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Sports Then and Now



The Incredible Value of the 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle Baseball Card 1

Posted on May 02, 2017 by Ross Uitts

It’s considered the most iconic post-War baseball card in the hobby yet it’s also commonly mistaken as his rookie card.

That’s right, the 1952 Topps #311 card is actually not Mickey Mantle’s rookie card.

That distinction would belong to the 1951 Bowman #253 card.

But even though that one is Mickey Mantle’s true rookie card, it’s actually his 1952 Topps #311 that is the more valuable of the two.

1951-Bowman-253-Mickey-Mantle-rookie-card

And as you might often expect, Mantle is a rare case where a player’s rookie card isn’t his most valuable.

So, why is that?

Well, the story is actually quite fascinating.

Topps has been the biggest name in sports cards since 1952 when they released their first official baseball card set.

And that’s the first of several factors that make’s Mantle’s 1952 Topps card so valuable: he was the most popular player in the industry juggernaut’s first set.  This immediately sends the card’s historical value through the roof. Even common cards of this set can fetch hundreds of dollars in top condition.

The second reason for its high value is because it’s way scarcer that you might expect.

To understand how scarce it is, you’ve got to remember that Topps and other manufacturers released baseball cards in multiple series. At the beginning of the 1952 baseball season, kids were chasing cards in Series 1, tearing through the 5 cent packs in search of their heroes. But Mantle was nowhere to be found. Series 1 only included cards #1-310, and Topps had earmarked Mantle to be card #311.

Read the rest of this entry →

Alex Rodriguez: Is This Really How It Ends? 1

Posted on August 08, 2016 by Dean Hybl
The Alex Rodriguez era in New York will officially end on August 12th.

The Alex Rodriguez era in New York will officially end on August 12th.

It wasn’t supposed to end this way. Rather than completing his career in a generally meaningless game on a Friday night in August, Alex Rodriguez was supposed to exit either with a dramatic World Series performance or after eclipsing the “bogus” home run record of a disgraced cheater.

Instead, following a hastened Sunday morning press conference, Rodriguez will serve on the active roster for the Yankees only through August 12th before being released. While there is still a chance that he will be picked up by another team, the fact that he is still owed more than $25 million dollars over the next year means he will likely instead move to an advisor role with the Yankees.

It seems like forever ago, but it has actually only been eight years (2008) since Rodriguez was seen by most in baseball as the savior who would free the game from the purgatory of having Barry Bonds and his chemically supported body at the top of the prestigious career home run list.

Of course, we all know about his dramatic fall from grace. It started with a Sports Illustrated article and a somewhat confusing explanation in 2009 where Rodriguez admitted to taking PEDs given to him by a relative while with the Texas Rangers, but insisted it was a short-term thing and hadn’t significantly enhanced his performance.

While his explanation was hard for some to accept, for the most part people (most particularly Yankee fans) took it hook line and sinker. Especially when he overcame past playoff failures and helped lead the Yankees to a World Series title in 2009.

Interestingly, while Rodriguez still showed above average power for the next couple seasons, he never again hit .300 for a season (something he had done nine times between 1995 and 2008). He also started regularly missing time with injuries starting in 2009.

After reaching 30 home runs and 100+ RBI in 2009 and 2010, from 2011-2013 Rodriguez played in only 265 games (out of 486) and totaled only 41 home runs and 138 RBI in three years.

During this time, his insistence that using PEDs was not a regular part of his career also came into question as he was prominently mentioned in the investigation of the Biogenesis lab in Miami. It was his inclusion and supposed attempt to cover up his involvement that resulted in Major League Baseball coming down with a historic suspension that ultimately saw Rodriguez miss the entire 2014 season.

Despite some wondering whether the Yankees would want him back, the fact that they owed him $65 million guaranteed that he would return.

Playing almost exclusively as the designated hitter, Rodriguez actually had a solid season at the age of 39 in 2015. He appeared in 151 games, his most since 2007, and hit 33 home runs with 86 RBI. However, he struggled over the final two months of the season and went hitless as the Yankees lost the Wild Card Playoff Game. Read the rest of this entry →

Remembering Major League Baseball’s Mr. November Derek Jeter 0

Posted on November 01, 2015 by Mike Raffone

MIKE sports comic Mr. November

This athlete tops the charts as one of Major League Baseball’s most admired and respected players ever.

In addition to Derek Jeter’s Captain Clutch nickname, the former New York Yankee also came to be known as Mr. November.

Jeter got the name through unique circumstances surrounding the postponement of the 2001 World Series.

He not only earned his own separate month on the calendar in Major League Baseball lore, but he also will be remembered as one of the greatest players and most trustworthy athletes of his generation.

It’s only fitting that we honor him on this first day of the month of November.

Due to the shocking September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City, the Fall Classic between the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks was delayed. Games were pushed back until late October. The Yankees won Game 4 of the series when Derek Jeter hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning. This extra-inning game took place for the first time during the month of November. The Yankee Stadium scoreboard recognized Jeter’s historic moment and immediately called him Mr. November.

Historically, Jeter excelled in the post-season where he won five World Series championships and batted an impressive .351. The Yankee shortstop also played in a total of 152 post-season games. During that time, he made 679 plate appearances and collected 191 hits. No wonder why Derek Jeter was known for being clutch.

In addition to his remarkable post-season statistics, Jeter served as a terrific role model during his 20 years with the New York Yankees. The Yankee great is expected to be a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee.

This 1996 American League Rookie of the Year and 2000 World Series Most Valuable Player made 14 All-Star appearances. Mr. November’s also collected five Silver Slugger Awards and won five Gold Gloves.

Legendary baseball coach Don Zimmer appropriately called Jeter “the all-time Yankee.” Upon retiring last year, Jeter ranked as the all-time New York Yankees leader in hits, games played, stolen bases and at bats.

Over and above his baseball exploits, Derek Jeter’s leadership and ever present smile made him one of the most successful product spokesmen in sports.

Global brands like Nike, Gillette, Ford, VISA and Gatorade paid Mr. November handsomely to endorse their products – no matter what month of the year.

MIKE on sports!

Yogi Berra Transcended Baseball 1

Posted on September 23, 2015 by Dean Hybl
Yogi Berra made his major league debut in 1946 and reached his first World Series in 1947.

Yogi Berra made his major league debut in 1946 and reached his first World Series in 1947.

Yogi Berra, who has passed away at the age of 90, wasn’t just a baseball legend, but also an American hero, cultural icon and national treasure. Not too bad for the son of an Italian immigrant who grew up in St. Louis.

Growing up across the street from another future baseball icon Joe Garagiola, Berra was an American Legion standout before signing with the New York Yankees in 1942.

Starting his career with the Norfolk Tides, who were a member of the Class B Piedmont League, Berra once drove in 23 runs in a doubleheader.

Like many other future baseball stars, Berra served in World War II. As a gunner’s mate, Berra served on the USS Bayfield during the D-Day invasion of France.

Following the war, Berra returned to baseball and despite not possessing great size or athleticism, soon began turning heads with his baseball abilities. He was tutored as a catcher by Hall of Famer Bill Dickey and eventually followed in Dickey’s footsteps wearing number 8 for the New York Yankees.

After appearing in seven games at the major league level in 1946, Berra appeared in 83 games in 1947 and was on his way to a long and illustrious major league career.

Berra made the first of his record 14 World Series appearances in 1947 and earned his first championship ring despite hitting only .158 with a home run and two RBI in six games against the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The following season Berra made the first of 15 straight All Star appearances while hitting .305 with 14 home runs and 98 RBI.

One of the elements that made Berra such an iconic baseball figure was that he served as a bridge between generations of Yankee greatness. He played five seasons with the legendary Joe DiMaggio and then spent more than a decade with the next iconic Yankee Mickey Mantle. While Berra didn’t necessarily have the physical talents of either of those stars, he ended up matching the Yankee legends  as three-time winners of the American League MVP award. Read the rest of this entry →

17 Most Valuable Sports Teams in the World 3

Posted on November 07, 2014 by Dean Hybl
Th Staples Center is home to two valuable basketball franchises.

Th Staples Center is home to two valuable basketball franchises.

You already know how great your favorite sports team is, but do you how much they’re actually worth? The following list is a pretty simple ranking sheet based entirely on the monetary value of each of the individual teams on the list, regardless of sport. Most of the teams on this list will be familiar to people who aren’t even familiar with the sport because they dominate the headlines of their respective sports year after year. Here goes:

17. Philadelphia Eagles
I bet if you asked anyone in the broader sports world if the Eagles were the sixth most valuable American Football team they would say no. The truth is, the market is deep as the $1.314 billion valuation proves. Eagle fans are avid and are being rewarded with stadium renovations that make it more enjoyable to continue to support their team. These guys are proof that it matters when people love and support their teams.

16. Arsenal F.C.
Arsenal is arguably the most successful club in British Premier league history, particularly because of their reliability. They’re a contender every year. For an American comparison, they’re basically the Yankees. Rich, based in a big city, London, and regularly in the running for the pennant. That’s probably why they’re worth $1.331 billion.

15. Los Angeles Lakers
This list is quickly becoming one of teams that you love to hate. The Lakers are a dynasty franchise that has had periods of dominance every decade since the seventies. With that in mind it’s surprising they’re only valued at $1.35 billion considering Ballmer just bought the Clippers for $2 billion.

14. New York Jets
The Jets have struggled to fill MetLife stadium the past two years and stand at 26th in NFL attendance rankings but they have a slice of one of the largest markets in football so they’re worth $1.38 billion.

13. New York Knicks
The Knicks had the biggest average audience in the NBA this past season with 163,000 viewers per game. It’s pretty astonishing considering they were losing more than 50 percent of their games at that time. Those masochistic fans have made the Knicks worth $1.4 billion.

12. Houston Texans
Texas is one of the most avid football states in America, so much so that there is a TV series AND a movie about how important High School football is to its residents. Although these depictions were fictionalized, that really speaks to the markets yearning for more ever football. $1.45 billion.

11. Boston Red Sox
Now that they’ve broken the curse, they can’t seem to stop breaking it. They’re making up for lost time with a third World Series title in ten years. That’s especially amazing since this is the sport with the second fewest repeat champions in the four major North American sports. $1.5 billion.

10. New York Giants
The more loved of the two New York teams at the moment, the Giants, have a better winning record these days to be happy about. Thus, they get all of the New York bandwagon to tune in. It’s made them $200 million wealthier than their counterparts. $1.55 billion. Read the rest of this entry →

35 Years Ago: Yankees Lose Captain in Shocking Accident 5

Posted on August 02, 2014 by Dean Hybl
It was 35 years ago that New York Yankees captain Thurman Munson died in a plane accident.

It was 35 years ago that New York Yankees captain Thurman Munson died in a plane accident.

While current New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter has spent much of this season saying good bye to baseball fans across the country, it was 35 years ago that another Yankees captain left the game in a sudden and tragic manner.

On August 2, 1979, the two-time defending World Series Champion New York Yankees were struggling to stay in contention in the American League East. Despite having completed a must-needed three game sweep the day before with a 9-1 win over the Chicago White Sox, the Yankees stood in fourth place in the division 14 games behind the first place Baltimore Orioles.

A much needed off day, it would prove to be one of the toughest in team history.

After the three game series in Chicago, Yankee captain and veteran catcher Thurman Munson chose to spend the off-day in his hometown of Canton, Ohio, rather than travel back to New York.

An 11-year veteran, Munson had been the fourth pick of the 1968 MLB Draft and in 1970 was named the American League Rookie of the Year. Over the next decade, Munson was considered the “heart and soul” of the Yankees as they looked to regain the glory of past decades.

In April of 1976, a season that would end with the first World Series appearance for the Yankees in a dozen years, Munson became the first New York player to be designated as team captain since the retirement of Lou Gehrig in 1939.

Munson was a seven-time All-Star and in 1976 was named the American League MVP. He posted three straight seasons of 100+ RBIs from 1975-77 and had five seasons with a .300 or higher batting average. Read the rest of this entry →

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