Saturday, May 30, 2020

April Showers bring May Flowers

And Mayflowers bring pilgrims. And I had a record setting number of cards make a pilgrimage to my mailbox this month!

My last entry I mentioned being in way over my head with the combination of the 1972 project, All-Time Fan Favorites sets, and Diamond Kings; so much so that I almost decided to completely end my work on all but the 72s and trade off what I had.

Instead, no. I'm going to keep working on them, but they're definitely getting de-emphasized. When it comes to paying for players who charge to TTM, the 1972 sets come first. Then the others second. I'll still keep trading and just working on freebies and cheapies any time I can.

Sometimes you just need a momentary freakout to really clear your head.

With the fact I'm a Moderator In Training at SportsCardForum, I was asked by their assistant GM if I might make some TTM success videos. This has now turned into an entire YouTube Channel. Check it out and subscribe!


I also added on a few moderators to the Facebook groups I run.

With the fact that I'm still working from home through the current pandemic, my wife was able to get unemployment since both of her jobs shut down, and we got our Donnie Dollars, I decided to go ahead and mail off a ton of TTM requests. Several tough signers have started picking up the pen, and a few long waits have come back to me. Overall, I got 193 sigs by mail, which breaks my previous single-month TTM record of 177 set in November 2017. That month saw me set three other personal records (Most TTM successes in a day, then did it again, and most total TTM sigs in a day) but never saw a streak of more than six delivery days in a row with a success.

This month, no records for most in a day, but I've only had two delivery days without a success (with an 18-delivery day streak rolling into June) and the quality has been incredible.

MAY 1
Charlie Hall, c/o home, 3/3, 1 week
Carl Hairston, c/o home, 3/3, 2 weeks

MAY 2
Luke Walker, c/o home, 1/1, 2 weeks - 1972 Set Hit!

MAY 4
Cleo Miller, c/o home, 4/4, 2 weeks
Rance Mulliniks, c/o home, 6/6, 1 week
Russ Courtnall, c/o home, 3/5, 1 week, kept two cards

MAY 5
Lonnie Chisenhall, c/o home, 5/5, 2 weeks
Ruben Amaro, c/o home, 5/5, 1 week

MAY 6
Dave Schmidt, c/o home, 5/5, 1 year - DK Set Hit!
Jose Lind, c/o home, 5/5, 2 weeks, paid $1 per

MAY 7
Kurt Stillwell, c/o home, 4/4, 3 weeks - DK Set Hit!
Paul Assenmacher, c/o home, 3/4, 3 weeks
Mike Fischlin, c/o home, 3/4, 2 weeks

MAY 8-9
The only two mail delivery days with no successes...

MAY 11
Kevin Maas, c/o home, 5/5, 2 years - ATFF Set Hit!
Jim Lachey, c/o home, 4/4, 3 weeks
Sal Bando, c/o home, 2/2, 3 weeks - 1972 Set Hits!
Steve Bono, c/o home, 5/5, 1 week

MAY 12
Clay Carroll, c/o home, 2/2, 1 week, paid $5 each - 1972 Set Hits!

MAY 13
Rick Mirer, c/o home, 4/4, 1 week

MAY 14
Elliott Maddox, c/o home, 1/1, 2 weeks, paid $5 - 1972 Set Hit!
Cleon Jones, c/o home, 2/2, 2 weeks, paid $10 each - 1972 Set Hits!
Steve Kemp, c/o home, 6/6, 2 weeks

MAY 15
Rick Wise, c/o home, 4/3, 2 weeks, paid $5 each, he added an extra card - 1972 Set Hits!

MAY 16
Tim McCarver, c/o home, 1/1, 2 weeks, paid $10 - 1972 Set Hit!
Andre Ware, c/o home, 4/4, 2 weeks - Heisman CIC Set Hit!

MAY 18
Alex Dickerson, c/o home, 2/2, 2 weeks
Ben Petrick, c/o home, 1/1, 2 weeks
Erik McMillan, c/o home, 4/4, 1 week

MAY 19
Lou Piniella, c/o home, 2/2, 1 month, paid $5 each - 1972 Set Hits!
Roberto Hernandez, c/o home, 6/6, 3 weeks 
Harold Baines, c/o home, 3/3, 1 week, paid $10 total - DK and ATFF Set Hits!
Terry Adams, c/o home, 4/4, 1 week
Bill Swift, c/o home, 6/6, 1 week

MAY 20
Jim Acker, c/o home, 4/4, 1 week

MAY 21
Ken Singleton, c/o home, 1/1, 2 weeks, paid $5 - 1972 Set Hit!
Franklin Stubbs, c/o home, 6/6, 2 weeks
Mark Chmura, c/o home, 4/4, 2 weeks
John Friesz, c/o home, 4/4, 2 weeks
Craig Paquette, c/o home, 5/5, 2 weeks

MAY 22
Jeff Andretti, c/o home, 1/1, 3 weeks
Ken Oberkfell, c/o home, 6/6, 2 weeks

MAY 23
Fredrik Modin, c/o home, 4/4, 2 weeks
Jeff Ballard, c/o work, 5/5, 2 weeks
Willie McGinest, c/o home, 5/5, 2 weeks

MAY 26
Steve Garvey, c/o home, 2/2, 9 months, paid $5 - 1972 and DK Set Hits!
Jean-Guy Talbot, c/o home, 4/3, 5 months, added a signed photo
Bryan Oelkers, c/o home, 3/3, 1 month
Denny McLain, c/o Top of the Mound Enterprises, 2/1, 3 weeks, paid $5, also signed protective index card - 1972 Set Hit!
Lee Elia, c/o home, 1/3, 2 weeks, returned two unsigned

MAY 27
Michael Cuddyer, c/o home, 1/1, 3 weeks

MAY 28
Jeremy Guthrie, c/o Texas Houston South Mission, 4/4, 1 week, kept a card, wrote short note back

MAY 29
Jermaine Allensworth, c/o home, 5/5, 3 weeks
Dave Ford, c/o home, 3/4, 3 weeks, kept a double
R.A. Dickey, c/o home, 1/2, 1 week, kept one card - 2013 72 Mini Set Hit!

MAY 30
Broderick Perkins, c/o home, 3/3, 1 month
Juan Marichal, c/o home, 2/2, 2 weeks, paid $10 each - 1972 Set Hits!

So if you're scoring at home, that's 19 new sigs added to the 1972 Topps set, one added to the 2013 72 Minis, four Diamond Kings, three ATFFs, and a Heisman Index Card.

And that's only the TTMs.

I've started listing my entire tradeable signed card inventory on SCN just to see if I can get a few bites. It's a hell of a process. We're talking nearly 5000 in baseball alone, another 3000 or so in hockey, and a bunch in basketball, football, auto racing, and indoor soccer. And there's no way to just upload the entire list as a spreadsheet or anything. We're talking player by player.

But boy have I ever gotten some bites...

I worked a few trades and purchases on SCN, ABC Unlimited, eBay, and Facebook.  So far, I've gotten three for my ATFF sets (Tommy John and two Maury Wills) and two for 1972 (Dusty Baker and a likely-ghost-signed Joe Coleman that's at least a decent placeholder and was just a throw-in on the trade), plus I bought several signed Indians cards of Brandon Phillips. You may know he refused to sign Indians cards after being traded from them in 2006 (a policy he kept at least until 2010 and I haven't heard anything of him changing it in the last ten years).

I'm awaiting shipment on several 1972s that I bought through a long-time collector on Facebook (Tim Foli, Moe Drabowsky, Bob Lemon, Paul Blair, Duke Sims, Phil Regan, Bob Barton, Jim Fregosi, Tommy Davis, and Mark Herrmann); a 1972 Don Eddy from a trade with a collector via SCN/Facebook; DKs of Kevin Seitzer and Keith Moreland plus a 1972 of Marty Pattin from a trade with a friend via Facebook; a 1972 Bruce Kison via a SCN trade; and a John Smiley DK from eBay.

So once those are done, I'll be getting another 13 1972 sigs, and three DK sigs.

And I'm working on another potential deal for some DKs right now. A collector on SCN has eight I need, and I have ten 1991 Upper Deck needs of his...

The YouTube channel is likely going to get a lot of content put on it, even when I don't get any TTMs. Maybe a couple videos on advice for how to write letters, IP graphing etiquette, my sets, my collecting biography, spotlighting other channels and podcasts and forums and such, and anything else that comes to mind.  Maybe if I get enough subscribers, some live streams and chats just showing off some items in my collection.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

April report, and ... a thinning of the herd?

Obviously, I have no IP reports to talk about. But I hit the mailing hard at the end of the month and plan to do so in early May as well.

APRIL 3
Orland Kurtenbach, c/o Canucks Alumni, 3/2, 4 months, wrote a short note back

APRIL 7
Luis Melendez, c/o home, 3/3, 5 months

APRIL 14
Gene Alley, c/o home, 3/4, 5 months, returned one unsigned

APRIL 16
Tom Tupa, c/o home, 4/4, 4 years

APRIL 27
Keith Millard, c/o home, 4/4, 1 week
Charles Nagy, c/o home, 5/5, 1 week
Reggie Cleveland, c/o home, 1/1, 1 week, paid $2 signing fee
Will Wilson, c/o home, 5/5, 1 week, personalized all

APRIL 30
Chris Perez, c/o home, 4/4, 1 week
Bobby Witt Jr., c/o home, 2/2, 1 week
Goose Gossage, c/o home, 1/1, 1 week

MAY 1
Charlie Hall, c/o home, 3/3, 1 week
Carl Hairston, c/o home, 3/3, 2 weeks

From April 20-27, I've sent off 45 requests. I have enough stamps to send 55 more domestically, plus 20 outgoing stamps for international requests. One is going to Japan. I also have about $100 in cash to get some players who charge.

And that leads me to something I'm thinking about. I might decrease my number of sets I'm working on.

I don't plan to give up on the indoor soccer or hockey sets. I'm super close to being done on all of those. Football, Nascar, I could go either way on those.

But the baseball sets are pure hell. The 1972 Topps set has 787 cards and when you include all the multi-player cards, it'll take 863 sigs to complete (this includes a random cardless player/coach/owner/broadcaster/organist on the team card, and an umpire on each checklist). I have 383 at last count. I'll never complete it-- I mean Mays, Aaron, and Mike Marshall, all want well over $200 per sig, plus Clemente, Don Wilson, Jim McGlothin, Danny Frisella, Danny Thompson, Bob Moose, and Thurman Munson all died before 1980. And I plan to hit the 2021 Heritage sets super hard too-- by which I mean the regular, high numbers, AND minor league sets.

I also have been working on the 2003-2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites sets. 442 cards in them. I have 183 signed including several now deceased. But again: Mays, Aaron, Reggie Jackson, Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk, and several others who charge way more than I can afford, plus several deceased that I never got. I'll never finish it either.

And I've been doing the 1982-1991 Diamond Kings because clearly I am a masochist; not even going to get into those.

Maybe it's time to scale back and drop the ATFF and DK sets. There's a LOT of trade bait in there-- Ernie Banks, Nolan Ryan, Yogi Berra, Jim Bunning, Don Sutton, Alan Trammell, Sparky Anderson, Ernie Harwell, Fergie Jenkins, Whitey Herzog, Goose Gossage, Harold Baines, Wade Boggs, Brooks Robinson, Duke Snider, Andre Dawson, Ralph Kiner, Ryne Sandberg, Monte Irvin, Tony LaRussa... and that doesn't include the non-HOFers like Joe Carter, Dale Murphy, Jim Kaat, Johnny Pesky, Don Zimmer, Jose Canseco... I think you get my point. And I didn't even touch on the DKs (Canseco, Gossage, Tony Gwynn, Tim Raines, Ivan Calderon...).

I hate giving up on a project that I've sunk so much time, effort, and money into, especially when the 1972 is a comparatively recent thing for me (I started the ATFF sets in 2007, the 1972 Topps set in 2014, and the DKs around maybe 2016). But sometimes you just have to know when to turn your attention to something a bit more viable. At the very least, maybe someone will be willing to trade my ATFF Fergie Jenkins for their 1972s, my ATFF Brooksies for their 72s, something like that. I don't know. It's not official yet, but I'm giving it some major consideration.

Meanwhile, expect to see a lot more of me (screenname of *censored*) at SportsCardForum. I've become a made man... err, I mean a moderator there. I have a training period to go through first, but I'm on my way moving up the ladder there. With that, I'm going to be adding a few moderators to the Facebook groups in which I'm an admin (Baseball TTM Autographs; Ballpark Graphers; Baseball Autograph Traders) this weekend.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

March Report

Despite quarantines and all the hilarity that has not ensued, I've hit a couple nifty milestones this month. I completed a set and harpooned a white whale.

I've also been forced to probably cancel the West Texas trip as it appears there won't be any baseball until at least July 4.

Anyways, a quick report...

MARCH 5
Frank Stams, c/o home, 5/4, 3 and a half years; wrote a short note back

MARCH 13
Dion Phaneuf, c/o parents' home, 4/4, 3 months

MARCH 18
John Van Boxmeer, c/o home, 3/2, 4 months; also signed protective index card

MARCH 19
Dmitri Bykov, c/o team, 2/1, 2 and a half months; also signed protective index card

Yes, you read that correctly: I got a TTM success to and from Russia! I figured that of the final 11 I needed for Topps Total that Bykov might be the last one I get. He only spent a year in the US and played in Boston (where I lived at the time) before the card came out. So I never had the chance to get it signed myself, and I knew no one who had gotten it signed. The postal system in Russia typically sucks so I didn't think TTMing would be possible. But when I found he was coaching a team in Moscow, I figured that was worth a try (apparently mail to Moscow and St. Petersburg is decent, but it's highly questionable anywhere else).

So, pro tip if you send to him, address your envelope in both English AND Cyrillic. It should look like this...

Dmitri Bykov                  | Дмитрий Быков
HK Krasnaya Armiya            | ХК Красная Армия
CSKA Ice Palace               | Ледовый Дворец Спорта ЦСКА
Leningradskyi Prospekt 39/41  | Ленинградский Проспект 39/41
125167 Moscow                 | 125167 Москва
Russia                        | Россия

Your SASE can be in English alone. But do yourself a favor and GET PROPER POSTAGE FOR IT!

I went on eBay and got a 45-ruble stamp. It cost me about $3 and it had to be shipped to me from Moldova, but it was worth it, clearly. Your outgoing envelope needs a US Global stamp (runs something like $1.20).

And so with that, I sit at 10 cards remaining for the Topps Total set: Paul Kariya, Jason Allison, Mike Richter, Mark Messier, Todd Bertuzzi, Tommy Salo, Lubomir Sekeras, Espen Knutsen, Miroslav Satan, and Andrei Nikolishin. A friend in Finland has my Nikolishin card hoping to get him with the KHL team he is with, and I have someone who may be able to help with Bertuzzi. Satan has been known to sign occasionally TTM, ditto on Richter, Salo, Sekeras, and Knutsen (though I have failed on all at least once). I think I can safely say that my white whales now are Messier and Kariya; as one would expect. Allison may be the third-toughest.

I put a few posts out on Facebook and Instagram hoping for some trades. And I got even better: Mike from Minnesota helped me out with the last card for my 2008/09 Upper Deck Rookie Class set, sending me the signed Steven Stamkos card that graced my mailbox today. So I'm now at three complete sets...







My hockey want list now sits at 50 cards. I may have help coming on as many as 15 of them from various trade talks and even a long-running 50/50 deal.

Lastly, I made my return to the broadcast booth a couple weeks ago, calling games for the Texas Open Floorball Tournament in Arlington. The games were originally going to be broadcast online, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, the broadcast crew was unable to make it, so we tried to cover the games as best we could with a three-person crew, a camera, a computer, and a couple mics. As soon as they're on YouTube, I'll post some links here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

February Recap, and a trip preview

As expected, it was a light month.  On the positive side, the guitar amp is out of the shop and sounding incredible. So barring any unforeseen expenses, I should be back to mailing out pretty soon. We're also only a month away from the start of baseball season, so Frisco runs should start happening pretty soon too.

FEBRUARY 1 – Dallas Renegades Practice
Lance Dunbar, 3/3
Eric Dungey, 2/2
Landry Jones, 4/4
Frank Alexander, 1/1
Daryl “Moose” Johnston, 3/3
Greer Martini, 2/2
Sean Price, 1/1
Hau’Oli Kikaha, 4/4
Derron Smith, 2/3
Bob Stoops, 1/1
Tre Watson, 2/2

FEBRUARY 7
Rick Wilson, c/o business, 1/1, 1 year

FEBRUARY 19
Brad Maxwell, c/o home, 4/4, 1 month

FEBRUARY 21
Ken Holtzman, c/o home, 1/1, 1 month

FEBRUARY 22
Terry Labonte, c/o home, 4/4, 10 months

FEBRUARY 25
Ryan Reed, c/o team, 3/3, 10 months

I'm also looking at doing another graphing mini-trip with Arron in early June. We can catch Corpus Christi at Midland, Las Vegas at El Paso, Salt Lake City at Albuquerque, and Midland at Amarillo all in a four day span on June 3 through June 6. So that's pencilled in on the calendar. It's a good holdover until the 2022 National trip.

Speaking of that, we're now less than a year away from the 2021 Topps Heritage set being released with the 1972 design. I plan to go nuts on this set with TTM and IP and trading to get as much signed as I can in the base set, the high-numbers set, and the minor league set. I already have an improbable piece of work with the 1972 set project; I might as well add more to the Sisyphusian task.

Help me out here fans/collectors: what's my best way of doing this? Buy a hobby case? Retail case? Blaster case? Just grab a few complete sets off eBay? Snag a bunch of base lots from people breaking cases? Maybe a combination of a blaster case plus a box or two of hobby or retail?

I'm not looking to make a killing on inserts or SPs or anything like that, but I'd like at least two complete base sets, preferably three or four just for an overabundance of preparedness. And I'd like to do it in the most cost-effective way possible, knowing I'll have to lather-rinse-repeat in the fall with the high-number and minor league sets.

Friday, January 31, 2020

January Update

Very light month. Had a bunch of car repairs and my new guitar amp is in the shop too, so any spare money has gone toward those instead of mailing stuff out. On the positive side, most of my Canadian requests have come back successfully

JANUARY 3
Bob Baun, c/o home, 4/4, 3 weeks
Dick Duff, c/o home, 5/3, 3 weeks, added a short note and signed photo
Brad Park, c/o Bruins Alumni, 3/3, 2 months

JANUARY 6
Tyrone Bogues, c/o home, 4/4, 1 year

JANUARY 7
Bobby Rousseau, c/o work, 4/3, 1 month, added signed photo
Reggie Leach, c/o home, 2/2, 1 month
Leo Boivin, c/o home, 2/2, 1 month

JANUARY 9
Larry Hillman, c/o home, 4/4, 1 month

JANUARY 11
Gilles Gilbert, c/o home, 3/2, 1 month, signed protective index card

JANUARY 13
Pete Koegel, c/o home, 2/1, 2 weeks, signed protective index card

JANUARY 21
Rogatien Vachon, c/o home, 4/4, 2 months

JANUARY 22
Marcel Dionne, c/o work, 1/1, 3 weeks, $10

JANUARY 25 - Rangers' Peek At The Park
Tyler Phillips, 1/1
Taylor Hearn, 1/1
Ivan Rodriguez, 1/1
Willie Calhoun, 3/3

JANUARY 28
Murray Costello, c/o home, 2/1, 1 month, added a short note

Dallas' XFL team has an event tomorrow that I'm going to hit up. Looks like my major card batch is getting here in time despite having a SportLots dealer who decided to sit on my order for a while.  Players I'm hoping to get: Moose Johnston, Jim Jeffcoat, Bob Stoops, Simmie Cobbs, Landry Jones, Jonathan Massaquoi, Lance Dunbar, Cameron Artis-Payne, Derron Smith, Hauoli Kikaha, Sean Price, James Quick, Eric Dungey, Tre Watson, Greer Martini.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Capping off 2019 and previewing 2020

And starting 2020 as well!

Winters are always light on the IP front, especially with the Rangers being so woefully underprepared for the Toy Drive. I didn't go this year. I heard they didn't announce who was in what group until people were already in line inside. I have never understood why the organization has such absolute disdain for its fans.

I did at least get to go to a practice for the new XFL team and got a few there. I might have to see about going and graphing some of their games. Several former NFLers are on teams' rosters, coaching staves, and front offices. And I know I have cards of a few. I'll give a rundown at the end of the post.

DECEMBER 5
Johnny Bucyk, c/o Bruins Alumni, 3/3, 3 weeks
Casey Cox, c/o home, 4/4, 2 weeks

DECEMBER 6
Don Money, c/o home, 4/4, 3 months
Terry Harper, c/o home, 2/2, 1 month

DECEMBER 7
Ken Hodge, c/o home, 2/2, 3 weeks - He signed one on the back and added a note that Ed Westfall is depicted on the front

DECEMBER 9
Bill Baker, c/o home, 2/2, 3 weeks

DECEMBER 12
Jim "Mudcat" Grant, c/o home, 1/1, 3 weeks, $10

DECEMBER 13
Jim Craig, c/o home, 3/2, 1 month
Rob McClanahan, c/o home, 2/2, 1 months

DECEMBER 14
Bryan McCabe, c/o Florida Panthers, 4/4, 1 month

DECEMBER 14 - Dallas Renegades XFL practice
Stacy Coley - 2/2
Jim Jeffcoat - 3/3, 5/5

DECEMBER 21
Steve Christoff, c/o home, 2/2, 1 month
Bruce Savage, c/o home, 7/6, 1 month

DECEMBER 23
Mario Andretti, c/o home, 1/1, 3 months

DECEMBER 24
Ed Westfall, c/o Bruins Alumni, 3/3, 6 weeks

JANUARY 3
Brad Park, c/o Bruins Alumni, 3/3, 2 months
Dick Duff, c/o home, 5/3, 3 weeks to Canada
Bob Baun, c/o home, 4/4, 3 weeks to Canada

I also got my new guitar amp bought. A nice Craigslist find netted me what appears based on the serial number to be a 1975 Fender Twin Reverb. At the very least it's a silverface with no tail on the Fender logo and the push-pull master volume knob to turn the overdrive on and off-- so 1974-1980. New caps and tubes on it, and I love the sound it gets. I've tried all my guitars through it just clean without pedals. And I still have about $200 left to spend on other pedals and/or a keyboard.

Or stamps. Maybe stamps. Yeah, probably stamps. $50 for stamps, $25 for a noise gate pedal, and $125 for a keyboard. I like that. (EDIT: I just ordered the noise gate pedal)

So, XFL. I'm sure there are more than these guys, but just off a cursory reading of the rosters, here are guys that are involved and that I'm relatively certain have cards...

DALLAS: Daryl "Moose" Johnston, Jim Jeffcoat, Landry Jones, Stacy Coley, Simmie Cobbs
DC: Ray Hamilton, Kurt Gouveia, Tyree Jackson, Cardale Jones, Donnel Pumphrey, Malachi Dupre, Eli Rogers, Sam Montgomery, Scooby Wright, Matt Elam, Orson Charles
HOUSTON: Chris Miller, Connor Cook, Akrum Wadley, Andre Williams, Sammie Coates, Jalen Saunders, Kony Ealy, Ed Reynolds
LOS ANGELES: Winston Moss, Mike Wilson, Jerry Fontenot, Pepper Johnson, Otis Smith, Martin Bayless, Josh Johnson, Keyarris Garrett, KD Cannon, Jordan Smallwood, Nick Novak
NEW YORK: CJ Ah You, Cris Dishman, Matt McGloin, EJ Bibbs
SEATTLE: Jim Zorn, Mike Riley, BJ Daniels, Chase Litton, Austin Proehl, Keenan Reynolds, Cyril Richardson, Stansly Maponga, Will Sutton
ST. LOUIS: Jonathan Hayes, Chuck Long, Az Hakim, Chris Crocker, Jordan Ta'amu, Taylor Heinicke, Christine Michael, Daniel Braverman, Jordan Lasley, L'Damian Washington, Terrance Williams, Will Hill, Marquette King
TAMPA BAY: Jerry Glanville, Aaron Murray, Rannell Hall, KJ Maye, DeAndre Goolsby, Jalen Collins

St. Louis is pretty stacked and play Dallas' home opener on February 9. I might look into that and see about how much tickets are and what I have in the way of cards. At the very least, there might be some solid TTM opportunities.

Winter Caravan dates and places are out-- mostly at the Miller Tavern at Texas Live on Thursday nights, and midweek afternoons at a few Whataburger and Comerica Bank branches. The only weekend event is the annual Frisco event on Saturday January 18. Last year you were limited to ONE autograph line. No thanks. I might check out the Thursdays since it's right up the road. We'll see when they decide to announce what players will be there.

Last but not least, my TTMCast appearance is now online!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Coming soon: a podcast appearance!

Back in December 2016 my friend Lee messaged me asking about the possibility of doing an autograph-related podcast. I liked the idea though it had been years since I had done one and I didn't really know how to do one with solid autograph-related content. And things just got busy with my joining a band and him getting married and having a kid, so we both just kind of forgot about it.

Enter Jeff Baker.  Jeff is from Massachusetts and is a longtime collector who has gotten back into TTMing recently. Back in January of this year, he started putting together a weekly-ish podcast about TTM collecting, simply called TTMCast. On it, he has interviewed various collectors, players, and hobby bigwigs about all things sports collecting, but with an emphasis on TTM autographs. Come of the names you may recognize: Rich Mueller of Sports Collectors Daily, Scott Kozlowski of Sports Card Forum, collectors like Nick Diunte, Paul Miles, and Scott Lomoglio, author and former ultimate Jose Canseco supercollector Tanner Jones, and guys you may have written to like John Bucyk, Bob Lilly, and Jim Kaat.

TTMCast linked up with SCF to cross-promote each of their sites and projects and so when I saw it linked on SCF, I knew I had to check it out. I also got in contact with Jeff and said if he needed an interview subject that I was more than willing to jump on board, and so we set one up for early December.

Long story short, We had a good long chat about the hobby last night, and it should be coming up online in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, I highly recommend checking out past episodes of the podcast. All are available on his site and they're great for collectors of any sport, and at any level from the seasoned veteran collector all the way down to the newest of the newcomers.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

November (and early December) 2019

I'm sure a few of these names will need clarification, so I'll just get that out of the way now.

As you probably know by now, I'm a musician. I played bass and keyboards in a band called Leisuresuit Salesmen when I was in 8th and 9th grade for a talent show and New Year's Eve party, drums in a band called 45 Percent for my high school's variety show as a senior, drums (with some keyboard, guitar, bass, and vocal contributions) in CC40 in college (not the CC40 Blues Band that comes up first on Google, but a short-lived punk/alternative project from Boston that had the name long before they did), and drums and guitar with Death Before Breakfast for a few years. Recently I joined a new project called The Nothing. I was in my high school's orchestra as a percussionist. I also play a little mandolin and possibly could still play some trombone if I tried. I might record some solo stuff that I've written, and maybe some covers of some Great Lakes folk songs.

Anyways, my biggest influences and favorite bands list would likely change a lot from day to day, but the Top Five always tend to be Guns N' Roses, Weezer, Dropkick Murphys, the Funk Brothers (Motown's backing band), and the New Bomb Turks. You probably know the first two reasonably well, perhaps the third. The fourth is a little more esoteric since they were rarely credited-- the Motown marketing machine tended to concentrate on the singers while the musicians were left largely uncredited until Marvin Gaye released What's Going On, and then got pretty well screwed over by the label moving to Los Angeles with no warning given to them. Several of them found out by showing up to play and finding a note on the door. The Brothers finally started getting recognition on a wider scale with the release of the book and documentary Standing In The Shadows Of Motown. Only two of them are still living: guitarist Joe Messina and percussionist Jack Ashford.

Anyways, the last one, the New Bomb Turks, are a garage punk band of my fellow Clevelanders who assembled in Columbus, OH in the early 90s and accidentally kicked off the garage rock revival of the late 90s and early 00s. Without the album !!Destroy-Oh-Boy!!, there's a good chance you wouldn't know The Hives, The Hellacopters, The Vines, The Strokes, The White Stripes, The Black Keys, The Dandy Warhols, The (International) Noise Conspiracy, and a ton more. It wasn't until I was in high school, around 2000 or so, that I really started getting into punk rock. The Turks parted ways not long after, with their final album coming in 2003. And since I had parents who believed you might fall off the edge of the earth if you go west of Euclid, I never got out to many (any) shows.

Over the next 15 years, NBT would occasionally get together and play a couple shows, do a short tour, play a festival, whatever. None came near me though. The closest was Austin when I was in Wichita Falls, but having close to no disposable income at the time and having to work on weekends, I had to miss it.

So when I found out they were going to open for Rev. Horton Heat in Detroit and Chicago with the Voodoo Glow Skulls (both of whom I saw back in February together in Dallas), I knew I had to try to go. Long story short: we went to both shows, I got an album signed by two members, got one of the drummer's sticks, got called out from the stage by their lead singer in Chicago, and then had him swipe my hat and beat a couple people with it in Detroit. Awesome show, 10/10 would recommend. My only complaint is they did not play Defiled.

So, when you're asking yourself "Who are Eric Davidson, Jim Weber, and Sam Brown?" now you know. I missed having Brown and bassist Matt Reber sign my album, but I'm sure I'll get them eventually.

I also was able to get my grandfather's 12-string guitar from my uncle when we passed through Michigan. I need a new high G string (tee-hee-hee, yeah yeah, laugh it up) since it broke when I tuned it, but aside from that it's good.

NOVEMBER 9
Dave Schultz, c/o Hammer Enterprises, 2/2, 1 month, included fee of $10 per

NOVEMBER 12
Curtis Granderson, c/o Marlins ST, 1/1, 9 months

NOVEMBER 15
Ty Dillon, c/o Germain Racing, 4/4, 6 months
Bobby Knoop, c/o home, 3/3, 6 weeks

NOVEMBER 18
Nick Fotiu, c/o home, 2/2, 1 week
Ted Harris, c/o home, 3/2, 1 week, also signed protective index card

NOVEMBER 19
Tony Oliva, c/o Twins ST, 1/1, 9 months

NOVEMBER 20
Bobby Hebert, c/o home, 4/4, 1 week, personalized all

NOVEMBER 21
Phil Roberto, c/o home, 3/2, 1 week, added signed photo
Eric Nesterenko, c/o home, 3/3, 1 week
Jim Pappin, c/o home, 2/2, 1 week

NOVEMBER 22
Bob Froese, c/o home, 4/4, 1 week

NOVEMBER 23
Bert Marshall, c/o home, 3/3, 2 weeks

NOVEMBER 24 - Dallas Card Show
Rocket Ismail, 1/1

NOVEMBER 25
Dave Keon, c/o home, 4/4, 2 weeks
Ralph Backstrom, c/o home, 4/4, 2 weeks

NOVEMBER 26
Harry Sinden, c/o home, 1/2, 2 weeks, kept the second card
Don Marshall, c/o home, 3/3, 2 weeks
Fred Stanfield, c/o home, 2/2, 1 week
Alexei Yashin, c/o home, 2/2, 1 week
John Harrington, c/o home, 2/2, 1 week

NOVEMBER 29
Jim Rutherford, c/o team, 3/3, 3 weeks
Jim Schoenfeld, c/o home, 2/2, 2 weeks
Grant Mulvey, c/o home, 2/2, 2 weeks
Joe Watson, c/o home, 2/2, 2 weeks
Steve Janaszak, c/o home, 3/2, 1 week, also signed protective index card

NOVEMBER 29 - Voodoo Glow Skulls, New Bomb Turks, Rev. Horton Heat concert
Eric Davidson, 1/1

NOVEMBER 30
Mike Davis, c/o home, 3/3, 2 years
Mark Wells, c/o home, 3/2, 2 weeks, also added signed business card, paid $5 per
Phil Verchota, c/o home, 2/2, 2 weeks
Craig Patrick, c/o home, 2/2, 2 weeks

NOVEMBER 30 - Voodoo Glow Skulls, New Bomb Turks, Rev. Horton Heat concert
Jim Weber, 1/1
Sam Brown, concert-used drum stick

DECEMBER 2
Mike Anderson, c/o home, 4/4, 2 weeks

DECEMBER 3
Jack Ashford, c/o home, 1/1, 2 months

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Two-month update

I got a little busy: joined a new band, had the find of a lifetime while sorting which I'll get to at the end, and am preparing for a couple trips later this month. So I'll sneak in this update while I have half a moment.

SEPTEMBER 6
Jaime Jarrin, c/o home, 2/2, 1 week
Carlton Fisk, c/o home, 1/1, 2 weeks, $40

SEPTEMBER 7
Dick Tracewski, c/o home, 3/3, 2 weeks
Joe Tait, c/o home, 3/3, 2 weeks

SEPTEMBER 9
Monte Moore, c/o home, 2/2, 2 weeks
Dave Lemonds, c/o home, 2/2, 2 weeks
Steve Zungul, c/o home, 1/1, 2 months

SEPTEMBER 10
Steve Brye, c/o home, 3/3, 3 weeks
Enrico Ciccone, c/o Quebec Parliament, 2/2, 1 month
Mark Karpun, c/o home, 1/1, 3 weeks

SEPTEMBER 11
Fred Cambria, c/o home, 2/2, 1 week

SEPTEMBER 12
Syd O'Brien, c/o home, 3/3, 1 week

SEPTEMBER 13
Bob Heise, c/o home, 3/3, 1 week

SEPTEMBER 14
Al Spangler, c/o home, 3/3, 2 weeks

SEPTEMBER 17
Denny Matthews, c/o home, 2/2, 3 weeks

SEPTEMBER 19
Booker T. Jones, c/o home, 1/1, 2 weeks

SEPTEMBER 26
Charlie Hough, c/o home, 4/4, 6 weeks
Bob Gallagher, c/o home, 3/3, 3 weeks
Mel Behney, c/o home, 2/2, 1 month

OCTOBER 1 - Rangers Development Camp
David Garcia 1/1
Josh Jung 1/1
Julio Pablo Partinez 2/4
Jonathan Ornelas 2/4
Leody Taveras 2/4
Cole Winn 4/4

OCTOBER 5 - Rangers Development Camp
Sam Huff 1/1
Josh Jung 1/1
Davis Wendzel 1/1
Cole Winn 2/2
Leody Taveras 1/1
Julio Pablo Martinez 2/2
Jonathan Ornelas 2/2
David Garcia 1/1

OCTOBER 15
Hal Lanier, c/o home, 3/3, 6 months
Mason McReakin, c/o home, 4/2, 1 week, added a signed IC and a note

OCTOBER 22
Gene Clines, c/o home, 1/1, 1 week

OCTOBER 25
Ted Giannoulas, c/o home, 3/2, 2 weeks, added a note

OCTOBER 29
Tony Esposito, c/o home, 1/1, 2 weeks, $10

NOVEMBER 1
Pete Mahovlich, c/o home, 2/1, 2 weeks, $10, added an extra signed card

So yeah, quite a hodge-podge in there. Three that I paid for, which I rarely do, but I had some spare cash on hand and needed them for sets. Two IP outings. Fifteen new additions to the 1972 Topps project (plus three I bought on eBay). Two for the Topps/OPC Archives hockey set. Two for the MISL project. One for the Fleer Throwback hockey set. And three just for the hell of it. Clines finished the 1971 Topps dual with Cambria, McReakin pitched in the Braves org in 2018 and is a member of the Facebook autograph groups I run, a well-known mascot in Giannoulas (The Chicken!), and Jones is my first music-related success.

So, the new band. We're called The Nothing. Right now I'll likely be splitting time on drums and guitar. I'm most comfortable on drums, but as long as I can stick to rhythm guitar then I'm competent on six strings. We're still looking for a bassist and hopefully a lead guitarist (so that I can be solely on rhythm and the lead singer can stick to just vocals instead of both vocals and rhythm guitar). I do need to get a better guitar amp soon though.

Which brings me to the find of a lifetime.

With the baseball autographing season winding down in September, I figured it was time for a cleanup. It had been a couple years since I had sorted any new additions into my inventory of stuff. I had several boxes of unsorted/barely sorted cards across pretty much every sport, whether purchases, gifts, or stuff I had pulled from inventory and failed to get signed. So to clean up, organize, and just overall make sure I had my shit together so that I didn't forget something when pulling for an outing, I decided to spend a few months sorting. We're in mid-November and I'm almost done-- I just have to finish hockey R-Z and soccer. I'll be done by Thanksgiving.

Anyways, as I was searching and sorting, within the span of about 24 hours I found three BIG cards I didn't know I had, just sitting in boxes: Patrick Mahomes' 2017 Prizm RC, Mike Trout's 2012 Topps Heritage card...

... and the 2018 Topps Ronald Acuna Jr. bat-down photo variation.

I had pulled it from a random pack a while back. I remember even getting it in the pack and just going "Wow, an Acuna RC, cool" since this was not long after my friend Arron pulled the 2018 Pro Debut Acuna auto. I figured okay, maybe this would be a $5-10 card, not knowing about the photo variation. So I just stuck it in a box and forgot about it.

Over the next few months I forgot I had it, but saw a few posts on Facebook groups about the card heating up and going for big money and thinking to myself "Man, I never have pulls like that." So when I pulled it out from this random box, I was hyperventilating and close to shaking-- pretty sure my wife was about to dial 911.

I put it in a sleeve and case and immediately made preparations to run it over to Beckett-- along with the Trout, the Mahomes, my 1989 UD Griffey RC, and an old T-205 gold border tobacco card that my in-laws had given me.  A month later, I picked them up yesterday...

Mahomes: 9 overall with subs of 9.5/9.5/9/8.5 (I knew the centering was bad)
Griffey: 9 overall with subs of 9.5/9.5/9/9
Trout: 9 overall with subs of 9.5/9.5/9/8.5 (somehow the surface got knocked down)
T-205 Tom Downey: 1 overall, no subs, which I expected; I mostly just wanted to protect it in a slab

The Acuna came back as one of the 32 best in the population report. There is one Black Label 10, and 27 regular 10s. There are only four 9.5s that have subs of 10/10/9.5/9.5 including mine.


Considering the range of 9.5s have all gone for $400-600 over the last two months, I'm hoping the two 10 subs and two 9.5 subs will get me $1000. I mean really, you cannot get a better 9.5, and I've only seen two 10s come up for sale, both of which accepted a Best Offer on eBay so I don't know the actual price-- only that they were originally listed at $3000, $2300, and there's one up now at a price of $2350. PSA 10s are going in the $1500 range. I figure a BGS 9.5 with 10/10/9.5/9.5 subs has to be about equivalent to a PSA 10, right?

So, I figure that's how I'll get that new guitar amp.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Phantom Parallels: The Checklist Replacers

I'll have my September update coming in the next week or so. Got a crowded few days ahead of me including some baseball IP outings!

In almost every base set for four decades, Topps produced the loathsome checklist card.  No one wanted to pull it from a pack: it didn't feature a player, just a list of who was on what card. In the early days, kids would mark them off and use them for their intended purpose. In later days, everyone wanted a 100% mint condition set, so it was little more than space-filling junk.

1992 birthed the brainchild (or spawned the brainbastard, depending on your outlook) of the parallel set. Take the base set, tweak something but change nothing else, and whammo, new tough-to-find collectible! Topps Gold was the first to do this before every company followed suit and now today you have the crazy rainbow chasers who need every single variety of a guy's Chrome or Prizm or whatever card.

So of course, the last thing ANYONE would want is for their short-printed parallel that they pull from a pack to be the checklist card. Instead of leaving gaps in their sets, Topps printed what I call the phantom parallels: inserting players to replace the checklists, but those players didn't have a regular card.

I'm always interested in oddball cards to get autographed so I started to wonder how many of these would be possible to get signed.  I haven't gone that far, but I did finally assemble a list of who the phantom parallels were in each set.

1992 BB Gold
131: Terry Mathews
264: Rod Beck
366: Tony Perezchica
527: Terry McDaniel
658: John Ramos
787: Brian Williams
132T: Kerry Woodson

1992 FB Gold
109: Freeman McNeil
218: David Daniels
316: Chris Hakel
341: Ottis Anderson
452: Shawn Moore
563: Mike Mooney
759: Curtis Whitley

1992-93 BK Gold
197: Jeff Sanders
198: Elliot Perry
395: David Wingate
396: Carl Herrera

1992-93 HK Gold
525: Alan Conroy
526: Jeff Norton
527: Rob Robinson
528: Adam Foote

* * * * * * * * * *
1993 BB Gold
394: Bernardo Brito
395: Jim McNamara
396: Rich Sauveur
823: Keith Brown
824: Russ McGinnis
825: Mike Walker

1993 FB Gold
329: Terance Mathis
330: John Wojciechowski
659: Pat Chaffey
660: Milton Mack

1993-94 BK Gold
197: David Wingate
198: Frank Johnson
395: Will Perdue
396: Mark West

1993-94 HK Gold
263: Martin Lapointe
264: Kevin Miehm
527: Myles O’Connor
528: Jamie Leach

* * * * * * * * * *
1994 BB Gold
395: Bill Brennan
396: Jeff Bronkey
791: Mike Cook
792: Dan Pasqua

1994-95 BK Spectralight
197: Keith Jennings
198: Mark Price
395: Chris Webber
396: Mitch Richmond

1994-95 HK Special Effects
274: Rudy Poeschek
275: Michael Peca
549: John Druce
550: Matt Martin

* * * * * * * * * *
1995 BB Cyberstats
395: Darryl Strawberry
396: Luis Alicea

It doesn't look like Topps did any phantoms for the 1994 Football Special Effects set. Shame, as I'd love to have seen some punters or long snappers represented. The parallel craze died (for Topps at least) following the 1995 Series 1 baseball.  Of course Pacific ran the concept into the ground in the late 90s, but they also didn't print checklist cards in the base set. Topps got smart and eventually made the checklists as a random one-per-pack insert that wasn't part of the set, then took from Upper Deck and put them back in the set but put a player or something interesting on the front with the list on the back.

There were a few similar to this in the O-Pee-Chee baseball sets that I'll need to assemble a list of as well. I know Delino Deshields and Nate Minchey both had a 1988 card after the Expos drafted them (Deshields replacing Earnest Riles and Minchey replacing the Nolan Ryan Record Breaker card), and there were several cards replacing the All-Stars in the 1992 set. O-Pee-Chee also typically denoted trades on their cards, such as Dennis Lamp's 1987 card that shows him as a Blue Jays but has Chief Wahoo and a "Now with Indians" notation, and even gave Blue Jays catcher Rick Cerone his own 1977 card instead of just stashing him on the Rookie Catchers card that Topps had, where he was still with the Indians. Granted, the OPC set usually was an abbreviated set rather than a true parallel and a guy might be on card 630 in Topps, but then on 390 in OPC. But aside from that, the cards look the same. So finding a card that wasn't in the Topps set but was in the OPC set is kind of a phantom in its own right.

EDIT: There's a blog on the OPC variations!

Of course, some of these guys might not sign, and some-- such as Rod Beck and Terry Mathews-- may even be dead. But if you're looking for some oddball items to potentially get signed, look no further than the phantom parallel.