My Best Binder Page #2 – 1997 SP Buyback Autographs Ken Griffey Jr.

31 01 2016

1997 SP 96 Buyback Griffey Jr

It’s kind of amazing this isn’t the top card in my collection.  It’s close, but I think the story behind card #1 is pretty compelling.

This card is pretty amazing, too, however.

I’ve pulled a Jeter auto #’d to 5 out of 2008 Upper Deck Heroes, and a Prince Fielder SPX signed rookie card.  I’ve pulled a Hank Aaron autograph from 2012 Topps.  I’ve pulled a Nolan Ryan auto from 2001 Topps – and it made this top 9 countdown.

But nothing, and I mean nothing, beats pulling a rare card of your favorite player.  I found this card in 1997.  I had gone away from collecting for most of 1996 and 1997, however there was one exception.  I still collected Upper Deck SP.  I bought one box that year.  And I pulled this card.  Upper Deck had been inserting autographs into packs since 1990, but I had never pulled one.  And the buyback concept was very new.  It may have originated from this product, I’m not sure.  It was a good idea to me.  Unlike cards that were newly-made for the current product, buyback autographs seem more akin to getting an autograph at the ballpark.  If I could catch Griffey signing after batting practice – it would look something like this.

This card was from the year before – his ’96 SP card, and was #’d out of 312.  That was the highest print run of his buyback autos that year, but it is easily my favorite card I’ve ever pulled from a pack.

My Best Binder Page #3 – 2012 Goodwin Champions Masterpieces Harry Beecher

29 01 2016

2012 Goodwin Originals Art Yale Beecher

I’m enamored with the 1888 Goodwin set, and I really love the Goodwin Champions Masterpieces set that Upper Deck did in 2012.  They hired an artist to do hand-painted renditions of the 50 original Goodwin cards on standard 2½ x 3½-inch cardstock.  Each card has 10 versions, and the cheapest ones will cost you over $100.  I didn’t pull one in the 3 boxes I bought, but I made it a point to collect a few.  I own all the boxers from the set and the Buffalo Bill card.  But what I really wanted was the lone football player in the set.  The 1888 Goodwin card of Beecher was considered the first football card.  I’ve got more detail on it here, but a summary is below if you don’t have time to click too many places:

The 1888 Goodwin Champions set contained the first ever card of a football player.  Professional football was still some time away, so that card was of Yale captain Harry Beecher.  Beecher was the great-nephew of Harriet Beecher Stowe – the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  There’s a good write-up on the Yale captain at this link.  Beecher still holds the Yale record for the most career touchdowns (66); he once scored 11 TDs in one game.

I was looking for this card for well over a year.  A few months after Goodwin 2012 came out, it popped up on eBay and sold for over $300 both times.  That was too rich for me, though the trouble I had finding a 2nd card for sale meant I would think about paying that much if it came up again.  I got if for about $150 a year later, around Thanksgiving 2013.  It’s not as nostalgic as some of the other cards I’ve posed about, but it’s easily one of the 2 or 3 favorite cards that I own.

2012 Goodwin Originals Art Yale Beecher_0001

My Best Binder Page #4 – 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr.

27 01 2016

1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr

I’m into the top 4 from my “best binder page”.  The next 4 cards all have some particular meaning to my collection.

To me, there is a top 3 of iconic cards in the history of the hobby.  The T206 Honus Wagner.  The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle.  1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr.

Only one of those 3 is attainable for the average Joe.  And I have that card.  Actually, I have 2, but this is one I pulled from a pack about 20 years ago.  At the time, even this card didn’t seem attainable because it was selling for just under 100 bucks a pop.

In late 1988, through connections with a couple of California Angel players, Upper Deck was able to wrestle a 5th card license from Major League Baseball.  Their card/hologram connection was supposed to lessen the risk of counterfeiting which had become more common as the value of iconic cards like the Mantle or Wagner rose.

They were charging a whopping 99 cents per pack, which was 2.5x a Topps pack.  Their packs were “tamper-proof”.  They printed their cards on paper stock that seemed cleaner than cardboard.  They put color pictures on the back, and in general took a more fun approach to pictures on baseball cards.  They had a fresh card design.

And they picked a young rising star, Ken Griffey Jr., as the #1 card in their inaugural set.

In 1993 and 1994, I was going to at least 1 card show a month with my mom, probably more like every other week.  In addition to collecting cards from that year, I would usually buy one of two packs of cards when we left a show.  The first was 1993 SP, which I talked about with card #9.  It was probably going for 5 bucks at the time.  The other was 1989 Upper Deck, which probably cost the same, maybe a bit cheaper if you got the high numbered packs.  In one of those 89 UD packs, I pulled the holy grail, and I’ve held onto it ever since.  If I had pulled a second, I would have sold it, but I never did as a kid.  Years later, I bought a box and got one – that’s what’s sitting in my almost-complete set.  This card sits separately as its own piece to my collection.

My Best Binder Page #5 – 1999 Upper Deck A Piece of History 500 Home Runs Mickey Mantle

26 01 2016

1999 UD APH Mantle

On to the 5th card in my “best binder page”.  Junior Junkie came up with a great idea – out of all the cards in your collection, what are your top 9?  What’s your best binder page?

I’ve been collecting the Upper Deck Piece of History cards since before I started this blog.  I’m collecting this set (500 Home Run club) and the 3,000 Hit club as well.  Like my Jalen Rose collection, it’s is a set that doesn’t get much airplay here.  It’s just not the premise of this blog.  In fact, I don’t know if I’ve ever scanned one of these cards onto the blog until now.  It is a set I have been ever so slowly completing, though I don’t think if I’ve added a card in the last year or two.  That’s mostly because I’m getting closer to finishing both sets, and these cards are hard to come by.

In 1999, Upper Deck created these incredibly popular Piece of History cards of members of the 500 Home Run club.  They inserted them across Upper deck products that year, with some leaking over into 2000.  They also started a similar set for 3,000 hit club members in 2000.  This particular card was inserted into Upper Deck Ovation in 1999.

All of the cards had a production run out of 350, though they aren’t numbered.  The lone exception is the Babe Ruth, which only had 50 made and would cost about a grand to purchase.  I don’t have the Babe Ruth, so this card is the most impressive one that I own from the set.  I think I’ve actually had it for 6 or 7 years, and if I remember right I bought it for about $300.  It’s definitely a worthy representative in my top 9!

My Best Binder Page #6 – 2000-01 Topps East Meets West Game Jerseys Jalen Rose, Glen Rice

25 01 2016

00-01 Topps East Meets West Finals Jersey Jalen Rose Glen Rice

This is the 2nd, and last, non-baseball card from my top 9.  I have over 1,000 Jalen Rose cards, so I definitely felt like I needed to include a Jalen Rose card in my top 9.  I didn’t have to think very hard.  While there were a few other Jalen Rose cards that were in the second 9 – I knew this card would be included without having to go through my collection.

My parents went to Michigan, and I’ve always been a fan of the Maize and Blue.  The Fab Five really sparked me into becoming a sports fan, and Jalen was my favorite player on those teams.  I followed him all through college and the pros, and continue to do so now that he’s an ESPN analyst.

Jalen Rose ESPN

Jalen is best known for being a member of the Fab Five, but he also had a great NBA career.  He played 13 seasons, averaging 14.3 points per game.  He was the highest scoring player on a team that made the NBA Finals (99-00 Pacers), and he had 3 seasons where he averaged over 20 points a game.  He’s one of the best players who didn’t ever make an All-Star game.

Aside from an autograph card with Chris Webber and Juwan Howard – it would be hard to knock this card off the top pedestal.  It’s a jersey swatch from the 2000 Finals, when Indiana lost to the Lakers.  But the other guy on the card is particularly appropriate.  Glen Rice was nearing the end of his career, helping the Lakers to that title.  Rice is one of the few players who surpasses Jalen as far as his Michigan accolades.  He was the Most Outstanding Player of the 1989 Final Four, leading Michigan to their only National Championship.

My Best Binder Page #7 – 1888 Goodwin Champions Charley Mitchell

24 01 2016

1888 Goodwin Mitchell - 2015 NSCC

Next up is the 7th card in my “best binder page”.  This one finishes up the bottom row.  If you’ll remember, Junior Junkie came up with a great idea – out of all the cards in your collection, what are your top 9?  What’s your best binder page?

So far, I’ve had a 1993 SP insert and a 2001 Topps autograph.  Two fairly new cards.  Both are glossy.  One is die-cut.  The other has an autograph.  This card has neither.  It’s from 1888.  It’s boxer Charley Mitchell was an Englishmen who probably had the closest argument with John Sullivan as the greatest bare knuckle fighter.  The back is about half in tact.

1888 Goodwin Mitchell back - 2015 NSCC

But it’s the oldest card in my collection.  And I have the Upper Deck 2012 painted version from 2012 version, which is outright cool.

My Best Binder Page #8 – 2001 Topps Golden Anniversary Autographs Nolan Ryan

23 01 2016

2001 Topps s2 Nolan Ryan auto

Moving on to the 8th card in my “best binder page”.  If you’ll remember, Junior Junkie came up with a great idea – out of all the cards in your collection, what are your top 9?  What’s your best binder page?

Yesterday, I talked about the Tim Salmon insert card from 1993 SP and the nostalgia I can draw up by seeing that card.  This was another excellent pull – in fact, it was much rarer than the Salmon card.  I got this card in one of my 2001 Topps boxes, and it was a pleasant surprise since 80% of the box was damaged.  And while a 35-year-old can’t replicate the excitement of a 13-year-old kid, I was pretty damn excited about this card.  Plus, it was Nolan Ryan, who is kind of like my generation’s Mickey Mantle.  So that makes it approach the nostalgia.  I love that this card was a pull along the way while I’m doing this Lifetime Topps Project – sort of collateral addition to my collection.  And it’s an autograph of Nolan Ryan for Pete’s sake!

My Best Binder Page #9 – 1993 SP Platinum Power Tim Salmon

21 01 2016

1993 SP Platinum Power Tim Salmon

Yesterday I did the second best binder page in my collection.  Today is the start of the countdown for the best binder page.  If you’ll remember, Junior Junkie came up with a great idea – out of all the cards in your collection, what are your top 9?  What’s your best binder page?

This is the first card, or card #9.  To me this card barely beat out the Darren Dreifort Golden Spikes promo card.  It beat out that very rare card, as well as a number of other super mojo-type autographs.  Why does this card rank so high for me?  Well, in 1993 I was just getting back into baseball cards.  I had collected as an 8 or 9-year-old, but came back and I started going to card shows with my mom and brother.  I remember thinking Upper Deck was making the coolest cards you could imagine.  I had stopped collecting in 1989 before I even knew what Upper Deck was.  And then SP came out more toward the end of the year and I was hooked.  Between Upper Deck SP, Topps Finest and Fleer Flair, I thought these super premium cards were amazing.

To me, this is still the best looking insert set ever!

I would pick up a pack of so of Upper Deck SP and a big reason was because of this card.  In the first pack, I got this card.  Tim Salmon and Mike Piazza were taking baseball by storm as the new hot rookies, and I was partial to Salmon as opposed to Piazza.  So getting this card at 1:9 odds seemed amazing.  I can still remember the thrill of pulling it – I’m pretty sure it was at the monthly Holiday Inn show in Sharonville (Cincinnati).  I love collecting cards, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to quite recapture the excitement of a pull.  It’s mostly not possible because I’m not 13 any more.  But if I could bottle that up and take it out every now and then, that would be awesome.  On some level, I still can – by taking out my rarely opened Upper Deck binder and looking at this card.

It’s kind of amazing, I never finished this set.  I think part of it is that I want to keep the vibe of how unattainable it was to me.  Finishing it today by buying the last 5 or 6 cards I need on COMC would seem to cheapen that.  Still, I’ll have to finish it at some point.

RIP Monte Irvin, 1919-2016

20 01 2016

2011 Lineage 75 mini Monte Irvin 2nd best card

I am a little embarrassed to say that I didn’t hear about the passing of Monte Irvin last week.  Monte was 96 (almost 97), so he lived a good and long life, but I also remember reading that he was in very good health for his age.  So I was surprised.

Irvin first played professionally in 1938 with the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League.  As a youngster, he played with future Hall of Famers Mule Suttles and Leon Day.  Like many Americans, he spent most of 1942-1945 overseas for World War II.  This probably robbed him of some of his prime baseball years – he would have been among the best (if not the best) hitters in the Negro Leagues during those years.  After returning from the service, he went back to Newark where he played with future HOFers who also transitioned to MLB, Larry Doby and Don Newcombe.  In 1946, his first year back from the war, Irvin teamed with Doby to lead the Eagles to the Negro League World Series title, beating the Kansas City Monarchs and their famed ace, Satchel Paige.  Around that time, Branch Rickey approached Newark’s owner Effa Manley about signing Irvin.  There was at least some consideration that he, not Jackie Robinson, would break MLB’s color barrier.

Irvin was eventually signed by the crosstown rival Giants, coming up briefly in 1949 and playing his first full season in 1950.  He was instrumental in the Giants’ comeback to overtake Brooklyn for the 1951 pennant.  He led the league with 121 RBI, was 3rd in the MVP vote, and hit .458 in the World Series, which the Giants lost in 6 games to the Yankees.  That was his best year, but he played 4 more seasons for the Giants, and was the starting left fielder for their 1954 World Series victory.  He finished his career with the Cubs, then went on to become the first black executive in MLB’s front office.  In 1973, he was the 4th player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by baseball’s Negro League committee, following Paige, Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard in that distinction.  He was the first player elected by that committee to have played significant time in the Majors.  His number was retired by the Giants – all the way on the other coast – in 2010.

Like many Negro League players, he doesn’t have a ton of cardboard.  But because he was an excellent MLB player for over half of a decade, he does have some.  I never got an in person autograph from him, but I do have an autographed card of his from 2011 Lineage.  It’s a reprint of his 1952 Topps card, and it’s one of my favorite reprints – putting a real signature on a 1952 Topps design just looks great.  His card (shown above) in the base set of that year is my favorite card from the Lineage set.

Irvin is the 12th HOF-er to pass away since I started this blog.  He was by all accounts a gentleman, and the baseball world will miss him.

My 2nd Best Binder Page

19 01 2016

In November, the Junior Junkie came up with a great idea.

What’s your best binder page?

2nd best binder page

Well, this isn’t it for me.  But I digress.

The idea is – what are your favorite 9 cards in your collection?  List them, talk about why they made the cut, and then throw them in a binder page all together to show them off.  I’ve been wanting to do this ever since I read the idea, but I had to wait until after Christmas to do this.  My favorite card that I own was back at my parents’ house.  And then, when I got there, we had no idea where it was!  Well, I eventually found it, but that story is for a later post.  I’m going to do this one card at a time, because who doesn’t like to draw things out? 🙂

Once I had the card in question, I sat down over the New Year’s weekend and went through my collection.  I pulled any cards that I thought could make the cut.  I was very selective, but still came up with a total of 18 cards.  That’s too many!  Then I narrowed it down to 9 cards, which meant I had to cut 9 of them.  Then I realized, I basically had 2 binder pages, so I might as well put these cards in their own binder page.  Here are those cards, somewhat in the order of how close I was to including them.

2006 Upper Deck Artifacts Auto-facts Signatures – Ken Griffey Jr.

2006 Autofacts Griffey Jr

2012 Gypsy Queen Autographs – Ken Griffey Jr.

Griffey Jr Gypsy

Any Griffey autograph is really cool, but I have a different Griffey autograph that did make the top 9, and that made it hard to include these guys.  I paid for the Gypsy Queen card, and I got the Autofacts in a box break.  The one that did make the cut was one I pulled from a pack when I was 16, so it won out from the standpoint that it meant a lot personally to me.

2012 Topps Heritage Real One Autographs Red – Juan Marichal

2012 Heritage Marichal Auto

Unlike the 2 cards above, this was a card I pulled from a pack.  In fact, it was a card I pulled from a retail pack, which is really beating the odds.  While this was one of my best pulls – maybe the best from an odds standpoint – Marichal isn’t a favorite payer or anything.  So this card didn’t make the cut.

2008 Upper Deck Heroes Jersey Navy Blue – Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson, Joe DiMaggio, Derek Jeter

2008 UD Heroes memorabilia Berra Reggie DiMaggio Jeter

2008 Upper Deck Heroes Autographs Purple – Derek Jeter

2008 UD Heroes auto Jeter

Way before I started doing this blog, I kind of got back into baseball cards by buying a box of 2008 Upper Deck Heroes.  It’s easily the best box I’ve ever purchased.  These were probably the best 2 cards in the box, but I got a Jeter memorabilia card and a few other really rare pulls.  I was shocked they could put together a card with a piece of jersey from Derek Jeter and Joe DiMaggio.  Add in Yogi and Reggie?  Wow!  And that wasn’t even the best card.  The Jeter #’d out of 5 is probably the most expensive card I own.  And it didn’t make the cut.

2012 Topps Golden Greats Autographs – Hank Aaron

2012 Topps Aaron Auto

These last 4 cards could all have made the cut.  They were particularly tough to exclude from the top 9, and all 4 had an argument.  This was a card that I pulled from 2012 Topps series 1, and aside from the Jeter autograph, it’s probably the rarest autograph card I own.  Honestly, the main reason it didn’t make the cut was how the signature fits on the sticker.  It always kind of bugged me.  Not a lot, but enough to keep it off the first page.

1994-95 SP Die-Cut – Jalen Rose

1994-95 SP Die-Cut Jalen Rose RC

1999-00 SP Premium Autographics Blue – Jalen Rose

1999-00 Skybox Autographics Blue Jalen

I collect Jalen Rose cards, and would pretty much consider myself a super-collector.  I almost never post about them because it’s not the premise of this blog.  These are 2 of my favorite Jalen Rose cards.  The first is the die-cut version of my favorite rookie card of his.  The second is basically his first autographs inserted into a mainstream product.  This one is the rarer version numbered to 50.

1994 Topps Golden Spikes Promo – Darren Dreifort

1994 Topps Golden Spikes Dreifort

This was the toughest one to exclude.  This is one of 4 promotional cards that Topps made for the 1991-1994 Golden Spikes award dinner.  Dreifort was the last one I found.  These were cards that I didn’t think I’d ever have in my collection, which is why I almost put this in the top 9.  It will have to settle for 10th.  Another reason this card was so tough – I don’t have any cards from this Lifetime Topps Project.  That’s not that surprising – it’s more about collecting a bunch of sets than individual cards.