Friday, June 24, 2022

Refractor Friday #2: 2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites gold Mike Norris

It seems 2005 is the year that someone at Topps presented Michael Eisner with a memo saying "More parallels = more money?" which he signed off on and the hobby has been swimming in parallels ever since. Sure, parallels had been around for years before that here and there, but seem 2005 is when they said "screw it" and made sure every new product had a full slate of "parallels for the sake of parallels" to chase.

In one such new parallel introduced that year, All-Time Fan Favorites added gold refractors numbered /25. My recent love affair with ATFF refractors caused me to check out some and I ended up pulling the trigger on this example. All the gold goes nicely with the A's colors, and in addition to liking the look of the front, the back numbering sealed the deal...

Christmas Card! By the way, today is my half-birthday. Yep, we're halfway to Christmas already.

I gotta admit I don't know much about Mike Norris. He had that 22-win season in 1980 (AL Cy runner-up), though other than that his career doesn't seem too notable. Well, I'm intrigued by the 1990 comeback. That's not a case of Fan Favorites leaving off stats from another team-- Norris spent his entire MLB career with Oakland. Looks like he had been knocked out of the game due to injuries and drug issues in the mid 80s. Cool that he was able to successfully make his way back to the Bigs and contribute to a club that went on to win the pennant. Wikipedia notes he's the only pitcher to get a win for Oakland in three different decades.

Here's another shot of the front blaring beautifully in the sun.

Thanks for joining me for another round of refraction appreciation!

Bonus PWE contest thing time... 

Nobody guessed last week's winning number. [sad trombone] We were looking for 128. I thought with the hints provided, cardboard detectives would have narrowed it down to about 30-something possible correct answers, and ~30 entrants seemed about the expected turnout for a contest. But you know, I didn't really pimp the contest at all, instead keeping it low-key, and there weren't a whole lot of entrants-- which is fine, but I'll have to adjust. So now..

I'm hoping to get a pair of winners this week to help make up for last week. Those 2 green prizm cards are both /35. So if you want to win 4 cards from the prize pool, just pick a number between 1-35 in the comments below. There are 2 possible winning numbers, and heck between you and me, I'll even tell ya they're both even. Only your first guess counts (sorry guys, no "oops, I meant...") and anonymous guesses need your city included in the comment to authenticate.

Thanks, good luck, and have a great weekend!

Friday, June 17, 2022

Refractor Friday #1: 2004 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites Andre Dawson

Happy Refractor Friday.. here we go!

2004 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites #29 Andre Dawson refractor parallel.

Here's another view of it. It's a nice looking card. 

I really like refractors like these, as with Heritage, where they've got the "vintage" paper feel to the backs (that is, matte instead of glossy). Perhaps anachronistic, to drop a big word, but I like it paired with a refractor front.

A minor pet peeve with Topps All-Time Fan Favorites is how on the back they ignore other teams the guy played with, like how this card doesn't include Dawson's stats with the Cubs and later stops of his career. Just seems like they're trying too hard to be team-centric, such as how that blurb really didn't need "as an Expo" tacked on the end.

But yeah, I've been smitten with ATFF refractors lately, keeping an eye out for low-priced examples, and this Andre is one such score. Funny how even though I don't chase current cards, I always seem to find new old cards to get excited about collecting. (If you have any ATFF refractors available, I'd love a shot at working out a trade.)

Pretty sure Topps has used this same photo on several Andre Dawson cards over the years, and if I had more time I might try digging around to find some more examples. But hey, the goal is to keep these Refractor Fridays posts quick and easy, so I'll simply reiterate that it's a nice card and call it good.

Thanks for admiring that neat refractor with me. I was originally gonna call these posts something like "Refraction Appreciation Society" posts or something like that, but Refractor Friday does the job at half the price.

By the way, have you checked out the new Prize Pool yet? Probably nothing that'll blow you away, but a decent selection of various cards available for lucky winners to choose from. 

This Bobby Jenks Bowman X-fractor leads off the first "page" of refractors available in the pool. 
Let's take a look at the back-- oh no!

Looks like some bad hombre passed out drinking a 40, rudely obscuring the back of card.

There are 172 of this particular Bobby Jenks parallel in existence. Which serial number in the print run do you think this one is? First correct answer in the comments below wins their pick of any 4 cards from the prize pool mailed PWE to the US-based address of their choice. Anonymous comments need to include your city to be eligible-- for example, "My guess is 1, signed Dave in Flagstaff"-- to discourage any funny business. But yeah, just pick a number between 1 and 172. I could EVEN give you another hint to make it easier, but is that even necessary? wink wink, lol. Then check back next week to see if you won and we'll play a new round of guess-the-number.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Nine Years

The company I work for recently got a new CEO. I had only recently started when the prior CEO took over, so it's weird to think I'm entering my 3rd leadership era at the company. I'm also now the longest-tenured member of my manager's team, which is crazy because feels like I was the "new guy" just a little while ago.

As my blog hits 9 years running, it's a similar feeling of looking up and realizing I've been around for a few big changes on the cardblogging scene.. though for the most part, I'm still just doing my thing in the corner, weathering some ups and downs, keepin' on keepin' on the best I can.

But yeah, glad I've been able to reach 9 years as an active blogger. Let's hope I make it another 365 days and hit a full decade on the cardsphere. That'd be cool.

"Yeah, yeah, what about a contest?"

This post here isn't a contest, but I'm happy to announce that we'll be celebrating all summer with a string of little contest/giveaways, aided by a revamped Prize Pool open for business and restocked with potentially interesting cards available to be claimed by lucky winners.

Doubling as an effort to up my frequency of posts during these often overwhelming times for me, I'm starting a weekly series of posts called Refractor Fridays. It'll be a simple post each Friday where I show off a cool refractor and say a little something about it, easy-peasy. And then at the bottom of all (most?) of those posts will be a simple "guess the serial number" contest. The first person to correctly guess the number gets to pick 4 cards from the prize pool for a nice 4-card PWE mailed to the US-based address of their choice. If no one has won by, say, the following Thursday, that contest could end without a winner, but then that following (Refractor) Friday's post would have another contest, and they'd get progressively easier (more hints as to the winning number) to make sure we get plenty of winners, but I will not be doing "closest answer wins" because I refuse to do any math. Only your first guess counts, but again, you can probably play again the next week.

So that's the plan, and hopefully it gets a good response and we can have some fun and I can spread around some cool cards in celebration of 9 years blogging. It might not be as ambitious as recent blog anniversary blowouts by the likes of Dime Boxes or Night Owl Cards where they gave-away big stacks of cards to several lucky winners... but hey, give me credit for at least trying to send out a few free PWEs to brighten my readers' day! Haha. I'm not exactly sure how many of these I'll do, but since it's anniversary #9, I'll aim for (at least) nine weekly contests.

Check back Friday when we kick off the festivities!

p.s. Some of you may want to comment well-wishes on this post-- Thanks in advance for any kind words! I'm very appreciative of you readers, especially the ones who comment sometimes. I know I'm not great about replying to comments, but they sure are appreciated and I wouldn't have stuck with this blog so long without this great community of fine folks who've come and gone over the years. The hobby can get gross and bad sometimes, but stick to the blogs and it's really not too hard to keep having fun. At least that's been my experience!

p.p.s. Oh, here's a question that you might also be kind enough to answer in the comments. If you've taken a look at the current prize pool, please let me know if you have any constructive feedback. Does the variety look ok? What type of cards would you like to see more options of? If you check out the current options and think to yourself "nothing for me here", perhaps give me an idea of the type of realistic PWE-caliber cards I could try to add to the pool to interest you.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Catching up with the Classics: 1989 Pink/Blue

My previous post took a look at a Classic set from 1990, and now I'm going back another year, opening a box from 1989.

Comes in a full board game style box. I scored a good deal on this at just $19.99 shipped. Poor seller went with UPS and probably lost money on shipping, but I won't feel too bad for him because the schmuck also used new USPS Priority Mail padded envelopes to cut up for packing material, which I'm pretty sure constitutes a federal crime. But it arrived safe, so that's good. It was still sealed, though I removed the wrap before snapping the above photo.

Despite their "junky" reputation, I don't think I've already got any of these cards, so there should be plenty of keepers for my collection. Classic releases can be confusing, what with various "travel editions" and whatnot, but as for 1989, it's one 200-card set spread over 3 products. Looking it up now, COMC and Sportlots got it wrong (calling everything "travel edition"), but TCDB has it figured out:

Cards 1-100 were part of the Board Game, cards 101-150 were part of the Travel Game I, and cards 151-200 were part of the Travel Game II.

The 3 chunks of the checklist share a similar design but with different colors...
1-100 "flagship" (pink/blue)
101-150 "update 1" (orange/purple)
151-200 "update 2" (grey/purple)

Opening it up, here's what you get. This board doesn't look as nice as the Classic board from 1991 that I turned into a wall display, but I might end up doing something creative with this one, too. (Nothing in mind yet.)

If you feel like skimming through the rules, here ya go:

As the little note in the spine indicates, the real star of the show here are the baseball cards, wrapped in two packs of 50 cards each.

Cover boys look good this time, without noticeable wear to complain about.

A few random highlights.
Bo has effectively called dibs on that stretch-tastic Luis Salazar. Plenty of other commons up for trade, too, so let me know if you wanna swing a swap for any needs of yours.
Something seems off with that Ron Gant photo/uniform, yeah?

No Griffey within these 100 cards, but a couple HOF rookies in Biggio and Big Unit. (I think the only card from 1989 Classic I already had is the Junior rookie from the orange/purple update portion of the set, scored long ago in a childhood trade. One of these days I should do a post with the few "good Griffeys" that were a crown jewel of my collection back in the early 90s.)

The backs seem to have been inspired by the perennial Donruss backs of the era, but notably with a section for trivia questions. No cartoon on the back, but to provide you a laugh, Classic pulled a funny joke implying that kids would get that card's featured player to sign his name in a little box at the bottom of the card back. Heck, I'll bet it's even actually happened once or twice over the years!

No but seriously, I bet it'd be fun to play a round of the game with a friendly group of likeminded baseball nerds. Find out who really knows their baseball history. Questions regarding all-time/single-season records may be outdated for the most part, but I suppose folks could simply add the phrase "As of 1989" as needed if you'd actually try to play the game today.

Oh, and I love the 1988 stat line for Pete Rose, who took his final MLB hacks on August 17, 1986, and was not long for the dugout by this time.

Alright, that's about all I've got to say about this Classic set, and not sure if I'll be "catching up" with any more after this, but maybe someday. As far as older Classic baseball card sets, the original board game from 1987 (dark green borders) sells for around $100+ these days thanks in part to a cool Bo Jackson card featuring a bat-barrel pose whilst dressed up in his Auburn football duds. Then there was a yellow "travel" update that year, including a Barry Bonds rookie and "outlaw" cards such as the Andre Dawson getting plunked and Joe Niekro getting busted for doctoring the ball. Classic put out more cards in 1988: a couple "travel edition" updates to the main 1987 board game, utilizing that same design, but changing the border color to blue for one update set and red for the other. That explains why the box at the top of the post refers to itself as "New Second Edition".. it's the 5th release of Classic baseball cards, but just the 2nd release of the full-sized game. Then there's 1990 and 1991 that I've already blogged about. By the 90s, Classic (Classic/Best) was getting more into draft picks and minor league cards that didn't bother asking questions on the back, but they still also released versions of the baseball trivia game in '92 and '93.

Sometimes I randomly throw a cute Ruby pic on the end of my posts, and this is another such time.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Catching up with the Classics: 1990 Yellow

Buying current card product to open isn't really my thing anymore but I occasionally get a ripping fix elsewhere. For example back in January 2021 I opened a 1991 Classic box. I recently went back to that well and found a couple more inexpensive Classic offerings that were still sealed. Let's work backwards and hit the one I scored from 1990.

1991 Fleer might be the best known too-much-yellow baseball card set from the junk wax era, but 1990 Classic beat them to the punch. The side dashes also predate 1991 Donruss, though I suppose both owe something to 1988 Fleer. I didn't take any pictures of the non-card stuff in this game box, but yeah, you get two sealed stacks of cards.

Residing on the top of a stack, Junior unfortunately had his upper left corner ravaged, and judging by the photo, he's not happy about it. That's another cool thing about Classic.. they'd occasionally use a semi "controversial" image that the major card manufactures at the time might shy away from. (Andre Dawson getting plunked comes to mind.) But yeah, other than that one dinged corner, the cards were all as mint as expected.

Some more highlights. I really like how Cobra's bat is synced up with the design's dashes. The teenager with Nolan on the "Texas Heat" card is his son, Reid. The Rangers actually did eventually draft him in 1994, fulfilling the prophecy of this card to some degree. He had a solid pro debut, putting up a 2.90 ERA in 83.2 low-A innings that year, but struggled the following season and soon became an executive who's worked with the Rangers and Astros.

Doing some research to wrap my head around the wild west overproduction era.. It gets a little confusing with all the sets that Classic put out around this time, but as far as using this general '90 design, here's what's out there:

1990 Classic Blue (Total Cards: 150) - Being the largest, I suppose the blue one is their "flagship" set?
1990 Classic Yellow (Total Cards: 100) - like their "Series 2"? Released later in the year.
1990 Classic Update [hot pink] (Total Cards: 50) - The year's "Travel Edition", I believe.
1990 Classic Draft Picks [grey marble] (Total Cards: 25) - I bought this little clamshell-cased set as a kid (via mail order?) and think I might still have it somewhere.

I guess maybe someday I'd like to pick up the blue and hot pink versions to round things out for me, but then again, I'm not in it for the complete sets; I'm cherry-picking out PC guys I need and the rest of the cards are up for trade. (Anybody need any yellow '90 Classic commons?)

No doubt these are the "big money" cards in the set.. the ones that you probably wouldn't feel right leaving behind in a dimebox. Frank Thomas already had his draft pick cards cluttering Beckett's Hot List at the time, but Chipper Jones didn't get mainstream cards till 1991, so Classic really got the scoop here, featuring the future HOFer on a couple cards in both this yellow set and the 25-card draft pick set they put out.

I've also got a box of 1989 Classic to bust n' blog 'bout.. but now I think we'll save that one for another post. Next time I'll also show some of the game stuff for those interested. See ya then.