Archive for sports cards

I could never own a card shop

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , on April 14, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

When I was a little kid, I had the luxury of living directly across the street from a card shop. I could peer out the window of my first-floor apartment and see the moment the shop owner flipped over the “We’re Open” sign. But who am I kidding? My friends and I –we all lived in the same building — often beat the owner there. We were often the first customers, and sometimes the last when we would return in the evening after a day of collecting bottles and cans for more cards.

I had dreams of owning a shop. In fact, I once created little business cards and slipped them under the door of my friend’s apartments. It was silly, but remember, I was 8 and fresh into this hobby. I held this dream through middle school as I had no obvious desire to do anything else.

As I grew older, this dream of course began to fade. And now as an adult — even with the ever-changing landscape of our hobby — I realize the dream was best left as it was — an imperfect heaven that appeased my immature brain.

I give a lot of credit to card shop owners who have had the ability to make a living to support themselves and/or their families in this niche hobby. It’s not like there is this endless pot of gold to which you can continue to return; there are no overtime opportunities to bridge the financial gap during tough times. Card shop owners cease to make money the moment they shut their doors at night, or on a random Tuesday or Thursday as some stores might do.

While the financials might not make sense in my head, the reason I couldn’t own a shop is because of my conscience.

Because when the mother and boy walk in seeking baseball cards, I’d almost rather give the kid some cards to get him started instead of trying a hard sale on some lower-end wax.

Because it would pain me to see a guy spend 90 minutes digging through the quarter boxes and not give him a heads up that someone else spent that same amount of time the day before pulling every card up with upside — the same purpose this newer customer were there.

And because I could not standby and watch a teenager spend his lunch money on packs from a box on the counter which you may already know is void of the single guarantee hit advertised on the box, knowledge you’ve acquired because one of your whale customers decided to open and buy pack by pack from that box until that hit was gone.

It seems to me that it takes a certain amount of selective memory, and a certain shrewdness to make ends meet. And I’m not piling on shop owners, because I understand how difficult these decisions could be at times. I’m merely saying that I know that with my personality it would make it difficult to be a shop owner … and that’s not even addressing how tough it might be to draw the line between collector and retailer.

Video Break of 2018-19 Panini Revolution Chinese New Year

Posted in Box / Pack Break with tags , , , , , , on March 5, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

My son and I swung by our local card shop this week and decided to break a box of the newly released 2018-19 Panini Revolution Chinese New Year. We bought the box and brought it home and tried our hand at a video box break. I’ve done them before — but this was really my son’s first foray into this.

A few notes:

-My son is 8, be nice.

-I sniffled a lot as I was just getting over a cold.

-Basketball is not MY passion so I likely butchered some names.

-We are not professionals and used only an iPhone, sorry if quality isn’t what you’re used to.

-Lastly … I can’t embed the video here, so you’ll have to click HERE to view it.

A new quirk for 2019 Topps Heritage?

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

The Topps Heritage line is a fun set to collect or view from afar each year. For the most part, Topps stays true to the original design and quirks, often mimicking the errors of the past to maintain that sense of nostalgia that’ve come to embrace over the years

Of course in recent memory they’ve also added a slew of variations to make for extreme chase cards in some cases. But today I think I found a new tradition, one that doesn’t appear to be a throwback to the 1970 set.

While sorting a bit of the Heritage that I picked up this week I noticed something that doesn’t appear to be an homage to the original set. Grab your stacks of Heritage and thumb through them and pull out your base cards of the Washington Nationals and Colorado Rockies. Remember, I’m talking base cards, not the multi-player rookie cards of subsets.

Now turn them over and look at the bio box.

Do you see it?

Right below the player’s biographical information is the team name: Washington Nationals or Colorado Rockies. Now go look at the other card backs. You’ll notice that cards of the other teams don’t have the team name on back.

I asked a hobby friend of mine what the deal was with this and he seemed to not know about it, suggesting that maybe it was a wink to something from 1970. I figured that may have been the case too, so I looked and I did not see the team name on the back of the 1970 cards.

I also noticed something else … a handful of the Nationals cards in the 2019 set (cards 1-400 not the SPs 401-500) corresponded by number with cards of the Washington Senators and Minnesota Twins from the 1970 set, which is a fun hat tip since there is some lineage between the Senators-Twins-Nationals franchises and locations.

Have you noticed any other fun quirks to the 2019 Heritage set? Leave a comment below.

You know you’re raising a kid collector when …

Posted in Dad Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

True story, this morning I went to the laundry mat and while I was loading the washer I heard a familiar crinkling noise in the pocket of a pair of pants I was holding — but those pants were not mine, they were my son’s.

It was a great feeling to pull that wrapper from his pocket and set it on the washer. It meant that he didn’t immediately discard the wrapper and misplace the contents, or leave the cards in his pocket — which is something I did from time to time when I was his age. This wrapper also represented the fact that he thought enough of it to 1) not litter, 2) hold onto the wrapper until we got home, 3) meant he already placed the cards into his basketball binder — which I might add is like three times the size of his baseball binder.

The wrapper really put me in a head space in which I was thinking a lot about childhood, card collecting and … the laundry mat experience.

As a kid my mom would drag us from our apartment to the laundry mat to do loads upon loads of laundry. I was born in a big city and raised in a suburb, but my family never owned property. We’ve been renters our whole lives and when it came to laundry, it sometimes meant piling items into bags or baskets and loading them into the car, or even at times public transportation.

Whenever I went to the laundry mat, I had a Beckett Baseball Monthly with me, sometimes a small stack of cards in Card Savers which I kept in my pocket. And when I was tired of looking up the prices of vintage cards I could only dream of owning, I found myself hounding my mom for quarters with which I would either play Pac-Man or Galaga, or simply hold onto with hopes that the liquor store in the shopping center might have packs of cards for sale.

My kids don’t really enjoy the laundry mat the way I ever did, which is when I choose to go, I usually go when they are in school. There’s a very nostalgic feeling when I step into such places, but I did not think I’d find myself reminiscing this much today about my childhood, all stemming from a wrapper from a pack of 2018-19 Panini Contenders basketball.

When did the “Junk Wax Era” end?

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , on February 8, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

The topic of this post is one that I never really though had much wiggle room, but as it turns out, I was mistaken.

I logged into Twitter this afternoon and found myself in a discussion with a fellow Ben (ourtradingcards) from About The Cards Podcast (@AboutTheCards) about “Junk Wax” era cards. Turns out, we had two different definitions of the era.

Ben defines the era essentially as extending from the 1990s into the early 2000s. This blew my mind a bit because I personally think the Junk Wax Era ended right around 1996. I’m curious where everyone else stands on this? And not because one of us has to be right or wrong — I’m curious how folks go about defining such a period of time in our hobby.

I’ll let Ben speak for himself — so I wont put words into his mouth. But here’s how I see things … again, this is MY opinion. It does not mean anyone else is wrong.

Our Hobby underwent a transformation in the 1980s. Card collecting went from something people do for fun, to something that a new wave of people did to make money. There was a massive influx of consumers who saw dollar signs and believed cards were a sound investment. With that new group of people joining the hobby came a massive increase in print runs, this the beginning of my defined “Junk Wax Era.” Personally I see this has happening right around 1988 — just about the time Jose Canseco made a push for 40-40 and his 1986 Donruss Rated Rookie exploded in the secondary market. Hell, remember, this was before Upper Deck broke into the market in 1989. For that matter, few people knew who Ken Griffey Jr. was and certainly no one could foresee the popularity to which he or his rookie cards would reach.

I digress. Production seemed to skyrocket in 1988 and 1989 and continued to do so until about 1994/1995, an era in which products would go from just containing base cards to the inclusion of chase cards, some of which were damn near impossible to pull. And with few exceptions from Upper Deck, Donruss and Score, there were no autographs and certainly no relics. The end of this time frame also coincides with the Strike of 1994, which caused many fans and collectors to leave the market, and in my mind forced to companies to change things up to keep interest.

The hobby would seemingly change in 1995, as the number of chase cards, parallel cards and number of products released every year seem to increase again. And then in 1997 Upper Deck began including autos and relics in packs, and the quality of products seemed to shift again forward, thus marking the beginning of a new era in my mind.

And so, when I think of the Junk Wax Era, I tend to think of products from 1988 to about 1995, with a little wiggle room on both ends of course — especially on the front end. Junk Wax Boxes in my opinion offer NO CHANCE at hits — because they did not exist in the products — or offer a long shot at something featuring a signature. Also, the boxes were produced after the 1986 Donruss Canseco, which I see as a game-changer.

What say you?

My definition is the one I operate under, and by no means am I claiming it to be the end-all, be all of the hobby. But this discussion on Twitter genuinely intrigued me as I did not know others viewed the term “Junk Wax Era” as extending a full decade past when I thought. I’d agree that there was a lot of stuff from 1995 through 2005, but that’s a different era in my mind.

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.

 

 

Mission Complete: 1999 Pacific Crown Royale Baseball

Posted in Mission Complete (Completed Sets) with tags , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

About two years ago, I visited a card shop about 45 minutes away and picked up a slew of Pacific branded boxes. Among them was a 1999 Pacific Crown Royale box.

I’ve always loved Crown Royale and was feeling really nostalgic about it so I figured why not. At the time my son and I opened the packs and then they got tucked into a box and in the closet.

Fast forward to late last year and After my son verbally expressed he was starting to enjoy the hobby, it set off a bunch of nostalgia bells and we went to another local shop. Among the boxes for sale was another 1999 Pacific Crown Royale.

I bought it, figuring we could build the set with the cards bought two years prior.

So we ripped the box — lots of fun and talk about quality — and we ended up being four cards short.

Well, the four remaining cards arrived this week via purchases from SportLots and COMC. I’m happy to say the base set and insert sets are done.

So, I now present you with the entire base 1999 Pacific Crown Royale set with the two standard insert sets.