Thursday, July 22, 2021

blue tape and pull-tab awareness week 2021

This is an annual thing I do every year after shark week (just because that's how I remember to do it, lol). Blue tape and pull tab awareness week. These days it's really just one post, but I do my best to keep the spirit of the week in my heart all week, if not all year.

It's one of the biggest plights for the sportscard collecting enthusiast of today:

Scotch tape.

Specifically, irresponsible usage of scotch tape to protect cards.

Don't get me wrong, tape is a must-have item for anyone who ever ships cards. A piece of tape over the opening of a top loader prevents the card from slipping out and potentially being damaged in shipment. At some point we've all been the victim of a negligent newb card seller who just throws a top-loader into a bubble mailer willy-nilly (or worse yet, a PWE) and you open to the horrific sight of the card poking out, with a dinged corner or two. A few cards secured between a couple pieces of protective cardboard by some tape is also a good way to keep them safe from the rigors of interstate travel.

But too often, the person mailing the cards doesn't take a moment to think about the recipient. I'm sure you've been in the frustrating situation many times: spending what seems like several minutes chipping away at a piece of tape with your fingernail, trying to free your newly obtained card(s). Such a pain! You could also use a knife, boxcutter, or scissor blade to cut the tape, but you run the risk of slipping and cutting in too far, potentially damaging the card. And either way, if it's a top loader, now you've got a trashy-looking top loader with a cut-up piece of tape on it.. time to get your fingernails involved again. Depending on the tape, it could take just a moment, or it could be on there so badly (chipping off in tiny brittle bits, or not coming off at all) that the card holder is essentially ruined. Even in the best-case scenario, some Goo Gone is usually needed to remove the sticky tape residue.

This disheartening scene could easily be avoided!

All the sender needs to do is spend two seconds to fold over a tiny piece of tape, creating a handy pull-tab. This pull-tab makes it super easy for the recipient to grab hold of the tape and peel it off in one efficient motion with little to no sticky residue left behind. No dangerous blades or fingernail frustration needed!

And Blue/painter's tape is the best tape to use! It costs a little more than regular clear scotch tape, but it comes off so easily and residue-free that your recipient will love you for it! For you thrifty types out there, know that blue tape can be reused several times! If somebody sends you a card with some blue tape, put it aside to use again later with someone else.

Here's a current look at my supply of blue tape on hand.

Now let's do a quick "how to" on pull-tabs.


Step 1: Apply tape to one side.

Step 2: At the end of the remaining tape, fold over a piece about a centimeter long, with the sticky part being stuck against itself, creating a non-sticky pull-tab roughly the shape of a square.

Step 3: Apply the remaining tape to the other side.

I need to update these photos. I don't even have this Kong anymore; traded it away a while back.

  • You can also double up on the pull-tabs to make opening cards later even easier. Just follow the above process for each side of the tape you apply.
  • It's also nice to write "pull" on either the tab itself or on the protective cardboard with an arrow pointing to the tab. This is helpful for individuals who might not immediately recognize the tab you've thoughtfully created for them.

Advanced Pro Tips:
  • To go that extra mile, consider putting a little piece of paper over the top-loader opening, and tape it on (with pull-tabs, of course!) This will help prevent the rare but tragic occurrence of the card sticking to the tape. This is especially a good idea with old vintage cardboard (more prone to sticking and being damaged than today's cards) or when using extra thick top-loaders, such as with relics or other fat cards.
  • Tape can be avoided all together with the use of a team bag secured over a top-loader. Some people, like fellow blogger RAZ (check out his method here), go all out and use blue tape, a paper buffer, and a team bag. Bless these heroes!

A+++++ transaction!!! Would deal with again!

  • Don't make the tab so big that there's not enough sticky part of the tape left to get a secure seal. You want at least a half-inch of sticky part remaining to ensure that the tape holds during transit. If you've got limited tape length to work with, it's better to have a "too small" pull-tab, than "too big". Even if it's too small, at least the recipient can have a good start for his or her fingernails.
  • If you write "pull" to identify the tab, be sure to write gently. Writing too hard could damage the card.


Step 1: Pull tab.

Step 2: There is no step 2; you're done, bro! Throw away the tape that easily came off (or if it's blue tape, consider sticking it somewhere to reuse later), and enjoy your new card(s) and pristine top-loader!

It's just that easy! So easy to do and so handy for the person getting the cards! 

I've heard the argument "When you buy a card, you're not buying a toploader or other supplies, only the card." By that logic, you have dinner at a restaurant and expect them to dish out the food directly into your hands. No, of course it's expected that they'll provide a clean plate and any necessary utensils for your food. Buying a card online similarly should imply that the seller will provide adequate service when packaging and shipping the card.

I'm happy to say it seems like blue tape and pull tabs have become more widespread in the hobby since I started up this "awareness week" on the blog back in 2013, though there's still a lot of room for improvement. (And not that I'm trying to take all the credit. But if I can reach at least one new person each year I run this post, it's a victory!)

Thanks for reading and thank you for your commitment to excellence in packaging sports cards!

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Paul Molitor 2004 Topps Retired refractor

Here's another nice one I was recently able to score for my 2004 Topps Retired refractor auto quest.. Paul Molitor!

Great looking card. He's got a distinctive, pleasing signature with a big P loop and tiny other letters.

The Ignitor is damn near about to make this card catch fire in its black refracting glory!

Slam dunk Hall of Fame career. Don't forget about his 1993 World Series MVP award, too.

Molitor is a "Hundred Card Club" guy for me. Above are a few highlights from the PC. I only have one '78 Rookie Shortstops card, and it's currently in the Molitor PC, but I've been tempted to pluck it out for my 1978 Topps setbuild that isn't too far from completion. And hell, I wouldn't mind a third copy thanks to pesky Alan Trammell, another PC guy (whose 2004 Retired refractor has become my top white whale, coincidentally).

My base versions of Molitor and the Ernie Banks I showed off a few days ago are now available for trade if you wanna offer me something tempting for either of them.

Another look at that comely '04 refractor. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Dwight Gooden 9-pocket PC

Picking a random completed page from my "9-pocket PC" binder...

Dwight Gooden is pretty cool, though I missed out on his impressive mid-80s heyday thanks to not getting into baseball/cards until 1990. Never quite made him a "PC guy" of mine, but feels like I've been on the cusp of doing so for years. A player like that makes for a perfect candidate for the 9-pocket PC binder I recently started up.

Doc's great Donruss box bottom from '85 gets the center spot here, with his '85 Topps card being another highlight (a remnant from my childhood collection). I tried cutting out a frame-like thing to keep the Ginter mini from moving around too much (Is this common practice for you binder guys?). The Stadium Club card is a Chrome parallel I pulled (not to be confused with the stand-alone Stadium Club Chrome set).

The backs.

Some of these could be bumped out in favor of other, "better" cards that pass through my hands in the future. You'll notice these are all of the Mets variety. I suppose I should someday work in a card or two from the latter half of his career, bouncing around with teams such as the Yankees and Indians. Wish I had at least one card here with something close to complete year-by-year career stats. But still, decent page. 

I'm also fortunate enough to have 3 Gooden autographs, but they're all encased and therefore not eligible for the binder.

This 2004 Retired refractor I landed back in 2015 is probably my favorite card of his in the collection, but I also have a soft spot for his 2005 Retired auto (the first card I bought in the new house) and an Archives Signature auto #'d 1/5 on a 1992 Bowman card (won in a contest from 2 x 3 Heroes on St. Patrick's Day 2017).

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Ernie Banks 2004 Topps Retired refractor auto

Here's a big name I was recently able to pick up for my 2004 Topps Retired refractor autograph quest: Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks!

Now that's a fine looking card.

I remember when I first started going after these cards several years back, there was one of these Banks refractors hanging around for a few months with a Buy-it-Now price tag that wasn't a bad deal considering today's cardboard inflation, but back then it was a bit too high for me, though I likely would have pulled the trigger on it eventually to celebrate a raise or something probably. Somebody else beat me to it, though, and then I didn't see another one till this one popped up. Glad I finally got one.

One of the all-time greats! 

Didn't realize how slow he was on the basepaths.. only 50 lifetime steals? (Yep. And wow, 53 caught stealin's.. ha)

Let's play two!

catching up with incoming cards

 Just some various cards that've been added to the collection over the past couple weeks or so.

Here's a 4-card Sportlots order. I really want to finally stick a fork in my 1984 Donruss set, and picking up the Rated Rookies of Sid Fernandez and Greg Gagne takes me down to only Cal Ripken left. So the 84D Iron Man is now attop my Desperate Dozen if someone wants to be a hero and trade me that card.

I maximized shipping by also picking up a pair of 1978 Topps needs from the same seller, finding a pair of familiar names among the cards priced as commons. They've gotten me up to 83% complete, with 123 cards remaining for this set.

- - ---o

Speaking of 70s Topps needs...

Next is a quick trade with Jay at Cardboard Hemorrhage. I was able to help him out a little with his budding Tiant and Goldschmidt PCs. (I sorted my Paul Goldschmidts for probably the first time ever and found a ton of doubles and triples to redistribute.) Jay returned the favor with a few needs/upgrades for my '74 and '70 setbuilds, with Catfish Hunter being the marquee name of the bunch. My 1974 needs look to be down to just 2 commons, plus several HOFers, "Washington N.L." variations, a checklist, and the Ken Griffey rookie.

Some favorites from yesteryear.

Some active dudes. A little cracked ice always spices up a group of cards.

Thanks, Jay! Let's do it again soon. 

-    -  - - --o

And now a couple eBay pickups...

I still haven't thrown in the towel in my quest of a parallel set of 2004 Topps Chrome black refractors. Scored these big names for each under a Lincoln shipped; pretty good considering my "nice price" when buying commons is a buck a pop. I've got 202 cards left to go, so this won't be wrapped up any time soon, but I still try to keep an eye out for deals that pop up on big names I need. Yadier Molina, Pujols, and Ichiro are going to be expensive. Speaking of expensive 2004 Topps black refractors being a critical focus of mine, if you've read this far and still want to read (much) more from me on the subject, I typed up a thing recently that might be too "extra" for a blog post, but if you are a hardcore Baseball Card Breakdown enthusiast, you can click here to read it. Anyhoo, yeah, stoked to knock Sosa and Smoltz off my needs.

-   -  -- -o

Closing out the post with a pair of Archives autos. Blue Moon Odom was an impulse buy a while back. I love a good nickname auto and he seems pretty cool. The 1959 World Series highlight card is actually a Maury Wills auto I needed for my ARMS (Archives Reserve Master Set). Funny that for the purpose of this "rookie reprint" autograph, Topps used a card that really features Luis Aparicio as the subject. (Maury, as you likely know, didn't sign a Topps contract until he already had several Major League seasons under his belt, so he was a veteran by the time he got his first Topps card.)

Wills' in the box score on the back, at least. (Oh yeah, funny thing-- look at the total at-bats for Los Angeles! Dumb typo by the person recreating the back of the original card [which is correct]).

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Vagabond Binder: Goose Gossage

I've been meaning to crank out this post for a while, and I'll use his 70th birthday today recently as motivation. Rich "Goose" Gossage was among the most dominant relief pitchers of his era. He stuck around a long time and played for several teams, so he was a good candidate for my Vagabond Binder, which is basically a page per player, with that page featuring 9 cards of the player suited up for (ideally) 9 different teams. This is the 4th post in the series, following Rickey, Benito, and Canseco.

Solid page featuring 9 different teams and 4 big smiles.

Rich came up with the White Sox in 1972, eventually having a breakout season in '75 when he lead the league in saves (26) to go with a 1.84 ERA. Chicago figured they'd try him as a starter for the '76 season, his lone year in the rotation. They traded him to Pittsburgh after the season and it was back to the bullpen in '77. I happened to have a spare '73 Topps RC to use for this project. Getting him pictured as a Pirate is tough, as your options are basically limited to his '77 Hostess card (where he's airbrushed into a Pittsburgh cap) and his '78 Kellogg's card, which I had to go out of my way to score another one of (already had one in my Kellogg's setbuild, but they're tougher to find than you might think). Technically, the card identifies him as a Yankee on the back, having signed as a free agent with New York prior to the 1978 season.

His 1978 Topps card is a silly one, putting the airbrush artist to the test changing a Pirates uniform into Yankee pinstripes. But it's what I went with based on the limited dupes from my Gossage PC (I try to use dupes for the Vagabond Binder when possible as opposed to picking up new cards for it). His successes in '78 included closing out the "Bucky Dent game" and 3 of New York's World Series victories over the Dodgers. It was the only ring he'd win in his career, though he did help San Diego win the pennant in 1984 after singing as a free agent once his Yankees contract was up. I had lots of options to choose from for his Padres card in the page, ultimately going with the big smile of his '87 Topps.

More smiles here. In a return to the Windy City, Goose was traded to the Cubs for the '88 season and eventually released in spring training of '89 before being picked up by the Giants. Tough finding him in a San Francisco uniform, with this Mother's Cookies card being your best bet. Neither of these are doubles for me, sacrificing them from the PC. But hell, I suppose the page in the Vagabond Binder is really just an extension of the PC, with some of the cards "on loan" for display, if you wanna look at it that way. (Taking cards out of sets/setbuilds is typically where I draw the line, though, hence buying that second '78 Kellogg's card.)

Goose returned to New York for the last couple months of the 1989 season, and so his 1990 baseball cards feature him as a Yankee. But he played in Japan that year-- there don't seem to be any cards documenting this overseas stint-- before finishing out the early 90s in the American League.

I try to stick to vertical cards for this project, but sometimes you gotta go horizontal. Now more of a set-up man than a closer, Rich pitched for the Rangers in 1991, Oakland in '92 and '93, before finishing his career with the Mariners in 1994. He was still a solid option out of the pen in his final year even at age 43, and were it not for the strike grinding things to a halt, he may have kept going a while longer.

Here's the back of the page. The rookie card on the Stadium Club back really ties the lot together.

I don't currently have any more pages in the Vagabond Binder, though I've been meaning to see if I can rustle up a page using my Hoyt Wilhelm PC, so chances are that'll be the next post in this series.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Cards and a comic from Rod

Rod from Padrographs popped over one of the past weekends and kindly handed me a box of random cards as he's done several times before. I'm very lucky to be his neighbor!

There were a lot of fresh 2021 cards in there, mostly Heritage, which I was happy to see since I don't rip current product much anymore. Lots of PC needs for me.

And all the young dudes.

Haha.. More cheesy Cal Ripken Holiday Inn cards among the HOFers.

Here we've got a couple spare Padrographs, including a custom of Paul Quantrill (Cal Quantrill's pop), plus a nice pair of Gavins. That's my first non-sticker autograph of John Gavin. The holiday Lux RC was a very welcomed sight too.

Fun assortment of non-sports.

Happy 4th of July!

And Rod gave me one non-card item...

Nocterra comic book. Very cool, but what's really cool about it...

Glows in the dark! This will be going on display in my Glow-in-the-Dark Museum (basement bathroom).

Big thanks as always, Rod!

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Can I get a "Whoa Bundy!" for my latest pickup?

Got one! I'd been keeping an eye out for an Ed O'Neill as Al Bundy football card for a few years now. Leaf recently put out a few in the old 1989 Pro Set design. I thought it looked pretty cool, and ponied up for one. 

Mine is #'d 42/99 (ooh, the Jackie Robinson eBay 1/1!) It's easily the most I've ever paid for a stickergraph-- I'm one of those guys who vastly prefers on-card signatures-- but in this instance, I'll let it slide.

I loved Married... with Children as a kid/teen back in the day and have recently been watching through the series again via Hulu with my wife. The whole running gag about Al Bundy being a former high school football star (including 4 touchdowns in one game!) is pretty great, and this card is right up my alley as someone who enjoys making customs along these lines. (See also my Perfect Strangers customs from a few years back.)

Ed O'Neill is known more recently for his role of Jay Pritchett on Modern Family, another show I like. This is the second auto card I've scored from the cast of that show, joining the Sarah Hyland ("Haley Dunphy") I picked up a year ago. Now I'm kinda curious who else from that show has certified autograph cards out there to track down.. but honestly I'm more likely to turn my focus on finding a Christina Applegate auto for a decent price.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, July 2, 2021

9-pocket PC: Jackie Robinson

I've been doing a new thing with my collection where I've added a ton of new limited player collections.

These are generally players who don't quite compel me to full-on collect them (that is to say, go my normal "hundred card club" method of player collecting), but I still like 'em enough to want to get them represented in my collection in some way. 

So instead of trying to get 100 cards of theirs, I'm only going after 9. This is also a way for me to "engage" more with my collection via binders (I'm historically a box guy). Once a page is filled with 9 cards, if I then get a 10th card, the challenger will have a shot at bumping out an incumbent from a slot. The goal is to achieve a page for the guy with 9 cards that I really like. I can always promote the PC to a full (box) PC instead of a 9-pocket PC if I start having difficulty turning away cards or just decide I want to collect the dude in ernest.

And it goes both ways: some of my smaller PCs (who might not even have 9+ cards in them) have found themselves downgraded to 9-pocket PCs, and guys I collect who sort of fall out of favor with me can go this route too.. I just pair down the collection to the cream of the crop with my favorite 9 cards and toss the rest into the "for trade" bin.

I've really been digging this method of player collecting so far and plan to keep expanding it, likely into a few binders eventually. Feels like it's both opening up my collection, yet also tightening it up since they're capped at 9 cards each, it's got that finish-line/closure aspect that I really appreciate.

Another cool thing about all this is I can do quick posts featuring these 9-pocket PCs. My posting frequency on the blog has been dipping for a while now, and I'm going to try to start doing more frequent, shorter posts to help keep Baseball Card Breakdown boppin'.

Anyways, I figure Jackie Robinson makes a good pick to kick off the series.

Here's my page of his. Gotta love Jackie Robinson. While I've got strong admiration for the man, he's never been a guy I collected much. Cards from his playing days are expensive, and his modern cards tend to get monotonous with the same few pictures used over and over.

I don't have much method to card placement beyond putting the "best" card in the middle, here being a Gallery of Greats insert from 2015 Topps. I made a half-assed attempt at completing the set back then (and its Chrome version), but eventually let it go due to prices and lack of availability outweighing my interest. But at least this one is getting its moment in the sun at "center square" of the page. Hadn't really thought about it before, but I suppose these things remind me of the black refractors I love so well from 2004 Topps Retired and 2004 Chrome.

Other than that one, these cards aren't exactly locked in. Oh wait, the autograph-signing Stadium Club isn't going anywhere either. The card most likely to be the first bumped out would be the 1st card. It's kind of redundant, being very similar to the 2nd card, but I like the second one a bit better since it's shiny.

I consider Jackie's 1956 Topps to be a "bucket list" card for me. It's a great looking piece of cardboard and I hope to add one to my collection someday, though it hasn't been an active pursuit yet. And even if I did score one, it wouldn't be eligible for the page since '56 Topps are a little oversized.

Here are the backs. I try for at least one of the 9 cards to feature full stats on the back for easy pursuing of the guy's career path. There are 2 such cards here, though the Archives barely counts since it's hard to read. I wonder if Topps will start including his 1945 season with the KC Monarchs in his career stats, keeping with the game's recent "The Negro Leagues are Major Leagues" shake-up to their official record keeping. That'd be cool.

So there you have it, my 9-pocket PC of Jackie Robinson. Nothing too incredible, but a solid page and makes me feel good to at least have a little piece of my collection dedicated to this legend.

Update: Since drafting this post, I decided to swap out that 1st card with an Allen & Ginter X. I was originally going for a thing where the top row all had similar photos, but I think I prefer the variety of working a Ginter in there.

Have a great holiday weekend, everybody!

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Gavin Sheets PC

Gavin Sheets became the 4th man named Gavin to play Major League Baseball last night, following in the footsteps of misters Floyd, Cecchini, and Lux.

Congrats, Mr. Sheets!

The 25-year old went 2-4 with 2 RBI in the White Sox 7-6 win over the Twins. 

Pretty cool.

Here's my Gavin Sheets PC as it stood on the day of his debut.

A few decent Bowman cards.

Most of my Topps cards of him are autographed, lol. The Heritage is a glossy parallel.

A pair of numbered Panini cards and a minor league issue.

Nice selection of Leaf cards here!

And a slabbed auto. Sharp looking card.

Just pulled the trigger on the Topps Now card for his debut.. which is designated as a "Call Up" not a "RC". Probably too late to get him into Update, but I'd expect him to get the rookie card treatment next year. I'm more or less content with the PC as it stands (I don't plan to chase his rookies or whatever), but I'm always happy to receive more cards of his in trade. Let's hope he has an outstanding career ahead of him!