Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cardboard Classics - 1992 Whitehall Babe Ruth Hologram

Just a quick one today as Thursdays are my long, 14-16 hour workdays.

I pulled this from a 100-cards-for-$5 repack a week or two ago, and I thought it was kind of cool.  I'd never seen these 1992 Whitehall "Legends to Life" holograms before (although I'm sure those of you who buy repacks more frequently than I do might have).  There's something kind of odd about seeing a player from nearly 100 years ago in holographic form, but it's a cool old-time photo and I actually kind of like the simple design of the card.

The back lets me know that this card was limited to just 150,000 copies.  I will definitely store it in a magnetic one-touch holder in the small, fireproof safe I have at home, so that if we ever have kids I can sell it to pay for my son's/daughter's college tuition!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Why I Paid $4 to Ship a Single Common (& Your Olympic Champions!)

A recent comment left by a reader of this blog led me to tracking down, at long last, the final card I needed to complete my 2008-09 O-Pee-Chee Retro parallel set!  After five plus long years, card #368, Gilbert Brule, arrived in my mailbox this past week:

I know, not the world's most exciting card, but to me it's priceless.  I would have literally paid $10 for a copy of this, so I was more than happy to shell out $4 in shipping charges for a card that cost me $.77 in the Beckett Marketplace.  Gilbert is now happily at home with 599 other companions in the binder that houses this set.  I'll be doing one or two more posts on this great set in the near future, but for now here's a look at some 2014 Olympic gold medalists who were included on the checklist...

What a great feeling to remove this set off my want list after nearly 6 long years.  I would like to thank the many bloggers that contributed to my quest over the years, whether you sent me one card or dozens I really appreciate the generosity, without the online collecting community it's doubtful I would have ever knocked this one out!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Wade Boggs Rookie Trifecta Complete!

Last month I decided to dedicate a very small chunk of my hobby budget to an '80s single that had been on my want list for entirely too long:

Wade Boggs was one of the greatest hitters to ever wear a Red Sox uniform, and for $6 with free shipping I can finally say that his 1983 Fleer rookie card is all mine.  I'm sure I could have tracked this down for less had I really spent a lot of time on it, but this copy's in great shape with good centering and from an eBay seller that I trust and have purchased from many times in the past.

I realize that it's not the world's most exciting card, but as a Red Sox collector it does fill a huge gap in the decade of the '80s.  Even better, it was the final Boggs rookie I needed of the big three.

The '83 Fleer can now join my personal favorite, the '83 Topps, in my monster box of Sox cards that are nice enough for toploaders or magnetic one-touch cases.  To me, this is the quintessential Boggs RC, as the '83 Topps design is light years better than its Fleer and Donruss counterparts.  Plus, it features both a portrait shot and a base-running photo on the same piece of cardboard.

Right next to those two sits the Donruss RC, to which I'd award the silver medal out of these three.

On second thought, I might rank the Fleer above this one since the Donruss back is an atrocious color and is devoid of minor league stats, something both Fleer and Topps included.  Knocking off this trio felt pretty good, I may have to do this with Roger Clemens next (shudder).

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Signature Sundays - Willie O'Ree!

A couple of weeks back I was fortunate enough to land another auto from one of my all-time favorite hockey autograph sets, the Brushstrokes cards from 2008-09 Upper Deck Legends Masterpieces.  Dave H posted a nice one earlier this week, which reminded me that I still had one sitting around to show.  Here's the latest addition to my hockey autograph collection:

Just a beautiful card, from the frame to the painting to the giant, bright blue, clearly legible auto, love it!  There's really no excuse for me taking this long to add this fantastic card to my collection.  For those of you who don't know or are mainly baseball collectors, O'Ree is the player who broke the color barrier in the NHL.  The fact that he played for my local team (and a city that does not always have the best reputation for tolerance in the history of professional sports) is just the icing on the cake.

This is actually my second O'Ree autograph, both of them on card, but I think I like this one a bit more than the first.  If you're an autograph collector Willie would be a great one to pick up, especially since you can always find his autos for less than $15 if you're patient!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Haven't I Seen These Before?

I'm not quite sure what possessed me to do it, but I couldn't seem to help myself from dabbling with the buyback cards inserted into the 2014 Topps baseball set.  I guess it was a perfect storm as a team collector who loves vintage and is also a sucker for parallels.  I picked up a handful of Red Sox cards to satisfy the urge.

No, this is not the Jerry Casale from Devo.  This is the Jerry Casale who pitched just a few seasons in the majors in the late '50s and early '60s.  I absolutely love 1960 Topps, if I'm ever delusional enough to try to complete a set from the 1960s this would be the one.  Here you can see the 'Topps 75' silver foil logo in the upper right of this buyback version.

Here's a '65 Topps Dennis Bennett.  Mr. Bennett was a sub-.500 pitcher over 7 seasons with a few different franchises.  Sadly, he passed away in 2012 at age 72.

This 1968 Topps Jerry Adair is kind of a cool card, as he had been acquired the season prior and was key to the amazing 1967 season enjoyed by Boston.  He was apparently known for being clutch at the plate.

John Curtis was dealt off following the 1973 season, so he wasn't in Boston for very long after this card was created.

1973 Topps have some of the best backs of all-time.  This one highlights Curtis' off-season hobby as a sportswriter, a practice he'd continue well into retirement.

Finally, the best of the bunch by a long shot, a 1973 Topps Bill Lee in amazing condition!

These are somewhat interesting I guess, and at least they didn't set me back much, I think around $10 for the lot.  I think I'll stick to buying the originals from now on though...

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

1953 Topps Project - Cal Abrams

The latest addition to my 1953 Topps baseball set is Mr. Cal Abrams of the Pittsburgh Pirates:

Cal sure seems happy to be featured on a '53 Topps card, doesn't he?  Well, between military service during World War II and a long climb through the minor leagues he didn't make his big league debut (with the Brooklyn Dodgers) until age 25.  Cracking the Dodgers' roster in the '50s was no easy trick, yet he was bound to the team with the reserve clause still in effect.  Eventually, the Dodgers dealt him to Cincinnati in 1952, and after finishing out that season with the Reds he joined the Pirates for '53.

1953 was Cal's best year by a long shot, his .286 batting average was a career high (if you don't count 1 hit in 3 at-bats for the White Sox to close out his career in 1956).  He also set career highs that season with 15 home runs (never hit more than 6 any other year) and 43 RBI (never had more than 32 any other year).  He'd play with Baltimore and then briefly with Chicago before retiring.

Cal's only other Topps card comes in the 1952 set, however he was featured in every Bowman release from 1951 through 1955.

Set Progress:  65 of 274 (24%)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Red Whale Harpooned - Diamond Stars Max Bishop

For years I've had a small running list of some of the harder-to-track-down Red Sox cards that I one day hope to own, my "red whales".  If you read this blog often, you won't be surprised to learn that the good majority of these cards were released prior to 1960 (one of the benefits of being a fan of a team that's been around well over 100 years).  I don't really bother posting them in my want list, because I think it's fair to say that not many people have T206's and American Caramel cards up for trade.  So I just keep a list of them in my head, set up some saved eBay searches, and go on the hunt.  Recently I was able to track down a nice one...

Max Bishop here represents my very first Diamond Stars card.  These were released over a three-year period between 1934 and 1936, with some different backs, ink colors, etc used to identify the print year.  All told, there were 108 subjects, but dozens more cards in a master set if you were to pursue all the variations.  The cards were printed by National Chicle chewing gum company of Cambridge, MA.

I just love the brightly colored, almost surreal, art deco ballpark backgrounds on these cards.  The infield dirt, vibrant blue and red of the grandstands, and even the small yellow flag flying below Bishop's name still pop almost eight decades after printing.  I really like the small touch of the players' shadows as well.

Here's a better look at the front.  I never thought that when I finally tracked this card down I'd be able to land one in anywhere near this condition, but for the price I couldn't pass this one up.  If I were to buy a hobby box of 2014 Topps today ($54.99 at Dave and Adam's Card World), it would cost me more than I spent on this card.  A lot more.  I will certainly never need to upgrade this copy, crease-free with awesome visual appeal.

The back does a great job of highlighting the one characteristic that Bishop was really known for in his playing days, a keen eye in the batter's box.  He nearly always collected 100 walks in a season, and had a career on base percentage well north of .400.  Max was a damn good second baseman as well, but was really known for his approach at the plate.

I couldn't be happier that after 79 years this little piece of cardboard has found its way to my Red Sox collection...

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Signature Sundays - Nomar Garciaparra!

Recently I was fortunate enough to land a very nice on-card autograph of one of my favorite Red Sox from the days of my childhood fandom, none other than Nomar Garciaparra:

I was 13 years old when Garciaparra made his big-league debut for the Sox in the summer of '96.  At that impressionable age it was almost impossible not to become a fan.  Nomar, with his goofy batter's box antics and flip-up shades (so glad they are pictured here), could flat out rake the ball.  Not only that, but he was an exciting shortstop to watch in the field, quickly establishing himself as one of the premier players at his position.

Over the years Nomar became a fan favorite in Boston, racking up batting titles, 30 HR and 100 RBI seasons, and plenty of MVP votes along the way.  I still remember watching many of his amazing performances at the plate, most notably his two grand slam, 10-RBI game against the Mariners in 1999.

Even if injuries and other issues led to his less-than-admirable departure from Boston, I've always had a soft spot for him given that he was my absolute favorite player for a good four or five year stretch there.  It's a shame that it took me this long to add his autograph to my collection, but I'm glad I waited because this is one beautiful card.

Monday, February 10, 2014

My First '51

Just a quick one tonight, featuring an eBay win that arrived in my mailbox a week or two ago:

Aside from being a very long overdue first '51 Topps card in my collection, it's one of my older Red Sox cards period.  To me, it's personally significant as well, since a 1950 Bowman Maurice McDermott was the vintage card that first sparked my interest in collecting many years ago.  I've sort of had a soft spot for the guy ever since.

This card, which is in pretty remarkable shape for being well over 60 years old now, set me back just $12 and change, around $15 shipped.  Why did I buy that blaster of 2014 Topps again?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Signature Sundays - Six More From Panini Classics Signatures

With the Winter Olympics in full swing, it's back to hockey for this week's Signature Sundays post.  Believe it or not I still have more to show from my favorite hockey set of last year, 2012-13 Panini Classics Signatures.  Today we'll look at half a dozen more on-card autos...

I thought Ken Morrow was an appropriate player to lead off this week's post with, given that he was a member of the 1980 'Miracle on Ice' US Men's Olympic hockey team!  He was a rugged, stay-at-home defenseman who played his entire NHL career for the Islanders.  He first joined the team immediately after those famed 1980 Olympics and won a Stanley Cup just a few months later.  What a year for a young kid!

Morrow would go on to be a contributing member of all four of the team's Stanley Cup wins in the early '80s.  Ken was plagued by constant knee issues during his playing days, which ultimately forced his early retirement during the 1988-89 season.  He's currently serving as Director of Pro Scouting for the Islanders.

Here's a guy who probably enjoyed watching Ken Morrow and his Olympic teammates pull off the 'Miracle on Ice' win, given that he was 13 years old at the time (and would attend boarding school in Lake Placid).  Mike Richter would wear the red, white and blue and represent team USA just a few years later at the '88 Winter Games in Calgary.

Mike is most famous for leading the Rangers to Stanley Cup victory in '94, one of the most exciting Finals series I've ever witnessed as a fan.  During that time period he was easily one of the top goaltenders in the game, period.  Later in his career, Mike would go on to represent team USA in two more winter Olympics, 1998 and 2002, and won a silver medal in the latter!  Richter is the Rangers all-time leader in wins, has his number retired by the team, and was elected to the US Hockey Hall of Fame.  If you have some time to read up about what he's done in his business life after hockey, it's equally impressive.  An interesting man for sure and an autograph I'm really excited to add to my hockey card collection!

Next up is Keith Primeau.  I was always a fan of Keith's just because he was a very high draft pick (3rd overall) right as I started to get heavily into the game.  He ended up playing for my beloved Hartford Whalers at one point, and stuck with the franchise when they moved to Carolina before winding down his career with the Flyers.

Primeau was a very solid player for sure, named an All-Star more than once and serving as Captain for two different franchises.  He came close on a couple of occasions but was never able to capture that elusive Stanley Cup.

Ken Linseman actually began his playing career with the Birmingham Bulls of the WHA.  When he transitioned to the NHL he saw action with the Flyers, Oilers, Bruins and Maple Leafs (just two games) before his playing days came to an end.  Little known fact, he was actually briefly a Hartford Whaler, having been traded there by the Flyers in August of 1982, but then was turned right around to Edmonton same day.

He was a crucial part of the 1984 Stanley Cup Champion Oilers, especially in the playoffs, but despite that was traded away after the season to the Bruins, missing out on the next three Edmonton championships.  Linseman was known as a scrappy player, but sometimes went overboard.  Check out this article from the Ottawa Citizen, August 1977, about an incident where he bit another player then stomped on his forehead with his skate blade.  No, I'm not kidding.

This card of Ron Hextall's uncle, Dennis, is one of the nicer looking photos in the set, and what a great signature to boot.  Dennis really got around the NHL, playing for the Rangers, Kings, Golden Seals, North Stars, Red Wings and Capitals.  It makes sense that he's depicted as a North Star in this set, as the best three-season stretch of his career came with the team in the mid-'70s.  Hextall was serving as the team captain at the time and averaged over a point per game during that stretch.

Finally, one of the autographs from this set that I wanted more than most when I first saw it, Mr. Terry O'Reilly.  Terry is thought of by most Bruins fans as one of the all-time greats.  He played his entire NHL career with Boston, and could certainly mix it up and throw down the gloves (200+ PIM from '77-78 through '81-82 for example!).

Happy Gilmore's favorite hockey player had some skill too, scoring 20+ goals quite a few times and regularly recording 50+ point seasons (even had a 90-point campaign in the late '70s).  O'Reilly even coached the team briefly after his retirement, and led them to the Stanley Cup Finals.  His number was retired by the team back in 2002.

Six more great autographs from Panini, these take me to 90 in total from this set.  I've still got more to come in future Signature Sundays posts...
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