Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Heartbreaking Cards of Staubering Blueness: a Trade Post

Matt, as many of you know, gave us the most powerful blog title on Earth: Heartbreaking Cards of Staggering Genius. The first time I saw it I thought as I clicked the link, “Okay – this is going to be heavy. I must gird my reading loins.” Luckily it turned out to be just another awesome card blog. Phew.

Matt sent me a substantial selection of Vida Blue and Rusty Staub, two PC's of mine most often addressed by vintage card guys like Matt.

Here's Vida's sunset card. The photo is simple and tranquil. This card makes me feel good.

And this fairly recent logoless autographed number showing a much younger and more serious Blue. I like how his D looks like a V and vice-versa. Dive Blue. Anyway, gorgeous autograph card.

Wow - instant rainbow. I haven't done my research, but I assume subset-happy Topps made this card in a lot more crazy colorways and at far more limited numbers. No mind - what a great start!

Matt also included a trio of Rusty Staub base cards - I think I'm pretty close to having them all now.

Thanks for the amazing trade package, Matt! You better believe I've been keeping up with the podcast (in between episodes of Doug Loves Movies, of course)! You guys have a ton of cardboard knowledge. Looking forward to more...

And if you ever want to trade Beach Boys bootlegs, I'm open to that, too!

Wallet Card Wednesday: Sloppy Sammitch Edition

I spurn others’ flagrant posting of food pics on social media, but there are some things we have down here on the Third Coast that merit a little showing off. Like this:

This here is what we call a “ten-napkin” poboy. Roast beef, dressed (that’s mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, and pickles or “all the way” to most people), and sopping wet with juices and debris (pronounced “day-brie” which is really just all the little bits of fat and awesome that fall off the roast beef). There are plenty of other types of poboy including hot sausage, catfish, softshell crab, shrimp, oyster, and the ever-popular Peacemaker (that would be shrimp and oyster), but none of these are quite so sloppy and visceral an eating experience as a properly done roast beef.

The tater tots were a personal preference.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wallet Card Wednesday: Bellybutton Edition

Have you ever gone to a restaurant, ordered your food, and immediately after that a half dozen belly dancers stroll in? It’s too late to back out at this point, friend. You are going to see belly dancing.

And not just a little - a LOT of belly dancing. The dancers came in every size and shape, and there were even several costume changes. The restaurant was small and there were mirrors everywhere, so even if you tried to avert your gaze for whatever reason (like not making it obvious to your wife that you hate looking at shapely 23-year-olds with perfect torsos gyrate for your entertainment) you were still pretty much screwed. We just had to embrace that fact that we were going to stare at belly buttons today. Lady ones.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day!

Here's a pair of rookie cards for your Father's Day enjoyment. Father-son duos don't get much better than this.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The 20-Year Checklist: I Finally Face My Griffey Collecting Demons

Back in the early 90’s my Mom used to buy me issues of Mad Magazine from the grocery. As I got older that evolved into Beckett. Then one day in 1996, Beckett gave us something new:

This is my copy of Beckett Tribute Issue 15: Ken Griffey, Jr. from 1996. It is at once my favorite and most despised periodical ever produced - favorite because it’s all about Griffey; despised because it made me realize that my dream of owning one of every Griffey card produced was probably never going to happen.

The problem? Towards the back of the magazine is a four-page checklist and price guide revealing every Griffey produced through early 1996 and its inflated pre-crash value. To me this list was the big selling point - my first Griffey database, the original Beast; and I began faithfully filling in boxes the very hour I brought it home.

The excitement didn’t last, though. I realized just how few cards I actually had, and how expensive the ones I still needed were. Griffey/Mantle dual auto? ’93 Finest Refractor? These were thousand-dollar cards, and there were dozens more with values in the hundreds. On top of that these prices had nowhere to go but up, right?

Fnuh? Oh, wait. I have one of those.
Yeesh - and that's without a Mantle autograph.

It was time to pursue other interests, and that was it for me and baseball cards. Before this magazine was published I was busting several packs a week and buying base cards from card shops at three bucks a pop. After the magazine, I bought less than dozen packs over the next 15 years, and that was just to see what the cards looked like. I wouldn’t do any serious collecting again until late 2012.

The worst part was that this realization cost me $4.95 ($6.75 in Canada).

Then, this past Monday, 19 years after first taking it home from the Sav-a-Center and letting it crush my collecting dreams, I dug that old magazine out and perused the same checklist I’d used when I was a kid. I snickered at the pitiful number of checked boxes, then gave the list a quick once-over thinking, “Got it, got it, got it, got it…” Then I realized that the same list that drove me out of the hobby as a kid doesn’t seem quite as daunting as it used to. I already have the priciest cards as well as most of the oddballs and pre-rookies. And I know for a fact that almost none of these prices have held over the years. Dare I say I could finish this thing?

And I did - I said it. And I’m doing it.

I’m setting a goal here and now to complete the 1996 Beckett Tribute Ken Griffey, Jr. checklist by the end of 2016.

It may be tough going for some of the rarer cards, but it’s a childhood dream. And I really do believe it can be done.

I began this project on Monday by cross-referencing the checklist against The Beast and the physical cards in the Griffey binders (I even found a new parallel I didn’t even know was there), all the while picking off some of the cheaper Griffeys with COMC credits. I ticked all the boxes I needed to tick, and I now have a much shorter list of those Griffeys I need to put this thing to bed. For the most part it’s parallels - a lot of Artist’s Proofs, Gold Signatures, and 1st Day Issues. Nothing with Mickey Mantle’s autograph on it, thank goodness.

Here’s what the list looks like now:

God bless you, unbroken columns of little black spots.

We’re only three days into this project, and already it has lent my collecting efforts a refreshing new focus. My Griffey shopping has been evolving over the last several years from random quantity purchases (eBay lots, mostly), to acquiring all of the cheapest Griffeys I didn’t already have (COMC, mostly), to single-card whale-hunting (eBay again). Now that I have most of the whales I want, this list is where I’ll be finding new target cards. No more random deal-spotting for this guy.

I am posting the needed Griffeys in a new want list titled “1996 Beckett Tribute Checklist” under my Official Griffey Wantlist tab. I’ll be keeping up with it religiously as I acquire the necessary cards.

As for the actual checklist, there are 727 total items (I say “items” because there are a number of multi-card sets with only one check box, meaning there are many more than 727 cards on the list). Today, June 19, 2015, I have 570 of the items on the checklist or just over 78%. I still have 157 items to track down over the coming months before the 20 year time limit I’ve imposed on myself is reached. Tick, tock.

When it comes to a specific time limit, I can’t seem to find exactly when this magazine was published (generally speaking, it was early 1996 based on the last items that made it onto the checklist, but I have no specific release date); so I’m taking the benefit of the doubt here and imposing a time limit of December 31st, 2016 at midnight. That gives me 562 days (2016 is a leap year) to acquire 158 Griffeys or roughly one Griffey every 3 ½ days. Cake. Ish.

There remains a little editing to be done, but below is the rough list as it is at the time of this post. I’ve adapted the card names to fit the format of The Beast. I have a little finagling to do regarding the jumbos and multi-card items, but not much. So, without further ado, my target cards for the next 17 1/2 months:

1988 Best San Bernardino Spirit Team Set
1988 Best San Bernardino Spirit Team Set Platinum
1989 Mother’s Cookies Ken Griffey, Jr. Set #1-4
1990 Donruss Super Diamond Kings #6
1991 Classic Game #120 (purple)
1991 Donruss Previews #4
1991 Mariners Country Hearth #28 (w/ Ken, Sr.)
1991 Pepsi Set #1-8
1991 Sunflower Seeds #11
1991 Topps Desert Shield #790
1991 Topps Desert Shield #392 All-Star
1992 Alrak Griffey Golden Moments Set #1-10 (These are those phone card thingies)
1992 Classic/Best Autograph Card #AU1 /3100
1992 Donruss Previews #7
1992 Mother’s Cookies Mariners Team Set #2
1992 Score Samples #1
1992 Sunflower Seeds #14
1992 Topps Gold #50
1992 Triple Play Previews #1
1992 Upper Deck All-Star Fan Fest #24 Gold
1993 Alrak Griffey 24 Taco Time Set #1-6
1993 Alrak Griffey Triple Play #1
1993 Colla Diamond Marks #44
1993 Colla Diamond Marks Art #3
1993 Colla Diamond Marks Prototypes #5
1993 Diamond Marks #44
1993 Diamond Marks Art #3
1993 Diamond Marks Prototypes #5
1993 Finest All-Star Jumbos #110
1993 Mother’s Cookies Mariners Team Set #4
1993 O-Pee-Chee Premier Star Performers #9 Foil
1993 Pinnacle Cooperstown #22 Dufex
1993 Stadium Club #707 1st Day Issue
1993 Topps Full Shots #2
1993 Upper Deck Fifth Anniversary Jumbo #A1
1993 Upper Deck #355 Gold Hologram
1993 Upper Deck #55 Gold Hologram (w/ Buhner & Mitchell)
1993 Upper Deck #525 Checklist Gold Hologram
1993 Upper Deck Iooss Collection #WI13 Jumbo
1994 Bowman’s Best #R40 Refractor
1994 Bowman’s Best #X96 (w/ Johnny Damon) Refractor
1994 Collector’s Choice #117 Gold Signature
1994 Collector’s Choice #317 Checklist Gold Signature
1994 Collector’s Choice #324 Checklist Gold Signature
1994 Collector’s Choice #340 Checklist Gold Signature
1994 Collector’s Choice #634 Up Close & Personal Gold Signature
1994 Donruss Diamond Kings Jumbo #14
1994 Donruss Dominators #A9 Jumbo
1994 Donruss Dominators #B6 Jumbo
1994 Donruss Elite #45
1994 Donruss Long Ball Leaders #5
1994 Extra Bases #168
1994 Extra Bases Game Breakers #14
1994 Finest #232 Jumbo
1994 Finest #232 Refractor
1994 Fleer Golden Moments #4 Jumbo
1994 Mother’s Cookies
1994 O-Pee-Chee All-Star Redemptions #8 Jumbo
1994 O-Pee-Chee All-Star Redemptions #8 Jumbo Foil
1994 Pacific Gold Prisms #2
1994 Pinnacle #100 Artist’s Proof
1994 Post Canadian #10
1994 Score Cycle #TC17
1994 Signature Rookies Flip Cards Signatures #AU2 /1000 (w/ Craig auto)
1994 Signature Rookies Flip Cards Signatures #AU5 /500 (w/ Craig and Ken auto)
1994 Signature Rookies Flip Cards Signatures #AU4 /1000 (w/ Ken, Sr. auto)
1994 Signature Rookies Flip Cards Signatures #AU6 /500 (w/ Ken, Sr and Jr. auto)
1994 SP Holoview #12 Red
1994 SP Previews #WR3
1994 Sportflics FanFest All-Stars #AS7 (w/ Lenny Dykstra)
1994 Stadium Club #85 First Day Issue
1994 Stadium Club #529 Division Leaders First Day Issue
1994 Topps # 400 Spanish
1994 Topps #388 All-Star Spanish (w/ Lenny Dykstra)
1994 Topps #606 Stat Twins Spanish
1994 Topps Superstar Samplers Cello Pack #19
1994 Ultra On-Base Leaders #6
1994 Upper Deck All-Star Jumbos #48 125th Anniversary
1994 Upper Deck All-Star Jumbos Gold #1
1994 Upper Deck All-Star Jumbos Gold 125th Anniversary
1994 Upper Deck All-Star Jumbos Promo #48
1994 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. Checklist Jumbos set #1-4
1994 Upper Deck Next Generation #6 Electric Diamond
1995 Bowman’s Best #R49 Refractors/Diffraction Foil
1995 Collector's Choice #70 Gold Signature
1995 Collector's Choice #88 What's the Call? Gold Signature
1995 Collector’s Choice You Crash the Game #CG8A 7/2 Gold
1995 Collector’s Choice You Crash the Game #CG8B 8/24 Gold
1995 Collector’s Choice You Crash the Game #CG8C 9/15 Gold
1995 Collector's Choice SE #125 Gold Signature
1995 Collector's Choice SE #26 Record Pace Gold Signature
1995 Collector's Choice SE #261 Checklist Gold Signature
1995 Donruss #340 Press Proof
1995 Donruss All-Stars #AL8
1995 Donruss Elite #54
1995 Finest #118 Refractor
1995 Finest Power Kings #PK10
1995 Leaf Limited Lumberjacks #4
1995 Pacific Prisms #126
1995 Pinnacle #128 Artist's Proof
1995 Pinnacle #304 Swingmen Artist's Proof
1995 Pinnacle #447 CL Artist's Proof
1995 Pinnacle #450 CL Artist's Proof (w/ Bagwell, Piazza, Thomas)
1995 Pinnacle #447 CL Museum Collection
1995 Pinnacle Team Pinnacle #TP7 Bonds Side Dufex
1995 Pinnacle Team Pinnacle #TP7 Griffey Side Dufex
1995 Pinnacle White Hot #2
1995 Score #447 Platinum
1995 Score Dream Team #DG7
1995 Score Rules #SR1
1995 Score Rules #SR1 Jumbo
1995 Select #89 Artist's Proof
1995 Select #243 Checklist Artist's Proof
1995 Select #250 Checklist Artist's Proof (w/ Bagwell, Piazza, Thomas)
1995 Select Big Sticks #BS2
1995 SP Championship #185 Diecut
1995 SP Championship Fall Classic #1
1995 SP Championship Fall Classic #1 Diecut
1995 Sportflix #1 Artist's Proofs
1995 Sportflix #168 Checklist Artist's Proof
1995 Sportflix Double Take #9 (w/ Barry Bonds)
1995 Sportflix ProMotion #PM1
1995 Stadium Club #241 1st Day Issue
1995 Stadium Club #521 Extreme Corps 1st Day Issue
1995 Stadium Club Super Skills #11
1995 Stadium Club Virtual Extremists #VRE2
1995 Summit #1 Nth Degree
1995 Summit #174 Bat Speed Nth Degree
1995 Summit #195 Checklist Nth Degree
1995 Summit Big Bang #BB1
1995 UC3 #124 In Depth Artist's Proof
1995 Ultra Hitting Machines #6 Gold Medallion
1995 Ultra Home Run Kings #1 Gold Medallion
1995 Ultra Power Plus #2 Gold Medallion
1995 Upper Deck #100 Electric Diamond Gold
1995 Upper Deck Predictor #R45 RBI Leader
1995 Upper Deck Special Edition #255 Gold
1995 Zenith Z-Team #2
1996 Collector's Choice #310 Gold Signature
1996 Collector's Choice You Make the Play #16 Gold Signature
1996 Donruss Long Ball Leaders #6
1996 Donruss Power Alley #10
1996 Donruss Power Alley #10 Diecut
1996 Donruss Samples #4
1996 Score Big Bats #2
1996 Score Numbers Game #3
1996 Topps Finest #M16 Refractor
1996 Topps Finest #M25 Refractor
1996 Ultra #126 Gold Medallion
1996 Ultra Checklist #4 Gold Medallion
1996 Ultra Diamond Producers #3
1996 Ultra Diamond Producers #3 Gold Medallion
1996 Ultra Home Run Kings #6
1996 Ultra Home Run Kings #6 Gold Medallion
1996 Ultra Power Plus #3
1996 Ultra Power Plus #3 Gold Medallion
1996 Ultra Prime Leather #6 Gold Medallion
1996 Ultra Samples #2

Of course any help would be greatly appreciated and reciprocated. Again, for an updated version of this list, please see the “1996 Beckett Tribute Checklist” posted under my Offical Griffey Wantlist at the top of the blog.

Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wallet Card Wednesday: Cowabunga Edition

Today’s #WalletCard photo comes from a source similar to the last Wallet Card Wednesday post: a New Orleans Zephyrs ballgame. The Z’s have really stepped up their special events this season with celebrities and theme days. While the grown-up kids of the 80’s and 90’s showed up in force to meet Mr. Belding at the last game, now it was the kids’ turn:

The turtles are back, apparently. Fans ran the spectrum from bearded men in their mid-30’s to four-year-old girls in shell backpacks. They even gave away Michelangelo masks to all the kids (and shameless adult collectors).

As that picture was taken, every childhood fantasy I had of April O’Neil and me in a sewer was playing out in my mind. It’s the yellow jumpsuit. It’s got to be.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Compromise or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Print Lines

This has been the year of the Holy Grail here at The Junior Junkie. While for the last few years my focus has been to acquire Griffeys from the bottom up (in terms of price/rarity), in the last few months I’ve been going after top Griffeys, picking off one high-end card after another. I completed my Tiffany rookie rainbow, I landed the beloved ’94 Upper Deck Griffey/Mantle dual auto, and I received an amazingly cool signed 18”x25” 25th Anniversary promo from Upper Deck’s Random Act of Kindness program.

These kinds of cards come with a price tag, though, my friends; and for that reason I’ve been willing to make certain concessions. For example, when I finally landed the Griffey/Mantle dual auto, I got one that was slabbed a PSA 7 – not the highest grade, but one I could reasonably afford. Most of the 9’s I’ve seen have gone for four figures while mine was hundreds of dollars less than that. Perhaps I’ll upgrade one day; but until then, I can tick that box off the ol’ Griffey checklist with confidence.

2012 Playoff Prime Cuts Timeline Triple Game-Used Jersey Relic #29 #/10

Now take this recent addition from 2012 Playoff Prime Cuts. This one is a Timeline triple jersey relic numbered out of only ten – already one of my lowest-numbered Griffeys. I don’t pursue cards like this very actively; but the price was crazy low, and I couldn’t justify not pulling the trigger.

So we have an attractive card bought at a low price that arrived quickly with zero condition issues. Nothing was compromised in this purchase, and all is right with the world. This is our baseline.

1996 Topps Laser Power Cuts #P14

This, however, was a compromise. It’s the rare Power Cuts insert from 1996 Topps Laser, a tough find that doesn’t come up for sale very often. There is currently a PSA 10 specimen on eBay for $499.98 - I landed the one you see here for eight bucks.

Everything about this card is clean and nice apart from the tarnished bits at the top. I’ve taken a magnifying glass to it and there’s nothing that can be done, but for 0.016% of the price of a mint copy, I will not complain. At such a discount, this was a small compromise.

1997 E-X2000 Cut Above #2

You’re looking at my latest and greatest - the 1997 E-X2000 Cut Above #2. Some of you may already recognize it as one of the coolest and rarest inserts the 90’s produced and one heavily sought-after Griffey card. At 1:288 premium packs, I’m pretty certain this is the most highly-prized unsigned/unnumbered insert in Griffeydom. It appears on Cardboard Connection’s list of the Top 10 Griffeys of All Time (of which I have eight), and there is currently one on eBay for $525.00 with no option for a Best Offer. I got mine for less than half that…

…because of a print line.

I’m compelled to defend the card a little here because said print line, despite being seriously intensified by this scan, is not all that bad. In-hand it doesn’t take away from the coolness of the card much at all (and the condition is perfect in every other way it can be), but it is there and it is noticeable.

So how much does a print line cost? Should it cut the value of a card in half? Or by 10%? Or 90? If this card was a BGS 10 in every other way but surface (I assume that’s where print lines would affect grade), what would you grade it? I mean, it came out of the pack like this, right?

Still, this was a major compromise. I fully intend on upgrading someday; but again, until then, I’ve got that Cut Above game on lockdown and for a much more reasonable price than the current eBayer selling one would have you think was possible.

Here’s a compromised purchase with a twist:

1995 Leaf Statistical Standouts #2 #/5000

This is the 1995 Leaf Statistical Standouts insert. These were numbered out of 5000, but it might as well have been 100 because they are not an easy find. Lucky/unlucky for me I scored this one on eBay for a pretty reasonable Best Offer (I’m a huge fanboy of ’95 Leaf and have to have them all). It arrived in the mail looking mint in a plastic snap case. However, upon unsnapping the case (WARNING: this part is not for the faint of heart), several chunks of card back came with it.

Now what used to be a lovely, unbroken field of green and black gloss is a herd of white paper stars in a black sky of disappointment and hidden rage. I e-mailed the seller what happened and he messaged me back that he would send a full refund and I could keep the card. Sure enough, minutes later he made good.

The front of the card is damn near flawless, and the numbering wasn’t damaged; so the card is stored in the binder with the rest of the Griffeys as though nothing was amiss; but am I still waiting to land a mint one at a fair price? You bet I am. Then again it’s tough to beat free. That’s a compromise I can make anytime.

The moral of all this is that while it can be very satisfying to own a flawless copy of any Griffey card, a little compromise can save you several hundred bucks which, in turn, can buy you more Griffeys. After all, a checked box is a checked box.

There. Purchase justified.