Weigh-In #56: It’s The Most Fattening Time Of The Year…

The same thing happens every year around this time… You’re in the store, and you see all kinds of new stuff that looks like you might enjoy it, so you try a little bit of this and a little bit of that, sampling something every time you go to the store until the next thing you know, you’ve got this extra flab that you just can’t shake and you wonder “How the heck did I get to this point?”

Oh… did you think I was talking about something other than my collection?  New product comes out, and it’s try a hanger of this, a blaster of that, a few packs here and there, and before you know it there’s a couple of tall stacks sitting on your desk that seem to have come out of nowhere.

So I’m a couple of weeks late for my quarterly weigh-in, but the general idea of it is to post my collection’s status to see if I’m making any progress in my quest to get rid of the dead weight, the stuff I look at and think “Why do I still have that?”

Before I get into that, I’m going to touch on some of the pseudo-goals I’d set for 2017, and how it’s working out for me.

Keeping a box of recent acquisitions in my car:

This was a solution to two problems. Problem #1 is that I impulse-buy too many cards. Problem #2 was that I don’t spend any “quality time” with a lot of the cards I buy, they just pile up on my desk. The solution was taking the cards in questions (nothing vintage or valuable, of course) and keep them in a box in my car so that I can thumb through them when I’m having a crappy day at work and the urge to buy cards comes at me. Having the box on hand has worked out pretty well, because there were many days when taking a “cigarette break” in my car and going through the cards would take the steam out of the pack-buying urges.

Making 1990’s Frankensets and getting rid of the resulting unwanted cards:

One of the ways I’m combating bloat in my collection is by creating Frankensets for particular years in the 1990’s, organized by team and player. By organizing my cards this way, I can find out when I’ve got more cards of a player than I really want or need, and I can feel comfortable getting rid of those extra 1992 cards of Roger Clemens because I’ll still have at least one nicer card to represent that jerk – I mean, Roger – for 1992.

I had thought I would go for the low-hanging fruit and make a 1995 Frankenset, given that I consider 1995 the worst overall year from my 40+ years in the hobby. The problem is that the fruit was hanging a little too low; Because I don’t like 1995, I didn’t have all that many 1995 cards in the first place, and there wasn’t much “body fat” to shed.

So, for 2Q 2017, I’ll be a little more scientific about it and work on the year for which I have the most cards. I ran a query on my database, which I’ll now show you in graphical form:

This is my collection in terms of cards per year, from 1968 to 2017.  Those tall red bars in the middle are 1990 and 1991, the beer belly of my collection.  Do I really need 3,800 cards just from 1990?  I think it’s time to work on my core.

BTW, the black bar is 1995, the “low-hanging fruit” I talked about.

OK, on to the “Weigh-in” part. To remind everybody of what these are about… Much like weight-loss programs will have you weigh-in on a regular basis to keep track of your progress, I find that posting updates on the organizing and streamlining of my collection helps me in a number of ways. It gives me an opportunity to look at the big picture, and helps with both motivation (if I do well) and guilt (if I don’t).

To add to the visual appeal of something which isn’t the most exciting information, I’ve included a number of cards I’ve been meaning to post.

First I’m going to document the changes since the last Weigh-in on January 2nd:

Net change in the collection: +587 (591 added, 4 purged)

Net change to the # of cards in the house: +1,117 (1,163 in, 46 out)

It’s amazing how this stuff builds up.  While I did buy a wax box of 2004 Topps Total, that was only 360 cards.  The other 757 cards came into the house in bits and pieces –  a blaster here,  a repack there… before you know it, you’ve acquired 1117 cards in just over 3 months.

Next, the totals since I started tracking this stuff on 10/16/2011.

Total # of cards purged from the collection, to date: 12,139

Net change to the collection, to date: +840

Total # of cards which have left the house, to date: 48,905

Net change to the number of cards in the house, to date: -25,646

Number of individual cards tracked in my Access database: 55,419

Number of cards that make up the sets flagged as completed in my Access database: 16,890

…which means I’ve got at least 72,309 cards in my collection


Cherry-Picking The 30-Day Challenge: “A Card Bought In Person And The Story Behind It”

Several weeks ago, Tony over at Off-Hiatus Baseball cards came up with a 30-day baseball card challenge, and a lot of bloggers have been joining in. I’m not going to do all 30, but I’ll definitely cherry-pick some topics… like today’s:

Day #7: A card you bought in person and the story behind it.

This story goes back to 1991 – I was 25 years old at the time – and involves this autographed hockey card.
1990-91 Topps Derek King Autographed
I was at a card show on Long Island and Derek King, who was a New York Islander at the time, was the show’s autograph guest.  More importantly for someone like me who isn’t much of an autograph collector and doesn’t like the Islanders, he was the FREE autograph guest.

I thought it would be nice to have his signature on something other than an index card, but at that point it had been 5 years or so since I’d actively collected hockey.  I looked around the show and didn’t find any cards I was willing to pay the inflated prices for, but one dealer was selling packs of that year’s Topps hockey cards.  I bought three packs and started to open the packs while chatting with the dealer about how I was hoping to pull a Derek King so I could get it signed.  Much to my delight, I pulled the card above out of the second pack, and even though it was a common, it was still one of the more exciting pulls I’d had out of a hockey pack in a long time.

With card in hand, went and got in line to get Derek King’s autograph… and the experience made me grateful that I hadn’t paid anything for the sig.  Without looking up or saying anything, he took my card, signed it, and slid it back across the table to me.  I thanked him, turned away, rolled my eyes and went back to the show.

I realize autograph guests are not obligated to interact with the collectors, but this always stuck with me because getting the item to be autographed was far more exciting than actually getting it autographed.

Has anybody else had any encounters with Derek King?  I’ve always wondered if he was having a bad day, or if he was generally unpleasant.

Forgotten Franchises: The WHA’s Philadelphia/Vancouver Blazers

The Philadelphia Blazers were one of the 12 teams which played in the WHA’s first season… but was not, technically, an original franchise.

That’s because the original plan was to have a team in south Florida called the Miami Screaming Eagles, but due to arena and money issues, that team never took the ice. Instead, the franchise was transferred to Philadelphia to compete for fans with the then-6-year-old Flyers team.

While the franchise was still in Miami, they signed two prominent NHL players; goalie Bernie Parent…

…And center Derek Sanderson.

Both Sanderson and the Blazers realized a mistake had been made, and after 8 games, the Blazers paid Sanderson off to void his contract.  Sanderson went back to the Boston Bruins.

Bernie Parent, meanwhile, had a contract dispute one game into the playoffs and would declared himself a free agent.  The Blazers would trade his WHA rights to the New York Golden Blades, while his NHL rights belonged to the Maple Leafs, the team he left when he jumped to the WHA.   Parent said that he’d only jump back to the NHL if he could play in Philly, so the Leafs traded his rights to the Flyers and he signed for less money than he could’ve gotten from the Golden Blades.

Getting back to the Blazers… In 1972/73, the team went 38-40-0, finished third in the East Division and got swept in the first round by the Cleveland Crusaders.

After that inaugural season, the team was sold to a new owner who moved the team to Vancouver; On the plus side, the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks were even less established than the Flyers, having been in place since the 1970-71 season. Unfortunately for the Blazers, they would share an arena with their NHL counterpart.

In order to compete with the Canucks, the Blazers owner tried – and failed – to lure Phil Esposito away from the Bruins.

Without Espo, the Vancouver Blazers finished 5th in West Division with a 27-50-1 record and did not make the playoffs.

In the third season, the Blazers again missed the playoffs by finishing 4th in the new Canadian Division with a 37-39-2 record. After two seasons in Vancouver, the team moved to Alberta and become the Calgary Cowboys. Two years after that, the franchise folded.

Other notable Blazers included Butch Deadmarsh, Andre Lacroix, who lead the league in points that first year before being traded, and most surprisingly to me, Hockey Hall-of-famer and Hart Trophy winner Andy Bathgate. Bathgate coached the team during part of the 1973/74 season, and would briefly come out of retirement at age 42 and play 11 games for the Vancouver Blazers in 1974/75

A Scout Is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly…

…Courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent!

…But I’m not talking about that kind of scout today… Not the Boy Scouts, although I was one for a number of years. Nope, I’m sharing a number of cards from the Kansas City Scouts, a former NHL team that currently exists as the New Jersey Devils… but you knew that from reading my “Forgotten Franchises” posts about the Scouts and the NHL’s Colorado Rockies, right?

We’ll start off with coach Bep Guidolin. Bep needs an exclamation point like Jeb Bush had.

…And check out that jacket! The 1970’s in action, ladies and gentlemen!

In 1942, Bep! became the youngest player in NHL history, making his debut a month shy of his 17th birthday. Bep! played for the Bruins, Red Wings and Black Hawks, and would coach the Bruins and Scouts. Bep! would only make it partway through his second season with the Scouts before losing his job. Without knowing much about the situation, I find it hard to believe that Bep! was at fault… In the mid-1970’s there were over 30 teams between the NHL and WHA, and there wasn’t the European presence we have now.  As a result, talent was spread thin.  The Kansas City Scouts were a really bad team.

Here’s Dave Hudson skating against the Capitals. As bad as the Scouts were, they weren’t as historically bad as the Caps. Yay, Scouts.
Hudson, as I’ve mentioned in this blog before, was acquired in two different NHL expansion drafts. The Islanders drafted him from Chicago, and the Scouts drafted him from the Islanders.  40+ years later, you can almost hear Dave Hudson crying “Aw, crap, not again…”

Ed Gilbert played for the Scouts, Penguins and the WHA’s Cincinnati Stingers.
I kinda like the Scouts’ uniforms from a distance, but up close there’s a bit much going on.

Jim McElmury was a rarity in the 1970’s NHL: He’s American.  McElmury was born in Minnesota, played college hockey at Bemidji State, and was a member of the 1972 Silver-medal U.S. Olympic hockey team.

And finally… I don’t want to completely mislead you with the Boy Scout references.  Here’s a crooked scan of the back of my BSA membership card from 1976.


PWE Playhouse: A Padded Envelope That’s The Stuff Of (Shoebox) Legends

It’s been a while since I’ve had a PWE Playhouse post, so let’s trot out the artwork that I worked so hard to create.
PWE Playhouse

This PWE came from Shane of Shoebox Legends fame, and it spans several decades and sports.  Because of one particular card which would not fit in a standard PWE, this time around it was a padded envelope, which allowed him to throw some extra goodness my way. Other than leaving the highlight of the PWE for last, I’ll run through the rest pretty much in the order they got uploaded.

I have something of a soft spot for 1982 Topps.  It’s not a legendary set by any means, but at the time it was something of a return to form after a couple of years of (in my eyes) sub-par sets.
I’m not sure if I need this Leibrandt;  I kind of hope I do because 1982 is a Topps set I wouldn’t mind completing someday, but it’s junkwax-y status has made it a low priority for years.

There’s a part of me that likes the fact that a team called the Reds had border colors of blue, brown and yellow.

This next card, a 1988 Classic Cal Ripken, indirectly lead me into a time sinkhole this past weekend.
I’m not going to say any more about that right now because I will be writing about it in detail, probably next week.  For now I’ll just say that I really like this Cal.

This is a 1994 Pinnacle Museum Collection card of Jamie Moyer. Shiny Shiny.
This card has double appeal to me; Moyer’s obviously an Oriole (even though 1994 is a bit before I became an O’s fan), but Moyer also holds a special place in my heart because he was the last active Major Leaguer who is older than I am.

This lovely 1995-96 Panini foil sticker reminds me of something I’ve been reading lately about the Islanders…
…The Islanders currently play at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, but it seems like neither landlord nor tenant are happy with the arrangement.  Before the end of the decade, the Islanders could find themselves being asked to remove themselves from their place of residence. Even if they started building an arena now, it might not be ready in time… and this is where the Whalers logo comes in. The other day the governor of Connecticut and the mayor of Hartford offered that fine city as a temporary home for the Islanders… and if they decide they’d like to stay there, well even better! The Islanders currently have the second-worst attendance in the NHL, so this doesn’t seem so far-fetched, even if it is just a political PR move. The Carolina Hurricanes have the worst attendance in the league, might also be looking for a new home and – guess what? They’re the team formerly known as the Hartford Whalers. Things could get interesting in the NHL over the next few years. Or not.

Another Cal… The scan doesn’t look shiny, but it is red and shiny.  Maybe I’m just missing something, but I don’t know what the background is supposed to represent.

I like this next card if only because it shows a hockey sweater from back when they were really sweaters.  Ebbie Goodfellow is a Hockey HOFer who won three Stanley Cups for Detroit.  “Ebbie” is short for Ebenezer, and this card is from the 2004/05 In The Game Franchises” set.
I briefly thought about creating a “Forgotten Franchises” post around the Detroit Falcons, but it’s just an earlier name for the Red Wings.  They started off as the Cougars, changed to the Falcons and then Red Wings.  There ya go.

Mike Palmateer! Dude was a ray of hope during a dark time in Capitals history.
The details elude me after 35+ years, but I remember listening to a Caps game on my trusty Panasonic radio (the Caps’ flagship station at the time, WTOP, had a far-reaching signal at night) as Palmateer was in goal for the Caps breaking a long losing streak… I want to say 11 losses in a row. Of course, double-digit losing streaks were not a rarity for the 1970’s Capitals

You’ve gotta love that mask, and there are relatively few hockey cards which show the Caps road uniforms from that period.

Miguel Tejada came to Baltimore amid great expectations.  When all was said and done, the O’s didn’t get the guy who was an MVP in Oakland.
This is a silver parallel of 2005 Topps, by the way.

I have not actively followed the NHL since before the locked-out season, but I do know who Tuukka Rask is.  This is a Panini sticker from a few years ago, and a pretty nice-looking one at that.

I’m surprised that I didn’t have this card already, but now I do.  Matt Harvey had been THE GUY with Mets fans, now I suspect that he’s fallen behind Syndergaard and deGrom for many fans.  I know he has for me.
Tom Seaver, of course, will always be “The Franchise”.

Lucas Duda… another Met who needs to re-establish himself after injuries.  So much of the Mets’ success depends on their health this year (he says, as if that’s some sort of brilliant insight)

Shane threw in a couple of 2016/17 Stadium Club Premier League soccer cards!  The design is the same as 2016 Stadium Club baseball, at least on the front.
I know nothing about David Silva and Googling didn’t turn up anything noteworthy.

For anyone who’s interested, here’s the back.

Patrick van Aanholt looks dumbfounded by something.  “Whuuh?”

Moving on to hockey, Shane gave me my first Upper Deck hockey card in… Jeez, I don’t know. And it’s possibly the most famous hockey card out of the current set, the “If you score we get a puppy” card!
This card is all I know about Bobby Ryan. Like I said, the NHL drove me away after that lockout.  But if I’m only going to have one card from 2016/17 UD, it seems like this is the one to have… like that 2014 Coco Crisp card with the afro and sunglasses.

And finally, the centerpiece for this package… A fantastic 1952 Topps card of New York Giants pitcher Monte Kennedy!
Every one if his baseball card spells his first name “Monte”. Baseball Reference and any other online notation I could find spells it “Monty”. His full name is actually Montia, which is a new one on me.

Kennedy pitched 8 years for the Giants, primarily as a starter at the beginning and then mostly out of the bullpen towards the end of his career. After his playing days, he would become a police detective in Richmond, VA.

Here’s the back. Monte had grey eyes… I don’t think I knew that 1952 Topps included eye color among the bits of info on the back.
I went to school with a girl with stunning grey eyes.  Those eyes saw right into your soul… but that’s another story.

And I now present an updated image of my entire collection of 1952 Topps cards!  (Insert fanfare on a kazoo)
Yep, just the two cards. For the briefest of moments after I put the Kennedy card into the sheet, I thought “Hey, maybe I should try for a 1952 New York Giants team set!” and then reality smacked me upside the head and said “Willie Mays, dumbass”.  I said “Oh.  Yeah.  Never mind.”

So there we go, the majority of the cards in my padded envelope. Thanks, Shane! As always, a thoroughly enjoyable thing to come home to!

Fashionably Late COMC Black Friday #2: Hockey

Another batch of cards from COMC, this time hockey.  For someone who stopped following the NHL a dozen years ago, I’ve been acquiring a fair amount of hockey.

Back in September, I pondered working towards completing one of the 1970’s hockey sets I’d collected as a kid. I never formally committed to finishing either of the finalists, but I was leaning heavily towards 1977/78 Topps. As a sort of prelude for working on that set, I got one of the key cards on my wantlist, this lovely Guy Lafleur.
Ah, but the best-laid plans of mice and men… For better or for worse, the “complete a hockey set” idea has been shelved for the time being. There are a couple of things at play, but the biggest issue arose when I realized that most of my usual sources of cards are good for vintage hockey or recent hockey, but nothing in between. These are far from insurmountable obstacles, but it rapidly became more trouble than it’s worth to me at this moment. I’m sure I’ll come back to it at some point, but for now, it’s been downgraded to “Keep half-an-eye out for deals” status.

Usually when someone speaks of a “cameo appearance” on a card, it involves a HOFer who happens to appear on someone else’s card. Me being who I am, it doesn’t always work that way for me.

Exhibit A: This 1993-94 OPC Premier card of Hockey HOFer Joe Sakic.
If this card featured only Sakic, I wouldn’t look at it twice… but I was a Washington Capitals fan from the late 1970’s to the mid-1990’s, so right off the bat I said “Hey, that’s Michal Pivonka!”  Pivonka was a center who played his entire career with the Caps, spanning from the mid 1980’s to the late 1990’s.  On the Caps’ All-time lists, he’s 6th in games played, tied for 10th in goals, 3rd in assists and 6th in points.

I admit, I also like the fact that the Sakic card is like the hockey cards I grew up with in that the featured player was photographed while visiting the Caps.

I’ve been on a “Sports Illustrated For Kids” kick lately, and as I mentioned I was a Caps fan for quite a long while, so when I saw this SI4K card of former Capitals star Mike Gartner…. Could I pass up a card like this? Aw, hell no!
No questioning this card was issued in the 1990’s… 1994, to be specific.

One of Gartner’s Caps teammates for four seasons was one of my favorite all-time players, Dennis Maruk.  When I saw that there was a 2001-02 Upper Deck Hockey Legends card which showed Maruk with the Cleveland Barons – he played both years of the Barons’ existence – I knew I had to have it.
Maruk’s got a full beard rather than his awesome Fu Manchu mustache, but we can’t have everything. He started out with the California Golden Seals and stayed with the team as it moved to Cleveland and then merged with the Minnesota North Stars. Two games into the 1978-79 season, he was traded to the Caps for a first-round draft pick.

So the first post in this series featured baseball and New York. This post features Canada’s national sport. The third and final post will go even more international, even while staying true to this blog’s baseball card roots. I can’t hint any more than that.

Remembrance Of Things Past

The San Diego Chargers are no more.
It was announced yesterday that the Chargers will be moving to Los Angeles for the 2017 season and will share a $2 kajillion stadium with the Rams starting in 2019.  Pardon me while I shake my head, but I’ve seen this movie before.  Back in the 1980’s and early 1990’s the Rams shared LA with the Raiders, and the story ended with both teams leaving town.  Whatever happened to all the talk of “LA doesn’t support football”?  Don’t answer that, I know the answer.

Given that I never really stopped thinking of the Rams as the Los Angeles Rams, I began pondering other teams from my youth which are no longer with us…

…And I said “I’ll bet there’s a post in there!”

The 1970’s were a pretty… um… dynamic time with regard to franchises, so for the following exercise in nostalgia I’m going to use 1977 as a “baseline”, as that was the first year I collected hockey (and had already been collecting baseball and football).  It was also, of course, 40 years ago.

I never collected basketball, but I won’t leave them out of the discussion.


Baltimore Colts (moved to Indianapolis)

Houston Oilers (moved to Nashville; currently the Tennessee Titans)

St. Louis Cardinals (moved to Phoenix)

San Diego Chargers (moved to Los Angeles)

Prodigal Sons:  A year ago I would’ve included the Los Angeles Rams on this list.  25 years ago, I would’ve included the Oakland Raiders.

Biggest travesty of justice:  Baltimore Colts (Right, CommishBob?)  This is one of those textbook examples of a community which supported their team in every way that mattered with the sole exception of ponying up for a new stadium.

1977 NFL team I miss for other reasons:  I’ll go with the Oilers, since they’re the only one that actually changed names.


Atlanta Flames (moved to Calgary)

Cleveland Barons (merged with Minnesota North Stars)

Colorado Rockies (moved to New Jersey; now the Devils)

Minnesota North Stars (moved to Dallas; now the Stars)

Biggest travesty of justice and the team I miss the most:  No question about this, it’s the North Stars on both counts.  I’ve always been fond of the North Stars logo and colors, the Barons and Rockies didn’t last much longer than 1977, and it’s hard to feel sorry for Atlanta when they’ve now lost two NHL teams.


Birmingham Bulls (folded when left out of the NHL/WHA merger)

Cincinnati Stingers (folded when left out of the NHL/WHA merger)

Indianapolis Racers (folded)

New England Whalers (moved to Raleigh, NC; now the Carolina Hurricanes)

Houston Aeros (folded when left out of the NHL/WHA merger)

Quebec Nordiques (moved to Denver; now the Colorado Avalanche)

Winnipeg Jets (the original Jets moved to Phoenix and are now the Coyotes).

Biggest travesty of justice:  So many to chose from…  Any Canadian city the size of Quebec *should* have a hockey team.  Hartford and Houston both had solid fan bases… as did Winnipeg, but their team has since been replaced.

1977 WHA team I miss for other reasons:  I collect the Stingers… ‘Nuff said.

I tried following basketball as a kid, but despite giving it the ol’ college try I just couldn’t get into it… but that doesn’t mean I should leave hoops out of this discussion.

Buffalo Braves (moved to San Diego;  now the L.A. Clippers)
1974-75 Topps Basketball Garfield Heard

Kansas City Kings (moved to Sacramento)

New Jersey Nets (moved to Brooklyn)

New Orleans Jazz (moved to Salt Lake City)

Seattle SuperSonics (moved to Oklahoma City;  now the Thunder)

Honorary mention:  Washington Bullets (Same team, same city, different name)
1980-81 Topps Basketball Bullets Pin Up

Biggest travesty of justice:  Easy peasy… Seattle should never have had the Sonics taken away from them.

1977 NBA team I miss for other reasons:  I’ll say the New Orleans Jazz, partly because I did kinda like “Pistol Pete” Maravich (for reasons I don’t remember), but mainly because even as a 14-year-old kid I thought that “Utah Jazz” was a freakin’ stupid name.


Montreal Expos (moved to Washington)


Given the franchise stability of MLB over the past 40 years, it all comes down to the Expos.

Same place, different name:  California Angels

Travesty of justice and MLB team I miss the most:  Les Expos, naturellement!

So what teams from your own youth do you miss?  If you’re older than I am, it might be the Kansas City Athletics, California Golden Seals or Cincinnati Royals.  If you’re younger than I am, it might be the Vancouver Grizzlies, Atlanta Thrashers or maybe the USFL’s Los Angeles Express .