Sunday, December 4, 2016

Signature Sundays - John Olerud

Why did I bother picking this one up?  Well, as I've said probably a hundred times now over the course of writing this blog, I'm all about 1990 Topps.  This John Olerud auto is from the traded set, but that's fine with me.  I was always a big fan of Olerud's, I think largely due to the fact that I was at a very impressionable age during his monster 1993 season.

As the lone bidder at less than $10 I was happy to scoop this card up, especially because there are only 13 copies in existence.  Another satisfying, cheap autograph courtesy of Archives Signature Series.  The signature doesn't show all too well against the dark Blue Jays jersey, and I've already got a couple of Olured cards I like better than this one.  I'm still pleased with it given the low cost combined with the relative scarcity.

On a side not, now that I have a handful of these Archives autographs, I'm considering busting them from their holders and including them for evaluation in my buyback franken-set.  Not this one in particular since it's a traded card, but maybe some of the others.  After all, they are buybacks of original cards just like the rest of the franken-set, and why should I hold the fact that they're autographed against them?  If anything I think they might make the set even more interesting...

What do you think?

Friday, December 2, 2016

Buyback Franken-set: A Painful Rejection!

Today we return to my buyback franken-set project.  I've got so many of these still to process that I'd love to get another ten cleared off the desk here.  Today's post culminates in probably the hardest card I've had to reject from the set thus far.  Before we get to that though, let's evaluate the other nine...

1975 Topps #418 - Leo Foster

A nice '75 Topps card out of the gate, and one that makes the cut without contest in slot 418.  Don't have a whole lot to say about Leo though, whose 5-year MLB career added up to less than a full season's worth of games.  Let's keep moving...

1978 Topps #94 - Chuck Scrivener

Chuck Scrivener's entire MLB career came between the years of 1975 and 1977 with the Tigers.  He's pictured on a '78 Topps card here, but never played in an MLB game in '78, or in any year after.  Unlike Leo Foster above, he's got some competition for the franken-set as well...

Hmm...a nice '64 buyback featuring a couple of guys I don't know vs. a '78 buyback with one guy I don't know...

Easy decision there.

1969 Topps #583 - Clyde Wright

Next up, hurler Clyde Wright, whose 1970 Topps card is already in the set.  That one is much more significant given the impressive season that Wright enjoyed in 1970, including a no-hitter.  I figured this card would be an automatic inclusion anyway with a number as high as 583, but it turns out I've already got one of those in the binder:

There aren't a lot of circumstances where I'd choose a '77 Topps card over a '69...

...and this is not one of them.

1974 Topps #415 - Gary Gentry

Next up is a late-career card of Gary Gentry, who most fans probably associate more as a starting pitcher for the 1969 "Miracle Mets" during his rookie season.  This particular card isn't anything too special in my eyes, and unfortunately it has a pretty rough match-up when it comes to the franken-set in the form of one of the older buybacks in the binder to date:

Bob Bowman stays, Gary Gentry goes.

1973 Topps #9 - Johnny Oates

Johnny Oates carved out an 11-year big league career, despite being more known for his fielding prowess than for his ability to swing the bat.  He's better known for his time as a manager with the Orioles and Rangers, and was at the helm when Texas achieved its first ever playoff berth.  This card is blocked though from sliding into the lower right corner of the first page of the franken-set...

1960 AL Rookie of the Year Ron Hansen, shown here on his 1967 Topps release, stands in Johnny Oates' way.

I guess I just enjoy the '67 set too much, poor Johnny!

1979 Topps #431 - Glenn Borgmann

Glenn Borgmann's '75 Topps card was already bounced from the franken-set (and will be shipped to Greg at Night Owl Cards at some point in the near future).  Will his '79 card fare any better?  It's not looking good, as I already have a much more interesting card in slot 431:

There's just no way I could give this awesome, dusty catcher card the boot in favor of Glenn.

1973 Topps #118 - John Mayberry

Another '73 up next here.  Looks like a photograph taken at a half-empty Spring Training facility.  1973 was really John Mayberry's second full MLB season, and he topped the 25 HR/100 RBI mark for the second consecutive year.  While he put up some good power numbers, he also displayed a pretty impressive batter's eye, leading the league with 122 walks and a .417 OBP.  He was selected as an All-Star for the first time in his career, and even earned some MVP votes.  He has a card blocking his path as well though...

Love this Heritage buyback of Sens pitcher Mike McCormick.  Plus it was sent to me by my collecting buddy Joe Shlabotnik.

I decided to keep the McCormick when I prepped up this post, but after reading more into John Mayberry's career I'm second guessing this one to say the least.  I think when I get a little more caught up I might do one "reflection" post where I revisit a couple of the choices I've made to date.  When that time comes, this John Mayberry will be at the top of that list.

1978 Topps #478 - Jerry Remy

After four straight rejected cards we finally land on a number that's new for the franken-set with this '78 Topps Jerry Remy.  Remy is already in the franken-set with the Red Sox, and now he's represented with the Angels as well.  This card is pretty badly beaten up for a '78, but it's better than an empty slot in the binder.

1979 Topps #605 - Rick Monday

Rick Monday's 1979 Topps release makes the binder by default as well, which isn't surprising with a card number as high as 605.  I believe this is the first '79 Topps buyback I've landed that features the additional All-Star banner.

1970 Topps #2 - Diego Segui

Finally, as teased at the outset of the post, the most painful card from this lot.  Like so many baseball fans, I'm fascinated by the Pilots, and I think this 1970 Topps Diego Segui would probably rank within my top 30 favorite buybacks, period, at this point in time.  I really, really, really wanted to include this one in my set, but there's a big conflict here to be settled as I current have this card in slot 2:

I know I'm in the absolute minority here, but I adore 1990 Topps as it was the first baseball card set I collected heavily as a kid.  I sought this buyback out specifically towards the beginning of this project.  It's so full of childhood memories and nostalgia for me that I simply can't oust it from the franken-set, at least not at this point.  So...

...Diego comes out on the losing end of this one.  Of the close to 50 buybacks that are in the rejected box I'd have to say this one hurts the most.  Maybe I'll re-evaluate this match-up some day as well.  Hell, maybe at some point I'll get really crazy and start up a second "B-team" franken-set.  If that day ever comes Segui will have a spot, without question.

A lot of conflicts in today's post, so the set completion only got bumped up by 3 cards.  I'm sitting at a tidy 220 cards in the binder now...

Franken-set Progress:  220/792 (28%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  47

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

This "Blaster" Brought to You by COMC

I've been a little heavy on the buyback franken-set posts lately, so let's take a break today and look at another virtual "blaster" from COMC.  Besides, I need to make some room before my Black Friday shipment arrives in a few weeks.

Simple concept, the $20 I would have spent on a retail blaster that would most likely have left me feeling unsatisfied instead goes into my COMC account.  Let's see how far $20 goes this time...

2014 Topps Finest Xander Bogaerts X-Fractor RC - $1.63

Mookie Betts had an amazing 2016 season, but Xander Bogaerts is still my favorite player on the current Red Sox roster.  I scoop up interesting cards of his anytime I can find them on the cheap.  Aside from that though, I absolutely love what Topps did with the 2014 Finest set.  These are some of the more loud and colorful cards in recent memory.  Unfortunately only 3 Red Sox players made the relatively small checklist, but I'm glad Bogaerts was one of them.  Off to a great start here.

1992 Score Factory Set Joe DiMaggio Insert - $.44

There are a variety of reasons why I might pick up any given card off of COMC.  Sometimes, as with this Joe DiMaggio card, the reason is just the dirt cheap price.  Well, that and the fact that despite collecting pretty heavily as a kid in the early '90s I had no recollection of these insert cards from Score.  An awesome photograph of Joltin' Joe on this one.

1959 Topps Hal Griggs - $.50

I've been half-heartedly plugging away at the '59 Topps set for a while now.  I am paying no attention to condition here, at least at this early phase.  Instead, I basically scoop up just about any common card I don't have if I can find it for around 50 cents or slightly more.  Pitcher Hal Griggs' card hit that number right on the nose.

1959 Topps Chico Fernandez - $.55

Here's an even better example of how little condition matters to me at the outset of my '59 set.  You can see in the upper right that some aspiring collector went ahead and labeled this as a '59 Topps card, lest he or she should forget.  Maybe when I get much further along someday I'll circle around and replace some of the worst examples, but for now this doesn't bother me in the least.

1959 Topps Gene Freese - $.48

If there's one thing I do try to pay at least some attention to with this set build it's the centering of the cards.  Really poor centering bothers me more than dinged corners, or even pen marks do.  This one is badly off-center, and is scratched pretty well on the surface too, but for 48 cents I got to cross another number off of my want list.  All three of these were relatively high number cards too, falling in the #400 - #500 range.

2015 Bowman Platinum Silver Parallel Mike Napoli (#'d /499) - $.35

I'm a sucker for serial-numbered parallels, and this one definitely falls into the "it was just cheap" category.  One of the least interesting cards in this post if I'm being honest, but I do like it a bit more after the monster 2016 season that Napoli just enjoyed with Cleveland.

2013 Topps Mini Gold Parallel Bartolo Colon (#'d /62) - $.89

Count me among the many baseball fans that get a ton of amusement out of the ageless wonder that is Bartolo Colon.  I can't think of another sport where someone with the combination of Colon's age and body type could still be playing, and doing so successfully.  Every so often I take a peek at his available cards on COMC and I think I got a real bargain on this one.  I know the Topps Mini release isn't for everyone, but $.89 seemed like a steal for a card of a semi-star with just 62 copies in circulation.  I actually have some Colon cards even rarer than this one waiting for their day on the blog...

1973-74 Topps Chuck Lefley - $1.83

In terms of the price I paid, this Chuck Lefley base card might be the least appealing card in this post.  Why did I shell out $1.83 for this?  Because it filled what was the last empty slot in my 1973-74 Topps set.  It was worth a couple of bucks just to put this set to rest for good, especially since it's the oldest hockey card set I've completed to date!

1963 Topps Fred Hutchinson - $.40

This '63 Topps Fred Hutchinson was a no-brainer.  If you can look past the rounded corners (which I certainly can) it presents pretty well.  I will never tire of this particular Reds team logo either, and as a general rule I'll gladly accept any vintage manager card that I don't already own.

2014 Topps Wal-Mart Blue Parallel Will Middlebrooks - $.62

Ah, Will Middlebrooks.  What could have been!  This guy looked like the team's future third baseman for a while there, but his career has really gone off a cliff.  Doesn't mean I'm not interested in a nice Future Stars parallel for my Sox collection though.

2009-10 Upper Deck Champ's Yellow Parallel Evgeni Malkin - $2.35

I've been chasing these one-per-hobby-box Yellow parallels from 2009-10 Champ's since the set was released.  $2.35 is closer to the upper end of what I'd spend on one of these, but they are very difficult to find and Malkin has also been one of the better players in the league over the last few seasons.  There are only 100 of these to track down so every one that I add feels significant.

2011 Gypsy Queen Framed Paper Parallel Red Schoendienst (#'d /999) - $.49

You know you're a proper baseball card collector/fan if you can spell Schoendienst correctly without looking it up!  I've really soured on Gypsy Queen over the years, and I kind of wish Topps would give the set a rest.  I gobbled up the first release back in 2011 though, with my absolute favorites being these Framed Paper parallels (or their Framed Green retail counterparts).  I hope to complete the entire 100-card set of these in the future, and this great shot of Red gets me one step closer.

2013 Topps Gold Parallel Ryan Sweeney (#'d /2013) - $.57

A nice enough card, but if I had to pick one from this post to get rid of this would be it.  It's not a bad card or anything, it's just not all that interesting either.  Plus, I probably could have found one in a dime or quarter box at some point.  It's cards like this that have me rethinking whether I want to continue accumulating every Red Sox card that I can, or instead scale back a bit and focus on select sets or players that are more interesting to me.

2010 Topps Update Legends Variation Jim Palmer - $2.00

This one, on the other hand, I love!  I will never tire of the retired Legends parallels that existed in the flagship and Update sets for a few years there.  I would love to acquire every one of them someday, but they aren't all that common and sometimes command a pretty penny.  If I find one that I didn't have yet for just a couple of bucks or less I'm sold.

1994-95 Pinnacle Rink Collection Martin Brodeur - $1.00

If you've been reading the blog for any length of time you've probably seen me say that the Rink Collection parallels from Pinnacle are some of my favorite cards of the '90s.  The chance to add one of the greatest goaltenders in the history of the game to my collection for just a buck was one I couldn't pass up.

2008 Upper Deck Masterpieces Nolan Ryan - $1.10

Who doesn't love the Masterpieces sets that Upper Deck put out almost a decade ago now?  I completed the entire 2007 set, but never did so with 2008 thanks to the introduction of short prints.  This Nolan Ryan is one such short print.  You don't see this angle on too many cards, and I love the gaudy '80s Astros jersey.  A solid addition to my small Nolan Ryan collection for just a hair over a dollar.

2011 Topps Legends Variation Cognac Diamond Anniversary Parallel Larry Walker - $.80

Man is that a mouthful!  In 2011 the Legends parallels got the same Diamond and Cognac Diamond treatment as the base cards did, so if you count the regular release there are actually three versions of each retired player to collect.  At 80 cents I would pick these up all day long.  Hell, I'd probably buy some that I already have at that price just to use as trade bait.
2016 Topps Gypsy Queen Eduardo Rodriguez Autograph - $1.95

I had really high hopes for lefty Eduardo Rodriguez coming into the 2016 season, and was psyched to land a certified autograph from Gypsy Queen for less than $2.  Rodriguez had a so-so year, but did show some flashes of brilliance.  Either way, this is a nice enough on-card autograph and I didn't exactly have to break the bank to obtain it.

1959 Topps Jack Urban - $.61

Just about approaching the $20 mark here, only a couple of cards to go.  Despite the little stain or whatever in the lower right corner this is a card that's in decent enough shape that I'll likely never feel compelled to try to upgrade it.  For 61 cents I'll take that!

1994 Topps Finest Refractor - Julio Franco - $1.45

I'm fascinated with people in any sport that play until well beyond the age of most of their competitors.  There is some dispute as to his true age, but the general consensus is that Julio took his final Major League at-bat at age 48.  That is just unreal to me, and makes me feel young at heart as well.  When I found his '94 Finest Refractor at what I'd consider a bargain price, I jumped on it.  I have no idea how rare these are compared to their infamous predecessors from the year prior, but they do seem to be relatively scant.  They're also shiny as hell and look outstanding in the right light at the right angle.

Well, that brings us very close to the cost of a retail blaster at $20.01, so I'll stop there for today.  Works out pretty well too, having started and ended the post with a Topps Finest baseball card.  I say this every time, and sound like a broken record doing so, but there's a slim to none chance that a retail blaster would have provided me anywhere near this level of enjoyment.  For this reason, COMC will continue to get the bulk of my hobby funds for the foreseeable future.  Sorry Target!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

One Card Post - A "Most Wanted" Card

What:  1981 Fleer #223 - Fred Lynn
Where:  Jim, aka Mr. Haverkamp
How Much?:  Nothing!

:  Because Jim is a really nice guy.  He noticed that I had this card on my "Most Wanted" list in my blog sidebar, had an extra copy, and sent it to me just because.  Just the latest example of the generosity I seem to encounter at every turn in this hobby!  Thanks Jim!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Buyback Franken-set: Forging On

Back to the grind for me today after the long holiday weekend, let's get back to the grind with the buyback franken-set as well.  Another ten to sift through and evaluate today....

1973 Topps #324 - Al Downing

We start off with yet another tilted camera Spring Training shot courtesy of 1973 Topps.  Al had no idea when this picture was taken that in a year or two he'd give up Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run.  For now, Downing and those palm trees in the background are in.

1972 Topps #167 - Deron Johnson

Next up, another early '70s card where the background is the most interesting part of the card.  I have no idea where this photograph was taken, or what's going on there, but there seem to be a lot of casually-dressed folks roaming about.  Deron Johnson, who led the NL in RBI in 1965, is in as well!

1976 Topps #147 - Houston Astros Team

For whatever reason I've been inducting a lot of these team cards to the franken-set lately, and today's post brings us another candidate.  The Astros were a sub-.500 team in 1976, finishing third in the NL West.  There's already a card in the binder in slot 147 though, and it's also Astros-related: lonely Astro with a fading buyback stamp vs. an entire team of Astros (with a manager who won Rookie of the Year as a player)...

I hate to do it, but Lum has been relegated to the rejected box.

1977 Topps #124 - George Mitterwald

Unbelievably, this is the third card of George Mitterwald to make the franken-set so far, joining his '71 and '78 Topps releases.  I'm well on my way to a complete Mitterwald buyback collection at this point (every collector's dream, I'm sure).  More great palm trees in the background on this one as well.

1975 Topps #296 - Alan Foster

According to Wikipedia, the most interesting factoid from Alan Foster's MLB career was that he served up the pitch that Willie Stargell blasted completely out of Dodger Stadium in 1969.  The 500+ foot shot is still the longest ever hit at the Stadium.  Alan makes the cut for the franken-set.

At the halfway point here that's four out of five brands new cards, and the one conflict won out over its competitor.  A great start, let's see the other five I've got queued up for today...

1976 Topps #93 - Mike Phillips

Sort of an odd angle on this posed "bat barrel shot".  Probably my least favorite photograph out of today's batch.  I didn't have a #93 buyback previously so this card is in for now.  I don't expect it to have a very long shelf life in the franken-set though, especially since Mike is already included in the franken-set on his '79 Topps release.

1978 Topps #343 - John Wathan

John Wathan spent his entire 10-year career as a catcher with the Royals.  He eclipsed 100 games played just three times, but was a fairly reliable player.  His 1978 release is a decent one to have representing him in the franken-set (this one is in uncontested), as it's one of three times where he batted .300 or better over the course of his career.  He retired after the Royals won it all in 1985.

1977 Topps #586 - Steve Renko

Steve Renko's career was coming to a close just as I was born into this world in the early '80s, so I don't really know much about him.  In looking at the stats he seemed like a really up or down type starting pitcher.  He once led the NL in wild pitches, and in another year led the NL in earned runs.  Not a pair of categories you want to be the statistical leader in, but it seems like he also showed flashes of brilliance.  He pitched 5 one-hitters in his career, including one where Rickey Henderson broke up a no-no in the bottom of the 9th.  Ouch!  Steve's '77 release makes the cut and is in the binder.

1967 Topps #9 - Ron Hansen

Ron Hansen's '67 Topps card makes the franken-set as well.  He was actually the 1960 AL Rookie of the Year, and was named an All-Star that same season (his lone career selection).  At card #9, Ron has a spot front and center on the first page of the binder.

Despite being well over 200 cards in now, I still haven't completed a single page yet, though this first page and a couple of others are getting close.  I do plan to show the completed pages as part of these posts once I get to that point though, so hopefully you'll be seeing a couple of them in the near future! 

1973 Topps #35 - Willie Davis

Last card for today is definitely my favorite photograph of the bunch.  I've always enjoyed the action-packed, horizontal shot of Willie Davis ducking a wild pitch (at least that's my guess) on his '73 Topps card.  Nice to have it in buyback format.  I didn't have a #35 previously either, so this card is in.  It's going to be a serious challenger to any future #35 buybacks if that day comes.

That was a great lot from my perspective.  Nine of the ten cards were brand new numbers for the franken-set, and the one that had a conflict won out over its competitor.  Can't ask for much more than that, especially at this stage of the project.

I'll be back with another round of ten later this week as I push towards 30% complete!

Franken-set Progress:  217/792 (27%)
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