Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I freeze at Chinese restaurant buffets, too

One thing I still can't get accustomed to with modern shopping is the sheer variety all in one place. For years I operated in a world with only four channels on my television, a handful of station on the radio and a sports magazine that arrived once a week.

Much like someone who grew up during the depression (my apologies for comparing the '70s to the Great Depression), that period will be with me forever, and I'm still adjusting to the grand smorgasbord that appears before us whenever we fancy.

The best example of my inability to fully grasp this is whenever I select cards on COMC. I absolutely cannot focus. I have a variety of collecting interests, so that plays a part, but I cannot commit myself to a single shopping task and finish it. There is just too much other goodness to absorb.

I had a little bit of cash to spend recently and went straight to my favorite online card site. The first card I threw in the cart was the above Pete Rose In Action card from the 1972 Topps set. It's one of three cards that I needed to complete the set.

You'd think that while I was there, I would grab the other two cards I needed.

But you will not see the '72 base Pete Rose card on this post nor the Tim Foli In Action card.

I didn't bother to nab them.

My attention got diverted.

This card was a no-brainer. As a guy, I think we are all in agreement that Kate Upton is the most stunning Sports Illustrated supermodel to ever walk the earth (and if you disagree, I don't want to hear it, you just sound silly).

From there tastes diverge. But my favorite after Ms. Upton is without a doubt Marisa Miller.

So, I can't for the life of me understand why this card cost under a dollar. It should be at least 50 bucks. Not that I'm complaining.

But, I know what you're saying: this card, at under a dollar, couldn't have possibly gotten in the way of landing those other two 1972 Topps needs.

No, you're right, it couldn't.

Another card did.

I am on record as adoring this insert set from 2003 Topps. I wrote a post quite awhile ago stating that I was collecting this set.

I haven't gotten very far. I have maybe 15 cards from the set and many of those are tied up in my Dodger collection (guess where this one is going?).

The cards seem pretty popular in general, and they're a pain in the ass to find at a reasonable price. Sure $3 might not sound like much, but when you're trying to complete a 100-card insert set, that adds up quickly.

So, when I saw this card -- one of the greatest World Series programs ever -- at a decent price, I grabbed it.

It will probably be another year-and-a-half before I snare another one.

But, really, that card couldn't have cut into my spending on those other two '72s, could it?

No, not really.

But there's another card I landed I must mention.

I saw this card on Nachos Grande's trade bait post. I believe it was one of the framed versions of this card. I probably should have nabbed it then, but I'd rather have the base card.

I wasn't even aware there was a Marvin Harrison Masterpieces card. I interviewed Harrison many times when he played college football at Syracuse, so this card is for a future "Brush With Greatness" post, as I continue to expand outside of baseball in that series.

The card was pretty cheap for an NFL great and card series great (Masterpieces), so I don't think this card, added to the two other cards could have prevented me from getting the other two '72s I needed.

But, still, there was another one:

Of course it's a 1975 buyback card.

As my quest to get as many buybacks from the '75 set continues, I zeroed in on another one of my favorites from that set. I loved this Dave Cash card when I was a kid, it was a prized possession in my very small collection. I may have gone outside my buyback upper spending limit for this card. But it's worth it.

Cash also came with some friends.

 This brings me to at least 120 buybacks from that set (it's either 120 or 121, I need to recount). If I were to devote as much time as, say, Shoebox Legends is devoting to his buyback project, I'd be a lot farther along. But you know my issue with focus.

Truthfully, I may have been able to grab the Foli In Action card if I hadn't bought these few other cards. But I didn't have the money to get all three '72 Topps that I needed, so I decided to distribute my money to other interests and save my "I HAVE COMPLETED 1972 TOPPS" post for another time.

I actually love to see variety come out of one of those little yellow envelopes. It makes me happier than getting 100 cards from one set.

It's kind of like going to a restaurant buffet. Yeah, there is one dish there that you really, really like. But who wants 10 helpings of sesame chicken? There's so much other good stuff on the menu, too.

Still, there's always that time when you go back to the table and think "dammit, I forgot the wontons!"

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

C.A.: 1991 Score Rick Dempsey

(Yup, we're back to Cardboard Appreciation posts after installing another card into the Cardboard Appreciation Hall of Fame. if you're new to these posts, this is where I feature one card of particular interest to me, in hopes that it will be of particular interest to you. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. But welcome to Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 251st in a series):

In continuing with my research on helmets on Dodger baseball cards, I struck upon this semi-historic card.

This card features one of the last known examples of a catcher wearing a cap while fielding his position on a baseball card issued during that player's career.

Rick Dempsey was the last catcher to wear a cap under his mask instead of a helmet. Even long before this 1991 Score card was issued, Dempsey's cap-wearing was a novelty. Many catchers had gone over to the helmet long ago. So card companies would often show Dempsey wearing his cap just because it was so delightfully unusual.

But by 1991, Dempsey was the last, there were no other catchers foolish enough to wear almost no protection on their head while crouched behind a large man swinging a piece of lumber.

Yet, Topps went with a head-and-shoulders shot of Dempsey wearing a helmet.

Stadium Club showed Dempsey running the bases, wearing a helmet.

Donruss, Fleer and Upper Deck didn't even bother with Dempsey. They were done with his career, cap and all.

So, Score ends up with the landmark card, one of the last to show a catcher in a cap while working behind the plate.

There is another card issued that same year that shows Dempsey in a cap.

Dempsey was signed as a free agent by the Brewers after the 1990 season after being granted free agency by the Dodgers. So, actually, this photo was taken later than the Score Dodger photo. But since the cards were issued in the same year, I'm calling it a tie. The Leaf and Score cards in the 1991 set were the last to show a catcher wearing a cap behind the plate. (There are also oddball Brewers cards issued that same year that show Dempsey in a cap while catching).

Of course, with the advent of retro cards there are plenty of newer cards showing Dempsey in a cap, but he had long been retired when those were issued.

I don't have nearly enough time to track down the one-off cards that appeared after 1991 that show a catcher in a cap. I'm sure they exist.

I'm comfortable thinking that the '91 Score Dempsey card is one of the last of its kind. You have to give that to '91 Score. It has so little.

Monday, February 20, 2017

A surprise inside

If you do not have a Twitter account, I do not blame you one bit. Twitter, to put it quite bluntly, is the biggest shit show I have ever joined.

I am sure there are people who have signed up to Twitter because it's such a mess. In fact, I know there are. And that right there explains the mind-set of Twitter. It is a continuously updated series of disasters and overreactions, from people who love to wallow in disasters and overreactions, dialed up to two thousand and splattered in your face in a fit of pent-up aggression. Think of the most annoying student you knew in college. Now think of that same student with all of his or her neuroses, personal agendas and self-absorbed political thoughts belligerently aired for everyone to hear, just blaring from the student union, almost around the clock, and dammit, you'd better agree. That's Twitter much of the time.

Twitter is even more dysfunctional these days because the political takes are just relentless (as it is on any social media outlet). There are times when I wonder why I haven't seen a post or tweet from a certain person in weeks or months -- are they still alive? -- and then I realize I have blocked all of their political posts or words, leaving them with nothing else to say.

Gee, am I underselling Twitter a bit?

I guess I am.

There must be a reason I'm still there. Why am I still there?

I'm there for the baseball and the baseball cards. My job depends on staying on top of sports news in general and Twitter remains a great source of information (granted, in many cases you have to weed through several sports writers/bloggers politicized opinions to get to that info). No one really can compete with Twitter in this department.

My collection also depends on the sports card information available. This is the place where I find out about new product (and all of the cards I will never pull), as well as lots of good info on past sets and cards that I rarely come across on the blogs.

And Twitter remains a place where I can communicate with like-minded card folks. Amid all of the chaos and screaming and people running around with their hair on fire, believe it or not, you can enjoy a quiet, short convo about cards while the Chicken Littles throw themselves off an eight-story building in the background.

There are actually some people on Twitter who grew up at the same time that I did, who have an interest in the same period of cards that I do, and a number of those people don't write blogs. They like my tweets because they understand where I am coming from, and I appreciate that. (I tweet about cards and baseball and my memories of both, and that's about it. I have no interest in bothering anyone about anything else on Twitter).

One of those folks with which I've formed a Twitter bond is a guy who goes by @selectospeed. Just the other day we were reminiscing about the iron-on patches that our moms put on the holes in our Toughskins jeans. These are the conversations I enjoy.

A couple of weeks ago, @selectospeed asked if I wanted a card he pulled from 2017 Topps:

It's really impolite to say "Gimme" -- even on Twitter -- but I believe I said something very similar. Joc Pederson's Modern Ballplayer Signature aside, what a terrific card. The blue Father's Day motif, the blue Dodgers letters (they're Panini-esque), the knowledge that Pederson's dad, Stu, played in the Dodgers organization and was a noted player in Syracuse back in the day -- this is not only my first autographed card of the 2017 collecting season, but it might be my favorite 10 months from now.

But @selectospeed didn't stop there and sent a small variety of cards that I didn't expect.

 A few random Dodgers goodies. Much appreciated.

A starter set of 1983 Fleer Dodgers. The '83 Fleer set is one of those I may collect some day (unless I see another card show with the entire set available cheaply like I did last September). These will all go toward that down-the-line cause.


Here are some totally arbitrary but totally cool items (P.S.: the Bumgarner has already been distributed, selecto!)

And a very smoking 1962 Post card that I needed.

All of those terrific and they will be lovingly cataloged and stored.

But let's get to the surprise inside.

Ain't that cool?

This is a 1963 Fleer card of Don Drysdale, not the easiest card to obtain. (But easier than a couple of his teammates in this set, named Koufax and Wills).

As much as I like the autographed Joc card, it can't compare to the vintage Drysdale.

And this is what I can still get out of Twitter, people who admire the history of the hobby and appreciate fellow collectors' interests.

Early rant aside, there is the flip side of Twitter. It has many good points, including the baseball and card information I mentioned above. There is an enthusiasm for the hobby on there that sometimes I don't see on the blogs. Although I much prefer the reserved personality of the blogs, sometimes Twitter provides a more visible sign of appreciation for some of the posts I write and daily confirmation of this love for the hobby. If you are excited about a card that you just acquired, there is always someone on Twitter who knows how you feel and lets you know. That doesn't always happen on the blogs.

So, this is why I press on with Twitter. I often must put on my blinders and selective hearing before I engage with my fellow collecting buddies. But actually, I can have an enjoyable time with anyone who likes cards or enjoys baseball, especially from the '70s and '80s, regardless of their state of mind about anything else.

I suppose I can't expect everyone to think like me or act like me. But my mom not only ironed on patches on my jeans but she raised me with some manners that I try to follow, even online (as this post shows, sometimes I fail). I instinctively expect others to follow them, too. My mom could whip that Twitter into shape.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mini pages, mega reaction

I go back and forth over whether I am naturally tidy or sloppy. I tend to think that I am tidy because my mother is quite the neat freak, and, oh, the random rules when I was growing up. Whether by force of habit or inherited genes, I tend to like certain things tidy.

But only certain things. My desk at work ranks only third in the sports department in terms of health department disaster area, but consider that I have been meaning to clean my desk there for 15 years and have never gotten more than five minutes into it. That's a lot of accumulation.

So it seems I'm only tidy about areas that matter to me. The kitchen, for example. Get those counters clear. Food is too important to eat in filth.

And, above all, baseball cards.

My collection is not as tidy as other collectors. I marvel at those who have their own dedicated card rooms and have constructed four-level shelves just for their binders. My goal is one day to have my own exclusive card room (my wife has even signed off on it), but it's going to be a few years before I get to that level.

Still, even though I must go to four different sections of the house for my cards, in general, they are neatly organized. Binders are preferred over boxes. But the boxes are always organized. Even the doubles boxes I try to keep tidy, although the incentive is low.

So it is quite trying for me that time and oddly shaped cards have conspired against my hobby-related OCD. For months, probably years now, random cards of all shapes have been sitting on my card desk and in random boxes tormenting me on a daily basis. THESE CARDS NEED TO BE STORED IN PAGES!

I have been most desperate about the minis that are sitting out in the open. Stuff like this has accumulated too much for my comfort:

All minis -- especially minis -- should be stored. They're mini. They need to be sheltered and protected.

I was most disturbed by my Dodger minis, most of which I've received from various collectors. The Dodger minis get first priority for my tobacco mini pages. I carefully slip them into order, painstakingly shifting other minis to get the new mini in its proper spot.

But many, many months ago, I ran out of tobacco-sized mini pages. And the backlog began.

It doesn't look like a lot (26 cards total), but that's just too much for me to stand. The elements! The potential damage! Close your eyes!

So, for months, the OCD part of my brain (YOU MUST GET THESE IN PAGES!) argued with the accumulating part of my brain (MUST. ACQUIRE. CARDS) and the accumulating part always won. I love new cards way too much, and nobody wants to see new pages on a card blog anyway.

I thought I'd never get the pages I needed to make the inner-wincing go away. But I guess it just got to be too much. I care TOO MUCH for cards, they must be tidy!

And, so, I am showing for you now:

(*imagine that music that is played when the heavens open*)


- Hobby Exclusive
- Super Strong Weld
- No PVC - Acid Free
- Hologram/Safe Storage
- Ultra Clear
- UV Protection
- Lays Flat
- Patented

OK, I don't care about most of that. I just felt I should list it because I'm so excited!

Sure, this isn't as big as when I got my free box of newly made 1975 Topps-style minis from UltraPro after a bit of hounding on my part.

But cleaning off my card desk is really important to me now, especially when it comes to minis.

These pages mean I can do all kinds of things that I couldn't do for a long time.

- I can store my Dodger minis in proper order
- I can get one of those mini binders
- I can move all my tobacco mini Dodgers into one of those mini binders
- I don't know why I haven't thought of doing that until now
- I can store random minis, like the Munnatawket minis (gee whiz, Kate Upton needs a house)
- I can store random minis, like the owl minis
- I can store various A&G insert minis that just sit there in a box waiting to be loved
- I can store the minis rejected from my A&G frankenset mini binder until I can trade them to those who want them more.

Now that's a list I can appreciate.

I love my A&G frankenset mini binder. And I know I'll love the other mini binders as much as I love this one. I have the complete 2011 Topps Lineage '75 minis stored in their own mini binder and it's one of my most prized binders.

So that's what one box of tobacco-sized mini pages can do.

It can tidy up my card area, it can create peace of mind, I can sleep at night, the nightmares will go away, the endless rants during the day will cease, the neighbors will stop calling the police, all of that will end.

And ... most importantly ...

I can now use my money again to buy actual cards.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The helmet king

A post earlier today from Wrigley Wax got my attention. I am a sucker for helmets on baseball cards and even did a post a few years ago trying to figure out why I liked them so much.

WW dug up the first Topps card to show a Cubs player wearing a helmet. I suppose if you run a Cubs blog that's what you got to do. I was surprised that there wasn't a helmeted Cub before 1963 until I considered that helmets weren't made mandatory for all players until 1958 (and not strictly enforced until 1970), and helmets most often appeared during games, which Topps didn't regularly shoot until the '70s.

I quickly went through my collection to find the first Topps card of a Dodger wearing a helmet. I came up with 1962 Topps Larry Burright here, an extra careful chap, wearing a helmet while fielding grounders. I wasn't extra careful researching this though, so I'll have to double-check for the next helmet post.

That's right, the next helmet post. I told you I like helmets on cards.

But for now, it's still Ron Cey Week. And I'm happy to reveal that there was no more masterful helmet-wearer than The Penguin.

I've always known this. But when I did the research I was a bit amazed.

In virtually all of Cey's cards issued during his career, he is wearing a helmet. That's a little bit mind-blowing, considering players in helmets did not appear in the majority of cards issued during Cey's career. For example, in 1976, only four Dodgers are wearing helmets.

But I think Cey is the helmet king. After a couple of years sharing a rookie prospects card with two other dudes and wearing a cap, Cey makes his solo card debut with a helmet:

A majestic card, no doubt made more grand by that hint of helmet. (I must link to the fantastic Gummy Arts rendition of this card made on Cey's birthday).

From there, it was either helmet or no hat at all, dammit.

Not a cap to be found. That was just too, too cool for a Cey fan, and another contributor to why he was my favorite player. And, conversely, why helmets were so awesome.

But now Donruss and Fleer had arrived and how would they treat Cey's headwear?

Amazing. Still committed to the helmet.

Topps featured two cards of Cey in 1982 and he's showcasing the helmet in each one.

Then Donruss and Fleer rocked my world by showing the first cards of Ron Cey wearing a regular hat since 1973. These were the first cards of Cey that I pulled in which he was wearing a hat. That's a nine-year period!

So, now, Topps' eyes were opened and for its 1983 set it did something it had never done:

Cey is wearing a soft hat -- although Topps hedged its bets by including the inset photo of Cey in a helmet
 (the first time he is in a visible flap helmet).

It was a whole new world.

So what do Donruss and Fleer do?

Go back to the helmet!

That's a fine Topps trolling job, you two.

By 1984, Cey was a Cub, and really who cares anymore? But his trend toward helmets continued in Topps. He's wearing helmets on his 1984 and 1985 Topps cards and no hat at all on his 1986 and 1987 Topps cards. (In Donruss and Fleer it's a mix of helmets and caps).

The only time that Cey is wearing a soft hat on a Topps card during his career are on the 1972 and 1973 rookie prospects cards, 1983, and the 1987 Traded set (as an Oakland A). But there is not one time in Topps flagship that Cey is wearing a soft hat only -- the headwear the majority of players wore on cards at that time -- on a solo card.

That, to me, is amazing.

And Ron Cey is the helmet king.

Of course, it would take another similar research project to find someone who exceeds or matches that. And it can't be any player from the post-1980s because there are too many action shots from which to choose.

I may be up for that at some point, but more likely not.

I don't want anyone knocking the crown from Cey's head.

Or more accurately, the helmet.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

I'll take the vintage, please

Remember this card? I pulled it out of a repack box that I bought with a gift card just after the first of the year.

As nice as it is to say, "I have an autographed card of Hall of Famer John Smoltz," uttering that sentence rings a little hollow if you know I'm a Dodger fan. And with all of the Braves fans blogging about baseball cards, I knew this wouldn't stay in my house for long.

The card is still in my house. But that's only because I'm determining right now if I want to trudge through the newly fallen snow to the post office before I go to to work. It's in a mailer ready to go, destined for John at Johnny's Trading Spot.

John wanted this card quite a bit and we negotiated for awhile until he struck upon some possibilities obtained at a card show, or wherever he turns up his marvelous finds (I get the impression that everywhere in the south are street-side stands that sell sportscards). He turned up some finds that I was interested in and even featured them on his blog just for little ol' me.

I'll dispense with any more words and show the card that got me to give up Smoltzie.

I know you might be numb to this card because it's one of those cards that Topps repeatedly issues in reprint form. But this is the genuine article, a 1958 Topps Pee Wee Reese. It's his final Topps card and I believe the only one issued during his playing career that shows him listed with the L.A. Dodgers.

This was one of three remaining Dodgers I needed from the '58 set. The other two are named Drysdale and Koufax. So it was a no-brainer to claim this card for Smoltz.

I will take a vintage card in a deal almost every time. That doesn't mean more current cards don't interest me. It's just that if you want me to jump at what you're offering, vintage is likely to do it most often.

The Reese card actually has a crease through it from top to bottom, as John informed me before we made the trade. The crease is so faint that not only is it difficult to see in the scan but you have to hold it up to the light and ... oh, there it is!

That doesn't concern me at all. I make all kinds of condition exceptions for cards from the '50s and especially cards from the '50s of Dodger Hall of Famers.

There's the back. You can see the crease a little bit more on the reverse side. But I'm too busy staring at the cartoon of the boys playing marbles.

Still, I figured another card in the deal would smooth over the crease just fine.

It's a 1963 Post card of Dodgers '62 playoff goat Stan Williams. Post minded its manners and didn't mention Williams' bases-loaded walk to let the Giants into the 1962 World Series, but it's kind of implied in a rather devastating way:

"Stan had two good seasons -- 1960 ... and 1961 ..." Just two good seasons. Never mind that 1962 is the most recent one and is the year featured on the line of stats on the bottom. Ouch.

Meanwhile, I just love crossing off Post Dodger needs, there are so many of them.

John also threw in this gold parallel from 2015 Update. Still don't know how Guerrero feels about Yasiel Puig getting star billing on his card, but Guerrero's not a Dodger now so it doesn't matter.

I'm finishing this post a few hours later after I started it and I'm pleased to say that I did send the Smoltz autograph out this afternoon.

It's much better that a Braves fan has it.

And it's better that I have a '58 Pee Wee Reese card ... that I obtained for a card that I pulled while using a gift card bought on someone else's dime. So, basically, that I got for free. A '58 Pee Wee Reese card for free.

I can't complain about that at all.