Archive for baseball

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.

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.

COMC Mailday: Kershaws and Clemens galore

Posted in Collcting Clemens, Collecting Kershaw, Mail Day with tags , , , , , , , on May 9, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I love being a player collector on COMC. Every day I’ll check the site and pick off cards I want and leave them in my account until I reach 100. At that point I’ll request shipment because when you ask for 100 cards to be delivered, COMC gives you a $5 bonus on the first day of the next month.

So the bonus effectively give me free shipping. And if you’ve ever dealt with COMC as a buyer, you know how Top-notch their packaging and fulfillment is.

Anyway, as usual, I filled by account with mostly Roger Clemens and Clayton Kershaw cards. And while most of it is ho-hum stuff I needed for my player collections, there are some neat pieces that I’ll show off here.

We’ll start with some Clemens stuff, move into some Kershaws, and then round out the post with some non-PC items.

I’m pretty sure I’ve written this somewhere, but when I was a kid I used to love my single 1985 Topps Roger Clemens Rookie Card so much that I actually put it into a Card Saver I and TAPED the holder to the inside pocket of my school binder. That way I could look at it at will, and I always knew where it was at. Fast forward some 30 years and I still fawn over the Clemens Topps Rookie And usually buy them when I find them cheap. This month I grabbed two from COMC when I found them near $2 each. Several others have since popped up but I’ve not bought another. Worth noting that when I place these two on top of each other, it’s clear that one of them was trimmed by some asshat who was hoping to turn it into a monster.

It sucks to see this, but I’m not upset… just part of this cards history, a reminder that people once cared enough about a Clemens to do such a thing.

Hey, Remember when Upper Deck produces upper tier baseball cards? Here are three reminders: A 1998 Amazing Greats DIE-CUT (/250), a 1997 SP SPX Force quad player hologram (/500), and a 2007 Exquisite Rookie Signature’s. Gorgeous stuff.

Here’s a few serial numbered cards, including a 2018 Topps Triple Threads parallel 21/99. Jersey number serial numbers are awesome.

I love the image on the 1991 Topps Roger Clemens Card; I really wish they turned that into a poster or even one of those folders. Anyway? Here are two Gypsy Queen minis from a few years ago, serial numbered /50 and /199. I showed these to my son the other day and he smiled and said he knew where else this picture was used. That made ME smile.

I still buy relic cards if they’re cheap enough or make me feel a certain way. All three of these checked one or both of those boxes.

And I’ll round out the Clemens highlights — like I said I have others that I won’t show here for the sake of tome — with a 1995 Collector’s Choice Gold Signature parallel and a 2004 Topps Chrome Refractor. I don’t have enough Clemens refractors.

***

We’ll kick off the Kershaw portion with a BGS 9 Mint 2006 Bowman Heritage Prospects Card. I love BGS and grabbed this for almost as much as it costs to slab a single card these days. That’s a win.

Speaking of early cards, here are two inexpensive early editions I didn’t already own: 2006 Just and 2008 Tri-Star Projections.

Remember what I saw about Clemens relics above? The same applies for Kershaw. I added 7 new relics to my collection, including these three Panini “National” Silver (I think) Pack patch cards, which I scored collectively for about the price of a blaster. I now own 3 of the 15 produced.

The other relics included a Topps Tribute jumbo size relic, a full size Ginter relic and another 2018 Topps Heritage relic. Also, a 2016 Panini National Treasures dual jumbo relic booklet featuring two plain game-worn swatches. It’s almost blasphemous these large swatches are so bland in a product so expensive, but hey …. I’ll take a booklet of MY guy /15 for under $15.

From real used relics to manufactured relics. Here is a Topps MVP medallion Card, which is a type of card that usually doesn’t move the needle for me because it’s big (as in thick) and relatively unimpressive, except this one was cheap and it bears Kershaw’s serial number on the back.

Lets go from big to little … as in minis. The Diamond Kings is /25, and of course that red border Ginter is /40. Love this stuff even if they are a pain to store sometimes.

Speaking of parallels. Sometimes it’s a pain to chase these things for your player collections. But when they’re all together they sure are cool to look at. Here are a few various parallels.

And serial numbered parallels are also fun. I knocked out a few /10, /25, /50, /100 and so on …

Also picked up a pair of photo variations from recent years. Here are 2013 Topps and 2019 Topps.

And let’s round out this Kershaw section with a pair of high-end Topps cards, 2010 Topps Sterling /250 and 2012 Topps Museum Collection /199.

***

And lastly here are six cards that either I needed for a set, were so cheap I couldn’t pass or otherwise spoke to me.

That 2018 Topps On Demand Mike Trout reminded me of a dream I have which is to take a photo that winds up on a real baseball card; and that Todd Helton Playoff Absolute has a laundry tag in it. Couldn’t pass for under $10. The Arrieta Topps Update Rookie BGS 9.5 was a steal for under $2. That’s not a typo.

So I was thinking … A recommendation for Beckett Magazines

Posted in Commentary, Misc. with tags , , , , , , on May 8, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

A few weeks ago I picked up a copy of the newest Beckett Baseball. Don’t ask why. I just like to have a new copy in my hand every few months. I really only buy it once or twice a year.

Anyway, I was just flipping through the magazine as I normally would and it dawned on me that Beckett is missing an opportunity.

Hear me out.

A few years ago Beckett stopped publishing in its monthly magazine any set released before 1980. The move was done to keep a more modern presence and to reduce the size, and maybe the cost, of the monthly magazine. I get it.

So here’s my idea. Why don’t we trim out all this nonsense like the 3-inch listing of 1990 Fleer and just list key cards going all the way back to t206? I mean seriously. Not to pick on Ozzie Smith or Robin Yount, but we don’t need to know that those cards are listed at 15 to 40 cents in the book.

What’d be more valuable is seeing key rookie cards and even other major HOFers from vintage sets from t206 to 1980; and then list other key rookies and some inserts from 1980 to current. Don’t you all think it’s a bit asinine that a person returning to the hobby can’t buy a copy of the monthly magazine and see what year or how much a rookie card of Mantle, Mays or Aaron is, but can go find damn near every 1990 card of George Brett or Greg Maddux?

And this is not a forum for you to blast the magazine. I know — hell, we all know it’s not as valuable to the hobby as it used to be — rather this post is a suggestion to improve the product, and maybe help find a way for it to be useful in today’s market.