National Catch-Up – Wood Edition

Just like I did with Maddux, Thomas and Gwynn, I am trying to use the looming NSCC as an excuse to show off some of the cards that I bought at my first National Convention back in 2015.  I have a bunch of cards from 4 years ago that still have not made their way onto the blog and so I’m rectifying that one player at a time.  I could do this several times over and still have cards left, but it must be done sometime.

That time is now.

L is Spanish for P

I’m starting off slow for this last installment of this temporary series. As I’ve said before, my first time around saw me buy cards that I wouldn’t have later.  If I saw this in a dime box, then sure, but I avoid most of those boxes as they don’t even have penny sleeves and I’m afraid of the condition.

Limited Edition Ague

Inserts that look like base cards are also low on the priority list.  Cards that have the team name scribbled across the taint should be even lower, and yet….

Indeed still a star at that point

Oh boy, this was the start of a certain kind of era in card design.  Horizontal cards with a honking chunk of meaningless space.  Occasionally used to also accommodate relics.  Design for the rare bits, let the masses deal with the rest.

Kerry Wood and a guy I would prefer to never look at

Alright, now we’ll start getting into the more typical card show fare.  Inserts that are highly unlikely to show their faces in trades?  Yes, please.

Kerry Wood and a guy I’m pretty indifferent about. Never peeling!

Insert parallels that have really high odds, but no market value beyond $1?  Oh, absolutely!

A few years late for the turn of the century

It’s great finding lower numbered cards in the mix as well.  It’s much easier to do with guys like Kerry Wood and relief pitchers, but I do get lucky with bigger names here and there.

Fan Club, not to be confused with Best of Fan Club

There are just so many random parallels to chase over the years, it’s no wonder that most of them are in dollar boxes.

Fleer Bootleg Stuff

You can find anything at the show, including second row tickets.  Back when tickets weren’t digital only.

Bringing the Recips

I’m going to end this little adventure with a non-refractor refractor.  These parallels are not very easy and I think they come less than 1/box.  I haven’t seen one yet that doesn’t have the blurry dot matrix printing for the numbers.  You know what, if that makes it less desirable for most and easier to buy for me, than I’m alright with that.

With this, I am dangerously close to showing all of the Kerry Wood cards I got way back in 2015.  I wonder how many more I will find in just about one week’s time.

National Catch-Up – Gwynn Edition

Just like I did with Maddux and Thomas, and as I will do one more time after this, I am trying to use the looming NSCC as an excuse to show off some of the cards that I bought at my first National Convention back in 2015.  I have a bunch of cards from 4 years ago that still have not made their way onto the blog and so I’m rectifying that one player at a time.  I could do this several times over and still have cards left, but it must be done sometime.

That time is now.

Eyes peeled for barely different parallels

Today I’m starting with one of the first, if not the first, insert parallel sets.  Also I think this was the first year where there was no gold in those gold medallions.

Follow the yellow swirl road

I’ve had this card for four years and if I saw it at the show, I still might accidentally buy it again because it’s hard to remember that I have something that looks as bland as this.

Pacific Illuminati

If it’s not shaped like a crown, then I’m less likely to care, but just as likely to still need.  What I really want to find at the show is some Prism parallels this time.

Big baller

Someone peeled this thingy already.  I’m going to be a weirdo with these mystery chrome things and try to collect the peeled bordered and unbordered (with refractors of each) and then also the unpeeled bordered and unbordered (because you can easily tell). I wonder if I’ll find any at this show.

I’m a doofus for Dufex

There’s no shortage of shiny stuff at the show, but it’s not too common to find earlier year shiny.  There are plenty more of these to chase as well.

Gimme more holograms

From here on out, we’re looking at nothing but die cuts.  Something I have to remember here is that there’s a gold version of this SPx. It’s not a very obvious difference.


Vinyl is making its comeback in society.  I personally don’t care too much as I’m not a music collector to any degree, but I will gladly take a die cut record card.

I wish this played a song

Five years later, Fleer does it again, but they updated things a bit and went the CD route.  Same effect, same colors, but worse text.

Fighting for the establishment

I bought a box of UD3 at one of the shows, but it was not this year with the die cuts. It was the one with virtually no inserts at all and it cost less than $10. It was fun, but this single card is even better.  I really don’t think I’ll find the lower numbered versions in my price range this year.

A Quick Sticker Trade From Dan

I need to get trading again, and I think I’ll be able to do that sometime after the National happens.  I know that I’ll have a lot more stuff to offer thanks to a massive surprise charity package that I won (more on that later) and of course the boxes of cards I plan to buy at the show.  Expect trade bait posts.

I have a few trades still in the works, but I’m slow in a lot of avenues in life.  Expect more of that in August.  But for today, I’m going to showcase a trade with Dan.  We’ve exchanged Topps stickers once before as we saw back in January. And, I have a feeling that we’ll be trading again sometime after I can finally get a 2019 want/trade list up and running.

Here’s what he sent me this time around.

Seems like these albums were all so long ago

All this amounts to 26 long-needed stickers added to my albums.  I’m not sure if Dan realized this at the time, but he is actually the first completed trade after instituting my charity policy.  I haven’t done a great job of updating those pages, or getting trades finalized either….  Still, those 26 stickers mean that I’m going to be giving $78 to the  Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Thank you very much, Dan for another great trade!  Sorry it takes so long for me to get my stinking act together sometimes!

National Catch-Up – Thomas Edition

Just like I did with Greg Maddux, and as I will do two more times after this, I am trying to use the looming NSCC as an excuse to show off some of the cards that I bought at my first National Convention back in 2015.  I have a bunch of cards from 4 years ago that still have not made their way onto the blog and so I’m rectifying that one player at a time.  I could do this several times over and still have cards left, but it must be done sometime.

A film roll with only one picture on it

We’ll start with a somewhat basic insert.  How many Randy Johnson collectors would have this on their want list?

Bat is oddly off-frame

Cards with unique styles and textures always stand out in the boxes. This has been bindered for a while, so I don’t remember if this actually had a texture or just looks like wood with gloss on top. I’m also too lazy to dig it out to check.

I’d prefer regular foilboard

I don’t fully recall if this was an insert or a subset. I think the basketball version, they were subset cards. Either way, I know that it’s not actually called “Number Crunchers.”

Like A ’98

Not every card I picked up was incredibly exciting. They can’t be. But they were still needs, usually inserts like this where it was worth spending however much to no longer wait for a trade partner to present a 20 year old card.

Dominate the dollar box

Dominators had lost their thrill by 1998.  That just means that I can find several copies on the floor no problem.

Still need 3 more for this year

Minis are pretty scarce at the shows from my experience.  That’s a shame, because I still need so many of those stupid things and you would think it would be the perfect place to pick some up for cheap.

Smile for no variations

This kind of mini is more common to find.  Still annoying to me from a storage standpoint, no matter how much I like the 1971 design. Heritage will be interesting next year.

I’m one of the few that liked Pinnacle’s reboot

There are two versions of these Team Pinnacle cards. He shares the card with Pujols on the other side.  Each has a version where they get the dufex treatment. I either only needed one by this time, or only found one. But it’s a good one.

Yes, marvel at the edges

I really could go on and on with Thomas cards I got at that specific show. And then go even further with my unposted 2017 haul, but I’ll stop here with something that was on my “Hit List” that no longer is (except for the other parallels, of course).  I love finding die cuts I need, and to have one be numbered to 1500 and available to me for only a buck (maybe $2, but I doubt it), is even better.  I’ll be looking for that gold press proof this year.

National Catch-Up – Maddux Edition

With the 2019 National fast approaching, I realized that I have some work to do.  Not only do I have to make sure that my want lists are completely up to date (and accessible easily through my phone on the show floor without an internet connection), but I have to get my supplies and any sort of battle plan in order.  On the blogging front, things have faltered a bit due to work concerns and other life commitments.  I have a lot of work to do with writing, especially when it comes to talking about cards I’ve purchased at the National.

Here I am on the cusp of hopefully purchasing hundreds of additional cards (so many dollar box finds that I still need) and yet looking back at my scans, there are dozens of cards from my first show in 2015 that have not made their way into this blog space.  At this point, I can’t necessarily wait to figure out a theme to tie them all together, so let’s just play a little catch-up.  I’m planning to do this with my main 4 collections (since I wasn’t collecting 2016 Cubs in 2015 – for obvious reasons – and I have actually shown all the Marmol and Dempster cards I got at that show by now). The big question mark is whether or not I’ll get this done before the 2019 show starts.

Probably not a card I would have bought in 2017

Neither of these pictures scream pure excitement to me.  I guess you can’t name your set “Upper Deck DMV Photo” or “Upper Deck Cordial Handshake.”

Possible ERA title as well

He’s caught in a little bit of a whirlpool, rather than a wave.  I guess Division titles are still considered to be titles. The Braves did have a flood of them.

and rip it

I’ll stand by my decision to call most of the early 2000s Fleer cards ugly.  It’s a dual sided card with a batter on the opposite side for ripping it.  That side is no better.

Why these pictures, though?

Oh boy, those are some unflattering pictures of these masters.  I wonder if this is Cy Young’s first chrome card.  Chrome RC!


This is the kind of card that I’m on high alert for at the show.   It’s relatively unassuming, and is technically a base card, but it’s numbered lower than /1000 so it’s worth spending the buck.


Of course, I also have to keep in mind that sometimes there are two versions, such as Braves and Cubs in 2005.  Having those wantlists up to date is key since it’s hard to remember all 1600+ Maddux cards I have and which ones I’ve seen but passed on and which I know about only.

Can’t tell, but this is the Craftsman insert

I love picking off cards from this era.  There are so many to chase, which a ton of different parallels and weird things going on.  In reality, it sounds annoying, but I think what I like is testing and expanding my knowledge of the era.  Plus a lot of this stuff is cheap these days.

Washed out picture

Prime Cuts is another one of those “high end” sets with the numbered base cards.  Yeah, there are Braves and Cubs versions of this as well. I only got the Cubs one at this show.

Back to Pure Excitement, I see

I’m always on the look out for shiny parallels.  When I’m at a booth, I like to pull cards that I think I might need and then do a quick sort and check my list and then put back cards I do have.  Cards like this will always go into the “to check” pile since there are so many colors.  I’m happy to have this one and I hope I can manage to find at least one more color this time around.  I guess you’ll find out in 2023.

Can’t Spell “Really Big Card Trade” Without GCRL – Part 5 of 5

I have a couple trade irons in the fire and recently got a couple packages from people as well.  I’ve been away for a couple weeks due to some work things and haven’t fully logged everything.  I also need to get some return packages together when I can find a little bit of a chance.  All in due time, I suppose.  As for right now, I don’t have the opportunity to go through cards for those things, but I can write.

So, allow me to welcome back cards from Jim, who was originally known for his blog GCRL (hence the title) and creator of several side blogs. He is now writing for cards as i see them.  As you know already, I completed a nice big trade with him late last year and you can catch the first part of the trade here, if you’d like. Second part here. Third part here. Fourth part here.

As promised, there is a rough theme to this final batch…or at least with most of them.

That helmet aligns with the arch pretty well

Some of these Gypsy Queen years blur together. All I can really say about this is that it’s not the year where the SP version is the image shifted over and zoomed in a few pixels.

Framing pitches

We’re starting a little bit of a theme for this last batch. Let’s start painting more than just corners with these art-based dealies.


I’m assuming that these are photo filters of some kind, at least on the main image. I like that there is less detail in the background, actually as it makes the player stand out more.

Who do you see?

No photo effect here. Just a very loose representation of the player. If I didn’t have the nameplate, I might be more inclined to guess Derrek Lee over Heyward.

It’s no Ichiro

Straight up painting with artist signature and everything.  The uniform and hat may look a little flat, but the face has nice dimension to it.

Future MVP runner-up

No artist signature on the front for this rebooted Gallery card.  I do appreciate the colored pencil work. That’s my mom’s medium of choice and it’s great to see details done well with it.


Alright, I’m out of art cards. Although, in a way, aren’t all cards art?  Makes you reflect like Albert, doesn’t it?

I miss the teal and silver

Anyway, here’s a golden opportunity for me to wrap up this trade series in a clever way, but I’m sure I’m going to blow it.

Don’t even need the foil nameplate

Jim, thank you once again for all the great cards and what turned out to be months worth of sporadic content.  Take a curtain call.  You’ve earned it.

Introducing the Jason Hammel Collection

This is part thirteen of a twenty-five part series chronicling my budding collections of the 2016 World Series champion Cubs.  Obviously, I’ve already starting showing off some of those cards, but I wanted to offer a formal introduction to the various players.  With my legacy player collections, I’m still going to attempt to show every single card on the blog, but with these new guys I’m taking a different approach as you’ll see here where I lump cards in one scan, and will probably skip many of the more basic cards I get unless I can get a good theme together.

With this installment, I’m now slightly over the half-way point in the series.  Jason Hammel is the only player that I collect that wasn’t part of the 2016 Cubs playoff rosters.  That was going to be my criteria for adding the collection, but honestly I wanted a replacement for Chapman and Hammel’s season was critical to getting us into the playoffs to begin with.

Here’s what I started with

Jason was drafted in a few different amateur drafts, but the one that stuck was in 2002 when he was taken in the 10th round by Tampa Bay.  It would take him a few years before he debuted with the Devil Rays in 2006.

Based on that start, I don’t think this was ever a highly sought after autograph

That year, he started 9 games but didn’t win a single one.  The 0-6 record and 7.77 ERA didn’t halt his career as we know.  He came back the following year and pitched in 24 games (starting 14) and earned his first win in September of 2007.

Didn’t stop companies from pumping out rookie cards

After a still not so great 2008 campaign, the Rays traded Hammel over to the Rockies for Aneury Rodriguez.  That proved to be a good thing for Jason.

The better of the two 2011 cards he has for some reason

In Colorado, he found a bit of a better groove and earning double digit wins in the first two seasons with them.  After regressing a bit, he was traded to the Orioles in 2012 and granted free agency in 2013.

Twice the base cards means twice the parallels

At that time, he signed with the Cubs for his first stint.  It was relatively short-lived as he was traded a couple months later to the Oakland A’s as a rental.  In free agency after that same season, he re-signed with the Cubs.

Not a whole lot of minis to go after at least

I’m going to jump ahead to 2016 where as a back of the rotation starter, he posted 15 wins and a WHIP of 1.2 and an ERA under 4.  It didn’t seem like Maddon had much confidence in him throughout the entire season and pulled him earlier than most other starters for whatever reason even when there was no sign of trouble.  That carried over to the playoffs where he was the starter that was omitted from the playoffs and didn’t get to actively participate in the run to the ring. I still appreciate what he was able to provide the team.

His only Bowman year – look at how bubbly everything is

After the season, he was once again a free agent, and he went to the Royals and in 2019, he signed with the Rangers and decided to retire one day after winning a spot on the Major League roster in spring training.  I guess he just wanted to prove he could still do it and went out on some sort of high note.

That will make my collecting a bit easier with no new cards to chase (and probably no Rangers at all for him). That should mean his grand total will be 283 cards and as of this typing, I have 64 already for about 23%.  Hopefully I don’t retire from collecting one day before getting the last one.

March 2019 Ebay Wins

I’ve been falling behind on a lot of card stuff lately.  I’ve been heavily investing my time in video games lately.  A little over a year ago, I decided to take the plunge and collect all of the U.S. released Original Game Boy games.  If you’re going to collect games, you might as well play them, and so I also made the decision to beat every Original GB game.  I set up a twitch account (Floating Platforms if you want to stop by and chat and listen to me rant and rave) and sporadically started playing as I had time.

In 2019, I’ve been making much more of a concerted effort to maintain a schedule. Now, most weeknights after my wife goes to bed, I have a good 2+ hours where I can go downstairs and stream my console challenge. My nights have been spent building spreadsheets and resources related to all of that, since that’s where my mind mostly is.  Progress is being made. I’ve completed over 25 games (out of 505 total to beat, 510 to collect) and have a small, outside chance to hit 50 games completed by the end of the year.

I don’t mean to brag or anything, but all I’m doing is winning these days.  Take these ebay auctions for example.

Tough to get sick of this photo

It’s been harder to get some of these regular Topps parallels lately.  Anytime they’re listed in my saved search emails, the price is a BIN that’s higher than I’m willing to go, or the starting bid is higher than $.99 while the shipping stays at $3.50+.  Bide my time and eventually I win things like this and can celebrate like Willson.

I wish the LL cards had some sort of design difference

Sometimes they come in waves.  This was more of a ripple. Two of the vintage parallels, from different years, and both are subsets which are lower in demand.

Odd it took so long to nab this one

Why yes, I do need more Bunt parallels. Why do you ask?  What’s odd is that I haven’t even really tried to go after the 2016 ones.  Only so many saved searches I can maintain. Tough to do everything at once.

Not a terrible looking card

I’m surprised by this win.  It’s a blaster “patch” thing, I think.  Maybe it was a manurelic in jumbo box?  Not sure.  What I do know is that it’s the blue parallel #/50 and that the flag part looks a lot better in person.  The non-numbered ones don’t always sell for $1, but this non-non-numbered sucker did.

Odd reference photo choice

In February, I tried to win a Maddux Transcendent, but wound up with a Rizzo.  This month, I was able to add a different Maddux to my have list.  Normally, this would be the headliner (is that the right term for the last card shown?), but today I have two going ahead of it.

I’m alright with a blurry scan on this thing

I’ve seen these things pop up in my list for years.  I think most people would rightly pass this by, but I’m including it as something I need as it is card sized and released by a card company.  Obviously I didn’t have it slabbed myself. It came that way.  I’m not sure why I decided to go for this all of a sudden, but maybe it was just seeing the prices slowly drop.  Either way, an auto is an auto, so good to get it out of the way and not worry about it anymore (until I try for the Gwynn one).

Up, Up and to the right of the card to leave room for inscriptions

Here’s what I consider to be the prize of the bunch. I’ve been watching American Ninja Warrior since the the days when it was only on G4 (and started before there was an American version). It’s fascinating to see it grow and take off.  Jessie Graff is currently the best of the female competitors and is a lot of fun to watch on the course.  In her non-ANW life, she’s a stuntwoman and had to skip the finals last year because of her work on the upcoming Wonder Woman movie.  Anyway, I’m hoping that there will be a Ninja Warrior set one day, but until then I’ll take what I can get.  I had to wait a while for the price of this to come down to a place I was comfortable with.  And there’s a second Graff auto in the set that I need so you may not have seen the last of her.

So, yeah. Even though games have taken over a lot of my free time, I’m still collecting. I’m just not as active as I need to be.  I haven’t even scanned my May ebay wins yet. I also have a lot of prep work I need to take care of before the National rolls around.  But first…just one more game….

Getting Ahead Of The Inevitable

Look, I know it’s coming.  What’s the point in trying to deny it?  There are times when I think I’m in the clear, but then when I least expect it…Blam!

Another trade package from Kerry, also known as Madding, also known as Cards on Cards arrives. It’s like he doesn’t even care that I’ve just now gotten to the point where I’m showing cards from his July 2018 package.  Sure, that means I’m less than twelve months behind, but I’d like to be a lot closer to zero.

I know that a package is coming my way sooner rather than later because he’s told me that he needs to look through my Big League want lists. I don’t think that’s a threat. Sounds like a promise.  Time to get ahead of this thing and see how close to zero months I can. This may take a few tries.

Could have used a picture from the early ’80s instead

He tends to help a lot with filling in gaps for newer sets.  I’m not entirely sure if he’s buying the packs himself, or happens to get run-off from other places that trickle down to me, but whatever the case, I’m happy to not have to buy them myself.

That looks uncomfortable

These retro cards are alright. I was never too wild about this wavy design, and it still looks a bit too modern to me for whatever reason.

Could be a throwback uniform

But at least there are variations for several players as well.  The only “good” thing about them is that in Donruss, they are prevalent. They are basically single print versus the double printed base cards. It’s pretty easy to get most variations in a single hobby box.

Not actually back to back

Woah, we’re morphing from Kris Bryant into Anthony Rizzo.  The pixels are merging.

Back to no logos

Okay, we’re back to the future with a Rizzo retro now.

Unhappy running

And here’s one of the non-retro cards.  It, too, is a variation.  I know that the lack of logos is a problem for a lot of people, but that solid blue kinda looks snazzy.  As for the Donruss design, it’s grown on me in person.  I haven’t gotten my hands on the 2019 set yet, but preview images looked promising.

The position is the most important thing

How about the parallel kind of variation?  I got this great looking red foil version of a great looking Rizzo horizontal photo.

Followed by the team name

The Greg Maddux card isn’t as compelling.  The only thing I find interesting in it are the brightest spots in odd positions, like the glare off the glove and bits of uniform. It’s like a still from a ’90s video camera.

And then the player’s name

Lastly, we have a Frank Thomas SC card.  Much better picture than Maddux. This is a parallel set I look forward to never being able to actually complete.  Still, I’m happy to have this starting point.

But for now, like Frank, I’m taking a knee to rest for a spell on Kerry’s July trade.  I’ll be back to show more soon.  Hopefully before the next one arrives. It’s coming. I can feel it.

Starting To Sample My Latest Sportlots Order

A few months ago, I went on a little bit of a credit spending spree on Sportlots.  I had (and still have) a good chunk of change in my account from selling over the years and not cashing out for far too long.  I figured it was time to flesh out my collections a bit with some cheaper lower-end stuff with a sprinkling of heavy hitters.  So, what I did was I went through my Ryan Dempster need lists, did a search on Sportlots and every time I found a card I needed at a price and shipping policy I liked, I would search that seller’s store for cards of other players I collect.

All told, after going through my Dempster want lists thoroughly with that methodology in mind, I wound up with over 200 cards ready to be sent my way (obviously not all Dempsters).  That’s when I started that countdown you may remember appearing in some posts.  Well, here we are only about 90 days later and I’m ready to show off some of that huge Sportlots haul by ignoring the fact that I have a few other smaller Sportlots hauls and COMC purchases from years ago.

Don’t have the regular base card

So, this will be all Ryan all the time and it won’t even be everything.  Close, but I’m saving a few for later.  I’ll start with this 2002 Fleer Gold Back. I don’t know how common they are, but I’ll assume something like one per pack.  This is one of those older parallels that most people probably never knew existed or forgot about, so best not to rely on a trade partner and spend the .18 instead.

The only Reds card in the bunch for him

I probably didn’t need to get this. I forgot it was an Opening Day like set and assumed it was a normal parallel.  Either way, it’s another need filled.

Spot the difference

More gold stuff.  It’s tough to see, but this is a gold foil parallel.  Not a great idea in general since it’s very hard to distinguish from the silver foil, if you even know to look for it.

My first Ginter set

Overall, I picked up a good assortment of minis.  I may hate them, but I still need them. Easy choice to buy them for less than 50 cents each, usually less than 25.

This ends my 2010 Topps 206 needs

Simple parallels were popular cart additions. Here’s another one-per-pack things, I believe. Whatever it is, no one cares about them and I imagine the seller was thrilled to clear out that little bit of space.

Next stop: Abe lincoln

Here’s a big one that I held off on getting for a while, thinking that I would get it in a trade one of these days.  For quite some time, the only 2010 Topps Chrome card I needed was the regular old basic refractor.  I gave in and completed that seven card rainbow finally.  Oh, how I wish chrome rainbows were only seven cards now.

What a line up

Stepping backwards in time, this is one of my most expensive cards in the bunch.  For that 2009 OPC set, the regular black parallels were one per pack, so those aren’t too expensive.  However, this is the one per box black mini. With such a large 600-card set, that’s a lot of boxes needed to find one card. There are also supposedly black blank back parallels, but I don’t know if I’ve seen one and I may drop them from my want lists if I can figure out estimated print runs.

Gotta love blue foil

These last two are less expensive, but lower numbered.  I’ve been able to nab a Donruss Champions parallel the last couple times I’ve gone to SL.  This blue /100 did not turn out to be in the best condition, but for $1 I took a chance. Very rare to have pictures on that site, so that’s why I don’t go too expensive.  I still need 4 more cards from this set.

After this, I only need the glossy from 2011

I’ll end on a mini, because it’s my lowest numbered one of the batch.  Well, not numbered.  Lowest assumed/announced print run.  I love collecting players that most people don’t as it means I get some good deals on some rare cards.  If and when I get back to this order, you can probably guess how many Rizzo, Bryant and Baez cards I was able to find in my price range.

The main takeaway is that SL can be a good source for cheap cards if you know how to shop effectively; and I have a lot more cards that need to find their way into a blog post in the future.