Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Oh, the things we do as bloggers

So I found myself with time to kill one day last week while waiting for my son to show up for a lunch meetup. I wandered into the WalMart in the same block and checked out the card section. Alone among all the other usual packs and boxes was this little 'gem'.

A Graded Card!! Says it right there on the front. Now I knew damn well I wasn't gonna come away with a 1910 E98 Cobb graded 8.5 by Beckett. Here's a closer look at the label:

A couple of Ty's buddies are shown on the sides of the blaster.

The famous 'randon insertion'. I can just imagine how 'random' the E90s were inserted.

There was no price on it and I didn't see a shelf tag so I guessed $20 and figured at that price or lowerI'd at least get a blog post out of it. So, I found one of those 'check the price' thingys and sure enough, $19.99 was the tab. I added a couple of boxes of Peet's Decaf K-Cups to my basket and I was outta there.

I let this thing stew for a few days and opened it Tuesday night. Here's what was inside:

A graded card, six packs of actual cards, a 'bonus' item and two of those gawdawful Triple Play packs.

Did I spoil the surprise? My graded card is a 2011Topps Jacoby Ellsbury graded 10 which Beckett described on the label as "Mint or Better".

I'm not really sure what's better than 'mint'. Maybe we should consult rock legend and lead guitarist for Spinal Tap, Nigel Tufnel...

BTW...the Beckett label must be an old version. The only other one I have is silver. But I'm no expert on the grading companies. As for the card...well, whatever. I had a thought or two about sticing it up on the Beckett Graded Card Resistry. I figured a Better Than Mint 2011 would at least get me into a tie for the #1 spot among 2011 Ellsbury collectors. But in order to register that wanted my cell phone number. Not happening.

Back to those packs. I'm going to show just a few cards from each of the sets represented. They were mundane to say the least. Here they are in the order I opened them:

Upper Deck 2008 X

A-Rod is a die cut card.
 Ryan Howard is a shiny, chrome-kinda card. Whatever happened to him anyway. Gone in a flash.

That's the full pack, Four cards. The Mauer is sort of a nice card.  When i buy stuff like this I try to find a use for the cards and usually that means sticking as many as possible in my fantasy player binder. Even if I like the card that already in there I can justify (somewhat) spending on a blaster just for the hell of it. Mauer will go in that binder. And since I like having as many different kinds of cards represented it's a welcome addition.

Next, Pinnacle 2013 from Panini. Eight card pack.

It was an A-Rod hot box because here he is again.

These next two are going into the fantasy binder for sure. Since they are both catchers in full gear you don't notice the lack of logos/uniforms. Plus, they are actually pretty sharp.

Oh man, did this LaRoche special card scan poorly or what?

 From the one pack of 2017 Topps Series 2 comes an Albert P. Notheing else worth scanning.

There were three 2019 Topps packs. The Tucker and Ray cards are nice additions to the fantasy binder.

Adan Engel's card is pretty neat. Love the throwbacks. Sox wore these when I was at their place a couple of summers ago.

The 'bonus' item, as seen in the pick, was a generic pack. Turned out to contain three Topps cards of a set I was not familiar with. they were 2008 Topps Dick Perez cards. I think they were found in the complete set boxes but I could be wrong. Looking at Google gave me a headache and nobody really cares about this stuff anyway.  Plus, they are ugly. Perez mucy have knocked these things out faster than a boardwalk sketch artist.

The Triple Play packs remain unopened and I'll give them to my elementary PE teacher friends to use as prizes.

Well, that's it. My $20 experiment in blind blaster boxes. Worth it? Nope. Do it again? Heck no! But regrets? No, it was fun and as I suspected, I got a long blog post out of it.

Plus a couple of useful cards. Anyone want these Perez things?  

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Pins and Needles

Every once in a while I pull my riker mount cases off the wall and change out some pins. These three are new and are gonna go in my vintage pin display.

I like all things Spahn as I've noted several times. This pin was given to fans on a night honoring the great lefty. It came just two months after he took part in one of the great pitching duels in modern baseball.

I was also happy to add this small PM10 of Don Newcombe.

This Browns pin is not destined for the display, at least not yet. It'll have a spot on my St; Louis Browns cap for a while. I wore that cap to The Maple Leaf, Houston's best (only?) hockey bar last night to catch Game One of the Stanley Cup finals. I wore it to rep my best friend who is a Blues fan even though I'm not really rooting for either team. As expected it was packed and rowdy (in a fun way) last night. My boys and I enjoyed it as always.

This one, like the other two, has surface scratches but stuff like that just adds character. 

Three cheap additions to my pin collection. Now all I need is the ambition to pull down those displays.

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, 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.