Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Catching up with the late Dick Allen

When I was a kid, I got Dick Allen to autograph a baseball for me at the 1992 All-Star FanFest. I didn't own any of his cards or really know who he was, but I just knew he was a badass old ballplayer there to sign autographs, so why not.

I could count the number of in-person autographs I got as a kid on one hand, so I guess I'm a little sentimental about those interactions and when I returned to the hobby as an adult, Mr. Allen became one of my favorite before-my-time guys to collect.

I've built up a solid Dick Allen PC that's among the best logged at TCDB (ranked 2nd at last check), and have picked up a few old oddballs and unique items from the Topps Vault. I'd stop short at calling myself a supercollector because I'm not going to go nuts on big-money items. I'm sure there's plenty of obscure old stuff out there that I don't even bother looking for. And then there's modern cards with all the many parallels that a true supercollector would be compelled to rainbow.

So I like to think of myself as a semi-supercollector when it comes to Dick Allen. I don't try to get everything, but I'll round up a good sampling of what's out there. And this post will take a look at some recent pickups.

Dick Allen sadly passed away December 2020 at age 78. He remained a popular sports chat topic in 2021 as his Hall of Fame candidacy came up again. Unfortunately his posthumous run for the hall ended like his previous attempt, falling a single vote short of induction. Ouch. But oh well, I'll still keep on collecting him and have less competition than I would have had he gotten the "HOF" label applied to his legacy.

On the cardboard front, Topps basically ignored Dick Allen for over 15 years before finally giving him some love in 2021, showing up on a few checklists among the other stars of the past. While I'm chagrined Topps waited until Dick was no longer with us to start giving him modern cards again, at least there aren't a ton of certified autographs for me to track down and spend money on, to try to look on the bright side about it. 

But yeah, I had been clamoring for years for Topps to put Dick in sets like Archives and Ginter, and it sucks that they wait till he dies to include him. Chances are he signed a new contract with Topps in 2020, possibly even got sent a box of cards to autograph and return for inclusion in 2021 products but his failing health scuttled those plans. Who knows?

But anyways, let's take a look at some new Dick Allen cards I've added in recent months.

Took me a while of searching, but finally added a rip card. I believe it's my first ever real rip card-- some of my trader buds might recall a holiday surprise a few years back when I made my own rip cards to share using 1987 Topps Tony Gwynn cards with a custom magnet card hiding in the middle. There had been a couple already-ripped rip cards for sale, but took a while for me to find one intact, despite being numbered to 99 which isn't all that low by today's standards. I don't want to rip it, but maybe someday I'll find another one and then I'd rip the dupe.

Dick's also featured in the main 2021 Allen & Ginter checklist, though I haven't bothered chasing all the parallels of that one, only owning the base card so far. It features a similar photo to the rip card, but no visible glove and he isn't smiling.. kinda boring, honestly.

Here's that same smiling photo from the rip card, but made up in a pre-war style for a line of 206 cards put out in overpriced, online-only waves. Of course Topps is gonna throw in a bunch of scarce, unnecessary parallels into the mix too. They're just dumb back variations, though.

I grabbed the base and the Sovereign variation, whatever that's supposed to mean (tobacco company?). There are 6 more backs according to TCDB and I threw them in my wantlist there in case a prospective trade partner might have one available, but I don't plan to put much more effort than that into landing additional 206 Dicks. But yeah, it's a nice enough card at its core.

We've seen this photo in the Ginter style and tobacco mini style, and now here's a sparkly 1952 Topps style card using it. Geez, Topps.. It's a nice photo, but howbout giving another look to the many other available options? This 2021 Topps Chrome Platinum Anniversary product has some things going for it, such as a solid vintage-meets-modern look and a deep checklist with some interesting players, and it's gotten a positive response from collectors, best I can tell. I broke my vow of not doing anymore (non-blogger) group breaks and won a couple D.A. slots on eBay for multi-case player breaks. But unfortunately it's a big checklist and not a lot of cards per unit.. and welp, I got the shaft. Oof. Yep, several boxes of the stuff was busted on my behalf and I didn't even end up with one lousy base card of my guy, much less a nice parallel.

But yeah, sticking to buying singles, I picked up this parallel.

First off the line!

I should also give an update on Dick's 2021 Topps Archives rainbow that I spent some time and money chasing in the months after that product's release.

I'm missing the following:

base variation: 70 Years of Baseball Emblem (instead of 50)
Red Hot Foil /50 variation: 70 Years of Baseball Emblem (instead of 50)
Blue Foil /25
Blank Back 1/1
FoilFractor 1/1
FoilFractor 1/1 variation: 70 Years of Baseball Emblem (instead of 50)

I'd like to eventually pick up a Blue Foil parallel-- preferably the christmas card-- but other than that I don't plan to sweat the 1/1s and dumb 70 Years variations, so this rainbow isn't likely to ever reach its pot of gold. But I'd say that's a fine looking run of cards above that I'm happy to have in the PC.

While drafting this post, I learned Dick's in 2022 Topps Pristine, too. Gotta say I hadn't expected Topps to continue putting him in their new products, not after the epic HOF diss, so that's cool.

I just scored this encased refractor for $1.50 plus shipping. Kind of disappointing Topps picked such a similar shot to the Archives photo, but at least now Dick's in the road uni. I might try picking up a parallel or two, but don't plan to hit the rainbow hard this time out.

Looks like the same photo from Pristine had been used in a WTHBalls custom not long before. This was a cool little "club member" bonus throw-in. As a custom card maker, a nemesis of mine is the top font of 1972 Topps. I've never been able to replicate it like Gio has here. So while I'm ok at making customs overall, seasoned pros like Gio are on a whole 'nother level.

And I had never gotten around to making my own custom from Allen's time in Oakland (despite longing for such a card), so I was very pleased to see that '78 that-should've-been enter the physical realm in a recent WTHB release. Authentically off-center, lol.

That wraps up the update to my Dick Allen semi-supercollection. My interest in today's cards continues to dwindle, but as long as he keeps getting new cards, I'll at least try to sprinkle some examples in the ol' PC. Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

COMC stuff (complemented by non-COMC stuff)

My latest COMC order to arrive-- first shipment requested since last November-- wasn't too huge, 54 cards, but included some good stuff. Let's check out a few highlights.

Let's start with a pair of Vault Metals inserts from 2016 Topps Legacies of Baseball. These metal cards ingots got on my radar when I pulled the Mike Trout 1/1 (black logo) from a birthday box which would stand my best pull ever if not for the 1/1 Griffey auto I pulled from a box of Archives once. But yeah, these things are kinda neat and I'll sometimes pick up dudes I collect if the price is right, but even the base (white logo) are numbered /135. Both photos flashback to flagship cards of the past. In fact, let me take a moment to go dig up the original offerings out of the PCs for a side-by-side comparison...

The "Legacies of Metal" cards are a bit blurry (text too), with the originals being clearer images, perhaps due to the process of printing on metal? They're fun to have in-hand if for nothing else than the novelty of a material not very plentiful in a typical card collection.

..Of course that tactile aspect is pretty much lost when these cards get slabbed, but I did snag one that happened to be graded..

This was from eBay, not COMC, but as long as I'm talking about these metal card, figured I'd feature this Trout. It's the base version I picked up a while back, with the thinking I should try for the rainbow since I already got the 1/1. Turns out there are 4 varieties total, now missing just the purple (/50) and red (/5). Those five-in-existence red parallels Topps likes to put out are usually pretty tough to find, much less find reasonably priced (and I'm a little late to the search at this point), so this goal might not ever come to fruition, but it would be cool for me to be able to say I've completed a Mike Trout rainbow. And throw in the fact that'd it'd be a metal rainbow, and that just adds to the uniqueness. Like, there are a ton of Mike Trout collectors out there, and I'm sure several have completed a rainbow of his... but a metal rainbow? That'd be quite the niche accomplishment. Maybe someday.

Moving on, here are 3 more random cards I bought on COMC:

I had been wanting Dave Stieb's O-Pee-Chee rookie card since that YouTube doc a few months back raised my appreciation of him and his career. This one is a bit off-center and has extra rough edges, though still proved to be the most expensive card in this order. But oh well, good enough for me to check off my list and takes the PC to a satisfactory "good enough" state in my mind, though I'm sure I'll continue to add to it here and there, but now I'll probably stick to his "dimebox" type cards.

I don't really search out Jake Peavy cards these days despite having a soft-spot for the Cy-winning Friar, but I just kinda dig those vintage stock parallels, particularly from 2010 ("Target Retro" COMC calls 'em) and was searching by cheapest to check if any PC guys of mine were slumming it with the nobodies and came away with Peavy. These cards first got on my radar when I snagged a Madison Bumgarner RC cheap at a card show and it turned out to be one for the ol' "my savviest card show acquisitions" list.

I also grabbed the similar Mantle off eBay a few months ago for a few bucks. They're not serial numbered, but the print run was likely around 100-200 per card.

Excuse the orange hue on the above photo-- it's wildfire season and it's bad out today. :(
Most of the other pics in this post were taken yesterday.

I really like the Legendary Years design's take on 1965 Topps (as well as the College Years harkening back to 1982) from 2005 Pristine.. especially the refractor parallels. Topps recently brought Pristine back from the dead and my first new-school Pristine card is currently en route from an eBay seller so maybe I'll have thoughts to share later.

Anyways, the Madlock was the card that kicked off this order, pulling the trigger on it back in April. It's a gold "die-cut" (bumpy edges, on purpose unlike the OPC Stieb) numbered out of 65, while the encased Kong is a base refractor out of 549. I don't go after his cards too hard, but couldn't pass it up for just a couple bucks, a deal you wouldn't be likely to find on eBay considering the hard case means you're looking at ~$4 in postage alone. 

Let's wrap up the post with a couple cards that might not seem like a fit for my collection at first glance. 

But flip the lightswitch..

Yep, I love me some glow-in-the-dark magic, and a couple such cards found their way into the COMC shipment. Dale Jarrett must be a "common" in the racing world, because it's rare to find these glowing 1997 Pinnacle Racers Choice cards for less than $5-10 (and he only ran me $1.55). There are a bunch out there (different drivers and different sponsor parallels), but this is only my 2nd example. As for the Beanie Baby sticker.. Like the racing cards, there are many still out there I wouldn't mind eventually tracking down for the GITD side-collection, but unlike the racing cards, they tend to be cheap.

So yeah, there are some COMC pickups of mine. I'll likely get another post or two out of the rest of the shipment soon. Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Not your average trade

Special trade to cover today. Dan, a guy I've dealt with over email a few times over the years-- originally sold him a Willie Mays auto for an offer too generous for me to decline-- recently reached out to chat and turns out he recently moved up to my neck of the woods. We hammered out a pretty big trade by my standards-- heck, I'd go as far as to classify it as a "supertrade"-- and conveniently were able to meet up for an in-person exchange the other weekend.

I've done a handful of real-world swaps in the past, but those were mostly brief interactions. Dan and I and our respective wives meet up at a brewpub around the midway point between our houses (just a 10 minute drive or so) and had lunch and a couple beers together. It was an enjoyable time all around and I loved chatting about card collecting topics, especially our similar niche focus that gives us a special cardboard kinship 

Negotiations took time, but when Dan tempted me with a 1972 Nolan Ryan, I knew we'd have a deal finalized pretty quick. Turns out he was dipping into his own PC (He's impressively got a career run of Ryans in PSA 7 or higher) and then would just go find himself another '72 Ryan to replace the one going to me. Now that's a trader who means business!

As a standard headshot, it's not one of Nolan's better looking cards (dig that short-lived Angels logo, though), but as an early card of his, and a semi-high number, it's a tough one. While I've still got a long way to go in my journey to collect all the psychedelic tombstones, feels like this acquisition has lightened my load considerably. My '72 setbuild generally isn't in great condition and so this NM slab might not exactly fit right in, but hey, now I can say I've got a PSA 7 Nolan Ryan in my 1972 Topps setbuild. Nuff said!

I had to give up a dandy of a 2003 Retired refractor auto (Marichal), but got back Paul Molitor in addition to the slabbed Ryan. I can live with that!

This marvelous Maz wasn't technically part of the trade, but rather a separate purchase from Dan. See, he's a big-time 2003 Topps Retired refractor collector, a kindred spirit to me, though my focus is 2004 of the same cards (also now dabbling in '03 and '05 since my '04 chase has stalled waiting for a Trammell to surface). As fellow Topps Retired aficionados, we had lots to chat about, such as the fabled 2003 Retired Kirby Puckett autograph that Dan and I are in agreement has never hit the market despite being listed on most checklists online.

But yeah, Dan is a big 2003 Retired collector, down to the last dozen or so needs (Note that the '03 auto set is 119 cards-- much larger than 2004's meger 76-- making his progress even more impressive.) He had a couple different Mazerfractors available, one that was graded Beckett 9.5 and another just 9 but was the "jersey number ebay 1/1". Since I generally don't worry much about grades, I eventually decided on the 9/25. There's a lot of number nine synergy going on, not just the serial numbering, but it's also graded 9 and the jersey 9 is visible in the front photo. So that's kinda cool. Nice to knock another HOFer Retired Refractor off my list (I don't expect to ever complete the '03 refractor set like Dan is working on, but I can't help snagging them if the price is right. I could possibly complete the auto set in my lifetime, but as a combination of base and refractors, currently 82/119 there).

Last card from the big lunchtime meetup with Dan was actually a separate one-for-one Tony Gwynn trade where I exchanged my 2004 Retired base auto for Dan's 2003 Retired base auto. It was a fitting swap because he had both 2003 base and refractor (but no 2004), and I had both 2004 base and refractor (but no 2003).

While Dan and I are collecting buds, we're also rivals when Retired refractors we both need pop up on eBay. Case in point, a few years back a seller listed the '03 Retired Gwynn 12/25 refractor, and also a similar Jim Bunning. The cards were each listed at a silly high buy-it-now asking price but with Best Offer option. I put in strong offers on both... my offer was accepted on the Bunning but I missed out on the Gwynn. I was kicking myself over this and in hindsight would have went higher on the Gwynn Christmas Card. Turns out it was Dan who bested my offer, that son of a gun! Oh well, all's fair in love and cardboard. At least he's cool and said we could work something out if he should ever end up with another Gwynn refractor (The 12/25 only graded out to an 8.5, so he wouldn't mind upgrading there anyways. Me, I vastly prefer my Retired autos in the original Topps "uncirculated" cases. In the past I've jailbroken slabbed Retired autos just to return to the regular casing, though am less gung-ho about that stuff these days.) But yeah, seeing as Tony is my top PC, very happy to score his 2003 Retired auto. Funny enough, the base version is just as scare as the refractor, both having a print run of just 25 copies (though the base isn't serial numbered).

Anyways, thanks a lot, Dan! Had a great time and came home with some great cards. Hope we get the chance to hang out again before too long. Best of luck in your quest to hunt down the last few cards you need. 

-   -  - o

That's probably plenty for one post, but I gotta clear out some backlog-- just received a COMC order!-- so here are a couple more quick trades for the post.

Traded with a reader named Sigler who helped me make solid progress with my 1977 Topps setbuild. We've already got a second swap in the works. Thanks, man!

-   -  - o

Last one is another new trading partner, Crocodile from a blog I just recently started following called Crocodile Sports Cards. He had posted about some glow-in-the-dark cards he wound up with that he didn't particularly care about. A thing about me is that I want all glowing cards, even if I already have them, but I needed most of these.

I never watched the 90s cartoon Skeleton Warriors, but now I've got the complete 5-card glow-in-the-dark insert set. I only had one of them before. Now I've got a set and several dupes (As I say, when it comes to glowing cards, I want dupes too.) These cards glow on the back, and I'm not convinced that wasn't the result of a printing mistake at the factory.

He asked if I wanted the acetate inserts too. Sure, why not. Neat stuff.

While I was excited to get the glowing cards, it's hard to beat a clean stack of needs and upgrades for my 1978 Topps setbuild. In the next couple years I should have a run of 70s Topps flagship filling out nicely.

On top of that, Crocodile was kind enough to hook me up with a stack of 1987 Topps for another of my hairbrained plans that might not ever really go anywhere. Even got an OPC Yount out of the deal!

But what's embarrassing for me is I had sent him a PWE with nothing all that impressive and he sent back a heavy box. Not a good first impression on my part with a new trading partner. In my defense I didn't realize those Skeleton Warriors cards were all in heavy plastic cases. I'll be sure to put some effort into balancing the scales once we get around to our second trade (assuming I haven't scared him off).

Thanks again, Croc!

Ok, that'll do it for today. Hope you're having a Happy Labor Day, everybody. My COMC order showing up today was a pleasant surprise, being a federal holiday and all. Some good stuff in there I'll plan to show off on the blog over the next few posts. Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Some incoming cards to check-in

Rod from the Padrographs blog swung by my house recently with a box of 600 or so cards; Crapton of Padres, as Rod continues tightening up his collection. Several notable Pads were included with multiple cards, though Tony Gwynn was the most plentiful (that whole stack on the left; stack of Bips on the right). When I check this lot against my PC I expect that it'll have a couple dozen or so needs for me and a bunch of overproduction era stuff to add to my Gwynn dupes. I ironically had just a few days earlier sorted all my Gwynn dupes (mostly acquired in previous boxes from Rod). I'm not going "Tim Wallach guy" here trying to accumulate as many as I can, but I don't mind it. They occasionally come in handy for trading, plus it's a deep well for me to turn to when I need to pick a new annual wallet card... or when I get the urge to play Mad Scientist and "experiment" on cards as I'm prone to do from time to time. But yeah, if anybody wants a hand beefing up a fledgeling Mr. Padre PC, I have lots available.

A few big names scattered among the lesser-known Padres of the past.

There were some cool original customs in the box, including a 12-card "My Music" set featuring some of Rod's favorite musical acts in a take-off of the 1991 MusiCards design. I remember him posting these on his blog back in 2019/2020 and I'm happy to add physical copies to my "music cards" subcollection. Maybe I'll take a closer look at each card on my 1991 MusiCards Blog one day. Our musical tastes aren't exactly aligned, but we've got plenty of common ground. Also in the photo are a few serial-numbered cards. Glad to see Hunter Renfroe (gold paper /50) is having a good year with the Brewers and recently hit his 150th career homer. Seems the window of time I was most active with modern cards was when he was a chosen rookie-- you know, that phenomenon when Topps goes all-in on a rookie or two from each team and floods the market-- so I've got a ton of his cards despite not really chasing them.

Now here's a card that wasn't like the others in the box-- vintage Batman! I always dig these when I've seen them on the blogs over the years, so it's cool to have one in-hand. It's now by far the oldest card in my little stash of comic book cards.

Oh, and Rod also hooked me up with a full base set of 2012 Panini Beach Boys and nearly all the inserts. And I already had most of that stuff, so if anyone is wanting to add some Beach Boys cards to their collection, I've got plenty I'm happy to spread around. Now I'm really just missing a few of the Gold Album inserts (must've been SP'd) and the really sparse chase cards, ie autos and relics (I've got a few relics but no autos).

Big thanks as always, Rod!


Here's my prize from one of the daily contest at Johnny's Trading Spot. While not tailored to my specific wants, as far as I can figure, most of this stuff fits into my collection. I have little PCs going for most of the players on the Panini cards, and love accumulating those Laughlin WS cards. Really only the '65 death mask cards are misses for me here. I was hoping the numbers would be vacant in my Vintage Frankenset so I could find a use for 'em, but nope, and no way they are besting the current placeholders (I've mentioned on the blog before that I kinda hate these things, honestly, lol).

Thanks, John!


Bob at the Best Bubble hooked me up with a bunch of good cards the other day.

Nice lot of '93/94 Topps Black Gold!

Billy Butler 2005 Topps Chrome refractor auto.. nice! New center-pocket card for the 9-card PC. I've got a lot of 2005 Topps Retired refractor autos in this design, but I think this is my first 2005 Topps Active ref auto.

A couple more autos and a vintage Blazer.

1972 Topps needs!! YES! Yes, yes, yes. Seventy-two is still a top priority of mine, even if I'm pretty much giving up on completing it by the end of the year as I was originally aiming for.

A few ladies (and a dragon).

I now have 5 girlie playing cards total (from 3 different sets). I fold.

Thanks, Bob! I wish there was more meat on your wantlist, as it's always tough finding stuff to send back (and so I usually just stress over it for a while before making some more gum customs, but still haven't gotten the new printer set up yet. So it might be a while.)

-   - - --o

Here's a package from Night Owl.

He recently ripped some of that 2021 Chrome Anniversary stuff and I offered to help him get that shiny Padre out of his house. (He also inspired me to pick up a parallel of the Gwynn from that set, which I should show off sometime.) Cool Gavin RC too, but the real highlight...

Vintage wants/upgrades!

Thank you, Night Owl. Much appreciated. I mailed out a return to you earlier this week.

I've got more incoming trades to cover, but this post is taking too long-- Is it possible to get the "blogging yips"?--  so I'll have to get to the rest later, sorry.

Thanks for stopping by!