Saturday, May 26, 2018

Sox Gaps and a Buyback

Today's post is the latest of many, many examples in the history of this blog of the kindness that so many people involved in our hobby exhibit on a regular basis.  A couple of months ago I got a very nice email from a gentleman named Travis.  He's a fellow collector who happened to stumble upon my blog and reach out.  Not only that, but he had some cards he wanted to send my way.  No objections here!

Travis ended up sending a nice little PWE that, as the title of today's post indicates, plugged some gaps in my Red Sox collection.  You'd think I would have a copy of this '86 Jim Rice by now...

...or this team leaders card from the same set, but you'd be wrong.  I guess it's possible I might have a copy sitting around somewhere in a "yet to be processed" box, but I don't think so actually.

Travis also hooked me up with some '83 Sox that he ended up with from a vending box pick-up.

Because they came from a vending box, these are in pretty crisp shape!


Amazingly, I needed four of the five '83s that Travis sent along as well.  For whatever reason I just don't have a ton from this set other than the "big three" rookies (Boggs, Gwynn, Sandberg).

I also received a trio of new '84 Topps Sox in the form of Gary Allenson...

...pitchers Doug Bird...

...and John Tudor.  Another grouping I'm surprised I was lacking, feels good to fill in some of these gaps.

The final Red Sox card is one I wasn't surprised that I was missing.  I don't have a whole lot of 1990 Fleer, even though I actually think it's a nice looking set as Fleer goes.  I should probably get off my butt and just pick up a Sox team set at some point, but in the meantime I'm happy to have some representation in my collection from Dewey here.

1984 Topps #711 - AL Active Career Hit Leaders

The final card that Travis included, and the inspiration behind him reaching out to begin with I'm fairly sure, is a sweet buyback featuring some big names!  It's hard to beat Carew, Campaneris and the straw that stirs the drink all on a single piece of cardboard.  This card was originally from the '84 Topps set, and these three were the AL active career hit leaders at the time.

Does it make the franken-set binder though?

Well, I had this multi-player rookie card from '78 Topps in slot 711 prior to receiving this package.

No way I can stick with those four guys though over the trio on the card Travis sent.  No offense to Cardell, Dennis, Craig or Roy, this is just how it has to be.

Travis, thanks so much for reaching out, for the awesome cards, and for the thoughtful note that accompanied them.  It's people like you that make this hobby so enjoyable!

Franken-set Progress: 606/792 (76%)
1990 Topps Buyback Set: 64/792 (8%)
"Rejected" Buybacks: 461
Total Buybacks in Collection: 1,131

Friday, May 25, 2018

Bogaerts Tracker 2018 - Into 57th Place!

As a project I dubbed "Bogaerts Tracker 2018", I decided that this year I'd track Xander Bogaerts' career hit count as the season progressed and put up a post any time he surpassed a new name on the Red Sox all-time hit leaders list.  As my favorite current player, I've got a good number of nice Bogaerts cards built up in reserve, and I figure this will be a good excuse to show some of them off on the blog.

Well, Xander got off to a hot start in 2018, as evidenced by the Topps NOW card above (the only one I've purchased so far this year).  He spent some time on the DL a few weeks into the season though, and he's been good but not great since returning.

In any event, this past Wednesday Xander clubbed a double to break open a tie game in the top of the 9th in Tampa Bay.  The run he drove in would prove to be the game winner, but even more significantly the double was his 722nd hit in a Red Sox uniform.  That's good enough for Xander to slide into 57th place on the Red Sox all-time hit list.  Who was it that he surpassed?

A name you may not be all that familiar with, Vern Stephens!  Vern was also a shortstop, and like Bogaerts he swung a good stick, especially for that position.  He regularly finished in the top 20 in league batting average throughout the '40s, and even cracked the top 10 a few times.  He was only with Boston for five seasons between 1948 and 1952, but that was enough time for him to amass 721 hits with the club.

This post also gives me a good excuse to show off Vern's "rookie card" above.  He actually began his career all the way back in 1941 with the St. Louis Browns, but due to the lack of sets released in that decade this is actually his RC strictly speaking.  I landed this one many months (maybe even years) ago now, just never had a chance/cause to show it off.  Beautiful card, I love the '49 Bowmans.

As promised, I'm going to show a nice new Bogaerts card each time he surpasses a new name on the list.  Since this is the first post though, I've actually got two cards queued up, and they should be enough to make any Red Sox or Bogaerts collectors "green with envy" (sorry that was a terrible pun):

The first one is a Green parallel of Xander's rookie from the 2014 Bowman Chrome Mini release.  Since I showed Vern Stephens' RC it only seemed appropriate to choose one of Xander's for the post as well.  I picked this up for $5.99 plus a couple bucks shipping just about two years ago now.  As Bogaerts rookies go this one is actually pretty rare, being serial-numbered to just /15.

Because it pairs so well with the last one, here's a much more recent pick-up, a retail green parallel of Xander's flagship Topps rookie!  This is actually the latest addition to my Bogaerts collection, having arrived in the mail only a week or two ago now.  I literally sought this card out for years, as I'm attempting to get as many different parallels/versions of his Topps RC as I can get my hands on.  I was psyched to be the lone bidder on a copy that popped up recently on eBay, even though it set me back about twice what the above Bowman mini card did.  I don't know what the print run was on these parallels, or if that's even known by Topps, but I do know from experience that they are pretty darn rare.

At current pace, Bogaerts should be able to jump up another couple of spots in the coming weeks, so I'm sure I'll be showing more Xander cardboard soon.  Thanks for stopping by as always!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Prospecting By Accident

Unless you're living under a rock, you've heard the name Mookie Betts time and time again over the course of the 2018 MLB season here.  At the time of this post he's leading the league in average, runs scored, doubles, home runs, slugging percentage and OPS.  He's also within the top ten in hits, stolen bases and RBI.  Arguably the best player in the game at this stage of the season.

This has resulted in the prices of Mookie's cards absolutely skyrocketing in recent weeks.  Hell, Nick financed an entire card show from the sale of just three Topps Update RC parallels recently.

Since I'm not a "prospector" or someone who's always chasing cards of the hottest young players I don't typically benefit from this type of an uptick in card value.  In this case though, just because he has been an exciting young player for my favorite team, I was early to the party and have a pretty decent little Betts collection going.

The value of these cards is inconsequential to me at present, since I don't plan on selling any of mine.  Even still, I thought it would be fun (and make for a good blog post) to pick out a few highlights from my collection, see if I can dig up what I paid for them and when, and then take a look at what they're selling for now.  Consider it a study in "hype", I guess.  Here we go...

2014 Topps Stadium Club RC
My Cost:  $12.99 plus $2.00 shipping (eBay - February 2015)
Recent Auctions:  $135, $160, $124, $140

Yeah, pretty good example to lead off with here.  In recent days/weeks it's been consistently selling for a good ten times what I shelled out just over three years ago.  Even the base version of this Stadium Club RC is regularly selling in the $20 or higher range.  Nuts.

2014 Topps Update RC Gold Parallel
My Cost:  ?  (Late 2014/early 2015)
Recent Auctions:  $187, $200

My records of my cards purchases are pretty meticulous, so I'm surprised I can't pinpoint how I came to acquire this card.  I thought it might have been sent to me in trade, but couldn't find a reference to that on my blog other than this post from early 2015 which doesn't help clarify.  Either way, I would only have paid maybe a buck or two for it at that early stage, and now it's close to a $200 card.  It's clearly not just the autographs that have taken off here.  I need to move this card to a one-touch magnetic holder ASAP.

2014 Topps Update RC Rookie Debut Gold Parallel
My Cost:  Free!  (from my buddy Mark Kaz - December 2014)
Recent Auctions:  $85, $129, $269 (dead serious)

Yes, you read that correctly.  A card that I received for free in a PWE a few years back recently sold for $269.  At this stage of the post I'm already beginning to rethink what I said about not selling these, as even taking median/average values here I could likely net $500 from these first three cards alone if I struck now.

2014 Topps Update RC Rookie Debut Red Foil Parallel
My Cost:  $1.80 with Free Shipping!  (eBay - October 2014)
Recent Auctions:  $50

I remember having two or three copies of this card back in the day.  I think I may have sent one off to Mark Hoyle actually.  Mark, check your modern Sox box!

2015 Topps Stadium Club Black and White Parallel
My Cost:  $11.95 plus $2.50 shipping (eBay - October 2015)
Recent Auctions:  ?

Can't find one of these to even compare prices on.  Not surprising, as these are very rare with a confirmed print run of just 17.  I can only imagine what this would go for if I listed it tonight on eBay with a "MOOKIE BETTS!!!  HOT!!! ONLY 17 EXIST!!! READ!!!" title.  Based on what I'm seeing on eBay right now I don't think a couple hundred dollars or more would be out of the realm of possibility.

2015 Topps Stadium Club Crystal Ball
My Cost:  $15.99 with Free Shipping!  (eBay - September 2015)
Recent Auctions:  ?

Numbered to just /30, these are pretty damn rare.  In fact, I couldn't pick up another one right now if I wanted to, even if money were no object.  Gavin has one though!

2015 Topps Archives Silver Parallel
My Cost:  $2.45 with Free Shipping!  (eBay - July 2015)
Recent Auctions:  ?

Can't find a reference point for this card either.  It's numbered to /199, so I'm guessing this is probably still a sub-$10 card, maybe in the $10-$20 range at best.

2014 Topps Heritage High Numbers RC
My Cost:  $2.00 (COMC - August 2015)
Recent Auctions:  $79, $96, $89, $98

Here's another whopper.  Looks like I could get 40x to 50x my initial "investment" if I felt like parting with it.  I was really pretty shocked by the prices this one is going for.  I think anything that's an official rookie card from 2014 is just bananas right now.

2015 Bowman's Best Green Parallel
My Cost:  $2.75 (COMC - March 2016)
Recent Auctions:  $3

I guess this one was a good one to choose for inclusion because it proves there are no sure bets (ba-dump-bump) card-value-wise.  Looks like this one's current value is right around what I paid for it a couple of years back.

2015 Topps Image Variation
My Cost:  $7.00 (COMC - March 2016)
Recent Auctions:  ?

Couldn't find any examples of sold copies of this card on eBay going back 3-4 weeks.  Maybe I wasn't using the right search terms, as I don't think this one is as rare as a lot of the others I'm showing here, despite being an image variation.

2016 Donruss Test Proof
My Cost:  $8.98 plus $2.99 shipping (eBay - April 2017)
Recent Auctions:  ?

Not surprising that I couldn't locate any of these, being numbered to just /25.  Donruss cards take a hit value-wise it seems on the secondary market due to the fact that they're unlicensed.  If I had to wager a guess I'd say I'd maybe double my initial investment at least if I sold this today, but probably not much more than that.

2016 Topps Bunt Platinum Parallel
My Cost:  $1.15 (COMC - March 2017)
Recent Auctions:  $6

I'm not going to be able to sell this and use the proceeds for a vintage Mantle anytime soon, but $6 isn't too shabby for a card from Topps Bunt...

2016 Topps Throwback Thursday
My Cost:  $7.50 with Free Shipping!  (eBay - October 2016)
Recent Auctions:  ?

I'm guessing this one's worth what I paid for it at best.  While I couldn't find any recent completed auctions for just this card, I did find one for the entire 6-card set that went for less than $35.  Granted, Betts would be the card to have from that set, but even still...

2017 Topps Triple Threads Amber Parallel
My Cost:  $.99 with Free Shipping!  (eBay - February 2018)
Recent Auctions:  $4

I mainly included this one to show that I was able to scoop up decent (#'d /150) Betts cards as recently as a couple of months ago for under a dollar.  You won't find many of those if you search eBay today.

2014 Bowman Chrome Black Wave Refractor RC
My Cost:  $8.65 (COMC - November 2015)
Recent Auctions:  $63

Towards the end of 2015 I picked up two Wave Refractor RCs of Mookie on COMC.  At the time they were two of the priciest single cards I'd ever purchased on the site, but it was clear even then that Betts was a special player so I justified shelling out the $8 and change for each.  This Black Wave Refractor seems to be the less popular of the two, but the recent completed auction I found still ended in a very respectable $63.

2014 Bowman Chrome Orange Wave Refractor RC
My Cost:  $8.65 (COMC - September 2015)
Recent Auctions:  $127, $127, $129

This Orange Wave Refractor, on the other hand, is regularly selling for about twice that amount, in the $125 to $130 range.  It's certainly a beautiful card, but that's a lot of money for an un-numbered, non-autographed parallel card from a set that came out four years ago.  Glad I scooped one up when I did as I'd never shell that out.

2014 Topps Update Image Variation RC
My Cost:  $5 (in a Rite Aid re-pack!!!)
Recent Auctions:  $129, $134

Yup, pretty crazy.  This last card is my favorite of the bunch.  I was in absolute shock when I pulled this from a repack I picked up at a Rite Aid about a mile from my house.  It is easily the single best card I've ever pulled from a repack.  In fact I haven't bought another one since I don't think, sort of went out with a bang; a repack "mic drop" if you will.

Well, that was interesting!  I'm really grateful I was able to build up a decent collection prior to 2018, because it's going to be a whole lot tougher to get steals on Mookie's cards going forward if he keeps playing like this.  Taking a very conservative number, and leaving the lower value cards out to cover fees and shipping, I think I could easily clear $1,000 if I put these all up tonight.  Insane.

Do you have any Mookie Betts cards in your collection?  Have you had any similar experiences where a card or cards you owned really took off in value after a hot start to a season?  Would love to hear about it in the comments if so!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Buyback Franken-set: Heritage, Heritage, Heritage

Well, it seems like after 10 at night is about the only time I can manage to squeeze a post in these days!  It's been over a week since I made any progress on my buyback franken-set project so let's take a look at another batch this evening...

1969 Topps #631 - John Kennedy

Tonight's group consists entirely of 2018 Topps Heritage 1969 buybacks, picked up as part of a small lot of these on eBay.  I don't get into many modern sets these days, but I do get excited for Heritage ever year just because of these buybacks.  This John Kennedy was a big reason I was drawn to this particular lot, being a great high-numbered Pilot (meaning you get to see the proper Pilots cap as opposed to hat-less player or airbrush job).

It turns out I didn't have a #631 buyback in the binder yet, so this one slides right into the franken-set.  Score!  I could end tonight's post right here and consider it a win.

1969 Topps #663 - Dick Radatz

Here's a significantly less cool Dick Radatz.  This is a great example of why sets from the '60s are often so polarizing for me.  For every card I adore, and there are many of them, there's one like this.  I feel bad saying this, because Radatz had some very good seasons with the Red Sox earlier in the decade, but it won't take much to keep this card from the binder.

This Fred Lynn "card that never was" Turn Back the Clock buyback from 1990 Topps, which already sits in slot 663, is certainly enough to repel Radatz.

I would've loved nothing more than to have moved Fred Lynn over to the dedicated 1990 Topps buyback set I have going, but I have to maintain some integrity here.  I'll have to keep my eye out for a duplicate Lynn or another, better #663 buyback...

1969 Topps #664 - Ron Hunt

Another high-number '69 here, in fact Ron Hunt is the very next card after Dick Radatz on the '69 checklist.  At least we have a halfway interesting photo on this one, and Ron is wearing a hat as he should be.  This was a number I was missing as well, Hunt makes the cut!

1969 Topps #469 - Chico Ruiz

I love this one.  Chico hit just .245 in 1969, but he sure looks like he was enjoying himself nonetheless.  Look at the paint chipping on that batting cage, too!  That would never fly in a modern MLB ballpark.  Amazingly, this is another number I was missing previously for this project.  Going three-for-four like I just did is a rare feat indeed at this stage of completion.

1969 Topps #464 - Dave Marshall

Next up, Dave Marshall of the Giants.  The star of the show here is the oversized Topps All-Star Rookie Trophy graphic.  I've mentioned this before, but I commend Topps for putting the buyback stamp opposite the trophy here.  I've seen a few examples where they stamped right over the trophy, which just seems wrong (yes I understand the irony in saying that seems wrong, when to many collectors just stamping these to begin with is borderline sacrilege).

With Dave Marshall's card we break the run of new numbers, as this relatively new Nick Swisher buyback already sat in slot 464.

No offense to Nick Swisher, who was a better big league player than Dave Marshall, but the All-Star Rookie Trophy rules all.

1969 Topps #463 - Dennis Ribant

Next up, Royals hurler Dennis Ribant against one of those fantastically bizarre backdrops that were so prevalent in the '60s and '70s.  This is a cool card in that it's what Dimebox Nick would refer to as a "zero year" card, meaning Ribant never actually played for the Royals.  Kansas City acquired him from the Tigers in December of 1968.  Though he went through Spring Training with KC in 1969, where this photograph was taken, he was actually purchased by the Cardinals at the outset of the season on March 29th.

As much as I like the Ribant, it draws stiff competition as the franken-set goes.  It's pretty beat to hell, but I love this 1974 World Series subset buyback from the '75 Topps set.  Having Rollie Fingers' impressive mustache within the confines of the franken-set binder is important to me.

Sticking with the '75.

1969 Topps #461 - Mike Epstein

A classic pre-game warm-up shot here on first baseman Mike Epstein's card.  Mike, who was known for taking big hacks but not necessarily making contact or hitting for average, clubbed 30 round-trippers in 1969!

This '78 Rob Andrews buyback from the 2016 program has been holding down slot 461...

...but Epstein certainly wins that match-up.  I mean, the guy's nickname was SuperJew!  Easy call there.

1969 Topps #629 - Jack Hamilton

Jack Hamilton played less than a full season with the Indians, yet he's immortalized on cardboard with the team.  A good look here at the Chief Wahoo logo, something you'll be seeing a whole lot less of starting next year.  I'm curious as to what's going on behind Jack there, looks like someone leaning against a metal gate in front of a whitewashed wall.

This is my first #629 buyback, Hamilton makes the cut.

1969 Topps #529 - Ed Kirkpatrick

In a 16-year MLB career, Ed Kirkpatrick's five seasons with the Royals were just about the only ones where he was close to a full time player.  1969 may have been the best single season of his career, as he had only one season with better power numbers but hit almost 30 points lower that year as far as batting average.  He doesn't look too pleased here for some reason, but he should cheer up a bit given that he makes the binder by default as my first #529 buyback!

1969 Topps #507 - Cookie Rojas

Last buyback for tonight, and maybe my favorite of the entire post.  Cookie Rojas had quite a few gems issued during his career, and his '69 issue is certainly one of them.  I was pleased to see this one included in the lot, and even more so when I realized it was yet another new number for the project!

I can't believe I went six for ten here as far as new numbers.  It may very well be the last time I get that kind of percentage in a ten-card post.  Hell, even two of the four that weren't new numbers battled their way into the binder.  Really happy I picked up this lot, the binder's a whole lot stronger now than it was before adding these.

Thanks for stopping by and reading along!

Franken-set Progress: 606/792 (76%)
1990 Topps Buyback Set: 64/792 (8%)
"Rejected" Buybacks: 460
Total Buybacks in Collection: 1,130
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