Friday, September 22, 2017

One Card Post - Mr. Whaler on the Penguins

What:  2016-17 Upper Deck Fleer Showcase '92-93 Ultra Buyback #163 - Ron Francis (#'d /25)
Where: eBay
How Much?:  $5.00 (Canadian, plus shipping)

:  Why not is a better question!  Francis is one of the most under-rated athletes in the history of sports if you ask me.  He's a top 5 scorer in league history, sharing that honor with Wayne Gretzky, Jaromir Jagr, Mark Messier and Gordie Howe.  How's that for company?  Not to mention Ron is generally regarded (and rightfully so!) as the face of my all-time favorite franchise, the Hartford Whalers.  Of course, this one comes from his post-Hartford days when he was winning Stanley Cups on those stacked early '90s Pens teams.

For a buyback lover like myself, it just doesn't get much better than owning one of the 25 copies of this one that exist.  Thanks to a favorable exchange rate with the Canadian dollar, I was able to land this one for well under $5 USD.  This is the fifth '92-93 Ultra buyback in my collection now!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Buyback Franken-set: More from Dimebox Nick!

Let's take a look at some more great buybacks I received this summer from Dimebox Nick, shall we?

1960 Topps #139 - Carl Mathias

Coming out of the gate strong tonight with a Rookie Star subset buyback from 1960 Topps.  Carl's career consists of just 29 innings across two MLB seasons, and he lost his only two decisions.  A cool buyback nonetheless though, as you just don't encounter that many from the 1960 set.

This Dane Iorg, which came out a full twenty years later, is currently in slot 139 of the binder.

Gotta go with the '60.

1987 Topps #127 - Vance Law

Next we have a 1987 Vance Law.  Vance was a solid glove at third base throughout the '80s, and was even an All-Star in 1988.  He also made an impressive seven career pitching appearances in mop-up situations, to the tune of a more than respectable 3.38 career ERA!

Had this Heritage buyback featuring a couple of Angels rookies in spot 127 already...

...and there it will stay for now.

1988 Topps #421 - Ed Vande Berg

Here's a relatively bland Ed Vande Berg.  Hey when you're trying to form a franken-set this large, they're not all going to be winners.

Does the '88 Vande Berg have what it takes to unseat hat-less Pat Dobson?

Negative.  In a rare move for me, I'm sticking with the cap-less player in this instance.

1987 Topps #268 - Pat Corrales

Speaking of cap-less, here we have Indians skipper Pat Corrales.  The Indians were widely predicted to be the best team in baseball heading into the 1987 season (including a cover story by Sports Illustrated), but they famously underachieved finishing seventh in the AL East.  It was Corrales' final season as a Major League manager.

Corrales has a rough road to franken-set glory too, as this fantastic dugout shot 1978 Gil Flores currently calls slot 268 home.

Flores has already defeated quite a few hopeful buybacks at this stage of the project, and Pat Corrales becomes the latest victim.

1990 Topps #176 - Luis Quinones

This one is pretty cool, not only because I'm one of the few who loves 1990 Topps, but because Quinones was the utility guy for the World Series champion Reds team of 1990.

Already had this 1979 Aurelio Rodriguez in the binder though.  I sort of like the washed out crowd in the background of this one for some reason.

I ended up leaving Rodriguez in the binder, but I'm really doubting whether this was the correct call.  I may have been unfairly influenced by the fact that I've officially decided to go after a 1990 Topps buyback set which I can now use this one for (I've even got a binder with pages now, so there's no going back).

1993 Topps #347 - Luis Sojo

Oddly enough, we have a second straight Luis, and not only that but a second straight Luis who served as a utility player!  Sojo was even more successful than Quinones, as he won a World Series with the Blue Jays in '93, then four more with the Yankees during their late '90s dynasty.

If Sojo is to make the binder, then this Royals team card has to get tossed out.  This one has already faced and defeated at least a couple of competitors.  I just love all the green, and I wish the flagship Topps set still had team cards like this one.

The Royals maintain their hold on spot #347 for now.

1988 Topps #63 - Jimmy Jones

The Padres were the first team Jimmy Jones pitched for, before he moved on to stints with the Yankees, Astros and Expos.  He even played overseas in Japan before wrapping up his career.  I love the mesh jersey, so '80s.

I think Jimmy's in trouble though when it comes to this project, because with a Red Sox fan like myself making the calls this smiling Jack Brohamer represents some serious competition.

Took me about half a second to make that decision.

1987 Topps #288 - Tito Landrum

Having seen my fair share of 2017 Rediscover Topps buybacks at this point, I would have to guess that 1987 Topps is the most represented set within the program.  Most every lot I see for sale online contains more of the wood-grain border than any other design. 

In what's become a common theme for tonight's post, I've already got a buyback in this slot:

Hmm..not exactly a clash of the titans here.

Pretty much a case of '79 beats '87.

2006 Topps #464 - Nick Swisher

We jump way ahead to 2006 for the last two buybacks of tonight's post.  First up, Nick Swisher.  The A's, and later the Yankees, are the teams that I associate Nick with most.  Swisher is now retired, and recorded a single All-Star selection and a single World Series championship (both during his time in New York) in his career.

Unfortunately for Nick, Joe Nolan, with his pinstripe Braves jersey and classic specs, is blocking his entrance to the franken-set binder.

I chose Swisher, but once again I'm second guessing myself just a couple days later as I type up this post.

2006 Topps #316 - Craig Breslow

Last card for tonight, a buyback rookie card of lefty Craig Breslow.  This one is significant to me as a Red Sox fan given that Craig was a member of the 2013 World Series winning team.  Seems like a solid candidate for inclusion in the franken-set for sure, but...

...Breslow runs up against a buzz-saw in the form of another Red Sox World Series champ, Curt Schilling!

Breslow goes down.

In a true sign of just how tough it's getting to crack the binder, there were no new numbers for the project in this batch at all, for possibly the first time ever.  A couple of them still fought their way into the binder over the competition however, plus I received another new 1990 Topps buyback, so still a solid round when all is said and done.

If I were to process these same ten again next week, at least two or three of them would probably go the other way in their match-ups.  The decisions are starting to get tough as the buyback count rises.  I've got one final batch from Nick coming up next, then it'll be back to some I picked up myself...   

Franken-set Progress:  480/792 (60%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  331
Total Buybacks in Collection: 811

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Signature Sundays - Mahrez Barely Tries

Mixing it up this week with a soccer auto.  I know, I know, it's a good way to alienate a significant portion of my readers but what can I say?  I really enjoy Premier League soccer.

When Topps produced a Stadium Club set featuring players from the league last year I was pumped.  I picked up a hobby box, which is a rarity for me, and it was a fun little set.  At just 100 cards deep a box gave me a complete set, so there really wasn't any incentive for me to buy any more.  Now that it's been out a while interest as waned, as usual, and I was able to land another auto from the set for cheap coin on eBay this summer:

I thought this was a pretty awesome autograph to get, given that Mahrez and Leicester City were the unlikely champions of English football at the time this set was printed up!  Riyad joined Leicester City when they were still in the Champions League, which they won in his first season with the club, earning a promotion to the Premier League.

In just their second season after promotion, Leicester City became the unlikely darlings in the eyes of the sporting world when they won it all in 2015-16.  Mahrez was a big part of that, as he and teammate Jamie Vardy formed a dual scoring threat that was largely responsible for propelling The Foxes to the top of the table.  He even won the PFA Players' Player of the Year Award (it sounds ridiculous but it is a real award), as top player in English football.

So, knowing all of that, what do you think I paid for this autograph?

$1.25.  Seems odd to me.  The Premier League is wildly popular overseas, and this autograph of one of the top players in the entire league when the set was released was had for basically pocket change.  I guess maybe just because trading cards are primarily a North American thing?

Or maybe it's because it's a sticker auto (they all are), and because when it comes to the autograph itself Mahrez barely tried?  Either way, I think it's a cool card that will always serve in my collection as a reminder of Leicester City's Cinderella season...

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Buyback Franken-set: Celebrating 800 with The Bird!

My last buyback post took me to an even 800 buybacks in my collection that have been inventoried and processed for the franken-set project thus far.  Since that feels like a significant milestone, I decided that in my next post I'd celebrate with a significant buyback.  Well, here it is!

1977 Topps #7 - ERA Leaders (Mark Fidrych & John Denny)

Topps introduced the concept of different color foil buyback stamps in 2016, with each color signifying a level of "rarity".  I prefer the first couple of years of the program where all buybacks were created equal, but anyway in 2016 the Gold Foil buybacks were "1/1s".  The franken-set binder is already home to a sweet Nolan Ryan 1/1, and this 1977 Topps ERA Leaders card becomes my second.

The obvious draw for me here was the chance to get Mark "The Bird" Fidrych incorporated into the project.  As most fans know, he's one of the more colorful personalities from the '70s, and outside of this here card I've personally never encountered any other Fidrych buybacks to date.

This card was kicking around my eBay watch list for well over a year.  The seller was asking an unrealistic Buy-It-Now price, but was at least accepting offers.  After a respectable offer or two were turned down without so much as a counter offer I kind of forgot about the card and moved on to other things.  Well, this summer when we took our vacation to Portugal I brought the fantastic book Big Hair and Plastic Grass along as reading material.  The passages on Fidrych got me thinking back to this card, and I found it was still on eBay.  I tossed out an offer right there on my phone sitting by the pool (which may or may not have been alcohol-influenced) for less than the cost of a blaster (and less than my previous offers that were rejected many months ago), and to my surprise it was accepted.  1/1 secured!

I just sort of assumed that this one was a lock for the franken-set when I picked it up, I mean how could just my second 1/1 overall, featuring a personality as captivating as The Bird, possibly lose?

Well, while I was waiting for the right time to debut the Fidrych for this project, I picked up a small batch of 1990 Topps buybacks that included this Rickey Henderson Record Breaker card, also a card #7.  This is a much tougher choice for me than it might be for the average collector, due to the fact that I'm especially fond of 1990 Topps as it was the first set I collected as a kid.

Decisions, decisions...

In the end, I had to go with the Fidrych (and not to be forgotten John Denny!) card.  It's simply too great a buyback to leave out of the binder.  Besides, I've pretty much decided that I'm insane enough to attempt the 792-card 1990 Topps set in buyback format, so that frees Rickey up for that particular project.  A win/win as far as my collection goes!

I'm still having a ton of fun with this obscure project, and have many great buybacks still to be featured here in the coming months.  Up next is yet another batch of ten from my friend Dimebox Nick.  Until then, thanks for stopping by my little corner of the internet!

Franken-set Progress:  480/792 (60%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  321
Total Buybacks in Collection: 801

Friday, September 15, 2017

One Card Post - TEKnicians

What:  2014 Topps Hi Tek TEKnicians Diffractor #99T-XB (#'d /50)
Where: COMC
How Much?:  $6.20

:  Bogaerts has had a bit of a down year, but remains my favorite current Red Sox player.  Besides, there's still plenty of time to get hot for the playoffs here!  I had $5 in COMC credit available when I picked this up last summer, which made my take-home cost for this one just over a dollar.  Not bad at all for a relatively rare (it's hard to see the serial numbering but it's in the lower left corner there) card from Xander's rookie year.  Plus, as a fan of all acetate cards, I simply love Topps Hi Tek.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Buyback Franken-set: 800 Total Buybacks!

Today's batch of ten buybacks is significant for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, they arrived in trade from one of my absolute favorite bloggers, Dimebox Nick. Secondly, today's round of ten takes the total number of buybacks in my collection to 800 even! Let's dig in...

1989 Topps #744 - Roger Craig

Roger Craig was involved in Major League baseball for decades, beginning as a pitcher back in the '50s, and continuing in managerial/coaching positions through the early '90s.  He looks like he's about 85 years old here, but in fact he was not even 60 in this photo.  Roger's still kicking as of the publishing of this post, 87 years old and counting.  He's my first #744 buyback, so he's got a place in my franken-set as well!

1977 Topps #399 - Bruce Boisclair

Bruce Boisclair's Major League career may not have been very notable, but this is an interesting card to me personally.  The reason?  Boisclair was born in the same region of Connecticut that I grew up in.  He was drafted out of Killingly High School, which is mere minutes from where my parents live to this day.

I'd love to include this one in the binder due to the personal connection, but there's a card standing in Bruce's way:

Yup, it's David Clyde on a "Psychedelic Ink Stain" photo variation short print! (TM Shoebox Legends).  Something went very, very wrong during production here.  Kind of makes it a cool addition to the binder but... the end the local connection won out over the acid-trip-vibe David Clyde.

1987 Topps #183 - Andy Hawkins

Andy Hawkins does not look all that pleased to be featured on this 1987 Topps card.  Hawkins earned the W in what is the only World Series win in Padres' history to date.  Does this card make the franken-set binder though?

Steve Braun has other ideas.  Well, who's it gonna be?

I just like the photo on the Braun card more.  Besides, maybe someday I can offload some of the '87 buybacks in my reject box to Kin at I Feel Like a Collector Again for some of the sweet buybacks he's been showing off of late.

1989 Topps #791 - Jim Lindeman

Next up, Jim Lindeman.  This one looked familiar to me.

That's because the Gold Foil version already lost out to this Ted Simmons with respect to the franken-set.

Here the Silver Foil version suffers the same fate.

1984 Topps #266 - Steve Lubratich

I can't lie, my first reaction upon seeing this one in the stack from Nick was "who the f@#$ is Steve Lubratich?".  Not a name that jumped out at me whatsoever, but I don't feel too badly as it turns out 1984 was the only season during which he had a major trading card issued.  This is my first #266 buyback, so the franken-set just got a lot more obscure.

1989 Topps #445 - Matt Nokes

Next we have Matt Nokes in a classic batting pose on his 1989 release.  Nokes had an impressive rookie campaign in 1987 (he finished third in RoY voting), but was never really able to replicate that success again.  This is another new number for me as far as buybacks go, Matt is in.

1990 Topps #532 - Cecilio Guante

I am quite possibly the only collector on the planet who gets extremely excited to find a 1990 Topps buyback in a trade package.  What can I say?  If my count is correct Cecilio Guante here gives me 48 buybacks from this set that I've recorded and inventoried now, though I know I have a few others floating around here.  As the franken-set nears completion I'm going to start really focusing on a 1990 Topps buyback set (there, I said it!), so I'm happy to give this one a home.

Oh yeah, and for now Cecilio is actually not available for a 1990 Topps buyback set, because he's holding down slot 532 in the franken-set binder.

1984 Topps #64 - Mike Scioscia

Next we have a fine buyback in this 1984 Topps Mike Scioscia.  I like the prominently featured catcher's gear, and 1984 Topps is a set I don't have a ton of in the binder so far.  The problem is, I've already got this buyback in slot 64:


Any Lou Brock card (even half of one) that makes the binder is going to be tough to unseat indeed.

2006 Topps #UH305 - Diamondbacks Team Leaders

This is the kind of buyback that gives buybacks a bad name.  Does there need to be a recycled copy of the 2006 Diamondbacks (before they were good) team leaders card floating around out there?  Not really, but since there is I'm happy to give it a home!

Unfortunately, being from the Update set it's disqualified from making the binder by default.  Maybe if I someday finish the franken-set, and by some miracle complete a 1990 Topps buyback set also, and am still loving these cards, I'll try an update franken-set.  I doubt it though.

1965 Topps #42 - Earl Wilson

Last card for today, and what a completely awesome one for a Red Sox fan like myself.  Earl Wilson was a solid starter with the Red Sox throughout the early to mid '60s, and even tossed a no-hitter in 1962.  He moved to the Tigers for the 1967 season, where he promptly led the American League with 22 wins, then won a World Series the following season.

On top of that, 1965 Topps as a set is just gorgeous.  Easy to see why it's one of the most collected sets of the '60s.  This one should really be a no-brainer for inclusion in my franken-set, right?

Well, it turns out I already had a buyback in slot 42 of the binder.  And it's a Pilots buyback to boot.  I agonized over this one for a few minutes...

...but ultimately went with the Tommy Harper.  If this had been a '62 Earl Wilson, the year of his no-hitter, or a '67, the year he lead the AL in wins, it would have been a lock.  But in the end, my love of all things Seattle Pilots won out (even though it's a cap-less Pilot, which is really saying something).

I'm not all that confident with my decision here.  In fact, in the couple of days that have passed between scanning these and making the call and then typing this post, I kind of feel like I made the wrong choice here.  When (if!) I finish the franken-set I'm going to go back through the rejected box and reconsider a handful of cards for re-evaluation, and this will definitely be one of them.

As I mentioned at the outset of the post, this batch officially takes me to 800 total buybacks!  If I'd gotten perfect collation the franken-set could technically be done at this point, but as it stands I'm at a respectable 60%.  With over three months remaining, I'm hoping to get closer to the 75% mark by year end here.

There are more great buybacks to come from Nick's latest package, but before I get to those the next buyback post will feature a really significant individual buyback as a celebration of making it to 800 (teaser).  Until then!

Franken-set Progress:  480/792 (60%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  320
Total Buybacks in Collection: 800
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