Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Card of the week: 1967 Topps #1"The Champs"

This card is easily the favorite in my collection. The last card show I attended was heavey in vintage cards and I picked up this copy in good condition for two bucks. This card was issued as card number one in the 1967 set, for a few years Topps gave the first card to the previous years World Series Winner. What sets this card apart is the simple design and great photo of the manager, Hank Bauer and the hall of famers, Frank and Brooks Robinson. Hank was in his third season coaching the Orioles when he led the team to the title. He would leave the O's after the 68' season to coach in Oakland (something I wasn't aware of is Hank won eight World Series titles, seven has a player for the Yankees and the one managing the Orioles).

Most Orioles fans look to the 1960's and 70's as the golden age in Orioles history, when the team competed for the pennant every year. Unfortunatley today, many of the younger fans have never seen a winning season in Baltimore, let alone a playoff appearence. So far in this young season the Orioles have continued their losing ways but I am hopeful they can turn it around and finish with a winning record.

Right now the best alternative is pull out my vintage Orioles cards from the 1960's and 70's and read about the past winning seasons and championships the Orioles won.

On a side note, I am going out of town for a week to visit family in Nashville and run the Country Music Half Marathon, so this will be my last post until I get back. Hopefully when I return I can get my hands on some Topps Gypsy Queen since this set is dominating the hobby headlines today with good and bad news.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How do You Build Sets?

I think the greatest aspect of card collecting as a hobby is because of the abundance and wide variety of material available, every person can collect and build their sets or collection in any manner that fits their spare time and budget. With that being said, I'm asking the question above because I'm entertaining the idea of building this years Heritage Set. Now, I'm aware of the difficulties of building this set and the scourge the short prints can be (not mention the variations in the set), but I have bought a lot of Heritage this year and since I have not built a Heritage set before, I thought why not.

Thinking about whether to build this set got me to thinking about how I build sets and how other collectors build their sets. For me the number one factor whether to build a set is not the time it will take but the cost. I collect cards on a budget and like to find affordable prices for cards I need in my set. For modern sets this isn't much of an issue, unless the set has short prints and short printed variations. For my vintage sets, this means purchasing my needs in lesser condition. To me the time it takes only adds to the chase of building a set.

So I have realized I like to build my sets slowly. Vintage sets inherently can take longer to build because the material is not as readily available as modern sets and can be more costly.When I build a modern set, I'll buy  two or three blasters and some loose packs to build a starter set and then work to complete my set through trades or card shows. The appeal to leisurely working on a set building project is it makes finding the last cards you need to complete the set much more rewarding. If I complete a set too quickly the end can feel anti-climatic and not as satisfying as a set I spent more time on. The ultimate chase  becomes the last card you need for your set, and you may find a 1982 Topps Mario Soto my be more valuable to you and have more meaning in your collection than the latest auto-patch card of an over hyped rookie.

I have decided to Build the Topps Heritage set. You will be able to find my want list above in the next few days, and I welcome any trades, just don't send the cards over too quickly.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Trade with Nomo's Sushi Platter

I recently completed a trade with Michael at Nomo's Sushi Platter. Michael collects the Dodgers and also has several player collections including Ryan Braun and Ichiro. I sent him a bunch of Dodgers and and pc needs he did not have in exchange for some 2009 OPC and 1989 Topps needs for my set building projects. The following cards are some of my favorites from the package he sent.

The Topps Kimball mini of Clayton Kershaw helps knock off a need from my set.

These are the first Topps National Chicle cards in my collection. These cards are really hit and miss. I have seen some cards that I really like the illustration and then seen others that leave me scratching my head as to what the artist vision was. Though overall, I do like the set, my goal is to complete the Baltimore team set. This is a product that has dried up in retail outlets and hobby boxes can be found on the online retailer sites for seventy to eighty dollars. This surprised me a bit considering the length of time the set has been out and the criticism it received in the hobby, the three guaranteed hits per box may have something to do with the price.

This card is from 2010 Upper Deck Series One, another set I did not purchase any packs of when it was released last year. The O's dropped their sixth straight game today. The better hitters on the team are really struggling, Vladimir Guerrero is currently leading the team with a .260 average. Markakis is currently batting .220 with two home runs and six RBI. These players need to start producing runs to support the young pitching staff or it is once again going to be a long season.

The presentation of this set is better executed than its 2010 brethren, The hat less players, though a nod to the original, were to numerous in the most recent set.

After a tumultuous career with the O's, Ray is currently with the Seattle Mariner organization. The 2010 Upper Deck set is very plain, which is to be expected from a unlicensed issue. This card hides the team logos a lot better than other cards I have seen from the set. This ends the trade post for today. A big thanks to Michael for the cards.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Topps Allen and Ginter

Topps Allen and Ginter is one of the most popular brands in the hobby. It's broad appeal reaches all segments of the hobby and the inclusion of stars from other sports, actors, places and historical figures, bring interest from people who usually do not collect or buy baseball cards. For me, I like the historical subjects depicted in the sets and of course the minis. The minis are always well done, and in my opinion, look better than the base cards.

I started thinking about makes these sets so collectible because I am looking foward to the 2011 release this summer. I like that Topps made a change to the design and think it was needed for the fifth installment to keep it fresh. I like the look of the design and think it will translate well on the minis.

I also have observed alot of 2010 Allen and Ginter still on the shelf at my local Target. This store still has a few blasters, one box and there was a gravity feeder half full of packs. Im kind of suprised of how much unopened product is still available with the next release a little more than three months away. Has anyone else noticed this in their local Targets? Topps really must have let the presses roll last year. Older years of Allen and Ginter are hard to find. The only other packs of Allen and Ginter I have seen in retail stores are in repack boxes and it is always the 2009 issue. Did Strausburg mania influence Topps to produce more product than anticapated? If so, I hope this occurence was for only one year and Topps does't overproduce it's most popular and collectible brand.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I am Iron Man

This card, number 884, comes from the 1992 Score set. Score included a bunch of interesting subsets in its issues in the early ninties. One was the Dream Team subset, which most notably included the Bo Jackson and Jose Canseco cards, which featured both sluggers shirtless.

This later Dream Team incarnation featuring Cal portrays him in uniform standing in front of a early 20th century train locomotive. Im assuming the corelation between this steel locomotive (one that you would be likely to see in the Smithsonian) and Cal, is the fact that steel is an alloy mostly made up of iron and Cal's nickname, as everyone knows is the Iron Man. (Though the train metaphor might have worked better for Walter Johnson, whose nickname was the Big Train).

At the time this card was issued, Cal was coming off his MVP season in 1991 where he batted .323 with 34 home runs and 114 RBI. Despite Cal's production the Orioles finsished under .500 in 91' and would not make a playoff appearence until 1996. Cal's career coincided with the era of overproduction in the ninties, where thousands of cards were created of the top players in the game. I like this card because its unique and the subject matter is original, even if its a stretch picturing Cal with a locomotive, it is still a cool card. Amid all the excess, alot of nice cards were produced in the ninties and these cards can be added to your collection for very little cost today.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

2009 Allen & Ginter Adam Jones

A nice win by the Orioles tonight, put the O's at 5-1 and a top the A.L. East. I know its the beginning of the season but thirteen losing seasons will make you excited by any early success. Adam Jones, who has started the season slow, had a home run and three RBI in the come back win. The Orioles welcome the undefeated Texas Rangers to Camden Yards for a three game series this weekend.

the 2009 Allen & Ginter set is propably my favorite design from the retro series so far. The abstract colored backgrounds and faint white border frame the image of the player very well and make the larger image standout. In contrast many of the images in last years release were smaller and had too much dead space between the image and border. I am intrigued by this years Ginter design. I like the look of it from the sell sheet so far, but I want to have one in hand before I really form an opinion.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ted Williams Card Co.

1993 Ted Williams Co. Ted Williams

The collecting scene in the 1990's gave collectors more variety and choices of what to collect than ever before. The hobby was booming, profits were rolling in for the manufacturers, prompting new companies to enter the scene. By the middle of the decade six companies were fully licensed, Fleer, Donruss, Pinnacle, Pacific, Topps and Upper Deck, and these companies produced millions of cards under multiple brands, sets and inserts.

Other companies, not fully licensed by MLB  or the MLBPA emerged and tried to find their share of the expanding market. One such company was the Ted Williams Card Co. Founded in 1993 by Ted's son, John Henry Williams and Grand Slam Marketing. The partnership wanted to capitalize on the popularity of Ted Williams and other Hall of Fame baseball players. The company found its niche by issuing two baseball sets in 1993 and 1994. The 162 card checklists for both sets were loaded with older players and Hall of Fame players, only two current players were issued in the 93' set, Jeff Bagwell and Juan Gonzales and Gonzales signed a limited number of autographs. Ted Williams also signed a limited number of cards that were inserted in packs. In 1994 the 162 card set returned with more former players, negro leage players, womens professional league players and this time included 17 upcoming prospects from MLB.

One more football set was issued, but by 1995 the company was dissolved. As a kid a had a large stack of 93' and 94' Ted Williams cards, but I didn't treat them the same as my Fleer or Topps cards. As a niave kid these cards didn't seem like a legitimate issue since they featured almost exclusivley older players (Ironically today the hobby is inundated with sets that pay tribute to baseball players of the past). To me, they were more similiar to the Conlon issues released in the early 90's, and I cast aside my Ted Williams cards into a box that contained other oddball issues, such as the aforementioned Conlon cards and K-Mart sets. Today I have a better appreciation for theses various sets that were issued during the baseball card boom, some were done very well and can be a nice addition to a collection (like the Ted Williams cards) others not so much, like the underwhelming 1990 Starline issue, released by Long John Silver.

I no longer have these cards today and cannot remember what happened to them, but I wish I still did own them. I really like the design of the 93' set, players were grouped into subsets using black and white, sepia toned or colored photos, many card fronts have two photos of the player. The card backs have Ted Williams comments on the featured players skills and accomplishments. By 1994, the cards featured color photos and more stats on the back.

I pick up this card for a quarter at the same cardshow I have been showing previous posts this past week

The Honus is from the nine card Locklear Collection insert set issued in packs in the 1994 set and features the artwork of Gene Locklear. The image of Honus squating and holding the bat is from a famous photo from his playing days. The back of the card features a collage of all the subjects in the nine card set. The bottom of the card even has a stamped number, but this serial number does not say how many total sets were produced.

While writing this post I assumed unopened boxes could be found cheaply on ebay, but a couple searches later and I haven't found one unopened box listed, only singles, so maybe there is no demand for these cards to warrant any listings. I doubt these cards are in short supply, so patience may be needed to locate an unopned box.

If you are looking to add these cards to your collection you will find attractive, well designed cards and will learn about players from baseballs rich and storied past.