Sunday, February 18, 2018

'56 of the month: Ron Negray

I like it when I discover cards in my collection of players who were Dodgers at another point in their career. I like it even more when I also find a card of that player as a Dodger.

Ron Negray is featured on just two Topps cards. He's in the 1956 and 1957 Topps sets as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Because the Dodgers were so good at that time and there were relatively few teams, Negray spent much of his time with the Dodgers in the minors. He played seven seasons with Brooklyn farm teams like Valdosta, Newport News, Elmira, Pueblo and Saint Paul.

He was traded to the Phillies in June 1955, just four months before Brooklyn won its first World Series.

However, Negray did get to play for another famous Brooklyn Dodgers team. He appeared briefly with the 1952 Boys of Summer.

Therefore, he received a card in the 1974 TCMA set:

Outside of the 1990 Target all-inclusive Dodgers set, it is the only set where you can find a card of Negray as a Dodger.

That is a bit unfortunate, because Negray also played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and how cool would it be to have a card of him with both teams? He was traded back to the Dodgers from the Phillies in 1957, and he pitched for L.A. in its first season in 1958. Wikipedia says he was the starting pitcher in the franchise's first spring training game as the L.A. Dodgers.

Negray pitched in just four games for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1952 and four more games for the L.A. Dodgers in 1958. That makes me wonder if he appeared the fewest times among players who played for both Brooklyn and Los Angeles. (Quick research tells me he's not. Jackie Collum pitched in three games for Brooklyn in '57 and two games for L.A. in '58).

There's another always fascinating 1956 back for you to enjoy. I don't know what that character is supposed to be in the first cartoon. Hummingbird perhaps? (Hummer = fastball).

Negray's final big league season was in 1958 but he continued his career through 1963, playing in the minors and in Latin America. After his career he was a successful sporting goods salesman.

Negray is fast approaching his 88th birthday. He is one of four remaining members of the '52 Dodgers who are still living. The others are Joe Landrum, Carl Erskine and Bobby Morgan.

Here is an interesting interview with him from a couple of years ago.

I always appreciate having a blog so I can get to know cards like this.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

A card for a sucker

Yesterday apparently was the day for everyone who ordered a full-price Topps Now card last season to receive a bonus 2018 Topps Now card as thanks for being such a loyal card-collecting sucker ... er, customer.

I'm sure there are those who have ordered Topps Now cards off Topps' website who don't feel like suckers, some of whom are probably now offended. I don't mean to infer. It's your collection, buy what you want, right? That's a healthy way of dealing with things.

Me? I feel like a sucker, just a little. I bought one Topps Now card from the Topps site, meaning I spent $9.99 for a modern card. At the time, it felt appropriate (it was a card of third-string catcher Kyle Farmer beating the Giants in dramatic fashion when the Dodgers were on top of the world). But even then I was thinking, "this is probably stupid." Probably should've waited a little bit for it to show up on ebay for $6.99.

But since I bought that one card, I got this freebie in the mail of Mike Trout. I guess this is what the design will look like for Topps Now this year. It's not getting me to buy any Topps Now cards this year. If I had to guess, my grand total of Topps Now purchases this coming year will be somewhere between 0 and 2, and I probably won't be paying full price. That new furnace isn't paying for itself. Nor my daughter's college payments. Or my dog's pee pills.

I'm happy that this card isn't of Aaron Judge. Other than that I don't have much thought on it.

That is the very unexciting back. It's actually a promo for its Opening Day team sets that I believe cost 50 bucks apiece for 15-16 cards. But I can get them for the low, low cost of $37.50 by using the promo code (I blacked it out in the event my brain falls out while I'm walking down the street and decide to spend that kind of cash on this).

When I look at the back it feels like more of a credit card than an actual trading card.

Anyway, I'll probably send this to the Angels fan that just sent me cards.

I suppose it is a nice gesture from Topps, a company that hopes you spend $9.99 for a card.

Friday, February 16, 2018

I will never have every single one

I know my collection may be somewhat intimidating to fellow collectors looking to trade with me. I've been doing this online thing for a decade and collecting in general for years before that, and I've made hundreds of trades.

But I really don't have every card.

I may be misremembering but I don't recall a single card package that contained at least a dozen cards that didn't include at least one card that I needed.

There are always holes in my collection. If I ever get my want list fully complete you will see there are lots and lots of holes. Craters. It's practically a Grand Canyon of wants and needs.

But just to prove it to you, let's take a selection of Dodgers sent to me by Tom from The Angels In Order. He was very skeptical about the cards he sent:

Well, no, Tom, I didn't.

Sure, I already owned much of what was sent. But the joy in packages like this is unearthing the gems that I still needed -- most of which I had no idea were absent from my collection.

For as long as there are parallels:

And mini parallels:

And yet another Classic set that I didn't know existed:

And cards from the mid-to-late '90s:

And cards from the first five years of the 21st century:

And oddballs:

There will always be cards that I didn't already have.

And, of course, if you're going to send me Royals and Mets, then, yeah, those are definitely cards I didn't have.

Tom threw in a few other non-card items.

Tickets from a Dodgers-Diamondbacks game that maybe he didn't go to?

A big, honkin' decal for my monster Chevy truck that I don't have. I assume these are a way of life where Tom is from and they certainly are here. I often wonder how many of these trucks where I live actually haul stuff on the regular. I'm guessing maybe 30 percent. But at least they're blocking my view of traffic!

I also found a cool Kershaw poster from a package on the Dodgers ace in a recent Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine. This would have been taped on my bedroom wall when I was a youngster. I'm not sure what I will do with it now. I have so many items ready to be framed that I'm going to have to spend a small fortune in picture frames.

So that was a pretty good haul from someone who thought I'd have everything that was sent.

Have confidence in your card packages!

I have a lot of wants! I'm never satisfied! I'm needy!

I will never have it all.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

What's that make him in penguin years?

Holy crap, my favorite player of all-time is 70 today.

As is my custom, I added a couple of Ron Cey cards to my cart in honor of his birthday.

Long may he reign.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The first Valentine's Day pack throwdown

As I suspected, I received 2018 Topps baseball card packs for Valentine's Day. I do so love this time of year.

I happened to receive three packs apiece from both my wife and my daughter. So this presents the perfect opportunity to pair the packs up against each other in a battle to the death ... er, a battle to see who loves me more ... er, a battle to see which packs I like the most.

Yeah, that last one, let's go with the last one.

I think I have the scoring down for this exercise:

+1 - for a card I need
+1 - for a Dodger I already have (but can go toward the set that I'm not building)
+2 - for a notable parallel/insert
+3 - for a card I've wanted since I've seen it shown on the blogs
+7 - for a short-print
+10 - for a Dodger I don't have (this is the only reason I'm opening these after all)
- 1 - for a dupe
- 1 - for any Astros World Series card
- 2 - for those ubiquitous Derek Jeter inserts

OK, them's the rules. Let's go.


I'll begin with my daughter's packs first:

Pack 1

Cards I need: 7 points

One dumb Jeter card: Minus 2 points

There were four dupes in the pack: Minus 4 points

Total: 1 point

Pack 2

Cards I need: 10 points (1 more to come)

Card I've wanted since I saw it on the blogs: Chris Archer, 3 points

Notable parallel/insert: The Halladay card (*sad face*): 2 points

Another Jeter card: Minus 2 points

Another card I've wanted since I first saw it: 3 points

There was just one dupe: Minus 1 point

Total: 15 points
Total after 2 packs: 16 points

Pack 3

Cards I needed: 2 points

Dodger I had already (Verdugo): 1 point

Card I wanted since seeing it on the blogs (Dansby Swanson): 3 points. (Note how the bat goes in front of the Future Stars logo -- very '88 Topps!)

Three packs, three Jeter inserts: Minus 2 points (I've got to tell people to stop buying my packs at Target).

Dupes: A whole mess of them. Minus 8 points

Total: Minus 7 points (Yuck)
Total for the 3 packs: 9 points

OK, not the greatest pack selection. Let's see how my wife does.

Pack 1

Cards I need: 9 points (two more to come)

Dodger I need: 10 points (Woooooooo!)

Notable parallel/insert: 2 points

This is my first gold parallel from 2018 Topps. I don't agree with those who say these are difficult to spot. I spotted it right away. Also, I have to say that THIS is how you do your gold parallels if you're not going to have borders. It took three years for Topps to figure this out.This is so much better than 2016/17.

Dupes: Minus 3

No Jeter card for the first time.

Total: 18 points

Pack 2

Cards I need: 8 points (2 more to come)

Dodger I need AND notable parallel/insert: 13 points (Woooooo!)

Card I've wanted since I first saw it: 3 points

Jeter insert returns to haunt us all: Minus 2 points

Dupes: Minus 3 points

Total: 19 points

Total after 2 packs: 37 points

This is quickly turning into no contest.

Pack 3

Cards I need: 8 points

Dodger I need (Buehler ... Buehler ... Buehler): 10 points (Woooo!)

Dupes: Minus 4 points

Total: 14 points
Total for the 3 packs: 51 points.

OK, so my wife clearly knows how to select 2018 Topps packs. That was a 51-9 whitewash.

And then she put the hammer down:

Chocolates! That's worth at least 10 points!

(Have you noticed that the inside of Dove chocolate wrappers have slightly girlish inspirational sayings?. I would like to state for the record that guys enjoy chocolate, too).

And then the gift card whammy that will inevitably go toward the first sign of 2018 Heritage.

My wife does not play fair when it comes to Valentine's Day. 💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓

But thanks to both of my sweeties.

There was a time not so many Valentine's Days ago, that I would receive no cards.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Variation SPs reach the masses

(Programming note: I am running a two million views contest. Would you like to own a card you've always wanted? Follow the instructions on the previous post and enter. You have until Monday).

I shouldn't be buying any more 2018 Topps. Especially since I expect to be gifted with some tomorrow (it is my version of candy and flowers).

But I was in Walmart yesterday for the first time since 2018 Topps hit store shelves and I just had to check out the store's presentation. It was a disaster as usual. But there were hanger boxes and I must complete the trifecta of loose packs, blasters and hanger boxes! This was my chance to sample a hanger box.

I was relieved to pull relatively few dupes. Hanger boxes are notorious for poor collation.

I also pulled a variation short-print.

Yep, it's a key one, since it's my team.

I've now opened three 2018 Topps products and pulled a variation SP out of two of them (only the loose packs didn't yield anything).

Going back to 2017 Update, I've pulled five variation SPs out of maybe the last 15-to-20 retail purchases. It's obvious that variation short-prints are much more common than they once were.

I first heard of variation SPs, I believe, in 2009 Topps in which a player would share its card number with a legendary player, which was the variation SP. These weren't easy to pull. You basically had to buy a hobby box to find one. And that pattern continued over the next few years, even as the number of variation SPs increased.

But now, variation SPs have reached the masses. The commoners. The poor schleps who can't find a hobby shop, have no patience to order a hobby box online, and must do their shopping in a gigantic warehouse-like building, sharing space with the couple who obviously hasn't bathed in months, and a couple of women who think they can break out obscenities in the department store like everyone around them is deaf.

This must be similar to the patterns followed in the fashion world or fads in home decor or new recipes. Only the elite get to enjoy the most exclusive, newest items. Then when they get bored with them, the regular joes finally get a crack at it five years later.

I'm not bitter. Give me your scraps. Variation SPs were so exclusive in past years that I basically forgot they existed and didn't bother with them. No worries. I'll still take whatever is boring the case breakers.

Now that I'm pulling them every other pack, though, it's kind of weird. I stare at the card intently trying to determine what it is. Then I turn it over and try to read the tiny number code at the bottom of the card that is the tip off that it is a variation SP (Variation cards end in 43. Regular cards end in 87). That means I break out the magnifier app because there's no way 50-year-old eyes can read that type.

Then I get paranoid about missing another variation SP and I use the magnifier on every other card in the pack (I thought that the Maikel Franco card might be a variation because it looks similar to the Puig card, but it isn't).

Thank goodness there are sites like Beckett and others that keep track of variation SP card images and list them for you. I wish Topps would be kind enough to help collectors with stuff like this but apparently they're not capable (or worse, refuse).

But that's me, a card collecting commoner. I'll jump through hoops for your amusement.

Anyway, there wasn't much else about the hanger box of note. Still liking the photos.

Although this one ...

... just looks like a continuation of this one ...

Maybe we'll get a side view in this year's Heritage.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Two million views

No matter what you're talking about, from a very young age, one million is a lot.

"I'll bet you a million dollars!"

"Not in a million years!"

Two million is even more than that.

Unless you're a popular youtube video or a major league baseball player, two million is almost unfathomable.

Yet, this blog went over two million views last week.

Actually, it doesn't mean a lot, just that I've been doing this a long time. A quarter of the views were probably Russian robots in late 2016 and another quarter are probably me.

But anyway, it's an excuse to hold a contest giveaway.

And now you're instantly interested.

I figured that I wouldn't offer anything new on store shelves as the prize. There's already too much overemphasis on the newest on the usual social media sites anyway (pssst, they're trying to SELL you something).

Instead, the prize is going to be one card that has eluded your collection. What is a card that you've wanted for weeks, months, years? I'm not talking white whale here. I don't have the money or the time.

But for $40 or less, I will buy the winner one card that they have wanted for awhile, provided that it is easily available on COMC, ebay or sportlots. (I will be doing the determining on what "easily available" means -- I'm not getting into bidding wars).

This is what you do to enter:

Comment on this post.

In the comment, mention one reason why you click on this site. Just one.

In the comment, mention one card you'd be interested in winning. It doesn't have to be the card you eventually receive. If you're the winner, I will contact you and we'll figure if that's what you want or if you have something else in mind after having some time to think about it.

Make sure you have a working email address. If I do not have your email address already, I'm going to need you to contact me via email so we can get the transaction rolling.

The contest will be open for one week. It will close at 11 p.m. EST on Feb. 19th.

I will let the randomizer do its thing (the usual three times) and announce the winner. Then please allow several weeks for purchasing and shipping, because this milestone had to land during the busiest work period of the year.

As always, thanks for viewing and clicking.

And for those wondering where the heck the baseball card is:

Here is an image of George Foster after he signed the first $2 million-a-year contract in MLB history.

Let's hope things work out better on this blog than it did for ol' George after reaching that 2 million milestone.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Awesome night card, pt. 281: ranking gifts

What I am about to write would receive a stern lecture from my mom. But I've got to be honest with myself, and I'm sure many a card blogger has done the same thing that I've done:

I tend to rank the cards that I receive from fellow collectors.

It's nothing I do consciously. I don't get out charts and graphs and start making lists (well, until now). But there's a definite hierarchy when I pull cards of variety from a package.

Recently, Jim from cards as I see them, checked out my partially intact want list and sent Dodgers and other items my way in a bid to get me closer to 20,000 total Dodger cards. I separated the needs from the dupes and then instinctively ranked the needs.

(Quiet down, mom. It's just something I have to do.)

The excellent Adam LaRoche Donruss Studio night card from 2004 would land somewhere in the middle of my rankings in this package. But since it's the star of this post, I'll save it from this demeaning process.

So, let's begin: from mildly pleased to very pleased:

8. Needed prospects and other Dodger also-rans that are past their prime in terms of collectability for a Dodger fan.

The window for accumulating all the DeLeon/Garcia/Holmes/Valentin cards was very narrow if you were a Dodger fan. It's long closed and, I'm forced to admit I still need these cards, but the overriding question is: Why?

7. Panini needs

There are levels of desirability in terms of Panini products (none of them will make my heart pitter-pat, though). Diamond Kings are better than Donruss or Prizm, but it's still Panini. This is the best it will do.

6. Colored parallels of the past

If it's the right kind of parallel, it will jump much higher in my mental rankings than where it is here. Gold just doesn't do it for me. But I do like them, and certainly much better than what they're doing with colored parallels these days.

5. Team set needs from the year just passed

Whenever the season's new cards have hit, there is this panic inside me that says -- but what about all those team set needs that you still don't have? It takes a good six months for me to stop panicking as I just throw up my hands and forget the whole thing. But now? I am so happy I have these two 2017 Chrome Dodger needs.

4. Colorful inserts of legends from that period when I wasn't collecting

American Pie is a key set from when I couldn't identify a baseball card if you ran me over with it. I still don't have a good handle on the inserts. But I know I've needed this American Sluggers Snider for awhile. It's the blue version. There are a few other colors, too. Ain't insert parallels the best?

3. Minor League team sets!

Oh, boy, oh boy!

There isn't much that makes me happier than seeing what I believe is a full Dodgers minor league team set wrapped in cellophane. (The best part of this 2014 Chattanooga Lookouts set is Razor Shines is the cover boy).

I would trade in all my Bowman cards for some minor league sets if I could.

Here is a sampling of some of the highlights from that set. It's not big on stars (the previous year's Chattanooga set features Yasiel Puig). But any Lookouts set is cool simply because of the logo.

2. Cool sets from the past that dodge my collection

Retired Signatures -- specifically 2005 Retired Signatures -- wants no part of my collection. I don't understand why. I should make an effort to trap and catch them because they're not showing up willingly. This Johnny Podres card is very welcome.

1. A star from a vintage set I'm currently trying to complete

The 1973 Yaz is one of the last Yazes from the '70s that I need. It's been absent for a long time.

This card is legendary among Simpsons watchers as it's the card that Millhouse wanted to buy from Comic Book Guy. I've always been a 76-78 Yaz card lover myself, but the key point is it fills a significant collecting hole and that's why it's ranked first!

So, yeah, I kind of rank your card packages from worst to best. Again, it's not a conscious thing.

Sorry, again, mom.

Yes, I know, it's the thought that counts.

Yes, I'll get right on those thank you notes.


Awesome Night Card binder candidate: Adam LaRoche, 2004 Donruss Studio, #16
Does it make the binder?: Yup!