Friday, June 29, 2018

Sports Card Tour 2018 - Portland

Calling all basketball fans! Four of the next five stops on The Collector's Sports Card Tour are NBA-only cities. Today we're in Portland.

Portland is home to two pro sports teams - the Blazers and the Timbers. I don't have any MLS cards, nor have I been discussing soccer on these posts. I just thought they deserved a mention because they're in Portland, they're popular, and they have a legit team name that doesn't include "FC" or "United".

The Trail Blazers were NBA champions in 1976-77 - which happened to be their first playoff appearance. They were Western Conference champions in 1989-90 and 1991-92. 

You may have noticed a new Basketball Stars Master List page at the top of my blog. This list will help me keep track of all the star cards in my NBA collection. I don't have any Bill Walton cards, but I have been meaning to read The Breaks Of The Game  - which chronicles the Trail Blazers' 1979-80 season.

Has anyone read this? If so, do you recommend it? I'm just about done with the final season of The West Wing (four episodes left to watch) so I'm going to look for this book when I return the DVDs the library.

The greatest player in Trail Blazers history is Clyde "The Glide" Drexler. Clyde was the catalyst of the two-time NBA finalists but had to return to Houston (where he played high school and college ball) to earn a ring.

I still haven't committed to completing the 1988-89 Fleer basketball set. My plan is to complete a couple more projects before starting new ones. I almost purchased a Drexler Starting Lineup figure from The Kenner Kid on eBay..but I passed at the $40 price tag. Probably wasn't a smart pass considering he's asking $150 for a mint figure.

That's quite a big discount just for one crease

Portland's deep playoff runs coincided with my basketball watching and collecting peak years. Nearly half of my Blazers base cards are players from the early '90s - including Terry Porter and Jerome Kersey:

It looks like Skybox stole the photo Hoops used for their Kersey card a year earlier.

Not sure how I ended up with four Rick Adelman cards but I wish coach cards were more common in recent sets. Then again, if you're paying $5 for an 8-card pack, do you really want a non-player to be one of those eight?

Danny Ainge played for four NBA teams (and one MLB team) Otis Thorpe was part of the trade that sent Clyde Drexler to Houston. Gary Trent's son Gary Jr. was acquired by the Blazers after he was drafted by the next team on our itinerary - Sacramento.

I wasn't following basketball around the turn of the new millennium so I missed the "Jail Blazers" era. That's one reason why I stayed away from the sport for so long.

Greg Oden was the #1 pick in the 2007 NBA draft, ahead of Kevin Durant. He only played one season's worth of games for Portland due to chronic knee and foot injuries. The UD Starquest card is an un-common, for what that's worth.

Brandon Roy was the Blazers' star scorer for a few years - until his career was also lost to a knee injury.

Repack Blazers. I initially thought the C.J. McCollum card was a bronze parallel or something. McCollum was one of the last cuts from my NBA Superstars master list.

These two former Blazers are in my star box. Scottie Pippen beat Portland in the '92 NBA Finals as a member of the Bulls. LaMarcus Aldridge was a 'franchise favorite' before signing with San Antonio. The Prestige insert is one of two Blazers cards I've bought from COMC.

This Totally Certified red parallel is the other. I took it home with the rest of the COMC 500 for just 95 cents. It's serial numbered to 199 and quite possibly my best Blazers card.

I have two other Damian Lillard cards. The Donruss card is part of my set build so I only have one Dame in my base card box. I should try to add a few more to my collection - he's the biggest Rip City star since Drexler.

Favorite Trail Blazers player (all-time): Clyde Drexler 
Favorite Trail Blazers player (all-time): Damian Lillard

Next tour stop: Sacramento

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A Special Sports Card Tour Stop - Pittsburgh

As you've no doubt heard Mr. Matthew Scott - Secret Santa organizer, Bob Walk superfan, and victim of frequent JBF bombings - is retiring from the baseball card blogosphere to spend more time with his family. I'm sad to see him go, but I totally understand. 

Blog post tributes to BWTP have been lighting up our blog rolls all week... and it just so happens that the next stop on The Collector's Sports Card Tour is Matt's favorite sports city. Today we're in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh is home to three pro sports teams - the Pirates, the Steelers, and the Penguins. Each steel city team has won at least five championships.

The Steelers have six Super Bowl titles - more than any other NFL team. Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers stopped them from capturing a seventh Lombardi trophy, defeating Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV after the 2010 season.

I don't have any Steel Curtain-era cards (vintage football cards rarely appealed to me)...

..and I don't have many recent Steelers stars, either. 

My meager football card collection has just two cards of Antonio Brown and two cards of Le'veon Bell, including a Prestige RC I pulled from a repack and a Contenders pennant I pulled from a retail box. 

The same 16-pack Fairfield box that yielded the Bell RC also yielded this shiny Big Ben:

I probably have more Kordell Stewart cards in my collection than any Steeler, and an 8 x 10 photo that will be included in a football-only giveaway prize.

Most of my Steelers star cards are of Hines Ward and Rod Woodson. I'm surprised I don't have more Jerome Bettis or Ben Roethlisberger.

In the next few days I'm going to post a basketball stars checklist page at the top of my blog. Once that's done I'll get to work on a list of football stars I need.

Since I don't have a lot of Steelers cards to show off I thought I'd include a Staring Lineup from my collection. I mentioned this Bubby Brister SLU in one of my earlier blog posts, back when I thought I was going to do a whole series on Buying Back My Childhood.

So far I've only managed two such posts - the one linked above, and one about 1988 Panini baseball stickers.

I'm slowly plugging away at completing the '88 album, but I'm unwilling to pay 50 cents a sticker on COMC unless it's an all-time great like Barry Bonds. Believe it or not, Barry was just 49 cents - the lowest-priced sticker available during the Spring Cleaning sale.

COMC has been largely responsible for my interest in vintage baseball cards. When I started shopping on the site four years ago I was amazed at how many high quality singles were available for as low as a dollar, and so I gobbled up a bunch from the '50s and early '60s.

It just so happened that many of them were Pirates - including a 1955 Topps Gair Allie and Preston Ward ($1.15 each), 1958 Topps Dick Groat ($1.45), 1961 Topps Roy Face WS Highlight ($0.75), and a 1971 Topps Willie Stargell ($2.65). Those cards were sold or traded, while others were sent to PSA for grading.

I purchased this 1959 Topps Bob Friend ungraded for $1.04 from the notorious JoelsHitShow:

This one's a keeper - unless I decide to sell my '59 singles to fund my 1956 Topps set.

I have ten Pirates cards in my '56 Topps set build, but Brian (Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary) showed off all the Buccos in his post so I won't repeat him here.

More COMC purchases - the Roy Face was $5.31 ungraded, while the Vern Law cost less than that ($4.57) as-is.

I've had my share of hits and misses with purchasing vintage cards off the site. For example, these two Bucs legends are no longer in my collection:

I spent $19.42 on this Roberto Clemente card. Could you tell from the scan that it's 'diamond cut'? 

This 1979 Topps Willie Stargell only cost me 95 cents. It looked a little off-center to me, but I submitted it to PSA anyhow:

'79 Pops cards are very tough to find in this condition. I was so excited when I got it back from PSA I posted about it on my blog. My personal blog. The one I maintained prior to this, in which I discussed writing and pop culture and crushes to my mostly-female audience who could not care less about sports cards.

That's when I decided to write a baseball card blog...and that's when I found Bob Walk The Plank. Thanks to Matt I've learned a lot about Pirates past and present, and gained a new appreciation for the franchise's history.

One Pirate legend I've always appreciated is Bill Mazeroski, the first player in World Series history to blast a series-clinching walk-off hone run. 

I thought I had more Honus Wagner cards but the Ted Williams card co. appears to be the only one in my collection. IMO, Wagner is still the greatest shortstop in baseball history.

There's no Andrew McCutchen collector more prolific and dedicated than Brian, author of the blog Collecting Cutch and owner of nearly 200 different 1/1 cards. My Cutch collection is considerably less impressive. The Optic base card was a dime box find, while the Bowman Chrome refractor RC was a $16.25 impulse buy on COMC in 2014.

Let's finish the Pirates portion of this post with some gold parallels, a Starling Marte FYC and a Tim Wakefield XRC. I know Matt has a soft spot for those bad Pirates teams of the '90s and '00s, specifically all-star catcher Jason Kendall.

Here's a new arrival from the big box courtesy of Brad's Blog. There was also a stack of '89 Bowman Bucs in there. I'm still separating the thousands of cards into keepers, traders, and giveaway prizes. Which reminds me...

This will be one of three Penguins-themed back issues in a box of books that I'll be offering up. I think I bought it just because I was so thrilled to see hockey on the cover of Sports Illustrated. (I have to try and get a copy of the Capitals special issue before it's too late.)

It's hard to argue that Sidney Crosby is the NHL's signature superstar. He might be a little vanilla for my taste but "Sid The Kid" has lived up the the hype from day one. No one could write a story about when - or if - he'd ever win a Stanley Cup; Crosby captained the champs as a 21 year-old. A year later, he scored the golden goal for Team Canada in the Vancouver Olympics.

Another one of my grading success stories concerns this Upper Deck Crosby RC. I bought it ungraded for about $112 on eBay back in 2006, when I was having terrible luck pulling the top RCs from packs. I submitted it to BGS and kept it in my completed set - until last summer, when I sold the entire set to fund my 1956 Topps set build. 

Basically I traded the Crosby for a '56T Mickey Mantle and the rest of the set for a '56 Ted Williams.

These Crosby cards will stay in my collection - especially the Black Diamond RC.

One last slabbed single to show off. I bought this Jaromir Jagr RC from 4 Sharp Corners when I was hoarding rookie cards of legendary players. I was thrilled when he signed with the Devils months after my purchase-but I never got to see him play in person. 


Did you know that "Jaromir" is an anagram for "Mario Jr"? You can't make this stuff up. 

The Pittsburgh Penguins would not exist without the legendary Lemieux. "Super Mario" saved the franchise at least twice - once when the Pens drafted him in 1984, and again when he rescued the team from bankruptcy in the early aughts.

This 'lost rookie cards' insert depicts Lemieux in the 1984-85 Topps/OPC design. As such, it's one of my Ten Most Wanted cards - a list that needs updating since I've recently crossed off two cards.

This OPC Platinum gold was the best retro parallel pull from the first box of Platinum I purchased, and partially inspired my nearly finished Frankenset (another page I need to update..sheesh I'm falling behind here!)

This Captain's Cloth relic belongs to my wife. It's hand-numbered to 100 on the back.

We have a Hockey News special issue somewhere with Mario Lemieux photo-shopped into a Devils uniform. The accompanying article was a 'what if?' based on Pittsburgh and New Jersey jockeying for his draft rights. (I won't say the Pens purposely tanked, but...)

Evgeni Malkin would be a franchise superstar on his own, but he's been content to ride shotgun with Sidney Crosby. I always wondered what he could do outside Sid's shadow.

On an unrelated note, he would have been the perfect spokesman for Score hockey cards.

This Dany Sabourin O-Pee-Chee was the last one I needed to complete the 800-card '08-09 O-Pee-Chee set.

I bought it off the Beckett marketplace, which I don't often do anymore. It's great for hard-to-find singles but it's time consuming and the quality isn't always great (this Sabourin has a dinged corner but I'll never be able to replace it.)

The rest of my best Penguins cards - including a pair of Ron Francis inserts (that trade destroyed the Whalers), and some goalie goodies. The mask card next to the Johan Hedberg insert is also Johan Hedberg. The Matt Murray Canvas card is one of my favorite photos from recent UD sets. Finally, the Marc-Andre Fleury Prisine RC is part of a set I'm one card shy of completing (I need #31 Ed Belfour. Anyone have it?)

I didn't have much of an opinion on Fleury one way or the other until he led Vegas to the Stanley Cup Final this past season. Three consecutive SCF appearances is impressive-but the leadership and stability he provided to the "Golden Misfits" made me a Flower fan.

Favorite Pirates player: Trevor Williams (why doesn't he have any Topps cards yet?!?)

Favorite Steelers player: Le'veon Bell or T.J. Watt

Favorite Penguins player: Evgeni Malkin or Kris Letang

Next tour stop: Portland

Thanks for reading. And Matt, thanks for everything my friend. Hope to see you again sometime. All the best to you and your family.

Raise the Jolly Roger! :)