Saturday, December 25, 2021

Happy Holidays.


Happy holiday (happy holiday)
Happy holiday (happy holiday)
While the merry bells keep ringing
Happy holiday to you (happy holiday)
(Happy holiday)
It's the holiday season
And Santa Claus is coming 'round
The Christmas snow is white on the ground
When old Santa gets into town
He'll be coming down the chimney, down
(He'll be coming down the chimney, down)

 It's the holiday season
And Santa Claus has got a toy
For every good girl and good little boy
Santa's a great big bundle of joy
When he's coming down the chimney, down
(When he's coming down the chimney, down)
He'll have a big fat pack upon his back
And lots of goodies for you and for me
So leave a peppermint stick for old St. Nick
Hanging on the Christmas tree

It's the holiday season (the holiday season)
So hoop-de-do and dickory dock
And don't forget to hang up your sock
'Cause just exactly at twelve o'clock
Happy holiday
(Happy holiday) Happy holiday
While the merry bells keep ringing
Happy holiday to you.
- Irving Berlin, 1942

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Sort 'em If You Got 'em.

       Yesterday was National Baseball Card Day and no, I couldn't get to the National this year (or any year, yet) and no, I didn't get out to my local card shop.  But if you saw my last post, you know that I had plenty to do - I had 925 cards sent from COMC to sort through and revel in.  And that's exactly what I did:

These piles all make sense, to me anyway.  The majority are baseball cards but there are also football, hockey, basketball, bowling, tennis, golf, softball, gaming, movie (James Bond, Batman, and Star Wars among others), music (Beatles and Guided By Voices), and all sorts of Goodwin Champions which include all those things and more. There are three separate piles of Mets cards alone, and also one each for the Saints and the Devils and the Knicks, and a couple of players even got their own piles, Tom Seaver and Todd Hundley (no, really, I am a Hundley super-collector at this point). After that there are Hall of Famers and current stars and retired stars and birthday boys and all-star rookie trophy cards.  It was a fun few hours to go through all these.

I obviously can't highlight and scan 925 cards (103 scans! That would more than double my Seaver memorial post) so I will semi-randomly grab some cards that are either fun or fun to look at or just interesting, to me anyway.  Plus there were a few surprises even for me because after two-plus years, I had forgotten I'd bought them.

The top three here are some multi-player game used cards, one with Gary Carter and Mike Piazza - basically my two favorite players of all time - one with a "Bat Rack" of Mets with the aforementioned Carter and Piazza plus Jose Reyes and Kaz Matsui (remember when he was a thing?) and the third is a glorious mix of 1973 World Series adversaries from the UD Decades set, that one has Tom Seaver and Bud Harrelson along with Reggie Jackson and Bert Campaneris.  THAT is the best card I completely forgot I bought and I was giddy when I saw it.  But it also begs the question, how could I ever forget that card?


There is also a Ralph Kiner announcer card, a rarity of him with Mets colors, a great Lee Mazzilli from 1979 Hostess (I have the panel with Steve Garvey and Mike Schmidt but I needed it solo), a 1970 OPC Mets World Champions #1 card, a low numbered Frank Thomas jersey card (with pinstripes!) and a pair of one of my favorite unusual uniform subjects - Pete Rose on the Montreal Expos - I now have a complete page of him in French red, white, and blue.

Let's do a second nine, shall we, I can't just show you less than 1% of these, can I?

First off is the other side of that Carter/Piazza tandem jersey card.  Now I have to decide if it goes with the Carter collection or the Piazza.  Maybe Carter because he's technically the 'front' of the card?  Then you have two modern Topps Hall of Fame short prints.  I am not a big fan of these but sometimes Topps picks really cool photos for them and these two definitely fit that category.  The Koufax is a magnificent shot of him admiring the scoreboard from his perfect game and the Nolan Ryan is a brilliant candid shot that should/could have been one of his 70s cards.  Topps should only pick pictures of this quality when doing these short prints (alas, they often do not).



There's also a few fun vintage cards here, a 1974 Tony Oliva with its proud position designation of Des(ignated) Hitter, and a late 70s run of Tom Seaver O-Pee-Chee cards.  That last one in the left corner is a 1998 Fleer Tradition Todd Hundley '63 Classic card numbered to /63.  I told you I was becoming a Hundley super-collector.  I also had my eye on a Piazza version of this card but alas did not pull the trigger on it and now it is gone and I might never see another.  I have put that card in my Needed Nine, you can find that list on the right side margin of the blog.  

I teased it in the post from the other day so here is a much better view of the 1952 Andy Pafko #1 I acquired:

I am not certain why I ever bought into the hype of this card but somehow over the years I did and I just decided I must own this stupid thing.  I ended up getting it during the COMC Black Friday sales and the price was right for this condition.  I think what I really like most is the randomness of someone like Andy Pafko being the first card in their first big set.  He was a good ballplayer but nothing anyone would ever consider a superstar.  Donruss went with Ozzie Smith, Fleer went with Pete Rose, Score went with Don Mattingly, Upper Deck lucked out and chose Ken Griffey Jr. over Gregg Jefferies and Gary Sheffield for their lead off but somehow Topps went with Andy Pafko as card number one. If anyone knows the solid reason why they chose him (I don't recall ever seeing one) please enlighten me.  For now, Andy has a hot date with the other two 1952 star cards I keep protected: my Gus Zernial and my Bob Feller.  

I have gotten to the point in my Gary Carter collection where the only cards I don't have are either strange local oddball issues, low numbered monstrosities, or (somewhere in between) just plain old stuff I don't think is worth the money.  I did pull the trigger on a solid gold Gary that I just couldn't pass up during that black Friday sale.  I must say, it is shiny!

I doubt these Danbury Mint cards will ever be worth much (I also bought a Jerry Koosman one in this batch) but I suppose if times are tough I could melt them down and make fillings out of them or something.

Lastly is a card that probably only means something to me but I am so happy that I got it, the nerd in me is still glowing.  It is a 2019 Goodwin Champions Robert Pollard printing plate, a yellow 1/1. 















The pandemic left me a lot of time at home to sit and listen to music and Uncle Bob here cranked out something like seven albums (and counting) during 2020 and 2021.  Maybe it is the old man in me, but I don't listen to a lot of music the way I did when I was a younger man but the pandemic did a lot of strange things to all of us so it was nice to have new Guided By Voices albums flying out at the rate they used to in the 1990s.  This card will now be the centerpiece of my Bob Pollard collection from that Goodwin set and I have to trust in myself that I don't become that lunatic who needs to hoard the one-of-one cards.  It helps that I haven't seen any of the others for know, not that I've checked or anything.  Now excuse me, I have 905 other cards to put in their proper place in my collection. 

Friday, August 6, 2021

Do You Believe in Miracles?

 Kind of.

This package was waiting for me on my doorstep yesterday:

yes, that is a 1952 Topps #1 Andy Pafko along with 1989 LJN Baseball Talk. Fun Times!

If you cannot read that tiny little print on the label, it came from the glorious Seattle suburb of Redmond WA from a company you might know, COMC.  Remember them?  Well, I requested this package in February and it was scheduled for a May delivery - I doubt you need a calendar to see what today is but I can assure you, it is not May.  I am not saying I completely gave up on ever seeing it but their pandemic combination of horrible customer service and empty promises made me wonder if 2022 was out of the question.  But it did arrive.  They have answered emails faster of late and it was very well packaged when I got it.  You can see a nice tease of the stuff that was on top and I am going to spend the weekend sorting and enjoying the 900+ cards that are inside.  I am not here to praise COMC or bury them right now since the world is still knee deep in madness but I will say to anyone reading this wondering if they will ever see their package: miracles do happen.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

The White Whale.

        Sometimes in life you spend too much time and energy to acquire a card.  You search high and low to find it and have to work a series of paper clip trades and ancient ritual dances to track down that cardboard wonder.  For some, it is a rare 1/1 superfractor, for others, it is a PSA 10 vintage beauty.  And then there is the saga of the 1984 Topps Rack Pack Glossy All Star #20:

Here in its place of honor among other lesser moral 1984 cards


The card you see in the center of that page is more than just a glossy insert from a long ago time, it was a quest, a pursuit beyond all others.  Oh sure you say, you could just go on sportslots or COMC and pay 85 cents for it, but that would defeat the purpose.  No, this card taunts me, it tells me I am not worthy.  It tasks me beyond what is right or righteous. There is no way to convey the proper magnitude of what that card put me through.  The smile on Gary Carter's face hides a vicious streak of cruelty I will take to the grave and never share with another soul.  This is not some simple 1988 Phil Niekro card or a pile of Bip Roberts cards. My family will never recover from the efforts and resources it took to track down and tame this horrible beast.  Heavens to Betsy, what on earth possessed me to ever get involved with a cursed card? What fools these mortals be.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Retro Fun.

       It is safe to say most of us reached retro card saturation sometime in the early to mid-aughts.  The Topps Archives and Topps Heritage sets in 2001 begat Upper Deck's Vintage and Decades series and opened up a floodgate of reprints, design reuse, and pseudo-retro sets.  Sometimes it is refreshing and neat but most of the time it is gratuitous and poorly executed.  And since Topps keeps pumping out their Heritage and revamped Archives sets over and and over, year after year, we get very little variation in the presentation of our nostalgia.

Enter Topps Super 70s Sports Baseball.  If you recognize the name and follow this dude on twitter, you know the whole tongue-in-cheek schtick this feed has.  It posts multiple retro photos a day with an amusing over-the-top caption to it to inflict an emotional response: sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes ridiculous.  When I saw they had teamed up with Topps to put out a card set, I couldn't resist.  Lemme tell you, they had me at the graphic on the box:

When I saw the design of the cards, I knew immediately that they were going for someone like me who wants the vibe of old school cards but not the horrible repetition the whole parade has become.  If you are as much of a card nerd as I am (and if you are reading this blog, I assume you are) you recognized the elements right away: The script team logo from 1978, the pennant flag from 1977, and the ribbon from 1979 (or 1974 perhaps?) all remixed and reorganized into something organic and new.  It's like hearing a perfect cover version of a popular overplayed song that makes the whole thing come alive again.

The "pack" was actually a plastic box sealed with tamper tape. Very interesting indeed.



I pre-ordered this stuff, which I NEVER do even for Ginter or Heritage, back in early November.  I got a late Christmas present when they arrived on Boxing Day.  And yup, I love them as much as I thought I would.


First and foremost, new photos!  One of the huge complains I and so many other collectors is when they put old guys on new cards, they use the same pictures over and over and over and over again.  I know I have written about it and I know other bloggers have too so when I see new shots from the no doubt bottomless pile Topps should have, it makes me very happy indeed.  The other thing I noticed right away is that they feel right.  The vintage cardboard is always a plus on these sets. I know shiny white glossy paper looks better but when you are doing this sort of thing, it really should be thick and pulpy and dull.  It makes the backs look right too:


I probably should have scanned more backs but the cartoons are wonderful and they look new though someone with more knowledge than me could probably figure out if they are reused.  Either way, they let a third of the back be the comic and I am more than okay with that.  The backs themselves are in the color scheme of 1977 or 1979 with the ribbon from '79 featured.  I was kind of expecting the humorous tone of the S70sS Twitter feed in the write-up but they are pretty straight forward.  I doubt Topps would want to alienate anyone with a Kevin Costner joke on the back of a Cal Ripken card (google it).

Lets look at all of these beauties.  I even got a nice little hit:



That's a Dave Parker autograph in the middle there.  I didn't have a Cobra signature in my collection so that one is going to stay.  The last two cards are themed parallels that add the colorful banners of 1975 to the mix.  I think it might have been too much to ask for the whole set to look like that so that is a nice addition and kinda what parallels should do in the first place.  I might need to look into making an entire page of the Magnificent Mustaches. 

They did modern players in the set too, which is fine I guess but certainly not what I came to see.  Scherzer and Turner certainly fit in with a 70s theme, Cole and Soto, not so much.  Full disclosure: I am easily old enough to be Juan Soto's dad.



You may count more than 20 cards, that's because I also pre-ordered my favorite players, the Gary Carter, the Frank Thomas, the Mike Piazza (amusingly shown in his Marlins uniform), and of course the Mets players there on the bottom.  A wise decision since I didn't get any of them in my 20-card box.  These cards are easily the collecting highlight of the dumpster fire that has been 2020.  If you were on the fence about getting any of this stuff because you don't like all the faux-vintage that gets churned out, I suggest it highly.  I hope Topps learns from this and does more fun sets like this rather than just reprinting all their old cards.