Wednesday, September 19, 2018


How you old do you have to be to experience nostalgia?

My daughter and her friends get nostalgic, but it's that weird kind of nostalgic that only college-age kids experience, that nostalgia that isn't really nostalgia because it wasn't even 10 years ago.

You know that song "We Are Young" by Fun? If that pops on the radio -- well, it means I have no control over the radio station, for one -- it will throw my daughter and her friend into fits of "remember when" as if this 2011 song came out when The Brady Bunch was in prime time.

It's bizarre, and as a parent you can't help but announce in response "that was yesterday!" But as the years go on and my daughter and her friends have moved on, I can't help but get nostalgic over stuff that was brand-new not even a decade ago, too.

For instance, 2009.

You remember 2009, right? The movie "Up"? That horrible "Boom Boom Pow" song? But some things were kind of good in 2009.

For example, this was the last year that real competition existed in the baseball card world. Upper Deck was actually producing baseball cards with logos and everything, and nobody but nobody was reduced to surrendering hard-earned cash on Panini's re-imagined world of baseball players as hazardous-waste engineers.

The year 2009 was the first full year of this blog and I was involved in the modern card world full-force. I knew every product, I bought every product, I tried to complete many of them and became as familiar with the cards of the day as I had been since the early 1980s.

Today, I can't keep up with what's being released. And when I feel that panic that team collectors know all too well -- another set? I've got to get those too! -- I sit back and remember:

There are still cards from 2009 that I need.

I received a handful of cards from Matt of Sports Card Collectors that were from 2009, including the Goudey 4-in-1 card you saw at the top. Here are two others:

These Stadium Scenes cards from '09 Piece of History were pretty snazzy back then and I never saw one. It's weird -- and a little Upper Deckish -- that the silver Stadium Scenes card is numbered lower (/149) than the turquoise card (/999) since the silver color is the same as the base-set cards.

These cards make me want to update all my Dodgers needs on the want list right now (if I'm lucky I can get it done by the end of the week). Instead of scrambling over all the cards from the newest Topps Set of the Week, why don't I focus on all these needs from nine years ago?

But, anyway, SCC wasn't done with the numbered cards.

We've traveled out of 2009 now so we're in the land of unlicensed, no-logo cards.

Both of these cards feature their serial numbers on the front. What's your opinion, are serial numbers meant for the front or the back? I prefer the back. It often mucks up the front and putting the number on the back gives people an excuse to read their card backs.

Also, that Bowman Platinum squiggle makes Seager's butt look big. Not that I'm looking.

Last card from the PWE. It's another Panini offering, from the more tolerable Diamond Kings. This is an artist's proof parallel of some sort. I've never understood these artist's proof holdovers from the '90s.

But that's likely because I hold little nostalgia for the 1990s in most cases.

None of the years in that decade can match up to 1975. Or 1983. Or 1987.

Or even 2009.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Giveaway prep

I'm supposed to be holding a giveaway, but life doesn't want me to hold a giveaway.

I'm supposed to be holding a countdown of the greatest 100 cards of the 1980s, but life doesn't want me to do that either.

What does it want me to do? Significant adult tasks that you don't need to be reminded of here. But they are all familiar, and they all take up a lot of time, and I am quite exhausted, and there is no end in sight at the moment.

So I've got to make some decisions here.

I'm still going to blog during this period, but the greatest 100 cards countdown will have to wait. I still haven't gotten down to 100 cards yet and that's got to happen before I even start ranking and scanning. So I don't know when that will kick off. All I can tell you now, hopefully, is it will begin sometime in autumn. That's as narrow a time frame I can make.

I'm still holding the giveaway to celebrate 10 years of this blog, but it's probably not going to start this week as originally planned.

So this is a little post so people can get prepared for the giveaway, whenever I kick it off.

I've decided that this giveaway will be of the card draft variety, meaning each participant gets to pick a card according to their rank in the draft. This is a little more difficult for me than the one-shot, one-person-gets-the-whole-booty contests that I usually run, but I think more people deserve to win a card for this anniversary.

As I mentioned last week, the giveaway is for regular readers of this blog only, based on who has commented in the three months between June 12 and Sept. 12. I just went through and noted all the commenters. Here is the list of those who are eligible:

Adam E
Adam Kaningher
Adam Sanders
Alan Deakins
Alex Markle
Al Kawamoto
Base Set Calling
Ben Henry
Bill White
Billy Kingsley
Brett Alan
Brian (HSCA blog)
Cardboard Jones
Chris (commented on "My Day My Way" post)
Chris (The Collector blog)
Chris Johnson
Colbey Hopper
Collecting Cutch
Community Gum
Daniel Wilson
David (commented on "Hot" post)
Derek McKim
Don (Tigers logo)
Fred Pike
Grant Schwagel
Greg Zakwin
Henry Blanchette
Jamie Meyers
Jason T. Carter
Jay Abbott
Jeff (Dallas star logo)
Jeff Laws
Jim from Downington
Jim Jones
John Bateman
John Miller
Josh D.
Julie Owens
Mark Hoyle
Matt (Diamond Jesters blog)
Matt Prigge
Matt Stupienski
Michael Ott
Mike Matson
mr haverkamp
Nachos Grande
Nick (Dime Boxes blog)
Nick Pain
Nick Vossbrink
P-town Tom
Paul Hadsall
Rob (1982/88 Topps blogs)
Rod (padrographs)
Section 36
shoebox legends
Snorting Bull
Sport Card Collectors
Steve Mentzer
The Shlabotnik Report
The Turrdog
Tim B.
Tony Lehman
TS Henson
Warren Zvon
West Roxbury Animal Hospital
Zippy Zappy

That's 112 folks.

I don't have cards for 112 folks. Or at least cards that all 112 folks will want.

So I'm probably going to cut off this giveaway at about 30 or so participants.

This is how I will determine who will participate in the contest: I will make a post called GIVEAWAY POST. That will be the cue for those who are eligible to begin entering the contest. They can enter the contest by commenting on the Giveaway Post. Once there are the maximum number of comments for the contest then I will determine the order of the card draft and begin the draft. So it's important to comment when you see the post because there are limited slots available.

Unless I receive 30 or so comments immediately, I'll probably reference the Giveaway Post in subsequent posts with a link to that post for a week or so to allow time for eligible people who may not read the blog every day to comment on the Giveaway Post.

Does that make sense? (in my current state I don't know if anything makes sense now).

It's entirely possible that not even 30 people will want what will be given away, but you can be the judge of that.

This is the majority of what's available:

Almost everything here is a short-print, a relic or a vintage card (no reprints). I think only the Babe Ruth up top (insert) and the Griffey Jr. (no way in the world 1989 Topps is vintage) are the exceptions. Much of this was donated by R.C., who wanted the cards to go to a good home. That's what I'm doing here.

This image amounts to 26 cards. So I will add a few things to this to get it to more than 30 items for selection. You'll see the additions on the Giveaway Post.

An added note: When I was compiling those who commented in the last three months, there were a couple comments that were listed as "anonymous" or "unknown." I know Blogger has done some things recently that converted named comments from nonblogger sources into "anonymous," etc. So if you want in for the contest and you are one of those people, send me an email. I won't let just any random person who emails me, saying "I am Unknown," into the contest, but if the email is from a familiar person who's commented in the past, I'll include you.

So that's all I've got for today. Hopefully, I'll be able to post a few more times this week, but if not, you'll know why.

Life really hates owls writing blogs.

Monday, September 17, 2018

High numbers, low interest

When I went to Target the other day and picked up a Fire blaster (OK, I think Topps Fire should come back for another year just because "Fire blaster" sounds so awesome), I had enough money left to grab a hanger box of Heritage High Numbers.

Heritage High Numbers hasn't done much for me since it returned to the retail aisles in 2015 (remember those awful years when it was just an online exclusive?). Every year I buy a rack pack or a hanger box and then that's it because it bores me.

I've tried to figure out why that is. For example, I find Topps Update at least a little bit interesting, why not High Numbers, which is basically the same thing without the bloat?

I think it might be because Heritage is all about the design for me. And we're still traveling in the '60s when it comes to Heritage designs and I'm not a fan of Topps '60s designs in general. I could handled the main Heritage set back in March. But now Topps is feeding us more of those '69 circles and I'm done. I'm pushing away from the table. No more for me.

Not helping matters is the Dodgers High Numbers checklist, which has been abysmal in recent years. Let's go through this year's checklist:

520 - Tony Cingrani -- got injured a couple months into the season and hasn't pitched since.
621 - Ross Stripling -- a decent spot starter for the Dodgers
638 - Logan Forsythe -- traded to the Twins
660 - Austin Barnes -- having a lousy year
665 - Chase Utley -- has basically disappeared since announcing that this would be his final season
713 -  Matt Kemp -- ah, finally, someone having a good year

Oh, did I mention that Matt Kemp is a short-print? The only Dodger in the High Numbers set that has really made an impact (we could throw Stripling in there, too) and he's an SP. Topps still up to its old tricks.

But anyway, I didn't pull any of Dodgers. Lots of Giants and Diamondbacks and other teams that make me gag, but no Dodgers. I was so unimpressed that I wasn't going to blog about the set. But then I figured every purchase deserves some attention so I struggled to find 10 notable cards to show. Here you are:

10. Fernando Rodney - #544

High Numbers wasn't quick enough for Rodney. He's already moved on to team No. 10 and the Oakland A's. Good luck in the playoffs with this guy.

9. Alen Hansen - #575

Some of the Giants cards feature a nice twilight glow in the background. I'm hoping that is a real background and not a phony image as it goes well with the Giants -- the sun setting on their season and all that.

8. Didi Gregorius, deckle-edge - #23

Yes indidi! (Sorry). I feel like I need to show deckle edge cards every time I pull them. They were kind of special when I saw my first 1969 Topps cards.

7. Nick Kingham - #651, Dereck Rodriguez - #590, Dylan Cozens - #634

Lumping three rookies together (I've heard of them all!) because this is the underlying reason why anyone is buying this product, including me. We'll all just wait around and see if these guys blow up.

6. Jonathan Lucroy - #517

I was temporarily excited when I pulled this card because I thought it might be an action variation and then I saw that Lucroy actually has an action variation.

But this ain't it. Lucroy's variation card shows him ever so slightly more in action, waiting for a throw to the plate. That is some variation confusion.

5. Danny Farquhar - #523

This card is interesting because Farquhar suffered a brain hemorrhage during a game this season and is out for the year.

It's even mentioned on the back of his card.

4. Justin Verlander, Transogram insert

This is only interesting to me because I pulled this card one day after sending some Astros cards to Remember the Astrodome. I guess Mr. Upton stays with me a little while.

3. Daniel Mengden - #525

Mengden is channeling the memory of famed A's mustache-twirler Rollie Fingers. In fact, I think Oakland should require that at least one pitcher every year display a handlebar mustache in tribute.

2. Jake Arrieta - #721

Here is the SP. I don't know if they're one-per-hanger box (I do know they're one every third pack). I like this card because I was ever so sick of Arrieta as a Cub. Short-sleeve meanie.

1. Ronald Acuña Jr. - #580

Ah, there was just one more rookie card in the pack. This card was staring up at me from inside the cellophane on the top of the stack.

Maybe there's one keeper in this box of Heritage High Numbers.

High Numbers is actually lucky that we enter the 1970s designs after this year. Because that may get me to buy a little more of this stuff in future years. And I still need to win the lottery before 2024 hits.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Doing my dirty work

As I slowly pull back from collecting modern releases, some of my collecting goals have gone by the wayside.

My stated mission is to have every Dodgers card (and Dodgers prospects card). So that means getting cards from the new sets that come out every year. But that's starting to get old. I'm making fewer and fewer trips to the big box stores and when I look through cards online, I rarely focus on what was made in 2018.

It sounds like I'm ready to start ordering team sets of whatever modern set that is out and be done with it. But actually I'm not ready for that kind of collecting. As long as I can trade for cards, I'd prefer to land my modern cards that way. Let someone else do my dirty work.

There are other collectors far, far more willing and happy to buy modern sets, the kind that I can't even devise a want list for, and thankfully they send some of those cards to me.

Not too long ago, Douglas from Sportscards From the Dollar Store sent a boatload of cards over the border and they represented all kinds of 2018 needs that I've either ignored or been too lazy/broke to seek out.

I'll break them down by set.


This is a set that if it did appear at the nearby Walmart it vanished in a matter of days and never came back.

I've never been a fan of this set, which explains why it took getting this package to post a team want list, but I do like the look a lot better than previous versions of it. I probably would've let myself overpay for a rack pack if there were any around.


Doug erased nearly all my base-card wants from this list with this group. My Stadium Club purchases had stalled mostly because I don't find SC as exciting as when it first returned. I'm going to blame that on the giant position abbreviation, although it's more than that, I think.

(Mike Piazza probably had a difficult time wearing long-sleeve shirts).

With the addition of Piazza and all those other SC Dodgers, I'm just looking for Kershaw and Chris Taylor to wrap up the team set.


There is NO CHANCE I am buying these cards myself. First, I have never seen packs of this in the wild. Second, I have a difficult enough time rounding up cards of dudes in the majors. Who has time for the may-or-may-not-make-it guys?

But now there is a want list up for 2018 Pro Debut. My guess is it's not terribly accurate given I struggle sometimes to name all the Dodgers' minor league affiliates (what happened to San Antonio? Ogden? Jacksonville? Chattanooga?).


Not that I'm on the look out for Optic any year, but this year's Donruss design is pretty lousy and I don't need to see it again all shiny.

The selling point to Optic is some of the colorful inserts. Obviously these aren't those. But the Optic want list is now up! For me to ignore!

Doug really went the extra distance with this package, throwing in a few hits as well:

OK, not really a hit. But it's super thick and the metal is shiny and Kershaw looks confused as hell that he's in some Marlins outfit, so I'll enjoy it.

These, though, are definitely hits. That Joc Pederson Bowman's Best card is sweet in its simplicity.

We've now reached the Canadian portion of the package. These are both early '70s O-Pee-Chee cards! It's interesting that on the back of the Wills In Action card, none of the type is in French.

And, of course, there must be hockey cards if a package is arriving from north of here.

Just about all of these Sabres have moved on elsewhere as I always point out when I receive Sabres cards. Let's go through the rundown:

Tyler Ennis: Now with Maple Leafs
Jhonas Enroth: Not in the NHL
Jason Pominville: A SABRE!
Steve Ott: Now coaching
Cody Hodgson: Retired
Jamie McBain: Not in the NHL
David Legwand: Retired
Jack Eichel: A SABRE!
Jason Pominville: SEE ABOVE!

Well, that went better than I thought.

Doug also sent one of these fancy Parkhurst Rookie Parade parallels of Hudson Fasching, who was a Sabre only briefly enough to get on this card.

This package helped me get a lot farther on my modern sets without me lifting a finger (well, I will have to gather up some cards for Doug, of course). And that comes in quite handy when I'm focusing on vintage wants and Dodgers from past sets.

You can't beat trading for taking care of your dirty work.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Let me stand next to your fire

It is now year two of Topps Fire and one year ago I would have been stunned if you told me there would be a year two of this product.

It's not that I hate the cards. The product is not for me, granted, but I just don't understand how something like this can sustain itself for an extended period of time. To me, explosive fireballs emerging behind star baseball players just screams "insert" or, at my most generous, "late 1990s issue." It doesn't say "staying power" to me.

However, this is also a guy who went to Target not once, but twice, to find some Topps Fire.

I can explain.


As weird as this product is and as much as I think this product resembles a mish-mash of Upper Deck X, the 1990s Metal Universe cards and Upper Deck Icons (the backs are about as pointless as I've ever seen), I find it intriguing.

I want to see the designs first-hand.

I'm a fan of bright cards and Fire is definitely bright. I also like art cards and these are those. And if the set is going to be "out there," then, yeah, I have to buy some just to see how far out.

I wouldn't be the father of a graphic design major if this stuff didn't interest me on some level.

So let's take a look at what Fire is about this year.

The base cards feature three different background designs like last year. But unlike last year, the designs are not nearly as distinctive. I came up with names for each individual design last year. I don't know if I can do it this year.

The first design -- the Stanton one -- looks like an explosion going off behind the player. Then there are those white streaks in the corner that look like the old-style Hollywood lights.

The second design, featuring Kingery, has even more going on. I think there's a weather map of a hurricane in the lower corner.

The third design defies description. But I think I see some eyes staring at me from behind Blyleven.

Here is a look at the cards I pulled separated by each design:

You know, even though the designs aren't as distinctive as last year, I think I like them more.

Like last year, Fire throws some parallels at you, some of them numbered, some of them not.

The gold parallels appear once a pack, except when a different parallel is inserted instead. I was lucky enough to get a Dodger in one of them. Cody Bellinger was the only Dodger to show up in the entire blaster. But he did show up twice.

This is some sort of red foil parallel (notice that the black-and-white portion of this design in the upper left corner has changed to red). It's not numbered, but it sure is purty.

This is one of two numbered cards I pulled. I believe it's an orange parallel? It's numbered to /299.

Here is something even more exclusive. It's some sort of purple thing (you'd think I'd do a little research before writing this post, you know?). It's numbered to /25. I think madding will be happy when this shows up in his mailbox. If he likes these things, that is.

Each blaster featured a separate pack of "gold-minted parallels," just as Fire did last year. I don't know if these are any different than the gold foil cards that pop up in the regular packs, but let's just go with it. I don't think we're supposed to think that hard about a product called "Fire".

One of my gold-minted cards was another Bellinger. So, this box was well-worth the cash.

As I said last year when I opened this product, there is no even ground with these cards. You either love them and think they're fresh and whatever else the young kids are saying, or you hate them and wonder why everyone dislikes green grass.

For me, it's a fun little detour from the usual product. But I won't buy any more of these unless they're Dodgers.

Like I said earlier, I can't believe Fire made it past its debut. The burning question is: will it make year three?

Thursday, September 13, 2018

A decade

Tonight, I have officially operated this blog for 10 full years.

Night Owl Cards began on Sept. 13, 2008 and I've been writing this blog for so long that it truly is difficult to imagine what I did before NOC existed.

I've never wanted to do anything more than write for a living. I knew as a youngster that I liked to write and still remember scrawling stories in pencil on lined loose leaf paper while I lay on my bed truly trying to write the great American novel according to a 12-year-old boy. Writing for me is the most natural thing in the world and for 10 years I've been able to write about something that I like a lot -- collecting cards.

When I grew older and I began to think about making a career out of writing, the road to that goal seemed almost unreachable. Even then, it wasn't easy to make a living as a writer. But I was fortunate enough to hook on with a newspaper out of college, writing about sports (can you believe it?), and I've never let go. When I'm not writing for this blog, I'm writing for a newspaper and have done so for 30 years.

But, actually, that has never been my preferred medium for writing.

My ultimate goal as a teenager was to write for Sports Illustrated. I loved the long-form articles and the in-depth profiles. I loved magazines. That was my kind of writing. I've even written some similar type stories for the newspaper but they've never felt right in a newspaper. It was almost like I was forcing the magazine style into newsprint.

But I gave up on the dream of writing for SI -- or a magazine in general -- a long time ago. And that dream of writing a story about baseball cards for a magazine, I don't think ever was a dream at any point. It was ludicrous to even think that way.

Except it's not.

I was contacted by Ryan Cracknell of Beckett Media while I was on vacation recently. As some of you know, Ryan is a former baseball card blogger, one of the few who has moved from his blog to bigger cardboard things. He said that Beckett's editorial director was interested in me writing an article for Beckett's Vintage Magazine.

Ludicrous dream meet reality.

I am now writing a piece for Beckett Vintage Magazine. It should appear at some point in October. (Don't bother asking me what it's about. I know magazines enough to know that they like their articles to be somewhat of a surprise to readers).

We'll see how this first article goes but if it goes well, I could be doing more in the future for them.

It's funny but now that almost nobody subscribes to magazines anymore that's when I finally get a magazine gig. But I don't care. I've respected magazines for so long, stood in front of so many magazine racks for so long and in so many different places and cities, that it's just about the coolest thing that I can think of as far as my writing career.

So, exactly 10 years into writing this blog, it's finally paid off in a magazine gig. Just hang in there for 10 years, guys!

Anyway, thanks for reading this thing all these years.

I will be celebrating the anniversary with a giveaway. I just have to figure out the particulars and I haven't had much time to do that lately. I do know that I want the giveaway to be for my regular readers and I am going to be restricting it to those who have commented on my blog posts for the last three months -- so that means from June 12 to Sept. 12 (and no retro commenting!). I can't determine every person who clicks on my blog, so commenting is what I have to go on.

I'll run a list of those who are eligible for the giveaway when I make the giveaway post next week, so stay tuned.

And stay tuned for the second decade of Night Owl Cards. We'll kick it off with a countdown of the 100 greatest cards of the 1980s in the next week or two and then who knows what's after that. The usual rubbish I suppose.

In the meantime, happy Ron Cey anniversary to me! Hey, Penguin, we made it!