Thursday, May 16, 2019

A good gig

First off, thank you for all of the comments of support and especially the emails regarding my mom's passing.

I'm getting through, as I seem to have inherited my mom's reputation as one of the "rocks" of the family. But it's very difficult seeing how other people handle her loss and the various conflicts and issues that arise from that. Tomorrow will be exceedingly draining.

Anyway, as all of that happens, life still goes on. I've been told that the latest issue of Beckett Vintage Collector is out, the June/July issue, and that I have an article in it. I don't know this first-hand because I have to drive an hour to find a store that carries this magazine and being otherwise occupied, I can't do that. Perhaps this weekend I can find one. I'll write a separate post once I get my hands on a copy (or four).

But further proof that my second article has been published came in the form of a payment check from Beckett. I've decided that I will split these magazine checks so that at least half goes to savings and other needs and the other part goes to card purchases.

The check has been cashed and the cards are arriving. My COMC purchase is on its way, meanwhile I have the items that came off of ebay.

I mentioned that I bought one of these a few posts ago:

This is the latest in my continuing quest to complete all the 1991 Pro Set MusiCards sets. It's a 36-pack box of Series 2, which I believe was issued in 1992.

There you go, that's one of the sides, advertising Series 2 and some bonus hologram collectible that I didn't pull.

I've gone through the entire box, because I had some brief down time yesterday, and what an odd configuration to this set.

Yes, there are new Series 2 cards in the box (you can note the Series 2 cards because the card number on the back is red instead of black). But they are mixed in with plain, old Series 1 cards. So every pack that I opened featured three or four Series 2 cards and then the rest of the pack would be Series 1 cards, of which I have plenty already.

Also, the collation was not as friendly as the Series 1 box I opened recently. I thought with 36 packs to open that I'd have no trouble finishing off all of my wants, but as it stands I'm down to needing three Series 2 cards to complete it.

274 - Linda Ronstadt
289 - Vinx
309 - Foreigner

It's possible I have the Foreigner card already. Many of the bands/singers featured have more than one card in the set, making it confusing when you're keeping tabs on what you need.

I'll go into a more detailed description of the Series 2 box in a later post. I also want to see how many dupes I have because if anyone is collecting this set, I definitely have plenty of Series 1 extras now, and a small portion of Series 2 dupes.

The more notable of my ebay purchases was baseball in nature and vintage in nature.

It is a card that I've wanted ever since I became furious that it was going for so much a few years ago. It's a high-numbered card from a 1960s set that usually commands triple digits even though it is not rarer than any other high-numbered 1960s card -- in fact, it's not even one of the short-prints in the set. It has become one of those cards that has been hoarded by some collectors for reasons that aren't easy to determine, the only explanation is that it has some sort of "prestige," which seems to me an excuse to hike up the price on the card. And of course the card features a Dodger so it's been irking me for quite awhile.

But finally I have it.

Most people call it the Grant Jackson rookie card. I call it the Bart Shirley rookie card.

It's No. 591 in the set and if I can just get that high-numbered Ron Perranoski card next, then I will have completed the 1966 Topps Dodgers team set.

This card didn't cost me more than any single card I've ever bought but it came awfully close. It was sure nice to have an extra 100 bucks to play with thanks to the magazine article.

Yup, writing for Vintage Collector is a pretty good gig.

Monday, May 13, 2019

My mom's in heaven, which means there might be no baseball in heaven

I was woken up out of a dead sleep at 4:16 a.m. Saturday.

My mom had died.

I knew the call was coming. I knew it was coming almost a year ago. I knew the time was closer when she was in the hospital for a week last month. And I knew that when I visited her last week, at her bed side, in my parents' living room, under the care of hospice, that she had even less time on this earth than ever.

So, I was ready. But I couldn't stop crying Saturday. Crying while I packed. Crying in the car ride down. Crying anytime the conversation came even remotely near my mom. And I'm not a crier.

My mother was quiet, classy, a pixie spit-fire, gentle, shy, sweet, God-fearin' and healthy as a horse. ALS took all of that away in the past year. It's been a difficult 12 months, not just for my dad and the immediate family, but for every person who came to my parents' house to visit or to treat mom or simply to deliver the mail. They knew she was special. My mom did not deserve this. Nobody does, of course. But if you knew my mom, my goodness, why her?

There is no doubt in my mind that my mom is in heaven. She is the model for any "so you want to get into heaven?" manual. I cannot think of her saying a bad word about anyone.

But baseball?

My mom didn't like baseball. She had no interest in sports at all, and God, just to play with her, gave her three sports-loving boys. We watched and played baseball relentlessly. And my mom couldn't understand it at all, periodically throwing up her hands when the topic turned again -- to baseball.

However, as I've mentioned on the blog a few times, my mom bought me my first packs of baseball cards in 1974.

She bought me the first baseball card I ever saw, which arrived in that first cello pack.

She also bought me the first card I ever received from an antique shop, a story I mentioned last year at this time on Mother's Day, around the time that I began to become concerned for my mom's health.

She didn't make Mother's Day this year, taking her earthly exit one day prior. I avoided the blogs yesterday, for fear of coming across too many mom-centric posts. Twitter, too. Facebook was out of the question.

My blog-posting will be spotty-to-non-existent all week as we honor and remember my mom as she looks down on us from heaven.

And I will wonder during this time: if my mom is in heaven and if heaven is a place devoid of every earthly annoyance and if baseball annoyed/perplexed my mom, doesn't that mean there's no baseball in heaven?

That's mildly concerning.

But that doesn't matter at all now.

Love you mom. Miss you. Thanks for the cards.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Houston, hello!

Got another package from eastern Texas recently from Commish Bob. It packed quite a punch because it was another round of 1956 Topps, which apparently can be found raining from the skies there in Houston proper.

Actually, I think he was digging these out of the show that he went to recently. I really like it when I get to benefit from other people's card show attendance.

It looks like there were some pretty good deals at the show, too, because the '56 cards I received contained quite a few name guys.

We'll start slowly with some lesser-knowns:

Hal Smith came out of the envelope drastically miscut. I don't think that's a strip of Mickey Mantle's card at the top so Smith will be replaced someday in the set. You ever notice how sharp the corners are on miscut cards? It's like kids didn't want to handle them if they were off-kilter.

Forrest V. "Spook" Jacobs is known for his nickname and going 4-for-4 in his major league debut. His middle name is notable, too: Vandergrift.

Those early Baltimore Orioles teams had some tough times. I don't recognize any of the O's in the 1956 set.

Milt played in just six games in 1955 due to a fractured elbow. He later played on the Tigers with his brother Frank Bolling.

Bob Skinner was just coming up to the majors at this point but he'd develop into a solid-hitting outfielder for the Pirates for a few years and later become known as a manager and then the father of '80s player Joel Skinner and then they appeared together on a Father & Son card.

Another talented player who became a major league manager later. Alvin Dark has always been on the dark side (get it?) for playing for the Giants and then managing the A's over the Dodgers in the '74 World Series. I've had the opportunity to pull the trigger on this card a couple of times and then said, "nah, why do I want that guy for?"

Billy Pierce from the Billy Pierce collector! Bill is a little rough around the edges as Commish noted but it's good enough for me right now. That action image has always been an interesting one. I think Pierce is out by a mile. He may not even have moved the runner.

OK, another Dodger enemy. This is several years later after that nefarious deed and I like to think that Thomson was banished to the Braves, but that doesn't work because the Braves were good then. Anyway, cool to get this card. Is he striking out against his old team?

A Hall of Famer! It's not easy to get Hall of Famers from this set. I did not know that Kell played for the White Sox. Somehow I knew his Red Sox and Orioles (and, of course Tigers) days, but not the White Sox.

Finally, yet another Hall of Famer and Red appears to be applying a wrestling move on the catcher in order to score.

I've pondered picking this card up at a couple of different shows but then decided I didn't want to spend the cash.

This is the quandary that I am in with the 1956 Topps set. The number of high-priced stars that remain on my want list is so daunting that most times I can't get myself to make even small stabs at the set. The most recent COMC order contained exactly zero '56 Topps cards.

I have to get out of that funk if I'm ever going to complete this set. But, at least in the meantime, I have people digging through boxes to help me fill the set. It is appreciated.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

The dreaded shopping cart

I don't know about you, but I'm not exactly comfortable when I have cards stored in my shopping cart on the COMC site.

I once used to consider cards in my cart as good as mine. That's the way it works on ebay most of the time (at least for me) as well as on a number of other sites in and out of the hobby. But it doesn't exactly work like that with COMC.

Cards that you've placed in your cart can disappear out of it if another collector purchases those same cards before you do. I found that out the hard way a few times when I was first getting into COMC purchasing about seven or eight years ago. It stunned me at my first. I couldn't figure out where the devil that card went. You mean my cart isn't a safe space?

Fortunately this doesn't happen a lot to me, probably because of my very specific and off-beat card tastes. I can only imagine what it's like for the collectors who chase all the latest rookies or even for the 30-somethings who all seem to collect the same thing: Gwynn, Maddux, Griffey Jr. It must be a pain throwing stuff in the cart only to have it jump out over and over again.

Another COMC cart annoyance is when everything in my cart vanishes. EVERYTHING.

I've always thought that this happened if I accidentally logged out of the site or if there was a crash of my computer when I was on the site, because I've had my cart empty when those things, I guess coincidentally, happened.

But apparently, COMC cart stuff can cycle out just whenever. And isn't that a fun discovery.

So I am now very wary of my cart on the online site.

That's why I was very happy today when I ordered everything in my cart, meaning it was officially out of my cart so other collectors can keep their grubby hands off, and safe with me. As long as the USPS doesn't goof things up, they will be safely en route to me.

This time, I was able to take advantage of a COMC sale for once. It's the spring sale this week and all of my cart cards were nicely discounted. I usually have zero time to sync up my saved money with an online card sale, so I am very proud of this. There are lots of goodies from some very important set pursuits of recent note. I'll be sure to show you all of them.

Also, I ordered a couple of card things from ebay today, too. They were in my ebay cart for quite some time but they stayed there fortunately. One card in particular I am quite happy to finally have in my collection ... when it actually does arrive. You'll see that, too.

I don't want to get too cranky on COMC. They are my preferred online card site by a mile and have been for years. I remember when I first started touting COMC and people would comment "yes, but this site ..." and I'd check out that site and find, it's not as good as COMC. Sure some other card sites have stuff you can't find on COMC or are cheaper than COMC. But as a whole, for one-stop card shopping online, only ebay can match COMC, and you know what a disaster ebay can be sometimes.

It would be nice if things would stay in my cart all the time, but again, that's a minor deal.

And for those who are now cranky because they haven't seen a card yet on this post, here is something from my last COMC purchase that I never showed:

Christy Hemme used to be a big deal in the pro wrestling world as one of the primary divas. I have never followed wrestling, but that sport sure does like to feature some pretty ladies and Hemme is definitely one of those.

She was mentioned a lot on the blogs when I first started blogging. Nobody mentions her anymore. She's retired now and a mom of five kids (including quadruplets!). So I was able to get this signed card for much more cheaply than I could have in 2008. It reminds me of the good old days when card blogging was wild and crazy.

Also, I think she's wearing Ron Cey's number.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Musical chairs

I feel like I'm playing musical chairs with the 1991 ProSet SuperStars MusiCards. I'm constantly shuffling between the various sets from that year, thinking I've completed one, then realizing I haven't, thinking I've got a stash of cards from one series, then realizing I don't, thinking I'm one card short, then finding that card.

It's mostly a result of my hectic schedule in 2019, but also it isn't helping when Pro Set issued two sets of MusiCards, one here and one across the pond, with some cards the same but some different.

I opened a box of 36 packs of the United Kingdom version of the set last summer and came within one card of finishing it off. I'm still missing card No. 114, Cliff Richard. I haven't really made it a priority to find that card, but I'll get there.

Meanwhile, I decided to try to finish off the U.S. version when I purchased a very cheap box not too long ago. I took it along with me on my latest trip to my parents, because I definitely need some card down time on those visits to recharge my batteries.

Late in the evening I would rip open several of the packs in the quest to find the few cards that I needed. It didn't take me long -- just over half of the box -- to find those cards.

These nine cards finished off the U.S. set for me -- or so I thought.

It actually only finished off Series 1 of the set. There is an entire Series 2 that I didn't really know about ... well, I knew about it, but I thought they were just harder-to-find Series 1 cards. So I've taken care of that by ordering up a Series 2 box.

But, still, there was the matter of discovering a blank spot at card No. 52 after I placed the above cards into their respective sleeves.

Panic set in as it often does in this situation.

Fortunately, I had a whole box of dupes from opening 36 packs. I shuffled rapidly through all the familiar cards -- Belinda Carlisle, the Cromagnons, Tone Loc, Jefferson Airplane -- and started to get near the end before I finally found No. 52.

Hot damn, the Hothouse Flowers finally completed Series 1 of the U.S. set for me.

I was only in this position, though, because of an envelope I received recently from Rod of Padrographs.

He is also collecting the set and had several extras for me that filled some holes. I also now have several extras that I'll send along to Rod so he can fill some holes. But first, here are my musical needs from Rod:

I especially appreciate the last two. (P.S.: that card of Linear is the most '80s thing I have ever seen).

Rod also sent some baseball card needs, too, in case you were starting to worry that I don't collect that anymore.

Why not? Let's take a third copy of the Walker Buehler Archives rookie card. I'll take them all!

Rod also gave me my first look at 2019 Bowman with this double-shot of Cody Bellinger.

The design is distinct, which is not something I have been able to say about Bowman over recent years. You can see that Topps has continued its "half-border" theme from flagship over to Bowman.

That is one of the prospect cards and for once I'll be able to tell them apart from the veterans at a glance because of that border -- which is on the opposite side for the prospects.

That's my first 2019 Bowman Chrome Dodger card. A man named after Derek Jeter and Kelly Downs.

Here is my first jersey card of the Dodgers' broken closer.

Rod also sent a few cards that I didn't know I needed and, truthfully, probably don't.

This is yet another Topps ode to the Jackie Robinson '56 card. Topps never tires of issuing these things, pretending as if no one remembers that it's done this already, several times. Maybe Topps is getting senile.

That is the back to prove I'm not just showing you some other '56 Jackie reprint.

Rod either thought I'd think this was a Dodger card or is being the funny Padres fan and sticking me with this thing. I went until May without owning this ugly bit of history.

Finally this. I barely know what it is. But it is Bodacious.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Total cards vs. games played

I have been cataloging cards in my collection for as long as I have been writing this blog. It seems like I'll never get to the end but the goal is to someday reach the finish line.

Once I have totaled all of my cards, there are several posts waiting to be made. One of the ones I've always wanted to write is figuring out which player in my collection has the greatest disparity between total cards and games played.

In other words, way more cards than games played.

I have a hunch who that is.

It's Karim Garcia.

Garcia played 488 major league games in a 10-year career. However, I don't care about his career with all those other teams. I care about his career with the Dodgers. Those are the only Garcia cards in my collection, with him wearing Dodger blue.

Garcia was a big prospect for L.A. in the mid-1990s. But he ended up playing in just 29 games for the Dodgers between 1995-97. Even though he was called up to the major leagues as an 18-year-old in 1995, he managed just a single home run for the Dodgers total and hit just .150. Not even his number of plate appearances with the Dodgers -- 67 -- can equal the total number of Dodger cards of him that are in my collection.

That total is 94.

Ninety-four cards of a dude who played in just 29 games for L.A. (I know this can be expressed in the form of a handy ratio or percentage, but I've just returned from another exhausting trip to my folks and am in no mood to calculate math). That's pretty ridiculous and sums up the 1990s card world quite aptly.

Garcia would go on to make a name for himself with the Diamondbacks (as a starter in the very first Arizona lineup), the Tigers, Indians and the Yankees (possibly known more for fighting groundskeepers and pizza delivery guys than anything else).

But I will remember him as potentially the guy with the biggest disparity between the number of Dodger cards and Dodger games played.

And some pretty fancy cards for those 29 games.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Here comes the Panini Donruss

I've been trying to hold off a bit on diving into 2019 card product in the quest for Dodgers because I know those cards will be coming to me via various traders more often than other cards.

It's a bit of a struggle for me because the pull of retail is quite strong. It's right there! Down the street! Calling to me! "Niggggghhhht Oowwwwlll! Ohhhh, Niggggghhhtt Owwwwwlll!!!! Freshly stocked caaard merchandiiisse is waaitting for yoooooooooouuuu!!!"

I'm powerless to ignore that call when flagship or Heritage or Ginter reaches retail aisles. And that lack of willpower doesn't bother me a lot because what I don't need is often quite handy to send along to others. But I do realize the benefits of holding back and waiting, especially at this point in the card calendar.

This is what I call the "Card Brands Of No Use To Night Owl Season". There is no retail pull at this time of year. Spring signals the release of Gypsy Queen and Bowman and Panini Donruss. All of it can rot on retail hook vine as far as I care.

Others, though, find a reason to buy it. I know this, because those sets start to appear in my card packages. And I'm grateful because "phew! I don't have to buy any of this!"

Lately I've been seeing 2019 Panini Donruss cards in my packages with greater frequency. Two in particular included that logo-less stuff.

Kerry from Cards On Cards sent me a Panini Donruss-heavy card package recently. The 2019 Clayton Kershaw above was part of it as were these Los Angeleseses:

Panini has chosen a somewhat original design for its '19 Donruss set with fat diagonal stripes that detract a little bit from the slo-pitch softball look of the featured players. Not impressed, though, with the giant gray triangle in the lower right with the cropped city name that is also sideways, as well as the position designation.

Also, it wouldn't be a P-D post from me if I didn't crab about Panini's card back ineptness:

The first thing that drew my attention was that the Rated Rookie backs are different colors (P-D may have been doing this for years but that's how much mind I pay this set, just noticing it now).

Look closer though and you'll notice that the Rated Rookie back is much easier to read than the regular card back. Not only does white type on a dark background stand out better than dark type on a colored background, but THE TYPE IS IN ALL CAPS AND POSSIBLY LARGER PANINI WHY DON'T YOU DO THIS ALL THE TIME?? WE ARE NOT ALL 20 YEARS OLD WITH 20-20 VISION!!!

OK. Let's view a nice, hypnotic, swirly card to calm old night owl down.

Wooooooo! That's my meds right there. I kind of like that.

Not only does it put me in a trance but it's one of those moment-in-time cards that I enjoy so much. There is also brief mention of the combined no-no feat on the back, but it causes me eye strain so I'm not gonna look at it no more.

Cards on Cards also went back one year in time to send me this 2018 Donruss Corey Seager card. Even with as little I know about P-D, my variation radar went off because I believe every card in the set has at least one variation because who doesn't want to collect as many versions of players pretending they're sanitation engineers as possible?

My suspicions were correct, not only because the baseball on the back of the card was black instead of white (the tell-tale variation sign) but also, the differences on the front are so plentiful. Here, take a look at the Seager base version:

See? See? The background is different. And it's night instead of day (OK, Panini, you got me there). And it's a home uniform instead of road. And, and, and, uh ... his arm is different ... and, and ... his one leg is up ...

Seriously, I like my variations to be an entirely different photo, P-D.

One more Panini card and then we'll get to more appealing stuff:

The dreaded Chronicles. This is the base Kershaw. Can't say I hate it, as weird as this set is.

The rest of the cards I needed from the package were cards from companies who (usually) put logos on their cards.

That's a very happy Sandy with a photo from his 18-strikeout performance against the Giants in 1959. The K total broke the NL record set by Dizzy Dean back in the 1930s. I'm so used to getting cards with Koufax showing off baseballs from his perfect game that I automatically assumed this was another one of those. Nice to get card verification of another Koufax feat!

Quite happy to see these. The scans hate 2003 Chrome but these might be the most appealing cards ever made during that decade. So bounteously blue in hand, it's a natural for a Dodger fan to complete. Still need Nomo, Gagne and Izturis to fill out the set.

Another need from one of the many sets that short-prints base cards. Campy here looks just like all of his non-SP'd Dodger teammates in the 2006 SP Legendary Cuts set, except for the serial number on the front. Yay, Campy! Bah, SP'd base cards.

I know, I know, what about the rest of the Panini Donruss cards????? I know you love them so, I'm getting to more. Need to show this Hideo Nomo Donruss card first.

A new Nomo is always a gift. This is from the Inside View insert set in '05 Donruss. Donruss wasn't thinking about how these cards would end up with a super-sensitive card surface (there are a lot of sets like this, circa 1994-2006). Check out all the scratches on this thing! Can't say it bothers me though.

OK, more P-D for the masses:

This is from an envelope from Johnny's Trading Spot. This arrived a few days after a large card package he also sent. You'll see that later. Need to get these out of the way first.

Unfortunately I had all of the above four already. Cards On Cards barely beat him out there. That's why it's good to hold back on 2019 cards, they're showing in droves!!!

The Buehler card is new, though.

A real live card of reliever Caleb Ferguson? Good for you, P-D.

The retro cards in Donruss this year take on the '85 Donruss design, which was a great look for Donruss then and fairly nice today. Good fortune for 2019 P-D. Not so good for 2020 P-D when it will probably rerun that headache-inducing Max Headroom '86 Donruss design.

This card looks pretty damn bitchin' by itself. Now imagine if they had the power to throw that "LA" on the cap. This would be one great card. Oh, what could have been, Donruss!

Finally from Johnny, Max Muncy in regulation and variation form.

Here is where I feel like a meanie about all my P-D bashing. Donruss IS making cards of Max Muncy more frequently than Topps is. Muncy dashed the hopes of Padres fans everywhere last night. That's worth about five more Muncy cards in the next set as far as I'm concerned. Can't have too many Mad Max cards.

So, there you go. I'm not sure how close I am to finishing off the team set of 2019 Donruss. Probably not close at all (definitely not close if you figure in all the variations and parallels). But it's good to know I have at least a dozen Dodgers without bothering to look for it in my nearest Target/Walmart. I know I could just go online and buy the entire '19 Donruss team set but I can't think of anything less fun in the card world than doing that.

If everything falls right, I will be hauling in some much-wanted older cards in the coming weeks. I owe the ability to do that in part to ignoring the card aisle for nearly a month.

Many thanks for sending the '19 cards my way. I've already seen some 2019 Bowman Dodgers arrive, too. Gypsy Queen? I guess nobody's buying that.