Sunday, July 12, 2020

Signature Sundays - An Oakland Seal

Panini's 2012-13 "Classics Signatures" remains one of my favorite hockey sets to be released since I returned to collecting back in 2007.  I went a little nuts collecting the on-card autographs from the set for a few years there.  I reached the point where I had every single standard autograph, and quite a few of the SSPs, and finally trailed off when the few remaining SSPs I needed were either never spotted in the wild, or prohibitively expensive.

Well, today I have another autograph from that awesome set to show off, and like the Craig Patrick base autograph above it features a player from the Seals franchise.  Whereas the Patrick autograph is from the California Golden Seals era, today's autograph is from the Oakland Seals era...

Bobby Baun is most remembered as a long-time defenseman for the Maple Leafs, a franchise where he won no fewer than four Stanley Cups throughout the '60s.  When the team left him unprotected in the 1967 NHL Expansion Draft, he was grabbed by the Oakland Seals (thus the fitting name for this autograph set).

Baun did not exactly enjoy his time with Oakland, and demanded a trade back to an Original 6 club after just one unsuccessful season.  Pretty awesome to have a "short term stop" autograph that also features a long-gone franchise as well.  Add to that Bobby's absolutely stunning penmanship, and you've got a real winner of a card.

Here's the back, with the write-up featuring the expansion draft selection that I mentioned.  Another great look at the Oakland Seals logo as well.  Panini did a great job with all of the card backs from this release if you ask me.  The bright, bold colors are easy on the eyes.

This one will pair quite nicely with my base autograph of Bobby from the set, which features him in more familiar Maple Leafs garb.  If I had to choose between the two though, I'd take this Seals one all day long.

Thanks as always for stopping by, and please check back throughout the week for new content as I continue with my goal of posting every single day for the month of July!

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Box Break - 1991-92 Upper Deck Hockey

A while back (like, over a year ago now) I broke a wax box of 1991-92 Upper Deck hockey.  My brothers and I initially got into hockey cards during the 1989-90 season, and then saw the scene really explode with the 1990-91 releases.  Nevertheless, in my recollection I ripped as much of this '91-92 Upper Deck release as a kid as I did any product during those preceding two seasons.

Even these foil wrappers bring me right back to sitting around on the living room floor in the early '90s, ripping packs and trading cards with my brothers.  Great memories, I really miss those days.

What I remember most about this set is of course the white glossy card stock, high quality photos, and holograms on the back that Upper Deck was known for at the time.  In addition though, I remember that (like many sets from this era) this release was absolutely littered with subsets.

The other thing I find interesting about this release is that it doesn't really contain any one or two single cards that I'd consider iconic.  Maybe that's just me.  When you think '79-80 Topps though, you think Gretzky RC immediately.  1989-90 O-Pee-Chee?  All about Sakic and Leetch RCs.  Even the inaugural Upper Deck hockey set, released the year prior to this one, has the Fedorov and Bure RCs.  This release though?  Not so sure.  There are some great ones that come to mind as you'll see, but something feels different to me about them.

Rather than do a painstaking pack-by-pack break of cards you've all seen hundreds of times over the decades, I figured I'd save myself weeks of time and just post some random highlight cards that I enjoyed through the course of the break.

With that being said, let's take a look at some notable pulls from my box...

As a kid I thought these Canada Cup subset cards were the coolest.  Seeing the stars I was accustomed to seeing in their NHL sweaters in international gear instead was just such a kick.  Even now almost 30 years later, I still think this Teemu Selanne is a fantastic card.

How about this early gem, featuring the greatest defenseman of his era, and one of the greatest ever to play the position?  Love it!

Picked this Mike Foligno to feature because I think the photograph is kinda cool, and because I love the old school helmet style Mike is rocking here.

Just like in the other sports that Upper Deck produced at the time, there were "Heroes" inserts to be found in this product.  Brett Hull was the subject, though this is obviously the header/title card.

The inserts that appealed to me more as a kid collector though were these beautiful holograms.  Whereas the holograms in the inaugural release the year prior were very fuzzy and difficult to make out, these are stunning.  Upper Deck improved by leaps and bounds here in just a year's time.  They even scan well, which in my experience is rare for hologram cards.  Just look at that Brett Hull!

Easily one of my favorite players throughout the '90s, easily one of the better rookie cards to be found in this release.  This one is as close to iconic as I guess you'll get in this set, per my point in the opening, but I still don't feel like it's as generally recognizable and regarded as the Fedorov Young Guns RC from the year prior.

Controversial '89-90 "rookie" Sergei Makarov gets a killer card in the set thanks to this great horizontal photograph.

Ditto for his teammate, Mike Vernon!

Just kinda hopping around in random order here based on how these were pulled from packs and scanned over time.  Back to a couple of the Canada Cup inserts with the ageless wonders Chris Chelios...

...and Jaromir Jagr.  It's still amazing to me that this pair played well into their 40s at the NHL level.  Makes me feel like I've still got some gas left in the tank myself!

One of the more memorable photographs from this release has in my mind always been this Theo Fleury, hopping over the boards in a dark rink.  Not exactly sure why, but this is a card I remember fondly from the winter of '91.

Here's a look at one of the standard Hull Hockey Heroes inserts.  Same general design as the Heroes inserts from other sports, though you'll notice the cutout/frame that Brett is emerging from here is in the shape of the NHL crest.

Another cool Hull, showcasing his lesser-remembered stints with Minnesota (collegiate) and Calgary prior to his arrival in St. Louis.

One of the other really notable rookies in the set is Dominik Hasek.  This guy was really, really good.  Amazingly good.  Good enough that I'd watch an entire game back in the '90s just to watch him play.  An under-rated rookie card of an under-rated (as HOFers go) player.  Really happy to have pulled one of these.

Here's another of those stunning holograms, this one featuring Eddie the Eagle.  Just look at the detail in his helmet and Hawks sweater.  Though they may not be "worth" much, these really are incredible inserts for their time.  Hell, I'd be happier to pull something like this today than 95% of the inserts I've seen in Topps baseball products in recent years.

Another Hull Heroes, this one with a picture from his days with the Flames' AHL affiliate.

Always liked the Nordiques back in the day.  I think it was at least partially because they were a similar small market team to my beloved Whalers, also from the WHA, and with similar problems as a franchise.  Highlights from this box on the Nordiques front included this Joe Sakic...

...and this great, if a little strange not seeing him in a Canadiens uniform, Guy Lafleur tribute card.  What an awesome, awesome photograph here.  A fitting send-off in cardboard format for a true hockey legend.

We'll wrap it up with one of my favorite overall cards from the box, this Gretzky hologram.  I can almost guarantee you that when I get around to my "Top 99 Cards of Number 99" countdown at some future date, this card will make the list.

That's all for today, there were many great cards in the box beyond what you saw here, but I'm sure you've seen most of them and I want to keep this post from getting too long.  Long story short, it's a great product.  If you're a "fringe" hockey card collector and looking for something fun and cheap to rip during sheltering in place here, I cannot recommend this product enough.

Thanks for stopping by, and for joining me on this trip down memory lane to the early days of my hockey card collecting experience!

Friday, July 10, 2020

Coronavirus Packages Episode V - The Dimepire Strikes Back

Nick, of the famous Dime Boxes blog, and I have had a pretty great back and forth exchange of cardboard going for years now.  I send random mailers of cardboard his way every so often, and every so often I find an envelope or mailer stuffed full of Red Sox in my mailbox with his return address on it.  It's a beautiful thing, and I'm honored to have awesome friends like Nick in this hobby.

A couple of months ago now (I'm embarrassed to say), I showed off the first and second parts of a three-part package Nick had sent my way.  Today, I finally have the third installment to go through, featuring some amazing cards like the Tris Speaker T206 above...

...as well as this Bill Carrigan, also from that infamous set.  These are Dover reprints from the late 1970s, and they're seriously appreciated because these just happen to be two of the final Red Sox cards from the T206 release that I do not have an authentic copy of.  I'm not sure if Nick chose this pair for that reason, but if not it was certainly fortuitous!

Those weren't the only Dover reprints to be found in this particular delivery.  Harry Hooper's Cracker Jack release is next.  Again, while I have a handful of original Cracker Jacks, this one has always eluded me (and likely always will, it's an expensive little bugger on the rare occasion when one surfaces).

The Cracker Jack cards are probably my overall favorite pre-war set, so I'm grateful to have this reprint in lieu of an original.

Another Dover reprint, and another card I do not own the original of.  This one is more surprising, as a '50 Bowman Dom DiMaggio wouldn't be cheap, but wouldn't exactly be outrageously or prohibitively expensive either.  One that maybe I'll target some day when I'm not on a spending hiatus.  Speaking of which...

...of the half dozen Dover reprints that were included in the package, this is the card that I actually almost felt a sense of shame for not having tracked down in vintage form yet!  I absolutely adore 1952 Bowman, and Vern Stephens has a particularly pleasing card in the release.  It's inexcusable that I don't have one of these given that they can be had in condition that would be more than good enough for me for less than ten bucks.

Finally on the Dover front, a Goudey Fritz Ostermueller.  A fun selection there, and given that I have a decent amount of pre-war stuff it's amazing that Nick went 6-for-6 in terms of sending reprints that I do not have the original card of.

Of course, there was more to be found inside this particular team bag...

First up, a couple of Nomar Garciaparra additions, with this 2000 Upper Deck MVP "Drawing Power" insert...

 ...and this Statistical Champs, courtesy of 2003 Donruss Champions.  Always happy to land any and all new Nomah cards!

Some hot off the shelves new stuff (at the time, before I sat on it for two months anyway) here with a Rocket 1985 Topps-themed insert from 2020 flagship Series 1.  Certainly looks a lot different than his original '85 Topps RC.

My first look at this year's Turkey Red inserts as well!  Pretty much look the same as Turkey Red cards from all years.  I like these cards, and pretty much always have with the exception of one or two sets.

Even though it appears to be pink in the scan, this 2020 Donruss Christian Vazquez card is actually a "Holo Purple" parallel.  Pretty comparable to a Purple Refractor from Topps Chrome, if maybe slightly less vibrant.  With the tools of ignorance covering up most of the uniform you really can't even tell that this is an unlicensed card.  Looks pretty great to me!

Alright, I did a double take at first when I came across this one in the stack.  Relic cards may not be what they once were on the whole, but I really dig the design of the Clubhouse Collection relics in this year's Heritage set.  That tequila sunrise color scheme is really doing it for me, especially on a set that's paying tribute to the glorious '70s.  Getting my favorite active player, completely unexpected, was just awesome!

More Nomar.  This one's a Gold mini from last year's release.  I've really grown to appreciate tobacco-sized mini cards over the years.  These days I'll even seek them out purposely from time to time, in fact I have a few nice Allen & Ginter minis in my backlog of cards waiting to be shown on the blog.  I like this one quite a bit.

Here's another mini, from the 2011 Topps Update Kimball Champions insert set.  A nice new Babe with Boston card.  2011 Topps Update stuff isn't all that easy to come by it seems like thanks to Mike Trout, so I'm excited to receive this one.

How awesome is this 1975 Hostess Luis Tiant?  There are so many great cards it's hard to say, but this honestly might be my favorite card in the entire package.  I actually love that it's rough cut and has clearly been loved in its 45 years of existence, yet the photograph is crystal clear and completely unblemished.  I'm not exaggerating at all when I say that I actually prefer this card's character over a mint copy.

Nick never ceases to amaze me with the sheer variety in his trade packages.  I'll confess that when I first flipped to this Tony Pena card in the stack I had no idea what it was.  Turns out to be my first 1994 Panini Sticker.  Very cool.

Another great oddball here, this Wade Boggs is from the 1998 Fleer Superstars boxed set.  The predominant red, white and blue is very 1988 Fleer.  Don't recall ever having seen this set before, either.

Here's an older Turkey Red card from the 2000s, back when it was a dedicated set rather than its modern day insert format.  Again, the design is nearly identical year to year.  I do love this Yaz painting.  Also, I had the red parallel of this card previously, but never landed the base version until now.  Thanks Nick!

This one's from the 2019 Topps National Baseball Card Day promotion.  I have not been to a hobby shop in longer than three years now, so I obviously did not participate in this.  Really appreciate Nick thinking of me as a destination for this card.

A Season Highlights Manny from one of Upper Deck's later releases before they lost their MLB license...

When I think of Topps Total, I inevitably think of the well-known and rightfully-loved base cards.  Turns out there were inserts too!

Big Papi saluting the fans on this 2017 flagship insert.

I always love acquiring new SI for Kids cards of athletes or teams that I follow.  This JD Martinez is the latest of a handful I have now, and not the first one that Nick was responsible for sending me out of that small grouping either.

Not much to say about this Jay Payton, which was released during my break from collecting (1997-2007).  The background photo is pretty much exactly where I have worked once or twice each month in downtown Boston for 15+ years now.

Here's a nice one from last year's Topps Heritage release.  A great cardboard representation of Steve Pearce's 2018 World Series MVP win.

Second Nomar insert in today's post that comes from 2003 Donruss Champions.  This one's called Total Game.

Probably should have grouped this Michael Chavis insert with the Steve Pearce above, but here you go.

At first glance, this looks like an ordinary Topps Nomar Garciaparra.  Flip it over, though...

...and you'll soon see that it's something special.  This card is actually from the 2003 Topps Kanebo Japan release!  What an unbelievably random and totally cool addition to my Sox collection.

Oh, and as if the Nomar weren't generous enough...

...Nick also sent along a copy of the most dominant pitcher I've ever seen pitch with my own two eyes, Pedro Martinez!  These are fantastic.

Is there anything more '90s than the 1998 Pacific Online set?  Love these.  "bigleaguers.com" redirects to the MLB Players Association website, so I guess my dream of acquiring this domain name and standing up some type of site for curious collectors who enter the URLs from this release into a web browser is officially dead.

This incredibly shiny insert is from 2019 Topps Fire.  I love shiny cards, and this one does not disappoint in hand.  In general I'm a fan of the Topps Fire release I have to say.  In fact, I have one or two really nice Fire parallels to show off whenever my COMC order finally shows up here.

A nice, standard, Finest Josh Beckett.  Nothing flashy to this design (2006), but all the red works well at least.

Another card from one of those late '80s boxed sets from Fleer.  This one is the '87 Fleer Baseball's Best Pitchers vs. Hitters release.  That's a mouthful for sure, but a cool early-career Clemens card.

Sweet!  I showed one of these 1989 Pacific Cards & Comics Superstars cards in a previous post, and now I can pair Mike Greenwell with it.  For an amateur/unlicensed set I really like the design.

Rickey Henderson-as-a-Red Sox cards aren't all that plentiful.  I will happily scoop up any and all of them that I can.  Rickey was the man.

Closing out the standard card portion of the package is this super shiny, refractory Topps Archive Reserve Jim Piersall.  Simply a fantastic card for a lover of shiny like myself.  I gifted Nick an entire set of this stuff a while back that I'd received from John Miller, just paying it forward.  I'm not sure if this one is from that same release or not, but either way I'm happy to have it, as I'd like to complete a Sox team set from this release and did not have a copy prior to going through this package.

Last, but certainly not least, this fantastic oversized Exhibits Ellis Kinder!  These were printed for about a 20-year run beginning in 1947 and are generally categorized as one large "set".  Absolutely love the photograph here, a truly unique item for my team collection.

Nick, thanks once again for this great batch of cardboard, AND for the most recent PWE that arrived last week.  I promise I won't take many months to get that one properly scanned and featured here!

To everyone else, I hope you saw some cards that interested you, and thanks as always for stopping by.  Enjoy your weekend!
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