24 November 2015

Another NASCAR Season Ends: 2014 Press Pass Total Memorabilia Danica Patrick Quad Relic

I took a day off from blogging yesterday. It was my birthday, but that didn't really keep me from blogging. I got a big lot of M.U.S.C.L.E. figures in the mail and it took me a couple of hours to get them cleaned up. For the most part they weren't too dirty, but I like to give them a quick bath in some Simple Green and give them a scrub with a toothbrush. That also allows me to check for missing / broken parts and other damage that might get overlooked. Tonight I will probably sort them into the collection, marking off my checklist and setting aside any doubles for distribution to my kids.

I was able to watch this week's NASCAR race, the Ford Ecoboost 400, which ended with Kyle Busch as the winner of the race and the overall season champion. My kids were happy to see the M&M's car on the TV so much. The other cars they liked were the McDonald's car and the Target car, but the M&M's vehicle is definitely their top choice in any race. I was pulling for Jeff Gordon to win it all in his last race, but he wasn't running well enough to catch the leaders and finished in 6th place after spending most of the race in the 10th-12th spots. Some of the other drivers I follow, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Josh Wise, had altercations with cars and walls and fell to the bottom of the pack, although both were still running when the race ended. Josh Wise's accident at least served to get some screen time for him and his sponsors, as the cars at the back of the pack don't often get on the screen at all during a broadcast.

Danica Patrick, the subject of this post, started in 35th and ran a lot of the race in the mid-teens before falling back through the field and finishing in her usual mid-twenties finish at 24th. That's not a bad finish, really, but I wonder if she'll ever move into the next tier of drivers with an average finish somewhere better than 20th place? The card in this post is a pretty nifty one, although it didn't scan all that well due to the fact that it is rolling in holofoil. It comes from the 2014 Press Pass Total Memorabilia set and features four relic swatches, all of them multi-colored. Clockwise from the upper left are a firesuit piece, a bit of sheet metal, a swatch of shirt, and a fragment from a glove. This is the Melting parallel and it is numbered # 15 / 25. The card popped up on my feed as a Buy It Now for about $10 less than I would expect the bidding to reach on something like this, so I hit the button and made it mine.

And that marks the end of the NASCAR season. I've still got one or two NASCAR cards to post about. I may save them for the start of the 2016 season or I may get impatient and post them sooner. I'm nowhere near a hardcore fan, but I do like to follow a few drivers and watch a handful of races during the year.

22 November 2015

Junior Junkie's Best Page Challenge


The Junior Junkie recently posted a challenge to create the best binder page possible from your collection and share it with the world (or at least the sports card blog-reading world). Coming up with my page was pretty easy to come up with, but it was a little bit harder than I thought it would be to fill out all nine slots. I started thinking that I could probably do a complete page for many of my mini-collections, like sketch cards, Star Wars, wrestling, baseball, basketball, maybe football, and some of my player collections. There are some notable (to me) cards that didn't make the cut. Some of the cards that did make the cut aren't 100% secure in their spots. But if I tried to make a definitive best page it would get posted 15 years from now and no one would know what I was talking about when I linked back to The Junior Junkie's post from 2015. This is the best page from my collection that I could come up with after a couple days of thinking about it and about 35 minutes sorting through boxes to find cards. I also didn't scan them into a binder page because the relic cards wouldn't fit and I was nervous in general about putting these cards in and out of pages, sleeves, and top loaders. These are the best 9 cards in my collection, after all.

  • I considered putting Hakeem Olajuwon's rookie card on the page, but I think his second-year 1987-88 Fleer card is probably more important to me. When I was a teenager and heavily into basketball card collecting, his 1986-87 Fleer Rookie card booked for between $100 and $200. It was unattainable. The local shop had his 1987-88 card in the display case for $30 + tax, and I eventually saved up enough money to buy it. After bringing it home I realized that it had soft corners and a light crease and probably wasn't worth a quarter of what I paid for it, but it was still a second-year Hakeem Olajuwon card and the centerpiece of my collection. Now you can get them for a buck or two all day long, and you can even get a PSA 9 copy for less than $20 shipped. But this card will always be special just because I saved up for so long and felt so much excitement leading up to the purchase of the card. I may or may not track down a 'better' copy some day.
  • This Hakeem Olajuwon relic / auto comes from a set so high-end it gets delivered in a briefcase instead of a cardboard box, 2012-13 Panini Flawless. It is easily the most valuable Olajuwon card in my collection and also my only Olajuwon autograph. He actually signed these cards twice, once on the card and once on the relic swatch. I doubt this will be surpassed in the near future as the centerpiece of my Olajuwon collection.
  • Card # 3 in my binder page is the only Superfractor in my collection. More importantly, it is the jewel in my Josh Reddick 2013 Topps Super Rainbow. The same photo was used for his cards across several different products in 2013, so I decided to build a multi-product rainbow of parallels. You can see the current rainbow in it's entirety here. I am still missing some cards, but I've got 38 different variations so far. Most of what I'm missing is 1 / 1 's, printing plates, and a few # / 5 and maybe some # / 10 cards. I overpaid for this card, but I 'needed' it.

  • This was my first Carrie Fisher autograph, and it is still the best one I've got. It's a sticker autograph from the 2013 Topps Star Wars: Jedi Legacy set. I would love to get one of the on-card ones like the ones she signed for Masterwork or Chrome, but I don't have $250-350 just sitting around right now for that. If I were to add one of those to my collection they would bump this one from the page.
  • The infamous C-3PO # 207 error card from 1977 Topps Star Wars was one of the borderline cards for this page, but I needed something with a bit of a laugh factor on my page. These aren't particularly rare, but they sell pretty consistently at a premium. If you haven't noticed it yet, the error is that C-3PO happens to be sporting an extra-long golden probe at his waistline. There are various stories that attempt to explain the origins of the error. Some say that a piece fell off the costume just as the photographer took the picture. Some assert that it was a trick of the light. Some even think a mischievous or vindictive Topps employee painted the wang onto the photo prior to sending the set to print. C-3PO's golden member caused an uproar and the error was corrected in later print runs. No matter how the error was caused, this card makes me laugh every time I see it and that propels it to a spot on the page. Other candidates for this spot were a 2013 Topps Star Wars: Jedi Legacy relic piece from Jabba the Hutt's Sail Barge and a Shield Bunker relic from 2015 Star Wars Masterwork.
  • The final card on this row is a card that I sought out for a very long time before Zippy Zappy found a copy and directed me to the seller who had it. It's a Foil Rare card of R.A. Dickey from 2013 SEGA Card-Gen, a card set dispensed in Japan by an arcade game that used the cards as playing pieces. I had obtained quite a few SEGA Card-Gen cards, but this one was a bear to track down. For that reason it is probably my most-loved R.A. Dickey card and my most favorite SEGA Card-Gen card. That's good enough to put it on this page as a representative of both collections.

  • Putting two NASCAR cards on this page seems a little like overkill, especially since I don't have any football cards on here and the other sports are a bit short, too. In the end I couldn't decide on a football or baseball card that would definitively bump either of these cards off the list, so I kept them both here. The first one is an auto / relic of Danica patrick from 2014 Press Pass Five Star. It's got a nice clean autograph and a big piece of firesuit with part of the GoDaddy logo on it. I'm thinking the relic could be part of the collar of the firesuit, but it may come from the sleeve or the chest or really just about anywhere, as there seem to be 7 or 8 different GoDaddy patches on her firesuits. That will change soon as GoDaddy dropped from her list of primary sponsors and got replaced by Nature's Bakery. I'll miss the bright green color scheme but it will at least be something different to collect as soon as someone picks up the NASCAR trading card license.
  • The second card is nearly a Holy Grail of NASCAR for me. It's got sheet metal relic pieces from the cars arguably my four favorite drivers embedded in it. The reason I call it nearly a Holy Grail card is that there is an autograph version featuring signatures from all these drivers. That card would be an awesome addition to my collection, but I think the cheapest I've ever seen it on the market was over $800. The card has Dale Earnhardt Jr., Danica Patrick, Jeff Gordon, and Tony Stewart on it. That's some pretty good star power. This memorabilia version is a very good place holder against the day when I get that other card. This card comes from the 2010 Press Pass Showcase set. I actually have another version of this card, but this one made the cut because it's a parallel with a lower print run.
  • The last card on the page is a nod to an iconic wrestling figure on an iconic card design, Hulk Hogan on a Precious Metal Gems card. This card was only issued to Upper Deck employees as a special incentive card and was limited to a print run of 125 copies. There were some other sports figures in the set, like Tiger Woods, Mike Tyson, and Michael Phelps, but the Hulkster was the one I wanted. I actually wound up buying a lot of four of these because it was much cheaper per unit than singles were at the time. I have since sold two of them, but haven't got around to selling the third one. I think I made my money back on the two sales, so there isn't a lot of pressure to get that one out the door. Recently one of the ones I'd sold popped up on eBay with a BGS 9.0 slab on it. I don't think the guy made any money off of it after accounting for grading fees, eBay fees, and shipping. The Hulkster's star has lost some shine over the last year or two, but he is the one guy who really represents the totality of professional wrestling during my youth. This Precious Metal Gems card is one of my favorite cards and is easily the centerpiece of my WWF/WWE collection. I thought about putting a Japanese wrestling card in this spot, but I don't have one single card that represents my collection as an extension of myself as well as this one does.
And that's it for my own best 9-card page of cards in my collection. There were a couple of notable snubs, a couple of gut calls, and plenty of nostalgia and fun as I sorted through my cards trying to pick the 'best' ones from my collection. In the end I think I am pretty comfortable with my choice. One big category of card that I left out was sketches. I have quite a few sketches and I have favorites among them, but I would have difficulty putting one of them above the others. I thought it would be better just to leave them out. I felt bad that some of my favorite players got excluded, like Gheorghe Muresan, Munenori Kawasaki, Jon Singleton, and Manute Bol, but I didn't have cards from them that could bump these other cards from the list. That was in large part due to some of the cards on my page filling roles in several categories, like R.A. Dickey's card being a key card in that player collection as well as representing SEGA Card-Gen on the page.

21 November 2015

Just the Commons, Ma'am 9: Rich 'Goose' Gossage Instant Player Collection

One thing I like to do to get a nice player collection started is go onto the Just Commons website, search for the player's name, and add everything that's reasonably priced to my cart. I did that with Mario Mendoza and a couple of times with Jon Singleton. They split out some of their sets by condition, and because I'm not a details guy I will wind up with duplicates like those 1980 Topps cards on the lower right of the scan. I basically just go down the search list and add anything under $0.50 or so. Anything higher than that will get a short glance and a decision one way or the other. This time I built a quick Rich 'Goose' Gossage collection. I even picked up his 1973 Topps rookie card, although it is not in great shape. It must have been cheap! Filling out this scan are a couple different sizes of 1975 Topps and what I think is a 1976 SSPC issue.

I'm not sure how that Nolan Ryan / J.R. Richard card got in there, but there it is. Like I said, I'm not a details guy when it comes to this process, so I got three different Rich Gossage / Rollie Fingers Leading Firemen cards from the 1979 Topps set. A contributor to the duplication problem is that the shopping cart on the site is a visual mess, so it is hard to see what exactly you've got in your cart and make adjustments. I'd rather order a couple extra cards and be out a dollar or two than sort through that mess.

Apparently duplication was a problem for me with the 1979 Topps set. Oh well. One of them might be a Burger King variation; maybe the one with the red banner. We still haven't reached the mustache years, but they are coming. I was going to say that 1981 Donruss card marks the first non-Topps card in this post, but the SSPC up above would make that a lie. It does mark the first year I was alive, though, but in all likelihood the set was released a few months before I actually entered the scene.

This is a colorful bunch of cards, with a couple of O-Pee-Chee cards sneaking into the mix. I do like that Super Veteran card in the bottom row.

I think these were all from an early-80's sticker set. They were a different size, so they got their own scan in this post. At first glance the one in the middle and the foil one look like they could be duplicate photos, but the pose is different.

This scan features a nice variety of cards with Gossage in a Padres uniform. He is probably most famous as a Yankee, but he had some pretty long stints with a couple of other teams. I especially like that 1986 Sportflics card, although it is the one that scans most poorly. The 1985 Donruss in the upper left is probably my second choice out of this batch. I never like the Classic brand cards. The ones I got for my basketball collection always seemed cheap and second-rate. They were usually damaged right out of the pack, with poorly-cut edges and bad corners, along with poor photo selection and design. Maybe other people had different experiences with them, but I didn't like Classic.

We're now approaching the cards I might have been aware of in my youth, as I really got my start with 1989 and 1990 Topps, but accumulated some cards from the surrounding years as well. The woodgrain 1987 Topps cards stand out as ones I definitely had a few of in my youth.

Posts like this usually sit in my queue for months because I have a hard time getting through so many paragraphs. I've been working most of the day on getting this post done, and I am making very slow progress without even really saying much. My kids have been off the wall all day and I've been running back and forth dealing with their issues. I love my kids, but they sure know how to make my Saturday disappear without anything to show for it but a bad attitude.

For whatever reason the set I most associate with the smell of baseball card gum is 1989 Topps. Something about that set just brings that smell and taste to mind right away. I don't have a particular memory to tie that sensation to, but it must be locked in there somewhere in my subconsciousness.

That card in the upper left commemorates 24 JUL 1991, when Nolan Ryan recorded his 308th win and Gossage his 308th save in the same game. That's a pretty cool moment, although it looks like Gossage had a pretty rough season overall. Ryan was still dealing pretty well in 1991, though. I also like that leaf card, with the baseball hanging out there in the foreground. 

The Leaf card in the previous scan started the rush of parallels, and there will be quite a few of them over the next couple of scans. This one features a Topps Gold Winners parallel and a Score Gold Rush parallel. It looks like the Gold Winners cards were part of some kind of redemption program. I don't know. I wasn't really aware of 1992 Topps at the time.

One set I really liked during the heyday of my collecting in the mid-90's was Upper Deck's Collector's Choice brand. The packs were pretty cheap and the photography was great, with a lot of fun shots. I wasn't really into baseball cards at that time, though. I was buying basketball cards. I always liked getting the Silver Signature cards, even though I never pulled anyone that was any good. I'd say that Collector's Choice is the brand from my youth that I miss the most. Probably the closest thing to it these days is Topps Opening Day, but that is too much of a reprint (pre-print?) of the base Topps set to really compare to the niche that Collector's Choice filled.

That card in the middle seems a lot like Upper Deck was trying to be Stadium Club. I guess you can't blame them. Stadium Club was a nice-looking set a lot of the time.

Here's all the newer stuff. That 1973 Topps in the middle row must be a reprint of some kind, maybe a Cards Your Mom Threw Out card? I still don't really know where the Obak cards came from. I'm sure they are a reprint of an earlier set, but I am not familiar with the early set or which company printed the new ones. I guess it'll remain a mystery until I go out and research it. There are a couple of Archives and Gypsy Queen cards in here, too.

And that's it for this batch. Outside of a break between ~1998 and ~2008 (I'm going by memory here, so the estimate might be off by a couple of years in either direction) this player collection runs from 1973 to 2015, or over 40 years of cardboard history. I'm sure there are Gossage cards from the missing time period, but I didn't collect during that time frame and Just Commons didn't have any cards available from that time. It makes sense that he would start getting cards printed again in the 2008 range, as he got inducted into the Hall of Fame and collector interest probably picked up a bit. This lot was a pretty good addition to the Gossage autograph I picked up earlier this year.

20 November 2015

Wonder Woman Personal Sketch Card by Stacey Kardash

Recently a post popped up, possibly on one of the sketch card groups I follow on Facebook, announcing that artist Stacey Kardash was holding a sale in her Storenvy shop. I went and dug around and found this Wonder Woman sketch card. It's a pretty nice sketch. I like the colors, but unfortunately my scanner really wants to wash out huge sections of color and replace them with blank space. You should check out her Facebook and page and her shop to see some more artwork she's done.

Wonder Woman is one of my favorite comic book characters, but I don't add a lot of sketch cards featuring her because they just aren't available. There are at least one or two very dedicated Wonder Woman collectors out there, and they seem to snatch up most of the available stuff, often even before it hits the open market. Other people grab up the few cards that make it onto the market, so I consider myself pretty lucky when I can land a good one like this card here.

19 November 2015

Whale Hunting: 2013 Topps Opening Day R.A. Dickey Photo Variation

This is a card I've wanted ever since it was released in 2013. In the Opening Day set that year Topps featured players who changed teams in photo variations from the press conferences where they were introduced as members of the new organization. R.A. Dickey got a photo variation for his switch from the Mets to the Blue Jays. These were seeded 1:617 packs, so they were a pretty tough pull from a product that people probably didn't break a whole lot of.

This copy of the Dickey variation has been up on eBay for most of the last couple of years, always on my Watch List but priced well outside my comfort zone. Recently the seller put a discount on the card. It was still priced a fair bit higher than I wanted to pay for it but for a long time this has been the only copy readily available on the market, so I bought it. I'm happy that I finally pulled this whale (not sure whether to classify it as a white whale or a grey whale) into my collection, even with the price tag. Spending an extra couple of dollars now is probably better than watching that auction for another two years before giving in and buying the card.

Also, I just realized this is Post # 700 for me on this blog. Woohoo!

18 November 2015

2015 Topps Series 2 First Pitch Set

A month or two ago I picked up the final ten cards in the First Pitch insert set from 2015 Topps Baseball. These cards were released in Series 2, adding to the fifteen cards released with Series 1. I believe I also picked up the Series 1 set at some point, but I never blogged about it. The premise behind the set is that it features various people, usually celebrities, who have thrown the ceremonial first pitch at MLB games. The card fronts carry a decent amount of information, like the date and location of the appearance along with the person's name and a photo from the event. The card backs have a little write-up about the pitch, sometimes sugar-coating the more wayward tosses. There weren't really any subjects in the Series 2 set that I absolutely had to have, but they are a pretty solid group.

I should like Stan Lee more than I do, but he always has struck me as a bit full of himself. His work has undoubtedly been a big part of my life, though, to the point that I named two of my sons after comic book characters he co-created. Maybe without his personality and endless ability to self-promote we wouldn't have access to the library of Marvel characters. There are a lot of Giants, Cubs, and Dodgers in this set, but I guess that's to be expected. Although the Series 1 group had more cards that I was interested in, I think this is a pretty good insert that does something a little different from the usual cookie-cutter insert fare. It would be kind of cool to keep this going as an annual insert set as there are always new people throwing out first pitches. 

17 November 2015

Crisp and Reddick in Red

After I showed off the oversized Jon Singleton 5x7 Topps Red card I picked up from an eBay seller I went back and noticed that the guy had a bunch more cards listed from the set he was breaking. I put in a couple of minimum bids on some Oakland players I like, Coco Crisp and Josh Reddick. There weren't any competing bids on the cards, so I won them both. It looks like most of that seller's auctions have ended now, but there is another seller offering up team sets for $200-800 apiece, depending on the team. Both of these cards are numbered # 04 / 10. When they arrived the top loader had a ding in the top of it, and the cards were nicked up in that spot as well. You can see the divot in the Reddick card on the left side of the top edge there. That was a little irritating, but I guess I'll live with it. That's about all I've got for tonight. The Holiday Blahs seem to be settling in on me a little early this year. I need to find a way to combat the Grinchiness that pops up in my personality during the months of November and December.