Wednesday, December 31, 2008

100th Post

Last day of the year and I managed to sneak my 100th post in just in time! Like I've said before, I may not update this blog as frequently as others, but I'm glad I've stuck with it. 100 posts means I'm updating the blog about twice a week, which is fine with me. For my 100th post I've decided to show off one of my favorite vintage cards, the only Mickey Mantle card that I own.

Growing up, I had a friend whose father really got into collecting cards with him for a while. His dad actually bought about 5 or 6 Mantle cards as an investment (or at least that's what he probably told his wife). I remember going over this friend's house and being in absolute awe that he actually had a few of Mantle's Topps cards. Ever since then I've wanted one of my own. I picked this one up on Ebay a while back for a couple of reasons.

The card was a bit cheaper than most graded Mantle's since it's an All-Star card and not a regular base card, I think it set me back about $100 with shipping. Ironically, the fact that it's an All-Star card is the very reason I wanted it though. 1958 was the first year that Topps introduced All-Star cards, so it's kind of significant as far as the history of trading cards. I love the look of the All-Star cards from this year too, with the cropped photo of the player against a star-spangled background.

One of my collecting goals is to complete a PSA-graded 1958 Topps All-Star set. There were only 21 All-Star cards released altogether in '58 (#'s 475-495). I've already got 6 of them, and the Mantle was the most expensive, so I'm well on my way.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Collecting New Year's Resolutions

I started this blog with the intent of giving myself a venue to write about my interest in sports cards. My goal has always been, and always will be, to write about my experiences collecting and about cards and the sports that interest me. If anyone else reads it, or agrees (or disagrees) with me then that's an added bonus. While my favorite blog, dayf's Cardboard Junkie, is often updated multiple times in the same day, I am realistic enough to know that I don't have the knowledge or the time to devote to my blog or collecting on that level. That being said, I have really enjoyed my first year of blogging and have gotten to know and traded with some really great people.

As I approach the third year of my second stint at collecting, I think it's time that I set some goals for myself as a collector. One thing that I've learned about myself in the past year since I started this blog (wow, that went by fast!) is that I tend to get distracted really easily when it comes to collecting cards. I tend to be a great starter and planner, with grand ideas, who loses interest and has trouble crossing the finish line. Here's what typically happens that prevents me from focusing my collection on any one particular thing:

  • A great looking set is released (or I discover a set that I'd never heard of but love)
  • I instantly deem the set the best looking bunch of cards I've ever seen, and resolve to collect the entire set
  • I buy some of the product, sometimes quite a bit, sometimes just a few cards
  • My interest starts to peter out as I run into hard to find short prints or am unable to locate some of the cards I need, or...
  • Another great set is released, and the cycle continues...
As a result, I really haven't finished many sets or refined my collection in any way. I find that after 2+ years of collecting, I really have a huge variety of random scattered cards, and very little in the way of organized collections or completed sets. So, here are my card collecting New Year's resolutions. It will be interesting to look back on these at the end of 2009 to see how well I stick to my goals...
1. Finish Some Sets! - I need to get my Want List updated, start looking through other's Have lists, and hit the web and local card shop to finish some sets. I want to complete at least one large baseball set and 2 hockey sets in 2009.
2. Make a Decision on the 1953 Topps Project - The one major goal that I set for myself when I started collecting cards again was to finish a PSA-graded 1953 Topps baseball set. When I set this goal, I had just gotten back into collecting and was really only focusing on purchasing graded vintage baseball cards. Well, I've learned a lot in 2 years. I'm not as big a fan of graded cards anymore, and I've discovered so many other things that I want to collect as well. I have made some pretty good progress, I have about 25% of the set and have picked up a few of the expensive cards, like Warren Spahn, Phil Rizzuto, and Satchell Paige. I need to decide whether I want to:
  • Stick with the plan. This is my favorite baseball set of all time, even if I'm 60 before it's finished it will all be worth it.
  • Can the whole idea. Can I really see myself finishing this thing when the Mantle, Mays and Robinson cards are going to add up to about $4,000 alone? Should a full grown adult even spend $4,000 on 3 baseball cards? Do I ever see myself dropping over $100 on a no-namer just because he's one of the 50+ short printed high series cards when I could buy two hobby boxes of the latest hockey releases for the same price?
  • Stick with the plan, but modify things. Keep the graded stars and Red Sox cards I've purchased but sell the rest. Use the money to buy some "loved" or "gently used" un-graded 1953 Topps cards at a much more reasonable price. I've gotta say, I'm not too proud to admit when I've set my sights a little too high, and I'm leaning towards this option.
3. Focus My Collection - Another thing I've learned is that you can't have it all. I'm very fortunate to have a decent job and a steady paycheck, but there are more important things in life than little pieces of cardboard with pictures of sports stars on them. I think when you first get into collecting you are tempted to just buy up everything that is out there, but I've learned enough now to know that I need to focus my collection. That 400-count box full of pack-fresh 2007 Topps Updates & Highlights that I probably haven't even opened since I took the cards out of the packs would probably be better suited for someone else's collection. I'm hoping to clean out my card closet, get some trades going, and maybe even make some cash on eBay that I can use to buy the cards I want. I plan to collect a wide variety of hockey cards still, but any basketball or football that I have is going, and when it comes to baseball, if I'm not going for the complete set, I'm going to try to stick to vintage Red Sox cards like the ones pictured here.
4. Organize What I'm Keeping - I've got stacks and boxes of cards everywhere in my spare room. Once I determine which cards I actually do want to keep, I want to get things organized to the point where I can locate any card I own with a minute or so. I keep digital scans of all of my cards to use for blogging and for reference when I don't feel like digging out boxes, so I'd like to get every card that I own scanned in as well. I use Excel spreadsheets to keep track of what I have and need, but I would love to find a better database solution with a nice graphical front end. I've checked out Beckett's online organizer (thanks for the tip Steve) as well as some other third-party applications, but still haven't found what I want. Anyone have any suggestions?
Considering I have a habit of planning things that I don't follow through on, I'm going to cut it at just those 4 items. If I can complete those 4 I'll be a long way towards the collection that I envision. What are your card collecting New Year's resolutions?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ryder's on Fire

The Patriots overcame a barrage of injuries to finish the season strong, yet became the first team since the NFL expanded to the 12-team playoff format in 1990 to miss the playoffs despite an 11-5 record. The Celtics had their monumental win streak snapped by the Lakers on Christmas day. The Red Sox had Mark Teixeira snatched out from underneath them by the Evil Empire just last week. Yet all is not lost for New England sports fans.

The Bruins continued their red hot play over the holiday weekend, winning both of their back to back road games on Saturday and Sunday, and pushing the team's winning streak to 8 games, a feat they have not accomplished since the early 90s. David Krejci has points in all 8 of those wins, including an assist (his 26th of the season) on the game winning goal in last night's 2-1 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers.

But perhaps the most pleasant surprise lately has been the play of Michael Ryder. Ryder looked like he was going to be an elite goal scorer in his first 3 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens. He notched 25 goals in his rookie year and then scored 30 in back to back seasons for the Habs. Last year he had an off season though, scoring only 14 goals over 70 games. The Bruins were criticized in the media after signing him to a multi-year deal over the summer, but I don't hear any criticism now. Ryder scored the game winning goal in both contests over the weekend, and leads the NHL with 7 game-winners on the year. In 36 games he's already equaled the 14 goals that he tallied last year.

Hopefully Ryder and the rest of the team can stay hot and continue this win streak into the new year. Tomorrow night will be a tough contest when Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins come to town. It's a good time to be a Bruins fan...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

2008 Upper Deck Hockey Blaster

Saw this at Target and couldn't resist. I don't have a lot of time, so I'll just go with the quick and easy writeup. These blasters come with 12 packs, 5 cards a pack, for a total of 60 cards. Of course there are Target Exclusive Super Skills cards that just waste a spot that would've been occupied by a base card, but anyway... I had purchased a bunch of hobby packs of this stuff before buying this blaster, and had already accumulated 4 short-printed Young Guns rookies, and about 80 cards out of the 200 card base set. So, how did I do?

Well, this did not turn out to be a good blaster for me no matter how you look at it. I pulled a total of 47 base cards, but believe it or not I already had 20 of them. I got 3 of the Target Exclusive Super Skills insert cards, but they are not even worth scanning and posting. I also got a Winter Classic insert from last year's Pittsburgh/Buffalo game and the Hockey Heroes Crosby insert pictured to the left. I'm not really sure why they call the insert set Hockey Heroes instead of Hockey Hero, as Crosby appears to be the only player depicted on these cards.

I actually beat the odds and pulled 3 of the short-printed Young Guns rookie cards (which I believe are seeded 1:6 packs). There's just one problem, 2 of the 3 were the same card, Mattias Ritola. I hate doubles within a pack, and duplicate short-printed doubles within a blaster is just as annoying. On top of that Ritola was one of the 4 Young Guns cards that I already had. The other Young Gun I got was Ilya Zubov of the Ottawa Senators, and guess what, I already had that one as well. What are the odds of that?

Everything I've described so far only adds up to 55 cards. What about the other 5? One entire pack of cards was damaged so badly that I actually decided to use them as bookmarks. Each card in the pack had a huge roller mark across the bottom that was so deep the bottom portion of the cards were actually missing. This was very aggravating given that I needed 4 out of these 5 for my set, including what would've been my first Milan Lucic card. Oh well...

The Verdict: If you want to collect the 2008 Upper Deck hockey set, stay away from retail and stick to hobby if you can find it. Most hobby shops sell these in packs of 8 for $3.50. At that price you can get 6 hobby packs, 48 cards total, for the price of a blaster, but you don't have to deal with the crappy Target inserts and you probably have better odds at pulling some of the more desired auto or game-used cards. For $20 I essentially got 3 short prints that I already had (which I might be able to flip on Ebay), 27 base cards that I needed and a bunch of doubles and crappy inserts.

To end on a positive note though, I still love Upper Deck's outstanding photography. Here are my 5 favorite horizontal cards from the blaster:

I appreciate it when a card shows something unique, rather than the same generic poses that are featured on so many other cards. This shot of the Red Wings bench with their veteran captain in the foreground is great.

How did the photographer manage to get this shot?

I seem to have a hard time pulling Crosby's cards, so this was one good thing that came out of the box.

Awesome overhead shot of Mike Smith.

I like this Henrik Sedin card only because it's weird to see his twin brother Daniel seated right next to him on the bench.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Card of the Month - December 2008

2007 Upper Deck SPX - #205 - David Krejci - Boston Bruins

I consider myself a set collector, and don't usually go for high-end product or chase the big pull, so I didn't buy any 2007 Upper Deck SPX hockey at $120+ a box last year. But when I saw this card on Ebay a month or so ago, I had to go for it. I decided on my limit, placed my bid, and was shocked when I won the card for under $10. I can probably count on 2 hands the number of autographed cards I have in my collection, and I think this is the only dual-patch, autographed and numbered card that I own.

I watch every single Bruins game courtesy of NESN and David Krejci has quickly become one of my favorite hockey players. This guy is only 22 years old and in his second season in the league, and he's already one of the most exciting players I've watched. I had a feeling he was going to explode offensively this season, and I grabbed this card and a couple of others just in time. A lot of the national focus on the Bruins has centered around Phil Kessel, and deservedly so as he goes into tonight's contest against the New Jersey Devils with an 18-game point streak.

To me though, Krejci is just as exciting a player as Kessel. In his last three games he notched his first career hat trick in a Bruins win over Toronto, scored a key go-ahead goal in the second period in a Bruins win against the Carolina Hurricanes, and tallied 3 first-period assists in Sunday's win over the St. Louis Blues. The streak has bumped him up to 16th in the league in scoring, and I think people are starting to take notice. This very same card is up for auction on Ebay and is already going for a few bucks more than I paid for it with a couple of days left.

This has instantly become one of my favorite hockey cards, one that I will enjoy looking at for years to come. If you haven't had a chance to see this guy play, here's a clip of his first career hat-trick the other night against Toronto. The second goal especially is a thing of beauty...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dock Ellis

I heard on the local sports radio station last week that Dock Ellis had passed away, and I remembered instantly that I had just picked up a 1977 Topps card of his out of the commons bin at the local card shop. I am learning new things every week when it comes to baseball history, and I'm ashamed to admit that I had never heard of Dock Ellis before picking up this card.

Only today, when I read a post about him on Cardboard Gods did I realize how interesting this guy was. Josh already linked to this YouTube video, but I wanted to link to it here in case you didn't bother to check it out yet. Dock is describing a no-hitter he threw while under the influence of LSD...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sundin Signs with Canucks

Mats Sundin finally ended his hold-out and signed with the Vancouver Canucks this week. I was definitely glad to see him go to a Western Conference team, instead of the Rangers who are currently fighting with Boston for the top spot in the East.

I don't think there's any doubt he will help the Canucks, but even with Sundin I don't think they have what it takes to overtake the West's elite teams, the Red Wings and the Sharks. What do you think?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ridiculous Cards - Bill Butler

1970 Topps - #377 - Bill Butler

Tell me this isn't one of the worst photo touch-ups you've ever seen? Look at that hat!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Minor Changes

I've made a couple of small changes to the blog. To make trading easier, you'll find convenient links to my Have and Want lists to the right. Just above that, I've changed the way I'll be using the slideshow feature from now on. Turns out the "free" Flickr account only manages up to 200 photos, so I've made the jump over to Picasa Web Albums and am no longer limited by the 20-item RSS feed limit of Flickr. Since I can show more photos, I'll be scanning in and displaying entire sets for your viewing pleasure. First up is 2007 Upper Deck Series 1 hockey.

I'm a single card away from completing the 200 card base set, anybody out there have #56, Ian Laperriere?

1953 Topps Project - Post #33

#38 - Jim Hearn - New York Giants

Wow, I have not featured a 1953 Topps card since October 30th. I swear I still intend to complete this set, work has just been crazy and I've been on a hockey card kick as of late. Time to get things rolling again with card #38, Jim Hearn.

Jim signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1942, but ended up a World War II veteran before he finally took the mound for the first time in 1947. He was claimed off of waivers by the Giants in 1950, and had a decent season, posting a 2.49 ERA. He continued to pitch well in 1951, winning 17 games and helping to propel the Giants to the World Series. He won his only appearance in the World Series that year, even thought the Giants ultimately lost to the Yankees.

According to his Wikipedia entry, Jim was involved in a strange incident towards the end of his career, in 1959...

"On May 10, he pitched 1⅓ innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates and gave up two runs before the game was suspended. He was given his unconditional release 12 days later. The suspended game was resumed in July, and Pittsburgh held on to win. Thus Hearn was charged with a loss, weeks after his career had ended."

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hammerin' Hank

I've been featuring a lot of hockey cards lately, time for a quick and easy baseball card post. 1969 Topps is my second favorite set of the 60s, right behind 1960 Topps. I showed off my Clemente from this set a while back, and I figured I'd break up the hockey card monotony with this beauty.

Hammerin' Hank is still the all-time home run leader in my book. Barry Bonds is a cheating, lying scumbag as far as I'm concerned. Some people disagree I'm sure, and I've heard all the arguments, but this is my blog so too bad. I've spent a considerable amount of time learning about the controversy and have read Game of Shadows cover to cover. I know that Bonds was only one of many cheaters in the "steroid era", but he is just a pompous ass that irritates the hell out of me. He's left a black cloud over the game of baseball and has done more to damage the game than any modern player, save maybe Sosa and McGwire. At least McGwire knew enough to just shut up and disappear.

I'm glad that there is a ball sitting in Cooperstown with a big asterisk branded on it, and I wish we could somehow go back and strip him of his records, although I fully realize this is not practical or even possible. I hope that a bust of Barry doesn't someday end up in the same hallowed halls where the asterisk-branded ball currently sits, although this is a real possibility.

I don't get a Hall of Fame vote, so the best I can do is to pay tribute to the true home run king. I don't collect Bonds but I sure hope to acquire a few more Aaron cards like this one...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Some More 2008 Upper Deck Hockey

I picked up two hobby packs of 2008 Upper Deck hockey a couple of weeks ago, and ripped one on A Pack a Day. The cards have really grown on me, so here are two more hobby packs:

Pack 1

#145 - Michael Peca - Columbus Blue Jackets - What are the odds, I already pulled this card in one of my first two packs...

#16 - Vesa Toskala - Toronto Maple Leafs - About to make an outstretched glove save. I think Upper Deck's great photography stands out even more on the goalie cards.

#119 - Andrew Cogliano - Edmonton Oilers - Crap, already pulled this one too...

#142 - Jared Boll - Columbus Blue Jackets - Alright, this is not funny.

#92 - Francis Bouillon - Montreal Canadiens - OK, don't have this one yet!

#157 - Adam Burish - Chicago Blackhawks - This is ridiculous, damn you collation!

#51 - Zbynek Michalek - Phoenix Coyotes

#HT9 - Henrik Zetterberg - Detroit Red Wings - Hat Trick Heroes - Perfect way to finish off a terrible pack. I already pulled this card as well. So, let's get the final tally here...I opened two packs of this stuff previously, for a grand total of 16 cards. In this 3rd pack I already had 5 of the 8 cards. Chalk it up to bad luck I guess, the doubles have already been added to my Available for Trade list if anyone's interested. I think the Zetterberg insert is already spoken for by someone who was at the game depicted on the card!

Pack 2

#22 - Paul Ranger - Tampa Bay Lightning

#160 - Duncan Keith - Chicago Blackhawks

#181 - Tim Thomas - Boston Bruins - Sweet, just four packs opened and I've already pulled both members of Boston's outstanding goaltending tandum.

#76 - Rick DiPietro - New York Islanders - See what I mean about the goalie cards?

#192 - Erik Christensen - Atlanta Thrashers - No idea who this guy is...

#64 - Mike Fisher - Ottawa Senators

#29 - Paul Kariya - St. Louis Blues

#153 - Jordan Leopold - Colorado Avalanche - Much better pack, I needed all 8 of these. Once again Upper Deck does not disappoint, I will definitely be picking up some more of this.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Peter Sidorkiewicz

I didn't get a chance to post much this weekend, so rather than go without posting anything I figured it would be a good chance to show off one of my recent Ebay purchases. Why the hell would I want to show off a Peter Sidorkiewicz autographed card? Well, he was one of my favorite Whalers players during his stint in Hartford, although I think I liked him more for his ridiculous last name than for his goaltending ability.

I was psyched when I won this card for a mere $.99. How do I know it's not a fake? Well, I have another hand-signed Sidorkiewicz card where the signature looks identical, and I'm pretty sure there's not enough of a demand for his cards to warrant any forgery attempts...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Card of the Month - November 2008

2008 O-Pee-Chee - #591 - Jari Kurri (Retro Variation)

I've been on a huge hockey kick lately. My high-definition DVR is being put to good use, and between NESN (which televises every Bruins game unless they are blacked out by national coverage), VS and the NHL Network I'm able to catch a solid 5-8 games a week. I've got more hockey than I can keep up with without wasting a bunch of money on an expensive cable package.

To continue with the hockey kick, this month's card of the month is the retro variation of Jari Kurri's 2008 O-Pee-Chee hockey card. I already raved about this set when I ripped a rack pack for A Pack a Day a while back, but I just can't get enough of it. After opening that rack pack I learned that the regular packs (both hobby and retail) contained variation cards of the entire 600 card set based on the 1979 O-Pee-Chee design (Wayne Gretzky's rookie year). I've always thought this was one of the best Topps/O-Pee-Chee designs, in fact, one of my favorite hockey cards of all time comes from this set.

I've since picked up a second rack pack, 4 hobby packs and a blaster from Target. I love the regular set, but these retro variation cards are even cooler. I'd love to complete a retro set, but it would be quite an undertaking. For now, I'll just enjoy the retro cards I have pulled, like this Jari Kurri.

I think Jari, a Hall-of-Famer and current manager for team Finland, is one of the most underrated players from the 1980s/90s era NHL. His 1,398 points are good for 18th all time, his 601 goals good for 14th place on the all time list. Keep in mind that he missed an entire season right in his prime, deciding to play overseas. Some people may argue that his point totals are inflated because he had the benefit of being Gretzky's linemate in both Edmonton and Los Angeles for the better part of his career. Fair enough, but what about his 1989-90 campaign, when he registered 93 points in 78 games and led the Oilers to a Stanley Cup Championship sans Gretzky?

What do you think, is Kurri one of the top players from his era or did he simply benefit from playing with the greatest hockey player of all time?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Bruins are Relevant Again!

2008 Fleer Ultra - #14 - Michael Ryder

The 2008-2009 NHL season is in full swing, and the Boston Bruins are looking better than they have in quite some time. The B's are 9-0-1 in their last 10 games, and currently have as many points as the perennial powerhouse Detroit Red Wings.

I chose to display this Michael Ryder card for a couple of reasons. In case you couldn't tell from the image, Ryder just came to the Bruins this season from Montreal. He and his teammates just beat the Canadiens on Saturday night (the night that Patrick Roy's jersey was retired at the Bell Centre) to put themselves in the top spot in the Eastern Conference!

Also to be noted is the terrible design of 2008-09 Fleer Ultra hockey. This set doesn't hold a candle to 2008-09 O-Pee-Chee, which is the hockey set of the year so far in this humble blogger's opinion.

After the recent success of the Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics, it's nice to finally see a buzz about hockey in New England. If you live in the area and want to be entertained for a couple of hours do yourself a favor and tune into a game or two on NESN. Hopefully the Bruins can maintain this momentum and make Boston a hockey town once again!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cardboard History - Bram Stoker

2008 Allen & Ginter - #166 - Bram Stoker

I never bothered to learn much about Bram Stoker, although I have read parts of "Dracula" and really enjoyed Francis Ford Coppola's film from the early 90s. Here are a few things I wasn't aware of:

  • Stoker was bed-ridden until the age of 7
  • He was born and raised in Ireland
  • After moving to England, he became associated with higher society and was an acquaintance of both Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde.
  • Bram's widow was none too happy about the fact that she had not been asked permission before the movie "Nosferatu" was produced in 1922, nor paid any royalties. She filed suit against the filmmakers and eventually won.

Anyone out there read the book, and if so how true was Coppola's movie to the original plot?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Case for Update Sets

Dayf recently featured a great example of why update sets are a good thing, and I couldn't agree more. First and foremost, they act as the modern day "Traded" set, providing an opportunity to pull cards of players who were dealt mid-season, such as the Griffey card pictured above. I've only opened a few packs so far, and am still anxiously looking for the Manny Ramirez - Los Angeles Dodgers card.

Aside from that, I like how they provide a snapshot of some of the events that occurred over the previous baseball season. This Josh Hamilton card is a perfect example:

Tell me that isn't a great card! Upper Deck was my favorite 2008 base set, and I was very disappointed to hear that they are not releasing an update set this year. I hope they strongly reconsider in 2009. Topps, please don't follow suit and do away with your Updates & Highlights set next year!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Anyone Want to Trade for a Cole Hamels Jersey Card?

Alright, this is something I've never tried before but we'll see how it works out. I've got this 2007 Topps Turkey Red Authentic Game-Used Jersey card of 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels, which I pulled from a pack last year. If anyone's interested, here's what I'm envisioning...

The first person who posts a comment and sends either of the following to me can have the card:

-4 EX-MT or better Topps or Bowman cards from the 1950s

-10 EX-MT or better Topps cards from the 1960s

If you'd like to send more 50s or 60s cards maybe we can work out an even larger trade. Anyone interested?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Congratulations Dustin Pedroia

Congratulations to Dustin Pedroia for winning his first Rawlings Gold Glove Award today. Dustin is one of my favorite players to watch, and, in the opinion of this biased Red Sox fan, is well-deserving of the Gold Glove. Not a bad track record so far, two years in the league and he's already racked up Rookie of the Year and Gold Glove honors.

Friday, October 31, 2008


What's better on Halloween than a few creepy, old-school goalie masks?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

1953 Topps Project - Post #32

#59 - Karl Drews - Philadelphia Phillies

In honor of the 2008 World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies, today's 1953 Topps Project post features Karl Drews of the Fightin' Phillies. When Karl suited up for the Phils in 1953, he probably had no idea that it would be 27 years before his team would bring home a World Series championship (and another 28 years before they'd repeat).

Karl's 8 seasons in the big leagues were largely unspectacular. By 1953 his career was clearly on the downward slope, as he gave up a staggering 218 hits in 185 1/3 innings pitched.

Sadly, only ten years after this card was produced, Karl was killed in a tragic accident. He was hit by a drunk driver that he was trying to flag down after his own car had stalled near a construction site. His seventeen year old daughter witnessed the incident. The obituary, from the August 16th, 1963 issue of the New York Times, can be found here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Random Will Clark Card #2

1991 Fleer ProVisions - #2 of 12

I found this subset in a binder of cards that I recently discovered. I guess Will is supposed to be standing on a fiery hot planet somewhere else in the galaxy crushing the hell out of a ball.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Random Will Clark Card #1

1993 Flair - #140

There were two players I really focused on collecting as a kid, Will Clark and Nolan Ryan. Ironically, as most people are aware, Will Clark actually hit a home run off of Nolan Ryan in his first ever plate appearance in the majors. Anyway, in an attempt to bring my blog to new heights of boring, I've decided to show off some of my fine Will Clark cards. Sure, most of these cards are worth absolutely nothing, but they hold a lot of sentimental value to me.

First up is this 1993 Flair card. This is the first year for the Flair product line, and I remember card collectors went nuts over these super premium cards when they were first released. They were pretty expensive at the time, I think I was only fortunate enough to rip open one or two of the little black and gold boxes that contained the packs. There's not a lot of interest in them anymore though, and I recently picked up an un-opened wax box of this stuff for $25, which is where this card comes from. I think these cards look great, even by today's standards. They're super-thick, have simple design and high-quality photos, and best of all are borderless. I plan on doing a box review if I can ever find the time...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Card of the Month - October 2008

1952 Bowman - #169 - Walt Dropo

I love the fall, but it's a bit upsetting to see the baseball season come to an end every year, and it was especially tough to see the Red Sox go down the way they did this year, losing game 7 of the ALCS to the Tampa Bay Rays. I suppose I can't complain too much, considering I've been lucky enough to see the team I've rooted for since I was a kid win not one, but two championships this decade. Nonetheless, the end of the baseball season means the leaves will soon be falling off the trees, and I'll be subjected to another cold, dark, New England winter. At least I have cards and the Boston Bruins to get me through these tough times...
October's card of the month is another from the 1952 Bowman set. This set has always been a favorite of mine, as I explained when I used my graded Bob Feller as the card of the month back in July. So, when I saw this Walt Dropo card recently for $7, I had to pick it up. It's in pretty decent condition; it's slightly frayed edges and the small crease on the right above Walt's shoulder just give it character in my opinion.
It's funny, coming across a few graded cards on Ebay was what got me back into the hobby almost two years ago. I had never heard of the concept of grading in my first go around, and I loved the idea of picking up a little piece of cardboard history that was examined thoroughly by a grader at PSA, proven to be authentic, and then enshrined into a slab of plastic for all eternity.
As time goes on, you mature as a collector though. I've realized that graded cards can be great, and I still pick them up every once in a while, especially the 1953 Topps cards that I need for my graded set. However, I quickly realized that more often than not, graded cards are just a waste of money. Collecting the cards is what I care about, and while condition certainly holds importance, there's something I love about being able to hold a 50-plus-year-old card right in my hand, creases, dinged corners and all, without any plastic in the way. Graded cards are expensive too...I'd take 10 1952 Bowmans with wrinkles or creases over a single graded 1952 Bowman any day. So, while I'll still go for graded cards in certain areas of my collection, I've really become attracted to cards that show signs of wear from the passing of time.
Do you have any graded cards in your collection?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

1953 Topps Project - Post #31

#128 - Wilmer Mizell - St. Louis Cardinals

As dayf already noted in this A Pack A Day post, Wilmer Mizell had one of the best baseball nicknames of all time, "Vinegar Bend". The story behind the nickname isn't nearly as interesting as the nickname itself, it derives from the fact that he played baseball in Vinegar Bend, Alabama at one point in his career. Pretty exciting, I know...

Vinegar Bend was a fairly decent pitcher during his tenure in the majors, finishing with a respectable 90-88 record and with a 3.85 career ERA. He pitched an astounding 61 complete games, including 15 shutouts. In this day and age of coddling pitchers in the name of preserving arms, it's doubtful that any pitcher will ever even come close to 61 career complete games again.

As dayf also touched on, Wilmer went on to become a United States Congressman, serving for three terms. The Watergate scandal basically cost him his seat in Congress, but he would later serve as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development in the Ford administration, Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Governmental and Public Affairs in the Reagan administration, and as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs in the George H.W. Bush administration. Not a bad resume...

Vinegar Bend passed away in February of 1999 at the age of 68.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Game 5

There's still hope. Last night's game was without a doubt one of the best I've ever watched. A comeback like that could really turn the series around. If Josh Beckett can pitch a half-way decent game tomorrow night this could be a whole new series. I thought the debacle that was game 2 was going to decide the series, but after last night the Sox have all the momentum.
Best of all, the bats actually woke up. I hope the confidence of the Sox hitters travels with them down to Florida...
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