30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Jumping on the Bandwagon

When it comes to baseball, most of us weren't amused by the 1994-95 MLB strike.  I was pretty devastated, because my favorite player was flirting with .400 about a third of the way through August.  Odds are he wouldn't have accomplished the feat, but we'll never know thanks to a bunch of rich people not being able to see eye to eye.

The Oakland A's and San Diego Padres didn't help turn my frown upside down either.  Neither performed well when play resumed.  Sure Gwynn started off the 1995 season where he left off... with a 12 game hitting streak and a batting average well above the .400 mark.  But neither team was really considered playoff bound by the start of June.

Thankfully there was this rookie pitcher imported from Japan setting the league ablaze named Hideo Nomo.  Okay there was also the whole Iron Man streak, but for the sake of today's post I'm going to focus on The Tornado.

At the time, I hadn't really gotten in touch with my Japanese heritage obsession.  However that didn't stop me from jumping on the Nomo bandwagon.

1995 Skybox Emotion #144

At the time I was in the process of getting my teaching credential at San Jose State University and sometimes I'd walk over to a card shop about two blocks away from campus.  This wasn't your typical 90's LCS.  It was super tiny with only one long or maybe two small display cases.  They didn't really have a lot of singles.  Their focus was selling overpriced packs and snacks.

But when you're addicted to sports cards, you're willing to overpay if you need a fix.  One day, I purchased a pack of Skybox Emotion and was pretty stoked to pull Nomo's rookie card.  I'm sure I pulled a few of his other rookie cards that year, but this was one of those rare occasions where I actually remember pulling a specific card.

A few years later, I sold off the bulk of my collection and any Nomo I owned went with it.  Since I returned to the hobby in 2008, I've built up a decent collection of his memorabilia including that Emotion rookie card.

Most of my Nomo collection was purchased between 2010 and 2013.  According to my eBay and COMC records, I didn't purchase any of his cards in 2017.

With that being said, I did receive a very generous care package from Dennis over at Too Many Verlanders that included this bobble head of Mr. Nomo:

2002 Los Angeles Dodgers SGA Bobblehead (8/24/02)

And this super cool die-cut insert:

1998 Paramount Special Delivery #10

When it comes to edges, it doesn't get anymore die-cut than this.  Pacific inserted these in 1 out of every 37 Paramount packs, which almost breaks down to one per box.  Although this insert set isn't considered rare, it'd be a challenge to build since there are twenty cards in the set.

Rounding out this Nomomania care package were these two Hideo Nomo Becketts:

I really miss the simplicity of the early to mid 90's Beckett covers.  The issue on the left is from November of 1995 and is truly something to see when shown in its entirety:

The Becketts didn't stop there.  He also sent these which feature other Japanese imports:

Plus these Oakland Athletic covers:

And a few Sports Illustrated issues as well:

Last... but certainly not least... Dennis wrapped things up with this Tony Gwynn jersey card:

2001 Upper Deck All-Star Heroes #ASH-TG

Although this blog post focused on Hideo Nomo, I am always excited to add a new Gwynn card to my collection.

Thank you Dennis for this very generous (and super heavy) care package.  I've been having a lot of fun flipping through all of these Becketts.  The 90's issues have taken me down Memory Lane, while the early 2000's issues have been helping me fill a hobby void created when I took a break from the hobby.

Happy Saturday and sayonara!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Gift That Kept On Giving

Whenever you hear about the benefits of being a teacher, the typical response involves making a difference in students' lives, the summer break, or possibly the healthcare benefits.  But there are four times a year that I'm reminded of another perk: gift cards.

It starts in June when my 8th graders move on to high school and a few show their appreciation with them.  Then at the end of July, there are always a handful of my 5th grade summer school kids who hook it up.  In September, I receive anywhere from 1 to 7 gift cards for my birthday.  But the big haul obviously takes place in December during the holiday season.

My students constantly see me drinking coffee, so a large percentage of the gift cards are for Starbucks.  This leads to me buying more Starbucks.  Which leads to more Starbucks gift cards.  It's a vicious cycle.  I'm not complaining though.  I really can't function without my caffeine boost in the morning.  

Sometimes I hit the jackpot and receive a Target gift card.  It's hands down my favorite place to shop.  Seriously... the store has just about every possible thing you could imagine.

Well everything except for 2017 Topps blasters.

Thanks a lot Aaron Judge!  You single handedly helped boost our hobby's popularity in 2017 and because of that, I don't recall seeing a single Heritage, Bowman, Ginter, Gallery (yeah, I know these were a Walmart exclusive), or Stadium Club blaster in my area in 2017.  And even the handful of flagship and Topps Bunt blasters I saw dried up must faster than normal.

So when I walked through the doors of my favorite store this past Sunday, I wasn't expecting much.  In fact, I almost didn't bother checking the card aisle.  But luckily I did, because I discovered the one thing I really, really wanted:  a 2017 Topps factory set.

I wasn't looking for just any factory set.  I wanted the one with the Derek Jeter relic card and to my surprise there were six or seven of them sitting on the top shelf of their trading card display.

2017 Topps Jeter Reprint Relic #DJ-93

Topps produced five different Jeter reprint relic cards available only at Target in specially marked boxes.  I saw the rookie card relic back in August when I visited my parents, but don't think I've seen one since.  I guess it was my lucky day, because there was only one left.

Normally, I'd never even think about dropping $59.99 for a factory set.  But thanks to my current and former students, I didn't have to.

In addition to the Jeter relic, there was also a pack of 5 rookie image variation cards:

After comparing the two Judges, the card backs seem identical.  But if you look closely under the card number, you'll notice the words "complete set".  The regular card says the series number.

This set turned out to be the gift that kept on giving, because I was quickly reminded that Topps never collates their cards in their factory sets.

So Monday morning,  I woke up and sorted the cards into stacks of hundreds, then tens, and about an hour later, I had a complete Series 1 and 2 baseball card set ready to be put into a binder... one day.

By the way, I didn't walk away with just this set.  I also consolidated the stack of gift cards onto one gift card.  So in addition to the factory set, I walked away with a $100 gift card plus I still had one of the original gift cards still sitting in my wallet. 

So bring it on Topps.  If I stumble across any of your 2018 Stadium Club or Archives blasters at my local Target... I'll be ready for you.

Okay... it's your turn.

If you could have a gift card (let's say $25), where would you want it from?  What would you buy?

By the way, I also received two Amazon gift cards for Christmas (+ one that I received from a summer school student).  It wasn't easy, but I miraculously found a way to spend all three of them on another Topps factory baseball set.  However, I won't spoil the surprise until I actually have it in my possession.

Until then... happy Wednesday and sayonara!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Our Community is a Great Example

The past year has truly opened my eyes to a lot of things involving gender and cultural equality, politics, social justice, and the fact that we really haven't progressed as far as I once thought in these areas.

Apple Think Different Poster (1990's)

However I have hope that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream will one day come true, because I witnessed first hand that people can hang out, work, and live together in relative harmony.

My Classroom

I was fortunate to grow up in a community filled with people from different ethnic backgrounds.  Was it perfect?  Of course not, but the vast majority accepted each other.  And I've witness people coming together to support each other much more often than the other way around.

I am also blessed to have family members, friends, co-workers, and students that span almost every ethnicity imaginable.  This experience has helped me have a deeper appreciation for other cultures.

This includes our amazing sports card blogging community.  We come from all over the world to write and read about a common interest.  On a daily basis we're able to read blog posts recapping generous care packages.  We can read comments offering condolences for the loss of loved ones or congratulations on new additions to families.

Over the past eight years, I've published over 1,600 posts and I can't remember a single offensive comment left on my blog, nor do I remember reading any racist comments on the blogs I'm subscribed to.

The beautiful thing is we find a way to keep things positive among us, even though we don't always agree.  We might argue over who should and shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame.  Our favorite sports teams might battle each other.  Heck we might even talk a little smack.  We collect different things and it's safe to say that there aren't two collections out there that are exactly alike.  But at the end of the day, we accept and respect each others' differences.

Now don't get me wrong.  I realize that our cardboard community is only a small sample size in regards to our country or planet.  But it's a start in the right direction.

Happy Birthday Martin Luther King Jr.!  Happy Monday and sayonara!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Embracing My Heritage

I've made my fair share of mistakes in life.  I mean, who hasn't?  But in hindsight, there aren't a lot of life-altering regrets.  Sure... I could nitpick and say I regret buying a bunch of Mike Greenwell rookie cards or tell you about how I regret not studying harder in middle school.  But honestly... those are just things I have accepted as part of life.  We live and learn.

One thing I would probably change is embracing my Japanese heritage much earlier in life.  Hopefully this doesn't offend anyone, but my family called me a "banana" for years because I was yellow on the outside and white on the inside.  I didn't start going out of my way to learn about the Japanese culture until my 30's.  I'm really glad I did though, because it eventually led to my interest in Japanese trading cards.

Last month, Ryan who runs the blogJapanese Sumo Wrestling Cards and Menko, sent me a flat rate box for the holidays.  Inside was this HUGE addition to my Japanese PC:

I didn't have to be in touch with my Japanese heritage to know who is featured on this beautiful vintage baseball card.  That's Sadaharu Oh!  He's one of the greatest Japanese baseball players of all-time and is best known for hitting 868 home runs.

Of course, I wanted to know more about this card, so I searched Google images and eventually found a post written by The Commish which informed me that this card is a 1973 Menko.

Ryan included this really cool, vintage sumo card album:



Inside of the album were these four trading cards:

Just like the Oh, I had no idea what these were.  However last year, I purchased the greatest, most informative book on Japanese sumo wrestling cards around:

His book helped me identify the four sumo cards.  Here's the excerpt from the book:

Looks like Topps wasn't the only card company to produce minis in 1975.  As you can see, Ryan includes a checklist and an informative writeup that discusses the history behind the set.  This book is truly amazing.  There are hundreds of sets listed and thousands of color photos.  If you are interested in purchasing a copy, click here.  I promise you won't be disappointed.

One vintage Japanese card I wasn't able to identify was this:

I'm pretty sure it's a Menko, but I don't recognize the wrestler.  I also assume that he's not a sumo wrestler, which is why I didn't bother to look for this card in Ryan's book.  Any ideas?  Anyone?

If the vintage, Japanese cards weren't enough... he also sent me a nice stack of packs.  Some were unopened.  Others were packs he had opened and reviewed on his blog and at A Pack to Be Named Later.

Here's a rundown of the opened packs:

2017 BBM Infinity

1997 Bandai K-1 Round One

2016 BBM Masterpiece

1998 Bandai WCW/NWO

1997 BBM Sparkling Fighters

Last year, Ryan moved to Germany and has already started to familiarize himself with their trading cards.  Here's a pack of 2017 Topps Star Wars Rogue One (Germany Edition) cards:

Anyone who truly knows me, knows that I love anything Star Wars related... so these are really cool additions to the collection.

Before I wrap things up with the remaining German trading cards, I wanted to show off these delicious treats he included in the box:

These aren't you everyday, run-of-the-mill chocolate covered cookies.  I was blown away by the quality of chocolate used.  I'm kind of a chocolate snob and this was some of the creamiest chocolate I've eaten in awhile.

Okay.  Now for the grand finale.  Last August, showed off his Neil Armstrong rookie card from the 1967 Heinerle set.  I was super excited to see that he donated a few duplicates to my collection:

One card really stood out:

1967 Henerle #110

I'm sure a lot of you saw Billy's favorite non-sports cards last week.  One of these days, I am going to borrow his idea and make my own list.  When I do, this card will definitely be featured.  Here's a closer look:

If you're not familiar with this famous photo, it was taken on August 23rd, 1966 from the Lunar Orbiter and depicts the first photo of Earth from the moon's orbit.  Is that a beautiful sight or what?

Thank you Ryan for the delicious treats and awesome trading cards!  I guess I need to start tracking down some Yuta and Lairds for your collection.

Happy Sunday and sayonara!