Thursday, April 30, 2015

Twenty one

Once again I am the recipient of someone else's generosity.  Unexpectedly, I received an envelope yesterday from Julie at the A Cracked Bat blog.  Needless to say, it was full of Blue Jays for the collection.

I was able to break the ones I needed down to 5 groups of 4 + the one card that stood out on its own.  So let's take a look at twenty one cards that have been added to the collection.

Standing out of this group of 4 Bowman Chrome cards is Spider man Kevin Pillar, who has made it a bit of a habit so far this season of stealing extra base hits with some great acrobatics in left field.  If you haven't seen the catch that he made off of Tim Beckham on Jackie Robinson day, here's a video clip for your perusal.

2012 Topps minis are up next, featuring 4 players that are no longer with the organization.  Yes, that includes the recently released Ricky Romero on the bottom of the stack. 

4 members of the '91 AL East championship squad that lost in 5 games to the Twins in the ALCS.   I've always liked that photo of Kelly Gruber, it kind of looks like he's holding the bat on his shoulders while he's behind bars.  I still need quite a few of the '92 Topps gold parallels, 21 of them by my count, so I'm grateful to have these 4 in hand.

My first 2015 Gypsy Queen cards in hand.  Not bad.  I can't say that I'm a huge fan of the design, but I'm not turned off by them either.  I had a hanger box in my hand last weekend when I went to Wal-Mart, but then thought better of it and grabbed a rack pack of Heritage instead (the Miguel Cabrera SP that I pulled was worth it).

I don't recall having ever bought a pack of '14 Stadium club, so the EE and Roy Halladay cards are definitely a first look for me.  I like them, the information bar (for lack of a better term) at the bottom doesn't take anything away from the photos, which are first rate.   The Daniel Norris is just the 2nd Museum Collection card that I own (R.A. Dickey being the other).  What always strikes me as odd is the thickness, kind of unnecessary for a base card IMO.

Finally, card #21 is a great auto from Panini Hometown Heroes of Tony Fernandez.  Doing a little look back on the history of the franchise, I found out that Tony is 3rd in total WAR in team history (the top two are pitchers that have cards above, I'm sure you can guess who they are).  Adding Bell and Fernandez in the past couple of weeks has kind of made me want to chase more autos/relics of players that were part of the great teams the Jays had between 1985 and 1993.

Julie, thank you very much for the great envelope.   The cards are great and very much appreciated!

thanks for reading, Robert

Monday, April 27, 2015

Shiny, Sexy and Dirty

Over the past couple of weeks I've received some great cards from fellow bloggers.  You know those guys (or gals in some cases), the ones that take the time out to look at your gigantic want lists and dig through dime boxes at card shows, or through their own personal collections and say "I know he needs this one....".

Max from the Starting Nine blog always sends me some great stuff.  And while I couldn't use the serial numbered card he sent me (sorry Max, the Mets were already completed), there were a handful of shiny cards that were in need of a good home.

what I love is that the range of years of this lot isn't just from the past couple of years, it goes all the way back to '96 (Ultra Gold Medallion of Paul Quantrill), hits the 2003-2006 range (Myers, Delgado and Wells) and finally pulls up to more modern stuff (Bautista). 

Max always makes sure to add a couple of hockey cards into any envelope that he sends me, just to ensure that the envelope is "well rounded"

The original email that Max sent me a while back centered around the "Jo Sakic" card on the left.  No E, yikes.  I do like the Goodwin Champions cards, and the Mike Gartner on the right will go nicely into my Maple Leafs collection, which sadly has been ignored lately. 

Speaking of Maple Leaf cards, Zach from the Underdog Card Collector sent me an autograph card of a player I'd never heard of before.

How many of you noticed the signature??

Malorie Mackey seems to wield a goalie stick in the photo, but nowhere on the card are any goalie pads to be found....

Yes, I had to scan the back to ensure that the gentleman readers knew that Ms. Malorie looked as good going as she does coming.

(if you need to pause for a few moments, please do so)

Speaking of dirty, I also received this Jose Reyes Opening Day insert as well.  The hit the dirt inserts are quickly becoming one of my favorite inserts of 2015 (not that I have many).

I was also sent the R.A. Dickey and Jose Bautista cards from Opening Day, reminding me that I need to get that want list updated with the Heritage and Opening Day sets.

Gentlemen, thank you both for the cards, they are really appreciated!!!

thanks for reading, Robert

Thursday, April 23, 2015

By the page: 1977 Topps #1-9

Still one of my all time favorite sets, 1977 Topps is probably one of the easiest sets to put together for a collector that's looking for an older set that isn't too expensive.  It's the first baseball set that I can remember trying to put together from packs when I was a kid, and it's the first group of cards that my mother threw out as I got older.

Top row:  Batting leaders, Home Run Leaders and RBI Leaders

You don't really hear enough about Bill Madlock being one of the best all around 3rd basemen during the 70's and 80's.  He's usually overshadowed by the power numbers of Mike Schmidt, but his ability to hit shouldn't be overlooked.  4 time batting champion, 5 other seasons he hit better than .300 and just over 2000 career hits are nothing to sneeze at.  George Foster is another guy that I don't think gets the publicity he deserves.  Take a look at his numbers between 1976-1979, and he's just as good if not better than the majority of ML outfielders.

The Brett/Madlock card is probably in need of an upgrade since it is off centered quite a bit.  The other 2 cards are in pretty good shape.

Middle row: Stolen Base Leaders, Victory Leaders and Strikeout Leaders

Ryan and Seaver together on one card.   Magic.  Unfortunately it also suffers from centering issues, just like the Brett/Madlock card.  The stolen base leaders card also is a bit off center, but probably won't cost me as much to upgrade (if I decide to do so) as the other 2. 

Bottom row: ERA Leaders, Leading Firemen and Doug Rader

I wonder why that the term "firemen" fell out of use.  Up until 2000, the top relief pitcher in each league won the "Fireman of the Year" award, but now the title is just the "Reliever of the year".  1977 would be the last year of Doug Rader's career, spending it with the Padres & Blue Jays hitting a combined .251 with 18 HRs

All in all, it's not a bad looking first page for the set.  Upgrades to cards #1 & 6 while probably necessary, aren't exactly high on the list at this time.  Maybe someday when I finish all the other sets that I'm working on I'll get around to it.

thanks for reading, Robert

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Four for 4

I've managed over the past year or two to curb my impulse card spending.  This has helped me get closer to building some of the sets I've been working on.  But for some reason last Thursday, the impulse bug bit me.

I thought to myself that I hadn't added a jersey/relic card to my collection in quite a while, and for some reason the overwhelming desire to add a few really took over.

The result?  A quick eBay shopping spree to add 4 cards to 4 different PCs.  

I was going to write a few sentences about Brett, but then I remembered that he's public enemy #1 in KC right now.   Moving along...

I'd like to get more relics/jersey cards of Jays that played with the club in the 80's through the early 90's.  Once I saw this George Bell bat card, I knew I had to have it.  I was so excited to get it that I've already added it to the Blue Jays hits page--weeks before normal.

Both the Bell and the Jim Thome dual jersey card came from the same seller, "cardstore.44".  I was intrigued by the user name and went through all his auctions, which happen to all be priced $x.44.  With free shipping, I decided to grab both cards for just under $9 total. 

Being a long time Sakic collector, I'm always on the look out for cheap relics to add to my collection.  Normally, it's difficult to find something less than $10, especially from a product like Titanium.  So when I spotted a seller that owned two of these with a BIN at $4.99 I pounced. 

Even better, after I paid for the auction, the seller reached out to me and asked which serial # I wanted.  Lucky for me, he had a very desirable one.  Anything Sakic that is serial #'d 19 (his jersey number) comes with a premium price, and so I generally will shy away from them.  Lucky me, I now have something Sakic related with his jersey number! 

For just over $20 including shipping, the impulse didn't blow the weekly budget. 

It's early in the season, but I believe that I went four for 4.

thanks for reading, Robert

Saturday, April 18, 2015

'59 Topps set build #16/572 Jim Busby

Every time I looked at this card before doing some research for this post, I would think of Steve Busby, who pitched for the Royals between 1972 & 1980.   Little did I know that the two of them were 4th cousins.  Here is the 16th post in the '59 set build, as I slowly make my way through the set:

Card #185:  Jim Busby

The front of the card is in decent condition.   The bottom corners are both rounded, but there are no creases or markings on the front.  Even though the back has several pen markings at the top (as if someone were testing their pen on the card) it's still in pretty decent shape.

I'm not sure why someone wrote the number 28 on the back as well.  Jim wore 11(!) different uniform numbers during his 13 year career, but none of them were the # 28. 

Cartoon:  For a somewhat light hitting player like Busby, hitting grand slams in consecutive games is quite an achievement.  Jim did this on July 5th and 6th, 1956 as a member of the Cleveland Indians. 

The very short bio on the back says that "he's a fine defensive flychaser".  During a 7 year stretch between 1951 & 1957, Jim was ranked in the top 5 in the AL for putouts by a center fielder, including 3 straight seasons ranked #1.

How'd he fare in 1959?  At this point in Jim's career, he'd been relegated to part time duty.  He was with the Red Sox for the entire '59 season, hitting just .225 with 1HR and 5 RBI in 102 ABs.  At least he was able to say that he shared time in left field that year with the great Ted Williams. 

  • Jim was a World War II veteran, spending three years in the Army
  • Jim was also a two sport player in college at TCU, splitting time between the diamond and on the gridiron.   Busby was the quarterback for the Horned Frogs in the 1945 Cotton Bowl, which they lost 34-0 to Oklahoma A&M (now known as Oklahoma State)
  • Busby was also a part of the expansion Houston Colt .45s in 1962, as a player-coach.  He would go on to be a coach for the Astros, Braves, White Sox and Mariners.  
Jim passed away in 1996 at the age of 69.

thanks for reading, Robert

Friday, April 17, 2015

The never ending senior moment

Have you ever received a package in the mail, opened it up and wondered "did I get someone else's package?"  This happened to me last weekend, as I received a generous helping of cards from everyone's favorite Ken Griffey Jr. collector, TJ from the Junior Junkie blog.

When I opened the envelope, I thought for a moment and said to myself that these cards have to be for someone else.  So I sent an email to TJ, and asked him if these cards were for me.  He said that I had mentioned on the blog that I was going to start a PC of this guy, and he started setting them aside.

So I did a search of my blog for all posts involving this player.  I couldn't find anything stating that I wanted to start a PC .  Now I'm worried that I mentioned this guy on someone else's blog. 

So for a week now, I've had what I would term as a "never ending senior moment".   Trying like hell to figure out where I said this.

The player in question?  Roger Clemens

Clemens has been mentioned a few times on the blog, largely because of his 2 year stint with the Jays in the late 90's.  I looked through those posts and couldn't find anything on starting a PC.

Help me out here if you can.  Someone point me to where I mentioned this, please!!   It'll keep me from pulling out what hair I have left.

Never the less, the 67 cards of Clemens in the envelope are a helluva way to start a PC.   TJ, thank you for taking the time to put these aside for me, it really is appreciated!

thanks for reading, Robert

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A labor of love

Great pickups. Part of me is super jealous of your set building projects. The other half... the half that manages my bank account... understands I'd never, ever be able to build any 60's set on a teacher's salary. One day... if I'm lucky... I'll win the lottery and buy me a 1965 set.

That was a comment on last night from another "grizzled old vet", Mark from the great Chronicles of Fuji blog.  I really enjoyed reading the comment, and it made me think about the sets & projects that I've worked on during the almost 4 years that I've been writing this blog.

I was skeptical at first about whether I would be able to finish vintage sets.  Worrying about finding cards of heroes like Aaron, Mantle, Mays and many others made me wonder if someone on a budget could really complete vintage sets.

The '64 set build has really taught me a lot.  Deciding on what condition I wanted my vintage sets to be in. Sticking to a budget.   Most of all, being patient and not worrying about how long it takes to finish off an older set.  Thankfully, I've been able to stick to the condition and budget restraints while not freaking out about the length of time it's taken me to pick up cards for my various projects.

Another set project that I've worked on for quite a while is my Serial Numbered Insanity quest.  I'm happy to say that it's down to 120 cards to go.  I received a couple of more from a blogger who's gone dark, but still is around sending off packages here and there.   I'm talking about Spiegel from the Nomo's Sushi Platter blog.

The Dodgers are finally on the edge of completion, as Zack Greinke's 2013 Topps gold card marks the 49th Dodger to descend from the heavens into the insanity. Greinke's serial #1307 has been removed from the want list.

The Mariners aren't as close as the Dodgers, as they are still 6 cards away from being complete.  Michael Pineda's card from the 2012 Topps set is serial #997.

Much like the vintage sets I'm working on, the SNI project has been a labor of love.  I'm sure it will not cost me the amount of money that vintage sets have/will, but the time it's taken and the enjoyment I've derived is no different from anything else I'm working on.

I'm sure that when I finish some of these sets, the joy I'll feel will only be intensified. 

That's probably the biggest reason I collect.  What about you?

thanks for reading, Robert

Monday, April 13, 2015

In your travels...

Outside of the Ernie Banks '61 Topps card, and a hangar box of Heritage, the last several weeks for the most part have been pretty dry as far as card purchases.   The monthly card show snapped me out of that rut on the weekend.

I was able to snap up 4 high numbers for the '64 set...

3 of them were $5 apiece, and the Alvin Dark was $6.  It's getting a little tougher to swallow, but I knew what I was in for this year.  Picking up the last 74 cards is going to be a costly proposition, but in the end it will be well worth it.

4 more cards came off the '62 Topps want list as well..

Love the old style Phillies 'P' on Jim Owens cap.  The Midway Masters card intrigued me, not only because it features more than one player, but because something is sideways.  Is the photo wrong, or is the card description wrong?  My bet would be the midway masters bubble should have been at the bottom.

The Dodgers team checklist was just $2, which I thought was quite the bargain.

I also picked up 9 '68 Topps cards, but these 2 stand out for me...

The league leaders card was $2, and the Killebrew set me back $5.  Well worth it to add a couple of cards featuring HOFers to the build.

At a quarter apiece, a nice stack of '67s made their way home with me.  39 of them to be exact.  At that price, I couldn't leave them there.

A trio of higher numbered '73s also came home with me, along with a pair of lower numbered cards that I was happy to finally cross off the list...

It's getting really close, just 17 more cards to go to complete the '73 set.  Much like my '64 set, there are some pricey cards left over.   Dwight Evans rookie, Yaz, Aaron all time total base leader, and oh yes, the Mike Schmidt RC.

Sooooo, in your travels, if you happen to see a mid grade Schmidt RC for less than $50, send me a shout out.  Just comment on the blog, or send me a message on twitter (@30aweekhabit).   I would very much appreciate it! 

thanks for reading, Robert

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Mr. Cub--the '61 version

For the last 6 weeks, collecting cards has really taken a back seat in my life.  Up until this week, I've probably spent $10 on cards in that time.  I had hoped to change that last weekend with the monthly card show, but my failing memory didn't remind me that it was Easter weekend, and the show was postponed.

So, to cure the card buying jones that I had, I hit eBay.  By accident, I came across this card...

the auction title had NO CREASES in all caps, so I took a shot.  Imagine my surprise when I received notification that I won the auction, for less than $20!

The '61 Topps set is nowhere on my radar right now, and may never well be.  But the chance to pick up a really nice card of Ernie Banks doesn't come along too often, so I took it.

If I didn't take this chance, how would I have ever known that Ernie was a fine swimmer??

thanks for looking, Robert

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Heritage? Well gee, I don't know...

It looks as if Heritage is going to be the same exercise for me this year as it was last year.   Buy a few packs, and search the blogosphere for people who are collecting the set to see if I have something I can send them.

If you ask me, I wouldn't be upset if the designers at Topps decided to fast forward the next few years of Topps designs for Heritage, and use the '71 set for the 2016 Heritage product.  The only design that I even care about at all between 1967-1970 is the '68 set, and even that year gets a lot of mixed reviews from collectors.

I've bought a hanger box and a handful of rack packs so far, and while the set is OK, it doesn't provide the urge to run to the store and grab more. 

I saw these guys in the new uniforms, and I thought that there's some progress going on this year!

Then I see this

and this

and I wonder what gives, especially with the Samardzija. 

How this guy got a card this year is beyond me. 

If it were me, I wouldn't have Rodriguez in any card sets this year.  He sat out a season of baseball, I believe that should be matched in the card world.

I've done all right with the Blue Jays so far, picking up these three to go along with the Rasmus.  It was disappointing to look up the team set and find that there are 2 versions of Josh Donaldson's card (traded line in the bio section), along with 3 versions of Jose Bautista (regular, color swap and action pose).  Not to mention that Bautista is a SP this year, and I no longer wonder why I don't chase after sets like Heritage.

I guess after all self-reflection, if you asked me if am collecting Heritage this year, it's not a "well gee, I don't know", it's "sorry, I'll pass again this year".

I'm hoping that there's at least one other set besides the flagship this year that I will want to collect.  Maybe Gint-A-Cuffs VII will be the impetus to chase down A&G in '15.

thanks for reading, Robert

Friday, April 3, 2015

Nifty fifty

I received an email from Marc who writes the Remember the Astrodome blog while I was on vacation.  Marc had quite a few of my Topps 2015 wants, and was willing to send them my way, no questions asked.

Works for me!!

The envelope arrived today, with exactly 50 cards.   I'm not sure if Marc planned it that way, but it worked out great as far as the title for this blog post goes.

Opening Day has foil parallels as well?  Yikes.  Yes, I like the price point of opening day for attracting kids, but I think Topps really needs to differentiate this set from the flagship.   {From a little digging I found that this is a "Blue Opening Day" card}

Still, it's cool to have another Blue Jay from the '15 releases in the fold.

Wow!  I've seen a couple of these Hit the Dirt inserts, and the photography is fantastic.  It's as if Reyes has dirt on his beard and around his right eye.  This might be the top Blue Jay card for 2015 as far as I'm concerned.

Marc sent me a handful of 2014 Topps needs.   I feel ashamed that I still have some of those on my want list.  Might be a good idea to do something about that soon.

On a side note, it's been tough seeing video of Andrew McCutchen with out his dread locks.   They were like his signature, unmistakable.

3 home run hitters, and two guys that do their best to prevent them.  No Blue Jays on the HR leaders card this year, but two of them made the top 10 at least. 

Come on James, you have the right style of mask, get a little artwork done, show off your identity.  Why get the modern mask if you're not going to jazz it up a little?

I'm very curious to see how Stanton performs in 2015 after that horrific beaning he suffered last season.  He's had a pretty good spring (.313 with 4HR in 48 AB), but the quality of pitching that he faced in the spring will not match what he's going to face starting Monday against the Braves.  200 homers is just 46 away, I'd love to see him reach that milestone at age 25.

I'm hitting the monthly card show this weekend, with a want list for Bru and a few other people.  Maybe I'll try and knock off the rest of the singles I need for '15 Topps.

Marc, thank you for the cards, they are greatly appreciated! 

thanks for reading, Robert

Thursday, April 2, 2015

By the page: 1964 Topps #'s 1-9

It's time I stopped and smelled the roses for a while.   I've spent the past 4 years playing catch up with my collection.  I've started a lot of sets, finished a few, and showed off a lot of cards on the blog over that time.

But to be honest, while moving as fast as I can to build sets, I've never really stopped to take a good look at a lot of my cards.  I'm so busy accumulating numbers, marking off checklists, and having a grand time building my collection that I haven't enjoyed it. 

I'm going to use the by the page theme to highlight pages that I've completed from vintage sets, take a look at the cards a little bit closer and muse a little about their condition, the photo, the placement in the set, or whatever I may feel like saying at that time.  Maybe I'll even notice something on the card that I didn't notice in the past.  I might even find a few cards that I'll want an upgrade for.

I have to start somewhere, so I figured why not go with the set I've been building the longest, and go from there.

1964 Topps cards #'d 1 through 9 

Top row:  NL & AL ERA leaders, NL pitching leaders

I still remember picking up a few of these league leader cards as I was on my way out the door at the 2012 Baltimore National.  I was tired, worn out from the sensory overload that was 2 days at the NSCC (it was my first).  But I just happened to look at one last table, and found 4 of the LL cards for $5 apiece.  I didn't even haggle with the dealer, because in my opinion they were such a good price that I couldn't leave them there.

All 3 of these cards are in really nice shape, the backs on 2 of the cards have some light stains on them, but nothing that really says to me that the cards would have to be replaced.  I'll be enjoying these 3 for many years to come.

Middle row:  AL Pitching leaders & NL/AL Strikeout leaders

I wound up scanning this row 3 times, thinking that the AL pitching leaders card was crooked on the scanner bed.  Nope, that's how it looks.  That might be the only card from the entire page that I would consider replacing. 

I also find it interesting that the pitching leaders cards are simply the wins leader for each league.  Why not just call it "Wins Leaders" on the top of the card?  The only name I didn't recognize on any of the 6 pitching cards is Dick Stigman, who finished 3rd in strikeouts in 1963.  Turns out that 1963 was Stigman's only season in which he did nothing but start, every other season during his brief 7 year career he split time between the pen and the rotation for the Twins/Red Sox. 

Bottom row:  NL & AL batting leaders + NL Home Run leaders

Man, look at the names on these 3 cards.  7 Hall of Famers, Groat and Davis had over 2000 hits each, and Rich Rollins found himself in the middle of a lot of great players by hitting .307 in '63 which earned him 3rd place in the AL batting race.

These 3 cards are really nice as far as I'm concerned, with the only blemish courtesy of someone who either wasn't a Tigers or an Al Kaline fan.

Only 4 hitters above .300 in the!

Even though Kaline's name is crossed out, I don't plan on replacing this or any of the three cards in this row.

Even with #4 being a bit off center, and #8 having the red line through Kaline's name on the back, I still think this is a great page to look at when I open the '64 binder. 

I'm looking forward to doing a lot of posts like this from the sets I have completed or am near completing, such as '73, '75 and '77 Topps.  There's also quite a few sets that I have finished that aren't in binders that I may dust off and scan as well.   There's no telling what I might show off.

I think it'll be fun....

thanks for reading, Robert