Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Thrill Is Gone

Packing up your collection can be a sobering experience. 

Right now the spare bedroom I use for an office has about a dozen monster boxes piled up, along with another dozen or so smaller boxes, ranging from shoebox sized to the ones that hold a hundred or two hundred cards.

The conclusion?  I have way too many cards.  After all, these boxes are just (most of) my Pirates and some assorted trade bait.  I probably have twice as much still being stored at my parents'.

And seeing all those cards stacked up tells me a couple things:

1) I have an awesome collection.  And not in the self-aggrandizing, 'look at me, I'm awesome' kind of way.  After all, though I do have some "high dollar" cards, my favorites continue to be fun odds and ends.

Cardboard reminders of forgotten players.  An awesome 1995 Topps Cyberstars Kenny Lofton that reminds me of playing with my Starting Lineup figures in front of the tv with my dad while watching the '96 All-Star game. 

Those cards, in the grand scheme of things, are more important than any patch auto superfractor metallic prism doodad.

We're still about a week out from the move, and my days largely consist of stressing, packing, cleaning, and more stressing.  My typical outlet would be to do...something...with cards.  But at this stage that all seems counterproductive.  I want to scale back my buying for a while.  I can't sort because...that would just cause a big ole mess. 

But I guess that's the ebb and flow of collecting.  It might not be a bad thing to pack up the collection for a bit, and then appreciate them even more when it's all unpacked again.

Then again, these may just be the ramblings of a guy who absolutely hates moving.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Nomad

Sometimes I feel like a very well educated drifter.  And no, not the doo-wop variety.  Since college, I've pretty much moved once a year.  Into the dorm, out of the dorm.  One house with awkward roommates to another house with my girlfriend and equally awkward roommates.  During grad school, I managed to stay in the same apartment for two years.  But here we are, and I find myself boxing up my life after almost exactly one year to the day.

What does that mean for my cardboard traveling companions?  It means that attempts at sorting and organizing are aborted midway, and boxed up.  I'll surely get back to them in a few weeks, once the moving craziness settles and my life again unpacks itself.  Of course...I'll likely have no idea where I was in the process, or vaguely recall what my plans for those cards were, brilliant schemes lost to the fog of stress.

No scans (for now at least), but I made my final trip down to Dayton.  The show as decent, but unspectacular, and I don't think I spent more than $20 total, a decent chunk of which went towards cards I will be moving in one form or another.  Still, I found around 50 new Pirate cards,and a handful of other Pittsburgh-centric collecting fodder. 

One nice thing about being a team collector is the never ending quest.  And even when I find myself boring of the current array of cards I'm chasing, there are always fun oddball cards to add.  These cards came from the Robert Morris show last month, and are very cool additions.  They are from a playing card series released around 05 or 06.  I know they released the for all 3 major Pittsburgh teams, and presumable other cities as well, featuring some of the team's most popular players on the cards.

I didn't come away with a complete set, but I ended up paying far less than the decks cost at retail, since I see them for between $10-15 when I am able to find them online.  I'd certainly love to complete the "set" without having to shell out for the whole deck.

And now...back to packing.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Going,Going, Gone

You know how I've been really bad about posting in recent weeks?  Well, it looks like that won't be getting better any time soon.

We're escaping the clutches of Browns/Bengals territory for an opportunity that came up in Pittsburgh.  As you can imagine the opportunity to move back home has lots of advantages when it comes to friends and family, and the job is pretty nice in and of itself.  But...the card shows.

Pittsburgh basically doesn't have shows anymore, aside from the one biggie (which I still haven't finished posting about) each year.  Mall shows have dwindled from one every month or two to a couple per year, and there's little in the area beyond that. 

Pretty sad for such a sports crazy town.

I will miss living out of market, since I've been able to add quite a few Pirate cards and literally triple my Pens and Steelers collections thanks to the great show in Dayton each month.

I may still try to make it to the Vets show in Columbus.  Quite a few of the Dayton dealers set up there, and I know a few bloggers have mentioned the show is nearby or them.  It would certainly be cool to meet some of the people whose collecting exploits I follow from cyber-land.

So what does this mean for you, my loyal reader?  I'll be spending most of the next two weeks packing, and then another week or so unpacking.  I'll try to get posts up as much as possible, but I literally just boxed up all of the cards in the apartment, so my backlog of trades, show pickups, and online buys will have to wait even longer.  But it also means I have some added incentive to get some packages out in the mail for some folks I've been building stacks for. 

So we'll call this a brief vacation from blogging.  If there are any outstanding trade packages coming my way, I should be getting mail here for the next week or two.  Or just drop me an email and I'll send you a new and improved address!

So until next time, here is a scan of my last scan before everything got boxed up.  Jose Tabata sure does get some nice photos in card sets for a guy whose play is less than spectacular.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

"Wait, When Did He Play There?" (Not) Wedesday

Alright, I'm a day late on this one.  But it was just too good to wait on.

Walt Terrell enjoyed a pretty lengthy carer as a starter in the majors for a decade.  He was a solid, if unspectacular, pitcher who put up pretty consistent numbers across his career.

...and then he came to Pittsburgh.

Terrell had put up era's in the high 3's to low 4's for most of his career until he his a rough patch with the Yankees in 1989.  Presumably a bounceback candidate, the Bucs signed him for the 1990 season. 

There would be no bounce.

In 16 starts with the Bucs,  he wen 2-7 with a 5.88 ERA before being released in July.

But of course n typical Pirates fashion, this wouldn't be the last seen of Terrell.  He caught on with Detroit for the second half of the season, and would stick in their rotation with mixed success for the next two seasons.

His Bowman release is the only mainstream card to feature Terrell as a Pirate, though his 1990 O-Pee-Chee does note "now with Pirates" in small text near his front knee.

As I've mentioned, the Pirates track record with free agent signings is far from stellar.  But their track record with released players finding success elsewhere is off the charts.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Last Reason To Use Beckett

Growing up, there were few things as exciting as a new Beckett issue.  I read and reread every issue I had in my pre-teen years, pouring over the articles and memorizing the price guide for cards I had absolutely no chance of ever buying or selling.

Back then the magazine seemed cool, it seemed important.  As I grew a bit older and started to take collecting more seriously, I found Beckett's online forum.  It was the first time I really interacted with fellow collectors beyond the few people I would run into at the local shop, and was a wonderfully knowledgeable group of collectors.

And then, like many media companies unable or unwilling to adjust to the digital marketplace, they screwed up everything.  A website redesign in 2007 or 2008 rendered the website virtually useless.  The print magazine was lightyears beyond its usefulness in media terms.  The redesign included an overhaul of the My Collections feature, and subsequent redesigns that rendered it less than user friendly.  And of course the forum's dynamics changes, as moderators began suspending and banning knowledgeable members while a gaggle of obnoxious pre-teens ran wild over the place, presumable forsaking their Halo controllers for scamming people on the internet.

Needless to say, I don't visit Beckett much.  But I figured their checklists were still useful, right?

As I move my collection to pages, I wanted to cross reference my haves with a masterchecklist so I can leave appropriate space for new additions.

I knew the checklist was far from complete, leaving out countless regional, minor league, and oddball releases, while including those obnoxious renumbered "convention" cards that I couldn't care less about.  But...the's all they have left.  It has to be accurate.

And of course it wasn't.  I didn't notice any glaring issues, like the absence of major Roberto Clemente cards.  But I did notice the absence of other players.  When searching by team, some of those lesser guys just don't exist as Pirates in sets where they are clearly pictured in black and gold.
Bruce Aven managed to avoid the Pirates checklist, as well as the memories of most Bucs fans.

So does John Vander Wal,, who had some success with the Pirates.

Both guys spent limited time with the team, and were traded mid year, so perhaps their cards were all miscategorized as their latter season team for that year.  Still, it was a bit frustrating to have to not just cross reference the Beckett checklist, but then double check that against my own excel sheet to make sure I wasn't leaving any cards out.

I may just stick to teamsets4u for team checklists from now on, though they aren't exactly excel-friendly.

You know, with all the advances in technology, you'd think someone would have come up with a navigable, comprehensive checklist by now.  It's just not surprising that it wasn't Beckett.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Movin' On Up

It seems like life is intent upon making it tough for me to keep up a semi-regular posting schedule.

We ended up spending a long weekend out of town due to two job interviews coming up, both of which would move us closer to Pittsburgh.  So I guess I shouldn't complain too much.

And better yet, when I arrived home I had a pile of bubble mailers waiting for me, and a case of 9 pocked pages.

Yes, a case.  Ten boxes of 100 pages.  As I start transferring my Pittsburgh collections, I'm quickly realizing that 1000 pages is not going to cut it.  But at least it's a start.

Now the biggest problem becomes how to organize said pages.  Steelers and Pens are easy - I'm keeping my meager player collections separate, and then everything else gets divided into insert/parallel pages, or base card pages.

But the Pirate collection is (and should be) more meticulously organized.  So far I paged most of the 70's and early 80's, but those years were easy.  In most cases one, and at worst three, manufacturers.  No inserts, subsets, and an incalculable number of parallels. 

But for more recent sets, I'm still debating whether I should leave holes for the cards I need, or simply reshuffle the pages every so often to account for new additions.  Leaving holes for base would be pretty easy, but doing so for parallels/inserts would be a far more involved task, and the odds of picking some of those cards up are small.

And then what to do with the oddball cards?
They neatly organize themselves into alphabetical order in my excel spreadsheet.  But how do you work in one solitary card in the grand scheme of binder pages?  Perhaps oddball issues and minor league cards will get their own pages at the end of each year.

With the number of times I've organized and reorganized, I really hope this will be the last big move.  Get the cards in pages, leave them in order, and just enjoy the darn things.

But doing that means I need to figure out a filing system that is both flexible and practical.  And if my thinking out loud is any indication, I clearly haven't reached that point yet. 

I'd love to hear about the organizing system other team collectors use, whether it involves binders or not.  I had always been a box guy, but I've found that I spend far less time actually enjoying my cards, and I manage to get the things out of order seemingly ever time I open the box.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

And That's What the Checklist is For

I've been having a pretty bad streak of accidentally buying doubles lately.  Nothing high end, but it's still frustrating to bring home a card that...was already here. 

But occasionally having 10,000+cards cataloged pays off.  I was recently watching an auction for a team set of 04 Topps Traded Gold cards.  My Gold holes are many, so I figured it was a safe bet that I needed all or most of the cards.

With a few hours before the auction ended, I was preparing to bid, but decided to check my spreadsheet to see just how many of the cards I needed.

Much to my surprise...I had the entire team set.
Thinking about it, I believe I found the cards all at once in a quarter or $.50 box.
The set has some nice rookies - Nyjer Morgan, Paul Maholm, Brad Eldred, and Matt Capps.  Obviously these guys didn't exactly light the world on fire, but were memorable players in black and gold. 

Hopefully as I transition my collection from boxes to pages I'll be able to put together a master checklist.  It would definitely save me some disgruntled grumbling after shows.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Pirate Autographs: Craig Monroe

You should know the story by now:

Aging veteran latches on with Pirates, and is given bench spot for no apparent reason.  After a couple terrible months, said player is released, never to be heard from in baseball-land again.  In the mean time, said player fails to appear on any card.

Desperate blogger pulls hair out.

Craig Monroe was actually a guy I liked, and though I wasn't expecting much out of his Pirates tenure, he did deliver a couple memorable hits during his time in black and gold.

He currently works for Detroit's FSN station, and was kind enough to sign these cards.  Even finding a decent photo of Monroe from his Pirate stay is tough, though I'll probably get one printed and signed at some point.  But in the mean time, these cards are welcomed additions to the collection, and another player crossed off my list.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Ze Draft

I'm a natural skeptic.

I've tried to tone it back, look on the bright side, or any other cheery cliche you can think of.

Nope, not happening.  Except for one thing.

The draft.

Sure, the failure rate of baseball draft picks is higher than any other sport, and being a first round or 36th round pick does not necessarily indicate any level of success or failure.  But on draft day, every pick (well, Royals fans may disagree) looks good.

The execution isn't always so optimistic.

Draft day 2008. I was excited - the Pirates held the number 2 overall selection, and were bound to get a good player, likely either talented high schooler Justin Beckham or college slugger Pedro Alvarez.

It's no secret that the Pirates haven't had much power in their lineup since Bonds and Bonilla left town, so the idea of grabbing a big time slugger excited me.

Come the second pick, Pedro was off the board to he Bucs.  Things were going great, right?

A hiccup at the signing deadline, some high minor league strike out numbers - all would be forgotten once those towering homers started leaving PNC Park.

Alvarez was one of a handful of players who signed exclusive contracts with Razor (now Leaf) after the draft, meaning his only cards post draft (and until 2011) would be non-Topps brands. 

Razor released a slew of autos both in packs and via exclusive ebay auctions, and the coolest of the cards were the Razor Metal cards.  I had to have them. 

..until I saw where the prices were going.  Blue autos /50 were ending around $30, with Gold autos /25 going above that.  Not gonna happen.
As Alvarez slugged homers in the minors, the cards continued to stay out of my price range.  As Alvarez's career tanked in Pittsburgh, swinging at offspeed pitch in the dirt after foot off the plate slider, the prospecting hoard continued to bet on his power.

I was finally able to snag the Blue auto above for about $10 at the beginning of last season, right before he went on a tear of homers and finally started looking like the player we (thought) we were drafting.

And this year?  Back to earth.  And strikeouts.  Lots of strikeouts. 

The MLB draft is far from a sure thing.  And it seems like more often than not prices will come back to earth, even for the few prospects who succeed.  But it sure is nice to dream on what a player could become.

I Love the 90's

I'm going to try out a new idea for a semi-regular feature.  I don't know how long it will (or won't stick around), but that's probably up to you the reader.

I'm a 90's kid.  That means I gaze longingly at 90's cards the same way that slightly older collectors reflect fondly on packs of 85 Topps, or Will Clark rookies.  The only difference?  There were a lot more cards to pick from, and the designs were a lot more creative.  I'll show off some of my favorite 90's cards - some will be the ever so desirable 90's inserts and parallels, while others will be far less impressive but equally awesome.

Driven by some strong rookie crops and reborn prospect hype in the late 90's, Bowman was actually an exciting product.  You know, when the design didn't look exactly the same every year.

And the inserts actually had some creativity behind them.  Note, I say some. Sure, they were largely recycling top prospect lists.  But at least they weren't doing in as bland a fashion as the Topps 100 prospects.

The card itself is...very busy.  Text, text, text.  And a logo.  Kind of.  Still, the foil design and famous "pitcher posing on a stool" photo scream 90's Bowman.

The ROY Favorites cards were always an insert set I enjoyed.  Top prospects, major league ready.  And once upon a time, it didn't seem too laughable that former 1-1 pick Kris Beson could potentially be the ROY.  Peter Gammons even predicted Benson to win the Cy Young award before the 2000 season.

Benson went on to have a decent career in the bigs, but nothing like you'd expect from a 1-1.  I guess that's partially why I can't get too excited about Gerrit Cole..fool me once...

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

This Whole Hockey Thing Isn't Going So Well

There's been a distinct pattern to the Pens/Bruins games thus far:

I'm a few minutes late tuning into the game.  I turn the game on, and the Pens are already behind.  I then turn the game off out of frustration, anger, and a sinking feeling of impending doom, and go watch baseball.

That hasn't worked out so well thus far either, with the Pirates also losing during games 1&2.  But the Bucs already lost this afternoon in a 1 hitter, so maybe I can at least catch some quality baseball tonight.

Oh yeah...the card.  Andy Bathgate played two (non-consecutive) seasons for the Pens, and was a member of the original expansion team.  He's in the Hockey Hall of Fame, but played on some pretty lousy teams while in Pittsburgh. 

But on the upside, he did get to war some cool sweaters.  If the team's fortune changes, perhaps you'll see a cheerier hockey post later on.

Child's Play

Maybe I'm in the minority, but I've always been a little creeped out by the photos of big leaguer's as kids on baseball cards.  I get the point.  Hey, look kids, you could be a big leaguer some day too.  These stars are just like you.

What I really see?  Look, these guys looked just as idiotic in their little league photo as I did. 

Clearly athletic photogenicism has no correlation to actual baseball talent.

For example, this photo of Andy Van Slyke looks like it would be better suited for an episode of Unsolved Mysteries than a baseball card.  It's a bit scary, really.

At least with this Willie Stargell photo, Topps opted to go with a teenage Stargell.  I like this look a lot more, since it shows the progression from (presumably) high school prospect to power hitting superstar.  It's fun to look at photos of players from their minor league days and compare their body types and overall look to their days as a superstar.  It's amazing to see how much some players change over the years, even without steroids.

But Topps just wouldn't give it a rest with the creepy kid pictures.

And just to rub it in, they included three Pirates in 2010's When they Were Young insert set.  For those of you counting at home, that may be more Pirate cards than have been in Topps Flagship insert sets since 1993 combined.

I wish I were being hyperbolic, but I'm not.

Apparently Charlie Morton preferred the Blue Jays as a wee tike.  Given the way the Jays have played this year, he may have changed his mind.

Daniel McCutchen looks like he was wearing about as much advertising as a European soccer club on this little league photo (though the field looks nice).
And last but not least, in the "did he really want this photo on a nationally released baseball card?" category, Ryan Doumit.  I must admit this is probably the most innocent of the kiddie photos.  Still, it makes me cringe a little bit to see these in my collection.

"Wait, When Did He Play There?" Wednesday

Alright, this one might be a little less obscure.  Or maybe not, depending on our age.

Long before Tim Wakefield was setting records and winning World Series as a successful starter and clutch playoff performer for the Red Sox he was...a successful starter and clutch playoff performer for the Pirates.

...who them promptly released him.  Queue history.

I think there have been enough ESPN special features, Outside the Lines pieces, and Sportscenter clips on the Sox/Yanks dominated ESPN that most of us know the story of Wake.

Minor league flameout attempts to salvage career via knuckleball.  Rookie sensation.  Disaster the next year.  Red Sox legend.
The specifics are a bit more complicated.  Aren't the always?  It's undeniable that Wakefield looked at best like a questionable pitcher coming out of the '93 season.  His '94 season was equally disastrous, leading AAA in walks and losses.

But the Pirates were also entering what has turned out to be two decades of losing baseball.  And Wake wasn't exactly holding back any significant minor leaguer stars by staying on the roster.  To flat out release a player who had had significant success in the majors seems foolish at best.

And maybe that's the bigger theme here.  The issue isn't that players like Wakefield or Jose Bautista have gone on to have impressive careers elsewhere.  Someone always gets away.  Brian Giles and Jason Bay worked out the opposite way, and I can assure you Pirates fans are not complaining about that.

The larger issue is giving away potentially valuable assets for little to no return.  Bautista and Wake were both players on glaringly slow developmental paths - Bautista's career was derailed by being a Rule 5 pick (which never should have happened in the first place,since the Bucs had 40 man spots open during the Rule 5, lost him, only to trade for him later in the season), and knuckle ballers are typically slow to develop.  The teams these players were jettisoned from were, simply put, bad.  Leaving a questionable player on a roster spot would not hurt, if it means losing Chris Duffy or Rick White. 

But what's done is done.  Instead, we get to both appreciate the time he did spend in Pittsburgh, and be regularly reminded by ever ESPN clip showing him giving up a barrage of homers in black and gold, before cutting to a sequence of him baffling Yankees hitters at Fenway.  Thanks ESPN!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Wild World of Internet Card Collecting

 The blogosphere, and the internet card community in general, is a bit of a mystery to me.  I'm always interested to see the representation of online communities, and how their representation may or may not mirror the "real world" composition of those groups.  See the academic in me just won't stop.

One thing that has really stood out during my short time blogging is that the number of team blogs is heavily concentrated on a couple teams.  Going by the fantastic sportscard blogroll, I counted 5 or 6 Dodger blogs, a few Cubs, and multiple Padres blogs all within the first few listed.  Meanwhile, I know of only one other Pirate-related blog (the wonderful piratestreasureroom), and have yet to see any related to the Steelers or Penguins.

Now I can understand that there may not be an overwhelming number of collectors for some markets like the Diamondbacks or Nationals, or that the Columbus BlueJackets might not be a popular blog topic.  But it certainly surprises me to see little to no representation for huge markets like the Mets and Yankees, while the small market Padres are well represented.

The same phenomena plays out in the forum crowds, where I have only encountered a handful of Pirate collectors, while Twins fans seem to be dozens deep.  I'm also a part of a team collector group where we share our non-team cards with team collectors who will give them a good home.  And while we have multiple collectors for some teams, teams like the Tigers and Diamondbacks have been unfilled for years.
 In the grand scheme of things, it probably doesn't matter.  I can't blame anyone for not having the addiction to cardboard to post daily, or even weekly, about their collection on the internet.  I love blogging, and have met some people who I genuinely consider friends through internet card collecting.  But I'm sure spending less time on cards certainly wouldn't be a bad thing. 

I just wonder what causes some aspects of the hobby to be so heavily represented, while others are almost invisible.
Oh, and yes.  Cards.  These are all recent TTM returns, though I already had signatures of both players.  The Giusti is trumped by the fantastic Colt .45's cards I got signed by him, which you can check out over at Returned to Sender.  Why does Steve Kemp always look so angry? 

How's This for a Relic? (Throwback Tuesday Style)

It seems that my large purchases always seem to pile up around this time of year.  I don't know if it's spring cleaning, strange timing, or what.  Heck, in the past week alone two 2003 Jack Wilson autographs I didn't have popped up on ebay, one /50 and one /25.  I have never seen a copy of either card surface online or at a show since 2004, yet here they both were from different sellers.  Fortunately both are now en route to my mailbox.

But this post is about something that's a little large for the mailbox.

I've written on more than one occasion that relic cards just don't really interest me, except to check another card off my master checklist.  If I can get them in the $1 range, great.  But they aren't something I go out of my way for.  And a large part of that has to do with my growing (full sized) game used collection.

I may never own a Arky Vaughn bat or Andrew McCutchen jersey.  But lower tiers of players are definitely in play.  Even for guys named McCutchen.

I've written about how much I love the Pirates mix and match late 70's style jerseys.  The black top is probably my least favorite of the three, but when popped up for auction at a reasonable price, it was too good to pass up.

Of course this isn't an authentic 70's jersey (those are a bit out of my price range), but rather a throwback that the team wore in 2011 during a series in Oakland.

And it may not be Andrew, but it just so happens to be from the next best McCutchen.

Unfortunately I just got the jersey, though the full uniform looks fantastic.

It goes nicely with the 70's pinstripe throwback I added a few months back.

Now I just need to find a gold jersey to complete the retro "set."

Monday, June 3, 2013

Even More Show Pickups

There are few things as enjoyable as coming back from a show with a big 'ole bag of new cards to look at and sort. 

There are few things that I enjoy less than having to enter and scan all those cards.  It's not the individual act of entering/scanning that gets frustrating.  It's when you have to do it 100 or 200 times over that it gets a bit frustrating, particularly when dealing with loads of oddball cards and strange parallels, which must be individually looked up in Beckett's database.

There are worse problems to have, right?

In the interest of saving some time and space, I've skipped scans of all the modern base cards, and am posting group scans (which I almost always hate doing).  But don't worry, the good stuff is being saved for the next post, and those will get their own scans.

As I wrote in part 1, this show was noteworthy for its discount vintage.  And not just any discount vintage.  I find $.50 late '60's vintage fairly often, and my needs on those sets have shrunk quickly.  But late 50's and early 60's cards for $.50?  That's one I haven't seen before.
 Admittedly, the cards are far from flawless.  The Moose and Mota were a dime each.  Their condition is very, very rough, but they're great placeholders for the time being.  Ironically, the Manny Sanguillen/Madlock league leaders was only a dime, but is an upgrade on the current copy of the card I have.  I believe the rest were all $.50.  The 1962 set is one of my favorite designs, but for some reason I only had a couple of cards from the set before this show, so I was able to take a nice bite out of my needs for that set.
 All the cards in this scan came out of a 5 cent box from an antiques dealer who apparently had thousands of cards he just wanted to get rid of.  No complaints here.  These are the first cards from the TCMA 60's Champions set - the TCMA releases are tough to find at shows, though I don't know if that's due to their limited release, off brand status, or some combination of the two. 
And back again to the vintage.  I've never been a big fan of the '58 design - it's too close to the '59 design for my liking, and I prefer the rounded window on the 59 to the square, boxy design of the 58's. vintage!  But not to be outdone, I was able to find some modern cards.  And shiny ones at that. 

I like the contrast between the 54 Lynch and Heritage Walter Young, showing the size difference between "traditional" card size and the older Topps sizing.  The 54 Lynch was $1, again setting record lows for pricing I've seen on that set.  I have a few more 54's coming in part 3, including one biggie.  Before this show, I only had 2 cards from the 1954 set, so I made a major dent in the team set, leaving the 1952 set as my least populated Topps set.

The vintage-heavy focus was frustrating at first.  I had been hoping to find some awesome modern numbered cards.  It's not that I don't enjoy vintage (I do), but just that it's often tedious flipping through hundreds of the same vintage cards to find the ones I need.  But the dents I put in my vintage needs probably mean it'll be more efficient to buy my remaining needs off ebay or from dealers with their cards in numerical order, rather than flipping through thousands of discount vintage cards to find my remaining dozen or two cards.

And power!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Pirate Autos: Dave Johnson

I've been woefully slacking on new Pirate autos.  The project is far from completion, but new acquisitions seem to come in bursts, rather than a constant stream.  Just about all of the consistent TTM signers have been knocked off the list, as have most of the guys with certified autos.  So I may find a lot or ebay seller with a number my needs.  But more often than not, my hobby dollars are going elsewhere.

But that makes new additions all the more special, right?

And this one certainly falls in that group.

At a card show a few months back I found a dealer with a monster box of minor league team sets from the 80's and 90's.  Obviously all the more impressive sets had been pulled out and the key cards sold individually.  But that didn't matter, since I was only looking for Pirates.

I found about half a dozen sets, mostly from (then)AAA Buffalo and the Pirates A-ball affiliates.  Among the finds were some early cards of Moises Alou, Tim Wakefield, and a handful of other future Bucs of less merit.

But for me, the most exciting find was some minor league cards of some cardless wonders.  Guys who never appeared on cardboard as a Buc (and in most cases who the all knowing google can't even return a single image from their time in Pittsburgh).  If a Pirate card isn't possible, the next best option is a minor league affiliate auto.
 Enter Dave Wayne Johnson.
 He made his big league debut with the Bucs in 1987, coming in in relief in 5 less than memorable appearances at age 27.  But he would spend the majority of his big league career with the Orioles, finding work as a starter from 89-91, including pitching 180 innings during 1990.  But that would be about all there was to his big league career.
These minor league issues mark the closes thing to a card as a Pirate, though he has a few cards from his O's days.  Definitely a cool addition (and some major luck) in adding a long forgotten Buc.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Ice, Ice Baby (Blue)

The Pens/Bruins game is too frustrating to watch at this point, so I figured now would be a good time to break out some recent hockey additions.

Armed with a book of Canada to US stamps, I sent out a few TTM's a while back to some former hockey players to the north.  I admittedly know little about the Pens history that predates my birth, meaning aside from a few off years here and there, I've known little other than playoff caliber teams.  Researching the retired players who sign consistently and finding cards of them has been a fun way to explore the team's history a bit more.

I admittedly know just about nothing about hockey cards.  But I absolutely love the 1968/69 design, which also happens to be the inaugural release for the Pens.  The cards have a far more vintage design than their year lets on, and to a certain extent reminds me of the early 50's Bowman sets in baseball.

This Earl Ingarfield card is, simply put, gorgeous.  The design is clean and sharp, and I love the diagonal Pittsburgh script on the jerseys and the less familiar baby blue sweater.

Hockey is a distant third in terms of my favorite Pittsburgh sports.  I'm still learning the game, and know next to nothing about the cards, except where the sets parallel the baseball and football releases.  But hopefully as my meager Pens collection grows, I will continue to explore the history of the team and learn a bit more about some of the players.  But that's no small task when I have yet to figure out...where to actually find hockey cards, since they are almost nonexistent at cards shows in Ohio, and vastly overpriced in Pittsburgh.

Well, It's the Big Show, Part 1

It took a while to sort through all the carnage, but I'm quite pleased with my pickups from the Robert Morris show.  I'm going to split my finds up into a few parts, since there are some big additions to showcase.

The show was even more vintage heavy than usual, and it is typically a very strong show for vintage to begin with.  It was a bit frustrating when I saw very little of anything modern on my first sweep of the show floor, and the dealers I did see were many of the same guys that are on the mall circuit.  But I decided to just go with the flow - if the show gives you vintage, make...vintage aid:?

I'm glad I did.  The main vintage guys are pretty much the same every year - big time dealers who travel the country hitting all the major shows.  Since I'm usually digging through the discount boxes, my finds are usually at the whim of how much higher end product they are carrying, to which the trickle down effect is how much excess goes to the discount boxes.

And this year those discounts were glorious.

I doubled the number of vintage Clementes in my collection this year, and did so at jaw dropping prices.  The card to the right set me back a full $1.  And no, there aren't any numbers after that 1.  Obviously it's far from flawless.  There is a nice crease running right down the middle of the card, and it looks like somebody took a bite out of the top corner.  But the photos of both Pirates, most importantly Clemente, are flawless.  For the time being I'll call it a placeholder.  But in all honesty, I would be perfectly pleased if this is the only copy of this card I ever own.

There are really only two classes of Pirates vintage: HoF'ers and everyone else.  With the exception of short prints, I have found or am pretty confident I will find every Pirate vintage card in a discount bin at some point.  But the big 3 - Stargell, Clemente and Maz - rarely make their way in there, and for good reason.  I have knocked out a decent number of low grade Stargells, but Maz and Clemente make up quite a few of my holes after the early 50's.  Another dollar box yielded a much appreciated Maz.
But the majority of my digging focused on even cheaper vintage.  The majority of my finds were in the $.50 range, and came in very nice condition for that price.
Like I said - the big 3 and everybody else.  Not that I'm complaining.

One of the other perks to a large show is the occasional oddball card.  I found a bagged pack of these cards for $2 at one table.  I hadn't the slightest idea what they were, but I knew I didn't have any of them, and that was good enough for me. A little digging unearthed that they were a stadium giveaway set in '85, and apparently came in packs.  I have about half the set, so I wish I would have grabbed a second pack at hopes of completing the set.  Still, nice cards for a pretty terrible team.  The Hendrick card is a major upgrade on his only major company Pirates issue, and the coaches card is a nice touch for the period that Topps abolished the team/coach cards.

Of course I never totally strike out on the modern stuff either.  I was able to come away with a nice little stack of numbered cards out of a quarter box, including a few much needed Topps Golds.

But that's just a taste of what's to come.  Friday is largely my reconnaissance day, scouting the floor for the best tables and jumping on any good boxes that I know will be quickly picked over on Saturday.  I'll hopefully have part two up later this weekend, though there's still some scanning to be done.