Friday, June 28, 2013

Time Flies: One Year in the Books

One year ago today, I began my passage into the world of blogging, introducing myself to anybody who would pay attention by posting a single Will Clark card -- 1988 Topps, No. 350.  Wellp, 252 posts later, I'm still at it. That, despite my most sincere doubts from the onset.  But, I'm happy to report, that I'm still very much enjoying this extension of my hobby, as well as the community of sports card bloggers on the whole.

To mark the occasion of my blog's first anniversary, I felt it was only fitting to post yet another card of The Thrill. This time, perhaps my favorite among all his Topps base cards.  It's been well-stated that I'm an '89 Topps fanatic, and this is one of the true gems of the 792-card set.  I love the silver and black combo used for the team name and ribbon, and how sharp it looks in symphony with the orange accent border.  As for the photo choice, it's classic Clark.  Caught in moment of pensive intensity, his game face appropriately marked with eye black. It's unclear whether he's waiting on deck or in the hole, or perhaps even for a crack at the batting cage.  Not that it matters; Clark approached all facets of the game with the same amount of reverence.  And that's why we, his fans, loved him.


So a year of blogging in the books.  Hard to believe 12 months has passed by so quickly.  It's been a lot of fun blogging, and I've met a lot of cool people via trading.

My longest-enduring trade partner is Marcus, whose All the Way to the Backstop blog really inspired me to get off my duff and give blogging a try.  The way he collects and the fashion in which he writes, I saw a lot of myself in Marcus' style.  And I've been lucky enough to maintain a great trading regiment with him over the course of the past year.  Well, actually, I hesitate to call it trading.  Basically, we just send cards back and forth when the spirit -- and circumstance -- moves us.

These '77 Topps cards are a prime example.  These came from Marucs via a PWE in today's mail.  I recently mentioned that I was in the process of building the '77 set, and Mr. Backstop came through with a few additions.

As most of you know, Marcus is a Padre fan/collector, so it's no coincidence that two of these three cards have a San Diego tie-in.  In this case, his surplus was my gain!  By the way, it's bad enough Mickey Klutts carries around such a last name, but that airbrushed hat is the absolute worst!  In fact, all of these caps look painted. 'Sup with that?

Accompanying these three vintage pieces was some new blood.

If I had to pick a new generation set that might approach my love of '89 Topps, the 2012 Heritage set and it's variation issues might fit that bill.  This is actually a Target-exclusive black-bordered parallel that I already own. BUT, it happens to be a player that I am seriously considering adding to my player collection stable.  Jordan Zimmermann has been an efficiently dominant pitcher this year.  Not flashy in form or gaudy with his strikeout numbers, Jordan just racks up innings and wins, all to the tune of a minuscule ERA.  Anyhow, one Zimmermann for my Heritage binder, and now one for my soon-to-be player collection.

Great cards, Marcus.  Thanks again!

While Marcus is my oldest trading buddy, I recently got an envelope of cards from my newest.  Not too long ago, I contacted Tom O. in Illinois, who writes the very pleasing Waiting 'til Next Year blog, about a Tom Seaver card he posted for trade.  A few emails and some standard postage later, this arrived:

Yep, it's those darn orange "day glow" cards from 2013 Archives again!  The ones that refuse to be properly scanned.  Scanning quandaries aside, I think this is a pretty cool and unique addition to my Tom Terrific collection.

Tom also added this to the package:

Definitely a nice little surprise!  I already have one of these in my Kid Carter collection, but I'm extremely pleased to have another to put towards my Mets/McGraw collection.

Tom's blog is definitely one of my new favorites.  And, I only use the word "new" because I came across it just within the past few weeks.  I have no idea how I had missed it prior to that, but I'm sure glad to have it on my blog list presently.

Thanks for the trade, Tom.  I'll look forward others in the future!

Two envelopes; one from an old pal and one from a new friend.  Not a bad way to celebrate one's blogging anniversary, if I might say so...


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bricks in the Wall

Yesterday I received a PWE from Marcus (All the Way to the Backstop) which contained a couple of 2011 Topps Cognac parallels.  To accompany them a note reading, "Some more bricks in the wall," referring to my leisurely pursuit of collecting the liquor-colored variants.

The use of this phrase is kinda funny in a coincidental kinda way, as I've been watching -- in between Bissell-cleaning months worth of doggy stains from the living room carpet -- a documentary on History 2 this afternoon about the construction and the eventual razing of the Berlin Wall.  I don't want to veer too far from baseball and trading cards, but the segmentation of Germany in this way and the effect it had on so many innocent people is an almost surreal nook of history.  Like something a evil king or ogre would do in a two-bit fairy tale.  I guess what they say is true; truth is often stranger than fiction.

Anyhow, these are a couple of attractive Cognacs to add to the ol' collection.  Thanks for the new 'bricks', Marcus!

If only baseball cards had made their way into the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc in the early '60s...


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

How Ya Like Me Now?

I'm currently in the midst of a week-long staycation, as I "had" to use a bunch of paid vacation days before July 1 or they would go down the drain.  So here I am at Kaz Manor, hangin' out, running errands, Swiffering the floor, unloading the dishwasher, etc.  Oh, and tending to my baseball card collection, of course.  Hey, it is vacation after all; I gotta do something fun!

Anywho, one of the funnest things about the Topps Fan Favorites brand -- which basically includes the SP portion of the current-day Topps Archives checklist -- is comparing and contrasting the new-school cards with their ancestral versions.  At least I think it's fun.

So with gobs of time on hand, I thought it would be neat to take the six short-printed Fan Favorites cards I own from this year's Archives and pit 'em card v. card with the originals to see which is the most visually appealing.

Let's have a go!  (Note: Original versions to the left; Archives Fan Favorites to the right.)

Round 1:  '86 Vince Coleman

Vince Coleman was the embodiment of speed on the baseball diamonds of the National League during the '80s. Thus, any card that captures him in the act of theft, I think that's an extremely good thing.

Verdict:  2013 Archives draws first blood.

Round 2:  '87 Juan Samuel

Hmm, not a whole lot that separates these two.  In the act of swinging; powder-blue uniform; sunny afternoon. Solid contact and a dusty uniform on the original, though, so...

Verdict:  Old School takes this round and is on the board, 1-1.

Round 3:  '89 Howard Johnson

Boy this is a rough one.  On one hand, the original '89 HoJo is one of my favorites for sentimental reasons, as I can vividly recall opening the wax pack that contained this card.  Uh oh...  Fasten your seat belts, I feel a story coming on!  [Ed. Note: Picture it, Monroe Township, NJ, June 1989...]  One of my sister's guy friends had a birthday party during the summer of '89 and everyone who attended got a goodie bag which included a pack of cards.  Well, all the girls and many of the boys felt they were too cool for baseball cards and, therefore, dumped them all unto me.  I was lucky I decided to tag along with my mom when she went pick my sister up from this party, I can tell ya that much.  Anyhow, this card was among many I met that day, and I was a happy lil' husky boy.  Buuuuut, on the other hand, the photo choice on the 2013 effort is just so perfect.

Verdict:  Gotta go with my heart on this one.  Old School takes a 2-1 lead.

Round 4:  '90 Gregg Jefferies

I wonder: Are these two photos part of the same batting sequence?  That would be pretty cool if it were the case. Irrespective of that, the '90 archival version is one of my favorites from that particular set.  Look at the intensity of Gregg's face during that swing!

Verdict:  A no-brainer, 1990.  The Originals are now ahead by two runs!

Round 5:  '92 Darren Daulton

The original '92 is pretty good, but its Archives cousin-from-the-future has a couple things going in its favor. Number 1, it's not a spring training photo and, Number 2, it's a Shea Stadium snapshot.

Verdict:  New School takes it, and now trails by just 1.

Round 6:  '93 Travis Fryman

Neither of these will set the world on fire.  The original Fryman showcases the Detroit third baseman's distinctive crouched batting stance, which works for me.

Verdict:  Give it to the Old School.  Game Over, 4-2!

Okay, so if I was being unbiased, I'd have given the HoJo round to the 2013 version and we'd be deadlocked at three, headed for extra innings.  But it's my blog and I'll be biased if need be.

On the whole, I think Topps did a pretty satisfactory job with their Fan Favorites reprints, keeping the essence of the eras and choosing attractive photos and so forth.  I'll certainly look forward to getting a few more of these and having a few more face-offs before I put 2013 Archives to bed.

You know, in case scrubbing the bathtub or pulling weeds becomes tedious.


Monday, June 24, 2013

More Shopping with a Purpose: SPs

I trust everyone had an enjoyable weekend; I sure did.  Yesterday afternoon, my dad and I took in the Mets/Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park in South Philadelphia.  In between the rain drops, we watched Matt Harvey dominate the Phillies lineup, while the New York bats pounded out a season-high nine extra-base hits, including four by David Wright.  An 8-0 final score made the ride home a pleasant one, heavy I-95 volume and all.

Anyhow, my previous post detailed a bit of the laundry-list kind of mindset I brought to Friday's card show at my local shopping mall.  But, while lists are fine and dandy, you can't always predict what you'll find at a show and how it will shuffle things onto or off your premeditated task list.

For instance, I had no idea I'd come across any 2011 Heritage short prints, but come across them I did.  I found not one, but two copies of the above Mauer SP in a box at my favorite vendor's table (the lady I described in the prior post).  The best part?  Only a nickel per card!  The Mauers were innocently mixed in with the rest of regular '11 Heritage commons.  And so was this one:

And these three:

So for the grand sum of 30 cents, I snagged six short prints!  It's a good thing I still need cards from the 425-card base checklist, otherwise I probably wouldn't have spent the time flipping through the entire row of Heritage commons.  And speaking of the regular checklist, I found eight cards I needed, thus leaving me five cards shy of base-set completion.  To say the least, a very productive stop!

By the way, while the extra Mauer is already earmarked for somebody, the Keppinger (#456) is a double.  So if anyone is trying to knock out the SP list from 2011, give me a shout and I'd be happy to PWE-it your way.

The five-cent Heritage '11 SPs were among my first purchases at the show, and sent me forth with a pretty sunny disposition for the remainder of the show.  In other words, if I didn't find any further super bargains it would be O.K. -- no need to get greedy, after all.

But, then I came across the table of another seller whom I had done business with before.  His table was much more sparse than usual, but what he did bring with him included various plastic snap-tight cases stocked with SPs and parallels from this year's Heritage, Archives and flagship sets.  The sticker on the top of the case containing Heritage SPs read "$1 each".  Bingo!

Most of the really big names were absent, but when you're talking about short prints and the high price tag that most sellers normally attach to them, every name on the checklist is important.  The cheapest I had seen for any 2013 Heritage SPs at any show I'd been to this year was three bucks.  Thus, I was feeling pretty darn good about a buck-a-pop for any short print.  So I went through the stack and yanked the cards my collection lacked, which included the goofy Wade Miley as well as these six:

Seven SPs for seven bucks; I can live with that.  The Chen especially was a nice bargain, since his cards' price tags are normally socked up since this is quasi-Orioles country.

At the same table, another little plastic case that contained 2013 Archives SPs.  The top card showing was Gregg Jefferies:

A lethal combo for me: a player I collect, who happens to be a Met, on a base design that I really dig ('90 Topps).  Sold!  I had been eyeballing this card for the past couple of weeks on eBay but hadn't found a price that I deemed reasonable.  This one -- and all the Archives SPs -- were marked at $2 apiece.  So, I gave in and grabbed this Jefferies as well as another SP from the set that was in the "gotta have it" category:

My heart be still!  The sexiest Topps design ever [Ed. Note: That's just my warped opinion, calm down.] featuring one of my baseball heroes from boyhood.  Freakin' great photo, too!

While the two-dollar-per-card price tag may not have been the best, I felt good about getting these two cards. After all, I rationalized, I made out like a bandit with the Heritage SPs.  Why not pass the savings along, right? Plus, they're kick-ass cards!

Oh, and for any football card collectors out there, the same seller had the Football Archives short prints for a buck-per.  I found the two Buffalo Bills representatives from the stack and took 'em home, as well.

Even if you're not a football collector, I'm sure you can no doubt appreciate the designs on these two.  They are, after all, the same at the baseball releases from the respective years ('92 and '93).

All told, this was another great Concord Mall show.  It's been the most consistently satisfying of all the area shows I've attended since moving to Delaware.  I suppose any time you can knock out some list shopping while finding a nice array of surprises, you've got yourself a good show experience.

Here's hoping all of my fellow collectors and bloggers find the same fortunes in your neck of the woods!


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Shopping with a Purpose

Howdy all!  Been a couple days since my last post.  I've been busy with work (our high school graduated Wednesday evening) plus a slew of yard work and home improvement projects and such.  But, you don't want to be bored by all that, I'm sure.

Amid all the bustle, I found more than enough time to hit the Concord Mall sports card and memorabilia show Friday afternoon.  It's a three-day weekend show that comes around every few months and it has become a calendar-worthy occasion.  Lots of vendors, and usually lots of good vendors, to boot.

Unlike my usual aimless card show excursions, I had a few clear laundry-list goals in mind for this show.  I'd like to share them over the course of this post and perhaps one or two additional.  We'll see how bored I get with the process.

These aren't in any particular order of importance...

A.)  Further my 1977 Topps set building effort.

I have a pretty decent portion of the '77 set in tact thanks to my Uncle Steve (a story I hope to tell very soon). So, I'm going to make a concerted effort to track down at least a few cards at every future show I attend.  The Catfish up top set me back a dollar, while each of the following was just a quarter:

I was especially excited for the Mickey Rivers and J.R. Richard cards; they were my first of each player respectively.  Frank Tanana is also a personal fave, as he and I share a July 3 birthday.  He is card number 200 in the set, as well, I might add.  That was back when those type of card numbers were actually reserved for giants of the game.  And well deserved for Tanana, as he beasted his way to 19 wins and 261 strikeouts over 288 innings in 1976.  The back of the card also points out that he blanked the Yankees for 13 innings in August of that year.  Like I said: Beast.

A pretty great bargain for these cards, considering the overall nice condition they maintain.  In the end, 17 cards from the '77 set for five bucks total is an exchange I will gladly accept!

B.)  Find the final freakin' card to finish off my Topps 2013 S1 set.  

Got it!  This was essentially a free throw-in from the same vendor that sold me the '77s.  Good thing, because I was cranky enough having to look for this stupid thing.

C.)  Score a reasonably priced card of either Matt Harvey or Zack Wheeler or both.

No such luck with the former, but I discovered this 2012 Bowman's Best card of Wheeler for just a quarter. I combined it with these three cards for one of the best dollars spent at the show:

I know they're kinda hokey and lots of bloggers aren't fans, but I'm still liking these Prizm cards.  I will never buy a pack of the stuff for the ridiculous retail price, but any time I can find 'em in bargain boxes, I'm all-in. Especially for three Mets inserts.  It might be my imagination, but these cards seem to weigh more than the regular base.  I mean, it feels like I'm holding a McDonald's hamburger.

D.)  Obtain my first card of Marlins pitching phenom Jose Fernandez.

No dice.  None of the vendors I came across featured any of his cards; some didn't know who he was.  After watching Fernandez spin the Mets -- and a few teams that actually can hit -- in circles this year, I'm on the bandwagon for this young fella.  I'd like to grab a card of two of his before they blow up.  I guess there's always eBay.

E.)  Add some more Mets.

This is always an unspoken priority at any card show, as is adding pieces onto my respective player collections.

The only Huskey I found, but a pretty dandy one!  My favorite seller -- a woman in her late 50s, I'd say -- always has boxes and boxes and boxes of nickel-priced cards.  She had on specifically for junk wax from '91 to '93. [Ed. Note: Joy!!]  So that's where all of these came from.

 The dynamic duo of the '80s Mets.  I love the green (Series 2) Donruss cards from '92.  Is that wrong?

There were LOTS of '91 and '93 TSC to be had.  And I'm not sure what Atlantic Colletor's Edition is.  I've seen these Fleer oddities around before, but this is the first one I've nabbed.

The Kid isn't in his Mets attire in either of these, but I love 'em just the same.  Along with the junk wax box, the lady seller also had a monster box just for year 2011 cards.  I was able to gobble up quite a few handsome GQs that I had never seen before.  I also got busy with 2011 Heritage...but more on that later!

I think I'll throw up the stop sign here and save the rest for next time.  There were some SPectacular finds at this show that deserve their own stage.

Hope you're enjoying your weekends, everybody!


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Have You Met...?

On this very notable pitching day in the history of the New York Mets -- with future aces Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler each starting a game of a day-night doubleheader in Atlanta -- I bring you Masato Yoshii.

Yes, Masato Yoshii.

I haven't done my "Have You Met?" segment in quite some time, so I figured I would celebrate the occasion of Wheeler's MLB debut with a card of a pitcher who has nothing in common with the Georgia native.  What can I say, I enjoy being random.

Yoshii was one of a handful of Japanese imports that found their way onto the Mets roster during the Bobby Valentine era.  He pitched for the Amazins in 1998 and '99, posting a record of 18-16 with a 4.17 ERA over those two seasons.  That includes a 12-8 campaign in '99 when the Mets won the Wild Card.  He appeared in three games in the postseason for New York, but wasn't exactly effective (8 ER allowed in just 13 innings).  All told, he was a respectable hurler during his time in Flushing.

As for the card itself, it's a '98 Fleer Tradition.  A pretty attractive design, both front and back.  The front-side photo is pretty pleasing to the eye.  A well-done Spring Training shot is tough to beat, is it not?

I've only got two cards of Yoshii, and I hope to bump that total to at least five someday.  Hey, for all I know, he may only have five cards to his name.

Yet, it's guys like Masato Yoshii and cards like this one that make card collecting such a neat hobby.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

He Ain't Huskey, He's My Brother

Someone recently asked me what my most obscure player collection was, and the first name that shot to mind was Butch Huskey.  It's not like I have hundreds of his cards or anything; heck I barely have 30..  But, it's not like there are thousands of Butch Huskey cards floating around out there.

No matter the quantity, my little collection of Huskey cards delights me whenever I thumb through it.  And getting a new card to add to the count is undoubtedly a happy occasion.

The above 1992 Classic Best is my newest addition, and it's also just the second card from the '92 baseball card year I have of Butch.  The other is a Bowman base card.  Other than the year they were produced, these two cards have one important thing in common:  They both came from Marcus at All the Way to the Backstop.

Now, Marcus and I have been swapping cardboard for almost a year now -- that's the longest of any blogger/collector I've traded with.  And more often than not, he finds a way to sneak a Huskey card into a trade package.

In other words, Marcus is a tremendous human being!

But, a minor league Butch Huskey card isn't the only thing included in Marcus' recent trade mailer....

Many sound-minded individuals might be downright insulted that I'd opt to put Butch Huskey's card as the header of this post, rather than legendary HOFer Tom Seaver.  Truth be told, Tom Terrific looks pretty peaved himself. But, what can I say?  I really like Butch Huskey.

I really like this '82 Seaver All-Star, as well.  I was just mentioning recently that the number of '82s in my collection was minuscule.  Well, if you're gonna one to help boost your numbers, this is a great one to add!  This one, however, will be going towards my Seaver collection.

Another piece of fresh '80s cardboard also made its way into the package...

A little '83 Kingman action!  Kong's 1982 stat line is one to marvel at:

535 AB
156 SO (league-high)
109 H
37 HR (league-high)

Wrap your mind around all that for a second.  Way more strikeouts than base hits, and more than one-third of his hits left the yard.  Talk about your feast-or-famine hitter!

Some more Mets...

Like cat food and green beans, these cards were once inside a can.  Pinnacle Inside '97 cards came packaged inside of a can because...well...they, uh....because...

These are the four Mets cards from the 1989 Topps M.L. Debut set.  Mind you, this is the same set that featured stars like Junior Griffey, Sammy Sosa, Robin Ventura, and Albert Belle, just to name a few.  The Mets, meanwhile?  Julio Machado and Jeff McKnight, boom!  Well, at least Kevin Tapani is notable not just for making his big-league debut on the Fourth of July, but he was also one of the handful of names shipped to Minnesota in the Frank Viola trade.

A pair of colorful parallels.  The Robles on the left is from this year's Bowman, of course.  Three of these purple-bordered cards are included in each retail rack pack, if I'm not mistaken.  That's how it was last year, anyhow, and I've not purchased any Bowman yet this year.

Sticking with the color-bordered vibe, a couple of parallel-centric set collection needs were addressed though this package, as well...

I can now cross card No. 149 off my Wal-Mart Blue Project checklist.  I'm 73.3% of the way through my mission!

A trio of Cognac parallels also made there way to me.  Former Mets prospect Scott Kazmir headlined the threesome.  I've amassed over 100 of these sparkly alcoholic cards.  By the time I celebrate my 183rd birthday, I anticipate having this set finished!

I'll conclude this entry with a duo of cards from a man who is used to being last, at least in alphabetical terms...

Oh yeah, Todd Zeile was also included in that '89 M.L. Debut set.  He never became a "star" like he was projected to, but he had a really solid big-league career.  And he had a lot of destination stickers on his suitcase, too.  Florida was one of 10 clubs Zeile played for after leaving St. Louis.


Marcus, thank you, as always, for the great cards!  I hope you -- and all the dads out there -- have a very happy and relaxing Father's Day!