Sunday, October 27, 2013

Signature Sundays - Half a Dozen Hockey with a Hall-of-Famer

I need something to take my mind off of baseball until tonight's first pitch. Desperately. The worst part is that according to the way the rule is written the umps made the right call.  I would rather have seen the Cards crush a walk-off home run, no World Series game should end that way.  I don't really want to think about hockey either, after the Bruins' penalty-infused late game collapse to the lowly Devils last night.  Then there's the Patriots, who were robbed of a game last week due to a controversial rule that the league has already changed!  It's been a painful week to be a New England sports fan.

Anyway, to distract myself here's a handful of 2012-13 Panini Classics Signatures autos that recently joined my collection...

First up is Darryl Sydor.  I always remember him with the LA Kings during his first couple of years but he really made his mark in Dallas with the Stars.  He won a Stanley Cup there, and another with Tampa Bay.  Darryl was a two time All-Star and played in close to 1,300 career NHL regular season games.

Scott Mellanby came as part of a package deal with another auto.  I will always remember him for the rat trick.  This is definitely my first Florida Panthers autograph of any kind.

Next up we've got Mike Peca.  One of history's most memorable Sabres, although he played for a few other organizations as well.  He actually won gold playing for Canada in both the World Junior Championships and the Olympics.  For some reason I thought he was more of an offensive threat than he was, looking at his stats his career high in points was 60, and he never topped the 30 goal mark.

This is actually my second Brodeur auto.  I guess that makes the first available for trade if anyone wants it.  I would love to add an autograph of his time in the WHA to my collection someday.  Random fact, did you know that Richard capped off his NHL career with 6 games played for the Hartford Whalers in 1987-88?

I was glad to see Kevin Weekes included on the checklist, mostly because I listen to his analysis at least a couple of mornings a week on NHL Tonight on the NHL Network.  An interesting autograph complete with his odd #80 jersey number.

Closing things out is Hall-of-Famer Clark Gillies.  Clark certainly benefited from playing on a line with fellow Hall-of-Famers Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy, but nonetheless was a skilled player who wasn't afraid to mix it up and spend some time in the box.  He'll always be fondly remembered by Islanders fans for his role in back-to-back-to-back-to-back Cup championships in the early '80s.  I love all the fans in shirts, ties and jackets in this photo.

Well, that helped me feel a bit better I guess.  These six bring me up to an even 40 autographs from the 2012-13 Panini Classics Signatures set!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Grab Bag - Red Sox Relics, Baseball's Shortest Player & Serial Numbered Hockey

For today's grab bag post, here are ten random cards that I stumbled across while cleaning and organizing in my card room this past week...

We'll start off with some very appropriate Red Sox relics from the last time they won a World Series, 2007.  From the Goudey set, Curt Schilling.  2007 Goudey was the set that got me back into collecting cards, and at one point I had built up a few dozen of these game-used inserts.  I sold most of them off a couple years back, but kept Schilling...

...and Manny Ramirez.  My favorite thing about these is that they're smaller in size, comparable to the original Goudey cards from the '30s.

Here's another Ramirez, also from 2007, this time a bat from the Bowman Heritage set.  Pulled this one myself from a pack way back when.  If the Sox end up winning it this year it will be hard to overlook the offensive contributions from this guy:

Ortiz has been a machine so far in the Series, but with no DH for the next three games either he or Mike Napoli will be riding the pine.  I don't see how you can possibly sit Ortiz when he's swinging the bat like he has been.  This one here's a chrome parallel from 2010 Topps Heritage, numbered to 1,961 copies, and was snagged from the dollar box at my LCS.

Here's another one from that same dollar box.  This new addition to my Nolan Ryan collection comes from 2003 Sweet Spot Classic.

Another new Nolan Ryan.  I actually bought this years ago.  It's an eTopps card that was given out at various events in 2006, including the National and some other larger shows.  This one doesn't have a foil stamp indicating which show it's from, so maybe it's from some overstock or something.

I don't recall where I got this card, but I know it was relatively early in my return to collecting, most likely in 2007.  I'm so glad I finally scanned and added this one to my cataloged collection, Gaedel is a strange and fascinating figure in baseball's past.  In case you don't know, the 3' 7", 65-pound Gaedel, who suffered from dwarfism, actually took a Major League at-bat for the St. Louis Browns in 1951, wearing uniform number 1/2 (correction, as noted in the comments Eddie actually wore the number 1/8).  Think what you will of this odd publicity stunt, but I'm glad to have it documented on cardboard.

This Eiffel Tower mini from 2007 Allen & Ginter is the no number back version, another new addition to my small collection of Eiffel Tower on cardboard.

Closing it out for today are a couple of hockey cards from the dollar box.  This Teemu Selanne is an Elite insert from 1993-94 Donruss.  These cards were great pulls back in the day, numbered to a scant 10,000!  Couldn't pass up all that shininess for a buck though, and I love that Teemu is still playing!

Finally, a 2002-03 Foundations Phil Esposito, numbered to 1,250.  Not really sure why I grabbed this one, will probably trade it away someday...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Signature Sundays - Will Middlebrooks

What a tremendous couple of weeks it has been for Red Sox fans, watching the team basically steal a series out from under the Detroit Tigers.  To celebrate, I'm taking it back to baseball for this week's Signature Sundays post...

A few weeks back I was fortunate enough to land this beautiful Will Middlebrooks on-card auto from 2013 Topps Museum Collection.  I have no idea what this product is, but it sounds expensive.  All I know is that this card was not expensive.

Will has been inconsistent so far in his two years of Major League play, and he's spent some time in AAA as a result.  He's got loads of potential though, and can really rake the ball when he's going right.  In his first two seasons with Boston, Middlebrooks has played just over the equivalent of one season's worth of games (169).  During that time he's batting a disappointing .254 (thanks to a terrible .227 mark this season), but has managed some impressive power numbers with 32 doubles, 32 HR and 103 RBI.  The team must believe in him, because he's been on the roster the entire post-season so far, though he's struggled like many of Boston's bats.

Do I believe in him?  Yes.  I think he's still very young, but has the raw talent to be a consistent contributor in Boston's lineup at the very least.  I certainly believe in him enough to shell out $11.49 with free shipping to add his John Hancock to my Red Sox autograph collection!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

1953 Topps Project - Forrest Main

The latest addition to my 1953 Topps baseball set is card #198, Forrest Main of the Pittsburgh Pirates:

Forrest Harry Main, affectionately known as "Woody", didn't have much of a career at the Major League level to speak of.  He came up in the Yankees minor league system in the 1940s, but never cracked the big league roster with the team.  Main was away from the game for a while serving in World War II, another of the inspiring athletes of his generation who represented the United States during those tumultuous times.

He was eventually claimed by the Pirates and made his MLB debut in 1948.  He played four of the next six seasons with the Bucs, appearing 79 times in total.  His most action by far was in '52, when he took the mound 48 times for what is often regarded as one of the worst teams in baseball history.  Either way, cool card...I love the wood backdrop and the old time Pirates logo.

They can't all be superstars but hey, I'm now one card closer to finishing my set.

Set Progress:  57 of 274 (21%)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Johnny Pesky and the Case of the Homogenized Bread - I Need Your Help!

Do you love a good baseball card mystery?  If so, then grab a seat by the fireplace, fire up your corn cob pipe a la Sherlock Holmes, and read on, because I need your help!

Today I checked out a brand new hobby shop that I'd never been to, about half an hour from my house.  The owner turned out to be a great guy who, like me, loves vintage.  He's an older gentleman who's been collecting for decades, and has had his own shop for around 25 years now.  He had some amazing stuff, just boxes and boxes of really fantastic vintage cards.  He even had a lot of the oddball stuff that you don't see all that often (at least I don't!) like Berk Ross and Red Man tobacco cards from the '50s, etc.  Anyway, I ended up hanging out there chatting with the guy for almost two hours about cards and players from the golden era of baseball, all the while shuffling through his boxes and display cases.  He even took out extra shoeboxes jammed with vintage from his back room to let me shuffle through.  In the end, I purchased three single cards for my Red Sox collection.

This one, I was particularly excited about.  It's a 1947 Bond Bread Johnny Pesky.  Same height as a standard modern-day trading card, but slightly thinner.  I had never seen these before, so I assumed that they were maybe hand-cut from cardboard bread boxes.  According to the shop owner though, each bag of Bond Bread released at the time contained a single card inside.  Immediately I was drawn to this awesome piece of cardboard, which would become the oldest Pesky card in my collection.

I was especially interested because he had it priced at $20 and was willing to negotiate a little.  Now, normally I will not buy a card like this without some research.  I did a quick look-up on eBay from the shop and found only a handful available for sale.  They seemed to match in size, same photo, etc. and most were demanding much more than $20.  If I had been sitting at home on my couch considering purchasing this online, more research would have been conducted, but standing there in the hobby shop I decided to take a gamble and go for it.  I grabbed Pesky...

...and this awesome Bobby (or "Bobbie") Doerr.  I think this one might be even cooler than the Pesky.  Great shot of the Hall-of-Famer with a nice ballpark backdrop.  I was pretty psyched to land the pair, which actually represents 50% of a Red Sox team set, for $35.  I was happy to shell that out for a HOF great and a new Pesky card, both more than 65 years old!

The card backs were blank, but this didn't surprise me based on the nature of the set, and they definitely showed signs of aging as you can see.

This afternoon when I returned I began researching the cards, and here's where the mystery begins.  I discovered there were two "Bond Bread" sets released in 1947.  The actual, proper Bond Bread set contains just 13 cards, all depicting Jackie Robinson.  The Homogenized Bread set contains 44 baseball cards, (of 44 unique subjects) and 4 boxers.  So, now I know these are 1947 Homogenized Bread cards...or are they?

I noticed upon closer inspection of the cards listed online that many had rounded corners, and my cards are square.  This is where it gets really murky, and I'm hoping someone that reads this may have an answer (if one exists, that is).  Some people claim that the original cards all had rounded corners.  The rumor is that a stash of uncut sheets containing 24 of the original 48 cards was discovered in a warehouse in the 1980s and cut to make the square cards.  You can read more about that here.  To make matters worse, apparently the cards discovered in the '80s were reprinted and "graded" by some fake card companies in the early 2000s.  On top of that, when your only differentiating factor between authentic and fraud is "rounded corners", then any moron with a pair of scissors can go about making his card a true original.  This starts to get like the moon landing or the JFK assassination after a while, with some even suggesting that the 24 discovered in the '80s are additional cards that don't even have originals!  Just keep reading through the thread in that last hyperlink and you will see there are dozens of theories out there.

I can tell the cards I have are older than ten years or so just by the fade and damage to the backs so I'm confident they're not reprints from post-2000, but beyond that I just don't know.  If they're from the '80s though, then why are they referred to as 1947 Homogenized Bread, even by legitimate grading companies like PSA?

So, do you have any information on Bond/Homogenized Bread cards from 1947?  What should I do?  Do I have a couple of cards printed and distributed in 1947?  Or were they printed in 1947, left untouched for decades, and then discovered in the '80s?  Or worse, did some "entrepreneur" print these up in the '80s for a cash grab?  Should I go back to the hobby shop and demand an exchange, or do I just settle for the fact that I'll never possibly be able to know regardless of which copies of these cards I buy, and just enjoy them for what they are?  Are there answers out there to any of these questions???

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Signature Sundays - Dave Taylor

This weeks autograph is longtime Los Angeles Kings great Dave Taylor...

Dave played his entire 17-season NHL career with the Kings.  He appeared in 1,111 games with the team, depositing 431 goals and over 1,000 points.  He wasn't afraid to mix it up either, as is evidenced by his 1,500+ career PIM.  Playing alongside Marcel Dionne and Charlie Simmer, the trio was dubbed the Triple Crown line, and was one of the best scoring combinations in franchise history.  Taylor has his #18 retired by the Kings, and rightfully so.  He stayed involved with the team as GM when his playing career ended, and is now with the St. Louis Blues organization.

As an added bonus, here are a couple of my personal favorite Taylor cards...

Dave has a special place in my collecting heart, as he is one of the 196 players featured in the 1989-90 Topps hockey set, the first Topps hockey set I ever collected.  This is how I remember Dave, in black LA Kings sweater with his trademark visor.

Here's a much younger Dave from another of my favorite '80s sets, 1981-82 Topps.

Finally, a great look at Taylor's visor from the 1993-94 Pinnacle release.  I'm happy to have Dave included in my autograph collection.  He's the 34th autograph I've been able to pick up from the 2012-13 Panini Classics Signatures set...

Friday, October 11, 2013

Adrian Gonzalez, We Hardly Knew Ye - NLCS Edition

I figured with Adrian Gonzalez and the LA Dodgers on the verge of the NLCS, it was an appropriate time to post some additions to my Gonzalez Red Sox collection.  Today's post will get me much closer to my goal of acquiring 100 unique Gonzalez Red Sox cards by year's end...

Most of today's commons come from a bulk Sportlots order.  This 2011 Donruss Elite Extra Edition card is atrocious.  I just can't stand unlicensed crap like this, this is definitely a case of a player collection making me buy a card that I never would otherwise.

Here's Adrian's 2011 Bowman base card...

...and the Gold parallel.

Finally tracked down the Topps Lineage base card...

..and this one, which looks the same but is the Venezuelan back insert:

A duo of Diamond Duos.  Not a fan of these at all, just feels like Topps mailing it in to me.

Chrome version of the 2011 Bowman card from above.  I've actually got one of the four printing plates that was used to make this one.

I grabbed both of the Bowman Platinum base cards that feature Gonzalez with Boston.  This is the 2011 version.

Here's a Vintage Chrome insert from 2011 Topps Chrome.

2011 Opening Day base card...

...and Stadium Lights insert from the same Opening Day set.

2012 Bowman Gold parallel...

...and here's the other Bowman Platinum card, the 2012 version.

Closing out the base cards is a trio from 2012 Topps Heritage.  A floating Gonzalez head on the AL Batting Leaders card...

...Adrian and Big Papi in the dugout on the Red Sox Smashers card...

...and Adrian's base card, featuring the chain link fence backdrop seen on so many cards in last year's Heritage release.  That's 17 new base cards, not bad for one post, but I was also able to pick up a new autograph for very little money over the summer:

This on-card auto is from the 2012 Gypsy Queen release, and it's a pretty sharp looking card.  Gonzalez doesn't have the most interesting signature but this one is nice and large, and well placed.

I snagged this card for what seemed like a criminally low price of just $5.50.  It's my third Gonzalez autograph, and definitely the least amount I've shelled out for any of the three.

I'll be rooting for the Dodgers in the NLCS, as I think it would be really interesting to see a Red Sox/Dodgers World Series.  Those two teams would fascinate me as it is, but even more so in light of last season's blockbuster trade!

Adrian Gonzalez Red Sox Cards - Count

Total Cards - 84

#'d /2011 - 1
#'d /999 - 1
#'d/562 - 1
#'d/199 - 1
#'d/100 - 2
#'d/99 - 1
#'d/75 - 1
#'d /60 -2
#'d/50 - 2
#'d/25 - 2
#'d/10 - 2
1/1 - 8
Relics - 2
Silk - 1
Autographs - 3
Printing Plates - 7
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