Sunday, August 23, 2015

Manu-Say What?

Yes, I'm doubling up in the same month for the first time in over two years.  Maybe if all goes well, I'll hit three in August......yeah I probably shouldn't make any promises.  This post was actually the one I had intended to write a few weeks ago, but somehow that post got hijacked as I could never tie my way from how I started collecting into this topic.  Although I enjoy collecting sets, it has been difficult to complete many along the way.  Something new comes out and I kind of drift off until I think about that set from 6 months ago that I never made a Series 2 purchase.  I do finally make my way back which is why my want lists from recent years are usually not put up until long after the set has been available to the public.  Again, I feel myself drifting, so I'll bring it back to the intending discussion point for today.

The late 2000's is when I started to really delve into the true collection process again.  There were a few years prior that online purchases were to complete one subset or another and less about getting a box to open.  I have since mended those evil ways so that the online purchases made nowadays are mostly boxes to fill gaps of those days gone past.  Maybe once every six months, I'll see something that catches my eye, one that was still needed to complete that subset or in one case, a purchase was made to be able to send along with other cards in a trade with one of my fine readers.  Sometimes what I have to offer needs to be upgraded a bit here and there.  Believe me I've got plenty to trade but not everyone is looking for the standard issue and I enjoy helping fellow collectors out when I can.

Once I started looking to complete sets again, the big box store offered boxes that didn't break the bank and allowed me to get a wide variety of cards for a mere $20 here and there.  And if they discounted those boxes, I could really do some damage on collection gaps if I was lucky enough to find them. 2009 Topps brought a new twist to my collecting.  The blaster box included a manufactured card that really caught my attention.  Although those packs don't really offer the ability to get any big hits, knowing that one of the manu-cards was always included made it a nice box to pick up.

They were new and interesting.  The problem was in order to complete the set, you'd need to purchase way too many boxes at the one per box ratio.  But still, I kept on purchasing these boxes to get  the manu-card.  The patches were cool, old-school style pieces that allowed a collector to grab a glimpse of the 80 year old All-Star game patch from the Polo Grounds.  You don't see that very often.  Then 2010 Topps hit the street and there were more Manu cards to collect.  Again, some really nice looking cards from long ago years be it World Series or just generic patches from the last year at Yankee Stadium.  As Topps has a way of doing something that in hindsight isn't probably the best thing they could have done, the Update series manu-cards were sloppy.  They were crooked, had excess glue and the gray backing made little attempt to stay firmly placed on the actual card itself so it appears to be floating.

2011 rolls around and although the 2010 Update set left me wanting better, I still looked to see what Topps was going to do different.  I won't get into the online card trading program that was now in full swing.  That's a subject for a different day.  So back into the manu-cards I dove.  Not the same type of patch, these were more team specific and less game oriented.  Not a bad product in my mind and the quality was better than previously mentioned.  I still liked the concept and looked to collect these.

Then in 2012, Topps started to include some very interesting pieces as manu-cards.  I really enjoyed the two different types that Topps was producing. Both very player specific which was different from any previous manu-card produced.  Yes, there were players on the cards but the patch itself was more driven to a team or past event.  I'm sure Topps could have chosen any number of players to place on a random Yankees or Reds patch from a mid 1970's World Series card.

The name stitched cards, to me, are the nicest.  A big piece of cloth (and yes I know these are not in any way meant to be game worn products) was a nice way to make it appear to be tied to the player.  I'm sure some look at these cards as being wasted cardboard just as I look at any Panini product, but that is what makes my collection different from anyone else's. Some cards are meant to hold a special place and some are meant to be given away if they find their way into my collection.
In 2013 and through today, I didn't even look to see what Topps was going to put out in these blaster boxes.  I felt complete with what I had seen and I tried to purchase some hobby boxes to switch it up a bit.  I think I have one of these cards from 2014 but that was only because someone was kind enough to purchase a box for me for either my birthday or Christmas.  Maybe you have some of these and look to trade for others.  I do have a few extra.  Or maybe they fill your collection and it doesn't fit in.  Either way, if you're so inclined to trade any, let me know.  I have a special place in my collection for these cards and would welcome trying to find a way to complete the 600 or so total manu-cards from those years.  Thanks again for checking in and hopefully you'll be reading my blog again soon as I make the attempt to be here more often than I have been.  Happy collecting my friends.

Friday, August 7, 2015

What brought me here? Do I have a story?

I have been a Topps collector for many years, decades in fact.  Collecting in the 70's was based on how many packs the parents would bring home on their occasional trip to a local store.  That got me through and I'm thankful that I still have every one of those cards even if they were abused, or loved depending on your viewpoint. Dependency at its finest.  I dropped off the radar all together in 1980 until I went back to it in 1982.  Not much of a span but to collect 1980 and 1981 Topps cards wasn't always easy at that time.  Collecting in the 80's through the mid 90's seemed to be too easy as you could find cards every store you walked into.  It was fun as a teenager moving into adulthood.  Prices were within reason and you could complete a set if you worked on it.  You weren't really thinking of how much money you were throwing away to get those last 7 cards needed to complete that 1986 Topps set.

Once more and more companies joined the fray and the insert craze began, the completionist (if there is such a word?) that I am started to unravel.  How could one possibly keep up?  Topps begat Fleer and Donruss who begat Score who begat Upper Deck and Bowman who begat Leaf who begat Stadium Club, Ultra and Studio......the Genesis of the downward spiral that was the 90's of card collecting.  Early on I thought I could manage them all.  Who was I fooling?  College had ended and kids started entering my life.  Who has time for all of that?

So again the collection had it's time (very little in reality) on the side.  Over time I found a way to dedicate time to collecting without putting too much strain on the rest of life.  "Back in the day", there seemed to be a card show every weekend and to spend a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon wasn't obtrusive.  The quotes in that last sentence speak of my experience.  I refuse to use the term age there as it is difficult to accept the number of years in which I have existed.  It just can't be reality can it?  I managed to grow the collection one card show at a time.

The millennium hit and so did the $20 box of cards at your local big box store.  For $20, you get your fix and live to tell about it.  Sometimes that hit was a dud and sometimes life altering packs make there way into your hands.  I was fortunate (or maybe not depending on who's viewpoint your looking at) enough to get a big hit in a box of 1999 Upper Deck Ionix.

After that, the completionist in me set in again.  Ebay became my biggest friend in collecting.  There was no way I could complete the POH 500 HR Set by opening packs.  I had to purchase each one until the set was complete.  I don't believe it is complete today as I may be missing a couple...Man Ram and the Big Hurt come to mind, but at the time prior to the "alternative substance" group became part of this once elite subset, they were all mine.  Complete and accounted for.  But then...3000 Hit Club, Yankees Signature single, double and triple signature cards, Master Collection........Ahhh!!!!  More Ebay, more buying.  Upped Deck was killing the bank account.

After that settled down, it was time to go back to collecting sets.  I didn't abandon it altogether it just wasn't the focal point for a few years.  So there are some lean years in my collection that I wish I would have given more attention to at the time, circa 2000-2003.

I may have stated this before, maybe not, but I now try to focus on the Topps product line and not even all of it.  I love the Topps Heritage line but pay no attention to the Archives line.  Go figure, right?  I have zero interest and I mean zero even in the relic/autos of the Panini brand of unlicensed cards.  It just doesn't do anything for me.  I don't over indulge in packs and or boxes that exceed the $100 threshold.  I am interested in collecting cards, not necessarily in getting the big hit by spending $50 on a pack of cards that will have 3 cards numbered less than 50 in hopes that I get that 1 of 1 that will hit Ebay to pay for the last 35 purchases that have yielded nothing more than a Hall of Fame autograph card numbered to 49.  There may be only 49 of that card, but there are 49 different auto cards numbered to 49 for that same player in the same year.  How do you put 9 cards of those three packs into an 800 count box to fit the organizational structure that is - my collection.  Not going to happen.

So I am now not an Ebay daily, hourly, minute by minute watcher.  I'll wander over once in a blue moon to see what's grabbing my attention on those saved searches that haven't changed in five to ten years.  I'll make a purchase from the new LCS in my town every now and again too.  The camaraderie and friendships gained doing this blog and trading to fill my, and others, want lists far outweigh the hours spent staring at the monitor watching the seconds tick by on that "I need it now" auction purchase.  So thanks to those that read my blog and especially those that continue to help a brotha out with filling the gaps of the ever growing want list on this blog.  That want list is still lacking in many lists but if you get a chance to view it and think we could swing a trade, let me know.  I'm always open to helping you out too.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Picked up by the wife

For the record, I am not a frequent flyer when it comes to posting due to the amount of travel I do for the j-o-b and other personal reasons.  But you know, I have stated before that I am a lucky man as my wife, for the most part, tolerates my habit.  She definitely sees the insanity in the collection I've accumulated over a number of decades.  But she has also participated in the addition to the insanity by making some purchases for me both with my knowledge and without.  About a month ago, I was out of town and she decided to take the little ones to a flea market in the Chicago area, which is where we call home these days.  She asked me if I wanted her to look for anything for me and of course baseball cards was the first thing out of my mouth.  She knows that as a given but it still is stated every time she asks. 

So anyway, I'm a hundred plus miles from home when I get a call from her.  She said she is in such a rural area that she's been trying to contact me for 15-20 minutes to no avail and the vendors are shutting down for the day.  She knows my wants start with vintage as I have plenty of post 1970 cards to go around and duplicates/triplicates/etc are not part of the plan when buying cards.  She proceeds to tell me about a binder she saw and she wasn't sure if the cards were real or reprints.  So she told me a little about what she saw (all White Sox with a smattering of Cubs) and they sounded legit so I asked her to buy them for me.  Hey, for the price of a mere blaster and hanger box filled with todays million dollar .200 hitters, I figured I'd go out on a limb and take a chance.  So I'm in my car maybe an hour later and she starts sending me pictures of what were in this binder.  Now mind you, I'm driving and looking at what she sends in almost disbelief.  The pictures below are a brief summary of what was found in the binder.

I'm loving this.  I have a few cards from the 1953 set (of course Rivera is a duplicate but who's complaining), more from 1954-1956 and adding these bad boys to the box made me a happy man.  They may not be the best conditioned cards, but in my mind, have been well loved and will fit well into my collection.  This is basically page one of 60+ pages filled with cards from 1953 through the 1990's.  On to the next page....

Who doesn't love a random Norm Cash rookie card among these other 1959 beauties.  I have few 1959 cards but have grown fond of the design.  I hope to see more of the late 1950's cards filling out boxes in my collection in the future.  Moving on, my largest vintage collection is of the 1960 set.  I have been fortunate enough to find these in quantities that put me at a greater than 50% completion rate.  I remember back in the 80's when I was a much younger lad and there was a dealer that would send you five 1960 cards for a mere 50 cents including postage.  I wish I had sent him triple what I did but I'm sure he knew my name well enough as I couldn't put two quarters into an envelope fast enough to see those hit my mailbox regularly.  That lasted for all of a summer way back when. So to find a few of that set also gave me joy....

So basically, I'm finding Topps cards (and a few other companies in later years) from almost every year starting in 1953.  Not every year but enough to know that I was happy she saw them, thought of me and decided to drop a mere $30 on a binder filled with Chicago White Sox and Cubs cards.  Roughly 600 in total.  1953 through 1994.  Mainly Topps, a few Upper Deck and Donruss but the majority are by far the flagship brand.  Yes, there were some lovely 1986-1989 Topps overproduced cards to fill the massive amounts already in my possession but a small price to pay when adding the cards shown here.  Below are a few other highlights but I could have scanned and posted so many more from the 1970's as well.

Needless to say, if she's out at another flea market, I can only hope she stumbles across another find like this.  I repeat, I am a lucky man to have a wife that tolerates me and my love of the cardboard in baseball fashion.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Random Thoughts on Topps Buyback program

Here I am less than two months from my last post.  Much better than the five month gap from the previous post and the seven month gap prior to that.  Progress....who knows.  At this pace, I may actually get more than 5 posts in for 2015.  Let's hope so.  I have been meaning to get this post done but I needed to wait until I was home to get scans of what I wanted to post.  For what it's worth, I enjoy perusing the blogs I read on a more regular basis but taking time to post is not something that will be a daily or even weekly event for me. So there you have it....let the sarcasm begin.

I have been fortunate enough to pull some decent buyback cards since Topps decided to venture into that business.  I'm not sure if it was an abundance of cards sitting on their desks after the 2011/2012 online promotion or if they just didn't want to put forth the effort to set up the web page so that we could have a little extra fun by trying to collect some older cards, if you were lucky enough to do so.  As I said, fortunate has been the theme for me but there are a few of these cards that I can only scratch my head and wonder; what the hell was Topps thinking when they made these secondary market purchases.  With that in mind, I present a variation of the most recent successes or lack thereof:

One of the better pulls from a pack.  An unmarked "We Are Family" 1979 Pirates Checklist.  Not one that I need for my set but still I look upon this as a successful pull.  35+ years old an in fairly good shape.  One that had I needed it for my set, would have been a welcomed sight and successful purchase.  I'll now move on to those that may not qualify as such.

Ok, a Dodger, but if you look closely enough, this card has seen better days.  The corners look as if they've been sitting in an open box without any protection and the crease across the upper right corner makes me believe this card traveled from LA to New York by courier pigeon who made a few extra stops along the way.  The crease is a front only surface crease and the back looks, well, ok for a fill in.  But not something many collectors would purchase to complete their set.  If it was a 1974 Winfield, I'd give a little grace, but a 10 cents common?  Geez...........but

Now for the coup d'état:

Really?  Are you flipping serious?  It is from 1969 but, damn Topps, did this work it's way to Woodstock for some card trading only to get shoved in somebody's back pocket before Jimi got up and played his arse off?  Who in their right mind would go to a card show or do business with a shady seller and buy this thinking it was ok to pass this on as a promotion?  It's comical to look at this and think whoever placed this in the stack for insertion thought this was a good idea.

Oh well, I suppose it's better than pulling a Walt Weiss 1989 Topps card in pristine condition.  At least this 1969 card gets some attention whereas the Weiss card would get shoved in a box with hundreds of other cards as if it was pulled out of a pack when the mullet craze was in full force.  On to the next phase of Topps insert conversation...........................

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Christmas Surprise

Ok, so I've been MIA for a few weeks or months.  Well let's just say it for what it is, basically all of 2014.  Two whole posts in twelve months is not what I had in mind when I started this blog.  New year's resolution...more posts in 2015.  Now that should be an easy task.  I look back and see I posted on January 2nd, 2014.  I guess I'm a little late this year.  But this years post references 2014 so I'll straddle the fence for this one post and give half to 2014 and half to 2015.  That means I have to fulfill my resolution with at least three more posts this year.  Actually I see myself speeding past that this year.  Work travel is no longer every other week and then some.  Maybe a bit of that in January and February, but it should get to a manageable once per month at most timeframe soon.  I digress.......

Christmas was and always will be my favorite time of year.  I'm lucky enough to be able to take some time off and enjoy it with family and friends.  This year was no exception and I hope all of you also had a wonderful holiday season.  As it normally is in my house, I am an anomaly when it comes to receiving presents.  My motto is, if I want it, I'll buy it.  It doesn't matter what time of year.  So finding a list to put together is not always the easiest of tasks for me.  But it will always include cards.  That being said, this past year has been a slow card buying year.  I need to purge more than acquire.  I'm actually making that happen by selling the hockey cards that have only been collecting dust for 10+ years to a more caring and appreciative soul.  What started out as a 40 year collection has dwindled down a bit but still takes up more room than I'd like to see.  Why is it some people just don't want a set or three of 1991-92 Score Hockey cards???  Anyway, that project continues....

As I was saying, I am usually the one person that has cards on the brain but family doesn't like to buy what I don't collect.  It's been easy to say, Topps, Bowman and any variation of those.  But still the single pack of Bowman Platinum sits on a shelf waiting for some friends to join the fun in an 800 count box.  It gets lonely in there so I have reserved box dedication to those sets that have at least 100 cards to fill the box.  I assure you those Bowman Platinum's one day will see the inside of a box, but right now for those 15 cards..........lonely is the night.  Back to the list.....both last year and this year, I had a very easy time telling family what I wanted.  Topps Update Mega Box.  The two-fer special that includes Topps Update and Topps Chrome Update, both of which will have no problem seeing the inside of a box.  So this year I received 6-8 of those boxes from a few people.  Needless to say, I enjoyed opening those over the past week or so.  Unopened boxes don't stay unopened long in my presence.  No huge hits in either but still the Chrome set is complete except for one missing card and the Regular Update is close to being the same.  Hint, hint...look for those lists to be added in my ever growing want list tab.

After seeing those boxes cluttering the room, I thought I was done for the cards coming my way.  But I had a surprise waiting for me from my lovely wife.  For some reason she decided to venture onto my blog to see what she could rustle up for me.  To hear her tell it, she spent weeks/months searching, finding, deciding and changing her mind like a bottle of shampoo.  Rinse, lather, repeat.  But what she ended up purchasing was a couple of cards from the bottom of my list.  Many cards fill the gap between the first year listed on my blog to the second year listed but those 17 years are filled with more wants that haves, so they go unlisted...for now.  To culminate my Christmas present opening, I present to you the shock of gifts that I would have bet good money would never have been something I would have expected from my wife.

Yes, 1951 Topps Blue Back.  Two of the remaining eight cards needed to complete that set.  Shock does not even come close to what I felt when I opened that last gift.  And not even some bike spoke driven, fell in the mud kind of cards.  These are in a condition that put some, if not most, of the other 1951 Topps cards in my collection to shame.  The brightness of white glistens.  These cards must have been set aside and not touched for decades.

Needless to say, I'm now back in the game for the remaining 6.  I want to complete this set more than any other set I own.  But you don't find many people that are willing to trade for these.  I have a few doubles, not nearly as nice as these just in case any of you have a few 1951 cards set aside for trading. 

So I again want to'll hear from me more in 2015 but most importantly, a gracious thank you to my lovely wife for these cards.  I can only imagine what could come my way next Christmas.  I need to start adding to my want lists so she has more to choose from.