Saturday, July 13, 2024

The $1.99 Goodwill Grab Bag

The other day I was out thrifting and I hit up one of the Goodwill stores in town.  In addition to finding some all-timer hip-hop CDs that never show up at thrift stores (Biggie, Gravediggaz, Brand Nubian), there were several bagged stacks of cards hanging on a rack near the checkout.  The usual suspects were there, none of which were worthy of coming home with me, but there was one bag that had me intrigued.
Initially it was the 1970 Topps Scratch Off that caught my eye, and the reduced price sticker ($1.99, a buck less than usual) was what drove it home.  Let's see if there was anything interesting inside.

First, the Jim Spencer Scratch Off.  Really rough shape, but the presence of the black residue suggests that this was once part of a bigger pile of these, and there might be more inside.
That's a big nope.  No more were to be found, and the game had been played to its maximum.

Next up, a pair of 1982 Fleer.  I actually have a list going for this set, but I didn't need wither of these guys.

There were exactly four 1982 Topps cards in the bag, two of Ed Romero and two of Randy Lerch.  Some home cooking, I see.  They'll go into the Brewers box next June, where there are likely a few more just like them.
We saw Joe Niekro from outside the bag, and there were a bunch more 1981 Topps.  I already have the whole set, and there's nothing special here, but I do like the ink smear on the Sees-toh Brewers card.

For the rest of the package we stay in the early '80s with a pile of 1982 Donruss.  Got some top-tier Diamond Kings, a few more than once.
The only problem with these is a flaw with the upper left corner on the back of most of them.  Probably the result of some improper storage techniques over the last 40-plus years.

Here are the rest of the base cards from the same set.
Not many standouts here, either.  This foursome is probably the best of the bunch.  Gene Tenace is included for absolutely killing it during the 1972 World Series, and Jerry Augustine makes the cut because not only was he a Brewer, he was also the head coach of the UW-Milwaukee baseball team in the late 1990s and early 2000s.  He even for the team into the NCAA tournament, which doesn't happen often in this northern climate.

It was a good grab bag of cards whose status could improve depending on how things shake out once I get the Donruss sorted.  I'm just glad I didn't get Bipped.

But I came pretty damn close.

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Packs That Just Showed Up #4

We're digging deep into the category labeled "Stuff I Wouldn't Buy."  My rule of thumb for logo-less sports cards is, if it didn't get cut off a box of Fruit Roll-Ups or from the frozen innards of a package of regionally branded chimichangas, I don't want it.  Or, at the very least, I won't seek it out.  Panini baseball cards, as they are currently sold, just aren't for me.  Let's see what was inside this ten-year-old pack of 2014 Panini Donruss baseball cards.  

195 Johnny Bench
Not a bad start, seeing as the chest protector and backwards helmet obscure the missing stuff.

132 Giancarlo Stanton
The backs mimic the basic blue design of 1986 or 1988 Donruss.

175 Jay Bruce
Bruce retired shortly after the start of the 2021 season, which he started with the New York Yankees.  File that one away for the Immaculate Grid.

70 Troy Tulowitzki
Tulo retired in the the middle of the 2019 season, also with the New York Yankees.

72 Elvis Andrus
Elvis is not currently with any MLB team, but has not yet retired.

40 Tim Beckham Rated Rookie
It's interesting to note that at the back end of the aughts, two players with the same last name were selected as top 10 draft picks.  Tim here was #1 overall in 2008, and in that same draft the White Sox chose Gordon Beckham.  Collectors were left to wonder which Beckham would break through as an eventual superstar.  The answer, sadly, was neither.  That's the way it usually goes.

153 Domonic Brown
Six-year career with the Phillies, All-Star in 2013.

138 Victor Martinez
After Bench, probably the best player in the pack.  Named an American League All-Star five times.

As stated this product is not my cup of tea, but I will file these cards away in a box marked, for the time being, "2013-Present."  Such is the state of my collection of "recent" cards.

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Packs That Just Showed Up #3

Let's keep the Topps Heritage posts coming, shall we?  This next pack that somehow showed up at my house is a retail pack of 2016 Topps Heritage High Number Baseball.  This set features stars from seven years ago in the 1967 design.
The wrapper depicts a baseball player for a nondescript team getting tripped up by the controversial "mashed potato hazard," a short-lived attempt to slow runners on the basepaths during a portion of the 1966 season.  A literal and figurative "hot potato," the obstacle was abandoned after a two-week test run that August.  The baseball world never got to see the reputed follow-up, gravy foul lines.

Let's see who we get.
623 Denard Span
536 Ryan Madson
596 Adam Warren
661 Geovany Soto
RP-JU Julio Urias Rookie Performers

You know what, I had this card scanned and ready, but I'm going to leave it out of this post.  This blog has no space available for men who abuse women.  Insert or not, I'm moving on.

Actually, let's go back a step and recognize the good works of Denard Span, who started the Denard Span Foundation, which aims to "serve and empower single-parent homes."  Bravo to you, good sir.

523 Logan Verrett
655 Matt Reynolds
558 Mike Napoli
654 Brad Ziegler
As far as I know, no domestic abuse pleas from any of this quartet.
And while we're at it, let's give a shout out to Brad Ziegler, who is apparently a pretty serious card collector.  One of us! 

Not an amazing pack, but still a nice look back a few years.

Saturday, June 29, 2024

Completion! - A Familiar Face

This is a post that's a long time coming.  Shortly after completing my 1959 Topps set, I received the final card needed to finish the modern set using the same design, the 2008 Topps Heritage High Number set.  The card that completed the set was #686 Gavin Floyd of the Chicago White Sox, a card that was short printed.

Let's take a tour of some of the highlights of this set.
Unlike it's 1959 design-sake, the Rookie Stars subset checklist was amazingly robust, featuring rookie cards of Max Scherzer...
Evan Longoria...
...and Clayton Kershaw.
(Editor's Note: Death Stare Cards normally eschew graded and slabbed cards, but when the time came to acquire this Kershaw, this BCCG version was actually selling for less than any raw versions we could find.)

My Milwaukee Brewers are looking good in this team photo.  Good job by the photographer to keep everyone especially well lit while the sun was rising behind them.

Onto the inserts.  There are more Then & Now cards, continuing from the original series.
Some more Then & Now cards, and the first half of the Rookie Performers inserts.  Again, a distinctly strong checklist with these rookies.  That Kershaw is very nice.
More Rookie Performers.
The last two rookies and some of the 2008 Flashbacks.  Griffey, Pujols, Ichiro, all legends.

And to finish things off, I also completed the partial parallel of black backs.  These are actually very easy to find, and key cards usually cost less as a black back than the regular green ink back.  I think I finished these off before I was a parent, and I'm slated to have a teenager in the house later this summer.  So it goes.
The Kershaw black back parallel.  This one actually came out of one of my boxes 15+ years ago, didn't have to hunt it down.

Is this the end of the story?  Maybe not.  I do have a pretty tall stack of chrome parallels from this set and the regular Heritage set.  That impossible-to-find Jerry Hairston is throwing me off the scent, though.  (Look it up, it's a dark corner of Topps Heritage history.)
As for now, I'm happy with this set in its binder with the requisite box cover header.  One of my most enjoyable periods of collecting is, for the most part, done.

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Completion! - 1959 Topps

I teased this several weeks ago on whatever I'm using as my current social media account, but then life came at me fast.  Before we get any further here, can we all just agree that the spring kind of sucks?  Yes, baseball gets underway, but for those of us from certain walks of life, February through May can be a real slog.  I race across town three nights a week for soccer practice, which eats up my whole evening.  Kids at school are going crazy because of district policies that have basically turned elementary schools into middle schools (in terms of behavior) over the past two decades.  And there have been a bunch of weekends when I've been out of town the whole time.  First Communions, water parks, Illinois soccer tournaments that don't even use linespeople to help officiate the games (WTF?!?!), it all got busy.  Most of it was fun, but the time to post just didn't exist.
But here we are now, time to unveil the final card I acquired to complete my 1959 Topps baseball card set.
#217 Carl Erskine

Back when you start a set like this, you never really know who the last guy is that you'll need.  To be honest, back when you start a set like this, you don't even know you're starting.  I'm not even really sure how long it took me.  I just know that I was at a card show in the late aughts, and there was a guy selling cards from the 1950s for 50 cents each.  Condition wasn't great, but I scooped up a bunch that looked cool.  What also helped was the 2008 Heritage set being released.  We're quickly coming up on a year when the Heritage design will come from a year during which I was alive, but at the time 1959 might as well have been 1776 or 1215.
For a while, my tiny collection of '59s just sat in a stack, not doing much of anything or bothering anybody.  At some point, I started going after the big boys in the set.  Getting the Mickey Mantle #10 in pretty decent condition at a fair price was probably what started to make things feel possible.
Yeah, I keep them in a binder.  Sue me.  Report me to the slab police.  I just prefer to put cards in albums instead of toting them around in a gun safe.  They're documents form the past, but they're not the U.S. Constitution.  They need to be accessible.  Cards tell the story of baseball, so a book seems like the best place for them.

Speaking of slabs, I have one card that isn't in the binder.  Back when I bought the Bog Gibson RC, I wanted to make sure I was getting the real deal.  The price on this PSA 4 is probably double now what I paid for it.  Glad I got most of the big ones pre-pandemic.  He would look really nice next to the Killebrew, though.

For the rest of this post, I'll just share photos of a few key cards/pages.  You'll see that condition varies from card to card, but I tried to get nice clean copies of all of the stars.
First page, starting with #1 Commissioner Ford Frick.

Hank Aaron, with Don Drysdale in the corner.

Fence Busters, Aaron and Mathews

Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks.

Both Robinsons on one page, what a great coincidence.

All those beautiful Baseball Thrills.

Mays, right in the center of things.

Campanella: Symbol of Courage, and the start of the All-Stars.

And finally, the page you show to people to make their eyes bug out.  It's one Holy Hell of a completed page, to be sure.

And now that I'm at the end of this post, I'm realizing that I've left out Sandy Koufax at least*, and there are probably a bunch more.  Oh well.  It was great fun building the set for the last 15-ish years, and now all that's left is to decide which one to try next.  Thanks for reading!

*Oh JEEZ, Roberto Clemente, too!  On two different cards!

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Trade Me Anything XVII #9

If there's one thing I can count on with this annual TMA event, it's getting a trade package from Zpop in the springtime.  Hey, we had snow when this year's edition began (well, close to the opening, anyways, thanks to a Halloween snowstorm), and we've had snowfall since Zpop's package arrived, so in my book this all falls within the confines of winter.  The envelope, please.
#US97 Kenta Maeda Gold Foil, #BG-11 Riley Greens ToppsBlackGold, #US145 Jeter Downs, #US257 Leody Taveras

Odd Man Out by Matt McCarthy
I've already read one baseball book this year, I'm in the middle of another one, and there's a third on the to-read pile.  Not complaining, though, I do try to get to everything you guys send me.  I look forward to reading this as I love books about athletes who are also smart.  Allow me to recommend John Urschel's Mind and Matter, it's at the top of this genre.
Package of NL East Stickers ca. 1990
Price tag on the back is from 2018 and displays a retail price of a hefty $0.19.
Pack of 2021 Topps WWE Heritage Cards
I got heavy into a couple of WWE Heritage sets a few years before this one.  It will likely make an appearance on a future post.

Thanks for a nice trade, Zpop, I look forward to reading, opening, and sticking.