Priceless Junk

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.

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When you open a $15 box of cards, you certainly don’t expect much.  I surely did not. 

No hits. 

No parallels. 

No redemptions.

No frills.

Just 36 packs of 18 black and white cards.

That’s it.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

-Cardboard Hogs

***

And now, time for something completely different…well, mostly. It uses baseball as a metaphor for police brutality…so, yeah…baseball.

Sittin’ on Chrome

Retail is crazy man, insane really.  I remember not that long ago when we would all laugh and joke about spending (read wasting) a Jackson on a blaster from Topps or Panini at your local Target or Wal-Mart.  We would go as far as saying, I spent $20 bucks on cards from COMC or Sportlots or eBay and got a whole bunch of fill in the blanks that I needed for my PC!!!  Yeah, I was one of those guys…but something happened. 

What was it? 

Greed? 

FOMO? 

COVID-19? 

Social Media? 

No. It was Gary Fuckin’ Vee!!! 

Well, not really.  It was a bit of all of those things…(side note, I have nothing against Gary Vee or what he has brought to the hobby, any interest in the hobby in my mind is a good thing) every one of those, plus more than what I mentioned.  I’m sure of it. 

Crazy times ya’ll.

So with retail evolving into sneaker heads land and lines waiting for new releases or limited editions of whatever’s new, my thirst for retail has grown.  Grown more out of the FOMO category more than anything else, but also just enjoying a good cheap rip once in a while.  I like to open cards.  I would venture to say we all do, or at least the vast majority of us…I need to do a better job of not speaking for others…I never depended on anything from Target to build a collection around, just something that was inexpensive that I could open on a Tuesday night…fill some need for instant gratification…and go on with my life.  A few years ago I began hording boxes.  I’d buy a box or two but not open them, you know?  Just buy them.  

Saving them for a rainy day. 

Saving them for a day that didn’t go as I had planned.

Saving them for a long week of work.

Saving them for something to write about on a blog I abandoned.

Saving them for something cool to break. 

I could pick up blasters of cards that I’m not super interested in, but like to have just to get an idea of what they look like…I like design and I like sports, so sports cards fill both of those buckets for me…but also the rip factor. 

That has obviously come to a screeching halt during the past six plus months, but I have still managed to accumulate a few tasty samples from Target and Wal-Mart as well as from my LCS’s Hoody’s and The Sports Room. 

The first two locales for an acquisition are great because the’re based on MSRP…no ‘flippity flip flipper-life’ markups.  There’s no LCS overhead cost markup or anything else that would make the box more than they should be.  Trust me (you know this too), retail boxes should not be going for these nutso upticked prices.

…HAVE YOU SEEN WHAT PRIZM FOOTBALL IS GOING FOR ON EBAY, HOLY SMOKES!!!!…

The hobby shops are a bit of a different story, there’s a markup.  The great folks over at Hoody’s though, didn’t do too much for this box of Topps Chrome 2020 I picked up a couple months ago.  $35 for a $20 box.  Nothing too egregious I guess…? 

The packs are lovely aren’t they, Mr. Pete Alonso and some honeycomb corners for the exciting Sepia Refractor Pack. Let’s see if this was worth the $35!

Here are the results of the box and the ‘bonus sepia pack’

*****

PACK ONE

Joey Gallo and Bobby Bradley

AJ Puk ’85 Insert and Luis Urias

*****

PACK TWO

JD Martinez and Austin Nola

Robel Garcia Prism Refractor and Ian Desmond

*****

PACK THREE

Archie Bradley and George Springer

Jean Segura Refractor and Trevor Story

*****

PACK FOUR

Paul Goldschmidt and Lucas Giolito

Austin Riley ’85 Insert and Jose Altuve

*****

PACK FIVE

Freddie Freeman and Nicky Lopez

Dansby Swanson Refractor and Charlie Blackmon

*****

PACK SIX

Matt Olson and Rafael Devers

Mike Yastrzemski Future Stars and Michael Fulmer

*****

PACK SEVEN

Randy Arozarena and Kevin Newman

Babe Ruth Decade of Dominance Die-Cut and Sam Hilliard

*****

PACK EIGHT…THE SEPIA PACK!

Fernando Tatis Jr. Refractor

Aaron Civale Refractor

Orlando Arcia Refractor

Luis Arraez Refractor

*****

All this writing reminds me of one of my favorite all-time MC’s, MASTA ACE! Here’s Sittin’ on Chrome…the namesake for today’s post. Enjoy the jeep thumping mid-90’s bass heavy joint.

Cabin fever cards

About a month ago, my family took a weekend trip to Mt. Hood, with me, i went too.  We’re lucky enough to have good friends that own a small cabin in the woods and are more than happy and willing to share the tiny abode from time to time.  It’s near Rhododendron, which is close to Zig Zag, which is close to Welches, which is close to Government Camp, which is close to Mt. Hood…it’s on Mt. Hood actually.  The cabin is a small, one bed timber framed cabin with a kitchenette, it’s…umm… cozy…(read small)…but it is nicely nestled in the forest off a small unpaved road.  Normally the roads are covered in snow, but we were able to visit just after a heavy rain storm that washed away most of the snow, leaving some ice.

cabin road

I believe these cabins were once used to house park rangers that would work during the year.  It allowed them to retreat to a nice home after a long day at work rather than travel to and from their own homes each day.  For one person, these cabins are crazy comfortable, for two people, it’s perfect…for two people and a toddler…you need more space.  A LOT MORE SPACE!  But, hey it’s free…and i got some cards to open while i was there too!

That blurry flash is my child doing his best to run around in a small building while my wife makes snacks and i build a manly fire.  So, cards.

One of my goals with the renewed interest in blogging was to open packs or do something card oriented each time i travel.  We were kind of in that weird time of year where the 2016s didn’t interest me anymore and the new 2017’s weren’t out yet…other than the flagship Topps…which i already had a box of.  So i picked up one of those dreaded repack jobs that deliver very little in return.  Spoiler alert, my low expectations were met with a couple of mild surprises.  Let’s take a look.

As the box mentioned, 4 packs and a total of 50 cards and a BONUS!  Before we open everything, let’s do a little inventory.  The 4 packs were of 2015 Topps (2), 2016 Leaf Babe Ruth Collection (1), and 2016 Gypsy Queen (1).  The white box of surprises had a little mini Twins baseball guy which was quickly jacked by the toddler.  There were 53 cards in the white box, so i’m already ahead no matter what happens.  Here are some Topps highlights.

Justin Upton and Clayton Kershaw were the only names of significant note for me.  Hey, notice the vintage table pattern, apparently the table has been in the same location for over 50 years…i imagine it’s been moved a time or two to sweep though.

A couple insert cards.  High leg kicking Carlton and top 40 Free Agent Robbie Cano.  One of these guys is going in to my collection and the other one is going in to the Phillies box i got in my basement.  Let’s take a look at the Gypsy Queen cards!

A couple of real DBacks.

BB GQ McCovey

A power alley McCovey.

BB GQ mini Drury

And a mini Brandon Drury…a Diamondbacks hot pack i guess.  Now lets take a look at the Ruth cards.

Two odd photos of Babe Ruth, kids and bats.

Two odd photos of Babe Ruth swinging things that aren’t baseball bats.

BB LR Ruth 1

One photo of Babe Ruth doing baseball warm ups, his Career Achievements card…but what about that white box?  Mostly junk wax stuff, but kind of fun to look through.  There were three cards of note that made me want to take a photograph of them, and here they are…in order of how much i like them, from least to most.

BB box Jackson Winfield

Some Yankee stuff

BB box Posey

A Posey Bowman.

BB box Jeter

A Jeter Diamond King!  Yay!  This was by far the best card in the bunch, pretty nice card.  I think i may have a copy or two of this one, but it’s still a nice little piece to pull in a cabin in the woods.

the end…

Something that’s hopefully appropriate for this post…family member, Paul Riddle on the drum kit here.

 

2013 Topps S2 – Packs 7 and 8

I feel like a dope writing about 2013 Topps series two, but i will manage to get over it sooner or later…plus i have another post to go!

I’m not really sure where I left off on the Topps post, but these two cards really caught my eye…plus they were in my to be organized scan folder.  So here they are, Trouty and Alvarez.  Both amazing photos and both are landscape cards, which i LOVE in base sets!  Both cards manage to get the player and ball in the shot…great photography to the photographer.

13 T Pedro Alvarez Mike Trout

This sideburn slash sort of neck beard is disturbing…plus he’s a Red Sox guy.  Not much for me to like about this card.

13 T Koji Uehara Gold

Ah jeez.  Jackie and the Babe.  The only problem with Topps pushing out these old school legend cards is the lack of photo variety.  I’ve got 5 other Jackie cards with that same pose…wish they had access to other images, you know, to spice it up a bit?

13 T Jackie Robinson Babe Ruth The Elite

Bryce Harper.  Love this kid.  He is the newest addition to my player personal collection and a reason i started following the Nats a few years ago.  He seems like he can be quite a jerk sometimes, but he’s intense and he goes all out each game.  That is how I would want my son to play.

13 T Bryce Harper Making their Mark

Rizzo – Italien – Cub.

13 T Anthony Rizzo WBC

Joey Belle.  Remember how crazy this guy was.  Dude had a serious temper and would go off over the stupidest crap.  I’ve said too much…

13 T Albert Belle Cut to the Chase

This guy.  Love the Cuban players.  Did you hear, he won the home run derby over the all star break…it’s been that long since i’ve been blogging.

13 T Yoenis Cespedes Making their Mark Jersey

Good night.