Trade Recap: Late Night Delights

Back in October I sent everyone's favorite late-night blogger (that'd be Night Owl for those of you not in the know) a growing stack of Dodgers that I'd meant to put in the mail for some months. With the inserts and parallels I'd dug up, along with some oddballs, I was hoping there was enough there that he'd forgive me for the onslaught of miscellaneous base cards.

It must have been good enough, because he slipped a nice little package my way in return. Oh, who am I kidding? Of course he was going to send something, Greg's one of the best out there in our card-blog world.

I had one of these super-rad 1984 Fun Foods Jose Cruz pins already, but I toted it to Nashville when we visited at Thanksgiving and passed it on to my brother, along with copies of various Houston Chronicle front pages and sports sections from the World Series, and of course a copy of the Sports Illustrated World Series commemorative issue. I know Greg would appreciate that sort of gesture, given his familiarity with newsprint. Oh, and one more thing - a Sunshine Kids pin, straight from Sunshine Kids HQ here in Houston. I worked a Halloween event for them and got a few of the iconic sun pins (that you'll have probably seen on Craig Biggio's hat). My brother was thrilled.

There was cardboard in the package, of course. I think I've got a few copies of this '81 Donruss J.R. Richard, but it's just too good not to feature. That Mike Scott Chef Boyardee card threw me for a loop, though - it's fun to find an oddball set you never knew about. It looks like these were probably a box cutout - I wonder what product they adorned. I'll have to look that up.

It's always nice to fill Ginter holes in my Astros checklist. The McCann is a mini, and probably my favorite Astros card of him so far.

There was some Correa cardboard as well - a blue parallel from this year's Bunt issue, and a Contact Sheet insert from Stadium Club. I'm always grateful for more Carlos cards, but that Contact Sheet insert set needs to die already. It's three years old now, and each version was worse that the last one. What is that terrible font?

Ooooh, a 2016 Bowman Platinum Bregman! Such nice shiny foilboard. 

This, however, was the true highlight of the package. It's one of the 2014 Topps 75th Anniversary buybacks, with a rather lovely looking buyback stamp. But it's also a 1975 Topps Ken Forsch, and if you know anything about Greg, that '75 set means a lot to him, so I know it's extra special. Thanks so much Greg!

Oh, and I want all of your Astros buybacks, folks. Even those dumb Rediscover Topps ones. Just so we're clear on this.

 - Marc


Swappin' Swatches

I'm trying to keep up with the cards that are rolling in these days. Yankees fan Bryce, whose handle at TCDB is aptly yankeesfan234221, shot me a trade proposal a couple weeks ago, a one-for-one card swap featuring a pair of relics. In fact, they were relics from the same insert set. Bryce was seeking a Brett Gardner swatch from the ASG relics in 2015 Topps Update, and offered up a lovely Dallas Keuchel.

I'll consider this trading up for a couple of reasons - for one it's a red swatch instead of a black one. Two, it features our stud lefty, and three: he actually started the game that year.

Bryce doesn't know it, but I snuck in around 20 Yankees junk wax cards that he needed as well. Actually, he probably knows it by now, seeing as he out to have gotten the cards. This was an excellent little trade if I may say so.

Thanks again Bryce!

 - Marc


Trade Recap: TJ Brings The Variety

Another day, another trade post! This one is a current trade - I'll play some more catch up in a bit, but I don't want to let the most recent few trades slip by me. It's is all part of my "being a better blogger" plan, and I know you appreciate it dearly. Just kidding, let's get to the cards!

This is yet another trade that took place over at TCDB, from my new trading partner T.J. He's an Indians fan, and before these cards even showed up in my mailbox he'd already opened another trade proposal with me! Mighty quick on the trigger, I must say.

It was a small swap - 9 cards for me, 13 for him, but it filled in some nice holes in the collection. Missing O-Pee-Chee cards are always welcome. These two guys are were 80s mainstays, though their roles in club history sometimes get forgotten. Puhl spent so much time in right field for us that he's fairly high in the club record books in several of the counting stats.

Here's another pair of corner outfielders, this time from the 90s. I love that 1996 Emotion-XL set. It's the first set I can recall that had paper frames, something Donruss broached with the massive Diamond Kings sets in the early aughts and that Topps has revived with Gypsy Queen. I'd be tempted to build this set. The Derek Bell is an "Away Stats" parallel from 1998 Pinnacle. Yes, they had the standard base set with normal stats, and both Home and Away parallel versions. In fact, I thought I had the base Astros set completed, but when I was filing this puppy away I noticed my Sean Berry was actually an Away Stats version as well. GRRR. Now I need to track down another Berry. I haven't pulled out the Bagwell/Biggio binders to check their cards yet, but that's my next task after this post.

The most frustrating thing about card back variations is that you could be flying through a stack of cards on a dig and think, "Well, I've got all these," and totally miss a card you need. Guess I'll have to double check these when I come across them. The next most frustrating thing about card back variations is deciding how you display them. Do you flip them in your binder to display the back? That can look pretty weird. Or do you simply slip them in as normal, and know that you'll have two or three cards that have the exact same obverse showing? Asking for a friend.

 Here's the front of that Derek Bell card. Ooooh, yeah. This base is miiiiiine.

TJ had a couple of oddballs I needed as well. Starting Lineup cards are hard to come by, so those are a little extra-special and much appreciated. I've now got both the Billy Hatcher and Mike Scott cards from 1989, though my Hatcher could use an upgrade. The Eric Yelding is from the 1990 Score Young Superstars inserts, which completed my Astros needs for that set. These were pretty cool glossy inserts that Score ran their first few years. I can't decide what Yelding is doing here - is this a double play ball coming from first base? Is it a throwdown from the catcher on a stolen base? Is it a weird high hop up the middle? Nothing about his position looks right.

Finally, we'll end with a couple shiny 'Stros from 2004. Billy the Kid was shipped out to Philly before the 2004 season, but that didn't stop him from turning up in an Astros uniform in Topps Chrome. The Berkman is another parallel, a Gold Medallion from 2004 Ultra, complete (or is it incomplete?) with die-cut corner.

Thanks for the cards T.J. and here's to our next trade!

 - Marc


Trade Recap: Friggin' Awesome Sportscards

 Oofta - I'm a better person than this, really. I swear. Here's another trade from way back in January that never got posted. I should just stop apologizing in the intros of these posts, because there's going to be a lot of them. I'm determined to get caught up by the time the new year rolls around.

This little stash of cards came from Jeff, aka FASportscards at TCDB. Hence, the Friggin' Awesome in the headline up there. I helped Jeff out with some set needs, and even managed to dump a dozen football cards his way. Anytime I can trade some non-baseball cards away for Astros is an excellent trade indeed. What's more, there's a really sweet card at the end of this post that was the icing on the cake. Don't peek, just wait. It's a short post, I promise.

If I had just been flipping through a box of cards, I swear up and down that I would have told you I already had this Jeff Bagwell Power Corps insert. Well, I would have been wrong, but thanks to a new trading pal, I no longer have to worry about such matters.

You've gotta love '94 Bowman. It's elegant in its simplicity. If you follow this blog at all, you'll know that I'm a sucker for the masterfully mustachioed and mullet-ed Doug Drabek. Also, I think the blue top/white pants combo from the late '90s Astros is a severely underrated uniform.

Speaking of sweet uniforms, this 2012 Topps Update features one-time staff ace Lucas Harrell (good grief, that was a real thing) sporting what I think is the absolute best uniform in club history, the 60's Shooting Star digs. I mean, just look how great it looks. If it weren't for that ugly logo in the corner, you'd think they might have never left these behind. I think Jeff knocked off most if not all of my base needs from 2012 Update in this trade.

This puppy was a surprise extra that Jeff tossed into the fray. A Billy Wagner rookie from 1994 Upper Deck Minors? Oh, helllll yes. Billy the Kid deserves to be in the Hall, by the way. He outranks several relievers already in there, and while he doesn't have the monster save totals of Rivera and Hoffman (422 is still a ton, by the way - good enough for 6th on the all-time list, two behind John Franco and well above Eckersley, Fingers, and Gossage), his rate stats are INSANE. A career ERA of 2.31, good for an ERA+ of 187. A .998 WHIP. 1196 strikeouts in just 903 IP, good for an outstanding 11.9 SO/9 rate for his CAREER. And a 3.99 strikeout-to-walk ratio. I'm just saying, give the man some fair consideration. The stacked ballot right now doesn't help, but Billy has been trending around 10% of the vote. Maybe we'll see a jump this year.

Here's the piece de resistance of this trade: a lovely, soft cornered 1971 Topps, the infamous Joe Morgan action card wherein we get to see more umpire butt than anything. Getting a sweet piece of vintage in a trade is always nice, but checking the box off on a star card in a 46 year old set is, well, friggin' awesome.

Thanks again for the trade Jeff!

 - Marc

Trade Recap: Just Joshin

It's trade catch-up time, and whoa: we're reaching wayyyy back - all the way into January for this one. That's a shame, because I really should have posted about this little swap months ago. Eh, it's not the only one, and that's why I'm trying to get caught up.

This was a fantastic little swap with Josh, whose handle at TCDB is Joshua825. Josh was one of the early beneficiaries of my attempts to pull off a cardboard dump this year, as this was a 6:1 card swap. I sent Josh ~120 cards, and got 21 back. Let's look at what I scanned before I filed everything away!

Ooooh, a pair of stellar 'Stros outfielders - very nice! Alou was fantastic when he was here in Houston - and that card looks way better in hand than that scan will allow. Kevin Bass was pretty great when he was here, too. It's always nice to add some of the myriad Pacific cards from the '90s that I'm missing.

There were some non-Astros cards in this bunch as well, something I'll occasionally hunt for if I'm compiling a TCDB swap and see the opportunity to send a big pile off to another collector. The Damon rookie from 1995 Upper Deck Minors was just too cool to pass up, and I'm slowly working on that 1998 Stadium Club Never Compromise insert set.

I'm fairly certain these two crossed off my final needs for each of these sets, although I could be mistaken.

Josh couldn't find one of the cards I wanted, so he threw in this chromed out Hunter Pence "Trading Card History" insert from 2008 Topps Chrome when he noticed that I didn't have one in my collection - a very nice move indeed. As for the Rose - I don't normally target cards of the Hit King, but I do love me some food issue oddballs - and a dog food set is one helluva oddball. Just kidding, these came in Ralston Purina cereals - as the back says, Cookie Crisp, Donkey Kong, and others. I'm slowly working on that one as well - the Madlock just showed up in a trade this week, I've got the Nolan and Steve Carlton, and I may even have the Jim Rice and Rod Carew sitting around somewhere. 

Thanks again for the trade, Josh!


TTM Report: November 2017

Another month has come and gone - that means it's time for the TTM Report! Let's see what rolled in during the month of November.

Ken Williams: 2/3, 43 days.

While Williams came up with the White Sox, he's best known for being the general manager while constructing the club that swept my Astros in the 2005 World Series (goddamnit). Williams best/most entertaining move was probably hiring Ozzie Guillen to be manager - who didn't love the world of Oz that ensued? Mr. Williams held onto the Score Young Superstars card I was hoping he would sign - they were glossy inserts put in fat packs/rack packs if I recall right, and I think they've got a sweet design. I'm not complaining about it though, as these two rookie cards look great.

Gary Ward: 3/3, 63 days.

Ward came up with the Twins and was an All-Star outfielder with Minnesota in 1983 and the Rangers in 1985. He played 10 games in 1979 for Minnesota, and 13 in 1980. What's notable about that? Well, in his fourth big-league game in 1980, Ward hit for the cycle. That's right, in just his 14th game of his career, he achieved one of baseball's celebrated (if somewhat dubious) feats. His mark of 14 games is still the record for the fewest games played for a player's first cycle.

You might also know about Gary's son - Daryle. The big lefty, who came up with Houston, also hit for the cycle, in 2004, making the Ward's the only father-son duo to accomplish the feat. I do love me some baseball family autographs, so it was nice to add Gary's signature to my collection.

Luis Gonzalez: 4/4, 49 days.

Gonzo! I freakin' loved this guy. He was another one of the young stars of the Astros in the early 90's. Luis actually came up through the Astros system as a first baseman, moving to left field to accommodate some mullet-wearing prospect the club stole from Boston, who himself moved across the diamond because third base was blocked by one Ken Caminiti. God I miss that team.

Of course, Gonzo would go on to heroically hit a squibber that won the '01 World Series for Arizona. I've gotten several sigs from Luis over the years, but he's a fantastic signer and I thought this batch would look rather good with some ink on them. These were sent c/o the Diamondbacks, where Luis is still working as an ambassador/Special Assistant.

Bert Campaneris: 1/2, 43 days.

Woohoo! Another nice vintage score. My first attempt with Bert Campaneris led to a pair of nice signatures, but I'd learned from scouting the TTM returns at Sportscollectors.net (fabulous site and well worth the money if you're going to start doing this thing) to only send a pair of cards. But then I found this great 1970 Topps, and thought about how nice it would look signed - pretty great, right? I'd sent along a 1973 World Series highlight card as well, featuring him running on the basepaths, but he didn't sign that one. I may try one more time. Still, this is another great success from a fabulous shortstop.

Billy O'Dell: 4/2, 51 days.

Billy O'Dell is another one of the great older signers, something I'd noticed from SCN. "Digger" pitched 13 seasons in the majors, making All-Star teams in 1958 and 1959. In 1962, Billy won 19 games for the NL champion Giants, though he fared less well against the Yankees in the World Series. 

Ed Sprague Sr.: 2/1, 35 days.

This is your daddy's Ed Sprague. Well, would have been my dad's Ed Sprague, had he played for the Pirates. The elder Sprague pitched for Oakland, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Milwaukee throughout his 7 year major league career. Knee injuries ended his best season early in 1974, and he hung up his spikes after 1976.

Sprague would go on to buy the Stockton Ports - currently Oakland's Class A Advanced affiliate, though I can't determine if he still owns the team.

Ed's son, Ed Jr., would go on to have the better career of the two, playing 11 seasons, winning a pair of championships with Toronto, and representing Pittsburgh in the 1999 All-Star game. I still need his autograph for my baseball family collection.

Gary Roenicke: 5/5, 54 days.

Let's keep that baseball family train a-rollin! Gary is my first Roenicke signature. His brother Ron and son Josh also spent time in the bigs - with Ron also holding down the Brewers managerial gig from 2011 - early 2015.

Ron's best time was spent with the Orioles, where he played on the 1983 World Series championship team. He's a member of the Orioles Hall of Fame, and is still a scout for the franchise.

Gary put up fine numbers in his first full season in 1979, hitting .261 with 25 homers and driving in 64 runs. His best season was in 1982 when he went .270/.392/.499 for an .891 OPS, with 21 dingers, 25 doubles, and 74 RBI in 137 games.

Roenicke wrapped up his career with stints in New York and Atlanta, and both he and Ron spent time in the short-lived Senior League, where they were teammates for the first time (well, perhaps in high school, I'm not certain) on the San Bernadino Pride. Oh, and today is Gary's birthday! Happy birthday Gary, and thanks for the ink!

Paul Bako: 2/2, 506 days.

This Paul Bako request is the fifth longest return I've had since I rejoined this part of the hobby back in January 2014, clocking in at just under 16 months. You wouldn't think that a short-term backup catcher would mean as much, but this request is particularly great due to the cards involved. The 1999 Nabisco Albertson's set replaced the beloved Mother's Cookies sets, and was only around for one year. It yielded a few of the only Astros cards for a few guys, including Bako and former bullpen coach John Tamargo. That means I can finally add a signed Astros card of Bako to the collection. The other card is from the 1996 Best AA All-Star set, which I picked up at some ballpark when we were on a minor league road trip. It's a great set, complete with a young Todd Helton and one of Vlad Guerrero's first cards, and I have a few of them signed. Adding another is always fun.

But, for the big bad mamma jamma return from November...

you'll have to scroll a little farther...

because I netted a super-duper hella awesome return...


Paul Molitor: 1/1, 7 days.

Yes indeed, I netted a bona-fide Hall of Famer, one of the best hitters to play the game, and current AL Manager of the Year (whatever that's worth), PAUL MOLITOR.

This is the third time I've sent this very card to Paul. Each time it comes back in my plain white SASE, alone, no note, no message.

But this time it came back with ink on it!

I mean, what more needs to be said, right? Definitely one of my best returns of the year.

Alright, I'm off to try and write a few trade posts - lots of catching up left to do for 2017, and more trades are arriving. That's what you get for sending out cards, I suppose!

May your mailbox be full of wonderful cardboard,

 - Marc