Archive for the Misc. Category

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.

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?

 

 

 

2016: Possibly the least active year for Cardboard Icons

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , on December 31, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

I feel like I sit down at the end of each year and write some column in which I “promise” to write more in the future. I do this of course with the right intentions, but the fact of the matter is that there is so much going on in my life that I can’t live up to the expectations that I set for myself. And sometimes I stop myself before I even start.

Am I the kind of blogger you’re going to look for each day? Probably not. I mean I USED to write one or two posts a day (in like 2008-2010). But that was before kids (or when they were babies anyway). And that was in a time when several bloggers were trying to pretend to be “newsy.” You know … write “BREAKING NEWS” in the headline, like the post is some uber important piece worthy of a Pulitzer Prize. Because, you know, the only place you can see the images for the upcoming release is on so-and-so’s blog, when the reality is that it’s just images that were basically stolen copy and pasted from other sites. The practice got so bad with some bloggers that they forgot to remove the damn watermark that other sites used. Pathetic.

I never tried to play that type with this blog. I tried to keep up the number of actual posts to maintain readership, but my content has usually been somewhat different, albeit, not always of interest to others than myself. And that’s fine.

What I’ve come to learn over the years is that the only person to whom I have to be loyal in writing this blog is the person whose reflection stares back at me on the screen when I type these sentences. Do I enjoy readership? Yes. But it is my time that I am investing in forming these sentences and if I am not enjoying what I am producing then I won’t do it anymore.

And so explains much of the infrequency here.

I’ve essentially turned this into my personal diary; and used platforms like Twitter and Instagram, as well as facebook to be more involved in my circle of collectors. My diary is open to you all to read, and for those that do read when I post, I thank you.

This last year has been so physically and emotionally draining in my real life that 2016 may very well have been the least active I have been since I registered the cardboardicons.com domain. Sad, but true. Some of you really know what’s going on behind the scene in the Cardboard Icons corporate office household.

Nonetheless, here I am on New Year’s eve writing a column that will be read like seven times: Five times by myself, and then once by a person who wants to read it and another who might stumble upon it while trying to learn about some pornographic post.

Anyhow, writing is an activity that for me has always been cathartic and an exercise that breads more of the same once I start. In other words, in order to write more, I need to write something … ANYTHING.

If you’re still reading this, thanks for sticking it out. My next post WILL be more card related. I promise.

Happy New Year, collectors.

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 108: The cards of my childhood are worth less, but not worthless.

Posted in Misc., Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , on September 23, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

Imagine that for one year of your childhood you ripped packs open chasing the rookie card of the hottest player in the game. And then three decades later that player is inducted into the hall of fame and his rookie card can be found for less that $1.

If you are a collector of at least 35 years of age, you know this exercise well. We grew up during the great card boom. We saw packs rise from mere pennies to half a dollar, and then venture well past that. We lived the transition of packs filled with base cards to packs filled with promise and hope that it may contain some shiny treasure we came to know as the chase card.

We also know what a hot rookie card can do to a product. Insert Ken Griffey Jr.

griffeyrrGriffey is far from the first rookie to hit the market and create waves, but in my youth, there was none bigger. Yes, Mark McGwire’s rookie home run chase generated heavy interest in his 1985 Topps USA card and his various 1987 releases. And a year later the card world gravitated toward can’t-miss New York Mets prospect Gregg Jefferies and Cubs first baseman Mark Grace. Although neither became hall of fame material, both wound up with fantastic careers. Jefferies played 14 years, collected almost 1,600 hits and tallied a career batting average of almost .290.  Grace stuck around for 16 years, racked up almost 2,500 hits while maintaining a batting average above .300, and earned four Gold Glove Awards.

A year later, however, both were trumped by Ken Griffey Jr., The Kid, the phenom in the Seattle Mariners system who was the son of a Major League outfielder still bumping around the Bigs.

Griffey’s history in our hobby has been long documented. His face is emblazoned on perhaps one of the top three iconic baseball cards in history. But for those of us who could not afford to chase that 1989 Upper Deck cardboard icon, we found other ways to chase The Kid, we ripped 1989 Donruss hoping to find his Rated Rookie.

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George (Ken) Kenneth Griffey Jr. We hoped to open our wax packs — literally, they were sealed with wax — and see that full name on the yellow backs of the card. Or we hoped to see that blue, black and purple top border and then the Rated Rookie logo that graced the front of a handful of rookie cards in the 1989 Donruss set.

True, the Griffey Donruss card never even approached the popularity of the Upper Deck, but it was one of only two Griffey rookies aside from the UD card that were available in packs.  The Topps Traded and Score Rookies and Traded were available only in boxed set form.

Packs at the time for Donruss ran about 50 cents or so each; a full box of 36 packs usually retailed in shops for about $18. And the way collation worked you’d be lucky to see one Griffey in each box.  Nonetheless, for those of us working on small collecting budgets — much of my money actually came from collecting bottles and cans –Donruss was our option.  The other pack-released Griffey was in the Fleer product but the Billy Ripken “Fuck Face” obscenity card and subsequent variations drove that product’s price through the roof.

I owned a few different Rated Rookie Griffeys in my youth I pulled one or two, traded for others, and won a few in games of black jack and other silly games my friends and I would play.

In recent years I’ve found a few in bargain bins at shows for a buck or two, and I usually picked them up based on principle. Demand for the card has fallen so much — because everyone wants the Upper Deck first and the Topps Traded second — that the Donruss Griffey can routinely be found on COMC.com for under $1.

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Now fast forward to Thursday.  I took my kids to school and decided to do a little thrift shopping. During one of my stops I walked in and saw a mound of red boxes emblazoned with the words “Baseball Cards.” These boxes were very typical for the late 1980s early 1990s. I recall seeing these and green versions at various retail outlets such as K-Mart and Toys R Us. And I believe I had seen them in various catalogues and advertisements as well.

When I find these boxes in thrift stores they are usually filled with bulk lots of 1990 Donruss or Topps, or other sets that were part of the mass produced card era. If there was one key rookie card in any of those boxes they still wouldn’t be “worth” the purchase if the store wanted more than $5.

I opened the first box on the shelf and immediately I saw a lot of five 1990 Topps Sammy Sosa cards. A decade and a half ago this would’ve been a small fortune. Those cards were selling for $8-$15 each at one point. I combed through that box hoping to find a similar size stash of Frank Thomas rookies but there were none. I closed the box and kept moving.  I went through another dozen boxes or so until I came to one that housed 1989 Donruss cards.

By now it was clear that the owner was a set builder. They had built entire sets and then placed all of the other cards in numerical order in all other boxes.  If you were looking for a certain star card it’d be easy to find a half dozen or so of them in these boxes. I was hoping to find a good size lot of Griffey or Thomas rookies. And then it happened.

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I grabbed a handful of 1989 Donruss and skimmed through the Bonus Card
MVPs and the Diamond Kings before I hit the Rated Rookies. There were five Sandy Alomar rookies (card #28), four Steve Searcy (card #29), seven Cameron Drew (card #30), five Gary Sheffield (cards #31), four Erik Hanson (card #32) and … SIX of card #33, George (Ken) Kenneth Griffey Jr.  A smile came across my face and my instinct was to buy immediately for I had uncovered a jackpot.  Then I remembered the price on the bottom of the box. This Goodwill wanted $10.24 for the box.

I hesitated for a minute or two.

Did I need these Griffeys? No.

Was it a deal to buy six Griffey Donruss rookies for $10.24? Nope.

I closed the box and put it down on the shelf.

I took two steps away and stopped.  I turned back and grabbed the box.

What was I thinking? My rationale for NOT buying the box was the exact reason this hobby is so screwed up. Because we tend to worry about what cards are “worth” and don’t spend enough time enjoying the journey. Besides, the cost for this treasure I had unearthed wasn’t unreasonable.

So I placed the box under my arm and headed for the register. I paid for the item and sat in my car and pulled out the stack of Griffeys.  The sight of those six in my hands is one that made me happy. The cards were in good shape and these six Griffeys until this moment had been abandoned; their fate uncertain, which is a sad but true state of our hobby.

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Griffey is perhaps the finest player the game has seen since the days of Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. All of those feelings the younger collectors get these days with Mike Trout, those are the same that came when you thought of Ken Griffey Jr. in his youth.

Truth be told, I lost money or could barely break even on this deal.  Six Griffeys could net me $5-$6 on the open market if the right buyer came along.  And even though there were three Rated Rookie cards of fellow Hall of Fame member Randy Johnson and five of Gary Sheffield, a member of the 500 Home Run Club, it would take a special buyer to hand me a crisp $10 bill for the entire lot.

But as you know this hobby isn’t just about money. It’s about the memories and feelings that come with tracking down a White Whale for your collection. It’s about the stories you have that are tied to specific cards. It’s about reliving our childhood in an instant with a glance of a player’s face on a piece of cardboard.

The sight of those Griffey’s in my hands made me happy. It made me smile. It made me remember sitting on the brick planter box in front of Brian’s Books in the Food Farm Shopping Center in Santa Clara, California, talking about nonsense with friends while thumbing through our cards.

It made me remember the aroma of the pizza being cooked and ultimately sold by the slice at the pizza parlor across the hall. It made me think of the aquarium and fish store that was next door and flooded one time, causing Brian’s Books to close for a day or two. It made me remember that in addition to baseball cards, I also enjoyed purchasing pieces of Laffy Taffy, water balloons and cap guns at the drug store just a few doors to the north.

Yes, the cards of my youth are worth less than what I paid for them. But they are not worthless. In fact, they are priceless.

Total cost of these Treasures: $10.24.

You can see more Thrift Treasures posts Here.

The Joy of Sets

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Kid Collectors, Misc. with tags , , , , , , , on September 7, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

We did it. My son and I completed our first baseball card set.

There is something special in this hobby about a parent collector who is able to pass down the hobby to their child or children, and at times I wondered if my children would ever be into the same hobby that i have enjoyed for almost 30 years.

I mean my kids (ages 7 and 5) have always been around my stuff, and at times they’d ask about why I collect cards, but when I’d offer to buy them sports cards they often pass, or ask for some cartoon cards, comic cards or something else.  It’s cool; I get it. I’ve always been of the mindset that if my kids didn’t enjoy my hobby then I would not force it upon them. But I’ve always been willing to support whatever hobby they decided to take up.

And then just a week ago my son asked me about baseball cards. He wanted to know more. He wanted me to buy some. He wanted me to buy some for him.

insert tear drop.

img_1851Without hesitation I bought a blaster of 2016 Topps Bunt. He enjoyed it (and so did his cousin). I told him about Hank Aaron — one of the first cards he pulled — and how at one point Aaron had the most home runs in baseball. And when I said the name he remembered a conversation we had a few months ago about a signed 16×20 photo of Hammerin’ Hank that I have hanging on the wall. “That’s him!” he said pointing to the photo and then looking at the card.

So yeah, proud Dad moment for me. Anyhow, a day after we ripped into those packs, we went to a different card shop to pick up some supplies and he asked me about buying a few more packs of Topps BUNT.

For my readers who don’t know much about BUNT, it’s a price-friendly product that features a great 200-card checklist that mixes old and new players.  In my opinion it has been Topps’ greatest effort to bring in the new collectors as the set is based on the popular Topps BUNT digital trading card app.

Anyhow, I looked at my son and he was genuinely excited. At that moment I decided just to buy an entire 36-pack box as it was only about $30.  I figured it’d be something we could open together and maybe put the set together.

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It took us a few days to open all of the packs, even with the assistance of his cousin. We could have rushed through it, but I wanted to take time and look at each card and read the player name and the team, in a way I was hoping that I was laying the ground work for future endeavors and the foundation of baseball knowledge. So when he started to get tired of opening or reading, we stopped for the day and later picked it up.

After a few days we finished going through the box. We separated all of the base cards from the inserts and then separated the code cards — which can be used to unlock packs of digital cards in the phone app.

The next step was to see if we had a complete set. I grabbed a stack of 9-pocket Ultra Pro binder pages and used a black marker to number each of the pockets. I figured this would be a simple way for my son (and his cousin who helped us at times) to see where the cards go. In a round about way this was another school lesson for them as they are in kindergarten and still learning some of their numbers.

img_1745And so we spent maybe a total of three hours over two days taking turns reading the card number and then finding its location in the binder. And by the end we had a complete 200-card set with 22 cards left over.

I’m sure some of you — if you’re still reading — are wondering what the entire set is worth. Honestly, not much in terms of actual money. I mean while there are some big names in here and some decent rookie cards, the set could probably be bought in its entirety on eBay for about $20. And yes, it’s easier to just buy an entire set, but what’s the real fun in that?

While not worth much money, this product just got my kid into the hobby, gave him a task to complete — which didn’t involve pixelated pick axes (yes, I’m speaking of Minecraft) — taught him some organizational skills;  involved reading words, names, logos and numbers; involved hand-eye coordination as we placed the cards into binder pages, AND was definitely quality father-son time.

Never again will I call a low-priced baseball card set worthless as it can be priceless for others.

Thanks, Topps.