Thursday, February 23, 2017

Buyback Franken-set: A Hand-Picked Quartet

I've driven hundreds of miles the past couple of days for work, and have a 16-hour stress-filled day today, so this will be brief.  Just a quick quartet of buybacks that I picked up a few weeks back on eBay...

1967 Topps #375 - Jake Gibbs

I don't know much about Jake Gibbs; he served as a backup catcher for the Yankees for a number of years.  I just like the classic photograph on this one, and it was also a card number that was missing from the franken-set previously, so it just made sense to pick up.

1967 Topps #318 - Dave Giusti

Since that seller offered combined shipping at no extra cost I grabbed two more Heritage buybacks from last year, the first being Dave Giusti.  Dave is better remembered as a Pirate, as he led the NL in saves in 1971 when Pittsburgh won the World Series.  A nice enough card, but it has some competition when it comes to franken-set induction:

There are just so many things I love about this card, not the least of which is the fact that it's easily one of the more colorful cards in the entire binder.

Giusti didn't stand a chance.

1967 Topps #33 - Sal Bando/Randy Schwartz

Here's the last of the trio of '67 buybacks I grabbed, Sal Bando's rookie card!  A very cool buyback indeed, but the competition for the franken-set binder is really starting to heat up...

Ladies man Bo Belinsky stands in between Sal Bando and franken-set glory.  Man this is a tough call...

I'm going with Bando, though I know at least one regular reader who I think will disagree with me.

1990 Topps #3 - Nolan Ryan

Here's the last buyback for today, also from eBay.  I know 1990 Topps is beyond ugly, but it has a special place in my heart as the first baseball card set I ever ripped a pack of, or collected heavily.  As such, at the outset of this project I envisioned the five-card Nolan Ryan subset that kicked off that set on the very first page of my franken-set.

This one now gives me cards 1-4, but I'm still in search of a buyback version of that elusive card #5 featuring Ryan tipping his cap in a Rangers uniform.  To this day I've never seen a 2016 buyback version to match my other four, however I know at least a few of them were stamped for the 2017 "Rediscover Topps" buyback promotion, so I hope to close that gap soon.

Well, that's it for now, back to work...

Franken-set Progress:  323/792 (41%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  105
Total Buybacks in Collection:  428

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Buyback Franken-set: The End of the '70s

Today's buyback post will feature ten cards from a recent lot of 68 that I snagged off of eBay for the price of a blaster.  They're admittedly not the most exciting grouping of buybacks (and I'd expect nothing more at that price), but they do nicely wind down the last couple of years of the '70s and transition over to the early '80s.  Let's dive in...

1978 Topps #359 - Marc Hill

Leading off a trio of '78 buybacks is catcher Marc Hill.  Marc spent 14 years in Major League Baseball, primarily as a backup catcher.  He played for a few different teams, but his most significant stints were with the Giants for 5+ years, and the White Sox for the final 6 years of his pro career.  This card has some competition in terms of franken-set induction:

A guy I know little about vs. a hat-less player from the '60s, not exactly a clash of the titans here.

As much as I dislike hat-less photographs on cards, I'm still going with the '67 Heritage buyback over Marc Hill.

1978 Topps #297 - Warren Brusstar

Warren Brusstar was a California kid, who made his MLB debut with the Phillies in 1977.  Though he saw action as both a starter and a reliever in the minor leagues, he was used strictly in relief throughout his 9-year MLB career, never starting a game.  His biggest claim to fame is probably that he was a member of the 1980 World Series Champion Phillies club.  When it comes to the franken-set Warren has an obstacle to overcome as well:

Well, this is an easy decision as these 1960 Heritage buybacks are pretty rare, at least in my experience so far.

1978 Topps #296 - Biff Pocoroba

The last of the '78s features backstop Biff Pocoroba.  A nice shot of Biff donning the "tools of ignorance" here, though it pales in comparison to photo on his '76 Topps release which looks like it was taken in a trailer park.  This is my favorite of the three '78s in today's post, but like with the other two there's a card standing between this one and the franken-set binder:

As far as the design goes, I like '75 Topps much more than I do '78, but I don't have any particularly strong feelings for this one.

1979 Topps #247 - Tucker Ashford

Let's keep moving on here with a batch of a half dozen '79s.  Tucker Ashford fills an empty binder slot for the first time today!  This is actually the second Ashford card to make the franken-set, as Gavin sent me his '78 release just before Christmas last year.

1979 Topps #14 - Rafael Landestoy

Rafael Landestoy looks awfully surprised here, I wonder what the photographer said to him before snapping this shot?  I really don't know much about Rafael, who played his last MLB game just after I turned two years old, and who possesses a lifetime batting average of just .237.

On top of that, Sonny Siebert's '73 issue already sits in slot 14 of the binder.

Sorry Rafael, but it just wasn't meant to be...

1979 Topps #472 - Craig Kusick

Craig Kusick played his entire career with the Twins, except for his final season (1979) when the Blue Jays bought out his contract mid-year.  To me, he looks in this picture like he would have fit nicely in one of those Saturday Night Live "Bill Swerski's Super Fans" sketches.  What do you think?  Either way, this card makes the franken-set in the absence of any competition.

1979 Topps #113 - Pete Redfern

Here's another one that makes the franken-set uncontested.  Pete Redfern was a longtime Minnesota Twin as well, in fact they are the only Major League franchise he ever pitched for.  Pete's career declined fast; in 1982 he was the Opening Day starter for Minnesota, by the end of 1983 he was out of baseball entirely after an elbow injury and then a severe car accident cut his career short.  This one makes the franken-set, and joins Redfern's '78 issue as his second card in the binder.

1979 Topps #528 - Wayne Gross

Wayne Gross, who looks absolutely disgusted here, played for 11 seasons with the Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles.  He clubbed 22 home runs and was selected as an All-Star during his rookie year in 1977.  The most random bit of baseball trivia on Wayne is that he appeared briefly (as a relief pitcher) in the 1994 movie "Angels in the Outfield".  As my first #528 buyback he makes the cut for the set.

1979 Topps #688 - Mike Willis

Last '79 Topps buyback for today features southpaw Mike Willis.  Mike stood at 6'2", though he looks about 8' tall in this photograph.

I would venture a guess that the high point of Mike's career was reached on September 20th, 1978.  Mike was thrown in as a spot starter for Toronto that day (one of only two starts he made on the season), and had to face off against Ron Guidry of the Yankees, who was enjoying one of the finest pitching seasons to date with a 22-2 record and a sub-2.00 ERA at the time.  In an outcome that few could have predicted, Guidry was hammered hard by the Jays and was pulled during just the second inning, whereas Willis threw a complete game and allowed just one run.  This was just the third (and final) time that Guidry lost a decision in '78.  Another bit of random trivia...all three of Guidry's losses that year came at the hands of opposing pitchers named Mike!

With a card number of 688 I thought for sure this would be a franken-set need, but amazingly enough that slot is already filled:


I went with George Mitterwald, but the more I think about Willis' unlikely win over Guidry in '78 the more I think I should have chosen his card instead.  One to revisit someday I guess, or maybe I'll land another #688 buyback that renders both of these irrelevant...

1980 Topps #8 - Craig Swan

We close out today's post with a 1980 buyback featuring pitcher Craig Swan.  Swan played most of his career for sub-par Mets teams in the late '70s and early '80s.  The lone footnote of significance that I could find on Craig was that he led the NL in ERA in 1978, which probably went largely unnoticed at the time since the Mets were so bad (hell, the team's #1 starter Jerry Koosman lost 20 games the previous year!). 

Prior to the 2017 Topps buyback program, buybacks from the '80s were somewhat tough to come by so this one could add some nice variation to the binder.  In order to do so however, it will have to bump this card:

I've got a lot of '67s in the binder thanks to last year's Heritage release... Chuck Harrison is pulled from the binder and is off to the buyback box.

Like I said, this wasn't the most thrilling group of cards, but in a project of this magnitude they can't all be superstars.  These did push me up another percentage point towards completion at least, and my pile of rejected buybacks has now reached triple digits!

Franken-set Progress:  321/792 (41%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  103
Total Buybacks in Collection:  424

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Signature Sundays - Tim Thomas!

Every so often when I have a few minutes to kill with my iPad, I'll search the trading card section on eBay for 'Autograph', sort by Ending Soonest and see if there's any low-hanging fruit to be plucked at the last moment. Doing so last weekend led me to one of my more satisfying cheap autograph buys in quite some time:

Sweet card, huh?  For a Bruins fan it doesn't get much better than this, as Tim Thomas' 2010-11 season when Boston won The Cup was one of the most dominating end-to-end goaltending performances I've ever seen with my own eyes.

I don't recall ever having seen these "Collision Course" autos before, but the card is wonderfully bright and vibrant, and features a nice, large on-card autograph.  I love that it depicts a play from the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, and that it was signed by Thomas just weeks or months after the Bruins won their lone championship of my lifetime.

Here's the back, serial-numbered to /100 as you can see, and you get a nice description letting you know that the photograph is from Game 3 of the 2011 Cup Finals.  To me, this one carries a little extra significance as my wife and I were married in 2011, and were actually on our honeymoon over in France the day this game was played (no, I couldn't watch the game over there but I recorded it and was home in time to catch the end of the series in real-time).

I know Tim Thomas isn't exactly a HOFer, but for a couple of years there he was one of the elite goalies in the league.  I'm surprised that it took me so long, but I'm happy to finally add his autograph to my hockey card collection, especially for the bargain basement price of $3.26 plus shipping!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Buyback Franken-set: I Get Buy(backs) with a Little Help from My Friends

Recently, buyback cards have been flooding into Shoebox Legends headquarters from all over the place.  In fact, I have four more folks who've sent me buybacks recently that I need to thank, and that's exactly what I'll be doing here.  Let's take a look at the goods and see if they make the franken-set album...

1978 Topps #167 - Tim Foli

First up is a trio of buybacks from Billy of Cardboard History.  Billy has just gotten into hockey cards recently, and sent me a few Hartford Whalers.  It turns out that I had the Whalers cards already, but the three buybacks he sent with them were all new to me!

Tim Foli's 1978 card was the first of the trio from Billy.  Foli was a solid infielder but swung just an average bat over the course of his career.  He possessed neither speed nor power, but still carved out a lengthy MLB career for himself.  He's got competition for slot 167 in the franken-set:

While I don't have any particular affinity towards Deron Johnson, this is a wonderfully colorful '72.

The competition was just a bit too tough, off to the buybacks box with Tim Foli.

1971 Topps #190 - Bob Tolan

Here's a really sharp '71 featuring speedster Bobby Tolan.  Bobby would actually miss the entire 1971 season after rupturing his ACL playing basketball in the off-season.  He'd return the following season though, and play well enough to earn Comeback Player of the Year.  Again there's some competition here with the following card already in slot 190 in the binder:

Unfortunately for Bobby Tolan, he's up against a Gold Glove and Rookie of the Year winner on one of my favorite designs of the '50s.

That one hurt a bit.

1960 Topps #414 - Don Williams

Here's the last of the cards that Billy sent, a 1960 buyback!  This set is sparsely represented within this project to say the least.  I was really excited to find that slot 414 was empty, this card is in.  Despite Don making just 11 career MLB appearances, this one will put up a tough fight against any future buybacks.

1987 Topps #537 - Rance Mulliniks

Next up is the very first 2017 Topps buyback to enter into my collection, pulled from a pack and sent to me by my buddy Shane Katz of Off the Wall.  I mentioned in a previous buyback post that I was excited to see all of the '80s and '90s buybacks included in this year's flagship Topps set as I think they'll be a huge help in filling the higher number portion of my set, and this is a perfect example of that.  Rance makes the set uncontested, and actually has an entire page all to himself at the moment.

1975 Topps #495 - Nelson Briles

This Nelson Briles came in a care package from Chris, aka The Pedestrian Collector.  Chris sent some much appreciated cards off of my set building want list as well.  I'll get to those in a separate post, but for today it's this super colorful '75 Topps Briles.  This one makes the cut without contest, and it's fitting given that Nelson had a card in the franken-set previously, but was bumped.  Great stuff!

1992 Topps #705 - Dwight Evans

Last card for today, this 2017 Topps Dwight Evans buyback just arrived yesterday courtesy of Commishbob, The Five Tool Collector.  Another shining example of 2017 Topps filling up the high number portion of the binder, as this is only the second buyback so far with a number of 700 or greater.  Making this one even cooler is the fact that I love "short term stop" cards featuring players with teams you don't normally associate them with.  Add to that Evans' long and successful career with the Red Sox and this is just a perfect card for my project.

Billy, Shane, Chris and Bob, thank you all so much for your contributions to my buyback project!  I really appreciate you guys thinking of me, I know I owe you all cards and will have some packages out soon here.

Franken-set Progress:  317/792 (40%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  97
Total Buybacks in Collection:  414

Friday, February 17, 2017

Bargain Hunting - Delvecchio Tallboy!

A couple of weeks back I got an email from Dave & Adam's Card World letting me know they were having a sale, and since I had a few minutes I decided to check it out.  While I didn't find any boxes or other unopened modern product that caught my eye, there were two cards in their vintage singles section (one baseball, one hockey) that I was highly interested in and thought were priced more than fairly.

Tonight I present the first, HOFer Alex Delvecchio:

Man I love the '64-65 Topps hockey set.  I'm partial to "tallboy" cards in general but this release in particular is just fantastic.  I'm not in a position to try completing a hockey set from the '60s at this point, but were I considering doing so this one would be at the top of the list.

Alex Delvecchio is one of those guys that from my point of view seems to get slightly less hobby respect than some of his contemporaries.  I'm not really sure why given that he was a member of three Stanley Cup winning teams, and that when he retired he was second in career games played, assists and points.

The copy I bought is actually slabbed by PSA.  The other cards I have from this set are not graded, and so I will most likely break Alex free of his plastic prison at some point.  I was very surprised to see this card earn a grade of just 3.  The reason why is evident on the back, though I still think the grade is harsh:

A bit of paper loss at the tail end of Alex's last name there and a couple of soft corners are about the only flaws here.  Doesn't bother me in the least, as you can still read all of the vital information and the cartoon is unscathed as well.  Besides, these issues are the reason this card was so cheap.

How cheap?  I paid $10.  Yup, I'd call that a bargain!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A '59 Trio

Just a quick post tonight, been a long day.  When I saw recently that an eBay seller had listed nearly an entire '59 Topps set, with each individual card starting at a penny and combined shipping available, I placed a few bids and came home with 9 new cards for my set in the end.  Tonight I've got the first three to show...

Ted Kluszewski had some monster seasons in the mid-'50s with the Cincinnati Reds, and finished his career with brief stints with the Pirates, White Sox and Angels. 

As a hitter, Ted could do it all.  He was a fantastic contact hitter with 7 .300-or-better seasons under his belt and a lifetime .298 average, but could club the hell out of the ball as well.  Kluszewski received at least some MVP votes every year between 1952 and 1956, and seemed destined for Cooperstown before injuries began to take their toll and his numbers really nose-dived in his final years.  This card was the cheapest of the few I ended up with at just 84 cents!

Minnie Minoso is a name I was excited to cross off of my want list.  He was 33 years old in 1959, and still enjoying success at the plate with a .302 / 21 HR / 92 RBI stat line.  Minoso is one of the more interesting random figures in baseball history as well, as he made a few at-bats at age 50 in 1976 and again at age 54 in 1980.

This one is pretty severely off-center, so I'll probably end up upgrading it at some point, but Minnie seems to be a popular guy with collectors and this copy was at least a couple bucks cheaper than similar examples on COMC.  Good enough for now!

Lastly, here's Bob Turley, fresh off of an amazing 1958 season in which he led the American League in wins, was named an All-Star, won the World Series, and captured Cy Young and World Series MVP honors!  I'd have to imagine that for a kid opening a pack of Topps cards in 1959 this would have been a very exciting pull indeed.  The condition of this one is also top notch, enough so that I will never need to even consider upgrading it.

So yeah, three cards closer, bringing me up to 218 in the binder.  Slowly but surely I'll get there...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Barely Treading Water in a Sea of Generosity

I'm beginning to have a real "first world problem" when it comes to operating the blog, and that is that so many generous folks are sending me cards that it's truly becoming a part-time job keeping up with everything.  Much of this is my own fault, as my habit of scanning every single new card has combined with my habit of thanking each person who sends me something in an individual post to create a two-headed monster.

I feel constantly behind, and what's worse is that the time I'm spending trying to catch up is eating into the time I'd have to actually ship return cards to everyone.  At some point in the near future here I might have to reconsider my modus operandi and start combining multiple packages into the same post, but for now I trudge on.

All of that was a very roundabout way of saying that today I present the latest excellent PWE that I received from Joe Shlabotnik of The Shlabotnik Report.  Let's dive in...

We start off the package with a trio of pitchers who spent parts of the 2000s in the rotation for the Red Sox.  First up is Bronson Arroyo from the set I'd love to see return as much as any other, Topps Total.  The most random thing I can say about Bronson is that he sat in as a guest guitarist for the song Black when I saw Pearl Jam at Fenway Park late this past summer.

Next up, John Burkett from 2002 Topps Gallery.  This is a sharp looking set, and I believe the only cards that I own from it have come from Joe.  John Burkett was only with Boston for two seasons at the tail end of his career, but I remember thinking of him as someone who pitched better than his numbers would have you believe.

Though Daisuke Matsuzaka is viewed as somewhat of a bust player in retrospect, I'll always have fond memories of the Red Sox landing him and the excitement that ensued among the fan base as a result.  As someone who was a kid fan in the '90s when guys like Hideo Nomo and Chan Ho Park were becoming huge stars it seemed like deja vu to me at the time.  This oddball comes from a Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine, you can see the perforation along the left edge of the card in this scan.  A solid addition to my ever-growing subset of Dice-K cards!

For a team collector, sometimes there's nothing more satisfying than crossing a simple common off the list, as was the case here.

I wasn't sure what this one was initially, but some quick research led to the discovery that it's from a set called 2004 MLB Showdown.  As you can tell by the rounded corners and instructions for play below the photo, these were associated with some type of baseball board or dice game.  I absolutely count cards like this when it comes to my Sox collection.  Besides, this photograph of Manny haphazardly chasing a ball sort of sums up his attitude for much of the time he spent in Boston.

A nice Steven Wright from last year's Heritage High Numbers set.  There aren't a ton of cards of this guy out there so I'm grateful whenever I receive one.  Shoulder problems forced his 2016 season to come to an early end, but I'm hopeful that he can bounce back and be a key member of the rotation in 2017 here.

This perfectly '90s Score Rookie/Traded card is a nice reminder of speedster Otis Nixon's lone season in Boston.  I remember him most from his days with the Braves and Expos prior to that.  Sort of sad to see him continue to struggle with drug problems even in retirement, I hope he's able to turn his life around and get back on a better track.

Finally, to close out today's post, Joe was kind enough to send a trio of Topps buybacks to be evaluated for my franken-set project!  Let's see how they fared...

1976 Topps #491 - Terry Crowley

Terry Crowley was a bench/role type player who served as a backup catcher, outfielder, pinch-hitter and DH for a few teams over the course of his career.  He was fortunate enough to be on two World Series winners, the 1970 Orioles and the 1975 Reds.  Unfortunately though, there's another '70s card in Terry's way in the franken-set:

Red Sox backstop of the '70s Bob Montgomery stands in Terry Crowley's way.

Terry comes out on the losing end, however he'll still be cherished within my collection as I love all buyback cards whether they make the franken-set or not.  Next!

1974 Topps #429 - Dick Lange

Dick Lange was a late-season call up for the Angels in 1972, and would play three more seasons with the team after that in what would be a relatively short career at the MLB level.  1974 was his busiest season by far, as he made more starts than in his other three seasons combined.  It was also the only time he'd post a sub-4.00 ERA in any season.

This 1979 John Urrea already sits in slot 429 of the binder.  I'm not particularly attached to this one, so I'm going with the card Joe sent me:

1979 Topps #672 - Ed Halicki

The last of the buyback trio is a nice high-number courtesy of 1979 Topps.  As I've mentioned before, this portion of the binder is sparsely populated, so this one automatically makes the cut and occupies a previously empty slot.  As far as the subject, the highlight of Ed Halicki's 7-season MLB career was undoubtedly the no-hitter he tossed against the Mets in 1975.

Two out of three ain't bad when it comes to the buybacks making the cut!  Thanks for these, and for the other great cards you sent as well Joe!

Franken-set Progress:  313/792 (40%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  94
Total Buybacks in Collection:  407
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