Friday, May 24, 2019

Top 5 Cards; Harmon Killebrew

Even taking his struggles with batting average into account, Harmon Killebrew remains one of the greatest and most underrated hitters in Baseball history.

Through the first 5 years of his Hall of Fame career, Killebrew had just 254 at-bats for the Washington Senators; he seemed to be a half-decent bench player but not much else.

All of this, however, changed in 1959, when the 11-time All-Star earned the starting job for Washington and never looked back. He was named to the All-Star team for the first time that season, finishing '59 with an AL-high 42 homers and 105 RBI despite a .242 average. 

In an era that featured numerous Hall of Fame hitters playing alongside Killebrew, I believe his lackluster .256 career average leaves something to be desired. 

That stat, nevertheless, shouldn't take away from the fact that Killebrew had to play 1st/3rd base whereas, today, a slugger with a batting average similar to his could be the team's DH so the hitter could concentrate more on his swing.

Killebrew's incredible 573 career home runs put him at #12 on the all-time list, trailing Mark McGwire by a mere 10 dingers. He's also one of the first players I ever collected along with Duke Snider, Catfish Hunter, and Ivan Rodriguez.

Currently, my Harmon Killebrew player collection is only 1 card away from Gold Tier status. At 99 cards, it's incredibly likely that this Monday's Mansfield show will give this PC the boost it needs to reach the 100-card total.

In the meantime, here are my carefully-chosen 5 favorite cards in the Harmon Killebrew player collection.

#5 1973 Topps
It was a toss-up between Killebrew's 1972 and 1973 Topps and which one I'd select for my top 5. However, after much consideration, I decided that the unique '73 Topps card was more deserving of the #5 spot on my countdown.

The angle at which the photo was taken is incredibly unusual, something I rarely see on Baseball cards. It reminds me of Xander Bogaerts' 2016 Topps Archives card, for those of you who know what I'm talking about.

The greatest thing about this card, however, is that it excites me, something that a sizeable number of 1973 Topps cards fail to do. I find myself looking in a million directions when I glance at this card, and that's an excellent trait for practically any Baseball card to have.

#3 1970 Topps
For one reason or another, Topps incorporated a significant number of photographs just like the one above in the 1970 Flagship set; images that show players selecting a bat from the bat rack in their team's dugout. In fact, these photos are so prevalent that they've become synonymous with the set itself.

Although Killebrew's card isn't the best version of these bat rack photographs, that doesn't take away from how classic this vintage card is. Both the image and set design are simple yet complex at the same time if that makes sense. 

The card may not be as unique as the one from '73 Flagship, but it's stellar nevertheless.

#3 2016 Topps Stadium Club
The only card on this list not from the 50s-70s, Killebrew's 2016 Topps Stadium Club card is truly stunning; the caliber of photography, even for Stadium Club, is virtually unmatched by anything that I've ever seen before.

It's just a shame that Killebrew has so many standout vintage cards because I could easily see the '16 Stadium Club card making the top 2 otherwise. The minimalistic set design complements the black and white photo extraordinarily well, and I'm thrilled that Topps chose to feature the 1969 AL MVP as a member of the Washington Senators rather than the traditional choice, the Minnesota Twins.

#2 1959 Topps
This isn't my only vintage card of Killebrew on the Washington Senators, but it's undoubtedly the greatest of the limited bunch. Not only do I love the 1959 Topps set, but the card's condition, aside from the centering, is excellent, especially for a card that's 60 years old.

The superb condition is thanks to the fact that I purchased this card myself at a show a few years back. I ended up paying just $10 for what was and remains the oldest card in my Harmon Killebrew player collection; another simple yet marvelous vintage card, featuring an awesome Washington Senators logo in the bottom lefthand corner.

#1 1962 Topps Killebrew Sends One Into Orbit
Even though I have Killebrew's actual 1962 Topps base card in my collection as well, this highlights card is unlike anything else that I've seen from Topps in the 1960s. Yes, they've created a few different combos, highlights, or record breakers cards, but nothing quite as spectacular as this.

The 3 different pictures show the progression of Killebrew's home run swing. There are a few other players included in this subset, but Killebrew's is easily my favorite.

Plus, as if the 3 images weren't enough, the famous wood borders of the 1962 Topps set add another special element to this beautiful card. 

It's not often that I say this, but I can't seem to find something wrong with this 1962 Topps card, making it a no-brainer for the #1 spot.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Frankenset Page #53

First things first, I apologize for not keeping up with my blog posts as much as I'd like to during the month of May so far, a pattern I'm trying to break out of as soon as possible.

It's difficult to explain, but I've struggled with finding both motivation and material to post over the last few weeks. I'm definitely experiencing writer's block as, more so than anything, it's been challenging to come up with topics to post about in the first place, hence why I've already missed 6 posts so far this month.

The other factor that has led to a decrease in posting is a lack of material and topics to expand upon and write about. I've gone through writer's block a handful of times before, but this extended period has resulted in a smaller number of posts and a decrease in quality, in my opinion.

Thankfully, I'll be attending the Memorial Day Mansfield Baseball card show this Monday, May 27th. I'm hopeful that this upcoming show will help me break free of this slump by giving me fresh, new material to talk about here on the blog.

Seriously, it's hard to beat a trip to the Baseball card show, especially since I'm in dire need of something interesting to post about in order to get me back into the groove of posting virtually every day of the week.

I've already planned out each and every one of my blog posts up until next Monday's show. As you can see, today's is a continuation of the frankenset series with page #53. On this particular page, cards #469-477 are featured. 

#469 1987 Topps Mike Diaz
After burning collectors out on the 1987 Flagship set 2 years ago, I wonder how long it'll take before Topps recreates the '87 set again. One can only assume that this time will come before 2036 Topps Heritage when this set will be featured in the iconic Heritage brand. 

Until then, I expect the classic wood-bordered design to be utilized in Topps Archives once the overproduced insert set of 2017 has been forgotten.

#470 1989 Score Rex Hudler
As mediocre as the 1989 Score design is, the colorful Montreal Expos uniforms certainly enhance the boring cards. For virtually any Baseball card product, for that matter, colorful jerseys, particularly that of the Expos, help me see past an uninteresting set design.

Granted, there are some occasional exceptions, but for the most part, colorful and unique uniforms do an excellent job of improving cards as a whole. I just wish Topps would feature them on their present day cards a bit more frequently. 

#471 1977 Topps Del Unser
I'm absolutely thrilled to have back-to-back Montreal Expos cards for spots #470 and #471 respectively, especially since the latter is from the superb 1977 Topps Flagship set.

I won't lie; I'm not the biggest fan of the red team name combined with the green player name for the '77 Topps Expos cards, but the photograph of outfielder Del Unser more than makes up for it. Everything about this card is so representative of the 70s that it's challenging not to find something about it that you like.

#472 1982 Donruss Luis Salazar
I just realized that, aside from mini sets and inserts, I've never completed a set from any brand besides Topps. This includes Upper Deck, Fleer, and, yes Donruss, all of whom produced some excellent products over the span of a few decades.

While I can't say that Upper Deck released a ton of standout sets, Fleer produced a surplus of gorgeous products throughout the early 2000s. The same could be said for Donruss who, along with Fleer, created some stellar sets in the 1980s as well, including both 1985 Fleer and Donruss.

#473 1993 Topps Gold Dave Henderson
I love 1977 Topps and the Montreal Expos as much as anybody else, but this 1993 Topps Gold card of Dave Henderson is undoubtedly my favorite card from the entire 53rd page. There's just something so special and unique about the gold and green color combination that comes across on this card, a combo that is distinctively Oakland Athletics.

#474 1980 Topps Steve Busby
Admittedly, Steve Busby's 1980 Topps card is an exception to the rule that I mentioned when discussing the 1989 Score Rex Huddler card towards the beginning of this post. The powder blue uniform may be awesome, but the photo quality is so poor that it prevents me from having positive feelings about this card.

#475 1991 Topps Teddy Higuera
Until 1991 Topps was showcased a few years back in 2016 Topps Archives, I wasn't too familiar with the set if I'm being perfectly honest. Since then, I've grown to appreciate this so-called "junk wax" product even more, for I even purchased a hobby box of this for just $5 at the Baseball card show a couple of years ago. 

It's thanks to that purchase, by the way, that I've been able to feature so many 1991 Topps cards across my frankenset and its pages.

#476 1984 Topps Tom Tellmann
No matter how or what the Topps Flagship design looks like, the Topps Chrome set always does a phenomenal job of creating beautiful base cards and refractors based off the Series 1 and 2 design. 

Later this year, 2019 Topps Chrome will be released, featuring 1984 Topps insert cards on chrome cardstock. I can't express how excited I am to see these cards in person, for the 1987 and 1983 cards from the past few years have not disappointed me.

#477 1971 Topps Earl Weaver
Last but not least, a card of one of the greatest managers in Baseball history. Earl Weaver led an extremely talented Baltimore Orioles team to a World Series title in 1970 along with nearly 1,500 career wins. He also was ejected from an unbelievably high number of games with some reports claiming that he was ejected over 90 times.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Top 5 Kansas City Royals Autos/Relics

Similar to the Baltimore Orioles, a team that I wrote this same type of post for last week, my top 5 Kansas City Royals autograph/relic card post primarily features cards of 1 specific player.

This time, that player is another legendary 3rd baseman, both on an offensive and defensive level. I'm, of course, talking about 13-time All-Star George Brett who, like Brooks Robinson of the Baltimore Orioles, has a plethora of relic cards out there, many of which have made their way into my collection.

I've always been a somewhat-avid collector of relic cards due to their availability and low prices, but I can't say that I've realized the extent of this until recently. Collecting relics/autos is, by no means, my #1 priority, but I always seem to be adding new ones to my collection.

Whether I pick up some bargain hits at the show or pull them from packs of cards, my hit collecting ways have allowed me to create posts like this for more teams than just the Red Sox and Cubs. Since starting this series, the A's, Cardinals, and Orioles have all been featured. Now, it's the Kansas City Royals' turn.

I mentioned earlier that a good portion of the cards on this list are of Royals legend George Brett, but not all of the inclusions showcase the 1980 AL MVP. A couple of active players also have cards on this list, although neither one of them are still with Kansas City.

Finally, although the title suggests that both autos and relics are featured in these posts, the Royals list, in fact, consists solely of relic cards. Now, let's get to the countdown.

#5 2001 Topps American Pie Rookie Reprint Relics George Brett
At first, I didn't think much about including this particular relic card in the top 5. The concept behind these relics from 2001 Topps American Pie is superb, but some aspects of the execution leave a little be to be desired.

With that being said, I'm too fond of Brett's Rookie Reprint relic not to feature it on the list and, believe me, there were plenty of other options. I appreciate the fact that the jersey is game-worn, but more so than that, I admire how the style of this card stays true to both the 1975 rookie card and the American Pie brand.

#4 2004 Donruss Elite Career Best Jerseys George Brett
I guess the same could be said for the #4 card on this list as well; a 2004 Donruss Elite jersey relic numbered out of 200 copies. The more I look at it, however, I appreciate the combination between the gold parallel and the blue on the rest of the card, specifically the powder blue jersey swatch.

While I remember buying the American Pie relic at a card show a few years back, I don't recall where or when I added the Donruss Elite jersey swatch card to my collection. Regardless, it's a very unique and daring card, worthy of making the top 5 list for Royals autographs/relics.

#3 2016 Panini Diamond Kings Studio Portraits Materials Silver Lorenzo Cain
Powder blue jersey swatches are an automatic plus for any team's relic card, including the Kansas City Royals. In this case, not only are there 2 light blue jersey swatches, but the card itself stays true to Kansas City by using the color profoundly across the rest of the card.

Panini Diamond Kings, as a whole, can be a hit or miss product, but this dual relic numbered to 99 is definitely a success. Not only does it reflect highly of the set itself, but you can tell that the card was created with a ton of attention to detail.

#2 2004 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites Relics George Brett
The final George Brett relic card on this list is one of the most unique relic cards in my entire collection; a 2004 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites card with a generous jersey swatch in the middle of the card. Specifically, the design is incredibly unique and different from anything we ever really see on a memorabilia card. 

I dig the retro-style Fan Favorites text along with the Baseballs lined up below the relic swatch. I also find the background, which I'm just noticing now, incredibly interesting as the Philadelphia Phillies' dugout is featured directly behind the photo of Brett.

I have this exact same card of Carl Yastremzki, and I thoroughly appreciate both of these Fan-Favorites relic cards. You can bet that, if I ever see another one at the show, I'll have to consider adding it to my collection.

#1 2014 Topps Gypsy Queen Framed Mini Relics Black Parallel Eric Hosmer
While determining #2-5 on this list proved to be slightly difficult, the #1 card was a no brainer; a gorgeous black framed mini relic card of Eric Hosmer, back when the 1st baseman was still a member of the Kansas City Royals. Not only do I love the black mini card and the frame, but the dark blue jersey swatch is another incredible touch.

I even pulled this card myself out of a pack of 2014 Topps Gypsy Queen on my birthday a few years ago. Numbered out of just 10 copies, the card is absolutely gorgeous, and Hosmer's still a relevant enough player that this card could potentially have some value.

But honestly, it's hard to care too much about value when it comes to a card like this. I can thoroughly say that I don't dislike a single element of this card, and I'm ecstatic to have it as the #1 card on my list.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Mega Mojo Luck

Believe me when I say this; I wasn't looking for Baseball cards when I went shopping at Target yesterday, especially not the recently-released and widely popular Bowman Mega Boxes.

I'd already seen numerous Twitter posts in which collectors purchased anywhere from 1 to 20 of these Bowman Mega Boxes upon seeing them at their local Target. That's why I was so shocked to see 6 of them available for sale at Target, for I assumed someone would swoop them all up and cash in on a nice profit.

The retail-exclusive boxes are notorious for their high odds at colored parallels and autographed mojo refractors of the top prospects in all of Baseball. In addition to 4 retail packs of regular 2019 Bowman, each Mega Box features 2 highly sought after mojo refractor packs with 5 cards in each.

Although I was unable to find any Mega Boxes last year, I managed to track one down in 2017, back when they delivered 5 packs of regular Bowman and cost $15 instead of $20. 

I got lucky that time and pulled some nice prospect cards, so I decided to take the risk not only of buying the box but opening the packs. I could've easily sold it for $35 online and made a quick and easy profit.

My primary goal, upon purchasing the box, was to sell any major pulls and make a profit. There's a significant risk associated with prospect card collecting, so it's never really been my cup of tea. 

I kept telling myself that if I landed any valuable cards, it would be worthwhile to sell them and spend the money right back on Baseball cards that I want for my collection. 

Of course, before I get into the highlight of the purchase, the 2 mojo refractor packs, I should talk for a little bit about the Bowman base cards. Unfortunately, I believe that the Mega Box Bowman base packs do not include inserts or numbered cards, so all you get is 8 paper cards and 2 chromes per pack.

In some cases, getting all base cards is beneficial, for it increases your chances of pulling a highly-desired prospect card, like Wander Franco. However, I wasn't as fortunate to land any major names as far as the Bowman base packs are concerned.

Still, I can't complain about landing 4 1st Bowman cards, especially given the previously mentioned unpredictability of collecting prospect cards. You never know; one of these guys could end up a superstar. 

Just like the regular Bowman retail packs, you can expect 2 chrome cards per Mega Box pack of the regular Bowman. As far as 1st Bowman Chrome cards are concerned, I've come up short with the packs that I've opened.

However, I still managed to pull a couple of well-respected chrome prospect cards. Both Brendan Rogers and Brendan McKay are expected to make their big league debuts rather soon. McKay, in particular, is a prospect whom I am very excited to see called up to the majors.

Moving on to the biggest attraction of these Target-exclusive boxes; the mojo refractors. Back in 2017, I landed a Vlad Jr base and a Luis Urias purple refractor, but I didn't get much as far as 1st Bowman cards are concerned.

This time, although Nova and Richardson aren't super well-known, I ended up with a few 1st Bowman mojo refractors which I believe I'll hold onto. Plus, these parallels look incredibly sharp and shiny, so much so that I wonder why Topps doesn't produce more mojo refractors like Panini does.

If I'm being totally honest, I would've preferred to pull another 2 prospect cards instead of the 2 inserts above, solely to have another couple of chances of landing mojo refractor cards/parallels of big-name prospects. 

With that being said, it's hard to complain given how stunning these mojo cards are, rather it's a parallel of a base prospect card or an insert like the Touki Toussaint and Brendan Rogers cards above.

Eloy Jimenez and Bo Bichette are both top 15 prospects in the game according to MLB.com with Jimenez ranked at #3. Thus, even though these 2 players are no longer 1st Bowman prospects, I'm very pleased with these 2 pulls.

Bichette has been a top prospect for years now and is expected to (finally) make his MLB debut some point this season. On the other hand, Eloy Jimenez already signed an extension with the White Sox before the season started and has received some playing time so far in 2019.

As beautiful as the mojo refractors are, I was really hoping to make a profit off this box with some type of autograph, parallel, variation, or another kind of valuable card.

While I didn't luck out with an autograph or numbered card pull, I'm incredibly grateful for these 2 stellar mojo refractor cards that came out of the box. 

Prospects Wander Franco and Joey Bart are arguably the 2 most sought-after 1st Bowman prospects in 2019 Bowman, and if I sell their cards for what they're currently going for on eBay, I could end up making a profit greater than the cost of the box itself.

I've already listed both of these cards for sale on my brand new eBay page, but I think I'm going to hold on to the other 48 cards that I pulled. That way, I can keep some of these sick mojo refractor cards while, at the same time, making a generous profit.