Wednesday, April 10, 2024

A 23 year wait...

Opening Day had nothing on today. I have been waiting for this day since I first discovered the Baseball Card product known as "Heritage," the very first year it existed. It took me all of about ten minutes, way back then, to start thinking about today.

That's because, like so many of this day's very happy 50-something Baseball Card collectors, the very first complete pack of Baseball Cards I ever purchased was a pack of 1975 Topps. 

I often wonder that if I had first opened a pack of 1974 Topps, or 1976 Topps, would I love Baseball Cards quite as much? I will never be sure. I just know that 1975 Topps is my favorite set of Baseball Cards and always will be.

The big day started with the appearance of this nifty graphic on -

Coincidence? I think not.

I have never written very much about 1975 Topps, nor can I often spend a few delightful minutes perusing the ever fabulous 1975 Topps blog --- the web creation which first led me to this wonderful world of Baseball Card blogs, for which I am forever grateful.

The reason I can't read or write that much about my favorite set of Baseball Cards is that I'm not sure if I still own my 2/3 complete original collection of 1975 Topps. It might still exist, or it might have been stolen. It's a bit of a long story that I have occasionally "written" in my head, but have never committed it to pixels. If it wasn't stolen, it is in my father's basement, which looks like that shot at the end of the first Indiana Jones movie, where the Ark of the Covenant is wheeled into a random spot in a huge government warehouse.

That warehouse known as my Dad's basement does need to be cleaned out, but it is not a task I can really begin, just yet. If I attempt to move an item from that basement basically way, way over-full of near worthless junk, it sparks an argument - with an ever-so-slowly-spiraling-into-Goodbye dementia patient.

Which is just not something I am going to interject into an already plenty difficult process. The whole situation was of course heavy on my mind today, as it often is, with an extra emphasis on the Schrödinger's-Cat-like status of my beloved 1975 Topps. But I have known all my life that writing about things that wander around in my brain is one of my best ways to get them to slowly stop wandering. So, today is the day to get that started. I will work on the catharsis again later this year and maybe sneak into that basement, finally. There will be cards involved, I promise.

Hopefully, like this one:

Upon entering the Baseball Card store where I am still working away from home, I was quickly at ease when I saw the small stack of 2024 Heritage boxes still available. I was nervous about a potential sellout of these all day long while working, which just dragged and dragged, as I'm sure it did for all 1975 Topps enthusiasts.

I was also happy to discover I had time to shop, so I decided to celebrate this wonderful day  by picking up some original 1975 Topps. Just in case? With the Leflore card, I know I have never owned one before as my family moved to Michigan 2 years after 1975 and I then became a Tigers fan and very familiar with Ron LeFlore. There is quite an intriguing backdrop on that otherwise classic Topps photo location - hopefully this new 1975 process will make it a little easier for me to go to the just exactly perfect place to learn all about that one.

Next I worked on a brand new super slo-mo collecting effort - 

My 2nd 1956. What a great day!

And after a while I was able to remember a player that has a slowly growing stack of $1 box cards somewhere on my ever distant Baseball Card desk:

An impulse purchase all the way; he gets nice cards even on that brand I don't even collect. And it is nice to see the Pirates (a big favorite of 8 year old Base Set) finally have an every day starter in their middle infield.

Then I fell into a big 1975 flashback -

This is a must have 1975 Topps card, of course. I did own one of these when I was a kid and it was a very memorable acquistion - it arrived in the mail, not in a pack. Somehow back then I discovered a pen pal service in some sort of small print b&w ad, probably in the Sporting News. That first pen pal contact sent me a little flip book of people with their addresses and the teams they collected, which you could add to and then send it along to someone else. The little flip book led me to a wonderful pen pal in northern California who was collecting the Giants while divesting the A's; a bit of jealousy there, perhaps. She was a fun pen pal for a while; she sent me a fat envelope of Oakland A's cards, including that Reggie Jackson.

1970s Social Media was so kind and sweet - have long wondered if any card bloggers have memories of those Baseball Card themed circulating flip books?

So, yeah, the Maguffin in my Baseball Card dreams these last 23 years was finally mine:

I did already know the cover "star" - the first change from the original I guess, in that the player on the original box wasn't selected for his star quality but rather the great quality of the photograph used for it. Of course I like the photo recreation as I have loved that image all my life. 

I am just decidedly not a fan of Gerrit Cole. Sure it wasn't his fault he couldn't stay in Pittsburgh, but afterwards he has just never seemed, Nice. I could be wrong. Maybe we could be bros out Steelhead fishing and he would be wonderful company, I dunno. I have just never warmed up to his vibe. And now I have to live with a Yankees cap on my most anticipated box of Baseball Cards in, like, forever, basically. Let's open it up -

sad trombone

Man I hated to see this. Example # I-can't-count-that-high of Topps being 100% completely oblivious to the simplest things about Baseball Card esthetics. I'm referring of course to that stamp. I have long concluded that Topps probably doesn't actually control where the stamps go - some rando at the printing plant does it. One who could obviously care not a whit (nor have any wits) about the 2.5"x3.5" works of Art that I love so much.

And just wait till you see where they put the serial # stamping on the serial #'d cards...something I accidentally saw a few days ago when I wasn't being careful enough about my long-time aversion to seeing Baseball Cards from someone else's packs before I can open mine. After all I was fully aware of what these cards would look like - but once I saw the x/xyz stamp on one, online, I shut down online Baseball Carding until I could finally open this 23 years of Treasure and find my first 1975 Topps Baseball Card, all over again:


This created a reaction that was the complete opposite of what I was thinking about all those years: I reached for an electronic device. Was this going to be a Rookie who never breaks double digits in any baseball stat, like the RC I pulled from Series One who has 0 AB in MLB and now looks unlikely to ever get an official At Bat? After 23 years?

This instant need for an electronic device was because of the back -

Which is both strangely authentic - a wax stain card! Just like in 1975! And completely useless - I can't read this. The photograph improves this tremendously, compared to in-hand. And the entire box of cards is like this. Maybe an upside down picture of the back of the pack illustrates this a little better:

Maybe tomorrow in full sunshine, or, err, after a big 3 day rain blows past us, eventually I might be able to read these card backs. Or maybe my next box of these cards won't be so frustrating in this regard - I watched my regular LCS break a whole case tonight, and from what I could tell the cards in that case weren't this crazy dark. Neither are most of my low # short prints; I can read those OK.

As it turns out, Kyle Harrison is an actual every day Baseball player for the Giants this year - a Starting Pitcher, even. Which is kind of above average for the dizzying blur of RC logo cards that appear in my hands whenever I open a pack of 21st Century Baseball Cards. And he appears to be standing in some authentic San Francisco fog - neat. I will now be noticing his name whenever he appears in MLB, so, pitch long, and prosper, Kyle Harrison. Please.

My next card was a big part of my 1975/2024 dreams - an All-Star card with the correct big fat Star on it. But I am not going to post any more cards from this set, tonight. Later this year I'm sure I will assemble some delightful 9 card detour side collections in this, and all kinds of neat gimcrackery I can bloggle about with you. For now, though, I want you to discover what these cards look like, the old fashioned way - by ripping a pack!

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Christmas is great and all, but if you collect Baseball Cards, then, nomsayn?

Am working out on the road again but fortunately today finds me in a town with a Baseball Card store. And although they had already sold "several cases" of boxes before I arrived earlier this evening, I was the first purchaser of a regular ole pack of Baseball Cards.

I resisted temptation to rip the pack in the store, somehow, for some reason. Maybe I wanted a more comfortable chair before I discovered what random scrub, errr, uhh "common" I would forever connect to the 2024 Topps Baseball set and then have to follow around in my packs of cards for 2-3 more years until their inevitable unknown card in Update, letting you know that their career had fizzled but not before one more try with their 2nd or 3rd team you never knew they had been traded to. I always just hope it is a player from a Central Division team, in either League, so there would be some better than even chance I hear their name called on my old time old guy radio broadcast some random evening this coming summer.

Every year I attempt one singular goal with the Topps Baseball set: I try diligently to not see an image of the cards until — Today. This year was a partial FAIL in that a banner ad on the Internet suggested I would enjoy the "Neon" as seen on the top of the card. So that probably definitive feature was known to me already, but the rest of the card was not, so I had just, some, design anticipation left for First Card, 2024 Topps Baseball:

Heckz Yeahz!!

A memorable set of Baseball Cards to be sure.

One that is rapidly making me forget several recent sets - well done! And I type that after opening just one whole pack of Baseball Cards - 12 cards, this year, at least in Hobby boxes.

I like basically everything, here. Clean, elegant, no frilly stuff thrown on there just because frilly stuff can always be thrown onto a Baseball Card design, whether that is well advised, or not. And usually, it is not. 

The Neon. Yes. 

Team logo, player name, and thankfully a readable Position indicator, all crisp and to the point, but without any pointy bits pointlessly pointing at things. Player Name in Italics, it appears. Nice. A partial black border, so card quality nutz can have their fun hunting up cards with absolutely positively no hint of chipping. But also a mostly white border, so color parallels will look purdy, too. And the image wrapped in a perfectly minimalist inner-frame adding team color to The Neon. 

This pack of Baseball Cards will have to be served up to your eyes via iPhone camera. Best I can do. Hope it works ok for the back, man, we gotta see the back -

Another quality effort. A nice looking stat bar, with a little segmentation-innovation. A nod to the front of the card with the circle element around the team icon. Many elements that are centered - pleasing. 

One demerit on this particular card: Topps can never figure out that white-on-yellow just doesn't usually work, and this one struggles, in-hand, but is improved by taking a picture of it. Nor does yellow-on-white. A topic of a future post. But I don't expect there will be too many cards with yellow on the back, as few teams ever have that selected as their Team Color by Topps.

One amusing feature of this card back: somehow, Topps still knows which side of the plate each Pitcher will bat from. Just in case, I guess, so you can be prepared for the possibility. Devin Williams Bats: Right. Anything can happen, in the game of Baseball.

One sad demerit on this particular card back: Topps quotes "teammate" Corbin Burnes on this one, who will be pitching for the Orioles in 2024. Rebuild time in Milwaukee, which will probably make this extra-memorable First Card yet more memorable at the Trade Deadline in 2025. Probably for the best, methinks, but never a fun process to start, particularly for the fans who are fans every year. Onwards:

A 'dandruff' card. One of those cards where the digital photography capturing on-field dirt flying around makes you wonder if your shampoo is actually working as advertised. 

And how about that compression sleeve? A super early contestant for Most Style on Baseball Card, 2024. 

No yellow on the back of this card, sensibly enough; everything in yellow on the Devin Williams card is blue on this one. And it only took 2 cards to find a classic Topps compound stat: "In 2023, CJ became just the 10th shortstop to post a season with at least 15 homers and 40 steals." I know you can't wait to discover who will become SS #11 to accomplish this, even though you already forgot who the 9th one was. Let's learn more Baseball -

Ahh, only took till my 3rd card of the year to get a Rookie Card card. What a relief. And surprise, surprise, it's another Rookie Middle Infielder for the Pirates. I think Pittsburgh must have a rule lately that only Rookies can play 2B or SS, at least according to my Baseball Cards the last so many years. It also sometimes seems to be a rule that Topps does not like to buy photographs from the dale of Pittsburgh; I think the Pirates might easily lead the leagues in players shown in their road uniforms on Topps products. Topps does, however, still like Throwbacks:

Not the most memorable look at Atlanta's classic 70s garb but quite apropos for 2023's National League Leader in Home Runs; yes League Leaders are still in Italics (and red ink). This is card #350 by the way, the final card in Series One and a first indicator that maybe Hero #s are in use this year. And here comes another Topps like -

If a player has long hair, they will get a base-running card more seasons than not. And what's up with "Reds" not being printed in the color red? Buckle up kids, The Neon is full of surprises:

Blue Phillies? It is their secondary color, usually. This card is just making me want to rip some more packs, cuz this electric blue will look so coool with Philadelphia's Powder Blue uniforms. And that's what Baseball Card design is supposed to do: make you want more Baseball Cards. Like this one -

When these bold prediction cards work out in terms of the player truly becoming a Star, in the Future, these 2024 Future Stars cards will be the Shizzle. And ooooohhh, Shiny might be even more dazzling in 2024 Topps Neon Chrome. They already make pretty darn nice Rookie Cards:

What's not to like? I feel so modern. There could be some dots that could be connected to the font selected for The Neon, and what decade that might bring to mind, but I pretty much can't think of the dots. I am just living in the year 2024 on these cards, not the past. And that's a great thing. Even the players seem happy with The Neon up there, right Andy -

First Tigers Card!

This was a sweet pull - this is also Ibáñez' First Tigers Card after a tough career in Topps Baseball so far. He started out with the Rangers, and in typical Topps Texas coverage, they forgot to grant Andy the coveted RC logo on his First Topps Card in 2022 Series Two. He then moved on to the Tigers, where in typical Topps Detroit coverage, he didn't receive a card despite a 2.0 WAR season in over 100 games for the Tigs last year. 

I don't know just what the heck that thing is hanging from his thumb there, but I am glad to get a new Tiger's new Tiger Baseball Card, every time. Go, Neon!

Or, something. That there is a 2024 Rainbow Foil card. Seems like a great concept, Neon + Foil, but methinks this one needs some good ole time Summer sunshine to really shine. And is my official one-per-pack "insert" I guess, in this Hobby pack. 

This may or may not be Joey Votto's last Topps Baseball card; at press time Votto had just invoked a classic Dylan Thomas poem on the X/Twitter to indicate his desire to play, somewhere, in 2024. Could go either way, I suppose. This is, however, quite certainly Votto's last Topps Baseball Reds card, so is a "Team Sunset" card if you wish. Fittingly, it is card #19 — are we headed towards Uniform Hero #s, a la 2013 Topps Baseball? Let's flip another card over:

Who is Enmanuel Valdez? Not even Topps Card Back Writer seems to know much.

And why is he card #300? The mysteries, the mysteries. I do like one thing I see on this card back: Valdez achieved a perfect 0.0 WAR figure for the 2023 season. I have been thinking about making up a set of, naturally, 9 such perfect players - the WAR Heroes. Neither good, nor bad. These 2024 cards look so nice on the fronts...

...that I think this is the year I will finally do it. Welcome to The Show, Enmanuel.

Sometimes, a First Pack is as memorable for the last card as the first. This was one of those packs -

A worthy entry in my very modest Salvador Perez collection, which is probably already too large for just one Nifty Nine page, so I likely need a 2nd copy of this one. Cuz it looks like this set will be going into some binder pages, and I'm thinking I need some more groceries, tomorrow night, so....

Saturday, February 3, 2024

You need old Jazz to make new Jazz


I love listening to Jazz. Much like enjoying Baseball Cards, I figure Jazz will reliably entertain me basically forever. And as with the subject of this blog, an essential part of enjoying it is knowing the history of the art form. If you find Jazz a little perplexing but you would like to figure it out a little better, I can definitely recommend a sort-of local radio station where I live, which broadcasts Jazz every day after 10 pm Eastern, with live human DJ Lazaro Vega explaining all the new and old Jazz for you on: "Blue Lake Public Radio."

As with music history being the essential building block for musicians to make new music, the same is true in graphic design in a general sense but also on Baseball Cards in a specific sense. Recently I stumbled (my previous post here) across a new-ish Baseball Card that clearly borrowed inspiration from a famous graphic of the past. I knew I had to haves an example of it, and one arrived recently, as seen above in "extra large" detail. 

That is not the card I saw first, which was a 2022 Topps Rip mini (i.e. the cards that come out of the Ripped card) /25 Orange card featuring Derek Jeter, with a price in the high 2 figure range, iirc. Leaving aside my lack of desire to own Derek Jeter Baseball Cards, especially expensive ones, the card I saw first with this design had a different, very problematic flaw - in my opinion: the serial number was stamped on the front of the card. I have never liked seeing this on numbered cards, which seems to arrive just, occasionally, at random. I suspect a random employee at the printing plant determines when this will happen, randomly - who knows?

When I went to the ever useful resource that knows Everything® to figure out what set the Jeter card was from, I made the unhappy discovery that every single version of the card, across 7 or 8 different colors of parallels, all had the serial number stamped on the front. 

But I also made a happy discovery: every card on the checklist has an "image variation" without any color parallel, and no serial number stamped on the front, or the back. A strategy by Topps to make the short printed variations more mysterious, I guess?

So when I continued on down this particular rabbit hole, the natural next step was checking eBay, which illuminated another handy thing about these cards: not all of them are for superstars. And thus, some of them are quite affordable - just a couple-three dollars and one could be mine. 

Even better, one of the cards available that day was for a player for whom I now have a modest Player Collection: Jazz Chisholm Jr.

Now collectors never know which Topps employee designs which card, but I wouldn't be surprised if the same Card Designer first tried out this inspiration-theme in 2021 Gallery:

This was an insert set I admired in a basic sense for "going-for-it" somewhat with a simple colorful design, though it never quite inspired me to put together even 9 of them. I liked the more pleasingly colorful Bo Bichette card from the checklist much better than this Soto card that I pulled first and have a digi image more quickly available. This design also seems to have a further descendent in Topps Cosmic Chrome sets, perhaps. Those have eluded my collecting effort, so far, or I would comparison one up for you right here.

That Soto card there has the key word clue for where that Jazz Chisholm mini clearly pays homage:

Which of course has been heavily re-used by graphic designers for many decades, though I can't recall any nods to it in the world of Baseball Cards, before this one; here is the Chisholm card again -
That's the mini version of the scan, I guess. Back up at the top of this post on the extra large version you can clearly see how Jazz' left shoe says "Road" on it, probably a handy aid for the team's equipment manager; have never seen that on a Baseball Card before. Of course I also quite like that it is almost a Powder Blue shoe; the Marlins have some stealthy connections to that soothing 70s Baseball paint scheme we might see here on the blog some future day.

Now of course I have a new challenge with this beautiful little Baseball Card: where do I keep it? I doubt Jazz even has 9 different mini/"cigarette" size cards yet though perhaps he is getting close. But binder pages for these cards hold 15 entries so a mini-Jazz collection probably won't work out. 

Collecting 14 more from this 100 card checklist certainly will, though; I see many more of these little Great Waves in my future.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

10 Cards from the Dollar Box / FLCS review #4

A truly wonderful thing happened in my home town a few years ago, and it is way past time for me to put up a post on this. I guess I didn't want to jinx anything but things are definitely looking great for Baseball Cards in my little ole home town of 8,000 souls. For the first time in my entire life, I have been enjoying the wonderfulness of having a Friendly Local Card Store! 

As much reflection as image I guess, but an authentic picture. Let's see the inside...

Another exciting pic, I know. But I wanted to include the key feature there - tables and chairs. That is the one thing I always most want to see in a card store as then you know you can sit down and either shop cards, or enjoy opening your brand new cards.

Shop: Up North Collectors

Where: 339 River St. Manistee, MI

Owner: Luke

Card Inventory: Just exactly perfect. The row of items on the back wall are all boxes for sale, those display cases are full of singles, and not seen in this photo is a set of shelving holding $1 boxes and team sorted $5-ish singles.

Collecting Supplies: Plentiful. Ultra•Pro for the win.

Space to Rip Your Purchases: As seen above.

Baseball Cards : other cards — about 30:70 I think. But that's - a good thing.

21st Century Survival Strategy: Basically, all of them. Luke and his father have a small but active breaking service with its own YouTube channel, are very active selling cards on eBay, and also now semi-routinely set up at card shows within moderate distances. Additionally Luke is clearly an expert not just at all varieties of sports cards, but is probably the most knowledgeable person I have ever met when it comes to gaming cards, about which I know absolutely nothing except one thing: they are a big business and running a Baseball Card store for me to enjoy immensely probably would be a lot more challenging without knowing gaming cards inside/out.

Cool Customer Service: Oh yes. Aside from routinely dispensing excellent, ethical advice while explaining cards to people all day, every day, Up North offers a wonderful service - submission of cards for grading. They get a bit of a bulk discount, passed along to you, and handle all the shipping & receiving for you - no Porch Pirates to worry about, everything insured, etc. This is a ginormous help compared to doing-it-yourself.

Memorable Quote #1: "Oh I hit my number at the casino last night, so I figured I would put it into cards for fun." — A couple months back I watched someone sequentially rip 3 full boxes of Topps Chrome Update, hoping for hits. It was pretty cool to see the whole product at once like that, and a lot of cards I would just never see in-person, otherwise.

Memorable Quote #2: "Damn, another Pitcher Auto." — Same guy as above who did indeed hit a relatively unknown Rookie Pitcher for every single autographed card he pulled.

Treasure Wistfully Not Obtained: Every time I am in this store I see something I would like to own. Today's visit showed me this card:

Which I just cribbed from COMC for you, and for me, to get a better view of it. This is a mini from inside a rip card in the "Topps Rip" product last year.

I quite like this design with a clear nod to Hokusai's immortal "Great Wave" print. Unfortunately because the vast majority of collectors care more about the value of x in the /x serial numbering of rare cards than any bit of imagery on a card, that serial number was stamped on the front of the card which really detracts from such a nice compact little bit of graphic-ness. 

There are no less than 9 different versions of that little card, each with a different production quantity - but each and every one has that serial # stamped on the front. Except one version - the probably even more extra rare "Image Variation" version which swaps out the player photograph for a different tiny photo (exciting, woo) & then drops the serial numbering to make the "Variation" more mysterious. So maybe I can score a couple of those, some day, somewhere.

Treasures Obtained: This year has been wonderful visiting Up North Collectors. They have been increasing their presence at card shows and thus have built up an excellent set of dollar and 50-cent boxes. When I get a rare day off in my very own hometown I can stop by the shop in the morning, bring in an excellent cup of coffee from the coffee shop next door, and sit down with a four-row dollar box jam-packed with random fun. I seriously doubt I could shop for Baseball Cards in a more relaxing setting; certainly not at a card show with a cup of coffee at hand and no one else waiting to see the cards. It makes for an incredible hour+ solidly inside the world of Baseball Cards - real Baseball Cards, held in my hands, not stared at on a screen, with no worries about work or elderly family or the bottomless To Do list, just, Baseball Cards.

Some of the cards in the box I could possibly attain for less than one dollar, if I very carefully shopped for them - but some I definitely could not. But I don't care; they usually cost only 75¢ when the day's bill is read off at the cash register, and I want this store to be within just a few minutes drive away from me forever and ever, basically, so I shop there whenever I can, and probably have about 100 cards purchased this way already.

So I thought I would scan ten cards from today's Dollar Box morning, selected randomly, and share them with y'all; this will make for a nice set of blog posts in the weeks ahead because you don't know what's in those dollar boxes - & neither do I. Let's take a look:

I love Pink baseball cards. They pleasantly remind me of when pink Bubble Gum came with the cards. I wish the parallel in Topps Baseball had a higher print run than /50, but that will never change. 

I used to quite like purchasing hangers of Topps Chrome with their bonus pack of 4 Pink cards, for just $12 or so. But that was olden times. These days, Chrome Pinks arrive just 2 per blaster and those blasters cost $40 where I live - & I only really want the Pink cards. Farewell, Topps Chrome.

So I might or might not put together a "set" of just 9 Pink cards each year; any more I am leaning towards "not." But I do think I will instead assemble an even easier collection: just one Pink card from Chrome every year. I already know that's what I am going to do with those goofy Sapphire versions of these very same cards. If that's what happens between me and 2023 Topps Chrome Pink, this will be the perfect card for the effort. Pink & Powder Blue - quite the combo. Show me another Baseball Card featuring Pink socks. I'll wait.

Deciding to collect any Baseball Cards I like, just 9 at a time, has really freed me to start some collections I would otherwise be far too afraid of. I would immensely enjoy completing a set of 1956 Topps, but that is simply never going to happen in my life unless maybe if I dropped all other hobbies, most particularly enjoying modern Baseball Cards as they appear, brand new, and that is simply never going to happen, either.

But I can certainly aspire to completing a purdy binder page of just 9 1956 Topps Baseball Cards, so I just bought my first one, for one whole dollar, sorta. Although, this is card #4 in the set, so we'll see what happens, later, when I win the Lottery. 

For this card though, I was happy to learn about this player, who hit .299 in 1955 - very respectable. Additionally I learned that Paula was born in Havana and thus I began to wonder about the history of Cuban baseball players; I would not have guessed they started reaching the Bigs in the mid-1950s already. I was also happy to obtain an original Washington Nationals card.

This was a less triumphant purchase but will help fill a binder slot, for a while. For the most expensive RCs, I look for a reprint to keep with all the 59 At Bat RCs around them on the checklist. I think there are other reprint versions of this card, or the "Factory Set" version, or that 3rd version, that won't have TOPPS ROOKIE HISTORY stamped on the front for no real purpose - stamp up the reprints on the back, dummies. But for now this will help keep me from forgetting why there is an empty slot in the binder, which always makes me think I need to track down yet another one of those 59 AB RCs that I forgot about, instead of forgetting that superstars have Rookie Card cards, too.

I very casually collect Topps Rookie Cup cards. By casually I mean I almost never buy them, deliberately, but soon have to order a few from 2012. So I never really thought about collecting the inaugural run of them - until today. To start out at just a buck, sure, what the

2023's "Mr. Mysterious," as I think of him. After a rookie campaign so not memorable I first learned who this player was in the first week of October, it seemed like pitching very well in the playoffs was just another whatevs for this guy. So this card's 100% nonchalant expression seemed to fit him perfectly and you can probably guess about how many 1988/2023 Topps cards I am going to collect. I always like seeing what Topps has to do with the longest team name on designs that didn't originally contend with it.

A Bowman card? There is probably no other way I would ever obtain any more Bowman Baseball Cards than this. Maybe I would try a few more of them if I could still buy "packs" of them instead of $25 mini-boxes, but the days of basically cheap hanger packs are probably never going to return.

There is a pretty good chance this might be the only "Third Baseman" Baseball Card for Torkelson, so I thought it would be neat to see a reminder of that, many years from now. Torkelson has never played a single 1/3 of an Inning at Third Base in the Major Leagues, and never will. But the Tigers thought it could happen, & on Bowman Baseball Cards, things like this do happen.

My almost-but-not-quite thinking on 2023 Topps Baseball really made me appreciate 1983 Topps all the more, so I recently decided to collect the full run of them issued in 2018. This card would only cost me 20¢ on Sportlots, which is where I will head to finish the little (150 cards) project, someday. But not today.

The modern topps logo up there should make you realize as quickly as the perfect whiteness that this is just a simple re-print. Thankfully the only thing added to the front of this 2010 card is the word topps. 

But that shoulder patch - that I had to have on a card.

Another day, another Mike Trout card. At least it's a basically brand new Mike Trout card where he doesn't look Un-happy. And there aren't too many Red, White, and Blue Mike Trout cards. So for a brief look at 1988, this will fit quite pleasingly.

More Bowman, what up? Riley Greene had one of the most disappointing Topps Baseball Rookie Cards I can recall in a minute - he looks like he just banged one straight into the ground in front of home plate and he is definitely going to be Out. 

So I decided I needed many other Riley Greene Rookie Card cards to help wash the memory of that one right a ways away from me. With my recent success at creating a page of 9 different Jazz Chisholm RCs, I realized I could easily do the same for Riley. Thanks, Bowman.

So I had such a pleasant Baseball Card day (more treasures to share with you some other evening), I can't count right, tonight. This isn't just a card showing the poor little children how to fit their Hank Aaron puzzle pieces together - it is an actual die-cut puzzle at regulation Baseball Card size of 2.5" x 3.5" which is something I can't recall ever owning before. I know somewhere I have a Clemente card showing what the Donruss puzzle pieces are supposed to look like all assembled, but that one isn't an actual working puzzle. Though this one would probably take longer to take all apart than it would to put back together. This "card" might or might not fit into a little Hank Aaron project I have on my perpetually expanding Baseball Card horizon, we'll see. But for just a buck...

...Life is good when you have a good LCS like Up North Collectors.


Saturday, January 20, 2024

1992 Redux, redacted


I quite like the 1992 Topps Baseball design. Clean, efficient, colorful. Maybe a feint ehco of Art Deco with the rounded ends on the smaller 'fader bars,' for lack of an accurate term to describe them. Nicely double framed image but with the image given permission to break that inner frame. I never did care for the weirdly pointless, stretched rectangle photo of a baseball diamond on the very plain-jane card back though.

Back at the time I did not collect this one; I was still casually working on the beautiful 1991 Topps design and 1992 was a peak summer of my touring with a famous band — Baseball Cards are eternal, so I knew I could always come back to these, if I wanted. I occasionally dream of buying a "vending box" of these, which would not be difficult. There is a massive supply of the cards and no expensive ones in that set. So, maybe, someday.

In 2017, 1992 finally made it to Archives but few noticed, probably because of some guy named Judge. I look forward to extracting that box of cards from a stack and working on those 92s — again, someday, but that day is probably closer than some attempt at doing 1992 Topps Baseball up completely right.

So in the fall of 2021 I was quite pleased to see that 1992 had been selected for the 3rd installment of these "Redux" sets after 1952 and 1965 had graced packs of S1 and S2 that year. I quickly dreamed of putting the 50 card checklist together as I was still slowly placing cards in stacks of those first two. All the sweet players were there, it seemed...
...but things got off to a very slow start as I was purchasing "hanger packs" to build up a nice stash of 2021 Update. Those yielded four of these redux cards per "pack" - so far, so good. Except I then proceeded to hit the same four cards - four times in a row. I had 16 of these cards, but really I only had 4.

Strike one on completing this checklist. Nevertheless, I persisted:
You didn't think I could let a Miggy entry on a checklist go by, did you? This would be just about the next-to-last time he appeared on an insert checklist.

By the time a checklist theme is being used in Update after previous S1/S2 efforts, things start to get a little strange, and this checklist is no exception. The Super Stars have already been added to such lists, often multiple times, as with these first 3 players, who also have 1952 and 1965 cards, as well as probably 1986 style cards that year too. I am not collecting those, unfortunately — a pet accident wiped out the beginning of that particular effort and I doubt I will re-start it.

So by Update we start seeing more B-listers:
I still quite like this card with it's always apropos combo of red, white & blue.

The KB card is one of the four that I started out with four copies of. 'round about the time I got around to creating a final want list for the 1952 cards from Series One, I started reading the 1992 checklist more closely. Any checklist in Update is going to have the most Rookie Card cards because, Mike Trout, or something. This one features about 1/3 RCs and many a FAIL there. It also has some big Stars who just simply hardly play Baseball any more (Giancarlo Stanton, Jacob DeGrom) even though they still earn millions upon millions of dollars annually anyway; and then some post-checklist-creation FAILs such as cards for Trevor Bauer and Fernando Tatis.

The whole thing started seeming more like a deliberate send-up celebration of aging All-Stars now on sad, fan-disappointing fat chunky contracts - eh, Colorado? But then there are the Naturals, in this case the basic Trinity of Super Stars who debuted in 2018, who basically make every Topps checklist, ever, just as these players seen so far did in the mid-2010s. So, I went with the concept, and paid out an entire whole Dollar for a real deal 2020s ★ all these 2010 fade-aways could orbit -
Now this train is bound for glory. I like the perfectly placed Logo Man there, and it is also nice to see Shohei without the words "State Farm" scrolling through the background for the 129th time.

I passed on adding his regular mates named Ronnie and Juan; they get plenty of binder slots elsewhere. So I went back to the glory of the '10s:
I really want to declare this one "on the bubble" and I can tell you that the Mookie Betts card on this checklist is a perfect Baseball Card, though I do not own one. But I can't cut a Bubble Gum card from a Baseball Card collection, no matter how much it bums me out to watch my very own favorite team light 23 Million Dollars on fire annually. 

Sometimes, you just gotta keep 'clectin -
Ahh, a nice Update to a nice career. This might be my only non-Pirates Cutch card to make it to my Hall of Binders, though maybe he will sneak onto another page in an Archives checklist from some other design I like, or on those nice 2018 cards, we'll see.

Who you callin' faded?

Another nice Update to close this one out, for a nice second act in a career. This was one of Arenado's first Cardinals cards; it would be nice to see him get some October playing time for a change but the Central Divisions have such an uphil climb to that concept any more.

The Result
1992 Redux