Archive for baseball

Cousin wanted out of the hobby so I acquired his collection

Posted in Memory Lane with tags , , , , , on February 11, 2022 by Cardboard Icons

This is a bittersweet post to write but I feel I should document it properly and not just in a series of Tweets.

My cousin and I are five years apart in age. We really came into eachother’s consciousness when I was about 10 years old. He’d always been around but he was living with our grandfather (Lolo) whom I didn’t spend much time with at my age. But around 1990/1991 our lives intersected more.

Our family dynamic was changing. My mom and dad had split and as a result I wound up spending more time at Lolo’s house and with my cousin, JR. I wasn’t sure on what level we would connect given the age gap, but we happened to bond over trading cards and wrestling.

One of the first card adventures I had with JR involved us walking alone — which in hindsight is batshit crazy considering he was 5! — to the nearest 7-Eleven where they had packs of 1990-91 Hoops and Skybox for sale. We bought some snacks and packs and we were off to the races.

I didn’t know how large a part of my life trading cards would be. I didn’t know that my “hobby” would basically consume me. I struggle with this notion even at the age of 41 — I swear there is a bit of guilt for being an adult who loves something folks still associate with something kids do, but I know I shouldnt feel bad for loving what I do.

I digress. My cousin — whether he actually enjoyed it or not I still am not entirely sure— came along with me on this journey. We ripped, ripped and ripped some more. We played poker for cards; we swapped our favorite players. Our grandfather would often take us to the card shop (Brian’s Books) and the arcade (Keystone) and give us a $20 to split. We’d spend some on cards, some on video games. And every now and again we’d even have a few bucks left over for the Ice Cream truck which always — ALWAYS! — had those WWF Ice Cream Bars that also contained a card on the package.

By the mid 1990s the hobby became central to our relationship. We’d pick him up from his house on a Friday night and he’d stay with me at my mom’s house all weekend. We’d sort cards, play cards, wrestle — I’m still sorry for the black eye you got when I whipped you into the “turnbuckle” that was the corner of the bed — and when things were really good, we’d stay up late at night watching “Shop At Home” as Don West and Eddie Lewis sold trading cards to the world.

By the late 1990s, I was changing and I didn’t know how to deal with it. I started dating a person — who’d eventually become my wife, the mother of my children, and then my ex-wife — and suddenly hanging out with my younger cousin was no longer a priority. Don’t get me wrong, we still got along great and we did card stuff. Hell, years 1998 and 1999 were awesome after I got my driver’s license. My cousin and I would often drive out to the 24-hour Walmart at 10 pm in search of the latest retail product. Remember, I was 18/19 at the time and he was 13/14 – I’m pretty sure his mom thought we were up to no good, but really it was just cards.

As I entered college we grew apart a bit mostly because our interests had changed and we were in different stages of our lives. He was entering high school and was doing his thing, and I was on my way to earning a degree. Needless to say the overnights ceased, as did much of our bonding time.

I kept collecting, and he kept most of his stuff and I’d later find out he bought quite a bit for himself once he was able to get his own eBay account. But again, our collecting ways we’re going different paths. Cards have been my life; and cards were merely a part of his.

Over the years our conversations would revolve more around real life than the hobby, but every now and again I’d inquire about his collection. And then seemingly out of nowhere he reached out to me about a year ago asking if I could help him sell his collection — the time had come to move on for good.

He hadn’t really collected cards for more than 15 years, but he knew the hobby saw an upswing again. Also, life dictated a situation where he needed to make some space. So he turned to me for the assist.

I immediately helped by taking possession of everything he could immediate find, but he knew there were a few pieces he couldn’t locate, including his 1996-97 SP Kobe Bryant rookie. Nonetheless I said I’d go through it and figure things out for him.

Over the last eight months or so his collection sat relatively stagnant in my closet as my own life has seen many changes over the last year and my desire to go through his stuff whilst thinning out my own collection just wasn’t there. But yesterday I grabbed one of his boxes, took another look and spoke to him again. I Confirmed he wanted to move everything as a whole and we came to an agreement for me to acquire the lot.

An outsider looking at the collection would likely latch onto the 1986-87 Fleer Charles Barkley Rookie PSA 6 as the key item, or even the Charles Woodson 1998 SP Authentic rookie card. But for me, the prize of this acquisition is a 1998 Ultra Randy Moss rookie card.

In 1998 rookie cards were hotter than they had been in years for two reasons: They were often short printed then, seeded at 1:4 packs; Also the 1998 NFL Draft Class was amazing. I pulled the Peyton Manning from Ultra that year; my cousin pulled this Moss and that card was always the object of my affection. True I owned better Moss cards, but the Ultra one was always a card I had my eyes on. And even though I was five years older than my cousin I never took advantage of him in any deals — I always encouraged him to keep the good things he pulled.

Needless to say the Moss is one card from this collection that will be staying with me and remain in the family. There are many cards in this collection, a few hundred of which I think I will send to COMC and a few thousand that I will need to move onto other collectors to enjoy.

There are a few dozen more cards that I’ll be holding onto from JR’s collection as his hobby journey comes to an end and he moves into bigger things. But perhaps I’ll show some cards here from time to time to keep open that chapter of my — our — hobby history. Love you.

1989 earthquake commemorated on card, encapsulated and now in my collection

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , on February 8, 2022 by Cardboard Icons

A funny thing happened last week. I was sitting at my kitchen table sipping my decaf coffee and out of nowhere I decided to check eBay for graded copies of some junk wax era cards. I wasn;t looking for stuff I normally collect like rookie cards. Instead I was looking for a handful of special cards that were released around the time I was 10 and 11 years old.

The very first card I looked up was the 1990 Score card 701, better known as the “Lights Out: Candlestick” card commemorating the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake here in the San Francisco Bay Area that disrupted the World Series between the local teams Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants. I’ve told my earthquake story here before. I wasn’t at the game, but I sure as hell remember every detail of that evening. And when this card was released the following year I found myself in awe. And truth be told, when I see copies of this card I tend to buy just for the hell of it since I’m not sure a lot of folks appreciate it. On a side note, I’m not 100% sure of this, but I’m betting Score made this card 701 because … the earthquake was a 7.1 on the Richter Scale.

Anyhow, as I looked, I located a copy of the card graded Mint 9 by BGS. I gasped, checked the pop report — I knew there couldn’t have been many slabbed — and then bought the card. This copy was graded in 2013 and is one of only five total cards submitted to BGS, and the only one that received the Mint grade. There is a single Gem Mint copy in existence, but I don’t need that one, this one does me just fine. And to make things even better, my purchase cost was less than what the grading service actually charges these days, which always feels like a win.

I own multiple raw copies of this card, including one my son pulled from a box we opened last year, but as I get older I tend to find myself looking for slabbed copies of certain cards that evoke memories. The kicker for me with slabbed copies is they just present so differently than those sitting in binder pages, all of which are beautiful in their own way. Owning slabs is not a necessary part of collecting these days, but it is something that brings me joy.

Collecting Carney: I waited a year, what’s an extra week or so?

Posted in Collecting Carney with tags , , , , , on February 6, 2022 by Cardboard Icons

Way back in December 2020, Sporting News reporter Ryan Fagan was opening some packs for Twitter — a practice that had been around for a while but picked up popularity during the Pandemic — and unearthed from his 1984 Donruss Action All Stars pack a card of Carney Lansford.

Lansford is a local guy for me, and is someone I’d turned some collecting focus to in recent years. When Ryan pulled the card I reached out to him and had two requests: I wanted the card he pulled and I wanted Fagan to sign the reverse with the date that he pulled it.

Ryan returned my message, and seemed somewhat shocked by my request:

“For real(?) If you want me to do that, I’d be happy to,” he said.

I offered to pay, but Ryan said it wasn’t necessary. I thanked him and provided my address.

A few days after the pull, he tweeted that he had taken a Hal McRae from the same set into the local card shop and jokingly asked if the owner wanted to buy it. Ryan obviously was kidding; he had in fact merely taken it there to buy a top loader for MY Lansford.

And so I waited.

About a month later nothing had arrived and I was concerned that it had gotten lost. So I sent Ryan a message asking if the card was ever sent and he apologized as something had come up. No big deal, I replied.

I waited. And waited. And then waited some more.

After about two months I just assumed the Lansford was never coming. And I was not about to message him again asking where the card was. That’s not really my style. Afterall, this was a gift that wasn’t costing me nothing.

And then out of the blue, almost a year to the date after our previous message, Ryan messages me apologizing for the delay and said it was going out soon. A day later he sent me a tracking number — it was set to arrive January 25, just three days later.

I thanked him and was super appreciative the card was still heading my way so the anticipation built.

And then … nothing. The 25th came and the Lansford didn’t show up. Another week passed and nothing. So I decided to check the tracking and it was showing “In Transit” with no updates for more than a week.

And then, seemingly out of the blue, a photo mailer arrived with a rigid Top Loader inside. I knew exactly what it was. The Lansford had in fact arrived, and just in time for Carney’s 65th birthday which is today!

“Ha. OF COURSE it got stuck. What’s another week in the postal system after it took me more than a year to mail it.” Ryan said when I advised him of the delayed arrival.

And so here is the Carney in all it’s glory. Gotta love that bright yellow pull-over Oakland Athletics jersey on the front; a close-up of those round-frame “Coke Bottle” glasses and sweet ‘stache on the rear. And there, at the very bottom, just as I requested, the signature of reporter Ryan Fagan along with a pull-date inscription of “12.15.20” and “#RFPOD.”

Here’s my public thank you to Ryan for the card, and I’ll take this opportunity to say “Happy Birthday” to Carney who took our league to the Little League World Series in 1969.

If you’re not following Ryan on Twitter you can catch him on one of his two accounts: @ryanfagan for his professional and @myjunkwax for his card-related tweets,

And if you’ve got a stash of Carney Lansford cards that need a new home, I’m your guy. I’ve got almost all the base ones but will happily take what you’ve got and probably end up re-gifting them to the kids in our Little League.

Walgreens repacks will likely run hit and cold – I happened to catch a heater

Posted in Box / Pack Break with tags , , , , , , , on February 6, 2022 by Cardboard Icons

As I’m sure you’re aware by now, Walgreens sells sports cards. It’s something they’ve been doing for a few years, and over the last 18 months it’s become a place to potentially find hit product.

Sometimes they have rack packs, cellos and hangers, other times it’s mega boxes and blasters. But the constant has always been some sort of repack product that offers a sealed pack and a stack of various cards often not worth much.

Well, the chase for such repacks often gets rekindled when someone shares on social media some amazing card they pulled. Sometimes it’s unbelievable and leads to a slew of memes or silly posts, but all it takes is one such post to spark the next mad dash to the retailer.

A year ago it was someone finding a 2011 Topps Update Mike Trout rookie in a $5.99 repack; and just a few months ago it was folks finding good sealed packs in their baseball “Mystery Boxes.” And in recent weeks attention had turned to football repacks as modern packs of Football had made their way into football repack boxes.

Not all of these repacks are a winner. You pay $5.99 and take a chance. Sometimes you hit the Select pack, and other times you end up with a junk wax era turd product that probably cost about a quarter per pack. But, that chase is what piques the curiosity and causes us to spend.

I have a theory about the repacks. I think majority of them such value wise but they can be fun. But my theory is that the ones containing good packs are released in bunches that are distributed together. So, if you open one repack and see it has a Select pack, then you should buy the rest. However? If your repack doesn’t then you should leave them alone.

I have no proof, but my thought is this: If you’ve got a room of folks making the repacks, one or two people will be packing out the good products while everyone else is packing out more common stuff. And they’re not mixing up the batches when they send them out. So they stay clumped together until it gets to a region and then it’s broken down for various stores in that area. This would explain why folks in the sticks of Wyoming keeps running into Select while people in a populated area of Georgia may be pulling some 1991 Notre Dame college packs.

Anyway, this latest craze led me into two Walgreens lastnight in the way home from work. It was a low risk, high reward situation for a guy with a card habit. The first store had nothing worth buying; the second store had three baseball “Mystery Boxes” sitting on a peg hook inside a secured case.

My son and I opened a dozen of these around Christmas time and mostly saw nonsense. We did have one or two repacks that contained a 2018 Topps Series Two pack, the chase there of course being Ohtani rookies and the Super Short Print “Bat Down” Ronald Acuna Jr. Most of them contained multiple packs of 2019 Topps Series One and one retail Heritage pack. My son did pull a base Ohtani rookie from his sole Series Two pack about two months ago, but for the most part our experience was akin to scratching an itch with a Kleenex.

So when I saw this batch of three lastnight in a locked case I almost walked away. I didn’t really feel like finding an employee to open the case and then wait in line. In the end I decided to take a shot and bought the things.

As the headline here suggests: The boxes had good product. Each contained two 10-card 2019 Series One packs — these are from a blaster and contain only base cards — and then had two other packs. The highlight was two repack boxes had 2019 Topps Series Two (looking for Fernando Tatis Jr, Pete Alonso and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. No Number SP, and the other has a single pack of 2018 Topps Series Two. The mere presence of the lacks already made these a win since individually some of these cost more than the entire stack of repacks.

The very first 2019 Topps Series Two pack was a banger. About halfway through the pack I unearthed a Tatis Jr. rookie, and just a few cards later in the same pack was the Alonso. The other Series Two packs were uneventful.

If you’ve got access, the means and desire to rip these repacks it could be worth your effort, but it’s also important to know many of them will not contain anything of much value and you may end up hating yourself for the purchase.

That said, if you hit a streak like mine — or like folks are with the football ones — it could also be worth the effort to possibly chase down more. Just keep your expectations reasonable and try to enjoy the journey.

Just because a card is hot doesn’t mean it is time to sell

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , on February 4, 2022 by Cardboard Icons

The other day I was at one of the local card shops and they happened to still have two 2020 Topps Stadium Club Chrome blasters for sale. I’m still working on the set and had been eyeing the overpriced retail boxes for a year. But on this day I decided the blasters were coming home with me partly because the secondary market for these blasters has gotten worse in recent weeks as folks chase the Juan Soto “shuffle” card.

I mean, who can blame them. It’s a cool ass card showing Soto mid shuffle during a World Series game. The base card has been popular among collectors for more than a year, but over the last few weeks demand for the card has intensified. Sales prices for base cards have doubled and parallels of the card have been much much more.

I asked the employee to grab the blasters for me, and in the exchange he quipped: “Chasing the Soto, eh?

I told him that I already had one in my set, and then told him that my son actually had found an XFractor version of the Soto in a box of cheap singles (3 for $5 specifically) at a card show this summer. The employee was taken aback; his eyes lit up. He inquired what they’d been going for, and when I told him there had been sales recently between $300 and $500, he replied “I’d move that as soon as possible.”

The employee was not wrong per se. The market has seemingly peaked and is currently falling back to a more stabile place. However, my decades of hobby experience have left me in a place where I’m realizing something that others had learned long ago: If a card is in high demand and you’ve got a chance to make some money or turn that card into something else you like then you do what makes sense for you. But if the card makes you stop what you’re doing and enjoy it for more than just the dollar signs attached to it, then maybe it’s something that was meant to stay with you, regardless of how much interest has increased.

In the case of this Soto XFractor that sits in my son’s collection, I remember the exact spot we were standing when he located it, turned to me and said “Oooh!” His reaction wasn’t because it was worth a lot, it was because the card is super cool and is from a product that we often discuss. In other words, he bought it because he enjoyed it, not because it was a means to an end.

This brief interaction with the store employee sat with me for several hours because it made me think about how many cards we as hobbyists have sold because the market was hot, only to later regret for one reason or another. I’ve actually got another related post coming sometime in the next week or two on this very topic, which I think you may also enjoy.