Friday, November 27, 2015

The Great Griffey Frankenset: Page 7

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 7 of the Great Griffey Frankenset:

Completeness of page: 9/9
Completeness of the Frankenset so far: 100% (63/63)

Team distribution so far: Mariners: 50/63 (79%), Reds 12/63 (19%), White Sox: 1/63 (2%)
Cards not listed in Beckett Magazine: 3/9 (25/63 total, 40%)

Approximate retail value of this page: $76.25 ($1593.75 running total)
Page 7 notes: Another great cross-section of cards from all over the spectrum of Griffeyness. We have issues from 1989 all the way to Junior's final year in 2010. This page includes everything from base cards to parallels, subsets, inserts, oddballs, throwbacks, three great die-cuts, and even a 1 of 1 (probably the only one in the Frankenset). A nice sampling of Griffey cardboard.

Page 7 selections:

55. 1993 Upper Deck #55 Pacific Sock Exchange (w/ Jay Buhner & Kevin Mitchell)

Not a cameo - more like a multi-player special issue from one of the greatest base sets of the 90's. Named for a famously massive trade, this is very much a "what could have been" card even when it was issued in '93. Injuries for both Junior and Mitchell as well as Mitchell's trade to the Reds not long after this photo was taken combined to make this card a little anti-climatic. Plus we all know it's weird seeing Kevin Mitchell in a Mariners jersey.

56. 2002 Upper Deck Honor Roll #56

A beautifully-designed subset from Upper Deck. OK, look - I'm totally against beating a dead horse. There are only so many times you can bring up some awesome feat a particular player has accomplished before it's like, "OK, we get it - they hit back-to-back home runs as father and son." But even with all the cards that herald that feat, I'm not sick of it. That shit is a dream. Well played, baseball card. You do you.

57. 2002 Upper Deck Ovation #57 Silver

This year of Ovation was all about embossed cards draped in greenish-blue for all players and all teams. It was a color combo that suited Mariners a lot better. When you add in the subset that featured even more Junior Cincy cards, that made for several greenish-blue cards featuring Junior in a Reds uniform. This silver parallel is a nice respite from the weird color combos that dominate this base set.

58. 1997 Donruss Jay Buhner #58 Press Proof Gold /500 (cameo)

A fairly rare parallel of a parallel of a cameo. A thrice-removed Griffey card that is still more awesome than some of the other cards on this very page.

59. 2007 SPx #59

One of the wackiest SPx base designs, but also a favorite. Huge die-cut X's were everywhere in the late-2000's, and at 15 corners this is one of the binder-unfriendliest cards I own. Still, it's damn cool.

60. 1998 Upper Deck UD3 #60 (Technology FX60, Subset PC30) Die Cut #/2000

A very confusing, multi-faceted base set. There are several different Griffey cards available, but I'm never quite sure which version I'm looking at because they're all so similar. The card numbering is just as confusing and includes three different numbers: set, subset, and "technology" along with die-cut versions. The set number for this one is 60, and that's good enough to get it a spot on this page.

61. 2008 SPx Ken Griffey Jr American Hero #KG61 Box Score 1/1
Okay, so cards on the table: there are more than one #KG61 Box Score 1 of 1's, each with a different box score embedded in the card. I've read that there are about 18 different box scores made for each of the 100 cards in this set. That makes 1800 1 of 1's available - kinda goes against the spirit of a 1 of 1, I know. On top of that, of the 1800 box scores they put into these cards, this may be the worst of them all. Just look at it. On May 30th of 1999, Tamba Bay hung 15 runs on the Mariners and Griffey went for 1-for-2. Jesus - why are you telling me this?!? It may as well say "5-30-1999: Some days Junior sucks. This was one of them." This box score belongs out of my face and onto a Devil Rays card.

Still, while it's not as "1 of 1" as some other cards and the box score is a huge downer, I love the stylized "1 of 1" stamped into the card front. That kind of makes up for everything.

62. 2010 Bowman 1992 Bowman Throwback #BT62

I'm a big fan of this 2010 tribute to the iconic '92 Bowman set, especially given that Junior was back in Seattle at this time. You've got to admit it looks completely legit. A well-executed throwback.

63. 1989 Baseball Cards Magazine Rookie Stars of 1989 #63
Here's a throwback for the ages. 1960 Topps included a subset called "The Sporting News Rookie Stars of 1959" with this very same design. Then in 1989, Baseball Cards Magazine created this uber-faithful cut-out, replacing The Sporting News with their own name and even keeping the same font. Well done, guys. Sure, it was most likely made for older collectors already familiar with the iconic Topps rookie cards, but it's also one of my favorite oddballs ever.

Here's the back of page 7:

Thanks for reading, and look for page 8 next Friday!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wallet Card Wednesday: Flora-Bama Edition

It's getting cold here, guys. It got all the way down to the mid-50's last night - BRRRRRRRR! So here's a beach-themed Wallet Card Wednesday I've been holding back since the Summer specifically to post during cold weather.

Living on the Gulf Coast, we are very lucky to have relatively easy access to the great white sand beaches of Alabama and Florida. We make it out there once or twice a year, but this year was different. This is the year of the Wallet Card.

You can't really tell here, but this photo was taken in Florida looking into Alabama. Pretty trippy, right?

Here is the obligatory edge-of-the-surf shot which I took a step further by risking the safety of the Griffey:

I actually set it down in harm's way, then whipped it back up before the tide could claim it. This photo didn't turn out quite as dramatic as I though it would, but to put it into perspective...

Here's what almost took the card away forever. This photo was taken just a few seconds later. I mean it's not like I've ever been shy about getting this card wet/sticky/gross in general, but that water slips back out fast. Afterwards I nervously clutched the card to my chest like Lyra clutched her dæmon Pantalaimon after he was almost severed from her by the Gobblers (sorry - I'm nearly through The Golden Compass).

Here's a parasailer being pulled by a boat. If you've never done this, it's pretty fun. You get a great view of the whole beach, and the ride itself is surprisingly quiet and peaceful. Did I take the wallet card up and snap photos from hundreds of feet in the air? Nope. I screamed like a girl.

It wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes it was clouds, dark and foreboding. It didn't rain - not once - but we got a great view of the storm system from the coast.

This is Flora-bama. The size of this place cannot be conveyed in one photo. Suffice it to say it is designed like a massive party mansion with multiple stages, numerous bars, a pool hall, an arcade, and a laissez-faire attitude. It is located right on the Florida-Alabama border, hence the name.

You can see the line between the "Flora" and "Bama," representative of the state border which, as legend has it, is right on that line. I'm always amused/enraged by the term "package," which refers to stores that sell alcohol. Back home in New Orleans, liquor and beer are sold at every grocery store and gas station 24/7. It seems that just about everywhere else we have to make a special trip just to get our swerve on. What gives? Anyway, Flora-bama is also a "package" or whatever. How silly.

I skimmed this and it looks like a country song, though I can't be sure. There are too many words that end with "-in" to be any other genre.

This is a Bushwhacker. Back home we would call it a chocolate daiquiri, but when in Rome...

Bras - thousands of them - hanging from rope across the dance floor in front of the main stage. BRAS.
Finally, here's a shot of the sunset over Perdido Key. I got a later photo, too, but the Griffey just looks like a rectangle of back-lit blackness. This one you can still kind of see.

That's it for this week. Everybody have a great Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Great Griffey Frankenset: Page 6

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 6 of the Great Griffey Frankenset:

Completeness of page: 9/9

Completeness of the Frankenset so far: 100% (54/54)

Team distribution so far: Mariners: 43/54 (80%), Reds: 10/54 (19%), White Sox: 1/54 (2%)

Cards not listed in Beckett Magazine: 2/9 (22/54 total, 41%)

Approximate retail value of this page: $84 ($1517.50 running total)
Page 6 notes: We have a whopping five parallels on this page - more than on any page so far. And one of those parallels is a sweet cameo. As you can see this is also the lowest page value so far which goes along with what I was expecting. As the numbers climb, the total page value should continue to fall. Any really high-value pages forthcoming (and there will be a few) will be statistical outliers.

Page 6:

46. 1989 Topps Major League Debut #46

Technically this small retail set came out in 1989, but I've always classified it as a 1990 set because of the design. I've seen these advertised as Tiffany cards because of the white paper stock they're printed on, but the truth is there is only one version of this card, and Tiffany it ain't. This very early Topps issue is one of the lesser-known Griffeys to be had from that year.

47. 2008 SP Authentic Marquee Matchups #MM-47 (w/ Greg Maddux)

Here's two Hall of Famers in uniforms other than those of their heritage teams. Being a 90's kid, I'm all about Greg Maddux and his mind-boggling four consecutive Cy Young Awards (Randy Johnson, the only other pitcher to accomplish that feat, also has a card in this set with Junior). Griffey had 34 at-bats against Mad Dog in which he hit .294 with two home runs. A much younger Junior than the one you see on this card also managed to homer against Maddux in the '92 All-Star Game, the first year of Maddux' Cy Young run. By the time this card came out, both were late-year veterans on the verge of retirement.

48. 1996 Score Artist's Proof Jay Buhner #48 (cameo)

Nobody has more cameo cards with the Kid. These guys shared the outfield of the Kingdome for 10 years, and they were genuine pals. This is one of my favorite candid shots of the two, and it won't be the last in the Frankenset.

49. 1995 Bowman's Best #R49

I'll be honest - I was conflicted with this selection. There just aren't many Griffey cards numbered #49. This is the first time in this Frankenset I had to settle. Nothing against Bowman's Best (I love the giant chrome team logo), but this is hardly my favorite card. Maybe if I had the refractor version...

50. 1997 Stadium Club #50 Matrix

Here is one of my favorite parallels of all time. This printing technology is called Power Matrix, and it could have been the next Dufex. I don't know if Topps still has access to it, but I'd like to see it brought back for 2016 Stadium Club.

51. 1998 Fleer Sports Illustrated #51

Yeah, this one is all photo. I love how far away we are, I love how it's just a tiny bit out of focus, I love the photographers with massive lenses trying to capture the moment, I love all the negative space and the realism. It's like we're sitting in the stands. Just an excellent card.

52. 2008 Upper Deck Masterpieces #52 Blue Frame #/125

It's a nice parallel of UD Masterpiece, perhaps the most appropriately-named set ever made. The image is simple: an up-angled portrait with some beautiful interplay between sunlight and shade, the lumbering upper deck of the stadium in the distant background. Everything else is clear blue sky. Also there's a big, blue frame on there which is pretty neat, I guess.

53. 1997 Pinnacle Certified #53 Totally Certified Platinum Red #/3999

Scans don't do this crazy card justice. I won't go into all of it here, but believe me when I say it absolutely attacks your eyes from the front and back of the card with numerous little design elements, the most prevalent of which is a series of multi-angled bands of foil in a circular pattern radiating from the brand logo (you can kind of see them in the scan here). I can only imagine the retinal damage that would result if I bothered to peel off that protective coating.

54. 1995 Donruss Elite Series #54 #/10000

This year for the first time Donruss went die-cut for their Elite Series, and we ended up with what I consider the elite-est of of all the Elite Series inserts. Of course this set would eventually evolve into its own high-end brand with its own aesthetic, but to me it never looked better than it did in '95.

Here's the back of page 6:

Thanks for reading, and look for page 7 next Friday!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

What's in Your Best Binder Page?

This should be fun.

Create your own Best Binder Page! It's a single binder page containing your nine favorite cards from your collection (yes, cards you already own). Think of it as your "dream page" or a "desert island page."

The other day a friend asked me if I could take one card with me to a desert island, which would I take? Choosing just one was too hard, but I could make a full page work. I started assembling the page in my mind, and eventually got around to actually making it happen:

Page notes: Brand-wise, we have 5 cards from Upper Deck, 2 from Fleer, 1 Topps, and 1 Best. The Beckett value of this page is about $3310 (I had to estimate for two cards, but I'm sure I'm pretty close). I chose these cards based on scarcity, hobby significance, and good ol' sentimental value. Here's a closer look at each card:

1989 Upper Deck #1

A little obvious? Not really - this is the '89 Upper Deck rookie I pulled from a pack when I was a teenager. It's got more karma built-in than every other copy of this card I own, even my wallet card.

1988 Best San Bernardino Spirit
Team Set #1 Platinum /1300

The rarest and most difficult pre-rookie of The Kid there is, if you can find one. And if the one you do find isn't a fake. Yeah, someone made fakes. How lame is that?

1993 Finest #110 Refractor

Baseball's first refractor and a legend among 90's kids who read Beckett. Plus it scans BEAUTIFULLY.

1998 E-X2001 Destination Cooperstown #7

You may expect I'd have chosen the Cut Above insert from '97 E-X2000, but I prefer it's younger brother from '98 E-X2001 which is significantly rarer (and doesn't have a print line).

1996 Ultra Hitting Machine #4 Gold Medallion

The Gold Medallions of 1996 Ultra are notoriously tough pulls. On top of that the parallel was applied to the inserts as well as the base cards. Combining those facts with this rarest insert from that set leaves us with what may be the toughest-seeded card of the 90's. These bad boys fell 1:2880 packs, and even if you pulled one, there were still 10 cards in the checklist, making the Griffey 1:28,800. Here's a great article on this bananas insert.

1994 Upper Deck Griffey/Mantle Dual Autograph

If I really did have to choose one card to take to a desert island, this would be on the short list. The very short list. Like, this very well may be the one.

2009 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection
Ultimate Dual Signatures Autograph
#UDS-15 #/70 (w/ Ken, Sr.)

There are a few Junior/Senior dual autos out there (I have two), but this one is on-card and features the two on their heritage teams.

1997 Upper Deck Game Jersey #GJ1

The first relic on a baseball card, and one of the cornerstones of any serious Griffey collection. The design, the portrait, the tasteful use of gold foil, the Seattle-green jersey swatch - this card is just perfect.

2004 Upper Deck A Piece of History 500 Club
Game-Used Bat Relic #500HR /350

We wrap it up with the astoundingly difficult-to-find 2004 Upper Deck A Piece of History 500 Club bat relic card. This legendary multi-year, multi-set checklist featured some of the greatest sluggers of all time, and at 1:15,000 packs, it's one of the toughest pulls I know of (apart from the exponentially rarer autographed version #/25). You can read more about these cards here. There's really nothing else like it.

So that was my Best Binder Page, but I want to see yours! If this is a problem for any reason, I'd be happy to make you one - just e-mail me the card scans and I'll make an image for you of all your cards in one page (it's easier than you think) and e-mail it back to you so you can post it.

Anyone who decides to make a page of their own, please link to it below so we can all have a look. I also figure this could be an ongoing thing as each of us acquire new cards. For example, if I ever got a hold of a Donruss Crusade Purple Griffey, I would most certainly update my page to show it. This thing's not written in stone.

So go! Scan your page or e-mail me card scans and I'll make you one. I'm excited to see what you guys pick!

EDIT: I should clarify some things per a couple of e-mails I've received.

First, if your card is slabbed or in a case you don't want to remove it from, just send me a straight top-down photo of the card in the slab. Don't worry about cropping out the case - I can do that. If you do insist on cropping it yourself, please leave a few extra millimeters around the edge of the card in case I need to fix the rotation which auto-crops some of the photo edges automatically (unless, again, you plan on fixing the rotation yourself). Also, please try to take the photo with as little glare as possible, preferably none at all as there is not usually glare in a scan. I'll take care of the rest.

Second, every card in the page shown above lives in my safe deposit box in a big, steel bank vault. I happen to have brought a few home for one night to make that scan (they are back in the vault now), but a couple of those cards were not actually in the page when I scanned it. I superimposed previous scans of those cards on an empty page so it looks like they were in it. Heck, the dual auto is slabbed, and we all know slabbed cards (on top of not fitting in binder pages) turn out blurry because the card is away from the glass of the scanner. I cropped that card image out of a photo. The point is that the page will look legit.

Third, if you have a die-cut card, odds are I will not be able to make it look absolutely perfect because there will be a difference in background. It would be best if you scanned just the die-cut cards in a binder page and e-mailed be the entire page scan, empty slots and all. I can make it work from there.

Hope I answered all your questions. Again, looking forward to some impressive Best Binder Pages!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wallet Card Wednesday: Banksy Edition

We were lucky enough to get a visit from graffiti artist Banksy back in 2008. I drive by this particular piece twice a day on Carondelet St. Uptown. One day I finally took the time to pull over, park, and snap a few pics of it.

Here in NOLA we have an anti-graffiti vigilante called "The Grey Ghost" who is infamous for covering up all fresh graffiti, regardless of whether the building owners want him to or not, with ugly gray paint. There was a time when people were rooting for the Ghost, but nowadays I hear more complaints than praise. The owners of this particular wall covered Banksy's work with Plexiglas to prevent the Ghost from getting at it. This is hilarious because one of the only pieces the Ghost can't remove is one that's poking fun at him personally.

You can see all of Banksy's work in New Orleans here. The most famous work that came from his visit, entitled simply "Nola," has become quite a smash in the art world. A 22" x 30" paper print of the piece recently sold for over $24,000. No wonder someone posing as a contractor tried to remove the entire wall one of the original Nola's was painted on.


Monday, November 16, 2015

John Miller, Oddball Thriller: a Trade Post

John "The Killer" Miller of Johnny's Trading Spot about broke my damn mailbox with his most recent trade package. The reason? The guy's got a printing press at his house that churns out innumerable Will Clark oddballs. That's the only reasonable explanation here.

We'll get to that in a minute. First the normal human trading stuff:

My '92 Donruss base set is finished! Now I just need to finish the Diamond Kings from that year and I'll be comfortable calling that one complete. Thank goodness, too. Believe it or not this set was a real bear.

There are SO MANY cards in this oddball set, and they're all numbered #91-dash-something. This is one of the few I didn't have yet. The set is bizarro in that I have no information as to what cards make up this checklist, but it seems the design changes every ten cards, and every single card I've ever come across is a Griffey. It's like a bunch of different 10-cards sets were all mashed into one set and all non-Griffey players were changed to Griffey. Since when is stuff like this allowed in a society??

A buttload of extremely solid Javy's. It appears John found a portal to the Junior Junkie PC honey pot. But wait - there's more:

SEE?!? What did I say? This is just a stupid number of Will Clark oddball cards. And did you catch the mustaches? Well, Will Clark had a mustache that didn't make it onto a lot of Topps cards; but the oddballs were all about that Clarkstache. There's at least two Clarkstaches above and a couple more "plausible" Clarkstaches that are right on the bubble between Clarkstache and Clarkstubble. I call it the Clarkstubble Bubble.

All at once I got almost as many Will Clark oddballs as I have Griffey oddballs. In one package. I chuckled a little at the start when flipping through the Will Clark oddball stack, then my laughter grew and grew as the oddballs just didn't. Freakin'. Stop. Until eventually I sounded like the Steve Martin dentist character when he's all hopped up on nitrous in Little Shop of Horrors, just laughing my ever-loving behind off with Will Clark oddballs, all red-faced and fighting to breathe. It was awesome.

You really are a killer, John Miller, and I owe you a jillion tacos. Thanks a bunch man!