OK, so my Christmas post is now 4 days late, but I promised a Christmas post when I wrote my Hannukah post, and I don’t like to break my promises.
My wife and I left town on the evening of Tuesday, December 23. We drove north until we were too tired to go any further, and we stopped and got a hotel room in Beckley, West Virginia. On Wednesday, we woke up, had breakfast, and drove up to Buffalo, New York to spend Christmas Eve with my grandparents, my dad, and his wife. Then, we drove an hour east to see my mom in Rochester, New York. We drove with my mom back to Buffalo on Christmas to see my grandma and some other relatives on my mom’s side of the family. We went back to Rochester that night, and we spent all day there on Friday. On Saturday, we shuttled between Rochester and Buffalo again, and then we started our trip back on Saturday night. We stopped for the night in State College, Pennsylvania. On Sunday, we had lunch at one of my favorite restaurants and we walked around the Penn State campus and the surrounding area for a couple of hours, reminiscing about my college days. We left in the early afternoon, and finally got home at about 10:00 last night. After unpacking, I crawled into my own bed and crashed. Then I had to get up and work today.
So that’s why I haven’t written any posts in a week. I haven’t been able to keep up with other blogs either. So I’ll be trying to catch up this week. I’ve got a lot of emails to read and respond to, trades to complete, and posts to write. And I’ll be getting psyched for the Rose Bowl on Thursday.
Anyway, back to Christmas. I had a great Christmas with my family, and I hope that everyone out there also had a happy day. The funny thing about Christmas is that we all spend so much time and energy to get ready for it, and then when it’s over, we try to put it in the back of our minds and move on to our normal lives as quickly as possible. So I won’t dwell on it. Except for this…
While most people were celebrating Santa Claus’ arrival or Jesus’ birthday, there was something else to celebrate on Christmas this year. Yes, Christmas 2008 marked the 50th birthday of Rickey Henderson!
If you read the post about my Hall of Fame picks, then you already know that I strongly believe that Rickey should be elected unanimously to the Hall of Fame in January. Not only that, but the more I reflect on his career, the more I start to believe that Rickey Henderson was the best baseball player who played in the era of my childhood in the 1980s and 1990s. Sure, there were a bunch of power hitters (like Barry Bonds) and power pitchers (like Roger Clemens) who once seemed like all-time greats, but their reputations are now marred by steroid allegations. Henderson was one of the few great players who seem to have been totally clean. His accomplishments in breaking records and reaching milestones may never be equaled.
When he broke the career stolen base record in 1991, Rickey Henderson said, “Today, I am the greatest of all time.” It seemed cocky at the time, but 17 years later, he’s right. In many ways, Henderson deserves to be mentioned as one of the greatest players who ever lived.
To mark this occasion, here’s another PSA graded card in my collection, his 1980 Topps rookie card:
And to wrap up my holiday posts, here’s the card that my wife and I sent out this year:
Now bring on the new year (and the Rose Bowl)!
Hannukah actually began last night, but I didn’t have a chance to write this post until tonight. This is my fifth year of celebrating Hannukah, as it’s the fifth holiday season that my wife, who is Jewish, and I have been together. Hannukah is a holiday that can be spelled many different ways. I use the “two N’s and one K but no C” variation because that’s what my wife prefers.
Although Hannukah is not one of the major Jewish holidays, it is my favorite. Exchanging presents, lighting the menorah, and trying to sing in Hebrew (Barukh atah Adonai…) is much more fun for me than fasting on Yom Kippur. In our house, we celebrate both Hannukah and Christmas, which adds a lot of fun to the holiday season. As Adam Sandler would say, “instead of one day of presents, we have eight crazy nights!”
After two nights of presents, I’m still left wondering if my wife got me any of the cards that I asked for (I kept it simple for her and just asked for Stadium Club, Heritage High Numbers, and Topps Updates & Highlights blasters). But my first two presents were both baseball-related. I got Josh Hamilton’s autobiography and a Baseball Hall of Fame calendar, so we’re off to a good start!
I’m thinking that our future kids will make all the other kids jealous by getting presents on all eight nights of Hannukah and on Christmas. As you can probably tell from reading my blog, I think about my future kids a lot, and I’ve even bought some cards that I’d like to pass down to them someday. Since they’re going to be half Jewish, I picked up this card earlier this year of one of the greatest Jewish baseball players of all time:
Yeah, I know it looks like Koufax just smelled something really bad, but it’s 1960 Topps, which was a great card design. This card also reminds me of 2009 Topps Heritage, which will be released only two months from tomorrow!
Looking at the stats on the back of the card, it’s amazing how unremarkable Koufax’s first few years in the majors were. He’s considered to be one of the best pitchers all time, based on just the last five years of his career, which happen to be possibly the best five year run for a pitcher ever. Check out his very interesting career statistics here.
Now, I’ll have to try finding a Hank Greenberg card before my kids are born…
Happy Hannukah to everyone who celebrates it!
I’ll have a Merry Christmas post later this week. My posts will probably be pretty sporadic for the rest of the week as my wife and I will be traveling to visit my family. We’re leaving tomorrow night and coming back this weekend.
Back in July, I was pretty excited when I first heard about a new card company, Razor, signing the Rays first round pick, Tim Beckham, and several other first round picks to exclusive contracts. I also gave them some positive coverage in this post. What you are about to read, however, will not be very positive. I recently purchased a hobby box of Razor’s first baseball product, Razor Signature Series, from a dealer in Pennsylvania on eBay. I went into this really wanting to like Razor. Here’s my box break:
As you can see, I did not get an autograph from any of the big names in the product. I originally thought that I didn’t get autographs from any first round picks, but after I finished recording the video, I realized that David Cooper was actually the first round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays this year, so I got one first round pick. Of course, I was hoping for a Tim Beckham autograph. I did get his base card, and I would have been happy with any one of the top ten picks, but instead, all of the autographs in my box are pretty much completely worthless.
Here’s the breakdown of what I got:
- 39 base cards (including 3 duplicates) – giving me 36 out of the 100 base cards in the set
- 1 black parallel – Brett Wallace (#120/200)
- 3 “Exclusive Signature” autograph cards (not serial numbered) – Ryan Flaherty, Derrik Gibson, Brett Marshall
- 1 autograph card #/1499 – Dennis Raben (#0494/1499)
- 4 autograph cards #/1199 – David Cooper (#0291/1199), J.P. Ramirez (#0537/1199), Cody Satterwhite (#0311/1199), Zeke Spruill (#0491/1199).
- 2 autograph cards #/199 – Trey Haley (#146/199), Brad Holt (#102/199)
Here’s some information about the players on the autograph cards that I pulled, including the round in which they were drafted and the team that picked them:
- David Cooper – First baseman from UC Berkeley, Blue Jays first round pick (17th overall).
- Brad Holt – Right-handed pitcher from UNC Wilmington, Mets sandwich round pick (33rd overall).
- Ryan Flaherty – Shortstop from Vanderbilt, Cubs sandwich round (compensation) pick (41st overall).
- Dennis Raben – Right fielder from the University of Miami, Mariners second round pick (66th overall).
- Cody Satterwhite – Right-handed pitcher from the University of Mississippi, Tigers second round pick (67th overall).
- Zeke Spruill – Right-handed pitcher from Kell High School (Georgia), Braves second round pick (70th overall).
- Trey Haley – Right-handed pitcher from Central Heights High School (Texas), Indians second round pick (76th overall). The front of the card erroneously states that he was an 11th round pick.
- Derrik Gibson – Shortstop from Seaford High School (Delaware), Red Sox second round pick (77th overall).
- Brett Marshall – Right-handed pitcher from Ross S. Sterling High School (Texas), Yankees sixth round pick (200th overall).
- J.P. Ramirez – Center fielder from Canyon High School (Texas), Nationals 15th round pick.
So I got one freakin’ autograph from a first round pick in my box. Now, if you haven’t seen Beckett’s Razor box break, how many first round pick autographs do you think they pulled from the boxes that were hand-delivered to them by the president of Razor, Brian Gray? I just watched their video again, and I counted. They pulled 23 (yes, twenty three) autographs from first round picks in their four boxes. That is an average of almost 6 per box. You can watch their video here. They got two Tim Beckham autographs, one of the #2 overall pick Pedro Alvarez, one of the #3 pick Eric Hosmer, two of the #5 pick in the 2007 draft, Matt Wieters (who is arguably the top prospect in baseball right now), one of the #6 pick Kyle Skipworth, two of the #7 pick Yonder Alonso, one of the #9 pick Aaron Crow, two of the #10 pick Jason Castro (that’s 12 autographs of top 10 picks), one of the #11 pick Justin Smoak, two of the #12 pick Jemile Weeks, one of the #14 pick Aaron Hicks, one of the #15 pick Ethan Martin (that makes 17 cards better than my Cooper autograph), two of Cooper, who was the #17 pick, two of #22 pick Reese Havens, one of #23 pick Allan Dykstra, and one of #25 pick Christian Friedrich.
Brian Gray sat next to Beckett’s esteemed box breakers, Tracy Hackler and Chris Olds, and opened the boxes with them. He also provided commentary on how great he thinks his company’s product is. At two points in the video, Gray makes comments that would suggest that an average collector would be likely to get similar or better results from boxes that they buy. When they were choosing the boxes from the case, Gray says this:
“Factory sealed case, these guys pick the boxes so there’s no funny business … I think collectors sometimes wonder if people, you know, if the boxes are just as they would buy them in a store, and this is exactly how the store receives its case when they order from Razor.”
Really, Mr. Gray? So, you hand-deliver the cases to every hobby store in the country? Obviously not, and that was probably just a slip of the tongue. But it’s clear that the message that you’re trying to get across is that you aren’t conducting any “funny business” (like delivering a loaded case to Beckett) and that collectors are likely to receive similar results from boxes that they would buy from an average hobby store. Right?
Later in the video, Gray says the following:
“And there are also parallel autographs in the product, and we didn’t hit it. They are tough. They fall on average a little less than one per box … and we didn’t hit them. They’re hard. They generally fall one per box, so if we open the rest of the case, someone is gonna do great on the rest of that case.”
OK, so there were no parallel autographs in the first three boxes. You’re right about that. But does that really matter? I mean, is a parallel autograph of a 15th round pick like J.P. Ramirez going to be more in demand than a regular autograph of Tim Beckham, or any other first round pick for that matter? Nope. People want to get autographs of the big name prospects in their boxes. If those autographs happen to be parallels, then great. I got two parallel autographs in my box, but neither were first round picks, so I don’t care. But anyway, I think that in that quote, your goal was to give collectors the impression that even though the boxes that were opened on the video were very good, the rest of the boxes in the case (and by extension, the boxes in any case) are likely to be even better.
Brian Gray also talked a lot about how carefully Razor listens to its customers and how they took input from collectors and made changes to the product, such as putting the autographs on-card. So he seems to care what his customers, the collectors, think. Well, Mr. Gray, if you really do care, please honestly tell us if you delivered a loaded case to Beckett. If you did not, then how do you explain why the autographs that I pulled from my box were so much worse than the ones that Beckett pulled? How do you explain why many other collectors who have posted video box breaks of your product did so much worse than Beckett? Was my box the result of an unfortunate collation error? Based on what you said in Beckett’s box break video, I should expect that my box would be similar, if not even better, in quality compared to Beckett’s boxes. I think you can clearly see that it was in fact much worse. So, can I have my money back, or can you send me a replacement box that contains better autograph cards; in other words, a box that would be more typical of what an average collector should get in their box?
I’m going to stop short of outright accusing Razor of purposely delivering a loaded case to Beckett. I’ll wait for an explanation from Brian Gray. But I think that anyone can see why a collector like me would suspect that there was something fishy going on. Mr. Gray delivered the case to Beckett himself, opened the boxes with them to promote his product, and the boxes yielded much better autographs than a box opened by a random collector who purchased his box from a dealer. And on the video, Mr. Gray says things that would lead collectors to believe that Beckett’s boxes are typical of what they should expect from the product. If Beckett was just really, really lucky with their boxes, then Mr. Gray should have told us that these boxes were not typical of what collectors would get from most boxes.
Anyway, I’ll finish the post by showing you scans from some of the cards from my box. Here’s Tim Beckham’s base card:
Beckham is the main guy that Razor is promoting their product around, so why couldn’t they have used an action photograph of him? He has a nice smile, but the head shot is more reminiscent of 1988 Topps than most modern baseball card products.
Here’s the #2 pick in the draft, Pedro Alvarez of the Pirates:
OK, I understand that Razor is not licensed by MLB, so they can’t use team names and logos on the cards. But what’s preventing them from at least putting the city name of the team on the card (like Donruss did with 2007 Elite Extra Edition) so that collectors can easily identify what team the player is with? For example, they could have put “Pittsburgh” on this card…
Here’s my black parallel of Brett Wallace. He’s a third baseman who was drafted by the Cardinals:
Here’s the David Cooper autograph, the only autograph of a first round pick in my box:
Here’s one of my parallel autographs. Brad Holt was a sandwich round pick of the Mets:
And finally, here’s an “Exclusive Signature” autograph card of Derrik Gibson, a second round pick of the Red Sox:
One final piece of advice for Razor would be to use a bigger picture of the player on the autograph cards. The autograph cards feature a small photo of the player in the corner of the card. I don’t mind the big autograph window, and I like that the autographs are larger than on most cards (especially cards with sticker autographs), but I’d like to see the player’s picture take up at least half of the card.
Anyway, what does everyone think of Razor’s product? And what are your thoughts on the differences between the boxes that Beckett opened and my box?
Here’s the break of the 2007 Sweet Spot tin for the free group break:
So the lucky winners are Joe from Cardboard Addiction, Chris from Stale Gum, PAB from The Player To Be Named Later, David from Tribe Cards, and Marie and Sooz from Cardboard Problem. Here’s what they’ll be getting:
- Joe will get a Brandon Wood autographed glove card #01/75 (Angels).
- Chris will get a Ryan Rowland-Smith autographed “Sweet Beginnings” card with a mini-helmet embedded in the card (Mariners). Chris didn’t pick a team for the break, but I don’t think he’ll turn down a free card!
- PAB will get a B.J. Upton “Sweet Swatch” memorabilia card (Rays).
- David will get an Alfonso Soriano “Sweet Swatch” memorabilia card (Nationals) as a result of a last-minute trade between he and Adam from Thoughts and Sox. As I mentioned in the video, Soriano is pictured with the Nationals and the swatch is from a Nationals jersey, but the card says “Alfonso Soriano / OF / Cubs”. Rob from Voice of the Collector had the Cubs. I’ll make it up to Rob by sending something else to him.
- Marie and Sooz with get both the Chris Carpenter and Albert Pujols base cards #/850 (Cardinals).
So there was nothing earth-shattering in the tin, but it wasn’t awful either. It’ll all depend on whether Brandon Wood can replicate the huge numbers that he’s put up in the minor leagues with the Angels or another major league team. Although it seems like he’s been a prospect forever, he’s still only 23, so he still has a chance to be a star. Also, Ryan Rowland-Smith quietly put up some good numbers for Seattle this year, and he could breakout in 2009.
I have the addresses of all of the winners except for Chris and David. So they should email me with their addresses and I’ll mail the cards out!
There’s been a lot of justified criticism about the Topps redemption program recently. I’ve personally been waiting since June for a weak Co-Signers dual autograph of Jeff Francis and Jason Hirsh of the Colorado Rockies. I’m also still waiting for two Topps Finest rookie redemption cards (a Jay Bruce autograph card and Jeff Samardzija) that Topps was supposed to ship “after 8/30/08”. And I’m waiting for my Evan Longoria Red Hot Rookie autograph card from Topps Series 2, which the Topps redemption site says I’ll get in April 2009. Most of you read earlier this week about the horrible experience that Mario from Wax Heaven has had with a Topps redemption that he’s been waiting more than a year to receive.
Well, at least I can share one happy story about a Topps redemption. If you saw my Heritage High Numbers hobby box break last week, then you saw the amazing redemption that I pulled for an Al Kaline and Curtis Granderson dual autograph card. I entered the redemption code on the Topps web site on December 7, and it told me that I’d receive the card in March. So you can imagine how thrilled I was this afternoon when the mailman delivered this, just 12 days after I redeemed it:
There’s no way that I can complain about a turnaround time of only 12 days for this card! There are two things that I absolutely love about the card. One is that both autographs are on-card, and the other is that it’s numbered out of 25. So the card is better than I expected in two different ways. It instantly becomes one of the best cards in my collection!
There is one thing about the redemption that I’m curious about, though. Take a look at the return address that was on the envelope:
I was pretty confused when I saw this, since I’ve never bought any packs of Tristar cards, let alone had a redemption with them. Does anyone know what the deal is with Topps and Tristar? Does Topps outsource its redemption program to Tristar, or is this just another company (a “fulfillment service”) that happens to have the same name as the Tristar card company?
I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on this blog yet, but I have a brother who’s two years younger than me. We don’t have a perfect relationship; like most brothers we’ve had our ups and downs over the years. Through it all, the one thing we’ve always had in common is our love of sports. And when we were kids, we both collected cards. We had some great times opening packs together, building sets, and trading.
I’ll never forget how much fun we had in 1988 when I taught my brother everything I knew about baseball cards and we both tried to build the 1988 Topps set. It was my third attempt at building a set and his first. We’d spend all of our money on packs every time we were in the grocery store, drug store, gas station, Kmart, or our local hobby store at the time, a place called G&J Enterprises. When we’d open the packs, we’d pull out all of the cards that we needed for our sets and then trade the doubles to each other. I still remember that unfortunate afternoon when he got a bloody nose and he bled all over my Tom Trebelhorn manager card. By the end of the summer, we were both still about 10 cards short of the full set. I still have my cards in a box up in my attic. To this day, I’m still missing those 10 cards.
Anyway, we both collected between 1988 – 1994. It was one of our favorite activities to do together. He continued collecting after I stopped, but he focused mostly on football cards. He was a huge fan of the Atlanta Falcons. I think he was the only kid in all of New York State who liked the Falcons. We grew up about an hour from Buffalo, and there were two types of football fans where we lived – people who loved the Bills (like me) and people who hated the Bills. My brother became one of the haters. I think that the Falcons caught his interest because of Deion Sanders in the early 1990s.
He kept collecting football cards until the early part of this decade, when the huge number of sets and the escalating prices finally drove him out of the hobby. We’ve been talking over the last few months about my renewed interest in baseball cards, and he’s been asking a lot about what the hobby is like today. I haven’t told him about my blog yet, but I probably will eventually. In the back of my mind, I think it would be funny if he randomly found it while looking for information about cards online.
So since he doesn’t read my blog, I think it’s OK for me to show off the Christmas present that I bought for him. Check it out:
Since he’s a Falcons fan, he’s been extremely happy about how Matt Ryan has played this year. I think that Ryan’s cards are hotter than anyone’s in the football card hobby right now. Of course this means that his autographed cards are very pricey, but it’s for my only brother and I’m hoping that giving him this card will lead him to jump back into the hobby.
The card is from 2008 Playoff Absolute Memorabilia, and it’s numbered 068/299. I think it’s a great looking card, it’s from a good brand, and Ryan’s got a very nice signature. The card’s surface is pretty shiny too, but you can’t really see it in the scan. It’s got two event-used jersey pieces and one piece of an event-used football from the NFL Rookie Premiere on May 17. Sure, game-used would be better, but I think that the Rookie Premiere event-used relics are pretty standard in football cards. After all, they don’t have any NFL game-used memorabilia when the cards are produced.
So what do the football card collectors out there think of this card?
One semester when I was in college, signs started showing up in almost every classroom, every dining hall, almost every building on campus that simply said, “Do you agree with Adam?” Soon, people started wearing t-shirts with the same question, and later they wore t-shirts that said “I agree with Adam”. Everyone was talking about what the question meant, until a few weeks later when we found out that it was just a campaign by some stupid religious group that was trying to get attention.
Anyway, I thought about the whole “Do you agree with Adam?” thing after reading and watching Gellman’s commentary about Beckett’s latest ridiculous video box break of 2008 Playoff Prime Cuts. Gellman is by far the most vocal critic of Beckett’s unethical business practices of anyone on the internet, but he is definitely not the only person who feels strongly about the mockery that they make of the hobby. Many bloggers have written posts or commented on other people’s posts, and voiced their disapproval of some of the things that Beckett has done. But I still think there are people at Beckett and the card companies, and even some collectors out there, who think that Gellman is the only person (or at least one of a small minority) who disapproves of what Beckett does.
If we want to see positive changes made in the sports card collecting hobby, including a significant reduction in Beckett’s influence on the hobby, then it’s time for collectors everywhere to take action. No, we don’t have to write about Beckett every day. It’s a lot more fun to focus on the many good aspects of collecting. But I have an idea of something that any card blogger can do, or anyone with a web site, or for that matter, anyone who posts on a message board. I’ve created a very simple graphic that I’ve placed on the sidebar of my blog. It simply states, “I agree with Adam. Beckett SUCKS!” I’ve linked the graphic to Sports Cards Uncensored so that anyone who clicks on it will go to Gellman’s blog where they can read a lot more about Beckett’s negative influence on the hobby. If enough people post that graphic on their blog, their site, or their message board signature, people in the hobby will start to realize that there are a lot of people out there, not just Gellman, who don’t approve of what Beckett does.
If you want to post the graphic on your site, here’s the HTML code to use:
<a href="http://www.sportscardsuncensored.com/" target="_blank"><img src="https://fielderschoice.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/beckett_sucks.jpg"></a>
If anyone out there has better skills at making nice-looking graphics than I do, feel free to improve on it.
I also took some action by posting my own YouTube video in response to Gellman’s. I apologize in advance if I rambled on a little; I know that I can be very long-winded sometimes. It was the first time that I ever sat down and just started talking in front of the video camera without having a box to open in front of me.
So the question that I ask to everyone in the sports card blogosphere tonight is, “Do you agree with Adam?” And if you do, what are you going to do about it?
Here are the team assignments for the free group break of 2007 Sweet Spot:
- Mario from Wax Heaven – Tigers
- JV from Treasure Never Buried – Rangers
- Gellman from Sports Cards Uncensored – Twins
- Mike (chemgod) from Bad Wax – Pirates
- dayf from Cardboard Junkie – Braves
- Patricia and Lucy from Dinged Corners – Mets
- Scott from Hand Collated – Reds
- Chris from Stale Gum – Mariners
- Bailey from The Nennth Inning – Giants
- Ryan from Trader Crack’s Card Blog – Blue Jays
- Rob from Voice of the Collector – Cubs
- Steve from White Sox Cards – White Sox
- Joe from Cardboard Addiction – Angels
- Ben from Cardboard Icons – Red Sox
- Pete from Dropped Third Strike – A’s
- Charlie from Hawk to the Hall – Diamondbacks
- Paul (deal) from Phungo – Padres
- Dan from Saints of the Cheap Seats – Indians
- PAB from The Player To Be Named Later – Rays
- Bill from Thorzul Will Rule – Astros
- Adam from Thoughts and Sox – Nationals
- Eric Slette from The Pettitte Pursuit – Yankees
- Larry – lwc4ut on YouTube – Rockies
- Jawdy – JawdysBasement on YouTube – Phillies
- Justin from Tampa Bay Sports Wasteland – Orioles
- Marie and Sooz from Cardboard Problem – Cardinals
- Brian from 30-year old Cardboard – Marlins
- Night Owl from Night Owl Cards – Dodgers
- JayBee from bdj610’s Topps Baseball Card Blog – Brewers
- David from Tribe Cards – Royals
There were only multiple requests for 4 teams, so I only had to randomize those 4 – the Yankees, Red Sox, Indians, and Cubs. Random.org awarded the Yankees to Eric Slette, the Red Sox to Ben from Cardboard Icons, the Indians to Dan from Saints of the Cheap Seats, and the Cubs to Rob from Voice of the Collector. Mike from Bad Wax missed out on the Yankees so I gave him his second choice, the Pirates. Charlie from Hawk to the Hall missed out on the Cubs, so I gave him his second choice, the Diamondbacks. I put Marie & Sooz, Pete, Joe, Adam, and JV into the randomizer along with everyone who either didn’t indicate a preference or didn’t respond. The results are what you see above. Congratulations to PAB for getting the Rays!
If anyone wants to trade teams with anyone else, you can do so up until 8:00 PM EST on Saturday. Just let me know through email or in the comments of this post if you’ve agreed to a trade. I’ll be opening the tin on video on Saturday night. Good luck to everyone!
I want to thank Gellman of Sports Cards Uncensored for organizing the sports card blog community for another Blog Bat Around. In case anyone missed it, here was my entry in the first Blog Bat Around last month.
This time, the topic is the centerpiece of our collections. As you might expect, since my collecting habits are all over the map, it’s not easy to narrow down what the centerpiece of my collection is. But I like to think of it this way – if I knew that a bomb was going to destroy my house in five minutes, what items from my collection would I rush to save? Of course, I would only worry about my collection after securing the safety of my wife and cat first…
Anyway, I can narrow it all down to three true centerpieces of my collection. These centerpieces represent what I’ll call my past, present, and future as a collector.
I’ll start with my past. As any reader of my blog knows, I have a very large collection of Don Mattingly cards. The current tally is 1,061 different Mattingly cards, and that number is constantly growing. In fact, it’s been growing since 1985 when I pulled my first Don Mattingly card (1985 Topps) from a pack. My Mattingly cards have been the main centerpiece of my collection ever since then. Back in the 1980s, I never could have imagined that I’d someday own over 1,000 different Mattingly cards. I collected his Topps cards each year, his Topps All Star cards, and I tried to get some Donruss, Fleer, and Score cards too. By the early 1990s, I had a lot of his “oddball” cards, such as Kmart cards, cereal cards, and Panini stickers. When I stopped collecting in 1994, I had about 200 different Mattingly cards. My financial limitations prevented me from pursuing most of the pricier insert cards that were coming out, and the super premium cards like Topps Finest and Flair. But in the back of my mind, I always knew that someday when I was an adult and had a full-time job, I’d try to complete my Don Mattingly collection by obtaining every one of his cards that were ever made. Little did I know at the time that this would be an impossible pursuit due to the huge number of Mattingly cards that would be produced each year after his retirement…
In the summer of 2003, I pulled out my old collection of Mattingly cards, put each card into a penny sleeve and top loader (they were in pages in a binder before this), and printed out a list of every Mattingly card that had been produced from Beckett’s web site. I checked off every card that I owned and went to work scouring eBay to find the ones that I didn’t have. I quickly figured out that I’d never be able to own every card that was made after Mattingly’s retirement, but I thought that it was a reasonable goal to collect everything from his playing days (through the 1996 card sets). Now, five and a half years later, I’m up to 1,061 cards (including some post-retirement cards), and there are only 12 cards from Mattingly’s playing days that I want and don’t have (some of the items on Beckett’s checklist are discs and not cards, and I’m not collecting those).
I take a huge amount of pride in my Mattingly collection because of all of the work that I’ve put into it for so many years. I love the feeling of acquiring a card that I don’t have and checking it off of my list, especially if it took me a really long time to find the card. It feels great to move closer toward a goal that I set for myself when I was still a kid. I don’t plan to ever sell my collection. Individually, few of the cards are worth very much (I think that the 1993 Topps Finest refractor is worth the most – it books for $300 and sells for $150 – $200 on eBay), but the value of having all of the cards, with all of the time and effort that I’ve put into it, is immeasurable.
After I acquire all of the cards that I need from Mattingly’s playing days, I’ll start trying to obtain more cards from after his retirement, which includes a lot of autographs, memorabilia cards, and low-numbered cards, including 1/1s. I’m going to try to get as many base cards as I can, but I’ll obviously never be able to get all of the autographs, memorabilia cards, and all of the variations and parallels. I think that to keep your sanity as a player collector, you have to set reasonable limits and establish attainable goals.
I’ve written about my Don Mattingly collection many times before, but now for the first time, here are some pictures of what it looks like.
This shelf contains 7 stacks of cards:
In the very front are the minor league cards and oddball cards that are not listed on Beckett’s checklist (the card on top is a 1982 TCMA minor league card). In back of that is a stack of 1984-1985 cards, 1986 cards, and 1987 cards. In the very back are the 1988, 1989, and 1990 cards. For each year, I have the cards in a specific order: Topps (and O-Pee-Chee) on top, and then Donruss (and Leaf), Fleer, Score/Pinnacle, and Upper Deck. Below those are the Classic cards, Panini stickers, and then the oddball cards from that year in alphabetical order.
The shelf right above it contains my cards from 1991 – 1996, organized the same way:
You can see that the stacks are much higher because of the inserts and parallel cards that began to appear in the 1990s. That huge stack in the middle of the back row are the 1995 cards. The amount of Mattingly cards that came out increased each year, but then decreased in 1996 because Mattingly stopped playing after 1995 (he officially retired after the 1996 season).
Finally, here’s the shelf that contains my post-retirement Mattingly cards. They’re all in the stack on the left:
My 2008 Mattingly cards aren’t in there yet, because I’m still organizing them. The two stacks on the right are my PSA-graded vintage cards. But those are another story…
I also have some of my Mattingly cards in pages. These include some Star and CMC player sets from the 1980s. They sit on a shelf on the other side of the room with my Mattingly cards that are too big for top loaders or pages. Finally, I want to show you what’s known as the “Don Mattingly shrine” in my bedroom. It’s amazing that my wife let me set this up in our house:
I got that plaque as a present sometime in the late 1990s. On my dresser, you can see my 7 Don Mattingly Starting Lineup figures (from 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1994, and 1996, plus a special dual figure with his future teammate Wade Boggs). Next to them are my three Mattingly bobble heads. Two of them were given out at Columbus Clippers games (where Don played in Triple-A) in the early 2000s and the other one was given out at a Nashville Sounds game (where Don played in Double-A). I bought them all off of eBay about five years ago.
So, as I said earlier, my Mattingly collection represents my collecting past. Now let’s talk about my collecting present. In 2008, I have started to build a collection of Tampa Bay Rays cards. I like cards of every Rays player, but Evan Longoria really stands out above all of the rest. Not only is Longoria already arguably the Rays best player and the Rookie of the Year, but it’s easy for me to keep track of his cards since most of them came out in 2008, which was my first year back in the hobby (or at least the collecting new cards part of the hobby). I have 64 different cards in my Evan Longoria collection right now, and I’ve shown many of them on this blog, but none of the cards are the centerpiece of my Evan Longoria collection.
So what is my Evan Longoria centerpiece? Check this out:
Meet my autographed, game-used Evan Longoria Durham Bulls jersey. I got this at Durham Bulls Athletic Park on August 31, 2007. The Bulls usually have a few games a year where they auction off the jerseys that the players wore in the game to benefit a charity. The players autograph the jerseys too. I bought a Joey Gathright autographed game-used jersey in 2004. He was a huge prospect at the time, and he was one of my favorite players, but he still hasn’t become a star in the major leagues, and he probably never will. Anyway, I didn’t get another one after that until 2007. I didn’t want a jersey from a mediocre player, and I saw B.J. Upton and Delmon Young jerseys go for up to $500 when they were auctioned off. That was out of my price range.
Anyway, at the game on August 31, 2007 against the Charlotte Knights, they announced that the jerseys worn that day would be auctioned off. They didn’t announce this ahead of time on their web site, like they normally do, and I suspect that’s the reason why the really big spenders weren’t there. This wasn’t long after Evan Longoria had been promoted to Durham from Double-A. After watching Longoria hit a towering home run (the 5th of his Triple-A career) in the 3rd inning off of Lance Broadway, I wandered over to the table where the bidding was taking place. I entered a bid, and walked back over there when the bids were being finalized. I ended up winning, and I got the jersey for less than I was expecting, just $240. The guy who was taking the bids was shocked that it went for such a low amount, and he told me that a Longoria jersey had sold for $1000 a couple of weeks before that. I was very, very happy. I picked up my new prized possession in the Bulls offices after the game ended and saw that beautiful Longoria signature on the Bulls logo patch for the first time. I bought a frame for it a couple of months later, and it’s currently hanging up in the bonus room at my house.
Due to Evan Longoria’s phenomenal rookie season and his newfound fame, I’d estimate that I could get about $2000 on eBay if I wanted to sell the jersey now. I imagine that it’ll only go up in value if he continues to fulfill his vast potential throughout his career. I don’t know if I’ll ever sell it. As you know, I’m a huge Evan Longoria fan, and I love owning this jersey. However, if it becomes valuable enough to pay for my kids’ college education someday, it sure would be tempting to sell it.
Finally, I want to talk about the centerpiece of my collecting future. You’re probably surprised to see that it’s a card that’s 52 years old:
This is my favorite card from my collection of PSA-graded vintage cards. I’ve been adding cards to that collection for a few years, and as much as I enjoy the cards, my biggest goal is to be able to share and eventually pass down some very historic and valuable cards to my kids (who at this point are still unborn and unconceived). This is one of my three most valuable cards. One of the others is the one that I wrote about here, and I’ll write about the third one another time. Anyway, Jackie Robinson is one of my all-time favorite players, and I can’t think of any player that ever lived who I’d consider to be a better role model for my future kids.
I was inspired to buy this card by volunteering with my wife’s third grade class. Toward the end of every school year, she has the kids divide into small groups and act in a short play. One of the plays that they perform is about Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in 1947 and then winning the World Series with the Dodgers in 1955. The kids really love this play and they love learning about Jackie Robinson. I get to help them rehearse, and I’ve even gotten to play the part of Pee Wee Reese a few times.
Someday, I’m going to teach my own kids about Jackie Robinson and the huge impact that he had on making our country a better place. When I tell them about him, I’ll be able to show them this great looking card. And since it’s protected in a PSA holder, I won’t even have to worry about them damaging it. I think that the 1956 Topps set is one of the nicest looking sets of all-time, and this is one of the best cards in it. The card represents the future of my collection because when I think about the future, all that I think about is becoming a dad, and I know that this is a card that I’ll proudly share with my kids. I can’t imagine that I’d ever sell it, and I hope that it’ll be owned by my kids, my grandkids, and future generations of my family for many, many years.
It seems like only yesterday that I wrote the first post for this blog. It was the night of June 14, 2008. I had been reading a bunch of card blogs for a few months, but I hadn’t seriously thought about starting my own. I thought it would be fun, but much too time-consuming (which it is). I eventually became a frequent comment leaver at my favorite blog, Wax Heaven. In May, JV from Treasure Never Buried started his blog, and I became a daily reader on the first day. I think it was a combination of Mario’s enthusiasm and seeing how JV started his blog from scratch that prompted me to start my own. Then, on that weekend in June, my wife and I were on vacation at Virginia Beach. On the night of the 14th, she fell asleep before I was really tired, so I sat down with my laptop, created a WordPress account, and started blogging. It’s been a great experience in many ways ever since then. I truly appreciate every reader, every comment, every email, every link to the blog, and every card trade that I’ve made since starting Fielder’s Choice.
Just within the last few days, the blog has reached three major milestones:
- December 14 was the 6-month anniversary of the day that I created the blog. My wife found it hilarious that I used the word “anniversary” to describe it.
- The blog received its 25,000th visitor (and now it’s already surpassed 26,000) last week. I know that there are other blogs with a larger readership base, and that a big percentage of my “hits” are probably from people who have come back more than once, but it’s still astounding to me that at least a few thousand different people have read what I’ve written.
- This is the 200th post that I’ve written for the blog.
All of this prompted me to add a new page to the blog. It’s a “Best Of” page where you can access all of the posts that I consider to be the best from the past six months. You can check it out here. I’ll be updating it monthly from now on. I also updated the About Me page for the first time since June.
Anyway, due to these three milestones all happening at the same time, and it being the holiday season, I’ve decided to celebrate by holding my first ever contest. It’s going to work differently than any contests that I’ve seen on other blogs. I’m actually going to steal an idea from a YouTube box breaker, Jawdy from Jawdy’s Basement. If you haven’t see his very entertaining box break videos, I strongly recommend checking out his channel. I recently purchased a 2007 Upper Deck Sweet Spot hobby box (tin) from Dave & Adam’s Card World. I am going to have a group break for this tin, but nobody has to pay. That’s right, I’m going to give away all of the cards in the tin!
So far, this sounds exactly like what Jawdy did, but here’s the difference. Rather than having random people participate (something like the first 30 people who leave a comment), I am automatically putting 30 people into the group break. And who are these 30 people? The list is composed of 30 people who in one way or another have contributed to making my blogging experience fun. Most of them are bloggers who I’ve made trades with in the past. There are also a couple of readers who I’ve made multiple trades with. And finally, I’ve rounded out the list with some other bloggers who I haven’t traded with, but were very helpful by linking to my blog back when it first started and by leaving lots of comments on my posts.
I certainly don’t want anyone to feel left out, but obviously I could only include 30 people. I gave the edge to bloggers over non-bloggers just because I know how hard it is to keep churning out blog posts regularly. And I picked the readers who I’ve made multiple trades with over people who I’ve made only one trade with. Finally, I’m limiting this to one entry per household, so Tatiana and Mario are only in one entry, and Kimaloo and Pete are only in one entry. Please don’t take offense if you’re not on the list; I’m definitely not trying to slight anyone! If there is anyone who is a glaring omission, I can assure you that it’s just an oversight.
Here’s the list of people who will be in the group break (not in any particular order):
- Mario from Wax Heaven (and Tatiana) – Mario has been more helpful than anyone in promoting my blog from day one!
- JV from Treasure Never Buried
- Gellman from Sports Cards Uncensored
- Mike (chemgod) from Bad Wax
- dayf from Cardboard Junkie
- Patricia and Lucy from Dinged Corners
- Scott from Hand Collated
- Chris from Stale Gum
- Bailey from The Nennth Inning
- Ryan from Trader Crack’s Card Blog
- Rob from Voice of the Collector
- Steve from White Sox Cards
- Joe from Cardboard Addiction
- Ben from Cardboard Icons
- Pete from Dropped Third Strike (and Kimaloo)
- Charlie from Hawk to the Hall
- Paul (deal) from Phungo
- Dan from Saints of the Cheap Seats
- PAB from The Player To Be Named Later
- Bill from Thorzul Will Rule
- Adam from Thoughts and Sox
- Eric Slette, a long-time reader who just started his own blog, The Pettitte Pursuit
- Larry – lwc4ut on YouTube
- Jawdy – JawdysBasement on YouTube
- Justin from Tampa Bay Sports Wasteland
- Marie and Sooz from Cardboard Problem
- Brian from 30-year old Cardboard
- Night Owl from Night Owl Cards
- JayBee from bdj610’s Topps Baseball Card Blog
- David from Tribe Cards
I’ve traded with everyone on this list except for Gellman, Chris, Brian, Night Owl, JayBee, and David. They make the list because they have great blogs that have linked to me for a long time and/or they’ve left a lot of comments. I hope to make trades with all of them in the future (except for Gellman, who usually doesn’t do trades).
Sweet Spot is my favorite high-end product, and with the 2008 version coming out soon (and retail already available), the price of 2007 Sweet Spot has gone way down. I was able to pick up this tin for only a little over $40. It will contain:
- One Sweet Spot on-card autograph on either a baseball, bat, or glove embedded in the card
- One “Sweet Beginnings” rookie on-card autograph with a mini-helmet embedded in the card
- Two “Sweet Swatch” memorabilia cards
- Two base cards numbered to 850
So there will be 6 cards to give away. Each person will be assigned to one team and they will receive any cards that I pull from that team. You can indicate your team preference by leaving a comment on this post before Thursday at 8:00 PM EST. If no one else picks that team, then that team is assigned to you. If multiple people pick a team, I’ll use random.org to choose one of them, and then the others will get a random team. If you don’t indicate a team preference, then you’ll get a random team. On Thursday night, I’ll post the team assignments, and after that you can make trades with anyone else until Saturday at 8:00 PM EST. On Saturday night, I’ll open the tin on video and post it to YouTube and the blog. If you win a card, I’ll mail it out to you next week!
Good luck to everyone, and happy holidays!
Update: I want to clarify a couple of things after reading the comments. Each card will go to the person who is assigned to the team that the player on the card is pictured with. So, for example, if Andrew Miller is in the tin, he’ll be in a Tigers uniform, so it’ll go to the person who’s assigned to the Tigers, and not the person who has the Marlins. Also, it’s OK to pick a team that someone else has already picked. For teams that multiple people want, I’ll pick one of those people at random using random.org, and whoever doesn’t get that team will get a random team.