Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Trade of Thrones

It's been a while since I've done any online trading, but that didn't stop me from reaching out to Chris from Nachos Grande recently to inquire about some cards of King Felix. I've been slowly going through a reorganization project and found a card I thought the fan of Reds might like: a 2010 Topps variation of Johnny Bench. A deal was struck and a short time I received a PWE full of the King.






I was quite surprised upon opening the PWE that Chris had sent. I originally inquired about three Felix cards: the two Lineage cards above, as well as the 2008 Stadium Club card shown below. I wasn't expecting the Bowman Chrome, nor the custom Munnatawket Baseball Bats card. As you can see by the note, the custom card was something a friend of his had created. Didn't he do a fantastic job?



The King may never return to his 2010 form (or even his 2008 form), but at least we still have cardboard that depicts that young ace.

Got Felix to trade? Let me know and maybe we can work out a trade.




Thanks again, Chris, for the trade. 



Friday, September 15, 2017

Mule Time


I used to go to just about every rock concert that hit Boise between 1984 and 1992, but have been to less than a dozen since those glory years. Tonight marks the second since July- and will be the second time I've seen Gov't Mule live (the first coming in Portland four years ago). To say that I'm excited is an understatement and I thought I'd share some of the excitement by showing off something of theirs I added to my collection recently.




This awesome signed copy of the band's most recent CD came via Newbury Comics. The band's twitter account announced that there was limited signed copies available through the music store. I immediately got online and snagged one for about $16 or so- which is a great deal considering I got the signed  CD cover, along with the delux CD (which had the  alternative cover).

I know guys who have every ticket and every T-shirt from every concert they've attended. I only wish I had kept a piece of history like that- I did for awhile but then threw them away- but I do have the ticket from Mule's gig at the Roseland Theater in October of '13. Unfortunately, tonight's ticket was printed off the computer and just isn't the same as the 'old school style' ones.





I'll leave you with Thorns of Life- my favorite song off the new album.





Thursday, September 14, 2017

The A & B's (and yes, a C) of Using Sportlots

I've been using Sportlots for a few years now and it's become my number one source for cards. If you've ever bought off of the site, you know that it's a great resource for most cards, particularly base cards. You're probably also aware that you have to do a little bit of searching in order to maximize your savings with shipping costs. For larger purchases, I've started using a spreadsheet (Google Sheets) when shopping.

I begin by doing a search of a particular card and then copy the condition, price, qty and dealer name, and then paste it under the card info. I'll do this for as many cards as I'm interested in. Once finished, I'll flip back and forth between tabs, checking shipping costs and the maximum number of cards under one cost for a given dealer. When I feel I'm ready to begin filling the cart on the sportlots website, I'll highlight all of the info on the spreadsheet and then click Command F (on a Mac). Doing this will allow me to search for all the cards I'm interested in that a particular seller might have. It can be a little time consuming, but I feel like it's the best way for me to get the most out of my collecting dollar.





I did this to purchase a number of cards for my newest projects- The Hawk's Nest (all-time Seahawks roster) and the U.S.S. Mariner (all-time Mariners roster). It amounted to 21 cards for a little over $11, from 6 different sellers. Unfortunately, one of the sellers couldn't find the card I'd ordered from him, making it only 20 received for approximately $8.50.





One of the conditions I set up for this project was no cards of players in other uniforms, but, as I found with Bradford, sometimes that's the only card that lists them as a Seahawk. Or, as the case with the former Bucs running back, every card listing him with Seattle shows him in a Tampa uni. I'll accept this and put him in the binder.




One of my favorite things about things like this is discovering that a player only appeared on one card as a member of your team. This was the case for Kim Allen and Rick Anderson. It makes the decision easy as to which card to include for that player.






In announcing my new projects, I also mentioned how I'd like to have a variety of card products,  represented. So there will be junk like the Score football below (Burleson) or Fleer above (Glenn Abbott) that I'd otherwise not collect. 







Then again, it might also help me in a renewed appreciation for products like Ultra and a number of different Pacific products. For team collectors, Pacific was a godsend, as they would often have some of the more obscure players. I have a feeling I'll be acquiring a lot of Pacific cards for these binders.




So there you go... some guys whose last names begin with 'A', others with 'B', and even a 'C'. And a few simple, albeit time consuming, steps in shopping on a budget.



Thursday, September 7, 2017

Base(ball) Oddity #46: Ray Fosse and the Phantom Brewers Card

Most of my viewing habits when I was younger consisted of comedies, but they have since been replaced by crime dramas and mysteries (oh, and horror). It's funny, now that I'm older and more jaded, you'd think comedies would be my preference, but I digress. Anyway, as a young lad there was one mystery show that was 'must-see tv' (before that was a phrase) each week: Scooby-Doo. Okay, so it was a cartoon and the plot structure was the same each week. But 48 years later, it's still in production. You can't argue with success.

Let's just recap any given episode, shall we?

Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and our hero, Scooby-Doo, arrive at any given location in their groovy van, the Mystery Machine. Once there, they discover that the locals have been terrorized by a supernatural creature. The group will then split up as they begin looking for clues; a chase scene will occur; the group will catch the villain and then unmask him or her. This villain is usually someone from the town whom the kids (were they kids?) had encountered earlier and who, as they're being cuffed, proclaims (everybody, with me) "and I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for you meddling kids." Mystery solved- at least until next week.

As I was going through the Mariners all-time roster, working on my USS Mariner project, I came across a player whom I didn't realize had donned the trident- Ray Fosse. The catcher, best known for the collision with Pete Rose during the 1970 All-Star game, was acquired from Cleveland by the first year team and spent the final three weeks of the '77 season with Seattle. During those three weeks, Fosse appeared in 11 games for the Mariners, collecting 36 plate appearances while batting .353 with 5 RBI. The M's granted Ray free-agency after their debut season and he would eventually sign with Milwaukee. An injury during Spring Training of 1978 would cost him the entire season, but the backstop would return to play (very little) for the Brew Crew during his final MLB season.


I don't own this card, thus the borrowed picture from COMC

So, back to the project... unfortunately there is no card of Fosse as a Mariner. He did have two cards during the 1978 season- this Hostess card and a Topps card, but both listed him as a member of the Brewers.  Looking at this food-issue favorite, I was driven to pull out my detective/sleuth hat and pipe and get to business.

My hope was that this photo was from his time with the M's (the colors on the v-neck), but that theory dissolved quickly. First, this looks like it could be from spring training, and Ray only spent a few weeks with Seattle (in late summer/early fall). Second, like the hat, the v-neck appears to have been airbrushed. Third, the jerseys in the back ground appear to be gold, as in the uniform of the Oakland A's, whom Ray played for from '73-'75. As I searched out photos of Fosse with the A's, I had a hard time determining that this was taken while in Oakland (going primarily by his hair/facial hair styles and how aged his face appears). It could be as a member of the Indians, but how do you explain those gold jerseys in the background? Perhaps the teams shared a training facility? Nope, Oakland trained in Mesa, while Cleveland called Sun City their spring training home.

My conclusion is this was from '75, while with Oakland. One thing I do know- Topps tried to mask this photo and they would have gotten away with it, if it wasn't for us meddling collectors.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Projects

They say that weekends are the perfect time for home improvement projects- and I suppose that hold true even more so during holiday weekends. Turn on the tv or open your Sunday paper and you seem to get bombarded with sales ads for those holiday projects. For the collector, the weekend is also a perfect time to start a project. But for me, it's just an opportunity to continue a project that's already in progress.

I have recently been forced to re-evaluate my collection. As I mentioned in a recent post, my wife has gone into business for herself and as a result, I decided to sacrifice some of my office space for her Scentsy inventory. What this means is the space I had dedicated to my complete sets has been dramatically reduced, leaving me to rethink my collecting goals. Had this not forced a decision, I would eventually have to make a decision regarding those sets; this just expedited the process.

Not only did I decide that I can no longer dedicate space for the run of Topps sets, I also decided to start two new collecting projects: one I'm calling The Hawks Nest, and the other I'm calling The USS Mariner. While collecting team sets isn't nearly as space-consuming as  complete sets, they still take up a lot of space. So these two projects are really just a way to be a team collector, but on a smaller scale. In other words, it's an all-time roster on cardboard. One card for every player to suit up for my two teams. Now instead of having 45 cards of Joey Galloway or Freddie Garcia, I'll only have one in each respective binder.

Sounds simple enough, doesn't it? But I'm going to make it a little more difficult on myself by setting up certain restrictions. Because I'm still collecting Topps (flagship) team sets for each (and Donruss 2016-, since Topps is no longer making football cards), flagship cards are not allowed, unless it's the only card made of a player as a Mariner or Seahawk. I want to try to keep the projects as diverse as possible, so I'm trying to have as many card sets represented as possible- which means I will not discriminate against such sets as Pacific, Fleer, Donruss ('94-) and other such atrocities. The card must picture them as a member of the team (again, unless no other card exists) and no minor league cards are allowed. One of the more difficult aspects of this project will be for those players who have only one or two cards made, which were regional or team-issued cards. Some of those can be very expensive.

How do I come up with such a list? Well, I visited the website for each team and copied their all-time rosters. I then printed them off and am in the arduous task of visiting the Trading Card Database website, keying in the player's name, and then choosing which one I would like to add to the collection. I've also used COMC for some visuals.

As far as the project names... the Hawks Nest is a bar & grill in Pioneer Square, near Century Link Field. I want to say it was there even back in the team's early days (I seem to remember us walking by it as we attended games at the Kingdome in the late 70s/early-mid 80s). The USS Mariner reference... it was a fixture at the Kingdome from 1982-1989 and sat just beyond the center field wall. The cannon would fire after the National Anthem and after every Mariners home run.

Anyway, that's where I'm at with the collection right now. I still have some player collections I'm working on, too. I'm in the middle of creating spreadsheets that will serve as a checklist for those I have and a 'want list' for those still in need. I'll have them up on the blog soon, hopefully.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Base(ball) Oddity #45: Assessments Gone Bad

When my predecessor at work was getting ready to retire and I was hired to replace him, one of the first things my bosses told me was to not be surprised when I hire someone who interviewed well and had good references, only to find out they are a horrible hire. Needless to say, they were correct and I have made a couple of those bad hires. Making poor assessments are going to happen whenever you're asked to evaluate someone or something.




Someone was asked to make an evaluation of which Griffey rookie card would be the best investment in the long run and boy, did they miss it on this one. As you can see, the SCD Pocket Price Guide recommend Junior's Fleer card. I don't know what the prices were at the time of publication but I can't see any way that the ugly grey card would be better than the iconic Upper Deck rookie card.




Anyway, this is the most recent addition to my Griffey collection. Five bucks, shipped, for an oddball rookie card? No way that's a bad decision on my part.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Association

Like most of you, there are certain songs that bring back memories of certain people and/or events. Perhaps it's an old girlfriend or something that happened during an evening out with your buddies; perhaps you associate a song with a movie or tv show. I will forever think of The Soprano's finale whenever I hear Journey's 'Don't Stop Believing'. Another of my top 3 favorite shows, Dexter, will always come to mind whenever I hear the song 'Rita is Gone' by the Marcus King Band.




There are also certain things that I associate with various card sets- one of the strangest being grocery stores. When I think of 1992 Stadium Club baseball, I think of a Circle K in a small rural town about 17 miles southwest of my town; an independent grocer about 17 miles northwest of me is where I bought a lot of 92 Ultra baseball. And then there is 1991 Pro Set Platinum football.




There was a small neighborhood market just a few hundred feet from where I grew up. It was a place where I spent many an hour during the early 80s, feeding quarters into the Donkey Kong machine; it was the place where my mother would send me- note in hand- to buy a pack of smokes for her (yes, you could actually get away with it at the time). Unfortunately, the place burned down around 1998 and the owner never rebuilt (Walmart came to town around that time...thanks, Wally World). But before the fire destroyed what was one of those few remaining childhood hangouts, I was able to find a football product that I had had troubles finding elsewhere. This was actually quite a few years before the store burned down, and the product was 1991 Pro Set Platinum football. While products like Upper Deck and Leaf introduced 'premium' into collectors' vocabulary, Topps and Pro Set introduced us to 'Super Premium' with Stadium Club and Platinum, respectively.

We all know the success that Stadium Club would enjoy over the next decade+ (and the renewed success it's enjoying among collectors today), but Platinum didn't live a very long life. After one year, Pro Set replaced it with a product called Power for the 1992 and 1993 season before folding in 1994 after filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Despite its short-lived success, the memory of Pro Set (and other manufacturers and sets) live on, both in our binders and in our memory banks.


Getting back to song association... I only discovered the music of the Marcus King Band about three months ago. I was able to see them live about a month later and I've got to say, they were one of the best live acts I've had the pleasure of seeing. Really tight. If you enjoy your rock with some blues and jazz influence (in the vein of the Allman Brothers and the Black Crowes) then you will like these guys. And an fyi, I read an interview where Marcus (the 21 year-old singer/guitarist) stated that this song was inspired by the Dexter series.




Monday, August 28, 2017

Senses

My wife recently decided to become an independent consultant for Scentsy- a locally based business that specializes in wickless candles and scented fragrance wax for electric candle warmers and scented natural oils and diffusers. We've used the products for years and have been very happy with them, so she decided to "join the team." Thus, it's been all about Scentsy in our house for a few weeks now.

With a large amount of product being passed in front of my nose I can't help but have scents (and senses) on the mind. Err... on the nose? Whatever the case might be, it's got me thinking about our hobby, and how cards can affect our senses. Some might say they came to their senses and stopped buying new products, but I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about how our bodies receive sensory information. You know... those sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touch by which we perceive our environment.





I recently picked up some Seahawk inserts from 2017 Donruss football and I've got to say that I came away very impressed with the product. 
I still wish that Panini would do something different with their card backs, but I guess it's no different than what other companies have done in the past: you find something that is your own and just go with it. Donruss did it in their early days, as did Fleer (just to name two). 





The first thing that jumped out at me about these particular cards was how much green was included on the card fronts. Lots and lots of green. But with it being a part of the team's color scheme, it's something I've come to accept. It could be worse- colors like purple, orange, or yellow are much more of an assault to my peepers.





At some point I need to make the decision on where these cards will go. Do they go into a team binder, with the Donruss team set- or will they go into penny sleeves and toploaders and into the boxes with my player collections? First world collector problem, I know. But as much as I like to thumb through binders to look at my collection, there's a part of me that likes to hold the cards (or the top loaders that they are housed in) as I look at them. Cards such as these Gridiron Kings were made to be touched. Like the earlier incarnations of Topps Gallery, these cards have a matte surface. Gallery, when done right, was a fantastic product- and these Gridiron Kings are right there with them.




My goodness, that's an awful lot of color for just one card.



Shiny, and gold. Almost too much for my tastes.




Okay, I must admit I was a little disappointed with these. I loved the idea of the homage to the '81 baseball set, but the gold foil has to go. Also, throw in the yellow border and color rush uniform on the Sherman card.... horrible.




The only baseball card among the auction lot I won. Looks better in hand- and if you get a chance to see the orange parallel in person...I was pleasantly surprised how much they pop.




Another card featuring a color rush uniform. These 'Hawks unis are certainly loud and I think the NFL could certainly do without this cash grab.

Let's see, I referenced touch, sight and the auditory senses... now if only some of these had come out of a wax pack with bubble gum.






Saturday, August 5, 2017

It's So Easley

See me hit you, you fall down... ~ Guns 'n Roses It's So Easy

This is the second (or third) year in a row that my wife hasn't gotten me any cards for my birthday. I guess that's what happens when you have needs, rather than just things you want. But that's okay, because I got a 1989 Score Young Super Stars card of The Kid in the mail today, am going to my favorite restaurant tonight (Olive Garden- Tours of Italy will be destroyed, with wine to wash it down) and the NFL Class of 2017 will induct a Seahawks great (and one of my favorite players as a kid) into the Hall of Fame tonight.






















Aging isn't easy. As I recently lamented, the mind isn't as sharp as it used to be, but there are certain memories that seem to be indelibly stamped into the brain. Some of the most fond memories I can recall took place in the year 1987, the year I graduated high school. It was also the end of one-hard hitting era (Kenny Easley's final season), and the beginning of another hard-hitting era (Guns n' Roses debut album released in July of that year).





A lot has happened in those last thirty years. Marriage, children, career. And while many things have changed during that time period, a couple things remain the same: my love for the Seahawks (especially heavy hitters, like Kenny!) and my love for hard rock music (and heavy hitters like GnR).




It's been a long time for Kenny Easley to wait for his induction, but it was well deserved and, hopefully, well worth the wait for him. Congratulations, Enforcer. The 12's will be watching tonight.



So damn easy.





Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Cards from the National



Ask most collectors if they would like to attend one of the Nationals (NSCC) and the overwhelming majority would probably respond, "of course." And who can blame them? When collectors claim, "if you can't find what you're looking for at the National, it probably doesn't exist", they're probably speaking more truth than hyperbole. And with most of us having wantlists with hard to find items, the prospect of finding those elusive treasures thrill us like nothing else. Plus, who doesn't enjoy fellowship with other card (or memorabilia) nerds?






I have never been to the National and, at least for the foreseeable future, don't plan on attending. My reasoning is two fold: it's impossible for me to take time away from work for any extended period during July and August, so unless the show gets moved to, say, April to mid-June, I won't be able to attend. The second reason is financially driven. Living out west means booking a flight and hotel- not to mention food and any other expenses. Plus, I couldn't justify going without taking plenty of cash for any purchases at the show itself. And, being on a limited card budget, that would mean going the other 51 weeks during the calendar year without buying any other cardboard. No thanks.







But not all is lost. We live in the age of the internet, which means we can find almost anything we want- all from the comfort of our living room, office or on our cell phone while at the stop light. Why, I was able to purchase the two 2017 NSCC Griffey cards pictured above from home. And for a heck of a lot less than any other expenses I would have had on a trip to Chicago.

One of the sellers included some extra cards with my bubble mailer. I hadn't seen any of the 2017 Diamond King set but really like the Originals- even if Boggs face looks a little off. And the Aurora..it really is a beautiful card in-hand, especially the back. 










So while I didn't go to the National this year, I was certainly able to bring the National home to me- through both photos on social media and with cardboard through the mail.

Now, if the NSCC would come to Seattle, Portland or Salt Lake City, well, that might be a different story.



Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Pack Wars of a Different Kind


The worst thing about getting older has been the mind isn't as sharp as it used to be (not like it was that sharp to begin with). I've recently found myself grasping for a word (oatmeal) that I just couldn't find, made a few different purchases of newer cards that I had just bought like a week earlier, and congratulated myself on today's witty title- only to then realize I had conflated two movies (Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, for all you youngsters). At least there was a silver lining to those extra card purchases: they provided trade material for the cards featured on today's post.





Shawn, aka 'Corky', from the blog Pack War recently made contact to inform me he had the card that sat on the top of my most elusive list (although it wasn't necessarily the most wanted) and that it (along with others from the set) was available for trade. It was quite mind-tripping to know that I wasn't alone in possessing some of the 1991 Seattle Mariners Hearth Country set. Singles from oddball sets like these can be very difficult to find and I really appreciated Corky's gesture. The Bankhead card, long lost, made its way back home- reunited with all the other cards in the set. 




Scott Bankhead wasn't the only player that Corky sent to me. He also surprised me with this Topps Now card of two Hall of Famers: Griffey Jr and Tony Gwynn. I wasn't aware that this card had been created in celebration of the All-Star game returning to San Diego last year.





At the height of my collecting days (early-mid 90s), I bought a lot of packs, a lot of boxes, but very rarely took part in pack wars. This was one pack war where both contestants came out on top.

Thanks again, Shawn, for the great trade. And here's to future trades.





"Lights Out"- UFO, featuring the phenomenal Michael Schenker on guitar. 






Friday, July 28, 2017

Maybe it's Time to Rethink Tradition

While many collectors spent their Thursday at the National, this collector was walking the aisles of Target. Yes, cards were on my mind, but the reason for this trip was out of necessity. My Epson printer/scanner was out of blank ink, rendering even the scanner useless. In the market for a new printer? Don't purchase an Epson. My trusty old HP never did that.

Okay, on to better things... 

Before checking out, I decided to hit the card aisle. I mean, what would a trip to Target be without checking out packs and blasters?

What do I spy, but 2017 Stadium Club! Finally.

I had made a couple of trips to Walmart recently, in search of the glorious product, only to walk away disappointed. And now that I find some, I have to decide whether I'll buy multiple packs or just a single pack. No matter how badly I want to purchase a handful of packs, I walk to the checkout counter with just a single, 5-card pack.



Two days earlier I checked my Facebook feed during lunch and decided to share a post from the Idaho Statesman regarding Donald Trump speaking at the Boy Scouts Jamboree. My response was simply, "they should have seen this coming. Why didn't they just break from tradition and not invite him to speak. Some traditions aren't worth the hassle."

I thought of my comment again last night as I opened this pack. Not concerning Donald Trump, mind you, but about set collecting. And it wasn't the only time I've thought about this in recent days.

There's been a sense of tradition for me in collecting Topps' flagship set. Sure, I took a break for a few years, but Topps has been my primary card mistress all these years- dating back to my childhood. But I have to ask at what point is enough enough? Design is important in judging a set, but so is photography- and flagship is starting to bore the hell out me. Every photo looks the same; and those that are interesting seem to be SSPs.

When Topps went borderless in 2016, I eventually accepted it and thought, "maybe it is time to break from tradition." Now my thinking is, "maybe it is time to break from tradition- and begin to collect Stadium Club as my annual set."


Friday, July 7, 2017

Nautical Needs: 2016 Stadium Club

A recent purchase on Sportlots netted me a few singles that were needed to finish off a couple of team sets. Or, shall I say the base team sets; inserts from both sets are still needed.





I've seen various comments on the internet from collectors who would like to see the return of Topps Total, or an all-Negro League set, or an all-retired players set- all of which are good ideas- but one set I'd like to see would be an "all-fun" set: cards with photos of players blowing bubbles, signing for fans, or any other number of crazy antics. That would be asking too much, however, so we'll just have to settle for the occasional 'fun' card in products like Stadium Club or SP's SSPs out of flagship Topps.





The Ketel Marte card... I pulled the autographed version from one of my two hobby boxes last year, but since that doesn't count towards the base team set, I had to pick this one up.  And with it, my base team set is now complete.






Needs- 2016 Stadium Club
Beam Team #BT07 Robinson Cano

Have any of your own needs from the base set? I have quite a few singles, so let me know what you need and I'll take a look.

Thanks for visiting.





Wednesday, July 5, 2017

No License Required

Thanks to government regulations, it's getting dang near impossible to start or operate a business in America today. Hell, it's getting damn near impossible to just live your life without some kind of license or permit being required. And lest you think that it's just the federal government that's out of control with bureaucratic red-tape, think again. All of us have heard stories about children's lemonade stands being forced to close due to the lack of a permit  or some town in California that requires a permit if you want to park in the streets between 2am-5am. One city- Milwaukee, Wisconsin-  requires businesses that are closing to acquire a license to announce they're going out of business. And just as it is with the taxman, the bureaucrats have got you coming in and they've got you going out.







One sphere where there is a dearth of licenses is in the sports card world. On this, I think there is 100% agreement.

Most of the non-licensed (league-licensed, that is) stuff that is released these days are poorly done, in my opinion. Team colors are off, there are too many photos being used where it's obvious that the team name/logo has been airbrushed, draft pick sets of players no one has ever heard of. But done right, unlicensed products can be a good thing. I love the oddball/food-issue sets from the '80s and '90s, most of which did not have an MLB license, but were nevertheless done tastefully. 







Panini got it right on the Cano and Johnson cards. In fact, the only way a newcomer to the hobby (who's not aware of the licensing issues) might become suspicious by the lack of a logo is on Robbie's helmet- and that looks like the 'S' could be blotted out by the reflection of lights.

I'll also say this: the odds of me collecting an unlicensed product are much higher if the company issues something with a retro design. I'm probably not alone in saying that, either. Nostalgia plays a huge part in the hobby, and I don't think it's a coincidence that Panini and Leaf often go back to the well from which they had earlier success. Now, it could be due to laziness- that the creative juices just aren't flowing- but I don't think that's the case (or entirely the case).







While licensed products are (by far) the most popular ones in the hobby, you can still find cards that will convince you that a license isn't required in order to make an attractive set (or, insert set). 




Tuesday, July 4, 2017

A Glove, a Bird and a Book

I was speaking to a friend at the card show I attended back in May and, over the course of our conversation, told him we were getting ready to go on vacation to the Oregon coast. He asked me where we were going and when I told him one of the towns would be Newport, he suggested I go to the Antique Mall. "I'm aware of the place," I said. "We've been there a number of times." He went on to me of the good buys he had found while there on their recent trip.

The "Antique Mall" is really just a big, indoor flea market with everything from tools, to clothing, to antiques and collectibles. Lots of junk, but there is plenty of good stuff to be found, if you take your time to search its maze. And the way it's set up, with the different vendors set up, it is like a maze.

As we rolled in to Newport, we decided to stop by the Antique Mall before continuing north to Lincoln City. It was just as I had remembered it from the last time we were there, which had been four years ago. Immediately upon entering the store, I saw the first sportscard vendor's set and perused the display case and shelf for a while, before moving on through the rest of the store. As we were towards the back of the store, my eyes caught something: baseball gloves. I picked up the first one and noticed it was a Ron Cey model. The asking price was way too high ($15) for as poor of shape it was in; the back of the mitt was peeling reallying bad and wasn't worth but maybe $5. The other glove was in much better shape and as I turned it over I saw a name on it that I certainly didn't expect to see. Mark "The Bird" Fidrych. The asking price on it was much more reasonable ($10), but I decided to hold off from buying it. I did, however, take photos of each to tag a couple of individuals on Twitter, both of whom I knew would be interested in the finds.





I tagged Night Owl on it later and he replied it was a 'keeper'. Too bad the glove looked like mice had attacked it; had the Cey model been in better shape, I would have bought it for Greg. The other individual tagged was journalist and author Dan Epstein, known for his books Big Hair and Plastic Grass:A Funky Ride through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s and Stars and Strips: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of '76. Many of you are probably aware of Dan's writings and have perhaps seen him on any number of baseball documentaries (Doc Ellis: No No; Lenny Randle: The Most Interesting Man in Baseball; Mark Fidrych: The Bird). I was well aware of his love for Fidrych, and when he responded; "I'd pay $10 for that glove", I decided to offer it as a gift to him. I asked him to DM me his address and I'd send it his way. He obliged and was very grateful, thanking me again for my kind and generous act. I told him to prove it wasn't altogether altruistic (I kidded- I really had no ulterior motives), would he be willing to sign my copy of Stars and Stikes for me, if I were to include a pre-paid envelope. Dan was more than happy and asked if there was any player or team from the era that I'd want him to reference in the signature. Since the Mariners didn't start their maiden voyage until '77, I suggested The Bird. I mean, how can I not have Dan Epstein reference the Tiger phenom in a book about the 1976 season?!!

A couple of weeks later, the envelope arrived in my mailbox and sure enough, Dan was kind enough to sign the book and include another interesting piece. 






The piece that showed up that I wasn't expecting was this very cool HOF postcard of none other than Bill Veeck.

 



































The cards Dan referred to were a couple of customs I did on the Topps website. I was in the process of creating a 'Guitar Greats' set of my favorite axe slingers before Topps caught on and would no longer produce them for me. The two that I did create were Vivian Campbell and John Sykes, both of whom played for Thin Lizzy at various points. Sykes actually played with the band while Phil Lynott was still alive; Campbell, in the reincarnated TL from 2010-2011. I knew that Dan is a huge fan of the band and thought he might appreciate the cards.         


Anyway, we're now forty-one years removed from that bicentennial year, but I want to wish each and every one of you a Happy 4th of July!