How The Metropolitan Museum Of Art Convinced Me To Buy My First 1953 Bowman Card

I’d never been much of a collector of 1950’s cards for much of my life. I could probably write an entire post just on that alone, but it gets summarized down to there being very little overlap between my collecting targets (teams, players, etc.) and the early-to-mid 1950’s.  My interest in these cards has increased somewhat over the past 5 years or so, but there’s still not a lot of specific cards on my wantlists.


OK, so I’m sure many of you are familiar with Jefferson Burdick… He was one of the pioneers of the hobby and later in his life he donated his enormous card collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The Met has scanned many of the cards in the Burdick Collection and have put the images on their website.

A few months ago during my lunch hour at work, I spent some time poking through the images and, for the heck of it, saving a number of images to my laptop for use in my wallpaper slideshow that’s always going on in the background. As these cards would appear on my laptop, I slowly came to realize how nice of a set 1953 Bowman Color is… and while the 1953 Bowman Pee Wee Reese is in a class by itself, most of the card images which lured me in were common cards which featured some fantastic photography… as well as fantastic fake action poses, fantastic uniforms and fantastic ballparks.  In this way I came to realize that 1953 Bowman had an appeal to me which had nothing to do with the players depicted and everything to do with the set providing a snapshot of baseball in the early 1950’s.

When I was getting ready for the card show I went to this past summer, I decided to look for some of the eye-catching commons from that set. Being the first time looking for these cards, I thought I’d limit my purchases to cards which were $2 and under. This turned out to be largely unrealistic, but I did find one card which met my financial goals:

For my purposes, this is the perfect vintage card: this card is in good condition save for the handwritten player name. The writing doesn’t interfere with the photo, but bumps the condition way down so that it falls within my collecting budget.  To be honest, if I had been a kid in 1953, I could see myself writing the player name on the front.  The one complaint I’ve always had about 1953 Bowman set (and the TCMA/SSPC sets inspired by it) is that you have to flip the card over to see who you’re looking at.

Speaking of flipping the card over…

Steve “Bud” Souchock played 8 years in the Majors, mostly with the Tigers.  Bud also earned a Bronze Star while serving three years in the military during World War II.

1953 Bowman will never be anything resembling a top priority for me, but I look forward to adding a number of commons to my collection while becoming more familiar with guys like Hoot Evers, Mickey Grasso and Gerry Staley.


2018 TSR: Combo Cards And Throwbacks! Whoo!

Three days ago I had a different idea for this virtual pack of custom cards. Then I was looking at the checklist for 2018 Topps Heritage High Numbers (which gave me the idea of doing a special kind of combo card), and I also became aware of two throwback games happening this weekend… after that, things just fell into place.

Before I get to those, however, there are some other customs that I want to get in here.

First off, the Red Sox called up Brandon Phillips, who had spent the season so far in AAA. Phillips has appeared in one game, but hit the game-winning homer in that game.

If he got a Topps Now card from that, I couldn’t find it after a quick search… but I love the fact that Phillips is the first Red Sox player to wear #0, so he gets a custom for that alone.

Each week I feature a Met, an Oriole and a manager card. Recent buzz indicates that Blue Jays manager John Gibbons will be fired after the end of the season, so I figured I’d better get his custom posted now.

If you’re not a Mets fan or don’t collect 1980’s Donruss cards, you might not know that Gibbons was a catcher who played 18 games for the Mets in the mid 1980’s. It appears that Donruss was the only manufacturer to issue a card for him during his playing days.

As little as the Orioles have been involved in the international player market in recent years, they somehow have an Australian pitcher in their organization. Alex Wells represented the O’s in this year’s Futures Game.

Wells hasn’t made it out of A-ball yet, but he’s only 21 and had an impressive August to close out the 2018 minor league season… plus he’s Australian and wears glasses, so I’m already a fan.

I struggled to find a Met for the custom this week, as pretty much anyone of note has already been featured. I decided to go in a different direction… Jose Reyes used to be my favorite Met, but now Mets fans ask why he’s still on the roster, and I have to admit, I can’t answer that.

He’s batting below the Mendoza Line, he doesn’t play defense like he used to, I can only think that he’s a favorite of the Wilpons and they don’t want to just release him. Maybe they’ll have a nice tribute at the end of the season and that can be that.

OK, throwback time. The Tigers have been celebrating the 50th anniversary of their 1968 World Championship, and as it works out they’re playing the Cardinals in Detroit this weekend, the same team they beat in 1968. As part of the festivities, the Tigers and Cardinals wore 1968 throwback uniforms, but in an interesting twist, the Tigers wore road throwbacks.

I understand the significance of these throwbacks, but they’re not the most visually exciting unforms… I like this photo of Jeimar Candelario, though, so it was a no-brainer as a custom card. BTW, the Cardinals did wear home whites in Detroit.

The Tampa Bay Rays are celebrating their 20th anniversary this season, and as part of that they wore 1998 throwbacks last night, and kicked the O’s butts in the process (as if that’s some sort of achievement this season).

I’m also not a fan of these throwbacks, but it’s all about the significance not the appeal.

When looking at the Heritage High Number checklist, I had two thoughts about the Combo card inserts. First, they obviously wanted to get as many hot rookies involved as possible. Second, these combo cards would likely feature photos of two players who happened to be standing near each other, or perhaps photoshopped into the same image. Seemingly gone are the days when a photographer would ask two players to actually pose next to each other.

So that got me thinking I should beat Topps to the punch… not only feature hot rookies, but also have intentionally bad combo cards… and this was the most fun I’ve had with customs in a while, so you’ll be seeing more of these.

First up… who can resist teenage sensation Juan Soto with his teammate, former teenage sensation Bryce Harper?

And then you’ve got the young Atlanta Braves’ dynamic duo of Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna!

I’m telling you, that’s cardboard gold right there… or they would be if they were real.  Make 1/1 superfractor parallels of these, and look out eBay!



I Never Thought That Potentially Tampered Repacks Would Be A Concern, But…

Last Friday, I got woken up at 4am by a call from work (I’m in IT) and I proceed to put in a 13 hour workday.  Needless to say, when I got out at 5pm I needed to blow off some steam.

I went to the local Target to get one of those $5 repacks, but they didn’t have any left.  If I was going to do a repack – and it really was what i was in the mood for – I had a choice between an $8 repack of unopened packs, or a $10 repack of 250 cards plus 2 unopened packs.  I had pretty decent luck the last time I went with the 250-card variety, plus I can always reuse the plastic boxes these come in, so I picked one off the shelf.

I was checking it over and the wrapper looked uneven on the bottom, but I didn’t think much about it.  It’s a repack, who’s going to mess with it?  It’s not like someone is going to steal some of the 1989 Fleer out of it.

I opened it when I got back to the car, and started to wonder when the wrapper came off fairly easy.  The last time it didn’t come off in one piece, but this time it peeled more easily.  It also resealed itself fairly well… The picture I took up top is *after* I’d gone through all the cards and semi-carefully sealed it back up.

This picture of the bottom was also after I’d resealed it.

I don’t intend for everybody to get their torches and pitchforks and stage an agrarian revolt at your local Target, I just want to put it out there that it’s possible that these repacks have been sorted through and returned to the store… Even if I have no proof and I’m not even sure I was a “victim”.

“Why on Earth would anyone tamper with a repack?” I hear you ask.  The answer came in the last cube of these I bought:

Yep, there be Harper rookies in some of these repacks!  Also Jose Ramirez rookies from 2014, from what I hear.

Now to be fair, it could very well be that if this pack *had* been tampered with, it’s entirely possible that the tamperer found nothing and returned it… but one never knows.

At any rate, this repack wasn’t as much fun as the last one, but it wasn’t without a bit of value and a fair amount of fun.  Sure a large percentage of the cards went into the recycling bin, but as I don’t drink, I figure this is my equivalent of “knocking back a couple”.

This first card probably falls under some portion of Murphy’s Law… I’m not trying to complete the 1984 Donruss set, but I enjoy pulling cards out of repacks. I appreciate these cards a lot more now than I did in 1984 (although I haven’t changed my opinion that 1984 Topps and Fleer are better sets).

Here’s the Murphy’s Law part:  Even though I only have about 100 out of the 658 cards in 1984 Donruss, both of the cards I got in this repack were doubles.

Fortunately I did need this one 1982 Fleer card I got of Scotty McGregor.

Every so often I wonder what it would be like if there were a “Tiffany” version of 1982 Fleer where they got to sort out all of the production issues they had with the set. I probably still would’ve been the only person buying a set.

Another need with a 1983 Topps Reggie Smith…

At some point i’ll probably turn my sights on finishing this set (35 years after starting it), but for now I just enjoy getting random needs.

Short-term stop!  Gotta love a card of El Toro with the Phillies.

Fernando Valenzuela pitched just 8 games for the Phils, and that wasn’t even his shortest stint with a team;  he pitched 5 games with the Cardinals and just 2 with the Angels.

I love to pull cards like this, because without seeing this card I wouldn’t know that I needed it for my Orioles team collection.  To prove my point, it took me a few minutes to find this card on COMC because it’s not flagged with team or player names, just “Awesome Action”.

I’m pretty confident that the first baseman is David Segui… I’m less confident about the Angel trying to avoid getting picked off.  I’m going to say that it’s Luis Polonia.

1993 Pacific cards were not exactly the state of the art at the time, but they’re oddball-y enough that I like them… especially when it’s Ozzie Canseco, the less-annoying of the Canseco twins (or if not less annoying, at least less conspicuous).

I’m not entirely sure why I scanned this Pinnacle card of Jeff Innis, because the only people who will care are those who were Mets fans in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

The two unopened packs included were 2016 Topps Series 2 and 2017 Topps Series 1, which helped me fill in a few gaps in those sets.  The best card out of those two packs were this “Changing Of The Guard” insert of Kris Bryant.

I even got the advertised every-other-cube “hit”.

It’s a nice looking card, even if it’s a sticker autograph of a Twins middle reliever (even if he was quite good in a number of seasons).

That’s about all I have to say about this. I fully realize that repacks don’t have a very good value for the price, but I still enjoy them… But we all gotta be careful out there, even if we’re buying just a repack.

A Nickel Bag (No, Not THAT Kind)

At the card show I went to in July there was a dealer who had a large number of dime boxes with a special volume discount: If you filled one of his paper lunch bags up to the line he’d drawn on each one, you could have that bag for $10. I got about 200 cards into my bag before my eyes glazed over from thumbing through boxes and boxes of cards, so that works out to be a nickel a card.

The dealer pointed out to me and numerous other people that the boxes weren’t full of junk wax commons, and he was not kidding. There was a wide variety of cards from baseball, football, basketball and hockey, plus wrasslin’, Star Wars, Walking Dead and other cards.

I ran across this 1981 Coca-Cola Phillies card, and even though I already have it, I couldn’t pass it by… not for a nickel.

There were some small sections which seemed like they were taken directly from a box divided by player. I’m not a collector of Hank Aaron, but I couldn’t resist a couple of cheap Hammerin’ Hank cards… especially when one was from the Galasso Glossy Greats sets. No child of the 1970’s can resist the siren call of Galasso Glossy Greats.

These were featured in the ubiquitous magazine ads for Renata Galasso, Inc., the self proclaimed “World’s Largest Hobby Card Dealer”.

I bought pretty much every “Glossy Great” card I found, even though few of the players really fall into the scope of my collection… but even if the players featured aren’t from the 1970’s, the cards from the 1970’s – something which is always welcome in my house.

I also grabbed a Hygrade Hank Aaron. Even though I don’t like this set as well, I just couldn’t pass it up.

I’m not as huge of a fan of The Walking Dead as Mrs. Shlabotnik is, but we’ve watched every season. I’ve got a bit of a thing for Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie Greene, so when I ran across a bunch of Walking Dead cards I thumbed through the endless cards of “walkers” and grime-and-guts-covered people to find any any cards featuring Maggie.

This was the best I could do, but the card will get used as part of the “taxi squad” to fill empty pockets in my Current Rosters binders.

As I mentioned, this guy had a *lot* of Star Wars. I was just barely a teenager when the first movie came out, so while I thoroughly enjoyed the original trilogy, to me it’s just that – an enjoyable trilogy of movies.  I’m a bit too old for Star Wars to have been a childhood obsesson and I don’t collect Star Wars at all…. but I ran across this card of an X-wing fighter, and I have to admit, I couldn’t turn it down for 5 cents.

This, too, will be used as a filler card.

There were a fair number of newer cards in the boxes, including 2018 Donruss. I don’t care about the set in general, but the “Retro” subset is nicely done (for unlicensed cards) and something I enjoy, so I grabbed any I could find.

Two things I noticed about these cards when I got them home… First, I hadn’t noticed that the top of the photo is overlaid with a heavy shading which fades into the photos. That’s an interesting design feature.

Second, they incorrectly have Adrian Beltre listed as “Los Angeles”

I was excited to find hockey cards in these boxes… Not a lot, but they were from the 1980’s and I don’t run across older cards that often, not in this neck of the woods.

Anders Hedberg was among the first Europeans to play at the top level of North American hockey, teaming up with fellow Swede Ulf Nilsson and HOFer Bobby Hull to form a devistating front line for the WHA’s Winnipeg Jets.  Hedberg and Nilsson would later jump to the NHL and the New York Rangers.

This die-cut card is kind of POG-like, but it apparently came well after the POG craze. I had to look it up to find that it comes from something called 2003 Upper Deck Standing “O”.

I have a modest Sean Casey collection, so that’s all I really care about.

Last year I bought a few packs of 2017 Stadium Club Major League Soccer just because they were nice cards for the price point and a fun rip.  Thing is, I don’t follow MLS so the stack of Stadium Club MLS cards is still sitting around waiting for me to figure out what I’m doing with them.  So what did I do when I ran across a couple more of these cards in the dime box?

I bought them, of course.  Gotta make that stack bigger!  The 2018 set is coming out in a couple of weeks, but from the advance online prices for boxes , it doesn’t look like it will be the enticing buck-a-pack price point of 2017.  Probably just as well from my standpoint.

One more baseball card to wrap things up.  Cheap Pro Debut cards are always a no-brainer for me, even if they’re 4 years old.  The biggest name of the batch I got was that of Delino DeShields, Jr. shown with the Lancaster JetHawks of the high-A California League.

This card isn’t going to equate to a car payment down the road, but it’s always fun to have minor league cards of players who “made it” to some degree.

OK, well I’ve got to run off to work now… I’ve got more fun cheap cards to share and I’ll get to them before too long.

I’ll Take… uh…….. Potpourri For $400, Alex

No, it’s not a Jeopardy post, but one along the lines of the Jeopardy “Potpourri” category; just a bunch of scattered, largely unrelated cards. We’ll see how many cards I can write about on the fly before I need to go to work.

At a show I went to recently, one dealer had these hand-made repacks that were 98% junk wax, but had a cheap price plus a card or two on top to entice the buyers. I bought a bunch of these, and easily the best of the “go on, buy me!” cards was this 1978 Kellogg’s Willie McCovey.

If you divide the price I paid for the repacks by the number cards I kept, I still paid under a quarter for this beauty. 1978 is not a Kellogg’s set I’m currently working on, but it’s on my “theoretically working on it sometime in my lifetime” list.

Speaking of repacks, I bought one of those “10 packs for however much money” repacks at Target, and an unopened pack of 2013 Pinnacle got me this acetate beauty:

Because the acetate-iness of the card isn’t completely apparent in a scan like this, I scanned it again with my red cellphone case behind it:

This card wouldn’t normally be one that I’d seek out, and it doesn’t fit into any kind of collection of mine, but I’m keeping it just because it’s cool.

I’m thinking I should start a “Just because it’s cool” binder. I know I’ve got a bunch of scattered cards which would fit into that category.

I almost never run across Hostess cards when I go to card shows, not even Twinkie-stained cards like this Jim Hughes.

After seeing other people posting about Hostess cards *they* get at shows, it’s got me wondering if it’s something about the show I go to, or if it’s something about how I look for cards at shows.


BTW, as a 23-year old rookie in 1975, Jim Hughes won 16 games for a mediocre Twins team and went 6-0 with 2 shutouts in May of that year.  Arm troubles kept him from approaching that kind of success again.

I’ve lately become mildly fascinated with badly-miscut cards from 1975 Topps. A few years ago I got this card from a dime box:

And recently when trying to fill out wants for a trading partner, I found this in my doubles box, and that re-ignited my fascination with these miscut “beauties”:

Normally cards that are this poorly miscut are only appealing to me when they feature a HOFer I couldn’t otherwise afford , but for some reason I find these 1975 cards very appealing… I suppose it’s the color borders which make it more interesting. Whose sandy-topped Padres card is that under Larvell Blanks? Randy Jones? Glenn Beckert? I’m sure I could find out if I tried. And the Darold Knowles card with the edge-of-printing-sheet markings just gives a little “behind the scenes” tease, just a hint of what an uncut sheet would look like.

I would never go so far as to try to collect a set of badly-miscut 1975 cards, but at my last card show I admit that I spent a minute quickly shuffling through my favorite dealer’s lesser-condition 1975’s. One thing about trying to find this type of card is that it’s extremely easy to thumb through a stack and look for them.

As many of you know, I have a long-running project of accumulating 1972 Topps cards without actually having set completion in mind; I’ve just given in to the idea that I’m too cheap to shell out for the 5th Series Nolan Ryan, among others.

I had been trying to complete each series in the set, but my metaphorical ship kept getting washed up on the same metaphorical rocks in the form of six 3rd, 4th and 5th series HOFers that I can’t find at a budget-friendly price… and quite honestly, outside of working towards a complete set, I would be just as happy to add Rico Carty to my collection as I would Nolan Ryan.

But if I’m going to take a different approach to this, then what should it be?

Then as I was organizing my cards the other day, I had an idea…

“In Action” cards are sort of like a team set in that they’re easy to visually differentiate them when going through a box of 1972’s… and once I complete that “team set”, I can easily ignore any “In Action” cards when going through a box of 1972’s. There’s also the benefit of being relatively non-harmful to my budget, even for the HOFers.

Along with that, I can also figure out which actual teams I’m close to completing and see if finishing them off is achievable (i.e only commons high #’s left).

Has anybody collected sets using this kind of approach?

OK, I’m out of time… if I want to find parking near work and not get scolded by my team lead, anyway…

The Vinyl Score: “The Miracle Mets” LP

Waaaaaaaay back in the day… before streaming video, before DVD’s, even before…


…Before videotapes?!?!?  Say it ain’t so, Joe! Say it ain’t so!

Before we had any sort of video accessible to the average person, there were only a few ways to relive the highlights of your favorite team’s exploits. You could read about them, you could watch highlights on silent Super 8 movies, or you could listen to an album created around recorded radio broadcasts of those highlights.

I have one such album in my collection, an album about the 1969 World Champion Mets called “The Miracle Mets”.

My family has had this LP as long as I can remember.  I think it was given to us by a family friend sometime in 1970, it wasn’t really the type of thing my parents would go out and buy.  At the time I was too young to care about some stupid sports record. Were “Alvin And The Chipmunks” on it?  No?  Then why should I care?

When I got interested in baseball a few years later, I grew to love this album.

The album is narrated by Mets broadcaster Lindsey Nelson who spends the beginning of the record talking about the origins of New York National League baseball and includes Giants and Dodgers highlights like Bobby Thomson’s Shot Heard ‘Round The World and Al Gionfriddo’s catch in the 1947 World Series… I love hearing both of those calls even though they were before I was born and involved teams I don’t really care much about (other than Gionfriddo’s catch hurting the Yankees, always a good thing).

Of course, the album goes into the story of how the Giants and Dodgers left, how Mets came in to fill that empty spot, shared highlights and stories of the early days and, of course, of the Miracle 1969 season.

I have two copies of this album… The original Shlabotnik Family copy, and a much nicer copy I found in a used record store a few years ago. The original copy had been played to death, and I wanted to rip the copy and put MP3’s on my phone so I could hear Mets highlights mixed with songs when I listen in shuffle mode… Y’know, Led Zeppelin followed by Kirsty MacColl followed by Rod Gaspar throwing the Giants’ Bob Burda out at the plate.

So, given as much as I wore this album out from playing it over and over, you can imagine my extreme disappointment when I found out that some of the “play-by-play” had been re-created for the album and wasn’t necessarily accurate.

One of the bits of play-by-play highlights of the Mets first-ever game features Lindsey Nelson describing how the first run in Mets history scored when Roger Craig balked with Bill White on third.

Balking in a run… Typical Mets, right?

Here’s a transcript of Lindsey Nelson’s play-by-play on the LP:
Roger Craig looks in for the sign, now. Bill White at third leads down the line.
Craig has the sign, checks the runner, goes into the motion – and drops the ball!

The ball is rolling away and the umpire now has called a balk… Roger Craig,
in the motion, dropped the ball. Bill White is being waived across the plate. He comes across, the Cardinals are out in front by a score of one to nothing, on the balk. The New York Mets have given up their first run in history on a balk.

The thing is, despite Nelson’s call and the crowd noise in the background, it’s fake. Maybe the people behind the record didn’t want to let facts get in the way of a good story? Maybe they had to recreate it regardless and it was remembered incorrectly and there was no easy way to verify?

In reality, the first run in Mets history scored in the bottom of the 1st on consecutive singles by Julian Javier, Bill White and Stan Musial. Musial’s hit to left drove Julian Javier in from third and moved White to second. THEN Roger Craig balked, moving White to 3rd and Musial to 2nd. Ken Boyer got an RBI groundout, Minnie Minoso fouled out and after one inning it was the Cardinals – 2, Mets – 0.

I don’t know how many of the others highlights might take the same dramatic liberties, but at this point I’m like Linus writing to the Great Pumpkin: “If you really are a fake, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know”.

After the Mets 1973 World Series appearance (they lost in 7 to the A’s) there was an album called “Ya Gotta Believe”, named for the famous Tug McGraw rally cry. This has been on my want list for years, but I’ve never run across a copy (my not living in metro New York doesn’t help).

There was also a 1969 LP called “The Amazing Mets” which featured not play-by-play or any sort of narrative, but believe it or not, the Mets singing… The first track on the album is “You Gotta Have Heart” from Damn Yankees, just like they sang on the Ed Sullivan Show.

I’m thinking I can live without this album…

I Feel Like Posting Random Stuff

I haven’t done enough random stuff lately… well, there was an arbitrarily-themed post last week, but before that… who knows.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any cards from 1956… It’s been a while since I got any 1956.

After I complete my 1957 Orioles team set, I probably should move back to 1956… just to have a goal involving 1956 Topps, rather than just buying cheap, appealing ones. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Gotta include the backs of anything from 1956.

This card of Bart Giamatti always makes me sad. He was a huge baseball fan, seemed well-suited for the role of Commissioner and seemed to relish the position… but he suffered a fatal heart attack just shy of one year in office.

I bought a pack of 2016/17 Panini Complete basketball at a Dollar Tree just for grins. I like these cards… Low price point, simple but appealing design, large checklist. It almost makes me wish that I had any kind of interest in basketball.

I remember Steve Hargan as an unspectacular pitcher for the Texas Rangers in the 1970’s and ever since I got this card I’d been meaning to look up what got him on an insert card in 1968.

He was an All-Star in 1967, that’s mainly what. That season, when Hargan was 24, he lead the league with 6 shutouts. Contrast that to his last season of 1977 where he was taken by the Blue Jays in the expansion draft, traded back to Texas, sold to the Braves and then released, all by June 15th.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Someone needs to bring back drop shadow lettering like this on baseball uniforms.

I’ll wrap things up with a 1954 Bowman Johnny Klippstein which I got because it was cheap and I have damn few cards from 1954 Bowman… I ignored the 1950’s for the longest time but have been dipping my toes in over the past 10 years or so.

Klippstein pitched 18 years with 8 different teams and at various times lead the league in wild pitches and hit batsmen. His nickname was “The Wild Man of Borneo” (which was the name of a 1941 movie).