Friday, July 25, 2014

1953 Topps Project - Preston Ward

Another day, another 1953 Topps card...

Preston Ward is probably one of the more forgettable guys in the '53 Topps set.  His career was relatively short, he was sort of a utility player, and he didn't swing much of a bat.  Though he's depicted with the Cubbies here, he would be dealt to Pittsburgh before the conclusion of the 1953 season.

He did get one of the more interesting backgrounds in the set though, with a nice, large scoreboard depicted over his shoulder.  Gotta love that Cubs logo as well.  I guess this is a decent example of why I like the '53 Topps set so much, even though I've never heard of Preston before this is still a beautiful vintage card if you ask me.

I love the cartoon on the back, and of course overall I think the '53 Topps backs are some of the greatest of any Topps flagship effort.  A nice large cartoon, the best card numbering scheme I've ever seen with the large, easy-to-read baseball, and I love the red facsimile signatures used as watermarks beneath the write-up.  Not to mention fielding statistics!

Set Progress:  72 of 274 (26%)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pack Rip - 2009 O-Pee-Chee Retail

A month or two ago I put in an order at Dave and Adam's Card World to re-stock my unopened wax shelf in my office/hobby room.  One of the items I picked up was a blaster of 2009 O-Pee-Chee baseball:

Yes, there is a $20 sticker on the front of this box, but no, I did not pay $20.  Thanks to a Memorial Day weekend sale this entire blaster set me back just $7.95.  In retrospect I wish I would have picked up a couple more, given that it comes to about 50 cents a pack at this price.  I wasn't big on this product when it first hit the shelves for some reason, but as the years have gone by I've come to appreciate it more and more.  I could see myself trying to complete the 600-card set someday.

The back of the blaster contained a nice omen for a Red Sox fan like myself, in the form of Dustin Pedroia's fantastic base card from the set.  Unfortunately the packaging was damaged enough that even using my wife's paper cutter (she's into cards of a different sort, greeting cards) I was unable to salvage Dustin.  Maybe I'll pull the card from one of the 15 packs inside and it won't matter...

I like spreading things out over time, so I'm only going to rip and post the first pack for today.  Six cards in each, with one being a black-bordered parallel.  Let's see what's inside...

2009 was the final year in probably the best four-year stretch of Morneau's career.  He hit at least .270, had at least 23 home runs, at least 30 doubles, and at least 100RBI every year from 2006 (when he won the AL MVP award) through 2009.  He's with the Rockies now, and seems to be enjoying Coors Field as most hitters do.

To me, the cards that feature in-game action are far more interesting.  The portrait shots have grown on me some though.  This one, however, is pretty lackluster.

I think these parallels are a big part of the reason the product tanked overall.  They were initially supposed to be a retro O-Pee-Chee design but I seem to recall some legal snafu, and the end result was the parallels that collectors were super excited about ended up being nothing but base cards with black borders.  Chris Volstad is apparently playing in Korea now, this one is definitely off to the trade box.

Normally I'm irked when a multi-set insert like this one takes up one of the cards in my pack, especially in a pack with just six cards to begin with.  In this case, I'm pumped.  What a great shot of the Splendid Splinter in mid-swing at Fenway Park!  A great new addition to my Red Sox collection for sure.

First it was Pedroia on the back of the box, and now I've pulled back-to-back Red Sox cards in the first pack.  I think this is going to prove to be a winning box for this Sox fan, even if this particular card is a double...

Closing out the pack we've got a nice horizontal card, which I think work particularly well in this set.  I was shocked to see how many teams Nady has signed with since this card was released (Cubs, Diamondbacks, Nationals, Giants, Royals, Rockies, Padres and Mariners!).  His career may be over as he's currently a free agent after exercising an opt-out clause in his contract with Seattle just last month.

A great start to this blaster, I'll be sure to show at least a few more packs in the coming weeks and months...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Billy Werber - Another Diamond Star

Here's the third Diamond Stars card I've been fortunate enough to land in recent months, #61 Billy Werber:

Billy, or "Billie" as National Chicle referred to him as in 1935, actually began his career with the Yankees before being dealt to Boston during the 1933 season.  Apparently he was sort of your typical utility infielder/speedy base-runner.  He led the league in stolen bases his first two full seasons in Boston, and played multiple infield positions during that stretch, though he was primarily a third baseman.

The card's a little off-center, but other than that is in better shape than the majority of my cards that are this old.  Many of the cards from this set have art-deco, cityscape backgrounds but in this case it's sort of an odd rainbow-style set of stripes.

Werber lived a very long life, making it to the century mark before passing away in 2009.  A bit of bar room trivia...he was the last living teammate of the great Babe Ruth!

Since there are only six Red Sox on the checklist, this card puts me at 50% of a team set with three in the bag.  At around the cost of a blaster ($21), it was a no-brainer.  Hopefully I'll pick up one or two more before 2014 comes to a close!

Monday, July 21, 2014

In Case You Didn't Get Your Fill of Jeter Last Week...

If you watched the MLB All-Star Game last week, you might have heard a word or two about this guy Derek Jeter.  He plays shortstop for the Yankees, apparently.  I guess he's retiring after this season or something.  Oh, and Adam Wainwright served him up a couple of meatballs at the beginning of the game, so if the Cardinals lose the Series in 7 this year you can blame him for allowing Derek Jeter to get a double and thus losing home field advantage for the NL.

Anyway, I may be a Red Sox fan but I don't discriminate against the Yankees when it comes to my collection.  In fact, as a fan of baseball I can appreciate that they are one of, if not the, most significant franchises in baseball history.  I decided that after all these years watching him play (pretty frequently too, as a fan of another AL East team), it was high time to add a Jeter rookie card to my collection.  Here's what I ended up with:

I'm not even sure if this qualifies as a rookie, as it's from the 1994 set, and he had numerous cards issued in '93.  I can tell you that it features a young, fresh-faced Jeter in a classic baseball pose, indicates that he's a top prospect, and was issued long before he ever appeared in an MLB game.  That counts as a rookie in my book.  Throw in the fact that my copy is an "Electric Diamond" parallel and I couldn't resist picking this one up.

This card is a shining example of why I'll probably never finish half of my card-related collections/projects.  If I had unlimited time and were to list out in chronological order every single card I would want to own, this guy would probably come in somewhere around number 8,479.  Yet I went out of my way to spend $3.01 of my monthly hobby budget on it.  At least I got free shipping.  Besides, I think keeping things varied is what keeps me interested in the hobby and coming back for more year after year.

So, I gladly welcome this card of Red Sox nemesis Derek Jeter to my collection.  He's been scanned in, put in a toploader, and is now sitting in a monster box alongside my Nomar Garciaparra rookies!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Signature Sundays - Another Trio from Contenders

Panini sneakily included a bunch of hand-signed Classics Signatures cards into their 2013-14 Contenders release, so now I'm chasing these autographs all over again just as I was about to wrap the series up.  Here are three more knocked off the list...

One of the greatest American-born defenseman to play the game, Derian was inducted into the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010.  A first round draft pick for the Stars franchise in 1990 (when they were still in Minnesota), he would become captain of the team and lead them to Stanley Cup glory in 1999.  There is a whole lot going on with that autograph, that's for sure.


640 career goals and well over 1,300 points.  Finally won a Cup with Tampa Bay at the tail end of his career.  I guess the argument you could make against him (and probably the reason he's not in the Hall) is that his numbers are based largely on longevity.  He played the sixth most regular season games of anyone ever, and never had a single 100 point season despite playing in a highly offensive era.


Here's a guy you wouldn't want to see lined up across the ice from you.  Twist was regularly mixing it up with opponents, and by all accounts threw one of the hardest punches of his time.  Just type his name into YouTube and you'll quickly see what I mean.  I'm surprised he even had the hand strength to sign this card after punching all that face over the years.  He retired at a relatively young age when a serious motorcycle accident forced a premature end to his career, but he's remained involved in the world of sports as an analyst/radio show host.

Maybe not the biggest names, but three interesting players nonetheless...

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Flipping Dupes for Flair, and a Magnificent Matsuzaka

As Zistle has grown in popularity, having my collection (and more importantly my want and trade lists) on the site has really paid dividends.  I would say at least once a month now I'm contacted by someone looking to give me some cards I want in exchange for some I don't.  The latest trade to fall into my lap in this fashion was with user 'hpennington22', whom I've traded with once before.

This time around our trade involved many more cards.  I think I cleared about 80 cards from my doubles box!  In return I got a variety of things, but what I was most excited about were the 45 cards that got knocked off my 1993 Flair want list!

This set was something else back in the day.  It was so "exquisite" that each pack came in its own little box, and I can vaguely recall single packs selling for close to $10 shortly after the set hit the shelves.  When I got back into collecting in 2007 and found out I could have an entire hobby box for $25, I was sold.  I've been lazily accumulating the cards I didn't pull in my box ever since...

I still think these look pretty great, and have stood the test of time.  At the very least they're significant in the history of our hobby as one of the first "super premium" sets.  Fleer's answer to the Finest cards from Topps I guess.



With this giant stack crossed off my list I'm down to just 13 cards to complete the 300-card set.  I do have a couple of bigger names left, like Griffey and Clemens, but even those can be found easily for less than a dollar nowadays.  Finishing this one off shouldn't be too difficult now.

Another set I'm not really collecting actively but will gladly accept any new cards from is the 2008 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes release.  There were 9 new cards from this set in this trade package.  I guess this one was the best, but I never understood these combo cards at the end of the set.  Aside from all being really, really good players, what do these four guys have in common?

Of course there were some Red Sox included as well, like this pair that I still needed from last year's Archives set...


Here's one for the team collector only.  An unlicensed product, and a guy with exactly 9 games of Major League experience (with the Orioles mind you, not the Red Sox).

I've got the majority of these 1972 Topps Mini inserts from last year's Series 1 flagship product, but Henry managed to send me three I still needed.


I'm at 43/50 for this set now!  The problem is they continued them in Series 2.  I have exactly 0 of those.

I just got the Opening Day version of this great Youkilis card from Mark Kaz the other day, and now the standard base version can accompany it in my collection.


A pair of 2013 Heritage Sox.  I have nearly a complete team set now, just a couple more to go, all done through trading.

I was really surprised that I still needed this 2008 Allen & Ginter card, but in fact I did.  Down to just Tim Wakefield and three short prints to put this team set to bed.

The 2009 Goudey set is most well known for having images that look nothing like the players.  This is a prime example, that just does not look like Jed Lowrie in any way, shape or form.

Others, like this one, don't look half bad.

I saved my single favorite card in the entire package for last:

The 2008 Opening Day set from Topps is a thing of beauty for a Red Sox fan like myself.  The color scheme is perfect, the roster chock full of stars, and the team was just coming off of a World Series Championship in 2007.

That's all for today, another great swap courtesy of Zistle.  Thanks for the cards Henry!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mark Kaz is Awesome

Finally found some time this evening to scan in the great package of cards I received a week or two ago from my good buddy Mark Kaz of "This Way to the Clubhouse...".  Mark has quickly shot up the ranks as one of my favorite and most frequent trade partners.  Any time I send him a package, a new stack of cards begins on my card desk, and as soon as it gets big enough to justify the couple bucks it takes to ship a bubble mailer, off go they go again.  By the same token, Mark has inflated my Red Sox collection over and over again in recent months.  So, when I pulled a Matt Harvey futures game variation from a hanger box of 2014 Topps Series 2 I knew where to send it!

In return, some more great Sox...

Manuel Margot is apparently still down in A-ball, but he's having a very good season with 8 homers and 30 stolen bases so far.  This card made me realize how bad my scanner bed had gotten.  I immediately grabbed Windex and a paper towel, and you'll notice much cleaner scans from here on out.

I got my first taste of 2014 Bowman in this package.  It goes against every fiber of my collecting being to say this but...I think...I actually like this Bowman set.

I know I like Xander Bogaerts rookie cards, regardless of the brand!  This represents just my fifth Bogaerts card, but there's one coming at the end of the post that's better than any of the others I have.

Koji is another guy who's sadly under-represented in my Sox collection.  He was one of only two Boston players to make the AL All-Star team this year.

I saw something during the All-Star game broadcast this past week that was illustrating the number of shortstops the Red Sox have had in the years since Jeter's been entrenched in New York.  I think it was in the mid-'50s (don't hold me to that) or some crazy high number like that.  Scutaro, though he wasn't here long, filled in very well in that spot from what I recall.

This package had not one...

...not two...

...but three gold parallels from 2010 Topps Update!  I'm a sucker for a good parallel.  I don't know where Mark finds all these!

How about some 2012 Topps Opening Day?


These three (what a pair of horizontal action photos on the last two!) put me within just a couple of cards of knocking out this team set.

I have very few cards of Mark Loretta with the Sox.  Though he's depicted with the Padres, the OCD side of me is totally good with this one because he's designated as a Red Sox player on the card.  If it were the other way around, Sox uniform but Padres team listed, no way!

My very first card of reliever Rudy Seanez in a Red Sox uniform.

I've picked up a couple of 2014 Series 2 hanger boxes, but was not fortunate enough to land this Jackie Bradley Jr. Future Stars card.  I am one collector who's grateful that Topps brought back the Future Stars to this year's flagship release.

I hadn't pulled Felix Doubront either, and I don't see myself picking up any more 2014 Topps, so these two were definitely appreciated.

Another great Uehara card.  I don't think anyone could have possibly foreseen how dominant this guy would be for such a long stretch of time at his late age.  Unreal.

This one was on my Zistle want list before Mark sent it my way!

This package arrived either the very day, or the next day after, A.J. Pierzynski was designated for assignment.  He certainly wasn't the biggest problem with this year's team, but he wasn't exactly clubbing the ball out of the park either.  Plus he just seemed like a total pain in the ass (apparently a common opinion among players as well).  Nonetheless, what was it I just said about a good parallel?

I may not be a big Clemens fan, but I do love the many varieties of subsets in the 1991 Score set.  This is everything an obnoxious, early-'90s baseball card should be!

Wow!  I know relic cards may not carry as much weight in the hobby as they did a few years back, but this one is cool for a number of reasons.  First of all, I don't have a ton of Ortiz relics (this would make four).  More importantly though, this card is from 2007, which happens to be the year I returned to collecting.  Oh, and Red Sox won the World Series that year as well.

And now, for my favorite card in the entire package, and probably my favorite card of 2014 so far...

I am definitely glad I cleaned my scanner!  This beauty, which hails from 2014 Bowman, pays tribute to the 1989 Bowman set, one I remember fondly.  It looks just as great in person as it does in the scan, just a beautiful card.  Bogaerts has a really unique signature too, making for a fantastic card all around.  I nearly picked this up on eBay multiple times, but was hesitant to pay a few bucks just to have it shipped.  What a beauty!

Here's the back, which will look familiar (though not exact) to those of you who were collecting 25 years ago.

Mark, you've outdone yourself once again!  I hope to repay the favor soon, and I've already picked up a few cards specifically destined for your mailbox!
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