Sunday, July 25, 2021

2021 Sportlots purchases part 10: 100% '84

Previously: Quick summary and set wantsBig and small we have them all!Better off TedA Tettle-ton of Froot LoopsLucky Tiger SevenDizzying DeansSportlots has been Barry, Barry good to memore Michigan? Marvelous!Tony the Tiger

Well here's a post that's been a long time coming. I'm finally wrapping up the huge Sportlots haul I picked up earlier this year, and I'm excited to be doing it with today's theme: the 1984 World Champion Detroit Tigers!

A few of the guys you'll see today previously appeared in this series' second post that covered all sorts of stickers, minis, and other oddballs, but besides those I scored a bunch of (generally) more standard stuff of some of my favorite members of the Wire-to-Wire Champs:

The first scan features three subjects, and we begin alphabetically with Sparky, the first manager to win a World Series in both leagues. He led Detroit to glory in his sixth season with the club after winning four pennants and two rings with the Reds. I added six cards to his collection (more later), and the four you see here are all from the early part of his 17-year Tigers career: 1981, '82, and '83 Donruss, plus an '84 Fleer team checklist. I also bought what should have been a variation of the '83 card, but the seller must have had it mislabeled since it was the same as the other I grabbed. No big deal, though, these are still fun early 80s issues of the guy that managed my favorite team as I watched them growing up.

Next, Evans was an addition to the team as a free agent in late '83 and he'd prove to be an important contributor the following year, though his best Detroit seasons would come the following three years. I added three interesting items to his collection, starting with a pair of Topps box bottom cards from 1989 and '90. I think they were a cool inclusion for collectors back then, and fun pickups now as I chase his checklist. Those are joined by a '94 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes base that combines black & white photos with a bit of a throwback design. It's fun seeing Darrell with his second and third franchises on the front as I know him best as a Tiger, but he spent more years in San Francisco (eight) and of course, Atlanta (nine), than the five he was with Detroit.

Last up in this scan is dramatic World Series home run guy Kirk Gibson; Decline to walk him at your peril if you're a racist MAGAt reliever. Since Gibby was a guy I started supercollecting before I knew what that was I'm quite surprised I didn't have his '95 Topps Cyberstats parallel, but that was easily rectified here. And speaking of his legendary Fall Classic performances, I came up with his Tigers entry in Donruss' 2004 World Series Blue insert to go along with the Dodgers one. You'll see the third item I picked up of him below.
Next is a guy who dominates the next two scans just like he dominated during the regular and post-season in '84. HOF P Jack Morris threw two complete games against the Padres in the Series to win his first of three rings after earning 19 dubs (including a no-hitter) earlier in the year. This scan and the next two include a total of 19 new items for his collection, one of the larger of my Tigers PCs. All but four feature him with Detroit because I didn't feel like paying $0.18+ for non-Tigers cards, though I'm still happy to acquire them otherwise.

This scan covers the 1981-93 stuff, which means it includes stats from his second, third, and fourth full seasons as a starter (he appeared in 28 games in '79 but only started seven of those). The '81s include the debuts of Donruss and Fleer, Topps (because I somehow didn't have that), and Topps' Coke Team Sets. The Coke card is my second from the Tigers set to go along with Kirk Gibson. As with the '81 version, I somehow didn't own Morris' '82 Topps base before this, but now I do! The '83s are a pair of Donruss cards, including a Diamond King(!), plus Fleer and OPC. The back of the DK refers to "The 27 year old" as "the ace of the Detroit pitching staff for the last four seasons", and considering he averaged 16 wins person year in that span, I think that's fair.
In this scan we get through the rest of the 80s stuff before jumping to stuff that's a bit more modern. Jack's 1984 cards include his stats from the previous season, during which he won 20 games for the first of three seasons ('89 and '92). The top three cards in this group were printed the year Detroit last won it all, and they include Donruss, Fleer, and Topps' Glossy Send-In All-Stars. The '85 Donruss card appears to be the last mainstream one I needed of the ones made the year after the Roar of '84, leaving me chasing some boxed sets and oddball-type stuff.

The next four are the only non-Tigers cards I grabbed because they were too cool to avoid. First is '92 Triple Play's Gallery of Stars, another Perez-Steele collaboration that makes them all but Diamond Kings. Two '94s capture his sunset season with the Indians: a Pinnacle Museum Collection and Sportflics Rookie/Traded base. That's one of my all-time favorite parallels plus a brand I love combined with the rookie/traded theme, so they were obvious takes. And last up in the group is a 2001 Topps Traded Gold parallel of Morris' base card in a subset that reprinted earlier Topps Traded issues. It's #d /2001, continuing that year's flagship product's debut of the Gold parallel as we currently know it.

And then we're back to a Detroit card, at least in terms of the uniform and team listed, if not the subject. As I mentioned, Morris came up aces in the '84 Series, but his gutsy 10-inning complete game in 1991's Game 7 combined with his victory in game 1 over Atlanta earned him the Series MVP. At that point he was 4-0 in five Series starts, though he'd go 0-2 in a rematch with the Braves the following year as a member of the champion Blue Jays. Regardless, that legendary '91 performance earned him the final card in this scan from Donruss' 2003 Champions set.
Scan #1 included three of the most important '84 Tigers, and so does this one! Morris finishes off his post-dominating run with a base from one of my favorite Upper Deck product lines: Sweet Spot (Classic, from 2003, in this case).

I also managed to grab a few cards of Detroit's iconic double-play pairing, Tram and Sweet Lou. The HOF SS's cards here are from '95 SP Championship's Die-Cut parallel (giving me all four of his appearances in the product), '95 Stadium Club Virtual Reality Members Only, '96 Donruss, and 2020 Topps Archives. Once again I'm in disbelief that I lacked such a basic card as Tram's '96 Donruss, but that was easily rectified. We'll see Tram again shortly, but for now I'll mention once again that I like 2020 Archives' callback to the 2002 flagship design.

Sweet Lou one of two today is from one of the same sets a Trammell from above came from. 1995 Stadium Club continued its Members Only parallel, and that year it introduced Virtual Reality, the product's answer to flagship's Cyberstats insert that attempted to extrapolate full stats for the shortened season. Topps mashed the two together into Virtual Reality Members Only, a third insert, and the result is what you see above.
I think I have to name this scan my favorite of the bunch by default since it includes four of the guys previously discussed today, including a pair of slick '90s inserts (which, of course rule, so that tag is once again in effect today!).

Sparky gets a multi-photo '85 Fleer Superstar Special subset demonstrating "giving the signs", and then a super cool 2002 Fleer Greats Dueling Duos insert with another managing legend, Earl Weaver. The back explains that the two faced off in the 1970 World Series, with the third-year Weaver's Orioles defeating Sparky's Reds in his managing debut. These guys combined for 43 seasons as managers, earning 3674 wins, nine pennants, and four titles (one for Weaver). I like the classic look of that insert, not to mention the pairing.

And then there's the other three players I said you'd see again. Gibby returns thanks to the pinnacle of the Pinnacle brand--its 1995 product and the highly sought after Artist's Proof parallel. The foil has faded from gold to something more like silver over the years, but it's still awesome. Tram's other appearance is another Stadium Club parallel: 1994's Golden Rainbow, with the lone difference being the gold/rainbow foil in the Label Maker-like player name section. And Sweet Lou's appearance in the super cool 1994 Triple Play Medalists insert is a textbook example of knowing what to look for before searching Sportlots, because that very card won't appear under a "Lou Whitaker" search (instead the description reads "Alomar|Baerga|Whitaker"). The card itself is another fun 90s insert, highlighting the best in each league by position, even if it's now off-putting to see the recently disgraced Alomar on it.

Well, just like the 1984 season, this was definitely a wild ride that ended in success! Another huge Sportlots foray is in the books, and now I can get to other stacks of cards on my desk from a blogger trade, eBay, and a TCDB deal, plus who knows what else to come?

Sunday, July 18, 2021

7/2/21 card show report: dollars, dimes, and quarters, I need them all right now

Nickels? In this economy?! Ain't no nickel boxes around here, but there was plenty to look through when it came to boxes full of dollar, quarter, and dime cards at this month's show in Taylor a few weeks ago. Unlike the past two shows, this time I didn't come home with a box stuffed with absurdly cheap hits and a light wallet, and instead I dropped just $23: $10 worth of dollar items and the rest out of the dime and quarter sections.

It was still reasonably productive, though, not to mention a great way to spend part of my afternoon on the Friday before Independence Day. I achieved my monthly goal of tracking down some trade bait for others, including scoring [pun intended, wait for it] all but one of the non-RCs my Canadian buddy Doug needs for his 2021 Score football set. Everything this time is already earmarked for trade packages (a few of which have already gone out), so I have nothing to show off from that category, but I did bring home two scans' worth of personal pickups:
The baseball group is Tiger-heavy, even if the uniforms pictured don't reflect that. Big Daddy is the lone player in his Detroit duds, representing the team in Donruss' 1992 McDonald's MVP set. Former blog namesake Granderson comes to us from 2012 Bowman Platinum, though as a member of the Yankees. Inge spent part of 2012 with Oakland, then played a 50-game sunset season with the Pirates, as captured on that 2013 Topps Update Blue parallel.

Down the middle we have the three non-Tigers, all of which are from some of my top PCs. I love the photography and design as usual from a Stadium Club release, in this case Larkin's 2020 version. There's no way I'll skip over a new Maddux card, especially if it's in the dime box like that '07 Heritage, even if it's still weird to see him with a team other than the Braves and Cubs. And card #3 here is a double-dip of favorites: Cal Ripken Jr. and Sportflics. The 1987 single you see above is from the "Best in Baseball" subset that goes by league and position, and this one includes Cal along with the late Tony Fernandez of Toronto plus Texas' Scott Fletcher as the top AL SS of 1986.

Getting back to Detroit-related cards, first is a 2020 Heritage League Leaders subset starring current blog namesake Justin Verlander, who went 1-2 with teammate Gerrit Cole in wins by AL pitchers (21 and 20). Joining him is a pre-Tigers uniform card of 3B Dean Palmer, a 1999 Fleer Tradition Warning Track parallel. That means the base card's foil (including the note that Detroit signed him) along with the insert's logo are red instead of gold.
And the Michigan stuff all fit nicely into one scan as well. I added to my small but growing Caris LeVert collection with a shiny 2019-20 Panini Illusions base--an easy snag from the dime box. He's joined in the top row by a pair of Michigan Football Devins from the past decade (we had a few!): LB (and birthday boy!) Bush from 2020 Panini Playbook (my first from that set) and WR Funchess out of 2018 Panini Certified. Side note: Funch recently caught a record-setting "pass" of a football dropped 750 feet from a helicopter, so he's got that going for him.

Three of the next four guys played for the '97-'98 national champs so I'll cover them all at once. Griese's card is a '99 Collector's Edge Fury Gold Ingot parallel, which you'd be able to tell better if the shiny "Gold Ingot" logo near the bottom-right of the photo didn't look like golden static. Heisman winner Woodson makes two appearances by way of 2020 Panini Playoff and 2021 Score, and I love that the latter included a vet like him. And lastly, the A-Train's back in diminutive form thanks to a 2004 Bazooka Mini--a little card that bolsters a big collection of mine.

And to finish things off we segue nicely to our last player of the day, another RB: transfer RB Thomas Rawls. In keeping with my collecting rules, I'll collect any cards of players who transferred in and out of Ann Arbor as long as they aren't depicted with a college team other than Michigan. That wasn't even an issue here with two pro uni inserts: 2017 Panini Classics Record Breakers and 2017 Panini Unparalleled Perfect Pairs. The former discusses a team record Rawls set for rushing yards in a playoff game: 161 in their 2016-2017 wild card tilt against the hapless Lions. Meanwhile, the latter pair is less than "perfect" since both players would be gone from the team after 2017, with Lacy out of the league and Rawls playing just one more season himself. It's a cool looking shiny card, though!

So, yeah, not much to show off or brag about, but I had fun digging through boxes, and the money I saved can always be available the next time my favorite seller has a blowout sale.

More posts to come soon as I continue to try to catch up on cards in-hand and chilling on my desk, plus stuff that's still due to arrive!

Thursday, July 15, 2021

2021 trade packages #17 and 18: Scribbled Ink

While it's hard to find reliability these days, I can just about always count on Paul of Scribbled Ink (but mostly on Twitter) to keep things interesting. He may have moved to New England, but he'll be damned if he ever turns into a Masshole! The erstwhile Michigander and current New Hampshirian was nice enough to treat me to both a bubble mailer and PWE recently, so I thought I'd round them up into one post. And I meant it when I said he made things interesting here as I didn't expect any of this stuff!:
We'll start off with the bubble mailer that I believe arrived in late June. This is how he packaged the contents, and the sticky note made me laugh since he'd hyped up one or more if the items he was sending here.
Here's a look at almost everything in the envelope. Up top we have three totally random packs: 1991 OPC Premier baseball, 2015 Panini Texas Longhorns, and 1990 Collegiate Collection LSU. He thought I might try to flip the latter two to fellow college collectors, but he was wrong since I went ahead and ripped all three (more on that below) since I don't really buy packs for myself anymore.

Next is a pocket schedule from a Minor League team about a half hour away from Paul's new home: the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Even with Sith Lord Rob Manfred robbing towns of teams, it's nice that you can often count on a nearby Minors franchise for fun, low-cost games. This one happens to be the AA team for the Blue Jays (previously the Cards, Mariners, and Rockies), and claims potential future star IF Austin Martin as one of its better prospects. I hope Paul gets to enjoy seeing some of Toronto's future stars on their way up!

And last up in this scan we have two of the most exciting items here: a pair of Gypsy Oak cards. I'll admit I don't know much about these, but I've seen the works of art by the talented Jeff Baker all over the place, and I'm always impressed by how great they look. There's some great people doing amazing things in the world of customs right now (more on that later), and this guy is clearly one of them. I believe Paul asked me if I was interested in the Greenberg (it may have been a dupe for him?) but the Ripken, apparently signed by the artist, was definitely a surprise. How great do these look?!
I thought it would be worthwhile to show off the backs. Hank's card definitely has an 80s Topps feel to it, and Cal's functions as a checklist. If you're interested in more stuff like this, I'd suggest checking Jeff out on Twitter or his site here.
Of course, "more stuff like this" includes by far my favorite item in the envelope, this carved(? Etched?) Braille card of Ripken. It's scanned here at roughly its actual size, and obviously it looks even cooler in-hand, but even in a 2D image you can get an idea of the level of detail and quality. I did some quick translating and the Braille reads:

Cal Ripken Jr
Balt Orioles
Stars of

Man, how cool is that? I really appreciate the great work Jeff put into his pieces, not to mention Paul for including what's now one of the most interesting items in my Ripken collection.

Before we get to the PWE, here's a quick look at the results of the packs:
1991 OPC Premier:  I got my 7 cartes de baseball as promised, and the pack definitely had a Canadian lean with a pair each of Jays and Expos. Crime Dog and Bonds are the most notable players here, but Boddicker, Key, and Gruber each had pretty nice careers as well, with all winning at least one ring.
2015 Panini University of Texas is just like the Michigan product I enjoyed so much. Most of the players are well known to me, as I'm sure they are to many sports fans, and I'll probably toss them up on TCDB unless somebody comments here that they want them.
I've seen packs like this LSU version before, I believe, and they're great for collectors of universities like me. Not that I can really stand any SEC teams for multiple obvious reasons, of course. Again, these'll go up on TCDB unless I have one or more readers who are a different kind of Tigers fans!

A bit earlier this month I was then the lucky recipient of Paul's favorite ammo: a PWE.
I get where he's coming from because despite collecting a ton of different players, for a lot of them I already have a lot of the basics. He's really underselling himself here, though, because I most definitely didn't have any of these items and was in no way likely to find them myself anytime soon:
Before I discuss these, here's a look at the backs of the first two cards, since there was no way I was going to have any inkling what they were without doing so myself:
Millburg Trading Cards looks to be a company that prints all kind of custom stuff like cards, stickers, and apparel. As with any customs featuring player likenesses and/or obvious use of other companies' designs, I don't know the legal workings of this, but I will say that their cards look pretty cool!

#1 is former Wolverine (as if I don't mention that fact enough) and 2021 All-Star Jake Cronenworth from the Lettermen line. Click the link to see the large range of players and schools, though, spoiler for fellow Michigan fans: Cronenworth is the lone representative for our team. Not a surprise in a set that's heavy on alumni of such programs as UCLA, LSU, and Vanderbilt. Anyway, Jake's card looks excellent, with a good (if a bit too zoomed-in) action photo, team colors, and the team nickname in fat capitals up top.

Another guy who was no stranger to the Midsummer Classic (and who I thought was fun during the Home Run Derby broadcast) is Junior Griffey, here repping the Quarantine Project Minis line. This 12-card set uses the classic '62 Topps design and places a cartoony or mosaic type of image of a player over a photographic stadium background. I like the resulting posed image of Griffey in a Mariners uni from early in his legendary career.

Last up is a card that was customized by the pictured player--an IP or TTM autograph of one of my bigger recent PC guys, Dean Palmer. The slugging 3B signed his '92 Ultra base with some decently legible writing, and I'm really happy to get a card like this for his collection since I never sent him a TTM request back in my younger days when I sent a ton of those out. It was very cool of Paul to think of me whenever he found that, and that's a great example of why I love trading with people like him.

While he obviously doesn't feel like he sent me much, there were clearly some gems for me in both envelopes, especially when it comes to the custom-type stuff that wasn't even on my radar. So, many thanks to Paul for this pair that came up aces! Once I get my end of my latest huge TCDB deal, he'll have a nice fat stack of stuff heading back his way to reward these efforts.

As for me, I have a few things in the pipeline: that TCDB deal I just mentioned, this month's show, an eBay win, and the final post in my latest Sportlots series, plus who knows what else? When will I get to all of that? At some point!

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

TCDB trade roundup: c2cigars, deadhead11, and Mjprigge

I had a pretty busy couple weeks in terms of card stuff that feels like it included everything but blogging. Lots of logging/scanning, going to a show, and proposing, sending and receiving some TCDB trades.

Speaking of the latter, I've been fortunate enough to have three envelopes show up recently thanks to that site (with at least one more on the way!), so I thought it would be fun to do a second (I believe?) TCDB trade roundup. Here's a quick look at what I received:

First up was either a PIF (pay it forward) or RAK (random act of kindness) from C2Cigars, a.k.a. Chuck. If his name sounds familiar to you, that's because I was able to meet up with him and Paul at a show in Paul's neck of the woods late in 2019. Continuing the spirit of a thread that's now more than four years old and 2500+ posts strong, Chuck sent me the following nine cards out of the blue:
The first two are 2021 Donruss base issues of Tigers teammates Miggy and the Candyman. I think the design could have used less white and more color, but it's cool having a couple more 2021 Tigers in my collection since I don't buy packs or anything. Candelario's lacked the power he showed off last year, but it's fun to see Cabrera chasing a couple milestones as his career winds down.

Besides those I was treated to a seven-spot of '21 Heritage Tigers. Topps is running back the '72 design this year, and it features a solid design, though I still prefer action shots to this posed stuff. But it does hit some classic notes nicely, so there's that. Miggy and Candelario are also featured here, along with pitchers Tyler Alexander, Gregory Soto, and Spencer Turnbull. Also in the picture is slugger C.J. Cron, who I was disappointed to see gone after his powerful start to the 2020 season was interrupted by injury. And then there's my favorite of the bunch: a throwback to the multiplayer RCs of yesteryear. This one includes a trio of pitching prospects: the recently DFAed Beau Burrows, who lost his lunch on the mound and then his spot on the team; Kyle Funkhouser, who's been quite good out of the 'pen; and Rony Garcia, whom Detroit snagged from the Yankees in the 2019 Rule 5 draft.

I also want to give extra credit to Chuck as Alexander's card is a short print, one of three Tigers in the high numbers (including Joe Jimenez and JaCoby Jones).
And why not include the backs for completeness?

It was very cool of him to send these my way and fortunately for me I'd already gathered a few items for him before supplementing them with a few more at last week's show (recap coming soon-ish). I may also follow his lead and pick a random TCDBer to send a PIF to so the fun continues.


Next up is a deal I completed with John from Minnesota who goes by deadhead11 (with an assist from Paul!). A fan of Saints and Shaq, among others, John DMed me asking about a couple New Orleans hits I scored on the cheap from my monthly show, wondering if we could work out a deal around them. Hey, I'm happy to take a look, at least.

We batted the proposal back and forth a few times, and thanks to a few cards Paul was generous enough to PWE to him on my behalf, we agreed on a deal that brought me some cool Michigan Football stuff, including a pair of new autographs:
The first nine include vets like WR Derrick Alexander ('99 Finest), OT John "Jumbo" Elliott ('94 Stadium Club), insane Viking C Steve Everitt ('95 Pacific), and QB Elvis Grbac ('99 Pacific). Rookie year cards comprise transfer TE Devin Asiasi (2020 Playoff RC), beastly DL/LB Brandon Graham (2010 Playoff Contenders Rookie of the Year Contenders insert), transfer QB Ryan Mallett (2011 Finest RC), LB Jonas Mouton (2011 Rookies & Stars Longevity Silver parallel /249), and transfer QB Jack Rudock (2016 Panini Prizm RC). I loved getting some of the lesser seen vets like the two OL, and the rookies were helpful with my project where I'm chasing those, including guys who transferred out (Asiasi and Mallett), and new additions like Rudock. I appear to be just one first-year shy for the two quarterbacks here, while I own just a pair of Asiasis.
Before we get to the autographs there's one more base to admire, with former #1 Alexander getting the die-cut/horizontal treatment courtesy of 2001 Pacific Crown Royale. How could I not try to swing that as part of the deal?

But my real prizes were a pair of Thomas Rawls autographs (speaking of transfers!). John had one listed and came up with another one, which was a nice bonus for me. The Wolverines/CMU Chippewas RB can be seen here on a pair of signatures from 2016 Panini products: Infinity's Infinite Ink (/188) and Prestige. Both are great in their own right with the card on the left being thick, shiny, and numbered, and the other showing off that full bleed Prestige look that I tend to appreciate.

These are my first two solo autographs of Rawls to go along with a relic, auto/relic, and plate.

I was very happy with my experience dealing with John and would highly recommend him thanks to his patience and willingness to work out a fair deal.


And finally, hot out of the mailbox today, is the result of a deal with TCDBer/Tweep Matt of Wisconsin, whom many of you know as Mjprigge on the former and @mjpmke on the latter. The author/librarian/Brewers fan tweeted that he was hoping to try to put together the fun debut of Upper Deck's SPx from 1996. I almost immediately asked him to send me a wantlist since I had a few I was happy to give up. We ended up matching up for five that he needed, plus a college football autograph I'd grabbed at a past show. In return, I was happy to get the following in an easily worked out PWE trade:
I think I was the most excited about card #1 here since it's the oldest: a '69 Topps Deckle Edge of former Tigers great Willie Horton. Bulking up his collection is something I've been trying to focus on recently so scoring something like that in a deal is great.

The next four cards represent three of his teammates that combined to help the Tigers win the '68 Series. Mickey Stanley is seen here on his '73 Topps base, on which someone noted in pen that the Gold Glove CF that year also played some SS, which is a bit of an understatement. Detroit manager Mayo Smith made the ballsy call to move Stanley to the all important infield spot for the World Series, replacing all glove/no-bat SS Ray Oyler while fitting OFs Horton, Al Kaline, and Jim Northrup, into the lineup as well. Man did that pay off!

The aforementioned Northrop comes up next on his '74 Topps base, and he took advantage of his '68 Series at-bats with a pair of homers and 8 RBI in the win.

Then awesome story and PH great Gates Brown joins Stanley's second appearance out of 1976 SSPC, with that product continuing to be the gift that keeps on giving. Brown chipped in 6 HR during the title-winning season, with a few coming in clutch situations off the bench.

Gates won a second ring as a coach with the Tigers in '84, a team that included former White Sox OF Chet Lemon, who came to Detroit in a swap that sent Steve Kemp to the Windy City in 1981, the year the card you see above was made by Topps . I'd say that deal worked out just fine for the good guys as Lemon put up eight solid-to-excellent campaigns in nine seasons in Motown, including a career-high 6.2 bWAR (matching the previous year) during that magical '84 season.

Last up in this scan is another ring winner, just one that didn't accomplish the feat with Detroit. I can't go that many posts on TMV without at least one Verlander, and here you can see the 2017 champ on a 2020 Topps League Leaders subset issue, which mentions his 21 wins to top the AL in 2019; teammate Gerrit Cole came in second with 20. Alas for the cheatin' Astros, they couldn't repeat the magic of 2017 for some reason, and fell to the Nats.
We're not quite done here, yet, though, because there's one more item remaining. Toymaker LJN co-produced these oversized oddballs, like Larkin's here, with Topps in 1989, and while the front looks normal enough, the back is definitely enough to throw most people for a loop. You could "play" audio clips on the top half of the back with a special record player that was sold separately (wasn't everything, back then?) making them a fun novelty, though obviously they never caught on.

Big thanks to Matt, who's a fun Twitter follow and excellent TCDBer, for another easy deal, our second (with the other happening about a year ago). I love helping people tackle sets when I can, and getting some very cool cards from a rock solid trade partner is just gravy.

At some point in the near future I'll have another recap of a deal made on the site with a familiar (at least to me) trader, but first I'll be showing off a couple other trade packages plus going over the results of my latest monthly show.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

2021 Sportlots purchases part 9: Tony the Tiger

Previously: Quick summary and set wantsBig and small we have them all!Better off TedA Tettle-ton of Froot LoopsLucky Tiger SevenDizzying DeansSportlots has been Barry, Barry good to me; more Michigan? Marvelous!

One of the many reasons I'm glad I've evolved into a player collector over the years is how rewarding it can be to relive a favorite athlete's career through their cards. Tony Phillips is a guy I remember enjoying watching during my younger days, especially during his stint with the Tigers, and as I've repeated a number of times here, I've come to appreciate his game even more as I've gotten older.

One of his most defining characteristics was his versatility, and if you needed any evidence of that beyond, say, his Baseball-Reference page, pay attention as you scan through the cards I picked up from Sportlots below and witness the crazy number and combinations of positions listed on the fronts: OF comes up the most with 2B not too far behind, and you'll also see standards like SS, 3B, and LF. But don't forget SS/2B, 3B/OF, IF/DH, IF/OF, OF/2B, and OF/2B/3B! This guy played around 1/3 of his career in the outfield with most of the rest of his time spent in the middle infield and 3B, plus he could get on base (including walks) and score runs, and occasionally he even offered a bit of pop. Put him anywhere in the lineup and you're all set!

In the spirit of the late Keith Anthony Phillips' many facets, please enjoy this look at a huge variety of cards I added to his collection thanks to Sportlots:

We'll start all the way back the year I was born: 1983. Because the rules for such cards are goofy, the 1983 Topps Traded that kicks off this scan is generally not considered a RC, but an "XRC". Whatever, it's still his first Major League card and it shows him hitting in one of his 40 appearances in 1982. By the way, did you know he was actually drafted by Montreal #10 overall in the 1978 January secondary draft (way back when they had those), then traded to the Padres in 1980, and then to Oakland in 1981?

After that is a pair of '84s, including his Donruss RC (which gives me all three of them) and one of a bevy of food issues you've enjoyed this series: Topps' collaboration with Nestle. Tony can be seen smiling, as he often was, on his Fleer base from the following year.

The rest of the cards in this group are glossy/Tiffany versions of cards I already had the base versions of from 1987-89. They're difficult to discern from a scan like this and even sometimes in-hand so I try to remember to put them in penny sleeves to remind myself and avoid tossing them as dupes.
Now we're into the 90s stuff where we pretty much spend the rest of the post. The top row isn't too exciting with 1990's Donruss Best of the AL, Fleer Canadian, and Topps Traded Tiffany. Under that, though, we have 1992 Bowman and Topps Gold sandwiching two very nice inserts from the same year: Donruss's Diamond Kings and Leaf's Black Gold. The artwork for the DKs always looked amazing but I really like the brand's switch to the different card stock and foil accents here. Then from '93, in addition to Pacific Spanish, I added Phillips to my collection of that year's OG Finest set. I may be searching forever for affordable versions of the iconic Refractors, but otherwise I'm pretty much done with the set save for the biggest guys like Griffey/Gwynn/Maddux/Ripken.
1993's representatives include a Select Stat Leaders insert, Stadium Club Members Only parallel, and three different Topps flagship versions: Gold plus the Inaugural Marlins and Rockies cards. How did Phillips pile up 114 runs to lead the AL in 1992 on a team that went 75-87? It helped that he got on base at a .387 clip with an outstanding 114 walks, but just as importantly, the lineup was stacked with power, with Mickey Tettleton, Cecil Fielder, Lou Whitaker, Travis Fryman, and Rob Deer combining for 138 bombs and 438 RBI. Also, can we talk about how amazing that photo is from the Stadium Club card, with a throwback uni-bedecked Phillips defying gravity to turn two while Fryman looks on? Topps may whiff on the images they use in flagship, but Stadium Club never misses.

Anyway, it's time to move on to '94 with the super premium Flair, a very different O-Pee-Chee look (starring another smiling Tony!), and the first of a multi-year Pinnacle run that I still love to this day. I would have been excited enough with the debut of the Dufex Museum Collection parallel at the end of the scan, but I also tracked down Tony's Artist's Proof version. I don't think I can emphasize how tough the latter was to find back then, so they still feel special to me today when I can find them for a fairly reasonable $1 each.
We need 2/3 of this scan to finish up 1994, and that's mostly because of parallels. We start with Score's Gold Rush, then move on to the second year of UD's SP, plus its die-cut version, followed by the Members Only parallel of Stadium Club, an issue from the 50-card confusingly named Members Only boxed set, and finally, Topps Gold. It's kind of funny looking at the Score parallel and SP base and realizing they have pretty much the same kind of gold thing going on!

1994 was Tony's last season with the Tigers so some of the '95 cards start showing him with his next team, the Angels. While the Collector's Choice SE Silver Signature and first of two Finest cards in a row show him with Detroit, a Collector's Choice base from the "traded" section depicts him with California, just as the same subset has his former teammate Tettleton with the Rangers. Tony would bop a career-high 27 homers with the '95 Angels.
A graph of the increase in sets from the various manufacturers must have looked like a vertical line back then because this scan is all 1995 and it doesn't even cover everything from that year! Finest Series II captures Phillips with his new team while one of Fleer's goofiest designs uses a very similar photo, albeit with the Tigers, giving us a look at how consistent his hitting mechanics were. One of my favorite Leaf designs shows some batting action that serves as a reminder that Tony was a switch-hitter, further upping his versatility.

Inserts down the middle here include Score's return of the Gold Rush parallel along with Hall of Gold, an insert found in both series that focused on some of the bigger stars of the game. And SP's third year included another parallel, but instead of going the die-cut route, Upper Deck went with a shinier Silver foil on the left side of its insert that's also known as "Superbafoil". If you're still counting, there's another smilin' Tony!

The bottom row's first card reminds me that while the '96 version will forever be my favorite Sportflix product, '95's looked awesome too, and I'm quite happy with how Phillips' card scanned here. That's joined by another example of Stadium Club's Members Only boxed set (called "Members Only 50" this time), and Topps' foiltastic Cyberstats parallel, which attempts to extrapolate stats for the strike-shortened '94 season.
Ok, now we can finally finish up '95, with an Upper Deck trio. Tony looks like he's about to make some solid contact on his UD flagship and Electric Diamond parallels, and then we get one more happy moment with the Tigers thanks to the Special Edition product.

In contrast, 1996 can be summed up in the remaining six cards. Four of those happen to come from Fleer: the matted and embossed Emotion-XL, flagship and its Tiffany parallel, and a White Sox team set. I really like the way Fleer did the matte cards plus glossy versions in '96 and '97. Also, the White Sox come into play here as Tony spent '95 with the Angels, signed with Chicago the following January, then returned to the newly-named Anaheim franchise in '97. Speaking of the ChiSox, you get another issue with them thanks to a Finest subset that focuses on trades. Then, for the third straight year, Phillips made the Stadium Club boxed set, which again added the "50" to its name to denote the set size.
1997 makes up a perfect nine-card scan here. Both his Leaf base and the crazy Fractal Matrix version capture him back with the Angels, and I'm happy that with the Matrix Bronze card out of the way I just need to find a Die-Cut version. Pacific's offering that year isn't great in my book, but they came up with some solid designs pretty soon after. Both Score and its foiled up Showcase parallel feature Tony looking a bit alarmed about something mid-swing. He was perfect for Studio, especially one of the best versions of it, and proves that with another smile. Don't call the Ghostbusters--that Chrome card isn't nearly as haunted as it scanned. That year's Gallery is typically excellent, and it's a shame it's his only appearance in the product. And I love the big leg kick and pinstriped uni in Ultra's Gold Medallion version, which I'll remind everyone includes a different photo than the base, something that doesn't typically happen with a "parallel".
Here we have the last of the verticals and first of the horizontal cards. As often happens when there's a bunch of scanning involved I goofed up by flipping the two Y-axis cards, so Ultra's '98 Gold Medallion should have been first followed by 2000 MLB Showdown Unlimited, which captures Tony back with Oakland on his final mainstream card made during his career (which ended in 1999), along with the 1st Edition and a couple inserts.

The horizontal contingent opens with Phillips about to make a great play, back with Detroit, on a '94 UD Electric Diamond parallel. That's followed by '95's Collector's Choice Silver Signature and the high-end Flair. We won't be ending on cards with him as a Tiger, but this trio is still nice to see near the end of this evening's post.
Speaking of endings, here we are with the final scan, and boy does it start with a bang. I don't think I need to repeat how much I love 1995 Pinnacle and here I have both the Artist's Proof and Museum Collection versions. I already mentioned how tough the APs were back then, and I prefer that year's Dufex parallel above all other versions. The fact that he has a great horizontal action photo here is a big bonus.

As for the rest, Studio's credit card-themed set also represents 1995. Stadium Club's Team Stadium Club base subset, plus a Silver parallel, are from 1996. Like I said, Pacific did better after the '97 set that didn't do much for me, and the '98 set feels like a step in the right direction. Phillips spent 1998 with the Blue Jays and Mets, with whom he's seen on his '99 Fleer Tradition base and parallels, such as the red-foiled Warning Track parallel above, though it also mentions that Oakland signed him as a free agent. And fittingly, the final card here has him back with the franchise for whom he played the most games and seasons, Oakland. That would be Pacific's Omega product, also from '99, which comes with two images up front, one of which is used both in an inset photo and in a foiled area on the far right.

This haul of one of my favorite former Tigers gave his collection a huge bump, and I now own 242 different cards of Phillips, putting him at #15 among baseball players I have on TCDB, so hooray for a new milestone. I also became the undisputed #1 collector of Phillips cards on the site, something that's been happening more and more often as I continue to put my effort into collecting players few others chase:

Just as I'd hoped, it was fun not only strengthening one of my favorite PCs, but enjoying looking at some very cool brands and inserts at the same time, so I'm glad I unintentionally made Tony the last of the single-player posts in this series.

You can expect the final one, which some of you will be roaring about, fairly soon, but first I need to log and scan those cards, and I appear to have a couple envelopes heading to my mailbox in the near future, so I'm not exactly sure yet when you'll be seeing the finale. As for me, I'm happy to be putting away even more cards from this huge Sportlots purchase, freeing up a bit more room on my desk!

Saturday, June 19, 2021

2021 Sportlots purchases part 8: more Michigan? Marvelous!

Previously: Quick summary and set wantsBig and small we have them all!Better off TedA Tettle-ton of Froot LoopsLucky Tiger SevenDizzying DeansSportlots has been Barry, Barry good to me

Just two posts left after this one! Tonight's will be another group post instead of a single player like the last one, though we're sticking with Michigan Baseball as the theme. I believe I counted 17 different players in the scans below, enough that I originally considered splitting them up, but I'm feeling motivated to finish these up. Therefore, it's more Michigan mania!

We'll start with this group since I found a lone new card for all nine players. Up top are three of the older Wolverines you'll see today: 1976 SSPCs of P Jim Burton and OF Tom Grieve, plus a '78 TCMA of 1B/OF (and UM football player as well) John Herrnstein. Burton's '78 SSPC card will sew up his four-card run whenever I can find it. Herrnstein's collection will be tougher to complete because, as a reminder, he shares '60s rookie star cards with Willie Stargell and Dick Allen.

The next four are some of the latest Michigan alumni to make their pro debuts. Blomgren, Criswell, and Franklin (2020 Bowman Draft) were all selected in the first five rounds of the '20 draft, while Brewer (2020 Topps Heritage Minors) was a Houston 3rd rounder the year before. They're all pretty good prospects, and these items represent my first for each player except Criswell (my 4th).

A couple "S" players close out the scan. First is a 2011 Triple Threads Sepia parallel (#d /625) of HOFer George Sisler, giving me 99 different items of "Gorgeous" George. The other continues the run of oddballs, especially of the food issue variety (foodballs?) in this series: an '81 Topps Coca-Cola St. Louis Cardinals issue of P Lary Sorensen. Aside from the obvious Coke logo up front and different numbering on the back, these are very similar to the base cards, but still fun pickups for your everyday player or oddball collector.

Jim Abbott got the biggest boost in numbers to his collection of the players you'll see today, and this group of nine isn't even all of them. The scan is bookended by food issues from Topps/Bazooka's 1990 partnership plus 1993 Kraft, a pop-up I won't be popping up myself. Also from 1990, starring a poorly chosen photo emblematic of the junk wax era, is Donruss' Learning Series, a 55-card set geared towards elementary- and middle-schoolers.

Then things get Canuckified with 1990 Fleer Canadian and O-Pee-Chee, a couple issues from our friendly neighbors to the north. That Fleer photo was another bad choice, to be sure. A pair of Classic cards produced in 1991 and '92 look much better to me since action shots almost always trump portraits in my opinion, plus it's always really cool to see portions of Jim's one-armed delivery. Last up here is a pair of '93 Upper Deck Gold Hologram cards, which are annoying to have to track down as a player-collector, but then I suppose they do give me a reason to collect a second version of a card where Abbott's wearing a Michigan shirt! You'll see one more of these below since he was all over that '93 set.
One last Abbott (for now) gives way to a few slightly more recent guys. I found a new pair of cards of Portage, Michigan native and 2019 Arizona draftee Tommy Henry: his Bowman Draft and Draft Chrome Refractor issues. It's always nice when I can track down stuff with backs that mention Michigan in one form or another, such as these that include his college stats.

Drew Henson is a player whose cards I get to chase in two sports, and here I have four of the five from this purchase. The first couple are from 1999 team sets for New York's Tampa affiliate, with the second apparently hailing from an "update" set that's almost identical. The '02 Hot Prospects insert he shares with another guy that had some hype behind him, Xavier Nady, is pretty cool thanks to a pair of rounded corners. And to those I added a four-player 2003 Bazooka sticker whose players happen to appear in the order of best MLB career to worst!

You'll see more of both of the other guys in this scan in a minute, but interestingly enough they're both still involved with the game despite their ages. Old Rich Hill turned 41 a few months ago but is still pitching pretty well, though of course those efforts are now for the Rays instead of the Twins, with whom he appears on his 2020 Topps Heritage base. And former Cardinals C and manager Mike Matheny made the relatively short trip to Kansas City to helm the Royals after being let go by St. Louis, the team pictured on his 2004 Topps 1st Edition parallel above.
The other Matheny cards I found were both from 2005. The first is also a 1st Edition version of his Topps flagship base, and it offers and even better action photo than the previous year's. I wonder if an out resulted from that throw? The other is the Silver parallel from Total, which wasn't as good as the 2002-03 versions in my opinion, so I'm not really disappointed the brand disappeared until the bastardized cash grab online version resurrected the name in 2019.

The rest of this scan stars William Harold Morris, and almost everything I scored of Hal this time was of the oddball variety, but that worked for me as a fun way to beef up his PC a bit. Here you see a trio of Classic cards from 1989 and '91, a 1991 Baseball Cards Magazine issue done up in the style of '66 Topps, and Morris' three appearances in a Rembrandt/Ultra-Pro promo set put out in '92. The latter was a 20-card set featuring casual shots of some baseball stars (such as Bobby Bonilla and Jose Canseco), mainly focusing on their favorite pastimes, such as tennis for the guy above. The backs included Ultra Pro holograms and a message of the "limited" nature of the cards; the ones you see here received 125,000, 250,000, and 100,000 copies, respectively.
Two more Morris cards get me just a pair shy of 300 for his collection. The first is from the US Playing Card Company's 1992 Baseball Aces deck, and it's only natural that someone playing for the Reds should be assigned a suit of that color. The other is the only "mainstream" card in his bunch, his '95 Collector's Choice Silver Signature parallel, making him the fourth Wolverine I've found from that set (Steve Ontiveros, Steve Howe, and Scott Kamieniecki are the others).

Player #2 in this scan is Hal's former teammate Chris Sabo, and as with Morris I came away with '89 and '91 Classic issues of "Spuds". You can add him to the food issue club as well thanks to a '92 Jimmy Dean oddball from an 18-card set that also included Jim Abbott among its stars. Lastly, also from 1992 is a goofy design (and funny photo of Sabo utilizing a hitting training aid) from Topps Kids. If you care for whatever reason, the latter is the variation that has two asterisks in the trademark line instead of one.

It seems like a good idea to mention that this post will be published on Juneteenth as we look at the last player in the group of vertical cards. Moses Fleetwood "Fleet" Walker was a C for Toledo of the old American Association, considered a "major league", back in 1884, making him the first black player (or just "the first black in the majors" according to the cringe-y back of the 1986 Fritsch Negro League Baseball Stars card you see on the left) to break the color barrier. That makes Jackie Robinson's bravery in 1947 no less important, though, as he fought through the same kind of ignorance and hate that Walker did. While you won't find him on too many cards, unfortunately, another of his items can be found relatively easily: a base card from Upper Deck's 1994 product Baseball: the American Epic, which describes Fleet's history a bit more intelligently.
To finish things up today, here's a six-pack for your weekend. First up is the final Jim Abbott Gold Hologram from 1992 Upper Deck, a set that included lots of those artsy cards. My Tommy Henry collection grows by one more thanks to a cool 2020 Topps Pro Debut base that makes good use of the card's orientation. A multiplayer card including fellow Yankees prospects from the time Juan Rivera and Jackson Melian is Drew Henson's other appearance from the Minors team sets mentioned above. I got two cards closer to Rich Hill's 2020 Topps rainbow with his base card and Gold Star (factory set) parallel, not to mention two more cards from his year with the Twins. And lastly, Sabo joins Morris in needing just two more cards for a milestone (he's at 198) thanks to one last food issue: a 1992 French's card he shares with HOFer Wade Boggs. I've never been a mustard guy but that 19-card set full of All-Stars is fun and I may have to try to track down more of those.

Considering these additions combined with those from some of the earlier posts in this series, I got a lot of good work done on the checklists of some of the many former Wolverines I collect, and added some fun pieces.

Still to come in the final two posts are one more single-player feature plus a last one with a team theme that I think will please many of you!

Sunday, June 13, 2021

2021 Sportlots purchases part 7: Sportlots has been Barry, Barry good to me

Previously: Quick summary and set wantsBig and small we have them all!Better off TedA Tettle-ton of Froot LoopsLucky Tiger Seven; Dizzying Deans

Time to get back to the Sportlots piles! I'm actually almost done as I'm planning on something like three more posts after this one: two groups and one single player. This evening's post will be of the latter type, focusing on the #3 player in my collections, Barry Larkin.

Because I generally stuck to the minimum $0.18 price point and due to the fact that I already had a lot of Larkins (more on the total at the end of this post), nothing you'll see today is that big of a deal. That said, there's lots of 90s stuff, which is often my favorite, and I like to track down pretty much anything I need of the former Michigan/Reds HOF SS.

So here's a look at some Barry nice cards:

When you already have lots of a guy's lower-end mainstream base stuff, what better direction to go in than oddballs? I've always been a Coke guy but I like the 1992 Diet Pepsi card that kicks off this post. Similarly, I don't think I've ever had Church's Chicken, but the collaboration they did with Panini back in 1994 resulted in a pretty cool item.

I was able to fill some base card holes in his PC, though, such as '93 Ultra (how did I not have that?), '98 Pacific and Upper Deck Special F/X, and 2000 Topps Stars. The Special F/X card looks great but just doesn't scan well due to being especially foil-y. The effect looks very nice on what was already a solid base design in my opinion. Also, the back of the Stars card rates Barry on a scale of 1-5 stars in hitting (4), power (3), speed (4), defense (5), and arm (3). I've got no complaints with any of those, but then again this was back when Topps apparently employed people that cared about making great cards.

As for inserts in this scan, well, they're right down the middle, like a meatball clobbered by Barry for one of his 198 career dingers. I consider 1996 Collector's Choice an improvement over the previous two years of the product, and from that one I came up with one of his Silver Signature parallels plus one of his two You Make the Play card game insert appearances (the other is a stolen base card, apt since he swiped a career-high 51 in '95 and then became the first SS to join the 30-30 club the following year). Then we have a Swing For the Fences insert from 1997 Pinnacle X-Press. His 33 jacks in 1996 were tops for his career, justifying his presence here, though for most of his MLB tenure he was more like a 10-15 homer guy.
This next group spans 2000-2018, which is cool because over the whole post I found cards that were made between 1992 and 2020. First up is another instance of Ultra's die-cut Gold Medallion parallel from 2000, one of two years they did that for their baseball product. 2002's cards include a slick looking Topps Chrome design plus UD's Ballpark Idols and Victory, with the latter definitely having a bit more staying power. Before a jump of more than a decade, take a look at cards from 2004's Leaf and Topps Total. The former is from the Passing Through Time subset, which includes the same front photo as his earlier card in the base set, but a back that's a reprint of his '93 Leaf base--kind of a nice feature.

The bottom row has three cards that were made much more recently by Panini. First is a USA Baseball Stars & Stripes Longevity insert--as opposed to the Longevity base cards also available in the product. WHY, PANINI, WHY?!--produced in 2017. Barry, of course, played for Team USA at the '84 Olympics with baseball as a demonstration sport, and he helped his team to the equivalent of a silver medal after the team lost to Japan in the final. I now own six cards of him suiting up for his country. The others here are from 2018 Donruss and its chromed-out Optic version, both of which come with a nice photo of him following through on a swing.
This last scan includes the horizontal cards before returning to the final part of verticals. I just felt like it would look cleaner that way, so that's the order I'll talk about them here.

The '95 Flair card that leads off this scan is a good example of what that higher-end product went for, and I'm glad all these years later that they're so cheap to acquire considering their quality. Joining it from the same year is Score's Gold Rush parallel, which I think looked better the following year but is still quite nice in the form you see above.

And now, how about a trio of die-cuts? Upper Deck's SPx came on the scene with a bang in 1996 thanks to its super premium hologram/die-cut combo, and in my opinion, it got even better with its sophomore effort, giving it pleasing curves on one side and an "X" cut on the other. That gem is joined by two years of Pacific's Crown Royale: 1999 and 2000. I prefer the team coloring and the interesting font on the newer card more myself but both are done in the set's cool crown motif very effectively, and I'm glad Barry was still considered baseball royalty and made the cut (no pun intended) those years.

The final horizontal card here is a 2018 A&G insert called Fantasy Goldmine. I do find it odd that Topps chose to highlight WAR, a stat that I've never seen used in fantasy baseball, plus I'm not sure where they got their number--Barry's the owner of 70.5 bWAR and 67 fWAR. Either way, he earned that number thanks to both a good bat and glove.

Finally, we have a pair of 2020 Topps-branded base. One of them is once again Allen & Ginter, which looks like a typical example of that product, though I do like the Reds jersey they used for the image. Much better in my eyes is Larkin's 2020 Archives base as it uses the 2002 Topps design. I was a fan of the brand way back then because it didn't suck like it does now, and I recall having fun opening at least one box of each series that year since it was, you know, affordable and fun. I'm sure some of my love for the design is nostalgia-based, but in general it's just easy on the eyes too.

Now that I've covered each card you see scanned here I can announce that I've hit a few new milestone for my Larkin collection: 800 cards! Thanks to Sportlots I now have 807 of Barry's issues, good for third place in my baseball collection as I mentioned earlier:
I sure wouldn't mind getting him over that 1000 card mark like Ripken (and, soon enough, Griffey), so I'll continue working at it via my favorite card acquisition sources.

Those of you who've enjoyed any part of this series can look forward to roughly three more posts, as stated earlier, and I hope those will capture your interest as well!