Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Time flies

First of all, my apologies for the lack of frequent updates over the past couple of weeks. Work in the advertising industry becomes incredibly hectic during the holidays, and coupled with out of work commitments - not to mention a desire for time to just relax - there just haven't been enough hours in the day to update Darryl Strawberry Fields as often as I'd like.

But not to worry; things will be back to normal shortly.

I've got a lot to get to, including packages from Tribe Cards and an awesome Darryl Strawberry related Christmas gift, not to mention hundreds of cards left in my collection.

Thank you, everyone, for reading in 2008, and here's hoping to an even better 2009!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas to me!

With the rest of the week off from work, I figured at least a couple pack breaks were in order. It seems that I was destined to open these two 1994 Stadium Club packs on the day before Christmas. So, without further ado...

The first pack:

The first group:

Not too bad a start, by '94 standards. Both Listach and Hamelin had reasonably decent starts to their careers, each winning a Rookie of the Year award (in '92 and '94, respectively.) And the next bunch:

I've always liked cards of players signing autographs, so the Teddy Higuera was a nice pull. Also, that's a Zane Smith rainbow foil at the bottom... one per pack, baby! And then, there it was:

The first Darryl Strawberry I've pulled so far from the three boxes of packs I bought! I've opened a ton of packs, too; far more than I've shown on this site. Riding the high of pulling a Straw, I decided to open one more pack of Stadium Club...

The first bunch:

David Cone is always a nice pull, but not much else of even sentimental value from the first few cards in the pack. So let's move on to the second half:

I always liked Joe Orsulak when I was younger, but only because his name was Joe (as is mine, in case you're unaware.) But so far this has been a pretty crappy pack. Pretty crappy, until:

Yeah!!!!!! Back to back Strawberry pulls! And not just any Strawberry, this one is a rainbow foil, one per pack! What a happy Christmas this will be! I'm thinking of giving away the rest of my box of Stadium Club, because it's only downhill from here. Unless I pull one of those rare (relatively) and often counterfeited First Day Issue versions. I'm gonna hold off a while, though, and enjoy these two pulls.

On a serious note, this blog has been a blast to work on, and I've got lots more in store. Thanks for reading, and I hope you're enjoying it. Happy Holidays, everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2008

1985 (Donruss) Leaf #159

I guess Donruss (or Leaf, whoever the parent company is/was) was afraid of O-Pee-Chee becoming a baseball card monopoly in French-speaking Canada; this card also features English to French translations on the back!

Quick research (aka wikipedia) actually turned that both Donruss and Leaf were owned by the Finnish company Huhtamaki, in case you were wondering. Back to the card...

I only own one of these cards, so no front/back in the same scan, and I don't feel like scanning it twice, so I'll give you the French translation (see the English version in the post below): Recrue de l'Annee dans la Nationale en 83...Bien que beaucoup ne considererent pas la saison derniere comme une bonne annee pour les joueurs de seconde annee, il fut le meneur des Mets pour les circuits et les points produits se classant 4eme dans la Nationale pour les circuits et les points produits et 8eme pour la moyenne de puissance (.467).

I don't speak French at all, but from reading through the translation I'm pretty sure RBI translates to "points produced." Points?! Words cannot convey how disgusted I am by this.

Other than the translation, this card is exactly the same as the all English version. The only other changes are the number and the green leaf on the front, next to the Donruss logo. I'm definitely not a fan of the leaf; it gives the card a cheap-promotional-giveaway look.

Like I said earlier, I own just one copy of this card.

Friday, December 19, 2008

1985 Donruss #312

Now that we're through with the '85 Topps debacles, it's nice to see something with a colored border with Strawberry's 1985 Donruss card.

From the back of the card: "Rookie of the Year in NL in '83 . . . Despite what many consider to be an "off" sophomore year last season, led Mets in HR and RBI ranking 4th in NL in HR, 4th in RBI and 8th in slugginh (.467). Most Valuable Player in Texas League in '82 when he hit .283 with 34 HR and 97 RBI for Jackson."

Was Donruss not aware of his basketball playing days at Crenshaw?

Overall I'd say it's a fairly nice card; nice border, nice coloring. and while the yellow backing isn't the most visually appealing color ever, it beats the heck out of the weird "low on ink" color Topps used in '85. You know what I mean - it's the color you get when your ink is running low, but it's the end of the day on Friday and you don't feel like changing the cartridges, so the document comes out a strange faded mix of cyan, magenta, and yellow...

Unfortunately, the black border makes these cards nearly impossible to keep in good condition. You can see how nicked the edges are, and this card has been in a binder for 10+ years. Also, I forgot how thin the card stock was. I pulled it out of it's sleeve to scan, and it literally felt as thick (or as thin, however you want to view it) as an index card, if not thinner. Pretty poor.

Then again, the pack this card came in probably cost a dime. I'll take the savings, thank you very much.

There's only one thing I really, really dislike:

Why, Donruss? Why the shortcut? Can't you just spell out "through"? I HATE when people artificially shorten words, especially when it's unnecessary. There's plenty of extra space for the three extra letters.

Can't please everyone, I suppose. I own just two of these cards.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

1985 Topps #278

We've seen the light, and now we're at the end of the tunnel... the 1985 Topps tunnel, that is.

We end it with #270, Strawberry's #1 Draft Pick card, which I always thought should've come after his regular issue. From the back of the card:

"Darryl was chosen by the New York Mets as the first selection in the 1980 Draft. He graduated from Crenshaw High School, Los Angeles, California, in 1980, starring in baseball and basketball. Darryl batted .371 with 4 Home Runs in his junior season and .400 with 5 Homers during senior campaign, attracting national recognition. He helped Crenshaw capture a city championship in baseketball. Darryl delivered a Single to centerfield in his first pro At-Bat for Kingston of Appalachian League in 1980."

First off, we've got all sorts of strange punctuation going on here. Lots of odd capitalizations, especially, unless statistical categories are proper nouns? I never considered "Single" to be all that formal, but perhaps I'm mistaken.

The colors are certainly better on Darryl's draft pick card than those on his regular issue. The centering is much better, too. But the red font on green background on the rear of the card? Appropriate enough for the holiday season, I suppose, but come January - no thanks.

The national attention seems a bit unwarranted; are seasons of four and five home runs really that impressive? And while his average his high, .371 seems low for the uber-prospect Strawberry was. I mean, the scouts were obviously right in their evaluation of Strawberry as a major league talent, but they certainly saw something that didn't show up "on paper."

And why are they highlighting that he was the 1980 #1 Draft Pick in 1985?! Seems a little late, especially considering he already had cards issued in 1983 and '84. A sign of the times, I suppose. We'd have Bowman cards of Strawberry as a high school outfielder if he'd come around 15 years later. Better to be safe and wait a few years to make sure the guy lives up to expectations before they got all crazy with subsets of Straw.

Lastly, the mention of his city basketball championship seems horribly out of place. It's kind of like, "Darryl was an awesome high school baseball player! High average, good power... oh, and he played basketball, too! Led his team to a city championship, even! Wait... where were we? Darryl who? Oh, right... yeah, Strawberry hit a single once in the minors. He's pretty good."

I own five of these cards.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Searching for Straw!

It's Friday - thankfully - and I thought, "What better way to end the week than busting a cheap pack of cards from my collecting heyday?" It was either that, or another card from 1985 Topps... you're welcome.

The pack: 1994 Stadium Club Series 2

I bought a box of these on ebay for $5, a deal too good to pass up. I hope Strawberry is in this series; Stadium Club used to print three separate series, with 300 cards in the first two, and whatever players they'd forgotten in the third (I always figured that's how it worked). Inserted randomly in Series 2 are "First Day Issue", "Dugout Dirt" which has cartoon drawings on the back, one-per-pack "rainbow" foil, and Bowman Preview.

On to the first group of super premium baseball cards!

No Strawberry's, but I got a nice action shot of John Kruk's mullet. I probably would've thought Jimmy Key was a good card, too.

Second group:

A Griffey dugout dirt! I've always liked the Mariners logo and colors, so I always liked this card. The second to last card is a rainbow foil Paul Molitor/Dave Winfield, two hall of famers on one card. I'm a baseball equipment junkie, so I liked the close up of Robin Ventura's glove.

A decent pack overall, with two hall of famers and one that will be as soon as he's eligible (Griffey), but no Strawberry.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Can you spot the difference?

Before you think I'm reposting the '85 Topps card, take a closer look... can you see the difference?

Other than the one on the right being even more off-center than its look-a-like on the left, check out the logos in the upper left corners. The card on the right is 1985 O-Pee-Chee, #126.

For those not in the know, O-Pee-Chee is a Canadian company that had a deal with Topps enabling them to print and distribute Topps products in Canada. Though the company had been around since the early 1930's, the deal with Topps began in the mid-60's.

The only difference on the front is the corner logo; things get crazy on the back.

Ever wonder how to say "Complete Major and Minor League Record" in French? Easy: Fiche complete dans les majeures et les mineures. O-Pee-Chee helped card collectors everywhere learn the French language by providing translations under the English sentences!

So the next time you're lost in the heart of Paris, and you meet a Frenchman in a Strawberry jersey, walk right up to him and say, "Ses freres Michael et Ronnie ont joue au baseball!" The two of you will soon be lost in conversation about Darryl's ball playing brothers.

At some point it'd surely be helpful to know how to ask who hit the first grand slam in an All-Star game in 1983 in French, and once again O-Pee-Chee would come to the rescue, because that translation is on the card back, too.

Wondering how to translate "Baseball Trivia Quiz"? Sorry, you'll have to search elsewhere. O-Pee-Chee oddly omits this nugget.

I own seven of these cards.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Ebay thoughts

This entry isn't so much a rant about a stupid Darryl Strawberry auction as much as it's a rant about card designs I dislike.

According to the auction header, this particular card is from 2005 Donruss Classics Stars. Without knowing anything at all about this card or this set, I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that there's a game-worn parallel set at well.

How did I come to this conclusion, you ask? Simple...

ALL OF THE BLANK SPACE TO THE LEFT OF STRAWBERRY!!! It's absurdly obvious that a swatch of jersey was placed on the left side of some versions of these cards.

Thanks to a birthday present from my wife, I've recently developed an interest (Get it?! Developed? Just a little photographer's humor...) in advanced photography, and I've become familiar with the "rule of thirds". One of the major principles of this rule is that "good" pictures DO NOT have the focal point in the dead center of the photograph, instead placing the object in the left or right third of the frame.

This doesn't apply to baseball cards.

Cards like these are the pack of cards slap-in-the-face. "Hey there, collector, congrats on almost pulling a cool card! Instead, enjoy this lame non-game worn parallel! **SLAP!!**" Could Donruss have made this card any more boring if it tried? Why bother with the picture at all? Just have some of the cards feature a patch of a baseball player. That's it. No explanation of the player or team involved. Think of the savings for the manufacturers!! I'd be a little pissed I pulled the straight-up blank piece of cardboard parallel, but I've pulled enough checklists in my day to become numb to it.

My apologies if this trend doesn't bother you. If you're one of these people, you can buy this card for just a buck. And when it arrives, go ahead and slap yourself in the face.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

1985 Topps #570

Pop quiz: On July 6, 1983 who became the first player to hit a grand slam in an all-star game?

Easy right? The best guess, considering I pulled the question from the back of Strawberry's 1985 Topps card, would be Darryl Strawberry. But it's wrong.

The answer, oddly, is Fred Lynn. Not that it's weird for Fred Lynn to have been selected to play in an All-Star game, or that he hit a grand slam in one, but you'd think Topps would keep it's "Baseball Trivia Quiz" limited to the player on the front of the card. Or maybe not, and it was actually a genius ploy to get people to flip their cards over. Not that collector's weren't already; the inconsistent - but nearly always poor - photo quality on the fronts of the '85 cards leave much to be desired.

We are treated, however, to the nugget that Darryl's brothers Michael & Ronnie were also ballplayers. I don't know the highest levels they reached, since a quick Baseball Reference search returned zero results for either brother. They must've finished their playing days after high school.

As for the front of the card, yeah, the photo stinks. It's blurry, dull, and appears to be taken after a foul ball or strike out. Follow Darryl's eyes and he's not even looking high enough to see the first baseman.

I own nine of these cards.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Home stretch

My apologies for the complete lack of posts in the past week. Thanksgiving vacation started a bit earlier than anticipated. Sometimes, life gets in the way.

But I'm back and ready for the home stretch of 2008! New stuff tomorrow (Monday, if you're keeping track) for sure.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Searching for Straw

My first box of packs finally came! Unfortunately, I broke the mail key and it's stuck in the box specially designed for packages (it's bigger). So I'll post it as soon as I track down a carrier to open it for me. No worries though, my second box came and the mail carrier crammed it into our actual box.

So without further ado, I present to you a pack from 1992 Upper Deck! Let's see if there's a Strawberry hidden in there...

The pack:

The first group:

No Straws, and no worries. There's still more! I some how deleted the scan of the second group of cards, but there were no Straws so I didn't feel like rescanning them. So the final group:

Dang, nothing good. Literally. There wasn't single good card in the pack! I'm not going to subject you to all 36 packs that came in the box, but from time to time I'll post one. 36 packs, 15 cards per pack... there's gotta be at least one Darryl in there somewhere.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ebay thoughts

I always see these Gartlan ceramic plates available on ebay. Where did they come from? Were they sold on TV during those QVC (or whatever your home shopping channel of choice was) sports specials? Are they dishwasher safe? I'm always tempted to buy one, just for the ridiculousness factor it would add to my Strawberry collection, but thankfully I can always talk myself out it. One of these days...

I can't decide if it'd be cool to eat off one of these, or... weird.

1986 Fleer Baseball's Best No. 38 of 44

At this point, the cards may start jumping around a little bit chronologically. For whatever reason, I have a bunch of 1986 cards lined up before some '85, and I'm sure it'll happen even more as I move forward. No big deal, I just don't want people to think I can't arrange years correctly.

This card comes from the 1986 Fleer Baseball's Best set, another one of those popular mid-80s glossy sets, and is numbered 38 of 44. Twice the size of those Topps Glossy sets, which was nice of Fleer. Nothing like added value, ya know?

Normally I like to point out what I find interesting from the back of the card, or at least retype what the card says. Not necessary here, as there is almost literally nothing on the back of it! Even though this was the case for Topps Glossy as well, at least they stretched out the design to use up all of the available space. But Fleer, not so much; more than half of it is blank. There must've been something interesting they could've come up with.

As for the front: not much of an action shot, but I still like it. I really like the patch on Strawberry's left arm, which research tells me was to commemorate the organization's 25th Anniversary. The jersey is of the v-neck pullover variety, which was fairly common back then. The photo is a glimpse of what things were like before Under Armor; note that Darryl is wearing an actual turtleneck shirt under the jersey. Very retro!

I wonder, though, why at the bottom, where it says "Sluggers" before Darryl's name, they chose to list his batting average?? And it's his major league career average, too, not from just 1985 or '86. Odd that it's listed on the back under "percentage", as opposed to "average". They should've gone with his far more impressive home run totals.

I own three of these cards.

On a non-specific card related note, I should be receiving the first of three boxes I've ordered off ebay today, so keep a lookout for the "Searching for Straw" feature. I can't decide whether I'll do it through videos or pictures... probably some of both. Speaking of ebay, isn't it frustrating when you're charged a premium for shipping and the seller doesn't bother to ship your item 2-3 day priority? I don't mind paying a little extra for shipping; I don't care if you charge $12 for a $9 flat rate box. Just don't charge me priority and proceed to send my item via media mail!

Mail Call

A couple weeks ago I entered a contest over at Heartbreaking Cards of Staggering Genius. Upon finding out that I finished second, I was asked which player and/or team I collect, so naturally I responded with Darryl Strawberry and Yankees cards. Here's what I got:

The first card is a signed 2007 Topps Sean Henn rookie. I'm assuming that this was either obtained via mail or in person, as there is no sticker anywhere on the card. This is a good thing, as I much prefer a personally signed item over a sticker applied by a company representative any day of the week! Henn has a pretty crazy signature too. Loopy, big, yet illegible. Very nice.

Next up:

A 2006 Upper Deck game used Jason Giambi jersey. I LOVE game used cards, and have since they were first issued in 1997 Upper Deck. Unfortunately, while fairly common these days, they're still only inserted at rates of just one or two in boxes of more affordable cards, so I've only pulled a few in packs. I have plenty of cheap ones that I've won off ebay, though. Anyway, I love the stripe visible in the patch. I wonder if card companies wash the jerseys first, or if this card would reek of Giambi's sweat if I removed the screw down holder? I won't chance it.

No Strawberry cards, but still cool nonetheless.

Thanks, Matt at Heartbreaking Cards of Staggering Genius! You definitely need to make his site part of your daily routine.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

1988 Topps Bazooka #21 of 22

From the back of the card: WAS SELECTED AS ROOKIE OF YEAR IN NL FOR 1983.

Hmm, another 22 card set from Topps... interesting.

I have absolutely no idea how these cards were distributed. Certainly not like the Bazooka cards from the late '90s/early 2000's, which was a larger set and sold in packs. If they came inside boxed of Bazooka gum I wouldn't have known, since I probably wasn't allowed to have gum when I was six (or I was at least limited to the sugar free variety). It's not a particularly exciting card, either. Strawberry is just waiting his turn in the cage during Mets batting practice, perhaps checking out a Gary Carter bomb in to the Upper Deck. Or maybe a plane just flew by and it's actually Mookie Wilson laying down bunts... I guess we'll never know.

The back of the card is more colorful than the front, which is strange, especially for being 1988. I like the stats over the lightly colored "Bazooka" logo, especially the Game Winning RBI column. What a strange, old school stat to feature on a card! Straw was CLUTCH in 1986 with 15 of 'em. That is, if you believe there is even such thing as "clutch".

The line about his ROY award is odd. Why just "Rookie of Year", without the "the"? There's plenty of real estate for the extra word. Maybe Topps wanted "Rookie of Year" to stay on the same line, and adding a "the" would split it up? I doubt anyone would've cared.

I own three of these cards.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mail call

Got a nice Halloween package from David at Tribe Cards, a blog dedicated to all things Indians. Would it be a box full of tricks, or would it include a nice assortment of treats?

The answer: Both.

There was an oddly large amount of Delino DeShields cards scattered throughout. Not that there were hundreds of 'em, but any more than five qualifies as a lot, wouldn't you say? Especially since we're talking about Delino DeShields.

But among some of the treats:

Cards of Jay Bell and Greg McMichael are certainly nothing to get excited about, but 1997 Fleer (and the '96 set, too) is one of my favorites of all time. I really, really liked the matte finish, which Fleer pitched as being perfect for autographs. And they are, I guess, even though I've never had a '96 or '97 Fleer card signed. Soon, I hope, thanks to my addiction to this site. These packs also contained quite a bit of inserts, which I was in to at the time. I believe Fleer touted that one insert could be found in every five packs, on average! Madness!

Then there were these beauties:

Yeah, that's right! Jose Cruz, Jr. and Kerry Wood 1997 Bowman Best rookies! If only either of these guys could've lived up to their potential... Nobody EVER would've given these away 10 years ago.

The hilarity continues:

Silly Bret Saberhagen, that's not a baseball its an apple! I sure hope he didn't cut up and eat a baseball with his breakfast that morning. Also worth noting is the fact that this is a "gold hologram" variation, meaning the little Upper Deck hologram on the back of the card is gold, not silver. I'd read about these variations, thinking they might've been some "rare" subset inserted in packs, but research showed that the gold just means that this card came from a factory set. Still kinda cool, but it's sad that someone, somewhere, is one Bret Saberhagen card short of a complete gold foil set.

And of course, the best of the box:

There are more Darryl Strawberry cards than the scan shows, which is fine. You'll eventually see them each individually.

Thanks, Dave from Tribe Cards! Be sure to check out his site for more baseball card goodness. As I continue to sort through my collection I'll make sure to set aside all of the Indians and send them his way.

More from my personal collection coming soon.

Ebay rant 3

The item you see above is so rare, so sought after, so valuable, that the auction very probably ended with a "Buy It Now" just seconds after it was posted.

All you see at first glance is a 1991 Score Darryl Strawberry #640, but look at the holder its in. Its that familiar red border of a PSA graded card... and now look at the grade: GEM MINT 10!!!!

Wow. I mean, there couldn't have been more than 20,000,000,000,000,000 sets of '91 Score produced, so this Gem Mint 10 is ultra-rare. If I had to guess, no more than 35,000 (Gem Mint 10s, I mean) are in circulation. And it could be yours for only $14.99? I'd feel like I was robbing the seller.


This card had to have been submitted among a massive quantity of cards to be graded, because what reasonable human being would ever submit a card from '91 Score for grading? At least the seller spared us a long fluffy description of why this card is so great.

Something I've always wondered, though, about the grading process that maybe a reader knows the answer to: Will PSA call you if you submit something stupid that they're only going to assign a grade of 5 or 6? I can understand something from, say, 1957 Topps benefiting from a 5, but not '92 Upper Deck.

OK, I know they won't call before taking your money, but can you easily remove the graded card from the holder it's returned in? If I were selling cards, I'd feel like less of a man for auctioning a PSA 7 of anything within the last 15 years. The average person likely wouldn't see any blemishes if they weren't pointed out on an ungraded card.

Anyway... the auction for this card ends tomorrow, so you'd better hurry!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

1989 Topps Glossy All-Star #19 of 22

Ok, wait a minute...

This is the third "#19 of 22" of the four Glossy All-Star cards I have. Is Topps even trying with this set? The background is so simple, so basic, that Topps isn't putting even a second of thought into the design. They're just editing the text box with the year and sending it off to print.

Why bother even changing the picture?

Well, this particular photo is so similar to the '86 card that it appears they hardly bothered at all.

In the 1988 All-Star game, Darryl went 1-4 with a strikeout, in case you were wondering.

This marks the end of my mis-cut, off centered, poor photo quality Glossy All-Star collection, so thanks for sticking with me through these tough times. Trust me, you'll be rewarded.

I've got a new feature coming soon, which I'll call "Searching for Straw." Or I might call it "Needle In a Haystack", because straw and hay are very similar. Or are they the same thing? I'm not sure; I have no farming experience whatsoever. Anyway... What I'll be doing is purchasing old boxes of packs and searching for Darryl Strawberry cards (see where I get the title from?!) and posting the results. And in the 700+ card sets from the late '80s and early '90s, finding any one particular card is tough, hence my alternate title of "Needle in a Haystack". Perhaps you all can comment on which title you like better. Comment quickly, though, because my first unopened box of cards is on the way. I'll wait until it arrives before I reveal the brand.

By the way, I own three of these '89 Glossy All-Star cards.

Monday, November 10, 2008

1988 Topps Glossy All-Stars #19 of 22

Yep, another glossy All-Star... only one more after this, I promise.

For now, take a gander at the '88 card, number 19 of 22 in the set. I can't tell if Straw is sitting on a 2-1 count looking for the heat or if it's 3-0 and he's taking the next pitch no matter what. That's what was so great about Strawberry; you were intimidated every single time he stepped up to the plate. At least I bet pitchers were scared. I've never actually faced him.

Darryl went 0-2 in the '88 All-Star game. No big deal, there'd be others.

I own three of these cards.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

1987 Topps Glossy All-Star #8 of 22

Look everybody, another miscut Glossy All-Star! It's too bad they didn't put more time or effort into this set, the gloss was a nice touch back in the days before, err... gloss. This is a much better action shot of Strawberry, no doubt taken after a double lined off the center field wall.

Check out the starting line up from the '86 All-Star game. Absolutely loaded with Mets. Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, and Darryl Strawberry batted third through fifth in the order, and Dwight Gooden started on the mound. Darryl had a mediocre day, going one for two at the plate.

I own 22 of these cards, most of them acquired via ebay auction.

Monday, November 3, 2008

1986 Topps Glossy All-Star #19 of 22

Look, I'll be the first to admit that these Topps Glossy All-Star cards aren't the most exciting in the world, but they deserve blog time as much as any other card in my collection, so they must be posted!

I promise to move through them quickly.

Here we have the 1986 Topps Glossy All-Star #19 of 22. Much like the Glossy All-Star from 1985, it comes from a set far smaller than the amount of actual All-Stars. Also like its '85 predecessor there isn't much to the back of the card, and I'm not too impressed with the front of it, either. It's hard to tell from the scan, but the photo quality of this card is quite poor, even by 1986 standards. It's dark, blurry, and uninspired. There are definitely less Mets logos than the previous Glossy All-Star shot, and I don't think Strawberry did much in this at bat, perhaps just a line drive straight to the right fielder.

However, it should be noted that in the 1985 All-Star game Strawberry went a very impressive 1 for 1 with a walk, hit-by-pitch, two runs and a stolen base. Very much deserving of the gloss.

I own three of these cards.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Topps Glossy UPDATE

Looks like I remembered right; the All-Star glossy cards were available in rack packs. Thanks also to Paul, of Paul's Random Stuff, for pointing it out in the comments!

I had hoped to get another piece of my collection up tonight, but family (pet) emergencies prevented me from getting to it. My apologies. Instead, enjoy this picture of a 1986 rack pack, with the Straw Man right on top!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

1985 Topps Glossy All-Star #8 of 22

You can click on the image to enlarge it, but you can probably already see that there isn't much to the back of this card. It's apparently a commemorative set made for the 1984 All-Star game. Very thoughtful of Topps to do, I suppose.

I don't really remember where these cards were available. They're made by Topps (according to the bottom of the back of the card), but surely they couldn't have been inserts. Were they specials in rack packs? You know, the ones where you kinda sorta got three packs in one? I seem to remember searching through bins in grocery stores trying to find "good" players. Though I wouldn't have done that until the later commemorative sets were released, as I would've only been three years old for this one (remember, back in these times if a card said '84, it meant it was made in '85).

A couple things stand out to me that I find interesting. How come there are only 22 cards made? According to Baseball Reference, there were far more than 22 guys on the roster, including some notable names on the bench. I wonder how they chose the 22. I don't have a complete set of these, so unfortunately, I can't break down the checklist for you. In the game, Straw went 1 for 2 with a stolen base... nice!

And how happy is Strawberry to be a Met? There are five Mets logos on the front of the card! Count 'em: hat, jersey, two on the arm, and the batting glove. It's a nice snapshot of the days before corporate branding became rampant.

Check out the field in the background. The grass looks choppy and overgrown, and there's a giant chain-link fence about 20 yards behind Darryl. Where was this? It almost looks like a high-school field. It's certainly not Shea Stadium, and it's definitely not Candlestick Park, the site of the '85 All-Star game. I guess we'll never know.

I own three of these cards, all of which are pretty badly mis-cut on either the front or back, but they sure are glossy!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ebay rant #2

Who knew the second installment of my ebay rants would come so soon? I'm sitting at my desk with under an hour to go in my day, thinking, "I wonder what I can blow $10 on right now!" And what better place to look than ebay, right?

Of course, I typed in Darryl Strawberry.

I scanned the listings, most for lots of cards I already own or are ridiculously overpriced. I did see a couple auctions for those old, 1988 Topps two-pocket folders; the ones where the back was the same as the reverse side of the actual 1988 Topps card. I had an Eddie Murray folder when I was younger (and living in northern Virginia when Murray was an Oriole).

I wasn't seeing anything good (or that I could justify purchasing to my wife), and then I stumbled on to the auction you see pictured above: a gem mint, PSA 10 1989 K-Mart Dream Team Darryl Strawberry #28!

I remember these, and have a few different sets in my closet. The sets were small (see the box here) and were ultra-glossy, especially by 1989 standards, and I'm sure were produced by the millions. It appears from the box that they were made by Topps. Unfortunately, I don't recall how I obtained these sets, as I don't remember buying them at a K-Mart, or even going in to one. Feel free to comment if you remember where you could get them (K-Mart is my guess).

In the description, the seller proudly claims that only three of these Gem Mint 10 Strawberry cards have been graded.

I'm sure, because why would anyone - except for these three morons - actually pay to have this card graded? The bare minimum cost I can find for a grading on the PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator) website is $5, and there is no way this card can have any more value than that, gem mint or not.

This was an investment that the seller will never recoup.

Friday, October 24, 2008

1984 Donruss #68

From the back of the card: "The NL Rookie of the Year in '83...Joined the Mets in June and went on to finish second on club in HR and RBI...Was the No.1 amateur pick in the nation in June '80 and turned down numerous college scholarship offers to sign with Mets...Most Valuable Player in the Texas League in '82 when he hit .283 with 34 HR and 97 RBI at Jackson...Also set a club record wiith [sic] 45 steals...Got a single in his 1st pro at-bat for Kingsport in '80."

This was the first Darryl Strawberry RC I owned, and also my favorite card in the collection. More for sentimental reasons; my sister got it for me as a birthday gift many years ago. The screw down holder is more than a little excessive, but hey, it's my favorite. And back when I first got it (both the card and the holder) it was worth $10!! That's a lot of money to a little kid, and it made me appreciate even more that my sister purchased it for me.

There are, of course, other things l enjoy about the card, like the typo "wiith" that I never actually noticed until last night. I suppose there's a chance I once knew about it, as it seems like something Beckett would point out and designate with an "ERR", but if so, I'd completely forgotten.

And why are the stats listed in no particular order? It goes from the National League Rookie of the Year in 1983, followed by the #1 pick mention in 1980, then to the '82 Texas League MVP, and finally ends with a blurb about his 1980 year in Kinston. Very odd organization, don't you think?

The picture on the front really bothers me. I also "collect" hats, and am very anal about how they fit and look, especially with the brim on the front. I still wrap a rubber band around a baseball in the brim and let new hats sit for days, seeking that perfect curve. It's been difficult lately with these new style New Era caps, but I won't get into that. Strawberry's hat is a mess in this shot! It looks like he was grabbed real quickly by the photographer, looked frantically for his hat, and realized he'd been sitting on it. Why couldn't he have borrowed a better looking cap from Dwight Gooden? Surely he was nearby. Didn't he know this card would be immortalized in screw down holders everywhere for the rest of time? If there was one thing Darryl could change about his past, I bet it's this card.

I own just one of this card.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ebay rant #1

One of the things I spend a lot of my time doing during the day - other than reading card blogs and working - is searching ebay. Mostly for Darryl Strawberry stuff, sometimes for old wax boxes (old as in early 1990's, the kind I can justify buying but still give that thrill of ripping packs), but mostly for auctions where the item being sold is ridiculous and/or utterly worthless.

I'll post another piece of my collection soon - either tonight or early tomorrow - but I want to write my first of many-to-come Darryl Strawberry ebay rants.

The item: 1987 Topps Darryl Strawberry #460

Starting Price: $1.60 USD, $4.00 shipping

Description: "1987 TOPPS card for Darryl Strawberry from the NY Mets. On the lower part has a slight stain (see pics) from having had a tape [sic] to glue it to a letter. Otherwise pretty good condition."

The problem: The lowest price you'll pay for this one card (key word: one) is $5.60 with shipping! And what's the book value, 10 cents? At most?? For $5.00 I better be getting at least 50 of these. There's an autcion that I'm oh-so-tempted to bid on for 800 Strawberry cards from the '88 Topps set, so how could one justify bidding on just a single card from '87?

Another problem: The condition of the card is terrible (see larger picture here). The "slight stain" looks like the piece of tape is still on the card, but other than that it's still in "pretty good condition"? I don't think so. The top left corner is obviously bent in, and there's a weird stain/peel on the top right corner. The true value of this card can't be more than a nickel. I don't understand why the seller would even consider selling this particular card, let alone asking so much for it.

The problem with ebay is the perception that you can sell anything. This seller must be hoping for somebody to bid by mistake, which I sincerely hope doesn't happen. Arrrrggh!!! These postings frustrate me to no end.

Here's another gem of a 1987 Topps Strawberry auction. The guys makes it seem like he's doing us all a favor by putting this card up for sale. Check it out before the auction ends. Grrr...

Thanks for listening (reading). More of my collection to come soon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

1983 Topps Traded XRC, #108T

From the back of the card: "His 3-run, 458-ft. Homer produced Game-Winning RBI in 6-4 win vs. Padres, 5-17-83. Cracked triple and Single with 3 RBI's and 2 Runs in win vs Expos, 6-12-83. 1983 HIGHLIGHTS: May 8: GOT FIRST MAJOR LEAGUE HIT AND RBI IN 10-5 WIN VS. REDS. MAY 16: HIS FIRST BIG LEAGUE HOMER WAS 2-RUN WALLOP IN METS' 11-4 DECISION VS. PIRATES AT PITTSBURGH."

Might as well start from the beginning with Darryl's first rookie card (more on that in a second). For the most part I'll post cards in chronological order, though in looking through one of my binders last night I realized that I made some errors in the ordering of the cards, so sometimes you'll just have to deal with an "out of order" post. I doubt that you'll mind. Anyway...

I don't totally understand the "XRC" designation on the card, and if I remember correctly from the Beckett Baseball Card Monthly magazine I used to read, it means Extended Rookie Card. These days, no chance something like that would fly; Strawberry's rookie card would've come out when he was in high school, and there would be only one. I think it has something to do with the fact that it wasn't widely available (meaning in packs). I could be way off base, so feel free to comment with the correct info.

A quick aside about Beckett. Note that I said I used to read it. I don't any more for a couple reasons: 1) card collecting has become to expensive a hobby to actively pursue. 2) The hobby is so dominated by rookies, and inserts, and thick shiny cards that I no longer recognize players I pull in packs. And that's sad, considering I follow baseball as closely as anybody, including the minors. 3) The "book value" of a card is meaningless. I don't even know where a card shop is in San Diego, so the value of anything has become the final selling price on ebay. Nothing more, nothing less.

Back to the card. I like the mention of a Mets-Padres game, since those are my first memories of Darryl Strawberry. I was only six months old at the time of the highlighted game, so I wasn't there, but it's still a nice tie in.

His homer on May 16th is referred to as a "wallop"... haven't heard that word in a while.

One final piece of info worth noting: In his 1982 season in Jackson, his final in the minors, he hit 34 homers and stole 45 bases. If I didn't know better and had to guess the ending to Strawberry's career based solely on this card, I'd guess no-doubt first ballot hall of famer.

I own two of these cards.

Monday, October 20, 2008

It begins

My earliest memories of baseball were Mets-Padres games in San Diego's Jack Murphy Stadium. A lot has changed since those days; Qualcomm has since taken over as the name of the stadium which no longer even houses the Padres - they've moved to Petco Park in downtown San Diego.

Growing up in a family of Yankees fans, I suppose the Mets were the next best thing to come to southern California. This was long before the days of interleague play.

And besides, I loved Darryl Strawberry.

I don't know how it started. I don't know if it was his name that caught my four year old attention, or perhaps it was his height. Some how, some way, I singled him out as my favorite player. The collection began.

To this day, the collection has become quite large. Thousands of cards have been purchased, replica t-shirts folded in drawers, autographs carefully protected. The space my collection inhabits at the bottom of my closet can no longer contain its glory; it's time for a blog.

I've met Darryl a handful of times, and he seems to be a genuinely nice person. Troubled? Maybe, though not necessarily a bad person. He's made his mistakes and has certainly paid dearly for them. I do not intend to apologize on his behalf. But my collection is what it is; massive.

Over the life of this site I'll share my collection, piece by piece. I'll tell stories. I'll kill lots of time, both mine and yours.