Thursday, June 29, 2017

Orioles Topps Now '17 Season edition

Back in February I got the Topps email advertising their 'Road To Opening Day' sets. I'm sure most everyone reading this is on Topps' mailing list and got that email as well. I dismissed it immediately because I wasn't in the mood to spend $49 for the set. But then I noticed something odd.

The 'autographed' version, which was selling for at least $99 or more for each team was priced at $49 for the Orioles. I figured either a) it was a mistake or b) Topps didn't think much of the Orioles. But either way it was enough for me to go ahead and bite. I was guessing that if Topps caught the error they would give me a choice to buy at the real price or cancel. But nothing ever came of it. 

That is until I got this email:
Dear Customer, 
We are writing to notify you that there will be a delay in shipping out your Topps Now Orioles Opening Day Autographed set. We do expect these sets to ship in the next few weeks. We apologize for the delay and thank you for your patience
The Topps Now Team 
Wasn't sure what to make of that but the set showed up on Monday. And sure enough it had an autographed card:

I guess that's autographed. 'Scribbled on' might be more accurate but it was pretty much a bonus so I won't complain. And hey, it is Manny Machado.

I'll post the whole set here without a lot of comments. These are really and truly beautiful cards. Scans don't dur them justice. I'm the first to criticize Topps for many things...yes, Topps Now is geared towards 'big market' temas, it's pretty expensive on a single card basis, etc. But credit where credit is due: they make these things very attractive.

And the unsigned Machado card was included.

One last thing. The signed Machado came in it's own Topps Now cardboard sleeve and was wrapped separately. When I opened it I saw this:

It took me half an hour to get the card out of the case. Why? Because I had no idea magnetic cases were a thing. I thought it was some sort of new screw down holder and the metal deal was a weird safety mechanism. I even tried an Allen wrench on it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  If you look close you can see I scratched the case and even damaged it at the top near the tab or whatever it is. Live and learn.

Looking back I'm glad I only shelled out $49 on this set. At that price I think it's worthwhile. But not $99. Not for a guy who doesn't really collect signed cards.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Dome Sweet Dome

I saw more games in the Dome than in any other stadium and I had a love/hate relationship with the place. When it was full and the crowd was into the game it was really a rocking atmosphere. But no place I've been to could be as dead as the Dome during a meaningless, sparsely attended game.

A week ago I attended my first meeting of the Houston Chapter of SABR. I've been a member for a few years but never bothered to go to the monthly gatherings. The chapter is named for Larry Dierker and lo and behold he attended this meeting as a guest and I was seated right there with him. He was very cordial. He signed some items that people brought (I hadn't considered doing that for some reason) and participated in the discussions.

One of the items that was passed around at the meeting was the book shown at the top. I had a copy stored away and when I saw the one last week I was reminded of how cool it is. Nearly three hundred pages long it chronicles the short history of the Houston Colts/Astros, the building of the Dome and much, much more.

There is an Astros 'yearbook' incorporated into the thing as well as sections covering the MLB teams, all the NFL teams including a whole Oilers section. This despite the fact that the Oilers were still years away from moving into the Dome. Also in the book are pages covering a wide range of tenants the Dome was hosting including the Billy Graham Crusade, University of Houston football and the Houston rodeo.

It's really a remarkable volume and I wish I could do it justice with scans of more of it but I hate taking a chance of breaking the spine. I'll settle for pics of just a few pages.

I love this feature on the various colors of the seating levels.

I should have fixed this photo but with this and the next photo you get an idea of what the Astros' section looked like.

American League teams got one page each. The NL teams got a two page spread. There is a large baseball records section in there, too.

George Blanda and the Oilers! One of the speakers at the meeting reprised a locally famous quote from Oilers' owner Bud Adams: "The Astrodome may be the 8th Wonder of the World but the ninth wonder is the rent!". It took Roy Hofheinz and Bud Adams until 1968 to agree on a deal to get pro football into the Dome.

Meanwhile the U of H was playing football there. The Cougars get a nice section in the book, nearly a dozen pages. Our big star, Warren McVea is featured.

In the photo below you can see the late Phil Hoffman in the upper right. He was UH President in my first go round as a Coog. I have a funny story that involves him, me and some drunk friends of mine, an open dorm window and a water hose hooked up to a shower. I'll need to check to see if the statue of limitations is up before I get into it though.

And finally here's a page with a nice full color picture of some of the Astros' staff. I'm glad they got rid of those 'H' caps once the season started.

This post just doesn't do the book justice in any way. What a deal it was for just a dollar in 1965. I didn't pay much more than that many years later. You can find them for $10 or less pretty easily. Waaaaaay more entertaining than a Topps Now card at the same price.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

New Card Show Record

Yesterday was June edition the monthly hotel card show that I try not to miss. Attending the TriStar show last Saturday took a bit of the edge off. I'd wiped out my friend Darrell's cheap 1970 stash at that show so my main reason for heading across town yesterday was just to hang out and talk cards.

I got a late start because of the terrible morning weather and seriously considered not going at all. But I ended up making the 40 minute drive in the rain. I walking in with two things in mind. Getting lucky and finding some cheap 1970s (a long shot given the usual crop of part-time dealers that set up there) and finding some of the four current players cards I need for my fantasy binder.

A trip around the tables showed me that my 1970 quest would be as futile as I figured it would be. Darrell has spoiled me with his cheap but very presentable vintage. The stuff he sells me for a buck or two (and sometimes less) goes for $5 or more at these other tables.

So I went back to a table where the guy had jumbo boxes of current cards for ten cents a card. Mostly they contained those glossy chrome-ish parallels, semi-stars, anonymous Bowman rookies and Topps base set inserts from about 2012 on. I spent about three quarters of an hour shuffling through this mess and found three players I needed before my back gave out.

Now I had a decision to make. Am I going to just pull three dimes out and pay the guy thirty cents after spending most of an hour there? Or do I keep digging? Well I kind of did neither. I reached waaay back to the end of a row of baseball cards I hadn't gotten to yet and pulled out a huge handful. I went through them as fast as I could and dropped four almost random cards onto the tiny stack of the three I needed. then I did the same with his football cards. If a card made me hesitate for even a micro second I stacked it. In a minute or so I was done.

I somehow felt less guilty paying the guy for ten cards than I would have for three. Dumb, I know.

The Frank Robinson Archives card at the top is one of them. I'm sure it's a dupe but I didn't care. Anyway here are the other six:

I thought the signed Raul Allegre would bump whatever card I had of him in my football fantasy team collection. Sadly I realized tonite that I never had the guy on my team! I met Ray Childress in am elevator after his playing days. He was a lot smaller than I would have thought a defensive lineman would be. The Fernando is one of my favorite Stadium Club cards. I'll take a dime dupe of it any say.

So, to make a long story longer...I spent a whole dollar at the show. Never in my collecting life have I go to a show and only spent a dollar. Sixty mile round trip in the rain and I spent a buck. Sigh.

On the way home I realized my car phone charger had crapped out so I stopped at Target. While there I found two Matchbox Mustangs. 99 cents each. This pushes my collection to an even 10.

And when I got home I had a box waiting. It contained my displayed piece of the basketball court that the University of Houston's has removed as part of the renovation of the basketball arena (RIP Hofheinz Arena).

Back in the programs glory days when I worked there the arena had a Tartan flooring system in place. I'd love to have a piece of that but it's long gone.

All in all it was an interesting day. Hopefully by the July hotel show Darrell will have replenished his vintage stock!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Good Fight

I spend the last week or so in a race against a failing CPU as I scrambled to salvage everything from my desktop before it headed to the Computer Graveyard.

It was slow going and I'm lucky that I've been pretty good about backing up my stuff. There was only a couple weeks worth of scans, pictures and documents that needed to be saved. But when you have to reboot every twenty minutes it seems like a lot more than that.

Then it was a trip to Micro Center for a new machine and the real work began....getting this thing set up like I want it and wrestling my printer/scanner into submission. This will be my first post typed up on my new computer.

During the height of the shit storm that was changing machines I received a couple of packages in the mail. Both were similar in that they contained cards for my 1970 set build plus shiny Orioles. First we'll take a look at the one from Brian at Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary.

That 1970 Willie Stargell at the top had the (dubious) honor of being the first card scanned with my new set up. No card in history has probably endured more verbal abuse that that one. But it's a great card, right? I saw Stargell hit a simply ridiculous homer in the Astrodome in this 1972 game. It banged off the scoreboard in centerfield and sent the game into extras. The Pirates won in 17 innings.

I had a well worn Joe Morgan so this one from Brian is a welcome upgrade. I wish the 'Stros would go back to those 'shooting star' unis. They wore them as throwbacks a time or two a few seasons back. They are sharp.

A couple more '70s from Brian:

Bernie Allen and Cookie Rojas. Rojas' card isn't miscut like my scan makes it appear.

Rick Reichardt is #720 in the set, the end of the checklist. I only wish it was the end of my needs list! The smaller, cramped font Topps used for his position makes this card look odd.

Cisco Carlos always reminds me of my Strat-O-Matic playing days. He pitched for the White Sox and Senators which were always in my 6 team solo leagues.

Shiny Birds! Cal and Manny whose card is retina scorching for sure.

I wonder how many Bowman cards Topps produces every year. I have received a ton of these and no two are of the same player. The Donruss Cal Jr throws back to his rookie card design.

Thanks so much Brian!

The second package came from Fuji who is a fellow teacher and like me is enjoying a bit of a break from the grind.

Fuji's cards dovetail quite nicely with Brian's....70s Topps and some recent Birds. First up is a nice high number Jim Lonborg.

I had to look twice at the front of Lonborg's uniform shirt. I had forgotten about the red trimmed lettering the Bosox wore back then. Dressed To The Nines tells us that they wore these roadies from 1969 until 1972. 1973 marked the beginning of the doubleknit era and a new look for the Sox' jerseys.

Another 1970 is Padres manager Preston Gomez. He is most remembered for twice sending up a pinch hitter for pitchers who were hurling no-hitters. I hadn't remembered his partial season as Cubs manager in 1980.

The more I see of Dylan Bundy the more I think he looks like a young Tony Dow.

'Chromafied' Hyun-Soo Kim grabs a slot in the fantasy baseball binder.

Man this Adam Jones card is ..... bright! And that's clearly Camden Yards reflected on his batting helmet. You think Topps could call 'exclusive' on showing stadiums, too? I mean if you have to Photoshop out a team's colors is showing their stadium crossing the legal line as well?

Here's a Fleer Mickey Tettleton from 1990. That was about the last year I collected cards until a few years ago. It wasn't too long after this card was issued that baseball and I agreed to a trial separation.

I looked Tettleton up on Baseball Reference. I was shocked to find he was only an Oriole for three seasons. I'd have sworn it was double that.

Thanks so much Fuji. You and Brian are both among the truly good guys in this hobby. I appreciate your taking the time to send these my way and especially for chipping away at my 1970 set needs.

Final disclaimer: In the mess of the last week it's entirely possible that some of these cards got 'crossways' and I am crediting Brian for a card Fuji sent or vice versa. My usually foolproof system was pushed to the limit and beyond.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Shabotnik Retort

The Shlabotnik Retort...get it? Clever, yes? I sent Joe Shlabotnik something, he sends something back..a retort. I've been wanting to use that title! Woohoo.  OK, so much for that, let's look at what Joe sent me. 

Yes, that's the 1970 Carl Yastrzemski. This is one of a couple of needs Joe filled from this set build. It's moving along nicely. And one less star is on my needs list thanks to Joe!

This LBJ card comes from a 1976 Rainbo Bread set that was new to me. Doing a bit of checking sent me down a rabbit hole in which I discovered that Rainbo sponsored two separate but similar sets. One was this Presidential set and the other honored 'great' Americans. I now own the later but the Presidential set will have to wait for some free time.

5 Tool cards...the Topps subset. A natural for me. I don't have a checklist for them (though it would be simple to find it) but I do put them in my 'keepers' box when I get them.

Joe knows Score and sent me this Cal Jr. Was he ever this young? It's a great photo.

Modern cards of Orioles past and present, mostly Brooks!

The Heritage card (lower left of the four) uses the photo which was used on Brooks' 1957 rookie card. A question arose not long ago (in a comment on my blog I think) concerning the orange-ish background of that card. Did Topps pose Brooks in front of an orange backdrop? Did they re-color the sky for some reason? Looks like now we know.

Next come three UH athletes. I haven't added to my Cougar binder in awhile. Maybe this will motivate me.

You never see 'Clyde The Glide' in Cougar gear on a card so this is pretty cool.

And now for something totally unexpected. A Strat-O-Matic game Billy Pierce! I played Strat for decades and still have boxes of player cards from the 60s thru the mid 80s. Every once in awhile I'll pull out the game and give it a whirl. I'm not sure why it never occurred to me to add a Strat card to my Pierce collection. 

Stratheads will note that this card and the others Joe included (most of the '62 Giants team set) are from the basic version that doesn't include the advance version on the reverse. Leads me to believe that these are original cards and not from a reprint set. I only played the basic game, btw. 

I put the Giants (except for Billy Pierce of course) in my free agent Strat box. I use them when playing for fun. I just dig in and build teams from whatever comes out in my hand.

The rest of Joe's envelope was stuffed with Orioles, shiny and new and otherwise. 

Never knew that Bowman produced two-sided cards. Here's one. The back side is above. Hunter Harvey graces the front.

2017 Bunt. Heaven's light shines on Zach. Hurry back!

One of the great names in the game, Storm Davis. And one of my favorite 80s sets. Cards like this make me nostalgic for Memorial Stadium.

Foursome of Bowmans including an Adam Jones.

A Chrome Jones.

Next card is from when Machado was just a gleam in Orioles' fans eyes.

I don't know much about Jake Lemoine but his card is bright enough to light up a small city. Scan doesn't do it justice.

I think that wraps it up. A great group of cards from a great blogger! Thanks again, Joe!!