Wednesday, November 30, 2016

This "Blaster" Brought to You by COMC

I've been a little heavy on the buyback franken-set posts lately, so let's take a break today and look at another virtual "blaster" from COMC.  Besides, I need to make some room before my Black Friday shipment arrives in a few weeks.

Simple concept, the $20 I would have spent on a retail blaster that would most likely have left me feeling unsatisfied instead goes into my COMC account.  Let's see how far $20 goes this time...

2014 Topps Finest Xander Bogaerts X-Fractor RC - $1.63

Mookie Betts had an amazing 2016 season, but Xander Bogaerts is still my favorite player on the current Red Sox roster.  I scoop up interesting cards of his anytime I can find them on the cheap.  Aside from that though, I absolutely love what Topps did with the 2014 Finest set.  These are some of the more loud and colorful cards in recent memory.  Unfortunately only 3 Red Sox players made the relatively small checklist, but I'm glad Bogaerts was one of them.  Off to a great start here.

1992 Score Factory Set Joe DiMaggio Insert - $.44

There are a variety of reasons why I might pick up any given card off of COMC.  Sometimes, as with this Joe DiMaggio card, the reason is just the dirt cheap price.  Well, that and the fact that despite collecting pretty heavily as a kid in the early '90s I had no recollection of these insert cards from Score.  An awesome photograph of Joltin' Joe on this one.

1959 Topps Hal Griggs - $.50

I've been half-heartedly plugging away at the '59 Topps set for a while now.  I am paying no attention to condition here, at least at this early phase.  Instead, I basically scoop up just about any common card I don't have if I can find it for around 50 cents or slightly more.  Pitcher Hal Griggs' card hit that number right on the nose.

1959 Topps Chico Fernandez - $.55

Here's an even better example of how little condition matters to me at the outset of my '59 set.  You can see in the upper right that some aspiring collector went ahead and labeled this as a '59 Topps card, lest he or she should forget.  Maybe when I get much further along someday I'll circle around and replace some of the worst examples, but for now this doesn't bother me in the least.

1959 Topps Gene Freese - $.48

If there's one thing I do try to pay at least some attention to with this set build it's the centering of the cards.  Really poor centering bothers me more than dinged corners, or even pen marks do.  This one is badly off-center, and is scratched pretty well on the surface too, but for 48 cents I got to cross another number off of my want list.  All three of these were relatively high number cards too, falling in the #400 - #500 range.

2015 Bowman Platinum Silver Parallel Mike Napoli (#'d /499) - $.35

I'm a sucker for serial-numbered parallels, and this one definitely falls into the "it was just cheap" category.  One of the least interesting cards in this post if I'm being honest, but I do like it a bit more after the monster 2016 season that Napoli just enjoyed with Cleveland.

2013 Topps Mini Gold Parallel Bartolo Colon (#'d /62) - $.89

Count me among the many baseball fans that get a ton of amusement out of the ageless wonder that is Bartolo Colon.  I can't think of another sport where someone with the combination of Colon's age and body type could still be playing, and doing so successfully.  Every so often I take a peek at his available cards on COMC and I think I got a real bargain on this one.  I know the Topps Mini release isn't for everyone, but $.89 seemed like a steal for a card of a semi-star with just 62 copies in circulation.  I actually have some Colon cards even rarer than this one waiting for their day on the blog...

1973-74 Topps Chuck Lefley - $1.83

In terms of the price I paid, this Chuck Lefley base card might be the least appealing card in this post.  Why did I shell out $1.83 for this?  Because it filled what was the last empty slot in my 1973-74 Topps set.  It was worth a couple of bucks just to put this set to rest for good, especially since it's the oldest hockey card set I've completed to date!

1963 Topps Fred Hutchinson - $.40

This '63 Topps Fred Hutchinson was a no-brainer.  If you can look past the rounded corners (which I certainly can) it presents pretty well.  I will never tire of this particular Reds team logo either, and as a general rule I'll gladly accept any vintage manager card that I don't already own.

2014 Topps Wal-Mart Blue Parallel Will Middlebrooks - $.62

Ah, Will Middlebrooks.  What could have been!  This guy looked like the team's future third baseman for a while there, but his career has really gone off a cliff.  Doesn't mean I'm not interested in a nice Future Stars parallel for my Sox collection though.

2009-10 Upper Deck Champ's Yellow Parallel Evgeni Malkin - $2.35

I've been chasing these one-per-hobby-box Yellow parallels from 2009-10 Champ's since the set was released.  $2.35 is closer to the upper end of what I'd spend on one of these, but they are very difficult to find and Malkin has also been one of the better players in the league over the last few seasons.  There are only 100 of these to track down so every one that I add feels significant.

2011 Gypsy Queen Framed Paper Parallel Red Schoendienst (#'d /999) - $.49

You know you're a proper baseball card collector/fan if you can spell Schoendienst correctly without looking it up!  I've really soured on Gypsy Queen over the years, and I kind of wish Topps would give the set a rest.  I gobbled up the first release back in 2011 though, with my absolute favorites being these Framed Paper parallels (or their Framed Green retail counterparts).  I hope to complete the entire 100-card set of these in the future, and this great shot of Red gets me one step closer.

2013 Topps Gold Parallel Ryan Sweeney (#'d /2013) - $.57

A nice enough card, but if I had to pick one from this post to get rid of this would be it.  It's not a bad card or anything, it's just not all that interesting either.  Plus, I probably could have found one in a dime or quarter box at some point.  It's cards like this that have me rethinking whether I want to continue accumulating every Red Sox card that I can, or instead scale back a bit and focus on select sets or players that are more interesting to me.

2010 Topps Update Legends Variation Jim Palmer - $2.00

This one, on the other hand, I love!  I will never tire of the retired Legends parallels that existed in the flagship and Update sets for a few years there.  I would love to acquire every one of them someday, but they aren't all that common and sometimes command a pretty penny.  If I find one that I didn't have yet for just a couple of bucks or less I'm sold.

1994-95 Pinnacle Rink Collection Martin Brodeur - $1.00

If you've been reading the blog for any length of time you've probably seen me say that the Rink Collection parallels from Pinnacle are some of my favorite cards of the '90s.  The chance to add one of the greatest goaltenders in the history of the game to my collection for just a buck was one I couldn't pass up.

2008 Upper Deck Masterpieces Nolan Ryan - $1.10

Who doesn't love the Masterpieces sets that Upper Deck put out almost a decade ago now?  I completed the entire 2007 set, but never did so with 2008 thanks to the introduction of short prints.  This Nolan Ryan is one such short print.  You don't see this angle on too many cards, and I love the gaudy '80s Astros jersey.  A solid addition to my small Nolan Ryan collection for just a hair over a dollar.

2011 Topps Legends Variation Cognac Diamond Anniversary Parallel Larry Walker - $.80

Man is that a mouthful!  In 2011 the Legends parallels got the same Diamond and Cognac Diamond treatment as the base cards did, so if you count the regular release there are actually three versions of each retired player to collect.  At 80 cents I would pick these up all day long.  Hell, I'd probably buy some that I already have at that price just to use as trade bait.
2016 Topps Gypsy Queen Eduardo Rodriguez Autograph - $1.95

I had really high hopes for lefty Eduardo Rodriguez coming into the 2016 season, and was psyched to land a certified autograph from Gypsy Queen for less than $2.  Rodriguez had a so-so year, but did show some flashes of brilliance.  Either way, this is a nice enough on-card autograph and I didn't exactly have to break the bank to obtain it.

1959 Topps Jack Urban - $.61

Just about approaching the $20 mark here, only a couple of cards to go.  Despite the little stain or whatever in the lower right corner this is a card that's in decent enough shape that I'll likely never feel compelled to try to upgrade it.  For 61 cents I'll take that!

1994 Topps Finest Refractor - Julio Franco - $1.45

I'm fascinated with people in any sport that play until well beyond the age of most of their competitors.  There is some dispute as to his true age, but the general consensus is that Julio took his final Major League at-bat at age 48.  That is just unreal to me, and makes me feel young at heart as well.  When I found his '94 Finest Refractor at what I'd consider a bargain price, I jumped on it.  I have no idea how rare these are compared to their infamous predecessors from the year prior, but they do seem to be relatively scant.  They're also shiny as hell and look outstanding in the right light at the right angle.

Well, that brings us very close to the cost of a retail blaster at $20.01, so I'll stop there for today.  Works out pretty well too, having started and ended the post with a Topps Finest baseball card.  I say this every time, and sound like a broken record doing so, but there's a slim to none chance that a retail blaster would have provided me anywhere near this level of enjoyment.  For this reason, COMC will continue to get the bulk of my hobby funds for the foreseeable future.  Sorry Target!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

One Card Post - A "Most Wanted" Card

What:  1981 Fleer #223 - Fred Lynn
Where:  Jim, aka Mr. Haverkamp
How Much?:  Nothing!

:  Because Jim is a really nice guy.  He noticed that I had this card on my "Most Wanted" list in my blog sidebar, had an extra copy, and sent it to me just because.  Just the latest example of the generosity I seem to encounter at every turn in this hobby!  Thanks Jim!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Buyback Franken-set: Forging On

Back to the grind for me today after the long holiday weekend, let's get back to the grind with the buyback franken-set as well.  Another ten to sift through and evaluate today....

1973 Topps #324 - Al Downing

We start off with yet another tilted camera Spring Training shot courtesy of 1973 Topps.  Al had no idea when this picture was taken that in a year or two he'd give up Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run.  For now, Downing and those palm trees in the background are in.

1972 Topps #167 - Deron Johnson

Next up, another early '70s card where the background is the most interesting part of the card.  I have no idea where this photograph was taken, or what's going on there, but there seem to be a lot of casually-dressed folks roaming about.  Deron Johnson, who led the NL in RBI in 1965, is in as well!

1976 Topps #147 - Houston Astros Team

For whatever reason I've been inducting a lot of these team cards to the franken-set lately, and today's post brings us another candidate.  The Astros were a sub-.500 team in 1976, finishing third in the NL West.  There's already a card in the binder in slot 147 though, and it's also Astros-related: lonely Astro with a fading buyback stamp vs. an entire team of Astros (with a manager who won Rookie of the Year as a player)...

I hate to do it, but Lum has been relegated to the rejected box.

1977 Topps #124 - George Mitterwald

Unbelievably, this is the third card of George Mitterwald to make the franken-set so far, joining his '71 and '78 Topps releases.  I'm well on my way to a complete Mitterwald buyback collection at this point (every collector's dream, I'm sure).  More great palm trees in the background on this one as well.

1975 Topps #296 - Alan Foster

According to Wikipedia, the most interesting factoid from Alan Foster's MLB career was that he served up the pitch that Willie Stargell blasted completely out of Dodger Stadium in 1969.  The 500+ foot shot is still the longest ever hit at the Stadium.  Alan makes the cut for the franken-set.

At the halfway point here that's four out of five brands new cards, and the one conflict won out over its competitor.  A great start, let's see the other five I've got queued up for today...

1976 Topps #93 - Mike Phillips

Sort of an odd angle on this posed "bat barrel shot".  Probably my least favorite photograph out of today's batch.  I didn't have a #93 buyback previously so this card is in for now.  I don't expect it to have a very long shelf life in the franken-set though, especially since Mike is already included in the franken-set on his '79 Topps release.

1978 Topps #343 - John Wathan

John Wathan spent his entire 10-year career as a catcher with the Royals.  He eclipsed 100 games played just three times, but was a fairly reliable player.  His 1978 release is a decent one to have representing him in the franken-set (this one is in uncontested), as it's one of three times where he batted .300 or better over the course of his career.  He retired after the Royals won it all in 1985.

1977 Topps #586 - Steve Renko

Steve Renko's career was coming to a close just as I was born into this world in the early '80s, so I don't really know much about him.  In looking at the stats he seemed like a really up or down type starting pitcher.  He once led the NL in wild pitches, and in another year led the NL in earned runs.  Not a pair of categories you want to be the statistical leader in, but it seems like he also showed flashes of brilliance.  He pitched 5 one-hitters in his career, including one where Rickey Henderson broke up a no-no in the bottom of the 9th.  Ouch!  Steve's '77 release makes the cut and is in the binder.

1967 Topps #9 - Ron Hansen

Ron Hansen's '67 Topps card makes the franken-set as well.  He was actually the 1960 AL Rookie of the Year, and was named an All-Star that same season (his lone career selection).  At card #9, Ron has a spot front and center on the first page of the binder.

Despite being well over 200 cards in now, I still haven't completed a single page yet, though this first page and a couple of others are getting close.  I do plan to show the completed pages as part of these posts once I get to that point though, so hopefully you'll be seeing a couple of them in the near future! 

1973 Topps #35 - Willie Davis

Last card for today is definitely my favorite photograph of the bunch.  I've always enjoyed the action-packed, horizontal shot of Willie Davis ducking a wild pitch (at least that's my guess) on his '73 Topps card.  Nice to have it in buyback format.  I didn't have a #35 previously either, so this card is in.  It's going to be a serious challenger to any future #35 buybacks if that day comes.

That was a great lot from my perspective.  Nine of the ten cards were brand new numbers for the franken-set, and the one that had a conflict won out over its competitor.  Can't ask for much more than that, especially at this stage of the project.

I'll be back with another round of ten later this week as I push towards 30% complete!

Franken-set Progress:  217/792 (27%)

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Signature Sundays - For Kids

Like many baseball card collectors, I've been a fan of the Topps Archives Signature Series autograph release that we've seen for a couple of years running now.  While the gamble on a one-card unopened box isn't my thing, I have encountered quite a few singles on the secondary market that have captured my interest.  Today's autograph is the latest example of one such card:

While they aren't all that easy to find for some reason, the Topps Kids cards might be my favorite autos of any that are included in the Archives Signatures sets.  I'm sure it helps that I was right in the targeted demographic (9 years old) when this set was originally printed up, but I've always enjoyed these and I love the fact that I've now been able to grab a couple that are autographed.

Tony Fernandez here is the second one I've landed, joining Marquis Grissom.  I prefer this one to the Grissom card though, as it uses the technique of blending a photograph of the player's head with a cartoon body.  These partial caricatures were always my favorite Topps Kids cards during my first go-round at collecting.

I know these autographs in particular are really a niche thing, and don't hold much value, but that's not why I collect cards to begin with.  It made my day when I was fortunate enough to win one of the 13 copies of this card that Tony Fernandez held in hand and autographed for less than $8.  A prime example of how you don't have to spend a lot of money in our hobby to have a lot of fun.

Oh yeah, the backs were pretty great too!

Like I said, I haven't seen too many of these.  In fact I'm not aware of any others for sale on COMC or eBay, at least not where the seller isn't asking an outrageous price.  If I never acquire another though I'm more than happy with the nostalgic value that the pair I do own provides.

Were you collecting in 1992, and if so do you remember what you thought of the Topps Kids set?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

My Very Own Dit!

Just one card to share with you this evening, but it's a pretty significant one from my hockey card collection.  It's also a shining example of just how long I sit on really interesting cards sometimes before I get around to posting them here, as I purchased it all the way back in June...of 2015!

If you like really old cards then I think you'll enjoy this one...

From the inaugural O-Pee-Chee hockey set issued in 1933, I give you Aubrey "Dit" Clapper!  Dit began his career with the Bruins in 1927, and helped the team win their very first Stanley Cup Championship within just a couple of seasons.  While he began as a high-scoring winger, he had transitioned to defense by the end of the 1930s, and paired with some guy named Eddie Shore helped deliver a couple more Stanley Cups to the city of Boston.

Dit played an amazing 20 seasons in the NHL, all of them with the Bruins, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame immediately upon his retirement.  He would coach the team for a few seasons as well, first as a player-coach (still the only one in team history), then continuing after he hung up his skates for the final time.

Here's a look at the back, pardon the scanner glare.  If you'd like to read the write-up you should get a larger image if you click the photograph.  Not the most exciting card back in history, but this was 1933, what do you expect?

Here's a closer view of the front.  An awesome look at an early '30s Bruins sweater here, featuring a logo that fans have seen on some third jerseys in recent decades.  While the design for this set is fairly simplistic, it's nonetheless a significant release given that O-Pee-Chee went on to become the standard-bearer for hockey card sets for decades to come. 

There's a small notch in the card along the very bottom, but I don't think it impacts the overall visual appeal much.  Besides, it's probably the only reason a card like this was affordable to a collector like me.  This is my only authentic Clapper card from his playing days.  Given the limited number of releases during this era, and the price tag on many of those cards if and when you ever see them, it will probably always be my only one.  Fine with me though, in my eyes this card is a true gem and I'm honored to own a copy.

If you happen to be a hockey card collector I'd love to hear what your oldest card is in the comments.  Thanks for stopping by as always!

Friday, November 25, 2016

One Card Post - King of the Senators

What:  2013 Topps Heritage Buyback #217 - Jim King
Where:  Sportlots
How Much?:  $1.00

:  Because I don't often see '64 Topps Heritage buybacks for $1 or less.  Jim's MLB career appeared to be over after he found himself playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League by 1958.  He was the MVP of that league in 1960 though, and as such earned himself a second shot on American professional baseball's biggest stage.

Best of all, I didn't have a #217 buyback in my franken-set yet.  A dollar well spent!

Franken-set Progress:  208/792 (26%)

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Buyback Franken-set: In Action!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Nine more buybacks today courtesy of a recent cheap-o eBay lot.  Even with shipping, I paid well under 50 cents per card.

1977 Topps #201 - Ed Kranepool

First up, first baseman Ed Kranepool, who played his entire MLB career for the Mets.  He was a member of the 1969 "Miracle Mets" team, and is enshrined in the Mets HOF.  Normally I'd be delighted to welcome Ed to the franken-set, but #201 is an unfortunate card number to have as far as this project goes...

An easy decision here, Parker and Carew are the clear cut winners.

1979 Topps #176 - Aurelio Rodriguez

Next up, a '79 Topps Aurelio Rodriguez.  Not quite as cool as his '69 Topps release, which shows the team bat-boy in the photograph, but I've never seen a buyback version of that card.  Aurelio passed away tragically in 2000, when he was hit by a car while standing on the sidewalk in the middle of the afternoon.  This card makes the cut for the franken-set.

1977 Topps #126 - Rod Gilbreath Gilbreath.  Rod wrapped up his brief MLB career before I was born, and this isn't a terribly exciting card.  No matter, it's not going to make the franken-set anyway with this card already in slot 126:

Just to clarify, as it's been asked a few times now in the comments, I'm not really looking to trade or dump off the "rejected" buybacks.  Just because they didn't make the franken-set doesn't mean I don't appreciate them.

1975 Topps #318 - Ernie McAnally

Not the greatest start for the franken-set at just 1 for 3 so far in this lot, but that starts to turn around here with Ernie McAnally (brought to you by Coca-Cola!).  He's in uncontested at #318.

1974 Topps #416 - Chicago White Sox Team

For the second straight buyback post we have a nice '70s team card.  The White Sox were as mediocre as is mathematically possible in '74, finishing 80-80.  The most notable player in their Opening Day lineup was probably Ron Santo at DH.  This card is in!

1973 Topps #79 - Jim Willoughby

Jim Willoughby, pictured here with the Giants, was a key bullpen arm for the 1975 Red Sox team.  He makes the franken-set with no current competition.  Up next is yet another '73 Topps buyback...

1973 Topps #491 - Bob Montgomery

Bob Montgomery's entire career was spent as a catcher with the Red Sox, from 1970 through 1979.  Happy to add another Red Sox buyback to the franken-set binder, especially one with as high a number as 491.  This was one of two cards that had me interested in this lot in particular.

1974 Topps #74 - Cecil Upshaw

1972 Topps cards are few and far between at this stage of my buyback project.  This Cecil Upshaw would put me at just half a dozen in the franken-set to date.  Not too fast though, slot 74 is already occupied...

Honestly, I'm making this decision based on set alone, especially since I don't have any real reason to favor this Billy Champion card.

Billy and his airbrushed hat will have to find a comfortable home in my buyback rejects box.

1972 Topps #54 - Bud Harrelson In Action

Final card here, and the other one that drew me to this small lot.  Like I said, '72 buybacks have been tough, and this is the first from that set's In Action subset.  Fitting to start the post with a member of the "Miracle Mets" team, and end it with one as well.  Bud was also a coach during the team's 1986 World Series Championship season, and would later manage the club as well.  He's a member of the Mets HOF.

Tom Johnson's 1978 card was already in at #54, but it took about a half a second to make this call...

Not too bad for just a few bucks spent, was nice to get those '72s in there for variety.  Enjoy the holiday weekend folks!

Franken-set Progress:  207/792 (26%)
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