Mario Marios

Back in the old Adams Division, the Bruins and Nordiques would seemingly play each other dozens of times a year. I’m pretty sure watching these (along with the Canadiens games) on TV-38 in the late-eighties were my first exposure to a foreign language. Hearing the public address announcer read statements in English and French made it seem like they were on the other side of the planet. And I must have asked my dad why Fred Cusack (the Bruins play-by-play announcer) was saying “Patrick RUE-WAH” instead of “Patrick ROY” a hundred times. However, this guy was my favorite. Since it was the late-eighties, I was eight years old, I had a Nintendo, and played the first two Super Mario Bros. games incessantly, I thought Mario Marois was the funniest thing I’d ever seen. For a while, I misread his name as MARIO MARIOS, which caused me to laugh harder than I think I’ve ever had. This misreading went uncorrected far longer than I want to admit (ahem, last year.) For some reason, I remember Cusack pronouncing it this way, but I’m sure that’s a manufactured memory. I’m still going to blame it all on him, though.

Early today, I noticed this UER:

All images borrowed from the internet, as I’m far from my scanner.

Perhaps this card, obtained very early in my hockey card collecting days, was the genesis of it all? Probably not.


1982 Topps Stickers

A quick post before tonight’s Bruins/Capitals Game 7. The B’s have won five straight elimination games dating back to last year (!) so hopefully they keep the streak going. Both these stickers are from the inaugural set Topps put out in 1982-83. Plenty of more information here.

#90 — Brad McCrimmon

Both these stickers have a nasty diamond cut.

Love the Topps logo, especially when it’s tilted like that.

McCrimmon played 16 seasons in the NHL. He started here in Boston and went on to be an all-star in Calgary and won the Plus-Minus Award in 1988. Sadly, he passed away last year as he was onboard for the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl air disaster.

#262 — NHL Leader Rick Middleton

Middleton was a beast for the Bruins in the seventies and eighties. He won a Lady Bing Trophy, twice reached the Stanley Cup Finals, and captained the team from 1985 until his retirement in 1988. He worked for NESN doing post-game reports until 2007. He was also a Providence Red. (!!)

May Milan Lucic get a Gordie Howe hat-trick tonight and we have at least another two weeks of hockey.

First Yard Sale Find of 2012

Because of eBay and other online resources, the number of deals at flea market and yard sales are dwindling. Most sellers are computer-savvy enough to look up cards on eBay, however, they often mistake  listing prices for actual sale prices. This is further complicated by the fact that items will sell at much higher prices on eBay where a listing can easily reach thousand of potential customers. At a flea market, the number of potential customers can be measured in dozens, if that.

Enough micro-economics.

I found a stack of cards in top loaders at a yard sale down the street last weekend. Most were 1972 Xograph All-Time Greats but at the bottom, in a screw down case was this.

There’s a ding on top above the ‘T” and it’s a little sun-faded but the corners are sharp and its well centered. Everyone’s familiar with Pudge but Cecil Cooper had a number of great years with the Sox and later, the Brewers. Garman was rather unspectacular.


A Troika of Defunct Teams in 1981-82 O-Pee-Chee

Great design here with the rounded corners to the frame. I also love the team names in yellow, stretched in a slight diagonal, like it’s been stamped on after. The one thing that bothers me is the dead white space underneath O-Pee-Chee. On the Topps version, their logo stretches down all the way. It gives the entire border a nice flow. O-Pee-Chee never corrected it and the frame is broken and unrhythmical. On the other hand, the additional French text on the bottom really balances the card nicely.

Mark looks a little strange in this photo. His sweater is too tight and his pants too baggy. He looks like a pee wee wearing hand-me-downs, like the Whalers held onto Gordie’s stuff after his retirement, ripped off the nine and slapped on a five. I really love the Whalers green jerseys but it’s a shame they didn’t work in blue a little more.

1980-81 wasn’t the best season for the Howes. Gordie was gone, Marty didn’t get a card, and Mark was impaled by a net.

#135 — Mike Rogers Super Action

O-Pee-Chee had an “Super Action” subset in many of their early eighties sets (Topps did the same with across all the sports). I put this in quotes because many of the shots feature little to no action. This year’s set highlighted the playoffs. It should surprise no one that the Whalers had a first round exit. This was the last year they played in the old Norris Division.

I wish the base cards incorporated this silhouette into the back.

#274 — Robbie Ftorek

Obviously, the old Nordiques logo looks great here. Ditto Ftorek’s helmet, he’s doing a great Stan Mikita impression in this photo. Notice how the captain’s ‘C’ is an entire piece of fabric sewn on. Ftorek had some great seasons in the WHA but didn’t fare as well post-merger in the NHL. He did even worse as a coach, especially here in Boston, in charge of that 2002 team that, despite being the top seed in the east, was bounced in six games in the first round.

Opening Day

I haven’t made a baseball post in a while so, in honor of Opening Day, I thought I’d post some of my favorite Red Sox cards from my early days of collecting. (The Sox lost out in Detroit to the Tigers in extra innings today. I don’t have very high expectations for the team this season.)

I’ve chosen a card from each Topps set (minus the 1990 one, it’s too ugly) from when I started buying cards until 1993. The late-eighties teams enjoyed a few great seasons under Joe Morgan; they advanced to the ALCS in both 1988 and 1990, only to get swept by the A’s.

The card on the left is from the ’88 Topps set. I love the white vignetting and scripted font. The Red Sox now wear away uniforms like Wade and Spike have on here, but they’ve ditched the navy undershirts for red, which throws the whole thing off.

But first, one of my favorite baseball sets.

1987 Topps #645 — Dwight Evans

This was the first set of cards I ever collected. My dad used to bring them home for me after work. I remember getting upset whenever I didn’t get any Red Sox players in a pack. I think Marty Barrett was the first Red Sox card but I’m not sure. I love, love, LOVE the woodgrain frame. (More soon, from a hockey set.) I really should own this set, considering its sentiment and design.

1988 Topps #377 — Sam Horn

This is one of my favorite cards. For those of you unfamiliar, Sam Horn is something of a folk hero in New England for his prodigious power and being Bill Buckner’s replacement after the 1986 season. Back when I (briefly) collected autographs I sent this away to his home residence. I was pleased when it came back within the week signed. However, I soon realized that Horn wasn’t in Texas at all from when I dropped the card in the mail until it returned; he was in Boston co-hosting the post-game show on NESN. A quick confirmation with a certified autograph on ebay confirmed it to be a forgery, most likely by a relative. Somehow, this makes me like the card more.

1989 Topps #760 — Lee Smith

At some point, I collected a story of Lee Smith, after going a couple of years without an appearance, falling asleep in the bullpen at the All-Star Game with two Big Mac wrappers at his side, but I can’t find any evidence to support it on the internet

1991 Topps Traded #123T — Mo Vaughn

After the loss of Nick Esasky, Mo Vaughn became my favorite player, even before he made the big league club. My dad would take my brother and I to Pawtucket to see the Paw Sox when Mo was on the team. Everyone would chant “Mo! Mo! Mo!” every at bat, even if it was the bottom of the first. I still get sad when I think of him leaving for Anaheim.

1992 Topps #782 — Phil Plantier

Plantier had some pop and a ridiculous batting stance. I remember watching his major league debut in Maine. The Red Sox were in Toronto and he didn’t have a proper batting helmet, so he used his Paw Sox one with the ‘P’ painted over.

1993 Topps #725 — Billy Hatcher

This was the last Topps flagship set that featured a design I enjoyed. It was also the last without a glossy finish. My brother and I were obsessed with Hatcher after he stole home. I remember thinking how impossible and improbable it was. How could it be legal? Why don’t they do it all the time?

Brass Bonanza

O-Pee-Chee produced a number of WHA sets in the late-70s that Topps passed on. These cards epitomize the league itself; they’re alternatingly brilliant on haphazard. The photography is dark and often in need of cropping, half of the cards feature mismatched sweaters and logo (or the infamous “Now with…”), and there are plenty of studio shots.

I picked up a lot of cards from the 1976-1977 and 1977-1978 sets because I’m slowly trying to pick away at both the NHL and WHA O-Pee-Chee sets from 1977. This Al Smith card was included. I love it. There’s a great in-action shot, of Al wearing the old WHA Whalers jerseys (in my mind, where the Whalers never left for Carolina, they still wear these as their alternate sweater). It has the great, harpooned W logo on the border, the whale on Al’s shoulder, and that terrific mask.

Al Played in the 1978 Avco Cup Finals with the Howes, and stayed with the team after they jumped to the NHL a couple years later.

The backs of this set don’t match the front in terms of a design. They’re a mess. Although we get a nice little blurb about the player (I especially love this one) there’s barely an statistics. The blue/brown text on tan stock doesn’t help either…

I love a goalie who's willing to mix it up.