Thursday, April 30, 2020

A Few More Onyx Vintage Cards Arrived

Last week we talked a bit in this forum about the 2020 Onyx Vintage set, and how for a bit over $40, I received four prospect cards in their "hobby box". Granted, two of them had autographs, though one was a redemption slip for an autographed Luis Patino card, rather than the card itself. I wonder if they were counting on "breakage"?

I expressed a bit of chagrin about the whole thing, while also celebrating that these are beautiful cards and that feature every team's top 1-2 prospects, along with a few legendary players done up in the same style. I'm not sure I'll be buying a second hobby box - but let me say for the record that Onyx immediately redeemed my slip for the Patino autographed card, as you'll see to your left. Got it in yesterday's mail.

But then check this out. The entire reason I got interested in Onyx Vintage in the first place because they had a lovely card of San Francisco Giants prospect Joey Bart - whom I collect. I bought the hobby box for fortysomething dollars because I was hoping to land that card. I did not land that card. So I looked on eBay for a single. They're definitely out there, and most of the completed auctions for it are closing around $15 for the card.

Yet I saw another auction for 4 Onyx Vintage 2020 cards that started bidding at $2.25 - including the Joey Bart card. What the hell, I bid on the thing. Figured it would bid up to at least $15, and yet....I won the auction for $2.25. That's a bit better than I did on the hobby box, despite that these four cards don't have autographs. Ah, I'll just go to a bunch of minor league games this year with the cards in my hands and get the autographs myself, and......oh wait.

So here are my 4 new Onyx cards. I know Mackenzie Gore - he's supposed to be a beast of a pitching prospect for the Padres (have I ever mentioned that if the Giants don't win their division, it's the Padres I want to lose to? Always. Still true). I like $2.25 for four cards better than $40+ for four cards, how about you?

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

For a Few More Antonellis

As I'm sure I mentioned a couple of times already, the realization that to collect baseball cards once more meant I could find validation in building sets my way - i.e. individual players, teams or Frankensets - was totally liberating. I'd labored under the assumption for many years that card collecting was mostly about chasing the big-dollar cards and/or about completing sets - preferably by buying them in one fell swoop. So I stayed away.

Now that I'm back, one of the guys I'm collecting is Johnny Antonelli. I talked about that a couple of weeks ago. I was able to pull together a few new ones the past couple of weeks, courtesy of a Sportlots order. This one you see here is from 1953, Topps #106, when Antonelli had just returned from two years away from baseball, having completed his military service. His Boston Braves were about to become the Milwaukee Braves, and he would go 12-12 for them that year with a 3.18 ERA. This now 67-year-old card has seen better days, but it sure looks better in my collection than wherever it was beforehand.

Antonelli was traded to the New York Giants in 1954, where he'd go on to win the World Series with young Willie Mays that year. He went 21-7 with a 2.30 ERA, made the All-Star team and finished third in the MVP voting, after Mays and Ted Kluszewski. Here's what his Topps #119 card looked like that year, right before the season was to begin:

The 1955 Bowman set that followed that year was an unusual one, with each player encased in a television set (!). Here's card #124 from 1955 Bowman:

These last two cards are a relatively recent reprint and an artifact. First, a Topps reprint of one of his Braves cards, followed by a 2002 Topps New York Giants "Super Teams '54" card. I think now that I have this one, I could totally use this entire set, and will commence upon collecting it presently. 

Monday, April 27, 2020

Check Out These New Pablos of Mine

I'm sure it's possible that I mentioned it here before, maybe? Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants baseball club is my favorite player of baseball. I'm collecting his baseball cards. My collection is growing. Here are a few new ones I thought you might appreciate.

This relic you see to your left is a 2014 Topps Trajectory Relic, #TR-PS. What's funny is that even a simple search online turns up a version of this that's numbered #/99, and looks exactly like this one; there's another with the same card number that has Pablo in an orange uniform throwing the ball. So I guess we'll have to track those down, too. Next!

Here we have #672/819 in the 2008 Donruss Extra Elite Edition rookie cards. "The attached autograph is an official autograph signed by Pablo Sandoval. The autograph was obtained and is guaranteed by Donruss Playoff LP." This is when people still thought Pablo was going to be a catcher. Buster Posey, also coming up through the farm system, would have something to say about that.

I really dig this autograph card here from Topps 2010 T-206 minis, encased in a Piedmont housing. I guess they call them Mini Piedmont Framed Autographs. This one's TA-PS. 

Finally, a relatively straightforward Topps Heritage 2014 Clubhouse Collection relic card, #CCR-PS. I've got a few more Pablo gems on the way, and I'll be sure to give you a heads-up when they've arrived.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

The Dashed Promise of the 1972 Giants

One of the first team sets I completed was that of the 1972 San Francisco Giants. Mostly, it's because I love the retro look of these cards, with the marquee letters, the stars etc. When you look at the names that the Giants assembled for that team - who'd just come off winning the division in 1971 - it's incredibly impressive. Like this guy, to your left. Sure, he may have been 40 years old, but he was Willie Mays, right?

They also had McCovey. Marichal. Bobby Bonds! Jim Ray Hart! Dave Kingman! Garry Matthews! New superstar acquisition Sam McDowell, whom the Giants excitedly traded pitching ace Gaylord Perry to Cleveland for. Looking good for '72.

Well, the wheels totally fell off that year for the Giants, despite this abundance. They went 69-86, and finished in 5th place, ahead of the lowly Padres. McCovey hit .213. McDowell was mostly a bust, while Perry went on to win the Cy Young for the Indians. Mays was traded for chump change in early May to the Mets. Marichal went 6-16. Let's just say it wasn't a good year, and it ushered in a pretty brutal stretch for San Francisco until 1978, which was the first full year of baseball that I was old enough to pay attention to.

In the meantime, we have the cards! All of 'em. It's a great set that won't set you back all that much, if you're interested in accumulating it. Here are a few of the guys who made Spring 1972 look so hopeful.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

I Dig The 2002 Angels - So Sue Me

Among San Francisco Giants fans of a certain vintage, there's not a worse memory than Game 6 of the 2002 World Series. Eight outs away from the first World Series championship in San Francisco. Overconfident and ready to party. I called my dad from the green grass of San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center, where I was convening around a large screen with 2,500 of my closest friends, and told him "Dad. It's finally happening. We're winning a World Series". And then: gut punch. The 2002 Anaheim Angels came back in historic fashion and won - then smoked us in Game 7. When game 6 was over, we knew. We all knew. It was over. You can see why some folks around here call it their lowest baseball moment.

Not mine! I loved it. No, I totally hated that part of it, but man - my team was in the World Series. They were brash, exciting, full of talent - and they were winning. In the postseason! It was incredible, and I guess you didn't merely had to be there, you had to be there the previous 26 or so years as well, as I very much was, in both team sickness and in rare team health.

You want to know what my lowest San Francisco Giants moments were? How about 1985, when we went 62-100? How about the inept teams of 1979 and 1980? Hey, how about getting brutally swept in the 1989 World Series by the Oakland A's, when I had tickets for game 5?? Those were all worse than the late stumbles in the otherwise totally awesome 2002 World Series.

Perhaps because that's my party line, I can also admit to actually having quite a bit of admiration for those 2002 Anaheim Angels as well. Oh I know, they're "from LA", sort of, and so I'm supposed to dislike them. And yet I never have - especially that team. The Angels, too, were perennial underperformers during my baseball lifetime. They were in the American League, and thus we never played them. They lived in the shadow of the pretty-boy Dodgers and always took a backseat to 'em. What's not to at least sort of like?

Since I watched every millisecond of that series, and the playoffs in both leagues leading up to it, I got quite familiar with those 2002 Anaheim Angels. I like them. A lot. Little David Eckstein. Late-season fireballing reliever Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez. Rookie starter John Lackey. Sluggers Tim Salmon and Troy Glaus and moderate superstar Garrett Anderson. Orange County went crazy for those guys, and why wouldn't they? I don't think Los Angeles County batted an eyelash.

Anyway, I posted on my Wants page that I was collecting this team. I didn't actually have any of their cards, but now I do - and they're all minis! A local trader (and Giants fan) named mrhaverkamp, whom I've come to understand is "active" in the shadowy world of "baseball card collecting", had some of these 2003 Topps minis that he couldn't unload fast enough. His note to me said "Get these '02 Angels outta here!". Hey brother, I get it. There's him - and then there's me. I'm happy to have these guys around, and they're the first of what I hope will be a fruitful bunch of collecting this team in the months to come. Thanks, mrhaverkamp!

Monday, April 20, 2020

Got One Of Those Onyx Boxes Today

I took a flyer on a 2020 "Hobby Box" from Onyx Vintage, and got it in the mail this morning. I'd seen a scan of a Joey Bart card online, and immediately wanted not only that card, but the whole friggin' set. I'm not entirely sure that when I ordered these, I'd comprehended that there are only four cards in a $40+ hobby box. Here's what Beckett has to say about the 2020 Onyx Vintage set:

"2020 Onyx Vintage Baseball doesn’t get its checklist. Rather, it’s the look and vibe the cards give off. That said there is a small number of names that bring a retro vibe to the possibilities. The rest? Several of the top young players and prospects in the game today.
Hobby boxes are small, carrying just four cards. Two of them are autographs, though.

This isn’t an overly complicated set. For starters, the checklist is kept small to just over 30 players. It’s primarily prospect driven but there are a couple of young MLB players and a trio of retired greats as well."

Mine arrived in a well-designed cardboard box with a plush insert to hold those four cards together. Hey, I knew that there were only 32 cards in the total set, so wasn't expecting 32 cards, but I really did skim the fine print on this one, much like the terms & conditions we routinely breeze through on our app agreements and on everything else.

Listen, if Kristian Robinson turns into Trout 2.0, all is forgiven. Likewise with these other young men. Here are the other two I got, a couple of Valeras:
The fourth and final card is actually just a redemption slip for another autographed card from a prospect, this one for Luis Patino of the San Diego Padres - whom I've actually heard of; a "live arm" who was supposed to be potentially be up in the bigs right about now. Except there's no baseball. At least there are the cards, and the people who frantically buy them with one click without looking at the fine print.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

The 1981 Kellogg's 3D Super Stars Set

The sets I'm currently working on, I'm working on the proverbial "old-fashioned" way: with individual pick-ups and card-by-card building. I have almost zero interest in buying a straight-up completed set of anything, and yet this 1981 Kellogg's 3D set totally caught my attention recently, and I went all-in in one fell swoop.

I don't know about your mom, but by 1981 my Mom had unfortunately stopped buying us Count Chocula and Franken Berry cereals, and the only cereal allowed in the house was either Team, Total or Cheerios. None of these moderately healthy breakfasts were made by Kellogg's, and thus I never got any of these 3D cards. Here's the deal with them: it was the first year in 12 years of making these that Kellogg's made them in the quote-unquote regular size of 2-1/2 by 3-1/2. They'd been minis or "skinny" up to this point. I may go back on this at some point, but I'm just not interested in accumulating an entire set of minis/skinnies. I'll just grab the Giants out of them, thanks.

Speaking of Giants, Vida Blue was San Francisco's sole representative in this 66-card 1981 set. Every team got at least one representative - even Seattle! There are a few guys in here whom I'd mostly forgotten about - Ken Landreaux and Larry Gura among them. Super stars! I do remember Cleveland's Joe Charboneau quite well; he was a real breath of fresh air for that city and that team during a pretty grim time. Poor guy was out of baseball by the following year.

Each of these cards has a waxy-feeling plastic coating on them that actually gives a pretty weird tactile sensation that I kinda like, definitely different than the usual cardboard. I grabbed the whole set for not much money at all on eBay, and I'm happy I did. Here's an article about the set, and here are some of the other Super Stars from this set whom you may have heard of.

Willie Wilson, one of my favorite players of all time:

Friday, April 17, 2020

A Few 1970 Seattle Pilots

As I was collecting the '69 Seattle Pilots set I wrote about yesterday, I found out to my surprise that there had actually been 1970 Topps Seattle Pilots cards as well. While the Seattle team was struggling with bankruptcy and figuring out their next move, Topps had a 1970 set to create, and did so accordingly. Weeks later, the team was bought by a young entrepreneur named Bud Selig, and moved to Milwaukee to become the Brewers whom we know and love today.

Most of these dudes went on to Milwaukee with the team. The Brewers were 1 game better than the 1969 Pilots, losing only 97 games to the Pilots' 98. So out of the blue a few weeks ago, Mike from Junk Wax Dig offered to send over a few doubles he had from his 1970 "Pilots" set. I was more than happy to accept them - and I reckoned I now had a new team set I'd want to complete. I do, and I will. It's certainly not the case that these guys are bank-breakers.

Here are a few more gems from that 1970 Pilots/Brewers team. Special attention to Gene Brabender, please!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Completed: The 1969 Seattle Pilots

One team I've been fascinated with for many years is the 1969 Seattle Pilots. That was their one and only year in existence, and my understanding of why that was so has long been incomplete. As a young lad, I read Jim Bouton's Ball Four, and it left a pretty deep mark on me, as it did so many others (there's a new book out now just about Bouton, by the way, and you can read about it here). Bouton pitched for the Pilots part of that year, and much of the "diary" that is the bulk of the book recaps the behind-the-scenes locker room shenanigans of that team.

I'm also a big fan of the city of Seattle, the second-greatest city in the US of A. I lived there from 1997-99 while in grad school, and I'd live there again in a country minute. Seattle in 1969 didn't really seem to me to be a big-league town quite yet, and the Pilots year there happened to also coincide with the hemorrhaging of jobs at Boeing, the city's largest employer. So yeah - it didn't go so well for these guys. Not only did they finish dead last in the brand-new American League West, they went bankrupt. Bankrupt! Their owners threw up their hands, then packed up and sold the team to a group in Milwaukee the next spring (but not before Topps got out some "1970 Seattle Pilots" cards, about which more next time). We now know them as the "Milwaukee Brewers".

I decided I needed to track down each and every one of the 26 Topps 1969 Seattle Pilots cards - and recently, I did just that. Most of them were procured at my local card shop, Lefty's Sports Cards in Burlingame, CA. The ones that remained elusive were bought on eBay. But I've got them, and this set is done, ladies and gentlemen.

Interestingly, Tommy Harper - above left - is probably one of the fellas you've heard of on the team, along with a couple of the folks below. Harper stole 73 bases for the Pilots that year, and despite a .235 batting average, he had a very healthy .349 OBP. The following year in Milwaukee he'd go on to club 31 homers while stealing 38 bases - his best year in the majors. Oh - and there's no real Jim Bouton card for the Seattle Pilots! Only customs that you can find online.

Here's an article about collecting the Pilots, and here are a few other cards from that '69 set.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

My Vlad Cup Runneth Over

This guy. Vladimir Guerrero. I decided to collect his cards, put the word out on this blog that I was open to trading for his cards, and here we are. Now I'm doing just fine on Vlad cards, and I've really been able to procure some great ones thanks to my trading partners.

Case in point is this new haul from Nick at Dime Boxes. He kindly sent me a whole suite of what I like to call "idiot cards" - you can see some good examples on his most recent blog post - but he also had a bunch of Vladimir Guerrero doubles and leftovers that he thought might look better in my collection - and who am I to argue with such impeccable logic, right?

My first couple of Vlad batches were mostly Vlad-on-the-Angels cards, which I talked about here. Now thank to Nick I'm rocking many more Vlad-on-the-Expos as well, including some rookies and many from those bizarre-world late 90s/early 2000s card brands that I'm still getting a handle on - the ones that aren't Topps, Donruss nor Fleer (or if they are, they're sub-brands that I didn't hear about while they were at their peak, during the time I wasn't paying attention to cards).

I scanned a few of the exceptional cards that Nick sent over. I now have more Vlad than any other player save for Pablo Sandoval. And oh man - do I still have a ways to go, too.

Monday, April 13, 2020

A Package of Giants from The Lost Collector

Here's a few ringers sent to me by upstanding patriot AJ, who runs the excellent blog The Lost Collector. AJ's a Yankees guy - perhaps the foremost Tino Martinez card collector on God's green earth - and so when I told him I was a Giants guy, he was like, "You want some Giants cards, comrade?". I told him I did. Today, those cards arrived, and I'm much the better for it.

Totally loving what I got, too. Here's my #1 favorite Pablo Sandoval's "1st Home Run" commemorative card from a 2015 Topps series. I'm not sure the scan quite shows it, but Pablo slugged that thing on August 27th, 2008. This was around the time we were all wondering who this kid was that the Giants called up and installed at third base that we'd never heard of, the one who just kept hitting and hitting. Great card!

Also got a few Barry Bonds cards in the mix, too. Booooo. Steeeeeeeeroids. Is it fair to say I have "complicated" feelings about Mr. Bonds? I think it's fair. This recent article in The Athletic is a really good one about him. I saw him, in person, hit some of the most monster home runs of all time, including at least one walk-off, all the while knowing that he was one of the most despicable and loathsome human beings on the planet. I'm really glad to see the back of him. Not my favorite era of Giants history. But totally psyched to get an 18/30 1995 "Kraft Singles Superstars" card of his! Maybe he wasn't doping that year? Maybe??

AJ also sent along an autographed Donruss Playoff Contenders 2008 "Rookie Ticket" for one Rafael Rodriguez. For the life of me, I don't remember Rodriguez! I checked it out, and there's a good reason - he never made the bigs. But here he is, swinging with moxie and panache. Now I have his autograph, baby!

These other dudes, you know 'em. You love 'em like I do. Well, except Bonds. He's an idiot. Just delighted to get this mix of cards from AJ. Check out his blog The Lost Collector and send him some Yankees if you ever get the chance. I did, but I suspect they're not one-tenth as cool as what he sent me.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Johnny Antonelli - My Dad's Guy

I certainly get more of a thrill out of 50s and 60s cards than I do penny cards from the junk wax era, and reckoned that it made some sense to collect at least one player that played back then. There will be more, but I had to start somewhere, and I started with Johnny Antonelli.

Antonelli was a 5-time All-Star and two-time 20-game winner for the New York and San Francisco Giants, and played from 1948 until 1961. He actually had a chance to play for the 1962 expansion New York Mets, who set the record for futility by losing 120 games that year, but our boy Johnny chose to "retire" at the age of 31 rather than take his talents back to the Polo Grounds with Casey Stengel and the boys.

Johnny Antonelli was also my dad's favorite player when he was a kid and a teenager, just as Jack Clark was mine. My dad introduced me to the sport of baseball in 1976, as I recount in this post of mine on a different blog. So when it came time to figure out which 50s/60s dude I was going to collect first, well - I mean I'm accumulating McCovey cards for sure, but the more affordable way to complete a guy's cards is to begin with someone with a shorter career and much lower price tags on his cards, right? And plus I knew my dad would get a kick out of it (he's still with us, sheltering in place in San Jose, California).

The card you see up top is a 1954 Bowman. Let's take a look at the other four Antonellis I've managed to grab so far. First, a 1956 Topps:

1957 Topps:

Then it's on to San Francisco.....this one's from 1959 Topps:

...and finally this one from 1960 Topps, with the amazing alternating red/black letters:

Only one more year in baseball for Johnny Antonelli after that. He passed away just over a month ago (!) at his home in Rochester, NY, on February 28th, 2020. The Trading Card Database says he has 81 cards in total, so my quest is on, and I'll share what I can in this space during the months to come.