June 30, 2016

Topps Redemption Website Changes

We all have stories of the trials and tribulations of pulling a redemption and the conventional wisdom of the collectors on my twitter feed is that the redemption process for both Topps and Panini is getting worse and worse.

Topps issued a press release today detailing changes to their redemption program webpage which will shift the site from redeem.topps.com to their main web page topps.com. Here are the list of changes which seem to be cosmetic at best.

The rest of the e-mail details how to log into the the topps.com webpage. There doesn't seem to be any modifications as to improving the speed of redemption processing or the problems of redemption expiration dates. The changes might very well help the collector better track their multiple redemptions but doesn't address the problem that collectors have multiple redemptions! 

June 28, 2016

Two Graded Card Pickups For The PC

There is always one seller at the Atlanta card show that has an interesting stack of graded cards that he seems to buy wholesale online somewhere. He oftentimes has graded cards listed at prices below that cost of getting the cards graded through PSA or Beckett. These are often prospecting cards that just never quite worked out they way the submitter might have hoped and there are some cards I love having graded just to be able to say my "Bruce Chen Graded Refractor."

In case you missed it, Chen pitched his final game in the major last season with the Cleveland Indians. He retired after pitching for 17 seasons for 11 different teams, the most seasons having been spent with the Kansas City Royals where he was a fan-favorite. Used mainly has a back-up starter and middle reliever he finished his career one game over .500 at 82-81. He also had one career shutout and one career save which both happened in 2010 with the Royals. 

Back in 1998, Bowman Chrome refractors fell 1:12 packs so it wasn't that easy a card to pull. However, this wasn't Chen's rookie as he was also featured in 1997 Bowman and Bowman Chrome, so maybe this was just a graded refractor set that someone was putting together. If I remember correctly, I think I paid $2 for this card which will go into my oddities collection. 

My other graded card is a 1986 Topps Tiffany Kirby Puckett given a near-mint/mint grade. Topps produced 5,000 Tiffany sets in 1986 so it is about as close as you can get to a serial-numbered card in the junk wax era. The reverse side of the Tiffany cards look very similar to the bright Traded set backs but the front has a slight color variation as the cards were printed on white paper. I think I paid $4 for this one and I think it is my favorite Puckett card overall. 

June 26, 2016

This Week In Politics: Benjamin Harrison "N"

Spending some time in Washington DC has inspired me to get back into regularly posting political cards which are some of my favorite cards to collect. This manufactured patch has been in my "to post" pile for quite some time and so what better time to share it. It is from the 2009 Topps American Heritage set and features what I imagine is the "N" in "Harrison" rather than in "Benjamin." It is numbered #39/50 so it is not that common a card.

Benjamin Harrison is one of the presidents that gets overlooked between the end of the Civil War and the modern presidents of the 20th century. He was squished in the middle between the two separate terms of Grover Cleveland's presidency and helped usher in the first anti-trust legislation through Congress. But more importantly, he was the last president to have a full beard! A few other presidents have had mustaches [Taft and Teddy Roosevelt] but no other candidate has had a full beard since. 

June 25, 2016

Common Genius: 1956 Topps Bill Sarni #256

**In this series I try to show the brilliance of common cards that often get overlooked.**

For card collectors on a budget that can't own an original 1956 Topps Jackie Robinson, you have an alternative option! If you take a closer look at Bill Sarni's 1956 Topps card #247 that is Jackie Robinson sliding into home. You can pick up this one for about 10% of the value of Robinson's card. 

Sarni was the St. Louis Cardinals catcher for parts of five seasons in the 1950's and had cards in 1954 Topps (which is his rookie card), 1955 Bowman, and 1957 Topps. An interesting career note was that during a game in 1954 played during a heatwave, he, and the opposing catcher, were allowed to catch the game without their chest protectors. 

June 24, 2016

Heartbreaking Damage: Used Checklists

In this series we highlight the cards that have seen better days but the rough times have made them infinitely more interesting. You can find previous Heartbreaking Damage entries HERE

I enjoy collecting vintage checklists, the more used the better. It seems to me that very few modern checklists ever get used or showed the love that these three checklists I'm highlighting experienced back in the day. I'm guilty of that as I've never tracked my progress in completing a set the old fashioned way and so I live vicariously through these cards. 

We begin with one of my few Mickey Mantle cards. Mantle appeared on two checklists over his career, the first being the 2nd series checklist from 1967 Topps and this one from 1969 Topps #412 that covers series 5. The collector who had this checklist was making very good progress on the series and only had a handful of cards to track down including a Johnny Bench and Bob Gibson.  I enjoy also the multi-colored pens used to check-off the cards that were in their collection. 

The earlies of the three checklists is Jim Kaat's appearance in the 4th series of 1967 Topps #278. The collector here had about half of the series to go but they had tracked down several of the keys cards of the series including Lou Brock, Gaylord Perry, Carl Yastrzemski, and Ferguson Jenkins.

Although the first two checklist might give you trouble as to figuring out which set they are from with just a quick glance, the design of Frank Robinson's checklist is obviously from 1968 Topps. This collector nearly has a complete series 6 as he/she is missing just three cards of the 75-card set and that includes Robinson's own card which is #500.

June 22, 2016

Visiting the Ty Cobb Museum

Shortly before moving to Washington DC for the summer, I was able to visit the small Georgia town of Royston which is home to the Ty Cobb Museum. Cobb was certainly the best baseball player of his era and the best contact hitter to have ever played the game. He became a little overshadowed when the first home run sluggers like Babe Ruth dominated the league but he was the highest vote getter among the first Hall of Fame class of 1936.

Royston is located in the north east corner of Georgia near the South Caroline border and is about 30 miles north of Athens. Here's a mural dedicated to their favorite son in downtown Royston. 

Although Cobb is famously nicknamed the "Georgia Peach," for some reason it only occurred to me recently to figure out if there was anything honor Cobb (other than a huge statue in front of Turner Field in Atlanta). 

It turned out that in Cobb's later years after retiring in baseball and earning a small fortune from being in early investor in Coca-Cola, Cobb donated money to start a small 24-bed hospital in Royston. That investment has expanded to what is known as the Ty Cobb Healthcare System and Ty Cobb Regional Medical Center.

In one of the smaller clinics in Royston, they have created the Ty Cobb Museum and as it is connected to the larger healthcare system it probably won't suffer the fate of other small museums that can't find the funding to continue operations. 

It sports the best Ty Cobb card collection I've seen in person in terms of quantity of original cards. Although, they should probably hire me as a consultant to display these in something better than a toploader.

The museum has a personalized movie of Cobb's life in the style of Ken Burn's baseball and a whole bunch unique Cobb pieces including this bronze bust.

They also had Cobb's lifetime pass to attend any baseball game for free.

There was also a bronzed version of one of Cobb's original baseball cleat. This seems appropriate as Cobb was known for his aggressive baserunning and frequently sliding into catchers and infielders with his cleats up. Here's a famous photo of him in action.

In the gift shop I was very excited to see special Ty Cobb cards made exclusively for the museum. I picked up two of the cards which were sealed with a gold sticker with the red card on the left limited to 1,000 copies and the blue card on the right limited to to just 367 copies. 

After we finished taking a look at the museum, we took a ride out to the local cemetery and found Cobb's mausoleum. It is located on a peaceful plot that overlooks much of the cemetery and is a fitting tribute to the man.  

June 21, 2016

The Rookie Card Series: Bob Skinner

 In this series, we do rookie cards and not much else. 

Bob Skinner, fan-favorite of Pittsburgh Pirates backers, played first base for the team during the late-1950's and early-1960's. He helped the 1960 Pirates to upset the New York Yankees in the World Series and was also a member of the 1964 World Series winning St. Louis Cardinals team. Skinner was a two-time All-Star and his best season was in 1962 when he smacked 20 home runs and batted a respectable .302. 

Skinner debuted in the 1955 Topps set #88 (below) and  and you can also find a Skinner appearance in the ultra-rare 1955 Topps Double Headers set. He shares card #55-56 with Cincinnati Reds 3rd baseman Chuck Harmon and you can fold the card over creating two different photos in a single card. 

June 20, 2016

Common Genius: 2004 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites Eric Gregg #97

**In this series I try to show the brilliance of common cards that often get overlooked.**

The umpire baseball card peaked in 1955 Bowman and since then they have been included in baseball card sets sporadically. In that set, there were 31 umpire cards featured in the high series and because of their scarcity, they are some of the most valuable cards in the set. 

That was pretty much it for the regular inclusion of umpire cards and yet every once in awhile we would get a random ump card.  One of those appearances would be from 2004 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites featuring Eric Gregg. I love his facial expression as he seems about to get in an argument about call at first base as you can see Fred McGriff maybe giving him a death stare. Plus, way to go Topps on get the "UMP" notation centered on the baseball!

Gregg became one of the most famous umpires of his day, sometimes not for the greatest reasons. He is most famous for his questionable strike zone during the 1997 NL Championship series which featured the Marlins beating the Braves.

He did ump some notable games in baseball history though, including the 1989 World Series that was delayed due to earthquakes and the first night game at Wrigley Field. Surprisingly, Gregg was just the third black umpire in baseball history at the time he started in 1975. 

June 19, 2016

Growing My Tim Krumrie Collection

To go along with my favorite baseball players from around the Eau Claire, Wisconsin area (Andy Pafko, Burleigh Grimes, Brad Radke, Jordan Zimmermann) there are also a few football players as well (Jim Leonhard, Bill Schroeder) including former Cincinnati Bengals nose tackle Tim Krumrie.

Krumrie played for the Bengals his entire career from 1983 to 1994. Originally, Krumrie is from Mondovi, WI and was an all-star wrestler winning the state title in the heavyweight category. As a Wisconsin Badger, he led the team in tackles all four of his seasons becoming the university's all-time leader at his graduation.

The Bengals drafted him in the 10th round in the 1983 draft and Krumrie became one of the best nose tackles in the league. He was selected as an All-Pro in 1987 and 1988 however during the Bengals' appearance in Super Bowl XXIII he broke his leg in two places.

You can find Krumrie's rookie card in 1988 Topps although he does have a sticker in the 1987 Topps sticker set that pre-dates his proper rookie.

Here are a few more Krumrie cards from my collection. His most valuable card is probably found in the refractor version of his 1993 Topps Finest card which I am still on the lookout for. 

June 18, 2016

No Doubles Should Be One Of The Benefits Of Digital Cards

I patiently hoarded up my Star Wars Card Trader coins to get to the 900,000 mark and buy another Signature Box which guarantees you one digitally signed trading card and a chance for another one. I bought one back in April with mixed results but I have nothing more invested than my time, it is a fun way to build a nice relic collection. 

The pack comes with green and orange inserts as the base cards of the pack and you get about 14 of those. One of the cards I pulled was Squid Head from Return of the Jedi. It seems to me Topps is using a racial slur on their trading cards here as "squid head" is certainly not his proper name. What's next? Is there going to be a Chewbacca card with "Fuzz Ball" as his name? ...you know, that might not be a bad idea for a SWCT pack! 

Anyway, this character's name is actually Tessek and he is a member of the Quarren race. In Return of the Jedi he was Jabba the Hut's bookkeeper so he knew where the bodies were buried financially. And rather than the slur that is "Squid Head" his race of beings are called Quarren. They actually share the planet of Mon Cala with Admiral Ackbar's race of people the Mon Calamari. 

I highlight my Squid Head insert because my autograph was the actor who portrayed Tessek in Jedi, Gerald Home. Tessek was his first film role and he has appeared in several British films since then.

The pack gives me 25% chance of pulling a second autograph and what do you know, I did hit a second autograph! The exact same Gerald Home /Tessek autograph!

In case you think I'm making this up, here's a screen shot of my card collection and the two Tesseks.
The great thing about digital trading cards is that the card maker should have complete control of the roll out of the cards. The algorithm used in determining which cards go out when should/needs to have a "no duplicates" calculation in there to avoid problems like this. A duplicate hit ruins digital and physical products a like and it seems a million times easier to avoid this problem on the digital end! 

June 17, 2016

Wait, How Many #SWCT Packs Are Available?

Over the life of the Star Wars Card Trader app they have included more and more information about the packs available for sale. At first it was just a basic description and percentages of card distribution but now they regularly tell you the odds of pulling an insert in the pack and the other day for the Chewbacca Pack Art Tribute they provided some additional information that really surprised me.

[The entire description wouldn't fit on one screen so I split it over two screen grabs.]

Here's the relevant information, blown up for a better view. In the description, it lists that there were one billion [with a B!] packs available to purchase! At the point of the screen grab there were roughly 39,000 packs purchased already. 

I realize that it would be impossible for all those billion packs to be opened, sending all those cards into the wild but a billion packs really brings into the question the scarcity of these special pixels.

That being said, my Chewbacca insert looks pretty great.

June 16, 2016

An Intact and Complete Andy Pafko Royal Desert Box

I wish I could say that this item was in my Andy Pafko collection but instead it was recently listed and sold on eBay. This is a unopened boy of Royal pudding dating from 1950. It looks a little worse for wear as you might expect being 66 years old and all.

If you flip the box over you will see that it features a trading card of my favorite baseball player, Andy Pafko. Royal Desserts issued these cards on a variety of different dessert products with this box being a butterscotch pudding. In total there were 24 players and nearly every player's card has at least one grammatical variation to try to track down. The box below is the third variation which ends the second paragraph with Pafko's weight at 190 pounds.

Perfect copies can go for over $100 and this box ended up going for $38.00.

Another rare Pafko item that appeared on eBay recently was this advertisement for a scorekeeper baseball ring that would keep track of balls and strikes. This was available as a promotion from Quaker Oats for just 15 cents plus you get a Pafko autograph as well. This has been listed and re-listed several times at a $120 price tag.  

June 11, 2016

2015 Blip Toys Marvel Pixelated Heroes Series 1

I'm not feeling motivated to open proper baseball cards, so I am turning to this interesting product to feed my need to rip open SOMETHING! These packs hold one small pixelated bobble head of a Marvel hero put out by Blip Toys. You can find quite a few Marvel heroes that were in Captain America: Civil War and a few that weren't, like Hulk and Thor. No Black Panther though.

:Here's the list of possible figures that is featured on the packaging.

Iron Man / Hulk / Captain America / Thor / Ant-Man / War Machine / Black Widow / Vision

Plus there is a figure in "stealth armor" who I imagine is Iron Man with a different suit. I'm hoping for a Vision as he was one of my favorites as a kid.

Let's see what I pulled. It turned out to be Ant-Man which makes me very happy. These are just about perfect for a little cubicle or a desk that doesn't have too much space and at $3.99 per package I think that they are a nice deal.