In Memoriam: Jim Bunning (Oct. 23, 1931 – May 27, 2017)

Posted in In Memoriam, Misc. with tags , , , , on May 28, 2017 by Cardboard Icons

Thrift Treasures 111: Best Wishes … who?!

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , on February 20, 2017 by Cardboard Icons

As far as thrifting goes, Sunday nights are probably the worst time to head out and look for collectibles. Why? Well, basically most of the good stuff has already been snapped up by the “weekend warriors” who get after it every weekend at the crack of dawn and keep going all weekend.

Nonetheless I decided to make a stop Sunday after work and headed to a thrift store that’s out of the way a bit. It was worth the trip.

Due to the day and time, I figured the best place to start might be the books section as I might luck my way into another book signed by a president.  I checked book after book but found nothing. 

I then headed to the “collectibles” counter and saw a signed baseball sitting in a Ultra Pro ball cube. It read “Best Wishes … Willie Mays.”

Yeah, the Willie Mays.


Now, unless you were an active collector of autographs or have experience viewing Willie Mays’ signature you’d have no idea what name is scribbled on this ball.

Luckily no one who’d laid eyes on the ball was able to make out the Baseball Legends’ autograph.

From a distance I couldn’t immediately tell if it was a pre-printed ball.  When the clerk handed it to me I could see right away that it was indeed some sort of black marker pen on a Wilson Dura-Lon cover “Official League” baseball.

The price tag said $19.99 and the clerk immediately told me that it was not part of the half-off sale. 

Well, that’s good because I suspect someone would’ve taken a chance at $9.99, but would pause at $19.99.

Me? No delay.  I’ll take it.

When I got to the counter to pay the clerk asked if I had any coupons.  As it turned out I had a 30% off coupon for donating a few boxes of base cards. Perfect timing.

And so for $13.99 I walked out the door with a baseball signed by one of the finest players to ever play the game.

Now, this isn’t the ideal signed ball. We’d all agree that we’d like a   non-greeting blue ink signature on the sweet spot of a Rawlings Major League Baseball or Rawlings National League Official Ball. And of course we’d like some sort of certification to ensure authenticity. But c’mon, we’re dealing with a thrift treasure. You take what you find.

So, is it real?  I think so. I’ve seen enough Willie Mays signatures — on balls and flats — from the early to mid 1990s that made me lean toward the affirmative.

And later I did a quick search on eBay for Willie Mays balls signed with “Best Wishes.” Here are two comparisons.

It looks pretty spot-on in my opinion.


Total cost of this Thrift Treasure: $13.99.

You can see more Thrift Treasures posts Here.

Elite Status: Iconic 1991-1996 Donruss insert sets complete with autos

Posted in Completed Sets with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2017 by Cardboard Icons

EliteLogo It’s been three decades since I opened my first pack of baseball cards. And less than five years into my hobby career, cards went from being just cards to being chase-worthy investments — at least that’s what we the collectors were being sold.

At the front of this movement was the almighty Elite Series insert set, which started in 1991 as one of the hobby’s most iconic chase sets to date.

Imagine if you will opening dozens, hundreds or even thousands of packs and see nothing but blue and green borders and then … bam, a bronze foil border card with a marble-like design embedded within and a serial number on back.

By today’s standards, Elite cards wouldn’t be much to gloat about, but in 1991, it was something most would only dream of.

My dream of pulling an Elite Series card actually came true in 1993 when I fished an Eddie Murray out of a pack at Target. As I’ve told people before, the story goes that I was opening a pack while my mom was paying for it and other stuff.  When I saw the shiny foil, I dropped an f-bomb that made everyone from my mother to the people in line to the cashier stop what they were doing and look my way. Hey, I was 13.

Anyhow, i eventually made it a goal to complete the first three Elite Series (1991, 1992 and 1993) sets including the autographs — a feat that was accomplished a few years ago and documented in one of my Beckett Baseball columns.

I’ve since moved on to the next three years. And while the passion to finish it came and went over time, I got the itch recently to put those next three sets to rest and with a little help from Tanner at CansecoCollector.com I was able to get the elusive 1995 Elite Series Jose Canseco that I couldn’t find.

And so, here is a visual look at the first six years of Elite Series Insert cards. You’ll notice that the dynamic of the set has changed over time. It started as an 8-card set with one legend and one autograph. Then next two years the base Elite set grew and continued to include a legend and autograph.  By 1994, the Elite Series set was scaled back to just 12 basic Elite cards — no more autographs or legends. Nonetheless, they were still special.

1991 Elite Series (base Elite’s /10,000; Legends Series /7,500; Signature Series /5,000)

1992 Elite Series (Base Elites /10,000; Legends /7,500; Signature Series /5,000)

1993 Elite Series (Base Elites /10,000; Legends Series /10,000; Signature Series /5,000)


1994 Elite Series (all /10,000)

1995 Elite Series (all /10,000)

1996 Elite Series (all /10,000)

Now that those sets are done, I’ll get to working eventually on 1997 and 1998, but I’m also turning my eyes to a few other insert sets from my youth that always intrigued me:

1992 Pinnacle – Team Pinnacle

1994 Score Cycle

1994 SP Holoview

1994 Flair Hot Glove

1996 Pacific Flame Throwers

 

Seeking 1995 Elite Jose Canseco /10,000

Posted in Misc. with tags , on February 7, 2017 by Cardboard Icons

Let’s make this simple.  I need a single 1995 Donruss Elite Series Jose Canseco Insert serial numbered to 10,000 copies. The cards are die-cut and holographic and looks like this Albert Belle:


What do Inhave for you?  A trade in your favor. You get all three of these 1994 Elite Series cards, Barry Bonds, Andres Galarraga and John Kruk. If you’re a BV kind of trader, my side is like four times as much as the BV of the Canseco.


If you don’t want these I can find something else but this is on the table.

Is it Spring yet?

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2017 by Cardboard Icons

**Note:  I wrote this this morning and shared with friends.  I hope you enjoy it, it’s something a bit different.**


Is it Spring yet?

I like the rain, but I’ve felt enough for now.

I miss the sunshine beating upon my face. I miss late-night sunsets an hour before bedtime. I miss mid-week baseball games that make me smile the same as they did when I was seven.

I like the cold, but I’ve grown too numb for now.

I want dry roadways so that I feel alive all the time, not only when I lose the back-end of my car while flooring it on the wet pavement. I want a reason to be out of the house and away from the time-suck that Netflix has become even though Kevin Spacey as Francis J. Underwood is one of the finest characters I have ever seen. I want to escape the real-life political drama of “alt-right” and “alt-left,” and all the in-betweens, and ctrl+alt+delete all the rhetoric and enjoy the life I have.

I like the dark, but I’ve become too sullen for now.

I hope the sunlight breaks through the clouds like the bedroom light used to pierce my eyes on a school day. I hope this time passes quickly, but not so fast that it passes me by. I hope that the message here within is not one of despair, rather one of truth and optimism.

Is it Spring yet?

No. But it will be soon. Nothing can stop that.

-Ben Aguirre, Jr.

In Memoriam: Yordano Ventura 6/3/91-1/22/17

Posted in In Memoriam with tags , , , , on January 22, 2017 by Cardboard Icons

Condition Sensitive: Centered with lower grade, or off-center and higher grade?

Posted in Misc., Rookie Card Upgrade with tags , , , , , on January 5, 2017 by Cardboard Icons


I love vintage cards, and loving old cards often means you have to decide how bad of a condition you are willing to accept in order to add one of the prized pieces to your collection. Because let’s face it, good condition vintage usually means spending good money.

When dealing with mid to lower grade cards — those that usually fit into most collectors budgets — there are lots of factors to consider. What types of “damage” to a card are you willing to tolerate: Creases? Writing? Bent corners? Torn corners? Layered corners? Minor paper loss? Glue or gum Stains? And so forth.

Each collector has different things they’ll tolerate. For a long time my one and one standing rule was: I must be able to see the players face.  I broke this rule once when I obtained my first 1948 Bowman Stan Musial rookie. The card had surface damage on Musial’s face, making it pretty hard to display without giving it the stink eye.  I eventually moved that Musial and upgraded to a much more presentable copy.

This game of upgrading or changing a card for a different version of the same card is one that some collectors partake in quite a bit. I do it infrequently, but I’m always looking to better the collection, whether it be by adding a missing piece, or growing aesthetically. I’m an opportunist, if you will.

Such was the case recently when I logged into eBay and found a gorgeous looking 1955 Topps Sandy Koufax rookie card. The card was professionally graded by Beckett Vintage Grading and was actually graded lower than the BVG 4 I had sitting in my display case.  I was very much content with the Koufax already in my collection, a card I acquired a decade ago when I shifted gears in terms of my hobby focus. The one draw back for me on the 4 was always the centering. It wasn’t horrible, but it was off.  This is a classic problem with the 1955 sets. The cards are horizontal and the bottom border typically seems to be shorter than the top.


I like sharp corners. I like smooth surfaces. But above all, I really enjoy a centered baseball card. And so when the lesser-grade Koufax popped up on eBay with a Buy It Now that seemed more than reasonable, I decided I had to snag it and at least compare the cards in person. It made really ponder which of the two Koufax rookies would stay and which would hit the market. I don’t need both.


And so I pondered: Do I keep the centered copy with slightly lesser desirable corners, or the one with better corners and worse centering? Obviously the one with better corners and higher grade would probably sell for more on the open market.


I posed the question to Twitter followers without specifying which card. A total of 84 people made a selection in the poll and the results weren’t completely skewed, but the majority did say they prefer centered vintage with softer corners over off-center cards with better corners.

The poll results definitely leaned in the direction I feel, and after comparing the two cards in person — even in their respective BVG cases — I do feel that the lesser grade with better centering is best for me at this point. I mean, when I walk past my wall-mounted display case, a centered Koufax pops out at me more than one that is slightly off-center.

What are your thoughts on condition when it comes to vintage cards? What defects are you willing to tolerate? What damages take precedent when you go about purchasing a vintage card for your collection?