Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Unbeatable Dime Boxes; Card Show Recap #20 Part #2

While my Dad spent the first hour or so of Sunday's Baseball card show searching for a wide range of different oddball vintage cards, I took more of a safe approach with the first vendor that I visited that day. 

Virtually every time I look through dime bins at the Baseball card show, they're from a particular vendor that I've known for years. Whether it's the local Woburn show, the larger one in Mansfield, or the twice a year Shriner's show, this dealer always shows up, this time with 5 total Baseball card dime bins.

I didn't even finish looking through my 2nd dime box before I met the pecuniary limit that I set for myself before I began searching through the bins. While I could've kept going and doubled or even tripled the number of cards that I purchased, I wanted to save my funds for other aspects of this show.

After wandering around for 10 minutes or so in search of this vendor, I landed at his booth and found myself standing directly in front of the 5 previously mentioned dime boxes that he brought to the final day of this 3-day show. 

Without hesitating, I chose one of the 3 bins, started in the first row, and began shuffling through the cards. The selection wasn't incredibly strong at first, but it continuously improved as I progressed through the various rows and bins.

Even though I've most definitely stumbled upon dime bins in the past that featured an exorbitant number of refractors and chrome cards, I don't believe I've ever seen something this impressive ever before. 

Scattered throughout the rows in 1 of the boxes that I looked through must've been 100 or so refractors from Bowman Chrome, Topps Finest, and Topps Chrome. Out of all those cards, a respectable number of them are players that I collect, making this dime box find one to remember.

I wouldn't be surprised to hear that I only had 9 2015 Topps Finest cards in my collection before Sunday's show. It was exciting to acquire so many different cards from a product that I'm unfamiliar with, especially since they can boost a lot of my modern day player collections.

A couple of pitchers whom I still collect; guys whose lives were cut far too short. RIP Yordano Ventura and Jose Fernandez. Man, the black background of that Jose Fernandez card is especially somber.

On a lighter note, the refractor-crazy dime box didn't stop with cards from the 2015 Topps Finest set. In fact, it ended up delivering a surplus of different cards from varying sets and brands. Among these products, there was 2014 Topps Finest, 2012 Bowman Chrome, and 2011 Topps Chrome. 

I've been purchasing dime cards for as long as I can remember, and I don't recall ever seeing a selection of chrome cards quite this strong. There are all sorts of different refractors, brands, sets, and players featured, every one of which is a guy that I collect.

It's truly challenging for me to pick a favorite from this wide range of different refractors. That said, the Evan Longoria x-fractor from 2014 Topps Finest is pretty incredible, the first of those refractors from '14 Finest that I've ever seen.

After the initial refractor craze began to die down, I noticed another trend as I continued to make my way through the dime bins. Now, instead of running into Bowman Chrome, Topps Finest, and Topps Chrome cards everywhere I went, there were oodles of cards from various Bowman products, featuring both veterans and prospects alike.

For starters, there were a bunch of colored parallels from 2012 Bowman Platinum, parallels that I didn't even know existed as a part of this set. Green, gold, and pink were all present, and while none of them are serial numbered, I can't complain given that they cost me only 10 cents apiece.

As I continued to scan through the stacks of cards, I found another group of the same cards in a small stack together. This time, it was a bunch of light blue parallels from 2010 Bowman. They're also serial numbered out of 520 copies, some of the only numbered cards that I picked up from the entire dime box.

As I explained yesterday about Curt Flood, I don't add cards to my Adam Dunn or Tim Lincecum player collections too often, so it's always rewarding to find a card or 2 in order to boost one of those PCs. 

The same goes for quite a few of the players that I collect. Since I don't come across their cards all that often, I'm always very pleased when I can track down some cards to add to those player collections.

Although I've purchased a few value packs of 2019 Bowman so far this year, the last thing I consider myself is a prospect collector. I don't stay up-to-date on how certain top prospects are doing, and I certainly stay away from spending too much money on Bowman products that I'll likely never get my money back from.

With that being said, there's no harm in picking up a few different prospect cards if they're available for the right price. In this case, I grabbed 4 prospect cards of guys who have either already made their MLB debuts (Flaherty and Torres) or top prospects waiting to get called up to the big leagues (Adell and Bichette).

I also picked up a couple of Red Sox prospect cards for my brand new rookie and prospect binder. Moreover, I was quite shocked to find 2019 Bowman cards already in the dime bins. I half-expected some veterans and rookies to be in there, but it was surprising to see the highly-desired chrome prospect cards for only 10 cents each.

Both Michael Chavis and Yoan Moncada have been playing stellar Baseball over the last few weeks, so it makes sense for me to grab these 2 Bowman Chrome cards. 

With Chavis called up, the Red Sox farm system is almost completely depleted, making it even more imperative for the Red Sox to break out of their World Series hangover.

A significant departure from Bowman Chrome prospect cards, cards from a couple different Upper Deck Masterpieces sets was the next as I continued to search through these unbeatable dime boxes. 

One of the many different art sets attempted by card companies throughout the 21st century, Masterpieces encompasses both retired and current players in the checklist. Thankfully, old school uniforms are included as is evident with the Steve Carlton and Willie Stargell cards in the photo above.

Even though all the Baseball card shows near my house take place in the Boston area, that never stops me from finding Red Sox cards in the dime bins. This time, it wasn't just any Red Sox cards, but high-end cards of Boston legends, all of whom played on the 1975 team.

The Fisk and Yaz cards are very sleek looking base cards from 2012 Topps Triple Threads. Even though the Fred Lynn card from '05 Upper Deck Past Time Pennants is nothing to look down upon, my favorite card of the 4 shown above is the Jim Rice bronze parallel from Topps Museum.

Given how fond I am of anything that has to do with the Montreal Expos, I always try to find at least 1 Expos card each and every time I look through dime boxes. This time, I landed, at least, 4 different cards, including 2 guys who I rarely see in Expos uniforms.

Yes, I'm ecstatic to add cards to my Vladimir Guerrero player collection, but Pedro Martinez and Brandon Phillips aren't guys I see too often in Montreal Expos jerseys, especially the latter. 

This makes sense, however, because while Martinez played some of the best seasons of his career with the Expos, Phillips was only there for (I believe) 1 year or so.

Unlike 2019 Bowman, a set that has only been out for around 2 weeks, 2019 Topps was released roughly 3 months ago, so I understand why these insert cards from that product are starting to appear in the dime bins. 

Even so, that doesn't take away from how fantastic these 1984 inserts look. For the 3rd year in a row, Topps took a beloved Flagship set and enhanced it for modern times with a healthy mix of veterans and retired players.

There's no denying that Topps did an incredible job with these cards. Now, let's hope they don't burn us out on yet another 80s set, but something tells me they most definitely will.

Oh, and I also tracked down 2 of the Scratch Off inserts that I need to complete my 2019 Topps Heritage master set. Because I only pulled 1 or 2 of these cards per hobby box of Heritage, I was shocked that these cards ended up in the dime bins.

Yes, they don't feature rookie players or Mike Trout-caliber veterans, but these cards are pretty tough pulls out of 2019 Topps Heritage. With that being said, I'm, in no way, complaining. Finding these cards simply capped off a nearly unbeatable search through the dime boxes.

Monday, April 29, 2019

A Huge Haul of Vintage Pickups; Card Show Recap #20

With all the Baseball card box purchases that I've been making this year, both retail and hobby, I haven't been making all that many trips to the Baseball card show through the first 4 months of 2019.

Excluding an abbreviated visit towards the end of March which was designed for supplies, dime cards, and a box of Gypsy Queen, I haven't attended a card show since the middle of February. I can't really give a reason as to why I've been absent from them for so long, especially the weekly Woburn show which is just 25 minutes away from my house.

I've been attending Baseball card shows since I first started collecting cards, and they've become a vital part of my collecting habits. Without them, I'd struggle, immensely, to collect cards the way I d. I'd most certainly have to change ways of collecting Baseball cards without trips to the card show every now and again.

I try to visit the Woburn and Mansfield shows as much as I can, but there's another card show near me that only runs 2 times a year. Located at the Shriners Auditorium, you may recall that I visited this show towards the end of last April as well. 

Other than The 2018 National in Cleveland, Ohio, this is the largest card show that I've ever attended. With hundreds of vendors present and legends like Juan Marichal signing autographs, this isn't a show that I'd ever want to miss out on. I really couldn't think of any better way to ease back into going to card shows more regularly than going to the Shriner's show for the 2nd straight year. 

Of course, there are a million different directions and options for collectors at this show but setting goals for myself is not something that I typically do. Instead, I'd rather just walk into the room, look around for a bit, and see what happens. 

However, I didn't purchase any of the cards featured in this post. They were all my Dad's choices as he loves to boost our vintage card collection totals, whether we collect the player or not. While I'm more focused on adding to our various player collections, my Dad's main objective, usually, at card shows is to acquire as many well-priced vintage cards as possible.

I'm fairly sure that I don't have either of these 2 cards in my respective Cubs and Red Sox team collections, so I'm still pleased to pick both of them up. I often find myself taking old cards for granted nowadays with all the focus being around autographs and low-numbered parallels. 

Sure, it can be a blast to open new packs of cards and chase after autographs and low-numbered rookie cards, but there's something about the simplicity of vintage cards that cannot be beaten.

Even so, I'll almost always choose cards of players that I collect above all others, especially with the development of my player collection tiers. At 142 total cards, the Reggie Jackson player collection is 21st largest among guys that I collect, and Sunday's show boosted that total by at least 2 cards. 

There's a very good chance that I picked up some Jackson cards in the dime bins yesterday as well, but even if I didn't, I'm more than happy with the 2 cards from 1978 Topps. Seeing the record breaker and World Series highlights cards remind me of how dominant of a player Reggie Jackson was. 

He may hold the all-time record for most career strikeouts, but at the time in which he played, very few players could hit as well as Mr. October.

Although Topps was the only major Baseball card producer for over 2 decades, they made sure to keep their Flagship sets interesting with subsets within the product, including boyhood photos of the stars and big league brothers cards from 1973 and 1977 Topps respectively.

While I've seen the childhood photos cards in 1972 Topps, I don't recall seeing big league brothers in any other Topps Flagship set. We've seen father and son a couple of times, but I'm fairly certain that 1977 Topps was the only set to feature siblings. 

In addition to Ken and George Brett, I recall seeing this same card of Rick and Paul Reuschel. 

Upon seeing the backs of these (I believe) 1962 Post Baseball cards, it makes sense why these were available for only $1-$2 each. 

On the bright side, as if the fronts weren't informative enough, I'll at least be able to know who the player is based on the writing on the back along with a weird shape near the checkmark on Don Zimmer's card.

At last April's Shriner's Show, I remember purchasing my first-ever Post Baseball card of Yogi Berra for $5. Come to think of it, a $5 card from this set of a Hall of Famer is a far better deal than paying $1-2 for a Don Zimmer card with a ton of writing on the back.

I rarely get the opportunity, especially at my regular Baseball card show, to buy cards from the 1962 Post set, so, if nothing else, I appreciate the fact that they were at this show. 

With the exception of The National, I doubt I'll get another chance to buy these oddballs at a Baseball card show for the rest of the year.

Truth be told, it's hard to have a conversation about vintage oddballs without mentioning the 1969 Topps Deckle Edge set. One of the first true insert sets of all-time, these cards were brilliantly recreated as a part of the 2018 Topps Heritage product. However, as is usually the case, nothing can beat the originals.

At the 2018 National, I scooped up a ton of these cards for my player collections for a very reasonable price. That list includes legends like Willie McCovey and Rod Carew, but I was never able to find Bob Gibson, for whatever reason.

Now, almost 9 months after returning home from Cleveland, I have the Bob Gibson Deckle Edge card for my collection.

One of Bob Gibson's teammates from the 1960s, Curt Flood, is one of the most difficult player collections to maintain, for it can be impossible to add new cards to this PC. Every so often, when one of them comes along, I take it as a huge victory.

As you can tell, it's not every day that I add a new card of Curt Flood to that respective player collection. Not only are his vintage cards scarce, but there are virtually zero reproduction cards of his.  
It's likely that, given his lawsuit against MLB, that Topps is forbidden from producing cards of the 3-time All-Star

Given that Flood refused to play a game for the Philadelphia Phillies, I don't quite know what to think of this card. Truthfully, I didn't completely connect the dots until just now. Rather, I'm just pleased to add another card to the Curt Flood player collection.

As far as cards of guys I don't collect are concerned, I'm far more lenient with 3D cards, particularly those from the 1970s Kellogg's set. I currently have 2 binders dedicated solely to my 3D cards, so there's automatically a place set aside for these oddballs which cost my dad roughly $1 each.

I'm familiar with basically every Kellogg's 3D card design, but I had never seen the 1976 set until yesterday's show. The yellow banners and bright colors quickly made this set one of my favorites of all-time, especially given the players featured in this product.

1976 Topps is one of my favorite Topps sets ever produced for a lot of the same reasons, so I'm not surprised with how fond I've become of the '76 Kellogg's product in such a short period of time.

To my knowledge, the 1970 Kellogg's 3D cards are some of, if not the oldest 3D cards ever produced. Going into yesterday's trip to the Shriner's show, I had just one card from that set. Now, that number has grown to 3 and includes a Cubs player as well as the first 3D card in my collection that features a member of the Seattle Pilots.

I don't recall ever seeing a Pilots 3D card before in my life, and it may be quite some time before I see another one, if it even exists. Other than a Jim Bouton card from 2004 Fleer Greats of the Game, this Don Mincher 3D card is the only non-Flagship Pilots card in my collection.

Now that I've completed the 1969 and 1970 Topps base sets for the Seattle Pilots, it's time to move onto any available oddballs. Evidently, Kellogg's is a fantastic place to start.

As I've mentioned before on the blog and to other collectors at Baseball card shows, there comes a point, for me personally, when a card's condition is no longer a huge factor. Yes, you want your cards, especially the valuable ones, to be as close to mint condition as possible, but it doesn't always work out that way.

After all, if this 1968 Topps card of Juan Marichal had been in better condition, I doubt that it would be in my collection right now. Somebody else might've purchased it before my Dad got the chance, or the price for this card without the crease could've been too high.

Yes, a noticeable crease across the entire card isn't exactly ideal, but this card is so classic looking, a near-perfect embodiment of 1960s Baseball cards. 1968 Topps is one of my favorite vintage sets, and Marichal is one of my favorite HOF players to collect as well.

Nothing for nothing, but I'll take this card over a pack of some over-priced modern product any day.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Top 5 Cards; Carlton Fisk

Ever since I started writing top 5 cards posts, I've tried to include as many different Boston Red Sox players as possible. After all, I collect more Red Sox players than guys from any other MLB team, and I'm constantly purchasing new cards to boost those PC totals.

Since I started blogging back in August of 2017, I've attempted a balance between current and retired players for my top 5 cards posts, especially as far as the Boston Red Sox are concerned. I've made lists for Boston legends like Wade Boggs and Jim Rice along with rising stars like Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers.

The 2 notable exceptions are David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, my 2 largest Boston Red Sox player collections. Now that both players have reached silver tier status with over 200 cards in each respective PC, it's as good a time as any to put together a post for these 2 sluggers. 

Perhaps those will come in the near future, whenever I'm ready to write my 2 subsequent top 5 cards posts. With hundreds of options to choose from for each player, those posts will be interesting to compose and create.

In the meantime, I have another Red Sox legend to write a top 5 cards post for, catcher Carlton Fisk. Throughout his career with Boston, Fisk maintained a .284 batting average, hit 162 home runs, and hit one of the biggest home runs in Baseball history during a World Series that made Baseball popular once more.

Fisk's legacy as a member of the Boston Red Sox and a Baseball player, in general, is unquestionable. That's part of the reason how and why I've amassed 121 total cards of the 11-time All-Star. As always, it was a challenge to narrow all those cards down to my 5 favorites; here they are.

#5 2002 Topps Archives
I could've sworn that I had an original 1977 Topps card of Carlton Fisk, a card that would've most definitely beaten out the '02 Archives version for a spot on this list. With that being said, I was unable to find the previously mentioned card when I went to compile the list. Alas, the reproduction version will have to do.

The Archives card just looks like the original version; a compelling picture of a play at the plate between Fisk and #30 on a team that could possibly be the New York Yankees. If the photo isn't enough, the 1977 Topps design is a perfect medium for this untraditional image.

#4 2008 Upper Deck Masterpieces
As far as I know, Fisk has 2 different cards from the 2008 Upper Deck Masterpieces set. The 1st is a fabulous card that shows him as a member of the Chicago White Sox. Unfortunately, it was no match for this beautiful take on Fisk's home run in the 6th game of the 1975 World Series.

Truthfully, cards that commemorate Fisk's World Series home run are a dime a dozen, so it takes a truly special interpretation for there to be a standout. The angle on this card is a pretty unique touch, propelling this card to the #4 spot on my list.

#3 1974 Topps All-Star catchers
The only card from the 20th century featured on this list, Fisk's 1974 Topps All-Star catchers card with Johnny Bench showcases 2 of the greatest players to ever play this position. In addition to showcasing 2 incredibly talented players, the bright colors on this 70s style card is a near-perfect accompaniment. 

#2 2010 Topps National Chicle
Another interesting take on Fisk's legendary home run, his 2010 Topps National Chicle card doesn't really feature the iconic hand signals Fisk made to "wave" the ball fair. This artistic approach, although abstract, still features Boston's iconic home uniforms that they wore across the 1970s.

Even though there are a few details that could be refined on this card, I appreciate Topps' efforts to create a unique version of this moment, just like what Upper Deck did back in 2008. 

#1 2003 Fleer Fall Classic
I don't think Fleer could've chosen more of a unique color than turquoise for the border of the 2003 Fleer Fall Classic base cards. In tangent with a copper frame around the image, the color choice is borderline brilliant, and the beautiful Red Sox home uniforms are back once again.

Although I'm a huge fan of all the other cards on this list, this '03 Fall Classic photo is the only true high-quality image on this list. While all the other pictures work well with their respective cards, the photo on this particular Carlton Fisk card is more than enough to earn the #1 spot on this list.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Frankenset Page #49

It's been almost 2 weeks since I've written one of these frankenset posts which is a little odd. I've fallen into a cycle of posting 2 frankenset pages every 10 days or so, but I've spent the last number of posts focusing on other topics. 

The new Topps Total, 2019 Bowman, and a trip to my LCS have all been topics of discussion between now and the 48th frankenset page which I wrote about on April 13th.

In terms of Baseball news, the Red Sox have gradually improved since my previous frankenset post. They swept the Tampa Bay Rays last weekend, a series that saw top prospect Michael Chavis recalled and get his first hit. They also split their 4-game stretch with the Detroit Tigers. 

Mookie's been swinging a hot bat, Porcello and E-Rod pitched respectable games. Slowly but surely, they seem to be improving. Their upcoming series, against the Rays once again, will test Boston's consistency against their division rival.

However, the most significant piece of news came a couple of days ago when it was announced that the Toronto Blue Jays would finally be recalling Vladimir Guerrero Jr to the big leagues. The #1 prospect in all of Baseball, Vladdy Jr will make his MLB debut tonight at home against the Oakland Athletics.

It's always a big deal when a highly-rated prospect makes his MLB debut, but there's something different about Vladdy Jr. Because he's the son of a Hall of Famer, he has an extraordinary legacy to carry on.

Guerrero Jr's first game is also MLB's free game of the day so anyone can watch the game for free on MLB.com. If nothing else, I'll try to catch a glimpse of his much-awaited first MLB at-bat. As of now, he'll be batting 5th and playing 3rd base during his big league debut.

Now, for something that I haven't done in quite a while; a frankenset page. This is the 49th page of my binder, and it includes cards #433-441.

#433 1997 Topps Vladimir Guerrero
How fitting is this; the day of Vladimir Guerrero Jr's debut, the frankenset page I'm posting about features a card of his father from his days in Montreal. I promise this is a mere coincidence. 

Moreover, '97 was Guerrero's first full MLB season, a year that saw him finish 6th in the NL ROY voting with a .325 average, 11 homers, and 40 RBI in just over 300 at-bats. 

After receiving limited playing time as a rookie, Guerrero would be a perennial starting player for 3 teams for the rest of his Hall of Fame career.

#434 1998 Bowman International Parallel Esteban Yan
I truly don't know why so many of my frankenset pages include a card from 1998 Bowman. While the base cards are uninteresting, the International parallel cards are a little more appealing, featuring a map of where the player is initially from on the back.

Seeing those old Devil Rays uniforms remind me of how, in real life, the Tampa Bay Rays are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. As an homage to the past, they're wearing these late 90s Devil Rays uniforms during some of their 2019 home games, including last weekend against the Red Sox.

#435 1991 Topps Kevin Maas
Any card featuring the iconic New York Yankees' pinstripes has the potential to be great, especially when paired with a classic set design like 1991 Topps. Similar to many of the cards in my frankenset, it's not the player that matters. Rather, it's the design, uniform, and everything else that encompasses the card itself.

I hadn't heard of Kevin Maas before I put together this frankenset, and I don't think I've seen a card of his since. Still, if there's one thing that Baseball cards have proven, time and time again, it's that incredible cards can be made featuring players who aren't the brightest of superstars.

#436 1990 Topps Mel Hall
Here we have back-to-back New York Yankees cards as well as consecutive cards that feature the same uniform, the memorable pinstripes. Much like the 1991 Topps card of Kevin Maas, Mel Hall's 1990 Topps card makes proper use of the iconic uniform by pairing it with a blue border and a yellow team name and box.

#437 1990 Upper Deck Charlie Hayes
I vividly remember pulling a Topps Archives Fan Favorites autograph of Charlie Hayes back in 2016 out of a hobby pack of Archives from my LCS. The card is in the 1979 Topps design and features the red-striped Phillies jersey that Mike Schmidt helped make famous, especially when Philadelphia won the Fall Classic in 1990.

Hayes played for 7 teams over the course of his 14-year MLB career, including the Phillies, Yankees, and Giants, though he was arguably most successful during his 2 years with the Colorado Rockies. He even won a ring with the Yankees in '96.

#438 1983 Topps Dave LaPoint
This is probably my favorite card of the entire page, and this wasn't a hard decision to come to. Nothing for nothing, but it's challenging to pick a favorite card when the oldest one featured is from 1983. 

Thank goodness for the powder blue uniform and the stellar set design that is 1983 Topps. Otherwise, I'm not sure which one of these cards I'd pick as my #1 choice.

#439 2005 Donruss Team Heroes Carlos Delgado
Though I've never opened a pack or purchased more than a few dime cards from this product, I've always admired the Donruss Team Heroes set, especially the 2004 edition. That year, retired players were also included, so I was able to boost some of my player collections.

Whether modern or retired players are featured, this design always looks pretty sharp, and the chosen images compliment the simple style of the cards. I especially like Carlos Delgado's card, including the action shot and the black Florida Marlins jersey.

#440 2015 Topps Denard Span
I've always recognized Denard Span's 2015 Topps card as one of the greatest cards from the entire 700-card set. For any product, that's quite a bold statement, but it means, even more, when you take into account how many colorful and intriguing cards there are in 2015 Topps.

The bright red Nationals uniform is a perfect pairing to go alongside the red border at the bottom of the card. I'm also a huge fan of the action image that was chosen; the dirt on the ground in the photo appears to be "bleeding" onto the borders of the card.

I doubt that this detail was intentional, but, nevertheless, it's a very nice touch.

#441 1990 Fleer Alvaro Espinoza
Admittedly, I think I chose a few too many New York Yankees cards for my 49th frankenset page, especially considering that I'm a huge Red Sox fan. First Kevin Maas, then Mel Hall, and finally, Alvaro Espinoza's 1990 Fleer card to close out the page.

As far as the junk wax era goes, this is a pretty nice looking card. The red frame pairs well with the Yankees road uniform, maybe more so than it would've with the home pinstripes. 

My one critique, however, is there's a lot of blank space around the red frame that could've been used more effectively, but that's more of a criticism of the set rather than the card.

Within the next few hours, history will be made as Vladimir Guerrero Jr will make his MLB debut. Like I mentioned earlier, I'll try to watch, at the very least, his first at-bat. After all, things like this don't occur every day.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Green Galore

In an effort to shorten the length of both my 2019 Gypsy Queen and Bowman blog posts from the last 2 days, I saved the retail pack exclusive green parallels for a separate post entirely. Now, it's time for me to showcase the final cards that I pulled thanks to the $25 off Target coupon.

Both products that I opened contained a pack of retail-exclusive green parallels, standard green for Gypsy Queen and a darker green "camo" parallel which was found in Bowman. The GQ blaster box and Bowman value packs featured 5 parallels which the GQ value packs contained only 3.

After I finished opening all the retail packs, I wound up with 36 total green parallels, 20 from Bowman and 16 from Gypsy Queen. While non-numbered parallels aren't necessarily valuable, each product had its own unique parallel which I've grown to like.

The lighter green GQ parallels work perfectly with the retro-style product. Given how uncommon parallels are in present-day Gypsy Queen, it's pretty cool to come across so many of these beautiful cards.

On the other hand, the Bowman camo parallels include only prospects, maximizing the chance of landing a big-name player. While the GQ parallels are reminiscent of a vintage card, the Bowman parallels are far more modern looking.

The fact that I find both parallels appealing, in different ways, highlights how diverse my appreciation for Baseball cards is. While being all over the place has hurt me in the past, I enjoy having a wide range of cards that I like, for it allows me to discover all sorts of new players and products that I'd otherwise be unfamiliar with.

Anyway, let's get back to the green parallels, starting with the dark green camos from 2019 Bowman.

Given Topps' notoriously terrible coalition, I feel fortunate that I didn't end up with a single camo parallel double out of the 20 parallel cards that I pulled. Moreover, I'm fairly pleased that 1/5, or 4, of my camo parallels, are 1st Bowman cards of well-respected prospects, including Julio Rodriguez of the Mariners.

While I'm on the topic of prospects, I'd be remiss if I failed to mention that Vladimir Guerrero Jr will be making his much-anticipated MLB debut tomorrow at home against the Oakland Athletics. His MLB debut has been hyped up and anticipated for months now, just like that of Bryce Harper and Shohei Ohtani earlier this decade.

Because I pulled roughly the same number of Bowman paper cards as I did camo parallels, I found a couple of player's whose cards I pulled twice, like Royce Lewis and Casey Mize. The 4 players above are prospects that I was familiar with before this product's release. 

Lewis and Mize are former 1st overall picks while I recognize Nick Senzel from Bowman's Best, and I've heard Yordan Alvarez's name mentioned numerous times before this set was released last Wednesday.

There are even a couple of players who have already made it to the major leagues by the time I pulled their parallels from a pack, like Eloy Jimenez and Cole Tucker. 

In fact, the White Sox outfielder has already signed an MLB extension while Cole Tucker, from what I've heard, is playing respectable Baseball as an infielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Out of all the different jersey colors, the camo green looks especially nice with the color black.

I may not have landed a mega 1st Bowman card like that of Wander Franco, but I was quite pleased with how I did with the 20 camo parallels. Next up, the Gypsy Queen green bordered cards that I wound up with.

Featuring a much lighter shade of green that works better with the GQ set design, these green parallels encompass the entire base set of Gypsy Queen, though I'm not certain if short prints are included or not.

The blaster boxes deliver 5 green parallels while value packs promise just 3. As I mentioned earlier, I ended up with 16 of these gorgeous cards, featuring rookies and veterans.

It's always a plus when I pull parallels, or any cards, of players that I collect. I'm especially happy to finally land a card of Jake Arrieta given how few cards I've been able to track down of the 2015 NL Cy Young award winner over the last few seasons.

Bellinger's card, along with Arrieta's, is a true standout, highlighting how creative and special these 2019 Topps Gypsy Queen cards are. After becoming familiar with the product through the hobby box that I opened, I'm glad to refamiliarize myself with the fabulous images included across this product.

Plus, as if the green borders weren't enough, the Oakland Athletics' green parallels take a simple color to a whole nother level. The borders, year, logo, and player's position on these 2 cards are all green, not to mention Laureano and Manaea's jerseys as well as parts of the background.

In his rookie season, Laureano has already established himself as one of the greatest defensive players in the game. Poised to take home a gold glove within the next few seasons, his highlights are worth checking out.

His teammate, Sean Manaea, pitched 1 of the 3 no-hitters of 2018. He brought the 17-2 Boston Red Sox back down to earth by no-hitting them around this time last year. The subsequent no-nos were pitched by James Paxton of the Mariners and a combined effort by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Not to mention, I also landed a green parallel of my favorite card from the entire 2019 Topps Gypsy Queen set. Seriously, this card is absolutely breathtaking, especially as a colored parallel.

Yeah, I'm definitely thankful for Target's fabulous coupon. I've never done anything like this with retail cards before, and I had an absolute blast.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

My Gypsy Queen & Bowman Splurge Part 2

After using yesterday's post to recap the highlights from the blaster boxes and value packs of 2019 Topps Gypsy Queen that I opened, it's time for me to pick up where I left off. After all, I used the Target coupon to splurge on 2 different products; Gypsy Queen as well as 2019 Bowman.

Admittedly, I was disappointed with the 2 hobby packs of Bowman that I opened pretty soon after it was released last week. Because Bowman hobby packs can be fairly expensive, I was hoping for something a little more exciting than what I actually pulled.

Regardless, I'd seen enough box breaks on YouTube to know that it is possible to luck out with 2019 Bowman. There's a surplus of prospect parallels, chrome and paper, and a wide variety of inserts as well. I didn't want to invest the majority of these funds on Bowman, so I decided on 4 value packs.

Each value pack of 2019 Bowman contains 2 standard 12-card packs from the set. Moreover, there's also a 5-card pack of exclusive green parallels in each value pack just like there was for Gypsy Queen. 

However, in an effort to keep these posts a little shorter, I'll be showcasing all the retail-exclusive parallels in a blog post tomorrow. 

As far as the Bowman product is concerned, veterans and rookies have very little importance. Although these cards have paper parallels, the veteran base cards in Bowman don't have a huge purpose. Granted, I can add some to my player collections, but that's about it.

When you're talking about a prospect-based set, especially standard Bowman, the 150-card prospect checklist is far more important than the 100 veterans and rookies, especially since this year's rookie class isn't too strong.

In addition to pulling my fair share of veteran base cards, I ended up with an abundance of rookie cards, 26 of them to be exact. Considering that I pulled 96 total cards from my 8 Bowman base packs, this is pretty shocking and a little concerning,

Like I just mentioned, the 2019 MLB rookie class isn't too strong. It's not like 2018 when pulling 26 rookies would likely entail cards of Ohtani, Torres, and Soto. This year, the best rookie cards that I pulled were of Luis Urias and Jeff McNeil.

I'm not trying to bash those guys or their talent, but it just goes to show how Topps' obsession with rookies can have its drawbacks

While I was on the hunt for set needs and PC additions while opening 2019 Topps Gypsy Queen, 2019 Bowman was an entirely different story. I may not be the most knowledgeable prospect collector, but that didn't steer my primary focus away from prospect cards during this break.

I usually pulled 3-4 Bowman paper cards per pack, allowing me to land some pretty respectable names. Again, with a set like Bowman, you never quite know if the player will end up a superstar or not.

4 years from now, Joey Bart could be an MVP catcher for the San Francisco Giants, or he could be a huge bust who's no longer in the MLB. You just have to be patient, tuck the cards away in a binder, and simply wait and see what happens.

Though I wasn't super familiar with a lot of the 1st Bowman prospects, I recognized a solid number of paper prospects from past Bowman sets like 2017 Draft and 2018 Bowman's Best. 

Although a player's subsequent Bowman prospect card won't be as valuable as their 1st Bowman card, it can be entertaining to build up a timeline of a player's prospect cards. This'll be especially rewarding if the player makes it big in the MLB just like the 4 players above are expected to do.

Appearing only twice per pack, chrome prospect cards are incredibly sought after every year that Bowman is released, likely because they also include an excessive range of colored refractors. In particular, 1st Bowman Chrome cards hold a lot of value, especially if you land a big name prospect.

Out of the 16 chrome prospect cards that I pulled, only 3 of them were 1st Bowman players, the best of which is likely Blaze Alexander of the Arizona Diamondbacks. 

I may not have come across the best 1st Bowman cards in this box, but I've lucked out before with the limited Bowman packs that I've actually opened. Back in 2017, I landed an Acuna paper and chrome 1st Bowman card in the same mega box.

Fernando Tatis Jr is already in the major leagues, meaning this is the final Bowman card of the 20-year old Padres infielder. Alongside shortstop Manny Machado, Tatis is tearing it up in the big leagues, and I fully expect him to become a star. 

He was also featured in 2018 Bowman's Best, so I've become familiar with him over the last few months. He, along with Pete Alonso, seems like the frontrunner for the 2019 NL Rookie of the Year award.

Out of all the chrome stock insert sets, Ready For the Show was the least interesting to me going into this retail purchase. Of course, that meant that I'd pull more of these cards than any other insert set. 

I did end up with some decent players like Forrest Whitley and Triston McKenzie, but there are a couple other insert sets that I much prefer, though I applaud Topps for the concept behind these cards.

As if the chrome cardstock wasn't enough, the black borders and bright backgrounds on both of these cards makes them all the more sleek and modern looking. Both of these insert sets have been featured in Bowman for the last few seasons as they give collectors an insight as to the best rookies and prospects in the game.

Specifically, I'm a huge fan of the Bowman Scouts Top 100 prospect cards as I am every single year that Bowman is released. Not only is this year's design fantastic, but the players in the checklist are incredibly talented. 

Guys like Vlad Jr and Jo Adell highlight an incredibly talented group of 100 players and help create a perfect insert set for collectors who like prospects and set building.

Considering that I only opened 8 packs of 2019 Bowman, I was thrilled to land a serial numbered parallel, especially a chrome stock card. Falling at 1:100 packs, the speckle refractors prove just how difficult it can be to land a numbered prospect card in Bowman, for you'd have to open around 100 packs to land a card numbered to 299.

Taylor Widener wouldn't have been my top choice for a numbered refractor, but he is the #78 prospect in Baseball, something that I just learned today. He's been playing very well in the minors and is expected to make his debut this year. Alright, Taylor Widener, I'll be on the lookout for you.

Like the Gypsy Queen break, however, the best card from the 4 value packs of 2019 Bowman wasn't even a question. I was absolutely thrilled to pull a 1st Bowman paper card of Wander Franco, in the same value pack as the Widener card, come to think. 

Given how much money Franco's autographs are selling for, I figure his 1st Bowman paper card will be worth a pretty penny. However, because it's not serial numbered, I think I'm going to hold onto it and wait and see what he does.

If Franco goes on a tear like Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Rhys Hoskins did, I may end up selling this card. However, as is typically the case with Bowman, I'm going to have to wait and see what happens with Franco, Widener, and everyone else whose prospect card I pulled.