Collecting Kershaw: Came home to a mailbox full of a sack of rocks …

Posted in Collecting Kershaw with tags , , , , , , on June 4, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I returned to my California home yesterday from my trip to Pittsburgh and found a sack of rocks waiting for me in my mailbox. Under most circumstances, this would be cause for concern, but let it be known that this sack wound up here intentionally.

Before embarking on my first trip to the East Coast in almost a decade, last week I struck a pretty neat deal for a pair of game-used items from Cleveland Indians games. One was a ball struck as a single by 2018 MVP candidate Jose Ramirez, the other was an MLB authenticated Game-Used rosin bag from the June 13, 2017, battle between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Cleveland Indians. The pitching match-up for the day? Just Trevor Bauer versus future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw.

I wouldn’t say that I forgot about this purchase, but I was dumbfounded for a second when I grabbed the bubble mailer and felt what literally felt like a sack of rocks. Then when I opened the package I got a smile on my face.

I own more than a half-dozen baseballs thrown by Clayton Kershaw, my favorite active player. Among them are two that were used during his 2015 NL West clinching 13-strikeout, 1-hit performance against the San Francisco Giants, a game in which I attended. Also, I own the first ball thrown by Kershaw against the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2018 NLCS Game 5. There are a few other balls in the collection including ones he threw against Oakland in 2018 when I again saw him live, one fouled off by fellow 2006 first-round pick Evan Longoria in 2018, and another fouled off by Giants catcher Buster Posey in 2015. But in terms of other game-used items, I’d never even seen a rosin bag like this for sale so it was a must-own when it popped up.

The seller accepted offers and after a bit of back and forth we were able to negotiate a price that would end up with me owning this often forgotten piece of baseball memorabilia.

We all know about balls, bats, helmets, cleats and jerseys being collected. But rosin bags? Do people collect those? I know I have seen other rosin bags for sale on eBay and other sites, but I never really thought I’d end up buying one. But in this case, this seemed like a no-brainer, even if the MLB attribution does not specifically mentioned any players. And the bag itself does not have any pine tar on the exterior so it is unlikely to be from the on deck circle. The bag is full, the exterior is caked in powder and dirt that appears to be from the pitchers mound.

This was a battle between two big name, big league pitchers and in the end my guy, Kershaw, wound up with his 135th career victory after throwing 7 innings and striking out 4 Indians batters.

The item was shipped to me in an Indians Team Store bag and left me wondering just how I was going to display it. I thought about purchasing a plastic case like the ones used for Beanie Babies, but found a 200-count two-piece plastic box in my stash of supplies and that seems to be working just fine.

My next step is trying to find a screen shot showing Kershaw, Bauer and others handling the bag.

That’s a long way to come for a card …

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , on June 3, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

In this day and age of our hobby, there is almost nothing that isn’t available on the internet.

Rare singles, cheap wax, you name it — it’s all there at the click of a button. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth visiting local card shops.

This week my girlfriend and I traveled to Pittsburgh for a wedding. And while in the area I thought it’d be neat to visit a shop, a place that would give me a flavor of the area, as well as an opportunity to find a card for me to take home as a memento of this trip. After all, cards are the timeline of my life.

I sought out suggestions via Twitter and was immediately reminded that Steel City Collectibles is based in the area and does have a retail store. But while it would have been cool to visit the hub of one of the internet’s largest card dealers, I was short on free time, and really wasn’t seeking cheap wax.

A quick check of a Google revealed several options, which was refreshing since I often hear folks complain about the lack of shops. There were three potential options based on the time available and our location: one was a small shop nearby but based on Online reviews and images, it looked to be more focused on gaming cards — not horrible, just not what I was seeking.

The other two options were SportsCards Etc. and Sports Card Junction. I checked reviews of both and available photos and while either could have worked for me, I chose SCJ solely because I could see they had a larger selection of singles and several Dollar Boxes to soothe my itch to uncover a buried treasure — you all know how I love to unearth gems.

So we set out for the shop and upon arrival I was pleased to see that the store was indeed open for business and was as well-stocked as the photos online showed

Store owner Chuck was behind the counter engaging with another customer who appeared to me buying a Mario Lemeiux card for his son or nephew. I set my eyes on the Dollar Box and began my hunt.

It should be noted that this is the first trip to a shop or show in which my girlfriend of two years has come along. It’s a big deal — how was she going to react when she saw price tags and saw how much time I was going to spend blindly hunting for a possible gem in the stacks?

Much to my surprise she was supportive. Gave me time and space, and even began interacting with the store owner as he continued to field phone calls from a potential seller of a couple of Michael Jordan rookie cards. She made small talk with the owner and even told him we were from California, to which Chuck muttered the phrase: “That’s a long way to come for a card …”

I spent a good 30 minutes digging and came up with 11 cards from the Dollar Boxes that I felt needed to come home with me. They were as follows:

Four 2012 Topps Update All Star Mike Trouts. Why? Because it’s An early Trout.

Two 2016 Bowman Chrome Draft Refractor Garret Hampson cards. Why: Because Friend Big Shep has built him up to be someone to whom I needed to pay attention

A 2017 Bowman Chrome Sean Manaea Rookie card. Why: Because I got to shake Manaea’s hand on the morning after his no hitter and my girlfriend was there to snap the picture.

A 1998 Prism Gold Wade Boggs serial numbered to 480 copies. Why: Because the card is gorgeous and will go well with the Revolution parallel my son and I pulled from a box we bought earlier this year.

A 1996-97 Flair Blue Ice Collection Keith Primeau /250. Why? Because I thought I could flip it, but in hindsight it’s also a cool card because it showcases the Hartford Whalers logo.

A 1992 Score “The Franchise” Stan Musial / Mickey Mantle / Carl Yastrzemski

Why: Because I LOVE this insert set and know how tough they were to pull at the time of release. Also, this card had a $12.99 price tag on it which made me feel as if I was getting a steal of a deal. I know the market for these is soft, but open a case of 1992 Score and tell me how many The Franchise inserts you pull.

1952 Topps Roy McMillan

Why? Because it’s 1952 Topps! Sure, this card has had its borders trimmed, it’s creased like crazy and part of the back is probably stuck to the paper album in which it had been affixed at some point. But cmon … THIS is the kind of stuff I dig for.

I could have spent hours digging; and honestly, there were other flippable cards. But I wasn’t solely there for cards on which to profit. I wanted a piece that would define this trip

I located another box on the showcase that had some cards on top loaders at varying prices. This is where I found two Clayton Kershaw cards for my collection.

2017 Topps Chrome Update Gold Refractor /50

2015 Panini Immaculate Jumbo Swatches /15

While those Kershaws would have been sufficient for my defining cards — after all I don’t own a whole lot of jumbo blue swatch Kershaw relics — I continued to look . And then my eye set site on a glorious vintage Willie Mays card that was clearly handcut, and the price tag made my mouth water. I asked Chuck if I could look at the Mays and he opened the showcase for me and handed me the card, which he did not know was a Bazooka release. I pulled the card halfway out of the Card Saver, touched the back and gave it a sniff — yep, it was authentic vintage. I mentioned that I thought the card was a Bazooka release, and as Chuck rang me up, he again asked what I had identified the card as so he could mark it down on his sales sheet.

I thanked Chuck for the hospitality — he threw in a few freebie packs from Topps and Panini and cut me a small discount on the purchase — and shook his hand and left the shop really feeling good about the decision to go there.

In the hours and days after the purchase, I showed a few items off via social media and even tagged the shop and had a little pleasant interaction with Chad, the son of the owner and also the person who does the buying — I know this based on the multiple calls Chuck fielded while I was browsing.

If you find yourself in the Pittsburgh area, make sure to swing by SCJ as you’ll probably find something that suits your needs. It was a long way to come for a card, but now that Mays card will act as the card to define this trip.

Thanks again, Chuck and Chad.

In Memoriam: Bill Buckner (Dec. 14, 1949 – May 27, 2019)

Posted in In Memoriam with tags , , , on May 27, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

1970 Topps Rookie Card

Collecting Clemens: A collector package from South Korea

Posted in Collcting Clemens, Mail Day on May 23, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

A few weeks ago, a person who recently came into my network of collectors put out on Twitter that he was looking for a Roger Clemens collector, so I raised my hand.

This collector is currently living and working in South Korea and said he had a bunch of Clemens stickers from the 1990s that he was looking to unload. The cost? Nothing. I offered to send something in exchange but he insisted, so I thanked him and sent him a mailing address.

That package arrived this week and from the moment the package was opened, it hit me right in the feels. The first item I saw in this package was the back of a 1988 Fleer Sticker, a set that is near and dear to my heart. In 1988, I only knew of ONE place that had these stickers, a 7-Eleven near my grandfather’s house and we only visited him once in a blue moon. So at best I may have opened three or four packs in my youth,

Sure, I’ve since acquired that Clemens sticker but every time I lay eyes on the black and white color back of these stickers I am transported to 1988 and a vision of seeing a box of these smashed — literally– under some toys near the register.

The 1988 Fleer sticker was just one item in this package that evoked feelings of nostalgia. Damn near everything in here reminded me of my early collecting days, when I often found myself debating whether or not to buy cards or stickers, after all, I treated them the same — they all got shoved into boxes or in those stiff, poor quality binder pages that used to crack and flake every time I flipped through my three-ring, O-Ring binder.

Here’s everything that was inside the package. And before I forget to say it, thank you, Dan, aka Korean Cardboard. (Edit: And thanks to Andrew for the assist, sorry I forgot to name you earlier.)

We’ll start with a 1987 Fleer Sticker. I never saw these during my youth, except when they were being sold at card shows.

The 1988 Panini sticker set is also one that hits home with me. These stickers and the album were given away when we signed up for Little League during that year. I would also buy packages of these whenever my mom took us grocery shopping. The Clemens is a classic to me for obvious reasons.

By 1991, I had pretty much moved away from the Panini sticker albums. But I still found myself buying packages of them from time to time just to vary the items that were coming into my collection. These stickers are pretty boring if you ask me — they’s skinnier and the design is bland. But, the did have stats right on the sicker, and not just printed in the album.

Know what’s funny? I never even saw Panini stickers in 1994 or 1996 in stores, yet here they are now in my hands. I have to say, I kind of dig the green borders and the larger stickers from 1994; the 1996 feels very 1996 — small and lazy.

I bought a TON of 1988 and 1989 Topps sticker back packs, these are the ones that felt like the UK Mini cards but had stickers affixed to the back. This package contained a bunch of these, as well as some O-Pee Chee versions. I’m happy to see these beauties again.

As for Topps stickers, I didn’t get down with those as much as the Panini ones, so these are a nice addition to the collection. Here are a some 1987s, including a dual-sticker and a foil All-Star.

All in all, this was a fun package to receive from over seas. Thanks again, Dan.

My first Topps Now card of 2019… and it’s a Walk Off Winner from my birthday

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , on May 22, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

When I was a kid, my parents always asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday. I was never a party kind of person. All I needed was family and baseball, so in my teens I started asking my mother and father if we could go to an A’s game.

We didn’t go every year, but one of my favorite baseball birthday memories was when I was about to turn 19. My father took me and two friends to a May 1, 1999, contest between the Boston Red Sox and the Oakland A’s. As it turned out, Pedro Martinez was on the mound for the BoSox and he wound up dominating Oakland to the tune of 13 strikeouts over just 7 innings en route to his career 89th career victory. Needless to say I, being a Red Sox fan, was happy. And in the context of baseball history, that dominating start really summed up 1999 Pedro, damn near untouchable.

I’ve gone to many other games around my birthday, and as it turned out, this year, my 39th birthday, wound up probably being my second favorite, even eclipsing that one from a half a lifetime ago. (My top favorite is still this trip to Fenway in 2010.)

This year my son’s Little League participated in three different “Youth Sports League” days/night in the area. The league participated in San Francisco Giants and San Jose Giants events, as well as one of the several hosted by the Oakland A’s. This year, the League chose the night that happened to be Friday Fireworks Night, which just so happened to be my birthday.

We tailgated with the League President and other families. The kids played Wiffle Ball, I played catch with my kids, and I tweeted out a picture of my son wearing my personal Mark McGwire jersey, the one I wore during my high school days.

The tweet received a lot of attention, including an epic comment from the Oakland A’s organization itself. The response from the team was a gif of McGwire bashing elbows at home plate following a walk-off home run in Game 3 of the 1988 World Series — the gif really hit home because I remember staying up late to watch that game with my mom, who lovingly bashed elbows with be after the homer.

As for this day, my kids, their mother, and I sat in the left field bleachers, which is not a typical spot for me. I sat here on this day because I didn’t want the sun to be in anyone’s face. As it turned out, it was fate.

My daughter wore a Matt Chapman jersey I got as a stadium giveaway last year, just as she has done every time we’ve gone to a game since I acquired the garment. And every time he comes to the plate or makes a play in the field, I point him out so that she and my son can draw a connection to Chapman, who is the face of the franchise.

On this night we watched Chapman smash a single into left field past shortstop Francisco Lindor’s glove, and later make it to second base on a following play. This turned out to be significant for me because I managed to purchase the ball that Chapman struck for the single, and later photo-matched it thanks to a bobble by Jose Ramirez, which was captured by a photograph. In the photo you can see the mud that exists on the ball which was authenticated and sold by the ball club.

And then several innings and hours later, as fans who were there for fireworks grew restless, sat Chapman in the 12th inning slugged his first career walk-off homerun, which happened to land in the general area where we were sitting. If you look closely at the television broadcast you can see my family just a few rows away,

The walk-off homer wound of being chronicled by Topps the very next day on a Topps Now card, which of course I had to purchase. And that card of course just arrived this week to act as a keepsake for what has to be one of my top best baseball-related birthday memories I have had to date.

I hope 2019 Bowman Mega Boxes are gone before I see them

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , on May 16, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

2019 Bowman Mega Boxes have begun to hit shelves — a week earlier than the advertised release date — and people in the hobby are going nuts trying to find these lottery tickets.

Personally, I hope they are gone before I see them.

Why? Don’t I like cards? Don’t I want a shot at pulling some ridiculously priced prospect card?

The answer to all of that is yes. And that’s MY problem.

I’ve got an addictive personality, and a serious case of FOMO — Fear Of Missing Out — so I tend to over extend myself on retail products I don’t even collect simply because that’s what’s hot, and I have this feeling that I must buy some (or all) if I actually locate it in the wild.

We’ve been breeding this culture that once you see it, you’ve got to buy it all. I know I am not the only one. Go look at your Twitter feed and message board posts and look at the number of people dropping $300-$500 on baskets full of Bowman Mega Boxes; go look at the walls of Mega Box Wax being shown off.

This isn’t the only product that gets us doing this, but it is the latest. Because we know that somewhere within these $20 boxes of surprise could be lying a card that might be worth (resell value) thousands, but we participate en mass knowing that most cards will be worth just a few quarters in most cases.

Personally, I know what I’ll do when and if I see these things. I’m sure I’ll buy two or three. And I’ll feel that excitement and rush as a I check out. And moments later that feeling will be gone after I open them, a replaced with the idea that “what if” I bought another two or three? And then the sickness continues.

Good luck to any and all who open Bowman Mega Boxes. I have no ill feelings toward any of you. Just do yourself a favor and make sure those boxes are FACTORY SEALED … we all know that only two packs in each box are really why you’re buying them, and if history has shown us anything, cheap-ass scammers can and will find a way to remove them from boxes.

Poor packaging, fingernail marks and a Kershaw Gold Rookie Card highlight mailday

Posted in Collecting Kershaw, Mail Day with tags , , , , , on May 10, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I received two packages yesterday, both of which contained Clayton a Kershaw cards.

The first package I shared on a twitter as the packaging alone is almost post worthy. I acquired a 2019 Topps Opening Day Dirt relic card that the seller decided to ship only in a team bag taped to a piece of cardboard, all inside a padded envelope. No Top Loader. I wouldn’t bother bringing up the packaging if the seller had used a piece of cardboard on both side of the card, however that was not the case. This seller merely left one side — the top side — exposed to the bubble wrap and whatever case into contact with it. Folks, don’t do this.

The card is Ok, I suppose. Although I now wonder if it was done on purpose as a cover-up, or to build in an excuse for the dog marks on the surface of the card — you can see there are fingernail marks, a true sign this card was pulled by a not-so-careful packsearcher.

***

The second package brought home a card I wasn’t sure I’d ever acquired. An inexperienced seller put up for auction a base 2008 Topps Update Kershaw Rookie Card along with a 2008 Topps Update Gold Border Kershaw Rookie serial numbered /2008. I managed to acquire the lot for the price of three blasters, which is a pretty decent deal considering the base Rookie often sells $40-$60 when Kershaw is healthy. True, the Gold has some issues on one corner — which is likely why some folks balked — but the two-Card lot made sense for me.