Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Great. Now I Will Have The Fox Sports Theme In My Head Whenever I Watch The Yankees

Ahhhhh, nothing gets me excited about Baseball and my New York Yankees like......Cleatus, The Fox Football Robot??

Bear with me folks. I have not been sipping on the funky wine. Yes, Cleatus is synonymous with football on Fox, but the good folks at Fox allowed a company named ActionHeads to produce figures of Cleatus in different NFL team colors. I do like the Jets figure and have been meaning to pick it up.

So, when I was in California visiting my girlfriend, Gina, we went into Fanzz, a sports shop in Westminster Mall. We were going to the Dodgers game later that night and I wanted to get a Dodger player t shirt to wear to the game. I was able to get a very nice Matt Kemp Brooklyn Dodgers t shirt and Gina bought me a Jackie Robinson Dodgers player t shirt. While we were walking to the register, I saw a boxed figure that warranted a closer inspection.

When I picked it up, I noticed it was a Cleatus figure, but it wasn't painted in any football team colors. It was a Cleatus painted in Yankees colors. I had never seen one before. Figures, I would find this 3,000 miles away from home. It was pretty cool, but after much debate, I decided to put the figure back and save the money for the trip.

So, when I get back to New York, Gina tells me I have a package coming my way. I was wondering what she could have possibly sent my way. Maybe a memento from our trip to Dodger Stadium? A Spider-Man Lucha Libre mask I saw on Olvera Street? When I got the package, it was none of the above. It was the Cleatus Yankees figure I wanted. Does this woman know me or what?

Now, after a year of it sitting on my shelf by my autographed baseballs and being oh so lazy, I finally break him out and review him.

The robot comes in a pretty generic box. Would have been nice if it was at least in team colors.

Side of the box has a picture of Cleatus. At least he's in team colors here.

The back of the box has the supposed specs of Cleatus. Looks like he would be on the Mitchell Report in no time.

I'll tell you what, Cleatus looks pretty bad ass out of the box. I love the colors on him. Perfect combination of Yankee blue and white.

Close up of Cletus. Had that interlocking NY on his chest, which I think is awesome. With the red sunglasses, he kinda looks like Optimus Prime.

Cleatus is wearing a special Fox Sports patch on his right shoulder. Wonder if this will sell for the hundreds of dollars that the Lou Gehrig patch did on eBay.

One of the unfortunate things about the figure is that the fingers don't open or close. Would help holding the bat on both hands if you wanted to pose him that way.

Cleatus has ball joints on the shoulders and a bend at the elbows. There is no bend on the wrists, although they do spin around.

There is a bend at the knees, ankles and at the toes. Unfortunately, since the figure is pretty top heavy, Cleatus is prone to falling over like I am after a few too many adult beverages. Like the wall does for me, I had to hold Cleatus up to show the bends.

Cleatus has a hip swivel and ball joints on top of the legs.

The head can go side to side, but barely goes back and forth. Not going to get a whole lot of movement in the neck area.

The figure has some decent articulation. Once you get the joints loose you will be able to pose Cleatus just about anyway you want to. You will have some limitations, but a collection with a better imagination that I do will be able to get some decent poses out of this figure. Just remember that he is top heavy and is prone to falling over. I will just keep him in the box until I can get a display case and I will put him with my other Yankees statues, bobbleheads and figurines. I really like having this figure and think Cleatus will make a great addition to any baseball collection.

Thank you to my sweet baby for the great addition.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

This Is What Happens When You Talk To Your Bud For Too Long

This blog post spurned from a conversation I had with my buddy, Kerry. Kerry and I have been friends for about a year now. He saw a TTM success and hit me up on Facebook asking me where he can find the addresses. I turned him on to and he was so appreciative that he sent me a package of Jets goodies and we have been tight ever since. Kerry is one of those guys that you talk to once and you feel like you've known him forever and I am quite thankful I can call him my friend.

He and I was talking about Jets football and collecting Jets stuff, as we are both die hard Jets fans when I was suddenly hit with an idea about a Jets related project to start working on. Why not start collecting signed mini helmets of the top 10 all time players in New York Jets history? The more I thought about it, the more I thought I could totally pull it off.

I then realized that I may have gotten a few of the players in the top 10 players already. That would make things a lot easier on me I thought. So, I looked today at some lists and based on all the ones I read, here is the ten players who wore the Jets green and white I will go after in my Jets mini helmet collection, starting with

10-Wesley Walker

When I first started watching the Jets, Walker was the number one receiver. He played with the Jets from 1977 to 1989. He lead the league in receiving in 1978 and was named to 2 Pro Bowls in his career. My favorite memory of Walker was his 4 touchdown performance against the Miami Dolphins, one of them being the game winner, as the Jets beat Miami 51 to 45 in a wild game during the 1986 season. That's a game I wish NFL Films would release on DVD. I don't ever see Walker making any public apperances, so this might be a toughie to track down.

9-Mark Gastineau

Although he will always be known for a late hit on Bernie Kosar during the 1986 Playoffs (we won't be discussing that.), this guy was a beast and quite entertaining after he sacked the quarterback. A member of the New York Jets from 1979-1988, after sacking the QB, he would do a dance that would either have him spinning around or waving his arms about and running in place emphatically. I dug this crazy cat the moment I saw him, although he wasn't exactly Mr. Popular among his teammates for crossing the line during the first NFL Players strike in 1987. A member of the famed New York Sack Exchange he was voted to 5 Pro Bowls, 5 All-Pros, 5 All AFC, was the 1984 AFC Player Of The Year and was the NFL Defensive Player Of The Year in 1982.

I managed to get Mark to sign a Jets throwback mini helmet for me during an in store appearance at a Staples in the Bronx back in 2006, I think. Yet, for some strange reason, I do not have a picture of it. Trust me, I do have one.

8-Winston Hill

Winston Hill played with the Jets from 1963-1976. In that time he had the 10th longest string of starts in Pro Football History with 174. He played on a line that protected Joe Namath and opened holes for Emerson Boozer, Matt Snell and John Riggins. He was a 4 time AFL All Star and played in 4 Pro Bowls. Despite having his number retired by the Jets and being a member of the Jets Ring Of Honor, Winston Hill is not a member of the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. Hill will be another toughie to get on a mini as he doesn't make any appearances. However, he has signed in the past care of his restaurant, so I may try my luck the TTM route.

7-Freeman McNeil

Another former Jet I hold close to my heart. He was the Jets running back from 1981-1992. He led the league in rushing in 1982, which was the first time a Jet led the league in rushing. He is second in rushing on the Jets all time list behind Curtis Martin. He was a 3 time Pro Bowl and a 3 time All Pro selection. He and Johnny Hector were part of a tandem that was among the best in the NFL through out the 80's. How good was Freeman? The Dolphins were playing the Jets in the 1983 AFC Championship game. Miami was flooded with rain leading up to the game. So, in an effort to slow down McNeil, the Dolphins didn't cover the field and the field was a wreck. It worked as the Dolphins beat the Jets and forever earned my hatred.

Of all the players, McNeil may be the toughest to get a mini helmet signed. I have never seen him make any appearances here in NY nor does he sign through the mail. My only hope is getting a signed helmet through the secondary market. I just have to be careful I'm not buying a fake.

6-Larry Grantham

An original Jet. Grantham is only one of 2 men on this list to play for both the Titans Of New York and the Jets. Grantham was an outside linebacker and was always among the Jets leading tacklers. He played with the Jets from 1960-1972. He was voted to 5 AFL All Star teams and is a member of the AFL All Time Second Team. One of the lasting images I have of Grantham, since I never seen him play, was after the Jets won Super Bowl III, he went and grabbed the football from the referee, ran and jumped in the air in celebration.

Grantham has not been in the best of health these past few years. He's another who will be a tough autograph. My one time asking through the mail, he asked for 50.00 for the signature. I haven't as of yet sent it out, but if I am serious about completing this project I may have to.

5-Joe Klecko

If it's a crime not having Winston Hill in the Hall Of Fame, then not having Joe Klecko in is insanity. This guy was an All Pro at three different positions. He was a 4 time Pro Bowl selection, two of them being All-Pro. He was the 1981 NFL, AFC and PFWA Defensive Player Of The Year. How the heck is this dude not in the Hall Of Fame?? The Hall Of Fame committee must have something against a player who gave his heart and soul to the Jets. No one was more feared in that Sack Exchange more than Joe Klecko. I have read countless interviews from players that said this. Get Joe In The Hall Of Fame!!!

Klecko is an in studio commentator for SNY during the Jets regular season games. I may wait one Sunday outside SNY and try to get Joe to sign a helmet for me.

4-Darrell Revis

OK. Either this guy is hated by Jets fans or loved by Jets fans. I fall kind of in the middle. I disliked that he held out for so long and was threatening to do it again and as traded because of this threat, but dammit, I loved knowing that if any opposing QB was throwing in his direction, it was probably getting intercepted. Revis is arguably the best defensive player the Jets ever had. And he wanted to come back this season. Woody Johnson, in his infinate wisdom, decided not to bring Revis back. Big mistake. Our secondary is horrible. We could have used Revis, who only is a 5 time Pro Bowl player, 3 of them being All-Pro and 4 appearances was as a New York Jet.

I'm not even waiting to try and get Revis to sign. I will be shopping for a signed Revis helmet as soon as I am able to.

3-Don Maynard

My buddy, Kerry's all time favorite Jet. With good reason. This man is the Jets All Time Leader in receiving yards, catches and touchdowns. He, along with Larry Grantham, is the only Jet on this list to have played with the Titans, but the only Jet on this list to have also played with the New York Giants. In fact, he played in the Championship game against the Baltimore Colts, which is now known as the Greatest Game Ever Played.

The Tandem of Namath to Maynard was the AFL's most feared. They shredded defenses on their way to a Super Bowl title. Maynard was named to 4 AFL All Star Teams, AFL All Team and was inducted into the Footbal Hall Of Fame.

I was able to get Maynard to sign a Jets mini helmet at the Long Island Card Show back in 2005.

2-Curtis Martin

The one thing I love about the Jets getting Curtis Martin was we got him off the Patriots. One of the greatest running backs I ever seen, Curtis was a Jet from 1998 to 2005, was a three selection to the Pro Bowl as a Jet. He was the oldest player to win the NFL Rushing title at age 31. He had his number 28 retired by the Jets and was inducted into he Pro Football Hall Of Fame in 2012. I would say that Curtis Martin was the best free agent signing the Jets ever made.

I was able to get Martin to sign a mini helmet for me at Jets camp back in 2005. There was a surge of fans who made their way to C-Mart when he started signing. Lucky for me, I stuck out my arm and he saw the mini helmet and signed it.

1-Joe Namath

What, did you think I would say Quincy Carter? No, Quincy is a fine NFL player, but he's no Broadway Joe.

Then again, who is? Joe was the first quarterback to ever pass for over 4,000 yards in a season. He was the AFL Rookie Of The Year in 1965, he was a 4 time AFL All Star, He was also selected to a Pro Bowl in 1972. a 2 time AP AFL MVP, an AP AFL First Team All Star, a 3 time AP AFL Second Team All Star, a PFW NFL Comeback Player Of The Year, a member for the All AFL team and was inducted to the Pro Football Hall Of Fame in 1985. Of course, he led the Jets to their only Super Bowl Appearance and Championship.

Bottom line, Namath is the greatest player in Jets history.

I was extremely lucky to get Namath to sign a mini helmet for me at an in store signing for Sprint in Manhattan back in 2007.

So as I start this project, I already have four of the top 10 Jets signatures on mini helmets. My one rule as I go about this is that the helmets I get the players to sign are the same helmets the players wore during their careers as Jets.

This is a project that I think I'm going to have a lot of fun with. To be able to get helmets signed by some of the greatest players in Jets history will be a thrill for me. A lot of these players were guys I watched when I first started watching the Jets back in 1980. The others, I've seen on film or read about have left an impression on me nonetheless and it would be an honor if I could add their autographs to my Jets collection. Who knows, maybe after I'm done, I can start on the next ten great Jets players.

Thanks for the idea, Kerry.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Perfect Statue

I don't have a lot of Don Larsen in my Yankees collection. Aside from a few cards (nothing vintage) and an autographed ball, there isn't much in the way of Larsen collectibles out there. I don't think he every had anything specifically made for him, like Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra or Roger Maris had. There isn't a Yankee Larsen bobblehead, which I find amazing.

So, about a year ago, my buddy and I were at the MLB All Star Fan Fest and came across a table that the Yogi Berra Museum had. I looked at their table, hoping for some really cool Yogi Berra merch for my Yankee collection, but really didn't see anything that jumped out at me until I saw they were selling Don Larsen statues. I was interested, but wanted to save my money in case I found the Wow factor (Darrel Sheets representing). My buddy, knowing I collect the Yankees, bought the statue for me.

And it took me a year to post a review. Shame on me.

I had never seen this statue before. I think this was a Brockton Rox SGA. it actually looks like the bronze statues the Yankees gave away a few years back. I don't think the Yankees gave away a Don Larsen statue in that set, so this one is a pretty cool piece to have.

On one side of the box, we get the box score from the Perfect Game from Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.

A little write up about said Perfect Game.

And a write up about the Brockton Rox. The Rox are a summer collegiate team who used to be members of the Cam-Am independent league.

And here's the statue. I am pretty impressed with it. I wasn't expecting much when I opened the box up, but it looks like I could display this with the Yankee statues and it would look like it belongs in the set. The statue also looks like the statue that is currently in the Yankees Museum.

A front view of the statue with the date of the Perfect Game on the front of the base.

A shot of the back of the statue. I just love the detail on this statue. Despite the bronze color, you can clearly see the pinstripes and the number 18 on his back clear as day.

Bottom of the back of the statue with the 1956 World Series, Game 5 inscription in gold paint.

Close up of the statue.

The bottom of the statue with the scoreboard of the game painted on in gold.

I think this a well done statue. I love the detail of it as well as the inscriptions on the base. I wonder why the Yankees didn't give these away. The fans would have loved this instead of the seeds and $2.00 Dunkin Donut cards. But I'm glad I have one and I thank my buddy for picking this up for me. It's a perfect (no pun intended...ok, maybe a little) addition to my Yankees collection and I cannot wait to be able to display it among the other statues, McFarlanes and bobbleheads in my collection.

Now I think I have to start picking up those Yankee statues to go with this Larsen.

Monday, August 4, 2014

(Bleep) Yeah, I Want This

When McFarlane released the Joe Namath figure earlier this year, I was doing back flips...until my back gave out. When I recovered and saw the actual figure we were getting, I was happy, but disappointed at the same time. Only because it was not the pose I thought we should have gotten.

This was the figure we got. A cool figure, yes. But I felt it didn't capture that Namath "essence". This figure looks like it was modeled after an early 70's Namath, when he was always injured. Don't get me wrong. I like this figure. I have been waiting for a Namath McFarlane forever and I finally got one in my Jets collection. Just not the pose I was hoping for. I think that's why this figure is just sitting on pegs in the Toys R Us stores I go to. I think fans agree with me.

Then McFarlane announced a second Namath figure would be released later this year. I guess the last figure sold enough to warrant a second figure being released. Either that or they wanted make sure they milk that Namath license. This time, I hoped we would get the pose I think he should have gotten in his first release. My luck, we would get a Namath Los Angeles Rams figure. Thankfully, a photo was released of the figure we are getting.

Oh Yeaaaaaaah! This is the figure I felt we should have gotten before. I mean, McFarlane released the last one around the Super Bowl because it was being held here in New York/New Jersey. Why not release one of the NFL's most iconic moments in Super Bowl history? Why release a generic pose? I thought releasing this one during the Super Bowl made more sense, but what do I know? I don't work in this toy industry. I'm just a fan who buys the figures.

Still, I'm finally going to have the figure I've been waiting for. It will be displayed in my Jets cabinet...when I get one. Or I could make a Namath shelf. I have a few Namath items already. This would just look great among them. The figure is due to be released in December, so I will be looking for this in my Christmas stocking.

My Jets may not be any closer to contending to a Super Bowl, but at least with this figure, I can be reminded that the Jets have won a Super Bowl in the greatest upset in the history of the game. And the guy who did it, came from Beaver Falls, PA and had an Alabaman drawl. Players have come and go, but people still remember Broadway Joe Namath.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

When Baseball Cards Talked

A few weeks ago, I was in my closet, looking for a couple of things when I came across a box of some old baseball stuff I had as a kid. Among the goodies, I found some old Yankees mugs that were given away during Fan Appreciation Day back in the 1980's (I'll show those off in a future blog post) and a couple of old baseball cards. In the very bottom of the box, I found this envelope

The envelope looked vaguely familiar to me, yet I couldn't place what was inside. Once I pulled out the plastic bag I remembered instantly what they were and how I came about owning these.

These were the Talking Baseball Cards that were put out by Collectors Marketing Corp. They were actually records you played at 33 1/3 that had the calls of some of the greatest moments in baseball history. My mom had gotten these from the Sears Christmas Catalog for me as a Christmas gift in the 80's. I remember when I initially got these I was less than thrilled, but over time I was very thankful I had them because I could listen to the radio calls and learn all about some of the great achievements from some of the biggest names in baseball.

Now, when I was trying to find out the year these came out, 1989 was a year that popped up a lot and I can surely tell you that I did not get these in 1989 as I was a senior in high school and I was listening to CD's of groups like The Beatles, Depeche Mode, The Cure, KISS, Guns N Roses and other bands. I doubt I even owned a record player back then. I'm almost certain I got these in 1982 or 1983.

Among the records I got were:

Even though this happened 11 years before I was born, I barely listened to this recording of Bill Mazeroski walking off the Yankees in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series. Although Roberto Clemente was on that team, I still dislike knowing the Yankees outscored the Pirates in that series and still lost. It cost Casey Stengel his managers job because it was thought that had Whitey Ford pitched in Game 1 he would have pitched game 7 and the Yankees would have won the series. Oh well, I chalk it up as the Pirates revenge for the 1927 World Series when the Murders Row destroyed Pittsburgh. Still, this was a nice moment in baseball history.

Another nice moment in baseball history was the New York Mets having their moment in the sun when they beat the Baltimore Orioles in 5 games to win the World Series in 1969. 1969 was a great year in New York sports. The year started off with the Jets upsetting the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl 3 and the Knicks would win the NBA Championship later on. Now that I think about it, Baltimore had a lousy sports year in 1969. Also, I am pretty sure that picture is not from the 1969 World Series but from after the last out from the 1973 NLCS when Tug McGraw led the "You Gotta Believe" Mets into the World Series.

Here's a recording that I enjoyed listening to. I had always wished I was able to watch this happen live. Unfortunately, I didn't start watching baseball for another 2 years, so at the time, this was all I had to relieve that moment when Hank Aaron broke what was thought to be the unbreakable record and that was Babe Ruth's all time home run record of 714. I still have a great amount of pride when I watch video of the record breaking moment, but I just wish he didn't break the record in such an ugly uniform.

One of the greatest catches in baseball history was captured on vinyl so I could listen to it over and over. I am pretty sure I had seen film of Willie Mays's catch by the time I got this record set. I was a frequent viewer of "This Week In Baseball" and I am certain that they played clips of this catch and other great moments in baseball history. One of the coolest things about this record was I got to hear the term "optical allusion" over and over.

Here's a record that I'm sure my Dodger buddies won't be happy to see (Hey, if I had to listen to Maz's home run over and over, you can deal with this :P). One of the greatest walk off home runs in the history of the game was hit by Bobby Thompson in the deciding game of a 3 game playoff between the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants. We all know the story by now. Ralph Branca came in to pitch to Thompson and Thompson yanked the one out of the park to put the Giants in the 1951 World Series. Of course, there is the controversy that the Giants may have been stealing signs from the Dodgers through a telescope that was positioned in the Giants clubhouse in center field and relayed those messages to the Giants dugout through a buzzer wire. Branca, always never wanted to take away from the significance of the moment, always said that even if Thompson knew what was coming, he still had to hit it. I always though that was classy of Branca and the moment is still a significant one in the annuls of baseball.

Pete Rose, friend to Mets fans everywhere...OK, maybe not after almost killing Bud Harrleson during the 1973 NLCS. On this recording, he sets the National League Hit Streak Record against the Mets at Shea Stadium by hitting in his 44th game in a row off Pat Zachary in the 7th inning. I actually remember watching highlights of this game and seeing what a big deal it was, although I didn't realize it at the time, especially since Joe Dimaggio had the 56 game hitting streak. In my opinion, that record will never be broken. Btw, Pete Rose For The Hall Of Fame!

I just missed seeing this World Series live by one year. From what I heard, I missed a great Series. Although the Reds won the Series in 7 games, Carlton Fisk had his moment in Game 6 when he led off the 12th inning and hit one out. The visual of Fisk willing the ball fair on the first base line is a sight that will be replayed for forever.

Of course, I have my fair share of Yankees in this set:

Don Larsen's Perfect Game in the 1956 World Series. The funny thing was he started game 2 and couldn't get out of the 2nd inning and he didn't think he would get another start in the Series. Well, I guess he made the most of this start.

I remember watching this game with my mom. Reggie Jackson was my mom's favorite player and he made Game 6 of the 1977 World Series a memorable one for us both as we watch Reggie go yard in the 4th, 5th and 8th innings on just 3 swings. The old ballpark in the Bronx was rocking that night as Reggie helped bring the Yankees their first title since 1962. If my love for the Yankees was born the year before, this game cemented the Yankees in my heart for a lifetime.

This one was a particularly sad recording as it's of Babe Ruth's final speech at Yankee Stadium with his throat ravaged with cancer. It was a rough and raw sounding Ruth and it's a sound that I have never forgotten and I'm so glad I still have this record.

Another game I can say I watched. This recording is of the Bucky Dent home run off Mike Torrez in the 1 game playoff that the Yankees won and moved on to the ALCS to play the Kansas City Royals. Now a days, a game like this would have been shown on ESPN, TBS or Fox, but back then it was shown on a Yankees telecast on Channel 11. I actually remember Bill White's call of "Yastremski's not going get to it, it's a Home Run!" Three straight years I was treated to great Yankee moments and I haven't stopped enjoying them since.

Finally, I have the recording of Roger Maris's record breaking 61st Home Run in 1961. After seeing Bily Crystal's wonderful film 61* and reading about the chase between Maris and Mantle for Babe Ruth's single season home run record, with the fans behind Mantle, The Commissioner of Baseball proclaiming any record had to be broken in the same time period that Ruth had since it was an expansion year, and the press hounding Maris, I'm sure it was gratifying for him to have been able to hit that home run. It's another of those moments in baseball history that I wish I could have seen.

I always wished we had gotten records of Jackie Robinson's first game in the majors, Roberto Clemente's 3000th hit,  Lou Gehrig's speech (I don't think a full version of it exists), Joe Dimaggio's 56th hit, Ted Williams final at bat at Fenway, Bob Gibson's 17 strikeout performance in the 1968 World Series. But I am happy that I had these records as a kid. I was able to learn baseball history in my spare time.

Now, these records have been listened to quite a bit, so they are in less than mint condition. I actually doubt I can play these even if I had a record player right now. But they are still very cool pieces to own and I'm really glad I still have these and if I can figure out a way to display them with my collection, I definitely will show them off proudly