Archive for the Misc. Category

I love COMC, but …

Posted in Commentary, Misc. with tags , , , , , on January 21, 2018 by Cardboard Icons

For the better part of eight years I have been a buyer and seller on COMC. The service offered it pretty amazing. Yes, other sites also offer singles for sale via consignment from collectors. But this site, in my eyes, changed the game.

As a buyer, you get scans of each card for sale, get to combine shipping, and usually get rock-bottom prices. As a seller, all you really need to do is box up your cards and their service sorts and label everything for you. You then set your price for your item. No hassles with shipping and handle. That’s also what they do.

But as the years have gone by, there have been a few things about COMC that have really started to irk me. The first of which is inconsistency in terms of what they will take for consignment, and what they reject.

COMC has the right to reject cards. I get that. But what I don’t get is the grounds under which they make that decision, and that is what is frustrating. COMC labels some cards based upon their condition — they do it for old and new. If a card is in poor condition, they often label it that way. But in my experience, the service simply returns my cards to me instead of also giving my cards the same treatment.

And while I’d agree that no one is in the market for some common poor condition cards, the ones that really irk me are the rarer ones, late 1990s basketball inserts,early 2000s football serial numbered inserts, and even some tougher releases, such as these 1986 Carnation Major League Wrestling cards. The wrestling cards usually go for $50 on eBay even in low grade condition. And some of the cards that have been rejected on my end are ones that could sell for $5-$15 even in their condition simply because they aren’t available on COMC or eBay. Heck, even autographs have been rejected.

Along these same lines of frustration is the fact that more and more of my cards have been returned to me for being damaged, even ones that weren’t damaged before I packaged them up.

When I send cards to COMC, I place every card into a penny sleeve, and then place the sleeved cards into 500-count boxes. This helps keep the surface safe, and reduces movement within the box during shipment. However, in some orders I have some 20-50 cards returned to me because they’re “damaged.” And when I look a the cards, they all have damage in the same spot, almost as if they were placed haphazardly into a card sorter during the process. The damage usually consists of a ding to the bottom left corner, and some edge damage on the top left … which would be consistent with setting the left side down into a card sorter.

Then there are the cases of mystery damage, like these dents that wound up on the top of these cards here …

And then perhaps the most baffling of all are the ones that are rejected because they’re supposedly damaged, yet I see no damage when I review them, Granted this 2017 Topps Museum Victor Martinez patch card isn’t lighting the hobby world on fire, but it’s still got some value. and most importantly … it’s not damaged.

I don’t expect an apology or special treatment from COMC. I will not boycott their services over this issue. I’ve shared some of these sentiments on Twitter before so this isn’t something we should be calling “breaking news.” But I do expect COMC to be a little more consistent with everyone’s cards.

Ben,

Cardboard Icons

Collector of Hall of Fame tobacco era and Rookie cards.

Collector of Roger Clemens and Clayton Kershaw.

You can teach me on Twitter and Instagram @cardboardicons. You can also reach me via e-mail at cardboardicons@yahoo.com

Collecting Goals for 2018

Posted in Commentary, Misc. with tags , , , , , , , on January 18, 2018 by Cardboard Icons

Every year for the last decade or so I’ve sat down in late December or early January and penned a piece in which I declared goals for the upcoming year.

Well, I’m kind of off to a late start here as we are closing in on Week Three of 2018. Nonetheless, collecting has been on my mind lately, and thus it felt appropriate to declare my goals for the upcoming year in hopes that it will help keep me focused.

Without further delay, here are Cardboard Icons’ top five collecting goals for 2018.

GOAL #1: No more duplicates*

A reoccurring theme in recent years has been this ideology of thinning out the herd. In other words, stop hoarding stuff that doesn’t matter to me. If you buy packs, boxes, spots in breaks or whatever, then you’re likely to at some point come up on some duplicates. For me, this has sometimes led to owning two, three, or four … or 15 or 20 of the same card — and usually without doing it on purpose. So, it is my intent to get rid of extra stuff – with few exceptions of course. I own three of four 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookies and all will stay with me.  But any extra 2017 Aaron Judge rookies shall be moved.

GOAL #2: Buy packs in moderation, if at all

I can’t say that I’ll never buy a pack again, but in 2018 I plan to stay the hell away from the card aisle at Target. Why? Because nothing that I pull from those packs really conforms to the standards of my collection.  Most of the time those purchases are made out or boredom, to help suppress feelings from other aspects of my life, or simply because I’m getting caught up in the internet hype of products or prospects.  I won’t declare that I’ll go pack free – buying cards has been in my blood for three decades. But I will exercise restraint and buy only in moderation; not because something in trendy or a product is hot. It’s so easy to dump $20-$40 into products that ultimately wind up as clutter. I refuse to do that in 2018.

GOAL #3: Buy 10 new HOF rookie/tobacco era cards

In 2018, I shall regain the focus of my collection and return to the icons of the sport, the icons of cardboard. Too much time has been spent in recent years chasing hot players who ultimately wouldn’t be able to sniff the cleats of the guys whose cards I REALLY enjoy. And so this year I will find 10 new Hall of Fame members whose rookie card or tobacco-era cards I do not own because these are the cards I love. These are the cards I will pass onto my children. These are the icons; they are the namesake of this blog.

GOAL #4: Get raw HOF rookie cards/tobacco-era cards slabbed

At this time I have roughly a dozen tobacco-era cards of HOFers that are not encased in Beckett Vintage Grading slabs and the lack of continuity in my collection is bugging me. These include Chief Bender, Adie Joss, Mordecai Brown, Miller Huggins, Hughie Jennings, and so forth. The fact that they’re just resting in my collection outside of a uniform slab is driving me insane. And so, when the time and money is right, I shall do what I do and send them to BGS for encapsulation. And when they’re slabbed, they can be properly displayed with the rest of their HOF brethren.

GOAL #5 Have Fun

So much has happened in my life over the last few years that I’ve lost sight of the joy that this hobby has brought me over the last three decades.  I enjoy collecting – it’s fun. I enjoy chasing cards that I never dreamed of owning. I enjoy obtaining a card that my grandfathers or great-grandfathers would have owned if they loved baseball. I enjoy sharing hobby experiences with my children. And so I shall do only the things in this hobby that make me happy and that are fun.

Ben,

Cardboard Icons

Collector of Hall of Fame tobacco era and Rookie cards

Collector of Roger Clemens and Clayton Kershaw.

You can reach me on Twitter and Instagram @cardboardicons. You can also e-mail at cardboardicons@yahoo.com

Saying goodbye to another grandfather …

Posted in Commentary, Misc. with tags , , , , , , on January 15, 2018 by Cardboard Icons

I’ve kind of been kicking this around for the last day or so, trying to sort my feelings. Over the weekend I learned that another one of my grandfathers had passed away. This is third in about eight months. He was the last of the grandfathers in my life.

Grandpa Jerry and I were never close, but that’s not to say I didn’t care. I just never really knew how to breakdown the perceived wall. And if you know me, I’m not exactly the out-going talkative type anyway so this wasn’t a situation ripe with conversation.

There were two rules I lived by when we visited him and grandma in their Fairfield (California) home back in the day: 1) Make sure you say hello to the grandparents before settling in, and 2) DO NOT sit in grandpas chair. The latter was something I deemed as a sign of respect. No one had told me not to sit there, I just assumed that as the Man of the House, he had claimed that one spot — THAT ONE — as his. And unless he offered it to someone else, the seat shall remain empty so that he could sit there when he returned from his nap, his watering of the grass, his trip to the store to buy Lottery tickets, or whatever. Besides, it was grandma’s house. She had like three couches — including a massive sectional — in the converted garage that acted as a giant living room and addition to the home. There was no reason to take HIS spot.

There were times we often were left alone in the room and it was awkward a bit, reasons stemming from our mutual lack of talking. But we often watched sports together during the holidays, especially football. Collegiate or professional, Grandpa Jerry loved to watch. At times he sat there silent, then he’d make a quiet sucking-of-teeth noise when he grew disappointed in a play. And then the word “shit” would be said in a long, drawn out way almost the way you’d imagine John Wayne saying it.

If you knew me as a kid, I always had some baseball cards with me, not unlike the way kids these days take their electronics with them. I’d often flip through the same stack of cards, memorizing stats and details and from time to time Grandpa Jerry would peer over and ask what it was that I was looking at. We never shared a lot of talk about collectibles. I secretly hoped that one day he would tell me about his stash of cards from his youth, or tell me a story about sports and cards. But no such conversation came up. The closest I think we ever got to that was him telling me that he had collected a lot of the first two years of the Kenner Starting Line-Ups, which would have been 1988/1989 or so. I forget the exact the circumstances that would have lead to him buying them, but I think it had something to do with him being some sort of retail deliveryman/merchandiser.My contribution to the conversation was that those toys had gained some value at the time.

I can’t say that I knew a lot about the man, which in hind sight is kind of sad. I had’t seen Grandpa Jerry in about 15 years, ever since he and grandpa packed up their California home and moved to North Carolina, a place I’d never visited. I have a Polaroid picture I took with Grandma and Grandpa in front of their home just before I bid them farewell in 2003, but I’m not entirely sure where it it at the moment.

But as I sit here working through these emotions, there are three distinct items for which I shall remember Grandpa. 1) A trucker-style University of Kentucky hat that hung on the wall just inside the front door. I’m not sure I’d ever seen him wear it, but it was always there. I’m somewhat recalling that he may have been from Kentucky. 2) His powder blue 1980s Chevrolet Silverado that had a scene of horses galloping through an open field emblazoned like a window tint for the cab window. I’d gone with him once or twice to buy lottery tickets in the truck and I recall thinking how different it felt to ride in a truck instead of a sedan. And 3) The round silver ashtray that sat on the table next to his recliner. Grandpa was a smoker. There was no doubt about that. Thinking about that ash tray reminds me of a time, shortly before he and grandma moved, when I saw two of my grandfathers — old US Air Force buddies who wound up foes for a long while and then were seemingly on good terms before the departure to the east coast — and my uncle Frank sharing coffee, conversation and cigarettes together on the driveway. It was an odd sight at the time but I recall making a conscious effort to remember that moment and take a snapshot in my mind. All three of them have since passed away, all within the last 18 months or so.

It’s a really weird feeling to go all through childhood without really having to deal with death in the family, and then suddenly get slammed with a series of deaths as we get older. It’s not something we have control over, and each time I am reminded of it. And every time we say goodbye to a loved one, I think about my time with my kids and what messages I want to convey and experiences I want to share with them.

I’m not much of a talker; I chose writing as my preferred method of communication. If you were to ask me about Grandpa Jerry I might not have verbalized any of this. But if you’re still reading at this point, I thank you got taking the time. It means a lot.

Deuces Don Drysdale rookie …

Posted in Hall of Famers, Misc. with tags , , , , , , , on January 13, 2018 by Cardboard Icons

If you’re not familiar with the primary focus of my collection, I’ve been acquiring the Rookie Card or a tobacco-era card of every member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Wagner. Ruth. Mantle. Etc. And on top of that, the card has to be stabbed by Beckett Grading Services because I like uniformity.

This week I added to my collection a 1909-11 t206 John McGraw already stabbed by BGS/BVG. Low grade, but still wonderful to see.

It’s so much fun adding these century-old cards to the wall display. It’s a lot more fun adding these baseball icons than chasing something new and flashy. But that’s just my opinion.

So now the McGraw will be inserted in the top row — to keep things chronological — and since the Drysdale is the last card in the case it has to be moved.

So what happens with the Drysdale? It’ll get bumped to the second graded card display which presently houses stabbed HOF rookies from 1958-1991.

I’ll need another case eventually as I have a half dozen more ungraded HOF t206 that need BGS/BVG cases. This will eventually force the move of Jim Bunning and Bill Mazeroski as well.

Ben,

Collector of Hall of Fame tobacco era and Rookie cards.

Collector of Roger Clemens and Clayton Kershaw.

You can reach me on Twitter and Instagram @cardboardicons. You can also e-mail me at cardboardicons@yahoo.com

I’m going to the store just for supplies… I think.

Posted in Commentary, Misc. with tags , , , , , on January 12, 2018 by Cardboard Icons

After I wrote yesterday’s post, I finished up with the car maintenance and headed over to the card shop to buy nothing more than supplies. Just a few new little plastic cases to help protect some of the items in my collection.

And while that was my sole intent, I thought it’d be fun if I found something to add to the collection. To sort of mark this place in my life.

The thoughts and emotions that ran over me. They were familiar.

What was I going to buy? What would I find? Was this hypothetical card purchase really going to be something I wanted/needed, or merely something I was buying to soothe an itch?

When I waked into my local card shop I was greeted by the secondary guy — it was Thursday, the sole day off for the primary guy with whom I usually spark conversation .

I said hello and went straight to the supply area. I needed a 180-point one-touch to protect and display a specific card I recently added to my collection. And after grabbing two of those (because that’s what we do, right?), and two packs of soft sleeves specifically designed for tobacco cards, I decided to have a look around the shop.

I looked and looked. And looked some more. I looked high and low and didn’t see anything that sparked my interest. Not even the vintage case — which was pretty barren on this day — had anything that enticed me, partly because I owned most of the stuff that was in there.

I then saw lots of high prices for packs, priced way above retail for products that didn’t interest me.

Yes, NBA Panini Prizm is hot. But guess who doesn’t collect basketball? This guy. And I sure as hell was going to pay $35 for a blaster box that costs $19.99 at Target … when /if you can find them.

And all baseball released in 2017 has been marked up so much it’s disgusting. No fault of the LCS of course.

And so I reached familiar feeling: There was nothing that struck my fancy and I was leaving without any cards. Hey, it’s baseball’s off season, I’ve been here before.

So I went to pay for my cases, and there next to the register stood a stack, about 8 inches tall, of cards left behind by other customers. The shop always offers customers a chance to take whatever they want from the stack. Sometimes I indulge. Today it appeared to be 90% basketball and football, but I found a small stack of 2017 Panini Contenders Draft Picks, baseball of course. The clerk said I could take them all — so I did.

I knew there were no “hits,” but this was a cost-effective way to soothe an itch that I could feel growing. Plus I knew Roger Clemens has a few cards in the set so I was hoping to find one.

The funny thing about seeing this stack though, is that it instantly reinforced the idea in my kind that this hobby has become so much about the hits that there are people who simply don’t care about the standard issue items. Some of the. Simply discard practically anything that doesn’t bear a swatch of fabric, a smudge of ink, or a serial number.

But after thinking about that reaction for a minute, it made me feel a certain way — like I’ve been looking at this hobby lately through such a prism of negativity that I couldn’t appreciate this instance for what it was worth: someone made a conscious effort to stack the freebie cards there and offer them to others instead of actually tossing them in the trash, which many collectors see as sacrilege. And on this occasion I was the one benefiting from this … this … generosity.

I still see a lot of negative aspects to our hobby right now, but perhaps I need to allow myself to see the other side of things and understand why things are the way they are.

By the way, I spend less than $9 on supplies and in that stack of cards I got for free there was indeed a Roger Clemens card I did not yet own.

Ben Aguirre, Jr.,

Former Beckett Baseball columnist.

———

Collector of Hall of Fame tobacco era and Rookie cards.

Collector of Roger Clemens and Clayton Kershaw.

You can reach me on Twitter and Instagram @cardboardicons. You can also e-mail me at cardboardicons@yahoo.com

Self Reflection: A New Beginning for Cardboard Icons?

Posted in Misc. on January 11, 2018 by Cardboard Icons

As I sit down to write this, I think back to nine years ago. This blog was such an important part of my life at the time that I sat in a hospital room and wrote by hand — by hand! — the words that would become a post, dedicated to my daughter, who’d just been born.

I remember it clearly. My then-wife lying in bed recovering from giving birth. My daughter receiving the typical newborn treatment in another room. And me, scribbling away on a legal pad the thoughts about how my life had changed.

What did fatherhood mean for me and my hobby, one that had kept me out of trouble when I was a kid?

What would come of this blog, which to that point I had spent more than six months building and it was gaining readership, thanks to a few people who had plugged it along the way.

The answer, as it turned out, was not much of a change at all. Sure, there were a few minor tweaks to my buying habits, but this blog continued to give me something else to do — especially at 2 am while bottle feeding my newborn daughter, who if you haven’t figured it it turned nine years old today. NINE!

In cardboard terms, Joba Chamberlain and Tim Lincecum were the hobby darlings. Think on that. Feel old yet?

I still collected after her birth, albeit as haphazardly as ever. My focus had not fully taken place. And as I mentioned, this blog gave me something to do in those wee hours as her heart beat against my chest after being fed.

I was all about readership, and page views. This was in an age just before Twitter blew up — that really started toward the end of 2009. I had something to say damn near every day — I’m not saying it was important, but I had something to say. It was important for me to share thoughts about current cards, stuff I was chasing and what not.

Life continued in this fashion for years. I was happy. People saw me and my family and saw we were happy.

But we’re we really happy? Was my balance of card life and real life even?

About two years later I had a career change, and in that same time frame, my second child was born.

Two kids, a boy and a girl, a wife, a dog and a hobby with which I seemed to be having loads of fun.

Happiness.

Or was it?

In late 2011 I unearthed at a thrift store a game-used Earl Weaver jersey, (Google it, brother!), which as it would turn out would lay the ground work for me landing a dream gig — writing for Beckett Baseball/Beckett Media.

By this point, the Beckett name had been sullied. The price guide for which the company had become famous was pretty much obsolete. And for new-age collectors the mere mention of the company name seemingly gave them jumping-off point to bash writers — one specific one in particular, a good guy whom I have come to know really well and would defend to the end. The same guy — whom many trashed based on allegations or opinions of a handful — who would help me accomplish a boyhood dream: Write something for the magazine.

That one-time, first-person article was eventually parlayed into a longer gig that would last through 2015.

Happiness … I think.

That gig, along with the ease of Twitter, left this blog to sit fairly stagnant with the exception of a dozen or so posts a year. Readership dwindled as my sense of urgency to blogging long-form had been replaced by microblogging, which is, or was, what Twitter is often referred.

I’ve “given away” my thoughts and opinions on Twitter so often that it’s left me feeling as if I didn’t have to write — which is counterproductive for a guy who loves writing. And another problem with microblogging is there’s no way to really archive my stuff — at least not in favorable way.

When I started this blog it was always meant to be something I did for myself, but also something I could share with others. Additionally, it helped me see where my head was in the hobby at certain points. Self reflection is fun … and can be positive, even if it takes you to dark places along the way.

Over the last two years, life has changed again as I am going through a divorce. It’s not an ugly one, but it’s a divorce nonetheless. I’ve not really divulged details or chronicled it here, but it’s also opened my eyes to several things, including certain aspects of this hobby.

Remember that self reflection I mentioned a few paragraphs ago? Yep, this is where this comes in.

As I sit here, nine years to the day after my daughter was born, both of my kids are in school and I’m writing this blog on a phone as my car’s oil and other fluids get changed.

I’ve got a lot of thoughts about this hobby — some good, some bad — that I want to share. But I want to do it under MY circumstances: I want to WRITE them, not pass them out on Twitter so they can get lost among all of political stuff.

That said, I’m also wondering how often I can allow myself to take a break from life to do it.

I’m in a really good place in my life. And I want to pursue writing again. And while readership will likely never reach what it was, I still want to do it because getting my thoughts out makes me happy.

Thanks for reading,

Ben Aguirre, Jr.,

Former Beckett Baseball columnist.

———

Collector of Hall of Fame tobacco era and Rookie cards.

Collector of Roger Clemens and Clayton Kershaw.

You can reach me on Twitter and Instagram @cardboardicons. You can also e-mail me at cardboardicons@yahoo.com

In Memoriam: Bobby Doerr (April 7, 1918 – Nov. 13, 2017)

Posted in In Memoriam, Misc. with tags , , , , , on November 14, 2017 by Cardboard Icons

1939 Play Ball Bobby Doerr Rookie Card