Saturday, October 30, 2021

Retired Refractor Tom Terrific Trifecta

I've been collecting Topps Retired since just before I started blogging, and I've recently unlocked the achievement of completing a trifecta of refractor autographs from each of the 3 Retired releases.

Tom Seaver refractors from 2003, 2004, and 2005 sure look nice together. If only they could have shown him with Cincinnati for '04, it could have kinda visually recapped his career in cardform, but that's a minor complaint.

I should note that while this is the first time I've owned a refractor auto from all 3 Retired sets of one guy at one time, I have in my life had all 3 Robin Yount ref autos. A few years ago I got a good deal on a Yount '03 Retired refractor that I soon turned around and sold for a hefty profit to a guy working on the set (also sold him my Willie Mays from the same set for twice what I paid, and then later a Fred Lynn). At the time I already had an '04 Yount refractor, and not long thereafter I also got an '05 refractor, but didn't have all 3 at the same time. I've since grown a little more serious about collecting 2003 Retired refractors (and 2005... in addition to 2004 which has always been my #1), so I probably wouldn't make that same deal today. It's not a huge regret of mine, though I do hope to someday land another '03 Yount refractor (and Mays and Lynn). [I wonder how that guy's set is coming along.]

If you're curious, these are the players have autos in all 3 releases of Topps Retired Signature Edition:

Bobby Richardson
Brooks Robinson
Cal Ripken, Jr
Carlton Fisk
Dale Murphy
Don Mattingly
Duke Snider
Dwight Gooden
Ernie Banks
Frank Robinson
Gary Carter
Johnny Bench
Jose Canseco
Nolan Ryan
Orlando Cepeda
Ozzie Smith
Paul O'Neill
Ralph Kiner
Robin Yount
Rod Carew
Ron Santo
Stan Musial
Tom Seaver
Tony Gwynn
Vida Blue
Wade Boggs
Whitey Ford
Yogi Berra

I've got at least 1 Retired refractor from all these guys (2004, where I'm only missing Trammell [who isn't in '05]). Several of them I've got 2 of the 3, with '03 usually being the elusive one. Seems that set is a little more popular, with its clean design and dual photos, reminiscent of 1983 Topps. (Though really it's just a white-bordered remix of the blue 2003 Topps flagship design.)

But back to Tom Seaver, the 2005 was the last one I needed, and the only one I haven't shown off on the blog before, so let's take a closer look:

Those White Sox unis from the 80s are something else, eh? By the time Seaver got to Chicago, he wasn't quite the dominant ace of his younger days, but still a dependable starter. Compiled 17 complete games over that 2 and a half year span and picked up his 300th win with the club.

This card had been overpriced on eBay for a while. I added it to my watchlist to keep an eye on it, and eventually the seller sent out one of those private offers for like half off which brought it down to a fair price and I'd pulled the trigger. 

Full disclosure, its original case was scratched up and missing the hologram sticker seal, but I soon found myself with a good "donor" case to swap Tom into. I realize this could be frowned upon if I was intending to sell it.. like I'm "altering" it or whatever. But again, I'm not planning on selling it, I just like my Retired autos to have uniformity. And new collectors today really only care about graded cards, so whoever gets this card next will very possibly decide to send it in for grading, meaning it'd get busted out of the case anyways to be put into the grading company's slab. The card itself has been sheltered from the harsh world, only being outside of a Topps "uncirculated" hard case for a brief moment during the transfer.

One of the greats!

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

just my Eddie Rosario and Yordan Álvarez cards

I haven't posted much lately, though I've actually been working on a very long post that probably won't be published until 2023 or 2024 (It's a "time capsule" post that tells a pretty epic tale regarding a heck of a hobby happening here at Baseball Card Breakdown HQ).

For a quick and easy post today, though, I figured I'd see what cards I have from the recent League Championship Series MVPs.

Eddie Rosario helped the Braves take down the Dodgers for the NL pennant by batting .560 with 3 big home runs. He hadn't been a guy-I-collect, but I dug through my Twins tradeables to see what I had of his, figuring I'll at least put together a page for my 9-Pocket PC binder.

Happy to find this shiny pair: a 2nd Bowman Chrome refractor (/500) and a Topps Chrome Update Mega Box RC I pulled back in 2015.

He was also in the hobby boxes I opened of Topps Pro Debut in 2014 and 2015, along with a few other more-recent cards that made their way to me, probably mostly from Rod's drop-offs.


In the AL, Yordan Álvarez single-handedly out hit the entire Red Sox lineup over the last 2 games of the ALCS to lead the Astros back to the fall classic. After missing most of 2020 to injury, seemed like collectors kinda gave up on the '19 ROY-- (oh yeah, and of course there was the whole cheating scandal that sunk the prices of all modern Astros cards)-- but he's had quite the comeback. I've been building a little PC of him for a while, though don't have anything too exciting.

A couple shiny early Bowman inserts.

A couple more Bowmans with some Topps RCs. (Opening Day rookie dupe if anyone wants to make a trade offer.)

And a few more.

Hopefully it's an exciting World Series.

Gotta go. Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 15, 2021

"Dick Allen Belongs in the Hall of Fame" oddball set

Here's something I've been meaning to post about for a while. Back in January, friend o' the blog Alex T. emailed telling me he had a line on a Dick Allen oddball set and asked if I wanted in. I sure did, and Alex helped me acquire one.

The main reason I haven't posted about this set yet is that my collector gene made it tough for me to open up the wrapping! Opening takes the cards from "new" to "used", for whatever that's worth. But it's not like I'm ever planning to sell off my Dick Allen collection, and like I was saying in my previous post, I've been trying to live in the moment more and whatnot, so screw it, time to finally free the cards from their pouch (but that shattered gum can remain individually sealed).

It's a 7-card set and the photos focus on his early days in Philadelphia.

The backs are full of impressive stats and complimentary quotes, but not much to go on as far as the origin of the cards. Alex didn't have a whole lot of background info on them, but I was able to track down the guy behind the "Dick Allen Belongs in the Hall of Fame" movement, Mark A. Carfagno, a fan who advocated hard to get Dick Allen into Cooperstown while the man was still with us. The most recent vote on his candidacy fell short by a single vote, and sadly Mr. Allen passed away in December of 2020, not long before his much anticipated next time up for consideration, which had gotten bumped due to covid until December 2021. It's kind of a sad story, but hopefully they put him in posthumously.

Anyways, Mark did stuff in Philadelphia such as put up billboards and organize speaking engagements to champion for Allen's HOF inclusion. Mark is friends with the owner of Choice Marketing, best known for their minor league cards, and worked with Choice and graphic designer Rob Larsen to create a small run of sets for promotional purposes. Mark recalls this was likely in 2018, and says the cards were never available for sale to the public.

I really love these three that borrow their design from classic Topps sets. Even get a White Sox card out of it.

So there you have it. Super cool addition to one of my top PC guys.

Thanks to Mark for his part in creating them and kindly answering my questions, and thanks again to Alex for helping me snag a set. 

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Back from the dead

Ok, it hasn't be that long since my last post, but in that time, I dealt with a health scare that had me pretty damn stressed out. It was a mental rollercoaster and at its lowest dips, I was convinced I was dying-- no joke.

I felt something not-right brewing down in my tuchus, but turns out it wasn't a mass or anything-- nope, I've just got a beat-up disc by my tailbone. Won't kill me, but might be a little pain in the butt from here on out. That's a relief, but yeah, I was sweating it pretty hard in the days leading up to the doctor visit. Thinking about stuff like what I would want to spend my last good days doing (you know, like trying to think of the best way to distribute my card collection to my hobby buds, lol.) Thinking about what I was going to miss (favorite albums, movies, and video games to experience one last time). And finding morbid relief by thinking about what I was glad to be getting away from ("No more work! Woo!" "Also can hold off scheduling that dentist appointment.")

It's funny in hindsight, but that was a rough stretch of days. I'm also realizing that I'm right at the halfway point to the age my grandfather was when he passed, which has always seemed to me like my default life expectancy. It kind of all added up to a midlife crisis thing, I guess. I'm trying to take it as wake-up call to "live my best life" or whatever.

I don't really have a good segue into cards, but now let's check out some recent additions to my collection.

First is a big trade with Sports Card Collectors. He pulled this nice Tatis patch card and we were able to hash out a deal involving it coming over to my collection. Pretty sure it's my first Tatis relic, so let's count it as a finished trifecta since I've already got his auto and rookie card (though I'm embarrassed to admit I don't own his standard Topps rookie).

And a few bonus cards of the Pride of the Padres kindly thrown in.

I still love me Juan Soto something fierce. Was glad I could work this pair into our deal.

Thanks for the trade, SCC! 

-  -  - -- ---o

Next up is one of those beautiful moments that us cardbloggers wish for when a random email comes in saying, "Really enjoy your blog posts! I have cards that you need, just need to know where to send them." And that's just what Paul M. in California said.

Though I completed 1971 Topps a few years back, I still have lots of upgrading I'd like to do to my set. This lot from Paul isn't exactly "pack fresh", but still lots of useful upgrades for me here.

And additions for my Charlie Hustle and Ironman PCs. Funny enough, it's the 1984 Donruss Ripken that I'm really pining for so I can close the book on that set. But hey, these other early Cals are cool too.

Thanks again, Paul! Very nice of you.

-  -  -  - --o

The rest of the cards in this post are eBay/Sportlots pickups from the past month or so.

Lea Thompson is a longtime celebrity crush of mine. Got inspired to grab a "rookie card" of hers, though I've never seen Jaws 3-D.

After checking off Manny and Chipper here, I'm down to an even 200 cards left in my 2004 Chrome black refractor setbuild. Kinda doubt I'll ever reach that goal, but I love these damn things too much to pull the plug.

Shiny, 90s mailday last Friday. Thanks to Mario for the tip on those early superfractor-like refractors (1996 Bowman Best Atomic Refractors). Pretty neat. And Kevin Maas is one of those PCs that I-- or the kid in me from '90/'91 who still believes he's the next Yankee great-- love adding to.

That'll do it for today. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Bowman auto master rainbow + Guys From Granite 2021 recap

Five years ago, Johnny Omahen, a guy who went to my high school, had autographs in 2016 Bowman. I went after them and soon completed the rainbow with the exception of the 1/1. That was added to the long list of cards I try to keep an eye out for, and I went about my life. 

My patience paid off and that 1/1 finally popped up the other day for a reasonable buy-it-now price. I quickly pounced on it and now the rainbow is fully complete.

These Retail Prospect Autographs are "paper only", meaning no Chrome counterpart to this card. On one hand, that's nice because there are less cards for me to chase, but on the other hand it sucks because there are less cards for me to chase. LOL. I don't mind an occasional excuse to pick up some new refractors, but not this time. There were also no printing plates packed out for these, which always factors in the feasibility of completing a rainbow.

The 1/1 is officially called the "Metallic" parallel (shown here doing the spider-man meme pointing thing with the base version), but that's just a fancy way of saying grey in this instance. It'd be cool if the card was actually printed on metal or at least had some foil shine or something special like that, but nope, the design just features a touch of grey.

There's still an unofficial parallel for me to keep an eye out for: the orange Christmas Card. My copy of the orange parallel is numbered 19/25, but I hope to one day find number 12/25.

Quick bio: After graduating from Granite Hills High School, Omahen attended Cal State San Marcos and was drafted by the Marlins in the 35th round of the 2011 draft. After a rough 2012, the Marlins cut him loose. He then pitched for an independent team in 2013, impressing scouts there and signing with the Diamondbacks. Splitting time between high-A and AA, John had a nice 2015 season, going 13-3 with a 3.07 ERA, prompting the folks at Topps to give him the autograph card in 2016 Bowman. It would stand to be his only major release, though. He made it up to AAA in '16, but struggled and was done after that season.

Granite Hills H.S. gets alluded to on the back, but not namechecked.

As far as my John Omahen supercollection, now I'm only missing a stadium giveaway variation of his 2012 minor league card (the one I also have signed). I passed on it years ago because it was a little too expensive (basically the only difference is a "Cone Health" logo added), and now it doesn't seem to be available for sale anywhere.. except for as a team set, but that's a bit pricey (Jose Fernandez is the big name in the set). Oh well, it's not that interesting to me. I'm just happy I was able to complete the Bowman rainbow.

I also have a "yin" to this "yang" by way of Johnny's high school teammate, Travis Taijeron, whose only packed-out MLB card was an auto in 2018 Topps Chrome Update. So, only Chrome autos, opposed to Omahen's only paper autos. My Taijeron auto rainbow is just missing the red (non-wave) /5 and a couple printing plates. I can't find any stats for Travis since 2019, so it's safe to assume his time as a player is behind him. He made the show, though, playing in 26 games for the Mets in 2017, cracking one MLB home run to go along with 170 in the minors.

If TCDB can be trusted, Travis has 41 cards. I'll never have them all because he got Topps cards (Pro Debut and Heritage Minors) in 2012, both with printing plates that I have zero of. But not counting 1/1s, there are only 4 more Taijeron cards I'm missing. Also, I have 18 cards bearing Travis' signature (including a few of my customs), which I gotta assume is the most autos I have by one player, or at least near the top of such a list that might exist if I had my collection better cataloged and could therefore check.

With Travis riding off into the sunset, Granite no longer boasts any active players with MLB service time. Let's look to the minors now and see who could possibly be the next guy from Granite to get the call.

Welp, it won't be Jordan Verdon. He retired just before the start of the 2021 season. A 23rd round draft pick by Detroit in 2018, Jordan finishes his pro career with a .246 batting average and a lone home run in 84 games. Really sucks for guys like him that the 2020 MiLB season was canceled, stalling their attempt at climbing up the ladder. Glad he had the one card released (above), at least, so he can be represented in my collection (Bummer that my TTM attempt from 2019 [using a custom I made] didn't bear fruit). Best of luck in the next chapter of your life, Jordan!

Ooh, here's a new guy I wasn't familiar with until researching this post: Dillan Shrum. Dillan had a nice returning-senior season at University of Nevada in 2021 with an OPS of 1.490 in 35 games. Looks like he signed with the Royals as an undrafted free-agent and played in 17 professional games this season. I'll have to keep my eye on him (and hope he gets cards).

Like Dillan, Trenton Brooks is another guy who attended Nevada after Granite Hills (I think they narrowly missed being amateur teammates by a year). He's in the Cleveland chain, and looks like they moved him to first base from the outfield this year. After spending the first month of the season at AA, Trenton got promoted to AAA Columbus and held his own. Maybe-just-maybe he'll get into some mainstream card sets next year and challenge for a spot on the Guardians' 40-man roster. Good luck, Trenton!

Andrew Brown is another guy from Granite who saw a mid-season promotion this year, making the jump to AA after a strong showing in high-A. The Phillies farmhand seems to have been moved to the pen after being a starter much of his pro career. I'm sure Philadelphia is always hungry for live arms, so there should be solid odds on Andrew becoming the 9th player from our high school to crack the bigs. Fingers crossed for ya, Andrew!

Much of the minor league cards in this post were purchased from Go Sports Cards. They are one of the biggest sellers on eBay for modern minor league cards, though I've found you can usually save money by purchasing from their website. Anyways, for this year's order, I was accidentally sent a Ben Brown (not a Guy From Granite) from the 2021 Jersey Shore Blueclaws set, when I had actually ordered Andrew Brown. Joe, the card shop guy, was very responsive and put the correct card in the mail to me on the next business day. A+ service.

I'm glad Joe let me keep the Ben Brown card. I'm really amused that Ben's birthdate is 9-9-99. And on top of that, he's 6'6" (which upside-down is ,,9,9). (I'll even bet his favorite tv show is Brooklyn 99.) Looks like he missed most of 2021 due to injury. Let's hope he's got more of his 9 lives left and comes back strong in '22.

Go GHHS Eagles and thanks for stopping by.