Thursday, March 15, 2018

Dollar Boxin' - Starting Lineup!

Recently I found an eBay seller with a nice selection of dollar cards and free shipping provided you purchase 20 or more.  I sort of thought of it as the online equivalent of a good dollar box at a card show.  I've already gotten one post out of my haul, and I've got a few more to come still, but this evening I've got some Starting Lineup hockey cards!

There were a good number of Starting Lineup cards available from various years, but my favorites are these 1993s.  Probably because these were released during the height of my childhood hockey fandom.  In fact, I even had a couple of these Starting Lineups as a kid, and still had both of the Lindros and Jagr cards in my collection prior to this.

There were twelve subjects in the set in 1993, and each player had two cards included in the packaging with their figure; a standard card like the Mario Lemieux above...

...and a variation like this "Superstar Scorer" Brett Hull.  Yup, these are just awesome, and so '90s as far as the design goes.

Landed both the standard and variation Super Mario cards.

Couple of close-up shots of Jeremy Roenick...

...and Brett Hull on their standard cards.

Stevie Y!

Ray Bourque's base card wasn't available but I did score his "Hit Man" variation card.  I think I might actually have the base one in a box somewhere waiting to be processed.

One of the reasons that I jumped at these is that they're not all that easy to find in my experience.  As I said the only ones I had prior to this were my original copies from childhood.

Quite a few of the ones I've shown here aren't even available to purchase on COMC right now for example, and the few that are are selling in the $3-4 and up range.

Pretty sweet "dollar box" finds indeed if you ask me!  This little $10 spending spree has me at more than 50% of the 24-card set now, I may have to search out the remaining cards I'm missing at this point.

You hockey card collectors out there...did you have any Starting Lineup figures or cards back in the day?  Do you have any in your collection now?

Monday, March 12, 2018

Buyback Franken-set: Heritage Season

Yes, it's Topps Heritage season.  I don't get all that excited for the Heritage set each year.  When I first got back into collecting over a decade ago now I loved it, but these days I'm just not a set collector.  What I do get excited about are the 50th Anniversary box-topper buybacks!

With Topps seemingly done with the standard buybacks that appeared over the last four years in the flagship set and other releases, the Heritage buybacks will be my only chance to add newly produced buybacks to the franken-set going forward.  Fine with me, they've always been my favorite type of buyback anyway.

With the 2018 Heritage set having hit shelves recently, the secondary market is flooded with 1969 buybacks.  I've grabbed a couple of lots for my franken-set that worked out to between $1.00 and $1.50 per buyback, which is about what these go for on COMC even when things have cooled off years after release.

Let's take a look at the first ten tonight...

1969 Topps #652 - Eddie Watt

First up, relief pitcher Eddie Watt.  Watt lasted a few seasons in Baltimore's bullpen, and even won a World Series with the team the year after this card was printed.  As far as the design of the 1969 set, you can count me among those who enjoy it.  I think it's wonderful in its simplicity.

Bobby Rose's 1992 card was sitting in pocket 652 of the binder.

Based on aesthetics alone there's no way I could select Rose over that Watt card.

1969 Topps #606 - Gene Mauch

Next up we've got Expos manager Gene Mauch flashing his best movie star smile.  I don't think Mauch would be smiling for long, as Montreal won just 52 games in '69.  Ouch.  Either way, #606 is a new number for the franken-set, so into the binder Gene goes!

1969 Topps #605 - Dick Ellsworth

Dick Ellsworth continues the proceedings here, with what might very well be the most boring card in the entire '69 Topps set.  Hard to find a lot of positives with this one.  Maybe it'll squeak by due to a total lack of competition?

Nope, already have this Rick Monday All-Star in slot 605.

1969 Topps #369 - Bob Skinner

Another manager card here, which I like, but would it have killed these guys to leave their caps on?  Interestingly, Skinner replaced Gene Mauch, the other manager card featured in this post, at the helm for the Phillies.

Have this Frank White in slot 369...

...and there it will stay.

1969 Topps #339 - Steve Mingori/Jose Pena

Though he didn't actually debut until 1970, Steve Mingori saw action in close to 400 games, almost exclusively as a relief pitcher, over the course of a 10-year MLB career.  Jose Pena appeared in just 61 games over four seasons.  I give Topps credit for proper placement of the buyback stamp on this one, well done.

339 seems to be a popular number for Cincinnati Reds, as this Chico Ruiz is also a #339 buyback.

I'm actually not all that big a fan of multi-player rookie cards, so unless they feature someone compelling I'm less likely to vote them in.

1969 Topps #334 - Phil Roof

Next up, a cap-less Phil Roof.  That's a man who looks very pained to have to pose for a photo right there.  Unfortunately for Phil he moved on from the Athletics before they became a powerhouse team later in the next decade.  Now, normally I'd weight a hat-less player negatively when it comes to this project, but...

...I have a 1990 Topps buyback in slot 334...

...and I'd like nothing more than to shift that one over to the dedicated 1990 Topps buyback binder!

1969 Topps #333 - Ivan Murrell

Outfielder Ivan Murrell is our next contestant to battle for a spot in the franken-set binder.  Another dull photo here, and I don't really know much about the subject either.

This '75 Dick Drago buyback currently calls slot 333 home.  I've actually already decided this very same match-up once before, as I pulled and posted a 2015 Topps buyback of that same Murrell card well over a year ago now.

That one lost, and so obviously this one does as well.

1969 Topps #331 - Gil Garrido/Tom House

Here's another two-player rookie card.  Gil Garrido played for six seasons and has exactly one more career MLB home run than I do.  Tom House became known as the guy who caught Hank Aaron's 715th home run, as well as one of the first players to publicly admit steroid use.  This is actually the first #331 buyback I've picked up so far, and makes the binder without contest.

1969 Topps #581 - Gary Nolan

I really like the classic look of this Gary Nolan.  When I first came across it in the stack I really wanted it to win a spot in the binder.  Looks like I already have a #581 buyback though...

...and as a Red Sox fan, it's a pretty good one too.  Garry Roggenburk in what looks to me like a greenhouse.  I received this one from my buddy Shane Katz of Off the Wall just about a year ago now.

Honestly, this one probably could've been a coin flip, but I went with the Roggenburk since it's my favorite team and was sent to me by a fellow collector.

1969 Topps #562 - Bob Watson

Last card for tonight, Bob Watson of the Houston Astros confidently posing (in front of a middle school?).  Bob was still putting it together at this young age (1969 was his age 23 season), but would later turn in some impressive years with the 'Stros in the mid-'70s.  This one makes the binder by default as my first #562.

So, there are my first ten 2018 Heritage buybacks.  I've got a few more to post for sure, but before I get to that I'll be featuring some buybacks that have shown up in trade in recent weeks.  Thanks for stopping by!

Franken-set Progress:  548/792 (68%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  462
Total Buybacks in Collection:  1,010!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Signature Sundays - A Pair from Pro Set

Recently I ran across an eBay seller who had a bunch of great cards listed with opening bids of just 99 cents.  Shipping was $3.99 though, which probably turned a lot of potential bidders away, after all who wants to pay almost four bucks to ship a card you paid a buck for?  If you read the fine print in his item descriptions though, all you had to do was win 20 auctions and you'd receive free shipping.

There were a ton of cards I was interested in, especially at the dollar price point, so I placed a bunch of low-ball bids and went on my way.  When the dust settled I brought home close to 60 new cards, some of them destined for trading partners.  The cards arrived last week and I've got the first couple of "keepers" for my own collection to show off today...

The '90-91 Pro Set release was, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest sets released during hockey's "junk wax" era.  I've always loved the simplistic, colorful design, and the photographs are interesting as well (and fairly high quality for the time period we're talking here).  I think more of these cards were printed up than perhaps any other hockey set in history, but that doesn't make me enjoy them any less.  It was a simpler time in hockey card collecting back then.  In the absence of parallels, serial-numbered cards, game-used relics, and autographs, it was all about collecting the base set.

When I ran across this autographed copy of defenseman Randy Ladouceur's card while combing through the seller's inventory I placed a bid immediately.  I usually stay away from in-person autographs unless I'm the one obtaining them, or they come from a trusted source, but I highly doubt there are many folks in the business of forging Randy Ladouceur autographs on over-printed '90-91 Pro Set cards to make a 99 cent profit.  If that is the case, oh well, I've certainly wasted a dollar bill on far worse.

Here's a look at the back, even these were well done if you ask me.  You get a nice portrait photograph that's different from the front and actually gives you an idea what the player looked like, along with career stats and a nice write-up.  All of this is presented on a similarly colorful layout to the card front, without feeling too cluttered at all.  Yup, I love this set.

Obviously based on the title of today's post I've got another autograph from this release that I picked up in this batch as well.  Who is it?

How about an autographed rookie card of the man who has the most career goals and most career points of any American-born player in NHL history?  As with the Ladouceur, I have no idea whether this is authentic or not, but given that it set me back $1.25 it was worth a risk.  At a quick glance it looks slightly different compared to some of his other autographs that are available out there, however it also looks similar to some I found that were signed in the early '90s as this one may have been.

Either way, this card has long been a favorite of mine and I just couldn't resist.  It's a great example of how Pro Set using the team colors in the border of the card really tied things together nicely.  I also love that it has the classic "tilted photograph" that '70s Topps baseball cards are known for.  Plus, look at the stars on those pants!  Man, the North Stars had such cool uniforms.  No offense to any fans of the modern-day Dallas Stars, but the North Stars were so much cooler if you ask me.

Also, Modano rocked a fairly epic mullet back in the day, which you get a good shot of here on the reverse.

Well, that's what I have for today.  A nice pair of autos from two of the forgotten franchises of my youth.  Whether authentic or forged, the two combined set me back less than my morning coffee, and provided some good nostalgia along with a blog post, so I'd call that a win!

More from the "eBay dollar box" coming in future posts.  Until then...

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Celebrating 1,000 Buybacks with Hammerin' Hank!!!

After a couple of years of effort, today at long last I reach a very significant milestone in my buyback franken-set project.  After nearly two years of trading, purchasing, scanning, cropping, inventorying, organizing and posting here on the blog, I've reached my 1,000th buyback at last!

I could think of no better buyback to celebrate the occasion with than one I acquired only last month, featuring one of the most feared hitters and admired names in the history of the game, the great Hank Aaron!

1961 Topps #484 - Hank Aaron (MVP)

Pretty sweet, huh?  What we've got here is Aaron's card from the 1961 Topps MVP subset, paying tribute to his 1957 National League MVP Award.  This was stamped and included as a box-topper in the 2010 Topps Heritage set.

Finding stars, particularly HOFers like Hank, among these box-topper buybacks is a rarity, especially in the earlier years of the Topps Heritage release like this.  In fact, I'd never seen a Heritage Hank Aaron buyback from any year prior to laying eyes on this one, and who knows if/when I'll see another.  That's why, when I saw this one listed on eBay in early February with an opening bid of 99 cents and no reserve, I knew I had to bring it home.  In the end, I paid $41.01, and it was worth every penny in my mind.  I suppose I could've picked up a pair of 2018 Heritage blasters instead, but there's not a chance I'd have found anything that would bring me half as much joy and long-term satisfaction as this card will.

Here's a look at the back, which gives a very brief write-up on Hank's MVP season in 1957 with the Braves.  This was the only MVP he'd capture over the course of his impressive career, though he'd finish in the top three in voting six other times.  Also, his 132 RBI in '57 would stand as a career-high in the end.

This one obviously makes the franken-set, right?

Rick Waits' '79 release has been in pocket 484 for a while...

...but I don't think there's a baseball fan on planet Earth that would keep him in there over Hammerin' Hank!

Over 3,200 games played, 3,771 hits, 755 home runs, 2,297 RBI, 20+ All-Star selections, two NL batting titles, multiple Gold Gloves, an MVP, a World Series title, enshrinement in Cooperstown long last...a card in my buyback franken-set!

It feels great to get to 1,000 total buybacks.  A special thanks to all of you who've sent me buybacks in trade, read along through the first couple of years of the project, and left encouraging comments to keep me going.  I'm having an absolute blast with this project, and I won't be slowing down anytime soon. 

Onto the next 1,000, I certainly hope you'll join me for the ride!

Franken-set Progress:  545/792 (68%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  455
Total Buybacks in Collection:  1,000!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Countdown to 1,000 Buybacks - #999 - The Kid

I've selected five single buybacks to showcase one a day over the course of five days in celebration of reaching 1,000 total buybacks in my franken-set project.  Today I've got my 999th buyback, and I can think of few players more deserving to bring me to the precipice of 1,000 than Ken Griffey, Jr.!

1993 Topps (Pre-Production Sample) #179 - Ken Griffey, Jr.

In the early '90s, there were a handful of baseball players it was practically impossible for collectors and fans not to like.  In my opinion I'd put Cal Ripken Jr., maybe Nolan Ryan and certainly Ken Griffey, Jr. firmly into that category.  From his debut in 1989 (and the iconic Upper Deck card that accompanied it), and through the entire decade of the '90s, Junior was arguably the biggest name in baseball.

The Kid is certainly a player I'd been looking to add to my franken-set since its inception almost two years ago now, so when this 2016 buyback of his 1993 Topps release popped up on COMC this past summer I was all over it.  Griffey had a typical fantastic year in '93, his fifth season in the Majors.  It was the season where he truly exploded power-wise as well, with 45 home runs (he had 49 in his previous two seasons combined).  He was named an All-Star for the fourth straight year, won a Gold Glove in center for the fourth straight year, and picked up his second Silver Slugger Award while also finishing 5th in AL MVP voting.  Just an awesome card.

I was so excited to snatch this one when it showed up that I honestly did not even notice until it arrived that it was a "pre-production sample".  This doesn't bother me in the least, in fact it's so '90s it's perfect.  The seller accepted my offer of $3.31, I'd say I got a real steal on this one.

So, does this buyback make the binder in slot 179?

"Not so fast!" exclaims Bill Wegman...

...well, actually, I did make this decision extremely quickly.  Sorry Bill, you simply ran up against a buzz-saw there.

Well, there's buyback number 999 for you.  Like the three that made the binder earlier this week, I don't expect this one to be vacated anytime soon.  I can almost guarantee that if the day ever comes where I finish the franken-set, this card will still be sitting in pocket 179!

Next up, buyback number 1,000 at long last.  It's a real whopper, featuring a guy with better career numbers than even Griffey, Jr.  Oh, and it's from the early '60s as well!  See you then!

Franken-set Progress:  545/792 (68%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  454
Total Buybacks in Collection: 999

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Countdown to 1,000 Buybacks - #998 - Rod Carew

I've selected five single buybacks to showcase one a day over the course of five days in celebration of reaching 1,000 total buybacks in my franken-set project.  Today I've got my 998th buyback, featuring one of the best pure hitters in the history of the game, the great Rod Carew!

1977 Topps #120 - Rod Carew

Though he wrapped up his impressive MLB career when I was all of three years old, even I can appreciate what an amazing player this guy was.  Carew came out of the gate hot, winning American League Rookie of the Year honors and being named an All-Star in his rookie campaign in 1967.  From there he never really cooled off either, and was a member of the AL All-Star team every year from 1967 until his penultimate season in 1984!

Rod wasn't known for power; despite being a member of the illustrious 3,000 hit club he swatted less than 100 home runs in his career.  He sure could hit for average though, in fact he's easily in the conversation when it comes to the best contact hitters ever to play the game.  Carew won the AL batting title an amazing seven times, including six times in a seven-year stretch between 1972 and 1978.

This buyback is particularly great though, because it's a 1977 Topps card, and that was the single best season of his entire career.  Rod hit an insane and career-best .388 that year, the best batting average any player had turned in since Ted Williams' legendary .406 season in 1941.  In fact, if you don't count Tony Gwynn's .394 in the strike-shortened 1994 season, or George Brett's .390 in the 1980 season where he appeared in only 117 games, this number still hasn't been topped (by comparison, Carew held that .388 average over 694 at-bats in '77, compared to Gwynn's 419 at-bats or Brett's 449).

Here's a look at the back, just look at those stats already piling up just a decade or so into Rod's career!  Even at this stage, he was a lock for enshrinement in Cooperstown.

So yeah, there you have it.  In retrospect I think I should have ranked this one ahead of tomorrow's buyback, but I'm nit-picking there.  In any event, this is one fantastic buyback!  Not to mention, it's my first #120 buyback to date, so it doesn't even have any existing competition and slides right into the franken-set binder.  I expect it to stay there for good!

Check back tomorrow for a buyback that '90s baseball card collectors are sure to appreciate!  Thanks for following along!

Franken-set Progress:  545/792 (68%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  453
Total Buybacks in Collection: 998
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