Archive for Topps

Another iconic card added to the Icons collection

Posted in New Addition with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

Additions to my personal collection have slowed down in recent months, so when I make an acquisition that fits into that “PC” category, I shall share it.

Like many of you I have an addiction, a true sickness for cardboard. I say this somewhat in jest, but there is some truth to it. I spend more money on cards than I should; I even find myself buying stuff just for the sake of buying. Don’t laugh, you might be in the same boat but just not willing to admit it.

But rather than walk away from the hobby that has been a part of my life since I was 7 years old, the way I “right the ship” so to say is to find one card to add to my collection; one that i can point to and say, “THAT is why I collect.”

img_0879And today that card is the 2001 SP Legendary Cuts Game-Used bat card of the one and only “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.

When it comes to memorabilia cards I have many of the greats.

I have Mantle. I have Mays. I have Aaron.

I have Ruth. I have Gehrig. I have DiMaggio.

I have Mathewson. I have Cobb. I have Wagner.

And the list goes on …

But there has always been one player whose memorabilia card that has taunted me from a  distance. And now I can look at Joe Jackson eye to eye and clutch his card between my thumb and index finger like it were a big ol’ bass and say, “Gotcha!”

For a long time Jackson, the controversial baseball player whose legendary playing career is forever tied to the gambling scandal of the “Black Sox,” really only had one licensed memorabilia card, this 2001 Upper Deck release. More than a half-decade after the card’s release, Donruss (then owned by the company known as Donruss Playoff) lost its MLB license and with that came the release of various logo-less products. This “free reign” seemingly allowed them to produce cards of Jackson, base and insert cards, as well as memorabilia cards. Panini America, who now owns the Donruss name, continues to produce Jackson cards in all forms under various brand names.There now are several options for collectors when it comes to Jackson memorabilia cards.

Meanwhile, Topps, the only company with the MLB license, has not produced any cards, likely because Jackson has been blackballed — not unlike Pete Rose — from licensed products. His name is often met with a head tilt and a grimace as Jackson’s actions in the gambling scandal are still somewhat debatable, although time has shown that he may have been the good guy in all of it.

Nonetheless, Jackson is still a baseball icon. Over his 13-year career he notched a .356 batting average and tallied 1,772 hits. And while I don’t own any of his older cards, at least I can say that I now own a piece of Jackson’s bat and it’s not just on any card. It’s THE Jackson memorabilia card, which is one of the most recognizable in our hobby.

A few CARDS from the toy show

Posted in New Addition with tags , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

This weekend we celebrated my son’s sixth birthday with a trip to a place he chose — the toy show. He’d never been to a toy show — and for that matter neither had I — but he wanted to go so we took the family and a bunch of his cousins and gave them money to pretty much buy whatever they wanted.

While this was a toy show, I held out hope that I might find a few card/sports-related items for myself.  And that I did, while spending a grand total of $10.

What did I find?  Here ya go.

img_0458One seller had a cigar box with vintage cards in warped top loaders.  His prices weren’t bad … just not at the level that I wanted. And almost every card in the box that appealed to me — major stars from the 1960s — were ones I already owned. But he had one item I did want. This 1972 Topps Baseball wrapper. The wrapper is not in perfect shape, and from what i can tell it was folded down flat and then sealed again with wax.  It now fits in a top loader. And while the “value” of said wrapper may be diminished by the fact that it is not in its original state, I have three words that best describe my feelings on that: I Don’t Care. I just think it’s a cool-ass item to have in my collection. Would I buy another at $4? Probably not.  But I’d be open to owning other wrappers.

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Another seller at the show is actually a tandem whom I see quite often at one of the local flea markets.  And his items are usually priced really well.  He had a slew of toys and a few cases of sports cards, some high-end.  Then he also has these boxes of cards that he sells for $1 each and others that are $2 or three for $5.

There were quite a few cards I wanted to buy but I decided to harness my impulse and opt for just a few.

I purchased ONE card from the $1 box, this 2016 Topps Gold Jose Bautista. That bat flip is still amazing. And the price for this card was HALF of the price of a pack of cards.  That’s a win.

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And from the $2 each/ three for $5 boxes I selected these three:

2015 Topps Allen &Ginter Mini No Number on Back /50 Nolan Arenado, 2016 Donruss Signature Series Elias Diaz and 2016 Stadium Club Kole Calhoun autograph.

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Two of the three will be headed to COMC with my next submission, but the Calhoun is a card that I really like.  Good (not great) player, fantastic image and a clean, loopy signature. For $1.66 that’s a nice addition to my collection.

 

 

MLB Network host returns autograph; gives scoop on upcoming set

Posted in TTM Success with tags , , , , , , , on September 9, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

When 2016 Topps Allen & Ginter came out a few months ago one of the first cards I pulled was that of Heidi Watney, the Fresno, Calif. native who currently hosts “Quick Pitch” on MLB Network. It’s no secret that the television network is my favorite. So one of my goals was to get this card signed.

img_1991Moments after I pulled it I posted a picture of the card on Twitter and tagged Heidi, asking her if she’d sign the card.  Much to my surprise she answered the question — and it was in the affirmative.

Before I penned my letter to Heidi I managed to acquire another copy of the card so I felt it right to send one for her to keep and one that I hoped she would return inked.  And along with the cards I sent to the Network address a letter asking her about cards focusing on the Network personalities.

You see, the Network had a soft launch in late 2008 and then went full boar in January 2009. I was right there from the beginning.  My daughter was born in January 2009 and in the days before her birth and in the weeks after I spent many a night and early morning with my eyes clued to the TV network. Heck, I wrote this piece titled “Dear MLB Nework, I Love You” on Jan. 1, 2009, after I discovered that an item that I picked up at a flea market months earlier was the object being showcased in an original commercial shown during the full airing of Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series. Check out the post if for no other reason to see some cool baseball nostalgia.

In the years after the Network’s launch I contact a few different people at the Network about a baseball card set that may or may not exist featuring some of the personalities of the early days of the network.  I still have not pined down if the set exists.

Nonetheless, when I wrote my letter to HeidI I let her know that I was a fan of the Network and wanted to know if she had any information about the rumored set. On Friday I received my return envelope with the above shown signed card and this hand-written letter on MLB Network stationary giving me a scoop:

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So, while the mystery still remains about the rumored existing set, apparently there IS one on the way. (It should be noted I haven’t confirmed this with Topps.)

Thanks to Heidi for the autograph and for the hand-written note.

The Joy of Sets

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Kid Collectors, Misc. with tags , , , , , , , on September 7, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

We did it. My son and I completed our first baseball card set.

There is something special in this hobby about a parent collector who is able to pass down the hobby to their child or children, and at times I wondered if my children would ever be into the same hobby that i have enjoyed for almost 30 years.

I mean my kids (ages 7 and 5) have always been around my stuff, and at times they’d ask about why I collect cards, but when I’d offer to buy them sports cards they often pass, or ask for some cartoon cards, comic cards or something else.  It’s cool; I get it. I’ve always been of the mindset that if my kids didn’t enjoy my hobby then I would not force it upon them. But I’ve always been willing to support whatever hobby they decided to take up.

And then just a week ago my son asked me about baseball cards. He wanted to know more. He wanted me to buy some. He wanted me to buy some for him.

insert tear drop.

img_1851Without hesitation I bought a blaster of 2016 Topps Bunt. He enjoyed it (and so did his cousin). I told him about Hank Aaron — one of the first cards he pulled — and how at one point Aaron had the most home runs in baseball. And when I said the name he remembered a conversation we had a few months ago about a signed 16×20 photo of Hammerin’ Hank that I have hanging on the wall. “That’s him!” he said pointing to the photo and then looking at the card.

So yeah, proud Dad moment for me. Anyhow, a day after we ripped into those packs, we went to a different card shop to pick up some supplies and he asked me about buying a few more packs of Topps BUNT.

For my readers who don’t know much about BUNT, it’s a price-friendly product that features a great 200-card checklist that mixes old and new players.  In my opinion it has been Topps’ greatest effort to bring in the new collectors as the set is based on the popular Topps BUNT digital trading card app.

Anyhow, I looked at my son and he was genuinely excited. At that moment I decided just to buy an entire 36-pack box as it was only about $30.  I figured it’d be something we could open together and maybe put the set together.

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It took us a few days to open all of the packs, even with the assistance of his cousin. We could have rushed through it, but I wanted to take time and look at each card and read the player name and the team, in a way I was hoping that I was laying the ground work for future endeavors and the foundation of baseball knowledge. So when he started to get tired of opening or reading, we stopped for the day and later picked it up.

After a few days we finished going through the box. We separated all of the base cards from the inserts and then separated the code cards — which can be used to unlock packs of digital cards in the phone app.

The next step was to see if we had a complete set. I grabbed a stack of 9-pocket Ultra Pro binder pages and used a black marker to number each of the pockets. I figured this would be a simple way for my son (and his cousin who helped us at times) to see where the cards go. In a round about way this was another school lesson for them as they are in kindergarten and still learning some of their numbers.

img_1745And so we spent maybe a total of three hours over two days taking turns reading the card number and then finding its location in the binder. And by the end we had a complete 200-card set with 22 cards left over.

I’m sure some of you — if you’re still reading — are wondering what the entire set is worth. Honestly, not much in terms of actual money. I mean while there are some big names in here and some decent rookie cards, the set could probably be bought in its entirety on eBay for about $20. And yes, it’s easier to just buy an entire set, but what’s the real fun in that?

While not worth much money, this product just got my kid into the hobby, gave him a task to complete — which didn’t involve pixelated pick axes (yes, I’m speaking of Minecraft) — taught him some organizational skills;  involved reading words, names, logos and numbers; involved hand-eye coordination as we placed the cards into binder pages, AND was definitely quality father-son time.

Never again will I call a low-priced baseball card set worthless as it can be priceless for others.

Thanks, Topps.

 

Target run reminds me WHY I collect

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Misc. with tags , , , , , , on September 2, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

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I made a brief Target run late last night to grab some necessities and made the obligatory stop in the card aisle. There wasn’t anything “new” to buy, but there was a Fairfield repack 20-pack box that intrigued me. There were a handful of 2014 Prizm Draft Picks packs inside, some 2015 Topps Series 2 packs (Think Kris Bryant rookies) and what was clearly two 1991 Stadium Club packs, along with other stuff.

I’ve opened my fair share of 1991 Stadium Club, but I was still feeling nostalgic about cards at the time. You see this week I think I finally got my son into the hobby; earlier in the day we went to the card shop and he had a blast. (*Side note: A big thank you to Kevin at Stevens Creek Sports Cards for the stack of free commons you gave to my son. He loved them.) I digress.

The Prizm packs, the jumbo 2015 Heritage and Topps Series 2 packs seemed to make the box worth the price, but the two 25-year-old packs really set the hook in me.

For the uninitiated, 1991 Stadium Club was quite possibly one of the finest card sets released in it’s time. Sure, we remember 1989 Upper Deck for the premium Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card.  And we recall 1990 Leaf for having another iconic rookie card in Frank Thomas, as well as dozens of other rookie cards of stars from the time. But 1991 Stadium Club was THE premium baseball card. Every card featured full-bleed photographs, gold foil and high gloss that got you high (read:not really, but if you opened this stuff as a kid, the scent is one you’ll never forget. Packs were several dollars each upon release and star cards — not rookies — were in high demand. Griffey and Thomas were each well over $20 for a while.

My guy at the time was Roger Clemens, the flame-throwing perennial Cy Young award candidate. I couldn’t afford these packs when I was a kid, but I distinctly asking my dad for $5 and then riding three miles on my bike to the local card shop to buy one card — the Roger Clemens 1991 Stadium Club that had been sitting in the show case of Brian’s Books  in Santa Clara, Calif.

Flash forward to last night.  I worked late and then made said Target run.  When I got home I took the above photo, opened all of the packs save for two — the 1991 Stadium Club. Whatever lurked inside these packs was surely worth nothing more than a few pennies. But the nostalgia is everything and that can be priceless. I tore opened the first pack, flipped card by card and then it happened — the second last card:

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There is Clemens is all his glory. That pose. That glove. That spring training uniform. Just like I remember it. True, I could probably get a brick of 500 of this exact card for like $10 because no one cares about him or this card anymore, but none of those would be as valuable as just this one card, for at last I had pulled something I could only dream of as a kid.

Someone asked me recently: WHY do you collect baseball cards?

This is why.

It’s not really about the money. It’s not really an investment because cards rarely appreciate with time under normal circumstances.

It’s about the memories. It’s about how in an instant single worthless card can transport you back a quarter of a century to the moment when you asked a parent for money and trekked clear across town to buy a card of your childhood sports hero.

I have other reasons for collecting what I do. And sometimes I can’t fully explain it. But THIS is probably the strongest reason why.

Topps BUNT blaster stocked with Trout; creates fun break for kids

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Misc. with tags , , , , , , on August 30, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

My kids know the drill.  When we need something, anything, for the house we’re making a Target run. And the first thing we do there is make a b-line for the baseball card aisle.

IMG_1490Tuesday was no different as my son and I went to gather some items for he and his sister’s school lunches. And when we got to the card aisle, my 5-year-old son pointed to a blaster of Topps BUNT and said,”Look, Daddy!”  He remembered the packaging from a few packs of the product that we bought last week at our local card shop.  In all honesty I wasn’t planning to buy the blaster, but I’m not going to say no if my son is showing an interest in my hobby.

So he picked the blaster as we carried one with our shopping.  When we got home, he and I started opening packs, and then my nephew of the same age came over so I let him wrestle his way into a few packs. No, seriously, look at that effort! (I got his parent’s permission to turn it into a meme.)

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It was fun watching the boys work their way into these wrappers. I’ve opened thousands of baseball cards packs in my near three decades in this hobby. I miss the old wax packs as they really weren’t a problem at all. I even remember the Sportflics brand that had wrappers similar to those used on Pop Tarts — the noise those wrappers made was weird. Upper Deck’s foil wrappers were always a treat because in their early days, the product was considered premium. The worst by far was Score — it was like someone took a plastic shopping bag and just heat-sealed a stack of 15 cards inside. I digress.

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The kids seemed to get a kick out of opening the packs. My son has a little experience with this but it still learning. But he figured it’d be best to put his knowledge to use and he tried to teach his cousin: Pinch at the top with your left hand, used your right thumb and index finger to pinch the flap and pull.

Now once the wrapper was started, the process got a little more tricky. The kids seem to think it’s cool to open the wrapper like 20 percent of the way and yank the cards out of the packs.  A few corners did not survive, but I looked to change that behavior real quick. And but the time we got through the 11 packs (remember, it’s 10 packs plus ONE bonus pack for $9.99) the boys had it down pretty good.

We went card by card; naming the player and the team. We also kept tabs of “special” (insert) cards and the code cards, which I explained were for the app on my phone. And when they hit a big name, I explained who they were/are and what that have accomplished.

My nephew managed to pull a Ken Griffey jr., a Roberto Clemente and Kyle Schwarber insert in his packs — as well as a Babe Ruth that somehow got stuck to another card and I didn;t see until I sorted the cards later. And my son reeled in a pair of keeper-size Mike Trouts, the base and a sweet “Unique Unis” insert as well.  He also nabbed a Corey Seager rookie, which was cool to see.

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I’ll be honest: I love this brand. I bought a blaster for myself about two weeks ago and knew that it was a perfect set to share the collecting experience with my kids. It’s cheap, has a loaded checklist of current and legendary players, and offers a super long shot at ink, which is appealing in that when/if you hit one it’ll be akin to finding a Elite Series insert in those early 1990s packs. I see many more packs and/or blasters of this and more in their futures.

 

Cardboard Icons author in video interview about hobby, collection

Posted in Commentary, Misc. with tags , , , , , on August 26, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

Late last week Patrick at Radicards.com hit me up about doing an “on-camera” interview with him about the hobby. I paused initially because for years I was the one asking questions, not the one answering them. And for so long I had this phobia of being in front of the camera. But after some thought I decided to do the interview. And I’m glad I did.

It’s a 30-minute video, edited down from our hour-long discussion,  The audio on my end starts out low but does get better. We touch on my history in the hobby, why I collect what I do, some discussion about the state of our hobby and so forth.  Give it a watch (or listen) at your leisure. It was a lot of fun to do.

And if you’ve never seen Radicards, take an opportunity to check it out.  There are dozens of interviews like mine sitting there waiting to be watched, which is somewhat unique because we don’t often get to see people talking about the hobby other than when they are busting wax.

Thanks for reading (or in this case watching),

Ben, Cardboard Icons.

Reach me via e-mail at cardboardicons@yahoo.com; on Twitter at @cardboardicons, and LIKE the new Cardboard Icons FACEBOOK page