Thursday, February 21, 2019

Stadium Club David Ortiz Tribute

A few summers ago (boy does time fly!), I picked up a small set of David Ortiz cards offered online by Topps via their "Throwback Thursday" promotion.  I stayed away from these for the most part, but in this case I broke from that and actually purchased an entire 6-card set for $19.99...

What sold me was that the set was a tribute to David Ortiz, done in the style of 1997 Stadium Club.  Ortiz will go down in history as one of the best, and certainly most clutch, hitters in the history of my all-time favorite franchise.  The allure of a small tribute set to David done in the design of one of the nicer Stadium Club releases of the '90s was too great, and I caved.

The first card in the set is the only one from David's time in Minnesota.

The backs, unfortunately, are all identical and do not in any way resemble 1997 Stadium Club.  Oh well, the design on the front and great photo selection were enough to sway me regardless.

The other five cards all depict Ortiz from his time with the Red Sox.  I like the barely-visible bunting and the large crowd in the background on this one.  The low angle of the shot makes David seem like a majestic figure, easily 8' tall!

I like that Topps wasn't above using a quirky photo in this set.  After all, I've got hundreds of cards featuring David Ortiz taking a swing at the plate, so a shot of him showing off his World Series rings in front of a championship banner on the Green Monster is a nice change of pace.  Actually, this might be my favorite card in the set.

Love that Topps used a shot from David's actual 500th home run for this card, which he hit at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg against the Rays (it was also his second home run of the game).

I like the ballpark backdrop from Houston on this card.  I don't recall seeing too many cards where you get a good look at Minute Maid Park (what's with all the fruit-juice-based ballpark names?) with the roof open like that.  Based on the large sign that's cut off along the left border there I can tell this is from the 2004 All-Star game.  A significant year for Ortiz, and for Boston fans!

The final card in the set features, fittingly, a shot from Ortiz's final regular season game.

Though I stay away from these online exclusive release cards these days, I certainly have no buyer's remorse over this purchase.  These are really quite beautiful in hand, and with only 374 sets printed they make for some relatively rare additions to my ever-growing collection of Big Papi...

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Hockey Favorites from Marc B!

Recently my friend Marc B (check him out on Twitter at @477marcbruins) and I exchanged packages of hockey cards.  He sent me a killer batch, and around the same time I finally shipped out a stack I'd set to the side for him as I've been purging the past few months.  I'd say we both did very well, but you be the judge!

Right out of the gate, a completely awesome card that I had never seen before.  This is from the 2008-09 Upper Deck Canadiens Centennial set.  I'm sure Marc sent me this one because he knows I'm a fan of cards featuring the greatest trophy in sports, and man is this a great picture.  The Canadiens have had a lot of success in their 100+ years, so it looks like there are actually quite a few nice Cup photos in this release.  I'm going to have to seek out some more of these.

Next up, a Rink Collection parallel from 1995-96 Pinnacle for my Whalers collection.  I've mentioned time and time again that these are among my favorite parallels of the '90s as far as hockey cards go, and getting a new Whalers one makes this package an automatic winner.

Marc included a few Whalers cards that I already owned, but the timing was perfect as I was putting together a package for Chris of The Collector, and just tossed them right in!  They've already been given a good home (or will be passed on by Chris I'm sure).

How about a couple of Joe Sakic cards?  Fine by me!  I've always been a fan of Joe, given that his rookie card was the big card in the first set I ever collected, 1989-90 Topps/O-Pee-Chee.  I really enjoyed the exciting Nordiques/Avalanche teams of the '90s too as a kid fan.  They were really stacked with talent there with guys like Sakic, Sundin, Forsberg and Roy, among others.  In addition to this very shiny card from 1999-2000 Pacific Prism...

...I also got this "Planet Ice" insert from 1998-99 Omega.  I had the Sergei Fedorov from this insert set already, so this one will pair nicely with it in my star players binder.

I mentioned that I sent a few Whalers dupes over to Chris, but that doesn't mean that Marc didn't hit on any Whalers needs.  In fact, there were a few new Hartford cards for my collection to accompany the Rink Collection parallel I already showed.  The first was this gorgeous Sean Burke "Mirror Gold" parallel from 1995-96 Select.  It looks just as shiny and entrancing in hand as it does in the scan here.  This is Burke's second appearance on the blog this week, having been the subject of last weekend's Signature Sundays post.

Here's one I can't believe I didn't already own.  Mainly because I really enjoy the '90s Fleer Ultra inserts and have grabbed as many as I could over the years.  Somehow had never landed this '94-95 Speed Merchant Geoff Sanderson until now.  Score!

I know parallels were really done to death in the '90s, but if you were going to pick a color for a parallel as a Whalers fan emerald would be fairly high on the list.  I've got a couple/handful of these Parkhurst International Emerald Ice parallels, but was missing this one.  Another nice inclusion from Marc.

How about a simple Gold parallel from 1993-94 Topps Premier.  Topps Gold were some of the earliest parallels I can remember, and I'm still missing quite a few for my Whalers collection.  One less now that Marc supplied this Randy Cunneyworth.

Parallels are becoming one of the best ways to supply me with new Whalers, as the percentage of standard team sets that I've already completed continues to rise.  That was the case again here with this Score Gold Rush.  I actually had more than half of this team set already, so it was a lucky shot here with James Patrick.  Awesome.

Finally, how about a base card?  I really, really like this Parkhurst set.  If I was going to pony up for a hobby box of anything in 2019, this product might be high on the list.  Feels great adding this long overdue card to my Whalers collection.

With these new Whalers from Marc in hand, I'm now up to 1,458 Whalers cards in my collection on The Trading Card Database.  That's good for 4th place at the moment, getting closer to my goal of the largest Whalers collection on the site.

While technically a Hurricanes card, I still like to accumulate cards from the 1997-98 season that feature photos from before the team moved to Carolina.

Also received a card of perhaps (likely) the greatest Whaler of all-time, Ron Francis.  I can still vividly recall the devastation wrought by the "trade that shall not be named".

Here are a couple of unique ones that I'd never seen before.  First, a redemption card for a Rink Collection parallel that wasn't ready for insertion in packs just yet I guess.  This would've netted you card #252, a Jeff Friesen RC.  I really had no idea these redemption cards existed, a cool oddball for my hockey collection.  Speaking of which...

...this is a Canada Post NHL All-Stars card from Pacific, and features a stamp embedded in the card.  I had the pleasure of meeting Milt Schmidt at a Bruins game by chance years ago, and have kind of collected him since.  This is one of the more interesting cards in that small collection for sure.

One of the themes for my blog this year is improving my Wayne Gretzky collection, and Marc certainly delivered on that front as well!  I got this super shiny Gretzky from 1999-2000, the year in which Upper Deck went crazy and produced approximately 40,000 different cards of The Great One.  I love this one because I love most shiny cards, and also because you get a great look at a unique Team Canada uniform.

The other Gretzky was a card I already owned, the iconic 1988-89 Topps release showing him sporting a Kings sweater after the infamous trade.  As doubles go it doesn't get much better than this, so I'm sure I'll have no trouble finding a home for this one.

Lastly, you probably wouldn't predict it, but this card is a strong candidate for my favorite in the entire package.  I first found out about these acetate All-Rookie inserts when Marc himself sent me the Chris Pronger a couple of years back.  Since then I tracked down a second one on my own, and now Marc has hit me up with my third card from this ten-card set.  These are just beautiful in hand, but they're actually pretty darn rare.

On top of that Mikael Renberg was a favorite of mine growing up, as the least-known member of the famed "Legion of Doom" line with the mid-'90s Flyers (Lindros and LeClair being his linemates).  Because of that I've always kind of casually collected his cards, but this one takes the cake as probably the single nicest Renberg in my collection.

As if all this weren't enough, there was one more card in this package that will have to wait to be the subject of this weekend's Signature Sundays post.  Thanks once again for this great batch of cardboard Marc, and I'm glad you enjoyed the package I sent you in return!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

RCRC (Royal Crown Ryan Card)

I've been a fan of Nolan Ryan since I was a kid.  He was really the first baseball player I ever collected, and was a big part of the first set I ever collected as well thanks to his 5-card tribute at the beginning of the 1990 Topps checklist.  Since I returned to collecting as an adult I've made it a point to grab a bunch of his cards, but only recently did I land one that I've been fascinated with for a good three decades.  Allow me to set the stage...

I received a $100 Amex gift card last year for reaching my 15th anniversary at work.  After using $65 of the balance on a '58 Topps Hank Aaaron, and another $4.99 on the Sean Burke autograph I posted last Sunday, I had $30.01 in credit left on the card.  So, I made a $30 deposit to COMC, and then pulled the trigger on this...

I'm honestly still stunned that I finally have my very own copy of this iconic card after all these years.  Nolan was just 24 years old for the 1971 season, and was still figuring things out in the early part of his career.  Though fully converted to a starter, he posted just a 10-14 record with a 3.97 ERA in his final season with the Mets.  He'd yet to lead the league in any statistical category, hadn't thrown a no-hitter, and was yet to be named an All-Star, but as we know now there were many successful years still ahead!

His 1971 Topps card is one of the more desirable and valuable cards in the set, and is well known for the large, bright Royal Crown Cola advertisement above the outfield fence in the background.  I love that the photograph was taken from the perfect angle to have Nolan's head land between the two words, leaving the advertisement virtually un-obscured.

This can be a pricey card, which is the main reason I'd never ended up tracking one down after all these years.  I thought this copy looked absolutely fantastic, very well centered, good color, certainly good corners by 1971 Topps' tough standards.  Quite honestly, I'm astonished that this graded only a "VG-EX 4".

Here's a better look at the card.  One of the best known cards of the decade that was the '70s, and now my oldest Nolan Ryan card.  His first three Topps releases are high on my dream card list, as was this one prior to 2019.

Here's a look at the back, in great shape as well.  I'll tell ya, if this is a PSA 4 I'm certainly going to be picking up some other HOFers from this set in this grade!

My accepted offer for this card on COMC was actually $43.50, so I had to spend $13.50 of my own money in addition to the $30 I contributed from my gift card.  $13.50 well spent if you ask me.

With that, my first $100 Amex gift card is effectively toast ($.01 balance remaining), but I couldn't be happier with the results!  I got a $50 Amex card with it if you recall though, and used that on a pair of singles I'll be showing here in the coming weeks.

Thanks for stopping by!

1971 Topps Nolan Ryan - $13.50 ($43.50 - $30 Amex Gift Card)
2019 Running Total - $30.56

Monday, February 18, 2019

Lazer Prizm Mbappe!

A quick post today, featuring a pretty big pick-up for my soccer collection from last year...

My sixth card of the exciting French striker Kylian Mbappe!  Already one of the most highly touted young prospects in the world, Mbappe really became a household name at last year's World Cup.  He was easily one of the most exciting players in the tournament, and was a big reason France won it all.

Kylian has continued his strong play since the tournament, with a league-best 19 goals in 18 matches so far for Paris Saint-Germain in France's top tier of football, Ligue 1.  He was ranked #4 on The Guardian's infamous list of the Top 100 Male Footballers for 2018, behind only Luka Modric, Ronaldo and Messi.  Not bad for a guy who only turned 20 a couple of months ago! 

This Lazer Prizm is my fourth variant of this particular Mbappe card now, joining the base, Blue & Red Wave Prizm and Orange & Green Wave Prizm.

A very sharp looking card of one of the most promising young players in global football.  Since it's such a nice reminder of France's exciting 2018 World Cup win, I hope to add a couple more versions of this card to my soccer collection someday!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Signature Sundays - Another '89-90 Featuring Sean Burke!

Another card bites the dust this week in my quest to land as many autographed '89-90 Topps/O-Pee-Chee hockey cards as I can.  This Sunday it's longtime NHL goaltender Sean Burke!

Sean was in the early part of his career at this point, which began with a four-year stint in New Jersey.  In his rookie season of 1987-88, the second round pick was most impressive for the Devils, as he led the club far into the playoffs and just a win from the Stanley Cup Finals.  Many fans felt he was the future of the franchise.  Few could have foreseen that just a few seasons later he'd be sent to Hartford after sitting out the entire 1991-92 season due to a contract dispute.

He'd go on to become the main goaltender for my beloved Hartford Whalers from '92-93 through the franchise's move to Carolina following the 1996-97 season.  In the end, Burke played a total of 18 seasons at the NHL level, quite impressive for any netminder.  He'd play with the Hurricanes, Canucks, Flyers, Panthers, Coyotes, Lightning, and Los Angeles Kings before putting the pads away for the final time.

Another nice addition to my project here.  I picked this one up for $4.99 with free shipping, but used the same Amex gift card that I paid for my '58 Hank Aaron with, so it really didn't set me back anything.

Tune in next Sunday for another autograph towards this project, this one sent to me by a hobby friend!

1989-90 O-Pee-Chee Sean Burke Auto - $4.99 Amex Gift Card!
2019 Running Total - $17.06

Thursday, February 14, 2019

And Now for Something Completely Different...A Whalers Rookie Game Roster

I plan to cover a few non-card items from my sports collection on the blog this year in a series I am blatantly stealing the name of in "And Now for Something Completely Different".  Actually, rather than a blatant rip-off, let's call it a tribute.  After all, I've always loved Monty Python.  Though they were admittedly a little before my time so to speak, I've always enjoyed both the show and the fantastic movies that...

GET ON WITH IT!

Ah, was starting to ramble a bit there, let's take a look at the first item...

This is a larger item, a full 8 1/2" x 11" paper actually, so I'd encourage you to click on the image above for a larger view.  What you're looking at is a roster/lineup sheet from a rookies exhibition game played between the New York Islanders and the Hartford Whalers on September 23, 1985.  I picked this up a few years back because I thought it was a really awesome and unique addition to my Whalers collection.

I really couldn't find much information out on the internet related to this game, so I ended up asking the seller.  It turns out that the game was played at one of the Islanders practice facilities as a way for the teams to exercise some of their younger talent and provide fans with a cheap and enjoyable event.  The person I bought this from was the original owner, and was about 10 years old at the time of the game.

I was intrigued by the autograph that you can see here, just to the right of the Islanders roster for the game.  Not an easy one to make out by any means, but I felt pretty strongly that the initials didn't match anyone on either roster as far as I could tell.

I ended up getting some clarification on this from the seller as well, and it turns out the autograph is Gord Dineen of the famed Dineen hockey family.  The seller asked his father, who had taken him to the game, for information on the signature, and he recalled that Gord (who had already seen enough action with the Islanders that he was no longer considered a rookie at this point) was there to watch and support his brother Peter, who was playing in the game for the Whalers.

To me, this made the piece even cooler.  Not only did I have an interesting backstory from the original owner to accompany it, but the Dineens are well-known to Whalers fans as Peter and Gord's brother Kevin was one of the most talented and most beloved players ever to suit up for Hartford!  I have so many cards featuring Kevin with the Whalers, it's kind of cool to have a piece of memorabilia that ties both of his brothers who also played in the NHL to the team in some small way.

Here's a closer look at the Whalers roster for this one.  Some names I certainly recognize there who would go on to play a significant number of games in Whaler green, including both goalies, Brad Shaw, Sylvan Cote and Dean Evason among others.

I also found it interesting that there's an Andy Brickley listed here?!?!  I have no idea what's going on with that, the Andy Brickley that enjoyed an 11-year NHL career and is the current color commentator for the Bruins was never associated with the Whalers franchise.  Also, though he was a left wing/center which matches the Andy Brickley listed here, he was past being considered a rookie by this point as well.  Who is this bizzaro-Brickley?

The Andy Brickley I know did play some games with the Springfield Indians around this time, who were relatively nearby and I believe were a minor league affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins.  I'm guessing that has to be him on the roster, given that he was around the right age and was playing minor league hockey in the area.  Can't be a coincidence, can it?

I'm really glad that I drifted out of my normal collecting comfort zone and picked this up.  Especially since I was the sole bidder at just $2.99.  Have you ever picked up lineup cards, score sheets or anything similar for any of the sports you enjoy collecting?  Would love to hear about it in the comments if so!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Treating Myself to a Hammerin' Hank

Last year I celebrated (celebrated?) my 15th anniversary at my place of employment.  They take pretty good care of us - I guess I wouldn't stick around somewhere for a decade and a half if they didn't - and one of the little perks that we get is Amex gift cards for significant work anniversaries.  When I hit my 15-year mark in May, I received $150 in gift cards.

I'll confess that I'm one of those people who seems to take forever to spend gift cards for whatever reason.  Maybe it's the same trait that allows me to keep dozens of unopened packs on the shelf for a rainy day without blinking an eye.  Anyway, I sat on these in much the same way, until I finally got off my butt and associated them with my PayPal account last month.  I figured a year where I'm trying to cut down on hobby related spending was the perfect time to bust these out and get some essentially free cards.

There were actually two gift cards, one with a value of $100 and one with a value of $50.  The reason that matters is that I found out the one caveat with using pre-paid gift cards through PayPal like this is that you have to cover the entire purchase with one single gift card.  There wasn't going to be any combining of these to bring home a single, $150 card or anything like that (foiling my original plan).  Instead, I'd need to charge as close to $100 worth of cards as I could manage to one card, and as close to $50 worth of cards to the other.

I started with the larger card first, and I couldn't be happier with my haul:

This beauty is now my oldest Hank Aaron card.  His '54 Topps rookie is on my short list of "I just won the lottery" dream cards, but I'd be worried about a counterfeit copy with a card of that magnitude, and just about any even poorly graded version is going to run you four figures.  For now, this card will more than suffice as a beautiful '50s representation of one of my all-time favorite ballplayers.

Hank had a typical beast of a year in '58, with a .326/.386/.546 slash line accompanied by just shy of 200 hits, 34 doubles, an even 30 home runs and 95 RBI.  He finished 3rd in NL MVP voting behind winner Ernie Banks, and Willie Mays.  Not bad for your age 24 season!

Here's a closer look at the front.  PSA graded this one a "VG-3", which seems a bit harsh, but is totally fine with me as it made the card affordable.  I think it looks fantastic, in as good a condition as I'd ever hope to attain anyway.  Slightly off-center from left to right but bright, vibrant colors and great overall visual appeal.  I mentioned this only a few days ago, but the more I collect from '58 Topps the more I like the set.

My scanner struggles with PSA-slabbed backs, but I wanted to post this to show that, despite the low grade, this back is basically pristine with no paper loss, glue, creases, gum stains or any of that nonsense.

Yeah, January was a pretty good month for my collection, that's for sure.  I think I got a decent deal on this card too, as the seller accepted my best offer of $61.50.  Throw in $3.50 for shipping and I used an even $65 from the first gift card to bring this card home.

With a nice prize like this coming out of the gift cards, and more still to come, I certainly hope I hit the 25-year mark at this company!

1959 Topps Hank Aaron - $65.00 ($61.50 + $3.50 shipping) Amex Gift Card!
2019 Running Total - $17.06

Monday, February 11, 2019

Buyback Franken-set: A 6-Pack from John

Late last year I won a contest held by John over at Johnny's Trading Spot.  The prize ended up being pretty amazing, more cards than I thought I'd be getting for sure.  There were easily a couple hundred cards in the bubble mailer, but we'll ease in today with just half a dozen buybacks!

1986 Topps #685 - Tim Wallach

This Tim Wallach is an automatic winner, as it's the first #685 buyback I've acquired and makes the franken-set by default.  I don't think anyone could have predicted what a monster season Wallach would have the year after this card was printed up.  A great start to today's proceedings...

2006 Topps #UH76 - Danys Baez

Next up, a 2006 Danys Baez.  I'm guessing John must have had two of these, because I doubt he'd send me any Braves he didn't already have in his massively impressive team collection.  This one's from the 2006 Topps Update set though, so for the time being anyway...

...it's ineligible for the franken-set.  I'm up to quite a few Traded/Update buybacks, so it's not out of the realm of possibility that I'd try an update franken-set someday.  Not even going to consider it until I finish the main set though, too many projects as it is.

1989 Topps #42T - Kevin Gross

Two out of three cards are Montreal Expos to lead off today.  Kevin Gross sure was reliable and durable, as 1989 was the fifth year in a row that he'd start at least 30 games.  Unfortunately this is a Traded buyback as well.

Ditto to everything I said above about the Baez card.

1990 Topps #294 - Craig McMurtry

Now we're talking!  There are few cheap thrills in collecting that excite me as much as a 1990 Topps buyback.  This one is particularly great, as it features pitcher Craig McMurtry taking infield practice wearing his everyday glasses.  Love it.  It's even better due to the fact that it's the first #294 buyback I've encountered, giving it a clear path to the binder, and...

...completing another new page!  I love the variety on this particular page, not a single year is repeated and not a single team is repeated either.  No HOFers or anything like that (Ted Simmons would be the closest I guess), but a great looking page nonetheless.

1989 Topps #203 - Rob Ducey

Continuing on, we've got another '89, this time from the standard flagship set.  I remember Ducey's name (as a kid it was a slightly comical one), but don't really have any recollection of him as a player.  He lasted 13 years in Major League baseball, but wasn't considered a real full-time player for more than a couple of those at most.

He's got a tough competitor as the franken-set goes too, with a nice J.R. Richard Record Breaker subset card from 1979 Topps.

Easy call there, Ducey was doomed.

1990 Topps #38 - Wes Gardner

Last card for today, and it's yet another 1990 Topps buyback!  A Red Sox player too, can't beat that.  In this case I already had a buyback in slot 38:

Another Red Sox buyback from a good 30 years prior.  No need to sweat this one, Casale stays in place...

...and Gardner enters into my dedicated 1990 Topps buyback binder.  He becomes the 107th card to enter that binder, which is good for about 13% completion at this point.  Not too bad given that I started that project much, much later than the Buyback Franken-set.

These were fantastic, but they were only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the prize package I received from John.  I'll have some more of those cards up here later this week, or early next.  Thanks for stopping by!

Franken-set Progress: 642/792 (81%)
1990 Topps Buyback Set: 107/792 (13%)
"Rejected" Buybacks: 571
Total Buybacks in Collection: 1,320
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