Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day Miscellany

Hope everyone is enjoying a day off with as nice weather as I'm getting here in Maryland. I don't have a good central theme for a post today, but there are several little bits to put out.
As we remember those who made the sacrifice for freedom in America, we also pay tribute to a couple fallen sports heroes who passed in the last several days.


Bart Starr passed away at age 85.  He and I share the same birth date.

Buckner's death was just announced today.  He was 69.  Was kinda annoyed at ESPN.  They put it up on the crawl that he was gone and that he had 2715 hits over 22 seasons for five teams.  But then they had to say that he committed the fateful error in the '86 World Series.
Did you really have to tag him with that again?  I'm no Sawx fan, but they had him back and put that whole thing behind them several years ago.  Way to stain his legacy ESPN.

Current Count stats:

I've finished sounting the cards on my wire rack shelf and in the upper half of the football cabinet. 

Shelves have been slightly reconfigured since this shot

Counted everything behind the glass doors and in the drawer.
Total bulk Redskins in the vinyl cases (and early vintage) 6541
Redskins GU & Autos 207

The rest of the Redskins are in two binders which will be counted later.

Total GU & Autos by sport  Baseball 11  Football 555  Hockey 156  Other 5

Mostly football and hockey since that's primarily what's in this cabinet.  The "Others" are basketball and golf.

Total regular cards by sport:

Baseball 59190
Football 19689
Hockey 8952
Other 1072

The baseball is the bulk set stuff on the bottom of the wire shelf.  There is a whole lot more baseball to come.
The bottom of that cabinet houses the remainder of the football and hockey sets, and there will be some from the binders to add to this number.
The Other category includes two early 90's hoops complete sets and my stack of gorgeous women cards.  (Still have some old Benchwarmers in the bottom of one cabinet.)

Grand Total (so far):
and counting.... I suspect that I'll approach 200,000 when it's all said and done.

Funny thing happened while going through all those sets.  I found a Postseason Celebration, three Storied World Series, and an '83 tribute Bo Jackson card in my set of 1996 Upper Deck Silver football.  Would have wondered where the heck those went when I closed those inserts out! 

You guys ever lose track of a particular card or cards and then find them somewhere crazy a while later?

Friday, May 24, 2019

Four More Down From P-Town

Good ol' Tom was at it again!

One of my favorite blogger traders sent me another PWE that arrived Thursday.  More shots to my most wanted list.  Check it out.

Yeah, funny how that happens when you're dealing with bloggers who are generous enough to go shopping for you.  A lot of traders will trade, but won't go out of their way to get something specific, even if it's just packs at Wal-Mart or Target.  But this community is different.

And I don't really have to scan them, they're already pictured on my site!


The final two 1st Home Runs from 2015 Topps Update.  Barring gremlins, this wipes out all 2015 sets from my baseball page completely!

The last gremlin from the 1990 SportFlics set I bought otherwise in one shot in Michigan.  #2 on my top 12 list.

And the Joey Votto that was #6 on my list.  Until my last SportLots order.  Rats, sorry Tom.  I indulged myself.  But I appreciate the effort on this one just as much.

Big thanks Tom!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

There Are HOF'er Cards, And Now There Are Cards In the HOF!

I've been to the Pro Football Hall Of Fame a couple times.  I have never been to Cooperstown.  Starting this weekend, I now have a lot more motivation to go.

While it would be a great experience to witness actual HOF players and recent retirees in the Hall Of Fame Classic game that is happening on the 25th, that's not what I most want to see.

The 2017 HOF Classic coaches, many of which will
also be in this year's dugouts.
Nope, the other event happening there is the opening of Shoebox Treasures, the Hall's new exhibit all about our favorite things ~ baseball cards.  From their website:
For the first time in the Museum’s history we will take a comprehensive look at the history of baseball cards, collecting and the connection generations of fans have had to these Shoebox Treasures. 
A few of the highlights we are excited about for the planned exhibit include: cards from every era: the 1800’s to today; “Holy Grail” cards like the Honus Wagner T206 card and the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle; and a make your own baseball card interactive.

The 2019 HOF yearbook that a friend passed to me recently has an article that says the exhibit will not only chronicle the history of cards, but also delve into their design, fabrication and sales, those who collect them, and the Holy Grail cards mentioned above.

There will be many more actual cards on exhibit encased in protective "drawers" that visitors can sift through and view.

The Hall had a card exhibit before on the same floor of the building, but it was removed when that section was renovated.  But they got such a response from fans that they knew they had to get some cardboard back on display.

I wouldn't expect that many of us would learn a lot of new information about the history of players on pasteboard, or what they pick out at the most desirable cards and the stories behind them.  I'm sure they'll be displays about the 1952 barge dump, cards issued in tobacco, Fleer & Donruss joining in 1981, the Overproduction Era, etc.  But they also said there will be some detailing of the copyright  and licensing process, and other behind the scenes glimpses.

Plus, just seeing a big group of the most iconic cards in real life is always a nice prospect.

If anyone has a chance to go, report back and tell us how it is!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Collector's Log: Stardate 198206.24

I'm pretty sure I was already into the Star Trek show, but I guarantee the second movie Wrath of Khan made me a bigger fan.

We would eventually see E.T. as well.   I didn't collect the cards, though.

How many of you are too young to have had to look up information in an encyclopedia in the library instead of getting on a computer?

I still have my personal set at Mom's house that looks just like this.  It was the Bicentennial Anniversary set from 1976.  And it was updated once a year, with a Year Book addendum, where they included new articles and updates to existing ones.  

Now there's Google and Wikipedia, etc. that is constantly updated on the fly.  Can you imagine having to go back to this?

School year was winding down, so classes were very informal and loose.

Nice to know I got a bargain trade for a star card.


Probably didn't over-trade too much for these since the rookie thing wasn't quite my cup of tea.  Got a second Kemp later since he ended up a PC.

Had to look up what Horner's RC was.  Didn't think he had a quad card like those other guys.  Wins ROY without a prospect card that year.  Topps missed the call on that one.

More cardboard pickups after playing the game itself.



All these are PC guys as well.

Gotta wrap this up quick, there's a thunderstorm starting outside....

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Like A Stone

Went down for the count yesterday, so no Friday post like I try to do.  Spent most of the day in the ER with a kidney stone.  That's something that you young'uns should NOT look forward to experiencing.  If you're unfamiliar, it's basically a piece of gravel shredding through the passages from your kidneys to your bladder.  Pain at a 9 on a 10 scale.  But I won't bore you with the gory details.  Suffice to say, I got home that evening and all is well.  Don't think I'll need any of the painkillers they gave me.  Learned a couple things about my insides as well.

Anyway, on to the card news.

The couning continues.  The wire rack shelf is almost done.  All the big boxes totaled about 65,000.  I started on the bulk Redskins after that.  Wasn't as tedious as I thought.  Since each case is 30 slots, I just counted each slot and wrote it down.  Averaged 25-35 cards per slot, and added them up at the end to total each year.  Shouldn't take long to finish them.

Made a new page on my wantlist site.  Decided to move all the player collection parallels and high odds inserts from about 2011 to now over to their own page so they didn't clutter up the set wants page so much.  For several products, I was down to the PC stuff, most of which is really hard to find or pull, so they'll probably be on there for a long time, but since I finished all the other set stuff, it might as well be gone from there.

Been watching the Western Conference NHL finals with some interest.  I was rooting for Fuji's Sharks to this point, but I'm afraid I've got to turn on them and go for St. Louis.  If the Capitals ever disappeared, the Blues are one of the teams I'd move to.  I do like the Sharks too, but between them, I gotta go with the Blues.  The final factor is that the fans in San Jose think the team nickname has two syllables.  Can't stand that Red Sox/Yankees chant that they get going.  "Let's go Sha-arks! Blamp Blamp Blamp-bamp-bamp"  No.  Please stop.  Get it right.  "Boom Boom Boom, Let's Go Sharks (/Blues/Caps)!" 

Can't believe all the sweeps in the Eastern Conference playoffs.  Islanders sweep and then get swept, and Carolina who swept them, get swept by the Bruins.  Hope the Western victor wins it all.
Nice live version here too.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Julie's Angels

A real quick salute to Julie of A Cracked Bat... blog for her return fire in response to a couple list hits I sent out earlier.

More 1977 Charlie's Angels!  Some first series gems with the original trio.

Lots of Sabrina (Kate Jackson) in many

A couple late series with Kelly & Bosley getting in the act...

And sticker #38 of Sabrina again.

These will go up on the database soon.

Thanks Julie!  Check out her tradeable offerings HERE.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Cardboard Census: Part One

It's a dreary, rainy day here at the Central Hivemind, and I've only got a couple small trade packages to put away.  I am waiting on another spontaneous SportLots order, but otherwise there aren't many card related chores to do. 

So I decided to finally dive into counting my cards.

I've configured a spreadsheet to break it down into the different storage locations, and then by the shelves, etc. contained within each.  This way I can keep track a piece at a time.  Some areas will go quickly, while others will be much more tedious and require a lot of hand counting.  The majority of my bulk is complete sets, which go fast, but I've already run into some things that complicate counting beyond just recording the last base card number.

I counted one shelf of my wire rack so far.  It's the bottom one that contains nine 3-row boxes (the 3000 count type).  Within those sets, I've encountered short prints (Heritage, GQ), variations, and alphabetically numbered inserts.  These are all things you have to take into account.  With some of them, it's easier to take the number of the full set and subtract the missing ones that are listed on my want lists.  For others, it's just old fashioned hand sifting - and remembering numbers.

When I'm done, there are going to be some other tasks that I'll want to do.  Like going back through my 1991 Topps set and seeing if I really have all but six of the variations that I think I have.  I skipped some of the asterisk differences, but I see on the database that there are others that I don't remember getting.  I'm sure that task list will grow.

The part I'm really dreading is the Redskins (in the blue vinyl cases) which will be almost all hand counting, and my player collection binders, which won't be quite so tedious, but will be interesting as I count full pages and then subract the empty slots from that total.

I'm wondering if I'll run into a lot of questionable calls in those binders especially.  Do I consider the album stickers as cards?  Probably so, since they occupy a spot in a page.  How about Broders and a few customs that I've printed out?  Yeah, there aren't that many to really influence the bottom line. 

So it's not going to be simple, but at the end, it'll be quite an accomplishment.  The other question is, do I record each set, player collection, team collection (by year), etc. next to their respective counts and thereby produce a detailed inventory too?  Not sure I'd really use it for much.  I'll keep my notes so I can refer back to them later if need be.

Have you counted your cards lately?  What complications did you run into?  How many did you end up with as a grand total?

Oh yeah, that one shelf put me at 20,600 already.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Thanks Mom

Happy Mother's Day Sunday to all the Moms out there, and to all the sons and daughters who will be taking time out from sorting cardboard to celebrate with theirs.  And especially to the couple of you blogger guys that have had tough times with your mothers recently.  Probably not the most joyful occasion this year.

I don't want to live with my Mom any more, (was there much longer than I expected, but it did a lot of good financially), but it's probably going to be devastating to not have her around when that time eventually comes.  She's always been really supportive in everything (except maybe cards, but she doesn't say much about my collection except "What would I do with all this if something happened to you?").   My Dad's been gone for twelve years now, but still having Mom across town is a blessing.  His passing affected me a good bit, so I don't even want to think about when they're both gone.

I get the double whammy this time of year in that it's also my mother's birthday on the 10th (today).  Just got back from a nice dinner with her for the birthday part.  We'll go plant shopping over the weekend to take care of the other bit.  It's become our tradition.  Mom is always outside in the spring and fall planting, weeding, mowing, or clearing every single stick out of her 3/4 acre yard.  She's had to learn to pace herself the last few years, but is still much more active out there than a lot of women her age.  (She just passed the same milestone that Topps did in 2013.)

The one significant card I remember getting from her was the Jim Palmer 1966 rookie (the real thing, not the reprint above).  It happened Christmas of 1982.  I know this because it's documented in my "journal" from that year that I've been highlighting the card-related entries in my Collector's Log posts

If we could make our own 2010 insert sets, mine would look like this

But more importantly, she taught me how to manage my money, (and basically the other parts of my life) so very well that I'm now in a position to be able to enjoy this hobby without having to stretch my finances or be restricted by other obligations.  Most of the rest of my life is secure enough that I have lots of time and resources to devote to these crazy little cardboard slabs, both for me and for others.  I really like knocking off those "most wanted" cards on other blogger's lists, or finding stuff they don't have of the players they collect, especially when they don't expect it.  I heard about the generosity of blogger traders for a good while before I became one of them, and now I like to support that concept as much as I can.   That's how I try to roll, and it's because of how I was raised.

Thanks Mom!  From all of us!

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Rookie Saturation - One More

A little add-on to my last post, or encore, if you will.  Keeping it short so I can go root for Fuji's Sharks to close out the Avalanche and advance to round 3 against the Blues.  Going to be tough to decide who I like there...but I digress.

Here is the complete count graph of all Topps sets from 1955 to 2018.  It's a combination of Topps flagship and Topps Update/Rookie & Traded etc. sets.  The blue line is physical cards produced each year.  The orange line is total players depicted on those cards.  There are many years where these two are the same number.

You'll probably have to click on the chart to see it very well since it's so long.

But what you can tell is that while the number of rookie cards fluctuates between seasons, the trend isn't really an incline one way or the other.  Rather, it's just kinda up and down around the 100 count mark (highlighted in yellow).

If you shave the peaks and low valleys, you can see a general flat-ish trend.  The actual range is something like 60-100 cards, or 100-150 players, and only falls outside of that a couple times over the 63 year span.  When I started this little study, I expected the left end to start around a few dozen and the right side be way up off the chart, but that isn't what happened.

Anyway, other suggestions for different analysis of this data (or any other, really) is welcome in the comments.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Rookie Card Saturation ... Fact Or Fiction?

As I've said many times before, I'm an old-school collector.  I don't really care or prioritize rookie cards in my cardboard pursuits.  When I started in the 80's, the most visible rookie cards were multi-player issues that I put at the end of team sets.  A lot of them were even numbered to show up in the end of sets too.  These days, rookies are the most popular and sought after things that the producers make and market.  It seems like most products are made to promote them, whether the player shown is the new phenom who is playing at the big league level, or the future prospect.  Either way, at least to me, the card market is all about the rookie player.

Sometimes I feel like the hobby is one big propaganda machine geared to force everyone to believe that rookies are the only worthwhile cards to collect.

I have been under the impression that the flagship sets issued in the last several years have been more saturated with rookie cards than ever.  Since the RC logo was developed in 2006, rookie cards have been more visible.  But I still thought that they put more younger players into the most recent sets compared to years past. And that Bowman became the most rookie-centric product of all, so the numbers of Bowman rookies must be huge. 

But is this really true?

I decided to go through and chart out the number of rookie cards issued in the major flaship sets.  Topps, of course was the only manufacturer until 1981, and then Donruss and Fleer joined.  Bowman (a sub-label of Topps) and Upper Deck appeared around 1989.  Then the other companies came and went a couple times and now we're basically left with Topps and Bowman again.  Topps issued Traded or Update sets under various names for most years.  The point of those being to catch up with more new rookies as well as the players that changed teams.  The Fleer name appeared under Fleer Tradition in the late 90's as well, and also issued some update sets.

So let's look at the numbers.  I went through the Trading Card Database and looked at the section on each set lableled Rookies.  Lucky for me, they already did most of the leg work.  Each Rookie list has all the cards issued for that set that qualify as rookie cards.  And they post a count above each list.  Now, any variations would add to that count, so I had to be on the lookout for those (I may have missed a few).  It also includes manager rookies, but they aren't in such significant numbers to make the counts much different.

I'm going to show these in reverse order, starting with the most recent years.  As you can see, the Topps numbers have been the largest for the last decade plus, especially in the Update set.  The biggest spike is 2015, with Topps issuing 179 rookie cards (with 192 different players depicted).  The little black numbers are the total player counts which take into account multi-player cards in Update.
Bowman, on the other hand, only puts about 30 rookie cards in it's flagship set, which is smaller than Topps.  I checked to see if Chrome or Draft Picks & Prospects had way more, but they really didn't.  You can see in 2012 that the counts for those two only nearly matched (not surpassing) flagship Topps.   The one glitch in this chart is that the database had no RC's designated for Donruss products from 2015-2017.  I'm not sure if that really means there aren't any, or they just didn't get listed on the site.

The graph shows it better.  except for spikes in 2006 by UD, and 2015 by Topps Update, the numbers have been fairly consistent.  No steady increase from left to right like I figured.

I suppose there is some effect from the number and quality of the actual rookie classes from year to year, but I don't know what the trends would be.  I'll just stick with counting cards.

OK, so lets look at the previous decades.  More companies and more cards, right?

So there are some differences.  Topps averaged in the 60's for the recent years, and now they drop to the 30's or 40's except for a few bigger numbers early.  The "Total Players" line is again, the total number of players depicted on the counted cards in Update.  From 1992 til 2001, there were a lot of 2-, 3-, and 4-player rookie cards put into those Update or Traded sets.  This makes a difference especially when you look at 1994 for example.  Topps created 66 cards with rookies on them, but there were 109 players on those 66 cards.

The most glaring part of this chart (not only because I highlighted the overall high - and low - numbers in yellow) is the Bowman numbers.  Peaking at an overall high of 202 in '93, Bowman's numbers blew up after their first year, and then cooled a bit until 2002.  There is your evidence that Bowman is the rookie-centric product, though I though it continued until now.  For some reason, it stopped dead after 2005.  Bowman went from 162 RC's to a stunning 10.  That may be because of the RC logo regulations, I'm not sure.

Click on the chart to see it full size.  Rookie saturation reached its highest levels in the early 1990's.  And except for the spikes in 2002-05, they haven't reached the 140 mark for a single set since.  Even if I were to combine the Topps and Update numbers together, they still wouldn't rival the Bowman numbers of the 90's.  Topps & Update would just about match the Bowman figures for the early 2000's.

So it had to start in the late 80's right?  None of the vintage sets before that probably had nearly that many rookies, did they?

Au contraire!

I went back to 1955 - mostly because it was a nice even number (and I had initially just done every five years to get a ballpark idea of the counts).  I listed out the counts for multi-player cards that appeared much more often back then in Flagship than they do now.  But there were almost just as many single player cards that were rookies along with the multi's.  So the counts were astonishingly high to me.

Remember I said that no set had hit the 140 mark except for '91-'94 and '02-'05 (plus a few in between)?  Check out the vintage levels!  '64, '65, '69, and '71 all surpass that mark, and several others come close!  The lowest number is 53 cards / 82 players. By just eyeballing it, the average is somewhere around 70 cards or over 100 players!  That means the average is well above most of the 2000's and a lot of the non-Topps sets of any decade!  Take out the Bowman bars on the previous graph, and vintage sets might double up most of the others!

So it is basically true that Topps + Topps Update has been issuing the highest numbers of rookie cards, but not just in the last few years.  It's been doing so since the turn of the century, and the numbers haven't moved much.  And you could even say that those numbers only ticked up a little since Topps started making cards in the first place.

Ironically, the conclusion I draw from this is that most collectors who get frustrated from the over-emphasis of rookie cards and the resulting concepts (like super short prints, mojo-centric products full of rookies, and other pitfalls of modern issues), go back to building vintage sets instead - where there are actually just as many, if not more rookies per capita!