Archive for Roberto Clemente

My kid has shown an interest in cards!

Posted in Dad Life with tags , , , , , , , on November 11, 2018 by Cardboard Icons

“Dad, it’s like real cardboard …”

For a parent card collector these words coming from the mouth of your offspring are priceless, especially when you’ve just introduced them to their first true vintage addition to their fledgling card collection.

I’ve been a baseball card guy for more than three decades, having begun my card adventure when I was just seven years old, shortly after moving to the suburbs from the Big City. And I now have two children, the oldest pushing 10 years, and the other having just turned 8.

I always envisioned that one day my card collecting habits would one day rub off on my children, and up to this point there has been very little interest. Kids these days don’t know what it’s like to not be able to get information or entertainment at the blink of an eye or the touch of a screen. Collectors from my generation and those before know the struggle all too well, having to buy and handle newsprint, and in some cases using baseball cards as our method of learning and remember statistics and even historic events.

I introduced my kids to cards many years ago. They’ve both opened packs; attended shows and shops with me, and often see me rummaging through my boxes and piles. But until recently, there had been very little real interest. I’ve given my kids packs, especially my son, who in many ways is my Mini Me. But he hasn’t truly enjoyed then; he’s busy, swiping and button mashing.

And then just a few days ago, without my prompting, he walked over to the bookshelf, took out his binder of cards – many of which are 2016 Topps Bunt, the last product that he and I really broke together, and he started flipping through his pages.

Like many starting to collect, my son had placed every card he owns into 9-pocket sheets and in a binder with no regard for organization. His baseball cards were next to his football ones, and even some random basketball and Olympics cards sprinkled in.

I watched him from a distance and then he comes over to me and says, “Dad, I’m going to sort these by sport.” The later he brings the binder to me and says, “Can you tell me if any of these are good.”

The question as to whether or not a card is good is very subjective. I know for a fact that none of his cards at the time carried any sort of premium, or really any desire outside of his own. But I am not in the business of crushing budding collector’s souls with a statement like that. And so we flipped through, page by page, and I called out every All Star, every Hall of Famer and every Red Sox, Athletics or Giants card we saw. I wanted him to appreciate what he has, not be so concerned with what the cards are worth.

My son continued to look at his cards for a bit; and I even gave him a larger Collector D-Ring binder, all while teaching him the importance of moving the entire stack of sheets to the flat side of the D-Ring before closing the cover.

My son and daughter went to stay with their mother for a few days and when they returned, I told my son that I had a new card for him, one that I had picked up from a Local Card Shop, one that I never owned as a kid collector. It was a 1995 Pinnacle Ken Griffey Jr., an iconic card showing The Kid being a kid, blowing a massive bubble with his gun. It was my generation’s version of the iconic 1976 Kurt Bevacqua card. I got the card for $1.

I presented the card to my kid and his response was “What the heck?! He and his sister giggled about the large bubble Ken blew in the image. I had succeeded; they cared about the card.

And so I began thinking about items I could gift to my son, cards that he could add to his collection, items that had some sort of meeting, and not just run-of-the-mill commons I had sitting around. I looked through stacks on my desk and found two cards that I thought would be nice additions. The first was a Lonzo Ball Hoops rookie card. Both of my kids know who Ball is because he made an appearance on Fuller House on Netflix, a show the kids watch and re-watch just like I used to watch re-runs of The Wonder Years. They laughed when I showed it to them.

The second card? The aforementioned vintage card, a 1972 Topps World Series Game 4 Highlights card of Roberto Clemente. But before I showed them the card, I told them the story of Clemente, about his baseball skill and his true heroism, his fatal humanitarian effort in Nicaragua.

The kids were astonished by the story. And then I presented the Clemente to my son so he could put it in his binder. The card isn’t worth a ton of money, but it was the kind of card that served as a teaching point, one that I hope he’ll remember forever.

I handed him the card in a penny sleeve and top loader, and he surveyed it and then removed it – By the way, I taught him how to smack the palms of his hands together to insert and remove cards from Top Loaders – so he could place it in his binder next to the aforementioned Griffey card. His words were priceless.

“Dad, it’s like real cardboard…”

I then told him that’s how baseball cards used to be. I pointed to the showcase on the wall and explained that that’s how cards used to made, and every single one of the cards in the case were made the same way, only they were now living inside a plastic Beckett Grading Services slab inside the showcase.

I don’t know if my son will end up loving cards in a week, in a year, in a decade, or if he cares that the cards I’ve accumulated will end up being the possessions of him and his sister at some point. But these last few weeks have been promising; perhaps one day he will understand completely my passion for this hobby, even if it drags me down at times.

Thrift Treasures 91: Couldn’t get to The National so I went antiquing … 

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , on July 29, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

This blog along with my passion for finding items at second-hand stores has led to fantastic opportunities, such as writing on occasion for Beckett Media.  The gig with Beckett has afforded me the opportunity to get to two of the last three National Sports Collectors Conventions, but this year it was it in the cards, so to say.  

So with many of my fellow collectors arriving in Chicago for this years NSCC my family and I headed for one of our favorite towns, which has a slew of antique shops.

The first shop we hit had something I hadn’t seen in this store before. A 2006 Allen & Ginter Rip Card of Roberto Clemente, serial numbered 72/99.

As you can see the price was $29.99 and was now 70% off.  Now, we all know the deal with Rip Cards — they contain an additional card within, something that is rarer than other cards in the set. Well, as you probably guess this is a ripped Rip Card.

Even though the rear of the card is technically missing, the price point of $8.99 after discounts, made it appealing.  The card is even cooler since it features the old serial number style. And of course the 2015 A&G set was just released and it celebrates the 10th anniversary. The Clemente is from that inaugural set.

In the same area where the Clemente was at, there was a box of cards marked 25 cents each. Lots of commons from 1988 and 1989.  In the box was this 1989 Fleer Bill Ripken.  

This is not the vulgar version, this is the “scribble” version, which isn’t a super rare variation, but not super common either. 

And at the very last shop I found this sealed deck of baseball playing cards for $3.50

The front of the box bills this as the “Baseball Card Game,” which judging by the rules, appears to be a take on “Go Fish.” Whatever … I was more excited about the adds featuring Hall of Famers and discussing their stats. There are 13 players features and all have four cards. Each card focuses on a different stat.

Total cost for these treasures: $12.74

You can see more Thrift Treasures posts Here

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.


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.


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.


Thrift Treasures XXXIII: Kiss the rings …

Posted in Newspaperman, Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2011 by Cardboard Icons

Some people spent their weekend digging through bargain bins at The National Sports Card Convention in Chicago; I spent an hour digging through quarter boxes at a local flea market.  All the same, right?

It’s been a while since I’ve written a thrift treasures post.  I actually have three of them in the works, but this one is the most timely seeing as how I obtained these cards today.

I visited a local flea market with my kids on Saturday, and there were two guys who had a few 5,000 count boxes with everything inside priced at a quarter.

Suffice it to say I had a good time digging through the boxes, unearthing cards I hadn’t seen or thought of in nearly two decades.  But you know how I roll.  I’m always looking for a deal.  I wasn’t just buying cards because they evoked emotion.  I bought cards because I knew they were under priced.

In the end I came away with 32 cards that cost me less than the price of three retail packs. Enjoy.

Football season is just about here.  And now more than ever I am excited about the sport. For much of the last five to seven years I had become a one-sport guy.  But I am slowly starting to turn my attention back to the NFL, a league I loved so dearly when I was younger.  And for some reason, cards of Joe Montana have been catching my eye lately.  The Niners have been in Purgatory for almost a decade, but these two remind be of better times in the Bay.

1992 ProLine Gold Quarterbacks Joe Montana

Check out those rings ...

I had a total brain fart when I bought these next two.  I thought Chad Jackson was actually good (still like the card though), and for some reason I thought this 1992 Upper Deck Brett Favre was a shirt print.  Upper Deck is NOT Stadium Club. Doh!

2006 Turkey Red White Chad Jackson rookie

1992 Upper Deck Brett Favre

Funny thing about football.  I’ve often found myself marveling at the greatness of — not the Raiders — but NFL Films.  After I went to this flea market, I came home and watched a special on Ed Sabol, the founder of NFL Films. I was holding my son at the time because he was teething (F-U-N).  And for some reason, the sound of John Facenda’s voice soothed him for a bit.  Anyway, here are two old-time footballers were featured in many of those films.

2000 Fleer Greats of the Game Retrospection Collection Joe Namath

2000 Fleer Greats of the Game Vince Lombardi

And we’ll finish out the football section with a cheap, yet solid rookie card.  What’s funny about this Emmitt Smith rookie is that this one was in the quarte rbox, and the seller had another one set off to the side in a top loader for $3.  Um, yeah.  I’ll take this one.

1990 Pro Set Emmitt Emith Rookie

Before we get into baseball, I bought a few basketball and other sport/non-sport cards to sow off.  Here are a few Michael Jordan cards that I felt compelled to have at this price point.  Should be worth noting that the Jordan “Generations’ card also features Julius Erving on the back, and the card “books” at $10.

1998-99 UD Black Diamond Michael Jordan

1999-00 UD Century Legends Michael Jordan

1999-00 UD Century Legends "Generations" Michael Jordan & Julius Erving.

I chose this Wilt Chamberlain solely because it was an insert card.  It’ll be headed to CheckOutMyCards.

1999-00 UD Century Team "All Century Team" Wilt Chamberlain

This one, too. Meh …

2008 Topps Gold John Stockton #'d /2008

Another brain fart … I got Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee mixed up.  Must have been the heat.  This was a waste of a quarter.

2009 Donruss Americana Jackie Chan

Wrestling cards usually are not my thing unless they evoke emotion.  I mean, none of these things are worth anything anyway, right?  Well, this one stuck out because it is a Chrome/Finest insert from 1996.  It “books” at $10.

1996 Topps WCW/nWo Nitro Chrome Hulk Hogan & Bret Hart

And now let’s get to some baseball.

A few rookie cards to whet the appetite.

1982 Topps Dave Henderson rookie

1096 Donruss "The Rookies" Dan Plesac rookie

1999 Ultimate Victory Jim Morris rookie

A four pack of fun-ness:

1993 Classic "Superheroes" Ken Griffey Jr.

1992 Score "90's Impact Players" Ken Griffey Jr.

1992 Ziploc Bob Gibson

1988 Starling Line Up Ozzie Smith

A pair of cards from 2001.

2001 Fleer Greats of the Game Willie Mays

2001 Topps Heritage Red Back Alex Rodriguez

Love this one:

2002 T206 Mini Tolstoi Red back Joe Tinker

Sticking with 2002 Topps 206, here’s one of those meh inserts.  But it is Pujols.

2002 Topps 206 "Team 206" Albert Pujols

When Albert was hot, his cards were scorching.  And when people’s cards are scorching, people will try to do anything to get an extra nickle out of their sale.  For example this 2002 Stadium Club card.  So many people bought and sold this card under the premise that it was his rookie.  Why?  Well, it doesn’t help that Topps used a “2001” in their small print copywrite.  Nonetheless, the card is 2002, yet still collectible.  I hadn’t owned one until now.  Pretty cool card.  Book is $12; and one sold last week for almost $15.

2002 Stadium Club Albert Pujols

From a current Cardinal slugger to a former … here is another “$10” insert.

2000 Upper Deck "People's Choice" Mark McGwire


Generally I hate reprints.  That said, I was not passing up these 2001 Topps Archives cards for $.25 each.

2001 Topps Archives Jackie Robinson (1952)

2001 Topps Archives Robert Clemente (1955 - Rookie)

And we’ll close with some real vintage:

1978 Topps Pete Rose


1978 Topps Nolan Ryan

Pound for pound this was a solid flea market trip.  Not a ton to get super excited about, but at the quarter price point I am buying stuff all day long.  Seriously, where else are you going to find vintage Ryan and Rose cards for less than two pieces of Bazooka gum?

Total cost for these treasures: $8


A “Swell” vintage haul from my LCS

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , on February 11, 2011 by Cardboard Icons

My affinity to old, smelly cardboard is hard to describe.  The aroma is intoxicating (perhaps literally?) and their sight is captivating.  If it’s old, features a player I like and the price is right, then the card is one I shall own.

I made a trip to one of my local card shops this week to dig through the dozen or so boxes of price-friendly vintage baseball they’ve got sitting around.  It had been about eight weeks since the last time I’d dabbled in these boxes, so there was bound to be something new.  When all was said and done, I spent about 90 minutes and $40 (after a 20 percent discount) on seven oldies but goodies that are now part of my collection.  Enjoy:

1969 Topps Deckle Juan Marichal -- Sticker Price: $1

1969 Topps Deckle Willie McCovey -- Sticker Price: $1.50

1969 Topps Deckle Pete Rose -- Sticker Price: $4

1969 Topps Deckle Roberto Clemente -- Sticker Price: $7

1970 Topps Johnny Bench -- Sticker Price: $5

1969 Topps Hank Aaron -- Sticker Price: $12

1969 Topps Willie Mays -- Sticker Price: $15

1948 Swell Sports Thrills Bob Feller -- Sticker Price: $8