Monday, October 31, 2022

2004 Chrome black for Halloween

I've been meaning to do a post showing off some of the more-notable recent pickups for my 2004 Topps Chrome  black refractors  parallel setbuild. It's one of my top priority setbuilds, funny enough (meaning I spend time and money on it rather than just put it on my wantlist and wait), and I've crossed off several big names that I haven't gotten around to trumpeting on the blog yet. Believe it or not I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel with this ridiculous idea of a setbuild!

I figured I'd photograph these newcomers with an orange background, and --boom: Halloween themed post for 10/31. Advanced blogger move! Baseball Card Breakdown is back, baby! lol

The Big Hurt! Ghoulishly great looking card.

The big names continue-- literally!-- with Big Papi taking a terrifying cut.

Anybody dressing up as a moose this year? Happy to check Mike Mussina off the list. Quick scary story: I once bought this card on Sportlots a year or two ago.. and it never came! bwah-ha-ha! Sorry for the jump-scare, guys. I've had pretty good luck with Sportlots in recent years, but can't win 'em all. This one came from eBay, a site not without its own horror stories.

CC Sabathia is likely to get some HOF attention when he trick-or-treats in 2025, though it's up in the air whether he'll be rewarded with a full-size candy bar or just get the ol' Hershey Kiss-off. Hall of Stats ranks him between excellent-but-underrated pitchers Dave Stieb and Kevin Appier, but his time in the NYC spotlight might eventually get him over the threshold.

Party time. These days Topps wouldn't try getting away with a guy taking up so little space on his base card, but back in 2004 they could get away with it, as with this horizontal celebration shot for Mike Piazza.

Also got Ichiro earlier this year.

The following pair are in-transit, and so I normally wouldn't show them on the blog yet, but here are the listings' photos for another pair of big names recently secured:

Not too far off from the encouraging 90% mark now. By my count, I'm just over 87% complete. When Bags and Nomo show up, I'll be down to just 60 more cards, most of those commons.

Still have a couple big ones that'll eventually put a hurting on the old wallet: Yadier Molina RC and Albert Pujols. Not a good time to shop for them right now, both having just wrapped up slam-dunk HOF careers, but at some point in the next 5 years I should hopefully be able to snag them for an acceptable price in that lull where they're out of the public eye but before the HOF stuff starts up.

Happy Halloween, everybody!

Friday, October 28, 2022

yet more Retired refractors - World Series edition

Topps Retired refractor autos account for a hefty chunk of my hobby expenditures, falling in love with these snap-cased, scribbled-upon, shiny chrome jewels shortly after returning to the hobby as an adult and these days being fortunate enough to have a job that pays me well enough to occasionally buy expensive baseball cards. I've picked up a few over the past several months, specifically from 2003, as that's what's been popping up on eBay-- including one particular consigner selling for a client who must've busted several cases of the stuff.

Here are a few recent additions, with a focus on the fall classic history as the 2022 World Series gets going.

Bobby Thomson's "shot heard round the world" is one of the more famous hits in the history of the game. That got the Giants to the '51 World Series, though they would ultimately fall to the Yankees.

Bummer for him that he just missed being on that '54 team that won it all.

Lenny Dykstra is pictured here in his early Mets days, though I'm among those who remember him most from his time in Philadelphia. He wasn't afraid to get his uniform dirty, as you can see.

Won in '86 and almost again in '93 if not for Joe Carter. Had some troubles since his playing days.

Slipping in a 2005 Retired refractor but staying in New York, here's Jerry Grote (sounds like "grody" not "groat"). He was the starting catcher for the '69 Miracle Mets.

Jerry was also a backup on the Dodgers teams that lost to the Yanks in '77 and '78. I already had this card, but when the 12/25 serial number popped up cheap, I had to go after it. (Less than 2 months till Christmas, guys!)

Last one for today...

Golly, this sure is a fine looking card! I had the base auto, but it really takes the refractor to light up that big sky like Kirk is out there checking out the Aurora Borealis.

Kirk Gibson won a World Series for both leagues. Good on 'im.

So there ya go: some shiny cards of guys that've also been signed by them too and they all had their moments of October success. I probably won't catch much of the series this year, but let's hope it provides some good, exciting baseball.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Taken for Granite

I'm back home after a few days in Louisville for my cousin's kid's wedding. She's a friendly, outgoing young lady, so it was a big wedding with pretty much my whole family in attendance.. likely the last non-funeral where we'll ever be all together, honestly. Great seeing everybody again, including my Uncle Ed (my only blood-relative uncle) whom I hadn't seen in 20 years. I didn't really end up with much in the way of interesting photographs to share on the blog like how I did for my Chicago trip over the summer, so no "travelogue" blogpost this time.

Uncle Ed sadly lost his wife Karen last year to cancer. My Aunt Karen was pretty great lady and it's a bummer I didn't get to see her more often. My last interaction with her was mailing a little "get well soon" card/letter. I had vaguely remembered she was related to a former NFL player, and asked her about that in the letter. Here's a snippet from her reply email:

It was the 80s when my cousin Karl Swanke played with Green Bay.  I think he played about 11 years.  One of the Chicago games we went to, we got to meet Walter Payton and shake his hand.  

Another cousin, Karls brother, Rob swanke, played with Denver Broncos for a short time.. maybe one season. 

And my nephew, one of my sisters sons, PJ Fleck, played with SF 49ers for a season, maybe 1 game and now he is head football coach at Minnesota university.  He loves it and they seem to like him too.   So yes football has always been our big interest!!!  

That's pretty cool, huh? 

Not a lot of cards available from those guys (the legendary Walter Payton notwithstanding, of course), but Karl Swanke has a few oddballs out there, and I've now picked up a couple.

Neat to have cards of a guy I'm kinda related to in my collection now. I like when I've got a personal connection to players I collect, similar to my Guys From Granite subcollection of players who attended the same high school as me, Granite Hills. The rest of this post will look at some new additions there.

My last post mentioned there was another Padrographs PWE waiting for me at home, and here's that card, a signed Brian Giles. The signature gets a little lost in the dark uniform, but still a sweet addition to the PC. Thanks, Rod!

Brian had graduated a few years before I went to Granite, but during my tenure he often worked there as a security guard ("narc", we kids called them) during the minor league offseason.

This isn't a particularly attractive card, but when it popped up, I jumped at the chance to add a unique entry to my Shane Spencer PC. Finding it on TCDB now, I'm pretty sure this is 2022 Topps Spotlight 70 II by Andy Friedman - CMYK 4-Color Test Prints Black #8 Shane Spencer SN1.

I'll have to pick up the base (in color) version of this at some point, and maybe some of the other parallels if they're cheap. I think this only got on my radar because I have a saved eBay search for Shane Spencer 1/1s because I still need the 1/1 from his 2020 Topps Archives autograph to complete that rainbow.

Shane Spencer is the only guy from my high school to win a World Series. I would have been happy with a 1998 rematch this fall, but unfortunately the Padres and Yanks couldn't grab their respective pennants. Guess I'm rooting for the Phillies. I've got decent PCs of Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins, so might as well root for them.

Here are a couple cards I was super stoked over. I knew Mike Reinbach had a couple modern "legend" cards from Japan, but years went by searching/waiting for them to be available to purchase from the ol' USA. They finally popped up in separate listings from the same Japanese seller at surprisingly low buy-it-now prices. I snagged them both quickly, not even bothering to combine shipping (which was also cheap). The next day I saw I had a refund from eBay and immediately thought the seller mistakenly listed them so cheap and was backing out. But thankfully, no, they were just kindly partially refunding me a little bit in regards to combined shipping. Very nice of them!

To refresh your memory, Mike Reinbach was the very first guy from my high school to break into the majors, getting a cup of coffee with Baltimore in 1974 before heading overseas for a successful stint with the Hanshin Tigers. His retirement was cut short by a fatal car accident just shy of his 40th birthday.

Other than an "All-Time Orioles" oddball from 1991, these are Reinbach's only post-career cards on the market, the left card from 2013 and the other from 2015. I love how the '15 back includes his career stat lines for both Japan and MLB.

Still a ton of his Calbee playing-days cards left for me to track down, but checking these two modern cards off the list feels great.

Now let's change gears and check in with the guys from my high school who are currently active in the minors...

2022 Guys From Granite Update

Trenton Brooks had a solid year with the Guardians' AAA team. Here's hoping the 27-year old can crack the bigs next year.

Andrew Brown, a pitcher in the Phillies org, lost his entire 2022 season to injury. Bummer. Hope he comes back strong in '23.

Dillan Shrum is a slugging first-baseman who knocked 16 taters for the Royals' high-A team. Best of luck to him progressing up the chain.

Honorable mention: Sean Ross, who got cards in 2016 Leaf Perfect Game (see my 2018 update), is still an active amateur, which kinda surprised me. Put up good numbers at Indiana State and in collegiate summer league this year. Would be cool if he went pro next year, but we'll see.

Ok, that'll do it for this post. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Padres cards

hey guys. 

Got this cool Tony Gwynn from a recent (final?) box of Padres from Padrographs Rod. He said between me and Fuji he had pretty much trimmed his collection down to just the Padrographs.

Funny enough, I also have artist Matt Taylor's version of Rickey Henderson's rookie card, the only Project 2020 card I bought. (that's a lie, I eventually picked up a cheap Nolan Ryan that had a huge printrun because it was bundled with that Shore Griffey that sold way too many.)

Cool, thanks Rod! There was plenty of other good stuff in the box, but I think the cardroom window-replacement disruption displaced them before I took photographic evidence.

Then he recently surprised me with this great Rod Beck auto in a PWE. Yep, a Rod from Rod. Love the green ink!

I think there's another PWE from Rod waiting for me at home, but I'm currently alone in a hotel room in Louisville dealing with stuff you deal with when you're alone in a hotel room at the end of a rough day... the Padres heartbreaking loss today being just the icing on top of a self-loathing shitcake. Oh, and I also lost out on a "whale" card of mine this evening that broke my heart nearly as much as the Padres loss. :(

Here's another cool Tony Gwynn card. I bought this one after seeing the base card on Night Owl Cards. 

Just an unnumbered aqua wave refractor or whatever, so wasn't too much, but I like it a lot. I still have conflicted feelings about this set, but I'm kinda trying to do a "set rainbow" with one card each from some of my bigger PC guys who are included in the massive set. So like, I'm kinda trying to get one of each of the many parallels, basically. (it's a casual goal, though, not hitting it too hard.)

..which brings us to this black & white Winfield. Honestly I would have preferred to see the glorious brown & gold, but I got it for just $2.04 shipped, so I can't beat that (Seller didn't do a good job with the listing title). Trying to "forbid" myself for getting any other versions of this card, per the one-parallel thing I mentioned.. but I  might have to snag one that's in color someday.

Actually, fuck it. I've already seen that photo plenty of times thanks to a custom overlay I made back in 2015 that I've displayed for a while. So yeah, I'm fine I guess.

Here's the custom that I made (original post)...

Thank you for your patronage. 

Saturday, October 22, 2022

continued Topps Retired refracting

Let's do another Topps Retired Triad post where I just show off 3 cards of the Topps Retired refractor autograph variety. Got a trio of Hall of Famers to feature today.

Love this beautiful Jim Rice. But first, gotta mention that the window replacement (stressed out over in a previous post) went well. I'm still putting the cardroom back, but trying to make improvements as I go as far as organization and infrastructure. One thing that kinda sucks though is that the best window for taking good pictures now has a screen on it. That's good for getting better airflow in the room, but it'll negatively impact my photos of cards, as you can see with the lines across the bottom of the above picture. So my options are just having lines in much of my card photos going forward, finding a new go-to spot for card photos, or using this as another motivating factor to sunset this blog and move on. Or maybe I should start using a scanner, though I still haven't gotten around to setting up the new printer I got a couple months ago. [Pretty sure the scanner still works fine on the old one, but I want nothing more to do with that thing. Now it's collecting dust and rat droppings while sitting in the garage because you can't just throw away old printers these days due to environmental reasons. Lame.]

This back picture didn't turn out very well, but there's the back. Always nice when a guy plays his whole career with one team.

Ah, Orlando Cepeda looking good here!

Some very nice seasons in that HOF career.

Monte Irvin closes out today's post. I already had the base version of this auto-- now available for trade, if anyone wants to make me an offer, like for some '72 high numbers or whatever-- but I was excited when this refractor popped up. Not only does it look great in its shiny splendor but...

Christmas Card!

Those career stats listed on the back are in need of updating now that his stint with the Newark Eagles-- disrupted by three years serving his country--  counts towards his MLB stats, bumping Monte's career batting average up to .305. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, October 17, 2022

2022 Gavins update

Time for my annual post checking in with ballplayers named Gavin.

We've got a new one to add to the MLB Gavins, now up to a total of 5 guys.

MLB Gavin debuts:
2004 - Gavin Floyd
2016 - Gavin Cecchini
2019 - Gavin Lux
2021 - Gavin Sheets
2022 - Gavin Hollowell

A relief pitcher with Colorado, Gavin Ernest Hollowell saw action in 6 games near the end of the '22 season after a strong showing in Double-A this year. He has no mainstream cards so far, only a couple minor league issues (neither of which I own, sadly), but maybe he'll get some RCs next year. A reliever on the Rockies who went 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA in his first year is unlikely to interest most collectors, but I'll have to keep an eye out to get him some representation in my collection.

Congrats, Mr. Hollowell, on becoming baseball's 5th Gavin! Best of luck with your career.

Over in the AL, Gavin Sheets was a regular on the White Sox, playing in 124 games and breaking the single season home run record by a guy named Gavin with 15. He had previously set the mark in 2021 with 11.

Gavin Lux had the best season of his young career, helping the Dodgers to another trip to the playoffs before being eliminated by San Diego. Lux still hasn't quite lived up to the 1st-rounder hype, but seems to be making strides, and tied Brandon Nimmo with 7 triples to lead the league.

Doesn't look like Gavin Cecchini played anywhere in 2022, likely signaling the end of the former first-rounder's playing career. He had been with the Angel's organization in 2021. Wishing Mr. Cecchini all the best in the next chapter of his life.

As for minor leaguers named Gavin, there are a lot these days so I'll just focus on a few familiar or notable guys.

Gavin LaValley just put together the best numbers of his pro career in 2022, however it was for the independent Sioux Falls Canaries. Perhaps his .324 batting average and 20 homers in 87 games will garner interest and get him back to affiliated ball next year. Good luck, Gavin!

Fine young Gavins to watch include Guardians farmhand Gavin Williams. Drafted in 2021's first round, he's got lots of cards out there thanks to being included in 2021 Bowman Draft and some various Leaf and Panini products. I recently added one, above, my first new "autoGav" in a while. He's been pitching pretty well so far on the farm.

Gavin Cross was the Royal's #1 draft pick in '22 (9th overall), so I'd expect him to start getting some Bowman cards and the like soon. He already has a bunch of Team USA cards. The outfielder out of Virginia Tech has gotten his career off to a good start in the low minors. (It's still early, but Gavin Sheet's Gavin home run record may eventually be challenged.)

Gavin Stupienski (cousin to a former cardblogger!) played 20 games with the Royals' Double-A team. Glad to see he's still doing his thing.

Grant Gavin doesn't really count, being a Grant as he is, but he's in the Padres org, so that's a plus. Mr. Gavin put up an ERA of 4.82 between AA and AAA, which is high for him. Hopefully he's able to get it together next year and get called up, but we'll see.

Turning to football...

Gavin Heslop, a DB out of Stony Brook, got into 3 games with the Seahawks in 2021, becoming only the second guy named Gavin to play in the NFL. He was briefly with the New York Giants this year, but didn't make it into any games and is currently a free agent. Doesn't look like he has any cardboard on the market, unfortunately, with nothing found on TCDB or eBay.

And sad news to report regarding the first Gavin to ever play in the NFL. Gavin Escobar, who had recently become a firefighter after stepping away from the gridiron, tragically lost his life in a rock climbing accident on September 28, 2022. RIP, Mr. Escobar.

Here's a card that doesn't obscure his face under a helmet. In addition to sharing a first name, we both attended SDSU. Football cards don't make up much of my collection, percentage-wise, but he might be my biggest PC in that sport, or at least close to it, receiving plenty of help from blogger buddies over the past decade. He seemed like a good dude. Heartbreaking that his life was cut short.

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Welcome to San Diego, Juan Soto!

Padres beat L.A.! :) Here's an old draft of mine from August when San Diego acquired Juan Soto.

Oh man, what a banner day for this lifelong Padres fan! We got Juan Soto.

He's become my favorite active player in recent years, so I'm pretty thrilled about it. I have dreams dancing in my eyes that he ends up spending the bulk of his Hall of Fame career in San Diego and leads the team on a dynastic run of success.

Of course, as a lifelong Padres fan, I'm just assuming it'll end in heartbreak, but I can still enjoy the ride. And who knows.. that Padres could win the World Series one of these years if things go their way.. right?

Here are my 4 best Juan Soto cards to show off in celebration.

2018 Topps Now #235 Juan Soto /6815

Topps released many different Juan Soto rookie cards in 2018 but this was the first! to hit the market. I pre-ordered this Topps Now card on eBay for $4.95 shipped on the first day it was available. Let's hope in time it becomes the "iconic rookie card" he's known for. lol

2018 Bowman - Chrome Prospects - Mega Box Mojo Refractor #BCP52 - Juan Soto

Can't remember if I pulled this one myself or snagged it at a card show. Nice shiny "Bowman rookie" (though no RC logo, being part of the prospect portion of the set).

2019 Bowman Sterling - Sterling Retrospect Autographs - Blue Refractor #SRA-JS Juan Soto #/25

This will stand as my only Juan Soto autograph acquired during his stint in Washington. Got a solid deal on this back in 2019 via eBay. I'll have to eventually add one with him in a Padres uni if I can.

2018 Topps Mini - #US300 Juan Soto

Funny enough, I don't have a base Juan Soto 2018 Topps Update rookie #300, but I do have it in mini form. The stated print run of this on demand set from Topps was 150. ....Oh my, did I read that right?! Yep, just a one hundred and fifty of these li'l Soto RCs out there. Goes without saying that I am very, very happy to own this card! (Still hope to get it in its slightly larger base card form someday too.)

So there are my best Juan Soto cards as of the big trade.

Again, welcome to San Diego, Juan Soto... and Go Padres!

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

cards out the window

We're getting our windows replaced in the house, including the card room. This had been in the works for months but while we knew it was probably gonna happen sometime in October, it wasn't until about a week before that the window guys were like, "ok, we'll be there Monday. Please clear stuff 5-7 feet away from the windows."

Kind of a nightmare situation for me, as we've got a lot of crap jammed into a relatively small house, with the cardroom being the most packed. So that was a lot of work (and put my mental health through the ringer, compounded by my wife being out of town for the start of the construction). Almost like moving all over again. Had to haul a lot of boxes of cards down to the basement temporarily, not to mention some furniture and stuff. Looking for a silver lining, at least when I put it all back together I can make some minor changes to the layout I had been thinking about. And the new windows should be nice. But sucks to basically have the cardroom blown up and have to be put back. I'm sure plenty of stuff will be "missing/misplaced" when I try to find them for a while.. well, more so than usual!

Anyways, I'll try to do a post to catch up with some incoming cards.

I recently got a surprise zapping from Zippy. Always love adding Sega Card Gens, which have pretty much all come to me via Zippy, but I don't think I've received so many at once before. Miggy's the big name in this solid lot.

More highlights

I really get a kick out of a "grab bag" package of cards like this.

But cardboard was second fiddle to the shock of pulling this thing out of the box...

While it's true I've got Pete Alonso on my wantlist, I'm not sure what to do with this!

[Sorry Pete, but I'm happy my Padres took down the Mets to advance.]

Thanks a lot, Zippy! I'm further in your debt!

- -o

John Miller sent me over a PWE with some good stuff. Gavin Floyd auto, Bip Roberts frozen in carbonite, a couple sparkly 2011 Topps, and 2 sets of candidates for my Vintage Frankenset. Spot #29 is awarded to Boog Powell 1965 Topps Embossed, with 1970 Fleer Laughlin World Series (Mel Ott, 1933) getting the nod for #30. 

Much appreciated, Johnny! I will send you back something before long.


I've been buying a few Topps All-Time Fan Favorites refractors in recent months. One from eBay came with a bonus numbered Brian Giles card. It was kinda of a shocking surprise ("How did they know?!"), but then I realized the seller was a fellow blogger, ol' friend of the blog, gcrl. So that was a fun coincidence.

Here's a bonus action shot of my dog to wrap things up since this post is a bit thin (sorry my blog sucks now, I just have very little left in the tank for blogging these days). The tools appearing to come out of her butt were from a tree stump I dug out from that corner of my backyard a couple weeks back. Very satisfying when it was finally extracted. But yeah, home ownership can be partially blamed for my decline of posting. We're coming up on 2 years in the house this month. Always something that needs doing!