While spring hasn't officially arrived, Spring Training is in full gear-meaning Opening Day's not far off. What better way to prepare for the upcoming season (and the baseball card season) than to attend the local Spring Card Show-which is exactly how I spent my Saturday morning.
The first dealer that caught my eye was a guy from whom I had bought a nice stack of mid-late 50s cards at the Winter Show. Hoping he would have some different flavors to choose from this time, I wasn't disappointed as he had brought binders and boxes with 60s and early 70s. Fortunately, he's very fair in his pricing-which allowed me to pick up another nice group of Braves for very little. Highlights from this group include:
1957 Topps #127 Bob Buhl and #262 Bobby Thomson
Although badly centered, I couldn't pass up these two. They are, after all, from my favor
ite set of all time. Thomson, whose time in Milwaukee would end in mid-June of the 1957 season (when he was traded back to the Giants), had been a disappointment with the Braves, but would enjoy a resurrection in his career in 1958 with the Cubs.
Buhl enjoyed his greatest success while pitching for Milwaukee from 1953 to 1962, when he would be traded to the Cubs. A middle of the rotation starter, Buhl fit in nicely in the #3 slot in the rotation behind Spahn and Burdette, and contributed back-to-back 18 game wins in '56 and '57. I particularly like the final sentence on the back of this card: "Sometimes he has a streak of wildness that works to his advantage by preventing batters from 'digging in' against him." Gotta keep them honest!
1969 Topps #355 and 1970 Topps #160 Phil Niekro
You've gotta love "Knucksie"-he seemed to defy the natural course of aging and pitched until he was 48 years young. To top it all off, he threw the first no-hitter for the Atlanta Braves, coming on my birthday- August 5, 1973. According to the back of Phil's '70 card, he was a high school basketball teamate of John Havlicek.
1960 Topps #170 Del Crandall
Thankfully, I didn't have to pay extra for the two staples included on this card. Now I can honestly say that I've seen not just staple holes, but the actual thing, on a card!
1964 Topps #476 Rico Carty
Topps got it right by including the "Beeg Boy" in its '64 set. Carty, who once
described himself as the "world's greatest baseball player", finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting in 1964- hitting .330 with 22 HR, 88 RBI, and a .942 OPS. What could be bigger than that? Perhaps the distance between he and
his teamates. Or, his pride. Obviously, the card is off-cut; but other than that, it's not bad- and for $1.50 that's okay by me.