Monday, April 22, 2019


I currently have north of 80 binders scattered around my room, which makes it hard to believe there was ever a time it all started from zero.

At some point, I had to sit down and decide that collecting baseball cards was something I wanted to do. The hobby was never thrust on me: sadly, I never did get to inherit the collection of my dad's '70s youth. His cards, as the common tale goes, were all either given away or thrown out. Thus, a generation later, I was left to launch my own collection from scratch.

While I've since acquired most of what my dad once had, I've always wished I could've inherited his old cards -- at the very least, it would've been nice having the five or six '75 Bretts my dad said he owned as a kid.

But just because my dad's cards ended up in sad landfills doesn't mean I don't get to inherit cards.

Just recently I received a package from my buddy Alex of the newly revived "Chavez Ravining" blog. Alex is just getting back into both blogging and collecting after a brief hiatus, but from what he tells me, he's trimming things down a bit. For one, he's decided to nix his Matt Kemp collection -- a hefty portion of which he generously passed down to me. While I enjoy the "42" prism parallel (made even better by the fact that it features a Dodger) and these memorabilia pieces, I doubt I would've chased these cards for my own Kemp collection.

But there's something about inheriting them from Alex -- someone who once bought, loved, and cherished these very cards -- that in turn adds an inherent beauty as they now sit in my binders.

I mean, it's not every day someone sends you a Sweet Spot autograph, right?

I have a couple of these from my auto-collecting days, but I probably haven't added a new Sweet Spot  to my binders in about a decade, if I had to guess -- and just like that, my Matt Kemp collection got that much spiffier.

I suppose every trade is an inheritance in a way: my collection is absorbing cards once owned by others.

Hard to go wrong sending me numbered Beltres and mini-collection Kershaws (note the Brooklyn "B" cap).

I'm proud of myself: 2018 was the first time I didn't buy any Topps Holiday stuff.

It's just as well, since Alex sent me about a blaster's worth of 'em anyways -- and pretty much all of dudes I collect!

I knew I needed the Dawson here: it came straight from my 2018 A&G wantlist.

The photo-SP Goldy, on the other hand, is the far more exciting example of a card that lived deep in the wilderness, so deep that I didn't even know I needed it in the first place.

Alex dropped a second package on me not long after that first one -- this one, again, contained a portion of my Matt Kemp inheritance with that GQ parallel (which looks about a thousand times better than the base card).

I come from a family of White Sox fans, and yet my allegiances lie with the North Siders.

I'm not quite sure how that happened, but I know I'm happy to inherit pretty much any unwanted Cubs from Sox fans or otherwise.

I still like Topps Fire despite its repeated attempts to burn my corneas.

I'm wondering how sales were for 2019 Topps, because my remaining Flagship needs don't seem to be flooding in nearly as quickly as they did via trades, card shows, etc. in years past.

Thankfully Alex helped me cross these four off my still-large want list (also: Vlad!).

In closing, I'd just like to say: CONCESSION DUDE!

I'm working on the World's Dudes set, albeit at a snail's pace -- I'd be surprised if I'm more than a quarter of the way through the thing by now. Sure, I might be my dad's age when I finally accumulate all 50 Dudes, but mark my words: I will complete it!

Maybe by then I'll have someone to pass it all down to.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The (Second) Dime Box Frankenset, Page 46: Numbers 406-414

Frankenset Page #72 WINNER -- 1973 Topps #645 Bob Locker (19 votes)

This was a drubbing in every sense of the word.

Not surprisingly, Bob Locker (and his trusty Topps airbrusher) massacred the competition, taking 19 of the 33 total votes to cruise to an easy win. While every card from last week's page earned at least one vote, only one of the others got more than two tallies (Fausto Cruz with five). Locker led from start to finish.

And thus yet another gem from '73 Topps becomes immortalized in the Gallery of Frankenset Champions.

As decreed by the Random Number Generator, we'll be taking a look at Page 46 (#s 406-414) of the frankenset this week.

Hopefully the polls will be a bit closer this time, but for now, let's meet our nominees.

1971 Topps #406 Ray Sadecki

Awesome action from '71 Topps. 

2000 Pacific #407 Miguel Cairo

Double dipping with a Joe Girardi cameo. 

1994 Collector's Choice #408 Scott Hemond

Not the greatest bunting form, if you ask me. 

 2002 Fleer #409 Rey Ordonez

Throwing it back to the New York Cubans of the Negro Leagues.

1991 Upper Deck #410 Bruce Ruffin

Career .081 hitter Bruce Ruffin trying and failing to look imposing with a bat. 

 1998 Ultra Gold Medallion #411G Jose Vizcaino

A man and his tools (also please somebody help me find the base version of this card!).

 1993 Topps #412 Jamie McAndrew

Jamie McAndrew holds the wood.

1970 Topps #413 Sonny Jackson

O the indignity of being asked to bunt on your own baseball card. 

1995 Donruss #414 Jody Reed

Has there ever been a more PO'ed dude on a baseball card?

That's it for this week's page. The polls are now on the sidebar.

Happy voting!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Japan by proxy

In my 27 years of life on this planet, I've never once traveled outside the US of A.

The desire to travel doesn't burn inside of me as much as it seems to with others (nor do I have the bank account to seriously entertain such thoughts), but I still daydream about it from time to time. I'd love to see Italy one day -- it's where much of my heritage lies and I still have family there. But for now I don't mind watching the world through my Midwestern window.

I hear a lot about people traveling to Japan and loving it. It's not high on my dream list, but I do have this fantasy of being rich and going to Japan just to frequent its card shops. In the meantime, though, I have a proxy shopper right here in the blogosphere who did just that for me recently. By now you've probably guessed who that is: none other than the great Zippy Zappy of "Torren' Up Cards" fame.

If nothing else, I think the combination of beautiful girl & baseball pack wrappers in this photo gave it away.

For now, I'll just show the baseball stuff and leave the cards of scantily-clad women up to your own imagination.

The Japanese baseball wrappers from the top photo weren't actually sealed packs -- instead Mr. Zappy cobbled them into makeshift repacks with gobs of gems stuffed inside.

Only Zippy Zappy can make fairly standard American cards feel like oddballs in a trade package...

...because from what I understand, almost everything else he sent came straight from a recent trip of his to Japan (a few of the cards were even in penny sleeves with the original price tag in Yen on the front).

True, these may look like your standard Topps fare...

...but a quick flip reveals them to actually be fantastic Kanebo oddballs of a couple top-tier dudes I collect.

Good luck finding these in America.

One reason I love Japanese cards is that they fascinate me even if I don't know who the guys on them are (which is most of the time).

That top card almost broke my brain because it features a picture of a game-used shard of bat rather than an actual game-used shard of bat(?).

Oh wow, Japanese mini-collection hits!

All cool, of course, but my favorite of the lot has to be that tip of the cap shot of one time Dragons manager Wally Yonamine which, if I'm remembering what Mr. Zappy described in a recent post, hails from a Japan-issued Pepsi set from the '70s.

This is A WHOLE PAGE OF MUNI, and perhaps even scarier is the fact that these are only about half of the ones Mr. Zappy sent me in total.

Muni double dip, Muni , Muni sliding across three different cards, Muni rookie card: it's all here.

I doubt I've ever mentioned it on the blog, but Aaron Guiel is actually one of those obscure dudes I kinda collect, so I was thrilled to receive a card of his days as a gaijin with the Yakult Swallows.

Oh and did I mention there were also Japanese stuff of Yu Darvish and Sadaharu Oh in here?!

Picking a favorite card out of a jam-packed batch like this one is tough, but for now I'll say it's this magnificent Julio Franco here.

For one thing, it's Julio Franco, a guy I've collected for as long as I've worshiped baseball cards. I often have a tough time finding cards of his...and needless to say this is my first Japanese card of his. That's especially noteworthy since I didn't even know he played in Japan until right now (though I did know of his time in Mexico and Korea). Franco spent 1995 and '98 with Chiba Lotte of the NPB in between MLB stints. He'd famously go on to play forever and retire at the age of 176 (actually 49, but it felt like a lot older watching him as a teenage baseball fan).

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd own these Japanese gems that all came within a single Zippy Zapping -- all I can say is somebody needs to get me on a plane and into a Japanese card shop right now.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The (Second) Dime Box Frankenset, Page 72: Numbers 640-648

Frankenset Page #48 WINNER -- 1992 Stadium Club #430 Howard Johnson (8 votes + tie-breaking vote) 

In what seems to be a regular occurrence in this frankenset lately, last week's page ended in yet another tie!

Both Howard Johnson and Otis Nixon went neck-and-neck in the polls, earning eight votes a piece (of 33 total). As usual, the standard tiebreaking protocol applies: I ask the first five people who care to comment on this post to leave their choice between HoJo and Otis. The first card to receive three of those five tiebreaking votes will be the winner.

I'll edit this post once we have a decision.

EDIT: Johnson wins! 

In the meantime, here's a look at our latest page, a super high-number as decreed by the Random Number Generator -- Page 72 (#s 640-648) is on display this week.

This is, sadly, one of the remaining few pages I have yet to complete -- the lack of a good candidate for the #640 slot as of this writing means we'll only have eight nominees here, so let's meet them.

1996 Collector's Choice #641 Fausto Cruz

So close, yet so far. 

2013 Topps #642 Austin Jackson


2014 Topps #643 Alex Guerrero

Double dipping, Failed Prospects Edition. 

2018 Topps #644 Carlos Perez

Carlos Perez sure has some great cards for a fairly obscure backup catcher.

1973 Topps #645 Bob Locker

Airbrushing, circa 1973 (note the grainy, oddly-placed "C" over the heart of the center fielder as well). 

1992 Score #646 Juan Bell

An out-of-frame double dip experience.

1990 Upper Deck #647 Mark Langston

This is basically a blueprint of how not to make an interview card (way too zoomed-in photo, logo almost covering the mic, etc.) -- but it's an interview card nonetheless.

1982 Donruss #648 Tommy Davis

This frankensetter brought to you by '82 Donruss: Making coaches feel like players once again (with their own baseball cards and everything!).

That's it for this week's page. The polls are now on the sidebar, and don't forget to help break last week's tie!

Happy voting!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Shut up and take my money! (another card show report)

Here's a question I often ask myself, especially around card show time: am I insecure about how much I spend on baseball cards?

In reality, I know it's not much of an issue. My current job barely pays over minimum wage, but still, what I spend at one card show is what some collectors spend almost daily. But while I never feel bad after a day of big spending (for me, anyways) at the show, I do sometimes wonder: should I have put that money away? Should I have saved it for something else? Should I have put it towards more "adult" things, like groceries or future-apartment savings?

Perhaps all hobbies carry this second-guessing of the self from time to time. In my favor, I've never spent money I didn't have on cards -- I only do it when I have a bit of extra padding in the bank account. I guess it's just been on my mind lately because Dad and I recently went to two shows on two consecutive weekends -- following up that epic Village Hall extravaganza was our traditional trip to the giant tri-annual Convention Hall show a couple Saturdays ago.

And as I found, I decided boosting my savings could wait...especially if it meant I got to buy cards of a dude posing with a giant raptor!


One of the prime vendors at this latest show was a guy whose table looked vaguely like something out of a hoarder's basement. Cards and sets and packs and all kindsa miscellany just strewn around everywhere. And whether you were buying just a single card or a whole set (and about 90 percent of what he had were sealed oddball sets), everything was 50 cents a pop.

Because the card on top showed a guy with a raptor, I had a pretty good feeling that the rest of the shots from this Ogden Raptors team set would be the same. And I was right! I had no clue this kind of thing existed. None of the players featured in the set ever made it to the bigs (they were a Rookie League team), but that doesn't diminish its beauty.

Behind maybe the Mall Cards of Spokane lore, this might be the greatest minor league set ever.

Really this whole table was an absolute minefield of oddballs you almost never see anywhere.

Whole set of Star Hershisers: 50 cents. CMC All-Stars set (with quite a few future stars like Larry Walker & others): 50 cents. Kahn's Mets stadium giveaway set: 50 cents! The list goes on and on.

I may get insecure about my card show spending sometimes, but I should also be proud of myself for not spending more than I very well could have at tables like this one.

Somewhat of a disappointment (but more of a surprise than anything) was the fact that I saw almost zero singles from 2019 sets in the whole convention hall -- boxes and cases, sure, but barely any singles.

Thankfully, I'd already taken care of most of my Heritage needs at the preceding Village Hall show the week before. I should note that one guy did have some Heritage: decade-old Heritage, that is, which was probably more fun to dig through than anything from 2019 just because it reminded me that things have indeed changed since my earlier days of baseball-card collecting.

Manager cards don't exist anymore, and coach cards may as well have existed in another universe altogether: I mostly ignored those coach triads from 2009 Heritage (probably because they're SPs), but that's my first Cubs card of Alan Trammell and Larry Rothschild and Matt Sinatro, all in one swoop.

That same vendor with the Heritage also had a fat stack of Fan Favorites in his dime box, which I don't think I need to elaborate on how awesome that was.

Oddballs remain supreme in my card show experience -- the Reggie was a whole dollar (and totally worth it), and everything else here was a scant dime.

Dime box finds of main player collection dudes, including a rare sighting of Rod Beck with the Red Sox.

Nothing like a card show to remind me there's still a whole lot of mini-collection stuff I need floating out there in the wilderness.

More mini-collection hits from the dime boxes, including a fine shot of Jim Thome going ass-over-teakettle that I'd somehow never seen before.

This blog may not be called Quarter Boxes, but those can be fun too!

Finding a Heritage Rizzo SP for laundry change is pretty much unheard of around here, and hey, I even plucked an autograph of a semi-obscure guy I collect in Terrence Long out of the quarter stacks.

Listen, O card show vendors, you can't throw oddballs like these (especially not a NEW HOYT!) at me for a quarter each and not expect me to bite.

More fun stuff from the dime boxes, including a Reddick from a whole stack of singles from the online-only Turkey Red years I found at one vendor's table -- quite a sight considering you could count the number of ones I previously owned on one hand.

One guy had a selection of Dime Box Shiny to end all Dime Box Shiny -- refractors, numbered cards, and just general bright colors galore (including the first Legend SP diamond parallel I've ever found for a dime with that magnificent Blyleven).

I'm pretty sure this was a quarter box at one point, since a lot of the vendor's other dime boxes were kinda unspectacular -- my budget is eternally thankful for markdown boxes like these.

Here's a few new chapters for my continuing saga of Things I Shouldn't Find in Dime Boxes: low-numbered parallels (of Jeremy Bonderman no less, another semi-obscure dude I collect), All-Star rookies, and even a couple Flagship photo-variations with the Upton & Griffey(!).

I should note that I don't really set budgets for myself at card shows: I basically just bring whatever cash I have and let what I see decide what I'm gonna spend.

These big Convention Hall shows are usually a bit more damaging on my wallet since there's just way more tables, and thus a higher likelihood of stumbling upon stuff I want. I meant to take more pictures of my travels, but here's a shot from one of the prime vintage vendors in the place, and a regular stop for Dad and I over the years.

Surprise: I spent every dollar I had in my pocket at this show, but is that really any wonder when you have aisles and aisles of tables like these?

While my massive vintage haul at the Village Hall show the week prior was incredible, it was a bit of an anomaly, unexpected.

expect the Convention Hall to have gobs and gobs of vintage (and accordingly, I also expect to set aside more of my money for it). The dime boxes are terrific, but the vintage makes it an event. Now, I didn't really buy a big card this time, but that doesn't make it a disappointment: I simply didn't see anything that I felt warranted a splurge. On the contrary, I thought this latest trip provided a more well-rounded haul than I usually get.

I managed to check off a card I've long had on my radar with this '67 Yaz (his Triple Crown year), and it tied for my most expensive purchase of the day at a whopping eight bucks.

This is why I love Convention Hall Shows: here's THREE cards from my "Keep Dreaming" list (Burdette, Robinson, and Aaron), and one (Rose) that was a future candidate for that list, all in one scan.

The Burdette & Robinson came from the BARGAINS BARGAINS BARGAINS table I showed the picture of earlier. Like the Yaz, the Robinson is a historic card from Robbie's Triple Crown year (although his only cost me four bucks). The Burdette is the only card I've seen of him as a Cardinal and a dreaded high-number, though it didn't end up commanding a high-number price (just $3!).

The Aaron was the last piece I needed to complete that subset from '74 Topps (also three bucks), and the Rose was a just plain fine card I've never seen at a good price until now, mine for a five-spot.

You ever come across something at a show and say: How in the heck do I not already have this?

That's how I felt when I saw both of these, and I managed to put that shame to bed for just two bucks a piece.

I was powerless in resisting a '60 Spahn for five bucks, and the Mazeroski was highway robbery from a 50-cent bin.

Also from said 50-cent bin came these two beautiful '56s -- still a steal even with the corners chopped off, I think.

One of the newer siphons on my card show budget has been picking up nice vintage shots for the frankenset, ones I previously ignored since they don't feature binder guys.

Thankfully, they can usually be had for next to nothing, as these four combined cost as much as a pack of Opening Day -- that classic '77 Tanana in particular has been a thorn in my side, and my dad can attest to how excited I was to finally find a copy in a dime box.

Here's something you don't see every day: Topps Venezuelans!

These also came from the BARGAINS guy, and I owned exactly one vintage Topps Venezuelan before this show. The Campy was a shocking two-dollar find since all the other '66 Venezuelans the guy had were of no-namers. And yes, the '67 Staub was indeed torn in half at one point in its life (it's currently held together by a flimsy piece of tape), but that didn't stop me from dropping a paltry dollar on it.

But the question remains: why would anyone tear a baseball card in half? -- or better yet, how did a card once torn in half wind up resurfacing at a card show more than 50 years later?

These two rapscallions are not what they seem.

The classic Fisk is an OPC, and the Andujar is my very first single from the little-known '78 Topps Zest set -- it's just five cards strong and features all Hispanic players (note the Spanish on the back).

Only recently did I learn that Zest is actually a brand of soap, which makes it even weirder that they once produced baseball cards.

In my excitement I forgot to snap a picture of the whole box of 50-cent Hostess one guy had on display, which disappoints me because I feel like I have to prove that a 50-cent box filled with literally hundreds of Hostess singles actually existed.

Believe me or not, but I'm telling you it did: stars like Reggie and Seaver and even Craig Nettles (sic) made an appearance, and I really couldn't give the vendor my money fast enough.

That same guy also had a few large stacks of Kellogg's for sale as well: most of the better ones were priced at more than 50 cents, though I did get that neat Bostock for a mere couple of quarters.

The Catfish was the most expensive card of the lot at three dollars ('73 Kellogg's never looks right when shown next to its contemporaries), and everything else here was just a buck or two.

This show built on regulars, but I also always seem to find a new vendor or two with good stuff on display.

One guy had a big tub filled with discount vintage scattered all around, and I managed to nab the Post Flood and Jello Throneberry for a buck a piece -- and I can now tell the difference between Post/Jello thanks to a few commenters on my last card show post.

At five bucks a pop, these rare oddballs out of the vintage tub were among the pricier purchases of the day.

I initially passed on buying the '64 Stand-Up Powell, but I later realized my mistake and walked back across the entire convention hall to buy it. Thankfully nobody'd capitalized on my stupidity in the meantime, and the Powell was still safe and sound in the tub.

And while I don't usually go out of my way to collect baseball card stamps, I also don't usually see stamps of The Immortal Hoyt up for grabs -- this one hails from a Golden Stamps set issued in 1955(!).

Closing things out was a longtime Holy Grail of mine, a '61 Topps Billy Williams rookie which, for eight dollars, tied the aforementioned '67 Yaz as the most expensive pickup of the day.

As I said, I have no regrets about spending what I spent at this show, and my total damage was a drop in the bucket compared to what I see most people throw around at this show and others. But as the years of adulthood go by, I find myself thinking more and more about money (usually the lack of it) whether I like it or not. I suppose it comes with the passage of time.

But as I grow older, as I see more commercials, as I unbox stuff at my job, as I walk through the back aisles of Target, I also realize that there are far, far worse things I could be spending my money on than baseball cards.