Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A decade gone

Today marks 10 years since I moved up to Portland. So it's been a full decade since I packed up my things and left behind my hometown of El Cajon in East County San Diego. Let's see.. in that time, I've had 3 different jobs, a couple awesome dogs, gotten married, and most importantly as far as this blog is concerned: returned to the hobby of card collecting.

One way I like to "remember my roots" is by collecting cards of pro athletes who went to my high school-- "Guys From Granite", as I call that part of my collection.

One sidequest I had since the beginning was to acquire an autograph of every Guy From Granite who made the major leagues (currently totalling 8 players), and I'm pleased to announce I've just recently met that goal, finally. To celebrate, let's run down the list chronologically.

#1 Mike Reinbach
MLB debut: 1974

The original Guy From Granite, Mike got a cup of coffee with the Orioles in '74, then had greater success playing in Japan. A few years after his playing days, he was tragically killed in a car wreck. Maybe someday I'll find an autographed card, but for now I've got to make due with a pair of signed index cards.
See also: The Harrowing Tale of Mike ReinbachSetting the Mike Reinbach story straight, and Mike Reinbach apocalypse.

#2 Chris Jones
MLB debut: 1985

Chris D. Jones briefly appeared with the Astros in '85 and the Giants in '86. He was the last guy I needed an autograph from. His common name makes it hard to search for his cards/autographs (there are a lot of people named Chris Jones in the world), but thanks to Padrographs Rod and an autograph dealer buddy of his, I was finally able to track down a signed minor league card. I've also got his mailing address now and I plan to try a TTM attempt with a custom or two soon.
See also: Chris Jones, but not that Chris Jones

#3 Brian Giles
MLB debut: 1995

Brian Giles had the longest, most successful baseball career of the guys to come out of Granite Hills High, and so it's no surprise he easily had the most cards produced of the players on this list. He was still active after the next 4 guys on this list had come and gone.
See also: Brian Giles was a narc at my school and My Brian Giles PC

#4 Tom Fordham
MLB debut: 1997

Tom is currently the only pitcher to ever make it to the bigs out of Granite Hills. He got into 36 games (6 of them starts) with the White Sox in '97 and '98. He got some cardboard love back in the day, mainly from Bowman and Best.
See also: Tom Fordham went to my high school

#5 Shane Spencer
MLB debut: 1998

Brian Giles may have had the longest career of the guys on this list, but Shane had the good fortune of being a part of the turn-of-the-millenium Yankees dynasty and picked up 3 rings in his relatively short career, highlighted by some clutch home runs in the fall of 1998.
See also: Yankee hero Shane Spencer went to my high school

#6 John Barnes
MLB debut: 2000

Now we're entering my time at Granite. John was a big man on campus when I was a freshman/sophomore while he was a junior/senior. He came up through the Red Sox organization before being traded to the Twins where he got a few dozen MLB at-bats in 2000-2001. Later attempted a comeback as a pitcher, though didn't make it past AAA.
See also: I went to school with John Barnes and he played in the majors

#7 Marcus Giles
MLB debut: 2001

As I've mentioned several times in the past on this blog, I was in the same grade as Marcus, going to school with him from elementary school all the way up through community college. Sure was a thrill to watch him rise through the minors and become an NL All-Star in 2003.
See also: My classmate the All-Star

#8 Travis Taijeron
MLB debut: 2017

After an extended dry spell, it was great to see another Guy From Granite finally crack the majors near the end of the 2017 season. It looks like Travis recently signed a minor league deal with the Mets, returning to his original organization after a year on the Dodgers' Triple A squad. Wishing him the best of luck in the upcoming 2019 season.
See also: Better Call Up Taijeron! and Superfractor auto pickup!

That wraps it up. Here's to another 10 great years up here in the Pacific Northwest, though I'll always keep my hometown in my heart and in my collection.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Joy of a purchased complete set: 1976 SSPC

A small number of cards of the 1976 SSPC set have entered my collection over the years. I always thought they were kinda neat vintage oddballs, but only recently did I decide to go after the set, inspired by the love it gets from fellow bloggers such as Night Owl. (Full disclosure, I haven't read N.O.'s Beckett Vintage article.) I ended up buying a complete set on eBay a week or two ago. It's the first time I've bought a complete vintage set rather than build it, but since this set was never released in packs (only via mail order as a complete set or team sets), it seemed to be the way to go.

A large percentage of the photos in this set are from Shea Stadium. Apparently, the photographer didn't have any stadium credentials, but he was a former Mets bat boy who was friendly with the security guards, so they let him sneak in and I guess he was able to talk his way into having many players pose for him. The Yankees also played at Shea in 1975, as Yankee Stadium was being renovated, so the photographer was able to shoot players from both leagues there.

The set was not licensed by either MLB or the players union.

There are a handful of candid shots, like Johnny Bench in the batting cage.

But the majority are posed.

You might be thinking these cards would look great signed. But many of the featured players were upset they were never compensated for their inclusion in the set, and so they will often refuse to sign these cards.

The vast majority of the cards are vertical, but there's this nutty horizontal one (plus some combo card checklists near the end).

This Bill Buckner features one of the very few in-game photos.

Among the favorites are an early George Brett card and the only sunset card Harmon Killebrew got, as Topps never acknowledged his short-term-stop swan song in KC.

This set reminds me of another favorite of mine, 1957 Topps, with its "non design" letting the photo take over the full card. They nicknamed it the "Pure Card" set.

Though really, the lineage can be traced back to 1953 Bowman. Maybe someday down the line I'll go after '53 Bowman and attempt to complete the trifecta.

SSPC stands for Sports Stars Publishing Co.

It's an offshoot of TCMA.

Topps sued them over this set, and then it was back to doing minor league sets and occasional all-time great sets.

Lots of 70s hair.

Bullpen cart?!

Infamous 7 consecutive Orioles cards featuring mops.

There's some confusion over the date of this set because the cards are copyrighted 1975 on the back, though they actually came out in early 1976, and were always officially referred to as a 1976 set by the company. The back of the Fred Lynn card, for instance, mentions he won the AL ROY and MVP for the 1975 season.

This Tim Blackwell rookie was among the most exciting new cards for me to add to my collection. He didn't get his first Topps card until the 1978 set.

The backs don't have stat boxes, but feature solid write-ups, notably by Keith Olbermann, a teenager at the time. I remember that tidbit kinda blew my mind the first time I learned it.

This set kinda breaks your heart that Topps had such a monopoly back then. At least this set came out, but damn it, there should have been many more along these lines in the years post-Bowman and pre-Donruss/Fleer.

As far as condition, the photos have some printing-flaw specks here and there. The backs sometimes brown a bit. It's rare that a card has perfect centering. The set I bought was just fine for my purposes. A few less-than-mint corners, but only two commons compelled me to snag replacements on COMC due to creases.

Almost wish the set didn't come together until a few months later so that we may have gotten Reggie as an Oriole.

Eckersley is the only "HOF RC" in the set, a fact that-- coupled with it being unauthorized-- generally keeps the cost of the set among the cheapest major baseball card sets from the 70s.

Funky fresh!

These checklists are great!

Interesting note here: The negatives for the set were stolen and led to a bootlegged "illegal reprint" set popping up a few years later. You can tell the difference because the original pressing has "Nolan" on card 593, whereas the bootlegged set has "Noland" instead, an error that was caught and corrected on the original printing plates, but snuck by in the stolen negatives. So neither print run of the set was authorized, but the latter was even less authorized! I thought about tracking down the error variation, but after learning the backstory of it not being an original part of the set, I probably won't bother unless I find it cheap. Hell, I could just print a custom of it if I wanted.. I'd just be making a bootleg of a bootleg, what's the difference. LOL.

So there are a few highlights. Fun set!
Thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

You Ain't the First

"You Ain't the First" is next on the Guns N' Randoms list. Here are some of my random pickups over the past few weeks.

This ain't the first Graig Nettles auto in my collection, but it's the shiniest. Another card towards my Archives Reserve Master Set. The former SDSU standout set career highs in 1977 with 37 dingers and 107 ribbies as he helped his Yanks get new boat. (sorry, been watching a lot of Letterkenny on Hulu lately. "Boat" means "championship".)

This ain't the first nice Pedro Avila card in my collection.. in fact, my last post featured an autograph version of this 2018 Bowman card Rod was kind enough to give me. But you know how I love cards numbered 12/25. Picked up this Christmas Card cheap a while back.

With combined shipping (flat $1) on the above Xmas Pedro, also snagged this Heliot Ramos 2018 Bowman Tek purple parallel, a promising CF prospect for the Giants.

And along with the aforementioned Pedro and Heliot was this Chris Sale. I hadn't realized there were colored-bordered parales of these neat Tarot of the Diamond cards from 2018 Gypsy Queen (but of course there were), a bright spot of an otherwise forgettable product. While I'm definitely not into all that fortune telling crap (can't believe folks still put any faith in this stuff, but as my facebook feed attests, some do), these arty cards with rounded corners are pretty cool, especially with the "indigo" border making it pop.

I've seen these Topps Pristine "Personal Endorsements" cards on eBay before and always thought they looked kinda lame in the scans, but then I stumbled upon this Darrell Evans stickergraph cheap, a PC guy of mine, and snatched it up. It actually looks really cool in-hand, with the "engraved" effect really dancing in the light. Wouldn't be against picking up more of these.

Finally, this ain't the first Gavin LaValley 1/1 in my collection.. in fact, I'm sure I've got more LaValley 1/1's in my collection than any other player by a wide margin, but I'm still happy to add this cyan printing plate.

I already had the Superfractor and the black printing plate in my quest for a master rainbow.

As of this writing, LaValley is batting 2-2 in spring training 2019. If he keeps up this pace for a full career, he'll be a slam dunk HOFer with a 1.000 batting average! My PC will skyrocket and I'll become rich slowly selling off my collection. Go, Gavin, Go!

Happy Friday, Y'all!