Wednesday, February 26, 2014

2014 Topps Stan Musial Rookie Class Ring

Two Stan Musial cards in a week is a pretty good week.  This is the third Class Ring card that I have picked up from the 2014 Topps set.  My first two cards were Rickey Henderson and Randy Johnson.  These good looking manu cards are not as expensive as they have been in the past and, in my opinion, look really cool. 

This card features a cool silver ring featuring the year 1942 for Musial's rookie year which was also a World Championship year for the Cardinals.  I am not sure I am going to add anymore of the Class Ring cards for the time being.  My next challenge is going to be to add a few of the Rookie Cup cards.  Maybe Ozzie and Pujols?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Lankford Plate! A Lankford Plate!

I have been waiting for this day for a few years.  Back in 2002 I saw three Ray Lankford printing plates in one Ebay auction and lost them at the last minute.  Two of the three were Padres cards, but I just wanted to own one Ray Lankford printing plate.  Really, this is the way printing plates should work.  Back in the day printing plates were tough pulls.  There were not cyan and magenta and black plates.  Just plain printing plates.  Take a stroll around Ebay and you can find several printing plates from the late 90s for sale, or that have sold, but they are more true 1/1 cards than the printing plates put out by card companies today. 

I literally have hundreds of really good Ray Lankford cards.  Short prints, photo proofs from the pictures on the cards, autographs, relics, a game used bat, etc.  No plate, until today....

This plate comes from the 1997 New Pinnacle set.  That set was one of many run of the mill Pinnacle sets from the era which ultimately led to the demise of the company.  If you are looking at the card and thinking that something looks strange, well....This card is actually the plate for the back of the card.  While printing plates in most products today come with a front picture in several colors, the older plates came in one color with a front and back.  The cool thing about this card is the fact that it has a little COA on the back of the card....

Pretty sweet card, even if it's the back.  I picked this card up in a trade on Twitter this past week, but also had a few other cards coming back my way in exchange for a nice Shelby Miller Futures Game relic and autograph.  Here are my other cards:

 1999 Upper Deck Ultimate Victory Foil
I also did not have this Lankford card.  The Upper Deck Victory set was a kid friendly, $1 a pack, set from the late 90s.  In 1999 Upper Deck tried to spruce the set up a pinch by issuing the Ultimate Victory version of the cards.  Think Topps and Topps Chrome.  The set was driven for awhile by a cool Rick Ankiel rookie card, but after Ankiel's pitching career faded the set died down in popularity and price.  The Foil versions of the Ultimate Victory set are pretty sharp.  Happy with this addition. 

I also picked up a lot of 11 mini cards from the 2014 Topps 1989 Die Cut minis set.  Working on putting this set together slowly, so this lot will help plug a bunch of the holes.  Overall, a great trade and a few awesome additions to the collection.  

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Stan the Man

Not much to say here, just a great card.  It has been awhile since I have added a Stan card to the collection.  This now complete my set of the Limited Cuts Signatures for the Cardinals.  I also own the Lou Brock and the Bob Gibson.  Enjoy!

Super Teams, Super Set

I am working on my 2002 sets this weekend and have found some great cards in the process.  One of my favorite sets from that year was the Topps Super Teams set.  The concept behind the set was simple: Ten World Series winners with their starting line-up, manager, and a team card.  Throw in a few autographs and stadium relics and you have got one cool set.  I was never sure why Topps did not put this set out beyond the initial offering.  Perhaps having a set limited to just ten teams limited the sales?  Just throwing that out, not really sure, but I probably would have bought this product with or without the 1967 Cardinals.

It's a cool set to assemble for set builders, whether you are a whole set person or team set.  Both cool.  Here's a quick look at the ten teams featured in the Super Teams set:

1954 New York Giants

1955 Brooklyn Dodgers

1957 Milwaukee Braves

1960 Pittsburgh Pirates

1961 Yankees

1967 St. Louis Cardinals

1969 New York Mets

1970 Baltimore Orioles

1974 Oakland Athletics 

1986 New York Mets

The set also had a great set of autographs and relics.  The relic cards in the set were all stadium seats from different places including Forbes Field in Pittsburgh and County Stadium in Milwaukee.  For me, I really like the autographs in the set.  The autographs are all on-card signatures, but come as either just a plain signature card or an autographed relic card.  Here's a look at the Gibson autographed relic card:

I am sure that Topps has there reasons for making sets and not making sets, but again, this was always one of my favorite sets from the early 2000s and I am not sure why they did not continue this set past 2002.  It would have been cool to go through and pick out a few World Series winners each year and put them on cardboard.  For what it's worth, the single cards in this set are pretty popular with collectors as well as the autographs and relics.  

Saturday, February 22, 2014

2002 Upper Deck Ovation Set

I spent my afternoon sorting out a few 2002 baseball card sets.  This all part of my reorganization project which seems to be taking forever.  The scene looked something like this:

My wife was pretty nervous our three year old was going to attack the coffee table underneath all of these cards, but he did a great job of respecting the cards and practiced his yoga/gymnastics off to the side (note purple yoga mat).  So, I now have about 38 to 39 sets to put together.  I am not sure if I am close enough to assemble the Archives Reserve (aka Archives Chrome set).  If I am missing too many cards I will break it apart and use it as some trade bait.

I sorted out one of the sets, a short one, and here's my quick take on the 2002 Upper Deck Ovation set:

The Ovation set was first put out by Upper Deck in 1998 with the primary feature being the cards being a pair of embossed baseball seems that ran on all of the other Ovation sets until this one.  This was the last Ovation set that Upper Deck put out and truthfully, was probably one too many.  Fair warning for the collectors who see these boxes really cheap on Ebay.  There is a really good reason they are inexpensive.

First, the set design got pretty stale fast.  In 1998 two embossed baseball seams was cool.  1999 and 2000 too.  2001 Upper Deck changed it to a single baseball seam on a puffy baseball which took up half the card.  By 2002 the company switched up the design and embossed the team logo with some sort of greenish/grey color scheme in the background.  Meh.  Upper Deck really banked on a few other factors selling this set beyond the base set of cards.  This set had one major attraction and maybe a few minor ones too.

This was the first product which featured a bevy of Mark McGwire autographs.  Before the 2002 Upper Deck Ovation set the only place to find a Mark McGwire certified autograph was in the popular Mother's Cookie Set.  I know some people walk around and say, "but I have a copy of his 1998 Upper Deck card signed."  Upper Deck had McGwire sign autographs for the Ovation set, but he also signed a very small amount of his previous Upper Deck cards.  The autographs in this set were seeded similarly to the SP Authentic boxes at the time with a line of autographs made for the set and another set of buybacks.  The odds on the McGwire autographs were really really steep, but there were a few minor attractions in the set beyond McGwire autographs.

I know I just said that their were attractions beyond the McGwire autographs, but those even include more McGwire.  The Superstar Spotlights were a regular part of the Ovation sets, but the 2002 set featured a handful of players with three or four cards each which made up a timeline of the players career.  Pretty cool to see a young version of McGwire in an A's uniform or a younger Ken Griffey in a Mariners uniform.  Really cool idea and I honestly wish Upper Deck had made this part of this set bigger.  One more, Yankees fans cringe and turn away.

While Topps was busy airbrushing Jason Giambi into a Yankees uniform, Upper Deck actually had real photographs of the newly minted free agent in his new pinstriped uniform.  At the time these sets were released Upper Deck made a pretty big deal of having the first cards of the Giambino as a Yankee.  Unfortunately, Giambi really never lived up to the contract he signed with the Yankees.  To make up for the fact he is mentioned I will share his best moment in a Yankees uniform, in my opinion.

David Price and (shakes head) Raymond

I have already posted one of these cards last week with Cardinals first baseman/right fielder Allen Craig paired up with Fredbird.  I found a copy of the David Price/Raymond card last week on Ebay dirt cheap, so I decided to pick it up.  If it had cost more than a couple bucks I would have let this one go by....  David Price was one of my favorite all-time Durham Bulls, so it's hard to turn down his cards.  However, the inclusion of Raymond on this card is a little disappointing.  I believe most Major League teams have a mascot, but clearly not all of them are really that great.  Fredbird is okay.  Mariner Moose is a pretty cool one.  Why isn't the Phillie Fanatic in the set?  Or Billy the Marlin?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Reflections on a Die-Cut

The whole purpose of buying Pacific baseball cards back in the late 90s, or early 2000s, was to land some sweet insert cards.  The company dabbled in autographs and relics, but the insert market is where the company really made a name for itself.  In particular, they made some really great die-cut cards.  More than a decade after the company stopped making baseball cards, Topps is just starting to introduce some of the most basic die-cut concepts used by Pacific in making their inserts.

My latest Pacific die-cut pick-up is from one of the tougher pulls from the 2000 Pacific set.  The Reflections set was seeded at 1per 97 packs which is some long odds.  Basically one a case.  In fact, as a fan of Pacific die-cuts, I actually do not own one of these cards.   There is even a Cardinals card in the set, Mark McGwire, and Scott Rolen too.  He can be a Cardinal.  So, here's my first one...

Easily the worst card in the set, but I am still very happy to own this piece of cardboard.  The cards all have the same basic design substitute the logo behind the shades and the player reflected on the lens of the sunglasses.  The more expensive cards in the set generally seem to stay below $10 except for the Ken Griffey which sells for a pretty steep price ($25-$30).  I am going to have to pick up a few more of these this summer.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

2014 Topps Acetate Todd Helton

I have been keeping my eyes on the Acetate cards after landing my first copy of the new parallel set last week.  Kyle Lohse was a nice card, but I still figured I could probably do a little bit better.  My hopes were dashed a bit when players like Justin Upton had their cards reaching $80 or more.  There is an odd absence of Cardinals acetate cards floating around (Joe Kelly did cross $100) and the Rays cards have been ridiculous.  There is a copy of the Wil Myers card floating around for $125, but I am not going to pay that.  Apparently nobody else is either.

The Helton card caught my eye after it sat around $20 for a few days.  I was surprised, but I decided to follow the auction for the card on Ebay and was able to land this copy for $26.  Just as reference point, that's the same amount of money, or less, then the cards of Wily Peralta, Jim Adduci, Anthony Rizzo, Leonys Martin, and Dustin Ackley?

The card is just simply spectacular.  Really happy to land a parallel copy of the last Helton base card from Topps limited to just 10 copies for so little.  Here's the card:

The backs of the cards are cool too:

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

2002 Topps Heritage Set

I have been uber productive tonight with my baseball cards.  Sorting, filing, putting away cards, trading cards, mailing cards.  I have done it all.  The best part was I treated myself to sitting down and spending a little bit of time with one of my favorite sets from the not too distant past.  Here's my quick take on the 2002 Topps Heritage set.

The set was the second issue of the Topps Heritage line and was based on the 1953 Topps cards.  The base set copied the 53 version minus the old players.  The low numbered cards were generally the commons in the set, with a few scattered short prints.  Overall, I love the appearance of this set and the look of the cards.  

Of all the Heritage sets that Topps has put out since 2001, I have them all, this was the easiest one to assemble.  The short prints are the last 70-80 cards of the set, but there is not a real marquee rookie or veteran to make the set difficult.  You can generally find assembled copies of the set pretty cheap, compared to other Heritage sets, or you can find a few big lots and mix and match together a set.  Here's a look at the front and back of a short print:

Of course Topps threw in some other cards beyond the base set.  There are the normal inserts featured in Topps Heritage like the Now & Then set, Classic Renditions, etc.  There are some really good autographs in the set which all collectors should check out.  There is a Willie Mays.  It's expensive.  Everyone else is totally affordable, but solid.  The most expensive autographs past Mays are ARod, now less than $50, and Yogi Berra.  While Yogi Berra sounds like it might be expensive, they are relatively easy to find and often for right around $50-$60.  Also recommend Jim Edmonds, Red Schoendienst, and George Kell.  If you want solid, but affordable check into Brian Giles or Senor Triple.....


I also spend a lot of time harping on the variations in Topps cards, but the 2002 Heritage set actually has a pretty cool variation.  Note the previous sentence refers to the variation.  Singular.  The took all of the cards in the set and made a night version of the cards.  They look pretty cool.  

The night version cards are pretty inexpensive too and can be bought in big lots.  I do not have the whole set of night cards, but I have not really tried either.  I know several people who love the Heritage sets and were able to assemble the complete night version set.  

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

2014 Topps Randy Johnson Rookie Class Ring

I saw this card when the 2014 Topps cards first started to trickle out onto the secondary market and made it a priority to land.  I missed a few the first week, but landed one this past week for a little more than $5 shipped.  While it seems to some of these nice manu cards have slipped a little bit in price this year, I still think some of them are really sweet looking.  I like Randy Johnson, not a huge fan, but I definitely enjoyed watching him play.  Kind of cool to see him in an Expos uniform. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

This Year I am Excited To See...

I made a list over my winter vacation from school strategizing what players I wanted to check out this year in Durham.  The International League does not play a balanced schedule, so some of the players in the league only make one swing through town during the season.  If you miss them that one time, you might not ever get to see them at AAA again.  It's sort of an annual tradition for me and I rarely miss something whom I really want to see.

I decided to place the Rochester Red Wings at the top of my list this season.  The Red Wings are the Triple-A affiliate for the Minnesota Twins and they will be making one appearance in Durham towards the end of July.  The team will likely feature slugging third baseman Miguel Sano who is one the top power prospects in the minors.  They could possibly have Byron Buxton by that time too, but I do not think the Twins are in a hurry with him.  Since Buxton played in A ball last year, I would guess he would be in Double A a full season.

Anyway, I will end up checking out at least one of the Bulls games against the Red Wings and hopefully will get a good luck at Sano.  Last season Sano managed 35 home runs in the Eastern League in Double A.  He's recently made some bold prediction about his total for the coming season.  In the meantime, I went after my first autograph of the Twins future third baseman.  He has a few out on the market, but I managed to pick up a nice copy of his 2010 Bowman Platinum card.

Sano's rookie cards are all 2010 issues with several being autographed.  This card and his Bowman autograph are both on-card signatures.  Sano cards can be a little bit pricey, but if you are patient on an auction, you can find one for right around $30.  If you are willing to pick up a newer Sano autograph you can find them for less than $20.  I figure he's a pretty good bet to make the Majors and be an everyday at this point, so I am willing to take the gamble on owning his autograph.  Hopefully he will still be in Rochester in July and has a good run of years ahead of him in Minnesota.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

2004 Donruss Timelines Eric Davis Autograph

Added a new Cardinals autograph to my collection earlier this week.  I had plenty of time after getting snowed in for half of a week.  I am sure that most people do not remember Eric Davis as a Cardinal, but he did make a brief appearance for the team in 1999 and 2000.  He was mainly a fourth outfielder on the team playing behind Jim Edmonds, JD Drew, and Ray Lankford.  The best years of his career were spent on the Reds and Orioles.  I always put Davis on the Reds.   

The new autograph comes from the 2004 Donruss Timelines set.  This was a pretty high end product at the time with lots of good autographs, but most of them are on stickers.  If you look around you can find some cool buybacks of some 80s players in the set.  I have a cool Carney Lansford.  If you are not old enough to remember Eric Davis.....

His best season, in my opinion was in 1987 when he posted 37 home runs, 50 steals, and an OPS of .991.  He was Mike Trout before Mike Trout.  He also had a season with 27 home runs with 80 steals.  Davis was also on the 1990 Reds team which beat the heavily favored A's in the World Series.  Davis set the tone for the series in Game 1 with this home run.  Truly a unique talent who probably did not get his due at the time.  His highest MVP finished through all of these seasons was 9th.  And people complain about trout finishing second.  

Davis had some missable seasons with the Dodgers and Tigers before bouncing back for a season with the Reds and a pair of good seasons for the Orioles.  His time in Baltimore was cut short after he was diagnosed with colon cancer.  He wrote a book about the experience.  After being treated for cancer he finished out the 1998 season with the Orioles and then spent the rest of his career with the Cardinals and Giants as a reserve.  

Friday, February 14, 2014

Five 2000 Topps Sets later....

I need to do a comprehensive post again about my reorganization project I have been working on for the past year.  It just keeps going and going.  This week I was snowed in my house and tackled my stack of 2000 Topps cards.  It was a pretty big stack. 

They are not even all in the picture.  Basically, I have been breaking my boxes, sorted by team, into sets of cards.  Some sets I might have gone overboard.  Slightly.  I really liked the Hank Aaron reprints in this set, but at some point should have just bought the insert set and stopped opening packs.  I broke several giant stacks of cards down into the sets. 

Five sets later I decided it was time to stop.  I still have a big stack of cards from this set, but it is less than 80% of the 470 cards needed to complete the set.  I am taking all of the leftover singles and putting them in with the rest of my dupes which I am using as trade bait.  I am also going to start selling them in player lots.  Some of them are pretty pick lots of cards.  Anyway, if you are not familiar with the 2000 Topps set here's my quick run down.  

2000 Topps Cal Ripken

The base set is your usually Topps base set.  The 2000 set is a little bit smaller than most of the Topps sets at only 479 cards plus a Mark McGwire reprint.  Topps went through a phase in the late 90s were they put out a few smaller base sets.  This set was the last of the little base sets.  The 2001 Topps set is 792 I believe.  Inside and outside of the base set there are a few things to like about this set. 

2000 Topps Mark McGwire 1985 Topps Reprint

I really liked the Mark McGwire rookie reprint.  Yes, I like the Cardinals.  This set was issued before Topps had any of the Archives or Fan Favorites lines and this was a singular reprint.  Topps had done reprints with Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron in this set.  What's one more reprint?  Besides, many collectors actually count this as the last card in the set and Topps did short-print this card.  Although, I always seem to remember landing more than a few of these.  My stack of dupes agrees. 

I also really liked these 20th Century Best subset cards which showed the active Major League leader in a particular category.  Check out Frank Thomas and his OBP.  Pretty cool that Topps threw this card into the 2000 Topps set.  I wonder if Billy Beane helped design the set?  There are also sparkly versions of these cards that are serial numbered and cost $4 on Ebay instead of $0.50.  Worth a look around. 

Outside of the base set I had two inserts I really liked from this set (three, but you've all seen a Hank Aaron card-imagine it reprinted).  The Topps Combos insert was ten cards that looked a lot like the art work Topps had been using in their Topps Gallery Heritage Sets.  Only these cards had combinations of players instead of a singular player.  Always really liked this Pedro and Big Unit card.  Pedro might be too tall, or is Randy Johnson too short?  Something is off, but I still love it. 

I am not sure what happened here with the scan, but this card is really cool.  If I wasn't working tomorrow I would rescan it.  School on Saturdays is fun.  Anyway, this set is die-cut and focuses on really good defensive players.  Some different names in here and the cards are die-cut.  That's always fun.  

The Snorting Bull 3rd Anniversary Giveaway

The first two years my blog was around I did a bunch of contests.  Giveaways are a little bit easier, so I am going to do a giveaway each of the next three weekends to thank my readers for following along with my blog and talking cards with me on the internet.  I love taking a few minutes each day to type up the new cards coming into my collection, as well as sharing my thoughts and opinions about the card hobby, as well as the game of baseball.  Here are the details. 

All three giveaways will take place on my Twitter page, one each of the next three weekends. Schedule below:

Giveaway Number 1-Rays/Durham Bulls Theme
Starts: Friday February 14th, 2014
Ends: 5 PM EST on Sunday February 16th, 2014

Giveaway Number 2-Cardinals Theme
Starts: Friday February 21st, 2014
Ends: 5 PM EST on Sunday February 23rd, 2014

Giveaway Number 3-College Baseball
Starts: Friday February 28th, 2014
Ends: 5 PM EST on Sunday March 2nd, 2014

To enter the contest simply retweet and follow my Twitter page. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Acetate Awesomeness

There are several new parallels in the 2014 Topps set.  It's easy to get pulled in too many directions at the beginning of the baseball card season, but I quickly decided that adding a copy of one of the Acetate parallels was a priority.  The cards are numbered to just 10 printed copies and they are very popular.  Both factors has made the cards very pricey.  Add in the fact that there have been few Cardinals or Rays available on Ebay, or other trade and secondary market sites, and I had to really look to find a copy of one of these cards. 

Luckily I had a few Ebay bucks, also won a dispute against a seller who never sent me a card, and I had enough to place a bid on a copy of a former Cardinals pitcher and member of the 2011 World Series team. 

2013 Topps Acetate Kyle Lohse 10/10

The picture does not even do this card justice.  It's easily one of the best parallels that Topps has ever come up with.  I am not sure what rainbow collectors are going to do with these, but I they can have all of the pink and red and black cards if I can find a few more of these.  Even the backs of the cards are cool. 

In many ways these cards remind me a lot of the original EX cards that Fleer put out in the late 90s.  In particular the 1997 set.  The 1998 and 1999 were more transparent than translucent.  Normally I just scan the cards and do not post pictures holding cards or quick pictures using my camera, but it's the best way to show off a little more of this card. 

You can see the light going through the card when it is held up upside the scanner.  Very impressive card overall and I will definitely be finding a few more of these cards this year.  Hopefully I can manage a few Cardinals or Rays.  

Snowpocalypse Post 1-Mizzou Basketball Cards

When it snows in North Carolina you get stuck inside.  When you get stuck inside you get bored.  When you get bored you start cleaning stuff.  When you start cleaning stuff you find oddball stuff in your collection.  Mizzou Basketball cards from 1990-1991 are a good oddball find.  This is not a complete set, but let's run through the list ranking the players by quality. 

Jed Frost?  Who?  The back says he was a walk-on and the picture shows him running fast while the other player in the background looks like he is barely running.  Was 90210 on the air in 1991?  That air looks like something Luke Perry.  Jed is now a premier handbag maker.  Seriously.  

I vaguely remember this guy shot Mizzou out of a few games.  If your a left-handed outside shooter your supposed to be good.  This guy is now a basketball coach and he uses Norm Stewart and Roy Williams as references.  Danny Ainge too.  

I am at a loss here.  Cool Reebok pump shoes.  If this guy had gone to middle school in 1991 he would have been pretty cool.  

I remember this guy came off the bench, but I cannot tell you much more then that.  He's not wearing the cool Reebok pumps.  Jamal might have had some problems with the bookstore.  

Pretty good center for Mizzou.  I think he had some pretty good battles with Ostertag.  If this guy weighed 100 pounds more he would have made a better goony NBA center than the O.  On to the important players...

Lamont Frazier started for a few years at Mizzou.  His cousin Ricky Frazier also played at Mizzou.  Both were from a small town in southeastern Missouri.  The town, Charleston, was one of the really good high school programs at the time and the Fraziers were legendary in that part of the state.  There were all sorts of people I went to college with who played against the Fraziers.  Pretty funny stuff.  Lamont also played for the football team while he was in grad school.  He coached Poplar Bluff for a few years and now coaches at Willard High School in Willard, Missouri.  Never played in the NBA, but a nice player who could do a lot of different things.  

Jevon Crudup was a really good interior player at Mizzou.  He was drafted by the Pistons, but I do not think he actually ever played a game for them.  He did take money from an agent and got a whole bunch of wins thrown out after he left school. 

Now we are to someone important.  Some people may not remember Melvin Booker, but he was a really good college basketball player.  He played a few games here and there in the NBA, had a long career playing in Italy, but was just a really good college basketball player.  His best accomplishment at Mizzou  was helping the 1993 team to an undefeated Big 8 title.  It was the last year the Big 8 was around and I believe it was the only time a team ever ran the table with a perfect record. Hit the game winning shot in the last regular season game.   

Booker's son is actually a highly recruited shooting guard and will be playing for Kentucky next year.