Friday, October 30, 2015

The Great Griffey Frankenset: Page 3

Welcome to The Great Griffey Frankenset!

If you're not familiar with the idea of a Frankenset, it is a customized set of cards properly sequenced by card number that all tie into a connecting theme. Some Frankenset themes include whole teams, mini-collections, and even just generally great cards or photos. This is the first Frankenset I'm aware of that is made up of just one player: Ken Griffey, Jr., the man of a million cards. I took the liberty of including things like inserts, parallels, cameos, and oddballs for the sake of variety and because it's just more fun that way. Enjoy!

Here is page 3 of the Great Griffey Frankenset:

Completeness of page: 9/9
Completeness of the Frankenset so far: 100% (27/27)

Team distribution so far: Mariners: 31/36 (86%), Reds: 4/36 (11%), White Sox: 1/36 (3%)

Cards not listed in Beckett Magazine: 6/9 (12/27 total, 44%)

Approximate retail value of this page: $103 ($1032 running total)

Page 3 notes: As you may have noticed, very few of Junior's Cincinnati cards have made it into the set so far. I'll admit that I am a little biased towards both his mid-90's cardboard and his Mariners cards in general. There's not a single Cincy card on this entire page. There were also none on the first page and only one on the second. The ratio will eventually even out as the numbers grow and my choices for each number shrink, so don't fret. Go Reds and everything, but it's going to be a minute.

Page 3:

19. 1993 Select Stars #19

This used to be a hundred-dollar card. Hard to believe since now you can nab one for only a few bucks, but I get why it used to go for so much. It's a great photo in the classic Pinnacle Dufex effect and that instantly-recognizeable green that is to characteristic of '93 Select. I also love the big, classic Brewers logo in the photo background.

20. 1993 Donruss Preview #20

If you collect Griffeys, you might have done a double-take when you saw this card. That's because this is the preview version, and you just don't see it very often. The regular Donruss issue has Junior in a backwards cap and a blue rain-proof pullover with a big gold chain pulled out over it. The preview has Junior in bright daylight complete with brighter colors in the nameplate and a crowd of fans in the backdrop. Plus he's smiling a little. I like the preview a little better.

21. 1995 Megacards Babe Ruth 1895-1995 #21

I saw this card in Beckett when I was a kid and wanted it right away. I liked it so much I even cut out the photo from the magazine and included it in my collection. I still have the cutout somewhere. It's a great example of Photoshop before Photoshop. It looks pretty realistic, and it makes you smile. Great card.

22. 1993 Pinnacle Cooperstown Card #22

This was another spot I was conflicted about. It came down to two cards, but this early heralding of Junior's eventual Hall of Fame induction won out. There is a Dufex version of this card that fits the definition of a Holy Grail to a T, but I have yet to track that one down (unless you count the one currently sitting on eBay for $1200).

23. 1990 Post #23

There are oddballs and then there's Post who made Griffey cards for half a decade. This was the first, and it remains the best of the lot, no question. Logos be damned.

24. 1993 Upper Deck Fun Pack #24 Kid Stars

This guy here hasn't changed a bit. And is that little Craig to the left there?

25. 2014 Topps Future Stars That Never Were #FS-25

Ladies and gentlemen, the first Topps card in the Frankenset! (pause for applause) I've said it before, I don't know how this happened. It was completely natural. I barely noticed when when I was putting the checklist together, and before I knew it I was on page three with no Topps cards. This selection is not me patronizing Topps, though. On the contrary, I loved the idea and the execution here. Plus this thing is ultra thick and glossy.

26. San Bernardino Spirit #26 California League All-Star

Another great Griffey pre-rookie. These are not rare by any stretch, and they contain an action photo. You don't see that on too many pre-rookies. Plus, America colors.

27. 1995 Donruss Diamond Kings #DK-27

This was by far my favorite year of the Perez Diamond King. Bold, primary colors in dynamic shapes offset by a little bit of gold foil in the insert title. And the portraits are great. All Diamond Kings have a special place in my heart; but objectively speaking, I don't believe they ever got better than this.

Here is the back of Page 3:

Thanks for reading, and look for page 4 next Friday!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Wallet Card Wednesday: Fat Rabbit Edition

If you read this blog regularly, you probably know that my wife and I are expecting a baby in March. You may not know that we already have a pair of fur babies: a dog and a bunny. Getting the dog to sit still for three seconds while I take a wallet card picture is nearly impossible (we've tried). The bunny on the other hand is one chill little chick.

Eat your heart out, bunny with a pancake on its head.

Her name is Dumpling, and she is three and a half. Her name really only gets used at the vet as around the house we just call her "the bunny." She's a lot more like a cat than a rabbit. For example, she is litter box trained. She climbs on every piece of furniture we own and relishes the opportunity to cloister herself into tiny spaces that seem impossible to get into. Also, when she is ready to be pet, she will not only let you know - she will insist. She'll actually jump on your lap and nose your hand until you get to work. She'll do the same to your feet, too, as she's no snob when it comes to what appendage you're using to pet her. A glutton for attention this one is. And fat.

Monday, October 26, 2015

500th Post Giveaway!

According to Blogger, this is post #500 of The Junior Junkie. I noticed it coming a few weeks ago and just happened to check it the other day when it was at 498. Phew - almost missed it.

Anyway, giveaways are customary when celebrating milestones, so here we go. I'm going to send a card-appropriate package to some lucky reader. All you have to do is read this post, then comment on it with a number between 1 and 500. I'll be running a random number generator at the end of the week to decide the winner. We will be going with Price is Right rules (closest without going over).

Now here's some fun 500-related Griffey stuff:

On Father's Day, June 20th of 2004, and with his Dad in attendance, Ken Griffey, Jr. became the 20th player to hit 500 home runs. Coincidentally, it was also his 2,143rd career hit, the same number of hits his Dad retired with. Over the next six years Junior would hit another 130 home runs with Cincinnati, Chicago, and back home in Seattle before hanging it up in June of 2010. He is currently #6 on the all-time list. Of those top six home run hitters who are not known PED users, Junior's only competition for most complete player comes from Willie Mays.

In 1991, two years after Junior's debut with the team, the Mariners enjoyed their first ever winning season since their inception in 1977. The M's went 83-79 with a win percentage of .512, their first over-.500 season in history. They have repeated that feat 11 times in the 24 years since, but there's no denying Griffey's role in that first one. Also, congratulations. Because you read the content in this post, you have a huge advantage. I will be limiting the number generator to numbers between 401 and 500, so be sure to guess somewhere in there. To those who guessed before reading, sorry! I told you to read it first. Even put it in bold.

Finally, because baseball cards are awesome, here's a few Griffeys that are numbered out of 500:

1997 SP Game Film #GF10 #/500
1997 SP SPx Force #1 #/500 (w/ Buhner, Galarraga, Bichette)
1997 SPx Cornerstones of the Game #1 #/500 (w/ Barry Bonds)
1998 Finest Centurion #C5 #/500
2007 & 2008 Bowman #85 Blue #/500

Thanks for reading, and good luck!

2003 E-X: Backdoor Beauty

E-X, once the admiral of acetate, was starting to show its age in 2003. The cards were still cool, but the printing methods, materials, and die-cutting that made this brand a collector darling in the late 90's were no longer that impressive. The market-wide shift towards throwback designs certainly didn't help, either.

Still, it is surprising how little this brand differs from its earliest predecessor brands. Don't let the slight name change fool you. Years after the glory days of the late 90's, here we find the brand still printed on heavy acetate, still filled with unique die-cut inserts, and still rocking the super scarce, two-tiered Essential Credentials parallel which has somehow barely changed at all.

I usually like that kind of consistency; but given that Fleer was on the brink of bankruptcy at this point, I can't help thinking maybe it was time to try something different. Like putting Griffey in more inserts for goodness sake.

I'll go ahead and mention here that Griffey is in ZERO inserts in 2003 E-X. Goose egg. Nada. That brings the total number of cards needed to complete Griffey checklist to three: his short-printed base card and the two Essential Credentials parallels.

And here they are:

2003 E-X #76

As the design timeline goes, this one is not very exciting. The most prevalent elements here are the two large squares of squareness which do little more than show the team color and provide a place for stats on the card back. They filled the large amount of negative space with floating elements that include a massive jersey number, team logo, and a nameplate in an attractive modern font. The message here seems to be, "Look! This card is clear!" That gimmick just wasn't cutting it anymore by '03.

As for the back, they did what they could with the space afforded. The season stat box is clunky and small, but I'm a big fan of the "Career Season Bests" section, the saving grace of this card back.

Let's peep some parallels:

2003 E-X #76 Essential Credentials Now #/76

The Essential Credentials Now parallel is a blue-tinted version of the base card with numbering and "Essential Credentials Now" printed on the card back. It is numbered out of 76, the card's sequential number in the set. And it's blue!

2003 E-X #76 Essential Credentials Future (Fleer bankruptcy, unnumbered)

The Essential Credentials Future parallel is a gold-tinted version of the base card with numbering and "Essential Credentials Future" printed on the card back. There were only 27 of this card made (103 minus 76, the card's sequential number in the set). And it's gold!

Here is where we address the rather suggestive title of this post. You see, this particular card was originally acquired from the Fleer bankruptcy sale which makes it the closest thing to a "backdoored" card I've ever owned.

"Backdoored" is a term I only recently came across on the Griffey Collectors' Thread of the Freedom Cardboard forums. This is the place where all the super-high-end Griffey collectors the world over convene and discuss everything Griffey. There are guys on there who own huge quantities of Griffey one-of-ones, autographs in the many hundreds, and inserts and parallels so rare you've never even heard of them. As a card collector, I find that place extremely humbling to say the least. And when you're collecting at these guys' level, backdoored cards come up...a LOT.

A backdoored card means exactly what it sounds like: a card that was brought into circulation via unconventional channels and/or subversive means, usually by employees of the card company. You'll find most backdoored cards come from periods when one company or another is going out of business, filing for bankruptcy, or discontinuing a brand; but that is not always the rule. I've seen examples from just about every brand in Christendom, even Topps. There's a naughty, forbidden quality to them that makes them more desireable (and expensive). That's why when this one popped up, I just had to bite.

'Cuz I'm a naughty boy.

Now 2003 E-X was indeed followed by 2004 E-X, so this is not a half-finished card or anything like that. There are numbered versions of this card out there - I've seen them. This one is special because it was produced but never numbered or packed out, and it was almost certainly never meant to make it out into the world.

The question remains: is this Griffey checklist complete? In the strictest sense, no. Hence:

Griffeys I still need from 2003 E-X:

#76 Essential Credentials Future #/27

But do I have a #76 Essential Credentials Future Griffey? Yes, I do. Check it out:

There it is. Heck, it looks even better without the little foil numbers. Backdoor guests really are best.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Great Griffey Frankenset: Page 2

Welcome to The Great Griffey Frankenset!

If you're not familiar with the idea of a Frankenset, it is a customized set of cards properly sequenced by card number that all tie into a connecting theme. Some frankenset themes include whole teams, mini-collections, and even just generally great cards or photos. This is the first Frankenset I'm aware of that is made up of just one player: Ken Griffey, Jr., the man of a million cards. I took the liberty of including things like inserts, parallels, cameos, and oddballs for the sake of variety and because it's just more fun that way. Enjoy!

Here is page 2 of the Great Griffey Frankenset:

Completeness of page: 9/9
Completeness of the Frankenset so far: 100% (18/18)

Team distribution so far: Mariners: 17/18 (94%), Reds: 1/18 (6%), White Sox: 0/18 (0%)

Cards not listed in Beckett Magazine: 3/9 (6/18 total, 33%)

Approximate retail value of this page: $319 ($929 running total)

Page 2 notes: We are still very much in the toughest part of the Frankenset where there are a plethora of worthy inserts and smaller sets to choose from. You may notice that four of these nine cards were made by Pacific, a staggering ratio for the often unsung brand. What can I say? They made a ton of really cool inserts in the 90's. I also included two cards on this page that can be had for less than a dollar but that are just so darn good that no crazy-scarce $40 insert could compete. Junior Junkie don't discriminate. Junior Junkie participates.

Page 2:

10. 1997 SP Game Film #GF10 #/500

In the mid-90's several inserts that incorporated film in their designs were developed (pun most definitely intended). Inserts like 1994 Studio Editor's Choice and 1994 and 1995 Leaf Slideshow; but as cool as those were, SP took the film thing to another level in 1997. The insert was ahead of its time in that it is not only super-limited but serial numbered with a production run of only 500. Also it has a tangible relic quality that was rare this early in the relic game.

11. 1995 Pacific Mariners Memories #11

In '95 Pacific released a whole set dedicated to the Mariners' memorable postseason, and this is probably the best in the lot. The same photo appeared on Junior's 1996 Select base card (which is card #6, a spot held in this Frankenset by a totally awesome Broder rookie card), but I'm surprised it didn't make it onto more cards that year.

12. 1994 SP Holoview F/X #12

While Upper Deck's excellent combination hologram technology was used in plenty of Denny's Grand Slam and stand-alone retail sets, here we got it integrated right into an actual insert. And not just any insert: an SP insert. These made quite a splash in the hobby when they debuted. There is a much rarer red die-cut version of this card (which I don't yet have), but I like the blue better.

13. 1992 Donruss Elite #13

These extremely tough pulls from '92 Donruss are some of the first serial-numbered cards ever conceived. There are 10,000 cards for each player, but Donruss printed so many base cards that year that pulling one remains a pretty big deal. I busted three boxes of '92 Donruss when I was building the set and still didn't get one. Popular players in this issue continue to break the $50 mark.

14. 2001 Pacific Gold Crown Die-Cuts #14 Blue #/100

There are some slots in this Frankenset that I had a lot of trouble filling for the simple fact that I couldn't make up my mind which card deserves the spot. This spot was particularly tough. In the end I landed on this shiny, die-cut number from Pacific. The red version is rare, but this blue version numbered to only 100 is much rarer. There is also a purple version that is so rare I haven't even seen one yet.

15. 1987 Bellingham Mariners #15

My personal favorite of Junior's many pre-rookies is this Bellingham Mariners Team Issue from 1987. There are rarer pre-rookies of the Kid, but when it comes to photo selection and overall print quality, this glossy beauty takes the cake. Junior also appears on the team photo that makes up the checklist from this set.

16. 1997 Studio #16

Not rare or expensive - quite the opposite, in fact. It's simply one of the best Griffey portrait cards ever. There's also an 8x10 version available if you have the patience to store it.

17. 2000 Pacific Aurora Styrotechs #17 #/299

Pacific made a whole lot of bizarre inserts in their short lifespan, each with its own unique theme. The Styrotechs insert was produced for two years, and the theme seems to be that the cards are made of plastic. While the 1999 version is a regular, four-cornered card, for this iteration, Pacific went with a die-cut batting helmet shape and limited them to only 299 produced. You don't see helmets used as design elements on baseball cards very often.

18. 1998 Pacific Crown Collection Home Run Hitters #18 (56 Home Runs)

Sick of Pacific yet? This brand is strange in that what card you have is not always clear. Most companies emblazon the brand/insert name across the card front so there's no mistake. Pacific pretty much never does that. What they do is put the card number in a little white circle on the back along with the insert name, but on this one it just says "Crown Collection." I've done some research, and I'm fairly certain that this card is an insert called "Home Run Hitters." Not 100% certain, but close. Still, 56 home runs steroid-free! That's amazing, right?

Here is the back of Page 2:

Thanks for reading, and look for page 3 next Friday!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Bo Box Comes to Life: a Trade Post

Bo, blogger, collector, and fellow Wallet Card enthusiast, sent me a jaw-dropping box of '89 Donruss and other goodies that rivals the biggest trade packages I've ever received. Really, it was just too much to try and make scans. I had to take pictures:

Not all of it - just most of it.

This box was a monster. As you can see the bulk of the cardboard was '89 Donruss, a set I am perpetually building. I'm not even sure how many sets I have at this point, but I can tell you that there was at least one full factory set in this box (really - a pristine factory set) as well as the better part of at least two more sets.

Now, there are two cards in particular that always seem to be missing when I get loose '89 Donruss base cards: #33 (the Griffey rookie) and #154 (Nolan Ryan). I even have a few sets that are exactly those two cards short of completeness. I was delighted to find both in this box. And some PC needs as well.

I love that Riverfront Stadium card. Wish I'd gotten a chance to see it.

I also found a bunch of lesser-known '89 Donruss cards including The Rookies, Traded, Grand Slammers, All-Star Pop-Ups, and a few Warren Spahn puzzle pieces. I have The Rookies set and the puzzles I'm way into, but I've spent little to no time on those other small sets. This box got my '89 Donruss-collecting butt in gear.

I'm not a big hockey guy, but I have a big soft spot for the St. Louis Blues. Their cards are pretty much the only way I can connect with the team with the near-total lack of televised hockey in NOLA. There were some real gems in there.

Finally, Bo included in this box complete sets of 2007 and 2008 UD Masterpiece with a few SP's. I only recently decided to collect these sets, and Bo put the serious smack down on my want list in one single swoop. Amazing. I only have a handful of straggler SP's left to chase and they will be finished for good.

This box provided hours and hours of sorting fun. It also made this picture possible:

This is all my loose (not already in a complete set) '89 Donruss and all the '89 Donruss from the Bo box merged and sorted. It took roughly 10 hours during which I binge-watched the first season of Community (which I'd never seen). Check out the strobing rainbow pattern. Have you ever seen so much bloody '89 Donruss??

Thanks a ton, Bo! And keep the great Wallet Card photos coming!

Wallet Card Wednesday: Drink Responsibly Edition

A guy I know made some bad decisions a few months ago. He did some drinking then decided to drive home. Before he knew it, fate and a somewhat impaired sense of direction had led him onto the longest bridge in the world (no, seriously) which brought him through a parish (you may call it a "county") that is particularly harsh on such behaviors, as they should be.

Now he has one of these puppies strapped to his leg for 30 days. It's right up against his skin, and it's sensitive enough to detect when even a single mouthful of beer has been swallowed by the wearer. From what he tells me it is tight and uncomfortable. I get the feeling he'll be calling a cab next time he knocks back a few while away from home.

I've watched as this guy's life has been turned upside down by the incident. He can't have one beer with dinner, he has to blow into a tube to start his car (and pay for the device), and he has to explain the big, clunky box hanging off his leg to his girlfriend of only a few weeks. Frankly I can't believe he let me take this picture.

This post is not to make light of driving intoxicated - quite the contrary. A lot of my posts, especially the wallet card posts, feature alcohol in some way; but I should make it clear that we always come with a plan. A designated driver, a cab from a strategic location, or a toothbrush and change of clothes for crashing at a friend's house. And most conveniently, a pregnant wife who can't drink anyway.

So yeah, don't drink and drive. Call Uber, have the bartender get you a cab, or impregnate your significant other (FYI - this last one is cheaper and way more fun).