When I opened my first pack of 2000 Fleer Greats of the Game baseball some 14 years ago, I was immediately drawn to the set. The simplistic design and checklist appealed to me. And of course there was the fact that I pulled the Nolan Ryan autograph on that first day, just as I wished.
Over the last 18 months, I casually started to gather other autographs from the certified set. And before I knew it I had made real progress toward achieving something I once thought was impossible — completing the autograph set.
Well, I’ve written here and in a Beckett Baseball Magazine column how far I had come and how I had met a pair of dealers at this year’s National in Cleveland who had some of the harder-to-find short printed autographs. At the show I acquired two of the harder ones. And then when I got back home I established contact and essentially agreed to purchase three others that they had that I needed.
The first that I acquired from the dealers after the show was Johnny Bench. I got a fantastic deal on the card, but as I documented about six weeks ago, the transaction was far from smooth. The hang-up really happened with the United States Postal Service and the Bench card spent 19 days in Postal Purgatory.
When it came time to complete the transaction for the final two cards I was a bit reluctant. Not because of anything the dealers had done. Rather I was a bit gun-shy due to the USPS service. Would I really spend nearly three weeks on pins and needles waiting for my cards?
Well, much to my surprise, the second half of the transaction went down rather smoothly. And in just three days (from New York to California) I had acquired two more short prints, cards of deceased Hall of Famers Phil Rizzuto and Warren Spahn.
And so where does this leave me with my set? Down to the Final Four.
Yep. Four autograph cards stand between me and a complete set — minutes that Derek Jeter autographed card that, in my mind, does not count as it was not originally released with the set.
So who are these pesky four players whose signed cards have yet to find a home in a penny sleeve, black top loader and team bag in my collection?
Three of the players are Hall of Famers, and if you know a thing or two about this set, they are all probably the three hardest — and most expensive — cards to find in this set. They are George Brett, Mike Schmidt and Kirby Puckett.
And the fourth card? It’s not a short print. It shouldn’t cost me too much. Heck, the player on the card is not even a Hall of Famer. It’s Alan Trammel, whose card I had seen long ago and decided to wait on since it was one of the “cheaper” ones in the set.
Nonetheless, it’s clear to me that the contact I made at The National — with a little help from Beckett Baseball Editor Chris Olds, who actually located the dealers while I was trudging through bargain bins — has been a vital contact point for getting this close. It just goes to show that while the world is at our fingertips via the Internet and our Smart Phones, personal contacts are still important.
You can see each of the 88 cards I have acquired thus far in this 92-card set HERE.
I made a short trip to the thrift store today with my son and lookie here … a baggie of cards worth buying.
They had about a dozen bags, 10 of which were filled with 1988 Topps cards, one that had a stack of Pro Set hockey from like 1991-92, and then this one, which had some oddball San Francisco Giants cards. See the small sections of orange? I like to buy baggies when they have local odd ball releases. Sometimes they can be valuable, other times it’s the only place you’ll find them these days as they were more than likely a giveaway for children. And we all know that once children get a hold of things — especially made of paper — more times than not they’ll end up in the trash.
So I plunked down the$3.99, which is a bit more than I like to spend on a “blind bag,” but I could see there was a rookie-year (or maybe early 2011?) Posey from one of these sets inside. I figured that card alone would be worth my money.
Well, when I opened the bag, I was pleased to find not just the Posey, but the entire nine-card set, which appears to be a Junior Giants giveaway from early 2011. The back of the cards are not dated, but there is the 2010 Giants World Series logo on the bottom. It could be a late 2010 release, but I’m guessing early 2011. I’m not positive on how these cards were distributed, but it would appear that they were given individually to a child once they completed a task as described on the back of the card. The set features Posey, Maddision Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Brian Wilson, Freddy Sanchez, Cody Ross, Aubrey Huff and Andres Torres.
While I would have been pleased with just those nine cards, I was pleasantly surprised to find a partial set of other Junior Giants cards. Based on the format, I gather that there were nine cards in this set as well, however this baggue only had seven of them. Well, lucky for me the most important — Posey — was included here, as was a card of Pablo Sandoval. If I had to guess, these cards with the black border across top are actually 2010 releases based on the lack of World Series logo and the inclusion of Bengie Molina and Aaron Rowand. This of course would make the Posey a actual rookie-year release, which of course could make this a tough rookie-year issue to find for a collector.
The remainder of the bag was pretty brutal, but there was one other small nugget in here, a 2002 Fleer Tradition Mini Al Levine, serial numbered 38/50.
To see more Thrift Treasures posts, click HERE
So, it’s no secret at this point — I am working feverishly on the 2000 Greats of the Game baseball autographs set.
This set, as I have said here and in one of my recent Beckett Baseball Monthly columns, is easily one of the most iconic sets of our hobby’s history. It is one of the best looking and boasts one of the strongest signature lineups. And even though it is nearly a decade and a half old, there is a loyalty to the brand as many of the harder-to-find autographs fetch a serious premium.
Well, in August at The National, I met two guys who formed a business relationship. At their booth I spotted a handful of short prints that I needed for the set. At the show I was able to nab two of the cards, Tommy Henrich and Dave Winfield. But there were still at least three others that I needed that they had.
In the weeks after the show I reached out to the dealers and they still had the cards that I needed. We struck a deal for the Johnny Bench, whom I think has one of the best-looking autographs in the sport. And so I sent a money order to the dealers in exchange for the card. The card then was presumably stuffed into a padded envelope and mailed from New York — en route to me in California — on Sept. 13.
The seller sent me an e-mail advising as such and even provided the tracking number. The package was also insured. I checked the tracking info and it estimated that delivery would be made to me on Sept. 16. I was stoked.
Well, Sept. 16 came. No package.
Then Sept. 17 came. No package.
Sept. 18 came and went and still no package.
I feared that the package might be lost, but I waited a few more days knowing full-well that the package would have fallen behind a bin somewhere. After all, I had a deal just two weeks earlier in which I sent a card from California to Georgia and it took 10 days for it to arrive. Frustrating, but I know things happen.
Well, I waited and after 10 days I reached out to the dealers to advise that the package had not arrived and that if there was anyway they could check with their post office. After all, the last shipping information showed that the package had merely departed the post office. No further updates after that.
At this point I realized that I could receive text messages advising me of every time the package is scanned along the route so I signed up for that.
And then just hours after I sent the e-mail to the dealer, I received a text message advising that the package had departed from … New Jersey.
Perplexed I was. But hopeful I remained. (whattup, Yoda!)
So I sent an e-mail to the dealer advising of movement and we both were excited as it seemed that the package should be in my hands within just a few days and then w could proceed with a second purchase.
Well, guess what? The trail went silent. After departing New Jersey on Sept. 23, 2014, there was no update for a week. I had no card. I had no clue where the card really was. And on Sept. 30, a week after the last update, I spoke with the dealer by phone and he told me that he had spoken to the post office — they advised to wait another week and if the package had not arrived then to proceed with the insurance claim.
At this point I figured the card was at the bottom of the ocean, stick in the wheel well of some airplane or just sitting in some postal carriers home — theft does occur, we all know that.
And then lo and behold that same night, as I was preparing to put my kids to bed, I get a text message advising that the package was in California.
Overnight I receive multiple text messages advising that it had been scanned here, sent there and ultimately placed out for delivery.
And so, after 19 days in what I’ll call “Postal Purgatory” the card arrived. My 2000 Greats of the Game Johnny Bench short printed auto has arrived and taken its place along with the other legends of this set.
I recently heard from one of my Twitter followers that he enjoys the Thrift Treasures series, but wished they were more frequent. Believe me, me too. My time these days, however, is occupied by work and my kids. It’s easy for me to stop into a store and buy something, which I frequently do, but finding the time to chronicle it on my blog is another.
That said, here’s a trio of baggies I found earlier this week that set me into a small, cheap cardboard frenzy.
I’ll say this up front: It is NOT uncommon for me to find bags of cards in thrift stores. I see them everywhere, but it is worth the time to look closely and see what should be inside. Notice I did not say OPEN them or to do a full-on search of them like a pack searcher. But look closely and see if you see flashes of shiny inserts, drab-looking vintage or something else. Something that might lead you to believe there is more than a stack of 1989 Topps or something.
Heck, with the exception of the baggie shown here on the right, which has a 1974 Topps Boog Powell showing on the back, you might just gloss right over the other ones. After all, it looks like the bag contain nothing more than junk wax era filler.
But a little visual inspection shows that the one on the left had a small section of a dozen or so cards that appeared to be 1992 Japanese Baseball Magazine (BBM) cards, the one in the one in the middle had some parallels and inserts, and the one on the right had multiple vintage cards within.
For the price of two retail packs, I figured I’d roll the dice. You know I love to share my Thrift Treasures.
We’ll start with the middle bag.
In 1995, Pacific released this pretty decent looking base cards set that had full bleed photos on three sides, and then a strip of gold foil along one border. It’s a very 90s design, one I actually enjoyed. Within this particular bag, I could see a small section of about a half-dozen cards that had blue edges instead of the gold. Obviously they were parallels. Additionally, I could see the sweet die-cut crown insert peaking out from within the stack.
There were no big names among the parallels, but the die-cut was Drew Bledsoe, and there were other inserts, notably the Dan Marino “Hometown Heroes” an the Jerry Rice “Gems of the Crown.” And the base cards weren’t half bad: Steve Young, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and John Elway were the highlights. Not a bad stack of cards for $1.99.
Next we’ll turn our attention to the left baggie, the one with the more modern cards.
As noted earlier the primary reason I wanted this one was the small section of what turned out to be 10 1992 BBM Japanese baseball cards. Ichiro’s rookie is in 1993 (I own it) and Hideo Irabu and Hideo Nomo are in 1993 (I own those as well). So who is in 1992? No clue. But I don’t get to see these very often.
As you can see there are a total of 10 Japanese BBM cards here, nine players and a checklist. One name is familiar — Carmelo Martinez, who played in the Majors — but the others are guys I’ve never heard of. My favorite is, of course, the rookie card of one Jun Takeshita. What a fantastic name.
The remainder of this bag had a few notables: a 1990 Bowman Larry Walker rookie card, a 1989 Bowman Ken Griffey Sr. card that also features the younger Griffey as a rookie, and these pictured.
And the last bag is where the fun really begins as it contained some cards that were some 30 and 40 years old. And they weren’t just commons. The first card on the outside of the bag is a 1974 Topps Boog Powell, who was a member of the Baltimore Orioles on this card. There were a few other Orioles in the bag as evidenced by the 1972 Frank Robinson and 1974 Brooks Robinson also in this lot.
There were a few Cincinnati Reds too …
Like Hall of Famers? Me too. They were in here as well.
Loving my new 1971 Topps Tom Seaver, even if the borders appear to have been touched up at some point.
This is a sweet 1972 Topps pitching leaders card with THREE Hall of Famers on it …
How about Hobby King Mickey Mantle? He’s on this 1967 Topps Yankees checklist somewhere …
How about four more HOFers: 1974 Topps Billy Williams, 1978 Tony Perez, 1978 Rich Gossage and a 1983 OPC Gaylord Perry …
And three more HOFers: 1981 Fleer George Brett, 1985 Topps Ryne Sandberg and 1986 Donruss Highlights Steve Carlton (shown as a member of the San Francisco Giants)
Can’t hate on a 1963 Topps rookie card of Diego Segui …
Know what else I really like? O-Pee-Chee from the 1970 and 1980s. Check out these 1978s … Love the fact that I have an Montreal Expos Team Card from OPC. Also dig the Bob Bailor Topps Rookie Cup OPC card.
And finally a few random lots of …
1974 Topps (LOVE this set)
and 1978 Topps
Sure, the condition on these older cards may not be top quality, but if they had been, they would not have been on the thrift store peg hooks waiting for me to save them.
Total cost of these treasures: $5.97
To see more Thrift Treasures posts, click HERE
A few weeks ago I wrote about a 2000 SP Authentic Barry Zito rookie card that bore the serial number of Zito’s jersey.
Well, that’s not the only former Cy Young Award Winner whose serial numbered rookie card that I own with the number matching the jersey.
I present the 2000 Finest Refractor Johan Santana serial numbered 0057/1000. And before you say it, I’ll acknowledge it — yes, this IS a parallel. Someone surely has the 0057/3000, which is the true rookie card.
Some of you may not remember how good Johan was during the mid 2000s. He routinely led the Twins to the top of the AL Central and eventually wound up in New York where he twirled the only Mets no-hitter in franchise history — a fact that remains true despite whatever umbrage you take with the official scorer.
For years the only Johan rookie I owned was a 2000 Fleer Tradition update, primarily because Johan rookies were so expensive. His Finest rookie (/3000) is his best, and the refractor version always fetched a tidy premium.
Well, Johan’s been widely forgotten in the hobby. So when this one popped up on COMC.com, I had to snatch it up, especially because of the serial number. One day I’ll haven’t stabbed by BGS.