Friday, January 31, 2020

2019 Topps Holiday Walmart Box break

When it’s just about time for 2020 Topps flagship to show up - only now did I finally get my hands on one lousy box of this 2019 Walmart exclusive product.

I had to go to a different Walmart than the one I usually go to - I was able to buy a 2019 Bowman Platinum blaster there last year and thought it might be a place to check out.

This was the only baseball ‘thing’ in the little card section, but it was coming with me - I just hope it wasn't tampered with, being the only box left.

As I broke down the contents of the box, maybe it was decent since I pulled some 'Dollar Tree' keepers - a Fernando Tatis Jr. RC, a Francisco Lindor relic, a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. RC, a Pete Alonso RC and a Alonso RC Metallic Snowflake parallel.

I've seen some gimmicky effects added onto certain cards as variations - so I used the help of the linked Beckett guide to visually check if I pulled a card with a nice festive surprise hidden.

Pack one
#HW20 Harold Ramirez
#HW14 Mitch Haniger
#HW163 Hunter Dozier
#HW103 Yasiel Puig
#HW87 Albert Pujols - Metallic Snowflake
#HW81 Evan Longoria 
#HW73 Zack Greinke
#HW193 Josh Hader
#HW126 Fernando Tatis Jr.
#HW173 Trent Thornton

Pack two
#HW128 Khris Davis
#HW169 John Duplantier
#HW148 Aaron Judge

#WHR-FL Francisco Lindor - relic; looks like a bat piece
#HW2 Charlie Morton
#HW25 Joc Pederson
#HW21 Pedro Avila
#HW72 Christian Yelich

Pack three
#HW114 Thairo Estrada
#HW176 Freddie Freeman
#HW138 Nicky Lopez
#HW119 Lorenzo Cain
#HW5 Taylor Clarke
#HW175 Gary Sanchez - Metallic Snowflake
#HW44 Derek Dietrich
#HW167 Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
#HW8 Juan Soto
#HW113 Ozzie Albies

Pack four
#HW86 Jeff McNeil
#HW170 Yoan Moncada
#HW80 Scott Kingery
#HW34 Austin Meadows

#HW71 Pete Alonso - Christmas socks SSP?
#HW196 Charlie Blackmon
#HW24 Stephen Strasburg
#HW50 Max Scherzer
#HW93 Josh Donaldson
#HW104 Renato Nunez

Pack five
#HW180 Noah Syndergaard
#HW190 Corbin Martin
#HW139 C.C. Sabathia
#HW66 Griffin Canning
#HW12 Nick Anderson - Metallic Snowflake
#HW13 Hunter Renfroe
#HW11 Ryan Pressley
#HW174 Corey Seager
#HW171 Brendan Rodgers
#HW32 Jose Abreu

Pack six
#HW26 Anthony Rizzo
#HW3 Nate Lowe
#HW164 Kirby Yates
#HW134 Yasmani Grandal
#HW41 Max Muncy
#HW55 Josh Belle
#HW186 Jorge Alfaro
#HW63 Ryne Harper
#HW85 Ronald Acuña Jr. - Presents rare?
#HW88 Pablo Sandoval

Pack seven
#HW57 Matt Chapman
#HW28 D.J. LeMahieu
#HW60 Blake Snell
#HW191 Luis Arraez
#HW179 Tyler O’Neill
#HW71 Pete Alonso - Metallic Snowflake
#HW152 Aaron Nola
#HW45 Byron Buxton
#HW46 Hunter Pence
#HW158 Jorge Soler

Pack eight
#HW78 Justin Smoak
#HW33 Shohei Ohtani
#HW27 Giancarlo Stanton
#HW67 Max Kepler
#HW7 J.D. Hammer

#HW182 Gleyber Torres - Ugly Sweater wristbands SP?
#HW12 Nick Anderson
#HW87 Albert Pujols
#HW90 Hyun-Jin Ryu
#HW18 Dee Gordon

Pack nine
#HW77 Patrick Corbin
#HW9 Alex Verdugo
#HW149 David Peralta
#HW142 J.T. Realmuto
#HW45 Byron Buxton - Metallic Snowflake
#HW77 Luke Voit
#HW110 Anthony Rendon
#HW99 Will Smith
#HW133 Jose Berrios
#HW29 Mookie Betts

Pack 10
#HW38 Luis Castillo
#HW166 Tommy La Stella
#HW35 Alex Bregman
#HW168 Cole Tucker
#HW127 J.D. Martinez
#HW61 Orlando Arcia
#HW49 Spencer Turnbull
#HW168 Austin Allen
#HW117 Amed Rosario
#HW120 Tim Beckham

Thursday, January 30, 2020

40 card St. Louis Cardinals repack break

I spent $5 on 20 assorted MLB team repacks at the end of 2019 and while I've put the cards away the best as I could and/or count certain ones for my collecting topics subsets - I figure to share the results one team at a time, whenever I'm up for an evergreen post.

St. Louis Cardinals - 40 cards
1998 Fleer Tradition Update J.D. Drew #U100
1993 Topps Luis Alicea #257 - men at work
1989 Donruss Cris Carpenter #39
1983 Topps Ken Oberkfell #206

1992 Donruss Geronimo Pena #533 - in the air
1992 Upper Deck Cris Carpenter #686
1991 Topps Archives 1953 Harvey Haddix #273 - players smiling
1991 Donruss Pedro Guerrero #25 - hats-off
1993 Fleer Todd Zeile - dirt
1996 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice Alan Benes #695 - inking it up; have it
1993 Pinnacle Bien Figueroa #263 - nations / D.R. / Santo Domingo
1992 Upper Deck Todd Zeile #40
1996 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice John Frascatore #692
1988 Donruss Jack Clark #15
1992 Topps Gerald Perry #498 - horizontal
1996 Fleer Mark Sweeney #557
1993 Topps Felix Jose #67
1994 Topps Jose Oquendo #406 - facial hair
1996 Leaf Brian Jordan #142 - baserunning
1991 Topps Tim Jones #262 - dirt
1993 Fleer Bryn Smith #515 - facial hair
1996 Pinnacle John Mabry #26
1988 Donruss Jack Clark #15
1992 Topps Geronimo Pena - players smiling

1996 Upper Deck Tom Pagnozzi #439 - tools of ignorance; on the reverse; play at the plate.
1994 Topps Luis Alicea #416 - shades; on the reverse image
1993 Topps Bob Tewksbury #285 - grips
1992 Upper Deck Brian Jordan #3 - facial hair
1992 Topps Tom Pagnozzi #448 - Topps sampler run
1994 Topps Rheal Cormier #594 - Topps sampler run
1998 Donruss Royce Clayton #261 - players smiling on the reverse
1992 Donruss Rex Hudler #438

1992 Topps Bernard Gilkey #746 - hats-off
1993 Score Ozzie Smith #532 - posed
1992 Fleer Bryn Smith #590 - facial hair
1994 Leaf Ray Lankford #384 - players smiling on the reverse image
1997 Topps Gallery Alan Benes #26
1992 Donruss Luis Alicea #560
1994 Topps Rheal Cormier #594
1983 Topps Super Veterans Jim Kaat #673

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Some TTM autographs received in 2020

I got the bug to put together some autograph requests through the mail after writing exactly one TTM request in 2019 - I like getting stuff in the mailbox and tend to believe there will always opportunities to get successes even if the idea of writing someone and expecting an actual response is a little quaint and old fashioned.

John Verhoeven signed my Topps buyback card in about 6 days, giving me a new 'old-school' Angels autograph for my all-time collection - he also returned my letter with some responses, so sending him a request turned out pretty good, when the card was kind of just 'loose' in my collection.

Al Spangler signed my 1978 TCMA The 1960s card in about a couple of weeks giving me a new 'vintage' [considering the player, not the card] Angels autograph for my all-time collection - a couple of years ago, I set aside some cards I’d picked up as part of a couple of loose team sets [Angels and Giants] picturing some old-timers still living at the time.

I’d planned to send off the cards to be autographed but simply forgot about them - while former Angel Jim Coates passed and Del Crandall is now in a assisted living facility, I finally wrote to the other players that are still living at the moment.

- Bob Bolin - 1978 TCMA The 1960's - no response yet

- Eddie Bressoud - 1959 Topps and 1978 TCMA The 1960's - took a couple of weeks

- Jim Duffalo - 1978 TCMA The 1960's - took a couple of weeks

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Rest in Peace Kobe Bryant 1978-2020

I'm not going to mention every person that passes on and the idea of death is inevitably awkward, but it does seem to mean a little bit more when someone relatively notable passes like professional athlete or celebrity - maybe because they are in the spotlight and as far as Kobe goes, someone who was supposed to be larger than life.

A player's untimely passing makes me think for a moment about the times I've objectified these players as performers on the field, generating statistics I pore over on a day-to-day basis and guys whose autographs I have or don't have in my collection - at the end of the day, professional athletes are just like anybody else with their own lives.

I never collected his cards seriously or actually got his autograph in-person and maybe the closet thing I got from him was a glare when trying to take his picture leaving a baseball game with family - Kobe was the biggest deal for the longest time, even through his mess ups and feuds with a notable teammate on his own.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Card show rummage - tools of ignorance

I assume collecting catcher cards is a more of common 'thing' where I have seen at least a few other collectors post their pickups or display their cards - to me the cards are fun to look at because catchers stand out with their equipment, whether stationary or involved in some game action.

It wasn't the plan, but I ended up with 50 tools of ignorance cards during a card show run - I'm never going to get every card that applies to a collecting topic subset, but it's nice to build up a quantity 'adds' for one particular theme and actually take them home.

1982 Fleer Gary Allenson #287
1982 Fleer Marty Castillo #265
1982 Fleer Rich Gedman #294

1982 Fleer John Ellis #316
1982 Fleer Jim Sundberg #332
1982 Fleer Bruce Benedict #429
1987 Fleer Record Setters Rich Gedman #11 of 44
1988 Fleer Mike Heath #56

1988 Fleer Chris Bando #601
1991 Topps Stadium Club Mike Fitzgerald #128
1992 Bowman Brian Harper #149
1992 Bowman B.J. Surhoff #481

1992 Topps Stadium Club Junior Ortiz #727
1993 Score Select Joe Oliver #235

1993 Score Select Matt Nokes #368
1993 Topps Greg Olson #708
1993 Topps Stadium Club B.J. Surhoff #711
1993 Upper Deck Pat Borders #149
1993 Upper Deck Joe Kmak #782
1993 Upper Deck SP Tom Pagnozzi #77

1994 Donruss Dan Wilson #388 - I stumbled upon this card showing the Seattle Mariners catching great wearing the tools of ignorance; I might have left the card for another time, but I wouldn't ever think back of looking for this random catcher, especially with the picture on the reverse showing where the real 'action' is.
1994 Fleer Tony Pena #37
1994 Topps Darren Daulton #380
1995 Donruss Top of the Order Matt Walbeck #NNO
1995 Topps Pat Borders #424
1996 Donruss Mike MacFarlane #119
1996 Fleer Darren Daulton #494
1996 Pinnacle Ivan Rodriguez #59

1996 Pinnacle Terry Steinbach #284
1996 Skybox Metal Tony Eusebio #177
1996 Topps Ron Karkovice #52
1996 Topps Stadium Club Chris Hoiles #219

1997 Topps Stadium Club Mike MacFarlane #281
1997 Topps Stadium Club Sandy Martinez #371
1997 Upper Deck Scott Servais #33

1997 Upper Deck John Flaherty #491
1997 Upper Deck Charlie O'Brien #517
1998 Fleer Tradition Eddie Taubensee #493

1998 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice Brian Johnson #229
1999 Fleer Tradition Brad Ausmus #324
1999 Fleer Tradition Scott Servais #492
1999 Topps Javier Valentin #104
2000 Skybox Brad Ausmus #103
2000 Skybox Dominion Brad Ausmus #129
2000 Skybox Impact Dan Wilson #72
2002 Topps Jason Kendall #555
2004 Upper Deck Toby Hall #57
2005 Fleer Ultra Jason Varitek #136

2005 Topps Ramon Hernandez #424
2008 Upper Deck Gerald Laird #216

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

2020 Hall of Famers - Larry Walker and Derek Jeter

While never linked to any chicanery, I tend to think of Walker as a product of the era he played in through the mid 1990s and a Coors Field star - Walker also never struck me as a relatively healthy player, appearing in 145 or more games only once in his big league career [though after the fact, him playing in so many games a year maybe a little arbitrary, when he had legendary seasons regardless].

I thought those warts would prevent him from getting inducted in his last year on the ballot, but the most important thing to remember is when the modern analytics groupthink gets churning, it usually goes one way - there maybe something about a guy's numbers not getting any better once he retires, but I was resigned to seeing Walker get that one final push with the new age focus on viewing a player's career achievements.

Having a more nuanced, refined way to look at the advanced stats available is the norm vs. merely looking at the counting numbers, milestones and narratives - I tend to feel like the 'experts' can slice and dice a player's career to sell the public a bill of goods, but it's always for the guys they want inducted, the guys that fit their personal narratives.

Regardless of my personal opinions about certain 'borderline' guys, once a player like Walker is announced as a Hall of Fame inductee - it is a moment where his career is validated and maybe it's time to get clued-in on the things he was able to accomplish.

There might be a manhunt for the lone voter who prevented Jeter from being unanimous - it says more that only one person didn't find it in their mind to vote for Jeter than the idea it is some kind of injustice that 'Jeets' didn't end up following in former Core Four teammate Mariano Rivera's footsteps.

Maybe the fascinating thing about Jeter was how he was a No. 1 pick and a future star as soon as he turned pro - but while there were growing pains in the minors [with his defense in particular], the narrative was about how he always kept himself in check and mapped out his own blueprint to be the player he would become.

I found grumblings about his defense a little weird, but maybe it was a thing that emerged from early career scouting reports - but mushroomed to ridiculousness as people who didn't particularly like the attention showered on Jeter took him to task for his shortcomings.

Monday, January 20, 2020

TTM autographs received: Andrew Miller

The St. Louis Cardinals reliever signed my cards in about two or three years c/o Cleveland Indians spring training - being a lefty, he might get to pitch through his early 40s, but maybe age and usage has caught up with him.

When he finally found his groove as a big leaguer, Miller was a weapon out of the bullpen for the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Indians - despite only having one MLB season where he recorded 30 or more saves.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Enjoying a quaint card show rummage

My buddy took me to a card show and the last time I was there was when Albert Pujols hit his first Angels home run in 2012 - I also remember looking at a showcase that afternoon where I saw a BGS 9.5 2009 Bowman Sterling Mike Trout autograph for $100; I wouldn't have $100 to spend at any one time, but I'll wait and see if the hype falls down to earth; Trout is going to be a good player, a great player for the Angels but even the top prospects are going to be up-and-down; Harper is still the guy that is going to be a once in a generation superstar.

The place has never been anything big time, but I was glad it’s still around with 5-10 dedicated tables and some curious foot traffic - I didn't actually get to walk around much, but when I first tagged along with my friend to make trips there starting in the mid 2000s, the atmosphere was like a morgue.

Not knowing where to start, I immersed in working through the six or seven 5,000 count monster boxes from a familiar seller - I don't know if I ever bought anything from his booth, which has been set up for the longest time, but back in the day, maybe my mindset was to find loose cards I'd try to get inked up in-person or through the mail, but no junk wax era drivel.

With the emphasis on mini-collection adds however - I'm more game about trying to see if I can round up a good number of cards for cheap [maybe 25 for $1], particularly cards I wouldn't look to buy online outright.

1988 Fleer Ken Dayley #30

1995 Upper Deck SP Championship Series Ken Caminiti #89

I obviously couldn’t go through the boxes card-by-card, but I still tried to add many cards that caught my eye - I worry about going nuts over cards, because I don't want to overvalue cards that are virtually commons.

Maybe in-person is where I give myself license to freelance within reason, where I shouldn't worry about being picky - I probably wouldn’t remember the cards I pass up if I didn’t set them aside as a probable pick up; I needed to live a little, be daring in snapping up those collecting topics subset cards with some sort of quality that wasn’t obvious i.e. maybe what makes the card unique is an image on the back or the card features a player who I've never heard of.

Despite a few stragglers from other sports, I stuck to baseball otherwise - my afternoon would never end if I actually went through the football and basketball cards, knowing I'd be poring over them as well.

1996 Topps Stadium Club Chris Zorich #184 - picturing him *trying* to tackle some random running back with the last name Sanders while two other teammates close in.

1995-96 Topps Stadium Club Predrag Danilovic #313

The seller gave me a 800-900 count box to fill and maybe that’s the challenge for next time
- my buddy was lurking on standby mode and I had him count out the loose piles of cards in multiples of 25.

He counted out 325 cards and after looking at what I had, the seller charged me $10, which seemed reasonable enough - the majority should be collecting topics subset adds, though there might some cards designated to go to other projects or maybe dupes I probably had.

I was able to cross off 11 cards from my wantlist - giving me a little bit of satisfaction, even I didn't really look for them outright.

1994 Upper Deck Collector's Choice Jeff Blauser #53 - Will Clark

1997 Topps Stadium Club Sandy Martinez #371

1997 Upper Deck Andy Benes #465

1993 Topps Stadium Club B.J. Surhoff #711.

1995 Upper Deck SP Steve Finley #108 - ended up being the Silver parallel

1997 Upper Deck Collector's Choice Fernando Vina #148 - Tim Salmon

1997 Upper Deck Charlie O'Brien #517 - the blurb on the back of the cards tells the entire story.

1996 Topps Stadium Club Robby Thompson #359

Thursday, January 16, 2020

1976 Topps Dennis Eckersley RC #98

With the help of $10 and change in eBay Bucks, maybe picking up this graded [PSA-5] old-school rookie card was more palatable than going modern - I wanted a 2019 Topps Update Gold Keston Hiura #150, but the chance of getting one before spring training starts might be over.

I ended up settling for Eckersley since it was on my watch list, which may help guide me towards alternatives to think about - though a card added to ‘my list’ might not be available anymore or perhaps ‘my list’ may not reflect what I might want at the moment.

Eckersley wasn’t exactly ‘one of my guys’ or someone I seriously considered a ‘national star’ but I was vaguely familiar with Eck’s narrative - as a guy who battled substance abuse problems and was a floundering veteran starting pitcher before coming under Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan’s tutelage in Oakland during the mid 1980s.

While Eckersley was a goat a few times in postseason play [1988 World Series and 1992 American League Championship Series] - he was one of the GOATS for the run he had as a dominant, one-inning closer through the early 1990s and maybe Eckersley getting to the Hall of Fame made me take a second look at how he turned things around.

Long affiliated with the Boston Red Sox as their TV broadcasts color guy, Eckersley has had run-ins with Jackie Bradley Jr. and David Price because he doesn’t have a filter at times - I didn’t know Eckersley has a brother in prison and also an adopted daughter who is otherwise homeless.

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

A look back into a 2019 collecting goal

Like everyone else it seems, I have a yearly set of collecting goals, but maybe it gets too long winded to fully break down on a blog - I feel like a goof when I don't catch up to any of them and so maybe it is easier to keep them offline.

One of the random goals I had for 2019 was wanting to pick up a year’s worth of random cards i.e. be able to count out one per month - something off-the-wall and maybe offbeat.

Maybe a theme was to pick up cards a 12-year old me would be proud of - I may not be able to live in the past, but see what cards can I pick up that the adolescent me would just get a kick out of.

Not all these cards represent nostalgic 'flash back' pick-ups however - maybe I got away from the idea of some nostalgic, definitive finds, so maybe my list got to be a real jumble.

1986 Donruss Jose Canseco #39

1959 Fleer Ted Williams Sharpshooter #24

Old-school A-Rod cards

2019 Topps SSP Greats Variation Vladimir Guerrero #675

2019 Topps SP Greats Variation Will Clark #428

Old-school Garret Anderson cards

1990 NBA Hoops Hoops Mark Jackson #205

1983 Fleer Joel Youngblood #641

2012 Leaf Best of Basketball The Professor autograph #TP-1

2018 Choice Trenton Thunder Chace Numata #18

1988 Classic Eric Davis #213

1995 Raging Color Classics Burlington Bees Jeff Poor #15

Wally Joyner autograph

Monday, January 06, 2020

2012 Leaf Best of Basketball The Professor autograph #TP-1

I try not to touch anything Leaf, but during a card show rummage last summer, this was too gimmicky to pass up - I was vaguely aware of the AND1 Mixtape Tour during the 2000s featuring basketball players with all sorts of nicknames trying to clown on each other in streetball games.

With The Professor the only white guy on the tour - he probably was a novelty and curiosity for more suburban kids growing up back in the day.

The Professor was a relic of a thing that happened 15-20 years ago - but he is still out hustling on YouTube, so good for him.

Saturday, January 04, 2020

1995 Raging Color Classics Burlington Bees Jeff Poor #15

For my 'inking it up' mini-collection, I managed to sneak this obscure team set card purchase - picturing this one-time minor leaguer in the act of grabbing a ball along the railing to sign.

To get on a soapbox for a little bit, with people generally being 'weird' about getting autographs and pro teams from the majors to the minors putting up barriers around the field in the guise of protecting fans - the days of player / fan interaction will be reserved for only VIPs and maybe a simple scene like card picture shows will not be a thing, even at your Podunk ballpark [which may not even exist anymore] in the 21st century.

As far as tracking down a copy of the card, maybe I was looking up some Jesse Ibarra cards, because I wrote to the guy TTM over 20 years ago and he had some ‘goofy’ minor league feat like hitting grand slams from both sides of the plate in one game - Ibarra shows up in the set where the Poor card was from and I might have saved a listing for the Poor card on my COMC watch list.

I guess the Bees [a one time farm team of the San Francisco Giants in the mid 1990s] set can still be purchased on eBay, so the card may not be as obscure where no listings are found - still, where was I going to find a copy of the card outright being sold as a single [?]

Goofing off in the middle of the night, I relented to grab the card [for a 'hefty' price of $1.45] just because it might be a card that might be stuck on my wantlist in perpetuity - I wanted to be able to have in my port and be able to wax poetic about it because it's just too random.

Images courtesy of