Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Hobby Fever at the Card Show

It looks like the Buhner VJ Lovero card and the Catching Fire insert set were popular from my card show haul last week. I'm glad to learn that I wasn't the only one who was ignorant of such a great set.

Speaking of catching fire, the current card-collecting fever was alive and well and on display at the card show a week ago. Most of the time, I go there and recognize every face, even if I don't know all of the attendees by name. This time was different, though. Almost everybody there was a new face. I know many people were new collectors because there were a few who asked me questions that betrayed their newness. For example, one guy picked up a Lebron James relic and asked, "Are these really patches of fabric in there?" I explained that those cards really do have fabric, used at some point by the player as certified by the backs of the cards, but it doesn't necessarily mean it was something used in a game. The influx of new collectors potentially presents both positive and negative possibilities for the future of the hobby, but I won't go into that here. I'm always happy to answer questions when I have the answer, though.

One thing I wasn't too happy about was the flipper table. Now, I admit to flipping boxes before, but it was like this: I'd find a killer deal on Blowout Cards or Dave & Adam's and buy 3 boxes. One I would open, the other two I'd list on our local classifieds for about a $5 markup. That way, I was able to sell the box for comparable to eBay prices and recoup a little of the money I spent. I feel okay about that, but the days of really great prices on boxes are long gone. The flipper at the table I saw was much worse than this.

These guys had boxes and boxes of retail fat packs, blasters, Pokemon tins, whatever. At first, the pack ripper in me started rifling through in excitement. This was stuff I had been looking for! But then I overheard them talking to other people. I heard them explain that they hit up every Wal-Mart and Target in the county each week and clear everything out. That's where their loads of inventory come from. When I heard that, I walked away. I couldn't support that behavior, even if they did have all the 2020 football I hadn't been able to find. After all, they were the reason I couldn't find it in the first place.

The other symptom of what ails the current hobby environment is the big-hit chasers. This is one that I did take advantage of. I found a table run by one of those new faces. The guy had a ton of new releases, lots of Prizms and autos and all. As I flipped through his boxes, I asked him if he busted all of this himself, or if it all came from joining breaks. It was the latter. I didn't ask him what big hits he scored, but I did help myself to some of the fodder he decided not to keep.

I got some nice pickups for my refractor Frankenset. Mosaic is kind of cool, but it did take me some research to figure out just which parallels I have. I think Patrick Queen is probably my favorite of this group since I think he has a bright future ahead of him.

I also picked up my first cards of a trio of rookies that will go into my PCs, not the Frankenset. I'm not the biggest Jordan Love fan, but those are some pretty neat cards. I think my favorite is the Illusions Love. It's just a base card, but I like it more than the rest. That's not to say that I don't like the others, though. It's a good group of cards here. 

I picked up this dozen of cards for about $2 per card. I probably could have filled out my Frankenset for less, but I liked these cards and when I checked their current prices on COMC, I would have spent more if I had gone that route. I don't know if it was worth it economically for the seller to have bought into all of the breaks, though.

This trio of shiny cards came from another seller. They ended up being essentially a trade. As we talked about things we had, he wanted to buy some things from me, but I found these on his table that I took instead. Joe Ingles will slot into the refractor Frankenset, while Ohtani and Acuna will become part of the ROY collection.

I have one more post of card show goodies. The last post will be my favorite, I think.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Repping TCDB at the Card Show

Last week I had an experience that many of us haven't had in over a year--I attended a card show. I can hear Nick screaming internally right now because it was just last week he told everybody to stay home and hit up the Online Dime Box. But honestly, it didn't make much sense to avoid it. I've been full-time working in a school since August. I work closely with more people every day than I saw at the card show. Our state has a threshold of 15 for shutting down schools--15 people in the school with the virus at the same time means the school has to go online. The numbers are reported and published by the Health Department, so schools can't just fudge them. My entire county has had only two schools shut down this year, none since September. My school, with around 2300 students and over 100 faculty and staff, never had 15 and hasn't had a single case since January. So I decided that the benefits would outweigh the risks. Besides, that doesn't mean that I didn't make a purchase from the Online Dime Store, too. (Future post spoiler: I did.)

Luckily, my TCDB hoodie arrived just in time, just a couple of days before the card show, so of course I repped the site while I was there. I had two people stop me and ask me what TCDB was, and one actually got on his phone and bookmarked it after I explained that tracked my collection on it.

I made purchases from four different sellers and I'm planning on dividing up the spoils into several posts. Today's vendor was an older gentleman that I had never seen at a card show before. He told me that he typically sells at swap meets, but not cards. He hasn't collected since the late 90s, and that shows in the selection of cards he had. But late 90s is pretty good for me, so I didn't mind.

I bought a couple of complete insert sets from him. This is the Catching Fire set from 1994 Action Packed. I'd never seen this set before, but I knew I wanted it right away. Shiny, attractive design and a stellar checklist sold me immediately.

Maybe I had never seen the Catching Fire set before, but I was definitely aware of this Costacos Brothers set from 1993 Skybox. I loved these cards when I was a kid, but only ever saw them in ads in Beckett. I've had a few of them on my wantlist for a while, but I've never owned any until now. Every one of these cards would fit perfectly in my collection without being a set, minus the Barry Foster. But that's a cool card anyway. I was glad to pick up these two sets.

Here are some great cards for my Rookie of the Year collection. I especially love the older cards: the Carew, Bench, and Rookie Cup Dawson.

Tim Salmon is the winner of the cool card contest. There's acetate, die-cut DK, and an insert that specifies his rookie success, tailor-made to fit in a Rookie of the Year collection. The shiny Awards Gallery from Topps Gallery are awesome cards, too.

I also picked up some All-Star Game MVPs. The Hit Parade of Julio Franco shows well in the photo. Yaz has been pretty prominent on the blogs lately as the King of Night Owl's 1980s Countdown. The 1982 Fleer kicked off the countdown as #100. Yaz's 1983 Topps card made the countdown as a batting cage shot, but I picked up his 1983 Donruss, also a BP picture.

I found a few cards that I like for my new All-Star collection and its accompanying Frankenset. The two Metal cards are the Platinum parallel, which I didn't even know existed. The Buhner card is somewhat iconic to me. Jeff Kent comes from another set that was a new discovery: Topps Embossed Golden. I got my first Topps Embossed cards last month, and now I'm finding a gold parallel.

I'll wrap up the cards from this seller with a couple of Cubs. Gracie here is the third Leaf Certified Steel card I've shown here. I discovered that I really love these cards. They're thick, and it appears to me they're real metal. I don't know for sure, so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. I was happy to find three that I can use in my collection.

I dropped $20 at this table, which I thought was an okay price for the two insert sets and the stack of singles, but it wasn't my best deal of the day. There will be more from this show at a later date.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Merlin Olsen: A Local Legend


I never saw Merlin Olsen play. Heck, I've never even seen him in any of his acting roles. He never played for any of the teams I cheer for. But he still means a lot to me. There is a connection there for me, both geographically and culturally.

The first connection is the obvious: Merlin Olsen was the first (and so far, only) Utahn elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In fact, he was the first Utahn in any professional sports Hall of Fame. There are very few of them, still. I know that longtime Cardinals safety Larry Wilson attended the University of Utah was inducted into the Hall of Fame before Olsen, but Wilson was born and raised and graduated from high school in Idaho. Olsen, on the other hand, was born and raised in Logan, Utah, where he also attended college at Utah State. In a state that has had relatively few athletes make it to the highest level of their sports, Merlin Olsen is arguably the face of sports in Utah. That civic pride creates a major connection, but the local connection runs just a little bit deeper than that for me.


My cousin, Jeff, at Logan High in 2007. Photo from 247 Sports.

My mom attended Utah State. Like Merlin Olsen, she is an Aggie through and through. And though I don't root for Utah State, I'm usually happy when they find success. Some of my family still lives in Logan. My youngest cousin, Jeff, played at Logan High, the same school Merlin Olsen attended. Jeff was a high-profile quarterback recruit who attended the Elite 11 camps with the likes of Derek Carr, AJ McCarron, Geno Smith, and Matt Barkley. Unfortunately, his college career never panned out, but he did play some games on Merlin Olsen Field for the same Utah State Aggies. 

And there's something more. It's a feeling of cultural connection, as well. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Olsen and I share core religious beliefs and values. For members of the Church (commonly called "Mormons" though we try to avoid this term), this unites us to a larger family throughout the world. Typically, members of the Church take pride in the accomplishments of those who share our faith. This is the secret behind the large contingency of BYU fans at away games and bowl games. I always hear the announcers on TV comment that BYU fans travel well, but the fact is that there is a group of BYU fans wherever the team goes. Only 31% of BYU students hail from Utah; the rest come from every other state and many other countries. 

Not all members of the Church are BYU fans, and not all BYU fans celebrate the success of athletes from rival schools like Utah State, but what I am trying to point out is that members of the LDS community are spread far and wide and many of them take an interest in the achievement of those who share similar beliefs. Why this is, I'm not sure, but one author attempted to explain the phenomenon in terms of the message that successful peers in the Church send. On one hand, it sends the outward message that Mormons aren't the weird, compound-dwelling recluses that they seem to be portrayed as. On the other hand, it sends the inward message that one can be a faithful Church member and successful in secular pursuits; it needn't be a choice between one or the other. To people who are accustomed to having their beliefs marginalized, misrepresented, and even mocked, both of these messages have value. As does the solidarity between folks who share the same background and principles.

I'm really no different. Of all my card collections, my favorite is my BYU collection. But that BYU binder isn't restricted to BYU players. There are guys like Haloti Ngata, Todd Heap, Bruce Hurst, and Jeff Kent, to name a few, who never played for BYU, but share my religious and cultural background. I don't know if Merlin Olsen was a faithful member of the religion we share. I don't know if he was an active church-goer in his adult life. I do know that he was raised as one, and he shared in interviews that he could always fall back on the values he learned in his youth. And that is the true connection, isn't it? A shared value system. A culture. And Merlin Olsen was, for many years, one of the prominent faces of that culture.

This post was brought to you by Ryan (SumoMenkoMan) at He sent out the Merlin Olsen card shown at the top along with this Jack Youngblood. He wants these cards to travel from blog to blog in a "living Blog Bat-Around." They already have their next destination, but if you want to participate, let Ryan know. I didn't have anything to say about Jack Youngblood, so I'm excited to hear what everybody else has.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Card Room and Card Barrel Open for Business

Some of you might remember that my wife and I bought a new house in July. It's not a new home by any means; in fact, it's a 25-year-old house that had most of the original everything in it when we moved in, all in a state of disrepair. But because of the location, the sentimental value (my father-in-law built that house himself), and the discounted price mixed with the belief we could take on the projects ourselves, we made a move for the house and ended up with it. We spent most of the end of summer into the fall working on various projects that we had planned.
One of the exciting things about this house was that I was able to get a card room. Well, it's more of a "hobby" room, because my cards are sharing it with my wife's sewing. After nearly six months, I finally have it set up how I want it.

This isn't exactly everything; there are some complete set binders without a need for frequent access that are in my closet because they don't fit in here. The empty shelves (and the half of the counter I didn't photograph) are for my wife's sewing materials, as we are sharing this hobby room. But I'm excited to have a card room for the first time in my life.
It took much longer for me to get to the hobby room because I was working on all the renovation projects first. And there's always something that isn't planned, isn't there? For us, it was the master bathroom. When we moved in, there was a gigantic jetted tub in the master bathroom. It wasn't exactly what we wanted, but we didn't really consider changing it out because we didn't feel it was as necessary as other things. During the first week, however, we realized we couldn't keep it. Like so many other things in the house, it didn't work. The cold water valve was broken and the jets wouldn't turn on. It was literally impossible to clean properly, and it desperately needed to be cleaned. When we got estimates on the cost for making it functional, we realized that it didn't make any pecuniary sense to fix it because that alone was about half the cost of a remodel. Why not just bite the bullet, take the time, and remake the bathroom into something that we actually wanted?

Just a couple of weeks ago, I finally finished the bathroom remodel, which I did pretty much on my own. Here is what it looked like then:

Here is what it looks like now:

It's hard to believe that the entire space you see here was taken up by one tub.

Now that the card room is up and running, I made a trip to the Card Barrel. I used my Card Barrel purchase to hit a number of random needs.

Some of the cards I picked up for my new All-Star Frankenset.

In fact, that was what made up about half of the order. The other half was filling in gaps in my Rookie of the Year collection. I won't show the ROY cards because I plan to run a series that will let you see that collection later. While browsing the Card Barrel, I picked out some cards from sets that I've always liked but never really collected. Like 1995 Emotion. This is a pretty nice set, but I don't think I ever bought any baseball Emotion back in the day. I'm not going to build the set, but I'll pick up some former all-stars.

The same goes for Zenith. I put together the 1997 Zenith football set, but I didn't really have any baseball from any year. So I got some for my All-Star collection.

Now that I have myself organized, I'll be looking to be disorganized again. Meaning, it's time for some more acquisitions to fill that desk while I catalog, sort, and put away cards. There's also room on the counter for pulling out cards to send to other people. I've been pretty quiet in TCDB trades for the past few months, but I'm looking to pick up the pace now.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Mail Day Post from Some Bloggers

 I've recently just received some PWEs from fellow bloggers that I need to acknowledge.

First up is a handful of Cubs from 2020 Flagship. This comes from P-Town Tom. Tom recently wrote a post asking his fellow bloggers not to send him anymore because he didn't have the necessary means to keep returning the favor. This is an example of Tom's problem. In December, I sent him a Vogelbach parallel I pulled from my Big League box break. I didn't expect anything in return; I just thought he could use that one card more than I could. Well, he did return, and more than I sent him. I promise not to send him any more Cubs, but Vogelmonsters will be his. But, Tom, I don't expect anything in return. You collect him; I don't. I wouldn't mind if this were the last PWE I ever got from you.

Tom wasn't the only one to send me some 2020 Cubs. I claimed a coupe of free cards from Kerry at Cards on Cards, and he sent those cards and then some. I didn't ask for any of these cards, but they were all new to me.

These were the cards I had claimed from Kerry. Ronde Barber was needed for my All Decade collection and Watkins will go in my refractor Frankenset. But that Davante Adams card in the middle is an absolute beaut. The green Prizm is perfect for a Packer. I didn't get enough 2020 cards to do any kind of ranking, but I'm pretty sure this is my card of the year as far as 2020 releases go. 

I also claimed a card that Jay at Card Hemorrhage was giving away--this shiny Tony Perez. He mentioned that he would like to turn his giveaway into a trade, so we did. I sent him some Giants and he found some cards for my collection.


 It was a nice return to get from him. I found it interesting that all three of these bloggers sent me some 2020 Flagship Cubs, but there wasn't a single repeat in the group. The players that were repeated (Josh Phegley and Kyle Ryan) both had the base and a parallel. Nice how that worked out.

Thank you to all the bloggers out there. This community makes the hobby much richer for me. And a special thanks to Tom, Kerry, and Jay for making this post possible.