Monday, May 30, 2011

90's Insert card of the Month

I am going to start a new feature on the blog that I'll post once a month, starting with today's inaugural post for May. This feature is going to pay homage to an insert card from the 1990's, the decade the insert chase card exploded in popularity and helped to establish today's current card hobby. As the feature chugs along, I may dip into the late 80's for examples, since Fleer was inserting cards into its rack and cello packs in the same manner as inserts from the 90's. All the cards featured will be from my personal collection, being a teenager for most of the decade, I collected heavily during this time and have boxes of insert cards.

Each month I'll pick a different card and take a look at the player featured and the insert or insert sets importance at the time of issue. Most of the cards I'll feature have little value and many are cards I would still rather not have in my collection. For many, they are examples of the excess and one upmanship between the card companies that dominated the hobby, but I thought this would be a fun exercise to look back at cards that have been overlooked or forgotten in the last decade or two.

The card for May is a 1992 Donruss Diamond Kings Cal Ripken Jr, DK5. I pulled this card from foil packs in 1992 and this card was the cornerstone of my collection growing up. For the first time since its introduction in 1982 Donruss took the very popular Diamond Kings subset, which featured paintings of popular major league players by Dick Perez, out of the main set and inserted them into its packs. Cards 1-13 were inserted in Donruss Series One and 14-26 were inserted in Series Two packs.

I remember these cards creating quite a stir among collectors upon their release. Donruss used a simplistic design that really makes the painting the main focal point. Add some gold foil stamping and random insertion in packs and you had a early 1990's insert card that collectors went gaga over. I bought a lot of 1992 Donruss hoping to pull these cards and the ultra rare Donruss Elite. I did pull another Diamond King, DK11 Jeff Bagwell. This set helped to establish the practice by card companies to included multiple different insert sets in its base release. These cards were added incentive for collectors and helped to drive a product with their inflated value as collectors jumped from one insert set to the next. Today these cards can be found on ebay for less than one dollar and can be a nice addition for a player collector.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

1991 Score Dream Team: Doug Jones

This card today comes from my original childhood collection, and was issued by Score during the height of over production. By 1991, I was really into collecting baseball cards, after acquiring my first cards in 1987. Topps was my favorite, but I also bought packs of the other brands as well. My original collection is really a hodge podge, mostly consisting of junk wax. I didn't really have any direction or goal. Since I relied on my parents or my allowance, I didn't have the money to build sets. I just bought pack of cards when ever I had the chance. Although, Score is a brand I probably have the least amount of cards from, compared to the other brands like 1991 Fleer, where I bought too much.

Score's Dream Team is definitely my favorite subset from the junk wax era. These cards were found in Score's sets from 1990 to 1993 and usually featured black and white photos. This card is one of the more unique ones created by Score. Doug is featured staring into a fiery baseball that he is holding. I'm not really sure what the point of the picture is since the back of the card states, Doug has a average fastball. A quick Wikipedia search also confirms this revealing, he had a two seam fastball that peaked in the low to mid 80's. Doug found success in the closer role as a change up specialist and was known for keeping hitters off balance with extremely slow pitches. So I'm really not sure what the photographer was going for, but it is still a cool looking card. What I find more impressive then the ball is Doug's mustache. That is one very thick mustache, He looks like he could be a character from the Major League movies. The execution of some of these cards is hit and miss, not every Dream Team card could create a stir in the hobby like the Bo Jackson in shoulder pads.

Seeing how popular Brian Wilson's beard is today, I think another closer should revive the Doug Jones mustache.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

2009 Topps 206 Nolan Reimold

Thanks to Nolan Reimold, the Orioles have reached the .500 mark, 24-24 for the first time since May first. Nolan went 4-4 today with two home runs and four RBI to help the O's completed a sweep of the Royals and win their fifth straight. Vladamir Guerrero hit a bouncing single up the middle to score Robert Andino from second to win the game in the bottom of the twelfth.

So far this season the O's have been very inconsistent, and still cannot beat the Yankees or Red Sox. To stay competitive in the division they need some wins against their A.L. East foes. With the offense beginning to heat up the last few games, I'm hoping they can extend their winning record into the summer.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Action Packed All-Star Gallery: Davey Johnson

HI-PRO Marketing produced an 84 card set in 1992 under the name Action Packed. This set featured past baseball greats and Hall of Famers and cards were issued in seven card foil packs. I pulled this card from my Fairfield jumbo pack break a few weeks ago, these packs always include a few oddball cards.

The card is thick and kind of feels like a credit card. The card has multiple layers of card stock.The front is embossed, with the likeness of Davey Johnson raised above the card. While the back has more of a plastic layer. The back includes Johnson's bio, his life time stats and a long list of career highlights.
For an oddball set, the backs include a lot of information and the cards are very detailed with all the gold foil.
Davey Johnson is not a Hall of Famer but he did win two World Series titles with the Orioles in 1966 and 1970, playing second base. Since I was born in the early eighties, I am not very familiar with Johnson's career has a player, to me Davey Johnson is the last manager to take the Orioles to the playoffs, when he did so in 1996 and 1997. In 97', Johnson lead the Orioles to an A.L. East title and he was awarded American League Manager of the Year. Today, it is amazing to think this happened fourteen years ago, and I was sad to see Johnson resign because of a rumored disagreement with owner Peter Angelos. At the time, O's fans didn't realize this was the beginning of the end and no one could foresee the losing streak the Orioles continue to endure. Today, Davey Johnson continues to be active in baseball, he managed team USA in the last World Baseball Classic in 2009.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Josh Johnson Is Following Me

A trip to Target finally provided me with a chance to sample some Gypsy Queen. An employee was putting new product on the shelf so I had first crack at the fresh wax. I decided to try my luck with one of each and bought a blaster, one rack pack and a single pack from a opened box. This is significantly more than I originally intended but this release has been extremely difficult to find.

When this set was originally announced I didn't think much of it except that Topps was yet again releasing another retro set, and I wondered if there was really a need for another set like Allen and Ginter. The images on the sell sheet looked nice but nothing really caught my eye, except for the minis, so I told myself I would buy a pack or two as a sample. Since then and with the lack of product available in my area, I have seen these cards all over other blogs and I gradually began to like what I saw. I'm not going to build the set but I have decided to buy more of the product. I would love to pull the Markakis auto and I may try another blaster and pick up a few more rack packs. I really like the retail exclusive green framed parallels and my pack yielded a Brooks Robinson. I'm not going to show the cards from this break, its been done already and everyone is well acquainted with the release by now. Most of you have moved on to 2011 Bowman. From the loose pack I pulled this card.

I was hoping for an Oriole, but Josh Johnson is a solid player and the pin strip is a nice added touch. In my last post I mentioned I had yet again bought another Topps Value Box and I had kept it on my desk for a few days before opening the packs. When I did get around to opening the two Heritage packs I found my old Friend Josh Johnson again.

For me, it is a rare occasion to pull two relics in the same week, especially of the same player. I only have a couple relics in my collection so this came as a bit of a surprise. Both cards are for trade if anyone is interested, just drop me a line.

Overall Gypsy Queen has been a nice surprise and very popular with collectors. I like the inclusion of legends and past stars in the checklist, especially players like Barry Larkin and Ozzie Smith who you don't see that often in a new set. With the success of the inaugural release of Gypsy Queen, I assume we will see a second edition of the set next year.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Power of Value

I don't know if other collectors have this problem, but I seem to be a sucker for repacks and value packs. I have a hard time not purchasing these items when I visit one of the large retail outlets. The new revamped Fairfield jumbo packs; 100 cards for five dollars, have me hooked again with the allure of vintage cards. Sometimes, really most of the time, I find these packs to be more gratifying to open than a pack of cards from a  current release, mainly because most new releases come packaged for retail with six to eight cards per pack for around three dollars. The value packs also offer more variety, even junk wax is more variety sometimes when there is nothing else of interest in the card aisle. Last but not least, it is a lot of fun to pull a vintage card from a pack of cards.

I have found I am also not immune to the various incarnations of value products Topps now produces, including the value rack packs and especially the value boxes with Topps series one and two Heritage hobby packs. I bought my fourth box the other day. I didn't really need it. I have already completed the three card refractor set and I'm not building the Topps base, but since I'm building this years Heritage set, I tell myself I may pull a short print or two I may need. I also continue to buy these boxes under the delusion I'll redeem a star vintage card from the Topps diamond site, even though the best card I have redeemed is a common low number from 1960.

The power of adding some value, actual or perceived is a very real marketing tool that I continue to fall for, especially when I am looking to open some cards and nothing on the shelves catches my eye. Right now is one of those times. I am not interested in Bowman and Gypsy Queen has been out of sight in my area. When I'm not looking to spend much I grab these packs and boxes, the value boxes are cheaper than a blaster and has the same amount of cards and contain enough variety for the consumer to return again. I guess this is what Topps and Fairfield are counting on and what make these packages successful in places like Walmart and Target, since they can appeal to a longtime or casual collector. It looks like value packs will be my purchase of choice for the immediate future, or until Allen and Ginter is released this summer.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Card of the Week: 1968 Ed Kirkpatrick

This card is a recent acquisition to my collection. I was in Target and picked up a repack 100 card jumbo pack issued by the Fairfield Co. Fairfield has revamped these jumbo packs. They no longer promise ten Hall Famers in each pack, but continue to offer memorabilia cards, but now at a rate of one in eight packs.The back tells you the memorabilia cards can be relic cards or autos. The packaging also tells you to look for vintage cards from the 50's, 60's and 70's. I was very skeptical of what vintage card I would find, expecting a late 1970's common, but decided to give it a shot for five dollars. I was pleasantly surprised when I opened this pack. I spotted the Ed Kirkpatrick card right away in the stack. I knew the card would more than likely be a common but not a 1968 Topps, and flipping the card over revealed it was also a high number.

The condition is also not as bad as I expected. The card is slightly miscut and does have three soft corners, but no creases. This card is in better shape than most of the cards I redeemed through the Topps Million Card Giveaway last year. This pack also contained six other mid to late seventies cards and a bunch of early 80's cards. Of course, it wouldn't be a repack without a fair share of junk wax cards but it included enough vintage that I may pick up another pack sometime.

Friday, May 6, 2011

2009 Topps Allen and Ginter pack break

This is the first chance I have had to post since returning home from Nashville. I was hoping to open some Gypsy Queen but there was none to be seen when I stopped at Target after work today. Instead I found a discounted pack of 2009 Allen and Ginter that I couldn't pass up, so I'll share what was inside today.

Pretty standard fare here, this pack was dominated by Cubs and Mariners. Derek Lee is having a real slow start with the Orioles this year. His defense at first base as been great and a real asset to the infield, but hopefully he can find some of the power he exhibited when he played in Chicago.

The real highlight of the pack and the reason I bought the pack, besides the discounted price, is the mini and I was happy to pull one of a negro league player. Frank Evans had a long career in the Negro Leagues playing and managing for numerous teams until he became a major league instructor and scout in the 1960's and 70's.

This wraps up my short pack break, hopefully I'll be able to post a more substantial topic in the next few days.