I hate it, but it’s a part of my brain that grabs a hold of me and won’t let go.
Do you remember that car commercial from 15 years ago or so, the one where the woman wanted a new car and it became an obsession for…a car was growing on her forehead. Every time she saw a car, the forehead protuberance enlarged to a point that she bought a damn car. Well, that’s how I felt about Project 2020, or more slickly branded as MMXX by The Topps Company, Inc.
Roman Numerals for the masses. Honestly, the Roman Numerals looked great for that mostly forgettable year.
So, the draw for me to this specific set was the infusion of sports and art via the medium of a baseball card…in a magnetic holder. I love all of those things and think they are fantastic. Those three things fill the parts of my life not given to family, work and rest.
When the news of the cards were released around this time last year (…I believe…) I was already on board and decided I was going to pursue this set until I realized the cost + the quantity of cards.
400 cards and $20 each is $8,000. That’s a couple cases of cards, well one case in today’s market…but you get the idea. So I changed my focus about 20 cards into the set. I decided I was only going to buy the PC guys that were released, along with Mike Trout…just because he’s Mike Trout. So, what that meant was that every release of:
I was in. I had to be in.
I have to admit, it was fun to see the cards roll out. Almost became a burden on some days. If 2020 was a regular year, I’m not sure I would have pursued these cards so diligently. Vacation would have gotten in the way. Deadlines would have distracted me and I would have missed a date or two. But I was home every day in front of my computer every day and the forehead swelling didn’t go away. In fact, it’s still there.
Now that the frenetic ebb and flow of the MMXX cards is in full ebb mode, you can get them pretty cheap on electronic Bay. Like $5 in some cases. So, I’m going to nickel and dime my way to a complete set, well five and ten my way to a complete set and infill with my Rickey’s, Donny’s, Jeet’s and Trout’s. Luckily (I’m sure there’s a better word than lucky…) I picked up the more valuable and popular guys from that set already, so I’m hoping I can work through this fairly efficiently. Also, hoping to make some trades with a few folks on twitter to get the ball rolling.
Here’s a couple newer ones I’ve made deals with to procure for the set:
With all that in mind, I’ve started a new tab at the top of the page for the set. It’s up there, to the right…second row…on the end. Click it. I have a google doc of the cards that I’ve already purchased and the ones that I’ve picked up on eBay the last couple of weeks.
So, the big question…will I participate in P70?
Thanks for reading as always!
I don’t buy clothes often…but i got a new hoodie and i love it. I got it from the guy on the left. He’s Masta Ace. One of my favorite emcee’s of all-time. Next to him is Craig G, followed by Kool G. Rap and lastly, my favorite emcee of all-time, Big Daddy Kane. They were part of the Juice Crew back in the ’80’s and made a posse cut call ‘The Symphony’. In my mind, that’s the greatest posse cut of all-time and it ain’t even close. Here’s the hoodie along with my scruffy chin and the video.
History has always been something I was fond of, something that I actually did well in when I was in school. As I’ve gotten older though, my focus and ability to research has decreased significantly. Life gets in the way. Between work, tending to our eight year old, taking care of our two cats, a dog and of course, spending real quality time with the bride. I have to prioritize extracurricular hobbies and interests. That includes my interest in researching baseball history. Almost to the point where I’m just stuck attempting to remember what I watched when I was a teen and going from there. The attic has gotten a little dusty my friends. My memories have faded to questionable facts and made me hesitant to believe baseball truths that I once knew. It’s all diminished, really.
Every once in a while I’ll read a baseball book. I finished a couple over the summer and have plans of getting at least three – four more baseball focused books in before the end of the year. But plans are tenuous when you’re busy adulting in life. One thing I do find time for is a card shop visit every couple of weeks. I’m lucky to have two so close to me, Hoody’s and The Sports Room. They balance each other nicely. The Sports Room is the closest, oldest and the one I’ve gone to the most, but their selection is a little limited for the way I collect. Our other shop is Hoody’s. It’s the place I go to pick up items I won from their eBay shop. I do the in-store pickup to avoid shipping costs and it gives me a chance to see what they have new in store.
I stopped in a few months ago, around June or July…sometime over the summer to pick up a few Washington Football Team cards and noticed they restocked their junk wax shelves. The shelves are a great way to buy something to open with little guarantee and most importantly, little cost. You can get all of your junk wax box needs filled for Baseball, Football, Basketball and Hockey for an appropriate price…read, less than $30. When I stopped in there back over the summer they had about five boxes of the 1991 Conlon Collection cards. Each box was a mere $15. The cards aren’t noteworthy or overly exciting, but they do have a great place in baseball history…something that I love and enjoy. I’ve seen these cards over the years and thought they were decent and somewhat attractive. Simple and clean. Something that piqued my interest from time to time, but never thought about purchasing, that is…until that day. I had an itch to rip something and the price was right so I grabbed the box that was in the best shape, picked up a couple supplies and headed home. When i got home, i’m sure there was some shit going down in the house. So, the box was stored in the cabinet and forgotten about. Forgotten until i stumbled across an older Cardboard Connection article from 2014, by Ryan Cracknell.
When you open a $15 box of cards, you certainly don’t expect much. I surely did not.
Just 36 packs of 18 black and white cards.
And I loved it.
My first impression of the cards was that they were far nicer than I had ever thought they would be. My second impression of the cads was why in the hell would they wrap them in cellophane without any way to rip the packs open. Seriously, what in the hell. I had to grab a pair of scissors to get into these cards. I’ve never used scissors to open a pack of cards ever…EVER! First world issues I guess.
As I mentioned, the cards were no simple. No frills. That said, I thought the photography was phenomenal. I loved the portraits from the sets namesake Charles Martin Conlon. A skilled photographer from the first half of last century. The images capture the look and feel of the time along with some great history. Conlon’s collection was purchased by The Sporting News (1888-2012 as print) and therefore, the now defunct sports magazine (they gotta website though!) has its name associated with these cards.
Here are a few of my favorite cards from the sets. I combined them into a couple different groups based on noticeable things to me. But maybe if you’ve worked on this set, you have some other favorites. Of course, i have to start with the Yankees and one of the most famous trips to the injured list, Wally Pipp and Lou Gehrig.
George Herman “The Bambino” or “The Sultan of Swat” Ruth. One of the great things about these beautifully simple cards is their backs. They offer up a full career of your basic baseball stats, along with the basics of the guy and in some cases a great little story. Well, the Babe’s career was pretty illustrious, that they were only able to reference Roger’s summer of 61 homers in 1961 to surpass Ruth’s 34 year old record. When you start to review the stats on the back of these cards, you really get an idea of how dominant a player Babe was…albeit against white players only. If our country wasn’t so deeply rooted in racism, it would have been a wonderful thing to see what Babe could have done against Satch, Bullet Rogan or Ray Brown.
The nicknames and this cards set willingness to embrace those nicknames is great. The thing i noticed right out the first pack though was the amount of players with Chief associated with their names. In two of the three cases below, the players were indeed Native Americans and i would only assume that the guys were ok with the nicknames, but who knows. The perception with a 2021 lens would never allow this to happen. Different times. Apparently, Chief Wilson was not a Native American…but some felt he resembled that of a Texas Ranger Chief and adorned him with the mildly inappropriate nickname. Can’t imagine that ever happening again.
We also have a General that wasn’t quite a General. He was at least in America’s Army…so there was some kinda connection to the military based name.
OK, I’m very familiar with Walter Johnson…Jimmy Austin, not so much. The thing that drew me to these two cards though was the similarity…at least to my minds eye…to Robin Williams. Maybe Williams from ‘The World According to Garp’ or ‘Mork & Mindy’ even…not so much the ‘Ms. Doubtfire’ days. But seriously, don’t these two photos look like Robin Williams…come on!!??!?!
Lefty’s. Lot’s of Lefty’s. Grove’s, Gomez’s and a Stewart to name a few. I understand why a Lefty gets his nickname, but i wondered if a Righty has ever been called Righty? What about the new ambidextrous guys taking the mound these days…do they get a nickname?
The next group of photos starts to get into the portraits that I loved with these cards. The eyes. The facial texture and our ability to get a sense of their emotions or concerns through the photographers lens was powerful to me. The Connie Mack cards really had me taking time to look at his portrait. You can see the age in his face, the stress. He’s a man that led one of the most dominant baseball franchises in history.
One of the other spectacular things about these cards were the Great Stories portion of the set. Each card in this section has a paragraph or two from ‘The Glory of Their Times’. I’ve owned this book for a couple years now, but never got around to reading it. (adds to my Goodreads list…)
All Time Leader cards pick up near the end of the set along with some great descriptions about the players. I do appreciate that they didn’t highlight the number one guy, but rather the second or third one in some cases. Besides, who doesn’t want a Spud Davis card?
After seeing this card, i thought it would be great to do some kind of small set with players from different generations that had the same name. I would imagine Bill “Spaceman” Lee and this guy would have some opposing views of the world if they were able to discuss them.
The last couple of cards were my favorite from the set. Paul “Big Poison” Waner’s photo is just simply majestic. The baggy pants. The snarly look. The long knobless bat held at the waist line. Everything about this cards speaks to the great history of the game. Waner is one of those past time greats that get lost in the history of the game, but his tremendous career brought him to the Hall of Fame in 1952. The last card is one of my all-time heroes, Lou Gehrig. One of the books i read over the summer was the ‘The Lost Memoir’, which was a collection of stories that Lou has partially written for the Times when he was playing with the Yankees. Some of the stories were ghost written by a more formidable writer, but you get a great sense of the humility and self-lessness he had as a player and as a person. Definitely one of the all-time great players and humans.
Well, i hoped you enjoyed that recap. As you may have guessed i will be putting this set together. I’ve done some additional research and see that this set is a continuously numbered set going over 1200 cards and through 1994. The one rub though is that some of the photos, well…a bunch of the photos get reused. So be it…once i’ve started, i must continue. I am a completionist!
thanks again for reading!
And now, time for something completely different…well, mostly. It uses baseball as a metaphor for police brutality…so, yeah…baseball.
I’ve never been one to join a group, not really a group joiner. Never wanted to be associated with a specific cohort or any kind of click. I felt it was unnecessary or just really not for me…partially due to anxiety, partially due to an unwillingness to interact with people I felt might not click well with me. I’ve always been like that, well, I’ve mostly been like that. The past few years I’ve shifted a bit and have opened up to others. There have been a few catalysts for this. The bride for one, of course. But also realizing that connecting with people that share your interests is important. I’ve been able to make some of that happen with the card show guys I stop by each month, well…each month prior to 2020.
Earlier last year, I was asked to attend a group meeting with other card collectors by Terry Kneis. He’s been my go to vintage guy through the years. Not because of his charming personality…because, that isn’t his M.O. I like to stop by his table because he is crazy organized. Possibly over the top organized for a card show table at times. There is a definite sense of needing to ask permission to see his cards. I think that tends to push people away most of the time…but for me, I love it. I LOVE that he controls his product to a point that it doesn’t get disturbed by randos. All of his cards are in order by year. Every card has a price on the back. The lesser expensive ones come in penny sleeves and the expensive ones include top loaders. For me, it’s a time saver that I cherish…plus, he offers up a chair for you to sit and go through your items!!! That’s right a chair at a card show!!! I can sit down with my phone, go through my google doc spreadsheet and check off the cards I pull as I put them aside.
HUGE TIME SAVER YA’LL!!!
When I get home, my checklist is updated and all I have to do is remove the penny sleeves and drop the cards in their respective binders. Have I mentioned the time saver aspect?
Back to the club part of this wandering story…Terry invited about 25 gents and ladies to his house earlier last February for the Oregon Sports Card Association meeting. It was a quaint gathering with a wide variety of vintage card collectors. I was definitely out of my league, as far as baseball knowledge but had a great time. At the end of the gathering, Terry hands out a manilla envelope with a special gift for the days participants. Me being a newcomer to the group, Terry handed me a $100 off any card that he was selling from his house that day. The caveat was that it had to be from an assortment of cards on a special table. Well, this was on that table and I had to grab it. I could not pass this beautiful card up. It was phenomenal. Sensational even.
1956 Jackie Robinson – #30
I haven’t really dug into the ‘50’s sets yet, so this is about as nice of a first card as you could get…in my mind.
One of the activities during the meeting was a trivia party where I was teamed up with an older gentlemen, Steve. Steve has won many of these competitions and wasn’t overly thrilled to have a new jack join his team, but I think I held my own. We didn’t come in first place, but we did finish tied for second. Which was great if you ask me. Having come in second place, were granted the choice of one card from a 1950’s binder with semi-stars and could pick one card under $80. I went with this beautiful Monte Irvin card…mostly because I had just wrapped up reading Willie Mays biography and Monte was heavily involved in much of that storytelling…plus I thought it seemed appropriate to pick a Dodger and a Giant on the same day.
1954 Monte Irvin – #3
Today also marks the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. I hope everyone has had a chance to listen to one of his important speeches or read an article about his life. He was a great man that fought for change that people are still fighting for today. Maybe one day, we’ll get a chance to see past our skin color and political viewpoints and move forward as humans. It’s a lot to ask for, but it’s also something that is very well achievable in our lifetime. I sure hope for my kids sake that we can get there. So, Happy MLK day everyone. Fuji shared a couple of his favorite MLK cards over at The Chronicles of Fuji and i wanted to share the first three i could find today.
As always, thank you for reading!
Here’s a video of my favorite speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
We all have our idols, people we look up to as kids. We worship them. Not those important parental or educator types…the unattainable kind. Actors. Artists. Musicians. Entertainers. Athletes. Sometimes we grow out of that youthful infatuation and sometimes we hold them for our entire lives. It becomes an eternal adoration or idolization. For me, that person was Rickey Henderson. Yeah, he’s a love him / hate him kinda guy. He can be aloof and impersonal, distant and at times. Possibly even off-putting for some of those old school baseball folks that players should be less flashy and less self-aware. Rickey played to the beat of his own drum. He was the soloist in the Miles Davis quintet. A player that could make a team great, but by his own right was great as well. A singular character that played for some of the greatest Oakland Athletic teams in the 1990’s.
My initial attraction to him as a player was in 1982. I was six going on seven. He was headed towards 130 stolen bases. Stealing bases like he was put on earth to do just that…well, rattle the opposing teams pitcher as well…and I loved it. For me, that was IT! On the other hand, the baseball my father loved were the George Brett and Mike Schmidt kinda guys, phenomenal hitting third basemen that had a completely different way they approached the game of baseball…by no means bad at all…just different.
Around this time, I really began to love the game but didn’t have a favorite team. I grew up in San Antonio and really was not into the Astros with their sherbet rainbow pullovers or the players, short of Nolan Ryan. The other option I had as a kid in Texas was the Texas Rangers…yeah…NO. I had already fully established myself as a Washington Football Team (nee Redskins) fan and couldn’t attach myself to a Dallas area team of any kind. So, for the short time being I was a half-hearted A’s fan…really a Rickey Henderson fan, and he just so happened to play for the Oakland Athletics. This all changed in the Winter of 1984. He was traded to the New York Yankees. By this time, I’m a nine year old savant baseball fan…not really. I just watched games and bought baseball cards, but I loved the game so so so much before my first decade on earth. So, now it seemed like the perfect time to pick a ‘favorite’ team. Well, I might as well pick the team that my favorite player plays for, right? The New York Yankees. Yes. The Bronx Bombers or Evil Empire depending on whom you root for yourselves. I was a Rickey Henderson fan first and a Yankees fan second, but a close second, really it was 1A and 1B
By this time, my parents had split up and I was your typical latchkey ’80’s kid. The son of a single working mom. She attended night school working towards her bachelor’s degree. She worked a lot and we were ok financially, by no means set, but we were good. Well, not good enough to do anything we wanted to do, like take a trip somewhere fun and exciting. My mom knew this but she also knew how much baseball meant to me during the summer of ’87. She managed to purchase two seats for the New York Yankees vs. Texas Rangers in Arlington. Just a mere five hour drive to the north on I-35. That’s how far Rickey Henderson was from me. My idol. In my mind I was going to meet him and we were going to become great friends and I would write him and he would write me. I had it all planned out, you see. My mother reminded me that you should never meet your idols or those that you admire as they will underwhelm you. I wasn’t going for that. I wanted to get his autograph and tell him that he was my favorite player. Nobody in Texas could possibly be as big a fan as I was. I was his biggest fan in the biggest state…well the biggest state in the contiguous continent.
We headed up to Arlington early that Saturday morning for the five hour drive. South Texas is hot, but North Texas ain’t much better. The old 1984 Buick Skylark had marginal AC at it’s best and a strong tendency to overheat and breakdown on occasion. Guess what? It did just that. Broke down. On the side of the highway just north of Austin. Barely an hour outside of our home. That was it. I wasn’t going to see my favorite player on my favorite team play. I was dejected. Broken. On the verge of tears. Keep in mind, I was a kid that didn’t cry much, my expressions were released more physically and in a way that now embarrass me. My mom could see this and to her credit, she wasn’t letting this trip get away. After we found out from the local mechanic that we could ‘maybe’ make it to Arlington and back if we take it slow and constantly check the coolant in the engine we would be able to complete our road trip. And so, we did. I will never forget this act from my mother, she pressed forward when the smart thing was to turn back around and play it safe…she pressed forward. That five hour drive turned into a nearly 7 hour drive. We ended up going straight to the park, deciding to check into the Holiday Inn after the game. Arriving just in time for the first pitch. This wasn’t my first baseball game, but it was my first game outdoors, I had been to a few games in the Astrodome. This was different and it was AMAZING! The New York Yankees, THE NEW YORK FRICKIN’ YANKEES vs. the Rangers. We quickly made our way to the seats to watch Jose Guzman get Mattingly to ground out to first. I missed Rickey’s first at bat…damn.
Rickey came up three more times that night and ended up going 1-3 with a single. No stolen bases and a loss for the New York Yankees. Side note, this was also the last night Don Mattingly homered during his eight game consecutive streak. Knocking a dinger of Guzman in the 4th inning. I got to see that and that was a great piece of history to be a part of.
The next night, July 19th. Rickey doesn’t show up for pre-game warm ups. Rickey doesn’t have his name on the scoreboard. Rickey doesn’t play. Damn. We were headed back in the morning and I got to see my idol come to bat three times with one single and no stolen bases. Not to mention, this Sunday night, Mattingly goes homerless for the first time since July 8th and the Yankees lose 3-20. I did get to see Rick Cerone pitch to Bobby Witt, with Witt almost taking him deep with a couple long foul balls.
I did manage to get a photo of Rickey at the game and here it is!
Apparently approaching players in the bullpen during a game for an autograph is a no-no. Charles Hudson was happy to let me know that was the case. The trip wasn’t a failure, but it was not a success either in my 11 year old mind.
Let’s fast forward to 1990. The Oakland Athletics are dominant, like one of the greatest of all time teams dominant. A true murderers row of sluggers and solid defense. My mom always coming through knew how amazing it would be for me to see Rickey once again. She knew he was my guy, the only player that I really ever cared this much about. She did it again. For my 15th birthday, she got two tickets for the two games at the end of September. The last games of the season for both teams…well almost last games. We had tickets to the Saturday and Sunday games in Arlington. Same long hot drive, although less hot due to Fall all around us. Also, mom had a new car, a 1990 Corsica! Yeah! No need to stop and check the engine coolant, plus we were actually able to roll the windows down on this trip.
Our arrival this time allows us to check in to the hotel, get some food and head to the game for early BP. By this time I was a seasoned autograph hound and knew where to place myself for in-person autographs of players I wanted to sign. My mom hated this though, it meant we were in an incredibly uncomfortable hotbox of a stadium on a 90degree day. She had nothing better to do than to just sit in the stands and read a book while I grabbed the autos of my favorite players.
As I made my way to the lower bowl, I attempted to get McGwire autograph which was an absolute joke. He was swarmed and wasn’t even getting close to him. Canseco? Forget about it…Weiss signed. Lansford signed. The Eck even signed a few. The whole time I had my eye on Rickey. Rickey took batting practice. Rickey took in some sprints. Rickey untied his shoes. Rickey tied his shoes. Rickey walked around the batting cage. I’m standing off to the side just waiting, having given up on the other superstars. I wanted my superstars autograph.
Rickey had his head down. Rickey was walking to me. I was modestly shouting Mr. HENDER-SON. Rickey got close. My modesty turned to one of those Beatles fan-girl videos and I was just straight up shouting. RICKEY, RICKEY, RICKEY. Rickey looks up. Rickey sees me. Rickey walks towards me. Rickey gets closer. In seconds, I’m swarmed by other auto hounds…pushed aside by some adults that do not need to be here, but this is my chance. I am not going to fail. I am going to get this autograph. Rickey signs that guys card. Rickey signs that kids card. Then suddenly, Rickey signs my card. HOLY SHIT. I’m shaking…I got Rickey Henderson’s autograph during batting practice on September 29th 1990 on a 1990 Donruss, number 304. Here it is.
This is the last autograph I’ve ever asked of someone in person or through the mail, I stopped doing TTM’s. I stopped getting to games early for batting practice autographs. It all stopped. I got the autograph I wanted. Rickey Henderson. Just wish I had a better pen…
I’m your idol the highest title, numero uno…And now, a special presentation from Special Ed…He has a frog, a dog with a solid gold bone.
I’m one of those brave souls…or maybe just foolish physical manifestations of a current human being? I went to a card show this past Saturday.
Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.
It was a card show with other collector’s, other humans. People that have different priorities than me. People that may think facts and science are negotiable. In the time of a major pandemic. In an area where the numbers are not going down. It was risky. I grant you that. Of course I wore my mask and sanitized the hell out of my hands before i left the car and once I got back into the car. I did my best to not touch every single thing I see, but then again I’m not four years old…that part was easy. Sports card collectors have not traditionally been the healthiest of crews. We all know what I’m talking about without saying it…but I’ma say it anyways.
We’re all some version of the stereotypical cardboard hoarder; the fried food eating, soda drinking, epic hit oversharing, hunched over a box of cards looking to score a big hit kinda person. That person, we all know them and we own some of those characteristics. I know I do…the fried food, love it. Sodas, love ‘em. Hunched over a box, my neck is sore after every show I go to. Ironically though, well, maybe not ironic…maybe it’s just a timing thing with this post. For the month of January, the bride and I are doing a thirty day cleanse after a much needed year of eating and drinking our feelings. Drowning our sorrows in whiskey and wine all year while chasing it with some burgers and fries hasn’t done our bodies well. We’re one full week and I’m feeling significantly better…but enough about me.
Let’s talk about some commandments in the hobby that I abide by and how some of them relate to card shows and collecting. I know some folks around here have noted some type of community agreement for card shows and collecting in general, so these are from my perspective. Oh yeah, I’ve based them on the Notorious BIG’s “Ten Crack Commandments”. Very possibly inappropriate and most likely have very little to do with the actual hobby in itself, but I’ve always wanted to mix this song into a blog post. So, I may be going all over the place here and relate absolutely nothing back to the hobby…but you should read because I think it’s fun and I’ve got 1960 Topps cards in between…Let’s go…sorry, as one of my favorite colleagues says…one more thing. The cards and the stories have absolutely nothing to do with each other. You’ve been warned. Ok. NOW. Let’s go.
Number ONE! Biggie Says: Never let no one know.
My hobby isn’t really a secret, but I do like to stay somewhat anonymous. I’ve tried to scrub my name from the blog and rarely…if ever posted a photo of myself. The bride has suggested that this is not a good way to drum up business and attract readers or buyers. Her thought is that people want to know who they’re dealing with. My thought is that I don’t want that. I like anonymity and I like blending in. I’ve never been one to stand out in a crowd and don’t really feel the need to stand out in the hobby. Who knows though, maybe she’s correct. I often find myself googling other blog authors or collectors to see who they are (does that make me a stalker…?) I’m not on the facebooks, so it’s a challenge to find faces and match them up with their blogs. So, I fully embrace the notion of letting no one know. A fun future blogger game would be to match the face with the blog. That would be a fantastic year end game to play…?
Number TWO! Biggie Says: Never let ‘em know your next move.
This one relies heavily on secrecy and finding a “honey hole” of sorts…no, scratch that. That’s a horrible term. Maybe it’s really just a favorite spot. I have those. But I share them. I know some folks have a Target or Walmart that they hit up during a certain time of day during a specific day to grab those retail commodity boxes…guess those folks play to the never let ‘em know your next move. I’m not big on that, I think that sucks. Share and share alike I say. So maybe this one applies to some, but not me.
Number THREE! Biggie Says: Never trust nooobody.
So, this one may be ABOUT me and I’m still feeling a little guilt about it. When I was at the show Saturday I stopped by Bill’s table (Gavin knows this guy). Bill is an older gentlemen that lives in Salem, about an hour south of Portland. He buys card lots from people and has about 4 tables of 10cent, 50cent and Dollar cards. The dollar cards though, if you buy seven of them it only costs you $5! It’s been that way forever…or at least like 10years forever, that’s how long I’ve been hitting up these shows…I mean, I’ve been going to these shows for over a decade and it’s always been like that…well, at least that’s what I remember. I went through the $1 cards and separated my stack into sevens and tallied up the total. I like organization, remember? As I was counting, i had an overwhelming sense he was peering over me…I believe he was…I KNOW he was. When I told him my total, he said “you sure…ok…I trust you…”. Bill can be an odd duck, but that stuck with me. I wandered around the other tables and dealers for a bit but couldn’t get it out of my head. My guilty conscience brought me back to his table to clarify if the $1 box was still 7 for 5? “Nope” was the response and the shame rained down instantly. I did a quick recount and gave him the difference in cash and explained to him my “why”. He seemed to be ok with it. I guess. I hope. I should have asked or clarified when I felt odd about his response, but I didn’t. That’s a whole nother blog post to explain those issues about me. I did square it away and I feel good about that…but f’real Never trust nobody…including yourself.
Number FOUR! Biggie Says: Never get high on your own supply.
I think this is a great one as we all do this. Opening boxes is great, right? Who doesn’t love opening things. My kid loves it. My bride loves it…hell, my dog loves it. She opens every single stuffed animal we buy her. Therefore, I too love opening boxes. I have a stash though. I love the stash…but mostly open them when I’m bored or in need of a fix. The people that hold on to boxes can really see a jump in value if they wait the right amount of time. That’s a hard thing to do, sit on something and just wait for a rainy day or come across some ebay listing that says it’s going for twice what you’ve paid for it. How does one NOT get high on their own supply at this point. Apparently 1989-90 Hoops are going for close to $100/box. That’s ridiculous…but it also proves that if you don’t get high on your own supply, you can make a buck or two plus in the future…you know, to buy more cards.
Number FIVE! Biggie Says: Never sell no crack where you rest at.
I am a collector first and foremost. This is an expensive hobby though…like really expensive, especially the last couple of years. I’ve been listing my cards on ebay now, quite a bit. I’ve also done well, so much so that I’ve opened a shop on ebay and have been dealing with the crazies all across the country buying my unwanted cards. Essentially running a small card shop from my home. I do mostly PWE’s and have been adding my return address just in case something gets lost or ends up bouncing back and forth between Miami and Minneapolis. I don’t mind fellow bloggers having my addy, but not some coocoo man from Florida type that could receive a card they don’t like and decide to take a road trip to the PNW. I’m thinking of getting a PO Box to help with this issue so I’m not selling no crack…cards where I rest at forever.
Number SIX! Biggie Says: That got damn credit? Dead it!
Cards are expensive, remember when I mentioned that in item 5? Yeah…really expensive. How many collector’s run up a debt in their collecting process? Hopefully not many, but I’m certain some do. Living on credit is tough during these Soylent Green sorts of days and almost necessary for some of us. But man, that got damn credit? Dead it. If I can’t pay cash for a card, I don’t need said card…that’s mostly the impetus for selling so much on ebay. Ultimately, my goal would be to not spend any of my day job money on cards and just get to a point where I can spend card sales money on cards!
Number SEVEN! Biggie Says: Keep your family and business completely separated.
I love my family. They love me…even my 8 year old. The dog loves me. At least one of our cats loves me…not sure about the other one. He’s definitely more of a momma’s boy. They all have some kind of idea what I do with my hobby, not explicitly, but generally. My always asks why I collect cards and in return I ask why he always plays video games…it’s because we enjoy it. Also, we’re both incredibly anxious and these things help our emotions stay in control. Part of the hobby can be dense…too much for a spouse to deal with…or maybe just not want to deal with. I let the bride on to some things that we deal with in our hobby, but mostly don’t. Not because I’m hiding anything (don’t tell her about my stash!!!), but because I don’t believe it will generate a lot of interest for her. Keeping this part of my life separated from her is ok…she knows how much it means to me…she just has some concerns about the time I spend with the hobby. Maybe the hobby does its own part in keeping family and business separated…?
Number EIGHT! Biggie Says: Never keep no weight on you.
So, as I mentioned in item 3, I was at Bill’s table this past Saturday. Lots of new faces in the crowd. Sneaker head faces behind their Supreme and Nike facemasks, just straight ballin’ out…sorry, that wasn’t really necessary. But seriously, the landscape of these card shows and the hobby have changed. The hobby has been influenced by influencers. I’m sure I’ve been sucked into some of it as well…I’m a sucker most of the time. Well, anyways. While at Bill’s table there was a group of twenty somethings buying graded basketball cards. Not just some basic cards, LeBron and Kobe rookies. These youngsters has some loot too. The tallest one, I’ll call him Chad for the sake of conversation. Chad pulled out a ziplock back…the kind with the plastic slider, not the integrated slider…he had the baller ziplocks. That bag was way too aggressively slammed down on the glass display case and in it was a four inch stack of cash…at least. All twenties, at least from what I could tell. Chad was not messing around. He wanted those slabs and got those slabs. The Chad gang left right after the purchase and went to their cars…I guess to unload the weight.
Number NINE! Biggie Says: Stay the F*** from police.
Well, maybe the police don’t have anything to do with this one. Other than possibly the moral collector police or the “back in my day” police. I totally get the frustration we all have with the hobby at times and the influx of new faces, but things change. I like to see this change as good for the hobby. It increases accessibility, awareness, attendance and other words starting with A’s. It also increases interest. Our hobby has had, in my mind, a negative perception for those that don’t know. We’re seen as overgrown children doing children things…collecting WHAT??!! I had those when I was a kid…why do you still collect cards…now you know why number one was so important to me. I like to see how others collect and I honestly don’t care if someone objects to my collection process or methods. This hobby is huge and has many lanes for all of us to participate in…let enjoy and not overly police others that are new to the hobby. So, not only stay the f*** from police, don’t be one!
Number TEN! Biggie Says: Consignment, if you ain’t got no clientele, say hell no!
Consignment, yeah…no thanks…well, maybe. Selling cards is tough, you really need a lot of stock to make some money in doing it. Collecting cards is also tough, you really need some good collector friends and online searches to find what you want. Do we really need consignment in our hobby? Many times I’ve been sent a link on twitter for a great Washington card and pursued it. Some times the favor was returned when I posted a card…sort of a communal sharing. Ebay is a bit of a consignment…they take a huge chunk of your change so you can sell your items to a significantly larger audience. Helpful yes. Paying for them to such a thing, not so much. But, honestly would I have sold that card without them and their reach…? I don’t know…may say hell maybe to consignment.
Hope you enjoyed the read.
Hope it was slightly entertaining and engaging.
My apologies for the ramblings, but hey…isn’t a blog supposed to be about ramblings?
Have a great evening and see you next time!
And now…the inspiration for today’s post…as well as the inspiration for the song for the post…so metta.
A few years ago, about 14 to be exact, I decided to pursue every card for the Washington Football Team, nee Washington Redskins. For years I had been collecting the cards of my favorite guys on the team, Sonny, Charley, Monk, Riggins, etc…then being upset when those players moved on to other teams…ie Champ Bailey and LaVar Arrington. I had no desire to save those guys cards since they left on somewhat bad terms. I had their cards, but no idea what to do with them…didn’t want them in new unis, save for a handful of guys. So what do I do with all those cards and how can I organize them in a way that will suffice for me. Being a fan of a team means cheering for the uniform more than the player, well maybe that’s just my opinion but yeah…I cheer for the helmet! The way sports are today, guys just don’t spend their entire career with one team…and that’s cool with me. Being forced to work in a place you may not want to work is completely understandable, regardless of the benefits and money you receive.
Freedom of choice matters…man, this is starting to get political…
Anyways, my loyalty has always been to my favorite team’s first. The Washington Football Team…redskins…
So I decided to just do what made the most sense and collect everything Washington Football related! This simplified everything and became clearer…well, far more complicated but at least I had an end game in mind…that said, the mid – 90’s to today’s checklists are out of control with all damn variations.
So here we are, what do I want to share with ya’ll today?
One of the main reasons for reviving the blog was to be more player focused in my posts. I can pick a player that had an impact with the team, like Champ or LaVar, share the cards I have and blog about it. Maybe even do some research and write a bit of a biography of sorts with cards attached. Maybe share some stories of their playing days if they were around when I was watching. Yeah, that sounds like fun to me. Research my favorite team, my favorite players, my favorite hobby…the trifecta of cis-male goodness!
Deciding who to let be the captain of this maiden voyage of Cardboard Hogs Blographies was tough though. Do I go with my favorite player from my childhood? The guy with the most success? The guy with the greatest hair? The guy with the greatest off the field stories and drunken history stories…no, I will not begin with John Riggins. I’m gonna save him for another day, not sure what the day will be…but it will be appropriate…plus I want to make sure I get it right.
I wanted to start with a player that had impact off as well as on the playing field. Someone that would leave a great impression on the world and humanity, not just sports. They had to be an important person, a respectable person and someone I wouldn’t regret being the first post in this series…like…well, I’m not going to shame anyone. If you’re a fan of this team, I’m sure you can come up with a number of names.
The person to get this ship moving in its new direction is:
Robert Cornelius Mitchell aka Bobby Mitchell, number 49 for the Washington Redskins
Born: June 6, 1935 – Hot Springs, Arkansas
Died: April 5, 2020
Drafted: 1958 NFL Draft, Round 7, Pick 84 by the Cleveland Browns
Years with Redskins: 1962 – 1968
All Pro Seasons: 1962 – 1964
Pro Bowl Season: 1960, 1962 – 1964
Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction: 1983
The year 2020 was a memorable one, not a good memorable one…but memorable nonetheless. We all know that…I’m stating the obvious. We learned a lot about ourselves and others around us as well. We found out what’s important to our family and the families of others we don’t interact with on a daily basis. Our political viewpoints have hopefully evolved and gained more empathy towards others. Hopefully we’ve gained an understanding that we all are dealing with something in our lives, life can be tough and filled with challenged but some have dealt with far greater challenges than us. This year those voices became louder and more powerful than they ever have in my lifetime, and I think it’s tremendous. A great step in the right direction for humanity as a whole.
Bobby Mitchell, The player had a impactful role as a versatile tailback and receiver in the NFL…doing just about everything to help the team get in the end zone. As a leader, he was pivotal in integrating the NFL as he was the first black player to play for the Washington Redskins when he donned the Burgundy and Gold on September 16th 1962. The last team to do so in the NFL. To put some perspective on that date, the first African Americans to play in an NFL game were Fritz Pollard and Bobby Marshall, in 1920. Now, to be clear the population of black athletes in the NFL was minimal, only 9 men took the field between 1920 and 1926. Miniscule numbers draped in ignorant racism and segregationists running the league. By the mid-40’s, the NFL would see an increase in black athletes joining teams, albeit a minor population uptick to the league. Like many throughout the country they were faced with endless forms racism daily, not just in public but also in places where they worked.
Mitchell’s path to Washington wasn’t necessarily a long welcoming route as you would imagine. The racist owner, George Preston Marshall, had refused to integrate and ultimately brought in their first African American player in ‘62. Ten years after the last teams integrated in 1952…that’s a decade of segregation added on to the previous lifetime of racism from George Preston Marshall.
As the story goes, early in 1961 Marshall was pushed to integrate his team…or lose his lease to the newly completed and modern DC Stadium (later named RFK Stadium). So, Marshall did the best he thought he could and draft a player in the upcoming NFL draft. The Redskins had the first pick in the 1962 draft and selected Ernie Davis, the 1961 Heisman Trophy Winner. Ernie not being one to deal with some bullshit refused to play for the racist owner and demanded a trade. He, very happily was sent to the Cleveland Browns where he would be a teammate of fellow Syracuse Alum, Jim Brown. A formidable backfield for the Browns. As part of that trade, Cleveland would send their first round pick that year, Leroy Jackson and Bobby Mitchell to Washington. Making Bobby Mitchell and LeRoy Jackson the first African American players to be on the Washington Redskins and in turn making the team the last NFL team to integrate…again in 1962! Again, ten years after the last NFL team to integrate and 15 years after Jackie joined the Dodgers!
Bobby Mitchell retired in 1968, he trailed only Jim Brown for most all-purpose yards racking up over 14,000 as a receiver, rusher, kick and punt returner. After his retirement, he immediately moved into a front office career as a scout with the team that refused to allow black players to be part of their organization. Now, he was helping draft and develop players to be part of the organization. Quite a turnaround for the franchise. He never made it to the position of GM, which could have been in part to lingering racism or hidden biases from the teams owners. He did end up staying with the teams front office for 34 years and on the field for 7. Forty One years as a Washington Redskin…wow. Any fan of the team knows this is an epic tenure, well it is for any sport really.
Bobby is included in the Washington Football Teams Ring of Honor and his number, 49 was posthumously retired in 2020. He is only the second player with a retired number. Sammy Baugh’s 33 is the other retired number.
Bobby Mitchell died at the age of 84 in April of 2020. The team had planned to add his number to their sleeves for the 2020 season to celebrate his life and his remarkable NFL career, but also his impact on the game. He was a legendary player that did a lot of great civil rights work off the field and was a vital part of the 60’s athlete activist group along with the likes of Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell, Jim Brown and many other important figures from that era.
A few months later in July, the Washington Redskins succumbed to the changing world and pressure from various civil right groups to drop the racist image and moniker. These were brought to the organization by George Preston Marshall and held on to for over 80 years. The organization now moves forward, for now as the Washington Football Team.
Not sure if there is anything poetic in all of this. The importance of Bobby Mitchell to the organization and his role is breaking down the barriers of racism seem to blend beautifully with the name change. When you see his number being worn on the chest of every player…it just feels right, especially in this time and this moment…It feels like the time has come to heal and move forward. To look at people as individuals doing the best they can to enjoy their time on earth, respecting everyone and having room for others differences. With Washington being the Football Team now, the importance of unity and working together to make something better is indeed poetic, to me at least…Football Team. A name that represents a group of men from all over the country and from different backgrounds, education, families, traditions, ancestry working together to achieve greatness…as one unit…as a team.
I hope you enjoyed the write up here. My intention is to make it enjoyable, something to learn from and hopefully interest you as a reader. I’m planning to do quite a few of these blogographies over the course of the year and beyond and would love to hear some thoughts from you. Thanks for reading!
I have OCD, ie…having a tendency towards excessive orderliness, perfectionism, and great attention to detail or more generally a fixation on things being where I expect them to be…at all times…you should also read that as control. I like to have control of things. Not to a “Sleeping with the Enemy” level, I’m no psycho.
When I don’t have control of my environment I can get rattled or frazzled. Thrown off kilter to a point where I can’t manage the task at hand and I need to step away, take a breath or a walk, move on to something else…or just take a nap. Yeah. That’s a defeatist perspective, but that’s how my brain works.
I’ve tried to rewire it, but to no avail.
I’ve read books on how to let go of things, but to no avail.
I’ve discussed letting go of things beyond my control with professionals, but to no avail.
Honestly, I don’t really care. I like it. It’s a daily challenge, but something I’m up for. The issue is that most of the world around me doesn’t let me work in this format. I work in an office where you collaborate or die, inclusivity is critical and unilateral decisions aren’t allowed…even if the unilateral decision is the correct one…or so I think. Maybe it’s for the better? Who knows? What I do know is that the world I live in needs to be shared with the people that accompany it with me on a daily basis, and that’s ok. Just as long as I have my cards. I can control those. I can make unilateral decisions and abandon or start a project on a whim. That’s what I’m talkin’ about!
My cards and my card space are the one thing that I’m able to control (…mostly…), and I like that. It brings me great joy. As I’ve mentioned in the past and quite recently, my card space is my respite. My place to get away. There are no windows and it can be cold. It is also a bit dark, read cozy.
The lack of windows are excellent on these mid to late winter days in the Pacific Northwest as it’s mostly dark and gray outside anyways…plus the cards don’t need vitamin D. It’s bad for them, well UV rays are bad for the cards. I’m sure they could benefit from some sort of nutrients.
The cold, on the other hand…that has a remedy. I have an electric gas fire place right next to me that I can turn on or off as needed. There are two problem with this though. It gets really, really, really hot after five minutes and one of our cats LOVES it. Loves it so much that he tends to get a little pissy when I turn it off to cool down a bit. Sometimes, the pissy-ness leads to him jumping on my table and messing up my current stack of work. Freakin’ cats man…
So, how did I get a card room you ask? Well, a few years ago our basement was a mess. A transitional purgatory of sorts. The space became the in-between, where stuff we didn’t want to see in our main living space upstairs would go before it made its way to the garage. The next step being the final death march and the once loved items last trip to either Goodwill, the dump or some other location of no return. That all changed when our then 5 year old son needed the closet in his room for his things…so greedy!
Along with the sign off of my wife, I took over the basement. I moved in! All my cards and boxes were moved downstairs and it was great…excellent. Over the last 30+ months I’ve been fine tuning the space and have it at about 94% where I want it. I’m working on some more lighting in the space and re-allocation of storage areas.
So without further ado, here are some pics of where I write, open, sort, stack, sleeve, label and store my collection.
My Desk Area
Yeah, this is where the magic happens. Artifacts and remnants. Kinda goes against the OCD factor doesn’t it? Well, this was once a well curated shelf of memorabilia and odd ball items that I didn’t want to store away, but rather have for display. It’s gotten out of control a bit, but I’ve been working on other things and it’s ok with me. I kind of enjoy the randomness. When I did the wallet card post, I pulled them from this shelf and discovered so many things I had forgotten about…that’s kinda fun isn’t it?
So, about the desk. I picked that up at a resale furniture place we have on the central eastside called City Liquidators. I love that place so much, but not as much as I love this desk. It’s heavy as shit and really, really, really cool. Three long sliding drawings on the left side filled with penny sleeves, top loaders and mag holders. I like to have supplies ready to go and hate running out, especially when I’m in the middle of a project.
The desk also has these slide out supports for additional working space on the left and the right. I like to use the one on the right as the box holder that I’m working through. It keeps everything out of the way and tidy…clears up the main desk for working.
The side desk is also great. My wife had this in her office at one point, but decided she no longer needed it. I added the cutting mat and use this as my main sorting desk…it’s great to have all these spaces so close to each other as it reduced the getting up and moving around bit that slows down progress.
The room came with a shelf nook that I’ve taken over with Washington Redskins paraphernalia…bobble heads, signed mini helmets and some awesome art work from Gypsy Oak and personal heroes of mine – Lou Gehrig, Sammy Baugh, Muhammad Ali and Hank Aaron.
The Binder Shelves
The binder shelves were the real bonus of moving downstairs to the basement. Before I had all these cards in 600, 800 or 900 count boxes. That was a completely fine solution and I was ok with it, but the thing I love about the cards we all collect is seeing them. I’m not too fond of just owning it. I want to be able to see them. This allows for that. I’ve made these incredibly simple labels a few years ago that make me happy. All the binders (for now…1980’s-1990’s Donruss and Fleer coming soon…) are Topps and they show the year with the Topps company logo for the release, totals for the binder and a QR code that takes you to the Cardboard Collection set checklist for some additional information…I was really proud of that addition as it added a little extra. I’ve also added some “dust collection” binders on top for any update sets and other smaller sets. The bottom row houses my “ultimate Redskins collection”. That’s my biggest project.
Above the 1960 – 2005 shelves are the sealed factory sets from 1986 to present, yeah I like to buy those and keep ‘em. It all started with a Christmas gift in 1986 and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve also got three Redskins helmets of Alex Smith, Mark Rypien and Doug Williams…still looking for Joe Theismann to complete my Super Bowl winning Quarterback collection.
The next set of shelves covers 2006 – present as well as the Topps Heritage sets I’ve got. The 5000 count boxes above are all my common baseball cards organized by division and by team. Five rows works out nice until they expand…then these will need to be adjusted.
The armoir is the player PC home. This is where the Rickey Henderson and Derek Jeter cards live along with baseball and football stars. Removeable tabs to allow for adjustments…😊. I also keep my backup stash here and some other very random items that I’ve been working through over the COVID working from home era.
Below are two pull out drawers that hold the smaller player PC collection that includes; Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Bryce Harper, JT Riddle, Yankees cards, Robinson Cano, Steven Strasburg, Trea Turner along with a few other young stars from the Yankees and Nationals.
The bookshelves…another collection of mine. One that probably annoys my wife the most. I read quite a bit and really enjoy reading…just not enough to justify the amount of books I own. Have you ever seen that Twilight Zone where the guy just wants to read all day…that would be me, but also organize my cards. Unfortunately, my job gets in the way of that. This shelf also houses the tins from earlier this year…you know, prior to all this COVID insanity. Remember when these were a thing? Seems like three years ago now.
Moving down we have some flat files that houses my wifes photography (she’s professional photographer) as well as some of my other posters or large items that I have no wall display for. This is also my photographing station…the black box…along with a hat collection…jeez, I collect everything…
The Storage Room
Last stop on the insanity train…I’m realizing how nuts this is now that I’m writing about it…I hate to run out of supplies. I also have an issue with buying pairs of things. If my wife asks me to pick up a dozen eggs, she knows I’m coming home with twenty-four. No idea why I can’t control that…it just happens. Everything you see here is supplies. Supplies for shipping eBay stuff. Supplies for storing and protecting cards…just more stuff to hold all my stuff.
Since I only care about the Washington Football Team, I sell any football cards I get…this is where they live until I move them.
Here are some more back up supplies. If the box is empty, I store it upside down. If the box has foam core spacers in it, right side up. I have a system ya’ll
Lastly, some Project 2020 stuff that I’ll share once I’ve got everything in order. Some loved it, some hated it. I loved it and thought the cards were great in hand…coming soon!
So yeah, lots of stuff and lots of collecting going on here. I do have a problem, but more importantly I have a patient wife that allows me to do what I love. This keeps me sane and refreshes me when I need it most. I really hope you enjoyed the virtual tour of my space and would love to see what you all are working with. I know this has been done to no end before, but it’s always great to see how people are managing their collections and a great way to get some new ideas.
It’s 2021 and we’re still here. Alive and well. I hope this year is a wonderful year for every one of you out in the blogosphere. I missed you guys and glad to be back in the mix a bit. I have some plans for what I want to write about in ’21 and excited to share once that gets going. Thanks for reading and I’m happy that we’re all still standing…