Monday, May 25, 2015

The joy of a completed PC: Mike Piazza

(The first part of this post was drafted about a month ago.)

Thanks to a hefty lot in a recent package from Daniel at It's Like Having My Own Card Shop, I've obtained my 100th Mike Piazza card, thereby knocking him off my wantlist. Hooray!

That's a nice Piazza pile. Big thanks, Daniel!

Mike Piazza might have more baseball cards out there than anybody, save maybe Griffey. I always thought he was just fine (not a super fan, but didn't dislike the guy), and thought it was surreal in 2006 when he played for my hometown Padres for a one-year stint near the end of his run. Though voters are "sending a message" by making him wait a while, smart money is on Piazza being inducted into the Hall within the next few years. He's got to be included on any shortlist of baseball's all-time catchers, right up there with Bench and Berra.

And as a probable to-be member of my Pads in the Hall minicollection (any former Padre inducted into the Hall of Fame), he's a main guy I collect. But now thanks to my adopted 100-and-done method of player-collecting, I can stick a fork in this PC. Right?
Well, almost.

Unfortunately for me, I can't celebrate too hard just yet because I sort of have an unwritten rule that a guy in my Hundred Card Club can't officially be considered a "finished" PC without a certified auto to crown the collection. (This rule will really become an issue once Clemente and Mantle crack triple digits.) Piazza pack-certified autos are tough to come by and have thus far eluded me. (Well, hey, I do have an auto of his cousin who's also named Mike Piazza, if that counts for anything!)

But I'll keep a lookout, and hopefully make that happen one of these days.

For now, let's take a look at my Mike Piazza collection.


UPDATE: Ok, like I said, I originally drafted that up like a month ago. I assumed I had 100+ Piazzas, but turns out I fell short and was just at 87 cards. D'oh! So this post had to wait a while till I really got 100 different cards of the guy. The nickelbox I showed highlights from the other day thankfully came through and helped me achieve the goal.

So here are 100 Mike Piazza cards!

Rookie cards! The graded '92 Bowman was a sweet prize from Bob Walk the Plank last year.

A couple Marlins cards! Thank you, Fleer!

Happy Memorial Day, by the way. Thank you to the heroes.

Ok, the 2 cards on the right are technically the same card, but the tint is different enough to where I guess I'll consider one an unofficial variation rather than a dupe.

I love the 2004 Topps design (see my love for 2004 Topps Retired) and the little sketch-thing in the corner is a cool concept, but it doesn't really work with every picture.. and this is a prime example of a fail. Closer look:


2005 features a cool Piazza relic. It came from Nate at Big 44 in a trade last year.

Ah, 2006! Padres Piazza! Nice.

Piazza just doesn't look right in the white n' green. But neat, in a weird way.

Getting to the end now. Let's flip these 4 over:

Sunset cards / final tributes with full career stats.. always appreciated.

Wait.. one more Piazza!...

Yep, I ponied up for an auto.

My streak of posting a Christmas Card on the 25th of every month was about to come to an end.. but No! The tradition continues.

I'm happy with this card.. though yeah, would've been nice if it was on-card and featured more interesting jersey pieces. But whatever, it's cool. Piazza certified auto and a Christmas Card.

So that's 100 cards even (101 if you count the 2002 unofficial variation). That wraps up my Mike Piazza collection. He's now off my wantlist. Really the only Piazza cards I've got interest left in are maybe any I'm missing from his brief stays on the Marlins and Padres. But if there are other "must-have" Piazzas you think I need in order to have a respectable PC, feel free to let me know in the comments. Otherwise, I'm done!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

I ♥ Nickelboxes (not Nickelback)

Pretty good cardshow weekend for me. Made two purchases: 50 cards @ 50 cents each, and an entire nickelbox for $20.

Today let's talk about the nickelbox. I dug through most of the thing and came up with a stack of around $5 worth, but there was plenty of decent stuff in there I was passing up, so I decided to offer the old guy $20 for it all.. he hemmed and hawed for a moment, then agreed.

Plenty of cards for my collection, as well as lots of fodder for my tradebox. While I could get a month's worth of posts outta the box's contents, I'll try to keep it concise with just a post or two.

Let's get started!

Holographic cards of guys who crushed it in their prime but nobody really likes anymore. The animated gif misses the mark but you get the idea.

These 3 Bowman Is Back inserts are kinda cool, even if they are minor leaguers I've never heard of.

More shiny. Vogelmoster!

Serial numbered cards for a nickel are always great (or a couple cents each or whatever it works out to), even if the print runs are all around a couple thousand minimum, topping out just shy of 10,000 in the case of those Topps Stars cards above. Especially nice to see decent Pirate cards since they're a hot trade commodity.

Some vintage in the box, possibly highlighted by these 71s. Turns out I've got all these Giants in my setbuild already, but I'm pretty sure these are all significant upgrades for me.

We played a quick game of Hoyt Or No Hoyt before the show, which is where I ask my Twitter followers to guess if they think I'll come home with a Hoyt Wilhelm card or not, and if they're right, maybe I'll send them a PWE prize. Smart money is on Hoyt, but once in a while I come home empty with No Hoyt. But this time it was indeed Hoyt. Hoyt x3 actually. A couple of these even had dupes too.

Here are a couple nice highlights from the box. Gold framed legends McCovey and Mathews.

Nickel Griffeys are hard to pass up.

Big stacks of Piazza and Frank Thomas. I may have just knocked both of them off my wantlist and into the Hundred Card Club, but I'll need to sort those PCs and weed out dupes before it's official.

The king of the box was without a doubt A-Rod (not pictured).. hell, I may have inadvertently just inducted him into the Hundred Card Club thanks to this box alone. Also lots of "once hot, now not so much" guys like McGwire, Mattingly, Canseco, Strawberry. Not too much junk, and the junk there was was mostly "stars" so it's cool.

So that's an overview of the sweet nickelbox I just picked up. Thanks for checking it out!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Swapping out my Willie / Tapping into the Reserve

You may recall back in February I showed off the new "best card of my collection", that being a gorgeous Willie Mays 2003 Retired auto refractor #'d 24(jersey number eBay 1/1!) out of 25. Well, there's a guy out there trying to complete the 03 Retired refractor auto set, just as I am for 2004. He made his intentions known for working out a deal for the Willie. I politely declined his advances for a while, but he eventually made me an offer I couldn't refuse (no, nothing mafia related, just a bunch of money).

And so it is with a heavy heart (and wallet) that I announce the Willie is mine no more. While it was a lovely card, it wasn't exactly a perfect fit for my collection. I'm not really working on completing that set (though I keep my eyes open for killer deals), and Mays isn't even a "guy I collect"! So given the opportunity to sell it for twice what I paid just a couple months prior.. well, I just couldn't pass that up. (Anybody out there with 2003 Retired refractors to sell, let me know and I'll get you in touch with my guy.)

Anyways, with the ample proceeds funding my cardboard habit, I've brought in a few nice cards to my collection (see my prior post with recent 2004 Retired pickups). Another favorite set of mine is 2001+2002 Topps Archives Reserve ("Reserve" means it's basically an all chrome refractor set; a smaller, fancier version of Archives). I've put together both base sets and shown them off here and here.

I won't focus on it till I put my 2004 Retired Refractors set to bed, but I can see myself having a long-term goal to own every Archives Reserve card.. like, a Reserve Master Set.. including all the autos, relics, and even the football set and its hits. It's a daunting chase, to be sure, but I just love those cards, so I'm sure it would be satisfying for me.

Sometimes I take a curious look on eBay for deals toward this goal. And well, who should I find but a Willie Mays auto from 2001 Reserve. Seemed to be a reasonable price (less than a third of what I sold my previous Mays auto for). Helps make up for that loss and knocks a big card off my long-term Reserve Master Set, making it a good fit for me.

So yeah, I bought it and gave it a Glamour Shots photoshoot, so let's get on with it!

Great looking reprint of Willie's iconic 1952 Topps card. Maybe not as staggering as my last Mays auto, but definitely satisfactory for my needs. I don't care much about grading, so it doesn't bug me that it only got an 8 (which is "bad" as far as grading modern cards goes. 8=bad, 9=good, 10=great). Reserve is known for often being off-center, though this Willie seems fine to me. The signature could be a bit bigger and bolder, but it's not too bad. I'll keep it slabbed for storage/protection reasons, but but again, whatever. Very happy with this card!

As far as other progress on my Reserve Master Set, I also tracked down a very elusive Gwynn.

This is from the "red-headed stepchild" of the Reserve family: 2001 Topps Archives Reserve Future Rookie Reprints. It's a 20-card set only available inserted as bonus cards in factory Limited Edition set ("Fancy Pants version of flagship"); the auction was a 2-card lot that also included the Limited Edition base Gwynn. I've got 4 of the 20 Reserve Future Rookie cards now. They aren't numbered, but I'd put the run around just 200-300 each (just a guess). They would have looked a lot better were these refractors, not just drab grey chrome cards, but hey, they've got the "Archives Reserve" logo on them, so gotta count them as part of the master set. The Jeter will be the priciest outta this little set. But the Gwynn is hands down my favorite from it, so I'm glad to pick this one up. (Gwynn was still active in 2001, his final year, so that's why he didn't get included in the regular version of Archives/Reserve along with rookie peers Boggs and Sandberg. Too bad.. I'd really like a refractor reprint of his '83 Topps card.. Do any exist? I haven't come across one. Tons of other reprints of that card out there, but none with a nice rainbow shine to it.)

And hey, look at this! I even picked up a Reserve football card recently.

full disclosure: this card isn't in-hand yet. This is the eBay picture.
This might be my best football card now. Beautiful auto of the late William "Refrigerator" Perry (I could have sworn I heard about him passing away a couple years ago, but happy to learn I'm wrong. He's still around but doesn't sign much these days). I've mentioned before that I loved The Fridge when I was a little kid.. not because I gave a crap about sports back then, but because he was a G.I. Joe guy (action figure available by special send-away offer) and I was nuts for G.I. Joes as a tyke. Great looking card and a strong first step with the football line of Reserve. Between the sickening end to this past Super Bowl, all the Deflategate bullshit, and the increasing likelihood of the Chargers moving out of San Diego, my interest in/opinion of the NFL is at an all-time low. I've even fleetingly considered dumping my entire football card collection. But nah, I'd miss it too much, particularly the old school guys and awesome cards like this one.

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great holiday weekend, everybody!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Triumphant cards of transcendence

My 2004 Topps Retired Signature Edition Autograph Refractor setbuild project has made some solid progress lately with 5 new shiny additions!

It feels like this collecting goal is coming of age!

Over all (counting both base autos and refractors), I only need 8 more cards to complete the set. Only counting refractors, I've now hit the halfway point in the goal, with 38 out of the 76 cards. (My end goal is to have a full refractor set, and once I have a refractor of a particular card, I no longer need the base auto. I already had base autos of these 5 cards, so that means I've now got the base autos available for sale or trade.. so please get in touch if you're interested.)

Let's take a closer look at each of these beautiful new additions...

Ferguson Jenkins' base card is one of the most plentiful autos in the set. I have two of them, in fact! But the refractor is obviously more scare, at just 25 copies like the rest of the refractors. But still, there were a whopping three copies of it on eBay at the same time.. unprecedented since I've been working on this set. Obviously, I went with the cheapest of the three. Nice looking card with an early photo of the Hall of Famer.

Next up is Roy Face...

Now, Roy is thee most common base auto in the set, all alone in the "Group H" category, the final grouping and most plentiful in regards to odds of pulling. But again, all the refractors are #'d /25, so there are as many of it as any of the big shots in Group A. I don't recall ever seeing the refractor for sale before, so when it popped up for a decent price, I jumped on it even though I could have tried making a Best Offer. Probably cost myself a few bucks due to my impatience and paranoia, but I'm ok with it. Great looking card. To quote Wikipedia, "A pioneer of modern relief pitching, he was the archetype of what came to be known as the closer, and the National League's greatest reliever until the late 1960s, setting numerous league records during his career."

Next, someone call a Doctor!

The Dwight Gooden refractor first popped up a bit overpriced with no Best Offer option. I was tempted to overpay for it, but this time I exercised restraint and it ended with no bids. It was then relisted, still overpriced, but with a Best Offer option. I made an offer and ended up with it.

The seller surprised me with a bonus card..

Wow, I've gotten junk commons thrown in as surprise bonus filler before, but never a hit like this! (unless a seller was making up for something)! A free auto #'d 20/99! It's kinda of a random card.. nobody I had heard of. Kenjon hasn't done much in the NFL, but turns out this guy was a standout at University of Oregon a few years back, so maybe my Portland address was what inspired the choice. I don't care much about the Ducks, to be honest, but lots of people around here do, so the card might come in handy as a little gift one of these days. So big thanks to that seller! (More eBay seller generosity to follow.)

Now back to the black rainbowed cards.. Vida Blue and Ron Swoboda below came from the same seller.

I love Vida Blue. He was even a main PC guy of mine for a while. This is probably the strangest photo in the set. What the hell is he doing? My guess is he just snagged a chopper to the left side of the mound. Just a bizarre image.

In contrast to the Vida card, Ron Swoboda soothes us with a boring posed shot. No offense to Mets fans, but Swoboda might be the least-renowned guy in the whole set. His career wasn't all that long or notable, but his claim to fame is that he got hot down the stretch in '69 and was key to the Miracle Mets winning it all that year. Nice card.

Anyways, the seller has a pretty nice selection of 2004 Retired refractors, and I've bought from him at least a couple times before. I thought these two were both a little overpriced, and there wasn't a Best Offer option. But I've learned from eBay pros like Dodger Penguin that sometimes if you send the seller a message ("ask a question") you can occasionally get them to work with you on a deal. So I sent a message offering a deal if I agreed to buy both the refractors I was interested in. He quickly agreed and everyone was happy.

So, once in a while when I make an offer on eBay, if I include a message I'll say something like, "I'd really love this card for my collection, but $__ is the best I can do. Thanks for your consideration. Check out my blog Baseball Card Breakdown!" It's not just a cheap plug, but also a sly way to give the seller a way to contact me outside of eBay without breaking the eBay rule of giving out your email address. A seller will sometimes give you a better deal away from eBay (or as many dealers call it: feeBay! lol). It's a risk (not covered by eBay's buyer protection guarantee), but it's worked out fine the 2 or 3 times I've gone that route.

But yeah, even though we worked out our deal through eBay, the seller still took a few minutes to check out my blog and told me he liked it. And then a few days later when the Retired cards showed up, he knocked me out by basically cleaning out my Desperate junk-era Dozen wantlist on the sidebar!

These Gwynns filled some notable gaps in my PC. I'm especially happy about that Fleer Ultra insert, as it was the last one I needed to wrap up that nice tribute series.

A couple needed Robbies, too. Man, I'm just now realizing '90 Score is an underrated set. The Gwynn and Alomar are both great looking cards. I feel like Score would be held in much higher regard today if their first few sets weren't so damn overproduced.

And a Maddux and a Marquis! When I posted my 100 Greg Maddux cards and ceremoniously stuck a fork in that PC a month or so ago, everyone got all up in my face and said my Maddux collection ain't shit unless I got that 2005 Topps card commemorating his 300th win. So I put it on my wantlist and now I've got it and hopefully that'll silence my razor-tongued critics. As for the Marquis, regular readers will know that's a particular card I'm trying to amass a silly number of. I've gotten over 300 now and every one counts (just ask Greg Maddux there).

So big thanks to Southpaw Cards for being awesome and surprising me with some bonus wanted cards. Sure, they're not expensive cards, but they've been on my wantlist for a while and the gesture is very appreciated. The only card in my "junk" wantlist he didn't hook me up with was 1984 Donruss Gwynn, which yes, I'll admit isn't really junk but I was just trying to sneak it in there. Ha.

Well, that's it for today. Thank you for your unwavering patronage!