Archive for Sadaharu Oh

Sadaharu Oh: Japanese Baseball Icon

Posted in Icon-O-Clasm, Instagram Portraits with tags , , , , , , on April 3, 2013 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.



1948 Bowman Bob Feller BVG 3


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)



1991 Donruss Elite Legends Series Nolan Ryan /7500


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)



1951 Bowman Whitey Ford BVG 2


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)



1975 Topps Robin Yount (Raw=BVG 7.5)


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)



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


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)



1992 Score Franchise Autographs Carl Yastrzemski /2000


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)



1992 Score Franchise Autographs Stan Musial /2,000


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)



1991 Donruss Elite Signature Series Ryne Sandberg /5,000


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)



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


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)



1949 Bowman Duke Snider (PSA 1 – BVG 3)


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)



1949 Bowman Roy Campanella (PSA 1 – BVG 3)


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)



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


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)



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


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)



2011 Bowman Prospects Bryce Harper Autograph BGS 9.5/9


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).



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


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)



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


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)



1973 Topps Mike Schmidt/Ron Cey rookie BVG 8


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)



1967 Topps Tom Seaver rookie card BVG 3


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)



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


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)



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


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)



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


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)



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


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)



1961 Topps Roger Maris autograph BVG/JSA


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)



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


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)



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


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?

Latest BGS order delivers a pair of Gems

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2012 by Cardboard Icons

The last few weeks have been pretty hectic here.  Surely it’s nothing compared to what the folks on the East Coast are dealing with these days thanks to “Superstorm” Sandy.  But nonetheless, life has been hectic.

I’ve had little time to document much of my hobby achievements.  So I will do my best to post a few things here this morning before I return to my duties.

First off, here are the results of my latest Beckett Grading Services order.  I sent these cards in two months and they came back a few weeks ago.  But I’ve yet to share them, partially because my regular computer decided to take a crap and the scanner attached to it has been relegated to paper weight status.

Anyhow, here are the results.

When I went to The National in August, one of the cards I wanted to track down was a 1959 Sadaharu Oh rookie card.  And as I documented here, I managed to find one at a GREAT price.  Well, it’s finally slabbed.  It’s the first one graded by Beckett Grading.

About three weeks after The National, I managed to swing a deal in which I was able to acquire a 1949 Bowman Satchel Paige rookie card.  At the time of the acquisition, the card was slabbed by SGC and was graded “poor.”  I’ve said it before, I like the SGC holders — that black mat inset does look good with vintage —  but the majority of my cards are slabbed by Beckett. So yeah, I cracked the Paige and sent it to Beckett. Now it’ll fit in perfectly with the rest of the cardboard icons.

I bought this 1954 Bowman Don Larsen rookie on eBay a few years back and always thought it was in nice shape.  The one flaw is a surface wrinkle ON THE BACK OF THE CARD.  Really good-looking copy if you ask me.

About a week before I prepared my BGS order, I scored a 2005 Bowman Chrome Refractor Matt Kemp signed rookie year card for about half of what they were going for in May — you know, when he was the greatest baseball player on the face of the earth. It was raw when I got it.  Now it’s a slabbed  … as a mint 9.  I believe Mint copies of this card were about $500 in May.  That’s a win.

The last four cards in this batch were all cards I purchased over at Check Out My Cards.

Here’s another chrome rookie-year auto card from 2005.  This Jay Bruce Topps Update Chrome Refractor was sitting on the COMC ungraded and was made available to me for $40.  Seriously?!  I paid more than that for my regular version.  And given the Gem Mint grade that the BGS case now bears, I’d say I hit a bargain.

Sometime last year I acquired a 1957 Topps Frank Robinson rookie card on the site that was graded a 4.5.  I was content with the grade, but it should be noted that the card had been graded in 2000 and in my opinion, the card appeared to be a bit stronger that the grade on the old BGS label.  I was right … a slight bump.

This 1952 Topps Billy Martin was on the site in raw condition and was obtained for 10% of high book … solid buy and addition to my rookie card collection.

And we’ll save the best for last.

It’s hard to top some of the cards already shown in this post.  But let’s consider this.  This 1981 TCMA Pawtucket Wade Boggs minor league “pre” rookie card was the only one available on the COMC site and I snapped it up for $10 seconds after it became active.  I bought it and it sat in my inventory for months; then I had it delivered and it sat in my house for months.  Literally minutes before I sealed up my BGS order I figured I’d sent it in.  Why?  Because it looked perfect. Well … I was right!  Only SIX of these have been graded GEM MINT by Beckett.  Awesome.

Recapping The National — from Cardboard Icons’ perspective

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , on August 7, 2012 by Cardboard Icons

I flew all the way across country for a four-day mini work-vacation and all I came back with was the shirt off someone else’s back and a piece of cardboard made in Japan.

OK, so I’m exaggerating a bit, but for the most part this is true.

Usually when someone travels so far to attend a collectors convention, they come home with a bunch of stuff.  Not me.  My luggage was actually 3 pounds lighter when I checked it Sunday night as I left Baltimore, home of the 33rd annual National Sports Collectors Convention.

So why did only come home with so little?

Because that’s all I needed to being home with me.

Don’t get me wrong, I did some spending.  I actually opened a box of cards each night that I was at the convention.

Thursday, Beckett Baseball Editor Chris Olds and I opened on camera a box of 1989 Upper Deck low numbers that I purchased from Baseball Card Exchange for the experience.  I wanted to pull a 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card for myself.

I’ve owned about a dozen of them over my 25 years of collecting, and even have one that is essentially gem mint except for the pesky hologram on the back.  As it turned out the box contained one alright … only I was not the one who pulled it.

On Friday, I purchased a box of 2012 Topps Mini, which was being sold exclusively through the Topps booth.  Along with the box, you got a five-card promotional set that includes Bryce Harper, Yu Darvish, Roy Halladay, Matt Kemp and Stephen Strasburg.  The sets were selling instantly on eBay for $25-$35.  I opened my box off camera because Beckett Football/Hockey editor Susan Lulgjuraj (@yanxchick) and Contributing Editor Dan Good (@Dgood73) were all ripping items they purchased with their own money from Blowout Cards.  My box was mediocre, but it was fun.  My hit was a Brandon Beachy relic.  But I did get five gold parallels (which are all serial numbered to 61 copies) and a Black/Platinum Scott Rolen, a parallel set that is limited to 5 copies each.

On Satuday, after I had an amazing experience meeting Earl Weaver – more on that in a bit – I decided to go buy another box of Topps Mini.  I figured I’d buy the box, throw the promo set on eBay and consider that a discount on the box price.  However, by the time I got to the booth, they were out of promo sets.  They said they’d get some more on Sunday.

But I did manage to find a box of cards to open that night … one dealer had random sports items priced relatively cheap.  Among his mound of treasures was a box of 1986 Donruss baseball.  It was $10.  I opened that on video as part of a Thrift Treasures post but truthfully, the box break was so long and uneventful I ended up scraping the video break.  You can all thank me now.  It’s called self editing, folks.

And of course on Sunday I woke up and walked over to The National early on to get another Topps Mini box since they promo sets were back in stock.  I bought box and proceeded to open it on video.  It was a damn good one, if I don’t say so myself.  No Harper or big autograph.  But my gold cards (remember, they are serial numbered to 61) were good – Stephen Strasburg, Alex Rodriguez, Freddie Freeman, Addison Reed and a Vladimir Guerrero checklist.  The Black/Platinum parallel serial numbered 5/5 was of one of the game’s biggest stars right now … Mark Trumbo.  That’s a big win considering that there are 661 cards in the set.

At this point you might be asking yourself: Now Ben … err, Cardboard Icons … how did you buy four boxes of cards this weekend and take so little home?

The Answer?  I stripped the 1989 Upper Deck and 1986 Donruss boxes of every star card and decent rookie card and left the commons in their prospective boxes for someone else to enjoy.

I then took said stars and rookies and added them to the contents of my two Topps Mini boxes and packed them into a 550-count box which I … submitted to Checkout My Cards.

Actually, that box was one of three that I submitted to COMC just before I left the Convention Center on Sunday.  I brought a 550-count box and a half of stuff to the show to submit to the consignment site (If you’re not using them, you should be …) and then managed to fill another box and a half with the contents of the aforementioned boxes and about 250 cards that I purchased as part of my Thrift Treasures series.

On that note, you should see the videos – all three of them: Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3.   I could have done a fourth video showcasing some of the items that I purchased on the last day, but I was running out of time.  I actually bought about 40 good rookies and refractors for $25.  I could have bought more, but my COMC boxes were so tight that I actually removed cards from penny sleeves so that I could get the last few in.

This is getting quite lengthy, so let me touch on a few bullet points:

Earl Weaver

So in the lede to this piece I spoke of the shirt off someone else’s back.  Well, the item I was referring to was my game-used Earl Weaver jersey.  I brought the item from the Bay Area to Baltimore just to have Earl sign this thing.  That experience was amazing.  I wrote a piece for   detailing the meeting. It was unbelievable.  And to add to this craziness, Yahoo Sports Blog “Big League Stew” linked to the Beckett piece.

Freedom Card Board

Big thanks to Chris Gilmore for inviting myself, Olds, Susan and Dan to the meet up dinner.  It was a pleasure meeting you.  I’m hoping to be more active on the boards there.  I know I signed up and posted a few times, but not so much over the last two years.  I’m rarely in front of an actual computer … most of my online interaction is via Twitter because I have access to that via my telephone.  But … there is an FCB App … downloaded. Done.

Topps  Q &A

I attended the annual question and answer session held by Topps.  It was interesting mix of folks and attitudes toward the hobby and each other. But the one thing that really sticks in my mind has to do with the Bowman brand.  Topps continued to praise itself for the Bowman brand which in all of its types (Chrome, Platinum, etc) has been welcomed by collectors.

But what kind of rubbed me the wrong way was the answer (or lack there of) to my simple question as to whether or not Topps had considered some sort of buy-back program in which they could re-acquired vintage Bowman rookies from the 1940s and 1950s.I didn’t really get a straight answer.  The product manager, who has only been around for six months, said “You’d know better than I.”

What does this mean?!  Does he not know that Topps spokesman (even posthumously) Mickey Mantle’s REAL rookie card hails from Bowman, which was a brand that was NOT under the umbrella of Topps at the time the card was produced in 1951?

If I do know more than he, then let me continue to teach.  Bowman was also home of rookie cards for Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson (also has a 1949 Leaf), Bob Feller, Warren Spahn, Phil Rizzuto, Stan Musial, Yogi Berra, Satchel Paige and a bunch of other legendary players whose existence on cardboard essentially assisted the hobby grow to insane heights in the 1980s and early 1990s.

It was a simple question.  And if you ask me, the product touted as “Home Of The Rookie Card” would have a MASSIVE swell – as if the brand could get any bigger – if the company re-purchased some of these iconic cards and re-distributed them to collectors through redemption or other means.

Big Purchase

I’ll wrap this lengthy commentary with addressing the second point I touched on at the beginning – the Japanese piece of cardboard.

For years I’d been seeking a decent priced Sadaharu Oh rookie card from 1959.  I’ve seen a few of them on eBay already slabbed and priced in the range of $275-$400. But I still hadn’t seen  one that I considered the one for me.

Well, as I meandered through the showroom floor on Friday I located Prestige Collectibles, which specializes in Japanese cards.  I asked the dealer how he has acquired so much  — damn near everything in the booth was Japanese – and he stated that he goes to Japan quite often.  During the conversation he revealed to me that Japanese baseball collectors don’t dabble a whole lot in vintage cards.  This initially amazed me.  Maybe because I am fascinated with the way baseball is revered in that country.  But in reality, the attitude, at least according to this dealer, is on par with  the way things work here.  A lot of people are just not turned on by old cardboard.

Anyway, the reason I stopped at Prestige Collectible was because as I was walking by, I happened to glance down and recognize a card.  It was a 1959 Murakami  JCM 31c Menko Sadaharu Oh rookie.  The card was ungraded – it has some creases – but I knew it was authentic.  And it had a price tag of $175.

I surveyed the card, looked it over once, twice or maybe five times.  And then handed it back to him.  I did not have $175 cash on me.  He of course advised me that he accepted credit cards.

I walked away from the table.  I advised him that I’d consider the purchase.  About 30 minutes later I returned.  The Oh HAD to be mine.  It’s a good thing that I returned when I did.  Apparently someone else had looked at it moments before and also needed some time to think about it.

And after a swipe of a credit card – I had built in some wiggle room in my personal National budget for a purchase like this — I became the proud owner of an authentic Sadaharu Oh rookie card.  LOVE THIS.

Lastly, I’ll just say I had a blast.  The only thing I would change is building in more time to be social.  I spent the after hours time writing so I didn’t really hang out with the other collectors.