Hey Big Spender

Fuji's working us like dogs for this contest, and now wants to know: What's the most you have ever spent on a single sports related item?

I bet I'm not the only one to use this post title.

I'm sure my biggest single purchase is well below the price of some others', but given that I was about 13 and had no job when I bought it, I feel like there should be some sort of multiplier in play.

1979 Topps #116 Ozzie Smith RC
The thick plastic sort of caused a washed out look when I scanned it, but it's actually quite bright. The back has a little fading damage, perhaps from gum. If I remember correctly I bought this around 1995 or 1996, when Ozzie's career was ending. In retrospect I should have waited, but I saved for a long time to get this card. I'm pretty sure it was booking for $80 or so at the time, and that's about what I paid for it. I really don't know how I got to that much money, because I remember checking it out at my LCS for a long time before buying it. I probably saved everything I got, allowance, birthday money, showing the grandparents my good report card money, and who knows what else.

I figured that wasn't a bad price given the good condition and the fact that I was buying it in the St. Louis market. I'd guess the value has taken a bit of a dive in recent years, because little did I know Tony La Russa and Ozzie would not get along. La Russa decided Royce Clayton would be the starting shortstop in 1996, prompting Ozzie to immediately declare it his last year. They were both a bit bull-headed about the whole thing, teaching me an important lesson about not idolizing and emulating every trait of professional athletes. He then refused to have much to do with the Cardinals while La Russa was around, which of course lasted until the end of 2011.

If I wanted this card today, I don't think I'd pay $90 for it. I'd probably go $50 just because he's a hometown hero, but I'd have to really talk myself into it. Of course, it's quite liberating to look at it and think what I would pay, and not worry about what the book says I should pay.


The Ugliest Card Set, as Chosen by Me

Fuji chose this set as a boring one in his post, but it's the first that came to my mind as soon as I read his question: What is the ugliest card set you've ever seen?

I had to pick 1990 Donruss, because I feel compelled to collect it despite its bad artwork. It really presaged some of the ugly '90s design elements that were not only in baseball cards, but advertising and artwork in general.

1990 Donruss Bonus MVPs #BC-16 Bobby Bonilla

1990 Donruss - Bonus MVPs #BC-1 Bo Jackson

Even Bobo and Bobby Bo can't save this set. I'll admit the red borders look kind of cool on Cardinals, but they are just silly for teams like the Pirates and Royals as shown above. But, the paint splatters on the side look just thrown in there. I am by no means a graphic designer, and I have a friend who's great at it. I suppose if I had more time it would be cool to get his take on it.

Despite all this, I'm still passively trying to collect this set. I got a bunch of it cheaply years ago, and I have to justify all those commons and duplicates taking up space somehow, right? I'm no rational economist, that's for sure.


My Favorite Sets

Fuji asks another question, via The Daily DimwitWhat are your all-time favorite products to collect in each sport?

I only really collect baseball actively, but I've come into some cards from other sports along the way, and I figure, I have enough to pick a favorite of each. Here they are from least favorite to favorite sports.


Since there's no team in St. Louis, my interest in the NBA peaked with Michael Jordan's success with the Bulls, and quickly dwindled as that dynasty ended. Even so, I have a few basketball cards, so let's see my favorite:

1990-91 NBA Hoops #308 Phil Jackson
I mostly love this one because it's such a cheesy shot. Phil looks like someone dared to call a foul on Michael! Thus, 1990-91 NBA Hoops wins this prize.


I love watching football, but never got into the cards much. I'd say my favorite product would have to be the 1993 McDonald's GameDay set. Of course, the fact that a "pack" (really an uncut sheet) of cards yielded nothing but superstars probably made it seem pretty great. For some reason the cards weren't regulation-sized though. I remember collecting points on their products, which peeled off much like the monopoly game, but the pieces would be worth 6 (TD), 3 (FG), or 1 (PAT) points. I think it took 10 points for a sheet, and I must have managed to get 30. Usually when it came to McDonald's giveaways, I'd get some bonus pieces from my Grandpa when he'd come to our house to sneak in his unhealthy lunch on Saturdays when my Grandma wasn't aware. But, I digress. Also, I remember worrying they may not let me turn in 3 FGs and a PAT, because how could you have a PAT without a TD?

1993 McDonalds GameDay Sheet A

1993 McDonalds GameDay Sheet B

1993 McDonalds GameDay Sheet C

I actually went and borrowed a Junior Seau scan from CheckOutMyCards as I was drafting this post, but then found these in my basement. I forgot I had the complete set. I never cut the sheets because I had no idea what I would keep the cards in.


Hockey is a new collection to me, but I've won several cool cards via SportsCardInfo's contests, and some others. I steal from Fuji on this one and choose a newer version, 2010-2011 Panini Zenith, because I won this nice 5x7:

Which, as you can see, I tore into. And I found this:

An autographed rookie of the #1 draft pick, no big deal or anything.


This is the only one that really has a well-considered answer. The others were mostly "what's the neatest thing I've got in this sport?" I decided it needed to be a set that I bothered to complete, which led me to 1997 Studio.

I don't think I actually completed the base set, but I did get all 24 of the 8x10s. These make for a pretty cool binder to flip through, and these are the only cards I keep in a binder. I bought many packs of this product, as this was right around the heaviest of my card buying. The packs were awfully awkward since they had an 8x10 in each one. Eventually I purchased the remaining 8x10s at a Flea Market and 2 local card shops. I found 3 McGwires in my binder, so I really wonder if I lucked into my favorite player from the set, or bought multiples on purpose.

So there you have it, my favorite sets in the Big 4 sports. Also, if there were an "other" category, I'd say the TMNT cartoon cards, but I couldn't find mine anywhere to scan.


The Beginning of My Collection

Inquiring Fujis want to know: How did you first decide to collect sports cards, and when?

I think I may have covered this before, but I couldn't find it, so here it is again.

When I was in 4th grade, which was the 1991-92 school year, I signed up for the Cub Scouts. I'm not really sure why I decided to, even though my two best friends were in it, I don't remember that being the reason. I went to an informational meeting at which they were giving away free Cardinals tickets to any kid who showed up. Up to that point I was only moderately aware of sports, and had never attended a game. I could tell you which teams we had in town, but probably no players other than Ozzie Smith.

We went to a game on Saturday, May 9. Here's the box score, because baseball-reference.com is so awesome. I guess this was in the days before promotional passes were limited to Monday through Thursday. Down 8-0 in the 3rd, I remember my Dad jokingly (I think) ask if we were ready to leave. The Braves scored again in the 4th to make it 9-0, but the Cardinals managed 3 in the bottom of the 4th. Of course, the Cardinals didn't have any recent success, so the fans around me still figured this game was already lost. I assumed they were right, but still watched what happened, since I'd never been to a game before. I can still feel the excitement I felt when Felix Jose hit a HR in the 8th to give the Cardinals the lead. And, it gave my Dad a chance to do one of his favorite things: teach me stuff. He explained that when Lee Smith came in to pitch the top of the 9th, if no one scored, the game was over and the Cardinals didn't even have to bat in the bottom of the 9th! At first I felt cheated out of a half inning despite seeing 23 runs, but I sort of reasoned through it and was satisfied it would be pointless. I immediately started following baseball closely, reading every story in the sports section and examining the standings and stats every in every Sunday paper.

So when do we get to cards? I don't have dates quite as exact on that one, but I do know that over summer I started at a new daycamp, as my previous babysitter had moved. I didn't like it that much, because no 9-year-old like change. But, there was one kid there, whose name I can't remember now, who I got along with well and was really into sports. One day he brought in some baseball cards, in a little 4-to-a-page album. He was so excited by them, and I thought they looked really cool too. I asked him lots of questions, having no idea about them, and he told me Topps was the best. So you can all blame him and me in some small part for the Toppsopoly today.

Most Sundays after church my family and I would stop by a local grocery store which sold cards, so I started occasionally picking up packs of 1992 Topps. This is when Topps started inserting Topps Gold cards, so that's where my love of that insert set comes from. Somewhere along the way, someone told me it was possible to purchase complete sets. It was probably the same kid from daycamp. I thought this made a lot more sense, since I was starting to get duplicates, and only had a few Cardinals. I went to a local card shop after my birthday and bought the 1992 Topps factory set. The owner told me I could instead buy a hand-collated set, which I think he called a boxed set, for a few bucks cheaper. That would have been the smart move, because of course I opened the factory box as soon as I got home. I sorted the cards many different times, by number, by team, into binder pages 18 to a page, then 9 to a page so I could see the backs, and ultimately back into the box when I couldn't bring myself to throw out the box nor keep an empty box around. At that point I was officially hooked into collecting.


2012 Heritage Blaster #2

In the past I've donated blood every 8 weeks, which is the minimum interval, or sometimes 9 weeks if I was traveling or due to do some heavy lifting on day 56. Since I last gave on March 31, and rewarded myself with a Heritage Blaster, I was eligible May 26. Unfortunately I was out of town that day for a Memorial Day weekend trip, and kept putting it off every subsequent Saturday. I finally decided it had been long enough last Saturday, and again, decided to reward myself with another Heritage Blaster. At this rate I'll never get enough to complete the set, so I'll have to find some more reasons to buy. This was one hard-earned box though, as they had trouble finding a vein, had to poke around a bit with the needle, and I ultimately got dizzy enough that they had to lay my head back. Then the blood stopped flowing after the bag was filled, so they had to stick my hand to fill the test tubes. It's about the most traumatic experience I've had with it, but hopefully it goes to help someone. I've donated 30 units lifetime now.

Just for fun, this time I'll do the classic pack-by-pack breakdown, with photos of inserts, short prints, and Cardinals.

Pack 1
15 Darwin Barney
26 Scott Baker
158 Steve Lombardozzi/Pedro Florimon Jr./Matt Dominguez/Devin Mesoraco
291 Stephen Strasburg
309 Ryan Dempster
333 Joe Benson/Liam Hendriks/Chris Parmelee/Kyle Waldrop
346 Santiago Casilla
408 Ian Kinsler
433 Rickie Weeks

2012 Heritage #433 Rickie Weeks SP

Pack 2
21 Drew Stubbs
56 Cliff Lee
60 Jesus Montero
67 J.P. Arencibia
325 Brian Wilson
331 Josh Hamilton/Albert Pujols
391 Matt Moore
421 Kyle Farnsworth
Blue Parallel 84 Doug Fister

2012 Heritage #331 Josh Hamilton/Albert Pujols
"Hey Josh, after this is over, let's go sign in LA; the weather's great. Oh, you've got another year on your contract? Just start slumping before the deadline, I'll work out the rest."

2012 Heritage - Blue Parallel #84 Doug Fister
This was a new one to me. Apparently it's a Walmart exclusive, and not every card gets a blue parallel. I'm not sure how Doug Fister got chosen in that case.

Pack 3
7 NL Pitching Leaders
16 Juan Pierre
18 David Ortiz/Adrian Gonzalez
110 Chase Headley
121 Drew Storen
131 Kevin Gregg
220 Ricky Romero
414 Corey Hart
478 Roy Oswalt

2012 Heritage #478 Roy Oswalt SP

Pack 4
35 Chris Sale
93 Johan Santana
136 Jonathan Papelbon
157 Melky Cabrera
297 Derek Holland
340 Russell Martin
374 Tom Milone
396 Emilio Bonifacio
Chrome Parallel HP89 Rick Porcello

2012 Heritage - Chrome Parallel #HP89 Rick Porcello #0608/1963
It'd be cool to have a whole set of these Chrome cards, but at 1/blaster so far, I think it'll take me awhile.

Pack 5
1 NL Batting Leaders
132 Cole Hamels
163 Matt Cain
186 Joe Mauer
226 Skip Schumaker
233 Terry Collins
239 Cleveland Indians
395 Daniel Hudson
Baseball Flashbacks BF-HA Hank Aaron
Checklist C4

2012 Heritage #226 Skip Schumaker

2012 Heritage - Checklist C4

2012 Heritage - Baseball Flashbacks #BF-HA Hank Aaron
I already got this Aaron card in the last blaster. Oh well, it's one more insert for the trade list.

Pack 6
69 Michael Morse
103 Michael Brantley
166 Kirk Gibson
214 Joakim Soria
254 Carlos Quentin
273 Wilin Rosario
343 Joe Maddon
388 Pablo Sandoval
Stick-ons 41 Victor Martinez

2012 Heritage - Stick-ons #41 Victor Martinez
Again, my obsession with not lowering the condition of my cards means I'll probably never peel this sticker.

Pack 7
36 Jason Kipnis
183 Mark Teixeira
307 J.J. Putz
329 Francisco Cervelli
365 Jose Valverde
373 Michael Young
375 Daniel Descalso
416 Stephen Drew
486 Josh Hamilton

2012 Heritage #375 Daniel Descalso
Hackenbush was right (I'm not linking my post a 3rd time!), Daniel's look here is very Don Mossi. Also, now I have 2 of this card too.

2012 Heritage #486 Josh Hamilton SP

Pack 8
53 Freddie Freeman
116 Vance Worley
222 Jed Lowrie
269 Justin Morneau
280 Brett Lawrie
328 Elvis Andrus
330 Jorge Posada
360 Chad Billingsley
361 Alex Rodriguez

There you have it, 73 more cards (counting the checklist) toward my set. I thought about reordering the packs so that #8 wasn't left image-less, but I figured that wouldn't be honest; sometimes you go out with a whimper. Interestingly, I had a few former Cardinals in the last blaster, but none in this one if you don't count Pujols, since he's in the uniform.

If you're interested in any of the inserts or duplicates let me know and we can work out a trade.


eBay Wins #38

Another seller put some 90s commons up for sale, and I just couldn't refuse. I picked these 9 cards up for a total of 9 cents. And 3 of them go in my vast PC of "Anyone who was a Cardinal, ever".

1990 Topps #567 Ron Gant
I remember when Gant, Jordan, and Lankford formed one of the most power-hitting outfields in MLB, at least that's how I remember it.
1990 Topps #35 Benny Santiago
It's rare to see a catcher neither batting nor in his gear, so that gives this card a little quirk.

1990 Topps #34 Tony Fossas
Here's another former Cardinal a few years before he got to us. I can't tell if that's a scowl or he's trying to hold back a smile.
1990 Topps #754 Bob Walk

1990 Topps #658 Donell Nixon

1990 Topps #228 Dave Martinez

1994 Stadium Club #26 Tony Fossas
Hey look, it's Tony Fossas again. It's still pre-Cardinals though, as he came to the team for 1995-1997.

1994 Stadium Club #154 Chris Haney

1994 Stadium Club #270 Checklist
 Normally I wouldn't include the checklist, but this one just screams "90s" even more than the base cards.

Let's see how my stats are looking.

eBay Bargain Tracker
Total Cards Bought2010
Total Spent$38.37
Per Card1.909 cents


Two Eli Marrero Autographed Cards

Here Fuji goes again, pushing bloggers to write some posts with real substance and stories. This time he wants to know: Describe your best or worst IP autograph experience.  Who was it?  What made it special/memorable?

First I'll show you the autographs, so you won't know if it was good or bad and the suspense will make my writing seem interesting. I should really stop revealing my dastardly plans out loud, like a James Bond villain.

1997 Fleer Ultra #549 Eli Marrero

1997 Collector's Choice #477 Eli Marrero
In case you can't tell, those are in white-bordered toploaders. I'm not sure why, they were probably just the two most special-looking protectors I had at the time.

His autographs were free with admission to a card show near St. Louis. If I recall correctly, I have two because it was 1997 or summer 1998, before I could drive, so I actually convinced my Mom to take me to a card show. In retrospect, I can't imagine how boring that must have been for her, knowing only a little about baseball as it was. But, she was entitled to a free autograph too of course, so I brought along two cards.

As we approached the table I saw Eli seemed to be taking a long time on each item; I thought maybe he was inscribing something. He didn't speak English very well, so there wasn't much conversation, but he did give everyone a "Hi" and a big smile as they handed him their items. I saw why he was taking so long. He was just being extra careful to sign his name very big and very legibly. He signed his full first name, Elieser. I was toward the end of the line, and even after a long time at the table, he still had a great attitude about meeting fans and signing for them, so I count Eli among my best in-person autograph experiences.


Two Contests to Promote

I always debate whether or not I want to write a contest-promoting post to get the bonus entry, but usually wind up justifying it to myself and doing it. Let's see what kind of weak reasoning I come up with this time!

First, there's a contest at The Angels, In Order to promote a new 1995 Skybox E-motion blog. At least with this one it's a brand new blog, so nearly everyone who finds the contest via my post finds a new blog too, right? Also, you could win some cards from the set, including this Cal Ripken, Jr. You'll need to follow both blogs to get in.

1995 Skybox E-motion - Ripken #8 Shortstop HR Record

Next up, a contest at All Trade Bait, All The Time to celebrate 10,000 hits. This one's a bit simpler, at least to start. Also, you can win this card, which is a nice prize despite featuring a Cub. I can't talk my way out of this one, but at least it's not its own post, right? Boom, nailed it.

2012 Topps Gypsy Queen - Autographs #GQA-MB Marlon Byrd


2012 Opening Day Rack Pack #3

Rather than buy a whole bunch of these at once, or a whole box, I've just been picking up one whenever I'm at Target and feel like indulging my card-buying appetite. After three packs, I finally got my first Cardinals (Dan Haren notwithstanding).

2012 Topps Opening Day #206 David Freese

2012 Topps Opening Day #60 Adam Wainwright

2012 Topps Opening Day - Opening Day Stars #ODS-4 Adrian Gonzalez
When will scanning technology catch up to 3D cards? Imagine all the beautiful Sportsflics holograms we'll be able to see on blogs in 2050.

2012 Topps Opening Day - Elite Skills #ES-13 David Wright
Squibber. It's a funny word. Say it out loud six times. Squibber. Squibber squibber. Squibber squibber squibber. Also, "Barehand the Squibber" is one of my new favorite euphemisms for almost anything.

2012 Topps Opening Day - Superstar Celebrations #SC-3 Dan Uggla
I used to have Dan Uggla on my fantasy team, and then named it the Uggla Sticks, which I stole from an Onion article.

The base cards:
6 Bud Norris
19 Mat Latos
23 Troy Tulowitzki
28 Michael Young
31 Evan Longoria
32 Anibal Sanchez
45 Mark Melancon
60 Adam Wainwright
62 Ervin Santana
63 Pablo Sandoval
79 Hanley Ramirez
88 John Axford
89 Drew Pomeranz
142 Tommy Hanson
149 Adrian Gonzalez
151 Johnny Cueto
162 Ricky Romero
202 Starlin Castro
206 David Freese
218 Clay Buchholz
NNO (220) Carlos Lee

I know I've read this on multiple blogs already, but here's one more PSA for everyone: The unnumbered Carlos Lee seems to be an uncorrected error, so no more rare than any other card. So don't go making any crazy bids on eBay to get one.


eBay Wins #37

37 happens to be my favorite number. When choosing a jersey number, I always go for it. Casey Stengel has 37 retired for him by both New York teams. Stephen Strasburg wears it. But, this post is about a #23. Eric Karros. I won a 9 card lot of Karros cards for just a dime. I think I'll show them to you in order from least to most favorite, based mostly on my kneejerk reactions while writing up this post.

1994 Donruss #338 Eric Karros
At least on the card in my hand, the photo looks very flat and dull. Also the Donruss logo is too big and regal-looking. It's just Donruss, not a superpremium set.

1993 Upper Deck #490 Eric Karros
This one has a nice action shot, but it's a little awkward-looking. I'm assuming this is a pickoff throw if he's playing first base.

1999 Upper Deck MVP #106 Eric Karros
This is a better action shot, but it's a bit logo-heavy on the left side, especially for a base card. It was 1999 after all.

1992 Fleer Ultra - All-Rookies #1 Eric Karros
I've got a soft spot for Fleer Ultra, so this one comes in at #6.

1998 Collector's Choice #395 Eric Karros
I've always thought subtle red accents go well with the Dodgers because of their lone red uniform element, the front number. So the border earns this card the #5 slot.

1997 Circa #186 Eric Karros
Ah 1997, when the special effects just started getting silly. Luckily, I'm a fan of silliness most of the time.

1998 Fleer Tradition #483 Eric Karros
I like the full bleed photo with minimal logo and subtly colored text on this one.

1999 Skybox Thunder #107 Eric Karros
THUNDER! It's just fun to say. And the background's all gold. THUNDER!

1993 Topps - Gold #11 Eric Karros
Of course, one of my favorite sets, 1993 Topps Gold, is going to take the #1 slot. This could be pretty much anyone from Bip Roberts to Mario Mendoza, and it'd still be #1 in this bunch. The rookie cup is a nice touch too.

It looks like I crossed another little milestone in my eBay purchasing, over 2000 cards now. Not bad for under $40 I guess.

eBay Bargain Tracker
Total Cards Bought2001
Total Spent$38.28
Per Card1.913 cents


My Worst-Conditioned Card

Fuji's back at it with another blog bat-around question. this time he asks: What's the worst conditioned card in your collection? Is there a story behind it?

1955 Bowman #216 Preacher Row
Appropriately enough, I got this card in a Beat Up Vintage contest.

I'm pretty sure this is the worst-conditioned card in my collection, because I don't usually buy singles that are in bad condition, even for a heavy discount. I think it's because as a child I was always taught to take care of my toys, and really, what are cards but toys? Although, in the last year or so of making trades and getting contest winnings in the mail, I've started to worry less about condition. I'll certainly always put my cards in sleeves when they show up, even if they already have dinged corners, but I can still appreciate that if I'm going to have any 1950s and even a lot of 1960s or 1970s cards, they're going to have a little "character".

So, the story behind this card is the same as a lot of my cards acquired in the last 2 years, given away by a generous blogger in a contest to generate some buzz for his blog. Also, just today I got sick of this one sitting out on a table like it's been since at least November, so I went to a store that's somewhat new in town, Vintage Stock or V-Stock (I can't really tell what the legal name is), and got some extra tall card sleeves so this one can be safely filed with my other cards. I also had to use one for a 1953 Bowman, and now I'm ready for 98 more Vintage too-tall cards, or at least some 1989 Bowman.


A Rookie Contest Win, Part 2

[Part 1]

In Mid-June I won a contest at all the way to backstop by going 3 for 3 in guessing the Rookie cards in his big stack. My prize: the stack, and some other cool stuff he picked out for me.

I can tell my wantlist was well-searched, because I also received 7 cards of one of my favorite players, and a distant cousin, Todd Stottlemyre.

1991 Score #39 Todd Stottlemyre

1992 Donruss #263 Todd Stottlemyre

1992 Fleer #342 Todd Stottlemyre

1992 Pinnacle #240 Todd Stottlemyre

1992 Fleer Ultra #153 Todd Stottlemyre

1993 Fleer Ultra #293 Todd Stottlemyre

1994 Collector's Choice #269 Todd Stottlemyre 
Also from my wantlist, 1993 Topps Gold cards. And some base cards to boot.

1993 Topps #425 Joe Girardi
I've gotta show former Cardinals, no matter how brief a stint they had in St. Louis. Here are the rest of the base cards:

425 Joe Girardi
562 Bob Zupcic
598 Rico Brogna
606 J. Owens
613 Joel Adamson
622 Ben Rivera
699 Chad Curtis
732 Travis Buckley
747 Carl Willis
773 Cliff Brantley
790 George Bell

1993 Topps - Gold #483 Brian Griffiths
Not to be confused with Brian Griffin

1993 Topps - Gold #787 Mike Matthews
I'm trying to complete a set of 1992 and 1993 Topps Gold, and maybe 1994 as well. I haven't organized them all into my have and want list, but I don't have too many so there's a good chance any I get are unique for now, and a quick check of my "to enter in Zistle" box says these two bring me 2 cards closer to the 825 card set.

Once again, thanks to all the way to the backstop for the great cards.