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Monday, October 8, 2007

Card of the Week 10/08

This week's Card of the Week is one of the most beautiful specimens I own. A Pristine 1954 Topps Duke Snider.

I thought I'd post the card for your viewing pleasure while I work on the draft of the actual post.
Can any of you smart kids tell me why I chose a Brooklyn Dodger for my Card of the Week on this dark day in American History?

UPDATE: two days later... Sorry about that folks. You know those old Road Runner cartoons where Wile E. Coyote chases the speedy bird across a railroad track? Then he looks down one side of the track and sees nothing, then looks down the other side of the track, and sees it's all clear, then starts to go across the track and then *POW* he's flattened by a train? Replace train with work and Wile E. with me and that's your answer to why it's taken so long to finish this post.

Reader Rob got it right, although in a slightly roundabout fashion. On October 8th, 1957, Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley officially announced that the Dodgers were moving to Los Angeles. There are a library full of books devoted to the subject, so I'm not going to get into the controversy of whether greedy O'Malley bolted for more money or if the idiot politicians forced him out of town. Rob is absolutely right in one respect: The Dodgers move to the west coast was dependent on the Giants doing the same. The Giants actually had many of the same issues as the Dodgers, a crumbling stadium, lagging attendance, stubborn politicians and a giant pot of money waiting for them in California from a city desperate for a major league club. There's a legitimate gripe there as well, everyone bemoans the poor Brooklynites losing their team, but no one really cares about the die-hard Giants fans that watched their team run off. Maybe it's sympathy for the working class Brooklyn fans , maybe it's the Jackie Robinson mystique, maybe it's the whole Ebbets field trolly-dodging bums mythology, maybe it's the fact that most people think the Giants are still in New York (they beat the Jets just last week!). I personally think it's because the jilted Brooklyn fans got more book deals.

At any rate, New York went from the Center of the Baseball World to not even having a National League team in one fell swoop. It wasn't surprising that a team would move, every city that had two teams lost one of them to another town in the mid-50's except for Chicago (which is surprising, considering how lousy those Cubs teams were). Losing both at once was a big shock though, and generated a bit of resentment. Q: If you were locked in a room with Hitler, Stalin and Walter O'Malley, and had a gun but only two bullets, what do you do? A: Shoot O'Malley. Twice. Would it have really been that difficult to find another team to ship out to California? The woeful Senators ended up moving to Minnesota a few short years later anyway. On the flip side, America was changing in the 50's and it was really about time that the Major Leagues spread out from a handful of Eastern cities to the rest of the country. Whether you're a broken hearted Brooklyn fan or a happy San Francisco fan or were born decades later in between the two coasts and don't care either way, there is one evil that Walter O'Malley unleashed upon the world for which he can never be forgiven: Had the Dodgers not moved to Los Angeles, the New York Mets would never have existed.

Ok, enough with the history lesson and the backhanded swipe at my team's division rival, let's talk about this wonderful card. Before I got this one, the only original Duke Snider card I had was his 1964 Topps card. Anyone who has seen that card knows how sad it looks, featuring a shell shocked Snider playing for a horrific '63 Mets team. An eBay seller I frequented for vintage cards happened to also be a Brooklyn fan. For some reason there are a whole lot of old time collectors who are Brooklyn fans. It makes sense, Topps was based out of Brooklyn and there were a lot of cards floating around during the Dodgers' heyday in the 50's. There is a hard core collector who has a stand at the local flea market who is a big time Dodgers fan. When I go to check out his cards (he has a fantastic selection of vintage and autographed stuff) he likes to tell stories of his favorite player Billy Cox, of grabbing handfuls of 1954 NY Journal-American cards off of newstands when he was a kid (and putting Mantles in the bicycle spokes since he was a Yankee) and of big purchases of collections back in the day.

Apparently this eBay seller upgraded a few cards in his collection, because a group of Brooklyn auctions popped up all at once and this Duke was one of them. I snagged this one pretty cheaply and was happy to get it. Minor imperfections aside, it's a great looking card of a great player from a great set. Who would complain if they had a Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle in this condition? Heck I'd murder entire villages in cold blood for a '54 Aaron that looked even half as good as this one. Point is, it's an original Duke card and I didn't have to drop a hundred bucks on it. All those creases and scuffs and erase marks and tears just show that it has character. Who wants it in beautiful unblemished PSA 8? Well I do, but I'll settle for this slightly used version for now.


Rob said...

Ah -- 50 years ago Walter O'Malley started events in motion that lead to other events that would culminate in an historical occasion -- The Giants moving to San Francisco.

Joey said...

This card reminds me of a website I landed on a long time ago. The owner said he would buy any vintage cards in any condition. And to prove his point he posted numerous pictures of mutilated cards he had purchased.

Bay Rat North West said...

why have you not sent this one to PSA or Beckett for grading? Could bring a small fortune graded on ebay!

--David said...

I have no idea, as I am far too young to know of such things... Okay, maybe not THAT young, but I still have no clue... I do, however, love the Tipton-esque machismo with which you display this fine specimen.

moremonkeys138 said...

It is better. By far a ton more character than mine. Maybe I'll give it some character myself...