Saturday, August 31, 2019

ignorable filler post: 1991 Cardboard Dreams #2 Nolan Ryan

Yeah, yeah, I hate art cards (as opposed to real 1/1 pieces of art which I love, but once you mass produce it, the gloves are off). This is fine. You got young Nolan on the Mets in the portrait, and a current (at the time) Nolan on the Rangers in the action shot.

OMG! ADORBS!! Look at lil nolan on that lil pony! So cute!

I don't think these are real quotes. He wouldn't really say, "No-hitters are easy for me." would he?

"His real name is Lynn Nolan Ryan"

You don't see Lynn as a man's name much (and really, it's not a super popular womens name either). Notable MLB first-name Lynns include Lynn McGlothen (1972-1982) and Lynn Jones (1979-1986).

Mookie Betts' middle name is Lynn. He was born just a bit after this '91 card came out (1992). Other ballplayers whose middle name is Lynn include Bob Welch, Todd Helton, Kyle Farnsworth, Jarred Cosart, Adam Duvall, and Danny Jackson. Who knew?!

And funny enough, Gary Nolan (of the Big Red Machine) had the middle name Lynn! Gary Lynn Nolan is just a one, rearranged letter off from Lynn Nolan Ryan. 6753 career strikeouts between the pair with only a G/N difference in their full names. Wow.

I'd wager that the best known "Lynn" ballplayer is Fred Lynn. MVP/ROY in 1975, and had a few other excellent years too. As far as standout Nolans, well 2nd place after Ryan would likely go to Nolan Arenado. Other good "Ryan" players include Howard, Braun, and Klesko. (Honorable mention to Ryne Sandberg.)

"All-time leader in strikeouts and walks"

Nolan Ryan is still 1st all-time in strikeouts (5714). Second is Randy Johnson (4875). As far as active players at the time of this writing,  CC Sabathia is 17th with 3080, followed by Justin Verlander at 18th with 2949.. neither of which has much chance of catching the Express at this stage of their career.

Nolan is also still #1 in all-time walks allowed with no one threatening his mark of 2,795. It's probably one of those unbreakable records, honestly. The next closest guy is Steve Carlton in a distant second place with 1,833. The highest of active guys is CC again with "only" 1,094. With how bullpens are used these days, it's safe to say Nolan will still be standing as the all-time strikeouts and walks leader when the sun explodes and ends all life on earth. Unless in like 2099 cyborg pitchers overtake the record books, in which case, all bets are off. Those robotic freaks could throw 400 innings a year and never tire.

"Nolan pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings in the 1969 World Series with the N.Y. Mets"

Funny that one game in relief in '69 by young Nolan would stand as his only World Series experience. But hey, it was good enough for a championship ring, something that plenty of Hall of Fame players never got.. (Williams, Banks, Killebrew, McCovey, Gwynn, etc).. though I'm sure he would have rather gotten some more.

My Best Cards

I've got a couple Nolan Ryan autographs, not to brag ..a pair of Topps Retired refractors.

And my oldest card of his is 1971 Topps..

Not in great shape, but "Royal Crown" here is a treasured part of my rough '71 Topps set. Also have him in my '73 Topps set. Need him for my '70 and '72 setbuilds.

Hat's off to you, Nolan Ryan!! One of the greats.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Rickey auto

I'm in one of those anxious periods where I've got a lot of stuff I want to blog about, but am waiting to get my ducks in a row first (..things still in the mail, watched auctions winding down, customs to make, etc.) So here's another one-card post in the meantime.

Panini breathed some new life into the ragged 1989 Donruss design this year with these MVP Signatures. I had to grab myself a Rickey Henderson. I think it looks pretty good. Nice on-card autograph, and a photo where the lack of logos isn't too painful. This is a Cracked Ice Prizm parallel, I believe-- similar to the Atomic refractors Topps puts out-- which gives it some extra razzle-dazzle.

And the photo matches up with the theme: Rickey was AL MVP in 1990 while playing for Oakland and wearing number 24. So give Panini credit for the attention to detail, though it might've been a coincidence.

It's numbered 04/24. And I've got a story here. See, originally I had targeted the copy of this card numbered 12/24, thinking it'd be an awesome addition for my Christmas Eve Cards collection. Sadly, somebody wanted that one more than me, and I ended up being the runner-up in the auction. So close! With my tail between my legs, I walked away figuring it wasn't meant to be.

But then a couple weeks later, I stumbled upon this card, likely an eBay "recommendation" that I usually ignore. I ended up winning it for about $25 less than the Xmas Eve card sold for. So while I would have loved to score the 12/24, it's not a bad consolation to land 4/24 at a relative discount.

My Rickey player collection is probably one of my best PCs both in terms of quantity and quality. This is my 4th certified autograph of his. Pretty good for such an A-lister, and a player I've always liked but was never exactly someone whose cards I aggressively chased (two of the autos I pulled from packs). It's also my lowest numbered Rickey auto... barely. The other three I have are all #/25, so this is the scarcest with a print run of just one fewer.

Thanks for reading and have a great holiday weekend. Best of luck to those of you in Florida dealing with the hurricane stuff.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

ignorable filler post: 1991 Cardboard Dreams #1 Willie Mays

I received a weird Tony Gwynn oddball as a bonus card in a purchase a few weeks ago, and I was so enthralled and entranced by it that I then went out and scored myself the entire 16-card set. I'm thinking that posting the whole set at once might be too intense, so the plan is I'll do a card at a time on days when I otherwise don't have a post ready to go but want a quick post option.

Card #1 is Willie Mays. The likeness isn't too bad. Perhaps a little pale on the complexion . Reminds me of somebody else, but can't quite place it.. Emma Stone? Oprah? Miley Ray Cyrus, maybe?

The background picture of his famous World Series catch is pretty great. This is one of the better fronts in the set, no question.

I think I like the backs of these cards better than the fronts. They feature a fun caricature of the subject and a few interesting factoids.

Willie currently ranks 5th in career home runs, with Bonds and A-rod passing him since this card was made. Albert Pujols will likely hobble past him next year. (You gotta wonder what would have happened had Willie still had a few years left on a big contract once he was showing signs of being done [a la Pujols]. If long-term contracts were a thing back then he probably would have stuck around a couple more years and reached 700 easy.)
1. Barry Bonds 762
2. Hank Aaron 755
3. Babe Ruth 714
4. Alex Rodriguez 696
5. Willie Mays 660
6. Albert Pujols 652

As far as I can tell, Willie still holds the record for most extra inning taters with 22, followed by Jack Clark (18) and Babe Ruth/Frank Robinson (16).

The cartoon references the Treniers' "Say Hey (The Willie Mays Song)" that was released in 1955. Willie doesn't sing on the song, but he recorded some dialog for it.

My best Willie Mays card is an autograph from 2001 Topps Archives Reserve (1952 reprint) I got back in 2015.

My oldest card of his is 1957 Topps.

End of post.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Wampum Walloper and some Topps website exclusives

A few more of my recent COMC pickups to show.

Starting off with a few Richie Allen oddballs. This is a Danbury Mint 22K Gold from an indeterminate year. I've never much cared for cards like these. You'd often see them on home shopping networks, right? Feel like their trying to trick people into thinking the card is actually made of gold-- which would be really cool-- when really they might've mixed in a few cents worth of gold dust on top of cardboard. At least the likeness is decent on this one compared to a lot of similar cards/coins.

I like that the back has full career stats, though you've got to get it in the light just right to be able to read it.

Another embossed Allen, this one 1993 Action Packed.

1987 Hygrade and 1971 Topps Scratch Off. ("Team Captain"? I doubt he was a team captain in 1971, as he had just bounced from one year in St. Louis to one year in L.A.)

And a trio of small, thin oddballs from '69. 1969 Sports Collectors Photostamp, 1969 Topps Decal, 1969 Globe Imports Playing Cards - Gas Station Issue.

And now onto some other stuff...

After picking up the Dick Allen 1969 Topps Decal, I took a look at the recent Heritage versions, and picked up Hoskins and Bellinger.

I also took a look at some online-only Topps offerings to see if I could find anything cool on the cheap. Here's a black & white Rhys RC.

The '78-style card is kinda cool.. sort of like my old If They Were Full-Bleed series of blog posts. What ruins it for me (and I hadn't realized until it was in-hand) is there is no space in the player name. FRANCISCOLINDOR. Huh? Francis Colindor? #ToppsFail. The Trevor Hoffman is in an old, unused Topps design. Looks nice enough, though I'm not sure I'd choose it over any real 60s-70s Topps designs.

And these are kinda fun. I think they're based off a poster design that Topps did a limited release for back in the day. You might think they were inserts for Archives or Heritage, but nope, more online exclusives. Quirky additions to my Griffey, Thomas, and Yelich PCs. Ryan O'Hearn isn't a guy I collect, but figured I'd take a flyer on a cheap RC while I was at it.

That's it for today. I think I've got one more post's worth of stuff from this COMC shipment, not counting several glow-in-the-dark cards for that big post on the subject I'm working on. Also coming soon to the blog are a sweet box from Night Owl, a rollercoaster ride of an addition to my 2004 Retired Refractor quest, and a ridiculou$$$$ pickup celebrating my recent raise. So stay tuned.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Mr. Jones and Me. Custom TTM success with an awesome note!

Oh man, this was a sweeeet TTM return for me.

I can't really explain it, but I was nervous about this one. It was way back in January when Padrographs Rod hooked me up with the elusive mailing address.. and it took me until the middle of August to finally get around to making the request, though it was high on my to-do list that whole time.

Chris Jones has been an enigmatic figure in my collection for a while now, sort of my personal Moonlight Graham. He was only the second person from my high school to play in the major leagues. And the first (Mike Reinbach) passed away many years ago, so Mr. Jones is by default the reigning patriarch of the Guys From Granite fraternity. The fact that "Chris Jones" is a very common name only further clouds the enigmatic nature of the situation, as searching for his cards is not easy, and googling him is pretty much a waste of time as 99% of the results will be for the other baseball player named Chris Jones (who debuted with the Reds in 1991), or maybe the other few guys with that name who've played in the minors over the past few years (or the football or soccer players who also have that name).

I just wanted it to be perfect. You never know how a TTM request will be received.. especially when customs are involved. I've heard about some old-timers who are like, "This is a FAKE CARD! I wasn't paid for the use of my likeness with this! Grumble grumble!" Worst case scenario is upsetting the guy.

Another concern of mine was the weather. Yeah, seems funny, but my customs are susceptible to the ink running when they get a little damp. I figured mid August would be safe, but lol, the day before this return came in, it rained. Thankfully it was dry the day the mailman dropped the return envelope off for me.

But enough lead-in, let's get to it!

Boom, if I may say so myself. Chris never got a real MLB card, so I made my own using the only photo I've ever seen of him not in a minor league uniform. I colorized the b&w pic and put it in a 1987 Donruss design (which might look familiar if you read my post from last month about 87D customs).

I sent 4 copies of this custom, and in my note I asked for one signed in return and said he could keep the extras, which he did. (I also sent a fine-tip red Sharpie for him to sign with [and keep].. an advanced TTM move I've only done once before.. for when you really want it to turn out well and not risk a crappy ballpoint pen or dried-out Sharpie ruining your request). I also mentioned how we both went to Granite Hills High School, and then Grossmont CC and SDSU (I nearly asked him which elementary school he went to, curious if our scholastic paths mirror back that far, though I resisted, thinking it might be creepy to do so).. and mentioned how collecting cards of players who went to my high school is a way I connect with my hometown after moving away a decade ago.

I think the back turned out pretty good, too! I take pride in my custom backs, gotta admit. Helps me stand out from other custom card makers who don't bother with the backs. But really it's just my OCD on the matter, as a blank-backed card feels incomplete to me. This is not only a rated rookie (that never was) but also a sunset card with full career stats. Turns out Chris read it and gave me props in a great note he included in his return...

Transcribing for posterity, he says:
Hey Gavin
Thanks so much for the cards. You did your homework on the career highlights. I didn't even remember that Nolan R. was pitching the game of my debut. I do remember that being on the same team as he was my greatest memory in the ML. Such a great guy as well as HOF no brainer. Take care and thanks again.
Chris  --->
That picture was in spring training during an intersquad game on deck to face Vida Blue. Nice game face! I ended up punching out looking on a 3-2 slider. Nice!
Wow! I've received nice little notes with my custom TTM requests before (including from Vida Blue himself!) but this takes the cake. I couldn't have dreamt of a better reply. This epitomises the greatness of the hobby for me and what it's all about.

Chris even wrote "Go Eagles!" on the back on the return envelope, a reference to our shared Granite Hills heritage.

Oh man, I'm so very happy with this return! While I wouldn't expect it to have big value on the secondary market, this signed card is now easily in the inner circle of best cards in my collection, right up there with my Trout autos and vintage Mantles.

Again, huge thanks to Mr. Jones for making my day by taking the time to sign and return my card and write that wonderful return note. And big thanks also to Rod as well as Brian at ABC Unlimited, the autograph dealer who kindly supplied the address. Much appreciated!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Some nickname cards in time for Players Weekend

A few more cards from my recent COMC shipment to show off today.

Nickname cards are always fun (--or, usually fun. If the dude's last name is Carpenter and his nickname is "Carp".. that's not really very fun.) I think I saw these 2019 Donruss inserts on another blog, and then targeted a couple guys I collect among the cheapest examples available at COMC, settling on Baez and Goldschmidt. The crazy shine is cool, and it's kinda neat how they're made to look like action figures in packaging (or decals, I guess).

The shine continues with this pair of cards harkening back to the street-clothes draft pick cards in '92 Bowman. I'm glad stuff like this isn't super common to see in the hobby, but having a couple sprinkled in your collection makes for some variety. And, like with the Player's Weekend stuff, it's nice to get a bit of players' personality out there. These are from 2017 Bowman Chrome, I believe.

And this is a 2016 Bowman Draft - Chrome Draft History Refractor. Reggie Jackson was my top guy to collect as a kid. When I returned to the hobby as an adult, I was overwhelmed at all the Reggie cards flooding the market every year, and knew I couldn't focus on collecting him. But a couple small subgenres of Reggie cards that still call to me are cards where he's pictured as a Baltimore Oriole, and cards like this one where he's in a KC cap. As far as the theme of this post, Reggie obviously has one of the best known nicknames in baseball with Mr. October, but he didn't pick that up until 1977, right? I wonder if he had a nickname back in his early days with the A's.

I'm in the process of figuring out what I have/need with my Guys From Granite collection, and picked up a pair of Tom Fordham cards here towards the cause. I'm not sure if he had a nickname back when he was pitching, but I'd suggest "Bronco Bacon".

John Barnes is another Guy From Granite of whom I'm trying to "finish" my player collection, or at least get it as complete as possible. Buyback cards popping up like the two on the bottom make it tough to feel like a PC is ever truly finished, even for little known players who didn't stick around long. Another funny thing to note is that the photos on his '98 and '97 Bowman cards are the same except he's flashing some teeth on '97.

Rounded up a few missing minor league cards of him too, a guy I went to school with. Again, I'm not sure about a nickname for him, but his middle name is Delbert. I'd be afraid to call him that! That's asking for a beat down.

Let's call it good for today with this Bert Blyleven. His nickname is the Frying Dutchman.

2016 Topps Legacies of Baseball was a one-and-done high-end set that didn't catch on, but I dig these Vault Metals cards. Can barely call this a "card" though... Bert here is a solid chunk of metal. In one of my all-time best pulls, I landed the Mike Trout 1/1 Vault Metal black logo parallel out of a box I got for my birthday a couple years back, so I suppose I have a soft spot for these. Took a look on COMC for low-cost ones I could grab and ended up with Blyleven.

That's it for now. Have a great weekend, everybody.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Imagined cards that don't exist and ignoring cards that do

More cards from my recent COMC shipment.

I love these "What If?" cards-that-never-were from 2002 Donruss Originals. They imagine if Donruss was putting out current baseball cards in the years prior to their debut in 1981. You can see Reggie is in the dreamt up '80 Donruss design, while Brock and McCovey give you an idea of what '78 Donruss might've looked like. The Lou Brock photo is particularly awesome.

They even have imagineered backs with stats that would have been current for those years' cards. Too bad these things were tough pulls and often run a few buck each, as I would love to put this insert set together someday. If anyone happens to have any of these available, I'd be interested in talking trade. Looks like there are 27 cards in the '78 design, 25 cards in the '80 design, and 23 "What If?" "The Rookies" cards using all even-year designs from Donruss cards of the 80s. Typing up this post made me want to go look for more, and yep, my next COMC order has been started now.

I bought a complete 1976 SSPC set a few months back, but it had a couple cards with creased corners in it. These upgrades take care of that. The dudes are Buzz Capra and Dick Sisler, if you're wondering.

I also picked up a few cards for my '57 Topps setbuild. I'm now scratching at nearly 3/4 complete (74.1%).. and if I give up going after the unnumbered checklists and contest card inserts (all far more expensive than my desire for them would justify-- seriously like $200 for an unmarked checklist!) and only go after the 407-card base set-- as I'm leaning toward doing-- then I suppose I'm over 75% complete now.
Ok, I've made it official and adjusted my wantlist removing the checklists and contest cards from my completion formula (plus one minor printing error card I had on the list). Woo! Thanks to the new math, I'm now up to 75.68% complete (308 out of 407 cards).. That's good for 2 milestones: 3⁄4 complete, and down into double-digits with cards-remaining (99). I'll just treat those other cards as extraneous inserts, much like I did with the creepy embossed inserts when I was building my 1965 Topps set, and ignore them. Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments, as I'd be curious what other collector's think. I suppose it's the difference between a "base set" and a "master set".

Jumping to the 90s now, I realized I didn't have many '92 Bowman cards in my collection, and so I snagged a couple cheap guys I collect.

And another Julio Franco need... 1990 Topps Top Active Career Batting Leaders. Last month I got a Rickey from this this neat set from SCC, and ended up looking for others I could use from COMC at a good price, pulling the trigger on Julio here. And the shiny 1992 Panini sticker is an addition for my Dave Henderson PC.

Let's close with this old thing. 1963 Topps Bazooka - All-Time Greats #23 Jimmy Collins. Last year, I pulled a Willie McCovey Bazooka All-Time Greats insert out of Heritage, and since then I was curious about landing an original one of these things. Looks like Bazooka put out All-Time Greats in '63 (like the above) and '69 (like the McCovey I pulled), so not quite the same, but close enough for me.

I don't collect Jimmy Collins or anything, but this was the cheapest Bazooka All-Time Great I could find on COMC ($3), no doubt discounted due to being miscut. But hey, works for me.

More from this order left to show off another day. Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Shining Time

Time to tuck into my latest COMC shipment. I had been loading up my inventory since last Black Friday, and finally hit the 100-card threshold to get the $5 kickback. Now my question is will I be able to load up another 100 in time for the free shipping this Black Friday weekend? Probably not.

My last post showed off a Nettles refractor from 2004 Topps Retired. My love for those cards bled over to 2004 Topps Chrome and its black refractors.

I decided to hit the Chrome-Town Heroes relics hard (the only black refractor insert set that year). Big names here. I'm now down to needing only Pujols to finish off these relics.

Also snagged a few of the non-hit black refractors. Wily Mo Pena sighting! Ok, I snuck in an Earl Weaver from 2004 Retired that I scored on eBay into this bunch. I already had one of the 25, but when this seller didn't mention in the listing that it was a refractor (or numbered /25), I was able to land it for a good price because I can't help myself. It's available for trade.

Moving on to another set now... I've been appreciating 2015 Bowman more and more over the past few years, specifically the parallels. It's just a pleasing design that only gets better in hindsight over the years as the designs for that product go further off the rails. Maybe someday if I ever finish my 2011 Topps parallel frankenset (btw, big update on that quest coming coming soon.. yep!), maybe I'll try my hand at a 2015 Bowman frankenset. I would probably do it one-card-per-player (rather than go by numbering) mashup of Bowman, Bowman Chrome, and Bowman Draft. Just an idea I'm kicking around. Anyways, these are 3 inexpensive autos I was able to find on COMC for a buck or two each.
Trace Loehr - Hitting .294 in the minors currently.. hey, he might make the show someday.
Jeff Degano - Yankees 2nd-rounder who flamed out in 2017. Bummer.
Cory Spangenberg - Padres 1st-rounder who never quite put it together in SD. Currently in AAA with the Brewers and putting up solid numbers. Could get a call-up if Milwaukee is hit by injuries down the stretch.

Love them wave refractors! A couple solid names here with the Vogelmoster and Orlando Arcia.

And let's close with another pair of autos which might be more exciting at a quick glance. Yep, my Red Sox collection is boosted by a Betts 1st Bowman auto! Wait, what's that? Wrong Betts? Dang. Oh well.

Ok, how about a hot prospect auto of Padres infielder named Fernando! Oh wait, that's not Tatis, Jr. LOL

Looks like Jordan is out baseball, while Perez is currently playing in Mexico. Oh well, they were cheap and I still like the shiny cards.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Do you love me? I'm Old Graig!!

I may have just said goodbye to a damaged autograph of the greatest player ever born in San Diego.. but I also recently said hello to a beautiful autograph of the second best San Diego-born player!..

Graig Nettles!

2004 Topps Retired refractor autos are my favorite cards. I always keep an eye out for them-- tryin' to collect 'em all-- and I finally landed this one the other day. I'm now down to a lucky 13 cards left in my quest. They can be tough to find, numbered out of just 25 copies each.

But back to saluting Graig...

He's close to my heart as the 2nd best baseball player to ever come out of my alma mater of San Diego State University, in addition to sharing cities where we were born..

Here's a list of the top San Diego-born MLB ballplayers according to baseball-reference WAR: (This is in ascending order, not descending, because I'm not great at using stats sites, sorry.)

Being second to Ted Williams, and Tony Gwynn, in anything is surely something to be proud of. (And hey, Graig has 2 more World Series rings than the both of them combined.)

Graig Nettles should have legit HOF consideration thanks in large part to his power numbers (390 career taters) and his elite defense at 3rd base-- known as a "glove only" position for much of his career (Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews notwithstanding)-- not to mention his postseason prowess (WS champ in '77 and '78, plus ALCS MVP in '81). Hall of Stats has him comfortably enshrined with a ranking of 126 out of the 232 eligible ballplayers deemed worthy of induction. But his lifetime .248 batting average turns off Cooperstown voters. Oh well, maybe someday they'll take a deeper look at his stats and rightfully put him in.

As for the title of this post, it's a reference to a favorite episode of an all-time favorite show of mine, The Mighty Boosh, a BBC offering from 2004 to 2007 (currently available for streaming on Hulu). It's a must-watch if you're into silly, absurd stuff.

Thanks for popping by.