Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Little Piece of Stick from The Little Ball of Hate

I have a card to show off today that was a total surprise when it arrived at Shoebox Legends headquarters, and seriously made my jaw drop.  It was sent to me by my longtime hobby friend Douglas of Sports Cards from the Dollar Store.  Before I get to that one though, here's the other card that Douglas packaged along with it:

Sweet!  I remember the 1993-94 PowerPlay set fondly.  These were produced by Fleer and are your standard "tallboy" size, similar to the 1964-65 Topps hockey set.  I had a whole bunch of these as a kid, and though they were a pain to store they are fairly unique and cool collectibles.  This particular card is actually from the 2nd Year Stars insert set.

A very nice addition to my Whalers collection indeed, however here's the real star of the show:

Whoa.  I had no idea this was coming, and I'm not even sure where Douglas found it, but this is one seriously impressive game-used card!  It comes from the 2016 Leaf Lumber Kings set, which I had never even heard of prior to receiving this.  I have one or two other game-used stick cards in my hockey card collection, but nothing that even comes close to this one in terms of size and weight.

This is a rare find as well, in the upper left hand corner you can see that the card is serial-numbered to just /12 copies.  You have really outdone yourself with this one Douglas! 

Here's a look at the reverse.  Leaf doesn't have a license to make NHL trading cards, but I'm glad they managed to at least get a nice shot of Pat Verbeek's #16 Hartford Whalers sweater on both front and back.

Verbeek, aka "The Little Ball of Hate", is one of my all-time favorite Whalers, and one of the more under-rated players of his generation if you ask me.  He was known as a pesky and annoying opponent to face off against, the kind of guy you despise on any other team but prize when he's on your own roster.  Not only that, but he could sure put the puck in the net as well.

Verbeek is not a HOFer, but he would certainly be a first ballot choice for the "Hall of Very Good" if it existed.  Less than 50 players in league history have scored 500 goals or more, and Verbeek is one of a very small subset of those players not in the HOF.  He remains to this day the only player in league history with both 500 goals and 2,500+ penalty minutes.  Yup, under-rated for sure.

Here's a card from the 1992-93 Score Canadian set (which Douglas also tipped me off to) that shows Pat with the stick model that the piece on the card likely came from.  You can click the image for a larger version, but you can see the word Louisville along the shaft between Verbeek's two hands.  Here's the card again:

This is obviously the 'E' on the very end of the word Louisville, as it has the trailing registered trademark logo.

I really can't state enough just how impressive this card is in hand.  It truly feels as much like a piece of memorabilia as it does a hockey card.  I've had it in my possession for days now and I still smile every time I hold it.  This puppy went straight into a one-touch magnetic holder (needed 130pt holder it's so thick!).  It's easily my favorite Verbeek card, period, and is certainly one of the highlights of my entire Whalers collection overall.

Thank you so much Douglas!  I'm really going to have to send you something nice in return.  In fact, I think I have something in mind already...

Monday, February 27, 2017

Buyback Franken-set: Trios

In my continuing quest to complete a buyback franken-set, today I present a trio of trios courtesy of a recent 68-card lot that I picked up for the price of a blaster.  The first trio comes courtesy of 1978 Topps...

1978 Topps #309 - Cliff Johnson

Cliff Johnson was fortunate enough to be dealt from the Astros to the Yankees in the summer of 1977, just in time to be a part of back-to-back World Series championship Yankees teams in '77 and '78.  He was shipped off to Cleveland mid-way through 1979 though, after a locker room brawl with teammate Goose Gossage.  I was missing a #309 buyback until now, Cliff is in!

1978 Topps #404 - Detroit Tigers

The second entry in the trio of '78s is this beat up Detroit Tigers team card.  The Tigers finished 10 games above .500 in 1978, but the 86-76 record was only good enough for 5th in the AL East.  For a '78, this card is really beat up, and it has some competition for the franken-set as well:

Chuck Brinkman, who hit his lone career home run in 1973, has occupied slot 404 in the binder since very early on in the project...

...and he will continue to do so.

1978 Topps #44 - Toby Harrah

Toby Harrah was with the Rangers franchise when they were still known as the Senators, and had some good seasons with the club after their move to Texas as well.  He was selected as an All-Star three times during his time with Texas, and again as a Cleveland Indian in the early '80s.  I've already got a buyback in slot 44 of the binder, let's take a look...

This one was delivered to me in person by Mark Hoyle when we met up in Providence last year...

...and I decided to keep it in the binder over the Toby Harrah card.  I'll be honest and admit that I didn't realize Harrah was as good a player as he was when I was making this choice.  In retrospect I probably should have gone with Toby, who is a member of the Rangers HOF.  One to reconsider in the future for sure.

The next trio features '76 Topps buybacks...

1976 Topps #156 - Rico Carty

Dominican-born outfielder Rico Carty is most remembered for his impressive 1970 season, where he smashed the ball to the tune of a league-leading .366 average!  The power numbers were there that season too, as he eclipsed 25 home runs and 100 RBI.  Rico's up against a buyback from the '60s as far as the franken-set goes:

Easy choice here, Rico Carty was a more solid player over a longer stretch of time...

1976 Topps #282 - Dan Osborn

Next up from 1976 Topps, pitcher Dan Osborn of the White Sox.  Dan actually went by the nickname "Ozzie", making him the second most famous Ozzie Osborn (or Osbourne) that I know of.  While this particular Ozzie may never have been the front-man for Black Sabbath, he did make 24 relief appearances with the White Sox in 1975.  Those 24 appearances constitute his entire body of work at the MLB level.

Unfortunately for Ozzie, this fantastic '67 Topps Blue Moon Odom stands in his way in slot 282...

...and there's no way I can choose a guy who lasted only one season over that card.

1976 Topps #32 - Danny Frisella

The last of the '76s for today is Padres hurler Danny Frisella.  Danny would sadly pass away in a dune buggy accident near his home less than a year after this card was printed up.  I wasn't alive yet, but it seems like that incident got a lot of coverage at the time, as seems to be the case any time an athlete passes in the midst of their career.

This Adolfo Phillips, also provided by Mark Hoyle, stands between the '76 Frisella and franken-set glory.

Adolfo will stay in the binder, and Danny gets relegated to the buyback box.

The third and final trio of buybacks for today features 1973 Topps, which seems to have been one of the more popular choices for inclusion in the 2015 buyback program...

1973 Topps #44 - Rick Monday

For the second time today we have a #44 card vying for a spot in the set, this time it's outfielder Rick Monday.  Rick was a two-time All-Star but once was before his time with Chicago, and the other time was after he'd moved on from the Cubs.

Obviously he's up against the same #44 buyback as Toby Harrah was earlier in this post...

...once again I decided to stick with the '65 Topps rookies card, but I'm really starting to question this now.  In retrospect I think I maybe should have chosen either of the two competitors over the '65 Davis/Kelley.

1973 Topps #539 - Tom Murphy

Finally, after 6 straight confrontations, we have a new card number for the franken-set!  Tom Murphy was with the Royals for just a portion of the 1972 season after they acquired him in trade from the Angels.  He didn't last long in Kansas City either, and had moved onto the Cardinals by 1973 even though he's still pictured with KC here (he wasn't traded to St. Louis until May).  Nice to fill a relatively high-numbered slot in the binder at least!

1973 Topps #379 - Cy Acosta

The final card in the '73 Topps trio, and the last buyback I'll feature today, is Cy Acosta.  According to Wikipedia he was the first AL pitcher to make a plate appearance after the introduction of the DH position.  He's also a member of the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame.

This sweet '75 Bernie Carbo is already in slot 379 though.  A rough card for Acosta to have to face off against...

Easy decision there.

9 new cards, and only 2 of them filled new numbers/slots.  It's getting harder and harder to earn a spot in the binder here, and I'm not even close to the 50% mark yet.

Franken-set Progress:  325/792 (41%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  112
Total Buybacks in Collection:  437

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Signature Sundays - Brett Hull!

I've talked a few times in the past about the very first set that I collected as a kid, 1989-90 Topps and O-Pee-Chee hockey.  My dad used to bring home packs for my brothers and I after work, and we'd sit at the table ripping, trading, and sorting into our custom binders.

Certain cards from that very first set are entrenched deeply in my memory, and ignite a spark of nostalgia any time I see them to this day.  Here's one such card:

If you ask the average hockey card collector to name an iconic Brett Hull card, most would probably go with his '88-89 rookie.  While that's certainly the logical choice, for me it's his second-year card that really strikes a chord.

Brett was flat out tearing up the NHL in '89-90.  He was the talk of the league, scoring seemingly at will en route to his first 70+ goal season.  With this in mind, it's easy to see why 7-year-old me was ecstatic to own a copy of this one.

In tribute to the set that got me started in the hobby, and in an attempt to add some more depth to one of my favorite parts of my collection, I've decided to seek out a couple of autographed versions of '89-90 Topps/O-Pee-Chee hockey cards.  This card was high on my list, and I was surprised to find that it wasn't too difficult to locate an affordable copy well within my budget.  Behold!  

I could not be happier with this one.  Brett was easily one of the top 5 players in the league in '89-90, so this one feels like a significant addition to my collection.  Not only that, but this large, bold, on-card auto represents my very first Brett Hull signature, period.  Here's a better look:

The '89-90 Topps/O-Pee-Chee set is full of cards that are very dark as far as the photos go.  The presence of many road uniforms (this was back when the road team still wore dark colors, and the home team whites) makes some of the autographs I've seen a little tough to read, but Brett did a nice job with this one and the signature really pops.

I love that he was nice and liberal with his pen strokes as well, I feel like I got my money's worth with the auto spanning nearly half the card!

Brett here joins Al MacInnis to give me two HOFer autos from this release now.  While I'm not pursuing this with the obsessive mania I'm sometimes prone to, I'm certainly enjoying the project quite a bit and will keep my eye out for any other opportunities to add to it.  If I never ended up with another auto from this set though I could do a lot worse than the pair I now have...

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Trades from Collectors (Five Tool & Pedestrian)

I've got a couple of great trade packages to cover today, the first of which came unexpectedly from Commishbob of The Five Tool Collector.  Bob caught me totally out of the blue with a random act of kindness when he sent me the Dwight Evans buyback he pulled from a pack of 2017 Topps.  As if that wasn't enough, I found a nice little stack of '59 Topps baseball in the mailer alongside Dewey!

Aside from my buyback franken-set, the '59 Topps baseball set is probably the project that I've been devoting the most time and effort to over the last few months, so these are greatly appreciated.  It would be the oldest set I've ever completed by a long shot, and I'm still a long way off, but Bob certainly put a nice dent in my want list.

All told I received 15 of these beauties; 14 of them were set needs and the last one was a condition upgrade.

At this point in my venture I'm really just looking to fill open binder slots, so there is no card too beat up or worn out for me to accept.

With that being said though, the majority of the cards Bob sent are actually in really great shape and will probably never be removed from the binder again!

Based on the green seats and those bright red handrails I'm thinking this photo was taken at Seals Stadium.

The Sporting News Rookie Stars subset?  Bob covered that as well.

While I appreciate each and every "lowly" common, this package had some star power as well, including 8x World Series champion Hank Bauer.

Here's a local guy for me, as Chuck was born in Boston, MA!

Even got a new Red Sox card out of this as well, can't beat that.

Wow.  Not even sure what to say about this one.  I'm just about a decade into writing this blog now, and I'm still astounded any time someone sends a '50s HOFer out of the blue.  Simply awesome.

Bob also included some semi-high number cards as well in #475 Jack Harshman...

...#495, the infamous Johnny Podres...

...and #505, Yankees' shortstop Tony Kubek.  I've only got two cards in the binder so far with card numbers higher than this one.

I can't thank you enough Bob for this wonderful surprise mailer!  I already felt guilty that I hadn't reciprocated for the wonderful TBT Bogaerts card you sent me last season, but now I'm really in your debt.  I don't know what I could possibly send you to make up for this but I'm going to have a look around here...

The other trade package I'm overdue in showing off the contents of comes courtesy of Chris, who writes over at The (Pedestrian) Collector.  I only got in touch with Chris and began following his blog recently and he's already hit me up here with a nice stack of cards.  Like Bob, Chris' package also contained a buyback (1975 Topps Nelson Briles) that made my franken-set.

In addition to that though, Chris hooked me up with some set needs off of my want list, including a quartet of 1993 Flair Wave of the Future inserts.

The inaugural Flair release came right smack in the middle of my childhood run at collecting, and as such I have fond memories of this set, which was ultra high-end at the time.

I still remember the packaging these came in, with each pack wrapped in clear cellophane inside a small cardboard box.  I picked up a hobby box when I first got back into collecting, and have since finished off the base set.  After this grouping from Chris I'm down to just 8 more Wave of the Future inserts to finish off my master set.

I also received some much-appreciated hockey cards from Chris, including a pair from the 1994-95 SP set that I'm very close to completion on.

It's a bit difficult to make out, but Chris Gratton is sporting a very '90s hockey mullet here.

Closing things out for today is a nice group of '82-83 O-Pee-Chee cards, a set that I've been plugging away at for far too long.  This checklist is actually card #396, the final card in the set.

Jack Brownschidle actually played for the Whalers for the final 39 games of his NHL career, which seems appropriate given that Chris originally hails from CT just like me, and is a Whalers fan as well!

Mario Tremblay is probably most known for his clashes with Patrick Roy when he was coaching the Canadiens in the '90s.  He's the guy who left Roy in during that blowout that eventually resulted in Patrick departing for Colorado.

This card was a very thoughtful inclusion from Chris.  I'd posted a copy when I reviewed the top scorers in the NHL for the '82-83 season, but noted that it was pretty beat up.  Well, Chris came through with a nice condition upgrade for me, score!

I'll close it out here with what is probably my overall favorite card that Chris sent.  Tony Esposito is one of my favorite old-school netminders, it's really inexplicable that I didn't have a copy of this one yet.  I actually had a copy of this in my COMC cart and had been going back and forth with the seller trying to agree on a price when Chris' package arrived.  Perfect timing!

Thanks Chris for the great package, I've got a small stack going already for you, and am really going to try to make a push to add some more cards to it and get it in the mail this coming week.  I'm notoriously slow but I like to think that I always come through in the end.

A couple of great packages there indeed, just the latest examples of the amazing generosity that exists in this hobby we enjoy.  Thanks again gents!
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