Thrift Treasures 110: SI For Kids … For Me. 

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , on November 25, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

Sometimes when I donate cards to my local thrift stores, I like to go back a week later to see what they’ve priced them at.  Usually they grab a handful, stick then in a bag and then put a $3-$5 price tag on it.

And every now and again when I’m looking at these bag, often Filled with cars I owned, I come across ones that weren’t donated by me.

A few days ago I found one with a stack of Sports Illustrated For Kids cards. I buy these if I see a name that sticks out to me. In this case, I could see the name of Bryce Harper.  I figured I’d buy it as I didn’t own the 2012 SI For Kids card.

The Harper was the highlight of the bag, but there also was a cool card of women’s soccer player Alex Morgan. In all there were more than 20 of the SI For Kids cards. 

The find isn’t of any great value but still a neat little haul for the price of a retail pack. 

Total cost of this Thrift Treasure: $2.99.

You can see more Thrift Treasures posts Here.

In Memoriam: Ralph Branca 

Posted in In Memoriam, Uncategorized with tags , , , on November 23, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

1949 Bowman Rookie Card

An ode to 1998 Crown Royale Baseball, and a box break too.

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Misc. with tags , , , , on November 14, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

Quality was the name of the game for baseball cards as we approached the end of the 1990s. Multiple companies were still in business putting out countless products each year for consumers. Sure, some were content on the basic formula of picture and design on front, and stats on the back. But some desired more. Some desired innovation. Some desired … royalty.


Pacific, a baseball card company based out of Lynwood, Wash., was a suburb of Seattle. The company started mainstream products at the beginning of the 1990s with several mediocre releases. By mid-decade the company hit it’s stride with flashy Prism — the ORIGINAL Prism brand — and then continued its craftsmanship with the Crown Royale brand, which debuted in 1995 as a football-only product and eventually crossed over to baseball in 1998.

During the decade, I was very much a collector of four sports. And when it came to football, Crown Royale and Prism were my staples. I always hoped that Pacific would cross the brands over to baseball. And in 1998 the company brought us the first Crown Royale baseball release, which featured holographic backgrounds with a gold crown die-cut design laid on top of that, and then a single-shot action photo atop all of that. To put it simple: It was gorgeous in terms of baseball cards.

But, quality doesn’t come cheap. These definitely wasn’t a $2 a pack release. Or $3. Or $4. Or $5. I recall seeing the packs upward of $6, and one Twitter follower even recalls seeing them at $9 a pack. His recollection wouldn’t surprise me. The cards were than damn good. Looking at the Beckett Almanac, it confirms the MSRP was $5.99 for the 6-card pack. Each box had 24 packs, so that would bring a box price into the $150 range.

As a teen collector I may have opened a handful of these packs, but I know it wasn’t much. By 1998 I wanted the quality, but all I really could afford was quantity that Bowman afforded me — after all, by 1998 I had started my chase for rookie card greatness.

Overtime, collecting interests changed and I went full bore into rookie cards. Anything marked with the Bowman name was mine. This was before the rookie card autos of Chrome, by the way.

Fast forward to about a week ago when I visited Peninsula Sports Cards in Belmont, Calif. This is a sibling store of my two really local shops, South Bay Sports Cards (Sunnyvale, Calif.) and Stevens Creek Sports Cards (San Jose, Calif.). Belmont is a bit of a trek for me, but the shop there recently moved into a larger space and I wanted to see the shop. Also, I wanted to see if they had any old wax for me to rip. I’ve been heavy on nostalgia recently, especially since my 6-year-old son is slowly working his way into the hobby.

I spoke with one of the main guys at the shop and told him of my interests after a lengthy discussion about other items. He took my name, e-mail and phone number and said he’d have someone check the warehouse. He called me about three days later telling me they got some stuff in. Among the items was this box of 1998 Crown Royale. The price? Less than $2 a pack, or merely a third of what the packs cost some 18 years ago.

I half debated opening this product alone as I was sort of fulfilling a card collecting dream of mine. Instead I decided to include my son. What better way to bring this all full circle. Right?

This was the best decision ever.

I told my son of the crown die-cuts and explained that the basic cards in this set were all special in that way. I showed him the crown design on the cover of the box and he was intrigued. As we ripped into each pack he said “this is fun, the design is cool!”

Hell yeah! I’d won him over. This wasn’t about hits (autographs and relic cards, which drive prices through the roof these days). Hell, I suppose it really wasn’t about the cards either. It was about living a hobby dream through my son and he appreciated the product just as I did. Sure, I kind of showed him the path, but the comments came willingly and without provocation.

So, what’s in the box?

Each box contains an over-sized Cramer’s Choice Award box topper — the large version of the ultra-premium insert for Pacific brands — and then 24 packs in each box. The packs contain six cards, including two inserts of different themes and four die-cut base cards. In some cases, one base card was subbed out for an additional insert.

The chase cards include die-cut All-Star cards which were seeded 1:25 packs (usually one per box); Firestone on Baseball 2:25 (or typically two per box), and Race to Record 1:73 (serial numbered to 374 copies each and about 1 in every three boxes).

We opened the box and found our box topper resting comfortably flat. I opened the topper and saw the name “Ken” in the large text on the reverse of the card and knew we did well. It was indeed a large, flashy card of Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr.


In the very first pack that my son opened he pulled a base card of my favorite player Roger Clemens; meanwhile I hit a basic Griffey.In my second pack I hit our die-cut All-Star card, that of Cal Ripken Jr. Not too shabby.


We took turns opening the remainder of the packs and we got many of the big stars of the day on the Crown base cards including Derek Jeter and Mark McGwire and Alex Rodriguez, but failed to pull Frank Thomas, Barry Bonds or Cal Ripken. We also pulled three of the four rookie cards in the set — “El Duque” Orlando Hernandez, Masato Yoshi and Rolando Arrojo were in it, David Delucci was not.

I’ve yet to actually sort the base cards by number, but I’d say we’re about half way to a base set. One day we will complete it.

A special thanks to the chain card stores in my area for 1) being there, 2) providing fantastic customer service and 3) making old products available at decent prices.

 

 

 

Thrift Treasures 109: An impossible pull from a sealed junk wax box (1990-91 Pro Set NHL Stanley Cup Hologram)

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , on October 12, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

img_0970So there I was stopping at one Goodwill on the way home from work on Oct. 12, 2016, when I saw in the showcase a sealed 1990-91 Pro Set Series One NHL box of cards. Typically these boxes get left at thrift stores and they have already been pilfered of anything of value, OR they are priced in such a fashion they are not worth the gamble.

And what gamble is there, you might ask? A long shot at hitting a winning lottery ticket in the form of a Stanley Cup hologram limited to 5,000 copies.

We have to set the scene with Pro Set before we go any further. Long before there were autographs and relics cards that we see today, chase cards from the early 1990s usually meant the cards were glossy as compared to your typical matte finish, or they had some sort of flashy foil to make it obvious that you had something special.  With Pro Set they made holograms, and they were an absolutely needle in a haystack to find.

Perhaps the most famous Pro Set hologram is the Lombardi Trophy hologram that was inserted into the NFL product of 1990.  But more valuable is the Stanley Cup version inserted randomly into Series One packs of 1990-91 Pro Set hockey.

If you think they’re easy to pull because there are 5,000 of them guess again. There literally are close to — if not more than — a million produced of each base card in most brands these years, rendering them worthless. The shiny holograms that were impossible to pull have held their value. The Lombardi hologram usually fetches between $40-$100 in raw condition and much more if graded. And a quick check of eBay while I was in the store Wednesday night showed that the Stanley Cup holograms were selling upward of $125 in raw condition.

img_0971I looked at the box through the locked case and was able to see the $6.14 price tag. I figured the box was worth the price of two cups of Starbucks coffee.  After all, 10/12/16 was the Opening Night of the NHL season and it gave me something to open while I was watching the San Jose Sharks defeat the Los Angeles Kings.

So I paid for it, drove home, ate dinner, turned on the game and opened pack by pack slowly looking not only for the hologram, but also any errors/variations which also have a following.

I got 35 packs deep into the box with nothing really special when this happened:

img_0972

The third or fourth card in that stack isn’t like the others because … it’s a HOLOGRAM!

You newer collectors might night be laughing at this pull because by today’s standards because unless anything is numbered to like 50 copies you don’t consider it rare.  But for us who grew up in the junk wax era, finding something like this is insane. And to make this case even more impossible it comes from an abandoned g box located at a thrift store.

Anyhow, when I saw the shiny hologram the first thing I did was pulled out my phone and take the aforementioned picture and then record this video.

The card isn’t mint, which is crazy since this was a sealed box, but it’s probably going to stay in my collection as this is an epic pull given the circumstances.

Total cost of this Thrift Treasure: $6.14.

You can see more Thrift Treasures posts Here.

 

Another iconic card added to the Icons collection

Posted in New Addition with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

Additions to my personal collection have slowed down in recent months, so when I make an acquisition that fits into that “PC” category, I shall share it.

Like many of you I have an addiction, a true sickness for cardboard. I say this somewhat in jest, but there is some truth to it. I spend more money on cards than I should; I even find myself buying stuff just for the sake of buying. Don’t laugh, you might be in the same boat but just not willing to admit it.

But rather than walk away from the hobby that has been a part of my life since I was 7 years old, the way I “right the ship” so to say is to find one card to add to my collection; one that i can point to and say, “THAT is why I collect.”

img_0879And today that card is the 2001 SP Legendary Cuts Game-Used bat card of the one and only “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.

When it comes to memorabilia cards I have many of the greats.

I have Mantle. I have Mays. I have Aaron.

I have Ruth. I have Gehrig. I have DiMaggio.

I have Mathewson. I have Cobb. I have Wagner.

And the list goes on …

But there has always been one player whose memorabilia card that has taunted me from a  distance. And now I can look at Joe Jackson eye to eye and clutch his card between my thumb and index finger like it were a big ol’ bass and say, “Gotcha!”

For a long time Jackson, the controversial baseball player whose legendary playing career is forever tied to the gambling scandal of the “Black Sox,” really only had one licensed memorabilia card, this 2001 Upper Deck release. More than a half-decade after the card’s release, Donruss (then owned by the company known as Donruss Playoff) lost its MLB license and with that came the release of various logo-less products. This “free reign” seemingly allowed them to produce cards of Jackson, base and insert cards, as well as memorabilia cards. Panini America, who now owns the Donruss name, continues to produce Jackson cards in all forms under various brand names.There now are several options for collectors when it comes to Jackson memorabilia cards.

Meanwhile, Topps, the only company with the MLB license, has not produced any cards, likely because Jackson has been blackballed — not unlike Pete Rose — from licensed products. His name is often met with a head tilt and a grimace as Jackson’s actions in the gambling scandal are still somewhat debatable, although time has shown that he may have been the good guy in all of it.

Nonetheless, Jackson is still a baseball icon. Over his 13-year career he notched a .356 batting average and tallied 1,772 hits. And while I don’t own any of his older cards, at least I can say that I now own a piece of Jackson’s bat and it’s not just on any card. It’s THE Jackson memorabilia card, which is one of the most recognizable in our hobby.

A few CARDS from the toy show

Posted in New Addition with tags , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

This weekend we celebrated my son’s sixth birthday with a trip to a place he chose — the toy show. He’d never been to a toy show — and for that matter neither had I — but he wanted to go so we took the family and a bunch of his cousins and gave them money to pretty much buy whatever they wanted.

While this was a toy show, I held out hope that I might find a few card/sports-related items for myself.  And that I did, while spending a grand total of $10.

What did I find?  Here ya go.

img_0458One seller had a cigar box with vintage cards in warped top loaders.  His prices weren’t bad … just not at the level that I wanted. And almost every card in the box that appealed to me — major stars from the 1960s — were ones I already owned. But he had one item I did want. This 1972 Topps Baseball wrapper. The wrapper is not in perfect shape, and from what i can tell it was folded down flat and then sealed again with wax.  It now fits in a top loader. And while the “value” of said wrapper may be diminished by the fact that it is not in its original state, I have three words that best describe my feelings on that: I Don’t Care. I just think it’s a cool-ass item to have in my collection. Would I buy another at $4? Probably not.  But I’d be open to owning other wrappers.

img_0460

Another seller at the show is actually a tandem whom I see quite often at one of the local flea markets.  And his items are usually priced really well.  He had a slew of toys and a few cases of sports cards, some high-end.  Then he also has these boxes of cards that he sells for $1 each and others that are $2 or three for $5.

There were quite a few cards I wanted to buy but I decided to harness my impulse and opt for just a few.

I purchased ONE card from the $1 box, this 2016 Topps Gold Jose Bautista. That bat flip is still amazing. And the price for this card was HALF of the price of a pack of cards.  That’s a win.

img_0568

And from the $2 each/ three for $5 boxes I selected these three:

2015 Topps Allen &Ginter Mini No Number on Back /50 Nolan Arenado, 2016 Donruss Signature Series Elias Diaz and 2016 Stadium Club Kole Calhoun autograph.

img_0567

Two of the three will be headed to COMC with my next submission, but the Calhoun is a card that I really like.  Good (not great) player, fantastic image and a clean, loopy signature. For $1.66 that’s a nice addition to my collection.

 

 

In Memoriam: Jose Fernandez (July 31, 1992 – Sept. 25, 2016)

Posted in In Memoriam with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 25, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

When I stop to post something on a baseball player who has passed away, I typically will show their rookie card — or something close to it — and leave it at that. Today, I will do something more.

img_0245By now you’ve heard the news, Marlins ace pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed early Saturday in a boating crash. He was 24.

I repeat, TWENTY FOUR.

People come and go in our real lives, usually not at or before the age of 24. And if by chance they do pass at a young age we all stop and call it unfortunate. This case, albeit involving an athlete, a budding superstar, a guy paid millions to play whats been called  kid’s game, is no different.

The death of Mr. Fernandez has struck me like no other athlete’s has struck me in recent memory. Muhammad Ali passing a few months ago was big, but didn’t punch me in the gut this way because Ali lived a full life. Besides, by the time I came to know Ali he was already in retirement; I was only living with the legacy that he’d already built.

When Dave Henderson died in December of 2015 that hit me a bit because growing up I watched him play in Oakland AND two of his twin nieces were in my fourth and fifth grade classes. They  brought a signed bat of his to class for show and tell once. Even then I merely posted  picture of his 1982 Topps rookie card and moved on.

When Cardinals top prospect and super rookie Oscar Tavares died during the post season of 2014, the card world mourned because he was supposed to be THE guy. Collectors bought into him heavily hoping to reap financial benefit, but they all wound up dumping his cards post mortem for mere pennies on the dollar. Personally I was saddened as usual, but wasn’t really affected — I hadn’t had a chance to see him do much of anything on the diamond. Also, the suspicion that he was driving while reportedly being intoxicated kind of changes the tone a bit.

And then there is the sad case of Angels super prospect Nick Adenhart, who died after his car was struck by a suspected drunken driver on the morning of August 9, 2009, just HOURS after Adenhart in his one and only MLB start of the year. I repeat: His car was hit by a suspected drunken driver; Adenhart was not the party who was intoxicated. A bright future was there for Adenhart, but again, he had a lot to prove at the Major League level.

Now lets come back to the present as it pertains to Mr. Fernandez, the bright, smiling face of a Marlins organization that comes and goes as it pleases in baseball with almost no real foot print. True, outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is the longest-tenured Marlin with the club and sure-fire Hall of Famer Ichiro recently joined the land of baseball immortality with his 3,000 hits, but neither of them in my mind was as big of a star for the Miami club as Mr. Fernandez.

He was all of 24, but everything he showed us in his four seasons in Major League Baseball lead us to believe he certainly was flirting with greatness.

During his age 20 season, he went 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA and 187 strikeouts en route to capturing the 2013 National League Rookie of the Year honors.

Elbow injuries shortened his 2014 and 2015 seasons, but even when he was playing he still maintained his dominance to the tune of a 10-3 record over 19 starts during which he struck out 149 batters in 116 1/3 innings.

And this year he was dominating his opponents to the tune of 12.5 strikeouts per 9 innings. At the time of his death he’d struck out 253 batters in only 182 1/3 innings of work. He had 16-8 record and a 2.86 ERA over the course of 29 starts. In his final outing on Sept. 20, he went 8 innings against the eventual National League East champion Washington Nationals, allowing only three hits while striking out 12 batters — just another typical Fernandez outing.

I took a liking to Fernandez during his rookie year. His stuff was electric and his style — even his hair — reminded me a bit of Ricky Vaughn from Major League the movie. There was just something about the guy that made you watch the game. I made it a point to own the above pictured 2011 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects Refractor autograph and when it came to keeper fantasy baseball leagues, he was mine — forever, just as Clayton Kershaw shall be.

img_0239Oddly enough the news of Mr. Fernandez’s death came to me through a push notification from Yahoo Sports.  There I was using the restroom when a bell rang on my phone. I’m in the semi-finals of my league’s playoffs, a day away from entering the championship round, so I was intrigued by this seemingly odd notification that Fernandez’s status was changed from “healthy” to “day-to-day.” I clicked on the link and boom: the news hits me like a ton of bricks. And not because he was a part of my team, but because he was a hell of a talent and because he was just a kid.

He was 24. What were you doing at age 24? For me. I had graduated from college a year earlier and was only a few months into my career as a professional journalist. The Marlins, oddly enough, had defeated the Yankees in the 2003 World Series and in 2004, my favorite team, the Boston Red Sox, had completed an unbelievable comeback against the New York Yankees during the American League Championship Series and then went on to win club’s first World Series in 86 years.

By the time I had turned 24 I hadn’t been married yet and was still five years away from having the first of my two children. At age 24 I was just becoming an adult. Sure, Mr. Fernandez had talent, fame and fortune that most of us could only dream of, but I’d imagine that when all of those material things are stripped away, he wasn’t that much different that most of us at that age. He was enjoying the life of a young adult, but still had many real life milestones ahead of him.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Fernandez. May there be nothing but called third strikes for your pitching career in the afterlife.