Sunday, July 15, 2018

Sports Card Tour 2018 - San Jose

The Collector's Sports Card Tour closes out California week with an originally unscheduled stop in San Jose.

San Jose was a late addition to the tour - even though the Sharks have played there since 1991. I had planned on grouping it in with another Bay Area city, but couldn't decide on which one. And so I asked our resident San Jose expert Fuji where to put the Sharks. "If you're doing separate posts for Oakland and San Francisco, then you probably want to give San Jose their own post, since technically Oakland and San Francisco are closer to each other than San Jose is to either of them." Thanks for the help, Fuji!

The story of the NHL's expansion to San Jose is bizarre and fascinating. The first new NHL franchise since the WHA merger was somewhat of a merger itself-with the Minnesota North Stars. The Sharks stocked their roster with North Stars, then both teams participated in the expansion draft.

The Sharks were predictably bad in their first two years. Jeff Hackett and Arturs Irbe were competent goalies who improved behind better teams. Tough guy Link Gaetz racked up 326 penalty minutes in the Sharks' first season-a team record that still stands. Doug Wilson was San Jose's first captain and currently serves as their general manager. He's one of only two eligible Norris Trophy-winning defensemen not in the Hockey Hall of Fame (Randy Carlyle is the other.)


The Sharks' logo and color scheme were an instant hit with young hockey fans-myself included. In junior high I was invited to a pool party by the first girl I ever crushed on. Being a sports-loving boy I decided to wear my matching San Jose Sharks t-shirt and shorts to the party. When I arrived I was greeted by the gorgeous birthday girl-and her even more gorgeous older friend who was 15 going on 25. The very tall, very fashionable blonde indicated my teal-clad clothing and said "Well, aren't you coordinated." One of those little word grenades that I shrugged off at the time but destroyed me a minute later.

Pat Falloon was the Sharks' first-ever draft pick and second overall to Eric Lindros in 1991. He led the team in scoring as a teenager, but never improved on that 59-point rookie season.

Patrick Marleau was a much more successful second-overall pick. The Sharks' all-time leader in goals, points, and games played signed with the Maple Leafs in 2017. The Frozen Fabrics at the top is my only Sharks relic. Marleau has scored 500 goals and 1000 points, but I still don't think of him as a star or future Hall of Famer. 

For sorting purposes, Marleau's base cards do get the star player nod - mostly to save me some room in my binders. Based on Doug's repacks I've considered designating all 500/1000 NHLers into the star box, as I have with 10,000-yard running backs. I don't love the idea of giving Dale Hunter, Dave Taylor, Alexei Kovalev, and Pat Verbeek star treatment though.

Joe Thornton was the #1 overall pick (ahead of Marleau) in the 1997 draft. Like Marleau, Thornton is still an active and productive NHL player over two decades later. The two were teammates on the Sharks for 12 seasons. Thornton and Marleau are also 1-2 in career points among active NHL players (assuming Jaromir Jagr is really, truly retired.)

No NHL team had ever traded a league MVP or scoring champion during said season - until the Bruins shipped "Jumbo" to the Sharks in 2005. Now that Alex Ovechkin has finally won a Stanley Cup I'll be cheering for Thornton and the Sharks to win one as well. They are Washington west after all ;-)

Joe Pavelski is the Sharks' current captain and leading scorer. His 14 goals during the Sharks' run to the Stanley Cup final in 2016 led all postseason scorers that year. 2006-07 Upper Deck was one of the few Young Guns sets I didn't try to complete. The only RCs that interested me were Pavelski, Shea Weber, and Travis Zajac.

Pavelski's cards are in my star player box as well. I'm fairly confident in that decision, but my hockey knowledge is slipping - I didn't know Pavelski is already 34 years old.

Logan Couture just signed an eight-year extension to stay in San Jose. His league-leading 30 postseason points in '16 might have earned him the Conn Smythe trophy had the Sharks prevailed over Pittsburgh. I packed a black parallel of Couture's Victory RC in a care package shipped to Fuji when I first joined the cardsphere. The Score card next to it is my only Brent Burns Sharks base*. That's a huge hole in my collection that must be filled.

*I have one from his Minnesota years


Jonathan Cheechoo led the league in goals while playing on Joe Thornton's wing in 2005-06. His career quickly declined after that 56-goal outlier.

2001-02 Pacific Atomic was one of my favorite hockey sets. Since the Team Nucleus card combines Nabokov, Nolan, and Selanne I did the same here. The Gold parallel Selanne is numbered to 200. The EA Owen Nolan was included with my purchase of the NHL 2002 CD-rom game. I don't know much about these, other than it's a nine-card set inserted one per game, and the Nolan is a Silver. 

My wife won an autographed Owen Nolan stick at a Devils dinner raffle back when they had items of other NHL teams [and fancy dinner events for season-ticket holders.] I don't have a picture of it (I tried scanning the stick blade but it came out crappy) nor do I have a picture of my Evgeni Nabokov I'm stealing this scan from Dave and Adam's:

I bought a box of Upper Deck Mask collection at a card shop that used to be in my nearby mall. The cards didn't really appeal to me, but each box came with one of these replica masks. I pulled the Nabokov - and bought a Martin Brodeur on eBay soon after.

Some of my favorite Sharks cards, including another Nabby. Any card showing the Shark-mouth entrance is a winner in my book. Tough guy Todd Ewen is chomping down on a puck in this picture, which reminds me...

...competitive eating champion Joey Chestnut is also from San Jose.

The rest of my best Sharks, including a pair of Upper Deck 20th-anniversary parallels. These aren't quite as sturdy as the originals, but it's nice to see the newer teams on that landmark design. The Timo Meier Compendium was an ePack purchase, I enjoyed it their first year but I've since lost interest in the cards - and the concept.

Favorite Sharks player (current): Joe Thornton
Favorite Sharks player (all-time): Joe Thornton

Next tour stop: Seattle

It's my goal to have the last six posts finished by Friday, July 27th and begin the prize pool draft two weeks from today, on July 29th. You've been waiting long enough, am I right? :-)


Friday, July 13, 2018

Sports Card Tour 2018 - San Francisco

California week continues on The Collector's Sports Card Tour with another one-sport city. Today we're in San Francisco.

The Giants won the World Series in 2010, 2012, and 2014. They have played in six fall classics since moving to San Francisco in 1958.

The 49ers won five Super Bowls from 1981 to 1994. The team recently moved to Santa Clara - which is closer to our next tour stop, San Jose. But we'll include them here because they're still called the San Francisco 49ers.

Joe Montana led the Niners to four Super Bowls in the 1980s. I was just getting into football when he was at his peak, and a lot of my friends were fans of his. I didn't like nor dislike him (his wife was pretty though!)

Even though I had no allegiance toward San Francisco teams, two cards you'll see in this post were important to my early collecting years. Montana was at or near the end of his career when I spied this Topps RC at my LCS. For some reason I wanted it, and for some reason the shop owner (who would become my boss a few years later) allowed me to pay the $200 sticker price in installments. It took me all summer (because I bought an autographed 8 x 10 of Christina Applegate from another store) but I did eventually take home the Montana rookie card. Don't ask me what I did with it.

I have yet to own a Jerry Rice rookie card, but it is on my bucket list. Rice is without a doubt the greatest wide receiver in NFL history and perhaps the greatest player regardless of position. I once had a page-a-day calendar of sports quotes and I'll never forget his "I feel like I'm the best, but you're not going to get me to say that." If I'm ever going to build the 1986 Topps football set the only card I will want PSA-graded is the Rice RC.

Steve Young waited very patiently for his chance to lead the 49ers' West Coast Offense and finally got his chance in 1991 after Montana missed the year with an elbow injury. By the end of the '90s he had completed his own Hall of Fame career-which included two league MVP awards and a Super Bowl MVP. Young is one of the greatest athletes ever with Connecticut ties - though not everyone considers him a Connecticut guy.

Like Jerry Rice, Young's rookie card is also in the 1986 Topps set - though not everyone considers it his true rookie card. 

Terrell Owens has been a prima donna for so long it's hard to remember him ever showing humility. I can only recall one such moment-but I'll never forget it. The Niners were playing my Packers in a 1998 playoff game. Steve Young was leading the come-from-behind drive (which should have stalled because Jerry Rice definitely fumbled) and hit T.O. for the game-winning T.D. 

Watch this celebration. You won't believe it's the same guy. 

Speaking of humble Hall of Famers...Deion Sanders isn't one of them, either. I was never a Deion fan but he had some cool cards and cool commercials. These cards are all in my stars/HOFers box; Ricky Watters is the only one not enshrined in Canton.


Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers were the top two quarterbacks available in the 2005 NFL Draft. The 49ers passed on Rodgers (a California kid) and drafted Smith first overall. Smith lost the 2011 NFC Championship to the Giants and lost his starting job to Colin Kaepernick the next year. Kaep killed my Packers in the 2012 Wild-Card game, and nearly led the Niners to victory in the Super Bowl that year.

Some of my best 49ers 'hits'. I had the Elvis Grbac Laser in my commons binder until writing this post. The Willis and Gore were COMC purchases. If it sounds like I'm mentioning COMC a lot in these posts it's because one of the reasons I came up with Sports Card Tour was to discuss each of the 500 cards I had shipped to me last Black Friday. Can't say this for sure but it's a good bet that every pro sports city was represented in that order.

Two of these '59 Giants were also purchased there. I bought the Landrith and Jones ungraded more than a year ago. The Bill White was part of an eBay order, from a seller who overstated the condition of his cards (this was listed as MINT!) but I'm still happy with it.

Some post-career Willies. The 1958 design is from a Topps 65th anniversary set. I disagree with Upper Deck's assessment that Mays is the second-greatest player of all-time. Babe Ruth might be the greatest power hitter the game has ever seen.. but he couldn't run, throw, or field like Willie Mays. 

Back when I was an '80s kid collecting '80s cards, there was a small card shop about four blocks from my house. That's where I got my first look at the 1968 Topps set - and the Willie Mays card.

The owner of the shop had his cards in thick screw-down holders and instead of using red price tag stickers he wrote the price on the holder in black magic marker: $50. I was maybe ten years old at the time, I didn't have fifty dollars. But my mom made a deal with the owner-and with me. I earned my first vintage card by doing extra chores and forfeiting my allowance for at least a month - possibly the whole summer.

Eventually I traded that '68 Mays and a Barry Sanders Score RC to another dealer in town - for a 1962 Topps Mays.  I sold that Mays to help pay for the 1955 Bowman Mays in my New York post. Not planning to upgrade that one any time soon.

This 1968 Topps Juan Marichal is still in my collection. I purchased it on 4 Sharp Corners. The McCovey relic was a COMC purchase.

Here's a pair of 1964 Topps Giants...Giants. Another project I've sort-of started but will probably never finish.

For those of you who prefer free-range cardboard. The rookie reprints are both 60 Years of Topps inserts; I bought a lot of 2011 flagship.

Will "The Thrill" Clark was San Fran's star during my childhood. I always thought of him as the west coast's Don Mattingly - but he had a better career than Donnie did. (If I grew up in California I'd probably have Clark's cards in my star box and Mattingly's in my commons binders-instead of the opposite.) 

By 1989 I was officially obsessed with baseball, and I watched the Giants play the Oakland Athletics in the "Battle of the Bay."

It was a depressing series, due to the earthquake that occurred before the start of Game 3. I had rushed upstairs to watch the game in my mom's room and when the broadcast cut out I thought there was something wrong with her TV - until the sound came on and Al Michaels alerted us of the disaster. 


Just three years later the Giants nearly moved to Tampa-until a new owner stepped in and solidified the franchise by signing Barry Bonds. I remember there was some kind of announcement during the 1993 Expansion draft but I can't recall if that was regarding the Bonds contract or quashing the relocation rumors.

Bonds bulked up by the end of the '90s and became the most feared hitter in baseball. Even if his home run records fall, his walk totals will never be touched. I was thrilled that the Giants blew Game 6 of the 2002 World Series - and Barry's best chance at a ring - because I could not stand his arrogance dating back to his Pittsburgh days. After the series loss, Bonds threatened to physically assault ESPN reporter Pedro Gomez (who admittedly had been an annoyance.)

Jeff Kent wasn't a warm and fuzzy guy, either, but he was the 2000 NL MVP and the all-time leader in home runs by a second baseman. I'd give Kent my Hall of Fame vote before I'd give it to Bonds, though it's obvious which one was the superior player. 

Tim Lincecum's small stature almost made his team name sound sarcastic. The two-time Cy Young award winner and three-time World Series champ was one of my favorite pitchers to watch in the early '10s. It helped that he looked a lot like Mitch from Dazed and Confused.

By the time Timmy lost his spot in the Giants' rotation another young ace was ready to step up..

Madison Bumgarner was as dominant in the 2014 postseason as any pitcher I've seen in my lifetime. He can hit when healthy, too. I had some high-end Bumgarner cards including two 2008 Bowman Chrome prospect autos and a 2007 Bowman Chrome refractor. Like the Sidney Crosby Upper Deck RC, I sold my Bums at peak value after he won a third title. 


One more Bum just arrived courtesy of a trade with Bo (Baseball Cards Come To Life!) I'm trying to finish Sports Card Tour as quickly as I can, but I'll be sure to squeeze in a thank you post for all of the trades I've made this month.

One of these two Buster Posey cards is an actual Topps rookie card, the other is a 60 Years of Topps insert. My initial reaction would be to complain about reprinting a one-year old card.. but 60 Years means 60 Years - including the most recent ones.

Brandons Crawford and Belt appear on this card. Wouldn't it be cool if the Giants had signed Brandon Phillips and Brandon Inge to round out their infield? My baseball-loving Bay area buddy Brandon would have loved that.

My prospecting days are over but I saved a handful of 1st Bowman Cards, including this Steven Duggar gold refractor #d/50. Duggar made his major league debut earlier this week. I don't know if he has eighteen siblings or not.

Let's bring out the closers to finish this post. Brian Wilson was fun to watch in his "Fear The Beard" days. Joe Nathan saved 377 major league games, but only one for San Fran. Tim Worrell pops up in my eBay searches because I'm on the hunt for 'Topps Traded Gold Worrell' ..unfortunately I'm looking for Peter Worrell. And we'll finish with "Shooter", a blogosphere fave.

Favorite Giants player (current): It was MadBum for a it's probably Posey or Cutch
Favorite Giants player (all-time): Willie Mays
Favorite 49ers player (current): Richard Sherman

Favorite 49ers player (all-time): Roger Craig or Merton Hanks 

Next tour stop: San Jose

Have a great weekend everyone! Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Sports Card Tour 2018 - San Diego

We're coming down the home stretch - just nine stops left on the Sports Card Tour. The next three cities are in California, starting with today's stop in San Diego

The Padres are San Diego's only pro sports team. They were National League champions in 1984 and 1998. 

The legendary Tony Gwynn played on both pennant winners. "Mr. Padre" won eight batting titles and hit over .350 seven times. This 2000 Finest box topper is one of 26 Gwynn cards in my collection. 

I don't have a Gwynn rookie card; there was once a coffee-stained Fleer RC in my collection years ago. Early-mid '80s rookies aren't yet a priority - they're still so abundant and affordable (aside from some update sets). The '85 Topps was part of a grab bag-type mystery lot I bought on eBay about 10 years ago.

It always amazed me that Ted Williams hit .388 as a 38-year old in 1957. Tony Gwynn's 1997 season was nearly as impressive. He won his fourth consecutive batting title with a .372 average at age 37. Gwynn and Williams (who was a native San Diegan) became friends late in Ted's life. At the 1999 All-Star Game in Boston, every active player wanted to talk to Ted - but Ted wanted to talk to Tony.

I only have a few Tony Gwynn 'hits', including a relic swatch that doesn't match the picture. The 1995 Topps Cyberstats parallel projected Gwynn's 1994 batting average as .391 had the season been completed. His average stood at .394 when the strike began (on my 14th birthday.)  The 1998 Topps Minted In Cooperstown card was one of a half-dozen such singles I picked out at a card shop.. in Cooperstown. It's likely classified as a base card but I give it the top loader treatment as if it were a parallel.

Some more Gwynn - and other Padres keepers - from Brad's box. The Rey Ordonez photo would fit perfectly in a Heritage set.

Trevor Hoffman will be officially inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this month. He was the first closer to save 500 games, and the only National Leaguer to save 600. The Sweet Swatch relic is numbered to 45.

More HOF-man cards, including a 1996 Fleer Tiffany parallel. The flimsy, grainy base set was unbearable but the parallels really pop.

The rest of my Padre Hall of Famers, including a Score Traded Roberto Alomar XRC. Only Donruss thought to put Robbie in their main set-which made that card a hot item back in the day. I'd rather have the Score Traded (or Topps Traded) over that ugly '88 Donruss set.

While we're on the subject of update sets...I tried to build the 2011 Topps Update set but couldn't get my hands on a Mike Trout RC before they hit triple digits. I broke up the set and offloaded every decent card except Anthony Rizzo. Huge mistake. I sold the Jose Altuve and J.D. Martinez cards for a fraction of their current value. (The J.D. will return to my collection soon.)

Assorted Friars from my hits box. The Craig Kimbrel gold refractor is numbered to 50; I added it to my 500-card COMC order last year for $1.30. I keep forgetting to ask Jon if he needs the Justin Upton Heritage high number (#445) for his set. [Jon, it's yours if you want it.] The Bowman Brian Giles is a base card I added to fill the white space. His brother Marcus (also a former Padre) was classmates with Gavin - who packed a ton of Padre cards into a box of CDs he sold me last year.

New Haven native Brad Ausmus wasn't a classmate of mine (he's a lot older than I am) but my 7th grade teacher told us he was one of her students. That was around the time he made his major league debut for the Padres, in 1993.

Here's some more local flavor:

Padres pitching prospect MacKenzie Gore is from North Carolina, but Jersey girl Sydney McLaughlin attended high school right down the road from me, in the town where I work. If anyone has this Sports Illustrated issue, please let me know. I'd be happy to trade for it.

Camo Padres. The Jedd Gyorko was a seven-cent "dime box" find at the Milford card show.

Throwback Padres. Padres GM A.J. Preller did the Yankees a huge favor by taking back Chase Headley. Can't wait to see him trade Brad Hand to New York for Jacoby Ellsbury ::eyeroll:: 

Sparkly Padres. Pinnacle Museum parallels were a hot item back in the day. The Tejada Platinum Diamond was part of the flat rate randoms I bought on eBay. I didn't know what the Ben Davis was until writing this post, I had to look it up (it's a Star Power parallel.)

Fictional Padres. These customs are Corky's creation. I was a huge fan of the show Pitch and wanted to see the star of the show and the star of the team on one of my favorite vintage designs. (If I were a Pinterest person I'd 'pin' these to this page of custom card creations.)

Until recently San Diego was a two-team town. The Chargers played 56 seasons there, winning an AFL Championship in 1963. Lance Alworth was the star of that team, but I don't have any of his cards.

San Diego's passing attack was way ahead of its time. "Air Coryell" was implemented by Chargers coach Don Coryell and is used by many NFL teams today. Record-breaking quarterback Dan Fouts led the team to back-to-back AFC title games in 1980 and 1981.

I've seen this iconic image of Chargers tight end Kellen Winslow about a dozen times. This was after the Chargers' overtime playoff win against the Dolphins in '81. The story I'm much less familiar with (and even more fascinated by) was that the Bolts' "reward" for winning that game was perhaps the coldest game in NFL history - an AFC Championship game in Cincinnati, in sub-zero weather. The "Freezer Bowl" had a wind chill of -37 F!

Not surprisingly, San Diego lost that AFC title game. The Chargers' only Super Bowl appearance was a blowout loss to the 49ers in SB XXIX after the 1994 season. 

Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau was the star of that San Diego squad. I have nine Seau cards in my stars/HOFers box, including a '94 Stadium Club card with an interesting cartoon on the back:

Seau took his own life in 2012, less than three years after his last NFL game. A staggering total of eight players from the 1994 Chargers team have passed away; Seau was the eighth.

In 2001, the Chargers had the #1 overall draft pick. They traded the pick to Atlanta and ended up with #5 overall pick LaDanian Tomlinson.

I was a fan of the "other" LT for years, and I had hoped he would get to play in a Super Bowl. I also hoped to acquire a higher-value Tomlinson Rookie card like Topps Chrome. Neither of those happened.

Tomlinson reached two AFC Championship games, one with the Chargers and one with the Jets.

After trading the Michael Vick pick, San Diego drafted Drew Brees with their own second rounder in 2001. I have nine cards of #9, all base cards. I had a Brees SPx RC about 15 years ago and planned to send it off to PSA for some reason. But when I took it out of the top loader a small speck of paint peeled off the back. I ended up selling it instead.

There were two versions of each RC. This is the one I had. Don't tell me what it's 'worth' now :/

A few months ago I stopped into a small sports memorabilia store that I had passed by dozens of times on my way to work. Autographed jerseys, prints, and helmets are way out of my price range anymore, but I had hoped there would be sports cards for sale. 

As it turned out, there were very few. No packs or boxes, and nearly all of the single cards the owner had for sale were cleaned out. I did find a couple cards I liked:

The Tomlinson Flair relic caught my eye immediately. I also needed the Brett Favre insert pictured. The proprietor of Kessler's Korner told me that some Devils players (and their wives) shop in the store-which he mentioned because my wife and I were wearing Devils jackets. As I approached the counter to pay for the two cards I decided to add the pen to my order. He charged me $5 for all three items.

The Chargers aren't the only sports team to leave San Diego for Los Angeles...

The Clippers played six seasons in San Diego. The city also had an ABA team called the Sails.

Favorite Padres player (current): Eric Hosmer
Favorite Padres player (all-time): Tony Gwynn and Trevor Hoffman
Favorite Chargers player (all-time): LaDanian Tomlinson

Next tour stop: San Francisco

Thanks for reading!