Sunday, October 23, 2016

Soccer...from WalMart

I make no apologies for being a soccer fan. I coached the sport and still enjoy watching it for the most part. I don't follow the MSL but I am a fan of European soccer in general and the Premier League in particular. Manchester United is my UPL club. I follow a bunch of different International teams, those that my family has roots in, Portugal, Germany, Italy, England and Mexico. 

I don't collect soccer per se but every once in awhile I'll pick up a card of a player I like. 

Last week I ventured into WalMart, a place I usually avoid. The two in my vicinity rarely have any cards worth looking at. That's why I'll drive over a toll bridge to get to Target. But when it's 11 p.m., you are facing an early wake-up call and you are fresh out of coffee creamer its any port in a storm!

WalMart surprised me by having not only a nice supply of 2016 Football, new Topps Heritage High Number packs and two(!) 2016 Soccer releases, Topps and Donruss.

I bought a hanger package of each of the soccer products. Both came with two packs and what they advertised as bonus cards. I both cases I got an extra bonus card so that's a plus. That never happens to me with baseball of football cards. The bonus cards are shiny chrome things that a) don't scan well and b) otherwise look like the regular cards. The two cards above are both bonus cards.

The Topps cards are very 'busy'. The cards are of players from teams involved in the European Champions League. They are designed to be used as part of some sort of digital game. Who the heck has time for that nonsense?

There are no stats on the back. There isn't much of anything on the back for that matter. 

The Donruss cards I liked a lot more. They resemble their other 2016 products. Like the Topps package I received an extra 'bonus' shiny card. They promised two but I got three (one of which I didn't bother to scan). 

Also like Topps the regular cards are, at least to me, more attractive than the chrome ones.

And with Donruss I got the best card on the night, Messi. He can be a putz but there is no denying his amazing talent. 

The backs lack traditional stats but had a bunch more info than the Topps cards.

I won't buy more of these, at least not any more packs. But I may pick up a player here and there for my slim soccer binder.

I'll scan and post a few cards from the baseball and football packs I also bought that night very soon.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

My '58 Topps Blog is online

I spent a bit of time over the past week getting the 1958 Topps Blog ready to go. You also can find the link over in the sidebar. The format is still a work in progress but it'll likely remain pretty simple: a scan of both sides of the card, a blurb about the player(s) and maybe an odd fact or two from the 'net.

Right now I have 353 of the 494 cards in the set which puts me at 71.4%. Maybe a dozen or so of what I have will get upgraded eventually but for now I can live with them. The set itself doesn't get much love from collectors. The numerous head shots and lack of backgrounds tend to push it down any list of 'faves of the 50s' but that doesn't faze me. I have a sentimental attachment to it and maybe my blog will stir up some converts. Honestly, a binder page of ex/m 58s is a thing of beauty.

According to my calculations the 1958 Topps set contains cards of 39 Hall of Famers. Several are represented on multiple cards in the set including base cards plus the All Star subset and the multiplayer specials. They are:
  • Ted Williams
  • Bob Lemon
  • Willie Mays
  • Don Drysdale
  • Hank Aaron
  • George Kell
  • Roberto Clemente
  • Al Kaline
  • Dick Williams
  • Luis Aparicio
  • Duke Snider
  • Robin Roberts
  • Early Wynn
  • Jim Bunning
  • Enos Slaughter
  • Mickey Mantle
  • Sandy Koufax
  • Red Schoendienst
  • Richie Ashburn
  • Bill Mazeroski
  • Warren Spahn
  • Frank Robinson
  • Harmon Killebrew
  • Will Harridge
  • Warren Giles
  • Brooks Robinson
  • Ernie Banks
  • Walter Alston
  • Whitey Ford
  • Hoyt Wilhelm
  • Orlando Cepeda
  • Yogi Berra
  • Pee Wee Reese
  • Nellie Fox
  • Larry Doby
  • Whitey Herzog
  • Eddie Mathews
  • Casey Stengel
  • Stan Musial
I'm not sure how frequently I will be posting over there but I'll try to maintain a one- or two-a-week pace. I also want to keep my 1960 blog moving along. I neglected that one for a few months until this week.

I hope you'll check out the '58 site. Comments and criticisms are always welcome.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Upgrade Mania

After chasing the '59 Topps set a card or two at a time I decided that a more efficient way to collect a set was to start with a large lot purchase. Doing so gets you a big jump on the set at a reasonable cost per card. Downside being that large but affordable lots invariably contain some filler cards that will need upgrading. That's even true in my case despite my rather liberal view of what makes a card 'acceptable'.

I employed the 'large lot' strategy with the 1960 Topps set, the Civil War News set and most recently with the 1958 Topps set. Each purchased lot definitely had a card or two that fell into the 'I won't even put this into the binder' category.

1960 Topps Don Elston.

This beauty came in my 200 card lot. All-in-all the cards were pretty sweet but this one? Yikes.

Actually the corners were pretty nice but I think I went to eBay the day the cards arrived and found a better one:

Softer corners but at least Elston has a face.  I like to pass along my vintage dupes but there was no way I could put that first one in a PWE. It went in the trash.

1958 Topps Hank Foiles.

The guy who sold me the big lot of '58s had them in a box in card number order. That meant that Hank Foiles here, card #4 in the set, was  right on top. I remember immediately thinking that I'd made a huge mistake. The cards in the listing looked to be in at least Fair shape, most looked better than that. But if this card was representative of what I was getting then even at under a buck a card I was going to be very disappointed.

Luckily the Foiles card was the worst card in the box. By quite a wide margin. Again I had to wonder why the seller had even bothered with it. I didn't do as I did with the '60 Elston and find a replacement right away but I found one for sale on eBay from a seller I've dealt with and loaded it in my cart. I bought it a few days later with some others. Again the replacement Foiles card isn't perfect but it is perfectly fine for my binder.

The new one looks even better when placed alongside the original.

1962 Civil War News 'The War Ends'.

This card came with the original lot I picked up on eBay that averaged about a dollar each. It may be definitely is the worst card I've ever paid for. I had fair warning though. The seller went out of his way to make the condition of some of the cards very clear. He even emailed me about it after I paid.

It was obviously trimmed to include the card number.

With the cost of nice ungraded cards from this set being pretty high (routinely in the $7 to $10+ range) I did well with the lot I bought. So I didn't feel bad for paying $8 for the replacement

It's off-center but nearly every card in the set was miscut, or so it seems from looking at what I have and what is for sale. But other than that it's the nicest example of the nearly 50 CWN cards I now have. Bottom line...CWN #82 went from worst to first in my binder.

I'll continue to play the upgrade game with my 1958 set. But other than the Foiles that will have to be when I'm finished with the thing. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

NFL Oddball...1966 Amoco Stamps

One of the things (OK, the BIG thing) about getting old is a tendency to forget stuff. Like where you see things that first caught your eye. In this case I can't remember whose blog had a post about these 1966 Amoco Oil All Pro game stamps. Wherever it was I knew immediately that I needed at least one of the Colts in the set.  Old, oddball Baltimore Colts items are at the top of my list of coveted collectibles.

Poking around online I wasn't able to find much info on these but looking at the eBay auctions it wasn't hard to piece together the idea behind them. You fueled up at a Standard Oil station, received a sheet of three stamps and pasted them onto the game card.

I was able to nab a three stamp game piece that included the great Lenny Moore. As you can see by the fact that the print on the reverse is plainly visible in the scan these things are very thin.

Rules/instructions on the back with the front side showing through. Opening the package I found that the piece was in a wax paper envelope that appears to be about the same vintage as the stamp. I'm guessing that's how you received it at the gas station. 

On eBay currently there is one 'collector's card' up for grabs. I snagged the photo from the listing to show here. Top prize was a 1967 Mustang! Damn, I'd love to have one of those right now.

Just like all these types of collect-a-piece promos (McDonalds' Monopoly game comes to mind)  it appears that finding all but one of the top level prize pieces was easy. Getting the last one? Not so easy.

The stamps themselves? They are so poorly executed and incredibly cheesy that they have quite a bit of charm. Just look at these things! I can't tell if they are photos or drawings. I think they are some goofy combination of both. My Lenny Moore may be the best (least awful) of the lot.

I blew up a couple of others from the collectors card photo. 

Pete Retzlaff  (a terrific receiver in his day, btw) resembles the Great Gazoo, no?

But my very favorite is Redskins LB Sam Huff. WTH? He looks like Daniel Craig in a fez. Sam Huff was one of my father's favorite players when he was with the Giants. I bet my old man wouldn't have picked this shot as a Sam Huff photo.

Anyway it's a neat little item that now has a place in my huge Baltimore Colts binder.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

1958 Customs (Phantoms?) from Bob Lemke

Bob Lemke writes one of my favorite blogs. He has some great stories from bygone days thru his access to old copies of The Sporting News. Plus he was a mover and shaker in the memorabilia news industry for many years. 

He also produces some terrific customs, both sports and non-sports. After a brief hiatus he is currently selling them again and I for one am glad. They are not cheap but if you buy a few at a time they cost about the same as a Topps Now card and are far more interesting than a card of the latest walkoff passed ball incident. 

When I decided to go after the 1958 set I knew I'd be checking out what Bob had available. I did the same for my 1959 and 1960 projects. Both of those binders have a page in the back that contains a few Lemke creations. 

For 1958 Bob now has seven customs (plus a variation). I recently picked up three of them. Roy Campanella never got to play with the 'Los Angeles' Dodgers as his sparkling career ended with his auto accident late in  January of 1958.  Bob's custom is a spot-on take on what a '58 Topps Campy might have looked like. 

Next is Bob's version of the '58 multi-player specials. He found a nice shot of Don Newcombe and Johnny Antonelli and used it in a way I'm surprised Topps didn't think of. 

When I looked at the checklist for the '58 set I saw that there was no card #145 and then remembered that it had originally been the spot where Ed Bouchee would have appeared. He was dropped from the set when his legal issues arose and he was suspended. Lemke fills the slot with a nice version of what the Bouchee card might have looked like. He has available both a yellow and black background. I picked the black since there are not as many black cards in the set as there are yellow. I have the yellow version at the bottom of this post.

Unlike the other Lemke customs I have or will pick up the Bouchee card will reside within the main binder pages as if it was an actual Topps card. I don't like having an empty slot on a page in a completed set. But to just 'skip' the spot would have thrown off my numbering and made my card-related OCD kick in to high gear. 

BTW...Bouchee was reinstated to MLB in the summer of 1958 and had cards in Topps sets again from 1959 through the end of his career in 1962 with the Mets.

The reverse of Bob's custom is a few shades 'brighter' than the original Topps cards but it's a great replication in all other ways so I'm happy to use it in that #145 slot. If it wasn't available I would have had to make my own lousy custom which in no way would have looked right.

There are four other Lemke '58s listed on his site. I'll snatch those up at some point along with the '59s and '60s that I missed the first time.

I'm still weighing my options as far as a '58 Topps blog goes. I'll figure something out.

Oh, and here is an image of Bob's yellow Ed Bouchee #145. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

'58 Topps..the new project

Over the last couple of weeks I committed to chasing the third and final of my three 'cornerstone' sets, the 1958 Topps set. Along with the '59 and '60 these sets were the first ones that I dealt with as a kid and the ones with the most nostalgic value.

The 1958 isn't the most popular of the 50s era sets but it's colorful, relatively easy to track down and it doesn't have lots super expensive rookies. I set about to begin my quest in the same way I started with the 1960 set. I gathered together the '58 cards I already owned. I had all the Orioles, a few stars (Sandy Koufax!), a couple dozen commons and the entire All Star subset. 

Then I found a large lot (240+ cards) of cheap '58s on eBay and nabbed it at a price that netted me 210 new (to me) cards that included some stars in lesser condition. Even disregarding the 25 or 30 cards I already owned the lot cost me about 80 cents a card. The Frank Torre card at the top comes from that lot and more or less exemplifies the average condition of the lot. Trust me, some of the ones I received no doubt spent some time being attached to bike spokes.

Finally I took my wantlist to the monthly hotel card show and combed through my favorite dealer's vintage boxes and came up with about 60 more commons in really nice shape. He cut me a nice deal on a few stars as well. 

I spent last Sunday sorting what I had and making notes on cards that will need an eventual upgrade. I also looked closer at eBay and COMC to get an idea of what it will take for me to finish this thing off.

Here is a peek at some of what I have. This Luis Aparicio was part of the eBay lot. I so love the old Flying Sock logo. 

Frank Sullivan came in the lot, too. Soft corners and a bit scuffed. But this one is way down the upgrade list. Down far enough that I'll probably never do it.

Another Flying Sock guy, Jim Landis. This one came from the show. Nice card for the fifty cents or so that it cost.

Daryl Spencer sports a logo-enhanced cap. Topps modeled these on the old San Francisco Seals caps. Close but no cigar. This is another card show pickup.

Fianlly here is Hall of Famer early Wynn. I didn't intend for this to be a Sox-centric post but whatever. He came over from the Indians for 1958 as the cardback notes. And he had plenty of arm left. He won 49 games for Chicago between '58 and 1960 when his effectiveness diminished. 

Topps packed a lot of stuff on the reverse of these. Stats, cartoons, personal data and a blurb in most cases.

When the weekend was done I ended up with a total of 332 cards. That's roughly 2/3 of the 494 card set. I did have one surprise. I just know I have the Frank Robinson and Ted Williams cards from this set. But try as I might I couldn't come up with them. I'll keep digging. 

In addition to all the actual '58s I have I picked up some of Bob Lemke's customs including the 'missing' #145 Ed Bouchee. I'll post them soon.

I'm still debating whether of not I will have a dedicated '58 Topps blog. I'm waaaay behind on my 1960 blog. The idea of undertaking a new one is rather daunting. But nobody (that I have found) has blogged the set and I'd like to fill that gap. I'll try to come up with an idea for a simple way to do it.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Cards Just Because

When I go to a card show and dig thru boxes of cheap vintage I will sometimes  always  pull cards out that just strike me as cool. Either I like the composition of the card, dig the photo or get some pang of nostalgia from it. Happened again this past Saturday at the monthly (now twice monthly) hotel show.

Bob Turley was a favorite of my father and I think sometimes he was more enthused about seeing him pitch at Yankee Stadium than he was about Whitey Ford. We always got to the games early so I was very familiar with the Yankee Stadium batting cage. I wish I could figure out who that is behind him on this '61 Topps.

I had completely forgotten about his having won a Cy Young Award until I was checking his bio the last night. He was also #2 behind Jackie Jensen in MVP balloting after that terrific 1958 season. I was too young to remember his days with the fledgling '54 Orioles but he won 14 games on a team that only won 54 overall.

I already have a nice '61 Billy Pierce but if I ever decide to collect the set I need a dupe Pierce to slide into the slot on the binder spine. Now I have one. Plus it's another Yankee Stadium shot. I always like to think I was there the day they took these shots. This is classic Pierce.

I grabbed these two rookie related cards as well. Julian Javier has that great Topps top hat trophy and Fritz Brickell got the star that designated him as a rookie in 1961. I'm not sure that was actually the case (he played for the Yanks briefly in '58/'59). The real reason I bought the Brickell card was the 'windbreaker under the jersey look'. That used to be common. Not anymore.

Brickell's dad Fred was a big leaguer in the 20s and 30s. He died at the age of  54 the year his son's card was issued. Fritz died just a few years later of cancer at the age of 30 in 1965.

Breaking my pattern of 1961s was this Casey/Woodling '63 special. I like the original Mets' clean pinstripe look and the Polo Grounds background. Too bad had forgotten that I already had this card. I could have spent the 50 cents on some other vintage gem.

All in all another great Saturday morning spent with baseball cards. I sunk $85 into 1958s. Oh, did I mention that I'm now committed to collecting that one? Well I am. More on that soon.