Tuesday, February 28, 2023

February's incoming cards

I've got a big ol' lot of cards in transit from Bo at Baseball Cards Come to Life which will likely take some effort to sort and post about, so let's clear the backlog of cards from the cardsphere that've made their way through the winter weather to my mail slot this past month.

My trade bait page facilitated another easy swap with a friend of the blog. This time it was mr haverkamp who took a shot at the Mike Schmidt auto I had available, hooking me up with some great vintage needs in return.

Home Run King, Hank Aaron! Very happy to knock this big one off the '72 wantlist.

Plenty of familiar faces on these league leader cards.

Along with these other glorious additions, I've scratched my way up to 83% complete with 1972 Topps.

Also some good stuff for my 1970 Topps setbuild. Still barely over halfway through there, but slowly chipping away. It's not his pricey high-number base card, but that NL playoff highlight card features Nolan Ryan.. so that's neat.

I thought I had completed a basic set of 1974 Topps late last year, but as often happens, when I actually went through it, seems gremlins had run off with a few of the cards, including a consecutive run of postseason cards that I must've inadvertently missorted elsewhere. Plus there was a missing base card, #539 Lloyd Allen, which is now atop my reasonable desperate double dozen sidebar wantlist. But yeah, glad to re-acquire this above pair, including the final card from Willie Mays' playing career.

Thanks for the trade, Jim!

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A lucky comment left at Johnny's Trading Spot won me a PWE of Padres.

Some recent Topps Holiday cards. I appreciate John giving me a heads up that the Soto is a variation ("Santa belt"), as I probably would've missed it otherwise.

Vintage HOFers to balance out the PWE.

Thanks, John!

-   -  - - --o

Last up today is a surprise PWE from the illustrious Night Owl celebrating the return of baseball being played.

Another fun Holiday variation here, with Manny Machado's Santa cap being hard to miss. Fingers crossed he remains productive throughout that huge contract the team gave him.

Speaking of current happenings in the game, he's not included in this group, but a Dodger and a young player named Gavin makes me think of Gavin Lux. Poor guy just wrecked his knee in spring training and will miss all of 2023. Ouch! :( Such a bummer. Wishing the best to Mr. Lux on his recovery and Mr. Owl on a solid Dodgers season, though of course I'm rooting for San Diego, hoping the Padres can at least win it once in my lifetime. That's all I ask.. just once, damn it!

Everyone knows that Night Owl loves '75 Topps, so receiving any of those from him feels kinda special. The impressive trio above takes me to 86.82% complete-- or round that up to 87%-- with 87 cards left to track down, funny enough. (Everyone knows that Night Owl hates '87 Topps.)

Big thanks, Greg!

That'll do it for this post. Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Refracting the Past: 1951 Topps Monte Irvin

I've really gotten into Topps All-Time Fan Favorites refractors over the past year or so and am starting up a new recurring blog series called Refracting the Past to take a closer look at them. 

I think of ATFF as like a "sister set" to Topps Retired. Both saw releases in just 3 years (2003, 2004, and 2005) and don't contain active players. ATFF bridges the gap between the Topps Archives sets that began as mostly reprints, and the modern Topps Archives going strong today that features active players as well. While modern Archives throws players into designs willy-nilly, All-Time Fan Favorites cards tend to use a design for each subject that corresponds with a significant year for that player. So it's kinda like Topps taking a do-over on their old cards. Sometimes the new versions are improvements, other times a step back. The gold foil stamp on all ATFF base cards has always felt a bit like an eyesore to me, perhaps keeping me from paying too much attention to the product line in the past. But then I picked up a couple refractor parallels-- and man, oh man-- I love 'em! I dig shiny cards but care less and less about today's players and today's cards, so shiny cards of greats from the 50s-90s made twenty years ago are right up my alley.

My plan for Refracting the Past is to cover each year of the pre-Chrome Topps era. While I don't think I'll necessarily always go chronologically, this first post in the series starts at the beginning. And it's Monte Irvin's birthday today, so that's good motivation to get this post out of draft purgatory.

2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites refractors #100 Monte Irvin

Here's Topps going back in time to 1951, making their best guess at what a '51 Topps game card might look like had refractor printing technology been feasible for bubblegum cards back then, and with the foresight of standardized dimensions.

And hey, I happen to own a real 1951 Topps Monte Irvin card, already shown off on this blog a couple times over the years, so that makes it easy to do a side-by-side comparison:

The smaller size and rounded corners of the original are the most jarring difference. The photos are both black and white headshots with Monte flashing a big smile, though he's looking away in the redo and seems to be a little more excited than he was the first time around. Both game card values are 2/Double and the drawing of the batter and bio blurb are more or less unchanged. While the cards were numbered on the front originally, the refractor wipes away that line from the lower right of the photo area diamond.

My main complaint with the modern version is the non-refracting border that several ATFF refractors suffer from. I still like it a lot, but the card would look better without the unnecessary white border.

The dimensions are closer to matching on the flipside thanks to the small print taking up some extra space on the refractor. Other than being darker than needed, the design here is pretty faithful, with the little equipment drawings looking pretty much identical on both cards. One thing noticeably off is just the "Official" text on the baseballs being faded and tiny. The card number (100) sneaks in at the upper left and the serial number is centered near the bottom. All-Time Fan Favorites cards seem to have their share of uncorrected errors in the back text, as we'll see with this series, but it's not an issue with 1951's standard "deck of cards" back.

Revisiting the 1951 design makes sense here, as Monte Irvin enjoyed his best post-integration season that year, finishing third in NL MVP voting behind Roy Campanella and Stan Musial while helping the Giants win the pennant. They fell to the Yankees in the World Series, but it was no fault of Monte's, as he hit .458 and tied the World Series record with his 11 hits. He later got a ring with the Giants in '54.

Refractor Report Card


The blocky white borders are my only real complaint here. The photo makes sense in the context of this design, possibly a slight upgrade on the original. The design was decently recreated given the size difference, with no glaring mistakes. Monte Irvin is a worthy subject in the set, evidenced by his spot in Cooperstown.

I'm thankful there are no refractor autos in ATFF or else I'd be tempted to spend a lot of money collecting them. But no, the auto parallels are rainbow foilboard, a poor man's refractor, lol, so I have no problem passing those up. Plus I think those are serial-numbered to only 15 so they can get very expensive. But these non-auto refractors I'm collecting are all /299, making them somewhat scarce but not too financially painful other than maybe the most popular guys. In 2005, they added gold border refractor parallels-- perhaps explaining why non-refracting borders were worked into the design that year; easier to make a parallel of the parallel-- with the gold refractors being numbered out of 25.

Back to Monte, he also has cards in the other two years of Topps All-Time Fan Favorites, sporting a '52 design in 2003 and a '53 design in 2004 before circling back to '51 in 2005. It's worth noting that it's the only 1951 design card in all three All-Time Fan Favorite sets. 

I'll likely also incorporate Archives Reserve cards (refractor reprints) into this series, though that product ignored 1951 Topps completely, instead defaulting to 1952 for first Topps card "rookie reprints" even if the guy was also in '51 Topps.

Ok, that's it for this time. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Super Sunday surprise pack rip

In what I'm pretty sure is a first for me, I received football cards in the mail on Super Bowl Sunday. That's worth a quick post!

FedEx sent a driver to drop this 2022 Panini Mosaic football redemption replacement sparkle pack on my porch a few hours before kickoff. I don't do much rippin' these days, so it was a nice surprise to get a pack in the mail, even if I don't follow football much anymore.

2017 Panini Vertex Capstones Latavius Murray is what the redemption was originally for. Won this in a contest haul from Sport Card Collectors back in 2018. Dragged my feet a bit redeeming it (I'm not familiar with Latavius and I guess I was hoping to trade it away before it expired rather than deal with the hassle). Pretty sure the card was "live" already when I first got the redemption, as there were a few on eBay going for around $10. But Panini didn't bother sending me one. Eventually I remembered to update my address to the new house and went ahead and requested a replacement. Finally got something today, 2/12/23. Of course I'm just playing with house money, as I got the redemption as part of a lucky contest win, so it's all gravy.

Let's see what 3 cards I pulled from my redemption pack..

Red sparkle is the base, with the blue parallels being a little tougher. I don't think either Dameon Pierce or Luke Kuechly are big names, but the 3rd card was a household name.

The GOAT himself, Tom Brady. I know we're all sick of Tom Brady after he recently announced his retirement, but you gotta respect his accomplishments. Happy to add a snazzy card of his to my modest football card collection. I took a curious look on eBay to get an idea of what this was selling for, and all I could find was one new listing at $150 or best offer. Yeah, ok! Even if that asking price is a reach, I'd take the Brady any day over the common auto I was due. Thanks again to Matt from the (recently retired?) Sport Card Collectors blog for the contest win that keeps on giving.

Hope you all enjoy your day. Fingers crossed it's a great game, though I plan to be out shopping to take advantage of the thinned crowds.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

And that's the end of THAT chapter

Man, January was a turbulent month for me that culminated in getting laid off, which sounds bad but was actually the answer to my prayers and I honestly feel better now than I have in a long time. Looking forward to a fresh start.

Time to catch up on cards I've received from bloggers last month-- a mix of trades and remnants from holiday activity-- and tip my cap to these friendly folks.

Tom from the revived Angels In Order blog sent me over a nice lot of '92 Leaf black gold for my parallel setbuild. Much appreciated, sir!

-  - -o

I'm glad The Lost Collector is still on the scene despite shuttering his blog. He kindly sent me over some Gavins as a thank-you for the '91 Fleer mod of Tino Martinez I surprised him with over the holidays.

- - --o

Excuse the uncropped pic..

A similar surprise thank-you PWE came from gcrl who knocked HOFer Tony Oliva off my '72 Topps wantlist. Very nice.. thanks!

Of course I don't need/expect anything in return for my holiday surprise mailings, but it's always cool to get cards. 

-  - --o

Speaking of '72s...

My new trade bait page hasn't generated a ton of transactions yet, but Jon was tempted by a couple Retired autos and was able to dig up some '72 Topps needs from atop my wantlist.

Jon kicked up the package by throwing in a bunch of Kellogg's needs too. Awesome! Thanks, man!

-   -  - -o

I was fortunate enough to be included in a round of holiday mailings from Dennis, delayed till the new year due to supply chain issues, but still much appreciated. Here we've got a Bruce Bochy card that was sorely missing from my PC-- best of luck to him helming the Rangers this coming season. It'd be nice if he could get his career winning-percentage out of the red. Also a very shiny holiday-themed football card featuring a pair of players I collect in Ricky Williams and Marshall Faulk.

Also got an impressive quartet of Gavins. The orange Cecchini is the top card here, as we can see on the back...

Christmas Card!! These days I don't chase after Gavin cards or 12/25 cards with the same gusto I did back in this blog's earlier days-- there are just too goddamn many of them nowadays!-- but a combination 12/25 Gavin card will always be treated like royalty in my collection.

Big thanks, Dennis!

-  -  - -o

Ok, this last one for today has a story with it. I've mentioned it before, but in one of my earliest online card deals, I worked out a combined Listia transaction with a guy for minor league cards of Ricky Williams and Fred McGriff. The seller was totally cool and made it a pleasant experience for this noob. He had a memorable username, SpastikMooss, and turns out the guy is also a cardblogger and we've gone on to trade once or twice since.

Cut to a decade later, he's listing some trade bait on his blog, and included is the partial 1985 Syracuse Chiefs team set from whence the Fred McGriff card originated. I figured it'd be cool to re-complete the team set, so I reached out regarding a trade and he was amenable.

The joy of a completed team set! Some other neat cards here, including random PC-guy of mine Mike Sharperson (I previously only had a signed copy of this card, my only auto of his).

Thanks, SpastikMooss! Very cool to reconnect and recomplete.

That'll wrap up this post. Thanks for stopping by.