russin who was a UW art professor and WPA muralist in Illinois.

I filled up and headed to Riverton.

Some barracks from the Heart Mountain Relocation Camp were moved to the Cottonwood Court in Riverton.

Some barracks from the Heart Mountain Relocation Camp were moved to the Cottonwood Court in Riverton. This is the former sheep ranch that inspired the WPA mural in the Riverton Post Office.

Laramie to Riverton 236 miles: I support the Northern Arapaho Tribe and stay at the Wind River Casino Hotel. They don’t serve alcohol, but allow smoking. Of course all casinos allow smoking, it must be a habit of gamblers. When the casino originally opened, there was a smoke free room of slots, but that didn’t last long.

Food prices in the Red Willow Restaurant have gone up. In my opinion, If I spend $25 on a steak, I’ll go down the road to Svilar’s in nearby Hudson. On Cinco de Mayo, I ate Indian huevos rancheros, which substitutes fry bread for the tortilla.

I interviewed Karline from the Riverton Museum who was knowledgeable about George Vander Sluice. He painted the mural in the Riverton Post Office. The mural is of sheep shearing that happened at a ranch on the road to Shoshoni which is now the Cottonwood Court, which is now abandoned. Turns out that the bungalows there were formerly housing barracks at the Heart Mountain Relocation Camp near Powell.

I headed out to Pinedale, but wanted to nail down a couple key components of the Art of the Hunt project which includes an Eastern Shoshone deer hunt and Northern Arapaho bison hunt. I stopped by the Shoshone Cultural Center and Glenda Trosper was still open to setting up the hunt in October. I went over to Ethete and talked to JT Trosper about the bison hunt and that will be set up in July.

The Log Cabin Motel in Pinedale is very cozy.

The Log Cabin Motel in Pinedale is very cozy.

Riverton to Pinedale 186 miles: I stayed at the Log Cabin Motel. There are a bunch of small fishing cabins. It was raining the two days I was there. The WCTF meeting started Wednesday at the BOCES building. Wyoming government meetings are long, drawn out, but very folksy. There’s decorum, but very informal. This funding cycle, there were a million dollars in requests and $200,000 in available funds. After two days of project evaluation, Art of the Hunt was ranked 19th out of 45 projects and awarded funding that will guarantee it’s completion. Had I not attended, to answer questions and defend the idea, there’s no telling how much or if the project would be approved.

Meanwhile, I had a plan to drive to Kemmerer to see the murals in the post office there or go to Powell. In February, I provided production assistance for an interview session with Mark and Ardith Junge. The producer, Samantha Cheng. She mentioned that a colleague of hers, Sharon Yamato, may need a videographer in Powell. I contacted Sharon and decided to head north to record her interviews and check out the murals in Powell and Greybull.

Evaline George, 97, is one of the subjects of a documentary by Sharon Yamoto.

Evaline George, 97, is one of the subjects of a documentary by Sharon Yamato.

Pinedale to Powell 318 miles: The WCTF meeting finished at 1:30pm and I headed out to points north. There was snow on South Pass and sputtering rain the rest of the way through Lander, Riverton, Shoshoni, Thermopolis, Meeteetse, Cody then Powell. I stayed at the Super 8 in Powell. Mostly fracking workers staying there. Sharon is working on a documentary about the post World War II veteran homesteaders who came to Powell and repurposed some of the Hearth Mountain Relocation Camp housing barracks – some of those were repositioned to the Cottonwood Court in Riverton.

During a break in the action, I went over to the Powell Post Office and checked out the mural there by Manuel Bromberg. Nobody seemed to know much about it. I was referred to the local museum and will likely make another trip back through there. Bromberg is still alive and lives in Woodstock, New York. I may make a trip out there if he’s able to talk to me – he’s 98.

We interviewed three 97-year olds who still live in their remodeled barracks. These three nonagenarians still had their wits about them and had some good stories to tell. It was a long day. I stayed over and headed back home via Greybull.

Smoking is still allowed in most places in Wyoming. Cough, Cough.

Smoking is still allowed in most places in Wyoming. Cough, Cough. Including at this short order place in Greybull.

Powell to Greybull 48 miles: The last time I was through Greybull two years ago, I was stopped in one of those 45 mph to 30 mph speed traps. The cop let me off. The post office was about the only place open on Saturday. The postal clerks didn’t know much about the painting. The postmaster was to return later. I killed an hour at the Uptown Cafe for some breakfast. Smoking is still allowed here, which was a little strange. I went back to the PO and the postmaster hadn’t returned yet.  The clerk called her boss and he pointed her toward an old typewritten narrative on the wall.  Manuel Bromberg is in the book and I’ll see if he’s up for an interview.

I’ve been hearing about the storm in southern Wyoming and headed out again. I got gas in Thermopolis.

Manuel Bromberg painted the mural in the Greybull Post Office

Manuel Bromberg painted the mural in the Greybull Post Office.

Greybull to Boulder 478 miles: My gut reaction was to avoid I-80 and took the second worst route through Casper. There was sputtering rain and snow from Shoshoni to Casper. Casper to Douglas wasn’t too bad, but from there to Chugwater was slow going. The most snow was between Wheatland and Chugwater. Snow and slush started to build up on the highway. I know why there are crazy crashes – four wheel drive pickups that think they are invincible. I’ve driven in worse conditions by Elk Mountain.

I have to turn around on Monday for a meeting and job in Cheyenne Monday and Tuesday. It’s a labor of love having several projects in various stages of development. I’ll be heading to Kemmerer, Powell and Greybull, later in June enroute to my Devil’s Tower climbing trip over the 4th of July.