Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Best Pack of 1978-79 Topps Hockey

Here's the final pack I'll be posting from the lot of 17 1978-79 Topps hockey packs I snagged at the hobby shop well over a year ago now.  This one was by far the best of the lot.  12 cards and a sticker, here we go...

#48 - Dennis Hextall

#83 - Brad Maxwell

#186 - Ross Lonsberry
Lonsberry is probably best known for his time with the Broad Street Bullies Flyers teams of the mid-'70s.  At this point you may be asking, "this is the best pack you opened?".  It gets better, trust me...

#206 - Maple Leafs Team Checklist
The Leafs finished a game over .500 in '78-79, good enough for third place in the Adams Division and a playoff spot.  They were ousted by the eventual Cup champion Montreal Canadiens though.

#154 - Ron Greschner
Ron's '78-79 card lists him as a Pittsburgh Penguin, but he played his entire career with the New York Rangers, all the way through the 1989-90 season.  He never played a single NHL game with any other franchise, the Penguins included.  Was this just an error?  Anyone know?

#188 - Rene Robert
Rene recorded exactly 100 points in 1974-75, the first 100 point season in Sabres history.

Canadiens Sticker
My one-per-pack team sticker was of the Montreal Canadiens.  I guess this is one of the better stickers to pull given that the Habs won their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup this season.

#124 - Wayne Cashman
One of the better cards from the pack, Wayne was a lifelong Bruin and a member of both the 1970 and 1972 Stanley Cup winning teams.

#128 - Gerry Meehan
When his playing career wound down, Meehan worked as an executive for the Buffalo Sabres in the late '80s and early '90s.

#105 - Glenn Resch

#71 - Bob Kelly
As was par for the course during this era, nearly every photo in this pack was taken in a game against the Washington Capitals.

#115 - Mike Bossy (RC)
Here's the reason that this was far and away the best of my 17 packs.  The hope of pulling a Bossy was one of my primary reasons for purchasing these packs.  The shop owner was honest and admitted that one had already been pulled from the wax box before I purchased what was left, so the odds weren't great, and I was ecstatic to land this one.  Best of all, this card is in absolute mint, grade-able condition.  There was a pattern with nearly all of these packs where the cards in the top half, before the team sticker, were almost all badly off-center.  The cards in the bottom half, after the team sticker, were really well centered and in much better shape.  Luckily for me, the Bossy came in the latter half of this pack, and has four sharp corners and great centering and eye appeal.

Here's a look at the back.  I really like Bossy's signature.

#35 - Pierre Larouche
Larouche actually went on to play some games with the Hartford Whalers in the early '80s.  That's a wrap.  Sure, I could have picked up a complete '78-79 Topps set for probably less than what I paid for these packs, but pulling a mint Bossy rookie from a wax pack that's older than I am was one of the highlights of my collecting experience so far.

Here's a look at Mike in his new home, an Ultra Pro One Touch holder.  Truly a classic card of one of the best pure goal scorers ever to lace up a pair of skates!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Very First Topps All-Stars!

I can remember opening packs of 1987 and 1990 Topps baseball as a kid and getting excited when I landed a card from the All-Star subset.  It meant that you had pulled a card of one of the game's best, that your pack was a success.  So, when I got back into collecting a few years ago I decided to chase the 1958 Topps All-Star subset.

1958 was the inaugural year for the All-Star subset, with the final 21 cards of the flagship set (cards #475-495) devoted to Sport Magazine All-Stars.  All in all, the set featured 10 AL players, 10 NL players, and a coaches card.  The design, as you can see on the Eddie Matthews card above, is pretty basic but classic in my opinion.  The color scheme of red (AL) and blue (NL) backgrounds is fitting, to me these are everything that great 1950s baseball cards should be.

I decided to try for this subset for a couple of reasons.  First, the historical significance of the subset.  After this first release in 1958, Topps would include All-Star subsets in its next 4 flagship sets, through 1962.  There weren't any All-Star cards from 1963-1967, but then they came back in many (though not all) Topps sets after that.  Secondly, this set seemed attainable.  Just 21 cards on the checklist, and even the Hall-of-Famers can be had for a relatively good price compared to many of their other cards from the '50s.

Anyway, I've been working away at this one since 2007, sometimes focused on it, other times not picking up a card or even thinking about it for a year or more.  Recently I landed the final card I needed though, #486 Willie Mays.  Here are all 21...

The subset starts off with the All-Star Managers, featuring Casey Stengel and Fred Haney.  Casey is the first of many Hall-of-Famers featured...
The first NL card is none other than Stan Musial.  This card is significant because it's the first time that Musial ever appeared on a Topps card!  Apparently he agreed to do so based on Topps' contribution to a charity.
Moose Skowron may not be in the Hall-of-Fame, but the long-time Yankee was an 8x All-Star and 5x World Series Champ.

Johnny was a solid second baseman and lead-off hitter. He's a member of the Cincinnati Reds Hall-of-Fame.

Nellie is in the Hall-of-Fame, but not thanks to the BBWAA.  He never got the 75% of the vote needed from that group (came tantalizingly close at 74.7%), but the Veteran's Committee righted that wrong and elected him in 1997.  All I have to say is that that is one of the highest-worn hats I've ever seen in my life.

As of now, Mathews is one of only 25 guys to club 500+ career home runs.  I'm not sure what is going on with his eyebrows on this card though.

Frank Malzone is one of three Red Sox players featured in this set.

Ernie was one of the first cards I picked up from this set, way back in January of 2008.  I've always liked Banks and have found him to be a sympathetic figure.  How can you not like a guy who played over 2,500 games, clubbed over 500 home runs, won back to back MVPs, yet never sniffed the post-season?  I've been casually poking away at his run of Topps cards from his 1954 rookie through his final 1971 card for some time now.  I'm only missing a handful now, but unfortunately one of those is the '54 rookie.  This card in particular is cool because Banks was the NL MVP in 1958.

If you're counting, we're up to 6 Hall-of-Famers at this point.  Luis was lightning fast, could hit, field well (9x Gold Glove winner) and steal bases.  He was one of the premier shortstops of his era.  The next 5 cards are really the meat and potatoes of this subset though...

Rookie of the Year, Gold Glove winner, World Series champion, World Series MVP, All-Star Game MVP, AL MVP, NL MVP, 9th all-time with 586 career home runs.  What more can you say?
This is the only vintage Ted Williams card that I own (I don't count his 1971 Topps Senators coach card).  I really need to make it a point to add another to my collection.

Willie was the final card I needed to finish off the set.  He just arrived in the mail a couple of weeks back...

This is my only vintage Mickey Mantle card.  If you are looking for a vintage Mantle on the cheap, this is a good option.  Even in a PSA 6 you can sometimes find these for under $100.  If you're not strict on condition you can find them for under $50.

What a run of cards.  The last 5 guys are all Hall-of-Famers, all members of the 500+ Home Run club, and are 5 of the best outfielders to ever play Major League Baseball.  I think Hank Aaron's card may be my favorite.

Jackie was actually the 1958 American League MVP!

Bailey was elected an All-Star numerous times, and is regarded as one of the top backstops of his day.

Lollar enjoyed a fine season in 1958, belting 20 Home Runs and 84 RBI in just 127 games played for the White Sox.

Friend won 22 games in 1958, good for a tie for first in the NL with Warren Spahn of the Milwaukee Braves.

In addition to being elected an All-Star in 1958, Turley's 21 wins earned him the Cy Young Award (only a single award was given out for both leagues before 1966).  Oh yeah, the Yankees also won the World Series, and Bullet Bob was elected World Series MVP.  Not a bad season right there.

Spahn had an amazing season in 1958, and had separate Cy Young awards existed for each league then as they do now, he would have garnered some consideration for the NL award for sure.

The final card in the subset, and the final card in the 1958 Topps flagship set, is Herb Score.  Score looked amazing when he broke into the league as a youngster in 1955.  He struck out 245 in his rookie year, a record that stood until 1984.  His second year was even more impressive, as Herb went 20-9 with a 2.53 ERA, and 16 complete games.  He also threw more shutouts (5), and had more strikeouts (263), than anyone else in the league that year.  Unfortunately, the following season he caught a brutal line drive to the face.  He was never the same pitcher, and after suffering a couple of additional injuries his career came to an end with 4 appearances for the White Sox in 1962.

So there you have it, the very first Topps All-Star subset.  There really is something for almost everyone within these 21 cards.  It was fun putting this together and extremely rewarding to finally have it completed.  Now that I'm done with these I think I'll shift my focus back to my 1953 Topps set for a bit...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

"Extreme Value" Hockey Repack Box - The Finale, Finally...

At last we've reached the final post from the "Extreme Value" repack box. As promised, I received a bonus in addition to the four packs I've featured so far. That bonus was a fifth pack, surprise surprise...

Another pack of 2006-07 Upper Deck, this time Series 2. The biggest card in this series by far is Malkin's Young Guns rookie. I'll spoil the suspense right now and let you know that I did not pull one. Here's what I got instead...


I pulled a Tim Thomas from my Series 1 pack the other day, and the Bruins lost. Maybe Patrice will bring some better luck, as the B's take on the Caps in Game 5 of their opening round series just a few hours from now.

Hey, maybe this wasn't such a dud of a box after all! Potential trade bait was one of the main reasons I picked this up, and this two-color swatch is now sitting in the small pile of cards that's slowly building up for 1967ers.

Okay, this pack has to be a good omen for the Bruins.

Each pack contains one Victory card, I pulled Brandon Prust. Prust is now a member of the Rangers, and has appeared in all 82 of the team's games for each of the last two seasons.

Let's take a look at the rest of the 100 bonus cards...

1994-95 Score is one of the ugliest designs ever to grace a hockey card.









Dupe. Pretty brutal stretch of doubles right there...

Appropriately, the final card is yet another 1990-91 Bowman. I have to say that this repack box is pretty much exactly what I expected, not too extreme. All in all though I can't complain for $10. I got around 85 new cards for my collection, pulled a Maple Leafs hit to send off in a trade, and got a healthy stack of dupes for the trade box. Not bad for $10, but at the same time I'm looking forward to getting back to some different posts.
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