Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Gypsy Queen Complete Set

Gypsy Queen 2011 is the second of my new complete sets. Putting it together was not nearly as easy as the Lineage set was, for several reasons.

First, its been a few months since its release, so there isn't as much available. It would have been easier when the set was released in April. A second problem is that there are 350 cards in the set, compared to only 200 with Lineage.

But the biggest difficulty in completing the set is that the last 50 cards are short-prints. I hate short-prints! Back in the day, there were short-prints based on how the cards would fit onto a sheet, or because they just cut back production at the end of the season. But today its just a slimy gimmick to get more dollars out of our pockets!

When I decided to get a Gypsy Queen set, I check ebay, but there were not complete sets available. Plenty of 300 card base sets were out there, but none with all 350 cards. Then a near-complete set popped up. It had 297 of the 300 base cards, and 26 of the 50 short-prints. If I could get that set for a reasonable price, then I would just have to track down 27 more cards.

I was able to get the set for a price not much more than what the 300 card sets were going for. That meant I got the 26 SPs for a nice price. As soon as I won the set, I headed to Checkoutmycards for the rest of the SPs. They had all but three, and Sportlots had the others. Within a week, all 350 cards were in my hands, and soon, in a binder.

When Gypsy Queen first came out I wasn't too excited about it. But now that I see the entire set, its starting to grow on me. I don't think I'll go after another set next year (unless Topps eliminates the SPs), but I'm happy with the 2011 set.

Like I did with Lineage, I picked out my eight non-Cubs favorites from the set, and they are all players from the past. Something I really like is that with the cards you get to see uniforms and stadiums in color that have usually been shown in black and white.

Andre Dawson, as an Expo. I always like the early Expos uniform, even this updated version with the racing stripes.

Roy Campanella, grabbing a foul ball

Jjimmy Foxx....I like the striped on the stirrups

Lou Gehrig, taking a swing at Yankee Stadium

Johnny Mize, as a Cardinal....

....and as a Giant

Mel Ott, and his famous leg kick

and finally Mickey Mantle. I was shocked when I turned the card over and looked at the number; its card #89. When was the last time Topps gave Mantle a number other that #7?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Couple Non-Action Lineage Cards

Yesterday I looked at my favorite retirees from Lineage. Most were action cards. Today, I've got a couple more, but they are non action cards. And both cards have Cubs connections.

Here is the Lineage card of Tony Perez.

If you look in the background, you will notice that the picture was taken at Wrigley Field. The card should also have a somewhat familiar look to it.

This is Perez' card from the '69 Topps set. If I was a betting man, I would say that both cards have pictures from the same photo shoot. The Topps photographer was busy with the Reds at Wrigley in 1967. I wrote about that here.

This Lineage card of Fergie Jenkins is the other one I'd like to talk about. The uniform tells me the picture was taken in 1972. Fergie is at Shea Stadium and I would guess that this was early in the season. Why?

Here is the Topps card from the 1973 set. Same 1972 uniform as above, and back at Shea, but notice that Fergie has a mustache and more hair. I'm assuming that as the season moved along, Fergie let his hair grow out and grew the 'stache.

The mustache history is interesting, but I wish that Topps found an action shot of Fergie instead of the crummy posed follow-through that they used.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Lineage Complete Set

Other than Topps base and Allen and Ginter, I don't get too many complete sets. But of course I do have exceptions!

My set rule is this: If I go after all the Cubs from a particular brand, I will try to get the complete set from the first year the brand was issued. Right now I've got about 30 of those sets. Some were hard to get, like Heritage 2001, Turkey Red 2005 and Cracker Jack 2004. Others were really easy (and cheap); Score 1988 I'm looking at you.

In 2011 there were two new products that I picked up Cubs sets from, and I decided I should get the complete set, too. For the next few days I'll be taking a look at both of these sets. Up first in Lineage.

Lineage has been out less than a month and there are plenty of complete sets available. I was able to get mine for under $20, delivered. That works out to less than a dime a card for the 200 card set.

I've started to really take to the set, especially the cards of the retired players. Topps did a pretty decent job of finding pictures that have a modern, action look to them instead of the poses that were used when many of these guys were active. For old-timers, Topps also did a nice job of colorizing black and white pictures.

I picked out eight of my favorite vets in the set. See if you like them, too.

Koufax in the wind-up. A question, though. Looking behind Koufax, it looks like Dodger Stadium. Did Topps fudge the picture a bit and change his hat?

A nice action shot of Jim Palmer and his big overhand motion.

A nice colorized shot of lefty Whitey Ford.

No action for Stan the Man, but nice color.

The Iron Man, in living color. Very nice!

Tiger great Al Kaline taking a cut at Tiger Stadium

Bob Gibson at Shea Stadium. Don't mess with Gibby!

Topps hasn't put out too many cards of Mel Ott; he's sort of a forgotten man. But they made up for it with the really nice colorized card.

Cards like these give me hope for Topps!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Five Random Cubs Cards

I've got 9,145 Cubs cards from 56 different brands listed on a spreadsheet. A random number generator picked five cards, one each from the past several decades.

1950s / 1960s: Bowman 1950 #107 Dutch Leonard: The Cubs picked up the 40 year old Leonard from the Phillies for the 1949 season. Starting 28 games, the veteran went 7-16 with an ERA of 4.15. The Cubs decided that Leonard was no longer a starter, and he spent the 1950 season in the bullpen. That rejuvenated his career, and he was 5-1. He would hang on with the Cubs through the 1953 season, when he was 44 years old.

1970s: Topps 1971 #704 J. C. Martin
The Cubs acquired Martin from the Mets late in the spring of 1970. Starter Randy Hundley was injured in April and missed most of the season, making the trade for Martin seem pretty smart. He played in 40 games, but hit a miniscule .156, making the trade for Martin seem pretty dumb!

1980s Circle K 1985 #10 Ernie Banks
Mr Cub! This card is from a set produced by Topps and sold at Circle K convenience stores. The set was called "All Time Home Run Kings" and had a card for the top 33 career home run hitters as of 1985 (except for Ted Williams, who was left out because of licensing issues). Ernie's card was #10 because at the time, he was tied for 10th place with Eddie Matthews. Today, Ernie and Eddie have dropped to a tie for 21st place.

1990s Leaf 1993 #224 Ryne Sandberg
It looks like Paul O'Neill is trying to break up a double play at second. This was May 8, 1992 (the brown ivy helped me narrow it down). O'Neill led off the fifth inning with a single, and then Chris Sabo hit into a 6-4-3 DP. The highlight of Sandberg's 1993 season was on May 26th against the Giants. For the first time in his big league career, Ryno was tossed out of a game, arguing a force-out call in the bottom of the fifth.

2000s Topps Traded 2003 #51 Lenny Harris
Did you realize that Lenny Harris is baseball's att-time pinch hit leader, with 212? I didn't. The Cubs picked up Harris as a free agent in January, 2003, to obviously boost their bench. In 75 games, he hit only .183 which wasn't much of a boost, and on August 2 the Cubs released him.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What's That Under His Nose...And On His Chin

This is Geovany Soto's Heritage card from this year. When you look it over, there doesn't seem to be anything that jumps out at you. We've just got a posed shot of a catcher in his crouch. Nothing spectacular here.

The card is based on the 1962 set, and if you had this card in your hand in 1962, there would be something unusual that you would have noticed right away. Got a guess what that would be??

Facial hair.

That was not something you would have seen on a card in 1962. My complete sets don't go back to 1962; my first is 1969. I decided to look through the set to see how many players on the 664 cards had facial hair. Want to guess how many there were?

One! Pirates rookie Al Oliver had a small mustache, and that's it.

I moved on to the 1970 set. It had, out of 720 cards, a grand total of....

...ZERO players with any facial hair. And the 1971 set was the same, 0 for 752. I figured the 1972 set would see some change. After all, these are the 70's. But not in baseball. The total for the 1972 set, out of all 787 cards was.... Reggie's card has a spring training picture. The In Action card looks like the mustache has disappeared. I've read the Reggie showed up to spring training in 1972 with a mustache, so its possible, since the card is from the 4th series, the the picture was taken in the spring of '72. But the In Action card would most likely be from 1971.

It wasn't until the 1973 set that mustaches really started showing up. In 1972 A's owner Charlie Finley held Mustache Day, and several A's grew them for the occasion (and the $300 bonus).

One of baseball's most famous mustaches made its first appearance on a 1973 card, though not in its more famous style.

And the first Cubs mustache showed up too in the '73 set as Fergie Jenkins grew one. In fact, he is the first Cubs player on any Topps card, going all the way back to 1951, to have any facial hair. By the end of the decade, it became commonplace. In the 1979 set, 17 of the 26 players have a mustache or a beard.

Today, a guy like Brian Wilson has created an entire identity based on facial hair. But 40 years ago? Not a chance.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Another Stinkin' Ginter Relic!

I really thought that I was finished with these. After all, having 11 relic cards when there were only 11 base cards should have been enough. But, no.

I was reading Collecting the Cubs and there was a post on 2011 Ginter. He had 10 relics shown and among his ten was a Soriano bat card. I hadn't seen it before. Castro has both a bat and jersey card, but I didn't realize that Soriano had both, too. He wasn't aware of both the Samardzija card and the Castro jersey card, so I filled him in. You know there are too many cards when two pretty thorough collectors each miss a card or two.

It was off to ebay, but there were only jersey cards to be found. Luckily a bat card turned up in a couple days, and it had a reasonable BIN. So it did.

NOW I think I am finally finished with 2011 Allen and Ginter, and the 12 stinkin' relic cards. And just for comparisons sake, from 2006 - 2010 there are a grand total of 13 Cubs relics between the five years. A single year almost matched five years' worth; that's crazy!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Topps Traded 1999-2004

...part of an occasional look at the Topps Traded sets.

After a three year break, Topps brought back the Traded set in 1999. Some things were familiar.

They used a box similar to what they used in 1992 and 1993.

Some things were different. There were only 121 cards in the set, which is the smallest traded set Topps had ever released. Also, the design of the traded cards was identical to the base cards, and has remained identical ever since. The only way to tell the difference in the T in the traded card number. As an incentive to buyers, Topps included an autographed card of a rookie in each box. My box's hit was Adam Dunn.
That seems like an ok deal, an autograph in every box.

In 2000, Topps didn't change much. Here is what the box looks like:

There were a few more cards in the set, 135, but otherwise, it's pretty much the same, complete with another signed rookie card. My "hit" from this box was Chad Durbin (who??). Maybe those autographs weren't such a big deal, after all.

The 2001 set saw an increase in size and value. There are 265 cards in the set, almost double the previous year. And to buy a 2001 set, it's going to take alot more than double the 2000 price for two reasons: Pujols and Ichiro. To bad Topps ditched the complete box set with rookie autograph. Can you imagine the frenzy for a box if collectors knew they could pull a Pujols or Ichiro autograph? Would have been nuts.

Again in 2002 there was no factory box. You had to put the 275 card set together by hand. And for the first time, Topps threw in 110 short-prints. I hate short-prints! The set doesn't have any big name rookies, but the SPs keep the price of a set pretty high.

The SPs disappeared in 2003 and the price for a set dropped while the number of cards remained the same. Still no factory boxes, so that meant hand collating again.

About the only change for 2004 was the number of cards, which fell to 220. No factory box, no autographs, no big name rookies. Just 220 basic cards that forced you to hand build a set.

Now its on to the Cubs:

1999 - 5 Cubs....KKKKKorey Patterson, we had such hope!

2000 - 6 Cubs....Zambrano.....again we had such hope!

2001 - 8 Cubs....Luis Montanez, who finally made his debut with the Cubs ten years after this card was issued.

2002 - 8 Cubs....Mark Prior...and in keeping with our theme....we had such hope!!

2003 - 16 Cubs...Yes you read that right, a whopping 16 cards....Kenny Lofton was picked up from the Pirates when Corey Patterson got hurt. In my opinion, it was his offensive spark that led the Cubs to the division title.

2004 - 8 Cubs....Nomar Garciaparra was picked up in a three way trade that cost the Cubs practically nothing. We all felt that with Nomar, the Cubs were going all the way. I was at Nomar's third game with the Cubs, vs the Rockies in Denver. At least half the crowd was Cubs fans and Nomar got a standing ovation his first time up.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

1969 Globe Imports

I've got three cards today from a really obscure set, Globe Imports playing cards.

I found the cards while searching on Sportlots, but had never heard of them before. And they are the lowest quality cards in my entire collection!

I dug around the web and the Standard Catalog to find out what I could about the set. The cards were sold in 1969 in gas stations in the southern US. I was 7 and living in the Chicago burbs in 1969, so I never saw them.

When you hear "playing cards" you think of the standard card size of 2 1/2" by 3 1/2", printed on a sturdy, plastic type of paper. But not these. They are very small, only 1 5/8" by 2". That makes them very difficult for any adult sized hand to use. Even worse, they are printed on regular, thin paper. Shuffle them once and they will be all creased. The backs of the cards are plain, with nothing printed on them at all. I wonder if anyone ever played an actual card game with them?

The only good thing the cards have going for them is their checklist. Pretty much every star of the era was included in the set. There were three Cubs; Ernie, Billy and Ron.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My Last Cubs Autograph Card

Answers from yesterday's post are at the bottom of the page

Here is my last autographed Cubs card*

This is Julio Zuteta from Fleer's Autographics 2001. Julio came up to the Cubs in 2000 . He hit .294 in 30 games and was deemed good enough for the Cubs to let Mark Grace leave via free agency. Besides, can't miss prospect Hee Seop Choi was waiting in the wings. But in 2001, Zuleta hit only .219 and was sent back to AAA. He never returned to the major leagues. Instead, he went to Japan and had a pretty successful career over there.

*So why is this my last Cubs autograph card? Have I run out of cards to chase? Run out of money? Give up on the Cubs? No way!! It's my last.....if you go in alphabetical order. Zuleta comes after Zambrano and Zimmer. He is my last autographed card in the binder.....but certainly not the last one I'll buy! In fact, among all of the players in MLB history, only six players follow Zuleta alphabetically (Joel Zumaya, Bob Zupcic, Frank Zupo, Paul Zuvella, George Zuverink, and Dutch Zwilling).

I suppose I'll need to get a signed copy of this one, and make it my first.

Here are the answers from yesterday's Name that Cub, 1970

Fergie Jenkins

Don Kessinger

Jimmy Qualls

Glenn Beckert

Ken Rudolph

Bill Hands