Monday, February 18, 2019

Lazer Prizm Mbappe!

A quick post today, featuring a pretty big pick-up for my soccer collection from last year...

My sixth card of the exciting French striker Kylian Mbappe!  Already one of the most highly touted young prospects in the world, Mbappe really became a household name at last year's World Cup.  He was easily one of the most exciting players in the tournament, and was a big reason France won it all.

Kylian has continued his strong play since the tournament, with a league-best 19 goals in 18 matches so far for Paris Saint-Germain in France's top tier of football, Ligue 1.  He was ranked #4 on The Guardian's infamous list of the Top 100 Male Footballers for 2018, behind only Luka Modric, Ronaldo and Messi.  Not bad for a guy who only turned 20 a couple of months ago! 

This Lazer Prizm is my fourth variant of this particular Mbappe card now, joining the base, Blue & Red Wave Prizm and Orange & Green Wave Prizm.

A very sharp looking card of one of the most promising young players in global football.  Since it's such a nice reminder of France's exciting 2018 World Cup win, I hope to add a couple more versions of this card to my soccer collection someday!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Signature Sundays - Another '89-90 Featuring Sean Burke!

Another card bites the dust this week in my quest to land as many autographed '89-90 Topps/O-Pee-Chee hockey cards as I can.  This Sunday it's longtime NHL goaltender Sean Burke!

Sean was in the early part of his career at this point, which began with a four-year stint in New Jersey.  In his rookie season of 1987-88, the second round pick was most impressive for the Devils, as he led the club far into the playoffs and just a win from the Stanley Cup Finals.  Many fans felt he was the future of the franchise.  Few could have foreseen that just a few seasons later he'd be sent to Hartford after sitting out the entire 1991-92 season due to a contract dispute.

He'd go on to become the main goaltender for my beloved Hartford Whalers from '92-93 through the franchise's move to Carolina following the 1996-97 season.  In the end, Burke played a total of 18 seasons at the NHL level, quite impressive for any netminder.  He'd play with the Hurricanes, Canucks, Flyers, Panthers, Coyotes, Lightning, and Los Angeles Kings before putting the pads away for the final time.

Another nice addition to my project here.  I picked this one up for $4.99 with free shipping, but used the same Amex gift card that I paid for my '58 Hank Aaron with, so it really didn't set me back anything.

Tune in next Sunday for another autograph towards this project, this one sent to me by a hobby friend!

1989-90 O-Pee-Chee Sean Burke Auto - $4.99 Amex Gift Card!
2019 Running Total - $17.06

Thursday, February 14, 2019

And Now for Something Completely Different...A Whalers Rookie Game Roster

I plan to cover a few non-card items from my sports collection on the blog this year in a series I am blatantly stealing the name of in "And Now for Something Completely Different".  Actually, rather than a blatant rip-off, let's call it a tribute.  After all, I've always loved Monty Python.  Though they were admittedly a little before my time so to speak, I've always enjoyed both the show and the fantastic movies that...


Ah, was starting to ramble a bit there, let's take a look at the first item...

This is a larger item, a full 8 1/2" x 11" paper actually, so I'd encourage you to click on the image above for a larger view.  What you're looking at is a roster/lineup sheet from a rookies exhibition game played between the New York Islanders and the Hartford Whalers on September 23, 1985.  I picked this up a few years back because I thought it was a really awesome and unique addition to my Whalers collection.

I really couldn't find much information out on the internet related to this game, so I ended up asking the seller.  It turns out that the game was played at one of the Islanders practice facilities as a way for the teams to exercise some of their younger talent and provide fans with a cheap and enjoyable event.  The person I bought this from was the original owner, and was about 10 years old at the time of the game.

I was intrigued by the autograph that you can see here, just to the right of the Islanders roster for the game.  Not an easy one to make out by any means, but I felt pretty strongly that the initials didn't match anyone on either roster as far as I could tell.

I ended up getting some clarification on this from the seller as well, and it turns out the autograph is Gord Dineen of the famed Dineen hockey family.  The seller asked his father, who had taken him to the game, for information on the signature, and he recalled that Gord (who had already seen enough action with the Islanders that he was no longer considered a rookie at this point) was there to watch and support his brother Peter, who was playing in the game for the Whalers.

To me, this made the piece even cooler.  Not only did I have an interesting backstory from the original owner to accompany it, but the Dineens are well-known to Whalers fans as Peter and Gord's brother Kevin was one of the most talented and most beloved players ever to suit up for Hartford!  I have so many cards featuring Kevin with the Whalers, it's kind of cool to have a piece of memorabilia that ties both of his brothers who also played in the NHL to the team in some small way.

Here's a closer look at the Whalers roster for this one.  Some names I certainly recognize there who would go on to play a significant number of games in Whaler green, including both goalies, Brad Shaw, Sylvan Cote and Dean Evason among others.

I also found it interesting that there's an Andy Brickley listed here?!?!  I have no idea what's going on with that, the Andy Brickley that enjoyed an 11-year NHL career and is the current color commentator for the Bruins was never associated with the Whalers franchise.  Also, though he was a left wing/center which matches the Andy Brickley listed here, he was past being considered a rookie by this point as well.  Who is this bizzaro-Brickley?

The Andy Brickley I know did play some games with the Springfield Indians around this time, who were relatively nearby and I believe were a minor league affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins.  I'm guessing that has to be him on the roster, given that he was around the right age and was playing minor league hockey in the area.  Can't be a coincidence, can it?

I'm really glad that I drifted out of my normal collecting comfort zone and picked this up.  Especially since I was the sole bidder at just $2.99.  Have you ever picked up lineup cards, score sheets or anything similar for any of the sports you enjoy collecting?  Would love to hear about it in the comments if so!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Treating Myself to a Hammerin' Hank

Last year I celebrated (celebrated?) my 15th anniversary at my place of employment.  They take pretty good care of us - I guess I wouldn't stick around somewhere for a decade and a half if they didn't - and one of the little perks that we get is Amex gift cards for significant work anniversaries.  When I hit my 15-year mark in May, I received $150 in gift cards.

I'll confess that I'm one of those people who seems to take forever to spend gift cards for whatever reason.  Maybe it's the same trait that allows me to keep dozens of unopened packs on the shelf for a rainy day without blinking an eye.  Anyway, I sat on these in much the same way, until I finally got off my butt and associated them with my PayPal account last month.  I figured a year where I'm trying to cut down on hobby related spending was the perfect time to bust these out and get some essentially free cards.

There were actually two gift cards, one with a value of $100 and one with a value of $50.  The reason that matters is that I found out the one caveat with using pre-paid gift cards through PayPal like this is that you have to cover the entire purchase with one single gift card.  There wasn't going to be any combining of these to bring home a single, $150 card or anything like that (foiling my original plan).  Instead, I'd need to charge as close to $100 worth of cards as I could manage to one card, and as close to $50 worth of cards to the other.

I started with the larger card first, and I couldn't be happier with my haul:

This beauty is now my oldest Hank Aaron card.  His '54 Topps rookie is on my short list of "I just won the lottery" dream cards, but I'd be worried about a counterfeit copy with a card of that magnitude, and just about any even poorly graded version is going to run you four figures.  For now, this card will more than suffice as a beautiful '50s representation of one of my all-time favorite ballplayers.

Hank had a typical beast of a year in '58, with a .326/.386/.546 slash line accompanied by just shy of 200 hits, 34 doubles, an even 30 home runs and 95 RBI.  He finished 3rd in NL MVP voting behind winner Ernie Banks, and Willie Mays.  Not bad for your age 24 season!

Here's a closer look at the front.  PSA graded this one a "VG-3", which seems a bit harsh, but is totally fine with me as it made the card affordable.  I think it looks fantastic, in as good a condition as I'd ever hope to attain anyway.  Slightly off-center from left to right but bright, vibrant colors and great overall visual appeal.  I mentioned this only a few days ago, but the more I collect from '58 Topps the more I like the set.

My scanner struggles with PSA-slabbed backs, but I wanted to post this to show that, despite the low grade, this back is basically pristine with no paper loss, glue, creases, gum stains or any of that nonsense.

Yeah, January was a pretty good month for my collection, that's for sure.  I think I got a decent deal on this card too, as the seller accepted my best offer of $61.50.  Throw in $3.50 for shipping and I used an even $65 from the first gift card to bring this card home.

With a nice prize like this coming out of the gift cards, and more still to come, I certainly hope I hit the 25-year mark at this company!

1959 Topps Hank Aaron - $65.00 ($61.50 + $3.50 shipping) Amex Gift Card!
2019 Running Total - $17.06

Monday, February 11, 2019

Buyback Franken-set: A 6-Pack from John

Late last year I won a contest held by John over at Johnny's Trading Spot.  The prize ended up being pretty amazing, more cards than I thought I'd be getting for sure.  There were easily a couple hundred cards in the bubble mailer, but we'll ease in today with just half a dozen buybacks!

1986 Topps #685 - Tim Wallach

This Tim Wallach is an automatic winner, as it's the first #685 buyback I've acquired and makes the franken-set by default.  I don't think anyone could have predicted what a monster season Wallach would have the year after this card was printed up.  A great start to today's proceedings...

2006 Topps #UH76 - Danys Baez

Next up, a 2006 Danys Baez.  I'm guessing John must have had two of these, because I doubt he'd send me any Braves he didn't already have in his massively impressive team collection.  This one's from the 2006 Topps Update set though, so for the time being anyway...'s ineligible for the franken-set.  I'm up to quite a few Traded/Update buybacks, so it's not out of the realm of possibility that I'd try an update franken-set someday.  Not even going to consider it until I finish the main set though, too many projects as it is.

1989 Topps #42T - Kevin Gross

Two out of three cards are Montreal Expos to lead off today.  Kevin Gross sure was reliable and durable, as 1989 was the fifth year in a row that he'd start at least 30 games.  Unfortunately this is a Traded buyback as well.

Ditto to everything I said above about the Baez card.

1990 Topps #294 - Craig McMurtry

Now we're talking!  There are few cheap thrills in collecting that excite me as much as a 1990 Topps buyback.  This one is particularly great, as it features pitcher Craig McMurtry taking infield practice wearing his everyday glasses.  Love it.  It's even better due to the fact that it's the first #294 buyback I've encountered, giving it a clear path to the binder, and...

...completing another new page!  I love the variety on this particular page, not a single year is repeated and not a single team is repeated either.  No HOFers or anything like that (Ted Simmons would be the closest I guess), but a great looking page nonetheless.

1989 Topps #203 - Rob Ducey

Continuing on, we've got another '89, this time from the standard flagship set.  I remember Ducey's name (as a kid it was a slightly comical one), but don't really have any recollection of him as a player.  He lasted 13 years in Major League baseball, but wasn't considered a real full-time player for more than a couple of those at most.

He's got a tough competitor as the franken-set goes too, with a nice J.R. Richard Record Breaker subset card from 1979 Topps.

Easy call there, Ducey was doomed.

1990 Topps #38 - Wes Gardner

Last card for today, and it's yet another 1990 Topps buyback!  A Red Sox player too, can't beat that.  In this case I already had a buyback in slot 38:

Another Red Sox buyback from a good 30 years prior.  No need to sweat this one, Casale stays in place...

...and Gardner enters into my dedicated 1990 Topps buyback binder.  He becomes the 107th card to enter that binder, which is good for about 13% completion at this point.  Not too bad given that I started that project much, much later than the Buyback Franken-set.

These were fantastic, but they were only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the prize package I received from John.  I'll have some more of those cards up here later this week, or early next.  Thanks for stopping by!

Franken-set Progress: 642/792 (81%)
1990 Topps Buyback Set: 107/792 (13%)
"Rejected" Buybacks: 571
Total Buybacks in Collection: 1,320

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Christmas Cards! Golden Treasures Part VII

Time for the final installment from the Golden Treasures repack box that my parents gifted me this past Christmas.  We've got two packs left to go, plus the promised 5 random vintage cards.  What definition of "vintage" is the vendor going with in this case?  I'm expecting late '70s, but perhaps we'll be pleasantly surprised?

Before we get to that though, the packs...

Today's first pack is 1991 Score, Series 2.  Believe it or not I was actually pretty excited to see this one fall out of the box.  As junk wax goes, I actually enjoy Score's 1991 effort quite a bit.  I like the multiple colors of borders, and there are so many strange and interesting subset cards to be found as well.  Let's see how I did...

Each pack contains 16 cards, and they're broken out (roughly) to four cards of each border color.  First up we have the blue border, which is appropriate I suppose for the Mariners...

...and the Brewers.

It was all pitchers all the way in terms of my blue-border quartet.  The highlight is definitely this great shot of HOFer and color commentator Dennis Eckersley.  This one's a definite keeper for my baseball collection.

Each pack contains one "Magic Motion" lenticular trivia card.  I don't typically hang onto these since they're a pain to store.

Next up, the black border cards.  These might be my favorite of the different color options used on the borders.  My streak of pulling pitchers continues.

Finally get a position player six cards in, and it's the somewhat rare "IF" (for infield) designation.  Don't see that every day!

The black bordered cards yielded a keeper for my collection as well, with this early-career Curt Schilling.  This card is very dark, between the black border and the upper portion of the photograph that is so dark you can barely make out Curt's arms or hat.

My pitcher-heavy pack continues with seven out of eight here out of the gate.

Next we have the white bordered cards, which contain the Rookie Prospect subset.  I didn't do all that well with my rookies in Paul Faries...

...and Kevin Belcher.  Just over 100 combined career games for the pair.  Oh well.

The other two I pulled were Geronimo Pena, who lasted seven years in Major League Baseball and at least swung a halfway decent bat...

...and Paul Marak, whose entire MLB career consists of 7 starts for the Braves in 1990.

Finally, we have the teal or aqua border providing the last four cards of the pack.

No pitchers at all to be found in the final quartet.

My lone horizontal card in the pack, Randy Ready.

Closing it out, another good action shot featuring catcher Joe Oliver.  I wouldn't say that was an All-Star pack, but at least I got a couple of nice cards for my collection in Eck and Schilling.

Last pack of the box is...

...1994 Topps!  I certainly opened plenty of this as a kid.  Will I be fortunate enough to pull a Black Gold card?  Probably not, but let's find out...

My one-per-pack Gold parallel is Brewers slugger John Jaha.  Look at those pinstripes!

Hey, how about that!  A Black Gold winner card!  I believe this could be mailed in for section "B" of the set, which contains the 11 cards depicted here.  I honestly have no idea if this was a rare pull or not, but interesting nonetheless.

Fantastic action shot here on Sandy Alomar's card.  Probably the best overall photograph in today's post.

Hey, here's a keeper for me!  I've always idolized Jim Abott (how can you not?), and while I don't actively seek out his cards often I do tend to hang onto any that I run across by chance.

Alright, this pack turned out to be a definite winner with another keeper card here.  I sort of half collect Julio Franco just because I enjoy athletes that play at the highest level until a relatively old age.  I did not have a copy of his '94 flagship card prior to pulling this one.  Awesome.

I really dig the design Topps used for the Future Star subset in '94.  He may not exactly have been a stud player, but Rich Becker did go on to play in well over 700 MLB games before hanging up the spikes.

Another great action shot here, the catchers really seemed to do quite well in 1994 Topps.

I like this one, just because Mike Timlin was coming off that epic World Series win with Toronto in '93, and because he later pitched for the Red Sox (though his long flowing mullet was a thing of the past by that point).

Three kind of boring pitcher cards close out the pack.

I'd say that was a successful ending to this repack box.  Despite me being much more selective about which cards I keep these days I still found a couple of keepers in each pack.  Can't beat that.

Now, let's see the five random vintage cards that came in the box...

Whoa!  I was not expecting this, that's for sure.  I can't believe a set from the '50s was included among the vintage cards, and a Red Sox player no less!  Not only that, but aside from being slightly off-center this one is in fantastic shape for a card that's over 60 years old now.  I had a copy of it previously, but this one is actually a condition upgrade.  Regardless of what the other four cards end up being here, I'm considering this a win.  Amazing.

Next up, pitcher Buster Narum of the Senators from the '66 set.  I like this one as well, being a fan of teams that are no longer.  I already have a copy of this card though, so if any of my trading partners want my dupe just let me know and I'll throw it in my next package to you.

I'm pleased with the next card also, if only because I have so few '68 Topps cards for whatever reason.  Without double-checking, I'd have to say it's the least-represented Topps set of the '60s within my collection.

Here's a card that I already had in buyback form, but not in original 1969 Topps format.  Again I'm very surprised by the condition these are in.  I was expecting some real beaters but these are in as good a shape as any '60s cards I own for the most part.

Last card of the Golden Treasures repack box, another '58 featuring Gus Triandos of the Orioles.  This one's in even better shape than the other four vintage cards, and from a set I adore.  In fact, sometimes I wonder whether I made a mistake in working on a '59 Topps set rather than a '58.  Who knows, maybe someday down the line I'll take a shot at '58, and if I do this one will certainly be included.

I could not be happier with how those random vintage cards played out.  I was honestly expecting five late-'70s commons, but to have every card be from the '60s or earlier and to land two '58s was a pleasant surprise.

Well, that was quite an enjoyable gift!  Thanks to those of you that read along on Saturdays over the past couple of months, and thanks to my Mom and Dad for providing a fun walk down memory lane as well as quite a bit of content for the blog.

I have one last post to go in order to get through my Christmas spoils, as my parents also gifted me with a $50 eBay gift card.  I think I did quite well with it, but check back next weekend and you can judge for yourself...
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