Sunday, November 26, 2017

Cold Pizza

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone.  2018 is already judging me, wagging its crooked little finger  to remind me there are a lot of trades left from this summer to share.  Guess what 2018?  It's not even December.

This summer certainly brought a lot of new trade packages to my lil neck of the woods.  Who could expect any breakdown to be a good and happy thing?   If it's a Baseball Card Breakdown, it's bound to have a happy ending.   Gavin sent a such large stash of cards it made choosing which to share a difficult process. 

The first scan is all Gavin!  He creates some of the best well-loved cards you'll find out there.  Here are two famous big bats in original shiny and aged vintage versions.  I have a few of Gavin's cards now and really should keep them together.  Currently they live among the PCs. 

Lots of Kaline which makes this gal happy!  Again, not all are shown because Gavin's generosity makes scanning a cumbersome activity.

A couple of beauties:  2002 Archives Reserves is a set worth building - fan favorites, HOFers -  all refractors.   2015 Cooperstown Collection ETCHED #d/25!  GAVIN! Thank you!  Hard to believe Panini hasn't done another Cooperstown series.  These are the players I am drawn to and most willing to purchase.  When I buy a HOF/Fan Favorite set, I know what I'm getting.   No Henry Owens to be found in Cooperstown.

There was a nice stack of Piazzas too.  2005 UD Fabrics and 1998 Ultra.  I don't have many Piazza Marlins since Mike spent only eight days in their uniform.  Perhaps another reason his Marlins' cards are difficult to find...THE HOARDER.  For only $75,000 I could own cards which include thirteen 1/1s!  Gotta wonder what he'd take for best offer.  At least shipping is free!

The gem of the entire trade package though was nothing shiny and contained no relic.  Just a simple card from the pizza place I loved most as a child - Shakey's.   I turned this card over, saw the logo and practically leaped from my chair.  I could smell the pizza, hear the player piano while sitting at a long table with barrels for chairs.  The first pizza I can ever recall eating and loved til it closed. Shakey's went out of business while I was in high school.

Food issues are some of my favorites but this pizza card shot to the top of the  fave foodie chart! I've wanted any Shakey's cards for a long while but never found them in my price range and  never thought I'd find one in a trade package!!


1975 Shakey's Pizza
This card is so mint it could be a reprint.  If it were a reprint, I wouldn't care.  Ty Cobb is the number one player in my PC collections.  If I could collect only one HOFer, it would be Tyrus.  Long live the deadball era!!  Shouted perhaps a bit too late.  

Only a Cobb beer card could make this Shakey's Pizza Cobb any better and only Gavin could create such a beauty.

Gavin, thank you!  It took so long to share, the pizza's now cold!  I assure you it's just as good as it was back in '75!

I offer a belated 'Blessed Thanksgiving' to all my blog and tweety buds!  Your presence makes this hobby all the more enjoyable.   If I weren't such a turkey, I would've offered thanks  a few days ago! Thanksgiving comes but once a year but gratitude is a daily practice!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Summer of 74

I was ten years old in the Summer of 74, sheltered and oblivious to the war, peace movements - most any news that wasn't pleasant.   I spent those months free from school, riding my purple bicycle with my most prized possessions in the flowered basket.  I took my comics books and Highlights magazines everywhere I went, which was really only three houses in either direction of my own. My mother was somewhat overprotective, so it seemed anyway.   If I close my eyes, that summer comes rushing back so easily. 

I discovered music that year and begged for a radio of my own. We had so little money that a radio of any kind was a sacrifice for my parents. But I was very specific and asked for this one:

Holy smokes, I got it!!  Picnicking at Lake Thunderbird, I listened the whole day long, carrying that little ball on a chain until the battery died. I didn't realize batteries had a very limited lifespan.  With this little radio by my ear, there were many songs I waited for: Band on the Run, I Shot the Sheriff, Billy Don't Be a Hero {I was ten...} The Show Must Go On.   Oh, how I still love this music!

But the one song that takes me back to that muddy red lake every single time is Rikki Don't Lose That Number.  Why that song in particular,  I don't know.  The bass line and chimes hold me spellbound.  Even now,  when hearing it on the radio I find myself at the lake - drinking Shasta cola, listening to Steely Dan on KOMA.   That was innocence.  My mom would die the following April.  The next year would leave my life forever changed and 1974 would be the last real summer of my childhood.  My father would make the first of many poor decisions that would eventually destroy our family.

When I came upon the blog Summer of 74, it was a magnet.  I can't see this blog's name without feeling the emotions associated with 1974.  Author and Brewers' fan,  Matt Prigge began his blog in February 2017 focusing on the quest to have as many of his 74 Topps cards signed as  possible.  He's become an active trader, hosting contests, and winning over readers with his charm - and pictures of his pet rats.  Matt initiated a  trade with me, dropping a Tiger friendly package my way.

Autos: 2002 Total, 1998 Studio

I have over one hundred Catalanottos cards and two autographed, cracked game-used bats.  I plan to scale down the card collection.  If anyone else collects Frank, speak up.  Most show him in the Rangers uni.  Studio was great in 98!  This card stays with me!

Matt included a nice mix of Verlanders and Miggs.   Red foil parallels from 2014 Topps are always appreciated.   I have very few 2016 Flakes, all from trades.  I managed to resist the virtually non-existent temptation to purchase this holiday release.

Let it be known - I'm a gold-digger.  Sensing this, Matt included a nice array of Topps Gold from 92, 94, 14, 15 and 17.   Wow!  What?  Mumbling in my ear - not real gold?   Yet another disappointment from Topps.  Doesn't Panini put real gems in their cards?  What?? Man-made?  NOOOOOOO!

Matt, thanks for reaching out!  I will enjoy these cards!!  Give the rats a chin scratch for me!

As for my little radio, it's long gone.  In attempts to piece my childhood together again, I found an identical, new-in-box Panapet on ebay a few years ago.  I still haven't put a battery in it.  As long as my radio is safe in the box, it's still 1974 and life is perfect.


Sunday, November 5, 2017

A 2017 Bowman Chrome Mystery

After receiving an unexpected package from Canada, I'm seeking assistance from our Blog Wonderland.  The return address is illegible.  Kitchener ON is all I can make out.  The city is familiar  to me but while going over my trade spreadsheet,  I found the address unrecorded.  Perhaps the thoughtful sender could message me with a name, address and related blog info if available, or a reader could leave a comment pointing me in the right direction.

rainy day delivery
The package contained 2017 Bowman Chrome Tigers.  Five base cards:

Three refractors:

with a Hometown Hero to aide them in their journey to Michigan:

Verlander/150   Miggy/499
One gorgeous rookie auto:

I must admit Bowman looks good on Chrome.  The paper release did nothing for me. The cards are thick, sharp and shiny!   I'd like to offer proper recognition but am somewhat handicapped.  My memory isn't  what it once was - and wasn't great then.  

Step forward, reveal yourself; oh mystery trader!!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


The time for tricks and treats is upon us this Halloween night.  Some believe in ghosts and apparitions.  Others fear the undead walk in our midst.   Are these possibilities?   The only ghosts I’m familiar with are those of chance.  The Tigers have a ghost of a chance to win a World Series in 2018.   2019.  2020.  2021.   Their blown opportunities over the last few years will haunt this team many more to come.

Another recent departure is featured here tonight.   Perhaps Mr. Cub is playing two a day every day, now that he’s passed from mortal existence.  It’s said heaven is what we make of it.   This post isn’t meant to suggest Ernie is still with us in any form other than spirit.  The title above is somewhat misleading, or isn’t it?

A couple of weeks ago, I received this gorgeous card in the mail.  I do collect Mr. Banks.  Who could possibly have sent this?    A 2017 A&G  Ernie Banks RIP card, numbered to 60 that had yet to be ripped?   What might be inside this gem?  Only one way to know - agreed?

 I held it only briefly, just long enough to realize what it should have been.  RIP cards are generally not in my budget but I do collect as many Altuve as my wallet allows.  The design on this year’s Ripper was particularly appealing so I was content to pick up a clean, gently torn copy of the pretty good second baseman.   A check on Ebay tracking showed Altuve had been delivered that same day.  Clearly, this was a case of mistaken identity. 

I'm sure there are a few buyers who would say Tough luck, Seller.  They would keep and rip a card knowing it didn’t belong to them.  The thought never crossed my mind.   After admiring the card for a few minutes, I emailed the seller.  I’m not sure how long it'd have taken him to notice the error because he’d never listed the Banks card.  This was intended for his collection.  Mr. Cub was not meant for the market.  The seller replied to say he was obviously out of his mind when he shipped it to me.   I’ve been out of mine a time or two and understood his possible concerns.   Would he get his card back?  What kind of feedback could he expect?   The seller was grateful for my message and willingness to work this out without ebay assistance.  He sent Altuve along with a few dollars to cover Ernie’s safe return.   Altuve arrived Friday just as I was going out of town for the weekend. 

We shared a most pleasant exchange regarding the hobby and collecting in general.   I added him to my favorite seller’s list, just in case he wanted to send another fancy card my way some day.  As for the seller’s intention with the Banks card, he said it would remain unripped.  

After an all too brief visit, Mr. Banks passes to his next destination.  How long he remains there, only the seller knows.   RIP Ernie Banks!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

He's Pretty Good!

Did you file a tax extension?  I work for a large accounting firm whose clients mostly extend.  I've had time to sneek peaks at Twitter  {how did I manage w/o Twitter?}  and read a few of your posts during some down time.  After spending endless daytime hours {are daytime hours endless?} on a computer, posting hasn't been a top priority.  Going to bed early has won out every time!  The final deadline looms with Oct 16th.  Quality time on the blogs is just around the corner!

The Tigers' 2017 season was over months ago.  I am still a fan {it's too much trouble to redesign the blog} but do follow the Astros heavily.  Altuve has been one of my favorite players in the game since I returned to the hobby in 2012.  He had a lot to do with it actually.   Altuve - smiling, joking and playing to win - made collecting a worthy and fun endeavor once more.  

I learned a painful lesson in the 90s with prospecting.  Not once did I get it right. Here are just a few examples:

For each of these cards there were nearly all possible variations stored away in a closet - refractors, autographs, parallels - all waiting for the pay-off.  These players alone filled a 1000 count box. Ouch. All are still waiting but not in my collection.  During my summer clean up, most went to the Salvation Army along with dupes and commons. 

In 2012, Altuve became the one to build my new collection around.  Other young players I enjoy by keeping cards pulled or received in trades.  A smiling Altuve drove me to ebay and COMC.  I began picking up his first cards rather inexpensively.  I don't recall ever spending more than $6-10 for any higher end cards.  There are more limited versions of his rookies but I'm happy with what I own.  If I were to begin collecting today, most Altuve RCs would already be out of my price range. 

While working to organize his cards, I put the rookies together and found these pleasant surprises:

2010 Lexington Legends, several versions of 2011 Bowman
2011 Topps base, cognac    2011 Bowman Sterling base, refractor

2010 Bowman Chrome - base, purple and X
Since 2012, I've amassed several hundred Altuves including autos, fancy patches and cards #'d to ten, five and one.  None of these cards were purchased with any thought given to future value.  This is what makes the hobby work for me.   It doesn't hurt however, that Altuve is pretty good!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Balls or No Balls: Baseball Stars 1910, 1930

Attempts to create a clever post may lead to my unemployment. I googled things with balls on my employer-owned laptop.   As old and wise as I am, or perhaps should be, I lean towards the naive at times. The results were not to my liking, so I'll get right to the point.

Since embracing the Twitter feed, I've discovered yet another creative fellow who designs his own cards.  Let me introduce you to Gio, a man obsessed.  If you've been around awhile, perhaps you're already reading his blog When Topps Had Balls. His first post went up in 2013.  He's been creating cards in 70s style ever since, often rectifying cardboard history.  Cards that should have been now are. Gio produces a magazine too, offering up a healthy dosing of these cards, with the latest issue based on Nicknames.   I've missed out on past issues but this one is not getting past me!

image courtesy of  When Topps Had Balls blog
Gio took it upon himself to relieve us of the Topps doldrums, creating a set of cards based on 1930s George C. Miller and Tattoo Orbits designs.  He ordered 25 sets from the printer and offered them up via blog and twitter.  I happened upon them while twittering away a Saturday afternoon. Now safely in possession of my own set, I'm willing to share them with you. May I present Baseball Stars of 1930 Series One:

Much care went into packaging and card stock selection which is thick and perfectly cut.

image courtesy of When Topps Had Balls blog
No two cards share the same color and background combination:

EYE-POPPING!  I want these cards in a binder but value them so highly, they are currently locked up in the safe!  I'd hardly put these away when Gio did it again.  This trip takes us back another twenty years to the Baseball Stars of 1910 Series Two, a different design entirely, also limited to 25 sets. The packaging was a burlap bag tied off with a baseball stamped tag.  Yes, he created the stamps too, along with a personalized cancellation.  This set includes an authentic 1910 cigarette insert - silk, leather patch or card. 

As you can see, my package contained a silk Flag of Uruguay! The cards are printed on smooth, 19 point stock, about half the size of a business card.

I hope Series Three is in the works!  During the Great Reorganization of 2017, I found my collection growing older - older players.  The majority are either retired or deceased.  These sets are a natural fit.  Affording original cards from the Deadball Era through the 1940s isn't my reality. 

If you like what you see here, follow Gio on Twitter @wthballs for the opportunity to purchase his magazine, or perhaps a future card release.  These were so reasonably priced, shipping included.  It does take cajones to finance your own creations and risk negative criticism.  I can't recall a time when Topps took hobby feedback into consideration and actually made their products better or fewer. Perhaps the day will come but for now it's the same old neutered Topps.    

Monday, August 28, 2017

Bo Knows

I fully enjoy blind trades but appreciate a fellow collector who takes the time to go over the want ads. This can be a challenge, especially when the prospective recipient has a long and very detailed list or spreadsheet with several tabs.  I have trouble reading small print anyway.  It's the 'in my face with your highly organized collection'  moments I find difficult.  

Bo Rozny is one of those guys.  A real Mr. Organization.  I hope to be like him some day, minus the Mister parts.  He found some cards missing from my list of completed Tiger team sets then blessed me with many new additions:

2001 UD Vintage
 During Upper Deck's we will use Topps copyrighted designs period, they put out some really great stuff!  The Vintage release made for some good-looking cardboard.

2006 and 2011 Bowman Heritage

2001 Bowman Heritage
We should wonder why there's no current Bowman Heritage product available with so many new years available now for reprinting.  I'll likely regret that comment in days to come.

BO hit my PCs too:

94 Pinnacle, 2001 UD Evolution, 2002 Fleer Maximum, 2015 GQ

After opening what was easily a case of these, I still love the look of 94 Pinnacle.  Their Dufex Museums were a great chase.   A nice grouping of Piazzas!

Included in the box were at least 50 Masterpieces from 2008.  Looks like I'll have to put the set together now.  Bo insists.

There were two more special cards, both from 1994.  This package from Bo arrived just a short time before Darren passed.

Bo knows baseball cards come to life.  Thanks to cardboard, Darren lives on.    Check out BO's blog for a look at where former players are today.