Monday, December 27, 2010

Completed Set - 1990 Topps - Cards 400-499

I bet you thought I had forgotten about these, didn't you? Well, I kind of did for a while there. But a recent monster trade with reader Daniel has forced me to finish sorting and scanning the rest of my 1990 Topps baseball set. Since the set is so large I've broken them out into groups of 100 cards. In case you missed the earlier posts, which started all the way back in March, you can click these links to catch up on cards 1-99, 100-199, 200-299 and 300-399.

My apologies to those who despise this set, but I can't help when I was born and this is what was on the shelves when I was collecting as a kid. Here are my favorite cards from 400-499:

#400 - Ozzie Smith - All-Star - The first few cards in the 400's finish off the NL All-Star subset.

#403 - Tony Gwynn - NL All-Star - In 1990, Gwynn had his worst season as far as batting average goes (not counting 1982 when he had less than 200 plate appearances). That being said, he hit .309. Pretty good when that's a low point for you over a 20-year career.

#414 - Frank Thomas - #1 Draft Pick - Probably the single most-wanted card from the set. Most of the #1 Draft Picks that got cards in this set were a bust but at least they got Thomas right. To this day I've never seen the famous "no-name" error variation of this card in person.

#420 - Carlton Fisk - Carlton's starting to show some signs of age here (and he's playing for the wrong Sox!).

#431 - Randy Johnson - Randy's true rookie card came in the 1989 Topps Traded set, but this is his first card in a base Topps release. He hadn't exactly harnessed his power yet in 1990, walking 120 batters in 33 starts! 1991 was even worse, as he walked 152!

#440 - Alan Trammell - Trammell won a Silver Slugger award in 1990, racking up 170 hits, 14 HR and 89 RBI. Will he make the Hall-of-Fame this year? Probably not...

#444 - Kyle Abbott - #1 Draft Pick - Taken 9th overall by California in the 1989 Amateur Draft, I think it's pretty safe to say Kyle was a bust. After 5 appearances in 1991, he appeared in 31 games in the 1992 season (19 starts) and went 1-14 with an ERA over 5 and 20 homers surrendered. He didn't see Major League action in '93 or '94 and was out of baseball completely by 1996.

#450 - Rickey Henderson - Rickey was your 1990 AL MVP, batting .325 with a .439 on-base percentage, 65 steals and 119 runs scored. Unfortunately for A's fans that mattered little when the Cincinnati Reds swept them in the World Series!

#457 - Gregg Jefferies - All-Star Rookie - Gregg was a serviceable player for most of his career, but I don't think he really peaked as high as many people thought he would in the late 80's.

#469 - John Kruk - I watched the 1993 episode of Baseball Seasons on the MLB Network the other day, which included Kruk's humorous at bat against Randy Johnson in the All-Star game that season. Good stuff.

#485 - John Candelaria - I have to confess that until writing this post I had no idea that Candelaria had a 20-win season in the late 70's.

#493 - Jason Grimsley - Grimsley's name will forever be associated with the steroid era and the Mitchell Report.

#495 - Lee Smith - The Red Sox had two dominant closers on the roster entering the 1990 season, Smith and Jeff Reardon. That situation didn't last long, with Smith being shipped off by early May.

Well, that wraps up cards 400-499. 500-599 should be up later this week.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Still Around

I'm still here, it's just that December was insanely busy with work and the holiday season. I decided to take a break from the blog for a few weeks and it felt pretty good I have to say. I'll start posting with some regularity again soon enough, including a monster trade with reader Daniel and a post on a cool 1970's hockey set.

In the meantime, regardless of whether you lit a Menorah, opened presents under a Christmas tree, aired your grievances and participated in feats of strength, or celebrated a different tradition, I hope all of you enjoyed the holidays and spent some time with family and friends.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I Thought I Was Organized...

Two of my collecting goals for this year were to get my collection scaled down in size, and to better organize what I decided to keep. I don't know how much I've scaled down, but I would guess that I at least unloaded close to as many cards as I accumulated over the past year, if not slightly more. I gave away thousands and thousands of cards I wasn't interested in keeping over this summer and cleared up quite a bit of space. I'd say this one was a win.

As for my other goal, the cards I've decided to keep for now have slowly been organized. They've been scanned in and added to my collection on Zistle. Cards I don't want go immediately into my two monster trade boxes (one for hockey, one for baseball), and the rest are neatly sorted into monster boxes in my card closet by sport, year and brand. It's a great system, I can instantly search my entire collection (with images) by keyword thanks to Zistle, and my card closet is well organized enough that I can put my hands on a card I'm searching for within seconds. I have about 2/3 of my collection archived like this so far, including all the cards made before 1980, or so I thought. Today, when I was looking through a Rubbermaid box in the basement for some 1994 Topps cards to include in a trade package, I came across these:

and these...

and, uh, these too...

Yeah, that would be 27 1960 Topps cards in pretty good shape. As soon as I saw them I remembered that I had won them in a lot on eBay. I had no idea how long ago that was and completely forgot that I even owned them. Some research showed that I won them back in April of 2009! A year and a half later they are now where they belong with the rest of my growing 1960 Topps set. I was a pretty nice discovery but clearly shows I'm not there yet with organization. Maybe next year.

What's the best card you've ever stumbled across that you forgot you had?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Top 60 Cards - Hockey Style! - Part 3

Time for the third and final installment of my top 60 hockey cards.

#41 - 1964-65 Topps #70 - Milt Schmidt - The 1964-65 Topps "tall boy" cards are really impressive in person and Milt is the best one I've got. This card was bumped up the list recently when I had a chance to attend Milt Schmidt night at the Garden a month or so ago:

It was pretty cool to see a Hall-of-Famer who began his career in 1936-37 yet was still able to walk out to center ice for the ceremony with no assistance and even help raise the banner with his jersey number on it. It turns out Milt and his family were in the suite next to ours so I sat about 10 feet from him during the Leafs game. At one point I congratulated him and shook his hand, 92-year-old man with an iron grip! The Bruins had a nice win against Toronto as well, I don't know if it was more fun watching Tyler Seguin score his second career goal, or listening to a crowd of thousands taunting Phil Kessel...

#42 - 1988-89 Topps #120 - Wayne Gretzky - I had to include this one. This card symbolizes probably the most significant trade in the history of the NHL.

#43 - 1972-73 Topps #1 - Boston Bruins Stanley Cup Champs - Another reminder of a time when the Bruins were actually winning championships. One of my favorite cards from the 1972-73 set, which I have roughly a third of now.

#44 - 2001-02 Topps Archives #10 - John Bucyk Autograph - The third and final autograph card in my countdown is The Chief, Johnny Bucyk. Someday I'll add a real 1957-58 Topps Bucyk to my collection, but in the meantime this is a pretty nice substitute.

#45 - 2008-09 Upper Deck #12 - Henrik Sedin - These guys continue to produce year in and year out for the Canucks. They've each got 27 points so far this season. Another example of a great Upper Deck hockey card. Speaking of which...

#46 - 1990-91 Upper Deck #525 - Sergei Fedorov Young Guns Rookie - It was almost impossible to be a young hockey fan in the 1990's and not like the Detroit Red Wings. I was a Whalers guy but the Red Wings were always right up there, and I found myself rooting for them during the playoffs since Hartford was rarely there. Fedorov was my favorite player on the Wings, and I still accumulate his cards to this day (GCA I'm sorry it's taking me so long to respond, I'm not sure I have anything you don't already...). For the longest time this was the card I wanted more than any other from the 1990-91 Upper Deck set.

#47 - 1989-90 Topps #186 - Brett Hull - I laughed at this card the first time I saw it, and it's always remained one of my favorite cards from one of my first ever sets. I have his rookie card from the year prior but in my mind this one's much better.

#48 - 1983-84 O-Pee-Chee #268 - Pelle Lindbergh Rookie - A very sad story. On top of the world coming off of a 40-win, Vezina Trophy, and First Team All-Star season in 1984-85, the 26 year old Flyers netminder was killed when his Porsche slammed into a wall in New Jersey.

#49 - 1992-93 Topps Stadium Club #225 - Rob Zettler - No explanation needed.

#50 - 1986-87 O-Pee-Chee #8 - Lanny McDonald - There are still many Lanny McDonald cards I don't have, but of the ones I do this one is tops.

#51 - 1985-86 Topps #140 - Ron Francis - I thought about selecting Francis' 82-83 O-Pee-Chee rookie, but that was only a recent pick-up, this card has been in my collection for far longer.

#52 - 1990-91 O-Pee-Chee Premier #50 - Jaromir Jagr Rookie - Yes, I chose a second card from the 1990-91 O-Pee-Chee Premier set. This Jagr rookie was just as coveted as the Roenick card that led off this series of posts. Fedorov's rookie from this set is right up there too, but since I already featured his Upper Deck rookie I settled with Jagr.

#53 - 1979-80 Topps #18 - Wayne Gretzky Rookie - One of the most iconic hockey cards ever produced, the rookie card of the man who holds practically every NHL scoring record. This would be my most expensive hockey card by a long shot. It's proudly displayed on the desk in my office.

#54 - 1991-92 Score Canadian Bilingual #314 - Patrick Roy The Franchise - Alright, I know what you must be thinking...we go from one of the most recognizable hockey cards ever to a junk wax era Score card?!?! Well as much as I hate the Canadiens, Patrick Roy is the man, and I've always loved the look of the original Score Franchise subset. Panini absolutely butchered The Franchise in its recent Score release, they are some of the ugliest inserts I've seen.

#55 - 1990-91 Score #440 - Eric Lindros Future Superstar - As a 9-year-old I thought this card would be worth hundreds one day. I still remember having my original copy in a screw-down case. I think a new screw-down or snap case would probably cost you more than the card would nowadays.

#56 - 1979-80 Topps #175 - Gordie Howe - One of the greatest players of all time on my favorite team of all time, on one of the greatest set designs of all time. Much like the Gretzky auto from the last post, this would be one of the 3-5 cards I'd keep if I had to sell off my entire collection.

#57 - 1977-78 O-Pee-Chee Glossy #21 - Rogatien Vachon - I'm not sure which element I like more on this card, the photo or the facsimile autograph.

#58 - 1979-80 Topps #261 - NHL Entries - My final selection from the 1979-80 set is this NHL entries card, depicting the 4 squads that joined the NHL for the 79-80 season when the WHA folded. As you can see, most of these teams didn't fare too well, as the Oilers are the only one of them that still exists with the same name and in the same location. Maybe this explains why I enjoy Nordiques and Jets cards so much, given that their franchises suffered the same fate as my beloved Whalers. (Cough cough...move the Florida Panthers to Quebec...cough cough).

#59 - 1973-74 Topps #146 - Cesare Maniago - My current favorite card from the 73-74 Topps set (although admittedly I don't have many), and one of my favorite cards from the 70's period. What a great action shot, with Maniago looming over the downed Rangers player in the crease.

#60 - 2008-09 Upper Deck Masterpieces #34 - Bobby Orr - We finish it off with the greatest defenseman of all-time scoring probably the most recognizable goal in the history of the game. I had a great time collecting this set and was quite disappointed that Upper Deck canned it after just one release.

Well there you have it, my top 60 hockey cards. If I compiled this list again in 6 months I bet 30 of them would be completely different. A couple of observations that I made after compiling the list...Sidney Crosby is not present and neither is Alex Ovechkin. A few autographed cards made their way onto the list, but not one single jersey/patch/relic card. I generally detest them and don't think they bring much value to the hobby at all. This exercise also proved what I already knew to be the case, that I enjoy vintage cards or cards depicting vintage players much more than I do modern cards. In fact, out of the 60 cards I chose, only 4 feature players who are still active in the NHL.

This was fun putting together. I would love to see some similar lists from other bloggers. Canuck? Sal?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Top 60 Cards - Hockey Style! - Part 2

Alright, the first 20 cards are behind us, time for cards 21-40. In this installment we've got Hall-of-Famers, nerdy eyeglasses, hockey's greatest trophy, stunned fans, a couple of good personal stories and we even see that the cultural fads of the 1970's leaked their way into the sport of hockey. Onwards and upwards...

#21 - 1975-76 Topps #30 - Stan Mikita - Stan's rocking his trademark bulbous helmet on this 1975 Topps card. To be honest with you, I'm not sure why I like this one so much, I just do.

#22 - 1971-72 Topps #20 - Phil Esposito - I think I had the scanner lid open by mistake when I scanned this one, gotta go back and fix that. This was an easy choice, as I mentioned previously 1971-72 Topps/O-Pee-Chee is one of my favorite hockey card designs. This card also came out when Esposito was coming off his best season ever, having registered career highs in goals (76) and points (152) in 70-71. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, he's wearing plaid pants.

#23 - 2006-07 Parkhurst #87 - Willie O'Ree Autograph - Don't think this one needs much of an explanation. It's one of the few times I've gone out of my way to find and purchase an autographed card. Every good hockey collection should have a Willie O'Ree card.

#24 - 1968-69 Topps #123 - Tim Horton - This was a very recent purchase, probably the newest card added to my collection on this list. It's a prime example of "eBay patience". I watched this card up for auction with a $39.99 starting price, which I knew I wouldn't pay for it, and to nobody's surprise it went without a bid. The seller re-listed the card with a $29.99 start price, a little better but still unreasonable. Once again the auction ended with no bids. Probably frustrated at this point, the seller tried a third time with a $20 Buy It Now auction with the ability to make an offer. I bid $15 and the seller accepted. I chose to include it because I didn't want to ignore the Maple Leafs, an original 6 team, and the Hall-of-Famer and coffee giant is my favorite Leaf card.

#25 - 1991-92 Upper Deck #AW7 - Ed Belfour Award Winners Hologram - Much like the Lindros die-cut card in Part 1, this was chosen because it was an innovation in card production, something a little different that I liked at the time. Yes, I know Upper Deck had holograms the year before in the 1990-91 set, but have you ever looked at one? They're awful. If your lighting is poor you could spend ten minutes just trying to figure out who's on the card. They were much more successful the second time around.

#26 - 1990-91 Score #290 - Guy Lafleur - I know what you're thinking, it's a crime to feature Lafleur in anything but a Canadiens uniform. This was one of the first Lafleur cards I owned though and the one I recall most vividly. Since Lafleur had achieved much of his greatness before I was even born I saw him in a different light as a kid. He wasn't a league-leading scorer or multiple Stanley Cup winner. He was "that older guy with the long hair who doesn't wear a helmet". What can I say...

#27 - 2008-09 O-Pee-Chee Retro #574 - Bernie Parent - Ironically, I generally detest parallels, yet my favorite set from 2008-09 is just that, the O-Pee-Chee retro parallels. At one per pack this 600 card set still does pretty well in the secondary market and is an absolute beast to complete. Someday I hope to get there, I'm right around 400/600. How great is the photo on this one?

#28 - 1974-75 Topps #91 - Al Arbour - The man who would coach the Islanders to 4 consecutive Stanley Cup championships in the early 80's, and the last NHL player to wear glasses while playing. Great card, why doesn't anyone do coach cards any longer?

#29 - 1988-89 Topps #51 - Darren Pang - This photo is a classic. Apparently Topps feels the same way, as it was included in their 2001-02 Archives set.

#30 - 1971-72 Topps #83 - Doug Roberts - This one has some sentimental value for me, as Doug was an instructor at the hockey camp I attended for a few summers as a kid.

#31 - 1991-92 Upper Deck #156 - Mario Lemieux - Choosing a Mario Lemieux card was tough, but I think this 91-92 Upper Deck card showcasing Mario with hockey's most prized trophy might be my personal favorite.

#32 - 1990-91 Score #331 - Edmonton Oilers Stanley Cup Champions - Junk wax era perfection. Very few photos manage to capture a moment like this one does. Plus, the 1990-91 Score design, which can sometimes be downright hideous, actually compliments the Oilers logo and jerseys very well here. Not only that, but Mark Messier's lurking in the background, which makes me feel better about the fact that I omitted him from my list otherwise.

#33 - 2008-09 Upper Deck #170 - Dion Phaneuf - You could probably guess at my top 60 for quite some time and never come up with this one, but I think it might be my favorite card released since I got back into collecting in 2007. Bone-crushing hits are a part of the game, and in my mind are not featured on cards nearly enough. I mean can you think of many cards from the 80's, or the 90's for that matter, that depict a jarring check? What puts this card over the top for me are the reactions from the fans in the crowd behind the glass. You really get the feeling that this was one hell of a check, I mean look at this guy:

He certainly looks as though he just witnessed something grisly. This woman's reaction is even more classic though:

Look at the pure disgust there! Well done Upper Deck, that is one fine hockey card!

#34 - 1980-81 Topps #31 - Mike Liut Rookie - Liut was the Whalers goalie when I first began watching games in the late 80's, but I like this card better than any I could find where he's sporting the Hartford green and blue. I also wanted to point out what I think is one of the worst designs ever, the 1980-81 Topps/O-Pee-Chee "scratch-off" design. Using an object such as a coin to scratch off the black substance on the puck (much like you would a lottery scratch ticket), you would reveal the name of the player depicted on your card. All this has done for anal people like myself is forced us to find either all scratched or all unscratched cards for our set. My set is nearly all unscratched, but the handful of cards that are scratched bother me and are going to be replaced someday.

#35 - 1982-83 O-Pee-Chee #293 - Peter Stastny In Action - I hemmed and hawed on going with Stastny's rookie card from 1981-82 Topps, but ultimately decided that it looked too similar to the Kurri rookie I featured in Part 1. Instead, you get this 82-83 O-Pee-Chee In Action card. The photo is much better anyway. I'm watching the Bruins/Thrashers play to a half-empty arena in Atlanta as I type this, and am wondering why the Thrashers can't be "relocated" to Quebec as the Nordiques. If I were commissioner...

#36 - 1979-80 Topps #38 - Wayne Stephenson - The second Flyer goalie card in this segment. I mentioned before that I'm a sucker for a good goalie mask, and this is may be the best mask featured on any card I own.

#37 - 1991-92 Pro Set French #101 - Wayne Gretzky Autograph - I think it's safe to say this is my single favorite hockey card. To this day it's my one and only TTM request, and receiving the card back was one of the highlights of my collecting youth. If I had to sell my entire collection tomorrow and could keep only 3 total cards, from any sport, this would be one of them.

#38 - 1972-73 Topps #7 - Playoff Game #6 - This card represents a significant game in Boston hockey history, the game when the Bruins captured their last Stanley Cup championship, over 38 years ago. Since the Whalers never even came close, I've never had the experience as a hockey fan of having the team I watch and root for win it all. The way the Bruins have been playing over the last week or so, I'm starting to think I'll be waiting a good deal longer...

#39 - 1979-80 Topps #103 - Gary Smith - I knew this one would make the list, it was one of the 5 or 10 cards I had already picked out before I even started looking around. Yes, this card looks ridiculous enough on its own, but to truly appreciate it you have to see Gary's card from the beginning of the decade, just 9 years earlier:

Amazing huh? Off the top of my head I can't think of a better set of before and after cards illustrating the effects of 1970's cultural fads on a hockey player. Can you? If so, I'm impressed!

#40 - 1967-68 Topps #38 - Glen Sather Rookie - We go back to the 60's to finish off this lot of 20. This was one of the most satisfying pick-ups I've had at under $4. It's a nice Bruins rookie to have in the collection, but to me it's equally great to have the rookie card of the GM and architect of the 1980's Edmonton Oilers dynasty.

I hope you enjoyed these, the final 20 cards will be posted tomorrow....
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