Archive for Roger Clemens

The dream Roger Clemens card has arrived

Posted in Mail Day with tags , , , , , on December 21, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

Ask any player collector what they’re dream card is and it’s likely going to be a signed rookie card of some sorts.  Or maybe a 1/1 featuring a sweet patch or button, coupled with an autograph.


For me, with Roger Clemens being my guy, that dream card is a 1991 Topps Desert Shield, signed by the man himself.

Some people may not understand my fascination with this card. I was a big fan of the photography used in the 1991 set and from the outset, I had my eye on the Clemens card because it features him standing at the base of the iconic Green Monster. I’ve owned probably 30 or 40 copies of the standard card, but always wanted the Desert Shield version. For the uninitiated, the Desert Shield version features a gold stamp in the corner. These were cards that were sent (in pack/box form) to the US troops stationed abroad during the Gulf War. The fact that some of these actually made it back to the States is impressive in their own right.

(Side note: Surely some of the boxes never actually made it abroad as sealed wax can be found if your pockets are deep enough. Nonetheless, the mystique surrounding the product remains.)

When I first learned of the cards, I hoped that one day I could own one card — any card at that — from that special set.  My hopes, obviously, were to own the Clemens card but I figured it would cost me a fortune. Remember, this was a quarter of a century ago.

Over time we as a hobby have found new ways to get the cards of which we’d always dreamed. The internet has made the impossible possible as we were no longer limited to just the cards we had in local shops and shows. Even so, I failed to obtain a Desert Shield version of the 1991 card until recently, when I not only located THE card, but one that had been handled and signed by the legend Roger Clemens himself. The autograph is authenticated by JSA, as noted with a sticker affixed to the back with a matching serial number on the COA.

The term “priceless” gets used quit a bit by collectors, but this one truly is in my mind.

Target run reminds me WHY I collect

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Misc. with tags , , , , , , on September 2, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

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I made a brief Target run late last night to grab some necessities and made the obligatory stop in the card aisle. There wasn’t anything “new” to buy, but there was a Fairfield repack 20-pack box that intrigued me. There were a handful of 2014 Prizm Draft Picks packs inside, some 2015 Topps Series 2 packs (Think Kris Bryant rookies) and what was clearly two 1991 Stadium Club packs, along with other stuff.

I’ve opened my fair share of 1991 Stadium Club, but I was still feeling nostalgic about cards at the time. You see this week I think I finally got my son into the hobby; earlier in the day we went to the card shop and he had a blast. (*Side note: A big thank you to Kevin at Stevens Creek Sports Cards for the stack of free commons you gave to my son. He loved them.) I digress.

The Prizm packs, the jumbo 2015 Heritage and Topps Series 2 packs seemed to make the box worth the price, but the two 25-year-old packs really set the hook in me.

For the uninitiated, 1991 Stadium Club was quite possibly one of the finest card sets released in it’s time. Sure, we remember 1989 Upper Deck for the premium Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card.  And we recall 1990 Leaf for having another iconic rookie card in Frank Thomas, as well as dozens of other rookie cards of stars from the time. But 1991 Stadium Club was THE premium baseball card. Every card featured full-bleed photographs, gold foil and high gloss that got you high (read:not really, but if you opened this stuff as a kid, the scent is one you’ll never forget. Packs were several dollars each upon release and star cards — not rookies — were in high demand. Griffey and Thomas were each well over $20 for a while.

My guy at the time was Roger Clemens, the flame-throwing perennial Cy Young award candidate. I couldn’t afford these packs when I was a kid, but I distinctly asking my dad for $5 and then riding three miles on my bike to the local card shop to buy one card — the Roger Clemens 1991 Stadium Club that had been sitting in the show case of Brian’s Books  in Santa Clara, Calif.

Flash forward to last night.  I worked late and then made said Target run.  When I got home I took the above photo, opened all of the packs save for two — the 1991 Stadium Club. Whatever lurked inside these packs was surely worth nothing more than a few pennies. But the nostalgia is everything and that can be priceless. I tore opened the first pack, flipped card by card and then it happened — the second last card:

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There is Clemens is all his glory. That pose. That glove. That spring training uniform. Just like I remember it. True, I could probably get a brick of 500 of this exact card for like $10 because no one cares about him or this card anymore, but none of those would be as valuable as just this one card, for at last I had pulled something I could only dream of as a kid.

Someone asked me recently: WHY do you collect baseball cards?

This is why.

It’s not really about the money. It’s not really an investment because cards rarely appreciate with time under normal circumstances.

It’s about the memories. It’s about how in an instant single worthless card can transport you back a quarter of a century to the moment when you asked a parent for money and trekked clear across town to buy a card of your childhood sports hero.

I have other reasons for collecting what I do. And sometimes I can’t fully explain it. But THIS is probably the strongest reason why.

A Flawless Diamond added to my collection

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

Gem stones and baseball cards. This is hardly a new concept.

There were some “24 karat gold” cards (made my Bleacher if I remember correctly) sold via television home shopping channels during the 1990s that also had stones — rubies if I remember correctly — but as clear as I can remember, Pinnacle Brands was the first company to incorporate actual pieces of stones (diamonds) into mainstream baseball cards when they brought us The Diamond Club inserts in 1996 Pinnacle Zenith.

It was cool in theory. I mean aside from putting cash into cards, actual gem stones are the only other way to ensure that a card in your collection has some real value outside of just this hobby. But those early cards were poorly produced.  They were the same thickness as regular cards and the stone was in a small metal mount that easily came off some of the cards. Furthermore, the size of the stones was tiny. Think smaller baby earrings.

Fast forward a decade and a half and Topps brought us some special 1/1 Diamond parallels with gem stones to coincide with the company’s 60-year anniversary. The design was much approved over one of the rival companies from 15 years earlier. But they were 1/1’s Good luck finding a card of your guy.

And then in recent years, Panini America seems to have taken a liking to the idea of gem stones and cards and the company has used diamonds and what appear to be rubies in some of its higher-end brands.

Watching from a distance, I really wasn’t overly impressed with the cards, or really the notion of the gem stones in the cards. Truth be told, my sour experience with the inserts from 1996 and the difficulty actually obtaining one of the 2011 Topps cards really put me in a negative mindset as it pertains to such cards.

And the more recent Panini cards to me looked more like a way for the company to justify the price point at which the MSRP was being set rather than something collectors actually wanted. While it’s completely unfair of me to make such a broad assumption, it’s pretty clear that there is at least some truth to my thought as the secondary market on these cards remains relatively soft given the quality of card, the fact they contain actual stones, and the limited serial number nature of the cards.

Side note: I’m assuming these stones are real as there is a statement of guarantee on the reverse of the cards. And yes, I have seen some of the videos on YouTube calling their legitimacy into question. But it should be noted that while some didn’t pass the test of jewelers reviewing the cards, many did.

That said, I decided to buy one. Why? Because I found one of my all-time favorite player, Roger Clemens, … and the price seemed cheap.

This 2015 Panini National Treasures Multi-Sport Flawless Diamond card shown above is limited to 20 copies and shows Clemens in his University of Texas Longhorns garb. It has a few factors that might keep it out of the hardcore Clemens collectors, which kept the price low I think, but for $30 it seemed like a good addition to my collection.

So, do I feel any differently now that I have one of these nice, shiny Flawless Diamond cards in hand?

Yes and no. The quality on these cards is fantastic. Thick card stock and flashy foil help the “bling” factor if you will. I do think this one is a cool addition to my collection. But are they for everyone? No.

For the rippers and flippers, these are merely the equivalent of pocket change — nice to have as they are better than a pocket full of lint, or premium base cards, because they’ll eventually decrease the net cost of your break. But they are hardly the chase cards that collectors will hunt with an open wallet, which in turn would make a flipper a small fortune.

For player collectors, I think they present an interesting opportunity especially with prices for most guys being relatively cheap. And by relatively cheap I mean in the $20-$60 range for a hit that hails from a product that commands several hundred dollars sight unseen.

For everyone else it just depends if you want to spend your money on a piece of cardboard with a small diamond. Bottom line, that’s all this really is. There is no significance to the stone, or the paper in which it has been embedded.

Thrift Treasures XLVIII: Count Your Lucky Stars

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , on July 3, 2012 by Cardboard Icons

And I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack with another Thrift Treasures you ya’ll.  And as you can tell from what you see below, I did it via video.  Had a problem though … I shot this with my iPhone and had a problem uploading it as one whole video to YouTube.

Anyway, this might work out better as it’s a lengthy one.

Enjoy.

 

To see more Thrift Treasures posts, click here.

Indictment renews interest in Roger Clemens collection

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , on August 19, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I am a Roger Clemens fan until the end.

News of a federal indictment against Clemens made the rounds Thursday morning, giving lots of people reason to bash the once-heralded Major Leaguer once again.

The first mention I saw of this was a Tweet from NBC’s Darren Rovell that suggested that Clemens’ wife, Debbie, would be dubbed “Miss Remember.”

Clever I thought, as I stood in line waiting for my Starbucks. But why Tweet that today?

No. 3: Roger Clemens

And then the floodgates opened, the news was being reported everywhere.

Admittedly, I laughed. And then I thought about all of the money I had spent on Clemens cards over the years. And while the cards are surely not “worth” what they were a half decade ago — when he was Mr. Cy Young and a first-ballot Hall of Famer — they do remind me of better times.

And it is because of what they remind me of that my Clemens personal collection will remain mine and likely will grow in the future.

Obviously the market for Clemens collectibles has all but died, save for a few holdouts such as myself.

But this also brings about a prime opportunity for Clemens collectors; more of his “rare” cards will be hitting the market soon, and more than likely at reduced prices.

Personally, I’ve wavered in my Clemens collection for the last five to seven years, but none of it has had to do with the allegations of performance enhancing drug use. This new news does make me want to return to building that collection, I’m still missing lots of singles since the early 2000s.

Did Clemens use PEDs? Probably.

Does that make me hate him? No.

Do I think he eventually gets into the hall of fame? Absolutely.

A few days ago I wrote this piece proclaiming such, while drawing some similarities to ne’er-do-wells from the early 1900s.

Bottom line is Clemens was one of the best pitchers in the history of the game, and he afforded me many great memories of the game I love.

Do I expect others to feel the same way about him? No.

You can hate Clemens all you want. You can call him a cheater. You can burn his cards in protest. None of this concerns to me. Just as my decision continue collecting his cards shouldn’t trouble you.

Think “cheaters” don’t get into the Hall of Fame? Guess again.

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , on August 9, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

Let me preface this by saying I have nothing against Mr. Red Faber. Because technically speaking he was not a cheater — he was simply playing within the rules of the game. By all accounts, Faber threw a spitball — now an illegal pitch — en route to winning 250-plus games during his career and guess where he ended up? Yep. Cooperstown.

In addition to his compiled statistics, Faber is credited as being the last American League pitcher to legally throw a spitball, which as the name suggests, is a ball lubed with the pitcher’s saliva in order to give it more movement. The pitch was outlawed after 1920, partly because the pitcher was seen to be cheating. The pitch was also banned because the ball often became discolored and presented a risk to batters. A spitball is what killed Ray Chapman, whom I referenced a few weeks ago in this post.

Faber is not a cheater. He was simply playing within the rules of the game and actually was one of two dozen or so known spitball pitchers of his time, which has been dubbed as the “Dead Ball Era.”

Now let’s draw this parallel to modern times.

Many players from the 1980s through late 2000s are now coming up for consideration for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, an exclusive club to which Mr. Faber was elected in 1964 — a dozen years before his death. A typical discussion nowadays begins and ends with “Yeah, but he played in the Steroid Era.”

Technically, steroids were not added to the banned substance list until 1991, and Major League Baseball didn’t even start testing for any performance enhancing drugs until 2002. So for a good 11 years or so players could have been cheating and there was no real way of telling who was doing what.

Furthermore, the whistleblowers proclaim that a vast number of players were using something to aid their performance, banned or not. So can’t we deduce from that that a good number of baseball players were playing on somewhat of a level playing field?

I understand the argument that some players, particularly superstars like Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Thomas, were never linked to performance enhancing use and that their careers shouldn’t be tainted by the dirty acts of those who have been accused of “cheating.” And I’m not going to sit here and try to justify the use of substances that ultimately can have severe health side effects.

But what I’m saying is there is some precedent on “cheating” and players getting into the Hall of Fame. Whether or not proven to be guilty of using substances to aid their performance, some players from the “Steroid Era” are not unlike those from the early 20th century — they were playing the game within the parameters, or at least were not caught red-handed after said act was deemed illegal. Steroids are steroids, but not all performance enhancing drugs are. And because there was no testing in place to back up anyone’s claims or assertions, how can we seriously make the case that any of these stars suspected of “cheating” from the last two decades should never be in the Hall of Fame?

If a player falls under he umbrella of suspicion and sports writers want to make their opinions known by keeping said player from being elected on the first ballot, that’s fine. But don’t tell me that Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds are not a Hall of Famers. If they don’t get in the first time, they will eventually.

Stupid Inserts Part V: 2000 Pacific Christmas Ornaments

Posted in Stupid Inserts with tags , , , , , , on December 24, 2009 by Cardboard Icons

If ever there was a bigger design fail, I’d like to see it. The visual appeal of these Ornament cards are great; die-cut card stock, holofoil and holiday colors make up a background where upon a player’s image is set. But the 2000 renditions of this set, the first time Pacific did them, was an epic disaster because Pacific decided to include a piece of elastic string which ultimately left every single card with a crease right down the middle.

The string can be moved, but as you can see here, it really doesn’t make much of a difference. If you look at the card from the bottom, you can see how the card stock has conformed around the string.

In 2001 Pacific went back to the well again , and the result was a much better card; this time no string was attached and the hole was made as a pop out for optional usage.