Completed insert set – 1999 Topps New Breed

29 04 2015

Continuing my catch-up posts for completed insert sets – this is “New Breed” from 1999 Topps.

Info about the set:

Set description: These cards showcase young players bringing in a new era of baseball talent, and are typical of the “shiny nineties” as far as Topps insert cards go.  The background of the photo has been turned into something as shiny as a hologram, while the words “New Breed” are displayed vertically on the left side of the card.  As is often the case with cards like this – they actually look really cool when scanned, but the shininess is a bit overwhelming when holding a cards.  The back has a spotted lighting effect and a write-up on the prospect.

Set composition: 15 cards, 1:18 odds (1999 Topps series 1)

Hall of Famers: None – this is too recent for a set based on younger players.  But Derek Jeter should be there soon enough, and there are a few others who will have legitimate shots.

How I put the set together:

  • 2 cards from my series 1 hobby box
  • 5 card from card shows (including 1 from the NSCC)
  • 1 card from a traded
  • 3 cards from Beckett’s marketplace
  • 4 cards from Sportlots

Card that completed my set: #NB9 – Derek Jeter

I got this card from Sportlots last October.

Thoughts on the set:  I don’t particularly care for the shiny stuff, unless it’s a nicely done hologram.  But this set does have quite a bit of star power.  Jeter and A-Rod are both included, and then you have Adrian Beltre, Vlad Guerrero, Paul Konerko, Todd Helton, Scott Rolen, Andruw Jones, Aramis Ramirez and Nomar Garciaparra.  Two-thirds of the guys in this set had great careers, which is pretty surprising for a young up-and-comer set.  Still, it does feel like an insert that could have been axed from the 1999 product – it doesn’t really stand out.

Highest book value: #NB9 – Derek Jeter

Best card (my opinion): #NB15– Adrian Beltre

The fact that Beltre is in this set made me realize how impressive his career has been.  He’s starting to become a legit HOF candidate – in fact, through last year, I don’t know how you wouldn’t vote for him.

My Favorite Reds card:  #NB13– Paul Konerko

Favorite is a bit of a tough word to use here.  On one side – I love this card, and the photo is the best in the set as far as fitting with the picture.  However, this card serves as a reminder that the Reds didn’t hold on to Konerko.

1999 Topps New Breed

1999 Topps New Breed_0001





Topps Cardboard Icons – Ken Griffey 5×7

27 04 2015

Griffey Topps Icon - Header

Topps has been coming out with various online-only products for quite a while now.  One of their best ideas is the Cardboard Icon series.  They take a Hall-of-Fame caliber player, blow up 5×7 reprints of their full run of Topps cards, throw a black border on each card, number it out of 199, and sell it on their website for 50 bucks a set.  You can also get gold border versions for $100.  The numbering is in the black border at the bottom of the card.  When you order a set – every card is numbered the same.  The set I bought is numbered 48/99.

This isn’t really in my collection wheelhouse, but I love Ken Griffey Jr.  He’s pretty much always been my favorite baseball player, and while I’ll never get too crazy collecting his cards, this seemed like a great way to get something showing off each of his Topps cards.  So I’ll scan each of these cards below and give the initial thought that I associate with that card.

1989 Topps Traded – Cool rookie card, but not as iconic as the Upper Deck card.

Griffey Topps Icon - 1989

1990 Topps – Similar photo, All-Star Rookie Cup, signature taped black bat.

Griffey Topps Icon - 1990

1991 Topps – Topps 40th.  Great photo – like many other cards in this set.

Griffey Topps Icon - 1991_0001

1992 Topps – Horizontal, asymmetrical – but still phenomenal.  Has a gold parallel.

Griffey Topps Icon - 1992

1993 Topps – Photo fits well with the underrated design.  What happened to the black bat!

Griffey Topps Icon - 1993

1994 Topps – First really glossy Topps set.  And Griffey sure makes it look good!  The black bat is back.

Griffey Topps Icon - 1994

1995 Topps – Going to the opposite field!  One of Topps’ worst designs.

Griffey Topps Icon - 1995

1996 Topps – Photo that fits with the eccentric “duplicate face” Topps design.  Where’s the fielder?

Griffey Topps Icon - 1996

1997 Topps – Classic Griffey follow-through. Definitely one of his 49 homers from the previous season.

Griffey Topps Icon - 1997

1998 Topps – Another classic follow-through.  This time on a pretty crummy design.

Griffey Topps Icon - 1998

1999 Topps – Even Griffey can make a crappy gold border look good.  This won best card of the set in the prestigious Lifetime Topps awards.

Griffey Topps Icon - 1999

2000 Topps – I was in college when Griffey was traded to the Reds.  It made me feel like I was 10 years old again. This was clearly a spring training shot.

Griffey Topps Icon - 2000

2001 Topps – Topps 50th. The Reds’ sleeveless uniforms were excellent.  Not sure why they added the HTA logo.

Griffey Topps Icon - 2001

2002 Topps – Orange border = gross.  Same photo, different uniform as 1995 Topps.

Griffey Topps Icon - 2002

2003 Topps – Another great Griffey card.  Blue border > Orange/Gold Borders.  I love when Topps has lineage in their design (1953, 1963, 1973, 1983, 2003 and sort of 2013).

Griffey Topps Icon - 2003

2004 Topps – Probably my favorite Griffey card.  I can’t wait to bust open the boxes for this set.

Griffey Topps Icon - 2004

2005 Topps – Not sure why they did the first edition parallel.  Interesting photo – I wonder why there is an American League logo in the back.

Griffey Topps Icon - 2005

2006 Topps – Nice card – most Griffey cards are.  This looks like a sacrifice fly.

Griffey Topps Icon - 2006

2007 Topps – I sometimes forget his first name is George.  Black dice border.

Griffey Topps Icon - 2007

2008 Topps – Last Reds card.  New Era.  I wish Topps still did photos like this.

Griffey Topps Icon - 2008

2009 Topps – Junior with the White Sox just looks weird.

Griffey Topps Icon - 2009

2010 Topps – Back with the Mariners.  As it probably should have been.  Griffey’s last card.

Griffey Topps Icon - 2010





Trade #6 with Night Owl

25 04 2015

I think this qualifies as my 6th swapping of cards with Greg of “Night Owl” fame.  That’s easily the most trades I’ve had with any other blogger.  I sent Greg some Dodger cards I’d found in my parents’ attic from my days of 1990’s collecting a little bit ago, and he mailed me some cards once he got through the dog days of March.  See March apparently is the worst month of the year if you are a Night Owl.  I was born in March, and so was my second son, so I have to disagree with Greg on that one.  February is the worst month in my opinion!  It’s cold, there isn’t baseball yet, but the only part of the football season I really like has just finished up.  And until I left my job as an auditor, I had to pull all-nighters at work for 5 of the past on February 27’s.

But now it’s April, which is a new day.  It’s much warmer (for the most part).  Baseball is back.  The Masters was just on.  I am a little busy at work, but the only times I don’t sleep through the night are when the 1-month old baby decides he doesn’t want to.  And I’ve got new cards from Night Owl to show off.

Greg sent me a few cards from the 2002 Topps set.  The 2002 Topps set – which I’ve opened, but not posted about yet!  Should be around mid-May, though.  Anyways, this is the set I’m shortest on.  Anyone who has some extras – let’s make a deal!

Trade - Night Owl 2002 Topps

He also sent me some 2014 Topps Heritage cards.  I’m very close to finishing up the regular part of the set.  The SP’s?  That’s another issue altogether.

Trade - Night Owl 2014 Topps Heritage

And he also sent some 2014 Topps inserts.  These are great to get – but, like the Heritage SP cards, there are quite a few left on the wantlist!

Trade - Night Owl 2014 Topps inserts

Last but not least – in fact, the best cards of this package – are 2 inserts from 1999 Topps.  These are the best to get in trades, just because anything that’s 15 years old is pretty hard to pick up without paying for it.

Trade - Night Owl 1999 Topps inserts

Thanks again for the cards, Greg!





Completed insert set – 2011 Allen & Ginter Hometown Heroes

23 04 2015

It’s nice to get to an insert set from Ginter completed.  Every year Ginter has one really common insert that comes more than every other pack.  Even though these are 100-card inserts, they are easier to finish than the base set, since that has 50 SPs.  In 2011 this set was Hometown Heroes.  I finished this set up almost a year ago – and am finally getting around to posting about it!

Info about the set:

Set description: “Featuring 100 MLB stars and their hometowns!”  The horizontally oriented set shows the player to one side with his last name and the name of his hometown.  A map with a flag in the player’s hometown is behind the picture on the other side of the card.  The back features a write-up of information about the player’s hometown.

Set composition: 100 cards, 3:4 odds

Hall of Famers: None – the set is all current players

Card that completed my set:  #HH-3 – Brian Wilson

2011 Ginter HH Brian Wilson

How I put the set together:

36 cards from 2 hobby boxes

44 cards via trade

7 cards from a card show

13 cards from Sportlots

Thoughts on the set:  As far as these 100-card Ginter sets go – this is as good as any.  It’s probably the best read of any insert set.  And the set is designed better than the base set – 2011 Ginter was the worst base set design in my opinion!

This was one of 2 cards I got from Sportlots in May.  Wilson is from Londonberry, NH, which was the home of the first potato grown on American soil.

Highest book value:  #HH-79 – Derek Jeter

2011 Allen Ginter HH Jeter

Jeter’s in the set, and he’s the most marketable as far as book value goes.  Jeter’s card talks about how he was an all-state basketball player, in addition to being the National Player of the Year in baseball.

Best card (my opinion):  #HH-54 – Joe Mauer

2011 Ginter HH Joe Mauer

In a set of Hometown Heroes – Joe Mauer is easily the first guy you think of as playing for his hometown team.  There are 3 others who’d qualify for that distinction – Neil Walker, Brian McCann and Jason Heyward.

My Favorite Reds card:  #HH-27 – Brandon Phillips

2011 Ginter HH Brandon Phillips

Phillips is actually the only Red in the 100-card set.

Other information:  Only two players in the set went to the same high school – Michael Young and Dan Haren.

2011 Ginter HH Young Haren

People named on the descriptions on the back include:

  • 6 MLB Hall of Famers (Tony Gwynn / Utley, Frank Robinson & Joe Morgan / Jimmy Rollins, Alexander Cartwright / Shane Victorino, Phil Rizzuto / Rick Porcello, Rod Carew / Manny Ramirez)
  • 5 academy award winners (Billy Bob Thornton on Cliff Lee’s card, Michelle Pfeiffer / CJ Wilson, John Wayne / Chase Utley, Hillary Swank / Alex Gordon, Steven Spielberg / Andrew Bailey)
  • 4 Grammy winners (Buddy Holly / Matt Kemp, Roy Acuff / Todd Helton, Don Henley & Norah Jones / Austin Jackson)
  • 2 NFL Hall of Famers (Don Hutson / Cliff Lee, Warren Sapp / Zach Greinke),
  • 2 US Presidents (Abe Lincoln / Jayson Werth, Thomas Jefferson / Justin Verlander)
  • a former MLB commissioner (Peter Ueberroth / Troy Tulowitzki)
  • a gold medalist (Babe Didrikson / Roy Halladay)
  • the Wizard of Menlo Park (Thomas Edison / Rick Porcello)

Here is a breakdown by state of the 100-card set:

  • 15 – California
  • 10 – Texas
  • 9 – Florida
  • 8 – Georgia
  • 4 – Tennessee, Washington, Virginia
  • 3 – Arizona, New Jersey, Oklahoma
  • 2 – Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Maryland
  • 1 – Connecticut, Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Dakota, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Wisconsin, West Virginia




Completed set – one last look at 2012 Goodwin Champions

21 04 2015

I’ve now wrapped up 2 of the Goodwin Champion sets.  These are tough ones to finish; it took me 2+ years to finish up 2011 Goodwin Champions, and about the same amount of time to finish the 2012 set.  This isn’t the set for those of you who like SP cards in the base set – there are three tiers of SP cards.  The 2011 set took the old Goodwin design and put stars from all sports and historical figures on the set.  They did the same thing in 2012, but the design changed significantly.  Of the 4 sets that have been released since 2011, this is my least favorite design.  I just don’t like the black border.

I’m sort of done with the master set yet, but I still need to finish up the World Travelers box topper set from 2011.  This is a set that spans 2011 and 2012, so I don’t want to do the master set post until I get the full set of that done.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Info about my set

How I put the set (base / SP / SSP / mini) together:

  • 149 (123/16/6/4) cards from my three hobby boxes
  • 43 (27/10/4/2) cards from Sportlots/Beckett/COMC
  • 26 (0/4/10/12) cards from eBay
  • 13 (0/10/0/3) cards from the National card show

Card that completed my set:  #6 – Carlton Fisk (completed via a November purchase from Beckett marketplace).

2012 Goodwin Champions Carlton Fisk

General Set Info

Set composition:  231 cards (150 base, 40 SP, 20 SSP, 21 mini-only)

There are 204 athletes

  • 59 Baseball (no active MLB, 21 minor league, 2 owners)
  • 32 American Football (12 active NFL)
  • 29 Basketball (8 active NBA, 1 WNBA)
  • 21 Golf (18 men, 3 women)
  • 18 Ice Hockey (2 women hockey players)
  • 10 Soccer (8 men, 2 men)
  • 5 Olympian (all summer – track & field)
  • 4 Lacrosse
  • 3 Horse Racing (3 jockeys)
  • 3 Boxing
  • 3 Surfing
  • 3 MMA
  • 3 Race Car Driving
  • 2 Professional Eaters
  • 1 Martial Arts
  • 1 Tennis
  • 1 Motocross
  • 1 Cycling
  • 1 Dog Sledding
  • 1 Wrestling
  • 1 Free Runner
  • 1 Chess
  • 1 Billiards

There are 27 non-athletes or “famous figures” in the set

  • 6 Outlaws/Lawman
  • 3 Actors
  • 3 Artists
  • 2 Political Figures (1 U.S. President & the Duchess of Cambridge)
  • 2 Military Figures
  • 2 Musicians
  • 1 Author
  • 1 Showman
  • 1 Inventor
  • 1 Astronaut
  • 5 “Other” (Native American, Explorer, Comic Book Writer, Video Game Player, Pilot)

Earliest active player from this set:  Baseball – #205 – Joe Start

2012 Goodwin Champions Joe Start

Hall of Famer Al Spalding was the winner of this distinction in the 2011 set for playing amateur baseball beginning in 1866.  He isn’t in the 2012 set, but there’s actually a guy in the 2012 set who started even earlier.  Joe Start played amateur baseball before the Civil War.  Start started his baseball career with the Enterprise of Brooklyn ballclub in 1860.  In 1862, he started playing for the famed Brooklyn Atlantics, the first dynasty in the National Association of Base Ball Players.   They surrendered their titles that year, but Start was on the team that ended the Cincinnati Red Stockings undefeated streak in 1871.  Start played in the big leagues until 1886, and I think the Hall of Fame should give him a good look.

Ross Barnes and Deacon White also played before the formation of the first professional league in 1871.  Barnes, who won the first National League batting title in 1876, played with the Rockford Forest Citys and was Spalding’s teammate there.

First Card and the Hundreds:  #1 – Bobby Orr, #100 – Tiger Woods, #200 – John Heisman

2012 Goodwin Champions first & 100s - Orr, Woods, Heisman

Highest book value: All of 20 the SSP’s are listed as higher than any other card in the set.

Most notable card:  #38 – Billy Hamilton, #222 – Billy Hamilton

Major League Blu Ray case

This has to be the only set in history with the two MLB players named Billy Hamilton.  Both guys were stolen base aficionados, yet they debuted 125 years apart!

Best card (my opinion):  #184 – Ned Williamson

2012 Goodwin Ned Williamson_0001

Babe Ruth – Roger Maris – Mark McGwire / Sammy Sosa – Barry Bonds.  All those guys held the single season home run record at one point (Sosa was tied with McGwire for a number of days after they had both hit 61).  But most people don’t know whose record Ruth broke.  That was Ned Williamson, who had hit 27 homers in 1884.  This is his only card after 1889.

For those of you wondering, Williamson nearly doubled the existing record of Harry Stovey, who had hit 14 the year before.  Stovey has a card in 2013 Goodwin Champions.

Second best card (also my opinion): #102 – Mike Tyson

2012 Goodwin Mike Tyson

Sweet card of Iron Mike.  This one beats out the card Hulk Hogan has – narrowly!

Best subset card: N/A

Favorite action photo: #84 – Greg Maddux

2012 Goodwin Greg Maddux

I bet he throws a wicked wiffle ball.

Favorite non-action photo: #102 – Mike Tyson (see above)

My Favorite Reds card: #29 – Johnny Bench

2012 Goodwin Johnny Bench

Bench beats out fellow Big Red Machine member Pete Rose.  Rose’s card might be the worst in the whole set!





The Hobby.

19 04 2015

It's alive

It’s…  alive!

I just did a search on eBay.  There were 3,524,888 items up for sale under the category “baseball cards”.  I could probably leave it at that, but I won’t.

This seems to happen every few years, or maybe it’s once or twice every year.  The last time I really got into it enough to post something about it was when 2012 Topps came out.  For whatever reason, that was a year that more bloggers swore off collecting Topps flagship than any other year since I’ve been blogging.

Kids and cards

Anyways, it usually goes something like this.  An article or a video comes out about how the baseball card hobby is dying, and us bloggers discuss it in various forms.  It usually focuses on how card shops are closing, card shows aren’t as prolific as they were 20 years ago, and how kids aren’t involved any more.  It often treats eBay as the killer of the hobby.  Discussion ensues.  It’s often a bit negative for my taste, and it but it is usually pretty interesting.  Then we all go back to collecting cards.

Tanmanbaseballfan who does 6,000,000 cards and counting had a post the other day giving his opinion on the hobby dying.  I basically agree, and started to write a comment on his post.  Once I got to the 6th sentence, I realized it was more suited for a post.

Internet purchases (eBay, Amazon, etc.) and superstores have changed the way we buy cards.  But eBay didn’t kill the hobby – it transformed the hobby.  It did kill the traditional local card shop as we think of it.
Two thoughts:
  1. This is far from unique to baseball cards.  Wal-Mart, Target, eBay and Amazon have put out a lot of other local businesses.  They’ve made grocery stores less profitable and put some out of business.  They’ve also put RadioShack and Borders out of business, while putting Best Buy and Barnes & Noble (who were the superior of their fallen competitors) on notice.  Larger stores like Home Depot have made local home improvement stores relatively obsolete.
  2. I don’t think this is a bad thing.  It’s nice to be able to have my groceries mailed to me or get them at Target.  Getting electronics on the internet is convenient (though sometimes I do like to go to Best Buy – I always thought it was better than RadioShack).  It’s better that I can go to Home Depot for anything I need for my house, as opposed to the local store that has 1 of the 3 things I need.

I’m sorry that some card dealers haven’t been able to change with the times.

Just kidding.  Scratch that.  I’m not sorry at all.  This is America, and that’s how capitalism works.  The fact is, card shops are losing because they’re not as competitive.

  • Many card shops aren’t open on weekends (and definitely not on Sundays) or after 5 PM on weekdays, which isn’t convenient for the majority of the working public to go to a card shop.  Target is open every Sunday, and it’s open at 7 PM on Tuesday if I need to pick something up on the way back from work.  So is eBay!
  • Card shops often don’t have a legitimate internet presence, which would help them reach a wider and varied audience.  I can look up online what target has in store (and obviously this goes without saying for eBay).
  • Finally, and probably most importantly, a box you can get for $80 from eBay or Blowout Cards will cost you $110 at the typical card store.

There is one area where card stores could differentiate themselves: customer service.  I think many collectors would be willing to look past the other factors if they could go into a clean store and talk baseball with someone else who has the same interest.  There’s a local card store I go to where the owner doesn’t necessarily have everything above figured out, but he is open on Saturdays and he’s super-friendly.  I’m willing to pay a bit more for a box of cards 3 or 4 times a year because I enjoy the experience when I go into his shop.  He still charges me the same price for the box, but a lot of times he throws in the $5 or $10 in supplies I was picking along with the box.  When I lived in New Jersey, there was a card store in New Jersey that was very similar.

Unfortunately, those shops are kind of the exception and not the rule.  Many of the card stores I’ve been to look disheveled and disorganized.  The owners act disinterested in their customers or, worse, kind of creep them out.  In short, if it’s not a place I’d want to bring my 3-year old, I’m probably not going to want to go there either.

The hobby isn’t dying.  Are local baseball card shops dying?  Yes, that’s undeniable, but don’t confuse the two.  It’s different from it was 20 years ago, just like 1995 baseball card collecting was different from 1975 and from 1955.  Interest in sports memorabilia is as big as it ever has been and baseball cards are a subset of that.

I just did that same search for “baseball cards” on eBay, and the number dipped below 3.5 million auctions.  So some people just bought and sold a few more baseball cards.  If I do it ten minutes from now, the number will probably be above 3.5 million.  I don’t see anything in the next 50 years that will bring that number down to zero.  As long as they are playing sports, people will be interested in memorabilia related to sports.  And they’ll be wanting to buy baseball cards.





Subjectively completing an arbitrary trade

18 04 2015

A little over a week ago, I finished up a trade with Brian from the blog Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary.  This is trade #9 of 2015 – a good pace!  I sent Brian a wide assortment of about 100 cards from his wantlists – quite a few cards from my old collecting days back in the 90’s, and a few more from today’s Topps sets.

Brian sent me a bunch of 2015 inserts, but we’ll get to those in a minute.  First up, he helped me out with 5 cards from 2001 Topps.  I’m still a ways away on that set – but it’s slowly getting whittled away.

Trade - Highly Subjective 2001 Topps

This trade helped with 2001 Topps – but it finished off the 1994 set for me!  I was missing 3 cards, and one of them was card #379, which actually was printed as #370.  See, this is one of those errors where Topps printed 2 of one card number (#370) and none of another card number (#379).  I already had Benito Santiago – but did not have Mark McLemore.

Trade - Highly Subjective 1994 Topps

At the rate I’ve been going – I’ll get to the completed 1994 Topps trade post next April…

Aside from the help with the primary part of my project, Brian sent over quite a few inserts from 2015.  This is great – love to get these crossed off the list via trade whenever possible.

Trade - Highly Subjective 2015 Topps inserts

I really like the 2015 inserts.  In my opinion – it’s Topps’ best effort since I came back in 2010.  Every set has a specific theme, which is important to determining if I like the sets or not.  The Springer below is my first card from the “Robbed” insert set.

Trade - Highly Subjective 2015 Topps inserts 2

Trade - Highly Subjective 2015 Topps inserts 3

Last but not least – Brian sent over a few Reds cards just because.  I love the Cueto relic – this is my second relic of his.  I’d say I’ve got a collection going, but in a year the jersey swatch in his cards probably won’t be for the Redlegs.

Trade - Highly Subjective Other Reds cards

Thanks for the trade, Brian!