Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Beam Me Up, Scotty

I've been half-heartedly looking for this card for a long time. I knew I would find it, but I had no way to know which card it would actually be:
I think you can probably connect this card to the title of this post. Unless, perhaps, you are also too young to not understand the reference when a bald guy says "Make it so."

That's Strike-Out King Mark Reynolds starring on this card as he is about to be whisked aboard the USS Enterprise, from back in the days when he played for the Diamondbacks. Reynolds surfaced on First Base in Milwaukee this year, another marcher in the long parade of nothing at the position for them, outside of the years it was manned by someone named Cecil, or the son of someone named Cecil. Lately the ennui of that carousel is even affecting the guy just across the chalk line attempting to guide the players from the Coaches Box, as they told their 1B Coach to hit the road recently. Though when you think about it, how you can screw up relaying signs from the home dug-out to right-handed hitters bad enough to get fired? What else does a First Base Coach even do?

But I digress. I'm sure you're not surprised. Of course, this is actually a David Eckstein card, and the last thing I ever want to collect, or one of the oh so many such things these days, is David Eckstein cards. The man who seemingly single-handedly destroyed my beloved Tigers during the only World Series this century where they managed to win a single game. It's not easy watching your team being beaten by a guy who is only 5' 7" tall. When Jose Altuve finally achieves his Free Agent freedom from Houston and does this to your team in some future World Series somewhere, you'll know what I mean.

So I like how the 60th Anniversary Diamond Parallel is soooooo sparkly and shiny with lots of shiny colors, too, and you are starting to wonder just what Reynolds will say to Captain Kirk when he meets him, that you forget all about David Eckstein on this card. Well done, Topps. Or, perhaps, Scotty picked the wrong guy, though by 2010 it was too late for Scotty to fix things for me. Unless he activated some sort of time-space flux distortion field….the Enterprise was always good for messing around with Time. Maybe there's hope for the 2006 Tigers yet.

I hope to find more of these cards. Normally the baseball players that get sent to some bizarre tale in outer cheese-fi movies all in the mind of some demented baseball card collector, well they are much more anonymous, as on another recent acquisition:
Though I must admit that lurking Pirate center fielder is pretty much completely amorphous on the regular issue base card as well.

Other times, Scotty can't seem to lock onto just one baseball player amongst all the oh, the humanity on a baseball card, and their baseball kidnapping victim has to stay in another mundane baseball game watched by the Topps photographer:

And then still other times, no matter how much Spock re-modulates the tri-corder or Jeordi re-configures the deflector array (writing a Star Trek episode must be the easiest thing ever - when the characters get painted into a plot corner, you can just make up new technology to solve their problems), they absolutely can not seem to even detect an Umpire, who I guess have pretty much always seemed to be fairly impervious to modern technology:
Maybe after this season and the success of instant re-play, they should try again.

Now I must confess I have been a bad blogger and I haven't even perused my ever increasing stacks of these cards for the best examples of these. Which has many reasons - my collection of recent cards that I actually have access to as I type, is in an extreme state of disarray as I prepare it for hibernation again in the coming off-season, and I select cards to finally beam-up to COMC and make all that ripping the last several years be a little more worthwhile. And thus I will soon have some more trade list pages for you to peruse over there to your right. So I did happen to have all my Lineage inserts and parallels sitting around when the wonderful Mark Reynolds Beam-Up card showed up recently. Err, the David Eck .. no, screw it. Hands down, the best Mark Reynolds card evah.

And I have had all this fun tonight with just a baker's dozen of these diamonds at hand, while declining to share a totally faaaaahbulous example of a Diamond Tatooine Card, because that would be the wrong parallel universe for this post, and I'm saving that up for a possible homage to a Legend of Cardboard. 

Imagine what I could do with hundreds of these things sitting around. Oh yes, I can imagine that….

Sometimes, these cards don't make me wander off into my relatively minor affair with sci-fi make believe. I've never actually watched all the episodes of Star Trek (I heard that gasp from the hardcore Trekkies that wandered in here at random). I did that on purpose as I watched friends obsess over the whole deal, so I could always enjoy the idea of catching an episode I've never seen before, knowing this TV show would be "on" the entire rest of my life. And now more than ever I suppose, when I could summon the complete checklist of episodes with just a few clicks on the track-pad and check off all the missing boxes whenever I wish.

So please don't think I will be wandering off into the many worlds of cards with aliens on them (though I do pull the very best ones from some of the stacks I do have), nor will I be getting into ordering up printed Customs like this one:
With that one, I am content to enjoy a cribbed digital version from this neat-O blog: http://metsfantasycards.blogspot.com

These Diamond Anniversay cards don't always whisper "sci-fi" to me because sometimes, they are  straight-up magnificent baseball cards:
And this from a collector who's just not that into Chrome, or Rainbows (despite building a Rainbow Set, go figure) or especially anything Bowman, where this kind of stuff is all the rave,  though I know I probably I like these because I like actual Rave accessories quite a bit. Sometimes Ooohhh, Shiny + Hall of Fame just simply works.

As I sort my acquisitions of the last several years I have reached one conclusion about these chimerical diamonds of relaxation, and that is: I'm keeping all the ones I have. I had thought I could make a wicked cool looking binder page of the very best ones. Then I thought what the hey, I could make a couple three of those pages. I mean, with 2011 Series 1, Series 2, Update, and Lineage, I would have 1,190 of these to pick from. But soon I realized what would be coming….something to do with that COMC credit left over the glorious day I finish the Rainbow Sea Turtle project. A way to help all my fellow bloggers who have their own little stacks of these, quietly curling their way towards making the stack fall over, who could instead send them to me for safe-keeping, and proper straightness training bound up properly, in an Ultra-Pro Platinum binder page.

Yes, there have been a few things I have found useful in life I learned watching Star Trek. Such as this one:

Collect Long, and Complete

Friday, October 17, 2014


So is a reprint of an oddball still an oddball?

I'd say Yes.

This is another fun little piece I picked up at the LCS a few days ago. It was even a freebie, as I had already committed to relieving the owner of some other items by giving him real money for stuff no one else hardly wants - junk wax. It might be awhile before you see that junk, because I have a fun construction project to complete before showing it off.

The other reason it was free was the fine print there along the lower left corner of the image, which reads "C.C.C. Reprint - 1988", which was certainly nice enough of the reprint company to include, back in the 80s.

Of course, perhaps this isn't a true oddball, as eBay searches for these items work better if you use the word "Postcard." But this is is still a baseball picture card then, methinks, even if not issued by T.C.G. Co.

Originals will set you back hundreds of dollars, but these reprints are just a buck or so, before shipping. Or free at your Friendly Local Card Shop, perhaps.

This item came with one other helpful item I had thought to work into a post along with it, but when I learned tonight that the first game of the World Series won't be played until next Tuesday - over 100 hours away! - I figured I'd better get on the wire and drum up some baseball entertainment to tide you (and me) over. So the bonus item will have to wait.

OK, OK, now let's get to the subject at hand here on this promotional type postcard: HOME RUN DERBY.

It's the 21st century now, and any product of all of human creativity, ever, can be summoned in seconds:

This was a delightful find for me. I don't live with a super-deluxe Cable TV package. In fact I hardly watch TV at all, which is especially true now that baseball has completely disappeared from broadcast TV, as it has moved to Fox Sport1 rather than regular over-the-air Fox stations. No more Game of the Week. Boo!

Thus even at home baseball is mostly an audio experience for me. Tonight I listened to the final NLCS game on the San Francisco station, courtesy of my phone rather than atmospheric bounce of the powerful AM stations I would use when I was a kid. And thus I got to hear the great broadcaster John Miller call the top of the 9th, 2 outs, bases loaded. Taveras hits it back to the mound and "Affeldt races to the bag. Touchdown!"

So I still thoroughly enjoy baseball on the radio. But I do also like to see what baseball looks like, which is where baseball cards come in.

But I could not resist the call of this baseball postcard, and I was rewarded with the 24 minutes of baseball sort of history embedded just above there. That video is of the Hank Aaron vs Al Kaline episode of the Home Run Derby TV Show, and it was an enjoyable 24 minutes. Aaron and Kaline were particularly pithy analyzing each other's swing  - I could instantly see what they meant. This is something I do lose just listening to games on the radio. It was just so cool to listen to these Hall of Fame players talk at all, back in 1959, still in their 20s. My baseball cards sure don't talk, well at least not out loud.

All the rest of the details on this show can be similarly summoned in just seconds; heck if you look through the settings on your computer long enough you'll discover that the last operating system upgrade you did probably added Siri-style voice recognition even to most PCs now. So you can just say Home Run Derby TV Show Wikipedia entry out loud and get all the answers to your questions quite quickly.

Episode 1 features Willie Mays vs Mickey Mantle:

I mean how cool is that?

Actually, I think watching too much of these would wear you down pretty quickly, they have been broadcast a fair bit already on ESPN Classic over the years, so some of you might have already fallen asleep now. This is just black & white baseball shot live with just a couple cameras, no instant replay, and isn't actually a baseball game of course.

I also learned that there was a Wrigley Field in Los Angeles, and if you've ever seen a classic baseball movie shot in black & white, it was probably filmed there.

The things you learn from these baseball picture cards...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


There is of course a wide variety of baseball player picture memorabilia products out there. One of my favorites is probably the most overlooked in this oh-so-grown-up now "hobby" -


Yes, Dave, stickers make me pretty happy too.

These stickers I picked up the other day do that especially well. These are the 1990 edition from Topps, perhaps their most unique sticker set.

I haven't assembled a collection with representatives of every year that Topps made these, though I can see my baseball player picture collecting tastes will lead me to that point.

So I'm not positive that these are the only dual image stickers issued (they are perforated in the middle and that is two stickers there, on a single backing piece we'll get too shortly). 

I have a stronger suspicion that this might be the only set of stickers that recall the design of the Topps baseball cards that year. Normally with Topps stickers, you get either a white border for all of them, or a combo of Red for the AL players and Blue for the NL players. With special exceptions for the All-Stars, most years. 

But in this case, I find this design much superior to the usual choices from 1 Whitehall Street. And by that I mean also superior to the base card design that year. One day last season I buried my thoughts on 1990 Topps in a long wordy word post about 2013 Archives, and then added to those thoughts in the comments after a smart comment from the Night Owl. He thought 1990 = Lichtenstein, I think 1990 = Mondrian. These stickers definitely support the latter, though you can't argue against connecting the dots to Lichtenstein (no, not the country, click around and learn something), either. I prefer these stickers to the baseball cards because Topps exercises restraint on how many colors they add to the frame, rather than just seemingly randomly rainbow-ing up the entire frame the way they did on so many 1990 cards. And they are still color-coded by League, even with this touch of Art on a 5¢ sticker.

I have always liked the variety of baseball picture card tropes in most Topps products, and this sticker set is no exception. Up there on the first one on to the scanner, we've got a sweet shot of Ozzie Smith, In Action, probably about to smack a pitch left up too high in the zone, it looks like. And I always like a Smiling Card. Or sticker.

Let's see what other baseball card archetypes I can find on these tiny (2" x 1.5") baseball player picture products:
Here we get a nice Batting Cage shot of Andres Thomas, while Melido Perez gets a nice Leg Kick pic as he pitches in some extra-empty weekday game somewhere. Who? Yeah, me neither, though when I cheated via today's online checklists, I did discover that Thomas was a former Topps All-Star Rookie (on those terrible wood-grain cards in 1987, which is why I probably forgot him), and I think Topps always kept those players on their checklists ever after. 

You may wonder why there would be a Topps baseball memorabilia product that doesn't identify the player in the picture (not even on the back of the sticker), which is pretty rare in the world of Topps, though I have always liked their occasional such efforts. Keep in mind that these are designed to be put in the official Topps album each year, where the player's name would probably be printed clearly underneath the empty frame where we are supposed to stick the sticker.

And there are plenty of other classic baseball photo styles:
That's Ivan Calderon hanging out in the dug-out showing off his snazzy red batting gloves. A young John Smoltz is not impressed. Dug-Out cards catch everyone's eye, but I have an eye for certain other things on my baseball picture deals:
Light-towers! Clouds! Storm clouds, at that. Nice stuff. What's up with Kent Hrbek growing a beard and Denny Martinez shaving off his mustache though? No silly, that is Jeff Reardon there on the left, and Craig Worthington on the right, the last sticker # in this set, as it turns out.

Did I finally pull an All-Star sticker there with the special blue star (for an AL guy? actually, all the little stars are blue, even for the AL), while Topps has fun using every part of the color wheel their printing machine had that year.

No, the All-Star players are on their usual special Foil stickers:
Though I appreciate the rare fielding shot for an All-Star baseball player picture thingie, I find the 1990 All-Star sticker effort a little …. meh …. even with all those stars, in part because the foil washes out the wonderful color present in the rest of the set. (Shades of the mmm, shiny baseball card products to come in the rest of the decade, and decades ever after, I guess.) The AL All-Stars get the same exact colors and stars, except theirs are on the left of the frame. Though the All-Stars do get their own complete 3" x 2" sticker.

So what is going on back there with Craig Worthington's special blue star? The answer is another possibly unique feature of this set - the presence of the Topps All-Star Rookies, though without the Rookie Cup, or the statue. Worthington made the team at Third Base, after belting 15 Home Runs in 1989, easily his peak year in the majors. Perhaps the sticker album noted his Topps AS Rookie selection, I don't know.

I like how the All-Star Rookie all-the-colors border somehow leads to his neighbor's frame getting an extra boost as well, as on this likely example of the ultimate Star Power sticker in this set:


Imagine pulling that combo the year after Griffey Jr. rookie-card mania. I'm sure the set constructor back in Brooklyn grinned with delight pasting up that one. And no one had to cheat with their album or some computer checklist to figure out those two guys, even though as I mentioned, they aren't named on the back.

So what was on the back? Let's take a look:
More Boom! Check it out kids, you get two stickers on the front, and a baseball card on the back!

And I get to type this again: Miiiinnnnnnnnnniiiiiiiii!

Maybe one of the most unknown mini sets Topps has ever made. The 1990 Superstar Checklist included 66 players, evenly split between the AL and NL, and of course with a special entry for the Checklist sticker card, #67.

I probably won't chase and binder this esoteric mini set with my snazzy new mini card binder pages, as I've never liked baseball picture cards that strip out just the baseball player from the original image; again this foreshadows what was to come in the world of baseball cards the rest of the decade and beyond. Though now that I think about it, perhaps I'll just binder up all the pitchers in this set...

I picked the Langston card to show you due to that cool stat there. Amidst space for only 5 stats, Topps included SHO (shutout), a neat illustration of how the game has changed even in just 24 years. I thought it was amazing this year when Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello pitched sequential shutouts, surely one of the more remarkable pitching performances of the season. 2014 baseball cards no longer even list CG for complete games, and I have to wonder how long it will be before Complete Game shut-outs might get their own special highlight card, they are so rare these days.

Even in 1990 though, a Closer makes this short checklist. I pulled Baltimore Oriole Gregg Olson, who instead of SHO, gets his 1989 SV (saves) stat listed = 27. Another illustration of the game changing over time; though Topps used to issue "Leading Firemen" cards even in the 1970s, I wouldn't expect to see a reliever on any of their special short checklists before this.

Some things never change though, when it comes to special checklist construction:
Yes, in 1990 any modestly successful stat line as a starter for the Chicago Cubs made the player beloved nationwide, though I should note that Dunston did make the NL All-Star team in 1990 for his second and final time.

But did the card back match the front? Nope, that wouldn't be possible with 67 card backs and 164 card fronts (I would expect some double-printed backs). Here is the front, i.e. the sticker, affixed to SuperStar Fred McGriff's entry in that mini checklist:
So, no, that is not the front of SuperStar Mark Langston' card, but it is a nice regulation baseball player image of Langston pitching at Wrigley, I think, nearing the end of the Powder Blue era by this point. I can not determine why some non-All-Stars got full size stickers all by themselves….what Topps set would be complete without some mysteries?

I do like all the ones I pulled, including this one:
That's Ellis Burks, batting as the shadows creep down from the Upper Deck. Apropos today, a day of two shadowed games in Kansas City and San Francisco. I again like how the scanner highlights the shaded portions of the image better than the actual card, err, sticker does.

Unfortunately I only pulled four of those full size / mini stickers (so far…), and only have one more baseball pose to share with you, though I don't have a cheeky name for it:
Yes, Jay Howell, you are correct to have some obvious disbelief here: Fred Lynn is not a Pitcher! I hope the runner was out at Home, at least. One of the more unique fielding shots I have ever discovered.

One of the best things about this little baseball memory acquisition at the LCS the other day is revealed on the wrapper:
What that might be? This was one heckuva deal for only a quarter, still today. Having an appreciation for the Junk Wax era (with real wax, still), can make for some cheap entertainment these days; I spent a whole buck on four packs. I picked up some other cool cheap stuff along with these that I will be sharing with you some other night.

This wrapper also delights me, because, Yeah I Save the Wrappers too. And this is one of the best wrappers I have ever found from the world of Topps Chewing Gum. I poked around the web and even tried the usual best possible reference for questions about all the miscellany on Topps packaging, the excellent Topps Archives blog. I didn't find anything about what feels like the first time I have ever seen this:
Ever the punsters at Topps. Perhaps these things really are designed for children.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I can't collect modern archive styles...

…without collecting the original:

Had a very nice visit to my not-that-local card shop (65 mile drive) yesterday. It was the best possible day to visit the LCS.

The day the new cards come in?

Nope. The day the owner of the shop had just purchased a new random collection that no one had looked through yet!

I pulled the above treasure immediately. Two bucks, out the door - though I found some other wonderful treasures to share with you soon, though not the ones I walked in for, as the new Stadium Club was all sold out and the new Update wasn't in yet (in the LCS round of the playoffs….Topps slips more and more on this each passing year). And now as you are reading this, I will be scanning some of the wonderful replacement treasures I found….

As I mentioned the other day, 1972 is one of my favorite designs. Unfortunately, I haven't really collected the originals very seriously and own just a handful of them. I could change that with just a few clicks of a mouse of course, and I might some day. But until that day I'll just pick up 72s when I run across them. I could have just asked my friendly local card shop owner right there on the spot and I'm sure he could have got me started with 100 commons for a carefully calculated price of "ahh, those would book at twenty, so how about eight bucks?" Maybe next time.

The shop I picked this up at hasn't been in my FLCS review series, but it will soon. There is actually a shop ahead of it on my list.

Such a pick-up this card was. When I was young, my first baseball memories are from 1975. Living in the mountains of West Virginia, I pulled for the Pirates in the National League due to their minor league team being the only baseball team in the double-U-V, and the Red Sox because my mom's best-neighbor-lady-friend was from Massachusetts. And she was the only grown-up I knew who had enough of an interest in baseball to comment on the sport, which was good enough for me.

Of course, 1975 is an epic year in Red Sox history, even though it was a bit of an off year for Yaz. I'm sure I'll return to 1975 on this blog plenty. I didn't know or care that Carl didn't produce as normally that year. He was YAZ. Last winner of the Triple Crown, all that.

Right now would be the time to pull out my first Carl Yastrzemski card, but my vintage collection is still locked in it's storage unit prison. (Stupid work).

So I could only show this one. I would have purchased it regardless, and it is definitely now the A #1 1972 baseball card that I own, but it also fits in with another collection I've been occasionally building a little pile of, that I will now add to my blog index: A Tree On My Baseball Card?

This card has a glorious lurking Tree there in the background amidst other miscellaneously dark, threatening shrubbery; a pity that 1971 camera technology didn't dial it into focus the way modern equipment would have. (We are so spoiled these days). I'm thinking a solid specimen of Southern Yellow Pine somewhere there in Winter Haven, though even with a very intimate knowledge of the three Pines that get lumped in to the generic Southern Yellow Pine name, I can't be 100% sure it is actually a Pine.

The one thing I struggle with while making some mini collections is whether a card should go in the set it came from, or only in the mini-collection, or whether I should just set aside an extra copy of it in that little pile.

Hmmmm, looks like I will have to be keeping an eye out for another one of these tell-tale psychedelic green-orange-yellow Sox…...

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Baseball Card Therapy #2

Hello there. Don't be alarmed by the title…the pets here are fine, and life is pretty good. You probably wouldn't believe how good the trout fishing was right there at the end of the season last week, but that's another hobby.

Work though, has been annoying as all get out. My actual jobs are great and I thoroughly enjoy them. The clients though……

Which is of course one reason baseball cards are so great. Just relaxing little picture cards, full of nice calm numbers on the back. Whatever is happening in life, baseball cards won't let you down, well, unless you are desperate to pull a "hit" card by purchasing them retail. But if that is your collecting, err, speculating style, well, I won't be much help.

So when I got home from yet another work excursion (my career is almost as incompatible with baseball card collecting and baseball card blogging as perhaps over-the-road trucking would be), I reached immediately for some baseball cards. 

Aside from working on the ever ongoing Sea Turtle parallel project, I have also been dedicating my available baseball card time to preparing my piles of baseball cards for the long term. Some will hopefully get headed towards sale via COMC (probably still a few weeks out), and some need to be placed in binders….
And yes this means I can finally type….


Though I didn't want to use that in the post title and steal just totally everything from the Night Owl. That scan there, definitely owes him something as yes, that is a page of minis in the new binder pages from Ultra•Pro for these cards. And he certainly helped push them into making this obviously needed product in the baseball card world.

I love 1972 style cards. One of my favorite designs after 1975, 1953, and 1956, and, well, maybe I'll rank them all some day, but probably not. But 1972, oh yes. Sadly, at the age of 5 I was not yet buying baseball cards in 1972, and I haven't made any effort to acquire many of my very own original 1972 cards. Until the rise of internet card sales, that was always a scary idea for me. Expensive, not completely simple to do through the mail unless buying a whole set, and there just aren't many card shows (i.e. none) in a county with only 20,000 people living in it.

So when I saw the 1972 style mini in my first pack of 2013 Topps Series One, I knew I would be collecting all of them.

That is a pretty good Mike Trout card there, a nice On-Deck Card it looks like, with plenty of baseball context viewable on-card with the stadium behind him. Quite striking amidst the other 8 seemingly now standard action shots cropped to the torso, which generally blurs the background, on his page.

Now I love the card design, the Psychedelic Tombstone I've read it described as (probably at the Night Owl blog, again), and it turns out these new versions scan really well - probably more vivid in the scans than real life. When the green cards pop this much, I even like the non-harmony of green cards for 'red' teams. Seems fitting for these.

On this page I love the gleam of Adrian Gonzalez's helmet there, and I can still tell Chris Sale was photographed in Detroit, even on a cropped down mini card. Topps prints so many cards shot in Detroit I'm starting to think about looking into who the Detroit based photog for those might be. I also like seeing Rizzo in the Cubs alternate home uniform, complete with National League shoulder patch. Cubs cards next season might be quite varied - they sported 9 different one day alternate / throwback unis this past season.

Page 2 of these cards also shows some downside to the new mini pages. Every time you move the page, the cards go for a ride in the pockets. And doubling them quickly reveals the other card hiding behind the front you are looking at. OCD collectors will struggle with these pages, but for me, they are fine, I just like to look at pretty baseball cards.

This third page makes me wonder if Jose Reyes throws like a girl - professional shortstops in the Women's Fast Pitch Softball league probably do throw better than he does.

That's an interesting dug-out shot of Ryan Braun there, he's sporting a pink armband probably from Stand up to Cancer day in MLB. But his inclusion in this little insert set again makes me wonder why suspended players get baseball cards but we can't have any new Pete Rose cards.

The Dickey card reveals that Topps in no way attempted to use the Heritage approach on these cards, with mimicked poses from the original set. R.A. has two other regular size 13 cards featuring a nearly identically zoomed/cropped photo as this one.
These cards did arrive before A-Rod's eventual suspension of course, and I have to admit I like his card here. Nice shades, and is a nice reminder that the new Yankee stadium tips it's architectural cap to the previous edition.

I like the leg kickin' Cliff Lee card here … it was only with the scanner's help I've noticed it's a card shot in the late afternoon, which I usually like and have a small pile of, waiting for the ever precious free time to be bindered, scanned, and blogged. There are several Night Cards in this set, and though none are all that memorable with this much crop/zoom, they do stand out because there are so few in the base card set these were inserted with.
Here with the sudden change in the checklist from a nearly alphabetic one (by home city name, including 'Anaheim' for those ever mysterious Angels), to a run of Superstars of the past, we reach the end of tonight's blog post.

That is indicated by the Gio Gonzalez card back peeking out at us. The backs of these are authentic to the '72 style, complete with a trivia question on each one. I read some of them; the best one was answered by that card to the right of Gio's back-side - Who was the last ROY to make the HOF? Yes, baseball card prospectors might shudder with the answer - 1982's Rookie-of-the-Year Cal Ripken, Jr.

For the most part though, it is just too hard to squint out from under my glasses (Old Man Need Bi-Focals could easily be inside my next fortune cookie) to read the back of a mini baseball card. Which at least made for an easy decision on whether to keep 9 or 18 cards on each page of these.

But I'm drawing to a close here because this set is not complete, and the Series 2 checklist has even more holes. The missing card there is #44, Nolan Ryan.

My needs list from the Series 2 run of these is:

51 Griffey Jr., 56 Wright, 62 O'Neill, 78 R.A. Dickey (again?), 82 Sheffield, 83 Mattingly, 86 Brett, 89 Middlebrooks, 94 Ortiz, 99 Ozzie Smith

And since I'm typing up lists of cards in hopes you might have one for me, I should note that I am about a similar amount short of the '71 minis from Update. I hadn't thought to collect them at first, and indeed even shipped a few out that I now need. But I bought so much Update chasing the parallels that I had pretty close to a set of those, and they too look pretty good on a binder page. I do need:

2 Ruth, 10 Votto, 12 McCutchen, 15 Kershaw, 21 Kinsler, 26 Rivera, 27 Musial, 28 Bench, 31 Puig, 33 Posey, 36 King Felix, 39 Stanton, 40 Garciaparra, 41 Cespedes, 44 Myers, 47 Mattingly

I do have a nice little stack of these cards to trade, and I look forward to scanning the rest of the pages for you. The blog will likely stay in semi-regular mode as I continue to work on nice permanent binders of cards for the future … but the ever increasing hours of darkness this time of year mean I can only work but so much, hopefully giving me a bit more time to hang out with y'all in the weeks ahead.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Beguiling Binder Pages #9 and #10

I think. The last time I tried to count them I got 7. Now I'm adding two pages but I count ten in the snazzy permanent binder I have for them. You'll have to wait for the end of the project to see it though.

I'm not sure why I can no longer count to ten correctly. I called a re-do on that pesky page I assembled with a Wal•Mart blue version of Kevin Millwood that was just all wrong, but I think I posted it once already. But that one is not part of the ten finished pages.

I'll probably change the #s again next time I finish a page. Sigh. Meanwhile...
…a couple new items on this page. The center slot is anchored by a Sapphire, that's Luis Ayala there. 

I like the Sapphire Foil cards that were released across all 3 Series when Update came out. I don't much care for the fact that they are in an edition of /25. The popular Hope Diamond parallel in 2011 released similarly, was printed /60.

But of course today, collectors and Topps customers prefer expensive cards and yaddayaddayadda, you've read it all before.

I like the Sapphire Foil, except of course I won't use a blue Sea Turtle for one. I discovered the other day that an Athletic Sapphire Sea Turtle doesn't contrast enough to look that great in the project either.

And I'm glad I pulled that Ayala Sapphire myself. His 2012 Update card is probably my Card of the Year for 2012. What, you missed that post? Yeah, well, I'll get around to that one some day. 2015 perhaps.

What was the other new card here on page 9? Not a new parallel, but the first card I've shown that will be part of an interesting side collection developing out of this project.

The Sea Turtle swims aside to reveal a Starship Enterprise Card:
Some of the horizontal cards on certain teams on the Blue Sparkle wrapper redemption cards, and the Emerald Foil cards, have this certain printing error. How could I resist? In the project they go, even though a Mariner Blue Sparkle is a bit less-than-ideal for the project. I'll be putting together a neato nine of these cards for a separate page, if there are 9 of them, though I'm not sure about that yet.

I might need a third copy of this card for another project for which this card includes an example. I found a great, great such card on ebay the other day for fifty cents and I think you'll see it soon. I'm pretty darn sure I can win that auction.

I also like page #9 because it is only the second from Series One that I have finished. I think the lucky Ayala pack pull occurred after acquiring the Pink Dolis and the Camo Garcia, so I didn't need a third low /# parallel with Johnny Cueto conveniently showing up on the Opening Day Blue Foil. And thus probably my first page without a cheap retail Target Red parallel. Such diversity will certainly help the eye appeal when I am flipping through the completed project in the year 2025.

So on to page #10:
Another dramatic page for me, because it's the one that started it all, somewhat. My first purchase of 2013 Series One was a Hobby Jumbo box from which I pulled the black /62 of Izturis there.

What should I do with it, I wondered? And wondered. And wondered. And read card blogs. And put cards in binders. And worked on the still easily available 2012 Update simultaneously. From which parallels poured out of, since I usually shopped for cards at Wal•Mart and Target. As I was haunting those stores all over eastern North Carolina that winter hoping to find left-over 2011 Update with that confounded Mike Trout RC I still needed and refused to buy as a single.

I'm still pretty sure the chance acquisition of many Emerald Foil editions of St. Louis Cardinals cards like the Furcal on this page somehow made the Christmas-in-February lightbulb come on in my head.
Which somehow led to the Eureka! moment for this project, and a way to use that Izturis card in my collection for all eternity.

I lost track of what was the keystone card here. I think it was the Scott Hairston card there in the center slot…I think I was holding out for a Blue Sparkle version of that one, because the Mets cards look fantastic on that parallel, especially when there is great contrast in the background with infield dirt.

But the Orioles also look fantastic with their eye popping orange home uniforms amidst all those sparkles, and Endy Chavez was patiently waiting. So I think I finally relented and pulled Hairston from the Emerald reserves and declared this page done.

I suspect that when I get my COMC account up and selling with all the extra cards I have laying around (and writing this post is delaying that process yet again…), I will pick up a Sparkly Hariston and an Emerald Chaves and rotate them onto public display once in a while.

Because no good Art Gallery can afford to keep all of it's treasures out on the walls at the same time, can it?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Cards Never Stop

Well hello there. Figured I should stop by the ole watering hole and make sure the bartenders still remember my face well enough to get that extra twist of the wrist when they pour my drink.

Err, wait. Wrong hobby? No, if I haven't had time to blog about baseball cards I surely haven't had time to stop by a bar. Ahh well. Work is good…except sometimes when you have too much of it.

I have been enjoying the game of baseball, and my baseball cards when I can, but I've been trying to make myself catch up on card projects _before_ blogging, rather than rambling on about cards with y'all and then never bothering to deal with all those little stacks of cards.

And I've been working on my main collecting project a fair bit in my limited card time. I realized that with the Sea Turtles now being marked down to their lowest possible prices, people have been ripping them again. And yeah, well, I've picked up a few of those 40% off deals too. And it seems my careful eBay feed for the various 2013 cards I want has been pretty active. I also think I should probably get going on the cards I need, now, instead of 3 years from now when I'm sure the "2013 Topps parallel" feed will be purty slow.

And and and oh let's see a card already:
Yay! A smiling card! I smile when I play with my baseball cards. I hope you do to. This was my first card of Heritage last spring, I figured it was a good omen. My team, and a Smiling Card. No, I'm not thinking to binder up all my Smiling Cards, although now that I type that up...
Hey, he's not smiling. But I do wonder if these might be two of the largest "Floating Head" cards ever made. I think you would need a pair of medical calipers to figure it out though. 

I scanned the Heritage base card selections that caught my eye way back there in Spring Training. You know, back when it was thought the Rays might battle the Red Sox for a certain position in the AL East. Last? I've had these scans just sitting on the laptop all these months, waiting till you got bored with Series 2, so I could put a little color back in your baseball card life. 

I used my little mobile scanner that leaves that line on the side of each scan. I'll probably go back to cell phone pictures for road blogging in the future, when I don't have the home scanner advantage. Just pretend you are looking at gem mint fresh pack pulled cards. Use your imagination. I do.

I always like it when Spring Training sneaks on to baseball cards these days. Of course, most of this set is shot in Spring Training, a part of baseball cards for a very long time. Now though teams frequently have special uniform pieces in Spring Training, like this one:
I Google Imaged "Mariners Baseball Cards" and the first several hundred didn't have this cap. Neither did the first 100 or so on COMC. This one will go in my "Look Ma, I'm Wearing That Special Cap" collection with the cards with the Maple Leaf caps the Jays wear, and all those single bird caps the Cardinals wear on Sunday. I think I will make it to 9 cards soon, and a binder page you will see.

Now before I get too deep into showing you the baseball cards that I put into my own strange little collections and you fall asleep this late at night, I'll catch you up on the rest of my baseball card news, which is two items.

I started another 2013 collection: the Topps Chrome XFractors. I am at 45% to start, and I'll try and have some fun with scanning them sometime and post a list, etc. Maybe. Another big work project starts in a few days. So before you give away that neglected pile of cards from that one blaster of Topps Chrome you bought last year, and especially not from that just one more blaster you bought that yielded up 3 Xfractors instead of 2, hit me up.

I also wrote a long letter to Topps. I kind of want to share it with you fine folks, but it wasn't a long screed of complaints. Just a few complaints. Mostly I told them all the obvious ways they could get more of my money. I don't know how that works, and I doubt I will ever hear from them. I'll just say that if you see a baseball card with that sweet blue bus the Brooklyn Dodgers were tooling around in back in Jackie Robinson's day, as seen in the movie "42", well, you can thank me then.

The Blue Bus … is calling us … back to the cards:
But I already shot the bolt on Dodgers cards for this post, I think. This might be the blue-est card left in the scans though. And another one for my New Respect set, which is my working title for a set of cards where you can see a player wearing the Cross. Cross Cards just doesn't seem to have the proper amount of, well, respect. I am still impressed with these cards, an image I can't remember seeing on cards from the 70s and 80s, though I suspect they were there, once in a while.

Of course, every era of baseball cards since the 60s has had Official® Rookie Cards, made more official these days by the official RC logo. Except in Heritage, where perhaps these Rookie Cards aren't of official rookies:
Maybe this is because these players aren't even official Rookies this year, as recent September call-ups I think they won't use up their Official Rookie status until next year. And really, one has to wonder how Topps picks Rookies in Heritage. Every Bowman-addicted collector is right now screaming Springer! Singleton! Appel! Correa! Buxton! Bryant! Ok, well, Bowman addicts probably don't read this blog, and well, I'm not sure they even care which team a prospect plays for, as long as they sign with New York or the Cubs some day.

Sometimes though Topps does get the Heritage Rookies right:
Back in Spring Training, that was a power packed Rookie Card, though still no RC logo, so this will never be their official Rookie Card I guess. Their Series One cards did have the logo. Oh, the mysteries of Topps. Perhaps some day in a tight AL East pennant race this time of year, this card will be remembered fondly by someone who will give me a dime for it, instead of only a nickel.

This year in Heritage, I found one more notable Rookie Card:
Double Cloud Card! Sunset Cloud Card. Me likey. Fortunately, I know Topps won't let their precious Spring Training posed shot go to waste, so these will get repeated in some other set of cards somewhere soon.

What else did I find in my baseball cards this spring? A flashback card. Several of them:
Hey that's not a Flashback card! For me it is. That is what I would call a Tautological Card, or a card which is tautological. Another new baseball card archetype, for me at least, I think. It gives me a flashback to a University class called Theory of Algebra, which finally and permanently ended my enjoyment of mathematics, and is where I learned what the word "Tautological" means, though not very much else. It was a math class with only three numbers involved - 0 (if that is actually a number, which this class put into doubt), 1, and -1. And lots of the infinity symbol and Greek letters. I can still vividly recall reviving with too much Vivarin, pulling a true, watch-the-sun-come-up-before-the-8am-Final all-nighter trying to learn the mysteries of Algebraic Theory, which seemed in the final analysis to be that the world develops a very interesting vibration when you chase too many caffeine pills with an open tap of Mountain Dew.

Now I have that to deal with when I open a pack of baseball cards:
So what the heck is a Tautological baseball card, as in, just what is it? I'll just say you don't want to end up in a number-less math class, and that I enjoyed the second part of the definition I refreshed my memories with, which mentions it being considered "a fault of style." I didn't know math had a style, but you don't generally expect to use adjectives with math then either. Maybe the peeps at Topps have had too much math also, so they gave up one last Tautology:
Though my road scanner certainly doesn't help you find the logic on that one. But it does feature Cool Gear. I like distinct baseball gear on my baseball cards, like this one:
Blue laces! Cool. Almost as cool as this guy's glove:
Except, wait, "Louisville" should be on the bats I thought, and this shot of his Cool Blue glove doesn't have the magic words some of his other cards do. You'll have to look for those on your homework assignment on your own card sorting time, though my flashbacks tell me that is a worthwhile pursuit.

And Heritage does have actual Flashback cards, and flashbacks in baseball cards can sometimes be magnificent:
Boo-Yah! Scanners and pictures probably can't do this card justice, and is the reason we buy the cards to hold in our hands rather than just look at them digitally, though I hear money was actually made on digital cards from Topps Bunt this year. Real money, for electronic baseball cards.

Those certainly don't blow my mind the way I suspect the above card would have had it been issued in 1965. I think it would possibly be one of the icons of the hobby, seeing a horizontal action card a full six years before the Thurman Munson card changed everything. It's just intense, and spooky, like this one:
I also enjoy daydreaming about what it would have been like to see this come out of a pack of baseball cards in 1965. Mommy, can we leave the light on tonight at bed-time? I think that Russian satellite is flying over us again tonight.

I might have to discover what else is in this little set, because Topps is on a roll so far:
First 'baseball' card with someone's tongue sticking out? Probably not, I would imagine some upstart young card company probably did that back in the 90s, when they had to dream up something, anything to put on all those damn baseball cards made back then.

But Topps never lets me down with their always brilliant insert sets as I'm sure you know:
That's certainly the visual image I have of Beatlemania at Shea Stadium. Not. So maybe I won't chase the rest of these, though I do still need that Rolling Stones Flashback, hint hint. Rolling Stones Flashbacks are always interesting, trust me.

So now we've wandered off into football and pictures of records (records? really?) though I thought I just heard him say Shea Stadium. Baseball was played there, I believe, and, why here's a baseball player in, I believe, Shea Stadium now:

And though this guy plays for the team that played there, I have to wonder if he was born before it was torn down:
I sometimes suspect that pitchers in particular might appreciate their Heritage cards more than their recent Flaship cards which generally show their not-so-flattering Pitcher Face:
Or, perhaps not:

Dunno what happened there Jeremy, and maybe neither does Topps. It could be that I've been out in the sun too long. Not like you.

And then perhaps I suspect that Topps still just has it in for some players:

Hey there, hold on a second….that Heritage card isn't a posed shot out back of some Spring Training facility. It's a baseball player … In Action! An Action Image Variation! Score! Valuable Baseball Card, whoop-whoop, I know I'm gonna make it to the bigs some day opening these packs of lottery tickets, err baseball cards.

Except of course it isn't. Only some players get special Action Image sorta-short-prints worth a whole three dollars or so. Other times, Topps just throws an action image in their otherwise all-posed historically accurate set. I guess just because they can. They're Topps. Or perhaps because by the time these cards came out, Topps forgot what team Ricky was on last spring.
Be that as it may, Heritage is also somewhat known for showing us more hat-less images than any other set of baseball cards, as per history and accuracy I guess. Still though, you would think an experienced veteran like Lance Berkman would remember to shave the day Topps comes to Spring Training:
Though perhaps he wasn't completely planning to ride off onto his final, sunset baseball card back in the spring of 2013.

Fortunately I have discovered an excellent trope on Heritage cards:
Heritage is probably the best set to keep tabs on the regular team shoulder patches the players wear, with these close-ups. I will be building a set of them, for the teams that wear them (and thus a strange set for me - no Tigers card), but I might need your help, dear Reader, in the years to come because Topps sure didn't pick up on what was happening in the rest of the country in the colorful second half of the 1960s, and I have few plans to buy much Heritage after this year.

But I gots me some good ones this year:
I think I might hope for a better example of that one on less of a diagonal in other Heritage sets. I've always liked that patch.
Hey, wait, who do these guys play for again? I'm not sure I will be able to remember.

This one will be a memory-maker though:
Snake tongues in a masoleum. Not a combination I expect to celebrate the game of baseball with.
So the players change uniforms before they change Spring Training fields? Huhh, I did not know that.

I do know that Topps really, really needs to instruct their photographers to switch places with the baseball players when they take these photos every spring. I don't care if there is some dumb suburb behind the photog in these shots. Just get us some new backgrounds on these baseball cards already! That's pretty much exactly how I wrote it in that letter to Topps.

I'm particularly tired of this image, though I guess playing an MLB career in front of the New York City media might actually feel like playing in a prison:
And why is this guy in baseball cards this year anyway? If I can't get any more Pete Rose cards again, ever, including never getting the ultimate Superman card that someone should really make, why A-Rod this year? A year's suspension should include baseball cards.

So while we're wandering baseball card archetypes and complaining a bunch, let's move on.

Now there is a famous image from baseball card sets past. Every ace should have one of these in their Topps oeuvre. This one even has a nice really mini image of the MLB logo. I wonder if there is a little white baseball on that baseball? There is another homework assignment for you baseball card nuts, it's getting late here at the Base.

I also like cards that are red, white, and blue. And a black glove? Yes.

I'm OK with several of these cards in a set. They have that sense of heritage. Well, usually.

Ahh, it's just a catcher. Cut off half of his hand and part of the cool Rays patch. No one cares about light-hitting catchers or Tampa Bay Rays or proper photo-cropping techniques or base cards in general. Do they?

There is one card (or probably more, I don't have the set complete yet, nor even the time to type in my want list for you to hook me up with my remaining needs) with an image you would definitely not see on a baseball card in 1965.

It's just a guy posed on a Spring Training ball-field, like the other 498 cards in the set, right? Well, even today you wouldn't see this on Yankees card. I'm sure that if anything, in Oakland Jeff might have grown that mullet even longer.

My favorite part of this card is the back, amongst which I found little else to share with you from this set. No, I Did Not Read All The Backs, this go-round. Heritage backs are generally too terse to hold much interest. But I liked this card-back anyway.
This one has a nifty cartoon, one of the best in the set — I did check out a lot of those; for your third homework assignment I suggest going back 5 cards from this one for another nice illustration of where a Home Run goes. But what I like about this long-hair's card-back is the Hero #, of a sort. It's truly a pity Samardzija wasn't included in the 100 card refractor checklist, which then would have had a # of THC-420. I'll wager right now that Everth Cabrera will get this card # next year.

Now the final standard baseball card set ingredient I could think of to babble about is the World Series cards, I almost always like those. Last year's Series had a couple memorable oddball game-endings, and Topps saluted at least one of them. (I think I still need some of the other WS cards). As you can tell from this post, I like sorting my baseball cards in oddball ways. Now, perhaps, we have the very first baseball card that can be definitively, positively be labelled as one of those well-known Oddball cards: