Sunday, January 26, 2020

Signature Sundays - Bob Sadowski

Spending the day with family today, so just a quick autograph post for Signature Sundays this week...

Pretty nice Bob Sadowski on-card autograph courtesy of 2015 Topps Heritage.  I enjoy the "Real One" autographs in the Heritage line, featuring hard signed autos of some of the lesser-remembered players of yesteryear.  This is a great, obscure autograph for my Red Sox collection, as Bob played just a single season with Boston in 1966, the final season of his 4-year MLB career in fact.

Because these autographs are based on actual vintage Topps cards, they include the full back from the originals as well.  Much nicer than the generic "Congratulations, you've pulled an authentic autograph of..." backs we get so often these days.

I picked this card up on eBay all the way back in 2015 when this Heritage set was just out (yes, it takes me that long to get to featuring cards here sometimes).  I appreciate it even more nowadays than I did back then, given that Sadowski passed away back in 2018 at age 80.  Not a player the average Red Sox fan is familiar with most likely, but a solid autograph nonetheless!

That's a wrap for today, thanks for stopping by and enjoy your Sunday everyone!

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Dream Card Acquired!

Growing up as a kid baseball fan in the late '80s/early '90s, Nolan Ryan was my absolute favorite baseball player.  As silly as it sounds, I think much of this was initially based on the fact that he had a 5-card tribute subset to lead off the 1990 Topps set checklist.  These were the first baseball cards I ever opened in packs, and my 7-year-old self knew right away based on these cards that Nolan Ryan was something special.  Over the years I came to appreciate the amazing career the man had, and I've remained a fan to this day.

With that background being set, one of my big gifts this holiday season was an extremely generous $100 eBay gift card, which I was specifically told was to spend on baseball cards (twist my arm why don't you?!).  Any time I get an eBay gift card from family I try to spend it acquiring a very significant or special card, since in the end I tend to see what I pick up as the gift they ultimately gave me.

Well, this year I combined the gift card with a smaller one I'd been sitting on for months since my birthday, plus a few bucks of my own thrown in, and picked up one of the most significant cards in my entire collection to date....





Exactly 30 years after my grubby kid hands first pried open the wax wrapper on a 1990 Topps baseball pack, I have Nolan Ryan's rookie card at last!  It's hard for me to convey just how ecstatic I am about this particular pick-up.  I'm really happy that I was able to not only land this card at long last, but that I was able to do it with the assistance of my awesome parents, which will always give it added significance to me.

Not much more that I can say about the card itself that hasn't been said many times before.  One of the most iconic baseball cards from the 1960s, or from any era really, if you ask me.  Especially since Jerry Koosman was no slouch either.

As for this specific card, here's a look from a slightly different angle than the first.  I'm experimenting with photographing my graded cards with my iPhone as they seem to come out clearer than when I attempt to scan them.

I searched long and hard through many different examples of this card before settling on this one.  It's got everything that I care most about when picking up vintage cards; bright, vibrant color, good centering, and great overall visual appeal (meaning no huge creases, stains, holes, etc).  This was the finest example that fit my personal preferences within my budget.  It received a 2.5 "Good +" from PSA, mostly because the top corners are a little soft, but again I don't feel they detract much if at all from the beauty of this one.

Here's a look at the back, which is slightly off-centered left to right.  This doesn't really bother me much on the backs of cards for some odd reason.  What can I say?  I can't really explain my OCD, it just is what it is.

So, there it is, by far the most significant card I've added to my collection and featured here on the blog as of late.  We're still in the first month of 2020, and there's a strong chance this card ends up being my card of the year in my annual year-end countdown come December.  Just awesome, I'm still smiling when I look at it.  Huge thanks to my Mom and Dad for making this dream card a possibility!

Thanks as always for stopping by.  I'll be back tomorrow with a Signature Sundays autograph post...

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Dumb Card Purchases - Dale Long

As baseball card bloggers, many of us understandably tend to gravitate towards showing off our best or most interesting purchases and pick-ups.  It's human nature.  However, I'm willing to bet that most of us have made at least a few truly dumb purchases over the years that don't make a lot of sense.  I know I certainly have, and today's post will cover one such purchase.

The card in question?

A 1957 Topps Dale Long, a nice enough card in and of itself, slabbed a PSA 6.  This could be considered an upgrade I suppose to the well-worn raw copy of this card that also sits in my collection:

Yeah, this one's seen better days.  Honestly though, I think it's a better fit for the way I collect nowadays than that clean, graded copy is.  I spent $10 and change on the graded Long, despite already having this well-worn copy.  There was one reason and only one reason that I did so.  It allowed me to do this...
Card #1...

...card #2...

...and card #3 from the 1957 Topps set, all in a PSA 6 grade that pleased my OCD at the time.

While I'm thrilled to have both the Ted Williams and the Yogi Berra cards, the only reason I picked up the Long is because I thought it would be cool to just pluck the next card number from the set, one at a time over time, in the same grade to see how far I could progress with it.

This was extremely short-sighted on my part.  I mean, following that logic through to conclusion, it doesn't take long to realize this was way too lofty a goal for me to shoot for.  Looking at what a Mantle or Brooks Robinson RC alone go for in that grade should have helped me to realize what a fool's quest that idea was from the outset.

Unlike many collectors, I do enjoy graded cards, specifically PSA-graded cards.  I've learned though that attempting an entire set in graded format is simply not for me.  If someone offered me the $10.75 that I shelled out for this Dale Long for it today, I'd hand it over in a heartbeat and use those funds on something much more satisfying for my collection.  Oh well, at least I came to this realization before I got any further than card #3!

How about you?  What are some of the worst card pick-ups that you can recall from your own collecting experience?

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Cardboard Keepers - Super Mario

Time for the next installment of Cardboard Keepers, a thought experiment in which I theoretically whittle my entire collection down to just 2,000 cards; 1,000 baseball keepers, and 1,000 "other" keepers.

Tonight I'll induct a new card into the non-baseball collection for the first time in months.  We're in the throes of winter here in New England, and so a hockey card just seemed appropriate.  As for which one to go with, tonight's entry represents one of the best hockey cards of the '80s, and one I had in mind from the outset of this project...

Yes, it's the rookie card of the great Mario Lemieux!  Aside from being one of the most talented players ever to stick-handle a puck, he's also one of the most inspiring stories in hockey history for the way he battled through illness to return to top form.  If Wayne Gretzky's rookie card is the most iconic hockey card of the 1970s, then I submit that this card may hold that title for the following decade?

Growing up as a kid hockey fan I always wanted a copy of this card, but it was out of my "raise money by raking leaves and doing other chores" price range.  I finally scored one as an adult when, back in 2011, I unloaded a few David Krejci cards to a super collector.  The proceeds from that sale funded this card, as well as a Steven Stamkos Young Guns RC.  Coming up on 10 years in the rear-view mirror and I'm liking how that trade looks in retrospect!

I've got the Topps version, which is just fine as I was pursuing (and have since completed!) an '85-86 Topps hockey set, and this is by far the toughest card on the checklist.  I'd love to add an O-Pee-Chee version of Le Magnifique's RC to my collection someday, but it's not all that high on my hobby priority list, and given the prices they command that means I may well never see one.  Fine by me, I'm still so excited to have this copy nearly a decade after acquiring it.

This iconic card is a worthy choice for this project indeed!  Whittling down my collection or not, there's no chance I'd part with it.  Easily a top 20, and maybe even top 10, hockey card in my entire collection.

The "other" Cardboard Keepers collection is up to a full 15 cards now, and can be viewed here.  I've still got a long way to go, 985 non-baseball cards remaining to be exact.  I'll be back soon with the next card, but until then thanks as always for stopping by! 

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Buybacks on Ice - Kevin Dineen

This season, Upper Deck hopped on the buyback bandwagon big-time on the hockey side of the house, with an entire release dedicated to the concept.  I don't really keep tabs on new releases these days, but I found out about these because some of the cards starting turning up in my saved eBay search results for "Upper Deck buyback" that I use to track down some of the older buyback inserts they've put out in years' past.

I was intrigued enough to look into the product to see how these were produced, and found this:

This is not my box, just a picture I grabbed from the internet.  The reason it's not my box is that these are currently selling for $189.95...for two cards?!?!  Don't hold me to this since I'm not going to be buying any of these to open myself, but I believe one card is from the base set for the product, which is a new release Upper Deck printed up, and the other card is an "amazing" buyback, as indicated by the box.

Now, that "amazing" buyback could be a Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews Young Guns rookie, autographed and encased in a one-touch holder much like the Archives Signatures baseball releases of recent years.  On the flip side, it could be something slightly further down the sliding scale of amazing, like this:

This is the lone card I've picked up from the product so far, which longtime hockey collectors will probably recognize as Kevin Dineen's base card from the '96-97 Upper Deck flagship hockey release. 

What differentiates this as an amazing buyback?  Well, these buybacks are foil-stamped with a 30th anniversary logo, which you can see in the lower right corner of this card.  Aside from that, the gimmick is that these standard, non-autographed/encapsulated buybacks are all "1/1's".  It's a bit hard to make out in the scan, but if you look closely you'll see the foil 1/1 designation just below the Upper Deck logo in the upper right corner of the card.

The back of the card has not been modified in any way, typical of most buybacks.

As an admitted lover of buyback cards in general, I'd like to applaud Upper Deck for creating this release.  I'd like to, but I just can't.  To me, this seems like the gamble of buying a one-card box of Archives Signatures baseball from Topps, but magnified.  If I'd shelled out $189.95 for this box, and received this card as my "amazing" buyback, I'd be pretty disappointed.  And that's coming from an absolute die-hard Whalers card collector who bothered to seek this one out on the secondary market!

So, how much did I shell out for this card?  $7.99.  Even at that price point I'm sure some folks would find this a silly purchase.  I thought it was a fun pick-up for my ever-expanding team collection though, and to land a "1/1" of the great Kevin Dineen (regardless of how gimmicky) it seemed like a reasonable enough price.  Imagine being the poor soul who opened this, listed it on eBay, and received my lone $7.99 opening bid.  Ouch!

To me, the way to release buybacks is on the lower end of the collecting cost spectrum, as cool or unique inserts in other products.  I can't imagine these boxes are selling all that well, and I'd guess that they'll be a good deal cheaper a few months out from now when something newer has captured the fancy of high-end collectors.  Then again, I've been wrong before.

Regardless of how you feel about this concept, if you're a hockey team or player collector these are kind of a cool pick-up if you can find them cheap on the secondary market, but that's about the extent of it in my opinion.  I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for any other sub-$10 Whalers 1/1 cards like this one, and maybe I'll go slightly higher than that price point if I can find a 1/1 of a HOFer I collect, but there's a snowball's chance in hell that I ever plop down close to $200 for a box of this stuff.

How about you?  Have you heard of this set prior to reading this post?  What's your opinion on what Upper Deck has done here?  I'd love to read your thoughts in the comments.  Thanks as always for stopping by!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

1950 Bowman Project - Pete Suder

Quick post today, as I'm traveling yet again for work this week and am relying on the schedule function to keep this blog on life support.  One of my goals at the outset of the year was to make progress on a set from each year of the 1950s on the baseball side.  Today let's do just that with my 1950 selection, Bowman!

The next subject to fall in my quest to someday complete this beautiful set is infielder Pete Suder of the Philadelphia A's.  Suder was a utility infielder who was most known for his uncanny ability to ground into double plays.  What's funny to me, no offense intended, is that he looks like a utility infielder prone to grounding into double plays!  Am I wrong?

There are some true pieces of art in terms of the cards that make up this set, but I wouldn't necessarily say this is one of them.  It's a perfectly fine card, just a standard portrait and with one of the blander backgrounds that the checklist has to offer.  Not bad, but not great either.

As the back of the card indicates, Pete (like so many in his generation) sacrificed years of his career for military service during WWII.  A true Shoebox Legend, to be sure!

Just another example of a card that can be had from this set in really good shape for less than $5 delivered.  That about sums up my reasoning for picking this one up.  15 of these down, 237 to go!

Set Progress:  15 of 252 (5% Complete)

Monday, January 13, 2020

A Perfect Blaster for Christmas

Waiting for me under the Christmas tree this year at my parents' house was a blaster box of 2019 Topps Series 1 baseball.  The tag said the gift was from Santa, but I'm pretty sure it was my Mom that provided this one!

I don't get a chance to rip many packs these days, given that I tend to focus my hobby spending on singles for my collection for the most part, so it was awesome to be able to tear into some wax (or foil, more accurately) for a change.

The blaster contained 7 packs, 14 cards per pack (Is that standard?  Bravo, Topps!), and one commemorative patch card.  While I'm not actively trying to build the 2019 Topps set, this turned out to be the perfect blaster for me!  Red Sox cards seemed to abound, and I even ended up with a few non-Red Sox keepers for my collection as well.

I didn't do a pack-by-pack scan or anything like that, opting instead to simply highlight some of my favorite cards overall.  Here we go...

As you'll see, the number of Red Sox cards I pulled from just 7 packs was rather incredible, starting with this David Price World Series Highlights card.  Obviously the fact that Boston won it all in 2018 resulted in a large number of Red Sox cards sprinkled throughout the 2019 checklist.

While it's tiring to see Topps reprint the same iconic cards to death year after year, at least in this case I landed one of my absolute favorite cards from childhood.  The '87 Bo Jackson Future Stars card, while not his true and proper RC, is cardboard gold if you ask me.  Easily one of my favorite cards from the '80s, period.

I think just about every baseball card collector can agree that the team stadium cards in this year's flagship set were a complete success.  Everyone seems to adore these, and it's easy to see why.

I'll be hanging onto this pair, especially since SunTrust Park is one of the stadiums I've actually caught an MLB game at.  My wife and I were able to see Bryce Harper and the Nationals play here not long after it opened while I was down in Atlanta at a conference for work.

More Red Sox content, with Mitch Moreland's base card.

Thought this one was pretty cool.  I don't recall having seen these "Grapefruit League Greats" inserts before.  Although it does seem that Topps shoves the same retired stars down our collective throats year after year, it's hard for me not to get excited about pulling a Babe Ruth card (though I would've preferred a Ruth Red Sox card).  Also, unlike a lot of Topps' mindless insert sets from recent years, I think this one is just quirky enough to kind of work.

The Sox love continues with a League Leaders card of the man Boston just secured for at least one more season, to the tune of $27M dollars.  Money aside, as a fan I'm excited to know that I can enjoy watching Mookie play for another season at minimum.  Didn't have this one for my team set, either.

The two stadium cards above weren't the only ones I pulled, and this one was obviously my favorite of the handful that I landed in the blaster.  I've got quite a few cards of Fenway Park now, and I'll always welcome more.  I've experienced so many fun times in this ballpark with family, friends, and co-workers over the years, at both sporting events and concerts alike.  I would have eventually picked this one up on my own, happy to have pulled it here instead!

Just one more Red Sox base card from the box, this Steve Pearce World Series Highlights.  Pearce is a guy who's under-represented in my collection, especially given the key role he played in the 2018 championship, so this was a cool pull.

That marks the end of the Red Sox base cards, but not the inserts.  Also pulled this '84 Topps-inspired Andrew Benintendi.  I'm telling you, my Mom picked the best blaster she possibly could have off the shelf here!

Oh and how about another Grapefruit League Greats insert, this time featuring Big Papi?

Held onto this Phillies Citizens Bank Park card as well, just because I'm accumulating all of these despite not collecting them that actively.  This is one park I have not been to, though I hear it can be a tough crowd!

We'll close out the standard cards with yet another Red Sox insert, this time from the '150 Years' insert set that contains so many great photographs.  I remarked above that it was cool to get a Ruth insert, but would have been better had he been in a Sox uniform, and before the blaster was through that exact thing happened.  Like I said, hard to imagine a better blaster than this for a Boston fan.

Closing it out is my one-per-blaster commemorative patch card.  I don't hang onto these typically, but it was kind of cool to pull a guy who I looked up to in the early '90s.  "Juan-Gone" could really mash the ball.  If any of my regular trading partners would like this one just leave a comment and I'll toss it in your next package.

So, that's a wrap on what was a very satisfying blaster of 2019 Topps.  Just a few weeks until the 2020 set hits shelves.  I don't think my Mom reads this blog, but I know my Dad does, so a big thank you to both of my parents for this really fun gift!

This post does not mark the end of my holiday season spoils however, as a big gift from my parents was a $100 eBay gift card.  I put that together with another one I had, and a little cash, to land one of my most-desired cards since ever since I began collecting as a young boy!  I'll be back with that card soon, in the meantime thanks as always for stopping by!

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Signature Sundays - Calle Johansson

We're back this week with another autographed card from the set that started it all for me on the hockey side of the house, 1989-90 Topps/O-Pee-Chee!

I have both the '89-90 Topps and O-Pee-Chee complete sets these days (they're cheap enough and easy to find), plus my original binder of childhood cards as well.  Since this was before the days of tough-to-find hits and inserts, I'd pretty much collected these two releases as much as anyone could.  A while back I got to thinking though, and as a new way to enjoy these sets all over again I've been picking up some autographed cards here and there.

This "Super Break Certified" Calle Johansson is my latest example, at $2.50 with free shipping courtesy of eBay.  While he may be a name that modern fans of the game don't instantly recognize (unless they happen to collect junk-wax-era hockey cards), Calle carved out a lengthy 17-year career manning the blue line at the NHL level.  He may never have been the top defenseman on a Capitals team that had some great ones over the years (Scott Stevens, Rod Langway, Al Iafrate to name just a few), but he was an integral part of the team for a decade and a half nonetheless.  They don't keep you around that long unless you're providing real value.

Man, these card backs take me back!  Calle was a Valentine's Day baby, meaning my buddy Douglas of Sportscards from the Dollar Store collects him as part of his shared birthday collection.

A nice signature from Calle here in bold, blue marker.  Very pleased to add this one to my slowly growing collection of these '89-90 autographs.

For the first time I tallied these up earlier this morning, and I'm now up to 17 autographed 1989-90 hockey cards in my small sub-collection.  For those who are curious, I've started a Google Photos album to keep track of them as I (hopefully) get more over time.  You can see the current set of 17 here.

Have you ever started a collection of autographed cards from a particular set?  If so I'd love to hear about your experience in the comments.  Thanks as always for stopping by, and enjoy your Sunday!

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Cardboard Finance - An Investment Time Capsule

During the course of last year, I took an increased interest in the financial side of this hobby that I enjoy so much.  Yes, I know that baseball cards are supposed to be fun (they sure are to me!), and that some consider it sacrilege to even mention something like dollars and cents in the same sentence as baseball cards.  To each his own!

I'm a nerd who works on computers for a living, and an amateur math geek to boot (probably one of the many reasons I enjoy baseball so much), and I can't help that I've got an interest in finances as well as sports cards.  I'm sure the fact that I'm a child of the late '80s/early '90s, when the hobby was in the first stages of "investment frenzy" mode, may contribute to my curiosity about how these two passions intersect as well.

Anyway, last year I sold off some parts of my collection that I realized I wasn't enjoying as much any longer, and used most of the proceeds to bulk up my small, start-up investment portfolio.  I learned a lot through the process about investing, which was cool given that it's a topic I was pretty much totally ignorant on up until a couple of years ago (and am now only mostly ignorant on).

During that process I realized that, while not my intention, I'd turned a tidy profit on some of the cards I'd sold since purchasing them about a decade earlier.  It brought up a question in my mind that I've tossed around a few times, and that is "If done carefully and knowledgeably, is it viable to think one could make a solid profit investing in baseball cards?".  Is it any crazier to put your financial faith in your favorite player's rookie card than it is to put it into a faceless, emotionless mega-corporation?

My gut instinct answer to the question is that yes, baseball cards can be profitable, but only in very select circumstances.  With few exceptions, I don't think buying tons of modern unopened product and locking it away for the future is ever going to work (unless you were smart enough to snatch up and sit on, say, a case of 2011 Topps Update baseball!).  Didn't work out for the folks who did it during the '80s and '90s craze I mentioned above, wouldn't work out now.

I do firmly believe, however, that certain cards will absolutely increase in value predictably and significantly in the coming years.  For example, I'd bet that if you had the means to pick up a mid-grade Michael Jordan Fleer RC today, which will run you around $1,500, that it will be worth at least twice that amount within a decade.  Obviously nobody knows for sure, but I've seen it happen time and time again with key, iconic cards of the greats of the game within my own collection over the years.  Think Mike Trout's 2011 Topps Update RC.  Connor McDavid's Young Guns RC on the hockey side, or the Wayne Gretzky at the top of this post.  Those types of cards.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to test the validity of sports card investing through a real-world experiment, one that I know at least one other blogger (Fuji) has considered as well.  Throughout the course of last year I worked slowly at accumulating a dozen different cards that I predict will increase in value over the next few years, with the thought of locking them up in a "time capsule" and revisiting them down the line to see how my "investments" have done.

As the calendar flipped to January of 2020, I attached a post-it note to each of the twelve cards indicating what date in 2019 I purchased them on, where I picked each one up (eBay or COMC), and most importantly what I paid for each.  I then bundled them up and stashed them away in this old Calvin Klein cologne box I've kept lying around because it's sort of a cool storage mechanism.  It's going to serve as my time capsule for these dozen cards for the next five years!

Now, obviously I'm not in a financial situation where I was able to stuff this thing full of Mike Trout and Michael Jordan RCs by any means.  I don't think those are the only types of cards that could become profitable either, though.  The selections I've packed away here were acquired from January through the end of December of last year, and ran me anywhere from $1.50 on the low end, to one significant card that went well into the triple digits.

My plan is to open this box in January of 2025, five years from now, and do a series of blog posts covering the results of how my "cardboard portfolio" performed.  I think it will be a fun exercise, and an interesting real-world test.  Maybe I'll be able to prove that an informed collector can make for an effective investor, or maybe we'll validate once and for all what many claim is true; tangible items like sports cards and art are almost never good investments.

Or, maybe the truth will land somewhere in the middle.  I think this is the most likely outcome.  There are one or two cards in the time capsule that I feel fairly confident will be solid picks and perform well, and then there are a couple of others that I'm unsure about at best, but were fun to include anyway.

That's all for now.  So begins the most drawn-out two-post series in the history of card blogging?  I'm not sure, but if you're still around and I'm still around (and blogging is still a thing), check back in January of 2025 and we can see how I did!

Until then...

Friday, January 10, 2020

Cardboard Keepers - T206 Red Sox!

Time for the next installment of "Cardboard Keepers", a thought experiment where I theoretically whittle my entire collection down to just 2,000 cards; 1,000 baseball keepers and 1,000 other keepers.

For this installment we go way back to feature some of the oldest Red Sox cards in my collection, from the infamous T206 tobacco card set!

We'll start things off with my newest acquisition, and a card that has yet to see the light of day on the blog until now, Heinie Wagner!  There are two different versions of Wagner T206 cards out there, with this one being the "Bat on Left Shoulder" variant as indicated by the PSA label.  This is one of my better-condition T206 cards for sure, a real beauty.

Heinie was a longtime member of the Red Sox, winning four World Series championships as a member of the club including the 1912 championship when he served as team captain.  He later served as the team's manager for the 1930 season as well.  He was known for being a strong fielder, who was fleet of foot.  In fact, his 141 stolen bases in a Red Sox uniform are still good enough for Wagner to hold 5th place on the team's all-time leader board at the time of this post.

Clean Sweet Caporal back on this one.  I don't pay attention to the many available back variants in this legendary set, I only hope to acquire one card of each Red Sox subject regardless of the brand name on the back.  Speaking of which, I'm inducting not just this card to the Cardboard Keepers collection, but also the other seven Red Sox I have from this set that have already been shown here in the past.

In alphabetical order by subject, here are those seven cards...

Red Kleinow is my personal favorite due to that awesome mask!

It's easy to see why this set remains one of the most prized baseball card releases in existence, more than 100 years after people were pulling these little gems out of cigarette packs.  These eight cards absolutely deserve a spot in this project!

That's 26 cards down in the baseball Cardboard Keepers collection altogether now, 974 to go.  You can see the virtual album here if you're interested.

I'll be back with more keepers soon, in the meantime thanks for stopping by!
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