Monday, 30 July 2012

Old Ball Players...

Aside from the Olympics (which has this week interrupted the baseball season as far as my armchair sporting activities go),  I have been steadily working my way through the excellent Ken Burns documentary on history of baseball. Whilst I have owned the series on since it first landed on DVD, I have not watched it for a number of years and had forgotten how it did an excellent job at covering the early history of the game. So much so, that it had me trawling through eBay looking for affordable vintage cards featuring the starts for the first half of the 20th Century.

Fortunately, the same UK seller that listed the T206 cards that I posted about last week, also made available a partial set of the 1950 Callahan release. These cards were by B.E.Callahan of Chicago and distributed as a box set at both the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and ball parks nationwide. I was fortunate to pick up 56 cards for just over $16. Not bad when you consider that each card has a book value of at least $2 - $5.

In addition to cards from Grover, Alexander, Lefty Grove, Rogers Hornsby & John McGraw, the partial set included one of my favourite old school ball players; the great Walter Johnson.

Grover Alexander (Cardinals), Walter Johnson (Nationals) & Lefty Grove (Athletics)

Napoleon Lajoie (Naps), John McGraw (Giants) & Rogers Hornsby (Cardinals)

Joe Tinker (Cubs), Carl Hubbell (Giants) & Eddie Collins (Athletics)

This is the last 'new' set that I am likely to feature on the blog this year. I am going to make a conscious effort to try and complete as many of the unfinished sets I have on the go; before commencing any new chases. Consequently, I am not going to purchase cards form any releases that I do not already own. 

Over the coming posts, I will though look to showcase some of the sets in my collection, that I have not shown before. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

1909-11 T206 - Archie Persons & Ray Ryan

I have stated on his blog on more than one occasion, that collecting baseball and basketball cards from the United Kingdom comes with its challenges. There are no local card shops or shows to visit and importing boxes or valuable cards, brings with it expensive shipping, customs and handling fees.

But, being based in a country which has little interest not only in the hobby, but the game of baseball itself, can bring occasionally have its benefits. Every so often an item appears on the UK version of eBay, listed by a local seller which presents an opportunity to avoid some of the above challenges and make a hassle free purchase. When the seller also decides to make the auction open only to collectors based in his home country, then with less competition the possibility of bargain may also be on offer.

To my surprise, a seller listed recently listed some PSA graded T206 cards. Since my decision a few weeks ago to focus some of my attention on baseball, I have found myself revisiting the early history of the game, through the excellent Ken Burns 1994 documentary Baseball. This in turn had me researching the vintage cards that featured players from the early days of the game. Very quickly, this led me to the classic T206 issue. So there was little chance of me passing up on these particular cards when I came across them.

The cards I picked up (graded 3-VG by PSA), feature minor league players from the Southern & Virginia Leagues respectively:

Archie Persons (Montgomery Climbers)

Archie Persons career totalled four years in the Minor Leagues, the first three of which were spent plain for teams in Alabama, Arkanas and Texas. In 1912 he then is recorded as having played for a team (Bassano Boosters), 2,000 miles to the north in Western Canada. Despite a batting average of .378 which topped the Western Canada League that year and earned him a batting title, Persons is not recorded as featuring in semi-pro or pro baseball again.

Ray Ryan (Roanoke Tigers)

The career of Ray Ryan spanned over 60 years in minor leave baseball, during which time he featured as a player, manager, scout GM and owner. His playing days were spent as a catcher primarily in Virginia, but in 1910 was signed by the Chicago White Sox and attended Spring Training. It is quite possible he would have found himself catching for pitching legends such as Ed Walsh & Doc White. He did not feature for the White Sox and sixteen games into the season returned to the minor leagues. As far as I can gather, it was the closest he came to playing in the major leagues.

I admit I love reading about the careers of old ball-players that feature on baseball cards and there is little doubt that over time I will add some more from the T206 and other vintage issues to my collection.

My biggest struggle with these cards, are that they are slabbed. These are my first T206 cards and I am not able to physically have them in hand (albeit briefly before I put them in a top-loader!) which takes away some of the pleasure of collecting in my mind. Whilst removing them from the PSA holder will reduce their value, I have not bought them to sell them. But before I do, I need to make a decision in how I am going to collect cards from this set. Do I purchase graded or ungraded cards? Some further thought is required.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Kevin Love and random additions

Regular readers of this blog, will by now have come to realise that I am not someone who collects a particular player or team. My preference has always been to focus on sets, which allows me to own cards from a wide cross-section of players, whilst avoiding having cards in my collection that I do not find aesthetically pleasing. This often results in me building up a small collection of cards of a particular player, more by accident than design.

The arrival today of the 2011-12 Panini Modern Marks card of Kevin Love is a case in point. This card was obtained solely as part of my attempt to own all ten cards in this insert set. Whilst an admirer of his steadily improving game; it is extremely unlikely that I would have purchased this card of Kevin Love, if it was not part of an a set chase. But its appearance had me flicking through my collection to remind myself of the other autograph cards of his that I currently own.

First up was a 2008-09 SP Authentic RC card, that I picked when putting together this at the time of its release. It was accompanied by a 2008-09 Radiance Writing Samples dual-autograph featuring fellow class of 2008 member, Russell Westbrook. When I consider that it would probably cost me four times as much to obtain these cards today, then adding seemingly 'random' players cards to my collection can  suddenly become an even more rewarding experience!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Box Break - 1998-99 Finest Series I

Earlier this week, I was rather surprised to see a few 1990s basketball boxes up for sale on eBay from a UK seller. I decided to grab hold of the 1998-99 Finest Basketball Series I box on offer and transport myself back in time 14 years, to a time when I was ripped open over half a dozen boxes of this particular release.  

I seem to have ended up with most of the rookie cards from this set in my personal collection, but little else. So this break is aimed to go some way towards redressing matters for this particular issue and set me in the right direction to complete the set.

Base & Hardwood Honors

The box provided 122 of the 125 base cards, with 11 doubles. So no complaints about the collation from the box. I also pulled out a Hardwood Honors (1:33) of Nick Anderson. I always felt that Anderson should have got more love doing his playing days. He provided strong support to Shaq & Penny, but will always be remembered for poor free throw shooting. 


I struck out on the two refractors (1:12), landing common cards of journeymen Shandon Anderson & Isaac Austin. Although featured in a Clippers unifier, Austin played the 98-99 season with the Magic, having signed with them as a free agent at the start of the season.

Mystery Finest & No Protector Refractor
Finally the highlights of the box were a No Protector Refractor (1:24) of Derek Fisher and a Double-Sided Mystery Finest (1:33) card featuring Tim Duncan & Keith Van Horn.

If anyone else reading the blog collects, this set give me a shout...I have a number of spare RCs, that I will happily trade. 

Thursday, 12 July 2012

An Allen & Ginter free-zone

Whilst most of the baseball card brethren have turned their attention to the newly released 2012 Allen & Ginter, my gaze is remains firmly with Gypsy Queen. It is not that I would not like to join in the fun; but without a local card shop, Walmart or Kmart within 3,000 miles, I am forced to wait on the mail man to do his thing, before seeing if Kate Upton is going to find her way into my life!

Fortunately, after a few quiet days on the mail front, a couple of packages arrived with some additions to what is effectively the inaugural set in my baseball card collection. Up first are three autograph cards from the pitching fraternity. Cards featuring Brett Anderson, Brad Peacock and Travis Wood are unlikely to set the world on fire, as all three are in reality a long way from becoming All-Stars. Anderson (career stats of 21-23 and 3.66 ERA), is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery and has not been seen on the mound in over a year and Peacock (career stats of 2-0 and 0.75 ERA) is currently playing AAA ball with the Sacramento River Cats.

Consequently, Wood is the only one of the three active in the major leagues. As things stand he has a 4-3 record, with an 3.05 ERA from 10 starts this year. He is next up on 17 July against the Marlins, so not having seen him pitch him before, I will see endeavour to see if the $3 I spent on his card is a worthy investment! 

Alongside the autograph cards, was a lot of 19 (Straight Cut & Gypsy Queen back) minis from a fellow Brit. The highlights from the lot are pictured above. Completing these two parallel sets feel like a pretty daunting task...but I'll probably give it a go. Well ,at least until I get sidetracked by Allen & Ginter mini cards!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

2007-08 Exquisite Finalists - Lebron James & Tony Parker

In the mail today, is easily the most expensive single card that I have purchased since my return to the hobby. But when you consider it is features an on-card autograph of Lebron James and is from Exquisite release that is hardy surprising!

When 2007-08 Exquisite was first released in mid-2008, I decided that I would attempt to collect a complete insert set from the release and settled upon the 20-card Finalists Dual Autograph set. Each card in the set was serial numbered to 25 and featured autographs of two stars/legends who had played in the NBA Finals during their career. Over the following twelve months, I managed to get pick up 14 cards as they appeared on eBay. The addition of the Lebron James & Tony Parker, leaves me needing five more to complete the set.

The short print run and increase in prices for Exquisite cards, means that completing the set is probably going to take a while. I refuse to pay the extortionate prices that some sellers are demanding and happy to 'play the long game' with this particular chase. The cards will turn up eventually.

The arrival of this card, does though give me a good excuse to showcase the other 14 cards that I have in my collection!

Monday, 2 July 2012

2012 Gypsy Queen: Box Break

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that last week, I added the word 'baseball' to the logo at the top of this blog. With the NBA close season upon us, I have found myself turning to 'The Boys of Summer' and have recently decided to add some baseball cards to my collection. Having done a little research, I decided that the 2012 Gypsy Queen release fitted the bill and I ordered a box to break open. Below are the results.

Mariano Rivera (Yankees)

The 24 pack box delivered 60% (180 cards) of the 300 card base set, with an additional five out of a possible 50 short printed versions, with the most valuable being of Mariners Pitcher, Ichiro. When you consider the SP cards have a 1:6, I can have no complaints with the number I received. I have read a few comments from collectors expressing disquiet over the grey border from this release. Personally, I think it works sand along with excellent design on the back, it makes for a great looking base set.

Mini Sepia - Asdrubal Cabrera (Indians), James McDonald (Pirates)
Mini Black - Ken Griffey Jr (Mariners), Alex Rodriguez (Yankees) 

Of the 34 mini cards received, two were Sepia parallel versions (serial #'d to 99) of Adrubal Cabrera and James McDonald, whereas Ken Griffey & Alex Rodriguez turned up in the Black version. With only 20 of the 350 card base mini set, pulled from the box, completing the base set is going to be quite an undertaking, before even starting on the short prints and various parallel versions that are available to set collectors!

Danny Espinosa (Nationals) & Randall Delgado (Braves)

The two autograph cards I pulled were 'common' ones of Nationals Second Baseman, Danny Espinosa and Braves Pitcher, Randall Delgado. I have got to admit, I am a sucker for strong on-card autograph sets and these certainly fit the bill. I have already purchased a couple more on eBay and there is little doubt I will chase this 40-card set.  

Victor Martinez (Tigers) & Kevin Youskilis (Red Sox)

Whilst I am a fan of the autograph cards, I am less enamoured by the relic ones. But, that has more to do with my general dislike for jersey / memorabilia cards in general, than these in particular. So it is likely that I will let these particular be traded at some pint in the future.  

Printing Plate
Mike Trout (Angels)

Last, but by no means least is a 1 of 1 printing plate of a rising star Mike Trout. Nine home runs, 33 RBI, a very impressive .339 batting average, culminating in a trip to the 83rd All-Star game is a pretty good way to start your rookie season! So as you can imagine to see this arrive in my first every baseball box break was pleasing to say the very least!!!!

I have started to list my wants from this release here and would love to here from other collectors who have cards from this release for sale.