Monday, July 21, 2014

New Ginters

I have always really liked the Allen & Ginter cards.  They are part baseball card and part mail catalog encyclopedia.  That's how the original Ginter cards were designed though and Topps always gives a really good effort with making this recreation as close to the original as possible.  Last year I spent a few posts steering my readers through my favorite non-sport Ginters which included the likes of D.B. Cooper, the Lemp Mansion in St. Louis, dogs, flags, and so much more.  That's a huge link.  This year's Ginter offer much of the same as previous years.

This year's insert sets feature World's Capitals, Fighter Jets, and Parties (not shown, but they're there) ...........

There are some baseball inserts too.  I think these Pastime's Pastimes cards look sharp with the dark background and the white writing and frame around the player picture......

Of course there are hit cards too.  I did not land an autograph in my box, but I did have three relic hits.  I had two baseball hits with a Joey Votto and David Price.  My non-baseball hit belongs to Mike Pereira who was the head of the NFL's referees and then did some TV work after his career with the NFL.  I had never heard of him until I pulled his card, but he sits on some sort of Fried Chicken Sofa and gives shouts out to kids watching football....

Here are my hit cards......

and then there are the cards from the base set.  There are young players, old players, swimmers, weight lifters, comedians, ESPN personalities.  Chuck Todd.  All kinds of people.  Here's a look:  

Lastly, I would like to offer this piece of advice.  After you have opened up your packs of Allen & Ginter, sort back through your cards carefully and check through all of your cards.  You never know.......

when something that's looks ordinary, is going to turn into something that is extraordinary.......

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Blogger Walks Into A Card Store....

I am prepping for school to start back up in the next two weeks which is always a little bit stressful, but I found a little bit of down town this week to stop by Big D's Card Shop in Raleigh.  I will have another post about my favorite local card shop again at some point tomorrow.  My post this evening is going to focus a bunch of cards that the owner of Big D's, Jimmy, has found and set aside for me over the past month or so.  

Three of the cards I picked up today are really nice autographs from one of my favorite former Durham Bulls Evan Longoria.  Each card is a pretty low print run and not the easiest of finds.  Let's start with a Topps Unique autograph.  

I do not recall ever seeing this card before Jimmy showed it to me and I am a pretty big Longoria fan.    I also really like the Topps Unique set.  It's numbered to just 25 copies and there has not been a copy of this card sold on Ebay recently.  In fact, there is not one of COMC, Collector Revolution, or Amazon.  Nowhere.  I had to pick up this card.  With none around and a print run of just 25, it's likely not around because the other copies of this card are in collections and they are not going anywhere.  

Next up is a nice copy of a Tribute Longoria autograph which is just serial numbered to 20.  I have seen plenty of Longoria autographs from the Tribute sets, but I have never seen this gold card.  I love the gold color, the two bat pieces, and the Longo autograph.  Next...

The highest numbered card here, but still just 99 copies and a rookie card to boot.  This is the blue edition of the Rays third baseman's rookie card.  The scan is a little blurry and scratchy because it's in a screw down holder.  This might be my favorite card out of the lot.  Yes, I know Longoria is wearing the old style Rays uniform, but I used to love these old Bowman's Best set.  This is a great card.  I might have to take it out of the screw down and rescan it.  

While I was at Big D's I also picked up a few other items.  I had two other cards that Jimmy had set aside for me at the store.  The first was a Matt Adams Jumbo Bat/Autograph card from the 2012 Topps Finest Set.  

I have a copy of this card, but it has a jersey relic instead of a bat relic.  I think I bought the jersey relic version of this card the first week the set was out and gave up on even looking for the bat relic or just did not look for it at all.  Either way, this card has found a happy home in my collection.  

Lastly, I picked up this nice in-person autograph of Cardinals prospect Stephen Piscotty.  He played here this week during the Triple A All-Star game.  The Durham Bulls had an autograph meet and greet on Tuesday, but I did not get to attend.  This Piscotty was in the shop and too hard for me to pass on.  Really cool picture and a nice autograph.  

Bonus items?  Yes.  

I picked up a card from a customer in the store.  Sent over a little bit of Paypal and landed this cool looking Longoria autograph.  You can't have too many.....

Jimmy also had a cool Jeremy Hellickson Durham Bulls program he had in the back of his shop.  Pretty sweet item.  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

New Tier One Redbirds

I have already picked up a pair of Tier One Cardinals autographs, but there are still a few more Cardinals cards out there floating around that I would love to add to my card collection.  I picked up two of them a few weeks ago and never got around to posting anything about either card.  The first card I actually picked up at Big D's Sports Cards in Raleigh.

This beautiful Yadier Molina relic is numbered to 399, which sounds like a lot, but Yadi always has a limited number of relic cards every year.  Some of the Molina relics have a pretty good sized print run, but in the end he still has a pretty small number of items out on the market.  He is also, surprisingly, one of the pricier Cardinals players to collect.  Jimmy, the owner at Big D's, gave me a good deal on this card.  Next up, another good Cardinals player.....

The McGwire is my second Big Mac of the month after I picked up a sweet jumbo patch of the slugging first baseman a few weeks ago.   The McGwire out of Tier One is numbered to just 99 and I found it in an auction room on Facebook and paid less than $10 for the card.

The Triple A All-Star Game

The day that all baseball fans around the Triangle had been waiting for finally arrived last night at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.  The Durham Bulls hosted the mid summer classic between the International and Pacific Coast Leagues and they did not disappoint.  I arrived early and the atmosphere was great from the get go.  The gates opened a half hour early for the event.  Here's a look from the outside of the park in the front courtyard before the game.  

Batting practice was still underway when the crowd entered the stadium.  It seems like that can be a rare occurrence at the DBAP sometimes, so it was cool to hang out and watch the Pacific Coast players take their hacks.   I grabbed a drink, sat back, and watched a batting practice group with Dodgers prospect Joc Pederson and Cardinals prospect Stephen Piscotty.  

Shortly before the game the festivities kicked off with the player introductions.  The Pacific Coast Coast All-Stars were announced first, as the visiting team, followed by the International League.  The biggest applause was a toss up between several Durham Bulls players.  I'd go with Mike Montgomery or Mikie Mahtook as the loudest, or perhaps the Bulls manager, Charlie Montoyo when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch.  

I was happy to see the Bulls recognize Montoyo before the game last night.  He really flies under the radar around here, but after being hired by the team to manage the club in 2007 Montoyo has managed to win six division titles, two Governor's Cups (International League Championship), a Triple National Championship, two Manager of the Year awards, and a Mike Coolbaugh award.  Why don't more people talk about the awesome work this guy does?  I am glad he got his moment in the sun in front of a large crowd.   

Here are the two squads lined up right before the National Anthem.  

After the National Anthem there was a fly over, but the planes used for the flyover were older planes. Maybe World War 2 era planes?  I am not an aviation expert, but it was a pretty cool scene and quieter than having the stadium buzzed by an F-16.  

Which brings us to the game.  The International League started Liam Hendricks from the Buffalo Bisons (Blue Jays).  Here what the scene looked like right before the first batter.  

During the first inning I was excited to see Dodgers prospect Joc Pederson.  Watching an International League means that I miss out on talent from the Pacific Coast League.  Pederson seems like a legit prospect, so I watched him closely.  His first at-bat resulted in a strikeout.  

While Pederson did not do much damage at the plate in the first inning, the International League jumped out to an early lead, which proved to be more than enough, on a Wilson Betimet single and a Jhonatan Solano home run.  Here's a Betimet hit, which was nearly caught by Reno first baseman Mike Jacobs....

and the Solano blast.  In my opinion it was a bit of shame that this guy did not win the Outstanding Player Award.  

The other player I really enjoyed watching on the International League was National outfield prospect Stephen Souza.  He's got pop, he's got speed, he can catch, he's hitting .370 something.  Lat night he made a good catch and had some quality hits including a double.  

Back to Pederson.  Somewhere in between the International League scoring a ton of runs Joc did this, which was pretty impressive.

With the game in hand and a Joc Pederson blast on the books the last thing on my to do list was to watch Cardinals outfield prospect Stephen Piscotty.  He had a sharp single to left field during his first at-bat.

and also came up again in the ninth with the Pacific Coast League down to their last at-bat.

Liam Hendricks was named the Outstanding Player for the International League for his two spotless innings, while UVA product Chris Taylor, from the Mariners organization, was named Outstanding Player for the Pacific Coast League for his 3-4 effort.  

Overall, it was a spectacular evening of baseball.  The Durham Bulls did a great job of hosting this event.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Triple A All-Star Game Durham

I am just about two and half hours away from attending the Triple A All-Star which is being hosted by the Durham Bulls this year. I attended the Home Run Derby on Monday night and am excited about seeing the actual game tonight. 

I had to work today, but was could not wait for the end of my meeting. There are already a ton of people in downtown Durham for the game already and the gates of the Durham Bulls Atheltic Park are opening thirty minutes early for the All-Star game. The lineups are posted: 

I am probably most excited to see some of the Pacific Coast League players who I do not see in the International League, Pederson and Piscotty come to mind, but I will still be pulling for the home International League with the Durham Bulls and a few other personal favorites from other teams, like Steven Souza.  Should be fun and I will share more pictures tomorrow. 

Two New Rays

So much to do today.  I have a professional development seminar this morning and then the Triple A All-Star game this evening.  I am also still behind on cards from the last two weeks, so let's knock two out of the way this morning.  I picked up both of these cards at Big D's Card Shop, my favorite local card shop, about a week and half ago.  Jimmy, the owner of the store, found both of these cards for me and set them aside.  

Up first is a cool Hak Ju Lee from last year's Bowman Inception set:

In my opinion this was the best set that Topps put out last year and I have picked up a slew of these cards during the past year.  While I already own a copy or two of the Hak Ju Lee card, I did not own a copy of the blue parallel.  Add in the fact that this card is number one and you have the makings of a great card.  Hak Ju Lee is having a rough year at the plate, but he is still playing defense at an elite level and think he should make his Rays debut shortly.....

Last card for this morning belongs to Leslie Anderson.  The former Cuban baseball star spent several years in Durham playing for the Bulls.  While Anderson never made it to Tampa, he was still a fan favorite of Bulls fans.  This past off season Anderson left the Rays organization and the U.S. to play ball in Japan with the Yomiuri Giants.  

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Triple A All-Star Baseball Card Sets

Besides attending the Triple A All-Star Home Run Derby last night I also took a trip to the Bulls Ballpark Store.  I have a good collection of Durham Bulls shirts in my dresser, so I opted to check out the baseball card rack last night looking for a set of All-Star cards from both the International and Pacific Coast Leagues.  I was met with success.  Here's a look at the two sets with the International League first....

The biggest thing I noticed about the International League set is the photo quality.  The cards are blurry, and while I do not think they are photoshopped, something is definitely off with the pictures.  If I knew more about photography I could probably tell you something more about what is wrong with these cards, but I cannot.  Here's a look at the 34 International League All-Stars.  

Of course I love the Durham Bulls cards in the set, but I have a few other cards I enjoyed adding to my collection.  The Steven Souza card is a nice add.  In my opinion the Syracuse outfielder (Nationals) is the mid season MVP of the International League.  I always like the Mike Hessmann card.  The Toledo Mud Hens star has been in Triple A since I moved to Durham in 2005 and has always been one of the most feared power hitters in the International League.  Hessmann was originally scheduled to appear in the Triple A Home Run Derby, but did not participate after he injured his knee last week.  Here is Hessmann hitting his 400th career home run last year in a Louisville Bats uniform.  


The Pacific Coast League cards have better pictures and there are some great prospects in this too.  Here's a look at the check list......

There is obviously a Steven Piscotty card in this set, but there are other great prospects in the PCL All-Star card set too.  Probably my two favorites are Cubs shortstop Arismendy Alcantara and Dodgers outfield prospect Joc Pederson.  Both should be on collectors radar.  Here is the rest of the Pacific Coast League All-Star team.....