Saturday, May 30, 2020

never really been caught stealing (aka do these qualify as "steals of a lifetime"?)

i'm going to start this off by saying that my luck when it comes to prospecting stinks. yes, I've had many cases of finding cards online or in dime boxes and flipping them for profit, but nothing like finding the bargains that fuji shared with us last week or night owl before that. for example, i was in a pretty strong "no more packs" place when 2011 topps update was released. after years of overbuying loose packs, i pretty much stopped. as a result, i have no mike trout rookie cards in my collection.

most of this post will deal with rookie cards because that's just the way that it is, although ii will say that my purchase of a 1952 topps jackie robinson card a few years ago is looking to be a good one.  back to the rookies - i was able to get in on the ipo of the 2003 etopps lebron james card. i had purchased one or two etopps cards before that, and i believe I paid $9.99 for each. i held on (virtually) to the lebron until topps announced they were ending the program, which was 2009 or so. i was worried that i would forget about the card, so i sold it. turns out, i sold it for about 10% of what they are going for now.

back in 2017, i did have the foresight to buy a cody bellinger topps now card online the day after his big league debut. my mistake? i bought from a third party, and in between the time it took for topps to print and ship the cards to them, it became apparent that bellinger was a stud. my card was never shipped, with the seller all too happy (i imagine) to refund me my $5 and sell my card for eight times that (which is close to what i wound up paying for the card from a different seller near the peak of bellinger-mania). and near the end of this long and winding post, you'll find out my biggest regret in terms of card trading.

first though, i've done some things right. or rather, my dad did.  starting in 1981, my dad would buy for me the topps traded sets. in 1983, he also bought one for himself. in 1984, fleer joined the party with their update set, and my dad handed it to me one night.  as a result, i've been carrying this card around with me for the last 36 years.
my 1984 fleer update kirby puckett card would never be a psa 10, even on the day i opened the box, due to its centering. i love it though.  and, it has some friends from the set.
roger clemens is a guy of whom I have had an on and off again fandom of. you'll be able to read about that in a post in the not too distant future.  here's another card from the same set, and this one has been in my dodger stadium collection for the past few years
so, i don't recall what the retail price for the set was, but i do know that my dad bought the last one that our local card shop had in stock.  i was most excited about the gooden card, and so i was happy to find him in the topps traded set, which my dad bought for me as well.
still have that card, too, although the set my dad bought was also the last one the local card shop had, so we unfortunately did not get two this year. i've long since broken the set up for various player collections with little desire to reconstitute it.

i was also really excited about these two cards from those sets
i've mentioned many times that while i am not a pete rose apologist, i was and am a fan of the player. rose was my favorite non-dodger for a while, and i really wanted to see him on cardboard as an expo. i still greatly treasure these cards, along with his 1985 donruss card.

i noted earlier that beginning in 1983 my dad would buy two traded sets (with 1984 being the exception). there were two reasons for that. one was that i was still a set collector, and the idea of breaking a set was unthinkable. the other was that he had joined me in the hobby (as a player collector, mostly) and many of his collections "needed" cards of players featured in these sets.

in 1982 he gave me the topps traded set. while i pined over the need for another steve sax card, he felt the same. not just about sax, but about kent hrbek, too, and so the decision to buy two sets was set in motion. at the time, he also thought about collecting this guy
but ultimately decided against it. in 1984 or so, i also started a few player collections, and so as with the 1984 traded set, i eventually broke the 1982 set and put the ripken squarely in my pc sometime around 1986 or so.  i still have the complete 1985 and 1986 sets, (i wound up selling the complete 1983 set back to my lcs at peak darryl strawberry for a profit (to buy comic books)), plus most of the cards from the other sets that were broken, including the other 1983 darryl and the 1986 jose canseco cards and bo jackson cards, too.

i went looking for my other ripken rookie cards for this post, but the only one i could find (that is not in one of my complete non-traded/update sets) is this 1982 fleer version.
packed pulled back in 1982 from the first full box of cards my dad bought for us to break. good memories.

so these examples of "steals" are all real time purchases (speaking of which, here's one more that I found in my box of 2018 topps update that has potential)
(keep on keepin' on, juan soto!)

but what about cards that i got a great deal on years after they were first released?  well, in late 1993 i swung a trade for this card
i hadn't bought any upper deck in 1989, and so missed out on the card of the era. a coworker was no longer collecting and we worked out a trade.  unfortunately, he got the steal of a lifetime when i handed over my star wars figure and vehicle collection. three or four years later, the internet happened and i realized even then how much i had given away. i did get more than the griffey, with a bunch of other cards being added to the deal, including a 1971 topps nolan ryan card
but i gave up so much more. plus, i paid my brother half of the value of the cards i traded for since we co-owned most of the star wars stuff. again, this is before the internet and the only time i had seen this card was at card conventions. i had no idea that in just a handful of years, the ryan card would be readily available to me at the click of a few buttons. nor did i realize that i would have had access to a worldwide audience of star wars fans that were desperate for what i had played with in the late 1970's and early 1980's.

ok, enough now. if i were to think of one card that i have acquired not through a pack purchase that came at a steal of a price, i would go with this one.
that's a 2008 upper deck spx clayton kershaw rookie signatures card.

i got it in late 2008 in a trade with mario of the late, great "wax heaven". it cost me the cards from my defunct jose cruz jr. and ben grieve player collections, plus a bunch of marlins and a few cansecos that mario probably already had.  mario even added a couple of short printed kershaw rookie cards from 2008 upper deck timeline to the trade. the card remains a gem in my kershaw and dodger collection.

i should note that the ryan above actually is the one that my dad had in his collection. the one i traded for is now in my 1971 topps set, and it's not in as nice of condition as the one shown above.  over the past year, my parents have downsized and i am now the proud owner of my dad's collection. i'm not keeping it all as i am working on downsizing my collection as well, but there are some cards that i'll never part with.

over the last couple of decades, i never asked him about his collection, and even stood by silently as he talked about selling it to a third party - even taking some of it to show to a potential buyer. i had bought his 1956 topps sandy koufax from him back in 2013 to complete my run of topps flagship koufax cards as well as go towards completing my dodger team set, but other than that i had let his collection lie. i figured that if he was ready to part with it, he would part with it. and, if i were to be the recipient, he would let me know.

then, back in december of 2018 when we were together celebrating christmas, he handed me a package to unwrap. i knew right away it was a couple of pages of baseball cards. i thought maybe it was his steve garvey cards, but wasn't sure.  i unwrapped the gift and this is what i saw on page 1, pocket 1.
not a steal, but certainly a hobby gift of a lifetime.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

big d is gone, please topps don't forget him

I was going through some dodger doubles recently, and stopped to take a closer look at this card
it comes from 2016 topps, and celebrates zack greinke's 45 and two-thirds consecutive scoreless innings streak from the previous season.  there are a couple of things i find interesting here, but let me begin by saying i was appreciative of topps including greinke in this insert set that also featured the likes of lou gehrig, cal ripken jr, babe ruth, ken griffey jr, and nolan ryan to name a few. greinke was a stud for the dodgers - maybe the drysdale to clayton kershaw's koufax?

speaking of big d, when his then-record of consecutive scoreless innings was reduced from 58 and two-thirds innings to 58, i recall him being ticked at elias sports bureau. this happened shortly before orel hershiser broke the record with 59 scoreless innings in a row, so the issue went away, and it was great to see drysdale on hand to interview hershiser in san diego after the record breaking performance ended.  

however, when i saw the number on greinke's card, i immediately wondered if pitchers were once again being credited with partial innings even if the opposing team scored in that inning (this was the issue with drysdale as he gave up a run after recording two outs in the inning and the elias statistician said that he would therefore not get credit for a scoreless inning or part thereof).  since greinke didn't pitch in relief at all as a dodger,  i figured partial innings were back.

i flipped the card over to see if drysdale got his two-thirds of an inning back and found this:
not only did he not get that partial inning back, topps has completely wiped him from the record books!  drysdale and his 58 (at least) innings sits between hershiser and gibson on the all-time list (meaning greinke's was the fourth-longest of the post-expansion era), but topps left him out.  for the record, gibson's streak was at one time considered to be 47 and two-thirds innings as well, as he allowed a run with two outs in the first inning of a game against the dodgers to end his streak.

oddly enough, a recent post on shows that greinke remains credited with a partial inning of scoreless pitching, while drysdale and gibson are not extended the same courtesy.  and, in case you are wondering, greinke was still pitching when that run scored to end his streak, so that wouldn't be the reason for the partial inning. statistics shouldn't be subjective. so weird.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

don drysdale is in my hall of famer collection

don drysdale passed away in 1993, well before card companies began inserting autographed cards in to their packs. thankfully, i still have an on-card autograph of big d to put in to my hall of famer collection:
that is a 1993 nabisco all-stars autograph card. here's the back:
and here's the coa:
nabisco created these cards as part of a mail-in promotion (2 proofs of purchase plus $5 and you could choose a signed card from ernie banks, phil niekro, jim hunter, brooks robinson, or drysdale), and with the promotion of these cards running right about the time of drysdale's passing in july of 1993 while with the dodgers in montreal, his card was in high demand.

my dad saw drysdale pitch a few times and was able to put an image of drysdale the pitcher in my mind, basically affirming the stories i had heard of the tall, hard throwing pitcher with the glare and arm span that is perfectly captured on the above card.  the first drysdale card i ever owned was from the 1982 kmart box set, and while i thought it was weird that they included a few highlights cards (such as the drysdale) in what was an mvp based set, i wasn't complaining.

however, i knew drysdale first as an angels' broadcaster as he was part of the crew that presented games on ktla in the late 1970s. i soon learned of his career with the dodgers and recognized him on a re-run of 'the brady bunch'. he joined abc as a broadcaster of 'monday night baseball' and later became a dodger broadcaster following the retirement of jerry doggett.

as a result, most of my recollections of drysdale feature him as an announcer. i specifically recall thinking how great it was that drysdale was on hand as a broadcaster when orel hershiser broke his scoreless inning streak at the end of the 1988 season, and i enjoyed seeing him show up on the back of ramon martinez's 1991 score card holding a microphone. i only recently found out that drysdale was working a radio broadcast of the 1988 world series (must have been a regional broadcast as jack buck and bill white were doing the national radio gig), and heard his call of gibson's game 1 home run. on a sadder note, i distinctly remember watching the dodger telecast from montreal on july 3, 1993 on ktla and hearing scully announce that drysdale had passed away. it was surreal and a moment that has stuck with me for over 26 years.

here's my hall of famer collection as its been documented so far:

babe ruth - 2003 topps tribute world series edition world series tribute relic 351/425

honus wagner - 2001 topps tribute relic

tris speaker - 2011 topps tribute dual relic green parallel 53/75

george sisler - 2004 topps tribute hall of fame tribute relic

dizzy dean - 2001 topps tribute relic

bob feller - 2001 topps archives certified autograph

jackie robinson - 2004 topps clubhouse collection clubhouse relic

ted williams - 1992 upper deck baseball heroes autograph 1067/2000

yogi berra - 1998 donruss signatures significant signatures 1640/2000

sandy koufax - 1998 donruss signatures significant signatures 1707/2000

roberto clemente - 2005 donruss greats hall of fame souvenirs relic

warren spahn - 1999 upper deck century legends epic signatures

mickey mantle - 2000 upper deck legends legendary game jerseys relic

willie mays - 1997 topps willie mays reprints certified autograph

al kaline - 2001 fleer greats of the game autograph

duke snider - 2003 upper deck sp authentic chirography hall of famers 144/250

bob gibson - 2001 fleer greats of the game autograph

hank aaron - 2004 topps originals 1979 topps all-time record holders rbi 03/32

frank robinson - 1995 upper deck autograph

don drysdale - 1993 nabisco all-star autographs

harmon killebrew - 2000 upper deck legends legendary signatures

pee wee reese - 2001 topps tribute relic

jim hunter - 1998 donruss signature series significant signatures 0736/2000

willie stargell - 2000 upper deck legends legendary signatures 

jim palmer - 2001 fleer greats of the game autograph

gaylord perry - 2003 topps finest finest moments autograph

rollie fingers - 2018 topps archives signature series 1978 topps buyback 1/3

reggie jackson - 2018 topps tier one tier one talent autograph 19/60

steve carlton - 2018 topps five star career year autograph 43/45

mike schmidt - 2002 topps archives autoproof 1980 topps buyback 048/147

phil niekro - 2017 panini donruss recollection collection 1983 donruss buyback autograph 13/33

don sutton - 2001 fleer greats of the game autograph

carlton fisk - 1999 upper deck century legends epic signatures

tony perez - 2004 fleer national pastime 2002 fleer greats authentic autograph buyback 30/59

dave winfield - 2003 upper deck sp authentic chirography hall of famers 121/350

ozzie smith - 2019 topps finest finest origins autograph

gary carter - 1999 fleer sports illustrated greats of the game autograph collection

eddie murray - 2004 upper deck sp legendary cuts legendary sigs 45/50 

dennis eckersley - 2017 topps archives signature series 1984 topps buyback 47/99

paul molitor - 2016 topps museum collection archival autographs 021/125

bruce sutter - 2003 topps all-time fan favorites certified autograph

jim rice - 2005 upper deck past time pennants past time signatures

andre dawson - 2000 fleer greats of the game autograph

bert blyleven - 2004 upper deck legends timeless teams autograph

pedro martinez - 2018 topps high tek portraitek autograph 09/60

tim raines - 2018 topps tribute tribute autograph green parallel 26/95

alan trammell - 2001 fleer greats of the game autograph

roy halladay - 2017 topps archives signature series 2004 topps buyback 15/23

pete rose* - 2018 panini flawless legendary signatures 15/25

barry bonds* - 2001 bowman heritage autographs
you can find the full list of hall of famers (and some not - yet) that i aim to include in this collection at my want list site.

*not currently a member of the hall of fame