Thursday, May 21, 2015

One Card Post - More Claude!

What:  1990 ProCards #587 - Claude Julien
Where:  eBay
How Much?:  $1.25 (plus shipping)

:  The Bruins finally named their new GM yesterday, Don Sweeney.  For now, Claude Julien's still the head coach, but odds are he could be cleaned out as Don may want to choose his own.  In the meantime, I'm apparently working at becoming a Julien super-collector, as this is now my second card of his.  We'll see what changes the Bs management structure undergoes in the coming weeks, but whatever happens I'm glad to have Claude represented in my collection on cardboard...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

When Super Rare Meets Your Favorite Team!

Around the same time that I picked up my single rack pack of 2015 Bowman that netted me a Kris Bryant serial-numbered refractor, I tried my hand at one of these "three packs plus three framed parallels" Gypsy Queen packages.  I really loved this set when it debuted in 2011, but found it incredibly boring the following three years and basically avoided it outright. 

Well, Topps did something just different enough with the design this year that it piqued my interest, so just like with Bowman I figured I'd get a small sampling to evaluate for myself.  Boy am I glad that I did!

After opening things I found the design to be solid, definitely my favorite Gypsy Queen release since the first set.  My packs didn't lead to anything too groundbreaking (or so I thought), but I did get a new Nolan Ryan for my collection which is always a win.  Nothing too great as far as my framed parallels either, though I was at least able to send one off in trade already.

When I got around to scanning the cards and adding them to my collection on Zistle last night though, I got quite a surprise...

When I went to go add this David Ortiz to my collection on the site, I noticed that the image another user had already uploaded featured David at bat.  Well, it only took me a few minutes of research to realize that what I was holding was a photo variation.

What's really crazy is just how rare these things are.  While the mini photo variations come 10-per-hobby-box, the full size photo variations like this one are apparently seeded just 1-in-7 hobby boxes!  Considering this came from a retail pack, I'd think those odds would be even more astronomical.  In any event, these are super scarce.  A quick check last night turned up only two examples of this card on eBay, with the sellers asking between $40 and $60.  Turns out this is probably one of the more valuable Red Sox cards I've ever pulled on my own from a pack or box.

I know some people find photo variation cards to be gimmicky, but to me pulling something this rare and having it be my favorite team is pretty spectacular.  Upon making my discovery David was plucked from the stack of common scanned cards and given a crisp, new Ultra Pro one touch magnetic holder.

That's two really good retail pick-ups in a row.  I definitely need to pick up something else in the coming days to see if I can keep this rolling!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Spring Fever & Retro Rickey

This weekend I received my first 2014 Topps Spring Fever card in the mail.  I have to say, these are busy, obnoxious and over-the-top, but I like them!  The card is much shinier than it comes across in the scan.  It was sent to me PWE-style by my friend and frequent trading partner Mark Kaz of This Way to the Clubhouse.

As per the unwritten rules of our ongoing PWE exchanges, Dustin had 8 other cards in the envelope with him.  This Dante Bichette marks my very first 2000 Upper Deck SP Authentic card.

I like these state/hometown parallels from last year's Bowman set.  This is actually the first one I've got in my Red Sox collection, but I'd love to pick up the others at some point.

From the bright and shiny Pedroia card to this black and white masterpiece, this delivery truly had a little bit of everything.  This is how you use a tightly cropped photo on a card.

Not many Red Sox inserts left for me from 2015 Topps Series 1 at this point.  This one features Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi.  I'm still in the market for an Eddie Vedder from this set if someone's got a spare kicking around...

Another new set for me, 1999 Upper Deck SPx.  I have a couple of these from later sets that I've received in trade, and they all have the common theme of the metallic element on the card.  Feels like something that would have been high end at the turn of the century.

What a great mini card, a pumped up David Ross and a good look at the tools of ignorance.

Here's one that I was really happy to find, Jed Lowrie's rookie from 2008 Topps Heritage.  Any PWE that results in me crossing a card off of my relatively small organized want list is a success.  While not a superstar, Jed has carved out a decent career for himself.  I always liked him with Boston and I'm glad to see he's still kicking around the league years later.

Finally, my pick for card of the package is this 2002 Donruss Originals Rickey Henderson.  I will gladly accept any Henderson Red Sox cards, as I've only got a couple.  The fact that this one pays homage to what is probably my single favorite set of the '80s is just the icing on the cake.  On top of all that, I found out when adding this to my collection on Zistle that it's actually a short print!  The best part?  Mark pulled this one for me from a dime box!

Mark, thanks again my friend!  This was a quick and easy post, so it jumped ahead of a couple of folks as far as trade packages go.  Angus, Jeff, Mark Hoyle, Tim B (and possibly some others), I haven't forgotten you and will have posts up for all of your packages as soon as I'm able to get caught up on scanning here!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Wait...Do I Like Bowman?

Last week when I was in Target picking up some household items I decided to grab a single 22-card jumbo pack of 2015 Bowman...

I'd seen the cards featured on a few of the blogs I read, and they looked interesting enough from afar that I wanted to evaluate them myself with the cards in hand.  This jumbo packed seemed like the way to go, after all it clearly states that I will get MORE VALUE!  Sounds exciting.  I actually think I did fairly well, in fact I pulled one card that, while not exactly groundbreaking, would cover the cost of the pack a couple times over.  Let's take a look at the 22 cards I pulled...

Appropriately enough, we start things off with a player I've never heard of (Mike Foltynewicz in case you can't read it due to the foil).  Made his MLB debut last year with the 'Stros, and is now hurling for Atlanta.  Since I don't know anything about Mike, I'll talk quickly about the design.  I have to say that I really like the look of these cards.  Since I've gotten back into the hobby (2007) it just seemed like Bowman looked way too similar year after year.  Any time I'd receive a Bowman card in a trade package it was like a 10-minute exercise trying to figure out what I was even holding in my hand.  These are clean, recognizable, cards and I'm a fan of the design.

Clayton Kershaw is card #1 on the checklist.  For some odd reason, even when I have no plans to chase the set, I just enjoy pulling card #1 from a pack.

This guy just hit his first career home run last night for the Phillies.  At least there will be something for Phillies fans to watch this year.

One thing I don't like about the set is the lightening up of the background on just the right-most 2/3 of the card.  I'm sure it was a design decision intended to make the player "pop", but on certain cards it just looks out of place.

This is maybe the best example of what I mean out of what I pulled.  Just looks wrong.

I don't get to watch too much West Coast baseball, since I have a job that requires me to wake up before 6am EST, so I have to confess I had no clue there was a guy named Matt Shoemaker playing in the Majors.

As I mentioned above, it always kind of bugged me that there were so many variations and so much general confusion within one year's Bowman set.  In jumbo pack form like this though, I kind of like the variety.  Everything you've seen up until this point is from the standard base set...

...but at this point we start getting some variety, like this Bowman Chrome Prospects card.  The prospects come in regular format (card numbers start with BP) as well as chrome (card numbers start with BCP).

Another Chrome Prospect.  This guy's coming off of an entire missed season as a result of Tommy John surgery.  He's a third baseman though, not a pitcher, and that surgery seems rock solid these days anyway.  From what I read he seems to be one of the top prospects in the Twins organization.  This card will be headed in a future PWE to Brian of Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary.

Now we switch over to the standard, non-chrome Bowman Prospects portion of the pack.  Here's Archie Bradley, who at this point in the season is in the running for worst ball-to-the-face incident of 2015.

I'd imagine that the Phillies team is so bad this season, that if you listen to sports talk radio in the Philadelphia area there's probably a lot of discussion about the farm system?

Colin Moran is currently playing AA ball for the Astros.

Getting a streak of players who've never cracked an MLB roster can get a little dull I admit, but maybe I'll stumble across these again going through a box in a couple of years and some of them will have made it.  At the very least they'll come in handy when trading with other team collectors.

After starting off strong with Archie Bradley, that's 4 straight Bowman Prospects cards with 0 total MLB games played among the subjects.

Make it 5, Taylor Williams has yet to advance past A ball in the Brewers organization.

Now we flip back to a couple of Chrome Prospects.  Heading into 2015 this guy was the #11-ranked prospect in the Blue Jays farm system.  Maybe I'm a pessimist but I think his chances of making the show are slim at best.  Either way, it helps to fill out my next PWE for Douglas at Sportscards from the Dollar Store.

I literally have nothing to say about Jeremy Rhodes.  Not one thing.

Bryan Mitchell has made the roster, but has yet to pitch any innings for New York so far in 2015.  This is a regular base card, which is a little odd given that he has less MLB experience (3 games, 11 total innings pitched at time of this post) than Archie Bradley, who's featured in the Prospects set.  It's Bowman, what can I say.

With just 150 cards in the base set, I don't think it would be too bad to put together.  It's probably blasphemous of me to say this, but I think I might like the design better than flagship Topps.  I guess for me personally the "sonar" design of the flagship set just got old kind of fast.

Final card in the pack.

I'm sure you haven't been counting along, but if you had been you would be asking yourself why I've only shown 21 cards when the wrapper says 22 are included.  Well, I saved the best for last.  Right around the middle of the pack, in the midst of that dreadful run of non-chrome prospect cards I was pleasantly surprised to find this:

A nice, shiny, purple refractor of the big name prospect/rookie in the game right now!  Kris Bryant sure seems like the real deal from all the highlights I've seen, and has knocked in an impressive 24 runs in his first 29 career games.  I don't think I could have asked for a better card from this $5.99 pack!

The purple refractors are serial numbered to 250 copies, and as you can see I got the very last one in the print run, which is kind of cool.  These seem to be regularly selling for north of $10 on eBay, but I'm going to hold onto my copy for now.

So yeah, I think I actually do like Bowman this year.  I'm not sure I'll buy much more, I could see another rack pack or two in my future if I happen to find myself in the card aisle at Target.  If I can get past my OCD issues with card identification and having multiple flavors of set in the same pack and just enjoy the cards for what they are, they're not so bad.  At least it's not another set with black borders...

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Signature Sundays - Brock Holt & A Whalers Benchmark!

One of the people I've been trading consistently with for the longest period of time is Douglas from the blog Sportscards from the Dollar Store.  He's one of the more generous people I've encountered in this hobby, and seems to spend as much time finding cards for others as he does for himself.  Recently he went on a shopping spree for me at one of the big card expos up in Canada!

In the package that arrived containing the goods was this awesome, and brand new, Brock Holt autograph.  I hadn't even had a chance to pick up a single pack of this stuff yet and already Douglas has hooked me up with one of the Red Sox from the autograph checklist.  I love Gypsy Queen autos because they always seem to be on-card.  This is also my very first autograph of the team's super utility player from the past couple of seasons.

Honestly, this one card alone would have made for a really terrific PWE.  It's not every day that someone sends me a certified, on-card Red Sox auto.  If you know Douglas though, you won't be surprised to learn that this was just the tip of the iceberg.

As has happened so many times now over the years, my Whalers collection got a huge boost from Douglas...

1985-86 O-Pee-Chee was the mainstream '80s set that I had the fewest Whalers from.

Was is the key word there.

I found 9 of them in this package.

Every one of which I needed.

These are in great shape too!

My only Whalers card of Tim Bothwell.

I'm just two cards away (Kevin Dineen RC and Ron Francis) from a team set now.

Douglas even sniped a few other choice '80s needs off of my Zistle want list.

I'm now within just a card or two on the '86-87 and '87-88 OPC sets as well.

I just never seem to find '80s OPC singles at a decent price around here, but with friends like Douglas I guess it's not a problem.

It wasn't all '80s cards as far as Whalers content goes though.  How about an obnoxiously busy 2005-06 In The Game Tough Customers card of Dave "Tiger" Williams?

I've already received the emerald ice parallel of this same card from Douglas in a previous package, now I've got the base version as well.

There's no way Douglas could have known this, but two of my favorite cards in the entire package were these Springfield Indians...

I saw quite a few Indians games back in the day.  Both of these cards come from the time period where they were affiliated with the Hartford Whalers, so I count them both in my Whalers collection.

Man, even the New England Whalers were covered in this one!  This is just my second from the '76-77 OPC WHA set.  Great look at the harpoon logo on Webster's sweater.  The best thing about this card though is that it represents my 1,400th unique Hartford Whalers card!  Not too bad!  I must be getting close to at least one of the most comprehensive Whalers collections out there.  1,500 here I come!

I had the rainbow foil, and retro parallel versions of this card, but not the original until now.  Go figure.

Closing out the Whalers content (at least as far as cards go) is this nice Gordie Howe mini from 2011-12 Parkhurst Champions.  I think I've mentioned it before but I think this would be a really fun set to bust a box of someday.  Looks like they're under $50 now, tempting...

One more from Parkhurst Champions.  These wire photo cards are probably my favorite element in the entire set.  There are autograph versions that are absolutely some of the most beautiful hockey card autos I've ever seen, but they always sell for way more than I'm comfortable spending on a modern hockey card.  Just an awesome photo here with a certain #4 lurking in the background.

Score!  I had no idea this one was coming, and it's one of the last few significant cards I needed towards the '73-74 Topps set.  With this one slid into its binder slot I'm now just a handful of cards from completion, with no real major big names left.  Since I'm so close now, I've gone ahead and put up want lists for the next two hockey sets I'm going after; '72-73 and '71-72 Topps.  If you've got any kicking around look me up!

Now, for the final and most random item of the package, here's a Mark Howe figurine:

I know these aren't technically Legos, but they might as well be.  I've seen these on a few blogs but never in person before until now.  As someone who enjoyed Legos quite a bit as a kid, these are kind of cool.  Of course, any obscure Whalers memorabilia is a win in my book.

Obviously I opened it up, I mean what good is a toy that you can't play with?  As you can see, Mark comes with quite a few accessories, as well as a base to stand on.  I love that the skate blades can be removed.

Here he is all assembled, with the puck on his stick.

We've even got name and uniform number on the back.  This is definitely one of the coolest and obscure pieces of Whalers merchandise I've got, and fits perfectly on the bookcase shelf in my card room/office.

Douglas, you've really outdone yourself with this one.  Thank you very much for the great Holt autograph, all the Whalers, and the Howe figure.  I picked up enough singles for you at the hobby shop Friday to get another PWE in the mail this week!
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