Archive for Beckett

Cardboard Icons Turns 8

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , , , on July 3, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

WeaverBagIt all started here eight years ago today with a little post about an iconic 1951 Bowman Phil Rizzuto card. And what has become Cardboard Icons the blog and the opportunities this site have provided for me are things I never could have imagined.

When I started this blog in 2008 I had few connections to other collectors.  The Beckett Message Boards (the old ones, if you remember them) was my favorite way to communicate with other hobbyists. And when the company reformatted its Web site the message boards lost their steam and some collectors went looking for other places to talk shop.

For me, I decided to try my hand at blogging. After all, at the time I wrote for a living and had collected baseball cards for more than two decades (I’m actually coming up on three decades now). I was pretty much as qualified as anyone else to write about the stuff. And so Cardboard Icons the blog and persona were born.

I’ve always maintained that this site is really nothing more than a chronicle of my journey through this hobby. Sure, there were times early on after gaining some readership through connections that bigger ideas started to enter my mind, but many of those never really came to fruition. And honestly, probably for the better. Because what ended up happening was really  far beyond any of those “big” ideas that had entered my mind.

This blog started just about the time Twitter was starting to take off, and so I now had two platforms to share my stories and experiences, especially my passion for not only collecting, but also hunting sports cards and memorabilia through second hand stores, flea markets, etc. To this day the signature feature of this blog is the “Thrift Treasures” series.  The blog in an of itself was doing relatively well by my standards for the first few years. And then in late 2011 I discovered in a thrift store an item that would take the game to a whole new level for me — a 1977 game-used jersey of Hall of Fame Baltimore Orioles Manager Earl Weaver. Such items being found in such fashion are almost unheard of.

The discovery of that jersey ultimately aided in me fulfilling a dream of mine — being published as an author in Beckett Baseball magazine, a publication I had been reading since I was just 8 years old.

My first-hand account of finding the Weaver jersey opened more doors for me. It led to more writing opportunities for the magazine, which led to a trip to the annual National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore in 2012 where I got to meet Weaver just months before he died.  This journey was also picked up by Yahoo Sports’ Big League Stew, where author David Brown wrote: “A collector named Ben Aguirre must fancy himself a real, live Indiana Jones of sports memorabilia after recently finding not one, but two game-worn Baltimore Orioles jerseys — including one that used to belong to legendary manager Earl Weaver — at a Bay Area thrift store.”

In the following years I was able to assist in the creation of content for two special baseball magazines through Beckett Media and authored a monthly column for Beckett Baseball for almost two years. The column ended during the summer of 2015. And no, I am not bitter about it. The timing was right.

And so here we are.

By the standards of some of the larger and more popular (and way better, I might add) blogs, my near half-million page views aren’t special. But for a guy who really just started this as an extension of his own journey through the hobby that’s pretty remarkable. And I thank you all for contributing to the success I have enjoyed thus far by your continued reading and viewing of content on this blog.

Thank you,

Ben Aguirre, aka. Cardboard Icons.

In addition to this blog, you can also follow me on Twitter and on Instagram.

 

Why I choose BGS/BVG instead of PSA

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , , , , on May 22, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

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It’s been asked of me many times: Why do you choose BGS/BVG instead of PSA?

The reason might be simpler than you think.

Sunday morning I posted the attached picture to my Twitter account. I had been trying for a long time to take a decent picture of my “Card Wall” display case which contains many of the jewels of my rookie/vintage collection. 

The case contains 55 cards, all of which are graded by Beckett (Vintage) Grading. And the question about my grading preferences was asked again. And then it dawned on me that I never really explained here on my blog why I choose BGS/BVG instead of PSA.

One look at my bio may lead you to believe that my former affiliation with Beckett Media may have something to do with it, but in reality my loyalty to Beckett Grading began more than a decade before I penned anything for Beckett.

It started in 1999 during the grading card craze. PSA at the time was the big boy in the grading industry and many other small “grading” companies came along, most of which offered nothing more than slabbing your card for some fee. The quality of work really didn’t matter. They all had some fancy three-letter abbreviation and offered some plastic encapsulation, but the reputation of grading companies is built on one main thing: trustworthiness. In other words, does the grade you issue a card carry any value among collectors?

As you can guess, many of those fly-by-night operations didn’t last long as their services really offered nothing to collectors but a special plastic holder. Beckett started the Beckett Grading Services branch of the company right about that same time and to me, their product caught my eye for two reasons: First, the holders seemed superior to the PSA ones. Second, I didn’t have to join a club to get my cards graded.

The belief in my mind at the time was that I had to pay money to join the PSA club in order to even have the opportunity to get my cards graded. I also didn’t like the fact that the cost of services varied depending on the value of the card.

With BGS it was simple. You want cards graded? Package them up, fill out a form, pay a flat fee per card regardless of value and wait. There were no clubs. No hoops to jump through. It seemed simple. And it was.

Oddly enough my first order was a bag of mixed results. I got solid grades on my key submissions (1997-98 Topps Chrome Refractor RC Tim Duncan (9); 1998-99 Topps Chrome Refractors RC Vince Carter (9) and 1998 SP Authentic RC Randy Moss (9)) but there were some quality control issues. I had two cards in that first batch that came back damaged. Not the cases, but the actual cards! At some point during the encapsulation process, the edge of the card got caught in the area of the inner plastic sleeve where the plastic is heat sealed closed.

I complained and basically got the cold shoulder. It left a bad taste in my mouth, but I sent another submission a year later and had no problems. And truthfully, I have now sent dozens of orders in over the last 17 years and have not had any issues.

When it comes to grading, PSA and BGS are the two authorities. And everyone has their own opinion as to which is better for certain cards and why. Each also has a loyal following. Most modern stuff gets slabbed by BGS, likely because of the superior (in my opinion) cases and the existence of sub grades, whereas PSA continues to have a large market share of the vintage slabs.

On the resale market PSA still draws better for vintage cards which of course leaves me in an interesting predicament as it pertains to my collection. While I have a fair amount of modern stuff graded by Beckett Grading, I also choose BVG for all of my vintage cards. And I do this knowing that the cards might be “worth more” if they were in PSA holders, if for no other reason collectors of vintage seem to prefer PSA’s services.

What it all really comes down to is what you like. If you are a collector – and not a reseller, flipper, investor, etc. – you buy what you like, not what the next guy likes. Because really the only person you need to impress with your collection is the person you look at in the mirror.

The Final Word: Last Beckett Column Published

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , , on October 13, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

I didn’t plan it this way, but if I was going to pick the subject of my final Beckett Baseball column it definitely would have been about thrift shopping.

Thrifting is the subject of my current column, which is on newsstands now in Beckett Baseball Issue #116, which features likely AL MVP Josh Donaldson on the cover. And as it turns out, this appears to be my final column.  

Just days after submitting the piece I learned that Chris Olds, who had been the editor of said magazine for almost seven years, was moving on from his position. And this change in scenery for him likely meant the end of my column.

It was a fun run that lasted almost two years and essentially fulfilled my childhood dream of writing for the magazine that I grew up reading. I do appreciate the opportunity that Chris gave me when he was the editor. I wish him well in the future.

As for me, while the column has come to an end, this basically means that I can get back to writing more stuff here.

I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t holding back here so that I didn’t burn material for column that was going to be published. 

Thank you all for your continued readership. I’ll get back to writing more here shortly. In the mean time you can follow me on Twitter @cardboardicons

Rediscovering the “Wallet Card” idea …

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , , , , , on January 7, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

IMG_8106Funny story.  When I was 10 I was on my way to Little League game and on the ground near the field was a 1990 Score Ricky Jordan card.  It was a third-year card for the Phillies first base prospect, but at the time I was playing for my Little League’s Phillies’ team, so I figured that I put it in my back pocket for good luck. Well, with Jordan in my back pocket I managed to hit two doubles and played catcher for the entire game.  From that point forward I decided that it was my “lucky charm” and when I started carrying a wallet later that year — it was a black 49ers Velcro wallet with exactly ZERO dollars — but it held this Jordan and a “driver’s license” for a local go-kart track. I had the card in that wallet until high school when I upgraded to a black leather wallet. Through high school and college the card stayed in whatever wallet I owned. The Jordan was flat. It was folded at times. At one point it was soaking wet from me spilling water on it. But I kept in in the wallet until a few years ago when I switched to a smaller wallet-type of device that’s much easier to use at work. I’ve since placed the seemingly worthless Ricky Jordan card in a massive screw case, not unlike one from the era in which this card was produced.

IMG_8091Well, I recently learned that what I had been doing was what people in the hobby refer to as their “Wallet card.” So, naturally, I decided chose one for the upcoming year.  I could have gone back to the Jordan card, but I opted for this 1987 Topps “Turn Back The Block” Reggie Jackson card. There’s no real story behind the Jackson card, but it does hail from the 1987 Topps set, which is one of the first products I ever opened.  Additionally, I do find it amusing that a card of this Hall of Famer, who had an infamous interaction with Beckett Baseball editor Chris Olds at the 2012 National Sports Collectors Convention, will be traveling with be in the back seat of my pants where ever I go..  I was standing next to Chris when this incident occurred. It was awesome.

On a side note, the wallet shown here is a Rawlings Red Label Trifold with stitched seams. You should own one.

Thrift Treasures 64: The Premiere Editions

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , on March 1, 2014 by Cardboard Icons

ThriftTreasuresLogoSo here’s a short Thrift Treasures post that’s been sitting in my queue for a while.  About two months ago while hunting treasures in the California’s south bay cities of Campbell and San Jose, I went to a Salvation Army that I only get to maybe once every two or three months,

Judging by the throngs of people I run into there, it’s definitely on the radar for treasure hunting folks. Sometimes it’s people looking for jewelry, other times its people seeking art or anything else they can flip on eBay.  I dabble in some of those areas as well, but head straight for sports stuff regardless of the circumstances.

During this trip, there were no cards. BUT there were two card-related items … which of course I had to own.  Which is why I am even writing this.

Granted these items were in the area designated by store employees as the “Collectibles” and their prices relative to the rest of the second-hand items int he store seem a tad inflated. But during my decade-plus of treasure seeking I’ve never seen these, so they were mine.

IMG_6825Here we have the first issue of Beckett Basketball featuring some player you may or may not heard. Michael Jordan graces the cover of the first every Beckett Basketball, which is the March/April 1990 issue.  These aren’t rare. You’ll find them at various card shows and on eBay of course.  But for $5.50 I figured I’d bite.  Especially since it was kept in pretty good shape.  The cover is stiff.   The articles inside talk about how the basketball card market has grown to a state where a magazine was warranted.  And of course there is the price guide.  I won’t go over everything, but I will answer the question that is on your mind: How much was the 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie card worth then? Answer: $175, high book.

The other magazine t also cost me $5.50 is the premiere edition of the Topps Magazine.  Some of you may not have even been born — sad, but true — when Topps had its own Magazine. Well, here it is, the first edition — featuring Jose Canseco on the front.  The inside has a strip of cards that featured various players, primarily one George Kenneth Griffey Jr. and a pull-out poster showcasing every single one of the 792 cards that make up the 1990 Topps set.

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While there are all sorts of cool little tidbits in this magazine, it is worth noting that there is a short article on the highly-coveted 1990 Topps George H.W. Bush Yale.

IMG_6824In short, the story says that President Bush is a baseball fan, he played on the 1948 Yale University team that went to the College World Series, and Bush’s grandsons apparently asked someone why President Bush didn’t have a baseball card. Word got to Topps; Topps made just a few of the cards and delivered them to President Bush. The article says the cards are not for sale to the public and that they likely would never reach the secondary market.  The author does, however, speculate what collectors would pay for “the rarest baseball card Topps ever printed.”

 

Beckett’s $10 Card Shop Challenge leads to seven hits for $44

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , on January 15, 2013 by Cardboard Icons

challenge.jpg largeChris Olds, editor and writer of damn near all things Beckett, threw down the first “$10 Card Shop Challenge” of 2013.  You can see the rules and history on the site.  Olds is giving away a prize to the person who is voted to have had the best purchase for the price point.  I feel I should disqualify myself for any prizes due to my affiliation with the magazine, but that doesn’t mean I can’t play along for fun.  I mean I am a collector.

Anyway, I set out to Belmont, Calif., on Monday afternoon to participate in the challenge.  I went to Peninsula Sports Cards, which is roughly 40 miles from my house.  It’s a trek for sure, but worth it since I only make the jaunt every three to six months.  The shop owns two other stores that are closer to my house, but each store has a vastly different  selection of cards.  I love this.

The price point for the challenge was $10, as noted above, but what I ended up with was seven hits for $44.  There are a few binders of autographs and relics in one of the showcases.  The cards in the binders are priced $4.95 each, or five for $20.  I wound up buying six cards from these binders. And then I located one card in another showcase in which everything was marked 50 % off.

My Challenge entry are the two cards shown in the picture above.  They are a 1998 Press Pass Jason Williams autograph and a 2009 Press Pass Authentics James Laurinaitis.  The Williams was a sweet find because in 1998 I was still collecting basketball cards and he and Vince Carter were two guys I was really into at the time — as were many other people.  And the Laurinaitis?  Well, he IS the son of wrestling legend Road Warrior Animal.  That in and of itself makes the card awesome.  Also adding to the cool factor is that it’s a college on-card autograph.  It’s just neat in my opinion.  Both were worth the $4 each that I paid for them.

Other cards I purchased from the binders; remember these were $4 each:

2012 Topps Allen & Ginter Relic Jackie Joyner Kersee

2012 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions Relics Byron Nelson

2012 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions Autographs Bryan Clay

2009-10 Panini Basketball Hall of Fame Autographs Orsten Artis 125/899

And from the 50 % off showcase:

2012 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions Autographs Natalie Gulbis

Thrift Treasure 53 (Part 1): Hauls from The National (Day 1)

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , on August 4, 2012 by Cardboard Icons

Here is the first installment of Thrift Treasures from The National. My bargain finds story should be on Beckett.com at some point in the next day or two. In the meantime, enjoy this video.

 

To see more Thrift Treasures posts, click HERE