Sunday, September 29, 2013

Signature Sundays - John Olerud

Let's take a break from Panini Classics Signatures hockey this week. With the baseball season winding down I wanted to squeeze this one in.  Today's autograph is a signature I've wanted for a while now, a player I really admired during my youth, John Olerud:

If you're a Blue Jays fan, this will remind you of better days.  Days when the Jays weren't finishing last in the AL East, 23 games back.  A fine looking card, and props to Topps for going with the '93 design.  Olerud enjoyed his career year that season en route to a World Series championship.  I'll never become a John Olerud collector, but I do enjoy picking up select cards of his from time to time.  This one would have to be right up there with my '93 Finest Refractor.

The only unfortunate thing about this one as a Red Sox fan is that the write up on the card back just happens to mention two separate occasions where he decimated Sox pitching.  That aside, in my opinion this one was an absolute bargain for $7.01 plus $1.95 shipping.

Friday, September 27, 2013

That's Why I Don't Buy Blasters - Volume II - Batter Up!

A couple of weeks ago I started a new series here on the blog, entitled 'That's Why I Don't Buy Blasters'.  Pretty self-explanatory concept.  In the first post I ended up with a really nice 1964 Topps Stand-Up Ernie Banks.  I wasn't sure I'd be able to top that one for some time, but I think I may have already done so...

This is a 1934-36 Batter Up card.  How cool is that?  These were made by National Chicle, the same company that produced the Diamond Stars cards during that same time period.  Like the Ernie Banks card I featured in my last post they were stand-ups, die cut around the player's photo and then perforated at the half-way point so that you could punch out your player and fold down the back of the card.  First series cards (1-80) measure 3 1/4" x 2 3/8".  Like most stand-ups, the backs are totally blank, so the card number is written in the lower right corner of the card front.

The subject of this card is Hal Schumacher of the New York Giants.  I was instantly drawn to these because of the awesome, old-timey photos.  I've never heard of Schumacher, but just look at those stir-ups and that glove!  Not to mention I think it's great any time I can add a vintage New York Giants card to the collection.  Speaking of New York franchises of yesteryear...

I like this one more than the first.  I've said it a few times before, but if I had an unlimited card budget I'd attempt to collect every single Brooklyn Dodgers card out there.  The highlight of this card is the patch on the sleeve for sure.  Both of these cards still have their top halves intact, which is something you don't always find if you're bargain hunting for them like I was here.

These are fantastic cards, and I would have been happy with just the two for the price of a blaster, but as it stands they set me back just $7 a piece.  In fact, they were just purchased as add-ons when I looked to see what other cards an eBay seller I was buying from had for sale.  Here's the original card that led me to those last two:

A great vintage catcher's card if I've ever seen one!  When I stumbled upon this card with a $7 Buy-it-Now price, it was one of those where you just react immediately and click buy.  All the usual care I take when purchasing a card, like price comparison, online research, etc. just went out the window because I had to have that card!  I didn't know it at the time but Hemsley had a decent career, he was a 5x All-Star and at one point was Bob Feller's personal catcher.  In fact, he even caught a Feller no-hitter!  I'm not sure I'll ever find any of these for this little cash again, but I'll certainly cherish these three for the time being.

1934 Batter Up Cards - $7 each
Shipping - Free!
Total - $21

Like I said, I like these for the same reason that I enjoyed the Conlon sets from the '90s, it's just so interesting to see these old black and white photos, a window back into baseball's great past.  These cards are nearly 80 years old now, you won't find that under shrink wrap at your local big box store...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

1953 Topps Project - Minnie Minoso

Moving one card closer to my goal of collecting the 1953 Topps baseball set in grade PSA 6, this evening's addition will be card #66, Minnie Minoso:

A very nice card indeed!  Minnie is a fascinating figure who's led an interesting life.  His first Major League appearance came in the late '40s, and his last in 1980!  He's also the subject of one of my favorite '70s Topps cards.  Minoso had a great season with the White Sox in 1953, swatting an impressive .313 with 15 HR and 104 RBI.  He was elected an All-Star and finished fourth in MVP voting, feats he would accomplish again in 1954.

I'm happy to welcome Minnie Minoso to my set.  This card may not be listed in Beckett, but it's certainly more than just an average vintage common as far as I'm concerned.

Set Progress:  56 of 274 (20%)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Signature Sundays - New York Nicks

Yes, we're going back to the Panini Classics Signatures well again for Signature Sundays.  Today we've got a pair of "New York Nicks"...

First is Nick Kypreos, who was known mostly as an enforcer during his NHL career.  You can tell by the man's signature what his proudest accomplishment was at the NHL level, and that was winning the Stanley Cup with New York in 1994.  True, he played in just three playoff games that year (registering 0 points, 2 PIM and a -1), but he still got to experience being on a team that won it all.  Nick was pretty lucky in that he was dealt from my favorite team, the Hartford Whalers, to the Rangers during that 1993-94 season.  Had he stayed with Hartford he would have finished 6th in the Northeast Division and missed the playoffs entirely.

Joining Kypreos today is Nick Fotiu.  Also known for his ability to throw his weight around, Fotiu was a fan favorite in New York due in part to the fact that he was a local boy (Staten Island).  Like Kypreos, he spent some time with the Whalers.  In fact, he began his professional career with the New England Whalers of the WHA, and would play for the Hartford Whalers as well.

I like that Panini mentions his ventures in boxing on the card back.

Two Nicks, both of whom played for the Rangers, both of whom played for the Whalers, and both of whom knew how to throw down the gloves.  This pair brings me up to an even 30 autographs from this excellent set...

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Premier League Week 5 - 1960 A & BC Gum Ron Wylie

Another exciting weekend of Premier League soccer, another card from the 1960 A & BC Gum set.  My favorite team, Liverpool, suffered a tough 1-0 home loss to Southampton this week.  Here's a card from a team that fared a little better earlier today...

How about that smile from Ron Wylie of Aston Villa?  Ron's a little off-center, and has well rounded corners, but other than that is looking pretty good.  He played quite a few seasons for Aston Villa, and was a member of the team that won the inaugural League Cup in 1961.

Aston Villa is a club I'm somewhat familiar with, having followed Premier League soccer for the past couple of seasons.  I didn't realize they had been around so long though, having been established in 1874, and playing their home games on the same field now that they did at the end of the 19th century!  Today they were successful on the road at Norwich, capturing 3 points with a 1-0 victory.

Thanks to the back we find out that Wylie was the "ball-playing type of inside forward".  Seems like the writers were really stretching there.  I don't think it's likely I'll ever finish this set in my lifetime given that I never seem to encounter these cards anywhere, but Ron here is my 4th and counting...

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mini Zistle Trade with goingdeepe

A couple of weeks ago I completed a very simple trade with Zistle user goingdeepe.  I've still got a couple of larger trades that I need to post, but this one was so simple it was easy to knock off my list.  I sent two cards his way (2009 Topps Heritage Billy Wagner and 2012 Topps Gypsy Queen David Ortiz) for two in return:

Julio Lugo here was one of the last few 2008 Allen & Ginter Red Sox cards I needed.  I felt so old when I looked him up and found that he's been out of the game for two years now.

Joining Julio in the envelope was this '87 Topps Mini Leaders Wade Boggs.

Sometimes you can't beat a nice, easy PWE trade.  Two cards gone from my doubles box, two lines crossed off my Red Sox want list.  That's a win/win for me.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Signature Sundays - Serge Savard

Just one autograph today for my Signature Sundays post, but I thought this one was significant enough that it deserved to be highlighted on its own.  I've shown a ton of autographs from the 2012-13 Panini Classics Signatures hockey set in recent months, but few of them have been Hall-of-Famers.  Milt Schmidt, Denis Savard, and last week's Bernie Federko card put my tally at three, and today's card is my fourth HOF auto from the set:

Serge Savard is certainly considered one of the all-time great Montreal Canadiens.  He played on a staggering 8 Stanley Cup championship teams in 17 seasons with Montreal.  The Canadiens won the Cup in each of his first two seasons with the club, and he became the first defenseman to capture the Conn Smythe trophy in just his second year.  He'd remain with the team through their amazing run in the '70s before finishing out his career with the Jets.

Savard was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1986, and his number has been retired by Montreal.  He's remained involved with the team and was GM for the Canadiens' Stanley Cup wins in 1986 and 1993.

This one makes 28 2012-13 Panini Classics Signatures autos and counting...

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Premier League Week 4 - 1960 A & BC Gum Charlie Hurley

Three games into the 2013-14 Premier League season, and unbelievably my favorite team, Liverpool, is atop the table.  Three straight 1-0 wins (with Daniel Sturridge scoring the lone goal in all three matches) has earned them the maximum possible (9) points after week 3.  Having watched all three games start to finish, I feel that keeper Simon Mignolet should be getting as much credit as Sturridge, if not more.  Either way, I'm excited for this week's match-up against Swansea, but unfortunately I'll have to wait until Monday for that one.

One team I will be watching today though is Sunderland:

I would have to say that this is the coolest of the few vintage soccer cards I've shown so far, mainly because Charlie Hurley had an impressive career for both Ireland and Sunderland.  He overcame an early-life knee injury to become a brilliant center-half (sorry, centre-half) for Ireland and Sunderland.

Hurley appeared in 402 games over a dozen seasons with Sunderland.  He was a steadfast defender who could occasionally put one in the back of the net, and under his watch the team was eventually promoted to the highest level of English football.  Sunderland fans voted him the team's player of the century as a matter of fact!

This is just another example of these vintage soccer cards proving to be a learning experience for me.  I'll certainly have a fresh perspective when I watch Sunderland square off against Arsenal later this morning.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

That's Why I Don't Buy Blasters - Volume I - Stand Up Banks

One area where I've really reigned my collection in over the past few years is busting wax.  I feel the allure of the Target card aisle drawing me near anytime I'm there, just like most other collectors.  For me, given my collecting tastes, the value is just not there though.  In fact, looking over my card budget document (yes, I have a card budget document, do you know how much you spend on your hobby?) I haven't purchased even a single pack of cards since a couple of blasters of 2013 Topps Series 1 more than 6 months ago.

I do occassionally miss the excitement of ripping through one of these, but too often feel buyer's remorse afterwards.  I've done a few posts in the past where I make a "virtual blaster" on COMC or a similar site to show how much more efficiently I can use my funds when I hand select my items.  Well, I've decided to turn that concept into a more official series of posts here titled "That's Why I Don't Buy Blasters".  Each of these posts will feature a card (or a lot of cards) that I scored with the same money that I would have spent on a retail blaster, $19.99 plus sales tax.

This first installment is a simple one, just a single card, but boy is it a nice, colorful one:

Pretty sweet, huh?  I'm sure most of you already know this, but this card is from the 1964 Topps Stand Ups set.  This is the first I've ever picked up, but I've wanted one for a good long time now.  I'm really happy with this copy, I'd consider it a really strong EX-MT or maybe even NR-MT with really good color and visual appeal.  I was surprised to see it listed for as little as it was, especially from one of my all-time favorite eBay sellers, so I just had to pounce on it.

I've never really blogged much about it, but for whatever reason I've sort of casually collected vintage Ernie Banks cards for a few years now.  Maybe someday I'll show off some of my others, but this one instantly becomes one of my favorites.  Vintage cardboard beauty.

'64 Topps Banks Stand Up - $20
Shipping - FREE!
Total - $20

Given that I didn't pay shipping or sales tax, this one came in at less than a blaster (with tax) would have set me back...and that's why I don't buy blasters!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Signature Sundays - A Couple of Bernies

Today I've got two more autographs from the 2012-13 Panini Classics Signatures set, both guys named Bernie...

First up is Nicholls.  He enjoyed a lengthy career during an offensive era, and as a result ended up with close to 500 goals (475), and better than a point-per-game average over his career (1,209 points in 1,127 games).

The back of the card talks about Nicholls' legendary 1988-89 season where he became the fourth player in NHL history to eclipse 150 points in a season.

Today's other Bernie is Federko.  Another guy who put up some good numbers during the high scoring '80s.  He managed to rack up four 100+ point seasons and at one point put up 50+ assists for ten straight campaigns.  I've heard many call him under-rated, but I've also heard him called over-rated.  Either way, he's in the Hall of Fame, and he's got a nice signature to boot.

These are my 26th and 27th autographs from this set.  The supply is starting to dry up now that it's been many, many months since the product's release, but I've got a few left to post anyway...

Saturday, September 7, 2013

My 100 Favorite Red Sox Cards - 25 Through 1

After a lengthy delay, here's the final installment of the countdown of my favorite Red Sox cards from my collection...

#25 - 1999 Sports Illustrated Bill Lee Auto

Just an awesome card of The Spaceman that I picked up in a hobby shop in Manhattan when I was there for work recently.  I've got one or two other Bill Lee autos, but nothing that compares with this one.

#24 - 2006 Allen & Ginter Terry Francona Mini

The greatest manager that I've had the pleasure to watch during my time as a fan, and the man at the helm for both of the World Series Championships that have occurred during my lifetime.  Also, I thoroughly enjoyed his book last summer.

#23 - 1991 Fleer Pro Visions Mike Greenwell

Cheesy?  Yes, but I don't care.  This one's on the list for nostalgic value.  I loved these inserts as a kid, and had the entire set.  In fact, the Greenwell that you see pictured here is my original childhood copy.

#22 - 1959 Topps Red Sox Team Checklist

I don't think anyone can really argue against this one.  Someday I've got to track down any of the vintage Red Sox team cards I don't have yet, I know there are at least a few.  This one has always reminded me of the Japanese flag.

#21 - 1992 Topps Stadium Club Wade Boggs

A '90s classic!  Stadium Club photography at its finest.  Like I said when I started off the countdown, there are few things I like more than a well-done good ol' fashioned base card.

#20 - 1977 Topps Jim Rice

Jim Rice was pretty much before my time.  Although I believe I did see him play at least once or twice among my first few childhood trips to Fenway Park, I certainly never witnessed him in his prime.  Dude could flat out rake the ball though, and I was glad to see him just make the Hall of Fame a few years back.  It's possible that I own a better Jim Rice card than this one, but right now this is the best I've got cataloged.  Boy, a Yankee Stadium backdrop doesn't hold the same mystique on a late '70s card as it does on one from the '50s huh?

#19 - 1998 Bowman's Best Pedro Martinez Refractor

Pedro was the most dominating Red Sox pitcher I've ever seen.  1998 was the year he came to Boston, so this seemed like an appropriate selection.  Plus, who doesn't love a refractor?

#18 - 2008 Upper Deck Manny Ramirez

This might be my single favorite card of 2008, period.  That says a lot given how I feel about Manny Ramirez.  Like many collectors I love when a piece of cardboard captures a particular moment in time, and what a fine example this is.  The photo is taken just seconds after Ramirez crushed a 2-out, 3-run walk-off home run to give Boston a victory in game 2 of their 2007 ALDS series against the Angels.  The crowd erupting and his teammates spilling off the bench, Manny raises his arms in celebration and shows the Fenway faithful his best jazz hands.  Meanwhile the bat hasn't even fallen to the ground yet, and the Angels' backstop already looks depressed.

#17 - 1977 Topps Carlton Fisk

One of the all-time best play at the plate cards.  There's really nothing I would change about this card.  I ranked another Fisk higher than this one, but I'm kind of regretting that now.  You can judge for yourself in another minute here...

#16 - 1958 Topps Ted Williams All-Star

I've always loved the '58 Topps All-Star subset.  It was the first time Topps did one actually, and completing the entire set PSA graded is one of my best accomplishments since I got back into the hobby.  The primary reason this card fell all the way to #18 is the centering.  Someday I will sell this one and upgrade to a better looking example, but it's not high on my list.

#15 - 1976 Topps Carl Yastrzemski

Ted Williams and Yaz back to back, you can tell we're getting to the meat and potatoes of the countdown here.  You've seen this one a million times before, most anyone with a decent '70s Topps collection has a copy.  Red Sox fan or not, I bet if you ranked your 50 favorite cards from the '70s this might be in your list.

#14 - 1949 Bowman Johnny Pesky

I am pretty much fascinated by any cardboard released pre-1950.  It's actually a shame how few very early vintage Red Sox cards are currently in my collection.  I'm working to change that though, in fact in my last post I showed off a couple of '49 Bowmans that recently joined Johnny here.

#13 - 2012 Leaf Memories Wade Boggs 1990 Leaf Buyback Auto #'d/26

Perhaps I ranked this one a bit too high, but if you had told me as a 7-year-old that I'd have an autographed Wade Boggs card in my collection I likely would have passed out.  There's been quite a bit of Wade on this countdown, but there's one Boggs card still to come...

#12 - 1965 Topps Tony Conigliaro

I've always liked this card because it shows a young, determined Conigliaro, full of promise and talent and just starting out on his MLB career.  This Tony Conigliaro had the world in front of him, unaware of the tragic, unrelated events that would derail his career and then end his life an at early age.

#11 - 2010 Topps Red Sox Franchise History

I bet you didn't think a card from the 2010 Topps flagship set would crack the top 15?  There is no piece of cardboard that better encapsulates both recent World Series Championships in one fell swoop than this one.

#10 - 1939 Play Ball Fred Ostermueller

For years, and until very recently, this was my oldest Red Sox card.  Yes, it's black and white, and maybe not the most aesthetically pleasing square of cardboard, but it's just about 75 years old, which is enough to get it a slot in the top 10.

#9 - 1991 Topps Roger Clemens

I'm not a big Clemens guy anymore (is anyone at this point after how things have gone the past few years?), but I can still appreciate this card.  Topps really knocked it out of the park with this one.  I'm partial to horizontal cards as it is, and positioning Clemens, one of the game's strikeout kings at the time, in front of the words 'strike' and 'out' on the green monster scoreboard was genius. 

#8 - 1983 Topps Wade Boggs RC

I consider this the quintessential '80s Red Sox rookie card (like I said, not a big Clemens guy).  It took me way too long to finally track down a copy, but I'm really glad I did.  Boggs joins Gwynn and Sandberg to form the trio of ultimate '83 Topps rookie cards.

#7 - 1960 Topps Pumpsie Green RC

One of the things Red Sox fans shouldn't be so proud of is the fact that they were the very last team to integrate.  On July 21st, 1959, Pumpsie here finally put an end to all that.  I feel that alone is deserving of a prime spot in my countdown.

#6 - 1973 Topps Carlton Fisk

I don't own a '72 Topps Fisk rookie, so this is the earliest Pudge I've got at this point.  I'm starting to think the Topps rookie trophy and rookie cup logos factor pretty heavily into how much I value a card.  There's no doubt this is a great piece of cardboard, but should I really have ranked it above the '77 Fisk?  Now I'm not so sure.

#5 - 2007 Topps Updates & Highlights Jacoby Ellsbury SSP

I know, I normally rail against gimmick cards and now I've listed one in my top 5 Red Sox cards.  Hear me out though.  It was 2007 and I had just gotten back into the hobby as an adult after a good 10+ year hiatus, and I was too new to the hobby to even know what was what.  At the point when I stopped collecting as a kid there weren't short prints, autographs, game-used cards or any of those other gimmicks. 

That fall of 2007 I would buy packs of whatever I could get my hands on, and much of the time that was the 2007 Topps Updates & Highlights set.  I'd heard rumblings about the Jacoby Ellsbury super-short-printed rookie card and how rare it was.  I opened pack after pack as I hand collated my set, but whenever I pulled card #100 it was the same card #100 as everyone else was pulling, Abraham Nunez.  One day when leafing through a recently cracked pack I stumbled upon this one though, the elusive Ellsbury SSP.  I could hardly believe my eyes.  I felt like I was Charlie and had just pulled the Golden Ticket.  You have to understand the climate too, Ellsbury was lighting it up and the Sox were on the march towards their second World Series Championship in four years.

It's corny, but I got that same feeling of excitement that I used to get when I'd pull a Nolan Ryan or Wayne Gretzky card from a pack as a kid, especially since this just came from a random choice of two packs selected at the shop.  It's still a really rare card (just one example on eBay right now in a PSA 9 for $500), but I've never been able to sell it.  Maybe if he signs a huge contract with another team in the off-season I'll cash in and use the money on some vintage, but for now I count this among my most prized Sox cards.

#4 - 1964 Topps Carl Yastrzemski

Of all the Yastrzemski cards I have, this one's my favorite.  Part of it is my love for the '64 Topps design, part of it is the photo of the very young Yaz staring off into the distance.  I don't have a whole lot to say about this one, but I don't think it needs much explanation either.

#3 - 1933 Goudey Bernie Friberg

Here's a very recent pick-up, no more than a few weeks old now.  It's so new that I haven't had a chance to show it off yet, but it's now my oldest Red Sox card.  I know the corners are a bit rounded but there are no creases, holes or pen marks and the visual appeal is very good.  For a card that's 80 years old now I can't complain.  You know what the crazy part is?  This set me back less than a blaster, shipped.  By a few bucks too.  Gotta love eBay.

#2 - 1957 Topps Ted Williams

Since I was a kid I've wanted a vintage Ted Williams card from his playing days.  Last year I was finally able to make that happen, and I count this among my most prized cards from any sport.  It's extra high on the list because I really enjoy the '57 Topps set, and it's a 'bookend card'.  As vintage collectors know the first and last cards in the set generally demand a premium due to condition issues, so to get a card #1 on the checklist in this kind of shape from the '50s is pretty nice.

Now, finally, my absolute favorite Red Sox card...

#1 - 1950 Bowman Maurice McDermott

Unless you've been reading my blog for years and happen to have a really good memory, you probably wouldn't have predicted this one.  I can say with confidence that I'm probably the only Red Sox collector who values a Maurice McDermott card above all others.  Here's the thing though, this was my very first vintage card, purchased for me by my father at an antique store when I was around 7 or 8 years old.  It's what first developed my love of cardboard all those years ago, and it's the reason my collection and this blog exist.  I haven't been able to locate my original so far in the mess that is my parents' basement, but I picked up this placeholder a few years back which will fit the bill until Maurice finds his way home.

So there you have it, I hope you enjoyed this look at 100 of my favorite Red Sox cards.  I'm sure in a year or two I'll have enough new ammo that it will be worth revisiting this, but until then I stand by my selections!
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