Monday, January 14, 2019

A jaw-dropping gift from a player I collect

This past Christmas season, my last day in the office was Friday, December 21. It was a bit of a rainy day in the NYC area, and most of my co-workers had already checked out or started their holiday travel by just not coming into work at all.

I wrapped up work somewhere between 4 and 5pm, and made my way home. My wife texted me that I had three packages waiting for me, and that one was sort of big. I hadn't been expecting any more gifts that I ordered, so I figured I was in a for a few surprises.

I got home, and noticed one package was bigger than the others. The other two were excellent in their own right - my Secret Santa package from Tim over at I Love the Smell of Cardboard in the Morning, and a 'just because' package from the Cutchfather himself over at Collecting Cutch. Obviously, both contained cards, and good ones at that!

But the large, padded mailer was a mystery, even mores when I looked at the return address. The name of the sender?

Ty Hensley.

Now, many of you know my fondness for Ty Hensley, as he's been a mainstay on this blog since the Yankees drafted him in 2012. It was Year 2 of my blog, and I was very interested in the prep pitcher from Oklahoma that the Yankees snagged at 30th overall. Many expected him to go much earlier, and draft recaps raved that the Yankees got a steal at #30.

I started scooping up his cards, first from Bowman Draft, then Leaf, and so on. Slowly, my collection grew through eBay purchases and Zippy Zappings. Ty and I interacted on Twitter a few times, creating even a stronger bond for me. And I even interviewed his Mom, Marci, on my blog in 2014.

Through a series of injuries and other unfortunate events, Ty's career with the Yankees didn't quite go as planned. Still, he remained a high-character, hard-working guy through it all. Then he was taken by the Rays in 2016 Rule 5 minor league draft. He spent a year-plus in their organization, including spring training in 2018. He ended the season playing for the Evansville Otters of the Frontier League, where he was part of a combined no-hitter

So yes, I've been a Ty Hensley fan since day one of his pro ball tenure. Now back to the padded envelope.

I couldn't quite imagine what could actually be in there? Too big for a signed ball. Maybe a hat? Or t-shirt? Nothing could have prepared me for finding a powder blue mesh jersey when I opened the package! I saw the front of it first, and didn't quite recognize the logo, although given the color scheme, I figured it was a Rays spring jersey of some sorts. 
Then I turned it over.

Holy sh*t.

It appears that this was one of the jerseys Ty wore while in camp with the Rays. Not only that, but he wrote and signed a thoughtful message on the jersey:
Thank you for following me. Look forward for the years to come. The comeback is just getting started. Believe in yourself!

I was still in disbelief, and kept taking the jersey out to look at it. How something so extraordinary could happen to a regular old collector like myself was just mind-boggling.

I'm not sure if either received it, but I did send a 'thank you' email to Ty's mom, as well as mailed Ty a thank you card to the address that was on the envelope. Whether or not they saw those, I do want Ty to know how much this gesture meant to me, and that this is something I'll cherish forever.

I am definitely going to frame this jersey, but haven't quite figured out how yet. I might frame the jersey by itself, or perhaps along with a few of my favorite Hensley cards. There's always my 2013 Bowman rainbow to think about, as well.

Regardless, thank you Ty! This is certainly the coolest thing in my collection, and I can't wait to proudly display it.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Bowman's Best always comes out of nowhere

Bowman's Best always catches me off guard.

Just when I think card releases for the year are winding down, Bowman's Best cards start popping up on eBay all over the place. I have no idea how it is even distributed. I'm going to guess via hobby shops and online retailers, as I don't recall ever seeing it Target.

Regardless, it can serve as an "update set" in two different ways. First, it includes many new draft picks found in Bowman Draft, and often their autographs go for much less. It's definitely a cheaper alternative in that regard.

Second, it gives the opportunity to find late season acquisitions in their new uniform. While Andrew McCutchen was only a Yankee for a short time, he was awarded a last-minute SP in Update because he was an August 31 acquisition. However, in Bowman's Best, he's part of the Yankees team set.

While I would never compete with Collecting Cutch, and I made sure he had this card before I posted, I really do want to pick up a run of McCutchen Yankees cards. I got the Update SP, and my second one comes in from Bowman's Best, an Atomic Refractor. It looks great!
In a 2018 filled with ugly, uninspiring cards, Refractors and Atomic Refractors still hold up, despite any other design flaws within the set itself. Although I do like Bowman's Best design overall, it just feels similar to years past or Topps Finest They all get me confused these days. This card only set me back about 2/3rds of my whopping $3.21 in eBay bucks, so it was well worth the cost.

It was fun to have Cutch in pinstripes for a short time, and hopefully the early 2019 releases still depict him as a Yankee.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

1.6% of the population

I own 1.6% of the world's Tino Martinez 1998 Donruss Crusade Green cards.

That's not a very big number, and many of us own larger percentages of print runs. For example, we own 100% of a run on a 1 of 1. Or 20% of a print run if you have a card #'d to 5.

Still, having 4 of 250 of a rare 1990s insert is pretty cool. I'm not really setting out to hoard these, but when I find them on eBay for a good price, I tend to pull the trigger.

Here is the latest:
And here's my third:
The original dupe:
And the original, which I probably paid a ton for in the late '90s despite it having one of the printing flaws (a line through it).
I think my ultimate goal here would be 9 to fill up a binder page, but I'm not going to pressure myself into it. I'd much rather try and snag a purple or <gasp> red version.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Menendez Brothers Karma

Last month, the card universe somehow got swept up by a 1990-91 NBA Hoops Mark Jackson basketball card. It's not Jackson that drove the interest, rather two fellows sitting behind him. The Menendez brothers, known for being convicted of killing their parents, are sitting courtside, just to the right of Jackson's hip. Many believe that based on when this game occurred, that they attended the game after they killed their parents, but before they were arrested.
This is the most common of commons from one of the most over-produced sets in basketball card history. These were so overproduced that my grandma used to buy me boxes of these on my birthday int he late 90s. Of course, I was always interested in the Michael Jordan cards from this set.

I knew I had countless cards of the Jackson at some point, but I'm sure I got rid of many of them when I sold large boxes of basketball commons this past summer. Luckily I was able to dig one up in my small Knicks collection rather quickly. The card was going for around $25 on eBay after it went viral, and I was able to capitalize and sell one for $20 before eBay pulled all of the listings (only to reverse course later).

I didn't feel bad about this. If someone wanted to pay $20 for a card that showed two murderers, be my guest!

I decided to turn a card I didn't care about into one I wanted, so taking the winnings from the Jackson card, plus $5 of my own hard-earned dollars, I bought a lot that included a Gleyber Torres signed rookie card, as well as a base card of his from A&G.

I was excited! Basically for $5 and an NBA common, I had my first Gleyber autograph on the way. The package arrived just before Christmas, and I eagerly opened it and found this:
Two Gleyber! But, um, no autograph. Huh. I scampered back to eBay and checked the listing. I definitely bought the autograph, yet there was no autograph here. Two base cards, one of which I expected, one of which wasn't a card I recognized.

My first thought, admittedly, was that of negativity. That the seller didn't get what he wanted for the autograph, so he duped me into two other cards, would claim error, then re-list the card. Terrible way to think, I know, but I, however unfairly, tend to think the worst of sellers and dealers sometimes.

What the seller did do was include his Twitter handle, so I messaged him and he seemed remorseful and that it was an honest mistake, and that the Gleyber autograph somehow managed to find its way into a different outgoing package. I get it, especially around the holidays. He told me to keep the two Gleybers and that he would refund me.

I appreciated the refund, but I must admit it rubbed me the wrong way overall. Because the seller makes an error, all he has to do is refund me and he's done with the process? In the end, it makes more work for me, because now I have to go searching for the card all over again. Maybe that's expecting too much from someone, but if I were the seller, I would have gone out and reacquired the card and sent it my way.

Unrealistic, I know. I just felt it was unfair for him to so easily get off for his error, other than the refund, I guess.

It took me about 10 days to find the same card at a comparable price, and I'm glad to say that I did replace the card and the proper one was sent from the new seller, so now I do officially this Gleyber Torres autograph:
But I guess karma did have  to make it a little more difficult for me. Thanks, Menendez Brothers.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Santa Cutch

Right before I took off on my holiday excursion, I came home to a mailing from Collecting Cutch himself. It was a holidays "just because" package, and was filled with some solid additions to round out 2018.
First, a hand painted and what I can only assume is a 1 of 1 Santa Cutch from Gypsy Queen. These are rare! I got a good chuckle when I saw this.
Now, on to the less rare cards. The biggest ticket item outside of the artwork is this sweet Michael Pineda Triple Threads. I've cooled with my Big Mike collection since he signed with the Twins, but hard not to like a card like this. On-card autograph plus awesome jersey swatch showing two pinstripes is really cool!
My next favorite card was a Bowman Chrome Gleyber Torres. I still get giddy when Gleyber finds a way into inbound packages. His cards still feel a bit rare.

Here are a couple of others I enjoyed.
Thanks to Collecting Cutch for thinking of me and being a good friend of the blog!