Sunday, August 19, 2018

Long Overdue Return Trip to the Card Show...Was it Worth It?

Last weekend, with my wife's blessing, I was able to attend my first card show in a number of years. Where I live there seems to only be one real promoter and his show only rotates through my area maybe once a quarter. It usually falls on a weekend that I'm not available, but finally the cards (no pun intended) fell into place and allowed me to go.

The show was held near uptown Charlotte, NC in a venue I hadn't had the chance to visit before. It was rather easy to get to and parking was free. The hall it was held in was comparable to where the show was previously held. No frills room, exposed rafters in the ceiling a cold, unforgiving, hard concrete floor. Admission was just $5 and free for kids under 12. They also had plenty of junk wax packs (even those old Pro Set Little Mermaid!) for the kids.

Upon entering the room the left side was pretty much the trading card dealers with the right side of the room for toy dealers. However the right side of the room was very sparse and the promoter told me he has a hard time getting the toy dealers to come to the show. He said those particular dealers didn't like driving into proper Charlotte city limits.


I first made my way around the left side of the room, eager to take in all the card dealers had to offer. I was keeping my eyes open for of course dealers, but those all elusive dime boxes I see so many of my trading card buddies on Twitter talk about. One of the first things I noticed was a large majority of vintage card dealers. Lots and lots of older men sitting behind the tables and at the tables with their crude checklists in spiral bound notebooks.

The other thing that I quickly realized was that many of the dealers didn't really want to engage the people looking, instead standing/sitting behind their tables with a blank look on their face. If they were staring into space, they were talking with the dealer beside or behind them. At times I felt as if I was walking through a retirement community! There were very few father/son combos there or little kids. It was kind of depressing if I'm going to be honest. How, had I been more into vintage I'm sure I could've plugged some holes in sets...but I'm not there yet.

The first table I did any shopping at was a husband and wife from outside of Atlanta, GA that drove up for the show. He had two large white foam boards set up on the back of the table with $1 cards attached. Some were autos, some were relics. The rest of his table had a selection of modern autos/relics with two $.25 bins to the right. There was one card that immediately caught my eye that was sitting on the table.

2015 Topps World Series Champion Coin and Stamp #WCCS-TG (19/50)

I don't think I've ever seen this card or an example of it before. I only had $20 in my pocket for the entire show and the dealer wanted $8 for it. I eventually was able to get that down a buck or so after I found a few quarter cards from his bins. The only thing about this Tom Glavine card is the upside down penny is driving my OCD nuts! Unfortunately the coin is behind a clear film so you can really rotate it around to where it's upright. Oh well, it was a nice way to kick off the show for me.


It was no surprise I was able to find several Atlanta Braves cards from the dealer from GA and these 4 came from the quarter bin. I love the black & white Spahn from last year's Stadium Club set. I think I needed it for my set, but even if I didn't it'll go into my larger Braves collection. The Tom Glavine Bowman Chrome card is from 2016's MLB Draft History insert set. Hard to pass up a shiny Braves card! A lot of Braves fans have been quick to criticize Dansby Swanson and his performance at the plate, but he's one of my favorite modern Braves players. I love the look of these '83 Retrospective cards, but of all the ones I've pulled from packs none of them have been of Braves players. The Bowman's Best is from 2016 and it's not a set that I spent much time with, but again it's hard to pass up a shiny Braves card!


2016 Stadium Club is a great set with great photography and this Freddie Freeman card is a great example of the photography found in the set. As a Braves fan this card is alone awesome, but I also love the card for the look on the fans' faces in the stands as Freddie was trying to catch a foul ball. Francoeur is another favorite player of mine, one that I collect in and out of a Braves' uniform. This 2002 Just Minors card is one that I didn't have when I scanned my list on my phone. Seems pretty perfect too that I found a card of his as I've really been enjoying his color commentary on Fox Sports South during Braves games. The last card in this lot is of Alex Wood from 2013 Topps Chrome. I think the Purple Refractors were retail exclusives. Alex is from my hometown of Charlotte, NC so I don't mind having a second copy of this card as I can add it to my Hometown Heroes sub-collection. All of these cards too came from the $.25 bin.


I was really hoping to find cards from a few modern sets I've been working on, but alas I didn't run across any of them. I did however find two more Tarot Cards from this year's Gypsy Queen set I needed. $.25 each, I'll take 'em.

2012 Topps A Cut Above Jackie Robinson #ACA-22

The A Cut Above set from 2012 Topps is a set I'd love to complete, but I don't actively search for. I happened to find this Jackie Robinson card that I didn't have so I was happy to snatch it up. Topps doesn't offer too many die-cut cards anymore so this is another reason this set appeals to me.

2014 Panini Prizm R.A. Dickey Golden Leather #7

I am a fan of what most of Panini has done since they got a partial license for baseball cards. The product I recently featured in my Charity Group Break, combined with their recent Donruss and Optic sets have only helped solidify (and complicate) Panini when it comes to me making baseball card purchasing decisions. I'm sure there is a "Refractor" version of this Golden Leather card of R.A. Dickey and I'm sure it looks better than the regular version I found lingering in the $.25 bin, but I've been looking for more cards of him after discovering and and I share the same faith. He of course is now part of my Faith Brothers sub-collection.


I didn't start collecting cards until about the middle of 1990, so anything pre-1990 is "vintage" to me! All that said, I was happy to find a few older cards of players that I admire for as much for what they accomplished on the field, but who they are off the field. Strawberry of course is from the 1985 Donruss while the Tony Gwynn is from the 1986 Fleer set. Both of these were easy $.25 purchases.

2002 Upper Deck Honor Roll Chris Weinke Letterman #HRL-CW

Before I left the show, I did go back to the couple from GA because I enjoyed talking to both of them. They were really friendly and fun to talk to. While I was standing there I had noticed a Carolina Panthers auto that I didn't recall seeing earlier. It was of Heisman Trophy winner, Chris Weinke. Chris may not have had the NFL career many were expecting, but I enjoyed his time in Carolina. At one buck I couldn't leave him behind.


At the beginning of the post I mentioned that the toy dealers were on the right side of the room. There really wasn't much to look, however there was one guy that had two short boxes of comics that were $1 each. In the boxes were a lot of older Uncanny X-Men issues that didn't really interest me, however I was happy to see these direct editions of Iron Man from 1981, issues 149 and 154. Both were in great condition and I was more than happy to pay a buck for.


Before leaving I decided to make one more sweep around the room. Earlier I had found a table that was unmanned that had sealed boxes of that old Impel Marketing WCW wrestling cards for $3. I was hoping that this mysterious dealer would be at his table, but alas I never saw the guy there pretty much the whole time I was at the show!

I did remember seeing another guy with some older boxes of cards laid out so I circled back by him. This dealer was an older guy as well, however he and his wife were much friendly and inviting that some of the other dealers I encountered. He had one box left of this 91-92 Fleer basketball and his original asking price was much lower than what boxes had recently sold for on eBay. I was kind of interested, as I loved the NBA during this time frame, however as I previously mentioned I only had $20 and I didn't have much left in my pocket at this time. When the dealer asked if I was interested, I told him yeah, but I was on my way out and only had a few bucks left in my pocket. I told him exactly how much I had left and he said, "take it".

All in all I had a good time while I was there. I went on Sunday so the crowd was smaller than the previous day from what I was told. I had bruised my big toe on my left foot on Saturday with the lawnmower so after walking around for a little over an hour on the concrete floor, needless to say my foot was beginning to get sore. It was fun to experience a card show again, but it didn't live up to my expectations. Perhaps I had set the bar too high? For whatever reason the show wasn't what I was expecting, however I managed to have a good time. Will I go back to their next show? Probably, however I'll make sure I'm better prepared next time.

In closing, I'll show off the contents of the NBA Fleer box if anyone leaves me a comment that they are interested.


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Charity Group Break Results

Like many card collectors, I have been trying to be more active on Twitter over the last few months. As a result I tend to forget that not everyone that may stop by my blog is also on Twitter. While I have shared some of the pictures of the cards we pulled as part of last weekend's Charity break, I realized that many of you may not have seen them. Time to get that resolved.

First however, we collectively raised $150 for my friend Nick Dusenbury's adoption fund! Thank you again to everyone that participated, especially to those of you that donated above and beyond the entry fee. I'll be making this donation to Nick's Go Fund Me campaign early next week once I get paid. Now, onto the cards...


The break included Hobby boxes of 2013 Panini Prizm and Pinnacle, a box of 2012 Topps Opening Day and a bonus blaster of 2018 Topps Chrome.


We ended up with 3 Refractors, the Jon Lester having a different look than the others. Xfractor? Does Topps still do those? The blaster box had a pack of 4 retail Sepia Refractors and I was surprised at how sharp those looked.


 The Reverse Negative Refractors also looked very sharp...too bad it was a Nationals player!! We also ended up with 4 other inserts. The Freshman Flash don't do much for me and the Future Stars, while they look better in person than scanned are another easy pass for this collector. The 1983 Retrospective cards are beautiful.


Up next was the box of 2013 Pinnacle. I was really looking forward to this one personally as I loved the Pinnacle brand back in the 90's and this new design harkened back to Pinnacle's beginning. We ended up with one Artist Proof parallel...nothing fancy, but nice to see that particular parallel again.


The guaranteed two autos in the box I don't think knocked anyone socks off, but hey...it was for charity!! It did appear that there was a small cut out for the auto sticker however.


There were several other inserts pulled, such as Team 2020, Position Powers, Awaiting the Call and even a Pete Rose insert? 


Pinnacle was known for their "Dufux" technology and Panini also brought this back (though they call it something different now) and used it on the Slugfest insert...another familiar name from back in the 90's.



The Team Pinnacle insert features two players, but only the player on the front side got the fancy upgrade. This was yet another Pinnacle staple from yesteryear.


The Naturals and Aces were the other insert set subjects pulled. I was glad to pull this Verlander as the Sewing Machine Guy, Larry French himself came out of "retirement" to help out the cause and grabbed his Tigers. I believe these are going to his nephew if I recall correctly.


One of the aspects I really liked about the renewed Pinnacle was their inclusion of acetate inserts. These Swing for the Fences cards have a pseudo wood grain look to them, though it's hard to see against this white background.


The Clear Vision cards are awesome in my opinion. You've got a shiny rainbow foilboard boarder along with colored acetate in the center. As you can see w/ the Kershaw, there are multiple versions to chase.


Essence of the Game is another card that looks better in person than scanned. Not my favorite design, but cool none the less.


The last insert of the Pinnacle box are these Pinnacle Success acetate cards. I'm a fan of baseball cards made of something other than cardboard so these are a win in my book. 

All in all, for a non-licensed set I found the Pinnacle box to be the highlight of the break just for the sheer variety it offered. Perhaps another box will show up in a future Affordable Group Break?


Up next was the box of pre-Optic cards, 2012 Prizm. We hit 4 Refractors, I mean Prizm parallels. I love the thick cardstock used for these and wish Topps would up the stock used for Chrome.


The two guaranteed autos this time around where a little better. At least I've heard of both of these players. Just heard this morning as a matter of fact that Brandon McCarthy is calling it quits and hanging up his cleats at the end of this season. He currently is an Atlanta Brave and is on the DL.


These orange die-cut Prizm parallels are Hobby exclusives and numbered to 60. Happy that we got a good player this round in Rickey Henderson.


These Fearless inserts I felt could have looked better, but as a result are kind of bland to be honest. Maybe if the flames had been done in the rainbow sheen they would've looked better?


Hey, that kid on the left looks kind of familiar. Usually I'm not a big fan of Team USA stuff, but hey when Trout is on the card how can you go wrong?


I wasn't aware going in that the inserts also had parallels until I pulled these Rookie Challengers. The design itself is pretty bland, but at least the Gyorko looks better since it's shiny.


Same thing, but this time with Top Prospects. Got a regular version and a shiny parallel.


Also pulled a Superstar and Band of Brothers inserts. Superstar needs more color, but I found the Band of Brothers to be a cool insert theme.

I have to say the Prizm was better than I expected it to have been. The Prizm shiny cards all look great in hand and as previously mentioned, I love the thick stock used. None of the cards curled or stuck together.

I didn't open the Opening Day box on camera to conserve time as I was already over the one hour mark by the time I got to it. We pulled the normal Mascots, Superstar Celebration inserts as well as a few others. I was in a hurry to get everyone's cards sorted, packaged and mailed Monday morning that I didn't take any pictures of the Opening Day cards, but if nothing else it helped add more cards to every team's stack.

Overall it was a really fun break and I hope everyone enjoys the cards that were pulled for their team(s). Thanks again for all of the support! Until next time...

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Minor League Baseball Experience - Greenville Drive

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of taking my wife along with me while I visited some of my work locations out of town. We left the kids with the in-laws and headed down I-85 to Greenville, SC for a few days.

Being that my work basically paid for the hotel and our meals, we had a little extra to spend on entertainment. One evening we finally got around to seeing Jurassic World: Lost Kingdom at the local theater. For the next evening we wanted to do something a little different and my wife, who's great at finding inexpensive things to do when we travel, noticed the Greenville Drive had a home game. If you aren't familiar with lower A baseball, the Drive are part of the Boston Red Sox organization and used to be part of the Braves organization. We made the short drive to downtown, found a large municipal parking lot where we parked for free, then a short walk over to the stadium.

Upon walking up to the stadium I noticed a little house across the street from the entrance. I had saw earlier on TripAdvisor I believe that there was a "Shoeless Joe" Jackson museum, but I didn't bother to see where it exactly was. Turns out it was right at the stadium. I took a picture of the historical marker outside the house/museum.


Very cool...I had no idea that Joe Jackson had Carolina roots! I wished the museum had been open, but according to the sign out front it appears it's only open to tours by appointment. Too bad...


I was very impressed with Fluor Field, granted though I've only ever attended two other minor league baseball parks before. By the way, if you're interested Fluor is one of the world's largest engineering, procurement, fabrication, construction and maintenance companies in the world. Now I can see why this ballpark was so nice...Fluor has money!!



Just inside the gates before we walked up the stairs to the main concourse was the Greenville Hall of fame if you will. Basically information plaques of some better known players that made their way through Greenville. Of course is the aforementioned "Shoeless Joe" Jackson, but others such as Tommy Lasorda, Jim Rice and my man John Smoltz! Always fun to learn some of the legends that passed through or got their starts in these smaller cities and venues.


Upon walking in I couldn't help but to notice the buildings that lined part of the outfield. We ended up sitting over near that section and it appeared as if the right side of the building were condos. How awesome would it be to walk out on your tiny patio/balcony and watch a baseball game on a cool evening?! At first I didn't notice Greenville's version of the Big Green Monster, but I would see it better once I got to our seats.


The view was so cool that my wife insisted we take a selfie after entering the stadium. That of course is my wife on the left.


Unfortunately I was given one of the programs for the evening so I really was flying blind. I really had no idea who any of the players were and had to rely on the Public Announcer guy and the info placed on the scoreboard. I did notice that the left fielder was none other than Jordan Wren, son of former Braves General Manager (and current front office executive for the Red Sox). If nothing else we had a great view of the mini Green Monster in left field!

The Drive were playing the Hickory Crawdads that evening and I was pretty much clueless as to who those players were as well. However none of that stopped me from hitting the team store during the 7 inning stretch to see if they had any baseball cards for sale. After all, this is a trading card blog so I have to tie in cards in some way!


At first I didn't see anything outside of hats, t-shirts, foam fingers and mini bats...then on the counter right by the register I saw approximately 3 or 4 2018 team sets left. I grabbed one for $10 and made my way back to my seat. I didn't end up opening the plastic wrapped stack of cards until I returned home. The design is rather nice and at 30 cards I felt it was a good deal. Who knows, perhaps one of these players will be the Red Sox's next Mookie Betts? I may eventually do a post just on this team set if I feel there is enough interest.

Overall it was a great evening of fun. The weather was beautiful with low humidity, it was a new experience for my wife and I, the food was good and everything was pretty affordable. I end up in Greenville several times a year, but I'm usually by myself and so busy with work that I often don't have time to do much else. I'm glad for at least this once I was able to carve out a little free time while on the road and what better way to be entertained than by taking in a baseball game?

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Charity Group Break 2nd Team Randomization

Now that all the slots have been claimed and paid for, it's time to take the remaining 15 teams that went unclaimed in the first round and randomly assign those to all of the participants.

To jog your memory, here is a list of the initial sign ups and teams claimed:

01) Braves - @flywheels (pd)
02) Reds - Jason German (pd)
03) Astros - @thedimwit (pd)
04) Pirates - @thedimwit (pd)
05) Red Sox - @thedimwit (pd)
06) Diamondbacks - @awmckenz (pd)
07) Random Team (Mets) - @awmckenz (pd)
08) Cardinals - @cardsoncards (pd)
09) Cubs - @communitygum (pd)
10) Yankees - @madglavsmoltz (pd)
11) Random Team (Padres) - @awmckenz (pd)
12) Tigers - The Sewing Machine Guy (pd)
13) Dodgers - gcrl (pd)
14) Angels - @DionSoskin (pd)
15) Mariners - @workoutbaseball (pd)

And here are the results (as shown in my Twitter video):

01) @flywheels - Marlins
02) Jason German  - A's
03) @thedimwit - Blue Jays
04) @thedimwit - Royals
05) @thedimwit - Nationals
06) @awmckenz - Rockies
07) @awmckenz - Rangers
08) @cardsoncards - Giants
09) @communitygum - Brewers
10) @madglavsmoltz - Rays
11) @awmckenz - Indians
12) The Sewing Machine Guy - Orioles
13) gcrl - Twins
14) @DionSoskin - White Sox
15) @workoutbaseball - Phillies

Pack Break: 2018 Topps Stadium Club



This post has been sitting in my que for longer that it should have been, however better late than never, right? Ever since Topps brought back the Stadium Club brand, each year's effort has been top notch. I usually end up trying to build the set, but I tend to stick to retail so with each year I end up with a lengthy want list!! This rack pack represented my first Stadium Club pack of the 2018 season so let's see what I ended up with.


Alright, we're off to a great start a Strawberry card as the first card! I haven't always been a Strawberry fan, however with his turn to embrace his faith being such public knowledge in the last few years, I've drafted him into my "Faith Brothers" collection. I'm glad he's starting to show up more and more in modern card sets because I rarely come across his older stuff.


Part of the attraction of TSC each year is the photography. Year Archie Bradley is caught showing some strong passion for what I can only assume was a good play on the field.


The Beam Team insert has been associated with Stadium Club for many many years, but I always associate the insert set with basketball more than baseball. This year (and last year's) Beam Team design just doesn't do anything for me.


Veteran player, check. Good action shot, check. Only thing that could have made this card better was if it was in black & white.




The rest of the bunch...that I couldn't come up with anything specific to mention. I'm loving this year's design and most of the photos have been great. I still haven't bought a lot of Stadium Club because it seemed to drop when I didn't have money and when I did, Allen & Ginter came out! I guess that's the problem with so many sets is that they aren't spaced out and it makes it tough on set builders such as myself.

I realized at the time of this post I've still yet to really collate the cards I have acquired so I can create a want list and update my trade list with doubles I have. Guess I should get to that, huh?