Collectible Closeup: Nov. 6

Nov 06

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies.

And, growing up, Mike Schmidt was one of my favorites. What an amazing player. One of the best, without a doubt, to ever put on a Phillies uniform. So when I got back into collecting baseball cards, I knew I needed a Mike Schmidt autograph.

Turns out it wasn’t easy to get.

I lost auction after auction on eBay. The problem was, I just wasn’t willing to spend through the roof for a card.

And then it happened.

For less than $20 (I think I paid $15-17 for this one), I got the card I had been seeking. Even better? This was a 15/15, so even rarer. Loved it!

(Note, the scratches in the photo are the plastic case it’s in — those details came up a ton in the scan!)

This is, by far, one of the best cards in my collection and one I don’t see myself parting with.

Michael Jack Schmidt!

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Collectible Closeup: Sept. 25

Sep 25

I’m a bit of a collector.

I have a few things I like to work on collecting, as funds go. Baseball cards is a big love of mine, as well as geocaching coins, pathtags, geocaching signature items and pins, which I get when I travel or go to different places. I also have some random autographs I like to collect. The one other thing I have, which might be hard to showcase here, is some art. It’s mainly street art and things like so that I grab when I travel.

I’m sure there might be a few other things, but those are the main ones.

In those collections, I have some cool things. At least in my eyes. So I’m going to try and do a weekly feature here where I showcase a different piece of my collection.

This is the first week of it.

Of course, to start things off, I need to go to the baseball card collection.

And it makes sense to go with Pete Rose.

Growing up, I was a massive Pete Rose fan. I’m a firm supporter of him being in the Hall of Fame. Rose was toward the end of his stellar career when I started watching him. I was a Phillies fan and he brought a whole heap of experience to that team, helping the Phils win the 1980 World Series.

Here’s the card:

Pete Rose autograph.

Being Rose is banned from baseball, I’m pretty sure that means he can’t have any cards in sets that are connected to the MLB or the MLB Players Association.

So a couple of years ago, Leaf put out a set all about Pete Rose. As you can see, there are no team logos in the image. Anyway, if you purchased a box of these cards, you got several packs (the cards were decent) and a guaranteed autograph. I already have a couple of Rose autographs — one I got in person and it’s signed on a ball, and the other is a large photo given to me as a college graduation present from a friend — but having one on a card was too much to pass up.

I purchased the box and this is the autograph I got.

It’s a sharp signature and a pretty decent card. I don’t know if I’d buy the box again as it was a little more expensive than the card is likely worth (Rose signs a lot), but it was fun to open this box. My only disappointment was the card was in a top-loader holder (which is OK), but just in the box. I didn’t get the thrill of opening it in a pack to see what I got.

Still, it’s a great addition to my personal collection. I’ll share more from all my collections in coming weeks!

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Adventures in card collecting: Finding the fun again

Mar 08

When I was a kid, I remember walking into the local gas station. And when I say gas station, I mean old-school. We’re talking something straight out of the 1950s here.

The old pumps, people who actually pumped your gas and all that good stuff.

In my town, it was Maxwell’s. This place was heaven for kids, especially those who walked to school. You could get penny candy and things like that. But for a bunch of us, it was the best place in the world for baseball cards.

Ramon Nivar sending a message?

Maxwell’s always had baseball cards.

This is in the 80s though, back when baseball cards were wax packs with 15 or so cards, a piece of stale gum and a pack cost about 25 cents. That’s way different than today, when packs cost several dollars, even the cheap ones.

We’d buy several packs and open them on the way to school, or scamper somewhere on a Saturday afternoon and go open, trade, flip or whatever.

Opening those wax packs were a ton of fun. So much fun, in fact, that it sometimes didn’t matter what was in the pack. We’d get crappy cards or maybe we’d get a bunch from our favorite team. And then there was that awful gum. Back then, though, we seemed to like it.

Ahhh, the memories.

After a while, I grew away from baseball cards. It wasn’t any special reason other than I didn’t find as much fun in it anymore. I still have boxes of those older cards, too. They aren’t worth much, that’s for sure.

The hobby, however, has come a long way since those days.

Besides the cost going way up, cards have changed. No longer is it Topps, Fleer and Donruss. Now there are more companies, some of whom can’t produce cards with team logos and such. Why? Because there are massive contracts for companies to secure, enabling them to have the rights to do the cards.

Other companies get around this by signing athletes and just can’t show them with team logos and such.

Collecting cards is no longer a kids activity. It’s a serious business for some. Autographed cards. Game-used memorabilia on the cards. Whatever else. Some prized rookies go for insane amounts of money in online auctions.

A few years ago, when I was still on the beat with a local minor league team, I heard some of the players talking about being signed to companies. They had authentic autographs and such. So I looked things up and was amazed at the things I found. These players — who I was covering — had baseball cards. Autographs. Game-used stuff. It was absolutely insane. I’ll touch on that in another installment of this series.

That piqued my interest in the hobby again.

If there were cards of these guys, what about all my other favorites? Phillies and such? I started looking and was amazed at what I was finding. I became a big fan of e-Bay. So I started getting some cards and such. I’d buy some individuals and some Phillies and, at times, I’d buy a pack or three. It wasn’t the same as ripping open those wax packs all those years ago, but it was still fun.

Getting this Doug Glanville autographed card for $2 was a no-brainer for me!

Then, a few years ago, a few of us starting hitting up this massive card show in White Plains. It’s there every three months or so and features hundreds of tables and usually several big names signing autographs (and they charge big-name money, too). When we go, I usually don’t have one thing in mind I want to get. I’m usually completely the opposite.  I go looking for something fun to grab and add to my collection.

My collection is quite a variety. It’s mostly filled with autographs and game-used stuff. And, it’s also mainly players I’ve covered, those on the Phillies or some of my other favorites.

I also have what I like to refer to as “gems.”

These are cards I stumbled upon for a good price, whether it’s a player I’m seeking or just something that really screamed out to me to buy it.

In January, two of us ventured to White Plains. I was on a limited budget, of course. But I wanted to see what I could find and maybe find a few things worth blogging about.

This trip looked like it was going to be normal in that it was going to get one or two cards and split a box to open with a friend. But before leaving, we came across a place that had auto and game-used cards for $2 each.

After going through things, I had a good 8-10 cards, but only wanted to spend $6 or so. That made me trim away some of the ones I didn’t need.

My favorite, though, was the Ramon Nivar card. Nivar, who saw time in the major leagues from 2003-05, had some crazy inscriptions on his card. We were trying to figure it out when we finally agreed that it said “John 3:16; I love Jesus; Ramon Nivar.” Now, his chicken-scratch writing could say something different. But that’s what we thought it said.

Lenny’s boy, Cutter Dykstra.

So we went with it.

I also bought a card of Cutter Dykstra, a son of former Phillie Lenny Dykstra (of whom I also have an autographed card or two in my collection) and one of Doug Glanville.

The Cutter card is a really sweet one. I like the photo and the autograph. The one of Glanville I debated, only because I wondered if I had it already. But I decided it was too good of a card not to grab, especially at $2, and especially for a Phillies fan.

I walked away with a few other cards, but one of them — a Pete Rose one — I’ll tackle in a future edition of this series. Pete’s one of my favorites, so it’s always nice to find a cool card of his at a pretty decent price.

I look forward to visiting this show again because I always seem to uncover some fun stuff. This is what collecting is all about for me. It’s not quite the same as ripping open a few wax packs, but when you can leaf through boxes and boxes of autographed and game-used cards, looking for those “gems,” the fun factor is definitely still there.

Adventures in card collecting is a series of stories about collecting sports cards. These stories will run on this blog periodically and will cover a variety of topics about the hobby. 

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog@gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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Collecting baseball cards isn’t just for kids anymore

Aug 02

Baseball cards have come a long way since I was a kid… such as this John Kruk card which features his autograph on a piece of a bat as well as a piece of a jersey.

Note: This is the first in a short series of stories I’ll be doing about collecting baseball/sports cards. The rest of the series will run in the near future.

Baseball has always been a passion of mine.

Though I’ve always been a Phillies fan, I’ve had bouts of “fandom” with some other teams, usually based on their hats. These were all as a kid though. Some of those teams include the Angels, Expos, White Sox and Reds.

I know, at one point, I even had a Mets hat, but I know for a fact I never cheered for them. (Though, to be fair, I was a HoJo fan and Dave Magadan has always been one of my favorites).

Anyway, the love affair with baseball goes back to when I was a kid. I had a hand-me-down Larry Bowa jersey at one point. I never got to go to a live game in Philly as a kid, but I do remember going and watching the Oneonta Yankees at least once a summer.

It’s quite a full circle knowing I got to cover the Oneonta Tigers, the team that replaced the O-Yanks, during my professional life.

It’s crazy to know guys you are covering at a low-level of the minor leagues have cards already — especially autographs and the such.

As a kid, I spent much of my summers with a ball, glove and bat. We had pick-up games and just threw the ball. If necessary, I could play ball by myself, whether it was hitting a ball in an open field, throwing pop-ups to myself or using a tennis ball and throwing it at a wall or set of steps.

There was something else that was part of my childhood — baseball cards.

Oh how I loved baseball cards. Despite the fact that they were cards from the 80s — when many thought cards would pay for their college, but the explosion of so many cards eventually made prices drops extremely fast.

Nonetheless, I never thought about that.

Heck, many of the cards I had ended up strewn about or stuffed in boxes. I never cared for them. I could have had a Ricky Henderson rookie. Or Don Mattingly. Or that Mark McGwire Team USA card. Who knows? Maybe there was a Cal Ripken Jr. rookie or something.

But I never worried about that.

See, we knew every year when the new Topps cards were coming out. The one local gas station got boxes in each year and we’d be all ready for it.

Oh the excitement of opening those old wax packs! The cards were awesome! And without the Internet, we never knew what the design was going to be until we opened the packs. And then there was the gum — oh that hard, pink gum placed in packs. It was awful, but we chewed it nonetheless. At that time, packs were something like 25 cents each.

We’d sift through those cards for days and weeks. Until we got enough money to buy more packs and then we’d run out and see who we could get. It was always a score if you got someone from your favorite team. And if someone else got one? Well, you could trade!

And how many of you remember flipping? I would do it sometimes, but boy I hated it. People cheated at times with it and if you didn’t catch on, you could lose your cards in a hurry.

Then I grew up.

Probably my best pull.

Baseball cards, of course, were for kids. Who had time for those things? There was high school. And college. And buying cars. And hanging out with friends. When age 21 came, there was beer and bars.

Baseball cards? Never again. Sure, I’d buy a pack or two here and there, just for the hell of it. But I wasn’t a collector. I just thought it was fun to crack a pack here and there. I had to see what the new cards looked like. It’s not like I was ever going to start collecting again.

Right.

A funny thing happened on the way to the card shop…

I can’t put my finger on where I got the bug again. It was in the early 200os though. If I had to bet, it was probably when I started covering professional baseball. It was short-season Single-A, so basically the bottom level of baseball (not including the Florida instructional leagues). Some of those players were card collectors.

Heck, some of those guys had cards.

Say what?

I remember, again as a kid, that some minor league teams had team card sets made up. But it’s not like they were anything major. I mean, heck, those cards weren’t Topps or any company people took seriously.

Were they?

So back to these players. Some of the top picks had cards out there. Not only did they have cards, they had authentic autograph cards and there were also cards with pieces of a jersey or bat or something else in them.

Wait a second — what ever happened to wax packs, bad bubble gum and regular cards? This was getting serious, it seemed.

Seriously, I got this Schmidt card (15/15) for like $15 on eBay. Nuts!

Soon after, I picked up a copy of Beckett Baseball. I had read this magazine back in the day, but I wanted to get a grasp of things. And it opened my eyes to the hobby and how it has grown. I started to research more and more as I was intrigued.

From there, I found eBay was a haven for cards. That helped me become addicted. Though, to be fair, I was pretty good about it. I capped myself on prices of cards, kept a watch on what people charged for shipping and stayed within the budget. I got caught up in a couple of card battles on eBay, losing most, thankfully. I’ve never really gone too high with card prices. The highest I’ve paid for one card was about 50 bucks, a Peyton Manning autograph card.

One of my prize pieces of my collection — a Robin Roberts autograph card.

I soon realized this wasn’t just a kid thing anymore. Adults do it. Maybe a little too much in that prices are through the roof. Buying high-end packs can become really costly.

I became a collector again and I haven’t regretted it. I still buy packs sometimes, but I am more into collecting certain players. I collect most Phillies. I try and grab cards of players I covered in Oneonta and players who visited. I also have several people I collect in hopes of getting all their cards — Larry Christenson (my childhood favorite pitcher); Tom Brookens, Bill Monbouquette, Jon Matlack, Andy Barkett and Luis Quinones.  All but Christenson have connections to the O-Tigers from the time I was there.

I’ll have more on that in a future edition of this series.

It’s been fun though. It’s a cool hobby and I’ve had a great time trying to find cards. I’ve hit up a couple of card shows and have a good time there. I always find something cool at a good price and I truly enjoy sifting through cards or just checking out displays. One day, I’ll find a way to head to the National Sports Collectors Convention. This year it’s in Baltimore, which would have been nice, but it’s out of the price range this year!

The hobby has come a long way since the days of me buying wax packs, flipping cards, putting them in bike spokes and trading Dave Winfield cards to get another Pete Rose card. The cards are way more intense, with some high-price items in sets.

I love collecting certain players — such as my favorite Phillies pitcher as a kid, Larry Christenson.

There’s still room for kids, though. The basic packs can still be found in stores at a decent price, sometimes just 99 cents per pack. But there’s that bridge now — cross it and it’s a point of no return.

At least it seems that way to me!

I’ve yet to buy a high-end box. I’ve dabbled with some $8-$10 packs, but that’s about it. And I haven’t done it in a long time, for obvious reasons. For the most part, though, I stick with cheaper blaster boxes a couple of hobby packs here and there.

I can dream of that big hit, though.

There’s a feature that’s in the monthly Beckett magazine — a place where people can show off their pulls. Some of these pulls are simply incredible. Cards worth hundreds of dollars or more.

I hope one day I’ll have a pull good enough to send in to the magazine.

Until then, I’ll be happy with the small things and seeking out cards I need to fill something. One thing is for sure, it still gives the feel of a kid whenever you find a card you need or just ripping over a pack. I hope that feeling never goes away when it comes to collecting cards.

Notes: If you look at the top of the page, you’ll see a “Cards” link. I am trying to organize my collection and have a place where I can scan the cards and have a place for them. This will be the place. Over the next few months, I’ll be working on that page and the sub pages. Feel free to check it out. If you’re somewhat of a collector, I’ll have a page setup for cards I’m willing to part with as well as a “wanted” list. If I have something you want, feel free to give a shout and maybe we can work out a trade of sorts. I’m also going to eventually package up many of my “commons” or non-signed/game-used cards, package them as teams and likely give them away or trade for other items. Check back at some point to see what I have with those!

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook

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Book Review: The Cards of Unknown Players

Nov 07

I need to start out by saying The Cards of Unknown Players is a Kindle e-Book. It appears to be in other digital forms, too. (A quick check shows it on the Nook, so I imagine it’s out there for other formats, too).

This book reads fast. I don’t think it took me more than a night. Maybe two. It’s a nice story about a father and his son, collecting cards and some life lessons. It’s not just about baseball cards, though. It’s more than that.

The product description says:

A disabled boy finds the baseball card of a non-existent major league player and the boy’s father embarks on a quest to find out how that could have happened. What he finds will give him hope for all the unknown players.

What happens is quite interesting. It’s a cool tale and it’s the right size. With the story being somewhat focused, having a quick read makes it good.

Now for my thoughts…

The good

The story.

Cards of Unknown Players

In this day and age, some books are really in-depth or not thought out. This one is good because it has a solid story. From finding the card, to finding the story about the card.

Where the card leads the father is good, too. It’s not very predictable, which is good.

What I really liked was that in a day when stories seem to go off on different directions all the time, this story stayed on the same line. It didn’t stray. You learned the details. You met the people. And you saw where things went and how they developed. That was a nice part of this eBook.

The bad

The book was far from perfect.

Some might say it was too short. Some might complain about character development (there’s a little, but not a lot). The writing isn’t the most perfect in the world (some grammar and spelling issues). But overall, it’s the normal complaints. I didn’t think there were any major errors to the book and being it kept my attention quite well, some things I overlooked.

Still, it wasn’t perfect, but with it’s length and story, most things can be overlooked.

Overall thoughts

Besides being a fast read, it was good. It was, for lack of a better term, wholesome. It’s a good thing to show relationships between a father and a son and this does it. The other good part is that one doesn’t have to be interested in baseball or baseball cards to read this story.

The book’s plot and ending weren’t predictable, which is nice because it takes you away from thinking this is another sappy book. Though the ending is happy, the way you get to it isn’t the normal way.

Rating

Based on everything from above, I would give this book a strong 3.5. I don’t think it was perfect. The story was strong and the characters were believable. I liked it overall and would recommend someone read it.

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook by clicking the button on the right side of the page!

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Notes from my Noodle: Sept. 20 edition

Sep 20

It’s been a while since I went out for a first-to-find run.

So when three new ones popped up in the area — all within 7 or 8 miles — in the early evening, I was tempted. Still, going out on a FTF run by myself isn’t always the most fun thing in the world. So, I put it aside and figured maybe I’d hit them later in the week.

Then I got a message from Craig of Team-Ducky, who noted that he might be willing to head over and join me for the hunts. A self-professed FTF hound, it didn’t shock me that he was willing to travel the 20-25 minutes over as he’s gone distances a lot longer.

It was a nice evening, so I figured what the heck.

Thirty-five minutes later or so, we were off and searching.

The first one didn’t take too long. It was a micro and a park-and-grab. A good hide. Same with the second one. The third one was a little tougher, especially with the mosquitoes humming away. Soon, the smaller lock-n-lock container was in hand and we signed away.

I haven’t done a lot of caching recently. Heck, outside of July, I haven’t done a lot of caching at all. There are a bunch of local caches I haven’t found yet, so it’s probably time to try and grab them and scratch them off the list.

It only took about an hour total to get them, so it was a nice getaway for a little while.

***

Processing photos is a long, well, process.

I shot a wedding a couple weeks ago and I am about halfway through the images. I usually just give the couple a CD with all the processed images, so it’s easy in that regard that I don’t have to do proofs and prints. Still, it’s a long, drawn-out process as you want to make the photos look as good as you can for the couple.

It’s probably why I don’t do weddings often.

Still, I love looking through these images. I’m really happy with the photos I got and I hope the couple is as well. There’s some really cool moments captured.

***

It would appear that I didn’t get the gig I had hoped I would have a shot at. A recent interview, which I thought went so-so, didn’t end up going anywhere. I figured because I hadn’t heard back at all in a while that I wasn’t moving on in the process.

I’ve received word that the position has been filled, but I haven’t heard officially. Hopefully I’ll get some word to make it official as I always hold out hope that I have a chance until I get that official note.

***

I’ve been peeking at my baseball cards recently. Part of the reason is I plan on giving some of those that I have doubles of (autographs, game-used) away in upcoming contests.

I was also looking to see about landing some reprints of any cards for players I am writing about for the HooHaa 9.

That also gave me a chance to check out some of the players I collect and made me realize that I am still missing a handful of cards for each person. Of course, at this moment, I won’t be purchasing cards. But it’s nice to know I can work on getting the list so once I’m gainfully employed again, I can hit up a show, eBay or Beckett and try and get the final cards.

***

Speaking of contests, the next one will be announced this Sunday. Make sure you check it out and enter!

***

Front of the shirt.

Our softball team party is this weekend.

Back of shirt

Being we won our second straight championship this year, we opted to get championship shirts. They are supposed to be in by Friday, which is good. I can then collect the money from the guys and send the payment. But it will be nice to get everyone the shirt. It’s kind of like our “ring ceremony.”

The front of the shirt won’t be fully covered by the above graphic. Instead, it will be a little smaller, centered in the middle of the chest.

The back of the shirt will have the info. I went through different things with this. Originally, I had the back-to-back part up top. I also had records, which looked out of place (for the record, we were 16-2 in 2010 and 19-2 in 2011).

The roster is the 2011 roster. I probably could have (and maybe should have) added the few people who played for the 2010 team and didn’t play this year (especially being it’s not like they played elsewhere. Two moved away and two just didn’t play). Alas, that would have made for some confusing spacing. I could have probably done something, but it’s too late now as it’s printing. I didn’t actually think about that until writing this post, however.

That being said, there were some changes this year with a second sponsor and everything else. So it’s all good how it came out. I’m happy with the shirts. If we three-peat next year, I’ll make sure everyone from the past three years are on the shirts. Nothing will be guaranteed, however, as we had some stiff competition in the finals and expect we’ll be seeing that team next year along the lines, too. Also, there were some good, young teams, so hopefully the league will keep getting stronger and stronger.

Either way, I’ll look forward to having these shirts at the team party this weekend in our final celebration of 2011.

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook by clicking the button on the right side of the page!

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