Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Collection Origins: 12/25 Christmas Cards

I've got some quirky avenues of my collection, and one of those is my "Christmas Card collection", which despite the name, isn't Santa cards and stuff like that, but rather any card serial-numbered 12/25 (or 12/24). I've been at it for a while now, with over 200 different such cards. This minicollection debuted on the blog 6 years ago, and I figured a look back at the inaugural class was in order.

I started this blog back in spring of 2013. Later that December, I thought I'd celebrate my then newfound love of cards serial-numbered 12/25 with a series of 12 consecutive posts featuring a different card taking center stage (--the old "12 Days of Christmas" shtick). It turned out to be a lot of work and loaded a bunch of stress onto an already stressful time of year. Plus, the posts didn't even get much traffic so it ended up feeling like a dumb undertaking on my part. LOL. No regrets, but let's say it was a learning experience. (Specifically: a post-per-day blog series is a bad idea, especially in mid December.)

This year, Topps began including variations into their Walmart-exclusive holiday cards that feature silly holiday imagery photoshopped into the pictures of ballplayers on the field. Well, not to toot my own horn, but I was doing that back in 2013 for my 12 Days of Christmas Cards series of posts.

In the spirit of these fun variations, let's revisit the altered holiday cards I made back in 2013. I'm not claiming I gave the folks at Topps the idea... but maybe-just-maybe I helped plant the seed for creating fun holiday-themed versions of their cards.

12 Days of Christmas Cards: 1st day (Jody The World)

This post got zero comments. Well, I suppose just adding a simple "snow effect gif" to a card isn't all that interesting. Still though.. ouch. (The serial numbering is on the back, but trust me, this Jody Gerut auto is #'d 12/25.)

12 Days of Christmas Cards: 2nd day (Santonio Claus)
Now we're getting a little more involved. Santa Holmes is looking pretty festive here guiding his sleigh. This post only got one comment, by good ol' "petethan", a favorite blogger of mine back then who ended up stepping away to focus on some real-life drama and now only shows up once in a blue moon commenting on a Night Owl post. I always figured he'd return to blogging once things settled down, but nope. Hope he's doing ok these days.

12 Days of Christmas Cards: 3rd day (The Nutcracker)
Jim Piersall as Santa with a big bag of toys over his shoulder is pretty great, if I say so myself! This was the very first 12/25 card I ever added to my collection (purchased via eBay on July 30, 2013), so it's got some added significance for me.

12 Days of Christmas Cards: 4th day (Happy Xmas, literally)
As I said back in 2013, "When I can't think of anything cool to do with a card, I either add a snow effect or slap a santa hat on the guy. Went with the latter this time." I was happy to get a Padre onto the list, especially a guy I sorta PC such as Xavier Nady.

12 Days of Christmas Cards: 5th day (Moments & Mistletoe)
I thought this one was pretty neat, but looks like I was in the minority as this post got few views and no comments. Hell, Hanley was even still a relevant player at the time! *shrug* The box is filled with toys I was into as a kid in the 80s: Transformers, Star Wars, and GI Joe.

12 Days of Christmas Cards: 6th day (Wilkins Wonderland)
Look, he's holding mistletoe over his head trying to get a smooch! And there's a big candy cane over the card for bonus festiveness. Another dud of a post with zero comments. Man, not to whine too much, but it's hard to believe I even kept up with the whole blogging thing after pouring my heart into this series that was so universally ignored. lol. This post even had a cool gif of Santa dunking the card into my stocking.

12 Days of Christmas Cards: 7th day (Orlandoly Night)
While Topps might phone it in by lazily changing bats into candy canes (yawn), I think outside the box and change bats into cartons of eggnog, haha. And the reindeer antlers are the icing on the cake. Another post that few read and no one commented on. Maybe if I was on Twitter back then I could have gotten a little traction in the card-collecting community with this stuff, but alas, I didn't start doing the Twitter thing until the following April.

12 Days of Christmas Cards: 8th day (Girlie card! Pretty lady!!)
On the 8th day, a little sex appeal was added to the mix. Not much photoshop work on this one (I didn't have much time as I was about to DJ at a wedding reception that evening and was still working out my playlists), but there's mistletoe over Spencer Scott's head and she's holding a candy cane. I've since gotten a Benchwarmers card or two (or several) that are actually Christmas themed, no doctored photo needed. But yeah, speaking of "Collection Origins", this card essentially kicked off my "girlie card" minicollection, something I didn't really realize until looking over these old posts.

12 Days of Christmas Cards: 9th day (An Art Monk Christmas)
I went a little overboard on photoshopping this "card" in that all that's left from the card is the Art Monk head pasted into the album cover of one of my all-time favorite holiday records (--well, cassettes). I thought the Monk/Chipmunk gag was kinda clever, though it too was met with crickets where the views and comments would typically be.

12 Days of Christmas Cards: 10th day (Vida Blue Christmas)
As us bloggers know, non-baseball posts like Art Monk the day before, typically see a drop in traffic. But surely fan-favorite ballplayer Vida Blue would bring in the readers hand over fist, right? Nope, the 10th Day of this blog series got nothing either. I'm sorry to harp on it so much in this post, but I just think it's funny in a sad way how I spent so much time on these posts only to have them flop so hard. I'm grateful that I've been able to build a decent readership over the years since, and it's pretty rare these days that I don't get at least a comment or two on a new post. I very much appreciate everyone's comments, with Fuji being the clear Commenting MVP of the cardsphere.

12 Days of Christmas Cards: 11th Day (Webster Christmas Episode)
Nearly to the end now, with the 11th of 12 posts. Alex Karras (that's his face on the Santa body) was a solid football player and went on to make a name for himself as an actor with parts such as Mongo in Blazing Saddles and the dad on Webster.

12 Days of Christmas Cards: 12th Day (The Festive Finale, with a Peppermint Twist!)
Ok, this might be the coziest picture with a baseball card you will ever see. Just looking at it, I can taste the eggnog and smell the yuletide blend of douglas fir and cinnamon as the fireplace snaps in the background.

This post had a surprise bonus card-- in addition to the Ralph Kiner auto, there was also...

Rickey (Christmas Day birthday boy) tossing out gifts to the good little girls and boys. Gotta love it.

And with that, the 12 Days of Christmas Cards blog series came to a close. You're probably pretty busy right now, but hey if you've got some time to kill, feel free to check out those old posts (and even though they're several years old, don't be shy to comment on them! Better late than never. LOL)

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
Two thousand thirteen Topps Five Star Rickey Henderson and two thousand four Topps Retired Ralph Kiner
Two thousand nine Upper Deck Alex Karras
Two thousand four Donruss Vida Blue
Two thousand thirteen Panini Playbook Art Monk

Two thousand thirteen Spencer Scott Benchwarmer
Two thousand four Topps Retired Orlando Cepeda
Two thousand twelve thirteen Upper Deck Dominique Wilkins
Two thousand eight Topps Hanley Ramirez
Two thousand one Donruss Xavier Nady
Two thousand four Topps Retired Jim Piersall
Two thousand eleven Santonio Holmes Prime Signatures
And a Jody Gerut two thousand four Leaf

And a bonus post...
My Christmas Card minicollection made its debut on the blog Dec. 12, 2013 in a 12 Days of Christmas Cards "Prologue" to fill readers in on what was in store. (A tip of the cap to Daniel Wilson for being the lone commenter on that post.)

In that unveiling of the minicollection, I showed off 5 cards #'d 12/25 that weren't quite interesting enough to make the cut for the main list of 12. Let's see how this initial batch of Christmas Cards has fared. (These are just as-is; no holiday photoshopping.)

Dwight Smith, Jr 2011 Playoff Prime Cuts #'d 12/25
Back in 2013, I was doubtful Dwight Smith Jr would ever make the majors, but he made his debut in 2017 with a cup of coffee in Toronto, and this past season saw action in 100+ games with Baltimore. Good for him!

Austin Aune 2012 Leaf Metal Blue Prismatic Parallel #'d 12/25

Austin Aune wasn't so lucky. The former Yankee prospect flamed out in 2017 without ever making it out of A-ball.

Jake Smolinski 2009 Tri Star Projections #'d 12/25
Jake Smolinski was another guy I didn't see having much future in back in 2013-- When I first started collecting 12/25 cards, I'd basically just grab anything I could find at a reasonable price.. Nowadays I'm more selective about what I go after.. There are simply too many 12/25 cards in this parallel-happy hobby these days-- but a tip of the cap to Jake; he's managed to see MLB action every year from 2014 through 2019, with the A's most recently.

Jordan Todman 2011 Panini Prime #'d 12/25
Jordan Todman seems to have been out of the NFL since 2017 without ever making much of a name for himself. At the time, this being a Chargers card was a plus for me. Now? Eh, not so much. (They're dead to me since leaving San Diego.) Nice bit of patch here, at least.

Brandon Lloyd 2011 Panini Prime Signatures #'d 12/25
Back when I originally showed this card in 2013, I said it looked like Brandon Lloyd's career was done after not playing in 2013. But it must have been a Christmas miracle, as he came back in 2014 for a swan song season with the 49ers.

And that wraps up this look back at the inaugural batch of my Christmas Card minicollection. These 18 cards kicked off the collection nicely in 2013, and they have a place in my heart even though if I were to work up a list of my "Top 12 (or 25) xmas cards" today (possible future post idea?) only the Rickey Henderson would be a lock.

Oh, and as for "Collection Origins" in the post title (possible recurring blog series?).. I think when I returned to the hobby as an adult after stepping away in 1993, the concept of widespread serial numbering on cards was foreign to me and I wasn't sure how to process it. But seeing "12/25" always made me smile, calling to mind Christmas, holiday memories, and how special that date was to me as a kid.. waiting all year for the 25th of December to finally arrive. So I decided to start collecting cards with that "date" stamped on them. I guess it helped me get onboard with the serial-numbering craze and feel more connected to modern cards in general.

Didn't take long for me to expand into 12/24 cards as well, as that's an even more significant date for me (though parallels numbered to 24 are much less common). Not only is that my birthday, but in my household we'd typically open most of our Christmas presents that evening after a big family dinner, just saving one or two big ones (i.e. whatever Santa brought me, plus stocking stuffers) for Christmas morning. And no, I never resented my birthday being so close to Christmas. I love it, in fact! School's out.. extended family's often around.. everyone's in a festive mood.. And as someone who often gets uncomfortable being the center of attention, it's nice that the holiday helps take the focus off me. I may have been screwed out of a gift here or there due to the dreaded "combined" Bday+Xmas gift, but my mom and rest of the family are/were super cool and I was a somewhat spoiled kid, so it's not like I was ever really hurting for toys or anything.

So that's the story behind me collecting cards numbered 12/25. Thanks for reading and Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Black Gold Rush (big trade recap)

I passed on going to the monthly card show today for a few reasons-- weather was crappy, I already had family lunch plans, it's December and the show is in a mall, and plus I've added a ton of new cards in the past couple weeks thanks to generous trade partners, so that's not a bad card show stand-in. In the interest of time, I'm just going to briefly run through these incoming card packages, though each of them could fill a post to themselves without much trouble.

First up is the latest bunch of cards from Bo.

Great lot of '75 Topps! This setbuild is coming along nicely. Hopefully knock it out in 2020.

Early 90s black gold! (There will be a lot of cards like this in this post, hence the title.)

When I put UD hologram Padres stickers on my wantlist a few years ago, I figured I'd be swimming in them before long. But nope, this is the first one I've ever received in trade, as far as I recall! I've got a Yeti ready for this to be affixed to.

PC needs!

Thanks again for the trade, Bo!

-    -  -- -o

Next up is another package from friend of the blog, Larry P.

Some big name black gold!

More for my "early 90s black gold" collecting project, plus a welcome need for my neglected '84 Donruss setbuild.

Thanks a lot, Larry! Much appreciated!

- - - ---o

And a quick trade with TCDB user jrberus...

..hooking me up with a few more Team 2000 black gold needs. When I eventually complete this insert set I'll have to do a post taking a look at which of these guys actually made it to the year 2000 as an active player. Same with the Team 2001 cards from the next year.

-  - ----o

Mr. Haverkamp dropped a PWE on me with some black gold cards, too.

Dig the "Winner D" pack still in its original packaging. Pretty cool.
Thanks, Jim! I'll send you back something soon.

- - - ----o

Next is my first trade with Bob, who just recently joined the cardsphere with his new blog The Best Bubble.

The black gold lovefest continues with an impressive batch of '92 Leaf golds.

More for the black gold project, including what I'm assuming is the highest "booking" '93 Topps Black Gold card.

Thanks to this and some of the other of the trade packages covered in this post, I've now completed the Leaf Gold Rookies inserts for both 1991 and 1992! I was in awe of those cards as a kid on the rare occasion I was lucky enough to pull one (and still get a big kick out of them as an adult), so that's a pretty cool accomplishment. I should do a post or two spotlighting them in the future. Still looking for some upgrades as well as dupes for PCs. My black gold wants spreadsheet can be found here.

- - - -----o

Lastly for today is a package from first-time trade partner Kyle in NJ. He got in touch with a nice email saying he likes my blog and had some cards to send my way. Always love to hear that!

Good stuff here! My 1992 Leaf Black Gold set is now at 27.27% complete. Still a ways to go, but a pretty good start after only embarking on the quest a few weeks ago.

Some more black gold variety.

Some PC additions too.

Christmas Card! Tyler Glasnow pitched very well for the Rays in 2019, though injuries limited his time on the mound.

Big finish with some impressive 1970 Topps needs and upgrades. Lou Brock in front of the batting cage is awesome.

And let's go out with a BOOM in the form of this beautiful Bob Gibson, a semi-high-number at #530.

Thanks a lot, Kyle! Great stuff. I hope to get a respectable return out to you this coming week.

Thanks again to everybody who's sent me cards, and thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Guys From Granite 2019 recap

Similar to my annual "Gavins in pro ball" post, here's another exercise for me to keep track of the lesser-known active players I collect. Time to find out how professional athletes who went to my high school did in 2019.

Trenton Brooks
Trenton had a solid 2019 in the Indians organization. After a couple months at A+ Lynchburg, he was promoted to AA Akron where he hit .274 with 9 homers and 22 doubles in 241 at-bats. The 24-year old mainly plays right field these days. I got a nice TTM return from him a couple years back.

Andrew Brown
Drafted by the Phillies in the 13th round of the 2016 draft out of Granite Hills High School, Andrew performed well to start his career, but had a rough 2019, putting up an ERA of 6.17 for A+ Clearwater. He had 20 starts, plus came on in relief 4 times. I tried requesting an autograph through-the-mail with the custom on the right a couple times in the past with no luck, but maybe I'll try one more time in 2020.

Jayson Rose
Sadly, looks like Jayson's brief career in pro ball has come to an end. An 8th round pick by the Brewers in 2017, Jayson struggled to stay healthy in 2018, was cut loose by Milwaukee in April of 2019, and didn't get picked up by another team. Bummer. All the best to Jayson in the next chapter of his life.

Travis Taijeron
Travis is the only active Guy From Granite who's made the majors, getting into 26 games with the Mets in 2017. After spending 2018 with the Dodgers' AAA club, he returned to New York in 2019, spending the season at AAA Syracuse. His 24 dingers were one behind the team lead (Rene Rivera), and his 64 walks led the club. But his average was down (.229) and he struck out a lot (165). He's currently a free agent and will be 31 next season, so I'm not sure what 2020 has in store for him, but I wish him luck sticking around.

Jordan Verdon
Jordan was drafted by Detroit in the 23rd round out of San Diego State University in 2018. He spent all of 2019 at A- Connecticut, playing 1B and DHing. He hit .246 with 12 doubles in 142 at-bats. I sent out a TTM autograph request with the above custom near the end of their season (my only TTM attempt to an active player in 2019), but haven't gotten a response yet. I should remember to try again early next season. I also just now bought his first real card. but I think I'll publish this post now rather than wait until it arrives.

This year broke a run from 2016-2018 of GHHS Eagles turning pro, as no alumni were drafted in the 2019 MLB June draft. But there are some talented kids coming up, so I wouldn't be surprised to see a new streak start up in 2020.

That's it for baseball. Elsewhere in sports...

Jimmie Johnson
The 2019 season started on a positive note for Jimmie, as he won the 2019 Advance Auto Parts Clash in February, though that would be the highlight of the year for him. He would go on to score 4 top 10 finishes, but wound up finishing a career-worst 18th place in the final standings. The 44-year old recently announced that the 2020 Cup season will be his last as a full-time driver. A seven-time champion in the NASCAR Cup Series, he's had a hell of a career.

Joe Cardona
Joe plays long snapper for the Patriots (and is a U.S. Naval Reserve lieutenant in the offseason). Back in February, he brought home his 2nd Super Bowl ring as New England beat the Rams. He's played in all 12 games so far this season, with the Patriots looking to make yet another deep playoff run.

So there you have it, Granite Hills alumni doing our hometown of El Cajon proud.

Monday, December 2, 2019

1978 Topps Rookies online exclusive

Topps recently got me to bite on another one of their online offerings. As the year winds down, Topps makes a final push to sell yet more "RC" emblazoned cards of the season's top performing rookies.

Throwback Thursday Set #45 - 1978 Topps Rookies

I don't buy much current product these days, so I'm susceptible to the "fear of missing out" on hyped young players. For the price of a blaster, this 6-card (24-player) set takes care of that FOMO and at least lets me feel like, on some very small level, I'm a stakeholder in these guys' careers. LOL.

The print run was 1296 sets. Not exactly "low numbered", but limited compared to standard base cards, at least.

I suppose Pete Alonso was the breakout rookie of 2019, so good to have him included. I think I only owned 1 or 2 of his cards before this, though I'm sure everyone will be flooded by his cards soon enough. The other 3 guys on the card have had some good buzz, too.

I know some collectors dislike multiplayer rookie cards, but I've got a soft spot for them. I remember as a kid being thrilled that one card could cram in so much pure potential. Sure, you'd typically see just one of the guys (or none of them) go on to have a decent career, but it was cool when occasionally two or three guys on one card became stars. The original 1978 Topps 4-player rookie cards had some winners among them, with the most notable being the one with Paul Molitor and Alan Trammell...

I don't have my copy handy, so here's an original via COMC for comparison. For the new version, the fonts are a little off. The most obvious difference is how the '78 cards grouped players by position, whereas the 2019 version randomly scatters 4 guys per card without concern for position, team, or league.

Of course it would have made sense to label these "Rookie Stars", but I guess Topps is weird about using the word rookie sometimes.. perhaps due to legal/licensing issues. Whatever the reason, it's dumb. But "Young Stars" it is.

Nice to add a new Tatis Jr card. And cool that my hometown Padres got 3 players into the set (tied with Toronto for most), though Luis Urias was just delt away the other day in a move that I and many other Friar fans don't feel great about.

And of course you got Vlad Jr. included, too. He didn't have the monster year he was supposed to, but we'll see how his sophomore season shakes out.

Here's the last card. Off the top of my head, notably absent from the set are Yordan Alvarez and Aristides Aquino, both of whom Topps is trying their best to ignore until 2020 so they can have a full year of cranking out "RC" cards for them rather than sticking them in Update and losing all those precious months printing cards to sell. Both those guys exceeded rookie limits during 2019 season, so they won't technically be rookies next year (Yordan Alvarez won the frickin' AL ROY already!), but for marketing reasons, their rookie cards will be in 2020 products. Dumb.

As with all of Topps' print-to-order sets, the backs suck. At least they made a half-assed attempt to mimic the original back design. And they're on standard Heritage-style cardstock, so no complaint there. Just these 6 cards per order; No parallels or chance at pulling a hit, but that keeps the price down, so it's fine.

That wraps it up. For the price of a blaster, I figure this was a good way to add rookie cards of notable young players to my collection since I don't much current product.
Thanks for stopping by.