Local Card Show Pickups – March 2020

What a difference a week can make.

The last time things felt even remotely “normal” was one week ago. It was Wednesday night’s (March 11, 2020) news cycle where the news of a potential global pandemic began to ramp up. It was so unbelievable that I had to eventually turn it off. We were being strongly advised to distance ourselves from others and to stay inside our homes if we could do so. This put the weekend’s card show into question. My buddy Matt of Passion 4 Cards fame decided to sit this show out but I decided to drive up there anyways. The show was being held in the cafeteria of a local school and as I pulled into the parking lot, I saw as many cars as I usually do. The show was a go and I was relieved.

I spoke with a handful of vendors and they felt like the attendance was only slightly lower than usual. As I spent a few hours sorting through cards, I could overhear conversations going on around me. Some were concerned, some were not, a few talked as if they were licensed pathologists (they were not).

I was glad that I decided to go. Who knows when I’ll have another opportunity to attend a card show. I have the feeling that life has been forever changed for a lot of people including myself. I’m still processing it all. These will probably be the last cards I buy for a while until things stabilize.

So let’s take a look!

1995 Upper Deck Minors – Matt Brunson

I have a LOT of cards.

Most of which, I just have…because I have them.

Then I have some cards that I have…because I love them. These two cards fall into that category. They don’t feature big names but to me, they are as valued as a Mickey Mantle or a Ken Griffey Jr.

I have seen this Matt Brunson card floating around a few blogs over the years and knew that I needed it. Upper Deck used a beautiful photo and created a card that to me is iconic. Matt Brunson was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 1st round (9th) of the 1993 MLB June Amateur Draft. He would never see a major league field but he can say that he has one of the most exciting baseball cards ever made. I also picked up Wonderful Terrific Monds’ card from the same set. The card is…well, wonderful and with a name like that, one should expect nothing less than. He is the son of former NFL defensive back Wonderful Monds and was drafted by the Braves in the 50th round of the 1993 amateur draft. Monds falls into the same category as Brunson. Neither of them would reach the big leagues. When asked about his teammate, outfielder Dwight Smith once said, “He’ll have pressure to be good all of his life, no matter what he does, whether it’s baseball or marriage or his job, whatever,″ Smith said.

“I’m just glad my name is only Dwight.″

1995 Upper Deck Minors – Wonderful Terrific Monds
1987 Fleer Mini’s

I found a vendor that had a dime-box set up especially for the show. As I pulled up a chair he said, “Keep an eye out, I packed this box up with some surprises.”

I like dime-boxes like that.

This box was loaded with low-grade vintage hall of famers from the 70’s and 80’s as well as a wide variety of oddballs. Some of which are relatively hard to find. I was able to pick up three 1987 Fleer mini’s of players that I collect as well as two Starting Lineup Talking Baseball cards of Gary Carter and Rickey Henderson.

Starting Lineup Talking Baseball was an electronic baseball game that Kenner put out in 1988. When you bought the game, you also received cards of the players featured in each game. I never had it but I remember seeing the commercials every Saturday morning. I did collect a few of the Starting Lineup figures. Gary Carter ended up being turned into Christmas tree ornament and we hang him up every year.

1988 Starting Lineup Talking Baseball
1994 Topps Stadium Club

I hated this set when it came out. I loved the full bleed photos but never understood the combo lettering of typewriter and label-maker font. That was the 1990’s though. These all came from a dime-box. I may have the complete set lying around somewhere but for a dime, I can’t pass up a great single. I have the feeling that I’ll have plenty of time over the next month to take an inventory of my collection.

1993 Donruss “Spirit of the Game” & 1993 Upper Deck “Iooss Collection”

Full bleed photos always catch my eye. I had to pick up these six insert cards. In 1993, Donruss featured the 20 card “Spirit of the Game” insert set in packs. Each card features an action shot of the play on the front of the card and then another capture from the same play on the back. Upper Deck teamed up with famed photographer Walter Iooss to produce a 26 card insert set. From 1968 through 1972, Iooss was an in-house photographer for Atlantic Records in New York, where his subjects included performers like James Brown, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. In 1982 he would leave his position at Sports Illustrated to work exclusively for Fujifilm on a project in which he would document athletes working their way towards the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

In 1997, Fleer would partner with Sports Illustrated to produce a 180 card set. This would be the first set in a three-year partnership between SI and Fleer. The set features photographs taken from the archives of Sports Illustrated magazine. Kevin Brown’s card is one of the better ones in the set. We also see Baltimore Oriole Brady Anderson giving it his best to pull in an obvious home run. I’m not sure which stadium this is but I know it’s not Camden Yards. It’s a great photo as he at the same spot on the outfield wall as the Oriole’s logo. Sandy Alomar Jr has so many great cards out there. Pinnacle did a nice job with this on for their 1994 set.

Let’s take a look at four horizontal cards that I picked up for a buck. Chris Taylor grew up right down the street from me here in Virginia Beach so naturally, I collect his cards. I love this base version of his 2019 Topps Big League card. When I saw this “artist rendition” version in a quarter box, I had to grab it. The next three were picked up for a quarter a piece as well. The 2016 Topps Mark Trumbo is one of the most beautiful cards in that set. Some collectors disliked the “white fog” that Topps used on the card design but I think in this case, it works great. The 2011 Topps set featured some stellar photos and the overhead shot of Henry Blanco is a prime example. I also love the perspective on Clayton Richard’s base card.

I also picked up three relic cards for $3 a piece. Relic cards aren’t really something that I collect anymore. It’s hard to know how legitimate the “relic” actually is these days. I picked these up because I collect the players. I do love the design of the Ryan Zimmerman 2018 Topps Museum Collection. The relic is described as “Game Used Memorabilia” on the front. The back of the card states that the memorabilia is “not from any specific game, season, or event.” That being said, I was happy to find it for $3.

There was a time when Gregg Jeffries was THE next baseball super star. At least that’s what collectors thought in 1987. He played AAA baseball here in Norfolk, Virginia in 1987 and 1988 for the Tidewater Tides. I saw him play quite a few times and he was always great to the fans. I picked up these three oddballs for a quarter. Note the differences in how his name was spelled. The same goes for the Mattingly’s below. All three for a quarter.

One of the last tables I stopped at had a small two-row box simply labeled “VINTAGE – 50% OFF”. I’ve seen deals like this before and even with the 50% off, the price is usually a bit more than I’m willing to spend. Today must have been my lucky day. None of the cards had price tags on them.

I pulled a few cards out and asked the dealer what the damage would be for all of them. He said $20. I gave him $25 because honestly, when you’re sitting there holding cards of Sandy Koufax and Ted Williams, you expect a higher price tag.

All in all, it was a pretty good show for me despite the global pandemic fears just starting to register with everyone. I would expect that I’ll have some more time to spend with my cards over the next month or two. Look for some new updates to this blog.

Stay safe out there folks!

Completed Set – 2009 Topps Gallery

This is one of those sets that I wasn’t sure I even wanted to complete. I had picked up some singles that I absolutely loved from some dime-boxes at my local card show and thought that I might like to collect the rest of the base set. As I got deeper into the set over the years, I realized that while the set had some real standout cards, the majority of the set was fairly boring in terms of compelling photography. Despite that, with only 100 base cards and 50 SP’s to the checklist, I continued to slowly forge ahead.

A few weeks ago I slid the final card into it’s sleeve which completed a near 20 year project. That final card? Greg Maddux.

I was fortunate enough to find this card in a quarter box at a local card show. The card is easily found online and it was on my list to pick up at some point. Fortunately, it was just sitting there in a stack of random Maddux cards. I like a lot of things about this card. For one, it’s a very unique shot of a Hall of Fame pitcher. Maddux was actually a very good hitter in his day. It’s also cool to see him attempting to break up a double play. Most pitchers wouldn’t bother subjecting themselves to such a slide given how risky it would be to injure themselves. I’m also a sucker for cards that frame the shot to show nothing but infield dirt. This one comes awfully close.

I’ll highlight a few of my personal favorites in the set.

Vlad’s card is probably my 2nd favorite card in the set. Just a crisp shot of him rounding second or maybe first base. I love how the black outfield wall serves to really make the image pop. We’ve also got a nice shot of the Captain battling the sun as he tracks an infield fly. I had a pair of those flip-down sunglasses when I was a center fielder. They were more of a pain than anything else. I also like this shot of Javy Lopez adjusting his gear between innings. 1999 would come to a close as the Yankees swept the Braves in the World Series.

I love the way Topps framed this shot of Frank Thomas. The Hall of Famer was a consistent home run hitter for most of his career but 1999 was not his best season. As Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa launched baseballs out of major league ballparks at an astonishing pace, Thomas managed only 15 home runs in 1999. I love cards featuring players at Wrigley Field. This shot of Mark Grace showcases the brick wall that runs the perimeter of the field. The Cubs would finish dead last in their division in 1999. Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman was known for many things during his career: his leadership, his changeup, and his character. I love this shot featuring his picture perfect mechanics. Hoffman was an All Star in 1999 and put 40 saves in the books for San Diego as the Padres finished fourth in their division.

I always find Wade Boggs in a Tampa Bay Devil Ray uniform a strange sight. He will always be a member of the Red Sox to me. Here we see him watching Mike Heath try to frame an outside pitch. Given Boggs’ talent at the plate, one can pretty confidently assume that this pitch was a ball. Had it been a strike, it would have been in play already. I had picked up this great card of Sandy Alomar at a local card show a few months ago. I always look for great catcher cards to add to my “catcher collection”.

The one thing I remember about the 1999 baseball season was Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire continuing to rack up home runs. I’ve read countless articles, books and heard stories about the 1961 home run chase involving Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. At the time, the country was captivated with the race to break Babe Ruth’s single season record of 60 home runs. People were glued to their radios as they listened to see who would put another one out of the park. The morning ritual for many was to first grab the paper and check the box scores. It was a different time that’s for sure. Maris eventually broke the record, hitting his 61st home run on October 1, the season’s final day.

I was a sophomore in college in 1998 and I remember feeling the same excitement as baseball fans in 1961. Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire had captivated the sports world with their quest to beat the Babe. If the Cardinals or the Cubs happened to have a day game that I could catch, class was usually traded in for the game. At the time, cell phones were still heavy bricks with no internet so I couldn’t get updates every minute of every game like I can today. Instead of checking the box scores in the paper every morning, I had to endure the painful log-on sounds of dial up internet to see which of the two sluggers was leading the race. McGwire would end up beating Sammy with 70 home runs. Sosa ended the season with 66. That was a fun time.

I also wanted to include the second weirdest Ken Griffey Jr. card in my collection. Why would Topps give this photo the green light?

What’s the MOST weird Griffey Jr. card in my collection? Lookin’ at you 1998 Upper Deck…

I’ll close out this post with my favorite card from the set. Topps did a great job of framing Guillen with the lush ivy covering the outfield wall of Wrigley Field. This is easily one of my “Top 50 Favorite Cards”.