Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cards from Johnny's Trading Spot

The last two posts here have been bobblehead and magazine filled. John of Johnny's Trading Spot sent me a huge box of Brewers stuff and a Tiger Woods bobblehead that John himself did not know was in a J.J. Hardy bobblehead box.  And yet, he did not stop there. Even though the bobbleheads 

He sent Brewers cards as well. 

Yes, that is a sticker. It's a Fleer sticker from 1985 that features Robin Yount's number on it. I was unaware that such a sticker existed. And yes, I'm counting it as a Robin Yount item -- up to 667 now after adding this, the Program from yesterday, and about 25 cards from COMC.

People who have traded with me know I love to dish out oddballs to folks. I have a bunch of those Fleer boxed sets from the 1980s along with random stickers, popups, and cards from cereal boxes. I loved chasing those food items because, after all, we also got to eat the food that the cards came with.

So, it was pretty cool to get oddballs sent to me this time -- especially one I had never heard of before from the mid-2000s:

That's a Richie Sexson card from the Chevron "Clean Outta Here" set from 2004. It is a set that only MLBPA licensed, and the last team listed on the back of the card is Milwaukee -- but doesn't that uniform look like a Diamondbacks uniform? Considering the set was from 2004, perhaps Upper Deck got a photo of Sexson in spring training (I mean, he did play only 23 games as a D-back in the regular season) as a D-back?  

No matter -- Trading Card Database calls this a Brewers card, so despite the purple and the weird coloration for the uniform, I will too.

With a little less fanfare, here are some of the other oddballs, inserts, and parallels:

Dave Bush from Upper Deck 2007 Series 1, serial numbered to 75

Wes Helms from the Upper Deck "Forty Man" set serial numbered, appropriately enough, to 40.

Rob Deer from the 1987 Topps Mini Leaders set. Despite having bunches of these for other teams, I don't have all that many Brewers.

Pat Listach, from the Topps Black Gold insert. Boy, were we hoping that Listach would be a long-time star around Milwaukee.  Hope is a strange thing.

At least this card isn't in the "Black Gold" video from Soul Asylum.  I hated that song because, right in the middle of it, there was a far-too-real-sounding police siren.  Scared the crap out of me every time on the interstate.

Plus, let's be honest. Dave Pirner's voice was pretty whiny. 

Three Teddy Higuera oddballs -- two of those Fleer Boxed sets that I somehow missed and a 1988 Topps UK Mini card.  I needed all of these for my Higuera collection or for the team collection.

I'm pretty sure that if Cecil Cooper had 2000 hits in 1986, he would have led the league.

Around 1989, I watched a kid of about 12 get Chris Bosio about as mad as I have ever seen a player outside of the park while signing autographs. He called Bosio "Mr. Meyer." Apparently, Bosio -- no skinny guy himself -- thought Meyer was a fat f**k.

These two cards, though, complete the Donruss The Rookies 1988 team set.

Two Greg Vaughn oddball/parallel cards also came from John. That Collector's Choice is the Silver Signature parallel.  Now, I know that the 1990s was the time of odd photo selection and all -- just as the 2010s are all about the too-close photo crop and the grimacing pitcher face -- but couldn't they come up with a better photo than the trainer messing with Vaughn's contact lens?

These were just the oddballs that John sent to me. The others were more mundane "base set" cards, but they filled gaps for player collections from Jim Gantner to Ben Sheets and a bunch of other players in between.

John, thank you so very much for these great cards! I'm not sure that the old Goudey card really justified this huge of a box, though....I may just have to send more cards your way!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Trading Spot Bobbleheads

Yesterday's post featured a hint of what the big box from Florida and Johnny's Trading Spot had in store.  In case you missed it, here's the box that arrived:

You might be able to see in that box a bunch of similar looking boxes. Here's a better look at those boxes:

In total, there were thirteen bobbleheads that were given out at games in 2007 to celebrate the silver anniversary of the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers trip to the World Series. I was a little disappointed that the team did not add at least one giveaway of a Milwaukee Braves bobblehead of some sort that year -- at least as far as I know, at least -- because, after all, 2007 was also the 50th anniversary of the Milwaukee Braves only World Series title (and the city of Milwaukee's only World Series title as well).

In the photo above, you can see that John somehow came up with ten of the thirteen bobbleheads. The Charlie Moore bobble was the first one given out, and I can tell that because that bobblehead has the list of the twelve remaining statues:

From that list, I was able to determine that I need to track down Jim Gantner, Paul Molitor, and Robin Yount.  Considering that, before this shipment, I think I knew that these existed and that was about it, I consider myself very lucky indeed!

And yet, these 10 were not the only bobbleheads in the box.

This statue was a stadium giveaway in 2005 to commemorate Ben Sheets's setting a team record for pitcher's strikeouts in a season with 264. I think that was about 5 more than Jose Hernandez had at the plate a few years earlier.

Stashed amongst my beer glass collection are the final two bobbleheads that John sent my way.  The first was from 2006 and was another stadium giveaway bobblehead of Cecil Cooper. You can see that this bobblehead is a pretty big one considering that Coop is standing next to a normal sized pint glass (either the Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale or the Breckenridge glass).

Then, there's the little guy.  Here's a better look at him:

As you can see, this gold-uniformed dude appears to be from the infamous Milwaukee All-Star Game, which ended in a tie and led to the absurdity that is the current set up of determining home field advantage for the World Series based on an exhibition game.  I think the extender on the back of the cap was meant for a key ring, but that's just a guess.

Believe it or not, these weren't the coolest memorabilia in the box. John also included two magazines.

The top one is a Sports Illustrated (obviously) from spring training in 1958. It's too bad that Mr. Siegel's mailing label can't come off without tearing the cover, but the main story -- despite the fact that the Yankees are the main team featured -- is whether those 1957 Braves were "here to stay." Well, they made it back to the World Series the next fall and lost, so I'm not sure whether you'd answer that question with "yes" or "no."

Inside the magazine, I found some fantastic photos that have to be shared.

The caption for this photo claims that Stan Musial is grinning "boyishly at camera." Looks to me like he's telling the photographer to take a hike.

Here's Henry Aaron taking a pitch low and away at Al Lang Field. The only time I ever went to Spring Training (in 1994), the Cardinals were still training at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg.

I'm not sure why SI thought the Reds look "chagrined" here. The interesting story might be more about Plant Field. It was built as a horse track in the late 1890s.  Tampa gave travel incentives to lure major league baseball teams to come to train there -- see, corporate handouts are not just a modern invention -- so the Chicago Cubs came to train there from 1913 to 1916.

Even more interesting is that, according to Wikipedia, the Reds stopped using Plant Field as their training facility around 1954, splitting the field with the Chicago White Sox, which were the last spring training tenant at Plant Field and left in 1954.

So what gives? I know -- Wikipedia and historical markers are not always right, but can anyone shine light on this?

Horses and Birds.  Orioles training camp in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Cowboy hats required.

Probably my favorite photo. Three fully uniformed players take a cab from their training camp to the game to play -- spikes, gloves, hats, the whole nine yards. Are their bats in the trunk?  Why wouldn't the team have a bus? Or did they miss it?

I love old magazines.

The other magazine was actually a Program from a Milwaukee Brewers game that occurred early in the season.  The stats on the paper pages in the middle -- where you were supposed to keep score -- stated that they were complete as of April 10, 1977 (after three games had been played).  

Well, here, see for yourself:

What a roster that was.  Look at all the infielders and outfielders, too.  6 outfielders? 8 infielders? 9 pitchers, all of whom were no older than 26 on Opening Day. No wonder that team struggled. As you can also see, Robin Yount was 21 years old on Opening Day 1977. He was in his fourth big league season.

Along side this roster was an interesting little feature about new Brewer Cecil Cooper:

The next page had the same photo of Cooper with a facsimile autograph:

Most of the program is something that only a Brewers fan could love. Well, except for this advertisement:

Yes, there was a smokeless tobacco called "Happy Days."  My grandfather used to chew Copenhagen -- did for most of his life that I knew him -- and boy was that some nasty crap.  

Just as I love old photos from magazines, I love old advertising too. If I had unlimited funds, I'd spend a bunch more money chasing after baseball-related advertising.  It's just cool.

Now, that's a lot of cool stuff that came my way from Ocala. But, believe it or not, there were also a BUNCH of cards in that box too.  

That's what will be featured tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Career, Summarized by a Bobblehead?

About a week ago, John at the appropriately named Johnny's Trading Spot posted the cards that I had culled out of my Braves collection and sent to him. He was especially enraptured by the real Goudey Braves card of a gentleman named Randy Moore that I sent to him. In discussing that card, he said, "Because of this Jim Dandy card, I have worked up an incredible return for Tony. Evil Grin. . . . I can't wait for him to get the package I'm mailing out this week."

That package arrived here on Saturday, and I'm still trying to wrap my hands and head around all the items that the box held. This package was amazing.  Seriously. I hate to be cliched and always say, "this deserves more than one post", but this package is most definitely going to be shown over a few posts.

I mean, just look:

Because I'm short on time this evening, I am going to post the conundrum. The enigma wrapped in a puzzle. The oddest item in the box was this:

That should not strike anyone as strange.  J.J. Hardy was a very good player even as a Brewer, and the only reason that the Brewers traded him away was because (a) they thought that prospect Alcides Escobar could be the shortstop on a pennant winning team and (b) that Carlos Gomez was well worth trading away the incumbent shortstop with Escobar waiting in the wings.

Strangely enough, the team was correct on both points. It's too bad for Milwaukee fans that Escobar was a Royal when he won a pennant, though.

But, I digress as always.  

The reason that this was the strangest item in the box was because J.J. Hardy's bobblehead was not in this box.  What was?

Tiger Woods?

Yes, Tiger somehow pushed J.J. Hardy out of the way and crawled into J.J.'s bobblehead box.  You might notice, though, that Tiger appears to be wearing a cast and a leg brace. He is, indeed, wrapped up in a baseball card trader's best friend, blue masking/painter's tape.  

Apparently, J.J. Hardy's bobblehead was a bad ass bobblehead, because he put a hurting on Tiger before vacating the premises:

I especially like this angle of the bobblehead. It makes it look like Tiger is screaming in pain from the hurting that was put on him rather than celebrating a put he made.  

But really, with all the leg problems that Tiger has had over the past several years, perhaps the "Tiger in a cast and walking brace for a torn ACL" bobblehead is more anatomically correct than any of us might wish it to be.  

My cat Gus, in the background, certainly thinks so.

All Tiger needs now is a blue wrap around his back and a scorecard in his right hand showing a 43 on the front nine.

Even though Tiger came a bit beat up, putting him back together with the masking tape led to many laughs around Off Hiatus headquarters -- my wife is sports fan but she does not like Tiger (I think it was the whole marital infidelity thing), so she got a huge laugh out of this one.  The entertainment value of this alone is worth having him.

I'll unwrap the remainder of the bobbleheads from that box in my next post.  

And, no matter how you slice it, this box was fantastic!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Upgraded to a Better Class

Just before I met my wife in 2009, I was traveling a ton for work and for enjoyment. My travel was so frequent on Delta that I qualified as Platinum Medallion (before Delta devalued Platinum Medallion by adding the Diamond Medallion level as one step higher than Platinum).

The reason that frequent travelers like having "status" on an airline is simple: most of the time, as a Platinum Medallion traveler, I would receive free upgrades to first class even if I was traveling clear across the country. Now, the only status I have on Delta is Silver Medallion, which is good for...well, there are some places where I get to check my bag in a different location and I can get on the plane in Zone 1 so I can stow a carry-on.  And, that's about it.

Upgrades are good. Is there ever a time where someone offered you an upgrade and you would turn it down? Sure, if you're traveling with your significant other and the two of you would be split up for a flight, maybe you'd turn down the upgrade, but otherwise, nearly every upgrade conceivable is a good thing.

The same applies in card collecting. Unless every card in your collection is a graded Gem Mint 10 -- which, since I own a grand total of one graded card, I can vouch for myself not having that collection -- then you and me both are on the lookout for a condition upgrade for cards we know are in rough shape.

One of those "rough shape" cards for me has been my Robin Yount 1979 Hostess card. This is a card I have had since, as an 8-year-old, I cut it off a box of Ho-Ho's:
We have deep creases, part of the card gone, corners rounded away -- truly the definition of "well-loved."  If that card were from an 1880s Allen & Ginter set, it would not be a badge of shame to have it in my collection. But it's from 1979.

As a further aside, Ho-Ho's might be my favorite snack from my childhood. Who can beat whipped cream wrapped in a devil's food chocolate cake, then dipped in chocolate?

Anyway, I recently received an e-mail from the proprietor of Von's Cards asking me if I needed the 1979 Hostess Robin Yount card. Von and I have crossed paths a few times at the local card show here in Roswell, including one show where I was helping his teenage daughter find some cards that she liked in a dime box.  

Von warned me that the card had a crease on it, but I told him not to worry -- that I was almost positive that the card would be in better shape than my current version.  I guessed correctly on that:

Yeah, there's a crease on the bottom, but this card has sharper corners and the card is pretty much intact! Of course that is an upgrade from the old card.

Von, thank you very much for the upgrade. Upgrades are always good.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

2015 Topps Comes to 30350

It seems everyone has weighed in on 2015 Topps already.  People love this set, and for all the right reasons.  It's not for "SICK HITZZZZZZZZZZ", even if there are a number of very desirable and collectible autograph inserts in the set.  

It's not for Topps recycling some old set's design for a mini insert set, either. Thankfully, after minis from 1987, 1972, and 1989, this set is free of such shenanigans so far. That's not to say that this set doesn't have about 15 too many insert sets, mind you, but it is to say that, at least in Series 1, Topps did not turn to the past to try to sell this year's cards.

No, the 2015 Topps set is being praised for being a break from the boring white bordered cards that have stained our collective hands since around 2009 or so. Now, not everyone likes the set, to be fair, but generally most people seem to be revelling in the fact that the set has color everywhere.

About a week ago, I got the results of joining the jumbo pack hobby case break that Chris over at Nachos Grande ran over the first couple of weeks of February. I definitely appreciate the Brewers base cards in the new flagship -- they are good looking cards:

Not on the Team anymore, Part I

Not on the team Anymore, Part II

Not on the Team Anymore, Part III

Another photo of Braun batting bugeyed...

These are reasonably attractive cards, for the most part. The use of proper team colors -- or close to team colors -- is a nice touch.  There are still too many of those "way too close" shots of guys hitting (at least on the Brewers) for my taste, but these are a definite upgrade from past years' cards.

Now, I will say, I should have known better than to invest in a case break involving the Brewers and Topps, but this case break was a particularly bad one for me. In all, outside of base cards, I received a grand total of three parallels and one buyback -- and that is it.  

I wasn't expecting much, but I was hoping for, maybe, one or two gold parallels. Nope.  The saving grace here was the 1978 Topps buyback of Moose Haas, who at least is a PC for me (none of the 2015 Topps parallel guys are).

I guess I should have known better than to sign up for this. Here's a quick study by the numbers as to why: if you go to Cardboard Connection's 2015 Topps Series 1 page and search on the page for "Milwaukee", you get 33 total hits on that word.  

Of those 33 hits:

10 are the Series 1 base cards.
2 are the "Career High Relics Set" cards for Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun.
4 are for the "In the Name Relics" set for Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Gomez, Francisco Rodriguez, and Jonathan Lucroy.
1 is for the Carlos Gomez card in the "Robbed" insert set -- a retail exclusive insert.
1 is the Ryan Braun Strata Signature Relics card for Ryan Braun.
15 are for Milwaukee Braves cards in various insert sets.

So, in the inserts, we're looking at 8 different Brewers cards (7 of which might have been in this break) versus 15 cards for a team that ceased to exist 50 years ago.

For comparison, there are 87 Yankees hits on that page -- 14 base set cards and 73 different random inserts, relics, retail/Target only inserts, etc.  The Twins tie the Brewers with 18 hits -- of which 11 are base cards.  Other teams, for comparison: Padres at 27, Royals at 34, Marlins at 30, Mets at 52, and Astros at 33.  

In other words, I should have known better.

But, that is not a commentary on Chris's break at all. Chris did a great job with the break, churning through the case quickly and getting the cards out to everyone extremely fast.  I highly recommend to anyone considering entering a case break to join in Chris's Group Break for the 2015 TOPPS HERITAGE combined with 2004 Topps Clubhouse Collection.  Slots for the break are $50 a piece and include shipping costs already.  

Chris combined the Brewers slot with the Diamondbacks -- so, are there any Arizona Diamondbacks fans in the blogosphere who want to split that spot with me?