30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Players I Hate to Love #4: Niklas Lidstrom

Certain teams bug the heck out of me and the Detroit Red Wings are one of them. Since I became a San Jose Sharks fan back in the early 90's, the Red Wings have never missed the playoffs and have won four Stanley Cup Finals. In my mind, they're the New York Yankees of hockey.

Which is why you won't usually see this particular Sharks fan cheering for anyone wearing a Red Wings' jersey But Niklas Lidstrom is the exception. Actually, I can't say I've ever rooted for #5. But over the years, it's hard not to respect what he's done for his team and for the sport itself.

See for yourself. Here's a list of his major accomplishments:

12x NHL All-Star (Did not attend 2009 All-Star Game)
10x NHL First Team All-Star
7x James Norris Memorial Trophy Winner
2001-02 Conn Smythe Trophy Winner
4x Stanley Cup Champion
2006 Olympic Gold Medal Winner (Team Sweden)
1,564 NHL Games Played (Most w/One Team in NHL History)
878 Assists (21st in NHL History)
+450 Plus/Minus (10th in NHL History)

So when I read about his retirement on ESPN earlier today, I was relieved, sad, and happy... all at the same time. I'm relieved that Lidstrom will no longer be helping his teammates light up the lamp against the Sharks. On the other hand, it's sad knowing that his amazing NHL career is officially over. The good news is he's retiring on his own terms and there's no doubt he's one of the greatest to play the game.

Enjoy your retirement Mr. Lidstrom. You deserve it!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Totally Boss Embossment!

I love embossed cards! If you're not sure what I mean by "embossed"... I'll try my best to explain. It's when a card manufacturer raises parts of the card surface in order to give a three dimensional feel.

This technology has been around for awhile and although I don't know which company did it first, I know that the oldest embossed cards in my collection come from the 1965 Topps Embossed insert set:

#56 Harmon Killebrew

These cards were inserted into packs of 1965 Topps baseball cards. And best of all, they're very affordable. I picked up the Killebrew for a whopping 75¢. In fact, you can find HOFers like Orlando Cepeda, Bob Gibson, and Billy Williams on COMC right now for less than a buck.

In 1985, Topps produced another embossed baseball card set called Topps 3-D.

#10 Rickey Henderson

A lot of collectors don't like these, because due to the embossed surface, they don't stack up nicely and are a pain in the butt to store. Plus, the embossed photos make the players look distorted. But these oversized (4 1/4" x 5 7/8"), plastic oddballs are interesting and very, very cheap. Last week, I picked up a complete set of 30 cards for (+ $4.99 shipping).

And what kind of post would this be if I didn't mention Action Packed? This is the company who made a name for themselves creating embossed cards.

#130 Rollie Fingers

Although they primarily focused on producing football and racing cards, they also created basketball, wrestling, hockey, and baseball sets. The Fingers card comes from their 1993 All Star Gallery set, which focus on old timers & hall of famers.

Next up is this Derek Jeter:

#3 Derek Jeter

This 1998 Ultra "Kid Gloves" insert card is truly an amazing card. The embossed surface makes the leather strings and other parts of the glove stand out. Unfortunately, the scan doesn't do the card any justice. These cards were seeded into Series 1 boxes at a rate of one per eight packs, so they're far from rare. But like most overproduced 90's products, that's what keeps them affordable. I added the above Jeter insert to my collection for 40¢ (+ 25¢ shipping).

So there you have it. Four affordable options to add a little "texture" to your collection. Personally, I wish more card companies would produce cards featuring "embossed" technology.

Upper Deck had something special in the late 90's and early 2000's. That's when they introduced their Ovation products to collectors.

1999 Ovation #55 Tony Gwynn & 2000 Ovation #38 Tony Gwynn

See the red stitching on the cards? It may be a little difficult to see in the scan, but it's embossed. Which means that if you were holding this card in your hands, you could feel it.

Okay, it's your turn.

What's your opinion of embossed trading cards?

I'll admit, they're not for everyone. And realistically, I have yet to see a company master the athlete's photo/embossment combination. But in my opinion, it doesn't hurt to keep on trying.

Happy Wednesday everyone. Enjoy the rest of your week and sayonara!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I love the 80's (Baseball Edition) #8 - Mike Schmidt

On May 29th, 1989... twenty-three years ago to the day... Mike Schmidt announced his retirement from baseball.

In a current ESPN SportsNation Poll ranking the greatest third basemen of all-time, Schmidt is ranked #1 with the most first place votes. This isn't surprising since Schmidt had a stellar career that ended with him being inducted into Cooperstown in 1995 as a first ballot HOFer.

His career accomplishments are mind-blowing:

MLB All-Century Team
MLB All-Time Team
1980 World Series Champion & MVP
3x NL MVP Award Winner (1980, 1981, 1986)
12x All-Star
10x Gold Glove Award Winner
6x Silver Slugger Award Winner
8x NL Home Run Champion
1983 Lou Gehrig Memorial Award Winner

And since I was a child of the 80's, I had the privilege to witness Schmidt's greatness. Although he was injured for part of the 1988 season and he retired halfway through the 1989 season, he still wrapped up the 80's as one of the most greatest hitters in the decade.

Here are his rankings among MLB's finest during the 80's:

832 Runs Scored (9th)
313 Home Runs (1st)
929 RBI's (T-2nd w/Dale Murphy)
.540 Slugging Percentage (1st)
.385 On-Base Percentage (T-8th w/Dwight Evans)

Okay... you've seen the accolades and the numbers.

Where does Mike Schmidt rank among the greatest third basemen to play the game?

Happy Tuesday and sayonara!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Grab Bags from across the Pacific!

I've been collecting Japanese baseball cards and unopened Japanese wax packs for a couple of years now. But after the Yakyu Shop closed its doors a year ago, I lost my key supplier and figured there wouldn't be any new additions to that particular PC.

I was wrong!

A couple of months ago, I met TakaTanakaGiants on SCF. He lives in Japan and generously sent me & my students a nice care package of Japanese trading cards. Since then, we've become friends and he's offered to help me out by buying wax packs and grab bags for me at the local card show in Japan.

So in early April, I sent him ¥4,000 ($50.68) and here's what he picked up for me:

1000 Yen Grab Bag (4 Wax Packs & An Insert)

Four 2011 BBM Packs: Fighters, Tigers, Carp, & Dragons

2001 Nigel Wilson Lenticular Insert

500 Yen Grab Bag (x3) (3 Wax Packs & An Insert)

Grab Bag #1
Three BBM Packs: 2012 Historic Collection, 2011 Eagles, & 2011 Giants

Yohei Kaneko RC (#'d 067/200)

Grab Bag #2
Three BBM Packs: 2011 Historic Collection, 2011 Dragons, & 2012 Marines

2002 Michihiro Ogasawara Insert

Grab Bag #3

Three BBM Packs: 2011 Carp, 2012 Rookie Ed., 2012 Marines

Takayuki Kishi Parallel (#'d 32/60)

BBM Wax Packs (x2)

2011 & 2012 1st Version Packs

Kenji Johjima Acetate Japanese Insert

Japanese Final Fantasy Trading Cards

I'm very excited to add eleven new packs to my Japanese Wax Pack Collection. Plus I was able to add some cool inserts to my binder.

Domo arigato TakaTanakaGiants! I appreciate you going out of the way to help me with my project. If any of you are interested in collecting Japanese baseball cards, I encourage you to check out his YouTube videos. He has some of the best and unique pack breaks on You Tube and one of the most insane 2012 Topps Tribute collections out there.

I hope all of you are enjoying your holiday weekend. Stay safe and sayonara!

Blog Trade #24: All Tribe Baseball

Last week, a simple comment left on a blog caused sort of a domino effect that resulted in two collectors smiling. Here's how it unfolded...

Step 1: I left a comment on one of It's like having my own Card Shop's posts.

Step 2: Baseball Dad over at All Tribe Baseball read the comment and emailed me. He generously offers to send me some oversized goodies for free.

Step 3: Nothing in life is free. So, I tell him I'll ship out some Cleveland Indians oddballs as compensation... and voila... a blind trade is created.

Step 4: Two content cardboard collectors. Click here if you want to see what I shipped.

And here's what he sent me:

A trio of 2003 Donruss Estrellas Posters...

5" x 7" Posters

Their matching cardboard counterparts...

And an unopened pack of 2003 Donruss Estrellas...

Well... it's not unopened anymore. Each pack contains 5 cards and a poster. And I just had to see which poster remained hidden in the pack. Here's what I pulled:

Albert Pujols! I'm definitely happy with this poster. He's starting to find his groove in LA... going 6 for 12 with 3 home runs in his last 3 games.

And if you're curious... here's the rest of the pack:

Francisco Rodriguez Insert

3 Former Yankees, a current Yankee, & a Carlos Lee

Thanks Baseball Dad for the very successful blind trade. I look forward to future transactions. Have a safe holiday weekend... and sayonara!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Saturday Night Five: Favorite Star Wars Characters

By now, I'm sure most of you have heard that yesterday marked the 35th Anniversary of the theatrical release of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. And I, like millions of other people around the world, am a huge fan of George Lucas' creation.

So tonight, I decided to celebrate this special occasion by listing my five favorite Star Wars characters:

#1 Yoda

If I could be any character in the Star Wars Universe, it'd be this guy. He's honorable, wise, one of the most powerful and respected jedis, and is only 26 inches tall. What's not to like about him?

#2 Boba Fett

Cool Looking + Awesome Gadgets + Deadliest Bounty Hunter = 2nd Favorite Star Wars Character

#3 Darth Maul

The Phantom Menace is my least favorite film in the series, but it's still pretty good. A lot of that has to do with Darth Maul. His lightsaber duel against Qui-Gon & Obi-Wan is legendary.

#4 R2-D2

This astromech droid is one of two characters to appear in all six films (his golden counterpart is the other) and he's a hero in every one of them.

#5 Aurra Sing

Although Sing's appearance in The Phantom Menace was brief, it was enough to spark an interest for this fan. Her unique look and the fact that she's a bounty hunter won me over.

Honorable Mention: Darth Vader, Han Solo, Wicket, & Chewbacca

It's your turn...

Who are your favorite Star Wars characters?

Have a safe holiday weekend and may the force be with you!

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Puzzling Trade

A couple of years ago I started this blog to document my collecting experiences, but I must admit... one of the coolest things about being a blogger are the opportunities to interact with one another.

I recently completed a trade with a fellow Donruss Puzzle collector, who sent me four puzzles that I needed for my Donruss Puzzle Project. And the only thing he wanted in return were my extra 1983 Mickey Mantle and 1984 Ted Williams puzzle pieces. Not complete sets... just starter sets of the final two puzzles he needs for his collection. The generosity that flows through the community never ceases to amaze me. Four completed puzzles for two partial puzzles?

Jack... if you're reading this. Thanks for the trade! You definitely helped me out and I owe you big time. If I come across anymore of these puzzle pieces, I'll ship them your way.

Okay... let's check out my four newest puzzles:

1983 Donruss Ty Cobb

1984 Donruss Duke Snider

1985 Donruss Lou Gehrig

1987 Donruss Roberto Clemente

The Clemente was missing the fourth puzzle card that contained puzzle pieces #10, 11, & 12. But the final piece should be arriving sometime next week. So here's where my project currently stands:

1982 Donruss Babe Ruth - Don't Have
1983 Donruss Ty Cobb - Completed
1983 Donruss Action All Stars Mickey Mantle - Need #'s 7, 8, & 9
1984 Donruss Duke Snider - Completed
1984 Donruss Action All Stars Ted Williams - Need #'s 1, 2, & 3
1985 Donruss Lou Gehrig - Completed
1986 Donruss Hank Aaron - Completed
1987 Donruss Roberto Clemente - Need #'s 10, 11, & 12 (But they're on the way)
1988 Donruss Stan Musial - Completed
1989 Donruss Warren Spahn - Completed
1990 Donruss Carl Yastrzemski - Completed
1990 Leaf Yogi Berra - Don't Have
1991 Donruss Willie Stargell - Don't Have
1991 Leaf Harmon Killebrew - Completed
1992 Donruss Rod Carew - Don't Have

If you happen to have Babe Ruth, Yogi Berra, Willie Stargell, or Rod Carew puzzles available for trade, please contact me. Have a safe holiday weekend & sayonara!

Extra Edition!

Clemente is complete!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Banzai Babe Ruth & Sawamura-san!

Hall of famers. Promo cards. Japanese baseball players. Three things I love about collecting cardboard and this card represents all of them. Plus, it was a gift from a fellow collector.

And if that wasn't enough... it's one of the coolest history lessons I've had. Back in 1934, Babe Ruth and his barnstorming squad toured The Land of the Rising Sun in an effort to smooth out political tensions between the United States and Japan.

During the tour, Ruth's squad played eighteen games over a month long stay. In one of those games, they faced a seventeen year old pitcher named Eiji Sawamura. Sawamura might be the only pitcher in the history of the game to strike out Charlie Gehringer, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Jimmie Foxx in succession. C'mon... admit it. That's insane! Right?

But as we all know... Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor ended all hope of peace between the two nations. Sawamura enlisted in the Japanese Imperial Army and on December 2, 1944 he was killed in action at the age of twenty-six.

In 1947, the Sawamura Award was established and awarded to the top starting pitcher in Japan. Hideo Nomo (1990), Daisuke Matsuzaka (2001), and Yu Darvish (2007) are all past recipients of this award.

Before I received this card on Tuesday, I had never seen it or heard of the book it promotes. But the card immediately was added to my Japanese PC and the book is sitting in my cart on Amazon waiting to be purchased.

Domo arigato Markz! Your generosity is much appreciated and I promise to give the Babe and Sawamura-san a loving home.

Happy Thursday everyone and sayonara!