30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Monday, February 19, 2018

Saving for a Rainy Day

If it doesn't start raining in the next 10 days, the Bay Area will experience one of the driest months on record.  Don't worry, this isn't turning into a weather blog.  I realize that this is the second time in three posts that I'm referencing the weather, but bear with me... I'm just using it as a lead in.

I've always been a rainy day weather kind of guy.  I loved stomping in puddles on my way to school and experiencing indoor recess when I was a kid.  Plus when it rained here in San Jose, it usually meant snow up at Lake Tahoe.  More rain led to more snow, which led to a great ski season.

But today's post isn't about Tahoe, skiing, or the weather.  I assure you it's about baseball cards.

A few weeks ago, I received a medium sized flat rate box from John over at Johnny's Trading Spot.

How does this care package relate to the weather here in San Jose?

Well... the next time I'm stuck inside of my house due to rain, I now have something to help brighten up my day thanks to these two boxes of 1991 Fleer baseball that John sent me:

Now I realize that many of you aren't fans of these yellow bordered baseball cards that will figuratively blind you if you stare at them too long.  However, I have actually grown quite fond of this set the past few years.  Don't get the wrong idea.  I'm not nominating it for my favorite Fleer baseball card design or anything.  At the same time, I don't think it's nearly as bad as the 1990 or 1995 Fleer baseball card designs.

One of the favorite things about this product are the card backs.  I also feel like Fleer did a pretty good job on photo cropping on certain cards.  Both of these things will be addressed in my recap post after I do my rainy day box break of these two boxes.

So come on Mother Nature... bring the Bay Area some rain.

Johnny didn't stop there, he also sent me a unopened box of 1990 Upper Deck Low # Series baseball:

Oh man, this box brings back memories.  I couldn't afford to rip open 1989 Upper Deck, so I tried to make up for it by cracking open tons of this stuff.  Obviously this stuff hasn't held its value over the years, but it still has some decent rookie cards:  Sammy Sosa, Larry Walker, Juan Gonzalez, John Olerud, and David Justice.

I haven't decided on if I'm going to do a personal box break with these cards or possibly use it to teach a fractions or statistics lesson with my summer school students.  Either way, I'll keep you posted.

The last box he sent me was a non-sports product I have never seen or heard of before.  It's a wax box of 1992 Pacific The Story of World War II:

I've always been interested in learning about U.S. history and World War II is probably the historical event I am most fascinated with.  I think it has to do with my parents growing up in Hawaii and experiencing the bombing of Pearl Harbor first hand.

I look forward to busting this box eventually.  Maybe a special December 7th box break?

And rounding out Johnny's care package was a team bag filled with singles for my Oakland A's collection:

Here are a pair of my favorites:

2017 Chrome Prizm Refractor #98

When the A's traded Ryon Healy back in November, it cleared the way for Matt Olson to become their starting first basemen (except when they're facing left-handed pitchers).  The guy showed baseball fans that he can hit bombs, but he also struck out a lot too.  It'll be interesting to see if he'll be the next fan favorite, the next attractive piece of trade bait, or the next Kevin Maas.  Only time will tell.

2017 Topps Update Postseason Celebration #PC13

This card is awesome!  It shows the Oakland Athletics celebrating at Riverfront Stadium on October 22, 1972 after winning Game 7 of the 1972 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds and The Big Red Machine.

I was less than two months old at the time and was a few years away from calling myself an A's fan.  But I still think it's pretty cool that my favorite team won the World Series the year that I was born.

He also sent me a small stack of promo cards:

1994 and 1995 Topps Pre-Production Cards

The 90's are often recognized by collectors as the Era of Innovation.  The competitive card market forced companies to think outside of the box, which led to things like memorabilia cards, shiny and diecut parallels, cards made from materials like acetate and metal, autographs, and printing plates.

But something that doesn't get recognized as much as it should are the plethora of promo cards handed out during this era.  Towards the latter part of the decade, I worked at a card shop that had tons of these laying around.  So whenever I saw a new one, I'd grab it and throw it into my collection.

Although there is a chance that these were once passed out by a card shop dealer, it's more likely that these were acquired originally from 1993 and 1994 Topps factory sets.  Regardless... their purpose was to give collectors an idea of what the upcoming set would look like, so these will be added to my ever-growing promo card collection.

I'll wrap things up with two more singles that stood out in Johnny's care package:

1990 Classic WWF #22

I haven't been a professional wrestling fan in years, but there were two brief periods of my life where I was really into the scene.  The first time was in the mid to late 80's when I was in middle school and high school.  I'd look forward to watching guys like Hulk Hogan, Rickey Steamboat, The Ultimate Warrior, and The British Bulldogs.  Then I took about ten years off and returned in the late 90's to early 2000's when The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and D-Generation X ruled the ring.

Mr. Fuji was a big part of the first go around for obvious reasons.  

1996 Topps #96

If I ever put together a list of my favorite Cal Ripken base cards, I hope to remember to include this card.  It's the perfect tribute to Ripken's 2,131 consecutive games played streak.  I love the collage that Topps designed for the front and the nice write up written on the back.

One of my favorite things to collect are cool, cheap cards.  This card has been added to that binder.

Thank you John for this very generous care package!  I'm really looking forward to cracking open those two 1991 Fleer boxes and bringing a little sunshine into my card collection.

Happy Monday and sayonara!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Decline of Print Media

Earlier in the week, one of my friends and I were talking about how fortunate we've been to witness our world's transition into The Digital Age.  When I was a little kid, personal computers weren't even a thing.  Within a decade or so, half of the people I went to school with had either a PC or a Mac sitting in their home.  A few years after that companies like AOL and Prodigy offered us a ticket to surf the internet.  And by the time I graduated from San Jose State in the mid 90's, people were shopping and collectors were trading online.

Life would be much more challenging without a computer and the internet.  I use it on a daily basis at work and at home to watch tv, input grades, listen to music, create presentations, pay bills, shop online, write blog posts, read your blogs, and a bunch of other things.

But The Digital Age isn't perfect.  Cyber-bullying, identity theft, and online scams are just a few of the drawbacks.  I could probably dedicate a post to each of these topics and somehow tie them into sports cards.  However today's post is about another issue: the decline of print media.

When I was a kid, my family always had a huge stack of magazines sitting under one of our couch's end tables.  Everyone in my family had multiple subscriptions to add to the stack, but if I were to guess, I'd say that my mom and I had the most.  I always had at least two or three, plus the single issues I'd beg my mom to buy at the store.

My childhood favorites were Baseball Digest, Mad, Tuff Stuff, Baseball CardsSport, Dynamite!, Highlights, Surfer, Beckett BaseballStreet and Smith's Baseball, Nintendo Power, National Lampoon, and Thrasher Magazine.

Thanks to The Digital Age, I down to only three magazines subscriptions: ESPN, Baseball Digest, and Sports Illustrated for Kids.

My subscription to ESPN gives me access to online content on their website.  Baseball Digest is the only magazine left that I try to read cover to cover.

But you might be asking yourself, why does a forty-five year old man subscribe to a kids magazine?

Well if you're familiar with this blog, then you already know.  But just in case you need a refresher... it's all about the sheet of trading cards included in each month's issue of Sports Illustrated for Kids.  There are two main things that make their cards worthy of this collector's subscription.

#1:  Each nine card sheet of trading cards features at least two females which is pretty cool since most trading card products contain 99% male athletes.

#2:  You always get at least three or four cards featuring athletes from lesser publicized sports like lacrosse, rugby, surfing, ice skating, volleyball, skateboarding, mountain biking, gymnastics, motocross, and snowboarding.

Now I enjoy collecting all-male baseball card sets as much as any other baseball card collector out there.  However every now and then, it's kinda cool to write about something different.

I'm not sure how many of my readers are snowboarding fans, but I know I've been waiting to see Chloe Kim's Olympic debut for quite some time.  I remember watching her win the silver medal at the 2014 Winter X Games SuperPipe competition at thirteen years of age.  She'd follow that performance up with three more gold medal performances in Aspen over a four year period.

But seriously... the biggest stage would be at PyeongChang 2018 where millions of people would be watching to see her compete against the world's best.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that she lived up to lofty expectations and won the gold medal for Team USA in front of her supportive family which included her 75 year old grandmother who was watching her granddaughter compete in person for the very first time.

Topps included cards of Kim in their 2018 US Olympic and Paralympic Hopeful product, including several different autographed cards that are commanding hundreds of dollars.

2016 SI for Kids #510 Chloe Kim

But did you know that Sports Illustrated for Kids beat Topps to the punch by nearly two years when they issued a card of her in their April 2014 issue?

Although this card isn't rare and will never be worth hundreds of dollars... it's still a cool piece of cardboard featuring one of the most infectious smiles at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

It's also a nice reminder that even though print media may be on the decline, it isn't dead yet.

What are some of your favorite childhood magazines?  Do you still have any magazine subscriptions?

Long live Sports Illustrated for Kids and their monthly trading cards sheets.  And congratulations Chloe for becoming the youngest female to win an Olympic gold medal on snow.

Happy Saturday and sayonara!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Flea Market Finds #126: The Bee's Knees

What the heck is going on with our climate?  Don't worry, I'm not going to get all political, but the weather out here in the Bay Area is kinda starting to freak me out.

I know that I should be grateful for the 70 degree temperatures we've been experiencing the past few weeks, since I've read on some of your blogs that it's much colder in other parts of the country.  But I really, really, really miss the rain and February is typically San Jose's wettest month.

On the bright side, it was warm enough two weekends ago for me to wake up and walk around the De Anza Flea Market.  That was the same weekend that I was feeling under the weather, but I thought the fresh air would do me some good.

Plus, I was really starting to get the flea market itch, since I hadn't walked around one in months.  Let's see how I fared...

Purchase #1:  Box of Plastic Storage Boxes  $5

Okay.  Not exactly an epic sports card haul.  But who can't use plastic storage boxes?  They aren't new, but most of them are in pretty good condition.  There were a total of 45 boxes of varying sizes, plus a few hockey puck holders as well.

The only downside was carrying them around the rest of the flea market.  By the way, the cards you see in the photo weren't included.  They were actually purchases I made later in the day.

Purchase #2:  1983 Colla San Jose Bees Set  $2

I talk a lot about going to San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's games as a kid, but I also went to a fair share of San Jose Bees games too.  I found this set sitting in an older couples' cigar box with a bunch of matchbooks and coins.  It seemed a little out of place, since they didn't have any other sports memorabilia for sale.  They mostly had jewelry, glassware, and older books.  Sometimes this can be a bad sign, because the vendors think they have a very rare vintage set.

But I was pleasantly surprised that the gentleman only wanted two bucks for the team set:

There weren't any names I recognized, but it's a nice addition to my San Jose Giants team set binder.

Plus how often do you come across a Japanese baseball player who is nicknamed "Bunny"?

Purchase #3:  Dave Winfield Rookie Card  $1

1974 Topps #456

This is the second Dave Winfield rookie card I scored for a buck in an eight day stretch.  The first one I grabbed at the Serramonte Mall Card and Collectibles Show a week earlier.

This one was sitting in a dollar bin owned by a guy I had never seen before.  However he was set up next to some of my buddies who encouraged me to dig through his stuff.  He had a few cards that I considered grabbing, but ultimately this is the only card I purchased from this bin.

Purchase #4:  Nickel Bin Cards $1

In addition to a dollar bin, the guy also had a small nickel box with 60's and 70's baseball cards.  Most of the cards were in really poor condition, but at least there were some decent names and a pair of oddballs I hadn't seen before.  My favorites were these two vintage cards of hall of fame manager Walt Alston:

1961 Topps #136

1963 Topps #154

Gotta love the infamous rounded corners on that '61.  If it wasn't a 63¢ card on COMC, I might be convinced it's one of those counterfeits seen on A Penny Sleeve For Your Thoughts.

Well there you have it.  The unusually warm weather motivated me to head out to my first flea market of the year, which led me to some very affordable vintage.

I didn't exactly hit the jackpot, but I was pretty satisfied with this haul.  If the weather holds up, I'm gonna head out to another flea market this weekend.  Hopefully the "vintage" guy will be other there with my friends.  I promise to keep you posted.

Until then... feel free to comment about cards or the weather down below.

Happy Thursday and sayonara!