Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Now THAT's a Relic Card!

Generally speaking, you can group me in with the collectors who are only mildly excited at best at the prospect of acquiring a new relic or game-used card.  While they may have been interesting ten or twenty years ago, the whole concept seems to have been watered down by "event worn" relics and other such gimmicks, and in some cases even questionable authenticity.

Last month though, my buddy Dave H of Wax Stain Rookie posted a relic card that had me absolutely drooling.  Check out this image that I borrowed from his post:

Holy crap!  I had no idea until reading Dave's post that In The Game had released these "Super-Sized Pads" cards as part of their 'Between the Pipes' set in 2008-09, but I was immediately floored by the concept.  Not only was Dave's Tretiak relic here one of the bigger pieces of material that I'd ever seen on a game-used card, but I just fell in love with the concept of a big ol' swatch of the classic brown goalie pads that are so adored by fans of the old school era of the NHL.

I knew right away that I just had to make an attempt to land one of these for my own hockey card collection.  They're not the easiest cards to find I found out; I believe they were limited to just 30 copies each.  Understandable I guess given the size of the pad "chunk" used in the making of each card.

I quickly zeroed in on the card I wanted most from this set, and within a couple of days had tracked one down.  Check this baby out!

I've had this card in hand for a few days now and I'm still just fascinated by it.  Cheevers is the player I wanted most from the short, 12-card checklist.  The selection for this relic set spans a few eras, and since the goalie pad has evolved quite a bit over the years there's a range of different types of pad to be found among these inserts.  For example I just watched a Patrick Roy end on eBay (without any bids) that featured bright blue pad presumably from his time with the Canadiens.  Cheevers' card features the glorious old school brown leather pad though, which is what I thought was so cool about Dave's card to begin with, and is certainly what drew me to this one.

I don't mind sharing that I shelled out close to $40 for this card, which is more than a quarter of my monthly allocated hobby budget in one shot.  I wouldn't say I got a "steal" on it, but I do think I paid about fair market price given what I've seen a couple of others go for.  Besides, this is the type of card that's rare enough that you could go many months or years without seeing another copy of it.  This is easily the most I've ever spent on a relic or game-used card, and probably always will be, but I don't have any buyer's remorse here at all.

Here's the back, citing the pad as game-used.  These cards are fairly thick but not outrageous.  I've got mine in a 75pt one-touch magnetic holder for those of you that that means anything to.

Here's one last look, just beyond awesome.  I'm really enamored with this one, looking back on it this has to be in my top three hockey acquisitions of 2017.  It's just cool to think about how many pucks may have bounced off that square of pad, and of whose sticks those shots may have come off of.  I've been collecting again for over ten years now and I haven't found too many hockey cards in all that time that are more unique or interesting than this one is.

Seemed like today was the perfect day to show it off too, with Cheevers' classic mask making a prominent appearance here.  Dave, thanks for the inspiration to track down this beauty, and Happy Halloween everyone!

Do you have a favorite relic or game-used card that stands out above all others within your collection?  If so I'd love to hear about it in the comments...

Monday, October 30, 2017

Buyback Franken-set: 1990 Topps

Today's buyback post consists of ten that I hand-picked off of COMC, and all ten of them just happen to be 1990 Topps buybacks.  Will they make my franken-set, or perhaps be relegated to my secondary 1990 Topps buyback set project?  Let's take a look!

1990 Topps #663 - Fred Lynn Turn Back the Clock

A pretty cool one to start off today's post for a Red Sox fan like myself.  Lynn was included on a four-player rookie card in the '75 Topps set, so the card shown here is a "card that never was".  I was happy to find that I was lacking a #663 buyback, as this is certainly a solid addition to the franken-set binder.

1990 Topps #586 - Ed Nunez

Ed Nunez had what was probably the best year in his MLB career in 1990, making 42 appearances out of the bullpen and finishing with a minuscule 2.24 ERA in over 80 innings pitched.  A nice look at the old Tiger Stadium in the background here too.

Nunez bumps up against this extremely odd Ben Oglivie card when it comes to the franken-set though.  This one is just so bizarre, easily one of the strangest faces I've seen a subject make on a baseball card.

For now Oglivie retains his spot, and Ed Nunez is relegated to the 1990 Topps buyback franken-set.

1990 Topps #347 - Junior Felix

This Junior Felix is a rarer "blue foil" buyback, which I guess is appropriate for a very blue Blue Jays card.  Junior hit a career-high 15 home runs in 1990, which I guess is something.  He was shipped out of town before the franchise got really good a couple of years later though.

A tough draw for Felix here, as I have some unexplained love for this '73 KC Royals team card.  It's already ousted quite a few competitors...

...and does so again today.

1990 Topps #188 - Mike Smithson

Alright, a new '90 Topps buyback and a new Red Sox card in one fell swoop.  No complaints here.  This is actually a sunset cart too, as Smithson called it a career after a 7-14 year in 1989.

In what's going to become a recurring theme for this post, I already had a nice 1967 buyback in slot 188 of the binder.  I love this photograph of Ken Harrelson, and I'm also partial to extinct teams, so this one scores some big points with me.

Enough to best Smithson for sure, so Mike moves to the '90 buyback binder.

1990 Topps #595 - Greg Swindell

Greg Swindell was actually very solid in 28 starts for the Tribe in 1989, going 13-6 with a respectable 3.37 ERA in what would be his lone All-Star campaign.  His ERA would balloon by more than a full run in 1990, but he'd still win more games than he'd lose for a mediocre Indians team that year.  As far as the franken-set goes, Greg's in by default!

1990 Topps #740 - Jesse Barfield

Here's Yankees outfielder Jesse Barfield on a nice high number buyback.  Jesse was a few years removed here from his 1986 All-Star, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger season, but he still managed to crack 25 round-trippers for New York in 1990.  Hard to believe he'd be out of baseball just two short years later.  Barfield makes the franken-set as well.

1990 Topps #206 - Nick Esasky

Another Red Sox buyback, seems like I'm well on my way to a team set here with this being the third one in just this post.  Nick's time with Boston was over by the time this card hit shelves, as he signed with the Braves in the 1989 off-season.  He'd play just 9 games with Atlanta before eventually being released, ending his professional baseball career.

Another '67 buyback stands in the way here.  Though Dennis Bennett was traded to the Mets before the post-season run, he did contribute four wins to the 1967 "Impossible Dream" Red Sox team before being dealt away.

Easy choice there.

1990 Topps #717 - Ron Karkovice

Ron Karkovice played in 939 Major League Baseball games in a 12-season career, and wore a White Sox jersey for every one of them.  I don't remember much about the guy to be perfectly honest, but it seems like he was a serviceable hitter with some decent pop.  In any event, this is the first buyback I've acquired with #717 on the back, so into the franken-set Ron goes...

1990 Topps #334 - Johnny Ray

Johnny Ray got into 100 games at second base for the Angels in 1990, and they'd turn out to be the final 100 of his MLB career.  The best thing I can say about this buyback I guess is that it's a new number for the franken-set.  Johnny makes the cut.

1990 Topps #393 - Bret Saberhagen All-Star

Last card for today, pitcher Bret Saberhagen from the All-Star subset.  Saberhagen was a world beater in '89, leading the league in a good deal of categories including wins, ERA, complete games, innings pitched, WHIP, etc.  He won a well-deserved Cy Young, the second of his career.  Bret dealt with some injuries and fell off quite a bit though in 1990, and besides he's got a rough match-up here:

Yet another '67 buyback, and one of the most famous authors in baseball history to boot!  I know just how to settle this one...

Bouton stays in the franken-set, and Saberhagen becomes a valued addition to the 1990 project.

That was a perfect mix, half the cards joined the buyback franken-set as new numbers, and the other half gave some weight to my up-and-coming 1990 buyback set.  All in all, a nice round!

Franken-set Progress:  510/792 (63%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  367
Total Buybacks in Collection: 877

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Signature Sundays Returns - Kids Kevin Mitchell

As the seasons change here in New England, I'm going to make an effort to revive my "Signature Sundays" posts here on the blog.  For a good long while I was in the habit of posting an autographed card from my collection each Sunday, but I seemed to kind of fall out of it over the past year in order to focus on other parts of my collection.

Let's get back to it this week with an autograph from one of my all-time favorite baseball card sets, 1992 Topps Kids!

I've talked a few times about my love for this set, most recently when I picked up an unopened wax box with some birthday funds just last month.  Since I'll easily complete the base set from that box, and since there aren't any inserts or parallels to speak of, these autographs from Topps Archives Signature Series represent pretty much the only other Topps Kids cards out there for me to chase.

Kevin Mitchell might not exactly be a household name for the younger generation of baseball fans.  He's most remembered for two stellar seasons in 1989 and 1990.  1989 was clearly the best season of his career, as he put up monster offensive numbers while patrolling the outfield for the Giants.  Mitchell led the league that year in home runs (47), RBI (125), slugging percentage (.635), OPS (1.023), intentional walks (32) and total bases (345)!  Easy to see why he earned the NL MVP award that year.

As I've stated before, the backs on these cards are as interesting (if not more so!) than the fronts.  I'm hard pressed to think of many releases that devote as much real estate on the reverse to a cartoon as these do.  Maybe the 1960 Topps manager cards?

This is the third certified Topps Kids autograph that I've been fortunate enough to land to date, joining Marquis Grissom and Tony Fernandez.  I doubt if I'll end up with many more given that these seem to have somewhat limited print runs as Archives Signature Series cards go, but I'm pleased to have the trio that I do at least.

Thanks for stopping by, and if you like autographed cards I hope to see you again on some future Sundays over the winter months!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

A Group Break I Didn't Sign Up For

Another trade post tonight, I'll be caught up for the first time in a long while if I can keep this pace for a bit.  Tonight's cards came courtesy of Joe Shlabotnik in a recent PWE.

Joe's note indicated that I could think of this as sort of like a group break that I didn't sign up for.  I saw some Topps Total cards staring back at me from the 3-pocket PWE-friendly sheet that the cards were shipped in and I knew then what was up.

A few months ago Joe posted about a trip to a local show where he picked up a wax box of 2004 Topps Total.  A damn fine item to return from a show with if you ask me.  Like so many collectors I really love this release.

Well, apparently Joe was kind enough to ship most if not all of the Red Sox he must've pulled my way!

I only had one or two cards from this set previously, so every single one that Joe stuffed into this PWE was brand new to me.

There's not much I can say about these that hasn't already been said, or isn't obviously implied by the name of the set.  Maybe it's just the particular set of blogs that I read, or the particular set of collectors that I interact with, but I feel like I've heard the rallying cry for Topps to revive this set more than any other extinct release from their history.

The stars of the game...

...players who were just embarking on their pro careers...

...and fringe guys who would have just a cup of coffee in Major League baseball.  Combine this wide variety of subjects with a gigantic checklist, classic card stock and no foolish short prints, and Topps Total really harkens back to a simpler time.

This team checklist card, which I guess is technically an insert, was even included.  This will help me track down the remaining cards I still need to complete my team set, the old school way.

Even a set as simplistic as Topps Total isn't immune from parallels.  I got two of these silver parallels (guessing one per pack?) in the PWE.  One of my favorite players from a period when I was attending games at Fenway all the time, Johnny Damon...

...and on the other end of the spectrum a guy who never actually made the show.

A giant injection to my Sox collection there from one of my favorite sets of the early 2000s.  Doesn't hurt that 2004 is a significant year in the history of the Boston Red Sox either.

As if all of that wasn't enough though, Joe also included a buyback, and a very nice one at that:

1991 Topps #610 - Andres Galarraga

A star player in glorious Expos uniform, on a unique horizontal card from one of the under-rated sets of my childhood collecting heyday.  What's not to love?!?!  Simply awesome, and what's more 610 was a number that I was missing previously, so the Big Cat makes the franken-set binder.  I don't foresee this one getting ousted anytime soon!

Thanks for the awesome cards Joe.  I just put the finishing touches on a small bubble mailer for you that should be hitting the mail by the weekend...

Franken-set Progress:  505/792 (63%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  362
Total Buybacks in Collection: 867

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Stretching a Stamp

I might not be watching the Red Sox kick off the World Series tonight, but at least I can still enjoy some new Red Sox cards courtesy of my friend Nick from Dime Boxes.  As has been well documented around the blogs, Nick can really cram a PWE and get his money's worth out of a single postage stamp.

Don't believe me?  Check it out:

We'll start off with a couple of mini cards from the latest Allen & Ginter release, featuring Sox starting pitchers.

I appreciate these because I didn't pull any Red Sox minis in the lone blaster of Allen & Ginter that I purchased this year (which I sent the contents of to Nick actually!).

Here's an insert of arguably the best starting pitcher in franchise history when he was at his peak there.  Bonus points for this one coming from my collecting "dark period".

Hah, here's one that's definitely a sign of the times.  These late '90s Pacific Online cards had the URLs to the subject's player and team pages listed along the top.  You know, because the internet was the hot new thing.  I love the internet, and it certainly makes collecting quite a bit more fun than it used to be.  At the same time, I glad I got to primarily experience my childhood in the days before the web (and cell phones!).

A box bottom?!?!  Awesome!  I've always enjoyed these hand-cut oddballs when it comes to both my baseball and hockey collections, but I'd never even seen this 1991 Jeff Reardon before that I recall.  Just perfect.

How about some brand new Stadium Club?  Check!  I love that the edge of the stadium bunting is visible on this Yaz.

In a rare move for me, I actually purchased not one but two blasters of Stadium Club this year.  I probably would've picked up even more except that the collation was so horrible that close to 2/3 of the cards in my second blaster were dupes from the first.  Curse you, Topps!

Rounding out the 2017s, here's the full-sized version of the A & G Pomeranz from up above.

Of course Nick's PWE contained some unique oddballs, like this 1989 Fleer (insert?) For The Record Boggs.  That is one colorful card right there.

This PWE even had it covered when it comes to shiny.  These Silver Ice parallels from Bowman will blind you if they catch the light the wrong way.

2004 Upper Deck Legends Timeless Teams is a set that makes me wish I had been collecting in the early 2000s.  I'm not sure I've ever seen a bad card from this set.  I've actually been working to condense my collection down some in recent weeks, otherwise I'd be tempted to find a complete set of this.  I'll happily take the Red Sox cards though.

Even a die-cut card made its way into the envelope.  I've definitely never seen these Power Brokers inserts before.  I bet you can guess which decade they're from.

One of those great TCMA cards I've been reading so much about on The Five Tool Collector recently!

Here's the final Red Sox card, a Fleer Tradition card that borrows its design from the 1963 Fleer set.

Nick has contributed some buybacks to my franken-set project on many occasions now, and this time was no different as I received a nice pair of Topps Heritage box-topper buybacks:

1961 Topps #291 - Tex Clevenger

Tex Clevenger was a solid bullpen arm over the course of a few seasons, beginning with the Boston Red Sox back in 1954.  I don't have a whole lot of '61 buybacks in the binder so far, but in this case it's not a free pass for Tex here.

The great Moe Drabowsky is already in slot 291 with this '66 Topps release.  I could see either of these two being bested in the future quite honestly...

...but for the time being I'm sticking with Moe.

1959 Topps #221 - Bob Bowman

Here's the other buyback Nick sent, a lovely '59 Topps buyback of a man named Bowman.  I recently evaluated a whole batch of these '59 buybacks for the project, but Bob here was not among them.  This one's a perfect fit too, as I was lacking a #221 buyback at this stage.

Even better than that though is the fact that this one completes a new page!

Oh man, for a fan of buybacks like myself that is a thing of beauty!  Some big names on this page including the 1974 AL MVP (on his '74 Topps card no less!), and the great Frank Malzone.  A very vintage-heavy completed page, with the most recent card being a '75.

Not too bad for a plain white envelope, huh?  Thanks as always Nick!  I've had another stack of cards building for you for a couple of weeks now, and it's just about ready to head your way...

Franken-set Progress:  504/792 (63%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  362
Total Buybacks in Collection: 866
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