Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Cardboard OCD Chapter 4: Box 'Em Up!

Continuing the set sorting process from the last OCD post, now we're ready to store the set.

The default method is the regular white box.  Unless it's a vintage set, or one that I really love the design, it generally goes in a box.  At least until it's close enough to completion to be put in sheets without too many holes.  Makes it easier to sheet up if you're not compensating for missing cards three or four times a page.

But it's not just about dropping the cards in the box.  You have to do it efficiently, right?

I'll put the set (starter or whatever) in the box with the numbers facing so I can read them.  This makes filing individual cards possible without necessarily pulling chunks of the set out of the box.

Then if there is extra space, I'll fill it in with pieces of packing foam. If I've opened packs of the set, I'll include two of the wrappers that didn't get too torn up upon opening.

I'm lucky enough to work in a place that yields a lot of storage material, from free binders to lots of different size packing foam.  So I have a variety of thicknesses available all the time.

And don't forget your ad cards at each end to protect the first and last cards.  Those pesky things are good for something!

Then I mark the end of the box to identify the set within.  I use pencil so I can transfer cards into different size boxes and relabel them without making a mess or having to print labels or something.  I do like it when I have more graphical labels or wax box panels to put on there, but it doesn't happen often.  And I'll usually start the set out in a box that fits pretty close, even though I may only have half the set.  Later, as it fills up, I'll move up to the next size box.

Now for some random reason, I label single row boxes in the upper left of the end, and bigger boxes in the lower right, mostly to avoid the lid covering the labeling.  I'm not picky about which end I use to write on in relation to the flaps.  Some will open to the left and some to the right.  Often the choice is made by seeing which end has the least tape or markings on it.

Most of my active sets in smaller boxes are in the cabinet stacked by size for easy handling.  The bigger ones are on the wire shelf rack (pictured above) and roughly stacked by year left to right.  Double row shoeboxes just kinda go where they can, since combining them with single row ones doesn't make it easy to get them in and out of the shelves.  I recently had to raise the top shelf on this rack to allow four single row boxes in a stack instead of three.  Even then, I've only got room for a couple more there.  I'm going to have to thin the herd of the 3- to 5-row boxes of dupes below them to make room for any more sets in long boxes.

But anyway, not much of anything innovative here, just my thought process when storing cards in white boxes.  Next time in Collecting and Storage 101, we'll talk about binders maybe?  Until then, Happy Trading!

Monday, February 26, 2018

PWEs From P-Town And The Jester

Couple of PWE maildays on the 21st and 22nd.

P-Town Tom of Waiting 'Til Next Year (think he got tired of the Latin title), sent me a young moose in a small white envelope.  It's a Mike Mussina in his 18U league days from the 2013 Panini USA Champions set.  Nice oddball for the player collection.  I usually limit it to Orioles only, but might as well include everything before then.  Have a couple of his minor league cards, etc.

Then Matt from Diamond Jesters sent me a current PC base of Kershaw killer Chad Kuhl.  Saves me from digging it out of a monster box in the next show.  Now I'm after all the parallels!

Thanks fellas!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Number Two Of The Men In Blue

Shortly after the 1988 Umpires set arrived, I got the second one from the next year.  This time it came with the custom binder and sheets too.

Binder is nice looking and coordinates with the set well.  Mine got a little bent in the back panel from shipping, but I don't think it'll show.

The sheets got crimped so they have a big wrinkle in them, but I'll probably use Ultra Pro Platinums anyway.  Hopefully the binder will hold all 21+ sheets worth of the three sets together.

Nice set with a few names that I think are still on the field.  I showed the names I recognized without reading the backs of all the cards first.

Ol' Country Joe West looked a bit different back then.  He's one that should have retired a little while ago, in my opinion.  Not a bad guy necessarily, he just makes his presence felt during games, usually at crucial moments when the umps shouldn't be a factor.

So now I'm down to the 1990 set.  Thanks eBay sellers!

Friday, February 23, 2018

New Custom Set: Leading Ladies Of Sports Broadcasting

Gavin over at BBC Breakdown inspired me to create a series of customs depicting pretty girls.  Keeping with the sports theme, I thought a series of cards featuring the most attractive women from the different sports channels would be cool.  I know I tune in sometimes just to see the host rather than for the highlights or discussion.  (Ever notice they almost never give the women a one-shot closeup?)

Anyway, here is the first in a series of nine (so far).  The obvious choice for card number 1 tops the list alphabetically, and by popularity, I would guess.

Erin Andrews, sideline reporter for FOX NFL, and also hosts Dancing With The Stars.  If I could write something for the back of the card, it would have to say she worked her way up on her own and does so much more than just look good.  Had a stalker who followed her around hotels before he got caught.  But all he really did to her was show the world her strength, depth of character, and resolve.  She crushed him in the courtroom and turned an ugly incident into a campaign for all people who are affected by stalkers.  She's really an amazing woman.

So I had an idea for the structure of this set.  The regular base cards are the design above, with photos of the lady in her beautiful, but businesslike state - how she looks on TV, etc.  Then since it's all about parallels and short prints these days, I figured why not do a parallel version that shows the more sultry side of the subject.  In composing these, I found multiple photos of each gal anyway, so why not use them all?  I can make short print variations with the different shots!  Mostly because I've got it down to where it's just basically pasting a frame over top the resized photo.

So here is the short print variations of card #1:


The second is a screenshot from TV. Gives her a nice angelic glow.

And here is your Passion Parallel:

<mic drop>.

All images copyright their respective owners, etc. Insert proper legalese here.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Slingin' Sammy ... The Shortstop?

Feb 22 1938     After college, Texas Christian football All-American Sammy Baugh signs a contract with the Cardinals. 'Slingin' Sammy', who will experience little playing time as a backup to starting shortstop Marty Marion, will leave the minor leagues to play for in the National Football League, where he will become a Hall of Fame quarterback with the Redskins.

Bob Lemke custom

 Might have been cool, but this turned out a whole lot better....

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Feb. 21st, When The Lights Came On

This Day in Baseball History

1931 The White Sox and Giants become the first major league teams to play a night game. The Buffs Stadium (Houston, Texas) exhibition game lasts ten innings, with the teams collecting a total of 23 hits.

There ya go, Night Owl, that's when it all started.

Though the first regular season game wasnt until May 24, 1935 when the Cincinnati Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2–1 at Crosley Field. The original plan was that the Reds would play seven night games each season, one against each visiting club.

Monday, February 19, 2018

What Price Perfection?

I get Sports Collector's Digest in the mail every couple weeks.  I enjoy it for the articles on vintage cards and oddball issues, as well as for the show calendar, and other stories on varied parts of the hobby.  I like the print version, but they do have an electronic version available as well.  I'm old school and like reading from a page better than a screen, especially since I get plenty of screen time elsewhere (including blogs, of course.)

One subject they cover regularly is auctions.  There seems to be a steady increase in the volume of articles that are dedicated to upcoming auctions as opposed to card products, shows, and collecting in general.  I suppose it falls in line with the fact that they get a lot of ad revenue from auction houses and are obligated to feature them to a degree, and I'm OK with that.  I'd rather see them talk about the cards themselves, but so be it.

A regular feature in SCD is the top 10 auction sales, which usually includes a couple 1952 Mantles, Michael Jordan rookies, Gretzky rookies, and maybe Tom Brady or Aaron Judge, or whoever is trending up at the time.  Those particular items kinda make sense to be going for ridiculous sums, but if you look at some of the auction house results or ad pages, you'll be amazed at the sale prices.  They're routinely five and six digits!  Who are these people who are paying out five-digit sums for the graded superstar cards that are listed in the magazine? 

I found the examples below on a popular auction house site.  They are typical of some of the exhorbitant amounts that are paid for cards that I know I could get (in slightly less than pristine condition, but totally acceptable to me) for at least 10% or less of what these people paid.

Here's the first one.  A 1960 Carl Yastrzemski rookie card.  I just got one for about $100, which I don't have yet, but only because a friend is shipping it in with other stuff.  That's about the going rate when you look at COMC....

These are ungraded and going for 75 to a bit under 100.  Par for the course for a Good to VG condition range.

Here's what eBay has to offer at the moment:

You have typical eBay listings here.  The bottom one is actually a 2001 reprint.  It's the refractor version, so that bumps it up a bit.  But it doesn't really count. 

The other guy is out of his frikkin' mind.  He's seen the other auctions and thinks he's got Gem Mint MOJOZZ or something incredibly earth-shattering.  But at least he put in "or Best Offer".  There were plenty of PSA 7's and 8's of the actual 1960 card to be had.

Here is the auction result I saw.  The eBay crazy guy kinda steals the thunder, but anyway....

Same PSA 9 rating.  They started at FIVE THOUSAND.  And the nuttiest part is, they got FOUR TIMES that for it!  So you can get a decent one for a Franklin, or one that some guy decided to submit to a company to put in a plastic prison for the price of a 2018 Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, or Ford Focus.

Now OK, that's a superstar Hall Of Famer rookie card.  The guy is a legend, so there is a certain fanboy zeal associated with him.  There were a few other examples of PSA 9 '60 Yaz cards going for much less in their other auctions.  So this is an extreme case.

How about a newer card of a fan favorite type guy who wasn't quite a HOF'er, or even really a perennial All-Star?  Consider this card....

COMC has a couple raw examples of the 1969 Topps Bobby Bonds rookie for (surprisingly) double digits, and a graded one for about seven times the raw price.  A lot higher than I would expect for this one, though it is still a high number (though this set didn't have the scarce high number series), and a rookie, and is also related to Barry Bonds, so there are a couple hype-inducing characteristics at work here.  Beckett shows semistars in this range as three to eight bucks each.  Bonds is listed as $12.50 to 30.00.  So the raw ones fall right in between, which is fine.

I will never understand or support the idea that a graded card is worth many times more than a non-graded one in the same condition.  It's just corporate interference and an artificial increase based on the whims of random collectors and grading companies.  But I digress....

EBay has a few PSA 9's at varying rates.

The $79 one is reasonable if you cast aside my complaints.  A perfect-ish specimen for $80.  OK, I'll give it a pass.  Certified perfection might be worth that to someone.  Same thing for five times more?  No thank you.

OK, so what did this card sell for at the big auction house?

Almost three grand!!  Started at seven hundred and fifty!  That's ten times the starting price of the auction above.  Now this is a GEM MINT 10.  But all I can say is Child, Please....  That's still about $2810.00 too much!

Who are these buyers?

Are they twenty-something children of billionaires who are sports fans?

Rich middle aged guys who just try to outdo each other on crazy auction bids?

Card or grading company executives who just keep selling these to each other?

I really have no idea.  I've come a long way since I started collecting back in the late 70's.  I've got stuff now that I never envisioned having back in the day, but it's mostly because I live cheap and have no life otherwise.  I can't imagine becoming one of these high rollers, though.  I'll take my slightly off condition superstars for one percent or less of what these nutbars are paying every time.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

eBay Mailday - Men In Blue

I've been looking for these for a while now, and was browsing eBay the other night when I saw them for a decent price.  It's the first of three sets of umpire cards from T&M, who you may know from the Senior League set they produced at about the same time.  This set is from 1988.  64 cards in a little boxed set.

It came double-wrapped in cardboard and bagged.  The cards are still sealed in the box.

I'll probably open them up and sheet them since I also won an auction for the '89 set and the special binder they made for that set.  Hopefully it will hold all three.  Haven't seen the 1990 set for a reasonable price yet.

It would probably cost them money since the umps have a union too, but here's an interesting idea for an insert set that you don't see very often, Topps!  Even if you just did the top 20 guys or the crews for the playoffs.  Much better than another series of 50 pictures of the same trendy guys with splashy painted backgrounds.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Targets For Assimilation #2

On my wantlist home page, (and at the left on this blog site), I list my top "most wanted fugitives".  These are the set killers, the last elusive insert or short print that will clear a major space on my want list.  A lot of other bloggers have them too.  Nebulous Nine, Desperate Double Dozen, Arbitrary 8, etc.  I figured why not write a post about what some of them are or why they're such a priority.

#2 on my current Priorities want list is 2004 Timeless Teams Bill Freehan, but that's been found and is on its way eventually.

So post #2 is actually about the #3 listing of two Brett Favre cards that are set killers.

The first is 2009 Topps Mayo football.  I bought two boxes of the stuff when it was new and got close to a set.  Still have a bunch of the minis, parallel minis, and box topper jumbos available to anyone that needs them.  The last elusive single for the base set is Favre's card showing him with the Vikings.

Also need this mini for the insert set:

The other Favre is a base set killer for a set that I picked up at a Michigan dealer this past year.  I got all the short set base cards (1-90) except this one.  Need a lot of the short prints, though.  Nice looking set that doesn't scan very well at all.

Brett Favre is kinda like Derek Jeter to my baseball wants.  If there's a superstar missing from a set, it's probably Jeter.  In football, it's probaby Brett Favre.  Or maybe Peyton Manning.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Customs 101

Here are basic step by step directions on how to make a custom card from images of existing cards.  I'll get into more complex designing later.

In this tutorial, I'll be making a custom Priest Holmes Kansas City Chiefs card in the style of the 1965 Topps "tall boy" set.  It's a nice, simple design that lends well to custom fabrication.

Start with a few good examples of the cards from the same or similar team, especially if the set follows a consistent color scheme for each team.

eBay is one of the best sources of images.  They are usually relatively large, and dealers with a lot of singles will often scan them all the same size and brightness.  This makes it easier to use elements from multiple images and have them look consistent.  Cuts down on the editing time.

So we can eliminate the other player's photos from the custom card.  I make copies of the image at each stage and save them along the way so if I mess up, I can go back and open a previous file and start from there again.
Basically you just erase the picture and replace it with the background color.  My Paint Shop program does this pretty automatically.  You just select the part of the image you don't want and delete it.

The blank card image also shows the name that I culled from the original images.  Looks something like this:

First I expand the yellow background so I can build the name on it.  Then I figure out which letters are present and go find the missing ones, or create them from what's there.  I pasted the T from Clinton's image to the end of Headrick's name.  Then made a P out of the R.  Also had to get the O from the other image.  Pieced the name together in order and then placed it on the new frame with McDonald's position.

Then all we need to do is incorporate a picture of our player into the frame.  I found this shot of priest with what looks like the same relative lighting or brightness and a background that was easy to obliterate.

Then you have to size it to match the dimensions of the frame.  You may have to resize one part or the other a couple times to make it look right.  Avoid stretching or distorting the image to make it fit.  Zoom it in and out evenly until it fills the space properly.  What I do is expand the "canvas" of the player image so it's big enough that the frame etc. fits inside it.  Then you can maneuver the images to line them up.

A bit too big

A bit too small

Kinda had to fudge it since there's not much image below his neckline.  Luckily, it's mostly just white with the shadow.  This is easily expanded with some photoshopping.  Just keep stretching or copying areas and pasting them down.

And voilà!  Your competed custom card.  This one didn't have much in the way of overlapping elements or background complications.  More of that in future lessons.

Friday, February 09, 2018


I have been very industrious lately.  Had some "me" time this weekend and the last couple evenings, so I set out to clean off my sorting desk and the surrounding room.  Managed to pull it off after today, which was the first snow day we've had this school year.

I showed these shots before of the piles of binders, boxes, and cards that had accumulated since last fall.

I have successfully culled an '86 Fleer starter set, and listed, sorted, and re-boxed several sets that were waiting, and put away all the stacks on the desk into their respective boxes or binders.  Then I stacked the binder boxes elsewhere to clear floor space.

Now it looks like this in there:

Voilà!  Space to walk, sort, and sit!

Of course, now I'm even farther over capacity in storing all this stuff.  Had to raise the top shelf of my wire rack so I could put five boxes deep in each stack.  Helped a little, but that shelf is almost full again already.

Next thing to do is make a comprehensive list of my tradeable starter sets and move out some bulk boxes!

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

2018 Topps Inserts:

Several reviews of 2018 Topps, including my own, have commented that the majority of the inserts are just repetitious appearances of the same old major star guys.  I wanted to explore that further.

Before I get to that, I do want to point out that it seems like this year, the concepts behind the inserts really have gone vanilla.  In past years, we've seen some decent original ideas like First Pitch, Robbed, 100 Years At Wrigley, Pressed Into Service, etc.  These brought some variety to the mix.  This year, those original concepts seem to be missing.

But are they all just the same players?  I decided to find out exactly how bad the repetition is.  I culled lists of all the players in each of these six insert sets in 2018 Series 1.

Home Run Challenge
Legends In The Making
Opening Day 
SuperStar Sensations
Topps Salute

The Jeters and the Topps Now Top Ten don't count, and the MLB Awards are decided by writers and on-field performance, not Topps suits.

Of the six sets, these guys appear the most:

Kris Bryant 7
Aaron Judge 6
Bryce Harper 6
Cody Bellinger 6
Miguel Sano 6
Mike Trout 6
Nolan Arenado 6
Paul Goldschmidt 6
Andrew Benintendi 5
Andrew McCutchen 5
Anthony Rizzo 5
Carlos Correa 5
Eric Thames 5
Francisco Lindor 5
Freddie Freeman 5
Giancarlo Stanton 5
Joey Votto 5
Khris Davis 5
Manny Machado 5
Wil Myers 5
Adam Jones 4
Buster Posey 4
Chris Sale 4
Corey Seager 4
George Springer 4
Jose Altuve 4
Josh Donaldson 4
Miguel Cabrera 4
Noah Syndergaard 4
Robinson Cano 4
Yadier Molina 4
Yoan Moncada 4
Charlie Blackmon 3
Daniel Murphy 3
Gary Sanchez 3
Mookie Betts 3
Nelson Cruz 3
Yu Darvish 3

I counted Bryant as seven since he's in all six and his own set too.  Could say that Judge is in seven since he's 70% of the Topps Now Top 10 too, but those are nothing but hype ads for a separate 2017 product.

So what was left?  The rest of the spreadsheet is the remaining players from each insert that appear only once or twice. View spreadsheet here.  A few surprises left on there - guys you would expect to have more presence.  Kershaw, Bregman, Longoria, Gregorious, Hosmer.

This variety is what we're looking for.  If a set still has the major part of its roster intact after you remove the frequent flyers in the list above, then we could say it's a decent list.  If it's down to only a couple, then it's probably a star recycling bin.  The two 100 card inserts contain some retired players, so that helps.

1983 - 64 / 100  OK, not bad ratio, but retired players really help what really should be the Archives base set.
Home Run Challenge - 29 / 50  Over half are "other guys", so not bad.  But these are a scratch-off game.
Legends In The Making - 0 / 30  Ding ding ding we have a winner. 
Opening Day  - 4 / 30  Meh.  Kinda dumb to make an insert with the same name as another set anyway.
SuperStar Sensations  - 14 / 50  Not much left here.
Topps Salute - 79 / 100   Retired players really help this bloatfest.

So in conclusion, we find that half of this year's insert sets can be considered just another redundant bunch of cards of the same star guys.  And then the '83s and Salutes should either be independent sets by themselves or just reduced to a reasonable number.  That leaves the HR Challenges, which are a scratch-off fantasy game.  Unless you're a big fan of Jeter or Bryant, there's nothing worthwhile left to collect besides the base set this year.  But that's OK, because if you're like me, you're still way behind trying to get all the 50 and 100 card batches from the 2017 set!

Monday, February 05, 2018

Thomes Need A Home

Met someone a while ago in a group for another activity who was an Indians fan and especially liked Jim Thome.  That automatically meant I was going to gather some cards for them.  I got one of those mini binders and put a batch of Thome cards and some other Indians stars.  This was a couple years ago and way before he made the Hall Of Fame.

Never actually gave it to them, though.  It's been sitting around for quite a while now.  I figured I'd offer them up here before I had to re-sort them back into my dupes - which are organized by set.

Here's what is available.  First up, the Thomes....

The first pic is a little out of order.  I put the first two sheets in the scanner backwards.

And then just a few Indians star guys.  Nothing fancy.

Some Donruss, Flair Showcase, Score Traded, and Studio.

Drop me a line if you can use any of these.