Thursday, December 13, 2018

Buyback Franken-set: Uni-brow & Stars

It's been a good couple of weeks here since I took a crack at my Buyback Franken-set project.  Let's snag another ten cards from my stash and see how they fare!

1964 Topps #353 - Wally Moon

Off to a real strong start here!  Wally Moon's uni-brow has long been celebrated by collectors young and old, and it sure is on prominent display on his '64 Topps issue.  I stumbled across this card months ago when looking at other items being offered by a seller I'd won an auction with, and immediately threw it into my cart.  $2.99 and another new number gets crossed off the list, welcome to the binder Wally Moon!

1990 Topps #172 - Tom Lampkin

Next up, catcher Tom Lampkin.  I bought this buyback for one reason and one reason only, to strengthen my 1990 Topps buyback set.

Since I already had this 1979 Mike Bruhert (who?!?!) in slot 172...

...that's exactly what will happen.  Into the 1990 Topps buyback binder goes Tom Lampkin.

1999 Topps #385 - Curt Schilling

Curt Schilling's 1992 Topps card has been in the franken-set for some time now, and has defeated more than one challenger to retain its spot too.  Will his 1999 card join it?  Yes it will, since it's my first #385 buyback.  This one may stick around for a while too, since Curt had a solid season in 1999, hitting the 15-win mark for the third consecutive season for Philadelphia.

1990 Topps #119 - Billy Hatcher

Billy Hatcher was actually dealt to the Reds at the outset of the 1990 season.  He'd appear in over 130 games with Cincinnati, and would win a World Series that year.  I'd say that trade was a favorable one for Mr. Hatcher here.  Unfortunately, his franken-set match-up is not so favorable...

It's going to take a real winner of a buyback to unseat a '60s combo card.

1990 Topps Billy Hatcher is not that buyback.

2006 Topps #468 - Johan Santana

I grabbed this one because it was dirt cheap, and because Johan Santana was one of the better pitchers of his day.  Even better, this is a 2006 Topps buyback, and in 2006 Johan was arguable the best pitcher in baseball.  He lead the American League in starts (34!), innings pitched, wins, ERA, strikeouts, WHIP, and a host of other categories.  This one has to make the binder, right?

Oh man!  Look, Tom Griffin is no Johan Santana, but this is about as good as it gets when it comes to '70s cardboard.  Close to perfect if you ask me.  What an agonizing decision here!

In the end, I can't turn down a Cy Young year buyback.  I do feel a pang of guilt though in removing Griffin from the binder.

1990 Topps #371 - Jimmy Key

Back to 1990 Topps, this time with lefty Jimmy Key.  Key went 13-7 for the Jays in 1990, with an ERA on the wrong side of 4.00.  Not exactly the most exciting card in the '90s Topps set if I'm being quite honest.

Sal Bando's 1969 card has held down slot 371, and I don't see a reason to remove it for Jimmy Key.

Off to the 1990 binder with Jimmy.

1988 Topps #14 - Sparky Anderson

Love this one, what a great shot of the aged baseball lifer.  Unfortunately for Anderson, his Tigers would finish one game behind the Red Sox in 1988.  With a very low card number of 14, I figured this would not be an open slot in the binder.

That was indeed the case, as Sonny Siebert's 1973 card was found there.  I love the Red Sox as much as anyone, and really enjoy 1973 Topps as well...

...but I have to go with Sparky Anderson in this case.  The Red Sox may have had his number back in 1988, but he ousts a Sox card to push his way into the franken-set here 30 years later..

1990 Topps #338 - Dennis Lamp

I know, I know.  Another 1990 Topps buyback.  Dennis Lamp answered the call to the pen quite often in 1990, as he appeared in 47 games that year, just one of which was a start.

Already had this 1970 Paul Schaal in the franken-set in slot 338.

The Schaal is just fantastic, and certainly won't be displaced by Lamp.

1987 Topps #212 - Mike Fitzgerald

Next up, Mike Fitzgerald, who seems like he was a serviceable if unspectacular catcher for a few years there.  His '87 Topps card is a good one though, perfect photograph and equally important is the fact that it's perfectly cropped.

Greg Brock looks concerned.  He's been in slot 212 for a bit, but will he remain there?

Nope, looks like Greg had cause for concern after all.

1969 Topps #423 - Bert Campaneris All-Star

Last card for tonight, another impressive one if you ask me.  1969 wasn't Campaneris' best year offensively by any means, but he did swipe 62 bags nonetheless!  It's just too bad nobody told him to put his hat on here.  Still, an interesting buyback and a nice-enough looking card; I never get tired of these '69 All-Stars.

Had this 1990 Fred Toliver in slot 423.

But he's off to the reject box.  Why not the 1990 Topps buyback binder, you ask?  Well, I've already got the blue foil version of this buyback in that set.

I've completed the page where this card number sits, here's a look at how it looks now after Campaneris supplanted Toliver in the lower right:

Not bad!  The highlight here for me is the '87 Will Clark, a card I remember fondly from my youth, and one that I sought out in buyback form specifically for this project.

A couple of new numbers, a couple of cards that battled their way in to strengthen the franken-set, and a whopping four new additions to the 1990 buyback set.  I'll take that any day!  Thanks as always for stopping by...

Franken-set Progress: 636/792 (80%)
1990 Topps Buyback Set: 105/792 (13%)
"Rejected" Buybacks: 541
Total Buybacks in Collection: 1,282

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Where I've Been/Christmas Kin Part I

***DISCLAIMER***
There are a few paragraphs of music talk at the beginning of this post.  If that's not your thing, there are indeed cards below, just scroll down and I certainly won't be offended (or even know that you did!)
******************

Well, I inadvertently stepped away from the blog for a little over a week there.  Quite honestly, there has been little to no time for sports cards since I last posted here.  Since my previous post the Sunday before last I've been busy traveling all over New England for work, spending time with family, dealing with an injury that our dog sustained, and attending holiday parties for my job in multiple states, in addition to the normal day-to-day load of responsibility.

Oh, and that's not all.  If you've stopped by here with any frequency over the years you may know this already, but I'm a huge music fan.  It's maybe the only hobby that trumps sports cards for me.  I play the guitar, and have been pretty well obsessed with all aspects of music since very early grade school.  Because of this, I'm an admitted live music/concert junkie.  In fact, earlier this year I posted here on the blog that I caught one of my all-time favorite bands, Radiohead, twice this summer during a vacation from work.  Then, in September, I was fortunate enough to catch another favorite, Pearl Jam, play two shows at Fenway Park.  Well, this past week I capped off one of my greatest years for concerts ever with the third band in my "all-time favorite artists triumvirate"...

...Dave Matthews Band!  I expect to get some flack in the comments from someone, as I know there are a lot of folks who don't care for Dave Matthews for whatever reason.  To each his own, but I think they're one of the most talented groups of musicians that I've ever witnessed play and have been a devoted follower since the mid-'90s or so, really as soon as I reached an age where I branched out and developed my own taste in music.

From just about the moment I got my driver's license in 1998, my friend and I caught every show the band did that was within conceivable driving distance.  This went on for years, through high school and college, and obviously those are very formative years for taste in music and many other things, further entrenching the band among my all-time favorites.

Well, that same friend is still my best friend all these years later, and he now manages a hotel by the casinos in Connecticut.  He managed to get free seats to the Dave Matthews Band concert at Mohegan Sun Arena last Sunday through a business contact, and as you can see from the picture above they were damn amazing seats, too.  In fact, I've seen DMB play probably more than 20 times now, and this might have been the best seat I've personally ever had.

Sitting at work on Monday, I couldn't stop thinking about what a great time I had.  I'd been reading online how many fans feel that the band is really pursuing this year's new album and tour with a renewed vigor that has resulted in some of their best live shows in close to 20 years.  I couldn't agree more.  I found myself looking at the tour schedule (old habits die hard I guess), and it turned out they were playing SNHU Arena in Manchester, NH on Tuesday.  Well, guess who has an office across the street from that arena, and was already scheduled to be in that office on Tuesday?

There was no way after the amount of fun that I had on Sunday that I was going to be parked a stone's throw from the arena just three hours before the show and not go to this concert.  So, I did something I hadn't done in years and bought a single ticket.  Had a couple beers and some dinner when I got out of work at 5, and had an absolute blast at the concert, this time sitting on the opposite side of the stage, as you can see above.

My work validates my parking when I travel, and my mileage payout for driving to Manchester was more than my ticket set me back, so it was pretty much my second "free" Dave Matthews Band concert in the span of three days.  You can probably piece together what happens next here...

Yeah, there was one last show within reach, this time at TD Garden in downtown Boston Friday night.  Picked up a pair of good seats, made some dinner reservations beforehand and made a date night of it with my wife.  Man was I blown away by how talented these guys still are.  I could watch Carter Beauford drum alone for 2 1/2 hours, they were that good. 

So that is the brief story of how I saw Dave Matthews Band play three times, in three different states, in one week.  I will absolutely see them this summer if they tour this area again, fingers crossed.

Anyway, as you can see, baseball cards just haven't been on my mind (or my calendar) since I wrote here last.

That all changed yesterday though, when I arrived home from work to find an unexpected early Christmas gift in the mail!  My buddy Kin, who writes Bean's Ballcard Blog and is active on Twitter, sent me a fantastic package of cards completely out of the blue, and out of the kindness of his heart.

Inside were a handful of team set bags containing a variety of cards.  I haven't opened them all yet, preferring to stretch these out over a period of days (and a few blog posts).  Tonight I've got the contents of the first team set bag to share with you, and if it's any indication I think this is going to turn out to be a whopper of a surprise package.

This first bag contained a nice mix of both hockey and baseball cards.  First out of the bag were a couple of obscure Boston Bruins Young Guns rookie cards.  Zane McIntyre was a 2010 draft pick by the team, and he's still with the organization today.  He actually made it to the NHL for an 8-game stint in 2016-17, but went a pretty rough 0-4-1 with an GAA close to 4.00.  I love cards of obscure, short-term players though, and this fits the bill.

This one's cool too.  O'Gara was a 2011 draft pick for Boston, after a solid career playing defense for Yale University.  He got into a handful of games with the Bruins over the past couple of seasons, and played in over 20 games for the Rangers after being traded to New York in February.

Along with those Young Guns, I also got this great Artifacts Rookie redemption card of winger Anders Bjork.  Still just 22 years of age, Bjork has already appeared in 50 career games for the Bruins.  This is my very first card of Anders, great stuff!

Kin rounded out the first team set bag with some great additions to my Red Sox collection.  As an example of just how few modern cards I buy these days, not only did I need this base Archives card from two years ago, but it's just my second card from the set (the other being Xander Bogaerts).  I'll never complain about a new Mookie Betts card.

From the glorious 1990s, a Bowman's Best Franchise Best die-cut insert.  Everything was done to the max in the '90s, and so there are multiple versions of this card I discovered.  This is the "Mach 1" version, serial-numbered to 3,000 on the back.  Love it.

Much more rare than the Garciaparra, this Gold Refractor Josh Beckett from 2006 Bowman Chrome is numbered to just /50.  I'm six cards in here, and already I'm blown away by Kin's generosity!

Perhaps the most interesting card in the first section for me was this 2015 Choice New York Penn League card of fan favorite Andrew Benintendi.  This is from his time with the Lowell Spinners, the AA franchise for the Red Sox.  I truly enjoy minor league cards, but had never even seen this Benintendi, this one really brought a smile across my face.

To tie back to the first part of this post, I once saw Wilco play a show at the Lowell Spinners' stadium in Lowell, MA!

I got not one new Mookie Betts card from this first bag, but two!  Actually there was a third, a copy of that recent insert based on the vintage Transogram cards, but I already owned that one so it's been shuffled off to my trade stack.

We'll close it out with a rookie card of 22-year-old World Series champion Rafael Devers!  This is hard to believe, because it's one of the few modern sets I truly enjoy year in and year out, but this is actually the first 2018 Stadium Club card to enter into my collection.

Kin, I can't thank you enough for sending me this fantastic batch of cardboard, but I'm certainly going to try a few more times anyway!

To everyone else, thank you for stopping by, especially after a somewhat lengthy absence by my standards.  I'll try not to make it so long between this and my next post.  Until then!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Another American Caramel Down

I don't have any autographed cards queued up for a Signature Sundays post today, so instead how about a nearly 100-year-old Red Sox card?

Yes, it's another 1922 E120 American Caramel!  This time it's Joe Harris, who played a combination of first base and outfield over the course of his ten MLB seasons.

Like so many players of his era - at least it seems so to me - Joe was a fascinating individual.  Drafted into the army towards the end of WWI, he was in an accident that resulted in two broken legs and a skull fracture.  The skull fracture actually created a visible lump under his eye that he'd deal with for the rest of his life, and even undergo surgery to help correct.

Harris was also at one point added to baseball's ineligible list for violating the precious "reserve clause", but was reinstated in 1922 by Kenesaw Mountain Landis, and joined the Red sox for a handful of very successful campaigns.  In fact, in 1923 he led the team with a .335 batting average and had the 5th highest slugging percentage in the entire American League.

I really treasure these E120 American Caramels.  While no card that's this old is going to be found cheaply, they're not really cost-prohibitive either like some of the rarer cards from this era.  When you can find them, that is.  Makes for a fun team set to chase.  Speaking of which, Joe Harris is my 7th Red Sox card from the set, out of 15 available.  Perched on the edge of halfway complete now!

Well, that's all for today.  Enjoy your Sunday and thanks for popping in!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Buyback Franken-set: Brett Takes a Crack

Recently I was the recipient of a very generous and unexpected PWE from friend of the blog Brett.  Inside were five candidates for the Buyback Franken-set!  Brett actually sent me a huge batch of buybacks in the spring, let's see how today's do in terms of the franken-set...

1988 Topps #298 - Milt Thompson

In the first spot today we've got outfielder Milt Thompson of the Phillies.  A perfectly fine, if slightly bland, card as 1988 Topps goes.  Thompson does get a really rough match-up as the franken-set goes, however...

1966 All-Star Rookie Cup Rico Petrocelli.  I have a hard time envisioning this one ever getting the boot.  You know how this is going to go.

No chance for Milt.

1987 Topps #444 - Jeff Russell

Here's a smiling Jeff Russell on his '87 Topps release.  I have this buyback in Gold Foil format already, but thanks to Topps going crazy and doing five different foil colors with the 2017 buybacks (too much), this is technically not a dupe. 

In the franken-set binder's slot 444 I have this 1988 Topps buyback of Cal Ripken Sr., courtesy of Dimebox Nick.

Another easy call there.

1978 Topps #373 - Jim Willoughby

Sweet!  I love that this '78 Jim Willoughby is so wildly off-center that there are even teeth marks that you can see along the left edge of the card.  Jim actually pitched with the White Sox in '78, his final season in the Majors.  Still, this one has to have a good shot at the binder, right?

Ouch!  I'm a big fan of the infamous multi-player action cards from 1971 Topps.  Even though this could be considered a poor photograph by some standards, I like it quite a bit.

Willoughby goes down in an upset!

1975 Topps #273 - Steve Braun

Next up, a nice 1975 Steve Braun.  Steve had a good year in '75, batting over .300 for the only time in his career, and also contributing 11 home runs (the most he'd ever hit in a season).  Love the batting cage shot, too.  Is this where the tide changes and we get a buyback that makes the binder?

Oh man, tough call here.  This '68 Dave Johnson is pretty well beat up, but I've always liked this particular card quite a bit.  I think it's due in large part to the strange, almost discomforting, facial expression Davey is sporting here.

I have to go with the Johnson in what was probably the closest battle of today's post.

1973 Topps #109 - Doyle Alexander

We'll conclude with my personal favorite of the five buybacks Brett sent this time around.  This Doyle Alexander is a beautiful card that really has it all.  Behind the tall righty we've got spectators, and light towers, outfield wall advertising and even a few palm trees.  1973 Topps at its finest if I do say so myself.  I'd imagine this one would win out against probably 90% of the potential competitors in the binder, but unfortunately...

...at #109 it gets pitted against one of my personal favorites.  Even still, that Alexander is such a great card that I still briefly considered shuffling it in.

At the end of the day though, this Red Sox fan just couldn't make myself boot the Lonborg.

Brett, I hope you're not discouraged by going 0-for-5.  Your package was an awesome surprise at a time where I truly needed a pick-me-up, and I thoroughly enjoyed all of the buybacks even though they didn't make the franken-set.  The Willoughby will be an awesome addition to my Red Sox collection, and Doyle Alexander is easily one of the nicer looking buybacks in the rejected box.

Thank you!

Franken-set Progress: 634/792 (80%)
1990 Topps Buyback Set: 101/792 (12%)
"Rejected" Buybacks: 537
Total Buybacks in Collection: 1,272
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