I’m That Guy Who Ran Out And Bought 2019 Topps Stickers

Somebody’s gotta do it, right?

Actually, I was curious about the stickers this time around, mainly for two reasons:

  1. None of this year’s sets have bowled me over, so I’m always looking to check out something else
  2. The stickers are standard sized this time around… or, as the wrapper actually says, “trading card sized”… and that means I can more easily use them in my “current rosters” and team binders.

While I’m showing the wrapper, I want to show you the back for a particular reason:

Notice what’s missing?  Odds.  There are no inserts, so there are no odds, just a legal notice that essentially says “We can’t promise that these will have any value down the road… They’re just stickers, bro.”

I don’t know about you, but I find the lack of odds to be very refreshing.

Oh, one other thing I want to say;  I came very close to smashing my scanner during the process of creating this post.  I think I’ve got it sorted out (after updating the scanner driver and the scanning software), but if some of the scans seem dark and/or muddy, remember that I was about to smash my scanner.

So I bought 5 packs, each of which cost a dollar and contains 4 stickers… a quarter a sticker is a shade pricey when you consider that you’re not paying for inserts, but they *are* stickers rather than cardboard, I suppose.

Here’s a base sticker.

Not bad, kinda fun, more or less what you’d expect from something like this.  One thing about these… It’s not obvious that it’s a sticker.  If I handed you one without telling you what it is, you’d think it was an oddball card on fairly thin cardstock.  It’s not just a sticker on paper backing.

Before I get to the back, I’m going to share one of the sticker subsets:

There are mascot stickers, but they’re only a quarter of the size of the other stickers… Kind of interesting, and it also answered one question I had early on: “Which side is the sticker?”  It sounds stupid, but when you look at the base stickers it’s not immediately obvious.

So here’s the back of the mascot sticker sheet:

Not the greatest design, but not bad.  One thing I’d like to point out is that the numbers on the card back are the *sticker* numbers;  You can tell by the fact that this back has three numbers for the three mascots (I guess the Topps sticker doesn’t have a space in the album).  If you look at the Topps checklist, the sticker backs share a number with the front, but that means little when there’s multiple stickers to one back.

The second thing I like about having players on the sticker backs, and which makes them fun for the casual guy like me, is that I wasn’t sure how much I wanted the mascot stickers, but then I turned it over and –  Bam!  Instant trade bait!  (Dime Box Nick, this one’s coming your way)

As I discovered, the sticker fronts and backs aren’t always unrelated… Here’s the Brandon Crawford sticker…

…And the back is the “other Brandon”, Brandon Belt.  Kind of amusing to have the Two Brandons share a “card”.

There are a number of sticker subsets.  I pulled this “Perennial All-Stars” sticker of Aaron Judge.  Does two years (going on three) make him “Perennial”?

…And of course I pulled another Aaron Judge, this one from the Home Run Heroes subset.  It seems that there are five Judge stickers plus the Judge sticker back…. because JUDGE!!!  And YANKEES!!!

There are half-sized League Leaders stickers…

“Rookies And Rising Stars”

For purely aesthetic resaons, this Mookie Wilson is my favorite sticker from the five packs I bought.  I think this is from the “Dual Panel” subset:

Look at how those colors pop off the sticker!  Simple, yet very appealing.  Never underestimate the power of primary colors.

From the frankly confusing checklist provided by Topps, there are also subsets for “Trophies”, “Stance Flashiest Feet” (Stance = the manufacturer of MLB On Field Authentic socks), “Franklins Grip It An Rip It” (which I presume has something to do with Franklin batting gloves), “Home Run Derby”, “Postseason and World Series Highlights”, “2018 All-Stars” (All eight of ’em), and “150 Years of Professional Baseball” (The usual cast of Topps legends).

If you’re interested in collecting players and/or team, and not in actually pasting stickers in the album, you should know that Mookie Betts (#1), Jose Altuve (#41), Ozzie Albies (#143) and Christian Yelich (#179) are base stickers which appear to come only as “free stickers” in the sticker album. I didn’t buy the album, but I flipped through it and those stickers come in a sheet and have a generic back that’s different than the other stickers.  I can’t remember for certain, but I think they also had thinner, more “traditional” sticker backing stock.

One other bit of Topps inscrutability:  The checklist shows two different sticker back lists:  COLLECTIBLE CARD BACK I and COLLECTIBLE CARD BACK II.  In the scan below, Eddie Rosario is “BACK I” and Carlos Rodon is “BACK II”.

So what’s the difference between “BACK I” and “BACK II”?  Damned if I can figure it out.  I thought maybe they were overlapping checklists that showed, for example, two different photos of Aaron Judge, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.  The best I can figure out is that it seems like the base stickers have “BACK I” backs and the subset stickers have “BASE II” backs.  In the words of Pee Wee Herman, “Why?  What’s the significance?  I DON’T KNOW!”

So these stickers are not the be-all, end-all of 2019 collectibles but they’re fun enough and the packs are cheap (even if the price per card isn’t particularly cheap).  I’ve never been a stickers-in-an-album guy, so while I would buy more of these, it would be as a cheap pack bustin’ fix… assuming that they remain available.  The two Target stores I’ve been in each had just one box of 50 packs.  That might get replenished… or maybe not.

Is anybody going to collect the full album with stickers stuck as God (but not me) intended?

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Yet Even More 1961 Topps Sports Cars

As I’ve mentioned a number of times here, I went to a regional card show in April. There was one dealer who specialized in vintage non-sport, but also had a lot of reasonably priced vintage baseball. As I was winding down on my baseball purchases, I was idly gazing down at the tables with the non-sports when a voice in my head said “Yo, dummy! 1961 Topps Sports Cars!”.

For those of you who haven’t seen my prior posts on these, you can see them here.  For those of you who don’t care to go through the prior posts, my history with this set goes like this:  I bought my first one on COMC in late 2014 as an impulse buy, but once I got it shipped to me and saw how nice it looked, I wanted more… and then more, and before long I decided to go after the 66-card set.  It’s not a particularly rare or expensive set and I don’t know of any shortprints, but it’s also a set that not a lot of dealers carry.

 

Maxwell Smart drove a red Sunbeam during the earlier seasons of Get Smart, but his was a Sunbeam Tiger (and a later model), rather than the Alphine shown here. From what I’ve read, Alpines and Tigers look similar but the Tiger had a larger engine.

The card says the car is based on a Hillman Husky station wagon.

 

 

 

Bocar had a fiberglass body and a Corvette engine.  (I apologize for the tilted scan)

 

The back of the Karmann Ghia card says it has a whopping 36 horsepower! Wooooooo!

The Karmann Ghia also allowed me to complete my first page!

With this batch of cards I’ve made it to two-thirds of the set – 44 out of 66 cards.  I’m enjoying the casual pursuit of this set, but I may have to get a little bit more aggressive so that it doesn’t take me another 2-3 years to finish it.

Stepping Away From Baseball For A Bit

Baseball-wise, and from a strictly personal point of view, 2019 has not been a memorable or enjoyable year so far.

My Mets were expected to contend, but they hover just below the .500 mark. I don’t think I need to tell you how much fun the Orioles are to watch (hint:  not much). Minor league games I’ve been to haven’t involved well-played games and have largely been exercises in chilling in the stands with a hot dog and a Dr. Pepper. This year’s baseball sets have not delivered anything truly awful, but nothing has gotten me more excited than “Hey, that’s pretty nice”.

Lately I’ve been having trouble getting myself to sit down and write some blog posts, and I decided that maybe a little vacation from baseball cards is in order… So this post is a mish-mash of other sports, and for the next couple of posts I’m going to attempt to focus on some long-delayed non-sport sets.

I went to a card show in April and one dealer had a bin full of loose dollar cards, which made for a fun half hour or so of sorting through the cards. I ran across this 1984 Topps Terry Bradshaw card, and I couldn’t remember if I needed this Bradshaw, but I was tight on time so I just threw it in the stack. This card, by the way, is Bradshaw’s final Topps card.

It was a couple of weeks before I got to this card in my “inbox”, but I was surprised and pleased to find out that I did need the card… and for about 2 months I also thought that I had completed my 1984 Topps Steelers team set. I even went as far as taking photos of the completed pages and such.

…But then I did something I’ve done before and never quite learn from… I say “Hey, just to make sure, I should check the PSA team set listings to see how many cards they say is a team set”. So I looked. I have 16 cards. PSA says 17 cards. Damn.  Turns out I’m missing the 1983 Scoring Leaders card which features Gary Anderson and Mark Moseley. Oops. This does not impact my life greatly as football is very much on the backburner behind a number of other projects, but I’ll keep it in mind for my next show (hopefully in July).

Another card I got out of that Dollar bin is this 1971 Fleer Harlem Globetrotters card of Bobby Joe Mason. I wasn’t looking for Harlem Globetrotter cards, I don’t have a wantlist or any thoughts of ever chasing the set… but it’s a Globetrotter, it’s in nice shape and it’s a buck.

One of my ongoing open-ended projects is collecting hockey cards where there’s a “Photobombing Capital”, like on this 1984/85 O-Pee-Chee Barry Beck card.  On this particular card, Beck is more the photobomber than the Capital (who, I’m pretty sure, is left wing Bob Carpenter).

I collected hockey cards from 1977 to 1982 and took a couple of years off in the early 1980’s.  As it turns out, this was the first set I missed, which is kind of a shame because it’s a really nice design.

I’m not exactly a fan of figure skating, but I’ve been known to sit down and watch it with Mrs. Shlabotnik and I’ve picked up a few things in the process.  Along the lines of “just because”, I pick up a figure skater card here and there, and the latest such card is this 1996 Upper Deck Olympicard of Gold Medalist Scott Hamilton.

I came along too late to see Scott win Gold, but I have seen him skate none-competitively in person and I appreciate his TV commentary… Plus this card was cheap (always a key factor for something which isn’t something I really collect).

Here’s the back:

I got exposed to a lot of New York Rangers hockey in my youth, since my father never missed a game on TV, so this next card has the double appeal of featuring the Rangers’ Vezina Trophy-winning goalie Gilles Villemure, as well as being a cool shot of a goalie wearing an old-school mask.

Here’s some vintage football, the 1958 Topps rookie card of Gary “My name sounds like I should be an accountant” Glick.

The back of the card starts off with “The Steelers surprised everyone when they made Gary their No. 1 draft choice a couple of years ago”. I got curious about how high a draft pick Gary was, figuring it had to be pretty high because the Steelers were perennial doormats in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Turns out Gary was the first player taken overall in 1956. The Steelers passed on future HOFers Lenny Moore, Forrest Gregg and Sam Huff, but the same can be said of a number of other teams.

Before I move on from Gary Glick, I was also amused by another sentence on the back, one I misread at first: “He’s seldom faked out by the shifty NFL pass catchers…” and then I realized that the fourth letter is an ‘F’… SHIFTY, not… um… something else.

While I was poking through various folders full of scans, I found a forgotten three-year-old scan of a card from an impulse-buy pack of 2016 Panini Classics football…

And I said “I had a Carson Wentz rookie card?!?”  To be honest, I didn’t know Carson Wentz from Gary Glick at the time, so I scanned it as part of the pack, didn’t post it and then it was gone from my consciousness.  Now ask me if I still have it.  Honestly, I don’t know.  Maybe.  Probably not.

Something In The Tidewater

I was recently going through my Mets minor league binders, looking for cards to scan for my “1980’s Desert Island Binder” project, when I noticed something about the 1981 TCMA Tidewater Tides team set.

Now the 1981 Tides, who were the Mets top farm team at the time, weren’t anything special… they went 70-68 and finished in 3rd place, 17.5 games behind the Columbus Clippers.  Looking at the team through 21st Century eyes, though, and you can’t help but notice how many future MLB managers and coaches were on the roster.

Let’s start with the arguably biggest name, managerially:  Bruce Bochy

Bochy is wrapping up his 25-year managing career at the end of this season.  In 1981, however, he was just a AAA catcher.

One of Bochy’s teammates also put in a number of years as a manger, but Ron Gardenhire has managed the Twins for “only” 13 years and is in his second year managing the Tigers.

Gardenhire would be a September call-up in 1981 and would play in 5 Major League seasons, all of them with the Mets.

Gardy’s long-time pitching coach, Rick Anderson, also played for the 1981 Tides.  Anderson is also currently with the Tigers.

Anderson toiled in the Mets farm system for 8 seasons before making his MLB debut in 1986.

Ray Searage has been a Pirates coach since 2010 and is seen by some as one of the best pitching coaches in the Majors.

As a player, Searage pitched for the Mets, Brewers, White Sox and Dodgers, and while pitching professionally from 1976 to 1992, he never spent a full season in the Majors.

Sam Perlozzo managed the Orioles from August, 2005 to June, 2007 and has also put a number of years of Major League service as a third base coach for the Mets, Reds, Mariners, Orioles and Phillies.

As a player, Perlozzo had cups of coffee with the Twins and Padres, and shared a rookie card with Lou Whitaker.  He also played a year in Japan with the Yakult Swallows.

Wally Backman had the best playing career of any of these future coaches and managers, playing 14 seasons with 5 teams and winning a World Championship with the 1986 Mets.  Backman was hired as the Diamondbacks manager in November 2004 and was fired days later after a number of personal and financial (*ahem*) issues came to light.  Backman is currently the manager of the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League.

Jesse Orosco never coached or managed any teams that I’m aware of, but he pitched in 24 Major League seasons and he’s a favorite of mine so I’m sneaking him in here.

Fun COMC Discoveries

One of the things I enjoy about shopping on COMC… well, other than my often having available credit from cards I’ve sold… is that you sometimes find stuff that you may never have found otherwise.  Today I’ve got a couple of those I’d like to share.

The first one doesn’t seem like a “discovery” at first glance.

Just a 1996 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice card of Mets shortstop Rey Ordonez, right?

The back looks like a Collector’s Choice card, with only the card numbering (44 / 48) providing a clue that this is something different.

It doesn’t look obviously “mini”, but when you hold it in your hand the size feels a bit off.

It’s not until it’s put next to the actual 1996 Collector’s Choice Rey Ordonez card (which is from the “Rookie Class” subset”) that you realize this is no mere pseudo-parallel…

I got more excited than I should when I discovered this, because now a very-familiar photo (I’ve had the card on the right since 1996) had a background to go with it, and I always prefer cards that have the background.

I didn’t scan the back of the “Rookie Class” Ordonez, but it’s an even bigger difference… Different layout, different photo, different text.  I don’t know that you can tell from these photos, but the “mini” card is a couple of 16ths of an inch smaller in height and width.

So what is this mystery mini?  According to COMC, it’s from an Upper Deck CardZillion/Folz set.  From what I can tell after some research, they were sold out of vending machines at Toys R Us stores. Trading Card DB doesn’t have much more than a checklist and a scattering of images.  My 2008 Standard Catalog has nothing about this set, not under Upper Deck, CardZillion or Folz (which, I discovered, is the name of the vending company)

I did find at least one other card like this one – there’s a Jason Kendall card that is also in the Rookie Class subset in the original CC set but not on the CardZillion card.  I did find some cards (i.e. Frank Thomas, Barry Bonds) which, from the scans, looked like they were made with some sort of Chrome-y, Dufex-y process.

Oh, one more difference;  the CardZillion cards appear to all be full-bleed, where many (but not all) of the Collector’s Choice cards have a white border.

OK, moving on to another discovery… Last year I was thinking about the New York Rangers TV broadcasts which were always on in my house growing up.  The voices of the Rangers at that time were Jim Gordon and former referee Bill “The Big Whistle” Chadwick.  Even though I never became a Rangers fan, I had fond memories of these two, and sometime last year I got the idea… “Hey, Bill Chadwick is in the HOF, maybe there’s a card of him.”  So off to COMC I went…

…et voila!

This is from the 1983 Cartophilium Hockey Hall Of Fame set, and as you can tell, it’s quite a nice card.  The set as a whole looks pretty nice;  it doesn’t really fit into my hockey collection as it currently stands, but I’d encourage others to check the set out.

Here’s the back (not quite as nice):

As the back states, The Big Whistle was inducted into the Hockey HOF in 1964, was the first U.S. born ref in the NHL, and originated the system of hand signals associated with penalties.

Since I have another minute or two, I will share one other card which isn’t a “discovery”, but I did get it through COMC and it’s one of the more thoroughly uninteresting cards you’ll find.

I generally like 1970 Topps, but on this particular card you have the grey border, a black team name, the lack of a cap, a white jersey with no piping or pinstripes, the blank expression on Rich Nye’s face… it’s all quite amazingly dull.  I’m surprised that someone at Topps didn’t say “Hey, that light tower in the background might catch someone’s interest, maybe we should airbrush that out”.

Incidentally, Rich Nye wasn’t “The Science Guy”, but he did become a practicing veterinarian after his baseball career was over.

 

Custom Draft Picks And Scoops

So I don’t have a lot of time for the writing part of the whole blogging thing, but I made a bunch of customs for a number of 1st round MLB draft picks, and I made a bunch of TSR “Scoops” customs, and I need to spend my Sunday doing some of the things I should’ve done when I was making custom cards during the week.

OK, so here are the first 4 picks in the draft;  I did the Rutschman custom because I’m an Orioles fan, but I also found images of the #2 – 4 guys because it wasn’t out of the question that the O’s would draft them.  Since I already had images, I went ahead and made customs for those players & their drafting teams.

#1 – Adley Rutschman, Oregon State University

#2 – Bobby Witt, Jr. – Colleyville Heritage HS (TX)
For those who didn’t know, Bobby Witt Sr. pitched 16 seasons in the Majors, mostly for the Texas Rangers.

#3 – Andrew Vaughn – University of California

#4 – J.J. Bleday – Vanderbilt University
I really hate these black-with-gold-pinstripes Vandy uniforms, but perhaps that just labels me as an old man.

I also did a few other draft picks for various reasons…

#10 – Hunter Bishop – Arizona State University

#11 – Alek Manoah – West Virginia University

#12 – Brett Baty – Lake Travis HS (TX)

That wraps up the draft picks… for now, anyway. If you ask nicely (and if I can find usable images, sometimes a very tall order), I’ll make a custom for your team’s #1 pick.

Moving on to the latest “Scoops” customs…

A lot of Mets fans… or at least a lot of the more vocal Mets fans… were calling for the team to ditch Jason Vargas and go after Dallas Keuchel. I’m OK with Vargas in his role as back of the rotation guy, and the Vargas faithful (relatively speaking) were rewarded this week when he shutout the Giants.

The Orioles remain on a pace to lose well over 100 games, but they’ve shown signs of being a team that might – MIGHT – suck less in the remaining games.

Pedro Severino, acquired on waivers from the Nationals towards the end of spring training, hit three homers against the Rangers and made a heads-up play to end the game by chasing down a wild pitch 3rd strike and throwing the batter out at first.

Yesterday the O’s were in Houston and Anthony Santander, playing in just his third game of 2019, made a impressive catch to rob Yuli Gurriel of a home run, and then doubled Michael Brantley off of first.

If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth seeking out (and isn’t hard to find).

OK, I’ve got to get back to my to-do list. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everybody.

Can 1990 Bowman Be Best?

I have this project I’ve been working on and off for a number of months;  I’m taking several thousand cards from 1990 and making a sort of “yearbook” by taking one and only one example of a particular player on a particular team and putting it in binders devoted to 1990 cards. So, for example, there would be one card for Joe Carter with the Indians and one card of him with the Padres. The decision on which Joe Carter cards to binder are strictly aesthetic (and completely subjective).

Here, as an example, is page 5 from the Tigers section of the 1990 AL Binder. Players are in alphabetical order and here we have Tigers from Mike Schwabe to Gary Ward.

Mixed in with the Topps, Fleer, Donruss and Bowman are two oddballs: top left is from 1990 Topps Major League Debut (which was a box set different than the current Pro Debut) and bottom left is a Starline Long John Silver’s card.

A little side note:  In the case of the two Bowman cards, they’re here mainly because each player – Eric Stone and Steve Wapnick – didn’t have any other Major League cards in 1990.  Stone never pitched in the Majors at all, so if there’s ever a crunch for space in my Tigers pages, his card stands a good chance of getting removed.

I brought this project up when I was recently somewhat defending 1990 Bowman in a Twitter discussion. My outlandish observation was that, despite all too many cards like this…

…There are, in fact, cases where a player’s Bowman card is the best 1990 card that player has.  My statement was met with some skepticism, I must say, so I’m here to show a few examples which (I hope) prove my point.

A couple of things to keep in mind with these cards is that there are a lot of cards from each 1990 manufacturer which do not hold up under 2019 quality expectations.  Poor photo selection, dark shots and off-register printing all contribute to the cards looking less-than-great compared even to the low-end sets of today.  Bowman wasn’t as high-end of a set as Upper Deck or Leaf, but it was also at a higher price point than regular Topps, and it seems that it was printed a little nicer than some of the other sets, even while being printed on the usual Topps cardboard stock.

So with all that out of the way, let’s start with Keith Hernandez;  he was with the Mets in 1989 and signed a free agent contract with the Indians.  Topps, Fleer, Donruss, Score and Upper Deck featured him with the Mets, but Bowman (which came out in early Summer, if I remember correctly) and the various Traded/Update sets showed Keith with Cleveland.

Now none of these four cards is a stinker, but I’m partial to the Bowman card even though it’s just a posed shot.  I think that, even 29 years later, part of me is still a bit weirded out to see Keith Hernandez in a Cleveland uniform, so I want the photo which most exemplifies that weirded-out state.  For this example, I’m expecting that most of you are going to disagree with my choice.

Let’s move on to Dave Bergman, a player whose Bowman card is more objectively better that the others.

As you might guess, there are 1990 Dave Bergman cards I don’t own… His Fleer and Upper Deck cards are nice enough, but I don’t think they stand up to the action shot on Bergman’s Bowman.

1990 was the rookie year for five-time All-Star Travis Fryman.  The 21-year-old Fryman made his MLB debut in early July and not surprisingly he wasn’t in most of the flagship sets.  He did appear in Bowman, Topps Traded and Fleer Update.

None of the cards are what you’d call a thing of beauty, but I went with the Bowman on this one.  I just preferred the home uni and  spring training photo to the Topps headshot and Fleer empty stands on the road shots.

I’m going to wrap up with Rickey Henderson.  I have six different 1990 cards for Rickey, and I went with the Bowman (although it was a close fight with another card).

Before I get to the “finals”, here are the four cards which got eliminated rather quickly…   The action shots are pretty good, but I  prefer cards where the player’s face can be seen, and a couple of these (Score especially) are pretty dark.

It finally came down to Bowman vs. Upper Deck, and I (obviously) decided to go with the Bowman… but I would’ve ultimately been fine with the UD.

So that concludes – for the time being anyway – the argument I’m making for 1990 Bowman;  it may not be the best or most visually exciting set, but within the context of the times it was a better set than people currently give it credit for.