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! :)



  1. Great stuff! You always have the best looking vintage, so sharp and clean.

  2. Awesome post! I know I will never measure up to Matt, but I am a huge fan of the Steelers too! Awesome looking Steelers cards especially the pennant card of Leveon Bell. Also love the Bubby Briater SLU; that takes me back to my childhood. Fun fact of sporta trivia for you: Pittsburgh is the only city with at least three professional teams that all wear the same basic color and gold all the way!

    1. Washington Red, White, and Blue got ruined because of the Redskins. Nationals, Capitals, and Wizards all got it right in our nation's capital.

    2. Toronto has three with blue and white.
      Jays, Leafs, And the CFL Argonauts.
      The Raps and TFC are weirdos.

  3. I only recently started watching football with any sort of interest.. I have to say I like the Steelers. I don't think I'd collect football though..
    I think Sid falls under the same category as Gretzky in that he just goes out and does his job.. No real flash, just goes and does..
    I'm sure Matt will agree, there should be more Bob Walk in this post!

  4. With all these tributes, it seems like it's going to be awfully hard to come back, because once back... he won't ever be able to leave again.

    This post reminded me that I have an '88 sticker for you, I can't remember who it is at the moment, but it is from your needs list.

    You need to try and get that "basketball stars" list up by Saturday... that way I can try to knock a few off if I go to the card show :)

    1. *awfully hard for Matt to come back.

    2. I'll get that basketball list finished by the time you hit the card show. Possibly in conjunction with my Portland post. Thanks for looking out!

  5. PNC Park is one of the better places to watch a baseball game. I'd like to go back someday.

  6. Favorite Pirates players: Tony Pena, Kent Tekulve, and Bill Madlock

    Favorite Steelers players: Hines Ward and Lynn Swann

    Favorite Penguins players: Jaromir Jagr and Kevin Stevens

  7. If nothing else, the Penguins were the first team I saw win a Stanley Cup.

  8. Great stuff!

    I like sid, big ben, leveon, antonio, Bradshaw to name a few pitt players

  9. One of the fun things about collecting the Pirates is that they had so many great "cardboard" guys. Clemente, Tekulve, Sanguillen and Kendall just to name a few.

    Picking favorite players is tough for me.
    Gun to my head I would probably go Bay, Lemieux and Hines Ward.

    Thanks for the kind words. I'll still be around. Shoot me an email sometime.

  10. Never realized the Jagr anagram thing that’s pretty cool. And yes I agree with your reference to “the trade that shall not be mentioned”...

  11. Matt already said it, there is a lot of great cardboard for the Pirates.

    My favs would be Andrew McCutchen, Jerome Bettis, and Kris Letang.

  12. Given that all three teams wear the same colors it's funny how I separate the Penguins from the other 2 teams.

    Pirates and Steelers I always associate with the '70s and are always consistent favorites (except when they play against my team). They're both colorful franchises.

    Penguins I always associate with the '90s and I almost always root against them. And they're very boring.