Monday, August 31, 2015

El Guapo & Friends

The latest batch of 9 Red Sox from my friend Mark Kaz arrived last week, let's take a look!

The highlight of the delivery for me was this Upper Deck MVP Rich Garces.  I think most Red Sox fans figured this guy was a scrap heap pick-up when the Sox signed him prior to the 1996 season, but he actually turned into a very reliable bullpen guy for a good stretch of years there. 

As famous for his "figure" as for his pitching ability, he was never the same guy after losing some weight at the request of the team, and pitched his final MLB inning in 2002.  Somehow this is my very first Garces card despite closing in on 5,000 unique Sox cards at this point!

Here's a nice pre-caveman Johnny Damon from 2003 Topps Opening Day.  I think I've stated this before, but Mark does an awesome job of sending me new cards that are from my collecting "dead zone" (1997 to 2006 or so).  I don't seem to find cards from this era all too often, so it's nice that someone is looking out for those years for me.

Here's a nice 1995 Upper Deck John Valentin that I've yet to pull from the retail box I've slowly been busting my way through (and I mean slowly; have had it nearly a year now and have ripped maybe half of the packs).

I got a kick out of Tim Wakefield's full name (Timothy Stephen Wakefield) being used for the facsimile signature on this 2006 Bowman release.  Does Tim always sign this way?  Seems unlikely to me, but he's one guy I do not have a certified autograph of to compare against...

Prior to receiving this package, I had exactly one card from 2005 Donruss Studio, and it was also Curt Schilling (not this exact card, but an insert).

Jose Vaquedano came tantalizingly close to making the Major Leagues, getting as high as AAA Pawtucket, but has been out of pro ball for over 5 years now.

Jason Bay had a season and a half of really productive baseball with Boston before moving on to the Mets.  When he finished up with Boston in 2009 he looked like one of the best hitters in the game, but he deteriorated rather quickly with New York and was out of baseball after his age 34 season.

Derek Lowe is also retired now.  Man, this PWE is making me feel old!

I'll close out with the most obscure card in the package, but one I really appreciate.  I've recently been starting to tally how many of the all-time Red Sox players I have cards for.  Until this PWE arrived, Kevin Tolar was missing from that list, now I can cross him off!  With just 6 career games in a Red Sox uniform this is the definition of obscure!

Mark, thanks for another awesome batch o' Sox!  Got a return package sent off late last week, hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

1953 Topps Project - Jim Hegan

After spending the day out kayaking in the sun, I'm exhausted. How about a quick 1953 Topps Project post as a night-cap?

Jim Hegan was born in Massachusetts, and was signed by the Cleveland Indians coming out of high school in 1938.  Jim worked his way through the farm system and eventually made his big league debut with Cleveland in 1941.  Like so many from his generation, he stepped away from the game during the 1942 season to get involved in the war effort (in Jim's case, the Coast Guard).

When things on that front quieted down, Hegan returned to Cleveland for the 1946 season, and became the team's primary catcher.  He never swung a huge bat, and wasn't known for his offensive prowess, but was recognized as one of the best defensive catchers/pitching staff managers in the game.  His selection for the 1947 American League All-Star team is proof of this (a feat he'd accomplish four more times in his career).

Jim was a key member of the 1948 World Series Champion Cleveland Indians team.  He even received some MVP consideration that year, as he posted better offensive numbers, and the Cleveland pitching staff absolutely dominated.

Jim's tenure as the Indians' primary backstop lasted a full 11 seasons, from 1946 to 1956.  Prior to the '58 season he was dealt to the Tigers.  He'd go on to play with the Phillies, Giants and Cubs before retiring after the 1960 season.  He was signed by the Yankees at the tail end of that 1960 season, but never appeared in a game. 

As I mentioned above, Hegan was widely regarded as a top, maybe the top, defensive catcher of his day.  You don't have to look hard to find quotes from multiple HOF pitchers, and opponents even, saying just that.  Had he been able to swing the stick just a bit better, he'd probably be a HOFer or at the very least a household name.

After his playing career came to an end, Hegan accepted a position as bullpen coach with the Yankees, and is credited for helping to bring along guys like Thurman Munson, which is kind of cool.  Sadly, he passed away at the age of 63 back in 1984.

Set Progress:  75 of 274 (27%)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Taking Advantage of Combined Shipping

Quick post tonight.  Just 10 cards, but some great photos nonetheless.  I had picked up a pair of cards from a seller on Sportlots who charged the same flat rate to ship up to 10 cards.  Of course I did what any good collector would do and found 8 cards at the bare minimum price of 18 cents each to round out the order.

Let's see those 8 first...

Here's a great new addition to my small collection of cardboard that features the greatest trophy in sports, The Stanley Cup.  I will never get tired of cards showing players celebrating with this thing.  In this case, Bill Guerin's totally dated, mid-'90s championship T-shirt just takes it over the top.  Definitely one that was selected entirely for the photograph.

We'll get back to hockey in a minute, but first the 5 baseball cards that were a part of this lot.  I got my very first in-person look at 2015 Panini Diamond Kings, grabbing base cards of my two favorite current Red Sox players; Mookie Betts...

...and singles machine Xander Bogaerts.  I don't have much to add here that hasn't already been said.  It's hard for me to get past a lack of logos, but these cards are very well done aside from that.  I wish Panini could get an MLB license just for one season.  Upper Deck too.

I'm really enjoying the Topps Pro Debut minor league cards of late, which is why this 2012 Jonathan Singleton ended up in my cart.

The last two baseball cards were 2015 Topps Stadium Club set needs.  A nice post-delivery shot of Yankees pitcher Whitey Ford...

...and a killer black and white photograph of Frank Robinson from his days with Cincinnati.  I saw so much of this set on other blogs when it came out, yet somehow I am still finding gems like this that I don't recall having seen before.  Stadium Club really is the set that keeps on giving.

Alright, back to hockey.  I couldn't resist this awkward photograph of Eddie Belfour, which also gives a great look at his trademark eagle mask.  An interesting card, but it pales in comparison to this one, which would sit directly below Eddie here if you were to put this set in a binder:

I've wanted a copy of this one ever since I was tipped off to it by Brad of Coast to Posts.  Of all the great Stadium Club cards in my collection, this one's gotta be in the top 10.

That wraps up the 8 throw-ins, here are the two cards that kicked off the order to begin with:

I continue to plug away at the yellow parallels from 2009-10 Upper Deck Champ's hockey.  Inserted at just one-per-hobby-box, they're not the easiest cards to come across.  I scooped up HOFer Scott Niedermayer for $1.50, more than reasonable.

When I saw that the same seller had Al MacInnis here for an even $2, I was sold!  These two bring me to 17 out of the 100 available in the parallel set.  Who knows, maybe I'll get there someday after all...

A nice mix of cards there for about $5, not too shabby!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Lefty Grove and the Diamond Stars

I'm taking a break from the constant string of trade posts tonight to showcase a new highlight of my Red Sox collection, my first true vintage Lefty Grove card!

I've talked about these National Chicle Diamond Stars cards numerous times now.  I'll go ahead and say it again though, I think they're beautiful cards.  I guess it's a combination of the smaller size, the fact that they're illustrated/painted vs photographs, and the fantastic art deco-style backgrounds.  Lefty Grove was the biggest name in the set as far as the Red Sox are concerned, so finally landing a copy of this one was a huge win for me.

Here's a closer look.  The card was graded a "lowly" 1 by PSA, probably because of some rounded corners and surface wrinkles.  To me, it's perfect, and I can honestly say that I have no desire to ever upgrade this copy (keep in mind the wear you see on Grove's hat is part of the original painting).

The backs are less exciting, but what do you want from a card that was printed a good 80 years ago or more?  At the bottom of the write-up we get the warning to young pitchers about not pushing it too hard, which I've seen on other vintage cards before.

This card represents a major victory for my collection in another sense though, as it completes what is now my oldest team set by a long shot.  Check it out!

Despite being just 6 cards in size, that's easily one of the most rewarding projects I've completed since returning to collecting.  Feels awesome to put this one to bed!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Nachos Pequeno (Just Two Cards)

I like buybacks. There...I said it.  I know, they're stupid.  Gimmicks.  Pointless.  I've heard it all.  With only one exception that comes to mind, I've basically seen them universally panned on the card blogs.  I can't explain why I like them, but I do.  If you have any you're looking to get rid of, I'm definitely interested in trading.

The recent uproar about these things stems from Allen & Ginter including buybacks in this year's product.  Kind of cheesy for a set that's been around only 10 years, and I don't enjoy them as much as the Topps buybacks from the past few years, but I do enjoy them still.  Yup.

So, when Chris from Nachos Grande offered up some of the contents of his recent case break of Allen & Ginter, I shamelessly claimed four buybacks off of the list.  Two of them are being re-routed to a collecting friend, here are the other two...

As a philosophy major in college, I definitely got a steady dose of Nietzsche.  Largely because of that, I've always thought this was a cool card.  I already have the regular version and its mini companion, so why not add another variation?  Let's face it, there aren't many opportunities to add guys named Friedrich to your baseball card collection.  Plus, killer mustache.

Here's the other buyback I claimed.  How can you not respect a guy who pitched in MLB games at age 49?  49!?!?!  The other reason I like this card?  For a guy who appeared in nearly every Topps flagship set from 1987 through 2012, this is his one and only Allen & Ginter card!

Chris included a couple of his custom 'Munnatawket' cards as well.  These are unbelievably well done, and are nearly indistinguishable from the real thing.

Thanks for the buybacks Chris!  Judge me if you will, but I hope to acquire some more of these...

Monday, August 24, 2015

Shlabotnik Report Delivers! '81 Fleer, Sticky Francis Rookie, and Other Goodies

I was recently the recipient of my second PWE from Joe Shlabotnik, proprietor of The Shlabotnik Report.  Let's tear in...

Leading off strong with a pair of 1981 Fleer cards that get me oh so close to a complete team set.  Dwight Evans...

...and Garry Hancock.  This is one of those sets that I didn't really care much for in my youth, but has really grown on me over time.  The pair that Joe included here leave me just 3 cards shy of a complete team set now (Lynn, Eckersley and team checklist card).  Time to hit up COMC and put this one to bed!

Yet another 2015 Archives card.  It seems everyone except me is buying this.  This is my tenth Red Sox card from the set, and every single one of them was received in a trade package.  Williams on the '83 Topps design is definitely one of the nicer Red Sox cards on the checklist.

Gary Painter never came close to appearing with the Boston Red Sox, as he topped out with the AA New Britain Red Sox.  The Winter Haven Red Sox, with whom Gary is depicted here, was an A-ball affiliate of Boston from the late '60s until they folded in 1992.  I love minor league cardboard, and this is actually the first Winter Haven Red Sox card in my collection!

A Pedro insert from 2002 Topps Total.  Definitely one for the "it looks way better in person than it came across in the scan" archives.

This was a really cool throw-in from Joe.  Remember when Cespedes was with Boston?  Feels like forever ago, but it was only this time last year that he was taking his hacks at the plate in a Boston uniform.  Just 12 short months and two teams later, he's hoping to help the Mets achieve post-season glory.

Rounding out the baseball content, here's one card that I did know was coming as Joe had given me a heads up on it.  This is one of those retail chrome foil parallels from Topps Heritage.  I still don't have the basic version of this card, as it's a short print, but this shiny one sure is slick!  42 unique cards of Xander and counting...

Joe managed to feed my Whalers addiction with this delivery also with a pair of '82-83 Topps Stickers.  Only your die-hard Whalers or hockey fan is likely to recognize the player above.  Give up?  Doug Sulliman.  He played through basically the entire decade of the '80s with the Rangers, Whalers, Devils and Flyers.

The other sticker Joe sent along is a much more recognizable face, Ron Francis!  '82-83 is considered Ron Francis' rookie card year, so I consider this sort of an oddball rookie.  You couldn't peel an '82-83 O-Pee-Chee Francis and stick it to your Trapper Keeper, but you certainly could with this one!

Closing out the envelope, another Liverpool player from the 1990 Pro Set soccer release.  Houghton played his international football for Ireland, but enjoyed 5 fairly successful seasons with Liverpool in the late '80s/early '90s.  Hopefully The Reds can pick up a victory this afternoon against Arsenal to go 3-0-0 to start off the 2015-16 Premier League season.  I'll be watching on DVR as soon as I get home this evening.

Joe, thanks for the PWE, you packed quite the punch with this one!  I've already begun pulling aside some cards to fire back with...

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Signature Sundays - The Grim Reaper

Trying to get back into the swing of things with these weekly Signature Sundays posts, highlighting autographs from my collection that have never seen the light of day on the blog here.  Let's switch over to hockey this week...

This Notable Nicknames autograph from 2012-13 Panini Classics Signatures is definitely one of the more unique autos in my entire collection, hockey or baseball.

Not only was a nickname theme a great idea for an autograph set, but the majority of the players (not all, see Ron Francis' card) really embraced the theme and inscribed the nickname along with their signature.  I've always thought "The Grim Reaper" was the perfect moniker for Stu Grimson, and making the card even better in my own biased opinion is the fact that Panini depicted Grimson with the Whalers (he was featured with the Ducks in the regular set). 

I've wanted one of the 50 copies of this card that exist out there since the moment I first laid eyes on it.  At first they were a little pricey, certainly more than I was willing to pay for a Stu Grimson autograph, but as usual patience, and a saved eBay search, paid off and I was able to score a copy for less than $20 well over two years after the product's release date.

Now, if I can track down the Ray Ferraro "Chicken Parm" autograph from this same set then I will truly be a happy man!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Quarter Box Quartet - Saturday Night No Time Edition

A quarter box and a dollar in my pocket; a match made in heaven...

This one was all about the mask, brown leg pads and wooden VIC stick.

Can't leave a T206 Wagner behind in a quarter box.  This is the closest I'll ever getting to owning an original.

I grabbed this Parkhurst Champions Wire Photo card not knowing whether I had a copy already or not.  Turns out I did.  Oh well, still a nice card of Luc Robitaille torching Sean Burke.

Turn of the century Stadium Club Ken Griffey Jr.  Because you don't leave a Stadium Club Griffey that you don't have behind in a quarter box.

That is all for tonight.
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