March 31, 2020

Making the PC a bit more Personal - Vol. 1

Some hobby terms can be so nebulous. Personal collection(PC) certainly fits that description. We as collectors all have a PC, but what does that really mean? It turns out there is no simple answer. It can mean anything to anyone. During the time I spent away from this blog, I had to face that very question. Several months back, my oldest daughter asked if she could go to a card show with me. We were on the way to that show when the question came up. While trying to develop a game plan for what she wanted to look for, we discussed many different components of a personal collection(Which sports? Which players/teams? Types of cards? Non-sports? Etc.) and I gave her some examples of what I enjoy. Then she asked me why it was called a 'personal' collection if it's not a collection of people you know? I really hadn't thought of it that way before. I explained that most people collect what they personally enjoy(for a million different reasons) and that the average person doesn't have personal relationships with the players. She seemed to get it and we came up with some areas for her to focus on. We had a blast at the show. 

On the way home she asked me if I knew any players. In that moment, I couldn't think of any. There were several that I had met before(some more than once) but did I consider myself friends or even acquaintances with any? I told her I'd have to think about it. By the time we got home, I had come up with a few. As we looked through our haul from the show, I told her stories about three players. When she was done listening, she asked if they made cards for them and did I own any? We searched for whatever cardboard existed for those players and found out that I didn't own any. Tracking down cards for each of them has been fun and I've really enjoyed sharing my progress on this new aspect of my PC with her. She gets almost as excited as I do when a new addition arrives! That's the (not so)brief backstory of this new, series of posts.

I have 2 older brothers. They're 9 and 10 years older than me. We grew up in a small town with an everyone knows everyone kinda vibe. I vaguely recall watching them play a few high school baseball games and to this day, I have random memories of a few people from their circle of friends. Most of those memories are negative because not many of them wanted to be nice to their friends' annoying, little brother. There was one of their teammates that was always nice to me though. Brian would always ask me how I was doing and give me a high five. He was in the group of friends that my brothers hung out with for a few years and then he graduated a year or two before my oldest brother. As far as I knew, he fell off the face of the planet. Fast forward about four years. The year was 1988 and I was enjoying what might as well have been 'only child status' which was slightly dampened by the fact that my mom had taken an office position in the middle school I was entering in the fall. Throughout my fourth-grade year, my after-school routine would have me walk 2 blocks and cross one street to meet my mom at her office. There I would do my homework and find something to keep myself occupied for an hour or so, until the end of her workday. The school guidance counselors worked in the same office as her so they got to know who I was pretty fast. If they were in the office and not terribly busy when I would walk in, they would often chat with me about whatever was new and exciting. One of them in particular, Mr. Golden, knew I loved baseball(and baseball cards) and would tell me stories about his son playing in college. One day shortly after the start of my fifth-grade year, I walked into the office and my mom told me that Mr. Golden wanted to chat with me in his office. His door was open, but I remember knocking sheepishly without peeking my head into the open doorway. He told me to come on in and have a seat. Once I sat down, he said he had some exciting news to share. His son had been drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals. I'm pretty sure my brain turned off at that point. For what felt like forever, I don't think I heard a word he said. I was so excited that someone I felt like I knew had been drafted by an MLB team! I fought back my excitement and tried to re-focus on his story. It was about this time that he took a framed picture from a book shelf behind his desk and showed me a picture of his son. As it turns out, my brothers' friend Brian was Mr. Golden's son. I remember telling him how happy I was to hear and that I looked forward to hearing more stories about Brian playing for the Cardinals(I didn't really understand the minor league system at the time). For the rest of the year, I took every opportunity to ask how things were going. He was always happy to give whatever update he could. Then, sometime after the calendar flipped to 1989, I walked into the office and was met with an incredible surprise. I was in the middle of telling my mom about the day and Mr. Golden called to me from his office. As soon as he could see me in doorway, he told me to close my eyes and count to 5. I tried not to rush and when I got to 5, I opened my eyes. It was just in time for him to pull a baseball card out of his desk drawer. He told me Brian had given him a handful of his first baseball cards and he wanted to give me a copy.

I was excited to have this card. I didn't pay attention to the details at the time, but this is a 1989 Star Hamilton Redbirds minor league team card. It immediately took up residence in the shoebox that held all of my favorite cards. Several times over the next year or so, I remember seeing Brian pop into the office to see his dad. Things were the same as before. If he saw me, he would ask how things were going and give me a high five. I know I thanked him at least once for the card and told him how cool it was. A few years passed and my interests moved on to other players. Somehow over time, this card went missing from my collection. I don't know when, where, or how, but it was gone. When my daughter asked me whether there were any cards that fit into this new corner of my PC, I knew this one existed. I also knew I no longer had one. We searched all of the boxes that made the move with me from NY to NC anyway. That search confirmed this was lost to time. So began our search to replace it. I didn't have high hopes since Brian never made it to St. Louis and this was an obscure, low level minor league set that was 30 years old. Neither eBay nor COMC had a copy available. I searched for the single and for the complete team set...nothing. My luck turned when I created an account on Trading Card Database(TCDB). As I dabbled around with the site, adding cards to my collection within the account, I figured out how to add wants as well. After I added this card to my wantlist, I stumbled upon a useful feature. TCDB shows you how many times a card is mentioned in a collection. This can mean someone has it in their collection, on their wantlist, or available for sale/trade. When I looked at the mentions for this, I was shocked to see that one member had it listed in their 'for sale/for trade' list. I spent some time looking through their wantlist, pulling cards. I made a trade offer and was thrilled when it was accepted. I can't even begin to express the happiness that I felt when it arrived and I was again holding this card in my hand. That joy/satisfaction was made even more special when I showed my daughter and got to see her reaction! 

For the record, Brian graced one other piece of cardboard during his career. It hails from the 1990 Star Erie Sailors team set. For the past several months, I have had an eBay saved search for the single and complete set and I regularly check COMC for it. I haven't found a single listing anywhere yet. Sadly, no one on TCDB has a copy available either. I'll remain patient because part of the fun comes from the hunt, especially when you've got a personal stake in that hunt! I'd love to hear from anybody that has a similar story. Drop it in the comments or toss it out there in the Twitter-sphere. To anyone that made it all the way through, thanks for reading.

March 27, 2020

I Love a Parade!

If you've ever stopped by the blog before, you probably know that I'm always on the lookout for new(to me) Yankees cardboard. Some of my favorite additions over the past several years were courtesy of the Postseason Celebration insert from Topps Update a few years back. I love how they tied my love of the Yankees together with my interest in World Series history, but we will save those for another post at another time. Several months back I was searching for something random and hobby related. I can't remember if I found what I was looking for that day because I got sidetracked by a dark/blurry picture of some cards I never knew existed, but immediately knew I wanted.

All I found was this picture. There was no story, no origin, no information at all. I couldn't make much out from the picture either. What I knew was there was a set of at least three cards(Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Mark Teixeira) which appeared to have pics from the 2009 Championship Parade, used the 2010 Topps design, and had '27 Championships' where the player's name would normally be. I took this screenshot and ran bunches of Google searches trying to glean some kind of information about these. Where did these come from? Are there more cards in the set?  How can I find copies to add to my collection? Sadly, my search ended in complete and utter failure as I wasn't able to find any answers about the mystery cards. Then, almost as quickly as I became aware of their existence, I forgot about them. It wasn't until I started going through my picture files for new post ideas that I came across that picture again. It renewed my desire to track these down. I knew I'd first have to find those answers so I'd know where to start looking for a trade or purchase. It was back to square one - Google search. This time it paid off. One of my searches led me to a post from someone on the Freedom Cardboard forum. They claimed this was a 3-card set distributed at NY/Metro area Modell's Sporting Goods stores. This forum post had links to clear pictures which clued me in to search eBay for '2010 Topps Yankees Ring Ceremony'. I found a listing for a sealed set and clicked BIN as quickly as I could. The set arrived yesterday.

As soon as I finished taking this picture of the sealed set, I quickly freed these awesome cards from their cellophane prison.

I have to say I'm partial to the Mo and Posada. Nothing against Tex, but they're 2 of the Core Four and these cards show moments from the final World Series celebration of their careers. Maybe I'm too sentimental, but I think that's pretty awesome!

The card backs each give a brief synopsis about the regular season, Division/Championship Series, and World Series respectively. They also contain additional images(albeit small and somewhat blurred ones) from the Ticker Tape Parade through the 'Canyon of Heroes'. This set is a really satisfying addition to my Yankees PC. Thanks for reading.

March 26, 2020

Time To Load Up on Snacks!

While the inevitable 'stay at home' order is what led me to this topic, it's not the reason for my title's suggestion. I am not advocating for anyone to go out and start hoarding junk food. It's been an interesting week or so to say the least. During the day on Tuesday, I had heard that a stay home order was imminent for Durham(where my office is located), so I decided to stop at a random Food Lion on the way home from work the other night. As I was rushing around the mostly empty store, I came upon an end cap and saw a few Topps branded packages of Utz chips. I did a double take and pondered what I was seeing for a moment. I didn't remember hearing anything about a follow-up to last year's set. I honestly assumed that they had found a few of these tucked away in a corner of the store room and decided to put them on the floor since customers have been grabbing everything they can to load up their pantry. I figured I might as well grab one since there may be a time in the coming weeks where I don't mind chips that have been stored away for a year. The dates on these things are just the 'best if used by' variety, right? Anyway, I got home, unpacked the car, and put away the few items I bought. Much like I did last year, I openened the outer package and rummaged through the small bags of chips trying to find the pack of cards. When I pulled it out, I was shocked!

They weren't 2019 leftovers! They even have a unique design(which I like better than flagship)! I quickly ripped open the pack and flipped through the 3 cards(plus one coupon card like last year).

I really like these!

The backs are not very unique and the name above the card number is the only indication that these are from a co-branded set. It's interesting that they didn't include the Utz logo anywhere in this year's design. I, for one, am thrilled that there is a food issue set to chase for a second consecutive year! I'm also really disappointed that it's going to be more difficult to track down due to the current and/or pending quarantine orders. After my excitement wore off, I did a quick search on Twitter to see what I could find out about this year's promo. Turns out I completely missed posts by multiple sources that have been floating around for over a week. Now this is the kind of news I would have loved to see overflowing my timeline about a week ago. Had I known there was a current year chase, I definitely would have picked up a few more snack packs. If anyone is interested, a complete checklist is up on the Beckett website. What do you think about this design? Are you excited about another oddball set? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments or over in the Twitterverse. Thanks for reading.

March 22, 2020

You Wanted the Best? You Got the Best! The Hottest Card in the World...

Ok, maybe this post isn't really going to be about the 'hottest card in the world'. It will be about a really cool addition to my non-sports collection though. I was never a huge KISS fan. I enjoyed their music, but didn't really make an effort to seek it out. Just about 16 years ago(I can't believe it's been that long), I had a co-worker whose significant  other was a huge fan. I'm talking follow them around to shows and trading copies of the Instant Live concert CDs with other fans so he could get one of each show on the tour. I happened to be chatting with my co-worker and found out that they would be playing in Raleigh during the summer of '04. I made a passing comment about being interested in seeing them live someday to see what all of the hype was about. Then I promptly forgot about the conversation. About a month later when tickets went on sale, I got a text asking if I wanted to go to the show with them. The price seemed reasonable so I agreed. They ordered my ticket with theirs and I paid them back. When I went to the show, I was blown away! I only knew about half of the songs, but the entertainment value of the performance was off the charts. I walked out of the show with one of those Instant Live CDs of the show and a new outlook on/appreciation for the band.

Fast forward to early last year. A friend of mine was preparing to move from NC to CA and she was going through her stuff to figure out what she was selling and what would make the cross country trip with her. She knew I was an avid music fan and asked me if I was a KISS fan. I told her that I really enjoyed the one show I went to and that I listened to my copy of that show and a few of their albums regularly. She told me she had a huge collection of KISS items that she had decided to part with before relocating. She sent some pictures and asked if I was interested in buying it all. There were vinyl albums, CDs, shot glasses, action figures, and some cards from the '70's. I told her I'd be interested in the cards, but not the rest. She was disappointed at the prospect of trying to find a buyer, so I offered to reach out to the friend that took me to the show back in '04. I hadn't been in touch for several years, but after the niceties of catching up, I told him I knew of a large collection that I thought he may be interested in. Hi so interest was piqued so I sent the pics of the collection his way. After facilitating several messages back and forth between these friends, I ended up brokering a sale, delivering the collection, and serving as an intermediate in the payment process. I had planned to pay for and pick up the cards I was interested in while delivering the collection's sale price to my friend. However, when I met up with her, she handed me a box and told me that she was gifting me the cards as a token of her appreciation for my help in selling the collection. I told her the gesture was appreciated, but not necessary. Despite my insistence that I pay her for the cards(so I could contribute to her moving fund), she refused. She insisted that I had already done more than my part. I thanked her and tried to contain my curiosity about what exactly was in that box. I had assumed that, at most, she had a few dozen cards from the different late '70's sets. Instead, when I finally had the chance to open the box, it contained the complete 132 card Donruss set from 1978 and 2 sealed blasters of KISS 360, a product which was released by Press Pass in 2009. The contents were a pleasant surprise to say the least.

I was thrilled about the complete set and quite surprised to have a few packs to rip in addition. I had no idea what to expect from the packs besides a fun rip and maybe a little bit of band history. What I found was so much more!

There were some cool inserts and 'blood splatter' parallels to be found. Snapshots is an insert printed on acetate and has a film cel look about them. I'm a sucker for a good acetate insert set! Transformation uses lenticular technology to show how a band member morphs into their stage persona from their everyday look. I included one of the blood splattered parallels in the scan for completeness. In addition to the awesome inserts, I ended up with a complete base set. The blasters had one more huge surprise beyond all of that...

Towards the middle of the second blaster, I came upon this piece of awesomeness! The signature is cut from a larger piece of heavy paper stock(I'm sure used to collect all of the autos needed for the set at once) and isn't as clean as it could be, but none of that changes how incredible it felt to pull an auto of Gene Simmons! Looks like I got the best! This was one good deed that ended up going unpunished. In fact, it turned out to have a 'hot' reward! Thanks for reading.

March 16, 2020

Happy 3:16 Day!

Happy Monday to anyone reading out there! I know, for many, it has been anything but 'happy' lately. It's tough to process being cooped up in the house with no sports to help pass the time and create a distraction from the serious situation the world is currently experiencing. However, I'm very thankful that the WWE has found a way to make alterations to their business model which has allowed them to continue broadcasting their products while simultaneously being socially conscious. This past Friday, they moved their Smackdown show to the company's Performance Center in Orlando and restricted attendance to the skeleton crew of personnel necessary to produce the show. It was surreal to see a form of entertainment that is usually dependent upon the energy of a live crowd play out in this manner. I found it interesting and honestly, no less entertaining than any other wrestling show I've seen. Perhaps this assessment was due, in part, to the dearth of other sporting events. Thinking about it in a bit more depth, I think it was due to the extra efforts put forth by the wrestlers. They know about the events going on in the world. Many of them have families that are worried about them, but they showed up for work and put on great performances in an empty building anyway. 

Tonight, the show will go on as they'll present Monday Night Raw in a similar fashion. In fact, today is Austin 3:16 Day! It should be quite interesting to see one of the greatest performers in company history do his thing in the small, empty training center. Even without drawing from the live crowd's energy, I'm sure he will make his segment a must see!

I've shared some Austin cardboard on the blog before, but here is a favorite that I haven't shared before. Why is it a fave?
1. It's Stone Cold.
2. It's Chrome/shiny
3. It depicts a classic moment in his feud with the Mr. McMahon character which played a huge role in him becoming one of the most popular wrestlers of all time.


Here's another favorite. It pays tribute to one of the early WWF sets from 1987 and features a rare look at his 'Smoking Skull' championship belt(which I loved).

I mean, look at that belt. How could you not love it as a young wrestling fan? All other sports may have been postponed until further notice, and there certainly isn't much reason for celebration at the moment. Regardless, I'll be busting open a cold beverage in observance of 3:16 day in less than an hour. If it's your thing, take a moment to join me. Thanks for reading.

March 15, 2020

Can You Hear Them? - A Baseball Card History Lesson

I am a sucker for sports history. I have always felt most connected to and intersted by the rich history of America's Pasttime. I feel fortunate to have visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown a few times. I swear that if you listen closely while walking through the exhibits and visiting the plaques of the enshrined, you can hear the stories behind some of the most magical moments in the sport being told by the players themselves. OK, I know that's a bit hokey and certainly a stretch of the imagination but it's easy to get carried away by these type of romantic thoughts if you'll allow yourself. At least it is for this baseball fan...

If there is anyone that can relate to the thought above, I imagine it would probably be a fellow collector. Why? The simple act of flipping through small pieces of cardboard with pictures on them can create a similar effect. This is why I've recently fallen in love with a relatively early(and mostly forgotten) parallel that Topps issued in 1998, it ties both of these things together.

Let's delve into some background, shall we? In May 1997, the National Baseball Hall of Fame announced that Topps had become their 'corporate partner'. While this presumably produced many benefits for both sides of the arrangement that were unseen by the general public, it directly resulted in the previously mentioned parallel set. In early October 1997, Topps set up a printing press in the atrium of the Hall of Fame library. Then, beginning on the 10th and concluding on the 19th, Topps ran sheets of their 1998 set through that press to emblazon them with a bronze foil 'Minted in Cooperstown' stamp. Visitors to the Hall during this time were even able to watch this process in action. It would have been so cool to see this! However, it was the early days of the internet and information about special events such as this wasn't as readily available at the time(especially from over 600 miles away where I lived at the time). In fact, when the product released in 1998, younger me had no idea why these stamps made the cards special and didn't pay much attention to them at all. If I actually knew the story behind them, I would have reacted differently. I remember pulling a few that year, thinking they were a nice change from Topps Gold, and quickly filed them away with the rest of the cards I picked up around that time. There they stayed until a few months ago while I was looking for cards to fill out a trade package. Sitting in a box that hadn't been opened in over a decade, I stumbled upon them and set them to the side. It was only after I finished up that trade package and sent it out that I searched for the story behind them. Once I found out about their history, I was infatuated. There is something ineffable about the connection they share with Hall that intrigues me to no end. If it weren't for a weak checklist, I'd likely attempt to build the complete set. Instead, I'll be content with picking up a handful of these that fit my collection. 

I'm off to a great start as I've already found a copy of the Bernie! I apologize for the low quality image. I already filed this away into the Bernie PC so I am using a picture I had taken rather than a cleaner scan. Since its hard to see, here is a close up of the stamp from another card.

When Bernie arrived, he was happy to be reunited with a former teammate that has been sitting in a box for many years.

Enter Sandman! Little did I know when I picked this card up at a show all hose years ago(*insert hefty sprinkle of creative interpretation here*) that it would foreshadow Mo's unanimous election last year.

I have a few others from this set, but none that really speak to me like these do. There are a few left that I'll continue to look for with Derek Jeter, Barry Bonds, and the commemorative Roberto Clemente topping that list. Maybe I'm crazy, but whenever I hold these cards in my hand and listen closely, I feel like some whispers from the Hall were embedded in them as they were stamped. Can you hear them? Thanks for reading.

March 13, 2020

Don't Call it a Comeback...

...I haven't been here in a year! So just let me (re)introduce myself! 

Sorry for shamelessly borrowing from two of my favorite, old school hip hop songs(and very loosely from my pal Matt) but those lines seemed quite appropriate for this occasion. It has been exactly one year since my last post on this blog. I never intended to take break or go on a hiatus of any length. I don't have a crazy 'life happens' story about why I haven't had time to write and I wasn't even burnt out or having writer's block. In fact, I have missed writing about the hobby I love. I've thought about coming back too many times to count. So, what has kept me away? Well, the truth is, my laptop died and once Google made the significant changes to many of their offerings last year, I couldn't find a reasonable way to mange the blog using only my iPad. Apps that I had previously used no longer allowed me to post pics. The alternate option of trying to use the Blogger website from the tablet was not feasible(unless I was writing a really short post) because I couldn't scroll down to see anything beyond the text/pics that filled the top of the editing screen. Anyway, I think I finally have a solution in place that will allow me to get back to a semi-regular posting schedule. I don't know about any one that may be out there, but I'm excited to get back to it!

In my absence from the blogosphere, I've still been very active in the hobby. There have been many completed trades, trips to multiple shows, and more purchases than I can count. I've found a few ways to supplement my normal hobby budget which has allowed me to end up owning some cards that I never thought would find a home in my collection(future post planned to share some of these tips). Finally, I have slowly and organically built a decent Twitter(@CardpocalypseNC) following which has allowed me to share some hobby moments in short form. So much has changed in my hobby world over the past year. Therefore, I guess it's best to take a brief look at my collecting habits(new and old) and then talk briefly about how some parts of my collection have evolved over the last year.

To start, I am still a huge Yankee fan. I'm still picking up almost any Yankees I can for the PC, but I have really turned up the focus on acquiring Bernie Williams cards that I don't have. A few months back, I took the plunge and signed up for a Trading Card Database account(CardpocalypseNC for anyone interested). I have really enjoyed using the site to catalog some of my player collections and to keep up with checklists/needs on some of the insert sets I'm trying to complete. After entering all of my unique Bernie cards into my database collection, I stand at 374 which is my top total for any player thus far and places me in 8th place among other Bernie collections on the site. I'd like to add to that number and work my way up that list. In the interest of keeping this post on the shorter side, I'll only share a single new(to the blog) Bernie acquisition.

It's not high-end or anything, but I cartainly remember how popular, hard-to-find, and expensive these International Refractors were while navigating the 1997 collecting landscape. With that in mind, I was pretty happy to grab this for just a few bucks several months back.

I'm also a big Negro Leagues fan. I have been passively hunting for singles from the 2001 Fleer Tradition insert Stitches in Time. I still have a handful of base inserts to find, but I have decided to go after the more difficult auto and relic portions of the checklist.

Updates on this hunt to come in a future post.

From here, the remainder of the collection is very similar to how it has always been. Denver Broncos, Durham Bulls, and NC guys are still some of my favorites. In the coming days, I'll be sure that my 'Who I Collect' page is up to date. I have scrapped several of the previous unfinished set chases and added a few insert sets so updating the set needs page will also be an upcoming project.

One of the biggest differences in my collecting comes in the form of chasing some more ambitious set goals. A few of these new set goals were in their infancy stages as my blogging was grinding to a halt. First up, I am searching for all of the 1998 Skybox One For the Ages Star Rubies parallels. This 15 card subset focuses on highlights from Super Bowl XXXII. To date, I have tracked down 7/15 of these. They don't pop up very frequently and when they do, they tend to be quite pricey, but I'd love to own all of these some day.

Similarly, I'm on the hunt for all of the 1999 Ultra Platinum Medallions from the Super Bowl XXXIII subset. This is a 10 card subset that focuses on the Broncos' back to back championships. Right now, I only have 1/10 of those, but it's a big one.

There is a second Elway-only card in the subset, but at least I've got a great start to this chase!

There is so much more that I want to write about, but if I don't reign it in soon, I'll never actually publish his post. So, I'll focus on one more area that is a bit newer. I don't think I've posted about this previously. Somewhere around 15-20 years ago, one of my day job interactions led to me having the chance to meet Serge Zwikker. For the many out there who have no idea who that is, he was the center on the UNC Tar Heels teams of the mid-90's. From that first meeting up to the present day, I've had a chance to spend a good bit of time working with him in the context of my professional setting. I'm not saying that he and I are best friends, but we are certainly more than acquaintances. It didn't occur to me until about a year ago that he may have some NBA cards out there(he was drafted by Houston in 1997). I quickly found a few base RCs from that year's sets and then picked up all the parallels I could find as well.


These are a few of the base RCs I found. He was also in the Hoops and Fleer Tradition sets. I have multiple parallels from Fleer Tradition(not shown) and A copy of the Ultra Gold Medallion. However, I have been looking for the Skybox Star Rubies and Ultra Platinum Medallion for several months and haven't even seen any come up for sale or trade. Ultimately, those are the focus of my Serge-hunt, but I'd happily add any college cards I don't have if they're floating around out there.

I'll stay true to my word and cut this post short right here. For anyone interested, I'm planning expanded posts with more pics from these varied focal points of my collection along with several other areas that I didn't have space to write about here. I hope you've enjoyed what I'm looking at as a 'soft re-launch' of this blog. As soon as I can finish updating pages and maybe giving the design an update, I'll plan something for a Grand re-launch. Stay tuned for additional details about that coming soon. Thanks for reading.