Wednesday, March 3, 2021

2018 BBM Sumo 5-Card Pack

Since I've developed a relatively expensive interest in the Japanese sport of Sumo, I've only been able to order a few cards here and there off of E-Bay and COMC. I haven't quite got the grasp of how to use Yahoo! Japan, and Buyee, a Japanese proxy service, just has me absolutely stymied.

Recently, however, I was able to order my first actual pack of BBM Sumo cards early last month, picking up a pack of 2018 BBM Sumo Cards off E-Bay.

The BBM 2018 Sumo set contains 90 cards and each pack has a total of only five cards inside.
Here are cards for Kyokushuho Koki (#44) and Yoshikaze Masatsugu (#07), spreading salt to purify the dohyo before their match. After making his professional debut in 2007, Kyokushuho's current rank is Juyo #5. Yoshikaze, meanwhile, retired in 2019, after beginning his professional career in 2004, taking on the toshiyori (elder in the Japan Sumo Association) name, Nakamura.  
Young Hopeful Ura Kazuki (#75), Yamaguchi Masahiro (#61) (retired) and Kotoshogiku Kazuhiro (#09) round out this pack. Ura debuted in 2015, winning the jonokuchi division (lowest sumo division) championship in his first tourney. Kotoshogiku, who retired last year, assumes the name of Hidenoyama, after also becoming a toshiyori. 

I was definitely pumped to bust my first pack of sumo cards, but it's going to take me awhile to build up a collection. That's okay, too. It just gives me the opportunity to savor and learn more about one of Japan's most ancient sports.

Stay safe and healthy out there.

Friday, February 26, 2021

COMC Delivery (Finally)

Remember the old Heinz ketchup commercial, with people waiting and waiting and waiting for this thick, red condiment to finally seep out of the top of the bottle, while Carley Simon's "Anticipation," played in the background?

That's how I felt when I finally received a shipment of more than 150 cards from COMC's Redmond, Wash. location. 

I continue to pick up the odd bit of change by doing their inventory challenge and purchased numerous cards over the past winter, spring and summer. Since they said there could be delays, I waited until late summer to order the cards, so they would arrive well before the Christmas holidays (or so I thought). 

According to COMC, I requested this shipment on August 24, 2020. While it had an estimated shipping date of Nov. 24, 2020, it didn't actually ship until Jan. 10, 2021. I wasn't able to physically hold all these cardboard goodies in my grubby little hands until Jan. 15, 2021.

If you do the math, that's about a half year from when I first requested shipment, until the time I received them.

Oh well, enough griping and let's start with some fun stuff. Here's a pair of 1966 Batman Black Bat cards, featuring The Bat-Gasmask (#43) and Umbrella Duel (#23). I still love Batman - my school kids get a kick out of my Batman phone case.

As for some kindly Saint Nick cards, I picked up a 1991 Parkhurst (#SC), 2016 Panini Black Friday Panini Collection Wedges (S/N 23/50) (#25)  and a 1993 Skybox Nightmare Before Christmas International Promo (#S1).

I must have been especially nice, because I also received a 1995 Coca-Cola Series 4 Santa Card (#S-32) and a  pair of 1996 Coca-Cola Sprint Cel Phone Cards -  Santa With Toy Bag (#18) and Santa They Remembered Me (#19).

Of course, there's also the requisite amount of Tony Gwynn cards in any COMC shipment I receive. Here's his 2019 Topps Allen and Ginter Baseball Star Signs (#BSS42), 2019 Topps Franchise Feats (#FF23), 2019 Topps Allen and Ginter Gold Border (#77), and a 1985 Topps Rub Downs, with Lloyd Moseby and Buddy Bell (#3).

A few Padres cards for those cold winter nights (including another Gwynn I forgot to include in the previous bunch) - 2020 Topps Gyspy Queen Fortune Teller Mini Fernando Tatis, Jr. (#FTM16), 2020 Topps '85 Topps Silver Pack Chrome Manny Machado (#85C32), 2018 Topps Walmart Holiday Snowflake Joey Lucchesi RC (#HMW40), and a 2019 Topps Historic Through Lines, with Stan Musial (#HTL18).

As for my Japanese baseball card collection, these 1993 Kanebo Gold Cards, produced by BBM, are much like the old, raised-surface 3-D, Action-Packed cards. These particular cards feature Tomonori Maeda (#005), Yonetoshi Kawamata (#036), Kaname Yashiki (#006), and Kozo Shoda (#008).

Rounding out my Japanese baseball cards are a 2000 Konami Field of Nine Yuuki (#64), 2013 BBM Mitsuo Yoshikawa (#169), 2016 BBM Rookie Edition Toyoki Tanaka (#47), 1999 BBM Hiroshi Shibakus (#187) and a 1991 BBM Yasunori Ohshima (#132).

As for hockey, I'm not collecting as much as I used to, but this 2017-18 Upper Deck MVP Green Script Corey Crawford (#40) and 2019-20 Upper Deck UD Portraits Alexander Ovechkin (#P30) particularly called out to me.

And of course, I received a bunch of cards for my track and field collection, but perhaps I'll save those for a later date.

Was this collection worth the wait? Yes and no - I finally received my order, but the anticipation between when I ordered it and when they shipped it was painful. Maybe they should have been a bit more realistic on their estimates, or even used a "TBA" for the shipping date.

In any case, there here, they're mine, they're real and they're fantastic.

Stay safe and healthy out there.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

A Sports Card Show in the time of COVID

Believe it or not, Iowa has been among the top states listed amongst the COVID-19 hotbeds. Fortunately, just before our latest COVID flare-up, I was able to attend a card show in October for the first time in ages. Usually, it's hosted at the Urbandale American Legion, with dealers coming as far away as Nebraska and northern Iowa.

However, for whatever reason, the American Legion is no longer hosting these Sunday card shows. Since August, a new bar in Ankeny, Uptown Garage Brewing Co,, has been hosting this monthly event. I arrived at 9 a.m., and stayed for an hour or so. I have to say I was amused by the waitress' asking the dealers if they wanted anything to drink, that early in the morning.

Needless to say, whether it's a COVID-19 thing, or whatever, things seem to have changed quite a bit since my last show. For beginners, there were only about a half dozen dealers at the show (Usually there's 7-10). Gone were the nickel and dime boxes - the cheapest loose card box that could be found was 25 cents.

And yes, all the dealers and the majority of those in attendance were wearing masks.

While there was plenty of 2020 baseball product to be found, hockey was in short supply. Besides the "dime" boxes, it seemed as if most of the cards were priced a bit more on the expensive side. I even heard one dealer talking about a certain box running over a $1,200 (I didn't catch which one it was). I love my cardboard, but that's just pure craziness.

I was more than happy, however, to be able to find a plethora of Padres in the quarter boxes.

Where would you like to start with the highlights? Old school Padres players?

2018 Donruss Dave Winfield (#112),  2017 Topps Gallery Hall of Fame Winfield (#HOF14), and a 2010 Topps Update Willie McCovey SP (#US15B).

How about shiny, new cards for that special Tony Gwynn Collection?

2019 Topps Chrome Update 150 Years of Professional Baseball (#150C24),  1997 SP Special FX (#17), and a 2016 Topps Chrome Holiday Mega Box 3,000 Hits Club (#3000C12).

How about shiny, bright, colorful cards?

2020 Topps Chrome Pink Refractors Adrian Morejon (#86), 2019 Topps Chrome Pink Refractors Eric Hosmer (#174), 2020 Topps Chrome Pink Refractors Andres Munoz (#149), and a 2018 Topps Chrome Update Pink Refractors Eric Hosmer (#HMT39).

Perhaps a few cards of one of the Padres' hottest players?

I missed out on El Nino's rookie cards, but here's a few other Fernando Tatis, Jr. cards I picked up. How about four of his 2020 Topps Fernando Tatis Jr. Highlights (From left to right - #FTH11, FTH27, FTH26,  and FTH24).

I found three additional Tatis cards, including a 2020 Stadium Club In the Wings (#ITW4), 2020 Topps 2030 (#T202013), and a 2020 Topps Fire (#95).

 How about a few other "cool" cards (At least, I thought they were cool)?

 2020 Topps Chrome Sepia Refractors Michael Baez (#187), 2014 Donruss Press Proofs Silver Everth Cabrera (S/N 84/199) (#113), and a 2017 Topps '87 Topps Silver Pack Chrome (#87WM).

It was just nice to be able to pick up Padres cards from A to U, in a relatively safe environment.

2020 Donruss Optic Rated Prospects C.J. Abrams (#17) and a 2018 Bowman Chrome Hashtag Bowman Trending Refractors (# #LU). By the way, did you know, that no MLB team has ever had a player with a last name beginning with "X" on it's roster.

While it's hard to tell if and/or when there'll be another card show, as the virus makes yet another surge, I was happy, at least for one morning, as I was able to soothe my cardboard longings.

In the meantime, stay safe and healthy out there.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Keeping Christmas alive and two new collection interests

It kind of figures...A new year is soon upon us, and I've picked up yet another pair of collecting itches - as if collecting the San Diego Padres, Track & Field, Japanese Baseball and Green Bay Packer (Lombardi-era) cards weren't enough.

No, my friends, my collecting instincts are now leading me in two totally different directions. I think I'll start with the seasonal bug first.

For many years, I've enjoyed being one of Santa's many helpers, visiting with children, determining what they want for Christmas, and ensuring the Magic of Christmas endures. While this was the first year I wasn't actually to portray Santa, I was still able to spread Christmas cheer. 

I work as a Recess and Lunch Supervisor at an elementary school in a Des Moines (Iowa) suburb. Our kids are completing on-line education until Jan. 4, when they return to full-time school. As our teachers are still conducting that training from our school, towards the end of the day, I put on the suit on the right (and yes, that's my real beard) and visited each of the teachers in their classroom. Four of the teachers actually called up their husbands to bring their kids to the school, in order to see Santa.  

Besides getting photos with them (they were sitting on a bench, as I was standing behind them, and everybody was masked), I was able to talk to the little ones, helping keep Christmas and Santa alive for them in this time of Covid-19.

If you were to see our living room at Christmas, you'd see several Santa figurines displayed around the house, many of them gifts from family and friends. I've even received a pack of the 1994 Santa Around the World Premier Edition Collector Cards.

While I'm not being real aggressive about it, I'm now looking to collect Santa-themed trading cards. I know Pro Set, Collector's Edge, Pacific and even Topps have released Santa-themed cards, so I figured, what the heck, I'll see what I can find. Again, for me, it's all about Christmas magic and Santa Claus.

On the other side of the coin, however, the other specific card collecting I'm now embracing is Sumo. I've enjoyed Ryan's Japanese Sumo Wrestling Cards and Menko blog for some time. While I wrestled "Folkstyle" in high school, I've gotten to enjoy the ceremony, physicality and tactics of Japanese Sumo.

I've actually picked up my first "set" of sorts - a 6-card set of 1986 Sumo Pocket Calendar cards from Portugal. Two of the wrestlers are Konishki and Takan. 

Konishki, a Hawaiian, became the first non-Japanese Ozeki (the second highest Sumo rank), in May 1987. Takan, Sumo's 59th Yokozuna (the highest rank), won four top division tournaments. After retirement, he ran a Sumo training stable until his death in 2011. 

While it's always fun and exciting to begin collecting something new, I guess I'll see where these two new collection interests take me. 

Stay safe and healthy out there.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

A library of 1990 Collect-a-Books

In my last post, I mentioned how I've been checking out some estate sales and auctions and showed some of the track and field Sportscaster cards I picked up. Today, I'll show you a huge lot of 1990 Collect-a-Books I was able to find at a really decent price.

Issued by the Collectors Marketing Corp. (CMC), a division of Impel, these "books" were patterned after the 1970 Topps Comic Book Inserts. While the Topps set measures 2-1/2" x 3-7/16," the CMC set measures 2-1/2" x 3'1/2. Also, the Topps set consisted of 24 cards, the CMC set had 36.

Each "book" has eight pages and easily fits into a penny sleeve or sheet. The inside pages feature photographs and stats, as well as biographical and personal information about the ballplayer.

The front has a nice color photo of the player, sandwiched between the "Collect-a-Books" logo at the top and the player's name at the bottom. The back has a caricature of the player, illustrated by Ken Vandervoort, a sports illustrator who drew a syndicated weekly sports feature called "Sports by Voort," and an informational blurb,  just like the back of a baseball card. Players ranged from Bo Jackson, to Ted Williams, to Bob Feller.

The collection I picked up had only 21 of the 36 cards, and there were a few copies, but for the price, I didn't really mind. 

Stay safe and healthy out there.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Estate Sales and Auctions, anyone?

Lately, I've been checking out a few estate sales and auctions, both online and in person. While I have trouble keeping my head above water with some of the sharks that prey on some of the higher end cards you may find at these sales, depending on how they break up collections, I have been able to find enough track and field, Padres and oddball cards to keep me coming back.

For example, during an online auction that piqued my interest last month, I won a bunch of Sportscasters sports cards.

Surely you remember those huge Sportscasters cards - available through subscription only (from 1977-79), with slightly rounded corners and costing less than three dollars for a 24-card pack. Measuring 4-11/16 x 6-1/4 inches, a total of 2,184 different cards were produced for U.S. distribution alone. 

These cards are actually printed in Japan and Italy, and have been produced for many other countries and languages. According to the PSA, there are cards in French, Belgian, Italian, Swedish, Finnish, and the United Kingdom. Not sure of your card's country of origin? Sportscaster cards have small numbers printed on the back, for series, country and card number.

Remember when I mentioned there were 2,184 different cards in the American set? Of those, 307 cards featured running-related subjects, ranging from Steve Prefontaine, to the Penn Relays.

Here's the front of Rafer Johnson's Sportscaster card. Johnson earned a gold medal at the 1960 Rome Olympics, winning the decathlon. He won Silver in the even during the 1956 Olympics.

Here's the back of his card, complete with a nice, little narrative of his "Roman Glory." As far as I can gather, this is the American version (03 005) of the card, and part of set 8, card #23.

Russian Triple Jumper Viktor Saneyev. Saneyev won Olympic gold in this event in 1968, 1972, and 1976, as well as a silver medal (1980).

New Zealand middle distance runner Murray Halberg. He won gold in the 5000m at the 1960 Olympcs. 

American Shot Putter Parry O'Brien, a member of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. He competed in four consecutive Olympics, winning two golds 1952, 1956), and a silver (1960), before finishing fourth (1964).

British runner SydneyWooderson. Even though he's pictured here as an 800m runner, he set the world mile record of 4:06.4 in August 1937.

I also was found the perfect storage sleeves for these cards at Michaels, the hobby store. They're labelled Card Storage, from The Paper Studio. They're A7 card storage bags, measuring 5.438 x 7.313 inches. You get 20 to a package, and they're also acid free and archival safe.

And as usual, I have a few leftovers - 15 to be exact. They are Alpine Skiing (Ingemar Stenmark), Archery, Billiards, Curling, Handball (Sweden), Horse Racing (Secretariat), Jail Alai (Pelota), Powerboat Racing, Sand Yachting (Rules and Categories), Surfing, Swimming (Murray Rose), Table Tennis (Holding the Paddle), Tennis (Rod Laver), Yachting ("Kriter'-Craft), Yachting (Robin Knox-Johnston).

And as usual, they're up for grabs. They're all yours if you can send me 2-3 track and field cards (please no Impel, or 2012 & 2016 Topps Olympic Team - I have more than enough), or 2-3 Japanese baseball cards (no American-made Topps or Upper Deck products, please). 

Next time, I'll feature another nice estate auction win.

Please, stay safe and healthy out there.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Two card/dice games, two countries

Despite having grown up with Stratomatic and APBA baseball, I enjoy playing sports games that are challenging, take a bit of skill, and are dependent upon more than just a lucky roll of the dice. I even remember skipping a couple of classes while at the University of Iowa, in order to work with a friend on a board and dice hockey game using current players. I came up with the play mechanics and he came up with the player stat cards.

While there's a lot of baseball board games out there, again, Stratomatic comes to mind, there are very few actual baseball "card" games, especially those of the collectible kind.

Once I became a collector, there were two different baseball games I remember collecting and actually playing - Sportsclix, from WizKids, and MLB Showdown, from Wizards of the Coast, the same people who created Magic the Gathering. MLB Showdown came out first, from 2000-2005, with a slight overlap of Sportsclix, which came out 2003-05.

At the height of their popularity, a couple of local gaming shops (both since long gone), held leagues for each of these games. While I enjoyed playing Sportsclix, actually becoming a Sportsclix Coach, or WizKids envoy, who could help adjudicate and run games, I enjoyed MLB Showdown much, much more.

This was a card game I could actually get into. MLB Showdown cards were nice, bright and fairly easy to read, with nice game action shots on the front. It was a hoot to play and the gameplay seemed more realistic, especially when strategy cards came into play, plus you didn't have to click your characters after every at bat.

The only downside, is like other Wizards of the Coast games (can you say "Magic the Gathering") they would come out with multiple sets each year, including Pennant Run and Trading Deadline, as well as those must have strategy cards, such as "Go Up Hacking." In the 2001 printing alone, there were 462 cards in the base set (including 75 strategy cards), 175 in Pennant Run (25 strategy), and 50 "promo" cards.

For our 2001 MLB Showdown season, we held a pack draft. Each player bought four packs of the 2001, 1st Edition, and four packs would be opened at a time, the strategy cards were removed, and the player cards were then spread out on the table. Once you got a look at who was available, the draft began.

I believe I had the third or fourth pick, so I immediately went for Randy Johnson (foil) as my number one pick. It was a wise decision, as he became the ace of my staff. If I remember right, I believe I finished fourth in our nine-team league, but for the life of me, I don't remember any of my other player cards, except for Padre reliever Troy Hoffman, who usually got the job done for me.

I really enjoyed the look of these cards, as well as the gameplay. It's really a shame the game fell by the wayside.

Fast forward to 2020, where my collecting interests have since expanded to Japanese baseball cards.

Takara originally produced a 30-player baseball game set for the six-team Central League (from 1978 - 80) but expanded their print run to include each of the 12 teams from the Nippon Baseball League in 1981. Each set included two dice, a playing sheet, a team logo card, as well as a set  of instructions, printed in Japanese, of course.

Recently, I found a 1990 Takara Nippon-Ham Fighters set off E-Bay, with Mat Winters, who played five years with the Fighters, showing through the front slot.

These 2-1/8" x 3 - 3/8," rounded-corner cards are okay, with player shots from the chest up, as modeled by Winters. He's decked out in the  Fighters' red and yellow striped jerseys, which the team wore from 1982-1992. The players' biographical information can also be found on the front of the card.

The back of the cards, meanwhile, feature the gameplay aspects of the set, with pictograms showing what the results of dice rolls are. Yukio Tanaka and Yasunori Oshima, two Japanese Hall of Famers, are also included in this set.

One issue I've found, is since it's printed in Japanese, there are no player names, only their uniform numbers are listed. I've noticed a disparity between Gary Engel's Japanese Baseball Card Checklist  Price Guide (Vers. 2.1), and the Trading Card Database website checklist. For example, Engel lists the #9 card above as Matt Winters, while the TCDB lists him as Brian Dayett. There's also a few other differences with a few of the other players in this team set.

While I trust Engel's guide implicitly, it does get a bit confusing at times.

As for playing the game istself, Dave, over at Japanese Baseball Cards ran a post on game play a few years ago ( ). However, I'm pretty sure I won't be playing Takara baseball - I don't think the collector in me will allow it.

I've also since found a 1990 Toyo Carp set as well, and am awaiting delivery from Canada.

Stay safe and healthy out there.