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

Why?
:  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...

...in 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:

Ouch.

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

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

One Card Post - Someone Sign Jagr!

What:  1994-95 Pinnacle Artist's Proof #98 - Jaromir Jagr
Where: Sportlots.com
How Much?:  $3.50 (plus 90 cents shipping)

Why?
:  Jaromir Jagr is the last remnant from my days as a young fan of the NHL in the early '90s.  While I don't know that I'd classify myself as a player collector, I do search out his cards in particular from time to time.  Anyone who's lasted almost two decades in the league and finds himself in the top three all-time in both goals and points is bound to have some good cardboard out there.

With Jagr I try to focus on getting a few nicer, rarer cards rather than just accumulating as many as I can, at least at this point.  These Artist's Proof parallels were a pretty big deal back in the mid-'90s, falling at a rate of one every 1.5 hobby boxes.  I'm not sure what that equates to in terms of print runs, but I know they're not the easiest cards to come across at all.  Pulling any one of these parallels from a pack was something significant back in the day, Jaromir even more so.  I happily dedicated a few bucks from my monthly card budget to secure this copy.

Now, will somebody please sign this guy so I can enjoy some new Jagr cards for at least another year?


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Signature Sundays - Dale Hawerchuk

Hockey season is right around the corner, so it seems like the perfect time to get my Signature Sundays series rolling again with a nice hockey autograph that I picked up this summer.  Tonight I present the great Dale Hawerchuk:

If you've been reading along here for the last year or two then you may remember that I'm trying to pick up as many 1989-90 Topps/OPC cards as possible, since it was the first hockey card set I ever collected as a kid.  I've landed autographed copies of quite a few HOFers so far, and Hawerchuk here is the latest.

Dale was the first pick for the Winnipeg Jets in the 1981 entry draft, won the Calder as Rookie of the Year the following season, and went on to have an incredibly successful NHL career.  He was one of the better players in the league during the '80s, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in his second year of eligibility in 2001.  To this day, he's one of only 19 players in league history to record 1,400 or more career points.

Here's the back, with authentication sticker from Upper Deck up top.  I didn't get the separate "congratulations" card with this one, but I don't care, because guess what this on-card autograph of one of the best scorers in hockey history set me back?  $4.25, with free shipping!

I'll never tire of picking up autographs from this release, the nostalgia factor is just off the charts.  When it's a HOF player and costs me less a fast food value meal I'm pretty much in hobby heaven!

I have one or two more solid autographs from this set still in queue for later this hockey season.  Until then!

Friday, September 8, 2017

When Cards Were for Kids

Today's post was inspired by Fuji of The Chronicles of Fuji.  A few days back he posted that he'd picked up a wax box of 1992 Topps Kids for what amounted to around $10 delivered as a sort of birthday present to himself.

Well, I've adored this set since the first packs I opened as a 9-year-old when the product came out.  At one point I had the entire set hand collated, as did my brothers, however my original set didn't survive the passage of time and was lost somewhere along the way.  Fuji was kind enough to include a link in his post to the eBay seller he bought his box from, as some were still available.  Since my birthday was also last week, and since I received a $50 eBay gift card from my mother-in-law, I decided I just had to spring for a box of my own.

Fast forward a few days, and this was waiting for me in my mailbox after work yesterday:

Man, this certainly takes me back!

Here's the box propped open, as it would have been in a card shop back in the day where the packs were available for individual sale (at just 35 cents each, I might add!). I'm the type who really strings my unopened product along for quite a while, saving the packs for a rainy day or a time when I need a quick blog post. More on that in a bit, but in the meantime I do usually open at least one pack any time I get a new box like this, so for today I'll do exactly that.

Here's a close-up of one of the packs. Nice old school wax wrapper!  7 cartoon-packed cards and a stick of gum for just a quarter and a dime.  There are just 132 cards in the set, and no short prints, inserts or any gimmicks to be found.  How refreshing.  At a whopping 48 packs per box you should easily come out with at least two full sets, barring awful collation.

One little detail that I love is that the gum is individually wrapped in this creative "Topps Kids" wrapper.  I hadn't thought of these wrappers in ages but instantly remembered them from childhood when I cracked open the first pack here.

Alright, let's take a look at the cards...

Danny Tartabull leads us off.  As you'll see there are a few different designs used within the 132-card checklist.  This one, which features a photograph of the player's head planted on a cartoon body, is my favorite by far.  Also, I love that since Topps had a photo of Danny's head in a Royals helmet, they went with the same for the cartoon body then used the "Now with the Yankees!" speech bubble a-la O-Pee-Chee.

The best thing about the cards in my opinion though are the backs.  Just one year of stats (plus career) along the bottom (which is where you'll also find the card number, oddly).  That's okay though, because remember these are aimed at attracting kids, and the large amount of space up top for a cartoon accomplishes that goal!

The artists that Topps commissioned for this release did a fantastic job.  The cartoons are informative and very well-done across the board.  In between the cartoon and the stats you have a "fun box" with a random quote or fact, which makes sense as a vehicle to get kids to learn more about the game.

The next design is a horizontal one, featuring a cartoon ballpark backdrop complete with a dugout full of players and some cheering fans.  This is the only one of the designs that is not vertical, which I'm sure would bother some folks with OCD about that but I don't mind.

This time we get a (pretty terrible) joke in the "fun box".

Lenny Dykstra was the next out of the pack, on what is by far the most dizzying design the product has to offer.  Also one of my least favorite designs as it offers very little in the way of cartoon elements.

Dykstra does get a particularly creative cartoon on the back at least.  Even the fun box features a cartoon of Vincent Van Gogh in a baseball cap!

Next, Howard Johnson shows us what I guess I'd dub the "cartoon baseball diamond" design.  That is certainly quite a busy play transpiring in the background.  I really like that the banner featuring the player's name is actually a giant flag being wielded by a cartoon fan.  Awesome stuff.

The jokes just keep coming.

Here's the other design that, like the Dykstra card above, I consider a bit bland by comparison.  Not gonna complain about getting a new card of The Crime Dog though.

I never knew that Mike Lavalliere went by "spanky".  I guess these can be educational for adults too!

A spiraling Kent Hrbek is our penultimate card for today.

The vacuum cleaner cartoon might be my favorite from this first pack.

Last card, one of the greatest DHs the game has seen on yet another design.  They didn't do Edgar Martinez any favors with the photo selection I have to say.

This card back differs from the rest too, as we get one large 'Trivia Toons!" cartoon in place of the standard cartoon and fun box.  Even as a kid I could have answered this one pretty easily.

Well, that's a wrap for today.  As I mentioned above I've become a bit of a "pack hoarder" over time.  In fact, one of the two bookshelves in my office is slowly becoming what I refer to as "Shoebox Legends' Card Shop".  Check it out:

I'm up to more than half a dozen wax boxes on the shelf now, plus a few dozen random packs between the upper left and lower right there (including a few packs of Pearl Jam cards from last year's Wrigley Field concerts that I can't believe I've resisted tearing into for as long as I have).  The Topps Kids box was a perfect addition dead center on the lower of the two shelves.

Thanks for the heads up on this great deal Fuji, this was just an awesome trip down memory lane for me, and with 47 packs still to go I'm bound to get enjoyment out of this for years to come!

I'd love to hear your opinion on this set in the comments.  I would also be interested in knowing whether you've got a "pack stash" like this, or whether you're more the type that rips everything open the moment it's in your hands?  Either way, thanks for stopping by and spending a few minutes of your day here at Shoebox Legends!
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