Thursday, December 31, 2015

Serial Number Sham

I don't want to become a Negative Nancy, Ranting Ralph, or Fussy Fuji... but sometimes it's better to let it all out and move on with your life, than to hold it in and let it eat you up.  With that being said... last Sunday's flea market experience is in the past and I'm ready to move forward.

But as we wrap up 2015, I have one more issue to address.  This time in regards to my favorite baseball card company:  Topps.

It has to do with this 2009 Topps Ticket to Stardom relic of a ticket for Ronald Reagan's presidential inauguration in 1981:

Now for those who don't know... I have a small Reagan PC and when my friend showed this to me, I was immediately interested in adding this card to it.

He offered it to me for $20, which I felt was fair since it claimed to be a one of a kind collectible.  After the purchase, I decided to see if any similar cards had closed on eBay to make sure I was paying a fair price.  Here's what I discovered:

Can anyone spot the problem?  Yeah... Topps dropped the ball and mislabeled all of these as 1/1's.  Thankfully my buddy isn't in the business of ripping off his friends... and gave me a full refund.

But how many of these have exchanged hands over the past six years with the buyers thinking they were owning a one of a kind collectible?  Sure these recently closed auction prices aren't going to ruin anyone financially, but you gotta wonder if anyone spent over $14.19 back in 2009.

C'mon Topps!  I've been loyal to your company for over three decades.  You can't be making these rookie mistakes.

First you give us vague descriptions on your game used memorabilia card COA's... and now you're giving collectors who pull this particular card the idea that they're holding onto a rare 1/1 card.  Not cool bro.  Not cool.

Well... that's it for today.  I hope all of you are enjoying the holidays.  Happy Thursday and sayonara!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Life Lesson @ the Flea Market

A missed opportunity.  An idiotic mistake.  A vintage collection hijacking.  One event can be interpreted in a variety of ways.

Personally... I choose to view my experience at the flea market on Sunday as a life lesson.

The tale begins at my local flea market that many describe as ghetto, dirty, and full of junk.  I've been off for over a week and hadn't reached my daily steps goal once.  So I forced myself to get up and walk around the flea market in 30ยบ weather.

There were more vendors than I expected, but definitely less than average due to the holiday weekend.  I found one guy who had a ton of old Becketts and some boxes of baseball cards.  After a few minutes of digging through his stuff, I found a 1968 Topps Game insert of Willie Mays in pretty nice condition.  However... as soon as the guy told me he wanted $20, I knew that we weren't in the same ballpark.

About halfway through, I noticed a guy sifting through a huge stack of 1975 Topps Minis.  He had several stacks of vintage piled up in front of him and I was a little bummed out that I hadn't gotten there earlier.  Not wanted to crowd him and disrupt his find, I turned around and noticed a stack of 9-pocket pages.

It was like a dream come true.  There were tons of off conditioned late 60's to mid 70's hall of famers.  My heart immediately started racing.  I decided to play it cool and grab the top page to get and idea of what the vendor was going to want.  He took a few seconds and came back with $5/page.

Within those handful of seconds, the other guy who was flipping through the 75 Minis had stood up and grabbed the stack of 9-pocket pages right from under my nose.  I was so upset with myself for not holding the whole stack, that I didn't even bother saying anything to the gentleman.  And to be honest, this isn't exactly the type of place where people call dibs on things.  Bottom line is I dropped the ball and missed out on a huge opportunity.

I turned around, gave the vendor a five dollar bill, and walked away with this 9-pocket page:

I realize that I was able to add some cool Aarons and Clementes to my collection for a really good price and I'm happy about that.

However... I've gotta be honest.  It's been two days and I'm still a little perturbed about the whole situation.  Part of it has to do with the fact that I lost out on some cool vintage cards.  And I'm a little surprised that a person would grab an item he knew somebody else was inquiring about without blinking an eye.  But most of it has to do with the way I handled the situation.

I shouldn't have left that stack on the crate and I probably should have at least told the guy politely that I was still looking at those pages.  Oh well.  Like I said earlier in this post... let's just call this whole awkward situation a life lesson.

Happy Tuesday and sayonara!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

So Many Oddballs

If you enjoy oddball issues, then this post is for you.  I've had a soft spot pretty much since I started collecting in the early 80's and they're still one of my favorite things to collect to this very day.

Do you remember when card companies would put cards on the bottom of their boxes back in the 80's and 90's?  I remember asking the manager at the local pharmacy if I could have his empty 1986 Topps baseball boxes.  Can't remember exactly when the fad died off, but Topps produced this sweet box bottom back in 2005:

From what I can tell, they're almost identical to the pack issued cards except for the missing gold foil.

Kudos to whoever at Topps decided to create a Team Japan box bottom... although I find it interesting that they left Ichiro out.  No biggie.  At least they included Hideo.

Let's head back into the 90's.  There were so many cool oddballs to collect during that decade.  One of my favorites were promo and preview cards, like this Hideo Nomo:

1997 Bowman's Best International

This card is technically an insert card out of 1997 Bowman baseball, but is sometimes referred to as a preview card.

Another cool 90's oddball are Pinnacle Inside cans:

RC Cola produced some cans with baseball players on them in the 70's.  Pinnacle borrowed their idea and replaced the soda with a pack of cards.  They even produced gold parallel cans for collectors to chase.  

The downside?  These cool looking cans are awesome for player and team collectors, but unfortunately... they take up more space than a standard trading card.

Donruss also jumped in on the "metal" bandwagon and produced some very cool tins when they released Donruss Preferred back in the late 90's:

Not only were the tins metal... Donruss actually produced a limited amount of cards made from precious metals.  I've never actually seen any of these in person, but they sell for a decent dime on eBay.

Another oddball issue I'd like to share with you are the oversized Donruss Studio cards:

When I say oversized, I'm not talking about 3x5's, 4x6's, or 5x7's.  We're talking HUGE here.  Each pack of these baseball, hockey, and football cards contained two 8x10's and are great for 'graphing.

Speaking of autographs...  

1998 Studio Autographs #3

In 1998, Donruss created a special autographed insert set that included three young stars: Travis Lee, Todd Helton, and Ben Grieve.

And wrapping up this oddball post is another oversized set...

Upper Deck went through a phase where they were creating postcard sized box toppers, promotional cards, and specialty sets back in the 90's.  This 1999 Gatorade set was one of them.

So, what about you...

Are you into oddballs?  If so, what are some of your favorite issues?

A special shout out to Dennis over at Too Many Verlanders... who sent me a huge box of awesome sports memorabilia that spans several decades and goes well beyond your standard issue base card.

In addition to all of the oddballs you've seen in this post, he also included some inserts, parallels, and even a memorabilia card for a bunch of my collections:

2010 Topps Peak Performance Relics #KJ

Thank you Dennis for this amazing holiday care package!  I have a special shoe box where I set aside any extra Detroit Tigers and Michigan Wolverine cards especially for you.

Happy holidays everyone... and sayonara!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Cardboard Christmas Tree

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, thy ornaments are sparkling:

Yes.  This is my actual 2015 Christmas tree.

Imagine opening a blaster box of 2015 Topps Update and finding a shiny, die-cut Christmas tree ornament.  Some of you would be excited.  Others would be intrigued.  While I'm guessing the vast majority of collectors would probably scratch their heads wondering the connection between baseball and the December holiday.

Okay.  Maybe I'm projecting my personal feelings... but that's exactly what I was thinking when I first laid eyes on these inserts many, many years ago... back when a company called Pacific flooded the market with sports cards that always seemed to feature an excessive amount of gold foil and plenty of rainbow colored foil parallels for player collectors to chase.

They were essentially the Liberace of trading card card companies... which wasn't exactly my cup of tea back in their production years.

However over time, I've learned to appreciate their creativity and ingenuity.  It definitely took some outside-of-the-box thinking when they decided to produce a card set centered around collectors and the internet (1998 Pacific Online).  They also produced several bilingual trading card products, which I personally think was way ahead of its time.

But getting back to the point of this post... they were the only company brave enough to create cards that could also be used as Christmas tree ornaments:

To Mike Cramer and Pacific Trading Cards... I tip my Santa cap to you guys.

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and sayonara!

Extra Innings

Oh... and here are a few additional facts about this cool insert set to go along with that egg nog you're sipping:

1.  Pacific originally issued these ornament inserts in their 1999 Pacific Prisms football and 1999-00 Pacific Revolution hockey products.

2.  Another set of football ornaments was produced in 2000 for their Revolution product line, but unfortunately... they left hockey fans ornament-less.

3.  Baseball fans also have two different sets to chase.  The one pictured above is from their 2000 Pacific flagship product, which I was able to find on eBay for $15 (+ $2.22 shipping) back in March.

4.  In 2001, Pacific expanded the baseball checklist and produced twenty-four ornaments for collectors to decorate their tree.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Force is Strong with this One

JediJeff strikes back.  This time he targeted my San Diego Padres, Japanese ballplayers, and San Jose Sharks PC's.

Let's start with this shiny, numbered Tony Gwynn out of 2015 Panini Prizm:

2015 Panini Prizm Red #168 (#'d 004/125)

I receive my fair share of Mr. Padres from my fellow cardboard comrades and 97% of the time, they're duplicates.  I guess that's part of the game when you've been collecting this one guy for close to three decades.

However Jeff must have used one of his jedi mind tricks on me, because he only sent me one Gwynn and it's one that I don't own.  In fact... there were no duplicates in his entire PWE.

Next up is this game used jersey card of Kazuo Matsui:

2008 Upper Deck X Memorabilia #KM

This card represents the 6th memorabilia card of the 1998 NPB MVP in my collection.  Here's a neat piece of trivia for Matsui fans.  Kaz is not related to Hideki, but is the only player in MLB history to hit a home run in his first plate appearance during his first three seasons.

Not bad for a guy who only hit 32 home runs during his entire MLB career.

Moving along... here's a card of Phil Nevin.  Now that's a name I've not heard in a long time.  Long time.

2002 UD Ballpark Idols Player's Club Jerseys #PN

I think it's because I blocked him from my memory.  You would too if you knew how much I spent on one of his Signature Rookies autographs back in 1994.

Wrapping things up is a guy I Love to Hate:

2003/04 Pacific Main Attractions #13

But I'm not going to complain whenever I have the opportunity to add a new card to my San Jose Sharks' insert/parallel binder.

Thanks Jeff for this awesome holiday care package!  Don't worry... I haven't forgotten about your prize package.  I'll get it shipped out sometime in January.

Happy holidays and sayonara!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Very Special Portfolio

During my last trip to the wholesalers, I picked up one of these Ultra Pro 9-Pocket Collector's Portfolios:

For those who aren't familiar with these, they're essentially a folder that includes ten 9-pocket pages and it's perfect for smaller collections that contain less than 90 cards.  I ended up buying three of them for under $10 with one being used for my TTM autographs and another for my pocket schedule collection.

The final one is going to house some of my favorite, random cool cards that bring a smile to my face every time I see them.  You know the kind I'm talking about.

Cards with guys blowing bubblegum bubbles...

Colorful chickens...

Voluptuous blondes...

Famous comedians...

Guys who wear vests and are married to hot women...

The less famous twin brother...

Gifted bloggers...

Amazing action shots...

Bloody faces...

Middle fingers...

Awesome artwork...

Ghostly images...

Astonishing afros...

Pinch runners...

And vertically challenged guys who wear glasses...

This special portfolio will sort of be a work in progress... with me adding cards whenever I'm able to find them at reasonable prices (preferably dime boxes).  However I don't have a problem with spending up to a few bucks if the card is truly worthy of being in the collection.

And every now and then... maybe I'll get lucky and land some freebies.  For example... let's look at some sweet custom cards created by Gavin over at Baseball Card Breakdown.

This card is one of the coolest things I've ever received in a care package.  This card reminds me of one of those Baseball Card Vandals creations... only this one is better, because it doubles as a Christmas tree ornament.

Next up are a pair of Sandlot movie card customs...

Gavin didn't take any shortcuts in creating this card.  It's so good, that he actually had to include a disclaimer in Benny's biography.

About a year ago, I purchased the 20th Anniversary copy of The Sandlot on DVD and it came with a special trading card set.  Unfortunately... they left out the cute lifeguard from he pool scene:

But thanks to Gavin... that's no longer a problem.

Last, but certainly not least is this custom 1 of 1 Tony Gwynn card:

Like the LaMarr Hoyt... this card is special on so many levels.  It features my all-time favorite player.  My name is actually featured among several bloggers who admire Mr. Padre.  And the fact that this was actually hand crafted by one of our very own cardboard brethren... makes this the newest addition to my Very Special Portfolio.

Thanks Gavin for this awesome collection of custom cards.  They will be forever treasured in my special binder that houses all of the cards featured in this post.

Happy holidays and sayonara!