Saturday, November 30, 2013

When it rains, it pours

I have a theory when it comes to baseball cards.

When it rains in this hobby, it pours. For the most part, there's not much middle ground.

I don't know of too many people who just casually collect. You're pretty much intensely into the hobby for the long haul, or you're not in it at all.

Sometimes, I come up with a batch of post ideas in one night. Other times, I have trouble stringing together a tangible sentence.

And, as I've found, trade packages don't seem to consistently trickle into my mailbox one or two at a time. I go a couple weeks or so without getting anything, and then, boom...a smattering of about four or five arrive on a single, glorious day.

That was the case a few weeks ago. After a period of little trade activity, I received five packages and a PWE in the mail in one day.

One of those packages came from Kyle, author of the great blog "Nolan's Dugout". He hasn't been blogging as much lately, but it's nice to see that he's still active in the trading market.

Kyle proved another point to my little theory. People don't just send me one or two cards from my "set needs" page.

They send dozens.

It's obvious that Kyle combed through my want lists very carefully, which I greatly appreciate.

He sent over a whole batch of needs, including a couple fantastic Roberto Clemente inserts. (Including the one at the top of the post.)

But he didn't stop there.

Kyle also helped get me a couple steps closer to landing all of last year's 1987 minis I need for my binders.

Maybe it's just me, but it sure seems like Pablo Sandoval is smiling on all of his baseball cards.

Among the contents of this trade package were the final base cards I needed from Series 2.

That Soriano is one of my nominees for "Card of the Year". I think I actually won a copy for a few credits during my Listia days, but it never showed.

I'm glad Kyle was around to correct that seller's mistake.

Also included were a slew of 2013 Flagship parallels, both of the Target and Wal-Mart variety.

That fantastic Lombardozzi looks even better with a red border.

One of the great things about this trade package was the fact that Kyle didn't limit himself to my "latest and greatest" needs.

He went back and really dug through my older wants, ones that other people almost never seem to have.

Yes, I may be the only person on Earth who specifically collects guys like Ryan Langerhans and Scott Eyre.

In fact, that's my very first card of Eyre in a Blue Jays uniform, courtesy of Upper Deck 40-Man. I often call it the poor man's Topps Total due to the fact that it featured a massive 800-plus-card checklist. (The "40-Man" name refers to MLB's 40-man rosters.)

Then again, packs of 40-Man were a couple bucks more than Total at the time, so I guess the analogy doesn't make much sense.

Speaking of obscure ballplayers, remember this guy?

Chris Coste was a minor sensation in 2006, finally making his big-league debut after 11-plus years in the minors and independent ball. He was 33 at the time. (He also started his career in an independent league after being undrafted.)

What I like about this particular card, though, is the fact that Coste (a catcher) is listed as a third baseman. He never played a single inning at the hot corner in his big league career. (Though he did play quite a bit of third in the minors.)

It may not seem like much to others, but this is one of those cards that I've wanted for a while now.

Kyle also managed to hit three of my "Dime Box Dozen" needs.

This one might look familiar.

As is the case with these two.

That's because I received the exact same trio of "Dime Box Dozen" needs from fellow blogger Douglas in an envelope that arrived a mere day or two before Kyle's package.

It's just like I said.

When it rains, it pours.

I think that's true with oddballs.

These seem to come in droves, rather than one or two at a time. I think my recent card show experience is a good example of that.

Kyle sent along a nice lot of oddballs from some of my most treasured player collections.

John Olerud has always been one of my favorite guys to collect. I probably own more cards of him than anyone not named Guerrero or Ichiro at the moment.

Even so, this fantastic Tombstone Pizza oddball is a sparkling new addition to my Olerud collection.

I see a lot of '92 Pinnacle influence on this design.

The oddities didn't end there, though.

As I've mentioned many times before, MLB Showdown was a special part of my childhood and early adolescence. I played it non-stop. If we're talking pure gameplay, that Grace isn't a particularly good card. (It comes from 2000, the first of MLB Showdown's six-year run.)

On a personal level, however, it's a terrific piece. My MLB Showdown cards are one of the few that don't get placed in my regular team binders. Since I could never bring myself to separate them, I have a special box for all of my MLB Showdown singles.

The Ichiro may look like a regular Topps Total base card. A quick flip to the back reveals the number "PP-2", which reveals its label as a "Pre-Production" insert from the set. It's like a prototype for the greatness that Total was about to unleash on the world back then.

Now that's a cool card to have.

Like my MLB Showdown singles, disk-shaped cards don't go in my binders, either.

They're just a hassle to store in standard nine-pocket pages. Still, that doesn't mean I like them any less.

In fact, cards like these are among my favorite oddballs to get. Baseball cards really do come in all shapes and sizes.

Apparently, these were issued with loaves of Holsum Bread back in the late '80s.

It's one of the few wheat-based oddballs in my collection, one that I was ecstatic to see turn up in Kyle's assortment of cardboard.

Right now, I'm going through a bit of a cardboard lull. I just got done with a massive card show, and I haven't received a trade package in a while.

If I've learned anything, though, it's probably just a calm before the storm.

I'm already starting to take shelter.

Friday, November 29, 2013

A day at the card show, Pt. 3: Vintage on a budget

The fact that I'm basically the polar opposite of a condition nut has been well-documented on this blog.

Part of it is the fact that I honestly don't much care about the shape of new pickups, especially when it comes to vintage. Just having the card is enough for me.

Some of it, though, has to do with the fact that I'm always willing to sacrifice a crease here or a dinged corner there if it saves me a few bucks. Unfortunately, I don't have the money to go around chasing mint condition cardboard.

If I've learned anything from card shows over the years, it's that you can indeed land some great vintage on a budget.

In fact, none of the cards you'll see in this post set me back more than fifty cents.

You can call this well-loved '67 Curt Flood the "big money" piece of this post. Two quarters, and it was all mine.

Mr. Flood came from a "90% Off" box, one of the first tables I stopped at on Saturday. We'll get into more of what I found from this vendor in my next card show post, but the guy sure had a good story to go along with this one.

After the vendor saw me pick out the '67 Flood you see above, he told my dad and I about the time he had a few drinks with the revolutionary ballplayer in the early '70s. Apparently, Flood could put back a few in his prime.

According to the vendor, both Flood and Bob Gibson's drink of choice was whiskey. And they liked to sample it quite a bit.

I doubt I could've taken home a story like that from one of those higher-end booths at the show.

Discount vintage bin hunters like myself probably put up with many different condition flaws.

Sometimes, though, you can get lucky. You might just stumble upon a bargain bin with vintage that has few, if any, surface flaws. And, while I love cards with character, I surely won't turn down ones in decent shape.

That was the case when my dad and I stumbled upon a 3/$1 vintage box about halfway through the show. I was shocked to find this fairly well-conditioned Mazeroski in there.

I've seen this card on a few other blogs. I couldn't help but be jealous of their owners every single time. It's a beautiful piece.

Which is more than I can say about most other cards in 1970 Topps.

Ironically, most of my favorite finds from this 3/$1 bin were from the '70 Topps checklist.

As you may have guessed, it's not one of my favorites.

The Cookie Rojas has been on my wantlist for quite a while now. Aside from the very hair salon-esque glasses, it's the only card I know of that depicts him as a Cardinal. He spent all of 23 games with the franchise in 1970.

As the Powell hints, I've long been underrating the '60s and '70s World Series Highlights subsets. I'm only starting to come around on them now.

Which reminds me...

That wasn't the only 3/$1 vintage box I found on Saturday.

In what would become a running theme, my dad actually scoped this table out while I was perusing a nearby dime box. He even picked out a few cards he thought I'd like once I finished my dime box digging.

I believe one of my dad's finds was this tremendous Highlights issue from 1960 Topps, one that depicts the Dodgers' victory over the "Go-Go" White Sox in the '59 Series.

It has to be one of the few cards that features real, actual alcohol on the front.

That might not be a bad idea for a post one of these days.

An All-Star card of a Hall of Famer?

In a 3/$1 box?

Yes, please.

Here, we have a few of my oddball-ish 3/$1 finds.

The Blyleven is perfect for the recent OPC surge I've been on lately. And I've been fascinated by those vintage booklets after a fellow blogger sent me a few earlier this year.

They've been on my radar ever since.

If you can live with a few creases here and there, you might be able to find some vintage hometown stars at a discounted rate.

Believe me, Ron Santo stuff goes for insane prices here in the Chicago area. Just like fellow Cubs Ernie Banks and Fergie Jenkins.

But, thanks to a impeding crease, I was able to take home a nice in-action card of Mr. Santo for about 33 cents. The same goes for fellow '72 semi-high number member Joe Torre.

Those are deals I just can't refuse.

These are fairly common members of the discount vintage club.

I seem to find cards from Fleer's old Greats of the Game series in every vintage box I go through these days.

While they're not often remembered in today's hobby, I love these things. 

Where else am I going to find cards of Bobo Newsom and Rabbit Maranville?

These were pretty big shockers in a 3/$1 box.

I'd never owned anything from the "Hank Aaron Special" subset in '74 Topps before Saturday. Finding two of them at such a heavily discounted price was quite a surprise.

On top of that, the fact that these are consecutive cards in the Hank Aaron run will do wonders for my self-diagnosed "cardboard OCD".

If you want the biggest surprise of this 3/$1 box, though, I'll just point you to the card you see above.

I'd never owned, planned on owning, or dreamed of owning anything from the 1948 Leaf set before. Anything pre-1950's seems to be just outside of my price range most of the time.

Even in its extremely well-loved state, I couldn't help but emit an audible "WOW" when I found this in a 3/$1 bin. Not only is this card a whopping 63 years old, but it features a Luke Appling, a Hall of Famer.

That's a true bargain bin success story if I've ever seen one.

The saga of extremely well-loved vintage wasn't over just yet, though.

Near the end of Saturday's show, I found a guy with a big dime box of nothing but glorious vintage. (It's the same vendor who had that huge stack of Galasso Glossy Greats singles I featured earlier.)

Next to the box was a nice pile of what looked to be '50s and '60s cards for a dime. I had to ask the vendor to make sure I'd read that price right.

But, sure enough, they were indeed a dime a piece. Now, of course, many of them had gaping condition flaws.

As you can see, this neat addition to my Reds binder has not one, but two hole punches on it.

As does this one.

In a strange way, though, the fact that each of these are so beat up are the only reason I'd ever add them to my collection. I doubt I would've ever sought out better-conditioned and higher-priced copies of these elsewhere.

For a dime, though, I just couldn't let them go.

My collection is like a rescue shelter for old, battered vintage.

The actual vintage dime box on display had a few highlights as well.

I could've well deemed Saturday as the "Wilbur Wood Show" with all the great cards I found of his. That '70 Topps issue brings me one step closer to completing his "Topps set".

This dime box finally closed a huge hole in my collection with the '75 Topps Ron Cey.

I'm sure that was an iconic card for a lot of Dodger fans back in the day.

Which is a nice segue into...

Wait for it...


It's impossible to tell from the scan, but you'll have to take my word that these are authentic '75 Topps minis.

The vendor at the very next table over from the vintage dime box I just mentioned had a nice stack of minis for sale. They were conveniently priced at 30/$5. (That's about 16 cents each.)

I know of at least one blogger who passionately collects these things, obviously. I picked up a few for him, and I also bought some for a few team collectors I know. I'm hoping to spread the mini goodness in a few upcoming trade packages.

Of course, I picked up a few for myself as well. Gates Brown is one of those names from the past who my dad seems to constantly mention in our conversations.

As a result, I've come to collect his cardboard over the years.

More minis for my binders.

That Murcer is one of the more egregious airbrush jobs in the '75 checklist.

Up next are couple of my favorite White Sox from '75 Topps.

Yes, the "Wilbur Wood Show" continued in mini form as well.

Probably my favorite mini, though, was this very Dock Ellis.

He'll forever be remembered as the guy who pitched a no-hitter on LSD, but he was one of the better pitchers of the early-to-mid 1970's if you go back and look.

Dock Ellis has always been near the top of my collecting ladder. I've had his regular '75 Topps card in my collection for a long time now.

Finding the mini to go along with it is sheer paradise.

We cap things off tonight with the third and final "Dime Box Dozen" need I found on Saturday.

The other two were more modern dime box finds. This one, oddly enough, was even cheaper than that.

Mr. Grich here came out of a 12/$1 box, one that was located at the same table as those '75 minis.

As it happens, my dad was actually the one who found this card. As I was digging through the aforementioned vintage dime box, he was combing through those 12/$1 bins in search of this very card.

I guess it's appropriate that he's the one who finally found it. The reason I wanted this Grich in the first place was because my dad told me how he and his friends used to try and emulate the snow-cone catch in this particular shot when they were kids.

It's a great card regardless, but the story makes it even better.

Even if you're on a budget, discount vintage can still be a central theme of your card show experience.

It was certainly a huge part of mine on Saturday.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

My holiday mailing list

I'd like to start things off today by wishing all of my fellow bloggers a very happy Thanksgiving.

May your plates be as plentiful as Ed Kranepool's on this great holiday.

I am truly thankful for all the great people I've met during my blogging career thus far. I still maintain that starting this blog is one of the greatest life decisions I've ever made.

Now, admittedly, I haven't exactly lived up to the "giving" part of this happy holiday as far as the blogosphere goes. I've once again fallen massively behind in mailing out trade packages and the like.

So, what I'd like to do today is hand out my own little holiday list of people that should be expecting mailers from me soon. Some of these are "just because" packages, and others are return goodies for trade packages I've received lately. (If you think your name should be on this list, please contact me.)

I'd like to take care of everyone by Christmas, at the latest. Hopefully my budget will cooperate.

I've included the teams (and a few other things) that each of the people below collect. So, if you happen to have anything of anything you think these people might enjoy, go ahead and contact them. This is a season for giving, after all.

And, as always, if you're new to the blogosphere and/or would like to drum up a trade, please feel free to shoot me an email.

So, in no particular order, here's what I'm calling my "holiday mailing list".

Mark of "This Way to the Clubhouse..." (Mets)
Marcus of "All the Way to the Backstop..." (Padres)
Duff of "Bleedin' Brown and Gold" (Padres)
John of "Johnny's Trading Spot" (Braves)
Ethan of "Playing With My Cards" (Dodgers)
Michael of "Nomo's Sushi Platter" (Dodgers)
Greg of "Night Owl Cards" (Dodgers)
Jim of "Garvey Cey Russell Lopes" (Dodgers)
Weston of "Fantastic Catch" (Cardinals)
Mark of "Chronicles of Fuji" (A's/Japanese Players)
William of "Foul Bunt" (Orioles)
Douglas of "Sportscards from the Dollar Store" (Blue Jays/Mets)
Robert of "$30 A Week Habit" (Blue Jays)
Jeff of "2 by 3 Heroes" (White Sox)
Tom of "Waiting 'til Next Year" (Cubs)
Ana of "Hobby Cards Europe" (Yankees/Reds/D'Backs/Astros)
Mark of "Battlin' Bucs" (Pirates)
T.J. of "The Junior Junkie" (Ken Griffey Jr.)
Matt of "Red Cardboard" (Reds)

In fact, I encourage you to pick a few names off this list (or any other blogger, for that matter) at random and mail them some cards this holiday season. 

After all, few gifts are better than cardboard. If any.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A day at the card show, Pt. 2: Oddball-a-palooza

I'll say this now.

If you're not a fan of oddballs, then you might be best served by skipping this post. It will indeed be one big oddball-a-palooza.

Ah, who am I kidding?

Everybody likes oddballs!

Now, if you're as big of an oddball nut as I am, one of two things is going to probably happen as you read through this post.

You'll either be in awe and appreciative of all the great oddballs I picked up, or you might be jealous and hate me for all the great oddballs I picked up. That part is up to you.

I'm absolutely certain that this is the best oddball haul I've ever unearthed at a card show, though. It's lightyears ahead of any other oddball experience I've ever had.

Near the end of the show, I found the '81 Drake's Carlton Fisk you see above (featured in a Night Owl post recently) in a 12/$1 box.

While it was a terrific score, I'd already had a huge stack of oddballs amongst the day's finds at that point.

Oddly enough, I found not one, but two spectacular Pee Wee Reese oddities on Saturday.

On the right is one of my better dime box finds of the day. After a little research, I found that it actually comes from the obscure 1994 Signature Rookies release. I find it odd that Pee Wee Reese was included in a set like that.

The card on the left came from a dollar box that I'll discuss more in a little bit. I'm not sure on the specifics, but it appears to hail from some sort of hybrid Coca-Cola/Valvoline "Don't Do Drugs" campaign.

The fact that I rarely pay a dollar for anything non-vintage should tell you how highly I think of that one.

Speaking of Coca-Cola...

The Bowa is just my second single from the '81 Coca-Cola oddball release.

I'm not sure how, but a 24 year-old pocket schedule wound up in a stack of other cardboard during one of my digs. While I wouldn't consider myself a Tigers fan, I couldn't let that one go.

As you might guess, both of these were indeed dime finds.

I go into every show with hopes of finding '70s oddballs.

It was the same story at the National this past summer. While that show was great for a variety of the reasons, the lack of '70s oddballs was one of its few downsides.

I found absolutely nothing from the likes of Hostess there. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

At this show, though, they seemed to be flowing like wine.

One particular dollar box (the same one that netted me the aforementioned Reese) had quite a few scattered amongst its reaches.

While they might not be in the greatest shape, I couldn't resist shelling out a buck for such cool Hostess oddballs of guys like "Mr. October".

The same goes for Tom Seaver and Dave Kingman.

A dollar was a small price to pay for such oddball greatness.

These were also among my dollar box finds.

While it doesn't make that much of a difference to me, I can appreciate the fact that these two Hall of Famers are cut a little better than the other Hostess singles I've shown so far.

I guess at least one kid knew how to properly use a pair of scissors in the 1970's.

I'm really surprised I haven't seen more people try to build these old Hostess sets.

Then again, a quick peek through the checklists seemed to suggest why it's such a rarity. Many '70s Hostess sets seem to feature a bunch of short-prints.

Both Nolan Ryan and Carlton Fisk are indeed SPs in the '76 Hostess release. In fact, they were probably the two biggest names out of all the short-prints that year.

That made it all the more surprising to find them in a dollar box.

Last, but surely not least, in my Hostess recap is this terrific Rod Carew.

Like the others, it came in that same dollar box I've been raving about. Plus, it's the rare instance of an action shot featured on a Hostess card.

Had those been my only oddball finds of the day, I would've been more than satisfied.

But they weren't.

The hallowed Kellogg's oddballs made a few appearances on Saturday as well. They're the other side of the eternal Hostess vs. Kellogg's debate. My choice seems to constantly switch with each passing day.

There's little doubt that Kellogg's is right up there with Hostess at the top of the oddball mountain, though. My dad vividly remembers pestering his mom (my grandma) at the grocery store for both types of cards back in the day.

Kellogg's, obviously, features a neat 3-D quality that Hostess never had. They also lasted a bit longer than their sugar-toothed brothers, as the first incarnation of Kellogg's cards made it up until 1983. (Hostess died out in '79.)

Mr. Lynn there comes from that final year of Kellogg's in '83. As you might know if you've ever seen one, these are much more narrow than your standard baseball card.

Shockingly, I found it in a 3/$1 box.

These came from that Hostess-dominated dollar box.

Seeing as how most cardboard from his playing days seems to carry a super premium, I was quite surprised to find the Munson for a mere dollar.

That piece of the late Yankee backstop comes from the '76 Kellogg's checklist, while the McCovey is from 1978.

I don't quite have the individual Kellogg's designs paired up to a specific year in my memory just yet.

I think that's because I haven't seen all that many in my lifetime.


That certainly changed on Saturday.

Remember that guy I talked about yesterday who had the dime binders on display?

Well, just off to the side of those was a solitary quarter binder. And, as I gleefully found, about three-quarters of it was absolutely packed with '70s Kellogg's singles.

It was one of the better discoveries of my card show career. I'm not exaggerating about that, either.

Most of the Kellogg's cards I've found have been sporadic. One here, a couple there, another one there. I'd never seen anywhere near this many Kellogg's singles in one place before.

As my dad can attest, I was quoted as noting that I'd be "selective" in going through that binder. Quarter cards can add up after a while. But, as I soon found out, I couldn't help myself. I picked and picked and picked until I couldn't pick any more from that binder.

In the end, I walked away with north of 50 new Kellogg's singles for my collection. So, if you'll indulge me, I'd like to take you into the Kellogg's time machine for the remainder of this post.

The batch you see above come from the 1982 Kellogg's checklist.

They proved to be the most recent cards from the oddball set in the quarter binder.

These come from the year prior, 1981.

I'd almost never seen anything from the '81 Kellogg's checklist in-person before Saturday. Yet, amazingly, there I was going through a few full pages of them.

My personal favorite of this lot has to be the Henderson.

Not only is it one of his earliest cards, but those loud A's jerseys work perfectly with the yellow borders.

These hail from the 1980 Kellogg's set.

From "Knucksie" to "The Penguin" to "Pudge", I couldn't believe some of the names I found for mere quarters.

I didn't own a single card from the '79 Kellogg's checklist before Saturday.

Thanks to this quarter binder, though, I now have a little more than a dozen in my possession.

One thing I really enjoy about these '70s oddball sets are the sheer variety of players they featured. Sure, they had big names like Rice and McCovey, but there was still room for more under-the-surface stars like Rick Monday and Larry Bowa as well.

Today's insert sets could take a page from the '70s in that regard.

If I had to pick, I'd probably choose 1977 as my favorite design in the Kellogg's catalog.

To me, they scream "1970's!!" more than any other design in the cereal-based set's hallowed history.

The guy didn't have a ton of these in his quarter binder, but I still found a few to my liking.

I'll never be able to pass up anything of Dock Ellis at that price, much less one of his Kellogg's cards.

These hail from '74 Kellogg's, another chapter in the brand's blue-themed early history.

Mr. DH himself, Ron Blomberg, did indeed come from the quarter binder.

I should note how well-conditioned all of these quarter Kellogg's singles were. While I don't mind it all that much, most of the Kellogg's cards I'd previously found had cracks like Wilbur Wood there.

The man with the old-timey name actually came with the '83 Lynn in the aforementioned 3/$1 box.

This was also a 3/$1 bin find.

As you might have guessed, I'm a huge Wilbur Wood fan. Much like Oscar Gamble and the Alou brothers, he's one of those older fan favorite-type guys that I love to collect.

At first, I didn't even know this was a Kellogg's card. But as I found, 1973 was the lone year Kellogg's decided to stray away from the 3-D technology.

Why they did such a thing, I'll never know.

I mean, the whole 3-D thing is what makes these so awesome.

This is a tough-to-find single from the '71 Kellogg's checklist. It set me back a whole two dollars, but I didn't even have to think twice on the price.

Manny Sanguillen is definitely one of those Wilbur Wood-esque fan favorites that make for some of the best parts of my collection.

From what I hear, he's one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet.

Closing things out is a single from the very first Kellogg's release in 1970.

Thanks to a slight crack in its surface, I was able to snag this Santo from the reaches of that quarter binder.

Normally, I close out a post with my favorite find from the particular batch of cards I happen to be discussing that evening.

Yes, the Santo is my favorite. But so are the Wilbur Woods. And the Charlie Hough. And the Keith Hernandez. And the Rickey Hendersons. As are the "Yaz" and Seaver Hostess cards. And the Fisk Drake's issue.

When we're talking oddballs, they're all my favorite.