Saturday, September 23, 2017

A Price to Pay

There's always a price to pay when it comes to being a card collector.. It costs us time, money and space- to name just a few. In the worst-case scenario, it comes at the cost of a relationship. While I don't know of anyone personally, I'd be willing to bet someone has lost a spouse because of their out-of-control spending habits on wax or singles.

When I took on my latest collection project (a card of every player to appear in a game for the Mariners & Seahawks), I knew that at some point I'd be forced to over-pay for a card of some Joe Common who appeared in one game and whose only card is hard to come by. After all, if you look at some of the regional oddball Seahawks cards from the '80s and early '90s (including the team issued postcards), you will find some of them feature the only card of a particular player. Pacific was one such manufacturer (and this was before their first mainstream release in 1991). Perhaps you're a Braves or Dodgers team set collector and have had to pay big bucks for that vintage high-numbered series card of a back-up catcher. Yeah, that's the same predicament I have found myself in (although on a smaller scale, price-wise).

I discovered today's card while working on my want list and immediately went to eBay to try to find one. And, not to my surprise, I found some copies- copies that were more than I would like to spend. But when you're committed to something, you go into it knowing that there very well might be a heavy price to pay. Or at the very least, a minimal amount. 

So while I'd much rather have gotten more for my money, I can at least know that the $5+ spent for this card will have been spent more wisely than the $9 it would take to buy that jumbo pack, from which nothing would go into my collection.

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


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


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


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.