Archive for Topps

My kid has shown an interest in cards!

Posted in Dad Life with tags , , , , , , , on November 11, 2018 by Cardboard Icons

“Dad, it’s like real cardboard …”

For a parent card collector these words coming from the mouth of your offspring are priceless, especially when you’ve just introduced them to their first true vintage addition to their fledgling card collection.

I’ve been a baseball card guy for more than three decades, having begun my card adventure when I was just seven years old, shortly after moving to the suburbs from the Big City. And I now have two children, the oldest pushing 10 years, and the other having just turned 8.

I always envisioned that one day my card collecting habits would one day rub off on my children, and up to this point there has been very little interest. Kids these days don’t know what it’s like to not be able to get information or entertainment at the blink of an eye or the touch of a screen. Collectors from my generation and those before know the struggle all too well, having to buy and handle newsprint, and in some cases using baseball cards as our method of learning and remember statistics and even historic events.

I introduced my kids to cards many years ago. They’ve both opened packs; attended shows and shops with me, and often see me rummaging through my boxes and piles. But until recently, there had been very little real interest. I’ve given my kids packs, especially my son, who in many ways is my Mini Me. But he hasn’t truly enjoyed then; he’s busy, swiping and button mashing.

And then just a few days ago, without my prompting, he walked over to the bookshelf, took out his binder of cards – many of which are 2016 Topps Bunt, the last product that he and I really broke together, and he started flipping through his pages.

Like many starting to collect, my son had placed every card he owns into 9-pocket sheets and in a binder with no regard for organization. His baseball cards were next to his football ones, and even some random basketball and Olympics cards sprinkled in.

I watched him from a distance and then he comes over to me and says, “Dad, I’m going to sort these by sport.” The later he brings the binder to me and says, “Can you tell me if any of these are good.”

The question as to whether or not a card is good is very subjective. I know for a fact that none of his cards at the time carried any sort of premium, or really any desire outside of his own. But I am not in the business of crushing budding collector’s souls with a statement like that. And so we flipped through, page by page, and I called out every All Star, every Hall of Famer and every Red Sox, Athletics or Giants card we saw. I wanted him to appreciate what he has, not be so concerned with what the cards are worth.

My son continued to look at his cards for a bit; and I even gave him a larger Collector D-Ring binder, all while teaching him the importance of moving the entire stack of sheets to the flat side of the D-Ring before closing the cover.

My son and daughter went to stay with their mother for a few days and when they returned, I told my son that I had a new card for him, one that I had picked up from a Local Card Shop, one that I never owned as a kid collector. It was a 1995 Pinnacle Ken Griffey Jr., an iconic card showing The Kid being a kid, blowing a massive bubble with his gun. It was my generation’s version of the iconic 1976 Kurt Bevacqua card. I got the card for $1.

I presented the card to my kid and his response was “What the heck?! He and his sister giggled about the large bubble Ken blew in the image. I had succeeded; they cared about the card.

And so I began thinking about items I could gift to my son, cards that he could add to his collection, items that had some sort of meeting, and not just run-of-the-mill commons I had sitting around. I looked through stacks on my desk and found two cards that I thought would be nice additions. The first was a Lonzo Ball Hoops rookie card. Both of my kids know who Ball is because he made an appearance on Fuller House on Netflix, a show the kids watch and re-watch just like I used to watch re-runs of The Wonder Years. They laughed when I showed it to them.

The second card? The aforementioned vintage card, a 1972 Topps World Series Game 4 Highlights card of Roberto Clemente. But before I showed them the card, I told them the story of Clemente, about his baseball skill and his true heroism, his fatal humanitarian effort in Nicaragua.

The kids were astonished by the story. And then I presented the Clemente to my son so he could put it in his binder. The card isn’t worth a ton of money, but it was the kind of card that served as a teaching point, one that I hope he’ll remember forever.

I handed him the card in a penny sleeve and top loader, and he surveyed it and then removed it – By the way, I taught him how to smack the palms of his hands together to insert and remove cards from Top Loaders – so he could place it in his binder next to the aforementioned Griffey card. His words were priceless.

“Dad, it’s like real cardboard…”

I then told him that’s how baseball cards used to be. I pointed to the showcase on the wall and explained that that’s how cards used to made, and every single one of the cards in the case were made the same way, only they were now living inside a plastic Beckett Grading Services slab inside the showcase.

I don’t know if my son will end up loving cards in a week, in a year, in a decade, or if he cares that the cards I’ve accumulated will end up being the possessions of him and his sister at some point. But these last few weeks have been promising; perhaps one day he will understand completely my passion for this hobby, even if it drags me down at times.

The Greatest Baseball Experience of my life: Attending the Red Sox 2018 World Series clincher (Game 5)

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

This grown man cried. And it was the second time I cried at a baseball game, and both instances involved the Boston Red Sox.

Moments after Dodgers third baseman Manny Machado flailed at Chris Sale’s final pitch Sunday during Game 5 of the 2018 World Series — an apropos ending to a horrendous three weeks of baseball for the soon-to-be free agent — the flood gates opened.

My eyes burned. My nose tingled. The tears began to roll down my face. The Boston Red Sox were champions again, and this time I was there to witness it in person.

For more than three decades I have been a Red Sox fan. And for almost as long as that fandom has been alive, it had been a fantasy of mine to not only see a World Series game featuring the Red Sox, but to see them clinch the sport’s top prize. The scenario was something I never saw as a possibility, primarily because I live on the West Coast and couldn’t see the Sox ever facing off against the Giants — the local National League team — in the Fall Classic.

But when the Dodgers wrapped up their series against the Brewers to clinch their second-straight National League crown, my head started spinning: Could this be a possibility?

**

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area in a time where the Oakland Athletics were at the top of the sport. I had my favorite Oakland player, his name was Mark McGwire. And every day after school I’d run home hoping that there would be a game on. You see, I was so naive initially that I didn’t even have the schedule down.  All I knew was that I would occasionally turn on 560 AM KSFO and hear the golden voice of baseball Bill King calling the final innings of what I’d learn was a midweek day game.  And when I wasn’t listening to the games, I was fighting my sister to allow me to watch the A’s play on KICU TV-36. We had one television in the house; and I was one of two children.

With that said, you’d think the A’s were my favorite team. And in some ways you wouldn’t be wrong. I definitely chose Oakland over the regional rival San Francisco Giants, especially when they faced off in the 1989 World Series.

I digress. By this point you might be asking yourself how the hell did I become a Red Sox fan?

The answer: William Roger Clemens.

***

I started following baseball in 1987, about a year after my family moved to the South Bay from San Francisco.  I was merely 7 at the time when I was befriended by two brothers who lived in the same apartment building. They are the ones who introduced me to the greatness of baseball cards. Many years before, my mother had introduced me to collecting when she bought Garbage Pail Kids; but it was the brothers from two floors above who brought the combination of cards and baseball into my life. And it didn’t hurt that there was card shop literally across the street, probably no more than the distance from home plate to the middle of center field.

One of the brothers was a massive Oakland A’s fan, and his favorite player was McGwire. Who could blame him.  His brother somehow became a fan of New York Mets outfielder Darryl Strawberry. The question was posed: Ben, who or what do you collect?

The answer became Roger Clemens.

I’d never seen The Rocket pitch in person at this point. I believe my following of Clemens came from the fact that I had a handful of his 1987 Topps All Star cards and had seen him pitch against the A’s on television. So, me wanting to be different and not collect the same exact things my friends did, I chose Clemens … and The Red Sox.

From the moment I made my collecting choices, my fandom became stronger … even if the team was not really any good. Hell, by this point the Sox were a mere year or two removed from the 1986 World Series when the team collapsed and were defeated by the Mets.

For Christmas 1990 my mother bought me a Boston Red Sox book that I believe she had to ordered through the mail since we lived on the West Coast.  And for my 11th Birthday my father took me a store called “The Sports Fanatic,” which was kind of a big deal.  The store sold authentic hats, jerseys and jackets. My loot for my 11th birthday?  An Authentic Boston Red Sox fitted cap, and a legit Starter Sox Jacket, which I still have to this day. I even have a Identification Card from an old mini golf and go kart place showing me wearing the hat. The ID card was created Jan. 4, 1992.

***

For years the Red Sox seemed to come through Oakland early in the season, usually within a few weeks of my birthday. But for one reason or another I was not able to see the team in person until 1994. And while I wish I could paint that picture with words, sadly I cannot. I was 13 at the time and was still learning the game, mostly on my own. No one in my family was really a baseball fan. Luckily I still have my ticket stub; and with the magic of the internet I am able to recall that Frank Viola and Ron Darling did square off in a pitcher’s duel that ended just two hours and 22 minutes after it began. The Sox, of course, were the victors; Oakland at this point was without the aforementioned McGwire due to injury.

Five years later I again saw the Red Sox in Oakland; this time as a “birthday party” in which I invited two friend.  The four of us — me, two newer friends and my father — were treated to a 13-strikeout performance by Boston starter and eventual Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez.

***

The only time I had been able to see the Red Sox in person during the first 30 years of my life was in Oakland. Boston had not played in San Francisco to my recollection; and I had no reason to ever actually go to Boston. Hell, the idea of going to Fenway Park was something that I figured would never happen.

Well, it did. in 2010. I wrote about it before.

My wife at the time and I made a week-long trip to the east coast in May of that year, a vacation in which I managed to incorporate a jaunt to Yankee Stadium — where we saw the Yankees walk-off the Red Sox much to my dismay — and then two nights we found ourselves in Boston at Fenway Park.

It literally was a cold and dreary night; it had rained all day and I feared that my one chance to see the Sox play at home (against the Twins when they were still good), was going to get washed away.  As it turned out, that rain helped keep two season ticket holders at home that night and allowed us to slide over two seats out of our view obstructed seats — there was a giant support beam blocking our view — into the ones next to us, which was an option presented by friends of those ticket holders.

The game couldn’t last long enough; and when it was over, I didn’t want to leave.  We took more pictures in the stadium, used the rest room, walked around, and then we had to go — really, they were ushering us out.

That night, I cried.

Not everyone will understand the emotions of others. But I really should have to explain why I was emotional at all. I mean, I was a West Coast guy who was living out a dream and my time at Fenway Park was coming to and end.

The tears came; I dried them and we headed out of the building for what I thought was the one and only time I’d ever step foot in there.  As luck would have it, a day later we had a few hours to waste before our flight back to the Bay Area and we decided to go for a drive through the off grid of streets that make up Boston.  As fate would have it, we would up at Fenway Park; found a parking spot right across the street from the box office, and we had gotten there just as they were preparing for the final building tour of the morning.

***

There are many Red Sox fans who spent a lifetime — literally — not knowing what it could be like to see the Sox win a World Series. Hell, the team went 86 years before finally wrapping up the championship in 2004. Since then, the team has won World Series titles in 2007 and again in 2013.

And in 2018, it looked again as if the team would have another banner to raise.

The Red Sox ran roughshod through the American League in the playoffs, finishing off rival New York in four games (best of 5 series), and gutting the reigning champion Houston Astros in five games (Best of 7 series) to secure its position in the Fall Classic.

It was clear to me that something magical was in the works.  The Dodgers were still in the playoffs and had a strong possibility of advancing.  Los Angeles is not San Francisco, I mean there are some 300-plus miles between the two.  But LA is only a six hour drive away from my home; it wasn’t going to require expensive last-minute flights if the Los Angeles-Boston World Series were to happen.

A few days after Boston had clinched its spot in the final; the Dodgers did the same. And when the final out was made, I immediately checked StubHub to see how much tickets were going to run. The cheapest single seat I could find was in the neighborhood of $700 — no way I could make that happen.

I pretty much gave up on the notion, occasionally checking prices to assure myself the market was too strong.  But by the time the Sox went up 2-0 in the series, interest had either waned, the market was correcting itself — supply and demand were working toward eachother — and a seat for Game 5 (which was the only really possibility due to other reasons) had dropped under $500.  I was much more comfortable in this price range as I could sell a handful of baseball cards and help fund that seat to fulfill my dream.

As it turned out; a personal connection of mine put me in contact with someone who had a pair of seats for Game 5 — and they were mine for less than I was going to pay for the single ticket on StubHub.  With a few emails and a cash transfer through PayPal I was headed to the World Series to not only see the Red Sox face off against not only the Dodgers, but looked like a showdown with Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who is my favorite active player — a story for another time.

***

The date Oct. 25 is now a weird thread in my baseball life. In 2013 I was at Dodger Stadium for the first time during a short vacation to Southern California.  The Dodgers had been eliminated from the Playoffs by that point, but I was able to take a tour of the stadium. Tours are said to be a dozen or so people; in this case there were just two people, myself and my wife at the time. This was a pretty special tour as we got to spent a lot of time seeing various areas of the baseball landmark.

A year later, on Oct. 25, 2014, I attended my first World Series game, which I was certain was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  The Giants were in the third of three World Series in five years.  My sister, whom I mentioned earlier as fighting with over television time to watch baseball, secured a pair of seats to Game 4 of that World Series. Her favorite team is the Giants, so she should have went.  Instead she sent me and her husband to the game — I later paid her for the ticket, but the memories in and of themselves were priceless.

And on Oct. 25 of this year I reached out to my friend, a member of the media who was going to be covering the World Series. I was merely looking for a space to crash on his hotel room floor if I was able to find my own ticket to the event. But it was on that date that he was able to put me in touch with the person who had two tickets available at face value — the pair collectively cost me about two-thirds of what the asking price was on the single seat, despite being in the same section. The tickets were secured. I was heading to the World Series if the series went to a Game 5 … and I was taking my sister.

I have two children, a boy and a girl.  Both know I love baseball and my favorite team is the Red Sox. But neither of them have completely followed my footsteps in fandom yet.  My daughter is almost 10 and while she enjoys going to games, she doesn’t fully understand the significance of the games.  And my son, who is 8, is beginning to follow baseball — he reminds me of me, honestly — but I couldn’t take him to the World Series and leave my daughter in the cold. Parents know things have to be fair. If I was going to take the kids, I’d need another ticket. And as the saying goes, money doesn’t grow on trees.  So my sister was the natural selection.  Not only would I be repaying the favor of 2014, but she knows how much this means to me.

***

For two straight nights I sweated out Games 3 and 4.  I watched nearly all 18 innings of Game 3 and knew that if a Game 5 was to happen, Los Angeles would have to win either Game 3 or Game 4.  When that Max Muncy homer was crushed in the 18th, I had mixed emotions.  The Sox had lost a World Series game; but this also meant that I WAS GOING TO A RED SOX World SERIES GAME.

I got three hours of sleep before working Saturday morning; and then planned to get up at 4 a.m. on Sunday to make the drive with my sister from the San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles.  The journey started almost as planned; we were on the road by 5 a.m. and subsequently arrived at Dodger Stadium well before lunch time.

We went about our business; checked into the hotel and then returned to the stadium around 3 p.m., 40 minutes after gates opened, and still two hours before the game’s scheduled start time.

Pregame was pretty much what I expected, we took pictures of eachother, and picture together. Watched baseball media personalities on the field, watched Alex Cora and Dave Roberts — the managers for these two World Series teams who are friends in real life — converse, and then watched some Red Sox players talk, stretch and warm up before the game.  We then retreated to our seats in Reserved Seating 56, which is a section near the top of the right field foul line.  I didn’t care where we were sitting, all that mattered was that we were there to see the Red Sox on the verge of a World Series facing off against my favorite active player and his Dodgers teammates.

***

From the time I secured these seats, I knew that I was going to be emotional at this game at some point. And I knew that if that actually happened, by sister would be there to capture it.

I held my own through the National Anthem; through the first pitch, and Steve Pearce’s two-run homer off Kershaw in the Top of the first immediately put me at ease.  Save for the David Freese homer in the Bottom of the first off David Price, and the JD Martinez miscue that lead to a triple by Freese again a few innings later, there was little doubt the Sox were on their way.

Mookie Betts and JD Martinez, both of whom had MVP-Caliber type season but had gone into somewhat of a funk recently, went on to extend the lead with a pair of solo homers, and then Pearce capped off his World Series MVP candidacy with a solo shot to score the fifth and final run of the night for Boston.

By the top of the 9th inning, I had made plans to meet with my friend, who was seated in the auxillary press seating area above and behind home plate.  We exchanged pleasantries and found a way to stay in the section — which was somewhat empty because many media members had already began heading toward the field for the festivities that would ensue.

Chris Sale came out of the bullpen to close out the series.  With each pitch the anticipation began to build. With two outs, baseball’s newest postseason villain Manny Machado stepped to the plate. For the better part of three weeks, the mid-season Superstar acquisition had been nationally labeled as dirty and lazy due to his play. He swung at the first two pitches, and took a third that was a ball. On the fourth pitch, he somewhat corkscrewed himself into the ground on a swing that wouldn’t have even damaged a pinata. With that miss, the Red Sox were champions and my dream had come true.

I watched that final pitch with one eye on the field, and the other looking through the view finder of my Canon 7D, with which I was documenting the game. I took photos, and then put the camera down moments after Sale and catcher Christian Vasquez embraced, and were subsequently mobbed by their teammates.

I began to grimace. The feelings I thought would come had arrived and tears began to well in my eyes and stream down my face.

It’s often taboo for a man to admit he has been overcome with emotion, but that’s because all too often people are afraid to show their emotion as it is often seen as a weakness, instead of proving that you’re human.

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.

New Year, New Focus: The 10th Anniversary Edition

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , , , , , on July 12, 2018 by Cardboard Icons

It’s a tad bit embarrassing to admit this, but I recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of this blog. It’s weird to say that it’s been a decade since I started writing here; it’s even more awkward since the last few years have been relatively light on posts.

It’s been a turbulent decade to say the least, one filled with the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows both personally and in this hobby. But here, as I start this tenth year owning my own Web domain, I am on an even keel, with a new focus for my collection.

I’ve started to shift gears over the last year — a journey I’ve hinted at and have written about minimally — from straight cardboard to something else. Topps likes to use the slogan “bringing you closer to the game.” But I’ve decided to just eliminate the middleman when it comes to my new focus. The focus of my collecting efforts is now procuring game-used baseballs.  Not small pieces of the ball — which Topps, as a middleman, places into cards for the hobby — but the whole damn ball.

Whether you know it or not, your local (or favorite) Major League Baseball team will sell directly to you: jerseys, helmets, bases and other items — including balls — used in their games.  And most of these are not just generic “used” items. Everything from the teams come with an MLB Authentication holographic sticker and serial number that matches their database letting you know exactly when your item was used and often by whom it was used.

Like many collectors, I was intrigued by game-used memorabilia cards when they started to hit the market in the late 1990s.  And over the last 20 years I’ve owned thousands of the cards, a few hundred of which are still in my collection. But over time, the authenticity of the fabric has been brought into question. Furthermore, the ambiguity with which companies chose to word their certificates of authenticity is off-putting.

Take for instance Topps, which for years has pledged to bring us closer to the game but still uses verbiage to legally cover themselves by making no claim as to which season or year the enclosed item was used. Hell, sometimes they won’t even make a claim as to what the item is. Is that really a piece of bat used by Jackie Robinson or Babe Ruth, or a piece of a seat used at the stadiums in which the legends used to play? It wasn’t until recently that Topps began partnering more often with MLB Authentication to add some credibility (and collectability) to the modern relic cards

And Panini? Please … I don’t want cards with swatches from photo shoots and signing sessions, even if they are very appealing to the eye. I’m glad I don’t collect basketball or football cards as it is common place to see guys dropping hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars on breaks hoping to get a signed patch card featuring swatches handled and glanced at once by the pictured player.  BUT, at least Panini is clear on what these swatches … most of the time.

I digress. My point here isn’t to slam Topps or Panini — or even Upper Deck — for what they’ve provided to us collectors. Rather, my point is that what’s being offered these days just doesn’t fit my needs to feel like I own something special, something significant.

Enter: The game-used baseball.

The ball is white, the stitching is red, and in blue are the facsimile signature of the League commissioner and the logo of Major League Baseball. From several steps away — and even just a few inches away — one ball does indeed look just like other.  But if you look closely, none of them are identical. All of them are unique, especially when you take into consideration the way that MLB authenticates their items.

I know I am late to this hobby. But I’d argue that there is no better time to have gotten into this arena of sports memorabilia collecting. Have you see all of the information that MLB includes in their authentication?

It’s no longer about simply assuring you that the ball in your possession was actually used in a certain game. MLB’s Authentication program now includes the player who threw the ball, the hitter who was at the plate, and the fielders involved in the plays. Hell, the program now includes the speed and type of pitch thrown, as well as the launch angle off the bat … or off of a person.

Yes, I said off of a person.

On May 10, 2018, the Minnesota Twins faced off against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. On the mound for the Twins was right-handed 24-year-old pitching phenom Jose Berrios of Puerto Rico. At the plate in the fifth inning was 26-year-old Mike Trout, easily considered the best player in the game today.

Berrios reared back and threw a 92.5 mph fastball to get ahead of Trout 0-1. He then threw a slightly faster pitch (92.7 mph) down the middle of the plate to make the count 0-2.  On the third pitch Berrios lost control of a 92.8 mph fastball — the ninth straight fastball of the night to Trout if you watched the broadcast — and drilled Trout in left arm between the elbow guard and his bicep. Clearly it was a mistake pitch; but that goof created a one-of-a-kind collectable.

That ball was taken out of play, authenticated by MLB, and sold by the Angels.  And after passing through the hands of at least one other owner, the ball that struck generational player Mike Trout for his 57th career official Hit-By-Pitch now sits in my collection as one of the cornerstones for a segment of my game-used baseball collection that focuses solely on balls that struck players.

You see, the Trout HBP ball is not the first ball that I own which has caused a grown man to grimace in pain, or in Trout’s case cause him to turn away from home play, look upward for a few seconds and then flip his bat toward the dugout in disgust before trotting to first base.

This Trout ball is merely the latest of my admittedly odd theme.

My love for these HBP balls began only a year ago when taking in a Cubs game in San Francisco.  After the Aug. 7, 2017, game, I headed to the Giants official store at AT&T Park to buy a ball from the game as a momento, hopefully something with Kris Bryant’s name attributed to it.  Lo and behold the only available ball attributed to Bryant was the one that struck him on the left arm in the third inning — a 2-2 92.6 mph fastball that got away from Giants starter Matt Moore.

The acquisition that night ignited a passion that has now led to me owning nearly 10 pain-inducing baseballs, some of which I shall show off in the future.

Baseball cards have always been my collecting passion. But to say that the thrill is gone would be an understatement. The current products produced by manufacturers by and large just don’t appeal to me. And my goal of collecting Hall of Fame rookie or tobacco cards is one that I’m choosing to take a break– although truth be told, I’ve got the majority of the guys I’d sought many years ago.

And the stars of today? All those Bowman Chrome autos I collected? Yeah … I’m selling.

The crack in the foundation for these Chrome autos came last year when I decided to part ways with my BGS graded 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects Mike Trout. His basic autograph from that set had reach an all-time high and the money was just too appealing. Once I sold that card, it decreased the purpose to keep any of the other chromes. And so, as this tenth year of writing here, those Chromes will slowly start to hit the market as they no longer appeal to me.

Just don’t ask about my 2006 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks Refractor Clayton Kershaw. That’s not for sale as Kershaw is one of only two guys I’ve decided to focus my cardboard collecting attention.

2018 Topps cards offer these amusing Twitter and IG handles

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

In recent years, Topps has been doing a great job of incorporating social media into its physical baseball cards.

A few years ago in its Bowman brands, Topps had prospects sign cards with their Twitter handles. And in recent flagship issues we’ve seen Topps print the handles of players on the cards.

While sorting the handful of 2018 Topps packs I’ve purchased, I decided to choose the top five from the cards in my possession.

Clearly this list isn’t definitive,

and it’s totally subjective. If you’ve got a favorite, add it in the comments below.

No. 5: Sean Manaea (@BABYMGIRAFFE / Twitter)

While I’m not sure what the genesis of this username is, it appears to be “Baby,” his initials “SM,” and “Giraffe” pertaining to his height, which is listed here as 6’5. It’s probably worth noting that Manaea hasn’t tweeted from this account since October 2016.

No. 4 Harrison Bader ( @aybaybader / Twitter)

I don’t listen to rap or hip hop the way I used to, but even I could see this from a mile away. Harrison Bader riffed on Hurricane Chris – “Ay Bay Bay” here and it’s wonderful. A quick check of Twitter shows Bader is an active tweeter.

No. 3: Scott Feldman ( @scottyf_baby 37 / Instagram)

If I weren’t a wrestling fan, this may not have made my lost. But. When I read his Instagram handle (he has 3,730-plus followers) it made me think of Adam Cole … baby!

No. 2: Chad Kuhl (@KuhlWhhip_11 / Twitter)

A clever play on his name and the Cool Whip brand … I think. Whatever it is, it made me laugh. Chad had just shy of 3,900 followers at the time I wrote this.

No. 1: Walker Buehler (@buehlersdayoff / Twitter)

This was hands down the best twitter handle I’ve seen in my stack of cards and was really the reason I even decided to generate this list. I’m a big fan of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. And so, Mr. Buehler, if you ever read this …

Imagine me as Cam, sitting on the edge of the hot tub after Ferris saves him when he sinks to the bottom of the attached swimming pool:

“Walker Buehler you’re my hero …”

Sometimes you win, Sometimes you lose, Sometimes you break even … in theory

Posted in New Addition with tags , , , , , , , on February 18, 2018 by Cardboard Icons

About a month ago I located on eBay a lot of cards that I thought might have a nice return for me. The auction was poorly titled and clear as day in the pictures was what appeared to be a 1963 Topps Mickey Mantle.

For as long as I have been on eBay — which is now 20 years — I’d dreamed of coming up on a group of cards featuring an authentic Mantle card priced for next to nothing.

Well, I’ll need to keep dreaming.

I won the auction for $40 — a bit of a gamble, but not overly expensive. And when the cards arrived in my hands I opened the package and went straight to the Mantle. The card felt weird and the image looked soft. I grabbed my jewler’s loupe and confirmed my suspicion: The Mantle was a fake.

The stock was wrong. The type face was blurry and there were grain lines printed into the cardboard. And the card is slightly smaller than other 1963s I own.

Gone was the dream.

Gone was my confidence.

Gone was my $40. (The seller didn’t accept returns — which isn’t a problem as I do not allow them either.)

I let the cards sit on my coffee table for about a week before the disgust wore away and I was able to appreciate what was still in the package, which included two cards I did not already own.

The two highlights from this package were a 1973 Fleer Laughlin Baseball’s Famous Feats Babe Ruth and a 1976 MSA Isaly’s disc Hank Aaron. Both items are oversized, but would look neat in a display piece I’m thinking about making.

Additionally, the package also had this 1964 Topps Giants Harmon Killebrew, which is also oversized and may make its way into the piece I’m envisioning.

The remainder of the lot is rounded out by a 1964 Topps Jim Kaat, 1965 Topps league leaders HR featuring three Hall of Famers including Willie Mays, a 1969 Topps Deckle Luis Aparicio, two 1986 Sports Design Products unlicensed wannabe 1969 Cards of Whitey Ford and Eddie Mathews, and an intriguing 1957 Topps Dick Williams.

Why is the Williams intriguing? The bottom border has been cut off and a previous owner clearly had this thing taped to something — perhaps a bed post? — which always reminds me of how cards were enjoyed before they became items associated with money.

While the package didn’t quite deliver the value I’d hope, in hindsight it still offered more value than a lot of current stuff. I mean this lot did have vintage cards of three of the game’s most prolific power hitters — Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays.

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.