Wednesday, October 26, 2011

2011 Topps Update: 2 Packs and Some Cognac

I usually wait until packs are old and discounted, but I dig me some Topps Update, so I splurged and picked up two packs.

Here's what was in the first one:

As you can see, this pack had diamonds galore. Is it common to pull three in one hobby pack? The Padres card is a Hope shiny, numbered to 60. The other two--Bourgeois and Sweeney--are of the Liquorfactor variety. There were two more cards in this pack, but my scanner only holds 8 cards and no more. So, too bad for the last two.

Here's the second pack:

Nothing too special in this part of the pack. The James Russell Gold just doesn't seem as cool now that we have Hope and Cognac and such--oh my. Plus, the numbering just isn't as exciting when it's in dull black ink rather than gold stamped.

And the rest of the second pack:

I was most happy to pull this Al Albequerque rookie. This kid has a crazy slider, but then again, so did Bonderman. So we'll just have to see what happens with Al, whose name sounds too absurd to be real. I immediately cashed in my first code of the year--that's right, my first, sadly. And my haste was swiftly rewarded with a 1978 Amos Otis. Ouch.

If you're interested in trading for any of the cards besides the Tigers rookies, let me know.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Card Show's Last Dance: Bowman Tigery Goodness

Most of what I posted from the card show came from one dealer, and this last post is the high-end cards I bought. Warning: high end for me is a couple bucks. Nothing here that cost more than a Lincoln, but all great buys, and all vintage.

Here's a vintage rookie of a fantastic catcher that I never thought I'd own. This one was a steal, and a mini at that. The pictures are a bit blurry, and the centering is a bit off, but overall this Carter rookie is in great shape.

My LCS has a ton of cheap vintage Bowman, but never any Tigers, so I was happy to find this. They're in great shape, too: bright color, no severe creases, and all Tiger. This card came at the end of a long career for Hank. He played 10 seasons for the Yankees, and won them a bunch of games. Only three wins as a Tiger.

Another Tigers pitcher from 1951 Bowman. Ted Gray didn't have the career Borowy did, but he played for the Tigers longer. Another great-looking vintage Bowman card for very cheap.

Here's my favorite vintage pick-up of the card show. Here we have vintage Bowman, a Tigers player, and a catcher in gear--that hits three of my favorite collection criterion. It's just a great pose, too, Matt pulling his mask, gazing at a pop-up. And I dig the perspective of the picture, with so much of the chest guard featured. Matt Batts only played 2 and a fraction of a third season with the Tigers. Not a long-term Tiger, but he makes for an awesome player pick-up from a favorite vintage set.

Twins team card, why would I pick this one up? Well, because it was combined in a penny sleeve as a discounted pair of non-mint vintage with this one:

Now there's a great card, and it's even in better shape than the Twins card. I didn't have this Kaline yet, and it was a much-needed pick-up.

That does it for the South Haven card show. There's another one coming up in November, and I'll be there. I just hope the dealer I bought so many cards from shows up again.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Vintage Weirdness from the Card Show: What the Hell Are They Doing to that Baby?

Of all the cards I picked up at the last show, there were two very oddball vintage ones that were quite interesting. Both are non-baseball, non-sports, but they both came out of mid-range priced boxes, so I couldn't suppress the novelty of owning at least one of each of these.

Please excuse the terrible scanning. I know I cut off a chunk of the card, but I'm too lazy to rescan. What we have here is a Helmar card from their State Seals and Coats of Arms set. I guess there were 150 cards in this set, featuring US states and other countries of the world. So why did I pick Delaware? Well, there wasn't a Michigan or Ohio or anywhere Midwest. And this one was cheaper due to some creasing. Oh yeah, and there's a farmer hanging out with a conquistador or pilgrim or something.

Here's the back:

So we find out these were tobacco cards. No year on the back, but I wouldn't expect it on these. I found out more about this set here, if you're interested. Apparently, these were issued in 1910, so that makes this the oldest scrap of cardboard I own. I notice from the site I link above that my card has an extra stamp: "Packer no. 270" at the top. Not sure what to make of this. I'm wondering if this was stamped by the manufacturer or maybe a local distributor or just a bit of character. The dealer who sold this had a bunch more of these, and now I wish I would've picked up a few more.

Here's the even weirder bit of vintage:

The dealer also had a bunch of these, and I'm regretting even more that I didn't pick up more of these. They're just so weird. But I think I snagged the creepiest one. The dude's mustache, both of their smirks, the tight clutches on elbow and baby neck, and those staring green eyes--creepy. Creepy is good. That baby, though, what the hell are they doing to that baby? It's completely wrapped up, making it all the scarier. Are these serial baby killers? Nope, it's just a shot from 1935 cinema.

I blew this up so you can read the back, if interested. I almost like the front better completely without context. Anyway, this is part of a Gallaher set from 1935. The cards are standard tobacco size, or close to it--the size of a Ginter mini. There were 48 cards in the set, and I think the dealer had about a dozen more, all around a dollar or fifty cents. What do you think? Should I have picked up more?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What Can You Get for Two Quarters at the Card Show?

Moving up the ranks from those silly, paltry nickel and dime boxes, today we'll be checking out what kind of sophisticated cardboard one can find for half a dollar.

First up:

One of the most iconic '80s Topps rookies, for fifty cents! What? It has some discoloring along the right side, but still a steal. I already have one of these, but I can't pass up a deal like that.

Or a deal like this. The Boggster was a favorite from my childhood, and here's another iconic '80s rookie. There's a bit of a crease on the bottom, but still worth two quarters. It's funny that I see these rookies all the time for a few bucks but never really see discounted flawed ones. Seems like once the '80s hit, everyone stopped putting their cards in the bicycle spokes. 

Here's a very non-iconic minor league card: 1986 Southern League All-Star Tom Glavine. This one was just obscure enough to snag up. Love Glavine's awkward smirk here. He was still growing into his pitcher's face.

This is kind of a rookie, maybe. Despite every other 2006 brand slapping the new rookie logo all over Verlander, who had been included in most brands the year before, for some reason Bazooka took the high road. Classy, and blue.

Actually, only the Brooks and Gibson cards were 50 cents. The rest were dime and quarter fodder. The Rose was a nickel, seriously. Under two dollars for all of this sweet vintage here. I especially dig the Tiant Deckle Edge and the 3D Boog. And who had the restraint not to scratch Yount?

Let's round things out with an actual card I picked up for 50 cents:

Sweet, sweet '75 mini Fisk. Now that's a find. He's one of those players I've always considered collecting. You know, the other Pudge. Blasphemy?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Moseying through the Card Show, Combing through the Cheap Boxes

I'm finally getting to the card show I attended a month or so back, in South Haven, MI. All you eastern Michiganders might have your Gibralter shows on me, but these South Haven shows are some of the best I've gone to. There was one dealer whose tables I spent the majority of my time at. He had about ten tables with descending rows of $5 boxes all the way down to nickel boxes. Sounds like a great way to spend hours combing through a labyrinthine tome of cards, right? I'll start off the posting with what I found in his nickel to quarter boxes, which are always the most fun, I think. They're where we find the best discount treasures.

I think this one was in the quarter box, and I can never turn these down for a quarter, especially when it's Joe Torre.

The 1969 Aparicio might have been 50 cents, but the other two were a nickel. The Rollie card is just too cool. His moustache looks nobler than ever in the Diamond King style. I'd been needing that Fernando rookie for a while, and this one's in good shape for a nickel. The photo is a bit blurry, but I can't complain.

These were all in the nickel, dime, quarter range. It seems funny for me to find an on-card auto in the cheap boxes, but I keep running into these Classic autos for super cheap and just can't turn them down. Karim is a minor league Dodger in this card, so maybe someone will be interested. The Morgan RC is a short print, I think, and encased in woodgrain, so that's always cool. The Wakefield RC, though, I was most excited about finding. He may never be a hall-of-famer, but he's one of those players that baseball history will always remember.

Here's the weirdest thing I found in the cheap boxes. Is this a Lineage '75 parallel? No, sir. It appears to be one of those oddball brands working without license in the early '90s. I couldn't find any information on this card, but who doesn't love 1975 designs? This card is just begging to be sued.

Here's the back:

Nothing to identify this card back here. I guess this would make it a 1991 issue, but nothing else to mark this.

That's it for now. Tomorrow, I'll do the fifty cent boxes, which had some pretty great stuff.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Two Tigers and a Tiger

I woke up today to gray skies and a mild hangover, and that's all fitting. The Tigers are out, in an embarrassing blow-out loss. And Harpukkah's done. It was really fun working on that series. Nice to have a direction for posting. (If you didn't check out the 8 days of Harpukkah, scroll down, man!)

Now, I'm wandering aimlessly. I have stuff to post, but the anticlimactic conclusion of the holidays and the Tigers loss have put in a posting funk.

What can cheer me up?

Loooouuuu! Thanks, Lou. I needed that. This card was a top need on my want lists for a long time. I picked this up off of eBay a few months ago. Lord knows I'd never want to try to pick this card up at a Michigan card shop or show, where it would sell for more than book price. Michigan still has the hots for Lou.

Lou needs a friend, though.

The duo is complete. Tram and Lou reuniting makes me feel a bit better about not seeing the Tigers again until spring.

I was saving this scan for when the Tigers made it to the WS, but I guess now is as good a time as any. Here's comes awesome:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bryce Harpukkah: The Best for Last, Vintage Awesomeness

When I decided to spend my Bryce Harper eBay sales in eight days, I knew I wanted to blow some of it on one really nice vintage card. Sure, I picked up some '50 Bowman, '56 Topps, some '49 Leaf, and even a much-loved Diamond Star. They're all awesome cards and each one worth a Harper to me. But what I didn't nab was a Tigers star. And who better to go for than Mr. Tiger himself. I knew I wasn't getting his 1954 card, no matter the condition, but I aimed high and took my time, and lucked into this.

Damn, that's a sweet card. 1955 Topps, his second year and my second-favorite Topps set. It's a little rough, but really, besides the corners, in pretty great condition. The price: a tad over $10 shipped, which is the most I've ever spent on a single card, since I'm such a penny-pincher. I was honestly surprised to get it for that.

Let's relish some of the more savory parts of the card.

Ah, the old Tigers' tiger logo. He sure had some crab-apple cheeks. I also find Kaline's mini action-shot face to look a little odd. It doesn't really look like Kaline, but maybe that's just the side profile.

Here's some sweet Kaline toonage:

You'll notice the pretty terrible corner, the worst on the card. I fixed it a bit by pushing that corner back, and now it looks better. Looks like someone had jammed it into a sleeve a few too many times.

As far as the toon: Oh, that Zane Grey, musing on the playing field. Pretty goofy and random cartoon here. But Zane Grey was pretty legendary at this time. Now, I'd never heard of this writer, and I'm working on a PhD in literature. Should I blame the obscurity of the reference or ask for all those years I've spent in lit classes back? Maybe neither. Grey would have been huge in the '50s, having written many Western that were made into movies. But it just goes to show how 60 years can easily forget a genre writer. That's where your Stephenie Meyers and Dan Browns go. But I think Zane Grey was a little cooler. He was at least influenced by Owen Wister's novel The Virginian, which I just read, and is often credited as the first Western novel that started the genre. Anyway, still an odd cartoon to end up on the back of a Kaline card.

Here's the full back:

The back of the card notes his "bonus baby" status, how "scouts flocked to his door to sign him" after high school graduation. Sound familiar?

Thus the cycle is complete. We come to the close of Harpukkah, and what a fantastic holiday it was. a '56 Kaline and a slew of other great cards for a 2011 Bowman International card. How'd I do? Would you take this trade?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bryce Harpukkah: Day Seven, Bryce's Trade Bait

Up to this point, I've been showing you the goodies the Magical Dradle Fairy Bryce Harper has added to my personal collection. But I did some shopping, hoping I could get some trades going too. You know how it goes, when shopping the eBays and you see something that's such a good deal but you don't really need it and hope someone else will want it. Anyway, these are the cards I picked up hoping to trade.

2007 Bowman Heritage, Signs of Greatness: Blake Johnson. I still haven't decided if I wanted to collect this part of the 2007 Bowman Heritage set, the Signs of Greatness autos. So, this one's up for trade, but it's a card I like, if for nothing else than it's part of my favorite modern set. I know nothing about Blake Johnson, but at least he's still playing decently in the minors, unlike many others from this set.

2002 Topps Pristine Auto: Casey Kotchman. I always liked Casey, and when shopping for trade bait, one must choose cards one would be fairly happy to receive for their own Harpukkah. These are cool cards, too, of the translucent variety. What I find amusing is how small Casey signed here. There is indeed a great deal going on in this card, and so he stuck to the corner, not wanting to crowd in on any pastel bubbles.

2008 TRISTAR PROjections Auto: Clay Fuller. Clay here was part of a combined shipping deal with the Porcello card I picked up for Harpukkah. He's still with the Angels, in their AA league, so he still might have a chance at the majors. I like how he underlines his very readable signature.

2003 Bowman Auto: Jonny Gomes. This is a great-looking set, made for autographs. And I like Jonny, who, it looks like, got traded to the Nationals for some minor leaguers. He had a pretty rough 2011, but maybe some time playing with Pudge will help out.

2005 Just Auto: Nelson Cruz. This guy has been pissing me off lately, so the sooner I can trade him the better.

So, let me know if you're interested in anything. Getting a trade going would make my Harpukkah all the sweeter.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bryce Harpukkah: Day Six, Diamond Stars Are a Collector's Best Friend

Day six continues my Harpukkah spendings outside eBay. This card was also picked up at my LCS:

This is the real thing, not a reprint, not a 2010 re-envisioning, but an actual Diamond Star card of Sam Leslie. I didn't even realize my LCS had a box of these next to their vintage Bowmans which I'm always so enticed by. And I was surprised to find a few of these in my price range. This one was $6, and it's in pretty great shape. The reprints I've come across of these just don't do them justice. The colors on the real thing are bold and bright. The art deco design makes this about the coolest pre-'50s set out there. The stands in the background are a perfect example of the style. And Sam's portrait, too, is interesting. He looks shiny as a glazed ham.

Here's the back:

You see the usual pen-writing of these vintage cards from my LCS, the reason they're so cheap. Another thing I love about this set is the weird text on the back. There's very little noted about the player, minimal stats. What we find is a lesson on fielding first base. I think that's just a cool idea and obviously shows these cards were marketed to kids with lessons on how to improve their game. You just wouldn't see that kind of thing on a modern piece of cardboard.

I really new nothing about Sam Leslie when I picked up the card. It looked cool, and the Dodgers were a great franchise, but the ink noting "manager" also interested me. I was wondering if Sam's career spanned past his playing days. Apparently, he never managed. Though he did hit an inside-the-park grand slam, which just sounds impossible in today's game, and he also hit for the cycle once.

So this is a pretty sweet bit of vintage, in my book. But there's an even better vintage card to come. So, how am I doing so far? Wouldn't you take an original Diamond Star card and a bunch of other cool stuff in trade for a Harper card?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bryce Harpukkah: Day Five, Early Leaf

Just one card for today's Harpukkah gift posting:

1949 Leaf Jake Early. This is my first vintage Leaf card. And I had to stray from the bay to pick it up. This was at my LCS, which has all of these great boxes of vintage marked to about 10 percent of BV. This one cost $2.50. The set reminds me a lot of the 1949 Bowman design, but a bit more colorful and less headshot-based. Really, a pretty cool vintage design.

I love vintage cards of catchers in full gear, and Jake Early was an all-star, known for his taunting behind the plate: mimicking baseball announcers, auctioneers, and even singing, according to Wiki. He also once picked off Ted Williams at first base, which Ted said was the most embarrassing moments in his career.

Here's the back of the card:

Again, reminiscent of the Bowman design on the back. Lots of text and a free offer. Actually, this free offer sounds pretty sweet. I wonder what these big portraits looked like. I couldn't find any pictures online, but someone should send me a link if they've seen one. Also, on the back, you can see why these cards are so cheap. The person my LCS bought this vintage collection from liked to write on the cards. No problem for me. I like the character it adds, and the savings it brings.

Tomorrow just may bring some more interesting vintage.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Bryce Harpukkah: Day Four, Getting Clothes Just Got Cooler

For our fourth day of Harpukkah, we're getting clothes. Now, every kid sulks when they unwrap a present and find a pair of argyle socks or some new slacks, but Harpukkah is turning that frown upside down.

Here's a jersey from Mr. Pine Tar. I'll always believe it was dirt. Kenny's start in the 2006 World Series for the Tigers was certainly one of the highest points of an otherwise devastating series for us. Now, this is a gift of clothing that makes me smile, and it's nice to have a non-gray or white piece of fabric. This card was just over a dollar shipped on eBay.

This Joe Cronin GU card was surprisingly under $2 shipped. The fabric is scratchy and wool (I think) and would be exactly the kind of material that your Aunt Trudy would love to buy you--those terribly uncomfortable, scratchy pants you'll have to wear next time you see her. But I don't have to wear those pants, and this swatch of fabric is the coolest I've ever felt on a GU card. It's so different than the usual jersey fabric. I'm not much of a Red Sox fan, but I'm pretty excited to pick up this card of a hall-of-famer.

OK, so you can't wear socks made out of a bat, but if you could, it would be a much cooler holiday gift. Another hall-of-famer GU card off eBay for less than $2. Cool shot of Billy Williams in this card. I always liked the design of this set. It's a little monochromatic, but in a classy kind of way.

So, the fourth day brings us scraps of material touched by two hall-of-famers and an all-star. Not a bad trade just by themselves for a chrome card with some maps in the background and some hyped up minor league player in the foreground.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Break in Harpukkah to Celebrate

What's better than selling off a Bryce Harper card to buy a bunch of other sweet cards? A big Tigers win, of course.

Last Night was a nail-biter. I was pacing, grinding my teeth, pulling out hair. And there's not much hair left. That stuff is rare and precious.

But all my stressing was worth it. The Tigers pulled out a big win last night, and I'm thrilled. My wife, not so much. She said, "Oh great. Now I have to watch a bunch more games." Too bad, wifey. We're going on.

This guy was stellar last night:

Kind of funny that he doesn't look much different from his rookie year. Don't hate me, fellow Tigers fans, but, honestly, I'm not a huge Valverde fan. He's been pretty perfect in saves, but really a lot of his saves get pretty messy, involve moving runners into scoring position before ending the game. And that's cost me precious hairs. But last night, man, Valverde was awesome. Best save of the year for any team so far.

And thanks to this guy:

Mr. Utility really came through. How did Leyland know to start him? He's been great all season, but definitely an unsung hero. Leyland almost started crying at the press conference last night, got all choked up when talking about how Cabrera and V-Mart will have a million great memories, but tonight is Donnie's, and he'll remember it forever. When curmudgeony Leyland gets all wishy-washy, it's pretty hard for us Tigers fans not to do the same. I guess I should speak for myself. There's no crying in baseball!

Anyway, congrats Tigers, on beating the Yanks. Onward, boys!

Tomorrow, Bryce Harpukkah shall resume.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bryce Harpukkah: Day Three: Rookie for Rookies

As we enter the third day of Harpukkah, I thought we might consider Bryce Harper's career. Let's do so by comparing some rookies I got from selling off his rookie card. Keep in mind, I picked these up for about a tenth of the price I sold his card for.

First up:

Michael Young. Will Bryce hit over 2000 hits and have a career batting average over .300? That's quite a feat. To be fair, let's see what Young did in his first year of the minors. In 74 games he had 85 hits, 9 home runs, 58 RBIs, and a .308 average. This year, in 109 games, Bryce had 115 hits, 17 home runs, 58 RBIs, and a .297 average. Really, not too far off, and Young was only a few years older. But will Harper reach the established career Young has put together so far?

Here's another rookie I bought with my Harpukkah money:

Tony Gwynn's rookie had been sitting on my want list for a long time. No longer, thanks to Harpukkah. Now let's see how Bryce measures up to a hall-of-famer. In his first year in the minors, Tony played 65 games and had 101 hits, 16 dingers, 56 RBIs, and a crazy .375 average. Not to mention 22 stolen bases. Oh, Bryce had 26 stolen bases. Oops, I guess I sold a soon-to-be-touted future HOFer rivaling Tony Gwynn. But I'll stick with Captain Video.

Really, this is a minor league card instead of a rookie, but so was the Harper card I sold. So this is a fair comparison. Except Bryce didn't throw 72 strike outs his first year in the minors. Instead, he struck out 87 times.

Now I don't mean to spoil the spirit of Harpukkah and turn this into Bryce Hate-ukkah. I just thought a comparison would be interesting, especially since I got all of these cards for about a tenth of what I sold Bryce's card for.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bryce Harpukkah: Day Two: Walker '56 Ranger

Day two of Harpukkah brings us more gifts of vintage. The card of today's post was actually one of the last ones I picked up, trying to find a good way to spend my last couple bucks. What better way to do it then to take a walk down '56 lane:

After some straddling of the fence, leaning toward 1955, I've come to choose 1956 as my favorite year of vintage Topps. It's the fantastic background shots that really make this set. And here we have a play at the plate. It doesn't get better than that. There's an interesting slide going on here. Let's take a closer look:

I guess the runner slid past the base. But that looks like home plate at his cleats. So, he's doing some kind of wacky feet-first belly-flop maneuver, maybe? Perhaps he's just cowering, rather than charging, due to Walker '56 Ranger's ability to do some American karate.

I can't help but notice how old Walker Cooper looks in his unglamorous headshot. Turns out he was only 40 in this picture, yet he has a very grandfatherly look. Don't mean to pick on you, Walker, I'm just saying. His aged good looks don't detract from his great career a catcher: 8 all-star appearances and a career percentage of 44% in throwing out base stealers.

This card came off eBay in a free shipping auction. I mention this only because you never know exactly how they're going to ship when you get this deal. Walker came in a white envelope with one stamp, and when I opened it up, there was no top loader, cardboard, not even a penny sleeve. Gutsy mailing. But he arrived without a crease, and the card's in pretty great shape.

There's more vintage to come during Harpukkah, so stay tuned.