Sunday, November 3, 2019

In the Nick of time

Just last week I was bemoaning the fact that I hadn't added anything to my PCs in quite some time. Then came a completely unexpected and very neat surprise.

These custom cards came to me from Nick Vossbrink who is both a Twitter friend and blogger of many interests, particularly baseball and photography.


These are great, yes? I really like the team-oriented colors and terrific photos Nick used on these. That 'ump view' shot of BP throwing a Spring Training pitch is amazing. It just came up someplace recently, Twitter maybe? I'm sure Nick has the story. It's got a 'Life Magazine: Baseball Is Back!' vibe to it.

And here is Brooks...


That's a classic photo from the 1970 Series.

Nick gave these the full career stat-back treatment which I appreciate even if I have come to need a magnifying glass on my desk in my old age.

And then there was this:


1981-style Oddjob! Toshiyuki 'Harold' Sakata was the Hawaiian-born actor who played one of the most memorable roles in any Bond movie as Goldfinger's henchman/manservant. Sakata packed a lot of living into his 62 years. He was an Olympic weight-lifter (Silver medal winner for the USA in 1948), pro wrestler and actor.

Pretty darn clever of Nick to use the '81 card design that features hats as Oddjob's bowler was his 'calling card' as it were. This makes a really fun addition to my actor/actress binder. If you aren't a Bond aficionado check out this clip which sums up Oddjob's role pretty well.


Many thanks to Nick for these fun customs.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Collection Status...Part Two

Last week I posted about my progress with my primary set projects. I'll take a little time today to focus on the rest of what I'm working on these days. Public Service Announcement: Slabbed cards in this post will be freed as long as I have a binder page that will fix properly. (That's a PSA..get it? PSA? The grading company. Hell, never mind)

Player Collections, etc.  Nothing new on the Billy Pierce front. I add some oddball items from time to time but the 'White Whales', like his '59 Bazooka card, remain beyond the range of my harpoon.  I do grab vintage of him from cheap card boxes at shows. I just think I hate seeing him in quarter boxes, so undignified! LOL


My PC/Orioles Stars binder has fallen into disrepair lately. That'll get re-done in the next few months. Meanwhile, I discover fun stuff like this Dennis Martinez card by reading other blogs (thanks, Fuji!). It was pretty cheap on eBay and it just showed up.

Likewise, my University of Houston alum cards were put up in a box when I turned my hobby room into a nursery! After all these years I will re-binder them and fill in some gaps, next year probably.


Small/Oddball Sets I recently came across a box I had put away that continued a load of stuff like small Orioles sets, TCMA team sets, 1980s era Kmart and similar 33-card boxed sets, etc, etc. Some of those need to be bindered, many will just get broken up into teams and sent to fellow bloggers. Some will get burned in the fire pit.

Houston Aeros Over the last few years I've pulled this one on and off the 'back burner' of my collecting. Aeros games were fun, cheap entertainment back in the day. My friends and I made it to lots of them, particularly at the old Sam Houston Coliseum in downtown Houston.



A few years ago I decided to collect their team sets from the few companies making WHA cards back then. I already owned the Howe cards so finding the rest wasn't hard. I have all the base Aeros cards from the various O-Pee-Chee sets. I have a couple of the Quaker Oats cards and a few of the 75/76 team issued set. Those latter two sets are very tough.



I also add a few 'retro' set Aeros when I come across them cheap, mostly Gordie Howe cards on which he is shown with Houston.



More hockey...once I finish going through my boxes of stuff and sort out the Rangers I have I may try to finish some team sets.



Non-Sports Cards This covers so much that I will break it down, mostly for my benefit. I think I need to re-assess where I'm going with these. 😏

Batman I have the three original Topps 1966 Batman sets, red, blue and black bat. There are dozens of modern Batman sets and I have a handful. I made it a point to buy the boxed sets that were associated with the first Batman movies. I am nearing 50 Batman sketch cards. Every few months I'll remember to check for cheap sketch cards on eBay. I added this one for a few bucks some time back. I have no current 'goals' when it comes to my Batman collecting.


More or less related to this... my Civil War News set has long been finished. Once in a while I find an upgrade. Topps continues to add to the Mars Attacks franchise. I have several of the reprint/update/continuation sets from this franchise. 


Presidents I finished off a couple of JFK sets in the past two years and am currently working on the '64 Topps LBJ/Goldwater set. I have exactly half of the 66 cards and little hope of finishing it anytime soon. They don't pop up often for sale/auction online.



My vintage Topps/Bowman presidents cards are in a small box, unorganized. That needs fixing. I also have several oddball sets of Presidents/famous historical figures which need bindering. My hodgepodge of oddball & modern presidential cards (Panini, European etc) also needs sorting.


Entertainment My pursuit of the Topps Soupy Sales set has been very slow. Once I found that each card has different possible backs (Topps flipped the sheets in the middle of the press run apparently) I backed off. I need to figure out what I have and what I need which is tough with the cards being unnumbered and the backs being unrelated to the fronts. Ugh.


I continue to add actress and actor cards, from the old tobacco sets thru 'fan' sets of the 50s and 60s. I bought a small lot of Exhibit cards of actresses recently. There is no goal or checklist for this stuff. I just pick up what I like when I find it at reasonable prices.

I came across some boxes of Stranger Things 1 & 2 packs really cheap. My wife and I really enjoy that series, so I bought the boxes. They are under my desk, waiting for a rainy day. 

Baltimore Colts Collection  I still lack some Fleer Super Bowl cards but those are not a priority. I do come across oddball and retro cards here and there.


I have a lot of new postcards and publications but I'm sticking mainly to cards with this post. Those will have to wait for another day.

Monday, October 21, 2019

1973 Topps Kickoff



As noted in my last post, I'm far enough along with my '74 and '57 sets that I can start to deal with what is likely my last set build for a while.

As has occurred a few times before, this one sort of fell into my lap via a starter lot that I couldn't pass up. Prior to coming across that box, I'd never really given any thought to collecting it other than in a general, 'I'd like to do more 70s sets' kind of way.

1973 was an interesting year in America, more interesting than the '73 Topps design for sure. Secretariat, the GOAT of racehorses, won the Triple Crown. George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees. LBJ passed away. Spiro Agnew resigned as Veep. The Orioles won the AL East but someone else won the World Series, I forget who it was. ;-) The World Trade Center and the Sears Tower opened in NYC and Chicago, respectively. The Watergate hearing began. And OJ Simpson ran for 2000 yards, the first NFLer to do so.


The box (unlike that damn 1974 starter pile) had about 300 cards in it, and (hooray!) no dupes.  It included many star cards and overall the cards were in nice shape. It's probably the first starter lot I've bought which lacked any cards that immediately said: "upgrade me!".

Factoring in the Orioles team set I already had plus some stars I've picked up though the years I'm at 341 of 660 cards, about 52%. When I was done sorting and check listing I wound up with about 25 dupes, almost all were stars and Orioles. All the cards in this post are part of my stack of dupes and some are a bit rough around the edges, literally.


The only 'high ticket' card is, of course, the Mike Schmidt rookie. But I've been lucky in the past in finding reasonably priced  star/rookie cards and hopefully the Schmidt won't be the exception.


There is also a set of unnumbered team checklists almost identical to those that were issued in 1974. They are cheap and easy to find.


There are a few 'errors/variations' in the set, different coloring for some managers/coaches cards and 'broken' black borders around the photos on a few others. Nothing that sounds like it needs to be included in my binder.


That Mike Marshall card is interesting in that he had been with the Expos since 1970 and yet Topps airbrushed a photo of him in a Tigers uni. His days with Detroit ended when he was drafted by the expansion Pilots in October of 1968. So the photo is from spring training of '68 at best.


This is one of my favorite Boog Powell cards. Classic Powell swing on a bright Baltimore day with batboy Jay Mazzone in the background.


Like the Bob Moose card, this Lindy McDaniel is a dupe because I casually collect their cards. He was in his 19th season in the bigs and his 160+ innings were the second-most of his career.

I've put my '73 want list over in the right-side column. If you can help me out let me know. I'm sure we can work something out!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Set Build Update

This sort of thing doesn't mean much to anyone else but sometimes I need to pause and take stock of where I am in my set building. It helps me to zero in on what I need to look at and determine what project, if any, I can look at tackling next.

The three sets I'm actively working on with expectations of finishing in the not-too-distant future are:


1957 Topps Baseball. I am at 391 392 of 407 in the base set (96%). Of the sixteen I need only the Sandy Koufax is high dollar although the others are also in the semi-scarce 4th Series. (Since I began typing this yesterday I've won an auction for the Koufax card.) Still, these are not hard to find and only a few dollars more than the rest of the set's commons. I figure to have this one 'complete' by the end of the year if I can make the hotel shows between now and then.

Once I'm done with the 407 'regular' cards I will add the four unnumbered checklists and possibly the three 'contest' cards I lack. I consider the checklists to be part of the set but I may be content to binder just the single 'contest' card I own.

I have several cards in this set that could easily be upgraded. My friend Darryl has a new supply of '57s in really nice shape. I'm going to have an upgrade list ready for his next hotel show.



1974 Topps Baseball. My want list shows twenty cards. Eleven of those are 'Washington' variations. One is a 'variation of a variation' (#599C which is a font difference on a 4 player rookie card that has both a Washington and San Diego version). Factoring in some cards that have been put aside for me by a fellow blogger I have four empty slots in my binder. Only the #1 card of Hank Aaron has any cost attached. I've just been fussy about getting a decent copy on the cheap.

As with everything else concerning this set build, figuring out a percentage is complicated. I have the full Traded set and one copy of all the unnumbered team checklists. I am ignoring the 'star variation' on the reverse of those. And I have representative pieces of the inserts. I need nine 'Washington' cards (two of the eleven on my want list are promised). I have both versions of the Alou and Apodaca 'errors'. Let's call this set 98.5% done. Let's also call it a pain in the ass.



1969 Topps Football. This set (thankfully) is pretty straightforward. I have 222 of the 263 cards (84%). There is one silly error/variation, the 'red dot/yellow dot' Jim Turner card. I have one of them and I'm not too concerned with the other. Only the Csonka rookie card among those 41 I need is anything more than a common. I'll have this one done by years end if I don't get lazy. I have a wrapper and a couple of the '4 in 1' inserts.

This next set is a long way from being completed. Not because I need a ton of cards, but because they are pricey and not available at shows very often.




1960 Leaf Baseball. This is the black sheep of post-war vintage sets. It's not very popular and the 'second series' is scarce and costly on a per card basis. Try asking a dealer at a show if he or she has any 1960 Leaf. LOL You get 'the look'. Sigh.

There are 144 cards on the checklist plus the corrected Jim Grant/Brooks Lawrence wrong photo error. I have 100 of the 145 cards (69%) including both Grants. The 45 I lack are all part of the scarcer 'second series' and routinely list for over $20 a shot, much more in some cases (thanks, Yankee tax!). I've been trolling eBay lately and have found a few 'bargains' in the $8 to $12 range but those are rare. At the rate I'm going I figure to finish this, well, never. But everyone needs a goal, yes?

My other ongoing project:



1961 Topps Stamps. My other 'ugly duckling' chase! Topps issued 207 unique stamps plus a second Al Kaline. I won't go back over the oddity of this thing (some teams have more stamps issued than spots for them, other teams with fewer stamps than spots)but if you are interested you can check out this post I did in 2018.

The bottom line is that I need 42 stamps to fill the maximum slots in the album. I'd need 72 stamps to have a copy of each one issued. My goal is to just fill the album.

My effort to achieve that has been stalled lately. COMC has been my best bet for finding stamps but nothing I need has come up lately. Like the 1960 Leaf set these things never show up on dealers tables except for a few superstars like Mantle and Mays. But digging and scrounging keeps me occupied. Gluing that final stamp into the album is going to become cause for celebration!

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My lists of needs for these sets can be found over on the right side column. Any help is most welcome.

I also have some other ongoing set chases (sports and non-sports) and player collection needs and I'll delve into them next time.

Oh, I did mention upcoming projects. I've gotten suckered into one with another blind buy of a card lot. Hopefully this goes better than the '74 chase. Here is a hint...




Wednesday, October 9, 2019

1997 Upper Deck Legends of the NFL

Football sets don't get much love on the blogs, particularly non-vintage sets. Here's one that deserves some. I think this '97 Upper Deck Legends was one of those sets that people purchased for the 'hits' (signed cards) and then just sold off the base cards cheaply. I believe I stumbled across it at a show at a bargain price. I've featured some of these in prior posts but never really looked at the entire set.

However I got it, I'm glad I did. The photography is terrific. Lots of classic shots like this one of my former 'Public Enemy #1', Joe Namath.


I'm sure there is a term for what my scanner does to the pics but I'm not a photo nerd, so I have no clue. But, believe me, they look sweet in hand. Upper Deck had its faults but finding and using beautiful sports photos wasn't one of them. Stadium Club gets accolades (deservedly) for its use of unique and beautiful photographs. But UD had its share of nice sets as well.

There is a high nostalgic value to the set for me certainly. This Tittle card, maybe my favorite in the set, reminds me of watching late afternoon Giants games with my father. BTW..sideline capes are simply not getting enough use these days.


Bart Starr was another guy who was on my youthful 'enemies list'. He was the focal point of the hated Packers. But looking back over time I've come to appreciate his greatness. I can hear the late, great CBS (and Packers) broadcaster Ray Scott with his minimalist play calls..."Starr.......... this is Dowler..... touchdown."

Not every card is of a quarterback, obviously


Scattered thru the set are some of those classic old school pix that appeared on cards. Helmet-less pulling guards...


...and helmet-less receivers doing their thing.


Speaking of the Bears this picture of Mike Singletary perfectly sums up his approach to the game.


As does this one of my guy, Mike Curtis.


The set is dominated by color shots but some great B7W cards appear throughout.


The backs have full career stats and a small write-up and career highlights. The photo used on the reverse is sometimes the same as the one on the front, but not always.



The set consists of 208 cards, the final 30 of which are 'Super Bowl Memories' and this subset has a different design.


If I had a quibble it would be with this next 10 card subset.


The Legendary Leaders include coaches and pioneers which is a fine idea. But choosing to use a different design detracts from the overall set. At least it does for me when I'm flipping through the pages. That shot of Lombardi would have looked better using the set's basic design. Maybe grouping them together would have been the way to go but in any case it's a small thing and the set doesn't suffer much as it is.

I mentioned autographed cards. Most of the 178 player cards were available in an autographed version. Apparently not all the players returned the cards in time but most did. The signed insert versions have a back that states that it is the authorized signed version. I decided to just find a binder page worth of these. They are not rare and many are very reasonable. I'm at six and I'll add three more on my next COMC visit.

Here are three of mine. I had bought this Lenny Moore card sometime back as a supplement to my Colts collection.




There is more to the set than I have time to write about, other available subsets, 'jumbo' cards which I assume were box toppers and so on. Cardboard Connection has a very thorough summary and delves into the similar sets UD did for other sports.

Football card folks really should look into this if they haven't already. Of course, as with most hobby stuff, I'm probably the last guy to have figured this out and its old news to everyone else. :-)

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Pages of Talent

One of the really fun things about putting together smaller vintage sets like the '57 Topps is the incredible concentration of amazing players that get grouped together on binder pages. If collecting encased, graded cards is your thing, that's fine. But for me there is nothing like flipping through a set and just seeing stars on top of stars.


The first two pages in this wonderful set are perfect examples. Here's the very first one:


Teddy Ballgame, Yogi, Aparicio, all Hall of Famers. Plus some really talented 'other guys'....Sal Maglie, Don Mossi (a blogger favorite!), Dale 'Eight Straight Dinger Games' Long and one of my Dad's favorites, Hector Lopez. BTW... I'm looking to upgrade that Maglie.

And when you turn that page you're faced with this...

Willie Mays, Robin Roberts, Don Drysdale the underrated Dick Groat and three, count 'em, three Orioles!!  Here's something I bet you didn't know...Groat is the color guy on Pitt Panther basketball broadcasts.


I bit deeper into the binder comes this one...


...Bob 😒 Clemente, Gil Hodges, Jim Piersall and Lindy McDaniel. Those bottom three cards are all beauties, yes? And don't overlook George Crowe. He had an interesting and accomplished life. His SABR bio is well worth the time it takes to read it.

OK, so this last page doesn't have the star power of the other three but I'm including it because it holds the cards of three players I love, Warren Spahn, Moe Drabowsky and Ellie Howard. Not to mention a great card of Larry Doby.


As I zero in on the last couple of dozen cards I need to finish off this set it's really becoming a favorite. I didn't appreciate it nearly as much going in as I do now. I'm really glad I took it on.