Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Four World Series Wins - Four Red Sox Cards

I've been too busy to blog recently, but I did want to take a moment to celebrate the 2018 Red Sox World Series Championship!  I've been following the team pretty religiously for a good 25 years now, and this year's club was easily within the top three over that period of time, maybe the best.

To celebrate I've got four new Red Sox cards to show off tonight.  One for each World Series that I've been fortunate enough to see the team win now in my lifetime...

Let's start with the most obscure.  I didn't buy very many Topps NOW cards this season, in fact this one is just my third all year.  I figured it might be my only opportunity to get 37-year-old Brandon Phillips into my collection in a Boston uniform.  His reclamation project with the Sox lasted just 9 games, and wasn't very noteworthy at all, except...

...for the memorable game on September 5th that resulted in this card.  Phillips' two-run home run with the team down by one and down to their final out swung the game around and resulted in a Red Sox win.  Aside from that one swing, Brandon ended up with just two other singles for Boston, and hit just .130 in his time with the club.  Great card though.

How about another beautiful '49 Bowman card towards my Red Sox team set?  Jack Kramer was a solid starter for the St. Louis Browns for much of the 1940s before the team traded him to Boston after the conclusion of the 1947 season.  In 29 starts for Boston in his first season with the club in 1948, he won a career high 18 games.  In 14 of those 29 games he went the distance, and two of those were shutouts.

Kramer's production dropped sharply after 1948, however.  He began to be used more out of the bullpen starting in 1949, and his final Major League season came in 1951.  Just about at the halfway point now as far as a team set goes from this release!

Jackie Jensen had another extremely solid year for the Red Sox in 1956, the year this card was printed.  He hit a career best .315 with 20 home runs, 97 runs batted in, and an impressive .901 OPS.  I can't believe this one set me back just an even $2 on COMC.  Sure, it's not in perfect mint condition but it's more than acceptable to meet my minimum requirements for a card from the '50s.

Last card for tonight.  Always a good day when you can add a new T206 tobacco card to your collection!  The subject, Frank Arellanes, was a short-term Red Sox player, as his MLB career (spent entirely with Boston) lasted just three seasons.

His best season by far was 1909.  He made 28 starts that year, winning 16 games, but also completed 15 games and ended up with 8 saves.  Sadly, Frank passed away at age 36 from illness.  A beautiful card here (are there any unattractive T206s?), I love that you can clearly see the Boston uniform.

That's about all I have time for tonight.  Four cards with some good variety for my Red Sox collection, with one over a hundred years old and another printed just this past summer.

It sure is nice to be a fan of a franchise that's been around that long.  And it sure is nice to be a fan of the World Series Champions!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Buyback Franken-set: JD Martinez!

I've got a lone card to evaluate for the Buyback Franken-set project today, but it's a good one.  Behold!

2014 Topps #108 - JD Martinez

Love this buyback!  I paid $1.99 for it just about a month ago now.  Was more than happy to pay that at the time, and I'm even more pleased with it now given how JD and the Red Sox have been performing this post-season.  Since there weren't any cards featuring Martinez with the Red Sox until this year, and Topps stopped doing buybacks after last year other than the Heritage box-toppers, I'll likely never have a chance to acquire a Martinez-with-the-Sox buyback for the project.

This is about the best I can hope for in the meantime, but will it make the franken-set?

1990 Topps Rod Nichols might have something to say about that.

Wait, no, no, he most certainly does not.  One of the best pure hitters in baseball over the past couple of seasons plus demolishes Rod Nichols and enters the binder.  Nichols is off to join his fellow 1990 Topps buybacks in that separate binder.

Go Red Sox!

Franken-set Progress: 632/792 (79%)
1990 Topps Buyback Set: 101/792 (12%)
"Rejected" Buybacks: 514
Total Buybacks in Collection: 1,247

Thursday, October 25, 2018

One Card Post - Dashin'

What:  2015 Topps Star Wars The Force Awakens - Speeder Bike Dash (Black Starfield Parallel)
Where: COMC
How Much?:  $.63

Why?:  My last three posts here were auto-scheduled, and were actually posted while I was in Atlanta for a few days for a work conference.  My next couple of posts after this one are also auto-scheduled, because I'll be completing an extremely complex, stressful and highly visible project for work in New Jersey over the weekend.  In between, I was home for a single day (which I also worked), just enough time to unpack, do the laundry and repack.

Yup, right now I feel the way Luke Skywalker looks on this card...

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Buried Treasure

When I first returned to the hobby in 2007, I was enthusiastic about collecting the way I used to when I was a kid.  Buying boxes and packs, and hand-collating sets.

Over the years though I've become somewhat disenchanted with that approach, and these days I'm much more likely to make a smaller number of hand-selected purchases of more significant single cards for my collection.  A few weeks back I was parsing through some baseball cards I'd picked up years back, scanned and cataloged, and then never really looked at again.  I'm trying to reduce the size of my collection, so 99% of what I came across went into a pile I'm shipping out to other collectors.

I did find three cards from 2012 though that I decided to hang onto, and I was surprised at the "value" this trio holds a few years later.

First up, a 2012 Topps Chrome Mike Trout base card.  As most collectors know, Trout's rookie card was actually in 2011 Topps Update.  So, while not a rookie strictly speaking, this is Mike's first Topps Chrome card.  It isn't a refractor or anything like that, just the standard base card, yet the cheapest example on COMC as I type this post is still listed at north of $13.

Like Trout, J.D. Martinez had his rookie card in 2011 Topps Update, making this 2012 Topps Heritage card his first in that line.  Martinez obviously doesn't draw quite the same interest among collectors as Trout, but a few more seasons like the one he just put in (and fingers crossed a World Series championship?) might get him a bit closer anyway.  Looks like this one's selling in the $3-$4 range at present, but if this card's on your want list I'd probably grab a copy soon.  Why do I say so?  Because...

...the last of the three cards I saved from this particular box is Mike Trout's first Topps Heritage card.  Cheapest copy of this one on COMC as I type this?  How about $34.75, and that one has a "condition note - ding on bottom left corner".  The cheapest mint copy like this one is a hair over $60.  Are you kidding me?  This was sitting unprotected, not even a penny sleeve, in the middle of a stack of 2012 Heritage within a box.  Now it's in a one-touch magnetic holder.

These three cards further reinforced in my mind that I'm doing the right thing with the mass purging I'm currently undergoing.  Had it not been for that downsizing project, these three would've sat in that box for probably another ten years collecting dust.  Now they're properly protected and sorted into my much smaller collection of keeper cards that I look at and enjoy much more often.

Do you have any examples like this of rediscovering buried treasure within your own collection?  If so, I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

Monday, October 22, 2018

1950 Bowman - Post #9 - Jim Hearn

One of my lifelong collecting goals is to someday complete a 1950 Bowman baseball set.  It's not exactly at the top of my priority list, but something I plan to slowly plod away at over the course of my lifetime.  Today I'm reviewing my ninth pick-up towards that pursuit...

...and it's tall left-handed pitcher Jim Hearn.  Jim played 13 seasons of Major League Baseball for the Cardinals, Giants and Phillies.  You don't hear much about him these days (at least I don't), but he seems to have been a somewhat under-rated player.  He won over 100 games in his career, many more than he lost, and finished with a respectable career ERA of 3.81.

This particular card is a favorite in my early set build here for a couple of reasons.  First and foremost, Hearn had one of his better seasons in 1950.  The Cardinals had placed him on waivers early in the season, but when the Giants claimed him in mid-July he was an absolute stud for the latter half of the season.  In 16 starts for New York, Jim went 11-3 with a 1.94 ERA  In 11 of those 16 starts he pitched a complete game, and 5 of those were shutouts to boot!  Jim's resurrection with the Giants was so impressive that he was even named on at least one MVP ballot that year.

The second reason I love this card though is obvious...the lurker in the shirt and tie.  It's just so bizarre and so out of place.  The interesting backgrounds are one of the things I enjoy most about this release, and this one certainly doesn't disappoint.  Is that Jim's agent, or accountant?  Maybe a Secret Service agent?  We'll never know, and in all likelihood it was just an average fan given that folks used to actually dress up to attend ballgames back then.

I got this card for $3, and I bet one of the reasons I picked it up so cheap is that some baseball fan almost 70 years ago took it upon himself to stamp "GIANTS" on the back.  I don't mind, in fact I kind of like it.  The reason Hearn was on waivers to begin with in 1950 was that he got off to a  horrific start with St. Louis, to the tune of a 10.00 ERA after 6 appearances.  All of his success that season came after the Giants claimed him, so it's a rare case where I think I actually prefer my stamped card to a clean one.

Well, there you have it, Jim Hearn and the man in the tie.  As for my 1950 Bowman set, that's 9 cards down, 243 to go...

Sunday, October 21, 2018

COMC Blaster - All Baseball, All the Time

As the baseball world pauses for a couple of days to catch its collective breath prior to the World Series, let's do a baseball only version of one of my patented "COMC Blaster" posts.  If you've read one before then you know the drill, let's take a look at how $20 in COMC credit matched up compared to your average retail blaster.

The front-runner in the 2018 AL MVP discussions seemed like an obvious choice to lead off with.  I have to admit, the design Topps used for this (online only I think?) release is not very appealing to me.  It's something a little different for my modest Mookie Betts collection though, and at just 73 cents I didn't exactly break the bank for it.

Next up, a trio of some of my favorite parallel cards ever, the 2014 Topps Finest X-Fractors.  Not all of the players on the 100-card checklist are stars, though the majority are.  This one was a need that cost me just 45 cents in credit.

I had to pony up a whole 64 cents for Justin Verlander, but given that he's consistently been one of the best arms in baseball, and is a future HOFer, that didn't seem all that unreasonable.

Jason Kipnis is still plying his trade in Cleveland, and had good power numbers this year despite a .230 average.  49 cents for this one.  With these three in hand I'm now at 16 cards out of the 100-card set of these parallels.  Chipping away!

Speaking of chipping away, my painfully slow pursuit of 1959 Topps continues with another three cards here.  Kent Hadley enjoyed a brief Major League career before, to use a Lebron James term, "taking his talents to" Japan.  Still, a nice mint specimen of a card I needed for 67 cents.

From the same seller in a bundle came this Milt Graff, again at 67 cents.  I will quite literally buy any remaining '59 that I need in this shape at 3-for-$2 prices.

The original Frank Thomas cost me 88 cents.  1959, the only season Frank would spend with the Reds, was a down year for the slugger.  He appeared in only 108 games, but even accounting for a shortened season the numbers weren't pretty.  Oh well, still looks great in the set binder!

I'm sure someone will get a laugh out of this one.  I shelled out $1.30 for this Rusney Castillo Artist's Proof parallel from Panini Diamond Kings.  It's a relatively rare card, and I'm happy to have it for my Red Sox collection, but I'd say it's one that only a team collector can appreciate most likely.

I feel like I end up showing one of these Bowman Chrome Bubbles Refractors every time I do one of these posts.  What can I say, there was a period there where I was snatching up any I could find on the cheap.  I also love just about any new Bartolo Colon card, so this one's a win for my collection on two fronts.  $1.15!

On the subject of shiny blue cards that I like quite a bit, here's a beautiful Bowman's Best Blue Refractor of my favorite active player, Xander Bogaerts.  This is my 110th Bogaerts that I've cataloged so far in my collection on TCDB, still the largest Bogaerts collection on the site at this point.  Considering this card is serial-numbered to /250 I feel I got an amazing deal on it at just 65 cents.

Every once in a while I'll comb through some vintage Topps sets that I don't have completed team sets for and see if there's any low hanging fruit that I'm missing.  That's exactly what happened here with this '67 Mike Ryan.  My cost?  43 cents.

I paid $1.62 on the other hand for this '71 Bill Lee.  Why would I do that?

Because it's an O-Pee-Chee!  These floating heads are some of the most well-done card backs in the history of baseball cards in my opinion, and in that of many collectors.  Feels great to add the floating head of one of baseball's more unique characters to my collection at last.

I'm a sucker for the '90 Leaf buybacks from the 2012 Leaf Memories set.  I know they're corny but those of you collecting back then remember what a big deal 1990 Leaf was I'm sure.  These are kind of fun to chase being relatively rare at just 20 copies each.  I think it's my third Red Sox card as far as these parallels go.  Believe it or not, this is the most expensive card in today's post at $2.36.

Here's a cheapie.  Since I'm helpless in the face of a good shiny card I couldn't resist throwing two quarters and a nickel at this Finest Koji Uehara Prism Refractor.

The 2011 Topps Cognac parallels were just fantastic.  In fact, I'm not sure if Topps has made a parallel I like more in the time since.  I've always loved Jamie Moyer (I mean, he was 48 years old when this card was printed!), so I couldn't leave this behind at 45 cents.

The legends parallels I enjoy even more.  Just about any that are available at a buck or less that I don't already have are going to get snagged.  That's exactly what happened here with Paul O'Neill for an even dollar...

...and Frank Robinson, who was an even better steal at 75 cents.  Man, for 75 cents I'd probably buy duplicates of this card just because it's so beautiful.

Continuing the theme of cards I got for 75 cents, here's a nice framed parallel of Mookie Betts from Panini Diamond Kings, the 2016 version.  That was a year or two ago now, I doubt I'll find another at that price again.

As a Red Sox fan, there's almost nothing more visually appealing than a Topps Chrome Red Refractor parallel.  The only problem is they're pretty damn rare.  This Will Middlebrooks, for example, is numbered to just /25 copies.  I paid $2.32 for it just because it's rare that I ever get the opportunity to pick one up, regardless of the player.

One of my all-time white whales would be the Xander Bogaerts Red Refractor from the very same set as the Middlebrooks above.  I've never seen one, but I'd be prepared to pay dearly should I ever encounter the card.

I've mentioned on a few occasions that 2007 Goudey was the set that got me back into collecting over a decade ago now.  A handful of the painful short prints still elude me to this day, but that number has dropped by one now with Tony Gwynn in hand.  $1.27 well spent!

Here's one that I absolutely should not have waited years to pick up.  I was never fortunate enough to pull Jackie Robinson's base card in any of the packs of 2014 Stadium Club that I opened, but I was able to rectify that at long last courtesy of COMC, and for just 74 cents.  What an image!

The 21 cards in today's post bring us to a total of $19.87, so we'll obviously call it there.  A whole bunch of awesome cards for my collection, and saved 12 cents off a blaster price at that!

Hope you saw at least a card or two that interested you.  Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Cardboard from Sweden!

Today I've got a long overdue post, featuring some fantastic cardboard that made its way to my little household here in Rhode Island all the way from Sweden!  These all arrived in a trade package a few months ago from my buddy Oscar, one of Shoebox Legends' international friends.

Oscar is an awesome guy, and though we've never met in person he enjoys this blog and has taken it upon himself to ship cards halfway around the world to me on more than one occasion now.  Just some further evidence that sports card collectors are among some of the friendliest people you'll meet anywhere on the globe.

Oscar sent so many cards that I couldn't possibly do his trade package justice here today, but I have picked out a few highlights to share with you.  First of all, you can't go wrong with '94-95 Flair hockey.  Flair was basically the definition of high-end in the days before autographs, patches and scarce serial-numbered inserts ruled the land.  These really hold up and still look classy to this day.  I'd love to complete the set and display it in a binder someday.

Here's a unique one, featuring Chad Johnson of the Hartford Wolf Pack.  The Whalers may be gone (though the Carolina Hurricanes are going to don the sweaters for a couple of games this season against the Bruins, and yes I have tickets to that game in Boston already!), but we still have the Wolf Pack.  They're the AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers.  Though I have been trying to thin my collection down overall in the past few months, I'll certainly hang on to this one due to the local ties.

How about some soccer cards?  It is Premier League Saturday, after all.  Oscar's package included my very first three cards from this particular Topps Premier League Gold set.

I really like the minimalist design, and sending me a star player from my personal favorite club (Liverpool) is a sure way to make any trade package a success.

Perhaps my favorite of the trio though is this RC of Tottenham Hotspur mid-fielder Dele Alli.  This guy is a ton of fun to watch, and teamed up with the great Harry Kane has been one of the more entertaining players in the league at times over the past few seasons.  Love this card!

Oscar knows I like the Whalers, and always seems to include some in his trade packages.  It's getting harder and harder to find holes in my Whalers collection as the years roll by, and some of the cards Oscar sent along were dupes, but he did find a couple of new ones including this Parkhurst SE card of goalie Jeff Reese.

From the same set, I also needed this Sean Burke, which as you can see in the lower left is a "Parkie" parallel.  This pair of new Whalers cards will help me further climb the ranks towards my goal of having the #1 Hartford Whalers collection on the Trading Card Database.  The ones I already had didn't go to waste either, as they've already been routed to Billy at Cardboard History.

Speaking of the Whalers, here's a great Rookie Materials Jersey card of Henrik Samuelsson, son of former Whalers defenseman Ulf Samuelsson.  Another card with some pretty cool local ties for me, plus it's not every day that you see a Coyotes swatch of this shade on a card.  Very cool.

Here's an obscure one.  Matt Lindblad played in four total games with the Bruins, the only four games of his NHL career, before hanging up the skates.  He's still with the organization now, just in a scouting capacity.  I really enjoy cards like this of short-term players for the teams I follow, great stuff.

Next up, a nice Black Rainbow Foil O-Pee-Chee parallel of Johnny Boychuk.  Like many Bruins fans, I loved this guy when he suited up for the B's.  Johnny is still playing in the NHL, now with the Islanders in his 12th season in the league.  This card is serial-numbered to /100, and will look great paired up with the Jaromir Jagr I have from this same parallel set.

Here's another fan favorite who played on a lot of those same Bruins teams with Boychuck a few years back.  Both of these players are firmly entrenched in the hearts of fans as well due to the fact that they were significant contributors to the 2011 Stanley Cup winning team.  A nice relic card here indeed.

As nice as that Lucic is, the final hockey card I have to show today puts it to shame.  It's not every day that you receive a dual relic card of one of the greatest defensemen in NHL history in your mailbox.  Simply fantastic, I'm not sure what I did to deserve this one but I'll take it!

Oscar knows I'm a big Red Sox fan as well, and this time he tossed in a couple of baseball cards to top off the package.  I'd imagine Boston Red Sox cards may not be the easiest thing to come across over in Sweden, so I was shocked and amazed to find a pair of them included.  I know there are about a million Henry Owens cards out there, but an autograph's an autograph and this one's nice and shiny as well.

Let's close the post out with this jaw-dropper.  Yup, that's a piece of HOFer Jim Rice's bat.  What a beautiful relic card.  For some reason, when it comes to baseball cards, I've always enjoyed bat relics more so than jerseys.  This one will certainly remain a cherished part of my Red Sox collection, not only because it's a great card, but because of the backstory and the fact that a collector halfway around the world whom I've never met in person just sent it to me out of the kindness of his heart.

I finally got off my butt this week and got together some return cards for Oscar.  In fact, I was so stunned by his generosity that I purchased some football cards on eBay just to send back to him (Oscar's a big NFL fan, and football cards can be tough to locate in his country).  I'll have that on the way to you in the coming days Oscar!  In the meantime...

Tack så mycket!
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