Worth a read

20 02 2017


Never played on my favorite team, but always one of my favorite players.  He’s actually a half-year younger than me.  Eesh.

A guy who plays a full year in the minors after a great career gets a ton of respect from me.  He wasn’t in it for anything more than loving baseball.

Putting a Big Hurt on a PSA case

1 07 2016
William Wallace


In April I did a bunch of posts about the parallel cards I was collecting for the Lifetime Topps project.  The first year where I didn’t have every single card I wanted was 1996 Topps.  I was missing the Topps Chrome Refractor for Frank Thomas.  At the time, I lamented the fact that I had passed on paying $20 for an ungraded version of that card on eBay.  Well, I found one for two-thirds of that recently, but it was “encased”.  And graded cards don’t fit in a binder next to the other Frank Thomas 1996 Topps cards I have.  Here’s a progression of what I did to


For anyone doing this, I’d recommend going to the closest thing you have to a sound proof room.  If you have a baby and a 4-year old, a wife, a girlfriend or any combination of the above, you don’t want them getting pissed mid-strike.  That could lead to interruption, which could lead to a damaged card.


Speaking of damaged cards, be careful once you get that quiet room, be careful.  You need to hammer the case hard enough to get some breaks each time, but not so hard that you crack the whole thing in one swing – which would turn that “8” into a “4” right away.  Hammer on the back of the card, because, a scratch on the back isn’t really a big deal. Also – and this is the best advice because I only learned it after doing this a few times – hammer from the bottom.  You just need to get that card out of the way.  The top has the PSA logo and that just means added glass to break.  Go to the bottom – the point of least resistance.

Frank has his freedom.  William Wallace would be proud.

My Best Binder Page – all together

3 02 2016

This is the only time I’ll do this for these cards.  After this scan, they are going back to their respective homes – top loaders, snap cases, or binder pages.  But for one shining moment, the top 9 cards in my collection are all together in one binder page!

Best binder top 9 cards

A thing of Beauty.

My Best Binder Page #1 – 1962 Topps Whitey Ford

1 02 2016

1962 Topps Whitey Ford signed

This card is from 1962, which is pretty old.  But it’s not all that old.  I have 30-40 cards in my collection older than this one.

It’s plenty beat up.  The corners are rounded.  It isn’t perfect on the face – you can see there’s a scratch on Whitey’s cap.  It’s cut OK, but not great.  Heck, it’s even been defaced with some writing :).  There aren’t any creases, so I guess the card has that going for it.

On the flip side, it’s from 1962.  That’s my favorite set.  Which is a bit of the chicken or the egg thing.  I think the reason I love the 1962 Topps set, and by extension the 1987 set, in large part comes back to this card.

It’s condition gives it character.  It’s rounded corners make it feel like it meant something to somebody before I found it.  It probably got moved around a bit, which is why it has a few small scratches.  It’s cut pretty well for a card that old.  And the way Ford signed it across his arm is perfect for the design of the card!

The reason this card is #1 in my collection isn’t because of the value.  I did some quick eBay research, and I’d be shocked if I could 50 bucks for this card.  I love this card because of the history behind it.  I am a bit hazy on the specific details, but I know that its history with me began in the late 1980’s.  I found the card at an antique show with my mom.  She used to go “antiquing” on the weekends and my brother and I would tag along because sometimes we could find baseball cards.  And I found this card on one of those trips.

At some point not so shortly thereafter, my dad took us to an autograph show where some baseball immortals were signing.  Eddie Mathews and Whitey Ford were the 2 autographs we picked up on.  Two guys from my dad’s childhood.  He told me the story over the holidays – he got a nickname Whitey when he was a kid because his hair was so light.  So he kind of liked Ford even though he despised the Yankees.  This card is from the year after the Yanks swept his (and now my) favorite team, the Reds, in the World Series.  So it’s quite possibly taken from that same season.  Anyway, we got Mathews to autograph a baseball. I still have that.  And we got Whitey to autograph this card.

This was my prize possession for a long time, but as time went by I found “cooler” cards like 1993 Upper Deck SP.  And then I didn’t collect cards for a while.  Long story short, I couldn’t find the damn thing for the longest time.  When this idea came up from Junior Junkie’s blog, I knew I couldn’t adequately put together a true top 9 if I didn’t know where this card was.  So when I went home for the holidays, I made it my mission to find the card.

That’s not easy to do.  If you’ve seen my parents’ 3rd floor, you’d understand.  That used to be my room in high school, but after the kids went to college, it became the “old hoarded stuff” room.  Among other things, the baseball cards that me, my brother, my mom, and even my little sister used to collect from 1993 to 1995.  And I can see now that we were ridiculous.  There’s more 1993 Leaf cards in that attic than there should be in any 10-mile radius.  And they’re not expertly organized.  I spent two pretty late nights trying to sift through those cards, and couldn’t find the card.  Just stuff I already knew was there.  At 2 AM on Saturday night / Sunday morning, I gave up.  I was dejected that I couldn’t find it and now I was depressed that I was going to have to drive back to Chicago with 2 young children in tow on far less sleep than I’d like.  Just before I was gonna go downstairs, I thought to look in the attic part of the 3rd floor.  There shouldn’t be any baseball cards in there, but it didn’t hurt to try.  What’s the difference of another half-hour when you’re already gonna get less than 5 hours of sleep?

Good move on my part.  There were 2 shoe boxes of cards, containing stuff from the late 80’s when I first started collecting.  From the time period when this card was obtained.  It didn’t take me long.  I found it, buried behind cards that were far less worthy.  But it was in a screw down case, which showed the prominence it was given at the time.

And now it’s back and truly in my collection!  I was so glad I found the card.  This card was one of my first card collection memories, and is also one of my first memories associated with baseball.  I got the card with my mom.  I got it signed with my dad.  They were both happy the next morning when I found it, so that all makes it pretty cool.  And the #1  card in my collection.

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.