Saturday, March 9, 2019

COMC > Target

The other day I had a moment of weakness for the first time in many months, maybe longer.  It had been a brutal day at work, I had the beginnings of a cold, and I was just mentally wiped out.  While in Target picking up some NyQuil and a few household needs, I grabbed two loose packs of 2019 Topps Heritage baseball.  I came this close to putting them back.  I said to myself "you probably won't enjoy any of these cards, what are you doing?".  In the end though curiosity won out, and into my basket they went.

Well, it went about how I expected when I got home and opened the cards.  I've scanned all the keeper cards for my collection that came out of these two packs.  Ready?


Yeah, that was it.  Didn't pull a single Red Sox card, no other players that interested me, no inserts, nothing really.  The only silver lining was that I pulled a short print in each pack, and that my friend Douglas who I seriously owe some cardboard to needs both of them for his set.  That's about it, $5.98 down the tubes and a reminder as to why I stay away from retail packs for the most part.  Oh well.

In contrast, just a day or two later I received my latest batch of 100 cards from COMC!  Let's take a look at a few of those to wash away the aftertaste of 2019 Heritage...

Another 1992-93 Ultra buyback from the 2016-17 Fleer Showcase release.  I've typically stuck to Whalers and stars when it comes to these, but in this case I picked up Sean Hill of the Canadiens because A) it features that great foil ROOKIE ribbon, and B) it was only $1.25.  That's pretty cheap as these buybacks go, given that each is numbered to just /25.

Of course, I'm obliged to show the back when it comes to '92-93 Ultra.  Still one of my favorite card back designs of all-time.

Here's another one.  This one is cool because Douglas actually tipped me off that he saw it listed on COMC at a fairly reasonable price.  As soon as I saw his email I immediately snagged it for $2.69.  Completing an entire Whalers team set of these buybacks is probably out of the question given the scarcity, but I'm happy to be one closer in any event.

I'm not sure there is a card out there that would bring me more joy at less than $3 than a rare Whalers card like this.  I certainly owe Douglas for the heads up on this one!

Just a couple more here and we'll call it a day.  I snagged a pair of 1971-72 Topps set needs that are in really good shape.  First up is Bobby Hull's brother, Dennis.  He may not have scored at the same historic clip as his brother, or his nephew Brett, but Dennis was no slouch.  He scored over 300 goals in his NHL career, and had over 350 assists to go with them.

The other '71-72 that I scored is the legendary Pat Quinn!  Pat is best remembered for his contributions to the sport after he hung up his skates for the final time, but this is still a great card.  Quinn was a two time Jack Adams Award winner as coach of the year, and he was enshrined in the hockey HOF (posthumously, unfortunately) in 2016 as a builder.  This pair was in virtually mint condition, and I got them in a package offer to the seller for $2.25 total.  I'm now past the 2/3 mark with my hand-collated set, getting there!

Every collector is different, and I certainly can relate to the lure of the unopened pack, but to me this post is yet another reminder that picking up singles is just much more enjoyable to me than buying packs generally speaking.  I spent $5.98 on those two packs of Heritage that yielded nothing for my collection.  Meanwhile, the four hockey cards I've shown here are all perfect fits for my collection and cost just about the same amount at $6.19...

2 Packs of 2019 Topps Heritage - $5.98
Pair of '92-93 Ultra Buybacks - $3.94
Pair of '71-72 Topps - $2.25
2019 Running Total - $46.98

Friday, March 8, 2019

Antique Store Haul - Part III

On November 9, 2016 I wrote the following with respect to a batch of cards I'd picked up at a local antique store about a year prior:

"I have one more post to go in order to cover the rest of my haul from this shop.  I promise it won't take me a year to get it posted this time, in fact I'm planning to knock it out this coming weekend."

Well, here we are well over two years later, and I'm back with part three!  Yikes.  As a quick refresher, these were all priced around book value, but were discounted 70% off the sticker price on the cases.  After a lengthy wait, here are the final nine cards from my haul that day back in September of 2015...

I don't collect football cards generally speaking, but I do like Barry Sanders.  One of the most explosive and dynamic players in the history of the league, and I just couldn't leave this acetate finest insert behind at what amounted to pocket change.  The sticker price of this one was $4, which means I paid just $1.20 after the discount.

A second-year Fleer card of the great Tony Gwynn was irresistible at just 30 cents.  It turns out I already had a copy of this from COMC, but it's hard to have buyer's remorse over something that set me back a quarter and a nickel.

How about the set that is all over the blogs right now courtesy of 2019 Topps Heritage, 1970 Topps?  I grabbed two from this release, Sparky Lyle for my Sox collection for just 30 cents...

...and the great Walt Alston for 60 cents.  Like the Gwynn above, I already had a copy of this one, or maybe picked up a copy in all the time it took me to get to posting these I guess.  Either way, not a bad card to have a spare of I suppose.

Here's a cool one.  I don't recall ever having seen this Joe Morgan before, but I love the photograph from an angle that you don't see all that much on vintage cardboard.  That is one crowded plate right there!  Like the Sanders card that led off today's post, this one was priced at $4 which meant $1.20 take home cost for me.  I wish there were more HOFers from the '71 set available at these crazy prices but Joe was the only one.

This Eddie Bressoud was also priced at $4, which seems a bit steep but I believe it's because it's a rarer high number from the '65 release.  Pumped to add this one to my Red Sox collection, especially in really fantastic shape like this.  One of these days I need to get my hands around where I am at with all of the '50s and '60s Topps flagship Red Sox team sets and start seriously working on plugging any remaining holes.  Free time is my enemy there at the moment...

I've written many times here on the blog about my love for 1954 Bowman, so I knew this Johnny Antonelli was going into my stack the second I stumbled upon it.  This one was marked at $10, which means I had to shell out $3 for it.  A little more than I've paid for most of my singles from the set so far, but still very reasonable.  It's interesting that Antonelli's name is typed out on his card, whereas most from this release feature a facsimile signature instead.

Anyone know what stadium it is that Johnny is pictured in here?

Here's yet another '52 Topps card I snatched up.  Like all of the others, it was priced at $20 which meant a $6 price point after the discount.  I couldn't take home all of the '52 Topps cards that were there at this price without breaking the bank, but I was drawn to this one because I love old franchises that are no longer around.  That logo is just awesome.

Finally, here's the card that was probably the best bargain of my entire haul that day.  Juan Marichal's rookie, in pretty fine shape.  Good enough for me at least, especially since it cost $6 after the discount.  There's some paper loss on the back, but it's minor.  Seems like a fortuitous pick-up as well, as I recently found out Bob of The Five Tool Collector was missing only this card to complete the non-high-number portion of his 1961 Topps set.  I sent it off to him and Juan is now in a very impressive set binder.

So, that's a wrap.  It might've taken me years but I'm pleased to say I've finally featured all of the cards from my haul that day on the blog at long last.  Maybe I'll have to swing by this antique store again sometime soon to see if they've added any new stock over the years...

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The (Sort of) Return of the Whalers!

Last night I had the nostalgic pleasure of watching my all-time favorite NHL franchise take the ice again!  Well...sorta.  From the late '80s, when I began playing ice hockey myself and collecting hockey cards, through their departure after the 1996-97 season, I was a diehard fan of the Hartford Whalers.

The franchise provided me and my family with so many cherished memories that I could never even begin to get into them all here.  Many I have mentioned on this blog in the past, some I will get to in the future.  Suffice it to say there is no franchise in the history of professional sports that I favor more than the Whale.  When the team up and moved to Carolina and became the Hurricanes, I was one of the many fans who was just crushed.

Well, earlier this year the NHL announced that the Hurricanes would be playing two games this season as the Whalers, both of them against my now hometown team the Boston Bruins.  Yes, I know this isn't the same thing, and I know the Whalers are truly gone, but I can't say that I wasn't giddy with anticipation over these games.  Within minutes of learning the news I hopped online and bought some amazing seats for the March 5th match-up at TD Garden in downtown Boston.

The game last night was an absolute blast.  As you can see, I really did spring for some solid seats.  My wife and I were second row from the ice, right on the corner of the zone that the "Whalers" would defend in the first and third periods.  The game was everything I hoped it could be and more, bringing back so many great memories of those glorious green uniforms in NHL action.

It helped that nostalgia wasn't the only value here, as this was one exciting hockey game to witness, opponent aside.  If you've never enjoyed NHL action in person I cannot recommend it enough.  I've seen the four major North American sports played live more times than I can count, and hockey more than any other is just so much more incredibly fast in person than it appears on television broadcasts.  My wife and I were truly on the edge of our seats for the entire 2 1/2 hour game.

The "Whalers" are a really exciting team as well, packed with exciting young players and making a serious push for playoff contention in 2019 (they would be in the mix if the season ended today).  Almost from the moment the puck dropped, the players were scrapping it out in front of a raucous crowd of nearly 20,000 screaming fans.  There were brutal (albeit legal) hits, fights, and plenty of scoring.

I tried not to take a million pictures because I'm much more about enjoying the moment and soaking it all in.  The seats were so great though that I had to snap at least a few to commemorate the occasion.  Of all the photos I took, this one probably does the best job of conveying exactly how close we were to the action.

I could not have asked for a better result either.  The teams battled to a 3-3 tie at the end of regulation, and we got to see Boston win it on an overtime goal by my current favorite player, David Krejci.  It was pretty awesome to see the Bruins continue their amazing hot streak, as they have now recorded at least one point in 17 consecutive games.

It was a fitting ending.  Watching the team lose was a big part of being a Whalers fan, as silly as that sounds, and this was right in line with how Hartford fared in many match-ups against the B's back in the '80s and '90s, so it just felt right.  As I heard one Whalers fan exclaim while we were filing out "Hey, at least they pushed it to overtime.  We got our first point in the standings since '97!".

All in all, a fantastic night, and certainly up there in the top 10 live sports experiences of my lifetime.  A big thanks to the Hurricanes and the league for this much-appreciated trip down memory lane!  I really, really, really hope some of the 2019-20 cards from Upper Deck feature photographs from this contest.  If so I'll certainly be collecting each and every one of them.

Finally, because this is a sports card blog after all, here's a Whalers card to finish off the post.  In the 2013-14 Upper Deck release, the company included "MVP" inserts as well as a couple of varieties of parallels of said inserts.  This is the rarest, a Super Script, serial-numbered to just /25.  Very pleased to add this one to my collection as I continue my march towards the #1 Whalers collection on The Trading Card Database.

Well, that's all for tonight, I'm off to listen to some Brass Bonanza and sort some cards!  Thanks as always for stopping by!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Rounding Out My Gift Card with a Koufax!

After picking up a Canvas Mathew Barzal RC I had just a hair over $20 left on my $50 Amex gift card.  I knew I wanted to go vintage baseball with the remainder of what I had on the card, but was pretty open as to what exactly I ended up spending it on.  In the end, I righted a major wrong in my collection and finally added my first true, vintage, career-era card of the great Sandy Koufax!  Check it out...

What a beautiful '64 Topps card.  I love that this one comes from smack in the middle of Sandy's period of absolute MLB dominance that lasted from around 1961 through his retirement in 1966.  I'm not going to go into painstaking detail trying to summarize Sandy's many achievements here, everyone knows the 4-time World Series champion and 3-time Cy Young winner was one of the most dominant southpaws the game has ever seen.

This card received a grade of just a 'Good 2' from PSA, and I think it's due to that light surface crease along the right edge just over Koufax's shoulder there.  A bright card though with great centering and overall impressive visual appeal.  Perfect for my collection, and I could not be more pleased with this addition.

I'm pretty lousy at scanning the backs of PSA slabs, but included this one just to show that it's in as good a shape as the front is, no pen marks or paper loss, or any of that nonsense.

So happy to finally have Koufax represented in my collection proper.  This one will also pair quite nicely with the Pete Rose I nabbed in the same grade earlier this year.  I was shocked that I won this card for a mere $16.50.  Made me wonder why I waited so long.

Well, that's a wrap for my $150 in Amex gift cards.  That reward for 15 years of employment landed me a '58 Hank Aaron, '71 Nolan Ryan, a Sean Burke auto, the Barzal Canvas RC and this Koufax.  I'm pleased with how I divided up that gift, but from here on out it'll be back to tracking actual expenses for the year on cardboard...yikes!

1964 Topps Sandy Koufax - $16.50 (Amex Gift Card)
2019 Running Total - $34.81

Saturday, March 2, 2019

WHA Woytowich

A nice, quiet winter night after a snowstorm here in New England. Seems like a great time to post another card in my quest to acquire all of the WHA cards from the 1972-73 O-Pee-Chee set...

Bob Woytowich of the Winnipeg Jets gives me a baker's dozen now when it comes to these cards.  This was the WHA's inaugural year, and the only year that O-Pee-Chee included cards for that league in their flagship NHL release.  These are high series cards, in fact they represent the very end of the set, so they aren't the easiest cards to come across at cheap prices as '70s hockey goes.

Bob Woytowich was a defenseman who was born in Winnipeg, and played there early in his career on his rise to the NHL.  He enjoyed an 8-year career in the National Hockey League, appearing in 503 regular season games.  Woytowich broke in with the Bruins in '64-65, but is probably best remembered for his three and a half seasons with the Penguins.

When the WHA formed, Woytowich made the leap over to the "other league", joining his hometown Winnipeg Jets as an assistant captain.  Aside from the bold, bright colors, I love these cards because they give you such a great look at the absolutely fantastic logos and sweaters that the WHA had to offer.

Here's a look at the back, featuring the WHA league logo and a small write-up that mentions Bob's return to Winnipeg.

Completing a 1971-72 O-Pee-Chee set would be a bear, but I do have a goal of accumulating all 51 of the high number WHA cards.  It'll be years from now if it ever happens, as I don't like to pay more than $3-4 dollars per card if I can help it, but getting a quarter of the way there feels good for now!

1972-73 O-Pee-Chee WHA Progress:  13/51 (25%)

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Buyback Franken-set: Black Friday Buybacks

It's been well over two weeks since I've made any progress on my Buyback Franken-set project.  I'll have to pick up the pace if I hope to finish this project in 2019, which is probably a coin flip at this point.  Anyway, to get things moving again I've got the buybacks that I picked up on COMC during last November's Black Friday promotion.  I picked up exactly ten over the course of that weekend, which is perfect...

1969 Topps #292 - Al Downing

This one was an obvious choice.  What a fantastic, classic photograph on Al Downing's 1969 release.  I like this one so much that I broke my informal self-imposed rule of paying $1 or less for buybacks on COMC unless it's a superstar or some other very rare buyback.  Paid $1.15 for this one and don't regret it one bit!

Ron Schueler's '75 release is in slot 292 of the binder.  Al or Ron, Ron or Al?  Hmm...

Downing's in.  I checked and it looks like Night Owl already has this one in his '75 Topps buyback quest, so Schueler is off to the rejected box.

This number is part of a completed page, so here's a look at the page now with Al Downing in place.  My favorite here might be the Downing, or maybe that '76 Ted Simmons at top center.

1990 Topps #229 - David Wells

I'm constantly on the lookup for cheap pick-ups in my quest to complete 1990 Topps in buyback format.  A nice addition towards that end here with pitcher David Wells.  Any time I pick up a buyback from this set I secretly hope it loses out for the franken-set so that I can shift it to the 1990 Topps binder.

In this case I already had this loud and very '90s Frank Thomas buyback in slot 229, allowing me to do just that!

1981 Topps #582 - Gaylord Perry

Here's a fun one.  I hemmed and hawed over this '81 Topps Gaylord Perry buyback for quite some time.  It had been in and out of my cart on occasion for months, but priced just a big higher than I was willing to pay for it.  When it dipped to $1.75 during the Black Friday sale, I pounced.

I had this '76 Mike Kekich in the franken-set at #582.

Had because obviously I went with the spit-balling HOFer over Kekich.

1990 Topps #330 - Ron Darling

Yeah, another 1990 Topps buyback.  It won't be the last one you see tonight, either.  1990 was Ron Darling's final full season with the Mets, and it wasn't one of his more memorable ones.  He went 7-9 with a 4.50 ERA, the worst of his career to that date.

Darling has a number that's a multiple of ten as well, which means a tough match-up generally speaking.  Certainly the case here, as he is pitted against one of my all-time favorite buybacks in this '74 Juan Marichal.

Easy call there, the 1990 Topps buyback set gets another card.

1963 Topps #373 - Jim Campbell

I grabbed this one because I love old catcher cards, and am also a fan of franchises of the past.  Jim Campbell's two MLB seasons weren't exactly stellar, but I just love the aesthetics of this particular card.  Will that be enough to get it into the franken-set, though?

Ah man, I was really hoping so, but this Tom McCraw is one of my favorite '71 Topps cards.  This is a tough one for sure, without a real clear winner in my mind.

I'll stick with the McCraw for now, but that was pretty much a 50/50 call.

1990 Topps #22 - Bruce Ruffin

Another '90 Topps buyback, this one not quite so exciting.  Surely this one's destined for the '90 Topps set...

Looks that way!  That World's Fair shoulder patch alone is enough to best Bruce Ruffin.

1958 Topps #138 - Earl Torgeson

Couldn't resist this one on a few counts.  First, I enjoy vintage players wearing spectacles.  Secondly, 1958 Topps has been growing on me more and more in recent months.  Finally, #138 is a number I was missing from the franken-set, which means Earl gets automatic entry into the binder and I get one card closer to completion.

Best of all, he completes a new page for me as well!  A lot to like on this page, I'd have a hard time picking a favorite.

1990 Topps #320 - Dave Stieb

Next on the 1990 Topps front, David Wells' rotation-mate in Toronto, Dave Stieb.  Stieb went an impressive 18-6 in 1990, with an ERA below 3.00.  He was named an All-Star for the final time that season, finished 5th in AL Cy Young Voting, and was even named on a few MVP ballots.

320 is a new number for the project as well, and completes another page!  Given that I simply purchase buybacks that I like at random and haven't gotten to the point of checking card number needs when buying new ones yet, it's somewhat amazing that I hit on two new numbers in a row in the later stages of the project here.  A trio of '75s, a Schilling, a Pilot, and a Pumpsie Green rookie here, not bad!

1963 Topps #192 - Clay Dalrymple

Here's another one I grabbed mostly because I enjoy the photograph.  I didn't really intend to grab two catcher buybacks from '63 Topps in this same batch, but it worked out that way.  Will Clay make the binder, or meet the same fate as the Jim Campbell above?

Ouch, some big names on this "Active NL Home Run Leaders" card from 2012 Topps.

I can't see bumping those three guys for Clay.  Oh well, my rejected box certainly got a lot nicer with some of these additions.

1990 Topps #582 - Rick Honeycutt

How about another 1990 Topps buyback to close things out?  Rick Honeycutt sure answered the call to the bullpen a lot in the late '80s and early '90s for Oakland.  63 appearances in 1990.  He must have been icing up that arm constantly!

That Honeycutt buyback is the same card number as the Gaylord Perry from earlier in the post.  Didn't take Perry very long to be challenged, that's for sure.

Obviously I'm leaving Gaylord in the buyback binder, and Rick joins the 1990 Topps set.

That was fairly successful.  Two new numbers, two new completed pages, and a handful of cards closer to a 1990 buyback set.  I'll take it!

For the next Buyback Franken-set post, I've got a great batch sent to me by a fellow blogger.  Until then, thanks for stopping by!

Franken-set Progress: 644/792 (81%)
1990 Topps Buyback Set: 111/792 (14%)
"Rejected" Buybacks: 575
Total Buybacks in Collection: 1,330
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