One of my dad’s favorite ballplayers was Ted Kluszewski, and because of the stories he has told me since my youth, one of my favorite ballplayers was Ted Kluszewski. Big Klu passed away in early 1988, but his legacy in Cincinnati has never faded. The man got in trouble for cutting his sleeves because his arms would too big to fit through the armholes. How can you not love that?
The idea for this blogpost started on Twitter, based on a comment by @ShaneKatz73:
For ‘57, I have always liked the Ted Kluszewski card… would like to add a team card or two. Have some older Topps but started with the standard size first.
— Shane Katz (@ShaneKatz73) May 19, 2018
I decided to take a look at Kluszewski’s baseball cards, and rank the top five. This is my opinion only, so feel free to disagree if you want to be wrong. All images came from COMC.com, except for one, because there are no current listings for it. I have a few of these in my collection, but I’m at work writing this and I don’t feel like staying up when I get home in the morning to find them and scan them. Sorry for being so lazy.
5. 1982 TCMA Baseball’s Greatest Sluggers #11 This is the first Kluszewski card I ever possessed, and the image is imprinted on my brain as an all-time great card. Even though this is a “modern” card (relative to Klu’s career, as he had retired 20 years earlier), I’m honestly surprised I didn’t rank it higher. But this man has some superb cardboard.
4. 1959 Topps #35 I love the 1959 set. Sure, I wish this showed Kluszewski as a member of the Reds, but this picture is too awesome too ignore…the posed follow-through after a powerful swing, watching the ball go deep into the stands.
3. 1956 Topps #25 Here we have Big Klu crossing the plate after one of those towering dingers, congratulated by either Jim Greengrass or Stan Palys. The mugshot is reused from Topps’ 1955 issue, but the 1956 design is overall an improvement.
2. 1951 Topps #39 I don’t understand all the fuss about 1952 Topps. The little cards issued in 1951 were awesome. Sure, there were only
52 cards 104 cards issued, but those 52 cards 104 cards were the genesis of Topps. Stop giving so much credit to 1952.
1. 1957 Topps #165 This is the Ted Kluszewski card to own, if you’re only going to own one. But who would want to only own one? This card shows Big Klu’s big arms, sleeveless jersey, and the sneer that sent fear into the hearts of pitchers. What an iconic card.
I love reading about baseball history, and one of my favorite baseball biographies is William A. Cook’s Big Klu, released in 2012. I will never own every Ted Kluszewski baseball card, simply because I’m a cheapskate and there’s no way I’m ponying up for his earliest issues, but I love looking at them online and learning more about one of my dad’s favorite players.
“Hey, look! I got a Barney Dreyfuss card!” *rolls eyes, throwing pack down in disgust*
I remember where I was when I heard Bill Mazeroski was elected to the Hall of Fame. I was not a Maz fan, nor a Pirates fan, and I may have not even been aware of his World Series heroics at the time. But sitting in my car in the CVS parking lot in Bowling Green, Kentucky, I remember hearing on ESPN radio that Mazeroski was going to the Hall of Fame. I have no idea why that memory stays with me.
Mazeroski was a very good defensive second baseman, and perhaps that contributed more than anything to his candidacy. He appeared in ten All-Star Games, received eight Gold Glove Awards, and was named the 1960 Major League Player of the Year by the Sporting News.
In 1980, SSPC released a set of cards featuring baseball Hall of Famers called “Baseball Immortals.” The set was updated in 1984, 1986, and 1987 to include new inductees. These were some of my favorite non-mainstream cards when I began collecting, because how else was I going to get a card of Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig? Not too many of these cards remain in my collection, but I would like to get my hands on a complete set someday. That is, as complete as it gets…through 1987.
Unfortunately, inductees from 1988 onward never became a part of the SSPC “Baseball Immortals” set. Let’s fix that, shall we?
I have created virtual cards or “fun cards” of all the inductees from 1988 through 1999 so far, with plans to eventually bring the set completely up to date. 2006 may be the biggest challenge in this, with 18 inductees that year alone. But we’ll tackle that year when we get there. Today, we will begin with the lone inductee from 1988, Pittsburgh’s Willie Stargell.
“Pops” was a first-ballot inductee with 82.4% of the BBWAA vote in 1988. The 1979 NL MVP slugged 475 home runs in his 21-year career. In addition to the NL MVP award, Stargell also took home World Series MVP honors in 1979 as the Bucs defeated the Baltimore Orioles in seven games.
The three best pitchers in the National League in 1988 were Orel Hershiser, Danny Jackson, and David Cone. No ifs, ands, or buts. But at the break, it was not so clear-cut. Pittsburgh pitcher Bob Walk had ten victories at the break along with a 2.47 ERA, while Hershiser sat at 13 wins/2.62 ERA, Jackson at 10/3.28, and Cone at 9/2.52. However, the latter three ended the season with at least 20 wins, while Walk was only able to muster two more victories in 1988.
Still, at the break, Walk was in the mix for best pitcher in the National League. and he was rewarded with a trip to Cincinnati for the All-Star Game.
Mike Schmidt started seven All-Star games from 1981-1989; Graig Nettles started in 1985, and Bobby Bonilla in 1988. Topps featured Tim Wallach at third base in the 1988 All-Star subset, but the Expos’ third baseman did not appear in the 1988 game.
Bonilla recently received his yearly $1.2 million payment from the Mets. He will receive a check from the Mets every year through 2035 as a result of his release in 2000.
(October 17, 1915 – April 4, 2016)
Former MLB catcher for the Boston Braves, Brooklyn Dodgers, and Pittsburgh Pirates, Mike Sandlock passed away Monday at the age of 100. At the time of his death he was the oldest verified former major leaguer. That distinction now goes to 99-year old Eddie Carnett.
(February 12, 1926 – March 23, 2016)
Recipient of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award in 1991, Joe Garagiola, Sr. played nine years for the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, and New York Giants. He started his broadcast career with KMOX in 1955 calling Cardinals games, later work with NBC radio and television.
Baseball Stadiums 2016 Calendar
published by TF Publishing, 2015
Now that October has arrived, it is time to admit that Christmas is just around the corner. Yes, we have to get through Halloween and Thanksgiving first, but it is never too soon to start thinking about what gifts you will be buying for others. One small gift that is timeless is the calendar. Whether you go with the daily boxed variety, or the monthly hang-on-the-wall calendar, everyone needs to know what day it is at some point.
Perfect Timing publishes a wide variety of calendars, including this very nice Baseball Stadiums 2016 Calendar. Twelve ballparks are featured, including such vital statistics as home team, opening date, dimensions, capacity, and playing surface. The twelve parks are Busch (St. Louis), AT&T (San Francisco), Fenway (Boston), Citi (New York Mets), PNC (Pittsburgh), Great American (Cincinnati), Yankee (New York Yankees), Wrigley (Chicago Cubs), Chase (Arizona), Comerica (Detroit), Rogers (Toronto), and Dodger (Los Angeles). The calendar measures 11.8×23.4 when hung on the wall, showing the stadium of the month; the calendar portion has plenty of room to jot down appointment and meeting reminders in the blocks.