Friday, November 16, 2018

The re-emergence of the night card and other card doings on my "day off"

I didn't blog yesterday and often times that means I have no time for cards that day.

And while there was less time for cards than usual yesterday -- push back that day when I was going to send out the next round of giveaway cards again -- there were quite a few card happenings.

For example, when I came home from work I found a box of cards on my porch. I'm not talking about a box with an address mailed to my residence and sticking out of my mailbox. No, I'm talking about an unmarked box left on my porch -- full of baseball cards.

If I didn't put two-and-two together that would freak me right out. Few people around here know I collect cards and the ones that do certainly don't have cards for me.

No, these were cards from Jeff -- who some of you know as "turrdog" -- who happens to have relatives in the area. You'll see those goodies another time, but I wanted to mention how cool it was to get cards on your porch like it was a tin of Christmas cookies or some flowers from the neighbors. At last, something for me.

Another thing that happened yesterday was my discovery that the above card was a night card.

I've had this card for quite awhile. I think Dave, who is a Pirates fan, sent it to me. I was instantly impressed that it was a 1966 Topps card and that it was of Harry "The Hat" Walker, a well-known hitter and manager of the mid-1900s.

But stupid me, I missed the lights overhead and the darkness behind.

A 1966 night card! Taken in the Astrodome! Too cool!

It is now one of my older night cards (it might be in the top 10 or 15 oldest) and it went instantly into the night card binder, booting this card ...

... which is a fine night card in itself. But, come on, it's no 1966 card of The Hat.

The '66 Walker card is so impressive that it caused a few collectors on Twitter to realize that I was a collector of night cards. How it escaped them for so long I don't know, since I've only been babbling about them for a decade. But it kind of regenerated my appreciation for those cards again. You may even see the Awesome Night Card posts happening a little more frequently.

Another cardboard happening yesterday:

I was filing some more cards to one of my many card boxes, a daily ritual. One of the boxes contains just about all of the Score and Pinnacle cards I own, as well as most Bowman cards and several Sportflics cards and minor league cards. I don't know the reason for the mish-mash, but it's been that way forever.

In fact, the box that houses those cards, is the second oldest card-holder in my home, second only to the Giant Box of Dodger Dupes. That Score box is an old Montgomery Ward shoe box that was sturdy as a pair of work boots, giving me a feeling of security any time I put card in there.

Welp ...

There was an incident.

One side of the box, already in a weakened state, gave way, causing the other sides to break away and fall off my lap, spilling the contents onto the floor.

There, all the Score cards mixed with the Bowman and oddballs in a bizarre concoction that -- after the shock wore off of knowing I'd have to stop my reorganization for another reorganization -- I knew was not right.

Score and Bowman together? We can't have that.

Clearly Score is the better product and should have space to itself.

So, last night, I went about making sure that would happen.

Introducing the debut of my box of nothing except Score and Pinnacle (Oh and a few Pacific cards in the back).

This will come in handy as I assuredly add more Score cards in my collection. I see completing the 1991 Score set as a future endeavor since I already have so many. And since I like 1993 and 1994 Score quite a bit and really like '93 Select, who knows what will happen after that? This box better be as sturdy as that Montgomery Ward model.

Meanwhile, I stashed all my Bowman cards in a small box marked "1992 Donruss." That seems about right.

So those were all the card happenings on a day I didn't write about cards.

I'll leave you with one last card that I received recently from Max of Starting Nine.

This is a very cool although mystifying card of Roy Campanella. It was put out by the Baseball Card News, a well-known hobby publication from the '70s and '80s.

Apparently it was part of a set, according to the back:

There's some interesting card-back reading for ya.

The Trading Card Database lists 20 cards for the 1982 Baseball Card News set. There are three other Dodger cards in the '82 set and two Dodgers in what TCD lists as a six-card 1983 Baseball Card News set.

I have some work to do.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

My least favorite stunt of the '90s

When I first started blogging, the loudest and the proudest established bloggers were collectors from the 1990s.

They loved their '90s cards and wrote constantly about 1990s innovations -- the good and the bad -- like the first relics, the explosion in inserts and wacky stuff like cards in a can.

I barely knew what they were talking about. I didn't collect for the entire back-half of the '90s and the constant drumbeat of "innovation" always puzzled me and still does. When I was first collecting in the '70s and into the '80s, not once did I wish cards were more "innovative." Cards never bored me. I didn't wish they could become something else or something "more." I was happy with seeing new players and new designs every year and completely satisfied. Maybe I'm simple, but really that's all I needed.

To me, most of the '90s card inventions weren't "innovations," they were more like stunts. Most of what was created in the '90s was an attempt to get collectors back into the game as the hobby fell onto hard times after the baseball players' strike. Please take us back! Look, here's a card inside a card! Come back! This stuff is still happening all the time and the box breakers live for goofy rare cards like listing Aaron Judge as a Red Sox player. Stunts.

But, I've never needed any of that extra stuff. I don't target autograph cards. I've attempted to complete very few inserts. I'm very much a flagship man after all of these years. I can appreciate some of the new things that came from the '90s. Some of the individual cards are spectacular.

And then there's '90s tricks that makes me want to pick up the card and throw it in the fireplace.

Any card that features one player on the front and one totally different player on the back -- especially if the two players are from different teams -- is one of those chimney-bound cards. Why on earth would I want a Dodgers card with a Indians player attached? How does this make sense?

I doubt the '90s invented this atrocity, but it certainly became prevalent during the decade. Among my least favorite cards are the 1997 Donruss Limited Counterparts cards.

Because I must collect the Dodgers -- a mission that was very uncomplicated during the '70s, by the way -- I own several of these cards. Those L.A. players come waltzing into my binder with players and teams that I don't give one wit about. Hideo Nomo is dragging Charles Nagy around on the back. Todd Hollandsworth must bring Bobby Abreu along. I don't even want to bother turning the cards over.

Then there are the Dodgers that are featured on the back of the cards, that you must display back-side front, because why do I want a card of the Rockies' Eric Young facing front? So there is the Dodgers' Wilton Guerrero trying to act normal as a "card front" while featuring a card number and various company logos and legalese.


There is the actual front of the Wilton Guerrero card. The fronts scan like crap, which is because the scanner shows you the soul of 1997 Donruss Limited Counterparts. It's dark and unreadable. (The cards don't look like this in person. They're just shiny).

Here is another "card front."

On the back:

The Orioles' Jimmy Key. He will stay in the back in my binder. I don't need to be reminded that I have Orioles cards in my Dodgers binders.

But that was what the '90s was all about -- throw a whole bunch of ideas on the wall and see what sticks. Some stuck and some slid down the wall and made a horrible mess. But companies still wanted you to pay for it.

For me, cards are like food.

I like food. I look food a lot. I like different kinds of food. But I also keep going back to my favorite foods. Not once have I wished food was more "innovative." There is so much food I like out there, it will keep me busy and happy for the rest of my life. I will be satisfied if I never come across a food "innovation." If I was that interested in food, I'd probably be traveling the world looking for strange edibles and appearing on cable. And that seems like a job to me, not a hobby.

I don't need that. The cards that are available will keep me plenty busy. There is no yearning for my cards to take me to space or whatever people want them to do now.

Just make a quality card, a quality set, that features major league baseball players of the day. I will fit that into my schedule. No stunts necessary.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Gettin' through high school

I've written quite a bit about 1989 Fleer lately, but it's about the least enjoyable Fleer set from the 1980s for me.

I just don't have a connection to it like other '80s Fleer sets. When I think about that, I believe the reason is because life was pretty good in 1989. Going to class was behind me, I was college educated. Lots of free time. A girl to wine and dine and the world to explore. I still collected cards, but they weren't getting me through anything.

Now, early 1980s Fleer? Those were some uncertain times. Thank goodness Fleer was around then.

During high school, I was a good student but not popular. I didn't feel like being smart all the time so I settled in with the kids that were like me, not quite popular, not quite eggheads, more smart-asses than anything else. Good boys who got into trouble periodically.

I didn't really belong to anything. No sports teams for the most part. No clubs. I didn't join classmates every Friday night after the football game and head up to the overlook to get wasted. I didn't ditch the game and head to the basement to smoke weed with the burnouts either. I just did my own thing and tried to cope with being a teenager as best I could. I had two things to assist me: music and cards.

Music gets all of the credit. It's a teen-aged cliche. But cards? Cards hardly get any credit for getting kids through high school, even though they certainly helped me.

I collected every year I was in high school from the final packs of 1979 Topps to four or five months after '83 Topps hit the shelves. I collected Donruss and Fleer, but a lot more Fleer than Donruss. Fleer spoke to me more, probably because it was about as awkward as I was in high school.

That's why when I received some 1983 Fleer off my want list both from reader Chris and from J.C. of The Fleer Sticker Project, my heart skipped a happy beat upon viewing them. These were my boys, the ones that helped me through. The ones -- if you take the time to view them and appreciate them -- that have as much promise as your average confused high school student.

When I pulled the first few cards out of the package from the Fleer Sticker Project, I was hit with the memories of the 1982 World Series:

This is the World Series from my senior year in high school. I'd been a senior about a month so the confidence that I finally found in the later part of my senior year wasn't there yet. I would immerse myself in baseball to cope with those high school hallways. The World Series was HUGE then. Much bigger than it is now and it will never be that big in my mind again.

I even created a scrapbook of the entire 1982 season, culminating in the Cardinals' victory in the World Series. Wish I still had that.

I was still a Topps guy when I was buying packs of Fleer cards. Topps' cards -- if you're going to equate it with high school stereotypes -- was the intelligent jock and class president with a cheerleader on each arm. It was definitely not like me. But I couldn't help but like and admire Topps, even though Fleer was much more my style. Look at the above cards. So many questions. What is going on? What is the photographer doing? What is the player doing?

That's Fleer. That's a parent talking to his teenage kid. What are you doing? What is that? Use your head! Come on, Fleer, you can do better than that!

I love Fleer.

Fleer gave you moments that you just didn't see on any other card. Doesn't that sound like your average teenage outcast? Fleer didn't do what you expected or wanted it to do, but, sometimes, it turned out pretty good. Sometimes it turned into something memorable, something you might tell your friends. Did you see what that no-good, teenage son of mine did?? That was pretty good!

Mostly, when I was in high school, I would wait until the weekend to walk to the drug store to buy some cards with money I earned on my paper route. I'd stare at those cards all weekend. Then when it was time to go to school, I'd deal with the hassle of the day, and then I'd come home -- and if I was lucky, I'd have some time to flip on the record player and look through my cards. All of the cards -- whether Topps, Donruss or Fleer -- got me through. But there was only one card set that knew exactly what I was going through.

That would be Fleer.

All of these players are familiar, every single one. Because I soaked up every bit of baseball I could get in high school.

Now, when I look at cards and players from this time, I think of collecting in high school and everything that meant. There's also a bit of nostalgia involved.

For example, I can't remember the last time I saw an orange helmet that wasn't in the NFL.

But mostly, my quest to complete this set -- and the other early 1980s Fleer sets -- is an attempt to fulfill those hopes and dreams in high school when just about every hope and dream I had was a million miles away, like it is for many high school kids.

By the winter of 1983, school was much more fun and 1983 cards remind me of that, too.

Of course that means I really need to get that 1982 Fleer want list posted. Sophomore year was a bitch.

Monday, November 12, 2018

It's a living thing

This is my first card from Topps' Living Set.

I think by now everyone knows about this year's online tactic by Topps. Every so often, it issues three cards of current players on the 1953 design for an outrageous price and we're all supposed to whip out our debit cards before the LIMITED SUPPLY DISAPPEARS!!!!

I'm too old to play that game.

I haven't done it for Topps Now. I'm not doing it for the Living Set. I do not collect cards under a deadline.

Fortunately, Ben from Cardboard Icons sent me the Clayton Kershaw Living Set card. Ben's a Red Sox fan and he actually watched the Red Sox clinch the World Series in Dodger Stadium. Feeling extremely sorry for me (as he should) he sent me this card. ... Well, I don't know if he felt sorry for me. He's always been a good egg regardless, sending me cards when I don't expect it.

So I have one of these cards now and finally I can give you my feedback that you've been waiting for lo these many months.

We'll start with my first thought: "Well, I'm glad I didn't spend $14.99 for this card plus two cards of other players I don't care about."

But you knew that one already. As for the card itself, it's fine. I've never been a big fan of the 1953 set. It's one of the reasons I was able to resist the Living Set, I'm over the '53 design, just as I've been over the '52 design, thanks to Topps' endless odes to '52. Now, if Topps issued a Living Set with the 1975 design, I might be tempted ... might.

The card is slightly glossy on the front and features a rougher cardboard feel on the back. It's certainly not as weighty as a 1953 card. It's as thin as your average card from the 1980s, I'd say.

This is the back, true to the look of '53 Topps, although '53 wasn't 2 1/2-by-3 1/2.

You can see the signature is Kershaw's latter-day autograph, no bump for the "h" in the last name, just a straight line to the end. So many signings for stars these days, I'd say they're asked to sign more than ever.

I know I don't appreciate the cartoon very much, slapping a George Springer postseason trivia question on the back of a Dodger pitcher's card is plain rude (at least Kershaw never gave up a homer to Springer).

This happens to be my 621st Clayton Kershaw card. Ben also collects Kershaw cards and I'm guessing he has one of these already.

In the early-going of this set -- the premise is it never ends -- there is an inordinate amount of Dodgers. But I won't be tracking down any others. I've done quite well at ignoring these kinds of cards. It doesn't bother me in the least that I don't have the other 7 or 8 Dodgers Topps has created.

But I'm thrilled I have this card. If there is one Living Set card to get, it would have to be Kershaw. Nothing else makes sense.

So, there you are, the latest and greatest from 2018, shown about eight months too late.

Oh, one final thought:

"Living Set" is no less weird a name than the first time I heard it.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Journey to the center of the most '90s card set ever made

I'm still trying to organize the giant box of random cards I received from The Collector Chris quite awhile ago now.

It's filled with a lot of card sets I know and also some that I still have a fairly good handle on even though I may not have collected them back in the day.

I thought that was the case when I came to the 1994 Stadium Club cards. Then I found a card of someone named "Hilly Hathaway."

I stopped and stared. I glanced at his first name, making sure it wasn't "billy." No, that's "hilly," all right, printed in that ever-so-'90s take on a kidnapper ransom note that might appear on "America's Most Wanted."

In fact, I decided right there and then -- still trying to figure out who the heck Hilly Hathaway was -- that this was the most 1990s set ever made and I had just journeyed smack dab into the center of it.

Turning the card over, you can see -- among other things -- that Hilly is card No. 385 in the '94 Stadium Club set. This set is 720 cards so No. 385 isn't exactly at the center, but close enough. With all those mid-1990s graphics swirling around, it's tough to stick to accuracy. My vision is blurring as I write this. But we'll get to the card backs again.

For me, 1994 Stadium Club is, without a doubt, the most '90s of '90s sets. There's a lot to choose from when trying to characterize 1990s cards, from the Saved by the Bell sets of the early 1990s to the cold, calculating Matrix sets of the late '90s. But right at that center core is a set as '90s as Urge Overkill, Central Perk and Michael Jackson marrying Lisa Marie Presley. Don't tell me the most '90s set is 1995 Fleer, that coked-out montage could be an outcast in any decade.

No, 1994 Stadium Club was right at home in 1994. It was 1994.

And so were the dudes who appeared in the set that I had never heard of until viewing these cards over the last few days. In fact, as I pondered Hilly Hathaway's card, I momentarily wondered whether "What Is Love" by Haddaway ever played as he warmed up on the mound. That would be the most 1994 moment ever.

But enough pondering. Let's look up this Hilly character.

It turns out he pitched 13 whole major league games and the last one was 1993 so his career was over by the time anyone pulled a card of him out of '94 Stadium Club.

But, don't worry, there were other guys I had never known lurking in this set.

Kevin Higgins. Nope. Don't know him either. I see he made his major league debut on May 29, 1993. That notation is a key bonus of '94 Stadium Club.

Higgins played 71 games for the Padres in 1993 and batted .221. And apparently everyone said that's enough.

Matias Carrillo. No idea. But ask anyone when this card was made and they could place it within 1993-98 without knowing a thing about collecting. The early Marlins uniforms are a dead giveaway, and Carrillo played in 104 games for the Marlins in 1993 and 1994.

The fact that so many players were popping out of this set that I didn't know makes sense because this was right when I pulled away from the game and collecting. I was entering my trading card slumber even before the strike hit and would sleep away the rest of the '90s.

I'd never notice, nor remember, the Tim Mausers of the world.

By the way, what is it about 1994 that produced so many players with double vowels in their names?

Eddie Taubensee (two of them!)

Jeff Reboulet.

Tim Teufel.

1994 Stadium Club is filled with uniform designs I do not enjoy. Who ever though the blue softball tops and caps were a good idea for the Astros?

The photos, although still considered cutting edge at the time, look dark and are full of shadows on players' faces, as if the pictures were taken during the 1970s. The label-maker look of the last name also harks back to the '70s, or at least that's when I was using a label maker.

But the backs? There is no questions -- none at all -- that they were made in a mid-1990s factory, probably by the same place that fed espn2 its graphics back then.

This set is known for Stadium Club's drastic redesign in an attempt to appeal to the kids who everyone suddenly decided had "extreme" tastes. ("Gogurt is the yogurt you squeeze and slurp, grab and glurp."). Everyone in 1994-95 was Extreme. Check out the word "survivor" as "surVIVOR." Edgee.

The type is all akilter, flush left sometimes, flush right others, changing from line to line. Words are presented horizontally or vertically in a variety of fonts and sizes. The Topps Skills Rating System or, sorry, "the topps skills rating system," delivers arbitrary numbers for various abilities with no indication of how they arrived at the ratings or who was on the panel.

All of this is presented on a dark blue-and-black background which if you ask me is THE color combination of the mid-1990s.

It's a fascinating world, wandering around in the center of the most '90s set ever. So many questions.

Here's another:

This one has bothered since the mid-90s. Why is Eric Davis so far over to the .....................................right?

Where is the ball?

Before I received these cards from Chris, I had maybe 25-30 cards from '94 Stadium Club, mostly Dodgers. The others came out of repacks. I didn't care whether I had any more. The Jose Valentins and Archi Cianfraccos didn't interest me. Either they reminded me of the strike or my failed fantasy baseball teams or the awful apartment I was living in at the time or all those years of Braves and Yankees in the World Series.

Discovering guys like Hilly Hathaway makes me appreciate the set a little more, and the time period just a bit more. Because who knows what other discoveries lie within?

Does that mean I am looking to collect it?

No way.

Those card backs just make me think of Keith Olbermann in a leather jacket.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The perfect cards for when you have nothing to say

I am not very good at writing short posts.

I like my posts to have something to say and the only way I seem to be able to do that is by making them long. Whenever I try to make it short, the post feels empty and can't help but think "who is going to read that?" It feels like I have nothing to say.

But there is no time for a long post today. I'm going to have to write a short one, meaning I feel like I need cards that are appropriate for when you have nothing to say. What are the perfect cards for when you have nothing to say?

That's right! Prizm! Perfect.

God, look at those things. Every thought has just flown out of my head. I'm coming up with ... nothing.

I don't even know if Panini is making Prizm cards anymore. I've completely lost track because I lost interest like five years ago.

These were sent to me by Jon of Community Gum (who is probably wondering why he sent them now). He says they were on my want list. I'll take his word for it. Unsurprisingly, all of Prizm's cards blend together in my brain and it'll probably take a good couple hours that I don't have to figure what cards go to what set.

Fortunately he sent a card from another unlicensed Panini set that I can distinguish a bit more. And it has a wonderful green border.

The rest of the Panini cards Jon sent were ones that I had claimed in his trade bait posts because they stood out. That's right, I said Panini stood out.

The Panini inserts in Optic look quite nice even if it's not cards of Dodgers but of Los Angeleseseseses.

The Beltre card is numbered on the back.

This is always a terrifying moment for Panini because they have to know how horrid they are at card backs. If Panini could figure out a way to make a one-sided card, I bet they'd do it.

Wow. I mean look at that effort.

Well, I guess I had a few things to say.

But it was about Panini, so probably nobody is reading.