Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving Cleaning, Part II: 1990s Nostalgia

I showed off a few items yesterday that I picked up at my mom's house at Thanksgiving. Today, it's all about the early 1990s. 

These items are ones that my younger brother must have gotten when he was a little kid (he is 11-1/2 years younger than me, born in 1983) and kept for the past 20-odd years. I know that to be the case because I stopped buying cards and baseball stuff when I went to college. I needed to pay for food and books more than I needed to buy the Topps Amazing Technicolor Dream Bordered Cards in 1990, so that's where my collecting ceased.

So, coming across the photos and magazine that I decided to bring back early was a pleasant surprise. Each of these will be added eventually to my Robin Yount collection (I haven't done that yet) since he features on each.

First, let's go with the early 1990s Brewers "efforts" at fan appreciation:

Okay, this wasn't the only thing that the team gave away -- indeed, all that is on the back of this 1991 team photo are the Rules and Regulations for Brewers Fan Appreciation Night. My favorite rule listed is that anyone could walk up to Window 17 at the stadium at the beginning of the 7th inning and enter the stadium free of charge. That clearly was a better gift than the "grand prize" of a 1991 Geo Metro LSI convertible.

By 1992, the Brewers had stepped up their game. First off, they picked up a sponsor for the team photo -- Pabst Non-Alcoholic Malt Beverage which, shockingly to me, is apparently still available and being reviewed on Beer Advocate. Second, not only was the photo sponsored, but the team detailed all the giveaways that they would have for Fan Appreciation Day:
Several of these giveaways are intriguing today -- the random "3-pack" of autographed balls of Yount, Canseco, and Puckett, or of Yount, Clemens, and Mattingly would be pretty damn cool to have today. It would have sucked, though, to win all the flashlights, lanterns, and batteries from Rayovac...that must have been really heavy to carry home.

Finally, the magazine I found was just a big surprise to me. It wasn't a surprise that it existed -- just that my brother had bought it at some point 24 years ago:

Even better than finding this magazine -- which is in better shape than you might expect from the scan -- was the fact that the inserted cards in the magazine are both in the magazine and in gem mint condition:

Were these Topps Magazine cards the first attempts that Topps made at printing cards for retired players? I honestly don't know.

And there it is -- still attached to Nuschler the Racist and Nolan the K King: the Robin Yount Topps Magazine card. I bought one of those from COMC earlier this year for under $1, but to have the complete magazine is just cool.

Add in some of the articles in the magazine, and it makes me wonder if perhaps Topps should try bringing the magazine back in some way. In this magazine alone, Topps talked about its Doubleheaders release, its issuance of Topps Coins, and Topps 1990 Football cards as well. 

What I am saying is this: perhaps Topps should try a digital magazine form to draw kids in, provide news and information to older collectors, and then Topps can leverage that by giving subscribers special cards that only they can get. A digital magazine is far less expensive to produce than a paper magazine, and Topps could use it to provide some of its digital checklists, information on new releases, linked advertisements for some of those specials they run, etc.

Finally, also in the magazine, I saw the article that led to a hobby frenzy: when Topps gave President George H.W. Bush his own baseball card:

I have to admit -- I don't recall how all that played out. 

But the magazine really was and is a cool way in my mind for Topps to promote products in a fun way while generating a new revenue stream.

What do you think: would you welcome a Topps (or Panini or Upper Deck) digital magazine? Would it be of interest to you to subscribe if you got subscriber exclusives in card (and not virtual card) form?

Let's hear it. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Pack Rats are Collectors Too

My mom is a hoarder. She got it from her mother and father, who got married and had their first children during the depression. And it's not like they got rich after the war either -- they lived a hard-scrabble life. That led them to keep stuff because either (a) they might need it some day and they would not want to have gotten rid of something that they might need, or (b) it might be worth money some day.

There is one good side to that for me. It meant that all my cards, magazines, and other tchotchkes that I had as a kid and teen were still in her house. Add in the fact that my younger brother has similar hoarding tendencies and, for a while, collected cards and baseball items because I had done it, and my trip back to the cold, white north allowed me to sort through some things that I had no idea were right there for the taking or that I had thought were long gone.

Now, I only brought back a few random items with me on the plane. I should be getting two or three smaller FedEx boxes shipped to me in a week or so with a bunch of 1980s Brewers items and magazines. I can't wait.

But, for now, here's what I brought back with me.

First, here's a small little pin that I know nothing about other than that it must be from 1954 or before.

This guy on eBay doesn't know much more than I do about it, but he wants $50 for it. His might be in better condition, though. All that said, it was a fun find.

Two more fun finds came in the form of two 1964 Topps Coins

The first one is Vic Davalillo. I remember him for his second career for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the late 1970s because he showed up on a 1978 Topps card. Here he is in his second full season (first as a starter) in the major leagues at the age of 27 with Cleveland.

The second coin is Elston Howard. In 1964, he was coming off an MVP season at the age of 34. It's like he got better with age, as in 1964 at 35, he his 15 HR, 94 RMI, and slashed .313/.371/.455.  

Now, all of those items are pretty cool items. But, as much as these are practically family heirlooms, I have no real love for these items. So, I'd love for them to go to a happy home that wants them. So let me know if that is you.

Here's another random item I found in these boxes. This one's personalized:

True gentleman Dick Williams sent me this postcard with a group of cards that I sent him to have autographed. I didn't ask for a postcard, nor did I ask for a personalization, but Mr. Williams was kind enough to give me both.

The rest of the items are absolutely things that I know I did not have as a kid, so these must be items that my younger brother and/or my mother picked up many years ago and kept hoping that they would be worth something someday.

The Brewers give these out for free (I think) like a theater does. As the cover in the lower right-hand corner says, this was from the second homestand of the 2009 season against Arizona and Pittsburgh.

A fun reminder of what these two teams looked like 5 years ago in the form of their rosters:

Wow. Look at the black hole behind the plate in Milwaukee.  Wow.  For the Pirates, I love the fact that the LaRoche boys were on the club at the same time, along with future Brewer Tony Plush a/k/a Nyjer Morgan. 

And those are just a couple of the items I brought back. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Brewers Just Don't Play in Peoria, Apparently

I am a creature of habit. I get up in the morning at or around the same time no matter if it is during the week or on the weekend. I have my coffee about the same time every day. I park in or around the same spot in my parking garage at work every day. And, during this first year of my blog, I have tended to trade and send trade packages out to the same people on a regular basis. 

Don't get me wrong -- it's not that I mind swapping Pirates for Brewers with Matt from Bob Walk the Plank (who must have purchased and kept more hits from products over the last five years than I have ever bought in my life) or sending oddballs to everyone's favorite Dimebox digger, Nick. To the contrary, I find myself looking actively for cards to send to Nick and Matt because, well, my frequent trade partners tend to be at the top of my mind when I am at a card show.

Lately, though, I have started sending and getting cards from fellow bloggers whom I have not traded with in the past. Folks like Julie from A Cracked Bat and Matt from Heartbreaking Cards have sent me awesome packages of cards.

Another "new-to-me" trader who is certainly not a stranger in the blogging world is P-Town Tom from the Cubs-focused Waiting 'til Next Year blog. Tom is from Peoria, Illinois -- the town immortalized first by Horatio Alger and later by Groucho Marx in the old saw of "Will it play in Peoria?" That was meant to be taken as an indication that if something were successful in the most Middle of Middle America, then it would be successful anywhere in the US.

Well, I guess the Brewers don't play in Peoria, since Tom exiled a massive box full of Brewers by sending them to the Deep South. I have these organized by set rather than by player since that is the cards took on their emigration out of the Land of Lincoln.

Let's get things kicked off with some Winners.

Did D.J. Khaled play in Peoria? 

Tyrone Hill...ugh. What a wasted first round pick that was. Of course, wasting first round picks became a regular occurrence for the Brewers starting around the time that Harry Dalton left Milwaukee.  Here's a list of the Brewers 1st round picks from 1991 (having given up their first round pick in 1990 for signing Dave Parker) to 1999: Ken Henderson, Ty Hill, Gabby Martinez, Ken Felder, Joe Wagner, Todd Dunn, Kelly Wunsch, Jeff D'Amico, Antone Williamson, Geoff Jenkins, Chad Green, Kyle Peterson, J.M. Gold, Ben Sheets. From that group, there were two legitimate major league players in Jenkins and Sheets and a whole lot of wasted bonus money otherwise.  UGH.

Now I'm depressed. I need a cartoon to pick me up.

I loved Pinky and the Brain when I was in college. Panini Triple Play? Not so much. But, they count as "cards I need for a Brewers/player collection"!

I'm a little weirded out by Ryan Braun's "Focus".

And now, it's time for a few single cards that went into player collections or to my team collection

I like that Fielder Triple Threads base card. It's too bad that sets like that are required to be "Sick HITZ!!!!" driven. 

And these aren't just any old 2002 Topps cards. They are the Topps "Home Team Advantage" parallel from 2002 Topps. They are pretty cool. Now, all I need is the base set version of each of these.

The fact that Ned Yost led a team to the World Series shows how managers really have little influence on how well a team plays over the course of a season. When it gets to the post-season, yes, managing decisions can matter...but even then, the Royals overcame Yost a couple of times.

Oh, for the days of the early 1990s, when Upper Deck produced the same card set three times.

On the other hand, scratch that. Let's not bring back the early 1990s cards. These are just ugly. The only acceptable way for these to exist is if they were colorized in the way that Mr. Skybox himself at View from The Skybox changed in it a tweet of his recently.

Otherwise, they are just gaudy.

As much as a lot of folks don't like Score's products, these are decent.

That weird "rays of light" thing on the 1990 Leaf set is distracting. Otherwise, these are pretty nice cards. But just "nice", which means they have a great personality and are fun to hang out with, but you'd never take them home knowingly with lust in your heart unless you were drunk.

Of course, if Leaf is that one you'd take home only if you were drunk, 1990 Donruss is the one you'd take home only if they were holding a gun to your head. I can imagine how this card was conceptualized:

Graphic Designer 1 (playing on primordial MacIntosh computer): "Dude, let's do red bordered cards."

Graphic Designer 2: "Print it out so I can see what it looks like in hand."

GD1 prints out the card, then knocks over his ashtray onto the card. The ashes stick to the wet ink from the fancy inkjet printer.

GD2: "I love it! Put those black splotches on the design!"

Jump cut to collectors across America looking alternatively confused, angry, and/or disgusted, then rushing to their Baseball Cards Magazine to check the "value" on that Gary Carter card.

The rest of these are presented without commentary, as I need to wrap up so that we can get ready for Thanksgiving (I'll be back over the weekend).

Okay, one last bit of commentary. If not for the poor paper stock quality, I'm convinced that SSPC from the 1970s are the coolest cards ever, except for not including statistics on the back. No screwing around with anything but a photo and a black border on the front of the card, and decent photos to boot.  

These "Swell" cards sure are swell, Wally! What do you think, Mrs. Cleaver?

For some reason, that barely looks like Pete Vuckovich to me. I think it's because his pockmarked face isn't as evident here as in most of his cards/photos.

Oddly enough, I needed these cards for my team set. I'm ashamed to say that I didn't collect all the junk wax.

Or the junk plastic either:

More junk wax that lost my interest as I neared graduating from high school.  I was too busy going to music camps at this point, where I partnered with a group of guys and rapped Tone Loc's "Wild Thing" willingly, without pay, without losing a bet, on stage in front of 300+ people.

No kidding.  

And finally, Molitor & Plesac:

Tom, many thanks for the huge mailer full of cards that you sent to me. This post does not even show half of the cards that I received, but it definitely gives a full flavor of the great stuff that Tom shared.

Even if the Brewers don't play in Peoria.

Have a great Thanksgiving, and remember not to push small children away from the keyboard on Friday when trying to find great online deals on COMC or other websites on Black Friday.