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!

---------------------------------------------------------


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.


Thursday, October 3, 2019

My '74 Topps Tale of Woe

I had never really thought about chasing the Topps '74 set. Not hat there is anything I dislike about it. It's just that it didn't catch my eye..not then, and not in the years since. I remember picking up a pack or two at the discount store near campus. I usually bought a few in those days just to see what Topps was up to. And in the early 80s I completed the Orioles team set as well as picking up some San Diego/Washington cards.

Over the last few years I've put together several vintage sets, including some from the 70s. But '74 just never seemed 'in the cards' (pun intended). Then I happened to come across someone selling a huge lot of the thing at a very good price. I don't remember what the actual numbers were but it was a big enough group that I figured I'd get a large head start on a set I could finish for not much money laid out. Wrong.

The seller (this was not on eBay, BTW) was up front and mentioned that there were dupes in the lot. I should have asked 'how many dupes?' among some other questions that occurred to me later. I ended up with less than 1/3 of the set, multiples of multiples of those I did get, and a big stack of the Traded set. Seemed like I either got one copy of a card or 10 copies. That's an exaggeration, but not much of one.



But I decided to make the best of the situation and finish the set as cheaply as possible. The hotel card show yielded a ton of my needs, cheaply (thanks, Darryl). A Twitter friend helped with a stack, And of course, some fellow bloggers, Joe Shlabotnik and John of Johnny's Trading Spot hooked me up with some really nice ones (more on them in a moment).


As have the other sets I'm put together, the '74 has grown on me. I'm always in favor of team-related colors in the design. All the teams didn't quite get them, but many did. And lots of the 'stars' have really neat cards.


Topps seemed to have some issues cutting these things. The top edge of the Bobby Murcer cards is a good example.


This is one of my favorite Nolan Ryan cards. A nice action shot.


Dock Ellis' card has a pic that would be at home on a '57T (if you ignore the gold uni).


And here's my guy, Jesse Jefferson. Once, in a transaction not unlike this '74 Topps purchase, I bought a big stack of Orioles postcards, blind. About half of them were JJ. 👀


I mentioned Joe and John. I really appreciate their generosity. In keeping with the rest of this FUBAR build I did something I had (amazingly) not done previously with the many packages I've received over the years. I stacked their contributions on my desk but then, when a few from COMC arrived, I put the whole bunch in my set binder. Ergo, I can't acknowledge which cards came from which generous blog buddy. I'm a dolt, but a very grateful one nonetheless.

Thanks again to all who kicked in. I'm pretty much up to date on my needs list. The cards in italics are incoming.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

More Odds & Ends

More random stuff I grabbed from my 'to-be-sorted' boxes recently. Just going to toss in a few words on each as I await my Amazon delivery of a case of white binders. Once those arrive I've got some work to do!

First up, a George Brace photo of Billy Pierce.


There is nothing on the back except for Brace's ID of Billy P. in his usual manner.

Paul Richards' '51 Bowman is just so damn odd that long ago I had to go grab one. It's nothing like the painted photos that make up the rest of the set. There have been a few discussions on various card forums as to why Bowman went with a caricature instead of the standard photo but nothing has ever been decided as far as I can tell.


One of our usual haunts for cheap dinners out with the kids was a burger place near us that had a big selection of vending machines and video games. My boys took their loose change and always spent it all on sports team stickers and gumball helmets. I'm sure that's where this Bears sticker came from.


Dormand postcards are one of the great overlooked collectible of the 50s. Allie Reynolds, as I've mentioned several times, was my father's favorite pitcher. I'd have bought this even if that wasn't the case.


I found a stack of Dexter Press 5x7s in a box of photos. I have no idea where I got them from but it included Yaz, Al Kaline, Joe Pepitone(!) and this creased Willie Davis. Another under-appreciated issue.


It's about to be hockey season and I am pumped! I'm excited to watch the rebuild my Rangers are in the middle of. I already bought tickets for their game in Dallas in March. And for the first time in years I signed up for the Rangers package on NHL.TV! I have had MLB.TV for years and I realized that over the last two seasons I probably hadn't spent more than a couple of hours with it. I found the place where they buried their opt-out for auto-renewal and cut the cord.

Bailing on the Orioles for awhile might cause me to be viewed as a shitty fan but honestly I can't see pouring money into a 100 loss hole anymore.


This Topps Ripken medallion card weighs more than any card I've ever held in my hand. If I was 'Commish For A Day' one of the things I'd do was take Landis' name off this MVP award. I'd do that right after I decreed that the majors would no longer use 'superballs'.


I met Vince Young at the Roger Clemens charity softball game a few years ago. He just walked up to my wife and I and introduced himself. He's had a difficult time post-NFL. I hope things are good for him these days.


Lastly, a Ted Williams Company item. It's hard to tell from the picture but these are die cut faux-milk bottle caps. If you look at this cropped image you can see what is supposed to be the 'pull tab'.



When I was little we had milk delivered to our homes on Long Island and later in New Jersey. The bottles had these sort of caps on them under a paper shield that covered the top of the bottle. They've been reissued as 'pogs' and in various other forms over the years. Slurpee disks are sort of the same thing. Here is a picture of an original milk cap I found on the 'net. These are the type I remember and collected.


That's it for today's randomness. I think I heard my binders being dropped off!