Monday, December 31, 2012

30 Year Top 50: 2005 Prime Patches

#16- One of my personal favorites on the list and one of the best relics set of the past 30 years. The Prime Patches set was released late in 2005 and was one of Donruss last hurrahs into the world of baseball cards. Many people compare it to the 2001 Pacific Private Stock set. Both sets were relic based releases that were critically seen as a means for both companies to dump their baseball relic inventory.

While many of the cards share the appearance of many one pack/box products, the Prime Patches cards actually came with 4 packs per box and each pack with three cards. Two of the cards were autographs or relics.  Boxes are still floating around, but are often very pricey.  I would suggest collecting the singles of the players or teams that you

2005 Prime Patches Juan Gonzalez Bat/Jersey/Pants Autograph

While the set did have autographs, they were all sticker autographs and there seemed to be plenty of missable players included in the run of autographs.  However, some of the autographs are still cool to own.  Imagine if this Juan Gone autograph were actually on the card.  That would be an incredible card, but even on a sticker it has a nice place in my collection and is one of my favorite pieces I own from the set.

2005 Prime Patches J.D. Drew Jumbo Jersey

While there are simple pieces of jersey and bat in the set one of the best parts about collecting these cards is the availability of jumbo jersey pieces.  After nearly fifteen years of relic cards, there are plenty of half inch by half inch squares out there on the market.  I love sets that offer collectors a chance to own something unique.  If it's going to be plain, than at least give a larger piece of jersey.  

2005 Prime Patches Jim Thome Patch

Of course, there are also plenty of truly unique pieces in the 2005 Prime Patches set too.  Anything from buttons to patches can be seen on the relics cards and in many cases the set includes a little bit of everything for collectors to chase.   While the big pieces are nice, there are also some really nice smaller, and very unique, patch cards in this set.  One of my favorites is a Mark Prior I picked up this summer.  
2005 Prime Patches Mark Prior Bat/Shoe/Hat/Fielding Glove

While the pieces are quite small I love the hat patch with the New Era logo.  Really cool card, and while it's a Cubs player I despise, probably won't trade this one.  There are plenty of other cards like this one available on Ebay or COMC, but they often come with a pretty hefty price.  

Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Favorite Sets and Autographs of 2012

We are down to our last few days of 2012 and I have had a great time this year venturing into the world of blogging and sharing my baseball card collection with those who care to read about the different cards in my collection or that I add to my collection through trades or purchases.  I thought it would be fun to make a reflective post back over the past year and share some of the highlights of collecting year.  If I had more resources and time perhaps I could create a little statue mold of the bull sign and mail them to the people that traded or sold me the cards in this post.  Some would, of course, end up with the different brand managers at Topps.  Maybe next year.

Best Set: Topps Five Star

2012 Topps Five Star Evan Longoria Auto/Quad Jersey Book

In my opinion this was a pretty easy choice. Topps put out about a dozen baseball products this year and I really liked several of the products for different reasons, but found many positives with the Five Star product.  First, the cards are very well designed, limited in quantity, and feature on-card autographs.  I did really well with this product by not opening the packs and instead strictly relying on trading and buying single cards on the secondary market.  I am sure that there are many people that have opened boxes of this product and had great fun in doing so, but I would probably end up with a few Vida Blue autographs, or Luis Tiant's, if I actually touched a pack myself.  No disrespect to Luis Tiant or Vida Blue intended.  So, for half a pack's worth of trade value I was able to pick up an Evan Longoria autograph/book last week.

2012 Topps Five Star Terry Pendleton

I was also really happy with the actual signers that Topps featured in the set.  As a Cardinals fan, I was able to add several nice Allen Craig and Jon Jay autographs to my collection early in the year with a few of the early Topps releases.  However, the pair were featured over and over again in sets throughout the year.  Five Star throw out some new names that collectors could target and add to their collections.  I really enjoyed tracking down this Terry Pendleton autograph two weeks ago.  While, he might be best remembered as a Brave, he spent the beginning portions of his career in St. Louis and he also has a limited quantity of autographs on the market.

Best Set Runner Up: Topps Archives

I will keep this one a little bit simpler.  I really enjoyed the card designs, especially the 1984 designed cards.  One of my favorite sets as a kid and I still love them almost thirty years later.  Topps did a spectacular job of copying every last detail into the design of the Archives cards.  Of course, Topps also used designs from the 1971 and 1980 Topps sets too in producing this year's Archives release. 

2012 Topps Archives Allen Craig

 The autographs in the set were also really cool.  There were many different players from different eras, and of differing star level featured in the set.  More on that later too.

2012 Topps Archives Jose Oquendo Autograph

Favorite Autographs of 2012
I am actually going to go with a list here.   I am also not going to limit this list to cards issued in 2012, but will open it up to any autographed card that I added to my collection during the past year.

2011 Topps Finest Mike Trout Autograph

2011 Topps Tribute Sandy Koufax Autograph/Jersey

2010 Donruss Elite Jordan Swagerty/Magic Johnson Error Autograph
2006 Upper Deck Sweet Spot Miguel Cabrera Autograph

2012 Topps Archives Ray Lankford Autograph

Pretty easy list to explain.  Mike Trout received a lot of attention this summer from collectors, and while I did not go out and try to find a Mike Trout card, I ended up adding one to my collection anyway.  The card has grown on me throughout the summer and hope that he can repeat his success again next year.  The Koufax card was just a nice addition and I do not own much in the way of Koufax stuff.  There also isn't a ton of it out there.  The last three cards were much more intentional additions.  The Magic Johnson/Jordan Swagerty error autograph is a card that I have looked for the past few years, the Miguel Cabrera autograph was my favorite Cabrera autograph I added this year (I add a lot of Cabrera cards this year), and the Lankford autograph was a welcome addition to my already existing collection of Lankford cards. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

30 Year Top 50: 2002 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres

#17-The Prospect Premieres issues in the early 2000s were Upper Deck's answer to the popular Bowman releases by Topps.  In my opinion, the best of the releases was clearly the 2002 set.  While the 2001 set featured both veteran and rookie cards, the 2002 set focused squarely on rookie cards.  Initially, there were several acclaimed rookie cards in the set.

2002 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres Khalil Greene Autograph

One of the best cards in this set upon it's initial release was the Khalil Greene autograph.  Greene was a highly sought after player out of Clemson and was seen as one of the top college players in the draft that summer.  He was drafted by the Padres and initially did not disappoint.  He moved quickly through the Padres system and was a key contributer to the by the summer of 2004.  However, later years significantly dropped the prices and collectibility of this card.  Most copies of this card can now be found under $5.  

2002 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres Jeff Francis Autograph

Other players from this set would make the majors and be key contributors to their teams success, but their cards would not hold up their value over time.  Some of these players include Jeff Francis, Nick Swisher, Mark Teahan, and Joe Blanton.  Several other players could also be argued to fit into this category including Curtis Granderson whose card values have roller coastered.  

2002  Upper Deck Prospect Premieres Prince Fielder Autograph

The real gems of the 2002 Prospect Premieres set are the Prince Fielder and Joe Mauer rookie cards.  My favorite, the Prince Fielder autograph, is pictured above.  While many people don't truly judge the Mauer, nor the Fielder as true rookies, they only need to try purchasing, or trading for, these two cards compared to the two players official rookie cards.  Both have also had their ups and downs, as far as value goes, but in my opinion, the Fielder card is one of the iconic cards of the past decade.  The Mauer card, a jersey card, is not quite as valuable, nor as iconic.  

The Prospect Premieres sets were important sets because they challenged the decade long stranglehold that the Topps based Bowman products had placed on the rookie card market.  While some of the cards fizzled, and other succeeded, many collectors still love these cards and will collect them even if the player did not live up to the hype.  

Like the 2002 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres set?  Not in my Top 50 countdown is the 2001 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres set.  Like the 2002 set, the 2001 set was full of all sorts of promising rookie cards.  The best of the bunch belonged to Mark Prior.  It was one of the best cards of 2001.  While, I do own a Mark Prior, I am not going to post it here for two reasons.  First, Prior was an arrogant Cub who spoke of "beating the Cardinals back to third or fourth place", but never managed to win much of anything despite all of the chatter.  Second, Prior isn't really a great baseball story.  

2001 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres Greg "Toe" Nash Autograph

Meet my favorite player from the 2001 baseball card sets, Rays prospect Greg "Toe" Nash.  An old story from Peter Gammons chronicles the legend of the Toe.  Nash, like Prior, also flopped, but he was a long shot and fun to collect at the time of this sets release.  Both the Prior and the Nash card can be found for less than $10, but the Nash card is a lot cooler card to own.  


Friday, December 21, 2012

30 Year Top 50: 1993 Topps Finest

#18-Today's set is rresponsible for introducing the world to the term "Super-Premium" baseball card.  I guess that between 1989 and 1992 collector's quickly got tired of the notion of simply receiving just "premium" baseball cards.  The Topps Finest brand was supposed to represent the best of baseball in 1993 according to the Topps company.  The set had a limited print run and a set of exciting chase cards, limited to a print run of 241 cards each, called refractors.  The term and use of refractor cards has greatly expanded over the past decade and is now found in multiple Topps sets.

1993 Topps Finest Mark McGwire 

I think that some collectors would have placed this set higher on the list, but I had two real issues with the set.  First, there are no important rookie cards in this set.  I don't care how much you like J.T. Snow, or think how great of a player he was, he's not significant in the world of baseball cards.  Rookie cards are always important, in my opinion, in the long-term success of a set.  Second, Topps expanded the use of the technology used in this set to sets that weren't super premium and not limited in print run like this set.   If this set, along with a few other limited "Super-Premium" sets were the extent of the refractor use, I believe these cards would be even more valuable and more sought after.  

1993 Topps Finest Refractor Ozzie Smith

In my opinion, this set is a really great chase set.  What cards does everyone want?  The refractors.  They are super rare at a print of 241, which for 1993 was microscopic, and they have a huge following making the secondary market very competitive on sites like Ebay.  Sellers have a highly desired item and can often sit on them and wait for a collector to pay their price for the card.  Which sure enough someone will eventually.  

1993 Topps Finest Refractor Lou Whitaker

I have a rather large and extensive card collection, but actually only own three of the Topps Finest Refractor cards from this set.  Two of them are Cardinals and the other one, the Lou Whitaker above, I found on Ebay way under price because the lister had misspelled Whitaker, Witaker.  

1993 Topps Finest Refractor Ray Lankford

While I am sure that someone has assembled the entire 1993 Topps Finest Refractor set, there aren't many copies of these cards floating around and they make for a great chase.  If you are a set collector, these cards are probably going to disappoint unless you are long on time and money.  I do think this is a fun set to look into if you have a favorite 90s player, or a team that you collect.  After ten years out on the market, I am still looking for the Lee Smith, Gregg Jefferies, and Todd Zeile cards from this set.  Not that I can't find them, but I don't love Todd Zeile for $99.  

Like the 1993 Topps Finest Set?  Not in my Top 50 countdown in the 2008 Topps Finest Autographs.  I know it sounds like a bit of an odd choice, but this one is more of a personal preference and the ability to actually find and assemble the set.  Like I said above, the refractor and "Super-Premium" innovations that Topps used in making the 1993 Finest set have been reused and rehashed so many times over the past decade that there are easily two dozen other sets that I could potentially place in this space as a similar quality product to the featured set.  

2008 Topps Finest Finest Moments Ryan Braun Autograph

There are several reasons to love the autographs in the 2008 Topps Finest set.  First, for some reason Topps has equated "Super-Premium" to mean that it's cool to buy a box of cards for around $100 and find sticker autographs.  The 2008 set is an on-card autograph set.  The background space where the players signed the cards is white and clear and it appears, for the time being, that the autographs are actually going to hold up and not fade.  

2008 Topps Finest Finest Moments David Wright Autograph

Second, the autograph cards in the 2008 Finest set are a solid collection of players.  There aren't any must have cards in the set, but at the same time, you can find the autographs of Hanley Ramirez, David Wright, Ryan Howard, Ryan Braun, Cole Hamels, and many others.  In my opinion, if you are a fan of baseball and like collecting autographs, they are all worth owning a card of.  Why not an on-card autograph like these?

2008 Topps Finest Finest Moments Ryan Howard Autograph

The last reason to check out these cards is that you can actually assemble the entire set.  The 1993 Topps Finest set is 199 cards and most people collect the refractors.  Most common refractors sell for $10-$20 and the star players can run into the low $100s.  Plus, some of the cards are becoming difficult to find.  The 2008 Topps Finest autographs aren't difficult to find and shouldn't cost you more than $20-$25 for one of the better cards, like Ryan Braun.  

2012 Bowman Draft Oscar Taveras Futures Game Jersey

2012 Bowman Draft Oscar Taveras Futures Game Jersey

I have been slowly adding to my Oscar Taveras collection this fall and picked up a cool new card of his this past week.  Taveras was the Cardinals third rated prospect behind Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez last year before he won the Texas League MVP playing for Springfield.  The Texas League tends to be a pitching league, so for one of the league's youngest players to come in and put up a .321 average with power is quite impressive.  I am hoping he appears in St. Louis soon, but wouldn't be shocked if he hangs out in Memphis (AAA) for awhile next year.  

I have actually picked up a few other Taveras cards this summer and featured a few in this space.  His cards have really picked up momentum and are getting to be a little bit high for a player who hasn't taken a Major League at-bat.  This card is from the over airbrushed Bowman Draft set which features a set of jersey cards from the Futures game.  I really like the design of this card, which is also available in patch form.  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

2008 SPX Jim Edmonds Patch Card

2008 SPX Jim Edmonds Patch Card

It has been too long since I have added a "Jimmy Ballgame" card to my collection, but I was picking up a few cheap cards online last week and saw this card.  I am a little disappointed that the card says "Padres" really small under his name, but the patch is clearly from a Cardinals uniform.  

I had picked up a few Jim Edmonds cards a few months ago, but haven't picked up any in the time since.  I collected Jim Edmonds cards while he was on the Cardinals, but stopped during the 2007 season when he was traded to the Padres, released, and ended up on the Cubs.  The Edmonds exit from the Cardinals was hard and difficult, but fences have been mended and Edmonds is very influential and present with the current Cardinals teams.  I am going to have to do a little bit better with Edmonds cards next year.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

30 Year Top 50: 2006 Topps Allen & Ginter

#19- When the 2006 Allen & Ginter set was released many people thought that it was going to be another in a long line of retro products that Topps seems to issue each year.  However, in its first year, the Allen & Ginter set ended up being one of the most popular sets of the past thirty years.  Unlike some products that are widely available on the shelves of hobby shops for weeks at a time, the Allen & Ginter packs and boxes were snapped up in bunches early and often which lead to steep prices.  Even today, boxes of 2006 Allen & Ginter sell easily for north of $200.

Why the craze over this product?  Non-baseball autographs which are, in 2012 the seventh year of Allen & Ginter, now commonplace with this product.  The 2006 set featured Leon Spinks, Bruce Jenner, Jennie Finch, Danica Patrick, John Wooden, Hulk Hogan, and Randy Couture among others.  Of course, there were also great baseball autographs.

2006 Topps Allen & Ginter Chase Utley Autograph

Now, before some of you get excited about seeing non-baseball autographs you need to think about this:  In nine months of blog posts how many non-baseball cards have appeared on my page?  The answer is zero.  Honestly, if I had opened a pack of Allen & Ginter and found an autograph of one of the non-baseball personalities above it would have, at worst, ended up on Ebay.  It's not my thing as a card collector and probably never will be.  However, those cards are a huge reason this set is as popular as it is and also a huge factor in the successful run of Allen & Ginter sets for the Topps company.  

2006 Topps Allen & Ginter Prince Fielder Autograph 

Back to baseball cards.  The autographs in this set, that are of baseball players, are great.  Really nice pinkish banner across the middle of the card for the player to sign.  I am not sure I've seen an unattractive Allen & Ginter autograph.  Some of the players in the set are harder players to find signatures of, like Chase Utley, while others are a little more common, like my Prince Fielder.  Even though a player might have a large inventory of autographs, the demand for the Allen & Ginter autographs from this set drive the cards a little bit higher.  

2006 Topps Allen & Ginter Huston Street Autograph 

The set can be found for sale without buying a box, but it runs a lot higher than the normal Allen & Ginter set from more recent years.  The set, with short-prints, can easily run a collector $100.  The option of buying the set is cheaper than finding the packs, or buying the box, but if you would rather buy singles I have a few recommendations.  

First, there are many common autographs in this set which can be picked up for less then $20.  My Huston Street autograph above is a great looking autograph from an All-Star caliber player, but buying the single card saves you the expense of paying a premium for the non-baseball autographs in the set.  Besides, if you spent $200 on a box and your autograph was Huston Street you'd be completely disappointed.  If you trade another common autograph for one, or picked one up on Ebay or COMC, you'd probably not mind the cost.  

2006 Topps Allen & Ginter Dick Perez Collection Albert Pujols

My final suggestion is to check out the insert sets.  The inset sets are smaller and more manageable to put together, but offer some of the same great aspects of the base set.  My favorite from the Allen & Ginter set is the Dick Perez Collection.  The set is only 30 cards and features the art work of renowned sports artist Dick Perez.  Love this Pujols card above.  

Like the 2006 Topps Allen & Ginter set?  Not in my Top 50 countdown is the 2006 Topps Turkey Red set.  This set is cut from the same retro mold as the 2006 Allen & Ginter set, but is a little bit more sane to collect.  The cards, like the Allen & Ginter, are based on an older issue of cards.  

2006 Topps Turkey Red Matt Holliday 

One of my favorite aspects of this set is the fact that the base cards have different colored borders.  Each base card is available in grey, white, red, and black.  The set also featured jersey cards and autographs.

2006 Topps Turkey Red Garrett Atkins Autograph  

The set also featured blankets.  Hmm.  Anyway, the best autograph is the set is the Mariano Rivera.  I don't own it, but I do own this awesome Garrett Atkins card.  The autographs are all on card, but the texture of the cards, a bit grainy, can cause some of the signatures to look a little bit fuzzy/bumpy.  The set as a whole is much cheaper than the Allen & Ginter set with complete sets selling for around $30.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

2012 Topps Five Star Ryan Braun Auto/Jersey

I have been slowly picking up different Five Star cards over the past few weeks through some trading.  The product is high end and beautifully made.  However, it also falls into my wax rule.  If I purchased a pack of these cards I would end up with a few Vida Blue autographs, or maybe a Luis Tiant.  I am not saying those aren't cool cards, but given the sticker price is three digits I don't want to get a $15 autograph or $5 jersey card.

2012 Topps Five Star Ryan Braun Jersey/Auto

Luckily, I have been able to pick up a few of these great cards and am still looking to add a few more to my collection.  I ended up purchasing this card for just over $20 which is a steal for a Ryan Braun on-card autograph especially one from a great high end product like Five Star.  Braun actually has several autographs in the set, this being the most common.  Next week I have a few more Five Stars coming in and will do a little bit bigger write up on the set as a whole.  Enjoy!  Go Pack!  

Monday, December 17, 2012

30 Year Top 50: 1995 Bowman

#20- This set was a huge part of the Bowman prospect craze of the mid to late 90s.  While it did not have the ridiculous $125 value guarantee of some of the later 90s Bowman sets, it was one of the more valuable sets of Bowman cards since it's rebirth in 1989.  Like most Bowman sets, the value and popularity of the center centered around a few key rookie cards in the set.  While the set has lost much of it's value and luster, as some of the key rookie players have aged and not lived up to their hype, the set will still run north of $40.  The key rookies below are also in the chromier/shiny looking Bowman's Best.

1995 Bowman Vladimir Guerrero

The most important card in the set is the Vladimir Guerrero rookie card.  The card has always been a pretty popular rookie and has ranged above $50 at times.  I am not sure that Vladimir's final years really helped him in the baseball card world since you can now find nicely graded copies around $20 and raw singles for less than $5.  I will honestly admit that I liked watching Vladimir play, always kept track of him, and have dabbled in his cards.  I think he's a Hall of Fame player, not on the first ballot, and his cards are easy to find and inexpensive.  I am not saying that they will have a ton of value, but there are plenty of really cool ones.  

1995 Bowman Foil Scott Rolen 

The next best card in the set, in my opinion, is the Scott Rolen rookie.  The card is apart of the Foil subset, which was short printed (I believe), and can be a little bit more condition sensitive then the other rookie cards.  I spent a few years watching Rolen as the Cardinals third baseman and spent time collecting his cards and know that this is a pretty popular card.  Despite it's popularity, it can be easily found for less than $5.  I am not sure that Rolen is a Hall of Famer, but he's probably pretty close given how many Gold Gloves he has won and his offensive numbers as a third baseman.

1995 Bowman Chris Carpenter 

I know that some who are reading this post are probably a little surprised that I put Carpenter down as the third key rookie card in this set, but keep reading and I will get to the other rookie card.  Carpenter seems to miss a lot of time, but when he's healthy he's a great clutch pitcher.  I credit him for being one of the major reasons the Cardinals won the World Series in both 2006 and 2011.  This is not a very valuable card, probably never will be, but it's a great card to throw into your collection just for the sake of owning a nice rookie card of a really good pitcher.  

1995 Bowman Andruw Jones 

This is one of my least favorite baseball cards ever.  It's always been completely overrated, but then again, Andruw Jones has always kind of been that way.  I understand that it was really cool the Braves called him up when he was 19, made the World Series, and hit two home runs in a game.  He had five or six good years and has been a bench player since he left the Braves.  Despite all of that, I still run into people that have crazy opinions of this card.  I have heard everything from people hoarding them, because he's a first ballot Hall of Famer to Andruw is working out this winter and will be back out in centerfield next year...he's one Gold Glove away from being the next Willie Mays.  Last summer, a fellow trader tried to trade me a copy of this card, straight up, for a Buster Posey rookie.  Apparently they were using a Beckett from 1997.  Ironically, last week I traded for a Rick Ankiel autograph and got this card as a throw-in.  

Like the 1995 Bowman set?  Not in my Top 50 is the legendary 1995 Topps Traded set.  This great 1995 set also featured a few key rookies, but the had some issues.  I am still not sure which card people value more, the Carlos Beltran card of Juan LeBron or the Juan LeBron card of Carlos Beltran.  I picked up both just in case.  

1995 Topps Traded Carlos Beltran/Juan LeBron

1995 Topps Traded Juan LeBron/Carlos Beltran

I have always really enjoyed these two cards and consider it one of the better error cards of the past twenty years or so.  I know that Topps makes all kinds of goofy intentional errors now, but I am sure that aside from a few people in the Royals organization and Baseball America employees, few probably knew the difference between the two players in 1995.  Beltran has obviously had a far more successful career than LeBron who never reached the majors.  

1995 Topps Traded Hideo Nomo 

There is also a rookie card of Dodger pitcher Hideo Nomo that was pretty popular back in the day.  I actually got a chance to see Nomo pitch during the summer of 1995 in St. Louis and am pretty sure that this picture was taken during that game.  The crowd isn't wearing much red for a Cardinals game, but the low green wall seems very Busch Stadium like.  Plus, I wouldn't wear red if Tripp Cromer and Chris Sabo was the right side of my infield.  I love how Nomo is looking sideways and the ball is out of his hand.  Crazy.   

Sunday, December 16, 2012

2012 Topps Heritage Minor League Carlos Martinez Magenta Printing Plate

I don't dabble in the 1/1 market very often, but was excited to acquire a printing plate from the Topps Heritage Minor League of Cardinals pitching prospect Carlos Martinez.  The 2012 season has marked the debut of Martinez in licensed sets and I have managed to pick up a couple of his autographs early in the year.

2012 Topps Heritage Minor League Carlos Martinez Magenta Printing Plate 

I found this card over on my Facebook page where it was pulled by Ryan, a great baseball card trader.  He can also be found in several of the trading groups, but is always really cool to work with on trading.  Anyway, I sent over a nice Ryan Bruan autograph for the Martinez plate and we also traded out a few nice relics cards from my side for a few nice autographs and relic card for my end of the deal.

2008 SPX Young Stars Signatures Chris Duncan Autograph

First up is a nice Chris Duncan autograph from the 2008 SPX set.  I actually own almost all of the Chris Duncan autographs, but was still missing this one.  I collected Chris Duncan cards for awhile after the 2006 World Series since he was one of the key players on that team.  He has since retired due to a neck injury and works in St. Louis in talk radio.  

2010 Donruss Elite Tyrell Jenkins

I also received a 2010 Donruss Elite Tyrell Jenkins autograph.  Jenkins is one of the better pitching prospects in the highly rated Cardinals minor league system.  He is considered a little bit raw, but is a fantastic athlete and was recruited to Baylor to play football.  Jenkins is also a great follow on Twitter and really interacts with his fans and followers.  

2007 Upper Deck Sweet Spot Bruce Sutter Jersey

Lastly, I received a Sweet Sport Bruce Sutter jersey.  The card has a cool picture of Bruce Sutter with the awesome shaggy 80s beard and a piece of powder blue Cardinals road jersey.  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

30 Year Top 50: 1983 Fleer

#21-This is the set that started it all for me as a baseball card collector.  I also dabbled into the 1983 Topps set, but this was as least my first pack of cards.  I still have all of the cards I pulled when I was six, but I had to find new copies of the cards that were in better shape.  The 1983 Fleer set is very simple in design.  The borders are a very light grey with no pattern or design.  The set's claim to fame is the rookie cards of three Hall of Fame players: Ryne Sandberg, Tony Gwynn, and Wade Boggs.

1983 Fleer Ryne Sandberg

My favorite rookie card in the set is actually the Ryne Sandberg card.  In fact, the Cubs card in this set are generally pretty awesome.  Why?  I don't remember the Cubs actually wearing the jerseys pictured in these cards, but I think they are pretty sweet.  They are like reverse pinstripes, or "third jersey" pinstripes.  Whatever you want to call them, I really like the card.  Sandberg played the majority of Cubs where I often cheered against him, but he has spent the past few years managing the Leigh High Valley Iron Pigs in the International League which is the AAA for the Phillies.  He's really done great work as a minor league manager and was named the Minor League Manager of the Year in 2011.  I believe the Phillies are using him as the bench coach next season.  

1983 Fleer Tony Gwynn

1983 Fleer Wade Boggs

The other two rookie cards, as mentioned before, belong to Tony Gwynn and Wade Boggs.  Both players were great average hitters and ended their careers above the 3000 hit total.  I was never a huge Boggs fan.  Not sure why, but it went really far downhill after he tried to put himself into the Hall of Fame as a Devil Ray.  Luckily, wiser minds prevailed and Boggs is a Red Sox on his plaque.  Gwynn was always a great player and a class act.  I almost got to see his 3,000 hit at a Cardinals game, but he ended the evening at 2,998.  

There are plenty of other great cards in the set beyond the three rookie cards mentioned above and a great add to any collection.  The set "books" for $60, but can often be found for $20-$30 on Ebay or at local card shops.  The single versions of the rookie cards are all under $5, but can be pricey if you are looking for a clean graded copy.  

Like the 1983 Fleer set?  Not in my Top 50 countdown in the 1991 Fleer Ultra Set.  This was Fleer's first venture into the premium card market and they actually remind me a lot of the 1983 Fleer cards in appearance.  

1991 Fleer Ultra Ken Griffey Jr. 

The cards have the grey, drab border and I haven't quite figured out what the "premium" aspect of these cards are over the past twenty years.  I really enjoy some of the photography in the set with lots of great action shots of players.  Many of the 1991 releases featured rookie cards of Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez, but this set missed both players.  Fleer did release an Update set which squeezed both players in along with a Juan Gonzalez which is considered one of his better early cards.    The real bright spot in the set for some collectors is the Ultra Team inset set.  

1991 Fleer Ultra Ultra Team Rickey Henderson 

I know several people who love these cards, collect them, and have multiple copies.  I am not one of them, but I don't have many left in my collection because they have all been traded to two people.  Anyway, I am not sure if the inserts in 1991 had a ratio, but you generally get a handful of these when you open a box of 1991 Ultra.  I would guess they could be as low as 1:2, but they are probably closer to 1:5 or 1:6.  The Ultra Team cards have more of a "premium look" and feel for 1991, but I still like the Upper Deck cards from the early 90s better.  

2012 Topps Skip Schumaker Squirrel Card

2012 Topps Skip Schumaker Squirrel Card

I first saw this card right before the first series of the 2012 Topps set was released last spring.  Those unfamiliar with the story of the Rally Squirrel may read here.    I knew that I had to have one of these cards, but was a little bit disappointed to find out that it was "super short-printed" and the first copy or two sold for over $600 on Ebay.  That's a really steep price for a card, especially one featuring Skip Schumaker.  

The price of the card slowly dropped and settled around $100 for awhile.  I saw several for trade and worked that angle for awhile, but I found it difficult to gather much traction towards closing the deal with anyone.  I kept my eye on the card throughout the summer and noticed that it continued to work it's way under $100 and is currently settled anywhere between $50 and $75.

Finally, a week ago I spotted a copy of the card in the photobucket album of a fellow trader and was able to swing a deal for a few Giants autographs.  I was happy to get my squirrel card and not break the bank to do so.