Sunday, December 21, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Everyone is filling up at the gas station for the big parade! (The background above is a wood carving that my wife's father carved in 1962. In 1964, it was entered in the Princeton, NJ fifth annual Jaycee's Art Exhibit and won Honorable Mention!)

The snow is falling in Matchbox Village but the big tree is up and Santa will be here soon!

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a safe, happy and healthy New Year.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mickey Mantle

My favorite baseball player of all time was Mickey Mantle. I was fortunate enough to see him play when I was growing up, both on television and in person at Yankee Stadium.

Here is a magazine about the Mick from 1957.

Mickey had great power and hit many a "tape-measure" shot. He is credited with hitting the longest home run, a 565 foot shot in 1953 at Griffith Stadium in Washington, DC. Here is a baseball card from 1961 noting this feat.

No player ever hit a fair ball out of Yankee Stadium, but Mantle almost did, twice. One shot hit a seat high in the upper deck and the other hit the facade hanging from the upper deck. But he was not all power, he had great speed though slowed by injuries his whole career. He once hit 3 inside the park home runs in one month! He was also a superb bunter, much like his boyhood idol, Phil Rizzuto.

Mantle was born October 30, 1931. He was the son of Mutt and Lovell Mantle. Form the time he was 4, his dad, Mutt, spent all the time he had available teaching Mick the fundamentals of baseball, including to be a switch hitter. Here is a card from 1962 showing the switch hitter connecting on another long home run.

Here are two coins from 1964, one showing him as a righty and the other as a lefty.

Here is a card showing my favorite Mantle memory. The Mick hit a home run in the bottom of the 9th inning off Barney Schultz to give the Yankees a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 3 of the 1964 World Series. My bother and I watched the game, after we got out of school, at my grandmother's house.

Mickey Mantle retired from baseball on May 1, 1969, after many individual awards but leading the Yankees team to many a World Series title. Here is his final card.

No male in the Mantle family ever lived to an old age, working in the mines is a tough way to earn a living. Mantle always said "If I knew I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself." Mickey Mantle died from cancer in August of 1995 with his wife, Merlyn and his son, David, at his side. Mickey and Merlyn had 3 other children, Mickey Jr., Danny and Billy. Billy passed away in 1994.

Mickey was not perfect and had his faults as a person, but in between the foul lines, he was as great as a player that ever was or will ever be.

Here is my favorite Mantle anecdote.

After one World Series, Mick was invited to Disneyland. At one point, he was asked to pose with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and the whole Disney gang. Mantle was in the center of everyone. The photographer looked up from his camera and said "Goofy, move a little to the right."

Mantle slid over a few inches to the right.

The photographer stuttered "I was talking to the guy behind you." Mick turned around and there was Goofy, eight feet tall with long ears and a cartoon grin.

Asked later if he thought some joker with a camera was really likely to address him as "Goofy", Mick replied, "I've been called worse."

Thank you Mickey.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


I have love Volkswagens since I was a little kid. I like the old "Beetles" the best.

Here is my first Matchbox Volswagen, the #25b.

Here are some of my VWs that are still in their blisterpacks. This display is on a wall in my room.

This is my largest Volkswagen collectible. It is an old advertising poster that I obtained from a local dealership. I have had it framed.

Here is my smallest VW. Don't know a lot about this little guy except his base says "Made in Germany". I have had him for over 40 years! Here is the little guy next to a quarter.

Here are a few more of my VWs

From left to right: A windup 1960s Volkswagen made by Schuco, A cat playing with a windup VW given to me by my wife, a new sporty Matchbox VW, a VW on a keychain whose front lights light up; this was purchased from Willey's Store, Greensboro, VT and a larger Volkswagen from Yankee Candle in South Deerfield, Massachusetts.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

"These are a Few of My Favorite Things"

Some of my favorite collectibles are those that were given to me by my family and one that is homemade!

Here is a cool Matchbox Car that my wife's two grandsons, Sage and Cole, picked out for me.

Here is a Matchbox Car in the 50 state car series from Oklahoma that my wife's son, Geoff and his wife Leslie and daughter Micaela picked out for me.

This is a neat car my step daughter Laura got for me. It is a small version of the car from the Test Track ride at Walt Disney World that we went on.

This is a great car that my brother in law, Ronnie, got for me. It looks super in my display case.

As you can see, I love keeping things unopened, in their original package when possible.

But my favorite is this "Matchbox" Box. My wife made this for me over 10 years ago. I think it is perfect. She painted an old cigar box to resemble a Matchbox Box. I may be biased but I think she did a great job. It looks fantastic and I love looking at it every day.

I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving holiday. Take extra care if you are traveling. And when you get there, go ahead, have that extra piece of pie!!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

My Favorite Baseball Card Set

My favorite baseball card set is the 1967 Topps set. They say that the majority of baseball card collectors will choose as their favorite set a set that came out within a year of their 10th birthday. Since I was born in 1957, I’m part of that majority.

The 1967 set has really beautiful pictures in an uncluttered setting. I have my sets stored in plastic sheets by team. The large team name on the 1967 cards makes this look great when the cards are side by side. Also, the team name is not overbearing like it can seem to be on the 1964 Topps cards.

The 609 card set is filled with superstars, rookies, errors, variations, the first Topps card of Maury Wills and, of course, the high number series. In the high number series of 76 cards, 22 were double printed and are easier to find then the remaining 54 cards. I completed the basic set around 1986. The two hardest cards for me to get were #553, Yankees Rookies and #580, Rocky Colavito.

One of the best looking cards is the Atlanta Braves Team card, #100. A great photo of the team outside of their stadium.

I love the two cards of George Korince on the Tigers Rookies cards. Its pretty easy to tell they are not the same person.

I also like the card of fellow Rutgers Alumnus Jeff Torborg.

My other favorite card is the rare #45 Roger Maris Yankees blanked back proof card. Proof cards are an interesting topic and will be the subject of a future blog.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

My Matchbox Car collection started in 1965.

My parents and my brother were going away for the weekend to visit my Uncle and his family in Maryland. For some reason, I did not want to go. I stayed with my Grandmother at her house.

On Saturday afternoon, my Aunt Ann came over. She bought me a present, 4 little toy cars! Little did she know what she was starting. I tore open the boxes (which were never seen again) and quickly pulled out my new treasures: A Volkswagen bus (the #34B Volkswagen Microvan), A racecar (the #41B D-Type Jaguar), A newspaper truck (the #42A Bedford Evening News Van) and A moving truck (the #46B Pickfords Removals Van). I spent the rest of the time playing with them.

My collection grew from there. My mom or dad would buy me some cars during the year but at Christmas, mom would bring me a little catalog with pictures of all the current Matchbox cars. I would neatly make out a list of the ones I wanted for “Santa”. The big guy never let me down as on Christmas morning, under the tree, I seemed to always get the cars on my list. Sure glad we always gave him cookies and milk. (Mom would say not only did he like the snack, but he was nice enough to do the dishes!).

I only collected Matchbox cars for a couple of years. Later, one year my wife got me a book on Matchbox cars and I was hooked. I got an issue of Matchbox USA, wrote to many of the dealers listed and started building my collection. The first thing I did was to get better condition cars of the ones in my collection along with their boxes. Then, I started getting the cars I wanted as a child but never got and then just getting the cars I liked. I then expanded into building, accessories etc.

Those first 4 cars have had a major effect on my life so it seems. They are the focal point of my displays. I have always loved Volkswagens, I also love Jaguars. Also racecar is a palindrome which is a subject that intrigues me. I worked through high school and college at the local stationary/newspaper store, greeting the newspaprer truck sometimes as early as 3:00 am! I‘m not sure where the moving truck fits in but every job I have had has moved their location while I was employed there.

Here are my first 4 beauties. Enjoy!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Hello and Welcome to my Collector's Corner Blog

My name is Michael and I am a collector of baseball cards and Matchbox Cars.

I have been a collector of baseball cards since I was a young child and over the years have accumulated a large collection of baseball card sets, my favorites are the Mickey Mantle cards.

For me, my biggest thrill was completing the 1965 Topps set. I had about half the set and in 1984, bought the 1965 Topps Mickey Mantle card. It took me about 2 more years to complete the set. Remember, this was pre internet/ebay! I not only completed my 1965 set, but many more sets and I still continue to collect and complete sets to this day.

In April 1988 I submitted a piece to Baseball Hobby News entitled, The Joy of Completing a Set One Card at a Time.

I wanted to share my journey with other baseball fans and collectors.

I started my Matchbox Car collecting after I decided to find duplicates of my original Matchbox Cars I had has a child, but in better condition with boxes.

Once that was done, I then started another journey of collecting vintage Matchbox Cars and newer cars that I find interesting. I am a big fan of Volkswagens and not only have a large collection of Matchbox VW's, but other brands as well. My Matchbox collection not only contains cars/trucks/planes, etc., but many vintage and newer Matchbox collectibles.

A Small Sample of some of my Matchbox Cars & other collectibles.