Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ray Lankford From The Vault Part 1

I have done several posts about the Topps Vault before in the past, but this week I have two really awesome items to post.  I am not sure whether these are my favorite two items I have ever picked up from the Ebay Store run by Topps, but if they are not they are really high on the list.  Obviously I have never really posted about items that I have lost on the Topps Vault, but I have missed out before on a few cool Cardinals items here and there over the years.  However, I have never seen an item posted of my favorite 1990s Cardinals player Ray Lankford.

This past week so that change when the Vault listed two Lankford items.  I was worried that I would miss out on the items.  One of the last rare Lankford items I needed for my collection, a 1998 Donruss Red Crusade card sold for almost $200 last night, so I was anticipating something crazy with the items last week.  As much as I love collecting Ray Lankford cards I have a price point at which I will walk away.   In this case my fears about the items becoming overly expensive never really became a reality and I paid less than $25 for both items including shipping.  Tonight is the lesser of the cool items.  Here is my new Ray Lankford card......

This card is in a sealed snap down case and is a 1/1 card.  If I am understand the card manufacturing process correctly this card serves as sort of a proof in the pre-production process.  The back is on another card which has not been offered for auction yet, I think, but Topps does have card backs floating around on the Ebay store from time to time.  I like Lankford's 1994 card.  It's not the best card design, it's not the worst either, but I like that the card features an action photo of Ray running the bases in Wrigley Field.

Let's take a look at the back of the item......

Again, the back is blank, but you can see the hologram on the bottom right corner of the card.  The hologram matches a corresponding certificate that Topps mails out with all of the items they sell on the Topps Vault.  The certificate is shown below.  Kind of reminds me of a Merit Award they'd pass out in a Middle School......

Since most of the Lankford cards were issued before the proliferation of printing plates, this is as good as a 1/1 card for my player collection of the former Cardinals outfielder.  If you have not spent a little bit of time exploring the Topps Vault take a few minutes and flip through the items listed on the page.  Sure, some of the items are rare and expensive, but you never know when you will stumble across something unique and inexpensive for your collection.

Monday, September 28, 2015

A Rainy Saturday Afternoon Spent at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds Buying Cards From Men Behind Wooden Tables

Card shows are some of the coolest events that card collectors could possibly attend.  Yet, I have never written up a single card show on my blog.  In fact, I do not attend enough card shows.  They have them all the time at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, about a fifteen-twenty minute drive from my house, but I just never make it out to them.  I decided this weekend to change all of that and spend some time with a few other people who enjoy collecting cards.

Since I have never written up an appearance on at a card show on my blog I have also never shared my rules for attending a card show:

1. We always eat lunch/dinner before attending the card show
2. We have a cash budget and we stick to the budget
3. We never buy cards of the home team

So, I decided to toss the third rule since I no longer live in St. Louis and there is no home team in Raleigh.  We are all just a bunch of transplants from other cities.  Here's how I did on the other rules:

1.We always eat lunch/dinner before attending the card show

 I went out to lunch at the Cook Out in Cary.  It's a fast food restaurant that is loved by many in the south.  On this rainy Saturday I purchased the Cook Out Tray with a Hamburger "Cheddar Style", that's onions and melted cheese, fries, and a soda.  The picture of the "Cheddar Style" burger is below.

 It's delicious, but wise to pack some breath mints, or gum for afterwards.  Hand sanitizer with a strong scent is also good since the onion smell tends to stick on your hands.  Some complain about the smell of onions, so I think of the gum and scented hand sanitizer as more of a courtesy.  The Cook Out in Cary is alright, it's not as good as the Cook Out on Western Boulevard down the street from NC State, nor as good as the Cook Out in north Durham on Roxboro.  The north Durham location is my personal favorite.

 2. We have a cash budget and we stick to the budget

In this case I had right around $35.  There might have been a few extra ones floating around in my pocket after buying an attendance ticket at the Carr Building.  Here's what I got:

That's eight cards for $35-$40, or roughly about $5 a card.  Considering that included a cool Stan Musial Heritage relic, a Topps Heritage autograph, two Cardinals autographs, a Juan Gone autograph, a jumbo Lindor relic, and a sweet autograph of local Durham Bulls favorite Mikie Mahtook I am going to consider this a great day at the office.  It was also great to see a bunch of local collectors I have met over the past year or so hanging out at the local card shop.

Overall, a really fun afternoon and something I will go back to when the next card show hits Raleigh sometime in December.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


I picked up a really cool Jason Heyward card about two weeks ago and I have been dying to post it on here, but have not had the chance to do so yet.  I picked this card up off of Ebay, after being a little bit reluctant to do so at first, I think it is a really cool item.  Here's a look at the card....

This card was a giveaway from Topps during the National Card Convention this summer in Chicago.  I have seen plenty of Card Show/Card Convention exclusives and usually avoid them, but I love the Ginter set and was really intrigued by this one since it was not being passed off as an Ebay 1/1 or somehow/someway exclusive.  Instead, I was able to pick this card up for just a few dollars.

I was halfway expecting the card to be thicker given the cutout looks on the side of the card, but this is actually the regular card stock that Topps used this summer for Ginter.  The back does not have a stamp, or special markings to show that it came from the National Card Convention.....

Overall a really cool card.  Not sure how many different players were passed out in all, but I have seen a few others floating around in trade rooms on Facebook and auctions on Ebay.  There is at least another Cardinals player in the set, Michael Wacha, so I will have to work on adding that card to my collection.  Cool looking card for less than $5 and definitely worth looking into if you have a favorite current player or team you collect.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Collecting the Durham Bulls: Blake Snell

This year marked the fifth time that a player on the Durham Bulls won the Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year when Blake Snell won the award.  Previous winners included Jeremy Hellickson, Delmon Young, Rocco Baldelli, and Andruw Jones.  The recipient of the prestigious award this year compiled a 15-4 mark with a 1.41 ERA and 163 strikeouts in 134 innings split between three levels of the Minors.  Snell was also named the USA Today Minor League Player of the Year.

For a high profile prospect, Snell actually has a fairly limited array of cards available to collectors.  His first cards appeared in Bowman products back in 2011.  I was lucky enough to land a copy of his Bowman Chrome autograph out of a pack of retail I bought at my local Target.  At the time I pulled the card I was fairly happy, but just simply filed the card away as a Rays prospect to keep my eyes on for the future.  Snell was a first round pick, but has not appeared on any top prospect lists with Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, nor since that time.  Here's a look at my Bowman Chrome autograph....

The popularity and prices of Snell cards have risen dramatically over the last few years in spite of the fact that some of the biggest prospecting writers have not given Snell not press.  His Bowman Chrome autograph is now regularly selling for more than $20, some even pushing close to $30.  He has a few unlicensed autographs from Panini which sell for slightly less.  However, if you are looking to add in some Snell cardboard there are some nice looking base cards out there for collectors to add to their collections.  

Since he is in the 2011 Bowman set there are loads of parallels with all sorts of different serial numbers available.  Some are cheap, some are not.  I actually like his mini card which appeared in the 2013 Bowman set along with all the aforementioned parallels.  Snell also has a 2013 Topps Pro Debut base card which features him with the Rays Appy League affiliate in Princeton.  

I am guessing that Snell will start off the 2016 season in Triple A with the Durham Bulls, but his stay could be short.  I would also guess that Snell's profile as a prime time prospect will increase over the off season.  While it might be easy to speculate that Snell's cards could push even higher, I suspect that he might actually start to appear in 2016 products which might actually slide the prices backwards when he finally has a few more cards available to collectors.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


I picked up this J.D. Drew card sometime during August of 1999 after I started my first "real" job as a fifth grade teacher outside of St. Louis.  New jobs are a good reason to celebrate and new baseball cards are always a really good way to celebrate victories in life.  I really liked the 1999 SPx set, tons of McGwire cards, and it also had two autographs in the base set.

One of the autographs belonged to Tigers prospect Gabe Kapler, while the other belonged to Cardinals uber prospect J.D. Drew.  The luster had started to wear off of J.D. Drew's uber prospect status after a sluggish 1999 season, most of which had been played by the time this product had been released, but I still loved the card and had to have it in my collection.

There are 1999 copies of this J.D. Drew card, and the price has gone down significantly since the product was released, but it is still a favorite for many collectors.  Especially those of us who were around opening packs of cards back in the 1990s.

Here's to new beginnings......

Franklin Was A Shortstop And A Good Shortstop Too

One of the people I talk baseball with has been really big on Franklin Barreto the last few years.  I believe our conversation started a few years ago while he was playing in the Blue Jays farm system.  Barreto was playing in the Appalachian League and was barely scrapping together a season above the Mendoza line, but he was really young at the time and had some obvious tools.  I was shocked to see him involved in the Josh Donaldson trade this offseason as one of the primary pieces go back to the A's.  Naturally I decided to spend a little bit of time following him this season and I was pretty impressed.

Barreto spent the year playing in the California League where he posted a .302/.333/.500 line with 13 home runs and 22 doubles in just 90 games.  Pretty nice line for a 19 year old shortstop who was rated as a pre-season Top 100 prospect by Baseball America,, and Baseball Prospectus.  So what cards are out there of Franklin Barreto?

He has two certified autographs at the moment.  If you really like Barreto he has an autograph in the 2014 Bowman Chrome set which has been selling pretty well.  I have seen several copies approaching $20 with some of the lower numbered print runs pushing well past that mark.  However, if you just simply want to own a copy of his autograph, just for the sake of have an autograph of a potentially nice player, than look no further than the Bowman Inception autograph pictured above.

I found my copy for less than $5 and there are currently other copies of this same card sitting on Ebay and COMC at the same price point.  In fact, there are copies of this card's gold parallel, out of 50 print runs, for less than $10.  Interesting to see how long this card continues to fly under the radar....

Friday, September 18, 2015

Star Wars Card Trader: Empire Strikes Back Illustrated

I have not done an update on my Star Wars Card Trader collection recently, so I thought I would take a few minutes tonight and show off one of my current favorite sets on the Topps app.  I did a write up on the app awhile ago and have continued to check in everyday, save up my free credits, and work towards collecting a few cool cards.  My current favorites are out of the EmpIRe Strikes Back Illustrated packs.

Most of the packs on Star Wars card trader are 5,000 credits, but the Empire Strikes Back packs are a little bit more expensive at 7,500 credits.  It's worth the trade off to collect a nice looking set of cards based on the second Star Wars film.  I am still short a few of the cards in the set that have already been released, more or coming out, but I will have to work out a few trades to catch up.  Here's what I have so far.......

I have not done any set building yet on Star Wars Card Trader, but this seems like a good challenge for my first venture into putting together a complete product run on the app.  I have enjoyed picking up singles during the past few months that I have been active on the app, but I am ready to move onto new challenges.  Might have to try something like this on Bunt too.  I will keep you up to date.....

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Friday Five: Top 5 Sets From 2007

5. Topps Heritage- It's never a bad thing thing to start out with a Topps Heritage set.  Always a great set every year, I find myself sitting down every week and putting my thoughts down about another year and it is so difficult to avoid the Heritage products.  The 2007 Topps Heritage set is based on the 1958 Topps set.  Topps did a great job of duplicating some of the original details and also provided the usual challenge to set collectors to track down bunches of different short prints and variations.  Not really keen on any one short printed card, or variation from this set, but I do love the design.  Back in the day the first birthday present my mother-in-law ever bought me was a box of 2007 Heritage cards.  I landed a Chrome James Shields (former Durham Bull) card in the box.  Still a favorite card from a great looking set.  

4. Topps- I like when Topps goes with dark borders.  I am not sure if these cards will be as condition sensitive as some of the other black bordered Topps sets, but it still stands out for some reason.  Maybe not the blue borders from 2003, but I have always had a soft spot for the 1986 and 1971 sets.    I also threw this set in for the Jeter card.    I have never quite decided whether this was intentional, or not, but it got a lot of attention and seemed to get the ball rolling on Topps using a ton of variations, sometimes really silly ones, for their base sets.  At the time the card appear Topps had only gone to the well one time and the card brought a vibe to the 2007 Topps base set which had been missing for a few years.  Cool design and a really cool card land this 4th on my list......

3. Donruss Elite- I love college.  I love college sports.  I love cards.  Roll all of those things together and you get the 2007 Donruss Elite set.  This multi-sport product mainly focused on players selected in the baseball draft, but there are some other college athletes in the mix too.  I know that locally a lot of collectors love the Dean Smith autograph, which looks similar to the Cory Brown autograph above.  This product ran for a couple of years and has always been one of my favorites.  There are some good names in each of the sets, but even if you just are a fan of a certain college, there are patch cards are cool enough looking to own just for the sake of owning one.  

2. UD Black- This was a really cool set that I do not think gets enough love sometimes.  Loads of cool patch pieces, autographs, and all kinds of other goodies.  I have not seen too many affordable boxes of this floating around, but the singles are pretty easy to pass and can sometimes be a really good deal.  The sticker autographs are a little bit of a drag, but Upper Deck did a great job of designing this set and downplayed the stickers significantly by making them clear.  I also really like the autographed cards with the manufactured flags.  So many cool looking single cards, definitely a set you should look into if you have not done so already....

1. Upper Deck Masterpieces- This was easily my favorite set from 2007.  The cards were based on paintings, which is not really a new concept, but they had a really cool canvas card stock which was really unique.  The design of the cards was awesome with a dark border and really nice artwork.  Incredible looking relic and autograph cards with some nice names makes this, not only one of the better products of 2007, but one of the better products of the past decade.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Podcast Episode 1

I dabbled with this idea over the summer, but opened another blogger account.  Let's just stick with one blog......

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Bowman Burner Turner

I missed getting to see Trea Turner in the Minors this summer, but it is good to see him up in the Majors playing for the Nationals.  It's been a little bit of a slow start for the shortstop so far with just 1 hit in his first 14 games.  Still most baseball fans are expecting good things from the former Padres first round draft pick who officially came over to the Nationals this summer after being traded last fall.  It's a long story.  While I am not a huge fan of the Nationals I have enjoyed following Turner's career since he starred locally for NC State.

Turner should move into a starting role next season for the Nationals and should provide the team with good defense up the middle and lots of speed.  I have seen a couple of Nats fans question Turner's ability to hit given his struggles so far in the Majors, but I think he is going to be just fine in the long run.

My newest Turner card comes from the Bowman Inception set and features a nice on-card autograph of the former NC State star.  Turner has had numerous autographs over the past few years, but I think this might be the best of the lot, meaning it's not an unlicensed card or airbrushed from a stock college photograph.  I am guessing a Nats autograph could show up at some point this fall, until then this is my favorite Trea Turner autograph.  

Monday, September 14, 2015

New T.J.

I am always a little bit reluctant to buy cards from overseas sellers on Ebay, but I saw this really cool T.J. Warren card a few weeks back and decided that it was worth the risk given that the card was selling for less than $5.  If you have never bought from an overseas seller on Ebay, the tracking options for the packages can be limited, and the shipping can be a little bit slow.  This card took me just over three weeks to land in my mailbox.....

I do not dabble outside of baseball cards often, but I have really enjoyed picking up a few T.J. Warren cards over the past year since he left N.C. State for the NBA.  Warren was the ACC Player of the Year two year back, and was also one of the leading scorers in college basketball, but was slowed by injuries and limited playing time with the Suns during his first year in the NBA.  He had a great summer league this year and I am looking forward to checking out his lines in the box scores once basketball season starts back up again in a few weeks.

Almost all of the T.J. Warren cards that I have added to my collection have featured the forward wearing his NC State uni, but I would imagine that more and more of his cards will be of the Suns variety in the near future.  In the meantime, there are a few more nice Wolfpack autographs of T.J's that I would love to add to the collection.

Sunday, September 13, 2015


There are not many Ray Lankford cards floating around that I need for my collection, but every once in awhile I run into one.  We are not counting printing plates, there were not very many back in the late 1990s, but mainly low serial numbered cards and parallels.  This week I was able to add a parallel of a card of a cool 1990s insert card......

I have the green version, numbered out of 250, in my collection already.  Some readers might remember that I actually lost out on the red version when the auction for the card ended at $172.50  That card is out of 25 and it features Ray Lankford, not a Hall of Famer, for $172.50  

Luckily the purple version sold for well short of $172.50 and I was able to win the auction on Ebay. The card is numbered to 100 and fills in one of the remaining holes in my Ray Lankford collection.  

I am just hoping another copy of the red Crusade card comes up for auction, or for sale, and not many people take interest or note in the card.  

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

One Tough Dominican

Growing up in St. Louis during the 1980s meant that I had the opportunity to watch some great baseball teams that were based on speed, defense, and pitching during the decade long run of manager Whitey Herzog.  One of the most colorful figures on those teams was right-handed pitcher Joaquin Andujar.  The Cardinals picked up the front line pitcher from the Astros in exchange for outfielder Tony Scott.  Andujar was not much of a pitcher for the Astros, but helped the Cardinals win the 1982 World Series and the 1985 National League Pennant.  He won both of the games he started in the 1982 World Series against the Brewers including the Game 7 clincher.  He was not as effective against the Royals in the 1985 World Series and famously blew a gasket during the 7th Game of that series.  

Andujar won 20 games twice for the Cardinals, in 1984 and 1985, but was traded to the A's for Tim Conroy and Mike Heath.  Neither player really panned out for the Cardinals, but Andujar only lasted three more years pitching two seasons for the A's and his finale with the Astros in 1988.  He was out of baseball by age 35.  

Sadly today while I was eating lunch at work I opened my phone to check the news and saw the tweet from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  

I probably do not do enough for my collection of 1980s Cardinals, they were not too many stars on those teams outside of Ozzie Smith, but I have always loved the Andujar autographed card I scanned at the top of the post.  It's not the easiest autograph to find, but it's hard to say you have a collection of Cardinals player cards from the 1980s without a few good Andujars.  It's hard to see a favorite from my childhood gone.  He was "One Tough Dominican" RIP