Monday, November 28, 2016

Like bad pennies...

As a set collector who sifts through stacks of common singles quite often, I've found that there are certain cards that I keep seeing.  Now, we often take note of appearances by our favorite players, or guys we collect, or superstars.  But there are also those more obscure guys that I see almost every time I find a stack of a certain set.  They keep coming back like bad pennies.

I looked up what that saying means, and it said that back in the late 1800's single cents had significant worth and were the favorite target of counterfeiters.  People would typically find fake or "bad" pennies in with their pocket change and would have to slip them by shopowners to get rid of them.  It wasn't unusual to see the same one come back to them, so the phrase became popular.

Aside from horribly damaged or designed cards, or those of players I can't stand, I've never actually seen a "bad" card.  But these are cards that somehow have much greater odds of ending up in that random mixed pile of (in this case 1970's) Topps cards.  They're always in everyone's dupes box.

I disqualified any of my numerous player collections, because I always notice those.  Also, I didn't elect those with actual cool looking cards, or most error cards that have corrected versions, because they are more sought after too.  I won't call them "bad" players, but I guess I define a "Bad Penny" card as the most common commons.

I sifted through a couple Donruss sets from the early 80's but I really didn't find any examples in those sets, probably because I bought them as whole sets when they came out, so I didn't have to look for singles.  So my candidates are from Topps sets of the 70's and early 80's.

Each collector will have his or her own examples for any given set.  Here are mine:

1980 Topps - #563 Will McEnaney

I'm not even sure how to pronounce his last name, but Will is the one card that sticks in my mind for this concept.  I've seen him everywhere.  Don't even think he has too many other cards.  Quick check of the TCDB shows that his rookie is 1975 with the Reds, continuing in '76 and '77, and he also had single Topps cards with the Expos and Cardinals, though his '77 OPC is with the Expos.
Runner-up: #385 Enos Cabell

1979 Topps #403 Tim Foli
When did the Mets wear yellow jackets?  Anyway, the bespectacled Foli rocking the 70's 'do wins out.  Almost had two Cardinals in a row with the reverse number 304 Swisher.  
Runners-Up: #21 Kevin Kobel, #304 Swisher, #438 Horace Speed

1978 Topps #520 Larry Hisle
Larry is usually so much happier in his other cards.  Check out his 1974, 1977, and 1979 Topps, he's having a much batter time there.  Like I said, not a "bad" card, just see it a lot.  Larry would otherwise be in the top 20-ish of guys with the coolest "card careers".  Someone has a series on card careers, but I can't find it right now.
Runners-Up: #151 Milt Wilcox, #178 Dave Chalk, #517 Andres Mora

1977 Topps #436 Turn Back The Clock - Bob Keegan
Any other subset like this would never make the list.  For some reason, I must end up with the dupes from everyone who hoards Turn Back the Clock cards, mostly from the late 80's.  If you ask me at any moment who Bob Keegan was, I'd have no idea.  But this card sticks in my head above the other ones I saw while paging through my set.  I might have said Minnie Minoso's Record Breaker too, but I like him too much to put him in this list.  One-(no)-hit wonder Bob comes out the winner for '77.
Runners-Up: #232 Minoso RB, #474 Rookies, #651 Von Joshua

1976 Topps #258 Nyls Nyman
This one came down to ol' NN up there and Lerrin LaGrow, who I almost collected at one point back in the day when qualifying as a player collection meant you were somewhat interesting and I had more than three of your cards.  Nyls (rhymes with gills or styles?) basically has a '75 quad-player rookie, this '76 Topps, and he made the big SSPC set.  But he makes this list.
Runners-Up: #6 Stennett RB, #138 LaGrow, #268 Del Unser, #345 Andy Messersmith

1975 Topps #575 Gene Clines
Gene looks concerned that I picked him over the other candidates, but he won by default.  I have three DeMolas in my dupes box, but that one is cool for the colors and the ads behind him.  Wanted to say Milbourne, but ya can't put up the Rookie Cup guy, especially in matching red and yellow.  And Nate Colbert is just way too happy!
Runners-Up: #391 Don DeMola, #512 Larry Milbourne, #599 Nate Colbert

1974 Topps #577 Mike Sadek
As I go back further, it gets harder to find obvious candidates for this list.  I considered Earl Williams of the Orioles, but I would see more of the Orioles than any other team around here in that era, so he gets a pass.  I also thought about Tom Murphy from the Traded set, but that was straying too far.  Bill Melton's glaring red helmet was probably just burned into my head from seeing it once.
Sadek wins for his genericness.  He has minimal cardage, consisting of regular Topps cards until 1981, plus a Donruss in that year.  He ended up coaching for SF and got a Mother Cookies coach group card.
Runners-Up: #170 Melton, #375 Williams, #496T Tom Murphy Traded

1973 Topps #364 Rick Wise
Pretty much a clone of the Sadek card, though Wise had a much longer career as both player and coach.  His cards go from a 1964 dual rookie, through 1982, and then from 1985 to 2009 coaching in the minors.  Good player, just cheesy common card.  And like Sadek, he beat Roric Harrison (again with the Orioles), Lee May (Astros), and happy George Hendrick.  Before this year, I would have said Roy White hands down, but I got his auto this past National.  He's kinda the same deal as Wise - decent player with a card that doesn't go away.

I figure I'll stop here.  Not just because it's 1 AM, but from 1971 and '72, the cheese factor diminishes greatly since those sets are so cool to start with.  And I'm not finished 1970 (or '72), so I can't say I've done all the sifting for those yet.

Maybe I'll make this a series and do the 80's next....  Let me know what your nominees are.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

No Waiting for this trade!

Thanks to P-Town Tom of (the soon to be renamed?) Waiting Til Next Year for what started as a simple swap for some of my Conlon dupes.  He ended up covering the whole range of my baseball wants in return!

You can tell when someone examines your lists closely when they come up with parallels and oddballs like this.  My Vintage player list is several screens long.  Here's what he found:

Actually got the Showalter/Fregosi twice.  Maybe he thought it was Piniella.  No matter.  I had to double check the Evans to see if I had the Winner or the regular gold, since I just had "Gold" on my list.  Luckily, I didn't have either one.  Really glad to get the Obak Grich too.  I've come across those a couple times, but it's not something that dealers will bring to shows very often.

Next up, he hit my 2012 "Coopy" list.  Always awesome to get these.  Those HOF Classes Teams (the woody ones) are especially elusive.

Then he hit one off the Priority page, and one of those '93 Iooss inserts, plus some REALLY nice higher number '72s.

Just need Ellsbury's buddy Beckett to kill those pesky ToppsTown.  The '72s will be somewhat slumming in my set.  The bulk of it are mid-grade, but as I find the high numbers, they are tending to be nicer than the rest, so I may end up bulk trading to upgrade the front 3/4 of the set.

And for the finale, check out these 1960 Topps!  Tom wasn't sure he was sending enough!  Wow!

The Groat is kinda creased, but on the back, so it won't show in the binder page.  The Spahny group one is too, but looks fine at first glance.  The bottom two are o/c a bit for my usual taste, but they're high numbers, so I'm not complaining at all!

Can't over-say how much I appreciate the trade.  Even the packaging.  He used good ol' masking tape too, and didn't forget the pull tabs!  Looking forward to the next round, Tom!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Topps Mystery Subsets

For the last several years, Topps' flagship set has featured Highlights, team cards, All-Star game cards, and checklists.  Trouble is, all of them use regular action photos just like the base cards, without any conspicuous markings otherwise.  You have to squint and read the fine print to know what you are actually holding.

So if you didn't know already, which of the following cards is Ichiro's base card and which is the highlight?  I've blacked out the line underneath that gives it away.  But you see it's only a tiny area on the card that makes the difference.

Either one could be the base card, or the highlight of his 4257th professional hit.  You really can't tell.

Now if they put something on the front to distinguish the highlight card, it would be much easier:

Much better....and I can see it without squinting!

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Fly the W ... for WORLD CHAMPIONS!

November 2, 2016 is now an important date in all-time sports history.  The Chicago Cubs ended their championship drought by winning an epic game by one run in the tenth inning.  I won't rehash the details, but I'll remember watching it for years to come.  Congratulations to the North side team and fans!

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

2016 Topps Update inserts tweaked

Bought my two boxes of 2016 Topps Update last week (thanks, Blowout!) and got three cards away from two base sets.  Second box duplicated several inserts, which annoys me while I'm opening the packs, but makes for trade bait, so I'll get different ones eventually anyway.

One insert set I noticed was the "Team Franklin" set.  I put "Team" in quotes, because the only indication of that notation is the card numbers that are preceded by "TF-" on the back.  Nowhere else on the card is it mentioned.  Struck me as kinda weird, but taking a closer look, I felt like this set wasn't finished yet.  Looked to me like they stopped after adding the first couple design elements.

There is only the Franklin logo, a name, and a seemingly irrelevent metallic mesh strip along the bottom.

The backs are all text, with the name, team, and position over a ghost image of the metallic strip.  Then there is a standard player accomplishment blurb, followed by an ad line for batting gloves, and several social media and web links to Franklin.  And of course, Topps' copyright and misc. logos.

They are really kinda phoning it in on these.  If they are really an attempt to partner (and actively advertise) on a trading card - which is kinda scary -  then show the product!

Make 'em look like a glove.  This concept could even work as a die-cut with the velcro strip.  Color them to match the player's custom gloves.

On the back, we don't need to read about each guy's accomplishments again.  Leave that for their base cards, their All-Star cards, their inserts and almost every other card with their photo on it.  This insert is all about [selling] gloves!  Let's see each guy's custom gloves!  That's something we've never seen before on a card!  They could even write about how they like theirs customized in certain ways, or the different modifications or specs they've tried. 

If it wasn't such blatant advertising, it would be a really nice unique concept for an insert set.  You never see anything about the actual gear that the players use, except for the fragments of some of it in memorabilia cards.  A focus on the gear is an interesting departure from the same old thing.

Oh, and by the way, I must protest Team Franklin card #12.  Dustin Pedroia should have been banned from this insert.  Or the card should at least say why he has to adjust his dang gloves after every pitch, whether he moves at all or not!