Friday, October 30, 2009

A White Whale From One Of My Fave QBs

SONNY JURGENSEN NFL Hall of Fame


One of my favorite QuarterBacks growing up was Sonny Jurgensen. He began his career with the Philadelphia Eagles but is best known for my Homie Team The Washington Redskins. Recently from Ebay I got one of the "white whales" I had been looking for quite a while.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term "White Whale" in the trading card hobby it basically is a card that you have been hunting for your personal collection (PC) that has been pretty difficult to acquire. Often a white whale will elude you for some time, often teasing you by showing up just out of reach. It is a reference to Moby Dick the white whale in the classic book of the same name by HERMAN MELVILLE. Moby was the nemesis to the main character Capt. Ahab.

Well this card, and many cards now-a-days thanks to the internet, is not so much a "White Whale" anymore. The card is the 1958 Topps Rookie Card (RC) of Sonny Jurgensen.


It fast became one of my favorite Sonny J. cards. Another of my fave Sonny J. cards is:

1971 Topps Game Card Insert

And also the companion to the Game Card is the Pin-Up.

1971 Topps Pin-Up.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Monsters Of The Gridiron

Soon it will be Halloween, scary eh kids? With that note let us flip back 15 years with Coca-Cola and The NFL...

Monsters of the Gridiron in 1994.
Coca-Cola, and the NFL Player's Association using Pro-Line Classics cards. Produced this unique set of 30 cards:


This Football card set was released around October for Halloween (one would guess), each player card has the player dressed up in a monster costume that incorporates their own team jersey at least most of them. There are 30 numbered player cards in the set, 1 for each of the the 28 then current teams, 2 "mascot" cards for the expansion teams of the Carolina Panthers, and the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the checklist card which was not numbered so 31 cards actually. 32 if you count the insert of the special scratch-off game cards.

Front of Un-Numbered Checklist card

The cards are in alphabetical order by the team city. This was in the days before the Baltimore Ravens, while both the Raiders and the Rams were still in Los Angeles, and the Houston team was still the Oilers.

Each NFL team is represented by one of its big named Starter Stars, and each player is dressed up in some sort of Monster or Creature Costume and some sort of silly monster nickname. Some of them are pretty cool looking others are just silly and stupid. The two new expansion teams that would begin their histories with the NFL the following season in 1995; The Carolina Panthers and The Jacksonville Jaguars are represented by drawings of "Mascots" that didn't quite become the official logos. The backs of the cards say 1994 Edition which seems to indicate that there were plans to make the concept a regular annual series. That never happened.

The cards were included in the 12 can pack cases of Coca-Cola products. If I recall correctly I think 2 cards may have been included or 1 card and a scratch off game card.

Yes There was a scratch off game card. You scratched off a football shaped area on the card with a coin and won some sort of prize, money or 99% of the time a "Sorry, try again" sort of no win. If I remember right the Coca-Cola products that included the cards had 1 random card plus one scratch off game card. Maybe they just had one card, I don't recall I just know I originally had only 4 players and 2 of the scratch off cards which I never scratched.

Scratch Off Game Card

15 years does effect ones memory so I really don't know unless there is some website out there on the internet that gives all the distribution details.

Full 30 card set in hanging blister pack

As you can see the entire set was also made available later in a hanging cardboard backed blister pack.

Now I present some of the "Monsters":

Marshall "The Missle" Faulk

Chester "Renegade Raider" McGlockton
Cortez "Tez Rex" Kennedy

Hardy "Hyena" Nickerson

Shane "The Barbarian" Conlan

Monday, October 26, 2009

Topps Of The Class


Sometime last year I guess Topps came up with an idea (uh-oh) a campaign to award students good grades with trading cards. Apparently this is in cooperation with tons of card shops across the country (USA). First the student needs to do well in school, not sure how good they mean when they say "good grades". I'm guessing it has to be at least a B+ maybe even an A-. Anyway first the student gets the grade then the student goes to a participating card shop. The list of participating card shops is online (of course) at http://www.topps.com/toppsoftheclass/index.html oh OK they can also call the Topps 1-800 number also, which is actually an 888 number (1-888-GO-TOPPS or 1-888-468-6777). The student searches by their state, and hopefully the few shops that are located are somewhere near them. A random sampling of the lists shows that poor Utah and Oklahoma have only one participating store each. while California has a ton, I didn't take a total count but it was a pretty long list.

OK so once your kid gets the good grades they take their report card (and they probably have to bring some sort of ID to show they are who they claim they are LOL) into the shop to the manager, and they get some cards. What cards from Topps and how many is a mystery. I'm guessing that the shop owners who participate are given a supply of "freebie" cards to give out in this program. Maybe they are the same cards that are included in the retail "back to school" sets that Wal*Mart and Target sell by the boatload.


OK so it looks like at first in 2008 they (Topps) started this campaign in cooperation with the NFL, or at least the conned spokesman DREW BREES Quarterback of the currently undefeated New Orleans Saints to say something cool about how education helped him achieve his persuite of a career in the NFL.


I guess the campaign in '08 was soooooooooooooooo successfull, or at least didn't lose them any money, that they decided to continue the next school year in 2009. This time Ooooh Oooooh they work with the MLB and con New York Mets 3rd Baseman DAVID WRIGHT to give his two cents worth. Actually it looks like his 2 cents worth was about half a cent more than what Mr. Brees had to say. The quote takes about the same amount of space on the card but appears to be in a slightly smaller font size.


Meanwhile adult card collectors that get their cards from the various retail chains like Wal*Mart and Target are bombarded with these "Students: Work Hard, Get Cards" insert cards that most of them just toss away along with all the junk mail. These cards by the way have those white anti-theft device stickers. The same sort of stickers with computer chips embedded in them like you find in retail copies of DVDs and CDs that you buy that are attached to a plain index card. Sometimes those things are tossed behind the disc and cause the disc to become dislodged from the cases hub so that the disc rattles around and you hear something else with the disce which happens to be the white anti-theft card. If you are careful in removing those things like I am you have a nice looking, although probably totally worthless card.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

XFL 2001 Team Logo Stickers

XFL League Logo Sticker #9

In 2001 the owners of the WWF Wrestling League tried their hand at a rival for the NFL. Thus the XFL (eXtreme Football League) was born. Like many other leagues that have come and gone the XFL didn't last very long, it barely lasted it's inagural season. The victory for the "Million Dollar Game" championship team didn't last very long either.

One of the big selling points for this new league, other than some more manly rules like the "No Fair Catch" rule (which meant on kickoff returns they had to return the ball not just wimp out with a "fair catch"), was more gratuitus shots of the cheerleaders. Many of the advertsing emphasized the cheerleaders and during the televised games they showed the cheerleaders often, more so than the NFL does.

One of the other big selling points for the league was the use of the "helmet-cam" which was just what it sounds like a camera mounted on a players helmet so the audience could get the players-eye view of plays. Due to the costs of camera equipment and the logistics of putting the cameras into the helmets, there weren't very many helmet-cams used. I think the helmet-cam was used more in the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie The 6th Day than it was used in real XFL games. Plus the movie had an "Expansion" team that never existed. They also had a sky-cam, had half-time locker-room-cam. Come to think about it they were trying to make it more of a "reality" game than a regular professional sports game.

Also the players had the option of putting anything they wanted on the back of their jerseys so some of them had nicknames on their jerseys, the most famous was Rod "He Hate Me" Smart, Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson would have fit in perfectly.

The league was pretty much a hit with the fans that got into it, but not so much with over-all ticket and merchandise sales so the league folded. Another big reason the league folded in my opinion is they spent way too much time on "during the game" interviews with players, coaches and anyone else they could get on camera.

OK enough background and on with the show. To help promote the league Topps made some trading cards of course (a 100 card set, I have one coming from an Ebay auction so I'll get around to talking about that set after it comes in soon) and a set of 10 stickers. The stickers have the 8 team logos, the league logo and a league ball (they had to have something for the final sticker and they already used the cheerleaders in part of the card set).

XFL League Football Sticker #10

Each football league, even the college leagues, have to have their own style of football I guess. Well the XFL used balls made by Spalding with their own unique design. The front of the stickers have the XFL logo in the upper left corner, the team logo centered as a die-cut sticker and the team's name in the lower right corner. The backs of the stickers show the league logo on the background color that was used for the team logo on the front, a smaller team logo under the league logo, and the sticker number (x of 10) in the lower right corner after all the copyright info.

Los Angeles Xtreme Sticker #1

Birmingham Thunderbolts Sticker #2

Memphis Maniax Sticker #3
Orlando Rage Sticker #4
Las Vegas Outlaws Sticker #5
San Francisco Demons Sticker #6

New York/New Jersey Hitmen Sticker #7

Chicago Enforcers Sticker #8

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Topps vs. O Pee Chee



VS.






For many years when I was a Kid I would hear about "Oh Peachy" cards made in Canada. I think I would sometimes see OPC listed in price guides or info about the trading card hobby and wonder what it was. I forget how long it was before I learned and noticed that the Canadian brand O Pee Chee was a sort of sister company to Topps. Every year for each sport they produce a very similar product with some variations usually just in the info on the back has been translated into French (apparently from 1970 on they have had to include The French) . Sometimes the front designs would be slightly different but usually the only way to tell the difference was if there was French on the card, or to look at the copyright line (which in the early days for Topps was just T.C.G. with some other nonsense acronyms). If your card was off-center enough you didn't even have the copyright line on the back. If you get your cards directly from packs then there is no problem you know which brand you were getting, but if you got your cards from a shop, or traded with someone you might not know for sure.

Some years I think the OPC set was slightly smaller, so some of the numbering would differ, but I think they eventually went completely parallel to Topps.

Well anyway I've had a few OPC cards, even some non-sport versions. I've got some OPC cards from the Movie Grease mixed in with my hand built Topps set. I think there are 5 (maybe 6) cards that I only have the OPC version. Well usually I don't have both versions and can only tell some of the differences if I have other cards from the same set.

Recently from Ebay I got the OPC version of a Hockey Card that I had gotten the Topps version a while back. From the 1974-75 Season Card # 256 (both sets) the Wasington Capitals Logo Card. This was the inaguaral season for the Caps.

Notice the front of the card, there is virtually no difference. The colors on the OPC card are darker and richer, but that isn't necessarily normal.

1974-75 O PEE CHEE Hockey #256

1974-75 TOPPS Hockey #256

Now the back is a different story (first my Topps version is off-center enough that the Topps copyright line is not on the card). The OPC version uses a whiter card stock and they seem to use a lighter brown color for the background color. Notice also the subtitle line "Draft Sellections June 1974" appears in English and French. If my Topps card had the copyright line, and the OPC version didn't have the French that would be the only way to tell the two apart.

OPC Back

TOPPS Back

It seems that in the world of Hockey card collecting most collectors prefer the O-Pee-Chee over Topps. Weird I've always been the opposite. I used to think the OPC cards were inferior, but eventually learned the only real difference was different card stock. It's weird some years I think the Topps version is better other years I think the O-Pee-Chee.

Love/Hate Reprints.

When it comes to reprints, or redoing anything really I almost always prefer the Original over the reprint (remake). For me it is especially true for Trading Cards. The biggest problem of course is some of the really nice Original cards I'd like to own sell at ridiculously outrageous prices, that I wouldn't even be able to purchase a small shaving off of the corner.

As a Kid I flat out refused to have anything to do with reprints. I kept to my guns on the matter until sometime in the very late 1970s to early 1980s when I bought some "retro" "All-Time" commemorative team sets though the mail. Produced by TCMA in various years. I don't have any of those scanned right now, maybe I'll get around to some of them soon. These sets were made somewhat on the cheap and are very simple looking, but they are a great way to get cards of players from yesteryear who you normally would not be able to afford even the cut corner from an original. Now these specialty sets are not really reprints so my self rule of NO REPRINTS was still intact.

When I started discovering trading card "trading" community websites then I started getting some reprints usually from generous traders who will send any old card of your favorite team or players, even if you personally don't want those particular cards. So sometimes you need to just Nod & Smile.

It wasn't until this past May (2009) that I purposely purchased a reprint card knowing that it was one (or actually that it was a high possibility). I got the card from an auction at sportlots.com for $12 plus shipping for a total of $15 the absolute MAXIMUM I ever want to knowingly pay for a reprint card no matter what the card. The seller stated in the auction outright that they didn't know if the card was an original or a reprint so I guessed and was right that it is a reprint. I wish I knew the year of manufacture though.

The card I got was a reprint (I don't know the year of reprinting but suspect it to be sometime in the early 1980s, perhaps made for one of those trading card collection books, except the sides of the card are regular cut not perforations as some of those cards are) of the 1951 BOWMAN Rookie Card of WILLIE MAYS. The card is smaller than today's standard size card and even has some mock card ware to give the feel of an old time card:

1951 Bowman Willie Mays RC (Reprint unknown year)

If anyone knows of possible reprint dates let me know.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

O.J. Could not have stolen this one.


OK I'm not sure if I can do this story justice. I heard about this from a member on tradingcardcentral.com. They provided this link http://www.13wham.com/news/local/story/Stolen-Baseball-Card-Worth-Over-5-000/_ci7nvtwjU6xORSbXsa5dw.cspx. The gist is a 1954 Ted Williams card by Wilson Franks was stolen from a Canadian card collector's hotel room in NY along with 5 other cards. Before you go pointing the blame don't blame O.J. Simpson he's already doing his time for sports memorabilia theft. This is very disturbing news to hear. Here is a link to another take on the theft http://www.wpix.com/news/local/wpix-ted-williams-card-stolen,0,6362006.story

My Theory is the crook knew the guy had these cards in his Hotel room and found a time when the guy wasn't around. Maybe the thief is a card collector. I doubt that a typical Hotel employee would realize the value of vintage trading cards. The card was an officially graded card so in a way it is almost like stealing a work of art from a museum. Card grading companies keep records of the cards they have graded, and each card usually gets some sort of inventory serial number to trace its origins. So unless the thief is a collector that wants it for his personal collection (PC) or knows of a buyer to sell it on the black market, they are not going to be able to sell it easily.

*When I started this blog, I thought I would limit card images to only cards from my collection. Well I just broke that personal rule. D'oh! The image I used is a typical specimen of this card, it is not a "graded" card, those are "entombed" in plastic cases that are difficult (but not impossible as shown by some innovative card collectors) to break open without damaging the card. The news stories I linked to show a sample of the "graded" card.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Let's begin at the begining or at least 1965.

1965

What a year 1965 was. I happen to like it because it was the year I was born. It is also a pretty good year for cards especially baseball. I won't forget about football, but at that point American Football had the NFL and the AFL (American Football League - which later became the NFL's American Football Conference). The cards of the NFL were made by the now defunct Philadelphia Cards which was revived sort of with a new retro football set this year in 2009. The AFL cards were by Topps the most significant card of which is the Joe Namath Rookie Card (RC).

For me its the baseball cards from Topps of that year. The card at the top of Jim Hannan is a typical common card he happens to be of a player from the Washington Senators my fave baseball team as a kid. I would be sorely disappointed in the off season 0f 1971 when they were moved to Texas to become the Rangers. As a result my interest in baseball declined, but oddly enough not my interest in collecting baseball cards, as I also collected football and Non-Sports. I would not get really interested in baseball again until 2003 or '04 (probably 2004 due to the Red Sox World Series Win) just before the announcement that the Montreal Expos, who were owned at the time by the MLB, would move to Washington. They would then become the Washington Nationals.

My two fave cards follow; the first from a player that would be remembered for being a great Washington Senators player, even though he began his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

FRANK HOWARD

The second, and I think my absolute fave card, I think it may have been my "first card" (Since I have two older brothers who at one time collected baseball cards as kids I got many hand-me-downs before I really became involved in serious collecting so I can't remember having a "first card"), from this series is from Mr. Cubbie Himself:

ERNIE BANKS

Friday, October 16, 2009

Card Blogging What A Concept.


Where to begin? I already have a regular blog where I write about whatever, and over at Trading Card Central I have a trading card themed TCC Blog. So now you are reading my official independent trading card blog. I will try to keep both updated regularly with this one being more for the detailed stuff. For more stuff about me you can also visit my personal website that is (or soon will be) in the links section over there on the right hand side bar.

I have a list of trading card blogs that I read semi-regularly. Obviously because of my blog at TCC I participate in the forums over there and I just started tracking my vastly hugely mind-boggling big Collection at zistle.com (a sports card collection tracking website.)
This Blog will concentrate on the world of Trading Cards from yet another unique collector's perspective. I hope you enjoy it.