Friday, April 29, 2011

The Round-Up For 04/29/11

Yep, I'm still alive, folks. I've had a nasty case of bronchitis that I'm still getting over, but I'm getting there. Respiratory ailments aren't conducive to sorting through thousands of dusty old sports cards or going to flea markets, so I've been laying low. Getting better, though, so I'll have some new stuff for y'all soon. Here's what's been going on in the meantime:

I have a trade post to get out there yet, as Ryan from This Card Is Cool became the first person to offer me cards of a Player Of The Month during that month! I'll get those scanned (finally) after the weekend and show y'all what Ryan sent me, but in the meantime, thanks again, Ryan!

Speaking of Ryan (whose musings also appeared there), why didn't you guys tell me I got quoted all over the place in the new Beckett Sports Card Monthly? That's some awesome stuff! I knew Kevin from The Mojo Beard was in there, but not Ryan and definitely not me! I feel like I've arrived. Hopefully some kids read what I said about how awesome it is that 25 year old cards of Hall of Famers can be had for next to nothing and get motivated. Are there any more of you out in TV Land who made it into the new issue? Regardless of who got quoted where, they did a nice job on the issue, which spotlights the 1980s in cards, across sports, and it's well worth picking up.

As I said, I've been on sick leave, so aside from a few Heritage singles I needed, I've picked up very little in the way of cards over the past week and change, and I've missed all the fun you lot have been having with Gypsy Queen (possibly altogether, if the wow-a-bomb-hit-this-place appearance of one of my local Targets and the lack of product is any indication...has retail sold out everywhere, too?). Keep me in mind for base cards, folks! The set looks way better than we were all expecting!

Gotta go take care of a monitor problem downstairs, but I wanted to let y'all know I'm still here. I will report back when I've got more to report!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Review: 21: The Illustrated Journal of Outsider Baseball #1!

(Full disclosure: I got free stuff. I'm not affiliated with the person I got the free stuff from. I just really dig their work, man.)

I arrived home from my weekend to a somewhat large-ish envelope from Gary Cieradkowski that I wasn't expecting, but I knew what was inside as soon as I saw it.

Yes, indeed, it was the first issue of 21: The Illustrated Journal of Outsider Baseball! Inside was a note from Gary, thanking me for plugging the heck out of his other creations (which was hardly necessary, since they're awesome and I don't think Gary could've stopped me from doing so if he tried), and telling me to enjoy the first issue! That, my friends, is a nice mail day. Thank you, Gary!

So, how is it? First off, let me just say that the presentation, which is key when you're taking web content and translating it to the print medium, is spectacular. When I'd read that Gary was going to be publishing on a thick card stock, and that because of this, issues would be a hefty $25 US shipped, I have to say that I was a bit skeptical, and to be fair, the price is still a little daunting to someone like me who needs to save their pennies to do anything, even with each issue being a limited-run item. However, the finished product looks and feels fantastic. The card stock is gorgeous, easy to read, great to handle and it's sturdy as all get-out. Another beautiful thing about 21 is that the black ink has (forgive me, those in printing, for I forget what it's called, exactly) a sort of relief effect to it. It's raised ever-so-slightly off the paper surface, and looks (and feels) terrific. Gary's great sense of aesthetics (remember, in addition to The Infinite Baseball Card Set, he did a little work on a place you may have heard of called Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and he also designed the current version of the Folger's coffee can) shines through, as always. Quality efforts like this go a long way toward justifying the continued existence of print media, which so many have written off recently.

The main content on the inside of 21 should be familiar to those of you who are regular visitors of The Infinite Baseball Card Set, as this issue features 12 stories, including Infinite Card Set-style cards, front and back, about "Jewish Baseball Pioneers & Stars". The Sandy Koufax, Moe Berg, and Lipman Pike entries were reprinted from earlier Infinite Card Set posts, and the Mose Solomon entry was posted on the site recently to promote the release of 21 #1, but there are 8 more brand-new entries in the issue, including a great pre-Tigers Hank Greenberg piece, as well as ones on Babe Ruth's one-time roommate and Major League clubhouse mainstay Jimmy Reese, legendary Texas League manager Jake Atz, and 3000 game-winning (Nope, that's not a typo...that's three THOUSAND wins!) softball pitcher Harry "Coon" Rosen to name a few. The "card" section is prefaced by a solid introduction to this issue's theme, written by Gary, and the stories on the players are as well-researched, informative and entertaining as ever. Also included in the first issue are reviews of about a half-dozen baseball books that Gary found interesting (all of which looked interesting to me as well; someday, I will have a book budget and be able to speed-read...), and of course a "letter from the editor", introducing the entire concept behind 21 to those who aren't familiar yet.

My only, very minor gripe with the first issue is that some typos did sneak in, but they don't detract from the readability of the stories, and it's understood that when you're a one-person operation treading into brand new territory, stuff happens. With issue #2 (featuring the 1933 Pittsburgh Crawfords of the Negro Leagues!), Scott Simkus of the Outsider Baseball Bulletin will be joining the staff of 21 as a writer and co-conspirator, so in addition to the fantastic information and stories that Scott will be bringing to the table, an extra set of eyes on the copy before it hits the press should help nip the typos in the bud.

Overall, though, this is a brilliant first effort, a really cool leap forward from The Infinite Baseball Card Set, and a must-own if you're a fan of the site, Gary's work, Jewish baseball players and/or obscure baseball history. 21 #1 is available now, while the very limited supplies last! Ordering information is right here!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

While I'm doing sets: 1990 Score Dream Team

As I mentioned, I picked these up last weekend at the East Dover card show. This subset of '90 Score seems to get overlooked because of how bombastic and ridiculous the '91 set is, but I like it a bunch. It's got a really classy feel, like the Scoremasters set does. I'm offering these up extra large, and without comment.

The Joy Of A Completed Redemption Set (With apologies to dayf...)

Compelling argument for Week 18 in the NFL, isn't it?

I'm actually really happy with how these cards turned out, and how they look in my binder. While they showed up in bunches rather than week-by-week and on-time, the finished product was all here by when it was supposed to be, originally. Here's hoping Topps does this again this year. Heck, here's hoping that they even play f00'ball this year!

Steve: The (second) Trade!

So, quite amazingly, after I posted this and this, my main man Steve (who is not yet one of the millions of us writing about cards) got ahold of me, and not only did he have an '87 I needed, but he also needed some '87s! Along with the Dave Parker All-Star I got for the set I'm building for a friend, some other stuff made its way into the deal.

One of the best cards of Donnie ever made, even if he looks REALLY high here.

Yet another great example of the Zen of Pedro Guerrero. He looks like he's struttin' down the block with his pimp cane here, no joke. There really aren't many guys who've had more consistently great baseball cards than Pedro Guerrero. You've got your Oscar Gambles and such, but not all of Oscar's cards really capture his Oscarness, and every damn one of Pedro's capture his Pedroness. In football, Ronnie Brown comes to mind as an example of this phenomenon...

Quick detour out of the trade post, because I got this card over a month ago and I'm pretty sure I've forgotten to post it until now. Seriously, every Ronnie Brown card I've ever seen is awesome, and this is coming from someone who, historically, has hated the Dolphins. This guy's great, probably my favorite football player to collect. OK, back to the trade...

For the home stretch, we have the new manager of the Yuma Scorpions (or is it his brother, the hitting coach?). As your 10 year old insert set cards go, this one looks pretty sharp.

Thanks again, Steve, for an easy to put together, cool trade!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

East Dover Fire Department Card Show Report!

On Sunday, I managed to drag myself out of bed and hit a card show for the first time this year. It was run by the incomparable Dr. Wax, and I had a lot of fun there. This was a first show at East Dover, and while the foot traffic wasn't what some of the dealers were hoping for, it wasn't bad, either. Plus, there were giveaway raffles for not only the attendees, but also separate ones for the dealers every 15 minutes, and (my biggest regret of the show is not getting in on this) Johnny G's had meatball subs and sausage and pepper sandwiches available! I'll definitely be at the next show, which is on May 8th (weird day, as, if Beckett's correct, there are 3 card shows in Toms River on the same day; great opportunity to get some deals, Jersey folks!), as I had a good time, and the dealers at this one were pretty cool.

Oh, you actually want to know what I got? OK, fine. As with the rest of y'all, I went into the show with a vague game plan, and didn't violate it too much.

1. Try to pick off something from my top wants.

2. Chip away at some sets, particularly 71-73.

3. See if I can find a Brooklyn Dodger or two.

4. Ditto Seattle Pilots.

5. Find some really cool and/or really weird stuff in the dime-to-quarter boxes.

Amazingly, I was able to nail down all but one of these goals. Not a lot of Brooklyn cards at the show, and what was there was a little out of my price range (I had a REALLY limited budget this time out; I spent $14 total including the $1 admission fee, and that was $4 more than I was going to limit myself to). No worries, as I've gotten plenty of Bums lately, and there'll be other shows!

Without any further ado, let's go point-by-point through the goals:

"1. Try to pick off something from my top wants."

Success! This '93 Bowman Mariano Rivera (his first non-weirdo-minor league card in a Yankee uniform, if I'm not mistaken) was $1. I'm glad I got this one out of the way, because it's a lot tougher to get than you'd think, and with Mo looking all Miami Vice on his rookie card, I think this card's going to go up a lot in the coming years. The scanner cut off a little of the bottom border, if you're wondering. It's actually pretty nicely centered, all in all.

"2. Chip away at some sets, particularly 71-73."

1971? Success! This Don Gullett rookie was a buck, and (pay no mind to the cranky scan) is in pretty nice shape. It was also on my higher priority want list, not quite in the top 20, but definitely a card I wanted. This guy was a badass before injuries got 'em.

1972? Success! Believe it or not, this wonderful '72 George Foster was free! Change was tough to come by when I first got there, and I had a $20 bill and 2 singles on me at the table I got the Gullett and a couple of other $1 cards at. The dealer was like "give me the 2 singles, and catch me next time", which was cool of him, but I made change a little while after that and brought him a single, at which point, after almost refusing the single, he told me to grab another card from the box. I'd been eyeballing George before I hesitated just a bit because the corners were a little worn, but when I went back to the box, I was like "Are you mad, man?" and I grabbed the card.

1973? Success! This Bert Blyleven was from the same dealer as the Foster and the Gullett, and it's in gorgeous shape. I ended up with a few Blylevens on the day inadvertently, because I ran into some in the cheapie bins, too (see below).

I also got my '91 Score Dream Team ever-so-close to being complete, with Frank Viola here...

...and Randy Myers showing off his clean, close shave. All I need now is Robbie Alomar, and I've got one of the weirdest subsets ever completed!

While I was at it, I got the entire '90 Dream Team set for a buck! I'll most likely do a separate spotlight post on this set, as it's as classy as the '91 set was weird.

There were some more additions to some of the sets I'm building, but I'll save those for the section on the cheapie boxes.

 "3. See if I can find a Brooklyn Dodger or two."

We already know that I whiffed on goal #3, so let's move on... 

" 4. Ditto Seattle Pilots."

Seattle Pilot cards (well, card, anyway)? Success! This was another $1 special from the Gullett/Foster/Blyleven table. Dealer there had a ton of reasonably priced pre-'80 cards. With this, I've got all the low-number '70 Pilots done, and I'm within 6 cards of having every base Topps Seattle Pilots card. Plus, it fit within my "one Seattle Pilot card per month" budget that I mentioned here!

"5. Find some really cool and/or really weird stuff in the dime-to-quarter boxes."

How's this? I'd say it's a success at $.20. It's got big creases at the bottom left and top right corners, but it's centered well, bright, the corners are sharp and it's a friggin' second year Mike Schmidt card for less than a quarter! Funny thing is, I missed it on the first pass I did through the box it was in! I don't think it was a mistake, and the dealer in question counted through the stack of cards I pulled, so, booyah!

From cool to weird, here's Motorboat (or, on this card, Motor-Boat) Jones! Ol' Motorboat never made it to the bigs, but he did make it onto this gem of a card, which was a dime.

I got this Mariano Rivera and about 9 others from the same dime box. Pretty happy about boosting that collection.

In the same set of boxes, I put about 8 more dents in my Cramer Baseball Legends collection, including Walter Johnson here!

Back at the 20 cent box, I got a couple of '78 O-Pee-Chees, including ol' Captain America of Les Expos here, and Cecil Cooper, but I figured I'd show off the Expo given the card's maker.

Look at that crazy alternate card stock bilingual goodness!

I rounded out my visit to that box with some early Donruss. I got '81 and '82 Blyleven, and a few more '81s including our friend KONG!

Nice shot of him in front of the ivy at Wrigley.

There was one other item at the show that I spent pretty much the entire show eyeballing. It was my last purchase of the day, and my most expensive at a whopping $3. It didn't fit into any of my goals for the show, and it's not even a trading card, but it is awesome. Behold!


It's got a mailing label on it and there's a little bit of edge wear, but it's in great shape otherwise. The subscription card is still inside, and the interior pages are gorgeous! I've actually looked at a few of these on eBay, but it's always easier to pick something like this up when it's right in front of you, isn't it? Awesome way to wrap up a day at the card show!

w0000 Harper!

For those who don't read Beckett, they just posted a pic of Bryce Harper's '11 Topps Pro Debut card. I think it's pretty awesome lookin'. Glad to see the warpaint's returned! On the downside, I'm gonna have to buy a whole mess of Pro Debut now. I wish the product was coming out sooner, too, so I could bring the card to this. Man, I've only got like a month to actually track down a Harper card that I won't have to sell a kidney for, or it's baseball city!

(Thanks in advance to Topps and Beckett for not killing me for reposting this.)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Saturday's Flea Market Haul

Despite having a card show to go to on Sunday, I threw another $5 at my friend for his dime box. Here's how that went:

Don't get too excited, Raiders fans! This one's in pretty busted shape. Weird bends to it.

This one's OK, though, Giants fans, and will be available for trade!

This one, on the other hand, I'll be keeping. I don't have many cards of people with "Spider" in their name.

Hey, another mail-in glossy card I needed!

Here's a Boggs card that I needed, surprisingly enough. I've gotten a ton of '90 Fleer lately, so it's a bit of a shock that I didn't have this.

Weird little Gonzo minor league card!

Hey, remember Javy Lopez? Nah, me neither. ;)

These Museum Collection cards are downright AWESOME. They were shiny diamond before shiny diamond were shiny diamond. I'll take 'em, potential traders (once I officially lift the trade embargo)!

All this, and there was even a RoboCop 2 sticker in the box for my girlfriend! This statue BETTER happen.

The rest of the box was similar to the last one, with a handful of late '80s/early '90s cards, some basketball cards, some older stuff and some weird stuff. This wasn't the end of my flea market day, though. While I was at my friend's table, a friend of his came up and started talking to him. My friend had a pile of Archie comics on his table, and made a reference to "knowing the artist", which his friend kinda shrugged off as "oh, that was a million years ago". Having heard the friend's first name and being a comic nerd, I was like "Wait, Howard Bender?", and indeed, it was. I'm not a big Archie guy so I didn't know his work on the title (nothing against Archie, just not familiar beyond that issue where he teamed up with the Punisher), but I do remember Howard's work for DC (he worked on Superman, Dial "H" For Hero and All-Star Squadron, to name a few). Howard was nice enough to sign one of the Archies for me, and even drew a quick sketch of Archie in the margin! Thanks again, Howard!