Archive for Johnny Bench

Rookie Card Upgrade: 1968 Topps Johnny Bench

Posted in Rookie Card Upgrade with tags , , , , , on January 9, 2015 by Cardboard Icons


I’ve come a long when in terms of quality for my Johnny Bench rookie. The first Bench rookie I acquired was a raw version that had ink on the back. I kept that for about a year and a half before I found a good deal on the SGC 60 (equivalent to a PSA 5/BVG 5) shown on the top picture here. I had all intentions on crossing it over to a BGS/BVG slab at some point but never got around to it. Then I found a nice deal on a BVG 7 that I could not resist.

The SGC card already has a new home with a good friend and collector, whom I have the Bench SGC for a price lower than I actually paid for it. So he wins.

And the Bench BVG looks amazing in person. Centered, good surface. Only issues are slightly soft corners. It’s a solid 7.

19 Days in Postal Purgatory — story of Johnny Bench SP Auto

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , on October 2, 2014 by Cardboard Icons

So, it’s no secret at this point — I am working feverishly on the 2000 Greats of the Game baseball autographs set.

IMG_4708This set, as I have said here and in one of my recent Beckett Baseball Monthly columns, is easily one of the most iconic sets of our hobby’s history. It is one of the best looking and boasts one of the strongest signature lineups. And even though it is nearly a decade and a half old, there is a loyalty to the brand as many of the harder-to-find autographs fetch a serious premium.

Well, in August at The National, I met two guys who formed a business relationship.  At their booth I spotted a handful of short prints that I needed for the set.  At the show I was able to nab two of the cards, Tommy Henrich and Dave Winfield.  But there were still at least three others that I needed that they had.

In the weeks after the show I reached out to the dealers and they still had the cards that I needed.  We struck a deal for the Johnny Bench, whom I think has one of the best-looking autographs in the sport.  And so I sent a money order to the dealers in exchange for the card. The card then was presumably stuffed into a padded envelope and mailed from New York — en route to me in California — on Sept. 13.

The seller sent me an e-mail advising as such and even provided the tracking number. The package was also insured. I checked the tracking info and it estimated that delivery would be made to me on Sept. 16. I was stoked.

Well, Sept. 16 came. No package.

Then Sept. 17 came. No package.

Sept. 18 came and went and still no package.

I feared that the package might be lost, but I waited a few more days knowing full-well that the package would have fallen behind a bin somewhere. After all, I had a deal just two weeks earlier in which I sent a card from California to Georgia and it took 10 days for it to arrive.  Frustrating, but I know things happen.

Well, I waited and after 10 days I reached out to the dealers to advise that the package had not arrived and that if there was anyway they could check with their post office.  After all, the last shipping information showed that the package had merely departed the post office. No further updates after that.

At this point I realized that I could receive text messages advising me of every time the package is scanned along the route so I signed up for that.

And then just hours after I sent the e-mail to the dealer, I received a text message advising that the package had departed from … New Jersey.

Perplexed I was. But hopeful I remained. (whattup, Yoda!)

So I sent an e-mail to the dealer advising of movement and we both were excited as it seemed that the package should be in my hands within just a few days and then w could proceed with a second purchase.

Well, guess what?  The trail went silent.  After departing New Jersey on Sept. 23, 2014, there was no update for a week. I had no card. I had no clue where the card really was. And on Sept. 30, a week after the last update, I spoke with the dealer by phone and he told me that he had spoken to the post office — they advised to wait another week and if the package had not arrived then to proceed with the insurance claim.

At this point I figured the card was at the bottom of the ocean, stick in the wheel well of some airplane or just sitting in some postal carriers home — theft does occur, we all know that.

And then lo and behold that same night, as I was preparing to put my kids to bed, I get a text message advising that the package was in California.

Overnight I receive multiple text messages advising that it had been scanned here, sent there and ultimately placed out for delivery.

IMG_4707And so, after 19 days in what I’ll call “Postal Purgatory” the card arrived. My 2000 Greats of the Game Johnny Bench short printed auto has arrived and taken its place along with the other legends of this set.





Tales from the Vintage Bargain Bins: 59 Topps Mantle, 68 Bench RC, more

Posted in Newspaperman, Vintage Bargain Bins with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 6, 2014 by Cardboard Icons

So in my previous post, I documented a sweet pull that came from a 2012 Panini America Signature Series pack. That pack came as an impulse buy after I spent an hour digging through the card shop’s Price Friendly Vintage boxes. It’s a great shop for vintage, and I used to go through these boxes more often. But in recent years I’d slowed down this hunt.

But there I was on Wednesday going through the boxes that I had not gone through in more than a year.

There were a couple high-dollar scores, some not-so-significant rookie cards I (think I) needed for my collection, and a few “different” types of cards that caught my attention.

On that note, let’s start with the “different” items.

I’m sure you’ve seen these before, but this is a 1965 Topps Embossed card of Ernie Banks. These were inserted into regular packs in 1965 and offered collectors a “different” type card of star players. There was a badly cut Roberto Clemente in the box for $5, but I liked the value on this Ernie Banks at $1. The card is scuffed and has a pin hole at the top, but it’s still worth 100 pennies to me.


Here are a pair of 1969 Topps Sticker Albums. These also were inserted into packs and basically served as a place to put the player stickers that were also included in some packs. The albums are separated by team and show players inside with their stats. The albums I got are of the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs. The Astros one doesn’t have any stickers, but the Cubs has a few, including Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins. One a side note, the back side of these albums showcase facsimile signatures for players on the team. Surely that was a nifty idea for the time. These were 50 cents each.


IMG_6901IMG_6900IMG_6903And here are a pair of 1970 Topps Booklets, one of Pete Rose and one of Ernie Banks. These are essentially comic books telling the career story of the depicted player. Kinda neat. Banks cost me $2; Rose was $2.50. Pretty good shape considering the card stock is thin like paper.


IMG_6907IMG_6908And now some rookies:

We’ll start with a PSA 7 1981 Topps Jari Kurri rookie. I’m not big on hockey cards, but a PSA 7 for $3 seemed like a goo deal so I nabbed it.


Speaking of graded. Here’s a 1981 Topps Harold Baines BGS 6 for $2. The grade is lower, but looking at the breakdown, the reason this got a 6 is because of the centering. Either way, I’ll pay $2 for older solid rookie cards in BGS slabs.


And lower grades … here’s a creased 1992 Topps Derek Jeter rookie card for $2.50. Not exactly vintage, but it was in the box. I’ll bite at that price. It still presents nicely.

IMG_6913How about a 1967 Topps Sal Bando rookie card. I own one already, but this one looks a LOT better than the one in my collection.

IMG_6904Here’s the rookie card of 1970 American League batting champion Alex Johnson, 1965 Topps.

IMG_6905And the 165 Topps rookie card of Cleon Jones, a key member of the 1969 New York Mets championship run.

IMG_6909So, I went a good five years without acquiring a Bobby Cox rookie. And about a year or so ago, I found one in an antique store for just a few dollars. It’s a gorgeous card. During this trip I located another Cox rookie and it was $3. I like adding those kind of cards to my collection for the price of a pack of cards.

IMG_6906And now the three big purchases of the day.

We’ll start with a 1948 Bowman Marty Marion rookie. Truthfully, I have never seen one of these. This one is in good shape aside from the centering. Price $16. Not bad for a Hall of Famer.

IMG_6914 Creased cards get a bad wrap in our hobby. It’s almost the death of a card if it has been bended. That said, I can’t let a 1968 Topps Johnny Bench rookie card sit in this box for $9. Surely someone can appreciate just owning a Bench rookie. I already have a graded one, so this one will be made available at some point.

IMG_6898And now the main attraction. Remember what I said about creased cards? The crease in this 1959 Topps All Star Mickey Mantle card killed it’s value. But for $15 I cannot — nor shall anyone else — leave an authentic vintage card of perhaps the hobby’s biggest name in a box.