Sunday, May 31, 2009

Garage sale finds

Bad news first. I found so many goodies at the garage sale on Friday that I went back again today to add to my stash. But the weather had turned cooler and the folks had closed up shop for the weekend. Oh well.

My disappointment was brief, because I liked what I found on Friday. Great stuff. I could stand in front of that guy's file cabinet for a week-and-a-half and find something I want.

So here is what I took home. Again, nothing spectacular, but I found it interesting and very useful in the vast card collecting scheme of things.

We'll start with the Mike Piazzas. I bought 11 cards, including the 1994 Pacific card up top. I find as a Dodger collector that I have a harder time acquiring Piazza cards than almost any other recent player. I blame the Mets fans for that. So I snapped these up quick.

Here is a 1993 Donruss (I can't believe I still need Dodgers from this set), a 1995 Topps cyberstats, a 1994 Stadium Club HR Club member, and a 1993 Triple Play.

Next up, some sort of 1994 Stadium Club subset, a 1996 Donruss, a 1995 Topps subset and a 1994 Upper Deck subset-something or other.

The "heads-behind-the-hands" Piazza card would be annoying if not for the card back:

I love the cartoon. It reminds me of Tank McNamara. Not the same cartoonist, though.

And two more. 1996 Bazooka and 1994 Leaf "Power Brokers" insert. Some of the titles for insert sets are just awful. Power Brokers? Ugh.

Next, I'll feature some odd balls. My 1989 Orel Hershiser Cap'n Crunch card was getting lonely. So Eddie is joining him. The logo on the helmet has been eliminated, which somehow makes it look as if it's made out of clay.

An off-center 1987 Fleer Star Stickers card of Bob Welch. I've always had a soft spot for Welch, all because he struck out Reggie in the '78 World Series. What a glorious "sit-your-ass-down" moment that was.

1983 Donruss Hall of Fame Heroes Burleigh Grimes. I didn't collect much '83 Donruss so the only other Heroes card I have is Roy Campanella. I love that I can get a card of a 1920s spit-baller. And on the card back they don't hide the fact that Grimes was nasty. The words "gruff," "aggressive," and "Old Stubblebeard" are included. I think those are code for "jerk-off."

Staying with Donruss, here's a 1982 Jim Rice. Not sure why I picked up this card, other than he's a Hall of Famer now, and I didn't have it already. Rice wore No. 14, not No. 34. According to this list, a coach, Lee Stange, wore No. 34 from 1981-84. Of course, No. 34 is now Big Papi's number.

Two cards of Don Sutton in full perm mode. I had both of these cards already, but I could use some that are in better shape. This garage sale guy has two full drawers packed with Hall of Famer cards. The vast majority are recent players like Kirby Puckett and Paul Molitor. But I found some key ones digging around.

He also had a binder full of error cards, from back when collecting error cards was the thing to do. I tried looking for the '89 Fleer Billy Ripken card, but he must've sold it already. This '88 Topps Keith Comstock card is the white letter variation that used to sell for much more than the corrected blue letter variation. Now it books for 2 bucks, and if you can find it with roughed up edges at a garage sale, you can get it for like 20 cents.

It always strikes me as odd when I see cards from the late 1980s in less than perfect shape. I thought by the late '80s everyone was protecting their cards as if they were plutonium. Even 5-year-olds were walking around with Bo Jacksons encased in bullet-proof plastic. My late '80s cards are immaculate.

This was the error card I wanted above any other when I was a kid. The 1979 Topps Bump Wills Blue Jays card. As most collectors know, Wills never played for the Blue Jays. A corrected Rangers card was issued later. I've heard conflicting information on which is rarer. Some say the Rangers card is rarer. Some say that neither is rarer.

For years, all I ever saw was the Rangers card. So, to me, the Blue Jays card was rarer. And it's taken me 30 years to acquire it, so there's a point in favor of the Blue Jays card. But, whatever. When I looked at it, I immediately flipped it over to see what team was listed. It says "Rangers."
Lastly, a couple of '72 Topps for the cause. Here is a National League Home Run Leaders card. The back of the card lists the top 10 and is filled with names of players that many current fans have never heard of: Deron Johnson, Earl Williams, Nate Colbert.

Joe Torre, Boyhood Photos of the Stars. This '72 Topps subset is great. This card is great. Not as great as the Bob Bailey card, but still, just look at it. I think that's a church in the background. And Torre's all spiffy.

I bought three other cards that I didn't show here. Probably going to bloggers. Grand total for all the cards: 7 bucks.

So, now you can see why I wanted to go back. And why I'll be looking forward to the next garage sale next year.

Right on!

The 1972 Topps Set blog is back in business!!! After a month of quiet, our friend MMayes is back to featuring the grooviest set around.

And he returns with a bang by featuring the one and only F-Rob, as the kids would say today. He's better known, of course, as Hall of Famer Frank Robinson (how ghastly would it be if we actually referred to stars of the past as "B-Rob" for Brooks Robinson, "J-Rob" for Jackie Robinson or "T.W." for Ted Williams?)

To celebrate the return of the '72 Topps blog, I've decided to feature this monstrosity/rare masterpiece from the 1972 set:

Wow. This is card No. 166, Chris Speier In Action. And someone obviously took the "In Action" statement a bit too literally. This card has seen more action than Kim Kardashian on a "Tilt-a-Whirl" (I don't even know what that means).

I received this card in a trade, believe it or not. I actually requested it, knowing fully its history and condition. Yes, folks, I may not be all there. But that's not the point. The point is, in recognition of the triumphant return of the 1972 Topps blog, what should I do with this card?

A) Put it out of its misery. It's obviously begging to die. Find a landfill and be done with it.
B) Hide it in the shoebox that contains all of those dead president cards that card companies are foisting upon us.
C) Feature it proudly in my '72 Topps binder and make up some story about how my brother thinks Chris Speier is the Antichrist (he did play for the Giants) and has made it his lifelong mission to destroy all of his cards.
D) Take it to Kinko's, blow it up to 8-feet-by-12-feet, hang it on the bedroom wall, and explain to my wife that I really do still like girls.
E) Find Chris Speier's address, send it to him, and ask him to autograph it (I actually like this idea).

Got a better idea? I'm waiting. And so is Boots Day ...

(Thanks for the card, Yarden! Really. I mean it. No, really. I mean it. REALLY).

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Byrd caged

Thanks to reader Drew, my 2009 Topps Series I set is now officially complete. The Marlon Byrd card is mine, and I can remove the throwback Byrd card that I had as a seat-filler.

It's fantastic to see readers out there coming to the rescue of fellow collectors. Because I believe we all know the feeling of thinking we have completed a set only to realize we've missed a card or two. It's happened to me at least a half-dozen times.

Probably the most disturbing case, for me, came with the 1984 Topps set. I had purchased the entire set at once, the first time I had ever done that. It was my intention at the time to rid myself of the time-consuming practice of collecting a set. After all, I was a big shot college boy, and I didn't have time for frivolity (chasing girls and drinking beer is definitely not frivolity. It is gravely serious business).

But much, much later, at least a decade later or more, I was cataloging my '84 set and realized I was missing one card.

It was this card. Todd Cruz, number 773 of the Orioles. I knew I had the entire set when I bought it. I made sure I went through all the cards at the time to see that they were all there. But somewhere along the way, I had lost the Cruz card.

That missing card bothered me more than it ever should have. But the purchase of my first completed set was a point of pride for me then and a 791-card set just wouldn't do.

It was years before I tracked down another Cruz card. But I do have it, and just like Marlon Byrd, I will always remember a non-descript player like Todd Cruz because of how elusive his card was.

Thanks, Drew. I'll keep my eye on the Greinke cards.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Awesome night card, pt. 36

How many times have you uttered the phrase, "I can't believe this guy is still in the league"? I know I've done it often.

But no one has surprised me more by his ability to keep showing up in a major league uniform than Rudy Seanez, featured on this 2008 Upper Deck night card. His career has spanned 20 years. Can you believe that? I can't. He pitched for the Dodgers on two different occasions, including appearing in 73 games in 2007, but I was never all that impressed with anything he did. Such is the life of a reliever.

The thing that most amuses me is how many teams want the guy and then how many teams don't want the guy. Some Rudy Seanez facts:

-- Teams traded for him five times
-- Teams released him six times (the Red Sox released him twice)
-- He has played for eight teams (Indians, Padres, Dodgers, Braves, Padres again, Braves again, Rangers, Red Sox, Royals, Marlins, Padres a third time, Red Sox again, Padres a FOURTH time, Dodgers a third time, Phillies)
-- He also has been a member of three teams for which he never played a major league game -- the Mets, Cubs and Angels.

Please note that Seanez is not left-handed. Lefties seem to hang on forever. But Seanez is a righty.

Some other Seanez facts, according to the quasi-reliable wikipedia:

-- He is 40 years old. He made his major league debut on Sept. 7, 1989.
-- He apparently is a dedicated weight-lifter and mixed martial arts follower who has trained with UFC fighters.
-- He's got a whole bunch of tattoos

Also, says his nickname is "Action Traction." What's that mean? He's good in the snow?

Seanez is now pitching for Salt Lake City, the Angels' Triple A farm team. I kind of hope it's not the end of the line for Rudy. I'd like to see him pitch in a fourth decade. Wouldn't that be something?

Best garage sale of the year

Either later today or tomorrow I'll be headed to the only garage sale I mark on the calendar each year.

I'm not much for garage sales, and when it comes to cards, the garage sale has become one giant landfill for 1991 Donruss. You almost never find anything decent in the card department anymore. Or at least I don't.

But there is this one sale that spans the same weekend each year. It's part of the town's field days weekend, an easy excuse to leave work early, stuff your face and get drunk. A bunch of the town's residents also gather all their junk together and hold a mass garage sale. You can go from house to house to house and buy plates that were eaten on in 1974 and video cassettes of "The Goonies."

One guy with a house on the corner has one of those card-catalog type filing cabinets jammed full with sports cards. I have paid him a visit each of the last 2 or 3 years. You can tell he only got into collecting when he thought he could get rich off of it. So a ton of the cards are from the late '80s/early '90s.

For me, I can always find a card or two from that era that I need. The only years I collected a bunch of cards back then were 1989 and 1991. So, one year at this garage sale I picked up the 1987 Jose Canseco card and another year I bought this card:

Just because it might be the best card of the entire 1987 Topps set. But that's mostly what this guy has. I grabbed a 1986 Roger Clemens card and last year a bunch of '83 Topps that I needed, all of them in excellent shape. But all cards easy to find.

He doesn't care about the price of the cards, which is the way it ought to be for overproduced cards. So you can get anything very cheap. And if you take the time to dig through the vast selection in the file cabinet, you can find some older stuff. He'll let you stand there all day if you want, although I start to feel uncomfortable standing in someone else's garage for more than an hour.

Last year, I grabbed this 1976 Topps Expos checklist because the one I already owned was bought when I was 11. I like the word "retraits" up at the top left. I'm not sure, but I think it means "cancellations." But I pretend it means "retreads," because that's what the Expos were until Andre Dawson came around. (Reader Dominic points out that "retraits" merely means "outs." Thanks Dominic)

I've passed up a 1974 Jim Palmer card because I had it already. I also passed up a Rich Gossage rookie card one year because I didn't have enough money and knew I was going to come back the next day to get it. But Gossage was in town signing autographs that night, which I stupidly forgot about, and the card was gone the next day.

My favorite card bought at this garage sale was this card from last year. The 1969 Topps American League strikeout leaders card. The Indians had some kind of pitching staff in 1968. McDowell struck out 283 and Tiant 264. Sonny Siebert also struck out 146. But it was also the era of the pitcher.

So, who knows what I'll find this weekend. It won't be spectacular. But it will be interesting, and that's all that matters to me.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Questions (but will there be answers?)

I have lots of questions about cards. Most of them are mundane and probably not worth answering. But these are the kinds of questions that hound me until I get an answer, so hopefully someone has one.

Question 1: I bought a blaster of Upper Deck Series 2 today, mostly in the quest to try to snare as many Dodgers as I could. However, I turned up zero Dodgers and a case-load of Mets, which does me no good but probably helps a bunch of bloggers out there.

The question is, does this qualify as a Mets card? It was the guaranteed relic card in the box. Milledge is now a National (or minor leaguer or whatever he is now). But the jersey bit, with the cool stripey line, is obviously a Mets jersey. When I am classifying such cards in my team binder, I always go with what team is listed on the front. In this case, this would be a Nationals card. But the jersey is so apparent. So, Mets fans, is this a Mets card? A Nationals card? Or do you whip it across the room in disgust and let the dog chew it to mush?

Question 2: It also involves the Mets. Here is an Upper Deck Series 2 card of Livan Hernandez. The back of the card claims he's 34 years old. I am officially stifling a guffaw over that factoid.

But that's not why I'm showing the card. Note the logo on the front. It's the interlocking N and Y logo that's on every Upper Deck Mets card I've seen this year.

Except for this card of Jonathon Niese, which features the familiar city skyline logo for some reason. I'm assuming that UD just messed up and put this logo with Niese's card only. I seem to remember seeing it on a blog somewhere. But there's that tiny part of me, the part that thinks it's still 1982 and that there's gold in any error that's found on a card, that hopes this is some rare version of Niese's card.

So the question, and I already know the answer: Do all of Niese's UD cards have the skyline logo?

Question 3: More Upper Deck logo musings. Here is the reliable Red Sox masher Mike Lowell. A guy you just cannot dislike. I hope Yankees fans can at least tolerate the man, like I tolerate Jeter.

But note the logo. There is the blue background that fills the square and you can see the photo is tinted blue in the square.

OK, here is the Upper Deck Series 2 card of Kevin Youkilis, a guy Yankees fans very much dislike. I can see their point. But a team that features A-Rod, Teixeira and a few others has the market cornered on unlikeable players.

But again, look at the logo, if you can see it. The blue background tint is missing, except for the very bottom, in which the blue tint highlights the ground and part of Youkilis' foot. It seems they forgot to fill in the rest of the box. So the question is: do all the Youkilis cards look like this? My guess? You bet.

Question 4: OK, last one, and it's going back a year, and -- I am not joshing you -- it's a question about a checklist. (Yeah, sure, go back to watching your ballgame if you want. I don't blame you if you're bored over checklist talk. But this is important to me!)

This is a checklist for 2008 Topps. It is the 2nd of 3 checklists for Series I. Note the blue and gray circles at the top of the card. We've all seen them. About 8 billion times.

This is the back of the checklist. Thrilling, huh? The back of the card starts with a Year in Review card, Y5 Daisuke Matsuzaka, and ends with a 50th Anniversary All-Rookie team card, AR50 Kenny Lofton (click on the image if you can't read that).

OK, so explain this to me. This also is the back of a 2008 Topps Series I checklist, No. 2 of 3. But note the first card and the last card. The first card is from that ghastly Mickey Mantle Story insert set, MMS50, Mickey and Billy Martin get in a bar fight (OK, I made that up, but it'd be cool, don't you think?). The final card is from the Autographed Cards list, Chien-Ming Wang (I love it when they run a checklist of autographed cards -- like collectors actually have a shot at filling the entire checklist of autographs).

So, the list isn't the same as the first checklist, even though both are the 2nd of 3 from Series I.

Here is the front of that checklist. Note right off the red and gray circles, instead of the blue and gray circles. And the checklist starts with 291, Eugenio Velez, and ends with Mickey Mantle Story, MMS49.

What's the deal? Is this some variation checklist? I've gotten different-colored checklists from hobby packs, but the listing of the cards has always been the same. And I got this card out of a retail pack.

Yeah, I know, it's a checklist, who cares. But this has been bothering me for an entire year. Hopefully, someone can clear it up, so I can remove the question from my brain forever and fill it with some other piece of worthless minutia.

Glad I'm not a Twins fan

I'm a person who is well aware of his faults. No need for you to call attention to them. I know the rundown. I have the list. I check it daily.

But even though I could start a blog on the topic, there are times when I come across a fault of mine that I never knew I had. Trading cards through the blogosphere has brought one particular previously unknown fault into focus, and here it is:

I suck at pulling Minnesota Twins cards.

You may think this isn't much of a fault or that it doesn't even fall under the definition of the word, but let me tell you: if you are trading cards with a Twins fan, it's a definite shortcoming.

I don't know what it is. You may think it's because the Twins are a small-market team and the card companies don't feature as many Twins players. Well, then how come I have no problem pulling Kansas City Royals and Houston Astros? How do you explain my Carlos Lee temple o' cards in the basement? I most certainly pull small-market team cards. How else would I know who Steve Pearce is?

The only thing that brings me solace about my inability to find Twins cards is that I know it could be worse: I could BE a Twins fan and unable to pull Twins cards. Now that would be bad.

You may be chuckling over this, but I know a guy who might not be: Topher of Crackin' Wax. Because he just sent me a bunch of cards that I need, and I am supposed to be reciprocating shortly. The only problem is the Twins well is bone dry. I have a few key Twins cards that will be on the way, but I definitely need to find more to thank Topher for the fine stack of cards.

One of the cards sent was the 2008 Upper Deck Jonathan Broxton card at the top of the post. It's the last card I needed to complete the Dodgers team set. I love it when I can ignore a set forever. 2008 Upper Deck? You officially do not exist anymore.

Here is another set I'm done with forever. 2007 Topps Updates & Highlights. Olmedo Saenz was the last Dodger I needed for that set. Now, there may be some relic of some Dodger out there that I still need, so I guess I better not close the book on the set for good.

Believe it or not, this is my first Joe Beimel card. Half of you are saying, "who's Joe Beimel?" But for Dodger fans, finding a Beimel card a couple of years ago was a necessity. If only so you could show your friends a picture of the reliever who cut his hand on a glass in a bar and KOed himself out of the postseason.

Topher sent three 2007 Upper Deck Dodgers. I still need a bunch more. I keep passing up the marked down '07 Upper Deck packs at Target. I shouldn't do that, considering the number of Dodgers I need. It's just that I find the set very uninspiring.

1993 Upper Deck! Now this is an inspired set. My favorite Upper Deck set ever. I might have mentioned that.

These are the first '93 Upper Deck cards that I have received in a trade that were not Dodgers. I guess that means I'm officially trying to complete the set. The want list is up, and Topher sent about 15 or so '93 UDs. I featured some of the horizontal cards he sent. My favorite is probably the Brook Jacoby card. Before interleague play began it was very odd seeing an American League team playing a National League team. The Indians-Cubs combo reminds me how different that was at the time.

I hope you won't mind me featuring 2008 Heritage cards on the blog 20 years from now. Because I don't expect to finish the set in the near future. But Topher did send 20 or so cards from my Heritage want list. Freddy Sanchez gets to be the cover boy because I like him.
Lastly, here's a Juan Pierre Topps dark card. Down to three Dodgers needed to complete this set.

Here's where another of my faults comes into play. I typed the wrong number into my want list, so instead of getting the Casey Blake Topps dark card, I got a Lastings Milledge dark card. Oh well, at least it's a cool photo.

Topher, thanks a bunch. You'll be happy to know that I went to the market today and my luck with Twins cards finally turned around! Unfortunately, the card collecting gods decided if they were finally going to let me pull Twins, I wouldn't get any Dodgers. Phooey.

(P.S.: Last night, this blog went over 30,000 unique visits since I started tracking stuff like that. Thank you for reading).

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Retro pitcher

When I was growing up, a major league pitcher was required to have two things. He had to have a mustache ...

... and he had to have long hair.

Those were necessities to being allowed to patrol a major league mound. In fact, I think it was in the collective bargaining agreement. "No ball player may be permitted to toe the rubber unless he owns a fabulous head of hair."

And so it went. You pitched. You sported a mustache.

And you had long hair. Pitchers were like Samson. Cut their hair and they couldn't get the ball over the plate. Unless you were Tom Seaver. But Seaver was, like, God.

Sometimes, a pitcher could get away with one terrific mustache and some fierce sideburns. No long hair necessary.

But if you couldn't grow a semi-respectable mustache, like Bob Stanley here. Then you better grow some long hair. And feature some chest hair, too.

It was a fact of life 25, 30 years ago: Mustache ...

... long hair ...

... mustache ...

... long hair ...

... must ---

Wait, what?

You want me to go back to that last card again?

 You don't remember horizontal player cards in 1978 Topps? You say Brian Tallet is a present-day pitcher on the Toronto Blue Jays?

Well, you could have fooled me. Have you seen this guy? He looks like almost every pitcher I saw in the 1970s. Mustache, long, curly, scraggly hair. It's fantastic. I hope he keeps this look for the rest of his career, because I miss it.

After years of Randy Johnson being the only guy who looked like this, we finally have someone else who reminds me of Mike Marshall, Catfish Hunter, Al Hrabosky, Dennis Eckersley, Jack Morris, Sparky Lyle, Pete Vukovich, and even Steve Carlton, for a time.

Long live long hair and the 'stache. Hope you've re-started a trend, Brian.