Wednesday, January 28, 2015

1977 Topps 49er Team Set

One of my collecting goals in 2015 is to work on my collection of Vintage San Francisco 49ers.  A few years back I picked up a few team sets but most weren't vintage.  I have picked up a few vintage singles here and there but didn't have much focus.  I have created a checklist for cards in the 50s, 60s and 70s and have decided that is where I will focus.  I also decided I am going to steer away from team issues sets and oddball sets and focus on the major releases which are primarily Bowman, Philadelphia and Topps.

I became a fan of the 49ers in the late 1970s with their pick up of OJ Simpson being the catalyst.  I have heard the names of many of the legends but want this quest to teach me a little more about the players from this time period.

One thing I haven't decided is how to share my pick ups in this blog.  I have thought that maybe I will wait until I finish a team set to keep the number of posts down and have a searchable view of each team set as my project progresses.  The major downside to that approach is that it will be a while before I can share some really nice cards, particularly from the 50s and 60s as I acquire them.  Being the procrastinator I am, I decided to delay that decision and show a team set from 1977 that I bought in an eBay auction.

 I will start with the checklist, it shows the 10 players featured in the team set.  With a set of 528 cards, I have to assume the Niners were under represented but that is to be expected of a team that missed the playoffs in 1976 with very little star power.

The beauty of the checklist is the back.  It shows their team leaders for the past 8 years.  When you look at the meager yardage of their top passers and rushers and the low number of catches, it makes me believe the offense wasn't helping them win too many games.  I know that today's numbers are inflated but these statistics pale in comparison to their contemporaries.  Also they have 5 different leading passers and 3 rushers in the past 5 years.

Note the awesome deal to get the team checklist cards for only 50 cents and 1 wrapper.   Wish I would have done that back when I was 6.

I decided to show these by number and group them together.  11 different scans would have been tough to make happen but the cards aren't super fancy and come out fine in this layout.

One of the exciting parts about this 49er team set quest is getting a chance to become familiar with the different designs Topps used with their football sets.  I enjoy this design with the team name in a banner displayed prominently atop the card, the position being displayed in a little red football and the player name in smaller font and in all caps.  It is nice to see a Niner as an All-Pro with the banner below the name block on Defensive End Tommy Hart.

 As I mentioned, one of the reasons I am pursuing these cards is to get to know the players before my era better. The backs of these cards are great!  Some good information about each player, stats with the players that make sense and even a quick blurb about where they went to college and an accomplishment from that time in their lives.  I found it amazing that Tommy Hart averaged 15 QB sacks in his first 7 years (this was before the sack was an official stat).  Another thing that stood out was that Gene Washington made 4 Pro Bowls and was a 1000 yard receiver only once, times have changed.

Here is the second half of the team set:

This marks Jim Plunkett's first card with the 49ers.  I did a little research and found that the Niners gave up 3 #1 draft picks, 1 #2 draft pick and QB Tom Owen to get Plunkett - that is a pretty steep price.  I am not sure who the Patriots selected with those picks but it didn't work out great for the 49ers.  I really like the 1,000 Yarder designation on Delvin Williams' card.  In later sets Topps had inserts to celebrate 1,000 yards but I really like the inclusion on the base card.

In addition to Williams' 1,000 yard season, Wilbur Jackson had a solid campaign with almost 800 yards.  Jackson was the first African-American football player to be offered a scholarship to attend the University of Alabama.  I saw a great show that showed how a game between USC and Bama helped integrate football in the south.  I remember getting cards of the Mike-Mayers when I was young and being puzzled by the hyphenated last name.  That seems to be something more common today.

I have picked up some other cards that and even a couple of older team sets that I will show off soon.  My goal of 100 different Vintage 49ers by year end 2015 seems very achievable if I stick to my 2015 collecting focus.  This team set was a lot of fun to go through.

Monday, January 26, 2015

McCovey Monday #69 - 2014 National Treasures Relic 31/75

My favorite player of all time is Hall of Famer Willie McCovey.  I have amassed a collection of over 1200 different  McCovey cards since I started collecting him in the late 1980s.  I will show off one of my favorite cards every Monday.  Stretch was one of the most feared hitters of all time and I am excited to show off my collection.

I think Panini got another high end set right with the release of 2014 National Treasures.  I have watched quite a few box and case breaks on Youtube and if I was going to crack a high end product, this would be towards the top of my list.  I doubt that will happen unless I win the Powerball so I have resorted to trying to pick up a few singles to fit into my collections.

I want to get the bad out of the way, my only complaint about this card is that this is a recycled photo, I have cards going back to at least 2005 with this picture.  I really like the design of this card with the decorative border surrounding his photo vertically and the National Treasures darkened border along the bottom.  To me the highlight of the card is the large bold McCovey with the smaller first and middle name above and the San Francisco Baseball Club along the bottom.  SF Baseball Club to me seems like how they would have referred to a team in the early 1900s.  The jersey swatch shaped as home plate is a bonus as well.  As you can see across the middle, this card is serial numbered 31/75.

Time to seek out a few more cards from this nice looking release.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

USC Quarterbacks - When Failure at the Pro Level Benefits the Collector

I am a graduate of USC and a huge supporter of their football program.  I am proud of the fact that my school has produced more 1st round picks that any other college program and I believe they have the most players to play in the Superbowl and have placed a player in all but 5.  There are more Trojans on NFL rosters than any other school as well.  The fan in me loves it when former Trojans excel in the NFL whether it was college stars like Troy Polamalu and Reggie Bush or more under the radar guys like Ryan Kalil and Mike Patterson.

The collector in me has some mixed feelings on Trojans doing well in the pros.  When Reggie Bush was drafted, the price of his cards were out of control, I was limited to getting an auto from Sage and Press Pass releases as the more mainstream products were out of range.  So when a good or great college player doesn't do well, there is a part of me that is excited as I get to pick up great looking football cards like these of my former college favorites:

This is a booklet of former USC QB Matt Barkley from 2013 Panini Playbook.  The left side of the left side is a shadowed picture with a plastic coating, a shadow box.  The other half of the left side has a piece of jersey as does the entire right side.  I really enjoy the picture from the knees up of Barkley dropping back.  The only downside I see to this card is the difficultly of storing it and displaying it, it is a great looking card.

Here is another fabulous card of Mr. Barkley. Certified's Fabric of the Game subset is always one of the best.  I enjoy it way back to the baseball releases in the early 2000s and have quite a few McCovey cards from those sets.  I think the Eagles team name is perfect for a set like this, just the right length.  I really like the font used for the Eagles cut out on this card and the autograph, even though it is a sticker, adds to the cards awesomeness.  Another solid picture of Matt and a nice low serial number to 25 and this is another great pick up for the USC collection.

This last card is one of the more interesting former Trojans from a collector's perspective. Mark Sanchez was hot when he was drafted.  I remember pulling an awesome USC manupatch auto out of Prestige his rookie year and the card was going for well over $100.  I was collecting Trojans more actively at that time and it bothered me how few Sanchez cards I could pick up.  Even today I only have 103 of his 2663 different cards.  The time is ripe for me to bolster my Sanchez card collection when I can pick up awesome patch cards numbered 09/10 like this one for just a few dollars.

I can't ever fathom rooting against former Trojans to do well to enhance my collection but there sure is a fringe benefit.

Friday, January 23, 2015

RIP Mr. Cub

I put the kids to bed, hung out with my wife for a bit and retired to my card room.  I popped up and was hit with the news that Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub has passed away.  Instant sadness came over me.  I am not a Cubs fan but I am a baseball fanatic and it just doesn't get any better than Ernie Banks.  He was a great ballplayer and a great man and will be greatly missed.  His infectious smile and love of the game will live on in our memories.  Rest in Peace Mr. Banks.

Trade Post - Baseball Card Breakdown

Still working to catch up on trade posts and here are some great cards that came my way from the originator of the Wallet Card movement that has started throughout our blogging community, none other that defgav from the blog Baseball Card Breakdown.

As I recall defgav had broken some Donruss Series 2 and sent the Giants from the break my way which is greatly appreciated.  I needed all the cards as the only Giants I had pulled from my box went toward my set build.
First up is a quad of base cards.  The Belt, Posey and Bumgarner cards all look pretty good despite the lack of logos, particularly the Madison.  Donruss used almost all action shots which I almost always prefer.  The Cain card has had some significant work done to it as has Mr. Cain with a couple surgeries that had him miss a big part of last season.  I am hoping he can bounce back as he will be needed if the Giants want to make a playoff run.

 Next up is a trio of Elite cards, these were inserts in the Donruss boxes.  I was unlucky and didn't pull one Giant in my box but was lucky enough to get 3 of the 4 Giants in this package.  The Buster is my favorite.  Panda looks like he may be following a long and high pop up but who knows, maybe he got enough of it.

 Probably my favorite part of the 2014 Donruss release was bringing back the Career and Season Stat Line cards.  At one time I had my sights on completing the entire team set but got distracted with some newer releases.  Finally posting this trade may be the inspiration I need to track down the rest for my collection.

Finally, I received this Elite Turn of the Century Auto card of Ehire Adrianza.  I really appreciate the autograph but I am hoping Mr. Adrianza doesn't make the Giants club this year, he is not a good player.  His defense is shaky and he is more of an automatic out than several of the Giants pitchers.

Defgav, thanks for the Donruss Giants care package, I really appreciate you bolstering my Giants collection.  Sorry it took a while to post but don't let that lead you to believe these aren't greatly appreciated!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Pair of Rickey Dual Relics

Rickey Henderson remains one of my favorite players of all time and I am always looking forward to adding his cards to my collection.  The 2013 Panini America's Pastime offers up plenty of options and a couple months back I was able to pick up a pair of dual relics from the same seller.  I paid a little more than I typically prefer for Rickey relics but I got caught up in a bit of a bidding war and had to win them.

 Rickey had quite a few stops in his career and this card celebrates hit stops in Los Angeles and New York (I assume the Mets not the Yankees based on the swatch).   You might assume based on this card that Rickey left the Dodgers to go to the Mets but that really wasn't the case.  LA was Rickey's final stop in his career in 2003 and he had played with the Mets in 1999-2000.  He hit the Mariners, Padres and Red Sox in between.  This picture seems of the appropriate period towards the end of his career.  America's Pastime was a pretty limited product and no card is numbered higher than /125 so this would be considered his base relic for this subset.

I will always think of Rickey as an Oakland Athletic, he spent 14 of his 25 seasons with the A's. This card features 2 different swatches from Rickey's A's days and features a nice picture that, despite the airbrushing, is most certainly from his time with the A's.  The swatch on the right has some fuzz on it, like it came from the pants knee after a slide.  I like the design of this card and this would again be considered the base version of the subset being numbered 084/125.

Rickey has cards in several different subsets in this release including a booklet card that I wouldn't mind picking up.  The cost has been too rich for my blood but it may be time to see if I can find a bargain.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Joy of a Completed Set!

One of my favorite card releases in the last few years was Panini's 2012 Cooperstown set.  I bought a couple boxes, pulled some nice HOF auto and decided to go after the complete set along with quite a few insert sets.  The base set consists of 170 cards and in typical recent fashion, the last 20 were reprints.  The first 150 cards were black and white photos and the 20 short prints were colorized.  I think both photo types look great and really enjoy the set.

The problem has been tracking down the short prints.  These were either super short printed or there is a massive unopened inventory of this set in storage somewhere.  I saw some retail boxes of the product on sale on Black Friday and thought about picking some up in hopes of tracking down the SPs but wisely didn't go through with it.  I hoped that would increase the inventory on the secondary market.

Through my boxes and some eBay and Sportlots pickups I was able to get down to about 4-5 needs to complete my set.  Over the last couple months of last year I did searches everywhere I could think of and picked up all but 1 card.  The Jim Bottomley card #158 was nowhere to be found.  A couple crystal parallels were for sale but the short printed base card wasn't anywhere.

I set up an eBay search and followed it so it would notify me when any new cards got posted for sale.  One or two more parallels came up but for weeks, no card #158.  Then a couple weeks ago one popped up with a 99 cent minimum bid. I quickly put in a high bid of around $10 - I really wanted this card.  Wouldn't you know it but the next day another copy came up with an $8 Buy It Now.  I was torn and almost pulled the trigger and got it but I didn't want to get stuck with 2 copies. I waited patiently for the auction to end and scored this card for $8.02 delivered:

I was worried I would never get this set completed back last year when the want list stood at 4-5 cards.  The SPs weren't plentiful and the few I saw were extremely overpriced.  It is hard to explain how how happy completing this set has made this set collector.

Here are all 20 SPs in order from the set, I wonder how many other crazy collectors completed this thing?

Any fun stories out there on tracking down that final elusive card?