Monday, June 21, 2021

What's your oldest sports card?

Going through my myriad number of cards the other day raised an interesting question and one that I hadn't really thought much about - What's the oldest card in your card collection?

When you're a fan of a San Diego Padres baseball team that has only been in existence since 1969, along with the Kansas City Royals, Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals), and Seattle Pilots (now the Milwaukee Brewers), it's a no-brainer.

Ollie Brown, the original San Diego Padre, was San Diego's first pick in the 1968 baseball expansion draft.

Brown,  an outfielder who could throw the ball on a rope from far right field to third base, led the Padres in batting average in two of their first three seasons.  He hit .272 as a  Padre, with 20 homers and 208 RBIs in 458 games before being traded to the Oakland A's in May 1972. Brown passed away in April 2015, due to mesothelioma. He was 71 years old.

My other sports passion involves the Green Bay Packers. As a life-long Packers fan, and Lombardi-era aficionado, the oldest Packer card honor is held by Dave "Hawg" Hanner and his 1955 Bowman card (#131). 

Hanner was the anchor of Green Bay's defensive line for most of his 13 seasons, after being selected in the fifth round (52th overall) of the 1952 draft. He played in 160 (out of 164) regular season games, three of which were missed during his rookie season. He was Green Bay's defensive line coach (1965-71), defensive coordinator (1971-79) and assistant head coach (1975-79). In 2008, he suffered a heart attack, and died two days later.

On the hockey side, my oldest card would be my 1952 Parkhurst Gus "Hardrock" Mortson (#27), a Chicago Blackhawks Defenseman. 

He started out with the Toronto Maple Leafs  in 1946, winning four Stanley Cups, before being traded to the Blackhawks, in a deal that brought Hawks goalie Harry Lumley to Toronto. He retired in 1958-59, after part of a season with the Detroit Red Wings.

When it comes to non-sport, and I'm not entirely sure how I picked it up, would have to be this 1912 Cries of London, "Do You Want Any Matches" (#15) card. Apparently, it was a 25-card cigarette set produced by John Player & Sons, based on a series of oil paintings by Francis Wheatley, depicting real-life  images of street sellers in the late 1700's.

Now, while a 1912 card is quite old, I have yet another card that's even older, and it comes from the realm of Track and Field, going all the way back to the 1910-12 T218 Champions set.

After immigrating from Ireland in 1909, Dan Ahearne (Ahearn after immigrating) was a triple jump specialist, winning eight U.S. AAU titles over nine years and setting a world record in 1909 with a 50-foot, two-inch jump. Dan competed in the 1920 Antwerp Olympics, finishing sixth in the triple jump. He later became a policeman and died Dec. 20, 1942, at the age of 54.

So, now the question is, what are the oldest cards you have in your collection?

Stay safe and healthy out there!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Life on the road

A great California-based blogger, Fuji, of The Chronicles of Fuji recently wrote about how he was considering purchasing a new toy, a 2021 Toyota Supra, his "holy grail" car. He said it's been 13 years since he purchased his last car and there are days when he's pumped and ready to buy it, while other mornings, he wakes up and thinks to himself, "This is a toy I just don't need."

I have to admit, I know exactly what those dark thoughts are swirling through his head, as our season of indecision occurred last February. It all began innocently enough when my wife and I began watching the half-hour show, Going' RV, on the Travel Channel.

According to their website, "Hard-working couples and families decide to ditch ordinary life for an adventure out on the open road. Take the ultimate ride as they go on a shopping trip to find their perfect RV. Whether it's upgrading an existing motor home, or going all out for a new one with all the bells and whistles, find out what happens when daring homeowners trade walls for wheels."

They take a tour through three different campers, whether a mobile home or pull-along, and then make a decision as to which one. They are then shown enjoying their first camping trip in their new rig. 

So, last February, we went to a local RV lot to price a Motor Home - we had no intention of purchasing one at that time. Both of our cars would be paid off in June, and that's when we thought we'd maybe purchase a camper.

After looking at a few RVs, we then saw this 28-foot, 2012 Thor Four Winds Siesta. It had been on the lot only a couple of weeks after the owner traded it in for a bigger outfit. Needless to say, it was love at first sight and after a few conflicted hours, we were the proud owners of a used RV, with only 19,200 miles on the odometer.

Since mid-April, we'll camp for a couple of weekends, and then take a weekend off. I actually drove it to work on our last day of school. As soon as our last bell rang, I hopped in and drove it to our campsite, where I decompressed for a week, My wife joined me as soon as she was off work.

We're basically traveling within the state while we get used to it (my wife isn't ready to get behind the wheel yet). However, we do hope to hit Wisconsin's Door County before school starts in mid-August (I am a Packer fan after all), but we'll have to wait and see.

But perhaps the RV seed was planted even earlier, when I had the opportunity to actually have a beer with Cubs pitcher Rod Beck here in Des Moines.

1999 Fleer Ultra Rod Beck (#41)

Beck, who was on a rehab assignment in 2003 with the Iowa Cubs after surgery on his right arm, was living in a 36-foot Winnebago right behind the centerfield scoreboard at Sec Taylor Stadium. A buddy and I had heard Beck was living in an RV behind the stadium, so he bet me to get his autograph. 

Beck was very personable and even gave us a Coors Light as we talked baseball, his career, and how we was working his way back to the big leagues, while "waiting for the right fit." It was a great night and Beck was a great host and an absolute hoot.

So we now have the opportunity to visit distant sporting events, card shows, and perhaps even meet some of those fellow bloggers whom I've only seen on line, in person.

After all, this is now how we roll.

Stay safe and healthy out there.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Show me the cards!

 Whatever happened to the sports card industry?

Over the past few months, it's been getting harder and harder to find sports cards at your big, chain department stores. We still have a card shop here in town, but with my schedule, I usually can't get there before their 6 p.m. closing time. As my weekends are usually ear-marked with honey-dos, I usually  don't have much opportunity to shop then, either.

As for the local Walmart stores, all I find are empty shelves and a few collectible card games or comics. As for your local Target store, you can simply forget about finding any sports cards.

Thanks to dispute back in May at a Brookfield, Wisc. Target store, the retail chain is no longer carrying sports cards. You can still order them online, but where trading cards once lined their shelves, you'll now only only find a plethora of Magic the Gathering cards. However, when it comes to Topps, Donruss, NBA, NHL, or MLB, or anything regarding your favorite sports team, you can forget about it. You won't find any of them (or Pokemon cards, for that matter) gracing the shelves of your local store.

It seems four men allegedly assaulted another man in the parking the lot as he left the store with his sports card purchase. The victim drew a gun (since he had a conceal and carry permit), and his attackers ran off. They were, however, later arrested.

Since their top priority is the safety of their guests and employees, according to a Target spokesman, "Out of an abundance of caution, we've decided to temporarily suspend the sale of MLB, NFL, NBA and Pokeman trading cards within our stores, effective May 14."

Not only that, once you do find a few packs, they're more expensive then ever, as I discovered at a post-COVID card show. Gone were the much beloved dime boxes, replaced by common quarter boxes. I can't even imagine what a booster box of cards, much less an actual box, will set you back today.

Well, that's it for the complaining. My broadest apologies.

On a lighter note, I will, however, show you three more of the Padres cards I picked up at the one post-COVID card show I have attended.

2010 Topps Gypsy Queen Fortune Teller Mini Fernando Tatis, Jr. (#FTM16), 2020 Topps Opening Day Red Foil Tommy Pham (#74) and a 2020 Panini Prism Pham (#29).

Stay safe and healthy out there.

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.