Friday, May 31, 2013

No Archives, No Problem

My wife is a saint.  I dragged her along to two different Wal-Marts and a Target looking for a damn blaster of 2013 Heritage this evening.  Naturally -- unbelievably -- I came up empty.  Three strikes and yer out, I guess, right?  I was not a happy camper to say the least.

But, what can you do?  Either sulk all night or pick yourself off the mat and blog about the stuff ya already got. Lord knows there is plenty of it that has gone horribly neglected.  So, I chose the latter route.

At a recent card show I snagged the 1991 Fleer Update box set for a cool two bucks.  Some might say I paid $1.75 too much, but I admit I'm a weirdo because I happen to like '91 Fleer.  Plus, there are plenty of cool players in this set that made me want to own it.

Take Mr. Belle above.  He wasn't featured in the regular Fleer base set, but here he is in the Update offering. This happens to be Belle's first Fleer card in which he's 'Albert' instead of 'Joey' (as he was in '89 Update and the '90 base set).  This card was actually a pleasant surprise to me, as I wasn't even aware the fearsome slugger was included in this set.

As for the rest of the best, I split the cards into two categories: rookies and veterans with new clubs.  Let's take a gander at the five best -- in my opinion, at least -- from each faction.

Rookies first...

Perhaps the most important card from this set?  You certainly wouldn't be called out for thinking so.  Bagwell hacks away at Shea Stadium here.

If you don't think Bags is the keystone card of the lot, then most likely you're casting your vote for this Pudge Rodriguez rookie.  Again, nobody's coming to flog you for believing such.

Quite a few of the cards in my box were miscut, condemning them to a life of off-balance vertical centering. Such was life in the junk wax era.  Fitting, then, that the photo Fleer chose for big Mo's card is, well, kinda off-center.'s got personality, and I like that.

Unlike Topps, Donruss and Score, Fleer didn't include Bernie Baseball in their flagship set in 1990, thus this is Williams' Fleer rookie.

Knoblauch's rookies were a pretty big deal at the time.  And, in fairness, the guy carved out a pretty nice career for himself.  Unfortunately, many will only recall his time as a Yankee when he developed "issues" throwing the ball to first base.

Okay, how about the vets?

Would there be any doubt that Straw would find his way into my top five of familiar faces in new places?  Darryl's regular '91 Fleer card shows the lanky slugger in the midst of the Home Run Derby at Wrigley Field.  It's one of my favorite Strawberry cards from his entire catalog.  This one isn't exactly ugly either, though the uniform is slightly less attractive.

Mickey in action, sporting the brightly-colored catching gear of the Detroit Tigers.  Big fan of this card.

A nice big photo of Robbie Alomar here.  Though, it makes it seem like Alomar is scrunching himself up in an attempt to fit into the wild yellow frame.

Just a wonderfully framed photo of the former MVP.  It would take a particularly concentrated effort to create an ugly baseball card when you're snapping pictures of a Cubbie on a sunny day at the Friendly Confines.

I've now showed 11 cards and this is the first pitcher.  And it's miscut, to boot.  No matter, World Series hero Jack Morris looks to be in fine form here.  You can miscut his cards, but you can't stop the man!

Wellp, it's not exactly the exciting 2013 Archives post I was hoping to write on this Friday night, but the failure of multiple retailers in New Castle County at least granted me the opening to flaunt these retina-burning beauties.

However, I may not be as forgiving if I don't see a blaster box of the new stuff on my next sojourn!


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Archives Ahoy!

When I was at my local card shop -- The Collector's Box in Newark, Del. -- last week, I found a stack of promotional post cards near the register.   Their purpose: to herald the coming of 2013 Archives, along with some hobby-exclusive bells and whistles.

Can we please retire the "mom threw out my cards" schtick?  

Maybe your dad is Luke Perry?  

I didn't have a chance to swing by the store today to investigate these 25-cent packs (that's on the agenda for Thursday), but it's clearly worth a look.

As for the "Week 2" festivities, all I can say is, Damn we've all gotten old!  Are we really talking about "dad's old cards from the '80s" here?  The '80s!?  Shoot, how old is dad?  Anyhow, if a stack of '88 Topps will get me a new pack of cards with a "unique" parallel and a possible autograph, then count me in!

As for this year's Archives product...  Count me among those who thought the new cards were hitting shelves on the 29th.  However, I see the release date is actually this Friday, the 31st.  Kinda strange, no?  Wednesdays are usually new card days for Topps, or so I thought.  Anyhow, I'm starting to get excited for this set, especially since a quarter of the 200-card set features the 1990 base card design.  [Ed. Note: No, that isn't a tongue-in-cheek comment, actually.]

I'm absolutely looking forward to the weekend when bloggers from coast to coast will be posting the results of blaster breaks and pack rips, etc.  Always an exciting time!  I hope to find myself a blaster box to enjoy and share on the ol' blog, as well.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Box Bottom Bummer

I've mentioned before that 1989 Topps is my all-time favorite Topps set.  I was born in 1980, so I wasn't exactly privy to all the classic set designs of yesteryear.  And while '89 Topps is but a banal blip on the radar for many long-time collectors, for me it's as beautiful as can be.  When I look at a given card from the '89 set it brings all those warm fuzzy feelings of boyhood rushing back.  You know, the kind of sensations and memories that you gather as a nine year old and never quite let go of.

So why am I spewing forth all this mush?  Well, my recent eBay explorations brought me upon an auction for a complete 16-card collection of hand-cut box bottoms from '89 Topps wax boxes.  I bid and I won (.99, not counting shipping) and I celebrated.  After all, a chance to get all these things at one time doesn't come around too often.  And by the look of the photo, all 16 cards seemed to be in pretty decent shape.

My beloved '89 Topps design with 16 all-new (to me) photos.  Can you beat that?

I've been (im)patiently waiting for the package bearing the cards to arrive for over a week and, finally, it showed up with today's mail.  I resisted the urge to rip open the bubble mailer immediately; I wanted to savor the moment for a while more.  Plus, well, I'm something of a pessimist and I fully expected to be disappointed in the condition of the cards or the shoddy fashion in which they were cut.  After all, you can only judge so much from a digital photo posted on eBay.

Well, I had some dinner this evening and, thereafter, finally sat down to open the mailer and reveal my prize. Upon first inspection I was pretty relieved and impressed at once.  The cards appear to have been neatly cut with one of those big straight-edge paper cutters.  They weren't perfect, but they were as good as you can get without going into Adrian Monk-mode.  Condition wise, the surfaces were barely -- if at all-- corroded or stained or crusted.  And only one of the cards had a wrinkle, and a minor one at that.

A happy man was made, hooray!

Having counted off 16 cards, my next move was to put the buggers in sequential order.  Rather than a number, each card gets a letter designation from A to P.

I found card A, the George Brett beauty at the top of the post.  My unquestioned favorite of the group.

Card B was there, too, Bill Buckner (the card that unfortunately has a minor wrinkle near the bottom).

And then we have Darrell Evans, card C.

Wait, I see two card Cs.

Oh Lord, here we go.  Okay, don't panic, you got duplicates of Darrell Evans.  So what?  Just relax.

But, wait, I already counted 16 cards, which means...

Damn it.

Someone was missing, but who?  I quickly referred to the eBay listing, which had a broad photo of all 16 cards. In the photo there was but one Evans card.  So, I reshuffled through the cards while referring to the online photo, finally coming about my answer.

Michael Jack Schmidt.  M.I.A.  Card L.  L for "lost" I suppose.


So, I contacted the seller a little while ago with an email and opened a case via eBay services.  We'll see what happens.  I guess the worst case scenario is I find a copy of the Schmidt elsewhere on eBay and overpay to obtain it and complete the set.  [Ed. Note: Yuck.]

Anyways, I'll post an update when one becomes available.


Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day

This is another card I picked up from my local hobby shop the other day.  I felt that it was an appropriately patriotic card to post for this special observance in our country.

Today, many of us will watch baseball games and/or possibly attend a cookout.  But let's not forget the reason for this holiday: honoring the service and sacrifice of generations of brave American men and women.  Without them, this great country of ours wouldn't be what it is today.

So, a very humble thank you to all our servicemen and women past and present.  We owe you much.

Happy Memorial Day!


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Local Card Shop Legends

I went to my local card shop on Friday to pick up some penny sleeves (I swear, it was just for penny sleeves!). Buuut, since I hadn't been to the place in quite some time, I figured I ought to comb over the 50-cent bin.  Half a buck isn't the best deal known to man for most cards, but every once in a while I find cards in there that I'd pay quite a bit more for.

The above Carlton Fisk sparkly SP is a prime example.  I nearly yelped with joy when I found this thing. Understand, I have long been pining for this card in one of its forms -- regular stock, silver sparkle or cognac. I've almost pulled the trigger for it on COMC on various occasions.  And now I don't have to!

Is that not one of the best photos ever used on a baseball card?  As equally artistic as it is historic, I think you'd probably have to choose this image from the '75 World Series if you could only choose one moment to memorialized Pudge's HOF career.

I'm just thrilled to add this Fisk card to my collection!

I'm also thrilled to add this Tom Seaver...

Another short-printed sparkly!  Finding cards like this totally make the hunt through a half-buck box totally worth it.  Tom Terrific will always be first and foremost a Metropolitan, but it's cool to see him in a Sox uni from time to time.  These are some of ugliest uniforms from a decade populated with atrocious fashion.  But, if anyone can make it look kinda bad (bad, as in good, like the kids used to say), it's George Thomas Seaver.

A touch of silver now leads us to taste of cognac...

I'm really surprised the card shop guys didn't pluck these SPs and put 'em inside the glass cases with an inflated price tag.  Hey, I'm not complaining, but it's curious.  Especially considering this is the same store where they try to hawk a 2013 Topps Ryan Howard base card for a buck-fifty.  Instead, little treasures like this Mel Ott lay side-by-side with a 2011 Topps gold card of Pedro Beato and a "Cards Your Mom Threw Out" issue of Evan Longoria.  Like I said, I'm not complaining!

And one more cognac Diamond Anniversary legend.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't basically turn the box upside down looking for another silver or cognac HOFer, but settling for four isn't a bad day's work.  I absolutely love this photo Topps selected for the Duke of Flatbush.  I really hope Topps continues to produce these legend variation cards.  I know they did it last year, but I'm not sure if it carried over for this year.  Anyone know?

I also found some of the Archives reprints from the 2012 Archives set.  I wanted to grab 'em all (there were about six), but I settled on the Snider.  [Ed. Note: Two Dukes is better than one, right?]  Maybe my next trip will produce another one or two of these reprints.

Nick of Dime Boxes fame likes to refer to cards of this ilk as "sunset" issues, and I kinda like that term.  My favorite pitcher of my lifetime is Pedro Martinez, and finding a gold parallel of his sunset card is a pretty special occasion.

While Jay Bell isn't exactly on the same pedestal as Pedro Martinez, he's still a player I've always admired.  And I was very happy when he became a Met, even though he didn't have much left in the tank by that point. Regardless, I'm a collector of his cards and have long sought a copy of his 2003 Traded sunset card.  It's also one of the only cards (the only?) to feature Bell in a Mets uniform.  Well, in this instance, I had to "settle" for the gold variation.  A pretty good concession, I think.

Back to the cognac for a second, and a pretty nice rookie card to have of Paul Goldschmidt.  Not to mention a great addition to my cognac collection.

Finally, a card that's probably not worth a 50-cent price tag, but it's one of my favorite action shots from this year's Topps set.  So...

Ya know, you can barely find a can of soda for 50-cents anymore, so I'm not gonna feel bad about giving into my urge to snag this emerald variant.  Moustakas is having a pretty wretched year, but at least his ballcard is pretty.

All in all, one of the more satisfying trips to my local hobby shop.  And, yes, I even remembered to buy those gosh-darn penny sleeves!


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Cards from the Northwest

Hopefully this card of the oh-so-likable Alex Rodriguez hasn't scared anyone off, because this post is dedicated to cards I recently received in the mail from Kerry in Portland, Or. -- the Cards on Cards founder and COO.  Kerry is a quality individual and I wouldn't want to detract from the spirit of the gesture.

Besides, this is an outrageously cool Turkey Red card of the controversial slugger.  You'd have to be wearing an A-Rod hatin' hat the size of Oklahoma to not acknowledge that.

And, while I've got you softened up a bit...

His face is a little, um, squishy in this rendering, but ultimately this is a pretty nice little sketch commemorating Alex's 600th home run.

Okay, for the faint of heart, you can uncover your eyes as the A-Rod portion of the post has come to a conclusion.  But, admit it, it wasn't so bad after all, was it?

According to certain medical journals, the best way to wash away the aftertaste of exposure to Alex Rodriguez cardboard is a dosage of awesome throwback uniforms.  So I've heard anyway.  This card from 2007 UD Series 2 shows Carlos Beltran wearing the uniform of the 1986 World Champions, replete with the 25th anniversary patch on the left sleeve.

UD Timeline is a very confusing brand for me, especially since I didn't buy packs of the stuff when it was newly on shelves.  My only exposure to it nowadays is via trades as well as rummaging through discount boxes.  So, forgive me if I'm uncertain if this Reyes is a base card or a subset issue.  I guess it doesn't matter, it's a cool card.  The Wright, meanwhile, is one of David's best Topps base cards ever.  Possibly only his 2010 is better.

A couple of Mets before they became Mets.  Great photo of Carlos Delgado; latter day Topps needs to feature more of these type of shots.  Fleer Ultra from the '00s all kinda look the same to me.  That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I'd be taking a total shot in the dark if asked to name the year just by looking at a random Ultra card from the last decade.

Speaking of Fleer, this Piazza is from a set I have never seen before.  2004 Fleer Legacy.  Pretty snazzy if you ask me.

Another specimen from 2007 Upper Deck.  I absolutely love the photo used here of the great Vlad Guerrero. Umpire, catcher, outfield fence, bat about to smack the ball.  All the ingredients for a deliciously composed card.

My favorite Stadium Club design, 1997, featuring The Kid.  I've got this for my '97 set checklist already, but this will be a fine addition to my Junior collection.  And here's another sample from the UD Timeline catalog. This looks like a base card to me, so that's what we'll go with.  If it ain't, then I give up!

By the way, this Felix Hernandez SP was the thing that started the whole exchange between Kerry and me.  I've now got 32 of the 75 short prints from this year's Heritage product.  Not bad for progress, as we've only just reached Memorial Day weekend and the entire summer is before us.

Ah, and I nearly forgot...

A splendid handful of Boston Celtics cards!  As you may or may not know, in addition to my love of all things baseball cards, I also collect cards of the Celtics as well as the Buffalo Bills.  Of course, baseball cards are my number one love, but I still have lots of room in my card-collecting heart for basketball and football.

Thanks for all the great loot, Kerry!


Friday, May 24, 2013

The Parallel Parade

My eBay voyeurism of late had me looking for the three shades of parallels from 2013 Heritage -- my favorite Topps product of the day.  I've been pretty candid about my appreciation for the black-bordered cards that are found three-per-pack in the Target blister packs.  However, I'm also fond of the blue and red-bordered specials that Wal-Mart and Target feature, respectively.  But, at just one parallel per blaster, the red and blues aren't as easy to muster.

And that's why we have eBay, amiright?

For less than a buck per card, I found a nine-card lot of the Wal-Mart parallels.  Mr. Verlander was one of the inclusions, but here's a look at the entire haul:

Only the Pedroia is a duplicate, and I can live with that since it's already earmarked for another blogger.

As with the black-bordered cards, I'd like to construct a page or two of just these blue cards for my upcoming 2013 Heritage binder.  The cards above plus the three I already owned means I have 11 unique Wal-Mart parallels out of the 25-card checklist.  Which also means I'm shy seven cards for two full pages.  Ugh.  Either that or I just settle for one complete page, shuffling a couple of these directly to my player collection box.  But what fun is that, I ask?

Hey, if you have any spare color-bordered parallels from '13 Heritage cluttering up your space, give me a shout and we'll work out a deal!  Take a look at my updated "Wanted" page to see what I've already got and what I need.

Thanks for checking in!


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Oddballs are People, Too: Baltimore's Bazooka Shining Stars

I've caught the eBay bug recently, scouring the world's favorite online auction site in an attempt to fatten up certain areas of the ol' collection.  Among those areas are oddball sets from the late '80s and early '90s.  I guess unearthing my oddball collection recently and starting up this spotlight feature kinda re-ignited my longing for all cardboard odd and hokey.

The 1990 Bazooka "Shining Star" set consists of 22 cards, split into very distinct factions.  The first nine cards of the checklist feature a who's who from the 1989 season, including both league's MVPs, Cy Young winners, batting champs, home run kings, and stolen bases leaders.  [Ed. Note:  Kevin Mitchell was both NL MVP and the league home run champ, thus the odd number of cards.]  The latter 13 cards are dedicated to the game's up-and-comers.  Ten of those slots belong to the Topps All-Star Rookie crop (aka the Rookie Cup cards) from the '90 Topps flagship set.  Included in that mix is Baltimore's Craig Worthington who, as you can read above, was Topps' choice among third basemen.

Two of the three remaining cards are Baltimore Orioles, meaning three cards among the 22-card set are Birds.  [Ed. Note: For those wondering, the non-Oriole of the trio is Todd Zeile, who had a "Future Star" card in the '90 Topps set.]  No other team was represented by more than two cards.

Ben McDonald was the top overall selection of the '89 amateur draft and, fittingly, had a Draft Pick card in the '90 flagship set.  He had a quick taste of minor league ball before hustling his was to Baltimore by season's end in 1989.  If you collected cards around this time, you remember how much fanfare surrounded McDonald and his cards.

Likewise, Gregg Olson was a pretty hot commodity in 'nem days.  His 27 saves during the '89 campaign set a new benchmark for rookie closers.  He not only snagged AL ROY honors, but even finished fourth in Cy Young voting.

Boy, at the time, if you were a fan of the O's you had to be loving life.  Not only did your club already have one of the elite performers in baseball -- you may have heard of Cal Ripken? -- but they had a good-looking young third-bagger plus a duo of pitchers who projected to dominate the start and finish of ballgames for many years.

However, life is never that easy, is it?  Though Olson ran off a string of quality seasons as Baltimore's closer, McDonald won but 78 games over a nine-year career in the majors and Worthington fizzled in a big way after a 15-homer performance in '89 (he only had 16 more homers for the duration of this big-league time).

Okay, so maybe these three didn't produce greatness for the denizens of the Old Line State, but they sure gave us collectors something to buzz about.  And even all these years later, it's fun to think back on this period, especially for someone like me, who was a lad just 10 years old.  The baseball card mags and assorted publications of the time showcased these guys, the pitchers especially, like crazy, so I couldn't help but lust for as many of their cards as possible.

And ya know what?  I still get excited about seeing a Ben McDonald card from 1990 because, somewhere deep down, the 10-year-old me is still at the controls.  And he's still hoping that Big Ben delivers the goods thus paving the way for my untold fortunes when his baseball cards skyrocket in price and rarity.  [Ed. Note: Phooey to reality!]

I like this Bazooka set a lot, and I was really happy to snag it for $1.99, plus a couple bucks for shipping.  The memories alone are worth the price.  Plus, I am devoutly partial to cards and card sets from 1989 or '90.  What can I say; baseball cards impacted my life like religion when I was nine.

I'll likely show off a few more of the cards from this set in the near future.  It's a neat player list with some pleasing Topps photography.  Not too shabby for a series that was issued one-card-per-box of Bazooka gum.

An understatement to say this is a satisfactory edition to my oddball vault.  Orioles fan or not...


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Kindness of Strangers

A fella by the name of Scott who resides in Austin, Tx. contacted me via email last week or so and mentioned he had some contributions towards my listed player collections.  Never one to turn my nose up at a friendly stranger looking to send me cards through the mail, I went about exchanging emails and, eventually, addresses with him. And over the weekend, voila, a yellow mailer arrived carrying my loot.

So let's get to it, shall we?  Highlights of the trade package in three, two, one...

The card given cover star status for this post -- a 1997 Fleer Todd Hundley "Golden Memories" insert -- is particularly special because it captures a historic moment for Hundley and the Mets from the '96 season.  That is Hundley's record-breaking 41st home run of the campaign, surpassing Roy Campanella's mark for round-trippers by a catcher in a single season.  I still remember it like it was yesterday.

Next up is a most-excellent Doc Gooden insert from '92 Fleer.  I've seen plenty of Gooden cards over the course of time, but this is one I can honestly say I've never seen before.  And, quite simply, it is brilliant.  I love the black border, the layout, and, naturally, the photo of Dr. K ready to fire home.

I don't know Scott from Adam, but he certainly knows of my card crush for Butch Huskey.  Perhaps I have mentioned that on an occasion or two during my blogging residency.  Who knows.  Anyhow, owning a copy of big Butch's silver signature parallel from '94 Collector's Choice makes me downright giddy.

Love him as I do, Huskey's career never unfurled into stardom.  The same is true of one-time super-prospects Paul Wilson and Alex Ochoa.  Still, the two cards above represent a time period that was downright exciting for Mets fans and Mets collectors alike.  Full of hope and peel-away protective coatings. So what, it never produced much in the way of serious contention; at least we got some pretty cool cards as a result.

These two guys were essentially run out of Flushing by the fans, the media, the clubhouse veterans or some combination of the three.  Both went onto satisfying careers elsewhere, Kent especially.  I like the "Team 2000" Pinnacle cards.  Looking at them now it's kinda funny to see how many (or few) of the guys chosen by the best brains in the Score situation room circa 1992 actually were relevant -- much less still playing -- by the year 2000. But, hey, far be it from me to condemn a company for some forward thinking in an attempt to make a cool insert set.

I've come across some of the most amazing Manny Ramirez cards in existence over the past few months thanks to through-the-mail trades.  The 2008 Stadium Club and '08 Upper Deck issues spring to mind.  This one, from 1995 Score, deserves to take it's place among those great ones.  Score really featured some tremendous photography during this era, did they not?

Along with Manny, these two guys had some very prodigious statistical seasons by the Lake.  Albert Belle sends one into orbit, while Carlos Baerga readies himself in the on-deck circle.  I swear, I think I discover a new Pacific set every time I get a trade package or attend a card show.  It's astonishing!

Here is a pair of rookie cards featuring two of the greatest run producers the Dominican Republic has ever produced.  I may be wrong, but I think Pinnacle Inside were the cards that came packaged inside of a can.  Right or wrong?  As for the Sosa, I was kinda surprised that I didn't already have this one.  But I'm glad I have it now!

Remember when the Mariners roster featured the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey, Jr., Edgar Martinez and Randy Johnson?  Me neither.  Okay, well, I do actually, but that might as well have been 100 years ago.  Ya know, I bought a lot of those '92 Score 100-card hanger packs and I never once landed this Griffey.  Well, it took me 20-plus years to finally get it, but the best things in life are worth waiting for I suppose.

Hey man, these Olerud cards are Classic, eh?  No, really.  Classic.  I think in a previous post I expressed my new-found appreciation for Classic brand.  Nothing about this pair of Oleruds does anything to alter that.  The dugout shot with the satin jacket is the true winner here.

A good way to conclude any trade post is with a card or two of the greatest offensive catcher in baseball history. Mission accomplished.  By the way, what do we have to do to get Topps to resurrect some of their now-defunct "fun" brands like Bazooka or Total?  Topps, keep your Opening Day and give us one or both of those instead.  Thank you.

A truly great group of cards towards my ever-growing collection.  Thanks for cards, Scott!