Monday, January 21, 2019

Off Into The Sunset

The blogging community said goodbye to one of its best recently, but not before he threw a HUGE pack-ripping extravaganza and giveaway. I sent Wes, he of Jaybarkerfan's Junk/Rising Willingham/Area 40 fame, a little parting gift. I should not have been surprised when the most generous collector I know responded in kind.

Let's take a stroll through some of the Cubs goodness he sent my way.
 Per usual, Wes padded the numbers of my player collections. Above is my 922nd different Ryne Sandberg and 86th Cubs card of Brooks Kieschnick. Nice way to start!

Personally, I think we witnessed Panini's best rebooted Donruss design in 2018.
 It's simple and I really like the little wavy lines as a tribute to the 1984 design. I also believe the shininess Optic brings to the table adds a level of collectabilty to the brand.

Cubs rookie mojo!
 Baez proved me wrong last year by having a season I didn't think he was capable of. I'm crossing my fingers that this is the year Schwarber proves me right!

Rizzo gonna Rizzo.
As a fan, is there anything better when your team has a current player who epitomizes so much of what is right in MLB and the world today?

New Kris Bryant cards for the collection.
Honestly, I can count on one hand the number of Kris Bryant cards I have purchased, yet these two put me at 111 different Bryant cards in my binder. The generosity of the blogosphere knows no bounds.

It's a little known fact, but back in the day I was super-collecting two Cubs minor leaguers. ROCK SHOULDERS was one of them and the other guy was some dude named Dan Vogelbach. Maybe you have heard of him?

A few years ago much was made of Carl Edwards' slight frame, 6'3" and only 170 pounds, and how the Cubs were trying to get him to add weight.
His eyes in this photo . . . they seem to say, "I see you reaching for my cheeseburger."

Late 1980's Donruss!
Gracie and Mad Dog were two of the best to pass through Peoria on their way to stardom.

Pitchers who rake.
Believe it or not, I was a pitcher in high school who raked, 0.300+ average and 11 combined homers my junior and senior year. It didn't matter when I got to college as those numbers earned me three plate appearances in four years. lol

Mike Morgan's career spanned four different decades and he pitched for twelve different teams. He earned an All-Star appearance in 1991 with the Dodgers, but arguably his best year was with the 1992 Cubs.
Get a look at these numbers: 2.55 ERA, 16-8 W-L, 240 innings and only 14 homers given up, 1.17 WHIP. Mike Morgan put up those stellar numbers with a K/9 of only 4.6. The MLB average for K/9 in 2018 was 8.5. Wow, the game has changed.

DLee and Matt Stairs were two of my favorites from the previous decade.
  Stairs also played for twelve different teams during his career, and I'm sure he was a riot for all dozen of them.

I believe this one is a business card and/or advertising piece from Gypsy Oak, who is known for his baseball related artwork.
I'll add it to the Cub collection!

Oooooooh! Super-duper black parallel refractor mojo!
Matt Murton is one of Wrigley Field's fan favorites!

Vintage. Sweet, Vintage.
That is one well-loved Ernie Banks! And if you know me, then you know it'll be cherished in my collection!

The package finishes up with a couple of early 90s autos of Mike Bielecki and Shawon Dunston, Sr.
Bielecki and Dunston, were part of the magical 1989 Cubs team, which is my second favorite Cubs team of all time. You'd be correct if you guessed the 2016 team as the club at the top of the list. 

Wes, thank you for the remarkable package! It's been a pleasure, my friend!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Christmas in January

Peoria did not experience a white Christmas this year. We had two decent snows in November and one of those was fierce enough to force a "snow day" for all the local schools.

December? Nothing.

January? Ten inches fell last Saturday and another four this morning. And then I received this nice little package referencing Christmas in the mail.
So, I guess this is my white Christmas. 😂

I don't remember the last time Daniel and I put together a formal trade. I'll collect some Diamondbacks through random retail packs and dime boxes at card shows. Once I have enough to fill a bubble mailer, then off they go to It's like having my own Card Shop. Sometimes I'll check to see if the address is the same and other times I just cross my fingers as drop of the package at the post office.

I have this type of relationship with a dozen or so bloggers and I really enjoy the randomness of it all. Surprise cardboard can be the best type of cardboard!
 Wait, that's not cardboard. It's plastic! I have about a half-dozen graded cards in my collection and today that number gets a 50% bump!
First, this is very nice design and I enjoy Sammy showing off his sliding technique. Second, did you see the bat relic encased in plastic? That's different. Lastly,  the grade is "10 Mint or Better." Isn't 10 the highest grade? What does the grading company mean by "or Better?"

Alright, enough stalling. Here's the card Daniel was alluding to in his note.
This is a 1996 Best autograph card of one of the six players, in my collection, who I have deemed checklist worthy. Brooks Kieschnick! And yes, Daniel, this card was new to my Kieschnick player collection. Many thanks!

Wow, that package packed quite a punch! I'll be on the lookout for Diamondback cards for you!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

My HOF Binder

I've been slowly procuring cards for my Hall of Fame Binder for about two years now. Usually when I go to a card show I'm hyper-focused on the following three items:

  1. Checklist of cards to finish a set
  2. Cheap trade fodder
  3. If room in my budget remains, then a couple of vintage cards for the HOF Binder
I've reached the point where I have a card to represent 93% of the players enshrined in Cooperstown. Part of the fun is trying to "upgrade" cards when and where I can. Upgrades can be a tricky thing, thus I have my set checklist on my phone at all times so I can cross check details when needed. Here's an example of a "busy" section of my checklist.
 Red is bad as it means I need a card of that player.  Orange denotes I have a card, but it's a modern day card and I'd really prefer a card from the player's playing days, which are mentioned in the far right column. Names highlighted in yellow are of players who I should be able to find a vintage card to upgrade with, for the right price of course. Green. Green is good! It means I either have a vintage card or I'm just happy to have a card in general, like Leon Day's 1993 Ted Williams Card Company baseball card. 

Vintage is wonderful, but prices for middle to high grade vintage are not. Long ago I accepted pin holes, paper loss, fading, rounded corners and creases into my collection. For instance, my 1960 Topps Stan Musial is beat to hell, but I got it for a price I could afford and I couldn't be happier. It's mine and I LOVE it. Someday I'll add a Mickey Mantle to this collection... it would merit a grade of -3 from PSA or Beckett, but it'll be mine! lol

I don't have many rules for my collection, but I do have some preferences:
  • Vintage whenever possible.
  • Players in uniform with the team they represent in Cooperstown, when possible. There's a column for "team" in my spreadsheet, but I didn't include that in the above picture.
  • I love cards with full career stats, but I also seek out rookie cards and earlier cards of players during their younger years. Yes, these two things are mutually exclusive. I'm a complex man.
  • I'd prefer that no two cards on any given page are from the same set. This is a tough one to follow for some pages depending on the players and their place in the baseball card world.
So, with out further adieu, I give you the first of look at my Hall of Fame binder. 
Most of the players on this binder from childhood have plaques in Cooperstown, so I thought it was the perfect fit.

Here's page #1.
I have placeholders for the years the players were elected. This allows me to add cards for new electees at the back of the binder and I don't have to reshuffle cards if I were sorting alphabetically by last name or some other method. 

1994 UD - Diamond Legends, #174 -- Ty Cobb
I'm pretty content with this card.

1996 UD Collector's Choice, #502 -- Walter Johnson
Another card I'm very happy with. 

1960 Fleer, #2 -- Christy Mathewson
 For the record, I'm ecstatic about finding this 1960 Fleer card in the dollar bin at a card show. It's not a T206, but it's still pretty sweet!

2011 Topps - 1932 U.S. Caramel Reproduction -- Babe Ruth
I'd like to upgrade this Ruth card if possible. Let me be very clear here: I will NEVER own a vintage card of Babe Ruth, but something that looks old-timey and has full career stats would be nice. 

2010 Topps - Vintage Legends Insert -- Honus Wagner
 This Honus Wagner really bothers me. I love the color photo and the full stats on the back, but the modern day look to the card clashes with Honus. Honus wears high socks... modern is not his thing.

1992 Conlon, #528 -- Nap Lajoie
 Conlon is nice, but a bit over represented in my binder.

2003 UD SP Legendary Cuts, #122 -- Tris Speaker
I'd like to find another card of Speaker as I'm not a fan of the design and he looks to be at the back end of his career. 

So, there we go. The first installment of my new HOF Binder Series. My goal is to continue to post a page each week until I finish with page 37 or 38 in September. 

I hope you'll enjoy this closer look at one of my favorite binders!

Monday, January 14, 2019

2-for-2 on the TTM Front

There are some prolific Through The Mail (TTM) autograph collectors out there. Torren' Up Cards and The Lost Collector (although I hear he's cutting back) immediately come to mind. Let's make no mistake here: I am not one of them.

My first and last TTM came back successfully during the spring of 2015. I appreciated the way Theo Epstein was going about the business of remolding the Cubs and he didn't have any certified autographs that I could afford.
Success! Inscribed in silver sharpie. Glorious!

Early on in David Ross' tenure as a Cub, I thought long and hard about sending out a second TTM request, but I ultimately decided against it as I wasn't prepared to lose one of the customs that were made for me.
Eventually I was able to snag an autograph of Ross in a Cubs uniform so it made the point of a TTM null and void, at least in my mind. 

This past November I received a mini Zippy Zapping and during the ensuing Pack Wars I found a Ken Rosenthal card from a pack of 2017 Allen & Ginter.

I'm a big fan of Rosenthal's baseball reporting and charitable work through I wasn't sure where to file his card away in my collection, as I am very organized. He didn't really fit any the descriptors of any of my binders or boxes. Typically when this happens I place the cards in the trade box and eventually they find a new home. Yet, I wanted to keep this one.

Then Zippy Zappy mentioned, through the comments, that Ken Rosenthal does TTMs. Now, there was an idea! If I had the card autographed then it could find a home in my autographed cards box!

I found a sheet of notebook paper, penned a nice letter, and shipped out my request, with a SASE, in a PWE on Thursday, January 3rd.

On Saturday, January 12th, I had a letter awaiting me in my mailbox addressed in my handwriting.
It only took nine days. A handful of those days were due to USPS delivery and one of those days was a Sunday. I figure my TTM request sat in Rosenthal's mailbox for a few business days at most. Wow!

Thank you, Mr. Rosenthal, for signing for me!  Your card has already been placed in my autograph and relic box for me to flip through on rainy nights and/or snowy weekends. 😀

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Ogle That Vogel: Sponsored by '90-'91 Hoops

Remember that craze back in December for Mark Jackson's 1990-1991 Hoops basketball card? At one point sales of the card were being banned on Ebay, but somehow my listing snuck through and I was able to flip two copies of the card for a laughable sale price.
Laughable? I would say so considering the junk wax status of the card. I looked up recent completed sales and the market and novelty of this card seems to waning fast. Strike while the iron is hot!

So, you may have heard that collecting Dan Vogelbach cards is kind of my thing. Recently a nice one popped up and I submitted a "Best Offer." The seller accepted.

It was glorious!
Behold, I now have half of the printing plates from the set. This plate/auto/relic of The VOGELMONSTER is from 2018 Panini's National Treasures set.

I flipped two junk wax cards for a white whale. I still can't believe my good fortune!