Friday, August 14, 2015

Mantle, Maris and Jackie Robinson - Need I say more?

For reasons I do not wish to get into publicly, this past decade has had many years of pain and agony.  It is funny how when life goes smoothly, each day seems to zip by quickly.  These past few years have been filled with those kinds of days (Thank you Lord - keep 'em coming!)

Blogging has been good therapy for me, and has become a fun hobby as well.  It really is great - I have been fortunate enough to have received a ton of flattering feedback, and have been able to use it as a way to chronicle what has been happening in life - good and bad.

Here is a good thing, for instance.  Remember when I said I took my family to see American Ninja Warrior when it was in town?  That episode finally aired, and guess who got a lot of screen time?

Yours truly, (pre handle bar moustache!)

When I posted it on facebook, a friend said "Your expression looks like you are at a posh golf or equestrian event. I feel like you should be yelling in a British accent, "Good show, old boy! Good show I say!"

We were on it about 20 times throughout the show, which was really cool!  Now I can say I'm famous - I've been on Television!

Now, onto the baseball stuff.

A forum member named @rollx8 reached out to me with some cool pieces ... and I mean really cool pieces.  Think:  Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle and Jackie Robinson.

I would have LOVED to have had any one of these pieces whole.  When I started doing custom art pieces a year ago, I did a mock 2013 Topps Jose Canseco & cut it out with scissors, I never would have thought in a million years it would have brought me to this.

Look at them!  They are great pieces to begin with.  Design wise, the Mantle was my favorite by far.  I didn't care at all for the original designs of the Jackie or the Maris cards.  The Mantle though - very nice as-is, but a guy has gotta do what a guy has gotta do <evil grin>.

The plan was to make some over sized pieces that fit nicely in vertical booklet holders to incorporate the signature and relic pieces together, so let the carnage begin!

Do you know how hard it is to break the psa holders?  Maybe for some of you seasoned veterans, it isn't very difficult, but for me, it basically took me holding them halfway off the desk and hulk-smashing them with pliers.  Not the smoothest way to go, but it got the job done.  It seemed more difficult to get these done than when I took a simple card out of an SGC case.

I think the most nerve-wracking part of these types of projects are destroying the actual cards.  It simply hasn't gotten any easier.

It is kind of neat to see how the card companies do it though.  Someone posted a video on how Topps makes baseball cards, and I kept thinking how different our processes were from each other.  I mean, they don't use kitty litter, microwaves OR lemon juice like I do?  Surely, they must be hiding something.

Next thing you know, they are probably going to claim that they don't even dry their refractor cards in the presence of a double rainbow.

Each time I open up a card, I do feel like I am entering The Matrix.  This card had a metal plate in it!

Here are the results!

Jackie Robinson Dual Relic Cut Signature

Mickey Mantle Quad Relic Cut Signature

Roger Maris Octo Relic Cut Signature Vertical

All of them together:

Of course, I had to have pictures of the pieces and put them on the back!

I love how they came out!  Doing these over sized cards are quickly making me get over my 89BP, or  EightyNineBowmanPhobia (a phobia of all cards bigger than 2.5 x 3.5" thanks to 89 Bowman).

Saturday, August 8, 2015

My Collection Just got Personal

As you read this, there are probably millions of online transactions happening around the globe.  Currently, I have cards incoming from Vermont, North Dakota, Florida, Mississippi, Indiana and New Jersey.  These cards are from people I have known for a while, people I have just met or simply people selling cards from Ebay.  They all have one thing in common though:  None of it would have been possible without the use of the Internet.

While online transactions are now as commonplace as air-conditioned houses, it hasn't always been like this.  When I first started collecting in the late 80's, the access of cards I had to was limited to The Bullpen - my favorite card shop.  I could always look forward to going there each week. It was about a 10 minute drive from home, so it was just out of reach by bike, but close enough that my parents would consistently indulge my addiction. Saturday was the best day of the week for me, for this very reason.

If I was really lucky, my parents may have taken me to other shops to see what they had, or better yet - the card show at Fashion Fair mall.  The bottom line though, was this:  If you were looking for something extremely difficult to find, you would probably have to wait years for it to pop up.  A 1991 Donruss Elite Canseco number to 10,000?  Forgettaboutit.

In about 1990, I was introduced to Prodigy.

Prodigy was similar to AOL, but this was way before mainstream internet - heck, I don't even know if most households even had a computer.  Then again, I wouldn't have known because computers back then didn't interest kids back then.

Devoid of fancy graphics or multiple colors, Prodigy was a gateway to the world for me as a collector.  Since we were not allowed to buy or sell cards there, we would be clever by saying for instance, that 1989 Topps Gary Sheffield card was for trade for 3 GWRC's.  That meant George Washington Rookie Cards, or $3.  Yeah, we were all so smooth and cool about it.  After ever post I made, I signed off in big capital letters as "THE COLLECTOR".

After a while, I had a whole slew of packages going out in the morning and coming in in the evening.  Well, that is, until Prodigy said we would only be allowed 30 emails a month for free, and each additional would be 25 cents.  I knew this was an impending doom for my new fantasy land, and I was right - we cancelled shortly thereafter.

Fast forward into my adult life when my collecting spark (like many of you) was re-kindled.  This time though, there was Ebay.  What a magnificent place!  It was like Prodigy on steroids.  With color.  And pictures.  Plus, you didn't have to say you were only interested in trading for GWRC's!  Filled with oddball and rare items, I was in heaven.  Perhaps the most overwhelming thing was discovering how many things there were out there that I had never even heard of!  (Really?!?!  They make baseball cards with a piece of the player's jersey in it?!  How cool is that??)

Ebay is certainly not the end-all, as I've said before.  There are TONS of cards out there numbered to 50 or less that I simply have never seen on Ebay.  Thankfully, this is where other areas of the internet have really helped.  Through friendships I've made via forums, my blog and elsewhere, I have managed to pick up some pretty cool stuff that never would have even hit Ebay.  Yeah, I could post up what super rare cool cards I've gotten on Ebay, but this post is really for the more unusual items.

I had created a thread online asking people to show what their most unusual items are in their collection, and it was a ton of fun to see what others have found.  So, with that said, here are mine!

Most (not all) of the following was through a connection I made on my blog with a neighbor of someone who was very close to Canseco & his family.  It was basically a bulk pickup, so while I appreciate all of the items, I'll have to say there are some more than others that I enjoy.

This stuff just doesn't come online ever, so I was thrilled to get these things.

First up, actually is an ebay item, but I just had to show it:

You have seen the candy bars, I'm sure ...

But what about an entire unopened box?  When I bought it, the first thing I thought was "why did I buy this?"  But it is compact enough to not take up too much space, plus it is so unusual to find an entire box of them ... with 36 bars, how can you not get it?

Now, onto the other odd items ...

Okay, these aren't odd - but still cool!  Game used wrist bands:

A few comp tickets that were his which were never given out (the ticket on the left is to a celebrity softball game of his I believe.)  The other tickets are cool because 1 was game #33 and the other, I believe, he hit a homer if I recall correctly.  The thing that makes them neat is they were actually *his*, not just because they are tickets.

I'm a sucker for anything that can fit in a top loader, so these old business cards of businesses he was a part of are things I really enjoy.  Apparently the sports management business caused a lot of controversy back in the day, because it wasn't run by the player's union.  You may want to fact check that, but that is what I recall :)

This bear was his daughter's bear.  He is wearing a Canseco jersey.  I put in a candy wrapper in a holder on his lap to show another cool collectible.  It says "HERESHEIS" instead of "HERSHEYS" and on the back it talked about the mom and dad being Jose & Jessica Canseco.

This is a statue made by some artists with some fairly decent notoriety.  One of their pieces of Shaq is up on ebay right now for $150.  This particular piece is special because it is of Jose, his first wife Esther and their dogs.  The greatest thing about this is that it wasn't just a statue; it was a statue given to them as a wedding gift.

Unfortunately, it didn't look like all the dogs made it.  In the small array of greetings cards I have (one of them being a Merry Christmas card from the Rangers to Jose and another being signed from Jose and to someone else) is a condolences card saying they are sorry for the loss of their dog.

Here is a pic of he and Esther ... both of which autographed it.

A pay stub showing a cool 5+ million dollars:  (complete with housekeeper's grocery list on the back!)

Expired Gym Membership:

(Which by the way, I traded for the following ... LOVE IT! It is my 2nd favorite oversized piece I have!  signed, jersey piece and hand #'ed to 5.)

Remember the 1986 Japanese Super FujiFilm Series?  Neither do I, but apparently a bunch of the 80's baseball studs went overseas to Japan to play Japan's finest.  Jose was one of them, along with Ripken, Gwynn, Sandberg, Ozzie Smith and others.  I got a huge album of original photographs from it.  Most of the pictures were of poofy haired 80's people at the before/after banquets, etc. but Canseco did have a few good shots in there.  Can you say ORIGINAL Japanese 1986 Rookie Photographs?  Yeah, baby!  I'll probably be selling the entire album, sans any pics that have Canseco in it, which should be a massive hit for player collectors.

One of my favorite things from the entire haul is this:  A package that shows an address label from Fox 20th Century / The Simpsons to Jose Canseco.  Inside the envelope were several professional 8x10 photos of Jose doing the voice overs for Home at the Bat.  Does it get any better?

In my opinion, the following gives the Simpsons pics a run for their money.  Shown below are several of Jose's items.  A guest pass for him for the A's in 1997 as well as his parking pass, a spring training pass for him when he tried out for the Angels and his Devil Rays player identification card.

With few exceptions, I've chosen to keep my collection largely baseball card based up until now.  I don't have any intention of being the guy who's office is covered from floor to ceiling with posters of the same dude, because I think that is tacky, (trust me though, my office is way too cluttered with Canseco collectibles as it is!) but as I'm getting deeper and deeper into my PC, I'm finding that maybe player collectors aren't really all that obsessed with just a specific player to the point where the player should consider a restraining order.

Perhaps instead, they also enjoy a variety of (and excuse to collect) different pieces of collectibles, be it different inserts/parallels or teddy bears that their daughter used to play with.  I think this line of thinking probably makes more sense to me.  Frankly, I don't really care much about any other player, so Canseco is the only guy for me to collect.  I'm very thankful and happy that he has so many different cards out there so I can experience being the owner of a Donruss Aqueous, or a 1/1 buyback auto, etc.

As for these oddball personal items, I can't quite put my finger on what my favorite is in the bunch, so perhaps I'll sit on it a bit while snacking on a Canseco 40/40 chocolate bar and let you know later.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Hunting a Card that Doesn't Exist

When I first started actively looking for, and buying cards for my PC, I wasn't exactly a big spender.
Take this card, for example.  I had never seen this card ... ever.  In all my 26 years of collecting.  It was a blank back and up for sale for $4, I believe, and shipping was $3 if I recall correctly.

I wasn't too keen on spending $7 on a card like this, so I did what anyone would do in my situation.  I asked the buyer if he would be willing to do $5 including shipping for this card.

EPIC FAIL on my behalf.  I can probably pinpoint this as being the turning point to know when to spend money and when not to ask for $2 off.  It was purchased shortly thereafter, and I got a message from a friend.  "Hey Tanner, check what I just picked up.  I've never seen it before - crazy, right?"

This card is nowhere - not even on checklists!  Well, except for my personal checklist ... notating that I DO NOT HAVE IT!  I emailed the seller to try and glean some information from him about it, and he said he got it years and years ago at a card show & has never seen it again, or since.

My friend and I were going to do a trade but he couldn't find it, so I decided to research it more heavily, to no avail.  After a while, I saw an ebay listing for some Prism advertisements from the early 90's.

Do you see the picture in the bottom left corner of the ad?  Here it is blown up a bit for you ...

Look familiar???  It is a box of 1995 Pacific Prism Spanish.  The box top looks awfully similar to the card I was chasing.  Perhaps I wasn't trying to chase a "card" at all, but rather a box top!

The ad was titled for 1992, so it took me a while to figure out it was for 1995.  After emails out to dealers, and others on ebay, I simply couldn't find these boxes for sale!  I found a blog about them back in 2010, and wrote him but never heard back.  I also found someone that had sold several boxes of them for $400, if I recall correctly.

I decided to write the seller and ask if he would please reach out to the buyer (even though it was months ago) to see if he would sell me a box.  I didn't think this was going to happen, but I had to try.  Sure enough, he put me in touch with the buyer!  We'll call the buyer Brandon (because that is his name...duh!)

I asked the buyer if he would just sell an empty box.  He said it took him a while, but he actually did find an empty box and said he would just send it to me for free!  I do not know the guy at all, and here he is, saying he is willing to spend his time and money to just send me one!

The box came in tonight, and I was ready to rip into it to make a card out of it.  The mail was late, and I was going to dinner/movie with a friend, so I couldn't do it until I came back,  Here is what the box looks like.

Isn't the box itself gorgeous?  Here is the top of the box ...

And what is this?  A cool little graphic on the front!

I don't know if I have ever seen as nice of a box before.  Pacific used the same card stock for the box as they did their cards, and the top portion was outstanding, because it has all of the characteristics for a card:  A picture of the player, a picture of the logo and the player's name ... all inside of a 2.5x3.5" area.

The bonus was the front flap, which has Jose standing in front of the Pacific logo.  It is a little smaller than a mini goudey:

Here are all of them together along with the REAL card that is in the set.  Brandon was kind enough to send that over to me as well!

So, that wraps up that mystery!  Thanks for reading and THANK YOU again Brandon!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

My First Break, The National and Brian Gray

My wife and son have been gone on their mission trip since Thursday afternoon, and I am stuck here all by my lonesome - well, aside from our 2 dogs who are so depressed about their departure, that they don't acknowledge that I'm still here.  (Seriously, dogs - the least you can do is come downstairs when I walk in the door!)

This morning, I opted to not let my inner uber-lazy-tv-watching bachelor win and actually got out to do something.  One thing I have been wanting to do is to actually physically see my Beckett on the news stands for myself in person.  I asked for some people around the nation to send over some pics, and I got some which I was very thankful for, but I figured - when is this going to happen again?  So I made the trek out to Barnes & Noble.

Before going out, I called to make sure.  I asked the lady if the Beckett with Joey Gallo on the cover was still on the stands.  After about 5 minutes, she came back and said it was, then offered to hold one for me up front.  I told her no and asked her to please leave it on the stands.  She seemed confused as to why I would request this, so I told her I'm on the front of it.  She started giggling and said "Oh, so you are THE Joey Gallo!"  I reluctantly said no, and that I was the really tiny dude at the top.

Yeah, I'm dorky enough to take a selfie of myselfie with my magazine in the store.  (Are you sick of seeing my face yet?  I'll spare you the horror - close your eyes and scroll like ... a half a second down!)

Okay, you can now open them again.

How nerdy I must have looked - a 35 year old man taking a picture of himself in a bookstore for no apparent reason.

Anyway, I wasn't just going there to see it in person and take a quick awkward pic of myself.  The main reason was to pick up a few copies of the Beckett and some frames to display them on the wall in my office.  I wanted to also frame the "custom" Beckett cover I made to put on the wall as well.

Sorry for the crummy pic - the window right next to it was causing a horrific glare.  The bottom right pic is one of our favorites.  Jose was trying on a Devil Rays jersey while wearing some shorter shorts - we all got a great kick out of that, so I figured it was wall-worthy.  Plus, I needed something to fill in position #9.

After this, I figured I'd make the long trip to the only baseball card shop I know for sure is still around.  I checked google, and it said they were open at 11 on saturdays.  After a half hour of driving, I was greeted with a sign that said "We will not be open until 12 today due to baseball games."

DANG IT!  I wasn't about to wait for an hour just to pick up some boxes (that is what I was going there for primarily anyway).  Besides, my first ever online break was coming up at 12:30 and I was starving.   At the end of every year, I buy copious amounts of wax to re-sell and trade away.   A few years ago, I did something called "I Break You Buy" - if someone wanted to buy a box from me and wanted me to break it for them online, I would then allow them to pick the top 5 cards and ship to them, to save money on postage.  I did several, and it was fun - but I had never been on the receiving end of something like this.

For $19.99 + shipping, I was the winner for the spot of a 2015 Leaf Legends of Sport Case Break for Jose Canseco.  (Imagine that!)  I got home and it took a while for them to get started.  I wasn't sure why, but I was more excited about trying this thing out than I care to admit.  One of the really cool things about it that I didn't know, was it was being opened at the National.  Though I wasn't able to attend, I really did want to.

The whole scavenger hunt that Beckett had setup was really intriguing to me. First, the fact that I was going to be on one of the National Exclusive cards, but there was also a chance at a National Exclusive 1988 July Beckett Card of Canseco - autographed!  The way it worked was like this:  If you were one of the first 200 people who went to each of the 15 booths to pickup a National Exclusive Beckett card (and buy something from each booth), then presented it to the Beckett booth, then you would be awarded a "blind wrapped" signed Beckett card.

I was very fortunate to grab the signed Canseco off Ebay yesterday.  It is numbered to 30 copies, and is a thing of beauty - it is even encapsulated!  I can't tell you how happy I am to get this! 

Right before lights out, I did a deal for the unsigned version of it as well.  I didn't even know these existed, and they apparently are rare.  Either way, I'm very glad! 

Perhaps the coolest thing though is when Chris from the forums (Chris, I forgot your screen name - please stand up so you can get a round of applause!)  reached out to me.  He said that he got me not one, but TWO of my national exclusive cards for me!  Razor, my fellow Canseconite said that I should figure out how to get the visual checklist since I was on there as well.  He pointed me to an ebay listing to where someone was trying to get $100 for the checklist alone.  Jeesh!  I asked Chris if he by any chance would be able to get his hands on one, and he said he figured I would want one, so he got me one!  Chris, again ... THANK YOU!  I really do appreciate it! 

OKAY - back to the case break!

With the case just sitting there in front of the camera, I noticed the label showed that there were 200 ten box cases produced.  I read earlier that each box only had 1 pack and each pack had 7 cards.  This I quickly did the math.  I guessed that with the 3 flavors of Canseco that come in it, each having cards #'ed to 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 as well as (completely guessing) 100 each of the 'base' versions of these 3 flavors, I figured that perhaps there were about 500 Cansecos out there.  It looked like my odds were good at pulling at least a base, which would have made me happy (I admit I did my math wrong on the fly and thought I only had a 1 in 4 chance at one!)

After a while, they mentioned they were going to have a special guest.  The guest, it turns out to be, is no other than Brian Gray, CEO of Leaf!  I see BG to baseball cards as I see Dana White to MMA.  Sure, there are other brands, but Brian is the only one I know of that gets in the forums and blogs online to interact with others.  For all I know, the CEO's of Topps & Panini may do this too, in which case may completely nullify my previous comparison, but to my knowledge that is not the case.  While the break was about to start, I said something about how Brian should have his autographed card inserted in the boxes.

The boxes kept being busted open, and still no signs of Jose.  Finally, in the 2nd half of the case, I finally hit one!  A base auto.  Again, I'm fine with this as that is what I was hoping for - at least one.

At the end Brian asked what "mouschi's" real name was on video, so I typed it in the chat box and the other guy on the video confirmed my name as well.  Brian pulled out a blank card of himself and said "Well, Tanner - I'm way ahead of you on the card thing.  Here you go."  He personalized the card to me and it should be coming along with the Canseco!

Even though I got a Canseco autograph, I'd have to say the most fun part of the break was getting BG's auto personalized to me.  I didn't really ever understand why so many people wanted my autograph, since I'm a nobody (Read: not a baseball player), but after getting his autograph, I can now see how it could be fun to collect autographs of people other than sports stars.

As I was about to close out the window that had the online break, I saw a dealer walk by the camera who I talk to each time that the Tri Star show is here.  I don't even know his name, but I thought it was pretty funny.  It kind of reminds me of one of those grainy big-foot pictures.

For fun, I wanted to see if Brian had any autos on ebay.  Interestingly enough, one did sell for over $20 recently.  Brian, if you are reading this, a word of advice - grow a moustache and put a hair in the card.  It will go for crazy money!  Just make sure you use the Alpha Whisker.  Keep up the good work with your cards, and don't forget to keep adding Canseco in to your releases!