Friday, April 25, 2014

First Dime Box Card Show: Curtain Call

After six Dime Box Card Show posts, as well as three PWMD inductions that came from this show, it's time for one final curtain call for Nick's picks.

2002 Fleer Tradition Update Randy Johnson Curtain Call ARI #U374

The greatest (only?) drawback of not being able to attend a card show in person is that I'm not the one picking the cards for myself. But that also happens to be one of the greatest benefits of this proxy shopper arrangement. Sure, I enjoy buying cards that I know I need and want. But I always have more fun opening packs, and especially repacks, because of the Random factor. I love to be surprised. And Nick fed that compulsion for me with his selections about as well as it could possibly have been done.

1995 Topps Traded John Kruk CHW #116T
2000 Topps Traded Adrian Gonzalez FLA #T81

Sure, there were a few cards that I already had, which I wouldn't have picked up if I'd been shopping for myself. But at the other end of the spectrum, Nick seemed to have ESP in many cases as well. As I've repeated here like a mantra, I've got just about all of the Topps base set cards that I need since 1980. But I do have a few holes in the Update set department that I haven't talked about much. Yet, Nick managed to hit me with a couple of gems from two of those sets.

1995 Comic Images The National Pastime Phil Rizzuto's Baseball Rally Day Postcard (Batter) #73
1983 Larry Fritsch Cards One-Year Winners Dick Luebke BAL #66

It was the oddballs that really floated my boat, though (which you'd know if you shared my trip with me a couple of weeks ago). Chris, of View from the Skybox turned me on to these Rizzuto's National Pastime cards, and Nick hooked me up with a gem from that set. It's a shiny hot mess, but I love it. It's an uncorrected error, with the card back getting mixed up with another card in the set. It's supposed to be "Batter." Though unidentified, I'm 97.34% certain that I actually recognized this player as Amos Strunk. I'm so confident that I'm not even going to do any research, so if someone knows I'm wrong, be sure to publicly humiliate me in the comments. Meanwhile, these Fritsch One-Year Winners are something I've been eyeing for a long time. Being a player collector (all of them), they're right up my proverbial alley.

2009 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions Rick Cerone NYY #209
2012 Bowman Chrome Jamie Moyer COL #216

Synchronicity. The day before the Card Show arrived in the mail, I had placed a 1982 Donruss Rick Cerone on Nick's trade package pile. It's not a mini-collection hit for him, and I don't think Cerone is one of his player collections. I just thought it was a neat-lookin' card that Nick might enjoy. If the picture on this Goodwin Champs card isn't from the same photo shoot, I'll eat my hat. (Do the incredulous still eat their hats these days?) Meanwhile, can you go wrong with an ancient wonder like Jamie Moyer? No. No, you can't.

1979 Hostess Ross Grimsley MON #5
1978 Hostess Bruce Bochte SEA #81

Grimsley looks like most of the Hostess cards in my collection. But Bochte was a revelation for me. It's hard to tell from the scan, but it's been cut out far enough outside of the dotted lines that it's almost the standard 2.5" x 3.5" card size. Which made me realize that, if you were to track down uncut boxes, you could theoretically cut yourself standard-sized Hostess cards! How incredible would a complete set of such a thing be!? Now there's a baseball card daydream...

2001 Fleer Platinum Cal Ripken, Jr./Jerry Hairston, Jr. Franchise Futures BAL #472

I'm only now beginning to warm up to multi-player cards, mainly because so many of them make little to no sense. This one is more than worthwhile, however. You get two great guys, both second-generation baseball people (well, third-generation for Hairston). You get the Hall-of-Famer, Ripken, and the future Dodger, Hairston. And the concept is a good one, too: passing the generational torch within an organization. This card tells a story in a way that 95% of Fleer's Super Star Specials, or Topps' weird Team Leaders choices fail to do.

2011 Panini Donruss Elite Extra Edition Chris Perez CLE #5
2012 Panini Prizm Matt Wieters BAL #17

Nick seemed to know just which of the mostly-avoidable random non-Topps modern shiny monstrosities to pick up for me. Chris Perez is ridiculous, and this card helps to memorialize that fact. He's also a Dodger now, so bring 'em on. And it's always great to get Matt Wieters cards because if you're just collecting Topps stuff the man doesn't exist. And for a collection like mine, whose purpose is to tell as much of the story of baseball as it can, this is a very welcome addition.

2003 Fleer Authentix Rontrez Johnson Ticket to the Majors OAK #124
1991 Frank Chong Modesto Athletics Craig Sudbury #14

Look, I just love cards. And Nick knows that because he loves 'em too. It's cool that so many people have so many different niche interests in this hobby, and that you're out there sharing those interests for our entertainment and enjoyment. Nick is kinda unique though, in that a card doesn't have to fit into any specific category for him to want and enjoy it. I think that's the main reason he's made an ideal trade partner and a good friend. And I can't thank him enough for all of the fun he delivered with this Card Show.

2004 Topps Cracker Jack Mini David Eckstein ANA #46

The Dime Box King sent one card along that wasn't from the Card Show. And it's a perfect representation of what I think we both would like to consider ourselves as collectors and bloggers. David Eckstein wasn't the most physically-gifted ballplayer. But he was a team player, who always gave it his best, loved what he was doing, and never took for granted how lucky he was to be doing something he enjoyed. It's an attitude to which I aspire, and for which Nick is an inspiration. Thanks again, Nick. Looking forward to sharing the Second Dime Box Card Show with the community soon.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cards From Cards on Cards

I was recently able to knock out a good chunk of the 1985 Fleer set building needs of Kerry from Cards on Cards. It's always satisfying to be able to dig up something that a fellow blogger can use. It's especially satisfying for me because I'm so disorganized (or, more euphemistically, in organizational flux) that it's no small achievement for me to get my shit together enough to do so (pardonnez mon français).

Of course, there's satisfaction, and then there's benefits. On with the benefits...

2009 Upper Deck X Xponential 2 Derek Jeter NYY #X2-DJ

This was one of the cards I was most interested in liberating from Kerry's trade bait chum bucket. That's because I had rather unbelievably managed to land the X3, X5 and X6 Jeter inserts in the recent Typhoon Haiyan Charity Group Break put on by Chris of View from the Skybox. I figured that since I got that close, and the X2 showed up on Kerry's blog, I might as well try to complete the run. (In case you missed it, I still need the X4... hint, hint.)

2004 Topps Chrome Update Homer Bailey CIN #T72

This was the other card that caught my eye, for obviously Gripping reasons. The rest of the cards in the package were dealer's choice, and Kerry was dealing aces.

2014 Topps Luis Valbuena CHC #318
2014 Topps All-Rookie Cup Team Derek Jeter NYY #RCT-5

I recently put up my first set building tab, which currently features 2014 Topps series one. And Kerry put that to good use, hooking me up with my final base set need and some fab inserts. Valbuena and his retro jersey makes for a nice way to put a lid on the series one base set. And, needless to say, I'm thrilled with the Rookie Cup Jeter. I'm realistic about my chances of actually building a master set. But I am very serious about completing the Super Veterans and All-Rookie Cup Team sets.

2014 Topps Upper Class Matt Cain SFG #UC-22
2014 Topps Upper Class Felix Hernandez SEA #UC-29

Kerry managed to hit me with a couple of Upper Class inserts that were not only needs, but Grips as well! King Felix tried to hide his Grip in his armpit, but to no avail.

2014 Topps The Future Is Now Zack Wheeler NYM #FN-11
2014 Topps The Future Is Now Jose Fernandez MIA #FN-22

Wrapping up the Topps inserts was four from the Future is Now set, including a couple of excellent young hurlers.

1995 Pinnacle UC3 Mike Piazza LAD #39
1995 Pinnacle SportFlix Eric Karros LAD #50

Kerry filled out the package with some Dodger Blue, including cards from two different Pinnacle lenticular sets from 1995. The back of the Karros card lands it in The Turtleneck Collection.

2003 Upper Deck Shawn Green Season Highlight Checklist LAD #261
2003 Upper Deck Adrian Beltre LAD #192

Just about anything that's not from a Topps base set from between 1997-2006 has a great chance of being a need for me, and these two sweet Upper Deckers were no exception.

2005 Topps Update Jeff Kent LAD #UH50
2005 Topps Update Jeff Kent All-Star LAD #UH192

I'm (98%) good when it comes to Topps base sets since 1980. But there are a few Update sets that have managed to fall through the cracks, and 2005 is one of those. So (despite the fact that it's Jeff Kent) these were very welcome additions.

2005 Fleer Showcase Duke Snider BRO #115

But I think this was my favorite of the Dodgers that Kerry sent my way. The retired star idea is always welcome, but can get a bit redundant in terms of photos and design. This card of the Duke of Flatbush, however, is really nicely done.

Speaking of Fleer, Kerry is down to just five cards to complete his 1985 Fleer set. Be sure to help him out of you can. Thanks for the excellent cards, Kerry! Look forward to the next opportunity to send some cards to Cards on Cards for more cards.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Diggin' the Oddball View From the Skybox

As if further proof were necessary to classify Chris (View From the Skybox) as "one of the good ones," allow me to submit Exhibit O (for oddballs).

When I participated in his recent Typhoon Haiyan Charity Group Break (aka, Exhibit A), I did quite well, netting a box stuffed with goodies, including some nice bonus extras from the man. I saw that some of the others who had participated received a few unopened packs of 1995 Phil Rizzuto's National Pastime cards by Comic Images, which is a set full of the kind of Random oddball gems that light up my Card Nights. My box had been a bit too stuffed to include any, but I asked Chris if he could set aside a pack or two for me for the next time we worked a trade.

1995 The National Pastime Phil Rizzuto's Baseball Adrian "Cap" Anson CHC #77

Instead, the man sent me a separate package stuffed with unopened packs. For me, this was high-grade addiction food. I love nothing more than busting packs of cards that are guaranteed to include a few surprises. And we'll look at a lot more of the wackiness when I've finished opening all of the packs. But for now, here are two cards that help to sum up what I love about these things.

I'm a player collector, above all. Which players? All of them. This set features mostly Random artwork, magazine covers, advertising, toys and games, etc., from the early years of baseball. But some of these feature identifiable players, such as the fabulously solemn and dignified plate sporting the visage of (the admittedly racist) baseball pioneer, Hall of Famer, Cap Anson. It was the first card I saw when I started busting these open, and a fine addition to my collection.

1995 The National Pastime Phil Rizzuto's Baseball Tobin Lithographers (Jack Glasscock IND) #38

And then there's this thing. Now this is friggin' fabulous! Slick-fielding Jack Glasscock (seriously!) was by most accounts the greatest shortstop of his era. And now he is represented in my collection by this absolute beaut of Randomocity. How sweet is that!?

But Chris didn't stop with the National Pastime packs. He also threw in three more Random packs for my oddball enjoyment. Though I was a little dubious of his intentions when I opened this pack of Leaf Baseball's Greatest Grossouts...

Grossout, indeed! When I opened this pack I found myself glancing at my closet, hoping I might somehow find a spare hazmat suit in there. I triple dog dare anyone to try chewing this gum! (I think I just threw up a little in my mouth...) You are looking at the first baseball card that I've ever thrown out. There would have been a bit of a moral dilemma if it had actually been a card of a player...

1988 Leaf Baseball's Greatest Grossouts Loony Lyle #78

Once I got past the crazy elephant and the bio-hazard gum, though, there was some fun to be had here, too. As soon as I saw Loony Lyle, I instantly recognized him. At least there was a player who came immediately to mind. How about you? Who do you see when you look at Loony Lyle? (Keep reading to compare your answer with mine.)

1993 Jimmy Dean Rookies Tim Salmon CAL #9

Chris sent some more conventional oddballs as well, including a little pack o' Jimmy Dean rookies from 1993. I'll bet Jimmy Dean would have prefered that the Angels' young stud went by Tim Sausage instead...

1986 Topps Mini League Leaders Cal Ripken BAL #2
1986 Topps Mini League Leaders Mike Schmidt PHI #55

Finally, there was a pack of 1986 Topps Mini League Leaders in Chris' package! Which was awesome because I have a ton from '87 through '89. But I'm pretty weak on '86, and these top-tier Hall of Famers were new to me. Thanks for the Random packs of kindness, Chris! You provided me with a ton of Card Night fun.

Okay, who was your Loony Lyle, people? Here's mine. Did anyone else come to the same conclusion?

1988 Leaf Baseball's Greatest Grossouts Loony Lyle #78
1979 Topps Greg Luzinski PHI #540

No offense meant to Mr. Luzinski. It was mostly the L on the cap, the powder blue uniform, and the muscular bulk that led me to the comparison. So if "The Bull" is out there somewhere and sees this, please don't hunt me down! You can do a lot of damage with those three bats and the crazy teeth. (Oh, wait... which one was Luzinski again...?)

Monday, April 14, 2014

(Not) Junk Wax: 1990 Pacific Senior League

I was one of the few people on the planet (and even fewer who were still in their teens) who was excited about the Senior Professional Baseball Association when its teams took the field in the winter of 1989.

1990 Pacific Senior League Logo Stickers SPBA Inaugural Season

I say I was excited about the Senior League at the time. But like most people, I didn't watch many games. In fact, I couldn't swear to watching more than one. And I don't remember a thing about it, other than that baseball was being played by ex-big-leaguers in the winter. That was good enough for me. But apparently not good enough for ESPN or anyone else to televise (or at least publicize) more than a handful of games.

1990 Pacific Senior League Curt Flood Commissioner #220

I picked up three Senior League card sets back in the day: the excellent woodgrain-bordered Topps set, a surprisingly decent effort by "Elite Baseball Cards," and a spotty affair from "T&M Sports." For some reason, the two Pacific Senior League sets managed to slip by me at the time, which made them perfect fodder for a couple o' recent (Not) Junk Wax box purchases.

1990 Pacific Senior League Logo Stickers St. Petersburg Pelicans

Pacific organized their set (for the most part) by team, in the old Fleer fashion. Taking another page from Fleer, they included a team (or league) logo sticker in every pack. I'm going to ramble about the cards and the set in extemporaneous fashion, while Pacific's set organization skills will allow you to enjoy something more structured for the visual portion of this post.

1990 Pacific Senior League Ron LeFlore St. Petersburg Pelicans #4
1990 Pacific Senior League Doc Ellis St. Petersburg Pelicans #15

The cards look and feel a little cheap. Pacific's second Senior League effort (which we will be looking at soon) was a colorful, high-gloss affair. This first effort... not so much. There's a fine line between silver and gray, and these borders look more like a dirty (almost brownish) gray than the shiny silver they were probably going for. The card stock has a grainy matte finish that doesn't help.

1990 Pacific Senior League Logo Stickers Winter Haven Super Sox

That said, I have pulled glossy cards from this set out of repacks. Information is sketchy, so I don't know if there's a separate "tiffany" set out there (maybe factory sets were glossy, while the cards in wax packs lack gloss?), or perhaps it's just a case of wildly inconsistent production quality. Whatever's going on here, I wish I were loaded down with glossy cards instead of these.

1990 Pacific Senior League Bill Lee Winter Haven Super Sox #28
1990 Pacific Senior League Ferguson Jenkins Winter Haven Super Sox #29
1990 Pacific Senior League Rick Wise Winter Haven Super Sox #31
1990 Pacific Senior League Cecil Cooper Winter Haven Super Sox #42

Matte or glossy, though, you just can't beat bonus cards like these. It's like extra innings. Free baseball. More cards of players I grew up watching, or who maybe retired just before I became a fan in 1980. And it was a pretty solid cross section of big-league talent that populated the eight SPBA rosters.

1990 Pacific Senior League Logo Stickers Gold Coast Suns

For the most part, Pacific's photo choices are pretty decent. You get mostly posed shots, but with just enough action to keep things interesting. It's a very '80s Topps feel, in terms of photo composition, although the use of lighting here is not up to that standard. (They managed to catch Earl Weaver's pack of cigarettes "concealed" beneath his jersey, though...)

1990 Pacific Senior League Earl Weaver MG Gold Coast Suns #56
1990 Pacific Senior League Luis Tiant Gold Coast Suns #77
1990 Pacific Senior League Bert Campaneris Gold Coast Suns #63
1990 Pacific Senior League George Hendrick Gold Coast Suns #61

The design is not half bad. They're reminiscent of 1987 Topps, in that the logos are featured over a diagonal turn in the border. The name plate color coordinates with each team's uniform, which is nice. I even find that I don't hate the rather remedial stars lined up on two sides of each card. That's probably because they help to mitigate against the muddiness of the "silver" borders.

1990 Pacific Senior League Logo Stickers Fort Myers Sun Sox

Geeze, there's a lot of space to fill in this post, isn't there? And, as you may (or may not) have noticed, I haven't exactly been in a writing mood lately. The muse comes and goes. I guess it doesn't matter that much. I mean, how many people out there are actually reading this, anyway?

1990 Pacific Senior League Amos Otis Fort Myers Sun Sox #83
1990 Pacific Senior League Dan Driessen In Action Fort Myers Sun Sox #105

But if you are still reading, and you see something you like, let me know. I got a fair number of dupes that I'll be happy to send your way. A few of the obvious guys are already set aside for various team collectors. (Major league teams that these guys played for, that is. I don't see many Fort Myers Sun Sox card blogs out there, for instance.) But anytime you see one of these (Not) Junk Wax posts, chime in with any needs/wants you may have. You'll be helping me out. I sometimes have a hard time figuring out what to dig up to send to you people...

1990 Pacific Senior League Logo Stickers St. Lucie Legends

As it turns out, the 1989-1990 season would be the only one to be completed by the SPBA. It may have been a failed experiment as a commercial venture. But for fans and collectors, it was one of the coolest ideas ever. And it must have been tons of fun for many of the players to have one more opportunity to compete against their peers.

1990 Pacific Senior League Bobby Bonds St. Lucie Legends #128
1990 Pacific Senior League George Foster St. Lucie Legends #114
1990 Pacific Senior League Vida Blue St. Lucie Legends #215
1990 Pacific Senior League Graig Nettles MG St. Lucie Legends #115

The league was rife with player movement. For example, Bobby Bonds took over for Graig Nettles as the Legends manager...

1990 Pacific Senior League Logo Stickers Bradenton Explorers

...while Nettles (and his brother) would move on to join the Explorers, under Clete Boyer. It was like fantasy league baseball come to life. It was like "what if?" scenarios playing out on spring training fields throughout Florida. It was one of the greatest ideas ever... in theory. There just weren't many people who ever really saw it take place in practice.

1990 Pacific Senior League Graig Nettles Bradenton Explorers #158
1990 Pacific Senior League Clete Boyer MG Bradenton Explorers #149
1990 Pacific Senior League Hal McRae Bradenton Explorers #133
1990 Pacific Senior League Al Oliver Bradenton Explorers #142

I mean, wouldn't you love to see a league like this sprout up again today? I know I'd love to see Jamie Moyer pitch to Jim Thome again. I'd love to see Omar Vizquel turn two again. Or Jason Giambi hit one out of the park (oh, wait, he's actually still gainfully employed in the majors, isn't he?). Manny Ramirez would have a place to go and be Manny. Maybe Vlad Guerrero would be out there. Maybe Julio Franco would want to play. It's never gonna happen, but you can see why this looked like such a great idea at the time.

1990 Pacific Senior League Logo Stickers West Palm Beach Tropics

Dick Williams' Tropics were the class of the league in its only full season, going 52-20 to easily outpace their Southern Division rivals. They lost, however, to the Northern Division champion St. Petersburg Pelicans (42-30) in the finals of a three-game, single-elimination tournament to determine the league's first champs.

1990 Pacific Senior League Dick Williams MG West Palm Beach Tropics #166
1990 Pacific Senior League Dave Kingman West Palm Beach Tropics #164
1990 Pacific Senior League Rollie Fingers West Palm Beach Tropics #161
1990 Pacific Senior League Al Hrabosky West Palm Beach Tropics #179

The Tropics were also the class of the league when it came to uniforms. Nothing captured the '80s retired-in-Florida vibe like these fabulous salmon and turquoise monstrosities, with a palm tree for a logo! Totally radical! (The Tropics also cornered the iconic facial hair in the bullpen demographic, as well.)

1990 Pacific Senior League Logo Stickers Orlando Juice

If the Tropics had the best unis, the Juice had the best logo. OJ! Splat! Now that's product placement...

1990 Pacific Senior League Jose Cruz Orlando Juice #188
1990 Pacific Senior League Bill Madlock Orlando Juice #214

Hey, that's a nice turtleneck that four-time batting champion Bill Madlock is sporting. Now that we've looked at each of the league's eight teams, let's see what else this set has to offer for my mini-collections... Well, not much. Four Turtlenecks (Rivers is my favorite) and one Doughnut.

1990 Pacific Senior League Doug Corbett Orlando Juice #193
1990 Pacific Senior League Marty Castillo Fort Myers Sun Sox #88
1990 Pacific Senior League Mickey Rivers West Palm Beach Tropics #163
1990 Pacific Senior League Rodney Scott West Palm Beach Tropics #177

As obscure as the SPBA may have been, this set in particular caused a minor stir at the time among collectors who were still glowing from the "excitement" of Billy Ripken's 1989 Fleer high jinks. Pacific seems to have been keeping a close eye on the ways of the Fleer Corp., as they... accidentally?... allowed this Homage to Fuck Face slip through "quality control."

1990 Pacific Senior League Jim Nettles St. Lucie Legends #126

Nettles denies having knowledge of the expletive at the time the photo was shot, instead blaming an unnamed teammate. Maybe. Pretty interesting coincidence that the bat was held at the perfect angle to display the message, though, isn't it?

Final Statistics
Base Set Completion: 220/220 (100%)
Logo Stickers: 10/10 (100%)

Coalition in this box was excellent, as it delivered the complete set with reasonably-distributed duplicates. Only one minor quibble: although I got a minimum of three of each of the logo stickers, I came nowhere near completing either of the (way too) large puzzles of Amos Otis and George Foster that were on the backs of these. Also, the machine that sealed the packs appears to have been overly-aggressive in its work, as many of the cards facing the fold suffered from very noticeable blunt trauma wounds.

1990 Pacific Senior League Dave Kingman "Blast From the Past" West Palm Beach Tropics #186

In all, this box delivered on the fun in the same way that the SPBA did, by providing a strange but welcome Blast From the Past. This box was not a bust.