30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Monday, October 31, 2011

I'm an eBay Idiot!

Who: Me... hence the title... I'm an eBay idiot!
What: I bought an empty box of 1992 Gameday Football cards for $4.99 ($.99 + $4 shipping)
When: I picked it up a little over a week ago.
Where: Once again... it's in the title.
Why: I thought I was buying a box of 1992 Gameday Football cards.
How: I didn't take the time to read the ad closely and I got what I paid for.

Happy Halloween everyone. I'm a huge fan of this holiday for so many reasons:

A. You get to dress up in outfits you'd never consider wearing on an average day.

Let's see... my last five costumes have been a geisha girl (loved representing my culture, dressing up in drag, and freaking out the kinder kids), Nacho Libre (if I wasn't a teacher, I'd consider being a Mexican wrestler), nigiri a.k.a. sushi (nothing like dressing up as raw fish), Leonardo (he's always been my favorite TMNT, because he wears the blue bandana and sports katanas), and today I dressed up as Russell from Disney's Up. C'mon... think about it. Fuji = short, chubby, Asian guy. Russell = short, chubby, (I'm pretty sure he's) Asian boy. Besides the geisha girl costume, it was my favorite. Sadly... my friends (who dressed up as other Up characters) and I lost out to the ever so popular Angry Birds in this year's Halloween costume contest. But enough crying... let's keep wrap this up.

Here you go G... Enjoy!

B. You get to eat candy without feeling guilty.

The holiday is based on eating candy and everywhere I go, people are handing it out for free. I've probably eaten 20 Reece's Peanut Butter Cups in the past week alone. Don't worry... I'm going on a diet starting tomorrow. I had to plump up for my costume.

C. And finally... there's the whole "trick" or "treat" concept.

Give me some candy, or I'll throw eggs at your house. Awesome right? Well... I'm too old for that now... but it's the main reason Mama Fuji had the candy bowl stocked for the neighborhood kids while growing up. Which meant that I got to keep the leftovers.

Okay... back to the point of this post. When I got home from work today, I saw this nice, big package sitting in my mailbox. And I though... sweet... a nice little treat on this special holiday. But after ripping open the package and finding this:

What is it? It's a beautiful empty box... and as you can imagine, I felt a little like I had been tricked. So, I headed over to eBay to read the item description and this is what I saw:

Yep... the item was described perfectly. I just didn't bother to read it carefully, which meant that it wasn't a treat, but I wasn't tricked either. In other words, I got what I deserved.

Tonight's questions are...

What's the best costume you've ever worn for Halloween?


Have you ever purchased something off of eBay and realized that you didn't read the item description carefully?

I guess I should be thankful that nobody else wanted this empty box, because I set my sniping program to put a maximum bid of $6 (+ $4.00 shipping). I can't imagine how bummed I'd be if I paid $10 for an empty box.

In the end... I spent $5 to learn a lesson I should have learned years ago. Happy Halloween everyone... Sayonara!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

PC Spotlight #14: GI Joe - 442nd Nisei Figure

Back in 1996, Hasbro introduced the G.I. Joe Classic Collection, which was intended to resemble the original G.I. Joe figures from the 60's. These 12" figures became popular, because of their attention to detail which featured cloth outfits and multiple accessories. The Classic Collection line ran from 1996 to 1999 and included over one hundred figures.

One of them was this 442nd Nisei figure, which was produced in 1998:

You can still find these figures at hobby stores, flea markets, and online stores. But I ended up picking this figure up on eBay. I had been trying to find this particular figure for years, but they were a bit pricey and I couldn't see myself spending $50 on a doll. Then a few months ago, I started checking eBay and discovered that the prices had settled down into the $20 to $30 range. So, I began tracking prices and eventually bid on one. I won the auction for $19 ($8.01 for the figure + $10.99 shipping).

You're probably thinking... why this particular DOLL?

Well, the 442nd Infantry Regiment was an all Japanese-American unit that primarily fought in Italy and France during the later part of World War II. They were known for their bravery and determination are the most highly decorated unit in the history of the United States armed forces.

I've always been fascinated by the fact that some of these guys were willing to put their lives on the line for their government and country, which had recently sent them and their families to internment camps.

The Noguchi Boys: Steve, George, and Henry

A few days ago, I took a trip down to Las Vegas to visit my parents and had the opportunity to sit down with my father's friend, Steve Noguchi. Mr. Noguchi and both of his brothers were a part of the 442nd Infantry Regiment. Our conversation lasted over an hour and covered everything from his time at the Poston Internment Camp (in Arizona) to an amazing story about how his brother, George earned a Bronze Star for saving the life of a guy who suffered from shell shock in a burning tank. It was one of those times where I just sat back and tried to soak in as much information as I could.

Mr. Noguchi & Me

Mr. Noguchi, if you're reading this... Thank you for taking the time to "talk story" with me. It was truly an honor to be able to sit down and listen to a real American hero.

By the way... while I was hanging out in Sin City... I also had the opportunity to relax and bond with my parents.

Papa Fuji drove me around the community in his golf cart to check out garage sales in their community (sadly I discovered no sports cards or any sort)...

And earlier, Mama Fuji took me to the casino for a rendezvous with Senorita Slots. Normally, she takes my money and leaves me feeling dirty and broke. However this time, I had my way with her and turned $20 into $100.

I can't remember the last time I quintupled my money. Of course, I donated some of it back to her... but in the end, I was able to take my parents out to dinner, buy my friend some treats, and still have a few dollars to spare. In fact, it's the first time in years that a trip to Vegas didn't cost me a dime. BTW: My flight was free, because I had a voucher from Southwest Airlines.

So... thanks Mom & Dad for everything... you're the best!

Today, I have two questions for you...

Do you own any dolls?


Who are your heroes?

I'm embarrassed to admit this... but I actually own two dolls: the G.I. Joe seen above and a Los Angeles Lakers Barbie doll. It should be noted that the Barbie doll was a gift and not a purchase and I don't consider my Star Wars figures, SLUs, or McFarlanes to be dolls... they're action figures!

As for my heroes... there are many people in my life that I admire and respect, but none more than my parents. Mama Fuji is one of the most generous, kind hearted woman in my life, who has always put her family and friends before herself. And Papa Fuji is everything I aspire to be: a hard working man, who is honest, responsible, and humble.

Enjoy your Sunday everyone... sayonara!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Set Showcase #15: 1994 Marvel Masterpieces Silver Holofoil Insert Set

I caught the Marvel Comics trading card bug, back in 1990... when Impel released their Marvel Universe set. It was a well designed set, that featured cards of all of my favorite comic book characters: Spider-Man, Punisher, Wolverine, and of course the sweet looking Venom. But if you collected back then... you know it wasn't the set that everyone wanted... it was the so called rare holograms that were inserted into packs at a rate of 1:36 packs.

It was the beginning of the insert craze and prices of these holograms were getting ridiculous. They were so insane, that it eventually drove me out of the comic card hobby. Which is why, I completely missed out on collecting the 1994 Marvel Masterpiece set.

Then last month, I stumbled across a complete set of the Silver Holofoil insert cards for $5. The set contains ten cards and were inserted into packs at a very reasonable rate of one per three hobby packs. So, if you purchased a hobby box with perfect collation you should be able to pull a full set of these, plus have a couple for trade bait.

Set: 10 cards

  1. Captain America
  2. Carnage
  3. Daredevil
  4. Hulk
  5. Iron Man
  6. Punisher
  7. Scarlet Witch
  8. Spider-Man
  9. Venom
  10. War Machine
This set is loaded with big names: Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, and of course Spider-Man.

But ultimately, I purchased this set for two reasons: Venom & Carnage. I'm a huge fan of these two villans. It's a shame that Marvel didn't do a better job portraying these two in Spider-Man 3.

Beckett Value: $20

Beckett currently lists the complete set at $20, while each of the ten singles are valued at $2.50 a piece.

eBay Value: $5 to $15

Recently completed sales have shown these sets closing anywhere between $2.95 (+ $2.50 shipping) to $15 (+ $3.26 shipping). If you're interested in picking a set up, there's one on there right now for $0.99 + $3.63 shipping or you can Buy It Now for $10 (or best offer) with free shipping.

Wednesday night's question of the evening...

What's your favorite movie based on a comic book series?

I don't get to the theaters very often, so I haven't seen any of the newer Marvel movies. I really enjoyed the X-Men trilogy. It's hard not to like Professor Xavier and his team of super heroes. However, the movie I'm most excited to see is the one featuring Deadpool... which I heard is currently in the works. That guy has everything... a cool costume and fights with two samurai swords. He sort of reminds me of Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow from G.I. Joe.

Well... happy hump day everyone. Only two more days until the weekend. Stay safe. Sayonara!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gasoline, New Orleans Jazz, Ray Jackson, and a Math Lesson!

If you're a teacher, you've inevitably been asked... Why do I need to know how to do this? Well today kiddies... I'm going to explain how I figured out the total amount of money I spent on gas, when I drove to Saturday's card show.

Step 1: I calculated the mileage. According to Google Maps, the route I took is approximately 49 miles. So the roundtrip distance was 98 miles.

Step 2: I calculated how much gas I used driving that distance. Since my Toyota averages 32 to 33 miles per gallon and I drove 98 miles, I estimated that I used around 3 gallons of gas on my trip. In other words, I divided the 98 miles by 32 (miles per gallon), then rounded to the nearest whole number.

Step 3: I calculated how much money it took to fill my car up with 3 gallons of gas. Today, I went to Shell and spent $3.59/gallon on gas. Since I used roughly 3 gallons of gas on my trip, I multiplied $3.59 by 3 gallons. Survey says... $10.77.

Now, I'm sure you're all wondering. Why the heck do I care how much you spent on gas?

The answer is... I don't know. I just wanted to see if I truly spent more on gas, than I did on buying cards at this past Saturday's show.

And guess what... I did spend more on gas. I spent a total of $5 on food, $8 on cards, $9 on supplies, and $10.77 on gas.

In short... the show stunk... but at least I was able to pick up some cheap singles... that when you factor in the cost of food, gas, and time... didn't really turn out to be that cheap. Here's a recap of my major card show haul:

Purchase #1: 76 cards for $7

Baseball Cards

I picked up a bunch of 90's inserts for my PC. My favorites were easily these 1991 Fleer Pro-Visions. By now you understand my obsession over "refractors", so the Jose Reyes was a must. The 1986 Topps Traded Bobby Bonilla and the 1983 Fleer Willie McGee rookies were both must haves twenty-five years ago... which means they're must haves for my 80's rookie card collection. And last, but not least, there's the 1978 Topps Rollie Fingers. This is easily my favorite baseball card in the lot. It features one of my favorite players from the 80's in the classic yellow and brown Padres uniform. Simply beautiful.

Football Cards

An insert of Dorsey Levens for my Packers PC. A Terrell Owens addition to my 90's insert PC. A cool 1983 sticker of The Diesel. A vintage card of a HOF kicker. A gold parallel rookie card of Seattle's overpaid and overrated receiver... who happens to share the same birthday as me. And to top it off... a few 1989 Topps rookie cards of a future HOFer, a Packers legend, and of a current HOFer.

Basketball Cards

It was slim pickings when it came to basketball cards this time around. I had to add the Hardaway, since I love oddballs and Timmy is a legend in the Bay Area. The Baron Davis will fit nicely into my all-new Golden State PC. Anytime you can find a vintage HOFer card for ten cents, you have to grab it... so the Goodrich was a must. Plus, I had no idea he played on the New Orleans Jazz. Actually... I didn't even realize that the Jazz once played in New Orleans. FYI: I started following basketball in the mid 80's.

Finally, there's this sweet 1994 Flair Pat Summit card. In August, Summit was diagnosed with onset dementia, an illness that she shares with my 102 year old grandmother. When I heard the story, I immediately wanted to find one of her cards and found out she was part of a subset in the 1994 Flair USA set. I made several offers on some cards/sets, but nobody responded. And now, I know why. It's because I was meant to find this beauty in a ten cent bin.

Purchase #2: Supplies $9

Yep... I spent more money on supplies, than on cards. That's how bad the show was. If you didn't read my Sunday post, the I'll provide a short recap. I drove almost an hour to get to a mall show that had less than 20 dealers. Selection was poor, but at least I was able to pick up two supplies I needed: Magazine Bags & 8x10 Sleeves.

Purchase #3: An autograph and 5 singles $1

I went back to the guy with 10 cent singles. This time, I decided to get a little crazy and look through his 50 cent singles. That's when I found this sweet 1995 Signature Rookies Draft Day autograph of Ray Jackson.

Who the heck is Ray Jackson, you ask? He's the only member of Michigan's Fab Five to not play in the NBA. And I'm now the proud owner of his John Hancock.

I wasn't able to find any other 50 cent singles, so I ended up picking out five more 10 cent cards... but none of them were anything special... just a few Joe Montana cards for my students.

Freebie #1: 1997/98 Topps Chrome "Refractor" Byron Scott

After making my way around the show... I decided to hang out at my buddy's table. He brought out a bunch of singles that he was selling for a dollar each. I helped him sort the singles and he rewarded me with this sweet refractor of Mr. Scott... who happens to be the guy who hooked me on watching the sport.

This card is actually pretty sweet and has been on my wantlist for awhile now... because it's one of his last official cards from his playing days... and actually includes all of his career stats, because he never dressed during the 97/98 season. Thanks Mike! Appreciate the freebie.

Question of the day:

Be honest... did you know that the Jazz used to play in New Orleans?

And... have you ever heard of the lost Fab Five member... Mr. Ray Jackson?

Happy Tuesday everyone... and Sayonara!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Looked for a Luck... Turned up a Tebow!

Since 1989, Sports Illustrated for Kids has been published on monthly basis. And in each issue, readers receive a nine card perforated sheet.

I'm pretty sure that the 1996 Tiger Woods card is the most sought after and valuable. I remember hearing about a graded copy sold for over $100,000. Today, Beckett lists the card for $250.

It's highly unlikely any future SI for Kids cards will come close to that figure, since the print run is astronomical. But that's a blessing in disguise... because that means you can usually find these sheets cheap. And every once in awhile, SI produces the first official cards of an athlete... like Tiger Woods and Andrew Luck.

Yesterday, I went on a mission to find the Luck, which was inserted into an issue earlier this year. Instead, I came home with a Tim Tebow.

Before I discuss my new acquisition... let me get this out of the way. The show stunk and I spent more money on gas and food, than I did on cardboard. There were probably 15 dealers in all... possibly 20, but that's a stretch.

At least my buddy was set up, so I was able to hang out... otherwise I would have finished the whole show in under 30 minutes. The dealer with the 10 cards for a buck was also there, so I was pretty stoked about that. Nothing finer than cheap cool cards.

So as I was leaving the show, I continued to stop at dealer's tables just to see if there was anything I missed. One of the dealers had a bunch of cool items like old cereal boxes and sports programs. He also had a bin with old magazine clippings, 8x10's, and other random oversized items. One of them was this sheet of SI for Kids cards:

I immediately saw the Tebow and asked the guy how much he wanted. He looked over the sheet and told me a dollar. FYI... I was prepared to pay up to $2 for the sheet... so I'm pretty stoked.

Earlier this week, the Denver Broncos announced that Tim Tebow would get his first start of the season after the slow 1-4 start under Kyle Orton.

It's not the first time Tebow will start for the Broncos. Last season, he started the final three games last year in his rookie season. He threw four touchdown passes and only three interceptions in those three starts. But he rushed for three touchdowns too. Not bad for a rookie QB.

Today's question of the day...

What's your opinion of Tim Tebow and his career?
HOF Hopeful? Future Flop?

Personally... I'm not sure about his career. My guess is he'll be somewhere in between, like a Randall Cunningham. Regardless... he's definitely one of the greatest college football players to take the field. I hope Mr. Tebow becomes an elite NFL QB, since he seems like a stand up guy and a ton of hobbyists collect him.

I guess we'll find out in about 10 minutes. Time to get ready for the Seattle/Cleveland game. Go Hawks!

I'll show off the rest of my card show pickups tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Sayonara!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I sure am a LUCKy teacher...

The Heisman Trophy is the most prestigious award in college football. Every year, it's given to the top college football player. Nineteen previous winners have gone on to become the #1 pick in the NFL Draft. And eight have made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Seven Notre Dame players have won the trophy. Six players have won the trophy for USC and Ohio State.

Reggie Bush won it in 2005 when he played for Southern Cal, but has since had it stripped. And Archie Griffin won it twice as a Buckeye, so technically Ohio State players have won it seven different times.

Unfortunately, Bay Area colleges haven't fared so well. Stanford is the only university in the area to have an athlete win the trophy... and it happened over 40 years ago in 1970.

That year, Jim Plunkett beat out future NFL QB's Joe Theismann, Archie Manning, and Lynn Dickey to win the trophy.

This year, Andrew Luck has the opportunity to do the same. He's currently the top candidate for the award, but so far Stanford has only faced unranked opponents.

Tonight he takes on #25 University of Washington and has the chance to showcase his skills on National TV. Best of luck, Mr. Luck. Go Cardinals!

Today's question...

Do you think Andrew Luck will end up winning the Heisman? If not, who will?

And will he be the top pick in next year's NFL Draft?

August 2011 SI for Kids Poster

Yesterday, one of my students gave me this sweet Andrew Luck poster. It's from the August 2011 issue of Sports Illustrated for Kids and it's presently the only collectible I own of him. But if things go as planned... and Luck wins the Heisman... collectors will soon have a ton of Luck collectibles to choose from.

Well... I'm off to another mall show. This time it's over in San Bruno at the Tanforan Mall... which is a few miles north of San Francisco International Airport. Hopefully, I'll have some stuff to share with you guys in my next post.

Have a good weekend everyone... Sayonara!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Players I Hate to Love #3: Paul Kariya

I love the
San Jose Sharks.

They've been my team since they entered the league twenty-one years ago. And over the years, I've grown to really dislike certain teams: the Detroit Red Wings, the Dallas Stars, and the Anaheim Ducks.

I can't stand the Red Wings, because it feels like they win the Stanley Cup every other year... and since the Sharks have yet to reach the Stanley Cup Finals... a piece of me dies everytime they win another championship.

My hatred for the Stars revolves around one player: Ed Belfour. Thanks for everything you gave to the organization, Mr. Eagle.

And then there's the Ducks. There are so many things I can't stand about the Ducks. Annoying mascot. Division rivals. Two Stanley Cup Finals appearances. Teemu Selanne. Their 2008-09 Quarter-Finals victory over the Sharks in the season they brought home the Presidents' Trophy.

So what I'm about to tell you... is pretty hard to admit. But today is his birthday... and he officially retired in June, so he can no longer hurt the Sharks. You might want to sit down for this. Are you ready? Okay, here it is...

I'm a closet Paul Kariya fan.

I've collected his cards since the mid 90's when the hobby was booming and he was a budding superstar.

1991-92 Upper Deck Czech World Juniors #50

Remember when this card was on fire? It's one of his first officially licensed cards and were originally distributed in Eastern Europe.

But I didn't actually start liking the guy until I attended one of the Ducks Casino Nights in the late 90's. Why was I attending a Anaheim Ducks event? Well... my buddy sent me to collect autographs for him. The deal was... he paid for the trip and got to keep most of the autographs... while I had the opportunity to walk around, meet NHL players (who were the dealers at the event), and collect signatures. Oh... he also let me keep a few of the autographs I acquired... including this 8x10 photo with Guy Hebert & Teemu Selanne:

Anyways... it was a pretty cool experience. Most of the players were really nice. But the Kariya experience stood out because he was a superstar. He must have signed five to seven photos/pucks for my friend that night... and each time he did it with a smile.

Later in his career, I discovered that he's part Japanese... which meant that he'd fit nicely into my Japanese athlete PC.

But the thing I like about Kariya the most isn't his heritage or the autographs he signed... it's the way he played the game. He won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy twice in his career for exhibiting good sportsmanship. He was amazing to watch on the ice and has always been known for his work ethic and humility.

It's a shame that he never wore a San Jose Sharks jersey... because there's no doubt in my mind that the city would have embraced him. Happy Birthday Paul!

Here is today's question:

Who are some of your favorite athletes that are known for demonstrating "good sportsmanship"?

Alright... it's time to get ready for some football. Less than ten minutes to get my game face on. The Seahawks are on a bye... so I'll only be cheering on the Packers this week. Sayonara!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Another gimmick, another set, another project...

One of the allures of busting packs is the mystery of what you're going to pull from your pack. Well in the 90's, Topps and Pinnacle took it one step further for collectors.

Both companies produced inserts that contained protective coatings which hid the true identities of the player on the card. Topps called them Mystery Finest and Peel & Reveal, and Pinnacle produced an insert set called Double Disguise for their 1996 Pinnacle football product.

I've covered the Mystery Finest cards before... here.

And recently, I decided to build the 1996 Pinnacle Double Disguise set. The set contains 20 cards that feature five different players: Brett Favre, Emmitt Smith, Steve Young, Dan Marino, and Kerry Collins. Each card has a player on the front and a player on the back. However, when you pulled one of these inserts from a box (which were pulled at a rate of 1:18 packs in 24 pack boxes), you didn't know who you had, because both sides were covered with a silver covering that hid the identity of your players.

Originally, my goal was to collect all of the Favres in the set. Then I came across I guy selling an 18 card lot on eBay. I ended up winning the auction for $20 ($17.56 + $2.44 shipping). All of them were unpeeled, with the exception of one card... which had been peeled on one of the sides. The silver coverings were a challenge, but I eventually managed to pull all of them off.

After sorting through all of my singles, I discovered I came up two cards short of the set. Here's a look at who I have (Green) and who I still need (Red).

1 E. Smith/E. Smith
2 E. Smith/D. Marino
3 E. Smith/B. Favre
4 E. Smith/S. Young
5 D. Marino/D. Marino
6 D. Marino/E. Smith
7 D. Marino/K. Collins
8 D. Marino/S. Young
9 K. Collins/K. Collins
10 K. Collins/D. Marino
11 K. Collins/B. Favre
12 K. Collins/S. Young
13 B. Favre/B. Favre
14 B. Favre/K. Collins
15 B. Favre/D. Marino
16 B. Favre/E. Smith
17 S. Young/S. Young
18 S. Young/B. Favre
19 S. Young/E. Smith
20 S. Young/K. Collins

As you can see, each player is featured on seven different cards, one of which has a picture of them on both sides. Personally, I wish Pinnacle would have expanded the player checklist and reduced the number of cards produced for each player.

At least they scored a touchdown with their selection of Emmitt, Dan, Brett, and Steve... but the jury is still out with Kerry. Mr. Collins is in the 17th season of his career and is currently with the Indianapolis Colts. He's played on six different teams, has started 180 games, and has thrown for over 40,000 yards. Currently he ranks 10th all-time in career passing yards.

And he happens to be on both of the cards I need to complete my set. If by chance you have these two cards, please let me know if you'd be interested in trading them. If not, I'll probably end up pulling the trigger and buying them off of COMC.

What's your opinion on "gimmick" cards?

Do you have a particular favorite?

Well... you already know I love them. And my favorite is probably the 1997/98 Pinnacle Zenith "Dare to Tear" product, where they inserted standard size cards into a 5 x 7 card. As a collector, you had to decided whether or not you kept the 5 x 7 intact or if you tore it to see what was inside. I loved the concept and if I could find some at a reasonable price, I'd be all over it.

Good night everyone... thank goodness tomorrow is Friday. Sayonara!