Thursday, April 28, 2022

Cards! (Is a "1st Refractor" a thing?)

Here are some more cards recently added to my collection that I've been meaning to show off on the blog. 

You know how The Last Dance led to a surge in demand for Michael Jordan cards? Well, on a much smaller scale, Captain Ahab: The Story of Dave Stieb compelled me to get him better represented in my collection (I talked about this more a few posts back with his '04 Retired refractor). This is his 2003 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites Chrome Refractor. I love these things and want to snag a bunch more of my PC guys, but they're numbered out of 299, so availability and price are not always in the buyer's favor.

I also got his base card from the following year's ATFF set, filling up a Sportlots order from a couple weeks ago. And I knew I needed at least one example from his would-be swan-song short-term stop with the White Sox in '93 and thought going with O-Pee-Chee Premier was a cheeky choice.

If you haven't watched the doc yet and/or don't remember much of his career, spoiler alert: Like Jordan, Stieb returned from retirement and incredibly made it back to the top level after an extended stint away. As far as MLB pitchers, only Jim Bouton's 1978 comeback with the Braves makes for much of a comparison. Bouton dusted off his knuckleball for 5 games (all starts) after being out of the league for 7 years, while Stieb normal-pitched 19 games (3 starts) after 4 full seasons away. Sadly, doesn't look like the hobby got any cardboard documentation of his 1998 comeback besides a Syracuse Skychiefs minor league card which I was compelled to overpay for. According to TCDB, it's his last card before resurfacing with post-career cards in 2003: the aforementioned ATFF and an autograph in Topps Retired (He didn't have a base card in that first Retired set, just an auto and its refractor parallel [that I'm still on the hunt for].)

Kind of a tangent, but I predict collectors are one day going to start giving more respect to a player's "first refractor". I'm specifically talking about old-timers whose careers predated the refractor era (1993-present). Like, I could see a future where the earliest refractor card/parallel for a player is considered sort of a "1st Bowman" equivalent, or 1st Prizm card in other sports, or perhaps more like a modern "key card" complement to the player's vintage rookie card.

Or maybe not, but I don't care, I like them and plan to focus on refractors when it comes to building my "fan favorite" level PCs (HOFers are probably too expensive to worry about much.)

Anyways, Stieb's last year getting into mainstream baseball card sets as a player was 1993, and he didn't make it into Finest that year, meaning the card at the top of this post is his 1st Refractor™ (--or at least his 1st non-auto refractor; I couldn't find the release date for 2003 Topps Retired, but 2003 ATFF came out that May.)

Eric Owens is the first PC guy of mine I've singled out to try to collect all of his refractors. There's only 17, and this lot gets me to almost halfway. We've got another 1st Refractor™ here with his 1996 Finest bronze refractor parallel. (I'd like to get a dupe someday to peel off the protective film.)

Full disclosure, I'm not (yet) counting stuff like 1997 Donruss Limited "Limited Exposure" parallels as refractors even though they basically are, but not legally. Like how Panini Prizm doesn't actually have "refractors" but rather "prizms". At least for now, I'm just counting Topps/Bowman refractors. But chances are I'll eventually expand into other refractor-adjacent offerings and even colorful foil cards.

And then you've got sets like Archives Reserve and the first incarnation of Gold Label where all the base cards are actually refractors but they don't get referred to as refractors that often since that's all there is for those sets so it's redundant. But Eric Owens never appeared in either of those products, so it's moot in this instance. He does have a '97 Donruss Limited - Limited Exposure card that refracts, though.

More low-key guys I like to collect. That 1994 Finest isn't just Hendu's 1st Refractor™, it's his Only Refractor®. Seriously, do a search for "Dave Henderson refractor" and see if you can find any besides that one.

Ron Gant has a bunch of refractors out there, and I'll slowly pick up a few, like this one from 2000 Topps Chrome I got for a buck.

The Rod Beck is extra neat for me because my little hometown gets namechecked on the front. And I've now completed the rainbow of this map card-- "International parallel" as they're called:

Here's the foil (standard 1998 Bowman), plus the base parallel and refractor from Bowman Chrome. It was the last time Shooter made the Bowman checklist despite playing through 2004. That foil card is an example of why I clarified my interest in colorful foil cards, because drab, aluminum foil looking cards like this don't excite me much (nor do non-refractor Chrome cards like the middle card above, which just seem incomplete to me without a rainbow sheen to them).

Oh, speaking of refractor vs. foil. I was excited to hear Topps was bringing back their classic Black Gold design from 1993, among my all-time favorite inserts, in 2021 Topps Update. I won a couple lots on eBay, but haven't gotten around to picking up the last 10 or so I need (there are 25 total). Then I found out that they put Black Gold cards in 2021 Topps Chrome Update, too (30 total), and won one lot of those. The Chrome checklist is very similar but swaps out a couple players (and has a few added to the end), leading me to believe the Chrome cards were actually printed before the flagship Update cards based upon buzz of the players involved. Cody Bellinger is in Chrome, but his spot in the checklist goes instead to Jarred Kelenic in flagship Update (Bellinger had an awful 2021 season, so you can see why Topps would swap him out for a hot rookie). Luis Robert (who missed the entire 1st half of the 2021 season with an injury before returning with a great 2nd half) is in Chrome, but is replaced by teammate Andrew Vaughn (a rookie who made the club's opening day roster) in flagship's Update. Chrome cards take longer to make, as is my understanding, so it shouldn't be surprising that they had an earlier production deadline there, but just interesting to note. In the above pic, Chrome Update cards are on top. There are also parallels and autos, but I currently don't have the interest to pony up for them.

Neither version has the same magic for me as the originals (the non-Chrome version have a blotchy shiny layer covering the entire card for some reason; I guess they couldn't match the O.G. gold effect without resorting to shenanigans), but I like them enough to probably try to finish all 3 (base) iterations of this "1993 Black Gold" design eventually (still missing a few of the originals-- specifically Gwynn, Sandberg, Eck, and Big Mac). See also the 2019 Throwback Thursday cards using this design that aren't refractors and don't feature any foil, just straight glossy cardboard.

This post is getting a bit long, so I'll wrap up with some 2004 Topps Chrome black refractors. It's crazy, but somehow this is more or less a "front burner" setbuild for me these days (As is the case for many collectors, some sets just sit on my wantlist waiting for a heroic trader to come along and help me out, but some sets I actively search out cards for). And like with the other set I've been giving priority to lately, 1972 Topps, I recently crossed the 75% complete threshold. The biggest obstacle is looking like the Yadier Molina RC, with a PSA 8, I think it was, recently selling for about twice as much as I've ever spent on a card (and brother, I've spent a lot on a card a couple times), so looks like if I'm ever to complete this parallel set, it'll take a combination of a lot of luck and/or a severely burst hobby bubble. In the meantime, I'll secretly hope for Yadier to fall from grace due to an ugly scandal or something that would help make the card affordable, lol. But if I never fully complete the project, so be it; still fun to work on.

As for these latest additions to the build, the solid action photography looks great within the black rainbows, and you also get some old fashioned patriotism thanks to the American flag behind Eric Chavez plus Carl Everett's "Uncle Sam Wants You" pose. But the biggest name I've picked up recently:

Hall of Famer Roy Halladay.

And it's fitting this post is bookended by Dave Stieb and Roy Halladay, as Roy made his debut at the end of the '98 season just as Dave was saying goodbye (for reals this time). And there's a connection from the final day of the season that the Stieb doc highlights in its opening minutes, linking the pair of standout Blue Jay hurlers in a crazy way. 

That'll do it for now. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Desperate steps with '72 Topps

A recent sportlots order pushed me over 3/4 complete with 1972 Topps. I then decided to crank up the priority on this setbuild and take the plunge of raiding my player-collections to find needs.

Jackson, Clemente, and Wilhelm are "inner circle" names in my collection. It'd be tough for me to rank my PCs subjectively, but these three would surely be in my personal Top 10, perhaps even spending time in the top spot for a while. (Though these days Tony Gwynn is pretty much locked in as my #1.) So subtracting from the PCs is not a step taken lightly, but damn it, I'd really like to finish off '72 Topps soon and these cards aren't easy gets! In a perfect world I'll end up with dupes to replace these '72s in the PCs before long, but if it doesn't happen, I can live with that. Oh wait, just remembered Reggie is actually an upgrade; the lesser-condition card that was in the setbuild can now get bumped to the PC, preserving my complete career run of Reggie's base Topps cards. Not likely I'll ever achieve similar with Roberto and Hoyt thanks to their very expensive rookie cards, so I suppose it stings less to steal from those PCs. (If you missed it, my previous post told the story of acquiring Reggie's rookie).

Some more needs that were technically haves all along, with Clemente making another appearance (still never had his In Action card where he's apparently grimacing over a called third strike.) Turns out I have 2 of the NL HR leaders card; Hank Aaron PC gets the dupe, but Stargell could use one too.

Here's the sportlots haul. Hate paying a few bucks a pop for commons, but when going after '72 high numbers, it's just something you have to accept.

Here's the cream of the crop as far as my current trade bait goes. Perhaps somebody reading has a nice cache of '72 high numbers available and/or some of the big cards in the set I'm needing* and would be interested in working out a deal involving any of these autos.

* such as #49 Willie Mays, 299 Hank Aaron, 300 Hank Aaron IA, 310 Roberto Clemente IA, 550 Brooks Robinson, 559 Pete Rose, 595 Nolan Ryan, 600 Al Kaline, 620 Phil Niekro, 686 Steve Garvey, 695 Rod Carew, 696 Rod Carew IA, 751 Steve Carlton TR, 752 Joe Morgan TR, 754 Frank Robinson TR, 761 Ben Oglivie/Ron Cey RC.

Anyhoo, here's the link to my 1972 Topps needs spreadsheet.. feel free to get in touch regarding a trade.

How about you guys? What are your thoughts about raiding PCs (or team sets or whatever) to get cards for a set you're working on? Do you have steadfast guidelines regarding what gets priority, or do you take it on a case-by-case basis?

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Reggie Jackson rookie I've had a long time

I don't think I've ever gotten around to featuring it on the blog before, but here's the crown jewel of my childhood collection, a 1969 Topps Reggie Jackson rookie card.

Pulls to the left, but otherwise cherry all the way.

Clean back.

This was my no-doubt "best card" since the day I got it circa 1992 until returning to the hobby as an adult a couple decades later and ponying up for the likes of a vintage Mantle or two, then later falling into the trap of certified autographs.

Over the years I've forgotten what exactly the sticker price my local card shop, PB's Baseball Cards, was asking, but needless to say it was a lot. Nevertheless I somehow eventually talked my mom into buying it for me with an agreement in place. Again, I don't recall the details, but I was doing extra chores for months and likely had my allowance garnished for a long while till I balanced the books on that deal.

I was bummed years later when in the eBay era this card could be had for a fraction of what it cost me as a kid. But in hindsight, I probably shouldn't regret it too much. I had a fine relationship with the shop owner, Paul, and was lucky to have a solid card shop just about a 5-minute walk from home where I could grab the latest Beckett and a couple packs of whatever set was calling to me when I had money burning a hole in my pocket. Glad I could help keep him around! The shop closed down not long after I stopped collecting; coincidence?! lol

For the longest time, I had Reggie slabbed for safety in this screwdown complete with rub-on lettering by yours truly, but I've heard this style is bad because there's no indentation for the card so it ends up getting squished over time. If the card gets too flattened, it could go "out of spec" and grading companies don't like that. I've still yet to ever submit a card for grading, so it's not that big of deal to me, but figured I'd finally transfer Reggie to a top-loader anyways. It's not as fancy, but he's not being squeezed. Plus, the second G is now mostly scratched off the case, anyways, and I realize that I had it backwards (screw heads on the wrong side).

I threw a custom into my old "REGGIE" case since why not. Oriole Reggie always fascinates me.

That's it for this time.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Bubble Gum Baseball (9-card custom set)

Once I finally got back into the groove of making customs earlier this year, my first order of business was to make a few cards with bubble-blowing photos for Bob at Best Bubble, whom I needed to thank for some cards he sent me spread over the prior several months.

Usually when I make customs, I'm borrowing a known design, like a classic Topps design or something oddball from the junk era. But I decided to try coming up with a "new" design for this project. That's not my strong suit, but I think the cards came out pretty decent. I like going with 9 cards total for convenient paging.

This is a fun group of cards, yeah?

My "new design" ended up looking like more of a mashup, but with the thousands of sets out there at this point, it's not easy to come up with something fresh. Can you identify some familiar aspects? Here's a closer look:

The name plate area is an allusion to the packaging of Big League Chew, while at the same time paying homage to my personal favorite Topps flagship set, 1973. I decided to use the color dot to roughly match team color rather than keep it assigned by position, mainly because I knew I'd end up with several outfielders and I wanted more variety than a bunch of green dots.

The Bubble Gum Baseball logo is a little busy, but it provides all the backstory you need to understand what the set is all about. (I tried seeing how it looked without it, but it made things look a little too straight "1973 Topps" [instead of the subtle "1973 Topps" look I was going for].)

I'm not taking these to a professional printshop or anything, just using photo paper on my streaky old Canon home printer, so they're not perfect-- the digital files look better than the printed versions-- but good enough.

The backs have a little write-up captioning the front picture, often revealing added significance to them, such as the fact that the Trout photo was taken during warm-ups before his very first game in the bigs.

The first 6 of these were made a month or two ago, and then more recently I finished out the page with the bottom 3. My plan is to stop here, at least for this year, but may whip up a "Series 2" next year if there's interest. I would likely tweak the design a bit for future editions, but keeping a similar look.

Want any of these in your own collection? I don't sell customs, but can usually be talked into trading. My top priority at the moment is 1972 Topps baseball. If you've got any 1972 Topps on my wantlist available-- especially high numbers-- I'd be interested in working out a trade with you. I'm still aiming to finish 1972 by the end of the year-- you know, to commemorate its anniversary or whatever-- preferably through trading more than purchasing, and you can expect to see more "trade bait" on the blog fishing for '72s coming up this year. So when you guys go to card shows or whatever, keep an eye out for good deals on '72 high numbers to get and then trade to me! lol

Oh, and there's a special parallel. Get ready for this.

I haven't actually finished creating them yet, but each card theoretically may have a pink parallel. But the color of the border isn't the main draw with these parallels. I think I'm still in the "prototype" stage with these, but if Blogger with cooperate and let me share a video, it'll give you an idea of what I'm going for...

There's a "real bubble"! Let's see Topps or Panini do that! I gotta say, the bubble is fun to play with.. just squeezing it a little and knocking it around for a moment is very satisfying. It'll most likely deflate over time, but my earliest tests from over a couple months ago are still looking just as good, so hopefully plenty of time goes by before the bubble goes flat. I toyed with shoving in a cotton ball to help it keep its integrity long term, but that makes it clumpy and less fun. So I guess I'll just consider them "living" cards that may change over time as the bubble slowly deflates.

These pink parallel bubble cards are a pain to make, so forgive me for being stingy with trading them, but you could pry one away from me if you happen to have '72 Topps superstars I need. (I'd specifically love to score any of these big needs: 49 Willie Mays, 299 Hank Aaron, 300 Hank Aaron IA, 309 Roberto Clemente, 310 Roberto Clemente IA, 550 Brooks Robinson, 559 Pete Rose, 595 Nolan Ryan, 600 Al Kaline, 620 Phil Niekro, 686 Steve Garvey, 695 Rod Carew, 696 Rod Carew IA, 751 Steve Carlton TR, 752 Joe Morgan TR, 754 Frank Robinson TR, 761 Ben Oglivie/Ron Cey RC, 777 Hoyt Wilhelm.)

As for the base cards, I've got 3 complete sets ready to go and could crank out singles for team/player collectors if there's interest. Just check out my wantlist and feel free to get in touch with any trade offers.


Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Dave Stieb 2004 Topps Retired refractor.. from a while back

Captain Ahab: The Story of Dave Stieb is a new 4-part documentary up on YouTube. Oh man.. So, so good. I knew of Dave Stieb as arguably the best pitcher of the 80s yet who often got short-changed, but the doc shines light on some incredible storylines that either slipped by most baseball fans or were quickly forgotten as the game of baseball rolled along. I don't watch much sports-related stuff on YouTube these days, and my attention span for "deep dives" makes it tough for me to stick with longer stuff like this, but this was right up my alley. It balanced stats and humanity of the game well, with countless fascinating coincidences and one-in-a-million outcomes peppering the path of Stieb's unlikely career.

There's heartbreak, with Stieb having some brutal hard-luck baseball moments, and not getting a whole lot of respect outside of Toronto despite modern stats showing he deserved better, particularly in regards to Cy Young voting. But by the end I was misting up a little with happy tears. It's just a great baseball story and well-told by the guys at Dorktown/Secret Base.

But dang it.. I, too, am guilty of slighting Dave Stieb. 

Over the history of this blog, it's been my M.O. to do a post featuring any new 2004 Topps Retired refractor auto as I get them. They've been my top collecting goal of the past several years, so it's always a big deal for me to knock another name off the list (Currently down to just Trammell). But back in September of 2016 when I harpooned "Captain Ahab" here... welp, that happened to arrive just as a big COMC delivery was being parsed through, and left me with too many things to blog about and eventually refractor Dave just got filed away without ever getting the salute on the blog he was due.

Better late than never, right?!

A beauty, no doubt. Early, pre-stache photos on the front and back.

While the doc may have helped push Stieb's name back into baseball nerd conversations, doesn't look like his hobby love has seen much of a bump. But perhaps the members of the Hall of Fame's Modern Baseball committee will catch the doc and help atone for the sins of baseball writers past by at least giving him a closer look and seeing the story beyond what the back of a baseball card can tell you, and who knows, maybe they'll even let Dave slip into Cooperstown along with should-be-shoo-ins Lou Whitaker and Bobby Grich. But I hate getting too hung up on tired HOF debates. Bottom line is I'd recommend any baseball fan check out the documentary if you're into that sort of thing.

Part 1

Friday, April 8, 2022

This Bud's for me (Whoa Bundy!-- up to 3 Married With Children autos)

My project of compiling a set of Bundy family "1989 Pro Set" autographs took another step towards completion with the recent addition of David Faustino.

To refresh your memory, I ponied up for a Leaf autograph of Ed O'Neill last year after long pining away for an "Al Bundy football card autograph", and later made a matching custom overlay for a Christina Applegate auto card I picked up. And now I've gone and done the same for Mr. Faustino.

The border matching the green ink is a nice touch, eh? This wasn't my first photo choice, but the auto sticker placement smack dab in the middle of the card presented challenges, and ended up not working with the first few photos I tried. But then this one did the trick, even though I had to fudge it a little by popping the top of his head out of the design.

David Faustino has kept working over the years, but nothing close to as high-profile as his stint as Bud Bundy. Nice to see he and Christina both survived the "child actor curse" relatively unscathed.

For reference, here's the original card, still untouched beneath the custom overlay. It's not a bad picture, but definitely post-MWC. I was maybe a tiny bit bummed to cover up the memorabilia star, but won't be losing any sleep over it.

The card ran me about the ol' "price of a blaster" shipped and the seller even threw in the like-new one-touch. Also worth noting that the card is serial-numbered out of 200 on the back but the listing neglected to mention it. Works for me.

Now the elephant in the room is Katey Sagal as Peg. Here's what eBay currently has available, sorted by cheapest:

Yep, the cruel irony is that the least-expensive of her auto cards all horizontal, on-card autographs... which under normal circumstances I would much prefer over any stickergraph. But for this particular project, a horizontal card would just be too awkward to try morphing into a 1989 Pro Set card. She does have some stickergraphs on the market that would work, though, so I'll just have to have some patience for one to show up at a decent asking price. Hopefully that doesn't take too long and I'm able to wrap up this project soon.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Cards, photos, and some whining

I sort of haven't really posted here in a month, seeing as the dumb April Fools post and most of the Sunlight vs. Cards post were drafted earlier in the year, before my previous post which was back on March 6th. Back then we were still in the thick of the MLB lockout, so a lot has happened since! 

I've started a new post a few times since then, but with the exception of the latest 1991 MusiCards Blog post, they've devolved into long ramblings whenever I try to type up a little "How I've been doing lately" section and then I'm not happy with it just scrap it and eventually start over a few days later. But the bottom line is I've "stepped back" a bit, specifically from Twitter. Thanks to the social media hiatus, I'm more out-of-the-loop than I'm used to being, but my anxiety levels are much more manageable.

Anyways, here are a few recent pickups of mine.

I've got an eBay search set for a few "big cards" I still need for my 2004 Chrome black parallel set that keeps crawling along. Big Papi is a good one to secure, and of course '04 was a big season for him and the Sox.

And then, for much cheaper, I bought this Jason Bay card I needed. And it's signed, to boot. I'm in no way trying for a signed complete set of these, but like having some signatures sprinkled in.

I got the base version of this Juan Soto Overdrive insert from Kerry recently and I liked it so much, I went and sniffed out a good deal on a shiny parallel, snagging this "blue velocity" for less than a couple bucks shipped.

Another blogger-inspired pick-up, Bo showed off this minor league Willie McGee on his blog a couple months back. I hadn't realized McGee had a card from his days as a Yankee farmhand, and thought it was cool enough to keep an eye out and eventually landed myself one.

Random photo break:

Nice shot of Ruby displaying the advanced move of panting while also still chewing on her ball.

Here's the swamp monster working on infield drills.

One day the sun bounced off the brake light of a car parked outside that shot some crazy red light through the blinds for a spell. (And in light of my last post regarding sun and cards, I'm getting nervous about my Goonies display and might have to rotate in something else for that spot soon.)

Back to cards, this isn't just any ol' beat-up '64 Topps Choo Choo Coleman, but rather...

..My first Venezuelan card! I suppose this can be counted as yet another blogger-inspired purchase. Brian at Completely Subjective has been working on the set and shows off a few from time to time. I basically sorted by cheapest available and found one that caught my eye. Coleman didn't have much of a career, best remembered as a member of the hapless '62 Mets, but the fun nickname helped push him over the top here. Plus, turns out spot #251 is open in my Vintage Frankenset, so it's got an official place in my collection and everything.

Picked up a sweet addition for my Eric Owens PC numbered out of 25 (but not the xmas card, sadly). With modern non-star players like this that I collect, I've decided I'd like to start focusing on refractors. TCDB lists 245 total cards for Owens, with just 17 of those being refractors. Unless I really get obsessive about it, I'm not likely to ever acquire all 245 of his cards, but finding 17 of them is much more realistic, especially when you consider that the lowest-numbered of those 17 cards is pictured above, so it should be downhill from here. (Seems he retired right before the Superfractor era, luckily for me, so no 1/1s to worry about. [Like, literally, his final Chrome card was the last release before Topps started including superfractors.])

Here's a photo of my "Sign Here" minicollection, with Jon Peters being the latest addition. He's a slimy Hollywood bigshot who's been involved with making such films as A Star Is Born (1976) and Batman (1989), in addition to Wild Wild West (1999) where this card originates. I tweeted out this pic and it went viral by my standards. It's funny because sometimes I tweet out something I think is gold and it ends up with maybe 1 or 2 likes. And then there are the rare times a throwaway tweet gets retweeted by more popular accounts and ends up "doing numbers". But yeah, my anxiety had been running high already, and I was like "Nope!" ..more attention from strangers than I was comfortable with at the time, and it ultimately shook me off the app for at least a while. But I think it was the right choice and my mental health quickly began improving. I'm mentioning it here not to make a big deal out of it, but mostly to give a heads up that I might not be very responsive these days if you tag me or message me on Twitter.

Random backdrop for this one ("came with the frame"), but I hope Gavin Sheets makes a big splash this season. Haven't seen confirmation he made the team out of spring training yet, but hope so. This Christmas Card from last year's Topps Now "set" sat on my watchlist for a while until a seller offer and eBay Bucks promotion combined for a better deal. I'm on the fence about chasing any of his 2022 cards, but yeah, he's one of the few active players who's still kinda got my interest.

While the April Fools post was scheduled months in advance, I made a pop tart twizzlers sandwich again for dessert that night, as it seemed like the right thing to do. This one got kicked up with a few gummy bears. And this is just one example of the over-the-top desserts I enjoy on a regular basis. (Perhaps improving my diet could help improve how I feel? Yeah, probably.)

Another cute dog pic. I love the shit-for-brains, but she's a lot. Always looking for action, with near limitless energy. Unlike my previous dogs, she adds to my anxiety more than she soothes it, thanks to constantly being up in my shit. She gets plenty of playtime and attention, but it's tough to tucker her out, even with multiple doggie daycare days per week. Hoping she chills out as she gets older.

Neat shot of a hummingbird flying off just as I was taking a photo of it at the feeder.

Probably a good one to end on. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Sunlight vs Cards (research on fading)

The dormant Pack War blog by Corky used to do a neat series of "things done to cards (so you don't have to)" or something like that where he'd bury a card in the ground for a year to see what happens to it.. stuff like that.

Along those lines, I wanted to do some first-hand experiments taking a look at the effects of sunlight on trading cards.

Back on 2/28/2021, I placed a duplicate of Tony Gwynn's 1989 Upper Deck in a window that gets a lot of direct sunlight, curious to see how faded it'd get after a year. I took a photo a year later on 2/28/22:

Would you look at that? Old Mr. Sun seems to have bleached away most the magenta and yellow ink, leaving the card black & blue. I think it's pretty cool, and filed away the unofficial blue parallel in my Gwynn PC.


Not too long after putting the 89UD card on the windowsill, I got creative with another "card in the sun" idea. This time I blocked part of the card to try to limit the sun-bleaching to a certain area. I wanted to make a 1990 Donruss card look like there was a "vision beam" from Tony's eyes. I'm sure there are more interesting things that could be done with this concept (like, stencil out a Padres logo over the card or something?), but hey, it's just a rough test.

Oof. I should have anticipated that baking painters tape for several months in the sun would have an adverse effect on it. Ended up with too much paper loss to consider the experiment a success, but at least now I know not to use tape with things like this in the future. (And yep, I've already got a couple new Gwynn dupes messing around on the windowsill, so check back in a year or so to see how they turn out.) 

The "vision beam" came out alright, though it looks more like it's coming from Tony's earflap than his eyes. ("Hearing beam"? Was the secret to Tony's success that he used sonar to echolocate the ball? lol)


Finally, I've been intrigued by how the ink on Topps Retired autographs seems to vary with cards on the secondary market. This auto-per-pack product had 3 releases, 2003-2005, and has been a collecting focus of mine for years, as regular readers know. I've busted my share of this product over the years and every "pack fresh" Retried auto I've ever seen features a signature in bright blue Sharpie, though I've seen several on the secondary market that have duller blue ink, often close to black, and sometimes even ostensibly "black ink" autos that have faded significantly. Funny thing is I don't recall ever seeing any faded blue autos (or bold black ink autos), so this effect is most likely due to sun exposure.

Experiment begun 2/1/22 - no difference in ink

I chose 2003 Bill "Moose" Skowron as my guinea pig because it seems to be the cheapest and easiest to find of the Retired autos. Plus I happen to have 2 good copies of it, so one can be kept in the dark as the control. Scientific! It's my hypothesis that the bright blue ink will eventually become darker, likely appearing to eventually "change" to black ink as it fades. The above photo shows identical ink appearance on the 2 autos as of the evening of February 1st, 2022. The encased card is the control and the loose card was put in the window moments after this shot was taken.

[... time passes ...]

Yep, after just one month (--at that, February, a short, cloudy month--), the ink has definitely darkened somewhat.

[...More time passes as this post sits in my "drafts"...]

Wow, not even to the 2-month point yet, but the ink has deteriorated a lot since the previous check-in. Now the ink does in fact look closer to black sharpie than blue, and the last name especially has begun fading away. A rise of sunny springtime days likely contributed to the accelerated impact.

Since the card is toast already, I suppose I'll leave it out indefinitely in the interest of curiosity. By the end of the year, I'd expect the signature to be barely visible and we'll eventually see the rest of the card start to fade. However, all Topps Retired autos are on Chrome stock, and-- scribbled Sharpie ink aside-- Chrome cards seem to be more resistant to the elements than standard paper cards. Keep in mind that when Moose jotted down that particular "on card" signature two decades ago, it wasn't a cardboard surface he was pressing that felt-tip onto, but rather (I'm paraphrasing here, but it's something like) a thin sheet of plastic covering layered ink printed in reverse affixed to a foil layer backing, and some cardboard mixed in and on the back. So I won't expect it to look as "bad" as the earlier '89 Upper Deck Gwynn ended up after a year, but I guess we'll see. (Funny to note that Chrome card technology was pitched to Upper Deck first, but I guess the money wasn't right for them and they passed, but Topps signed on instead and ended up getting revenge for the whole 1989 "premium card" disruption once Finest refractors began heating up the pages of Beckett.)

Wrapping up here, a takeaway from this post is to be careful when displaying cards. Ha, "no duh", but the sun can potentially do a number on them before too long. Even in a place that gets much less sun than a windowsill can still do damage over time. For me, with any cards I'd be concerned about replacing ($$$/low print run/etc), I try not to display for long. Maybe put a nice card on the display shelf for a couple weeks, focus a satisfied glance on it occasionally during its "time in the sun" (if you'll excuse the phrase), and then file it away in the dark for storage after a bit. And just like rotate cards out like that. One idea I've thought of but haven't really gotten around to is to take a photo with some of my best cards laid out, then use the photo as my desktop background pic or something... then you get to admire the cards frequently while the actual cards are safely stored away. Another strategy is to cover up cards on display during the time you're not actively appreciating them, like drape a little cloth over a card when you're not actually hanging out in that area. Humblebrag, but I like to put a pack of sticky notes or something over my Roberto Clemente autograph when heading out at the end of the day when I've got it displayed at my desk at work. It's not in a spot that gets much sun, but still.. don't want that baby fading! (though in that instance, it's a pencil autograph, and the effects of sunlight on pencil seems like a whole 'nother experiment.) 

Thanks for reading... Hope this post was informative and entertaining so those 3 baseball cards weren't "destroyed" in vain! :)

Friday, April 1, 2022

A delicious new direction for the blog

Welp, longtime readers know this has been coming for a while now. 

Yep, I've decided to make it official and convert Baseball Card Breakdown from a cardblog to a foodie blog called Baseball Card Breakfast. Going forward, I'll put aside the cardboard and instead showcase exciting delicacies to make your mouth water.

Today's menu item is a Pop Tart Twizzler Sandwich.


- Pop Tarts or storebrand equivalent (x2 pastries)
- Twizzlers (x3 ropes)
- Fruity Pebbles (1/4 cup cereal)

Cut (3) Twizzlers in half and place them on a piece of aluminum foil and put that on a skillet on the stove on medium-low heat for a few minutes. Don't overcook them, we're just softening them up a bit. 

I like to toast my Pop Tarts while the Twizzlers are on the stove. You'll probably want a fruity variety of Pop Tart for this, such as Strawberry. In this example, I've used a Cherry pairing from the storebrand box of pastry treats.

If you've got any Fruity Pebbles cereal on hand, go ahead and sprinkle some onto the sandwich to add a satisfying crunch. You could also substitute similar fruity cereal such as Trix or Crunch Berries.

Slap on the other Pop Tart and you're good to go. It'll likely be crumbly, especially if you've toasted the tarts, so this is one sandwich you may want to eat with a fork. Optionally, garnish with a scoop or two of ice cream.

Real talk: If you're watching your caloric intake, this might not be the snack for you. I haven't done the math on it, but a licensed nutritionist would likely dissuade you from making Pop Tart Twizzler Sandwiches a regular part of your diet. Still though, for a special occasion, it's a wonderful treat. Maybe do a few jumping-jacks afterwards to balance out the health implications.

Happy Eating and remember to come back for more incredible food creations here on Baseball Card Breakfast!