Thursday, May 5, 2016

An excellent run of regionals

Back in February I managed to pick-up a 1995 Oh Henry! Blue Jays team set. To say the least, this was a coup, because that set has been hard as hell to locate, and I found it because I had nothing better to do than search many pages deep into some Google results. Just typing that reinforces how crazy good Google is, that I, and most people, probably don't often venture 2 or 3 pages deep looking for results.

Anyway, picking up the 1995 Carter, left me one short of what I would consider an excellent run of regionals. Specifically, I'm talking about the 1996 Oh Henry! Joe Carter card. Late last year, a 1996 set showed up on eBay but somebody binned it before I ever saw the auction. Earlier this year, another set showed up on eBay, but it too was spoken for before I had time to pull the trigger. But, it seems, luck was on my side. A few weeks ago, Seth posted a comment on the blog about having a 1996 Oh Henry set for sale ... we exchanged a couple emails, a deal was reached, and pow, just like that, a 1996 set lands in my mailbox. No late night Google searches, no hard fought eBay auctions, none of that. Just some cordial email, a transaction and poof!

So here, for your viewing pleasure, running down the right side of this post, I've got a run of Carter cards that I'm pretty thrilled about.

The first three cards are from the 1991, 1992 and 1993 "fire safety sets". Team issues that were produced by the Ontario Association of Fire Chief's. As a kid we always believed these sets were handed out at fire stations around Ontario, but I have no proof of that, in fact. Often they were produced as a joint effort with the Blue Jays and some other company, such as the Toronto Sun newspaper, Becker's variety store, etc.

If you've been around this blog long enough, you'll know that I love these fire safety sets. They are often very low quality cards, but they are everything a regional should be...unique photos, obscure players, questionable design choices, tough to get your hands on, etc.

In 1994 things changed. I have no idea why, but the Ontario Association of Fire Chief's stopped producing these sets, and Oh Henry! got involved. And they became SGAs at select Blue Jays games. If I was a more dedicated blogger, I'd have taken the time to nail down the exact dates as part of this blog post -- that'd be interesting to know right? Spoiler alert -- I'm a terrible blogger, so we're all going to be left guessing!

Given what happened in 1994 with the baseball stike, and the subsequent decline in baseball attendance until 1999 when Sosa and McGwire were making headlines, you can well imagine how tough these Oh Henry issues are to track down.

Persistence and dumb luck has paid off, though. The last 4 cards in this run -- 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997 -- are all Oh Henry issues given out at stadiums. The 1997 sets are actually quite easy to locate, it's the earlier three that are tough. I picked them up in year order, but I'm not sure which I would say is actually more difficult. I guess I don't have to worry about it now ;)

From 1994-2001, these sets continued to be distributed as a joint effort with Oh Henry, and they were all given out at Blue Jays games. The 1997, 1998 and 1999 sets can be found on eBay with relative ease, with 1997 probably being the more difficult of the three. And then there's the 2000 and 2001 sets. I've collected Jays cards for years, and I can think of maybe 2 instances where I've seen these sets for sale in their entirety (and that was in the past month). I no longer collect Blue Jays cards, but almost bought those two sets just on principle.

The Blue Jays did one final SGA team set in 2002 before taking a 10 or so year hiatus from producing/distributing these sets. That set, to be honest, is probably my favourite. It doesn't contain Joe Carter as his Blue Jays days were long over by then, but it is my favourite design of all of the sets, and it's at least as difficult as the 2000 and 2001 sets. I've only ever seen it for sale once and I bought it (and still have it, I think).

Anyway, there you have it -- 7 years of what I consider to be a very awesome "subset" within the Joe Carter collection.

On a side note, you may also notice that in addition to removing the 1996 Oh Henry! card from my 'Level of Excellence', I also eliminated the 1994 UD Collector's Choice gold card. I already had this card once for my set, but wanted a second for my player collection and picked it up off of eBay last week.

The remaining 5 cards on that list will probably still be there next year, but I can't complain having knocked out the other 5 in the first 5 months of the year.

Thanks for reading!

Richard.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Is there such thing as an in-card auto?

When it comes to blogging, I am full of excuses. Family commitments, work commitments, the weather is too nice outside, the bad weather has knocked out my power or internet, baseball season has started...and yet, I enjoy blogging. There just aren't enough hours in the day, it seems.

There are bloggers out there, however, whose commitment to blogging (and quality blogging at that), is impressive. I'm sure they could teach me a few things about time management, but then I'd have one less excuse ;)

Matt, over at bobwalktheplank.blogspot.ca, is one of those guys. You know the guy. He balances having a family, working, being a baseball fan AND being a WVU sports fan with blogging about cards and the occasional (and welcome) post about his beer exploits. And somehow, amidst all of these commitments he has time to mail kick-ass card packages to fellow collectors.

Last week, I was on the receiving end of just such kick-ass generosity. Actually, last week was epic in terms of card-collecting. I had a bunch of Zistle trades going on, and received 5 back last week, so in 5 days,  I actually received 6 trade packages!

Today, though, let's focus on this beauty. It's from the 2003 Fleer Rookies and Greats set. That much I know. Which exact subset, to be honest, I'm not sure. And not for lack of looking. What's throwing me is that it's got the 'UNCOMMON' back but has no serial number. So that's my first question. What sub-set is this? And what is the obvious 'tell' that I'm missing?

The next part focuses on this autograph. As I've said in the past, I'm a huge fan of the relic/auto combo cards. This card is no different -- it's awesome! What I find most intriguing here, is the autograph. It's not on a sticker (I get why card companies do that, it's very practical, but it takes a bit of the fun out of the autograph if you ask me), but it's not exactly on the card either.

My scans don't capture this, but the top layer of this card is basically 'cut-out', and it appears Joe's autograph is actually on that thick white stock that sits between the front and back layers of the card.

So my next question -- is there such thing as an 'in-card' auto?

No matter the answer, I'm pumped to add this card to my Joe Carter collection.

Thanks again Matt!

And thanks for reading.

Richard.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Justice has been served. Finally.

See what I did right there? The real reason I'm so far behind on trade posts is that it requires a great deal of effort to come up with such witty titles for my posts.

But seriously, this one is long overdue. In an earlier post, I mentioned that Mike, from Not Another Baseball Card Blog, hooked me up with some 1994 Collector's Choice for my set. I broke that into two posts, this being the second part of that.

To recap: He sent me a series 1 base card of John Kruk. After a couple of trades and busting a couple boxes (a Series 1 jumbo and a Series 1 wax), that card was the only one missing to complete my Series 1 base set. I'm still surprised, and thrilled, by that.

So now, to round out the trade package, here's some of the highlights of the nearly two-dozen series 2 cards he sent. On top of the pile was this David Justice checklist card. I love what Upper Deck did with the checklists in this set. I love the style of the artwork (kinda reminds me of those paint-by-number things), the choice of colours and players, and I actually like that Series 1 ends with the Series 1 checklists and Series 2 starts with the Series 2 checklists. There are 12 total checklists in that subset (5 in Series 1 and 7 in Series 2), and they're all awesome. Equally cool is that the same artwork is used on the actual card packs, with I think, one exception. In Series 2 there are packs that feature Joe Carter, but he is not represented as a checklist. Given Griffey's relationship with Upper Deck, if anyone was going to get 2 checklists in this subset it should be him, but given how Carter ended 1993 combined with my obvious Carter-bias, I kinda feel like maybe his pack could have also been a card, but I'm not gonna dwell on it. Too much ;)

The next card that jumps out of the stack is that of Kirk Gibson. And not because of his 1988 World Series home run, but because of the absolutely ridiculous photo. And while I'm talking about the photo on the front, the one on the back is equally ridiculous. And by ridiculous, I mean hilarious.

Next up, more recognizable names of the 1990s. The truth is, I could have scanned nearly every card in the stack and if you were collecting between 1985-1995 you'd know these guys almost immediately. A couple guys not making the cut include Walt Weiss, Trevor Hoffman and Cecil Fielder, for example. But onto guys that *did* make the cut.

We've got Albert Belle, whose captured here grimacing toothily. That's a word, right? Maybe it's toothly. Either way, you have to believe he's watching a long foul ball here knowing his *just* missed mashing another home run. He's probably mostly remembered for corked bats and umpire locker rooms, but in 12 seasons he mashed 381 home runs. That's a productive career.

Next up, we've got Kent Hrbek. As a kid, I really only knew this guy because I remembered his odd last name. That is the honest truth. I knew he was a 1B for the Twins, and he had an odd last name. Upon reading about him now, I didn't realize he was a native of the Gopher state and a career Twin. Now, thanks to Mike, Kent is more than just a funny last name ;)


Rounding out this post, we've got Jack McDowell. Remember this guy? I do. I remember the Jays facing him and the White Sox in the 1993 ALCS, the year he won the Cy Young Award and was an all-star. He's featured on 3 cards in the 1994 Collector's Choice set, the other two being commemorative of him being a "Wins Leader" and having won the aforementioned Cy Young. And I seem to remember this guy being super tough to face in Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball. Just typing that makes me want to bust out a Super Nintendo and play that game. Too bad both the game and console are long gone. Man that game was great. Just like this trade package. Thanks again Mike!

Thanks for reading.

Richard.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The ultimate odd ball

Like many of the bloggers out there, I'm not as young as I used to be. I've been in and out of the hobby since I was a kid, and have collected many different cards many different ways. So seeing odd ball or regional cards is nothing new. If you're a team collector that lives in the region of your team, there is almost no limit to the stuff you'll see. Just off the top of my head I can think of those awesome Fire Safety issues, numerous food issues (Post, Kraft, Dempster's, Maxwell's House) and restaurant issues (McDonald's, Denny's) before getting into stadium giveaways and licensed/collector issues.

As a player collector, depending on the player, I guess, you get to look across regions. This, for me, is a lot of fun, because now different foods, restaurants, etc enter the mix. I love the fact that with Joe Carter, I am looking for regional issues from the Cubs, Padres and Indians, in addition to the Blue Jays -- and that's just because that's what I know about. I'm not even aware of any regional issues that show Joe with the Orioles or Giants.

And the truth is, in most cases, I know what I'm looking for. I mean, sure there is an issue here or there, or a variation I don't know about. Actually, there are dozens of variations I don't know about, but many of the issues are on checklists if you go about this methodically (which I don't -- I go from memory a lot and end up with duplicates now and again as a result).

But every now and again, something like this beauty appears on your radar. For my money, this card defines odd ball. I've never seen it before, never heard of it, and don't even know where to begin with trying to find it on a checklist like Beckett or in the Standard Catalog. This is the kind of card that makes it into your collection without ever even being a consideration on your wantlist.

And for the minimum bid of $2.99 from a local seller, there was no way I was passing this up.

Check this out! Without even looking at the back it's obvious that this was printed by a photography studio. The feel of the stock screams photo. There is an odd, almost powder-coat like texture on the blue parts of this photo on the front, and based on that banner, one has to assume this was used as advertising during the 1991 All-Star game hosted at Skydome.

On the back we have what is very clearly a sticker. It is advertising 'High Five Photography', 'Legends of the Game' and 'Rewards by Design'. To be honest, I have never heard of 'High Five Photography' or 'Rewards by Design', but 'Legends of the Game' is a sports cards and memorabilia shop in Toronto. I haven't been there in probably 7-8 years, but that address on Google Maps/Streetview suggests they are still in operation. Too bad the internet wasn't invented sooner so that they could advertise a web site on there...otherwise I have to phone them and risk talking to a real person ;)

In all seriousness, it might be fun to travel down there one day and check them out. It'd actually be interesting to take this card with me and see what they have to say about it. I wonder how it was distributed, if they printed other players, or different years/series. It might be interesting to see their reaction to even seeing this card again, or what they'd think of the idea that I bought it on eBay.

Now that I've typed that, it almost feels like I *have* to go on just such an adventure.

Thanks for reading!

Richard.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Finding whales isn't supposed to be this easy

To say the least, 2016 is off to a good start. On the last day of January, I managed to pickup a very obscure 2003 Canadian HoF Induction card of Joe Carter, and then part-way through February I managed to snag a 1995 Oh Henry! Joe Carter. Given my odds-defying success rate, it would only make sense that March be a total dryspell right?

Wrong. Because look what arrived in my mailbox the first Friday of March, via a trade with Chris over at a-blog-to-be-named-later.blogspot.ca. Yessir, that is a 1990 Leaf Preview Joe Carter. And the crazy thing is that this isn't even the only thing he sent.

Joining 1990 Leaf Preview Joe on the trek North is this sweet Panini Immactulate Joe Carter numbered /25. I really like the colours in this card, and it's a fairly clean signature, too. I've been conditioned by reading other blogs to look at Panini cards and wonder about this missing logos. In this case, it's not a distraction, actually. The photo is the type you'd expect on a Joe Carter card, so there was minimal airbrushing required, I suppose. Anyway, great card.
 
And if you've ever traded with Chris, you know he doesn't cut corners. Well more than 2 Joe Carters were in the package. There are easily 2 dozen print variations that I needed (yes, *needed*), along with a couple "normal" Carters I didn't yet have in my collection, and if that wasn't enough, he included some other odds and ends for my son because of comments I made in this post (more cards he sent). Beyond spectacular.


Honestly, this has been a crazy few months so far. The pace can't continue, but I'm gonna ride it out as long as I can!

Thanks again for the trade, Chris. These are awesome cards to add to the collection!

Thanks for reading.

Richard.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Best laid plans

Last night was supposed to be my catch-up night. I have a couple trade posts to finish up, and after busting through a couple wax boxes of Collector's Choice, have to update my Zistle collection to reflect what I have to trade. But this plan quickly came unwound because I checked the mail on the way to my computer.

Last week I bought a lot of 1994 silver signatures. I did it because it cost me less than $6. The pictures made it a bit tough to quantify how many cards were there, and the auction description was a bit vague. But I was confident it wasn't a full set, and for the price, I couldn't turn it up. The auction images showed some HoFers so I knew I was getting some bang for the buck, and figured at best, I might add 2-300 cards to my set. What I didn't expect was what now appears to be a near-set of probably more than 500 cards. Truth is, I haven't even made it all the way through the box yet. I quickly checked and didn't find any Jordan, Jeter or A-Rod cards, which I didn't expect anyway, but what I did get was some Griffey (one of which I won't keep for my set since it's miscut), Piazza, Nolan Ryan, George Brett, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and a pile more. There are so many cards here that I watched nearly the entire Pirates/Phillies game on MLB.tv and barely made it half-way through the box. It's still early, but it's very possible that by the time I make it through this box, I'll need fewer cards to complete my silver signature set than I will to complete the base set. Oh, and now that I've started this, I kinda need to finish it to clear off my desk (am on my laptop right now) since that is where my scanner is, and I need it to wrap-up the aforementioned trade posts.

So, my apologies to my fellow bloggers out there, to whom I owe a couple trade posts, but, as I'm sure you can appreciate, you've been bumped by more cards. Best laid plans...

Oh, and if you're a collector of either Lord of the Ring cards, or Upper Deck golf cards, let me know. The seller book-ended the box with both (including a couple unopened packs of golf) to protect the cards, and I have no interest in keeping that stuff, so it's free to a good home, if you just let me know.

Thanks for reading!

Richard.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Definitely not just another baseball card trade


Mike, the curator of Not Another Baseball Card Blog, only appeared on my radar a few months ago, but since then we've exchanged cards a couple times. He's a Toronto Blue Jays collector (among other interests), which makes finding stuff to send his way really easy for me.

And he wasted no time reaching out when I mentioned my plans to chase the Collector's Choice set. Before even really knowing what cards I'd need, he had everything set aside and ready to go. As it turned out, I needed nearly everything he had for trade -- a bunch of Series 2 stuff, including some silver sigs and a John Kruk from Series 1.

And here's the cool thing: The same day Mike's trade package arrived, so too did a couple of wax boxes I ordered (one from each series). I ripped through Series 1 already, and after all was said and done, I finished my Series 1 base set. I was pretty pumped, as it came right down to the last pack to pick off the last two cards I needed. But guess what card I didn't pull? Not from a Series 1 Jumbo box and not from a Series 1 Wax box. That's right. After 56 packs of Series 1, for a grand total of 832 cards I didn't pull a single Series 1 John Kruk card.

So here's to you, Mike. There was almost two dozen cards in the pack you sent me -- including some awesome stuff (read: Silver sig Cecil Fielder team card, Dave Justice checklist among other big names of the 90s), and they will get their due, but since this card was the linchpin for my Series 1 base card success, I think a single-card post in your honour is the way to go.




Cheers, man. Thanks again for hooking me up!

Richard.