Friday, July 29, 2011

Play at the Plate Contest Rack Pack

I won the monthly contest over at Play at the Plate for July, and I picked a rack pack of 2011 Bowman for my prize. Before I post my goodies, I have to thank Brian for putting on these contests every month. If you aren't checking out the contests  he has at Play at the Plate the first of every month, you should be. And you should be reading one of the best blogs out there. Brian has a way of getting readers involved that I envy. On top of his superior blogging skills, he's also one of the most generous bloggers.

OK, enough ass-kissing. You came here to see if I got a Bryce Harper.

I did better than pull a Harper, I scored two of my favorite Tigers from the set. A Cabrera for the player collection and a V-Mart in full catcher gear. I beat the odds pulling the 4th and 5th spots in the batting lineup.

Here are two non-Harper chrome prospects. I didn't realize this Bowman card of Dee Gordon, son of Flash, was not his first Bowman card. I think I do have his first card, though, from 2008, when he was Devaris Strange-Gordon. Why'd you drop the Strange, Dee? That's strange. Maybe not. You don't see too many hyphenated names in baseball. I'm pretty sure when Topps picked up their monopoly status they outlawed hyphenation.
I also pulled one of those Bowman's Best inserts. I have to say that I'm not a big fan of this insert set. Retro '90s just isn't a retro I'm ready to revel in yet. I liked the 1992 Bowman inserts from last year, but these ones don't do it for me.

Again, not Harper, and who cares. Pirela has 7 home runs so far this year in AA, and even though he's a Yankee, I do enjoy me a good green border.

The rack pack was a fun free rip, but the real highlight of my contest winnings was the extra goodies Brian sent.

This Ichiro was much-needed for my 2007 Bowman Heritage set, my favorite modern set. And this is a fantastic card. I love Ichiro's pose set against the clouds and the colorful wall. I'm not sure which wall we're looking at here. I'm not too sure it's even a real wall, but it captures that vintage feel perfectly. This is one of the best looking cards in a great set.

Brian also tossed in another Ichiro. He's not officially a player I collect, but somehow Brian knew I'd enjoy more Ichiro. Hell, who doesn't? Ichiro's one of those guys I've always considered starting to collect more seriously.
Thanks for sending all the great stuff, Brian.

I recently picked up a few more packs of 2011 Bowman for my birthday, which I'll post soon, and then you can see what other non-Harpers I scored.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Old Guys Return

Like last year, my wife is taking me to a Tigers game for my birthday. Last year, we saw them lose to the Blue Jays. We also saw Magglio and Carlos Guillen both get injured in the same game--two trips to the DL that would last weeks for Magglio, and just now Carlos is coming back. It's been a year. Hard to believe. And I was thinking it was about time we gave up on the old guy. But he's batting pretty great so far, and it's nice to have solid, reliable defense at second again. Lordy knows we don't need Raburn there every day.

Hard to believe Guillen started in 1996 and is still going. It'll be good to see him play again tonight.

So, Carlos is back, Magglio is back, and I'll be back, too. The only thing different from last year is that I'll get to see the Tigers play the A's, and I'll see them win, and no one will get hurt--hope, hope, hopes. Oh, and I'll never be a twenty-something again, since I'm turning thirty. I guess everything is different. But can't beat a Tigers game on a sweltering July evening.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Card Show Cheapness, or an Embarrassing Pudge

I've been to two card shows fairly recently. Well, not that recently. I've just been behind in my posting. And I have treasures to share. The first one was in South Haven, which is a small tourist town on Lake Michigan. My wife and I often go there to swim, but this trip had a much more important purpose. They had a signing at this one with retired Tigers player Charlie Maxwell. I was too cheap to pay $10 for an auto from him, but I do wish I would have chatted with him, since I'm pretty sure he would have crossed paths with the epic Coot. Oh well. No Maxwell chatting, but I did pick up a few decent cards.

I always spend a good deal of time digging through the dime and quarter boxes, and I'm always looking for and have trouble passing up Ripken cards for the player collection. Here's one of the Ripkens I got in mostly quarter boxes, since Ripken is too sophisticated to slum in the dime boxes:

This is one of those pop-up cards from the mid '80s. I've been debating whether I should pop this Ripken up or not. Perhaps I'll wait to find a double. I was surprised to find this one in an elongated top loader, which I didn't even know they made. Otherwise, I'd have no way to store this towering card. I do love how the elongated card features the dome of the stadium.

Next up is just some base 1994 Upper Deck. How great of a shot is this? Ripken is doling some sort of Superman ninja kick to a Red Soxer. Or maybe he just posed like this, balancing on the sliding dude's raised arm. This has to be one of the best photos from this set.

I also picked up one of the worst photos from this set:

Oh, the early '90s was an embarrassing era, and Pudge exemplifies just about everything I want to forget about this time period: gold chain, gold watch, over-sized shades, too-tight Guess jeans an AC Slater look set with the backdrop of the beach. This looks almost like it should have been one of those black and white glamour photos from the 1991 Score Dream Team subset. Perhaps Pudge would like to forget this card, but at least it's now in my collection, yanked out of a nickel box.

I also picked up my first cards of some of the more-promising members of the rookie crop this year:

Smoak and Hosmer were part of a 3 for a dollar deal. I'm not a big fan of this set, but I was glad to pick up my first cards of these guys.

I also snagged these:

Jeter and I-Rod kind-of-rookie cards. Hard to pass up for a quarter. And this is what happens when one is roaming the cheap-o boxes aimlessly.

With all my aimless cheap-o box wanderings, I did find this card in a 3 for a dollar box. I really liked the 2005 Topps Heritage set, and I like Vlad, and I like numbered cards. But this one is certainly up for trade, if someone likes numbered Vlad Heritage more.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Two-Thirds of a Proper Ripken Collection

Ripken's been a favorite of mine as long as I've been collecting. It took me until just last year to pick up his rookie card, which I had my little sister pick up for me off the Ebay. She's internet savvy and was actually the first one in my family to earn a bit of scratch on Ebay when she sold her My Little Pony collection. What a jerk of a big brother I sound like, forcing my little sis to spend her hard-earned My Little Pony money on baseball cards. But don't be fooled. I'm not robbing a baby sister's piggy bank. She's away in Texas working as an optometrist for the Air Force, while I'm a lowly writer/teacher/grad student. I thought it would be a more convenient way for her to shop for Christmas. So there you go, parents: Encourage playing with My Little Ponies and you might get yourself an optometrist; let your kids play with cardboard and they'll pick up some ridiculous job that will fate them to eternal poverty and obscurity.

Here's the rookie card she snagged:

This is actually my favorite rookie of Ripken's, aside from the Topps Traded white whale. We get an action shot of Cal here, rather than a posed closeup of mini-Cal squished between two scrubs. Sure, there's not much action in this action shot, and it looks to be taken at spring training. Still, it's a pretty great card, one of the favorites in my collection.

One of the other favorite cards in my collection is this one:

Here's my first and only game-used Cal card: 2001 Fleer Platinum National Patch Time. The word play is clever, but I don't quite understand why there aren't any patches on these cards. It seems like if they're going to call the set "Patch" Time, there should be some patches. Perhaps it should have been National Pants Time. Not as catchy?

I don't mean to complain. This is a great card, which I snagged off Ebay for a little less than $5.00 shipped. I like the black of the jersey and the way you can see the texture of the stretched fabric with the white in the background. And, since it's black, I know this isn't a piece of pants. I guess it can't be National Pants Time, then.

These two cards put me two-thirds away from having a trifecta of the Iron Man. Now I just need an auto. Anyone have a double they want to trade? Yeah right. I guess I'll just have to send little sister back to the bay. Or perhaps I'll try a TTM auto, which I've never done. Does anyone know where to send Ripken auto requests? I hear Cal's great about signing.

By the way, I just hit my first milestone as a blogger. This is my fiftieth post.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Trade Fodder: Autos

It's about time for another trade bait post. If you see anything you like, send me an email, and we'll get some cards circulating through the post office.

2010 Bowman Platinum Prospects Logan Schafer auto.

2002 Studio Eric Good auto.

2009 Bowman Major League Scouts Fred Repke auto. He works for the Rays, I guess. This was one of those hits that just piss you off, an auto of a scout. Maybe it will make a Rays fan happy.

2000 Skybox Matt Riley auto.

2008 Timeline 1995 SP Top Prospects Jeff Keppinger auto.

2007 Bowman Signs of the Future Ben Fritz.

2006 Topps '52 Tom Mastny auto.

2007 Bowman Signs of the Future Shane Komine.

Let me know if you're interested. Check out my want lists at the top of the page, or the trade bait page for more stuff up for trade.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hambone, The Gerbil, and a Hank at the Flea Market

My wife and I took a drive to a flea market a few weeks ago. I didn't expect to find much in the way of cards. Usually, I encounter the kind of flea markets selling used table saws and broken crock pots. This flea market actually had two dealers selling cards. One of them, that I didn't make many purchases from, had a binder full of in-person autos of minor league players for a couple bucks a pop. No thanks. He also had about thirty CSAs from some football player, that were obviously heisted from the factory, as the numbers on the hologram sticker all went in a row. Again, that's a pass for me.

The other dealer had a nice dollar box, though, which I found a few things in.

I'm pretty sure I already have this card, but it's Hambone and it's from my favorite set and it's a short print. I'm not a big fan of SPs, and '07 Bowman Heritage had the ridiculous plan of paralleling their short prints. The SPs don't have the manu-signature, and I guess that makes them hard to identify. I've found quite a few of these in dime boxes. Besides the obvious reasons to pick up this card, it's simply another great example from this set. Something about Hammy's pose reeks of old-timeyness, but the tattoo sleeve gives it an odd anachronism. And the expression on Hambone's face is just so awkward: Is it surprise? Joy? Some bad shrimp?

I also snagged some vintage for a dollar:

A card of The Gerbil from 1963. Really, The Gerbil? How does one stumble upon such a nickname? Is it the cheeks? Perfect apple cheeks are hard to acquire. Just ask Orr. Catch 22, anyone?

And finally, my favorite flea market pick up:

This is my first 1956 Topps card, and I have to say this is a great looking set. That play at the plate in the background is fantastic. And though I'm far from a Yankees fan, I was happy to snag an all-star from this set. Never mind the rat bight in the lower lefthand corner. Or maybe it's a gerbil bight.

Here's the back, because vintage Topps backs are awesome:

Ouch, it looks like pitching was painful for cartoon Hank. No wonder hitting is more fun.

A pleasant surprise of dollar box goodness at the flea-fest.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

1952 Bowman on the Cheap

For today's trip down vintage Bowman lane, we're visiting 1952. I dug both of these cards up at my LCS, which more properly stands for local comic store, or better yet, local magic card store. I pointed the store out to one of my friends once--a guy whose spent a fair amount of time playing Magic and WOW--and he said, "I bet there's a lot of neck beards in there." Oh, yes. Neck beards galore as they gather over their Mountain Dews to play Warhammer in the back of the room. Don't get me wrong. I'm not picking on the neck bearders. I'm a grown man drooling over boxes of vintage. Sometimes I ask to see the box of 1953 Bowman just to gaze at the sweet Pee Wee Reese card. And if it wasn't for the neck bearders, few local card stores would even still be able to exist.

Anyway, back to the cards. Here's the first one:

Virgil Stallcup didn't have much of a career, with only 7 inglorious seasons in the majors. But it's not the player that makes these cards, at least not for me. I love the '52 design, which I believe the '07 Bowman Heritage set is modeled after.  I find the stands to be the most interesting thing here. We get a little bit of the crowd in full color, but even better is the black silhouette in the background of the higher seats. There's something ominous about those shadowed spectators, and the black struts and girders give the card an industrial feel.

Here's the next piece of 1952:

When I pick these cards up, the main criterion is price, because I'm cheap. Both of these were $1.50 a piece, and I always know I'm not snagging any hall of famers with that sad budget. And part of the joy in picking up these cards is finding out about an obscure player from the '50s. Jim Delsing had a modest career with 10 seasons of nothing too special. What I didn't realize, however, was that Delsing played 5 seasons with the Tigers. That makes this card better.

Once again, the 1952 design is so great with the cloud background and the halide lights in the bottom corner (were they using halides in 1952?). The thick black outlines around Delsing really stand out on this card, which was another feature of the '52 design. The manu-autograph is well-placed across the jersey. And that's another thing I love about this design: that the signatures aren't all in one place, but wherever they look best. I almost wonder if the players actually decided where the signatures would go.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Farewell to a Legend, Jim Northrup

I'm a little bit late on this, but I wanted to express my condolences to the family of Jim Northrup. Jim passed away on June 8th, and he will be missed. He was a legend to Tigers fans.

The Silver Fox spent the vast majority of his career playing with the Tigers. 11 impressive seasons with the Tigers, including 1968, when he played in the World Series. He hit 5 grand slams that year. One of those came in the WS, and two of the other grand slams were in consecutive at-bats. That kind of power hitting is the dream of any fan. And Jim made dreams come true for a city that desperately needed them.

In 1967, Detroit saw one of the worst riots in American history. But the city came together for the Tigers, following every pitch, every swing. It gave them a common bond, something to hope for. I wasn't alive for any of this, but I know the history. And I think of all the ridiculous riots that happen when big sports games are lost or even won, yet here was a victory that helped heal unrest and bring people together. Detroit isn't rioting now. Hell, there's hardly anyone even left in Detroit these days. Last year, I'd heard the average selling price of a house was under $20,000. It's sad to see such a wonderful city with such a rich history floundering like this. Remembering the 1968 Tigers and legends like Northrup can remind us that if we find a common bond and a little hope than we can overcome anything. Now I'm getting a little cheesy, but I can't help it. I believe in Detroit and in the magic of baseball. And Northrup is a perfect example of everything that makes this game fantastic.

Even a terrible miscut can't keep the legend of Jim down. His silver hair and pointing bat make any card cool. Did you notice, by the way, that Northrup is pointing the bat at the camera in all of the cards I've posted so far. It's a great pose, and one a power-hitter like Jim deserves to own many times over. I just think it's kind of funny he went for the 3D bat pose every time. Also, the tractor in the background of the 1972 card gives this a blue-collar agricultural feel, which is perfect for Jim, whether he intended it or not.

Jim was born in Breckenridge, Michigan, a town that's pretty much all farms and silos, and it's about 10 minutes away from where I grew up. He went to St. Louis High School, the neighboring town to my home town, and attended Alma College, which is housed in my home town. So, of course, that makes me an even bigger fan of Jim, being the only MLB player to come from so close to Alma. There are plenty of echoes of Jim around Alma, and I'm sure there will continue to be for years to come. He inspired many of us Michiganders and will live on in memory.

I'll end this post with his rookie card, with the young Jim who started off an amazing career.

Thanks, Jim, for giving us hope, for healing a city, for swinging that bat. You'll be missed.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Thy Contest Is Argyle

Head on over to a great blog to follow Plaschke, Thy Sweater Is Argyle and enter his first contest. He has some cool vintage up for grabs. Go check it out.

That is all.