Monday, February 25, 2019

I should go to the LCS more

I live about 15 minutes away from a small shop called Skybox Cards. It's been there 30 years.

I should go there more, but I always make an excuse not to. That I'm too busy or have something going on. However, on Saturday I found myself with about an hour of free time, so I hopped in the car and made the drive.

The store is like many you've been in, overcrowded shelves, boxes, memorabilia everywhere. While the actual space to maneuver is narrow, the store is actually very charming.

I asked the owner if he had any new Yanks I could thumb through, and he handed me a loose stack. I I stood at the counter and eventually pulled out eight cards, including these. I didn't ask for a price - I figured he'd be fair and I decided to support the local business. I was glad to pick up a few Stantons as well, as I feel like he's going to have a huge year. It happens all the time in NY, where a player has a terrific second year after adjusting in year one.
While there, I saw a father come in with his daughter and inquire about a stack of cards he had. I definitely eavesdropped, trying to see if he pulled out some big-time cards, or what most of us expected...overproduced cards.

It was the latter. I don't think he was disappointed, as I think he came into possession of them through a family member. I believe the best card was a Bo Jackson RC. But I can't imagine how many times the shop owner has had that discussion with people who wander into the store.

I also tried my luck with a jumbo pack of 2019 Topps, as the box looked fresh and I figured I might be able to luck into one of the three hits. As expected, I did not.

All in all, I was charged $20 for the jumbo and the eight cards. Not bad at all.

Saturday, February 23, 2019


Recently, Fuji showed off his favorite relic card. Fuj, I'm going to steal your image:

I really like when Upper Deck used to brand a bat relic piece with a team logo. It added a nice looking element to an otherwise pretty boring piece of wood.
Recently, I picked up this Dave Winfield bat relic. I was emptying my COMC account of credits, and had around $2 left, and search for a "Yankee memorabilia card" to spend the remaining funds on. This one was probably the best of the bunch with was left, so I figured a card like this of a HOFer was worth it.

It may not be a press conference-used table cloth, but still a pretty cool card for a small price, and I do appreciate the extra step to make the relic look a little less bland.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

My favorite relic set

I've never been a set collector. It's just not in my blood.

But I did complete my favorite relic set of all time: 2000 Upper Deck HoloGRFX A Piece of the Series. It was an 11-card set with a game-used base relic from the 1999 World Series, a year in which the Yankees swept the Braves.

I have always loved the look of these cards. They felt tastefully done, and the base relic was large, generously sized, and fairly unique.

Obviously, the memory of the Yankees winning the World Series aided my enjoyment of the set. Im not sure I would have collected it had they lost.

There are autographed versions of these cards as well, and the Tino isn't even a white or gray whale for me. It's an invisible whale. A rainbow unicorn whale. I don't think I'll ever even have a chance at owning it.

However, for now, I'll always feel great about owning and completing this set. Apologies for a bunch of bad scans:

A special thanks to My Cardboard Habit for running this contest about relic cards!

Monday, February 18, 2019

At long last, a Jeter autograph is mine

As a Yankee collector, one of the biggest holes in my collection has been the lack of a Derek Jeter autograph.

I've never been fortunate enough to pull one from a pack. I've never had worthy enough trade bait to make a swap for one. I've never spent enough money on a card to buy one.

The closest I ever came was with a mail order catalogue as a kid. I had the option of buying a Ruben Rivera or Derek Jeter signed hat. I chose Ruben Rivera. At the time it was before either player made his debut, so it wasn't that ridiculous of a choice. But still, I certainly regret that. Then again, I have no idea where the Rivera hat is today, and maybe the Jeter had would have had the same fate.

This past fall, I had the fortune of winning my fantasy football league. My team wasn't particularly good, but I got lucky the last few weeks, and somehow came out on top. First prize in my league is $600, and I won another $75 through weekly high score bonuses. For an entry fee of $100, making $575 profit felt good.

Once I got to the championship, I told myself that if I won, I was going to finally buy a Jeter autograph. I watched nervously through the games on December 23, but when all was said and done, I came away victorious.

I started shopping and kept my eye on a few Jeters. I saw one over the summer I really wanted, but haven't seen it since, and I didn't want to wait around forever for it. I will say that I had a few rules while I was shopping:

1. On-card autograph was a must.
2. Nothing from pre-1996, as his signature looked a little different than it does now.
3. Unless it was a Donruss/Leaf Signature, nothing from the mid to late 90s, as many autographs have faded or have severely chipped sides.
4. Get it now before prices possibly sky rocket ahead of his HOF induction next year.
5. Budget of $275.

Eventually, after a few weeks of shopping, I finally made the purchase:

There were a few reasons I decided to go with this.

1. Obviously, the autograph was on card.
2. It was a newer issue, and less likely to fade or have worn edges. Also eliminates the chances of a counterfeit.
3. I like this it featured what draft pick he was, as five teams famously passed on him.
4. It has a refractor-like shine, something I really like.
5. I got it for well below my budget, and negotiated the seller down quite a bit.

Outside of some autographs of the greats of the '50s and '60s, I really feel like my collection is a lot more whole than it was before. It's by far the most I've ever spent on a card, but I felt like I was playing with house money to begin with, and had plenty left over to put into my savings and pay a few bills.

All in all a big success, and now I officially own a Derek Jeter autograph!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

You serious, Clarke?

Over the past couple of days, I've been picking up a few autographs of 2017 Yankees first rounder Clarke Schmidt.

His autographs are incredibly affordable right now for a recent Yankees first rounder. Once 2018 Bowman Draft came out, 2017 was easy to forget. Couple that with the fact that Schmidt has yet to establish himself as an upper tier prospect, and his prices have really been driven down.
Schmidt isn't a bust or anything. Far from it. The Yankees drafted him right after he had TJ Surgery in college, so right off the bat he missed a year+ when other first rounders were debuting. He did end up throwing 23 innings last year, but that was really all about getting back on the mound.

So it's been 1.5 seasons since he was a first rounder, and that's long enough for a lot of collectors to forget someone. This will be an important development year for him, and if he is able to establish himself as a potential future big leaguer, his prices will go back up.

For now, I feel like I got in at the grand floor, and look forward to him pitching well this year.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Miguel Andu-heart

That's as Valentine's Day punny as I'm going to get. And it really has nothing to do with this card.

Miguel Andujar had an excellent rookie season last year, hitting .297 with 27 HRs, and 92 RBIs. He played the whole year at age 23. Those are certainly respectable numbers for a guy so young.

Most people are choosing to focus on his defensive shortcomings. I think they are a bit overblown. Yes, he needs to improve, but he shouldn't be written off just yet. He's got a rocket arm, and many hacks have turned into above average defenders over the course of their career. I'm in the camp of leave the guy alone, let him work on his craft, and enjoy the benefits of his bat in the lineup.
He had many autographs last year in what was his official rookie card year. I wanted to pick one up to celebrate his season, and ultimately settled on this from Stadium appropriately showing him on defense.

I hope he has a big year and doesn't fall into the dreaded sophomore slump. He is a tremendous talent, and I, for one, am glad he's still a Yankee.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

A fourth PWE from Japan

Earlier this year, I showed three PWEs that made their was to me from Japan during Zippy Zappy's recent trip. I thought that was it, but to my surprise, a fourth showed up a few weeks after the first three.

There was no Kanebo Tino in this one, but it still packed a lot of punch. My favorite card is easy a Hideki Matsui Homerun Member's Card. Admittedly I have no idea what this is, but it's very cool and super unique to Matsui collection. I think that's my first card of him rocking the Giants uniform.
ZZ also sent me a quartet of Michael Pineda cards. While I no longer actively collect Big Mike, I still have a soft spot for him. I hope he makes the Twins rotation this year, but I assume he'll get hurt like usual.
There were a few Bowmans, Topps and a Gossage insert as well. With all my complaints about Topps inserts these days, I gotta say I wish I appreciated the "Blockbusters" set a few years ago. It was a cool concept, and a bit more outside the box than "Baseball Superstars" or "Golden Moments."
Thanks for the fun PWEs, ZZ!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Lost Collector Turns 8!

On Thursday, February 10th, 2011, I made my first blog post. It was not good.

I guess not much has changed in 8 years!

Regardless, I'm happy to say I'm still at it 8 years and over 2,100 posts later. The vast majority of my posts are simply show & tells, but that's the real reason my blog exists. It's to keep me engaged. I don't want to just acquire cards and put them away and have that be the end of the experience. Even if a quick blog post is the buffer between that, it makes the acquisition that much more meaningful.

I can honestly say that I might not still be collecting if it wasn't for the blog. In that sense, it's really what has continued to fuel my enjoyment of the hobby since I got back into collecting.

I feel like my blog is really focused on a couple of topics: blogger packages, TTMs, Tino Martinez, and Ty Hensley. Those are the content drivers, as I'm rarely original enough to pull a post out of thin air otherwise.

With that, it felt appropriate to show off a couple of new Tino Martinez and Ty Hensley additions, as those guys are what keep me ticking (and spending).

I saw this Tino card on eBay and was one I knew I hadn't seen before. I have the single relic of Tino, but was shocked to see Todd Helton on there with a jersey swatch. Numbered to just 100, I knew I might not see it again. It was listed for $8, I offered $4, and it was accepted.
That is Tino #866.

On to Ty Hensley #111 and 112. I usually avoid the COMC auctions on eBay. They annoy me. I'm not sure why. However, this was actually a very pleasant experience, as combined shipping really came to the rescue.
This rare 2012 Bowman Draft Chome Red Refractor was listed for just $2.50. It's numbered 3/5, and I don't think I had ever seen it in the wild before this.
Alongside it were a Purple Ice from the same set (8/10) for another $2.50, and Red Ice for just  $1.35 (9/25). I already had the Red Ice, but for that price with combined shipping, I couldn't leave it there. So I snagged all three for around $10 shipped. That is a big win and has me seriously thinking about the 2012 Bowman Draft rainbow, especially because I have 2 printing plates and because the Super is for sale ($89...too much).

There it is. Another show and tell, and another year down. Thanks for reading all these years, thanks for the trades all these years, and thanks for letting me do my thing in this tint little corner of the card-collecting world.

Friday, February 8, 2019

It pays to have bad eye sight

I wear contact lenses on a daily basis.

My eye sight is pretty bad. I obviously have glasses, but don't wear other than at night and in the morning. Maybe ones every few weeks I'll wear them to work to give my eyes a break.

I have considered laser-correction surgery, but I think I'm too much of a wimp. Something about pointing laser beams at my eyeballs scares me. Still, it would be nice to wake up in the morning and actually be able to see.

Back in November, I had my yearly eye exam and ordered my next batch of contact lenses for the year. Luckily, insurance covered almost all of it. As I was paying what I owed, the sales associate told me that my contacts came with a $60 online rebate. All I had to do was submit my receipt on a website, as well as photos of the sides of the box once they arrived.

I put it off for a few weeks, but finally submitted for my rebate. I assumed it would probably be a painful process, but it wasn't bad. In a couple weeks time, I got an email saying that I could opt to receive my rebate with a $60 Visa that they'd mail, or I could get a $60 Visa e-card. I opted for the e-card, and it showed up instantly.

This was about two weeks ago, and my first thought was, "Hey, this is basically free money. Maybe I'll splurge and buy a hobby box of 2019 Topps Series One." This was something I wouldn't really buy on my own, so maybe treat myself with this "free" money.

Then I came to my senses. Maybe I'd pull something amazing from a box. But I already had a Yanees team set on the way. And couple that with the fact that the box's promised hit could be a "manurelic", similar to what comes in a blaster, and the more I thought about it, the more I felt I should use my $60 on something else. Something I wanted.

And this is what I wanted:
That is a 1998 Donruss Crusade Purple Tino Martinez. I have four of the green parallels, but this is my first glorious purple.

And while it's quite a bit more than I'd usually spend on a single card, I didn't spend all of the $60 either. So I'm left with enough for another decent card.

I'm happy to have this card, and at the end of the day, think this was a bit wiser of a purchase.

Something I want versus something I think I want then would likely be disappointed?

I made the right call.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Minor Series One thoughts

On Saturday, I finally found some Series 2019 Topps Series One. I went to a more reliable Target that is a little further away, but I was able to add a few more errands to the trip, so it worked out.

I had been sitting on a gift card since Christmas, so ultimately I decided on two blasters, a hanger, and a loose pack that had probably already been searched.

My first card was Matt Davidson.
I really don't have any new thoughts that haven't already been shared from many.

I like the design a lot. The half border works well. I'm completely indifferent on borders vs no border, but what I like most about it is the excellent bookend it makes from 2015-2019. 16-17-18 all had a pretty similar look and feel, while 2015 was pretty great. This does a nice job of ending the last three years designs and setting the stage for Topps to go a number of ways in 2020.

The Yankees checklist is decent. I like the Didi Gregorius card a lot, although unfortunately didn't pull it. I pulled several Chad Green, Chance Adams, Gleyber Torres, and Miguel Andujars because of poor collation.
One nitpicky thing is that I wish the Rookie Cup logo was centered above the team logo, versus slightly to the right. Minor thing, yes, but would have preferred the symmetry.
I think the parallels - at least the foil and the gold - look excellent. The gold is easy to spot, and the foil looks nice with the white portion of the border. Thumbs up from me on both of those.
I've also just come to the conclusion that inserts in 2019 - or any year in the past 10 years or so - I just am not interested in. As a young collector in the '90s, I'm someone who likes a good insert set. Companies were one-upping each other, and inserts felt special and different. I guess that's where companies like Fleer/Flair and Pacific really always came through.

In 2019, they are so bland, both in topic and design. I'm sure the people at Topps are very nice who come up with these, but I don't understand the need to be so generic (e.g. Stars of the Game). I guess it's so they can shove 100 players in each set, including legends, because we all need more modern cards of Ruth and Mantle.
I'd say my favorites - at least in terms of aesthetics - are are Cactus and Grapefruit Legends inserts. They would have really popped with some shiny foil or texture, but the backgrounds are at least a bit more interesting. My mind went to 1996 Ultra Power Plus is anyone remembers those.
I pulled an Evolution of the Game Casey Stengel, which happens to fall 1:105. It doesn't look like a one-in-a-hundred pack card.
My two blasters yielded me TWO Nationls - Max and Trea Turner. Those are already claimed. I snagged a few SPs as well. I feel like the days of accidentally flipping past a photo variation are gone since they are so common now.
That's it! It's always fun to open new packs, and I do really like the base cards a lot. The photography is very good too. I doubt I'll open any more, but I'm glad I found some and that we can officially kick off the 2019 card - and baseball - season.

Monday, February 4, 2019

TTM Success: Aaron Boone

This was one I had forgotten about!

Right after the Yankees named Aaron Boone their manager in December of 2017, I shot him a TTM request at Yankee Stadium. I figured he might be spending a few days in his new office, working through the roster and getting settled in.

It didn't quite work out that way, as he never got back to me...until now, over a year later! A couple days ago, this rolled in:
The card looks great signed, and I've always admired Boone's signature.

Thanks, Skip!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Thrifting again

I finally did find some Series 1 yesterday afternoon, so I'll share my thoughts shortly on those. It's really nothing earth-shattering. I think the design is cool, I think the inserts are pretty boring and the sets too large. But I'll show off a few of the cards in an upcoming post.

Prior to venturing out to Target, I did my usual Saturday morning walk to the church thrift shop. It's a two-three minute walk, so I'm not exaggerating when I say how close it is.

As custom, I made a bee-line to the area where the cards would be, and immediately saw a binder sitting there mark $6.
Their pricing seems to be a little inconsistent, but I suppose it just depends on the volunteer working there. Last time I found binders there for $1 a piece, although this one was a little larger. Still, $6 for this wasn't a horrible deal, as the binder and pagers were in good shape, which isn't always the case.

I quickly flipped through it to make sure it wasn't utter junk. Some junk = expected. Full of junk = leave it there for someone else. I saw plenty in there to make me grab it.

The binder was about 60% baseball and 40% basketball. Nothing newer than maybe 1993 or 1994. The real reason I wanted it was because there were quite a few Michael Jordan cards in there, mostly from the Playoffs, but a nice base Upper Deck as well. You can't go wrong with a handful of Jordans.
There were also a lot of Phoenix Suns cards, which makes sense because the Bulls and Suns matched up in the Finals in 1993, right around when most of these cards were from.

The baseball cards had quite a few HOFers, mostly from early editions of Stadium Club. While I think the 1990 Griffey is awesome, unfortunately it was in pretty bad condition.
Overall, very solid purchase for $6. Good entertainment value, good Jordans, good binder, and good Ultra Pro pages. Can't ask for much more than that. I'm impressed with how frequently this little church thrift store is delivering cards for me.

Friday, February 1, 2019

"Sources" got me

When Sonny Gray was about to be traded by the Yankees to the Reds, most "sources" indicated that the Yankees were getting back an infielder by the name of Shed Long. Cool name, and even cooler that the Yanks were getting a pretty solid prospect who was fairly close to the Majors.

So I, along with many other Yankee fans it seems, rushed out to pick up a few Shed Long autographs, which steadily climbed in price as the trade became closer and closer to be completed.

He probably would have slotted into the Yankees system in the 10-15 range, but it still would be cool to own an autograph of him.
So I bought two from the same seller. $4 each. No big deal.

Then the news of the trade broke. And Shed Long was included. And he did get the Mariners!

Womp womp.

So while "sources" were correct in that Shed Long was getting traded for Sonny Gray, what they didn't know until he trade was official was that Long would be shipped to the Mariners in a three-team deal, with the Yankees getting back 2018 second rounder Josh Stowers.

Oops! Sometimes it doesn't pay to jump the gun.