30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Bargain Priced Excitement

Like many of you, I acquire new cards in a variety of ways.  Random wax packs.  4 Sharp Corners.  Card shows.  Flea markets.  COMC.  The occasional blaster box.  DA Card World.  Care packages from fellow blogger.  Sportlots.

But without a doubt, eBay is my primary source of cardboard... especially in regards to the money I set aside for my hobby budget.  I've never actually sat down and calculated anything, but I'd guess that 70 to 85% of my monthly budget is spent on eBay.

Some months are worse than others... depending on the deals I find and whether or not eBay offers special promotions.

A while back, eBay was offering up 15 to 20% coupons and 8 to 10x eBay Buck bonuses on a weekly basis.  I took advantage of those deals and ended up with a $38.90 eBay Buck certificate.

I wanted to apply the certificate towards one key addition to my collection, so I targeted the T206 Chief Bender.  Unfortunately nobody accepted my best offers and I kept getting outbid on auctions.  Plus time was starting to run out.  The certificate was set to expire on May 2nd, which meant I had less than a week left.

I widened my eBay searches and eventually found this auction a few hours before it was set to end:

The current bid was less than $30, so I added it to my watch list and set an alarm on my phone.  With only a few seconds left, I entered in a bid and was shocked to see that I won the auction for less than $50.

Now I'm not exactly a Barry Bonds card collecting connoisseur, but I have been targeting his autographs when the price is right.

Certified packed-pulled autographs typically sell in the $70 to $85 price range.  $60 would be considered a really good deal.  $48.10 (+ $3.15 shipping)?  That's an awesome deal!

When you factor in my eBay Buck certificate, I only had to pull $12.35 out of my pocket for this 1999 Topps Autograph of one of the most hated men in baseball who just so happens to also be the all-time home run king:

1999 Topps Autographs #A10

This on-card signature was from an era when most autographs were still pretty tough pulls.  Sure you had products like SP Signature and Donruss Signature that offered one autograph per pack, but those were exceptions to the rule.

In 1999... Topps created a 16 card autograph set that was split into two series.  The first eight cards were inserted into Series 1 packs at a rate of one per 532 hobby packs.  This Bonds was part of the second series cards which were a little easier to pull: one per 501 hobby packs.  That's about one per 14 hobby boxes.

The back of the card points out that Bonds was the only baseball player to hit 400 home runs and steal 400 bases.

Nineteen years later, he's still the only member of that club.  In fact he finished his career with 762 home runs and 514 stolen bases, which obviously makes him the sole member of the 500/500 Club to boot.

I realize this guy isn't going to win a lot of popularity contests, but he was one of the most entertaining baseball players I've ever had the chance to watch and I'm not just talking about his 73 home run season.  Whenever he entered the batter's box, he gave baseball fans a show.

And just in case some of you forgot... he was pretty good defensively too.  Just continue reading the back of this card where it mentions his eight Gold Glove Awards.

Okay... it's time to wrap things up.  Here are today's questions of the day:

What is your primary source of sports cards?

Who is the most exciting athlete you've ever watched in person?

Happy Sunday and sayonara!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

One More Team

I've been really on this "create a team" kick that Kenny started about a month ago.  I've already built five autograph teams... and I'll have at least one more volume within a week or two.

Until then, here's another team I built.  Except this time I'll be using cards from Johnny's Christmas in May care package instead of autographs.

As you can see from this photo, he sent four generous blocks of cards.  I didn't actually take the time to count them, but I'm guessing there was about 250 to 350 cards in all.  There was a great mixture of 80's, 90's, 00's, and even some cards from the past few years.

I carefully sifted through the four bricks and designed a solid lineup that is filled with some pretty big names in Oakland Athletics history.  So without further adieu... I give you the Christmas in July Athletics:

Leadoff Hitter:  Tim Raines (Left Field)

1999 Paramount #173

Growing up watching Rickey Henderson... it's sometimes easy to forget that Tim Raines was the second greatest leadoff hitter of his era.

Batting 2nd: Johnny Damon (Center Fielder)

2002 Fleer Maximum #69

I'm not the biggest Damon fan... but I do remember his ability to steal bases and drive in runs.  He'd do fine in the two-hole.

Batting 3rd: Miguel Tejada (Shortstop)

2002 Fleer Premium #102

Tejada was part of the Oakland Athletics Moneyball era... and boy could he hit with the best of them. He'll do fine hitting third in the lineup.

Cleanup Hitter:  Khris Davis (Designated Hitter)

2016 Heritage High Number #622

When you have the nickname Khrush, you bat fourth.

Batting 5th:  Matt Olson (First Baseman)

2018 Heritage #318

Olson has batted behind Davis most of this season.  He'll continue in my lineup as well.

Batting 6th:  Eric Chavez (Third Baseman)

1998 Fleer Tradition Update #U55

Chavez is mostly known for his five Gold Glove Awards, but he wasn't exactly a slouch at the plate.  The guy is one of the best players in MLB history to never make an all-star roster.

Batting 7th:  Joe Rudi (Right Fielder)

2004 Fleer Greats of the Game #60

Rudi made this roster mostly for his defensive skillset.  He spent most of his time in left field for the Athletics.  But with Raines on the same lineup card, he'll need to patrol right field today.

Batting 8th:  Terry Steinbach (Catcher)

1987 Donruss The Rookies #27

Even though Steinback played with guys like McGwire, Canseco, and Henderson... he was definitely a fan favorite in the East Bay.  He played eleven seasons for the Athletics and made the all-star team three times.  

Batting 9th:  Mark Ellis (Second Baseman)

2004 Heritage #244

Mark Ellis led the American League in fielding percentage at second base twice and is ranks 6th all-time, yet he never won a Gold Glove Award.  He might not do a lot of damage at the plate, but he'll make up for it defensively for sure.

Starting Pitcher:  Sean Manaea

2018 Topps #342

We're approaching the one month anniversary of Manaea's no-hitter.  To honor that historical event, he'll get the starting nod over guys like Tim Hudson, Dave Stewart, Bob Welch, Barry Zito, and Mark Mulder.

But just in case he get's roughed up... like he did today... Eckersley will be waiting in the bullpen:

1996 Pacific Crown Collection #393

And managing the Christmas in July Athletics is...

2004 Heritage #393

When you're name is mixed in among Connie Mack, Tony LaRussa, Bob Melvin, Billy Martin, and Dick Williams, it's easy to forget Ken Macha.  But did you know that he has the 3rd highest winning percentage in franchise history?  Pretty impressive.

Well that's it for today.  Thank you Johnny for all of those great Oakland Athletics for my collection! I loved the variety... and it was truly fun flipping through four decades worth of baseball cards.

I just purchased a small collection.  Any Atlanta Braves cards I find will be packaged and shipped off to you.

Happy Saturday and sayonara!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The More The Merrier

Only a handful of my non-collecting friends know about this blog.  One of them happens to be my best friend and she always gives me crap about being a blogger.  She thinks it's a joke and has no idea the amount of hours and effort I've put into this blog.  In her eyes... it's just about this middle aged man who likes to write and talk about his baseball cards.

Well... she's not completely wrong, but the fact is... every post I write (even the short ones) takes at least thirty to ninety minutes for me to write, edit, revise, and publish.  Some of the longer posts have hours invested into them.  What's sad is those are the things that come fairly easy to me.  By far... the most challenging part of blogging (for me) is coming up with blog post ideas.

That's why... when it comes to Blog Bat Arounds... my philosophy is the more... the merrier.  It's one less idea for me to come up with.

1993 Skybox Marvel #156

The latest Blog Bat Around I stumbled upon was created by Matt over at Diamond Jesters.  His idea was based on the latest Marvel blockbuster... Avengers: Infinity War.  Unfortunately, I haven't seen the movie yet.  I'm sure I'll eventually watch it.  Probably when it lands on Netflix or HBO.

The good news is you don't need to watch the movie to be able to participate.

Here are the two questions/challenges he has presented:

Okay.  #1 was a no brainer for me, while #2 required a little more thought.  I'll go ahead and get the easy one out of the way.

#1:  1909-11 T206

1909-11 T206 #399 Mike Powers

This question would have been much more challenging if my collection contained a high percentage of super sentimental cards.  For example, I know a guy who inherited his father's collection.  There's no way I'd risk that disappearing.  You can't replace the memories of meeting your favorite athletes and having them sign your cards.  Especially since some of those guys have passed away.

The vast majority of my collection (99.999%) are cards that I love, but could easily be replaced if I had a bunch of money.  And that's exactly what I would have if I owned a mint condition 1909-11 T206 tobacco set.  Without a doubt, I'd turn around get the cards graded by PSA, pull out the Chief Bender and Mike Powers, and flip the rest at one of the bigger auction houses.

Honestly this would actually be killing two birds with one stone.  I'd have more than enough money to replace the missing cards.  However the bigger bonus is that half of my collection would be gone... getting rid of a bunch of clutter and freeing up tons of space.

I'm sure you're asking yourself... what about all of those gifts from friends and bloggers that you can't put a price tag on?  Y'know... like the T206 Doc Powers that was generously donated to your collection by Corky over at Pack War a few years ago.

Or that sweet custom Grace Park card that Gavin designed for you?

What about that amazing sketch card that AJ (aka The Lost Collector) drew for you?

Seriously... all of these items are super special and priceless... but you need to remember... only 1/2 of my collection is going to disappear.  If the Cardboard Gods offered me a mint T206 set, I'm going to think positively, cross my fingers, hope they are looking down on me kindly, and spare my sentimental binder.

#2:  De Nada

1956 Topps #30

After about a minute of deliberation... I just wouldn't have the guts to make every collectible of one athlete disappear.  I thought about choosing a guy like OJ Simpson, but honestly there are guys out there who try to remember the positive aspects of his life.  Plus... I don't need every single copy of the 1956 Topps Jackie Robinson.  Sure it's beautiful and my favorite card of all-time, but seriously... it's too beautiful to be held captive in one collection.  So I'm gonna turn down this opportunity and enjoy the shopping spree I'll be taking with the money from my mint T206 set.

Thanks Matt for kicking off this Blog Bat Around!  Here's a haiku dedicated to you and your blog:

Thank you Matt for the...
Creative blog post idea.
It saved me some time.

Happy Thursday and sayonara!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

All Autograph Team: Vol. 5 (The Oakland Athletics)

The Athletics played their first game in Oakland back on April 17th, 1968, which means they're celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year.

I've been an avid A's fan for over forty of those years.  To celebrate, I'm going to continue my series of All Autograph Teams and showcase some of the biggest names to play in the East Bay.

But before I do... it's important to lay down this post's ground rules:

#1:  All autographs will be on-card.
#2:  All autographs will be pack-pulled, PSA/DNA, or GAI certified.

As with other autographs featured in this series, I promise to not use any specific autographed card on more than one team.

Today's team will featured the starting nine, a designated hitter, a pinch hitter, a pinch runner, a utility player, four additional starting pitchers, two relievers, and a manager.

I'm going to keep my commentary to a minimum in order to save both of us time, since the last three volumes were extremely longwinded.  Okay, let's get this started...

Catcher:  Terry Steinback

1996 Leaf Signature Gold Auto #NNO

My biggest dilemma while writing this post was figuring out if I wanted to go with my favorite players or the best players.  In the end... I decided to go with the latter, since I've featured my favorites in the first volume.

First Baseman:  Mark McGwire

2016 Topps Legacies of Baseball Tenacity Auto #TA-MM

I'm sure there are people who will argue that Jason Giambi should be in this spot and statistically... it's debatable.  Ultimately, I felt that Big Mac had an overall bigger impact on Oakland A's baseball when you factor in popularity and three trips to the World Series.

Second Baseman:  Dick Green

2004 UD Legends Timeless Teams Autograph #89

If this team has a weak link, it's gonna be at second base.  Eric Sogard was originally slated to be here, but when I made the executive decision to show off my All Autograph Hockey Team early, it allowed me to run out and grab this Dick Green signature.

Green might not be a hall of famer, but he was the starting A's second baseman for eight seasons and won two World Series rings with them in 1973 and 1974.

Shortstop:  Miguel Tejada

1999 SP Signature #MT

Don't worry.  Campy makes an appearance somewhere on this roster.

Third Baseman:  Sal Bando

2001 UD Decade 1970's Game-Jersey Autographs #SJ-SB

Hank Bauer named Sal Bando the A's captain back in 1969.  He helped lead the Oakland Athletics to three World Series titles and a dynasty that's still relished by fans.

Left Fielder:  Rickey Henderson

2014 Gypsy Queen Autograph #GQA-RH

Easiest roster spot to fill.

Center Fielder:  Reggie Jackson

2013 Topps Museum Collection Gold Framed Autographs #MCA-RJ

Did you know that Reggie was the Oakland A's starting center fielder back in 1972?  Me either.  But he was.

Right Fielder:  Jose Canseco

2016 Topps Legacies of Baseball Tenacity Auto #TA-JC

Okay... I realize that Reggie should be in this spot.  Unfortunately, Canseco only played in center field once in his entire career.

Designated Hitter:  Jason Giambi

1998 Donruss Signature Series Millennial Marks #NNO

Hopefully this makes up for starting McGwire at first base.

Pinch Hitter:  Scott Hatteberg

2015 Topps Archives Fan Favorites Autographs Gold #FFA-SH

If you're an A's fan, you know why he's my pinch hitter.

Pinch Runner:  Billy North

2004 UD Legends Timeless Teams Autograph #85

Maybe one day Topps will add Herb Washington to their Archives Fan Favorites autograph checklist.  Until then... Billy North will pinch run for me.

Utility Player:  Bert Campaneris

2004 UD Legends Timeless Teams Autograph (#'d 1 of 1) #80

I can't think of a better utility player than the first guy in MLB history to play all nine positions in a single game.

Starting Pitcher #1:  Catfish Hunter

1985-97 Perez-Steele Great Moments #62 (PSA/DNA Certified)

Starting Pitcher #2:  Dave Stewart

2013 Topps Tier One Crowd Pleaser Autographs #CPA-DST2

Starting Pitcher #3:  Vida Blue

2013 Topps Tier One Crowd Pleaser Autographs #CPA-VB1

Starting Pitcher #4:  Tim Hudson

2004 Skybox Autographics #A-TH

Starting Pitcher #5:  Ken Holtzman

2001 Topps Golden Anniversary Autograph #GAA-KH

Other than Catfish, the starting rotation is filled with Hall of Very Good candidates.  But all five starters have World Series experience and will be supported by two pitchers enshrined at Cooperstown.

Relief Pitcher #1:  Dennis Eckersley

2007 UD Sweet Spot Classic Signatures #SPS-EC

Relief Pitcher #2:  Rollie Fingers

2007 UD Sweet Spot Classic Signatures #SPS-RF

I'd say this A's lineup has two strengths.  Power hitting is one of them.  The bullpen is the other.

Manager:  Billy Martin

1983 Topps #156 (GAI Certified)

And rounding out my 50th Anniversary Oakland Athletics All Autograph Team is my favorite manager of all-time.

I still have at least one more All Autograph Team to write about.  In the meantime... here is today's contest question of the day:

Who is your favorite Oakland Athletic?

I've written about mine a few times... but I'll write it again:  Rickey Henderson.

Happy Tuesday and sayonara!