Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Last day to enter my contest

Just a reminder that this is the last day to enter my contest. Go HERE.

More important than the contest, check out the Q&A with the awesome Josh Kusnick and the incredible collecting feat he accomplished.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Fuji hits it here

 A few days ago, San Jose Fuji sent out about 100 packages. I was happy to see my zip code listed on his outgoing mail list. That always makes me feel special.

Seriously, here's Fuji's mailing. Other post office customers must have been very happy with him.
The majority of the package was filled with Tinos from the '90s, which is always fun. Even when I have many of them, it feels like an opportunity to look through them and appreciate them again, something I don't do enough with my collection.
For instance, this 1998 Pinnacle Hit It Here insert card.
Or this 1997 Topps Stars base card, which was a very premium set back in 1997. I remember seeing these cards featured on the page of Beckett. I even got the courage to buy a pack once, and pulled a Vernon Wells rookie that I actually sold a friend for $5.

The '90s had great sets. I know they were and still are confusing waters to navigate for sellers, but cards like this make it worth it:
Fuji also sent two cards of 2017 Yankees All-Stars Dellin Betances and Luis Severino. While Betances really lost his way in the last few weeks of the season, his overall body of work was solid and he's still an asset moving forward.
Severino is a Cy Young finalist, and while he won't win, a 23-year-old finalist for such an award is incredible, especially given he lost his rotation spot in 2016.

Fuji, thanks my friend!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Mirror, Mirror on the wall

I don't see many Tino Martinez cards I need on eBay these days, at least ones I can afford. I'm at the point now if one comes up for $.99 with $3 shipping, I strongly consider it. I don't love paying so much to ship one card, But when it's a rarer relic, it makes the decision a bit easier.

This was the case with my newest Tino, this 2004 Leaf Certified Materials Mirror Blue bat relic, numbered 50/100. I had both the Red and White versions, so the blue was much needed. There is also a Gold (/50), Emerald (/5), and Black (/1). I haven't seen any of those listed.

They are great looking cards, and I assume the Emerald ones in particular are beautiful.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

PWE Habit

A few days ago, I got a surprise PWE from my friend Robert over at $30 A Week Habit. It contained two cards, and both were new to me.
I'll start with a new Tino! Robert was kind enough to see this in a dollar bin at a show and snagged it for me. I didn't have it, and it becomes Tino #821. I am missing a ton of parallels from Tino's "lost years" with the Cardinals and Rays. This is a gold parallel from a pretty forgettable set, Upper Deck MVP. According to BaseballCardPedia.comhttp://www.baseballcardpedia.com/index.php/Main_Page, there are also silver and black parallels (#'d to 50). Looks like I need to track those down, although I could totally have the silver and just not know it, thinking it's the base.
One thing I really liked about 2017 Topps was the return of legends parallels. I enjoyed when Topps did this earlier in the decade, and was happy to see them come back. Some of the photos were really great too. This Babe Ruth is actually Series 2 #580. It's sister card in Series 2 is Matt Holliday. In searching for this card, it was tough to find info on it...it's actually the Super SP! WHOA! An SSP! Very rare card, indeed, and the first of it's kind that has ever been in my possession.

I literally had no idea it was an SSP, and I'm going to venture a guess that Robert might not of either. I think we're both "regular" collectors and things like this don't dawn on us. It's hard enough to keep up with the SP variations. Throw another "S" on there and how could you ever know?

Robert, thanks for looking out for me, pal!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

An amazing collecting feat (+ a contest!)

A few nights ago on Twitter, Joshua Kusnick showed off an incredible collecting feat - he completed the 1988 Pacific Legends set with an autographed card from everyone who was alive at the time of the set's release - 171 signed cards! And it only took him 29 years to do it. I had a hard enough time with my Topps Yankees Project, but this is other-worldly!
I first met Josh on Twitter a little over year ago (follow him HERE), when I was attempting to do a blog Q&A with Yankees prospect and autograph hound Tim Lynch. You see, Josh is an MLBPA agent and reps several different guys. However, he is a collector too, and a damn dedicated one at that. An agent and a collector? Sign me up. Sounds like a dream career!

Josh was kind enough to answer a few questions about his collecting quest. Please enjoy his responses, check out a few of the photos he provided, and look out for a contest below as well.
Lost Collector (LC): Give me a brief description of you for those who don't know you?
Joshua Kusnick (JK): I’m a 35-year-old MLBPA agent. I rep Carlos Asuaje, Seth Lugo, Jeremy Jeffress, and Steve Selsky amongst the list and have done work for Mike Brantley since ‘05. And Tim Lynch!!

LC: Tell me about the project. How did it start? Why this particular set?
JK: I have had 43 surgeries for bladder exstrophy and my dad would always write letters to players with his childhood cards to get signed while I was sick. The 1988 Pacific Legends set was one of the first we got - series 1 then obviously series 2. The first card show we went to was in St. Pete, FL in ‘89 – DiMaggio, Williams, Killebrew, Mantle, Bob Allison, and a super ticket on flats was like 75.00 for all in attendance. I still remember every bit of that day.

Note: Josh's story of overcoming bladder exstrophy is truly remarkable. Read this SI piece about him HERE

LC: What was the toughest card to track down?
JK: Vic Raschi, Charlie Keller, Doc Cramer, Rip Sewell, Zoilo Versailles and Sal Maglie and any version of Roy Campanella - either machine or wife-assisted. Roy could not sign post-accident and looking back it’s kind of macabre but the machine his wife would sign and he’d essentially hold the pen. Yeesh.

LC: Any good stories during the in-person (IP) signings?
JK: Buddy Lewis! He owned a car dealership in NC post-career for years and was super gracious to me when it came to signing. That first show meeting Williams and DiMaggio changed my life.

LC: Who helped the most along the way? 
JK: My dad....and really my autograph friends over the years especially Jeff Sachs. Really though the players via TTM, the non-stars like Jim Perry, helped the most.
LC: 29 years on a project is a long time. Did you ever want to give up or think that it just wasn’t going to happen?
JK: I just assumed it was finished. My dad started this with me and he happened to be at my house 2 days ago. I had insomnia and every 6 months I’d check for any version of Campy and low and behold I found one for the first time ever. I’d still buy the machine version should someone have one but now it’s done 171-171 maybe only one ever and I’m still shocked.

Also there was a 1-month window for Harvey Kuenn and Ted Kluszewski to sign the cards before they passed. I’d pay anything for either should they exist. I’d literally trade my signed Koufax ‘55 Topps RC PSA for both of them lol.

LC: What’s your favorite card in the set?
JK: Buck Walters. Ironically the hardest pain in the ass card to find for years. Campy you expect given his health but Walters? It took YEARS.

LC: Do you have any projects on the horizon?
JK: Well there is 29 unsigned cards. I need 29 cuts up next. Ruth, Gehrig, Clemente, Munson, Cobb, Hornsby....I’m sure that’ll be cheap lol! I obviously can’t afford all that but maybe one day!
Lastly, what advice do you have to collectors with lofty project goals?
Pick a new set and start the day you get it. The faster you act the better the odds. Me finishing the set is the dumbest luck of all time.

Also I’m working on the 99/00 Topps Stadium Club hockey set and have 196/200 done I need Martin Straka (who doesn’t seemingly sign that card), Scott Stevens, Tony Amonte (whom I’ll eventually get), and Harry York the white whale since he’s essentially vanished off the face of the earth.
Contest time!

Josh has graciously offered up a duplicate signed card from this 1988 Pacific Legends set to one random winner. To enter, please do one or both of these things:

1. Any comment below - one entry
2. Suggest how Josh should display this set - additional entry 

Contest will close November 14 at 11:59pm ET. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

A little bit of Update

For the first time in a while, I set aside a few minutes during my all-too-busy weekends to drop by Target and grab some cards. I wanted some Topps Update before the baseball season ended.

Unexpectedly, I had my three-year-old daughter in tow...which made everything a little more difficult. I was happy to have her, as she cornered me as I was leaving and asked if she could go to the store with me. I had to pick up a few grocery items there too, and as many of you know, everything takes approximately 7x longer with a three-year-old along for the ride.

Naturally, in the 10 minute drive to Target, she falls asleep in the car. When I try to wake her up to go into the store, she has no desire whatsoever. Over the course of about 5 minutes, she went from singing a song about pumpkins to sleeping to resisting going into the store. Great.

I finally coax her in, and I decided to pick up the food items first. It took me awhile since I was unfamiliar with grocery section there. Finally, after what seems like hours (really it was probably 15 minutes), I make my way over to the cards. I had my mind made up that if I saw one, I'd get a 72-card hanger box of Update. They had a couple, so I let my daughter choose which one.

On my way home, I realized that I completely forgot to look for Topps Fire. I would have liked to grab some, but I literally didn't even browse. I saw the purple box with Aaron Judge on it, snagged it, and got out of the store.

Overall, not the best nor the worst break. I got a few cards I liked. I will say that although these have about the same number of cards as a blaster, it's less fun opening the big brick versus individual packs.

Here are a few of the highlights:
I got three Yankees cards, and two were of of retired Hall of Famers. I was happy to get the Boggs, as I may send this to him (along with the $5 fee) for a TTM request. Would be a cool card to have signed.

I like the Judge/Bird combo. I assume this shot is from Bird's first homer of the season on April 16th versus St. Louis.
Jaime Garcia is pictured as a Brave. That was two teams ago, as he was traded to the Twins then Yankees. I would have liked a Yankee card of him, as I don't anticipate him coming back to NY.
This is a great card! Glad it was captured.
I did get one of the vintage cardstock parallels of Astros rookie Derek Fisher, not to be confused with the former Knicks coach.
I seem to pull a lot of Rockies parallels, as I did here with this Topps Gold of Antonio Senzatela.
I also pulled a photo variation SP of Tyler Glasnow. I wouldn't have noticed except I did look at each cards back for a different ID number on the bottom. Interestingly, this is actually a Series One card.

I'm still looking for a bunch of the Yankees from this set, so if you've got any extras, please let me know.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Thanks, Joe

Yesterday, the Yankees announced that Joe Girardi will not be returning as manager.

I think Girardi did a very good job over the course of his tenure. He never once had a losing season, and there were a few teams that easily could have lost more than they won. The 2013 and 2014 Yankees come to mind.

I do appreciate steadiness and consistency, which he had. I didn't mind his over reliance on the binder. He was right a lot more than he was wrong.

I figuered he'd be gone after Game 2 of the ALDS, but then rebounded to lead the Yankees to withing one win of the World Series. After that, it seemed there was no way he wasn't coming back.

I also acknowledge there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes; things that go on between the owners and GM and the manager that we'll never know or see. I trust Cashman very much, so he must've had his reasons for not thinking Girardi was the man for the job. I also know he's too smart to let a good manager walk without having a replacement in mind. I highly doubt he's starting from scratch.

I don't know who the next manager will be, and I don't have a favorite or guy I hope for. I just hope it's someone who can successfully lead this new young core for the next few years.

I hope Joe finds happiness, whether he chooses to manage again right away (Nats?), goes back to TV, or just takes a year or two to slow down. He was a great manager, a good person, and represented the organization well.

Thanks, Joe!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

AOL - bringing fans and athletes together over the magical internet

In the summer of 1997, we finally got AOL at my house. Laugh now, but early-AOL was the coolest.

Eventually I stumbled upon newsgroups (I think that’s what they were called?) and forums, and even found a baseball card group where I could buy cards.

AOL had some features once in a while where you could chat with a pro baseball player. I remember Brad Ausmus being online under the screen name “Ausmus11”. Pretty cool.

Eventually, I found some TTM sites, and among those, some collectors described instances where you didn’t even need to send an actual letter – you could just email an address and receive an autograph in the mail. Autographs starting pouring in to my house of people I had never even heard of. Looking back, it was weird and I went overboard, but it was fun getting mail nearly every day simply by emailing celebrities and fan clubs.

However, there were some athletes who did this as well. One of those players was Mike Lieberthal of the Phillies. I believe you could send an email to his fan club address, and you’d get an autograph back in the mail. Pretty cool! And it worked! I got a signed photo and a card back. 
This type of thing didn’t really take off for athletes, and rightfully so. There are still some college athletics departments that send back signed photos of coaches via email request, which is cool in its own right. But I don’t blame players and fan clubs for never really getting on board with this, as it undoubtedly could become overwhelming very quickly.

Still, it's cool to have some autographs from the late ‘90s that were obtained by simply sending an email.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Murph

When I was in my early years – ages 4-6 – I knew baseball really well. Or at least as well enough as a kid that age could.

I knew who most stars played for. For example, I could tell you that Wally Joyner was an Angel or that Jim Rice was a Red Sox. It wasn’t a big deal to me at the time, I thought everyone knew these players. But I was often quizzed by my family in front of their friends, or my brother in front of his little league team. They always applied when I said that Bret Saberhagen was on the Royals, or that Mackey Sasser and Tim Teuful were Mets.

Having a five year old now, I can see that it definitely was pretty unique. My son can only name Babe Ruth and Michael Jordan as professional athletes. However, he can name and recognize almost any brand of car, and I like to make him do those tricks in front of others as well. My dad gets a kick out of him asking, “Hey Grandpa, what’s more aerodynamic, a Mustang or a Camaro?”

I say this all because while the Yankees have always been #1 for me, I loved all players and teams. I didn’t want just Yankee Starting Lineup figures – I wanted everyone so I could have a real All-Star game when I played with them.

And I didn’t just get Yankee cards as gifts. I got cards of everyone!

Personally, I can’t believe I still have this, but I’ve never gotten rid of it. One Christmas, my older brother gave me this:
It’s a piece of oddly shaped wood, with two Dale Murphy cards on it – the ’84 Topps an oversized edition. Again, back when I got this, I know I was amazed by it. Because any and all baseball stuff was cool! I know I hung it in my childhood room for years, and eventually tucked it away in all my card and memorabilia storage bins.

Somehow the plastic shrink wrap over the cards is still intact. I plan to keep it that way as long as I live.

My brother has never been the greatest at giving gifts, but this one certainly left an impression on a young kid.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Tanaka Time from a Rangers fan

I recently got a surprise package from Judson of My Cardboard Habit. He is a well-documented Rangers fan, so I have to assume the ALCS is a bit tough for him - the hated Yankees versus the hated Astros. From what I can tell, Rangers fans aren't particularly fond of the Astros, and some are actually rooting for the Yankees to come out of the AL.

I'm not sure where Judson falls on the issue, but that didn't stop him from sending me some great Yankees that he felt he needed to get out of the house.

The highlight of the package were a few Masahiro Tanaka cards, there hero of last night's Game 5 victory:
I think it's my first Tanaka relic, so that's cool. I also really like the diecuts, as I'm a sucker for those types of cards.
This is my first in-hand look at Inception. I really like the design. I can't believe Dellin Betances has been such a non-factor this post-season. From a four-time All-Star in the last four seasons to someone who can't even be trusted in mop-up duty. I really hope Betances is able to find peace this off-season, and fix the mechanical flaws that are causing his control issues. He's too good for this.

Judson also sent this cool DiMaggio Diamond King, as well as a Gary Sanchez coin.
Thanks for the cards, Judson!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A special card experience

Last night was one of my coolest experiences ever with cards.

I got home from work at about 8pm, just as the Yankees and Astros were about to start. Anxious to get the game on, I planned to quickly kiss each kid goodnight and get to a TV.

When I got to my son’s room, he asked for a “moving card” (Sportflix) because he had a good day at school. Instead, I asked him if he wanted one of the 30-card Dollar Tree repacks my mom gave him over the weekend (she gave him two of them on Sunday). He said yes.

Instead of just flipping through, he got to the first card, a Mike Pelfrey 2010 Topps, and asked how many home runs he had. I told him that he was a pitcher, and it might be easier to find how many strike outs he had. I showed him where to find that on the back of the card. For the next 15 minutes or so, we went through each of the 30 cards. Based on the picture, I’d have him guess if he was a hitter or pitcher. If he was a hitter, he’d find the “HR” column on the back and tell me how many career home runs he had. If he was a pitcher, he’d find the “SO” on the back and tell me how many strike outs.

It's been apparent for a while that my son has been fond of numbers and has taken to math at an early age. Out of the blue he’ll tell me that ten 100s equal one thousand and things like that. Not bad for a five-year-old, right? While he’s getting frustrated sounding out letters and words lately, numbers definitely come easier to him. Therefore, I shouldn’t act surprised that he’s enjoying looking at the backs of baseball cards, just like many of us did as youngsters.

I missed the top of the first inning because I was sitting in my kid’s bed looking at the backs of baseball cards with him. That experience was definitely more important and memorable than any inning of any Playoff game I’ll ever watch.