Wednesday, April 23, 2014

More '75 mystery

This is another one of those posts that is probably only of interest to me. And I don't have the time to do any real research that would make it interesting to others. Such is life. This blog really is about me, isn't it?

Anyway, a week or two ago, Chris from View From The Skybox asked me a question that made me think something that I think all the time: "where do they come up with this stuff?"

He wanted to know if cards 1-132 in the 1975 Topps mini set were more difficult to find than the other cards in the set.

I told him "no," because they haven't been. But I have heard in the past that even though the 1975 Topps set was issued all at once and not series by series, cards 1-132 were printed in smaller quantities and considered short-prints. But I always looked at that statement quizzically. Because when I was collecting in 1975, that wasn't the case at all.

I have excellent recollection of my first year of collecting cards and if I suspected any segment of the 1975 Topps set to be short-printed, it would not be the front end of the set. It would be the back end. Cards 529-660 seemed more elusive than any other group.

This isn't based on anything scientific, of course, just on my observation in 1975 of the cards I pulled and the cards my brothers and friends pulled.

So I decided to put my recollection to the test. Was I just remembering what I wanted to remember or was the back end of the set more elusive for me? I broke the set down by "series," or more accurately by checklist, which I am assuming reflects each print sheet. Cards 1-132 printed on one sheet, cards 133-264 printed on another sheet, etc.

Then, going on recall, I listed which cards I saw in 1975. Those cards had to be either in my collection or my brothers' or friends' collections. They couldn't be cards that I saw in an ad or during my trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame that year (which discounts Ralph Garr and Vida Blue, two cards that I drooled over at the Hall). These had to be cards that were actually "pulled" in 1975.

Again this isn't based on anything other than personal memory. But it will answer a question for me.

Here we go:

Cards 1-132

Cards I saw in '75, by number: 4, 5, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 32, 33, 36, 37, 38, 40, 46, 47, 51, 54, 56, 63, 64, 66, 69, 71, 72, 73, 75, 76, 77, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 86, 87, 88, 91, 92, 96, 101, 102, 103, 111, 112, 113, 114, 120, 123, 128, 129, 130

Total number I saw: 60

Percentage I saw: 45.5 percent

Cards 133-264

Cards I saw in '75, by number: 135, 140, 141, 142, 145, 146, 149, 151, 154, 155, 156, 157, 165, 167, 170, 171, 174, 178, 179, 180, 182, 183, 186, 188, 190, 191, 193, 194, 196, 198, 200, 205, 209, 212, 213, 216, 220, 222, 223, 227, 233, 237, 239, 240, 243, 245, 246, 254, 256, 258, 260

Total number I saw: 51

Percentage I saw: 38.6 percent

Already this isn't matching up with the statement that cards 1-132 are short prints

Cards 265-396

Cards I saw in '75, by number: 267, 268, 269, 270, 276, 277, 278, 279, 282, 283, 285, 287, 288, 292, 294, 296, 299, 300, 304, 306, 309, 312, 314, 316, 317, 318, 319, 320, 322, 324, 326, 327, 328, 331, 335, 339, 342, 343, 346, 348, 351, 352, 354, 358, 361, 362, 364, 365, 366, 367, 369, 371, 372, 373, 374, 376, 377, 379, 381, 385, 388, 390, 393, 396

Total number I saw: 64

Percentage I saw: 48.9 percent

Cards 397-528

Cards I saw in '75, by number: 404, 405, 409, 410, 412, 415, 416, 417, 418, 421, 425, 426, 427, 429, 431, 435, 437, 438, 439, 442, 444, 446, 448, 450, 452, 453, 454, 457, 458, 460, 461, 462, 465, 472, 473, 475, 478, 479, 481, 483, 484, 486, 487, 489, 496, 498, 500, 501, 505, 506, 507, 509, 511, 512, 519, 523, 525, 528

Total number I saw: 58

Percentage I saw: 43.9 percent

Cards 529-660

Cards I saw in '75, by number: 532, 535, 536, 541, 545, 547, 551, 552, 554, 558, 564, 568, 571, 584, 588, 590, 594, 596, 597, 598, 600, 601, 603, 604, 606, 609, 612, 620, 625, 628, 629, 637, 640, 642, 643, 645, 647, 650, 652, 653, 657, 660

Total number I saw: 42

Percentage I saw: 31.8 percent

Yup, that's what I thought.

I saw far fewer cards from the back end of the set than in any other segment.

Again, this doesn't satisfy much except my own curiosity. I'll file this under the other 1975 Topps mysteries, like that statement that 1975 minis were issued in limited quantities exclusively in Michigan and California even though I bought them in 1975 in New York.

My ultimate objective in posting this is that someone in the know -- someone from, I don't know, Topps maybe -- will confirm that cards 1-132 were short-printed or, better yet, that cards 529-660 were short-printed. Or that, yes, '75 minis were distributed in Michigan and California, but they also dropped a few boxes at a tiny corner store in Binghamton, New York, just for me.

But that's probably not going to happen.

So this will have to do.

I guess my favorite set of all-time should retain a little mystery.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Nostalgia is a drug

You've probably heard the saying "nostalgia is a drug" before. It's often used in a negative way by forward-thinking types or people who fear that others are stuck in the past and won't progress.

Perhaps I'm one of those people who is stuck in the past -- after all I am currently playing Billboard charts from the '80s on Spotify and having a wicked good time of doing it -- but I don't necessarily consider that a bad thing. Forward-thinking is necessary if you run a business. But I can't relate to people who look forward ALL THE TIME. They're annoying. It's like they're afraid of what they've been through or what's behind them or what actually is. Yes, tomorrow is another day. But sometimes yesterday is worth talking about, too, because it actually happened.

Looking fondly at the past -- as long as you are fully functioning in the present with somewhat of an eye on the future -- is a nice little exercise. And, yeah, nostalgia is a drug, but that can be a good thing, too. When I look through my old cards and remember the time when I first pulled this Greg Luzinski card and was saddened that he was no longer a Phillie, my connection to my favorite sport and my favorite hobby is strengthened yet again.

To me that's a little more productive than drinking yourself under the bar remembering for the 900th time when Bart hit the gas instead of the brake and drove through the back garage wall. I don't wallow when I look at my cards. I remember. And sometimes learn.

For me, the drug part of nostalgia comes when I see cards from my first collecting period -- basically my childhood -- that I never saw when those cards first came out.

That is one of the peak moments of collecting for me. That is addiction for me. In some ways, it's the reason why I collect. Which is why I am somewhat concerned that I am almost finished completing the 1982 Topps set.

As I said when I first announced that I was attempting to finish the '82 set, it is the last Topps set that I need to complete from my childhood collecting period, which is from 1974 to 1983.

After that set is complete, there will be no more Topps cards that set off that "oh WOW" feeling in my brain the way that only cards from this period can.

That's cutting out a big reason why I collect. And once it happens, it may have me feeling a little lost for a period.

But before I get to that bit of misery, I have some 1982 Topps cards that I received from The Card Chop. For the price of one 2014 purple chrome refractor Heritage Braves card, I received 55 cards off my 1982 Topps want list. (Those Braves fans are so silly).

Out of those 55 cards, there are several that I saw as a kid, either in other people's collections or a card that I once owned that I dealt away sometime long ago. And there are cards that I didn't see then but I've since seen on blogs.

Cards like this:

Each time I saw one of those cards for the first time, the drug kicked in and I was instantly upset that I never pulled that card back in 1982.

But fortunately the internet left a few cards for me to experience for the first time from that stack of '82s that the Chop Keeper sent me.

Here are 10 good ones:

10. Randy Bass: I once lamented on Twitter that even though Donruss, Fleer and Topps all issued Randy Bass cards in 1982, I didn't pull a single one. That's a weird thing to lament, but nostalgia makes you do weird things. Fortunately, there is only Donruss and Fleer to go.

9. Tim Raines: Raines once was a blazing fast phenom of the early '80s, not the poster child for what's wrong with the Baseball Hall of Fame selection process (there are a lot of those poster childs out there, by the way). I prefer the first version of Raines. A lot more wonder and a lot less crabbing. See? The past can be pleasant. Don't run from it.

8. Rick Manning: I believe I've mentioned before that I once stood two people away from Rick Manning on a baseball field. Yet I never talked to him. It's memories like this that will spur me on to converse with him if I ever see him again. We're both in the same business these days, after all. Sort of.

7. Doug Bair: That's some airbrushing in action right there. Topps had the benefit of the Reds being Bair's previous team. But I can spot that hand-drawn STL.

6. Amos Otis: I feel sorry for all you '80s babies. Unless you grew up in Kansas City, you'll never know what a wizard Otis was. And how fun it was to say "Amos Otis" on a daily basis

5. Oakland A's Future Stars: 1982 me is very upset that I am just finding out NOW that there was a player named Mark Budaska. Rich Bordi and Kelvin Moore had their own subsequent cards, no matter how brief their careers. But Budaska? Where ya been these last three decades?

4. Steve Carlton, In Action: Life was pretty good in 1982 when you pulled a Steve Carlton card.

3. Chris Welsh: The obvious question: Would I have been aware in 1982 that Welsh is pitching without the benefit of a right arm? Probably not. That is why the card only came to me just now, so I could know what to do with it. Which, of course, is to broadcast the photo's inadequacies across the internet.

2. Tim Stoddard: Same thing here. Would I be curious enough to wonder who Stoddard was talking to in this photo? No. But now? WHO IS IT? A scout? A team employee? A relative? A season-ticket holder? A woman who really likes ballplayers? Who?

1. Vern Ruhle: You think the Astros uniforms were spectacular then, try seeing them on a card that you are seeing for the first time. They are glorious. And, again, in 1982 I wouldn't care who the players were behind Ruhle, but now I feel like a failure because I don't know (The guy on the right appears to be wearing No. 43, which in 1980 was Ken Forsch, but in 1981, nobody on the main player roster wore it -- I don't have time to dig any more).

With these 55 cards I am now a mere four cards away from finishing the '82 set.

The nostalgic moments will be fewer after that.

But I haven't given up yet.

There is still early '80s Donruss and Fleer as well as the super fine '70s Kelloggs sets, Hostess and 1976 SSPC.

You can bet I'll be chasing those when the time comes.

See? I can look forward, too.

It's looking forward to looking backward. But, hey, that's what that drug nostalgia will do to you.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Blisters be back

I just got back from a few days off in which I went out of town.

These days, one of the requirements of an out-of-town trip is checking out the card display at the nearest Target or Walmart. You can have your cheap knicknacks from the generic tourist trinket shack, I'll take my cards, please.

This time it was Target in a very frenzied plaza that I know well. Each time I'm there, I feel like I take my life in my hands. Once, at this plaza, I was honked at, cursed at and nearly mowed over by the cutest, youngest blonde in the cutest, reddest car that you have ever seen, and I HAD THE RIGHT OF WAY. I can't even tell you what other stores are in the plaza because I'm forever watching for runaway, self-righteous vehicles.

What we do for cards.

The card aisle at this Target is not as large as the one near me. But I can count on it for different items. For example, Gypsy Queen had made its way to this Target (it's not at my hometown Target). You could buy loose packs and 3-pack fat packs of GQ if you wanted.

Of course, I am ignoring GQ because of all the ugly, so I looked around for something else, and there it was:

Three packs of 2014 Heritage in all of their blistered glory.

These are the blistered packs with the "exclusive three extra cards," which are black-bordered.

Last year, the cards were outstanding. With all that empty white space in the 1964 Topps design, Heritage could go nuts.

These ones aren't quite as great, but they're still pretty awesome.

And I have to say I selected a pretty good pack.

First was Chris Sale.

Followed by:

 Gerrit Cole. Perhaps you saw him yelling something at Carlos Gomez on TV yesterday.

And the last card:

Yay!!!! At last, a Dodger.

This is the first time I've pulled a Heritage black-border Dodger.

Last year I sorely wanted one and before I knew it, the blister packs had disappeared off the shelves. I think they were there for maybe three weeks.

I want to say I will make it my mission to do a better job of tracking down the black-border Heritage cards this year, but there are so many card tasks that I want to do better at, that I highly doubt that I'll make it a priority.

So it's a good thing I pulled the Ramirez card on the first try.

It was well worth risking my life to go to this Target.

(P.S.: Sale and Cole are already set aside for specific traders).

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Awesome night card, pt. 212

Hey! I squeezed in a post! That means I didn't pass out from all the estrogen in the room and have momentarily broken away from discussions about home decor to provide this quick ditty about a night card.

It's one of my favorites. I wrote about it in one of my introductory posts on this blog. And I've been waiting all this time to be able to add it to my night card binder.

This card also came from Dave, who was the star of my last post. I'm not sure if it's the best night card that I own, but it probably has a very tiny number next to it on one of those countdown shows (does this mean there will be a countdown of the best night cards of all-time someday? Maybe. It kind of just popped into my mind just now).

There is lots to like about this card. The play at second base. The colorful '70s uniforms. The dust flying. The ump's arms flying. Lights suspended everywhere in the background. Sheer greatness.

What makes it even better is that the play was a crucial one during Game 3 of the World Series and also features the hero of that game, Bert Campaneris. (The other players in the photo are Felix Millan making the tag, umpire Russ Goetz calling the play and shortstop Bud Harrelson backing things up).

The Mets led Game 3 by a 2-0 score since the first inning. The A's scored a run in the sixth to cut the lead in half. And that's where we pick up the action.

In the top of the eighth, Campaneris solves Tom Seaver for a base hit. With Joe Rudi at the plate, Campaneris steals second base. That is the play you see in the photo. Rudi then singles to right field to score Campaneris with the tying run.

The game would last until the 11th inning. Campaneris' single scores Ted Kubiak from second base. Campaneris is thrown out trying to stretch his single to a double. So Campaneris forced a call twice at second base in the game.

This, of course, is what makes World Series cards great, and why they should always be in Topps' sets. Moment in time. It doesn't get any better than that on cardboard.

But the greatest night card ever? I guess that's a topic for another post.


Night card binder candidate: Game 3, 1973 World Series, 1974 Topps, #474
Does it make the binder: Yes. Unfortunately, it knocks this guy out of the binder.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Going out with a bang

I've got a packed weekend and I don't know how much I'm going to be able to blog. So I better make this a good one if it's going to sit at the top of the blog for longer than usual. And by "good one" I mean lots of great cards.

So that means Dave K. jumps the card package rotation right to the front of the line. Don't get mad at him. Wait until you see the cards he sent. He deserves to go to the front. Send some cards like this and you'll go to the front of the line, too.

Dave sent a lot of stuff directly off the top of my priority list. You already saw the 1965 Topps Johnny Podres that completed the team set for me. The rest of the package was a lot set completion stuff, too. But first, let's start with some other interests:

First, here's the first card in last year's Bowman Chrome set. That's right, Bowman made Yasiel Puig card No. 1. If you look closely, you can see Mexican traffickers in the background waiting to talk to him.

This card was on my want list for like a day. That's perfect. Because I never wanted to publicly acknowledge that I wanted a card with a Cardinal pitcher getting top billing. I don't know what the deal is with Cardinals pitchers, but I don't think I've liked them even when I liked the team. (Bob Gibson is excluded, of course).

Oooooh, look at all that nondescript vaguery on cardboard. I'm not sure what uniform the Los Angeleses are wearing, but it's definitely not a Dodgers' uni. The blue stripe on the Michael Young card is very strange.

There are a couple modern day night cards for you. Both have spots waiting for them in the night card binder. And this is the first documented case of hair pulling on a baseball card.

Dave will probably end up finishing the '08 Heritage High Numbers set for me because I can't get out from under all my wants. By the way, I think that's the ocean behind Gavin Floyd.

 Uh-oh ....




This brings me down to less than THIRTY cards left to complete the 1975 Topps mini set!

Sure that 30 includes both Aarons, Schmidt and Reggie, but that doesn't mean I'm NOT COMING FOR YOU ULTRAPRO! I WANT A LIST OF DEALERS WHO SELL YOUR NEW MINI-SIZE PAGES! A LIST!!!!!

Maybe I can even convince you to get the damn things on your website.

Look at that. That's a bunch of 1972 high numbered Braves. I get so happy when 1972s come my way I don't even mind all the Braveness.

Even more of them. I especially like the two Expos cards. Palm trees and dudes sitting in the dugout. Baseball is awesome.

This is in so much better shape than the pathetic version I found online several months ago. This won't be the only time I show a Drysdale card on this post.

This is the Duke's last card featuring him as a Dodger (retro cards excluded, of course). It's very cool pulling a card like that out of an unexpected envelope.

Sorry, I should have warned you to put on sunglasses. And, dammit, now I have that Colbie Caillat song in my head. Yes, that one. I'm sorry. Let's all focus on the 1958 Dodgers. That's what we should be doing anyway.

Yes, there are a few creases here. I don't care. Do you know what a bitch it is to get high numbers from 1960 Topps? This is the third highest card in the set! Excellent card and excellent scouting, Dave.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

They don't make 'em like they used to

I'm sure that to some collectors, and even some bloggers, I'm old-fashioned. My collecting interests are focused on traditional set-collecting and vintage cards. My collecting mindset is stuck in the 1970 and 1980s. I regularly bag on modern innovations like artificial short-prints and cards imbedded with coins.

I do try to keep myself up to date -- in cards, as well as in life -- by purchasing some modern stuff, dabbling in player-collecting, welcoming parallel madness to a degree, and knowing who the hot player of the moment is.

But I fear that it's probably hopeless. Even if I write about modern cards, the way I write and my viewpoint is probably desperately out of date to some people. I'm just an old guy in his 40s to them.

And it's true. I like stuff that you just can't find anymore. Because it's old, like me.

To illustrate, I have some more 1975 Topps minis, sent to me by Jim, a.k.a., mr. haverkamp. These cards, as I've mentioned before, connect me to my childhood better than any other set ever made. But the sad fact is that a lot of things about cards from my childhood just don't exist anymore.

For example, head shots. If you want head shots in a Topps set, you'll have to go to Heritage. They don't make head shots in flagship anymore. And I don't think they have since the early 1990s. It's all action all the time now.

Another example. Airbrushing. Airbrushing has been replaced by photoshopping. It can still look as amateurish as airbrushing, but in general photoshopping does the trick better, albeit in not as charming of a fashion.

Highlights or "record-breaker" cards. I don't think there has been a subset series in Topps dedicated to record breakers in a little more than a decade. I know there have been random highlight-type cards with checklists on the back in recent sets, but I don't consider that the same thing.

Four-player rookie cards. Again, if you want those, you have to go to Heritage. Topps hasn't produced a four-player rookie card in flagship since the late 1970s. As you know, it's imperative that every last rookie has at least 48 cards before he even makes the majors -- oops, sorry, that's the old man talking again.

Team cards. Topps hasn't put a team-picture card in a flagship set since 2007. You can't even find them in recent editions of Heritage, even though there were most definitely team-picture cards in Heritage tribute sets like 1963, 1964 and 1965 Topps.

Card-front checklists as a numbered part of the set. When was the last time that happened? Probably the early 1990s again. Today it's all: deface a card from the set???? Are you insane???? (For the record, this sometimes modern-type collector would like to find an unchecked version of these cards).

The Expos. There hasn't been an Expo in a Topps flagship set since 2005. Because they stopped existing. This just makes me more and more sad every year. (And there were times when the Expos did exist that I didn't even like them).

Every '75 mini card that mr. haverkamp sent contained at least one thing that doesn't exist anymore, whether in the card world or the baseball world.

That can mean only one thing:

Even though I don't think of the 1975 Topps set as ancient at all, it probably actually is.

And so am I.

But that's OK.

I like the '75 set. And I like me.

They just don't make 'em like they used to.