Saturday, October 21, 2017

Catching Up with Joe Shlabotnik

For your enjoyment today I have the contents of a great bubble mailer that I received from my buddy Joe Shlabotnik of The Shlabotnik Report this past summer.  Yes, I am still catching up on trade packages that came in over the summer.  I'm not proud of it, but that's where I'm at.  Let's dive in!

This fantastic Ted Williams card is possibly my favorite in the entire package.  I have a decent chunk of 2016 Stadium Club cards but hadn't managed to get my mitts on this one until Joe's delivery arrived.  Just awesome.  I'm not sure I've seen this image ever used on another piece of cardboard.

There were a nice smattering of recent Red Sox cards to be found, including a pair from the 2017 Topps flagship set in Rick Porcello...

...and a David Ortiz "sunset" card.  I think Topps made something like half a dozen different photo variations of this particular card, which is just silly if you ask me.  While the 2017 flagship set isn't exactly my favorite design in recent years, I do feel somewhat compelled to complete a flagship team set each season so these are much appreciated.

Speaking of Ortiz, here's a Bunt issue from this year.  For a guy who wrapped up his career in 2016, Big Papi sure does show up in a lot of 2017 sets.

The oldest baseball card in the package was this 2001 Donruss Studio Nomar.  Baseball cards were about the furthest thing from my mind in 2001, so I'd actually never seen this set in person before receiving this.

How about a couple of inserts?  From the 2016 flagship set here's a "Back to Back" insert featuring two of the better hitters in Red Sox franchise history...

...and from the 2017 flagship set a guy who hopes to someday join those ranks!

My Mookie Betts count went up by two courtesy of this bubble mailer.  I've really been staying away from the card aisle in Target here in 2017, preferring to use my hobby funds on individual singles and COMC binges, but thanks to the many friendly people in our awesome community you'd never know that looking through my collection.

Typically Joe and I exchange PWEs, however he noted that he used this bubble mailer as an opportunity to send a couple of items that aren't very PWE-friendly my way.  The first is this Heritage relic of a player I'm sure many Sox fans would like to forget, the Panda.  I like my collection to be a historical recollection of the sport though, good and bad, so I happily welcome this one.

The other item that would be tough to get into a PWE is this 1987 Topps Coins Roger Clemens.  Probably should have taken a photograph of this as opposed to a scan as it's a bit blurry, but I'm sure you've all seen these before anyway.  A unique Red Sox item that went right into the oddball drawer in my desk.

All of those great Sox cards would have been enough, but Joe didn't stop there.  He's one of the few bloggers I know with at least a mild interest in soccer cards, and he bestowed a few nice ones upon me.

The first few are cards of my personal favorite club, Liverpool.

I really like this one, because Suarez was the man for the Reds right around the time that I really started getting heavily into the English Premier League.  In fact, this 2013 Topps Premier League Gold set is one of the first soccer sets that I can remember acquiring quite a few cards from.

Actually, to that end, Joe hooked me up with a nice little stack of them!

I'm still working on transitioning my soccer collection into The Trading Card Database so I can't say for sure at this point, but I bet with these seven in hand I'm probably close to halfway to the 200-card base set.  Maybe something I can wrap up on the cheap over this coming winter.

Finally, there were also a pair of Topps buybacks to be found!  I'm eternally grateful to the folks who have shipped me buybacks for my franken-set project over the last couple of years.  This isn't the first time Joe has done so, nor the last!  Let's see how the two that he sent along fared in terms of franken-set induction...

1979 Topps #426 - Chris Speier

A nice Spring Training shot on this '79 Chris Speier.  Must have been a bit chilly wherever this photograph was taken, as Chris is sporting long sleeves under his uniform, and a batting glove on his non-glove hand.  The binder was lacking a #426 buyback, so this one was a home run and makes the set by default.

1976 Topps #494 - Craig Swan

The other buyback that Joe sent along with this delivery was this '76 Craig Swan.  I'm extra grateful that Joe was willing to give this one up, being a Mets fan and all.  Craig actually pitched well for New York as a starter in 1976, but ended up with a poor record presumably due to a lack of run support.

As it turns out, I already had this 1990 Terry Puhl in slot 494, but you know what that means...

Craig Swan goes into the franken-set, and Terry Puhl gets relegated to my newly formed 1990 Topps buyback set binder!  That's the definition of a win/win right there.

It actually took me so long to get these posted that Joe has already hit me up with another PWE in the interim.  The good news is that I shouldn't be as far behind with that one, as I already have it scanned and you should see it here this coming week.  Thanks Joe for another great batch of cardboard, and thanks everyone else for stopping by and spending a few minutes of your Saturday here at Shoebox Legends!

Franken-set Progress:  503/792 (63%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  361
Total Buybacks in Collection: 864

Friday, October 20, 2017

1950 Bowman - Post #5 - Jack Kramer

Another quick one today, let's take a look at the fifth card towards my budding 1950 Bowman baseball set:

Today's subject is Jack Kramer, who had the flattering nickname "Handsome Jack".  He began his MLB career with the St. Louis Browns all the way back in 1939.  Kramer would remain with that franchise through 1947, with the exception of a couple of years where he served with the US Navy Seabees in World War II.  I certainly have tremendous respect for Mr. Kramer for that alone.

Upon his return to the Browns, he was named an All-Star for three consecutive seasons beginning in 1945.  At the conclusion of that run St. Louis dealt him to my hometown team, the Boston Red Sox.  After two years in Boston he'd move on to finish his career with the team he's depicted with here, the New York Giants, and even played a few games with the Yankees to close it out before he was released for the final time in 1951.

Here's a look at the back, which references not only his nickname but his fantastic 1948 season with the Red Sox.  The right-handed starter went 18-5 for Boston that year!

Another example of an interesting backdrop on this one, between that strange outfield wall and lone (palm?) tree.  These are just too cool, I never get tired of acquiring new cards from this beautiful set.  5 down, 247 to go!

Set Progress:  5 of 252 (2% Complete)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

One Card Post - A Long Time Coming!

What:  2010-11 Upper Deck French 25th Anniversary Buyback #67 - Ron Francis
Where: eBay
How Much?:  $5.50 (plus shipping)

:  After commuting into and out of downtown Boston at peak traffic times the past two days to attend a security conference, a one card post is about all I can muster tonight.

This card is a good example of patience paying off.  As a fan of buybacks, and a huge Whalers fan, it was obviously a prized target for me when these buybacks were released years ago now.  I grabbed a few Whalers over time, but these cards are actually pretty tough pulls and I only saw a Ron Francis surface one single time.  It was on eBay a few years back, and I was out-sniped at the last second.  My maximum bid was somewhere around $12, and when it sold for just a hair over that I was cursing myself for being a cheapskate when it came to a Whalers card I very much wanted and might honestly never lay eyes on again.

Well, you can imagine my surprise when after another couple of years this card surfaced in my inbox this past February, having triggered one of my saved eBay searches.  I wasn't going to let it slip through my grasp a second time, so I was willing to go quite a bit higher than last time if it came down to it.  Well, as you can see above that didn't happen, and I ended up taking this card home at long last for less than half of what the first one went for.  It may have helped that the seller incorrectly listed it as a 2016 card, then again maybe not.

One of those little hobby victories that can be oh so satisfying.

Missing this card the first time around, and having to wait this long for another shot at it, just makes me appreciate it even more.  One of my most satisfying Hartford Whaler pick-ups of 2017 to say the least!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Buyback Franken-set: '59s!

Since I crossed the 500-card threshold in the franken-set binder during my last buyback post, I decided to do something a little different with the next one.  So, tonight I dove into my buyback "hoard" and have a ten-card post composed entirely of 1959 Topps buybacks for your enjoyment.

The '59 Topps set is one of my favorites of the 1950s.  I've been slowly chipping away at it for some time, and am just about halfway to a completed set now.  When I found a seller on Sportlots a while ago that had a bunch of 1959 buybacks for sale for a dollar each, I grabbed just about all of them for my buyback project.  Tonight's post will cover around half of that little lot.

Let's see how these ten players fared in 1959, and more importantly whether they make the buyback franken-set binder!

1959 Topps #7 - Al Pilarcik

Al Pilarcik had a very solid season in 1959 for Baltimore.  He appeared in well over 100 games as an outfielder, the majority of those spent patrolling right field.  Al hit a career-high .282, and thanks to a decent batter's eye (30 walks) he logged a very respectable .355 on-base percentage.

As far as the franken-set goes though, slot #7 on the first page is just about as close to on lock-down as you're going to find at this stage of the project.  A 1/1 Mark Fidrych?

Pilarcik goes down.

1959 Topps #26 - Chuck Stobbs

Chuck Stobbs actually signed on to pitch with the Washington Senators in 1959 after the Cardinals released him in January of that year.  Odd given that St. Louis had just claimed Chuck off of waivers from Washington only the year prior.

Stobbs went just 1-8 in 41 appearances (7 starts) with the Sens in 1959.  That record is deceiving though, as he pitched very well for a truly bad (63-91) Washington team.  In fact, his 2.98 ERA was a career best.

This is my first #26 buyback, Chuck makes the binder.

1959 Topps #192 - Charley Beamon

Charlie (or Charley, in this case) Beamon's brief MLB career actually ended in 1958.  Is that a security guard standing behind him in the background there?

Ouch, a guy who played in parts of three seasons vs. three premier sluggers of their era.

Another tough loss for '59 Topps.

1959 Topps #197 - Ray Semproch

Ray Semproch served just about split time between the bullpen and a starting role for the Phillies in 1959.  The result was a 3-10 record and an ERA on the wrong side of 5.00, and Philadelphia dealt him to Detroit in the off-season.

Had this Ron Perranoski in slot 197 already.  Don't have too much of an attachment to either card...

..but at the moment the Perranoski speaks to me more I guess.

1959 Topps #239 - Bob Trowbridge

Bob Trowbridge pitched in 16 games out of the bullpen for the Braves in 1959, and didn't experience much success.  It would turn out to be his penultimate season at the MLB level.  Love the classic pitching pose on this one.  Didn't have a #239 buyback either, into the binder Bob goes.

1959 Topps #246 - J.W. Porter

J.W. (also known as just "Jay") began the 1959 season with the Senators, but the Cardinals claimed him off of waivers in July (those two teams certainly seemed to get involved with each other a lot, huh?).  He'd finish out the season with St. Louis, and that was the end of his Major League career.

It's one hat-less player pitted against another here, as this Bob Davis is already in spot 246 of the franken-set.

Honestly, this one was a coin flip.

1959 Topps #249 - Bobby Adams

Bobby Adams appeared in just 3 games for the Cubs in '59, putting a bow on a 14-year MLB career.  My favorite thing about this one is the backdrop, which I believe to be Seals Stadium if I'm not mistaken.

I had this wrinkled, cap-less Ed Keegan in slot 249...

...but out of the franken-set it goes.  That one feels like a nice upgrade for sure.

1959 Topps #263 - Buddy Daley

Buddy Daley went 16-13 for the KC Athletics in 1959, the first of consecutive 16-win seasons for the lefty.  He was named an All-Star for the first time in his career, and even received some MVP votes!

Daley's competition for franken-set glory is another southpaw, and another Athletic, Vince Horsman.

Easy choice there.

1959 Topps #279 - Ernie Johnson

1959 was Ernie Johnson's lone season in Baltimore, and in what seems to be a common theme for this post his final as a Major League player.  A lot of guys who were at the end of the line featured here tonight.

Oh man, my Bill Lee RC buyback!

Ernie Johnson had no chance.

1959 Topps #272 - Jerry Lumpe

Jerry Lumpe began the 1959 season at the hot corner for New York, but was dealt to Kansas City in May.  Still just 26 years old in '59, Jerry's best seasons were ahead of him at the time this set was released, though he already had a World Series championship on his resume from 1958.

One more bout for franken-set glory tonight, as this '71 Tommy Helms is blocking Lumpe's path to the binder.

I'd say this one was about 60/40 in favor of Lumpe if I had to put a number on it.

Well, tonight's action brought me from 500 buybacks in the binder to...502.  What can I say, it's getting harder and harder to acquire new numbers here.  At least a number of those that faced pre-existing competition managed to battle their way in.  Nice to spruce up the binder with a serious injection of vintage.

Thanks as always for stopping by!

Franken-set Progress:  502/792 (63%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  360
Total Buybacks in Collection: 862
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