Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Real Feel for 2013

2013 Topps Series 1 has hit the shelves and I'm excited.  I mean, seriously, just look at this Anthony Rizzo insert:
I haven't bought and packs yet, but after only purchasing two packs of Topps' flagship product last year, it'll be hard to stay away again.  I'm really feeling this year's set.  I see a trip to my LCS in the near future.  Meanwhile, I'll have to snag that Rizzo from a seller on eBay!

Speaking of really feeling a set... Vince, a good buddy of mine, gave me this Real Feel card for my 2102 Triple Set.  I'm still working on finishing that set off before I give my cardboard collecting self to the 2013 product line.
 This Real Feel card contains a piece of an authentic game base.  It's the first base card in my collection!  Pretty sweet.
 Thanks for the help, Vince!

If you have some Panini Triple Play that need a good home, be sure to see my want list.  Thanks for reading!


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Snagging 1978's on Listia

Slowly but surely I'm knocking cards off of my 1978 Topps checklist.  My most recent snag came this past week in a three card Listia auction for a little over 1,200 credits, which works out to about $3 or $4.

First, let's take a look at the two cards that I don't need.

1978 Topps Rookie Pitchers featuring Jack Morris.

I have had three different ones in my possession during the building process of my '78 set.  One is in the binder, one went out on eBay, and now I need to find a home for this one.  It's a little bit on the "well-loved" side, but sometimes that just adds to the appeal!

Next, a 1980 Topps Carl Yastrzemski.

I don't have much in terms of cards before 1988, but I have about a half dozen non-Cubs from the '80 set.  This just so happens to be my first duplicate.  Weird how the cardboard universe works.

Saving the best for last, here's the one that goes in the '78 set binder: Rookie Catchers featuring Dale Murphy, Ernie Whitt, Lance Parrish, and Bo Diaz.

Rounded corners, two small creases, and black marker on one edge.  Perfect for my collection!

I'm down to only needing 8 cards to finish my set. So, check out my want list and see if you can help a guy out!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Triple Play Want List

I purchased a handful of packs or more of 2012 Panini Triple Play last fall, and then I was surprised with a box for my birthday and a box for Christmas.

After ripping the packs and collating the cards I learned a couple of things:
1. Panini needs to work on their collation within a box.  Each pack in th4 24-pack box contains a sticker, but I wound up with 3 to 5 repeats of the same 6 sticker cards in each box.  Yuck.  Keep in mind, there are thirty different sticker in the subset. 
2. Although I completed the ninety card base set, I would need a third box to have a chance at completing the 300 card large set.

I purchased another 24-pack box and have now decided to wave the white flag.  No more boxes for me.  I increased my inventory of duplicates by quite a bit, because I only needed about 14 out of the 168 cards in the box.  Oh, and in case you're wondering, I only found ONE new sticker.  I still officially need 15 of the 30 stickers and 56 cards from the 300 card set. Double Yuck.

On top of it all, each box is supposed to contain a "Real Feel" relic card and my box was devoid of any relics.  I've written Panini and followed the format that they have outlined on their website.  I even made a suggestion that they might want to take a look at their sticker collation within a box.  We'll see if anything becomes of my letter.  I'm not holding my breath.

I've placed a Triple Play tab just below the blog header.  Click there and you'll find my want list.  I also have a very healthy stack of duplicates that would love to find a home.  Send me an e-mail to mrcoach00(@)yahoo(dot)com if you can help me with my want list OR if you'd like to inquire about some cards for yourself.  Every little bit of help is appreciated as I try to complete this fun set!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The joy of a PWE

A plain white envelope (PWE) was sitting in the mailbox when I came home the other day.  I thought it to be curious, as I didn't recall any recent wins from Listia or eBay, and I don't currently have any open trades with members of the blogosphere.

I knew it was cards, just by a quick feel of the envelope.  Perhaps seeing what the PWE held would quickly jog my memory?  Maybe there was something I was forgetting?

Let's see what was inside!  Hmmmm...  Two penny sleeves packed with Cubs cards!  Alright, let's get to it:

1993 Topps Stadium Club - Luis Salazar; a 1992 Topps Gold - Les Lancaster; and a 1994 Score Gold Rush - Mike Harkey

I followed all three of the above players closely when I was first into collecting.  Salazar and Lancaster were on the '89 Eastern Division Championship team.  Harkey was the early '90s hot pitching prospect that didn't quite pan out.

1999 Upper Deck SP Home Run Chronicles - Sammy Sosa.  This card highlights Sammy's last homer of the magical 1998 season.  Sammy, now a distributor for a needle free injection system, still isn't back in the Cubs good graces.  Even after a change in ownership and an overhaul in the front office he wasn't invited to the Cub Convention that is taking place this weekend.
I attended the last game of the 2004 season at Wrigley when Sosa walked out on the team.  I haven't quite forgiven him either.  Petty?  Maybe.  But, my Cubs loyalties run very deep.

How about something more positive?

Ryno!  I'm in the process of taking inventory of my Ryne Sandberg collection.  Last time I checked, sometime back before I discover the fairer sex, I had over 500 different Sandberg cards.  This Proctor and Gamble card produced by Score in 1992 is already in my collection.  Nonetheless, it's still pretty sweet!

Ahh, a new one for my "unofficial" Kerry Wood collection.  Someday soon I'll have to retire the "unofficial" label.  This one is a 1999 Fleer Tradition card that highlights Kerry's spectacular rookie season in '98.

Here's the last and my favorite card from the mysterious PWE:  A 1975 Topps Don Kessinger card.  Kessinger played shortstop and was a steady influence up the middle on the great '69 Cubs that narrowly missed the playoffs.
This card is older than me, a little dinged on the edges/corners, and ugly as sin. Orange and brown and it features a Kessinger who's being engulfed by shadows.  Seriously?  But, man, I love vintage cardboard, and it isn't often that vintage Cubs cards wind up unannounced in my mailbox.  This card rocks.

The PWE overall?  My impressions, you ask?  Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Fast forward 'til next morning...

I was eating breakfast and flipping through my blogroll as I tend to do before going off to work.  I found a blog post entitled, "PWE Bombs are exploding all over."  Wes, from Jaybarkerfan's Junk, was sending out "PWE Bombs"!

I was the recipient of a PWE Bomb!  In a corny way, receiving the PWE kind of feels like a rite of passage; almost as though, I now belong.    The card collecting blogosphere is so cool.  Thanks, Wes!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

2013 Cubs Caravan visits Peoria

My girls basketball team had just completed a stretch where they played six games in thirteen days, which is a busy little stretch, so I gave them the evening off since we don't play our next game until the weekend. 

Meanwhile, I jetted over to Exposition Gardens in Peoria, pounded a couple of hot dogs, and then did my best to gather the autographs of the Cubs contingent that made the trip down from Chicago.

Usually, we are blessed with the attendance of an announcer, someone from the front office, a coach or two, and a handful of current players and/or minor leaguers.  Only four made the trip this winter, which was a little disappointing, but I can't argue.  Any baseball in the middle of January is good baseball!

Here's the snapshots that I was able to capture and my autographs.

James Rowson: Hitting Coach.  He's only a year older than me and he's living the dream.  J-Ro was a heckuva nice guy and fun to chat with.

Rowson's autograph on the feature of him in the October edition of the VineLine.

Keith Moreland, former player and radio announcer, with my sister:

I'm really happy I had an opportunity to meet Keith in person and thank him for the job he does.  I don't have cable or dish, so I listen to Pat and Keith on the radio pretty frequently.  Moreland on an '85 Topps card:

Me with Randy Bush, the assistant general manager. For the record, I'm holding his 1989 Topps card, freshly signed!  That card was my sister's. 
Here's the one I had signed to add to my collection, a '93 Topps Stadium Club:

Ernie Banks was the main draw.  He signed, smiled, laughed, and signed some more.  Not everyone walked away with an autograph, but Ernie sat with a pen in his hand for over 90 minutes.  I tip my cap to you, Mr. Banks.  My sister shook his hand, I snapped a couple of photos of Mr. Cub, and . . .

. . . my friend, Vince, was able to get his daughter's Cubs A-to-Z book signed.  Ernie is 81 and his signature is way better than mine.  

Overall, the caravan was a little more disorganized than in the past.  Part of that is because everyone wanted Ernie's autograph, and I think another contributing factor is the Peoria Chiefs didn't play a role in the festivities this year.  They are usually a large presence in the room, but now that they are a Cardinal affiliate they simply were content to have two people trying to sell season ticket packages at a table.  I guess I can't blame them, but I hate to see MY Cubs take a back seat to those Redbirds.  Hmph.

Again, it was good to hang with friends, meet some Cubs, and talk baseball during the cold winter months!  Boy, I can't wait for spring!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Joe Average Collector Group Break

Jason, from Joe Average Collector, held a group break.   He set the break up a little differently by splitting up all teams into one of three tiers.  The Cardinals and Cubs were in different tiers, so I snagged those two, and I picked up the Nationals/Expos from the third tier.

I'll eventually send most of the Cardinals to my little cousin who lives outside of St. Louis.  So that was a good deal. Here's a couple of the better Cardinals, a pair of autographs from former Peoria Chiefs!

I was hoping for some neat cards of any current Nats, but that didn't really pan out.  But Jason did split up the duplicates amongst the participants.  And look who wound up in my package!

The legend of the Matt Clement still lives on in my mind's eye.  Clement clinched a playoff spot for the Cubs the day I proposed to my wife back in September of 2003.  Crazy facial hair or not, he'll always have a place in my collection!

I'm really on board with the makeover "Team Theo" is giving the Cubs.  Slugging Dan Vogelbach will hopefully play a large part in the Cubs future.

Perhaps Shawon Dunston, the younger, will find a place in Wrigley in a few years?

Jason also threw in a couple of Kerry Wood cards as a Christmas present, just because I read his blog.  Both Wood cards are new to me and will they soon find themselves in a binder with the rest of cards in my unofficial Kerry Wood collection.

Thanks for a fun beak, Jason!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

First Listia Win of 2013 and a Thank You

How about Mr. Cub to start off the new year?  For only 99 credits, it sounds like a good proposition to me!

2007 Upper Deck SP Legendary Cuts - Ernie Banks

Below is a Roberto Clemente (1964 Topps design) to add to my Topps Archives set that I'm still attempting to complete.  I sent Chris, of Nachos Grande, a couple of cards to help his set needs.  I wasn't expecting anything in return, as it was just some early '90's wax, but I should know by now that's not how the blogosphere works.  I found Roberto in my mailbox as a thank you.

Thanks for the Clemente, Chris!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Chasing the 1/1

One of my collecting goals for 2013 is to add my first 1-of-1 card to my collection.

So, I decided to take a look on eBay the other day and look what I found!

Yep, a 2012 Bowman Sterling, 1/1, canary yellow, dual autograph card of the 2011 and 2012 Chicago Cubs first round draft picks: Javier Baez and Albert Almora! 

What a sweet looking card.  The only thing better would be if the autographs were on card, rather than on those obnoxious stickers.

The "buy it now" price of the card was a penny south of $900.  No, I was not seriously going to pursue this card, but I do like to watch such cards to see if they sell and at what price.  A guy can dream, right? A few days later, the seller took the auction down without completing a sale. Huh?

No matter.  Here's what I have instead:

I was able to get a Javier Baez auto this past summer.  He played for the Peoria Chiefs. (Now the Chiefs are a Cardinal affiliate. Yes, I'm still bitter.)

And here is my first eBay arrival of 2013.  A 2012 Leaf Albert Almora autograph.  I tried to take a picture with my camera, but the card is WAY too shiny.  I had to swipe the eBay listing picture.

So, Baez and Almora autographs.  Nice!  No, they're not on the same card, it's not a sparkly canary yellow card, and no, it's not a 1/1.  But, it cost me about 1/90th of the price.  That's a "win" in my book.

Luckily, Thorzul contacted me the other day about a Soriano 1/1 card that's in his possession.  I'm back on the Soriano bandwagon after his solid 2012 campaign and would love to add this printing plate to my collection.  Hopefully, I come up with some Brewers goodies to pull off a trade!

What a great hobby.

Friday, January 4, 2013

First Pack of '13 - 2012 Panini Golden Age

I'm still working on a couple of 2012 sets and I can't wait for the 2013 products to be released, but there aren't any rules against me buying random packs from time-to-time.

I was at my local card shop recently and picked up a pack of 2012 Panini Golden Age.  This product is not listed on my go to baseball card website,, so I wasn't really sure what to expect.  Let's bust in:

27. Johnny Weissmuller - The back of the card states that he played the role of Tarzan in 12 movies.  He won five gold medals in swimming, one bronze in water polo, and 52 U.S. Championships in swimming.  After retirement he modeled swimwear and his face was featured on the Beatles' album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

So, apparently, this isn't just a baseball card set. 
Good looking card of someone whose feats make me feel less than accomplished.  Advantage: Johnny W.

51. Hal Newhouser - Detroit Tiger, hall-of-famer, and only pitcher in MLB history to win back-to-back MVP awards.

128. John "Blue Moon" Odom - Blue Moon, a long time Kansas and Oakland Athletic, is listed as a pitcher and pinch runner on!  In 1972 he played in 59 games, but he only pitched in 31 of them.  My guess is that he was used as an occasional pinch runner in the late innings in between starts.  Sounds like a good way to fully use the 25 man roster, at least until your ace pitcher pulls a hamstring trying to go from first to third on a base hit.

126. Nolan Ryan Mini!  I love me some Ryan Express and I'm also a pretty big fan of minis.  This pack is officially a "win" and I'm not even all the way through it!

56. Curly Howard - One of the original Three Stooges.   Heck yeah! 

I love the write up on the back of his card. Take a look!

 14. Swede Risberg - Swede was he shortstop in the 1919 World Series for the infamous Black Sox.  Swede played during the 1920 regular season, but was later banned for admitting to taking money for poor performance during the World Series.  He batted .080 over the course of 8 games while committing 8 errors in the best of nine World Series.  Yeah, that's pretty bad. Shame on you, Swede.

That was a fun an education pack to rip open.  Let's hope for many more during 2013!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

My Modest 2013 Collecting Goals

Ron Santo
It's early January and a baseball fan can't help be just a tad giddy about what the upcoming year will hold.  How will my Cubs fair in Year 2 of the major rebuild?  How will the fan in me adjust to the Peoria Chiefs' new affiliation with the ... gulp ... the Cardinals?  Which MLB ballparks will I be able to cross off of my list? 

I'm just as excited about the new cardboard that will feature many of my favorite ballplayers.  So much so, that I've decided to follow the lead of many of my favorite blogs, and jot down some collecting goals for 2013.  Here goes nothin':

1. Collect and finish only two 2013 products. Last year I surveyed the field and went after Topps Archives, and find that I'm still working on the short prints.  Bleck.  Meanwhile I was purchasing Opening Packs, because they were affordable and I needed something to rip.  After many trips to the LCS I eventually reached the point where it was feasible to finish the set.  Done!   Then Panini Triple Play came out of left field and I fell in love with that set.  Then I was given a box for my birthday.  A want list will be up before too long.    Three sets in a year?  Many will scoff at such a low number, but it made my head spin.

In summary, I'll be waiting for the 2013 Triple Play version to hit store shelves and probably a Topps product.  But, which one?
Starlin Castro

2. Clean up the Man Room.  There are cards all over the place.  Some are reserved for trade fodder.  Some need to be put in binders.  Some need to find a home in my Cubs box.  Many are unsorted and need a place to go.  I'm kind of a neat freak, and the state of the Man Room is really starting to bother me.

3. Put my 1978 Topps set to bed.  The good? I'm only nine cards away.  The bad? I've just about reached my budget for the set.

Ed Lynch
4. Find a card show that has a dime box and indulge!  Nick, at Dime Boxes, seems to run into these pretty regularly, and he visits shows in the Chicago-land area.  Hey, that's just a short trip up I-55 from me.  Road trip!

5. Add my first 1/1 card to my collection.   I have three of dayf's 1 of 1 cards, which are most certainly top shelf and appreciated.  And I was once in possession of 2011 Topps diamond embedded card, but I flipped that to buy more cards that were of value to me.  But I would like to add in a 1/1 card from Topps or Panini that features a Cub.  Perhaps a printing plate is in my future?

These seem like pretty reasonable goals. 

I'd also like to spend less on cards, but complete more trades within the blogosphere.  Unfortunately, it's hard to accumulate trade fodder without spending.  Just another hurdle that I'll have to figure out how to leap.  So for now, I'll hold off on making that one official.

Have a great 2013, everyone!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year - France Edition

Sometime during late summer Laura and I decided to vacation in Paris during my winter break.  Location was Laura's idea, and being as I had not previously ventured across the Atlantic Ocean I was game for something new.

Let me start by saying that my wife is a terrific travel guide and the perfect travel companion.  We had an excellent time exploring the city and trying new foods.  (We even split a plate of escargot!)

Here's the highlights with pictures:

 A sepia-toned picture from our rented, sixth floor apartment in Paris.  We were located merely three blocks from the Louvre! In the above picture taken from the apartment's east window you can see Notre Dame on the right in the skyline.  Visible from the west-side windows was the Eiffel Tower.

The first evening we were in Paris we went to the Jacquemart Andre museum, which was erected in the 1800's.  Jacquemart Andre and his wife were a couple of highfalutin art collectors. 

 On Christmas Eve we visited Sainte Chapelle.  It was currently in the process of a major restoration project, but the chapel was absolutely gorgeous.

 Next up was Notre Dame.  We were actually touring the inside during mass ... crazy.  Afterwards we climbed the stairs to the top and gawked at the scenic views of the city.  Here's one of the famous gargoyles atop Notre Dame.

 Here's a picture of Notre Dame at night on one of nightly walks back to the apartment.

 We walked the Champs D'Elysees on Christmas Eve.  Many, many vendors and food opportunities along the way.  I thought my dad would get a kick out of the "grill" in the background of this picture. Whoa!

 We visited the Arc de Triomphe on Christmas Day.  What a massive piece of architecture.

On Christmas we took a guided boat tour along the Seine River and climbed the steps to the second level of the Eiffel Tower.  High winds put the kibosh on our attempts at venturing to the third floor.  The tower stays is illuminated all night long and for the first five minutes of each hour it flashes with mammoth strobe lights that can been seen from just about anywhere in the city.  Just beautiful!

On the 26th we toured the Louvre. It is by far the largest museum that I have ever toured.  It used to be the palace for the kings of France, but now it houses world famous artworks such as the Mona Lisa.  Pictured above is the modern entrance to the museum: a glass pyramid!

 Here I am pictured to my favorite find in the Louvre: the Code of Hammurabi.  You know, the ancient tablet that has 282 laws.  Perhaps you've heard of, "An eye, for an eye"?

On the 27th we took the train to Versailles to see the palace of Louis XIV, Louis XV, and Louis XVI & Marie Antoinette.

Here's Marie Antoinette's getaway "vacation" home, which was located on the palace grounds.

On the 28th we toured the George Pompidou Art Center and the Musee D'Orsay.  Lots of art, but no photos.  Sorry, folks!

We managed to walk off everything that we consumed in Paris: multiple baguettes, croissants, gourmet cheese, and crepes.  Crepes were my favorite by far.  Oh, the variety! 

 Here's a walk-up crepe window, but they were also served in store fronts and of course in sit down restaurants.  In the window a jar of Nutella is visible.  Mmmmm... Nutella crepes...

 Here's a snapshot of a lunch that we had on the Isles de La Cite.  Laura had a quiche-like dish, and I had the "crepe complet" at the top of the picture.  Mozzarella, thinly sliced ham, and an egg all wrapped within a crepe ... yum!  That was my favorite crepe by far!

I hope you enjoyed the pictures and brief commentary of our trip to Paris.  It was a really fun and educational trip that Laura and I will not soon forget.

So, no baseball or baseball cards on this trip?  For the record, we walked by an office branch of Panini while in Paris, but Panini in Europe primarily focuses on soccer.  I didn't even mention it to Laura as we passed by.    No worries, I have plenty of baseball related posts lined up for January!

Have a great New Year, everyone!