Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tales from the Card Show

OK, I really don't have any 'tales' of this past Saturday's hotel card show. I didn't even stay that long. But I did bring back a rather large piece of a set I've been working on (off and on) for a very long time...the Pete Maravich rookie from the 70/71 Topps hoops set.

It's a weird and wonderful set, maybe the last set I bought from packs before college life took over and I put collecting on a back burner. I'm waiting on an Amazon delivery of the six pocket sheets these cards require. I'm going to finally get this one organized and make an attempt to finish it in 2018.

It's also one of those sets in which the backs are more interesting than the fronts. The Pistol gets a glowing write-up on this one to go along with his vitals, his college numbers (he averaged over 44 points a game at LSU) and a cartoon that mentions that his father (Press Maravich) was his college coach.

I never saw Pete play in person as a collegian but I had just started working for the UH Rec/IM department when LSU played in a holiday season tournament against the Cougars in the Astrodome in 1971/72. Press was still their coach but the Coogs prevailed.

Speaking of the University of Houston....I was thrilled to see Case Keenum's magical moment on Sunday. That last play TD pass to Stefon Diggs and the ensuing media attention is something Case richly deserves after a long uphill fight to grab a bit of NFL glory. He was overlooked coming out of high school (UH was his only offer), ignored by the Heisman voters despite his eye-popping stats, spurned by the NFL scouts ('too small, weak arm, system qb' etc)and undervalued by the teams he played for. He's a class guy who deserves every second in the spotlight.

Houston's first alum to play QB in the NFL was this guy, Bobby Clatterback who was drafted by the New York Football Giants in 1954. He was a 27th round pick! He muscled his way past a couple of much higher previous picks to win the back-up job in New York and played for several years before finishing with the AFL's LA Chargers in 1960.

I guess finding his 1955 Bowman in the dollar bin at the show on Saturday should have tipped me off that Case was destined for a memorable weekend.

Almost all the hockey cards I add to my collection come through the generosity of fellow bloggers. But I managed to find a couple of Rangers in the bargain bins. Unless you were a Rangers fan in the 60s and early 70s it's hard to fathom just how popular Rod Gilbert was.

Jean Ratelle partnered with Gilbert and Vic Hatfield on a line known as the "GAG Line"...as in Goal A Game. When the Rangers traded him AND Brad Park to the Bruins for Phil Esposito I was beside myself.

These cards are from the 1969/70 Topps set. That was my last year to live in hockey country. I don't remember the stamps that apparently were inserts and were supposed to be applied to the back of the cards. The Cardboard Connection site says this:

Any card that has a stamp attached to its back will be considered to be damaged. 
To which I bull. Those stamps are awesome additions!

I grabbed a few other vintage cheapies as well. No specific reason other than I liked them and I knew that Darrell, the show promoter whose tables I haunt, would knock the price down to nearly nothing since I was buying the Maravich from him.

Love the old Browns uni and mascot on Lou Groza's 1955 Bowman. 

Of course Topps bought Bowman the following year and used the same pic on his '57 card.

Chuck Bednarik was famous for being a two-way player. He was a center and linebacker for the Eagles and was the guy old farts always mentioned when they were comparing the 'toughness' of then-current players and those of days gone by. I once bought a large print of the famous Bednarik photo of him standing over a KO'd Frank Gifford and was intending to mail it to him for signing when he passed away in 2015. He was a prolific signer who famously would inscribe a few lines about the hit. Check out the video below the '56 Topps I bought.

George Shaw's '56 Topps was one of several Colts cards I bought because they had a chance to be better than the ones in my All Time Colts collection binder. Shaw's card wasn't but one or two others were.

Finally I selected this 1956 Sandy Amoros. Why?  #1) I dig the set (who doesn't?) #2) It's got Yogi Berra there on the card, a fun guest appearance and #3) I'm sure someone out there needs this card.

That's pretty much all I could do in my short visit. I grabbed a few cards for some other bloggers but Darrell seems to have rotated his oddball box off his tables which was a disappointment. He had some real gems in that thing in months past. I forgot to ask him about it. 

The huge TriStar show blows through Houston next month. It's always fun to wander around a couple of hundred dealer tables of 'stuff'. Negotiating around the lines of folks waiting for the (seemingly) 4000 autograph signers..well that's a different story.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

1953 Red Man Tobacco Warren Spahn

I wish I'd had the chance to see Warren Spahn at his best. The huge windup and high-legged delivery were still in evidence when I finally was able to watch him in person in his final season as a player. He was no longer one of the most dominate pitchers of all time but he was still Warren Spahn and that was pretty cool.

I actually saw him twice in 1965, once as a Met and late in the year when he made one of the last starts of his career as a Giant at Shea Stadium. That game I saw him pitch as a Met was a loss to Don Drysdale and the Dodgers and came in front of one of the larger crowds I was ever a part of at Shea. I remember it because my friend's father explained how the Mets used a different ticket pricing scale for games against the Dodgers and Giants. This was the first I'd ever heard of that practice.

This Red Man card was an impulse buy from a dealer who had some very reasonable 1964 Philly Gum football cards. The sets (Red Man produced then for four consecutive years) are not difficult and in most cases not expensive either. They make for an easy way to add vintage stars to your collection. I guess they compare to the 1964 Topps Giants in that way. The ones without the 'tabs' along the bottom are even cheaper and who misses the 'tab' anyway?

I never really set out to become a Spahn collector but through the years I've really gained and appreciation for both him and his cards. I've joked in the past that Spahn cards are just collections of different angles...his cockeyed cap, crooked smile, bent nose and prominent ears make them unique. Add in the classic Braves unis and it's hard to pass up a Spahn card in a bargain bin or online at a good price.

It occurred to me as I typed this that this card is a 'night card'.You paying attention, Night Owl? My scanner did weird things with the back of this card. In hand it is just the usual color of 50's cardboard with a ghost-like hint of 'bleed-through' from the ink on the front. But my scanner gave me this:

I'm going to need to inventory my Spahn cards. I doubt I'll ever become a Spahn 'completist' in the same way I am with Billy Pierce but there are worse ways to fritter away one's retirement savings.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Jim Johnson's face sez it all

With the Jim Johnson Philly Gum card landing in my mailbox on Monday I'm down to just two holes in the binder. The Mike Ditka is en-route but the Bart Starr card is proving to be a victim of my cheapskate ways. More on that in a bit.

I grin every time I look at the Johnson card. Love that expression. It's like that football isn't really a football at all but a steaming pile of horse manure that he caught as a reflex.

That's just about the same look I had when I opened the envelope the card arrived in. The seller did what other sellers have done in the past and used junk wax era cards as 'stabilizers' to protect the one he was sending. Sadly he cello taped one of the extras to the outside of the card holder. My 'free bonus'* '92 Fleer Ultra Dave Winfield card ended up like this:

Strangely he used painters tape to attach a different Winfield in a penny sleeve to the other side of the holder. So I'm the proud owner of an intact 1990 Score Dave Winfield.

Yes, these are both dime box fodder but I still feel I'm allowed to while about the fact that I wish he'd have used the painters tape on the Score and vice versa. That Fleer Ultra is was a much nicer card.

Oh, I almost forgot the Bart Starr card story. The average price for an acceptable (to me) copy of Starr's '64 Philly Gum card is in the $35-$40 range. Two copies came up on eBay within the last few weeks that were well below that and each had a 'best offer' option. I low-balled 'em both. And had the offers rejected. And I was too stubborn (stupid) to accept counter offers. Live and learn.

*=added for clarity...these Winfields were used as "protection" by the seller.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Mars Attacks: The Revenge Sketch Cards

LOL...Yes, I realize that's probably the least appealing blog post title ever. But it's accurate. I've had these scans hanging around my scan folder for awhile and figured this was as good a time as any to post them. 

In 2017 Topps did a follow-up to their crowd-sourced Mars Attacks Occupation set. This one, MA Revenge, came as a boxed set with a couple of promised 'hits'. Of course I nabbed one.

I haven't posted anything from it. I really need to pull it out of the box and scan a few because it's pretty sweet. But since these were handy I'll do it backwards..here are some sketch cards I've picked up since the original box arrived.

The 'full size (2x3)' cards are all identical on the reverse. This is the back of the one shown up top. The artist is Dennis Gortakowski whose Facebook page shows that he's done a bunch of work on various Topps projects.

This next one is pretty similar. the artist is Wilson Ramos. No, not THAT Wilson Ramos.

This one is different and it's kind of fun. By Eric Kowalick who has done work on other MA series as well as on a bunch of Star Wars card releases.

This last one I picked up because it's obviously different than the run-of-the-mill sketch cards. They were called 'shape sketches' or something. Mine is done by Rich Molinelli. Like the others he's a veteran of the sketch card scene having done plenty of work on any number of SciFi franchises. He's more active on Facebook than his actual website.

Well that's a quick look at some pieces of the MA: The Revenge sketch set. I'll get some of the other pieces scanned and posted.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Oddball Set Being Oddball

The last time I went to the hotel card show (November?) I found a little unopened cello pack in one of the bins. I don't recall if it was the dollar bin or the quarter bin but either way I figured I shoud pick it up. The top card was this Barry Larkin.

I figured that the Internet's #1 Larkin collector, Chris of the Nachos Grande blog might not have it. Of course when I got home I checked his list and saw that he did indeed own a copy. But it's not a wasted purchase...I'm getting a post out of it.

I didn't pay much attention to the pack again until I decided to clean off my desk last week. From Duracell Batteries this thing just says "I'm a 90s oddball!" Unlicensed by MLB it does carry the MLBPA logo and therefore has any team logos removed. Back then non-MLB approved cards could be issued with the team nicknames.  At some point lawyers got involved and we ended up with the semi-anonymous, city-designated only Donruss/Panini sets we see today.

There were four cards in the pack plus a header card with a checklist. That checklist (it's at the bottom) told me that there were two series of these and that my pack came from Series II. The same four players travel together in each pack which Duracell called 'Sets'. This was set 5 of 6 issued as part of Series II.

A couple of sluggers came in this one. Gary Sheffield....

 ...and José Canseco. Yes, he got the accented 'e'. You don't see that very often, particularly on baseball cards from 1993.

Jack McDowell was also along for the ride.

The backs of my four cards had a portrait photo with capless players or a closely cropped pic that left the logo out of the picture. The stats go back five years.

Here is the header card. The set came free with a Duracell Saver Pack of batteries.

There was a mail-in offer on the back of the header card. I've blown it up a bit for easier reading. Each of the 'sets' is listed.

If I had a choice I'd nab that sweet Set #4. Hard to beat getting two of my PC guys (El Presidenté and Jim Abbott) plus Junior and Ryno!

BTW...I often wondered about the Young America, MN address. Seems like every coupon or redemption was headed that way. I finally checked it out and it's a real town. Wikipedia told me this (among other things):

In 1973, the Dile Corporation moved to Young America, and changed its name to Young America Corporation. They are one of the largest employers in the town, processing rebate, coupon, and other marketing programs for businesses. They receive a great deal of mail, enough that this small town has over 20 zip codes assigned to it. A main one is 55555.
And so one of life's little mysteries is solved thanks to a junk box card purchase.

BTW...if anyone wants these I'll throw them your way. Just say the word.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Batman Sketch Card and a couple of mystery Batman cards

I added a Batman sketch card before 2017 ended. I haven't been looking for them aince I filled up my designated pages but this one sort of fell into my lap.

Before I get to the card it's worth mentioning that one year ago today I was contemplating a return to this blog after a few months off. I did so later in January but I didn't really have my heart in it. And at times it showed. I'll try to do better in 2018. Maybe America can as well.

The Batman card is by Jeff Ward and I think I was the only bidder. Hard to beat one this nice for a buck plus shipping. Maybe I'll have to start a new binder page and find 8 more sketch cards. Maybe not.

These other two cards were sitting on my desk under some football cards. I think they were sent to me by Tom of The Angels, In Order blog. I scanned (and posted) the great Sky Box set he sent and I think I remember that he included these as a 'bonus'. I probably put them to the side and promptly forgot I had them. Getting old can be difficult.

But here they are now, better late than never. They are from Topps' 1993 Batman: The Animated Series set which is based on the show that ran from 1992 thru 1995. More great Batman art from a cool animated series. Not much for me to add.

This is card #1 (of 190) which the Trading Card Database describes as the 'cover card'.

This one I'm guessing is a promo card. There are several listed on TCD but not all have scans. So which one this is will take some detective work.

I'm at the point where I'm going to need a separate binder for my various Batman cards. That's not a bad thing.

Thanks again, Tom. I have a few things that'll be on their way to you this week.