Archive for Babe Ruth

Sometimes I wish for simplicity

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

When you look at your collection what is it that you see? What makes you proud? What still has you passionate about the hobby? Does the amount of cards or the complexity, or lack of focus, weigh you down?

These are the types of questions I often ask myself.

When I started collecting cards I collected because I enjoyed the idea of acquiring cards. Value wasn’t a big factor. Of course time has changed and I needed a focus, and as you know by now, value — or perceived value, or worth, or whatever you want to call it — most certainly does play a big factor in our hobby these days.

By the time I entered college I realized that I truly loved rookie cards because they were a player’s first card, often their most iconic card, and for better or worse the value of said first cards seemed to rise and fall with performance more than any other a player’s card. And so I determined that I was going to be a rookie card collector.

First it was a rookie card of every baseball player who had one. I actually pulled out a Beckett Almanac and started making a checklist of cards officially designated with the RC or XRC tag.

And then I narrowed it a bit to just Hall of Famer Rookie Cards, but I realized I was missing an entire generation of players who starred on baseball diamonds before Goudey cards were a thing. So I expanded to include t206 or any suitable tobacco or gum card released from HOFers playing days.

For the most part I had accomplished all I set out to do. I do not own a 52 Topps Eddie Matthews because they’ve never been affordable by comparison to what it cost me for other HOFers.

But I do own an authentic rookie or tobacco era cards of just about every other HOF player.

Ruth. Gehrig. Honus. Cobb. Big Train. Mantle. Mays. Aaron. They’re all there in my collection.

For all intents and purposes, my cardboard dreams have come true. I have accomplished what I set out to do — with or without the Eddie Mathews.

But sometimes I sit and wonder what my hobby experience would have been like had I not taken the plunge and sought out rookie cards.

Once I pulled the trigger on the 1951 Bowman Willie Mays in 2006, the seal was broken for me. I was no longer “just collecting cards” I was buying pieces of Americana; I was buying the most iconic baseball cards created. And because I had gone down that route, it seems as though I have spent the last 13 years chasing the fleeting feeling I got when my Mays arrived — and that is an impossible task. Because when the card of your desire arrives via whatever means, it usually creates a situation where you’re instantly looking for the next one that evokes the same emotion. It’s like a drug user constantly looking to match the euphoria they got on the previous hit.

Many people never collected the way I did when I actively chased the HOF rookies. In fact, most people are content with what makes/made them happy regardless of what it is. And in many ways I envy that; I have a great appreciation for those who find the same joy and express such passion in simplicity.

It’s nice to accomplish your goals, but inevitably there is a point where you begin to ask yourself: Now what?

The hunger, the passion that I once had for cards has waned a bit. And I have taken joy in reverting to player collecting. But it does at times feel like I poisoned my own hobby experience. I miss the ability to cherish my pulls, to enjoy cards for what they are and what they represent without constantly measuring them to the HOF collection. While I do not regret the path I have taken; I am not sure where I go from where. I’m not sure there is a suitable answer for the “what’s next” question.

Sometimes you win, Sometimes you lose, Sometimes you break even … in theory

Posted in New Addition with tags , , , , , , , on February 18, 2018 by Cardboard Icons

About a month ago I located on eBay a lot of cards that I thought might have a nice return for me. The auction was poorly titled and clear as day in the pictures was what appeared to be a 1963 Topps Mickey Mantle.

For as long as I have been on eBay — which is now 20 years — I’d dreamed of coming up on a group of cards featuring an authentic Mantle card priced for next to nothing.

Well, I’ll need to keep dreaming.

I won the auction for $40 — a bit of a gamble, but not overly expensive. And when the cards arrived in my hands I opened the package and went straight to the Mantle. The card felt weird and the image looked soft. I grabbed my jewler’s loupe and confirmed my suspicion: The Mantle was a fake.

The stock was wrong. The type face was blurry and there were grain lines printed into the cardboard. And the card is slightly smaller than other 1963s I own.

Gone was the dream.

Gone was my confidence.

Gone was my $40. (The seller didn’t accept returns — which isn’t a problem as I do not allow them either.)

I let the cards sit on my coffee table for about a week before the disgust wore away and I was able to appreciate what was still in the package, which included two cards I did not already own.

The two highlights from this package were a 1973 Fleer Laughlin Baseball’s Famous Feats Babe Ruth and a 1976 MSA Isaly’s disc Hank Aaron. Both items are oversized, but would look neat in a display piece I’m thinking about making.

Additionally, the package also had this 1964 Topps Giants Harmon Killebrew, which is also oversized and may make its way into the piece I’m envisioning.

The remainder of the lot is rounded out by a 1964 Topps Jim Kaat, 1965 Topps league leaders HR featuring three Hall of Famers including Willie Mays, a 1969 Topps Deckle Luis Aparicio, two 1986 Sports Design Products unlicensed wannabe 1969 Cards of Whitey Ford and Eddie Mathews, and an intriguing 1957 Topps Dick Williams.

Why is the Williams intriguing? The bottom border has been cut off and a previous owner clearly had this thing taped to something — perhaps a bed post? — which always reminds me of how cards were enjoyed before they became items associated with money.

While the package didn’t quite deliver the value I’d hope, in hindsight it still offered more value than a lot of current stuff. I mean this lot did have vintage cards of three of the game’s most prolific power hitters — Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays.

’16 Stadium Club & ’15 Prism box breaks

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

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I won a gift certificate from Blowout Cards earlier this year and it’d been sitting in my account for months.  I decided to use it last week and just a few days ago the boxes arrived. I love Stadium Club and Prizm offered two autos per box at a discounted price so it seemed like a decent buy.  Here are the results.

I’ll say this upfront. Panini America’s Prism is always fun to open, although I think we’d all like it more if the cards had logos. I like the design,  the quality of the cards and I the parallels. These boxes have two autos and four numbered parallels per box.  I did OK given the price point.  My autos were James McCann and Addison Russell, which was a parallel. My parallels included a Barry Bonds /125, Stephen Strasburg /99 and Cole Hamels /42.

 photo 1FDB2955-9BBF-4EA4-835C-9DC814AC92ED_zpsey0opswu.jpgThe real reason I decided to order the cards was because I really like Stadium Club. I love the photos, which is what brings be back to the product every year that Topps decides to bring it back.  As you know, each box contains two autographs and a slew of parallels and inserts.  My haul wasn’t half bad.  The autos included one of a young Mets pitcher Steven Matz whose signature I didn’t already own, and my parallels were solid — black parallels of Corey Seager and Babe Ruth, gold Mike Trout.  And I pulled one of those tough (1:256 packs) Triumvirate Illuminators (Prince Fielder) and a photo variation of Greg Maddux.

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Thrift Treasures 91: Couldn’t get to The National so I went antiquing … 

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , on July 29, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

This blog along with my passion for finding items at second-hand stores has led to fantastic opportunities, such as writing on occasion for Beckett Media.  The gig with Beckett has afforded me the opportunity to get to two of the last three National Sports Collectors Conventions, but this year it was it in the cards, so to say.  

So with many of my fellow collectors arriving in Chicago for this years NSCC my family and I headed for one of our favorite towns, which has a slew of antique shops.

The first shop we hit had something I hadn’t seen in this store before. A 2006 Allen & Ginter Rip Card of Roberto Clemente, serial numbered 72/99.

As you can see the price was $29.99 and was now 70% off.  Now, we all know the deal with Rip Cards — they contain an additional card within, something that is rarer than other cards in the set. Well, as you probably guess this is a ripped Rip Card.

Even though the rear of the card is technically missing, the price point of $8.99 after discounts, made it appealing.  The card is even cooler since it features the old serial number style. And of course the 2015 A&G set was just released and it celebrates the 10th anniversary. The Clemente is from that inaugural set.

In the same area where the Clemente was at, there was a box of cards marked 25 cents each. Lots of commons from 1988 and 1989.  In the box was this 1989 Fleer Bill Ripken.  

This is not the vulgar version, this is the “scribble” version, which isn’t a super rare variation, but not super common either. 

And at the very last shop I found this sealed deck of baseball playing cards for $3.50

The front of the box bills this as the “Baseball Card Game,” which judging by the rules, appears to be a take on “Go Fish.” Whatever … I was more excited about the adds featuring Hall of Famers and discussing their stats. There are 13 players features and all have four cards. Each card focuses on a different stat.

Total cost for these treasures: $12.74

You can see more Thrift Treasures posts Here

OTD in 1929 Yankees become first team to use numbers on jerseys based on batting order

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , on April 16, 2013 by Cardboard Icons


Cardboard Icons’ Top 25 Acquisitions of 2012

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2012 by Cardboard Icons

The year 2012 marked the 25th year in which I had been in the hobby of collecting baseball cards.  Perhaps the highlight of the year was making the trip to Baltimore to attend the National Sports Collectors Convention, which was documented on the Web and in print in a recent issue of Beckett Sports Cards Monthly. Oddly enough, the highlight of that trip to the East Coast really didn’t involve baseball cards at all.  It involved a 35-year-old game-used jersey being signed by the Hall of Famer who wore it.

I digress. I am a baseball card collector.  I eat, sleep and shi… ship …. baseball cards.  So it would only make sense for me to have acquired some cardboard goodies in this milestone year. So here are my top 25 personal collection additions in this, my 25th  anniversary in the hobby.



1948 Bowman Bob Feller BVG 3


For years I had owned a copy of Bob Feller’s rookie card, but it was one that had his name written (not by him OR me …) on the front.  To say I needed an upgraded copy of Rapid Robert’s rookie would be an under statement. (From eBay)



1991 Donruss Elite Legends Series Nolan Ryan /7500


Series numbered insert card makes my Top 25?  And the card is not inked?  Yes.  This Ryan is from the first Donruss Elite Series insert set and is one of the toughest to find from that year.  As you might know I am working on completing the Elite Series sets from 1991 through 1993, including the autographs.  This won’t be the last Elite card on this list. (From eBay)



1951 Bowman Whitey Ford BVG 2


Card #1 from one of the greatest sets every made, and it’s the rookie card of one of the game’s best post-season pitchers.  Ford’s rookie card is easy to find, in pretty much whatever shape you want, and can be had at different price points.  What made this one appealing to me was the fact that It was already graded by Beckett Grading, which is my preferred company for my collection.  It also helps that I was able to acquire this card without “spending” money. (From COMC)



1975 Topps Robin Yount (Raw=BVG 7.5)


When buying raw vintage cards online, one must be wary of condition.  Cards that look like they are mint often are flawed, or have been trimmed.  I saw this Yount in raw form and it had ZERO bids … all the way up until the last second (literally) when I threw a $5 bid on the card.  I won.  I received the card and it looked authentic and unaltered.  A few months later It was sent to BGS with one of my orders and it came back a 7.5, as you see here. (From eBay)



2004 Bowman Chrome Felix Hernandez Rookie Card Autograph (RAW=BGS 8)


You see the BGS 8 and immediately move along.  I get it.  Current cards graded an 8 are lesser specimens in our hobby. But this card was raw when I got it, and I got it considerably lower than I expected to ever pay for a King Felix chrome auto rookie.  The overall grade really doesn’t bother me.  The signature is perfect and the card looks better than the grade that its been assigned. (From eBay)



1992 Score Franchise Autographs Carl Yastrzemski /2000


I detailed over the summer my quest to scratch an itch that started some 20 years ago … to obtain one of the three signed cards from this iconic chase card set.  When this card popped up on Check Out My Cards over the summer, it had to be mine.  (From COMC)



1992 Score Franchise Autographs Stan Musial /2,000


Like the aforementioned Yaz auto, this Musial was a card I’ve always wanted.  This one means even more to me because I’ve pulled two of the un-signed versions from packs over the last two decades.  Additionally, the quality of Musial’s signature has worsened over the years due to his age.  It’s a beautiful thing to see one of these cards in person signed in gold ink and numbered on the back in black calligraphy pen. (From eBay)



1991 Donruss Elite Signature Series Ryne Sandberg /5,000


Can you imagine what it was like in 1991 to open a pack of 1991 Donruss (the ones with the blue borders) and seeing a gold card in the middle of the pack with the signature of one of the game’s premier players?  I wish I had the pleasure of having that happen to me at the time, but I wasn’t so lucky.  That said, this was the first signed card in the Elite Series set, one that I needed for my set.  My only gripe is that I wish Sandberg and Donruss agreed to use a different color pen or picture so that the loopy signature could be more visible. (From eBay)



2006 Fleer Greats of the Game Decade Greats Kirby Puckett Autograph /30


Generally speaking I try to avoid sticker autographs, but this is a case where the price was right.  Kirby Puckett autographs are not cheap.  He has a big fan base and simply put he doesn’t have many certified autographs because he died at such an early age.  While I’d always wanted a Puckett auto for my collection, this one came at a price that was about 65 percent cheaper than an identical one that was listed on eBay. (From COMC)



1949 Bowman Duke Snider (PSA 1 – BVG 3)


I had Willie.  I had Mickey.  So I needed “The Duke.”  As a collector of baseball rookie cards, there were some glaring holes in my collection and among them was this Snider and the next card … (From eBay)



1949 Bowman Roy Campanella (PSA 1 – BVG 3)


Mr. Roy Campanella.  I picked this up along with the aforementioned Snider from the same seller on eBay.  They were graded PSA 1’s, and from the images on the auction, it appeared to me they looked better than the Grade One suggested.  Granted that grading is really a subjective business, but people do put a lot of stock into the visual appearance of a card, as well as the number that a third-party grader has attached to it.  Happy to own both of these … big rookie additions.  Besides they rounded out my Dodgers Mt. Rushmore of Rookie Cards. (From eBay)



2005 Topps Chrome Refractors Andrew McCutchen /500 (Raw – BGS 9/10)


There was a time recently when I itching to own just the basic auto version of this card.  McCutchen has been one of my favorite up-and-coming players and I needed to add this to my collection to fill that void.  Well, I bought a basic auto for $40 on eBay late in 2011.  But when this one popped up on eBay (raw), I snagged it for $50.  And when I re-sold my basic auto for about the same price, I essentially upgraded my McCutchen auto rookies at no cost to me.  Also love that it came back a BGS 9. (From eBay)



1909-1911 T206 Polar Bear Walter Johnson (SGC 1 – BVG 1)


Over the last five years I’ve acquired a half dozen or so tobacco era cards.  That’s not a lot, but I did focus primarily on the big stars from that era.  Late last year I added Cy Young, but all along I’ve been missing a century-old card of The Big Train.  In February I added this Johnson to my collection.  I love this card.  (From eBay)



2011 Bowman Prospects Bryce Harper Autograph BGS 9.5/9


This card was once the holy grail of Harper cards.  OK, I realize how ridiculous that sounds since Harper is merely 20 years old and his popularity is still rising.  But still, this IS his first certified Bowman auto, which gives it iconic status in my opinion.  I boguht a TON (almost literally) of 2011 Bowman and the best thing I pulled was a Michael Pineda retail auto.  So when I had a shot sat this one on COMC, I snagged it. Nice addition without actually spending real money. (From COMC).



2010 Topps Chrome Rookie Autographs Refractor Stephen Strasburg (Raw – BGS 9/10)


This is the only card on this list that was actually pulled from a pack.  Earlier this year I was checking Toys R Us stores for discounted packs and ran across a stash of 2010 Topps Chrome baseball packs at 50 percent off.  Knowing I had a shot at Strasburg, Starlin Castro and Mike (Giancarlo) Stanton autos, I decided to take a shot.  Well, the one time I did NOT tape my pack-breaking session, this shiny gem popped out of the center of a rack pack.   It’s not his legendary 2010 Bowman auto, but it is chrome, shiny and pack-pulled.  It goes nicely with the aforementioned Harper; AND looks awesome with the aforementioned Walter Johnson, to whom Strasburg has been compared. (From a pack at Toys R Us)



2005 Bowman Chrome Refractors Matt Kemp Autograph (Raw – BGS 9/10)


I like to chase things.  Sometimes I get caught up in the hype and buy at the wrong time, other times I sit back and wait.  In this case I waited and boy did it pay off.  Back in May, everyone was talking about how Matt Kemp had finally arrived as the best player in the game.  As such, his Bowman Chrome autos were flying off eBay at crazy rates — $250+ for base autos, $500+ for refractors, and the such.  Well, Kemp got hurt and people holding Kemp autos looked for ways to recoup.  That’s where I stepped in.  I snagged this refractor in raw condition less than the price of what the base autos were going for during the height of Kemp Mania. (From eBay)



1973 Topps Mike Schmidt/Ron Cey rookie BVG 8


I’ve owned a Mike Schmidt rookie card for years.  I bought a low-grade copy for about $50 about four years ago.  I was happy.  But I was not satisfied.  I located this one on eBay with a bad title more than six months ago.  I thought the price was right for such a SOLID grade on a vintage classic rookie card. (From eBay)



1967 Topps Tom Seaver rookie card BVG 3


There are cards on my ever-growing want list that never seem like a priority.  Seaver’s rookie had been one of them.  Seaver is a Hall of Fame player who never really seems to be at the top of the hobby hierarchy.  I get it.  But I had my mind set on owning one of these cards this year and the opportunity was right.  The card was graded by BGS and was in the right price range for me.  Winning combo.  Another biggie knocked off my list (From eBay)



1992 Donruss Elite Signature Series Cal Ripken Jr. BGS 9/10 /5,000


Um, wow.  I never thought I’d own this card.  I suppose that could be applied to anything on this list, but this one is a tough one for me.  One of the reasons I never chased this card was the fact that I already owned a Ripken auto.  But I’ve come to the conclusion that not all autos are the same.  This fact is even more magnified when you’re working on a Elite Series set that simply cannot be complete without the autos.  Sandberg — the first auto in the Elite Series — was already on this Top 25 list. Ripken was several spots higher. (From eBay)



1949 Bowman Satchel Paige rookie card (SGC 1-BVG1.5)


Talk about iconic rookie cards that remained illusive to me.  I’ve tried several times to acquire a Satchel Paige rookie card.  But the deal never added up to me … maybe the price was too high, maybe the card was in too bad of a condition.  But this year, a short while after returning from The National, I found the deal that made sense to me.  This card was graded by SGC prior to it settling in my collection.  The main problem is a single pin hole. I have no issue with that, I mean look at this card.  It has great “eye appeal.” (From eBay)



1959 JCM 31C Murakami Sadaharu Oh rookie card (Raw-BVG 1.5)


FINALLY!  I’ve been waiting and waiting for the right 1959  Oh rookie to call mine.  I found mine not online, but in Baltimore!  When I learned earlier this year that I would indeed be heading to my first National Sports Collectors Convention, I had one target in mind:  Find a Sadaharu Oh rookie card.  Low and behold I found one being sold by one of the nation’s biggest Japanese card dealers and the price was significantly less than what I had been looking at on eBay.  Love the card and the fact that I bought this thing during a very special trip.  It could be the top card on this list, but there are four more cards that are better in my opinion. (From The National)



2001 SPX Albert Pujols rookie card autograph (BGS 8.5/9)


So, I’ve come to the realization that the 2001 Bowman Chrome Albert Pujols rookie auto is simply a card that I will probably never own.  It’s a beautiful card for sure, but I can’t shell out three grand for that.  So, what is the next best thing?  Well, you’re looking at it.  For the last three years I’ve been contemplating adding one of these SPX auto rookies to my collection.  I believe this is the only other on-card rookie card auto for Pujols.  He has a few sticker rookie autos, and on-card rookie-year autos.  But they are not on-card rookie cards.  Some people don’t care.  I get that.  But I do. Well, like the aforementioned Harper auto, this badboy came to me from COMC.  In a nutshell, I was able to add this card to my collection without actually spending any money … I essentially traded my low end stuff (via port sale) and used the funds to purchase one big card. Yeah, buddy! (From COMC)



1961 Topps Roger Maris autograph BVG/JSA


So, have I mentioned that I love COMC?  This is another Check Out My Cards special.  Maris died at a relatively young age and his autographs are tough to come by.  They usually cost $450+ on eBay and that’s for ones that don’t look like this.  Here we have a Maris auto signed in ballpoint pen on a 1961 Topps MVP card and it is already authenticated and slabbed by BGS/JSA. Um, thank you! (From COMC)



1992 Score Franchise Autographs Mickey Mantle/2000 BGS 7.5/10


Earlier on this list, we saw similar signed cards from Carl Yaztrsemski and Stan Musial.  The third guy featured in the iconic Franchise auto series is none other than Mickey Mantle.  Two years before Mantle put a sharpie on cardboard for Upper Deck, the Yankee legend did the same for Score signing 2,000 of these single-signed cards.  To say these were a tough pull is an understatement.  Mantle autos are not hard to obtain, but they are not cheap.  This card in particular seems to have increased in demand in recent months.  It also should be noted that the signatures on these cards tend to fade.  This one is perfect. (From eBay)



1933 Goudey Babe Ruth rookie card (SGC 1 – BVG 1)


Late in 2011, I posted my three goals for the upcoming year, and at the top of the list was obtaining a 1933 Babe Ruth “rookie card.”  True, Ruth had some cards prior to this one.  But his cards in this Goudey set, and in Sport Kings, are considered as his “rookie card.”  Well, the goal was to get one of these for my collection, and by the end of February, that goal was obtained.  It was the earliest card on this list that I acquired in 2012, and through all of the additions, it remained at the top card of the year. (From eBay)


Which of these 25 would you say is the best?

Latest BGS order received; Babe Ruth rookie has come home

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 5, 2012 by Cardboard Icons

I took advantage of the April grading special offered by Beckett Grading Services, which allowed for 20-day service at $7 per vintage card.  I sent seven cards that needed to be slabbed in BGS cases for my collection.

A few of these were previously slabbed by other companies, but I just wanted them in BGS cases, which are my favorite.  Along the way, I got a few grade bumps (Cy Young), and some nice returns on some raw cards (Ron Santo and Hoyt Wilhelm).

But the grand daddy of them all is the 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth, which previously was encapsulated by SGC.  No grade bump there, but it was nice to re-assure me that it was authentic.  It might be considered “poor” but it looks a hell of a lot better than a lot of 1s I’ve seen.  The issue?  Some paper loss on the back bottom corners and a tiny pinhole on the left border.

1965 Topps Steve Carlton rookie card BVG 3

1957 Topps Bill Mazeroski rookie card BVG 5

1961 Topps Ron Santo rookie card BVG 6

1909-1911 T206 Polar Bear Walter Johnson BVG 1

1909-1911 T206 Piedmont Cy Young BVG 2.5

1952 Topps Hoyt Wilhelm rookie card BVG 3

1933 Goudey Babe Ruth rookie card BVG1