February Inventory

Added another 16 cards to my 2009-10 Champ’s set via a trade with Justin from The Hopeful Chase. One of the rules I’ve set for myself is to work on no more than four sets at a time. I’m defining “working on a set” as a set that’s less than 85% completed. So we have:

  • 2011 Allen and Ginter, 718/996, 72%
  • 2009-10 Champ’s Hockey, 310/580, 53%
  • 2008-09 Champ’s Hockey, 38/680, 5%

I’m looking to add another set, something older or vintage, if you include the mid to late eighties in the definition of the latter. Any suggestions?

Two Bobs



1989 Topps #29T — Nick Esasky

Great year, great beard.

The first year I really got into sports was 1989. I was six. The Red Sox had a mediocre season, sandwiched between two AL East division titles, going 83-79. The lone bright spot was their first basemen, Nick Esasky. Acquired from Cincinnati in the off-season, he hit 30 home runs and added 108 RBIs. Esasky was my first favorite player. Every morning, I’d ask my dad if the Sox had won the night prior. And, seemingly, every morning, he’d say they had, and that Esasky hit a three-run homer.

Topps were my favorite cards growing up, and the 1989 set remains one of my favorites in terms of design. I love the scripted team names–they remind me of old Little League jerseys–the asymmetrical rounded corners, and white borders. Esasky only appears in a Red Sox uniform on two Topps cards; this from the ’89 Traded set and another from the hideous 1990 series. 1990 Topps is one of my least favorite baseball designs of all-time; only the yellow legal pad layout of 1991 Fleer out does it. (Special mention to the red menace that is 1990 Donruss, with their Pollock-esque splatter design in the left and right margins.)

Esasky left Boston after a single season, signing with the Braves. The rest of his story is an awfully sad one; he only played a handful of games in 1990 before being forced to retire after developing vertigo stemming from a bad ear infection.

I love how vibrant the colors are on the back of late-80s Topps Traded.

Presidents Day

I wasn’t aware of this until earlier this morning but today isn’t officially called Presidents Day. According to the National Archives:

The official title of Monday’s holiday has actually been “George Washington’s Birthday” since its establishment in 1879.

Never mind that this holiday hasn’t fallen on Washington’s actual birthday in nearly fifty years or that a certain 16th President also celebrates his big day this month.

As mentioned yesterday, these are from the ’09-’10 Champ’s set, my main collecting goal right now. Each president has his own card. However, the reason why these inserts are called Historical Figures is that there are Canadian Prime Ministers included. Looking through these a few weeks ago, I realized that in my entire nineteen year academic career, from kindergarten to grad school, I was never taught a single lesson on Canadian history. Thanks Upper Deck, for picking up where the American public school system and three private universities left off.

Bonus fun fact: According to the back of the card, George Washington was elected unanimously by the Electoral College in 1788 and 1792. He ran unopposed.

Natural History Collection

I decided to take the plunge and start putting together the ’08-’09 Champ’s set as well. I found a lot of 29 Natural History cards on eBay at a decent price and figured it was time. Overall, I think I actually prefer this design to the other. The base cards are a push; I like the clean, simple design of the first set and the colorful frame and Photoshopped wooded backgrounds on the latter. But the inserts here are nicer. I’ve already written about the Mini Rookies looking MUCH better and ditto these. The gold borders and olive motif on the ’09-10 set is bland and and look less authentic.

The checklist is also friendlier. I appreciate the ratio of 200:280 base cards to mini ratio instead of the 100:480 so, coupled with the 100 less cards, it’ll (hopefully) be a little bit easier to complete. Sadly, no presidents or prime ministers this time around. It’s too bad Upper Deck didn’t do something with the stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Including Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks would have been neat.

One of my irrational pet peeves is horizontal cards. Sure they look great individually but in a binder… not so much. I like to have everything going the same way.

This Wolverine card is seriously awesome though.

So far, no centering issues, which the ’09-’10 suffers from greatly. Sadly, no Whalers or Nordiques here either. I’m going to a card show in a couple of weeks, so hopefully I’m able to put more of a dent into this set.

2011 Allen and Ginter

Dream of the 1890’s

This is another set I’m working on; all the base cards, minis, and inserts. They’re fairly rare, I think at only 1-2 a case. Most prices are silly on eBay (especially Brian Wilson’s) but I was able to get this for a decent amount.

Even though I teach English as a Second Language, I admit that I had to look up “flocculence” in the dictionary. It’s the noun form of flocculent, which means “having a fluffy or woolly appearance.” Unlike the previously mentioned Champ’s Rookies, these inserts really nails the aesthetic and matter of the  early 20th century. Ditto the rest of the inserts, though Topps made a few decisions with their base set I’d say are strange at the very least.

A connection between an obsession with strange facial hair that existed in the 1890’s and its current renaissance was parodied in the latest episode of Portlandia in which Fred Armisen sports a bib.

Usually, Allen and Ginter inserts have terrific backs that are cleverly written, so I was disappointed to flip this one over and find only a checklist.


The Little Ball of Hate

One thing I don’t like about this Champ’s set is the design of the Mini Rookie cards. The gold border throws off the whole aesthetic, making it look a lot closer to late-20th century than early. The 2008-09 Mini Rookies got it right (perhaps after finishing this set I’ll move on to those…) looking much more like old tobacco cards. Plus, there’s WAY too many–96 in total. More on that in a bit.

But first, Marchand.

I realize he’s the kind of player you’d hate if he played on any other team besides the one you root for (or if he wasn’t in the NHL and you ran into him at a bar). I’m sure the guy is a total douche. But if you told me at the beginning of last season that the 5′ 9″ guy who managed a single, measly assist the year before would score eleven playoff goals, including two in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, I would have laughed. So from the standpoint of a B’s fan, you love the guy. Playoff heroics like that are unforgettable, ESPECIALLY after catastrophic Super Bowl losses.

Another complaint I have about this subset is that there’s a lot of undesirables, cards of guys already overseas, out of pro hockey completely, or buried somewhere in the AHL. Aside from Marchand, there’s Antti Niemi, Matt Dushene, Evander Kane (though in a gross Thrashers jersey) and maybe a few others. And of course, probably the best card in the set:

Whenever I see this Tavares card I think of Dennis Duffy.

Sports Coupe Italy / Moretti

I originally bought this on ebay as a birthday gift for my dad but once it arrived in the mail, I knew I could never let it go.

It’s part of the 1961 Topps Sport Cars set. There’s only 66 cards and a bunch of license plate stickers but they’re tallboys and feature a great, simple design. I can’t think of another set of horizontal tallboys but it fits great with the dimensions of a car. I love the single color background, the white border, and the slash between the country the car is from and its name. And the copy is wonderfully awkward and uses the oxford comma. “It is quite small, and very expensive for its size.” As with most Topps sets from the sixties, there’s a single panel comic on the back. They’re never funny but they add to the cards’ overall charm.

See the rest below.