Thursday, March 21, 2019

Johnny's Trading Spot Red Sox - Part 1

A while back I won a contest over at Johnny's Trading Spot, and the prize package was an impressive one.  Aside from some buybacks I've already featured, I also got a healthy portion of new Red Sox cards.  Here's a smattering of twenty cards that were included...

Travis Lakins pitched well for Boston's minor league teams last year, splitting time between AA and AAA.  He fared well in a handful of Spring Training appearances this year, so maybe he'll make the big league club at some point.  If he does it'll be cool because not only will I have his first Bowman card...

...but the Camo parallel as well!

Sam Travis did get 38 plate appearances with Boston last season, and hit just .222.  Has to be hard to get into a good rhythm though with just those few games.  Maybe he'll get another crack at Major League pitching in 2019 here.

By most accounts, Jay Groome is a top-10 prospect within the organization, but he's an unknown for sure after missing the entire 2018 season due to Tommy John surgery.

I have to say, for reasons I can't quite put my finger on I really enjoy the design on this Bowman Platinum card.

Here's another one with a lot of color, courtesy of Topps Fire.  I know these cards are over-the-top loud and busy, but I like them anyway.  Probably has something to do with being a child of the '90s.

I really haven't been buying many packs, or new cards whatsoever, for the past few years, but John really helped me with some newer sets with this delivery.  Case in point, I got a trio of 2018 Topps Big League needs in Jackie Bradley Jr...

...J.D. Martinez...

...and Chris Sale.  I thought this was a fun effort by Topps last year, a good example of a "low-end" set done right if you ask me.

Here's a very yellow Star card.  Suck it, 1991 Fleer!  Al Sanders never made the Majors, but at least he got a baseball card I suppose.

Anyone who's ever dealt with these Leaf Limited cards knows they're pretty tough to scan well.

Still happy to have them though!

Three cards closer to owning every Red Sox card in existence, haha.

Some of my favorite cards in the package were the Topps Total ones.  John really contributed to my 2002 team set with five new cards.

Some great names from the team that broke the curse a couple of years after this set hit the shelves, too.

Beardless Damon.

I always enjoyed John Burkett's starts during his stint with Boston at the end of his career.  His numbers don't look that great, but to my recollection he always seemed to keep the team in the game.  He did finish with a winning record both seasons with the Red Sox.

My favorite of the bunch is this Rod Beck card, which has an air of Kenny Powers about it.  Look at that flowing mane!

I'll wrap it up for today with a couple of older Bowman cards...

...from 2015...

...and a very red Pedro Martinez Black Diamond.

I've got enough Red Sox cards still to go from this package to cover at least one or two more posts.  Until then, thanks for stopping by!

Monday, March 18, 2019


Well, I certainly didn't intend to go well over a week without posting here.  It's just been one of those stretches where life hasn't afforded me much spare time for my hobby.  Don't get me wrong, I'm very fortunate and not complaining by any means, but there's simply been little time for baseball cards of late.

For example, last week my work schedule looked like this:

Monday - Providence, RI
Tuesday - Hartford, CT
Wednesday - Providence, RI
Thursday - Boston, MA
Friday - Manchester, NH

Add to that some busy but fun weekends of doing things like watching an Irish band play at a pub on St Patrick's Day, or going to a brewery where you can throw axes (yes, that's a thing), and here we are.

You didn't come here to read my ranting about lack of free time though, you came here to see sports cards.  So here are a few random ones in an attempt to make this vaguely resemble a normal post...

Isn't that a beauty?  I won this in the contest a few months back on Night Owl Cards.  This was the card I had my eye on right out of the gate.  There were quite a few folks who got to pick before me, and I was convinced Willie would be gone by the time my turn came around.  In the end, it all worked out though.  I'm very late in posting this, but thanks for a great contest and a great card Greg!

Look at all those stats!  A whole lotta red and italic print there, that's for sure.

Here's a random one.  I picked up this hand-cut "strip" card shortly after I returned to the hobby back in 2007.  For whatever reason it never made it onto the blog until now, just about 12 years down the line.  Better late than never as they say.

Here's a better look at the front.  This is a Braves card, not a Red Sox card, and to be honest it's one I probably wouldn't spend the money on today.  It wasn't exactly a pick-up that broke the bank at $12.01, but still.

I don't know why I scanned it, but here you are.  The most boring card back in history.

A Ray Bourque Starting Lineup card from 1993 that's been in my "To Be Blogged" folder for way too long.

Let's close it out by looking at a handful of cards from my latest COMC order.  I've been really into 1958 Topps baseball lately, so I grabbed this Willard Nixon because I assumed it would be a new '58 for me as well as a new Red Sox card.  I have so few '58s that I didn't bother checking what I already owned when I picked this one up, and that was a mistake as it turns out I already had a copy Nixon.  In better shape, too.  At least I paid just 63 cents for it.

A fun card here, I don't know too many Star Wars fans that don't like Yoda.  While I don't collect Star Wars cards with any serious level of commitment, I couldn't pass up this Blue Rainbow parallel from 2016 Star Wars Tek for $1.75.  I have six of these parallels now, which are serial-numbered to /99.

Inspired largely by the great 'Desert Island Binder' series at The Shlabotnik Report, I've been on the lookout for some cheap copies of my favorite cards of the '80s.  Randy Johnson's 1989 Donruss Rated Rookie card was an obvious choice at 65 cents.  Love this one.

In the same vein, and picked up the same day, this '87 Cal Ripken is minty fresh and set me back just two quarters.  A classic card of one of my favorite boyhood players.  At two-for-a-buck these are the kind of pick-ups I should be making on COMC all day long.

I'd never heard of these Top Draft Pick promo cards that Upper Deck produced last year until I ran across this one while searching for Mathew Barzal cards a while back.  It was $2.75 and the seller wasn't accepting offers, a bit pricey for my normal COMC endeavors.  I was in full on Barzal prospector mode at the time though, and snatched it up anyway.  I was an impressionable young collector when Upper Deck released their inaugural hockey set, so that design carries some weight with me.

When it comes to buybacks, I typically stick to Topps and Topps Heritage on the baseball side.  I've always sort of half-collected Julio Franco though, so this 2017 Bowman buyback of his '90 Bowman release was too tempting to resist at 72 cents.  Now that is how you crop a photo!

We'll call it quits for tonight with this '64 Eddie Fisher.  I grabbed this one because, much like the '58 Topps flagship set, I've been drawn to the '64s lately when it comes to the '60s.  I've already landed the Koufax and Pete Rose cards from this set earlier this year, so figured I'd look around for some decent condition cheapies.  Fisher fit the bill at 52 cents.

That's all I've got time for right now.  I promise it won't be over a week before you hear from me again.  Thanks as always for stopping by!

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!
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