Friday, July 28, 2017

The Oldest Part of My Collection

My recent post about boxes got me thinking about this post I did many moons ago at my old Summer of 74 blog. Now that I have a bit larger readership, I thought I'd share again, since it is one of my favorites.

When I was doing my recent collection clean-out, it dawned on me that the oldest part of my collection (meaning the thing I’ve owned the longest, not the oldest thing overall) was something that I never even considered to be a part of my collection at all. Indeed, this item might be the single solitary ‘thing’ of any kind that I have owned longer than anything else. Are you ready? Can you even handle this excitement?

Photo Mar 20, 11 19 45 PM 

No, it’s not a set of 1987 Topps. It is the box that once held that set. Back in probably about 1990, my dad took me a card show at a local bowling alley (oh, those go-go ’90s!). One of the dealers was an old friend of his, a former co-worker at the Milwaukee Sentinel distribution building in Manitowoc (my hometown and YES the Making a Murderer Manitowoc). My dad, being under the impression this hobby of mine could be something like an investment opportunity, asked the dealer for a set of cards with a good potential to increase in value and, it being 1990, he recommended the rookie-loaded ’87 Topps set. If I recall correctly, my old man paid about $30 for the set – a friend price, mind you – that came housed in this 800-count box.

Photo Mar 20, 11 20 13 PM

Oddly enough, I never bothered to put the set into pages, or ever to removed from this box. But I looked at it endlessly, filing through the cards and MARVELING at the Bo Jackson and Mike Greenwell and Will Clark rookie cards. I even kept a spare George Bamberger card in the box (with the Brewers checklist on the back), so I could pull up the Brewer cards without needed to search for them. I loved this set to death, literally, rounding the corners and denting them all to hell from the constant handling. I even wrote my name on the end of the box, just in case I took it out of the house and lost it or it was stolen during a robbery or a tornado tore the roof off our house and blew the set through a tree trunk three blocks away. I was prepared for anything.

Photo Mar 20, 11 20 02 PM

Yes, I was even prepared to sell it. “50.00” firm, my man, no friend discounts here. I even decided to charge “5.00” for a “sneek peek” of my treasured cards. That’s right, folks, just $5.00 to LOOK at my 1987 Topps cards. I am sure I planned to end the sneak peek right before the Pete Rose manager card came up, just like the old peep shows that cut off right before the woman’s clothes started coming off. Another $5, of course, will get your all the way through the All Stars, I promise, maybe even to the Turn Back the Clocks.

Photo Mar 20, 11 19 52 PM

Some time after I got this, an uncle of mine who also collected cards gave me his 1987 extras (1,571 of them, if my math was correct… I’m sure my math was not correct), which I put into a couple of other boxes. That made this the “A” box and the others “B” and “C.” I was now building an ’87 Topps empire. 

Photo Mar 20, 11 20 23 PM

And still, I was fully prepared. I would be able to identify this as the A box from any angle, even it it was partially or mostly obscured. Even if I didn’t have my glasses. Even if the room was dark as pitch. Even if it were on the face of the goddamn moon!

The thing of it is, I don’t even remember what happened to the cards this box once held. I think I might have used them as filler is sending out other things during on my eBay purge periods. I’ve considered throwing the box out multiple times – that’s actually what I was thinking about doing when I realized that I’d owned this box for 27 years – or turning it inside out to lessen the embarrassment of all the stupid stuff I wrote on it. One old girlfriend, probably the first I’d ever had the courage to let see this box, used to mock me for it all the time. I’d get some cards in the mail  and she’d go, “Oh! Did you buy them or just get the sneak peek?” But I’m glad to still have it. It’s a beacon for my collecting goals. A reminder to keep what I like and forget about the rest.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Little Boxes, Little Boxes, Little Boxes All the Same

In another one of those problems of mine that aren't problems, I have a problem.

BOXES! I've picked up a few factory sets over the past few months in my Topps set-building efforts. Of course, it's more fun to make a set by hand, but I only have so many years on this earth and, going backwards, it just makes more sense to fill in some gaps the easy way. 

I keep my sets in pages and binders, as I think that's the best way to display and enjoy them. This leaves me with some empty boxes. As seen below.

This shouldn't be a big deal, but my meticulous nature demands that I make some kind of order of these or hide them away. The most obvious solution would be just to simply use them for other cards. That's why they exist after all, yah? 

But there's something that keeps me from doing that (aside from the fact that I don't really NEED any more box space right now). These boxes are kinda interesting as collectables on their own. 

Here are the '87 and '92 boxes. I believe these were the variety that were sold in retail stores. If I would store anything in these, I'd need to label the box, which would essentially deface the box. I have no illusions that these will be worth any money some day, but they are sorta-kinda a part of the set itself. And scribbling all over them would, to me, mostly end that connection.

Here is the box that not-quite-complete 1991 set came in. I'm thinking this was the box used for mail-order or hobby-sold sets? Anyway, its a nice part of the entire package. I don't save wrappers or empty wax boxes, but I understand the impulse. There something worth saving and preserving in this packaging. 

"Little boxes made of ticky-tacky"

Of the boxes I have, this one - from 2001 Topps - is my least favorite. It has a headache-inducing gold foil finish. I tried to read the checklist printed on its backside and had to squint and tilt my head like an old man. I did not like feeling like an old man. This one, I'll probably throw away.

I also have an empty vending box among these. These are practically worthless for storage, as they are made of very thin cardboard, but, aesthetically, its the coolest of the group. Topps used the same design on these for years (this one is from 1989), featuring the old-style Topps logo and a great image of Pippi Longstocking and some white-haired boy putting cards into a Bob Cratchett-style 19th century business ledger. "An educational hobby for boys and girls..." Well put. 

What do you do with your empties? I imagine I'll probably move mine into our basement storage area.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Big Fun Charlie!

It's about time I got around to posting about my haul from Gavin's recent BIG FUN GAME at Baseball Card Breakdown. The main part of my prize was an encased Charlie Hayes auto from 2005 Topps Retired. Not to sound like I'm denigrating Gavin's generosity, but this was a prize that was not exactly in dire threat of being stolen. Charlie had a decent career, but he never made an All Star game and was mostly role player. His biggest claim to fame was probably catching the last out of the 1996 World Series. He did, however, get some MVP votes in 1995. This is pretty baffling, actually. Hayes had a pretty run-of-the-mill season for the second-division Phillies and led the league in nothing more than grounding into double plays. 

BUT! Charlie Hayes spend a year with the Brewers, the second-to-last of this career. He got into 121 games as a corner infielder and put up mostly pedestrian numbers. Still, he this prize allows me to cross another Brewer off my all-time autograph list. Charlie is my 208th Brewers autographed card, putting me at an even 25% of the all-time roster.

But I keep those cards in binders. And this fellow is in some big-ass case. Hmm.

A little help from the Milwaukee Tool Company will solve this.

I've broken the seal! 

This case was actually a big harder to open than I anticipated. I switched tools at this point to avoid slicing off a finger. 

Charlie is home! Right between a couple of other also-ran Brewers and just above Jamey Wright, who was still pitching as recently as 2014. 

There were a few other goodies in the bundle Gavin sent. Including this oddball Mickey Mantle reprint. It has since found its way to a Yankees fan. 

Gav tossed in some Brewers as well. Jeromy Burnitz was a pretty fierce slugger for a few years, and this card captures his helicopter swing nicely.

I cannot get enough oddball Brewers, and one-year stop oddballs are even better. Willie Randolph had a hell of season in 1991 for the Crew, batting .327 in his second-to-last year.

I really dig this Archives card of Beej, done in the style of the 1985 #1 picks subset. 

And this Braunie, done in the 1991 style, is instantly one of my favorite cards of his. 

Jeff Cirillo was one of my favorites on the cellar-bound Brewers of the late-1990s. I don't think I've ever seen a Gold Label card in person. They are very impressive. 

And We'll close with a minor league card of Ben Sheets, who is by far the greatest right-hander to ever take the mound for the Brewers. 

Thanks for the big fun, Gavin! I've actually got a PWE headed your way right now. Keep looking up!!!!!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

I've Flipped for Flipp Tipps!

I've been getting my Goodwill binders at their Oakland Ave location here in Milwaukee. Although the store is terribly cramped, it is the nearest one to my apartment and generally has a good supply of binders, bobbleheads, and even the occasional Something Weird video DVD. But I found myself at the Goodwill on Capitol Drive yesterday and decided to see what they had to offer. 

It was a binder bonanza! I picked up four that will fit the 700+ card sets, each with the clear plastic coating that allowed my set shelf to retain its precious uniformity. 


Cap's Goodwill was lacking in the bobble department, but I did score a very cool item that I had ever actually seen in person...

That would be a Brett Butler "Baseball Flipp Tipps" issue. Bound by a plastic handle, the item is essentially a two-sided 72-page flip book with a brief, instructional commentary on each page. The Butler Flipp features a drag bunt with images taken from game footage on one side and a staged sacrifice bunt on the other. 

Here is one of the Flipps in action, with a little Hawkwind in the background to set the mood. It's hard to tell from this, but the action actually looks pretty nice. It has a sorta-3D effect to it.

Butler played with the Giants from 1988 to 1990, playing centerfield and leading off. He was a speedy baserunner and a pretty good hitter who posted high OBP throughout his career. The fact that they show him laying down a sac bunt is pretty ironic in retrospect, as modern baseball junkies would be aghast at the idea of using a hitter like to Butler to bunt a runner over. 

Pretty much everything I've found about these, including the copyright date on the package, gives a 1989 release year. However, this article here suggests that they actually might not have been released until 1990, or late 1989 at the least. In addition to the Butler, the series also featured Giants Will Clark and Kevin Mitchell, as well as Mickey Mantle, Nolan Ryan, Don Mattingly, and the soccer great Pele.

I remember vaguely seeing something about these when I was a kid. My dad, for a brief time, sold sports apparel at flea markets and other such places. He got a few of the trade journals and catalogues in the mail, and I think I saw these listed in one of those. I thought the idea was pretty cool at the time, cool enough that it lingered with me for twenty-five years or so. When I found the Butler at Goodwill, I knew immediately what it was. Flipp Tipps originally retailed for $6.95. You can find any subject in the series for less than that, shipped, on eBay.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

On Not Being Famous and Avoiding Responsibility

Collecting is, if nothing else, a way to fill the time. Not the physical time of sorting or looking at whatever you collect, but the mental time of THINKING about collecting. I am they type of person who operates much better with a hobby... some very-important-nothingness that I can focus on, solve its problems, and create dumb little goals that get me through the more mundane parts of the day. Collecting is also a kind of fall-back, something to turn to when you have nothing else pressing for your time. Or when you have something pressing for your time that you would rather not deal with. 

I need to make a phone call to the ACA help line. Like, today. I gotta make this call. It's important. 

So how about a card post???????

I posted yesterday about the weight of possessing an Aaron Judge autograph. Thankfully, that's all over now. It will soon be on its way to Bo over at Baseball Cards Come to Life. Bo has a whole bunch of Topps base cards I need, like a lotta lotta base, and I'm glad to make the swap. I think I'll snap a picture of myself with the card before I mail it. So, in 2027, when Judge is first person to ever to elected to the Hall of Fame while still an active player, I can look at it and weep. 

On a binder hunt at Goodwill yesterday (I scored two), I also found a vending box of 1989 Topps. As that is a set I do not yet have, I picked it up. $6 was probably a bit steep, considering I could get a factory set at an LCS for the same amount. But what the hell? I pawed through it a bit, enough to notice that the collation is abysmal in these things. But I did pull this one out....

Not a big deal to most folk, but I distinctly recall pulling this card from the first pack I ever opened. 28 years ago!! My God. 

I've done a little eBaying lately. Given the incredible spike in base rookie card prices of late, there are a few rookies I am looking to get ahead of the game on, for eventual set-building purposes. The Clayton Kershaw RC from 08 Update, for example, is going for $80 or more, even ungraded. 

Given that scale, Joey Votto's RC, from the flagship 08 set, is perhaps the most criminally underpriced card in recent history. Votto is one of my favorite non-Brewers and, in my mind, as sure-fire a Hall of Famer as Kershaw. I picked this one up for $2.50 shipped. 

My all-time most liked tweet was tied this past week when I shared the Joe Torre TTM I got a good year and a half (at least) after sending it to him. Even as a titan of local media (ha!), I get the most mileage out of my card tweets. Here is the twee in question:
It surpassed this tweet...

... which I actually like better and, for record, was liked by both SI's Emma Span and Brewers super-fan Front Row Amy. 

Bragging about your tweets is pathetic, right? 

Back to that fatuous comment about me being a titan of local media. Twice in my life I have been recognized in public. The first time was actually on a first date (BOOM!). We were walking down the street and a woman came up and asked me if I was Matthew Prigge. "Yes." "Oh, I have your book." "Oh, well thank you for buying it" "No... I think I live in your old apartment. I got a package of books from some publishing company with your name on them. I was trying to find you on facebook. Come get them."

The other time was at Walgreen's. The guy at the register recognized my name and said, "Oh, you wrote a book, right?" "Yeah, that's me." "Yeah, I recognized it because I used to deliver the newspaper to your parent's house in Manitowoc (where I grew up). In fact, didn't you used to have that route?" "Uh... yeah, I did." "I'm pretty sure I took over that route from you... oh, and you gotta use the chip reader."

That's all I've got for now.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Being Haunted by Wayne Gretzky and the Aaron Judge Auto I Don't Want

A few years ago, I bid on (for some reason) and won a 12-inch tall Wayne Gretzky MacFarlane figure on listia. I got a bunch of MacFarlanes, for no reason more than I just through they looked kinda cool. Whatever.

Anyway, when I got the thing, it immediately became a burden on me. Yeah, Wayne himself is only 12 inches tall, but he's got his arms up in the air like some kind of demon, holding up his hockey bat (stick? who cares) with a look on his face like he's just back from the dead. The thing is about three feet tall in actuality. Just look at this...

When I got the figure, I lived in a basement apartment that was about 400 feet square. The entire space occupied by this thing (it stood on a sizable base) was literally as big as a microwave stood on its end. I couldn't put it ANYWHERE. I had no closet space and no cabinets to hide it in. It just sat out on the floor, MOCKING ME.

I also couldn't bring myself to throw it out. It looked expensive, after all. But it weighed on me every waking moment I spent in my apartment. It got to the point that I'd forget about while I was at work and them immediately feel the crush of it when I got home. It was like a bad relationship where you physically begin to ache just being around the person. It was painfully invasive! It literally began to depress me.   

After a few weeks, I managed to trick a friend into taking it home with her after a night of drinking at my place. A week later, she began to text me about how much SHE hated it now and how much her roommates hated HER for bringing it home. The curse was not broken until she left it at the backdoor of a Goodwill after hours and ran away. 

There is something currently in my collection that is similarly weighing on me these days.

Yeah, its an autograph of the hottest baseball player on the planet. (Don't you feel just awful for me?)

I snagged Judge in a TTM request to the Yankees' spring training facility in March. I was pleased when I got it back (although partially because I kept confusing him with Clint Frazier). When Judge went bonkers in April, I actually had to go back and make sure that I had his sig and not Fraizer's. By the end of April, I was considering selling it. I figured the market would never be better and, seeing Richie Sexson written all over him, figured I wouldn't be losing out on much. 

But I held on to it, a bit wary of selling something I had gotten TTM. Of course, since then, Judge-mania has only gotten crazier (let's call it Judge-mania-mania) and slabbed Judge autos are selling for $150 plus on ebay. I've never submitted anything to PSA. Mostly because I don't care and don't really trust their judg.. uh, assessments. But it seems that if I do want to sell the card (I'm still not sure I should) I'd need to get it slabbed. Of course, if I don't sell it, it doesn't mean anything to me to have it slabbed (or to spend $40 and wait six weeks to get it back). 

I still do not have faith that Aaron Judge is going to be the next Trout or anything like him. Big guys just don't age well and Judge is already into what should be his peak years age-wise. So I still want to get rid of this card, I just don't know how. I posted on blowoutforums, hoping to swing a trade (I feel better doing that with a TTM than getting cash for it), but have so far had no real interest. I supposed people are wary about putting much up for a TTM auto and, to be honest, I don't really blame them. 

So, it just weighs on me now. I'd gladly trade it for some stuff that could fill in the gaps in Topps base sets. I'm open to offers. Or advice on what to do. Maybe I'll call up that old friend, get drunk with her, and slip it into her bag before she goes home.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Five and a Half Brewers Items for a Five and a Half Game Lead

Holy Hell! It's All-Star night and the Brewers are nine games above .500 and have a 5.5 game lead on the sputtering Chicago Cubs! 

And it's 2017... the year when just about every expert in the world picked the Brewers to finish somewhere near the bottom of the National League. How can this be?

I hadn't really been sold on this Brewers team until the past couple of weeks. Their series in New York against the whatever team it is that Aaron Judge plays for showed that they are both talented and resilient. They've developed a bit of swagger as of late, and I hope to hell they can keep it up. This is a very fun team to watch and they make it a lot of fun to be a fan.

To celebrate, I'm gonna pluck five and a half items from my non-card Brewers collection and share them with the blogosphere. Away we go...

First up, appropriately, is a ticket from the 2002 All-Star Game at Miller Park. Like tonight's affair, the game went into extra innings. Unlike tonight's game, the managers didn't act like morons and burn through all their pitchers. I was at the game (my god, I was just 20 years old then) and, despite the tie, it ranks among my greatest in-person baseball memories. Torii Hunter robbing Barry Bonds is still one of the coolest things I've ever seen live. Sadly, the ticket suffers from some paper loss. I kept it in the lanyard I got at the game for way too long and it pulled some of the ink off when I finally removed it. 

Next up is a 1977 Brewers program cover. I got this at an antique shop here in Milwaukee for a buck. And I believe that it contains a Charlie O. Finley autograph. I have no real of knowing, but it looks pretty close to other examples of his sig and I have no idea why anyone would fake such an autograph on a Brewers game program. It's reasonable thinking that Charlie O might have traveled with the club to Milwaukee and, with his flamboyant style, certainly would have drawn some attention and some autograph seekers. It's a pretty cool item, but I'm not really sure what to do with it. For now, it sits in my TTM binder.

Number three is actually an item from the old minor league Brewers, who played in Milwaukee until 1952. Before the 1953 season, they were chased out of the city (and denied a chance to play in brand-new County Stadium) when the Braves moved west. This is a program that I have dated to the 1952 Little World Series and was likely purchased at one of the final games every played at Borchert Field.

Batting fourth is Harvey Kuenn... or rather a coaster from Harv and Aud's Ceasar's Inn signed by the AL Rookie of the Year, batting champ, 8-time All Star and pennant-winning manager. During the 1982 season, Harvey and Audrey Kuenn lived in the back apartment of Caesar's, the bar that the couple ran. It's a bit surreal to imagine today, a big league skipper keeping (and living at) a corner bar just over a mile from the ballpark. I wrote a piece on Harvey a while back and I think it's one of the better things I've written.

Number five is this way-cool poster of the 1989 Brewers, a team that many picked to win the AL east (they did not). Not much to say about this other than that it is HOT AWESOMENESS. 

And for the half, we have half of a bolt. But not just any bolt... this was a bolt from County Stadium. I went to a game there in 1999 and when I sat down in my seat, somewhere in the lower grandstand, it damn near fell apart. I took a look at it and saw that the thing was barely hanging on to the concrete block. Jiggling it a bit, this half-rotted bolt fell out. I kept the bolt and moved to one of the other 40,000 or so seats in the park that were empty that afternoon. Miller Park is fine. But I really do miss that old dump. 

Thanks for reading and here's a great second half!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

1991 Topps: A Follow-Up

It was the hour or two on a lazy afternoon that I spent catching up on some podcasts and sleeving up my '91 Topps set that inspired me to do yesterday's post. 

The set contains 792 cards, a memory-loaded number for many collectors. 792-card sets fit perfectly into 88 9-pocket pages, leaving the final card in a satisfying spot in the final page of the binder. 

But my set didn't have 792 cards! Nine were missing! As I mentioned, I only paid five dollars for the thing. It came in a factory set box and may or may not have been sealed when I bought it (I can't recall).  

Anyway, my beautiful 1991 Topps set is short the following cards: 

79 - Frank Thomas
243 - Lance Johnson
393 - Carlton Fisk AS
414 - Sammy Sosa
420 - Bobby Thigpen
523 - Rodney McCray
620 - Ozzie Guillen
781 - Darryl Hamilton
785 - Scott Fletcher

Eight White Sox and the late, great Darryl Hamilton. Weird...

Anyway, if anyone has any of these laying around, I'd greatly appreciate a PWE.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

1991 Topps: An Appreciation

I turned nine years old in 1991. I had been marginally collecting baseball cards for the past two years, but I remember my habit really ramping up in '91. And it was a hell of an easy time to be a card fiend. Nearly every grocery store, pharmacy, or sundry shop had a display of cards, ranging from a box or two near the King Size Twix bars at the local UniMart to entire aisles of cards, supplies, and hobby mags at Fleet Farm or ShopKo. And every boy my age seemed to collect cards at least part-time. Our town had a pretty large Hmong population and the even the Hmong kids in my grade school classes - first-generation Americans who grew up, for the most part, in non-English-speaking households - found their way into collecting. It seemed that the hobby, among kids, was less about sports and more about the trend... something like fidget spinners or pogs or whatever else becomes the brief chic thing to do. It was about fitting in and participating in something, but it was also about social class and money (no collector went without a price guide). It was a weird mix of childhood innocence and this unfortunate kind of classroom capitalism that led to the most impressive collections, and therefore most impressive collectors, dictated by the Holy Price Book.

I often look back at the time when I was most active as a young collector, back in the mid-90s, with regret. Both myself and other kids I knew who collected were slaves to the price guide. It's how we balanced our trades and its what got us excited about ripping packs. It was fun, I suppose, but I was clearly missing the point of the whole reason for collecting. But there was a time just before this when I was probably most "woke" as a young collector. It was 1991. 

First off, allow to digress for a moment. Since I just used the term "woke" in a place where it probably really should not have been used, I have to revisit a point I made earlier... pretty much every boy I knew collected cards, but I do not recall any girls who were into cards. Granted, I was pretty terrified of girls until the age of... oh, about 21. But there must have been at least a few, and I certainly remember girls who were into baseball or who played baseball in little league. Do any of you remember any girl collectors as kids?

Anyway... 1991. I was a Topps man by virtue of 1989 Topps being the the first cards I ever opened. And in 1989, unless you had the money for Upper Deck, Topps was tops. But into 1990, Topps began to feel kind of old-fashioned. It lacked the white stock used by everyone else, it was a bit late on a lot of rookies, and was just kinda, well, dorky. When I saved up my allowance money for a factory set in the fall of 1990, I had the option of UD, Topps, Fleer, Donruss, or Score (yeah, the local department store sold ALL of them). Not wanting to spend the extra $10 on Upper Deck, I went with Score. It was bright, clean, and a mile more fun that the old grey lady that was Topps. I remember the Topps set being the one I wanted the least of the bunch.

Topps must have realized they were falling behind, too. So for 1991, their 40th baseball set, they drastically overhauled the look of their flagship set. They adapted a sleeker design and made, what I think, is still the greatest single-season improvement in overall appearance in trading card history.

The design itself was far more understated than the garish 1990 set. They used a special Topps logo for the first time ever, marking without doubt that they were "The Real One," masters of business that other companies had just gotten into. A ribbon at the bottom of the card contained a low-profile player name and position, with a pair of boarder lines running around the photo, making an excellent use of team colors. This had the effect of placing much more emphasis on the photo, a tactic that Upper Deck had been using for both of their baseball issues to that point. Another ribbon in the lower right carried a team wordmark, only the fourth time since 1960 (!!) that Topps had used any kind of team logo in their design and the first time any card had carried a team wordmark (Upper Deck used it in their 1992 baseball issue). 

Just look at that! What a damn beautiful baseball card. With much encouragement from my bi-monthly issues of Topps Magazine, this set restored my wavering faith in Topps. (yeah, I snapped all these pic from my binder, I'm lazy)

One of the big things that Mag gushed about what the photography of the set. And they were not exaggerating. 1990 Topps, and decades of previous sets, had relied heavily on portrait shots and spring training photos. Those appeared in the '91 set, too, but they are far more interesting and lively. 

Here's an action ST shot far more action-packed than anything in '90 Topps.

And here's a headshot that is actually fun and engaging. An alien concept to years previous.

But, of course, it was the action shots that most captured my attention. Many of the most memorable used a horizontal orientation, the first time Topps had used that since 1974. 

Here's Walt Weiss flying over Joel Skinner.

And here's Dwight Evans stroking a hit at Fenway.

And here is what might be the greatest single baseball card ever made.

But not all of the great horizontal cards needed such interesting shots. Some took what might have been pedestrian images and allowed them to be framed in such a way that really makes them pop. 

Like framing Nolan Ryan's follow-through.

Or using the turned heads of the Wrigley Field fans and the Cubs' catcher to give depth to this shot of Will Clark preparing to leg one out. 

Depth! Yes, the '91 Topps set used depth better than any set previous. They had tried in 1971 and 1973, but it didn't really work. In 1991, however, you can get a great 3D effect using the border and, in this case, the Topps logo. 

You can get an ump's eye view of Eddie Whitson.

Or to see what Dave Stewart might have looked from the front row. 

Topps also embraced the staged photo in '91, something that other companies had only dabbled with. In doing so, they produced some true gems.

This view of Wade Boggs was unimaginable on a Topps card prior to '91.

This card employs an iconic stadium in way that no other card really had before.

And this card used a photograph from a shoot for a Sports Illustrated cover in 1989 - a type of innovation in photo selection that Topps had never dared to try before. 

I collected these cards with glee in 1991. I didn't know what they "booked" for and probably didn't care. I just wanted to get all those gorgeous cards I'd seen in the magazine for my own. I picked up a factory set of '91 Topps at a card show a few months ago for $5 and spent the afternoon just thumbing through them. It was a hell of an investment.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Diggin' into Series Two

So, it's been a while since I've posted anything of substance and, to be honest, I've gotten kind of back up on things. I had a number of posts I meant to do, but never got around to any of them. Such as things go, I suppose.

My Big "get" over the past few weeks was some Topps Series 2. Since this is the first time I am collecting the current-year base set since 2010, I was pretty excited about getting into the second wave. Wax box prices were a bit high for my present state, but I managed to find someone on eBay selling jumbo pack lots for a price that worked out to just under $7 each. Not bad all, even assuming that the seller had searched out any packs with hits.

But wait, that turned out not to be the case, as I pulled this Gregory Palanco batting glove (I think) relic numbered out of 25. One of the better relics I've pulled, but still nothing I was interested in keeping. It's already been traded. 

Despite its flaws, I do like this set. There are some GREAT photos like this one from last year's incredible World Series.

And I got a pair of first-time Brewers cards for a couple of guys pacing this year's offense. Shame about the Thames, though. That is some next-level laziness on the part of Topps. If you are not familiar, Thames has been wearing a very large beard for a while now. I expect photoshopping, but maybe if your only option is a four-year old photo it's time to get a little creative with the whole process. A press conference photo? A photo from Korea? Hell, photoshop his damn beard! That would be fun. 

At least they included his NC Dinos stats on the back. That is very cool.

Speaking of cool, I loooove this card. It might be the best of the set. 

Topps also started doing this weird thing in series 2 where they blur out the faces of fans. You can see it above.

And above.

And above.

It gives the photos a weird kind of three-dimensional quality to them. But they're also kind of inconsistent with the practice.  

I assume this is to prevent some kind of claim from a fan about using their image without permission. I suppose anything goes in Texas. 

Speaking of odd images, I guess this is a parallel of some kind. Good lord. Who would want a binder full of these? 

Anyway, I got a pretty good chunk of the set, but found on many occasions that base cards appeared in different packs in the exact same order... runs of eight cards or more! Yikes. Anyway, with a few trades I've gotten pretty close to getting this one in the can. If anyone can help out with these cards : 283, 319, 382, 384, 420, 432, 440, 447, 449, 453, 455, 457, 469, 478, 479, 492, 503, 527, 539, 540, 542, 566, 570, 574, 586, 596, 619, 660, 682, I've got plenty of dupes to search for your needs. Hit me up! Let's swap!