Monday, August 3, 2015

Mixed Emotions

Another year has come and gone and the 36th Annual The National Sports Collectors Convention is officially over... and I'm totally envious of the thousands who were fortunate enough to attend.  I have never been to THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH.  And although it's on my bucket list, I'd say that there's maybe a 50/50 chance that I'll actually go during my lifetime.

The fact is... it's way too expensive for this particular collector.  I considered flying out to Chicago this year, since my summer school session ended earlier than normal.

But here's a breakdown of my expenses if I had left Thursday morning and flew back after the show on Saturday:

Flight:  $600 (Roundtrip from San Jose to Chicago)
Hotel:  $140 ($70/night @ Motel 6)
Show Admission:  $54 ($18/day Prepaid Admission)
Food:  $100 (Fast Food Diet Plan)
Travel:  $40 (Taxi Cab Fare)

These prices were based on the most cost effective prices out there when I started researching this trip back in June.  Remember... I live on a teacher's salary and I pride myself on being a bargain hunter who enjoys digging through dime boxes and wandering around flea markets on weekends.  With that being said, the little journey projected to cost a little over $900 and thad didn't include any spending money.

Now depending on the individual... that could be a considered a bargain, a fair price, outside of a person's budget, or somewhere in between.  For me... it's somewhere between a fair price and outside of my budget.

Could I afford to go?  Yeah.  Back in June (or was it May?), I set up at the flea market and brought home $1,350.  That's not a typo.  $1,050 of that came from two sales.  A road bike I sold for $900 and a stroller that fetched me $150.  Both of these items were given to me by a friend, who was planning on donating them to Goodwill, so I offered to take them off her hands.

Anyways... the point is, I had the extra money.

But to be honest... attending The National wouldn't exactly have been the best use of my money, which is why I decided to forgo the cardboard camaraderie and cool memories.  Instead... I chose to live vicariously through the YouTubers and bloggers who attended.

It was the cheaper and wiser alternative.  And with the extra money I was able to purchase a few nice additions to my collection:

1995 Upper Deck Autograph #AC2

I have always wanted an autographed card of Willie Mays and this is one of the most affordable options out there.  It's the fourth card I've acquired from this five card set.  I also have the Reggie Jackson, Frank Robinson, and Roger Clemens:

One of these days, I'll complete the set with the Raul Mondesi.  Unfortunately I haven't found a reasonably priced copy... yet.

Next up is another Bay Area fan favorite...

2013 Five Star Autographs #BP

It's not what you think.  I haven't suddenly jumped on the bandwagon and become a San Francisco Giants fan.  I just happen to really love this autograph set and Posey is one of the short printed autographs in the set.

2007 UD Masterpieces Box Topper Autograph #MP2

It's big.  It's beautiful.  It's on-card.  And it's finally mine.  UD Masterpieces is arguably one the greatest sets in the past decade and I've wanted one of these box topper autographs for a while now.

Don't worry, I happened to have an extra 5x7 toploader laying around so storage isn't too big of a concern.

And finally, The Great One...

1996-97 SPx #GS1

This is one of those cards, I never thought I'd actually own.  When this card was released, I was making less than $10/hour working at a preschool and these cards were commanding top dollar.  Two decades later... it's one of the most affordable, hard-signed, pack pulled autographs you'll find of Wayne Gretzky.

Well that's it for now.  I hope all of you who attended had a lot of fun.  Like I mentioned earlier... I'm very jealous.  Maybe one of these days I'll end up fulfilling my dream of attending.  On the other hand... maybe I won't.  We'll just have to see which path the Cardboard Gods lead me down.

Happy Monday and sayonara!

Extra Innings

Oh... one more thing.  Congratulations JediJeff... you won the 1987 Leaf Special Olympics set.  I'll add it to your care package that I'll be shipping out in the near future.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The First Time

My memory sucks.  You'd think that I'd be able to remember key moments in my life.  You know... like the first time I ripped open a pack of cards.  Or the first time I drove a car.  Heck... I can't even remember the first time I kissed a girl.  Those are all things I should remember... but I can't.

Thankfully... I have this blog to help me remember things down the road.

Like watching my first Ronda Rousey fight last night.  Well... let me clarify.  It's the first time I've seen her fight live and thank goodness I didn't have to pay for the event, because she beat down Bethe Correia and knocked her out thirty-four seconds into the fight.  It's like watching Mike Tyson in his prime.

Anyways... last Christmas I received a few Barnes & Nobles gift cards from my students and discovered that they sell signed copies of books.  I was pumped to see that Rousey was going to release her new book this year, so I used the money and ordered a copy for my collection.

Her book titled My Fight/Your Fight came out in May and arrived a few weeks later.  She signed the book in red Sharpie and it looks amazing.

While I'm on the topic of firsts... back in June I sat down at a restaurant and ate by myself for the first time.  Now I'm sure I ate at the cafeteria at De Anza or SJSU by myself... and there's even a chance I've gone to McDonalds and grabbed a Big Mac by myself.  But I think I've always been self-conscious and never wanted to sit in a restaurant alone.

However that all changed when I went to a Hawaiian restaurant called Hukilau in San Jose's Japantown.  I was going to meet a fellow sports card collector about some supplies he had offered me and I arrived about forty-five minutes early, so I sat down at the bar and ordered a bowl of saimin:

I guess I wasn't completely alone... since Tony was there to witness me scarfing down those delicious noodles.  After dinner, I drove over to the nearby grocery store and met Peter, who's collects a lot of vintage stuff.  He found me on my blog and offered to donate a ton of extra supplies he had sitting around:

In addition to the nine shoeboxes filled with toploaders and screwdowns, he also gave me some Corinthian Headliners and comic trading card sets from the 90's:

It's the first time I've seen four of the sets shown above.  The only one I've actually opened packs of is the Spider-man set on the right.

Thank you so much Peter!  I'm sorry it took me so long to write up this post.  I hope you and your friend had fun at The National.  Don't forget that I still owe you dinner for this generous donation.

Happy Sunday and sayonara!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Do You Remember?

In terms of sports, the past 12 months have left a pretty sour taste in my mouth.  I watched my Oakland A's go from being the best team in baseball... into one of the worst.  My beloved Padres made huge moves in the offseason, but haven't lived up to expectations.  My Green Bay Packers choked big time to my other favorite team... the Seattle Seahawks.  And they turned around and made the worst decision in Super Bowl history.  Then there's my San Jose Sharks... who proceeded to miss the playoffs for the first time in eleven years.

Thankfully we have the ability to look back and reminisce over positive sports memories to help wash that sour taste in our mouths.

Do you remember the time when Jeff Friesen and Owen Nolan both scored hat tricks against the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2nd game of the 1999-00 season?

1994-95 Upper Deck #237

Do you remember when Dan Boyle was traded to the Sharks right before the 2008-09 season and went on to lead the Sharks' defensemen four straight seasons in points?

2013-14 Panini Prizm Refractor #176

Do you remember the time when I took my nephew to a game and we witnessed Devin Setoguchi (one of my all-time favorite players) score two goals?

2010-11 Upper Deck #37

Do you remember when Logan Couture scored 32 goals in his first full season with the Sharks and was a Calder Trophy candidate?

2013-14 Panini Prizm Pivotal Players

Do you remember when Teemu Selanne became a San Jose Shark and led the team in goals scored during his two full seasons in San Jose?

2002-03 Pacific Quest for the Cup Chasing the Cup #15

Do you remember the time when Coco Crisp robbed Prince Fielder of a home run in the 3rd game of the 2012 American League Division Series?

2013 Topps Gypsy Queen Glove Stories #GS-CC

If you don't remember... then here's your chance to relive it:

Do you remember the time when Chase Headley led the National League in RBI's and was unanimously voted the San Diego Padres Player of the Year back in 2012?

2015 Panini Donruss Jersey Kings #12

Damn those were good times.  There's nothing like looking back on positive events to brighten up those darker times in our lives.

Thank you JediJeff (author of 2x3 Heroes) for all of the amazing cards featured in this post.  I honestly hadn't given the San Jose Sharks much thought these past few months, but your two PWE's have motivated me to look forward to the upcoming season.  Go Sharks!

Happy Saturday and sayonara!  Now take it away, Michael:

Friday, July 31, 2015

A Cool Experiment

Imagine buying up as many copies of a single card in hopes that it would artificially inflate its value.  That's what this one guy did with the 1992 Game Boy version of Rampart and it totally worked.  See for yourself:

While watching this video, it brought back memories of the 1995-96 Finest Gold Refractor of Jaromir Jagr.  A gentleman named Patrick Englert attempted to purchase all 150 copies that Topps claimed to produce.  He ended with 159 and eventually sued Topps for $177,000 back in 2003.  But that's another story.

I always wondered how much Englert's project drove up prices for the rare Jagr refractor.  There had to be at least a handful of collectors who were trying to build that set (including myself).  Plus what about all of the Jagr and/or Pittsburgh Penguins fans out there who wanted a copy for their collection.

I thought that was a pretty cool experiment by the "Rampart" guy and it looks like it has paid off for him.

Maybe I'll try it by cornering the market on this 2010 SPx Tyson Alualu:

I mean... there are only 139 other copies out there.  That's definitely doable.  It just might prove a little challenging, because I'd have to compete with his fans from his home state (Hawaii), plus UC Berkeley followers, and of course the plethora of Jacksonville Jaguar fans out there.

Maybe I'll hunt down the remaining 474 copies of this 2013 SPx autographed rookie card of former Green Bay Packer... Jonathan Franklin:

They're fairly affordable and can usually be purchased for under $5 on eBay.  Unfortunately... even if I could track down all of the other cards in the run, the project would cost me a fortune due to sheer bulk.

My best bet would probably be to go after the 2013 SPx Winning Big Materials patch card of former UC Berkeley wide receiver... Keenan Allen:

Right now I officially have 10% of the population.  How hard could it possibly be to obtain the remaining 90%?  The biggest problem is that Allen has actually had a pretty productive career down in San Diego.

Oh well.  I'm beginning to think that this experiment isn't for me, because it's bringing back memories of when I was busting packs of 1987 Topps baseball.

Back then I was just making the transition from collector to investor and I literally spent all of my money on boxes of this stuff.  I must of had ten to twenty-five copies of this Mark McGwire and in my own deranged way of thinking... I probably thought I had the market cornered on all of the hot cards from this set.

In reality... there are probably hundreds of thousands of these McGwires floating around the world.  But how many are showing on the top of sealed cello packs?

Well since these weren't serial numbered... we'll never know.  But thanks to Dennis over at Too Many Verlanders... I now own one.  In fact Dennis was kind enough to send me all of the cards in this post.

The final card in his care package is this 2003 Sweet Spot Patch of Barry Zito:

It sure is a cool looking card.  But it's so thick that if I decided to corner the market with this card... I'd literally have to find a new place to live.  I just don't have the room for two copies... let alone hundreds.

What about you...

Have you ever experimented with cornering the market on a single card in hopes of driving up its value?

Thanks again Dennis for this awesome care package!  Sorry it took me so long to crack it open.  Now that my summer has officially started... I should have a package in the mail for you within the next week or so.

Happy Friday and sayonara!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Flea Market Finds #89: Dollar Days

When:  Sunday, July 26th
Where:  Capitol Flea Market
What:  Bobble, Bat, and Signed Memorabilia
How Much?:  $13

Purchase #1:  2003 Kids Club Stomper Bobble Belly $1

This is going to sounds crazy, but this just might be my favorite flea market find of 2015.  I have been targeting this bobble belly for a few years now, but they're always so expensive.  Earlier in the week, one that I targeted in my eBay sniper program, closed for $40 (+ $5.95 shipping).

I had entered a maximum bid of $15.05 and obviously fell short of owning it.  But the Bobble Gods were watching down on me and I found one standing on a lady's table for a dollar.  Yep.  A buck.

Thank you Bobble Gods!

Purchase #2:  Uncertified Autographs $2

Flea markets are similar to retail stores in the sense that there are hard working sales people and of course lazy ones.  My favorites are the ones who sing, whistle, or have soothing sayings like "pasale´, pasale´, pasale´", because they provide free entertainment.

One guy was singing "cheap, cheap, cheap... everything one dollar" to the tune of an 80's television show.  So I had no choice but stop and see what he had.  He had a variety of stuff like mugs, CD's, towels, and framed photos.  One of the photographs was this shot of Lawrence Taylor tackling Eric Dickerson:

Upon closer inspection, you can a signature that resembles LT's.  Is it real?  I have no idea, but for a dollar, it was worth the risk.  The guy also had this 49ers frisbee with five signatures on it:

I figured these were real, because there's no reason to forge any of these players' signatures.

If my buddy Mike thinks the LT is legit, then I'll have him submit it to PSA at the next major show.  As for the frisbee... I have a co-worker who gives me a lot of A's stadium giveaways.  She's a huge 49ers fan, so maybe she'll want this for her classroom.  If not, I'm sure one of my students will give it a good home.

Purchase #3:  H&B Grand Slam Bat Ed Mathews Model $5

I love bats.  Not sure why exactly, since they're a pain in the butt to store and display when you live in a 1,300 square foot townhouse.  But I've quietly been building a bat collection.  My first three were autographed by some of my favorite players:  Tony Gwynn, Kurt Suzuki, and Frank Thomas.

But this one isn't autographed and it's not a model of one of my favorite players.  It is however cool looking, so I grabbed it.

I wasn't able to find any information on this specific bat, but I'd guess that it's from the 60's or 70's.  It's obviously not a professional model, however it gives off a vintage feel and will serve as a corner decoration in my office.

It's just a shame that I didn't find it on somebody's dollar table.

Happy Wednesday and sayonara!