Friday, February 26, 2010

Completed Set - 1987-88 Topps Hockey

One of my major goals for this year is to complete the run of Topps Hockey sets from 1980-81 through 1990-91 (there were no Topps sets in 82-83 or 83-84), which includes scanning in every card and organizing them nicely in binders. The 80's Topps hockey sets were cards I grew up with and they have a lot of sentimental value to me as a result. I've heard people pose the question "If your house was on fire and you could save only one item from your collection, what would it be?" or "If you had to be stranded on a desert island...". For me, these sets would be near the top of those lists.

Unlike Topps' 80's baseball releases, the hockey sets have actually maintained some value in the marketplace as well. Thanks to rookie cards of guys like Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman, Patrick Roy, Brett Hull and Ray Bourque, collecting all of these sets is actually a decent challenge. So far I've talked about the 1989-90 Topps set. Next up is the 87-88 Topps set. I didn't have many of these in my original childhood collection, but I was lucky enough to pick up a complete set a while back. There are 198 cards in the base set. What better way to discuss the set than to show off my favorite cards, as usual. You won't find the base set Whalers in this post, I've already shown them off here. I could probably write at length about any card from any of these sets, but here are a few that stick out to me:

#15 - Mario Lemieux - Pittsburgh Penguins - This is Super Mario's third Topps base card. The Topps/OPC design from this year is pretty darn good. I guess if they made this set nowadays the stick border would have to be composite.

#20 - Lanny McDonald - Calgary Flames - Any Lanny card is a good Lanny card.

#53 - Wayne Gretzky - Edmonton Oilers - A classic shot of the Great One donning the 80's Oilers uni...

#69 - Cam Neely - Boston Bruins

#83 - Bernie Federko - St. Louis Blues - This card cracks me up, Bernie's expression is priceless. The fantastic Blues jersey makes the card even better.

#87 - Ray Bourque - Boston Bruins - Ray's number hadn't changed from 7 to 77 just yet.

#105 - Mike Bossy - New York Islanders - Without looking, I think this may be Bossy's final Topps card.

#106 - Chris Chelios - Montreal Canadiens - I believe this is Chelios' first Topps card.

#112 - Mark Messier - Edmonton Oilers - Mark makes an appearance in the Hockey Heroes subset in 2009-10 Upper Deck Series 2 hockey. I should have my box break posted soon!

#123 - Adam Oates (Rookie) - Detroit Red Wings - Adam's gotta be one of the most under-rated setup men in the history of the game. Want to know how much the landscape of the game has changed since 1987? Oates' contract with the Red Wings, $1 million dollars over 4 years, was the richest rookie contract in history at the time.

#141 - Mike O'Connell - Detroit Red Wings - Doesn't it look like you could photoshop Mike right out of this picture, drop him on a 1950's card, and he wouldn't look out of place at all?

#148 - Jari Kurri - Edmonton Oilers - One of my favorite 80's players.

#149 - Dale Hawerchuk - Winnipeg Jets - I can't put my finger on why, but I love this card.

#163 - Patrick Roy - Montreal Canadiens - Patrick's second year card!

#172 - Tony McKegney - St. Louis Blues - If you missed Sal's Career in Cards post on McKegney, definitely check it out!

#184 - Dick "Better Known as Dirk" Graham - Minnesota North Stars - I always think of Graham as a Chicago Blackhawk. I had completely forgotten that he broke into the NHL with the North Stars...

#185 - Anton Stastny - Quebec Nordiques - This jersey absolutely kicks ass. I still say the NHL should force the Panthers owners to either move the team to Quebec or sell it to some new owners up in that fine province where hockey is actually appreciated.

#189 - Kelly Miller - Washington Capitals - Cousin of current Buffalo Sabres and team USA goaltender Ryan Miller. Somehow I didn't know that until recently.

What would any good 80's set be without stickers! My complete set also included the 33 sticker insert set. Here are some of the highlights:

Sticker #5 - Wayne Gretzky - The stickers have the same wooden stick design as the base set, just a bit busier.

Sticker #8 - Mike Liut - My favorite sticker from the 33 card set, for obvious reasons.

Sticker #11 - Mario Lemieux - The first 12 cards of the set are player cards, after that it's onto the classic team logo stickers...

Sticker #19 - Winnipeg Jets - Another franchise I'd like to see return to the NHL.

Sticker #20 - Quebec Nordiques

Sticker #24 - Vancouver Canucks - So much better than the modern Canucks logo...

Sticker #25 - Hartford Whalers

Sticker #29 - Minnesota North Stars
Sticker #30 - Washington Capitals

Well that about does it. A fantastic set overall and a must have for anyone who was a fan of the game during this era.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Olympic Hockey Sunday

If you're sitting around on this Sunday afternoon wondering what can replace football now that the Superbowl has come and gone, may I suggest Olympic hockey? Two fabulous games are on the docket this afternoon/evening. First the Czech Republic faces Russia at 3 PM ET, then the highly anticipated Canada/USA matchup takes place this evening at 7 PM ET. Need a reason to watch? Here's a list of some of the NHL superstars you'll see during just these 2 games tonight:

Martin Brodeur
Pavel Datsyuk
Sergei Fedorov
Jarome Iginla
Jaromir Jagr
Patrick Kane
Ilya Kovalchuk
David Krejci
Evgeni Malkin
Joe Thornton
Jonathan Toews

Oh yeah, and Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. Convinced yet?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Red Sox Collection - 1939 Play Ball Fred Ostermueller

Recently I won this 1939 Play Ball Fred Ostermueller card on Ebay. Believe it or not this is now my oldest Red Sox card. I was intrigued by the card since I had never even held a Play Ball card, let alone added one to my collection. The corners are a bit dinged but the card is crease-free and in great shape considering it's over 70 years old!

Fred (affectionately known as Fritz) enjoyed a 14 year career in Major League Baseball despite not debuting until age 27. The majority of that time was spent with the Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates. I don't know the specific circumstances, but sadly Ostermueller passed away at age 50, just 9 years after hanging up his cleats for the final time.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Some More 1964-65 Topps Tall Boys

I bought a single 1964-65 Topps hockey card a while back and decided that I'd like a few more cards from this set. Since then I've picked up 7 more cards:

#38 - Billy Reay - Chicago Blackhawks - I believe Billy has more wins than any other Chicago Blackhawks head coach. I'll say it again, I wish Upper Deck would include coach cards in a set.

#18 - Orland Kurtenbach - Boston Bruins - Random fact that seems appropriate for the Olympics: Kurtenbach was the first-ever captain of the Vancouver Canucks (when they joined the NHL that is).

#36 - Jim Mikol - New York Rangers - Jim was very fortunate to get a card in this set, as he appeared in a grand total of 34 career NHL games. No wonder I got this one cheap. Still a nice looking card though.

#5 - Elmer Vasko - Chicago Blackhawks - Here we see Elmer near the end of a 10-year stint with the Blackhawks.

#46 - Dick Duff - New York Rangers - Winner of 6 Stanley Cups and member of the Hockey Hall of Fame! Pretty much the polar opposite of Jim Mikol...

#26 - Al MacNeil - Chicago Blackhawks - The man who would eventually coach the Montreal Canadiens to a remarkable 1970-71 Stanley Cup Championship. He gave Ken Dryden a chance in the post season that year despite the fact that he appeared in only 6 regular season games as a rookie. We all know how that worked out for Montreal!

#10 - Bob McCord - Boston Bruins - McCord did see some NHL action, but seemed to have much more success at the AHL level throughout his career. Those are some sweet old school gloves though.

The more I see of these cards the more I like them. I may have to track down some more this year...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Million Card Giveaway - Pleasantly Surprised

Like many other collectors I had a frustrating time entering my Topps Million Card Giveaway codes today. I had only 3 cards to enter:

Card #1 - 1993 Topps Milt Hill - "Great..." I thought to myself. This is about what I expected. Milt lasted just 4 seasons in the majors and was out of baseball by 1994. Not to mention, I have about 400 '93 Topps cards tucked in a box in my basement that I'd love to get rid of. There could be a Milt in there already, I'm not even sure...

Card #2 - 2005 Topps Tim Wakefield - OK, I was pleasantly surprised by this one. Most people would probably be aggravated by this one as well, but I didn't start collecting again until 2007, so this is a Red Sox card I don't actually have. Card 3 was definitely the winner in the bunch though...

Card #3 - 1958 Topps Tony Taylor - Nice! This is better than I expected for sure. I've got a handful of '58 Topps and will definitely have Tony shipped to add him to my collection. I'd never heard of him before but he actually had a long career in the majors, playing well into the 70's. I'm pretty sure this is his rookie card as well.

David Krejci Collection - Card 17

David Krejci and the Boston Bruins managed a come from behind win in Florida on Saturday night against the Panthers, completing a perfect 4-0-0 road trip before the Olympic break. Capturing all 8 available points on the trip has allowed the Bruins to jump all the way from 12th to 7th (and ahead of the lowly Canadiens) in the Eastern Conference standings. Krejci scored one of the 2 Bruins goals on Saturday night, and also had a huge goal in the shootout to keep the team alive another round.

I'm looking forward to Olympic hockey (how could any hockey fan not be), but the break comes at a pretty inopportune time for a Bruins team that was finally getting rolling. I hope the Bruins can pick back up where they left off in a couple of weeks. On a side note, the Victory Gold parallel cards look really good meshed with the Bruins colors.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Red Sox Collection - 1952 Topps Maurice McDermott

Continuing my recent trend of picking up vintage Red Sox, I acquired this 1952 Topps Mauric McDermott on eBay. I think everyone agrees that '52 Topps is one of the most iconic sets ever produced. Unless I win the lottery (which I don't play), this is one set I'm sure I'll never complete. Anyone with even the most basic knowledge of the hobby knows that many high numbered cards were allegedly dumped into the ocean by Topps, making this series extremely rare, desired and valuable amongst collectors. That being said, I think every serious baseball card collection should include at least one example from this classic set.

When I realized a couple of weeks ago that I didn't have a single Red Sox card from this set, I decided to rectify the situation. After monitoring quite a few auctions I settled on this card. The main reason is that I've always felt a little bit of affinity towards McDermott, as his 1950 Bowman card was the first true vintage card I ever owned as a kid (sadly it has been lost over time). I ended up spending $10 and change, which I thought was pretty reasonable for a crease-free, well centered card with only slightly touched corners and great color. I might have to try to build a McDermott master collection. He didn't stick around long and played in an era when there were only a couple of sets produced each year. I'm willing to bet he probably has less than 20 total cards.

I've got a couple more vintage Red Sox posts coming, including one card that's even older than this one!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Filling in Gaps - 1956 Topps Baseball

Today is pay day, and I just blew my entire $60 card budget for this paycheck on a wax box of 2009-10 Upper Deck Series 2 hockey. This is the first wax box I've picked up in quite some time, so I'm pretty excited about it. I'll write up a review sometime in the next couple of weeks when it arrives. In the meantime here are some Red Sox cards I picked up on the cheap last paycheck. I'm ashamed to admit that my collection contained just one single 1956 Topps card prior to winning these 3 on eBay:

#34 - Tom Brewer - This is probably my favorite card of the bunch. It's one of the nicer backgrounds I've seen on a '56 Topps card (although admittedly I haven't seen many).

#93 - George Susce Jr.

#315 - Milt Bolling - Another great background scene on this one. Am I the only one who thinks the Topps Heritage set that paid tribute to these was done poorly?

Well that's about it. A decent start on a '56 Topps Red Sox team set. Total cost was just over $5 and that includes shipping. Not bad huh?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Pack Rip - 2010 Topps Baseball Jumbo Pack

After watching yet another Bruins loss this afternoon (now the longest losing streak for the team since 1925) I needed to get out for some fresh air. I still had $20 in my budget for this paycheck so I decided to hit the only hobby shop I ever really visit (probably the only one within half an hour of my house). I've been featuring a lot of hockey cards lately so I decided to focus on baseball during today's trip. I hadn't picked up any 2010 Topps yet so I decided to grab a jumbo hobby pack to see what all the fuss was about. 50 cards (41 base cards and 9 inserts) for $10. Everyone is probably getting sick of seeing these by now but here you go...

#1 - Prince Fielder - What an awesome card to lead off the set. I think this card is symbolic of the baseball card landscape. Prince is Topps. Craig Counsel is Upper Deck. Ryan Braun is Donruss...

#51 - Eric Young Jr. - I agree with Night Owl's recent sentiments that while Upper Deck is all about the photo, Topps generally does a much better job designing the cards. I wasn't floored by this design when I saw all the scans on other blogs, but it's definitely growing on me...

#143 - Omar Vizquel - The first couple of Topps base sets when I got back into collecting (2007 & 2008) left a lot to be desired in my opinion. I think last year's flagship set was a dramatic improvement and the 2010 set seems to continue that upward trend. This Vizquel card is a prime example.

#174 - Mike Gonzalez - Topps may be about the design, but their photography has gotten significantly better as well...

#183 - Jonathan Papelbon - One of two Red Sox I pulled...

#252 - Ronny Cedeno - I really like the way this photo is positioned relative to the border of the card.

#268 - Juan Pierre

#273 - Pat Neshek - Great shot.

#295 - Kevin Youkilis - Kevin making a leaping throw in front of the W.B. Mason office supply sign. How funny would it be if you were one of those people pictured in the crowd?

#325 - Julio Lugo - I think this is my first post-Red Sox Lugo card. Now, the inserts...

#236 - Andrew Bailey - Gold Parallel (#'d/2010) - 2009 All-Star and AL Rookie of the Year. Not bad for a 6th round draft pick!

#FCTTT12 - Miguel Tejada - ToppsTown Free Cards - I called this one a "ToppsTown Free Cards" insert because the card number starts with FC. Since there's a banner on the front advertising a free digital pack (give me a break) I can only assume that's what the FC stands for...

#CMT-32 - Ryne Sandberg - Cards Your Mother Threw Out - I like this subset. Of the "big three" rookies in the '83 Topps set, this is the one I'm still missing in my collection.

#HOTG24 - Interleague Play Introduced - History of the Game - Could I have pulled a more boring History of the Game insert? I don't think so...

#LL3 - Babe Ruth/Alex Rodriguez - Legendary Lineage - A-Rod ruined what would've been a perfectly nice Babe Ruth card...

#PP-21 - Jimmie Foxx - Peak Performance - I'm not feeling this insert set at all. Snooze...

#94 - Ernie Banks - Reprint Thingy - Anyone know what the name is for this insert set? The back seems to mirror Banks' '54 Topps rookie as well (except for some of the small legal print of course). Ernie's Topps rookie is on my "top 10 white whale" list. Someday...

#TOG-15 - Ozzie Smith "Flips Out" - Tales of the Game - Now that's a cool insert. I was mesmerized by Ozzie's flipping as a child and he's always been one of my favorite 80's players.

#TR37 - Chase Utley - Turkey Red - I have to admit I'm getting a bit tired of the Turkey Red inserts at this point. There are lots of other vintage sets out there.

Well, there you go. When it comes to baseball there are basically 3 verdicts I give sets:

Chase: I love the set, time to power on the scanner and track down some Ultra-Pro pages. Accumulate: I like the set. While I won't actively chase it I certainly won't scoff at any cards that come my way. I'll pick some up when there's nothing else at the shop I want more. No Thanks: Red Sox and a few select favorite cards are scanned and saved, the rest goes into the trade box.

So, what's my verdict for 2010 Topps? Accumulate. There's a chance this set could grow on me. The design is solid but I just don't need another set to chase right now. For now I'll keep any base cards I run across in case I change my mind. The 2 Cubs inserts are going to Lonestarr and I'm keeping the Ozzie. The other inserts are all up for trade. If I find some time tomorrow I'll show off the rest of my loot from the hobby shop.

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