I’m back!

ImageCollecting has been non-existant the past four or five months. I moved from Boston to Brooklyn in late-August so any money that would have been spent on cards went into savings for the move. But now that I’m here and settled in and found a new job I’ll finally be able to get back into the swing of things and start posting again on a (semi) regular basis.

Tonight, the Red Sox return to the ALCS for the first time since 2008. Living in New York makes it extra exciting, especially since I teach at a college up in the Bronx and virtually all my students are Yankee fans. With all the postseason success the Red Sox had from 2003-2009 I started taking playoff baseball for granted. But after the nightmarish end to the 2011 season and the mess that was 2012, I’ve promised myself that I never will again.

The Williams card featured is obviously from the 2013 Allen and Ginter set. I really like how they chose to include more retired stars this year, like Williams, Nolan Ryan, and Hank Aaron. I bought a pack at Target while picking up a bunch of things for my new apartment so I’ll definitely start chipping away at this set soon.

1971 Topps #530 — Carl Yastrzemski

71 Topps YazIt’s been months since I’ve done a baseball post so Opening Day seemed like the perfect opportunity. (I had originally planned a larger one on an oddball set from the seventies I found at a flea market this past fall but, as usual, time got in the way and it’s been delayed.) The Red Sox, who have been in a free fall on and off the field since August 2011, won down in the Bronx.

I’ve been neglecting the baseball sets I’ve been working on for a while for hockey and international stuff. Jeff from Cardboard Catastrophes and I traded some Loblaws/NHL Action stickers and 2009 Obak cards and he was kind enough to throw in this Yaz card from Topps’s iconic 1971 set. It’s not exactly NRMT but I love it and it looks great in my vintage Red Sox binder next to all the cards I inherited from my dad. If I had a bigger budget, this would be a set I’d love to start collecting. I love the modern, minimal design.

Everyone loves to place the underrated tag on players not named Mantle or Williams but I don’t think Yaz gets enough love. Looking at the back of the card, he was only halfway done with his career but still had 1,703 hits and 242 homers. He still had twelve years left in his career. He played until 1983 and had intended to play one final season in 1984 but tired in the last few months. He still holds the record for most games played for a single club.

It’s been years since I’ve gotten lost in a baseball season. As recently as 2007 I knew every player on every team and memorized starting rotations and batting orders. Last season, I probably watched twenty total regular season games, all involving the Red Sox unless you count the last three innings of Matt Cain’s perfect game. Hopefully, the Red Sox are able to recapture some of the magic from 2003, 2004, and 2007 and keep things interesting.

71 Topps Yaz2

1985 Donruss Pop-Ups

I had meant to do this post for the All-Star Game for obvious reasons but I never got around to it and these scans have been sitting on my computer ever since. I haven’t been collecting much baseball recently, the Red Sox are currently finishing up on their worst season since 1966. But since I’ve been virtually 100% hockey-centric recently and with the playoffs and World Series on the horizon, I figured it was time to get this post written.

I really like tallboys and these are virtually the same size when if they are not “popped-up”. The 1985 All-Star Game was at the Metrodome which, for better or worse, is featured predominately in the background. This set is totally grounded in the mid-eighties; aside from the Metrodome’s strange architecture there’s plenty of button-less uniforms, stirrups, and stretch belts. Two things I dislike about the background: the thick black bar where the card is supposed to be folded and that the upper deck is completely empty. (Not that the Metrodrome was often sold out.) Also, if you actually pop this one up, you’ll cut off half of poor George’s hands. Ouch. It’s sad to think that the Royals have not made the playoffs since this set was released.

The set is only 18 cards and features the starting lineup of both leagues. The National League started FIVE San Diego Padres. Five. An 83 win, fourth place team had five starting All-Stars.

I like the Morris card. It sort of foreshadows his heroics in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. Alas, Morris would lose this game as the Nation League won 6-1. I’m bored even typing about the actual game. I used to LOVE the All-Star Game but I don’t think I’ve watched more than an inning or two in ten years.

The backs are simple but I really like them.

Puzzle Pieces

I never really liked Donruss. When I started buying baseball cards in the early nineties they had such terrible designs. And I hated getting puzzle cards. I’ve come around on the puzzles though. I have the Yaz one put together in my apartment. But the puzzle cards are almost better alone. They either look deconstructionist, or like a comic book panel.

First Yard Sale Find of 2012

Because of eBay and other online resources, the number of deals at flea market and yard sales are dwindling. Most sellers are computer-savvy enough to look up cards on eBay, however, they often mistake  listing prices for actual sale prices. This is further complicated by the fact that items will sell at much higher prices on eBay where a listing can easily reach thousand of potential customers. At a flea market, the number of potential customers can be measured in dozens, if that.

Enough micro-economics.

I found a stack of cards in top loaders at a yard sale down the street last weekend. Most were 1972 Xograph All-Time Greats but at the bottom, in a screw down case was this.

There’s a ding on top above the ‘T” and it’s a little sun-faded but the corners are sharp and its well centered. Everyone’s familiar with Pudge but Cecil Cooper had a number of great years with the Sox and later, the Brewers. Garman was rather unspectacular.

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Opening Day

I haven’t made a baseball post in a while so, in honor of Opening Day, I thought I’d post some of my favorite Red Sox cards from my early days of collecting. (The Sox lost out in Detroit to the Tigers in extra innings today. I don’t have very high expectations for the team this season.)

I’ve chosen a card from each Topps set (minus the 1990 one, it’s too ugly) from when I started buying cards until 1993. The late-eighties teams enjoyed a few great seasons under Joe Morgan; they advanced to the ALCS in both 1988 and 1990, only to get swept by the A’s.

The card on the left is from the ’88 Topps set. I love the white vignetting and scripted font. The Red Sox now wear away uniforms like Wade and Spike have on here, but they’ve ditched the navy undershirts for red, which throws the whole thing off.

But first, one of my favorite baseball sets.

1987 Topps #645 — Dwight Evans

This was the first set of cards I ever collected. My dad used to bring them home for me after work. I remember getting upset whenever I didn’t get any Red Sox players in a pack. I think Marty Barrett was the first Red Sox card but I’m not sure. I love, love, LOVE the woodgrain frame. (More soon, from a hockey set.) I really should own this set, considering its sentiment and design.

1988 Topps #377 — Sam Horn

This is one of my favorite cards. For those of you unfamiliar, Sam Horn is something of a folk hero in New England for his prodigious power and being Bill Buckner’s replacement after the 1986 season. Back when I (briefly) collected autographs I sent this away to his home residence. I was pleased when it came back within the week signed. However, I soon realized that Horn wasn’t in Texas at all from when I dropped the card in the mail until it returned; he was in Boston co-hosting the post-game show on NESN. A quick confirmation with a certified autograph on ebay confirmed it to be a forgery, most likely by a relative. Somehow, this makes me like the card more.

1989 Topps #760 — Lee Smith

At some point, I collected a story of Lee Smith, after going a couple of years without an appearance, falling asleep in the bullpen at the All-Star Game with two Big Mac wrappers at his side, but I can’t find any evidence to support it on the internet

1991 Topps Traded #123T — Mo Vaughn

After the loss of Nick Esasky, Mo Vaughn became my favorite player, even before he made the big league club. My dad would take my brother and I to Pawtucket to see the Paw Sox when Mo was on the team. Everyone would chant “Mo! Mo! Mo!” every at bat, even if it was the bottom of the first. I still get sad when I think of him leaving for Anaheim.

1992 Topps #782 — Phil Plantier

Plantier had some pop and a ridiculous batting stance. I remember watching his major league debut in Maine. The Red Sox were in Toronto and he didn’t have a proper batting helmet, so he used his Paw Sox one with the ‘P’ painted over.

1993 Topps #725 — Billy Hatcher

This was the last Topps flagship set that featured a design I enjoyed. It was also the last without a glossy finish. My brother and I were obsessed with Hatcher after he stole home. I remember thinking how impossible and improbable it was. How could it be legal? Why don’t they do it all the time?

Kimball Champions

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Great mustache.

Topps reproduced these 1887 tobacco cards as a mini insert set in their 2011 flagship set. There’s a 150 in all, 50 from Series 1, 50 from Series 2, and 50 from Updates and Highlights or whatever they’re calling Traded sets now. They’re a little taller than your average Allen and Ginter mini, just enough so they poke out of the 20 count pages.

Most of the cards feature great throwback uniforms, particularly The Hawk in the old Expos spring training uniforms AND baby blue away on the left. Others include Dave Winfield in a Padres yellow and brown Burger King jersey, Mike Schmidt in Phillies maroon pinstripes, Reggie Jackson in a yellow A’s vest, and Paul Molitor in those Blue Jays uniforms with the eighties numbering that they just brought back.

I love the two picture design and Champion Base Ball batter/pitcher description on the cards.

I remember Dawson coming to the Red Sox when I was a kid. He hit his 400th home run at Fenway in April, then got injured a few games later. He was largely innefective in his two years here, during the dark days of the Butch Hobson Era. After the strike ended in 1995, he signed with the Marlins and played two more years before retiring.

I miss the Expos.