Wednesday, February 28, 2018
That last post was the first time in five months I’ve gotten to hit the Submit button, and it felt good. I’ll have to try and keep up with posting again. Not making any promises, of course. Have I mentioned that this kid poops like 11 times a day?
Back to it:
20. 2015 Tacoma Rainiers 20th Anniversary card
I’ll be honest: I’m not sure whether this is a 2014 or 2015 card. 20 years would technically be 2014 as the team adopted the name “Rainiers” in 1995; but I’ve also seen a lot of business/organizational anniversaries celebrated in a year ending in the same digit as the first year. The team is currently managed by Pat Listach who had an absolute buttload of awesome cards in the ‘90’s. ‘Member him?
19. Three of the Four Toughest 1998 Ultra Griffeys
I got all excited while putting together the Gold Medallions of 1996 Ultra, and I expounded on that by setting my collecting crosshairs on the other insane inserts of the savagely 90’s Ultra brand. These bad boys are 1:144, 1:144, and 1:288, respectively, and they are just frickin’ out there, man. God, I miss ‘90’s inserts. There’s still one whale left to get in this set before the rest fall into place…
18. Every Pinnacle Brand Artist’s Proofs made before 1997
Pinnacle AP’s are some of the toughest parallels of the 90’s because in addition to being scarce there are just so many different ones, especially for a prolific guy like Junior. This was the year I picked off the rest – the final five I needed to complete my Pinnacle Artist’s Proof game through 1996. Again you can thank the 1996 Beckett Tribute checklist for forcing my foot down on the gas here. Still, it’s nice to be done with them.
17. 1999 SPx Winning Materials Jersey/Bat Dual Relic #JR
A very tough, super early double-relic. And I may be mistaken here so don’t quote me, but I believe I saw somewhere that these were the first dual-relic baseball cards? Like, ever? Someone correct me if that’s not the case.
So how did I get one? And why is such a card so low on the list? You may not have noticed in the scan, but this thing is in extremely rough condition. I dare say it may be the roughest specimen of this card in existence. Not only are there numerous dings and some seriously soft corners, but someone took it upon themselves to sharpie out the white bits in the upper left corner. What kind of lunatic does that?
Anyway, thanks to that sharpie-happy nutcase I was able to nab this card for way below market value. Sure I’ve spouted a lot of “condition doesn’t matter much to me” rhetoric through the years, but the fact is that were this in better condition it would probably be much higher on this list. Then again I wouldn’t own it then because it would have sold for WAY more than it did. Some mixed feelings here, but you can’t fault the card. Great design, too.
16. 1997 Pinnacle Passport to the Majors #2 Sample
You are looking at one of the most difficult “sample” cards of the ‘90’s, and that is saying something. I’ve only ever seen one in my collecting career, and it’s the one you’re looking at here. By the way, this is also a great example of the weird, requires-an-explanation kind of stuff you’re going to see all over this year’s list. Like I said before – it was a weird year.
15. 2000 Upper Deck Ionix Warp Zone #WZ3
I spent significantly less money on Griffeys this year, so it was easy to justify picking off a few of the higher-priced, more desirable gray whales. This eye-melter from UD Ionix is a prime example of such a card, and there are a few more to come.
14. 1993 Colla Collection Diamond Marks Art Insert #3
Not everybody recognizes the scarcity here, but trust me – this thing is a tough get. It’s hard to label it an oddball as Colla was actually pretty prolific in the early 90’s, and bookmark cards like these hardly ever command top dollar; but this one consistently approaches three figures or better even in not-so-great condition (I suspect a few kids may have actually used them for their intended purpose, driving the prices up, the little savages).
13. 1999 Metal Universe Linchpins #4
Another highly-desirable, high-dollar gray whale of 90’s-ness. As a lover of the Metal Universe brand, I’ve actively chased this thing for years; but it’s always been priced just a little higher than I’ve wanted to pay. This was the year I finally made it happen. The die-cutting here is incredible. How did more of these cards not have hanging chads (you younger folks might have to Google that last thing)?
12. 1989 Fleer #548 (on top of sealed cello pack) & 1989 Bowman sealed magazine pack
I became addicted to sealed packs with visible Griffeys in them a couple of years ago, and this year I was able to add a pair of really cool ones to the collection, both of them rookies. The 1989 Fleer cello pack is great because the Griffey is right on top, but I’m more enamored with the ’89 Bowman magazine pack because not only do we get a bonus visible Mickey Mantle Bowman reprint, but the Ken Griffey, Sr. television card (with Junior’s rookie cameo) is also visible on the back. That’s BOTH Griffey rookies in the set visible in the SAME pack. What are the odds?
11. 1997 Pinnacle X-Press Melting Pot #6 #/500
There are only 500 of these floating around which is pretty darn scarce for a card from an unsuccessful set from way back in 1997. The wild/frustrating thing about this particular one is that Pinnacle made about 10,000 samples of it and sent them to EVERYONE IN THE WORLD APPARENTLY. Since I needed one I did that thing of when you tell eBay to e-mail you when an auction is listed that uses certain key words, namely “1997 Pinnacle X-Press Melting Pot Griffey,” and since everyone in the world had the sample and didn’t want it (it’s not a very attractive card), I would get e-mails that new Griffey Melting Pot cards were listed what felt like EVERY SINGLE DAY. Then I would have to click on them and check to see whether the picture had “SAMPLE” written across the front (thank God it’s on the front). I probably did this 300-400 times over the last couple of years until the day a real one was finally listed, and I put it to bed with a massive overbid just so I wouldn’t have to deal with it anymore. I’m not even all that crazy about this insert, but turning off that eBay saved search was one of the greatest moments of my collecting career.
Welcome to the list, Melting Pot. You kind of suck.
Alright – one post left in the Top 30. No purple Crusades or Mantle autos in the Top 10 this year, but there will be ink. And cookies! Thanks for reading.
Seriously – COOKIES.
Monday, February 26, 2018
Hi! Miss me? I missed you! But regardless of how far-removed from card blogging I get, I will always, ALWAYS make my Top 30 post because I am still always getting new Griffeys.
This year was weird. It was the first year I didn’t try to build any sets; instead I focused pretty exclusively on Griffeys. At the same time I’ve also reigned in my spending on cardboard for two reasons: first, I’m a super-responsible Dad now (LOLZ), and second I already have most of the Holy Grails/White Whales I want.
Don’t get me wrong - there are a handful of spendy cards I would drop reasonably shiny dimes on given the chance, but for the most part I am pretty satisfied with the state of my Griffey collection (though I do still chase the cool new cards that come out). For now I’m mostly after cards of some significance in the hobby.
All this has added up to one bizarre Top 30 list. I’m still extremely proud of my Griffey acquisitions this year, but it’s a very non-standard list as these lists tend to go. There are a couple of spots where you’ll probably think I’ve lost my damn mind (and one spot in particular where you’ll be 100% right).
30. 2000 Stadium Club Beam Team #BT9 #/500
Not terribly expensive but relatively tough to come by, this is an amazing example of an over-the-top, techy-for-the-sake-of-techy Stadium Club insert. It would have been right at home among the out-the-box inserts of the mid-to-late-90’s, but it came out fairly late for such wackiness. Check out the helix of holofoil along the left border and internal die-cutting. Just plain naughty.
29. 2017 Topps Chrome MLB Award Winners #MAW-9
Again, this one is not expensive by any stretch, but I’ll be damned if it’s not one of the best-designed cards of last year. When I first came across it online, in the split second between when I first laid eyes on it and when I saw how much one would cost me, I was fully expecting a minimum $50 price tag. It just looks like it cost a fortune, and it keeps me (somewhat begrudgingly) coming back to the new product.
28. 1994 Upper Deck All-Star 125th Anniversary Jumbo Gold
There was a time when I genuinely doubted this card’s very existence (this has been the case for several of the remaining cards from the 1996 Beckett Tribute checklist). I was flabbergasted when one popped up on my saved searches and chomping at the bit right up until that auction’s end. In the end I got it for a very reasonable price because NOBODY ELSE ON THE PLANET IS LOOKING FOR THIS OBSCURE FRIGGIN CARD.
27. The Rest of the Collector’s Choice Gold Signatures
This is also the year I completed the checklist of Collector’s Choice Gold Signatures. Yes, ALL OF THEM. Gold sigs may as well have been unicorns when I was ripping packs at 15 (I only ever saw a handful in person), so this feat in itself is a kind of childhood dream come true. That 1996 base card was a real bugger, and I had all but given up on that Up Close and Personal subset.
26. 2009 Upper Deck A Piece of History 600 HR #600-KG
Upper Deck made history in the late 90’s when they released the first cards of their legendary A Piece of History 500 Home Run Club relic insert. Then in 2009 they tried to recapture that old Upper Deck magic with a similar multi-year/multi-product insert with slightly higher minimum credentials to make the checklist. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to save Upper Deck’s place in the baseball card market. The design is a bit unspectacular – far from the timeless sepia of its predecessor which seems a little bass-ackwards to me. You would think having to hit another 100 dingers to get a spot in the checklist would call for a fancier card. Ho-hum.
The most interesting thing about this insert is that this Griffey is the only card in it that got made. You are looking at the first and last A Piece of History 600 HR insert card. More were meant to be produced, obviously, but Upper Deck would never get the chance as only a year later they were out of the baseball card business completely. Given the popularity (and resulting prices) of the original 500 Club insert combined with the fact that Junior was the only player represented in this checklist, I’m surprised this card isn’t more (in)famous in Griffey-collecting circles. A weird little piece of cardboard history from the end times of Upper Deck baseball.
25. 2017 Donruss Whammy #W-2
Man, these things were hotter than Tamagotchis when they hit the streets. As soon as I laid eyes on one I (and just about everyone else with the Griffey itch, I suspect) knew right away that I just had to have one. Prices for this thing shot up well over $30 per card and have never regressed. It’s just so damn cool, and design-wise that comic book caricature angle plays perfectly even without logos. I have no doubt that this is the most universally-loved Griffey card Panini has ever produced.
24. 1996 SP Holoview Special F/X #10 Die-Cut Red
Regardless of what happens with me in other areas of card collecting, my love of 90’s inserts is forever. For a few years this die-cut beauty has eluded me with solid gray whale price-points. Then in late December, someone slapped one up on COMC for a third of what they usually go for, and I pounced. These are quite famous as the die-cutting on each card is accurate to the shape of the outfield wall of each player’s heritage stadium, meaning this card is the exact shape of the Kingdome. Pardon my French but that’s fudging amazing. Fun fact: there are no fewer than three Red Sox in the checklist and any one of their cards will show you just how weird Fenway really is.
23. 1996 Ultra HR King #6 Gold Medallion and Exchange Card
The Gold Medallions of 1996 Ultra are NOTORIOUSLY scarce, and in addition to being one of my favorite wood-grain cards of all time, this is also one of the scarcest GM’s. I was able to acquire the exchange card too which is cool. Of course rumor has it those exchange cards also had their own Gold Medallion parallels, which would put me still one card away from completing the 1996 Ultra Gold Medallions. Grrrr….
22. 2000 Pacific Aurora #133 Pinstripes Premiere Date #/52
OK LOOK – I’m usually the first guy to call out crappy parallels of which this is certainly one. A significant design difference such as fun die-cutting or crazy foil would be one thing, but this is just a stamp, and an ugly one. But this card has a few saving graces. First, it's Pacific, and if you don't love Pacific I don't want to know you. Second, the Reds version of this card is also Griffey’s FIRST EVER (like, literally) Reds card, thus making this his last Mariners card. And at an ultra-low run of only 52 cards I considered it irresistible.
21. 1998 Pinnacle Mint #7 Gold and Silver Coins
I’m a sucker for card/coin crossovers, but these examples from Pinnacle have been grey whales for a few years now. No more! A fellow Griffey collector was having a fire sale via a Griffey-collecting Facebook group, and I couldn’t pass the gold coin up. After that the silver was just a few easily-justified clicks away. It’s amazing how much easier it is to overpay for a card just to complete a set. Anyway, at long last they’re all mine! Mwah-ha-ha.
Thanks for reading! Tune in for #11-20...someday...