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.