Monday, August 26, 2019

Jack of All Trades - My Take on the Baseball Card Documentary

My wife has recently been on a documentary kick, watching all sorts of different shows on Netflix. The other night she texted me from the other living room (yeah, she really did) a link to Jack of All Trades and asked if I wanted to watch it. We both read the the Netflix description and thought it sounded good. My wife did ask me what the "scandal" mentioned was all about and I have to say I had no clue. If nothing else, this just made me more interested in watching the documentary.

Before I get too far into this post, spoiler warning. If you haven't watched it then you may want to stop reading, bookmark this post and then come back afterwards to share your thoughts.

I was prompted to create this post after I posted on Twitter yesterday afternoon that I was watching the documentary and the comments I received were all over the place. Apparently there are a lot of different polarizing opinions and after viewing the documentary myself, I can see why. Going in I thought this was purely about baseball cards, but cards only play a part of the story. This is as much a documentary on co-producer Stu Stone's life as it is on baseball cards.

It starts off with Stu going home to Toronto to retrieve boxes of stuff from his childhood that were put away until recently. Going through the boxes he finds a Cabbage Patch Kids, Magic School Bus toy, My Pet Monster and other items from the late 70's / early 80's. Of course he also finds a few singles, a few boxes and factory sets of mostly junk wax. He boxes all of them up and through a call to his sister, plans on taking them to a local card show to sell and make big money. This is where I started to wonder what was up with the documentary. Through some home video of Stu's bar mitzvah, he explains that his dad, Jack, used to own a baseball card store in Toronto called Sluggers. Turns out he was sort of a big deal in the card business for a if that was the case wouldn't Stu have known that a 1987 Topps set or a 1991 Upper Deck factory set wasn't worth the cardboard it was printed on?

The production of the documentary was pretty crude. The other director (and Stu's childhood friend)
Harvey Glazer, also stars and would often open his mouth and ruin the flow of the documentary. From the home video segments and interview style portions of the show, the viewer learns that shortly after that bar mitzvah footage Jack would leave his wife and family. He would fall off the map for the better part of 25 years. This is where the documentary starts to shift gears from being about baseball cards and more about Stu's dysfunctional father.

While I didn't mind the "extra story" regarding Stu and his father (and I use that word lightly), I can see why this annoyed some people. I didn't mind it because a big part of anything collectible is nostalgia and the memories these things we collect bring us. A lot of the things I collect bring back memories from my cards, name it. It's part of the reason why I collect. I had a great relationship with my father up until the time he passed away in 1998 due to cancer. I obviously can't relate with Stu's story, but I did find parts of it sad at times.

Getting back to cards, some of the better parts of the documentary was seeing his interview with Jose Canseco, getting to meet super collector "Foul Ball" Paul Jones and Stu visiting the Topps headquarters. Sooz from A Cardboard Problem even has a cameo!

Overall I found the documentary to be interesting. The acting was bad, I think everyone can agree on that...but these aren't really actors. That said, if I hadn't seen my father for 25 years and all the sudden I had a chance to talk to him person, I don't think I could have casually sat down as Stu did and interview his father. That said, I would encourage any baseball card collector to take the time to sit down and watch Jack of All Trades at least once. It may not be the documentary most of expected or wanted to see, it was still fun seeing baseball cards being talked about and shown in more of a mainstream media.

If you've watched this before I'd love to hear your comments about it. Several of my Twitter followers have already shared their opinions...which were all over the place! If you haven't watch it yet, it's currently streaming on Netflix at the time of this post.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Nacho Flavored Set Building

Wow, has it been almost a full month since my last post here?! Well, I can explain. I've been busy over on Twitter talking about cards and sharing new acquisitions and working out a trade with @Pgn3540, better known as Nacho Nordberg.

I really don't even remember how our trade got started, but we went back and forth for a few weeks before we finalized a deal and sent each our some cards. Once my package arrive I realized why it Nacho some time to put his offer together as there were four team bags full of cards...99% of them for sets I'm working on building.

Let's start with the cards I was most excited about...Stadium Club. Nacho sent over cards from my want list for 2017, 2018 and a huge stack for 2019. My love for TSC has really increased over the years and completing these three sets has been a goal I set for myself. I haven't bought a box of either of these years and have just relied on buying retail so I appreciate all the help I can get!

If the TSC cards weren't enough, he also sent over a few cards to help me with some flagship Topps sets such as 2016, some 2018 Big League and a single from 2018 Allen & Ginter and 2017 Gypsy Queen.

Surprisingly there were some 1993 Upper Deck in one of the stacks and even one 2009 Goodwin Champions card. These two sets haven't received much attention from me lately so it's nice to add some cards to the set binders, especially '93 that set!

I didn't make it to my LCS on National Baseball Card Day unfortunately and I doubt Nacho knew that...but he included three cards from this year's program. Thanks!!

Finally, we have two shiny Bowman Chrome Braves cards of Cristian Pache and a RC of Mike Soroka. Both of these cards are so beautiful in hand, especially the Pache with the Refractor sheen. I've had so much fun watching the Braves this year and Soroka has been a big part of that. Who would have figured this tall, lanky Canadian would come into the starting rotation and be so dominant this year? 

Thanks again Nacho for all of the help with these various sets. My next move is to update my want lists both here on the blog and over at The Trading Card Database.