Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Sports Card Tour 2018 - Buffalo

We're headed north for the next two stops on The Collector's Sports Card Tour 2018. Today's stop is Buffalo.

Buffalo's two pro sports teams are 0-6 in championships, including 4 consecutive Super Bowl losses by the Bills. The Sabres lost a Stanley Cup final on a very controversial call, and filed for bankruptcy less than four years later. The city has also been passed over for an MLB expansion team, and lost its NBA franchise.. but at least they have awful weather.

You can probably tell from this group of Bills 'hits' that most of my football cards are from the late 80's to the late 90's. I don't have any Bills cards worth more than 50 cents or so, except maybe this Andre Reed RC:

When I was in college (and working less) I had to shrink my sports card budget and narrow my focus. As a result, I stopped buying football boxes and packs from 2005 to 2016. I filled in some of the holes in my collection with a large eBay lot a few years ago, but that only caught me up to about 2010. These two Marshawn Lynch cards came from that box o' base.

Maybe it's the nostalgia factor, but I still love 1990 Pro Set. I probably have about 10-12 Jim Kelly cards; these are my favorites.

I used to have a Thurman Thomas Score rookie reprint parallel #d/1989..must have sold or traded it. I think I had a Bruce Smith RC, too. A lot of my football cards were purged long ago to raise funds for baseball or hockey card collections.

Dominik Hasek gets my vote for best athlete in Buffalo sports history. All six of "The Dominator"s Vezina trophies and both Hart trophy wins came while Hasek was backstopping Buffalo, usually with sub-par talent in front of him.

My wife bought me a replica version of this jersey about ten years ago. I still have it, but the crest looks like blood was splattered on it (no idea how that happened.) I don't have any high-value Hasek cards but I've got a couple dozen base and insert singles.  

Did anyone play these Powerdeck CD-rom things? I never even thought to try; I hear they have highlights on them.

Hasek isn't the only former Sabre enshrined in the Railway Canada Hockey Hall of Fame presented by Tim Horton's (brought to you by Carl's Jr.) Gilbert Perreault was part of the famed "French Connection" line that led Buffalo to their first Stanley Cup finals appearance in 1975...where some weird shit went down.

Pierre Turgeon and Alexander Mogilny are borderline Hall of Famers (I've evaluated Turgeon's candidacy before on this blog) I think Mogilny is deserving as well; I can still remember checking box scores 25 seasons ago to see if he scored one of his 76 goals. Beyond those impressive single-season and career stats, Mogilny was the first Soviet player to defect to North America. 

Much like my football star box, my hockey card collection doesn't have any Sabres stars from 2005 to 2016 ...but that's because they didn't have any. Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek had brief stays in the star box but they've since been relegated to the commons binders. (That said, if Team USA had somehow beaten Canada in the 2010 Olympics I probably would have started a Ryan Miller PC.)

One last look at my Sabres commons. I really wish Miroslav Satan played for New Jersey (I think every Devils fan did.) Jim Schoenfeld coached the Devils after his playing career ended - and famously told referee Don Koharski to have another donut!


Nigerian-born defenseman Rumun Ndur was the first African player in the NHL...two decades before major league baseball had its first African-born player. Speaking of baseball, Chris Drury was a hero in my home state when he led Trumbull, CT to victory in the 1989 Little League World Series over Chinese Taipei. Like Ryan Miller, Christian Ehrhoff was very nearly an Olympic champion, winning a surprising Silver medal with Germany in the just-concluded Winter Olympics.

My best Buffalo cards, including some from my favorite hockey sets: a Topps Pristine Gold Die-cut of Ales Kotalik, a Daniel Briere Be A Player auto, and an Exquisite base card of Tyler Ennis - who probably didn't deserve to be in such a high-end product, but every team has to be represented in every set.

I've got another Ennis incoming from COMC, and a Jack Eichel UD Canvas card that cost all of 28 cents. E-pack has likely halved the price of Upper Deck hockey singles-including higher end items like this Jack Eichel Young Guns RC.

It definitely cost more than 28 cents..but I don't think I paid more than $40 for it.

Final thoughts...

Sabres owner Terry Pegula bought the Bills for a reported $1.2 billion in 2014, outbidding a fellow by the name of Donald J. Trump, who "only" bid a billion. I'm just going to leave this here:
"I’m glad I didn’t get the team, because if I bought the Buffalo Bills, I probably would not be running for president", Trump said.

Favorite Bills player: LeSean McCoy
Favorite Sabres player: Eichel

Bills card I'd like to own: It would be nice to have that Bruce Smith rookie card back in my collection

Sabres card I'd like to own: A Dominik Hasek goalie pad relic

Braves card I'd like to own: Either a new Bob McAdoo insert or a vintage team card

Bring your passports..our next tour stop takes us to Calgary.

Thanks for reading! 


Sunday, February 25, 2018

Sports Card Tour 2018 - Brooklyn

The Collector's Sports Card Tour keeps on rolling. Today's tour stop takes us to Brooklyn.

Comment below if you've seen this sign before, and where you've seen it :)

Brooklyn is the first city on our tour that does not have a baseball team. The NBA's Nets and NHL's Islanders share the oddly-shaped Barclay's Center - for now.

Most of the Nets cards in my collection are from their 35 seasons in New Jersey (more on those in a future post) All of my Brooklyn-based base cards can fill a 9-pocket page. I do have one Nets relic in hand and one incoming, both from Panini Immaculate Collection:


This quad relic came from COMC as part of my 500-card order earlier this winter. These guys aren't exactly Steph, KD, Klay & Dray - which is probably why it only cost $2.25.

My most recent purchase helped me reach a hundred cards (to get the $5 shipping credit) and it only cost $1.35:

At that price I'd buy a dozen of these relics, but it's tough to find players I'm familiar with. Lopez is a Laker now, but he played four seasons in New Jersey. I think he was the last holdover from the NJ years. Basketball players change teams a lot.

The Islanders are temporary tenants in Brooklyn. Their four straight Stanley Cup victories and all but one of their playoff series wins were earned on Long Island.

I have at least one jersey relic for most NHL teams but the Isles aren't one of them. However I do have an autographed Trent Hunter card and a couple more in-person Islander autos. When my wife and I were dating, we went to an Islanders-Oilers game at the Coliseum. The team sent out a couple of players to sign autographs after every game and captain Kenny Jonsson was one of them. It was cold that day and the Isles lost, but he still signed my poster. (it's back home in Connecticut)

A few of my favorite Isles cards here- including a Roberto Luongo RC, a pair of Tommy Salo inserts and a rookie reprint of Glenn "Chico" Resch, who was the Devils' color commentator until a couple years ago. Doug Weight is now the Islanders' head coach; the 20th anniversary parallel set is one of my favorites. 

Islanders fans are worried that superstar center John Tavares will leave as a free agent this summer. It would be a tough loss for sure, but it might not be as devastating to the franchise as many would have thought. 

As of this posting, the team's leading scorer is.. not Tavares. Rookie Mathew Barzal has 66 points, tied with Taylor Hall for 12th in the NHL (and Hall is getting some MVP buzz.) The two Barzal cards were among the hoard of 30-cents or less cards courtesy of ePack; the Platinum Rainbow sells for ten times that price today.
I used to have two Tavares rookie cards in my collection, but since I sold the SP Authentic Future Watch auto and the Young Guns RC, my best Brooklyn cards are all Dodgers:

...except for this Superba

The Dodgers left Brooklyn 60 years ago (!!) but 'Dem Bums have a permanent place in the hearts of baseball fans everywhere. My aunt Cynthia was a Dodgers fan back then (my aunt Sylvia was a Yankees fan and my mom was probably too young to care) I've got nothing against the L.A. Dodgers but being a Red Sox fan, I feel a special connection to the Boys of Summer.

In high school I did a report on Jackie Robinson for Black History Month, shortly before the announcement that his #42 would be retired by all of major league baseball. My teacher initially discouraged us boys from picking sports subjects, but because Robinson transcended sports, she allowed it. I got a 98.

The first vintage Robinson card I ever owned came to me in a trade from Brian (Highly Subjective). It was a nice, well-loved copy, but when I got serious about collecting the '56 Topps set I made it a priority to upgrade.

The card that started my set was a Christmas gift from Mom - this second-year Sandy Koufax:

It was also part of my first PSA grading order.

The rest of my 1956 Dodgers include Ed Roebuck, Carl Erskine, Sandy Amoros, and a Karl Spooner incoming from COMC. A lot of my '56 Topps cards have come from that site, including this Carl Furillo that I probably overpaid for..

 ..and this Duke Snider card, which cost $135.55 in store credit.

I sold my Carlos Correa Heritage auto on COMC, which gave me more than enough to cover the cost of the Duke. Also, once I reached 135,000 points in COMC challenges I considered this a "free" card :)

There are lots of other Brooklyn Dodger items I could discuss, like the Billy Loes Bowman card I bought ungraded for $11.25...then sent it into PSA and got this back:

Or the Duke Snider autographed ball my wife and I won at Pack Wars. Or the Snider Starting Lineup figure my aunt bought from me in a yard sale, when I needed to make some cash (my mom found it after she died and gave it to me. I'd rather have my aunt back, obviously.)

All of these cards have a story, but I don't have enough space to tell them all, so I'll leave you with this 1951 Bowman Ralph Branca. You'll see his counterpart when we return to New York City.

Favorite Nets player: Jeremy Lin
Favorite Islanders player: Jordan Eberle

Nets card I'd like to own: This larger-than-life Julius Erving card, with the red, white, and blue ball and uniform. Very bicentennial.

Islanders card I'd like to own: A Chico Resch rookie card. The real one, not the Topps reprint.

Dodgers card I'd like to own: Any 1957 Topps card from Ebbets Field, with this Charley Neal at the top of the list.

Our next tour stop takes us to the other end of New York. See you back here for Buffalo!


Friday, February 23, 2018

Sports Card Tour 2018 - Boston

The Collector's Sports Card Tour 2018 will make 50 stops across North America but this one might be my favorite - today, we're in Boston.

Boston's four pro sports teams have a combined 37 championships, more than any U.S. city except their arch-rival New York (a much bigger city, with more teams and more money.)

Boston sports fans have had plenty to cheer about - especially over the past 15 years. Yes, they can be obnoxious and even racist, which is embarrassing for those of us that just want to rep our team, sing Tessie or Dirty Water after a victory, and head home sober.

The last time I was at Fenway Park was in 2012. Before the game my friend Brandon and I spent a beautiful summer day in Boston.. but about an hour before first pitch it began to rain. The Red Sox and Tigers managed to squeeze in five innings before the umpires called a rain delay. Bran and I watched Summer Olympics highlights on the jumbotron for a while before he had an idea - Let's go check out the Green Monster seats.

We made our way through the packed concourse until we found the stairs to the seats above the Green Monster. The rain was coming down pretty hard and it didn't look like the game would resume for a while - if at all (it didn't.) We thought it would be okay if we could sneak a quick view from the Monster seats, take a selfie or two, and be on our way - but before we could even pull out a camera the usher ushered us out of there. It's a rain delay! The tarp's on the field. We can't stay for ten seconds? Not cool, man.

Red Sox cards are the beating heart of my collection. I have four binders full of base cards and a three-row storage box full of inserts, rookies, and other hits. Blogger trades have added hundreds of new cards to my collection over the past year or so.

Having so many Sox cards makes it tough for me to decide what to show off here; I don't want this to be a baseball-only post - and I don't want to take up too much of your time - so let's take a look at the other Boston-area teams and come back to the Sox at the end.

I still don't have a favorite NBA team, but I'm kind of hoping that the Celtics can end LeBron James' 7-year streak of Finals appearances. They might be even better next year, once Gordon Hayward returns from that horrific leg injury.

Nearly all of the 100 or so Celtics cards in my collection are base cards, aside from these three and a pair of 2015-16 Donruss inserts. While researching a Basketball Hall of Fame post I wasn't able to finish, I learned that Chauncey Billups had a much better career than I'd realized. That inspired me to pick up his Topps Chrome rookie card on COMC, for a best offer of $1.75.

I'm worried it will turn yellow once I get it; a lot of the others have.

Did you know that, of the four Boston-area sports teams, the Patriots have the fewest titles in The Town? Sure doesn't feel that way. I don't have many Patriots cards (because I can't stand them) and half of my 'hits' are Drew Bledsoe cards. For some reason I remember talking to my friends in the 7th grade about the Patriots drafting Drew. This was right around the time they changed their uniform and hired Bill Parcells. We could tell the team was turning it around.

When Bledsoe was breaking records for passing attempts and leading the Pats to their second Super Bowl this 1993 SP Foil RC was red-hot. There was a guy in my town who sold sports cards and all sorts of things basically from the trunk of his car (he was kind of a gypsy.) He set aside a Bledsoe RC for me, called to make sure I wanted it, and came to my door one night with the card. I have no idea how or why I paid $75 for it as a 16 year-old, but I was very excited. (I was even more excited when my Packers beat the Pats in the big game.)

A lot of my friends back home were Bruins fans; I was the only Whalers fan I knew until the team moved. Even my wife liked the B's back in the day. Late in the 1991-92 season, her dad bought two tickets to a Bruins-Devils game at the Meadowlands. That just so happened to be Martin Brodeur's NHL debut. And she was there because she liked Cam Neely.

My (mom's) neighbor Darin is a lifelong Bruins fan. When I was 17 and I had a shaggy mop of dyed blond hair, he said I looked like the Bruins' #1 draft pick, Joe Thornton.

I've had this on-card auto in my collection for so long I forgot how I acquired it. Maybe I pulled it out of a pack.

Are you ready for some vintage Red Sox? Here are some ungraded gems I purchased on COMC:

Some high-grade Sox I purchased from 4 Sharp Corners:

And the crown jewel of my collection - these two Ted Williams cards:

The '56 Topps Ted is for my set build; it's the second most I've ever paid for a single card. Had to sell a lot of Upper Deck hockey sets for that one!

My Final Thoughts essay was going to be about J.D. Martinez, but I'll skip it since I've scanned and discussed so many cards.

Red Sox card I'd like to own: All of them. I want them all. Send them to me.

Patriots card I'd like to own: I thought I needed a Randy Moss Patriots card, but I have two. Maybe a 1985 Topps Tony Eason RC. I seem to have faint memories of that card from my childhood.

Celtics card I'd like to own: A Larry Bird relic. Or a Kevin McHale relic. Or a card of the Big Three, if one exists.

Bruins card I'd like to own: I need a high-quality copy of the 1984-85 O-Pee-Chee Ray Bourque card for my set, but it's very hard to find one with 50/50 centering.

Favorite Red Sox player: Dustin Pedroia is my favorite player in all of baseball.

Favorite Patriots player: He's a block-headed frat boy on the most detestable team in sports, but God darn it I like Rob Gronkowski. 

Favorite Celtics player: I'm pulling for Gordon Hayward to make a full recovery.

Favorite Bruins player: Charlie McAvoy is not only the best defensive prospect in hockey, he shares my wife's maiden name.

There is also a Red Sox minor leaguer named Kevin McAvoy.

Next tour stop: Brooklyn. Thanks for reading this. Have a great weekend!