Thursday, May 28, 2020

A Sign of Things to Come?

One of my annual traditions is buying a hobby box of Topps Opening Day, cracking it open and building the base and insert sets.  The box is cheap and I usually pull a full base set out of a box.  From there building the insert sets is generally pretty affordable, most of the cards can be picked up for 18 cents on Sportlots.  I sell on Sportlots and typically flip the money I make in sales on cards to add to my collection, an odd but effective way of trading.

This year with the lock down my LCS was closed when Opening Day was released.  They eventually started doing curbside pickups but I didn't think a box of Opening Day was worth the trip.  The first weekend they opened back up I made a trip hoping to pick up a box and they were sold out.  The owner indicated they were very hot this year and he didn't think he could get anymore in at a reasonable price.  This is the lowest of the low end, what is going on?

Fast forward a week to this past weekend and I decided I wanted to pick up some retail Bowman.  I knew that hobby prices were going crazy so a blaster or two of Bowman would scratch that pack ripping itch.  I stopped by my local Targets and Walmarts throughout the Memorial Day weekend and there were none to be found.  A little reading on Facebook led me to discover that people were buying up and buying out all the Bowman retail and reselling them at crazy prices.

I am not sure where this hobby will settle but right now it is a little too crazy for me.  New products are selling at ridiculous prices.  Trout rookies are worth more than vintage Mantle and Ruth cards.  Topps Online cards sell for $20 then 2 weeks later are reselling for hundreds.  I am going to refocus my buying habits on some of the things that aren't spiking out of control and hope some of the other stuff stabilizes at a reasonable level.

I shared in an earlier post that I was going to forego building a Topps flagship set this year but realized that my crazy retail purchasing got me to within 70 cards of the Series 1 set and that I had all the main rookies.  I made a post on Facebook to see if I could pick them up from someone and a guy offered me all 70 for the low low price of $40 delivered.  A quick look on eBay showed me I could get the entire set for about $25 delivered.  I had to pass.  (BTW, if you have Series 1 laying around check out my want list and let's make a trade). 

Let's circle back to the start of this post with 2020 Topps Opening Day.  Apparently there must be some chase cards that people are doing after because after my failed attempt at a hobby box I found a full set including the 5 insert sets for $34 delivered - about the price of a box.  It wasn't as fun as ripping packs and seeking out inserts through purchases and trades but it did fill a collection want for me and saved me a few bucks.

Here is an overview of all the cards I picked up in my purchase:


I decided not to share much of this set since it came out quite a ways back but I had to showcase the first 5 cards in the Spring Has Sprung insert set - the photos are awesome and ones I don't ever recall seeing.


I really hope this is a temporary shift in the hobby but I have a sneaking suspicion that
we will see some lasting changes.  Any thoughts on the state of the hobby?

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Topps Giant Vintage Pickups

I thought I was in my "new normal" but over the last couple weeks I have been in a little funk. 

My job has been very busy, in addition to my normal work (now being done virtually) I am also on my company's task force to help set up new guidelines on when and how we will emerge from this pandemic and start repopulating our physical offices.   I am grateful to be working but this task force work is requiring me to work until 6 or 7 PM a couple nights a week (the joy of working in the Midwest for a West Coast based company!).

It isn't unusual for me to work long hours, I am actually probably working a bit less when you take into account that I don't have to travel and be away from home.  The challenge has been the fact that I work all day in my basement room, the same room that I use for my card collecting and blogging.  Initially I enjoyed being surrounded in my collection all day but lately I don't want anything to do with my card room after work hours, hence little time with my hobby and no blogging.

I decided to take last Friday off to give myself a 4 day weekend to separate and recharge.  I also hoped to pound out a few blog posts and get back in the routine.  Good news, it was a great break from work and I feel recharged.  Bad news, stayed mostly away from the card room and no blog posts were crafted.

Today I got some cards in the mail (by the time you read this it will have been yesterday) and I immediately wanted to share them in a blog post.  Don't know why, it is nothing epic or earth-shattering.  I was just excited to share them.  Hopefully this starts a trend, we'll see.

I was checking out a couple of card collecting groups on Facebook and saw someone with a big stack of 1964 Topps Giant cards.  This is an insert set I recently started collecting by picking up a big lot from a different guy on Facebook.   I shot the guy a PM with my want list and he responded back quickly that I was down the line and he was going in the order that people contacted him.  I figured I was too late and forget about it.

A day or two later he hit me back up with a PM and a picture of 14 cards that I needed for my set.  I told him I was interested and he him me back with an offer of $60 delivered and I didn't even counter.  If you aren't familiar with the set, it is 60 cards in length.  The cards are pretty affordable with a couple exceptions.  There are 7 short prints and 2 of them are stars in Sandy Koufax and Willie Mays.  There are also Mickey Mantle, Roberto Clemente and Hank Aaron in the set.  Most of the other stars aren't too bad to pick up so my love of insert sets, vintage and affordability collided and this is now a set I am going after.

With these 14 cards that you see below, and 3 cards on their way from COMC, my want list is down to 12 cards including all 5 of the expensive cards I called out above.  I am sure I will slowly pick those off to complete the set and I already have these oversized cards sitting in a binder in 4-pocket pages waiting to be finished off. 

Here are the cards I just picked up:
A Pair of HOF Pitchers

A Pair of HOF Braves

Hoot and Killer

Cha-Cha and Yaz to finish off a HOF run

A Pair of Great and Underrated Hitters

The Friend is One of Seven SPs

Finishing it Off with 2 More SPs
I am very happy with these pick ups and happy to share them with you. Hope to be back with some more cards to share soon.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

An Epic Milestone

My collecting roots were founded in set collecting and even as I have expanded into player collections and team collections the mentality of a set collector followed.  I look to finish up team sets of different products and all the cards from particular sets for some of the players.  If I had to give a generalized summary of my collecting approach it would be "I collect card sets".

One of the goals I made quite a number of years ago was to collect all the Topps sets in my lifetime.  I started collecting in 1979 and had the sets from that point forward.  I had also completed the 1978 set when I was younger after buying a vending box of 500 cards for $40 to start it off.  My task was to complete the sets from 1971-1977 to finish my lifetime Topps run.

I bought the 1974 set in its entirety and got an almost full set of 1977.  I bought a big lot of 1976 and built the rest.  I had picked up a bunch of the star cards from 1975 as it was one of my favorite sets so it didn't take me too long to piece that one together.  When I was building the 1973 set my LCS broke up a nice set of 1970 Topps and offered me a great deal to pick up a ton of the high number and was nice enough to allow me to make payments over a few months to stay within my collecting budget.  While the 1970 set was prior to my birth, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to pick up the cards I did at the  price.

After finishing the 1973 set, I just needed 1971 and 1972 sets to finish my quest.  The 71 set didn't take all that long, especially since I wasn't too worried about the black edges and corners being pristine.  Some of the high numbers were a bit difficult and pricey but overall not too bad.

Then came the 1972 set.  If you aren't familiar, it is a beast.  There are 787 cards that were released in 6 different series.  The 5th series is somewhat tough but the last 131 cards form the last series and they are rare and pretty expensive.  While I have a pretty solid budget each month to spend on cards I do feel I am very cheap and seek out low prices on cards. 

With the 72 high numbers there are rarely low prices and at one point I actually gave up trying to complete the set.  For a couple years I set goals to knock of large portions of the set and I got down to only needing cards from the last series.  I wasn't willing to spend the time to seek out low priced cards and wasn't willing to spend the budget to pay higher prices so I threw my hands up and ended the quest.

I so enjoy set building and was so disenfranchised by the 1972 set that I built the entire 1969 Topps set and started the 1957 Topps set instead of going after those dreaded high numbers.

After a pretty long gap one day I just decided to put on my big boy pants and focus on completing the set.  I have slowly been picking up cards, some on COMC, some on eBay, a few at my LCS and a few at card shops when I traveled for work.  I started spending more time on Facebook and found some there as well.

Recently I received this last batch of cards and I can now say that I have completed the set!




Someone saw me respond to a Facebook post and sent me a message saying he thought he could finish off my set for me.  We worked out a price and he realized that one of the cards he had pulled had some hidden damage.  He was nice enough to seek out another copy and send me the cards.  It made it take a while longer but what would this set quest be without another twist.

I thought about holding off on posting this for a while because I technically don't possess all the cards.  I have 14 cards sitting in my COMC account.  Right as the pandemic was heating up I requested shipment of my cards but they have really been delayed on getting orders out.  COMC has been reliable for me and I decided to call this one complete.  I am so excited to have this full set!!!

So what is next for this set builder?  I am still working on 1957 Topps and have decided to go after the 1968 set.  I had quite a few 68s and picked up a couple lots so as of right now I only need 221 of the 598 cards in the set.  It doesn't have the same huge issues with high numbers so I hope to complete it sometime next year.  I don't know if I have it in me to go after the 1967 set with the high number issues there so we will have to see what is in store.

For now I will just celebrate my Lifetime Run of Topps Cards!

Friday, May 8, 2020

1958 Topps 49er Team Set

One of my plans when I decided to start collecting vintage 49ers was to chart and document my progress in this blog by sharing each team set as it was completed.  When I was on my blogging hiatus I made some pretty good progress and didn't get a chance to showcase some of the team sets I completed.  Slowly but surly I am hoping to catch up and share my team sets.

Today I decided to share the oldest set I have completed to date, 1958 Topps.  This is a set that is similar in design to the 1959 Topps baseball set with the player picture featured in an oval surrounded by a colorful border.  I have completed both the 1958 football and 1959 football sets but build these team sets separate from my complete sets.

The Niners set includes a team card and 10 player cards.  Three of the player cards feature rookies, R.C. Owens, Marv Matuzsak and Matt Hazeltine.  Of those players I would rate Owens as the top player, he was a halfback which was a receiver position back then.  He earned the nickname Alley Oop and was a top 10 receiver in 2 of his 7 seasons.

Here is a look at the 49er team set:






The 49ers had some star power on this team with a few HOFers: Tittle, Nomellini, Perry, and McElhenny.  They finished the 1957 season at 8-4 and made the playoffs and followed that up in 1958 with a 6-6 record in 1958.

You may wonder what the "S" and "R" are stamped on the back of some of those cards.  Those are cards that came from the collection my dad gave me from his youth.  My dad and uncle share the same first letter of their first name and my dad was called Smitty so I am guessing the "R" was for my uncle's cards and the "S" for my dad - neither of them remember.  I am assuming there was a lack of trust between them.  Unfortunately my set build has quite a few cards with these stamps including the Jim Brown RC card - oh well not planning on selling the set anyway.

I have a couple 60s sets to still share and a bunch of 70s as well.  I am within striking distance of a few more 50s sets needing 4 cards for the 55 Bowman team set, 2 for 56 Topps, 4 for 57 Topps and 4 for 59 Topps.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Complete Set Showcase - 1987 Conlon Set - Part 3 of 3

Time to finish this set off.  This is part 3 of a 3 part series going through this very cool 1987 Conlon set.  As a reminder, here is a brief write-up about the set from beckett.com.  The second series of 60 Charles Martin Conlon standard-size sepia toned photo cards was produced by World Wide Sports in conjunction with The Sporting News. Reportedly 12,000 sets were produced. The photos were selected and background information written by Paul MacFarlane of The Sporting News.

If you want to look back at the first part of the set, you can check it out here.

The second part can be found here.

I decided to break this into 3 different posts and include 4 cards in each scan.  To add a little more that just show the cards, I thought I would share one fact I found interesting from reading the backs.  I hope you enjoy.




Favorite Fact -The Koenig card back tells an alternate explanation for Babe's called shot, I hadn't heard this version of the story.




Favorite Fact -Back in the early 1900s players had thin skin and did something about it.  I can't believe a guy would go into the opposing team's dugout, mid-game and punch someone out.  Funny that it was the wrong guy.



Favorite Fact -A dude named Hub owned Babe Ruth.  30 times up with 15 strikeouts - I wouldn't have guessed someone did so well against the Babe.



Favorite Fact -The Ernie shore no-hitter/perfect game in relief of Babe Ruth is a great story but one I had heard before.  I like the fact that Amos Rusie was able to transition from the 50' mound to the 60'6" distance and still be a strong pitcher.




Favorite Fact -I had no idea the great George Sisler came up as a pitcher and certainly didn't know he outdueled the great Walter Johnson.  I looked up his pitching record and he pitched in 15 games during his first season and a total of 24 games throughout his career.


There you have it, the entire 60 card set.  When I picked these cards up it was definitely for the awesome Conlon photography on the front.  In the end, I got a lot more enjoyment from the backs.  The stories, the nicknames and most important (and impressive) the writing made these card backs a joy.  Hope you enjoyed a look through the set.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Just for the "F" of It #19 - 2004 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Philip Hughes Auto 0344/1485

Back when I lived in Southern California, I frequently attended an LCS called MVP Sportscards in Laguna Hills.  The store is still there and on the infrequent times I make it to Orange County I always stop in. It is run by a great husband and wife team and they had the perfect variety of cards for this collector.  They had boxes of all the new stuff, singles of new and vintage cards and stocked boxes of oddball cards from the late 90s and early 00s. 

I used to go in weekly and typically would buy a box of cards and perhaps some singles.  When there wasn't anything new to get, I would dabble in some of the cards that were a few years old.  I had lots of fun opening up cards a few years old and one of those boxes was a box of 2004 Donruss Elite Edition.  As I recall, each box had multiple hits and today's Just for the "F" of it card is one of the hits from that box.

The owner was a long time resident of the area and was instantly excited when I pulled this card:






Philip Hughes was a draftee of the Yankees and wasn't real well know, at least to me.  But the owner knew him because he grew up locally and was a pretty highly regarded prospect.  You can see from the write up on this back of his card that he went to high school in Santa Ana which is in north Orange County.




Because he was a local guy, I decided this card would be a keeper.  Hughes ended up having a decent career playing 12 seasons with the Yankees, Twins and Padres.  One year with the Twins he won 16 games and earned some Cy Young Award votes.  He retired after the 2018 season.

Recently I discovered that Phil is a fellow card collector which adds to my desire to keep this card in my collection.  He has a popular Youtube channel called Phil's Pulls that I have been watching for a few weeks.    He has over 37k subscribers and primarily breaks newer stuff.  Recently he started breaking some 90s stuff which has been fun to watch.

I have always appreciated the relationship I built with MVP Sportscards and the help they gave me with my collection.  I am also happy that they were in tune with the local high school baseball scene and demonstrated the enthusiasm over a Yankee draftee that results in me keeping this card, just of the fun of it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

A 2020 Rainbow

When I decided to pare back on my 2020 set collections I decided to dive a little into my Giants collection.  I want to try to pick up at least one of each parallel throughout the year and when 2020 Donruss came out I decided to try to go after a rainbow of one player.  I looked through the checklist and decided Maricio Dubon would be the guy.  He was acquired by the Giants midyear last year in a trade for Drew Pomeranz and plays 2B and SS.  This spring the Giants were trying him out in CF and were projecting him to be an almost every day player at a variety of positions.  The team brass and many of the guys that cover the Giants are very high on him and I was pretty excited to see how the season panned out.  Their excited translated to me and I hope I get to see him in action this year.

I am cheating a bit as I am one parallel short of completing a full rainbow plus I haven't secured a 1/1 press plate yet.  I have yet to see a Press Proof /5 come up for sale for Dubon and I decided not to wait on one to show these off.


The first scan shows off the base card, an Artist's Proof  04/10, a Baby Shark and a Career Stat Line 231/434.  This picture works out well without the licensing, nice selection.  The silly parallels like a Baby Shark actually made me want to pursue this rainbow.


These are Holo Blue, Holo Orange, Holo Purple and Holo Red - a true rainbow of colors.


This quad has an Independence Day, Look At This 23/25, Holo Pink and On Fire 28/75.


Finally One Hundred 085/100, Presidential Collection 30/50, Season Stat Line 083/106 and Yellow.  I had to overpay for the last one which was the Presidential Collection.  I missed the first one that popped up and ended up paying more than the price of a blast for this one.  The Yellow one was tough to track down I think they are Walgreen's exclusives.

I am thinking of going after a Topps Chrome rainbow this year as well, just need to figure out which player.