Saturday, August 29, 2020

Adventures in Repacking

The first time I bought one of these Walgreens baseball card repacks, I was phenomenally let down - betrayed! - by the fact that the majority of the cards were from the junk-wax 80s and 90s. I didn't get anything I wanted or needed, and when I did get some modern stuff, it was basically half of the 2019 Topps Series 1 Detroit Tigers team. I swore I wouldn't buy them again; but I didn't really grasp how they worked.

Everyone's hero Nick at Dime Boxes posted about his Walgreens repack purchases here, and it turned out if you're lucky, you can get some pretty interesting things in these boxes. He got a couple of autographs and some minor league cards. I wanted some of those. Happening upon them again this afternoon when I went to pick up some shaving cream and printer cartridges, I realized these 100-card packs are only $5.99 each - and honestly, that's not really rolling the dice too badly. So I bought two of them, and you know what? I feel better about repacks now!

I didn't get any true weirdo minor league cards - that would have been the best - but I did get an autographed 1996 Best Eric Ludwick card, when he was a prospect in the Mets organization...! With only 1:4 boxes having "hits", I was delighted to have a hit of my own.


This next 2019 Heritage card won't matter much to anyone but Angels fans and me, but I'm a big Matt Shoemaker guy because in the summer of 2016 I went to my first and only game at Angels Stadium, and Shoemaker twirled a phenomenal complete game, which the Angels won. He looked like Koufax out there, and I was like, "The Angels finally have a pitcher". Um...


One of my favorite San Francisco Giants of recent vintage was also in there, and it's a Topps 2014 card I didn't have:


Also a few first-class relievers for my relievers project, including a large-headed 1992 Lee Smith from Score:




And then a bit of junk wax over here, but a keeper nonetheless. The Hack Man!


And this guy, too:


Can't say these'll be regular purchases, but I won't deny the low-key thrills that came from ripping them open. Most of the cards were garbage, but these few semi-gems made the $5.99 price worth it for me this time around.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Boof Bonser Collection Coming Along Nicely

I know it's ridiculous, but now for some reason I'm accumulating cards for one Boof Bonser. I talked about why this is happening here. All it takes is some non-discriminate clicking on various sites - your CardBarrels, your SportLots and so on - and all of a sudden there are Boof Bonser cards all over your house, and you don't really understand why. Here's what came in this week.





Thursday, August 27, 2020

Joey Bart Redux

Well folks, Joey Bart - the San Francisco Giants' top prospect, and a subject of some card-collectin' discussion on this blog - made it to the bigs. This has been a huge topic of discussion in SF Giants' media the past several months, and all the kid did was come up and smack a bunch of doubles and help a not-very-good team reel off a 7-game winning streak. The talk around the Bay Area is that he's "here to stay".

This is what makes prospect collecting really fun for me, personally. Though I'm not really gambling on ultimate card value - because these are not cards I want to sell, and even in a best-case scenario, we're talking $75 cards and not $7,500 cards - it's great to see these guys come up and do what they're supposed to do. You look in your card box and - oh - I have 25 beautiful-lookin' Joey Bart cards already. I'm going to assume that the prices for the ones I don't have just tripled this past week.

Contrast Bart with poor Jo Adell, who also got called up very recently, and whom I also collect. As of this writing, Adell is hitting .186 with a .250 OBP - and man - I saw him make a howler of an error in right field the other day. For all we know, he turns it around after a bumpy start and becomes an Angels mainstay for the next 15 years. I hope so. This is as close to gambling as I get: hoarding a bunch of 50-cent/$1 prospect cards for guys I'm intrigued by and seeing what happens. It's fun to be watching it play out in real time, at the same time, with the 2 prospects I chose to chase in 2020.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Are Soccer Cards As Lame As I Think They Are?

This is a baseball card blog - except on those few occasions during which we've discussed some hockey cards. Now I'm going to expand the conversation just a little, and perhaps only once, to ask you: are soccer cards really as lame as I think they are? Let me explain why I pose the question.

I happen to be not merely a rabid San Francisco Giants fan, but in recent years I've expanded my casual regard for the beautiful game of soccer into a frothing fandom that has had me watching 700% more soccer/football than I do even baseball. Not just the World Cup every 4 years, as I've done for decades now, but games spread throughout the week in the English Premier League, the Championship, the Bundesliga, Champions/Europa League, the MLS, world friendlies, the NWSL - you name it. A few years ago, thanks to their strong pipeline of American players (Clint Dempsey, Brian McBride and Tim Ream, to name a few), I somewhat randomly chose Fulham to be my English club of choice - even got to see them play in London the year before last.

Despite watching every game of theirs during the last two years - even via wonky pay-per-view, laptop-only, one-time-purchase streams, often watched on delay on an iPad before bed - I never really even thought once about collecting Fulham cards. It truly never even crossed my mind - until it did, and I wondered, "Are there actually cool-looking soccer/football cards that aren't made for 7-year-olds and that have interesting designs that are comparable to those found in my beloved baseball card hobby? Cards that don't have power boosts, names like "Match Attax", doofus player ratings and other trappings designed for the schoolboy, as opposed to cards designed for a refined middle-ager like myself?".

I'm still wondering. I bought the 2018-19 Topps Chrome series of Fulham cards, 5 in all, and as you can see with the Calum Chambers card above, that's about as good as it gets. It looks very much like Topps 2020 baseball Series 1, one of my least-favorite sets of all time. I ask you: is there such thing as a "Heritage" set for soccer cards? Anything?

Honestly, it's such a phenomenal sport, but because it's relatively new in the USA, the average age of the US-based soccer fan is somewhere in their 20s. Baseball? We average out in our 50s. We fiftysomething baseball fans have loads of memories, some disposable income and plenty of navel-gazing contemplation time for our cards. I don't see the US soccer demographic coming from the same place - but perhaps that's a terrific marketing opportunity for someone, am I right?

Anyway - if there are really beautiful, collectable, affordable soccer cards from the last decade or two, I'd love to know about them....! Until then, I'm going to assume that we're still in very early days when it comes to soccer cards worth accumulating.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Some More Seattle Pilots Ephemera

Silly me, I once thought that "collecting the Seattle Pilots" meant "buy the Pilots cards from the Topps 1969 and 1970 sets, and you're done". How naive! The deeper I went into that Pilots rabbit hole - and no, I haven't quite completed that '70 set just yet - the more I learned about post-1970 card issues featuring Pilots players - or weirdly, guys who never played for the Pilots but who still got cards dressed up in their uniform (Ichiro Suzuki hadn't even been born when they spent their lone season in Seattle) - the deeper I needed to go.

Like Jim Bouton for example. He's the world's most famous Seattle Pilot, thanks to his book Ball Four that immortalized his year with the team. He never got an official Topps card of him in a Pilots uniform in 1969 nor in 1970 (he was traded to the Astros during the '69 season). You know what he did get, though? A 2004 Fleer Greats card, that's what. You see it here to your left. Bouton had two monster years for the Yankees as a starting pitcher in 1963 and 1964, winning 21 games in the former, but was mostly a "sloppy mopper" in the years that followed. I still call him a Fleer Great, though. So should you. He's got a Seattle Pilots card that I'm exceptionally proud to own.

Bouton also has a 1989 Swell "Baseball Greats"card, and it's a delight as well. I need to learn some more about the Swell brand. I can't say that it's all that much to look at, but there he is - Jimmy B, getting ready to kinda/sorta throw his teammates under the bus in 1969. Card #66 in the Baseball Greats series. Information on this series, please, fellow card collectors!

And listen - if you've never watched Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye, it's an outstanding film, as is virtually everything Altman made in the 1970s ("3 Women" is probably my favorite film of all time). Why is that relevant? Well, because Jim Bouton is in it - and not just for a minute, either. He's got quite a few key scenes. Anyway, that's your dose of Seattle Pilots card collecting ephemera for this time around.....as I pull together more weirdo Pilots odds & ends, you can be sure I'll share them with ya here.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Let's Remember Some 1975 Guys

I first started buying Topps baseball cards as a young lad in 1976, but a couple of kids in my neighborhood who also bought cards had started accumulating a year earlier. Thus, even though '76 Topps was my personal entrĂ©e into the world of baseball cards, I soon found myself with quite a few 1975 Topps in my collection as well, via various trades and I'll-buy-that-for-a-nickel pickups from my Sacramento-area comrades.

One thing I've never had - until this week, that is - is a complete set of the 1975 Topps San Francisco Giants cards. The cards partially reflect a 1974 team that was pretty awful, going 72-90 and finishing a dismal 5th place in the NL West. However! 1975 would end up being a little better. They traded for the Yankees' Bobby Murcer, and he made the All-Star team. John Montefusco, who didn't get a card in this 1975 set, ended up being the NL Rookie of the Year, pitching his way to a 15-9 record with a 2.88 ERA. The Giants finished in 3rd place to tough Reds and Dodgers teams, with an 80-81 record. Not great, but they'd be worse again the next two years, just as I was coming online as a SF Giants die-hard.

The 1975 cards I got back then were the minis - smaller versions of the main cards, apparently only issued later in the season. Someone told me only in certain states as well - is that true? Like California? I'm sure I could look it up somewhere, but I'm certain one of you knows. I think the colorful design of these may be my third favorite overall design of the 1970s, after the '72 Topps and the '71 Topps. That sounds about right.

Anyway, I have been pulling together the normal-sized cards from this set - maybe one day, after I've collected everything, I'll tackle the smaller versions. Here's what some of the 1975 Giants looked like.







Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Another Round of Cards Coming In Hot

Just got back from a socially-distanced, no-airplanes, careful-as-hell vacation, and I had some new cards waiting for me upon my return. As I say to my wife when there's a stack of new envelopes in the mailbox with what are obviously cards I've ordered contained within them - hey, now how did those get here?

I'm just picking off piece-parts & players & stuff I like here and there, from the usual-suspect ordering sites, using my small stack of Paypal pretend money that I use to buy cards. Many of my most recent cards were excitedly added to orders because I saw them on someone else's blog - maybe yours. This 1965 Topps Bill Rigney for sure. He's either workin' a piece of chaw here, or just has one of the most baddest-of-ass expressions of any manager of all time.

This post is an excuse to scan a few of those cards. Here goes. First, here's a guy who you may know, Mr. Frank Robinson. His 1975 SSPC card both fills a need in my pursuit of that entire set, as well as a slot in my hallowed Frank Robinson player collection:


I'm also a big fan of Vladimir Guerrero, and I picked up his 2020 Panini All-Time Diamond Kings card, no. ATDK-22...! 


We just talked about Joey Bart on the blog last week - here's my newest card of his since that post, a 2020 Bowman's Best, #TP-21:


As I work toward collecting the 1971 Topps set - I'm nowhere near even 20% of the way there - it's gem cards like this Casey Cox Washington Senators card arriving in the mail that make me realize I never want to be done, and probably never will:


You guys familiar with Willie Mays? He's a Baseball Immortal. It says so right here, on these 1980-88 SSPC Hall of Famer cards that I just became aware of. This is card #168. 1979 was the year he was inducted.


Here's another Willie, and a Buster Posey as well - both from the 2013 Topps Archives Gallery of Heroes series. These are fantastic. Yes, they're effectively "stained glass" cardboard - light shines through them and makes pretty colors and all that. The black line you see on the Posey card just happens to be an ink stain on my scanner. The card is fine.



Finally, how about Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney, throwing out the first pitch at a Seattle Mariners game in 2015? Oh yeah, I know she was on that funny TV show too, but I know her better as a guitarist for my wife's favorite 1990s band, a band I was taken to see at least 6-7 times during the latter half of that decade. This is from the 2016 Topps First Pitch series - when I saw that Brownstein had her own card, I reckoned I needed my own copy of it. According to the back of the card, she threw a total bullet, too.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Waiting for Boof

A few things about Boof Bonser.

First, are any of you folks familiar with the baseball writer Grant Brisbee? If you follow the San Francisco Giants, you most certainly are. Not only is he one of the main writers and podcasters on the team at The Athletic, he's been a constant (and exceptionally good) "beat writer" for the Giants for nearly twenty years now, at SB Nation and for a long time at the blog he founded, McCovey Chronicles. He's a self-deprecating dork with an unhealthy Giants obsession, which I appreciate, as a self-deprecating dork with an unhealthy Giants obsession.

Anyway, before McCovey Chronicles, he wrote a blog in the early bloggin' days called Waiting For Boof. It was so early that he actually had the URL "giantsblog.blogspot.com". How awesome is that? This blog was, of course, named after San Francisco Giants pitching prospect Boof Bonser. See, there were many, many lean years before the Giants starting growing amazing pitching arms on trees - the pre-Lincecum, pre-Cain, pre-Bumgarner years - in which we hadn't brought up a pitcher or any real position player of note through the farm system. I remember "Marvin Benard" was always trotted out as the one dude whom we successfully groomed to a starting position. He was the example that proved the rule: the Giants farm system was lousy.

So Waiting For Boof it was. Boof Bonser not only had an amazing name, he was the pitcher who was going to come up and win a Cy Young and lead us into the promised land. He was a top prospect with some great minor league stats. So here's the second thing about Boof. In November 2003, right after the Giants had been to the playoffs but were snuffed out by the eventual world champ Florida Marlins, he was traded to Minnesota in an infamous deal for catcher AJ Pierzynski. Oh no - it wasn't just Bonser - the Giants also gave up eventual superstar closer Joe Nathan, along with eventual starting pitcher/flamethrower Francisco Liriano. It's one of the Top 5 worst deals in Giants history, as Pierzynski was mostly terrible in his lone year with the Giants, and a bit of the proverbial "clubhouse cancer". Nathan and Liriano went on to fantastic and/or solid careers with Minnesota.

And Boof Bonser? Well, he did make the show. A couple of years - 2006 through 2008 - he ate up some solid innings for the Twins. He did not turn into Tim Lincecum, nor Matt Cain, nor Madison Bumgarner, but he did in fact have a major league career.

So I was on SportLots the other day, trying to buy some Topps 2002 Chrome cards for the Anaheim Angels - yes, I love that team and wrote about it here - and spotted a Boof Bonser prospect card for $0.18 in that series. I ordered it, and you see it above you. Now I'm going to collect Boof Bonser cards, because why not? I ordered several others from SportLots as well that just haven't arrived yet. He's one of those guys that triggers weird nostalgic pleasure centers in my brain - Tsuyoshi Shinjo is another - and who therefore are ripe targets for me to collect all of their cards, such as they are.

Who are those guys for you - the non-superstars whom you've decided you need to grab every card for?

Friday, August 14, 2020

Everyone Hearts Ichiro

Ichiro Suzuki is one of those players I was always jealous was on someone else's team. I absolutely loved watching him play, particularly when a pitcher would try to jam him and get him to hit on the ground to his natural side - where a shift might be waiting - and he'd just pop it the other way for an easy single or double. Ichiro did that all the time. Man, we could have used him on the Giants.

Remember that first year, 2001, where the guy was the AL MVP, the AL Rookie of the Year, and took his Mariners to the AL Championship series, where they (unfortunately) lost to the Yankees? That did it for me. We'd never had a Japanese import baseball player like this, and no one so adept at smacking singles at will since Ted Williams or even Ty Cobb.

As I started up collecting cards again this past year, I reckoned I'd pull a few Ichiro cards where I could. I only have a small collection thus far, but here are a few of them. I know I can spend some big dollars to really ramp this thing up, so I'm concentrating on commons and sparkly variations for now, and see where it all takes me.







Wednesday, August 12, 2020

A Matt Carasiti Japanese Card

I'm pretty psyched - I'm nearly done collecting a player's entire run of cards. The fact that it's a journeyman relief pitcher named Matt Carasiti with 25 MLB innings pitched to his name doesn't knock me off my pedestal too much. You can read all about why I collect Mr. Carasiti here.

I thought I only had two minor league cards of his to find, but then realized he spent 2018 with the Yakult Swallows in the Japanese league - now I need to contend with those. So here it is - my first Japanese card of any kind. According to the back you see below here, it was put out by "Baseball Magazine". Carasiti was pretty good for them as well, having gone 8-3 with a 3.99 ERA, which earned him a trip back to the majors with Seattle last year, and a spot on the SF Giants in spring training this year until he got hurt.

So here's what I'm down to: another Yakult Swallows card for Carasiti - this one - plus his 2014 Asheville Tourists card and 2015 Modesto Nuts card. If you've got any of these lying around, please get in touch with Card Hemorrhage...! We'll find something nice to send you in return, most assuredly.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Is It Joey Bart Time Yet?

The second post on this blog was about Joey Bart, the San Francisco Giants catching prospect who's the heir apparent to Buster Posey, and who is going to be making his major league debut "any day now". We haven't had a kid in the organization that we - by whom I mean Giants fans - were this excited about since Tim Lincecum, or Posey himself. I get why the Giants are keeping him off the major league roster for now; the service time thing sucks for the player, obviously, but locking up that extra year for the team works for me. Not like the Giants are really going anywhere this season anyway, but in 2025? Look out, folks.

Anyway, I'm building up a solid Joey Bart collection. Anything of his with an autograph - especially those Onyx cards - is prohibitively expensive, so I'm completely bereft of any Bart auto cards for now. Someday. In the meantime, though, on the eve of what I believe will be his call-up to the big club, I thought I'd share w/ you a few of his 2019 and 2020 cards, mostly Bowmans, so you can get a glimpse of the man before he comes in and hits .375 and blasts two homers a game and moves Posey  to DH and and and.....