Tuesday, November 27, 2012

2004 Leaf Limited Gold Bob Gibson Autograph

A quick post tonight on a card I picked up last week of Cardinals Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson.  This card comes from the 2004 Leaf Limited set and is the gold version of the card which is limited to a print run of just 25.

2004 Leaf Limited Gold Bob Gibson Autograph

I already own several of the autographs from this set already and couldn't pass up adding this card to my collection either.  I also have a Musial and Ozzie Smith card which I haven't had a chance to post on my blog in the eight months it's been up, but this Gibson card actually completes my set of Cardinals cards from the Limited Cuts inserts from the Leaf Limited set.  There are other Cardinals autographs with in the Leaf Limited set, but they are all sticker autographs.  Sadly, all four Cardinals Hall of Famers appearing in the Limited Cuts insert also appear on a variety of sticker autographs throughout the set.  The Monikers cards are probably your best bet in this set past the Cuts autographs.

2004 Leaf Limited Monikers Scott Rolen Autograph/Bat

Monday, November 26, 2012

2000 Upper Deck Hologrfx Brian Jordan Base Card

I have had some good luck this month with tracking down a few cards that have long been on my want list.  This is at least the third or fourth card that has been on my every shifting list for more than a year.  It's true that you can actually find this card on Ebay or COMC, but I am not going to pay a fortune for a game used base card.  I want the card, but I have a value I am willing to pay in trade or cash.  

2000 Upper Deck Hologrfx Brian Jordan Base Card

The Hologrfx set wasn't anything special and boxes and packs can be found really cheap along with all the base cards in the set and all of the inserts.  The one really cool thing about the set however was the addition of game used base cards featuring pieces of the actual bases used in the 1999 World Series between the Braves and Yankees.  Brian Jordan was the right fielder for the Braves that season after spending the first several years of his career as a Cardinal.  

There are a total of 11 cards in the set, 6 Yankees and 5 Braves, which also come in autographed form too.  The Braves are short one card because John Rocker was cut out of the set by Upper Deck for being John Rocker.  The Brian Jordan autograph is limited to just 33 copies and I have been unable to secure one for my collection yet.  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

30 Year Top 50: 1999 Upper Deck Century Legends

#28- The Upper Deck Century Legends, or Upper Deck Legends, set was issued several times during the late 90s and early 2000s.  The 1999 release is my favorite for one simple reason: Awesome Autographs.  The base cards were nice enough and there are some other nice looking inserts, but the autographs in this set alone make it highly collectible.

1999 Upper Deck Century Legends Rickey Henderson

Again, the base cards are nice and you can see from the picture above, they have better photography than the Upper Deck Retro set.  Now, on to the autographs.  There were two types of autographs available in the set.  There were modern superstars and older player Hall of Famers.  For the most part.  Every set has a fluffy filler autograph you dread pulling which in this set is Don Larsen, not so bad, or Bucky Dent.  

1999 Upper Deck Century Legends Don Larsen Autograph

Get past those two autographs and the rest of the set is great.  I think I actually own 75% of the autograph set, maybe more, and rarely part with one.  I have a clear favorite autograph card which you can view in a moment, but I am going to post my favorite three modern autographs I own from the set and my three favorite Hall of Fame autographs I own from the set.  In no order.  

Modern Autographs:

1999 Upper Deck Century Legends Tony Gwynn Autograph

Tony Gwynn flys under the radar a lot of times on people's lists of great players from the modern era.  He was also, and still is, a great signer.  I love his autograph and he's pretty easy to find out on the secondary market.  I have several Gwynn on-card autographs, but really enjoy this one.  

1999 Upper Deck Century Legends Juan Gonzalez Autograph 

Juan Gone is a little bit trickier to find than Tony Gwynn, but I also love his signature.  In the late nineties Gonzalez signed for several sets and had lots of on-card signatures.  As his career deteriorated he signed more cards, but they tend to be stickers and feature him playing for the Royals.  Yuck.  

1999 Upper Deck Century Legends Ken Griffey Jr. Autograph

My personal modern favorite from the set and favorite autograph by a Griffey in my card collection.  Ken Griffey Jr. has one of the best signatures in all of baseball and I love the way it looks on this card.  I am not big on the fact that he signed his name over the little crest in the corner, but beggers can't be choosers.  Awesome card.  

HOF Autographs 

1999 Upper Deck Century Legends Carlton Fisk Autograph

If I owned a Harmon Killebrew I would have put it here instead, but that's one of the 25% of the set I am missing.  I own a 2000 Upper Deck Legends Killebrew which is nice, but I would love this one.  Now, Carlton Fisk.  Again, the best autograph of this player that is in my collection.  I love on most of the Hall of Fame players how Upper Deck put a sepia picture instead of the color photograph.  

1999 Upper Deck Century Legends Eddie Mathews Autograph

Eddie Mathews died at the start of the autographed card boom in the mid to late 1990s.  He does have a few certified autographs floating around out there, but this is my only Mathews autograph.  Great signature still, and even though I do love the old fashioned pictures, I like the 70s Braves hat.  Which leads us to what everyone saw coming:

1999 Upper Deck Century Legends San Musial Autograph

I own several and pick them up when I see them in great condition with a good signature.  Musial is getting up in years and his signature has really regressed.  This is an awesome card and can be found with the classic Stan Musial autograph on it.  In the past thirteen years I have traded one copy, it was for an overwhelming return which was sold and reinvested into more Musials, and rank this card as one of my personal favorites in my collection.  

Like the 1999 Upper Deck Century Legends set?  Not in my Top 50 Countdown is the Upper Deck A Piece of History 500 Home Run set.  This multi-year set started up in the late 90s and much to Upper Deck's credit, continued every time a player crossed the 500 Home Run marker.  Really tough to find and really expensive, my collection is home to approximately two of these cards.  

Upper Deck A Piece of History Ken Griffey Jr. 500 Club 

This is the best card from the set that I own.  I know, life is rough, but they rarely come up on secondary market websites and when they do you have to be willing to pay a premium in trade or money.  
Upper Deck A Piece of History Frank Thomas 500 Club 

I also own the Frank Thomas card.  While it is a cool card to have in my collection I wish Upper Deck had taken a little artistic license and put Thomas in a White Sox uniform.  After all, weren't 480 of his home runs hit as a White Sox?  The Gary Sheffield card is like this too.  He is a Met on his card.  

1999 SP Signature Todd Stottlemyre Autograph

The quest for Cardinals autographs is never ending.  I always prefer the certified variety of autographs over the in-person autographs, but sometimes they are difficult to find.  There are of course some players that do not have any certified autographs and another set that have a limited quantity.  My card this morning is a perfect example of the later.  In his fourteen year career, Todd Stottlemyre pitched on several different teams including the Cardinals, but more significantly was a part of three World Series winning teams.  Two with the Blue Jays and again in 2001 with the Diamondbacks.

1999 SP Signature Todd Stottlemyre Autograph

Stottlemyre has exactly one certified autograph and you are looking at it with this 1999 SP Signature card.  I have had my eyes open for the card for a long time, but they rarely come up and can be tricky to grab when they are available.  Really happy this card has a new home in my collection.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

30 Year Top 50: 1998 Upper Deck Retro

#29- Today, the countdown continues with a trendsetting set of the late 90s.  Several card companies had dabbled with bringing Hall of Famers from the 50s, 60s, and 70s to modern cardboard, but this set kicked off something special that would allow modern collectors access to cards of the previous generations stars.  Before I start breaking down the set I just wanted to mention the packaging.  The boxes for these cards were old school metal lunch boxes.  In my several moves since 1998, I do not have mine anymore, but I encourage you to look around and find one.  Really cool.

1998 Upper Deck Retro Al Kaline

Upper Deck always had some good photography and decent designs with their cards.  The Upper Deck Retro set isn't the flashiest or shiniest designed card set they've assembled, but I like the basic design given the premise of this set being a "retro" set.  The photographs are not all up to the usual Upper Deck standards.  For example, I have always hated the Lou Brock card in this set.  Upper Deck has made hundreds of Lou Brock cards with a decent photo.  Why is he in a celebrity softball game or something with a goofy white hat?  

1998 Upper Deck Retro Lou Brock

The set also has some cool inserts and great autographs.  The autographs are all on card, but are condition sensitive.  Similar to the Upper Deck Sweet Spot autographs, the Retro autographs have a slight tendency to fade.  I own two autographs from this set and unfortunately both are on there way downhill.  The first, Nolan Ryan, isn't bad since I can find other autographed cards.

1998 Upper Deck Retro Nolan Ryan Autograph

More unfortunate is the condition of my second autograph from the set which belongs to Kirby Puckett.  Puckett was not a huge signer and has few autographs out on the secondary market.  He also passed away in 2006 after being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  

1998 Upper Deck Retro Kirby Puckett Autograph

Most Puckett autographs from this set have some degree of fading which is quite sad.  Beyond the Ryan and Puckett there are actually a lot of great autographs in this card set.  Many of the autographs can be found in other products, but the condition sensitivity makes them a great collecting challenge.  

Like the 1998 Upper Deck Retro Set?  Not in my Top 50 is the 2001 Upper Deck 70s set.  This set is filled with big hair and polyester.  The base cards have a similar simple design like the Upper Deck Retro set, but photography might be a little bit better.  There are also fewer autographs, but these are still great cards worth looking into for your collection.  

2001 Upper Deck 70s Andre Dawson

I was thinking of putting a Bellbottoms insert card in this space, but I am going to go with this Disco Dandies set.  The inserts are one of the coolest parts of the Upper Deck 70s set and can all be found generally for under five dollars.  

2001 Upper Deck 70s Disco Era Dandies Tom Seaver

There are autographs in this set, but the list is short and the relics checklist is much longer.  There are some cool relics out there though.  

2001 Upper Deck 70s Eddie Murray Bat 

2012 Topps Debut Side By Side Matt Adams/Jordan Swagerty Autographs

There are slightly less than two million people living in the Raleigh-Durham metropolitan area.  There are advertised card shops in the area, but the few around the area are overwhelmingly loaded with cool basketball cards and memorabilia, but lack baseball cards outside of the token Josh Hamilton (local guy) shrine located inside of one display case.  The Hamilton cards are often surrounded by a few Jeter cards and maybe a few Chipper Jones cards.  Always a little disappointing.

In fact, a few months ago when my blog first started I took a road trip to St. Louis and visited several of my old baseball card haunts.  A week later, a fellow collector told me about an upcoming business trip to Durham.  He asked about the card shops and I asked him which ACC basketball team was his favorite.  Nothing here worth seeing.  Now, a few weeks ago I was driving on a major thoroughfare through Raleigh when I spotted a sign for a baseball card shop.  I was intrigued.

I had a little bit of time this weekend, so I ventured down that same street and stopped by the card shop.  I almost didn't go in when I saw the outside of the store was covered in a window painting of a Jeff Gordon car and had NASCAR number decals across the top of the window.  I stopped in the parking lot and contemplated getting back in my car, but went ahead and entered the shop.

Not much happening here.  There were boxes of commons.  Wax packs of 1990 Score.  There were a few display cases of single cards.  The highlight of the baseball section was a Mo Vaughn jersey card.  I thought about buying it and putting it on this page as my Raleigh baseball card shop trophy, but I kept looking.  Finally, I found some newer wax.  Selection limited.  Mixed into the middle of the "new" wax packs was a box of Upper Deck Power Deck.  CD ROM baseball cards.  Hmmm.

I finally settled on the "new" release of Topps Debut.  Not really encouraged and doubtful of ever returning I took my box of cards and returned home to open packs.  My first hit was a Drew Hutchison autograph.  Not great.

2012 Topps Pro Debut Drew Hutchison

I kept opening packs and enjoyed seeing some of the minor leaguers I get to watch during the summer. My favorite base card I pulled was a Chris Archer.  The Durham Bulls pitcher will likely be in Tampa next year and is worth checking out.  He has several autographs and a few relic cards too which can all be found for less than $10. 

2012 Topps Pro Debut Chris Archer

My best card I pulled out of my box was particularly exciting.  I have a lot of cool Cardinals cards from 2012 releases, but I haven't pulled anything great out of packs myself.  One of the downfalls of not having a cool local card shop.  So, here's my pull:

2012 Topps Pro Debut Side by Side Matt Adams/Jordan Swagerty Autograph 

I was really happy to see this card and am happy that I picked up a box of this "new" release.  I am still not going back to my new card shop. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

2006 Topps 52 Edward Mujica Autograph

A minor addition to my collection was made this past week in the form of this cool 2006 Topps 52 Edward Mujica card.  I picked up this card off of Ebay for less than $2.00.

2006 Topps 52 Edward Mujica Autograph

While this card is not the most exciting or expensive card, I was happy to add this card given the performance of Mujica after his trade to the Cardinals this past summer.  Mujica pitched in 29 games for the Cardinals this summer and had 21 strikeouts to 3 walks, along with an ERA of 1.03 and a WHIP of 0.87.  He frequently pitched the seventh inning in front of Mitchell Boggs in the eighth and Jason Motte in the ninth.  As you can imagine, the market for Mujica cards is extremely limited.  This card is his only certified autograph and since he has now appeared for the Cardinals, a must have for my card collection.  

If you are looking for another sweet Mujica card I would highly recommend the 2012 Topps Update card.  Great job by Topps of getting a Mujica card into the set and an even better job on the photo with the powder blue 80s Cardinals uniform.

2012 Topps Update Sparkle Edward Mujica 

30 Year Top 50: 1997 Pinnacle Certified

#30-I've noticed a lot of people raving about their collection of "rainbows" recently.  A rainbow is the complete run of a card and all of its colored parallels.  For example, this is a complete rainbow set of a Bowman Ryan Tatusko card.  While the popularity of collecting a complete set of a cards parallels is very popular at the moment, it is hardly a new concept.  Several of the Pinnacle and Fleer products of the mid to late 90's also thrived by offering collectors a chance to complete a "rainbow" of cards from their favorite players.

In my opinion, the 1997 Pinnacle Certified set was the best of the bunch.  There are other issues of this set and there are similar sets, but I have always has an affinity for this one above all the others.  In all honesty, the Pinnacle Certified Rainbow was also a little simpler to collect to collect and had a better overall appearance and design then many of the rainbows sets of today.

The rainbow in the Pinnacle Certified set started with the base cards.  Sorry, no autographs or relics.  The design of the Pinnacle Certified set was very typical of 90s Pinnacle sets.  They added a clear protective sheet over the top of the cards which takes away a little bit from it's appeal, but looking around at other late 90s card releases, you can find several other examples of this being done.

1997 Pinnacle Certified Ray Lankford

In addition to the base set, Pinnacle issued three different colored parallel cards with a Mirror and Platinum version, or serial numbered and non-serial numbered issue.  The three colored parallels were Red, Blue, and Gold with red being the easiest to find and gold being the most difficult.  The non-serial numbered parallel of the base cards have the same picture as the base card and are labeled as a "Mirror" card on the back.  The Gold Version was limited to 30 copies.  

1997 Pinnacle Certified Red Ray Lankford 

1997 Pinnacle Certified Blue Ray Lankford

1997 Pinnacle Certified Gold Ray Lankford

The serial numbered versions of the cards varied by the color.  The Red Platinum was the most common at a print run of /3999.  The Blue Platinum print run was /1999.  Both are pretty common by today's standards, but in 1997 it was somewhat challenging.  Also notice that to the picture has changed and the card has the appearance of texture commonly found on Pinnacle issues.  

1997 Pinnacle Certified Red Platinum Ray Lankford

1997 Pinnacle Certified Blue Platinum Ray Lankford

If you are into the Topps Finest or Bowman rainbows a venture into the 1997 Pinnacle Certified set is well worth your time.  The Blue, Red, Blue Platinum, and Red Platinum cards are not a difficult find and can be yours for often a few dollars.  Even the Gold Cards aren't difficult to find.  Currently, Ebay has more than 300 for sale with the price ranging from $7.99 for a Ray Montgomery or Jay Buhner card to $999.99 for a Jeter Graded at a 9 or a Bernie Williams graded at a 10.  Really fun set to collect. 

Like the 1997 Pinnacle Certified Set?  Not in my Top 50 is the 1999 Fleer Brilliants set.  Similar to the Pinnacle Certified in style and appearance, the Fleer Brilliants set was a simple, no autographs or relics, set that offered collectors a chance to put together a set of colored parallel cards for each player.  Here's a non-Lankford look at the parallels.  The base first:

1999 Fleer Brilliants Johnny Damon 

The base set in the Fleer Brilliants set had three parallels.  One of the parallels, Blue, was not serial numbered.  The other two Gold and 24K Gold were both serial numbered, but were far harder to find then the parallels in the Pinnacle Certified set.  The Gold is numbered to 99 and the 24K Gold is numbered to 24.  Both are pretty challenging to find.  Here's a glimpse at the parallels:

1999 Fleer Brilliants Blue Pat Burrell

1999 Fleer Brilliants Gold Rusty Greer 

1999 Fleer Brilliants 24K Gold Roberto Alomar 

Monday, November 19, 2012

2012 Topps Heritage Minor League Oscar Taveras Jersey Card

One of my highlights of 2012 baseball card season has been the release of Oscar Taveras cards.  I knew enough about the Cardinals farm system before the season to know that he was the top prospect in the system, but I hadn't taken time to watch him play or check out a scouting report on him.  Part of being a smart collector is knowing what minor leaguers to find cards for and what players to pass up.  When the year began I noticed he popped up on the Bowman checklist and was able to snag a nice on card autograph of the AA outfielder.

2012 Bowman Oscar Taveras Autograph

Taveras ended up having a nice summer playing for the Springfield Cardinals in the Texas League.  The Texas League tends to be more pitcher friendly, so the fact that he hit bodes well for the outfielder's future.  He even ended up making an appearance in the Futures Games this summer in Kansas City.  Of course, by the middle of summer his cards took off and were a little bit steep.  

Not that I won't invest in a nice card of a young player, but I am not going to go overboard on a high end minor league autograph, relic, or rookie card.  September passed and rumors surfaced that the Cardinals might call Taveras up for the stretch run and playoffs.  He stayed off the roster and his cards have cooled a bit.  I am not going to saw they are completely sane, but they are much better than this summer.

2012 Topps Heritage Minor League Oscar Taveras Jersey Card

The slight downtick has really helped me with being able to trade or buy some of the parallels and inserts that Taveras had in some of the Bowman releases and Topps Debut.  I acquired this card for a pair Topps Update All-Star Jersey Cards.  The card can be found in secondary market sites selling anywhere between $7 to $20 for the white border, or $30 to $50 for the black border, or triple digits for the autographed version.  For the moment I am happy with what I have, but will keep my eyes open for the the right price.  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

30 Year Top 50: 1987 Donruss

#31- I will have the 1987 calendar year of major baseball card releases covered after this post.  The year was great for rookie cards which I always think ultimately drive a set's significance over time.  Other factors such as innovation, style, and design can also factor in, but the 1987 Donruss set lacks all of those factors.  The 1987 Donruss set offers many of the usual suspects of rookie cards from that year including Barry Larkin, Palmeiro, Will Clark, Wally Joyner, and Barry Bonds.

1987 Donruss Barry Bonds

Many of those other same players also appear in the Fleer and Topps releases, but I think that this set has two major advantages over the other releases.  First, this set was the of the last dark bordered sets produced by a major card company before the arrival of Upper Deck in 1989.  Upper Deck forced the other card companies to elevate the quality by changing their card stock and cutting methods.  The cards looked great, but it also eliminated some of the imperfections collectors would run into with older sets.  Especially older sets with darker borders.  The second reason:

1987 Donruss Greg Maddux

The inclusion of a Greg Maddux rookie.  Maddux also appeared in the 1987 Topps Update release, but this card is frequently considered the Gold Standard for his rookie cards.  Maddux is a sure fire first ballot Hall of Famer, but he can fly under the radar at times with his baseball cards.  This card isn't a hard find and raw copies of the card will only cost collectors a few dollars, but finding one with a high PSA grade will cost you over $50.  

Like the 1987 Donruss Set?  Not in my Top 50 countdown is the 1985 Donruss set.  Similar to the 1987 set, the 85 release is filled with important rookies and also features a dark border that can be condition sensitive.  Finding raw copies of the set and singles is not difficult and generally is inexpensive.  

1985 Donruss Eric Davis

The Eric Davis cars above is one of his three rookie cards released in 1985, however the stars of the 1985 Donruss set are Roger Clemens and Kirby Puckett.  The Clemens card is the better of the two cards, but has been set back in recent years due to the linkage of his career to the use of steroids.  

1985 Donruss Roger Clemens

The other important rookie card is the Kirby Puckett rookie.  Puckett had his career cut short due to injuries and glaucoma, but was still elected to the Hall of Fame.  This is my least favorite of his rookies, but still proudly own a few copies.  

1985 Donruss Kirby Puckett 

Trade with Los Angeles Inspiration

I worked out a trade last weekend with a new partner over at the blog Los Angeles Inspiration.  If you haven't checked it out yet, it does a really great job of covering all things sports around Los Angeles.  Baseball, Basketball, Hockey, and College Sports too.  Jesse, the writer of the blog, also does a lot with card collecting and autographs.  Last week he was asking about a Mike Stanton autograph I had picked up a week ago and we were able to iron out a trade.

Jesse had a huge trade list to work from and I was able to fill out some holes in my Cardinals autographs for the year, as well as picking up a few extra cards.  My favorite two Cardinals cards I picked up were a Bowman Platinum Matt Adams autographed jersey card and an Allen & Ginter Allen Craig autograph.

2012 Bowman Platinum Matt Adams Jersey/Autograph

2012 Topps Allen & Ginter Allen Craig Autograph

I also picked up a 2010 Allen & Ginter B.J. Upton autograph I needed for my Rays collection.  While I am aware that there is little to no chance Upton returns to the Rays next season, he is still one of my all-time favorite Durham Bulls players.  

2010 Topps Allen & Ginter B.J. Upton Autograph

I also picked up a Jon Jay autograph from the Gypsy Queen set, a Topps Chrome Darwin Darney autograph, and a Brandon Phillips jersey relic from this years Allen & Ginter.  Jesse also threw in a stack of Cardinals cards with some nice cards in the mix including a cool looking Scott Rolen insert from the 2005 Zenith set and a couple Jason Motte's.  

2012 Topps Gypsy Queen Jon Jay Autograph

2010 Topps Chrome Darwin Barney Autograph

2012 Topps Allen & Ginter Brandon Phillips Jersey

A few Mottes and a cool Rolen