Sunday, March 31, 2013

Not All is Doon and Gloom

After a long week, I came home Friday night to find a bubble mailer from the mysteriously named Napkin Doon waiting for me.  I am not sure why he sent me these, but I do appreciate it.  There was some nice cards included.

Let's look, shall we?

Ahh, the ubiquitous Mickey Mantle's that Topps sees fit to include in every set.  I am not a big fan of the way Topps manipulates the photos in Gypsy Queen.  By desaturating the color and adding grain, the subject's uniforms seem to look as if they had never been washed.  You can see what I mean in the Moonshots card.  The base card below it was much better done and is quite sharp looking.  If all of the images in GQ were like that Mantle I would be favorably inclined to build the set.

This, I believe is an 3D insert from last year's Archive set.  This is a really nice card.  Most of the 3D cards I am familiar with, when you tilt them back and forth, the entire image moves.  On this card, only the background does.  The image of Ruth stays static.  Very cool. So cool that this card will be placed in my MOJO!!1!11!1!! binder.  Speaking of my Mojo binder, the star of the package from Nap will also be assigned an honored place:

Well, it will be assigned an honored space if I can find a sheet it fits into.  This Jorge Posada jersey relic would go quite nicely next to a Mariano Rivera relic card I have, except that it is as thick as 6-8 standard cards. So, I am not exactly sure what I am going to do with it.  I really like that the fabric swatch actually includes a pinstripe.  Most jersey relics are single color and boring.  This is probably just about one of the nicest relic cards I have.

As many of you probably read Nap's blog, you know he has taken to sending out unopened packs and, sure enough, I got three!

I may just have to write about busting these open.

What I am listening to:  "Torn" by Natalie Imbruglia

Saturday, March 30, 2013

More Lost Cards

Recently, The Lost Collector and I completed a trade were I got some cards for my 1973 set and I sent a couple cards for the Hall of Fame binder he is putting together for his son.  I think that is a worthwhile project to support.  When I go to card shows, it seems most of the attendees are middle aged men, like myself.  Any project that works to increase interest in the hobby in a new generation is one I would like to contribute to.  That I was able to get some cards in return was a bonus, though completely unnecessary.  I was quite surprised to get another envelope from AJ today with two more cards for my 1973 set.

I still think it is unforgivable that the Veterans Committee didn't see fit to induct Santo into the Hall of Fame until after he died.  Speaking of which, I hope you already have a Santo in your son's binder, AJ. I'd hate to think you'd send this to me when it could been part of that project.

Anyways, this package made my Friday after a long-ass week at work.  I really appreciate it, AJ.
I'll keep my eye out for more HOF cards for your boy.

Coming up:  Another mailer out of the blue.

What I am listening to:  "Down with the Bass" by fIREHOSE

Friday, March 29, 2013

Joy of a Completed (Insert) Set - 2004 Fleer Greats

I was cleaning out my desk and came across a $25 gift card we got from the bank when we refinanced our mortgage late last year.  I probably should have used it for groceries or given it to my wife.  But, I bought cards.  Specifically, I used some of the money to complete two insert sets from 2004 Fleer Greats of the Game

This was the last card I needed for the 35 card Glory of Their Time insert.

And this was the last card I needed to complete the 10 card Battery Mates insert.

I am (sorta) closing in on completing the 2004 Greats set.  It depends on where I decide to call it complete.  At a minimum, I have 11 cards to go to finish the 29 card Forever insert set.  I could call it done there and be relatively happy.  There is also a 10 card Announcing Greats insert set, of which I don't have any.  I do see 6 of the 10 on EBay and I think I'll probably start picking them up, if the price is right.

The real question remains what to do about the Blue parallels (numbered to 500 for the first series and numbered to 75 for the second) and the autograph cards.  I actually have 31 blue parallels (out of 145) and 22 of the autographed cards (out of 109).  I am thinking at this point to not bother with the blue parallels, especially since they are fairly pricey given the low print run on the second series.  I am likely to occasionally pick up some of the autographed cards, but probably won't try and complete it. With names like Yogi Berra, Duke Snider, and Stan Musial, I don't harbor any illusions that I will ever be willing to plunk down the cash to make a run at it.

Coming up:  A couple of unsolicited trade packs arrive.

What I am listening to: "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive" by Patty Loveless

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The 1963 Fleer Auto Project - Part 18

As I mentioned the other day, I have a few 1963 Fleer baseball cards out for autograph. This one arrived back today:

This is the 18th autographed from this set that I have added to the binder.  I have two more out now and another 4 to mail out in the next few weeks.  I have yet to decide what to do about a fair number of autographed Fleers out on EBay.  The condition on many seems suspect, so for now, I intend to pass on them, unless the subject player is deceased, and focus on getting cards I already own signed. 

What I am listening to:  Can't Change Me by Lydia Loveless

Monday, March 25, 2013

Joy of a Completed Set - 2010 Obak

 I found the last card I needed to complete 2010 Obak as BIN on Ebay.

It was about $5 delivered, which seems high, but it was a short print.

And the last card I needed to complete the set.

It isn't a master set as I didn't even try to get all the variations. I did get all the variations that were based on a different picture on the front. But couldn't be bothered with the back-only variations.

At some point, I may chase the box topper cabinet cards, but they come up so rarely and at such a price ($10-$15 each, if memory serves) that I may just let them go.

Obak was a fun set to build and I will probably keep an eye on finishing 2009 and 2011 in the next year.

True fact:  Joe Tinker only played two games at Wrigley Field in his career. The Cubs started playing at Wrigley in 1916, the last year of Tinker's career.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Ups and Downs

Two packages arrived in the mail this week and they elicited different reactions from me.

This card is from a 2003 Heroes to Heroes tour sponsored by AT&T. It is larger than your typical sports card. Indeed, it doesn't even fit into an 8 pocket page designed for early Topps sets. I think I am going to need to find a 4 pocket page to hold this.  It is the 95th unique card in my Paul Blair collection and the 27th auto. I was pretty stoked to get this.

This card, on the other hand, disappointed me.  The card itself is in great condition.  The problem was that I had sent it in to MAB Celebrity Services for an autograph signing they were holding last weekend.  Unfortunately, Ralph Terry had to cancel his appearance, so I was not able to add it to my 1963 Fleer Autograph project.    They seemed to imply Terry may be at a signing they are having later this year, so I guess I may just try again if that happens.  As it is, I have another 63 Fleer that is out for a signing at this weekend's White Plains show, and another in the hands of a promoter for signing in April. So the project is still marching on, albeit slowly.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Trade with The Lost Collector

When I decided to forego collecting modern sets, I figured my trading days were over, since almost all of the trade activity in the card-o-sphere seems to revolve around recent card offerings.  I have to admit that, while my trading activity has dropped off, it hasn't died.  And that pleases me to no end.

Example: I recently concluded a trade with AJ from The Lost Collector. I sent him a couple cards for a binder of Hall of Fame players he is putting together for his son. And I got two cards I needed for my 1973 set.

I really like that Garr is smiling so broadly in his card, but I am a little blown away that card 54 is not marked off on the checklist.  Stop a minute and try and wrap your mind around that.

Great trade! Thank you, AJ.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered


It is almost 11 PM and I just got home. My wife and I had tickets to the OKC Thunder - Utah Jazz game. Had a great time and left a few minutes into the fourth quarter with the Thunder up by 25.  I drove home as fast as I safely could because I knew there was a return package from the most recent Chris Potter Sports autograph signing waiting for me.

I had sent 3 cards in back in January and they were back in my possession....or so I thought.  I had a mild heart attack when I tore open the bubble mailer and saw one card and two empty top loaders fall out.  After recovering my composure, I examined the other contents to find a slip explaining that two of the the signings I had sent in for had been postponed to part of the next signing and would be returned to me at the end of June.  So, 66 2/3% of my excitement has been postponed three months.

So, what card did I get back?

This is the 17th of my 1963 Fleer cards that I now have autographed. One of the postponed cards I had sent in was also a 1963 Fleer, Vern Law.

After a bit of a lull, the last few months, my quest to get as many '63 Fleer cards signed as possible is starting to ramp up again. In addition to having Law out, I sent three more cards out for signing earlier this week.  And I have identified six more opportunities over the next few months.  So, hopefully, by July my count of autographed 1963 Fleer cards will be up to 27. Not bad for a 66 card set.

Oh, the second card that was delayed from this signing to the next?  The iconic 1976 Topps Traded Oscar Gamble.  I was hoping to show it off to Night Owl, who has declared that he is tired of that card.  Maybe he will be back in love with it when I get it back in July.

What I am listening to: Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Stevie Wonder

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tools of Ignorance

So, having made progress on my first two goals, how did I do on my other two?

My third goal was to make some progress on my 1968 Topps Game card insert set.  On this goal, I failed. I did find a decent sized stack of them, but the only one that I needed that was not stained or beat up was Willie Mays.  I ended up not getting it, because I thought it would be expensive. However, after I got home, I looked it up and it only books at $15, so I probably could have gotten it for the cost of a McDonald's value meal lunch.  Clown move, bro.

Which leaves my last goal of a splurge purchase.  I had considered a 1951 Red Back Allie Reynolds, but the guy was asking $18 (90% of book) and the card wasn't in *that* great of shape. I also considered a Red Man Roy Campanella (no tab) but, again, the price wasn't anywhere near reasonable.  A 1934 Goudey Paul Waner was another possibility I considered and dropped. So,what did I end up getting?

Night Owl made a good guess. Anyone else figure it out? Well, find out after the jump:

Monday, March 11, 2013

Fleer has a Flair

My second goal for the card show was to make a little progress on my 1960 and 1961 Fleer sets. I somewhat succeeded on this one, as I did end up picking up 7 cards for 1960.

I have to say that this is an ugly little set.  It has a craft project feel to it.  I suspect that may have something to do with why it is (generally) so cheap to pick up.  All of the cards I got today, save The Bambino here, cost me a dollar each.  When I found the Babe Ruth card, I was a little nervous about asking how much it was.  It has a book value of $100.  Now, no one actually sells at book, but we all use it as a gauge of what pricing should be.  I was expecting an asking price in the $30-$40 range, but the dealer was only asking $15.  There is a surface wrinkle on the card in the upper right hand corner that was not visible when it was in the top loader.  Not visible in the top loader, not visible in the Ultrapro sheet, I always say.   Done deal.

At this point, I am right at halfway done with the 80 card 1960 set, with 3 more high value cards to go (Gehrig, Cobb, Williams.)  This isn't on my list of sets I want to finish this year, but it may be attainable. Commons are generally so cheap that, if I can get the three high value cards at a price similar to the Ruth card, I may be able to knock it off.

I didn't find any 1961 Fleer at the show,  but I did get this:

Wait, what?  Wasn't that supposed to be my splurge purchase?  Well, yes.  The 1963 Fleer Clemente has a book value of $200, so I would expect that an EX or better version would run more than $100.  This one, however, was way, way less than that.  While it has sharp corners and edges, and a clean glossy surface, the centering is way off and it was priced accordingly.  I am now down to needing only 4 cards to finish my 1963 Fleer set (five if you count the checklist.)  The only high value card among the four is Don Drysdale.  The checklist is actually the most expensive card in the set, at a $500 book value. It is so high because of the general problem of finding unchecked checklists and because this card was short printed (along with the Joe Adcock card.)

The one premier seller at the show actually did have a checklist priced at $50, but it had check marks on it and was only in G condition. I had considered it for my splurge purchase, but decided against it.  I really cannot decide what to do about the checklist.  As a set collector, I want the complete set, including checklists.  But, I have been slowly building this set with EX or better cards, and have no intent of spending the dinero needed to get a clean checklist in that condition.  In the price range that I would be looking at, the cards would not be of particularly good quality. So, in the end, while I may keep my eye out for a clean card at bargain prices, I am not particularly concerned about adding the checklist to my set.

Anyhoo, if Clemente didn't turn out to be my wild and crazy pickup, and it wasn't the Fleer checklist, what was it?

Stay tuned!

What I am listening to: I Ain't Back No More by John Hiatt.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Close, but No Cigar

I set out 4 goals for this card show.  The first, and most important, was to make that final push to completion of my 1971 set that I have been working on since the summer of 2011. Walking into the show, I needed 19 cards to finish up.  I didn't find all 19, but I did knock off 12.  Most were just high number commons and not interesting in and of themselves.

I debated about buying this card or not. My main criteria for 1971 cards is to have nice clean corners and edges and at least a little black border visible all the way around.  The top edge on this AL Rookie card is a little rough.  Earlier in my quest, I would have taken a pass on it. But, I am at the point that I really want to have this set done and to move on to other things.  So, I got it.

So, I am down to only needing 7 cards to finish, including Bob Gibson and Boog Powell. I had hoped to finish this set this month. But, since I spent my bankroll at the show,  it will have to be April now. I can live with the delay, given the reasons.

What I am listening to: Middle of the Road by The Pretenders

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Card Show Debrief

I had a great time at the show, even though I was only there about 3 hours.  Due to my unexpected tax refund windfall, I walked in with a bit over $200 in my pocket. As expected, I had no self control and wasn't able to walk away with any money left in my pocket.  I did, however, walk away with 22 cards for myself and a few dollar box finds for other people. 

Here is a sneak peak of my splurge purchase.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Death and Taxes....

...and card shows!

With much trepidation, I sat down this week and did my taxes.  For reasons I won't bore you with, I expected to owe a fair amount. I was pleasantly surprised to not only get a refund, but a sizeable refund.

Most of it will be going into improvements on the 5 acre plot of land adjoining my farm that I am in the process of buying.  But I am going to earmark some of that for possible splurging at the OKC card show this weekend.

My goals will be remain fairly simple:

  1. Get as close to finished as possible on my 1971 set.
  2. Knock off a few more 1960 and 1961 Fleer cards
  3. Make some progress on my 1968 Topps game insert set
  4. Maybe make one big purchase towards the sets I am currently working on. Like maybe the 1963 Fleer Clemente I need
I do have a hard time leaving with any money in my pocket, so we'll see if I can stick to my plan for that last one.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

March Mini-Show $30 Haul

 Since I was up in the area buying feed, I decided to stop in at the March mini-show at Al's Sportscards in Edmond.  I was mainly going to check in on one of the dealers who I hadn't talked to in several months and had been having health problems.  He was there and was in good spirits, despite still fighting some health issues. However, as it turns out, I was also able to make some (small) headway on the sets I am working.

A 1968 Topps game card. At 33 cards, it is a pretty small subset.  Yaz here is my 20th card towards completion.

I also found 5 star cards for my 1973 set.  I also had an offer for a nice 73 Nolan Ryan that I passed on in order to preserve my money for the larger OKC show next weekend.  I have heard one of the premier vintage dealers, Roger Neufeldt of Sports Memories of Oklahoma, will be there, and he is my last remaining, non-Ebay chance to knock off the remainder of the cards I need to finish 1971.

Speaking of which....

I actually managed to find one card I needed for my 1971 set.  The Killer acquisition means that I only need 18 more cards to finish the set.   While I am not expecting to find all 18 next week, I am hoping to get most of them.  I have been working this set since August of 2011 and it is time to put it to rest.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

My $30 Weekend

The title of this post has two meanings.  The first is because I just completed a trade with Robert from $30 a week habit.   It was a simple trade. I sent him a stack of 1973 cards and I got a stack of 1975 back. Easy peasy.  While I am not working on 1975 at the moment, it is the set I will start on after I complete 1973. So, hopefully later this year.

I will show the cards that caught my fancy.

Chicken.  What else is there to say?

I had to show this card.  Herb Washington, Pinch Runner.  It seems like he should have been one of the blue collar super heroes in "Mystery Men", one of my favorite comedy movies.

I am only showing Tito to give evidence that he didn't always were a head band on the outside of his hat.

I just love this card.  A nice action shot on a card from the era when action shots were few and usually poorly composed.

One of my favorite Yankee players growing up.

That is it. A great trade. Thanks, Robert.

Oh, in case you are wondering about the double meaning of the blog title, I went to the mini-show at Al's today and spent.........wait for it.............. $30. But, more on that later.

Closing in on Completion....Sorta

I really should have been using the proceeds from selling off my Heritage sets on finishing my 1971 set, but I ended up spending a fair amount working on the Loblaws 1974/75 Hockey stickers.

This set is composed of 324 individual player stickers (18 players for each of 18 teams) that are sold in strips of 8. They were distributed through both Loblaw's and Acme Super Saver grocery stores in Canada and the Northeast US.  You can see what the sticker strip looked like when the cashier handed one to your mom:

The Loblaws variety, shown above, came with a coupon.  Please note that the two images above are not the same scale.  The upper image is equivalent to 3 stickers (or 1 sticker and the coupon) on the lower image.

The Acme version,shown below did not come with a coupon.

As you might expect, there was also an album for the stickers.

The Acme  version of the album was identical in content, but had a different cover that was basically a slight variation of the sticker strip front seen above.

Now, the more astute observer (which is all of you, amirite?), will say "Hey wait!  324 is not divisible by 8? What gives?"  Well, I'll tell you that your math is correct and something does give.  There were 40 unique strips covering 320 of the individual stickers, leaving 4 unaccounted for.  So to speak. The albums actually came with a page of 20 stickers in the back.  And the 4 stickers not found in the strips were found at the bottom of that page of 20.  That is right, short prints!  Or as I like to call them "@#$$%&#$%!!!!"

Thankfully, the four players on the short print stickers were not huge names or they would be ungodly expensive.  As it is, recently, an intact sheet of 20 sold on EBay for $18.49 plus shipping.  So, those SP stickers would have cost me $5 each. Since I actually managed to have one already (Guy Charron -Detroit Redwings), I would have been paying over $7 for each sticker I needed. Since my Paypal account was empty, I wasn't ready to pay that much, so I didn't bid. 

But, prior to that I managed to pick up some strips of stickers at reasonable prices and have knocked my want list down from 46 players down to 18. I even got a fairly reasonable price on the strip that includes Bobby Orr.

I ended up paying $18 for the strip and another couple bucks for shipping.  It seems like a lot, but they usually sell for more (recent sales of unbroken strips has been between $24 and $41 and a recent KSA graded individual Orr sticker has sold for $45), so I think I did pretty well. Particularly considering I also needed most of the other players on that strip.  Among the other strips, I also got the stars Bobby Clarke and Stan Mikita.

So, although I now have all the big stars, finishing the set will get (relatively) expensive.  Sure the three remaining SPs I need will probably set me back $5 or more each. But, I also expect the other 15 will be expensive since I will likely need to buy a bunch of stickers I don't need to get the ones I do. Plus, since the only source I have for the stickers is EBay, the shipping costs factor in.

It has been fun to date and it will be fun to complete. But, as any set collector knows, the last few cards towards completion can be painful.  You have the end in site, but it seems to never get there. Kinda like one of those dreams where you are being chased down a corridor while the door at the end keeps moving away from you. I have no idea how long it will take to finish, but I don't expect it to happen any time in the next few months.  So, I can't avoid 1971 any more. I have to push through on that set....

Coming up: A trade pack arrives and the monthly Mini-show.