Pete Nice

A great, though not new story about Prime Minister Pete Nice and baseball memorabilia

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I was involved in a random Twitter exchange with Jason Collette and Kevin Goldstein from Baseball Prospectus today in which the subject of 3rd Bass came up.  No, not the hot corner, but the hip hop group best known for the single “Pop Goes the Weasel.”  Yeah, that was a long time ago, but neither Jason, Kevin nor I are that young, so it’s OK.

The mention of 3rd Bass reminded me that Pete Nash — more famously known as Prime Minister Pete Nice of 3rd Bass fame and the guy in the middle of the above pic — was a big baseball historian and memorabilia collector.  I couldn’t remember where I heard that but I knew it was the case.  Collette shot me a link to a Sports Illustrated story from a little over a year ago that jogged my memory.  Seems that Nash/Nice was so big a memorabilia collector that it drained his fortune, got him involved in all kinds of litigation and eventually led to a determination that he committed fraud related to phony baseball memorabilia. Fun times.

It’s fascinating stuff, as is the whole memorabilia market, really.  I dabbled it in a bit with baseball cards, which is the far more respectable end of the memorabilia pool.  When you get into old jerseys and letters and equipment and various other sorts of arcana, it gets dicey and seedy pretty fast.  This quote from the article sums up my experiences with it:

For all its many upstanding, passionate collectors, the baseball-memorabilia subculture is also a notoriously seedy shadowland of Mametesque schemers and dreamers, thick with forgeries and thefts, conflicts of interest, dubious “authenticators,” shill bidding, card doctoring and any number of other dubious practices. “The hobby is mostly filled with low-life hucksters, some of whom grow up to own important auction houses,” says a longtime collector of early baseball material. “You can count the number of people who are smart and educated and honest on one hand.”

I’ve mentioned that client I used to have who was a rare coin dealer and who got thrown in jail for 20 years over a $50 million fraud?  Well, he dabbled in the memorabilia business too. He told me once that he never got into it too seriously, however, because it was “too damn crooked.”  Really.

Anyway, if you like old baseball memorabilia or if you simply like 3rd Bass, it’s a good read.

Yordano Ventura killed in an auto accident

CLEVELAND, OH -  JUNE 2:  Starting pitcher Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals jokes with teammates as he walks off the field after the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on June 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Terrible, terrible news: Christian Moreno of ESPN reports that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has been killed in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic. His death has been confirmed by police. He was only 25 years-old. There are as of yet no details about the accident.

Ventura was a four-year veteran, having debuted in 2013 but truly bursting onto the scene for the Royals in 2014. That year he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings, ascending to the national stage along with the entire Royals team with some key performances in that year’s ALDS and World Series. The following year Ventura won 13 games for the World Champion Royals and again appeared in the playoffs and World Series.

Ventura was often in the middle of controversy — he found himself in several controversies arising out of his habit of hitting and brushing back hitters — but he was an undeniably electric young talent who was poised to anchor the Royals rotation for years to come. His loss, like that of Jose Fernandez just this past September, is incalculable to both his team, his fans and to Major League Baseball as a whole.

Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, his teammates and his fans.

Report: Tim Lincecum is not ready for retirement

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 29:  Tim Lincecum #55 of the Los Angeles Angels during the second inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 29, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
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Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).

Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.

While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.