Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Some Significant 1957 Topps Set Progress

Last week I sold a few thousand baseball cards from a collection I bought a couple years back to a fellow collector.  We met about an hour south of where I live to make the exchange.  I typically have people come my way for a sale (and I expect to travel to the seller when I make a local deal) but I agreed to meet that far away for two reasons, 1) I needed to clear some space in my card room and 2) I am teaching my son to drive and this would get him 2 of his required 50 hours to get his license.

I was a little sad to see these go, there was quite a few good inserts and parallels along with some base cards from the late 70s and early 80s but I was happy to get the cash.  I decided on the ride home that I wanted to flip these cards for something I would enjoy in my collection.  I got home and posted my 1957 Topps want list up on Facebook in hopes of whittling down the want list.  My hope was to secure a nice volume of non-star cards and I had someone reach out to make exactly that happen.

I couldn't believe that I was able to pick up 56 cards of the 407 card set in the condition I am looking for from the same seller.  The cost of these was just over $2/card delivered which I felt was an amazing deal.  Here are all the cards:

I have a couple smaller orders coming in that I will share soon, one of which has some more star power.  Once those come in, this set build that started less than 2 years ago is down to a 68 card want list.  I am progressing much faster than I ever expected.  However I still have some very big hitters to go with a Mickey Mantle, Brooks Robinson, Ted Williams, Roberto Clemente, Sandy Koufax and Yankee Power Hitters (featuring Mantle and Berra) among the cards I need.

Monday, April 27, 2020

McCovey Monday - Magazines

Recently I hatched a plan to expand my Willie McCovey collection by picking up vintage magazines that feature him.  I bought a group of magazines on Facebook Marketplace over a year ago that featured one with Willie Mac on the cover and, while I have done some eBay searches I have yet to pull the trigger on bringing home more but that is about to change.  Here is the one I do have:

This is a Sport Magazine from 1960 and McCovey is one of 6 people they are spotlighting for the season which, at this point, had been underway for about a month.  Stretch had started with a bang winning the ROY award in 1959 despite not playing a full season and there was excitement about what his first full season could bring.

Quite a while back a fellow collector sent me this full page picture that has been pulled from a magazine that I also keep with my collection.  While it isn't a cover, I really enjoy having things like this in my collection as well.

I imagine this is Willie looking back to the umpire after a called strike upset with the call and based on his stature and that stare I suspect he got the next call.

With McCovey being featured on so few new releases and many of the cards I need being rare and/or expensive, I think this is a good way to add to my collection. Plus I have found reading these old magazines is great.  In addition to learning quite a bit, I love the art and style placed into magazine articles from the 60s and 70s.

I think my next step will be to do some searching and try to create a checklist of magazines where McCovey appeared on the cover.  This should help me with some direction and focus.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

The Joy of a Completed Team Set - 2004 UD Vintage

I am up to 36 binders to store my Giants collection and that doesn't count a few boxes with auto and relics in them. Despite having an extensive collection like I have, I still get great joy in completing team sets, particular ones that have been challenging to finish off. 

In 2004 Upper Deck released their 4th and final edition of UD Vintage, printing sets with throwback designs and cardboard stock.  A few years back I set out to complete a bunch of runs of Giants base sets and the 4 years of UD Vintage was part of that quest but I fell 2 cards short.  I had forgotten about that incomplete quest until recently and sought out to finish them up.  I was able to track down the final card from 2004:

This card is part of the 90 card subset that was issued with lenticular technology and features the majors leading sluggers.  These were numbered 351-440.  These were pretty hard to come by with listed odds of 1:12 packs.  I can't imagine trying to put this set together.  This Cruz card was hard to find and set me back about $10 with shipping, worth it to me to finish off the team set.

Here is the Giants' team set in its entirety:

As you can see, the Cruz was one of two Giants in the 3-D Sluggers subset.  Fully absent from this set is Barry Bonds which is odd.  I checked and he is in the Upper Deck base set for the year so I am not sure why he isn't here.

The Giants only had base cards, the two 3D Sluggers cards and one update card.  There were some other subsets. Here is a full breakdown of the 500 card set:
  • There was an initial 450-card set released in hobby boxes 
  • Cards numbered from 1 through 300 were printed in higher quantity than the rest of the set. 
  • In that group of 300 the final three cards feature checklists. 
  • Cards numbered 301 through 315 are Play Ball Preview Cards
  • Cards numbered 316 through 325 are World Series Highlight Cards
  • Cards numbered 326 through 335 were players who were traded during the 2003 season
  • A few leading 2003 rookies were issued as Short Prints between cards 335 and 350
  • As mentioned above, cards 351-440 were issued with lenticular technology and feature 90 of the majors leading sluggers
  • The set concludes with 10 cards made in the style of the 19th century Old Judge cards. Those cards were issued in "Old Judge Packs" which were issued as one per box "boxtoppers"
  • A 50-card Update set of cards 451-500 was issued in factory set format and distributed into one in every 1.5 hobby boxes of 2004 Upper Deck Series 2 
I am down to needing 1 card to finish up the full run, a 2003 Barry Bonds #269 which is also a 3D Sluggers printed with lenticular technology.   I looked at my usual sources, eBay, COMC and Sportlots and couldn't find one for sale however there were two sold fairly recently on eBay for what I would call reasonable prices.  I set up a search in hopes of finishing the full run.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

My Favorite Players of All Time - AL Central Edition

I am trying to find some ways to entertain myself a bit as I blog and enjoy my collection so I thought I would continue my posts where I will declare my favorite all time player for each team in baseball.  Figure it is a good way to think about baseball and dig into my collection to share some cards that probably haven't made their way onto the blog.

I started with the AL East Division.  Next up is the AL Central Division.

Chicago White Sox - Frank Thomas

The Big Hurt, one of the best pure hitters I have ever seen.  I am a pretty big guy and generally relate well to big guys.  While I am not one to hold PED use against players (Bonds and Clemens certainly belong in the HOF) Thomas has never been accused of using anything while playing through the era where upwards of 70% of players were alleged to be juicing.  The guy won 2 MVPs, hit over 40 HRs five times, ended up with 521 tying my favorite player of all time in Willie McCovey and led the league in walks four times.  When I think of the Sox, Frank Thomas instantly comes to mind.

Honorable Mention - Shoeless Joe Jackson, Harold Baines, Mark Buehrle & Carlton Fisk

Cleveland Indians - Kenny Lofton

I had a hard time thinking through the Indians and coming up with a favorite.  There are quite a few guys that I like but nobody rose to the surface initially. Then this card came to mind and to me it fully represents who Kenny Lofton is - hustling, running fast, helmet flying off - plus the rookie cup, and my pick was instantly crystallized.  I remember him coming to the Giants in mid-2002 for virtually nothing and being excited then being disappointed when he left via free agency that winter.  He started with the Astros and hit 8 different teams over 7 years after leaving the Indians but returned for his last few games.  The Indians are where I best remember him and he was a great one.

Honorable Mention -Jim Thome, Bob Feller & Manny Ramirez

Detroit Tigers - Al Kaline

Al Kaline is Mr. Tiger and just recently I got that too often sadness that comes over me when one of the baseball heroes I admire passes.  There are tons of players I like and respect throughout the history of the Tigers, some all time greats, some flashes in the pan but nobody surpasses Kaline - to me he is the best.  He seems to have been highly respected by his peers, I can't recall an article or book that speaks poorly of him and up until his death he turned out awesome autographs for collectors and fans.

Honorable Mention -Ty Cobb, Hank Greenberg, Jack Morris, Chet Lemon & Mark Fidrych

Kansas City Royals - Mike Sweeney

I now live in the KC area and grew up in the late 70s and early to mid-80s when the Royals were at their peak but for some reason a guy playing in between those two eras stands out as my favorite.  I recall Sweeney as being the face of the Royals and as a 5-time All Star on a team with little national exposure a guess he was.  I heard an interview with him later in his career and took a liking, to the point of starting to collect his cards.  I pulled this cool auto of him in his catchers gear (he last caught a game in his 5th season but was primarily known as a first baseman and DH) as one of my almost 200 cards of his to share and for the first time realized they spelled his last name wrong.

Honorable Mention -George Brett, Frank White, Willie Wilson & Salvador Perez

Minnesota Twins - Kirby Puckett

I attended an Oakland A's game with my best friend and his dad during Puckett's rookie season.  I vividly recall my buddies dad yelling out "look at that little pudge run" when he was chasing down a fly ball in center field.  I was instantly impressed with him as a player and followed him from that day until the day he prematurely was forced to retire.  I loved the way he played the game, one of the greats.

Honorable Mention - Rod Carew, Harmon Killebrew, Brad Radke & Tony Oliva

If you missed my AL East edition you can check it out here.

Up next is the AL West.

Friday, April 24, 2020

A New Vintage Set Quest

Yesterday I shared some matchbook covers that I won in an auction recently.  During that same auction I bid on and won some cards from a set I have been thinking about building, 1961 Fleer.  My goal was to finish off my 1960 Fleer set and my 1961 Golden Press set prior to starting this set.  I see these sets in a similar light as smaller sets and somewhat of oddball sets featuring retired baseball greats.  But seeing 3 lots of these cards at a pretty reasonable price made me decide to start putting this set together without finishing the others up.

I picked up 36 total cards and 32 different cards which is more than 20% of the 154 card set.  Not a bad start.  Here are all 36 cards:

 Boy, my photography skills need some work - those are some crooked pictures.  While I generally like some scenery in the background on cards, I am okay with the solid colors, they are bright and make the players stand out.  It will be interesting to see once I get closer to completing the set if there is a pattern to the colors.

Whenever I see these cards I always wonder, "why 5 stars, could it have been 4 or 6 - who made that decision". Silly I guess but it would be great to hear from card designers what went into the decisions.  I really enjoy the variety of players in this set.  There are going to be some tough (expensive) cards in this set build like Babe Ruth and Ted Williams but I don't think it will be crazy expensive.

Here is a look at the card backs:

The trophy surrounding the number is kind of cool.  I really like the write ups and the career stats and everything is pretty easy to read.

I ended up with 4 extras, if anyone is looking for them let me know.  Also, outside of the Giants team set featured here, I don't think I have any more of these in my collection so if you have some available for trade or sale drop me a line.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Unique Oddball NY Giants Pickup

I have spread my wings a bit on where I am seeking out cards these days.  I am not buying many new cards and while I still look frequently at eBay, COMC and Sportlots I am consistently looking for ways to get deals on card and bring unique cards into my collection.  I have shared a couple Facebook pick-ups recently and another source for cards for me have been some online auctions.  I have bid on and won a few things over the last several months. This week I got a small package that included the item I wanted to share today.

This is a 1935-36 Diamond Match matchbook cover of Mark Koenig.  Koenig had a 12 year baseball career and his last 2 years were with the Giants.  He played all over the diamond but was primarily a shortstop throughout his career.  He was a career .279 hitter without much power hitting only 28 HRs in his career with a lifetime .367 slugging percentage.  If you struggle to read upside down, I decided to snap another pic in the other direction:

I also took a picture next to a standard sized card in case you happen to be someone who isn't familiar with matchbooks:

I really enjoy adding items to my Giants collection from their New York days and this item still leaves me short of 20 different cards/items in my collection from the 30s.

I was able to bring this home in a lot of 2 matchbooks for just a $5 bid plus the shipping.  Here is the other matchbook of a more familiar name:

I will probably just hang onto the Ethan Allen matchbook even though it doesn't fit into my core collection, it is a pretty cool item.

If you know of any pre-1950s affordable Giants items to seek out, please let me know.

Monday, April 20, 2020

McCovey Monday and Contest Results

Slacking a bit on my posting after a nice little stretch of posts so I thought I would knock out a quick McCovey Monday post showing my newest addition and share the results of my recent contest.

First up the Willie Mac addition:

What is that, you say?  If you guessed that it isn't a card you are correct.  This is a patch that was used on the sleeves of Giants jerseys last year to memorialize the career of McCovey who passed on Halloween of 2018.  It is pretty small, about 1 3/4" in diameter which is cool because it will fit in a card slot in one of my McCovey binders.  I have been meaning to seek one of these out for some time and glad to have one in my collection.

My goal in having the contest was to drum up some more comments and view.  While that post had more, not sure I am seeing it on other posts but I am surprisingly okay about that.  Some of my satisfaction in the past came from views and comments and while I enjoy getting comments I have found my joy almost solely comes from sharing my thoughts and collection along with documenting my collecting journey.

Now on to the results.  The winner was the person who guessed closest to the exact price I paid for a trio of cards shared in this post.  The amount I paid was $64 delivered so the winner is P-Town Tom of Waiting 'til Next Year who guessed $63.43.  Great guess Tom.  I feel that was a pretty good price and even a better guess. 

Thanks to all who participated in the contest.  Tom I will look to dig up some cards to send you way as a thank you.  Shoot me your mailing address when you have a chance.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Giants In Tiffany

Remember the Tiffany parallel cards that Topps put out?

The first sets were printed in 1984.  They were distributed as complete sets to dealers and were full 792 card parallels printed on a different stock with glossy fronts and white backs.  I read that Topps had a facility in Ireland where they made these, not sure why they couldn't have printed them in the good old USA.

I recently saw a guy on Facebook who had bought a set to crack and keep his team's set and was offering the single cards for sale.  I asked about the Giants knowing I didn't have any 84 Tiffanys in the Giants binder so I asked and fortunately he had the entire team set.  I picked them up for a reasonable price and got them this week.

Here is the Frank Robinson regular and Tiffany card side by side:

The Tiffany is on the right and you can tell by the scan that it is glossier, I do think it is more apparent to the naked eye.  

The differences in the back are much more evident with that sharp white stock.

I realized after I had picked these up that Atlee Hammaker was on the ERA Leaders card so I still need that one to complete the 1984 Tiffany team set.  This also made me wonder how long these sets were made and how many I still needed.

First off, here is the team set (minus the ERA Leaders):

Doing a little research and Topps put out these sets from 1984-1991 for both the flagship and traded sets.  Not all the print runs weren't all reported but rumors are the 1984 set had a print run of 10,000.  I have a pretty solid list of Giants cards during this era, my want list is not too lengthy but I have quite a few needs during this run, even after crossing off most of the 84 set:
  • 1984 Topps Tiffany #137 ERA Leaders Atlee Hammaker/Rick Honeycutt
  • 1984 Topps Traded Tiffany - full team set
  • 1985 Topps Tiffany  full team set
  • 1985 Topps Traded Tiffany - full team set
  • 1986 Topps Tiffany full team set
  • 1986 Topps Traded Tiffany - full team set
  • 1987 Topps Traded Tiffany #129T Matt Williams
  • 1989 Topps Traded Tiffany - full team set
I think it may be time to do some searching and see if I can complete this Giants run.  The only decent Giants rookie cards in this run are the 86 Will Clark traded, 87 Will Clark and 87 Matt Williams traded and I only have the 87 Clark but they shouldn't be too pricey.  Off to Sportlots and eBay I go!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Baseball Book Review - Munson - The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain by Marty Appel

I just finished a baseball book that I thought I would share, Munson - The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain.  It was written by Marty Appel who once worked for the Yankees, was in the TV business and has authored more than 20 books.  Most of his book are baseball related.  He wrote this biography about Thurman Munson in 2009 with quite a bit of the material coming from interviews he did with Munson when co-authoring Munson's autobiography.

This book was solid but not spectacular in my view.  The first part of the book chronicling Munson's youth and even into his first few years with the Yankees was pretty standard fare for a baseball biography.  Appel clearly was close to Munson and was even part of the story for a while as he was working for the Yankees front office then collaborating on the autobiography.  If I am being honest, this book has been sitting on my nightstand for almost a year as I slowly read through the book before going to sleep at night. 

The book really picked up right before Munson's death, probably the last 150 pages or so of the 355 page book.   I found the most powerful and interesting part of the book was a transcription of an interview with one of the two men who were on the plane with Munson and survived when it crashed.  Amazing to hear a first hand account of what happened.

While I knew a decent amount about his playing career and knew he had died in a crash when he was piloting a plane, I did learn a ton of details surrounding his captaincy with the Yankees, the impact his death had on the team and baseball along with way more information about his death than I even knew before.  One thing that I find interesting is how his teammates and those he played against figured he was a lock for the Hall of Fame and some even suggested waiving the 5 year waiting period as was done for Roberto Clemente.  Now, 40+ years later he still isn't in the HOF.

If you don't know many details about Thurman Munson and have a level of curiosity, I would recommend the book. I do think the second half's content makes up for what I found as a somewhat boring first half.  As a baseball fan I am happy I persevered and made it though this book.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

1960 Topps 49ers Team Set

If you are interested, I am still running a contest until the end of the week, you can find it here.  There have been a couple close guesses but nobody has hit is spot on yet.

Fairly recently I decided to expand my 49er collection.  I had been focusing on vintage sets from the 1950s-1970s and decided to go after the Topps base sets through 2015.   While I have picked up some cards in the newer range, I want to continue to work on those vintage sets as well.  I was down to 1 card for the 1960 Topps set and set up a search with notifications on eBay to track down the last card.

I was able to find a copy in reasonably good condition (good enough for my collection) and add it to my collection and thought I would share it and the entire team set.

First off, here is the last card of HOFer Y.A. Tittle:

As you can see this card has a crease near his left elbow.  I will say that it is much less visible to the naked eye.  Regardless a crease like that doesn't even go through to the back fits nicely with the other cards this old in my collection.  For the price discount over a NM or graded card, I will gladly take a small crease.

As I tend to do when I finish a vintage team set, how about I show the entire set together:

The team set is only 10 cards strong with 9 players and a team card/checklist.  This half of the team set features 3 total HOFers with Perry and McElhenny sitting along side Tittle in Canton.  This design isn't my favorite but it isn't too bad.  The name, team and position are all enclosed in a colorful football shape in the bottom right hand corner.  I don't have any other 1960 cards so I am not sure if there is any theme to the colors.  Seven of the Niners nine players have the blue football with white letters, the Tittle and Wilson are the outliers.

Here is a look at the backs.  As you can see, the cards of each team are numbered consecutively with Tittle being the first.  The green backs with the white letters make these easy to read.  Each player has a year of stats along with the lifetime stats.  A couple of the Footballs Funnies appear to have been scratched but are tough to read.  I wonder if the status of the scratching impacts the grade of a card when sent in for grading?

Here are the final four players along with the team card and we see two more HOFers in St. Clair and Nomellini.  Pretty impressive to have a team with five of nine featured in the team set being HOFers.  In both 1959 and 1960 the team finished with a 7-5 record in the NFL West Division, once finishing 3rd, the other year 2nd.  Might have thought for a better result with a semi-stacked team.

Here are the final backs and as you can see the team cards is also a checklist.  While it has the 49ers on here, the checklist features other teams as well.  Looks like these teams have between 8-10 players featured.

Overall a pretty solid team set and it is nice to have one finished that is this old.  I have a few to catch up on that I have finished but still quite a few I am working on.  If interested in checking out some completed team sets, click on the Vintage 49ers tag.

Monday, April 13, 2020

McCovey Monday - 2020 Topps Heritage Greatest Moment and 1971 Topps Greatest Moments

I haven't done a McCovey Monday in a while and I think the last one I did was numbered 100.  I made the decision to stop numbering these posts to make my life a bit easier.  I also am dumping my into, if you want to know why I have a McCovey Monday after this one, you can look back in the archives.  He was my favorite player and I have a pretty solid collection of his cards I like to showcase.

Today I am showing my first, and to date only, pick-up of 2020.  He has a couple coin and stamp cards in 2020 Heritage in addition to this card but I have realized those go for way too much each year from those crazy Heritage set collectors.  I am glad to have this one as it is pretty cool and a nice throwback.

This is an oversized box topper out of 2020 Topps Heritage and is a throwback to similar cards put out in 1971 by Topps.  This one highlights a 9th inning grand slam by Willie McCovey to help lead the Giants to a comeback win against the Pirates in July 1971.  Cool card and very happy Willie was featured in this set.

It would have been criminal to not include him since he was also in the original product:

Here is the original card, it compares fairly well to the Heritage card put out this year.  For whatever reason they changed the colors of the circle around his head on the left and his name right below.  The font of his name is a little off but pretty close.  The biggest puzzle to me is why they changed it from Baseball's Greatest Moments to The Game's Greatest Moments - no idea why that was done.  The 1971 version features his famous first game heroics against fellow HOFer Robin Roberts.

I am glad to be able to add a Willie to the collection in 2020.  I am hoping he shows up again in Archives and Ginter this year so I can continue to add new cards - the older cards I need are typically low numbered or hard to find.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Some More Marvel Additions

Last year I decided to start a new collection of comic books.  I enjoy super hero movies but never was a big reader of comics.  However I saw someone who decided to collect the Marvel comics from the month and year of their birth and thought that would be a great idea to dabble in comics.

Back in September, I shared my first 4 comics of the collection.  I added a couple during my blogging hiatus but this collection took a bit of a back seat until recently.  I decided to do some searching and quickly found this Captain America comic on eBay at what I thought was a solid price:

In this issue the Captain partners with The Falcon and I enjoy this artwork quite a bit.  Captain America looks to be in a pretty perilous situation but I suspect as I dive into this comic he will find his way out.

The shipping was a little pricey so I decided to see if this seller had any other of my needs at a good price and I was pleasantly surprised:

I can't say I am knowledgeable about the Inhumans but the Black Widow is quite familiar. I am looking forward to her movie which I believe will be an origin story.  The cover makes it seem like there may be two different stories going on, I guess I will find out soon.

I kept looking and found another:

This is a comic I am not familiar with, Creatures on the Loose!.  The Skull of Silence sounds like a formidable opponent.  This was the priciest comic of the lot but it was half of the price listed on this sleeve.

The luck continued as I searched the inventory:

Sgt. Fury sounds familiar but I don't know anything about His Howling Commandos.  One cool thing about this new collection is learning about new characters.

I was able to identify one more comic from this seller and it is a very familiar subject:

I am a big fan of the Fantastic Four.  I seem to remember a TV show with them when I was a kid and recall reading a couple of their comics.  I suspect this adventure against Megaman will be the first one I dive into.

This collection will end up running 22 comics deep and I feel pretty fortunate to have tracked down 5 from the best seller.  This purchase gets me over the half way point with 12 of the comics.  I set up some eBay saved searches to see if I can knock off some more.  I have already made a list of the DC comics from my birth month.  It is a much more diverse list of comics and longer at 47 comics.  I think I will focus on the Marvels for the time being then decide if I want to expand the collection.

Any of you have collections outside of the world of sports?