Tuesday, May 21, 2019

It's hockey, baby

Tonight is Game Six of the Western Semifinals with the Blues leading the Sharks 3-2. As is usually the case the semis produce some of the most outstanding games of the playoff season (Boston-Carolina this year being the exception).

I'll likely head to Houston's Midtown and watch at the hockey bar there. I have a friend from St. Louis who will be there and it's fun to watch with a crowd.

Meanwhile, here are some hockey cards. Up top is the Howe 'family' card from the 1974-75 OPC set. It's one of my favorites. I posted it when I picked it up back in 2015. Lot's of great memories wrapped up in that one.

these next are new to me. They are part of an oddball set called the Superstar Heroes Inc set from 1992. I've seen these on a blog I think but I can't find them now. I picked this 12 card set up from a dealer's table at the last TriStar show for a few dollars.

These are so Broder-ish! And the backs are better produced than the fronts.

And Go Blues!! I guess. I am a Joe Thornton fan so I could get into him playing for the Cup in the Finals. 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Leaf Me Alone

Since sometime last year I've been rather casually gathering some cheap 1960 Leaf singles. I couldn't even explain why. Unlike with the 1961 set, for example, there wasn't one moment I can point to and say 'That's when I decided to collect the set'. It just sort of snuck up on me. No big multi-card lot purchase. No spotting it on someone else's blog and getting instantly smitten. One day I just picked up the stack I had on my desk and counted 35 or 40 of them. I realized then that I was too far gone to turn back. It was like the day long ago that I noticed my coffee table was covered with empty longnecks and Weller bottles. I was hit with the fact that I had a problem.

Much like that problem this new '60 Leaf thing is gonna cost me both time and money. But, unlike bourbon and Lone Star, it's not likely to kill me or land me in jail. This little (144 cards, give or take) set doesn't get much (any?) love from hobbyists. You almost never see it mentioned in publications, featured among auction listings, or displayed in dealers' showcases. Let's face it. it's not very popular. I guess I could have blown it off and just put the 40 or so cards I had (minus my Orioles) into a box and moved on. Hey, if I'd have given it much thought I'd have come up with this:

Reasons NOT TO collect the 1960 Leaf set:

  • It's a B&W set! Ugh.
  • Only headshots! Ugh
  • The checklist pretty much sucks! Ugh
  • We hated these back in the day! Ugh
  • High numbers and scarcities! Ugh
  • Errors and Variations! Ugh
  • Nobody wants to hear about it! Ugh (OK, I don't really care so much about this one)
  • Boring card backs! Ugh 
  • My scanner hates them! Ugh
  • Stupid Really stupid pricing! Ugh 
  • Dealers don't have them! Ugh
I'll deal with the list in a second. First, here is a repost of cards I picked up at the Dallas-area card show a few weeks ago...

That was a long list of reasons to not collect this one. B&W headshots are probably first on everyone's list of things to exclude from a baseball card set. Black and white had last been used in a mainstream set with the '53 Bowmans. And those babies had much more artistic photos. And the Leaf checklist is uninspiring. No Aaron, Mays, Mantle, Clemente, Koufax, Spahn...you get the idea. In fact, the included Hall of Famers are all in this post. That's not to disparage them in any way (love ya, Brooks!) but sprinkling in a few of their friends might have been nice.

When we spent out post-lunch recess time flipping cards in the St. Mary's School playground circa 1962 Leaf cards were not allowed. I distinctly remember that we felt they were old and dull. The backs packed a lot of info but they were as boring as the fronts. Wall of text, no cartoons.

And as I am quickly discovering there are some silly prices attached to the second series of these things. And the price points seem so damn random. Nowhere do I see references to any of them being short printed but sky-high price tags seem to stick to certain players for no apparent reason. Finding that the cheapest Gordon Jones on COMC is pushing $40 is discouraging, to say the least. the fact that I hardly ever see these things at shows means one good source of possibly cheaper copies (through bargaining) is out the window.

Then there are the actual variations and an error or two to deal with. The Al Smith(s) and Mudcat Grant are the most well known. The incorrect photos (other than Grant) were not corrected which avoids even more heartache. And getting the things scanned properly on my Canon takes a change in settings which is a PITA and once you post them nobody's gonna read the post anyway (not that this has ever stopped me from collecting what I collect!).

BTW... you can see what I said about not collecting these a few years ago by clicking here. That post has a link to the rather snarky PSA review of the set.

So I just spent four paragraphs convincing myself that I made a bad choice in starting this thing. What's the other side of the coin? Let's see...

Reasons TO collect the 1960 Leaf set:

  • I like it! 😇
Yes, I do. For all it's faults and lack of appeal I like it. I can't explain it, but I couldn't explain my high school girlfriend either. Sometimes you just do stuff, ya know?

OK, enough typing. here are the rest of the Hall of Famers.

Sparky Anderson was about 25 years old when this picture was taken. ╚(•⌂•)╝Yeesh. OTOH, Brooks Robinson looks almost too young to be a big leaguer. This has always been one of my favorite Brooks cards.

Here's the wall of text back I was mentioning.

I like the card number graphic.

The Genuine Baseball Photo bit is sort of charming.

The copyright line names Sports Novelties, Inc of Chicago. Nowhere is Leaf mentioned...

...not on the boxes or pack wrappers.

But back to the cards....

Hoyt always wore his cap like he was still in the service.

these next two cards are among my favorites, not only of the Hall guys but in the whole set.

And finally, Jim Bunning. Seems to have a rabbit under his cap.

So, I'm in too deep to turn around and swim out. Gotta just go with the tide. I'm at about 60% completion (88 of 145ish counting both Grants). The list of what I need is over in the sidebar. If you have any that you'd let go of on the cheap or would like to trade for other vintage stuff, gimme a shout.

Oh, one last thing. Here is a look at the marbles that came packaged with these in 1960. Might be fun to find a pack of these!


I meant to include a link to Jeff Katz' fun SABR Card Blog post on this set. I just looked at it again last night (I had left a comment back when it was published) but it slipped my mind today. Well worth checking out.

Johnny, of Johnny's Trading Spot, left a comment a bit ago and noted that he, too, collects this thing. I'm off to find his want list. I already know I don't have any dupes for Jeff. He's chasing the second series like me.

And finally, I want to give Whitey Herzog his well-earned due. He's a 2010 Hall of Fame inductee and has a (possibly airbrushed?) card in this set.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

A Good Week For Batman

I've added to my Batman sketch card collection with a couple of beauties I found and won via eBay. The artist, William Rivera, is awfully good, and very prolific! It's crazy how sometimes scans will make the piece being scanned look better. Not here. These two cards are far nicer in hand than they look in these pics.

And then yesterday I was at my old school helping during state testing days and an old friend and colleague gifted me with some terrific Batman display items. Again, a lousy pic of some really cool stuff. 

The action figure is about a foot tall. And I'm about at the point where I'm going to have to have a dedicated Batman display shelf. I'll have to get Alfred on that ASAP!

Thanks to my friend Harry for the Batman items. He's an artist and he's already contributed sketch cards he did especially for me. It's nice to have folks looking out for you, even when you're retired.

Monday, May 13, 2019

T'was a Nice Night for Baseball

Time do some more catching up with long overdue 'thank you' posts for cards I've received over the past month. 

Back in April, I met up with Bru, author of the Remember the Astrodome blog (and Twitter mainstay) at a college game on the campus of the University of Houston. Bru's Texas Aggies took on my Cougars under a beautiful sky and the game itself was close and well played. The Coogs won but I would have enjoyed myself just as much had the score been reversed because, well, good baseball, good weather, and the even better company makes things just about perfect.

We talked baseball in general and the hobby in particular. The icing on the cake was Bru handing me a nice surprise package of cards. The card stack featured some of his 'homeBru' customs. Now I make cards but they are just printed out on photo paper and stuck in my fantasy player binder. They are not presentable by any stretch of the imagination. OTOH Bru's cards are real cards... cardboard stock, two-sided printing, the whole nine yards.

The Scipio Spinks card was my favorite (maybe) but it was was just one of several fun ones. BTW, these are from his 'Accidental Mini' collection. Somehow the printer made these smaller than standard but that just adds to them I think. Spinks had one of the best names ever. And apparently, he is the Houston-area scout for the Diamondbacks. I bet I've seen him at UH games and never realized it. There are usually scouts with radar guns in the seats behind home plate.

A quick look at some of the others including the now DL'd Jose Altuve, fan fave, George Springer and Alex Bregman and my favorite Astro, Orbit.

I had to use a photo of those rather than a scan because the bright white borders sent my scanner into a meltdown of epic proportions!

Bru included a very nice throwback Joe Morgan.

This next one was a real doozy. The Astros put this set out under unknown (to me) circumstances in 1967. I recently found an uncut sheet of the set at a card show but this single Cuellar is a perfect fit in my Cuellar PC.

Exhibit #1 in the case for full bios/stats on the backs of cards:

In 1960 Cuellar split his season between Havana, Cuba and Jersey City, New Jersey. Think about that for a bit.

Dylan Bundy...Destiny's Child Baltimore version.

And next, we have a couple of shiny Adam Jones cards. I've said all I'm gonna say about AJ.

These next two cards are fun. Nice to see Topps show some old school guys, not in the usual photos. 

That's Joe Nolan warming up a pitcher in the background of Jim Palmer's card.  

The final piece of Bru's gift package was this ticket from Game 2 of 1983 AL League Championship game. The Orioles won that one 4-0 behind Mike Boddicker's nifty five-hitter. Looking at the play-by-play of that one gives you some idea of how baseball has changed. Boddicker hit Greg Luzinski to lead off the top of the ninth leading by those four runs. Tom Paciorek (of the University of Houston!) followed with a single and then those two guys moved up on a ground out. After getting Mike Squires to bounce one back to him for the second out, Boddicker walked Jerry Hairston to load the bases. Just how many pitching changes would we have seen in  2018 playoff game under those same circumstances? Make it a 2017 Astros game and you'd be watching at least 20 trips to the mound by Brian McCann.  Anyway, in 1983, Joe Altobelli let Boddicker figure it out on his own and he whiffed Julio Cruz and the Orioles evened up the best-of-five at a game each.

At that point I began making tentative plans to head to Baltimore from here in Houston for the World Series. This ticket makes a great companion for my '83 World Series tickets.

So, as noted, it was a fun night all around. Thanks again, Marc. Let's do it again!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Catching Up

I'm a bit 😎 ok..really far behind in posting some stuff I've received over the past month or so from other bloggers, both in the mail and in person. Time to fix that.

I can always count on Joe Shlabotnik to remind me that, for better or for worse, I'm an Orioles fan. And these days it's for worse but that's OK. I'm far enough along in life to realize that the outcome of games isn't all that important. The sun still rises every day. But enough schmaltz, let's look at cards.

I was happy for Chris Davis when he finally got the huge monkey off his back last month. He handled the whole hitless streak about as well as any player could. He seems like a very good guy and it's nice to see that he's even begun to swing the bat better and have some luck as well. He deserves it.

Nothing says 90s baseball card like gold foil. That's actually the front of the Norm Charlton card.  The 'Online' bit reminds me of my mother-in-law who uses that term for everything internet-related. As in "Can you come over and see why my online isn't working?" and "Can I see the online on my phone?" Hmmmm.

I had no idea who Bryan Bass was but his card has some nice bronze foil. It's from 2001 but UD was still in 90s mode.  BTW...Bass was a prospect out of Florida who banged around the Orioles chain for about seven years. His career, which began in 2001, came entirely during my time away from paying attention to baseball.

Speaking of my time away from baseball...

I came in at the end of Brian Roberts' career.  I had seen him play in Baltimore in 2005 in my first trip to Camden Yards and it was a 'who are these guys?' night.

Joe included some really great cards of recently and not-so-recently departed Orioles...

Has anyone gone from good guy to dispised as quickly as Manny Machado?  That's OK, I'm still a Machado guy.

I watched a bit of an Arizona game the other day. Looked odd with Adam Jones in that terrible dark gray uniform.

With modern card designs that mimic old designs nowadays, I frequently have to turn them over to see if they are actually older cards. This Leaf Eddie Murray is original.

Well, obviously this Heritage one is modern.

Did Topps sue UD over this.....

Either way, UD did a nice job of mimicking the '71 design.

There were plenty more baseball cards in Joe's envelope but let's skip to hockey and another of my teams that is in a rough patch, the New York Rangers.

I don't think I've scanned cards that were partially clear plastic before. These two Upper Deck cards didn't scan half bad but they are much nicer in hand.

And let's wrap it up with the most fun card in the bunch...it's my favorite mascot, Orbit!

All that adds up to about a third of what Joe sent. I'm getting some stuff together for a return and I'll try not to procrastinate much longer.