Archive for rookie cards

Baseball Hall of Fame `Class of 2019′ in rookie cards

Posted in Hall of Fame Rookie Cards with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

For the first time in several years I’ve been excited to see the announcement of the newest class of Cooperstown. I’m not going to dwell on the fact that my guy, Roger Clemens, still didn’t make it — although I appreciate that he is trending upward.

That said, Tuesday afternoon it was announced that Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was the first unanimous selection to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and joining him in the Class of 2019 are pitchers Mike Mussina and Roy Halladay, and designated hitter Edgar Martinez. Those four players were elected by the Baseball Writers of America and join the previously announced closer Lee Smith and Designated Hitter Harold Baines who were elected to the Hall in December by committee vote.

I’m a Red Sox fan and I cannot deny the greatness of Mariano. While I hated seeing him close out games against my team, I appreciated his pure dominance. And he was humble and emotional at the same time. One of my favorite scenes is watching him crumble on the mound after winning one of his first World Series titles. I’m proud to say I own a BGS Mint 9 copy of his 1992 Bowman rookie card. Also, one of my favorite inserts in my collection is his 1997 Bowman Best International Preview Atomic Refractor.

Mussina is one of the guys I pulled for in 1992, a year after his rookie cards actually hit the market I distinctly remember seeing his 1992 Ultra card — that set was super premium quality at the time — selling for $3 to $5 at my LCS, and remember the first time he was on the cover of Beckett Baseball. Moose was filthy, and it was a joy to watch his career. My favorite of his rookie cards is the 1991 Fleer Ultra Update, which I own in a BGS Mint 9. In terms of inserts, his 1996 Pacific Flame Throwers sticks out in my collection.

“Bad Ass.” That’s how I liked to think of Roy Halladay, both in real life and as a fantasy player. This guy was so fun to watch; and in our fantasy league was a source of controversy as there was at least one guy who thought he was overrated. Nope. Not one bit. One of my favorite memories of Halladay is that no-hitter he threw in Game One of the NLDS. This was four days after my son was born, and I remember sitting at home on the couch with him in my arms when the final pitch was thrown. I was genuinely sad when I learned Roy had died in 2017. I was at work driving around when word started to spread. The only graded rookie card I own of Roy is his 1997 Bowman, BGS Mint 9, which holds a special place in my heart because that 1997 set is the first Bowman set I actually built. I do own a few copies of his Bowman Chrome rookie in raw condition, however it is the International version of that Chrome rookie card that I like to think of when it comes to my favorite inserts or parallels in my collection.

I loved watching Edgar Martinez play, especially on those mid to late 1990s Seattle Mariner teams with when he had other hitters around him like Ken Griffey Jr, Alex Rodriguez and Jay Buhner. The DH position is often shunned in baseball circles, but this dude could hit. I really enjoyed his batting stance and watching him make solid contact with the ball. He has two rookie cards, and only one of them actually pictures him. I have several copies of his 1988 Fleer card, which I sadly do not own in a graded case. It’s shown here in a one touch solely for display purposes. I’ll have to add a Mint 9 or better BGS copy at some point — but I will not overpay for one right now. When it comes to inserts, Edgar’s Elite Series card is the one that catches my eye.

Whether or not you believe Lee Smith or Harold Baines belong in the Hall of Fame, fact remains they are in and were good players. I remember Smith being the closer for the Red Sox just as I was really getting into the sport — and he was dominant. Maybe not Dennis Eckersley dominant, but a stud nonetheless. When I think of Harold Baines I do think of a very good hitter. I LOVED his batting stance and often emulated it in Whiffle Ball games in the parking lot of my apartment complex — I got to watch him a lot in the early 1990s when he played in Oakland. I own a 1982 Topps Lee Smith in BGS Mint 9, and a 1981 Topps Harold Baines in a BGS 6 — which is comical, but was a must-buy when I found it for $2 at the LCS. I’ll probably update at some point.

The hidden shame of collectors

Posted in Project Organize with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Funny story, last week, my ex-wife contacted me via text message and told me about this new show she was watching on Netflix called “Tidying Up.” The premise of the show being that the host had a methodology for de-cluttering one’s home and helping folks reacquaint themselves with their items. My Ex instantly reached out to me because in the second episode, they were dealing with a husband who had amassed a large amount of baseball cards.

Later that same day, my girlfriend – which feels like a silly title, but we’ve been together for almost a year and a half now – told me about the same show. And of course, the same reason she thought of me was because of the second episode, which I shall forever now refer to as the “baseball card episode.”

And so last night, while I was working on Project Organize, I took a break to watch the show. While the episode does not spend a lot of time discussing the baseball card issue, it does give a broad overview of show participant Ron Akiyama’s card collecting habit and storage. Basically, he had collected cards with his two sons for three decades and now he has amassed so many cards that the pile of boxes literally touches the ceiling.

I’m not here to judge Ron. Hell, Ron, if you read this, I thank you for sharing your story.  My family has had the same issues you and your wife dealt with before this show and I know it can be very difficult to admit the issue, let alone tell others (or the world in this case) about it and then let people inside your world to offer suggestions.

I digress, Ron’s passion for cards is one that looks like a familiar story for many of us, especially those of us who grew up or collected during the late 1980s and early 1990s – we owned everything and still own everything, so it’s a ton of shit.

This episode struck home for me because I am in the middle of my own Project Organize. I’ve been trying to determine what makes me happy, or “sparks joy” – to use a phrase from show host Marie Kondo. The idea of course is not to dump everything and quit the hobby, but to really assess what you own, think about why you own it, and determine if you still need or want to own it.

This area has been a sore spot for me because I’ve felt a lot of shame in the amount of stuff that I feel I’ve accumulated, and this idea that I am still participating in a hobby that many think – or thought – was meant for kids. And I’d venture to say there are a lot of others who find themselves in the same spot. What’s important that we understand that it’s perfectly healthy for us to have a hobby — this hobby — and not allow the feelings of guilt surrounding spending and clutter consume our lives to make us feel like we’re living under an adult-size Jenga Tower of boxes, which is how much of Ron’s collection appeared.

In the process of doing Project Organize – which began before I even heard of this show — I’ve found myself being re-acquainted with items I forgot had, and I am truly starting to enjoy this hobby again. And this joy, honestly, is more valuable than any single card I could pull today.

 

 

In Memoriam: Willie McCovey (Jan. 10, 1938 – Oct. 31, 2018.)

Posted in In Memoriam, Misc. with tags , , , , , on November 1, 2018 by Cardboard Icons

1960 Topps Willie McCovey Rookie Card.

All I need to know about 2018 Topps I learned in three retail packs

Posted in Commentary, Misc. with tags , , , , , on February 7, 2018 by Cardboard Icons

The release of the latest Topps baseball set used to be cause for celebration for me.

I was like many of you, pining for something new after a winter of hearing about draft baseball products and numerous football and basketball releases.

But what’s funny is that I’ve never fancied myself a set collector, and Topps in and of itself has never been the object of my desire.

Now, before a I start down this slippery slope, I will say that I am in a different place on my life than before. And the focus of my collection is such that the latest product — of anything really — doesn’t quite jive with what truly makes me happy.

I like that old smelly cardboard, the ones that reek like my grandfather’s ashtray, the ones that look like they thrown around the house like a ninja star, the ones featuring the true icons of the sport, not the youngest kid on the block who gets labeled as “the next (insert superstar name here.)” In a nutshell, I want the cards that I never could have imagined owning — and not because they are rare due to manufactured scarcity like we get today.

That said, opening packs of cards is part of my being; it’s been a part of this hobby of mine since I opened my first wax pack on 1987.

So it’s impossible for me to say that I’ll never open another pack again; especially while I continue to collect.

And so there I was last week when 2018 Topps hit the shelves with Twitter abuzz over every card, good or bad. I was fighting that urge to buy a box — or three — which isn’t uncommon for a guy who at times does show an addictive mentality. So I stayed out of the conversation, avoided my Local Card Shop — sorry, guys, I had to — and tried to steer clear of the card aisle at Target.

After a few days, when I felt I could handle buying a few packs, I decided to do so. And in those three packs I learned — or should I say reminded myself — why I shouldn’t be buying much of this product.

The first item I unearthed in my very first pack of Topps was a blank security card, which I found apropos since the card literally said nothing — kind of like the cards within the pack did nothing for me.

And it’s not that there’s anything wrong with the product. It’s the same formulaic stuff that works for most people. It’s that for me the blank card, along with the contents of the three packs, just felt like a waste of time.

I didn’t care much that I now owned Salvador Perez as my first true card of a 2018 Card set. Or that I also got a Charlie Blackmon home run National League League Leader Card after he finished THIRD in that category. Hell, I got two Derek Jeter insert cards and really don’t care because neither he nor that insert set are my cup of tea.

Topps baseball has been fun for me in the past, and I suppose it could be again on the future. But right now, I’m not feeling it. And unless my kids show some interest in ripping with me, I’ll stay away because that’s what’s good for me. In those three packs, I learned the two important things about the set — it’s just not something I NEED, and I had no pleasure at all from opening the packs. And those lessons — if you want to call them that — were important to experience because I sometimes fail to realize them until I’ve already lost control and bought too much.

I leave you with this thought today:

If you aren’t finding joy in your hobby …

If you find your hobby spending to be out of control …

If you feel you’re lacking focus …

… it’s OK to step away and regain whatever control you need so that you can maintain a healthy balance of life and hobby. Your hobby shouldn’t rule your life.

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.

Ben,

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 cardboardicons@yahoo.com

In Memoriam: Don Baylor (June 28, 1949 – Aug. 7, 2017) 

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

1971 Topps Don Baylor rookie (with Dusty Baker and Tom Paciorek)

Blaster Break: 2017 Topps Allen & Ginter

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Misc. with tags , , , , , , , on July 20, 2017 by Cardboard Icons

There was a time when the brand name “Allen & Ginter” set off all sorts emotions for me as a card collector. I would get caught up in the craze that seemingly came with the set.


What major non-sport stars would have signatures in the set? What weird relics would Topps include this year? Would there be a Ginter Code, or any other secrets such as the time Topps embedded unannounced 1/1 parallels within the panels of some hobby boxes?

I’d buy one or two hobby boxes, and then do damage at buy ripping blaster after blaster.

But those are emotions and actions of yesteryear. For me, the appeal of Ginter has waned. I no longer feel the need to hit the Local Card Shop on release day, or do an online break, or even hit retail stores with a fervor. Instead it’s become a product that I open every year in lesser quantities, partially because I feel the quality and bang for the buck has diminished, but also because my interests as a collector have changed.

I know some have argued that the product has jumped the shark and call for its dismissal. I’m not one of them. I’m just saying that I personally consume less Ginter each year.

That said, here I am with a blaster and “fat pack” of this year’s version in my hands and I am going to break it here, show a few, and share some opinions. It’s a bit of an old school ‘Icons act for a pseudo retro product.

I’m not going to do a product break down, link you to checklists and try to act like I am the greatest source of your information. I’ll spare you the bullshit. I bought a random blaster and a fat pack that had my favorite player (Roger Clemens) clearly visible through the front of the wrapper. These are my results; your’s will vary.

The Fat Pack:

Yes, I looked at the front of the packs to see what players were visible. No there was no Aaron Judge otherwise I would be showing that here.  Instead I saw one with my boy Clemens on top and decided to rip it. I don’t care if you consider that unethical. Really. I don’t.


From the moment I opened the pack I could see the middle was a bit different. I had two minis in this pack (which I think is typical for the Fat Packs) and I could see a wood grain border, which turned out to be a 1987 Topps Tom Brookens (silver stamp) buy back. At least this card was mint. I did pull an ’87 buy pack from a Topps Series One pack that was creased across the middle. Go figure.

Anyway, I’m glad I locked down the Clemens base card for my collection; an SP of Seung-Hwan Oh, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a Mini SP of Willie Stargell, and a Required Reading mini that are seeded 1:30 Fat Packs.

The Blaster:

There are eight packs as usual in the blaster and when I opened the first one, there was clearly a framed hit inside. This has been one of the joys of this product over the years.  It’s also been fun to see the shiny frame of a mini hit in the middle of a desert of white base cards. 


As my luck had it, the first single pack of the year held a Framed Mini Relic of Rockies star Nolan Arenado, which to my surprise is a tough pull considering the framed mini relics are seeded 1:733 packs, almost four times HARDER than a framed mini autograph. It’s an interesting ploy by Topps to make these mini relics appealing to some collectors by making them more scarce.  But let’s face it … unless you’re a master set collector, or in dire need of a framed mini relic of Arenado, it’s not paying the bills, not even for this one blaster.


In the third pack I hit an Aaron Judge rookie card, which could be one of the most boring looking rookie cards of the game’s hottest player. But, it is what it is — read: in demand and not something at which to scoff.


In Pack Five I got a rookie card of Mitch Haniger the Mariners’ prospect who hails from my home town.


In Pack Six I got a base card of Clayton Kershaw — the only active player I actually collect — and another one of those Required Reading minis, which are seeded 1:50 regular packs.


And Pack Eight held perhaps one of the coolest Ginter cards to date, that of my friend — and that of like 8 million others — Tom Anderson, co-founder of MySpace. I literally laughed out loud when I saw the photo chose for this card. So so good. It deserves a thumbs up, honestly.


Final Thoughts:

Even though I’d heard some people say this year’s design wasn’t good, I actually disagree. It feels like the base cards are spin on Transcendent, which if was by design, is smart because it plays on the subconcious of those seeking high-end stuff. The brand itself needed something new, and I think this portrait frame design look does it.


I actually dig the fish and fishing lure set — because I like fishing and this is somewhat of a proper homage to the early Ginter sets. And while I applaud Topps for including a slew of other random inserts celebrating animals and events of the world, it all just gets lost in the shuffle for me. Like I said, my personal tastes have changed.

Oh, and I still dig the minis. The design actually looks really good in the minis.


Would I buy more? Probably. But as has been the case in recent years, it’ll be less. I’ll likely steer entirely clear of hobby boxes — if for no other reason it’s already crazy expensive.