Monday, August 21, 2017

1960 Topps By Request

Got a few different comments about the 1960 Topps Willie Mays and company that I felt compelled to feature in another post.  Your wish is my command....

Except for Skowron, I picked these up from a dealer that I had finished my '59 set with at a previous National.  I'm horrible at saving business cards or receipts with the right cards, so I can't name them offhand.  Like Uncle Dick's, they have will often have more than one specimen of a card in the binder at different prices to fit your condition needs and budget.  You can see the prices on these were excellent.  Ol' Willie is slightly crooked and has a print streak, but not much else is wrong with it.  The rest are decent names for the time for only a couple bucks more than commons.

Rounding out the '60s, some upgrades, high numbers and a couple of the All-Stars.

Down to 21 cards for the set.  Big names and All-Stars for the most part.  Gotta get a hold of my man Marv to see what he's got left....

Sunday, August 20, 2017

USFL (addendum)

I do actually have a few of the first USFL set, just because they were cheap and maybe I'll find another bulk lot somewhere and build the set by hand.

Figured I should show what they look like too, for those that haven't seen them...

Great looking fronts with big helmet graphic and large team font.  The team names are always red.  Love the red, white and blue frame with the league logo.  Was wondering about the "Premier" spelling, but apparently the "no e" version is the adjective, and the other is the noun or the verb.  Here endeth the grammar lesson.

The backs are shockingly purple, but it isn't bad.  Nice and readable, especially compared to the last few Topps sets.  Part of why I haven't built a flagship football set since 2012 is that I can't see the print on the damn things.  Clever title for the trivia facts at the bottom. Evans wasn't horrible for the other Chicago gridiron team either.

One of these days, I'll have them all!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The USFL (1983 - 1985)

From the USFL SIte (graphics are mine):

A Brief History of the USFL

The United States Football League was a professional major league which played its games from 1983-1985 during the spring and summer months. Founded by David Dixon, a New Orleans art and antique dealer, the USFL announced its formation on May 11, 1982, at the 21 Club in New York City. Judge Peter Spivak, part owner of the Detroit team, served as president of the league, an interim position until the league named a commissioner. The league announced that it would be made up of 12 teams in major markets across the country. Franchises would play in New York (the Meadowlands, NJ), Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Tampa, Oakland, Denver, Washington, Philadelphia, Birmingham and San Diego (eventually switched to Phoenix). Not long after the press conference, the league named Chet Simmons, a broadcasting executive with fledgling ESPN, as the league's first commissioner.

The USFL made its debut in 1983 with a dozen teams and national television contracts with both ABC and ESPN. Much of the early news about the league centered on running back Herschel Walker, the Heisman Trophy winner who left Georgia a year early to sign with the New Jersey Generals. Despite Walker's presence the Generals proved to be also-rans and watched the resurgent Michigan Panthers nip the Philadelphia Stars in the 1983 championship game. 

Expansion, new owners and new players highlighted the USFL's second season in 1984. Joining the league were the Houston Gamblers, Memphis Showboats, Pittsburgh Maulers, San Antonio Gunslingers, Oklahoma Outlaws and the Jacksonville Bulls. The Breakers moved from Boston to New Orleans, and half the original owners sold their teams. Mike Rozier, college football's top player, was just one of many quality players to sign with the league in just its second season. The league also inked Jim Kelly, Reggie White, Steve Young and a host of college football's best along with former NFL starters. In addition, it picked up real estate tycoon Donald Trump as the new owner of the New Jersey Generals. Not even the addition of six more teams and another Heisman winner, though, could stop the Stars in 1984. Philadelphia blew through its league schedule before handling the Arizona Wranglers in the title game. Following the season, the embattled Simmons was replaced by Harry Usher who had been instrumental in the success of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Although league attendance remained solid, rising player costs forced many teams deeper into the red.

Prior to the 1985 campaign, the USFL announced its intention to switch to a fall schedule beginning in 1986 and to file an antitrust lawsuit against the National Football League. The change of playing season had severe ramifications for several franchises, many of which faced direct NFL competition in their cities. Fresh off their championship season, the Stars left their growing fan base in Philadelphia for the recently-vacated Baltimore. The Michigan Panthers threw in the towel and merged with the Oakland Invaders. The Pittsburgh Maulers called it quits after just one season. The Breakers were forced out of their new-found home in New Orleans and made Portland, Oregon their third home in as many years. All four moves were a direct consequence of the league's intentions to play in the fall. The Chicago Blitz also suspended operations, the Oklahoma Outlaws and Arizona Wranglers merged to form the Arizona Outlaws and the Washington Federals headed South to become the Orlando Renegades.

On the field in 1985, the relocated Stars overcame a slow start and won their second title. Doug Flutie became the third consecutive Heisman winner to sign with the league, and league play improved again due in large part to the preseason consolidations. Several franchises did not fare very well, though. The San Antonio Gunslingers, Los Angeles Express and Houston Gamblers struggled to make it through the year. Negative headlines and near financial ruin plagued the league even as it was showcasing its best football.

In July of 1986, about a month before the league was to begin its first fall season, the USFL won its suit against the NFL, but was awarded just $1 (trebled to $3 under antitrust law) in damages. With losses of more than $200 million, the league folded before beginning its first fall campaign.

There are only two card sets for the USFL.  1984 and 1985.  They come in the same size boxes as Topps Traded from the same era.  Both 132-card sets command high prices due to "pre-rookie" cards of Reggie White, Jim Kelly, Steve Young, Herschel Walker, Doug Flutie etc.  The lowest I've seen the '84 set lately is $200.

I got lucky at the National when I saw the '85 set on top of a dealers pile of small sets for $75.  I snagged it up quick.  He had separated the key cards (second year issues of the same players) so they were easily showable. 

Not quite as snazzy a design as the premiere set, but great to have just the same.  Design is pretty simple, but it works.  Here's a closer look at the star cards.  Too bad Topps wasn't fully licensed to show helmet logos on these either....

The backs are kinda cool too.  Though it bugs me a little that the name balloon isn't perfectly centered in the goal post.  Nice 80's fonts.

I still remember seeing a dealer that had a couple of this set, (and maybe the first one too - can't remember) broken out into singles for 10¢ each.  I only got a couple singles when I could have had most of the set.  I still kick myself for not jumping on those.  It was before the sets really took off in price.  Ah well, just wasn't meant to be....

Check out the ESPN 30 for 30 about the USFL as well - Small Potatoes.  A different perspective on Donald Trump. (Or not so different if you hate him as President). 

And here's a fun look at what might have been....

For more info on the league check these links too:

Now I just have to find the cards for this team!

Monday, August 14, 2017

All In A Day's Work

Here is what a typical day at the National sports Collector's Convention yielded:

Laid out on my hotel bed, I can go left to right and tell you what all these are. 
The first stack is a major hit to my list of 2003 Heritage.  Besides short prints and variations, these brought my needs down to nine cards.
The next pile is the continuing effort to amass all 300+ black minis from 2012 Gypsy Queen.  Still a "have" list at this point.  One of my want list items that is destined to be active for years.
Then we have the end of my 2016 Heritage high number set, followed by my conclusion of my second set of 2017 Topps Series 2.
The first row ends with a couple 2012 Cooperstown inserts, a header card for the 1993 Iooss inserts from Upper Deck, a Bowman buyback (didn't know they had those) of Willie Randolph for my PC, and a stray Heritage single from 2002.

Moving to the next row, there are 2010 A&G singles, probably including short prints, if that's not what the whole pile is.  I found a vendor selling just short print A&G for 25¢ each!  The majority of the row with the green spots, are current 2017 inserts.  Concluding then with some First Home Runs from a couple years ago.

Next is the really good stuff - vintage!  That's the real 1960 Willie Mays, not a reprint.  Found him, Killebrew, and several high numbers for good prices.  Also killed many 1970 and '72 from the far end.  Following those are two '72 Kelloggs that went with the baseball in the final row.  More on them later.  And finally, some Redskins and vintage football set hits.

Jumping to the end, there are 1979-80 Topps hockey hits to my set, mostly for about a quarter each as well.  The Gretzky is going to be a bitch....

The last row is O-Pee-Chee and Hostess (and the two Kelloggs) from my huge Player Collection list.  I actually have a chart with all the years of OPC across the top and all my PC guys down the side so I can tell at a glance if I need one or not.  It's the most in depth charting I've ever done, but it really helps.  It's hard to keep a list of "parallel" cards like that straight otherwise.  Plus, the visual aid works best for me.

The OPC's etc. came from a seller who was smack in the middle of the show floor.  He had these at the end of the table, kind of "around the corner" from several stacks of non-sports cards, and far away from the bulk of his vintage.  I knew I had to pounce since there are so many of my guys in the late 70's sets, and here was the better part of a couple whole sets.  Most of the big stars were still there too.  Luckily, only a couple of my guys are big stars.  Lets see who I got....

I always like to get a business card from a vendor who has a great selection of something like this or gives me a fantastic deal.  Not sure where Stan is from, but he's worth a visit.

Breaking down the OPC's into years, I managed to find a few from the earlier 70's.  The League Leader cards are an especially welcome addition to the OPC ranks....

Then 1978.  More LL's and Don Baylor acquired just before his passing.  Less than half of all the guys I have in the '78 set though!

The coolest thing with OPC is that often they are the bridge card between the regular set and the traded set.  They'll show the old picture with the new team.  Looks cool beside the regular Topps and Traded editions.

1979 virtually complete as well.  Checked them off and I'm still lacking twenty cards for other guys I didn't find.  That's how many PC's I have.

A few more "transition" players....check 'em against Topps.

And then the Hostess.  Still amazed how many I still need to fill in after all this time.  For a long time, all I sought was Topps, Kelloggs, and Hostess.

The two Kelloggs are variations of Palmer and Bud.  Stat numbers in both cases.

Not bad for a day's work, eh?! Did it again during the previous evening's VIP preview, and the next day too.  Don't have overview pictures, though.  Got caught up in the buying frenzy too much to remember to document it all well enough.  Promise I'll do better next year!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The King Of Junk Wax

That's what I used to call myself during the last few years I went to my best local card shop. 

Since I had skipped over the overproduction era, I spent some time during the mid 2000's in the back room dusting off the boxes of the first few years of Upper Deck, etc. mostly filling in my player collections that extended into that period, and also completing the occasional set that caught my eye.   I was usually the only one who looked at that stuff, since everyone else already had it in excess.

I'm still filling gaps in my set collection.  At this point, I'm pretty much going for Topps completion, since all it will take to get 1969 thru now is a few from the 90's, and I'm warming up to a lot more than just certain sporadic ones from other companies.

Which leads me to this particular purchase.  It's part of a major batch that also included several more sets and a pile of singles as well (the others will appear in future posts) from the great guys at Collectibles Unlimited in Clio, Michigan.  This particular visit was our second in the time I was in the state.  We got exclusive access to what I'll call their "special inventory".  Sorry, folks, you'll have to earn that privilege on your own.

This particular item was previewed in the overview post I did on the whole trip.  It's something that most of you set builders took care of long ago, but I never have until now.  The premiere edition of Upper Deck baseball - 1989.

Got the factory box flavor and everything, which makes it nice, even though I usually like to hand collate sets like this since so many people are willing to send me singles.  But having the proper box already sorted is good in this instance because of all the other stuff i still have to plow through.

Now the next thing you want to see is card #1, right?  Well, I hate to disappoint you, but Mr. Griffey was not included.  I actually didn't see any raw examples at the National, so he's now on my want list.  The set starts with #2, Mr. Medina here:

But at least the rest of it is done.  I now have the first four UD sets, and am working on Collector's Choice completion too.  Don't think I'll get close to Upper Deck flagships for all the consecutive years for a good while yet.   Still picking and choosing which ones I like.  I'm sure I'll find KG Jr. for a price I like and can then move on to the next set.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Don Baylor - My PC

Baylor is one of my many 60's and 70's player collections.  Sad to hear of his passing.  I won't rehash his career, Wrigley Jenga did that so well already, and High Heat Stats chimed in too.  So I'll do what I do better - show his cards.

His rookie, of course, is the 1971 high number with Dusty Baker and Tom Paciorek.  I actually have three of them, since I collect Baylor and Baker and have finished the set.  I just got the third at the last Chantilly show in July for eight dollars. 

Here's the rest of my Baylors.  Mostly the basics until you get into the late 80's except for the O-Pee-Chees.  Picked up the '78 and '79 at the National, along with a whole bunch of my other PC guys.  Will show those soon too. 

Anyway, here's a look through my binder.  I've left open spaces for other OPC and oddballs I may find later.  I have this weird rule that Topps comes first before 1980, then after that, each company goes in alphabetical order.  So vintage OPC will be after the Topps cards, but later OPC will be before SportFlics, Stadium Club, and Topps, etc.


Love the '83 transition between OPC & Topps/Traded.
 Last '87 one is Tiffany...

 Managers.  A lot more to find here...

Post career...
 Separated by year...

 The red Rookie Cup scans a lot redder than it looks.

 From the oddball binder...

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

2017 National - The Exclusives....Twice!

Here are the VIP offerings for this year's 2017 National Sports Collector's Convention.  Since I got the SuperVIP package (mainly for the parking discount), I got two sets of each of these.  Would love to trade for other past year's National cards that I don't have.  Let me know if you're interested.  I might also be persuaded to trade for other stuff if you don't have any convention cards and really need to have any of these.

First, the Topps offering.  Give you three guesses as to which design they used.  If you said 1987, you're right!  And you're probably as done with '87 as I am.....

Next, Upper Deck's Chicago-centric issue.  The other basketball guy is the 2016 Number One draft pick.  Would not have know that myself.

Panini's convention cards.  I think I like these the best.  But really only for the design.  The checklist is another matter...

Stupid scanner line on the left.

A brief set from Leaf.  The fight matchup is apparently a red parallel.  The other set I got has this with white lines.

Finally, a bunch from Heritage Auctions...about Heritage auctions.  These are numbered as high as 40, so I guess there are more than just these.  Interesting to see these items in a museum or display, but could care less about what they sold for, especially the graded cards.  Anything over raw high book is way too much.

So again, all of these are for trade.  I will prioritize trades for other convention cards, but am open to other things....

Monday, August 07, 2017

Most Wanted Fugitives Captured!

In preparation for my trip to the National and another Michigan shop tour, I collected the "Most Wanted" lists from several bloggers.  And I managed to find a few!

These items are being packaged for mailing.  I have notified the recipients already.  There are a couple others that I remembered someone wanting, but can't recall who it was.

Found a couple 80's Traded cards for Dime Box Nick at the National from a dealer's box of all early 80's.

Then later, while in Clio, MI at Collectibles Unlimited, I dug these out for Night Owl.

Not high-dollar purchases by any means, but I'm just glad I remembered to look for them.

Now here are the ones I thought someone wanted, but can't figure out who.  Could be that they got 'em already, but if not, let me know and I'll get them out to their new home.

It's probably been a little while, but I swear someone had this on their wanted list.  I recall the reference to the hockey stick.  Who was it?

This one is still current year product, so it's likely that it got knocked off whoever's want list I saw it on by pack pull, single purchase or trade.  I want to say it's a Brewer collector, but it isn't the most obvious ones that I know.  Is it you?