Archive for rookie card

Collecting Goals for 2018

Posted in Commentary, Misc. with tags , , , , , , , on January 18, 2018 by Cardboard Icons

Every year for the last decade or so I’ve sat down in late December or early January and penned a piece in which I declared goals for the upcoming year.

Well, I’m kind of off to a late start here as we are closing in on Week Three of 2018. Nonetheless, collecting has been on my mind lately, and thus it felt appropriate to declare my goals for the upcoming year in hopes that it will help keep me focused.

Without further delay, here are Cardboard Icons’ top five collecting goals for 2018.

GOAL #1: No more duplicates*

A reoccurring theme in recent years has been this ideology of thinning out the herd. In other words, stop hoarding stuff that doesn’t matter to me. If you buy packs, boxes, spots in breaks or whatever, then you’re likely to at some point come up on some duplicates. For me, this has sometimes led to owning two, three, or four … or 15 or 20 of the same card — and usually without doing it on purpose. So, it is my intent to get rid of extra stuff – with few exceptions of course. I own three of four 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookies and all will stay with me.  But any extra 2017 Aaron Judge rookies shall be moved.

GOAL #2: Buy packs in moderation, if at all

I can’t say that I’ll never buy a pack again, but in 2018 I plan to stay the hell away from the card aisle at Target. Why? Because nothing that I pull from those packs really conforms to the standards of my collection.  Most of the time those purchases are made out or boredom, to help suppress feelings from other aspects of my life, or simply because I’m getting caught up in the internet hype of products or prospects.  I won’t declare that I’ll go pack free – buying cards has been in my blood for three decades. But I will exercise restraint and buy only in moderation; not because something in trendy or a product is hot. It’s so easy to dump $20-$40 into products that ultimately wind up as clutter. I refuse to do that in 2018.

GOAL #3: Buy 10 new HOF rookie/tobacco era cards

In 2018, I shall regain the focus of my collection and return to the icons of the sport, the icons of cardboard. Too much time has been spent in recent years chasing hot players who ultimately wouldn’t be able to sniff the cleats of the guys whose cards I REALLY enjoy. And so this year I will find 10 new Hall of Fame members whose rookie card or tobacco-era cards I do not own because these are the cards I love. These are the cards I will pass onto my children. These are the icons; they are the namesake of this blog.

GOAL #4: Get raw HOF rookie cards/tobacco-era cards slabbed

At this time I have roughly a dozen tobacco-era cards of HOFers that are not encased in Beckett Vintage Grading slabs and the lack of continuity in my collection is bugging me. These include Chief Bender, Adie Joss, Mordecai Brown, Miller Huggins, Hughie Jennings, and so forth. The fact that they’re just resting in my collection outside of a uniform slab is driving me insane. And so, when the time and money is right, I shall do what I do and send them to BGS for encapsulation. And when they’re slabbed, they can be properly displayed with the rest of their HOF brethren.

GOAL #5 Have Fun

So much has happened in my life over the last few years that I’ve lost sight of the joy that this hobby has brought me over the last three decades.  I enjoy collecting – it’s fun. I enjoy chasing cards that I never dreamed of owning. I enjoy obtaining a card that my grandfathers or great-grandfathers would have owned if they loved baseball. I enjoy sharing hobby experiences with my children. And so I shall do only the things in this hobby that make me happy and that are fun.


Cardboard Icons

Collector of Hall of Fame tobacco era and Rookie cards

Collector of Roger Clemens and Clayton Kershaw.

You can reach me on Twitter and Instagram @cardboardicons. You can also e-mail at

Mint and slabbed: 1985 Clemens Topps rookie finds new home

Posted in New Addition with tags , , , , , on January 14, 2018 by Cardboard Icons

True story: When I was 11 years old I entered the sixth grade with a binder decorated in Roger Clemens pictures. I was that hardcore of a fan. And my collection at the time consisted of damn near every copy of every Roger Clemens card I could find.

Hell, during one trip to card show in the mall I purchased some 60 copies of a 1989 Classic Travel Orange Clemens card one dealer had for sale.

I digress, one of my prized possessions was a single 1985 Topps Clemens rookie card I purchased from a local card shop in 1990. I forget how much the card cost me, but surely it was in the $15 range — which was about the same price as a box of packs from the current year at the time. So there was a debate: a single card versus a whole box of cards.

That card was THE Clemens card for me. The 1984 Fleer Update XRC was a figment of my imagination really. I figured there was no way on earth that I’d ever own the card as it was valued at the time in the $350 range.

So the Clemens Topps rookie was something I never wanted to let out of my sight. So what did I do? I placed it into a Card Saver I and taped the Card Saver to the inside of my binder.

And so there it sat every day. When I got sick of listening to the teacher I opened my binder and looked at the Clemens, an escape from school work and a journey to baseball card land, where all things were positive and fun.

Fast forward to 2018. I have the Clemens Fleer Update rookie — two in fact; although it should be noted they’re worth about a third of what they went for in 1990. But I hadn’t owned a GRADED version of that beloved 1985 Topps Clemens.

The original one I owned is still in my collection. Remarkably it isn’t thrashed, but it was never mint, always near-mint at best.

And so one day recently while perusing the Clemens stuff on eBay I came upon a BGS Topps Clemens rookie, a solid Mint 9. It’s not rare, but I had to make this one mine. And so I did — for a whopping $15, the same price I paid for my original Clemens rookie.

Ben Aguirre, Jr.

Former Beckett Baseball columnist and writer.

Collector of Hall of Fame tobacco era and Rookie cards.

Collector of Roger Clemens and Clayton Kershaw.

You can reach me on Twitter and Instagram @cardboardicons. You can also e-mail me at

In Memoriam: Bobby Doerr (April 7, 1918 – Nov. 13, 2017)

Posted in In Memoriam, Misc. with tags , , , , , on November 14, 2017 by Cardboard Icons

1939 Play Ball Bobby Doerr Rookie Card

In Memoriam: Darren Daulton: Jan. 3, 1962 – Aug. 6, 2017. 

Posted in In Memoriam, Misc. with tags , , , , , , on August 7, 2017 by Cardboard Icons

Darren Daulton, 1985 Fleer Update XRC 

In Memoriam: Jose Fernandez (July 31, 1992 – Sept. 25, 2016)

Posted in In Memoriam with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 25, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

When I stop to post something on a baseball player who has passed away, I typically will show their rookie card — or something close to it — and leave it at that. Today, I will do something more.

img_0245By now you’ve heard the news, Marlins ace pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed early Saturday in a boating crash. He was 24.

I repeat, TWENTY FOUR.

People come and go in our real lives, usually not at or before the age of 24. And if by chance they do pass at a young age we all stop and call it unfortunate. This case, albeit involving an athlete, a budding superstar, a guy paid millions to play whats been called  kid’s game, is no different.

The death of Mr. Fernandez has struck me like no other athlete’s has struck me in recent memory. Muhammad Ali passing a few months ago was big, but didn’t punch me in the gut this way because Ali lived a full life. Besides, by the time I came to know Ali he was already in retirement; I was only living with the legacy that he’d already built.

When Dave Henderson died in December of 2015 that hit me a bit because growing up I watched him play in Oakland AND two of his twin nieces were in my fourth and fifth grade classes. They  brought a signed bat of his to class for show and tell once. Even then I merely posted  picture of his 1982 Topps rookie card and moved on.

When Cardinals top prospect and super rookie Oscar Tavares died during the post season of 2014, the card world mourned because he was supposed to be THE guy. Collectors bought into him heavily hoping to reap financial benefit, but they all wound up dumping his cards post mortem for mere pennies on the dollar. Personally I was saddened as usual, but wasn’t really affected — I hadn’t had a chance to see him do much of anything on the diamond. Also, the suspicion that he was driving while reportedly being intoxicated kind of changes the tone a bit.

And then there is the sad case of Angels super prospect Nick Adenhart, who died after his car was struck by a suspected drunken driver on the morning of August 9, 2009, just HOURS after Adenhart in his one and only MLB start of the year. I repeat: His car was hit by a suspected drunken driver; Adenhart was not the party who was intoxicated. A bright future was there for Adenhart, but again, he had a lot to prove at the Major League level.

Now lets come back to the present as it pertains to Mr. Fernandez, the bright, smiling face of a Marlins organization that comes and goes as it pleases in baseball with almost no real foot print. True, outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is the longest-tenured Marlin with the club and sure-fire Hall of Famer Ichiro recently joined the land of baseball immortality with his 3,000 hits, but neither of them in my mind was as big of a star for the Miami club as Mr. Fernandez.

He was all of 24, but everything he showed us in his four seasons in Major League Baseball lead us to believe he certainly was flirting with greatness.

During his age 20 season, he went 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA and 187 strikeouts en route to capturing the 2013 National League Rookie of the Year honors.

Elbow injuries shortened his 2014 and 2015 seasons, but even when he was playing he still maintained his dominance to the tune of a 10-3 record over 19 starts during which he struck out 149 batters in 116 1/3 innings.

And this year he was dominating his opponents to the tune of 12.5 strikeouts per 9 innings. At the time of his death he’d struck out 253 batters in only 182 1/3 innings of work. He had 16-8 record and a 2.86 ERA over the course of 29 starts. In his final outing on Sept. 20, he went 8 innings against the eventual National League East champion Washington Nationals, allowing only three hits while striking out 12 batters — just another typical Fernandez outing.

I took a liking to Fernandez during his rookie year. His stuff was electric and his style — even his hair — reminded me a bit of Ricky Vaughn from Major League the movie. There was just something about the guy that made you watch the game. I made it a point to own the above pictured 2011 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects Refractor autograph and when it came to keeper fantasy baseball leagues, he was mine — forever, just as Clayton Kershaw shall be.

img_0239Oddly enough the news of Mr. Fernandez’s death came to me through a push notification from Yahoo Sports.  There I was using the restroom when a bell rang on my phone. I’m in the semi-finals of my league’s playoffs, a day away from entering the championship round, so I was intrigued by this seemingly odd notification that Fernandez’s status was changed from “healthy” to “day-to-day.” I clicked on the link and boom: the news hits me like a ton of bricks. And not because he was a part of my team, but because he was a hell of a talent and because he was just a kid.

He was 24. What were you doing at age 24? For me. I had graduated from college a year earlier and was only a few months into my career as a professional journalist. The Marlins, oddly enough, had defeated the Yankees in the 2003 World Series and in 2004, my favorite team, the Boston Red Sox, had completed an unbelievable comeback against the New York Yankees during the American League Championship Series and then went on to win club’s first World Series in 86 years.

By the time I had turned 24 I hadn’t been married yet and was still five years away from having the first of my two children. At age 24 I was just becoming an adult. Sure, Mr. Fernandez had talent, fame and fortune that most of us could only dream of, but I’d imagine that when all of those material things are stripped away, he wasn’t that much different that most of us at that age. He was enjoying the life of a young adult, but still had many real life milestones ahead of him.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Fernandez. May there be nothing but called third strikes for your pitching career in the afterlife.





In Memoriam: Joe Garagiola (2/12/26-3/23/16)

Posted in In Memoriam, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on March 23, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

 photo 8C0B74A2-8618-4B31-B921-6D2A04991E12_zpsoc4wqs2s.jpg

1951 Bowman Joe Garagiola, rookie card. 

Rookie Card Upgrade: 1965 Topps Joe Morgan

Posted in Rookie Card Upgrade, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on February 26, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

The latest in a series of recent upgrades.

The raw copy that I used as a place holder:
 photo CBF4EF89-08E0-4BBF-BFF0-816AB98E1A5E_zpsxegvajnp.jpg

New BVG slabbed copy:
 photo 4EAA5E6A-AB98-49EB-A4B1-1A4EAA445263_zpsqxouo6cw.jpg
1965 Topps is a classic set, but fonding nicely centered copies of key cards from the set is a problem, which was partially why I jumped on this slabbed Morgan when I did.

With all the recent added slabs to my collection it might be time for me to invest in a second display case.