December 31, 2017

Collecting Highlight of 2017: Discovering Animalloys

Another year has come and gone and I feel more and more out of touch with modern card sets. I won't remember 2017 as the year I frantically tried to find Aaron Judge rookie cards. Instead, it will be remembered by my discovery of a set that is more than 80 years old and one that I've become slightly obsessed about.

The set in question is the 1934 Wills Tobacco Animalloys set. These cards were produced by the W. D. & H. O. Wills Tobacco Company which was a part of the larger Imperial Tobacco (which is still around today). 

The set is made up of 48 cards and, as you can see from the example below, each card is a piece of a larger image and there are 16 three-card images that feature some of the most unique animals from around the world. 

Here is card #40 featuring what looks like an elk with "WAP" above it. 

The card backs don't provide any information about the animal featured but it is interesting to see that the card creators highlight that collectors can mix and match the cards to create their own "strange creatures." 

I randomly came across this set searching the non-sports listings and most of the cards don't command prices that are too outrageous.  The set has a lot of great art and so I decided to start scooping them up and I've added 13 of the 48 cards so far this year (needs list to follow someday). 

I think that is pretty good progress on an 83-year-old set but so far I've only completed one of the three-card animal images. And here it is! 

The Wapiti! 

What is a wapiti, you ask? Well, it is the Shawnee and Cree word for an elk. It means "white rump" and take a look at the card and there is that white rump on full display. In England, the animal they call an "elk" is what North Americans call a "moose" and so to avoid any confusion they went with the native term. 

Completing this was probably my biggest collecting achievement of 2017 (or maybe it was this) which sort of puts into perspective how my collecting habits have changed over time. I'm definitely getting a lot more enjoyment from vintage and non-sports cards than rolling the dice on new products. 

December 25, 2017

Merry Steve Christmas Everyone!

In what is turning into a yearly tradition, here is a repost of the greatest Christmas-related baseball card ever made: 

Here's my original post which was published 12/25/16:

For my first post of a sports card since the beginning of November, we have a card I bought this summer for the express purpose of posting day. It is of Cincinnati Reds prospect Steve Christmas who is featured as a member of the Waterbury Reds. Waterbury was the team's AA team and a part of the Eastern League which includes minor league team in Bristol, Connecticut and Reading, Pennsylvania. 

Christmas would make it to the majors in 1983 and he would play parts of three seasons with the Reds, White Sox, and Cubs. He would play a total of  24 games at catcher and first base with one home run and seven RBI.

This card comes from the king of minor league card sets,TCMA, and this is from their 1981 minor league set. I like that you can request a checklist on the back of the cards. I'm always tempted to write in to see what happens or maybe who owns P.O. Box #2 in Amawalk, New York.

Merry Steve Christmas Everyone! 

December 24, 2017

Anything Is Possible

The absolutely best and worst fortune a card collector can receive.  

My wife pulled that one so I dodged a bullet there as my collection needs some reorganizing (and trimming) but still each weekend I wish I could find a good card show in central Illinois that had something like the photo below waiting for me. 

That's from a show druing my time in Georgia and those shows were always a lot of fun.

2017 has been an interesting for me professionally as I became a full-time sports reporter for my local newspaper, the Decatur Herald and Review. I had been working part-time there for a year doing their sports stats and also writing top 10 lists for the Cardboard Connection.

It's not an understatement to say I wouldn't have been able to become a professional reporter without this little trading card blog I started writing in September of 2008. We passed 1,000,000 readers this year which is hard to fathom and, as my longtime trading partner Reader Mike D. reminds me, I promised a 1,000,000 reader contest that I never delivered on. I will rectify that shortly, I promise.

Writing had always been a fun thing for me to do in my spare time but continuing to stick with the blog through the years helped me become a better writer. I definitely put in my 10,000 hours as they say and so my advice to people hoping to make something more from posting scans of your favorite cards, stick with it, practice, and remember...

October 23, 2017

Adding Another Burleigh Grimes 1933 Goudey To The PC

I recently added my third 1933 Goudey Burleigh Grimes card to my PC and this one comes to me from eBay, $10 delivered. It has clearly seen better days but that's really the only way I'm able to add a card from a Hall of Famer from the most popular set of the 1930's for a ten spot. 

For the uninitiated, Grimes pitched for 19 seasons from 1916-1934 and he would be elected to the Hall of Fame in 1964 by the Veteran's Committee. He was the last pitcher allowed to throw a spitball after he was grandfathered to use it after the pitch was banned in 1920.

With there being so many 1933 Goudey cards that were essentially reprinted in the 1934 set, it is a shame that Grimes wasn't included in Goudey's second most famous set. 

October 22, 2017

It Was Sort Of Like Bidding Against Yourself

As I have a large majority of Andy Pafko's cards from his playing days, I spend my eBay time looking for those rare items that are effectively one-of-ones. These might be homemade cards or Pafko signed pieces. Pafko was a very generous signer and I'm in no danger of running out of signed items to add to my collection.

A while ago I came across this turquoise ticket signed by Pafko listed on eBay. Back in 1989 it looks like Handy Andy was the "special autograph guest" at a card show in Madison and someone had him sign their ticket.

I ended up losing the auction after a few bids and I figured  it was another piece lost to the internet forever. That was until my parents came down for a visit here in Illinois a few weeks later.

My Dad collected baseball cards as a kid and he sometimes pick up cards for me at yard sales or junk shops and he is well aware of my Pafko collecting bug. He presented me with the ticket and I couldn't quite believe it that he was he was the person outbidding me during the original auction listing.

I imagine this sort of thing has happened to a few of you out there where you know the person bidding against you. I bet it happens a lot with player collectors among the most popular players.  Thankfully there aren't too may Pafko collectors out there so there isn't too much back and forth bidding on items.

September 10, 2017

Show and Tell #133: Bean's Ballcard Blog Booty

Back in the spring, kin from Bean's Ballcard Blog asked for my address to send me some cards from my need list. At the time I was in the process into moving into a new house and I gave him our address with an "East" when it should have been a "West." This started a chain reaction of card being sent to me that would eventually get returned to Kin. It went out again to me and I think floated around my local post office undelivered until someone finally thought try "west" instead of "east." That note was written on the package when it found its way into my mailbox at the start of August. 

Inside was a great collection of cards featuring many of my favorite players. The overall highlight was this Bill Madlock jersey relic card from 2002 Upper Deck Sweet Spot Classic. Madlock is the favorite son of my current home of Decatur, Illinois and over the course of his career he won four National League batting titles.

He also included another Madlock card I was looking for on my needs list, his appearance in 1981 Topps. The reverse of his card highlights Madlock's role in the Pirates 1979 World Series championship where he had a four-hit performance in Game 5. 

Next up is a collection of cards featuring another fan favorite originally from Central Illinois. Jim Thome hails from Bartonville, Illinois which is just outside of Peoria and about an hour and a half from in Decatur.

Thome spent about two seasons with the Twins and his card from that era are my favorite Thome cards overall.. 

Also included were several Thomes that I didn't have yet, including this Home Run Heroes insert from 2011 Toppys Gypsy Queen and the ultra shiny Blue Sapphire insert from 2013 Bowman which features a reprint of Thome's Bowman rookie card from 1991. I also particularly like the die-cut Gold Medallion card from 2000 Fleer Ultra. 

One player in the PC that I really need to get a checklist together for is Jordan Zimmermann. Kin included a couple Zimmermanns (you always have to remember that second "n" in his last name) in the trade package and after leading the league in wins in 2013, Zimmermann has had a couple rough seasons with the Detroit Tigers. My collection of Zimmermann cards as a Tiger is almost nonexistent and I should really jump on that while they are still easy to find. 

Thanks again for the trade Kin!

September 7, 2017

Numerous New Niekros

My Dad has taken up as a hobby to take a look at my needs list and go eBay hunting for deals. A man has to fill his free time somehow now that he is retired! So when my parents take the trip down to Central Illinois for a visit he will bring a stack of cards along with him and the most recent group included numerous new Niekros for me to enjoy.

Without a doubt the highlight is personalized autograph of Joe Niekro. Some jabroni named Matt had it personally signed by Niekro and then sold it on eBay. There loss is my gain and it has taken its place as one of my favorite autographs. Now I just need to find an Andy Pafko autograph inscribed "To Matt" as well. 

"Okay Mr. Niekro, we're ready for your Topps baseball card photo. Please come over and stand directly into the sun Mr. Niekro. Okay, go ahead and squint those eyes. The more squinty the better as far as we're concerned! A little more please, I can still see one pupil. Okay great, say cheese!"

Phil Niekro pitched for the Braves from 1964 to 1983 and here is his 1976 Topps card. His home is listed as Decatur, Georgia on the back of card which is a sort of "brother city" to my home here in Decatur, Illinois as both cities were named after War of 1812 hero Stephen Decatur.

Recently, the King of the Baseball Card Blogs, Night Owl, tweeted on the supremacy of red-bordered team cards. I think that extents to all cards, including one of my favorites from the 1988 Topps set which features Phil and Joe winning their combined 530th game which broke Gaylord and Jim Perry's brotherly record.

Now this is a heavy metal card, literally. The No-Hitter Pin cards from 2016 Topps Series One are some of the heaviest cards ever made as that is big and made of metal. Phil's card honors his no-hitter from 1973 against the San Diego Padres and he threw nothing but knuckleballs from the 7th inning on.  

September 2, 2017

Becoming The Collector

For my birthday a few months ago my friend Scott gave me this amazing Lego mini figures case that holds 16 figures. He must have noticed me enviously looking at his during a visit to his house and I finally dug out my mini figures to fill it up this week. I went with eight Simpsons and eight Doctor Who mini figures with five doctors and some villains. 

I think it looks great but I will admit that I felt a little bit like The Collector when I placed the case on my shelf.

July 22, 2017

Genius Covers : My Amazing Copy of Fantastic Four Annual #1

You can find other entries in the Genius Covers series HERE

While I have a pretty formidable comic collection (purely in terms of number of comics), I don't really have a lot of key early issues from the 1960's and 70's. I do have a couple early issues of Daredevil but they are in pretty rough condition but as a kid collector I was more interested in the current issues than older ones and I didn't really care about owning the important issues when I could read reprints or graphic novels with those issues included.

All this recently changed when I received a great looking copy of Fantastic Four Annual #1 from 1963 for my birthday this year from my sister. I was flabbergasted as she included it at the bottom of a stack of inexpensive G.I. Joe comics from the 1980's and then BAM! a Jack Kirby cover smacks me across the face!

Here's the cover with colors just as vibrant as the day they were printed.

The issue story line finds the Fantastic Four running into trouble from the Sub-Mariner, prince of Atlantis. Written by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby, I believe this is my early 60's Kirby. Jeez, thanks Avril!

The issue also features the Thing battling a hammer head shark!

The Marvel annual issues were always filled to the brim with just about double the size of a normal issue and Fantastic Four Annual #1 filled its pages with full page art featuring the teams key villains from their first year in comics. First we have The Mole Man the first villain the team ever faced in issue #1.

Although Alicia Masters, the Puppet Master's step-daughter, dated the Thing for many years in the comics, he would become the father-in-law to the Human Torch when Alicia married Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four issue #300.

There was also an incredibly detailed map of the team's headquarters in the Baxter Building. Before the days of comic information being easily accessible it was these type of drawings that provided the amount of detail super fans needed to know every possible thing about the Fantastic Four.

Thanks again Avril for the totally unexpected surprise!

July 10, 2017

Possibly The Most Disturbing Chicago Cubs Cash-In Yet

Living in Illinois as I do, I'm sometimes surprised to be reminded that another baseball team also plays in Chicago other than the Cubs. It's a Cubs world here and we all just live in it and the White Sox are nowhere to be found.

The other day I was flipping through the newspaper coupon book/penny saver thing that comes once a week and a small postcard fell out into my lap. I recoiled in horror and I was face to face with the deep dark blue eyes of Kyle, the Littlest Cubs Fan. This officially licensed monstrosity product (thanks a lot MLB!) is a vinyl doll (and not a toy by the way, it is a collectible! as the fine print reads under his left elbow) dressed in a Cubs jersey that can be yours for only $159.99!

I pick up a lot of Chicago Cubs cards and oddballs for my L.T.T.P.R.M.D. (Long Time Trading Partner Reader Mike D.) and this would work out sooooo well for our next trade!

Me: "Oh, thanks Mike for finding an original 1954 Spic and Span Andy Pafko for me! That must have taken some time to track down."

Mike: "It was wasn't too hard, I found a good deal from a seller after about eight hours of searching." 

Me: "Thanks again. Here's your part of the trade. It is Kyle, the Littlest Cubs Fan."

Mike: "Delete my contact information."

At least you now know how you can push the eject button on any friendship you have with a Cubs fan. Plus, that $159.99 isn't so bad as you can spread it out over six payments of $26.67! 

July 9, 2017

Jesse Orosco Rookie Card and Autograph

One of my favorite type of players to collect are pitchers that have a career where they pitch forever. Some of my all-time favorites include Hoyt Wilhelm, Gaylord Perry, the Niekro brothers, and Kent Tekulve. 

The all-time king of "pitching forever" is Jesse Orosco who pitched from 1979 to 2003 and holds the record for pitching in 1,252 games. Although he is famous for winning World Series titles with the New York Mets (1986) and Dodgers (1988), Orosco began his career as a Minnesota Twin. He was then traded to the Mets as a part of the trade that brought Jerry Koosman to Minnesota. Orosco would also end his career pitching for the Twins in 2003 for eight games.

It doesn't appear that Orosco has any cards as a Twin from either of his stints with the team ( Add that to the "cards that should have been" list) and you can find his rookie card in 1980 Topps. He shares it with the 1986 Cy Young winner Mike Scott, making it a very respectable 80's multi-player rookie. 

Orosco only has a handful of certified autographs, including 2005 Topps Pristine Legends and 2013 Topps Archives, so I added an  TTM/in-person autograph of Orosco's 1983 Fleer card. I received this one from Reader Mike D. in a trade a while ago and I like how Jesse signed the card without signing over his portrait. 

July 8, 2017

Show and Tell #133: A Summer Trade From the Summer of '74

Here are the results of a recent trade from Matt of the Summer of '74 blog. He sent me a collection of Twins, Royals, Mariners, and a couple of great cards I'm not sure how he knew I would love. We start off with a Bill Madlock 1980 Topps buyback which are a pretty rare find in 2014 Topps products.

Next up is a James Shield Royals jersey relic from 2014 Topps. Shields signed with the Padres before the 2015 season and missed out on the Royals World Series run.

Next we have two cards that could each be reprints that you might have trouble identifying with just a card scan alone. Turns out Carlos Beltran's second Topps flagship card is real and the Bo Jackson is from the Berger's Best insert set from 2016 Topps. The Jackson is obvious with the card in-hand as it is a modern glossy card. 

Don't you miss the days when Beltran's rookie was in 1995 Topps and his second Topps flagship card was released five years later!?

Omar Vizquel's Fleer rookie card can be found in 1989 Fleer Update and so this 1990 Fleer card was realistically my first chance of pulling a Fleer card for the all-time leader in double plays at shortstop.

I'm not sure exactly who Matt knew I was looking for this card as I haven't put together a First Pitch needs list but it was in my trade package anyway.

Also included were two TTM/in-person Mariners autographs of mid-80's designated history Ken Phelps and pitcher Pete Ladd who went 8-6 in his one season with Mariners in 1986. 

I even got this awesome signature card! Thanks for the trade Matt and I will look for some stuff for you at the National in a few weeks!

July 3, 2017

Ripping Some Rick and Morty Mini Figure Blind Boxes

Rick and Morty Season 3 is coming soon! 

As in it arrives in a few weeks, July 30th to be exact, and as the new trailer and premiere dates have been released, I've been spending my baseball card money on the mystery minis figure boxes that are available only at Target. You might overlook these sort of items if you stick to the Target trading card aisle by the checkouts. My local target stocks these in a sort of "pop culture" section behind the books and video section and was a box of these with 12 figures to choose from with a $5.99 price tag. 

The 12-figure box size allows for a really small chance of pulling a double as the only figure with a lower than 1/12 chance of pulling is Mr. Puppy Butthole at 1:6. But really, who would be mad at pulling double of everyone's favorite Rick and Morty character.

And wouldn't you know it, my first box gave Mr. Poopybutthole. His figure is substantially smaller than the other figures and if you have some time you can easily search the boxes and find his (or avoid it if you already pulled his figure)

Next up with have Birdperson, who we learned in the Season 3 premiere that aired on April 1st is still alive and with us, although he has been slightly augmented. This was one of the top figures I wanted to pull and I'm glad I got him.

My last figure turned out to be Summer glancing at her phone. Of all the characters in the show, she has gone from my least favorite characters to one of the best. She and Rick share one of my favorite all-time moments in the show, the body building scenes with DMX as the theme.

Overall, I would recommend these to Rick and Morty fans. Although they are made by Funko, the art style stays true to the show and are high quality. They are pretty sturdy sitting on by desk and I hope that they continue to expand the characters available (especially with Morty variations).