Saturday, November 30, 2013

Get Your Glow On! (New, Improved Glowing Cards!)

I've been working on improving my GAV (Glowing Altered Variation) cards.

Getting better at it!

They  glow-in-the-dark  and look kinda cool in the light, too!

Here's a song about glowing, in case you want to hear a song while you read this post. With the title "Babe Rainbow" you'd think it might be about collecting all the Ruth parallels in a certain set, but I don't think that's what it's about.

I still want to further improve at making them, but I'm happy with how these cards have been getting better as I've been making more of them and learning which techniques get the best results.

They look even better in person.

I've even devised a way to make valuable cards into glowing cards without actually touching them!

(hint: special case)

Last time I talked about my glowing cards, Play at the Plate suggested cards such as these might do well on eBay.

Well, since I've sunk more than I care to admit on this little arts & crafts project of mine, I thought I'd test his theory and see if I could recoup a few bucks.

I've currently got auctions running for all these cards pictured, except the Mantle and Dick Allen auto.

The Cubs lot (Dawson and Sandberg) is up on Listia.

Over on eBay, I've got a Phillies lot, Mets lot, and Yankees lot.

Help a blogger out and throw down a bid on any of these if you can.

Snatch them up for yourself, or perhaps surprise a trade buddy with unique "1/1" cards as a little Christmas gift.

And if you don't want to shell out, but still would like a unique Glowing Altered Variation or two of your own, I'm down for trades! Petethan had a great suggestion that people could send me a card or two they'd like me to turn into a glowing card for them, and include cards for me for my trouble and expenses.

So if you've got a double or two of your favorite player/team that you'd like me to make glow in the dark for you, just let me know. As always, my wantlist is here.. (you don't need to blow me away or anything.. just something to make it worth my while).


oh, and CONTEST TIME! Be the first to identify this below card in the comments and you win the card plus get a pick from the prize pool. (my standard contest rules apply.) Hint: The set that it's from is featured in this post already.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Trepidation of Deciding to Complete a Set: 1973 Topps

The title of this post is a nod to Cardboard Junkie's "Joy of a Completed Set" posts. That's a special type of joy I've never experienced. I've spent a lot of time and energy collecting baseball cards in my lifetime, but I've never ever completed a set. I've bought complete sets, but never hand-compiled one. I can't even think of any small oddball sets, team sets, or insert sets that I may have completed.. nothing larger than a half-dozen cards, anyways. It's kinda sad, actually. I probably got close to 90% with a set or two back in my younger days, but gave up and purged my collection before sealing the deal.

Now with the internet and my renewed interest in cards, I thought it might be a fun goal to pick a set and see if I could do it. Plus, with my new blogging activities, it'll give me fodder for posts, plus you readers out there can hopefully lend a hand by hooking me up with some singles you might have available.

Trying to narrow down a set to focus my sights on, I knew it would have to be a vintage set. I'm just not excited enough with today's players and today's products to go after completing a current/recent set, even though that would be the easier route (assuming I didn't mess with SPs and parallels, etc).

First I narrowed it down to the decade of the 70s. I wanted something vintage, but not super expensive. Maybe someday I'll set my sights on a 50s or 60s set ('65 and '57 Topps perhaps), but not anytime soon.

Then I narrowed it down to 1971 Topps and 1973 Topps, ultimately going with '73. I like '71 a lot, but..
- The black borders make it a very "condition sensitive" set which could be frustrating.
- No full stats on the back. (I love me some full stats.)
- I don't really like facsimile autographs.
- No cartoons on the back.
- Topps has really run the design into the ground these past couple years (see 2012 Archives and the 2013 Update mini inserts). Hate to say it, but I'm kinda tired of it at this point.

Seems 1973 Topps is a pretty divisive set. Some people think it's one of Topps' weakest showings. I think it's great, though. It features many in-game action photos-- often wonderfully strange looking ones, at that. Nice vertical backs with full stats, and often a cartoon and/or brief write-up. And the fronts feature a simple, classic design that still seems fresh to me.

Plus, when I was a kid, the first "really old card" I remember adding to my collection was a '73 Pete Rose. This was probably late 1990. I traded my Super Mario Bros. 3 NES cartridge for it. A lot of other kids in school thought I was crazy to make that trade. But I had worn out SMB3 by playing it so much the previous several months, and knew it'd be good trade bait for building my burgeoning card collection, so decided I could part with it. And you know what?, that Pete Rose was a jewel of my collection for a long time. As a kid whose collection was mostly '90 Donruss and '90 Topps at that point, I was awed by the card! So neat and ancient! Even if it didn't hold its value (used to be around $20, down to maybe $5 these days).. and I'm not exactly a big Charlie Hustle fan anymore.. plus the unflattering photo makes it a classic "butt card".. I've still got it after all these years and still like it a lot. And thanks to the wonders of technology, I can play SMB3 on my computer anytime I want for free.. so take that, my middle school classmates who thought I got suckered in the deal.

But the point of that little story is that 1973 Topps has a sentimental place in my heart, and that gave it an edge in my decision to try to complete it.

I've already got many of the key cards in the set, such as Aaron, Clemente, Yaz, Bench, Gossage RC, and Mays (though Willie could use an upgrade). The most daunting card for me to obtain is the Schmidt/Cey RC.. but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

I won't be super picky with condition, though of course I'd like 'em to be minty fresh if possible. Creased or dinged-cornered cards will be reluctantly added until an upgrade can be acquired. As for centering: if there's white border all the way around the front-- no matter how skinny one side may be-- it's good enough centered for me. Same goes for the back black border. Does the black go completely around the card? Then the back is centered well enough for me.

I've been working on a spreadsheet to track my progress. It's now been added to the blog as it's own page in the sidebar. Link below. If you've got some extra '73 Topps commons you could part with for the cause, please drop me an email and hopefully we could work out a trade.

As I officially take on this goal today, Thanksgiving 2013, I'm only at around 10% complete, so I've definitely got a ways to go. But with your help, perhaps someday in the not-too-distant future, I may be fortunate enough to finally know the joy of a completed set.

Take a look! 1973 Topps needs
Thanks and enjoy your holiday.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Out of the Park: Delino Deshields 1997 Pinnacle

Ladies and gentlemen, what you are about to witness is among the greatest achievements in the world of professional baseball card blogging.

I follow a couple bloggers who collect cards that feature action photos of double plays being turned. Every time I see one of these cards there is a desire inside of me. A desire that has called out to me so loudly, time and time again, too loudly for me to block out any longer.






Finally, I have given in to the desire and created such an image.


Have you let it sunk in? Go on, watch for a couple more cycles.

I worked on putting this together for a couple hours, but I was giggling the whole time, so it hardly feels like work.

If this amused you, please leave a comment and it'll motivate me to make more of these and turn Out of the Park into a reoccurring featuring here at Baseball Card Breakdown.

Also, feel free to suggest other cards that would make good subjects for future editions of Out of the Park.

Thank you.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Haul from Big 44 Sports Cards

Nate from Big 44 Sports Cards posted about getting some bonus unopened packs of early 90s football cards he didn't have interest in, and were up for grabs free if anybody wanted them. Needless to say, I jumped on it!

I haven't ripped any football card packs since these sets were on the shelves. Nice trip back in time for me.
Let's take a look at some interesting pulls..

Here are some names I know. I mainly know Billy Ray Smith because he became a local sportscaster.. but I suppose he had a good playing career too.

Here are some more guys. Before this, I never knew a man was ever named "Bubby" in the history of the world, much less a man who went on to play in the NFL. Am I dreaming? Was "Bubby Brister" a real, living person, or is this all in my mind? If he really existed, how have I never heard his name? He even played quarterback, a prominent position. I guess that was before I was paying any real attention to football. And he must not've been very good.

The '90 Topps Football pack included a broken piece of gum. I know in the past I've confessed to eating ancient Topps gum, but I draw the line if it looks like this:

Gross. Brown-tinged edges? No thanks. (Bummer. I was kinda looking forward to crunching down on some old gum!)

Nate didn't just stop with sending me over the few unopened packs, though. He obviously took a peek at my wantlist and delivered some excellent surprises!

Charger draft pick.. nice. And some sweet PC additions.. an updated Peavy.. an Alomar relic.. and what is now easily the jewel of my Greatest Gavins mini-collection: a serial numbered Floyd relic. Amazing!

More bonus football cards.. Reggie Bush (I collect local boys done good.. he's from my hometown area of East County San Diego.. representing the Grossmont High School District.. Went to my rival Helix High a few years after I graduated) and some notable Chargers. Very nice!

Thanks again for the sweet cards, Nate! Anything you might need from me, just let me know. I'll be on the lookout for any Pirate hits I could send your way to return the favor one of these days.

So yeah, check out his blog Big 44 Sports Cards and don't hesitate to swing a deal with him.. he'll treat ya right, I'm sure.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Awesome bonus from an apologetic eBay seller

I bought a certified Lou Brock autograph the other day. I believe it's my first card from 2005 Topps Retired Signature Edition, my least-favorite of the three Topps Retired sets. I'm just not a big fan of that year's design.

Still, though, some of those cards in that set are pretty cool.. and sometimes interesting player / team selections, too.. Brock as a Cub? Ozzie as a Padre? Nice! So yeah, while my first love is 2004 Retired, and my second love is 2003 Retired, I'll occasionally check out the 2005 Retired selection available.

I love Lou Brock.. I was just talking about him on the blog a few days ago. I think a '79 Topps Lou Brock was the first card I ever got as a kid that was "a vintage card of a Hall of Famer" and so he's always had a sentimental place in my heart. Cherished that card! And so I was excited to add a reasonably-priced certified auto of his to my collection. And I love that it pictures him as a Cub even though he really had all of his accomplishments in St. Louis.. but we're all a little sick of the Cardinals these days, aren't we?

Anyways, a week went by that I bought it, with no card received or update from the eBay seller. Then he got in touch saying he was sorry but he forgot to send the card out with the previous week's mailing and he'd get it sent out soon. I was a little peeved, but not much, and I'm generally a pretty forgiving guy and wasn't really in any huge rush to get the card. I wrote back saying it was cool, but if he could throw in a little bonus card or something, that'd be sweet.

I hate when a seller just says "sorry." Say you're sorry by throwing in a bonus! That's how you do it. Rare occasions that I'm slow to get a package out, I'll usually throw in a little extra to make up for the wait. Gifts are a great way to get forgiveness. Or just throw in a bonus for the heck of it.. Always a great way to win someone over.

So anyways, I was hoping/expecting a little something.. perhaps a card of some guy who hasn't been selling lately.. maybe an unopened pack of junk.. something like that.

But no, the guy came through with a very pleasant surprise..

A Gary Carter rookie! I've wanted this card for a long time! Very happy to have it thrown in for me as a surprise bonus "sorry the card you bought took an extra week to arrive" gift! It's a bit miscut, but excellent condition otherwise. I'll take it!


btw... Hey Fuji, JediJeff, and Bo.. you guys won my contest last post. Reply with which glowing card you want and which card from the prize pool you want.. first come, first serve between you 3.. then email me your address. You've got until the end of the weekend to claim your winnings! Thanks!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Introducing Glow-in-the-dark altered variation cards!

Like most collectors, I've got lots of junk cards I don't need, many of which nobody's ever gonna want. The age-old question is what to do with them.. Let them keep taking up space? Trash them? Give them away and hope somebody would actually want to keep them?

Perhaps somewhat inspired by the often-hilarious Baseball Card Vandals, which takes a black Sharpe to cards to make them funny, I asked myself how I could "hack" virtually worthless cards to make them better? Short of getting them autographed or professionally graded, there's not much you can do to make cards more desirable.

Then I had a "eureka!" moment. I love glow-in-the-dark cards.. Why not get crafty and turn these 2-cent cards into makeshift  glowing cards?! YES!

I even have a "marketing plan" in place! I'm going to christen these as "GAV" cards: "Glowing Altered Variation" (Gav is also a shortened version of my name, get it? So cheesy!!) For each of these GAV cards that I make, on the back I'll sign it, hand-number "1/1", and mark as "GAV", then I'll keep a log to make sure I only make one Glowing Altered Variation of that particular card to keep the serial numbering true (this is important! Sure, other people could create their own altered glow-in-the-dark cards, but I'll keep my GAV cards nice n' legit! Only one ever for each card!).

Corny gimmick to try to give some desirability to junk wax? YES! Will it work? Probably won't do much, but whatever, it's fun! Some purists might frown on "defacing" cards like this, but hey, better than throwing them away! I obviously wouldn't make a Glowing Altered Variation card of anything valuable. But if a card is worth less than a stamp, it's fair game.

I plan to whip up a bunch of these.. some for myself, of course.. but I'll also happily spread some around via trades and contests here at Baseball Card Breakdown. Assuming anybody wants them.

Sure, everybody has multiple copies of Fred Lynn's '88 Donruss card... but only ONE person could own Fred Lynn's '88 Donruss GAV card.. it glows in the dark and is hand serial numbered 1/1!! OMG!!!!!!!!!!! SSP!!!

I encourage all you guys out there to think up creative ways to create unique "1/1" junk cards yourselves. Imagine actually getting excited about trading '90 Score or '92 Fleer with somebody! What a wonderful world this would be! "I'll trade my Player-A 1/1 custom altered card for your Player-B 1/1 custom altered card!" Together we could achieve the dream of working up a little interest in common flagship base cards from the overproduction era that we all otherwise never give a second thought to these days.

Anyways.. this initial batch of GAV cards isn't perfect, but I'll experiment with different techniques, and hopefully I'll improve at making these over time. (I would like to get them less blotchy and less "green" in the light.. I realize the players look kinda like they've been slimed.) When I do any that I'm especially happy with, you can bet I'll show them off on the blog.

I'm hanging on to the McGriff above, but these other 3 cards pictured are up for grabs. Again, these are "real" pictures of "real" cards (not photoshopped or whatever).

Contest! Want one of these cards? Just leave a comment below, and if you're among the first 3 people to ask for one, I'll send you one of these cards free and also let you make 1 selection from the prize pool! (first come, first served; my standard contest rules apply.)

Some random old cards for Wednesday: '79 Stadium Club

A few more cards I picked up in a lot the other day.

Johnny Bench! As far as top tier HOFers from the 70s go, he's got lots of affordable cards. One day I'll see about completing his standard cards.

Check out that miscut Molitor! Now imagine that you're a kid in early 1979 ripping your first waxpack of just-released 1979 Topps and that card is on the top. You'd be like, "Wow! Topps has started experimenting with full-bleed photography! Only half the card has a border! COOOOOOL!!!" But you'd soon realize that it's just a wonkily cut card, and you have to wait over a decade till Stadium Club comes out to finally free cards from the shackles of borders. (I suppose some oddballs beat them to it, such as Mothers Cookies.) This might be a rare case of a miscut card actually being an improvement. If all '79 Topps cards looked like that, it'd probably get a lot more love from collectors for being so fresh and innovative for the time.

I love crafty old pitchers who stuck around forever.. Phil Niekro, Jim Kaat, Gaylord Perry, etc.

Luis Tiant was a fun character. Nice to score another card of him.

Tony Perez and Gary Carter.. HOFers representing the great white north.

I actually just picked up that funky star-cap Stargell in my recent Just Commons order, so consider this one trade bait or possibly prize pool material.

Steve Carlton has a lot of great cards and a lot of crappy cards. This 81 Topps might be the worst.. Boring headshot.. Lefty's face hidden in the shadow of his cap, and his unfortunate white-guy fro bursting out on the sides.

Eddie Murray is a badass. Excited to add an early card of his to my collection.

Ok, that's it for today. Back tomorrow to continue this week of random cards from the late 70s and early 80s.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Some random old cards for Tuesday: Brock vs. Lonnie

Here are a few more highlights from the big vintage-y lot I got a few days ago.

Love Lou Brock. Even if advanced metrics in recent years suggest he may be overrated (according to Hall of Stats, he falls well short of Hall-worthy.. wha?!), he was an exciting player and has some great cards (..though this Record Breaker might not be one of them.. a photo of Brock swiping that record-breaking base would've been infinitely better). And as a former high school sprinter, I have an affinity for speedsters.

J.R. Richard and Ron Cey are a couple guys that I didn't give time of day to when I was a younger collector, but since getting into reading baseball card blogs in recent years, my eyes have been opened to their greatness.

Keith Hernandez is a cool character I don't really have any older cards of. Till now, I guess!

Growing up watching plenty of Braves games on TBS in the early 90s, it's neat to finally have a Lonnie Smith rookie card. Hopping back to Hall of Stats, Lonnie Smith has an identical "Hall Score" to Lou Brock. Really?!? I like that site, but don't always agree with how the numbers shake out. No offense to Lonnie Smith, who was a fine ballplayer, but compared to Lou Brock? No contest!

As a casual Doors fan, it's cool to me that Jim Morrison shares Lonnie's rookie card. And please don't point out that this isn't the Lizard King himself.. just let me keep on pretending that Jim Morrison faked his death because he was sick of being a rockstar, and became a professional baseball player instead.

Remember when Barry Bonds eclipsed his father Bobby Bonds? Who would have guessed that Barry would later sink so far that Bobby would posthumously eclipse Barry back again.. at least in the hearts of baseball fans, not the recordbooks. Bobby has some great cards. This 81 Topps card catches him just waking up from a good dream, by the looks of it. "Ah man, you guys wouldn't believe it! I was riding a polkadotted unicorn through a syrup waterfall!"

George Foster, a recent Happy Card honoree, is always a welcome addition to my collection.

Goose looks funny here without his trademark mustache. Pretty sure I needed this for my PC.. he fits into my top tier collecting goal of "former Padres who are in the Hall".

Speaking of which, Garvey is hoping the Veteran's Committee adds him to that list one of these years, too. (Interesting read: Why Isn't Steve Garvey In The Hall Of Fame?)
Don't take this the wrong way, but Steve Garvey's 81 Donruss card here might be the "sexiest" baseball card until Score started putting out subsets of guys with their shirts off. Garvey's womanizing charm is hard to deny, even on baseball cards such as this one. You can just picture him seductively holding a glass of red wine out of frame. "Well, hello ladies."

Ok, that's it for today. Check back tomorrow and we'll take a look at 8 or 9 more cards.

BTW, notice I replenished the prize pool and gave it its own page in the sidebar. I'll get another contest going soon with another chance to win ya some cards.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Some random old cards for Monday: Templeton n' friends

This week I'm taking the familiar "hey, check out these cards I got recently" route for blogging. As I mentioned the other day, these are from a big lot I got on Listia of 350+ cards from 1970-1982. Here's another flatbed-full of favorites:

30-Year Old Cardboard was dissing that 81 Donruss Fisk a couple weeks ago, but I think it's a nice, simple card. The photo has a vintage, washed-out feel to it, and it's one of Pudge's few happy cards.

That '82 Fleer Palmer on the other hand.. wow, that's a blurry photo!

I love Bill Madlock.. glad to see him pop up 2 or 3 times in this lot with additions to my ever-growing Mad Dog PC.

I used to collect Garry Templeton back when I was young and foolish.. perhaps because his name reminded me of the rat in Charlotte's Web, which was a book I liked as a kid (though yeah, it's sad for a children's book), plus he was the captain of my hometown Padres back when I first got into baseball. While I'm not much into him anymore, I still appreciate old cards of him from back when he was putting up impressive numbers with the Cardinals.. before he followed that with a decade of mediocrity in San Diego. sigh.

In my Greatest Gavins of All Time post a few weeks ago, I expressed gratitude that there hadn't been any Garvins to ever play baseball. Sadly, I stand corrected. Jerry Garvin here seems to know he's committed a grave offense. There was also a guy named Garvin Alston who pitched in 6 games for the Rockies in '96. Not sure why the name Garvin bothers me so. I wonder if guys named Kevin can't stand the name Kelvin?

That's a pretty strong HOF bottom row, though not the best condition. I'm pretty sure I've already got that Yaz, so it's probably available as trade bait. The Tom Seaver has some paper loss at the bottom, but otherwise a fine card. Jim Rice's warm smile must've inspired a former owner of the card to give it many hugs, as the corners/edges are definitely well-loved.

That's it for today. Back with 8 or 9 more cards to admire tomorrow.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Some random old cards for Sunday: trade baiting

I had some Listia credits burning a hole in my digital pocket, so obviously I'm going to spend that on cards. I splurged a few days ago and spent a big chunk of that on a lot of 350+ vintage-ish cards (1970-1982) for the rough equivalent of $15-25, though it's hard to really nail down a Listia credits-to-dollars ratio.

Some great stuff in there. I picked out a good portion of guys I like/collect to keep, some highlights of which I'll show off below. But there are probably about 250 cards that are essentially available for trades, etc. If any of you guys are trying to complete a Topps set or team set from 1970-1981 and still have some commons to check off your list, feel free to get in touch with a needs-list and I'll take a look and maybe we can work out a little trade (my wantlist). Elsewise, I'll likely throw some of them into my prize pool for future contests, and/or offer some PWE lots on Listia to make back some credits.

trade bait!
Most of the cards are from 78, 79, 80 and 81 Topps, and lots of 81 Fleer too. And then a small handful of cards each from 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, and 77.

The only year I think I'll take off the table is 1973, as I'm still coyly considering the idea of deciding to try to complete that set someday. But that's a topic for a future post, I suppose.

Anyways, I think everyday this week I'll post a flatbed scanner-full of baseball cards from this lot I won. Seems like "low hanging fruit" for getting some posts out. (Work has been super busy lately, with somebody leaving and me picking up the slack, so I've had much less downtime for drafting up posts during the day.) These below cards are mostly ones I want to keep, though, not the trade bait unless noted.

First up..

Some Schmidts, Roses, and Nolans. Some of these I think I already have, but will need to check/organize. Pretty sure I have the 2 "1981 Highlight" cards and the '80 Schmidy.. so I suppose those 3 are probably trade bait if anybody wants 'em.

I love the Ryan Express, but Phil Niekro on that LL card takes it from a very good card to a great card. The '82 Donruss Ryan was the only card in the lot to come in a top loader, so I'll take that as a tip that it might be the most valuable card in the lot.

Mike Schmidt is notorious for being a great player who got screwed with crappy cards. Not sure why Topps apparently hated him and always seemed to use boring photos for his cards. Even his "In Action" card isn't really action, but rather anticipation of action.

That's it for today. I'll be back with 8 or 9 more cards tomorrow.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Reluctantly announcing the contest winner

The results are in. Big thanks to everyone who entered! I'm gonna shoot for a contest per week for the rest of 2013 (nothing huge, but just spread around a few PWE-sized prize packages), so if you didn't win this time, keep your chin up and your eye on this blog for more chances in the near future.

Ok, here we go. There were 30 entrants this time (24 + 6 holdovers grandfathered in from my 1st contest). Randomizing twice since this is my 2nd contest.

What?! night owl?! Man, that guy is on a winning streak lately. If I hadn't randomized it myself, I'd suspect the fix was in. Looking at it cynically, of course I would want him to win because he has an awesome, popular blog and if he won, he might mention my blog in a post there, which would surely give me "the night owl bump". So Greg, please let me know which 2 selections you'd like from the prize pool, and if you do mention your victory here on your blog, please keep the source anonymous because I don't want anyone to think there were any shenanigans going on.

Hey, let's pick a surprise second winner, too! I'll randomize the list again..

Oh, for &^%# sake!!! Play at the Plate? Everything I just said about night owl could also be applied to this guy! He wins a lot of contests and he has a great, popular blog. I can already hear the whispered rumors that I fix my contests so that the guy with the popular blog wins.. a cheap ploy to get exposure. I give you guys my word that there was no shady activity involved!
Ha, life's funny sometimes. I also love how night owl was 2nd place in the 2nd drawing. He just doesn't let up, that guy.
So after night owl makes his 2 picks, Play at the Plate (Brian, is it? Sorry I don't know your real name) please make 2 picks from what's left. Then you guys shoot me your addresses and I'll get your cards sent out shortly. Congrats, you two!

Well, everybody else, at least the big guns there are now ineligible for the next rounds of contests. Next time hopefully the winner isn't someone from the Mount Rushmore of the baseball card blogosphere so I can get some credibility back. LOL. While I'd be skeptical if I weren't the one sitting here doing it, again, this was a fair contest, I assure you. Maybe I'm overreacting? There are many great card bloggers out there, after all. But if someone were to randomly ask me to name a couple great baseball card blogs, Night Owl Cards and Play at the Plate would probably be the first 2 to pop in my head.. so it's funny they won.

More contests and a replenished prize pool coming very soon!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Happy Card! George Foster "Slugger" 1981 Fleer

Happy Card!® is an old feature here that went dormant after its debut back in July, but let's try to shake it out of its slumber every once in a while. The subject of that first post was Carl Yastrzemski's 1966 Topps card.. a card I'm so smitten with that I've essentially co-opted it as my mascot here, even though Baseball Card Breakdown definitely couldn't be described as a Red Sox blog or anything. But you can see Yaz's award-winning smile in the "email me" picture here, as well as the blog's favicon (the little logo that shows up to the left of the site title in your browser). That card-- as is the hallmark of any true Happy Card!™- just never fails to cheer me up when I look at it.

Our next honoree is a card that gets its share of attention on card blogs, but mainly due to the charming oddity that it might be the only card ever to list "slugger" as the player's position. Yeah, that's pretty cool, no doubt, but what really appeals to me about this card is the ecstatic open-mouth mega-grin that just radiates with warm fuzzies.

Looks like George is on the dugout steps watching something amusing transpire out on the field.

I was just waxing about 1981 Fleer a few days ago in my One Last Card post of Willie McCovey. I hadn't really planned to highlight the set twice in such a short time, but screw it. A couple quirks I pointed out about the set were multiple cards of certain stars, and the general low quality photography of early 80s Fleer. This picture isn't so bad for its day, though it still has somewhat of an amateur look to it. George here was among the players bestowed with 2 base cards in the set. One identifies his position as "outfield" and the other (our happiness-themed card) amusingly as "slugger".
Here's his other card in the set:

This card is reasonably happy too, but not quite at Happy Card! levels. Reggie Jackson got a similar 2-card treatment.. One card lists his position as "outfield" and the other as "Mr. Baseball" (one would assume they meant "Mr. October"). There are other secondary cards that list a stat or something (e.g., George Brett has a "390 Average" card, and Rickey Henderson has a "Most Stolen Bases AL" card), but sometimes they're just weird like "Slugger" or "Mr. Baseball". Fleer sometimes screwed up the numbering, mixing up the 2 cards of a player. So for instance, there's a variation of the "Slugger" card having #216 on the back, though it's usually #202 (Vice versa with his "Outfield" card).

Backing up from cards for a moment, let's give an overview of the player. Recapping George Foster's career, there are 2 big bullet points to hit. First, he was the only player for a long time (between 1966 through 1989) to hit over 50 home runs in a season, cranking out 52 in 1977. Nowadays, any high school kid with a Bowflex and a tub of back alley protein powder can smack 50 MLB homers, but back then it was a big deal! Second, he was a key part of the Big Red Machine teams of Cincinnati's back-to-back championships of 1975 and 1976. He finished with solid career numbers, but fell short of the hall.

Foster also had a Fleer sticker insert that year. I picked up all 3 of these '81 Fleer Fosters from Just Commons for a combined 52 cents (the majority of that being "Slugger" #202 at 30 cents.. I was a little bummed it has some surface issues, but at least the centering is decent by '81 Fleer standards). They all have similar backs, though the sticker doesn't have the yellow, and the name seems to be a slightly different font.

Oh, and you might notice that the picture from his sticker is pretty similar to that of his "outfield" card, likely taken moments apart.

It looks like George was trying to concentrate on getting his photo taken, but something disturbing behind the photographer was distracting him. A streaker on the field, perhaps?

Similar to Yaz, Foster was known to collectors for the no-nonsense facial expressions on most of his cards, which makes a Happy Card all the more special. (If a guy is always smiling on his cards, it's not that big a deal when one of them seems a bit happier than the others.) But while Yaz usually just looked stoic on his cards, Foster often looked downright mean!
Just take a look at some of his cards:

Even as a rookie. I wouldn't want to mess with that guy! Yikes!

I fear for my safety just looking at these cards!

But once in a while he'd let his guard down and show that he's really just a big softy at heart.

Even looks like he's grinning as he swings on his '83 Card.

To wrap it up, let's admire his joyous 1981 Fleer card one more time...

Now, that's a Happy Card!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Refraction Action: Derrek Lee water card!

When Brad's Blog randomly posted a picture of one of these "water cards" a couple weeks back, I was so smitten I had to jump on eBay and cheat on my card-buying shutdown.

This might be the most bizarre Refraction Action yet...

Yes, you're seeing that right.

This is a baseball card manufactured with sparkly  water  in the finished product. You know I love me some gimmicky 90s baseball cards (see my post on glow-in-the-dark cards), but these cards are so wonderfully over the top I can barely stand it! A baseball card you can take with you into the bath! Love it. Hang out with it poolside or perhaps bring it to the beach. It'll be fine! Rain? Flooding? Spill your drink on it? No problem! It's a water card!

To get technical, this is a 1998 Flair Showcase Wave of the Future insert, a standard-sized clear rubbery 12-card insert set. I wonder how long till the water in there eventually evaporates. These cards are 15 years old, and seem to have held up pretty well. I'd guesstimate another 15-20 years till they dry up, but we'll see. (The internet is telling me that's actually vegetable oil in there, not water, so it should stay moist for a long, long time. But "oil card" just doesn't sound as fun, so let's still pretend it's water.)

It'd be funny to send in one of these for grading. PSA would need to add a "liquidity" score or something.

It'd also be neat to get one of these autographed in person so you could see the "WTF" look on the guy's face.

Derrek Lee up there fits into my collection as notable former Padre. Derrek got traded away as a prospect after only a handful of games as a Friar (part of the deal to get Kevin Brown from the Marlins), but went on to a very fine career. He was a big part of Florida's World Championship team of 2003. His best year was 2005 with the Cubs when he won the batting title (.335), plus hit 46 HR with 107 RBI, and led the league in hits (199) and doubles (50). While his numbers were still decent in 2011, for whatever reason, nobody offered him a contract for 2012 and he found himself forced out of the game at age 36. Bummer; With a few more solid years, he may have compiled Hall-worthy stats. He finished with 331 homers and a .281 lifetime average, a solid ballplayer reminiscent of another popular Cub first baseman, Fred McGriff.

Here's the back:

Finally your pet goldfish can start collecting baseball cards! Here's the watery checklist, thanks to

1 Travis Lee
2 Todd Helton
3 Ben Grieve
4 Juan Encarnacion
5 Brad Fullmer
6 Ruben Rivera
7 Paul Konerko
8 Derrek Lee
9 Mike Lowell
10 Magglio Ordonez
11 Rich Butler
12 Eli Marrero

Hey, if you'd like to add one of these damp cards to your collection for free, you're in luck because there's currently one (Rich Butler, a former Rays prospect who wiped out after 86 games in the bigs) in the prize pool of my current contest (ending 11/14/13), so go enter if you haven't already!