Tuesday, February 12, 2019

A Whitey Sighting

As I mentioned in my 2019 Collecting Goals posts, I have started down the path of trying to put together a 1957 Topps set.  One could argue my time, energy and funds should be focused on my 1972 Topps set since that would complete my Topps run of sets from 1969 to present.  However those dang high numbers but in price and quantity have made me give up in pursuing the set.  Maybe if I run across a place to get some singles for a buck or two a piece or find a nice big lot at a reasonable price I will reconsider.  But for now I am working on 1957 and find it much more fun (and surprisingly affordable).

My goal for this year was to pick up 12 of the 30 cards with book values of $100 or more that I still needed.  In the past when I start older set builds I tend to focus on getting lots of commons first then slowly acquiring the stars later on.  I am hoping this approach prevents me from having a bunch of expensive cards left at the end.

I have picked up some cards that fit the bill on COMC already but recently got my first $100+ card in my possession.  I was able to pick up this Whitey Ford card for $13.99 delivered.


This card is in really nice shape with one exception that I am sure drove the price down. If you look at Ford's left arm you will some some pencil writing, I think it is the number 58.  To my naked eye it isn't too noticeable unless you look really close and with the rest of the condition being so nice I was happy to add it to my set build.

The backs on the 57s are pretty solid as well, take a look:


There is a nice write up and shares the start of his amazing career World Series record.  Ford put up some pretty amazing stats.  I know that wins and winning percentage are not as important to most as they used to be but winning over 74% of his decisions through his first 5 years is pretty impressive.

I love the cartoon on the back.  Interestingly, I did a google search to see if the 45 hits in a game had been broken.  I found some inaccurate information on line but was able to track down a game from 1922 with 51 combined hits - August 25, 1922 Phillies vs. Cubs and an extra innings game from 1932 with 58 combined hits - July 10, 1932 Indians vs. Athletics.  Both of those were prior to the printing of the card so I am guess recording keeping wasn't quite as easy as it is today with baseballreference.com.

My last thought when looking at this card is surrounding the nickname Whitey.  I am not super political but have seen some recent news stories about politicians dressing up in black face back in the 80s and know that there is a decent amount of racial tension in some parts of the country and quite a bit of political correctness in today's speech.  I am guessing the days of a blond dude named Ed being nicknamed Whitey are probably over.

Wish me luck on tracking down some other good deals on 1957 Topps cards!

Monday, February 11, 2019

You Win Some, You Lose Some

For the last several years I have worked on a pretty strict hobby budget, put in place by my wife and I once I looked back over my spending for a few months and discovered I was a bit (or more than a bit) out of control.  Back then, almost all my spending was focused on picking up cards on eBay.  I had searches set up for my major player collections and would try and get every card I needed for all my players.

Over the last couple years, I have noticed my outlets for picking up cards for my collection have greatly expanded.  I buy and sell on Sportlots.  Occasionally I grab come cards off beckett.com.  More recently I have attended a couple of estate sales and auctions looking to add cards to my collection.  COMC had surpassed eBay as the place I spend the majority of my hobby funds.  I have picked up a collection on Craig's List and bought cards off sellers in Facebook groups.  I have watched a bunch of case breaks on Youtube but have yet to take the plunge there.  One plunge I have taken has been getting into a few breaks with Burl's Sportcards.

Burl's primarily offers vintage set breaks but has also offered some Mixer breaks where cards from various sets and years are offered.  You buy a spot and the cards are randomed off.  You are guaranteed a card and usually there are one or two key cards.

I have participated in the last 2 Post-WWII Mega Mixers with mixed results.  The first one, right before the end of 2018 had a 1962 Topps Lou Brock PSA 5 and a 1964 Topps Mickey Mantle as the top 2 cards. Entry into the break was $35, there were only 20 slots and here is what I brought home:


I scored this 1963 Topps Ernie Banks. While I didn't win one of the key prized I do think this was one of the better cards.  Looking at comps on eBay and COMC I think I did pretty well from a price perspective of course.  This isn't the best conditioned card but I think if I chose to resell it (which I won't) I could get more than I paid for the slot.  I have very few 1963 cards in my collection and even fewer of stars so this Banks is staying in my collection and I consider this mixer entry a nice win.

I second Post-WWII Mega Mixer was offered in late January, with one with 100 slots with the same $35 price point.  The key card was a 1963 Topps Pete Rose PSA 6 RC.  There were some other killer cards like a 1954 Topps Mays, 1955 Bowman Mays and 1956 Topps Aaron, Koufax, Williams, Clemente and Jackie.  Lots of great cards, all from 1969 or earlier.  Here is what I scored in this mixer:


Ouch.  Not only is this a card that sells for less that $10, it is one I already have in my collection, in my completed 1969 set.  I love the design of these All-Star cards and while I would have loved to pick up some of the top cards, these mixers are a gamble and I knew the risks.  You win some and you lose some.

There was a 10 card Mini-Mixer that I passed on recently as I had most of the top cards already in my collection.  There is a Pre-WWII Mega Mixer coming up soon that I am eager to hear the details of and hope to enter and a few other 50s and 60s set breaks I am considering entering coming up.  I have really enjoyed expanding the outlets to secure cards for my collection.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

A Major Miner Pick Up

One of my player collections if of former USC Trojan and NBA Slam Dunk Champion Harold Miner.  As I have shared before, I was at school at USC during Miner's three years and lived on the same floor as him during my sophomore year.  We interacted occasionally and actually played a little hoops together.  Not friends but friendly.

I have been collecting his cards since he entered the NBA and my collection of his cards is about as complete as any player collection I have.  My want list is primarily some obscure parallels from his playing days and a few low numbered recent cards of his that Upper Deck put out during a nice stretch where they produced some really nice hoops cards of players in their college unis.

I rarely see cards of his pop up on eBay that I need in my collection.  Last year my only Miner pick ups were an oddball promo and an Upper Deck parallel from a foreign country.  A few weeks back one of my needs appeared and despite a bidding war I was able to bring this awesome card home:


Harold is paired on this 2012-13 SP Authentic card with fellow Slam Dunk champion and Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins.  While I do get excited when I can remove one of the playing days Miner's from my want list and really enjoy picking up low numbered parallels from recent releases, this was my second greatest want for my collection.  My sights are set on a triple autograph with these two guys and Spud Webb.  Interesting neither of these cards is serial numbered but based on scarcity out on the open market, I have to assume they are fairly limited.

I plan on keeping my eyes open for more Miner cards that I need but expect that this will most likely be the only card of his I add to my collection this year.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Hall of Famer Pick Up

Just a quick post today but wanted to share a new pick up for the Hall of Famer baseball autograph collection.  I set a goal to pick up 5 new players this year and in looking through the list of guys I need, there aren't a lot of low price options available.  One guy on the list I decided to seek out was Al Lopez.  Lopez was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1977 by the Veterans Committee and while I believe he was primarily selected for his managerial career, he was a very good player as well.

As a player he set the record for most games played as a catcher with 1918, a record that stood for quite some time.  He was a two-time All-Star and played for the Brooklyn Robins/Dodgers, Boston Bees, Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians between 1928 and 1947.

As a manager, he never had a losing season in either the major or minor leagues.  He has a .584 winning percentage which puts him in the top 10 all time.  And a crazy Yankee trivia fact, his 1954 Indians and 1959 White Sox teams were the only non-Yankee clubs to win the AL pennant between 1949 and 1964.

The card I picked up is a PSA certified autograph on a 1977 TCMA Renata Galasso card.  It features a nice black and white photo and he autographed the card across the chest.  He is listed as a manager and is wearing a #42 White Sox jersey, a team he still sits in 2nd place on the all time wins list for.

I had to go the route of a card like this because Lopez passed away in 2005 and to the best of my knowledge his only pack released autos are cut autos.  I think a card like this displays much better than most cut autos.  According to beckett.com, he has 71 different released autograph cards and based on my quick math a total print run of just under 700 cards.  His auto isn't rare and this card didn't break the bank.

I am happy to have this card in my collection and I am now 20% done with a 2019 goal!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Happy Topps Day!

I am a couple of days late as the official release date was on Wednesday.  On Wednesday night I hit up 2 Targets and a Walmart with no luck.  I was able to track down some 2019 Topps yesterday but didn't get a chance to post.  I picked up one retail pack, 1 fat pack, 1 hanger box and 1 blaster.   I decided to share some of my firsts then I will give overall impressions about the release.

Here is my first card.  Not too bad, Blackmon is a really good player.


Here is my first Giant.  Cueto came in my first pack.  I am a little surprised to see him in the set since he pitched so sparingly last year and will be out for most of 2019 after Tommy John surgery.



Here are my first inserts.  These are the inserts from all but the blaster.


Here are my first parallels.  The rainbow Hoskins is solid and the 150th stamp is a new parallel this year with the gold stamp.


Here is my first "hit", the manurelic out of the blaster box.  I would have preferred the Rickey Henderson but Eck isn't bad.  I am a little surprised there are no Giants in this 50 card set.  Buster usually makes an appearance in sets like this.


I am very excited about this card, my first 2019 Willie McCovey card.  He has a few appearances on insert cards and I look forward to tracking them down.


From a design perspective, I am okay with this year's cards.  Not my favorite but I don't hate it.  The stripes are reminiscent of 1982 Topps and act as half a border on the cards.  I think it is a little odd to have the last name above the first but my eyes seem to read them just fine.    I have seen some complaints that the team name is squeezed into one of the stripes, I don't have a problem there but the position is a little tough to see depending on the color of the font.  I didn't scan any card backs but do like the career stats being back.

Over the past few years, I have been buying master sets of cards, basically the base set and all the hobby inserts, off of eBay.  Then I decided which of the retail insert sets to go after.  This year the inventory of master sets was scarce and the few out there were much more expensive that previous years.  After opening some packs and doing some research, the reason for this is because the inserts are not as plentiful.  It also appears there are more inserts that prior releases.  Hobby boxes have gone from 36 packs to 24 packs.  Some of the packs I opened had only 1 insert or parallel, others had up to 3.  The fat pack only had 2 inserts, it is crazy that a fat pack has fewer non-base cards that some single packs.

So here is my plan for 2019, at least Series 1.  I plan on picking up some more retail packs (although no fat packs) and try to build the base set the old fashion way, through packs and trades with perhaps a few purchases.  I am going to also try and build my desired insert sets through the packs I buy, picking up lots on eBay, buying low priced singles on Sportlots and hopefully some trades.  I made a checklist of the insert sets I am chasing and posted it on my want list, if you have some from for trade, please reach out.

For a point of reference, I am chasing 530 insert cards this year:


150 Years of Baseball – 150 cards
’84 Topps Throwbacks – 100 cards
Stars of the Game – 100 cards
Iconic Card Reprints – 50 cards
Cactus League Greats – 30 cards
Grapefruit Leage Greats – 30 cards
Evolution – 25 cards
Greatness Returns – 25 cards
Revolution of the Game – 10 cards
’18 Topps Now Review – 10 cards


Wow, that is a pretty daunting task, feel free to help a guy out!

Hope you have been able to track down some 2019 Topps and Happy Topps Day!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Why?

I have been collecting players from USC since the early 2000s.  I was living in Orange County, CA and players like Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart were helping to drive the football card market.  I was hitting up the LCS at least once a week and cracking just about every new product that came out.  My goal was to add as many former Trojan player cards to my collection, base, inserts, parallels, hits - they were all on my radar.

While I was looking at any and all former players, I tended to gravitate toward certain players.  It is pretty easy for me to explain why I was going for certain players.  For example, I was going after as many Tony Boselli cards because he lived across the hall from me during my junior year.  Ronnie Lott was a natural as I met him a couple times and he was a 49er great.  Pat Harlow played when I was in school and he was cool when I ran into him a couple times.  Ryan Kalil was an All-American and entered the draft as the top center in the country.

There is one player I went after pretty hard and I really can't remember or figure out why.  Anthony McCoy was a tight end at USC and didn't play his freshman year. In his final 3 years, he played in 36 games and made 46 catches and scored 3 touchdowns.  He was far from being a star.  He was drafted in the 6th round.  As a pro, Pete Carroll gave him a shot in Seattle and he played from 2010-2012 and then split the 2015 season between the Seahawks and Redskins.  He played in a total of 34 games in his career and made 31 catches and scored 3 touchdowns.  Not a spectacular career my any means and I have no personal connection to him.

Despite not understanding my drive to collect him, I have amassed a pretty solid collection of his cards.  With this new addition, I now have 189 different cards including 12 1/1 cards.  There are 75 cards I still don't have and 61 of those are 1/1s.


This card was sitting on my watch list on eBay for literally years.  The price started out around $40 and one day I decided to throw down a $10 offer that was accepted.  I doubt many of the 1/1s will surface but I am thinking about chasing down the 14 non-1/1s just for the heck of it.

Is there anyone or anything you collect that you aren't sure why?

Saturday, January 26, 2019

San Diego Shopping

I just got back on Friday from a quick work trip to San Diego.  The perfect, sunny weather was a nice break from the winter misery going on in my neck of the woods.  Even better, I got into SD early on Wednesday morning and had some time to kill before my first meeting.  My first stop was Balboa Park to stretch my legs, get in some steps and soak up some son.  My second stop was Carl's Jr. to have my favorite fast food burger for lunch (no Carl's in Kansas).  My third stop, after a quick Yelp search was Clairemont Sports cards.

The shop was great. It wasn't too big and had an old school feel.  The wall on the right had some narrow shelves with baseball boxes, bobbleheads and other collectibles.  Below the narrow shelves were deeper shelves with 3200 count boxes neatly labeled by set starting with 1957 Topps up to some current day sets.  There was a line of display cases that also contained labeled boxes, some sorted by players and other by teams.  Across the entire top of the display cases were 2 types of boxes, 50 cent boxes with stars, inserts and parallels & dollar boxes with superstar cards sorted by players.

The left side of the store pretty much replicated the right but was split between football, basketball and hockey.  The front of the store had a few cases with singles while the back has some higher end cards, graded cards and other oddball items. 

At the front of the store sat a guy I assume was an owner sitting at a table with a Beckett Annual book pricing out some cards.  He was a super nice guy that I chatted with throughout my visit.  He shared some great stories of seeing games as far back as the 1950s and hit me with a trivia question he guessed I could never answer.  The question was Who was the first San Francisco Giant elected to the Hall of Fame.  Knowing the question had to be someone you don't initially associate with the Giants, I took a few minutes to think through and correctly answered Warren Spahn - he was impressed.

Shortly after I arrived a guy came in a dropped off a few boxes of late 80s/early 90s cards.  He had called ahead and was just giving them away.  They were his sons' collections and he wanted them out of the garage.  This shop takes donations like this, gives all the baseball and football cards to a guy who has a kids charity that accepts them.  The second shop guy, maybe a co-owner, started sorting through the cards and taking out the non-baseball/football cards.  He wasn't quite a chatty but still a cool guy.

I didn't have a ton of time and started on the Mays and McCovey dollar boxes.  I found a couple of Mays cards I needed:


I felt these were worth a buck a piece.  I was shocked and surprised to find two new McCovey cards that I had never even seen before:


These are two oddballs of McCovey featuring him with the Phoenix Giants.  The Holsum card is from 1993 and the Dream Team card is from 1997 and produced by Keebler and The Arizona Republic newspaper.  I probably would have paid 10X the amount for these, it is rare that I run across a McCovey card I didn't even know existed as I have been collecting his cards since the late 80s.

Here are the backs:


My final look was in the box of 1957 Topps.  He had some higher end stars and top condition cards and while my 2019 goal focus on $100+ cards, I was more interested in digging through the commons.  I was able to identify 54 cards I needed that hit my quality standards (no paper loss, no writing and no significantly noticeable creases).  Here is a look at the stack:


I actually bought 61 cards but 7 of the cards I accidentally got 2 of.  I handed the stack to the guy a little worried about what price he would quote as he didn't give me a concrete price when he handed me the box.  I was pleasantly surprised when he quoted me $60 for everything.

If you are ever in SD, especially if you are looking for some great guys and non-graded vintage, I would strongly recommend Clairemont Sportscards.  I will I had a couple of hours to hang around and dig through stuff.  I am kicking myself for not asking about more oddball McCovey stuff as the Padres like to claim him as their first HOF player.  My 1957 set build is coming along nicely, I am up to 134 of 407 cards if I count a few in my COMC account including a few of the higher end (but none of the extreme high end) cards.