Monday, May 30, 2016

some repurposed sketchcards

I'm admittedly not a great artist, but in the interest of "practice makes perfect" I try to draw something every once in a while. Lately I've been getting into the habit of making a sketch card out of any card-like media I come across that would otherwise just be thrown away. I'm talking about stuff like fake credit cards that come in junk mail or expired bus passes. Give me a paper rectangle that fits in my hand and I will scribble on it and hope for the best.

These are 3 instances of where I just drew a random baseball player and after-the-fact decided who I was trying to draw based on who I thought it looked like. Not exactly spitting images of Bryce Harper, Nolan Ryan, and Bert Blyleven, but close enough for me.

These are the backs. Looks like I even signed and dated one of them.

Here's a Mickey Mantle 1/1 for my collection. LOL

The creative muse in my house doesn't just stop with me...

Here's a guest appearance by my wife! Sometimes a simple "HB" on the egg carton is enough to signify them as being hard boiled, but sometimes you need to get creative about it. I love her!

Thanks for visiting! Happy Memorial Day! Thanks to all the brave men and women who gave their lives fighting for the USA.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sentimental Sundays returns with an olympic autograph and the story of my year in private school

Haven't done one of these in a long time! This is a series where I'll feature 4 or 5 random things I've held onto since my childhood.

I usually try to kick off these posts with something baseball related or at least legitimately collectable to keep it on-topic for the blog. Let's see what I can dig up for today...

Oh cool! I thought I had lost this! Just found it now as I was looking through a box of stuff for items to feature in this post...

When I was in 8th grade, Pat McCormick came to my middle school and gave us a little motivational talk about following your dreams and whatnot. Not to be confused with the actor of the same name, this Pat McCormick was an olympic diver. Her Wikipedia entry is short and sweet, so I'll go ahead and quote it here:

Patricia Joan "Pat" McCormick (born May 12, 1930 in Seal Beach, California) is a retired female diver from the United States, who won a total number of four gold medals by winning both diving events at two consecutive Summer Olympics (1952 and 1956).
As a child in the 1930s and 40's she was notable for executing dives that were not allowed in competition for female divers (dives reputed to scare most men) and for practicing off the Los Alamitos Bridge in Long Beach, California Harbor.[1]Patricia McCormick also appeared on an episode of "To Tell The Truth" dated February 26, 1957.
After the Olympics McCormick did diving tours and was a model for Catalina swimsuits. She served on the Los Angeles 1984 Summer Olympics organizing committee and began a program called "Pat's Champs"—a foundation to help motivate kids to dream big and to set practical ways to succeed.[2]

That assembly at my middle school must've been part of the Pat's Champs program. After her talk, I was among the several students to ask for her autograph.

I'm so glad I held onto this! It's a nice addition to my autograph collection, and obviously extra special to me as one of the very few in-person autographs I got as a kid. Maybe one of these days I'll spice it up by making a custom overlay for it. It's bigger than standard card size, but small enough to fit in a Card Saver.

Next up, 'memba this..?

I forget what these stained glass things were called, but you bought a kit and it came with the empty metal outline and pouches of little plastic sprinkles of a few different colors which you would then follow the "paint by number" instructions to fill the metal outline with the tiny bits. Then you bake it in the oven for a hour or whatever and the little pieces melt into glass-like substance. I think I did a few of these as a kid, though this Darth Vader seems to be the only one I still have these ~30 years later. You can see a piece near his chin went missing somewhere along the line. On a related note, I wish I still had some of my old Shrinky Dinks, but I don't appear to.

Here's some cool school supplies. That yellow car is an eraser (that I'm sure did a crappy job of actually erasing, but hey, it looks cool). I seem to have colored in some details. As for the robot, it's a pencil sharpener in the head. You can rev it up and it'll roll a little ways with wheels on the bottom. When you do this, it also used to shoot out sparks from the center, though it doesn't seem to do that anymore unfortunately.

Oh man, this stuff has a story behind it. I'm not sure if it's all that interesting to anyone, but I'm going to type up what I can remember, for myself/posterity if nothing else. [Feel free to skip over this wall of text.] In 7th grade, I was really not happy at school. I didn't like my teachers and, well I don't remember all the details, but the school year got off to a rough start and I really wanted a change of scenery and fresh start. I was able to talk my mom into enrolling me in private school just a couple weeks into the school year. She found one that was reasonably priced and not too far away. We didn't realize until later that it was a Scientologist-run school! Allow me to stress emphatically that neither my mom nor I were ever into Scientology in the slightest.. never have been, never will be. I stuck it out for the school year but once the start of 8th grade rolled around, I was back at my regular public middle school. But yeah, that one year in private school was a weird one, believe me. I wouldn't say I regret it, as it was an interesting experience and in some roundabout way helped get my head back in the game with school. The best part about Ability Plus (get it, the school was called "A+") was no homework! Talk about every kid's dream, right? I think my class there never had more than a dozen students in it at any given time. There was a cool, friendly guy (Donnie-- helped me discover Jane's Addition), a cute girl (forget her name.. Stephanie, maybe? Dani? Had a bit of a crush on her for a while, but it was more out of necessity since she was the only girl around my age there), and a douchebag I carpooled with (Byron Cook-- the dick stole my Def Leppard Hysteria cassette after I leant it to him in an optimistic gesture of friendship that didn't really work). Oh, and a really funny mid-eastern guy named Tarak. There was also a freak (Jamie) who was afraid of water, and as you can imagine, he smelled terrible. Sad thing is he was probably my best friend there. I was also buddies with one of the little girls in the younger kids class. That sounds weird to say, but she was an awesome kid. I want to say her name was Melissa, but that's a shot in the dark. There was also a bearded, burly guy who was kinda cool, though I can't recall his name.. Dan or Ben, maybe? Maybe a few other classmates I'm forgetting, but I think it really was just the 7 or 8 of us in the older kids class. Our teacher's name was Abril, well-meaning but a little scatter-brained. I think she was from Brazil or someplace like that. I know Byron ended up back in regular school, as he was a year or two ahead of me at Granite Hills High School a couple years later, though I never saw any of those other guys again. They wrote me letters (as an assignment) like a month or two after I left, just saying stuff like, "Hope you're doing well in school now." I wonder if I still have those letters packed away somewhere? Probably not, but maybe. After hearing horror stories about Scientology, part of me is a little offended they didn't try to convert me or fight me when I left. LOL, was I not good enough for them?! As far as weird stuff I had to do in class, honestly, it wasn't too bad. A lot of it was just typical workbook stuff.. math, english, etc. The weirdest part was probably the weekly staring matches (I forget what they were really called) where you teamed up with another person and just had to silently maintain eye contact for like 10 minutes or something like that. Talk about awkward. Not sure what L. Ron thought that was accomplishing. The other things I remember are when you're reading and come to a word that trips you up, it's called --crap, what is it called?-- like an "unknown word" or something. Anyways, those are bad and if you come to one, you have to stop reading and look up the word and make sure you fully understand it before you resume what you were reading. Also, when you hurt yourself you should get back the energy from what hurt you.. or something like that. Basically it means if you accidentally hit your elbow against a wall, you should gently touch your elbow to the place on the wall where you got hit. Gotta admit, I still sometimes do this for the heck of it. I'm sure it's psychosomatic, but sometimes it actually does seem to help ease the pain. But that's really the only thing I took away from that year in that private school.

Oh, that and this sciencey stuff. Back to the item at hand. So when I first started going to that private school, it was located at an inactive high school. This was pretty cool as there was a lot of room to explore around at recess. I remember crawling around within the collapsed bleachers in the auditorium. There was like a secret passageway that led you to an abandoned science classroom. There were a few random things left behind, and I grabbed some green clay stuff and this cool specimen vial.

Can anybody tell me what these little guys are?

Anyways, yeah, just a weird little memento from my one year in a "cult" private school. After a couple months in the abandoned high school, A+ had to move and ended up in like an office park type of building. It was much smaller and wasn't nearly as fun. But yeah, as I say, I finished out the school year and then went back to regular school for 8th grade and on.

Thanks for taking this trip down memory lane with me!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Here's looking at you, kid (My Xander Bogaerts PC)

The lone piece of mail I got today was this shiny Xander Bogaerts parallel from 2016 Donruss. It was just $1 plus another $1 for shipping from eBay and I thought it looked pretty neat (and hey, no licensing issues with the photo!). It's the first 2016 card in my Xander Bogaerts player collection. I didn't have any other post lined up for today, so let's go ahead and look at the rest of the cards in this PC.

We're going backwards chronologically, so here are the 2015 cards of his I've got. Highlighted by a mini relic and a Bowman purple parallel #'d /250.

2014 Part 1.

2014 Part 2. Here's my only Xander auto, a lucky pull by me out of a hobby box of 2014 Donruss Series 2 that I won from Panini back then.
And oops.. turns out I've got a couple of those /599 Panini Fathers Day cards, I believe both card show pickups.

Finally, a couple 2012 Bowman cards round out the PC. The Chrome card was another pull by yours truly, and I suppose could be considered the card that kicked off this collection.

Xander is having himself a very nice year. His .345 batting average paces the AL as of press time, with a 20 game hitting streak going. He seems like a good kid and fun player to collect. If you've got any available cards I'm missing, feel free to get in touch about a trade. Thanks!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

a GREAT ONE for my collection

Wanted to get myself a nice "Congrats on the job" gift (I start my new gig 5/31-- excited about it!), and this fits the bill. While I've never pretended to be a big hockey guy, I grew up admiring the greats. And when you're talking about the GOAT, it's gotta be The Great One, Wayne Gretzky. And Mark Messier isn't far down on that list, either. So this is a "dream card" caliber pickup for me.

I was keeping an eye out for a Gretzky auto, preferably one that could fit in my Christmas Card collection, I mean, as long as I'm going to spring for a sweet, expensive card, might as well, right? This one popped up with a low opening bid, and well, I like Messier too, and I was feeling emboldened by my new job (AND THAT OTHER THING WE WON'T GET INTO BUT HELPED OUT CONSIDERABLY WITH THI$$$. Hey, the Fleer name is now owned by Upper Deck, right? And hockey is known for fighting, so it's a good fit tying it together as a memento)
so I went after it and came out on top. And hey, I was also supporting the local economy, seeing as the eBay consignment seller PWCC is out of the Portland suburb of Lake Oswego. Another nice thing about that is delivery is really quick. Not to be dark, but I need to leave a note for my wife to contact them about selling my collection in the event of my untimely demise.

This is a hell of a cornerstone card for my collection. It looks great, with two big, on-card signatures. Tough to really capture well in photos or scans thanks to all the foil. Foil cards like this can be tricky from a condition perspective as they're super vulnerable to dings, scratches, and chipping. This one looks good to me with the worst offenders to the eye being light scratches on the casing, which I think I could send in to get replaced for like $5 if I really wanted. The grade (8) isn't very good by modern card standards, but it doesn't really mean a thing to me other than helping keep the top bid from getting too high. I'll probably keep it encased to protect it and for authentication purposes, though. I wouldn't say it's an investment piece for me, though if I was ever in a financial pinch and needed to liquidate some of my collection, my hockey cards would likely be among the first to go, truth be told.

Let's check out my other good hockey cards while we're at it.

Hey Look!, it's those same two guys. An early Topps Gretzky and a Messier OPC rookie.

Nice looking Brett Hull hockey stick auto I picked up a few years back.

So there you have the 4 crown jewels that highlight my li'l hockey card collection. I really doubt I'll add any more big cards to it, but who knows. Gotta admit, I've put up the Hull on eBay a couple times over the past year, but didn't get any takers at my price that was admittedly reaching a bit.

Knock wood, things are going pretty good for me these days, getting the new job and all, so hopefully this card remains a highlight of my collection for a long time, commemorating an exciting time in my life.

Side note, I wish Wayne's Hawaiian skit from Saturday Night Live was on YouTube so I could link it here. Classic! (UPDATE: Thanks to Greg Z. for passing on this link to it!) It'd be biting off a bit too much for me, but an awesome autograph project would be to get autos of every pro athlete who's ever hosted SNL.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Pack Skirmish: 2015 Stadium Club vs. the Junkiest of Junk

It's time for another filler post, er, I mean Pack Skirmish! This time, my last coupe packs from the discounted 2015 Stadium Club blaster will be matching up against the junkiest of the junk wax that Topps has to offer.

The first challenger is 1988 Topps.
GUM CHECK: It's good! Let's give it a point for pure, pink gum. Cracked, but otherwise still in fine condition. I ate the whole thing, ain't gonna lie. No ill effects. Took me back to my carefree days as a kid.

Since Stadium Club only has 5 cards to a pack, they'll have to fight off multiple junk foes. Cueto here feels no pressure, and fends off Neil Allen, Lee Mazzilli (creased inside the pack), and a micro appearance of Jack Clark.
Tied at 1.

Oh, it's a mano-y-mano matchup of future Padres. Current third base coach Glenn Hoffman vs. current closer Fernando Rodney. Man, I can choose between this pair of Friars. Pass!

Josh Harrison is pretty good, squeaking past an Astros onslaught. SC 2, Topps 1.

Wil Myers gold parallel.. nice card of a guy I collect, but I already have this one (thanks again, SCC), so it'll probably end up with Marcus. Since it's a dupe, I'll reluctantly give the point to the trio of decent names. Well, Maddux might be a decent name due to Mike's brother, but close enough. 2-all tie.

It's a BATTLE ROYALE as we close out the last cards of each pack. Pads in the Hall Sparky Anderson and Ozzie Smith, not to mention cardsphere gold Tim Wallach.. but damn, that's a fine looking Puig card with the So Cal sunset in the background. I had been hoping to land that card for my collection for a while now.

It definitely came right down to the wire, but Stadium Club wins by the skin of its teeth. Exciting!

Bout 2: Stadium Club defends its title vs. 1989 Topps.

Nasty! GUM CHECK: It's no good! Gum dust! Not edible. '89 Topps loses a point right out of the gate. It's 0 to -1. I threw away that Mark Williamson card too. It's gonna be an uphill climb for the flagship.

All-Time Cardinal favorites Lou Brock and Tom Herr team up to knock down JJ Hardy and redeem the disappointing gum. We're back to no score.

Ah man, where was Roger McDowell during the previous Pack Skirmish post when a Seinfeld theme was unsuccessfully forced?! The Candy Man and Eric The Red (slight water stain on the left?) are also hard hitters, but that shot of Elvis stealing second is just too awesome. Stadium Club up 1-0.

Meh, Hrbek is always fun to pull I guess. Let's give the point to Topps. 1-1 tie.

Oh wow, a Luminous diecut of a dude I collect.. nice! That's good enough to beat a HOFer and a couple other solid players. SC 2, Topps 1.

And this is it! Topps wheels out Frank Tanana and a couple Rangers scrubs. No match for Mr. Andrew McCutchen!

Stadium Club handily wins this one. Topps could never recover from the gum debacle. Congrats, SC.

And for the highlights from the other packs in my Stadium Club blaster? Well, there weren't any, really. Just a couple dudes I passively collect, Darvish and Pujols. Overall it wasn't a very exciting box. The Alex Gordon insert was the best card, with the Puig and McCutchen also being keepers for me. But hey, the price was right, and lots of collectors are working on this set, so it's always good for trade fodder.

It would be impossible to find packs of MLB baseball cards that interest me less than 1988 and 1989 Topps, but hey, even so, I still love ripping packs, so this was fun. Plus I pulled a few "pack fresh" PC guys who might be upgrades for me. And it's always nice to run into a Wallach for the Wallach Guy. BTW, I was privately racing him to 1000 copies of any particular card. Sadly for me, he won recently by reaching 4-digits with Wallach's 1982 card, meanwhile I'm still at 350-ish cards of 1990 Upper Deck Marquis Grissom like a chump. I keep hoping for a huge lot to hit eBay and help me take a big stride, but no dice.

Thanks for tuning in. See you next time!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

♥♥♥ Jumbo Trade Roundup ♥♥♥

I've been preoccupied with other stuff lately and so some of the posts I've wanted to write got held up. But I've received many incredible cards in the mail via trades over the past couple weeks that've been patiently waiting for their moment in the sun, so let's take a look.

The first of many trades to cover today comes from Sport Card Collectors. He's a good dude, and I'm envious of him because not only does he win contests left and right, but he also often gets complementary boxes from card companies in exchange for reviewing them on his blog. Where do I sign up for this?! Haha.

Well, he recently bust a box of 2016 Bowman and a low numbered Michael Conforto parallel caught my eye and I inquired if it was available.

It took some hammering out, but it wasn't too hard for us to agree to a deal both parties were happy with. Check his post to see the goodies I sent his way. I gave some backstory to my Conforto collection last month after I scored a sweet Bowman refractor auto from madding. A hot young player on a big-market team, Conforto is a guy who might be out of my price range as far as buying much cards of his, though I'll try to build a nice little PC through trades and occasionally adding a card through pack rips or the discount bins at the card show.

And how's about that above photo, huh? Getting the front and back of the same exact card in an undoctored picture is kinda cool, if I say so myself! Give me a Bip Award for that!

Anyways, a sweet auto and now this low-numbered orange parallel, my small Conforto collection is off to a great start. Big thanks, SCC!
But he didn't stop there.. He surprised me with a few more nice cards..

A couple Goldschmidts I needed!

Some Padres needs.

An unopened pack of Elvis cards! Expect to see this in a fun Pack Skirmish one of these days.

Thanks again for the trade, SCC!

-   -  - - ---o

Next up is Nachos Grande. He has a neat "trade stack" thing on this blog where he adds cards until someone claims the stack in exchange for any one card on his wantlist. This was my first time grabbing a stack.

The 2011 parallel was a bonus thrown in, which is appreciated as I work toward that parallel frankenset. The cards from the stack here aren't really ones I had interest in, though I do have a passive Jim Edmonds PC, so there's a card I can use. But no, the draw that made me claim the stack...

Munnatawket custom minis! These things are cool.

Thanks for the trade, Chris!

-   -  - - ---o

Next up is a quick 2-card PWE from Ripken collector Bill B. who bought some customs from me a while back. He wanted an extra copy of one of them, and facilitated this by sending me a SASE, a little $, and a couple cards as a bonus..

Kinda random pair of cards that don't exactly fit into my collection, but I appreciate the gesture nonetheless! The John Lujack is #'d 99/100 on the back.

Thanks, Bill!

-   -  - - ---o

Next is a great PWE from TX Marcus. Fellow suffering Padres fan, he was the first blogger I ever traded with when I first poked my head onto the cardsphere. After his blog went quiet for a while as he bought a house, it's been nice to see him get some new posts up recently.

Chris Sale is locking up the 2016 AL Cy Young already, and we've still got several months to go. Nice addition to that PC.
Carlos Correa is having a good sophomore season.
Andrew McCutchen has been off to a bit of a slow start with the exception of his monster 3 HR game, but he typically starts slow and finishes strong, so he should hopefully rebound as the season goes on. I love this pair of sweet Heritage cards.

Big thanks, Marcus! I'll be shooting you out a return ASAP.

-   -  - - ---o

Next is possibly my first-ever transatlantic card trade. Kevin Papoy was among the traders I sent a holiday PWE to last December. He apologized for taking so long to return the favor, but it was definitely worth the wait!

That's my first 1976 Topps basketball card. Didn't realize they were so big! Always love checking out non-baseball vintage designs I'm not very familiar with. And gotta love Jordan before he became best known as the crying meme guy.

Heck of an Adam Jones relic #'d 14/99! It might not be visible in the photo, but the grey swatch appears to be a little dirty, which is awesome in a jersey relic.
Chris Sale makes his second appearance in this post, this time xfracting, as does Paul Goldschmidt #'d /99. Plus a cool Bobby Doerr parallel.

Check out this lot of Carlos Delgado cards! As a Blue Jays collector, Kevin must've had some dupes to spare for me. I'll always love Delgado ever since buying a minor league team set with him back in 1991, one of the few "prospecting" instances in my collecting career where the guy actually became a star eventually. Carlos was a beast and definitely deserved more HOF attention than he got.

A couple ultra-premium Paul Molitor cards keeps the Toronto love flowing.

Awesome cards.. thanks, Kevin!

-   -  - - ---o

Now we come to a hell of a vintage package from Stubby. He doesn't have his own card blog, but I know him best for the insightful, in-depth comments he often leaves on Night Owl posts. He read my recent 65 Topps update and graciously offered some cards to help me out.

He had warned me that most of them were in bad shape and I'd likely want to upgrade nearly all of them eventually. But I was pleasantly surprised by the condition when they showed up, with only a small number of cards, such as the dirty Bud Daley there, being below my preferred standards with this set.

More 65s! As I type this, I haven't updated my needs spreadsheet yet, but this is a definite big stride of progress with the set for me.

More needs and upgrades.

Some HOF action with Red Schoendienst and a Catfish Hunter rookie. (Shoutout to Blue Moon Odom as well.) A bit creased, but I'm not complaining at all!

Even an unmarked high-number checklist for my 1971 Topps set.

Great stuff.. thanks so much, Stubby! I'm putting together a return package for you and will get it mailed out soon.

-   -  - - ---o

We close with... MORE 1965 TOPPS!

These are from the esteemed Mr. Hoyle, who came across them at a recent card show and was kind enough to think of me.

Curt Flood is the last card Stubby needs for his set. Sorry, Stubby, this one's mine! :) Also here is Mr. Perfect Don Larsen in the final card from his playing days. And that's a nice upgraded Blair/Johnson RC for me.

Looks like Mark ripped a few packs of 1989 Fleer recently. Some PC additions for me here.

Big thanks, Mark! Let me know what you think about a Yaz custom to whip up for us and I'll get working on it to include with your return batch of cards.

So yep, definitely some good stuff making its way to Baseball Card Breakdown headquarters over these past couple weeks. Thanks again to everybody who sent me cards and thanks to you, the reader, for checking them out! Have a great week, everybody.