Archive for baseball

Blaster Break: 2017 Topps Allen & Ginter

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Misc. with tags , , , , , , , on July 20, 2017 by Cardboard Icons

There was a time when the brand name “Allen & Ginter” set off all sorts emotions for me as a card collector. I would get caught up in the craze that seemingly came with the set.


What major non-sport stars would have signatures in the set? What weird relics would Topps include this year? Would there be a Ginter Code, or any other secrets such as the time Topps embedded unannounced 1/1 parallels within the panels of some hobby boxes?

I’d buy one or two hobby boxes, and then do damage at buy ripping blaster after blaster.

But those are emotions and actions of yesteryear. For me, the appeal of Ginter has waned. I no longer feel the need to hit the Local Card Shop on release day, or do an online break, or even hit retail stores with a fervor. Instead it’s become a product that I open every year in lesser quantities, partially because I feel the quality and bang for the buck has diminished, but also because my interests as a collector have changed.

I know some have argued that the product has jumped the shark and call for its dismissal. I’m not one of them. I’m just saying that I personally consume less Ginter each year.

That said, here I am with a blaster and “fat pack” of this year’s version in my hands and I am going to break it here, show a few, and share some opinions. It’s a bit of an old school ‘Icons act for a pseudo retro product.

I’m not going to do a product break down, link you to checklists and try to act like I am the greatest source of your information. I’ll spare you the bullshit. I bought a random blaster and a fat pack that had my favorite player (Roger Clemens) clearly visible through the front of the wrapper. These are my results; your’s will vary.

The Fat Pack:

Yes, I looked at the front of the packs to see what players were visible. No there was no Aaron Judge otherwise I would be showing that here.  Instead I saw one with my boy Clemens on top and decided to rip it. I don’t care if you consider that unethical. Really. I don’t.


From the moment I opened the pack I could see the middle was a bit different. I had two minis in this pack (which I think is typical for the Fat Packs) and I could see a wood grain border, which turned out to be a 1987 Topps Tom Brookens (silver stamp) buy back. At least this card was mint. I did pull an ’87 buy pack from a Topps Series One pack that was creased across the middle. Go figure.

Anyway, I’m glad I locked down the Clemens base card for my collection; an SP of Seung-Hwan Oh, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a Mini SP of Willie Stargell, and a Required Reading mini that are seeded 1:30 Fat Packs.

The Blaster:

There are eight packs as usual in the blaster and when I opened the first one, there was clearly a framed hit inside. This has been one of the joys of this product over the years.  It’s also been fun to see the shiny frame of a mini hit in the middle of a desert of white base cards. 


As my luck had it, the first single pack of the year held a Framed Mini Relic of Rockies star Nolan Arenado, which to my surprise is a tough pull considering the framed mini relics are seeded 1:733 packs, almost four times HARDER than a framed mini autograph. It’s an interesting ploy by Topps to make these mini relics appealing to some collectors by making them more scarce.  But let’s face it … unless you’re a master set collector, or in dire need of a framed mini relic of Arenado, it’s not paying the bills, not even for this one blaster.


In the third pack I hit an Aaron Judge rookie card, which could be one of the most boring looking rookie cards of the game’s hottest player. But, it is what it is — read: in demand and not something at which to scoff.


In Pack Five I got a rookie card of Mitch Haniger the Mariners’ prospect who hails from my home town.


In Pack Six I got a base card of Clayton Kershaw — the only active player I actually collect — and another one of those Required Reading minis, which are seeded 1:50 regular packs.


And Pack Eight held perhaps one of the coolest Ginter cards to date, that of my friend — and that of like 8 million others — Tom Anderson, co-founder of MySpace. I literally laughed out loud when I saw the photo chose for this card. So so good. It deserves a thumbs up, honestly.


Final Thoughts:

Even though I’d heard some people say this year’s design wasn’t good, I actually disagree. It feels like the base cards are spin on Transcendent, which if was by design, is smart because it plays on the subconcious of those seeking high-end stuff. The brand itself needed something new, and I think this portrait frame design look does it.


I actually dig the fish and fishing lure set — because I like fishing and this is somewhat of a proper homage to the early Ginter sets. And while I applaud Topps for including a slew of other random inserts celebrating animals and events of the world, it all just gets lost in the shuffle for me. Like I said, my personal tastes have changed.

Oh, and I still dig the minis. The design actually looks really good in the minis.


Would I buy more? Probably. But as has been the case in recent years, it’ll be less. I’ll likely steer entirely clear of hobby boxes — if for no other reason it’s already crazy expensive.

 

Another year gone: Cardboard Icons is now 9

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , , , on July 7, 2017 by Cardboard Icons

IconsThe times have certainly changed in the hobby and they’re always changing in my world. In fact, the anniversary of this blog came and went earlier this week and I didn’t recognize it publicly. In case you glossed over the headline, Cardboard Icons is now 9 years old.

My views on the sports collectibles world have varied quite a bit in recent years. I’ve become bitter at times with the industry; yet still love the hobby. I can’t stand the buying methods of the modern collector; yet still partake in the same activity from time to time. In short — I need to hit the reset button before I feel I can offer something of value to the readers who still check in every now and again.

The one aspect of blogging or providing commentary is this incessant need to give an opinion on everything. And it needs to be immediate. And in some cases it needs to be an extreme opinion otherwise you get lost in the shuffle.  You know exactly what I’m talking about.

Anyhow, the memories that this blog have afforded me over the years are not all negative, and I try to remind myself of the positives that I have gained from starting this little blog on July 3, 2008. I’ve met some great people, made some fantastic trades, documented some big additions to my collection, and have enjoyed some incredible experiences, such as the one shown in the photo above.

Of all things that the Cardboard Icons site and persona have afforded me, the events that led to me meeting the late Earl Weaver to briefly reunite him and his game-used jersey are among my finest hobby recollections.  You can read all about it here.

I’ll wrap this piece up with a familiar message: I’m still around. I still have opinions. I still collect. But life has changed and I no longer have the time to devote to blogging as frequently as I want. So … I’ll do it when I can.

Thanks for reading.

Ben Aguirre.

-Cardboard Icons.

You can always reach me immediately via Twitter (@cardboardicons) and on Instagram.

In Memoriam: Jim Bunning (Oct. 23, 1931 – May 27, 2017)

Posted in In Memoriam, Misc. with tags , , , , on May 28, 2017 by Cardboard Icons

Thrift Treasures 111: Best Wishes … who?!

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , on February 20, 2017 by Cardboard Icons

As far as thrifting goes, Sunday nights are probably the worst time to head out and look for collectibles. Why? Well, basically most of the good stuff has already been snapped up by the “weekend warriors” who get after it every weekend at the crack of dawn and keep going all weekend.

Nonetheless I decided to make a stop Sunday after work and headed to a thrift store that’s out of the way a bit. It was worth the trip.

Due to the day and time, I figured the best place to start might be the books section as I might luck my way into another book signed by a president.  I checked book after book but found nothing. 

I then headed to the “collectibles” counter and saw a signed baseball sitting in a Ultra Pro ball cube. It read “Best Wishes … Willie Mays.”

Yeah, the Willie Mays.


Now, unless you were an active collector of autographs or have experience viewing Willie Mays’ signature you’d have no idea what name is scribbled on this ball.

Luckily no one who’d laid eyes on the ball was able to make out the Baseball Legends’ autograph.

From a distance I couldn’t immediately tell if it was a pre-printed ball.  When the clerk handed it to me I could see right away that it was indeed some sort of black marker pen on a Wilson Dura-Lon cover “Official League” baseball.

The price tag said $19.99 and the clerk immediately told me that it was not part of the half-off sale. 

Well, that’s good because I suspect someone would’ve taken a chance at $9.99, but would pause at $19.99.

Me? No delay.  I’ll take it.

When I got to the counter to pay the clerk asked if I had any coupons.  As it turned out I had a 30% off coupon for donating a few boxes of base cards. Perfect timing.

And so for $13.99 I walked out the door with a baseball signed by one of the finest players to ever play the game.

Now, this isn’t the ideal signed ball. We’d all agree that we’d like a   non-greeting blue ink signature on the sweet spot of a Rawlings Major League Baseball or Rawlings National League Official Ball. And of course we’d like some sort of certification to ensure authenticity. But c’mon, we’re dealing with a thrift treasure. You take what you find.

So, is it real?  I think so. I’ve seen enough Willie Mays signatures — on balls and flats — from the early to mid 1990s that made me lean toward the affirmative.

And later I did a quick search on eBay for Willie Mays balls signed with “Best Wishes.” Here are two comparisons.

It looks pretty spot-on in my opinion.


Total cost of this Thrift Treasure: $13.99.

You can see more Thrift Treasures posts Here.

Elite Status: Iconic 1991-1996 Donruss insert sets complete with autos

Posted in Completed Sets with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2017 by Cardboard Icons

EliteLogo It’s been three decades since I opened my first pack of baseball cards. And less than five years into my hobby career, cards went from being just cards to being chase-worthy investments — at least that’s what we the collectors were being sold.

At the front of this movement was the almighty Elite Series insert set, which started in 1991 as one of the hobby’s most iconic chase sets to date.

Imagine if you will opening dozens, hundreds or even thousands of packs and see nothing but blue and green borders and then … bam, a bronze foil border card with a marble-like design embedded within and a serial number on back.

By today’s standards, Elite cards wouldn’t be much to gloat about, but in 1991, it was something most would only dream of.

My dream of pulling an Elite Series card actually came true in 1993 when I fished an Eddie Murray out of a pack at Target. As I’ve told people before, the story goes that I was opening a pack while my mom was paying for it and other stuff.  When I saw the shiny foil, I dropped an f-bomb that made everyone from my mother to the people in line to the cashier stop what they were doing and look my way. Hey, I was 13.

Anyhow, i eventually made it a goal to complete the first three Elite Series (1991, 1992 and 1993) sets including the autographs — a feat that was accomplished a few years ago and documented in one of my Beckett Baseball columns.

I’ve since moved on to the next three years. And while the passion to finish it came and went over time, I got the itch recently to put those next three sets to rest and with a little help from Tanner at CansecoCollector.com I was able to get the elusive 1995 Elite Series Jose Canseco that I couldn’t find.

And so, here is a visual look at the first six years of Elite Series Insert cards. You’ll notice that the dynamic of the set has changed over time. It started as an 8-card set with one legend and one autograph. Then next two years the base Elite set grew and continued to include a legend and autograph.  By 1994, the Elite Series set was scaled back to just 12 basic Elite cards — no more autographs or legends. Nonetheless, they were still special.

1991 Elite Series (base Elite’s /10,000; Legends Series /7,500; Signature Series /5,000)

1992 Elite Series (Base Elites /10,000; Legends /7,500; Signature Series /5,000)

1993 Elite Series (Base Elites /10,000; Legends Series /10,000; Signature Series /5,000)


1994 Elite Series (all /10,000)

1995 Elite Series (all /10,000)

1996 Elite Series (all /10,000)

Now that those sets are done, I’ll get to working eventually on 1997 and 1998, but I’m also turning my eyes to a few other insert sets from my youth that always intrigued me:

1992 Pinnacle – Team Pinnacle

1994 Score Cycle

1994 SP Holoview

1994 Flair Hot Glove

1996 Pacific Flame Throwers

 

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.