Sunday, January 27, 2013

2012 Topps Repack Box Fit for a Fashionable Lady

On Friday, I found that 2012 Topps Series 2 packs were on sale for a dollar each and seeing a good sale, I couldn't pass on such a deal and have ten in my possession.  Of course, since they are unopened, there is not much to say so far.

Of course, a few weeks ago, I purchased one of those delightful 2012 Topps repack boxes, where they promise you $35 dollars worth of value for only $20.  Inside were the standard 11 packs, 2 Topps Chrome, 3 Bowman Platinum and 6 Topps Allen and Ginter packs.  On the whole, this was much better than the last repack box, as there were no creased cards, no 1988 Score and cards worth scanning.  OK, I only scanned cards from the first set of packs that I opened, but seriously, they were worth scanning.  I might just reveal the whole box below, as which point you will know what case hit I pulled.  Yes, there was a case hit in one of these re-pack boxes.  

Without further ado:

Pack 1  - 2012 Topps Chrome

33 - Tommy Hanson
39 - Jacob Turner
51 - Torii Hunter
103 - Cliff Lee

Topps Chrome was the disappointment of the box, though I was not surprised, since Topps Chrome always disappoints as the cards always bend and never take into account they are replacing the white on the card with some type of silver.

Pack 2 - 2012 Topps Allen and Ginter

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58 - Ryan Braun
164 - Ike Davis
233 - Shawn Marcum
WIN 43 - Justin Verlander
Deputy Danny Young
Mini 3 - Miguel Cabrera (A&G Back)

The cards don't come out of the pack in this order, but I have a strong need to organize and sort things.  Knowing nothing about Allen and Ginter, I scanned the back of the card, failing to realize this was the standard back.  I suspected there were statistic backs or backs that matched the original, but I have since been disabused of this notion.  And honestly, the back of the card is equally exciting in this case.

Pack 3 - 2012 Bowman Platinum

2 - Joe Mauer
3 - Liam Hendriks
18 - Tommy Hanson
BPP-9 - Travis D'Arnaud

Let's just say we will see versions of at least two of these cards again in the box.  Even in a repack box, Topps manages to get the collation wrong.

Pack 4 - 2012 Topps Allen and Ginter

27 - Ricky Nolasco
37 - James McDonald
114 - Johan Santana
BH-20 - Jose Bautista
WIN 73 - Ryan Zimmerman
Mini 274 - Derek Jeter

Nothing says difficult to complete set like getting three base cards in a pack of six cards.  Nothing.  I probably should have scanned the Batista or the Jeter, but I didn't, so you can use your imagination.

Pack 5 - 2012 Topps Allen and Ginter

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8 - Mitch Moreland
85 - Curly Neal
148 - Carlos Gonzalez
252 - Tsuyoshi Wada
306 - Ryan Howard
Mini ML18 - William Wallace

I thought the Wallace card was interesting and there was still room on the scanner.  There was a shortprint in the pack as well, making it feel more special than it is.  It also contains the first card I would definitely keep, which is the Curly Neal, since anytime you can get a sportscard of someone on the New Scooby-Doo Movies, you have to keep it.  

Pack 6 - 2012 Topps Chrome  

16 - Jose Valverde
29 - Carl Crawford
61 - Eric Hosmer
138 - Ryan Vogelsong

This pack made me long for the first pack of Topps Chrome and is really the worst of the box.

Pack 7 - 2012 Topps Allen and Ginter

25 Shin Soo Choo
183 Jackie Joyner Kearse
203 Ian Kinsler
HTP 9 - Discovery of the New World
WIN 66 - Sparky Anderson
MINI 77 - Chris Young

Three base cards, a card that is factually dubious as best, a mini and a What's in a Name card.  I really hate the What's in a Name cards.  They exist only to force you to buy more cards to try and complete a set.

Pack 8 - 2012 Bowman Platinum

16 - Mike Trout
91 - Cliff Lee
BPP 44 - Noah Syndergaard
TP-TS - Tyler Skaggs

I really should've scanned the Trout or the Skaggs.  And if you are interested in players traded for R.A. Dickey on Bowman Platinum prospect cards, this was the repack for you.

Pack 9 - 2012 Topps Allen and Ginter

52 - Cameron Maybin
76 - Michael Bourn
181 - Joe DiMaggio
217 - Brian Wilson
320 - Jonathan Papelbon
Mini MM14 - Igor Stravinsky

Four cards for the set, five with a shortprint.  Topps was falling down on the QC job in this pack.  Plus an interesting mini.  Thinking about this, with all of the minis, they must be very limited even with a regular back and a pain to put a set together of.  Saying this, I realize that I started a 2010 Topps T206 Mini set, but at least there weren't additional cards stealing slots.

Pack 10 - 2012 Bowman Platinum

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3 - Liam Hendriks
9 - Yu Darvish
48 - Kirk Nieuwehhuis
BPP 9 - Travis D'Arnaud X-Fractor

Two scans!  And this isn't the best pack in the box.  Though it was nice to pull a Yu Darvish and D'Arnuad is a X-Fractor.  Of course, I had to research on the internet what I pulled to find out it was some kind of box hit.  So, I have the regular and the X-Fractor, along with the Syndergaard, which means I too can trade for R.A. Dickey to pitch for my softball team next year, except for the lack of a softball team and the money to pay his contract issues.

Plus, there is a second Liam Hendriks for good measure.  Of course, since this was the first time I heard of him, I found it hard to understand why he had a card in this set, but you let those things go after a while.  

Pack 11 - 2012 Topps Allen and Ginter

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7 - Mickey Mantle
109 - Tim Lincecum
136 - Jacoby Ellsbury
181 - Freddie Freeman
334 - Adrian Beltre
Mini FL9 - Fashionable Ladies The Ingenue

Look, it's Mantle as number 7.  And five base cards with a short print.  And then I looked at the mini.  And I looked at the package and I looked at the mini again and couldn't find it on the list of inserts with pull rates.  I ran a quick search on eBay from my mobile phone and only found three for sale, which indicated they might be quite rare.

Further research led me to believe that I pulled a case hit, as they were distributed one per case.  Quite impressive for a bunch of packs likely pawed over and sorted through prior to repackaging.  On the whole, this was a much better experience than the last repack box and if I was more interested in 2012 Topps products, I would heartily recommend this to other purchasers, since I don't, I would not purchase any more, since aside from the Curly Neal, there is nothing else that I am wedded to keeping.  

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Penguins Gold, My Hockey White Whale

In The Game makes some of the best hockey cards I've ever seen.  I think Decades 80s is probably my favorite set, as the players are those I grew up with, though if they ever make a Decades 90s product, I will probably be the moron thinking, "Should I pre-order a case?" Though, I think I would only do that if In The Game ever makes a Premier League product.  I would probably just pre-order a box and set up a number of ridiculous searches on eBay to find everything I want, like ITG Decades Zubov or ITG Decades Murphy.

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Going back to ITG Decades 80s, about five months ago, I purchased a box, highlighted by the Rod Langaway Number card, limited to six.  Until about 10 minutes ago, I was unaware that Langaway was a two-time Norris Trophy winner.  The card is quite cool, but I'm fairly certain, were I to pick a number card from someone in the set, I doubt Langaway would've made my top 40.

The best cards in my mind are the quad patch cards organized by year or team.  Some of the year cards were interesting, especially those with Paul Coffey, but the Penguins fan in me gravitated toward the Penguins quad.  If I could own a card with Mario Lemieux, Paul Coffey, Tom Barrasso and Ron Francis memorabilia on the same card, that would be the greatest card ever made.  (If they substituted Larry Murphy on the card, I wouldn't protest either.)  ITG came awfully close, making a Lemieux, Coffey, Barrasso and Randy Carlyle card.

The real question for me was, "Who is Randy Carlyle?", as I had never heard of him before.  A little research on the internet shows he spent most of the 1980s with the Winnipeg Jets, but in 1981 was the only Penguin to ever win the Norris Trophy with an 83 point season.  He was also indirectly traded for Tom Barrasso, as he was sent to Winnipeg for a draft choice that became Doug Bodger, who was the main piece used to land Tom Barrasso. 

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Plus, he is the guy who has the small piece of stick on the above card.  It is the gold version and one of only two that I've ever seen for sale.  This one was at auction, so the price ended up being right on the card, since my tolerance for what I would spend on a hockey card is significantly less than what I would spend on a baseball card, though I would spend more on a modern hockey card than a modern baseball card.  All sorts of crazy priorities.  I also like the different sweater colors found on the card as it provides a nice contrast. 

With this card in hand, I can safely avoid searching for hockey cards for quite some time, since it is very unlikely that I would find a card which

Gold Bordered Cobb or How I Decided to Start a T205 Set

After finishing up my T206 set, I was adrift in what I wanted to collect.  I picked up a 1973 Topps Schmidt to force me to finish that set, but I haven't even looked for another 1973 Topps card since then.  I picked up a few hockey cards, but after winning my white whale a few weeks ago, I haven't seen anything else that I really want to add to my collection either. 

However, I was on a message board last week, when someone was unfortunately asking for opinions about which of the few cards he had left should he sell.  On one side was an Old Judge Buck Ewing, while on the other side was a 1938 Joe DiMaggio card and a T205 Ty Cobb.  In opposition to my usual temperament, I shot of a quick E-Mail indicating that if he decided to sell the Cobb, let me know as I would be interested. 

So, a few days and about 20 PMs pass back and forth and my singular offer on the card is best in class.  So, I make payment for the card and begin the waiting process.  Yesterday, when I came home, there were two T205s, keys to the set, waiting for me.

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Despite the technical grade of the card, the card displays very well for the grade.  Most of the damage is off in the corner and some small paper loss on the back, leaving the image of Ty Cobb untouched after 100 years.  Someone also made an attempt to recolor the left hand border if you look very closely, leading me to believe that Authentic would be a more correct technical grade. 

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The back of the card and really all T205s are more interesting than those of their T206 counterparts.  Like a modern card, they have text and in many cases, a small number of statistics.  Here, we have Games Played, Batting Average and Fielding Percentage, which is not out of line with the stats of the day.  Collecting T205s is a bit more difficult for this reason, as there are less obvious places to hide damage on the cards while giving them good presentation and remaining affordable.  

So, a new journey begins, five cards out of the 220 cards safely in my possession. 

Friday, January 25, 2013


Last week, my group break results arrived from Nachos Grande's January group break.  For some strange reason, the Atlanta Braves went unclaimed for a few hours and I was able to snatch them up, since nominally I am an Atlanta Braves fan.  As my "second" team, I landed the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team I end up with on a fairly regular basis.  The downside of the Diamondbacks is their lack of history, which can lead to a paucity of cards in some products, like legends or pre-1998 product.

Out of the six boxes, the highlights for my teams were the below cards.

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The Brandon Webb is a box hit from Flair Showcase, while the blue bordered Warren Spahn is a shorter print with a different picture from the base card.  I believe there was actually a pack of Play Ball cards which contained a Greg Maddux and an Eddie Mathews card.  Amazingly, the Maddux was a Cubs card and the Mathews was an insert from the Houston Astros from the half season he played for them in 1967.  To be honest, I never knew he played in Houston until I saw that card.  But that's how group breaks go.

At the end of the break, there were ten packs of 2009 Donruss Americana.  If there were any hits contained within those packs they would be randomed amongst the teams which performed poorly in the break, like the beleaguered Braves.  As I was opening my package (which confused me until I started opening the packs containing cards, I found the below card mixed in.

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While most will think of the Candyman when they see the above card, my thought was Kurn, son of Mog, brother of Worf from Star Trek.  Anytime you can get a numbered card of a Klingon, it is a big win.  As far as group break consolation prizes go, you can't get much better than this.

Tomorrow, we will look at a gold bordered Hall of Famer at the heart of my new set building. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Pin Me!

Not every tobacco premium was a baseball card.  In addition to cards, they sometimes inserted discs with pictures of baseball players on the front and domino pieces on the back.  Or if not a card, they would insert a pin into a package of cigarettes as the premium.

I happen to own a Domino Disc, which I bought at a local show a few years ago from a dealer who always has the strangest items and cards available, though I never did pick up a pin.  One, I was afraid of purchasing sharp, hundred year old piece of metal, since many of the pins I saw were rusty and I prefer my hobbies to be tetanus-free.  Two, I never knew how to store a pin of this nature safely.  Three, the only Orval Overall pin I saw for sale was greatly inflated in price. 

So, one morning a few weeks ago, I was checking my Orval Overall saved search results and I saw the pin with a respectable price.  So, I raced over to the computer, turned it on and saw the pin was still there, awaiting a purchase.  Which I finished prior to eating breakfast.

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The pin has very few flaws on the face of the pin, but the back, which you cannot see is super clean and rust free.  Rust-free is everything on a pin, so when I stick myself, I limit the diseases I can contract from the most dangerous item in my collection.  And owning one pin is enough, as I do not need other faces on round pieces of metal affixed to a stick pin, just waiting to pierce my delicate skin, leaving me with a new hole in my hand and a trip to the doctor. 

10 Packs, 12 Dollars, What Could Go Wrong?!?!? (Part 5)

We've hit the home stretch here.  Only two packs from the box are left to list, as review might be too strong of a word. 

Pack 9 - 1991 Fleer Ultra (Pack 2)

12 - John Smoltz
63 - Les Lancaster
94 - Mariano Duncan (With an uncorrected error of Billy Hatcher as the third picture on the back of the card.  I think Billy Hatcher, being a former Astro, improves the card.)
121- Cecil Fielder
144 - George Brett
194 - Junior Ortiz
200 - Delino DeShields
214 - Ron Darling
235 - Roberto Kelly
269 - Terry Mulholland
277 - Doug Drabek
290 - Ray Lankford
Fleer Ultra Team 1 - Barry Bonds (This is the closest I came to scanning a card.)

This pack was far superior to the other pack of Fleer Ultra due to the more recognizable names, the crazy error, which is one of many and the inclusion of an insert, which I believe falls one every five packs.

Pack 10 - 2007 Upper Deck Rack Pack

You realize this set has over 1,000 cards in it.  I looked on eBay to see if there were any for sale and I found 2 complete sets.  I also found that Upper Deck also released an 850 card set the same year in SweetSpot.  I don't understand why.  There is no need for one set this large, let alone two.  Seeing this, it does not make me think, "Boy, wouldn't it be great if Upper Deck ever made licensed baseball cards again?" I would, however, accept a license from Panini, since they seem to make quality cards in reasonably sized sets.

11 - Ryan Sweeney
135 - Howie Kendrick
145 - Joe Saunders
162 - Juan Rincon
173 - Mariano Rivera (I tend to pull Rivera in every set.)
180 - Dan Johnson
226 - Mark DeRosa
274 - Chad Paronto
286 - Sean Marshall
346 - Rafael Furcal
369 - Chris Capuano
449 - Chris Duncan
457 - Ryan Zimmerman
470 - Pedro Astacio (8 teams, 15 seasons, 129 wins, all surprising numbers.  Plus the fact he started his career in 1992.  I would've guessed around 1996.)
484 - Vernon Wells Blue Jays Checklist
529 - Chris Young
568 - Jay Payton
586 - J.D. Drew
653 - David Delucci
668 - Brian Lawrence
696 - Logan Kensing
723 - Mike Lamb
735 - Octavio Dotel (He was only up to seven teams by this point in time, six he played for and the Royals, whose uniform he is wearing on the front of the card.)
784 - Wilson Valdez
790 - Matt Wise
850 - Roger Clemens
859 - Jason Kendall
940 - Jose Vidro
982 - Robinson Tejada
1011 - John Patterson (I've never owned a card which required four digits as a unique identifier.  I was a better man when I had not owned one.)
Triple Play - Albert Pujols
Triple Play - Miguel Tejada

The best news I can provide about this pack is the lack of inserts.  It's quite the opposite of the O-Pee-Chee pack which contained 6 cards, 4 base, one parallel and one basketball insert.  I mean, if it only takes 150 packs or almost five box of perfect collation to complete a set, sign me up!

On the whole, I would not call this an enjoyable product to open.  It's pretty close as to whether there was $20 worth of retail value in packs in the box. 

2009 Goodwin Champions Rack Pack - $5
2007 Upper Deck Rack Pack - $5
2009 O-Pee-Chee - $2 (That was the price tag on the pack)
2012 Topps Series 2 - $2
1991 Fleer Ultra - $2? ($4)
2007 Topps Cello Pack - $1.50
2012 Topps Opening Day - $1 ($2)
1988 Score - $.50

That gets us to $22, though I suspect I may be underestimating the Fleer Ultra and possibly overestimating the 2007 Upper Deck.  It does pass the "Not violating false advertising laws" test.  However, the box totally fails the fun test.  The best cards were damaged, as the lower half of the 2009 Goodwin Champions rack pack was creased and the selection of packs left a lot to be desired.  I suspect I would not purchase one of these boxes in the future and would encourage you to do the same.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Saving a T206: A Card Show Report

There is little sadder than showing up at the end of card show, especially if another, larger card show is in driving distance, taking away a number of key dealers.  However, I only felt like driving 20 minutes yesterday and got a late start as I wanted to watch some Premier League soccer.  So, at 1 PM, I walk into the show and see dealers leaving.  Undeterred, I walk around the room, looking at the unopened boxes, which held little appeal and saw a fair amount of football cards available for sale.  In the back right corner was a dealer, who I had not seen before.  His table was filled with a fair amount of high-grade 50s and 60s Topps cards, which do not interest me at all.  Unless Willie, Mickey or the Duke is one of you idols, I cannot see the appeal of Topps cards from that era.

However, there was a plastic snap box that you could fill with about 50 cards in the middle of the case.  The case, which can hold 50 or so regular sized cards contained a small stack of T206 cards.  As you know, T206 cards are smaller than a standard card and might be worth protecting, especially if the cards have nice corners.  Not sloshing about in a plastic case.

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As you can see, the Heinie Wagner above has three exceptionally nice corners and a dented fourth corner.  The card has no creases and just has a small amount of color loss, but not paper loss on the card.  The back is a Polar Bear back with some tobacco stains, but that is to be expected on a card placed into a pouch of loose tobacco at the time of release.  I have another Heinie Wagner (Bat on Left Shoulder) which I bought at the National, but it is fairly low grade if my memory serves.

I ask for a price and the dealer asks, "Do you know what it books for, I generally don't sell cards this old?" I answer honestly no, because I've never looked at the book.  So, he takes out a Tuff Stuff or something that wasn't a Beckett and looks for a price.  He then asks me what grade do I think the card is?  Really?  He should be able to grade this.  I point out the upper left hand corner and small amount of color loss and decline to grade the card.  The card has strong eye appeal and some sharp corners, but suspect the corner lowers the technical grade to a Fair or a Good.  He then hands me the Tuff Stuff and asks me to find it in the card list.  I take a half hearted look, but know it isn't in there, since Heinie Wagner is a common.  After 12 or so seconds, I say, it is a common and not in the list, though I did disclose that I finished the set.

He thinks about it and I'm thinking, he is going to ask some ridiculous number and I can go about my day.  Of course, as you see the card, he asks for just north of a blaster and after about 4 seconds of reflection take the card.  Since the card was stored in a box, he just handed me the card and sent me on my way, so I spent the rest of the show looking at tables with a T206 in my hand. That being said, I did save the card from being banged around inside the plastic container again, which the poor Snodgrass and Tannehill could not escape. 

Fortunately, when I got to my car, there were a few packs of 2012 Topps WWE Heritage cards and I gently placed the card between two cards and drove home.  Well, drove to Walmart, purchased one of those best of 2012 Topps repack boxes, opened five packs in my car like some kind of monster and drove home, but you catch my drift. 

10 Packs, 12 Dollars, What Could Go Wrong?!?!? (Part 4)

With only four packs left, I am starting to feel that perhaps this was not the wisest purchase I have ever made at a Target.  Let's look at two more packs that I've opened and sat on for the last two weeks. 

Pack 7 - 1991 Fleer Ultra

Mariners Foil Sticker - Nothing says "premium" cards like the inclusion of a foil sticker.  Actually, nothing says Panini baseball stickers like the inclusion of a foil sticker.  Let's move on.
28 - Tom Bolton
36 - Tim Naehring
49 - Mark Langston
165 - Mike Morgan
179 - Dan Plesac
233 - Mel Hall
240 - Hensley Meulens - I believe this Bam-Bam card is the high point of the pack.  Well, that or discovering they numbered the cards by team in alphabetical order from Atlanta Braves to Toronto Blue Jays.
301 - Andy Benes
312 - Garry Templeton
358 - Roberto Alomar
370 - David Wells (pre-gout)
391 - Barry Bonds (Great Performances)
394 - David Justice (Great Performances)

Aside from the bright colors on the back and the poor man's Leaf look to the cards (and we all know that Leaf is the poor man's Stadium Club), there is little to say about this pack.

Pack 8 - 1988 Score

17 cards, bright colors, no waiting.  I think pulling this pack out of the box was the low water mark of opening the box.  Not the packs, mind you, but the box.  As a child, I opened many boxes of this product at cost.  So, it is hard to get excited about a 50 cent pack in your repack box.

Upon opening the pack, I was struck by two things.  First, Score also made Sportflics or vice versa, which I only put together again when I saw the offer on the back for young superstars and then saw the "Magic Motion"trivia card contained within.  Second, when I opened the pack, I saw the cards were color sorted.  And each 110 card sheet was a different color making it appear that instead of mixing all of the cards, they select a certain number of cards from each sheet and add them into the pack.  Quite the odd method of collation, but I'm sure 24 years ago, this was a revolutionary sorting practice.  Let's break it down by color!


51 - Doug Drabek (Dented)
69 - Howard Johnson
71 - Keith Moreland


184 - Danny Darwin
196 - Dan Pasqua
204 - Garth Iorg


234 - Greg Brock
246 - Jimmy Jones
254 - Johnny Ray


383 - Buddy Biancalana
397 - Randy St. Claire


450 - Dale Murphy
540 - George Bell
545 - Jack Morris


642 - Mackey Sasser
644 - Kevin Romine
647 - Ron Gant

And to think, there are still two more packs from this box filled with mystery left to open.  Well, not open, that's done, but discuss as rational, like-minded individuals. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

"Listen Mister, No Man Alive Can Throw Harder Than Smokey Joe Wood"

There are a variety of similar quotes attributed to Walter Johnson, part of the lineage of great fireballers, which indicate that Smokey Joe Wood was the hardest thrower of them all.  The quotes are similar to the title of this post.  Wood was a star of the day and best known for his 1912 season where he went 34-5 and won three additional games in the World Series.  Smokey Joe never scaled those heights again after breaking his thumb.  However, did reinvent himself as an outfielder for his friend Tris Speaker's Cleveland Indians in the 1920s, showing the breadth of his skills.

Smokey Joe was also the manager of the Yale baseball team and a regular around Fenway Park into his 90s.  Given Wood's fame and exceptionally long life, there are countless autographs available from him.  However, when it comes to cards from Smokey Joe's career, there are a real dearth of options available to the collector.  He did not appear in either the T205 or T206 sets, but did make an appearance in the very drab T207 set, which contain monochrome pictures set against brown backgrounds, the T202 set where he shares a card with Tris Speaker, the National Game set and a few others, such as the E121 from when he transitioned to the outfield in Cleveland. 

Since getting back into collecting cards, one of my goals was to acquire a period Smokey Joe Wood card.  Given their limited availability and the legend of Smokey Joe Wood, his period cards tend to have a premium of a Joe Jackson or an upper echelon Hall of Famer, since the desire to own a period Smokey Joe is fairly common. 

A few weeks back, I was able to bid in an auction for a E91-C Smokey Joe Wood.  The E91 series is a set of caramel cards, which have the notable deficiency of using stock pictures with different uniforms.  So, Christy Mathewson just might look the same as Joe Wood except for the name on the jersey.  This limits their desirability, but makes them more accessible.  With a late bid, I was able to win the below card for the price of a blaster.  It has an obvious deficiency in the missing lower right hand corner, but it does give me a period Smokey Joe Wood. 

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Of course, since the picture isn't really him, I am still looking to add a period piece to my collection.  As always with card collecting, it is the journey that matters and the journey which never ends. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

10 Packs, 12 Dollars, What Could Go Wrong?!?!? (Part 3)

(Now with Part 4 erasing Part 3!!!)

With only four packs left, I am starting to feel that perhaps this was not the wisest purchase I have ever made at a Target.  Let's look at two more packs that I've opened and sat on for the last two weeks. 

Pack 7 - 1991 Fleer Ultra

Mariners Foil Sticker - Nothing says "premium" cards like the inclusion of a foil sticker.  Actually, nothing says Panini baseball stickers like the inclusion of a foil sticker.  Let's move on.
28 - Tom Bolton
36 - Tim Naehring
49 - Mark Langston
165 - Mike Morgan
179 - Dan Plesac
233 - Mel Hall
240 - Hensley Meulens - I believe this Bam-Bam card is the high point of the pack.  Well, that or discovering they numbered the cards by team in alphabetical order from Atlanta Braves to Toronto Blue Jays.
301 - Andy Benes
312 - Garry Templeton
358 - Roberto Alomar
370 - David Wells (pre-gout)
391 - Barry Bonds (Great Performances)
394 - David Justice (Great Performances)

Aside from the bright colors on the back and the poor man's Leaf look to the cards (and we all know that Leaf is the poor man's Stadium Club), there is little to say about this pack.

Pack 8 - 1988 Score

17 cards, bright colors, no waiting.  I think pulling this pack out of the box was the low water mark of opening the box.  Not the packs, mind you, but the box.  As a child, I opened many boxes of this product at cost.  So, it is hard to get excited about a 50 cent pack in your repack box.

Upon opening the pack, I was struck by two things.  First, Score also made Sportflics or vice versa, which I only put together again when I saw the offer on the back for young superstars and then saw the "Magic Motion"trivia card contained within.  Second, when I opened the pack, I saw the cards were color sorted.  And each 110 card sheet was a different color making it appear that instead of mixing all of the cards, they select a certain number of cards from each sheet and add them into the pack.  Quite the odd method of collation, but I'm sure 24 years ago, this was a revolutionary sorting practice.  Let's break it down by color!


51 - Doug Drabek (Dented)
69 - Howard Johnson
71 - Keith Moreland


184 - Danny Darwin
196 - Dan Pasqua
204 - Garth Iorg


234 - Greg Brock
246 - Jimmy Jones
254 - Johnny Ray


383 - Buddy Biancalana
397 - Randy St. Claire


450 - Dale Murphy
540 - George Bell
545 - Jack Morris


642 - Mackey Sasser
644 - Kevin Romine
647 - Ron Gant

And to think, there are still two more packs from this box filled with mystery left to open.  Well, not open, that's done, but discuss as rational, like-minded individuals. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

2012 Leaf Memories or How Much Did I Pay for Leaf to Put Two Foil Stamps on a Common

Nothing says sportscards quite like someone purchasing previously sold cards which have limited value, buying them in bulk, putting a stamp on them and charging 50 times the price they paid.  Especially, since by doing so, they can skirt the issue of being able to place cards with Major League team logos without a Major League license.  So, let's talk about 2012 Leaf Memories.

1990 Leaf is an enduring design, primarily for being one of the first high-end challengers to Upper Deck.  It also rebranded Leaf from Canadian Donruss to a brand of its own.  The set features higher-quality cardboard and metallic coloring and is far from the worst design of the era.  Of course, avoiding bright yellow or mixing two off contrasting colors is usually enough to save you from that fate.

Obviously, with 22 years having passed, it is the perfect time to honor the memory of 1990 Leaf.  Not caring about most non-Topps releases (and most Topps releases for that matter), I was blissfully unaware of this set, until The Daily Dimwit showed off his new Astros from 2012 Leaf Memories.  Is that a new Mike Scott card?  Limited to 20?  To eBay!!!!!


I quickly find the above card with no problem, which represents 5% of the stamp run.  So, basically, I was willing to pay $5 for a card, which is exactly the same as one I own, that I can get for less than $1 shipped.  When you stop and think about that, you say, "Are you crazy, it's foil stamping, with no additional image?" Of course, the player collector in me checks it off the list and moves on without a care in the world.

Except the care of an autographed version of the card!  Searching Mike Scott Leaf led me to the autographed version as well.  An autographed version!  Two Mike Scott autographed cards in one year.  And limited to only 33 copies!!!  To the bidding.


I actually lost the first two cards I bid on.  One for less than I paid for this and one for the same price.  After losing the second card, I made an offer on a third for the same bid price as the last card, but with free shipping.  Fortunately, the seller accepted and I was only tied to one-eleventh of the print run on eBay. 

With this out of the way, I can safely feel I found all of the Mike Scott cards I needed for the year.  There is the Leaf History Cut Signature set, but somehow purchasing a piece of paper Mike Scott signed in a fancy holder holds no appeal for me, especially given the whole, Mike Scott is alive and signing autographs thing.  But to each his or her own. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

1973 Topps Ron Cey Rookie Card

If you bid on a card enough times, eventually one of them arrives at your doorstep.  You bid, you get outbid, you lose interest, you come back, you bid on another, so on and so forth. 


With the Ron Cey/Mike Schmidt rookie card, it was always a matter of time and a matter of saying, this will cost more than a blaster.  In fact, I think it costs more than any other 10 cards I've bought for this set, possibly 20, since I ended up getting good deals on 1973 Topps cards throughout the last two years.  The key is to purchase large lots with stars, which is how I ended up with a couple of really cheap Ryans and other fine stars. 

The downside to purchasing the rookie card of the best third baseman of all time is that I am out of excuses for not finishing my 1973 Topps set this year.  There are no difficult cards stopping me from finishing the set.  No extravagant purchases left.  While there is a Ruth and a Phillies team card with Mike Schmidt from the high numbers, there are no stars to stop me. I have to go to shows, search on eBay and find the last 34 cards to finish the set.

So, by year's end, the set will be completed.  The pages full of cards and images of ballplayers from years gone by.  The album bursting with cardboard, ready to sit next to the other album of 100 year old flag cards will be full and put away, with I satisfied in the knowledge that I've put another set to bed. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Packing the Hall: Frankie Frisch

With today's unsurprising results in the Hall of Fame elections, let's look back to the late 1960s and early 1970s when Frankie Frisch and his cronies packed the Hall of Fame with Giants and Cardinals from the 1920s and 1930s, primarily based on their ability to know Frankie Frisch.


If you look at some of the weakest hall of famers, many were elected by Frankie Frisch's Veteran's Committee during this time frame.  When you think of Hall of Famers, you don't think of High Pockets Kelly, Pop Haines, Chick Hafey or Freddie Lindstrom, unless you are asked who are some of the worst Hall of Famers of all time, but all happened to be former teammates of Frankie Frisch and elected during or just after his tenure at the head of the Veteran's Committee.  In many ways, it was the exact opposite of what happened today, where a bunch of legitimate Hall of Fame caliber players were denied entry into the institution.  Of course, Pete Rose can attest to not being a Hall of Famer being good for your career.  (Actually, Pete Rose is in the WWE Hall of Fame, but that doesn't get him access to Cooperstown.) 

As to the card, I like Frankie Frisch fielding a grounder in an office park.  An office park with a dark red sky in the background, almost as if he was sentenced to live a horrible fate, playing baseball in a nightmare world with a fiery sky as his sole escape from office drudgery.  Plus, he is developing back trouble from that awkward angle he needs to work in.  Perhaps it is his pennance for Pop Haines induction into the Hall or perhaps it is my overactive imagination putting poor Frankie in imaginary afterworld peril.  Either way, the strong colors of the card speak to me and I'm glad to have found this card at a very reasonable price. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Cam Neely's Knee

With hockey returning sooner rather than later, I decided it was time to show off some cards of the greatest game on ice.  To be honest, hockey, up close to the ice is the best spectator sport there is.  Lots of action and speed, but on top of the ice you can follow the action.  One of my two favorite sporting events I've attended was a 6-6 tie between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New Jersey Devils.  Mario Lemieux scored two goals and assisted on another, while Claude Lemieux scored two goals and assisted on another for the Devils, keeping things even.  It was just a crazy, wide open, offensive oriented game. 

While I've always been a fan of high scoring defensemen, there is always a soft spot in my heart for Ulf Samuelsson, the enforcer.  He came to the Penguins in the Ron Francis trade, putting the Penguins over the top and sending the Whale to Carolina in the longer term.  The Whalers were not the only team damaged by Samuelsson.  He is most famous for the hit which destroyed Cam Neely's knee.  Sometimes those things happen in hockey. 

Occasionally, you get to sign a hockey card 20 years later.  I actually heard there was a new Samuelsson signature card, but I only won that one today.  In the interim, we can look at one of the very few autograph cards I've purchased and the only hockey autograph I deemed must have.  I am a big fan of the Swedish uniform and to be quite honest, I was a little surprised that Samuelsson played internationally, but not every Swede can be Peter Forsberg.  And someone has to protect him from the likes of Ulf Samuelsson. 

I imagine the person who pulled the card from the box felt the odds beat them.  I, on the other hand, thought I hit the jackpot when I paid something around $2 plus shipping for the card.  I also felt that I was beating the previous owner, like he was Cam Neely, going down clutching his wallet instead of his knee.  Another data point in why I stopped buy unopened boxes of product, since I can't control getting the cards I really want, nor can I get in the range of not wondering, "Why did I spend all that money on these cards and all I got was a lousy Carlos Ruiz relic?" 

So, let the games and hits begin. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

10 Packs, 12 Dollars, What Could Go Wrong?!?!? (Part 2)

So, I opened more packs.  We all know that opening packs can be very soothing.  There is something to sort, a small amount of excitement and the knowledge that something new is awaiting us.  With that being said, I opened two more of the ten packs found in my repack box.

Pack 3 - 2012 Topps Opening Day

48 - Adrian Beltre
116 - Josh Hamilton
125 - Matt Cain
127 - J.P. Arencibia
181 - Clayton Kershaw
183 - Cliff Lee
SC-5 - Joey Votto - August 28, 2011: Votto Bookends Big Day with Bombs (The work of a frustrated or former newspaper headliner writer.  Definitely not up to par with what I expect on the back of the Daily News or New York Post)

I recognized every player pulled from this pack.  While I'm sure the family and friends of the Rockies' second lefthander out of the bullpen is thrilled and ecstatic there is a card devoted to him, as more of a casual fan, I could care less.  I like the idea of opening a pack of cards and say, "Hey, I've heard of these guys and would recognize them as baseball players without the assistance of a card."  For me, that is the downside of the Topps base set.  If you stick to what people know, it works.  I secretly suspect more people like this set for this reason alone...well, that and mascot inserts.

True story, I chose a 1982 Donruss set as the one set I really wanted to purchase, not for the Cal Ripken Rookie, which I could care less about, but the San Diego Chicken rookie card, which is a true classic.  I think I even still have the set somewhere in my house, sans puzzle, with poorly cut, off-center cards. 

Pack 4 2008 Topps Cello Pack (Series 2)

The cello pack always sounds like a good idea, but is a complete failure in the modern, insert-driven world we live in.  I will ruin the surprise of this pack, because I haven't seen anything like this since 1991, but the entire pack is base cards.  Nary an insert to be found. 

443 - Greg Dobbs
469 - Brian Bocock
658 - Kerry Wood (Look, a player we've heard of!)
468 - Gregor Blanco - (There is a five line paragraph, which both lacks a topic sentence and logical construction.  It hurts so bad, I can't even inflict it on you as a means of paying it forward.)
482 - Kazuo Fukumori
361 - Wesley Wright - ("He's a very athletic left-hand pitcher, a really good competitor,"says Astros East Coast supervisor of amateur scouting Clarence Johns." Look, we are six cards into this pack, I read Baseball Prospectus every year (I even own the original one from 1996 that was self-published.), read everyday and am fairly knowledgeable about the sport and I've heard of only three of these players.  And the quote is shorter than the official title and name of the person who provided the quote.  This card made me angry enough to ramble and merge two paragraphs into one without rhyme or reason.)
458 - Brad Hawpe
408 - Edinson Volquez - (5 years of professional ball, 13 different year/team seasons to report on, one organization.  At this point, he was traded to the Reds, who provided nothing but a spring training picture on the front.)
435 - Torii Hunter
635 - Michael Young (The answer to the question what would Derek Jeter be if he played for any other organization.)
412 - Joel Zumaya
498 - Matt Chico
585 - Brian Bannister
465 - Huston Street
550 - Curt Schilling
480 - Matt Cain ("Though poorly supported with runs (two or fewer in 21 starts) and by his bullpen, he led the Giants in ERA.")
513 - Rick Vanderhurk ("he's now revealed there is no gap between the "n" and the "h".  I've watched enough Premier League soccer to wonder if there was also once a gap between the "n" and the "d" as well.  And what frustrated novelist thought that this was a reveal, worthy of the use of such a verb.)
378 - Ozzie Guillen
520 - Vernon Wells (Spell check strikes again!!! "Vernon has been the hub of the Toronto office.  He owns nearly twice as many hits as anyone on the club since then, and also the most HRs and RBIs by far." The reference to hub of the office threw me so that I almost missed there is no time frame during which Wells has twice as many hits on the club.)
659 - Vincente Padilla
422 - Erick Aybar
406 - Takashi Saito

So far, the best card I've pulled is the epic 2011 Jeff Mathis, though the 2008 Vernon Wells is also a keeper. 

As to the real winner so far, Unintentional Comedy.  The loser is everyone who taught English to anyone who wrote any part of a Topps baseball card in the last five years.  Those people should be ashamed at the basic lessons they failed to impart about the usage of language.  Forshame, poor English teachers and/or professors, forshame!

10 Packs, 12 Dollars, How Could I Go Wrong?!?!? (Part 1)

I was at Target for legitimate purposes, like the acquisition of paper products, when I stopped in the card aisle.  To be fair, I stopped in the card aisle twice.  Once for a quick pass over of the picked over remains of those sturdy red shelves we all know and secretly love and a second for some targeted searching of every pack and box that remained.

During my second set of searching, after being tricked into picking up the Justin Bieber cards for the fourth time in a Target, I see some of our beloved repacks.  Most of the repacks were football, which makes sense given the time of year, but there were a few baseball ones.  The promise was 10 packs with 40% off retail.  In the front slots were two rack packs, 2009 Goodwin Champions and 2007 Upper Deck. I like rack packs, I think Goodwin Champions has some interesting designs, so I take the box over to the price scanner. 

At $20, I was clearly priced out, since I cannot fathom what packs inside might be worth over $3 each, but at $12, I might be priced in.  So, the scanner turns up $11.99 and off to the register I go.  Now, if you've seen Trainspotting, there is a scene towards the end where they are going to make the big score and Mark hears the story and goes, "Mike Forrester.  Russian sailors." in a tone clearly indicating the high probability of failure that is about to befall everyone.  Despite hearing this in the back of my head, I still forward with the purchase. To date, I've only opened two of the packs from the box, with the other 8 remaining in my car.  This way, I only break wax at my steering wheel, rather than opening all the packs up front and slowly bleeding out what I want.

Pack 1 - 2009 Goodwin Champions

Rather than spoil my thoughts at the whole process of opening the package, let's just jump into the packs themselves.

Top Half

2 - Derek Jeter
23 - Kevin Youkilis
28 - Brian McCann
51 - Carlos Beltran
67 - Josh Beckett
86 - Brooks Robinson Mini

This looks like a strong product with some interesting cards.  All baseball to start, but that is never a bad thing.  The mini was a nice touch and to date, the best card I've opened in this box.

Bottom Half

54 - Kosuke Fukodome
60 - Matt Garza
88 - Peggy Fleming
108 - Tim Lincecum
114 - Michael Jordan
141 - Bobby Orr

What a great set of players, why there is even a crease on Bobby Orr.  Wait a minute, that's not an action shot of Bobby Orr and that crease runs right through the middle of the card.  That's right, the entire bottom half of the pack was creased in the middle.  Quite disappointing actually and presumably a sign of the epic fail which is surely going to follow this box to its final resting place in a 4,000 count box.

Pack 2 - 2011 Topps Series 2

339 - Alexei Casilla
363 - Aaron Rowand (With a tremendous quote from Aubrey Huff "He'll play if he's 10 percent.", which is incredibly true, given his production in the orange and black, about 10% of a quality centerfielder.  I can here, "Put me in coach, I'm only sub-replacement due to my eroding skills and injuries.)
377 - Esmil Rogers
405 - Ian Kinsler
474 - Jeff Mathis (Whose card starts with "Jeff is a defensive catcher, but can rake when it counts." I see his professional gardening duties have gotten in the way of learning to hit.  Otherwise, there is an outright lie on the back of this card and completely beneath Topps.)
505 - Tommy Hanson
542 - Mike Pelfrey
554 - Cedric Hunter
579 - Jeff Niemann ("Jeff just wins.  Dating back to July 24, 2006 (when he was in Double-A), his "Ws"outnumber his "Ls", 55 to 27." What an amazingly useless and seemingly error ridden stat.  First, I can only find 53 total wins from 2006 to 2010 for Jeff Niemann.  Second, in order to make the stat look good, they needed to lop off the first five decisions of 2006 for Niemann, all losses, before he wins five straight.  Third, it ignores the differences in competition and removes part of his Major League career, since he went 2-2 in 2005.  As you can tell, I love these amazingly awful writeups.  If they were just basic stats pulled from a list or an event, I could move on.  But the way they wrote these cards is phenomenal and even stunning.)
603 - David Murphy
TDG-12 - Diamond Giveaway 1974 Mike Schmidt (It might be 1952 Mickey Mantle or it might be expired...I'm going with expired.)
581 - Fernando Rodney Diamond Parallel

While no cards of note were found in the pack, the tremendous value in discovering what Topps thinks is a good write up made this pack more than worthwhile.  Almost enough to see what else is written on the back of the other Topps cards in my possession. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Completing the Monster - 518 T206 Cards in Hand

Over the last week or so, I've hinted at the fact that I had completed purchased to complete my T206 set to 518 cards in just under 31 months.  After waiting for a money order to make its way to Buffalo, the last two groups of cards I ordered arrived today.  One card was MIA for about a week, leading me to conduct one search of my apartment and two searches of my collection, in the fear I didn't realize it arrived.  Fortunately, as I was about to start looking for a replacement 518th card, it arrived today.  We will show old Solly Hofman later on.  Today, is about the last card I purchased for my set.


Fred Merkle Throwing.  Merkle, as you likely know, was most famous for failing to touch second base in 1908 on a force play which scored the winning run against the Cubs.  A tussle ensued and amidst a crowd on the field, the ball was retrieved by the Cubs, and Merkle was forced out.  The play became known as Merkle's Boner, forced a replay of the game at the end of the season, allowing the Cubs to win the National League pennant and their last World Series. 

The card itself is in spectacular condition, with only some weakness in the corners.  As the last card in my set, I went a little higher in grade.  I talked about doing so with myself a few weeks beforehand, finishing the set with a bang.  Also, I figured I would get to one card left, only be able to find overpriced versions of the card on eBay, priced at three times the grade or one that was a fair deal higher in grade than the rest of my set at the same price. So, I bit the bullet and finished my set with flair and the far nicest card in my set. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Wahoo Sam Crawford and Breezy Point

I was going to post about the Johnny Evers Portrait I purchased a few weeks ago, but realized it was part of a group of cards I had yet to scan into my computer.  Suffice to say, the card is very nice and in a few days or weeks or whenever I get around to it, you will see that as well.  When I was purchasing my Evers and by purchasing, I mean repeatedly jamming on my refresh button on my Blackberry to see if I won the auction on eBay.  Needless to say, the auction was won and other than forgetting to pay for three days, a rarity for me, the card arrived safe and sound.  

As the Evers was one of the last cards I needed for my set, I started to think about the last time I almost purchased a Johnny Evers card.  Someone who I had gotten to know fairly well was looking to move one he upgraded in July.  The price was more than I wanted to pay for an Evers, but less than I ended up paying last month.  But with the National on the horizon, I wanted to keep my powder dry and passed on the card.

Normally, such a card would be remembered but unremarkable.  However, at the time, I was thinking that had I purchased the card, it would still exist, since the seller was located in Breezy Point, NY, which suffered tremendously during Superstorm Sandy.  I hadn't actually heard from or seen the seller on the forums in quite some time, and despite not being a "people person", I was genuinely concerned about what happened to him.

So, flash forward to just before Christmas.  I posted the last ten cards I needed for my T206 set on Net54 and heard from quite a few people, knocking off Solly Hofman, Foley White, Art Devlin and Phil Poland in short order.  Checking my E-Mail the Saturday before Christmas, I saw it was from our missing seller, offering me a Sam Crawford Batting at a reasonable price.  He couldn't send me a scan of the card, as his scanner suffered in the storm, but fortunately, his T206s survived, leaving him 20 cards short of completion.  Without hesitation, I purchased the card, sight unseen, which you can do with someone you know and trust and even more, I was happy to hear from him and glad to know he and his collection were safe and sound...well, as safe and sound as anyone in Breezy Point could reasonably be.


As I reach the end of my journey collecting T206s, I think about the cards themselves, which are beautiful, historical artifacts of a century ago.  But more so, I think about the journey and the people I've met along the way.  Whenever I think about upgrading my T206s, I'm always stopped, because while many of the cards could have nicer copies, they wouldn't have the same stories or be from the people I've met along the way.  In a sense, buying an entire set is fun and easy, but it lacks a story and character.  So, any time I look at my Sam Crawford Batting, I'll always get the sense of relief of knowing that someone who helped me along the way was safe and sound as well. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Where to From Here?

I feel I am at a collecting cross roads.  I am waiting for the cards I need to finish my T206 set to arrive from various states of the union, which was brought me back into collecting about two and a half years ago.  In my youth, I always loved tobacco cards and the players of the deadball era, so it was a natural fit.  I started with an Orval Overall which had seen better years, like 1913 and 1982, missing some borders and likely overpriced for the card, but it evoked a joy in me and got me started down the path.  The card I am closing my set with is fantastic and will be here by the weekend and looks nothing like the Orval Overall seen below.


I thought the project would take me somewhere between five and ten years if everything went right.  Well, things went a lot better than right and now I need a new focus.  I thought about T205s like the McGraw seen below, but I find it hard to be captured by them.  The other major tobacco offering of the era is the T207 set with an odd list of players and off-putting brown backgrounds.  I suspect, aside from hunting down every last Orval Overall issue I can get my hands on (a new one is on the way for the none of you who care about Overalls), I will wander through a lot of different sets.  I might finish my 1973 Topps set, which will almost certainly take me longer than my T206 set.  Motivation is critical and while I love putting cards in albums, I don't necessarily love the 1973 Topps set the way I love the T206s.

McGraw T205

I also want to finish my 1910 Hassan Animals set.  The first set I finished when returning to the hobby was a set of 1910 T59 Flags of the World.  It took about two months and you would be surprised how many people were spoiling to move these cards.  I found almost every difficult back and aside from one card, I had no trouble getting everything together.

I also think I will fill in some more cards of deadball era players on modern cards.  I bought two Christy Mathewsons to close out the year, including the one below and entered a group break solely to add to my Ty Cobb collection (almost unsuccessfully).


Beyond that, we will see Diamond Stars.  The set is small enough to complete in a year, has cards with great color and images and is the only set from the 1930s which interests me, especially as it doesn't have incredibly cost prohibitive Ruths, Gehrigs or DiMaggios to chase.  For example, below is a Hall of Famer I picked up as part of a lot of three about a month ago. I'll show the other two when I need something to fill up some column inches or internet white space.


So, in conclusion, you might see less T206s and more Diamond Stars, but most likely you will see a great deal of purchases which just kind of happened.