Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Early 90's Hockey Hair

Maybe I'm biased, I played ice hockey year round for over 12 years growing up. It's a shame to me that the sport continues to struggle. It's fast paced action with a good mix of brute force and extreme skill. In what other sport do the referees back away and let a couple of guys go at it for a minute or two before breaking up the fight? It's funny, I never see much hockey coverage on SportsCenter, but on any given day if you watch the top 10 plays at the end of the show you're bound to see a couple of ridiculous goals or miraculous saves. But I digress...

The point of this post is to display some fine cards from a recently purchased wax box of 1991-92 OPC Premier hockey. Hockey card collectors know that OPC Premier's first hockey offering the year before caused quite a stir in the hobby. So what did O-Pee-Chee decide to do? Grossly overproduce next years set. I purchased my 36 pack wax box on Ebay for about $5. At 8 cards per pack and only 200 or so cards in the set you are almost guaranteed a full set from the box. The thing I learned about this set is that the backs of the cards are the highlight. Check out these gems:

Yeah, Ron's looking at you... Any time I pulled a Ron Hextall card growing up I would instantly say "Hey, I got that goalie who scored a goal!". I had no idea he had a softer side. Slicked back hair? Check. Suggestive stare? Check. Moustache that lies beyond the peach fuzz realm but has not quite reached full growth? Check. It's pretty clear that Ron must've been popular with the ladies back in the early 90's.

Here Luke Richardson is displaying what I consider to be your classic mullet. All the necessary trademarks are there. You could make the case that the flowing wisps coming out just above the ears prove that this is simply a man who hasn't had a haircut for a while. A close examination though of the difference in length between the hair on the top of Luke's head and the flowing locks extending out over his jersey will put to rest any doubt.

Cujo is sporting a variation on the classic mullet on this card. It's so defined that you can almost see his comb-strokes projecting backwards on the side of his head. For variation, he's added what almost looks like bangs in the front. Pathetic...

Tim's variation on the mullet is as curly as Cujo's is straight. This thing looks like you could bounce a quarter off of it. Extra points here for the mullet-fro/mustache combo.

Unfortunately, the stars of the game were not above these ridiculous haircuts. Check out this dynamic duo from the Penguins. Is there not a barbershop anywhere in Pittsburgh?

And now for what I consider the two highlights of what I've opened so far:

Dave Manson must not have a true friend in the world. Any real friend would never let him walk out his front door (much less to a hockey arena packed with thousands of people) with this God-awful disaster on top of his head.

Dean is the cream of the crop in my opinion. When I was flipping through the cards to decide what to scan I very nearly passed him by. A quick glance behind his ear would lead you to believe the hair stopped there. Only when you see the gigantic bush appearing behind his neck to you realize the true ridiculousness of this cut. This is not business in the front, party in the back. This is fortune 500 CEO in the front, and frat house kegger in the back!

Next time you're about to blow $60 on a hobby box of the latest product just remember how much fun you can have with $10 and an Ebay account.

Monday, February 18, 2008

1953 Topps Project - Post #6

#9 - Joe Collins - New York Yankees

After the Warren Spahn card, it's time to come back down to reality here with another common...

Joe Collins was a New York Yankee for each and every game that he suited up for during his career in the majors. Playing for the Yankees during a period of absolute dominance, you could say that Joe ended up in the right place at the right time. He was fortunate enough to appear in 7 different World Series during his 10 year career, not too shabby at all.

Joe's career statistics are nothing to write home about. He did have a 4 year stretch between 1952 and 1955 when he hit at least 12 home runs and knocked in at least 44 RBI. He certainly carried his weight in the spotlight of the fall classic though, clubbing 4 career World Series home runs. The first one ended up being the winning run in game 2 of the '51 contest, evening the series at 1 game a piece with the New York Giants. The next broke a 5-5 tie in the bottom of the 7th innning in game 1 of the '53 World Series, putting the Yankees up for good. Joe also contributed 2 HRs and 3 RBI to the Yankees 6-5 game 1 win in the '55 World Series.

Joe nearly became famous for blowing game 7 of the 1952 World Series, when he lost a bases-loaded pop-up from Jackie Robinson in the sun in the bottom of the 7th. Had Billy Martin not made a miracle catch just inches from the ground, it is likely that Brooklyn may have won the game and the series.

Perhaps Joe was spoiled by all of this post-season success, as he decided to retire from baseball rather than honor a trade that would've sent him to Philadelphia for the 1958 season...

Monday, February 11, 2008

1953 Topps Project - Post #5

#147 - Warren Spahn - Boston Braves

Five posts into the project, here's the first hall-of-famer!

Collecting cards as a kid, Warren Spahn was a legend to me. A hall-of-famer whose name I'd heard brought up in conversation about the greatest pitchers in baseball countless times. I never knew much about Warren then, other than the fact that he was an outstanding left-handed pitcher who retired sometime around the mid-1960s, and that I had little hope whatsoever of aquiring his cards.

Until recently I had no idea just how good he was. Spahn won a total of 363 games, the most wins for any pitcher who played his entire career in the post-1920 era. He won 20 or more games in 13 seasons and compiled a 23 win season at age 42! I'll be happy if Curt Schilling and his cortisone-injected shoulder come up with 3 wins this upcoming season (after reading that, I'll never look at strands of spaghetti the same again).

Most amazingly, Spahn was able to amass these numbers despite spending three years of his early career serving in the military. Without looking it up, I'm willing to bet Warren is the only 300 game winner to also earn a Purple Heart on the battlefield. He ended his career with a 3.09 ERA, 2 no-hitters, and more All-Star appearances than any other pitcher in the modern era. Major League Baseball now presents the Warren Spahn award yearly to the best left-handed pitcher. The case can easily be made that Warren is one of the best pitchers of all time, almost certainly the best southpaw...

Thursday, February 7, 2008

2008 Topps Jumbo Pack Inserts

Campaign 2008 Insert Set - #C08-MR - Mitt Romney
50th Anniversary Rookie - #AR55 - Magglio Ordonez
Trading Card History - #TCH16 - 1992 Bowman Cameron Maybin
Year in Review - #YR38 - Jack Wilson

Some very cool insert sets in this year's Topps product! I'm sure this doesn't cover everything (for one thing I got an "Own the Game" insert with entirely too much foil on it for my liking, and also 2 different Mickey Mantle cards which is becoming the norm for Topps) but so far I like what I've seen. The Trading Card History subset is a very cool idea. I'll be adding a lot of these cards to my Available for Trade list in the next couple of days, so keep your eye out if you're interested in anything and want to make a deal.

2008 Topps is Here!

I got out of work a bit early today and decided to swing by the local card shop on my way home to pick up some supplies. I've been craving something new to open, and given that I'd heard 2008 Topps was delayed until tomorrow I was prepared to settle for a pack of '08 Upper Deck. I was shocked when I looked behind the counter and saw '08 Topps!

I picked up a jumbo pack (which I think I overpaid for at $11.50) as well as a regular hobby pack. Here's what I got in the hobby pack:

#153 - Luis Mendoza (Rookie) #140 - Brandon Webb
#326 - N.L. Batting Average Leaders
#259 - Emilio Bonifacio (Rookie)
#166 - Andy Sonnanstine

#124 - Bob Geren (Manager)
#215 - Bobby Jenks (Gold #0076/2008)
#263 - Nook Logan
#111 - Ubaldo Jimenez
#95 - John Lackey

OK, so not the world's most exciting pack. However, my first impression is that this is a great set, and one I intend to collect. Good crisp photos (although all of the pitcher cards in this pack seem to show a very similar wind-up action shot) and great colors. I really like the back of the cards, too. If I get anything great in the jumbo pack I'll post that here as well.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Recent Pack Highlights

Although I'm focusing my collection on vintage cards, to me a major part of collecting will always be the suspense of ripping open a pack of cards to see what awaits inside the wrapper. Will it be a one-of-one auto jersey card dripped in authentic player sweat, or a few terrible cards?

In the 6 months or so since I've gotten back into collecting, I've pulled plenty of great cards, but there are three that really stand above the rest.

1982 Topps #21 - Cal Ripken Jr. Rookie
A while back I picked up 3 or 4 1982 Topps Cello packs from Dave and Adam's Card World. Even though I already had the Ripken rookie (one of the few cards I still have from my childhood stint at collecting, the rest are buried somewhere in my parents basement), I was elated when the first Cello pack I opened had this card. Not only that, but only about 50 percent of the cards that came out of these Cello packs were actually mint. The rest had some defect as a result of being over 25 years old, whether it be rough corners or a nasty gum stain. The Ripken was right in the middle of the pack and made it's way into a case immediately in mint condition!

Since I already have one of these, this card is going to make its way over to Kevin at Orioles Card of the Day.

2007 Topps Updates & Highlights #UH100 - Jacoby Ellsbury Rookie
I've always followed the local teams, and as a result I've been a Red Sox fan since my first game at Fenway park as a 7-year-old. As everyone knows, it's been a good time to be a Red Sox fan over the past few years. Anyone who followed the team closely towards the end of the season and on their run through the playoffs knows that Jacoby provided a huge spark for the team when called up from the minors and played a large part in the team's second championship in 4 years. Plus, the women around Fenway park wearing pink Sox hats love him.

Much has been made about this "gimmick" card. I read one post online claiming one collector ripped 20 cases (cases, not boxes!) of 2007 Updates & Highlights and pulled only a single Ellsbury card. One of the only local card shops in my area sold hobby packs of this stuff for $1.50, so I'd end up picking up a couple anytime I was craving some packs to open. I was shocked when I pulled the Ellsbury card from one, and I haven't purchased another pack of the stuff since. Say what you want about Topps using this as a cheap ploy to sell cards. I would probably agree with you had I not pulled one myself. All I know is, when I thumbed through the pack and saw this card I got the same excited feeling I did when ripping packs of 1990 Topps as a kid.

2007 Topps Heritage #ROA-JD - Joe Durham Real One Autograph

I've never heard of Joe Durham before, but this card is probably my favorite out of everything I've pulled since I got back into the hobby. When I stopped collecting cards in the mid to early 90's there really weren't any autos or game used jerseys or anything like that. I got out of the hobby when the cards were being grossly overproduced and insert sets were just starting to gain popularity.

To pull an auto card was really exciting for me, especially since it's from Topps Heritage, which is probably my favorite line post-1990 cards.

Monday, February 4, 2008

1953 Topps Project - Post #4

#28 - Eddie Pellagrini - Cincinnati Reds

I consider myself somewhat knowledgeable when it comes to baseball history, I grew up in New England, I've lived and worked in the Boston area for about the last 5 years, yet I'm ashamed to say I'd never heard of Eddie Pellagrini before purchasing this card. Eddie was a New Englander himself, born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1918 (a year that is very familiar to Boston sports fans).

After being acquired by the home town Red Sox in 1941, Eddie went on to serve in World War II over the next 4 years. His career in the majors was nothing spectacular, although he did club a home run in his first career at-bat with the Red Sox when he returned in 1946. Eddie's biggest impact on the game actually came after he hung up his cleats for the last time.

In 1958 he was hired as the coach for Boston College's baseball team. He went on to coach the BC Eagles to 3 College World Series appearances, in 1960, 1961 and 1967. Boston College has never returned to the College World Series since. Eddie had an incredibly long run as BC's head coach, eventually calling it quits in 1988!

In a ceremony in 1997, the year after Pellagrini's death, Boston College formally rededicated it's field as the Eddie Pellagrini Diamond at Shea Field.

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