Sunday, January 31, 2016

Catching Up With Patrick Ewing

I am, and never was, a great basketball player. My best moments in school were when I could get down in the paint, box guys out and grab some rebounds and put backs.  I always say I am guard sized (6' tall) with a power forward skill set.  Unfortunately for me this didn't translate into anything past high school freshman ball other than some dominance in a couple college 6' and under intramural league championships.

My attraction to big guys probably evolved from the skills I personally possessed.  The first two hoops guys I player collected were Patrick Ewing and Charles Barkley.  I later added Chris Webber to the mix.  I think I was drawn to their talent and the fact they were big guys who banged inside. The only guard I collect is Harold Miner who went to USC when I was in school and was my neighbor my junior (and his sophomore) year.

With 2015 being my year of the base card, I made a list of base cards I needed in my player collections and tried to grab some during my card collecting purchase.  I thought I would group all my Patrick Ewing cards into one post.  Nothing earth shattering but it is fun to check out some of Ewing's photos from throughout his playing career.  One thing I noted when putting this together is that almost every photo is an action shot, unlike many of the baseball cards we get today.

Notable in this first scan are the 3 USA basketball cards across the top. The Dream Team was a huge thing and there was a set put out with 9-10 cards of each player and these 3 finish off my Ewing portion of the set.  The Classic card is one of the few that doesn't show some action but it brings back my memories of Ewing sweating up a storm.  The dude was playing so hard he was drenched every day.  Anyone remember Inside Stuff?  I was a TV show hosted by former football player Ahamd Rashad that was so popular it was featured in a couple card sets.

Hoops cards were immune to the parallel explosion that Topps started in the 1990s.  Not the small Topps Gold logo on the two top/middle cards - I remember how excited I was to pull some of these "rare" gold cards back in the day.  The from the roof cards made for some cool photography. I really  like how the card on the bottom right displays Patrick's massive wing span - how did anyone get a rebound against he and the Knicks?

These cards get into the middle to late 90s and start showing off some higher quality and shinyness.  Still lots of action shots here.  The bottom right corner card is a recent Panini Prizm release.  It is a die cut purple parallel serial numbered to 49. It doesn't really fit with the rest but I won it at the LCS bid board and thought I would include it here.

This is a group of cards from Upper Deck and features some of my favorite action shots.  I wonder if the close proximity to the court by the photographers helps capture some of these in game action shots better than some other sports. I also think the athleticism of the hoops players helps in the creation of these cards.

These final two items are kind of oddballs.  The NBA Jam Session card comes from one of the sets produced in the mid 90s that are the same shape and size of the Tall Boys from the 70s.  The item on the right is actually a small book with some information about Ewing and his career up to that point. It was a cool oddball I picked up at my LCS that closed recently.

Although my player collections aren't a stated goal for 2016, I am still going to work to add some cards to all my player collections.  I will also share some Barkley and Webber new additions in future posts.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Trade Post - mrhaverkamp

Last year I finished off my 1970 Topps set leaving me just the 1971 and 1972 Topps sets to pursue to finish off the run from 1970 to present.  I set goals at the beginning of the year to add at least 100 cards of each set to my collection by the end of 2016 including finishing off some early series (in the case of 1971 - Series 1-2, in the case of 1972 - Series 1-4).  I recently got some help from my friend Jim, aka mrhaverkamp.  Unfortunately we weren't able to connect on his trip to Southern California over the holidays and unfortunately his Wisconsin Badgers beat my USC Trojans in the Holiday Bowl.  Fortunately Jim shot me some help to one of the set collecting goals, a nice stack of needed 1971 Topps cards.

 I nice group here include HOFer Rod Carew.  The Cuellar card is cool with the players in the background and the perspective of the stadium overhang in the background.  You have to like the post slide dust cloud on Vada Pinson's card.

I am subscribed to a weekly email from the Baseball HOF and they started a series where people who work at the HOF talk about a card from their childhood.  Not too far back someone shared this Jerry Grote card.  I think it was the first time I had seen it.  There were some good stories about Grote as well.  One of the cool things about collecting this set is that I do get cards that I don't recall seeing before which is really cool.

Another HOFer in Giant Juan Marichal. I of course have this card in my Giants binder but needed another for the set.  I really like shots like Tepdeino's card with guys hanging around the batting cage and this card even features a tractor in the background.

Here are the last of the 29 cards Jim sent my way.  I am not sure if it is because they are relatively uncommon or if it is the actual pictures but the action shots like all 3 across the top in this 1971 Topps set are some of my favorite in my entire collection. 

 Jim also included a couple Giants tri-fold cards.  The action shot with JT Snow and Vlad Guerrero is pretty sweet.  I didn't crack the Nick Johnson, Barry Bonds card as I was afraid I would mess up the card.   There is some kind of glue holding down the flaps.

I also got a note with a bit of advice:
After getting this note I did some thinking and research on the two sets.  I was also able to pick up a big lot of 98 1971 Topps cards that were all from Series 3 and 4 of which 59 were new to my collection.  With these 2 pickups the new 100 cards is only 22 cards away and gives me 607/752 cards (80.7%) with Nolan Ryan, Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente still needed.

The 1972 set doesn't look quite as good.  I have 542/787 (68.9%) of the cards and need a bunch of stars.  Additionally I only have 1 card from all of Series 6 which is a 130 card series with the cards all booking for $12 or more and not any deals to be had in sight.

I think Jim's advice is wise.  I may still go after the 37 cards I need for the first 4 series (this includes some big cards in Clemente, Bench and Fisk RC) but wait and hope I can locate some kind of source for those last 2 series after putting my 1971 set to rest.  It seems like 1969 Topps might even be easier than the 1972 beast. 

As always Jim, thanks for the great cards and the set help. I also appreciate the advice.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Trade Post - GCRL

Here is another long overdue trade post, I did finally get some return items back out to Jim of gcrl fame.  His blog has been on hiatus since July of 2015 but he hasn't slowed down on the trade front.  All the Dodgers bloggers are eager to get the Giants cards out of their collection and I am a willing recipient.

Here are my favorites from the package he sent:

A wide variety of cards here and all of them are great additions to my Giants collection.  The Murray red parallel from 2000 Pacific is the first in my collection, I am a fan of Pacific but as I am updating my checklists I recognize I will never come close to getting all of them but I will certain keep looking out for new ones.  The Mize Tribute card is a beauty, these are some of the best base cards ever in my opinion.  The Mitchell stamp is a cool oddball that I hadn't seen before.

This package contained a lot of gold, Topps parallels from a number of different Topps releases.  I have contemplated a run at all the gold parallels but haven't put a lot of focus on it to date, although I have completed the team sets the last few years.  I suspect the farther away I get from the release dates of the early 2000's, it will be much more challenging to finish those sets.  Jim helped me out with a few.

When I got to this sweet orange relic of former Giants Marco Scutaro I thought it might be the highlight of the package but then this popped out....

Sweet vintage Bowman!  Not only vintage Bowman but a card I needed.  Obviously this isn't mint but I don't care one bit.  How cool to get a 60+ year old card in a random trade package.  Thanks Jim for the great group of Giants goodness!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Trade Post - A Cracked Bat

I really can't tell you how long ago I got this great group of cards from Julie of A Cracked Bat fame.  We have exchanged packages back and forth and I am not sure this officially represents a trade but for tagging purposes, that's what I am calling it.

First up were some newer Giants:

This is a great assortment and I needed them all.  The purple background on the Bumgarner is pretty and I really like the Panik die cut - it was a card that I had never seen.  I am hoping that Panik continues the All Star play that was happening prior to his back injury during the second half of last year.  With the new Giants additions to the starting rotation, it seems like Chris Heston of no-hitter fame will be relegated to the bullpen unless some gets hurts.  The Giants rotation will be quite strong to go with a NL leading offense - watch out Dodgers.  The bottom 3 cards partner with Panik to form 3/4 of the Giants infield, Giants cards as Orange Refractors are awesome.

Julie also included a nice group of Barry Bonds cards.  I am a little sad to see him as hitting coach for the Marlins, it would be nice to see him at Spring Training this year in the Orange and Black.  Reminds me a little of Jack Clark becoming a Dodgers coach, he looked terrible in Dodger blue.

The Cepeda is a reprint but it was the last original back I needed for the Giants team set which is awesome. It did bring back some PTSC (Post Traumatic Set Collecting) as I made the idiotic decision to collect both the regular and original back versions in 2010.  As I recall this is a 157 card insert set over all 3 series and the original backs were inserted 1/hobby box.  I didn't keep track of how much I spent but I recall some of the Ryan, Mantle and Jeter cards being $5-10 each.  I need to focus on the awesome Will Clark and Matt Williams cards to distract me.  I also love getting oddball stuff with Giants logos like this Cracker Jack sticker and hologram!

Finally a great relic out of Topps Archives of the Kung Fu Panda.  I miss the personality and humor Sandoval brought to the Giants but last year Matt Duffy did more than replace Panda with his great rookie performance.  I am sad that because he plays the same position as Kris Bryant as he won't have a Rookie Cup on his Topps base card this year but I am hoping he doesn't have a sophomore slump.

Thanks Julie for a great group of cards!!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Complete Set Review - 1983 Donruss Hall of Fame Heroes

A few months back I picked up a set that I have had my eye on for a couple of decades.  I think it is a very attractive set and features one of my favorite card topics - Baseball Hall of Famers.  In 1983, during their 3rd year of putting out baseball card sets, Donruss released a 44-card Hall of Fame Heroes set.  These are standard size cards on typical 1980s Donruss card stock.  Some research shows that the cards came in eight card packs with 3 Mickey Mantle puzzle pieces at a cost of 30 cents.  I don't recall seeing packs of these cards back in the 80s, only singles at card shows.

42 of the 44 cards in the set feature Dick Perez artwork, he of Diamond King fame.  One card depicts the completed Mantle puzzle and the final card is a checklist.   Here is the front of the Dizzy Dean card.  The cards feature portraits, half-body and full-body pictures, I tend to like the full-body pictures the best.

The card backs are red, white, and blue containing the card number and a short player biography.  After reading through all the card backs, I really like the style and content of the write ups.

Since it is only a 44-card set, I figured I would share the entire set, enjoy:

A great looking set that I am glad to finally have in my collection.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

1981 Topps Thirst Break

When I was working on updating my checklist I ran across a couple needs that I never recalled seeing from a set called 1981 Topps Thirst Break.  My checklist showed cards for Christy Mathewson and Carl Hubbell so I decided to do some quick searches.  I struck out on COMC so I went to Beckett to find out what these are.  Here is a part of their description:

This is a 56-card set of individual wax paper gum wrappers, similar to a Bazooka Comic. These wrappers were issued in Thirst Break Orange Gum, which was reportedly distributed in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Each of these small gum wrappers has a comic-style image of a particular great moment in sports. (M)any different sports are represented in this set. The wrappers each measure approximately 2 9/16" by 1 5/8". The wrappers are numbered in small print at the top. The backs of the wrappers are blank. 

I next went to eBay and did a search.  There were quite a few singles listed for $4 and up but I also saw a lot of 41 different that was up for auction.  I looked through the listing and saw that not only were the Mathewson and Hubbell in the lot but there were a total of 7 I could use in different parts of my collection.  I placed a bid and for $10.50 plus shipping I brought home these cards:

One of the two I had on my checklist.

Here is the other on my list.

Hoyt is being celebrated for being on 9 teams and 1 of them was the Giants so into the Giants binder he goes.

OJ fits into my USC collection and I started a player collection for him back when he was only known for football, acting and broadcasting.  It has been a long time since I added a new OJ card.

I haven't officially started a player collection for the Big O but I think it is eminent. I am keeping this one in anticipation.

A nice new item for the Reggie player collection.

Another one for the Giants binder celebrating the shortest game ever.  Think the fans felt cheated?

As you can see, this is a multisport release and the condition on these isn't great.  There are dark spots on all of these which I believe are a result of being packed with sugary gum for quite some time.  Some of the ones on eBay are in better condition with little staining but I am not that picky.

To be honest, getting 41 of the 56 in my lot, the set builder in me was tempted to go after the set but I decided against it as I would be back to where I started with my player/team collections needing not only the 15 to complete the set but additional copies of the 7 shown above.

I figured I would scan the rest to see if anyone out in blog land was interested in any of them.  Drop me a note or a comment if so and we can work out a trade.  Here they are:

Some great players included in this.

While my checklist reorganization has been time consuming and somewhat tedious, finding out about this need and seeking these out has been one of the positive outcomes.  I have recently posted up my the new format for my Giants Want List on the blog for the years I have complete (up through the mid-2000s).  The last decade will take some time but I am happy with the look and usability of the new format.

Monday, January 25, 2016

McCovey Monday #84 - 2005 Flair Dyansty Foundations

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 didn't have much time to put together a post today but I am on a pretty good streak of posting daily.  I thought I would share another book card, this one a little less impressive than the one last week.

This book card features 5 Giants, 3 HOFers along with Ray Durham and Jason Schmidt but Schmidt is obviously the star and focus of this card.  While the booklet features all 5 players, only Schmidt has a swatch, a pretty nice patch swatch.  While this is a pretty cool card for a Giants collector like me, it is a little weak to have to add this as a McCovey collector.  Now a 5-way patch with these players would offer a little more to get excited about.

I have had this card for quite a while and don't remember what I paid but recall it being more than I really wanted to but a chance to knock another card off the Willie Mac want list was too much to pass up.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Manurelic Bookends

The first manufactured patches I recall entering the hobby came from Upper Deck in the 2004 Sweet Spot Classic release.  I didn't crack much if any of that product but I do remember seeing some boxes broken at my LCS.  The "patch" card as it was called was usually the last card in the pack/box and featured a wide variety of famous players.  There were also a number of different patches for many of the players in the set.

Here is a Christy Mathewson I picked up recently celebrating the 1911 World Series.  Somewhat of an odd choice as the Giants lost that Series to the Philadelphia A's 4-2 with Mathewson going 1-2 in 3 starts (there was a 6 day rain delay in the middle).

Each player has several different patches produces in different print runs.  I have 8 different versions of these cards in my Willie McCovey collection (print runs of 10, 25, 50, 125, 150, 200, 230 & 300).  There is a version out of 75 listed in Beckett that I have never seen before, I suspect it doesn't exist.

As I recall, I liked these cards when I first saw them.  They were new to the hobby, showed some creativity and allowed for some retired players to be more prevalent in the hobby.  Once Topps got on the bandwagon and started calling manurelics "hits" in their Jumbo boxes, I started to change my attitude about them and got to the point where I almost despised them.  I don't know if I am softening up as I get older but my attitude is flipping again and I am starting to like some of the releases.

Take for instance this 2015 Topps Series 2 First Home Run manurelic of the Kung Fu Panda:

These manurelics were inserted in retail blasters at 1/blaster, kind of an extra added bonus when you bought a blaster.  I actually made the decision to buy a couple blasters this year in part to get one of these cards.  I unfortunately didn't pull a Giant but got this one on Sportlots at a very reasonable price.  These are very thick and heavy, the medallion in the middle is made of some sort of metal.  The silver foil lettering doesn't come through that great in the scan but the card in person looks really nice.

As the oldest and newest manurelics in my collection, these cards represent what I like about this relatively new part of the hobby.  There are still a few in-between that were ill conceived but hopefully moving forward we will continue to see nice cards with solid designs.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Complete Set Review - 1998 Upper Deck

My collecting life started as a set collector with the first set I completed being 1981 Topps.  Prior to the explosion in the number of sets I had a pipe dream to have one of every base card for all the major companies. Due to that explosion, I had to narrow my goals and I decided on this:
  • Complete every Topps flagship set from 1970 forward.  I recently completed my 1970 set and have want lists for 1971 and 1972 posted.  Each year I complete the Series 1, Series 2 and Update sets and will do so again this year.  Since 2006 I have collected most of the insert sets and have recently decided to start filling in some of the insert sets.
  • Complete every Donruss set.  This one is complete with the possible exception of 1999 Donruss.  Donruss didn't put out a set in 1999 or 2000 and in 2001 inserted cards that may have been produced if they did put out sets.  I have completed the 2000 set but am not even close to the 1999 set.  With the re-release of Donruss in 2014 and 2015 it has given me new sets to add to my Donruss run.
  • Complete every Fleer set.  Fleer did some odd things like releasing a Fleer Tradition set without a base Fleer set a few years which made this a little challenging to pursue.  For a few years I have just stopped this pursuit but I may need to start it up again.  I am in need of 1997 & 2006 Fleer along with 1998-99, 2005 Fleer Tradition.  If I recall a couple of these contain significant numbers of short prints so I am going to need to be patient to get good prices.
  • Complete every Upper Deck set.  I got really close to this years ago needing just a 1998 set to finish the run.  The 1998 set presented a couple of challenges - 1) it is a fairly large set with 751 cards released over 3 series and 2) there are short prints, cards number 601-630 were short printed at 1/4 packs plus Mike Piazza has 2 #681 cards, one as a Met and one as a Marlin that were each printed at 50% of the print run.  This set currently "books" at $200 as was at about $300 when I first started looking for it.
  • Complete other sets as desired.  This includes the Update and Traded sets from 1981-2002 (of which I have picked up some here and there) and Score (of which I have the 1st 3 and wouldn't mind completing the run if I can find a few more on the cheap).
As you can probably guess I was able to get my hands on a 1998 Upper Deck set within my price range.  I played a little Russian Roulette as I didn't have the funds when I found the listing on eBay. The seller had 3 listed for $75 Buy It Now and I waited until 2 were bought before I pulled the trigger.  For what I believe was $12 shipping, I was able to fill my final Upper Deck set gap for $87.  There are quite a few subsets so I thought I would take you on a tour of the set. I am thinking this is one set most are too familiar with and it will also allow me a chance to dig in and enjoy the set.

Cards 1-8 History in the Making - these cards celebrate the first inter-league regular season games with the front showcasing a star from the game and the back showing the box score and a small summary of the game.

Cards 9-18 Ken Griffey Jr.'s Hot List - I am assuming these are guys that Upper Deck spokesman Ken Griffey Jr. selected as the Hot players (including himself) in the game.

Cards 19-135 Base - These cards are mostly grouped by teams in alphabetical order by city name with each team having 7-8 cards.  This section contains the Angels through the Expos. 

 The fronts contain both portrait and landscape cards with the usual outstanding Upper Deck photography.  On the Pokey Reese card you can see a Debut designation in the upper right corner and the Eddie Murray has a Final Tribute designation.

The portrait cards contain some awesome action as well.  The Craig Biggio has an All-Star logo in the upper right corner.  Looking at these 8 card fronts you can see that some of them have a date and highlight beneath the player name and some do not.

 The card backs also showcase some great photography with both candid and action shots.  Upper Deck includes the full career stats as seen on the Molitor with the font remaining the same size and the photo getting smaller - nice on the eyes.

Cards 136-153 Define: the Game - these cards showcase a number of star players with a quote describing the way they play the game.  The quote starts on the front of the card and ends on the back.  There are photos on both sides and the back contains some statistical comparisons to support the quote.

Cards 154-243 Base - this section finished off the rest of the teams containing the Expos through the Blue Jays.

Cards 244-252 Checklists - Upper Deck pairs their checklist cards with players that have had highlights throughout the season.  The front has a nice big picture of the player with a circle sharing his name and the date of the highlight.  The back describes the accomplishment, has another photo and lists the cards in the set.

Cards 253-288 Star Rookies - this subset bridges Series 1 (1-270) and Series 2 (271-540) with the same card design in both series.  The front photo has a little shine to it.  The back has a sizable write up on the player and a small portrait photo.

Cards 289-360 Base - the Series 2 base follow the same format with teams being arranged by alphabetical team order Angels - Tigers.  I also noticed the introduction of some awards designations like the Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year.

Cards 361-369 History in the Making - more cards celebrating the first inter-league games.  The design is the same as Series 1.

Cards 370-414 Base - more base cards featuring the Tigers - Twins.

Cards 415-432 Postseason Headliners - there are cards here for the deciding game of each of the 1st round match ups then cards for each game in the LCSs and World Series.  The front has a photo of a star player and the back has a short game summary and the box score.
Cards 433-531 Base - Finishing off the Series 2 base with the Twins - Blue Jays.

Cards 532-540 Checklists - Series 2 is finished off with Checklists of the same design as Series 1.

Cards 541-600 Star Rookies - Series 3 starts off with a 60 card run of the Star Rookies in the same design as the prior 2 series.  There are some good names in the group but the best true rookies are of Magglio Ordonez and Gabe Kapler.

Cards 601-630 Eminent - these are the cards that were short printed 1 in every 4 packs.  These are really nice looking cards with black borders and featuring the star players in the game and the subject and rarity help drive up the cost/value of the set.

Cards 631-747 Base - the completion of the base set.  In this series the number of player varies greatly with some teams having 1 card and other going into double digits.  This Series contains the two Mike Piazza cards including the notable Florida Marlins card of the newest Hall of Famer.  The Mets card is numbered 681 and the Marlins 681a.

Cards 747-750 Checklists - the final 3 cards are checklists of the same design for the final series.

There you have it, a tour through the 1998 Upper Deck set.  I have to say it is one of my favorite Upper Deck sets of all time.  It feels great to have the complete run of Upper Deck cards, I miss having them producing baseball sets.  They raised the bar in 1989 and kept raising it throughout the 22 years the put out baseball sets.