Archive for Earl Weaver

Thrift Treasures 112: I found a treasure chest!

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2018 by Cardboard Icons

Once upon a time, a Yahoo Sports columnist wrote that I, Ben Aguirre, must consider myself a “real, live Indiana Jones” (read here) after I unearthed the mother of all Thrift Treasures items, a game-used Earl Weaver jersey, that I later had signed and authenticated by Weaver himself.

Well, what should I consider myself today after finding a real, live “treasure chest?”

The answer: perhaps nothing more than a fool.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written a Thrift Treasures posts. In fact, it’s been 11 months. Which if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time you’d know that’s an asinine amount of time for me, an avid thrift shopper, to write about something I’ve found.

Well, truth be told it’s been slim pickings for a while. Anyone with a cell phone — which is to say that everyone who walks into a thrift store — is an expert, or can at least quickly learn enough to know whether or not to buy an item.  Also, while I still pop into thrift stores, it’s definitely been with less frequency.

I digress, this week I decided to set aside some “Me” time and do something other than laundry, or other adult chores such as run errands and pay bills. I decided to be Indiana Jones — I decided to go hunt treasure.

I walked into a few stores and walked out empty handed. But at one Goodwill in San Jose, Calif., I found something promising: A Baseball Collector’s Treasure Chest. See, it says “treasure” right on the box.

The box, as you might be able to see in the picture, is taped shut.  And while some would say rip the box open and review the contents before purchasing, I found that to lack class — yeah, I used class while writing about a thrift store visit. Also, there was nearby evidence suggesting there may be something worthwhile inside. Beside, it was $5.99 for this big box of cards, or about the same price of three retail packs of 2018 Topps Baseball — which I know releases next week and I will be sure to steer away from as much as possible so as to not get sucked into that rabbit hole.

So, what is this nearby evidence of which I speak? It’s actually a clear, gallon-sized food storage bag also containing cards, including what i could see to be a handful of mid 1980s autographed minor league cards, as well as a personalized signed 1985 Topps Tim Belcher rookie card. The bag was priced at $3.99. The presence of these autographs created this notion in my mind that there could be anything in side the box.

And so the “Treasure Chest” left the store with me and in the car I sliced open the tape and I could immediately see three things:

First, there was a 1968 Topps card included here. That was promising.

Secondly, the cards did not appear to be recently sorted since they were packed fairly tight and in a uniform fashion. That’s also promising.

Thirdly, there’s an awful lot of colored borders here. That’s NOT so promising.

As it turned out, this treasure chest was a real turd.

I immediately grabbed the 1968 Topps card (Jim Merritt, a common) that was sitting on the side of the row and found that there was a 1979 Topps card (Ken Clay, also a common) behind it, as well as a 1990 Topps Special Nolan Ryan card as well. I then thumbed through every card in the box and found that the box contained an assortment of 1986 through 1991, what seemed like opened packs or bricks removed from complete sets, or partial team sets, void of most of the big names. The one highlight from the box was a 1988 Topps Tom Glavine rookie card.

I sat there a second and thought about what exactly this “Treasure Chest” was.  I’d never seen these for sale before, but it was not uncommon in the early 1990s to find random baseball cards for sale either on television shopping channels, or in various magazines. And based on the items that were IN this box, I’m guessing this was a “Treasure chest” offered for sale via one of those avenues, and the description likely pitched this box as containing roughly 1,000 cards, a random assortment from multiple manufactures including Topps, Donruss, Score, Fleer and Upper Deck. Additionally there was likely a guarantee that the box included a card from the 1960s and 1970s, as well as a card of Nolan Ryan, who was at the peak of collectibility in 1990 and 1991.

Needless to say, the Treasure Chest was a dud. But thanks to the box I learned about pitcher Jim Merritt, the subject of the 1968 Topps card. He was an all star in 1970 with the Reds, who three years later would be fined as a member of the Texas Rangers for throwing “spitters” in a three-hit shutout against the Cleveland Indians.

And I learned about pitcher Ken Clay, the subject of my 1979 Topps card. Clay apparently was a top pitching prospect who never made it at the MLB level, and was traded by the Yankees after a handful of seasons in which he bombed, but his team still managed to win a pair of World Series rings. Wikipedia also notes that Clay’s struggles at the MLB level was the reason why Yankees owner George Steinbrenner shifted away from building through the draft and rather through free agency and trades.  Additionally, Clay also apparently had some run-ins with the law, all of which you can read on the link added above.

As for the Ziplock bag that I labeled as evidence for this purchase earlier, I’ll break that down in the next edition of Thrift Treasures coming up later. I assure you it’s better than this.

Total cost of this Thrift Treasure: $5.99.

You can see more Thrift Treasures posts Here.

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.

 

Recapping The National — from Cardboard Icons’ perspective

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , on August 7, 2012 by Cardboard Icons

I flew all the way across country for a four-day mini work-vacation and all I came back with was the shirt off someone else’s back and a piece of cardboard made in Japan.

OK, so I’m exaggerating a bit, but for the most part this is true.

Usually when someone travels so far to attend a collectors convention, they come home with a bunch of stuff.  Not me.  My luggage was actually 3 pounds lighter when I checked it Sunday night as I left Baltimore, home of the 33rd annual National Sports Collectors Convention.

So why did only come home with so little?

Because that’s all I needed to being home with me.

Don’t get me wrong, I did some spending.  I actually opened a box of cards each night that I was at the convention.

Thursday, Beckett Baseball Editor Chris Olds and I opened on camera a box of 1989 Upper Deck low numbers that I purchased from Baseball Card Exchange for the experience.  I wanted to pull a 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card for myself.

I’ve owned about a dozen of them over my 25 years of collecting, and even have one that is essentially gem mint except for the pesky hologram on the back.  As it turned out the box contained one alright … only I was not the one who pulled it.

On Friday, I purchased a box of 2012 Topps Mini, which was being sold exclusively through the Topps booth.  Along with the box, you got a five-card promotional set that includes Bryce Harper, Yu Darvish, Roy Halladay, Matt Kemp and Stephen Strasburg.  The sets were selling instantly on eBay for $25-$35.  I opened my box off camera because Beckett Football/Hockey editor Susan Lulgjuraj (@yanxchick) and Contributing Editor Dan Good (@Dgood73) were all ripping items they purchased with their own money from Blowout Cards.  My box was mediocre, but it was fun.  My hit was a Brandon Beachy relic.  But I did get five gold parallels (which are all serial numbered to 61 copies) and a Black/Platinum Scott Rolen, a parallel set that is limited to 5 copies each.

On Satuday, after I had an amazing experience meeting Earl Weaver – more on that in a bit – I decided to go buy another box of Topps Mini.  I figured I’d buy the box, throw the promo set on eBay and consider that a discount on the box price.  However, by the time I got to the booth, they were out of promo sets.  They said they’d get some more on Sunday.

But I did manage to find a box of cards to open that night … one dealer had random sports items priced relatively cheap.  Among his mound of treasures was a box of 1986 Donruss baseball.  It was $10.  I opened that on video as part of a Thrift Treasures post but truthfully, the box break was so long and uneventful I ended up scraping the video break.  You can all thank me now.  It’s called self editing, folks.

And of course on Sunday I woke up and walked over to The National early on to get another Topps Mini box since they promo sets were back in stock.  I bought box and proceeded to open it on video.  It was a damn good one, if I don’t say so myself.  No Harper or big autograph.  But my gold cards (remember, they are serial numbered to 61) were good – Stephen Strasburg, Alex Rodriguez, Freddie Freeman, Addison Reed and a Vladimir Guerrero checklist.  The Black/Platinum parallel serial numbered 5/5 was of one of the game’s biggest stars right now … Mark Trumbo.  That’s a big win considering that there are 661 cards in the set.

At this point you might be asking yourself: Now Ben … err, Cardboard Icons … how did you buy four boxes of cards this weekend and take so little home?

The Answer?  I stripped the 1989 Upper Deck and 1986 Donruss boxes of every star card and decent rookie card and left the commons in their prospective boxes for someone else to enjoy.

I then took said stars and rookies and added them to the contents of my two Topps Mini boxes and packed them into a 550-count box which I … submitted to Checkout My Cards.

Actually, that box was one of three that I submitted to COMC just before I left the Convention Center on Sunday.  I brought a 550-count box and a half of stuff to the show to submit to the consignment site (If you’re not using them, you should be …) and then managed to fill another box and a half with the contents of the aforementioned boxes and about 250 cards that I purchased as part of my Thrift Treasures series.

On that note, you should see the videos – all three of them: Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3.   I could have done a fourth video showcasing some of the items that I purchased on the last day, but I was running out of time.  I actually bought about 40 good rookies and refractors for $25.  I could have bought more, but my COMC boxes were so tight that I actually removed cards from penny sleeves so that I could get the last few in.

This is getting quite lengthy, so let me touch on a few bullet points:

Earl Weaver

So in the lede to this piece I spoke of the shirt off someone else’s back.  Well, the item I was referring to was my game-used Earl Weaver jersey.  I brought the item from the Bay Area to Baltimore just to have Earl sign this thing.  That experience was amazing.  I wrote a piece for Beckett.com   detailing the meeting. It was unbelievable.  And to add to this craziness, Yahoo Sports Blog “Big League Stew” linked to the Beckett piece.

Freedom Card Board

Big thanks to Chris Gilmore for inviting myself, Olds, Susan and Dan to the meet up dinner.  It was a pleasure meeting you.  I’m hoping to be more active on the boards there.  I know I signed up and posted a few times, but not so much over the last two years.  I’m rarely in front of an actual computer … most of my online interaction is via Twitter because I have access to that via my telephone.  But … there is an FCB App … downloaded. Done.

Topps  Q &A

I attended the annual question and answer session held by Topps.  It was interesting mix of folks and attitudes toward the hobby and each other. But the one thing that really sticks in my mind has to do with the Bowman brand.  Topps continued to praise itself for the Bowman brand which in all of its types (Chrome, Platinum, etc) has been welcomed by collectors.

But what kind of rubbed me the wrong way was the answer (or lack there of) to my simple question as to whether or not Topps had considered some sort of buy-back program in which they could re-acquired vintage Bowman rookies from the 1940s and 1950s.I didn’t really get a straight answer.  The product manager, who has only been around for six months, said “You’d know better than I.”

What does this mean?!  Does he not know that Topps spokesman (even posthumously) Mickey Mantle’s REAL rookie card hails from Bowman, which was a brand that was NOT under the umbrella of Topps at the time the card was produced in 1951?

If I do know more than he, then let me continue to teach.  Bowman was also home of rookie cards for Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson (also has a 1949 Leaf), Bob Feller, Warren Spahn, Phil Rizzuto, Stan Musial, Yogi Berra, Satchel Paige and a bunch of other legendary players whose existence on cardboard essentially assisted the hobby grow to insane heights in the 1980s and early 1990s.

It was a simple question.  And if you ask me, the product touted as “Home Of The Rookie Card” would have a MASSIVE swell – as if the brand could get any bigger – if the company re-purchased some of these iconic cards and re-distributed them to collectors through redemption or other means.

Big Purchase

I’ll wrap this lengthy commentary with addressing the second point I touched on at the beginning – the Japanese piece of cardboard.

For years I’d been seeking a decent priced Sadaharu Oh rookie card from 1959.  I’ve seen a few of them on eBay already slabbed and priced in the range of $275-$400. But I still hadn’t seen  one that I considered the one for me.

Well, as I meandered through the showroom floor on Friday I located Prestige Collectibles, which specializes in Japanese cards.  I asked the dealer how he has acquired so much  — damn near everything in the booth was Japanese – and he stated that he goes to Japan quite often.  During the conversation he revealed to me that Japanese baseball collectors don’t dabble a whole lot in vintage cards.  This initially amazed me.  Maybe because I am fascinated with the way baseball is revered in that country.  But in reality, the attitude, at least according to this dealer, is on par with  the way things work here.  A lot of people are just not turned on by old cardboard.

Anyway, the reason I stopped at Prestige Collectible was because as I was walking by, I happened to glance down and recognize a card.  It was a 1959 Murakami  JCM 31c Menko Sadaharu Oh rookie.  The card was ungraded – it has some creases – but I knew it was authentic.  And it had a price tag of $175.

I surveyed the card, looked it over once, twice or maybe five times.  And then handed it back to him.  I did not have $175 cash on me.  He of course advised me that he accepted credit cards.

I walked away from the table.  I advised him that I’d consider the purchase.  About 30 minutes later I returned.  The Oh HAD to be mine.  It’s a good thing that I returned when I did.  Apparently someone else had looked at it moments before and also needed some time to think about it.

And after a swipe of a credit card – I had built in some wiggle room in my personal National budget for a purchase like this — I became the proud owner of an authentic Sadaharu Oh rookie card.  LOVE THIS.

Lastly, I’ll just say I had a blast.  The only thing I would change is building in more time to be social.  I spent the after hours time writing so I didn’t really hang out with the other collectors.

Thrift Treasures XXXVI: The Duke of Earl

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , on January 17, 2012 by Cardboard Icons

I’m a treasure hunter.

I dig through the shelves and racks at thrift stores, garage sales and the like looking for something that I can keep for myself or flip for something awesome for my baseball card collection.

One day this summer I discovered a game-used jersey belonging to Hall of Fame Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver.

I tweeted a picture of the uniform, and a few months later, I was asked to write a piece for Beckett Sports Card Monthly documenting the incident, and this extension of my hobby.

The magazine hit my local hobby shop shelves on Tuesday and should be in your stores now.

Whether you decide to buy the magazine or just read it is up to you, but I do encourage you to pick up the magazine and give the article a read. It’ll give you a taste of what kind of success I’ve had thrift store hunting.

Many people see second-hand stores as a place where poor people shop.  I see them as bearers of history and sometimes treasure.

You can see additional Thrift Treasures posts HERE.