Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Talk to Me About This Card

So I've been collecting Robin Yount cards pretty faithfully for going on five years now. I think of myself as pretty knowledgable about what's out there. Like most players from his era, there's not too much to grab from the 1970s. In the '80s, there's a lot of Yount stuff, but most of it can be had for cheap. Early '90s, same thing, growing at a rapid rate with the proliferation of card companies jumping into the game. Things start to peter out at the tail end of 1994, with Robin retiring the year before. From that point, there's literally nothing until 1999, when retro sets begin to come into vogue. Once the 2000s hit, the number of Yount cards explodes, as parallels, autos, relics, and the like begin to become popular. Yount is (thankfully) included in many "heroes from the past" sets, mostly, I'm guessing, because of his high collectibility as a single-team-during-a-Hall-of-Fame-career guy.

As such, I was shocked (SHOCKED!) to find this card last week.
1993 Upper Deck #HI 20 Robin Yount 92 Season Highlights

Something like this coming into my world from out of the blue is a rare event indeed. There's still a bunch of locally-produced Yount cards from this era that I don't have, but this seems to be from a widely available set. I can't believe I've never even seen this card before, and now I need to know everything about it. This is where I need some help.

What set was it from? (UD flagship, or something else?)
Was there a special way of getting it? Only certain sizes of packs? Mail-in offer? Factory set?
Do you have any of the other guys from this set? Some of these are up for ridiculous prices on eBay, but others are still cheap. There's a Nolan Ryan ending on Wednesday that actually has a bid at $9.99 +shipping. Way more than what I paid, but someone is willing to pay it.

Tell me all you know, and I will be thankful.

The 100 Best Finds in a 30-Dollar Lot: #18

Purple People Eater... or Purple Nurple?

2010 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects #BDPP45 Vincent Velasquez Purple Refractor

Hmmm, Tommy John surgery last September, out for all of 2011. I have to go with Purple Nurple on this guy. Maybe he has a shot a few years down the road, who knows?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Wrong Holiday? So What!?!?

Can we still celebrate Valentine's Day today? So what if it's more than three months late, this is a yearly post that I cannot just sweep aside. And I know there are some of you out there who are refusing to die because this post has not yet seen the light of day. Well, today is the day you can say goodbye to that ventilator. Here is my Valentine's Day Card Haul 2011.

My school uses a numbered grading system instead of letter grades. Under this system, a 4 is the best (Advanced) and a 1 is the worst (Minimal). In between are 3 (Proficient) and 2 (Basic). Each card from this year will be assigned a grade. My haul is not as large as it had been the last few years because I have a smaller class. Let's start grading!

Grade: 3

Not exactly an inspired choice, but kudos for giving me the requisite teacher card. The holes punched in the card are for the sucker that came with it. I believe we are in the midst of the 4th generation of Valentine's cards. Let me break it down for you.
G1: Weird, intricate Valentines our parents gave each back in the days before you had to give one to everybody in your class.
G2: The era of the tear-apart sheets of cards. These went into small, not-quite-postal-legal envelopes that were constructed of the thinnest paper possible. This is my generation of V-Day cards.
G3: No more envelopes. Cards are folded in half and held that way with a sticker.
G4: Hold my sucker.

Disney Fairies
Grade: 2

The copy makes no sense whatsoever, and two fake fairies were invented just for this card so Disney could fulfill representation of the races "Black" and "Redhead."

Smiling Hearts
Grade: 2

Text-speak and dopey-looking floating hearts cancel out the presence of a sucker and do not a memorable Valentine make.

Derrick Rose Word Search
Grade: 3

Way to go for the writers of the word search to include the word "zone." Has it really been ten years since that kind of illegal defense was called?

Grade: 2

Is that franchise still around? It wore out its welcome around part 2, but refused to go away. I can't believe that any child would choose this when it's your only shot all year to prove your mettle to your classmates.

Big Heart
Grade: 1

This thing fails on every level. Are there directions for what's supposed to go in those blanks? What's with the Olde English script? Was the child supposed to fill in the blanks, or the recipient? Is your family too poor for real Valentines?

SpongeBob SquarePants
Grade: 3

Sucker. Teacher. SpongeBob. A safe choice that satisfies without wowing you.

Grade: 4

Here's out clear winner. Put all these Valentines in a plastic bag and throw that bag into a dark closet, this is the only one that emerges alive. Batman rocks. Any boy passing these out automatically gains a certain degree of playground cred. Girls, too.

Care to read Valentine's Day Hauls from years past?

The 100 Best Finds in a 30-Dollar Lot: #17

"Remember, Sully, when I promised to kill you last?
I lied."

Remember when I promised that there wouldn't be any more 1988 Topps in the 100 Best Finds countdown?

I lied.

1988 Topps #487 Jim Pankovits and #612 Curt Ford

Let's try not to think of these as errors or miscuts. Think positive, people. You're getting an extra bonus at the bottom of each card! Underneath Curt Ford, you've got a sliver of a New York Yankee. Maybe it's part of Don Mattingly. Or better yet, Mike Pagliarulo!

To top off the goodness of these two, I should let you know that they were both stored in penny sleeves. There were autographed cards floating around unprotected in the box, and these two got penny sleeves. It takes all kinds.

Vintage 'Toons: Redux '73

# of Cards: 21
Favorite Card 'Toon: #247 Del Unser

"Del has three testicles."

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The 100 Best Finds in a 30-Dollar Lot: #16

By merely posting pictures of 2008 Upper Deck X cards on my blog, I run the risk of being called an Upper Deck shill. These cards are like a bad relationship that for one reason or another, you don't end. It starts with a toothbrush at your place, and before you know it, you're picking out a new china pattern. Not too long after that, you're screaming at each other about wedding invitation fonts. Upper Deck X, you are the crazy ex-girlfriend who guilts you into not breaking up with her and then sells your dog on Craigslist while you're at work.

2008 Upper Deck X Xponential #X-DO David Ortiz (X1) and #X2-JT Jim Thome (X2)

Is there truly no such thing as a bad card, so long as you don't already own it?

The 100 Best Finds in a 30-Dollar Lot: #15

2010 Upper Deck #PH-12 Prince Fielder Pure Heat

Shouldn't this insert set have limited itself to pitchers? When I think about Prince Fielder, I don't automatically associate him with the phrase "Pure Heat."
Unless, of course, you're taking into consideration his farts. Those are probably pretty warm, I guess. Then "Pure Heat" would make sense.

Ha, see what I did there? I made you think about the temperature and, more likely than not, the smell of Prince Fielder's farts. Why are you thinking about that? What's wrong with you?

The 100 Best Finds in a 30-Dollar Lot: #14

2007 Topps Chrome #51 Joe Blanton Blue Refractor

Has there been a better looking refractor parallel than the blue ones from 2007 Topps Chrome? Yeah, the colors of the Athletics' uniforms don't quite mesh with the shiny blueness, but I still like it. The '08 blues also look pretty darn good. Any other ones out there you're particularly fond of?

And can I cross my fingers so we can get more green refractors? (Although, there's this. Dang, that looks cool.)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

What $15 Gets You At a Milwaukee Card Shop on a Saturday Morning

This morning I had a bunch of errands to run before heading to a buddy's house to watch the UEFA Champions League final between Manchester United and Barcelona. (Which, by the way, I can't really get that excited about. No German teams were involved, and my English side, Everton, didn't even make it to the Europa League this season. Also, the money spent by both teams makes it like watching the Yankees playing the Yankees. The presence of teams like these in the final is a given. Although, I actually feel thankful to be alive to watch Lionel Messi play. He's simply at a different level than everyone else on the field.)

Okay, enough soccer talk. Between errands I headed to my favorite card shop, which just relocated out of a mall and into, in my opinion, a much better space in a strip mall. I had my want lists with me and was also looking for some storage supplies. Let's see what other goodies a came home with.

First, I hit the quarter boxes. From previous trips at the old location, I was pretty sure I would be able to find some of the 2007 SP Legendary Cuts base cards from my list. Sure enough, I slashed about a third of what I needed from my list. Wagner, Gibson, Gehrig, and Yaz are my favorites from this bunch.

The quarter box also yielded a 2010 Bob Gibson Triple Threads card. I picked this up to try to enhance a proposed trade with a fellow blogger.

The dollar box was next. There I quickly found some more Cardinals trade bait, this 2011 Topps Heritage 1962 Buyback of Alex Grammas.

Here's a card I finally bit the bullet on buying for a buck. I had hoped to find it in a quarter box some day, but I lost my patience. It's an early Ryan Braun card I didn't have, so it needed to come home with me.
2005 Just Minors Justifiable #JFP-1 Ryan Braun

The next part of this shopping trip was the most spur-of-the-moment, but definitely the most lucrative. The same dollar boxes held some well-handled vintage cards.

1953 Bowman Color #54 Chico Carrasquel

Old as hell and bent in half, that's the way I likes my cardses. And, yes, that is a pinhole hovering above Chico's back. This is the first card form this set that I own, and for a buck, the condition was good enough for me.

The next two cards are from the 1954 Topps set. These are still from the dollar box, folks.
1954 Topps #15 Al Rosen

I had the idea somewhere in the back of my mind that Rosen was an MVP. The front is pretty scuffed, but this card is in otherwise nice condition.

1954 Topps #83 Joe Collins

1950s Yankees for the price of a McDouble is pretty much a no-brainer.

The last card I have to show you is also the favorite one I nabbed.
1956 Topps #257 Bobby Thomson

Uh-huh, it's that Bobby Thomson, the "Shot Heard 'Round the World" guy. Thomson missed being on Milwaukee's 1957 World Series-winning team by a few months as he was part of the trade that brought Red Schoendienst to the Braves in June of that year.
And my goodness, how I love that cartoon ball in the center comic on the back! It's simple and fun, a perfect characterization of a baseball about to get clobbered in the mush.

The aforementioned supplies round out the purchase. I have been in desperate need of a new 5,000-count box for months. Buying big lots on eBay can do that to a guy.

I also made sure to grab some magnetic card cases. Some of my better Donruss Americana relic cards are currently naked as the day they were born. It's not like they were getting handled a lot, so every once in a while I grab a couple.

That's it. How did I do for $15.00? I love living in a low-cost-of-living area!
By the way, I am writing this up while watching SportsCenter. The anchor just called Jonathan Lucroy "Matt Lucroy." Don't worry, the rest of the sporting world will get to know his name soon enough.

The 100 Best Finds in a 30-Dollar Lot: #13

I love it when old cards introduce you to players you hadn't known of before.

1968 Topps #172 Walt Williams

When I took a close look at this card, I thought Williams look a little off. He appears a lot more muscular than the average baseball player looked during his era. Then I turned the card around and learned that Walt stood only 5 feet 6 inches. He also had the nickname "No-Neck" that was given to him because of his shortened neck that resulted from a side-effect of a typhus injection he was given as a baby.

And that's another one of the 100 best finds.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The 100 Best Finds in a 30-Dollar Lot: #12

What was it Christopher Walken's character said in True Romance after he punched Dennis Hopper in the face? Oh yeah, I remember now:

"But what I have to offer you,
that's as good as it's gonna get.
And it won't ever
get that good again."

Big lots like these are often that punch in the face, but for some reason I keep going back, hoping to find something someone else had missed. For a calm Friday night, here's a classy Stan Musial card. I guess it really is White Boy Day.

2008 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes #162 Stan Musial Base Parallel (090/299)

Enjoy the Champions League final tomorrow, everyone!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The 100 Best Finds in a 30-Dollar Lot: #11

Sometimes the beauty of a gigantic lot of cards is that the beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. To someone else, this card might just be filler. To me, it means another occupied slot in a binder.

2009 Upper Deck Goudey #107 Mat Gamel Mini

I probably write this every time I post a Mat Gamel card (and I have more than a normal amount of them, since he's kind of a nobody in most of the country, yet had a bunch of autograph cards as a young rook), but is this guy ever going to play for the Brewers again?

And another question, one I've never asked before: Doesn't Gamel look like a messed up Matthew Modine in this artist's rendition? One of his more demented roles, maybe? I'm mostly thinking about the last time I saw Modine in anything, the third season of Weeds where he played a dirtbag developer who boned the unfortunate Celia Hodes.

The 100 Best Finds in a 30-Dollar Lot: #10

Here's the first autographed card I'm going to show from the amazing Lot O' Horn O' Plenty.
2008 TriStar Projections #138 Kevin Whelan AUTO

Whelan is currently playing for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, the AAA affiliate of the... you guessed it, New York Yankees. He's been in the Yankees' system since 2007, and in the minors since 2005. Could this be the year? At what point should he just give up? I'm pulling for him, if only it allows me to trade this to a Yankees collector for some big loot.

The 100 Best Finds in a 30-Dollar Lot: #9

One of the things I never expect to find in a massive lot such as this is something unopened. I came pretty close this time, though. Take a look below.

That's one of those manufactured patch packs that came in blasters of 2010 Topps cards. I got a little excited when this was unearthed from the flat rate box. The excitement was tempered a little when I checked the seal and found that it was open. Dread was next, for I was sure I would be the victim of pack-stuffing, wherein random cards of poor quality are inserted into an empty wrapper, usually unrelated to the cards in question. Thankfully, my fingers told me there was indeed a patch card inside. But who?

2010 Topps #MCP87 Willie Stargell 1979 World Series Commemorative Patch

Alright, Willie Stargell! The 1979 World Series seems like it would be a fun one to travel back in time to see. I just looked it up, and can you believe a seven-game series lasted only eight days from start to finish? The Series began on October 10 and ended on October 17, with the only off day being the 15th. They didn't even give the teams a traveling day for the first venue switch! Those baseball purists have good cause here. November baseball is a fucking travesty! (Actually, I might be thinking more about the prolonged nature of a basketball series. Baseball actually packs its games together pretty nicely. Come to think of it, we haven't had a World Series Game 7 since 2002. Let's hope the next one doesn't interfere with those Thanksgiving football games.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The 100 Best Finds in a 30-Dollar Lot: #8

I'll bet some of you got a little curious when you saw the picture of a possible box of Bowman Platinum peeking out from one of the seller's pictures. Let me preface this by stating that not even I bought a single pack of that wretched stuff. This isn't to say that there aren't good cards to be found in the set, but I prefer my baseball cards not to be printed on Reynolds Wrap.

In the interest in actually getting to the cards in this post, yes, included in this lot was the equivalent of a retail box of 2010 Bowman Platinum. Now, I'll never know if I am getting the complete contents, since the cards were already opened, but the original owner did not cherry pick all of the interesting cards from the box. Here are two serial numbered cards of the same player.
2010 Bowman Platinum #PP41 Scott McGough Refractor (759/999) and Gold Refractor (238/539)

Refractors are those rare cards that actually scan better than they look in person. That gold one really pops off the screen. I know absolutely nothing about this McGough kid, and I'm not going to waste any time looking him up, either. I lack the patience required of a good prospector. My outlook on rookies is a lot closer to Homer Simpson's expectations regarding his purchase of Bart's first guitar: "Now, boy, we spent a lot of money, so you'd better get real good real fast, or POW!"

Yeah, not a lot of patience on my part.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Vintage 'Toons: Redux '74

# of Cards: 12
Favorite Card 'Toon: #141 Pat Bourque

"We here at Topps like to operate under the assumption that high school ballplayers, especially captains, usually take the field in a policeman's uniform."

Vintage 'Toons: Redux '76, '75

Last month I bought a lot of cards on eBay (an entirely different lot than the 100 Great Finds lot) that have been sitting on an end table since I received them. This is a lot of 100 vintage cards (from 1959 to 1976) that cost me less than $20. Since $0.20 apiece is way less than I'm accustomed to paying, I'd say this was a pretty sweet deal.

They've been sitting around because I wanted to do something fun with them, but never took the initiative. Well, inspiration has finally struck. Topps cards of days gone by have often contained a small cartoon on the back. These are usually blithe in nature and broad in their comedic sense. What I'm going to do is rewrite the copy from one card from each year represented in the lot. At times, the new caption will be hateful and unfit for agreed-upon societal standards, and at other times you'll just get a light-hearted romp. Depends on the situation, I guess.

I've decided to work my way backwards in time from 1976. For each year I will reveal how many cards were found in the lot, show the front of the card with the most re-writeable cartoon, and then finally share my revisions. Deal?

# of cards: 2
Favorite Card: #584 Stan Wall
1976 Topps cards lacked a cartoon on card backs, so all you get is the front. I picked Wall because... well... just look at the guy. He looks like he would have gotten along well with Tim Lincecum. And I ain't talking about in the dugout. More like, in a van. A windowless van. With incense. Lots of incense. Do I have to spell it out for you? Okay, one more clue. They'd be really forgetful, like, more than a normal amount. That's all I will say.

# of cards: 3
Favorite Card: #415 John Heller

Q: "Which player served in both World War I and World War II?"

A: The Great Gazoo.

Alright, not off to the best start, but stay with me on these. By the time we get to 1959, you'll have heard at least one derogatory phrase so graphic in nature that you'll lose your appetite and ask to be excused from the dinner table in order to take a soul-cleansing shower. I owe you that at the very least.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The 100 Best Finds in a 30-Dollar Lot: #7

A nice stack of vintage cards was found in the $30 lot, and one of my favorites was this puppy.

1970 Topps #65 National League Home Run Leaders Willie McCovey, Hank Aaron, and Lee May

Willie bested Hank by only one home run during that Summer of Love, 45-44. Following the 1967 season, when he hit 39, Aaron would never lead the league again, even though he hit 47 in 1971. (Willie Stargell hit 48 that year.)

This is the kind of card that keeps me coming back for more mystery lots. (And how awesome is it that it was kept in a sleeve cut out from a 9-pocket page, and an old-school one with ridged dividers?!)

A Zoo Bipping You Won't Want to Miss

A little while ago I got a package in the mail from PunkRockPaint. I'll let the video do the talking.

At least he sent me this Ryan Braun Gumball I didn't have yet.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The 100 Best Finds in a 30-Dollar Lot: #6

Why didn't I own this already?
1988 Topps #779 Tom Glavine

Well, I didn't buy that much '88 Topps. I wasn't even ten freaking years old... gimme a break!

Okay, this lot came with a nice amount of 1988 Topps cards. They are all in great condition, much better than they would have been in had they been stored in a shoe box for much of their lives. Rest assured, this will be the only '88 Topps card I show in my "100 Best" segment. I'll call on you to help should I decide to build this set, although I will need a head start on constructing an extra bedroom to house the inevitable truckloads of cards.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

The 100 Best Finds in a 30-Dollar Lot: #5

Value need not play a determining role in identifying the 100 best finds in this lot. The card below can be had for less than a quarter, a decided bargain.

1992 Score Proctor & Gamble #16 Tony Gwynn

This is the first I've seen of these (probably because Robin Yount doesn't have a card in this set), but I was immediately attracted to it. It foreshadows the gaudy designs that would come to dominate the mid-1990s with a painted-out background replaced with diagonal striping. I also love its shade of green that the San Diego Padres had actually banned from Jack Murphy Stadium. Color spectrum violations were considered most severe, with season ticket revocation being the punishment.

The P&G logo on the back of the card made me think of this one crazy chick who, in the middle of high school chemistry class, informed me that I needed to boycott Proctor & Gamble products because the company supported the Church of Satan. The rumor has since been debunked, but doesn't it stand to reason that when choosing a product that will make your kitchen floor shine, you'd go with the one endowed with the power of Satan over a cleanser lacking this stain-fighting ability?

The 100 Best Finds in a 30-Dollar Lot: #4

If you possess a sharp memory, you may recall that one of the visible elements of the $30 card lot was a 2010 Topps factory set. Heading into this purchase, I wasn't sure this would be included in the final tally, since the seller had a disclaimer stating that the cards in the photographs were not necessarily in the lot.

As it turned out, they were.

The box cover lists the extras in this factory set as an exclusive five-card pack and the then-hallowed Stephen Strasburg rookie #661. I was skeptical about the presence of each of these extras, and frankly, it would not have surprised me if these were missing from my set. Not a huge loss; after all, I already collected 2010 Topps completely through donations. Add to this my opinion that this All-Star set seems about the weakest of all factory sets, so if the cards were missing, it wouldn't be that big a deal. It isn't like I'd be hunting for one of those weirdo Mantle relics that came from a pair of dress socks or something like that.

Well, I finally got a chance to sort the cards this afternoon. The plastic wrapping on the box was obviously missing, and when I first thumbed through the cards, I found that they were not in numerical order. I am not sure how common this is, since the last factory set I bought was a 1992 Score back in, you guesses it, 1992. Those cards were out of order, too, but I distinctly remember the disorder having a pattern to it that made the sort go pretty fast, like a run of cards might have been something like #653, 643, 633, 623, 613, 603, 593...
Upon final analysis, I found the base set to be completely intact. I should also mention that there was no unopened pack of five bonus cards sitting anywhere in the box either.

No matter, the bonus cards were there. Right in the last stack I found these Angels All-Star cards, commemorating the 81st MLB All-Star Game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

It should be noted that, of these five players, Torii Hunter was the only one chosen for either the 2009 or 2010 game. (He was on both rosters, actually, but was injured for the 2009 game.) Pretty weak bonus, if you ask me.

And the Strasburg? Well, that was found, too. It's nice not to have one of the draw cards cherry picked from a factory set. And if you weren't aware, there were actually two different Strasburg #661 cards produced last year. The first one below is from the factory set, and the second is the one I pulled from my hobby box of 2010 Topps Update Series

As you can see, the front photos are a little different. The backs of the cards are virtually identical, save for the Topps tracking code number in the fine print and what my eye detected as very slightly different shades of red in the design elements. As far as I can tell, neither of these is more desirable than the other, as they both have similar ending prices on eBay.

So, now I have two complete 2010 Topps sets without ever having bought a single pack of cards. I'll bet the Topps sales staff would love to hear that, right?