Thursday, January 31, 2019

One Card Post - Orange Magma

What:  2017 Topps High Tek Orange Magma Diffractor - Xander Bogaerts (#'d /25)
Where: COMC
How Much?:  $6.25

Why?:  Here's another of my COMC Black Friday purchases from last year that I hadn't gotten around to showing yet.  Every so often I search the site for Xander Bogaerts cards, as he's really the only active baseball player that I player collect.  When I stumbled upon this "Orange Magma Diffractor" on the higher end price-wise of what was available (around $8), I was intrigued.  I'm a confessed sucker for acetate cards, thus have always been a fan of Topps' various Tek releases, and this was a rare enough Bogaerts card that I might not stumble across another copy for years, if ever.  I threw out an offer of $6.25, the lowest the seller would even consider, and was pleased when they agreed.

My favorite thing about this card is that it reminds me so much of the orange lava lamp that I had in my bedroom as a teenager.  I loved that thing, and spent more hours than I'd care to admit just listening to music in its glow.  Looked pretty much like the back of this card:

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Grabbing Gretzkys - 1989-90 O-Pee-Chee

There's little doubt as to who the greatest player in the history of hockey is, at least in my mind.  More so than in maybe any of the other "big four" professional sports, I feel like there's a consensus among hockey fans when it comes to this debate.

If you polled a group of 1,000 die-hard hockey fans I'm sure you'd get some votes for Bobby Orr, or Gordie Howe scattered throughout.  Maybe a few for Maurice Richard, or Mark Messier?  Mario Lemieux or Patrick Roy even?  Dare I say Alex Ovechkin?  I'm sure a few others would be mentioned in a poll that large, but I'm willing to bet at least 90% or more would respond with Wayne Gretzky.  95% maybe?  99% (hah!) even?

Wayne was still playing, and was still considered the undisputed king of the game, when I first became a rabid hockey fan and began playing the sport myself in the late '80s.  Not surprisingly, I was enthralled by The Great One, and hoarded any of his cards that I encountered during my first run at collecting way back then.

Well, over the past couple of years, one of the things I've done in the hobby has been to target some unique additions to help bolster my humble collection of the greatest player ever to lace up skates.  My goal here is not to become some kind of Gretzky super-collector.  He's understandably one of the most desirable names in the hobby, and I don't have tens of thousands of dollars to spend on his memorabilia.  Even if I did, that pursuit would drive me nuts.

Instead, I hope to just improve my small collection of Gretzky cards by acquiring graded examples of his "playing era" cards that I remember most fondly, maybe some oddballs and a tough to find '90s insert or two, and ultimately an autograph to really hammer the player collection home.  I've done well in my pursuit I think, and I plan to share some of them on the blog this year in a series called "Grabbing Gretzkys".

First up, the first Wayne Gretzky card I ever owned, and also the first Wayne Gretzky card I ever pulled myself from a pack!

Way back in 1989, my brothers and I had started playing ice hockey, and around that time my Dad began bringing home packs of 1989-90 Topps and O-Pee-Chee hockey for us to open at the kitchen table.  We each had a three ring binder and would spend hours trading with each other and sorting and re-sorting our cards in their plastic sheets.

I have a complete mint set of '89-90 O-Pee-Chee now that I picked up a few years back, and I still have my original childhood three ring binder as well.  Even still, this card evokes such memories that I couldn't resist the opportunity to add a graded copy to my collection too, especially since it set me back all of $7 shipped.

1989-90 was Wayne's second season in Los Angeles, and even with 10 years of his NHL career already behind him he was still playing at an absolute elite level.  He recorded over 100 assists, and ended up with 142 points.  That was good for most in the league, and Gretzky won his unprecedented 8th Art Ross Trophy.

A modest addition to kick this project off, but one that packs a whole lot of punch on the nostalgia scale for this collector.  I'd love to complement this one with a PSA 9 of the Topps version someday, but only if I can bring it home for less than $10 like I did here.

As I mentioned, I've got some more unique Gretzky cards to show off here in the coming weeks, so expect some more "Grabbing Gretzkys" posts soon!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Buyback Franken-set: Chris the Collector Contributes!

Recently I was the recipient of a great PWE from Chris, who does excellent work over at the aptly named blog, The Collector.  In the latest example of just how generous folks in this hobby are, Chris went out of his way to pick up a few buybacks for my franken-set project while shopping on COMC recently!

Before we get to those though, let's take a look at a few of the other cards that accompanied them in the envelope.  Like this pair of '84-85 O-Pee-Chee cards of Gordie's son Marty Howe...

...and the Whalers leaders card.  This is one of the few O-Pee-Chee sets of the '80s that I've actually completed, though I have at least a handful of cards that I need a condition upgrade on.  The two that Chris sent here are in damn fine condition, I haven't had an opportunity to check yet but I'm relatively sure both of these are condition upgrades that will find their way into my set.  Speaking of condition, Chris is actually attempting this set himself, but in a grade of PSA 9.  Wow!

Rounding out the Whalers portion of the envelope, a great '86-87 Topps Mike Liut.  This is actually one of my favorite cards from this set, just because of the fact that it wasn't all that common to get an action photo that included the puck back in this era.  I've completed this set as well, but like the O-Pee-Chee cards above this may be a condition upgrade.  If not, I certainly know where I can send it to give it a good home!

There were a handful of Red Sox cards in the package, not surprising given that Chris collects the team just like I do.  A few of them were dupes (already on their way to a good home!), but this Cecil Cooper from 1976 Topps...

...and this '94 O-Pee-Chee Otis Nixon increased my count for this team collection on The Trading Card Database.  This is actually the first time I've ever seen a 1994 OPC baseball card in person.  Very cool that they had their own unique design rather than mimicking Topps as was done most years.

Now let's take a look at the buybacks.  Chris grabbed four of them for me in total...

1991 Topps #82 - Tom Glavine

Coming out strong here with a HOF hurler from one of my favorite Topps sets ever!  Not only that, but I love when a buyback comes from a set that represents a particularly good year in a player's career, and that's certainly the case with this one.  Tom had arguably his best season in 1991, winning the first of two career Cy Young Awards, hitting the 20-win plateau for the first time, and pitching 9 complete games!

I can't imagine there are too many buybacks, especially at a relatively obscure card number like 82, that will keep this one from the binder.  I do have one in slot 82 already...

...and it's Bob Hendley rocking an insanely level flat-top on his '66 release.  You could practically use that thing as a level for hanging a shelf or a frame at home.  If you've read my blog for very long, then you know my feeling on cap-less players like this.

Glavine wins in an absolute route!

1968 Topps #245 - Tony Gonzalez

Next we've got Tony Gonzalez on a very clean-looking 1968 Topps card.  This is actually now the oldest gold foil Rediscover Topps buyback that I've accumulated to date.  Tony had a few very good seasons, even garnered MVP votes on more than one occasion, but 1968 wasn't one of them.  I do like the aesthetics of this particular card though, a classic pose from Tony and the Phillies colors really pop against that much lighter green and brown backdrop.

Already have this '72 Tommie Agee in slot 245.  This is one of those cases where I like the card almost because it's so ugly or odd.  I just like that Tommie looks tired, and didn't bother to remove his jacket for the photo here.  Not only that, but I prefer '72 Topps to '68 as far as design goes, so...

...Gonzalez loses in a close one.

1968 Topps #91 - Jim Ollom

Next up, "Chinless" Jim Ollom (not his real nickname, just made that up).  This one's actually got career stats on the back, as the 1966 and 1967 seasons constitute the entirety of Ollom's MLB career.  While he might not have amounted to much at baseball's highest level, I truly adore the Heritage box-topper buybacks.  They're actually my favorite type of buyback card, and I will absolutely give every single one of them a good home in my collection.  Will that home be in the franken-set binder though, or the rejected box?

Tough draw for Jim, as this '73 Dodgers team card already resides in slot 91 of the binder.  I love a good team card, in fact I wish we still had them in the flagship set.  This one features a sport coat to boot!

Tough luck, Jim.

1961 Topps #90 - Jerry Staley

Finally, here's a 1961 Topps Jerry Staley (typically spelled Gerry).  Amazingly, this is now the oldest silver foil Rediscover Topps buyback that I've landed to date.  Crazy that with all the buybacks I have at this point Chris did that twice among this grouping of four.  What's even more amusing is that this exact buyback has been in my cart more than once on COMC, just never pulled the trigger on it.  I recognized it immediately and it certainly made me smile.

Gerry made his Major League debut all the way back in 1947, and wrapped up his 15-season MLB career in 1961.  I love the close portrait of the grizzled veteran on this one.  Perhaps the best thing about this buyback though is that it's the first #90 buyback that I've encountered, thus makes the binder by default and knocks another number off the list!

Chris, it was so nice of you to seek out some buybacks on my behalf, thank you so much!  Even the two that didn't make the cut for the franken-set are beauts, and the Glavine and Staley cards really strengthened up the binder.  I'm notoriously slow, but will try to have your return cards in the mail this coming week.

My next Buyback Franken-set post will also contain buybacks that were gifted to me by a fellow blogger.  Stay tuned!

Franken-set Progress: 640/792 (80%)
1990 Topps Buyback Set: 106/792 (13%)
"Rejected" Buybacks: 568
Total Buybacks in Collection: 1,314

Monday, January 28, 2019

Capitalizing on a Poorly Listed Charlie Hustle

Think what you will about the guy as a person, but there's no denying that Pete Rose was one of the best hitters in baseball history.  Certainly one of the best contact hitters in the history of the game, maybe the best.  When I first became a sports fan and card collector as a kid, Rose's name was already tainted due to his alleged (and later admitted) betting on the game while still a player and manager.  That didn't stop me from being in awe of who Pete was as a player though, even from a young age.

I understand the gravity of the betting, and that it's clearly a violation of the rules.  I also understand that Rose didn't help his own case at all by denying the accusations for so many years.  On top of that, the guy seems to have a "bristly" personality and doesn't seem very easy to like.  Despite all of that, I wish Pete and Major League Baseball could somehow settle their differences while he's still around to do so.  Just seems like a shame for the sport that the all-time hit king could pass in the coming years without that reconciliation ever happening.  If folks think Bonds and Clemens will eventually get into Cooperstown, then why not Rose?

Anyway, enough about that.  This post is about my second card purchase of the calendar year.  After picking up a Bill Nyrop RC on New Year's Day for 99 cents, I hadn't purchased anything for a few days.  That changed when I got an email that my eBay Bucks certificate from the fourth quarter of 2018 was available, and I had a credit just shy of $15 to spend.  I hit the site looking for a bargain and boy did I ever find one:

The 1964 Topps Pete Rose "All-Star Rookie Cup" card is finally mine!  This is a card that I have coveted for a good 25-30 years now.  I've watched countless copies over the course of time but for whatever reason was never able to land one until now.  Sure, his 1963 card is his most expensive and desirable, and I wouldn't mind owning one someday, but his '64 is just a much more pleasing card if you ask me.  Aside from being his first solo Topps card, I just love the image and of course the giant rookie cup logo.

I certainly would not have imagined that I'd be landing a copy of this one during what I've dubbed the "Year of Frugality" for my collection, of all times.  How did I manage that?  Well, this is a classic case of a seller just doing an awful disservice to themselves when listing their card.  Check out this screenshot from the completed auction:

Couple of mistakes here.  First of all, rotating the scan so the card was upright probably would have helped a bit.  The much more egregious error though was simply listing the card with the auction title "1964 pete rose Card Graded".  No mention of PSA, hell they didn't even manage to get the word Topps in there! 

Might be a little hard to see, you can click the image for a larger version, but these mistakes led to me taking this card home at the bargain basement price of just $30.99.  Add in my eBay Bucks discount, and I added one of the vintage baseball cards I've always desired most to my collection for less than the price of a retail blaster!

The back of the card is clean, too.  No glue or paper loss or anything of that nature.

In fact, this card is really a perfect specimen for my collection.  A couple of the corners, particularly the upper left and lower right, are touched a bit, but the card looks beautiful and presents really strongly for something PSA considered a "lowly" 2.  I've had the card in my possession for at least a couple of weeks now, and I still grin every time I look at it.  It may only be January, but I'm confident this one will make my Top 19 of 2019 countdown come year end.

Can you think of a time when you scored an amazing deal on eBay thanks to an item being poorly listed, or poorly described?  I'm certainly glad I stumbled upon this one!

1964 Topps Pete Rose - $16.07 ($30.99 -$14.92 eBay Bucks)
2019 Running Total (as of 1/5/19) - $17.06

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Signature Sundays - Gump!

It's All-Star Weekend for the NHL, and we're back to hockey for our Signature Sundays autograph post this week.  A great one too in my opinion, goaltender Lorne "Gump" Worsley!

What a great looking hockey card, huh?  I'm not entirely certain, but I believe these 2001-02 Parkhurst autographs from In the Game were among the earliest pack-pulled on-card certified autographs available for many of the HOFers in the 59-card set.  I love the simplistic design, and the fantastic photograph of Gump.  I'm a sucker for just about any goalie card with a photograph from the era of brown pads and wooden sticks.

Worsley was one of the better netminders of his day, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy for Rookie of the Year, four Stanley Cups, and a couple of Vezinas too!  He was enshrined in the Hockey HOF in 1980.

Here's the back.  Not a whole lot to it, but it does clearly authenticate the autograph on the front.  I guess that's about all you can ask for.  While these are not serial-numbered, the print runs of these cards are generally known and acknowledged, and range from just 20 copies on the rarer side, up to 90 copies.  Worsley is one of the most common ones, with 90 copies in circulation, however that's still a somewhat rare autograph.  I don't stumble upon these all that often myself, so I was pleased to snatch this one up when I did back in 2014.

There are some really big-name players in this set, and I love that all the cards are hard-signed.  I actually picked up a couple of other autos from this same set from the seller, but I've decided I'm going to package those up and send them off to a hobby friend that I am long overdue in sending something significant to.  I'm hanging onto Gump here for my own collection though, as it's my first and only autograph of his.  There aren't a whole ton of them available out there either, as he passed away in 2007 from a heart attack.

So there you have it, one of my older and certainly most prized certified hockey autographs.  For those of you that collect hockey, have you ever come across any of these Parkhurst autos?  Do you have any in your own collection?  Would love to hear about it if so...

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Christmas Cards! Golden Treasures Part V

It's Saturday, so you know what that means.  Time to tackle the next three packs from the Golden Treasures repack that I received from my parents this holiday season...

Today's appetizer is a pack of 1992 Donruss Triple Play.  A healthy 15 cards per pack, let's tear in...

Alright, this has to be a good sign.  HOFer Paul Molitor greeted me as I peeled back the wrapper.

The design here is bright, I'll say that.  Reminds me of those '70s "tequila sunrise" Astros jerseys.

I think these would have worked better had Donruss allowed some portion of the player to overlap the inner border for the photograph.  As constituted, they look a bit flat in my humble opinion.

There are one or two players who I seem to be pulling with some frequency in this repack, and Howard Johnson is one of 'em.

Nice, this one's a keeper for me.  Big Hurt was a big deal when I was a kid, and I still enjoy picking up new Frank Thomas cards to this day.

Amazingly, my very next card was Jeff Bagwell.  This one's a definite keeper as well.  Thomas and Bagwell were two of the biggest emerging stars in the game at this stage, this would have been maybe the best pack in the box back in '92!

It's not all about guys enshrined in Cooperstown though, as this pack had some good supporting, middle-tier stars like Orel Hershiser and Tino Martinez.

Here's an odd one.  Can you guess who this childhood photo is?  It's actually kind of obvious, or at least it was to me.  Yup, that's Cal Ripken, Jr., another player I seem to be pulling a lot of cards of in this box.  I love Ripken, but I'll probably send this one to Joe Shlabotnik in an upcoming trade package if he needs it.

The last card in the pack was my insert, a Gallery of Stars Jack Morris.  I set this aside to ship north of the border in my next package to Douglas.

The main course for today is a pack of 2003 Upper Deck Victory.  Certainly one of the more odd products in the repack.  This is from the absolute desolate wasteland of collecting for me personally, as sports cards were the farthest thing on my mind in 2003.  Just six cards per pack, and...

...they have rounded corners?  I have to say, that's something that doesn't appeal all that much to me.  I think it's because rounded corners are one of the qualities that separate playing cards from trading cards in my mind, and Upper Deck is blurring that line with this set.

Love the retro attire here, but man, those corners...

I think I got a decent pack of this stuff, as I received this blue Barry Bonds parallel, serial-numbered to /650.  It's impossible to tell, but I think Barry may be tipping his cap to the crowd here?

I think this is an insert?

Another great photograph here to close out the pack at least.  While I don't see myself hanging onto any of these, I think I did well with some interesting pulls out of just a 6-card pack.

For dessert, 1994 Fleer!  This is a set that I have seen before, and I think it's a solid, clean design.  Don't think I've ever opened a pack of the stuff though.  Let's check it out...

Yeah, I really like this set.  If it weren't for the fact that I'm trying to go the opposite direction and reduce my overall collection size, I'd consider putting this one together.  I'm generally a fan of sets that focus on large, crisp, quality photographs with minimally invasive design elements, and this one fits the bill.

I scanned a back for you, because I think these are as well done as the fronts.  Kudos, Fleer!

A good one-two punch to start my pack.  Sure, Strawberry and Beck each had their struggles, but they each shined at times too.  A couple of notable names anyway to lead things off, and check out that 'stache!


My one insert was a great one, Luis Ortiz of the Red Sox from the Major League Prospects set.  Not only did I pull a Sox insert here, but I already had the other Red Sox card from this insert set, so this one completes my Red Sox collection as far as this insert goes.  What are the odds of that?  This pack is an automatic winner regardless of what follows here.

Pairing quite nicely with the insert is this Mike Greenwell card, another new addition to my Red Sox collection.  This Sox fan couldn't have asked for a better pack of '94 Fleer than this!

The last card was, unbelievably, another Red Sox card.  Didn't have this one either.  With 3 Red Sox in a 15-card pack, this one single-handedly made up for the lack of Sox cards in some of the other packs in the box.

Well, that takes us 15 packs into the repack box now.  Next Saturday we'll look at packs 16-18.  Until then, thanks for stopping by!
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