Saturday, December 31, 2016

Connecticut cards (my local team/player PC)

I've lived in New Jersey for over a dozen years, and adopted my wife's beloved Devils as my favorite hockey team. It's a tough team to root for, not only because they're lousy again this year, but because so many of the sports fans in this state are loyal to rival teams in New York and Philadelphia. Not sure if the NBA's Nets had that same problem, but my original favorite hockey team sure did.

The Hartford Whalers are sort of a cult favorite now, a gone but not forgotten relic of the "old" NHL, before the league expanded/relocated to non-traditional markets in the southern US. 


The Whalers moved to tobacco country when I was in High School,  and so my fandom was reduced to minor league teams like the New Haven Ravens, double-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.

The Ravens played a decade at historic/outdated Yale Field, starting in 1994. They pre-dated the Baltimore Ravens and I was so mad that the NFL team stole "our" name I called them the "Baltimore Football Franchise" until about 2001. 

The baseball Ravens were later affiliated with the Mariners, then the Cardinals, and finally the Blue Jays. I think I saw 15-20 Ravens games (including the Eastern League championship) before they moved to New Hampshire in 2004. The best player in Ravens history has to be Todd Helton. Unfortunately I don't have a minor league card of him.

Connecticut still has two professional baseball teams: the Hartford Yard Goats and the Connecticut Tigers. These teams did not exist before I moved to New Jersey so I don't have any cards of them, either. The Yard Goats are the current double-A affiliate of the Rockies, which sort of brings the Colorado-Connecticut connection full circle.

There are also two professional hockey teams in my home state, the Hartford Wolf Pack and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
The NY Islanders are their parent club

I never liked the Wolf Pack (even when they briefly renamed themselves the Connecticut Whale) because they are affiliated with the New York Rangers. I did attend a few Sound Tigers games, but I didn't follow them all that much. After the Whalers became the Carolina Hurricanes, the franchise shared an AHL affiliate with the Florida Panthers:

The Beast of New Haven was the third NHL-affiliated team in my sort-of hometown, following the Senators and Nighthawks.

The only other hockey fan in my circle of friends was also named Chris, though we often called him "Cush". We talked of buying Beast season tickets once we were working adults but they also moved to Carolina, after the 1999 season. (can somone explain to me why Peter Karmanos deserves to be a hockey hall of famer?)

Around that time, Cush and I had a contest to see who could acquire the most Hartford Whalers cards by December 31st of that year. The loser had to buy the winner a $10 card of his choice.

We ended up tied.

As of now I have about 1,000 different Whalers cards - not including anything in a complete set. I haven't really shopped for Connecticut cards in a while, but there was one in my last COMC order that I had to add to my collection:
2010-11 ITG Decades 1980's - Franchises Silver version ($8.95)

I've got a handful of Whalers autos and a jersey card or two - but nearly all of my Hartford cards are base or parallels.

Lately I've been thinking of setting a few collecting goals for 2017. My primary goal is to purchase a case of 2017 Topps Heritage baseball. I also have one last group of vintage cards to submit to PSA. 

Aside from that I've decided to re-boot my Connecticut collection. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of players in the four major sports (no disrespect to NASCAR or soccer) who have some connection to the Nutmeg state. I can't possibly PC Steve Young, Jeff Bagwell, Ray Allen, Chris Drury, Mo Vaughn, Brian Leetch, George Springer, Jonathan Quick, Dwight Freeney, Emeka Okafor, etc etc... so I'm going to narrow my focus to cards of Connecticut teams
  • New Haven Ravens, Beast, Senators, Nighthawks 
  • Hartford Whalers, Yard Goats, and maybe some Wolf Pack/Whale 
  • Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Bluefish
  • Connecticut Tigers, Defenders and probably some UConn Huskies 
  • Norwich Navigators
and let's not forget the New Britain Rock Cats:

I gotta get me one of these

My hometown of West Haven (which neighbors New Haven) has not produced a whole lot of professional athletes. The high school football stadium is named after New York Giants great and NFL Hall of Famer Ken Strong..

..but the only other West Havener to make the big leagues (that I know of) is Matt DelGuidice, who played goal (briefly) for the Boston Bruins:

Shortly after his NHL debut, my LCS was asking $3 apiece for these junk wax cards. I did not pay $3 for these, obviously. I'm pretty sure that this is all the cardboard Matt appeared on (except the French versions), but if not I bet I could buy all of the remaning cards for under $3 total.

There is one other minor league team I failed to mention, which existed before my time. The double-A West Haven Yankees played in my hometown from 1972-79, and were followed by the A's affiliate until 1982. I only have two West Haven cards but I plan to acquire a few more in 2017.

I wouldn't mind adding more of these Yankees to my collection

Do you collect cards of local players/teams? Has your hometown produced any pro athletes? Is there a minor league team near you? Let me know in comments!


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Holiday giveaway from Dennis @ Too Many Verlanders

This has been a particularly stressful week for me, at home and at work. Collecting sports cards is my go-to stress relief; whenever I need retail therapy I usually put a few bucks in my PayPal and hit COMC or eBay for some singles. Or, if I need instant gratification, I head over to Target and buy some packs or a blaster box.

Unfortunately I did not get any cards for Christmas. Not a blaster or a repack or even a single pack. Nothin. I did get some money from my mom, and put a few bucks in my COMC account. Those cards should arrive by the end of next week.

It was not an entirely card-less Christmas, thanks to the card blogging community. Wes (Jaybarkerfan) sent some great stuff my way - and I'm thrilled to hear he was happy with what I sent him in return. I sent cards to Adam (Infield Fly Rule) and Tim Henson, and they arrived safely so I might try that again next year. 

I made a trade with Robert ($30 a week habit) and I haven't heard if he got his end yet - probably backlogged on posting as many of us are. Hope everything arrived without any issues. Also, I have not received word from my Secret Santa recipient if he got his cards. He doesn't blog as often as most of you, and I didn't include my e-mail.. but I did reveal myself. Hope he likes that Jacob deGrom Strata jersey!

Just before Christmas, I got a box in the mail from Dennis at Too Many Verlanders/Manninghams which contained the items I picked out from his Christmas giveaway/tradeapalooza.  Dennis offered up some great stuff - lots of cards, figurines, and oddball stuff. I claimed a Dale Murphy starting lineup (which I'm saving/hiding) and a Mo Vaughn SLU which I'm letting my girls play with. My four year old loves posing and twisting my SLUs.

I also claimed these oversized Red Sox cards:

The Mo Vaughn is a box topper from from 1998 Topps Chrome. I think I have a Sammy Sosa from this set. I've never seen the Stadium Scenes before - it's the same size as those old Gameday/Power Play oversized cards that Fleer produced in 1993-94.

 Apparently they made baseball cards, too. 

There was also an opened pack of 8 Red Sox Team Snapshots from 1998 Pinnacle. I had never heard of these, either. They're exactly like the photo stock you'd get from developing your own pictures back in the day. I got two photos of Nomar Garciaparra, two of Mo Vaughn, one of Tom Gordon, one Jim Leyritz, and two others I couldn't easily identify.

The Trading Card Database says these are Tim Naehring (top) and Damon Buford.

Dennis also included a bonus lot of about 40 Red Sox cards and a pack of 2008 Topps:
When I think of "The Prince" I don't think of Albert Pujols. Yes, I get the reference. But to me, "The Prince" is this guy:

Papi and the Prince both retired this year. Albert Pujols, (aka "The Machine") is still playing.

Yes, Ted Williams did play at Wrigley the 1947 All-Star Game.

A pair of former Sox - Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. Both pitched no-hitters for Boston.

Lots of Jim Rice - including a 1977 Topps, which is now my oldest Rice card.

The best of the rest, including a Fisk PATP.

I got another Red Sox card in the 2008 Topps pack.
I know most baseball fans think Pap's a jerk - and he is. But I would have welcomed him back to Boston if they had worked out a deadline deal with the Nationals.

Dennis, thanks again for the trade! I hope to do more in the future. In fact, it is a New Year's resolution of mine to make 12 trades (one per month) with fellow bloggers in 2017. I'll have to find time to add a tradelist to my blog tabs and  get some more addresses so I can send "surprise" mailers for team collectors.

My other goal for the coming year is to purchase my first-ever case of hobby boxes. I'm saving my pennies for 2017 Topps Heritage baseball (burlaps, baby!) and even if I can only afford a few boxes I'll still have hundreds of dupes and inserts to trade.

I'm planning to list a lot of cards on COMC and eBay to fund the Heritage cards (and I finally figured out how to do COMC challenges!) so if you want me to set aside some cards of your favorite team or player for a potential trade, let me know in comments or via e-mail.

Hope you all have a happy and safe New Year. Here's to 2017: it can't possibly be worse... right?


Friday, December 23, 2016

Xmas Week & Holiday Tradeathon/Tradeapalooza Mail

It's been an up-and-down week for my sports card collection. I listed a card on eBay which was bid up to $45...but three days after the auction ended the winner refused to pay because "a deal fell through". As a result, I was unable to outbid the winner of this Aaron Ekblad patch auto, which sold for $15.50 + shipping

I can't file a non-paying bidder claim until Mr. Deadbeat bidder will get a nice Christmas surprise of a negative feedback that will wreck his 100% rating. 

I've been feeling a lot of anxiety over my Christmas bonus, and even though my wife has constantly reminded me of how many bills we have and how much money we don't have,  she's tired of hearing me complain and panic over not getting the bonus this year.

The attorneys I work for usually give $200 and a small gift for Christmas, and last year they handed out our bonuses early - somewhere around December 9. This has been an especially rough year for me personally, and I've been trying to find a full-time job.. but I stopped looking in October because, as Steve Remo said in Jerry Maguire "I gotta get da bonus."

But this year the attorneys threw us a curveball: they announced that we'd be getting an unscheduled day off (today),  and a catered luncheon (which was yesterday). The ladies in the office were grateful.. probably because they're all full-time and salary. But I sat there thinking Is this in addition to our bonus...or instead of?

Meanwhile, as the December days passed without any bonus, I sent out some trade packages (and some Christmas cards). Some bloggers have reported receiving them - and some have been backlogged or just haven't gotten around to mentioning any mail from me. Which is fine, and I'm not expecting a 'thank you' post. But I worry that their cards were lost in the avalanche of Christmas mail being shipped across the country.

Dennis at Too Many Verlanders/Manninghams offered up some surplus goodies on his blog, and I claimed a couple Starting Lineups and some oversized Red Sox cards. He e-mailed me a tracking # and said they should be here by Wednesday. They weren't here Wednesday, and they weren't here Thursday. The post office had no information other than the package left Michigan on the 19th. :/

However, I did receive my Holiday Tradeathon goodies from Jaybarkerfan. I've witnessed the generosity of Wes and his #bombBob campaign on Matthew Scott's blog. The tradethon was so much fun, as Wes offered up new items every day to be claimed. I scooped up a couple hockey cards right away, then strategically held back my last claim until the end.

Martin Brodeur 1999-00 Pacific Revolution Ornament

Drew Doughty 2009-10 Upper Deck Big Playmakers jersey (#d/75)

Marc Staal 10-11 Panini Threads Prime Jersey (#d/25)

 I also claimed this well-loved Bobby Avila card from 1952 Bowman:

Looks like some young collector had this glued or taped to something. I've heard that some kids would paste their cards in a scrapbook like this. It's always fun to imagine what a vintage card has been through.

These were all awesome cards and I'm thrilled to add them to my collection.. but in the back of my mind I knew that the last day of the tradeathon would have something really special. As luck would have it, I was able to check JBF's blog minutes after he published his post. I wasn't the first to claim something that day, but I feel like I got the 'grand prize' anyhow: an autographed mini-helmet from 2016 Leaf Football. 

The only clue Wes gave was that it is signed by a Hall Of Famer.

When I came home Tuesday afternoon I had not received any mail from Wes. When my wife came home that night, there was no box on the porch. And yet, when we left for work Wednesday morning... the box was there waiting for us. 
There was no way I could possibly go to work without opening it; I'd be so busy wondering about the mystery HOFer I'd never get any work done. And so I opened the box before work...

Lenny Moore was a halfback for the Baltimore Colts in the 1950's and 60's. He was a 7 time Pro Bowl selection, 5-time All-Pro, and won two NFL Championships in 1958 and 1959. I admit I didn't know any of this because his career predates the AFL-NFL merger and the Super Bowl.

Thank you very much Wes. I've sent a few cards your way, but they won't arrive before Christmas.

As for my $200 bonus... it was waiting for me on my desk yesterday, along with some other nice gifts: a $10 Dunkin Donuts gift card, a scratch-off lottery which yielded $2, and a board game from my boss who labeled the tag "To Chris, From: Brett Favre" (also: the luncheon was fantastic.)

Now that I have $202 I might spend a sizable portion of it on sports cards. We shall see.

One more piece of good news - my package from Dennis arrived today. This post is already too long, so I'll scan that up and post about it on the 26th, along with any Xmas cards I receive (my in-laws are always good for a junk wax repack or Topps blaster).

If anyone reading this received anything from me this week, please let me know. It doesn't have to be a blog post, just shoot me a quick e-mail so I know the post office didn't misplace your mail.

Hope you all have a Merry Christmas, or if you celebrate a different holiday:

See you on the 26th!


Sunday, December 18, 2016

My Favorite Card(s) of 2016 - and Secret Santa gifts

When I got my COMC order yesterday, one of the cards included was this David Ortiz 2016 Topps The Mint autograph I had mentioned in an earlier post

I was certain that I would write about it again once it was in my hands and declare it my Favorite Card of 2016 for P-Town Tom's Contest. But that was before I saw something that I had bought for another blogger, as part of Matthew Scott's Secret Santa exchange:

I had never seen any Topps Strata cards before, and I was not expecting this card to be so thick and colorful - and the swatch was enclosed?!? (seriously, you have got to see these things in person. the scan does not do this card justice.)  This was one of the most eye-catching cards I had seen in years. I couldn't put it down. I couldn't let it go. 

I had to. It wasn't for me. 

I can't tell you who it was for, since I'm their Secret Santa.. but I immediately declared this 2016 Topps Strata Clearly Authentic Jacob deGrom jersey card my favorite card of 2016. I hope my recipient enjoys it as much as I did (for that five minutes or so).

Speaking of Secret Santa... I finally caved in and opened my gift from my SS, Billy Kingsley:

 The larger of the two gifts contained this repack box:

The three packs were:

2014 Panini Prizm Draft

No Kevin McAvoy, unfortunately. And Iglesias wasn't technicaly a draft pick.

2015 Topps Heritage

Red Sox team card! The year they finished dead last :/ I'm happy to add it to my Sox binder anyhow. I think that's my fourth Tony Gwynn Jr. from '15 Heritage - and I don't recall buying that many packs.

Last but certainly least... 2015 Topps Series 1

This one wasn't worth scanning, and you've probably seen plenty of them anyway. The cards I got were:

Michael Bourn
Sonny Gray
B.J. Upton
Rockies team
Mike Foltynewicz (RC)
Joey Votto
Anibal Sanchez
Bryan Mitchell (RC)
Guilder Rodriguez (RC)
Alcides Escobar
Rene Rivera

Oh, and this insert of...some Justin Bieber wannabe I guess?

I'm sure my daughters will go nuts for this guy in a few years.

Here's the relic, a plain white swatch from 2011 Bowman Sterling:

Ugh. That repack was rough. I'm sorry you wasted your money on that, Billy. 

All was not lost, however. For Billy's second package contained more packs:

2016 Topps Stadium Club

Now that's more like it! I've had '16 Stadium Club packs in my hand twice at the nearby Five Below... but both times my wife & kids didn't buy anything, so I put them back. I'm glad that Billy picked out a pack for me - these are some nice looking cards! The Yount will go into my dormant player PC since it's a rule that every sports card blogger must collect Robin Yount cards (but have they paid $75 for his in-person autograph? I think not!)

There were also two packs of 2016 Topps Bunt included: a regular and a jumbo. Here are the highlights:

 2016 Topps Bunt (1st pack)

Cincinnati Reds hot pack! And a nice Kyle Schwarber (RC). Keeping that one for sure.

Now for the Jumbo:

That's the way to end a pack- with a Big Papi card depicting what appears to be the end of a home run trot. Got a nice Kris Bryant base in there, two Dodgers rookie pitchers, and both of the most recent HOF inductees. The Griffey Unique Unis is from the HR derby at the '99 All-Star Game in Fenway Park.

Here's a complete list of all 20 cards in the pack:

2016 Topps Bunt Jumbo
Mark Trumbo
Maikel Franco
Julio Urias (RC)
Lorenzo Cain
Kenta Maeda (RC)
Freddie Freeman
Steven Matz
Zack Greinke
Kolten Wong
Anthony Rizzo
Carlos Rodon
Ken Griffey Jr Unique Unis!
Carlos Gonzalez Program
Jose Canseco
Mike Piazza

Kris Bryant!
Addison Russell
Josh Donaldson
Mark Teixeira
Prince Fielder
Byung-Ho Park (RC)
David Ortiz!

I've mentioned before how much I liked this Bunt set, and with these two packs (and all the star/RC cards within them) I'm tempted to start building the complete set.

Thanks again for the Secret Santa gift Billy! I've sent a thank you card your way. 

Happy Holidays!


Saturday, December 17, 2016


My COMC Black Friday order arrived today...which meant I was finally able to send out trade packages, Secret Santa gifts, and Christmas Cards. The only thing I couldn't send was a thank-you "trade" package to Jaybarkerfan - since I don't have his address, either :/

I couldn't open them right away. I had to watch my 4 year old daughter because my 7 year old daughter was invited to a birthday party. I was afraid that the party (and the 3 inches of snow on the ground) would prevent me from getting to the post office. Thankfully my wife was nice enough to go right back out (in the slushy snow) and mail everything for me. I really appreciated that. 

More than half the cards in my Black Friday haul have already been discussed on this blog - because I'm impatient like that - but I've still got plenty to scan and share..

I've always wanted to own a 1955 Bowman Sam Mele card. Why?

Mele was a journeyman outfielder who played two stints with the Red Sox, and in '55 he was nearing the end of an unremarkable ten year career -- though he did lead the Twins to the 1965 AL pennant as a manager. He attended Yale (and I do collect Red Sox and players with Connecticut ties) and, at nearly 95 years old, Mele is one of the oldest living baseball players

But...why did I want this specific Sam Mele card? Because this particular card front has no logo or position, or even his first name. It just says 'Mele' 


..and that happens to be the last name of a girl I crushed on for more than three years. It amuses me that there is a baseball card of someone (who once played for my favorite team) named Mele. Yes, I know I'm weird. 

I was hoping to add it to my next (and possibly last) PSA submission, but I'm not sure it will make the final cut. The surface is squeaky-clean and shiny, and the borders have very little chipping - which is rare for a '55 Bowman. But the card is a bit curled and the back isn't great. Still, it only cost me $3.25 to add this card to my Red Sox vintage collection and/or subset of players who share surnames with girls I've liked. So far it's Mele and former Cardinals pitcher Mike Parisi...

 ... at least until I get a card of Sox minor leaguer Kevin McAvoy.

McAvoy is my wife's maiden name

As for the rest of the vintage cards in my COMC order, I'm happy to report that they're all crease free and appear to have no major flaws - though the Jacques Plante 71-72 OPC has a slight bit of gum staining above the Maple Leafs logo. 

Can I get an EX-MT 6 (NQ)?
I plan to submit about 15 cards to PSA when (if?) I get my Christmas bonus from work. That doesn't include a 1960 Topps Stan Musial I'm submitting for re-grade and a 1994 SP Alex Rodriguez RC I'm sending in for a crossover.

Perhaps I'll pull another Billy Loes, but I'm not expecting anything that spectacular in this batch.

Have you submitted anything to PSA recently? Do you have a PC of players who share your last name - or your wife's/girlfriend's/crush's? Let me know in comments!