Archive for baseball cards

The most annoying question in our hobby: How much is this card worth?

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , on August 17, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Raise your hand if your seen this before:

Guy buys into a break or opens a box of cards. Hits something they know is desirable. Then … they hit social media with some variation of the following:

“I just got this badboy. Anyone know how much it’s worth?”

It happens all day, every day, and with more frequency as folks blindly buy into breaks just hoping to pull the next winning lottery ticket. And as such, when someone hits a big card, their immediate thought isn’t that it’s a good addition to their collection. The question is, how much can I sell it for?!

I understand that the current state of our hobby has an emphasis on ripping and flipping, but it’s complete nonsense to see time and time again the question about how much a card will fetch on the secondary market. I seriously question how many collectors there are compared to the number of enthusiasts who are just here playing the shell game, constantly looking to move one big hit for another chance at hobby greatness, ultimately finding themselves on the short end of the stick because nothing will smooth that itch.

Additionally, anyone who is currently in the hobby knows they can find the value of their card, or get a fairly reasonable idea, by going straight to eBay and checking for themselves. The only reason you’re really asking the question on social media is because you’re looking to show off your card. And that’s OK.

So next time you feel the need to ask “How much is this sick hit worth?” first ask yourself why you’re posting that question when it can be answered fairly easily on your own. If you want people to know you pulled the card, don’t pussyfoot around it. Just show the damn thing off.

Collecting in 2019 summed up in one photo

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

I saw an interesting Tweet yesterday from SGC Grading, which is often thought of as the third-in-line grading company behind PSA and Beckett.

The company account (@sgcgrading) posted the following image:

Does this image not pretty much represent our hobby in 2019?

Love him or hate him, Gary Vee (Gary V, Gary Vaynerchuk, etc.) has absolutely made a splash in our hobby this year and he parlayed his Internet celeb status into a hobby influencer who has proclaimed that sports cards are a great investment. And his social media pull has led him to be featured not only on his own 2019 Topps Allen & Ginter Card, but also a Topps Series 2 insert set bearing his name, and a full-blown special set produced by Topps.

Among the things he has touted in recent months has been SGC Grading, which with his endorsement and the scandals around grading involving PSA and BGS has made somewhat of a resurgence among collectors.

SGC has always had great-looking cases, but let’s not fool ourselves, this company has not had the support of the modern hobbyists. Vintage collectors know-well how underrated SGC has been, but most collectors before the grading scandal and even now, would prefer to send their cards to PSA or Beckett. It’ll be interesting to see if the word of Gary, coupled with the scandal and a rebranded logo, will elevate the hobby status of Sportscard Guaranty.

Personally, I like SGC for vintage — that black inlay is gorgeous — but for MY collection I’m still a BGS guy because I like the uniformity, I’ve been grading with BGS since 1998. That said, I’ve not submitted a card for grading for my personal collection in almost two years.

Thrift Treasures 118: Hobby time capsule for $9.99

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , on August 15, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Few things bring me as much joy as finding discarded hobby gems at the thrift store for less than the price of a handful of modern packs.

It’s easy to get sucked into paying $3, $4, or $5 for a pack of cards at retail hoping to pull something that makes you feel like a hobby winner. And we all know that the agony of defeat happens much more than any sort of victory. So when we can find items that make us smile — even if some portion of the hobby doesn’t get it — it’s really a priceless experience.

Such was the case Wednesday when I stopped at a local Goodwill before dropping off two packages at the post office. It’s been a while since I’d found cards at thrift stores, so imagine the joy I felt when I found a two-row shoebox that showed some promise … and for only $9.99.

True, 75% of this box had what was obviously 1989 Donruss. But that stack of cards in Card Savers II held so much promise. I wasn’t expecting the world, but cards stored in semi-rigids can be gold hiding in plain sight.

I looked all around the store hoping to find more boxes but there were none. The box was priced some five days earlier so odds are someone beat me to the punch for others.

Nonetheless, this box was mine and as it turned out, the box wound up being a hobby time capsule for one of the most exciting times in our hobby, 1990-1992.

The mention of those years will turn people away, thinking it’s just junk wax era. Hell, after I posted a picture of the wrapped box, one Twitter follower said he wouldn’t even risk the purchase unless there were relics inside.

Insert facepalm emoji here …

I digress. I ripped open the cellophane, grabbed a handful of Card Savers IIs and almost immediately found an absolute masterpiece of our hobby, the 1991 Elite Series Jose Canseco, serial numbered to just 10,000 copies.

The Canseco isn’t rare by today’s standards. But in 1991 trying to pull any Elite Series insert was literally like trying to find a needle in a haystack — they were legitimately like 1:10 cases. In their hay day the cards were selling for several hundred dollars; today the Canseco is still a $30-$50 card on occasion, and even more of graded well.

The Canseco would prove to be the pinnacle of this box in terms of current monetary re-sell value, but there was so much good stuff in here.

This image here is basically a summary of collecting from 1990-1992:

You’ve got the Canseco Elite, the awesome and tough-pulls in the Pinnacle “Team Pinnacle”, the 1990 Upper Deck Ben McDonald error card, the 1991 Upper Deck “Baseball Heroes” Nolan Ryan Header Card, the 1990 Score Bo Jackson baseball/football card and the 1990 Score Rookie/Traded Eric Lindros.

The McDonald is actually a neat card I’d never owned. He was a top rookie that year and his basic UD rookie card had the “Rookie” logo. But in early batches of UD, there were a bunch of errors, including the McDonald rookie showing the Orioles logo. it’s still a $10-$20 card in today’s market.

Speaking of errors, there were also these other tough (for the time) 1990 UD screwups:

Jeff Innis and Scott Garrelts cards show wrong player photos on front; the Team checklist and Jamie Weston cards have him listed as Jamie instead of Mickey Weston, and the Nolan Ryan is the banner variation. Errors and variations were a big deal at the time … and some of the younger collectors don’t understand how difficult it was tracking them down at the time.

In addition to the errors and inserts, there were some big rookies in here too. And while it’s not 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. or 1990 Leaf Frank Thomas big, we’re talking some stuff that had considerable hobby weight at a time in the not so distant past … and they all look like they’ve been in these Card Savers for nearly three decades.

And there was a fair amount of hobby stars, including a very nice 1972 Topps Joe Morgan.

In terms of today’s hobby “worth” these cards wouldn’t fetch a ton at eBay or at any show. But for a guy who cut his teeth in this hobby during this era, to basically locate a rookie collectors collection from the era, and to nail down some highly desirable errors and tough insert pulls, especially the Canseco Elite Series, is absolutely priceless. I know I’ve said it before, but this was truly a time capsule, and frankly better than most massive collections that some people are still hoarding in their basements.

Oh, and the 1989 Donruss? As I suspected there was no Griffey. But the sight of these brought back the memory of a hot summer in which I walked 40 minutes to Thrifty’s to buy cello packs of the product.

Total cost of this Thrift Treasure: $9.99

You can seen more Thrift Treasures posts here

Kershaw’s zipper gets “fixed” for Topps Chrome

Posted in Collecting Kershaw, Misc. with tags , , , , on August 14, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I was tooling around COMC late lastnight looking for new cards to add to my collection when a 2019 Topps Chrome Clayton Kershaw base card popped up.

I knew I needed one for my collection so I clicked on the card. And immediately I could see something looked off.

It’s the zipper!

I have like 12 versions of the base Topps card and upon release I pointed out that Kershaw’s fly was down in the card image, just as it was on the original photo taken on Opening Dy 2018. It looks like Topps fixed the whole crotch region on Kershaw for the Chrome release.

He finally said yes to the Mays… and Mantle … and Hank

Posted in Dad Life, Misc. with tags , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I was sitting at my desk sorting cards and labeling items yesterday when I came across a four 1969 Topps checklists featuring Mickey Mantle.

I grabbed these at a card shop a few years back and they’ve just been sitting around. They are well-love cards, most of the check boxes on the checklist marked. I pulled one out and asked my son: “Hey, you don’t have a Mickey Mantle in your Collection do you?”

Of course the boy responds that he does not.

“Well, would you like one?” I ask.

He smiles and says, “sure!”

I explained what the card is, and then asked about the 1963 Topps Willie Mays I had offered him in the last. This time he agreed to add it to his collection.

But before I handed them to him, I told him I had one more thing to find for him. I figured I had to round this collecting moment with the other major cardboard icon from that generation — Hank Aaron.

So I found the extra 1974 Topps Hank Aaron #1 I had and set it aside as well. We had discussed Hank earlier this week in context of Barry Bonds while we were at the Phillies-Giants game on Thursday night.

Funny thing happened though. As soon as I located the Aaron, I found a 1969 Topps Carl Yastrzemski behind it. That card also felt like it needed to be in my kid’s collection since we talked about him at the game while watching grandson Mike Yastrzemski round the bases after a homer.

These are the father-son collector moments I absolutely love. I’m sure these won’t be the last legends to head his way.

“I put them in my pocket …” (National Baseball Card Day 2019)

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , on August 10, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

National Baseball Card Day is One of the best days of year when it comes to our beloved hobby.

This year I gathered up my two kids and headed to the card shop. And moments later my sister showed up with her kids, including her son who has gotten into baseball cards thanks in part to my son and I.

We went to South Bay Sports Cards in Sunnyvale, Calif. and while there I ran into one of my Twitter followers who recognized me from pictures I had posted of my kids. (Nick, we should have taken a group photo.)

We made a few small purchases and the kids got a few free packs and the Special Bryce Harper Card.

The purchased packs yielded nothing of real interest. Chrome had a “short” printed Eloy Jimenez.

And so had hoped to personally pull my first Mike Oz Card from a Ginter pack, both of my packs turned out to be less than spectacular.

But, that’s not really what the day was about. It was about the cards that Topps and South Bay Sports Cards put into the hands of the kids

The highlights of my son’s packs included Ronald Acuna, Javier Baez and Justin Verlander.

And my daughter’s packs yielded two of MY PC guys in a single pack and Pete Alonso.

My packs were highlighted by Mike Trout and Matt Chapman, also guys whom I have put aside for my son.

The family posed for a photo in front of the store before we set off on our separate ways.

Then after the photo I asked my daughter where she put her cards since I did not see them in her hand.

Her answer: “I put them in my pocket…”

I shook my head, told her to show me and then took a photo before telling her to take them out. The cards are hers, and I LOVED that she put them in her pocket since most of us have done the same at some point during our collecting careers. But I advised her to take them out and put them in her binder later, which she agreed was a better course of action.

I may not be able to take the kids back next week for the Vlad Guerrero Jr special card, but I’ll find someone to take the kids for me. I love these promotions, it’s especially fun for the kids now that they also collect.

That moment when your friend gets his own baseball card in Allen & Ginter

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , on August 9, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

There’s been no shortage of complaining about this year’s Topps Allen & Ginter non-baseball checklist, and sadly one of the figures who had drawn the ire of collectors early on was Yahoo Sports’ Mike Oz, touted on the back of his card #157 as “Baseball Card Video Host.”

The complaining is something that happens every year. Let’s face it: 2006 may have had the greatest non-baseball checklist that Allen & Ginter will ever have The bar was set so high that it was impossible for Topps to match the product year after year.

And so with each year Topps looks to diversify the checklist, and each year that checklist is subjected to scrutiny, fair or not, and the persons who the company selected to appear on official cards draw the ire of hobbyists, many of which who truly believe THEY deserve a spot on a baseball card instead of the subject they can actually find in their packs.

I’m not going to act like I’m above this. I’ve complained about checklists in the past, and have done my fair share of questioning who some of the folks are. But this year has been a bit different.

Mike Oz, the guy who appears on card 157 of the 2019 Allen & Ginter set, is more than just the guy on another card in my collection. That’s the guy who befriended me when we both wound up at the college newspaper together in 2000. That’s the guy who helped me get internships and acted as a peer and mentor. That’s the guy who has been a friend to me for almost two decades and is one of the most liked people I’ve known in my life.

Additionally, that’s also the guy who has done a lot in recent years to bring more attention to this hobby through his work with Yahoo by putting baseball cards in the hands of current and former players and having them tell stories — something that he has been doing before multiple other people started to copy or adapt versions of the format.

But what’s also important to know is that Mike is not just a dude off the street who decided to open cards with players — something that many folks think they also could do given the opportunity. Mike is an accomplished media man — he was a nationally-recognized collegiate sports journalist and a contributor to a major hip-hop magazine and a radio DJ while in college. After school he worked as a professional journalist at a major newspaper in central California covering local happenings, sports and the music scene. He then parlayed that into a dream job covering Major League Baseball for Yahoo, which has evolved to now include the “Old Baseball Cards” series which as gained him notoriety with a whole new audience, which includes the folks at Topps who reached out to him to include him in the 2019 Allen & Ginter set.

I realize that my personal connection to him leaves me in a space where I would not criticize his inclusion on this year’s set. But it is this connection that also puts me in a unique position to share with the hobby who this guy is. So while others are also deserving of being in such a set — which every year by design has more than a dozen non-players on the checklist so I’m sure we’ll see more debate next year — Mike’s inclusion this year doesn’t shock me one bit, and it absolutely gives me a reason to purchase Ginter, as it’s a product that over the years has drawn less interest from me.

The set isn’t for everyone, including myself. It’s not a traditional baseball card release. It wasn’t when the line started in 1887, and it wasn’t when Topps adopted the brand and rebooted it in 2006. And if you expected Topps to change the formula for this year, or for other releases going forward, you’re going to drive yourself crazy fighting a battle not worth fighting. It’s best to embrace the checklist as it is presented each year, or just dismiss the product all together and just wait for the next release, which as history has shown us, is just a few days away anyway.