December 25, 2014

Merry Cardboard Christmas

Christmas Day is rapidly approaching its end. For those that celebrate it, I hope you had a safe and Merry one. For those that don't, I don't mean to offend. For me, this is truly my favorite time of year. The only way it could be any better is if we didn't have to wait so long until Spring Training, but I digress. Here is some Christmas inspired cardboard that is either from my collection or on the list of items to add to it.

Both of these gems come to you from the fine folks at Pro Set. I've had them in the collection since I pulled them from packs way back in the early days of my collecting career. The first came out in 1989 and I vividly remember thinking how cool it was that I had just gotten a card of jolly ol' Saint Nick! I was young back then and didn't know a lot about our hobby, I just knew that I liked busting packs and finding cards of my favorite players. I had no idea that Pro Set issued another Santa card in 1990. So, I was equally surprised and pleased when I happened to unwrap the second version from a pack of 1991 Pro Set! I'm sure at some point, I will track down a copy of that 1990 Santa.

I had no idea that the following box set existed until I went to the Raleigh card show a few short weeks ago. I would have picked it up, except the asking price was pretty steep, what with the holiday approaching and all.

Check it out though. It includes Santa on multiple historic Topps designs and includes a Santa Suit relic card and an authentic autograph from the man himself! Yes, I realize that we are talking fiction here, but at this point in my collecting career, I've got two young kids(4 and 2 years old). This is just the type of thing that I could add to my arsenal in the hopes of passing on my love of collecting to them. I think something like this in addition to Durham Bulls team sets that include players we have gone to see play(and of course, Wool E. Bull) would help make the collecting connection. I wasn't in the market to pay $50 for this set though. I'm sure after the holiday dust settles, I'll be able to get my hands on a set for much less.

Lastly, I want to highlight a holiday themed card that doesn't star Kris Kringle. Once again, I had no idea this card existed until a short time ago. I happened to see it on Nick's Dimebox blog. Since I started this blog a few short weeks ago, it has been on my cardboard want list. It features the star of one of my favorite Christmas shows from my childhood. Subsequently, both of my daughters have grown very find of this show as well and I'm sure they'd LOVE to see this card.

It is none other than Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer! I used to watch this show once or twice each holiday season. Now that my girls have come along and fallen in love with it, I can't tell you how many times I've watched it over the past few years. For some reason, it never gets old. I absolutely love it!

Anyways, there you have it folks. To some, these cards would never find a permanent home in their collection, but it can say that the ones I already own continue to give me just as much joy today as they did when I stumbled upon them while opening packs over 20 years ago. Besides that, they've been known to help renew my Christmas cheer throughout the year as I wait for the holiday season to roll around again. Once again Merry Christmas to all of you in the blogosphere that celebrate this day.

December 19, 2014

Adventures at the Card Show

It's hard to believe that it had been a little over six months since I had been to a card show. Thankfully, that dry spell was ended this past Saturday. Historically, I've headed out to the shows with a specific game plan, rarely straying from it. My success or failure (and therefore the amount of fun I had) was always dependent on the vendors having the items I was looking for. 

Fortunately, since my daughters were born, my approach towards things has become much less structured/planned. This has carried over to my show strategy as well. The only things formal about my game plan these days are to see how far I can stretch my budget, scan the entire room before choosing where I will spend the majority of my time looking, and keep my eyes and mind open for all of those treasures out there. Since I adopted that outlook, I've had a LOT more fun and found some incredible cards to add to the collection. Here's the rundown of the new additions from this latest adventure.

After doing a quick lap around the entire room, I figured there were about four tables where I'd spend the bulk of my time digging. Let's start with table one.

I know the blogosphere loves Kellogg's cards, and I'm no different. This table was packed with Kellogg's. Some were cracked, some curled, and others graded. I spent a good bit of time taking it all in, looking though each stack he had lined up in no particular order. Most of the stuff was way over-priced or at least beyond the price I was willing to pay. However, I found a small stack of them that were reasonably priced and in nice condition. The stack was filled with players I couldn't care less about, but I did find the two pictured above. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to add a former Yankee captain and Louisiana Lightning to the collection for fifty cents a piece.

Table number two had at least a dozen 5000 count boxes lined up. Some were dime boxes, some quarter boxes, and a few fifty cent boxes. All of them were packed with various recent issues. I started the search in the dime boxes, but they were packed with true commons. No gems to be found there. When I moved to the quarter boxes, things shifted. There were recent rookies and inserts from Topps flagship and Chrome sets, Bowman Chrome, Finest and Prizm. I found a number of cards of players I have seen play with the Durham Bulls over recent seasons.

 If I had found the base versions of all of these, it would have been good enough, but the Romero was the Silver Ice parallel. The Cobb and Myers were both refractors. The Moore was an orange refractor and the Odorizzi was the blue refractor which is numbered out of 250. Turns out this guy was willing to do a quarter a piece or five for a dollar. Definitely a great deal!

I've had the base version of this Wade Boggs Finest Moments for some time now. At the same table as all of the other Bulls/Rays players, I was able to grab the refractor version for a quarter. 

At the third table that I spent a chunk of time searching for treasures, I found the true finds of the day. It also happened to be the last table I'd visit. This guy had box after box, ranging from a quarter a piece up to $5.00 per. I spent all of my time searching through the quarter boxes. The first few stacks I searched turned up nothing but some junk wax era commons. In the past, I would have likely just moved on to the next table and missed out on all of the oddball goodness I discovered. After a few more stacks of nothing exciting, the first card that caught my eye was this one.

A Cal Ripken from True Value Hardware?! This is like a booklet. It hasn't been opened. Yeah, it is missing the Orioles logo, but I had never seen something like this before. How could I pass it up at just a quarter? Seeing this, I was hooked. I needed to to keep digging in these boxes to see what other gems were lurking in them. Next up was the following Jiffy Pop disc.

Again, missing the team logo, but it's an early career issue of the first Yankee captain of my lifetime. Donnie Baseball was the first great homegrown Yankee talent that I got to see play. Sometimes it still makes me sad that he missed out on a World Series ring by one season, having hung up his spikes in 1995.

A few cards later I came upon this Roger Maris. It's the type of card I would have previously shuffled quickly past without a second look. I'm so glad that something told me to turn this card over. Perhaps it was the fact that it was printed on thinner card stock than usual or maybe it was because I was curious who 'Alvey' was.

Upon turning the Maris over, I found that this was a menu card from Steinbrenner's Yankee Inn. I hadn't even known this kind of a card existed, let alone ever actually seen one. I HAD to have it! I have searched and searched since last weekend and I have found that there is also a Yogi Berra card like this. I haven't been able to find anything about what year these were issues or how many others may exist. If anyone in the blogosphere has any info on these, I'd love to hear it. I'm in the process of tracking down my very own copy of the Yogi Berra, but if there are more, I need to know so I can find them.

I continued the search, picking out a number of other random, oddball goodies. Some for myself and some for some new trade partners. By this point, I was running low on time so I told myself that I was going to finish searching the row I was on, count up the cost of my new additions, pay for them, and head home. Boy, am I glad I decided to finish that row! In the last stack I pulled from that row, I happened on this card. It caught my eye because I grew up in New York, about an hour from the city and I would visit the city periodically. I remembered the first time I had seen Penn Station. I thought it would be cool to have a card of the building. Then, I turned it over...

I read the great description, and then I saw the advertisement. I'd never seen anything like it and it looked like a tobacco card.

Apparently, I was too tired to come up with the idea of using my phone to research this before buying it. I figured, what do I have to lose for a quarter? I paid the guy and piled into the car to head home. Once I got there, I started to search for more info on this Penn Station card. Turns out it is a T99 tobacco card from 1911. The series is 'Sights and Scenes of the World'. I realize it has certainly seen better days, but I now have a card that is over 100 years old in my collection, and it only cost me a quarter! There are 50 total cards in that series, and after finishing that research, I feel like I want to put the set together. Who doesn't love a challenge?

I can't remember the last time I had as much fun at a show as I did this past weekend. Here's looking forward to my next adventures at the card show!

December 14, 2014

Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself

I've been collecting for as long as I can remember. Like many of you, I've gone through periods where I hardly thought about looking at the cards I have, let alone picking up new ones. In the long run, this hobby is something that I always come back to. 

Over the years, my collection has taken many forms. It has focused on all four major sports, set building, prospecting, and even acquiring in-person autographs. Through it all, two things have remained constant: the New York Yankees and Denver Broncos. In more recent times, I've expanded to include current/former Durham Bulls and any cards that depict historic/memorable moments. I especially love the cards that contain the overlap of my love of history and the Broncos or Yankees. So, I'm going to share a few cards that do just that.

John Elway was one of the first quarterbacks that could really scramble. When he made this run late in Super Bowl XXXII, with the game still up for grabs, it showed Green Bay that he was willing to do whatever it took to win. Definitely one of the key plays in the Broncos' first ever Super Bowl win and one of my favorite moments. Looking at this card reminds me of everything I loved about watching Elway play.

This one is from that same 'big game'. Terrell Davis and Rod Smith doing the 'Mile High Salute' to celebrate a big TD scored by TD. It wasn't long after this that he was named the MVP of that game.

This moment will forever be etched into my memory as one of the last images of Mr. Elway as an NFL player. Here he is, hoisting his second consecutive Lombardi Trophy. As we all know, he would be named the MVP of that game and would announce his retirement shortly afterward. What a way to go out at the top of his game.

I love the Broncos and those cards are some of the favorites in my collection. These days though, the primary focus of my collection is baseball...

Here the Yankees celebrate their ALCS win, going to the World Series for the third straight year back in 2000. Their four championships in five years has been the closest thing to a baseball dynasty in my lifetime. However, if the SF Giants continue to win championships in the coming years, I might have to give them some consideration for that label.

This was the scene shortly after the final out of the 2009 World Series. I love that I can identify so many that we're taking part of this celebration! You've got Swisher and Posada ready to hug with Cano about to join in, Gardner in there, Sabathia standing almost a head above everyone, Matsui wading in, and Damon buried in the middle. This one came from a World Series Team set, one of the best retail pick-ups I've ever made.

I'm sure that the majority of you have seen this one from this year's flagship set, series one. I know it's just a checklist card, but it captures one of the most perfect sports moments in history. True, I'm biased, but there are two sure-fire future HOFers in this scene, and with the history these three shared over the years, I couldn't have pictured a better final moment of such a great career. I'm even actively searching out as many of those maddening color parallels of this one as I can. Even if I wasn't a Yankee fan, I would love this card. If only more cards these days were great reminders of the wonderful moments in sports. 

I'm sure that soon enough, I'll have a Jeter retirement card to add to this mix. I can only hope it's as well done as that Rivera. Do you hear that Topps? You set the bar high with that one, don't let me down. I won't hold my breath on that, but maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised while opening a few packs of 2015 Topps series one.

December 10, 2014

My First Post...

It's been a few weeks since I decided I would set up a baseball card related blog. In recent months, I've discovered a number of really well done pages that have expanded my appreciation of our great hobby. So, I thought if I took a chance and started writing(instead of just reading) that it would add to my enjoyment even further. I brainstormed ideas of what content to post and considered how often I'd realistically be able to write at all.  Thought I had it pretty well planned out, but I couldn't figure out how to 'break the ice'. First, I thought I'd write a brief introductory piece. Then, I thought I'd dive right in and just start talking about my collection. I couldn't settle on that perfect first post idea. Then I received an email from a current blogger to let me know he received my end of an introductory trade. That's when it hit me...I'd start my blog where my ideas to create one began in the first place.

One of the first blogs I stumbled upon while initially searching was Dime Boxes - The Low-End Baseball Card Collector's Journey. It was the title that first struck me. I'm a sucker for a good bargain bin, so I figured this would be a good place to start reading. After reading a few of Nick's posts, I was hooked. A little while back, he wrote a post talking about new introductions. While he was suggesting that veteran bloggers reach out to some newbies by sharing some cards, I sent him an email to introduce myself, thank him for the greatly entertaining posts, and ask if he was up for a new trading partner(even though I was sans blog). It turns out that I had found myself pulling cards that seemed to fit his tastes as I was going through the expanses of my collection. He was game, and we set the gears in motion to create trade packages to send each other. Nick sent some really great cards, as many fellow bloggers already know. Here's a recap of the highlights.

I am a sucker for baseball history. For some reason though, this insert set was new to me. Thankfully, Nick provided a great intro to Topps' More Tales Of The Game. It was nice to see this reminder of the 2002 All-Star Game which ended in a 7-7 tie. I watched that entire game.

These Superstar Celebrations are really well done. This one celebrates King Felix's perfect game against the Rays, the 23rd such game in MLB history. You can almost feel the emotion pouring out of this card.

I really dig the season highlights subsets in earlier Topps sets. I think they are terribly under utilized in today's hobby. These two World Series related issues are great. I really like the Lowell, and that says a LOT coming from a Yankee fan. Ultimately, my appreciation for the game and its history trumps my dislike for the BoSox. This is a rare occasion that I'm happy to add a Red Sox card to my collection.

Here are a few Yankees from the mix. How could you not love the Yankee Clipper, a clean shaven pic of a previous Captain, the '70's style of that Louisiana Lightning, and a nifty Lefty Gomez from Swell?

I'll end with this great Topps Chrome card depicting the standard post game celebration of the Sandman. Last, but not least a personal favorite of Wade Boggs signing for the fans. I met Wade Boggs once...but that's a story for another post.

Thanks to you Nick, for the inspiration, support, and kindness relating to my blogging endeavor and also for the great cardboard! I hope you enjoyed this trade as much as I did. Looking forward to many more!