A Big ole’ box of Memories

I pre-ordered a jumbo box of 1987 2017.  This is the big 30th anniversary for a set that is seemingly very popular with a lot of people.  Me though, i have a different memory of these vertically wood grained over produced cards.

I started collecting baseball cards in the fall of 1985.

I was 9 and had fallen in love with baseball and baseball cards.

I wanted to learn everything about baseball and own everything i could about baseball.

So, baseball cards met that need at the highest level for a young’n like me.  There weren’t many opportunities to buy cards at that time due to scarcity at my local Stop n’ Go or 7-11, but also my lack of funds…I was 9.  I did what i could back then.  When the 1986 cards rolled out, i was able to complete a set via trades and multiple pack purchases.  The way it was done in the old school days.  I had a little more money and ’86 turned out to be a fun year, a year that i became addicted to these damn cardboard things.

That all changed in the winter of 1987.

The very first packs of cards i bought that year were in the Stop n’ Go down the street from my home.  I was headed out to my very first camping trip for the local Boy Scouts troop…a trip that i wasn’t too excited about (maybe a story for later, but my BSA experience was very forgettable!).  My mom pulled in to the parking lot and gave me some money to get a special snack and a juice…i bought a coke and two packs of cards.  1987 Topps.  The cards had gum in them, so that’s kind ova snack, right?  Fearing that i had betrayed my mom, i kept the cards tucked in my pocket to be opened later that weekend…during a camping trip.  I made it successfully to the bus without anyone finding out about my card purchases and was able to procure a solo seat and open them on the ride to the camp site.  I had 34 brand new cards in my hands…and two horrible pieces of gum.  Little did i know that this was the start of an incredible amount of over-consumption of wood grained cardboard that i would later become overwhelmed with.

For me, this was my first understanding of over production of a product.  I was buying packs everywhere.  I was even able to buy a few boxes at our local Sams Wholesale Club…for about $18 each.  Now, t’ve never been a collector for the investment purposes but i also don’t like to buy junk…well that year i must have spent about $100 on 1987 Topps.  I was completely overwhelmed with them and grew to really dislike them…everything about them.  So when the set gets a re-up, i don’t jump for joy.  I’m old enough now and have some perspective to understand and appreciate the design, so maybe this year won’t be so bad.

I mean, they do actually look kind of nice and as others have mentioned, the wood grain is quite lighter than the original.  The cards stock as i remember it is quite better as well, significantly better actually…as i look at these cards, i can see why they are adored by so many…i have baggage that i need to let go of i guess.

They are nice, very nice.  Well done Topps.  You did a great job with these re-issues.  Tweaked some of the things that were of concern to me…thank you for listening 🙂  Some of you may have already seen the cards that i pulled as i thought it would be nice to pre-share over Twitter last night.  Just in case though, here is my very first 2017 Topps card of the year!

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Miami Marlins Giancarlo Stanton!  Pretty sweet first card eh?  Don’t think i know what my first card is for the past 30 years, but i would venture to say that none of them are as good as this one.

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This was my first card pulled for a favorite team, the Nationals or Yankees…Bryce Harper is cool, i mean…he’s probably going to have a good season.  Yeah, this card is fantastic for me not to mention that i got two in the box.  One for my flagship set and one for my Bryce Harper PC.  Collecting goals are being met.

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This was my first Yankee, Nathan Eovaldi.  It was immediately followed by Aaron Hicks, also a Yankee.  Guess that duo was a nice little mini Yankee hot pack…or not…?

Topps is also continuing with the buyback program, but stamping them differently this year with a  vertically embossed stamp along the right edge of the card that reads “REDISCOVER TOPPS’.  Nothing spectacular, but i have to admit these cards are in great shape.

One of the many inserts that you get are the foil cards which are great looking cards, assuming you can see them.  I passed up a couple of them and had to go through the stack again to make sure i pulled them all out and when i did…four of the five were team cards.  Feel a little gipped here, but i guess it would have only been successful if one of them was a player or team i collect.  The fifth was a Kurt Suzuki.

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Topps is also continuing to do the first pitch cards…and i think they are running out of celebrities or there just aren’t enough celebrities to go around.  Not trying to blast either of these two musical entertainers, but one of them is great and the other one is Mase.  I’ve tried to associate the connection of the First Pitcher to the team they are pitching for.  Mase, per wikipedia was born in Florida, but left with his mom for New York when he was three.  I guess maybe he’s always been a fan of a Florida team?  Ms. Jett is from Pennsylvania, so maybe she grew up watching Harry Caray and Steve Stone on WGN like me?  I kid…Joan Jett was one of my favorite rockers in the early 80’s, mostly due to my mom liking her music with The Runaways.  I like her biggest solo hit, a cover of ‘I Love Rock ‘n Roll”

Speaking of hits, i have three of them…well, two and a half.  I don’t consider redemptions hits until i have them in my hand.  Here they are, in my current favorite order.  When the redemption is in my hands, that will be without a doubt my favorite one…assuming of course it’s a Yankee card.

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My timeline counter is starting on February 3rd, 2017.  Let’s see how long this takes to hit my blog post.  Ball is in your court Topps Corporation.17-tost-clayton-kershaw-3050

Clayton Kershaw Spring Training commemorative patch…it’s like a hard plastic’y metal’y thing’y numbered 38/50.  Not gonna complain at all.

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My favorite hit, currently, is this Addison Russell trip color patch…they snuck that white portion of the patch in there didn’t they?  Numbered 19 of 25 is pretty good too.  Kinda wish it was autographed, but i’m quite happy with this pull.  Russell is a great young player and nice to add to my collection.

d’oh!  I have a couple more cool cards to show off.  Nothing spectacular, but wanted to share.  First one is the Bryce Harper Then and Now…i always remember that moment when i almost pulled that card in a box.  The guy next to me picked the box that had it and i picked the other one…such is my luck…i always get the other one..Harper looks like he’s aged 10 years since the Bowman card, beards man…they make you look old.

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The other one is of the young Astros prospect, but aren’t they all?  Teoscar Hernandez…feels like his name should be spelled T’Oscar…but that’s not my lane.  I’m gonna stay out.  This is one of those reverse negative cards that are not printing plates, but every time i see one that’s the first thing that crosses my mind…kinda wished it was yellow.

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Well, that’s the haul from my one jumbo box that i purchase for each series.  Hope you enjoyed.  I will be posting the cards from the two silver packs that came with the box another day, so until then.  Enjoy some random music that i was listening to while writing this letter to you.

 

Collector seeking Autographs

I used to be an autograph seeker in my adolescent years.  Cards and a fresh sharpie in hand, fighting my way to the front in hopes of getting an illegible scribble from the baseball stars of the 1980’s.  After a while i build up quite a collection that i’m proud of and like to look back on every once in a while.  San Antonio didn’t have a major league team in San Antonio (AA San Antonio Dodgers though!), but my mother…being the most amazing working / single mother that she was (and still is…) would take me to Arlington a couple times each summer.  We’d mostly go the Rangers games rather than the Astros in Houston…i guess i’ve always been an American League guy…or maybe it was those horrific rainbow sherbet jerseys…the trips each year would include the Yankees, of course and maybe the Blue Jays or Mariners.  Looking back, we went to quite a few Mariners games as a kid and now i live in the PNW, it’s like it was fate or somethign?  My mother is an incredibly generous and giving person, and she always went out of her way to make sure i had what i needed, and most times what i wanted.  Even if it was a terrible idea.  Like sitting in an open air stadium under the relentlessly pounding late afternoon sun of Texas in July and August.  It was a brutal request from an only child after driving for 5 hours, but she obliged, albeit with some resentment in her eyes…but hey, i’m an only child :)!!

As i got older and realized i could maximize my inventory while minimizing my road trips through through the mail autographs, or TTM as every single one of you kids out there reading this knows.  I did this for a couple of years and had some success, check out the page of autographs HERE.  DOIT!!

As i got even older…and was able to finally get that Rickey Henderson auto i always wanted…but can’t seem to find anymore…shit…i’ll dig it out.  Anyways, after that autograph, i decided to stop asking adults for their signature.  Seemed kinda silly of me i guess…not sure why, maybe it was that i was starting to get older than the people i wanted autographs from?  Maybe I was a little embarrassed?  Maybe it was simply the asking for something and being shy about it?  Not really sure.  That said, i have nothing against collecting autos…especially if they have some kind of story associated with them.  Unfortunately, the cards below have no great story other than they are what i pulled from the box i picked up at Brian’s shop.  Here they are!  There are 5 of them and they are nice pieces to have in the collection for now.  You gotta wait for these guys, some of them never pan out and other may take a couple of years to get there…so enjoy.

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Will Benson – Cleveland Indians – 1st Bowman Card16-bd-robert-tyler-auto-227250

Robert Tyler – Colorado Rockies – 1st Bowman Card 227/25016-bd-dylan-carlson-auto-316499

Dylan Carlson – St. Louis Cardinals – 1st Bowman Card 316/49916-bd-ben-bowden-auto

Ben Bowden – Colorado Rockies – 1st Bowman Card16-bd-anfernee-grier-auto

Anfernee Grier – Arizona Diamondbacks – 1st Bowman Card

Actually got to see this guy play a couple of games last year in Hillsboro for the Hops.  He was the 39th pick from Auburn in last years draft, so there is some hope that he could find his way to the big leagues in a year or two.

The jumbo box included a couple other cards of note that i was pretty excited about.  This lovely Griffey Jr. card, which could have been posted in my previous post on Sons and Fathers…doesn’t top Gavin’s 1/1 auto, but not a bad looking card to have…and Bo Jackson…

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These Bowman Chrome cards are really nice cards to hold…but do smell a little bit like syrup as Sooz mentioned in a very cool and random tweet a couple days ago.  Speaking of Yankees…Here are the last two cards i wanted to share.  A couple of guys i have high hopes for this year that came through via trades Cushman made out on, or at least the Yankees fans hope so.

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I apologize for the fingerprints on that Sheffield card, not only do they smell like syrup…they love to grab hold of anything that touched the surface.  So much grit!

I hope you had a good MLK day and took a moment to understand the importance of his life.  Normally, this is where i post a music video that ties in to the cards or story of the day but i wanted to post something appropriate for the day rather than the post.  I listened to this while i was at work today and…well, you should listen to.  And in case you question why #BlackLivesMatter, it’s very thoughtfully explained and passionately addressed by Dr. King.

Sons and Fathers

Being an adult is a tough thing to be at times.  It’s a never ending commitment to things you never dreamed of as a child; bills, responsibilities to loved ones as well as our contemporaries can be incredibly daunting at times.  Overwhelming even.  When you add children to the mix it becomes even more difficult.  Prior to becoming a father, i had a very specific image of what having a child would be like…and to be honest, it’s nothing like what i thought.  It is far more difficult than i could have ever imagined.  Getting things done the way i want them or even when i want them is close to impossible.  Over the past few months or so, i’ve learned to let things go.  I had to.  My expectations were not realistic or fair for an incredibly curious toddler.  His young developing mind was discovering a world he needed to experience…in his very own way.  Once i was able to grasp that seemingly simple concept, i was able to become a better father and enjoy the simple moments in life that later become memories we never forget…

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The snow we’ve had in town last night and today was one of those moments to stop and let go of being an adult…although i had to make sure my kid didn’t hurt himself :).  One of my recent posts was a reflection of a fond memory as a kid, the big San Antonio snow storm.  Keeping that in mind, my goal was to make this day off of work and “adulting” as much fun as i could.  Not to break an arm patting myself, but i thing we got it done today and made some awesome memories!

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When i started out on this post i had an idea to show a few cards from the Bowman Draft jumbo box i bought before Christmas.  The theme of the first post would be about sons of former MLB players and their fathers, but i wanted to shed a little personal experience since we had so much fun.  So, for those excited to see some cards that i pulled take a look below…and i promise the hits will be exhibited in the next post!

As i opened the packs, i continued to see names that i recalled from my younger days as a collector…first thought was HOLY CRAP! I’m getting old!!  I remember thinking, damn i’m old when a guy i remember as a rookie retired, or made the Hall of Fame…but now these guys have raised baseball players and kept the name in the family business.

I’ve always wondered what it would have been like to be the son of a professional athlete.  Most of us had idols and a child, and i would imagine most of our idols were professional athletes vs. musicians or actors…or doctors and scientists i guess.  My father had no special talents, nor did he have much of a presence in my life as a kid…which i would imagine is somewhat similar for these guys that made it to their 1st Bowman cards.  The baseball season is long and there is a significant amount of travel each season.  Being a parent is truly a 24 hour job.  Really makes me think how amazing their mothers were…not sure they were as amazing as mine was though. 🙂

I hope to have my son share in my passion for baseball one day.  Not sure if it will happen or not…it’s not something i ever want to force on him, it needs to be his decision, and i’m sure he will make the right decision…:)

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Not sure how many readers out there have kids, if you do, i hope you can understand the sentiments that i’ve shared here today.  It’s a little more personal than i normally like to get, but i felt like it was worthy…thank you for your time to read today.

Here are a few more images from our day…along with a zen like dog photo and a couple pictures of Derek Jeter standing next to a snow buried ruler.

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Have a great night and give your family a hug!  We’re gonna need each other to get through the next four years of this new Trump nation.

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and a song for the day…kinda reminded me of being a kid and going on road trips with my mom each summer…or to visit my father.

Mile High Hogs

When i travel to a new destination I like to pick up a few packs or a blaster from the local Target or Wal-Mart.  It’s kind of a souvenir.  A souvenir that matters to me and hand a greater level of value than a cheesy shirt (although i love an odd shirt now and again…).  The cards serve as a little reminder of the town I was in, an artifact from a past vacation.  In the past, the trips have been via automobile and the cards were a little easier to handle since i could always see where they were and keep them safe and sound.  The last couple of trips though have been via airplane…the friendly skies!  When traveling, i’m always concerned about the safety and security of the cards and tend to open them up when i get home.  Not this time though, i wanted to join the mile high club!  Well, i wanted my cards to join the mile high club…of sorts.  So i did it on a plane earlier this week!

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Since we card people don’t like damaged cards, getting these guys on the plane safely was a bit of an emotional journey for me.  Going through security and boarding a plane is difficult enough!  My first concern was the lovely TSA folks that can be a little handsy with people and peoples stuff.  The only thing worse than the disinterested cashier man-handling (woman-handling…? person-handling…?) the cards and dropping them 18″ to the bottom of a plastic bag is definitely getting them through TSA.  They pick up bags and boldly ask “THIS RED ONE YOURS SIR!”, why, yes.  The red bag that i was about to grab is mine…definitely my bag.  The surly looks that follow…them, not me…i’m nice.  Half the battle has been fought, but the war has not been won.  I still need to get these unprotected packs boarded and loaded on a flying tube with an ever increasing shortage of personal stowing space.  Done deal.  Packs located gently on my fold away tray until i am told to hide my fold away tray.  See the photo above (and now below) that was after we reached our cruising altitude…so no foul there although my phone was not in airplane mode.

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Normally when i’m opening a pack of cards i like to have space to lay them out and sort them as i go through the cards.  Kinda particular about those sorts of things, you know.  It’s nice to have a little layout space and a clean surface to boot.  In hindsight this plan would have been better if i had a more sturdy box to put them in afterwards.  Enough with the long winded build up.  Here is what was pulled.

Tyler Glasnow – Pittsburgh Pirates | Alex Bergman – Houston Astros

Dee Gordon – Miami Marlins | Cole Hamels – Texas Rangers

Brian McCann – New York Yankees | Tyler White – Houston Astros

Kenta Maeda – Los Angeles Dodgers | Gleyber Torres – New York Yankees

Javier Guerra – San Diego Padres | Jorge Mateo – New York Yankees

Kolby Allard – Atlanta Braves | Lucius Fox – San Francisco Giants

Not a bad pack, no real jaw droppers.  I do like the three Yankee cards and the Alex Bergman is nice as well as the Maeda card.  They all have a nice little shine to them as well.  My wife, sitting in the miserable middle seat (love ya babe!) was particularly fascinated by the shiny-ness of these cards which the cabin lighting made a little extra sexy!  Here’s pack two!

JP Crawford – Philadelphia Phillies | Austin Meadows – Pittsburgh Pirates

Raul Mondesi Jr. – Kansas City Royals | Byron Buxton – Minnesota Twins

Eddie Rosario – Minnesota Twins | Joey Votto – Cincinnati Reds

Matt Carpenter – St. Louis Cardinals | Billy McKinney – Chicago Cubs

Tyler O’Neill – Seattle Mariners | Conner Greene – Toronto Blue Jays

Brady Aiken – Cleveland Indians | Francis Martes – Houston Astros

Each of the cards made it home safe and sound, no dings, no dents, no errors.  Twenty Four shiny cards to sit and wait on now…will they become stars or not…!

So there you go.  That was the very first time i’ve ever busted a pack on a plane, in the air above the United States of America.  Hope you enjoyed the show!

***BIG PIMPIN***

Now it’s time to do some contest pimpin’ for Collector’s Crack and his annual NFL playoff contest!

Almost the Easiest Super Bowl Contest on the Web

Since i don’t have to deal with the emotions of having my team in it this year, i’m free to pick a SB matchup that will hopefully be closer to reality…and so should you!  So, hit that link and sign up!  But first, in honor of CB’s contest i thought i’d post a couple of videos in line with all the pimpin’.  First is one of my favorite UGK songs and the other is an interesting documentary on Pimp C that i haven’t quite gotten through yet.  It’s by Mass Appeal, so you can’t really go wrong though.

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.

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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.

Box Break: 2013 Bowman

Bowman is one of those in between sets for me.  Do I buy packs?  A box and build the set?  Pull my favorites out and part ways with the rest of them?

I’m not a prospector, but I love to pull some of the great rookies that I read about.

I don’t put together too many sets, but I love to buy packs and sometimes a box of cards that I enjoy openings packs of.

I like inserts, but too many of them become overwhelming.

Bowman has a way of providing a response to each of these contradictions in my collecting habits.  When Topps brought back the Bowman cards in 1989, my friend Alex and I were all in.  The cards were weird and big and didn’t fit well anywhere, but they were cool and had a Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card.  Griff was the man in 1989 and his rookie cards were something every kid in America that collected cards wanted.  I had them all, and loved the oversized Bowman version (after the Upper Deck version of course…)  Although the cards weren’t that great.  The photography was a little grainy at times and the overall design was weak…plus the stat on the back were quite confusing and took some getting used to.  Either way I was going to collect this set…and all other versions that would come out in the future.  That was, until 1992 rolled around.  The card quality became significantly better and the rookie class was pretty stellar at the time (I still have my Raul Mondesi in a screw down holder, iknowright!).  1992 was also the time I began to realize I can’t collect everything…because I couldn’t afford it.  So I never completed the set and ended up getting rid of my other sets from the previous years.

13 BB Mariano Rivera Chrome RC Reprint

Fast forward to the future that is today.  The card quality has improved exponentially and in relation to the other stuff that’s being issued, Bowman is quite affordable.  I’ve purchased a box of these the past three years and took a bigger step this year and bought the jumbo pack box from Dave and Adam’s card world.  Here is my review.

13 BB Josh Hamilton Chrome RC Reprint

Card Design – 3 of 5

The overall design of the cards is quite simple, which I love.

13 BB Robinson Cano

13 BB Hanley Ramirez

No extra weird things going on here, just some simple graphics and all the basic information you need on a baseball card.  I do like the subtle variation on the front of the card that differentiates the Bowman Prospects from the Major Leaguers.  Bowman also carried this through as they do on the back of  the card with the numbering and color of the card stock.

Photography – 3 of 5

The photographs are your typical action photos mixed in with awkwardly posed for photos of young men in uniforms.  There are a lot of beards and facial hair in general around the world these days and the major league baseball franchise is no different.  I’m thinking Panini needs to do a facial hair card set.  Maybe Josh Reddick get the coveted #1 card?

13 BB Matt Kemp Bryce Harper Gold Border

Hits – 4 of 5

Like I said before, I’m no prospector.  I simply don’t have the patience or wherewithal to invest in people I don’t know and Bowman counts on people doing this.  That’s what makes this set so wonderful though.  If you do pull a great auto of a young talented player or a refractor you have a nice piece of cardboard.  If you don’t, well, you have something shiny to look at i guess.  Another thing with the hits is that you have to wait a couple of years for these guys to pan out and get a year or two under their belts.  Just because you are a top 100 prospect doesn’t mean you are going to be a star in the bigs.  All that said, It’s nice to get the ‘First Bowman card’ of a potential star.

13 BB Eddie Rosario Dorssys Paulino Top 100

Another thing that i really enjoy about the Bowman cards and the young stars is the names of these kids.  Damn.

13 BB Oliberto Amaya Calderon Maldonado Chrome

Review

Bowman is always fun to open and the cards are always a very solid quality.  I’m not sure if I will buy a jumbo box next year unless i plan to start building the sets again…but getting 32 cards in a pack is pretty cool.

13 BB Rodriguez Bundy Reed Rowen Gold Sparkle

The overall look and feel of the cards is great, nothing to complain about here, plus the price is right with Bowman, especially for what you get.

Mini’s are cool.

13 BB Skaggs Hanson Bradley Hensley Minis

So are Flags…

13 BB Davis Upton Alonso Maurer Hometown

and blue or maybe purple cards?

13 BB Brett Gerritse Blue Refractor 60:250and who doesn’t love them some autographs!

13 BB Eddie Butler Auto

13 BB Yordano Ventura Refractor Auto 79:500

13 BB Alex Meyer Auto