Completed insert set – 2003 Topps Ryan Record Breakers

3 06 2018

I finished another set recently and this is a white whale kind of set!  Over 3 years, I’ve slowly put together the set through eBay and COMC, and last month I got the last card of 7.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  Topps had a giant Record Breaker insert set in 2003, but it did a second off-shoot to commemorate Nolan Ryan’s 7 no-hitters.  There’s a card for each no-hitter, with a colorful background just like the regular set.

Set composition:  7 cards, I have no clue on the odds

Hall of Famers:  1 guy, 7 times

How I put the set together:

  • 5 cards from eBay
  • 2 cards from COMC

Thoughts on the set:  The regular set is way too large, but this set is pretty cool.  I wish it wasn’t so rare, though.

Card that completed my set:  #NR2 – Nolan Ryan (July 15, 1973)

I got this one on eBay last month.  I had 4 of the 7 cards going into 2018, then found 2 cards in January on eBay and the last card in April.

Best card (my opinion):  This is one of those sets that I just don’t think you can pick.  I don’t have a favorite Nolan Ryan no-hitter.  In fact, it would be easier for me to pick a least favorite card.  Ryan’s 7th no-hitter came on the day Rickey Henderson (my favorite non-Red player as a kid) broke Lou Brock’s stolen base record.  So it kind of overshadowed what was, in my opinion, a bigger moment.  I’ve always been a big fan or Nolan Ryan, though, so I got over it.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.  It sure would have been nice to have the Ryan Express on the Big Red Machine!

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Here’s a scan of the set.

Any other tidbits:  This Ryan Record Breaker set is a bit of a mystery to me – any info would be appreciated!  Beckett and Baseballcardpedia say that the Ryan No-Hitter Record Breaker cards come 1:2 per series 2 HTA Jumbo.  My series 2 box that I did was a s2 HTA Jumbo box, and I can tell you that’s not the case.  Regular Record Breaker cards come 1:2, but the Ryan cards do not.  In a box of 12 packs, I did not pull a single Ryan card.  Given the fact it will cost you over 10 bucks if you ever find one, they are much more rare than that.

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Completed insert set – 1998 Topps HallBound

20 05 2018

I finished up a set recently through a COMC purchase.  I’ve been looking for this damn Paul Molitor card forever; I actually bought the chrome version on accident about 2 years ago!  Parallel confusion is no fun!

Info about the set:

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Set description:  These are die-cut glossy and shiny cards with a Cooperstown background with players that Topps determined were clearly bound for enshrinement there.  This was in the heart of the steroids era, before people really had much of an inkling of what was going on – so I bet this would have been pretty predictive if not for that.

Set composition:  15 cards, 1:36 odds (1998 Topps series 1 hobby)

Hall of Famers:  11.  Molitor, Gwynn, Boggs, Eckersley, Ripken, Maddux, Rickey, Griffey, Thomas, Piazza, Johnson

Basically, they were right on 11 guys, and 3 of the others are clear steroid holdouts.

How I put the set together:

  • 1 card from series 1 hobby box
  • 11 cards from COMC
  • 2 cards from Beckett’s marketplace
  • 1 card from Sportlots

Thoughts on the set:  Really cool set, something that Topps should do every 5-7 years or so!  It’s particularly interesting given the era.  Love the design.

Card that completed my set:  #HB1 – Paul Molitor

As mentioned, I accidentally bought the Chrome version of this card a while ago.  And just hadn’t seen the regular version.  But I finally got it finished up!

Best card (my opinion):  #HB8 – Rickey Henderson

For reasons I’ll get to below.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none, though Barry Larkin would have obviously given them an increase in percentage correct here…

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Here’s a scan of the set – front and back.

Any other tidbits:  The Rickey Henderson card is the only Topps card depicting him in an Angels uniform and (counting the parallels), the only card of his from 1998.  He wasn’t in the base set for some odd reason – probably a numbers crunch and something of a pure oversight by Topps employees – but made the insert set.





2002 Topps parallels – Vlad Guerrero (and Chone Figgins) – a big step, but still some hunting left

14 05 2018

Yes it’s been a long time since I posted – but I got the following card on COMC after a long time waiting!

This doesn’t finish my rainbow, but the rest of the cards are very easy finds compared to a #/50 card from a guy who’s about to  go to the Hall of Fame!  So below is the updated post.

2002 Topps

Card I selected:  #100 – Vladimir Guerrero

I went back and forth a bit on who to pick here – basically determined by the Kanebo Silver card I could find.  I found a Sammy Sosa quite a while ago and bought it.  But I don’t love Sosa’s card and he’s far from my favorite player, too.  I bought the Kanebo packs mentioned in my last post, and pulled one silver card – of Vlad the Impaler.  I love this card, and Vlad has always been a cool player.  I’d much rather have him in this parallel set!

I have one more card to go to finish off the 2002 parallels.  Chrome introduced the rarer Black Refractors in 2002, and I just haven’t found one yet.  Not surprising that I have had trouble tracking down a card numbered to 50 from 14 years ago…

# of cards (including the Topps card):  11

The parallel sets in 2002 include:

  • Gold
  • Home Team Advantage
  • Limited
  • Kanebo
  • Kanebo Silver
  • Opening Day
  • Chrome
  • Chrome Gold Refractors
  • Chrome Black Refractors
  • Chrome Refractors (Traded only)

Scans:

2002 Topps #100

2002 Topps Vlad Guerrero

2002 Topps Vlad Guerrero back

2002 Topps Gold #100

2002 Topps Gold Vlad Guerrero

2002 Topps Gold Vlad Guerrero back

Topps Gold was back for its second straight year with a shiny foil border.  Numbering Topps Gold to the current year – #/2002 – is a trend Topps has kept to this day.  In 2002 it was only a partial parallel, though of most of the set.  There were 58 cards that didn’t have gold parallels – basically any of the full bleed subsets and the Barry Bonds 73 HR card.  The gold border was a little weirder in 2002 – as the base cards themselves had a gold/orange border.

2002 Topps Home Team Advantage #100

2002 Topps HTA Vlad Guerrero

2002 Topps Vlad Guerrero back

Cards from hobby factory sets got a stamp to special “Home Team Advantage” logo to designate them.

2002 Topps Limited #100

2002 Topps Limited Vlad Guerrero

2002 Topps Vlad Guerrero back

Limited Edition factory sets were back, coming in a wood box and a stated production run of 1,950 (though the cards themselves weren’t numbered).  These cards are stamped with the words “Limited Edition” in the bottom right.

2002 Topps Kanebo #6

2002 Topps Kanebo Silver #6

2002 Kanebo Topps Vlad Guerrero

2002 Kanebo Topps Vlad Guerrero back

2002 Kanebo silver Vlad Guerrero

2002 Kanebo Topps Silver Vlad Guerrero back

Now I’m getting to some hard to find cards.  This Japanese parallel of the 2002 Topps set was actually issued in 2003.  The regular Kanebo cards are pretty tough to find themselves, but at any given point they pop up on eBay.  Topps issued the cards in Japan in conjunction with Kanebo, a Japanese manufacturer of gum and plenty of other products.  There are 55 cards in the set.  The front of the card is basically the same, just without the gold foil on the name and the Topps logo.  The backs are completely in Japanese, have different numbering since they’re a partial parallel, and have a Kanebo logo in the bottom right hand corner.

There’s actually a black parallel that’s even harder to find and I’m just not including it here.  I’d love to add the Vlad to my parallel collection, but I’ve only seen 1 or 2 ever for sale and it would be pure luck if the particular player showed up.

2002 Topps Opening Day #29

COMING SOMEDAY TO A BLOG NEAR YOU

Opening Day was back for the 5th time.  Again, it’s a 165 card set that could only be found in retail outlets.  The border is brown instead of the orange/gold of the flagship set, and there is a foil Opening Day logo at the bottom.  The photos are the same as the base Topps set.  Naturally, the back has a different number.

2002 Topps Chrome #100

2002 Topps Chrome Vlad Guerrero

2002 Topps Chrome Vlad Guerrero back

Topps Chrome was here for its 7th year as a nearly, but not quite, full parallel.  Released in 2 series just like Topps, Chrome reproduced the first 695 cards of the regular Topps set using the chromium technology.  The other differences on the front are the Topps Chrome logo and the fact that the border is silver.  The back of the card is the same as the regular set except for the Topps Chrome logo and slightly different copyright wording.  The numbering is the same.  It’s kind of weird that the back is gold but the front is silver.

2002 Topps Chrome Gold Refractors #100

2002 Topps Chrome Gold Refractor Vlad Guerrero

2002 Topps Chrome Gold Refractor Vlad Guerrero back

Refractors were back, and they weren’t retrofractors this time.  But the regular season version of 2002 Topps Chrome didn’t have regular refractors – only gold refractors.  That makes an interesting twist to my collection here.  The back points out that it’s a refractor.

2002 Topps Chrome Black Refractors #100

Black Refractors made their first appearance in 2002.  They were very rare, which is why I haven’t been able to snag one yet.

2002 Topps Chrome Traded Refractors #T196

Vlad doesn’t have a card in the 2002 Topps Traded set, so I’m just using the card of Chone Figgins that I pulled.  They would be teammates soon after these cards came out.

The “Rainbow”:

COMING SOMEDAY TO A BLOG NEAR YOU

Any sets I didn’t get:  I didn’t include the black Kanebo cards above.  I’ve never seen that card for anyone but Magglio Ordoñez and So Taguchi, so while I think the card of Guerrero probably does exist, it’s unlikely I’ll ever find it.

Other cards I would have liked to do:  As I mentioned, I originally was going to go with Sosa because I found a silver Kanebo card of his.  Other than that, Vlad seems like one of the best cards in the set.  There are 55 guys in the Kanebo set, and most – but not all – are in Opening Day – so the population here is probably around 45 guys you could get all of the flagship Topps cards.  Raul Mondesi, Johnny Damon and Cliff Floyd are the 3 players who have all of the cards above – including a Topps Traded card.





Opening 2018 with a trade post

2 01 2018

OK, so I don’t really blog any more.  The biggest factor is having two young mobile kids.  That, and different interests.  But I hope to pick it back up at least partially in 2018.  Maybe blog once a week or so.  We’ll see!  The 2-year old is down and (hopefully) sleeping, so that’s promising.  Anyways, an easy way to start back up is with a trade post.  For a couple of trades, actually.

First up, Brian from Highly Subjective reached out to me in the Fall and we both agreed to send some cards from the “junk wax era”.  Specifically 1994-1995 which was the second era of my childhood collecting phase.  He posted a bunch of them here.  I remember it took me some time to filter through a ton of doubles from back in the day, but it was fun – companies used to have so much better photos on the cards!

Brian sent over some cards from my wantlist.  Here’s the two that I didn’t file away yet.

But he also sent over two really cool Reds cards, the John Franco is especially neat.  To me, he’ll always be the Reds closer.  And I mean that in two ways.  First, he’s our guy not the Mets closer.  Second, he’s the first guy I think of when you say “Reds closer”, not Danny Graves or Aroldis Chapman.  Even the Nasty Boys come in second because they were more of a committee.  A quick check on Baseball-Reference shows that he’s third behind Graves and Francisco Cordero.  And he did have quite a bit more saves with the Mets.  So maybe my logic is flawed, but the 8-year old me isn’t convinced.

I also sent some cards to Greg from Night Owl Cards, who I think is the only card blog that started before mine and has continually posted the entire life of my blog.

I sent the cards to Greg because I had been going through some older cards and knew I’d have some for him.  I wasn’t expecting anything back, but Greg did sent me some cards.  First, he sent me quite a few mascot cards.  I think I have posted somewhere on my blog that I like and/or sort of collect mascot cards.  This is true, but it’s actually a become a pursuit of my 5-year old, who is a growing baseball enthusiast.  And, with the nudge of his dad, a growing baseball card enthusiast.  We’ve bought boxes of 2017 and 2016 Topps Opening Day recently, and the mascot cards are easily his favorite.

He also sent me some legit cards from my wantlist.  Which means I have some checking to do!

That’s for another night though.  Alas, the 2-year old is complaining that his blanket isn’t covering him.





Five years later – a trade (ARPSmith)

24 10 2017

I obviously haven’t posted much on this blog.  It’s been 2 months, but at least the last post was something that brought about a trade.  Adam from ARPSmith’s Sportscard Obsession saw my last post and realized I’d completed a set that he hadn’t seen.  This is kind of crazy, because he has about the most detailed checklist of Giants cards I’ve ever seen.  Luckily, I ended up buying the whole set of the 2000 MVP Redemption set.  There are 2 Giants – Shawn Estes

Adam reached out right away, and sent me the cards below, but it took me nearly two months to send him his cards.  In part because I just don’t have the baseball card interest, but also because I wanted to find some other Giants cards.  I dug through the depths of my collection and found some cards like Upper Deck Collector’s Choice Silver Signatures, and a few others from that era.

Adam sent me a bunch of base Topps cards I needed.  A couple each from 2001 and 2002.

And about 35 or so from 2003.

I last traded with Adam in 2012, so it’s pretty cool to rekindle the trade fire.  I’m not sure when I’ll post again after this – hopefully less than two months from now!





Completed insert set – 2000 Topps MVP redemption set

12 08 2017

Unlike the redemption set from 1999 – which can be found on occasion for less than 30 bucks on eBay – the second of the two Topps MVP redemption sets is a really tough set to complete.  I’ve had a saved search on the Bay for at least 3 years, but any supposed hits have turned out to be incorrect.  Until a month ago, when a legit full set came up.

Info about the set:

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Set description: Topps had a promotion tied into a parallel set from 1999 and 2000 (this being the latter version).  Inserted at a limited rate into hobby packs were cards with a Topps MVP stamp on the front.  If the player depicted won MVP of the week in 2000, you could send that card in for a set of cards honoring each of the 25 winners.  There were only 100 of each of the parallel cards made, so that means there were at most 2,500 of the MVP redemption sets.  Particularly in 2000, there seem to be much fewer complete sets than that since the redemption expired after a year or so.

The cards in the set are the 25 weekly MVP “winners”.  They have a shiny foil background with the bronze word MVP going down the right side.  There’s an arch behind the players and 3 stars, with gold foil for the player’s name, team and week they won the weekly MVP distinction. The back of the card show the stats from the “MVP” week and a description of what the player did to earn the weekly distinction.

Set composition:  25 cards, send-in redemption

Hall of Famers:  3.  Pedro Martinez, Frank Thomas, Jeff Bagwell.

How I put the set together:

I gave up trying to find a complete set and started trying to buy single cards.  But this became pretty expensive.  When one showed up on eBay for bid, I kept my eye open.  I actually had a decent chunk of the set collected, but was missing some of the better players, and the Jeter seems to be going for $40 or so individually.  So I pulled the trigger on the full set for 80 bucks.

So now I have quite a few of these to put up for trade or sale!

Thoughts on the set:  This was probably a pretty cool concept in 1999, then lost steam in 2000.  Which is always a good way to make something rarer and thus harder to purchase 15 years or more later.  

I like the design of this set significantly more than I liked the 1999 set, and I think the idea of keeping fans linked to the season with their purchases cards is a great idea!

Card that completed my set:  N/A – bought it as a full set.

Best card (my opinion):  #MVP18 – Will Clark, MVP21 – Adrian Beltre

I love the design for this set, but the photo selections aren’t anything to write home about.  If I went on photo, I’d pick either Jeter or Giambi.  But for the coolness of the card, I was between Will Clark.  One thing I love about baseball is how often you can have one generation meet the next.  Will the Thrill first gained notoriety in the early 1980’s when he was the “Thunder and Lightning” duo at Mississippi State alongside Rafael Palmeiro.  Adrian Beltre just passed the 3,000 hit milestone – for folks reading this post 5 years from now, it’s 2017.  They meet in the middle in this set when Beltre is just getting started and Clark is finishing his career.  Since I think it’s so cool they’re in this set together – I’m picking both!

My Favorite Reds card:  #MVP9 – Dante Bichette

I was surprised to see Bichette got this but Ken Griffey Jr., who had a great season in his first year as a Red, did not.  But Bichette had a ridiculous week where he had 12 hits, 4 homers and an OPS over 1.600.  Makes sense.

Any other tidbits:  2000 NL MVP Jeff Kent did not get a card in this set – meaning he was never “player of the week”.  This isn’t too surprising – many folks (myself included) view Kent’s placement over his teammate Barry Bonds in 2000 as one of the more controversial selections for the award.





Sunday Stories: Major League Memoirs #8 – “The Big Bam” by Leigh Montville

6 08 2017

I originally set out to do this post back on February 5th – which was believed to be Babe Ruth’s birthday for a long time (later they found out he was born on 2/6/1895 – a day less than a year earlier than originally believed).  I started the book in mid-January, put it down for a while due to life being hectic, and then picked it back up and finished it in May.  Then more hectic life – finally, I’m doing the post for it today!  

If you count the book about the first All-Star game, Ruth has been the primary subject for half of the 8 baseball books I’ve read over the past 2+ years.  I find his life fascinating, which is probably why I’ve read so many books about his life.

Title/Author/Publisher: “The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth” by Leigh Montville (Random House, 2006, 416 pages)

Description:  There have been a lot of Babe Ruth biographies – and as I mentioned, I’ve read a few.  After reading this one, I still think the one by Robert Creamer is still the definitive one – even though (or maybe because) it was released 43 years ago.

So it may have been a bit overzealous to read this particular book.  And frankly, that probably factored in to why I picked it up and put it down.  But once I dove back in, this was a great book.  To be clear, it doesn’t hide from the fact that there were a lot of previous books released.  It uses the research done on the Bambino, trying to put the pieces together.  And it acknowledges that there was so much about this man’s life that we just don’t know for sure – “the fog sets in”.  We know what Babe Ruth did on the diamond.  But we just don’t know that much about his personal life.  For example, his daughter that he raised with his first wife was clearly not his first wife’s child.  But it does appear that Dorothy was in fact his biological daughter.  The book points this out, and moves on (appropriately) to more important things.

It’s been a while since I finished this book, which isn’t ideal as I would probably be able to give some more nuances if I had been more active on the blog and written this 2.5 months ago when I finished the book.  One thing I distinctly remember is that “The Big Bam” delved into Christy Walsh much more than the other books I’ve read.  Walsh was basically Ruth’s PR man – kind of the first personal PR man in American sports history!

My review:  So all that said, I really enjoyed this book.  Again, if you could read one Babe Ruth book – read Creamer’s.  If you can read two – read this one next.

Other Notable nuggets:  One tidbit I found interesting enough to jot down – near the end of his career, Ruth played against a group of Cuban All-Stars, facing off against Luis Tiant, Sr.  The father of the famous Red Sox pitcher from the 70’s.  I feel like you can’t make this stuff up.

1980 The Franchise Babe Ruth Classic #61