Thursday, March 24, 2011

1993-94 Fleer Ultra Hockey - The Leftovers

I picked up three packs of 1993-94 Fleer Ultra hockey the other day. You can find the best of the three over at A Pack To Be Named Later. Here are a few choice cards from the other two packs:

#96 - Chris Luongo

Interesting choice going with the pink "POST SEASON TRADE" circle.

#145 - Arturs Irbe

Random fact: Irbe suffered a serious injury in the 1994 off-season when he was attacked by his own dog.

#156 - Adam Oates

Oates would finish third in the league with 142 points in 1992-93. He enjoyed another fine season with Boston in 1993-94 as he again finished third in the point race, this time with 112 points. I'm not sure why Oates isn't in the Hall of Fame. I believe his 1,420 career points are the most of any eligible player not in the Hall.

#165 - Jari Kurri

Kurri, Gretzky, and the Los Angeles reached the Stanley Cup finals in 1992-93, but would not be so lucky in 1993-94. They finished near the bottom of the Pacific division and missed the playoffs altogether.

#189 - Scott Stevens

Your 1993-94 +/- leader!

#204 - Ulf Samuelsson

Ulf, along with Ron Francis and another player, was shipped from Hartford to Pittsburgh in one of the most one-sided trades in NHL history. He's also partly responsible for ending Cam Neely's career.

#234 - Zarley Zalapski

Zalapski was part of the same Francis trade but going the other direction, from Pittsburgh to Hartford. He was the only Whaler in the three packs I opened.

#239 - Keith Primeau

Primeau had a career year in 1993-94, with highs in assists (42) and points (73).

#248 - C.J. Young

C.J. is a Massachusetts guy, so he was probably excited when he was dealt from Calgary to the Bruins during the 1992-93 season. Unfortunately for him, after seeing action in 15 games with the B's that year he would never play in an NHL game again.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Out With The New, In With The Old - Sal Edition

Time for the second "Out With The New, In With The Old" post. This one's a quickie. A few months back I purchased just a single pack of 2010-11 Upper Deck hockey (still the only 2010-11 Upper Deck cards I've purchased so far), and was fortunate enough to pull a P.K. Subban Young Guns short print. I had no real use for the card, and was going to list in on eBay until I found out that my buddy Sal from Puck Junk needed it. I would much rather see the Subban end up in Sal's collection than sell it to some stranger on eBay so I sent it off to him. In return, Sal sent me this:

1968-69 Topps - #7 - Phil Esposito

This is a welcome addition to my Bruins collection, and is currently my oldest Phil Esposito card. It will go nicely with the lot of 68-69 Topps I picked up at a card show last fall. I now have 17 cards from this 132 card set. I'll continue picking these up as I see them, I could see this being the first 1960's Topps hockey set I complete eventually.

The cartoon on the back is kind of funny, as we see Phil depicted in the shadow of the great Bobby Hull. Actually, this is sort of a coincidence as it foreshadows my 3rd and final "Out With The New, In With The Old" post, which I hope to have up later this week.

All in all this was a great trade for me. I unloaded a modern short print of a rotten Canadien for a nice vintage card of a Hall-of-Fame Bruin...doesn't get much better than that. Thanks for the awesome card Sal, glad I could help you with your 2010-11 set!

Friday, March 18, 2011

(Almost) Completed Set - 1982 Topps Traded Baseball

This is something I actually picked up a few months back and have been meaning to post for quite some time now. Back in the fall I noticed something sitting in a pile behind the counter at the hobby shop I frequent that caught my eye, a 1982 Topps Traded baseball set:

I'm a big fan of the 1980's run of Topps Traded sets. This one was missing from my collection so I had to ask about it. Although the box has some definite wear, the cards within are actually in great shape. Every collector knows the high value card from this one is the Cal Ripken Jr. rookie. It's the first Topps Ripken to feature Cal and only Cal, as he shared his rookie from the standard '82 Topps set with fellow O's youngsters Bob Bonner and Jeff Schneider.

The Ripken had been pulled from this particular set by the shop owners and placed in the display case with a price tag of $75. This was a bit outside my price range but I was happy to make an offer on the rest of the set minus the Ripken. I ended up taking the remaining 131 cards for $25, a price I was satisfied with. Here are a few of my favorites. I've been at the standard '82 Topps set for some time now, so I'll try to show each player's card from that set if I have it:

#8T - Vida Blue

Vida Blue absolutely exploded onto the baseball scene as a late call-up with the Oakland Athletics in 1970. Despite starting just six games that fall, he took a no-hitter into the 8th inning against the Kansas City Royals, the same team he would be traded to during the 1982 season, resulting in this card. That game would end in a 1-hit shutout, but just a few days later he would indeed toss a no-hitter against the Twins (only a walk by Harmon Killebrew prevented it from being a perfect game).

Given these facts it's easy to understand why there was so much hype surrounding the young lefty heading into 1971. To say that he didn't disappoint would be a huge understatement. He turned in a career year in his first full season, going 24-8 with a league-leading 1.82 ERA, 24 complete games, and 8 shutouts. Toss in 301 strikeouts and the best WHIP in baseball and it's not too hard to see why he was named an All-Star, and also took home Cy Young and MVP honors.

By the time this card came out Blue was on the back 9 of his career, but he was pretty successful overall as he added 2 more 20 win seasons after 1971, 6 career All-Star appearances, and back to back to back World Series Championships to his resume. Before being shipped to the Royals, Vida had started the 1982 campaign with the Giants:

#13T - Tom Brunansky

Just like Ripken, Brunansky was featured on a Rookie Stars card with two other players in the '82 base set, so this is his first solo Topps card:

It's weird, I always picture Tom on the Red Sox despite the fact that he played parts of just 4 seasons with the team out of a 14 year career.

#23T - Chili Davis

Did you know that Davis is from Jamaica? I wasn't aware of that. His card in the base set was also a Future Stars card:

#30T - Roger Erickson

I know next to nothing about Roger Erickson, but how about that hair? It looks slightly more under control on his base card:

#36T - George Foster

George's All Star card from the standard set has two variations, one with a facsimile signature and one without. I actually have both, here's the one with the signature:

#39T - Ron Gardenhire

The first solo Topps card of the current Minnesota Twins manager. Plagued by injuries, he lasted only 5 seasons and saw action in greater than 70 games just once. Here's his rookie from the standard set:

#40T - Ken Griffey

Ken was actually traded to the Yankees before the 1982 season, yet was still featured with Cincinnati in the standard set:

#44T - Kent Hrbek

Here's Mr. Hrbek depicted at the beginning of what would be a very long career with the Twins organization. He was a fan favorite in Minnesota, and rightfully so.

#47T - Reggie Jackson

Thanks to various disagreements with George Steinbrenner during the 1981 strike-shortened season, which was Jackson's last under contract with the Yankees, he ended up walking and signing with the Angels for the 1982 season.

#49T - Fergie Jenkins

We saw the 1971 AL Cy Young Award winner earlier in the post, and now we have the '71 NL Cy Young winner. Unfortunately, I don't have Jenkins' standard 1982 Topps card.

#54T - Steve Kemp

I chose this one to feature the atrocious White Sox jerseys worn at the time. Steve must have grown his beard during the '82 season because he looks nothing like he did on his card from the base set:

#64T - Dave Lopes

Lopes was dealt by Los Angeles to Oakland prior to the 1982 season to make room for rookie Steve Sax. It must have been rough for Dodger fans at the time to see the Garvey Cey Russell Lopes infield broken up after all those years. Davey's got 3 cards in the base '82 set, a standard card, an In Action card, and an All-Star card. I don't have any of them.

#81T - Joe Nolan

I selected this card for one reason and one reason alone. The glasses.

#88T - Gaylord Perry

After being released by the Braves following the '81 season, Perry found himself without a home and missed spring training in 1982 for the first time in his career. He eventually signed with Seattle and was apparently (and fittingly) dubbed "Ancient Mariner".

#93T - Greg Pryor

That is a whole lot of blue.

#103T - Steve Sax

As I mentioned earlier, Davey Lopes was shipped from LA to Oakland before the 1982 season to make room at 2nd for Steve Sax. If Dodger fans were disappointed, that disappointment was certainly short lived as he turned in a fantastic season and won NL Rookie of the Year honors.

#109T - Ozzie Smith

This card is the reason I was most excited to pick up the set. Ozzie was always one of my favorites growing up, and this is his first Topps card with the team he is best known for playing with. It's also a nice one to have as the Cards captured a World Series Championship in 1982. My favorite card in the set by far. I could swear that I have Ozzie's Padres card from the base set but I can't seem to locate it anywhere.

#110T - Reggie Smith

#124T - Ron Washington

I may be mistaken, but I believe this is the first Topps card of the current Rangers manager. Even though the Royals signed him in 1970, he spent 10 seasons in the minors before making a big league roster (he did see action in a few games with the Dodgers in 1977).

Someday I'll add the Ripken to my collection, but for now I'm glad I've got the rest of the set.

Friday, March 11, 2011

My Favorite Refractor

Even though vintage cards appeal to me most, like many collectors I can't seem to resist a nice shiny refractor. To me, the 1993 Finest refractors are still king. Unless I'm mistaken they were the first refractors produced. Falling at one per box in what was a very premium product for 1993, these were highly sought after from the start. Over the years they have definitely held their value and are still highly sought after.

A few months back I was lucky enough to add Will Clark's to my growing player collection:

I've read that there are less than 250 copies of each of these floating around, but I'm not sure if that's accurate. To give you some perspective on how popular these still are, a Lou Whitaker recently sold for $25 on eBay. Not too long before that a Reggie Jefferson went for $13. Here's a scan of the front of the card:

I love the design used for this set, although I'm probably biased since these were released when I was 11 years old, so they're right in my collecting wheelhouse. I could never afford any at the time, but a couple of years back I snagged a complete set on eBay. Here's a scan of the front of my base Clark card for comparison:

Pretty easy to spot the difference between base and refractor by scanning. The refractors are actually pretty easy to tell apart by naked eye in just about any light. That's a good thing because in 1993 there was nothing on the back to differentiate a refractor in any way:

Do any of you have any 1993 Finest refractors? What's your favorite refractor?
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