2011 Card of the Year!!!

31 12 2011

If you’re a Reds fan – it’s this, card hands down.  For the rest of you poor, misguided souls – I’m sure there’s some others.  Here’s some that jump to mind:

  • Heritage Sandy Koufax Real One Auto*

* – another Dodger, I must be going soft – but initially I thought either Sandy or Hank Aaron could be a potential Card of the Year.  Both Aaron and Koufax signed with Topps at the start of the year.  Sandy is a notoriously difficult autograph (though he’s had more than I thought in past baseball card products).  Aaron is the bigger name, and he has become more difficult to obtain as he gets up there in age.  What puts Koufax over the top here?  The combination of above, plus the fact that his card #5 out of 1962 Topps is particularly awesome, the auto is on-card, and Aaron’s is a redemption anyways (I haven’t even seen the actual card anywhere now that I think about it – just the mock-ups).

Anybody have any other favorites?





Completed insert set – 2011 Topps Heritage Then and Now

30 12 2011

This is the third of the “standard” insert sets in 2011 Topps Heritage that I’ve completed.  After this, I’ve still got the “New Age Performers” insert set and the Jackie Robinson variations to finish up – but I don’t know if I’ll get those finished in the very near future.

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Info about the set

Set description:  “Statistical comparisons between today’s stars and legends from 1962″.  The front shows the 2010 Major League leader in a specified category next to a player who was in the top 10 in the same category in 1962.  The reverse shows the MLB top-10 in that statistic for both years.

Set composition:  10 cards, 1:15 odds (2011 Topps Heritage)

Hall of Famers:  8 players – every retired player in this set is a Hall-of-Famer, however, Frank Robinson and Bob Gibson are featured twice.

How I put the set together:

  • 1 card from the hobby box
  • 3 cards from trades
  • 5 cards from Sportlots
  • 1 cards from Check Out My Cards

Card that completed my set:  #TN7 – Bob Gibson / Jered Weaver

2011 Topps Heritage Then Now Bob Gibson Jered Weaver

I got the last card as part of a Check Out My Cards purchase where I finished off a bunch of these insert sets.

Thoughts on the set:  Like the other sets from Heritage, this is one I think they’ve done each year for Heritage.  Unfortunately, this set gets limited by the older players Topps signed to be part of the Heritage brand.  Hence they’ve used Bob Gibson and Frank Robinson twice.  Topps didn’t sign Willie Mays for 2011 (though they have for 2012), so I understand him not being there.  Either way, this means they couldn’t always get the actual statistical leader from 1962 to compare to the 2011 leader.  I’m kind of wondering why they didn’t have Hank Aaron or Sandy Koufax – who are featured in autograph cards of the set.  Like many of these Heritage sets – I do like the idea – just asking for a little more in the execution department.

Best card (my opinion): #TN9 – Warren Spahn / Roy Halladay

2011 Topps Heritage Then Now Spahn Halladay

I just really like this card – Spahn isn’t always the first choice for these retro sets, so it’s good to see the greatest pitcher of his era next to the guy I think is the greatest pitcher right now.

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2011 Topps Heritage Then Now Bautista Killebrew

Any other tidbits:  Here’s the Statistic associated with each card and where the 1962 player ranked in the majors in that stat if they didn’t lead (and who actually did lead if they weren’t first):

  • TN1 – HR:  J. Bautista / H. Killebrew (2nd – Willie Mays led the majors, Killebrew did lead the AL)
  • TN2 – RBI:  M. Cabrera / F. Robinson (3rd – Tommy Davis)
  • TN3 – AVG:  J. Hamilton / F. Robinson (2nd – Davis)
  • TN4 – SB:  J. Pierre / L. Aparicio (3rd – Maury Wills, Aparicio did lead the AL)
  • TN5 – BB:  P. Fielder / M. Mantle
  • TN6 – ERA: F. Hernandez / R. Roberts (3rd – Hank Aguirre)
  • TN7 – K:  J. Weaver / B. Gibson (3rd – Don Drysdale)
  • TN8 – W:  CC Sabathia / J. Marichal (not even in the top 10 – so not on the back of the card – Drysdale)
  • TN9 – IP:  R. Halladay / W. Spahn (7th)
  • TN10 – SHO:  R.Halladay / B. Gibson (tied with 5 others)




Completed insert set – 2011 Topps Heritage Baseball Flashbacks

29 12 2011

This is another one of those “standard” insert sets in 2011 Topps Heritage.  Like the set I covered yesterday – this one is a “flashbacks” insert set.  Unlike the News Flashbacks set, this one honors baseball news in 1962.

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Info about the set

Set description:  “10 memorable baseball highlights from 1962.”  The front shows a player with the 1962 wood-grain border and headlines an accomplishment he made in 1962.  The back describes the accomplishment in more detail.

Set composition:  10 cards, 1:12 odds (2011 Topps Heritage)

Hall of Famers: 9.  Only Roger Maris isn’t in the Hall out of this group.

How I put the set together:

  • 2 cards from the hobby box
  • 3 cards from trades
  • 4 cards from Sportlots
  • 1 cards from either Check Out My Cards

Card that completed my set: #BF6 – Whitey Ford

2011 Topps Heritage BB Flashbacks Whitey Ford

This was from my Sportlots purchase in early December.

Thoughts on the set:  Like the News Flashbacks, this is a cool set.  I guess there weren’t a ton of big time accomplishments in 1962.  They included Mickey Mantle’s 400th home run, but the other 9 are just good games that certain players had.  Here are some of the things I think they missed – and I’m excluding the 3 baseball moments they had in the News set (which I’d have put here):

  • The Houston’s Colt 45’s had their first season as a franchise
  • Bo Belinsky of the Angels and Sandy Koufax threw the first 2 no-hitters in Dodger Stadium
  • JFK was the first president to throw out the first pitch of an All-Star game (it was held in DC)
  • Hank and Tommie Aaron both hit home runs in the same inning.
  • Tom Cheney struck out 21 batters in an extra-inning game – still a record
  • And the biggest oversight – Maury Wills became the first player with 100 stolen bases in a season, taking the NL MVP award
  • Whitey Ford (who is in the set) broke Babe Ruth’s scoreless innings mark for a World Series

Best card (my opinion): #BF6 – Whitey Ford

2011 Topps Heritage BB Flashbacks Whitey Ford

I almost went with Mantle, because it’s the only card that represents a true milestone.  However, I have a soft spot in my baseball card heart for the 1962 Topps card of Whitey Ford.  You see, my dad and I went to a sports show a long time ago, and Whitey Ford was signing autographs.  I got him to sign a somewhat beat up version of his 1962 Topps card.  It’s just about my favorite card in my collection.  So to have him on a card that is based on the 1962 Topps design?  That’s my winner!

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Completed insert set – 2011 Topps Heritage News Flashbacks

28 12 2011

This is one of the “standard” insert sets in 2011 Topps Heritage, though this one has (for the most part) nothing to do with baseball – it honors the 1962 year in the world.

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Info about the set

Set description:  “10 cards commemorating major news stories from 1962″.  The design is an offshoot of the 1962 Topps design.

Set composition: 10 cards, 1:12 odds (2011 Topps Heritage)

Hall of Famers: Jackie Robinson did made it into this set – for his HOF induction.

How I put the set together:

  • 2 cards from the hobby box
  • 1 card from the blaster box
  • 3 cards from trades
  • 2 cards from Sportlots
  • 2 cards from either Check Out My Cards or a card show

Card that completed my set: #NF4 – U.S. announces embargo against Cuba

2011 Topps Heritage News Flashbacks Cuba Embargo

This was from a 2nd Sportlots purchase.

Thoughts on the set: This is a cool set.  I think they’ve done this each year for Heritage – and I think it’s a great idea.  The point of Heritage is to honor a past Topps set – and having an insert set that also shows what happened in America (and the rest of the world) definitely makes sense.  There are a couple of things I’d change.  First, I’d number the cards in chronological order – no reason to make it random.  Also, they already have a baseball flashbacks set; move the 3 baseball-themed cards in that set.  There are certainly some other things that could have gone in this set.  Things Topps could have considered:

  • West Side Story wins Oscar for Best Picture
  • Johnny Carson takes over hosting The Tonight Show
  • The first transatlantic television transmission occurs via the Telstar satellite
  • Moon River by Henry Mancini was song of the Year

Regardless of changing a few cards – overall, I’d still give this set high marks.

Best card (my opinion): #NF2 – Glenn becomes first American to orbit Earth

2011 Topps Heritage News Flashback Glenn Orbits Earth

The Navy Seals and the Mona Lisa cards both informed of things I didn’t know – so that is kind of neat.  Out of those 2, I think it’s kind of cool to have a card of the Mona Lisa  – so it has the better picture of the 2.  But, when it comes down to it, I really like the space shuttle photo of the card noting that John Glenn orbited the earth.  So it wins.

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Any other tidbits:  As I did with the Goodwin Citizens set – I thought it would be fun to take a look at each of these cards and what they represent.

NF1 – Cuban Missile Crisis begins:  The cold war turned frigid in September 1962, as the Cuban and Soviet governments built bases for nuclear weaponry on the island nation.  Only after tense negotiations was the Cuban Missile Crisis resolved, with the Soviets agreeing to remove the arms as long as the U.S. promised not to invade Cuba.

NF2 – Glenn becomes first American to orbit Earth:  On February 20th, 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth.  Piloting the Friendship 7, he circled the globe 3 times in 4 hours 55 minutes and 23 seconds.  Glenn was hailed as a hero upon his return, receiving acclaim from President Kennedy and a ticker-tape parade.

NF3 – Mona Lisa exhibited in U.S. for first time:  In December 1962, the Mona Lisa went on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington – the first time the iconic painting had left France in 50 years.  More than 500,000 people viewed the work at its first stop in the U.S.  One million more saw it at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

NF4 – U.S. announces embargo against Cuba: On February 7th, 1962 – in an effort to promote democratization and greater respect for human rights in Cuba – President Kennedy broadened existing trade restrictions against the island nation. The embargo still exists today, limiting American businesses from conducting transactions with Cuban interests.

NF5 – U.S. Navy Seals are activated: The first two U.S. Navy Sea, Air and Land teams were commissioned in California and Virginia in 1962.  Part of the Naval Special Warfare Command, the maritime special operations force now includes approximately 2,400 elite fighters who undergo some of the most rigorous training in the world.

NF6 – Dodger Stadium opens its doors:  A crowd of 52,564 gathered to see the first MLB game at Dodger Stadium on April 10, 1962.  Bob Purkey of the Reds pitched 7-1/3 strong innings while Vada Pinson went 4-for-4 ands scored three runs to lift Cincinnati to a 6-3 victory.  The Dodgers captured their first win at the $23 million ballpark the next day.

NF7 – Mariner 2 successfully encounters Venus:  On December 14, 1962, Mariner 2 became the first space probe to conduct a successful planetary encounter.  The craft, which could carry 40 pounds of scientific equipment, passed within 35,000 kilometers of Venus while measuring the temperature distribution on the surface and making atmospheric observations.

NF8 – New York Mets join the National League:  After the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants moved west in 1958, the Big Apple was left without an NL franchise.  The Mets filled the void in ’62, one year after accepting a certificate of membership from League president Warren Giles.  The club played its first game on April 11 – an 11-4 loss to St. Louis.

NF9 – Jamaica gains independence, ends British rule:  On August 6, 1962 – a date celebrated annually on the island – Jamaica left the Federation of the West Indies and declared its independence, ending more than 3 centuries of British rule.  The affairs of the nation became the responsibility of the newly elected prime minister and a locally elected cabinet.

NF10 – Robinson enshrined in Cooperstown:  On July 23, 1962, Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to be inducted in the Hall of Fame.  A first ballot selection who helped the Dodgers with six National League pennants, he thanked Branch Rickey, his mother and the fans who supported him during a career spent battling racial injustice.





Completed insert set – 2011 Goodwin Champions Figures of Sport

27 12 2011

This is the 2nd of 2 “standard” insert sets in 2011 Goodwin Champions; unlike the last one, this one actually is about sports!

Info about the set

Set description:  Die-cut cards of Sports Heroes in 2 separate designs intended to look 3 dimensional.  The “common” cards are cut to look like a cylinder, while the last 4 cards are cut to look like a box.

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Set composition:  18 cards, 1:20 odds (2011 Goodwin Champions) – Cards #15-18 are rarer

Hall of Famers:  8.  Jerry Rice, Mia Hamm, Randy Couture, Bobby Orr, Ozzie Smith, Michael Jordan, Nolan Ryan and Wayne Gretzky.  All are Hall of Famers in their respective sports.

How I put the set together:

  • 2 cards from 2 hobby boxes
  • 1 card from a blaster
  • 6 cards from a card show
  • 2 cards from Sportlots
  • 7 cards from Check Out My Cards

Card that completed my set:  #FS-18 – Wayne Gretzky

2011 Goodwin Figures of Sport Gretzky

This was one the card I got from Check Out My Cards in December.

Thoughts on the set:  A pretty cool set.  Upper Deck is doing what it can with Goodwin Champions – and they put a solid group together and a cool design that’s different from what I’ve seen.  I like that they only have two insert sets – so this product was very collectible.

Best card (my opinion):  #FS-17 – Nolan Ryan.

2011 Goodwin Figures of Sport Nolan Ryan

Nolan.  Ryan.  In a Cowboy Hat.  Enough said.

Any other tidbits:  Here’s the sports represented by athletes in this set (counting Bo Jackson for both of his professional sports):

3 Football:  Jerry Rice, Cam Newton, (Bo Jackson)

3 Baseball:  (Bo Jackson), Ozzie Smith, Nolan Ryan

3 Hockey:  Bobby Orr, Sidney Crosby, Wayne Gretzky

2 Basketball:  Lebron James, Michael Jordan

2 Golf:  Michelle Wie, Tiger Woods

2 Soccer:  Mia Hamm, Landon Donovan

1 Mixed Martial Arts:  Randy Couture

1 Lacrosse:  Paul Rabil

1 Horse:  Curlin

1 Track:  Tyson Gay





Completed insert set – 2011 Goodwin Champions Citizens

26 12 2011

This is one of 2 “standard” insert sets in 2011 Goodwin Champions, and this one doesn’t feature anything to do with Sports.

Info about the set:

Set description:  This set has a black border and gray photos of famous contributors to world history.

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Set composition:  11 cards, 1:20 odds (2011 Goodwin Champions)

Hall of Famers:  None as it’s not a sports set.  These guys are in the World Hall of Fame!

How I put the set together:

  • 2 cards from the 2 wax boxes
  • 6 cards from a card show
  • 3 cards from Sportlots

Card that completed my set:  #GC2 – Mahatma Gandhi

2011 Goodwin Citizens Gandhi

This was one of 3 cards I got from the Sportlots purchase.

Thoughts on the set:  I’m so-so on this set.  I like the concept – but the black and white photos aren’t that great, and there are some things I’d have rather seen them do.  They had a #/10 Presidential Masterpieces set that are hand painted.  I kind of wish they had done a more common insert of that set with a non-painted version.

Best card (my opinion):  #GC3 – Vincent Van Gogh

2011 Goodwin Citizens Van Gogh

This card is done in the style of his paintings, which is pretty cool.

Any other tidbits:  Since this is a different kind of set – I’ll summarize the write-up on the back of each card:

GC1 – Jules Verne:  19th century French author who pioneered the science fiction genre.  His famous works include “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”, “Around the World in 80 Days”, and “Journey to the Center of the Earth”.

GC2 – Mahatma Gandhi:  20th century leader of India’s fight for independence from Great Britain through nonviolent means.

GC3 – Vincent Van Gogh:  19th century artist who painted some of the most famous works in history – but did not become famous until after mental illness drove him to commit suicide in 1890.

GC4 – Louis Vuitton:  19th century designer who founded a luggage company that now sells purses my wife would love to own.

GC5 – John Pemberton:  19th century chemist from Georgia who invented the formula for coca-cola.

GC6 – Herman Melville:  19th century author of “Moby Dick”.

GC7 – Walt Whitman:  19th century poet known as the father of the free verse.  His most famous work is “Leaves of Grass”.

GC8 – Pyotr Tchaikovsky:  19th century Russian Composer who composed ballets, “Swan Lake”, “The Sleeping Beauty”, “The Nutcracker” and “1812 Overture”.

GC9 – Louis Pasteur:  19th century French chemist who first linked germs with disease.  He pioneered the idea of pasteurization – heating fluids to kill microbes.  He also developed the first rabies vaccine.

GC10 – Alfred Nobel:  19th century inventor best known for establishing the Nobel Prizes.  He was actually an arms merchant who developed dynamite – he established the foundation as he was worried about his legacy.

GC11 – Gustave Eiffel:  19th century French designer of the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty and the Nice Observatory.





Completed insert set – 2011 Gypsy Queen Great Ones

25 12 2011

Merry Christmas to everyone!

The third and final “standard” baseball insert sets I’ve completed from 2011 Gypsy Queen is the Great Ones set.  I’m still working on the actual Gypsies insert set and have just a little to go on the base set, too.

Info about the set:

Set description: “Honoring 30 legends who have led the league in a statistical category”.  Another fairly broad description, but I still like what they’re doing by giving the set some parameters.  The cards have a maroon border with some fancy siding.  The Gypsy Queen script is at the top, with a banner with “Great Ones” just below that.

Set composition: 30 cards, 1:4 odds (2011 Gypsy Queen)

Hall of Famers: 26. Everyone but Thurman Munson is enshrined in Cooperstown.

Also, the last 3 cards feature players on their second card in the set, but with a different team from the earlier card – Babe Ruth (Yankees), Frank Robinson (Reds), Nolan Ryan (Rangers).

How I put the set together:

  • 8 cards from 2 wax boxes
  • 2 cards from retail looseys
  • 2 cards from a retail value pack
  • 11 cards from trades
  • 5 cards from Sportlots
  • 2 cards from COMC

Thoughts on the set:  I like what Topps did with their 3 regular insert sets.  This one is a full retired players set, Home Run Heroes was mixed, and Future Stars was all current players.  This is the middle one as far as my favorite.  I like that they gave it parameters – but I don’t like that they put 2 cards of players in the set.

Card that completed my set: #GO21 – Thurman Munson

One of 2 cards (the other being the Mick) that I got from Check Out My Cards in the beginning of December.

Highest book value: #GO15 – Mickey Mantle

Same answer as the Home Run Heroes sets.  When it comes to Beckett book value – the Mick is king.

Best card (my opinion): #GO10 – Jimmie Foxx

Double-X with an old school catcher’s mitt.  I’d have never known it, but Foxx did play over 100 games at catcher in his career.

This narrowly beats out the Mantle card.  The photo for the Mantle(well, for Gypsy Queen – the painting), is actually the same as an early 90’s card from Score of the Commerce Comet.  The shot is clearly set up – hard to tell in the GQ card, but for the Score card, it’s easy to tell it’s not during a game.  Either way, the flying dirt looks great.

My Favorite Reds card: #GO12 – Johnny Bench

This beats out the Frank Robinson for a couple of reasons.  It’s his first card, and like I said, I don’t like having multiple cards of the same player in a 30-card insert set.  Plus, the Bench photo is just cooler – and the Robinson photo is the same one as his Reds base set card.

Here’s the league-leading statistic each player is selected for:

  • GO1 – Andre Dawson: 189 Hits in 1983
  • GO2 – Babe Ruth: 1.75 ERA in 1916
  • GO3 – Bob Gibson: 13 Shut Outs and 1.12 ERA in 1968
  • GO4 – Brooks Robinson: 118 RBI in 1964
  • GO5 – Christy Mathewson: 37 Wins in 1908
  • GO6 – Frank Robinson: 122 RBI in 1966
  • GO7 – George Sisler: 51 SB and .420 AVG in 1922
  • GO8 – Jackie Robinson: .342 AVG in 1949
  • GO9 – Jim Palmer: 22 Wins in 1976
  • GO10 – Jimmie Foxx: .749 SLG in 1932
  • GO11 – Johnny Mize: 39 Doubles in 1941
  • GO12 – Johnny Bench: 129 RBI in 1974
  • GO13 – Lou Gehrig: .363 AVG in 1934
  • GO14 – Mel Ott: 135 RBI in 1934
  • GO15 – Mickey Mantle: 130 RBI in 1956
  • GO16 – Nolan Ryan: 1.69 ERA in 1981
  • GO17 – Pee Wee Reese: 30 SB in 1950
  • GO18 – Robin Yount: 11 Triples in 1988
  • GO19 – Rogers Hornsby: 250 Hits and 42 HR in 1922
  • GO20 – Rollie Fingers: 28 Saves in 1981
  • GO21 – Thurman Munson: 151 Singles in 1975
  • GO22 – Tom Seaver: 18 CG and 2.08 ERA in 1973
  • GO23 – Tris Speaker: 193 Hits, 46 Doubles and 287 TB in 1914
  • GO24 – Ty Cobb: 83 SB in 1911
  • GO25 – Walter Johnson: 313 K in 1910 and 303 K in 1912
  • GO26 – Honus Wagner: .423 OBP in 1904
  • GO27 – Cy Young: 1.62 ERA in 1901
  • GO28 – Babe Ruth: .732 SLG in 1930
  • GO29 – Frank Robinson: 134 Runs in 1962
  • GO30 – Nolan Ryan: 1.006 WHIP in 1991 (at age 44)