When I made plans to visit my family in Rochester, New York over Christmas, I knew that at some point during my trip I’d need to take a break and do something fun. As you may know, Dan from the Saints of the Cheap Seats blog lives in Rochester, and I read on his blog a few months ago about a good card shop in downtown Rochester called the Yankee Clipper. So I emailed Dan and we made plans to meet up there on the day after Christmas. I brought my wife with me, Dan brought his son, and we met. As you might have guessed from the title of this post, it was the first time I’ve ever met a fellow blogger in person. And as you might also guess, Dan is as nice of a guy in person as he seems on his blog.
Dan exhibited his customary generosity by bringing a bunch of Rays cards with him that he thought I might want. I actually had all of them except for this very nice Rocco Baldelli relic card from 2007 Masterpieces:
Rocco is a free agent, and there’s a good chance that he won’t be back with the Rays for the 2009 season, but no matter what, he’s still one of my all-time favorites.
Anyway, the card store was very nice and had a great selection. Interspersed with the cards were things like comic books, old WWF action figures, and Atari video games. There was a good selection of singles, packs, and hobby boxes. Yes, packs. The hobby stores near me don’t sell individual hobby packs, so it was nice to see that this store offered single packs. The owner was also very friendly and conversational. I can see why Dan likes going there so much!
Here’s what I walked out with:
- An Eric Hinske silk card (#21/50) from 2008 Topps Updates & Highlights. Hinske probably won’t be back with the Rays in 2009, but I had never owned a silk card before, and thought it would be cool to add a Rays silk card to my collection:
- Three Evan Longoria “gold foil” parallel cards from Updates & Highlights. Now I have 4 different gold foil Longoria parallels from the set:
- One hobby pack of 2008 Upper Deck Documentary. I already knew that I didn’t like this set, but I wanted to buy one pack of it so that I could scan some of the cards for a post that I’ll be writing soon about what I don’t like about it.
- One rack pack of 1984 Donruss. Yes, 1984 Donruss, one of the best sets of the 1980s. The only card that I’ve ever owned from it is my 1984 Donruss Don Mattingly rookie card, which I obtained in 2001 after wanting to own it for about 15 years. So I was psyched to see rack packs of it for sale. I’ll be even more psyched to open it, which I’ll do on video in the near future.
- A bunch of thick magnetic card holders that I needed and some 5×7 top loaders for some oversized Don Mattingly cards that I own.
The Yankee Clipper was a very cool card shop, and I’ll be sure to stop by during future trips to Rochester. It was also great to meet Dan and his son, and it would be great to meet some of my other fellow bloggers in person in the future.
I’m curious; have any other card bloggers ever met in person? Or did Dan and I unknowingly break new ground in our hobby? Let me know! And on that topic, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking about going to the National this summer in Cleveland. One of my wife’s college friends lives in Cleveland, so I have the perfect excuse for taking a trip up there. Is anyone else in the blogosphere planning on going?
After getting back into the baseball card hobby earlier this year, I decided to look for hobby stores in my area. During my collecting heyday in the late 1980s and early 1990s, there were a plethora of hobby stores within driving distance of where I grew up in Rochester, New York. Today, however, there are far fewer hobby stores in business across the country. It’s probably due to the increase in people buying cards online at sites like eBay, combined with the general decline in the number of people collecting cards. In any case, I discovered that there were only a few hobby stores in the entire North Carolina Triangle metropolitan area, which Wikipedia tells me encompasses 1,635,974 people. (I’m hoping that David Price becomes resident number 1,635,975 when he gets called up from Montgomery to Durham later this summer!)
I checked out two local hobby stores a couple of months ago and came away unimpressed. One featured only a minimal selection of new wax, all of which was over-priced. It seemed to cater to the “World of Warcraft” card hobby, whatever that is. I did pick up a couple of cheap Carlos Pena and Jonny Gomes autographed cards and a box of new pages. The other store was in a mall and was a really more of a sports clothing store with some over-priced hobby boxes and packs for sale near the register. I didn’t buy anything there. I haven’t been back to either of these stores and I’ve been fueling my collection by buying from eBay, Beckett Marketplace, and Sportlots.
Then, just the other day, I found the Hobby Store Locator on the Topps web site. I was surprised to see that there was another hobby store located even closer to where I live than the other two. It’s called Cardiacs, and if you’re reading this and you happen to live in the Triangle (like chemgod), it’s located on Maynard Road in Cary, near the intersection with High House Road. Today after work, I stopped by to check it out. From the minute I walked into the store, I knew it was a quality place.
There’s a shelf behind the counter that is filled with hundreds of hobby boxes of baseball, football, basketball, and hockey cards. They even have some early 1990s boxes and some sets for sale, and some packs too. There are glass cases with lots of older singles and boxes with newer singles. I was very happy to see boxes filled with commons from recent sets. I’ll be going back with the list of 2007 Allen & Ginter and 2008 Upper Deck cards that I need to try to complete my sets. The owner was very friendly and outgoing and we spent a good amount of time talking about the hobby. I bought a Don Mattingly card, a few Rays cards, a rack pack of 1988 Score, and a 2008 Bowman hobby box, for which I only had to pay a few dollars above the typical eBay price (including shipping).
I’m thrilled that I’ve found a great hobby store near where I live, and surprised that I’d been avidly collecting for almost half a year without knowing about it. I know I’ll be back many times, and I’ll be sure to spend a decent amount of money there to try to keep it in business!
Here are the results from my Bowman hobby box:
Contents: 24 packs, 10 cards per pack, guaranteed 1 autographed prospect or rookie card
My hit was a Josh Smoker autographed refractor (#152/500). He was a first round pick by the Nationals last year. He’s got a great name for a pitcher, but it looks like he’s struggling so far in 2008. I’ll hold on to the card and hope that he lives up to his potential someday:
I also pulled the gimmick “Bowman Scout” autographed card. The idea of cards autographed by scouts is lame, and the idea of a mysterious “scout” character is lamer. I guess it’s a joke that someone working for Topps thinks is funny; maybe they’ll reveal the guy’s identity at some point. But who really cares:
Base cards: 116 out of 220, for a 52.7% completion rate with no duplicates. I bought a couple of Bowman blasters earlier, so I should have close to a full set.
Prospect cards: 48 out of 110. No duplicates.
Chrome prospect cards: 46 out of 110, but 9 duplicates, so only 37 unique cards.
Gold parallels: 16 base cards and 8 prospects. I love the Carl Crawford card in the new Rays blue, and Prince Fielder sporting some extra pounds:
2 blue parallels:
Austin Kearns (486/500):
Luke Hetherington (066/500):
1 orange parallel:
Mark Buehrle (077/250):
Will Rhymes, who is unfortunately not related to Busta (141/275):
So there you have it. I think that Bowman is a decent product and fills the prospect card niche in the hobby. I still don’t understand why Upper Deck doesn’t try to capitalize on the demand for draft pick and prospect cards. I know that they had a set called Prospect Premieres in 2002 (which features B.J. Upton and Scott Kazmir rookies), but why don’t they have something like that now?
The base card design with the black borders is kind of boring, but I really like the look of the prospect cards with the blue and white borders. The Chrome, as you would expect, looks cool, and the refractor and X-fractor that I pulled are nice. The colored parallels are unexciting, but at least they don’t cram in too many of them. I’d say that the bottom line is that if you want to get some cards of prospects, then I’d highly recommend Bowman. If you don’t like getting cards of guys you haven’t heard of yet, spend your money on something else.