Thursday, February 4, 2016

Six Degrees of Separation

Jackie Robinson retired sixteen years before I was born and I was less than two months old when he passed away.  But his legacy is one that I have embraced ever since one of my middle school teachers preached about him during a civil rights unit.

Anyways... I figured it would be fun to read up on #42 and see if I could connect him with my favorite player of all-time... Mr. Anthony Keith Gwynn Sr.

So let's get it started...

1956 Topps #30

On Sunday, September 30th, 1956... Jackie Robinson hit a home run in his final regular season MLB game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

1956 Topps #33

Standing out in right field for the Pirates was a twenty-two year old Puerto Rican by the name of Roberto Clemente.  Two weeks before Robinson passed away, Roberto Clemente played in his final MLB game against the Cincinnati Reds and The Big Red Machine in Game 5 of the 1972 NLCS.

1972 Topps #434

The Reds were down by a run heading into the bottom of the 9th, but Johnny Bench led off the inning with a home run to tie the game.  Later in the inning... they scored another run to end the Pirates' season.

Johnny Bench hit 389 home runs during his seventeen year career.  Twelve of those home runs were hit off of Don Sutton.  And twelve more were hit off of my favorite pitcher growing up... Steve Carlton.  That's the most home runs Lefty gave up to any single batter during his career.

1982 Topps #481

But don't let those twelve home runs give you the wrong idea.  Carlton was one of the best pitchers of his era.  In fact in 1982, he became the first pitcher in MLB history to win four Cy Young Awards.

1995 Topps Cyberstats #158

Thirteen years later... another favorite pitcher of mine... Mr. Greg Maddux became the 2nd guy to win four Cy Young Awards.  Only Maddux accomplished the feat in four consecutive years.

2002 Topps #99

And connecting the last link in this game of Six Degrees of Separation... is my favorite player of all-time.  How are Greg and Tony connected?  Well... they both played for the San Diego Padres... but not at the same time.  They started three MLB All-Star Games together, but that's kind of a stretch.  I'm a huge fan of both of these guys and collect both of these guys' cards... but that's not necessarily a baseball link.

So let's go with this very cool statistic.  The Professor struck out 3,371 batters over his twenty-three season career and faced Mr. Padre one hundred seven times.  Guess how many times Gwynn struck out.  Go ahead.  Guess.  If you said "zero"... pat yourself on the back.

Gwynn collected thirty-nine hits, drew eleven walks, and had a career batting average of .415 against Maddux.  Impressive, no?

Well there you have it.  Jackie Robinson to Tony Gwynn.  It's amazing how much information has been documented on baseball-reference.org.  I had a lot of fun researching this post.  There's just so much interesting baseball trivia out there.  My goal is to turn this into a series, which will give me a chance to show off some cards, while learning a little bit about the sport we all love.


Anyone else up to the challenge?


If so... leave a link to your post down below.  I'd love to read some of the connections you produce and I'm sure others would too.  C'mon... who doesn't love a little Blog-Bat-Around?

Let me guess... you need an incentive.  Okay.  Let's turn this into a contest.

Everyone who participates gets one entry.  If you mention this contest in your post, I'll give you an extra entry.  The prize?  How about a small flat rate shipping box filled with baseball cards and wax packs?  And if we can get 20 participants... I'll award two prizes.

Since a lot of us are on tight schedules... I'll run the contest throughout the month of February.  That gives you guys a little over three weeks to produce a post.

Happy Thursday and sayonara!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Exquisite Error

I miss Upper Deck's presence in the MLB licensed baseball card market.  Topps will always be my goto company, but UD definitely gave them a run for their money during the 90's and 2000's.  Products like UD Decade, Sweet Spot, Ultimate, and Masterpieces are all personal favorites and Exquisite was literally in a league of its own.

Living on a teacher's salary limits my box breaks to low end to middle of the road products at best, so just the idea of purchasing a high-end product like Exquisite is nothing more than a dream.  However hat doesn't keep me from buying singles every now and then.

I recently picked up this 2006 Exquisite Collection card of Jeremy Hermida and the son of my favorite baseball player of all-time:


Normally I wouldn't target Tony Gwynn Jr. unless he was pictured with his father, but take a closer look at his signature:


See anything wrong?  Here.  Take an even closer look:


Can you spot the exquisite error?  This is how Junior normally signs his cards/stickers:

COMC Images*

The Exquisite signature kind of resembles the two examples of Junior, but it's different.  It's actually his father's autograph.  You can compare their signatures here:

COMC Image*

I originally saw the aforementioned card on eBay and was intrigued by its uniqueness, so I headed over to COMC and picked it up for $17.  It's a nice conversation piece and connects father and son.  On the flip side, it definitely highlights another issue with "sticker autographs".  It also brings up the question... why the heck was Upper Deck using sticker autographs in their Exquisite product?  If I was paying several hundred dollars for a pack of cards, I'd be pretty disappointed to find player signed stickers.  I guess I should be grateful that I only paid a fraction of the price.

Today's question of the day...

Anyone else own cards that feature an "error" autograph in their collection?

Back in the late 2000's, some of Jordan Swagerty's Donruss Elite autographs actually featured basketball legend, Magic Johnson:

COMC Image*

I actually don't own this card, nor do I own the other two cards with images I borrowed from COMC. But I might need to go out and track down an affordable copy for my Los Angeles Lakers PC.

Well that's it for today.  Have a great week.  Happy Monday and sayonara!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Hands Down... The Best

For the past two decades, autographs have been one of my favorite things to collect.  It started with products like Be A Player and Signature Rookies, but within a few years I was chasing down any certified pack pulled autograph I could get my hands on.

These days, I've had to scale things down a bit.  I try to focus on specific players and teams, while avoiding "sticker" signatures as much as possible.  Over the past few years, I've added signatures of guys like Hank Aaron, Sandy KoufaxTed Williams, and Willie Mays to my collection.  All four of these old timers have beautiful signatures, but none of them are in the same league as the newest member of my autograph collection:


Have you ever seen such a beautiful signature?  It's hands down the coolest, most awesome autograph in my collection.

Before last night I had no idea who the woman was, but thanks to the internet and The Raz Card Blog, I was able to dig up some information on the signer.  Her name is Kayoko Haruyama and up until a month ago, she was a professional Japanese wrestler.  On December 27th, she wrestled her final two matches and wrapped up an eighteen year career.  During that time she won multiple individual and tag-team championships and according to Wikipedia was a very accomplished wrestler.

This certified on-card autograph is from 2015 BBM True Heart and was sent by Raz last week.  He also sent me the rest of the cards that I needed for my 2014 BBM True Heart set (which by the way was part of a previous Raz care package):


If you're interested in learning more about these cards, I encourage you to head over to The Raz Card Blog.  He has several posts featuring these lovely ladies of wrestling.

Thank you so much Christopher for this awesome care package!  I'll head over to COMC right away and start shopping for your care package items.

Happy Sunday and sayonara!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

My Office vs. Godzilla

My office is trashed.


I've got stacks of cards all over the place.  Packages from Amazon, eBay, subscription boxes, and other online orders are piling up.  And my trash can is overflowing.


It seriously looks like Godzilla and Mothra waged war against each other.  But now that I'm getting back to normal health wise and there aren't any card shows to attend... I can finally spend a day in my office organizing and cleaning.


But before I get to that, I wanted to share a unique oddball set I picked up off of Etsy last summer.  The illustrator emailed me and I was immediately intrigued.





It's called Kaiju (Monster) Baseball and contains forty cards.



There are a total of four teams:  Tokyo Terrors, Kyoto Kaijus, Fuji Fiends, and Matsumoto Mutants.  Each team consists of nine player cards and one team card.  The cards feature beautiful illustrations, have a vintage feel to them, and are essentially what I was drawn to.



On the back you can find cool nicknames and baseball stats for each monster.  Godzilla is nicknamed The Sultan of Smash and rightfully so, because he easily has the best statistics in the set.  There also seems to be a mini game of Rock, Paper, Scissors embedded into the card backs as well.

At the end of the day... after the dust settled and the kaiju were put back into their box... I was very pleased with this set.  It set me back $14 (+ $2.75 shipping), which breaks down to around 42¢ per card.  That's a little more than what I typically spend at card shows, but they're not your everyday common from the Junk Wax Era, so I understand his price point.

I realize that these cards aren't for everyone.  However if you're a fan of Godzilla and his peeps, then you might appreciate them.  Well... enough stalling... I'm off to go clean my office.

Happy Saturday and sayonara!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Lacking Sports Card Self-Discipline

Last Saturday, when I got home from the Serramonte Mall Sports Card, Toys, and Collectibles Show... I came to the realization that I have a serious problem.  I'm unable to walk away from a bargain.

Two weeks ago, I picked up tons of cheap inserts, parallels, rookies, and base cards for my binders at the Sacramento card show.  So my game plan was to stick to quality over quantity this time around.

I failed.


Purchase #1:  A Monster Box Filled with Packs and Singles $58

As soon as I entered the mall, I immediately discovered the COMC guy who had tons of monster boxes filled with cards and wax packs for 10¢ each.  I spent over two hours sifting through his stuff and when I was finished, I had pulled 252 packs, 454 cards, and one box of 1989 Topps Stickers:


The packs ranged from a boatload of 80's Fleer Star Stickers to a small handful of Flintstones trading cards.


I also snagged a box of 1989 Topps Stickers for $2...


Now I just need to find myself an empty yearbook to stick them in.

I have no idea where to begin with the cards.  His boxes were filled with a little bit of everything, but I mainly targeted rookie cards, oddballs, vintage90's inserts, and 80's base cards of baseball hall of famers.

Here's a small sampling...







After sifting and sorting... I discovered that most of the cards I picked up were actually cards I already own, but that's okay.  All of my duplicates will go into care packages.


Card Show Intermission:  Collector Camaraderie

After killing two hours at the dime boxes, I made a trip to my car to lessen the load.  I went back into the mall and began making my rounds.  I ran into Brady (St. Louis Cardinals' Cardboard) and Mr. Haverkamp (cardboard blog supporter) who are regulars to this show.  Mr. H brought some 1956 Topps hall of famers to check out.  Unfortunately I had spent most of my budget by then.  Plus I wanted to make sure both of us did our homework before spending the big bucks.


Brady hooked me up with a fat stack of Montreal Expos, San Diego Padres, Oakland Athletics, and Japanese baseball players.


They ranged for oddballs I've never seen to sweet looking die-cut acetate cards that are super shiny.  Thanks Brady!  I really appreciate everything you gave me.  Hopefully there are a few St. Louis Cardinals that you can use in my package.

Purchase #2:  30¢ Autographs and Some Other Stuff $7


This might be one of my coolest card show purchases in recent years in terms of overall value.  While walking around the show, I passed up several cards I was interested in.  Then I stumbled across a guy with a bunch of toys and a small section of cards.

I was immediately drawn to this:

2014 Topps Opening Day Mascots #M12

Ummm... mascot autograph?  Yes, please!

He also had a team bag laying on his table filled with 1995 Action Packed Hall of Fame autographs:


I haven't been passionate about basketball for a few years, but certified hall of fame autographs for 30¢ each is just way too good of a deal to pass up.

After putting the mascot autograph and basketball autographs into a stack, the vendor came up and told me everything was half off the marked price.  Normally I wouldn't have spent $7 on this gold SPx parallel of Michael, but it's worth $3.50.

1996 SPx Gold #8

The last card I grabbed was an on-card autograph of John Taylor:

1991 Pro Line Portraits Autographs #256

Taylor played his entire career with the San Francisco 49ers and I grew up watching him week in and week out during football season.  He might not be the biggest name, but he's worth a buck.

To be honest, I would have been okay paying the full price of $14 for these thirteen cards.  The fact that it was half off definitely makes it one of my most memorable bargain bin finds.

This card show officially put me in the red in terms of my cardboard budget.  The good news is I just cashed in on my eBay credit card rewards and they're sending me three $100 gift cards.  I really need to restrain myself from spending it all in one month.  Ideally... I'll treat myself to one special card each month.  Or maybe... I'll use the money for something out side of sports memorabilia.  Yeah right.  Who am I kidding?

Happy Wednesday and sayonara!