Archive for Bowman

In Memoriam: Jose Fernandez (July 31, 1992 – Sept. 25, 2016)

Posted in In Memoriam with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 25, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

When I stop to post something on a baseball player who has passed away, I typically will show their rookie card — or something close to it — and leave it at that. Today, I will do something more.

img_0245By now you’ve heard the news, Marlins ace pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed early Saturday in a boating crash. He was 24.

I repeat, TWENTY FOUR.

People come and go in our real lives, usually not at or before the age of 24. And if by chance they do pass at a young age we all stop and call it unfortunate. This case, albeit involving an athlete, a budding superstar, a guy paid millions to play whats been called  kid’s game, is no different.

The death of Mr. Fernandez has struck me like no other athlete’s has struck me in recent memory. Muhammad Ali passing a few months ago was big, but didn’t punch me in the gut this way because Ali lived a full life. Besides, by the time I came to know Ali he was already in retirement; I was only living with the legacy that he’d already built.

When Dave Henderson died in December of 2015 that hit me a bit because growing up I watched him play in Oakland AND two of his twin nieces were in my fourth and fifth grade classes. They  brought a signed bat of his to class for show and tell once. Even then I merely posted  picture of his 1982 Topps rookie card and moved on.

When Cardinals top prospect and super rookie Oscar Tavares died during the post season of 2014, the card world mourned because he was supposed to be THE guy. Collectors bought into him heavily hoping to reap financial benefit, but they all wound up dumping his cards post mortem for mere pennies on the dollar. Personally I was saddened as usual, but wasn’t really affected — I hadn’t had a chance to see him do much of anything on the diamond. Also, the suspicion that he was driving while reportedly being intoxicated kind of changes the tone a bit.

And then there is the sad case of Angels super prospect Nick Adenhart, who died after his car was struck by a suspected drunken driver on the morning of August 9, 2009, just HOURS after Adenhart in his one and only MLB start of the year. I repeat: His car was hit by a suspected drunken driver; Adenhart was not the party who was intoxicated. A bright future was there for Adenhart, but again, he had a lot to prove at the Major League level.

Now lets come back to the present as it pertains to Mr. Fernandez, the bright, smiling face of a Marlins organization that comes and goes as it pleases in baseball with almost no real foot print. True, outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is the longest-tenured Marlin with the club and sure-fire Hall of Famer Ichiro recently joined the land of baseball immortality with his 3,000 hits, but neither of them in my mind was as big of a star for the Miami club as Mr. Fernandez.

He was all of 24, but everything he showed us in his four seasons in Major League Baseball lead us to believe he certainly was flirting with greatness.

During his age 20 season, he went 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA and 187 strikeouts en route to capturing the 2013 National League Rookie of the Year honors.

Elbow injuries shortened his 2014 and 2015 seasons, but even when he was playing he still maintained his dominance to the tune of a 10-3 record over 19 starts during which he struck out 149 batters in 116 1/3 innings.

And this year he was dominating his opponents to the tune of 12.5 strikeouts per 9 innings. At the time of his death he’d struck out 253 batters in only 182 1/3 innings of work. He had 16-8 record and a 2.86 ERA over the course of 29 starts. In his final outing on Sept. 20, he went 8 innings against the eventual National League East champion Washington Nationals, allowing only three hits while striking out 12 batters — just another typical Fernandez outing.

I took a liking to Fernandez during his rookie year. His stuff was electric and his style — even his hair — reminded me a bit of Ricky Vaughn from Major League the movie. There was just something about the guy that made you watch the game. I made it a point to own the above pictured 2011 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects Refractor autograph and when it came to keeper fantasy baseball leagues, he was mine — forever, just as Clayton Kershaw shall be.

img_0239Oddly enough the news of Mr. Fernandez’s death came to me through a push notification from Yahoo Sports.  There I was using the restroom when a bell rang on my phone. I’m in the semi-finals of my league’s playoffs, a day away from entering the championship round, so I was intrigued by this seemingly odd notification that Fernandez’s status was changed from “healthy” to “day-to-day.” I clicked on the link and boom: the news hits me like a ton of bricks. And not because he was a part of my team, but because he was a hell of a talent and because he was just a kid.

He was 24. What were you doing at age 24? For me. I had graduated from college a year earlier and was only a few months into my career as a professional journalist. The Marlins, oddly enough, had defeated the Yankees in the 2003 World Series and in 2004, my favorite team, the Boston Red Sox, had completed an unbelievable comeback against the New York Yankees during the American League Championship Series and then went on to win club’s first World Series in 86 years.

By the time I had turned 24 I hadn’t been married yet and was still five years away from having the first of my two children. At age 24 I was just becoming an adult. Sure, Mr. Fernandez had talent, fame and fortune that most of us could only dream of, but I’d imagine that when all of those material things are stripped away, he wasn’t that much different that most of us at that age. He was enjoying the life of a young adult, but still had many real life milestones ahead of him.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Fernandez. May there be nothing but called third strikes for your pitching career in the afterlife.

 

 

 

 

In Memoriam: Joe Garagiola (2/12/26-3/23/16)

Posted in In Memoriam, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on March 23, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

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1951 Bowman Joe Garagiola, rookie card. 

Discounted 2014 Bowman Platinum blaster pays off with Correa ink

Posted in Box / Pack Break with tags , , , , , , on November 12, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

I made a quick stop today at a Target to see if they had any WWE Topps Archives (they didn’t have any) and ended up finding a stray discounted 2014 Bowman Platinum blaster hidden on the bottom shelf. It’s a fun product at $12.99 a box for eight packs because it has autographs of most of the young prospects and rookies.

  
I snatched up the blaster and hit the checkout line hoping that I would pull an autograph of either Kris Bryant — whose auto I still don’t own — or Carlos Correa, whose likely to be named American League Rookie of the Year.

You won’t believe me when I say I had a feeling I might pull a Correa autograph. The reason I say this is because I bought a Correa autograph (2013 Bowman Inception) earlier in the day. 

Well, guess what was hiding in the sixth pack …  I’ve had incredible luck with this product.  The same week it came out I opened a blaster and pulled a blue refractor Jose Abreu auto. That pull came the same week I bought Abreu’s 2014 Bowman Chrome Prospects auto.

Now I have a dilemma: Do I keep both autos or move one? I love that I personally pulled a Correa auto but I really like the Bowman Inception one that was produced a year earlier and has a full signature instead of the shortened one on this Platinum.

 
On a side note: Carlos Correa’s shortened signature looks very much like Clint Frazier’s auto.

  

Pack-Pulled vs Industry Standard

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , , , on October 19, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

As a rookie card (and prospect) collector, it is a goal of mine to acquire early cards if every guy who has played in the Majors. It’s a daunting task that at times I struggle to adhere. With players from pre 2002, it was fairly simple to decide which card(s) I wanted to target.

In the last decade or so the lines between first, early, rookie card, prospect card, etc. have become blurred and there are any number of cards a collector could target.

As most of us know, Bowman Chrome autographs in any form are pretty much the industry standard.  But we also know, obviously, that many other brands exist. Which creates an interesting scenario when a collector who owns multiple cards of a single player.

Example: Jose Abreu.

  
Shortly after Abreu broke into the majors in 2014 I picked up this shown Bowman Chrome Prospects autograph on the secondary market. For all intents and purposes I was done with Abreu. And then Lo and Behold I bought a blaster of Bowman Platinum and pull the shown blue refractor Abreu auto.

Conventional wisdom would have this one of two ways: Keep both, or unload one and go add something else. The latter is where my head is considering I could turn one of these into another sogned rookie or prospect of a buy whom I do not have.

And so here is the true dilemma: Keep the Bowman Chrome autograph because it’s the industry standard, or the Bowman Platinum because It’s technically rarer (it is serial numbered to 199) and I personally pulled it?

BGS/BVG order returns: ’56 Clemente slabbed; RC’s crossed over

Posted in Mail Day with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

So, a few months ago my co-worker advised me that he had established a relationship with one of his local thrift stores and they would contact him if they obtained any sports cards.  This shop isn’t a chain store, just some little shop that buys storage lockers and resells items. I’ve never been there, but that’s how it was described to me.  And given the location in the middle of nowhere, I had no reason to doubt my friend’s description.

A short while after that relationship was established, my friend sends me pictures from the shop of various vintage cards.  Among the cards was a 1956 Topps Roberto Clemente. Long story short, my co-worker end up buying a bunch of cards and collectibles for several hundred dollars from this store.  In these transactions he acquired for me the aforementioned 1956 Topps Clemente and an off-center 1956 Topps Hank Aaron. I initially was going to send both cards to BGS in my order, but ultimately decided on just the Clemente as it was centered almost perfectly.

Well, the Clemente is  gorgeous. It graded a 6.5.  I could flip it for a decent profit, but like everything else in this batch of Beckett Graded cards, they are all for my personal collection.

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The Clemente was the newest addition to my collection before the BGS order was sent, but just about the same time I completed that transaction, I acquired a rookie card of Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg.  This 1934 Goudey rookie card had been elusive. And then it happened. A HENRY Greenberg rookie card was posted on eBay and it was slabbed by SGC.  The card looked amazing, and the simple fact that it was listed as Henry likely kept bidding lower that it should have went.  Centered the card was, but mint it is not.  I could not see that it had a crease in the picture on eBay, but when it arrived I could see it. Disappointed?  Not really.  The card was graded a 2.5 by SGC and that would explain why.  Whenever I purchase rookies that are graded by SGC, GAI or even PSA, I almost always end up cracking them and sending them to Beckett Grading because I like the continuity in my display case and I feel the cases are superior to the other companies. So I cracked it and sent it to BGS.  It crossed over at exactly a 2.5

IMG_0214Speaking of a crossover, here is a 1959 Topps Bob Gibson rookie card that is absolutely stunning.  It’s centered and doesn’t have a single crease.  So why was it graded an SGC 2 when it came into my hands.  There is clear glue residue on the back. It came back from BGS as a 2.5.  It could be the best-looking card in this grade. Finding these Gibson rookie centered is not an easy task.  I’m more than happy to have this copy, regardless of the grade that it has been assigned.

IMG_0218Technically speaking, there are no official rookie cards prior to 1933.  That is the year that Goudey was released and according to Beckett, that set holds the first “rookie cards.” This means that many early 20th century legends do not have rookie cards.  Ty Cobb, Cy Young and even Honus Wagner technically do not have rookies.  But for my collection, this just means I seek early cards of the players, and in most cases, I chase the coveted T206 tobacco cards. At some point last year I acquired a Willie Keeler graded a PSA 1. I sent it to BVG in this order and it came back a BVG 2. I wasn’t expecting that.  Grading on T206s is always a crapshoot.  I’m just happy that BVG concurred with PSA on the fact that the card was real.

IMG_0215Sometime last year I was taking inventory of my Hall of Famer rookie cards and noticed that I was missing a Robin Roberts 1949 Bowman rookie.  I managed to find a raw centered copy with rounded corners for about $25. Needless to say it was submitted and came back … a 2.5. Not exactly a high-end copy, but it looks great in this case. Still worth every penny that I put into the card and the grading fee.

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One of the oddest rookie card parings I own is the 1941 DoublePlay card that features not only Harold “Pee Wee” Reese but also Kirby Higbe.  The pairing is notable because Reese has for a long time been portrayed as a supporter of Jackie Robinson and Higbe was among a group of players who was traded in 1947 after they refused to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers after Robinson was brought onto the team as Major League Baseball’s first African-American player. This copy was a PSA 4 when I purchased it.  I cracked it from its case and saw that the only real blemish was a stain near the left border.  It came back a 5.5.

IMG_0212And speaking of Jackie Robinson.  In 2006, shortly after I returned to the hobby, I acquired a 1949 Bowman Robinson for my collection.  It was raw when I purchased it and I sent it to BGS to have it slabbed as ‘Authentic” instead of actually graded.  At the time I liked that idea.  However, over the years I’ve found that many people are confused by this, and in my own display cases, the blue labels looked odd with the silver, white and occasional gold labels issued by Beckett Grading.  I decided this was the perfect time to crack the Robinson from it’s authentic case and submit it along with the aforementioned Reese/Higbe rookie. It came back a 1.5.

IMG_0213The final card in this batch is on that was acquired at about the same time as the Jackie Robinson.  It is 1951 Bowman Willie Mays rookie.  In recent years, these cards have increased in value regardless of condition.  My copy is clearly not mint as it is way off center.  But it is not creased, so that it a plus. Like the Robinson, I initially submitted this card to be placed in an “Authentic” case only. And for the same reasons as the Robinson, I decided to crack it and sent it in this batch.  I was surprised to see it come back as a 2 — I just figured the centering would kill the grade — but the fact that there are no creases is always a positive apparently.

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I pulled a 2013 Bowman Draft Black 1/1 … And it’s damaged

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , on November 26, 2013 by Cardboard Icons

Dropped by my local card shop today — Southbay Sports Cards in Sunnyvale, Calif. — to pick up the new Beckett Baseball and a few packs of Bowman Draft. The unthinkable happened — I actually pulled a black parallel serial numbered 1/1. It was an awesome pull considering I only bought six packs. The scarce — hell, the Unique — card is of White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, a 17th round selection this year. But there is a downside to this story … The card came out if the pack with a smashed corner. I didn’t say dinged– I said smashed. Sad part is this damage happened at the packing factory; this pack came from a sealed box that was opened just minutes before my purchase… And it was the only card in the pack that wasn’t mint. I’m not going to go all irate and call out Topps. I’ll contact them about my options, but I just wanted to share this story since I know the product gets broken heavily, some of you track the 1/1’s, and it was an experience worth documenting.

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“Cowboy” Joe West, 2004 Bowman Heritage Signs of Authority autograph

Posted in Icon-O-Clasm, Instagram Portraits with tags , , , , , on January 24, 2013 by Cardboard Icons

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