Friday, July 12, 2019

Card Spotlight: 7-12-19

1990 Topps #569 - Ivan Calderon

Somewhere after 1987, I didn't purchase baseball cards too much. I think that was the phase where comic books took over more and music became more of a priority in my life.

I still went to games. I still was a die hard White Sox fan, but I just didn't seek out cards, for whatever reason. One day, in 1990, I went into my local drugstore and decided to see what the new Topps cards looked like. I bought a pack and opened them in the parking lot, on my bike. Ivan Calderon was in that pack.

I thought the gradient and the dots were an exciting design choice. This one pack and this one card rekindled my passion for collecting cards. I don't know what would have happened if there wasn't a White Sox card in that pack. There was also a Nolan Ryan 5,000 card in there too that piqued my interest. The Nolan Ryan card was cool, but if there wasn't a White Sox card in there, it may not have held my interest long enough to consider purchasing another pack.

It just goes to show that any card can spark something that inspires you to collect. I was only in it to collect the White Sox team set, but got sucked into collecting everything again. I fizzled out around the strike and got back in again thirteen years later. You never can tell where inspiration is going to strike or what is going to create that initial spark.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

2019 Topps Total Wave 1

Topps Total made a comeback in 2019 as an online exclusive. Many remember Topps Total as a behemoth set that came out for a few years in the mid-2000s. It was a no-frills release with a lot of players. For a few fringe bench players, this would be their only card during their playing career.

Topps has resurrected Topps Total as an online exclusive on demand limited window print. There must be another catch too, right? Yes. It is only sold in packs of ten cards for $10. Each wave is one hundred cards. There are three parallels of each card, numbered to ten, five and one. Plus, there are scattered autographs that might pop up, but not of every player.

Response to purchasing directly from Topps has been lukewarm, at best. This only means that the value will be potentially more with a limited print run. That being said, with no upgrades to the basic set from the mid-2000s, I'm not sure collectors will pay top dollar for this set.

The White Sox have three cards in wave one.

58 - James McCann
75 - Alex Colome
86 - Adam Engel

I liked the idea of Topps Total in the mid-2000s. The reappearance of the brand sparked joy in my heart, but like most decent sets, when they are relaunched, the company tinkers with the integrity just enough to where it looks the same, but it feels quite different. Ten cards for $10 is pretty steep for this re-imagined brand. I understand that you have a chance at an autograph or a card that is numbered to ten or lower. You know what? You have that same chance with most packs today and those can be had for $3 or lower. When you factor in the lower print run, you can probably, at best, tack on another dollar or two to the price of a pack.

The idea is sound, but like most other card sets that are rebranded, the execution leaves something to be desired. The print run for wave one is 5,837. That isn't as limited as most numbered parallels. Time will tell if these hold their value, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Card Spotlight: 7-5-19

1965 Topps #208 - Tommy John

On January 20, 1965, Tommy John was traded from the Indians to the White Sox in a three team trade also involving the Kansas City Athletics. The trade came early enough for Topps to include Tommy as being on the White Sox, but late enough that Topps had to use a Cleveland Indians photo. Still, this would mark the first White Sox card for Tommy John.

Tommy would spend seven seasons with the White Sox before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Dick Allen. Tommy would pitch until the 1989 season, at age forty-six.

Post career, Tommy had a son who died by suicide in 2010. He has since become involved with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. My uncle committed suicide in 2007 and I have participated in the AFSP Out of the Darkness walks in the Chicagoland area. Tommy has been a special guest speaker for several years, usually giving a speech before the walk begins.

It's nice to see Tommy towards the beginning of his career here. He spent parts of two seasons with Cleveland before coming to the White Sox. Tommy is now mostly identified by the surgery that bears his name, being a pioneer patient for that specialty. It's sometimes easy to forget that Tommy had twenty-six year career in the majors. Sometimes we just need to be reminded.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Card Spotlight: 6-28-19

1988 Topps Big #105 - Greg Walker

I will readily admit that I did not like these cards when they first came out. I did not care for the size and they felt cheap, like cards I would pick up in tiny box sets at K-Mart. The cards would always get destroyed because I could not store them properly with my other standard sized cards. There's a reason why they called these cards big. It wasn't because they were mini. They weren't quite super sized though.

I have a much better appreciation for these cards now. Access to better archiving materials make adding these larger than standard size cards fairly easy.

That's a nice big profile picture of Greg Walker on the front. The background has a nice action shot in old Comiskey Park. I still miss that place, but I get to revisit it in pictures and baseball cards.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Card Spotlight: 6-21-19

2019 Topps Throwback Thursday #148 - Eloy Jimenez

I have a love/hate relationship with on demand cards. I like the aspect of having cards printed just for me and the limited time part of the equation. On demand cards have produced some cool cards. They also produce some duds, but the more of a dud the card is, the more collectible it will be because of an insanely low print run.

There are good and bad in this business model. I'm not a fan of the pricing, especially since I only collect certain players and one team. On the other hand the pricing isn't so bad because I focus on a very narrow collection.

The Throwback Thursdays are hit or miss, but usually very interesting. Each week a different set from the past is featured and a handful of players are selected for inclusion. It's not limited to just baseball sets. Anything is fair game, from other sports to movie card sets.

This week's set is based on 1989 Topps Football. I'll take their word for it. I don't really collect football cards, so my knowledge on design and corresponding year is very limited for that sport. The design is very simplistic and that suits the card well. It's not as intricate as the 1989 baseball design, but it works here.

I appreciate the Throwback Thursday cards. It's always a fun way to start a Thursday to see what design Topps will pull out and which players are included. The only thing I'm not crazy about is price. A usual set of six cards will cost $20. You can't get individual cards. It is only sold by the set. This is where the secondary market is your friend. Usually the White Sox end up on the lower end of that week's cards, so I can usually find most White Sox cards for a bargain.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

2019 Topps Series Two

Here we go again! It's the middle of June and that means Topps Series Two comes out. I have mostly positive things to say about Topps splitting their flagship into series again. It's not the way I grew up, but it helps give a nice boost in the middle of the season. Just when you're feeling fed up at finding those last few cards in packs (unless you purchase or trade singles), BAM... new cards, same design.

Here's the thing... I'm not sick of the design... yet. It's usually between the release of series two and the All-Star break that I'm finally fed up with seeing the design. It's hasn't happened... yet. It most certainly will. It always does. Not even winning a hobby box has lessened my appeal for the design.

Perhaps, it's because I'm not investing my usual amount of time into the hobby because of family and work obligations. It could be that I'm still in the middle of organizing my collection, so my attention is focused on many different sets. Maybe it's a solid design that doesn't overstay its welcome.

The White Sox have ten cards in the set.

377 - Yoan Moncada
403 - Ivan Nova
409 - Nate Jones
527 - Guaranteed Rate Field
577 - Nicky Delmonico
599 - Daniel Palka
613 - Welington Castillo
636 - Jace Fry
664 - Lucas Giolito
670 - Eloy Jimenez

There are no known variations for the White Sox. It's kind of a relief. I'm still trying to collect series one variations. There is a nice Carlton Fisk variation, but he's with the Red Sox.

Excitement bookends the checklist here. Yoan Moncada starts off the series two White Sox cards, while Lucas Giolito and Eloy Jimenez close it out. In between is filled with solid, but not electric players. One way or another, there have been hiccups in their careers. Nate Jones keeps getting injured. Nicky Delmonico and Daniel Palka both got off to great starts and then didn't adjust quickly enough when the league adjusted to them. Ivan Nova needs more consistency, but he accomplishes the role he's asked to do most times. Jace Fry is still young. And a baseball park rounds out the middle of the pack.

This should be a quick and easy base set to collect. Sometimes it's good to have an easy set.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Card Spotlight: 6-14-19

2013 Bowman Sterling Prospects Autographs #BSAP-CH - Courtney Hawkins

I wanted to believe in Courtney Hawkins. From the back flip that he did on draft day, I wanted to believe in him. The White Sox gave up on Courtney in 2018, releasing him. He has since gone on to play in the Independent Leagues and in the minors with the Cincinnati Reds and currently in the minors with the San Francisco Giants.

I still hope he gets to play in the majors one day. Most likely it will be a cup of coffee, but hopefully something more. Don't stop chasing your dream, Courtney!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

2019 Panini Prizm

You pretty much know by now what you're getting with Panini Prizm. You're getting another chromium product with shiny colored parallels. It's nothing spectacular anymore. It chips easily, but still, there's something alluring about chromium sets. Even if the design remind you a little of some Topps Finest designs. I guess there's only so many combinations of design before things start to look similar. I mean, eventually. Right? Maybe.

For those who like the chromium products, this will offer few surprises. The most eye catching aspect of this release is the over twenty parallels available. Isn't this one of the factors of how Donruss lost their license? I think it was. This is definitely a situation where team logos would help make this set a little more appealing.

The three hundred card set has few White Sox players in it. Half of the White Sox cards are in tier one.

The White Sox have six cards in the set.

46 - Michael Kopech
56 - Yoan Moncada
90 - Jose Abreu
155 - Carlos Rodon
166 - Tim Anderson
299 - Frank Thomas

This is not a bad set, but there is nothing other than the mind-blowing amount of parallels that set it apart. When you have to rely on parallels to make your product stand out, it's not a great product. It's an average one, which reeks of blandness. Sure, it's cool and shiny, but that does not equate awesomeness.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Card Spotlight: 6-7-19

1931 W517 #43 - Art Shires

Pre World War II cards are always interesting. Economic fluctuations and various material shortages account for spotty releases and other anomalies. There are some years that I cannot find a single solitary White Sox card release. During the United States involvement in WWII, materials were diverted for the war effort and the country had their obvious focus on other things.

Another reason for lack of years without a release would be that some releases were strung out over several years. Some would even put out the same set every few years with a few tweaks and updates. There are still debates in the forums on what card came out in what year and which version was which year. We can only sleuth and make educated guesses. Anyone involved with the processes of those cards are long deceased.

People like Jefferson Burdick helped catalog a great deal of these sets, but those lists were never perfect. Cards still are discovered today that never made those lists. Variations and other oddities still come to light. Time is a cruel mistress and the longer we travel past these releases, the harder it is to properly catalog. Although, some companies never release their full checklists today, which is even more annoying. These present day companies have no excuse not to release the full checklist.

Depression era cards are one of the most overlooked of the bunch, with the exception of Goudey. Most sets were strip cards that were cheaply produced and cheaply bought. They were meant to be hand cut, so the quality really varies in these cards.

The most exciting aspect for me is the sheer amount of players that never get cards anywhere but in these releases. Art Shires is a good example of this. Art played with three teams over a four year career. He only received three known card releases during his playing career. Two were with the White Sox and one was doctored to be on the Boston Braves, but used the same picture as on the W517 card, which he shared space with three other players.
Art has three postcards, one new card and one reprint card made well after his playing career was over. The postcards were made in 1966, the new card was in 1992 and the reprint was in 1997. Since then, nothing. That's why these cards fascinate me greatly. If you played anywhere from the Black Sox scandal until the end of the forties and you aren't a household name in the twenty-first century, you are largely forgotten.

These cards provide a window into that forgotten world. Someone had to play against Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig and Ted Williams.
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