Archive for Roger Maris

Honus Wagner Leads The Pack Of Latest BVG Order

Posted in Mail Day with tags , , , , , , , on April 25, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

Some of you who know me on a personal level know that I’ve been dealing with some  stuff at home, which inevitavlely has affected my time to blog.  That said, thank you for sticking around and reading this regardless of who you are. I’m hoping to write more as time permits.

 photo 68BD5E58-4FC6-4208-8607-6FD87204A013_zps8xrv8xhg.jpgOn Friday I received my latest Beckett Grading order of seven newly slabbed cards and because of the headliner I had to share.

About 6-8 weeks ago I wrote about acquiring a collecting goal, a tobacco-era Honus Wagner. My acquisition of a 1909-11 Colgan’s Chips Wagner was really a highlight of my collecting career.

I began collecting cards in 1987, right about the same time THE 1909-11 T-206 Honus Wagner started to hit mainstream.  Much has been written about said card. And despite the controversy surrounding the grade PSA issued the card — it’s been learned that the card is in fact altered — it is still a significant part of our hobby’s history. The drama has kept the Wagner name synonymous with cardboard icon status.

I digress. Owning a tobacco-era Wagner has always been a goal of mine. And I achieved it in the form of this Colgan’s Chips bubble gum card.
 photo 221BE3E6-F1C0-4A24-B745-029D49A3938F_zpsjuozufuz.jpg
The card was previously a SGC “Authentic” and once in the hands of Beckett Grading I learned that my Wagner was also altered, not unlike THE Wagner. As it turns out, someone had traced some of the words on the back of my Wagner — which likely were damaged/lost when the card was removed from some sort of album — thus earning the “Authentic/Alrered” slab.  I’m fine with this as the goal all along has been to own an authentic Wagner. 
 photo 88306BE2-4681-4D6C-95B6-066616139D61_zpsxwwoi4kz.jpg

There were six other cards in my BGS order, some of which were crossed over from PSA or SGC, and others that were previously raw. I like to have my cards in BGS/BVG holders for continuity.

1948 Bowman Stan Musial rookie, 2.5:
 photo 8C8E62BC-1B15-4341-8BFB-BF8CB31505D1_zpsldgfxsde.jpg

1922 Nielson’s Chocolate George Sisler, 1.5
 photo BB910807-DAB8-46D2-96F8-52EAA9D746C7_zps4xu1deo0.jpg

1922 American Caramels Leon “Goose” Goslin, 1
 photo 3BF2BC38-D286-48C2-8A77-93A7C0390463_zpsl3axjttj.jpg

1957 Topps Jim Bunning rookie, 5:
 photo 79FC7552-6A6A-442D-B341-9E7A9E5048B6_zps8mw62ow4.jpg

1958 Topps Roger Maris rookie, 3:
 photo B63DA065-D19D-4C46-B01E-D4DBD79F9C7C_zpsbu1khyia.jpg

1954 Topps Ted Williams, 1.5:
 photo 70ABFADC-94D5-4C96-9AA1-B068A672A447_zpssaups1hd.jpg

Icon-O-Clasm: “Cutting Corners” (1961 Topps Roger Maris)

Posted in Icon-O-Clasm with tags , , , on November 10, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

  

 

Cardboard Icons’ Top 25 Acquisitions of 2012

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2012 by Cardboard Icons

The year 2012 marked the 25th year in which I had been in the hobby of collecting baseball cards.  Perhaps the highlight of the year was making the trip to Baltimore to attend the National Sports Collectors Convention, which was documented on the Web and in print in a recent issue of Beckett Sports Cards Monthly. Oddly enough, the highlight of that trip to the East Coast really didn’t involve baseball cards at all.  It involved a 35-year-old game-used jersey being signed by the Hall of Famer who wore it.

I digress. I am a baseball card collector.  I eat, sleep and shi… ship …. baseball cards.  So it would only make sense for me to have acquired some cardboard goodies in this milestone year. So here are my top 25 personal collection additions in this, my 25th  anniversary in the hobby.

***

25

1948 Bowman Bob Feller BVG 3

IMG_7128

For years I had owned a copy of Bob Feller’s rookie card, but it was one that had his name written (not by him OR me …) on the front.  To say I needed an upgraded copy of Rapid Robert’s rookie would be an under statement. (From eBay)

***

24

1991 Donruss Elite Legends Series Nolan Ryan /7500

IMG_7129

Series numbered insert card makes my Top 25?  And the card is not inked?  Yes.  This Ryan is from the first Donruss Elite Series insert set and is one of the toughest to find from that year.  As you might know I am working on completing the Elite Series sets from 1991 through 1993, including the autographs.  This won’t be the last Elite card on this list. (From eBay)

***

23

1951 Bowman Whitey Ford BVG 2

IMG_7130

Card #1 from one of the greatest sets every made, and it’s the rookie card of one of the game’s best post-season pitchers.  Ford’s rookie card is easy to find, in pretty much whatever shape you want, and can be had at different price points.  What made this one appealing to me was the fact that It was already graded by Beckett Grading, which is my preferred company for my collection.  It also helps that I was able to acquire this card without “spending” money. (From COMC)

***

22

1975 Topps Robin Yount (Raw=BVG 7.5)

IMG_7131

When buying raw vintage cards online, one must be wary of condition.  Cards that look like they are mint often are flawed, or have been trimmed.  I saw this Yount in raw form and it had ZERO bids … all the way up until the last second (literally) when I threw a $5 bid on the card.  I won.  I received the card and it looked authentic and unaltered.  A few months later It was sent to BGS with one of my orders and it came back a 7.5, as you see here. (From eBay)

***

21

2004 Bowman Chrome Felix Hernandez Rookie Card Autograph (RAW=BGS 8)

IMG_7132

You see the BGS 8 and immediately move along.  I get it.  Current cards graded an 8 are lesser specimens in our hobby. But this card was raw when I got it, and I got it considerably lower than I expected to ever pay for a King Felix chrome auto rookie.  The overall grade really doesn’t bother me.  The signature is perfect and the card looks better than the grade that its been assigned. (From eBay)

***

20

1992 Score Franchise Autographs Carl Yastrzemski /2000

IMG_7133

I detailed over the summer my quest to scratch an itch that started some 20 years ago … to obtain one of the three signed cards from this iconic chase card set.  When this card popped up on Check Out My Cards over the summer, it had to be mine.  (From COMC)

***

19

1992 Score Franchise Autographs Stan Musial /2,000

IMG_7134

Like the aforementioned Yaz auto, this Musial was a card I’ve always wanted.  This one means even more to me because I’ve pulled two of the un-signed versions from packs over the last two decades.  Additionally, the quality of Musial’s signature has worsened over the years due to his age.  It’s a beautiful thing to see one of these cards in person signed in gold ink and numbered on the back in black calligraphy pen. (From eBay)

***

18

1991 Donruss Elite Signature Series Ryne Sandberg /5,000

IMG_7135

Can you imagine what it was like in 1991 to open a pack of 1991 Donruss (the ones with the blue borders) and seeing a gold card in the middle of the pack with the signature of one of the game’s premier players?  I wish I had the pleasure of having that happen to me at the time, but I wasn’t so lucky.  That said, this was the first signed card in the Elite Series set, one that I needed for my set.  My only gripe is that I wish Sandberg and Donruss agreed to use a different color pen or picture so that the loopy signature could be more visible. (From eBay)

***

17

2006 Fleer Greats of the Game Decade Greats Kirby Puckett Autograph /30

IMG_7136

Generally speaking I try to avoid sticker autographs, but this is a case where the price was right.  Kirby Puckett autographs are not cheap.  He has a big fan base and simply put he doesn’t have many certified autographs because he died at such an early age.  While I’d always wanted a Puckett auto for my collection, this one came at a price that was about 65 percent cheaper than an identical one that was listed on eBay. (From COMC)

***

16

1949 Bowman Duke Snider (PSA 1 – BVG 3)

IMG_7137

I had Willie.  I had Mickey.  So I needed “The Duke.”  As a collector of baseball rookie cards, there were some glaring holes in my collection and among them was this Snider and the next card … (From eBay)

***

15

1949 Bowman Roy Campanella (PSA 1 – BVG 3)

IMG_7138

Mr. Roy Campanella.  I picked this up along with the aforementioned Snider from the same seller on eBay.  They were graded PSA 1’s, and from the images on the auction, it appeared to me they looked better than the Grade One suggested.  Granted that grading is really a subjective business, but people do put a lot of stock into the visual appearance of a card, as well as the number that a third-party grader has attached to it.  Happy to own both of these … big rookie additions.  Besides they rounded out my Dodgers Mt. Rushmore of Rookie Cards. (From eBay)

***

14

2005 Topps Chrome Refractors Andrew McCutchen /500 (Raw – BGS 9/10)

IMG_7139

There was a time recently when I itching to own just the basic auto version of this card.  McCutchen has been one of my favorite up-and-coming players and I needed to add this to my collection to fill that void.  Well, I bought a basic auto for $40 on eBay late in 2011.  But when this one popped up on eBay (raw), I snagged it for $50.  And when I re-sold my basic auto for about the same price, I essentially upgraded my McCutchen auto rookies at no cost to me.  Also love that it came back a BGS 9. (From eBay)

***

13

1909-1911 T206 Polar Bear Walter Johnson (SGC 1 – BVG 1)

IMG_7140

Over the last five years I’ve acquired a half dozen or so tobacco era cards.  That’s not a lot, but I did focus primarily on the big stars from that era.  Late last year I added Cy Young, but all along I’ve been missing a century-old card of The Big Train.  In February I added this Johnson to my collection.  I love this card.  (From eBay)

***

12

2011 Bowman Prospects Bryce Harper Autograph BGS 9.5/9

IMG_7141

This card was once the holy grail of Harper cards.  OK, I realize how ridiculous that sounds since Harper is merely 20 years old and his popularity is still rising.  But still, this IS his first certified Bowman auto, which gives it iconic status in my opinion.  I boguht a TON (almost literally) of 2011 Bowman and the best thing I pulled was a Michael Pineda retail auto.  So when I had a shot sat this one on COMC, I snagged it. Nice addition without actually spending real money. (From COMC).

***

11

2010 Topps Chrome Rookie Autographs Refractor Stephen Strasburg (Raw – BGS 9/10)

IMG_7142

This is the only card on this list that was actually pulled from a pack.  Earlier this year I was checking Toys R Us stores for discounted packs and ran across a stash of 2010 Topps Chrome baseball packs at 50 percent off.  Knowing I had a shot at Strasburg, Starlin Castro and Mike (Giancarlo) Stanton autos, I decided to take a shot.  Well, the one time I did NOT tape my pack-breaking session, this shiny gem popped out of the center of a rack pack.   It’s not his legendary 2010 Bowman auto, but it is chrome, shiny and pack-pulled.  It goes nicely with the aforementioned Harper; AND looks awesome with the aforementioned Walter Johnson, to whom Strasburg has been compared. (From a pack at Toys R Us)

***

10

2005 Bowman Chrome Refractors Matt Kemp Autograph (Raw – BGS 9/10)

IMG_7143

I like to chase things.  Sometimes I get caught up in the hype and buy at the wrong time, other times I sit back and wait.  In this case I waited and boy did it pay off.  Back in May, everyone was talking about how Matt Kemp had finally arrived as the best player in the game.  As such, his Bowman Chrome autos were flying off eBay at crazy rates — $250+ for base autos, $500+ for refractors, and the such.  Well, Kemp got hurt and people holding Kemp autos looked for ways to recoup.  That’s where I stepped in.  I snagged this refractor in raw condition less than the price of what the base autos were going for during the height of Kemp Mania. (From eBay)

***

9

1973 Topps Mike Schmidt/Ron Cey rookie BVG 8

IMG_7144

I’ve owned a Mike Schmidt rookie card for years.  I bought a low-grade copy for about $50 about four years ago.  I was happy.  But I was not satisfied.  I located this one on eBay with a bad title more than six months ago.  I thought the price was right for such a SOLID grade on a vintage classic rookie card. (From eBay)

***

8

1967 Topps Tom Seaver rookie card BVG 3

IMG_7146

There are cards on my ever-growing want list that never seem like a priority.  Seaver’s rookie had been one of them.  Seaver is a Hall of Fame player who never really seems to be at the top of the hobby hierarchy.  I get it.  But I had my mind set on owning one of these cards this year and the opportunity was right.  The card was graded by BGS and was in the right price range for me.  Winning combo.  Another biggie knocked off my list (From eBay)

***

7

1992 Donruss Elite Signature Series Cal Ripken Jr. BGS 9/10 /5,000

IMG_7145

Um, wow.  I never thought I’d own this card.  I suppose that could be applied to anything on this list, but this one is a tough one for me.  One of the reasons I never chased this card was the fact that I already owned a Ripken auto.  But I’ve come to the conclusion that not all autos are the same.  This fact is even more magnified when you’re working on a Elite Series set that simply cannot be complete without the autos.  Sandberg — the first auto in the Elite Series — was already on this Top 25 list. Ripken was several spots higher. (From eBay)

***

6

1949 Bowman Satchel Paige rookie card (SGC 1-BVG1.5)

IMG_7147

Talk about iconic rookie cards that remained illusive to me.  I’ve tried several times to acquire a Satchel Paige rookie card.  But the deal never added up to me … maybe the price was too high, maybe the card was in too bad of a condition.  But this year, a short while after returning from The National, I found the deal that made sense to me.  This card was graded by SGC prior to it settling in my collection.  The main problem is a single pin hole. I have no issue with that, I mean look at this card.  It has great “eye appeal.” (From eBay)

***

5

1959 JCM 31C Murakami Sadaharu Oh rookie card (Raw-BVG 1.5)

IMG_7148

FINALLY!  I’ve been waiting and waiting for the right 1959  Oh rookie to call mine.  I found mine not online, but in Baltimore!  When I learned earlier this year that I would indeed be heading to my first National Sports Collectors Convention, I had one target in mind:  Find a Sadaharu Oh rookie card.  Low and behold I found one being sold by one of the nation’s biggest Japanese card dealers and the price was significantly less than what I had been looking at on eBay.  Love the card and the fact that I bought this thing during a very special trip.  It could be the top card on this list, but there are four more cards that are better in my opinion. (From The National)

***

4

2001 SPX Albert Pujols rookie card autograph (BGS 8.5/9)

IMG_7184

So, I’ve come to the realization that the 2001 Bowman Chrome Albert Pujols rookie auto is simply a card that I will probably never own.  It’s a beautiful card for sure, but I can’t shell out three grand for that.  So, what is the next best thing?  Well, you’re looking at it.  For the last three years I’ve been contemplating adding one of these SPX auto rookies to my collection.  I believe this is the only other on-card rookie card auto for Pujols.  He has a few sticker rookie autos, and on-card rookie-year autos.  But they are not on-card rookie cards.  Some people don’t care.  I get that.  But I do. Well, like the aforementioned Harper auto, this badboy came to me from COMC.  In a nutshell, I was able to add this card to my collection without actually spending any money … I essentially traded my low end stuff (via port sale) and used the funds to purchase one big card. Yeah, buddy! (From COMC)

***

3

1961 Topps Roger Maris autograph BVG/JSA

IMG_7150

So, have I mentioned that I love COMC?  This is another Check Out My Cards special.  Maris died at a relatively young age and his autographs are tough to come by.  They usually cost $450+ on eBay and that’s for ones that don’t look like this.  Here we have a Maris auto signed in ballpoint pen on a 1961 Topps MVP card and it is already authenticated and slabbed by BGS/JSA. Um, thank you! (From COMC)

***

2

1992 Score Franchise Autographs Mickey Mantle/2000 BGS 7.5/10

IMG_7149

Earlier on this list, we saw similar signed cards from Carl Yaztrsemski and Stan Musial.  The third guy featured in the iconic Franchise auto series is none other than Mickey Mantle.  Two years before Mantle put a sharpie on cardboard for Upper Deck, the Yankee legend did the same for Score signing 2,000 of these single-signed cards.  To say these were a tough pull is an understatement.  Mantle autos are not hard to obtain, but they are not cheap.  This card in particular seems to have increased in demand in recent months.  It also should be noted that the signatures on these cards tend to fade.  This one is perfect. (From eBay)

***

1

1933 Goudey Babe Ruth rookie card (SGC 1 – BVG 1)

IMG_7151

Late in 2011, I posted my three goals for the upcoming year, and at the top of the list was obtaining a 1933 Babe Ruth “rookie card.”  True, Ruth had some cards prior to this one.  But his cards in this Goudey set, and in Sport Kings, are considered as his “rookie card.”  Well, the goal was to get one of these for my collection, and by the end of February, that goal was obtained.  It was the earliest card on this list that I acquired in 2012, and through all of the additions, it remained at the top card of the year. (From eBay)

***

Which of these 25 would you say is the best?

Introducing the “Semiannual Card Shop Tour” (Part I)

Posted in Semiannual Card Shop Tour with tags , , , , , , , on October 17, 2011 by Cardboard Icons

About 18 months ago I discovered a new-to-me card shop about 45 miles from my home.  The first time I went there it was awesome.  The shop did things differently.  They sold items of their own, and they did a little consignment among their better customers.  The end result was binders upon binders of cards that were decently priced.

On Monday I decided to venture out that way and incorporate a trip to another shop that is about 35 miles from my home.  I’ve made this trek before to both stores, but my trips always seem to be about six months apart.  Henceforth, I am dubbing this journey from here on out as the “Semiannual Card Shop Tour.”

There was nothing I was looking for in particular except for a deal.

Let me start off by saying that the card shop that was furthest from my house was a complete waste of time. There was nothing new in terms of bargain singles, and judging by the conversation I overheard between employees things didn’t sound too promising for this card shop.

The only thing I bought there were two packs of 2011 Topps Update and a single pack of 2011 Topps Heritage MILB.  The card shop doesn’t allow you to pick your own packs out of fear that someone might be searching, so they do all the grabbing for you.

Here are the results:

2011 Topps Update Pack One:

201 Topps Update Pack Two:

2011 Topps Heritage MILB

Despite the fact that I really don;t like other people picking my packs, I guess I can;t complain much.  Got a short print diamond parallel from the first Topps pack and a blue tint relic from my Heritage MILB pack.  Nothing major, but much better than a pack of commons.

*  *  *

One of the great things about living in the San Francisco Bay Area is that there are quite a few card shops to choose from.  It might take a bit of driving to get to them all, but they are out there.  In particular there are three stores in my area that are owned by the same guys, but each store is unique.  One deals heavily in vintage, the other has a good mix of both, and the third has a pretty good size collection of bargain game used and relic cards among a mix of everything else.

The latter of the three shops was my destination on Monday.

I went through a handful of binders of autographs and relics, and then hit a showcase with better autos and relics that were all marked half off.  I also picked up the same cocktail of packs that I got at the first store.

Here are the results:

2011 Topps Update Pack Three:

2011 Topps Update Pack Four:

2011 Topps Heritage MILB Pack Two:

Pretty solid results from these packs.  I got to pick my own, which I had mixed emotions about.  There were only six or seven packs in each of the boxes remaining.  My expectations were low, and the result was a Paul Goldschmidt rookie, a Roger Maris  short print variation and an autograph.

So, wanna see the singles I brought home?

Stay tuned, Part Two is coming shortly … Part Two HERE.

Vintage Bargain Bin Finds: HOF Rookies, Stars

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

I made a trip to one of my local card shops a few days ago to dig for a 1960 Topps rookie card of Ted Wieand, whom myself and Beckett’s Chris Olds learned about after Topps posted on Twitter an image of the retired Reds pitcher signing baseball cards.

1958 Topps Curt Flood rookie

Why was I intrigued by Wieand? Well, for starters, Topps misidentified Wieand as Ted Weiland — a name that turned up nothing on Google. Even the Topps rep had no clue who he was. A few minutes later we determined who the guy was — which was also intriguing. Wieand only played in six games (one in 1958 and five in 1960), but he was involved in a trade for Curt Flood in 1957 — a year before his rookie card was produced. Flood, a solid major leaguer, is probably best known for actions a decade later that helped shape free agency. One more thing on Wieand: His full name is Franklin Delano Roosevelt Wieand. I guess we know where his parent’s political allegiance was. I’m always fascinated by players who were named after presidents.

So yeah, I went to the card shop and … there was no Wieand. Bummer. BUT I did find 16 vintage cards that soothed my itch for old cardboard. I managed to cross off 10 rookie cards from my ultimate rookie collection, upgraded one rookie I already had and added a few other vintage beauties.

1963 Topps Cookie Rojas

We start with Cookie Rojas‘ 1963 Topps rookie card. Oddly enough, Cookie is also linked to Curt Flood. Actually, Cookie was involved in the trade that set the Flood ordeal into motion. I also wanted the card because this is the father if Victor Rojas, formerly of the MLB Network. Victor Rojas is soooooooo much better than Chris Rose, who was recently added to the Network. Price: $2

1963 Topps Rookie Stars, 562

Honestly, I bought this card because it was a cheap high number rookie that I thought featured two brothers, Don and Ken Rowe. As it turned out it’s just a high number rookie with two guys who share the same last name. It should be noted that this card features a Jewish baseball player named here as Randy Cardinal, who made only one Major League start. Cardinal’s real name: Conrad Seth Cardinal. Also, this is a rookie card of Dave McNally, the only pitcher to hit a grand slam in a World Series game. If you didn’t know, now you do. Price: $2

1960 Topps Gordy Coleman rookie

This was the first card that I pulled out of the box for purchase. It just looks cool. I love that old school Reds logo Price: $1

1953 Topps Rip Repulski rookie

Seriously, how bad-ass is it to have your nick name on your rookie card.  Because I know you’re curious, his full name is Eldon John Repulski. Yes, Eldon, NOT Elton. Price $3.

1972 Topps Doyle Alexander rookie

I love rookie cards of mediocre pitchers. Price $2

1971 Topps Al Hrabosky rookie

And here comes a closer run.

Al Hrabosky rookie. Some have credited this man, known as “The Mad Hungarian,” as the closer who started all the nonsense (facial hair, wild antics, etc) to psych themselves up. Word. Oh, and look, it’s a humble Hrabosky without a Fu Man Chu : Price: $2

1973 Topps Goose Gossage rookie

Second closer rookie card I picked up is a sweet one because it is of a Hall of Famer. Gossage is one of only five firemen to make it to the Hall of Fame. Whose NOT going to pay $2 for a HOF rookie? C’mon, man. I don’t care if it is off-center.

1977 Topps Bruce Sutter rookie

And another HOF closer rookie card, Bruce Sutter. Oddly enough I paid the most for this card, but the extra couple bucks was not going to deter me. It’s not every day you get to add yet another Hall of Fame rookie card for about the price of two packs of 2010 Topps baseball. Price: $5

1975 Topps Robin Yount rookie

Since I’m on a roll of Hall of Fame rookie, might as well show this one off. This has some water damage, but presents pretty damn nicely. This will theoretically replace the Mini version I have in my collection. Seriously, whose NOT a buyer of this card at $5“FIVE DOLLARS, WHOSE GOT ‘EM?!” /Don West voice.

1970 Topps Larry Bowa

If there is one thing I love other than rookies of mediocre pitchers, it’s rookie cards of mediocre team managers and coaches who can’t seem to fade away. Here’s a Larry Bowa rookie for which I paid $2.

1968 Topps Hal McRae rookie

And one of Hal McRae. Because of the Nolan Ryan/Jerry Koosman from this 1968 Topps set, I tend to me over-fascinated with the other rookies from this set. Price $2

1963 Topps Johnny Pesky

And while we’re on the topic of managers, might as well show off this Johnny Pesky card, which I thought was a neat, cheap addition to my Red Sox collection. Pesky is a manager here. Price: $1

When I’m not working on my rookie card collection, I like to turn my attention to my Topps Number Ones project, which is moving along quite nicely. One of the cards I was missing is this 1965 League Leaders card, which I’ve bid a few times on eBay but have lost. This was one of four copies this card shop had, and it was the cheapest. Price: $5

1966 Topps Harmon Killebrew

When I look through my collection, one of the things I look for are vintage star cards. I have thousands of rookies from all eras, but I tend to gravitate toward simple base cards of Ted Williams, Pete Rose, Willie Mays, etc. Killebrew isn’t exactly in the same class, but I really like seeing his cards in my collection. Adding this one, even with some creases, was a no-brainer for the $1 price tag.

1965 Topps Willie Stargell

Much like Killebrew, there is a certain mystic when it comes to Willie Stargell. I still don’t have his rookie card — need to get it by the way — but for now this third-year issue will suite me fine, especially since it had a $3 price tag.

1963 Topps Roger Maris

And lastly we’ve got a sharp vintage Roger Maris card. There is one obvious problem with this card, part of it is pink. But when you factor in that the corners are pretty sharp, centering is pretty solid and there isn’t a single crease, it becomes a must have. Especially when the price tag reads $5.

For McGwire, the past has become the present and future

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , on January 12, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

Mark McGwire and Roger Maris rookie cards will forever be linked.

1999 Topps HR Record, No. 61

My jaw dropped, my heart skipped a beat; for a few seconds I wondered if someone had sent the Associated Press a false statement reportedly on behalf of Mark McGwire. But within minutes, it became increasingly clear. This was not a joke: Mark McGwire was admitting to using steroids.

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Mark McGwire was absolutely one of my favorite baseball players. Before he even stepped into a St. Louis Cardinal uniform, McGwire was a baseball hero to me. I had the Jose Canseco-Mark McGwire “Bash Brothers” poster on my wall; I emulated his swing when I played sandlot ball; I rushed home after school to catch the last inning or two hoping that Bill King, who announced the A’s games over the radio, would call another of McGwire’s homers. All of this was before the 1998 season, the one that turned McGwire into a figure that transcended sports.

The fact that McGwire used steroids is not what shocked me; it’s the way the news came out. There wasn’t some reporter who broke the story, it came from McGwire himself in a statement to the Associated Press, and then the rest of the world. And it happened on a Monday, not some Friday afternoon as these things usually go down.

And on the same day, McGwire agreed to an hour-long interview with  Bob Costas — who  is a baseball fan like you and I — but also a damn good broadcast journalist. This wasn’t an Alex Rodriguez moment where he threw on some lip gloss and had a sitdown with softball thrower Katie Couric in prime time. This was Bob Costas, who McGwire knew was going to pelt him with real question after real question.

1989 Upper Deck

I watched that interview three times Monday night, and each time I winced at what I was hearing. If you ask the big-time baseball writers, they’ll tell you McGwire failed because he didn’t confess to everything. There were no details about where, when and how much. But rather some vagueness to the amounts of performance enhancing drugs. McGwire says he experimented with them in 1989, and then started using them in 1993 to help recover from injuries. He then used them on and off throughout the rest of the decade, and added in some Human Growth Hormone, as well as the then over-the-counter supplement Androstenedione.

To a person looking for every little detail, the answers were not enough. In fact, even if he had told us tons of details, many would still be dissatisfied with his confession because a person who has lied rarely tells a complete truth; they always hold something back. At least that is the perception of many.

Ball signed by Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco; obtained in person by a friend who gave the ball to me.

For me, and many fans, I do think McGwire has given us what we needed to hear. We needed to know that he used performance enhancing drugs; that he did so early in his career, and that he did so during his single-season home run record-setting season. What no one is buying is that he used them solely for healing his injuries à la Andy Pettitte; so that “my body can feel better.” I’m calling B.S. I mean it’s not like people play the lottery just to feel the thrill of winning, they love the prizes that come with it too. I digress.

What McGwire did do though, was tackle this problem head-on, even if it was several years after it really started to boil over. I believe the timing of his answers were in-fact linked to a perceived legal issues about his non-statement statement to Congress five years ago. But the timing was also strategic in the fact that it came still two and a half months before the baseball season started. Sure the issue will crop up at different points in the future, but it will, for the most part, die down unless someone unearths some stunning fact that will need yet another confession.

What we did learn on Monday, though, that I think is telling is that McGwire still believes there is a shred of credibility in his career statistics. There is no way we as fans can simply look at McGwire’s home run and walk-rate totals and say he is qualified to be a Hall of Famer; I don’t think McGwire would argue that. That is why he ducked that question at the end of the interview: “I’ll let those with votes decide.” We can remember him as being one of the best of his generation, and I think that’s about as far as we can go at this point. His achievements of the 1998 season are already commemorated in Cooperstown, I think that is good enough for now.

1998 Leaf Rookies & Stars SP Checklist w/ Sammy Sosa

As news of the McGwire confession broke on Monday, I did start thinking that if anyone else was going to confess to using performance enhancing drugs, then that would have been the best day to do it. What better way to end the years of suspicion than to have some of the biggest names suspected of using enhancers to admit their guilt all at once. It would have been a massive pill to swallow, but we all could have moved forward. But the problem is that some of the suspected cheaters — including a guy who is my favorite all-time player — are facing legal troubles linked to their deceitfulness. They’ve dug themselves so deep in a hole that it is impossible for them to get out of it unless they are granted immunity … and we all know that’s not going to happen.

As far as collectibles, I really am not sure what bearing this will have on McGwire’s items. They’ve pretty much already hit rock bottom. I remember giving a speech during college as an assignment discussing the increasing price of Mark McGwire’s rookie card. I spoke about how the card went from $15 to more than $250 during the 1998 season. I almost feel like I should go back and do another speech given that his rookie can be had for about $10 now. I digress.

I do wonder if interest in McGwire’s items will pick up a bit. In the short-term, people may go nuts for his autograph just to say they have one. But long-term I wonder if his confession will resonate with collectors, who may find themselves again interested in the items they had once abandoned as suspicion of guilt built around the slugger.  Will McGwire’s rookie ever reach the heights they once had? No. But that does not mean that some collector’s can’t find it in their hearts to pay an extra couple of bucks for good condition McGwire cards. I do think he still has a following, even if much of his achievements were built through the ingestion of a pill.

Rookie Card Showcase: 1960 Topps Jim Gentile

Posted in Rookie Card Showcase with tags , , , , , , , , on December 28, 2009 by Cardboard Icons

This is part 19 of an ongoing series. To see the rest of this series, click here.

About two weeks ago I obtained a 1961 Topps Jim Gentile card from one of my local card shop’s “Price Friendly” vintage boxes. I purchased the card with the intention of trading it, but later learned a bit about Gentile, including the fact that he finished third int he American League MVP voting in 1961 behind Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, teammates who made a run at Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record. In short, Gentile is the answer to a trivia question that some day could net someone a large amount of money. You can thank me later.

Over the weekend, I stopped at another shop — one of the sister stores for the shop I mentioned in the previous post —  and poured through the cheap vintage boxes there. Lo and behold there was Gentile’s rookie for $2. I’ll take that.