Monday, May 30, 2022

Happy Birthday To Me.

      So Friday was my 47th birthday, a most nondescript age to turn to say the least.  I took the day off to have myself a nice four-day weekend. Of course, as much as having 96 hours to do nothing would be ideal, one has to use at least some downtime for the errands one must attend to.  Being a grown up is lame. But I decided while I was going to be out and about to at least also attend to some of my childish amusement which means baseball cards, of course. 

Having recently finished my 1975 Topps set, I've taken on the challenge of the 1972 set next.  I know this one will take years (it took me years to build it the first time). I've gathered all the stars I have and bought myself a nice starter set at a decent price. But while I now have a good 80% of the first 653 cards, after that - the dreaded high numbers - I only had 4 of them. So I know it is a long term task ahead of me. 













 

 

Ah, but this is where some serendipity comes in, even more than my '75 set had.  I was around a comic store I know has card supplies and some boxes of random sports card stuff. I have spoken of this place before. It is always a fun visit to a joint that has been good to me before but I doubt it will ever be better than this. 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I decided to start my '72 set officially two weeks ago and aside from my initial gathering hadn't done anything more. Heck, I haven't even put together a want list yet. (UPDATE: Yes, I have, in my brands and sets wantlist tab) But as I dove into the dark vintage old school cardboard section of that quarter box, it was like some kind of wild daydream. It was loaded with 1972 Topps. And not just any kind of 1972 Topps, I immediately recognized these cards as high numbers. And there was not just three or four of them, there was dozens of them. 



 

 

 

 

 

 

Obviously, it is clear that a comic shop might not be well versed in what they had in this vein of cards and I didn't feel it was my place to tell them. I mean, it's not like there was the Nolan Ryan or Frank Robinson traded card in here. But the Rick Wise traded card was in there. And about 60 other high numbers. I asked and made sure the unsleeved vintage was a quarter and I was told yes so I just went with it. All in all, I nabbed 90 or so total that I needed for my new set. And I got those high numbers for a quarter a piece; I couldn't have done that the first time I built this set in the late 90s. I should feel guilty but I don't. I also got a huge lot of series 5 original Star Wars cards too at the same price, but that is a different post (and they should have known better about those). There was also a bunch of other vintage stuff in there, some 1968 commons that I couldn't resist and some '70s team cards. Along with a shiny new binder and a big monster box, it was quite the trip and turned out to be a glorious, unexpected birthday present for me. I'll have a new list up soon for the '72 set soon and I even have a few high number doubles to trade. Try not to take horrible advantage of me.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Complete Set Sunday: Finish What You Start.

     After the pandemic struck and we all went through several rounds of the Kübler-Ross stages, there was a calm when most of us decided "OK, I have all this time on my hands, I am gonna do something important!" and we made plans to learn a craft or go back to school or remodel the house or invent a better mouse trap or focus on our hobbies or whatever.  It's always best to think big so that the actual plans can find the right size but also, reality eventually says that our plans will be big but our follow through small.  At least that seems to be the way things go for me most of the time. Well, I already went back to school a while back, and my house is just fine the way it is, and my inventing skills are nil, so that left me with my hobby.  I did throw myself into my collection in a lot of different ways the last couple years, pruning some parts and expanding others.  I bought some cards I always wanted and got rid of ones that did not spark joy.  In keeping with the Mary Kondo theme, one thing I really lament from my long term collecting history is that a long time ago, I sold off all my vintage Topps sets.  I had built a 1969 set, a 1972 set, and as you can probably tell from the thumbnail of this post, a 1975 set. Given all this time on my hands, I decided to rebuild one of those sets and since the 1975 set is my favorite (for many reasons we'll get to) that was the one I went for.

The pandemic has made it almost impossible to go out and buy cards in a store but the online offerings exploded.  I had my choice of a few nice starter sets and I picked one that had a few of the key rookie cards (Rice, Yount, Hernandez) and then added my back up Gary Carter to the mix.  I then made it a challenge for myself by making my set build a low budget affair.  Sure, I could have just went to ebay and nabbed a few other common lots or just paid for hall of famers but instead, I built most of this set through my own collection, reddit trades, Listia listings, and a great serendipitous find: I got my Brett rookie for nothing because a friend was updating his 1975 set to PSA quality.  He bought a PSA 9 and gave me his old, just fine, ungraded #228. That was nice.

The Mantle/Campy card was the last from the MVP subset and part of the final four.





















 

 

So on and off for the last 18 months or so, I have been accumulating cards. A trade here, a find there, a listia seller had a bunch of commons one week.  Slowly but surely, I hammered it down to a final four: three random commons (all in the 500s, as though the 1975 set had high numbers or something) and one of the Mantle MVP cards that for some reason, everyone was hoarding.  Well, I did finally get that Mantle and then I treated myself to buying the final three from ebay to finish things off.  You are now looking at me triumphantly placing those cards into their spots in the binder.





















 

 

Gary Thomasson slides in nicely next to Gaylord Perry, who has one of the nifty All Star logos from this set.  You can also see on the page one of the team cards, a lot of mine have pen marks on the checklist but this does not bother me in the least. I was not very picky when it came to condition. As long as it didn't look like Night Owl's original cards, I was okay with it.





















 

 

Von Joshua finds his spot here as the penultimate card.  I always thought Von Joshua should be a classical pianist, not an outfielder, but hey, who am I to judge. He was a major leaguer and I wasn't. You can also see on this page that Billy Williams is sadly off center and I will have to perhaps replace some of those.  Maybe during the next pandemic...





















 

 

And here it is, the final card, #557 Larry Gura.  There is a fun irony of him being shown as a Yankee since his reputation was that of Yankee Killer later on in his career.  Of all the iconic cards in this set, this one was the last one; not epic but it will do.  Al Oliver looks a little jealous over his shoulder.





















 

 

So there it is, I set a goal and accomplished it.  It took a year and a half and some time and patience, but I rebuilt my 1975 Topps set.  I love this set because I was born that year, I love this set because it is garishly bonkers colorful. I love this set because it has the rookie card of my favorite player of all time, Gary Carter.  But now I love this set even more because it will always remind me of a very trying time in my life (and all our lives) but that we made it through.  It will remind me that I can set reasonable goals and follow through on them.  I will be keeping this one for the rest of my life and passing it on to one of my nibblings, with the story of its acquirement (lucky too that my nieces and nephews have already shown great interest in baseball).  It is not perfect by any means, but it is a perfect trophy of the last two years.  And now I have to decide if I want to redo those 1969 and/or 1972 sets.  If we don't all die in a nuclear war in the next few months, maybe I will choose one and get back to you. 

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 sale...you 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.