Monday, June 29, 2020

The Itch to Rip - Couple Packs of '18 Stadium Club

Sometimes you just get the itch to rip.  But, what do you do when you haven't been to a big box store in months, and when on top of that there are only one or two modern products that even interest you year to year?

Well, I decided to pick up a blaster of the only product that I seem to enjoy year in and year out on the baseball front.  Topps Stadium Club.  For $24.99 with free shipping, the above blaster of the 2018 release was delivered to my doorstep during the pandemic here.

I enjoy every Stadium Club release since the brand returned for the 2014 collecting season.  Why did I choose 2018, then?  Well, the price was right, but more importantly in looking over my collection on, this is the set that was least represented as far as Stadium Club's modern run goes.  In fact, the only cards I have from this release are Red Sox, so it is a virtual lock that any base cards I pull out of this thing will be needs for me.  For once I'm hoping for a blaster bereft of Boston cards!

Just five cards per pack in the retail version of this product, with eight packs in the blaster.  You're paying ballpark $.50 per card.  Not the most economical way to work on the set but...the urge to rip!

I've cracked open the first two packs of my blaster to share on the blog here today.  Here we go...

Coming out of the gate we have a player I am not ashamed to admit I do not recognize by name at all.  Looks like Andrew had a total of 30 at-bats for Washington last year, so I guess I can forgive myself.  Does he get a 2019 World Series ring based on that contribution to the club?

Here's a name I do recognize, as Alex came to Boston as part of the Mookie Betts trade.  I'm sure Dodgers fans must be breathing a small sigh of relief after last week's announcement on the 2020 season; for a while there it looked like Mookie Betts might never see action in Dodger blue!

Bonus points for the visible parking lot in the background of this card.

Pulled an insert in this first pack, a Cody Bellinger Power Zone.  Snooze.  I'll throw this one on the stack for the upcoming card giveaway I'm planning for my hobby friends/followers/trade partners, I guess.

Garrett Cooper got into just 14 games with Miami in 2018, but then his role grew last year as he swatted .281 with 15 home runs and 50 RBI in 107 games with the Marlins.

Last card in the first pack is catcher Mitch Garver of the Twins.  Easily the winner of the best photograph in the pack award.  Mitch exploded last year to the tune of 31 home runs for Minnesota.

Amazingly, or maybe not so amazingly given that this is produced by Topps after all, every single card in my first pack other than the insert was a RC.  I don't really view that as a positive honestly, would prefer to see some veterans, and even better some retired legends, mixed in.

Let's crack the second pack before we call it a day...

Alright, we've got a veteran here at least.  Chris has put up some monster numbers at times, but has also famously struggled mightily in the batter's box.

We're immediately back on the rookie train though, with Angels hurler Parker Bridwell.  After posting an ERA on the wrong side of 17.00 last year (yes, you read that correctly), he's now apparently property of the Twins.

Another veteran, with Wil Myers of the Padres.  About as bland a photograph as you could expect from this brand.

Greg Allen has served as sort of a utility/fourth outfielder for Cleveland over his first three seasons.  I honestly don't know much about the guy, but his statistics look about in line with what you'd expect from a utility/fourth outfielder for the Indians.

All base cards in my second pack, which I actually prefer, but man the number of rookies is just problematic to me.  At least Harrison Bader makes a bit more sense, as he's averaged over 130 games played over the last two years for the Cards.  Plus, that's a pretty great photograph of Bader completely suspended in mid-air while diving for a catch.

Still though, out of nine base cards in these first two packs, seven of them featured unproven rookies who had barely sniffed an MLB roster prior to this set being released.  Yikes.  I didn't look over the checklist as I don't want to spoil what's potentially left in my remaining six packs, but let's hope this is a weird coincidence.  I'd love to find more veterans and stars (and a bit more of the stunning photography that Stadium Club is known for as well) in the remaining portion of this blaster.

That's a wrap for today.  I'll be back with another couple packs of this soon, in the meantime thanks as always for stopping by!

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Signature Sundays - Yaz!

Just a quick, single-card autograph post today, but it's a really significant one as far as my Red Sox collection goes!  Check this guy out:

Oh yeah!  This emerald beauty represents my very first Carl Yastrzemski autographed card!  I don't chase autographed cards with the fervor that I did a few years back, but I still have a decent back-log of them to scan, add to my proper inventoried collection, and feature here on the blog.  Yaz here was one of those back-logged cards.  Picked this up back in 2017, and it was actually completely free, as I used my third quarter eBay bucks certificate that year to cover the cost of the card in its entirety (was under $50).

I've shown off these 2005 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes Emerald Autograph cards before, and just absolutely adore them.  They take me right back to the Nolan Ryan and Reggie Jackson Heroes inserts I'd get so excited over as a kid collector in the early '90s.  At 99 hard-signed copies each, these are just scarce enough to feel really rewarding when you land a new one, yet prevalent enough that they're not impossible to find in the wild.

I love the signature on this card in particular, as Carl was not shy about using a big, bold autograph to fill the entire horizontal expanse of the card.  A real gem!  I've actually got this guy propped up in a small stand on my home office desk now to provide a little joy during these working-at-home, uncertain times.

Here's the back, not much to these other than an assurance as to the authenticity of the signature on the front.

I'm up to 18 of these Emerald Autographs and counting now from the 2005 Baseball Heroes release.  With 100 cards in the set, I don't think I'll ever complete it, but I don't really aim to either.  Just appreciating each one that I am fortunate enough to acquire is good enough for me.

I still don't have any of Yaz's first three Topps issues ('60 RC, '61 Rookie Stars, or '62), which feels like a pretty glaring hole for a Red Sox collector like myself.  Picking up an autograph was essential though, and with the motivation from finally posting and appreciating this awesome signature still fresh, maybe I'll hunt down one of those vintage needs soon.

Thanks as always for stopping by, enjoy your Sunday, and stay safe!

Friday, June 26, 2020

The Itch to Rip - 1991 Topps Pack

Sometimes you just get the itch to rip.  Here's a pack of 1991 Topps from my pack shelf, part of a wax box that I've been slowly ripping through over time while hand-collating a set.  Last Topps flagship set printed on classic cardboard stock, last Topps flagship set to include a stick of gum.  The end of an era...

Tim Belcher leads us off, and his Dodgers cap is a good example of how the player photograph is allowed to overlap the border of the card to add some dimension.

This one made me chuckle, just because I can remember what a huge prospect McDonald was when the O's drafted him in the late '80s.  A really great-looking card here, with a fantastic photo and border colors that work so well with the Orioles team.

Awesome!  Always loved this card of the Big Cat.  I actually have a buyback version of this one currently in my Buyback Franken-set binder.  I know many collectors prefer vertically-oriented cards, but this is close to junk wax era perfection if you ask me!

Sweet!  Always liked the retro White Sox uniforms that appeared on some of the cards in this era.  Robin Ventura sporting the Topps All-Star Rookie Cup in that uniform is just fantastic.  I remember prizing this one as a kid.  There are actually two different versions of this card available, with this version being identifiable based on the darker brown inner border of the card shooting upwards from the Rookie Cup there.

Each pack comes with one of these Instant Win Game cards, and no it does not count as one of the promised 15 cards in the pack.  Can we talk about the fact that this pack includes 15 cards, actually?  Man, those were the days.

A nice Expos card here, and you have to love any card that features a parking lot in the background!

A nice, classic pose on this Dan Pasqua.


This one on the other hand, has to be one of the most boring cards on the checklist, no?

By contrast, Marvell Wynne received an absolutely amazing card in this release.  What an epic photograph, perfectly framed and clearly snapped at the famed Wrigley Field.  Based on photography and cropping alone, this has to be one of the nicer commons in this entire release.

Skinny-days Barry Bonds!  I really used to detest this guy maybe 15-20 years ago, even more so after reading Game of Shadows cover to cover.  These days I'm a lot more mellow about life in general, including Barry Bonds, and I actually kind of enjoy pulling his cards.  Especially the Pirates era ones.

Rounding it out with Andujar Cedeno, who for some reason the photographer asked to stand directly in front of that super distracting shadow?

That was a fun trip down memory lane, as these packs always seem to be.  Takes me right back to opening packs of this stuff after Little League games back in the day.

Thanks as always for stopping by, and I'll be back with more content later this weekend!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Grabbing Gretzkys - I Like Goooold

This week's Grabbing Gretzkys post is the perfect opportunity to show off my newest acquisition featuring The Great One.  I'd been after one of these for a while, and finally brought one home only recently...

Here's how the card arrived in my mailbox, and was listed for auction.  Pretty banged up and scuffed up screw-down holder, that was also used backwards for some reason.  It was easy to see beyond that though to appreciate the shining beauty that was protected within.

Easily the "most gold Gretzky" in my collection, this is a Gold Team insert from the 1995-96 Select Certified release.  Let's free it from its plastic prison and take a closer look...

Bam!  Simply stunning.  Gaudy?  Sure, but this thing is awesome.  The entire front got the heavy gold foil treatment.  On top of that, there's sort of a radiating pattern like sunlight that streaks across the entire card from the Gold Team logo at lower right.  Sort of reminds me of the Pinnacle Museum Collection/Rink Collection parallels in that sense.

What's really amazing about it is that Pinnacle gave the same level of attention to the back of the card!  Check it out:

Again, completely covered in gold foil, and I think I like this image even more than the one used on the front.  The background has been replaced by the words Gold Team repeated over and over.  A stunning-looking card back for sure.  I feel like this putting this much effort into a card back is something that you don't really see much these days.  A really cool touch that makes this card feel special.

Here's Wayne in his new plastic prison, much more presentable in this brand new Ultra Pro OneTouch magnetic, in a slim fit sleeve.  There's something very satisfying to my OCD about rescuing a card from a beat-up/scratched holder or case and giving it a new presentation like this.

So happy to have this unique card for my Gretzky collection.  Best part is, it set me back just $10 plus shipping.  I was more than happy to shell that out for such a scarce and intriguing card.  One of my favorite recent Gretzky additions.

I hope you found this as interesting a card as I did, and either way thanks as always for stopping by!

Monday, June 22, 2020

Back in the Saddle

Took the weekend off from blogging and spent it outside enjoying everything that is great about New England in the summer time, like this view from the hike I took on Saturday morning in NH.  It was every bit as serene as it looks.

It was a nice break both from work and from my hobbies, but it's Monday now so let's get back in the proverbial saddle here.  To get the blogging juices flowing I just grabbed ten cards that were sitting around in my home office/hobby room waiting to be processed and added to my collection, and did exactly that with them.  Let's check 'em out...

The latest '72-73 OPC high-number WHA card to enter my collection is this JC Tremblay.  I always love landing a unique new Nordiques card, but I especially like landing a new Nordiques card from before they joined the NHL!  Jean-Claude was no slouch either, widely regarded as one of the best defensemen in the NHL for a long time with Montreal before jumping ship to the WHA.  Awesome stuff.

This one was sitting around in my "to be processed" box for what seems like forever before I finally yanked it today just so that I don't have to flip past it anymore.  Seriously, it's been years.  Like, long enough that Will Middlebrooks was not only still playing professional baseball, but was still a promising young star when I grabbed it from a dollar box.  Doesn't do much for me today if I'm being honest, but it's a new Sox card in any event.

I've honestly considered taking a big batch of memorabilia, serial-numbered and autograph cards like this and seeing if I can list them on eBay as a bundle to flip into a single card or two I'd appreciate more.  So far though I haven't gotten around to that, so Middlebrooks has a place in the collection for at least a bit here.

Ditto for this one.  Margot was a notable prospect when I plucked this orange (#'d /250) parallel of his Bowman Prospects card from a discount box at a hobby shop I used to frequent.  Just like the Middlebrooks before it, this isn't a fit for my collection other than being a Red Sox card.

Here's one that I actually do enjoy for reasons other than (or in addition to) the fact that it's a Boston card.  This was printed up for the National Convention back in 2015, and is a relatively rare rookie card (#'d /25) of the young Red Sox southpaw.  I was drawn to it because it uses Panini's "Cracked Ice" technology, which is akin to the Atomic Refractors from Topps.  This is one bright and shiny rookie.  It may not have logos, but it certainly has some bling to it when you hold it in natural light.

How about a trio from Pro Set's second hockey release, the French version no less!  I always liked the small subset of hockey history cards in this release that used sepia-toned photographs.  This one is a tribute to the Toronto Maple Leafs' "Kid Line" of the 1930s.

Next up, the title "Before the Zamboni" says it all for this card.  Actually, some things never change, as if you've attended any NHL games even in the past few years then you know there are shovel crews that come out and clean off excess ice shavings during most commercial breaks to this day.  Just a really unique and cool hockey card.  Pro Set did a lot of things right during their first two hockey sets in particular.

Here's one subtitled "Arena Design".  My French is pretty poor at best, so I can't give you much of a breakdown of what this card is showing here.  Something related to the way the benches are setup I suppose.  Anyway, some cool uniforms here, both from the professional world and the world of sports.

After those three cool photographs from Pro Set, let's transition to a couple of modern hockey cards.  From the '94-95 Upper Deck set we have two of the greatest goalies of their era in Eddie the Eagle Belfour...

...and the Dominator, Dominik Hasek!  Hasek was my favorite of these two, just because of his amazing, unconventional style.  If it's possible to be under-rated as a member of the Hall of Fame I'd say Hasek might be.  Also, I love that he's got the same style face mask at the NHL level that I was rocking in Bantam League hockey around this era!

Last up for today, a '98 Stadium Club Mark McGwire.  I ran across a pack or two's worth of cards from this set when I was purging recently.  I got rid of all of them except for this Big Mac, just because it's from the famed 1998 season.  I actually have the McGwire/Sosa documentary and the Griffey Jr. one that debuted on the MLB Network last night both on my DVR.  Can't wait to dive into those two soon to ease a little of the pain from the lack of live sports.

Well, that's all I've got time for today.  Hope you enjoyed these random ten cards, and I'll be back soon with something that's got a bit more structure to it.  Until then, thanks as always for stopping by!

Friday, June 19, 2020

Shiny Cardboard - Some Recent Pick-ups

It's time for another installment of Shiny Cardboard, guessed it...shiny cardboard!  I've actually got a trifecta of flashy beauties today, all of which arrived in the mailbox sometime over the past couple of weeks...

First up, I really love these Stadium Club Rainbow Foilboard parallels.  Year in and year out, the Stadium Club brand has remained probably the one set on the baseball release calendar that interests me each summer.  Give me that same simplistic, full bleed design and those fantastic photographs, but on a bright, reflective, rainbow foil stock and I'm sold.  Just look at how this Edwin Encarnacion almost glows.  Awesome stuff.

These are actually really tough cards, serial numbered to just /25 each.  While this particular example isn't exactly one of the better cards in last year's set, I snagged it simply because of the really cheap price.  $2 Buy-It-Now with $1 shipping.  Sold!

Here's a look at the back.  The serial numbering is tough to make out, but it's at bottom center, just above all the legal fine print.  I think part of the reason it was available so cheaply maybe is that the seller listed it as an "Edwin Escobar" card?  Never heard of Mariners' power hitter Edwin Escobar before!

From an earlier Stadium Club release, here's another Rainbow Foilboard.  I like this one immensely more than the Encarnacion.  Honestly, you can't ask for a better photograph than that.  The retired stars are my absolute favorite Stadium Club cards, and this Whitey Ford is a prime example of why.

I love that the rainbow foil is not applied to the player on the card, which really creates a sort of 3-D effect in addition to all the brightness.  Here's a better look at how cool the card looks in hand with a pic snapped from my iPhone, though it's really tough to take photos without catching myself or the camera/background in the reflection due to the card's brightness:

Look at those colors in the skyline/scoreboard area.  Simply beautiful cards.  Believe it or not, this one didn't set me back a whole lot more than the Encarnacion, less than $6 anyway.  Amazingly, I benefited from two inaccurate auction descriptions for these parallels in a matter of days, as this one was listed as "Whitey Ford - New York Rangers".  Last time I checked, Whitey never played a game for the Blue Shirts!

This one's numbered to /25 as well, as they have been in I believe every Stadium Club release since the brand's re-inception in 2014.  Honestly this one is right up there in terms of my favorite Ford card.  I love it every bit as much as the couple of playing-era cards that I have of the Yankees hurler.

Last card for today, my latest 1999 Bowman's Best Refractor, and of the man who was my favorite baseball player at the time this set came out no less.  These look so amazing in hand, with the etching and blinding gold surface.  Numbered to just /400, there are 200 cards on the checklist; 100 established stars and 100 rookies.  I'm really only interested in the 100 established stars portion of the set honestly, and this is my third one now (Vlad Guerrero Performers and Todd Helton being the others).

At some point I'd like to get a copy without that printing line that you see going across the card through Nomah's legs, but with only 400 copies in existence I can't afford to be too picky at this point.  Besides, the card only cost me a couple bucks so it's a great placeholder at the very least.

Here's a look at the back, with the numbering being at the bottom of the color photograph there.

An impressive trio of shiny cards today if you ask me.  I'm always on the lookout for Stadium Club Rainbow Foil and '99 Bowman's Best Refractors, so I'm sure you'll see more from these releases on the blog at some point down the line.

Thanks as always for stopping by, and enjoy your weekend!
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