Monday, July 30, 2012

Card Show Show-off: Kaline, Rollie, and Ambiguous Keller

I usually start off my card show reviews with the dime boxes, but I'll flip things around this time and start with the big purchases. I went to this show a little over a month ago. It was in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a mall show, but still good despite proximity to Gap mannequins and mind-numbing muzak.

Here's my big splurge. A pretty epic Kaline get for the player collection. I'm not a hug fan of 1960 Topps and all the extreme close-up portraits, but I love this card. There's some whimsy in Kaline's eyes and an awkward half-smirk. The color design really works well here, too, the yellows against the red, the old Tigers logo pulling it all together.

Here's the back, just for fun, complete with goofy cartoon rendition of Kaline catching a fly ball. Who knew he had so little hair under his cap?

This Kaline card was marked for $6, but I talked the guy down to $5 and got him to throw in this card for free:

I just always like these combo cards from the early Topps sets, and getting this card for free made the above Kaline all the sweeter.

I also picked up some game-used for a hell of a bargain:

My Rollie Fingers collection is quite casual, but he just looks so damn cool on cards I can't turn down a good deal. I love the green jersey here, which obviously is not from a Brewers uniform. I usually hate these kind of team mash-ups, but it works for this card.

When I first started collecting, as a kid, Boggs was my guy. The reason I liked him is kind of ridiculous: his mustache looked like my uncle's facial hair. Well, that was enough for me. And now I have a little bit of jersey from Mr. Flaming Mustache Fried Chicken Eater.

I also found a great dollar box from a guy dealing almost exclusively Tigers cards. Usually in Michigan Tigers cards are way over-priced, but I found some crazy bargains.

A 2005 Verlander rookie for a buck? Yes, sir, I'll take it. Plus it's from one of my favorite mid-2000s sets, Diamond Kings. I have to say, though, that this is just a horrible portrait of Verlander. I don't think it's just because he's missing his facial hair. There's something seriously wrong with Verly's mouth.

This was in the dollar box, too, a 1950 Bowman Charlie Keller. It's in fantastic shape. I couldn't believe this card was in the dollar box, and I even dared to ask the dealer if this was a reprint or an original. He gave it a glance, said it was original, and the whole time I was worrying he'd say, Oops, that's not supposed to be in there. But, no, he sold it to me for a buck. I still can't really believe this is an original, but I can't see anything that screams reprint on it.

The size is right, the printing and color look correct. There is a weird thing going on with the five stars logo at the top right crowding into the text. Here's a comparison with a card up on COMC:

The "Charlie Keller" in red at the top also looks like it's spaced a bit different. So, what do you guys think? Reprint or the real thing? I'd greatly appreciate your sagely insights. Regardless, for a buck, it's certainly worth the gamble. Hell, I might have still paid a buck for a reprint.

So, pretty nice hits from the card show. I stayed on target pretty well, mostly picking up cards that actually fit into the collection. Next post, I'll show off those sweet cheapo boxes.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Here Comes More Trade Bait

Once again, here comes the bait. Leave a comment or send me an email if you're interested in any of these and have something I might be interested in.

Vladimir Guerrero: 2005 Fleer Tradition Standouts (jersey)

Todd Dunwoody: 1998 Donruss Signature (auto)

Ozzie Martinez: 2010 Bowman Chrome Prospects (auto)

Jim Thome: 2002 Big Leauge Challenge Materials (jersey)

Mariano Rivera: 2004 Upper Deck Headliners (jersey)

Adrian Gonzalez: 2009 SPx Flashback Fabrics (jeresy)

Billy Butler: 2008 Goudey Memorabilia (jersey)

John Smoltz: Artifacts MLB Apparel (jersey #ed /199)

Bruce Sutter: 2007 Sweet Spot Classic Memorabilia (jersey)

Luis Aparicio: 2007 Sweet Spot Classic Memorabilia (jersey)

Tim Raines: 2006 SP Legendary Cuts Memorable Moments Materials (jersey #ed /225)

Tim Hudson: 2011 Allen & Ginter Relics (jersey)

If you don't see anything you like here, you can always check out the trade bait page for more, and if you want to know what I'm looking for, take a stroll through the want lists. Thanks for looking, and for the future trades.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

When an LCS Pisses You Off, or Bargain Bins of Spite

Most local card shops I've been to are fantastic. There's a nice one in my hometown of Alma, Michigan, Cardboard Addiction, that's survived for decades because it cares about its customers, even if they mostly want Magic and Pokemon cards. There are two fine local card stores in Kalamazoo, where I live now, that have boxes of fairly priced vintage, and I can joke around with the guys that work there. One of the workers at Fanfare even met Joe Strummer once, so that ratchets that store up to a whole 'nother level.

But there's a LCS in Lansing, Michigan that I can't stand. The workers are bros, too cool for cards, and I've even heard them chatting about how they don't care about cards or appreciate collecting. Their singles are way over-priced--which is common for a mall store, and you can probably guess what mall chain I'm talking about. Last time I was in there, they had dozens or hundreds of this year's Prime Nine redemption cards in a box, and they wanted fifty cents a piece for them. I guess that's fine, but I wonder what Topps thinks about it. Should they be profiting off these cards that are meant to be redeemed? One of the LCSs in Kalamazoo gives these away after the redemption expires when you buy a pack. That sounds more honest to me.

Anyway, these guys in Lansing pissed me off, so when I found some dime boxes in the back, I was searching with discomfort, perturbed, with a mission to find some deals. I was on a mission to spite these guys by finding steals of good deals, and I think I did pretty good.

If they knew anything about cards, I imagine this Johan rookie, the Buehrle rookies, and the Vogelsong would be in their fancy mall glass cases for $159.99 a piece. But I snatched them up for a dime, thinking, Screw you, guys. Really, I might be the asshole for snatching these with spite rather than gratitude, but that's how I felt in that store.

They also had a ton of vintage that was drastically varied in being overpriced and being a bargain, but most of it was unmarked, and when I asked them what they wanted for a 1951 Bowman Granny Hamner, they went straight to their smart phones and told me they were selling on eBay for $20 or more, so they wanted $15. Not for beat-up vintage, bros. Instead, I snatched up this for 50 cents.

I also found the only other real deal in their vintage boxes for $3.99

OK, and now I'm starting to feel like a douchebag for all my griping, because this is an awesome card of Mr. Murder Irvin, hall-of-famer, Nergro League legend, first black player for the Giants. There's so much history in this card, and I love it. But, hell, I can still be pissed at the bros. The price was marked on this card; they had nothing to do with it, didn't look it up on their eBay smart phone app while having no idea who this Monte guy is. So, I'll hold onto my resentment for the LCS that doesn't even deserve this sacred initialism. More of a McDonald's of the LCSs, and I just snuck a few fillet mignons out the back for the price of a McDouble.

I know we have a lot of love for our LCSs, the good ones. But have you encountered some shops like this, that just leave you with a bad taste in your mouth? Have you hunted bargain bins with rage?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Kaline Versus Cobb: Making the Player Collection Official

So, I'm finally following up on my posts about my Cobb conflict. For many of you collectors, and especially you Dodgers guys, you don't have such worries about the questionable characters of the legends from your team. Us Tigers guys, we have Cobb to contend with. But we also have Kaline. And I'm grateful for that. This last year, I've been getting to work on my Kaline player collection, which has become somewhat respectable. And, from what I understand, Kaline was a pretty decent fellow. Let's examine the cardboard testimonials.

According to the back of his '55 Topps card, Kaline was one of those "Bonus Babies" going to the highest bidder straight out of high school. What's more dangerous than a high school kid with a huge wad of cash? But it wasn't pimp cups and  Cadillac tail fins for Kaline. This is what he did with his money:

As this 1992 Front Row cards says, Al used his $30,000 bonus and "gave it to his parents to pay off the mortgage, and to finance a much needed operation to save his mother's eye-sight." Now that's a pretty stand-up guy. I have heard that Kaline can be a grump when it comes to autos, but, hell, I think we can forgive him. At least he isn't strangling his fans like some Tigers legends.

So, to go along with this post, I'm officially breaking out the giant-sized scissors to open the Kaline player collection page. On the page I list all of the Kaline cards I currently have. If you have anything not on there, I'm interested in trading for it. I'm putting this on the right side of the blog, near the top, where I'm also now linking all my other player collections, and the lone set I'm working on, 2007 Bowman Heritage, which is finishing up at a snail's pace.

OK, back to the above Front Row card pictured above. As you likely noticed, there's a mysterious certificate of authenticity below the card. And why is that there, you ask.

Because I recently acquired my second Kaline autograph, from Carl Crawford Cards. He sent this along to even up a trade we made months ago. I sent him some Johnny Gomes autos and some other goodies, and he sent an awesome Kaline bat relic. I guess he figured that one relic wasn't enough to complete the trade, so he sent this. I was completely happy with the bat relic, but that just shows you what an awesome trader he is. But that's not all he sent this time around. He actually sent a whole slew of Kalines that he'd put in order of awesomeness, with this in the back.

Here's a few more he sent.

More autograph-grumping, stand-up guy Kaline cards.

And if a bunch of awesome modern Kalines and an auto weren't enough, some well-loved vintage.

This trade added enough weight to my Kaline player collection to be able to get the page going, so thanks, man. Awesome cards. If you have any Carl Crawfords or Johnny Gomes cards, be sure to check out Carl Crawford Cards and make him a nice trade offer.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

10,000 Contests

Well, I'm just talking about one contest, actually. All Trade Bait, All The Time just reached 10,000 hits at his blog. A great milestone, indeed. Congrats, buddy.

And he's celebrating by giving away some cards. Do I see a vintage Kaline up for grabs? I sure do. Go on over there and enter the contest.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Once a Cub on a Sushi Platter in Order <--Franken-title Trade Post

It's time to catch up on some trades, three to be exact, from some great bloggers. First up, Spiegel over at Nomo's Sushi Platter sent me some cardboard.

A gaggle of Tigers, new and old, and a giant rookie cup Ripken. The O-Pee-Chee Whitaker was a new one for me, too, and a great action shot of Lighter-Than-Air-Lou.

Layer that with some Bowman gold, and some fine Topps Heritage. All Avila's red is making Miggy's floating head smile.

Here's the meat of our trade. I already had the Lineage mini of Austin's jersey, and this bat chunk makes a nice companion. I'm a big fan of Austin, and am still a bit irked that he got the all-star snub. Not to worry, though. Austin has many all-star games to play in his future.

The other trade comes from Tom at Angels in Order.

He sent over a ton of Ripkens for the player collection. Tons of gems and these are just a few. The phone card is especially fun.

And what goes better with a bunch of Ripkens than a bunch of Pudges? This really is only a small sampling of all the cards he sent. A very generous batch that added some weight to two of my favorite player collections.

Finally, I was strolling around the blogosphere and found a newer blog, Once a Cub, which has already become prolific. Matt was posting some pick-ups from this year's Topps rips. And I took the bait.

A manu-patch-stitches-sewing-project-type-thing of the original Pudge. This is a player collection of mine still in its infancy, and this is a great addition to it.

Topps has really gone nutty in the last few years for their manu-cards, and I dig the creativity. Well, really, I could give a crap unless it's of a player I collect. This Retired Number card is sweet, because it's Rip.

Thanks for the great trades, guys. Readers, be sure to check out these blogs and see if you have some cards they want. All excellent traders.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cobb Was an Asshole, so Let's Enjoy Pee Wee

Yesterday I posted about my conflict with collecting Cobb, how I have trouble simply forgetting about Cobb as the person and just admiring the amazing way he played the game. Really, I don't know if I admire the way anyone played more than I admire Cobb's scrappy, aggressive, hustling style, but I don't know if I despise any Tiger player's off-field behavior more. It's the extreme racism, especially, that makes it hard for me to forgive and separate.

Anyway, you readers should go and check out the comments other bloggers left on yesterday's post, that offer great insight into this collecting quandary. And, Nick over at Dime Boxes wrote a truly eloquent post picking up this topic. Read it here.

A few Dodgers collectors chimed in yesterday, and to you guys, I imagine how nice it must be to have such a rich history of admirable humans playing for your team. My favorite, a man I can admire for both his playing and off-field heroics, is Pee Wee Reese.

I don't collect him extensively, but if I find his cards at a decent bargain, I snag them up, because this guy was amazing. How he embraced Jackie from the start, that took a lot of courage, but I don't think he even looked at it that way, as being brave, it was just a thing that you do, treating a human as a human, respecting a great player for being a great player. So, how can we not all love snagging cards of a guy like that where there's no conflict between on-field and off-field behavior?

Here's my newest Pee Wee acquisition. I found it in my LCS' beat-up vintage box, which they keep in the back room and I make them drag out for me each time I'm there. They don't have any prices marked, so I pull the most destroyed cards I can find and we haggle. I usually hate doing this, but they're fair and funny about it. And with this card, the guy looked up the book value, $200, and shook his head. He said he would feel bad charging me 10% or even a ten-spot on this. I said, Yeah it's pretty trimmed. He said, Trimmed? This card is hacked! He asked me for a fiver, and I said, Hell yes.

When I got this home, I showed the wife, who usually rolls her eyes at my cards, although she says she can understand vintage, even likes Diamond Stars and tobacco cards. I thought she'd dig this, but she couldn't believe I paid 5 bucks for destroyed cardboard. Creases, brutal trimming, a hole punch. I say awesome deal, because it's Pee Wee, and no one can say he didn't play the game the way it was meant to be played or that he wasn't a hell of a human being.

I envy you Dodgers fans for having fellas like Pee Wee. At least we have Kaline, maybe. More on this later.

So, would you guys pay $5 for this card? And maybe you don't have issues separating assholes from astounding careers, but how about the reverse? Are you more inclined to collect players that were good people?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ken Burns and My Cobb Conflict

My nightly routine involves a half-hour or so of Netflix before I fall asleep, and after I rewatched all the Kids in the Hall seasons, I checked out Ken Burns Baseball, which a dear friend of mine had recommended. Now this friend of mine was quite the history buff, and he could watch and enjoy a documentary on the evolution of the coatrack, so I wasn't sure about Ken Burns Baseball. But I have to say, after about two months of watching all eleven parts of the series, this is one of the best documentaries I've ever seen.

If you have Netflix streaming and you love baseball (and of course you all do) this is a must-watch. Burns tracks baseball from its earliest origins up until the early '90s. Now, many of the episodes focus a little heavy on the Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers, but it does capture an overall sense of the history with wonderful footage and specific stories. He also spends a lot of time documenting the negro leagues, which I feel like never gets enough examination. Josh Gibson's career is so amazing and tragic and hightlighted well in all its heart-breaking complexity by Burns.

One of Burns' closest player stories focuses on Ty Cobb. Kaline and the post-'60s Tigers hardly get a mention, but I can forgive it for the amazing introspection given to other facets of the game, like the reserve clause. Anyway, as for Cobb, Burns takes his time, shows the legend honestly, from both sides of his persona. He's such an asshole, mostly a terrible human being and a racist bastard. But, the way he plays, his working-class background, make things complicated for me as a collector. I find myself wondering if I want to be a fan of Cobb or not. Can I forgive his faults and chalk it up to his generation and upbringing. I'm just not sure. How do you collectors out there deal with the disgusting racism of your Cap Ansons and Enos Slaughters and so on?

So, Cobb may be a terrible person, but he was a helluva player. He exemplifies an old school scrappy style that may be missing in today's game. And this card is probably the perfect picture of terrible and awesome all wrapped up into one:

Damn it, I want to collect a player that makes cards like this, but I'm conflicted in that I can't respect Cobb's personality. Can we separate the two?

So, besides my Cobb conflict, have you seen Ken Burns Baseball yet? If so, what did you think?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Contest Loot and Voting for Greg

Before I get into my winnings, I'd like to urge you all to go help out Greg over at Plashcke, Thy Sweater is Argyle win a Koufax auto. Greg is also offering a contest to those who vote for him, so let's help him win. Vote here.

As for me and the Vealtones, we're already winners, thanks to a lucky early half of the summer. We won not one, but two contests. First we nabbed all of the hits from the 2010 Upper Deck box break over at It’s Like Having My Own Card Shop:

A GU from Mr. Almost Perfect and Adrian Gonzo, plus a sweet-looking auto of Anibal. Thanks for the contest, Dan.
The other contest we won was a third-place finish from CaptKirk 42's Trading Card Blog. This was part of his Random Act of Cardness contest. And all I knew was that I was getting some cards of the team I collect, Tigers. The cards that arrived certainly didn’t feel like a third-place win.

Love those '72s, especially the leader cards.

More very cool vintage and a modern insert. I love all the Tigers scribbles on the '74 card, and that's an iconic Cash card I didn't have. So, is this feeling like a third-place prize yet? Already pretty top-notch, right? Well, this is just the start.

How about an on-card auto for a third-place win. Even if Perry hasn't lived up to his potential for the Tigers, this card is so cool.

And finally a very low-numbered Tigers card. This is now the lowest numbered card that I own. 4/5, that's crazy low, and certainly makes me feel like I won first place. Awesome bundle of cards. The Random Act of Cardness was a randomly kind surprise.
Thanks, guys, for the great winnings.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Play at the Plate Dips into the Personal Stash

We all know Brian over at Play at the Plate, who runs one of the best blogs around and is about as generous as it gets with contests. I'd been hoping to trade with him for a while--I love me a detailed want list to scour through. We finally got a trade going, and Brian dug deep into his pockets full of cardboard and sacrificed some cards that were probably a little hard for him to part with.

My first graded card ever and this is now a cornerstone card of the Pudge rookie collection. A grade of 9 at that. I believe it lost a point because of the dirt on Pudge's pants. I still am so surprised that Brian could let this one go. It couldn't have been easy. I know he likes catchers in gear, and this is probably the coolest looking Pudge rookie card.

I imagine this Scherzer mini was a little easier for Brian to part with.

Some more great cards that will find a good home with the Vealtones. I really dig the Heroes card here. You can't really come up with more star power on one card than this card contains. And this is my first Elite Extra Edition. I'm none-too-blown-away by this set, but it's a Verlander, so it's a cool card.

Now that's a damn sweet card--a woodgrain Kaline that actually fits into a regular 9-pocket page. I didn't even know Bowman Heritage reprinted this card. And that's certainly a card worth reprinting.

To wrap up the trade, here's a hunk of Pudge bat. Another card I can't believe Brian could part with. Could he possibly have had a double of this? Instead, I'm guessing this is just another example of how generous Brian is. Ovation had a really classy design with this card. Not sure what's up with all the green, but I like it. I like it all. This was a great trade, and I hope Brian enjoys what I sent as much as I enjoyed these cards. Thanks for the great trade.