Tuesday, April 30, 2013

It's gotta be the shoes

Last week I pulled from the mailbox my third or fourth package in the last couple of months from Cards on Cards (sorry about the spill, dude). The pace he's on is crazy. Here I am trying to keep from slipping more than a month behind, and madding's firing off cards and -- just as amazingly -- finding cards that I NEED at about the same rate that I go grocery shopping.

I'm baffled at how he does it, but happy that he does.

The cards this time, as they always are, were directly from my want list. I think madding's been finding '90s goodies at some card shows lately, so he's been passing those never-before-seen items on to me.

So, of course, there were ...

Piazzas ...

and Nomos ...

... and other assorted '90s items (not all shown here).

But what really caught my eye ... or, shall I say, caught my nose, were some 1979 Topps needs.

Here's the very first card in the set.

And here's the rookie card of a player we were absolutely fascinated by in 1978.

And here's ... uh ... here's ... oh, my god, what is that smell?

I took a whiff again of the stench emanating from McCarver's card. It was unmistakable. But it took me a minute to place it. That smell? What IS that?

And then I realized what it was.


The cards smelled like shoes!

I thought to myself, "I don't know if I like that." Shoes are all right and all, but the smell of new feet on my cards, oh I don't know.

And then my brain made the connection and told me to stop my ungrateful rabble.

"Idiot!" it said. "Don't you know what that is? It's the smell of somebody caring for their baseball cards!"

"Think back to 1979. You collected then. How did you store your baseball cards?"

I thought about it for a second and I remembered that I stored my cards in shoeboxes. Of course!

"That's right," my brain continued. "And do you think your cards smelled like lilacs sitting in those Endicott & Johnson boxes all that time? No! They smelled like your fresh-out-of-the-box SHOES."

Wow. It all made sense to me now.

A shoebox. That's all it was. I inhaled deeply:

Ahhhhhhhhh! That was the smell of storing your collection, late '70s style!

That was before binders. Before 800-count baseball card boxes. Before top loaders and penny sleeves and screwdowns.

Back then, there were shoeboxes and rubber bands.

I used both. And I thought they were the greatest storage devices ever created. They were neat, tidy, and out of the way of a rampaging mother who thought your room had to be immaculate even though you were the only one who ever went in it.


That was the smell of proper storage. The stink of collectibility. Cardboard and leather insoles. They go together like August and ragweed.

So hail to the shoeboxers and drink in that smell!

Rollie approves.

C.A.: 1981 Donruss Joe Charboneau

(Welcome to National Honesty Day. Yep, to balance out the first day of April -- a day for lies -- the last day of April has been reserved for telling the truth. In the spirit of that, here is my bit of honesty:  I don't understand 80 percent of what's on Twitter. So there you go. Time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 182nd in a series):

If you were lucky enough to experience the major league baseball season in 1980, you know the first half of the year was consumed by a man named Super Joe Charboneau.

Charboneau was a one-year rookie sensation. He was one of the first rookie sensations I ever knew. David Clyde came first, followed by Mark Fidrych and then Bob Horner. And then came Go Joe Charboneau.

The stories about him were repeated so often that I had them memorized. Got stabbed by a crazed fan with a pen knife. Performed his own dental work. Fixed his broken nose with a pair of pliers.

A lot of the stories revolved around beer, as good stories often do.

Charboneau could drink beer through a straw from his nose.

And the one that stuck with me the most: he could open beer bottles with his eye socket.

I couldn't drink beer in 1980, but damn that sounded impressive.

It must have sounded impressive to Donruss, too.

Because the next year, it issued its first baseball card product. For its card of rookie sensation Joe Charboneau, it asked Joe to pose in Comiskey Park in Chicago with a bat on his shoulder.

And then in a bit of genius, it made sure that the scoreboard made the shot.

The scoreboard with the following message:

If you can't make it out, it says, "This Bud's for you."


Well done, Donruss.

This Bud's for you, too.

But I'm not going to open it with my eye socket.

Monday, April 29, 2013


I received another one of those Plain White Envelopes from Jeff a little bit ago. He threw in this '69 Willie Davis, which is quite nice of him, and a couple of other items that are right up my place of residence.

Minis! But of course.

But this is the one that made me go running to my stack of 1975 minis to add it to the pile. I put it on the stack, and then I realized that I need one of these minis for my Dodger binder, too. Koufax, you know.

So I went to take the card off the stack, and when I did, I knocked the minis all over the desk and onto the floor.

I spent a few minutes picking them up, digging them out from under the desk and between boxes of cards, and then sorting them back into order. I was thoroughly disgusted during the entire exercise because my most favorite cards of all-time really should be in pages. In a binder. Like all self-respecting cards of worth and value.

I know I've harped on this before, and the Ultra Pro people are working on it -- but I haven't heard from them in awhile.

So I just did what I didn't want to do, solely for the safety of the cards.

I put the minis that I had into the traditional 2 1/2-by-3 1/2 size pages and threw them in a binder, even though I already knew what was going to happen.

Here you see cards 109 through 117 (I'm missing No. 111, Wayne Garrett). Check out that wonderfully miscut Orioles team card.

You will also note that none of the cards are freaking straight. I detest this. What's the point of displaying them in a binder if they're going to be able to swim around in the pages and take whatever position they like?

So, I tried anchoring each card to the bottom left corner of the page, like so:

Pretty straight, enough for my tastes. But we all know they're not staying that way.

A simple turn of the page and you get this:

Wilbur Wood starts going for a walk.

Turn the page again, and you get this:

Just complete disarray.

I don't know about you, but I don't have the time to keep straightening each page of minis every time the pages move. I also don't want to keep knocking over my stack of '75 minis again and again either.

I have 3 pages of '75-mini style pages, graciously sent to me by folks who remember when they made pages that size. But I can't fit my set in those pages.

I'm thinking that until Ultra Pro -- or somebody -- realizes the need for these pages that maybe I could store my minis in a box. But I'd need one shaped to fit the mini size. Does anyone know of boxes that size so the minis don't move around?

I really am a person who likes order. You might not be able to grasp that by looking at my desk at work, or my card desk at home. But there's a reason why I chose this hobby. It features little cards with numbers on the back that you can put in order.

Right now my minis have no order. Just disorder.


One of the things about blogging that I keep forgetting is that it is a wonderful way to network with other collectors. (I really don't like that I just used "network" as a verb, but I suppose I need to join everyone in the '90s finally).

If all I do is post to this blog once a day, it automatically makes other people know that I'm still interested in collecting. And I find that I have that same perception of others. I am much more apt to trade with collectors who blog frequently rather than infrequently.

It's simply "out of sight out of mind." Or, rather, the opposite of that. Which I guess would be, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease."

That is one reason why I continue to blog as often as I do. Yes, there are more urgent reasons for why I write, but a key one is to keep my name out there. All the time. HI THERE! I'M NIGHT OWL. I LIKE CARDS! DODGERS AND STUFF! GOT ANY?

It works. I've made lots and lots of connections and traded with lots and lots of people (yes, I'm still behind, thank you).

My ability to make connections struck me a couple of weeks ago when I was contacted by Rob from Voice Of The Collector. Rob doesn't blog as often as he once did, but he's still a collecting heavyweight, on the radio, on the Twitter, and he's got quite a collection.

Because I am one of those noisy bloggers WHO LIKES CARDS, he knew that I might be interested in some Dodgers that he was about to put up on ebay. So he contacted me first and let me pick out anything that I liked.

Because I have connections.

I felt privileged. I wasn't one of those poor saps on ebay who would have to compete with untold numbers of like-minded collectors and dread the ever-present snipe. I was able to choose the cards that I wanted. At my leisure. Invitation Only. Like a big shot. Big shot Night Owl selecting cards with a snifter in one hand and a cigar in the other.

I first settled on the Bill Russell relic card that you saw at the beginning. I'm still down on relics and all, but I don't think I have a hit of any kind of the shortstop from my childhood, so this card was absolutely necessary.

Then, after taking my sweet time to make my next selection -- a few sips here, a few puffs there -- I picked this card:

Yup. It's another swatch. But it's a grand, old wool swatch of Big D. I won't turn down anything from the man who didn't care whether the batter thought there was "a history" between the two. Drysdale was going to knock him on his ass anyway.

OK, so that was two terrific items chosen without any competition.

Normally, that would be enough. If I was on ebay, where the pressure can wear you out (well, it wears me out anyway), I'd be a mess. But instead I was feeling very relaxed.

So I grabbed this card:

This is my first certified on-card Steve Garvey autograph. It's actually the first card that struck my eye among the cards that Rob presented. And I'm sure if I tried to grab this card elsewhere, I'd pay more than I did here.

In fact, I had enough left over to pick another autographed item:

I do love an autographed card of a 1960s Dodger star. It's especially great that Wills signed his uniform number, too. (The card is really wedged in the top loader, so I just scanned the whole thing).

With that, I told Rob I was finished, paid by my exclusive privileged customer discount, grabbed a couple complementary cigars, and was on my way with four great cards.

I really appreciate him thinking of me like that and giving me the opportunity to boost my collection.

But that's the kind of thing that can happen when you have connections.

And when you blog.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Awesome night card, pt. 177

There are some cards that cause me to emit an audible "ugh" when I see them.

This is one such card.

It is definitely not "awesome." I'd much rather call it an "unfortunate night card," a "disturbing night card," or a "jerk-face night card."

Let's get the "jerk-face" part out of the way first. My dislike for Will Clark is well-established. Prickly, shrill, Giant-loser, these are some of the words I use and have used to describe Clark over the years. I'd like to say he was more enjoyable as a Ranger, but there was too much Giant stink on him by then.

Kenny Rogers, meanwhile, was a plain idiot. I will never forget his unprovoked assault on cameramen before a game in 2005. Terribly inexcusable and it blackened my perception of him forever. Don't like the guy.

To a lesser degree, there are a couple of other guys on the card who have never been my favorites. Ivan Rodriguez, while an admirable player, freaked me out with that face of his. If anyone was going to make an evil cartoon baseball character based on someone's facial features, Rodriguez is your man.

I hold a grudge, meanwhile, against Dennis Martinez for July 28, 1991, the day he threw a perfect game against the Dodgers. Bleah.

So we have this card here -- clever in its own way of celebrating two no-hitters pitched on July 28 exactly three years apart -- displaying a whole bunch of guys I don't like. And the card back is an entire write-up on Martinez's perfect game against the Dodgers. "He needed only 96 pitches -- 66 of which were strikes -- to dispose of the Dodgers." Well, goodie for him. Let me write that in my diary.

Throw in the fact that I equate the red-capped Rangers of the mid-1990s with Steroid Central (I prefer Texas' more recent blue caps and, of course, the blue-capped incompetent Rangers of the mid-1970s), and this card makes me ...

Well, say, "ugh."

Oh, and I almost forgot about the low hug Clark is giving Rogers.


And "ick."

So with all of that in mind, there's no chance this is going in the Night Card Binder, right?

No chance.

Can't be staring at that card in a binder full of beautiful nightness.

Well ...


Night Card Binder candidate: Kenny Rogers-Dennis Martinez, Best of the '90s, 1995 Collector's Choice, #65
Does it make the binder?: Ugh. ... Yes. Someone find me another #65, please. ... Ugh.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Marked for life

As someone who is a team collector and has been blogging and collecting for some time now, I inevitably receive many duplicates. The large box where I keep my Dodger dupes is now full and there are stacks atop it that have no chance of fitting into that box.

That's OK, because part of the way that I keep myself entertained when I receive a card I already have is seeing whether I can upgrade my current version.

This is especially handy for cards that are older than 25 years. Those are the cards in most need of upgrading.

I receive so many dupes that I have this down to a science. If the Dodger card I already have is perfect in every way except for a fuzzy corner, and I get the same card but it doesn't have that fuzzy corner, then I will be replacing that card. Cold, yes. Heartless, yes. But it keeps me entertained when dupes come my way. And that's all that matters.

But there is one card that I have no hope of upgrading.

It is the 1979 Topps Dusty Baker card.

For those who collected the '79 set, you probably know where I am going.

The Baker card features some sort of printing flaw. I don't know what it is or how it happened.

But there are two thin orange lines on the card. One is next to Baker's head, and one travels across his chest, like so:

The first time I pulled this Baker card was in 1979 and I am sure I frowned and hoped to pull another one that didn't have the orange lines on it.

But the two or three others ones I saw that year each featured the orange lines.

Decades have gone by and I have yet to find one 1979 Topps Dusty Baker card that does not have those orange lines.

Every one on COMC features the lines, and I'm willing to bet every one on ebay has the same.

There is only one '79 Dusty Baker that I've found without those lines.

It's the O-Pee-Chee version. Check it out! No lines! It looks wonderfully perfect. Even if the card is off-center, and the bottom edge is ragged.

But getting back to the '79 Topps Baker.

It's actually kind of nice knowing that there is a card out there that is impossible to upgrade.

I'm sure the grading companies have given this Baker card a perfect score based on centering and edges and all the usual stuff. But if every Baker card has those orange lines, it's still not perfect, no matter what a grading company or anyone says.

You simply cannot upgrade it to perfection.

Which makes it the perfect imperfect card.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Some nonsense about a repack

I've rambled about repacks so many times on this blog that I should just open nothing but repacks here and gladly accept all of the freebies that Fairfield will inevitably send my way.

In fact, I've written about them so many times, I feel totally guilty writing about them again. But it's still interesting to me and I'm still reeling from yesterday, so here we go again.

I grabbed another repack tonight just to see if I could find SOMETHING interesting.

The repack never fails.

First, there was this:

The '91 Score Darryl Strawberry card has popped up in about the last 5 repacks I have purchased. But this time there was three to kick off the top half of the package and four to kick off the bottom half. And then, just to show the packager has a sense of humor, the '92 Score Strawberry followed the bottom half group of Strawberrys. The Strawberry crop is very good this year.

The Wayne Edwards Score card?

I just threw that in there because it's showed up in the last 3 repacks I've bought.

Normally, I don't get any doubles in these repacks. This was not a normal repack.

I like to see recent cards in these, which also seems to be a recent repack development. It's a little bit of a kick to a see a 2011 card fall out. I'm also happy to say that Mr. Montero is the only card I had already.

Of course, the draw of these things are the advertised "Three Vintage Cards Inside." Fairfield always overdelivers with these. This time I received seven vintage cards.

The vast majority of the time, the cards are from this period -- the late 1970s. That's cool if you don't have a lot of cards from this time. But this is a primary collecting area for me, and I've finished off everything except for a few '79s.

So, while the classic Jerry Turner card (and the '78 A's team card) is much, much appreciated -- again the humor in these repacks cannot be overemphasized -- this is merely upgrading material.

By now, all of you who can read and count at the same time noticed that I said I received seven vintage cards and I showed only six.

That's not one of my famous errors. Sorry to disappoint you.

This was the seventh:

A 1964 card is officially the oldest card I've ever pulled out of a $4.99 repack. It's also in pretty decent shape.

Last card out of the package, too. And a former Brooklyn Dodger.

Well worth getting eight Darryl Strawberry cards.

But probably not worth writing about.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The most Hall of Famers

Sucky title, I know. But I've had a very irritating day and I don't care.

A few weeks ago, somebody on Twitter wondered which Topps flagship set featured the most Hall of Famers. Some speculated it was the early '80s. I speculated it was the mid-1960s.

After some frantic, imprecise researching and a few suggestions, I landed on 1969 as the set that likely has the most Hall of Famers.

The 1969 set has 44 players in the set that have reached the Hall of Fame.

Here they are:

Ernie Banks, Walter Alston, Joe Morgan, Roberto Clemente, Luis Aparicio, Jim "Catfish" Hunter, Lou Brock, Johnny Bench, Hank Aaron, Carl Yastrzemski, Leo Durocher, Jim Bunning, Willie Stargell, Willie Mays, Brooks Robinson, Bob Gibson, Don Sutton, Frank Robinson, Steve Carlton, Reggie Jackson, Tony Perez, Bill Mazeroski, Dick Williams, Phil Niekro, Juan Marichal, Harmon Killebrew, Orlando Cepeda, Earl Weaver, Don Drysdale, Al Kaline, Willie McCovey, Tom Seaver, Billy Williams, Red Schoendienst, Gaylord Perry, Mickey Mantle, Rod Carew, Nolan Ryan, Hoyt Wilhelm, Jim Palmer, Rollie Fingers, Fergie Jenkins, Ted Williams, Ron Santo

Of course, there are many other years to consult before I declare 1969 as THE Set of Hall of Famers.

And I certainly don't have the time to do all of that now.

So what I'm going to do is keep returning to this post as I have time to add to the list. And I'll alert you when I've added other years.

But I've already started with a couple of other years that I did in my rare free time.

1963 (33): Al Kaline, Hoyt Wilhelm, Carl Yastrzemski, Robin Roberts, Richie Ashburn, Walter Alston, Mickey Mantle, Luis Aparicio, Sandy Koufax, Willie Stargell, Stan Musial, Ron Santo, Willie Mays, Whitey Herzog, Warren Spahn, Dick Williams, Yogi Berra, Brooks Robinson, Billy Williams, Don Drysdale, Jim Bunning, Ernie Banks, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, Whitey Ford, Lou Brock, Willie McCovey, Harmon Killebrew, Orlando Cepeda, Roberto Clemente, Duke Snider

1970 (41): Carl Yastrzemski, Hoyt Wilhelm, Reggie Jackson, Earl Weaver, Harmon Killebrew, Phil Niekro, Billy Williams, Sparky Anderson, Juan Marichal, Ted Williams, Steve Carlton, Brooks Robinson, Fergie Jenkins, Walter Alston, Willie McCovey, Rod Carew, Leo Durocher, Tom Seaver, Luis Aparicio, Lou Brock, Red Schoendienst, Roberto Clemente, Tony Perez, Catfish Hunter, Jim Bunning, Jim Palmer, Willie Stargell, Hank Aaron, Rollie Fingers, Joe Morgan, Orlando Cepeda, Gaylord Perry, Willie Mays, Don Sutton, Ernie Banks, Bill Mazeroski, Al Kaline, Johnny Bench, Ron Santo, Frank Robinson, Nolan Ryan

Also, I know 1983 Topps has 38 Hall of Famers, but I'll add that here officially later.

Feel free to point out any missing players, as I'm sure to miss a few. I hope to have this be the definitive answer to this question.

You know, for those who have so little to do with their lives that they have to ask questions like these.

Finger pointed directly at me.


Here is the other half of the card package from My Cardboard Mistress.

Contrary to the impression that I apparently gave in the last post, I really do appreciate the cards that I received. I just have a difficult time pretending I like Yankees, Giants and Diamondbacks cards. I'm not going to fake it. I'm sure you understand.

But the other half of the package didn't have any of that awfulness in it. It was all Dodgers.

Some of it was odd -- like the foursome of Kershaw Triple Play stickers you see here.

Actually, most of it was odd.

But that's because Mr. Spankee paid attention to my interest in oddball cards real well.

I'll show the regular-type cards first though. Here they are:

Yup. A whole three of them. And I'm willing to even consider the Valdes card odd, given the headaches he gave me (love the Nomo card, by the way).

The rest of the package was downright odd.

An oddball Leaf Fernando card. Someone is finally taking my quest for Valenzuela cards seriously.

This is more parallel than oddball, as one of those electric diamond foil variations from the mid-1990s. But I think of that practice as odd, so oddball it is.

Broder greatness. Where did these cards come from? Could you pick them up in stores? I collected sporadically in the late '80s, and never saw a single one of these cards.

Another one of those Indiana Blue Sox cards from the same time period. These are wonderful.

I had no idea there was a Jackie Robinson Topps Attax card. It's probably sitting on my want list, and someone will say, "It's on your want list," to which I will say, "I can't even remember what time I got up yesterday, you expect me to memorize my want list?"

Finally, I leave you with the greatest of the oddballs featured here.

I absolutely had to have this card of the unibrow king the moment I saw it. It really is swell and every other outdated adjective used to describe excellence.

Oddballs are great fun and an oddball card package is even better.

Yup, I really, really, really like these cards. Really, really.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mini angst

I have decided that I would make a terrible coach.

I already knew that I would make a lousy teacher. Knew that a long time ago. I neither have the ability nor the patience. But even with the added benefit of teaching a topic I love -- sports -- coaching doesn't interest me.

The worst part for me would be cutting players, or telling them that they have to sit the bench, and then watching them ... sit.

I have some small inkling of the way that would feel every time I update my Allen & Ginter mini frankenset binder. There are cards I "cut" from the binder all the time, and it's very difficult to let some of them go.

Recently, Adam from My Cardboard Mistress sent me a bunch of A&G minis along with some other cards that I'll show later. I couldn't wait to see which ones made the binder, and I full expected to engage in a little cardboard mourning for the ones who would hear "we're going to have to let you go."

What I didn't expect was to get so worked up over the fact that I wanted to cut some cards, but couldn't. You see, Adam, in his diabolical, sciencey brain way, decided to turn this ritual into sheer agony, in which I continually reminded myself of the annoying players still in the frankenset binder.

But we'll get to that in a minute.

First, here are the cards that made it into the binder without a fight:

Very happy to have you on the team. OK, I barely know who some of you are. But ... get out there and play!

Now, here are the ones who were shoved into a cage, forced to fight until the death, and either celebrated joyous victory or whose vanquished carcass was dragged out of the arena.

#9 - 2012 Yonder Alonso vs. 2008 Ian Kinsler

Winner: Kinsler. A present-day Padre isn't winning anything in any little show that I'm running, weird black-border or not. Besides, the '08 minis are the best ever.

#45 - 2011 Annika Sorenstam vs. 2008 Justin Morneau

Winner: Sorenstam. You may think a ballplayer should always beat a golfer. But if you think like that, you're probably buying Gypsy Queen. The Morneau card is one of those annoying horizontals and the image of Morneau is slightly larger than the chances of drawing a walk against Adam Wainwright. Annika has a home.

#56 - 2011 Scott Kazmir vs. 2010 Shin Soo-Choo

Winner: Kazmir. Angels dud beats out new Reds sensation. I ain't apologizing. I like the composition notebook borders.

#82 - 2012 Giancarlo Stanton vs. 2008 Jayson Nix

Winner: Stanton. This is the gold-border version, although it doesn't look gold at all in the scan. And Nix is a Yankee now. So, bleah.

#145 - 2011 Victor Martinez vs. 2012 Drew Storen

Winner: Storen. A second ago, Martinez was the winner. But I changed my mind. I think the red glove swayed me.

#323 - 2012 Ryan Roberts vs. 2011 Orlando Hudson

Winner: Hudson. Roberts is the poster child for major leaguers having too much time and too much money. When you're tattooing your hands, you have too much of both.

#1 - 2008 Alex Rodriguez vs. 2011 Carlos Gonzalez

Winner: Gonzalez. This is where Spankee started getting cute. There is no way A-Rod is kicking off my frankenset binder.

#158 - 2012 Melky Cabrera vs. 2010 Mark Teixeira

Winner: Teixeira. Ugh. See what I mean? Can't I just boot both out of the binder and start fresh with a blank pocket? Where are the frankenset official rules?

 I let Teixeira stay because of this:

#168 - 2012 Jason Kipnis vs. 2008 Melky Cabrera

Winner: Cabrera. Yes, there is no way there was going to be two Cabreras (unless his first name is Miguel) in my binder. I kept the black-bordered one because the '08 black borders rule.

#180 - 2012 Tim Federowicz vs. 2012 Tim Federowicz

Winner: Federowicz. Congratulations, Federowicz, you've made the team. I'm sorry, Federowicz, I'm gonna have to cut ya.

I already have a destination or two in mind for the cards that didn't make the cut. Most are headed to a fellow frankensetter, mr haverkamp.

As for the rest of the cards that made it, a little message: play out there like you're trying to win your job because you never know when I'm going to cut you loose.

Heh. This didn't turn out to be as painful as I thought it would be. In fact, I kind of like the power.

Yup, I feel like a coach now.