Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Once In A Lifetime Opportunity

When it comes to purchasing new cards for my collection, I refuse to discriminate.  I'll buy them online over at eBay, COMC, and at a handful of online card shops.  Plus I  purchase cards in person at the flea market, at the local wholesaler, and every now and then at card shows.

So when I first read Tony's Day #7 Challenge, which is to write about a card you bought in person, I figured it was going to be pretty simple.  Then I realized that I'm constantly writing about my flea market finds, card show hauls, and trips to the wholesaler, so that stuff has already been covered.

I decided to head over to my website, flip through my collection, and see if anything jumped out at me.  That's when I found this:

Two years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Masanori Murakami, the first Japanese born MLB player, during a book tour across the country.  Thanks to Brady over at St. Louis Cardinals Cardboard, I was able to participate in a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the book tour.  Some of the perks included autographed copies of Robert Fitt's book, "Mashi", along with a signed baseball and a few other items.

After I got my items signed, I decided to stick around to see if I could ask Mr. Fitts and Mr. Murakami some questions.  While waiting, I noticed that Mr. Murakami was signing his name in kanji at the request of some fans.

I hopped back in line and purchased an extra Turkey Red cabinet card, which Mr. Murakami happily signed in kanji.

Afterwards both gentlemen were kind enough to take a photo with me capturing the moment when I got to hang out with the player who paved the way for guys like Hideo Nomo, Ichiro Suzuki, and Hideki Matsui.

Happy Tuesday and sayonara!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Not-So-New New Card

I have a few Target gift cards burning a hole in my wallet and have been trying to find a 2017 Gypsy Queen blaster box to no avail.  There's always at least one box of 2017 Topps Series One, but it's not really my cup of tea.

Anyways... since I haven't opened any 2017 baseball products, I haven't been able to complete Tony's Day #1 Challenge, which is to write about a card from the current year with a photo you like.

My solution?  Cheat.

Last Thursday, I picked up a team bag filled with 2017 Rediscover Topps buybacks and found this card:

1993 Topps #465

I realize that it's technically a twenty-four year old piece of cardboard.  However since it was included in packs of 2017 Topps, I figured it was fair game.

Anyways... this photo is fantastic for a few reasons:

#1:  It's a great action shot with Fernandez looking to turn two.
#2:  Fernandez has all of his limbs and is wearing flip-up glasses.
#3:  I looks like the MLB Home Run King is making a guest appearance.

I also like this card because it features him with the San Diego Padres.  Most of my Fernandez cards show him with Toronto.

By the way... did you know that he spent a season in Japan playing for the Seibu Lions?

I'm just threw that into this post, so I can show off some cool stuff I saw at the 2017 Nikkei Matsuri, which is a festival/bazaar that takes place in San Jose's Japantown each year.

My entire life, I've been fascinated by bonsai trees.  I have owned a few over the years, but I always seem to kill them.  There were a bunch on display today.  Here are two of my favorites:

My friend's mom and sister are part of a Japanese doll making club and three of their dolls were on display as well:

Being a forty-four year old guy, I'm normally not into dolls, but I've got to admit the detail on these are truly amazing.

Well that's it for today.  I'm still in the process of building care packages.  Should have them shipped out on Wednesday or Thursday.  I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.

Happy Sunday and sayonara!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Card Shop Employee Discount

When it comes to purchasing sports cards, I take pride on being a patient collector who tries to spend his hard earned money wisely.  Now I realize that some people see purchasing sports cards and spending money wisely as contradictions.  But I'd like to think that most of the cards I've picked up these past few years have been decent bargains that have held their value.

Unfortunately the same can't be said for decisions I made during the Junk Wax Era.  Today's post is my Day 6 submission to Tony's 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge: A card you spent more than $10 to get.

Back in the early 90's, I worked at a baseball card shop.  The owner was kind of a scumbag who didn't always pay us on time.  But every now and then, he'd give me a good deal on a card I really wanted.

One day, he came in to restock the singles and brought in a bunch of 1988 Score Rookie and Traded singles.  At the time, this set was perceived to be very rare which made them very popular.  

One of the hottest cards in the set was this card:

1988 Score Rookie and Traded #80T

I purchased this card at the peak of Mark Grace's popularity and probably paid over $20 for this card (which included my employee discount).  To put things into perspective, back then I made less than $5/hr.

Today you can purchase a PSA 10 graded copy of this card for less than that.  Since I returned to the hobby in 2008, I've seen raw copies like mine in dollar bins at card shows.  However, it wouldn't surprise me if collectors have found this card sitting in dime or quarter boxes.

Even though I spent way too much money on this card, I've have held onto it, because it's still a cool card.  Grace had a solid sixteen season career which easily qualifies him for Baseball's Hall of Very Good.  Plus it features a great, well cropped action shot of him taking a swing at Wrigley Field.  Check out those stirrups!

Well that's it for today.  I've started working on a bunch of care packages that will be shipped out sometime next week.  I'll hopefully have a list of packages for you in my Sunday post.

Happy Friday and sayonara!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Flea Market Finds #119: Another Shoebox and Vintage Star Wars

Good things often come in small packages.  That's exactly what the Branham High School Flea Market is.

There are three major flea markets that I attend and Branham is by far the smallest.  However when it comes to finding reasonably priced collectibles, it's my favorite one to browse.  Last weekend there were five vendors with trading cards.  I made purchases from three of them.

Purchase #1: Water Damaged Shoebox $5

The first vendor's setup focused on action figures, lunch pails, and other children's collectibles.  Sitting off to the side was this water damaged shoebox filled with 80's and 90's baseball cards.  75% of them are 1982 Donruss.

Let's get this out of the way.  There weren't any Ripken rookies to be had.  

There were also a handful of other cool rookie cards:

Plus a slew of stars for my 80's binder:

And some errors and corrected versions from this set:

The vendor wanted $10.  I offered him $5 and he accepted.  If anyone out there is building this set, there's a good chance that I can help you out.

Purchase #2:  Just the Hits $10

Box Bottom Guy was back.  He didn't really have anything new in terms of singles... but he told me he'd accept any reasonable offer.

I was excited to find one of Verlander's first trading cards and one of those nickname autographs.  But my favorite card is the 2001 Topps American Pie Woodstock card of Maury Wills.  Topps did a great job with this set's design.

I felt $10 was a fair offer for the five hits... and he agreed.

He also threw in a few things I found from his dollar bin:

80's Baseball Calendars

1985 Topps Super #7

2003 Donruss Classics Timeless Tributes #128

This purchase was proof that if you take care of a valued vendor, they'll take care of you.

Purchase #3:  Vintage Star Wars/Star Trek Stickers  $10

I met a woman who was selling off her son's Star Wars collection.  There were a lot of cool items, but I settled on these $2 packs of stickers.  I grabbed all eleven and she gave them to me for $10.

Most of the stickers were in really nice condition... and I was really surprised at how popular the Star Trek stickers are.  But my favorites were the Empire Strikes Back letters:

That wraps up my Branham Flea Market Finds.  I'm on Spring Break this week, so tomorrow I get to walk around the Capitol Flea Market, which is about five times bigger... but not necessarily five times better.

Happy Wednesday and sayonara!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Obsession w/ Ink

A while back, one of my coworkers showed off her back, which was completely covered in tattoos.  The artwork was pretty amazing and badass.  I've considered getting one, but never settled on anything that I'd want to see for the rest of my life.  I mean it's so permanent... well kind of.

For now... I'll just stick to collecting another type of ink:  autographed sports cards.

My obsession started back in the mid 90's with products like Signature Rookies and Be A Player that offered a guaranteed autograph per pack.  Eventually I started chasing the tougher to pull autographs like Stadium Club Co-Signers and Fleer Autographics.

Two decades later, I'm much more selective in the autographs I choose to add to my collection.  For the most part, I no longer add sticker autographs unless the price is right or there's no other option.  I'm also pretty picky about card designs and have no problem waiting until the card falls into my price range.

Today I'm taking on the fifth installment of Tony's 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge, which happens to be showing off a certified autographed card of one of my favorite players.  And since autographs are my favorite thing to collect, I figured I'd show off five certified autographs from five of my favorite players.

Without further adieu...

#1:  Tony Gwynn

2007 UD Masterpieces Stroke of Genius #GW

Framed and signed on faux canvas, this autograph set is truly a thing of beauty.  Adding Tony in his late 80's brown and orange uniform makes this one of my favorite autographed cards in my collection.

#2:  Rickey Henderson

2016 Topps Strata Signature Patch #SSP-RH

I realize that there are some collectors are traditionalists who believe baseball cards should be made only out of cardboard.  If they ever held one of these, they might change their minds.  There's a reason, I named it my favorite card of 2016.

#3:  Greg Maddux

2016 Topps Tribute Rightful Recognition #NOWGM

For years, Greg Maddux autographs were out of my price range.  His printing plates were too.  Thanks to Topps, there are plenty of both floating around our hobby... which allowed me to pick up this signed printing plate at a very affordable price.

#4:  Steve Carlton

1999 Century Legends Epic Signatures #SC

There are so many beautiful autographed card designs out there today, I'd be hard pressed to choose one.  But the 1999 Century Legends Epic Signatures would definitely be in the discussion

#5:  Ichiro Suzuki

1993 BBM #239

My latest addiction is picking up autographed rookie cards.  This card represents a few things.  It's my first and only autograph of Ichiro.  It features one of Ichiro's official Japanese rookie cards.  And it represents my most pricey single card purchase and is easily one of my favorite signed rookie cards.

Well there you have it.  Five of my favorite certified autograph cards signed by five of my favorite baseball players.

Some of you may have noticed that one of my favorite players was left off the list.  That's because I couldn't figure out which of the following cards is my favorite:

2007 SP Authentic By The Letters #125

Now that I have revealed my obsession with collecting ink... how about you?

Are you into tattoos, autographed cards, or both?

And if you haven't joined in on Tony's 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge...

What's your favorite autographed card of your favorite player?

I hope all of you enjoyed a safe holiday weekend.  Happy Monday and sayonara!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Giddiness

The Oakland A's and San Diego Padres have each dropped three in a row.  And the San Jose Sharks lost on Friday night.

Despite the recent struggles of three of my favorite sports teams, this weekend has been pretty rock solid.  Yesterday, I went to the flea market, found some vendors with cards, and added a few things to my collection which I'll post later in the week.

And this morning, before heading out to Easter brunch, I spent over an hour opening up two care packages and sorting cards.  It made me feel as giddy as a little kid hunting for Easter eggs.

Here's what I discovered...

Package #1: ARPSmith's Sportscard Obsession

Adam sent me a small flat rate box stuffed with goodies.  There were nine cards I needed for my 1986 Donruss set:

I'm down to needing only 34 more cards... and the Jerry Koosman was the final Diamond King I needed.

There was also a partial 1988 Mother's Cookies A's set, which featured a ton of star power:

Seeing the likes of the Bash Brothers, Stew, Eck, and the Cobra reminded me just how loaded those late 80's Athletics rosters were.

Speaking of the Bash Brothers, Adam loaded me up with inserts and oddballs of both guys:

Plus he included a bunch of other A's base cards, inserts, parallels, rookie cards, and oddballs for the collection.

I'll start building a nice San Francisco Giants care package for you... plus I should be able to return the favor and help you with some of those Hometown Heroes insert sets you're building.  Stay tuned Adam.

Package #2:  Nomo's Sushi Platter

A few weeks ago, Michael hit me up on Twitter (@SpiegelMichael) about the possibility of working out a trade.  I explained that I'd be down for a blind trade if he was willing to wait a few weeks until my Spring Break.

He was... and last week I received his trade package that included a little bit of everything... starting with two new Hideo Nomos for my binder:

He also sent me a bunch of "hits" for my Japanese baseball player collection:

In addition to the "hits", he also brightened up my day with some refractor "shine":

Next up are some Oakland Athletics' "hits":

And a pair of IP or TTM autographs:

And rounding things out were a handful of Steve Carlton and Tony Gwynn inserts:

Thank you Michael and Adam for these generous packages.  I had a blast sifting through the cards, putting them into my binders, and scanning them for my website.  My goal is to have your packages in the mail by the end of the week.

Happy Easter and sayonara!