Saturday, December 31, 2022

Happy New Year!


What I am listening to:  Auld Lang Syne by The Choral Scholars of University College Dublin

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Night Owl Delivers

 It's been nearly 3 months since my last post.  A lot has happened since then n my life, though not on the hobby front.  You're hear for the cards, so I won't waste time on life events other than to say I've been thrown a curve, but all is generally well for me.  And it is the holiday season!

I got back into the hobby just about 12 years ago, attending my first show and getting my first cards in December of 2010.  I began trading cards online shortly thereafter, though as a marginal blogging personality (at best) it was always a small part of my collecting experience.  I went back and looked to see who those early trading partners were.  The first person I traded with after re-entering the hobby was Chris over at Nachos Grande.  The second was Night Owl.  Fast forward to today and I do some sporadic trading over Twitter (though I intend to leave there soon) and at Net54.  But, for the most part, my only consistent partner now is Night Owl, with whom I trade with a couple/three times each year.

Anywho, I mentioned previously that I'm shifting my collecting focus somewhat.  Specifically, I won't be building any sets from 1954 or prior due to the cost and will start building some of the sets from the 1980s.  Sometime back I bought a huge box of junk wax for $10 and it included a substantial amount of 1989 Topps.  A few weeks ago, I got an email from Greg asking incredulously "Are you really building 1989?"  When I confirmed that I was, Greg was generous enough to knock off my entire want list for the set. And here is a sample of what he sent.  Knowing his feelings for the man, I am most surprised that he parted with a Jack Clark card.

Or, perhaps more accurately, I am surprised he allowed a Jack Clark card to take up space in his house for any length of time. Either way, I'm glad to have it and glad to have 1989 in the books.

Greg didn't stop there, though.  See for yourself:

A 1966 Roger Maris.  Damn.  I mean, damn!

This is probably a good launching off point to talk about my 2022 and plans for 2023. It seems like an awkward segue but bear with me.

2022 was generally a sedate year, hobby wise, as I was preparing for a job search.  But, at the same time it was very productive, as I managed to finish 3 sets (starting in December 2021): 1960, 1965, and 1968.  I also made substantial progress on my 1969 set.

So, what is in store for 2023?  My goals will be simple:

  1. I'd like to finish my 1955 Topps set, because I only need 5 more cards.  Those 5 are Jackie Robinson, Harmon Killebrew (RC) and three high number commons.
  2. Finish my 1969 set.  I am 15 cards from completion, with the biggest names being Clemente, Bench, and Nolan Ryan.
  3. To the extent, I finish at least one of the two above mentioned sets, I'd like to start a new set.  1966 has vaulted into the lead now that I have Maris.  Logically, 1967 would be the choice since I have completed 1968 through 1979, but I have heard too many horror stories about the high numbers in '67.  So, '66 it is.
  4. Start one set from the 1980s, with '82 and '85 being the leading candidates.
So, not only has Night Owl sent me a really nice, valuable card, but he has helped clarify my goals for next year.  Thank you, Greg!

What I am listening to: Colors by Black Pumas

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

1961 Fleer Autograph Project - Part 34

It has been a bit over a year since I last posted about my autographed 1960 and 1961 Fleer project.  In that post, I shared that I won a lot of 47 signed 1961s, of which I needed 18.  The other 29 were shipped off to an auction house and I netted back about half of my original lot cost. I've added a few more over the last year and, as of today, I am sitting at 61 signed cards from this set. So, we have some catching up to do.

Hall of Famer Lefty Gomez (1972 Veterans Committee) pitched in 368 games across all or part of 14 seasons. All but one of those games were with the NY Yankees between 1930 and 1942.  The sole game where he didn't where the pinstripes was an ineffective 4 2/3 inning start for the Washington Senators in the first game of a twin bill on May 30, 1943.  His finest season was probably 1934, when he went 26-5 with a 2.33 ERA and finished 3rd in the MVP voting behind only Mickey Cochrane and fellow hurler Charlie Gehringer. Oddly enough, he finished ahead of teammate Lou Gehrig, who was 5th in voting despite hitting for the Triple Crown (the only time he ever did so.)

His best game may have come on May 24, 1932 against the Philadelphia Athletics. Lefty pitched a complete game while allowing only 3 hits and 1 walk against 13 strikeouts. One of the hits was a ground ball single by Jimmie Foxx, who was hitting .441 at the time and was well on his way to the first of his three MVP seasons.

Gomez was known as one of the funniest men in baseball, though much of his humor was self-deprecating. An example was when Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon in 1969, and he and NASA scientists were puzzled by an unidentified white object. Upon hearing of it, Lefty said, “I knew immediately what it was. It was a home run ball hit off me in 1937 by Jimmie Foxx.”

What I am listening to:  Down by the Water by The Decemberists

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Good God!

 I realize the gap between this post and its predecessor isn't all that long, at least for me.  I am trying to get ramped up to post more about my signed 1961 Fleer project, since when I last left off I was posting about my 33rd such card, and I just picked up my 61st.  But, I want those posts to be informative and that involves taking time to research them.  Currently, I am really busy at my new job and I have several large projects I want to finish around the farm before the cold weather sets in, so I have not found the time to sit down and focus on the research.  So, this is basically a throwaway post.

As you know, prior to working on a signed 1961 Fleer set, I was working on a signed 1963 Fleer set. And, when we last left that project, I had autographed versions of 65 out of the 66 cards in the set; lacking only Roberto Clemente.  I have only ever seen that card come up for auction a couple of times and it always finished waaaay outside my budget, Another showed up in the Most recent Memory Lane auction. The opening bid was $2,500 so I was out of the running before the auction even opened.  The auction closed last night and check this out:

Absolutely crazy.  I cannot even imagine.  If I had $10K drop into my lap I have plenty of things I could do with it: put it towards a new car, knock a chunk off my mortgage balance, put it away for retirement, the possibilities are legion. Buying this card would be pretty close to the last thing I would do.  

Anyways, back into my hole. 

What I am listening to: Resignation Superman by Big Head Todd and The Monsters

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Pleasure and Pain

As I mentioned earlier, I had lived frugally for over a year in order to prepare for a job search.  And, since I was only off for 6 weeks, I had some extra money saved up.  Most was used in a responsible, adult way. Some as a supplement to our retirement savings, and I also bought a used utility tractor for use around our acreage. But I did decide to do a little celebratory hobby spending.  Some of it you saw in my previous post.  Here is the rest of it:

I honestly didn't think I'd get this.  I threw a bid on it that was 30-35% below comps for a PSA 4 and actually won.  I am assuming it didn't command a typical price because of that side-to-side centering.  But, I have always been a corners and edge man.  As long as there is border all the way around, I am happy.  And there is border all the way around here. So, good to go.

But this comes with a cost, since this card was many multiples of my previous most expensive purchase. I did have to "borrow" against future hobby spending, And that cost, not surprisingly, is severely curtailed hobby activity at least through the end of the year.  I will try to knock off the commons I need for my 1969 set and I may actually start working on some of the junk wax era sets that interest me.  But, that is probably about it.

Speaking of which, that big box of junk wax I bought a couple months ago for a tenner?  It had a near complete set of 1989 Topps and I have thrown a want list over on the sidebar. I had previously decided to not work any base sets newer than 1979.  But, as I sneak up on retirement in 6-8 years, I am re-evaluating how I want to collect between now and then and, of course, afterwards.  I have already decided that 1955 is the oldest set I will build, And I will likely start moving forward in time from 1979. Most of the 1980s Topps sets are growing on me. I'm not a fan of '86 or '87. In fact, I absolutely hate 1987. But the rest of the decade is fine and will make a nice way to keep collecting without having to open my wallet too wide.  Along those lines, that big box of junk had a partial set of 1988 Score, which I also like well enough to build the set and may even post about.

So, there you have it. I have reached the pinnacle of my collecting life with this card. But, I am looking at the future without any sense of melancholy.  I am happy to have this card, but I also got a great deal of enjoyment out of the Felipe Alou card I needed to finish my 1965 set, which I started working 5 years ago.  That is the beauty of this hobby. You can do it any way you like on any budget you like.

What I am listening to:  Starlight by Yola

Friday, August 19, 2022

Card Show Pickups - Miscellaneous Stuff

 In my last post I mentioned I bought a few cards at last weekends show just because they caught my fancy. And here they are.

I found this signed 1977 Willie Randolph in a $5 box.  The more I look at it, though, the more convinced I become that it is not authentic.   So, basically, a fiver down the drain.

Over the last few shows, I've picked up individual vintage football cards of HOF players. Nothing expensive, but mainly players who names I recognize and I may have watched as a youngster.  I really like the 1967 Topps Gino Cappelletti; enough that may try to build that set.  At the time, Topps only had the license for the AFL. NFL cards were issued by the Philadelphia Gum Company.  The dilemma I face is whether I should also collect the 1967 PGC cards also.  Generally, I like the design of the Philadelphia cards, which were issued between 1964 and 1967.  But, 1967 was ugly with a canary yellow border.  So, I may just stick with Topps. It isn't anything I am going to start soon, so who knows what will happen.

Another thing to note here is the back of the card, which is very similar to the back of 1968 baseball.  I am assuming Topps got a deal on that godawful yellow ink.  As they probably started the printing the baseball cards after finishing up the football set.

Capelletti is an interesting fellow. He was both a placekicker and a receiver. He passed away at the age of 88 earlier this year.

Believe it or not, this is the first 1951 Topps I have ever owned. I had to have at least one and this is probably where I will stop.  I am glad to have this card, but the set doesn't capture my imagination.

And, there it is.  My favorite pickup from the show. It was marked as $50, but the seller is my main in-person vintage guy, so he usually gives me a decent discount. So, I am guessing this cost me more around $40. Not a small sum, but well worth it to have an autograph of one of the greatest ballplayers ever.

So that is about it for the show.  Not sure what it next. Hopefully, I will start posting more.

What I am listening to: Lone Pine Hill by Justin Townes Earle

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Card Show Pickups - Set Needs

My main priority at last weekend's show was to work on set needs.  About a week earlier, I actually finished my 1965 set that I started back in 2017.  It was actually the third set I have finished this year, after several years of having completed none.  So, the main sets I was wanting to make progress on were 1955, 1958, and 1969 Topps baseball, 1973 Topps football, and 1972-73 Topps basketball. So, with that, lets proceed:

I found exactly 1 card I needed for my 1969 set. I have been focusing on1969 over the last year because it is reasonably affordable, even in comparison to some sets that followed it. I wanted to make more progress, but every little bit helps I guess. I am down to needing only 33 cards to finish this set.  Thankfully, I have the Mantle, but I still lack Roberto Clemente, Johnny Bench, Nolan Ryan, and the Reggie Jackson rookie card. I'd like to finish this set this year, but those four cards will be a challenge.  I am not one to pay up and over the last couple years, good deals have been few and far between.

I snagged 20 cards from 1958 Topps, bringing my total for the set to 180 cards. That is a bit over one third of the set.  I started this one since I have the Mantle already. I bought it about 10 years ago for the princely sum of $100, which was the most I had ever spent on a card at that time (and for several years after.)  Along the way, I;d already acquire Ted Williams and Roberto Clemente.  So, the only major cards I need at this point is Willie Mays, the Roger Maris rookie card, and the Aaron/Mantle Batting Foes card.  I'll keep plugging away, but this is probably going to be a 2024 completion.

I managed to find 8 cards I needed for the 1959 Fleer Ted Williams set.  These are the first additions to that set build since 2015.  That ultra rare Ted Signs card has me spooked.  So, this will not be a priority for me. I'll add things opportunistically, but if I never finish this, I won't care.

And now to what you have seen in my previous post.

I am really close to finishing 1955.  I was down to 8 cards to finish, one of which is this Duke Snider.  The card is a bit rough, with water staining, and that missing corner.  But, this card is one of the more expensive, and elusive, cards in the set.  Of course, Snider was a star. But, not of the caliber of a Jackie Robinson or Willie Mays, who's 55 cards are of similar value.  At least part of this cards cost is due to being the last card in the set and (not dissimilar to the 1952 Andy Pafko) was prone to rubber band damage. The staining doesn't bother me, but I've always been one of those collectors that values good corners and edges.  And that lower right corner would normally be a disqualifier.  But, this card was priced at $30, which is so far below what it would normally be that I decided I can definitely live with that corner.  

I also knocked off another '55 need:

You can catch some hints of it in the picture, but this Banks card also has some water staining.  Without that, I think it would have graded out as a solid 5. I like it just fine. So, I am down to needing 6 cards to finish: 3 commons, Jackie Robinson, Harmon Killebrew, and the dreaded Clemente rookie.  I'm far enough along that I am going to try and complete it, but that Clemente scares me. I've never spent more than $400 on a card and can count on one hand how many times I've spent more than $250.  Dropping four figures is going to be painful.

That does it for the set building. Next up will be the miscellaneous stuff I bought just because.

What I am listening to: Down by the Water by The Decembrists.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Proof of Life

I'm still here, so a few updates:

I am back gainfully employed. My last day on my previous job was June 3 and I started my new gig on July 26.  All things considered that is a fairly short interval.    I had planned to shift towards contract consulting, but my expertise was fairly niche, and I could see that career focus could have as much down time as not.  The interregnum told me that I am not quite ready for significant down time.  So, I'm back on the W-2 train for a few more years.  This job is a pretty big departure from my career path, but it should be interesting and I really like the people I work with.

Additionally, we added a new member to the family here.  Normally, this wouldn't be noteworthy for a sports card blog, but we have been keeping track since San Jose Fuji threw down the gauntlet regarding non-card collections so many years ago.  Anyways, back in January of 2021, a feral tom cat started coming around the farm.  He was wild as a March hare and wouldn't let us anywhere near him.  We kept food out for him and monitored his comings and goings with a game camera.  Slowly, over time, he began to trust us and this January, a full year after he started visiting, I was able to pet him for the first time.  Fast forward to a few weeks ago, and he was obviously sick. So, we got him off to the vet. He was diagnosed with bobcat fever, an often-deadly tick-borne illness.  His recovery included me having to give him medicine, which means he was confined to my home office/card room. As you might expect, he is now a house cat. So, meet Chester:

January 2021

August 2022

Anyways, having saved up for a potentially lengthy job search, the quick return to the workforce left me some funds for hobby spending.  So, yesterday I went to a card show.   I've gone to card shows in the past year, but those were always more focused.  Yesterday, I went with a desire to make some progress on sets, but also to engage in a little whimsy and pick up a few things that aren't natural fits to how I collect.  

I intend to get back blogging again, particularly focusing on a series of posts about my signed 1960 and 1961 Fleer collection.  But, until I get my rear in gear, here is a sample of what I got yesterday.

What I am listening to:  Cross Bones Style by Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit (Amanda Shires on lead vocals and fiddle)

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Coming Up for Air

 So, it has been 5 months since we last talked. My last day on my job was Thursday, so I am officially unemployed.  I only half-heartedly looked for a new job over the last few months. I've decided I want to shift from in-house roles to doing contract consulting and I have already aligned myself with one consulting firm and am starting the process to sign up with a second.  Additionally, I have an introductory interview this week for in-house roles with a third consulting/business intelligence firm.  So, while I am a bit unbalanced about not having a job, I am moving forward and, hopefully, something will pop up soon.

My hobby activity has been curtailed significantly over the last year, once I knew I would be moving on.  While it hasn't stopped, it has become more focused and I've gotten a few things accomplished that I might not have otherwise.

For example, I finally finished my 1968 Topps set in December.

The last card was, unsurprisingly the Nolan Ryan rookie card.  I had made no progress on this set for over 2 years because of how expensive that card was. I could never find a card that was both within my budget and condition requirements.  However, I finally found one in an auction that met both criteria.  I ended up paying a bit over $330 for it. While it was the third most I have ever paid for a card, it was a steal at this price.  The main issue was fading on the left side of the card due to exposure to sunlight.  But, it has great eye appeal, so I am tickled to death to have it.

In January, I finished my 1960 Topps set.  The last card was the Chicago Cubs team card.

Since then,  I went the OKC show in February, the Dallas show in March, then nothing until this weekends OKC show.  In those shows, I've worked on the Topps sets from 1958, 1969, and 1973 Football. I chose 1958 since I bought the Mantle card years ago before prices went nuts, 1965 because I am down to 6 cards to complete, and 1969 as it is the most affordable of the remaining 1960s sets.  

Anway, I had a good haul at this weekend's show:

My wife collects mid-century modern barware and asked me to stop at a local flea market to check out something and I found that big box of junk wax for $10.  What can I say?  I would bet the main value of the box is as kindling, but I am pretty sure I can get more than a sawbucks worth of fun out of it.

What I am listening to:  One More Night by Micahel Kiwanuka

Saturday, January 8, 2022

2021 In Review

 It was a year. When I last left you, I was still waiting on the acquisition of my employer by a larger company to close. The transaction finally closed in early December and because, when given the option of moving to Houston or moving on, I chose the latter, a 180 day clock started ticking.  When that clock runs to zero sometime around June 3, I am officially unemployed. I haven't started looking for a new gig yet, but will be starting shortly.

As it stands, I have had plenty of time to prepare, so the change doesn't represent an existential issue. I'm blessed to have that flexibility and to be able to keep somewhat active in the hobby.  

So, enough about that. Shall we talk hobby?  My hobby activity was a bit odd.  I scaled back my level of activity as I prepared but, at the same time, also completed my three most expensive purchases.  So, let's review the year. First, though, I do want to acknowledge a recent kindness.

1. Cards from Night Owl

To get cards from Night Owl is always an opportunity to experience joy and guilt in equal measures. Joy because he seems to have access to really great cards that I don't see very often, if at all. Guilt because he does so much for the hobby already at his blog that receiving cards from him always seems to overweight one side of the ledger. I get that our little corner of this hobby isn't about making sure the debits and credits balance, but my collecting is so inwardly focused that I do occasionally need reminders of the obligation to be a good member of the community.

My early collecting included a mix of modern and vintage.  While I left the annual Topps releases behind quickly, there were several modern series of sets I really liked.  The Fleer Greats of the Game sets issued between 2000 and 2004 are the prime example.  I was mostly done with 2002, except I only had half of the Dueling Duos insert set. I had mostly forgotten about it when a package arrived from Greg that included three of my needs for that subset. I have acknowledge that one of the three was the card above that featured Duke Snider, a legendary Dodger.  Getting such a card from a Dodger collector is a great treat.  And it provided the necessary incentive to get this over with. I managed to piece together the remaining subset needs from COMC and Burbank.

I am almost exclusively a vintage collector, but I do occasionally pick up modern cards that catch my eye. If I came across this card in a discount box at a show, it would buy it.  No questions asked.That I received it as a gift makes it all that much more special.   

I still remember where I was when I learned that Thurman Munson had died in a plane crash.  I grew up in western New York and my family's annual vacation was to rent a cottage in the Thousand Islands near Alexandria Bay. Why mention this at all?  Well, Alex Bay is a short drive from where Night Owl lives. 


An interesting card from this year's Stadium Club offering: a Superstar Duos card with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton on opposite sides. The background graphics, particularly on the Judge side, remind me of the colorful backgrounds on the 2009 through 2011 Tristar Obak sets I love so well.

2. 1960-1963 Signed Fleer

I'm not going to show any cards here, as I still intend to have a series based on them at some point soon. But, for something I started on a lark nearly 10 years ago, I am amazed at how much progress I've made. See for yourself:

3. Set building

Set building has always been a slow process for me. I see folks on Twitter who finish multiple vintage sets per year.  It is hard for me to fathom that.  Once I got past the late 1970s sets, it usually takes me a minimum of two years to complete a set and sometimes more.  

I finally finished my 1968 Topps set in 2021. As near as I can tell, I started this set in 2017, but made absolutely no progress after 2019. I sat at two cards to go for two years waiting for the cost of the Nolan Ryan rookie card to come down. It never did and I finally resolved to just bite the bullet and get it over with.  I broke down and got the Lou Brock card earlier in the year, only leaving #177 to go. I managed to pick this up in an auction for $325 delivered:

This was the third most I have ever spent on a card, but was well below what all but the poorest of  Ryans usually go for.

If you look at the comps on this card, the price I paid was a steal. It went so low because of color fading on the left hand side of the card.  But, it is in great condition otherwise, and it has great eye appeal despite the fading.  So, I am very happy to have it and to have this set finally in the books.

I also have finished 1960 Topps. Sort of, anyways. The final card I needed for that set is still in transit to me and should be here Tuesday.  It isn't this card though:

I got this earlier in the year in a Robert Edwards auction.  This set me back over $400 and is the most I have ever spent on a card.  Evern more than the 1956 Mantle I got at the National several years ago. Barring a postal catastrophe, I'm glad to have finished 1960.

I have not, however, finished 1965.

I started working on 1965 four years ago, in the late winter of 2017, and I am still needing 21 cards to finish. While I picked up the Mantle in 2020, I still need a fair number of the high value cards, like Aaron, Mays, Banks, Uecker, plus the Carlton and Niekro rookie cards. 

Wait. Back up a second. Uecker? It's a high number, but a common nonetheless. Yeah, I don't get it either.  Beckett assigns it a book value of $25, but even rough copies of the card sell for more than that.  It is just odd.

Anyways, I am skeptical of my ability to finish this in 2022.  I looked back. In September of 2020, nearly a year and a half ago, I needed 38 cards to finish, I've added a total of 17 cards in 16 months.  I may just have to bite the bullet and start resetting my cost expectations on this set, because it really shouldn't be this hard.

4. Player Collections 

I have two player collections, Johnny Antonelli and Paul Blair.  This year, I undertook an effort to try and catalog the cards that are available for each. I mainly used TCDB, but found it incomplete andsupplemented it with what I already have.  If you look at TCDB, you will see me as having the largest collection for both players.  But, in summary, I still have a way to go.

This is the latest addition to my Antonelli collection, a James Elder postcard.  At the moment, I have catalogued 98 unique Johnny Antonelli cards and postcards and, also at the moment, I have 66 of them.  67% is pretty good, but not good enough if I am going to be serious here.  Unfortunately, the 32 I don't have are all pretty obscure. How obscure? Well, the only one of the 32 I have actually seen is a 1960 Topps Venezuelan card.  When a Venezuelan is the least obscure of the remaining needs, you know the rest are rarer than hen's teeth. 

My entry back into the hobby was trying to collect Paul Blair cards, since I had a Paul Blair model glove as a kid. Little did I know what I was getting myself in for. I have catalogued 209 different Paul Blair cards and photocards.  There are two sub-categories that I am ambivalent about:  Topps buyback cards (which are basically vintage cards that are stamped with foil, like this one) and cut auto cards mainly produced by Tristar.  Alas,. if I am going to continue to advance my Blair colleciton, I am going to have to overcome that ambivalence.  As of today, I have 154 of those 209 items, for a respectable 74%.  

So, that was a summary of where I am to date. I'm going to try and blog more in 2022.  There are a couple of series I started and let die that I'd like to pick up again. In my next post, I'll lay out how I see my hobby '22 shaping up.

What I am listening to: Texas Sun by Khruangbin & Leon Bridges

On this continent and in the psyche of its people the plains have always been a staggering presence, a place of myth and cliche, a place for transformation, bafflement, or heartbreak. From the east they are a release from the clawing of swamp and tangle and human density. From the west they are a drop and a straightening after the kinks and strains of mountains. Entered from any direction they are a new air, a joy to behold, a combination of large-scale intimidations and primordial inner acoustics. 

- "Magpie Rising" Merrill Gilfillan