Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Best 17 of 2017!

I thought a list of the top 17 cards to be featured on the blog here in 2017 might be a nice way to close out my tenth year of blogging.  After all, everyone enjoys a good list at this time of year right?

The rules are simple, single cards only, and they have to be cards that made their debut on the blog in 2017.  I should also mention that the caption/ranking number below each card in the top 17 is actually a hyper-link that will take you to the post where the card originally debuted, just in case you missed one or two during the year and want to go back and read more.

Before we get to what I deemed to be the 17 best cards though, here are three honorable mentions that were left behind on the cutting room floor so to speak...

I have a minor obsession with hockey's "other league" from the '70s, the WHA.  Because of this, I have a long term goal to acquire every one of the O-Pee-Chee WHA cards released during the decade.  I've been focusing on the very first release to start, which were actually included in the final series of the brand's standard NHL set in '72-73.

I landed one of the bigger names here with Cheevers, and the card might have made the official countdown were it not for all that white space (or pink space in this case, I guess).  In any event, this is a part of my collection that I expect to get more of my hobby attention in 2018.

My finest (pun intended) Bogaerts card of 2017 here.  I think what kept this card off the list was Xander's lackluster 2017 season.  I love that you almost need sunglasses in order to stare at this one in direct light.

A 1/1 buyback featuring the great Mark "The Bird" Fidrych.  This was the final card to be axed when I was compiling the list.  One or two buybacks did make the cut, however.

Sure, a hard-signed autograph of a HOFer is pretty much always a solid addition to any collection, but this one's on the list mainly for reasons of nostalgia.  Takes me back to the days of ripping packs that my dad picked up for my brothers and I.

In years past you probably would've seen many autographed cards in this countdown, but they're one of the things I've cut down on somewhat over the past twelve months.  In the end only four made the cut, speaking of which...

A hard-signed auto, limited to 25 copies, of one of the greatest defensemen of his era, which just so happens to be the era that I grew up in as a childhood fan.  Oh, and it's a buyback from one of the sets I remember most fondly from collecting as a kid.  Also, in my opinion I practically committed theft by taking this home with a winning bid of $13.51.  A highlight of the year for me for sure.

I'm a huge fan of the Diamond Stars set from the '30s.  I knocked off the Red Sox team set a couple of years ago now, but this year I finally got around to picking up another in the form of HOFer Pie Traynor.  This was a total impulse buy, ran across it by chance and thought the price was unbelievably low, and just went for it.  I certainly don't regret it.

Here's another iconic card from my youth that, like the Lidstrom auto, I managed to acquire in buyback form in 2017.  I dubbed this my favorite Fedorov card when I posted it back in February, and that's still the case here in late December.

The earliest card calendar-wise to make the list, I actually posted this one on the very first day of 2017.  For a buyback lover like myself, it doesn't get much better than a RC of the player who at long last integrated the Boston Red Sox.  This was sent to me in trade by my buddy Douglas of Sports Cards from the Dollar Store, and is firmly entrenched in my buyback franken-set!

This one makes the cut for many of the same reasons as the Lanny McDonald auto a few cards back.  One of the more iconic cards from my collecting youth, having a copy hard-signed by the man himself makes me grin every time I look at it.

Another of my all-time favorite hockey sets here, I adore these difficult-to-store tallboys.  I actually made some decent progress with a few cards from this set over the last year, but HOFer Glenn Hall here was the obvious choice to make the countdown.  Shipped to my door for significantly less than the cost of a retail blaster, it was absolutely one of my bargains of the year.

Any time you add a new T206 card to your collection, it feels significant, and Jake Stahl here is my only new one from the last calendar year.  It represents my fifth Red Sox T206 card overall though, and that's a team set I'm positive I'll make more progress on in the coming year.

I'm not sure I can think of any athlete, period, who enjoyed a better 2017 than Jose Altuve.  This card is the Altuve I'd prefer to own over all others, and unbelievably I was able to haul in this one, slabbed a PSA 9, for less than $20 shipped.  Of course, that's because I bought it before 2017, but I didn't get around to showing it until last month, so it's eligible for the countdown.

Sure, any HOFer from the very first Topps hockey release is a big enough deal to make the countdown.  This one's even more significant for me personally though, as it's one of the better cards that was handed down to me from my Dad.  For that reason it's one of the few cards I'd hang onto even if I decided to sell off my entire collection for some reason.

The only two Topps NOW cards I purchased this year were both from the same game, the David Ortiz jersey retirement game on June 23rd.  I picked them up because I actually had the good fortune to attend this game with my lifelong best friend, his longtime girlfriend, and my wife.  It's the only time I've ever attended an event in person that's depicted on a card that I know of.  It was an awesome and memorable evening in Boston, and I'll always think back to it when I come across this card.

I'm not generally a big game-used or relic guy, yet the next two cards in the countdown are exactly that.  What can I say, I'm a man of contradiction I guess.  This fantastic piece of Pat Verbeek's stick was sent to me by Douglas of Sports Cards from the Dollar Store as well, the second card in the countdown that he's personally responsible for!  Beyond cool to have a piece of the stick of one of my childhood idols.

When I saw Dave of Wax Stain Rookie post a relic card from this set earlier this year I knew I needed to find one for myself.  Just a couple of weeks later this card was waiting for me in my mailbox.  Might be my favorite relic card in my entire collection.  Cheevers' WHA card may have missed the countdown, but he still placed in the top 5 thanks to this beauty.  I can almost feel the pucks bouncing off this vintage pad.

The pinnacle of my buyback franken-set to date.  I'm not sure I'll ever acquire a buyback nicer than this one, it's essentially a lock for spot 500 in the binder (yes, I do actually keep it in the binder).  Considering how much time, and how many posts, I devoted to buybacks in 2017 it's no surprise that my best one sits inside the top 5 in this countdown.

I don't think this one requires much explanation.  Simply a beautiful vintage hockey card.  As soon as I became aware of its existence I pounced.  I'm not the only collector to have that reaction either, as my posting it inspired at least one other collector to grab their own copy.  Truth be told, the top 3 here are neck and neck, and this could have easily been my #1 overall card of the year.

In one of my riskier plays since I got back into collecting, I spent a good deal of change on an un-redeemed redemption for this card towards the beginning of the year.  I eagerly entered my code into Upper Deck's redemption site and then waited.  For months and months.

When I arrived home from work one day this autumn and found an envelope from Upper Deck in my mailbox, I felt like Ralphie getting his Little Orphan Annie Decoder Ring in A Christmas Story.  Only my package didn't come with an after-taste of bitter disappointment, instead I'm still in a state of disbelief that I actually own this card.

And now, the 2017 Shoebox Legends card of the year...


drum-roll please...




As I said, pretty much any of the top 3 could be interchanged, but I gave the edge to this fantastic rookie card of baseball's best player.  Though this card only appeared on the blog here in May, I actually bought it back in 2016.  I'm glad I did too, because if I hadn't I don't think I could ever afford one given what they go for now.

Barring a major injury, Trout is just going to continue to rack up the accolades and statistics over the next ten years plus.  It will be fun to watch him do so knowing that I've got this gem in my collection.  I don't have any sentimental backstory for this card, I just plain treated myself after wanting a copy for years.  I think it's a worthy card of the year regardless.

Lastly, I just wanted to extend a truly heartfelt thank you to all of the wonderful people that stop by here to read or leave comments, trade cards with me, run their own blog, or otherwise just make positive contributions to the hobby.  I know as well as anyone how valuable time is, and I'm grateful that anyone takes a few moments out of their day to read my ramblings about baseball cards.  Wrapping up my tenth year you'd think I'd be tiring of this, but that's not the case, and all of you are the major reason why.

Happy New Year's, and I look forward to interacting with you all in 2018!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Card Room Cleanup

As we prepare to turn the calendar over to a new year, there's a natural tendency to organize.  My desk in my office and my Blogger drafts folder are no exception, so here's a bunch of stuff that's been waiting for some time to be posted up here...

Starting off with a couple of mid-'70s hockey cards of HOFers.  I'll never turn down a new Lanny McDonald, especially one from early on in his career with the Leafs.

Accompanying Lanny in today's post is the great Stan Mikita.  If memory serves these both came from the dollar box at my LCS, which I haven't been to in probably close to a year now.

This Rusney Castillo is a Sapphire parallel, #'d to 25.  I think I stole it off eBay for just a couple bucks when Rusney was a rising star.  Given how he panned out (or didn't), looks like the joke's on me with this one.

I completed the entire run of '80s Topps hockey sets a while back, but this past year I circled around and re-filled some holes I was missing in the sticker insert sets.  This Patrick Roy was the result of that, love those brown pads!

This one also came from a dollar box at the LCS.  As a rule, I'll generally pick up any of the 2011 Topps Legends variations (or their Diamond Anniversary parallels) that I don't have yet for a buck or less.

Here's one I'm really happy about.  I really dig box bottom cards, and this Gretzky from the '90-91 OPC set was a real bargain at just a couple of dollars.  Not the easiest card to find, and expertly cut from the box bottom in this case.  Plus... came with Super Mario from the same set!

No recollection of where this one came from, but it's a new Nomah and it's see-through, so there's that.

Next up, my two favorite cards from a Stadium Club rack pack ripped long ago.

Shouldn't be a shock that both feature retired stars.  This Brock is simply fantastic, almost a perfect card.  Possibly my favorite overall Lou Brock card out of the subset that I own.

I picked up quite a few of these Star Wars buybacks from last year's 40th Anniversary set.  A mix of two of my favorite things, Star Wars and buybacks, proved too tempting to resist.  I think this is my fifth one, more than halfway to a completed page now!

Way back in April I picked up two rack packs of the 2017 Donruss release from Panini.  I was just in the mood for something to rip, and as a child of the '90s the throwback to 1990 Donruss appealed to me.  I posted my first rack pack here.  Unfortunately, due to terrible collation, my second pack was almost entirely dupes.  I did score this new Bogaerts card at least... well as a pretty sweet Dave Winfield.

On the insert front I did okay as well, with this throwback Kris Bryant...

...and this really nice serial-numbered card of the man who had a fantastic 2017.  Not my finest Altuve card, but it'll do.

Relics don't do much for me, but as I mentioned the other day I will occasionally pick up a framed mini relic, like this Manny bat from T205.  Especially when it costs me all of a dollar.

I've got a few more Bogaerts cards to get to in today's post, beginning with this purple parallel of his very first Bowman release.  Xander had a down year in 2017 no doubt, but he's still my favorite player on the current roster and I'm hoping for a bounce-back campaign this coming year.

One more towards my burgeoning '59 Topps set, and a high number at that!

The Legends variations from the earlier Topps releases are even more scarce than the ones in the 2011 set.  I'd been after a copy of this great Yaz from the 2009 set, featuring a signing session for the fans, for some time before a seller and I agreed on a price for this copy on COMC.  I shelled out a full $8 for this, and I don't regret it one iota.

Full career stats!

One more Legends variation, a nice Cognac version of the Sultan of Swat from his early days as a hurler with Boston.

Let's take a peek at three more Xander cards as we wind down here.  The black parallel of his throwback insert from 2016 Donruss.  The photograph on this one does a good job of masking the fact that Panini doesn't have a license.

Here's a serial-numbered two-player insert from Elite that pairs Bogaerts with one of the best pitchers of the current era.

Last Bogaerts card for today, from the 2016 "Throwback Thursday" online release.  I stayed away from the Throwback/Topps NOW stuff this past year, but only because I went overboard with them in 2016.

Speaking of which, here's another from 2016, featuring the great Mookie Betts.  This one is based on the design from a "Baywatch" non-sport set if I'm not mistaken.  I'm not sure how well it works honestly, but it's a relatively rare Mookie card either way.

Well, I'm about out of steam (and time), so we'll cut it here for today.  Feels good to finally see these neglected cards get their moment in the sun.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Buyback Franken-set: 900 and Counting!

Yes, the post title is completely accurate.  Today's batch of buybacks takes me to over 900 total buybacks since I began this project less than two years ago.  Let's see how this grouping fares...

1970 Topps #236 - Bob Veale

Getting us started today is strikeout specialist Bob Veale, who pitched for the Pirates and Red Sox during his big-league career.  During his stint in Pittsburgh, Veale was frequently near the top of the NL leader board in strikeouts, and once he actually topped the league (1964).  I like the pensive photograph on this 1970 card, but...

...Bob's got a tough match-up as the franken-set goes with this great example of the busy photographs 1973 Topps is known for.

At the end of the day I just couldn't oust that '73 from the binder.

1975 Topps #447 - Terry Crowley

Terry Crowley makes the binder by default, as #447 is a new number for my franken-set.  Crowley was a pinch-hitting specialist who won two World Series', one with the Orioles in 1970 and another with the Reds the year this card was printed up.

1975 Topps #354 - Dick Bosman

Dick Bosman here is also a new number for the binder at #354.  Getting two new numbers in a row feels significant given that I'm approaching 2/3 of the way done with the project.  Bosman's claim to fame is that he tossed a no-hitter against the powerhouse Oakland A's during the 1974 season.  It would've been a perfect game had it not been for his own throwing error in the fourth inning.  Ouch, I wonder if he still thinks back to that throw...

1975 Topps #408 - Clyde Wright

Holy God, this might be the most beat-up buyback I've encountered to date.  It cracks me up that Topps decided to stamp this one.  I guess it would give the binder some character, but there's already a #408 buyback blocking Clyde's path...

It's everyone's favorite outfielder, Joey Terdoslavich!  Looks like Joey's career may be done, he hasn't played in MLB in a couple of seasons now, though he did sign with the Pirates before the 2017 season just never made the roster.

I feel like I've welcomed plenty of '75 Topps cards to the binder of late, and the 2014 set isn't very well represented, so in the interest of variety Terdoslavich wins out.

1975 Topps #463 - World Series Game 3

Here's a cool one, I always enjoyed the World Series highlight subset in the vintage Topps releases.  Plus, you can't go wrong with HOFer Rollie Fingers and his trademark 'stache!  I'd assume this one is basically a lock at #463, but let's take a look...

Hmm...a bland Steve Comer rocking the powder blue get-up that I have a feeling the Rangers franchise would be happy to forget.

Easy call there.

1990 Topps #21 - Jeff Torborg

This one probably wouldn't excite most folks, but as a confessed lover of 1990 Topps I was happy to see it in my stack.  Will it make the franken-set though, or be slotted into my separate 1990 Topps buyback set?  Well, it's my first #21 buyback, so into the franken-set binder it goes, at least for now.

1990 Topps #271 - Chet Lemon

Here's another '90 to accompany it, outfielder Chet Lemon of the Tigers.  Chet was a 3x All-Star earlier in his career, and was a member of the Tigers team that won it all in 1984.  Not a bad buyback at all...

 ...but Randy Lerch has already been holding down slot 271 in the binder.

Lerch is going to stay, but only because I wanted to shuffle Lemon into the 1990 buyback set.

1985 Topps #370 - Bruce Sutter

Sweet, second HOFer in this post (if you count Rollie Fingers' appearance on that World Series card).  Sort of an odd photo of Bruce, who looks confused here posing at dusk.  Still, a HOFer is a HOFer, and I don't exactly have a plethora of '85 buybacks at this stage of the project either.

A good match-up for the franken-set binder, which is no surprise given that card numbers that are multiples of ten were usually assigned to the game's stars.

My prejudice against cap-less players definitely came into play here.

1990 Topps #764 - Tim Teufel

I don't recall this, and didn't watch much National League ball back in the day, but apparently Tim Teufel was known for his batting stance.  Dubbed the "Teufel shuffle", it consisted of Tim wiggling his buttocks before the pitch was delivered.  Okey-dokey.  As my first #764 buyback, Tim makes the cut for the franken-set binder.

1989 Topps #300 - Darryl Strawberry

Last buyback for today, and it's a good one.  Strawberry was the man in the late '80s, and the blue foil on this buyback goes nicely with the Mets' colors.  Strawberry, often a controversial figure, has been in the news most recently for admitting that he used to have sex during games.  Make what you will of that, I like this card anyway.

I already had this great Bo Jackson buyback in slot 300, two titans of their day slugging it out here for sure.

Luckily, having the dedicated 1990 Topps buyback set made this an easy call.  Bo heads over to that binder, and Darryl takes his spot in the franken-set proper.  Nice and tidy!

That was a fun round I have to say.  Four new numbers pushed me closer to 2/3 completion for the project overall, and the binder got some good upgrades as well in the form of a couple of guys who are enshrined in Cooperstown.

Still having a lot of fun with this project, and should be pushing past 1,000 total buybacks early in 2018 here.  Thanks for following along!

Franken-set Progress:  518/792 (65%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  390
Total Buybacks in Collection: 908
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