Archive for March, 2013

Good Decision!

I decided to go for 2013 Topps Heritage after all. It is a set for me, a set builder. Last year I didn’t like the look, but I’m ok with this year’s. While I type this, I’m looking at a handful of 2011 Heritage and they look ok, why was I cranky last year?

I did record the hobby box break, but given the “…A Real One Autograph or Relic Card in Every Box”, it wasn’t terribly exciting. If you want a break video, Crackin’ Wax busted a Gypsy Queen blaster last night, and I met this guy at the card shop yesterday.

I had already purchased 3 packs, bringing my total to 27 packs. Here is why I love the set, even to the point of probably waving off my attempt to get a hobby case of Allen & Ginter:

  • I have 7 duplicates from the set. 243 cards total, and only 7 were dupes. Last year I would open a box and have some cards 3 deep.
  • I have 215 of the 500 cards in the base set (counting SP’s). I feel like one more hobby box would get me close enough to trade for the rest of my needs if I’m not already.
  • If I do need another box, they are inexpensive. I won’t be paying an extra $30-$40 for 2 more hits that get traded or sold for $1-$2.
  • There is some variety, but nothing like a Gypsy Queen or even Topps Base set. I hate figuring out variations, and since I didn’t pull many parallels, I don’t feel compelled to chase them down.
  • The cards themselves. With a few exceptions, the photos are good and the back of the card instantly took me to 1985 (since I didn’t get to do 1964). I like the trivia questions on the back, and I’m a stats nerd, so thank you Topps for the “Complete Major (and Minor) League Batting/Pitching Record”.
2013 Topps Heritage #144 Darwin Barney (back)

2013 Topps Heritage #144 Darwin Barney (back)

Naturally, there were some disappointments. There are some photos that I thought might give me nightmares. I won’t pick on these guys too much, my face isn’t really made for pictures either, but I think Topps could have picked a little better. I keep thinking of how disappointed the mothers of these players would be, and not just because many of them play for the White Sox. That, and I worried I might not get to sleep like Duente Heath is, because Luis Ayala might get me. I hoped I wouldn’t have a dream that I was a baby and Gavin Floyd was trying to tickle me with a baseball too.

And my “hit” was more of a foul tip, I think. Maybe a bunt.

2013 Topps Heritage Clubhouse Collection Relics #CCRJG Jaime Garcia

2013 Topps Heritage Clubhouse Collection Relics #CCRJG Jaime Garcia

I didn’t pull much from the insert sets, which I am glad for, but I like some of the ones I got and will keep them. I got 1 Chrome Refractor, 1 Chrome, and 1 Color Swap Variation. The 1964 Original I got fits my PC nicely too, but not as nicely as the Ernie Banks book card would have.

2013 Topps Heritage 1964 Buybacks #359 Jim Schaffer

2013 Topps Heritage 1964 Buybacks #359 Jim Schaffer

2013 Topps Heritage News Flashbacks #NFTB The Beatles

2013 Topps Heritage News Flashbacks #NFTB The Beatles


It’s Practically Here!

The season is about to start, and I am ready! If I were to sum up my day yesterday in just one word, it would be, “baseball”. The boys asked to play catch which turned into batting practice before we even got all the gloves out. We watched Ken Burns’ “Baseball” while we looked at the book. I signed up for 2 fantasy leagues, and one drafted last night. Then I watched “Silly Little Game”, the ESPN 30-for-30 show about the original Rotisserie League Baseball. Now this morning I am debating myself over At Bat 13 or full-blown MLB.TV subscriptions and weighing this against the case of Allen & Ginter I so deeply desire. MLB.TV has a bunch of free games today as a preview, by the way.

Rotisserie League Baseball Book

Rotisserie League Baseball Book

I might have been the only person, certainly the only 3rd or 4th grader at my school, to check the original Rotisserie League Baseball rule book out at my hometown library. I read it and read it and read it. I’d take it back, I’d check it out again. I was also a very privileged child, for I had subscriptions to The Sporting News and Sports Illustrated back then. One of my proofs that I have always been a nerd is that I preferred TSN for the stats. With this rule book, and the weekly stats feed delivered by the Postal Service, I was fully prepared to be a commissioner.

The problem was, nobody I knew was as fascinated as I was. I was in Little League, and those guys loved baseball as much as anyone else, I suppose, but this wasn’t their type of thing. And that was about the limit of my 10 year old social circle. Except for every nerdy young lad’s best friends, my family.

I don’t know why I was so attached to baseball, it certainly didn’t come from Mom or Dad. The only place I ever got to really watch a game was at my Grandma’s house, she never missed a Cubs game. Whatever the reason, I loved everything about baseball, and Rotisserie League seemed made for me.

Mom, Dad, and my brother each had a team, and I did too, of course. Dad worked all day (and often into the night), Mom was going back to school, and my brother was probably my greatest nemesis in the world, as any good little brother should be. Therefore, looking back 25 years and being truthful about it, I set myself up a league with 4 teams and I ran them all. The memory gets hazy here, but in this perilous situation, I think I remained trustworthy and didn’t trade amongst myself. I do remember asking Mom once for a player and explaining why it would be great for both of us, and she said something like, “Yeah, great.” In her defense, I am certain she was doing at least two other things during my pitch.

2012 Topps Allen And Ginter #254 Rickey Henderson

2012 Topps Allen And Ginter #254 Rickey Henderson

All I really remember about that was I had Rickey Henderson on my team, and possibly Wade Boggs, and I won the league. I did give weekly updates to the owners, I loved spending hours adding up all the stats and referring back to the rule book. I remember writing up the reports, there was a green highlighter I used for the column headings. I think my team was called the Gratnerds, and rather than the celebratory Yoo-Hoo shower, I think the season ended with the even more traditional self-congratulation and warm glow of victory. Naturally, I immediately began to think of next season, which did not come for another 15 years or so when I got to college and had the internet, at least while I was there. I was clearly, truly, a pioneer of the game. In addition to being perhaps the youngest commissioner in the 1980’s, I was probably among the first owners to drop out in May in the 1990’s.

Anyway, my current team is great, and the other one has their auction tonight. It is the traditional league, we are NL only. I’m really looking forward to this one, but there are only 3 teams at the moment. I didn’t start the league and don’t know who did, but come join! As I said, one league drafted last night, so allow me to present the 2013 Indianapolis Musicians! I’m pretty happy with this lineup, but it feels a little weak at 2B and SS, and I need another third baseman.

C – Jonathan Lucroy, AJ Ellis

1B – Anthony Rizzo, Adam Lind, Todd Helton

2B – Jose Altuve, Darwin Barney

SS – Jose Reyes, Jean Segura

3B – Miguel Cabrera

OF – Yoenis Cespedes, BJ Upton, Angel Pagan, Collin Cowgill, Starling Marte, Aaron Hicks, Jason Kubel

SP – Felix Hernandez, Zack Greinke, Hiroki Kuroda, Jonathon Niese, Derek Holland, Tommy Milone

RP – Jonathan Papelbon, Addison Reed, Jason Grilli, Kyuji Fujikawa


Almost no progress was actually made yesterday on sorting my cards, so basically a typical day.

Spring Break

I’m officially about 13 hours into my Spring Break! I am looking forward to getting some organizing and maybe even some trading done over the next couple of days, but then we head out of town on Monday. So this is your warning, I might post a lot over the next two days, then go dark for about a week, mostly because I learned what everybody else apparently knew, that iPad and WordPress go together like Nolan Ryan and Mike Scott seem to be here.

1990 Fleer #636 Nolan Ryan/ Mike Scott

I have started sorting through another 3,000 ct. box, this one is 3/4 full of 1990 Fleer. In the back of my mind, I have been planning to work on a complete 1988 collection, building the Topps, Donruss, Fleer, and Score sets. Of the four, I would now say I really only care about the Fleer set, although I like the Score set just fine. 30-Year Old Cardboard reminded me of that plan yesterday. I did finally get the Topps set put together a few months ago, and now I’m just keeping an eye out for some of the error cards.

I’ve also got one card going out in the mail today, so I haven’t opened up as much desk space as hoped for, but it is a step in the right direction! Maybe I can recruit a son or two to help sort today so I can list things to sell and trade. If I taught math, I would definitely make it a class project.


Walgreens finally got rid of one of their $4 packs of 100 Baseball Trading Cards today. I had to verify what I already knew. So, here is my first ever Jim’s Baseball Cards pack break results. The actual breaking was quite arduous and involved knives.

1996 Donruss #189 Mark Grace

1996 Donruss #189 Mark Grace

First, Mark Grace. He was on the front of the box, next to a 1997 Collector’s Choice Curt Schilling. I didn’t have this in my Cubs collection, and I was pretty sure I didn’t have the Schilling, in case I ever try to build the ’97 Collector’s Choice set. See how easily I can justify spending money on junk? Cap’n Crunch Robin Yount on the back with a 2000 Bowman Freddy Garcia could be overlooked. I did try to shake the pack around and catch a peek in the middle, thinking perhaps some 1990 Donruss were inside to help me with that project. Of the other packs the store had, this was definitely the winner. To the checkout!

Mattingly showed up two times, and I had several of these Topps Glossy All-Stars from different years. I found the other Mattingly a little bit creepy, actually. “…cast admiring eyes…”? Hm.

1988 Topps Glossy All-Stars #2 Don Mattingly

1988 Topps Glossy All-Stars #2 Don Mattingly

1995 Stadium Club #212 Don Mattingly

1995 Stadium Club #212 Don Mattingly.

I also gained two Rickey Henderson cards, which is great, I have a little PC of him from my youth, and I’m happy to add to it, even though I don’t actively pursue his cards. A PC I do chase after a bit is my Cubs collection, and I gained some there as well. Here are two:

1987 Topps #695 Chico Walker

1987 Topps #695 Chico Walker

1987 Topps Glossy All-Stars #3 Ryne Sandberg

1987 Topps Glossy All-Stars #3 Ryne Sandberg










Sure, it is just Chico Walker (there were also 2 Ed Lynch cards from ’87 Topps, among other non-Cubs), but it did make me think about grading. Now, among my box of ’87 Topps, there stands a small number of pack-fresh cards in the midst of all the rounded corners from when little 10 year old me didn’t care so much. It keeps nagging at me that maybe I should at least slab these.

I don’t want to go on too long, I’ve been trying to get this posted since Sunday! I will add some other interesting ones to a slideshow at the end. I particularly liked the 1995 Studio card, that might be a fun set to build, and I especially like the 1998 Pacific Invincible card of Wally Joyner. I will definitely add that to my list of sets to build one day.

Overall, it was $4 well spent and my general rule of “could I get my money back out of this?” is satisfied here, I think. With some work, some trades, some good fortune, a guy could get $4 for what was in here. I do feel a little bit slighted, I pulled one football card, and it was Jim Arnold, a Lions punter. I got a Rod Carew card, I think my first of him, but it is one of the worst-cut cards I’ve ever had. I’m pretty sure I made exactly the same face he is making in the photo:

1984 Milton Bradley #3 Rod Carew

1984 Milton Bradley #3 Rod Carew

I probably won’t go down and clear off the shelf at my local Walgreens for more of these, but I won’t feel too skeptical about buying one down the road when I have a few bucks burning a hole in my pocket. I think the most interesting thing was the description on the back of the package:

“The products in this package have been purchased directly from the manufacturer or purchased from the secondary market and repackaged for retail sales by The Fairfield Company.” Dear Fairfield, my For Sale/For Trade list is always growing, and I am especially happy to make a deal on approximately 2,700 1990 Donruss cards in NM-MT condition! And I’m working on 1990 Fleer right now!

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A Good Day

I think I made a kid’s day today, and with everything else not as nice that happened today, I need to make a post about it.

A student at one of my schools worked really hard a few weeks ago on the big-deal state test and I wanted to reward him for it. He’s a big basketball fan, and I once almost watched a full quarter of a Pacers game on TV. I did manage to kind of remain aware of a Pacers game I saw live a couple years ago, but the tickets were free, and it was a rare date night with my awesome wife, so it wasn’t even the most important thing going on in the room then. I’m not mad at anybody for liking basketball, it just isn’t my thing.

But this kid loves Chris Paul. I at least recognized the name, I read a story about him once and thought he seemed like a good guy. The week before the test, he pretty much single-handedly beat the Pacers, which I happened to catch on the news while praying for a snow day.

2009-10 Bowman 48 Autographs #48ACP Chris Paul

2009-10 Bowman 48 Autographs #48ACP Chris Paul

Today, I got to give him this card, which I promised to him if he passed. I have no idea, and may not ever know, if he actually passed. But he did put in the time, and make it a priority, and he earned it, win or lose.

Besides that great thing, writing this is making me appreciate the good guys in the hobby, and even the business. So my source for this one is an altogether decent guy, and you can find him on Facebook, or on SportsCardForum. Thanks Bryce!


There is a lot of complaining that goes with this hobby, or with anything I suppose. My attempt to lessen complaining in my own life makes me a little more sensitive to it, but I notice it a lot. Within this “fun, kid-oriented, hobby”, there is always a list of people ready to tell you about a bad deal, blacklisted sellers who never ship, what a rip-off an auction site’s fees are, money lost on prospects who got lazy, and a whole host of coulda shoulda wouldas. I was even tempted to throw my vote in on the whole Topps/MLB exclusivity deal this week, but didn’t have much to add to what’s already out there.

Clearly, if you’re reading a new blog about one guy’s baseball cards, you probably already know there are a lot of great places and people to know in our hobby. I wish my LCS was open 24 hours, I could hang out there for days and not get tired of the people there – and they probably wouldn’t kick me out either, not because of me, but because of them. I’ve had great experiences with all the online places to buy and trade, even an eBay mixup ended well – for both of us. I have a lot of card blogs that I read now, sometimes in the middle of the day when I need a quick vacation, those are great guys. I have been really happy to get back into the hobby, but it is many times more enjoyable because of the other good guys that collect this stuff too.

Updates and Autographed Flashbacks

I finished adding most of the 1990 Donruss to my Most Wanted page. I’m not done with figuring out which errors/correcteds I need yet. But that alone isn’t worth a post, especially after bed time on a school night!

1993 Fleer #633 Dan Plesac

1993 Fleer #633
Dan Plesac

Inspired by Coco Crisp’s Afro (the blog, not his actual afro), I scanned my small autograph collection from childhood. The story of Miles Head being a good guy reminded me of a discovery I made a few months ago. I don’t remember noticing this when I got it, but I noticed it a few months ago, and it made me want to find Dan Plesac and shake his hand. 1993 Fleer had, for the time, a high gloss on it apparently, making them practically impervious to Sharpie markers. So why did this watery, messed-up looking autograph make me want to go back 20 years and send a thank you note? It didn’t. But what did was this:

1993 Fleer #633 Dan Plesac back of card

1993 Fleer #633 Dan Plesac back of card

He signed a good one on the back! Now, maybe he did this on all of them. Maybe he didn’t even think about it. But perhaps he thought, “Oh, that stinks. Sorry Jimbo, I’ll sign this on the back too so it comes out better for you.” And sorry to the design team, but the back of the ’93 Fleer card was more attractive than the front anyway, even though the location of the card number is a pain.

That makes me happy. I sent out many cards that I never saw again, and a few more that came right back to me. Bo Jackson sent me some stuff, but he didn’t sign my card. Nolan Ryan didn’t either, but I got a 4×6 black and white photo that I refuse to believe was signed by anyone or anything other than Mr. Ryan. At least they sent my cards back. Ryne Sandberg still owes me a 1987 Fleer Baseball’s Best card. I picked one up a few years ago, when I wasn’t even really in the hobby, because I still remembered that I had an incomplete set. In fact, I had to exert all my self control last summer and not go to the Iron Pigs games in Indy because I was going to track the dude down and demand my card.

Happy thoughts, happy thoughts…

The way I remember it now though, I did get most of the cards I sent out back with the requested autograph. I know there are more (specifically, I am at this moment wondering where my 1989 Donruss Terry Steinbach is…) that I have somewhere. Other than Mr. Plesac above, I’ve got the Cubs set aside for another post and another day. Here are the ones I flipped through tonight. There are several odd ones in there – what was my fascination with Dodgers, and how many 1988 Topps Matt Nokes All-Star cards have YOU seen autographed?!?! But I’m pretty satisfied with the players I chose to write to, and they held up their end. Here are the scans, and a very sincere “Thank you!” to Will Clark, Sparky Anderson, Kirby Puckett, Ramon Martinez, Vince Coleman, Eric Karros, Robin Ventura, and Tom Glavine. And Terry Steinbach too, wherever you and my card are. Hopefully Terry is not misplaced in a box. Or even properly placed in a box.

Anyway, thanks to Coco Crisp’s Afro for the inspiration. Maybe this will be a part of the hobby the boys and I revive this summer!


Three posts in one weekend?!?! I know, I know.

This is just a quick vent to share with the world that I wasted two entire days. I finished sorting approximately 3,500 baseball cards from the 1990 Donruss set to discover…

The stupid blasted 1990 Donruss set.

I’m not even close to a complete set. 716 cards (759 counting all the errors), plus 26 MVP’s, and some puzzle pieces. Pretty sure I could get someone to give me a complete factory set. But I sorted them anyway. Had to be done. And I’m 107 cards short! Forget the puzzle pieces, I only have two of those. 107!

Of course, some will turn up when I go through my old albums of players I kept aside. I’ll find the Kirby Puckett, Griffey, etc. But I’ll still very likely end up needing something odd, like the Checklist #300 error, to finish this thing and the only place I will find it on the planet is in the hands of some guy who lists it on eBay for $68 or best offer.

I don’t like the set, it’s full of errors, it’s just junk. But I spent two stinking days on it and I’m going to finish it! I’ll add it to my want list page, then it might stop annoying me.

I’m done!

Ack! And I’m not actually “done”, I still have about 400 dupes to sort and put away. A third wasted day!

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