Monday, October 22, 2018

1950 Bowman - Post #9 - Jim Hearn

One of my lifelong collecting goals is to someday complete a 1950 Bowman baseball set.  It's not exactly at the top of my priority list, but something I plan to slowly plod away at over the course of my lifetime.  Today I'm reviewing my ninth pick-up towards that pursuit...

...and it's tall left-handed pitcher Jim Hearn.  Jim played 13 seasons of Major League Baseball for the Cardinals, Giants and Phillies.  You don't hear much about him these days (at least I don't), but he seems to have been a somewhat under-rated player.  He won over 100 games in his career, many more than he lost, and finished with a respectable career ERA of 3.81.

This particular card is a favorite in my early set build here for a couple of reasons.  First and foremost, Hearn had one of his better seasons in 1950.  The Cardinals had placed him on waivers early in the season, but when the Giants claimed him in mid-July he was an absolute stud for the latter half of the season.  In 16 starts for New York, Jim went 11-3 with a 1.94 ERA  In 11 of those 16 starts he pitched a complete game, and 5 of those were shutouts to boot!  Jim's resurrection with the Giants was so impressive that he was even named on at least one MVP ballot that year.

The second reason I love this card though is obvious...the lurker in the shirt and tie.  It's just so bizarre and so out of place.  The interesting backgrounds are one of the things I enjoy most about this release, and this one certainly doesn't disappoint.  Is that Jim's agent, or accountant?  Maybe a Secret Service agent?  We'll never know, and in all likelihood it was just an average fan given that folks used to actually dress up to attend ballgames back then.

I got this card for $3, and I bet one of the reasons I picked it up so cheap is that some baseball fan almost 70 years ago took it upon himself to stamp "GIANTS" on the back.  I don't mind, in fact I kind of like it.  The reason Hearn was on waivers to begin with in 1950 was that he got off to a  horrific start with St. Louis, to the tune of a 10.00 ERA after 6 appearances.  All of his success that season came after the Giants claimed him, so it's a rare case where I think I actually prefer my stamped card to a clean one.

Well, there you have it, Jim Hearn and the man in the tie.  As for my 1950 Bowman set, that's 9 cards down, 243 to go...

Sunday, October 21, 2018

COMC Blaster - All Baseball, All the Time

As the baseball world pauses for a couple of days to catch its collective breath prior to the World Series, let's do a baseball only version of one of my patented "COMC Blaster" posts.  If you've read one before then you know the drill, let's take a look at how $20 in COMC credit matched up compared to your average retail blaster.

The front-runner in the 2018 AL MVP discussions seemed like an obvious choice to lead off with.  I have to admit, the design Topps used for this (online only I think?) release is not very appealing to me.  It's something a little different for my modest Mookie Betts collection though, and at just 73 cents I didn't exactly break the bank for it.

Next up, a trio of some of my favorite parallel cards ever, the 2014 Topps Finest X-Fractors.  Not all of the players on the 100-card checklist are stars, though the majority are.  This one was a need that cost me just 45 cents in credit.

I had to pony up a whole 64 cents for Justin Verlander, but given that he's consistently been one of the best arms in baseball, and is a future HOFer, that didn't seem all that unreasonable.

Jason Kipnis is still plying his trade in Cleveland, and had good power numbers this year despite a .230 average.  49 cents for this one.  With these three in hand I'm now at 16 cards out of the 100-card set of these parallels.  Chipping away!

Speaking of chipping away, my painfully slow pursuit of 1959 Topps continues with another three cards here.  Kent Hadley enjoyed a brief Major League career before, to use a Lebron James term, "taking his talents to" Japan.  Still, a nice mint specimen of a card I needed for 67 cents.

From the same seller in a bundle came this Milt Graff, again at 67 cents.  I will quite literally buy any remaining '59 that I need in this shape at 3-for-$2 prices.

The original Frank Thomas cost me 88 cents.  1959, the only season Frank would spend with the Reds, was a down year for the slugger.  He appeared in only 108 games, but even accounting for a shortened season the numbers weren't pretty.  Oh well, still looks great in the set binder!

I'm sure someone will get a laugh out of this one.  I shelled out $1.30 for this Rusney Castillo Artist's Proof parallel from Panini Diamond Kings.  It's a relatively rare card, and I'm happy to have it for my Red Sox collection, but I'd say it's one that only a team collector can appreciate most likely.

I feel like I end up showing one of these Bowman Chrome Bubbles Refractors every time I do one of these posts.  What can I say, there was a period there where I was snatching up any I could find on the cheap.  I also love just about any new Bartolo Colon card, so this one's a win for my collection on two fronts.  $1.15!

On the subject of shiny blue cards that I like quite a bit, here's a beautiful Bowman's Best Blue Refractor of my favorite active player, Xander Bogaerts.  This is my 110th Bogaerts that I've cataloged so far in my collection on TCDB, still the largest Bogaerts collection on the site at this point.  Considering this card is serial-numbered to /250 I feel I got an amazing deal on it at just 65 cents.

Every once in a while I'll comb through some vintage Topps sets that I don't have completed team sets for and see if there's any low hanging fruit that I'm missing.  That's exactly what happened here with this '67 Mike Ryan.  My cost?  43 cents.

I paid $1.62 on the other hand for this '71 Bill Lee.  Why would I do that?

Because it's an O-Pee-Chee!  These floating heads are some of the most well-done card backs in the history of baseball cards in my opinion, and in that of many collectors.  Feels great to add the floating head of one of baseball's more unique characters to my collection at last.

I'm a sucker for the '90 Leaf buybacks from the 2012 Leaf Memories set.  I know they're corny but those of you collecting back then remember what a big deal 1990 Leaf was I'm sure.  These are kind of fun to chase being relatively rare at just 20 copies each.  I think it's my third Red Sox card as far as these parallels go.  Believe it or not, this is the most expensive card in today's post at $2.36.

Here's a cheapie.  Since I'm helpless in the face of a good shiny card I couldn't resist throwing two quarters and a nickel at this Finest Koji Uehara Prism Refractor.

The 2011 Topps Cognac parallels were just fantastic.  In fact, I'm not sure if Topps has made a parallel I like more in the time since.  I've always loved Jamie Moyer (I mean, he was 48 years old when this card was printed!), so I couldn't leave this behind at 45 cents.

The legends parallels I enjoy even more.  Just about any that are available at a buck or less that I don't already have are going to get snagged.  That's exactly what happened here with Paul O'Neill for an even dollar...

...and Frank Robinson, who was an even better steal at 75 cents.  Man, for 75 cents I'd probably buy duplicates of this card just because it's so beautiful.

Continuing the theme of cards I got for 75 cents, here's a nice framed parallel of Mookie Betts from Panini Diamond Kings, the 2016 version.  That was a year or two ago now, I doubt I'll find another at that price again.

As a Red Sox fan, there's almost nothing more visually appealing than a Topps Chrome Red Refractor parallel.  The only problem is they're pretty damn rare.  This Will Middlebrooks, for example, is numbered to just /25 copies.  I paid $2.32 for it just because it's rare that I ever get the opportunity to pick one up, regardless of the player.

One of my all-time white whales would be the Xander Bogaerts Red Refractor from the very same set as the Middlebrooks above.  I've never seen one, but I'd be prepared to pay dearly should I ever encounter the card.

I've mentioned on a few occasions that 2007 Goudey was the set that got me back into collecting over a decade ago now.  A handful of the painful short prints still elude me to this day, but that number has dropped by one now with Tony Gwynn in hand.  $1.27 well spent!

Here's one that I absolutely should not have waited years to pick up.  I was never fortunate enough to pull Jackie Robinson's base card in any of the packs of 2014 Stadium Club that I opened, but I was able to rectify that at long last courtesy of COMC, and for just 74 cents.  What an image!

The 21 cards in today's post bring us to a total of $19.87, so we'll obviously call it there.  A whole bunch of awesome cards for my collection, and saved 12 cents off a blaster price at that!

Hope you saw at least a card or two that interested you.  Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Cardboard from Sweden!

Today I've got a long overdue post, featuring some fantastic cardboard that made its way to my little household here in Rhode Island all the way from Sweden!  These all arrived in a trade package a few months ago from my buddy Oscar, one of Shoebox Legends' international friends.

Oscar is an awesome guy, and though we've never met in person he enjoys this blog and has taken it upon himself to ship cards halfway around the world to me on more than one occasion now.  Just some further evidence that sports card collectors are among some of the friendliest people you'll meet anywhere on the globe.

Oscar sent so many cards that I couldn't possibly do his trade package justice here today, but I have picked out a few highlights to share with you.  First of all, you can't go wrong with '94-95 Flair hockey.  Flair was basically the definition of high-end in the days before autographs, patches and scarce serial-numbered inserts ruled the land.  These really hold up and still look classy to this day.  I'd love to complete the set and display it in a binder someday.

Here's a unique one, featuring Chad Johnson of the Hartford Wolf Pack.  The Whalers may be gone (though the Carolina Hurricanes are going to don the sweaters for a couple of games this season against the Bruins, and yes I have tickets to that game in Boston already!), but we still have the Wolf Pack.  They're the AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers.  Though I have been trying to thin my collection down overall in the past few months, I'll certainly hang on to this one due to the local ties.

How about some soccer cards?  It is Premier League Saturday, after all.  Oscar's package included my very first three cards from this particular Topps Premier League Gold set.

I really like the minimalist design, and sending me a star player from my personal favorite club (Liverpool) is a sure way to make any trade package a success.

Perhaps my favorite of the trio though is this RC of Tottenham Hotspur mid-fielder Dele Alli.  This guy is a ton of fun to watch, and teamed up with the great Harry Kane has been one of the more entertaining players in the league at times over the past few seasons.  Love this card!

Oscar knows I like the Whalers, and always seems to include some in his trade packages.  It's getting harder and harder to find holes in my Whalers collection as the years roll by, and some of the cards Oscar sent along were dupes, but he did find a couple of new ones including this Parkhurst SE card of goalie Jeff Reese.

From the same set, I also needed this Sean Burke, which as you can see in the lower left is a "Parkie" parallel.  This pair of new Whalers cards will help me further climb the ranks towards my goal of having the #1 Hartford Whalers collection on the Trading Card Database.  The ones I already had didn't go to waste either, as they've already been routed to Billy at Cardboard History.

Speaking of the Whalers, here's a great Rookie Materials Jersey card of Henrik Samuelsson, son of former Whalers defenseman Ulf Samuelsson.  Another card with some pretty cool local ties for me, plus it's not every day that you see a Coyotes swatch of this shade on a card.  Very cool.

Here's an obscure one.  Matt Lindblad played in four total games with the Bruins, the only four games of his NHL career, before hanging up the skates.  He's still with the organization now, just in a scouting capacity.  I really enjoy cards like this of short-term players for the teams I follow, great stuff.

Next up, a nice Black Rainbow Foil O-Pee-Chee parallel of Johnny Boychuk.  Like many Bruins fans, I loved this guy when he suited up for the B's.  Johnny is still playing in the NHL, now with the Islanders in his 12th season in the league.  This card is serial-numbered to /100, and will look great paired up with the Jaromir Jagr I have from this same parallel set.

Here's another fan favorite who played on a lot of those same Bruins teams with Boychuck a few years back.  Both of these players are firmly entrenched in the hearts of fans as well due to the fact that they were significant contributors to the 2011 Stanley Cup winning team.  A nice relic card here indeed.

As nice as that Lucic is, the final hockey card I have to show today puts it to shame.  It's not every day that you receive a dual relic card of one of the greatest defensemen in NHL history in your mailbox.  Simply fantastic, I'm not sure what I did to deserve this one but I'll take it!

Oscar knows I'm a big Red Sox fan as well, and this time he tossed in a couple of baseball cards to top off the package.  I'd imagine Boston Red Sox cards may not be the easiest thing to come across over in Sweden, so I was shocked and amazed to find a pair of them included.  I know there are about a million Henry Owens cards out there, but an autograph's an autograph and this one's nice and shiny as well.

Let's close the post out with this jaw-dropper.  Yup, that's a piece of HOFer Jim Rice's bat.  What a beautiful relic card.  For some reason, when it comes to baseball cards, I've always enjoyed bat relics more so than jerseys.  This one will certainly remain a cherished part of my Red Sox collection, not only because it's a great card, but because of the backstory and the fact that a collector halfway around the world whom I've never met in person just sent it to me out of the kindness of his heart.

I finally got off my butt this week and got together some return cards for Oscar.  In fact, I was so stunned by his generosity that I purchased some football cards on eBay just to send back to him (Oscar's a big NFL fan, and football cards can be tough to locate in his country).  I'll have that on the way to you in the coming days Oscar!  In the meantime...

Tack så mycket!

Friday, October 19, 2018

A Pair of Old Sox

Congratulations to the 2018 Boston Red Sox on being crowned champions of the American League!  The ALCS was a thrilling series to watch, start to finish, and certainly a controversial one as well.  To celebrate the culmination of an amazing season with a World Series berth, here are a couple of much older Red Sox cards from my collection that I've never featured here before...

I've mentioned my love for the 1922 E120 American Caramel cards here on the blog more than a few times now.  I adore the ornate borders on these, and the fact that you get actual photographs of the players, not always the case when you go this far back.  I pick up low-grade Red Sox whenever I can find them within my budget, but that is not very often with these.  George Burns here is my sixth Red Sox card from this set, which puts me at 40% of a team set.

George was a damn good player, finishing as a career .307 hitter with three World Series championships.  In 1926 he won the American League MVP Award, which I confess I was not aware of when I picked this one up.  Hitting .358 with 64 doubles (yes, you read that right) seems like a good way to be named Most Valuable Player.

These types of cases don't scan too well due to reflection, but as you see the cards aren't numbered.  Some sites, including the Trading Card Database, list this as card #1 on the checklist.  Six Sox down, nine to go from this set.  Doubt I'll ever get them all, but I'm sure a few more will land in my lap at some point.

Here's the other half of today's pair, from a couple of decades after the Burns.  The early Bowman releases from the late '40s through the mid '50s have always been and always will be among my absolute favorite vintage baseball cards.  The 1949 release was the first to get the colorized treatment.  The design is so basic that I can't put my finger on exactly why I enjoy them so much, but I sure do.

Mickey Harris was a pitcher who, like so many from his generation, pressed the pause button on his professional career to serve his country in World War II.  After the war he was a major component of Boston's 1946 team that lost the World Series to the Cardinals, and was even named an All-Star that year.

At #151, I believe this might be considered a rarer "high number" from the '49 Bowman set, but don't hold me to that.  Oddly enough, just like with the E120 American Caramel above, this is my sixth '49 Bowman Red Sox card out of 15 in the team set as well.  What are the odds of that?

Well, that's a wrap for today.  Hope you enjoyed this pair of moldy oldies.  I'll certainly be watching the NLCS tonight.  Still not sure who I would prefer win that series, but I certainly want the Brewers to win tonight to stretch it out to 7 games and tire out both teams that much more.

Thanks as always for stopping by!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Buyback Franken-set: A Trio of '66s

A quick set of triplets from 1966 Topps for the Buyback Franken-set tonight.  Don't have time for anything more involved than this, too busy watching the Red Sox/Astros...

1966 Topps #89 - Ted Davidson

Kicking off the festivities, Reds pitcher Ted Davidson.  Davidson pitched in a career-high 54 games for Cincinnati in 1966.  You have to respect a guy who appears in a full 1/3 of his team's games in a given season.

If Ted wants into the binder in slot 89 he'll have to best this beat-up '69 Russ Gibson buyback.  This baby's got it all; yellowing, dinged corners, a big ol' crease.  Love the character.

Stickin' with the Gibson.

1966 Topps #8 - Floyd Robinson

1966 was the beginning of the end for Floyd Robinson.  In his first five full seasons between 1961 and 1965 he batted .293, hit between 11 and 14 home runs per season, and hit at least 15 doubles and drove in at least 59 runs each year.  He received at least one vote for Rookie of the Year or MVP in every one of those seasons.  An impressive start to a career for sure. 

His final three seasons beginning in 1966, though?  He averaged .234, hit just 7 total home runs, and if you add up all the doubles and runs driven in they're about equal with any one of his first five seasons of your choice.  Yup, it was a sharp drop-off for Robinson.

This '80 Topps Craig Swan buyback has been resident in slot 8 for a good while now.  I don't run across very many 1980 Topps buybacks, and I love how it looks like Craig is performing some bizarre soccer kick move with the buyback stamp.

Swan retains his hold on slot 8.

1966 Topps #15 - Vern Law

The last buyback of the night is the best of the three, longtime Major League pitcher Vern Law.  Vern pitched his first MLB inning all the way back in 1950!  Even at the age of 36 in 1966 he still racked up 12 wins.  Wait, I'm 36.  Ah, shit!

This is my first #15 buyback, so into the binder it goes!  Go Red Sox!

Franken-set Progress: 632/792 (79%)
1990 Topps Buyback Set: 100/792 (12%)
"Rejected" Buybacks: 514
Total Buybacks in Collection: 1,246
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