Tuesday, October 27, 2015


I went on a little COMC spree again this month. While most of my funds were expended adding to my Ryan Braun and Eddie Mathews collections (and more on that later), I added several cards to my Harvey Kuenn collection.  

So, in the interest of randomization and avoiding work that I should be doing, here's a little blog post based around the results of a Google search for "Harvey."

1. Harvey

Jimmy Stewart played the lead character Elwood P. Dowd in the 1950 classic movie based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name. The movie is about Dowd, a man who is an alcoholic who swears that his best friend is a six-foot rabbit named Harvey. His family thinks he's insane, but their attempts to institutionalize Dowd bring the family closer together.  

Apropos of nothing, here's a couple of great Harvey Kuenn cards bringing some baseball greats together:

In the top photo (and I think it's from left to right), we see Billy Martin, Al Kaline, and Harvey Kuenn greeting Donnie Most and Richie Cunningham...oh, wait, that's Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford.  That makes more sense.  

In the bottom photo, we see a group of guys brought together in a parking garage out of respect for Watergate informant Deep Throat.  Actually, no, that's wrong too.  From left to right again, we have Jim Hegan (Mike's dad), Billy Martin, Ray Boone (Bob's dad, Bret's and Aaron's grandad), Harvey Kuenn, future U.S. Senator Jim Bunning, and Al Kaline in a 1958 photo.

Both of these cards are from the Homeplate Sports Cards "Al Kaline Story" set from 1983 -- the BOX for which is available on eBay now. Run Julie! Run for your Life!

2.  Game 1 World Series Pitching Preview

I've linked to the Game 1 preview on ESPN, featuring Matt Harvey and Edinson Volquez.  I rarely visit or watch ESPN these days.  If I do, it's to watch a game.  

I really don't like what's happened to ESPN over the past 15 years or so. It seems as if once guys like Keith Olbermann and Craig Kilborn (the first host of the Daily Show... seriously) started getting gigs beyond being ESPN anchors, everybody on the network started running shtick like a bunch of comedians on cocaine benders in the 1970s.  

Soon thereafter, every segment on SportsCenter was sponsored by Coors Light or GE or Nissan or Joe's Crab Shack and featured one white guy and one black guy yelling at one another about Tim Tebow while a pretty woman watched. Not long after that, the network's entire daily program starting being a white guy and a black guy yelling at one another about Tim Tebow while a pretty woman watched.

And the weird thing is that someone is ... no, actually, a LOT of someones ... are clearly watching this drivel.


Now, tying again to nothing in this short rant...Harvey Kuenn cards!

Gee, these two cards are swell.  Well, one literally is a Swell Baseball Greats card from 1989.  The other is from Bazooka a/k/a Topps in 1993 and is a Topps "Quadracard" from the Archives.  You'll note that Harvey's card in that set must be one of the original "Pinktober" cards.

3. Steve Harvey Mentoring Program In Atlanta

Steve Harvey is a very funny man. His hosting of Family Feud makes the show worth watching, despite the cringe-worthy double entendre that invades half the questions on the show and despite some of the absolutely stupid ways the producers come up with for male and female anatomical parts, for sex, for farting, and for other bodily parts.

Of course, sometimes Steve isn't the highlight of the show:

Talk about the farmer's daughters....or the farmers themselves, I suppose.

What works with this?

For a truly vintage Family Feud contestant, how about some truly vintage Harvey Kuenn cards -- 1956, 1957, and 1963 Topps, from the top.  I really like the 1957 card -- it's about the only one I've ever seen of Harvey with a ball in his hand.  Most of his cards are like the 1963 -- "here's Harvey hitting."

Still, all three of these cards are pretty awesome, though the color combination on the 1963 Topps isn't exactly easy on the eyes. The red circle sticks out a lot. Like double D's on Carly.


4.  Harvey Mudd College

Harvey Mudd College is one of the Claremont Colleges in California. Renown as one of the top small science and engineering schools in the country, Mudd is very selective, accepting just over 13% of applicants in 2014.  

I remember hearing from Harvey Mudd when I was a high school senior and being interested for less than a minute or so. I was certain I wanted to be a lawyer and that going to an engineering school wouldn't help me with that.  I was wrong -- I could have gone to an engineering school.  I just don't know if I would have liked a school with just 750 students.

My last Harvey Kuenn two cards to share are pretty cool and should be kept by a pretty select group too. 

On the left, we have the Topps Stamp from 1962.  The yellow background is far better for this card than that red one from the 1963 Topps.

On the right, we have another red bordered card, this time from the 1981 Detroit News 100th Anniversary set called Detroit's Boys of Summer -- available from Amazon in its original box for just $42.99 (so I'm guessing that it should cost about $15 or so).  Still, that set sounds like it is a must-have for a Tigers' collector.

Thanks for reading -- and don't forget that there are just a couple of days left in my contest. I'll be going to Jacksonville later this week for the Georgia/Florida "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" so posting might be sparse here until next week.

Go Dawgs!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

I Like Free Stuff

Everyone likes free stuff, right? I mean, 

Now that I have everyone's attention, let me remind you that, if you haven't already entered one of my two contests -- either where you tell the story of your best card show find or, if you've never been to a card show, you tell me what you'd try to find at a card show.  Yes, it's two different contests.

Speaking of free stuff, I like the fact that COMC gives free store credit back when you buy stuff there.  I tend to load up on cheap cards -- no more than $1 or $2 -- when I shop there, so I hit their numbers to get credit pretty regularly.  I should have waited on shipping these to myself until I made my next order, but then I got a free shipping card...and I couldn't wait.  I wanted these cards NOW, if not sooner.

As a result and instead of waiting, I got a 7-card shipment from COMC.  The first card out of the package adds one card to my Jonathan Lucroy collection:

Perhaps the more-in-the-know-than-me people can tell me the difference this year in Finest between a refractor and a base card.  This card was sold as a refractor, but it was less expensive than Luc's base card. Add in the fact that the refractors don't say refractor anywhere, and I'm confused.  I mean, the base cards seem to have a slightly darker background when scanned versus the refractors but otherwise, the difference is as clear as a Scottish peat bog.

Mmmm, peat bogs....best when used to make Scotch, of course.

The other 6 cards from COMC filled in a few gaps in my Robin Yount collection.  With these six, my Yount collection stands at an even 800 cards -- which would be cause for a contest but, hey, I'm already holding one!

Anyway, here are those six cards, in no particular order:

So, from the top, I got a mini photo variation from 2015 Gypsy Queen, a 2013 Topps Tribute base card, the 2001 UD Decade 1970s Rookie Flashback card (which shows Yount at some point a good ten-plus years after his rookie year, oddly), a 2005 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes base card, a 2003 Donruss Elite All-Time Career Best highlighting Yount's 49 doubles in 1980 (a season in which Yount racked up an excellent 82 extra-base hits (49 2Bs, 10 3Bs and 23 HR...numbers he surpassed in 1982 with 46 2Bs, 12 3Bs, and 29 HRs for 87 extra-base hits), and, finally, the 1999 SP Signature Edition -- the year that everyone started going retired-player crazy in issuing sets, it seems.  Was this set so popular that every one of the card issues said "yeah, let's do that"?

Because these cards deserve a song, let's go straight for the obvious.

Thanks for reading and please, enter my contests.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Veal: It's What's For Dinner

D.Hoff at Coot Veal and the Vealtones posts trade bait from time to time. His job as a professor keeps him pretty busy, so sometimes a few weeks pass between his posts. But, when he does post, his trade bait can pack a punch.

A few weeks ago, I had a spare moment and took a look at his site. And, I took the bait.  I saw a card that I really, really wanted:

A real live Eddie Mathews relic card.  I'm quite sad, actually, that this card exists, because it means that Upper Deck apparently/allegedly bought an article that someone "certified to [Upper Deck] as having been used in an official Major League Baseball game."  Considering the card came out in 2006, this certified swatch of fabric that got annihilated into small pieces allegedly would have had to have been at least 32 years old when it was cut up -- and that assumes that the swatch came from Mathews's final season as a manager -- 1974 with the Atlanta Braves.  

That card was definitely the highlight of the package from D.Hoff.  It was the Veal Osso Bucco of the package, if you will.  

Now, that was not the only highlight of the trade package that came my way.  D.Hoff sent a ton of cards.  For instance, how about a great oddball card of Paul Molitor and his dog?

I bet little Boomer wouldn't have minded getting a few Milk Bones when daddy was cooking up something for himself...maybe some Veal Chops?

D.Hoff also threw in some juicy autographs for me.  I wanted this one, from the 2012 Great Upper Deck Sticker Dump set, because it's a Yovani Gallardo stickergraph for my Gallardo collection:

Stickergraphs go well with obnoxious, overexposed Scottish chefs cooking veal escalope with caponata. Okay, to be fair, this clip comes from that overexposed chef's show The F Word, which was much more watchable than the choreographed drivel that is Masterchef: America or Hell's Kitchen or Kitchen Nightmares:

A serial numbered gem or two also came to me from D.Hoff.  Actually, there were many serial numbered gems, but let's look at a card that Ryan Braun shares with Ryan Zimmerman:

This card actually became more correct since its release. At the time, it was just two guys named Ryan who could hit pretty well and played in the National League.  Now, it's two guys named Ryan who sometimes hit well when they aren't fighting injuries and who claimed at one point in their respective careers to be third basemen but now have been put in the outfield for their own -- and the team's -- good.

I'm sure that some folks would disagree with me, but cooking veal seems to be akin to this card in a strange way. It takes a lot longer than people might expect to get the results you want or even predict, but a good veal marengo from the crock pot can be well worth the wait.

Okay, let's do a bit of a scan dump here.  I only had time to scan a few of the cards, honestly, but they really were all excellent cards and most of them (maybe all -- I haven't checked for sure) were needed for my collection:

Again, this is just a sampler of the great cards that D.Hoff sent my way.  The total number of cards was probably close to 75 to 100, I'd estimate.  There's everything from a card that the Chop Keeper profiled earlier this year -- the Slumpbuster 1989 Hillshire Farms/Kahn's Cooperstown Collection with the weirdly drawn face and feet of Eddie Mathews -- to 1959 Andy Pafko to a 2015 Topps Ryan Braun Career High Insert to a few Gold cards from 5 to 10 years ago to a Lucroy Chrome Heritage card.  

These cards have me licking my chops!

D.Hoff -- thanks for the great cards you sent my way, and I hope you could use and are enjoying the cards I sent to you!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Trivial Pursuits: Trade with Bubba's Bangin' Batch of Baseball Bits

I have mentioned before here that I play trivia on a website called Learned League that is known for having a bunch of very smart trivia players on it. The LL website has normal leagues complete with promotion and relegation among levels ranging from E up to A that run for a six-week period. After the six-week regular ends, the next six weeks are populated by special competitions called mini leagues that run for three-week periods.  

This fall, two of the three mini leagues were totally in my wheelhouse of trivia.  The first was college football.  I did not do as well as I would have liked, finishing fourth in my group despite having the second-most correct answers in the group. Still, it was great fun and totally enjoyable.  If you'd like to try your hand at the questions, go here and click through the questions on the right hand side.

The second one has been just as enjoyable -- perhaps more so for me. It is '80s Music. As anyone who has read my blog knows, I love music and often use music for topics to write about with the cards I get. Add in the fact that I graduated high school in 1990 and pretty much listened more to music than any other activity available to me during the 1980s, and you would guess that I am doing pretty well on the questions.

So, I thought I'd combine the trivia from the Mini League with the cards that I received recently from Bubba's Bangin' Batch of Baseball Bits, the excellent Allen & Ginter-focused blog owned and operated by Matt Stupienski. If you have any questions about any of the Ginter insert sets, Matt is the man to ask.  He's also the man when it comes to sending me some great cards...setting a high bar for me for my return package.  What did he send?

I'm glad you asked.  But first, answer this question, from match day 1:
What song, which sat atop both Swedish and German charts on this day in 1987, had a video directed by Simon West (Con Air), which featured (as a bartender!) Clive Clarke, famed member of Top of the Pops' dance troupe, Zoo? Click here.
I promise, that is the only time I won't put up the video here.

Everyone back?  Good.

That was a cruel way to start out our trivia game.  It was not cruel of Matt, however, to send me a couple of great cards from this year's 10th anniversary Allen & Ginter online special set:

Topps sold this set online only -- a move which I didn't even notice until the boxes had sold out. The black A&G cards look very sharp to me -- I love the black borders and the black background makes the art look a ton better than the white background, which seems to bleach out the color.  So, putting the cards online and selling them there only like these A&G X cards are like the bastard child of Topps minis and Turkey Red was just annoying.  

Sort of like getting Rickrolled on your first trivia question with "Never Gonna Give You Up".

Question 2

In November 1987, a cover of a Tommy James and the Shondells song was replaced at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 by a cover of a different Tommy James and the Shondells song.Name both cover artists, whose versions were later lampooned on Weird Al Yankovic's Even Worse (as "I Think I'm a Clone Now" and "Alimony", respectively). Two answers required.

Here's the Weird Al video for "I think I'm a Clone Now".

It's a fitting song for these mini parallels:

From here on in my collecting life, I'm going to start humming that song whenever I start hitting this mini parallels. We have 2011 well represented, along with one each from 2010 and 2012.  All of these were needed for the various player collections.

Your answers from above? The artists were Tiffany for her cover of "I Think We're Alone Now" and Billy Idol for his cover of Mony Mony:

Next Question:

What R.E.M. song, which featured a wah-wah-pedal guitar solo and two modulations, did singer Michael Stipe refer to as a "fruitloop song" while guitarist Peter Buck called it "the stupidest song we've ever written"? (It quickly became the band's biggest hit of the 1980s.)

Accompanying the question was this photo:

Being someone who spent three-plus years of my life in Athens and loving every minute of being in that city even today, I had to get this one right.

Criticizing parallels as overdone is a common thread for me, to be fair. In large part, it's because Topps overdoes the parallels.  But many times, those cards end up looking pretty good.  This is especially true of some of the Gold parallels:

Perhaps it is because I bought a case of the 2013 Topps Series 2 and broke it last year, but that Segura card looks about 800 times better than its white bordered base card equivalent. On the other hand, the Braun Bowman does not look at all better than its black bordered base card equivalent.  

So, which song did Michael Stipe call the "Fruitloop song"?

There are several live concert versions of this song available on YouTube, which raises the question: if they hate the song so damn much, why do they still play it live?

Now face North!

Two more questions.  Here's the second to last one:

Pictured here are stills from the videos for all four singles from what 1989 album?

What could possible go with this nostalgia fest? How about a couple of inserts from the 2008 Topps insert set called Trading Card History?

Yes, that's it.

I couldn't imagine either Ryan Braun or Prince Fielder listening to the album that is the subject of this question. Braun's more of a hip-hop guy -- his Miami roots showing, I'd guess...his at-bat music last year was one of two song: "Dreams and Nightmares" by Meek Mill and "A Dream" by Jay Z.  

Fielder has broader tastes -- using "Moments in Love" by Art of Noise, "Man of the Year" by Schoolboy Q, "Down for My Niggaz" by C-Murder featuring Snoop Dogg and Magic, and "Requiem: Lacrimosa" by notorious gangster rapper Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

But neither of them are repping "Deadbeat Club," or "Channel Z" or "Roam" or "Love Shack" from the B-52s big hit in 1989, Cosmic Thing.  I love "Deadbeat Club" because it name checks a few great Athens places like the since-departed Allen's and its 25-cent beers. "Love Shack" brings up the Atlanta Highway too.  Basically, it's one big paean to Athens. 

Final question

Five-word phrases regarding Milli Vanilli:
  • "Girl You Know It's True"
  • [What telephonically themed Billboard chart-topper?]
  • "Blame It on the Rain"
  • Best New Artist Grammy rescission
  • Fraud-related lawsuits by the dozens

Let's be clear. I don't equate this fantastic card with the frauds that were Milli Vanilli. But this card goes with a great story about Milli Vanilli:

This 2015 Allen & Ginter card has the 10th Anniversary Issue foil on it. It didn't make a big first impression on me until I turned the card over...and lo and behold, there it was -- the card is serial numbered as #4 of 10 total.  That is awesome.

Okay, now Milli Vanilli.  I told my story in the past about buying the "you sing the hits of Milli Vanilli."  I really remember "Blame it on the Rain" because we sang it with thick hick accents. I also remember "Girl You Know It's True" because we sang the bass lines repetitively during the song.  But, we also sang the song that the question sought:

Matt, thank you very much for the great cards. I just hope I haven't besmirched your good name by including a Milli Vanilli reference here!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Trade with Mets Cardboard

Some days, the inspiration to write comes easily. On those days, it feels as though I could post four or five times in a day and it would all make sense.

Today is not one of those days. 

I went to Georgia's Homecoming game against Missouri yesterday. It was a defensive struggle of a game -- two good defenses squaring off against two very troubled offenses. The same Georgia defense that gave up 38 points in back-to-back weeks (and yes, apologists for the defense can point out that 14 points against Alabama did not come against the defense, but, yeah, what about that brutally horrible game against Tennessee?) held Mizzou's "offense" to just 6 points while Georgia's "offense" put up 9 points in 5 red-zone opportunities.  

Three of those points came on an opening drive for Missouri that started on the half-yard line thanks to a Greyson Lambert interception on the first play of the game from scrimmage -- a play on which Lambert stared down tight end Jeb Blazevich, noted that Jeb was bracketed with double coverage, and then threw the ball anyway.  Only Malcolm Mitchell's TD-saving tackle -- followed by a fantastic defensive stand -- held Mizzou to a field goal on that drive.

Back to struggling to write, though.  Thing is, that game started at 7:45 PM in Athens -- a 70-mile drive -- and ended around 11 PM.  A 20-minute walk to the car and a fairly brisk 90-minute drive back to Atlanta, and I was home at around 12:45 AM...then couldn't get to sleep until nearly 2 AM.

So, today, while many folks cast aspersions on the "here's what I got" posts, I'm putting up a "here's what I got" post.  I made a trade with Justin from Mets Cardboard. Like many collectors, he has his collection posted on Zistle -- man, I should really get my Zistle updated... -- so I was able to put together a pretty good package of things he needed in exchange for some great cards that I needed.  

Here are the highlights.  

As you would expect from a Mets collector, Justin had some extra Gary Carter cards laying around. As my Carter collection (now up to 231 cards) is a bit lacking in the late 1980s/early 1990s junk wax era, I got a few cards here to fill those gaps:

I am embarrassed to note that I did not have the 1990 Topps card in my collection before this package arrived.  Truly shocking.  But that play-at-the-plate Carter with Fred McGriff sliding in from the 1993 Topps set -- Carter's sunset card, since he retired in 1992 -- is one of his best action photos.  Before this, most of Carter's cards tended either to be posed photos of Carter smiling or of him at the plate.  But, for his last card, it's as if Topps remembered Carter is a catcher who was a great hitter rather than just being a great hitter.

I also received some post-Brewers Paul Molitor cards that I did not have in my collection:

Paul Molitor had such a sweet swing. Most scouts will tell you that left-handed hitters are far more likely to have a quiet, picturesque swing that hitting coaches would want to teach. Molitor had one of those swings, but from the right side of the plate.  He always stayed on the pitches, and he was rarely completely fooled.

Another player who was a very good hitter -- though nowhere near as good, obviously -- was Jeff Cirillo.

There is good and bad to having been away from card collecting for nearly 25 years. The good is that there are plenty of cards on my want lists that are incredibly common cards for other collectors to send to me in trade.  The bad is that sometimes, those common cards can be tough to find because no one bothers to put a 2006 Topps Updates and Highlights Jeff Cirillo on eBay for someone to buy for a penny.  Heck, no one even puts one on Listia.

Finally, I was also the recipient of two cards from the 1990s of two players from the 1950s and 1960s:

When life brings you a Mathews and a Spahn, you gratefully take those cards in and get excited for the fact that new cards of these two players get made all the time.  It really is a good thing.

Now, that is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the cards that I received.  But, as I said, when inspiration is lacking, sometimes it's just a good thing to get up a basic "thank you" post.  

So, thanks for the great cards, Justin, and good luck to your Mets in the NLCS!