Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Project Post inspired by Night Owl

A week ago Night Owl posted about his various hobby projects and that post spurred quite a few other bloggers to do the same. I'm kind of late to the party as usual. I had a very similar post in the works for awhile so NO's entry got me to dust it off and revise it for posting today.

My MO is to be working on a 'primary' project (likely a vintage set) while having others churning in the background. Those secondary ones are usually just my long term PC searches. That's pretty much where I am at the moment. Truth be told though I'm spending most of my time on a project that isn't directly hobby related but certainly will effect my collecting. More about that at the bottom. First things first.

Here is my primary project right now:

1970/71 Topps Basketball

I'm enjoying the ride on this one. It's challenging without being impossible. I'm in need of 32 cards to complete the 175 card set. Plus I'd like to nab the Checklist Two variation. I've got the biggest names knocked off, at least in terms of their regular cards. I need a few All Star cards and some second tier stars. The rest of what I lack are mostly short-printed common players.

I was happy to pick up a very nice Wilt Chamberlain last week. It was significantly less expensive than other examples in similar shape. Patience pays off.

In the same transaction I grabbed these two. The Championship Series cards which land at the end of the checklist command a premium about equal to a semi-star card. May be because NY and LA stars appear on the fronts.

My secondary, ongoing projects:

T206 Baltimore Players

Here's a word to the wise: If you get your checklists from the 1977 edition of the Sports Collector's Bible you are likely going to end up disappointed.  Trust me on this. Years ago I wrote down six cards from Bert Sugar's book into my wantlist thinking they were the Baltimore Orioles represented in the iconic T206 set. Over the course of a few years after I began looking I was able to acquire all six. Turns out that there were nine! I only found this out recently. Luckily none of the three Orioles I was missing were stars or otherwise hard to find.

This card of Sammy Strang is one of the 'missing' three. I picked it up not long ago on eBay. Strang had played 10 major league seasons, mostly with the Giants. He played on their championship 1905 squad and got one at bat in the World series against the Athletics. He led the NL in On Base Percentage in 1906. He finished his career with three seasons in Baltimore with the Eastern League Orioles. He played both the infield and outfield. After his playing days Strang, whose father was a baseball executive, served during World War I and later was a minor league manager and coached baseball at West Point and Georgia Tech.

I hope to complete this small group of cigarette cards in the next few months.

Player Collections

I always look to add to my player collections. I have too many of them for sure and only a few are really being actively pursued but I get a lot of satisfaction from building them. 

My Billy Pierce collection is at a point where the last pieces are going to take some time. There are only a couple of vintage pieces open on my checklist. One is his 1959 Topps Venezuelan #156 Ace Hurlers card that he shares with Robin Roberts. The other is his 1959 Bazooka card. It's an SP and doesn't show up often and when it does it is out of my price range. The other things I look for are 'one offs' and oddballs like ballpark pins and team issued postcards. These things are difficult to checklist and may not even exist. I find press photos all the time but I just don't buy every one that comes along. Outside of those two cards I mentioned I figure my Pierce collection is complete. Of course there are also cards issued post career by Topps and other companies. I collect them as well but do so without a lot of effort or zeal. The ones from Topps use the same photo over and over (sound familiar to you Koufax collectors?) and the differences are just silly in my eyes.

This card, the 2011 Topps 1952 Black Diamond Pierce autograph card, is an example of that sort of thing. It's probably the most costly of the lot and I shouldn't have picked it up but whatcha gonna do? I don't know how collectors who chase some of the more popular players deal with stuff like this. 

A couple of years ago I read Chief Bender's biography and found him to be a fascinating baseball figure. Since then I've tried to collect his cards. Obviously many of them are very pricey and will never find their way into my collection but combing through eBay for bargains is fun. Right now I have about a half dozen vintage Bender cards. This 1940 Play Ball was issued after his career was over obviously but it's still a great card.

Other player collections...Elston Howard, Johnny Callison, Bob Moose, Juan Pizzaro, Connie Hawkins, numerous Orioles and Baltimore Colts players and several more are all checklisted to one extent or another. I poke around at card shows and online and add things that I come across but none are complete nor am I confident that my checklists are even accurate. That's a long term project.

After ignoring many of these collections for awhile I checked a few of my eBay saved searches recently and found this Bob Moose ARCO collectible. It's an 8x10 photo and I like that the back mentions his no-hitter that I witnessed at Shea Stadium in 1969.

The Baltimore Colts

As with Billy Pierce I don't have much in the way of vintage mainstream cards to find for my ongoing Colts collection. Just a few of the Fleer Super Bowl cards and a Topps premium/insert or two remain. In the meantime I pick up the stray modern card of Baltimore Colt players and oddball pieces that turn up here and there. I had this this on the front bumper of my '64  Malibu SS back when I was tooling around campus back in the 70s. That is until a cop stopped me and informed me that I needed to put my state-issued plate back on or get a ticket. I since lost the Colts plate but found came across it in my garage a year or two ago. It now sits proudly on my office wall.

Non-Sports Sketch cards

I've set this aside for the time being. Every few weeks I check eBay for Batman and Mars Attacks sketch cards but not much has surfaced that looks nice (and affordable enough) to go after. I won't call these 'complete' but I am satisfied with what I currently have. The same can be said for my pins and postcards. I'm in a holding pattern at the moment. 


I've finished my goals for the most part. I have a straight run of Orioles yearbooks and media guides from 1954 through today with the exception of the '54 and '56 guides. I collect game programs but have never worried about having one from each year. Maybe one day I'll see if I'm close to a full run. I'm pretty sure I am. My Baltimore Colts media guide collection is complete. As with the Orioles I dabble in game programs but don't have very many. I have spent some time working on my New York Rangers publications lately. I have about half of their Blue Book/media guide run that they began in the early 60s. I'll never finish it but filling in the gaps in my 80s and 90s shelves is cheap enough.

Fantasy Sports Collection

I have been running a fantasy football league for college friends and some new arrivals since 1980. I've been playing fantasy baseball in multiple leagues for about the last seven years. Every player I've ever 'owned' on all those teams is represented in my fantasy baseball or football binders. Sometimes I've had to make my own custom cards, sometimes I've bought custom ones on the net. But the vast majority are actual cards and my goal is to have as many different sets represented as possible.

The only current cards I seek out are those of my players. This '18 Heritage card of Alex Colome came in my only pack of this year's Topps I've bought. It will push out his '17 Topps card since I have a bunch of those in my baseball binder.

Over on the football side I'm always looking for cards of players who are now represented by those custom cards. A real card, even a throwback always bumps a custom. But I doubt I'll see Elton Veals or Kyle Mackey for example in a Donruss or Score set anytime soon.

With this year's baseball draft coming up in a couple of weeks I'll be back in the market for singles of my players. I wish I had the internal fortitude to wait until the season was over and nab each one in a single transaction on COMC. Not happening I'm afraid. I'm too anal. I need a card of the guy I picked up on waivers NOW! The good thing is I've stockpiled a 400 count box of current players so hopefully that'll cover most of my players.

My next project:

1962 Topps(?)

I told myself I wouldn't take on another vintage Topps baseball chase after I finished the 1970 set. And I'm not sure I really will. But the itch is still there. I recently picked up a small '62 Topps lot. through a collector I know via an online forum. The cards are in 'collectible' condition (for me that's VG or better) and came pretty cheaply.

Even in my weaker moments when I was thinking about a new project I hadn't really considered the '62 set as a goal. It's not terribly popular (but that might make it more easily obtainable). Plus I was leaning towards 'bookending' my '59-'60 run with either the '57 or '61 set if and when I did give in to my urge. I also considered doing the '1966 set to commemorate the Orioles first title.

If I do take on the '62 set I have a decent head-start. I have the Orioles of course, some stars and dupes of guys in my PCs. Plus I have the starter lot now. Darrell at the hotel card show has plenty of these in his bargain bins and always cuts me a good deal. My secret weapon though might be my friend Bobby who has a boatload of all the early '60s sets and could probably be persuaded to sell me some dupes. His cards are in remarkable condition.

There is no urgency to this one. A vintage set chase is a big commitment in terms of cash and time. I still might back out. 

My over-riding and most urgent project

Organization and re-claiming space!!

I mentioned above that I've run a fantasy football league for almost four decades. This fall we will play our 39th season. For most of that time I printed and saved all sorts of statistical stuff. Sometimes it was for or five pages a week or more. That's not counting draft and transaction histories, rosters etc. And until about 2007 or so I produced, printed and mailed a weekly newsletter to all the owners. And I've kept every single scrap of it in binders. Those binders took up multiple shelves and I had more sitting in the top of my closet. I finally decided enough was enough.

A few weeks after I retired in December I began a long term project to get rid of it all. I pulled all the binders, culled out the multiple copies of some stat sheets I kept and began a huge scanning project. I'm turning the whole mess into digital format. I tried out different .pdf freeware programs and have settled on a good one. Each season's paperwork is going to become a single file. It's slow going but I'm making headway. I have ten seasons of paper scanned, saved digitally and then tossed in the recycling bin. I have other seasons through 2004 in manila folders under my desk and ready to scan. It's amazing what reducing a dozen 3" and 4'' binders to one thumb drive and one remaining binder will do for your shelf space.

That space and those binders will be put to good use. All my PCs and sets currently in boxes will be put in sheets and bindered. That is something that is long overdue. I also plan to combine the digital files that all this fantasy stuff has generated since we went fully online in 2008 into single .pdf files. My goal is to finish this all by the end of the year.

That's it for my hobby project update. Apologies if you fell asleep halfway through and hit your head on the keyboard.


  1. Did you ever get those Pierce tattoos that some a-hole sniped you over on eBay?

    1. Lol ....wish I knew who that was. ;-)

      I have one of each, signature and portrait. One is OPC and the other is Topps but I can’t remember which is which without looking. I figure that’s fine for me. Not that my income is ‘fixed’ (it ALWAYS was) that’s good enough for me.

    2. I assume you can tell by a Canada mark on the paper or something? Never knew there were Topps and OPC versions of those.

    3. The outside of the wrapper on the edge above the cartoon player indicates OPC. Check my post:

  2. Those are some nice projects you have in front of you. One day I may chase one of the tall boy basketball sets.

    1. They are fun. They represent the only years I was really into the NBA. Hank Finkel ruled!

  3. You're part of an elite club when it comes to your vintage... but I think my favorite posts are the ones featuring your Batman sketch cards.