Friday, February 27, 2015

R.I.P. Leonard Nimoy

This morning I was saddened to see that Leonard Nimoy had passed away at the age of 83 years old due to complications from COPD. He had been admitted to the hospital a few days ago because of chest pains and I had a bad feeling, especially at his age.

Like most people he will always be remembered as Mr. Spock from the Star Trek series and multiple movies though he was so much more than that. In total he appeared as Spock in 15 different Star Trek incarnations, including television, movies and video games plus a handful of short videos, The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory. With his most recent appearance in Star Trek Into Darkness where he worked with Zachary Quinto, who has taken on the role of Spock in the new movies.

Initially he tried to separate his true self from the character, his first memoir was even titled “I Am Not Spock” which he followed up 20 years later with a second book “I Am Spock” where he had come to terms with the way people remember him. He does have quite a bit of range though, often appearing in detective shows and westerns early in his career along with some of the best cult shows around like Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.

He truly will be missed.

Nimoy collectors do not have a shortage when it comes to collecting his cards, which are mostly Star Trek related, but he does appear in various Donruss releases. Rittenhouse has plenty of Nimoy autographs and relic cards in their sets but you can expect to spend quite a bit for his cards. Even before his death his autographs were running the price of a car payment and now that will probably double.

One of my favorite recent cards of his is the Star Trek Shadowbox card, I picked up the Scotty shadowbox card when they were released and was hoping to add a Spock card at a reasonable price but that will have to wait now for the eBay Toads to pass.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Redemption Card Waiting Game...

It is that time of year to update everyone on my redemption status of the 2012 Topps Strata Bernard Pierce Auto Relic Rookie card that I redeemed on 2/26/13.

Well, I am still waiting 2 years and counting.

I could call and request a replacement but I am not a fan of getting something that Topps considers “Comparative in value”, I like the Clear Cut Auto Relic rookie cards and that is what I want. I would be ecstatic if they were to replace it with a Russell Wilson or Nick Foles version but I don’t see that happening. I would even be happy with Robert Turbin or Michael Floyd but with my luck I would end up with Isaiah Pead.

Pierce got in to 13 games and rushed for 366 yards so he had plenty of time to sign some autographs. He did sign some of the lower serial # cards but I am still sitting card-less.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

When Is A Change Not A Change?

The Cleveland Browns unveiled their new "logo" recently, way to think outside the box but push right up against the sides. The difference is a deeper saturated orange and a brown facemask, not really a paradigm shift in thinking for the team management.

I know that the Browns are the unique team with no logo on their helmet but I would actually like to see their new Dawg Pound logo on the helmets.

Even the old Dawg Pound logo would be cool

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I Am Seeing Double

Sometimes you wonder when exactly a designer gave up on building a set. In my recent JustCommons order I had picked two 2013 Panini USA Baseball Champions Griffey cards (#29 & #41) and I knew the cards were similar but forget similar, the cards are exactly the same. The only difference is the card number on the back.
Why would a company do this? There are plenty of Griffey images available from the 2006 World Baseball Classic. There are other players who have two cards in the base set and they have two different images for their cards. This is just lazy.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Pain Of A Failed Prospect

I just endured a beating (in price) that has taught me a serious lesson on prospecting. Fortunately I did not purchase the card I had pulled it from a box but in this case I ended up missing out on a lot of money when I walked away from an insane offer.

In 2006 I pulled a 2006 Bowman Chrome Matt Leinart Rookie Autograph blue refractor #41/75 while I was busting a box in a friend’s card shop. At the time every one was seeking Vince Young, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and even LenDale White and their cards were shooting up in price every day. There was a Leinart collector who frequented the store and word was passed on that I pulled the card, he made an offer of $275. I turned him down and decided to sit on the card because Leinart was slated to be the future of the Arizona Cardinals organization and I figured I would be able to cash in big time after he proved his potential.

He started 11 games in 2006 and while he didn’t burn up the field he was ok for a rookie. Even then I held on to the card hoping for a better sophomore season. Needless to say he played in only 21 more games over the next 6 seasons and ended his career in 2012 with a total of 4,065 yards, 15 TDs and 21 INTs and a 70.2% QB rating.

For a number of years now I have been trying to sell the card hoping to find that diehard USC fan, I finally found a buyer. The final selling price… $3.50

I left $271.50 on the table and I am now done with prospecting, anything I pull that is hot and I don’t collect gets put up for sale.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

What If? A Yankees Interference

Today is the day that Seattle Mariners pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training in Peoria, Arizona. It is also the day that the Yankees pitchers and catchers report so today is an ideal day for a What If? card based on a significant play involving recently retired Yankee great Derek Jeter.

It is Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS, the Orioles are up 4-3 over the Yankees in the 8th inning and Yankee Captain Derek Jeter is up to bat. Orioles reliever Armando Benitez winds up and the pitch… Jeter smacks the ball deep to right field. Right Fielder Tony Tarasco backs up to wall and lines up beneath it to make the easy catch but a 12-year old boy, Jeffrey Maier, reaches over the wall and grabs the ball mere inches above Tarasco’s glove.

Right Field umpire Rich Garcia rules the play a homerun instead of the correct ruling of fan interference. This tied up the game and in the 11th inning Bernie Williams knocks a walk-off homer to win the game, the Yankees go on to win the series 4-1 games. Garcia later admitted that he made the wrong call but it didn’t matter.

To Orioles fans this is a deep open wound to their heart so what better way than to add to the pain with a What If? triple relic card. The pieces are Jeter’s bat, Tarasco’s glove and the ball caught by Maier.

Don't worry Cubs fans, I didn't forget your missed interference call but you will have to wait until another day for that What If? card.

Friday, February 20, 2015

It May Be Late But It Will Finally Happen

The fight for the ages is finally set, Floyd Mayweather Jr. versus Manny Pacquiao on May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

After years of blaming each other and coming up with reasons not to fight the talk is finally done, the time and place is set and we will see who unifies the Welterweight world titles (Mayweather- WBA & WBC and Pacquiao WBO). Most will agree that this fight is probably 5 years to late but it will still be entertaining to see how it all goes down.

Mayweather collectors are very limited in their options with a handful of cards in various Brown’s Boxing, Ringside and Sportkings releases. Pacquiao collectors on the other hand have more options with Pacman appearing in a number of Topps releases over the past 4 years, which include official autographs.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Wallet Card Goes On A Nature Walk

I am surprised it took me this long to realize I didn’t have a picture of my Wallet Card Shaq with a Saguaro cactus.

Arizona is the only state where the Saguaro cactus grows naturally, they also grow naturally in Northern Mexico and a small section of California has a collection of replanted Saguaros, so they have become an unofficial symbol of that state and an icon of the Southwest desert.

There is such a connection with the cactus in the state that the State Flower is the Saguaro Cactus Blossom and the State Bird, Cactus Wren, calls the Saguaro home. In the past the Native Americans in the area would pick the fruit for food, they would collect water from them and even after one died it was utilized because the ribs from a dead Saguaro were used to make tools and shelter.

These cacti are in my neighborhood and are placed along a watershed. The needles can grow up to 3 inches so Wallet Card Shaq fit in their nicely with the needles holding him in securely while I took the pictures. Here are a couple of pictures so you can get an idea of how big a Saguaro can get. This specific Saguaro is about 10-12 feet tall and isn’t even the tallest one in the area. They can grow to around 75-80 feet and are assumed to live up to 200 years, though there may be some older. They actually do not even grow their first arm until they hit 75 years so when you see one beginning to grow an arm you know that your parents or grandparents would have been infants when the cactus began growing.

The larger holes that you see are animal burrows or bird nests and the smaller holes are where animals or birds were eating the flesh.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Trip Down Error Memory Lane

I was hunting down a 1990 Topps card on my Griffey want list and I came across another card that actually was the first “Monster” card that I remember hearing about when I returned to the hobby in 1992.

At the time Griffey was young and tearing up the league and both his 1989 Upper Deck #1 and 1990 Leaf #245 were hot but it was an error card of some kid from Auburn that really set the fire on Beckett’s pages.

The card… 1990 Topps Frank Thomas No Name On Front (or NNO) card. The card was selling for hundreds in the early 1990s but after a Hall of Fame career that included multiple MVP Awards, a .301 lifetime batting average and 521 homeruns the card is selling for big bucks, a BGS 9 sold for nearly $4000 recently. Even raw copies are topping $800 and what surprises me is that the 2010 Topps NNO reprint is selling for $15 and up, more than the corrected base 1990 Topps version which can be picked up for under $5 shipped.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Suns Redemption

My final step from my box break of 2013-14 Immaculate Basketball that I won last year is the Alex Len Rookie Patch Autograph redemption, which I received from Panini today. The card, #/99, is pretty cool. A nice image of Len along with a multi-colored patch, which appears to be part of the “N” from his nameplate on the back of the jersey, and a legible on-card autograph.

Len is an integral part of a young Suns team that is on the way up, a team that missed the playoffs last year by one game and are currently sitting at the #8 seed in the West at the halfway point of the season. This is a nice addition to my Suns collection.

In all it took 4 months and ten days to receive the redemption card.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Happy President's Day

On this President’s Day I decided to cover a Presidential card that has eluded me, and at the prices it sells at I do not anticipate picking one up any time soon. The card… 1990 Topps George Bush.

In 1989 then Topps CEO Arthur Shorin presented President Bush with 100 specially made cards depicting him in his Yale uniform. Like a standard 1990 Topps baseball card the back included all of the stats from his two years he played baseball after returning to school following his discharge at the end of WWII.
 It was initially announced that only 100 of these cards were made, though people have pointed out that typical Topps sheets contained 132 cards, and Bush signed one card and gave it to Shorin leaving him with 99 cards which he handed out to friends and family. In late 1990 two different shop owners in Illinois claimed to have pulled these rare cards from packs, when interviewed by People magazine both dealers had a copy of the card in hand. Topps eventually announced that an ex-employee had stolen at least 70 of the Bush cards and was selling them privately.

At this point nobody knows how many of these cards are floating around though it has been brought to the attention of collectors that the original 100 cards given to Bush in 1989 have a special glossy coating unlike other coatings while the cards that were stolen (and some which may have inadvertently been packed out) do not have this glossy coating.

Both cards are considered authentic because they were printed by Topps and only the coating is different. PSA has made the decision to add an additional line on their tag for one of the Bush cards which states “White House Issue”.

I have never even seen one of these cards, glossy or not, in person and while I would love to add this to my collection as a prominent center piece I am not a big fan of the $750+ price tag. Though if I did have the money in my pocket this is one of the cards that I would actually consider purchasing because of how unique it is.

Friday, February 13, 2015

JustCommons Mail Day

I love Justcommons, I was able to pick up 25 Griffey cards (plus a duplicate by accident) that I needed for my collection plus a Buhner ghost card, 27 cards total, for $16.29 including free shipping. This is the second time I have ordered from them and I couldn't be happier.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Art Gallery: 2008 Topps Indiana Jones Masterpieces

This month’s Art Gallery display is from the 2008 Topps Indiana Jones Masterpieces release. The artist is Brent Woodside, a freelance illustrator who has worked with Topps on a couple of occasions including Star Wars sketch cards, Lord of the Rings sketch cards and two different Indiana Jones releases.

When I was looking for an Indiana Jones sketch card, one of my favorite movies as a kid, I wanted to get a card depicting Indiana Jones and I wanted it to be from the Masterpieces release because I did not cards for the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull movie. This limited my search, and it took roughly a year to find a card that fit within my sketch card parameters of reasonable price, specific subject matter and correct release. I finally found this beauty a few months ago for around $6 shipped.

Many of the lower priced cards are rather generic, there are plenty of skulls, natives and monkeys. You can also find a number of Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf’s character) which I didn’t cards for his character. There are quite a few amazing Indiana Jones cards featuring Indy but they are quite expensive so this find was special.

The one thing that I do not like about the two Indiana Jones sketch cards releases is that so many are similar. If you do a search and you begin with the lowest priced cards you will see card after card after card that are almost identical except a line changed here or a color added there. The cool thing about this card is every detail about Indy is there right down to the scruff of his beard.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

RIP Jerry Tarkanian

For the second time in less than a week the world lost another legendary college basketball coach with the passing of Jerry Tarkanian at the age of 84 today. In 31 years coaching Division I college teams; Long Beach State, UNLV & Fresno State, he went 729-201 making him the #21 coach in collegiate wins. During that time he won 20 or more games a season 29 times, went to four Final Fours (all at UNLV) and won a National Championship in 1990 while with UNLV.

Besides the superior UNLV teams of the 80s & 90s The Shark is known for his towel chewing, which became his trademark of sorts and was eventually memorialized in statue form on the UNLV campus, and for his constant battles with the NCAA. He even spent some time coaching in the NBA with the Spurs in 1992 going 9-11 before being fired due to conflict with the owner.
Tarkanian has plenty of official cards by Press Pass, Donruss and Upper Deck plus a couple of cards from his NBA coaching days. He also has plenty of licensed autographs as well as some IP/TTM autographs and pricing runs from around $5 and up with the licensed cards selling more in the $20 and up range.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Vintage Card Of The Month: 1948 Leaf Pirates

This month’s VCoM comes from the 1948 Leaf Pirate release, each card was included in packs of Pirate Bubble Gum. Around this time companies began to realize that there was a market for the cards so they began moving away from the illustrated entertainment cards and began evolving in to sports card makers. Leaf, Topps and Fleer all rose in the 1950s in the sports card world. The 1948 Pirates release is actually one of Leaf’s final non-sports releases and by 1949 they had released baseball and football sets only.

Similar to the illustrated sets of the 1930s and 1940s these cards are bright, reds and yellows were pretty much the standard. One thing that you will notice though is that the printing used here is different than previous sets, the printers used a process called Ben-Day printing where colored dots are used to create various colors and shading, this is a relatively inexpensive way to adjust colors. It is pretty common in comic books and it reminds me of the activity books I had as a kid where I could use a wet paint brush to create water color paintings.

There are 168 cards on the checklist, the big names include Blackbeard (Edward Teach) and Anne Bonney. This is one of the more difficult sets to hunt down, the big name cards rarely show up and even cards in rough condition tend to sell higher than you would expect.

Greaves was not what you would consider a typical pirate, he came upon the career by mistake as he was trying to escape his violent master. While swimming across the Carlisle Bay he climbed on to a ship assuming it to be a merchant vessel but it turned out to be the ship of the pirate Captain Hawkins, a very violent pirate. To keep from being killed he joined the pirate crew but eventually got in a duel versus Hawkins, who he killed. Greaves was selected the new pirate captain by the crew. He eventually retired but was captured later and sentenced to die, he escaped from prison during the Port Royale earthquake of 1692. Eventually he was pardoned and became a well-known philanthropist.

The card is solid and the card board is stiff. Some of the colors are strong but there are areas where it has been rubbed away, noticeable in the green. There is quite a bit of aging discoloration on the front and back. The back has three spots where it appears that the card may have been taped in to an album.
I wonder if I can still send 5 wrappers and 25 cents to Leaf to get the specially designed 32 page album.

Monday, February 9, 2015

RIP Dean Smith

This past weekend the world lost a basketball genius with the passing of Dean Smith at the age of 83.
Smith changed the game of college basketball during his 44 years as a coach, 8 years as an assistant coach at Kansas, Air Force and UNC and 36 years as the head coach at North Carolina. During those 36 years he racked up 879 wins, making him #4 on the All-Time Wins list, additionally he has 35 winning seasons, 26 NCAA tournament appearances, 13 ACC titles, 11 Final Fours and 2 National Championships. He also won 4 National Coach of the Year awards an Olympic Gold Medal, A Presidential Medal of Freedom and in 1983 he was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame and as a player he won a National Championship in 1952 when playing at Kansas.
He wasn’t just a coach, he was a mentor. He made sure his players excelled on the court and in the classroom and with a 96% graduation rate he rated as one of the best coaches academically. Even coaches and players that played against him had only nice things to say about him following his passing.
Because he was such a prominent coach in college basketball he had plenty of cards, mainly Press Pass, Donruss and Upper Deck including a number of limited parallels and official autographs. His autographs are going for well over $50 with some of them even being priced in the thousands.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Quick Peek: 2015 Topps Star Wars Masterwork

*EDIT- A "Thank you" to Sooz, from Cardboard Problem and Topps, she left a comment with a link to Topps Star Wars Facebook which includes the checklist for Masterwork along with some very cool preview images. Here is the Topps Star Wars link

Once again Topps is turning to Star Wars, the first of 5 Star Wars releases this year, but this time going high-end with their 2015 Star Wars Masterwork release scheduled for a mid-February release. Each $250-275 box will include 4 packs for a total of 20 cards. Each box will include an on-card autograph, a sketch card and two other “Premium” inserts (read this as manufactured relics).

There are some positives like autographs of the main characters including Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, multi-signature autograph booklets, limited sketch cards and movie prop and costume relics. But like your typical Topps release there are plenty of parallels (4 per base card while inserts have 6 parallels each.) and no matter how “Groundbreaking” Clay Luraschi claims it to be manufactured relics are not “taking collectability to new heights”. Some of the manufactured relics include stamps and weapon medallions plus for some reason they decided to create autograph cards that contains a fragment of the pen used to sign the cards. I don’t know why anyone would want a cool autograph with the nib of a pen attached.

In the end this is the type of product where you leave others to pay the upfront price of the box and instead hunt down the singles that interest you when they begin to flood the secondary market. I love Star Wars releases and I am sure that even at such a high price point people will still purchase boxes I think companies are definitely going about creating value the wrong way when they insert fake relics and autographs of Background Stormtrooper #2 in to a product like this.


Defining Moments base, Rainbow Foil parallel #/299, Metal parallel #/10 & Gold parallel #1/1


Manufactured relics


Thursday, February 5, 2015

I Think I Will Pass

The other day when I was working on the Lynch inscription card I came across an Isiah Pead inscription card that just seems disturbing.

In 2012 Pead was my Albatross card, the player that seems to always show up as the “Hit” in a box and hangs around your neck like dead weight. I have nothing against him as a person but I am just sick of seeing him in card form and this just doesn’t seem to help the cause.