Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Shiny Cardboard - My New Favorite Vlad

If I were to make a formal list of things that draw me to sports card collecting in general or to picking up a particular card, there are a few obvious characteristics that would be near the top.  Vintage, buybacks, and of course shiny!

I was at an impressionable age when the first refractors and other truly shiny cards first burst onto the scene in the early '90s, and I've loved them ever since.  I'll be sharing some of my favorites old and new on the blog going forward under the aptly-named series of posts called "Shiny Cardboard".

Today's card is actually brand new to my collection even though it's over 20 years old now.  Just arrived in my mailbox this past week.  Check it out!

This beauty is a 1999 Bowman's Best Refractor.  I was not collecting cards in 1999, so I only learned about this release recently from a former card blogger that converted over to the YouTube platform.  The checklist is 200 cards deep, with the first 100 featuring established stars of the game, and the second 100 featuring rookies and promising youngsters.

This particular card is from the "Best Performers" subset that falls toward the end of the veterans and stars portion of the checklist, and features the player superimposed over a home base shape.  The standard cards have a diamond shape behind the subject.   I hope to show one of those off in a future post.

What an absolute stunner in terms of shininess level.  What I learned in the YouTube video about these refractors that makes them especially cool is the etching.  Look how Topps applied etching to the wrinkles in Vlad's uniform, and the lines on his belt and his helmet.  Even his batting shinguard has a little etching action going on!  Apparently Topps only really practiced this etching in a very limited number of sets for a year or two before giving up the practice entirely.  It's a shame, because wow does it make a huge difference in the visual appeal of the card.  It's pretty amazing to see how far things advanced in the hobby in the decade between 1989 Topps and this blinding sight!

It's a little hard to make out near Guerrero's mid-section, but these standard Refractors are serial-numbered to /400.  There is also an Atomic Refractor parallel numbered to just /100, which I've yet to see in hand.  I can't imagine it looks any nicer than this amazing card though!

Here's a look at it in its new home, a brand-spanking-new Ultra Pro One Touch holder.  Look at that guy glow!  It's almost hypnotic.  If you had to guess what I paid for this card on eBay what would you say?  $20?  $10, maybe?  How about $3.99 with free shipping!  I couldn't click Buy-It-Now fast enough.

So there you  have it, my new favorite Vladimir Guerrero card.  Thanks to Eric for teaching me about the set and these fantastic Refractors, and thanks to you for stopping by to read my ramblings about baseball cards.

Until next time, stay safe and be kind!

Monday, June 1, 2020

Trading Card Challenge - My Favorite Football Card

Time for post number three in response to Cardpocalypse's 7 Day Trading Card Challenge.  For this post we were asked to select our favorite football card from our collections.  As with the second post, this one is going to be a challenge for me, as I just plain don't own many football cards.

A couple of years ago in fact I would have passed on this completely with an "I don't collect the sport" excuse.  These days I'm more in the camp of "I don't seek out football cards often, but I have a small handful that I really do enjoy".

Of the 30,000+ cards in my organized and inventoried collection on The Trading Card Database, I have just 57 total football cards as of the time of this post.  Ironically, my best football card by a long shot is tied up in a time capsule for the next few years, so let's see some of the others that are eligible for the challenge instead...

For a long while I probably would've gone with this Rob Gronkowski RC in response to this question.  I plucked this off of COMC back in 2014 for just 55 cents if you can believe that.  These days it's probably around a $10 card.  It sure was fun watching Gronk mow down defenders for many years, and I'll always treasure this card because of that.  It's not the card I'm going with for the challenge, but is probably a close second place.

Aside from that Gronk, until the past year or so the other highlights in my small football collection were pick-ups that occurred simply because I like shiny cards, like this Bowman Chrome Bubbles Refractor...

...or this absolutely stunning Atomic Refractor of Randy Moss.  Is there a more attractive shiny card out there than the early 2010s Topps Atomic Refractors?  I really don't think so.  I really regret not buying a Tom Brady from this set before the well dried up.

This one is also kind of cool, since it features a signed ticket stub from one of the Patriots Super Bowl championships.  This was an impulse grab out of a $5 bin at a card show many, many years ago.

Those were pretty much the highlights of my football card collection until this past season, but none of them fit the bill.

This past year I decided to experiment with picking up a few more football cards, and challenged myself to purchase and post about one card for each of the Patriots' 16 regular-season games.  I ended up with some really great vintage football cards as a result, like this 1951 Bowman Eddie Saenz. 

This one is particularly cool in that it will always remind me of the trip we took last fall to see the Patriots play the Redskins on the road in Maryland.  A great road trip, with good food and friends, and a Patriots victory.  Followed that up with a week in DC seeing the sights and eating the foods, and it was an amazing ten-day stretch for sure.  Like the Gronk RC, this one was pretty high up there when I was whittling this list down just because of the connection to those memories.

I've come to appreciate football cards enough that, while I'll never collect them anywhere near the level that I do baseball, hockey, or even soccer, I do occasionally check COMC for unique and cheap pick-ups.  That's how I stumbled across this awesome "Biggie" Munn for just $1.50 last year.  A cool card, but not my favorite.

I love the 1960s/early 1970s "tallboy" releases from Topps, and that includes football.  Someday I'd love to own a copy of the iconic Joe Namath card from this set, but spending four figures on a football card is way down my priority list and may never happen.  I'd grab a '53 Mays or Mantle before the Namath with that kind of money to spend.  I've got three commons from the tallboy football set though, and they're pretty great.  Not great enough to be my favorite football card.

That honor goes to a card I pulled in the only football repack I've ever purchased, strangely enough...

Yes, this Barry Sanders' Topps rookie card is my favorite football card!  I pulled this back in 2011, and even though it's worth just a few bucks it's my favorite football card so far.  Being a child of the late '80s/early '90s I recall what a force Sanders was, even though I wasn't even a big football fan at the time.  Still one of the great backs of all-time, and certainly one of the most fun backs to watch of all-time!

So there you have it, a little out of my wheelhouse for sure, but that's what accounts for the challenge portion of the 7 Day Trading Card Challenge I suppose.  The next post in this series will have a similar vibe, as I actually have less basketball cards than I do football even!

Until then, thanks as always for stopping by...

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Signature Sundays - Brooks Robinson

It's Robinsons weekend here at Shoebox Legends I guess, with a sweet vintage Jackie yesterday and a nice Brooks autograph today!

This one's from the 2005 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes release, a set I really enjoy due to the fact that the design is inspired by those early '90s Upper Deck Heroes baseball inserts (Ryan, Aaron, Williams, et al) that I clamored for as a kid.

Each of the twenty players on the autograph checklist in Upper Deck's 2005 release has five different cards, four in that classic vertically-oriented Heroes design (seen here), and one landscape-oriented painted card like this one.  All of the autographed cards in this release are hard-signed too, no stickers here.  These legendary athletes held the cards in hand while signing.

I used to search these particular autographs out much more vigorously than I do these days, but if I see the right opportunity I'm always up for adding one to my collection.  This is my first Brooks Robinson autograph from the release, and my 17th Emerald Autograph (#'d /99) overall.  It's unlikely that I'll ever complete this set given the amount of money I'd have to throw at the remaining 80+ cards, so I just enjoy and appreciate what comes my way.

Here's a look at the back, pretty standard fare indicating that the cards were sent to Brooks, autographed by him, then returned to Upper Deck.  You don't buy these cards for the backs, though.

Always liked Brooks' big, loopy signature, and this is a fantastic, clean example. 

Brooks was actually featured once in a Signature Sundays post here on the blog many years ago now.  I think I may prefer that Gypsy Queen auto over the Heroes one I featured today, but this one's no slouch either.  My instinct is to sell one since I've been in purge mode, but for now I think I'll keep both.  Having two Brooks Robinson autographs is a nice problem to have after all.

Thanks as always for stopping by.  I've got plenty of other great autographs stockpiled here at Shoebox Legends World Headquarters, so expect more Signature Sundays posts over the summer here!

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Cardboard Keepers - Another Hard-to-Believe eBay Flip Lands Me a Legend!

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.

Today's keeper card comes courtesy of a recent eBay flip.  I've been on a pretty incredible run of these in the past couple of months.  I guess my timing for thinning out my collection and selling some unwanted items matched up nicely with the insane recent rise in the sports card market.  So far this year I've:
Today's flip is more in line with the Jordan RC, in that it was a many-to-one flip in terms of number of cards coming and going.  Flipping a bunch of smaller cards into one bigger, more valuable card is actually my favorite method, since it's in line with my goal of reducing the overall size of my collection.

So, what did I part with to raise the funds?

For starters, a lot of 26 1995-96 Topps Finest hockey refractors.  This was every single bronze (the most common, though still rare) refractor that I'd accumulated over a period of years.  Most were had on COMC for a buck or less, but a couple (like the Jagr and Lemieux) were a few bucks on eBay.  There's a very good reason that I didn't mind parting with these, and in fact had been meaning to for some time, but that's a post for another day.

After a bit of back and forth with the eventual buyer, I let the lot go for $95.  This was a fair price for both of us, and I'm certain it's more than I paid for these individually over the years.  The buyer is working on a complete set and was so excited to land this many at once, and I was about halfway to raising the funds for the dream card I was targeting.  A win/win!

Next up, a '52 Bowman Bob Feller.  I had to think long and hard about this one, given that I have a long term passive goal of completing the 1952 Bowman set.  The thing is, though it's not that easy to tell in the scan, this card has a yellowed tint to the front that makes it stand out noticeably when viewed alongside the couple of dozen other singles I have from this set.  Enough so that it always drove my OCD a little nuts, and thus Bob Feller was left on the proverbial cutting room floor as far as my purging goes.

This is a card I absolutely intend to pick up another copy of someday, when the time is right and the right deal comes along.  For now, I was happy to collect $75 for it, a deal that again I think was fair for both parties.

Finally, I sold this very shiny Jimmy G rookie card for $35.  It doesn't mean much to me as a Pats fan since Garoppolo plays for San Francisco these days, and it was an easy choice to part with for that reason.  I got $35 for it, which truthfully is probably right around or even slightly less than what I paid for it when I picked it up.

I was excited to let it go, because when the funds from those three sales came through I had what I needed in my Paypal account, and sprung into action!

With just a few clicks of a mouse, a card I've drooled over for pretty much decades now was finally mine.

Check it out!

Ain't she a beauty?  I had this absolutely stellar looking '55 Robinson in my eBay watchlist for weeks before pulling the trigger, hoping the entire time that nobody would grab it before I had a chance.  It's graded a 3.5 "VG+" by PSA, but I can tell you from looking at many, many examples of this card over that period of weeks that this is one of the nicer looking examples in terms of overall presentation that I could find at this grade/price point, and even a couple grades above this quite honestly.

Here's a better look, taken with my iPhone since my scanner tends to wash out PSA slabbed cards a bit.  If you click the image for a larger version you may be able to tell that the top right corner has a ding, which I'm assuming is why this card was graded as low as it was.

To me, it's an absolute stunner.  Good centering, not perfect but good, and just a clean, vibrant front.  Those colors are absolutely popping off the card even 60+ years after it was produced.  No surface creases, "snow" over Jackie's face, or any other detractors like that.  Not that I even mind that type of stuff when it comes to cards like this, but this example doesn't seem to summer from any of that.

This card makes me smile every time I hold it in hand and look at it.  I don't miss that Bowman Feller much now!

Here's the back, a little off center but perfectly clean.  Like the front, colorful and vibrant.  Even if I am fortunate enough to collect for many decades to come, I will never, ever have to upgrade or replace this Jackie!

Well, that's the story of how I acquired the first playing-era Jackie Robinson to officially enter my collection.  To be able to do so using cards I already had laying around and wasn't totally appreciating makes the experience even better. Cleared out two graded cards, and a couple dozen more in toploaders, and brought in a single stunner in return.  More space freed up in my card room, and a card I've always dreamed of owning in had, now that's how I like to collect!

That's 36 cards down in the baseball Cardboard Keepers collection altogether now, 964 to go.  You can see the virtual album here if you're interested.  As you can see in the snippet above, it's starting to look pretty impressive thanks to all this eBay flipping.

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

Friday, May 29, 2020

Hobby Goings On

Taking it easy today on the posting front with just some random happenings from the past few days as far as my collection is concerned. 

First up, I processed a big lot of these Red & Blue Wave parallels from the 2018 Panini Prizm World Cup set and added them to my collection proper.  The highlight of the lot was the Ronaldo above.  I'm up to 123 of these parallels now after entering in the lot, close to 50% of an entire set.  I've got a slightly smaller lot of Green & Orange Wave parallels to enter next, then I can start evaluating where I'm at with my goal of forming an overall "parallel franken-set" of this 300-card release!

While we're on the topic of really cool parallels, here's one that recently arrived in the mailbox courtesy of eBay.  Upper Deck did "Electric Ice" parallels for a couple of their flagship hockey sets in the mid-'90s.  In the 1995-96 release they took the rarity to another level and also included these "Electric Ice Gold" parallels, which fell just one per box.

I gladly scooped up this Sean Burke for my Whalers collection at under $3 with free shipping.  A team set of these is a tall order based on rarity, but doable.

This was such an awesome set design-wise that I feel compelled to show the back as well.

Speaking of my Whalers collection, while continuing on my ongoing purge I finally tackled a 5-row monster box on the floor next to my desk that I believed to contain duplicates only.  Imagine my surprise when I came across a stack of Whalers cards that I'd seemingly never scanned and inventoried!

The stack was a few dozen cards thick, and as I started comparing them against my inventory on The Trading Card Database, I realized I needed just about every one of them.

When the dust settled I'd added no fewer than forty new Whalers cards to my official collection!  This was the largest single jump for me on that front in quite a while, and motivates me to really try at the goal I threw out at the beginning of the year to accumulate 2,000 Whalers cards by December 31st.

I'm still more than 200 shy of that even after adding these to my tally, but I have quite a bit of that 5-row monster box still to process in my purge.  I have a feeling there could be another stack or two like this one, if I'm lucky.

Obviously I'm not going to show all forty of the new Whalers cards in this post, but selected a few favorites like this '89-90 Scoring Leaders Ron Francis.

This one's pretty cool, from the 1989-90 O-Pee-Chee Stickers set.  First one of these in my formal collection!  Awesome brown pads on Peter Sidorkiewicz there.  I wish I had a second copy of this so I could peel it and stick it to the outside of the shoebox where I keep my Whalers collection.

One of the highlights of the find was definitely this 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee John Garrett.  This plugs a hole in my Whalers team set from the greatest flagship hockey set ever made.  I have the entire Topps set, and it looks like I'm missing only Mark Howe to knock the O-Pee-Chee version out now.  There's a card I'll need to seek out very soon.

I chose this '94-95 Leaf card just because Geoff Sanderson's facial expression is so serious.  Lighten up Geoff, it's a game.

Strong mullet game from Pat Verbeek on his '94-95 Ultra card.

Not a bad grouping there, felt great adding a chunk of Whalers in one fell swoop like that.

Here's another over-sized Helmar Polar Night card.  This one features Charlie Ganzel of the Detroit Wolverines.  I love the stockings, uniform, cap, floating ball, all of it.  Just a really cool and visually attractive card of a guy who'd almost certainly be missing from my collection otherwise.  That pretty much sums up the beauty of Helmar in my opinion; affordable cards of guys whose playing-era cards are astronomically priced, if they exist at all.

Well, that's a wrap for now.  Thanks as always for stopping by, and check back soon for the results of another hard-to-believe eBay flip!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Buyback Franken-set: This Guy Really WAS Everywhere

Today's Buyback Franken-set contestant is inspired by a great post over at Night Owl Cards, where Greg explored how prevalent Bert Campaneris was on Topps baseball cards during his career.

1966 Topps #175 - Bert Campaneris

Can we include my Buyback Franken-set though in terms of places where Bert Campaneris resides?  I'd sure like to think so, as this 1966 buyback is a real beauty.  This card actually did not make an appearance in Night Owl's post, but many other cards showing Bert in the act of bunting sure did.  Just a great shot of Campaneris on this card, those '60s A's uniforms were fantastic.

Nice clean back too, with a cartoon that references Bert pacing the AL in stolen bases in '65 (a feat he'd accomplish again in '66, and then two more seasons in a row after that!).

So, does this make the binder?

Well, I had this '78 Jerry Morales in slot 175.

I say "had" because he was vacated in favor of Campaneris immediately.  Not exactly a nail-biting call there.

So I concur, this guy really was everywhere.  And now he's in my Buyback Franken-set as well!

Franken-set Progress: 672/792 (84%)
1990 Topps Buyback Set: 134/792 (16%)
"Rejected" Buybacks: 711
Total Buybacks in Collection: 1,517

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Trading Card Challenge - A Cool Recent Photo

I decided to take Tim B of "Cardpocalypse" up on his 7-post Trading Card Challenge, first posted about a week ago now.  Seemed like a fun way to explore my collection and generate a few blog posts at the same time.  So far I've completed:

Challenge #1 - My Favorite Card Acquired in Quarantine

Yep, that's it.  What can I say, I'm a little slow.  Today we'll tackle the second part of the challenge, which is to spotlight a card from the current release year (any sport) with a unique photograph.

In looking at Tim's list initially, I knew that this particular post would probably be the most challenging of the seven for me.  The reason I say that is because I just don't really buy new cards.  I couldn't tell you the last time I picked up a blaster, or even a stray pack, of new product, even before the pandemic.  Pickings were going to be slim here, and I was unsure whether I even had one good candidate to be honest.

For example, in my organized and cataloged collection I have just six total football cards, three total hockey cards, and one single soccer card as far as current-year releases go.  Basketball and non-sports?  Nothing at all.  So, that left baseball.  Even there I'm admittedly thin, with just two dozen 2020 cards to choose from, nearly all if not all of which came in trade packages.

Thankfully there was one card among those 24 that stood out and qualified as having a unique photo.  Therefore, by process of elimination alone, I have my response for the second post in this series...

This great Opening Day 'Spring has Sprung' insert came my way courtesy of reader Travis and his son Dan.  I absolutely love the low-angle shot here of Rafael Devers and a couple of teammates sitting on baseball buckets sharing a joke at a Spring Training facility.

The photo itself is unique and awesome, which is why it's today's featured card, but I also dig the design of the set with a sort of retro/60s type feel to it.  Of the very limited number of current-year cards that I have, this one is my clear cut favorite.

So, that's a wrap for the second post in this series.  I'll be back soon to tackle the next one, my favorite football card.  Pickings will be kind of slim there also, but I think I have one in mind.  Until then, thanks as always for stopping by!

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

I Sold My 1953 Topps Cards! Part 4 - '71s

Last October, I made the difficult decision to sell off my 1953 Topps graded set, which was over 100 cards in size.  While I held onto the Red Sox and select other singles, I parted with over 100 PSA 6 '53s in the sale.  I netted $1,750 for the lot, which is by far the most I've ever made in a single card sale in my time in the hobby.  I decided to save/invest $1,000 of the proceeds, and spend the remaining $750 on some cool replacement cards for my collection.

In the first post in this series I covered the sale.  In the second post, I started sharing my pick-ups with the resulting windfall in the form of 16 1953 Topps cards from COMC to re-initiate my set build in raw format.  In the third post in the series, I picked up another 33 raw '53 Topps cards courtesy of eBay.  So at this stage I'd spent $138.20 and acquired 49 1953 Topps cards, nearly half as many as I'd sold off in the first place and still with over $600 in play money left to spend.

For the next installment in the series, I decided to chase a few 1971 Topps HOFers.  Not sure why I had this thought at the time, maybe it was knowing that 2020 was 1971's year for Topps Heritage.  Anyway, after picking up the Nolan Ryan from the set in a nice-looking PSA 4 a while back, I was hoping to find some companions for Nolan in the same grade.  The 1971 black borders are notoriously tough, so I just wanted my cards to look presentable, and was more concerned with authenticity and frugality than with perfection.

In the end I netted an additional six players with plaques in Cooperstown (mostly) from the iconic set...

First up, the three pitchers, starting with Catfish Hunter.  This is a great example of how going for a visually-appealing lower grade is very budget friendly, as I paid just $7 for this card.  1971 was Hunter's first 20-win season, and it began a stretch of five consecutive years where he'd reach that plateau (while also capturing three World Series titles!).

Next up, the great Steve Carlton!  Coincidentally, Steve first hit the 20-win mark in 1971 as well.  The following year he'd win his first of four NL Cy Young Awards.  Amazingly, this card was had for $6.99, a penny cheaper than the Catfish Hunter even.  As you can see, I went for some low-hanging fruit at first as far as HOFers from this release go.

Closing out the starting pitcher portion of my pick-ups is Juan Marichal.  This was actually the cheapest of the three, picked up on COMC for just $5.80 last November.  Unlike the first two hurlers, Juan's 20-win seasons were behind him by this point.  You could argue that 1971 was his last great season actually, as he still logged 279 innings, 18 wins, and posted an ERA below 3.00.

Moving on to our trio of offensive players now, beginning with the Human Vacuum Cleaner himself, Brooks Robinson.  I always liked the image of Brooks that Topps chose for this set.  Even though it looks like he may have just swung and missed, it's a great shot nonetheless.

I always get a kick out of Brooks' "small visor" batting helmet.  In fact, I just watched the 1971 Topps All-Star game the other day (with no new sports I've been enjoying throwback games on occasion) and commented about how Brooks' helmet reminded me of this card.  $6.57 for a card I've desired for years now, not too bad!

Alright, so one of the six cards I picked up is a subject who is not enshrined.  I am of the opinion that Rose should be allowed in, though unfortunately it does not look like that will happen before he passes away.  In any event, I wanted to pick up the hit king's card for my '71 collection regardless of his HOF status.  This card was more expensive than the first three combined, at $23 even.

Finally, the card I was most excited about from this small grouping...

...my newest playing-era Clemente!  I aspire to one day own the entirety of Topps' flagship Clemente card run, from his 1955 RC through his 1973 issue.  For $26 I crossed another card off that list here.  This one is a relatively high number, and like the other cards in today's post is all I could ever ask for as far as condition goes from this set.

Just a classic shot of Clemente and his bat barrel, simply fantastic.  As far as pure aesthetics of the photograph goes, I prefer this one over the other two flagship Topps Clemente cards in my collection so far ('61 and '69).  For just a bit more than a blaster would set me back, I can't believe it took me this many years to track one of these down.  A satisfying purchase with my '53 Topps funds, indeed!

Put together with the Nolan Ryan, Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson cards that I already had from this release, I'm on the cusp of hitting double digits in my quest for the HOFers from the set now!  Running total for these six cards was $75.36.  I'll certainly keep my eye out for opportunities to continue with this '71 HOFers/stars quest in the coming months.

1953 Topps Sale Breakdown

$1,000.00 - Invested/Saved
$138.20 - 49 1953 Topps Singles
$75.36 - 6 1971 Topps Singles

Remaining Funds:  $536.44
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