Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Dream Come True ... 20 Years in the Making

20 years ago, at 12 years of age, I sat eagerly in the passenger seat while my mom drove me to the Tri Star card show to meet my childhood hero Jose Canseco. 

This was before all the steroid controversy (though, after various dui's, domestic abuse accusations, etc.) - my folks said over and over again that I sure could pick 'em as far as heroes go. 

Mom and I got to the line and asked the following question:

"Do you want to have your picture taken with Jose for $50?" 

DO I EVER!!!!! 

But, money was tight, so we couldn't have that done.  I didn't feel disappointed, though.  I was just excited to meet him. 

Mom recalls the embarrassment (that I don't remember at all, I was star struck) of there being no line of people for him (perhaps we were early or late?), and me zig-zagging, left to right to left through the lines setup all the way until I got to him to sign my 8x10. 

I got to him - now was my chance to leave an impression that would last forever.

"Thank you, Mr. Canseco!"


GASP!!!!  He spoke to me!  Well, uh, kinda at least. 

It probably took an hour and a half to get home about 35 miles away, thanks to downtown being an awful place to drive, but I relived those 7 seconds of my life over and over, oblivious to how long it was taking us to get home. 

Throughout the years, I followed Canseco.  I recall when he got traded to the Rangers.  I thought life was over, and was sure that my folks would allow me to stay home from school and mourn.  I was wrong, so I threw on my A's baseball hat, and Canseco shirt, then pouted all the way there. 

As you probably know, the Rangers wasn't his only stop.  He bounced from the Rangers (as the fly ball did on his head over the wall for a home run) to the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Expos, White Sox, Yankees and Devil Rays. 

As if he didn't have enough controversy surrounding him, the pressure cooker was really turned up *after* baseball.  He was in jail, went bankrupt, blew the whistle on baseball about steroids, and many other things.  Yet through it all, I still followed along. 

As a young baseball fan just starting out at 9 years old, I had a real life super hero to follow, and I loved listening to the A's on the radio at night.  It was like when Canseco was up to bat, everything else just ceased to exist. 

Fast forward up to a few weeks ago, I was browsing the Tri Star site to see what dates it would be in town, and checked the autograph appearances.

Fergie Jenkins, Delino Deshields Jr, Jose Canseco, Carlo.....


Never in a million years would I have ever thought he would have ever come to Houston again to sign.  But he did!  And sure enough - a photo op was available!!!

I spent the next few weeks planning this thing.  What I came up with was this:

- Get an A's jersey to wear

- Bring the 1988 All Star game bat signed by Canseco that my wife bought me several years back for him to pose with (and tell him about it).  The only piece of memorabilia I would never part with!

- Figure out what to have him sign

- Determine how to have him personalize it

I searched ebay for a few weeks, and found the right jersey for the right price, as well as what to have him sign:  an original 1989 World Series baseball.  What could be better?

I didn't want him to just sign it "40/40" or "The Chemist" or "88 MVP".  Those have been done before.  So I started thinking...what should I have him put?

"To my #1 fan, You rock!"


"Keep livin' the dream"

What?  No...

"I love you, man!"


Hmmm...I wonder if he would rub the ball on his sweaty forehead ... or perhaps nuzzle it...GAH!!!

What's wrong with me?!

I got it!!!!

To my Bash Brother Tanner


Looks good to me!

But what if he doesn't do it?  What if he refuses to even hold the bat?  What if the picture sucks?  What if he's a jerk? 

Why do I care so much? 

Oh yeah, because this has some weird direct tie to my childhood. 

So anyway, the day came, and I was able to hit it up with a few other Canseco fans.  Generally, whenever I hear something about Canseco, it is negative, so I tune it out, but it was genuinely nice to connect with other fans. 

So, in typical rock star fashion, Jose comes out - all 6'3 240 lbs of him ... with cowboy boots, shades on, and a silver necklace that looked more like a choker on him. 

I was able ask him if he wouldn't mind posing hold the bat my wife got me for Christmas, and he agreed.  In the picture, I was holding the '89 World Series baseball.  The most significant World Series in my life.

I shook his hand aftewards, and anxiously awaited the picture to be finished processing. 

I got the picture back, and admit I was not happy with it. I was really down about it, but that all changed when I noticed a few people taking pictures with him at the signing table!  I use photoshop quite a bit, so I was able to tweak it a bit to make it a bit better. 

I struck up a conversation with a guy in front of me, and he agreed to take a picture of me and Jose.  I threw up some banter toward Jose and he acknowledged, while chuckling along with me. 
Jose told me to hold up the ball, which I did.  Then he said "Here, hold it so you are showing the signature." 

He is speaking to me!  This is a TON better than the "s'alright" I got 20 years ago.

The guy took a picture, but I was horrified ... my redemption story was about to come to a screeching halt...

"Oh wait ... I took the pic while you were looking down." 

This is getting a little awkward.  Is this dude's arm STILL around me?


"Canseco, I'm sorry - do you mind if we try this one more time?"

"Sure, no problem.  Here, let me hold the ball this time."

<YES!!!! PHEW!!!!> 

"Haha, okay - You are probably better at it anyway."

YAY!!!!!  Redemption! 

As with everything in my life, it didn't work out how it was supposed to...rather, how I thought it should, but it ended up being a fantastic experience anyway.  God is good and merciful to me in many ways ... even in things like this that don't matter one lick in the grand scheme of things. 

My Precious
You can't see it in the picture, but for some reason, he threw up some quotes around my name, so it says:

Jose Canseco #33
To my Bash Brother "Tanner"

Jose, is this a jab at me for being pale?  Oh, Jose - you kidder, you.  You always know how to make me laugh!

So now, I have a fantastic memory of my childhood hero, Jose Canseco.  I may not have shown it on the outside, but as you have likely just finished reading my thoughts, that 12 year old version of me was still alive and kicking on the inside.  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The 12 MILLION Card Deal

Don'cha just love dealing with people onilne?  I have met plenty of fantastic people through Craig's List, various forums, the blogosphere, etc.  but man alive ... there are some real turds out there. 

As a person who regularly partakes in the buying, selling and trading of items, I have come to find that most people are morons. 

Ok, maybe that is taking it a bit far, but I'd estimate that 30% of all folks who say they will get something either stand you up, or their dog died for the 8th time, etc.  The others tend to be real tough guy keyboard warriors, thinking that their 2 cents of negative opinions actually hold any weight.  I'm not even going to go into detail on this ... I just wanted to rant a bit.


Okay, so first, allow me to discuss the 12 million card deal.  I found this dude online, and he said he had purchased a massive inventory from up north, and it was inventory from THREE baseball card shops. 

After speaking with him, he said that he felt it was more like 2 million cards. 

No problem.  How am I gonna house 12 million cards anyway?  (For those of you who know me, the answer is "very carefully" LOL) 

2 million is still a ton, TON of cards.  He mentioned he had about a dozen Walter Payton rookie cards.  Okaaaaayyyyy ... this warrants me taking time off running my biz to check out what this guy has!  He said he would entertain being bought out, which is my specialty.  His warning though, was this - he would like to keep one of the Paytons. 


Hopeful that I'm armed with enough Benjamins to do the job, I drive - it takes me about 40 minutes to get there, and meet him.  He is a very nice and pleasant man, perhaps 25 years my elder. 

I go into the dark garage to see what he has.  Hmmm, nothing too terribly exciting...scratch that ... nothing exciting at all. 

Stacks of 1991 Donruss, and pages of commons/semi-stars ... many of which are damaged from what I would feel comfortable in calling "yuck".  Slimy somethingeruther in some of these card pocket pages.  He mentioned to me that the ruined cards were thrown out, and I was thinking wha???? Most of these are ruined! 

"Though, some of the cards, if they were ruined a bit, I'd keep 'em.  For instance this Wade Boggs ... I don't care what condition it is in; I ain't throwin' it away" <chuckle>  Problem was is the Boggs would have been a penny card ... if mint! 

He mentioned that this was just the tip of the iceburg and that he had TONS more in his office upstairs.  PHEW! 

On the phone, I recalled him saying he had about 20 massive holders of cards holding nearly 100,000 each.  We got upstairs, and the office was filled with cards.  Stacks and stacks and stacks of cards!  He quickly pointed out the tub of rookies and autographs.  YES YES YES

As I dove in, I opened my eyes ... wait a sec ... these aren't cool cards ... this is like ... 1991 Score and 1988 Donruss!  NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!  Digging even further showed many of the cards here even had "yuck" all in them.  The stacks around in the office were all the 90's stuff too. 

Still semi-hopeful, I asked about the Payton rookie cards. 

"Oh, they are in a lock box I keep.  I'm holding onto them." 


He went to the other room to retrieve some other cards ... I still held out hope that he was bringing something good. 

Nope ... golf cards. 

Him: "I have a BIG stack of 1950's and 60's cards in the other room ... "

Me:  "Great!  Let's see them!"

Him: "... but I can't get to them." 


He also let me know that there were a handful of Michael Jordan rookie cards in some pages (I found none) and a Mickey Mantle rookie card somewhere in the cards.  I'm thinking perhaps he was speaking on a Mickey Mouse rookie card, because not a single card I laid my eyes on had any value whatsoever. 

As I was about to make my exit, I noticed something....the amount of wall space that I could see.  Shouldn't 2,000,000 cards look like more?  So I asked him.

"How did you come about your total of 2 mill?" 

Him: "Well, these stacks are of 1,000..."

Me:  "Really?  I don't think so!" 

Him: "Oh, maybe they are 500 ... that's right.  They are 500.  And Each stack in the bins is of 1,000." 

Me:  "Ok ... and these bins each hold about 100,000?" 

Him: "Yup."

I counted stacks out loud of one bin.... 17...18...19. 

ME:  "Ok, so I see you have about 10 bins, and these bins have about 19,000 cards each." 

Him: "Well, you've got to remember I packed the sides in with cards too." 

Me:  "Oh, ok,so that would make about 20,000 per bin, I guess ... with 10 bins, soooo...."

Ahhh, that awkward silence that happens when your math doesn't add up. 

I was quickly ushered out of the house by a client saying he had an email problem, which figures ... one of the few times I leave the office during biz hours ... and it happens when I'm 40 minute away.  Looking a a "yuck" 12 million ... errr... 2 million ... errr... 200,000 card collection with a phantom invisifractor Mickey Mantle rookie card. 

Oh well.  The day was not all a loss.  Why?  Because I kept thinking to myself I will only hit a home run if I keep swinging.  Well, that and because I scored this: 

I found it online the night before from someone who said they went online for $100-$150, but he was negotiable because he needed the money.  We started a marathon of emails back & forth, and it ended up that he was going to take $35 for it.  I looked, and sure enough - he wasn't lying!  The car does in fact sell for $100-$150!

I went to bed dreaming of the card, and realized after a few hours after waking up, that he didn't get back to me.  That is typically how it goes though.  People will not get back with you for anything...ever....unless it is a scam. 

Well, he actually DID end up getting abck with me.  He called saying that he was at the halfway point of where he & I lived with the card, because he anticipated coming up to me to bring the card, because he had to meet someone where he was at to sell some video games. The only way he would be able to drive to me is by getting gas from the cash he got from the games. 

The problem:  He ran into a turd who stood him up.  Glad it isn't just me who finds these guys, but anyway, he was really frustrated because there he was ... stuck with his games and the card, and barely enough gas to get home.  I felt bad, and even though I had a rough day with work & the "12 million card" deal, I agreed to drive up there. 

I met him and grabbed the card.  I told him about all the experiences that I had with people online - about people usually NOT following through with what they say. 

He then told me he dated a LOT of women...from Craig's List (wow!) and had only been stood up once. 

So, at the end of the day, I was able to goto bed with my new Jeter rookie in the fold for a great price, and a frustating, but blog-worthy story. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Trade of the Day

I don't do much trading, but I had reached out to a guy online who was selling his collection.  As it turns out, it was a guy who I had setup next to at a card show I was at.  He had a bunch of older wax and sets he was trying to get rid of. 

He brought up the "x-factor" that all of us collectors have to deal with: 

The wife.

He mentioned that if he sold his collection, his wife would probably end up taking the money, so he'd like to keep it fun, and just keep it all cardboard.  I hear ya, man!

I made an offer to buy him out, and he said he would actually rather trade!  I generally stick with cash, as it is easiest to deal with that way, but I really like this guy; he is easy to do deals with, and I haven't traded for a while, so I figured, what the heck! 

I told him I had hundreds of jersey/autographed cards and hundreds of new wax boxes.  He said he was interested, and would come over the next day. 

The problem was, is that shortly after my conversation with him, someone bought all my jersey/auto cards.  D'oh!  I texted him, and he said he was more interested in the wax anyway.  Phew!

He came over, and we poured over the cards for a while, to find a few of his sets were short, but he was going to go ahead and send me the cards via snail mail when he got back.  Sounds groovy to me. 

In the end, he was able to trade out his crusty, old cards that had been sitting in his closet for possibly years, for some new wax boxes.  He also traded for some plaques I had, which was nice to clear up some garage space.  Well, no - I take that back.  The sets and boxes I got in return ended up taking much more space than what I gave up!

It was nice to see some familiar faces that I hadn't gotten my hands on in a while. 

I'm a sucker for 1989 Upper Deck factory sealed sets!
2 of these were in the collection
Loves me some '87 Fleer
1991 Stadium Club Series 2 case
About the only set I bought w/my dad as a kid that held any type of value!
Finally, a 1995 Bowman set.  I've wanted one of these for a while because of the Vlad rookie!  Sadly, that was the card missing, so he's gonna send it on over, along with a few others shortly.  #cantwait!
There are plenty of others sets / boxes involved in the trade as well, but those were the stand outs.  I'll be selling all these in lots, one by one, and whichever else way I can to get into the black with my massive end of years box purchase.  It is going to be a lot of work, as it always is ... but then again, is it really work?  I have so much fun doing this stuff!