Saturday, February 28, 2015

Recapping Finest

Yesterday I wrapped my look at Finest.

One of Topps' first premium brands, it has been around since 1993.  The set has varied in size but lately has come in around the 100 card mark.

As far as the Cubs go, here are a few facts:
Total number of Cubs cards: 149
Most Cubs in a set: 1994 - 16 cards
Fewest Cubs in a set: 2012 and 2014 - just one card
Most popular Cub: Sammy Sosa has 19 cards

I've put together a tile of all 149 Cubs.  One thing I didn't notice about Finest until I put the tile together is that all of the cards have a vertical orientation.  There isn't a single card going sideways.  Personally, I like that.  I've always preferred vertical cards -- they fit better in your hand to look through when they are vertical.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Finishing Finest...The Cubs from 2012 - 2014

Let's just blow through the last three years of Finest in one post.  Topps made it kinda easy for me as the last three years brought only five cards.

Starlin Castro was flying solo in 2012.


Three cards in 2013: Castro, Rizzo, and Fujikawa.... two out of three ain't bad I guess.

Back to a solo shot last year, Anthony Rizzo.

And that's if for Finest.

I'll have a Finest summary post tomorrow.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

No Cubs Giveaway Cards This Year, But...

The Cubs released their promotion schedule yesterday.  It's not nearly as full as last years', which is expected since there is no Wrigley Field birthday celebration this year.  Bobbleheads and head wear seem to be most prevalent.

Missing from the list is baseball cards.  Two years ago the Cubs and Topps teamed up for a fantastic set of cards given away over four different games.  I wasn't surprised that they skipped cards last year with all the Wrigley hoopla, but am disappointed that they aren't doing cards in 2015.

My disappointment is tempered somewhat by the giveaway on Friday, July 24.

That is a miniature replica of the Billy Williams statue that is on the corner of Addison and Sheffield.

Mrs. WW and I haven't made our summer vacation plans yet.  But I'm pretty sure I know where we will be on July 24!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Some Fleer Cloth Stickers

Over the past couple months I've been adding different sets of Fleer cards from the 1970s.  There were the Famous Feats, Baseball Pioneers, and Baseball Firsts, plus the Wildest Days and Plays set that I'm still working on completing.

Yet these cards were not the main attraction in the Fleer packs.  In fact, they were just used as a cardboard stiffener.  The actual selling piece of the packs were cloth team stickers.  From 1969 to 1976 Fleer sold packs of cloth stickers, a card, and a piece of gum, all for the low, low price of 10¢.

I have a vague recollection of the Fleer packs in stores, but I don't think I ever bought them.  My thoughts were along the lines of why waste money on stickers when there were actual baseball cards to be bought.  Topps was going to get my allowance, not Fleer.

I'm not going to go into much about the packs because the wonderful blog "The Fleer Sticker Project" has already done that.  Go here for a complete history on the stickers.

There were two different types of team stickers for each of the 24 teams.  One was the city sticker, the other the team emblem sticker.  Over the years of the release Fleer updated the stickers as the team logos changed.

For the Cubs, I'm going after a total of five stickers.  The city sticker has two variations while the team emblem has three.

This is the later version of the city sticker.  The only difference with the earlier version is that the shade of blue is lighter.

Here is the first version of the team emblem sticker.  This is the early blue shade.

The third version had two differences.  The obvious one is the darker blue.  Less noticeable is the placement of the "UBS".  Notice how it had been shifted to the right.  The version I'm missing is the dark blue without the "UBS" shifted.

All three of my stickers are the easy ones.  The missing two will probably take some time to get.

Not to worry though.  Cubs fans are really good at waiting.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Another Pack on the Wall

Though I received all my new 2015's from Brentandbecca, there was still one new item I was missing.  I still needed a 2015 pack.  The local Walmart has rack packs and blasters, but for the past couple years stopped stocking the basic $1.99 packs.

Any store that would have loose packs is nearly an hour away.  I wasn't going to make a special trip for just a pack of cards.

On Sunday, I organized a school trip to see a K-Wings hockey game in Kalamazoo.  The trip to Kazoo for hockey meant a side trip to Target for baseball cards.

And Target came through!

The 2015 pack is the last one on the left on the third row.  The pack on the top right of the top row is from 1969.  Every other year in-between fills the shelves chronologically.  I've now got 47 consecutive years of Topps baseball card packs on display.

This year is a bit of a watershed year for my wax collection.  This is the last time that wax (23 packs) will outnumber the foil (22 packs), with two years, 1992-1993 being cellophane.  Foil will tie things up next year.  My wall of wax is becoming less wax and more foil.

Boo progress!!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Guess What....I Got A Fever...And the Only Prescription is More...


No, not more Cowbell.

The only prescription for my fever is more cards!

Spring Fever Cards!

After being shut out of Spring Fever last year, the Cubs grabbed three spots on the checklist, and I grabbed all three cards.  We get Baez, Rizzo, and Lester, who is making his first appearance as a Cub on any card.

The Spring Fever cards were available for free from hobby shops if you spent $20 or more on Topps products.  I'd be spending more than $20 on gas to get to the nearest hobby shop, so instead I used my virtual hobby shop, Ebay.

I spend less than $20 to get the Cubs I wanted.

Fever Cured!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Five Random Cubs Cards

I've got 13,388 Cubs cards from 104 different brands listed on a spreadsheet. A random number generator picked five cards, one each from the past several decades. 

1900s - 1970s: 1953 Topps #144 Bob Schultz  What a difference a year makes.  Schultz' 1952 card was one of the high numbers and cost me a bundle.  The '53 card is a basic card that goes for a few bucks.  As far as his on field performance, what a difference a year makes.  He went from 6-3 with the Cubs in '52 to 0-2 in '53, his time split between the Cubs, Pirates, and the minor league.

1980s: 1981 Coke/Topps #9 Scot Thompson  This comes from the Coke team set.  The card is identical to the base Topps card except for the Coke logo in the upper right hand corner.  Thompson was the Tyler Colvin of the late '70s/early 80s.  He had a decent rookie season in 1979, but never put up similar numbers again.  He hit just .165 for the Cubs in 1981 and spent half the year in AAA.

1990s: 1989 Fleer Traded #82 Steve Wilson  The lefty came to the Cubs in the winter of 1988 as part of the Rafael Palmeiro / Mitch Williams trade.  He pitched in 53 games for the '89 Cubs, most out of the bullpen.  He managed a 6-4 record despite and ERA of 4.20

2000s: 2009 O-Pee-Chee #555 Kosuke Fukudome All-Rookie  He made the All-Rookie team with a .257 average , 10 homers, and 58 RBIs.  Those are pretty mediocre numbers if you ask me.

2010s: 2013 Bowman #38 Christian Villanueva He was good enough to be considered a prospect by Bowman in 2013.  In 204 they wouldn't feel the same.  He split the season between AA and AAA, hitting a combined .230.  Being a third baseman in the Cubs system right now, unless your name is Kris Bryant, is not a good thing.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

My Other 2011 Barney Rainbow

Yesterday's Finest post included a look at the Barney rainbow.  Finest is one of two major rainbows that I've got from 2011.  The other is from Topps Chrome.  Since I've recently added some more cards to the Chrome collection, I figured I'd show the progress.

That's the base, nine parallels, and five autographs.

The only base parallels I'm missing are the 1/1's, so I consider that part of the collection finished.  The only autograph I'm hunting is the red version, which is /25.  I haven't seen one since 2011; I may never see another.  

I'm happy with the 15 cards I've got.

Friday, February 20, 2015

2011 Topps Finest Cubs

Topps Finests 2011 only had three Cubs, but what it lacked in quantity it more than made up for with quality.

Starlin Castro,

Andrew Casher, who became Anthony Rizzo, and saving the best for last,

Darwin Barney!

The set came with all sorts of parallels and autographs/relics and of course, I have a bunch of the Barney cards.  Luckily for me, the autograph/letter patch cards were eliminated in 2011.  Otherwise I would have hand six more cards; I'm sure I would have gone after each letter.

Here's the Barney collection for 2011 Finest:

I've got the base and the six main parallels (refractor, X-fractor, green, orange, gold, and red).  The ones I'm missing are /10, /5, or 1/1 and I've got no hopes of seeing them become available, let alone of getting them.

The only auto/relic I'd like to get is the red version. There is one on COMC, but the price will need to come waaaayyyy down from $75 for me to think about it.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Javier Baez Sparkle Card

It's a gimmick I'm kinda tired of, the short-print sparkle variation cards.  

But I'm an all-in team collector, so I feel the need to get the Cubs sparkles.

Here is the second of three Cubs I need...

...Javier Baez.

The sparkle was put in a most unusual place.  

Now remember, this is Javier Baez' card.  Yet the sparkle is not on Javier Baez.  It's on Randal Grichuk's helmet.  I don't think I've seen a sparkle not on the featured player.  Very odd.

One thing I've noticed this year is that there don't seem to be as many sparkle cards available, which means they're costing more, too.

Right now there aren't any Baez cards listed on Ebay.  Just two weeks after release and the market has dried up.  A check of the sold listings brings up just seven cards.  The Starlin Castro card has a similar story.  There are five listed right now and six were sold, a total of eleven cards.

I emailed Brentandbecca to see how many sparkle cards he pulled.  He found 37 sparkle cards in his 75 hobby cases and  got shut out in two retail cases.  Based on the numbers from this post, that is 37 sparkles out of 235,872 cards.  Those are some pretty long odds!

He said that based on past years numbers and this year's odds, he figures there are 100 of each sparkle card.  With only 10% showing up on Ebay at this point, I wonder where the rest are?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

1964 Topps Tatoo Billy Williams

One of the oddball products that Topps released in 1964 was a set of tattoos that featured 59 players plus the logos of each of the 20 teams.

The tattoos were on the inside of a paper liner which was wrapped around a piece of gum and was sold for a penny.

Here's what an original wrapped piece of gum looked like.

There are three different colored wrappers, blue, red, and yellow.  Some of the players were found on just one color, others on a couple of the colors.

I picked up the Billy Williams tattoo on a red wrapper.  Billy was also found on yellow wrappers.  Look again at the wrapper and you'll notice a spelling variation. Topps dropped a "t" from the word "tattoo."  Doing so makes it match up better with the word "Photo."

Topps also had gum called "Tatoo" in the '40 and early '50s that also featured a tattoo on the inside of the wrapper.  The only odd thing is that a 1960 Topps baseball tattoo set spelled the word tattoo correctly.

Though the wrappers were different colors, the tattoo was the same.  Billy's looked like...

...this, and when you stuck it on your arm it looked like...

...this.  I wonder why the logo on the hat was removed?

According to a couple on-line sources, the gum wasn't very popular.  That makes these a bit scarce.  Plus, most that were sold ended up on some kid's body.

Mine is in pretty decent shape and I was able to get it for less than the VG price in the Standard Catalog.

And, no, I'm not planning to plaster it on my arm!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Looking At the Complete Set of 2015 Topps Series One

The final part of my Brentandbecca order was the complete 350 card set of Series One.  This makes year number 47 in my run of sets, going back to 1969.

The binder has been filled and placed on the shelf.  Next year I'll have to move the Traded/Update boxes somewhere else.

This is the label I used for the binder.

Here are some random thoughts on the set, including some I already mentioned on the Cubs page:

  • The set is 20 cards bigger than its been for the past several years.  That's all good and well, but 15 of the 20 new cards are team cards.  That leaves only five extra players.  Make that three extra players, since two cards went to retired guys.  I'd rather they drop the team cards and add more players.  And while they're at it, the checklist cards can go away too.  No collector needs the checklist on the cards anymore.  Plus, the writing is so tiny it can't really be used.
  • I like the non-white border
  • I like the elimination of the foil printing
  • The design is fairly easy for making custom cards
  • Too many action shots, especially of the pitchers, show very weird looks on the player's faces.
  • I like the large card numbers on the back
  • The cardboard seems a little thinner
In a post about the set, I should show some cards.  I found some interesting things on the cards of several catchers:

This is what a catcher's card should look like: a nice view of his face, a hint of the team name peeking out of the chest protector.  I know from the picture that that is Buster Posey of the Giants.

This card is what I would expect from Panini....not a logo in sight, and barely a look at his face.  In fact, is that really James McCann or do we just have to take Topps' word?  


Some more Panini-type cards.  These guys look like they could be on the same team.

Giving a good view of a players face isn't always good enough.  Yikes, what a weird look. 


 From this angle he looks like Ham in The Sandlot. That's not a good look.

And finally, some catchers should not be shown on the basepaths.

Dionner Navarro and his double chin.  Yikes!

Monday, February 16, 2015

2015 Topps Series One Cubs Inserts

My order from Brent also included all the Cubs basic insert cards (except the retail-only First Home Run cards).  I really save on shipping when I can get all the different inserts from one seller.

Here is the overall insert list:

Archetypes: NO CUBS
Baseball History: 10B Bruce Sutter
First Home Run: 01 Jorge Soler, 13 Javier Baez
First Pitch: 04 Eddie Vedder, 10 Graham Elliot, 11 Tom Morello
Free Agent 40: 7 Andre Dawson
Gallery of Greats: NO CUBS
Highlight of the Year: 10 Ernie Banks
Inspired Play: NO CUBS
Robbed: NO CUBS

The Cubs didn't do so hot here, with four of the nine sets being Cub-free.  I had eight cards to get, though three of the eight aren't true Cubs.  It seems kinda odd now that my inventory spreadsheet lists not only Banks, Williams, Sandberg, Rizzo, and Evers, but also Vedder, Elliot, and Morello.   Given that the First Pitch cards attracted quite a bit of interest (Brent said he sold one Vedder card for $30!), I'm sure we will see them again, if not in series two, then next year.

Here's the eight inserts:

The card is for history in 1976, but the picture is from 1977 or 1978.


Interesting fact: they both hit their first home run in their first game.  Soler did it in his first at bat.  Baez waited until the 13th inning and hit a game-winner.


Three non-Cubs now forever immortalized in the WW collection spreadsheet.

The back of the cards mentions the suspense during Spring Training as to where Dawson would end up signing for the 1987 season.  Wrong.  There wasn't any real suspense.  Dawson had pretty much said he'd play for the Cubs.  In fact, he signed a blank contract and let the team fill in the salary amount.  Dallas Green screwed him over by paying him just $500,000.

Again, a card celebrating an event in a certain year but showing a picture from the wrong year.  The uniform the Cubs wore in 1957 said "Chicago Cubs" across the front; this one shown just says "Chicago."  Also, the '57 hats had red vertical piping.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Card Topps Must Include in Series Two

A short post today, the title pretty much says it all.

If Topps is now including cards of recently retired players in Series One (Jeter, Konerko), then why not extend the idea a little further and include this in Series Two:

It would be a fitting tribute.

I used this picture from 1969 because I've never seen it on any card and the Ernie Banks I knew as a kid was a first baseman.  Plus it matches nicely the action shots that Topps uses now on all its cards.

Get it done, Topps.