Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Remembering Willie Mays

Like many collectors, I took a moment to appreciate Willie Mays in the wake of his passing by looking through my cards of his.

I watched the Willie Mays doc on HBO a while ago and really enjoyed it. He's got solid representation in my collection, but Mays is a bittersweet figure in my personal hobby history, with a couple questionable decisions on my part regarding good cards of his that I parted with.

About 10 years ago, I bought a Mays 2003 Retired refractor auto for a whopping $300. A guy who read my blog post about it offered me double for it. I couldn't resist that ROI and agreed to part with it, though I've since come to regret the decision in hindsight, still chugging away on a run of Retired refractors as perhaps my #1 collecting goal. With part of the proceeds from the sale, I picked up a replacement Mays auto (more modestly priced at $160 shipped) for another ambitious collecting project of mine: the "Archives Reserve Master Set" I've been slowly building over the years..


It's a nice consolation prize, for sure-- they don't sell for anywhere near $160 anymore!-- though I still miss the '03 Retired refractor. I'm still in touch with the buyer, Dan, and we've done more swaps since. Last time I checked in with him, he was 8 cards away from his goal of completing the 2003 Retired refractor autos. (I'm going for all 3 Retired releases, with 2004 my priority, but Dan doesn't mess much with '04 or '05, instead laser focused on 2003.)

But my initial $300 purchase had a nice bonus included in the lot, and I still own that one:


I call these "charcoal" parallels of 2003 Retired, though officially they are called black borders (despite clearly being speckled dark gray). It's a nice looking card, even if not refractorized. 


It's got the "ebay 1/1" distinction of being jersey number 24 out of 99. You get a nice back of complete career stats, with the black and red text easy to read against a white background, which is appreciated even more in these days of Topps making Archives backs harder to read than the originals they mimic. If you want to check for typos-- I've noticed Retired cards often have uncorrected errors in the stats-- here's his baseball-ref page.


The other bonehead move I made with Willie Mays cards is a few years back when I forgot I had bought his 1957 Topps card for my setbuild and then bought another one. Hey, I was drinking too much in those days. I ended up trading the extra to blogger bud The Diamond King for a Cody Bellinger SSP photo variation RC. Of course, like clockwork, Cody then instantly fell off from the MVP numbers he had been consistently putting up to start his career. LOL. At least he's bounced back somewhat now. Anyways, the card pictured above is the one I still have in my set. Man, I should really prioritize the last 79 cards I need to finally complete a basic set 1957 Topps to hang my hat on.

Ten years ago I was in Hawaii getting hitched. Yep, Willie Mays died on my 10th wedding anniversary. I'm weirdly honored to share a special day with the legendary Willie Mays. It's sad he passed, but he made it to the impressive age of 93. An incredible life to be celebrated for years and years.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Trenton Brooks makes it!

It's been a while since Baseball Card Breakdown has had back-to-back posts, but I was happy to learn this morning that Trenton Brooks got called up and made his MLB debut last night for the Giants, inspiring this quick post.

Trenton becomes the ninth grad from Granite Hills High School to make the show. 


I got a nice TTM return from him way back in 2016, signing my GHHS custom, graciously accepting the couple additional copies as my gift to him, throwing in a bonus signed card from his college days, and jotting a friendly little note for me on the back of the envelope. Glad he kept grinding and was able to reach that vaunted level of professional baseball that so many dream of. Hopefully he makes the most of his opportunity and is able to stick on the big league roster.

As a card collector, I'm now on high alert for some mainstream cards of him. It's a double-edged sword because while I would love to add some fresh cards to my Guys From Granite subcollection, I like the place I'm at hobby-wise these days where I don't have to pay too much attention to Fanatics and the good and bad and drama and bullshit of modern cards, instead having fun chasing refractors from the aughts, building Topps sets from the 70s, and cardartin' with the glorious junk wax era.

As a 28-year old rookie not expected to see a ton of action, Trenton likely won't be hyped too hard in the hobby-- he never got a prospect card from Bowman or Panini-- but hopefully he gets a RC in a major product. (It's a bummer that all Travis Taijeron got from his MLB experience in 2017 was one Topps Now card followed by an autograph in Topps Chrome.. no standard RC.) ...We'll see what happens.

With 9 men on the list, my high school can now boast a full "page worth" of Major Leaguers, so I pulled out some cards for a group picture:


Nice, right? In hindsight I'd use a Brian Giles card from his younger days with the Indians, but I had already put the cards away by the time I came to that conclusion, so oh well. Maybe I'll redo it once Trenton gets a real rookie card, replacing the minor league issue here.

Now the wait begins to see who will be the player to take the school into double digits. I believe there's only one other active guy from Granite in the minors currently: Dillan Shrum, a big-swinging first baseman with the Royals' AA squad. Best of luck to him and all the other young ballplayers who passed through the halls of Granite Hills working towards that goal.

Congrats again to Trenton Brooks on his MLB debut and thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Lego-heavy Zapping

Hey, let's get a quick post out to pair with a similar Zapping recap at the njwv blog today, as I too received another fun mystery package from Zippy Zappy a few days ago.


The bulk of the mailer was a couple Lego Star Wars sets in various states of completion. I'll hope to build these back to their full glory one day.


I don't have much in the way of cool minifigs, so these are very welcomed in my Lego tub. (Skateboarding Yoda will be displayed out for a while.)


My Star Wars card collection consists basically of one modern completed set (Remember back when I went after the 40th Anniversary set to ring in my big birthday?), 2 or 3 decent autographs, and then like a potpourri of a few random cards from a bunch of different sets. Which feels perfect since I'm a big Star Wars fan but not like a full-on supernerd about it. Nice to get a look at what's out there. The autograph here is Hermione Corfield as Tallie Lintra (an A-Wing pilot in The Last Jedi).


Legos and Star Wars are cool, but baseball is the best. Can't forget 2011 Topps has a bunch of solid rookies besides the big one. Kenny also had plenty of empty top-loaders and card savers to pass on to me, not pictured.

And a few non-baseball cards. Love to see Alexa Bliss pop up in a trade package, though it turns out I already had these 3 cards in the PC. No worry, though, as it's a good excuse to sacrifice them for use in cardart.

I probably should have looked these up first, as it turns out the Wrestlemania card was like a $10 card before I cut it up. Whoops! lol, oh well; for art. I also accidentally cut myself during this project-- my first cardart injury to break the skin-- though just a tiny cut. Blood, sweat, and tears, am I right?!

I made a quick video of them, with bobbling action:


Thanks again, Kenny! Always appreciated.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Cardartin' check-in, Spring 2024

I've still been spending a lot of my time on cardart pursuits.. Thinking up things to do to cheap old cards that might be cool/fun/interesting/ridiculous, then getting around to actually working on some of those ideas. 

Here's a big project that was an endurance test for my short attention span, but I'm really happy with how it turned out:

Randy Johnson rookie super rainbow display consisting of 9 mods of his Topps rookie card

I'm currently able to make 9 different color "supers"-- silver, gold, yellow, pink, red, purple, light green, dark green, and blue-- so that works out perfect for filling up a binder page or one of these 9-card screwdown frames. And the frame is hangable, making it a nice wall display piece.


The backs are.. kinda interesting? I think using color-matching pens is a nice touch. 

I definitely want to make more displays along these lines "rainbowing" cheap iconic cards from before the parallel saturation of today. Got a few 9-deep stacks of certain cards set aside already, just gotta get around to devoting the energy to do it.

I'll hang the display at home for a while, but as it was created for the side-hustle, it ultimately seeks a Big Unit supercollector to give it a forever-home. As for pricing, I'm thinking I'll set this at $99 shipped w/case OBO for now, though honestly I probably won't consider lower offers for a while until I'm ready to rotate something new onto the wall. LOL

Not to throw a sales pitch at you, but if you've got a certain favorite junk-era, dimebox-type card that isn't worth much but you love it and would like 9 different colored artsy variations of it to display on your wall or in a binder page, and you didn't scoff too hard at the price mentioned in the previous paragraph, feel free to drop me an email to potentially discuss commissioning something.

My wife is thankfully pretty cool (desensitized?) about the fact that we've got baseball cards displayed in every room of the house except the main bathroom, so putting up a display like this in the living room doesn't faze her. But even if you had a partner or boss who might raise an eyebrow at cards being put on display outside the designated "man cave" type area, well, one could invoke "Warhol inspired pop art" to quiet them down in their quest to stifle your creative expression.

And yeah, it's true that this proto-parallel style of cardart that I often work in was inspired by Andy Warhol. In fact, Pete Rose was my first subject for a display along these lines:


These 4 cards have already been sold to a friendly Pete Rose collector I know named Tom. He helped inspire this type of project when he put together a display from the page of Warhol customs I printed out a while back:


I can't take much credit for this-- not my artwork; I just found Warhol Rose prints online and printed them out card-sized to make a fun binder page for myself-- but I love how Tom's display turned out. It's neat that a little idea of mine grew into this and got signed off on by Charlie Hustle himself.

But back to the cardart, the "purple super" I made for the Randy Johnson was actually the 2nd such card I've ever made using that color. The first one was a show of respect to the purple one himself:


Prince! I have so many duplicate MusiCards-- I've almost completed a 3rd master set-- that it was inevitable that I'd eventually start using those extras as cardart.


It was trying to build a return card package for noted headbanger GCA that I finally inspired some MusiCardart, with the above Ozzy being among the cards I made for him. (Don't worry, I asked first if it'd be the type of thing he would want). But yeah, he seemed pretty happy with the package and indicated a post on his blog about the cards was imminent.

Other non-sports cards I've been working into the side-hustle lately are my many duplicate Mystery Science Theater 3000 cards. I've found that the glossy cards work great modified as fridge magnets:


Been able to move a few such magnets at $5 a pop. Took me a while to figure out the eBay seller settings, but I think I've finally figured out how to make combined shipping show up easier. (I felt bad the couple times buyers paid 2 identical postage costs for buying 2 items.. one of those I did a partial refund for the extra amount, the other one I just threw in a cool Dale Murphy bonus card that was better than the two he bought. But that should all be worked out now and automatically discount combined shipping.)


Plenty of old stuff still on eBay but I make a sale now and then. Here's the link to my eBay listings.
If you'd like to read more of me rambling about my cardart, I put up a side page on the blog to recap and function as my cardart homepage.

Another avenue of cardart I'm really excited about making these days are interactive cards




I love finding new ways to engage with (play with) my cards and get more fun out of the hobby. (Not sure if Blogger will post the 3 videos above, but) So far I've made the Ozzie Smith spinner and some "bobblecards" that are a lot of fun to boop. 
Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, May 9, 2024

2005 Topps Pristine Legends refractors

Here's something that's been an upper-level collecting priority of mine for at least a couple years, yet I haven't really been documenting the progress much on the blog for whatever reason. (Laziness?) I'm going for a set of 2005 Topps Pristine Legends.. not a standard base set, but a frankenset that's mostly (base) refractors.


The first 100 cards in the set are in a design riffing on 1965 Topps, a favorite set of mine that was one of the first (the 2nd?) vintage sets I completed after returning to the hobby as an adult, and pair that with my love for refractors, you can see how I stumbled upon collecting the set. These pseudo '65s were also made available in an "uncirculated" state:


I don't have much preference between encased or not. On one hand the case makes the card feel a bit more special-- not to mention the added protection-- but they're bulky and take up more space. Plus those cases scratch up pretty easily if the owner(s) weren't good about keeping them in team bags.


All 140 cards are paralleled in gold refractors numbered out of 65. These are touted as being "die cut" but in reality it's just a deckle-edge, cut reminiscent of an old O-Pee-Chee card. lol. So yeah, I don't really chase these, but if the price is right, I may bite.


Cards 101-125 mix things up and use a design inspired by 1982 Topps. You don't see a lot of licensed collegiate cards released by Topps from this time, so there's some novelty there. Like with the rest of the checklist, some are encased and some aren't, and there are /65 gold parallels, however the base refractors are /199 (with the non-refractor base numbered /1999), so they're tougher than the first hundred cards. And the checklist gets more SP'ed as it continues.


Cards 126 through 135 go back to the preintegration days for some greats who played back when racism was a bit more in-your-face than it is today. If this design is paying homage to an old set, it's not ringing a bell with me, so let me know in the comments if I'm missing something (Closest I can guess is 1951 Topps maybe?). I was stoked to add the Buck O'Neil as he's a PC favorite and I had been after it for a while. They put FOUR different Josh Gibson cards in this little section of the checklist, so I've still got 3 to go. These refractors are numbered out of 99 and look great in the light with so much "blank refractor" space on them. The non-refractors are /999 and there are /65 gold refractors, though I don't have any.


The checklist wraps up with a 5-card subset in a '53 Topps-inspired design celebrating "The Little League Years" of Gary Carter, Bo Jackson, George Brett, Joe Carter, and Nolan Ryan. I don't have any of these yet, sadly. The base refractors are out of only 25 copies, so in this instance, the /65 gold refractors are actually more common than the base. I took a run at a gold Bo that popped up recently, but got outbid as it ended up in 3-digit territory. If I'm ever to finish this frankenset, I will probably have to give in and allow non-refractors for these last 5 cards (which base are numbered /499, so still not that common). It just feels weird to pay $100+ for a card picturing a Little Leaguer, even if the kid went on to stardom, you know?

Anyways, yeah.. fun set to work on. I'm currently at 55% complete, so this quest won't be wrapped up any time soon, but I'll keep chipping away with a card here and a card there.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

A little Bush and some Big Hurt

Happy for Reggie Bush getting his Heisman back. Got a small PC going for him because he’s a "local kid" for me; went to a rival high school in my district a few years after I graduated. Some highlights of what I've got:



In other news, the one "random card" in my COMC order (ie, not for a specific hobby project but just because I thought it was cool) was this die-cut Frank Thomas:


This was an example of "music on cards" I didn't have, and yeah I thought it was cool.


Frank Thomas CD collection is now up to a robust 2.25 discs. Actually that die-cut isn't quite a quarter of a CD. And they had to fudge the size:


Here lined up with a standard-sized CD.



In more Frank Thomas content, my rotating cardroom display is currently featuring my variety of his 1990 Topps card. Nothing here cost me over a buck! I don't have an original NNOF, but I do have the 2010 Topps "Cards Your Mom Threw Out" reprint in both standard and tough original back variation (...lucky cardshow finds).

But technically the rarest of the cards in this display is the "white border" card that no one else has:


Yeah ok, so it's just "cardart" I made by bleaching the borders for a year or two, and so therefore no "value" there, but I love it and consider it one of my top Big Hurt cards.


Here's another shot in late-afternoon sun where you can really check out the texture of the card. It's a little sloppy around the inner border, but man, it was a big sense of accomplishment when I finally got the last of the gnarly 90s border to finally disappear.  One could make a case that this is also a "partial NNOF" because of the "M" imperfection. LOL. 

Thanks for reading and follow your dreams.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

more moldy oldies

Geena Davis here is taken out of context from an old SNL skit I saw the other day, but I figured it'd make for a quirky intro to another post documenting my quest to build a run of Topps flagship from the 70s.


GCA kindly thought of me while at a recent card show and sent more help with the back end of 1972 Topps, still considered my top priority as far as trading goes. Now that's the kind of PWE I like to see. Much appreciated, my friend! I was already in his debt before this, but I've got a solid return shaping up to square things shortly.

-   -  - --o


Next up is a package from another long-time blogger bud, Bo from Baseball Cards Come to Life. He's one of the most solid traders I've had the pleasure to deal with, and it's so refreshing that condition means nothing to him. Sadly after so many swaps with him over the years, since I don't rip product or hit the card show anymore, I really have to scrape around my collection a while to find anything else to trade him. But luckily this time I was able to sort out some dupes for him from my old Kellogg's setbuilds, plus I had a few vintage Japanese cards in my Mike Reinbach PC that I ended up with dupes of, so that all added up to a respectable return for a healthy stack of vintage needs Bo was anxious to pull for me, with the understanding that my standards for condition have lowered considerably. Yeah, really at this point in my life, I'm just looking for the satisfying closure of completing some sets. I'm not concerned about their value and I don't plan to ever sell them, and honestly I'm at the age where I could drop dead of a heart attack or whatever any day, so time's a-waistin'! That Johnny Bench card seems like it spent at least one recess period in some kid's pocket, but yeah, if that's the Johnny Bench card in my '77 Topps set, so be it. My set was at 46% complete, but thanks to this fat stack from Bo (with some of the bigger names on top), I'm now up to 65%. Not bad. Thanks again, Bo!

-  - - --o

Just got in my latest COMC order yesterday in that I placed near the end of January, so I'm excited to finally get that stuff in. Really shows you how I rely mostly on trades for setbuilding because there were zero vintage setbuilders in the order. I probably should start shopping around more to get serious about finishing off more sets, but seems I'm always busy searching for other cards online. I'll try to post about more from that order soon, but here's a couple vintage PC needs I picked up..


A couple more mid-70s Mike Reinbach cards from Japan, both featuring a powerful swing. I still need a bunch his Calbee cards, but they seem to pop up a lot more often these days. Back when I first started collecting him, they were few and far between, but now there's always an assortment on COMC. I've been known to upgrade cards I already own if the price is right (and that's how I ended up with the dupes to send Bo). These were needs, not upgrades, though, and this pair is in really nice condition. Like, I thought these cards were originally distributed in bags of chips? Somebody took good care of them.

Anyways, that's it for today. Thanks for stopping by.