Sunday, June 29, 2014

Signature Sundays - Perreault, Bower & Goulet

Getting towards the finish line here with the 2012-13 Panini Classics Signatures autographs that I have to show.  Today I've got three members of the Hockey Hall of Fame: 

Gilbert Perreault played his entire 17-year NHL career for the Buffalo Sabres franchise.  That means he never won a Cup, but he was the center for the team's famous "French Connection" line, with Rick Martin and Rene Robert on the wings.  Perreault was a 9-time all-star (twice the official Second Team center), won the Calder and Lady Byng Trophies, and got elected to the Hall of Fame in 1990.

With over 500 career goals and 1,300 career points, Gilbert holds virtually every offensive record for the Sabres franchise and probably will for some time.  He's got a very nice autograph as well, the best of the three we'll look at today.

Johnny Bower actually fought in World War II before initially joining the New York Rangers back in the early 1950s.  He was the goaltender for all those Leafs Cup winners in the '60s, the same teams that Red Kelly (who I featured last Sunday) played on.  Johnny was inducted in 1976, and is still kicking at age 89!  What a great photo on this card as well, from a time before goalie masks!

Last but not least, a fantastic new Nordiques autograph in the form of Michel Goulet.  Michel definitely took advantage of the space offered by the on card autograph format, that is one large signature!  Michel was traded to the Blackhawks just as I was becoming a fan, so I always think of him with Chicago.  Quebec was the team he came up with, played the majority of his career with, and logged the most points with though.

Goulet actually began his professional career with the Birmingham Bulls of the WHA before being drafted by the Nordiques in the NHL expansion draft.  He managed to net 548 career goals before a severe concussion knocked him out of the game for good in the mid-'90s.  He became a member of the Hall of Fame in 1998.

There were 113 autographs in this release, if you don't count SP or SSP cards, which have sold for unreal amounts and I don't plan on chasing unless I see a bargain.  These three make 109 now shown here on the blog, which means I've got just four left to go.  I should have this series wrapped up soon and be moving onto some other autographs from my collection.  Hope you're enjoying them in the meantime...

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Suckered In - The Final Three Packs

Time to finally finish this 10-pack discount box from Target off.  It took me two entire months to get through the thing, not too shabby for $10.

Today's post features the final three packs, starting off with 2012-13 Score...

I thought Panini's first Score release a couple years before this one was a decent effort, and I really like the 2013-14 Score offering.  This one I had little or no exposure to.  7 cards in the pack...

Pretty bland set, at least that's my first opinion.

I have to wonder at some of the photo selections.  They certainly improved on that in the next set.

See what I mean?

This might actually be my favorite card in the pack.  I guess.

My insert was this First Goal card of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.  I sort of like the first goal concept for an insert set, and this is just my second card of the young Oilers center.

Here's the one-per-pack obligatory Gold parallel.  I pulled this shortly after giving away a Jamie McGinn autograph here on the blog actually.

That pack was a dud, I'm not going to sugar-coat it.  Every single card comes from a team who at the time was in the Western Conference, so being on the East Coast and a fan of the Bruins I haven't seen a whole lot of guys like McGinn, Spaling and Comeau.  Oh well, onto the next pack!

This is more up my alley, I'm a sucker for most anything retro, and we've got #4 Bobby Orr on the wrapper.  The only disappointing thing is that 4 is also the number of cards you get per pack...

One of the game's superstars, and card #1 on the set's checklist, right out of the gate.  This pack is already better than the Score one.  I think these would have looked much nicer if all the photos were black and white (I think there might be a parallel like that?), but what I like best are the backs:

My one (small) gripe is that the team fact should be about the team the player is on rather than just a random team.  Other than that, these look awesome.  To me this is one of those rare cases where a card back is so good it actually outshines the front...

That's one Hall-of-Famer and one lock for the Hall in a four card pack!

In closing a guy who began his career with the Hartford Whalers!  That was certainly an enjoyable pack.

The very last pack of the box was another 32-card rack pack of 2012-13 O-Pee-Chee.  This is the same kind of pack that I began this box with.  I won't show you all 32 cards, but here are a handful of highlights...

I didn't have more than one or two of the 32 cards, so I guess the pack was a win in that sense, although it's not like I'm chasing this set or anything.

My retro parallel was halfway decent, as I pulled Alexander Semin of the Capitals.  He's with the Hurricanes now, and they must be pleased with his play because they inked him to a 5-year contract extension last year to the tune of $35 million.

I had nearly forgotten that Brian Rolston returned to the Bruins for the final 21 games of his career.  Despite the fact that age was clearly taking its toll, Rolston managed an impressive 15 points in those final 21 games, and even contributed a goal and a couple of assists in the playoffs.  Brian's NHL career ended when Joel Ward of the Capitals scored in overtime in game 7 of the first round series between the Bruins and the Capitals that season.

You'll enjoy this card if you're a fan of:
-Vincent Lecavalier
-The Tampa Bay Lightning

I thought this was an interesting shot of Kiprusoff, and a unique card given that 2012-13 was his final season (although he is on the 2013-14 O-Pee-Chee checklist).

I like these pop-up inserts, though I don't plan to collect the set and I'm not partial to Corey Perry or the Ducks, so will likely trade this one away on Zistle at some point.

T.J. Oshie was a celebrity for about 5 minutes during the past Winter Olympics.

That wasn't so bad I guess.  I've certainly blown $10 on much worse, and spreading these packs out and exercising some patience made this last about two months.  At a buck a pack there's certainly no buyer's remorse anyway, especially when I pulled Crosby, Ovechkin, a new Krejci, trade bait and even a dual relic.  I could see myself picking up another one of these someday, but who knows...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Caramel - The Alternative to Tobacco

When most collectors think of really, really old baseball cards they think of the ones packaged with tobacco.  Indeed many of the all-time classics hail from tobacco sets, T206 chief among them.  I managed to land my very first T206 a couple of months ago, and I do think they're fascinating cards.  I'm equally intrigued however, by one of the other major players in cards from this era, caramel companies!

They might not be as flashy, or as well known as their tobacco counterparts, but there were definitely some very interesting baseball cards pulled out of boxes of candy treats in the early part of the 20th century.  I've managed to land a few of them as part of the pre-war baseball card kick I've been on in recent months, and finally had some time to share the first today:

Pretty cool, huh?  American Caramel formed in the late 1800s when some competitors bought up Hershey's caramel operation.  All of their baseball card releases though (save maybe one?) came in the 20th century.  As the PSA slab indicates, this one hails from their 1922 release, later classified as E120 by collectors.  There are 240 total cards in this set.  The cards feature black and white photos (more on that in a minute) inside a very ornate illustrated frame.  At the bottom you've got player name, position, city and league!

I obviously know very little about the card's subject, Elmer Smith, who was born in 1892 and passed away when I was just one year old.  It's funny that he ended up as one of the 15 Red Sox on the checklist though, because 1922 was actually the only season he'd play for Boston in his MLB career.  Interesting bit of bar room trivia, he was the first player ever to hit a grand slam in the World Series!  That was back in 1920 with the Cleveland Indians, who won it all that season.

Now, back to the card itself...

Here's a better look.  I really love the design.  The frame around the photograph features a bat and catcher's gear in upper left, bat and glove upper right, and some ballplayers along the bottom.  The thing I like best about these though is the use of actual photos.  So many of the cards from this era feature paintings, and while those are interesting in their own rite, there's just something that I love about seeing an actual photograph taken on a baseball diamond nearly 100 years ago now.  Same reason I always liked the Conlon baseball cards from the early '90s I guess.

As far as this photo goes, look at those feet!  Is that really a proper batting stance Elmer?

Here's a look at the back.  Many of the tobacco cards I've seen, including the T206's, are just a giant advertisement on the back.  In this case we do have a very small ad along the bottom to let you know that this was printed and distributed by American Caramel Co., however the majority of the back is saved for a team checklist.  If you ask me, this is a very solid card back for 1922!

I'm not delusional enough to think that I'll ever gather all 15 Red Sox from this set.  They seem to be fairly rare; according to PSA they've only graded three other examples a VG-EX 4 like my copy, and only one single card higher than that.  I would like to at least grab a couple more Sox from this set though if I happen to encounter them, and my budget allows.

What's your take on caramel cards?  Inferior to tobacco?  Superior?  Do you have any caramel cards of your own?  If so, and you've posted about them, it would be great if you'd leave a link in the comments so I can check it out...

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Signature Sundays - Red Kelly

In today's Signature Sundays post, I'll continue with the 2012-13 Panini Classics Signatures autographs.  Just one card today, featuring Hall-of-Famer Red Kelly of the Detroit Red Wings:

I really love this card just because of how long ago Kelly played.  Red (real name Leonard) began his NHL career with the 'Wings all the way back in 1947!  As you can see from the awesome black and white photo, these were the days before plexi-glass when solutions like chicken wire were used above the boards to keep the puck in play.

Kelly was a part of four Stanley Cup winning teams in Detroit, usually playing defense but occasionally playing up on forward when needed due to his formidable puck skills.  In a dozen seasons with the Red Wings, Red was a First Team All-Star six times, won a Norris Trophy as top defenseman in the league and captured multiple Lady Byng Trophies.

Red was so effective offensively that when the Red Wings dealt him to Toronto in the early '60s he converted to center with the Leafs.  He'd become a prolific goal scorer, and lead the Leafs to four Stanley Cup wins as well!  Getting your name engraved on the greatest trophy in sports eight times is pretty unreal.

The fact that Red won four championships each with two different franchises, while playing two different positions, is just amazing.  At the end of the last century, when The Hockey News compiled a list of the 100 greatest players of all-time, Kelly made the list at #22.  Even if you grant that he's slipped a bit since that list was compiled, he's still within the top 30 to ever play the game by most accounts.

Red Kelly is my 106th autograph from what is, in my opinion, the best set that Panini released during their recent run with an NHL license.  Still got a few more of these to come in future posts...

Friday, June 20, 2014

1953 Topps Project - Grady Hatton - 25% Benchmark!

Today let's look at the 70th card I've been able to acquire from the legendary 1953 Topps baseball set, card #45 on the checklist, Grady Hatton of the Cincinnati Reds...

I confess that I don't know too much about Grady as a player, though he did enjoy a 12 year career at the Major League level.  He played for six teams in total, including my beloved Red Sox.  When his playing days were through, he stayed involved with the game at a coaching/executive level, and is probably best known as being the manager for the upstart Astros in the mid-'60s.

As far as the card itself goes, Grady's flashing a nice smile and there's quite a bit more going on in the background than you typically see with these paintings, including what looks like a large water tank beyond the outfield wall.

This card's a big one for me, because I've officially crossed (without having to round up) the 25% threshold as far as my set goes!  Sure, I've still got names like Mantle, Robinson and Mays to track down, but hitting the 1/4 mark feels pretty darn rewarding regardless of which cards got me there.

Set Progress:  70 of 274 (26%)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

2012 Topps Randomness

A while back I picked up a 24-pack retail box of 2012 Topps Series 2 on the cheap.  I still have the majority of it unopened, but I have ripped into a few more packs in the weeks since it arrived.  For around 60 cents per pack it's been providing some good, cheap entertainment.  Sure, like any Series 2 set there are a bunch of cards of no-name guys on the D'Backs and Marlins that I've never heard of.  For someone who enjoys a well-done base card like myself though, there are some gems to be found.  Here are a few favorites from the packs I've opened so far, in no particular order:

Kicking things off is a nice play-at-the-plate shot of a guy who's having a very solid 2014 campaign.  I'm a sucker for a good horizontal card, and this one certainly qualifies.  As you'll see, my box seemed to be heavily loaded with Tigers for some reason, which is alright in my book given that they were your AL Champs the year this set was released.

Justin Verlander's dominance on the mound may be in an absolute free-fall right now (especially in his last two starts), but this is one fantastic card.  I know the over-abundance of minis is getting old at this point, but 1987 Topps was right in my collecting wheelhouse as a kid.  Combine that with a great retro uniform and an interesting photo and I'm a fan...

Tim Lincecum had a rough start to 2012 to say the least, but played very well once converted to a reliever, including some great post-season performances en route to the Giants' second World Series Championship in 3 years.

I remember seeing quite a bit of this card when the set came out a couple years ago, nice to have my own copy of this interesting shot.

So far I've stumbled across two well done horizontal celebration photos, both of D-Back players...

Verlander's base card is a cardboard classic in my book.  I know this angle isn't as original as it may have been 20 years ago, but this photo is perfect in terms of the placement of the outfielder, umpire, Verlander, the ball, and even a bit of the batter.

Barry Zito's still a free agent, so it's entirely possible that 2012 will end up being his last really good year as a pitcher.  He was your World Series Game 1 winner in 2012.

I could see someone complaining that this card was just a cheap attempt to get another Jeter on the checklist, since he was already featured in Series 1.  I don't mind it though, as most games played for the Yankees is no small feat, and the photo choice isn't half bad either.

Again, I'm a fan of these.  They're sort of like the Season Highlights cards from the older sets.

In closing, yet another Tiger.  This one's a die cut and has been added to my trade list on Zistle.  I don't think it will take me too long to unload it, I'd imagine there are plenty of Miggy collectors out there with the career he's put together.

Well, there you have it.  I'll probably post a few more favorites from this set once I get through another chunk of packs...

Monday, June 16, 2014

I'm Back with Marty McManus

Last week completely beat me down. An intense five-day training for work had me leaving my house every day at 5:45am and getting home around 8pm. Have you ever had your own house feel sort of like a hotel to you? If so, then you understand where I'm coming from.  Not only did I not post a single time here all week, but I hardly read another blog either.  Come Saturday I was ready to catch up on a week of missed activity and do some good ol' fashioned relaxing.  Instead, I had a weekend full of things like dentist appointments, pet appointments, company over for dinner, etc.

I'm finally returning to a somewhat normal schedule, and to dip my toes back in the blogging water I've got just a single card tonight, my latest addition in my attempt to complete a 1933 Goudey Red Sox team set:

I confess that I don't know too much about Marty McManus.  He died nearly two decades before I was even born, and it's not like he was well known enough that I read about him in baseball books as a kid.  Even his time in Boston was limited.  He was traded to the team during the 1931 season, and would serve as player/manager for the latter half of 1932 as well as 1933, before the team let him go.  I do find the player/manager to be a very interesting dynamic, and one of those things that I think we can safely say we'll never see again in the modern sport.

Here's a better look at Marty, once again in really great shape for a "low grade" card.  Not the world's most exciting image but any cardboard more than eight decades old is automatically impressive to me.

Marty marks my fifth Red Sox card from this set, leaving me just three more to chase down.  I'm thinking I may knock this one out in 2014 after all.  Alright, off to read some blogs...
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