30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Gift That Kept On Giving

Whenever you hear about the benefits of being a teacher, the typical response involves making a difference in students' lives, the summer break, or possibly the healthcare benefits.  But there are four times a year that I'm reminded of another perk: gift cards.

It starts in June when my 8th graders move on to high school and a few show their appreciation with them.  Then at the end of July, there are always a handful of my 5th grade summer school kids who hook it up.  In September, I receive anywhere from 1 to 7 gift cards for my birthday.  But the big haul obviously takes place in December during the holiday season.

My students constantly see me drinking coffee, so a large percentage of the gift cards are for Starbucks.  This leads to me buying more Starbucks.  Which leads to more Starbucks gift cards.  It's a vicious cycle.  I'm not complaining though.  I really can't function without my caffeine boost in the morning.  

Sometimes I hit the jackpot and receive a Target gift card.  It's hands down my favorite place to shop.  Seriously... the store has just about every possible thing you could imagine.

Well everything except for 2017 Topps blasters.

Thanks a lot Aaron Judge!  You single handedly helped boost our hobby's popularity in 2017 and because of that, I don't recall seeing a single Heritage, Bowman, Ginter, Gallery (yeah, I know these were a Walmart exclusive), or Stadium Club blaster in my area in 2017.  And even the handful of flagship and Topps Bunt blasters I saw dried up must faster than normal.

So when I walked through the doors of my favorite store this past Sunday, I wasn't expecting much.  In fact, I almost didn't bother checking the card aisle.  But luckily I did, because I discovered the one thing I really, really wanted:  a 2017 Topps factory set.

I wasn't looking for just any factory set.  I wanted the one with the Derek Jeter relic card and to my surprise there were six or seven of them sitting on the top shelf of their trading card display.

2017 Topps Jeter Reprint Relic #DJ-93

Topps produced five different Jeter reprint relic cards available only at Target in specially marked boxes.  I saw the rookie card relic back in August when I visited my parents, but don't think I've seen one since.  I guess it was my lucky day, because there was only one left.

Normally, I'd never even think about dropping $59.99 for a factory set.  But thanks to my current and former students, I didn't have to.

In addition to the Jeter relic, there was also a pack of 5 rookie image variation cards:

After comparing the two Judges, the card backs seem identical.  But if you look closely under the card number, you'll notice the words "complete set".  The regular card says the series number.

This set turned out to be the gift that kept on giving, because I was quickly reminded that Topps never collates their cards in their factory sets.

So Monday morning,  I woke up and sorted the cards into stacks of hundreds, then tens, and about an hour later, I had a complete Series 1 and 2 baseball card set ready to be put into a binder... one day.

By the way, I didn't walk away with just this set.  I also consolidated the stack of gift cards onto one gift card.  So in addition to the factory set, I walked away with a $100 gift card plus I still had one of the original gift cards still sitting in my wallet. 

So bring it on Topps.  If I stumble across any of your 2018 Stadium Club or Archives blasters at my local Target... I'll be ready for you.

Okay... it's your turn.

If you could have a gift card (let's say $25), where would you want it from?  What would you buy?

By the way, I also received two Amazon gift cards for Christmas (+ one that I received from a summer school student).  It wasn't easy, but I miraculously found a way to spend all three of them on another Topps factory baseball set.  However, I won't spoil the surprise until I actually have it in my possession.

Until then... happy Wednesday and sayonara!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Our Community is a Great Example

The past year has truly opened my eyes to a lot of things involving gender and cultural equality, politics, social justice, and the fact that we really haven't progressed as far as I once thought in these areas.

Apple Think Different Poster (1990's)

However I have hope that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream will one day come true, because I witnessed first hand that people can hang out, work, and live together in relative harmony.

My Classroom

I was fortunate to grow up in a community filled with people from different ethnic backgrounds.  Was it perfect?  Of course not, but the vast majority accepted each other.  And I've witness people coming together to support each other much more often than the other way around.

I am also blessed to have family members, friends, co-workers, and students that span almost every ethnicity imaginable.  This experience has helped me have a deeper appreciation for other cultures.

This includes our amazing sports card blogging community.  We come from all over the world to write and read about a common interest.  On a daily basis we're able to read blog posts recapping generous care packages.  We can read comments offering condolences for the loss of loved ones or congratulations on new additions to families.

Over the past eight years, I've published over 1,600 posts and I can't remember a single offensive comment left on my blog, nor do I remember reading any racist comments on the blogs I'm subscribed to.

The beautiful thing is we find a way to keep things positive among us, even though we don't always agree.  We might argue over who should and shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame.  Our favorite sports teams might battle each other.  Heck we might even talk a little smack.  We collect different things and it's safe to say that there aren't two collections out there that are exactly alike.  But at the end of the day, we accept and respect each others' differences.

Now don't get me wrong.  I realize that our cardboard community is only a small sample size in regards to our country or planet.  But it's a start in the right direction.

Happy Birthday Martin Luther King Jr.!  Happy Monday and sayonara!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Embracing My Heritage

I've made my fair share of mistakes in life.  I mean, who hasn't?  But in hindsight, there aren't a lot of life-altering regrets.  Sure... I could nitpick and say I regret buying a bunch of Mike Greenwell rookie cards or tell you about how I regret not studying harder in middle school.  But honestly... those are just things I have accepted as part of life.  We live and learn.

One thing I would probably change is embracing my Japanese heritage much earlier in life.  Hopefully this doesn't offend anyone, but my family called me a "banana" for years because I was yellow on the outside and white on the inside.  I didn't start going out of my way to learn about the Japanese culture until my 30's.  I'm really glad I did though, because it eventually led to my interest in Japanese trading cards.

Last month, Ryan who runs the blogJapanese Sumo Wrestling Cards and Menko, sent me a flat rate box for the holidays.  Inside was this HUGE addition to my Japanese PC:

I didn't have to be in touch with my Japanese heritage to know who is featured on this beautiful vintage baseball card.  That's Sadaharu Oh!  He's one of the greatest Japanese baseball players of all-time and is best known for hitting 868 home runs.

Of course, I wanted to know more about this card, so I searched Google images and eventually found a post written by The Commish which informed me that this card is a 1973 Menko.

Ryan included this really cool, vintage sumo card album:



Inside of the album were these four trading cards:

Just like the Oh, I had no idea what these were.  However last year, I purchased the greatest, most informative book on Japanese sumo wrestling cards around:

His book helped me identify the four sumo cards.  Here's the excerpt from the book:

Looks like Topps wasn't the only card company to produce minis in 1975.  As you can see, Ryan includes a checklist and an informative writeup that discusses the history behind the set.  This book is truly amazing.  There are hundreds of sets listed and thousands of color photos.  If you are interested in purchasing a copy, click here.  I promise you won't be disappointed.

One vintage Japanese card I wasn't able to identify was this:

I'm pretty sure it's a Menko, but I don't recognize the wrestler.  I also assume that he's not a sumo wrestler, which is why I didn't bother to look for this card in Ryan's book.  Any ideas?  Anyone?

If the vintage, Japanese cards weren't enough... he also sent me a nice stack of packs.  Some were unopened.  Others were packs he had opened and reviewed on his blog and at A Pack to Be Named Later.

Here's a rundown of the opened packs:

2017 BBM Infinity

1997 Bandai K-1 Round One

2016 BBM Masterpiece

1998 Bandai WCW/NWO

1997 BBM Sparkling Fighters

Last year, Ryan moved to Germany and has already started to familiarize himself with their trading cards.  Here's a pack of 2017 Topps Star Wars Rogue One (Germany Edition) cards:

Anyone who truly knows me, knows that I love anything Star Wars related... so these are really cool additions to the collection.

Before I wrap things up with the remaining German trading cards, I wanted to show off these delicious treats he included in the box:

These aren't you everyday, run-of-the-mill chocolate covered cookies.  I was blown away by the quality of chocolate used.  I'm kind of a chocolate snob and this was some of the creamiest chocolate I've eaten in awhile.

Okay.  Now for the grand finale.  Last August, showed off his Neil Armstrong rookie card from the 1967 Heinerle set.  I was super excited to see that he donated a few duplicates to my collection:

One card really stood out:

1967 Henerle #110

I'm sure a lot of you saw Billy's favorite non-sports cards last week.  One of these days, I am going to borrow his idea and make my own list.  When I do, this card will definitely be featured.  Here's a closer look:

If you're not familiar with this famous photo, it was taken on August 23rd, 1966 from the Lunar Orbiter and depicts the first photo of Earth from the moon's orbit.  Is that a beautiful sight or what?

Thank you Ryan for the delicious treats and awesome trading cards!  I guess I need to start tracking down some Yuta and Lairds for your collection.

Happy Sunday and sayonara!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Set Building Inspiration

Manufactured patches.  Collectors seem to either love them or leave them.  Although I can't remember paying a premium for one, I've slowly grown to appreciate them over the years.

Back in 2014, I wrote about my favorite set of manufactured patches which features replica rookie cards.  Wait.  That's right, I did have to pay a premium for the two cards that wrapped up that set.

Anyways, today I wanted to show off some cards from another great looking manufactured patch set.  Back in 2016, I picked up this Catfish Hunter off of COMC for $1.25:

2012 Topps Retired Number Patch #RN-CH

One of the highest honors in baseball is to have a franchise retire a player's number.  To put things in perspective... there have been thirty-six Philadelphia/Kansas City/Oakland Athletics players enshrined in Cooperstown, but the franchise has only retired six numbers and one of them is Jackie Robinson's 42.

Catfish Hunter's #27 was the first number to be retired in franchise history.  The A's retired it on June 9th, 1991.

The dark green borders help the bright yellow swatch pop off of the card.  I thought it was cool that Topps went out of their way to find a photograph of Hunter wearing one of those bright yellow road jerseys.  Although they could have went a step further and found an early 70's photo where the A's used white numbers on their road jerseys.  Oh well... beggars can't be choosers.

Sadly... this card was buried among all of the other Oakland A's cards I've accumulated the past two years... until I recently opened up a Christmas card from Daniel over at It's Like Having My Own Card Shop and saw these two cards:

2012 Topps Retired Number Patch #RN-RH

2012 Topps Retired Number Patch #RN-RJ

After putting these three cards together, I wondered how many other Athletics Topps produced for this set and discovered the only card I'm missing is the Series 1 card of Reggie Jackson that features a gray swatch with a green #9.  I figured I might as well check out how many Padres made the checklist.  There are two: Tony Gwynn and Dave Winfield.

2012 Topps Retired Number Patch #RN-DW

To my surprise... I own the Winfield, but not the Gwynn.  I'll periodically look for both Mr. October and Mr. Padre on COMC and eBay.  However I don't think I'm ready to pay a premium for either.  And if I really wanted to go crazy, I could also chase down the Rod Carew, Frank Thomas, Jackie Robinson, and the two Montreal Expos also included in the set.  But I'll save that for a future endeavor.

Getting back to Daniel's Christmas card... he also sent me the following inserts and parallels:

Oh how I miss the Money Ball Era guys.  I've been meaning to create a special section in my collection for these guys, but I just haven't found the time.

Plus he threw in a few new era Oakland Athletics who are no longer around, but are still admired.  And finally a quartet of shiny refractors:

I realize that Topps has flooded our hobby with refractors spanning every possible shade on the color palette, but I'm not gonna lie... they're still my favorite parallels of all-time.

Thank you for all of these awesome cards Daniel!  You've inspired me to build another pair of team sets.  I hope you and your family had a safe holiday season.  Here's to a great 2018!  I'll definitely hit you back with some Diamondbacks for your collection.

Happy Saturday and sayonara!