Friday, May 27, 2011

Mail Call - May 26 Edition

It has been a while since I added any cards to my Paul Blair player collection, but I managed to score five rare cards on EBay for reasonable cost. I've received four so far.

A 1969 Milton Bradley card. I believe this was part of a (two) dice game, since there are different batting outcomes on the back numbered from 2 to 12. I'll have to look it up sometime. Given that it is part of a game, I have to say this card is in really good condition. It isn't visible in the image, but the perforation tabs are still there.

The picture appears to be the same one used as a model for the 1971 Carl Aldana card which I wrote about here. The two cards are actually right next to each other in my binder.

This is a 1975 SSPC card. Don't know anything about the set, but I'll add it to the always growing list of things to look into.......some day.

1977 Burger Chef disk. It has a cartoon of Fangburger's daughter on the back, which I didn't scan.

1993 Upper Deck Baseball Assistance Team card. This one isn't going to fit into a standard 9 pocket Ultra-Pro sheet. I need to probably look for something different because this is the second card I have that won't fit.

So there it is. I still have one card left to receive: an autographed 1970s Yankee Greats Wiz card. The Wiz was a NYC based electronics chain that was a Yankee's sponsor. There are, I think, two different Wiz Paul Blair cards: the 70s version seen above and an 80s version also. I swear I have seen an 80s version, although it seems a bit odd. It was a bit of a stretch to describe Blair as a Yankees great as he was mainly a platoon player and late inning defensive replacement in the 1970s. The 80s is even more so, since the extent of his entire 1980s career was 12 appearances and two at bats (with no hits). He did do some coaching for the Yankees organization after retiring. So, I guess I'll just keep an eye out for it.

Trading Pictures of Men with Pictures of Men

Haven't really done alot of trading lately, but a few weeks ago, I did complete my first international trade with Dennis over at Pictures of Men. We swapped 2011 Heritage cards, and I got 4 more slots in my binder filled!

I've been thinking about my approach to finishing 2011 Heritage. I am not planning to collect all the inserts and parallels, just the 500 card base set. So, the only hurdle is the 75 short prints, of which I have about half. I looked over at COMC and the 2011 short prints are currently selling for $3 to $6 each. If I was short a couple, three cards I might go ahead and get them. But with 30-40 cards to go, there is just no way I am going to drop that kind of coin. I did notice, however, that 2009 and 2010 Heritage short prints are generally selling for less than $2.50. I think I am just going to go for as many as I can through trading, and wait until next year for the prices to come down on the sale sites. So, lend a brother a hand and take a look at mywant list. If you have dupes on any of those cards, I'll cut you a sweetheart deal.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Returning to the Surface

It has been a rough week since I last posted. Work has been crazy, over the weekend one of our dogs died unexpectedly, and yesterday the severe weather in Oklahoma drew a bead on Norman. In the end, the tornados that were pointed towards us died out before they got here. But, we did end up using our storm shelter for the first time. Plus, getting the various cats, dogs, and horses ready consumes a fair amount of time. So it isn't something you wait until the last minute to do.

But, there is some card news to report. A couple weeks ago, I requested delivery on 16 cards in my Diamond Giveaway portfolio and they arrived yesterday. Here is a sample of what I got.

1959 Brooks Lawrence

1961 Al Smith

1963 Joe Gibbon

Mr. Popularity

And, of course, this card:

I should note that, in addition to our pets, I took our computers into the storm shelter with us, since they contain many of our vital records and about all of our photographs. I made sure to close this card inside the laptop cover. If I was going to lose my collection, I was damn sure going to save my Willie Mays autograph card.

Lastly, during a recent trip to Wally World, I weakened and picked up another one of those $14.99 value boxes. With the two code cards, I got some crappy 1990s card and this:

They are selling well on EBay, mostly in the $60-$70 range, but as high as $119 and as low as $31. I am planning to take delivery on this and immediately put it up on EBay. However, I still have been looking at the trade offers. I almost jumped on the offer of Die-Cut cards of Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson, but I think someone else popped on the offer first, since it was gone when I went back again.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rest in Peace, Killer

Courage, brother! do not stumble,
Though thy path be dark as night;
There’s a star to guide the humble,
Trust in God and do the Right.

- Norman MacLeod

Monday, May 16, 2011

My Week in Review, Part 3

Prior to my business travel, a cat had started hanging around by our barn. She'd be out there generally for the morning and afternoon feedings and gone otherwise. When it became obvious she intended to be a regular fixture, we decided to get her spayed. So, we trapped her in the barn storage room overnight, took her to a vet clinic to be spayed the next day, brought her home and kept her locked up another day to recover. It made sense to us. We don't want a host of kittens running around. So, problem solved, right? Well, not so much....

Apparently, she had a litter just prior to showing up on our doorstep and moved them into the barn eaves while I was out of town. Anybody want a cat?

I got home around 9 PM Friday, so I slipped into my normal weekend routine on Saturday which involved, of course, at stop at the card shop.

What you see here are about 160 more cards from 1977, bringing my close to being half complete with that set. The two cellophane wrapped decks in the back are 2008 and 2009 team sets for the Oklahoma City Redhawks that I bought at the game against Salt Lake City Saturday night. I bought those two years for a reason. 2008 was the year Nelson Cruz played in OKC and 2009 was the year for Neftali Feliz. Alas, I got ripped! In the 2008 set I got two (count 'em, two!) Jason Botts and no Nelson Cruz's. Given that the 32 card sets are only $4.95, I'll probably just buy another 2008 set when I go to the June 3 game against Round Rock.

And, of course, I bookended my trip to France with another baseball game.

Harry Canary and Elephant Presley of the Zooperstars.

Salt Lake City triumphed 2-1 in a pitchers duel, with minor league journeyman Ryan Ketchner taking the win while hot Astros prospect Jordan Lyles got tagged with the loss.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My Week in Review, Part 2

As I had mentioned, I had to fly out of Dallas Sunday evening for a business trip. What I may not have mentioned is that my meeting was in the town of Eu, in the Upper Normandy region of France. Because Eu is small (population less than 8000), I stayed in a hotel in Dieppe, a short distance east along the Channel Coast. As an amateur photographer, I was looking forward to getting out and shooting. I took my backup camera with a basic 18-55mm lens (a decision I regret.) Alas, my plans didn't work out so well.

For one thing, I was travelling with my boss, who is something of a workaholic while on the road. We would get to the office at around 8 AM and work through to 7 or 7:30 PM. So, I only got out one evening when I took a short walk down to the harbor in Dieppe. Even then, the photography was challenging since I was at the port in the evening and half the port was in shadow and half in sun. Coupled with the limited range of the lens that made it almost impossible to not be in a high contrast situation, I wasn't real happy with much of the pictures I took. But here are a few:

The Chateau de Dieppe

The chalk cliffs at Dieppe, subject of a famous Monet painting.

St. Jacques Cathedral

St. Laurence O'Toole Church in Eu overlooking the parking lot of the facility I was at.

Various shots from the Harbor.

To tie this to the general theme of this blog, I would note that baseball is played in France although it doesn't rise much above the level of a club sport. Several years ago, the LA Times published a great article about baseball in France. Money quote:

It's still not a game children play in the garden or during a barbecue. As is regularly noted, if you hand a French child a baseball, he'll immediately drop and try to kick it. (Of course, that's how the 1962 Mets played, and they won a World Series a few years later.)

Coming tomorrow: Back home to surprise and routine.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My Week in Review

Sunday, May 8

This was only the second major league baseball game I have been to. The first was in 1991.

The view from our seats.

CC Sabathia pitching in the bottom of the first. CC was not sharp against the Rangers, but he battled through to get the win.

Brett Gardner stealing second.

Alex Rodriguez about to be hit by a pitch.

Alex Rodriguez having just been hit by a pitch.

Derek Jeter hitting his first home run of the 2011 season and the first of two in the game, both into the Rangers bullpen in right-center.

The Yankees had a 6 run eighth inning built around a grand slam by catcher Francisco Cervelli. I missed the eighth and ninth innings, so this is a picture of Cervelli batting earlier in the game.

Why I left the game after the seventh inning.

Coming Tomorrow: A week without baseball.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mr. Popularity, Part 6

Just chilling in the hotel waiting to head out to the Rangers-Yankess game. Figured I might as well get this published. Delivery Request has gone live on the Diamond Giveaway site. After I return from my trip I am going to have them ship to me all the good cards in my portfolio. So, I guess this feature will be wrapping up soon. I believe this includes my first 7 card offer for Messersmith. Alas, it was 7 cards of junk. On a semi-related note, a couple of days ago I got a 144 card offer for my autographed Willie Mays card. Not a single one of the cards was anything of value. Of course, I turned it down.

  1. 1973 Ted Abernathy

  2. 1974 John Curtis

  3. 1975 Buddy Bradford

  4. 1975 Lee Richards

  5. 1976 Al Fitzmorris

  6. 1976 Gary Matthews

  7. 1980 Johnny Oates

  8. 1985 Dan Quisenberry

  9. 1986 Jay Howell

  10. 1987 Jim Deshaies

  11. 1988 Ernie Whitt

  12. 1989 Ozzie Smith

  13. 1998 Robert Alomar

  14. 2006 Johnny Damon

  15. 2007 Morgan Enserg

  16. 2007 Manny Ramirez

  17. 1976 Tom Murphy and 1984 Don Money

  18. 1979 Gary Matthews and 1992 David Justice

  19. 1980 Gary Matthews and 1981 Brian Asseltine

  20. 1980 Seattle Future Stars and 1993 Henry Rodriguez

  21. 1993 Henry Rodriguez and 2009 Casey Blake

  22. 1986 Bobby Valentine, 1989 Bob Knepper, and 1989 Charlie Hough

  23. 1985 Billy Sample, 1988 Dave Schmidt, 1994 Richie Lewis, 1995 Dwight Smith, 2000 Jim Thome, 2007 Cla Meredith, and 2007 Jeff Salazar

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Trade with BA Benny

I am afraid this post is going to have to be a quick one. I leave later this morning for Dallas for short getaway with my wife, including a nice dinner tonight at a Brazilian churrascaria and the Rangers-Yankees game on Sunday afternoon. I'll be gone next week on business, so I won't be posting any until next weekend or later. I want to get this trade post up because I feel bad not acknowledging another generous person: Mike from BA Benny's Baseball Card Buffet. Mike was also very generous to me, sending me a trade pack outsized in comparison to what I sent.

What did I send? A few 2011 Series 1 singles, a Johan Santana Heritage Clubhouse Classic relic, an Ike Davis Heritage Chrome, and some 1974 and 1978 Mets and Yankees of suspect quality. What did I get? 5 more Topps Heritage to cross off my want list including two short prints, and close to 30 cards from 2009 and 2010 Topps Heritage. I had asked for a few cards from previous Heritage sets so I can see if I like them and wanted to put the earlier sets together. He sent more than a few, that is for sure.

My decision? I like Heritage. In fact, I think I like '09 and '10 better than '11. Am I going to collect them? I am not sure. The thing that bothers me about Heritage is the short prints. Now, anyone who reads my blog knows that I have been chasing the error and variant cards in the 1974 Topps set, like the Washington National League variants (see footnote). What I am about to say may surprise you. I don't like the idea of short prints in a set. Okay, I understand that there will be cards that will be rarer than others, like error cards or the high number series in the Topps sets up through 1972. I am okay with that.

What I am not okay with is contrived scarcity, like what Topps does with the Heritage short prints. It is nothing more than a transparent tactic by Topps to take advantage of the OCD streak in set collectors and keep us buying cards in order to chase all those short prints. *THAT* pisses me off. I will probably chase the short prints on 2011 Heritage, but I am not going to make a huge push for it. I'll get what I can through trades and try to pick them up cheap on EBay or the various card sites, like COMC. But, if it takes me a year or two, that is fine. Because I am not going to reward Topps by purchasing more cards from them in a vain attempt to get all the short prints. As far as previous series of Heritage? I still don't know what I am going to do. But, that doesn't change how excited I was to get that stack of card from Mike.

Speaking of Mike, enough of that rant. Let's take a quick look at a small sample of what he sent before I head off to pack.

This is one of the two short prints Mike sent. Lincecum is a fun player to watch. But am I the only one who thinks he looks a little Pee Wee Herman-ish here? I may have to do another "Twin Brothers from Different Mothers" feature when I am back in town.

2009 Heritage. I like this design a whole lot. Plus, it is a future Hall of Famer. You can't beat that.

A Yankees card! I am surprised Mike let this one go, but I am glad he did.

This may seem an odd card to feature, but it is pretty much my favorite card, hands down. You see, I am a little bit of a space geek. When my wife and I went to Florida for a wedding last fall, we spent two days visiting the Kennedy Space Center. I've been to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington several times. So, this card appeals to the card collector in me and the space buff in me. I even like that it is a Soviet space milestone. It would have been easier for Topps to feature Alan Shepard's Mercury mission which took place a little over 3 weeks after Vostok 1. Alot easier. Sort of like how it is easier for Topps to issue yet another Mickey Mantle card every year. So, that they chose this space event is to their credit.

To go further off on this tangent, I have to say the coolest space museum, by far, is the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, Kansas. The who-what-where? You heard that right. The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson. This card made me want to visit there again.

Seems to be an unlikely place for a killer space museum, but it is awesome. It is affiliated with the Smithsonian and they do some great restoration work there. When I visited there about 10 years ago, they were working on the restoration of the Liberty Bell 7, Gus Grissom's Mercury capsule that sank to depth of 15,000 feet in the Atlantic and wasn't recovered until 1999. Indeed, some of Grissom's (in)famous dimes appeared to be sitting on one of the tables in the restoration room when I was there.

What I like best about the museum, though, is that it isn't focused only on the US space program. In fact, it also covers the development of the Soviet space program. As you wind your way through the museum, you see the chronological development of both the US and USSR programs in parallel. If you pay close attention to what you are observing, you can see the actual progression of the space race: how the Soviets started out ahead, but how the US caught up and surpassed their rivals. A must see for anyone who finds themselves in Wichita area.

Footnote: I have just discovered there is a third version of card 599 from 1974 Topps baseball, the Rookie Pitchers card. I knew about the San Diego and Washington variations (599A and 599B), but apparently there is a San Diego-Larger Print version, as well. Given that the only versions of this card (599C) I have seen are more expensive than the Dave Winfield rookie card (which books at $50), I think I am going to pass on collecting it unless I can get it really cheaply. Like common-card cheap.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Trade with Crinkly Wrappers

Let me start my explanation with a premise, which is this: People want to belong to a group. Groups, or communities, can take many forms. They can be people who live in a common geography, work together, hold common beliefs, or share a common interest. My life, as much by circumstance than choice, has a shortage of what I would call community.

I was once a pretty avid bicyclist, belonging to an excellent local riding club and making many friends there. But, almost nine years ago, my wife and I bought a run down horse farm. Along with the tasks associated with making the 12 acres habitable for man and beast came an eternity of chores. To paraphrase cowboy poet Baxter Black, brush always is growing and, thus, always needs to be cleared. I have done almost no cycling since we moved out here. There is always something else that needs to be done. Many of those friendships have withered.

At the start, I was still part of a team at work. My daily commute was long, but it was satisfying to come together with a group for a common purpose. But, that too changed. The plant was sold and the production was outsourced. I always landed on my feet with regard to a job, even as the number of employees dwindled from over four thousand to under forty. But, the work changed and, in time, I no longer worked with anyone here in Oklahoma. Indeed, most of my coworkers were in different time zones. The 45 mile commute became onerous, and I increasingly began working from home. First, it was just Friday. Then Monday and, finally, I gave up my office and worked from home every day. Now, my only companions are the various cats, dogs, and horses here on my farm.

So, you may be wondering, what does this confessional have to do with baseball cards? Let me tell you. While I enjoy collecting in and of itself, I am surprised and immensely gratified that I have found something of a sense of community here. While I will grant it is a virtual community and it is unlikely I will meet any of you anytime soon, if ever. It seems a community nonetheless. I have found people willing to give their time and resources to help a new collector find his feet in the hobby. Complete strangers will send me large numbers of cards to help me along. Numbers that far outstrip what meager pickings I sent their way in the other side of the trade. Indeed, of all the trades I have worked out in the last few months, I cannot think of a single one that was equitable for my trading partner. I have, without exception, gotten more back than I ever sent in exchange. Sometimes significantly so.

A recent trade with Ted over at Crinkly Wrappers is a good example. I didn't write down what I sent to him, but it was in the neighborhood of 5 cards off his 2011 Heritage want list and, perhaps a small handful of other cards and inserts. What I got in return was a stack of over 80 of his duplicates from Heritage that cut down my want list significantly. I was bowled over by his generosity and, indeed, the generosity of all of the people I have traded with. Every last one of you.

It was so overwhelming that I felt compelled to take down my want list until such time as I could sort through everything that was sent and update it properly. Indeed my want list was reduced to the point that I only need 11 of the non-short print base cards. So, with further emoting, here is a small sample of what I got.

Ranger Nelson Cruz, who I have previously written about here.

Ryan Dempster, who does a hilarious Harry Caray impression. And a bunch of big names, a few of which are:

So, there it is. A very small sample of what Ted sent. I wonder if this is what is known as an "embarrassment of riches?" In any case, I owe Ted something nice. Since he is a Blue Jays fan, I have set aside a 2011 Heritage Chrome Travis Snider. But, I think I also need to look for something cool at the next local show.