Saturday, October 31, 2020

Three from COMC - '54s!

As I mentioned in a previous post, last Saturday I finally received my COMC order that I requested shipment of back in the first week of June.  I was beginning to think I'd never see the cards, so I'm relieved to have these in hand at last.

The day sort of got ahead of me today thanks to a long afternoon nap, but let's spend a couple of minutes looking at a sweet trio of '54 Bowmans that were included in the package...

Karl Drews of the Phillies is up first.  I didn't pick this up for any particular reason other than the fact that it was cheap.  As far as 1954 releases go, I like the Bowman effort better than Topps', so I'm sort of half-heartedly collecting the set.

Drews was an imposing 6'4" presence on the mound over an impressive 21 seasons of professional baseball.  Sadly, he died not long after retiring, at age 43, when he was struck by a drunk driver while trying to flag down a passing car after his own had broken down.

Next up, an interesting facial expression from Sherm Lollar.  Lollar was a very under-rated 9x All-Star and 2x World Series champion backstop.  There are some that make an argument that he should be considered for enshrinement maybe.  I'm not sure I'd go that far personally, but what do I know, I never saw the man play in person.  

This card's a little off-center, but it's a great example of the vibrant color that makes this release so enjoyable to me.

Karl Drews may have been an imposing force on the mound at 6'4", but Bob Rush was every bit as tall as he was.  You can really get a sense for Rush's extended frame on this card.  Strange Cubs uniform here with the red piping below CHICAGO.  Just totally random chance that I ended up with two of the taller hurlers from this age among this grouping of three cards.

This trio puts me at 41 cards and counting now from this release, which is much better progress than I thought I'd be making at this stage given that I don't prioritize picking these up as often as I probably should.  With one or two exceptions, I don't think I've paid more than a dollar or two for any of them, either.  With just 224 cards in the set I'm quickly closing in on 20% complete, so who knows, maybe I will get there someday.

Thanks as always for stopping by, and enjoy your Saturday night!

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Mid-Week Draft Folder Fodder

I actually find myself with a little bit of free time for posting tonight, which feels like a minor miracle of late.  I don't have the kind of time it would take to pull some new stuff, scan or photograph it, and post, so instead let's pump out some backlogged images from my drafts folder...

First up, a French Bulldog "Collectible Canines" insert from last year's Allen & Ginter set.  I purchased this card for a very obvious reason...

...and that is the fact that Shoebox Legends' official assistant is indeed a French Bulldog.  This is Leo, who I'm fairly certain made an appearance on the blog when we first brought him home around three years ago now.  He's my favorite pet of all time, so well behaved that he hasn't even chewed a single card yet.  

Seriously, he has free reign of my office/card room, door is always left open and he even goes in there and naps alone sometimes.  There are small stacks of cards everywhere, many of which are within his very limited reach.  Sometimes he's even home alone with access to them, and not a tooth mark or toppled pile yet.  What a good boy!  The trick is that I let him nibble on an unlicensed Panini Prizm baseball card when he was still a puppy, which obviously put a rotten taste in his mouth (totally kidding).

Here's the write-up on the back.  I popped this one into one of those UltraPro OneTouch magnetic holders specifically for minis (which are amazing, by the way), and it's displayed on my home office desk, which has been my work area for coming up on 8 months now.  Nice work with this insert set, Topps!

Here's a really stunning Pedro card that I only got to scanning and adding to my collection formal very recently, even though I purchased it probably close to two years ago, maybe longer.  Everyone fawns over the 1993 Finest Refractors, and it's easy to see why.  To me, though not nearly as coveted, these '94s are equally beautiful.  This card practically glows, easily my new favorite pre-Red Sox Martinez card.

I got an absolute steal on this too, as a Buy-It-Now for $10 flat.  Nowadays, I have a feeling I'd have to drop more than that to acquire one of these.

I've been selling a lot of my soccer cards on eBay these past few months because the market for them went absolutely insane (it's calmed slightly in the past couple of weeks, but overall is still solid).  One that I decided to keep though is this Pitch Kings insert of Leo Messi from 2015 Donruss.  It's not worth enough to bother listing on its own, and besides I like the artwork, even if it is a little spooky.

Last but not least, here's a card that arrived in the mailbox just today.  I've sold a few of my Mookie Betts cards via eBay auction this week, with him being in the World Series again and all he's getting some hobby attention for sure.  Since I was pumping quite a few of them out of the collection, I decided to bring in this new one to offset things just a bit.  Cost me less than $2, with free shipping.  Technically it's a Purple parallel, though it looks very pink both in this scan and in hand.

I know what you may be thinking.  Earlier in this post I made a crack about unlicensed Panini sets being terrible, why would I buy this?  Well, the reason I don't enjoy most Panini baseball products is simply the fact that they don't have a license.  I think they should have an MLB license, because exclusivity seems to breed laziness at Topps sometimes.

In particular, I really love the 2017 Donruss Optic set.  If these had proper team names and logos this might be my favorite baseball release of the 2010s, not even kidding.  Just look at the Optic basketball or football sets that use this design, both of which are licensed, and you'll see what I mean.  In hand, the parallels from this Optic set are some of the shiniest baseball cards in my entire collection.

I'm not even doing it justice here, trust me, but just look at how this card catches and refracts the light.  Tilting it around side to side I almost get lost in the rainbow reflection.  Just beautiful.  In fact, I have a project in mind involving some of the parallels from this set, but that's for another post on another day.

That's all for tonight, here's Leo one more time, doing his best impression of the year 2020.

Thanks for stopping by!  Until next time, stay safe out there.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Grabbing Gretzkys - The '90-91 Point King!

Wayne Gretzky is, in my personal opinion, the greatest player ever to take the ice in National Hockey League history.  Although I have too many other collecting interests, and too limited a collecting budget, to become an insane Gretzky super-collector, I'm nonetheless making an attempt to pickup much of his 1980s Topps and O-Pee-Chee run in PSA-graded form.

The two cards I have to show today fall just outside of that scope by definition, but are still from the era when Topps was producing a flagship hockey set, and also were cheap enough that I simply could not resist picking them up for my collection of The Great One!

First up, a concept that is very familiar to Gretzky fans and collectors, the League Leaders subset card.  Wayne absolutely dominated the sport of hockey for a period of close to two decades, and as a result appeared on so many of these leader cards throughout that time.

#99 earned this particular card in the 1991-92 Topps set by scoring a league-best 163 points in the 1990-91 campaign.  That was more than 30 points higher than the next best scorer (Brett Hull), and nearly 50 points higher than third place Adam Oates.

The back gives you a look at the top ten scorers in 1990-91, and to me the most surprising name on the list is John Cullen of the Penguins/Whalers.

How impressive a feat was this 163-point total?  Well, not a single player has bested it in the nearly 30 years since.  Mario Lemieux came close once or twice, but nobody has eclipsed 163 points since Wayne's '90-91 season.  Amazing.

Leading the league in points in '90-91 actually got Wayne a second card in the '91-92 Topps release, as scoring the most points in the league wins you the Art Ross Trophy, of course.  Even though Gretzky is pictured in a practice sweater here, I actually like the layout of the card, with the Art Ross hardware super-imposed.

Perhaps the best thing about this pair of cards is that they're actually from a COMC order that I requested shipment for back in the first week of June that finally reached my doorstop this past Saturday!  It was a couple hundred cards in size too, so I've got plenty of great content now for posting through the dark and dreary winter months.

Really happy to have this pair of slabbed cards in my Great One collection, commemorating the amazing age-30 season Wayne enjoyed in 1990-91.  There are plenty more Gretzky cards out there that I'm still hunting for this project, in fact he was featured on eight cards in the 1991-92 Topps set alone.  Yep, I'm going to be at this a while, but I don't mind because I love the thrill of the hunt.  Two cards closer after today's post, anyway.

Thanks as always for stopping by, and I'll be back with more great cardboard later this week.  Stay safe out there, and mask up!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Cheap Slabs - Kirby RC

Time for the next installment of Cheap Slabs, a series dedicated to proving that collecting graded cards does not necessarily have to be expensive.  Each slabbed card featured in this series was had for less than $25.

Today's card is an iconic '80s baseball rookie card, and one that I can hardly believe took me a full 35 years to finally own a copy of...

Yes, it's the '85 Donruss Kirby Puckett RC!  For whatever reason, I've largely ignored the 1985 baseball releases for most of my collecting timeline.  I've long had it in the back of my mind though that I'd like to snag '85 Donruss Puckett and Clemens rookies though, and when the opportunity presented itself recently for me to grab this Puckett in a PSA 8.5 for just $12.62, I jumped at it.

Though his career was relatively brief at just a dozen MLB seasons, Kirby was a 10x All-Star who brought two World Series championships to Minnesota.  He was certainly one of the most effective hitters of his generation, and arguably the best hitter in the history of the Twins organization.  He's certainly in the discussion, anyway.

Here's the back, standard fare for Donruss throughout most of the '80s, other than the color changing and some minor cosmetic tweaks here and there...

A really great card here.  Typically I go for PSA 9s when it comes to cards from the '80s and newer, but in this case, like I said just stumbled upon this one and the price was right.  Someday maybe I'll pick up a PSA 9 and sell this one to offset some of the upgrade cost, but those are expensive enough that they wouldn't make the cut for this Cheap Slabs series anyway!  This set is really tough for grading due to those black borders, so this example is just fine for my purposes.  For much less than the cost of a retail blaster (even with shipping and tax included), color me satisfied.

What I'd really like is to get an '85 Leaf version of this one (and Clemens, too).  I enjoy the Leaf logo in that '85 set, but they're quite a bit scarcer and more valuable than their Donruss counterparts from what I can tell.  Maybe someday...

For now, thanks as always for stopping by my little corner of the internet!

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Signature Sundays - Three More '89-90 OPCs!

In today's Signature Sundays post, let's take a look at the other three 1989-90 O-Pee-Chee autograph cards that came in my recent lot of six, purchased from a reputable seller on eBay.  If you missed the first trio and want to check them out, you can find those here.

Anyway, this is the first set of sports cards that I ever collected as a young lad, so I've been casually accumulating autographed cards from the set.  Let's dive right into today's trio...

From the Calgary Flames, it's goaltender Rick Wamsley.  What I associate Rick with most is being part of the trade (headed to Calgary) that brought sniper Brett Hull to the Blues.  That's probably not fair to Rick, who had a lengthy NHL career supporting a few different franchises, but it is what it is.

Wamsley sure has a great signature, I'll give him that.

Here's the back, with evidence of that '87-88 trade that sent Wamsley north of the border, and Hull south of it...

Next up, Robert Picard of the Nordiques.  While I'm grateful to land any Nordiques player for this project, Picard is not one that I've got a lot of memories of from childhood.  In fairness to me, he was wrapping up his NHL career just as I became a fan.

Big, loopy signature here, complete with jersey number!

Robert bounced around quite a bit, though in most cases he did last multiple seasons wherever he landed.

The final card is the one that drew me to this seller to begin with, and my absolute favorite of this order...

Oh yeah!  What a great autograph of the "Little Ball of Hate", Pat Verbeek.  Pat was one of my younger brother's favorite players growing up, and he was the kind of guy who you absolutely despised if he wasn't on your team, but absolutely adored if he was.  Very much Brad Marchand before Brad Marchand.

I always liked Verbeek's distinct signature, with jersey number included in the opening 'P' of his first name.  This has always been a very recognizable card as well, due to the atrocious airbrushing used to convert Pat from his Devils gear into Whaler garb.  So happy to have an autographed copy of this childhood favorite!

I wish Verbeek would get the call to the HOF someday.  His 522 career goals are just about the most of anyone not enshrined, and he's right on that line with guys like Pierre Turgeon and Jeremy Roenick.  Maybe someday!

That's a wrap for this week's autograph post.  I'm actually up to 23 different on-card autographs from this set now, if you count my Topps and O-Pee-Chee cards combined.  If you're interested, you can see the entire collection here; it's starting to look quite nice if I do say so myself.

Thanks as always for stopping by!

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Buyback Franken-set: Fisk Updates a Page!

It's been months now since I did a post with contributions to my Buyback Franken-set project.  Let's get back in the saddle today with a new trio of hopefuls, beginning with the great Carlton Fisk...

 1988 Topps #385 - Carlton Fisk

The '88 Topps set certainly arrived at the height of what's now known as the junk wax era, but it seems many collectors still have an appreciation for it.  Fisk's card is a great example of how the design really created some dimension, with his left leg positioned behind the name banner in the lower right, but his helmet and bat overlapping the White Sox team name along the top of the card.  Great stuff.

Even though he's in the wrong uniform here, I'd love a chance to welcome Carlton to the Buyback Franken-set binder.  There's some existing competition for slot 385 though, and even though he's not enshrined in Cooperstown like Fisk, he's no slouch either...

It's Curt Shilling, with the Phillies on his 1999 release.  Interesting that Fisk gets matched up against another player that I associate more with the Boston Red Sox than the team he's depicted with here.  This is actually a really nice buyback, I like the how the photograph and the way that it's cropped are a perfect fit for the design.

I think I just like the Fisk card a little bit more, though.  Fisk is in, Schilling is out.  This one was part of a completed page as well.

Here's the before, with Schilling in the lower left...

 ...and here's the page now, with Fisk having supplanted him.  Not a bad bottom third of the page, eh?

 1969 Topps #361 - Gary Holman

Next up, a visually stunning Gary Holman.  There's a lot to love about this one.  Forgotten franchise of the past?  Check.  The awesome, jumbo-sized Topps All-Star Rookie trophy logo?  Check.  Palm trees, even?  Check!  

At a relatively obscure card number like 361, I'd assume this one will make the cut easily.  It has some competition though...

This Mark Thurmond is a perfectly fine card.  He's wearing a cap, which is great.  Honestly though, pretty boring and does not hold a candle to that Heritage Holman buyback.

Easy call here, the challenger wins, Thurmond moves off to the rejected box.

This one was part of a completed page also.  There's Thurmond in the lead-off spot...

 ...and here's the page with Holman inserted.  I like how it's 1960s all the way down the left side there.  My favorite on this page might be the legendary "fly down" Claude Raymond, middle left.

1989 Topps #229 - Jimmy Key

Last but not least, a very blue 1989 Topps card.  Jimmy Key nearly won a Cy Young Award on more than one occasion, and was an All-Star five times in his career.  I actually love the composition of this card; the many hues of blue are just so fitting for a Blue Jays card like this one.  The problem is...

  ...this Frank Thomas Star Power buyback from 1996 Topps already calls slot 229 home.

Tough break for Jimmy there, that was an absolutely brutal match-up with the Big Hurt.  There are plenty of other slots where Key would've battled his way in without question, but it just so happens that this is how the chips fell in this case.

Not a bad trio today, Jimmy Key didn't stand a chance against that Frank Thomas card, but the other two fought their way in and bettered completed pages at least.  We're gonna cap it here, because posting too many cards in this new Blogger interface is a real bear.  You can expect to see more frequent, but smaller, Buyback Franken-set posts like this one going forward.

Until next time, thanks as always for stopping by!

Franken-set Progress: 672/792 (84%)
1990 Topps Buyback Set: 136/792 (17%)

"Rejected" Buybacks: 725

Total Buybacks in Collection: 1,527

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Cheap Slabs - Strikeout Feats!

Time for the latest installment of Cheap Slabs, in which I show off a graded card that I acquired for less than $25.  Tonight, we have a really unique card featuring one of my all-time favorite players...

Maybe not the most aesthetically pleasing or creative design here, but what this card represents is kind of cool.  In the 1983 season, Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton and Gaylord Perry all surpassed the great Walter Johnson on the career strikeouts list.  This was no small feat, as Johnson finished his career with an amazing 3,508 strikeouts.  For these three (who are all enshrined in Cooperstown) to surpass a total that high, each in the same season, is just awesome, and I'm glad that Topps dedicated a Highlight card to commemorate it in the '84 set.

As much as I like Gaylord Perry and Steve Carlton, it was Nolan Ryan that drew me to this card earlier this year.  He, Will Clark, and Cal Ripken, Jr. were the first three players I ever collected as a kid, and so I still search out Nolan Ryan cards to this day.  I'm working on a graded run of his base flagship Topps cards from his '68 RC through his final '94 issue, but I still have a few holes left to plug.

Here's a look at the back, which gives you a brief write-up on each player surpassing The Big Train, so that you can see what date it occurred on for each of these three hurlers.

While I'm mainly sticking to Nolan's primary Topps card for my complete career run project, I'll gladly stray and pick up other slabbed Ryan cards like this one if the price is right.  It certainly was with this card, purchased in July of this year for just $4.99!

That's all for this installment of Cheap Slabs, thanks as always for stopping by!

Monday, October 12, 2020

Three from COMC

Remember when you could buy cards on, ask to have them shipped, and receive them in less than 6 months?  Yeah, times were great back then.  Let's take a look at three cards I picked up back when that was a thing...

I'm a sucker for floating heads on my cardboard, so when this 1962 Topps '61 NL ERA Leaders card popped up in one of my searches at a steal of a price, I was essentially powerless to refuse it.  Worth the paltry sum that I paid for Spahn's floating head alone!

Here's the back, in case you want to do a deep dive on some of the other names much further down the list.  Too bad Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax just missed getting their floating heads on the front of this one.  Then again, had they graced the front I probably would have had to shell out more for the card I suppose...

Next up is Jim Neilson, from the iconic 1971-72 Topps hockey set.  It's really inexcusable that it's taking me so damn long to put this set to bed, but it just never seems to be my top priority at any given time.  Perhaps I'm turned off by the fact that I'm still missing Ken Dryden and Bobby Orr, two of the bigger cards in the set.  With Neilson in hand though, and more accurately in binder, I'm now over 70% of the way there!

Here's the back, featuring a cartoon that I suppose might offend some folks today.

Last card in the trio, a beautiful Cognac Diamond Anniversary parallel of the Tom Seaver legends card from 2011 Topps.  This was maybe the best Topps set of the 2010s if you ask me, and these parallels are a big part of the reason why.  I must really like this one too, because I already had a copy prior to scanning this one.  A card so nice, I bought it twice!

That's all for now, back when I have more time.  Thanks as always for stopping by!

Friday, October 9, 2020

Sportlots 4-Pack

Just a quick post tonight, been a long week.  Here is a quartet of cards I snagged off of Sportlots a couple of weeks back for $1.86 combined, shipped to my door for under $3 total...

This Charlie Blackmon was the last card that I added to the order, simply because the seller charged the same price to ship four cards as they did three.  It was also the most expensive of the four at a dollar even.  I'm a total sucker for these Chrome Purple Refractors from Topps Heritage.  My scan doesn't really do this one justice, but it's a beautiful card.

Aside from that, an epic beard and one of the best hitters in the game.  Charlie posted a average better than .300 and an OPS better than .800 during this crazy season.  I'll be happy to see he and Nolan Arenado get back to it next spring (I hope!).

Next up, Kyle Tucker of the Houston Astros courtesy of 2016 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects (Chrome).  It may look like it here, but Kyle is not a pitcher.  He's an outfielder.  I know it's not very fashionable to like the Astros right now, but I like this kid.  He's still just 23 years old and is batting .400 with Houston this post-season after their series win against Oakland.  Paid a whole 18 cents for this one.

On the heels of my first Kyle Tucker card, my second, this one from 2017 Topps Heritage Minor League.  Love the minor league releases like this one and Pro Debut, and again this was available for a site-minimum 18 cents.  Happy to finally have a pair of Tucker cards in my collection, and these were actually the catalyst for this purchase overall.

In fact, since his cards are so cheap I kind of became an overnight Kyle Tucker collector in recent weeks, but that's a post for another day.

Finally, this 2014 Bowman Scout's Top 5 Mini Refractor of my favorite player, Xander Bogaerts.  I'm always on the lookout for new cards of Xander, and while this isn't an official "RC", it was released during his rookie year of 2014, and is a refractor.  Seemed like a steal at 50 cents.  I could have sworn I already had one, but it was the Mookie Betts from this same insert set.  Pleased to have Xander to pair with him years later.

Well, that's all for now, thanks for taking a peek at some of my Sportlots pickups!  Until next time...

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Three New Autographs for My '89-90 Quest

1989-90 Topps/O-Pee-Chee hockey was the first set of sports cards that I ever collected as a kid.  I've told the story here before, but in the winter of '89 my brothers and I would wait anxiously for our dad to arrive home from work.  Once or twice a week, when he came in the door he'd have a small brown bag from the sports card store near his work with packs of '89-90 Topps or O-Pee-Chee hockey for us inside.

My brothers and I each had three ring binders with some nine pocket sheets, and we'd spend hours sitting at the kitchen table opening our packs, admiring and learning about the teams and players, sorting and trading.  Some really great childhood memories that were the catalyst for a hobby I enjoy to this day!

I still have my original binder of hockey cards from that winter, and long ago added complete '89-90 Topps and O-Pee-Chee sets to my collection.  A couple of years back I decided I wanted to find a new way to enjoy that very first set all over again, and I started picking up some autographed versions of the cards.  It's not my top collecting priority or anything and I don't think I'll ever accumulate an entire autographed set or anything, but it's a lot of fun hunting down new ones from time to time.

Tonight I have the next three cards in that quest, which arrived in the mailbox just today from a very reputable eBay seller.  Let's check 'em out...

First up is defenseman David Shaw of the New York Rangers.  This card illustrates one of the issues with this particular project, and that is that the photographs tend to be somewhat dark in nature which makes the autographs hard to make out in some cases.  Other than going with a really small autograph and tucking it along the left border, or between his legs in the photograph, the options were fairly limited for David to sign this one.

Shaw had a lengthy career patrolling the blue line for a few different franchises, most notably the Quebec Nordiques, New York Rangers, and Boston Bruins.  He also won a Memorial Cup with the Kitchener Rangers in 1982 (shout-out to Douglas of Sportscards from the Dollar Store!).

Next up, Mark Osborne (incorrectly spelled Osbourne on the card front) of the Leafs.  Mark scored over 500 points in over 900 career games as a winger in the NHL.  The autograph is nice and legible here thanks to the use of a thick, black marker.

Here's the back, with Osborne's name spelled correctly.  This was actually an uncorrected error by the folks at O-Pee-Chee, so there is no version of the card with a correct spelling on the front (or an incorrect spelling on the back, for that matter).

The final subject in tonight's trio is Mario Marois of the Quebec Nordiques.  We used to snicker about him as kids just because his first and last names are so similar.  Mario had been around a while by the time this set was issued, having begun his NHL career back in 1978.  This card actually reflects his second multi-year stint with the Nordiques, a club he captained for a few years in the 1980s.

Love the autograph on this one, Marois is certainly my favorite signature of the three in tonight's post with those beautiful, loopy 'M's.

I love that all three of these guys included their uniform number in their signatures.  I'm pretty convinced they're authentic autographs given A) the credibility and track record of the eBay seller I purchased them from, B) from the limited research I was able to do they appear to be in line with other autographs from these athletes, and C) they cost me $1.99 each, so there's not much incentive for forging these guys!

I'm actually up to 20 different on-card autographs from this set now, if you count my Topps and O-Pee-Chee cards combined.  If you're interested, you can see the entire collection here; it's starting to look quite nice if I do say so myself.

Best of all, these three autographs were actually part of a lot of six that I purchased overall, so I'll have another trio posted soon in this quest.  Until then, thanks as always for stopping by!

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