Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Unlicensed sets typically bore me. I know many of my fellow bloggers love the oddball cards, but a photo of George Brett wearing a plain blue hat and a generic white jersey with blue trim is terribly anticlimactic after pages upon pages of action shots.

So what to do when MLB pulls your baseball license, as they did with Upper Deck? You revive an old brand to compete with Allen & Ginter, of course.

Inevitably, this leads to obscure, overpainted photos...
2012 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions #180 Ozzie Smith SP a very young Ozzie Smith trying to catch a wayward batting helmet...

2012 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions #113 Steve Carlton
...Steve Carlton making a call, likely not to the bullpen...

2012 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions #9 Nick Faldo
...and British golf legend Nick Faldo with a properly straight left arm.

But the real gems were the ones that appealed to my geeky side. For example, a card of fellow geek Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer.

2012 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions #8 Steve Wozniak
Look how excited he is about the idea of mobile computing!

But the best one from this blaster (part of my Dave & Adam's Card World shopping spree) has to be this one of moon-walker Alan Bean.

2012 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions #30 Alan Bean
Alan Bean was the Lunar Module Pilot (LMP) of Apollo 12, and the fourth man to walk on the moon. This is a detail from a group shot of the whole crew, and he's standing in front of a mockup of the LEM that he would pilot to land on another world.

When I first composed this post, I couldn't help but wonder if all twelve astronauts that have walked on the moon have been honored on a trading card. Besides this Bean and Buzz Aldrin, which I've shown on this blog before, the only other one that comes to mind is a card from another American Pie set - this one with a photo of Dave Scott, taken during Apollo 15.

A little Googling led me to this post of Fuji's, and it turns out that a whole set of Apollo-era astronauts was produced during the overproduction years. That set is the only one so far to immortalize some of our lesser-known Apollo astronauts like Charlie Duke and Gene Cernan on cardboard. I can assure you that I'd chase a 12-card insert set of those brave pioneers.

Now that China and India are firmly on the list of spacefaring nations, and American private industry is picking up where NASA left off, perhaps we'll start to see a resurgence of interest in the history and future of our space program.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Adam, you won!

I just got back from quite an enjoyable afternoon at the monthly 5280 card show. You might recall that I did a couple posts earlier this summer documenting a previous trip. The girlfriend is out in Seattle this weekend for the International Food Blogger Conference (We both cute!), so that left my afternoon open to mingle with fellow collectors and sports nuts.

I've been to quite a few shows, but this may have been one of the best trips ever. So get ready for my longest post thus far.

As usual, I headed for Christian's table first. As we were chatting and catching up, he suddenly exclaimed "Oh, Adam. You won last month's drawing!" and proceeded to hand me a sleeve of three autographed cards.

2007 Topps Moments & Milestones Milestone Autographs #MA-GA Garrett Atkins (AU)
This autograph is a little faded, and this is the first card I've seen from the gargantuan Moments and Milestones set that didn't have a serial number, but it's a Rockie and was free! To give a bit of background, every $30 you spend with a dealer gets you a raffle ticket. The other two were of a basketball player and a Denver Bronco. I promptly flipped these to another dealer at the show, which covered 20% of a stack of singles I picked out.

Christian is getting a pretty good idea of what I collect, as he had a showcase of late-80s mini-sets in their original packaging; mostly Donruss Rookies, Topps Traded, Fleer Update, things of that nature. Common, sure, but inexpensive, small, and mint! I hardly had any of these as a kid, as they just didn't seem to show up in my LCS or the Wal-Mart card aisle at the time.

1987 Donruss Rookies #5 Ellis Burks (XRC)
More interestingly, he had a 400-count box with a near-complete set of 1953 Topps Archives, which I believe is only the second reprint set in Topps history. I remember one of these was the front card in a "collector's kit" at Wal-Mart when I was a kid, and was impressed enough at the time to follow through with a purchase of that repack which came with one of those 80-card mini binders.

1991 Topps Archives 1953 #37 Eddie Mathews
While perusing Christian's table, he introduced me to another one of his regulars, a Cubs fan named Paul, who carried a black binder full of autographed cards. Most of that binder contained Rockies and Cubs, but every last one of those cards he got autographed in person, with a story to tell for each one. This Bill Mueller was at the Cubs Convention last year, that Addison Reed was after such-and-such Spring Training game, etc.... It certainly sounded like spring training is the place to be if you're after autographs.

There was plenty more to see at the show, and this time I ventured to a few other tables besides my regular spots. I picked up a 1990 Upper Deck factory set and a 1993 Rangers Stadium Club team set from a gentleman named Tom for $13. And at another table, a real highlight. These are now the oldest cards in my collection by four years, and they're 1955 Bowmans!

1955 Bowman #201 Allie Reynolds
I can't wait to show this to my dad. He collected these as a child, and as a Yankees fan, it's entirely possible he had Yankee righty Allie Reynolds in his own collection. The other three were Don Newcombe, Preacher Roe, and Carl Furillo. Not quite Hall-of-Famers, but well-known stars from an iconic set at $5 each.

Next, Adam had a table full of ten-cent cards, and I parked myself in front of one of the baseball boxes, right next to a fellow collector named Vince who I've seen for each of the past few months. Adam keeps his cards pretty well divided by sport, which is fortunate since Vince only collects football, and I only baseball. That allows us to sit and chat while digging for gems without having to be on top of each other the whole time. Of course, there are always a handful of stowaways from other sports in a baseball box, and vice-versa, so Vince and I separate those out and make sure that the other has a chance to see them before they go into the correct box. It's quite a sight, really.

Anyway, I had picked out a pretty large stack of cards, and even at the "disregard the price tag" prices that Adam offers, I was really getting up there. I thought it might be worth asking for a price on the entire 5000-count box, and after a little haggling, I walked away with the whole thing for $80.

2007 Topps Own The Game #OTG15 Justin Morneau
Given that this box seemed to have everything from shiny inserts like the above to foil-laden commons from the '90s below, I figured that it would save time (and potentially help out the collections of my dear readers) to just get the whole thing. Adam was happy to let me mix-and-match from a couple other boxes, since I really didn't have much interest in the giant stacks of Bowman. That brand has lost quite a bit of its allure for me since the 1955 set.

1993 Marlins Team Stadium Club #13 Jeff Conine
Coincidentally, while I was at Adam's table, I saw a tweet pop up in my feed from Nick at Dime Boxes, who confirmed that a shipment I sent arrived to him today. It's the first shipment I've sent his way since I won his contest back in January, and I can't wait to see what he chooses to highlight from that "UD-dominated" box.

And to top it all off, when I got home and checked the mail, there was another box of cards waiting for me from Pat at Hot Corner Cards. Night Owl recently referred to a team set giveaway that Pat was doing, so I promptly clicked over and picked the Cubs in exchange for a shipment of Tigers. Pat even threw in a few Rockies for me! More importantly, the contents of that box gives me the material for my first-ever trade post, coming soon! Yes, I did two posts from the spoils of Nick's giveaway, but that wasn't really a trade post. All I did was put my name into a virtual hat, and now Infield Fly Rule exists.

This hobby is really fun. And now that the craze of twenty years ago died down long ago, the few that are left in it are the ones who really want to be here.

1992 Topps Gold Winners #61 Paul O'Neill
Just like this Topps Gold card, I feel like a winner.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Shiny Object!

​Unsurprisingly, given the universal allure of shiny objects, the first box I finished opening from last week's shopping spree was a blaster of 2013 Topps Chrome, containing 32 cards.

2013 Topps Chrome #96 Yoenis Cespedes
Cadillacs and Buicks of the 1950s led us all to equate chrome with a silver color. I'm glad to see that the borders of 2013 Chrome match that bias, as several previous years used yet another white border. Even in their flagship set, Topps has only given us a non-white border once in the last decade, so I welcome the variety.

Incidentally, I don't believe Topps has ever done a flagship set with full-bleed photos. Upper Deck gave that a whirl 20 years ago, and I'd say it's long overdue. Or at least put a player photo on the back again. It's almost like Upper Deck never existed.

But I digress. Back to the blaster. One of the eight packs was a plain, unmarked silver foil, clearly calling attention to itself as the "bonus pack". Inside were four of these purple refractors.

2013 Topps Chrome Purple Refractors #154 Nick Franklin
Though it would have been ideal to find a Rockie in this pack (or anywhere in the blaster), despite the purple not being quite the Rockies' shade, they're pretty cards and the group of four will stand out in a binder.

Speaking of binders, one of the two insert cards was of the die-cut variety, from the same set that Nick at Dime Boxes wrote about last week, in fact. His post pointed out how challenging it can be to place these into a standard 9-pocket page.

2013 Topps Chrome Chrome Connections Die Cuts #CC-AB Adrian Beltre
I have to agree, though this card certainly is...different. And fragile. Sure, it's on thick Chrome card stock, but that is an awful lot of corners that could get dinged. I bet that using a couple of standard cards as a "sandwich" then removing them once they're in the page would help save that exotic die cut design.

The other insert was significantly less fragile.

2013 Topps Chrome 1972 Chrome #72C-AP Albert Pujols
The psychedelic, disco-era 1972 design it's one of just a handful from the '70s that I can identify at a single glance. All the white borders and horizontal chevrons found during that decade just blend together.

Looking ahead, 2014 Chrome was released quite recently. I'm sure it'll be a while before those start showing up in the clearance section. But at least they're silver.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Man Overboard

I went a little crazy on an online shopping spree at Dave & Adam's Card World recently.

The Haul
What you see there includes unopened 1995 Collector's Choice, a couple early Score factory sets, Topps Traded sets that are surprisingly uncommon in the usual channels, lots of Opening Day, and even some rarities like Goodwin and Topps Chrome.

I hadn't planned on getting this much, but surpassing that free-shipping threshold just became too big a temptation. I haven't even come close to opening everything yet. In fact, I've been rationing, as opening a pack of Opening Day is quite a fun (and calorie-free) alternative to cruising by the fridge again.

I have run across a couple of early highlights, like this card from one of Night Owl's favorite insert sets. It even made his "Awesome Night Cards" showcase.

2011 Topps Opening Day Stadium Lights #UL-2 Troy Tulowitzki
Coors Field Card! Though the details of the stadium are a little tough to discern, the relief surface of the card was a welcome surprise. The texture reminds me of the mid-90s Fleer Ultra Gold Medallion parallels, though these are clearly quite a bit more understated. The numbering leads one to believe that Topps was planning on calling this insert set "Under the Lights" but had a change of heart late in the production process.

Relevant to today's game, when the Rockies unsurprisingly lost to Adam Wainwright, here's the Cardinals' ace in full throwback gear.

2011 Topps Opening Day #151 Adam Wainwright
Sharp eyes might notice an error, not to mention a slightly odd-looking Photoshop job on the jersey lettering, as the star pitcher is listed as an outfielder on the bottom of this card. That's not surprising, as the foil-free treatment of 2011 Opening Day renders the position quite difficult to read.

Finally, longtime collectors might recall a few of Charlie Hayes' 1995 issues, which depict him wearing a football-like faceguard after he was hit in the face by a Salomon Torres pitch mid-season.

1995 Upper Deck Collector's Choice SE #207 Charlie Hayes
Given what happened to Giancarlo Stanton and Chase Headley yesterday, we might start seeing more protective masks like this in the not-too-distant future. I wish them both a speedy recovery from those scary hit by pitch plays.

The weather in Colorado has gotten quite wintry in recent days. Sorting through these packs and sets during the upcoming cold months will surely remind me of summer.