April 2018 TTM Report

I hinted at it in the last post, but you already knew the April TTM Report was overdue. Well, here it is! There were a few nice pickups last month, including several new additions and upgrades for the the Astro-graphs collection.

Gene Clines: 3/3, 8 days.

I’d written Clines once before, when I pulled some spare Pirates cards of his a couple years ago. He was very kind about signing the cards I sent and answering some questions I’d asked about his time with Pittsburgh. I remember not long after that I’d been looking through the Astros coaches, having decided to try and track down those autographs as well, and discovering that Clines spent several years as the minor league hitting coordinator before serving as the hitting coach with the big league club in 1988. So, after some hunting, I was finally able to track down a Brace photo of him in an Astros uniform – probably from Spring Training during his time as the minor league hitting coordinator, given the uniform. Then at a show last year I found a dealer with a lot of the police issue cards from the ’80s and discovered that of course there was a staff card featuring Gene among the other coaches. I finally sat down to make a custom and Mr. Clines was once again quite kind in his very quick reply.

Denny McLain: 1/1, 13 days.

This one was the only return from April which required a donation, and it just so happened to arrive on my birthday, so let’s just count it as a present to myself. Of course we all know that Denny is the last pitcher to ever win 30 games in a season when he went 31-6 in leading the Tigers to a championship in 1968. It’s not going to happen again, folks. I’d been wanting to add Denny to my collection for some time, given that his feats also include a pair of Cy Young awards and his fee is a modest ten bucks. When I found this rather nice condition ’68 at a show last year for two dollars, it was just perfect. I still need to blog about some cards from that show (which was last June! yikes!).

Ross Stripling: 1/1, 45 days.

Most people know my fellow Aggie Ross Stripling as the guy Dave Roberts pulled from his major league after he had a no-hitter going through 7 1/3 innings. He actually made the team in college as a walk-on, and while I’m by no means a fanatic about following the Aggies in baseball, it’s been fun keeping tabs on Ross. He’s from Houston, which also meant that he had the dubious honor of flying home after the Dodgers dropped the World Series only to find out that his flight was full of joyful Astros fans. Ross actually wrote me a nice letter as well (leading off my letter to a fellow Aggie with “Howdy!” probably piqued his interest a bit). For the record, Stripling said he was completely gassed when Roberts came to get him. “In a perfect world, we would have been up 10-0 and I could have thrown another 15 pitches down the middle to see what happened. Oh well!” he wrote.

Mike Easler, 4/4, 62 days.

Mike actually opened his career with a couple brief stints with the Astros, but he really blossomed once he wound up in Pittsburgh in the late ’70s. It was there that he picked up a World Series title with Pops and the Family in 1979. He also hit for the cycle against the Reds in 1980 and made the ’81 All-Star team. In his response to my letter, he noted that playing for the Pirates with Stargell leading the team was “the greatest experience of my life and career.” Mike signed two fantastic 1981 cards featuring him in the all-yellow Pirates uniforms, as well as a pair of customs I’d sent.

Juan Pizarro: 5/5, 18 days.

Juan Pizarro came up with the Milwaukee Braves in 1957, helping them to a title, and the Puerto Rican pitcher went on to put together a long 18-year career. During that time he bounced around quite a bit, playing for eight teams and shuttling between the rotation and the bullpen. He also made a pair of All-Star teams.

I’d been meaning to write Juan for some time, as he spent the end of the 1973 season with the Astros, but tracking down a picture of him in the team uniform had been quite difficult. By the time I had, Hurricane Irma had ravaged the region – he still lives on the island of Puerto Rico. So I filed the customs I’d made away and waited for the mail to start back up in the area, and kept an eye on the returns. Before too long, people were once again reporting successes with Mr. Pizarro, which made me quite thankful that he was doing alright.
While I was image hunting, I also came across this neat custom that another baseball fan had made, a rather cool horizontal 1957 card in the 1957 style. Given that he won a championship with the Braves that year, I decided to make a physical copy of this and send it to him as well – it came out rather nice. Of playing on that Braves team and winning the Series, Pizarro said, “I felt like a king.”

Doug Fister: 2/3, 71 days.

Given the response rates I see now, I don’t expect too many Spring Training requests to come back, even from the non-stars. That doesn’t stop me from trying altogether, however. I think this year I sent out around 30-40 requests and I’ll be happy if 10 of those come back. A couple were long shots, but most were former Astros. These two from Doug Fister are nice upgrades to the card that was filling his slot in the Astro-graphs binder.

Gary Kroll: 4/2, 11 days.

Ah, Gary Kroll – he’s clearly still wearing his Mets uniform in that pesky high numbered card from 1966. It’s his only Astros card, and tracking one down for a reasonable price (especially given the fact that I’ll need another for my team binder) was the main reason keeping me from writing him for so long. He’s got a fantastic success rate, and wrote some nice replies to the questions in my letter. During the time it took me to come across a nice ’66 Kroll that wasn’t going to cost an arm and a leg, I also discovered a rather nice Spring Training photo of Kroll from his time with Houston. Check out that road uni and the stirrups with the star! Oh, that’s just so classic. 

Mr. Kroll also included a couple extras in the envelope as well – a 4×6 of him with the Mets that’s a rather interesting photoshop job, and a McCarthy postcard from his Mets days. This one has me a bit stumped, though, because it’s a bit smaller than your usual postcard and doesn’t have any markings on the back. It doesn’t feel like a reproduction, however. I’m going to need Nick V. to come by with a loupe and help me dissect this one.

Among his answers, Kroll did mention that he does still follow baseball somewhat, and that the players he enjoys watching include Judge, Harper, and a lot of the pitchers, including Arrietta and the Mets starters.

That’s it for the April returns! Not a bad month at all. I added three guys to the Astro-graphs, upgraded two more, and picked up a two-time Cy Young award winner that won 31 games in a season.

0 Replies to “April 2018 TTM Report”

  1. So I've been a bit behind on my blog reading and only just saw the batsignal. A high-res scan (like 1200 DPI) of the bottom part of that postcard works as well as a loupe (well except for hitting the paper with a blacklight). Certainly looks like it's printed offset so far but there's something odd going on in the lettering which kind of suggests a digital scan.

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