Thursday, March 30, 2017

Buyback Franken-set: Diving Back Into the Mega-Lot

Let's dive back into the recent mega-lot of 2017 Topps buybacks I picked up and evaluate another batch of ten here for my franken-set...

1977 Topps #553 - Jack Heidemann

With hundreds of these to get through I'm gonna speed things up a bit today.  Don't know the first thing about Jack Heidemann, but 553 is a new number for the project.  Off to a great start!

1988 Topps #462 - Don Slaught

Don Slaught enjoyed a 16-year career as a catcher at the MLB level.  What I remember most about Don from collecting as a kid is that any time I pulled one of his cards I was amused by the fact that his name reminds me of the word onslaught.  That's about all I've got.  Another new number though, this card is in!

1989 Topps #432 - Chad Kreuter

Second straight Rangers catcher here, with backstop Chad Kreuter.  A boring card if I'm being totally honest, and that is one ugly mesh jersey.  I was almost relieved to find a card already in the binder in slot 432:


Off to the rejected box for Kreuter...

1987 Topps #215 - Mark Langston

Next up is strikeout specialist Mark Langston.  Mark was a 4x All-Star and 7x Gold Glove winner.  This is a pretty cool card too, as 1987 was the third time in a four-year span that Langston led the AL in strikeouts.  Mark piled up over 2,400 Ks over the course of his career.  This one's in as far as the franken-set goes.

1989 Topps #659 - Al Leiter

Here's a nice buyback of a young Al Leiter.  Al's no-hitter, All-Star selections and World Series championships would all come years after this card was printed up.  A nice high number card for the project at 659, this one is in!

1988 Topps #589 - Geno Petralli

The odds of this seem awfully slim, but here's the third Rangers catcher I plucked from the box within this grouping of ten.  Petralli was largely a backup catcher who bounced up and down between the minors and the bigs with the Blue Jays and Rangers over the course of about a dozen seasons.  A good enough place-holder for now for a number I was missing for my set.

1989 Topps #187 - Darren Daulton

Here's longtime Phillie Darren Daulton on an '89 Topps buyback.  I'd completely forgotten until writing up this post that Darren latched on with the Marlins in 1997 just in time to win a World Series.  I'm extremely intrigued by the person behind the mesh in the background of the photo, what is going on there?

This '78 Jerry Royster was occupying slot 187 previously...

...but he's out in order to make room for Daulton.

I've only completed one page so far at this stage of the project, and this Royster card was on it.  So...'s the before...

...and here's the after.  I'm sure I'll have more completed pages soon, I have a feeling they're going to come in bunches once they start occurring.

1988 Topps #689 - Tom Pagnozzi

Tom Pagnozzi played his entire career for the Cardinals, won three Gold Gloves and was named an All-Star in 1992.  He wasn't the biggest threat at the plate, but as the Gold Gloves indicate was known as a defensive specialist at a position where defense is damn important.  Happy to welcome Tom to the binder in slot 689!

1988 Topps #598 - Lee Lacy

Here's a nice "sunset" buyback of Lee Lacy, who appeared in his final MLB game in October of 1987.  Random bit of trivia, his daughter is a basketball player in the WNBA!  Lacy was a member of the 1979 World Series champion Pirates, and was involved with the drug scandal surrounding the team a few years later.  As my first #598 buyback this one makes the cut as well.

1989 Topps #394 - Orel Hershiser

Final card for today is an extremely blue Orel Hershiser from the '89 Topps All-Star subset.  1989 was actually the third and final time that Orel was selected as an All-Star.  Hershiser must have been on cloud nine here, having won a Cy Young Award and a World Series the season prior.  I could see this one making a stand in the binder for a long time, it's going to take quite a competing buyback to dislodge Orel from his place.

Out of ten buybacks I got eight new numbers here.  This is more along the lines of what I was hoping for when I grabbed this big lot.  If I can plod along at this rate for a few more posts I'll be crossing the 50% threshold soon here...

Franken-set Progress:  366/792 (46%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  154
Total Buybacks in Collection: 520

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Pastrnak in Black & Gold!

A couple of years ago now, at the tail end of the 2014-15 NHL season, I picked up my very first O-Pee-Chee Platinum Blue Cubes parallel:

The one I landed was the rookie card of David Pastrnak, a very promising 18-year-old (at the time) right wing from the Czech Republic.  Pastrnak showed a lot of potential over the 46 games he played in his rookie season, and with just /65 copies of this card in existence it felt like a significant pick-up for my collection at the time.

Fast forward a couple of seasons, and David has really blossomed as a player.  Still just 20 years old, he's played in all but a handful of the Bruins' games this season.  With a few games still to go, he's already surpassed the 30-goal mark on the season, as well as the 30-assist mark.  When he's on his game he really looks like a true scoring sniper, every bit as capable of putting the puck in the net as renowned goal-scorers like Alex Ovechkin or Vladimir Tarasenko.

Recently, I was able to secure another version of this OPC Platinum rookie card that pairs quite nicely with the Blue Cubes above:

This one is a "Seismic Gold" parallel, and is a bit rarer than the Blue Cubes parallel, with only 50 in existence.  Aside from the fact that Pastrnak is the most exciting young player on my favorite team, I'm a total sucker for shiny and the O-Pee-Chee Platinum parallels are some of the most shiny cards I've ever seen.  Besides, the black and gold in this design is pretty  much perfection as far as a Bruins card goes.

The back is a bit sparse, only because there weren't really a lot of statistics to share for an 18-year-old kid.

One last look, what an aesthetically pleasing card!  Hopefully Pastrnak can continue his impressive play, and the team can maintain their hold on one of the Eastern Conference playoff spots down the home stretch here.

While I don't consider myself a player collector, this duo does give me a nice start on a small Pastrnak collection for sure!  Thanks as always for stopping by.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Buyback Franken-set: This Should Keep Me Busy for a While!

This large box appeared in my mailbox late last week, the result of what I consider a pretty epic eBay win.  What's inside?  Buybacks of course!  Check it out:

When this auction came up in my daily saved search email alerts I was drooling, as it's one of the largest lots of buybacks I've ever seen listed on the site to date.  The seller had a great feedback rating, and indicated that the lot contained every "Rediscover Topps" buyback that came out of ripping an astounding 12 cases of 2017 Topps Heritage!

The listed Buy-It-Now price was more than I was willing to shell out, but I just couldn't get the auction out of my mind.  I threw a low-ball offer out there that was only about 50% of the asking price.  I thought that most likely I would never hear back on it, but to my surprise the seller accepted only an hour or so later.  I think I just happened to catch this at the right time, as the auction had only been up for a few hours.  Based on what I've seen other lots go for I think the seller would have gotten much closer to his full asking price had he waited it out some.

Needless to say, I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of this package last week.  I really have no idea what's inside, as there were too many buybacks to list out individually and the auction had just a single photo with only a handful of cards actually visible.  I'm somewhat fearful that I'll end up with mostly '87 Topps commons or something along those lines.  Given the sheer amount of cards this seller opened in order to acquire these though, and the fact that he seemed to rush this listing with very little information provided and an immediate acceptance of my best offer, I'm hopeful that maybe this is just someone who views these cards as junk and was trying to recoup some of the money he spent on his dozen cases.

Rather than spoil the suspense for myself, I've decided to just leave these boxed up, and to show some restraint by pulling just ten random cards at a time for analysis.  I think this lead-in has been more than lengthy enough, let's see the first ten cards...

1989 Topps #225 - Ramon Martinez

Okay, this is a good start if you ask me.  Pedro's older brother may not be a superstar per se, but he had a very good MLB career, racking up 135 wins and even tossing a no-hitter in 1995.  This '89 Topps is actually his rookie card, and I love the photograph with the colorful Dodger Stadium backdrop.  I was ready to slide this one into its slot in the binder but found this card already present there:

Not much of a contest here; a wrinkled, off-center Paul Splittorff with rounded corners.

Paul's out and Ramon is in.

2010 Topps #US272 - Brian Stokes

The next card that I grabbed from the box presented me with a dilemma.  I've never encountered a buyback from a Topps Update/Traded release until now.  For a moment I considered counting this as a normal #272 buyback, but I thought better about it and I'm not going to consider these for the franken-set at this point.  I doubt I'll ever end up with enough of them to do an "Update/Traded" franken-set either... unfortunately Brian never stood a chance.  Nice to add some variety to my reject box at any rate.

1987 Topps #675 - Ed Romero

Just three cards in, and I've already plucked my first Red Sox buyback from the box.  I'm not that familiar with Ed, and unfortunately he faces a brutal match-up for the franken-set project:

This great Tony Perez that I received from Commishbob just fought its way into the binder recently, and already has to face another competitor.

Though I'm a Red Sox fan through and through, Perez easily takes this one.

1989 Topps #537 - Pete Smith

The Braves were hopeful when they acquired righty Pete Smith that he'd develop into a solid starting pitcher alongside guys like John Smoltz and Tom Glavine, but after some early flashes of brilliance he kind of leveled off.  The Braves eventually dealt him after the 1993 season, and he had short-term stops with a few different franchises before wrapping up his career in 1998.

This '87 Rance Mulliniks buyback that I received in trade earlier this year is already in slot 537...

...and I'm going with Rance over Pete for the franken-set.

1990 Topps #494 - Terry Puhl

I'm hoping to land quite a few 1990 Topps buybacks courtesy of this mega-lot, so it's nice to see one already in the first grouping of ten here.  Longtime Houston Astro Terry Puhl started with the team in 1977 and lasted through the 1990 season.  He'd play one more year with the Royals in '91 before retiring.  Terry is a member of the Canadian Baseball HOF!

I already had this '74 Ed Goodson occupying slot 494.  I have a feeling I'm going to hear it in the comments from some folks who were kid collectors in the '70s for this but...

...I'm a kid collector of the late '80s/early '90s and it's my franken-set, so I'm going with the Puhl!

1971 Topps #132 - Jose Laboy

I was pleased to find slot 132 vacant, because this '71 Jose Laboy is just an awesome card.  I always appreciate a nice Expos buyback, and there's something about the foggy/dreamy look of the landscape here that I think is kind of neat.  Laboy's story is interesting as well, as he spent most of his career mired in the minor leagues before the '69 expansion draft gave him new hope with the Expos as a 29-year-old rookie.  Happy to have this one in the binder.

1989 Topps #283 - Andy Allanson

Andy Allanson was a catcher known more for his defensive abilities than for his bat.  He stuck around with the Indians, who drafted him, for a few seasons before winding down his career with short stints with the Tigers, Brewers, Giants and Angels.  Not a fantastic card by any means, but I do like that he's pictured donning the "tools of ignorance".  Besides, I was lacking a #283 buyback previously so Andy has a place in the binder, at least for now.

1987 Topps #157 - Danny Darwin

Danny Darwin was an average pitcher, finishing his career with just about a .500 win/loss percentage and an ERA just under 4.00.  He did lead the entire NL in ERA in 1990, something I was unaware of until typing up this post.  I associate him most with his stint in Boston between 1991 and 1994.

Unfortunately for Danny, he's matched up against the most amusing-to-a-juvenile name in the franken-set thus far (at least until I acquire a Rusty Kuntz buyback):

Yup, it's LaCock in a landslide.

1990 Topps #739 - Dale Sveum

Nice, a second '90 Topps buyback featuring Dale Sveum of the Brewers.  This is a Blue Foil version, which I think are somewhat rarer, though I don't really care about that sort of thing as this project goes.  Dale was on the Red Sox coaching staff when they broke the curse and captured a World Series title back in 2004.  The best part about this one is that it's an extremely high number at 739.  So much so, in fact, that Dale currently has an entire page to himself in the binder!

1989 Topps #343 - Gary Sheffield

The last buyback for today is definitely my favorite of the group; a nice 1989 Topps Future Star Gary Sheffield  rookie card!  This post started off with a nice '89 Topps rookie and ends with an even better one.  Without checking, I'd venture a guess that this is the only card of the slugging outfielder that depicts him wearing braces.

This is the sort of card I'd expect someone to pluck from a lot and list individually if they were inclined to do so, so it gives me hope that I'll find some other stars (and maybe even some HOFers) within this large lot after all.

This wrinkled card of a cap-less Joe Christopher was already in slot 343...

...but even as a Red Sox fan I can't in good faith choose this card over the Sheff RC.

That was a fun and encouraging start for sure.  Part of the reason I picked up this lot is that I'm hopeful it might put me on the precipice of finishing this project, but in the future I'm going to have to do better than the 3/10 I achieved here as far as new cards numbers go.  Either way, I'm confident that it will provide a ton of enjoyment for me.

You'll obviously be seeing many more buybacks from this box in future posts, but for now thanks for reading as always...

Franken-set Progress:  358/792 (45%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  152
Total Buybacks in Collection: 510

Monday, March 27, 2017

A Mystery Card, Reprints & Buybacks from Off the Wall

Last week I received a great bubble mailer stuffed with cards from my friend Shane Katz of Off the Wall.  In a relatively small package Shane sure hit on a variety of areas within my collection.  Before we get to the rest of the goods though, I need some help with identifying this awesome Yaz card.  Anyone seen this before?

At first I got excited thinking that maybe Shane had starting printing hard copies of his own excellent customs, but I don't recall having seen this one posted on his blog before.  There's no indication on the back of what year the card was printed, or who was responsible.  Anyone?

With that out of the way, next up is a nice little run of black and white beauties from The Conlon Collection.  This set seems to be generally adored by collectors, particularly team collectors whose franchises have been around since the early days of baseball.  I completed the entire Series 1 set a few years ago, but have very few singles outside of that so I needed each and every one of the cards Shane sent.

First up is Dusty Cooke, who played for the Yankees, Red Sox and Reds in the 1930s, primarily as a fourth outfielder.  After wrapping up his playing career he served in the US Navy in Okinawa during WWII.

Val Picinich was a Major League backstop from 1916 through 1933, and at one point earlier in his career he was the preferred catcher of the great Walter Johnson.  He once played for Connie Mack, and caught three no-hitters over the course of his career.  Sadly, he died of complications related to pneumonia at just 46 years of age.

Lou Finney was an effective outfielder for the Sox during the Ted Williams era, and earned his lone career All-Star selection while with the club during the 1940 season.

Jim Tabor played with Boston from 1938 through 1944 at third base.  He once hit two grand slams (one inside the park) and a solo shot in the same game!  Jim also passed away at an early age, suffering a heart attack at 36.

Underscoring why collectors love the Conlon release so much, all four of these represent the first cards of their respective subjects to enter into my collection.  Awesome stuff.

From there, Shane did some damage to my 1959 Topps want list by sending me card #336, Billy Loes of the Orioles.  It's fitting to receive this one given that Shane's mega-delivery of '59 Topps cards late last year is largely responsible for inspiring me to get going on this set in earnest.  Great to be one card closer.

Next in line is a nice pair of cards featuring one of my all-time favorite baseball personalities, Casey Stengel!  This 1980 Baseball Immortals gives us a glance at a young (relatively) Stengel from his days with the Dodgers...

...and this '91 Topps Archives 1953 release finishes the pairing.  This is one of the few cards at the end of this set that shows subjects who weren't actually included in the original '53 set.  I was always disappointed that they used photographs instead of paintings, which would have been more true to the original release.  Either way, I had a ton of these cards as a kid collector in the '90s and I think this set is a big reason why I adore the '53 release so much to this very day.

From there, we move into some reprints.  This Turkey Red was printed by Galasso in the early '80s.  It's a standard-sized card, whereas the original Turkey Red cabinet cards were oversized.  I don't own any originals, though I've come close to picking one up once or twice.  They really are works of art, but they're not the easiest things to find and tend to command a pretty penny when they do surface.  Happy to have a reprint for now.

I also received a pair of reprints of these Sporting News cards from 1916.  Referred to as "M101-5", these are even rarer than the Turkey Red cabinet cards in my experience.

In fact, I'm not sure I've ever seen or held an authentic one in hand.  I love that they use actual photographs though, something that you don't see a whole lot of from baseball cards of this era.  Owning an original is probably a pipe dream, so I'm grateful to have these two reprints.

Last reprint for the day features the 1922 American Caramel release.  I actually do own one or two of these, and the set is one of my absolute favorites as far as pre-war cards go.  I just think the design is gorgeous, and many of the players in this release don't have a lot of other cardboard out there given the limited number of sets that were printed during the 1920s.

As it so happens, Herb Pennock is one of the Red Sox I don't have from this set, so Shane definitely hit the mark with this last reprint.

Last, but certainly not least, Shane dropped seven new buybacks for my franken-set project into this package!  Let's review...

1966 Topps #114 - Jim Gosger

Jim Gosger played for five franchises/six teams over his career (he was with the As during the KC-to-Oakland transition).  He was mostly a reserve fourth outfielder who also made a few appearances at first base.  1966 was his last season with Boston, so he was not on the roster for the 1967 "Impossible Dream" season.

This '74 California Angels card is already in the buyback binder in slot 114...

I have to vote against the Sox sometimes if I want to preserve some variety in the binder, so I'm moving this off-center Gosger to the reject box.

1988 Topps #233 - Rafael Santana

Rafael Santana won a World Series with the Mets in '86 against Boston.  Despite being a Red Sox fan, I'm too young to have any memories of that disaster of a World Series.  These days Santana's serving as a scout in the Dominican for the White Sox organization.

Unfortunately for Rafael, he's got a brutal match-up when it comes to franken-set induction.

That was one of the easiest decisions I've had to make to date.

1987 Topps #12 - Jeff Sellers

A new Red Sox buyback, score!  Sellers was a promising starter for Boston at one point, but his career was cut short due to a combination of injury and Lyme disease.  As far as the franken-set goes, the news doesn't get much better for Jeff:

For the second time in recent weeks a challenger has stepped up to face off against this 1967 Strikeout Leaders buyback...

...and for the second time the challenger has been defeated.  Putting a Red Sox pitcher in the reject box is at least made a bit easier due to the fact that he lost out to another even greater Sox buyback.

1988 Topps #79 - Ernie Whitt

Ernie Whitt actually began his MLB career with the Red Sox in 1976, but is better remembered for the time he spent with the Blue Jays between 1977 and 1989.  Whitt was coming off the best season of his career here, as he hit 19 HR and drove in 75 runs in 1987.

Once again we've got a contest when it comes to the franken-set, as Ted Kubiak and his straying strand of hair are already in slot 79.

I normally detest cards featuring hat-less subjects, but I just find that Kubiak card amusing.  A rough start for Shane's buybacks here going 0-4, however I'll spoil the suspense now and declare that the last three he sent were all new numbers for the project and make the set without contest.  Let's see 'em!

1977 Topps #477 - Rookie Infielders

This is actually the very first four-player rookie from '77 Topps to be evaluated for this project.  I was familiar with the tragic story of Doug Ault, and Rich Dauer won a World Series with Baltimore in '83, but I don't really know much about the two bottom subjects.  A great card to add some variety to the binder for sure.

1992 Topps #652 - Bobby Rose

Bobby Rose played sparsely over the course of a few seasons with the Angels, but really hit his stride when he took his talents overseas to Japan.  There he was selected as an All-Star multiple times, and even won a batting title in 1999.  Cool story, and this is also just the third buyback from 1992 Topps to make the franken-set binder.

1968 Topps #581 - Garry Roggenburk

The last buyback I have for today is definitely my favorite of the group, as Shane was kind enough to gift me with his box topper from his hobby box of 2017 Heritage.  This is an especially thoughtful gift given that Shane is himself a Red Sox fan and collector.  I have no idea where Garry is standing in this particular photo (is that a greenhouse?!?!), but I was psyched to find that I didn't have a 581 buyback previously.  A very solid addition to this project to say the least.

Best of all, the seven buybacks that Shane sent along now mean that I've evaluated 500 total buybacks for this project here on the blog!  Not too shabby for a project I started less than a year ago now.

Shane, thank you so much for the awesome batch of cardboard!  I have the remaining Bowman Heritage cards I owe you all bagged up, but have been held back by the fact that I lack the appropriately sized bubble mailer to get them sent off.  I promise I will get it done by the end of the week here...

Franken-set Progress:  355/792 (44%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  145
Total Buybacks in Collection: 500
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