Archive for BGS

Baseball Hall of Fame `Class of 2019′ in rookie cards

Posted in Hall of Fame Rookie Cards with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

For the first time in several years I’ve been excited to see the announcement of the newest class of Cooperstown. I’m not going to dwell on the fact that my guy, Roger Clemens, still didn’t make it — although I appreciate that he is trending upward.

That said, Tuesday afternoon it was announced that Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was the first unanimous selection to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and joining him in the Class of 2019 are pitchers Mike Mussina and Roy Halladay, and designated hitter Edgar Martinez. Those four players were elected by the Baseball Writers of America and join the previously announced closer Lee Smith and Designated Hitter Harold Baines who were elected to the Hall in December by committee vote.

I’m a Red Sox fan and I cannot deny the greatness of Mariano. While I hated seeing him close out games against my team, I appreciated his pure dominance. And he was humble and emotional at the same time. One of my favorite scenes is watching him crumble on the mound after winning one of his first World Series titles. I’m proud to say I own a BGS Mint 9 copy of his 1992 Bowman rookie card. Also, one of my favorite inserts in my collection is his 1997 Bowman Best International Preview Atomic Refractor.

Mussina is one of the guys I pulled for in 1992, a year after his rookie cards actually hit the market I distinctly remember seeing his 1992 Ultra card — that set was super premium quality at the time — selling for $3 to $5 at my LCS, and remember the first time he was on the cover of Beckett Baseball. Moose was filthy, and it was a joy to watch his career. My favorite of his rookie cards is the 1991 Fleer Ultra Update, which I own in a BGS Mint 9. In terms of inserts, his 1996 Pacific Flame Throwers sticks out in my collection.

“Bad Ass.” That’s how I liked to think of Roy Halladay, both in real life and as a fantasy player. This guy was so fun to watch; and in our fantasy league was a source of controversy as there was at least one guy who thought he was overrated. Nope. Not one bit. One of my favorite memories of Halladay is that no-hitter he threw in Game One of the NLDS. This was four days after my son was born, and I remember sitting at home on the couch with him in my arms when the final pitch was thrown. I was genuinely sad when I learned Roy had died in 2017. I was at work driving around when word started to spread. The only graded rookie card I own of Roy is his 1997 Bowman, BGS Mint 9, which holds a special place in my heart because that 1997 set is the first Bowman set I actually built. I do own a few copies of his Bowman Chrome rookie in raw condition, however it is the International version of that Chrome rookie card that I like to think of when it comes to my favorite inserts or parallels in my collection.

I loved watching Edgar Martinez play, especially on those mid to late 1990s Seattle Mariner teams with when he had other hitters around him like Ken Griffey Jr, Alex Rodriguez and Jay Buhner. The DH position is often shunned in baseball circles, but this dude could hit. I really enjoyed his batting stance and watching him make solid contact with the ball. He has two rookie cards, and only one of them actually pictures him. I have several copies of his 1988 Fleer card, which I sadly do not own in a graded case. It’s shown here in a one touch solely for display purposes. I’ll have to add a Mint 9 or better BGS copy at some point — but I will not overpay for one right now. When it comes to inserts, Edgar’s Elite Series card is the one that catches my eye.

Whether or not you believe Lee Smith or Harold Baines belong in the Hall of Fame, fact remains they are in and were good players. I remember Smith being the closer for the Red Sox just as I was really getting into the sport — and he was dominant. Maybe not Dennis Eckersley dominant, but a stud nonetheless. When I think of Harold Baines I do think of a very good hitter. I LOVED his batting stance and often emulated it in Whiffle Ball games in the parking lot of my apartment complex — I got to watch him a lot in the early 1990s when he played in Oakland. I own a 1982 Topps Lee Smith in BGS Mint 9, and a 1981 Topps Harold Baines in a BGS 6 — which is comical, but was a must-buy when I found it for $2 at the LCS. I’ll probably update at some point.

eBay Bucks purchase arrives; cracked from slab after 16 years

Posted in Mail Day with tags , , , , , , , on January 13, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Last week I chronicled here what I did with my eBay Bucks: I turned the bonus funds into a card I wanted for nearly two decades, the 1998 Upper Deck SP Authentic Chirography Roger Clemens autograph, limited to a reported 400 copies.

The card arrived Friday and I was anxious to see how bad the edges on this card were — the card was graded a 7.5 by Beckett Grading in October 2002, hammered significantly for edges.

When I opened the box I could see the issue, two finger nail digs near the top left border. I’m not sure how that happened. Maybe someone tried too hard to get it into a Card Saver II, or used their finger names to remove the card from a Top Loader? Either way, the grade was justified. But that, of course, didn’t mean I had to stare at that hideous 7.5 grade every time I wanted to look at the card.

And so I cracked it from it’s case. I broke off the top right corner of the BGS case with a pair of pliers, then slid a butter knife between the two parts of the slab and twisted the knife, to create separation. And then pried the top and bottom apart to free the card. This process is usually neater than what occurred here, but the card came out safe.

I often say Ultra Pro One-Touches are overrated — and I still feel that way, especially if you’re using them to secure cards during transport. I still believe top loader and penny sleeve are still the best for that.

But I do think One Touches serve as a nice case for display — they’re the new school version of my old favorite, the single-screw recessed screw down.

Mint and slabbed: 1985 Clemens Topps rookie finds new home

Posted in New Addition with tags , , , , , on January 14, 2018 by Cardboard Icons

True story: When I was 11 years old I entered the sixth grade with a binder decorated in Roger Clemens pictures. I was that hardcore of a fan. And my collection at the time consisted of damn near every copy of every Roger Clemens card I could find.

Hell, during one trip to card show in the mall I purchased some 60 copies of a 1989 Classic Travel Orange Clemens card one dealer had for sale.

I digress, one of my prized possessions was a single 1985 Topps Clemens rookie card I purchased from a local card shop in 1990. I forget how much the card cost me, but surely it was in the $15 range — which was about the same price as a box of packs from the current year at the time. So there was a debate: a single card versus a whole box of cards.

That card was THE Clemens card for me. The 1984 Fleer Update XRC was a figment of my imagination really. I figured there was no way on earth that I’d ever own the card as it was valued at the time in the $350 range.

So the Clemens Topps rookie was something I never wanted to let out of my sight. So what did I do? I placed it into a Card Saver I and taped the Card Saver to the inside of my binder.

And so there it sat every day. When I got sick of listening to the teacher I opened my binder and looked at the Clemens, an escape from school work and a journey to baseball card land, where all things were positive and fun.

Fast forward to 2018. I have the Clemens Fleer Update rookie — two in fact; although it should be noted they’re worth about a third of what they went for in 1990. But I hadn’t owned a GRADED version of that beloved 1985 Topps Clemens.

The original one I owned is still in my collection. Remarkably it isn’t thrashed, but it was never mint, always near-mint at best.

And so one day recently while perusing the Clemens stuff on eBay I came upon a BGS Topps Clemens rookie, a solid Mint 9. It’s not rare, but I had to make this one mine. And so I did — for a whopping $15, the same price I paid for my original Clemens rookie.

Ben Aguirre, Jr.

Former Beckett Baseball columnist and writer.

Collector of Hall of Fame tobacco era and Rookie cards.

Collector of Roger Clemens and Clayton Kershaw.

You can reach me on Twitter and Instagram @cardboardicons. You can also e-mail me at cardboardicons@yahoo.com

Deuces Don Drysdale rookie …

Posted in Hall of Famers, Misc. with tags , , , , , , , on January 13, 2018 by Cardboard Icons

If you’re not familiar with the primary focus of my collection, I’ve been acquiring the Rookie Card or a tobacco-era card of every member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Wagner. Ruth. Mantle. Etc. And on top of that, the card has to be stabbed by Beckett Grading Services because I like uniformity.

This week I added to my collection a 1909-11 t206 John McGraw already stabbed by BGS/BVG. Low grade, but still wonderful to see.

It’s so much fun adding these century-old cards to the wall display. It’s a lot more fun adding these baseball icons than chasing something new and flashy. But that’s just my opinion.

So now the McGraw will be inserted in the top row — to keep things chronological — and since the Drysdale is the last card in the case it has to be moved.

So what happens with the Drysdale? It’ll get bumped to the second graded card display which presently houses stabbed HOF rookies from 1958-1991.

I’ll need another case eventually as I have a half dozen more ungraded HOF t206 that need BGS/BVG cases. This will eventually force the move of Jim Bunning and Bill Mazeroski as well.

Ben,

Collector of Hall of Fame tobacco era and Rookie cards.

Collector of Roger Clemens and Clayton Kershaw.

You can reach me on Twitter and Instagram @cardboardicons. You can also e-mail me at cardboardicons@yahoo.com

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.

Rookie Card Upgrade: 1960 Topps Willie McCovey 

Posted in Rookie Card Upgrade, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on March 15, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

I’m a big fan of Willie McCovey but I’ve never really been a huge fan of his 1960 Topps rookie card. Reason? It’s ugly.  The rendition of McCovey isn’t exactly flattering. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: McCovey looks like a deer on this card.

I digress. Being the rookie card collector that I am I had to own one. Hell, everyone should own one. The copy I decided on was raw and ultimately graded a 3.5.  It’s one of the best-looking 3.5’s I’d ever owned.  photo 76246699-8271-409C-B4BB-D5DA0E628931_zpsb2w1qcwh.jpg

Lately I’ve been doing a bunch of upgrading and recently posted my new Carl Yastrzemski. When I put that Yaz in my rookie display case next to the McCovey, it got me thinking about upgrading the Giants’ HOF rookie card.

And so I did. In relatively cheap fashion. in fact, it was maybe $20 more that what I had paid for the first McCovey.

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Rookie Card Upgrade 7: 1961 Topps Billy Williams

Posted in Rookie Card Upgrade with tags , , , , , , on August 24, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

About 18 months ago I acquired a few PSA grades HOF rookie cards for what was a good deal at the time.  Among the cards was this 1961 Topps Billy Williams PSA 3.

 
It’s a good looking card with decent centering.  The funny thing is I wasn’t really looking to upgrade this card.  But last week when I visited one of my local shop they had this in the showcase.  

 
I’m more of a BVG guy than PSA. It’s my personal preference. This card on this grade at that price was a real and a heck of a way to upgrade this rookie card.  Besides, this is an old slab with sub grades.  I love these.