Thursday, June 30, 2011

How do you like them-New or Old?

Not too long ago, I got a request from Bruce who hails from Washington state, and does some great writing and reporting at Baseball Mexico. It is the only English language blog dedicated to the game played south of the border. Bruce did a great write up about reprint cards, and asked me to share it with all the card collectors out there. I think Bruce did a great write up, and you should give it a read. I will gladly forward all comments on to Bruce.

REPRINT CARDS: The Affordable Collectibles

Before you read further, ask yourself two questions: Do you collect cards primarily as an investment? Is price no object? If the answer to both is “Yes,” I’ll save you time right now and advise you to move on to something else…what’s next is for people who collect baseball cards as a hobby and not a business, particularly those of us who are on a budget and have to watch how much we spend on them.

I started collecting baseball cards in 1969 when I was 10 years old and became a fan of the sport, particularly a fan of my hometown Seattle Pilots. I still have the very first card I was ever given (a Topps card from that year of Padres’ infielder Bobby Klaus), but over time my collection numbered well into the thousands. By 1990, when I turned 31, I probably had over 25,000 cards…not a huge amount by many standards, but it sure seemed like quite a few to me. But by then, however, something had changed: Collecting cards wasn’t fun anymore.

Growing up, you had one choice of cards to buy: Topps. Some years were better than others, but you knew who was putting the cards out because Topps had a monopoly. Fleer and Donruss broke the monopoly in 1981, followed by Upper Deck in 1988, Score in 1989 (the year Topps resurrected Bowman, a company they’d bought out in 1956), and then things really got crazy in the 1990’s, with all kinds of competitors, subsets, chase cards and so on. It was pretty hard to keep track of things, but that wasn’t the worst of it. By the 90’s, something else had sucked the joy out of card collecting: Speculators.

We all know how speculation works. A player gets got on the field and the value of his card goes up…and down if he cools off. Anyone remember the Kevin Maas craze? What speculators did was drive the overall price of cards up, while turning what had been a hobby for most of us into a business that could get cutthroat. So there I was with thousands of cards representing something that was no longer fun. Until one day in 1991.

By 1991, when I was burned out on something that had ceased to be a hobby, card shops had popped up all over the place and, while trying to become the kind of “businessman” who’d taken over collecting, I took a Mario Lemieux rookie card into a local shop to see what it would bring me. I looked around until I spotted something I’d never seen…a complete set of Topps cards from 1953. I was transfixed. They’d reissued those old cards? Sure enough, I asked a few questions and learned Topps had indeed put out an Archives set that year. I ended up trading the Lemieux card straight across for the unopened box set. I was hooked.

From that point on, I started seeking out reprint sets wherever I could find them, not an easy thing in the earliest days of the Internet and not having a computer to begin with, but I started picking up sets: 1933 Goudeys here, 1909 T-206s there, 1953 Bowmans way over there…you get the point. Fortunately, I didn’t have to spend much money because I had a pretty good bargaining tool with all those thousands of cards I’d collected for over 20 years. Eventually the number of original Topps cards dwindled to around the present 10,000 at the same time I was snapping up over 7,000 reprint cards spanning eight decades (even some “reprints” of cards that had never been issued like the 1942 Play Balls and three years of Parkhurst cards representing the 50’s and 60’s, including a Bobby Orr “rookie” card). As far as I can tell, I now have every reprint card ever put out. It would have cost a million even without the T-206 Wagner to collect the originals in pristine condition, but the reprints? Even without trading for them, I doubt if I’ve spent $500. And they’re worth every penny to me even though I’ll never sell them.

Reprint cards aren’t for everyone. I do have some older original cards and I’ll be the first to admit there’s nothing quite like them. But you know what? I can’t afford a lot of them…things like food, gas, the power bill, and stuff like that keep getting in the way. So if, like me, you collect cards because you LIKE them, as opposed to using them like a Mutual Fund, why not spend a fraction of the cost of one original (that might be dinged up anyway) and get a reprint instead? Stick around and I’ll tell you two good, inexpensive ways to see if reprints are for you.

Let’s start out talking about the most inexpensive way to decide if reprints are an affordable alternative for collecting cards for you. Way back in 1977, Dover Publishing (which specializes in low-cost books) put out “Classic Baseball Cards,” a magazine-sized paperback which featured 98 perforated reprint cards dating from the 1880’s through the 1950’s. One year later, Dover issued “Hall of Fame Baseball Cards,” which included 92 perforated reprint cards from the 1880’s into the 1960’s. If you want to spend as little as possible to sample reprint cards, try buying one or both of these books. You can either keep the cards in the books (which are really magazines with cardstock pages) or pull them out. Either way, if you take a look at eBay or Amazon and spend less than $5 for either, even with the shipping, and you can get both for under $10 total, which is not bad for 190 cards..including THE Wagner card.

Later similar issues from Dover included books for National League cards, American League cards, selected cards from the 1953 Bowman set (in lush Kodachrome glory) and the complete 50-card 1911 Mecca Double Folders set. The 14 vintage cards pictured with this article are from all six books. Only three books are still available at $5.95 each through Dover (including the first two), but they’re widely available elsewhere, usually used. Be advised that the quality of paper is not as good as reprint sets out there, the card backs are printed in black & white and these are just “type cards,” but this is the cheapest way to get started. If you decide you’re not into it, you’ve lost little.

If you’d like something a little less “entry level” in quality, I’ll next tell you about a way to get ten smaller (up to 72 cards each) complete card sets for less than $100.

The next best way to get your feet wet would be to pick a few smaller complete sets of reprints, many of which are available through Larry Fritsch Cards of Wisconsin. This will be a bit more expensive because you’re getting real cards, not just perforated pages in a magazine, and the quality of the cardstock and printing is much higher. Here’s a list I threw together of 10 smaller reprint sets totalling 298 cards from 1869 through 1959 you can get through Fritsch for under $100 (including $10.95 shipping & handling):

$ 4.95 1869 Peck & Snyder Cincinnati Red Stockings (1 card)

$ 5.95 1887-8 N28-29 Allen & Ginter (16 cards)

$ 7.95 1909 E95 Philadelphia Caramels (25 cards)

$ 7.95 1911 D304 General Baking (25 cards)

$ 6.95 1921 E253 Oxford Confectionary (20 cards)

$ 6.96 1933 DeLong (24 cards)

$10.28 1938 Goudey Heads-Up (48 cards)

$14.41 1941 Play Ball (72 cards)

$ 6.48 1948 Bowman (48 cards)

$ 9.95 1959 Home Run Derby (19 cards)

I’m not trying to give Fritsch Cards free advertising (I’ve been a customer for years) because they can get a little spendy. It IS worth looking around, especially if you decide to get a larger reprint set like the 1933 Goudeys (240 cards) or T-206s (524 cards). However, if you’re looking to buy a number of sets, the shipping is cheaper than cherry-picking here and there online, plus if you’ve got some cards of your own you’d be willing to trade, they’re not afraid to do a little wheeling and dealing. Fritsch Cards is a family-owned business, easy to work with and their catalog is breathtaking:

So there you are. One last time, reprints aren’t for everyone. But if you’d always wanted your own Honus Wagner, Bob Feller or Mickey Mantle card, this is a great way to do it without selling your house to get one. It’s about the card, not the investment.

By Bruce Baskin

Copyright 2011

“Would you rather spend thousands of dollars for these cards or less than $20?

Top (L to R): 1886 Allen & Ginter Cap Anson, 1909 T-206 Honus Wagner, 1912 Hassan Triple Folders Ty Cobb/Hugh Jennings, 1915 Cracker Jack Joe Jackson;

Center: 1933 Tattoo Orbit Dizzy Dean, 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth, 1935 Diamond Stars Carl Hubbell, 1934 Goudey Lou Gehrig, 1938 Goudey Bob Feller;

Bottom: 1941 Play Ball Joe DiMaggio, 1950 Bowman Warren Spahn, 1951 Bowman Ted Williams, 1952 Bowman Mickey Mantle, 1953 Bowman Stan Musial.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Your attention please...

In the next couple of days I'm planning on having a guest post on the blog. It comes from another blogger who writes about baseball but in a different way. The only hint I will give you about the post is to think NEW vs. OLD. I think that everyone will be interested to see what he wrote and am looking forward to hearing your opinions on the subject.

Monday, June 27, 2011

I'm a believer

I think this kid is destined for greatness. I think he will end up being better than the guy drafted before him, what's his name Stepheen Stras--?? That's right, the #2 pick from 2009 was Seattle's new star Dustin Ackley. The kid can hit the ball, he can catch it. and is heads up on the bases. Look at last night in the 10th inning:

Marlins reliever Steve Cishek was trying to intentionally walk Carlos Peguero, but the throws kept getting wider, and wider. Dustin was heads up and scored the go ahead run when he broke for home. Of course the Mariners had to hold on in the bottom of the 10th, since we were the visitors. I liked this change in the game with NL rules in an AL park. Let's hope that coming home to Safeco will help the Mariners do something with the Braves, who we welcome to town for the first time since 2003.

Big thanks also to Mint Condition for making this sweet Dustin Ackley custom 1993 Topps card yesterday!!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

It's better to receive than give

I know it sounds selfish, but I'm not talking about myself. That honor would go to King Felix, getting a hit for himself and giving hardly any to the Marlins. Last night at Safeco Field and for the weekend, the Florida Marlins are the "home team." That means NL rules. In the history of Safeco Field, only once has a pitcher stepped into the batter's box. On July 31, 2000 Hipilito Pichardo of the Boston Red Sox had to step in because of a double switch. He would see five pitches and be struck out by Jose Paniagua of the Mariners. Last night, the Mariners were able to get Felix Hernandez to the plate before the Marlins' Ricky Nolasco. On an 0-1 count, Felix would reach out and hit a ball through the hole and get a single to right field.

Felix was a little shaky in the beginning, but he settled down and shut down the home team. His line for the night would end up looking like this: 8 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 K, 115 pitches. Yes he gave up TWO hits, and collected a base hit for himself. Felix did have a bigger hit on June 23, 2008 in Shea Stadium against Johan Santana, hitting a grand slam off him.

I kind of like the idea of maybe changing things  up with interleague play. How about NL rules in AL parks, and DH's and AL rules in the NL parks. Something to think about. It looks like my son and I might have a boy's night tonight and head to the Safe to watch some history. If so, I will have the camera with me for some history catching.

Friday, June 24, 2011

At home on the road

Or is it on the road at home? Either way, Seattle is the home of a two time World Series winning team. See, we have to rings to prove it.

It will be nice to come home, after three disappointing losses, all by 1 run to the Nationals in our nation's capital. If you have any way to watch the games from here in Seattle this weekend, I suggest you do so. The Marlins were booted out of their home stadium this weekend for a U2 concert. That means for the first time in the 15 years of Interleague play, the the home stadium will have it's regular tenant be the visiting team or something like that.  New Marlins manager Jack McKeon, Hanley Ramirez, and the Marlins will be the home team in Seattle this weekend.

The game will played under National League rules with the pitchers hitting, and the Marlins will bat last. They decided not to bring their home whites, so they will be in grays, and the M's in white but being the visitors. I'm going to try and get to the game this weekend to see some history. This should be a fun sight to see.

Also, it was weird to see another former Mariner manager just up and quit. Mike Hargrove did here a few years ago. Now, after beating the M's again in a 1 run game, Jim Riggleman walked away from his team.

"Well guys, that's it I quit!"

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hit or Miss??

I really can't tell which one is the real player. This guy has had a breakout in the last month. But it is definitely not the player we saw in AAA Tacoma or Seattle.

Michael Morse came to the Mariners in 2004 with Miguel Olivo from the White Sox for Freddy Garcia. While continually bouncing up and down, Morse had a hard time finding a consistent position and playing time. While originally drafted and playing as a shortstop in the minors, Mike was growing as a player. The Mariners had a possible shortstop of the future( ha ha) in Yuniesky Betancourt. Michael would start learning new positions to broaden his chances.

Michael was toiling in Tacoma when manager Daren Brown called him into his office in 2009. Mike thought he was going back up to Seattle. Nope, he had been dealt to the Nationals for Ryan Langerhans. While continuing to bounce between Washington and AAA Syracuse, Michael was starting to wonder if he was going to stick or not. The Nationals were young and still trying to make it. In May, the Nationals nearly released Mike. With the injury to Adam LaRoche, Michael has seen ample playing time and is hitting the ball well. Let's hope at 29, the prospect that has waited has arrived.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bloggers make the best Traders

Not long ago, the Topps Series 2 cards started coming out. As I have done in the past, I begged all of you to send me any extra Mariners to me so I don't have to buy them. (...Joe) from The Sandlot was the first to help out with a card of Erik Bedard. Next came an e-mail from Anthony of Cheap Card Collecting. Anthony had been a case break, and had 5 team sets of Series 2 for the Mariners. Here's what it looks like:

 I Like the fact that most of the new guys all are in M's unis or Spring Training unis, but they decided to keep Jack Cust airbrushed. Bad idea Topps, get it right, please!

Anthony was also kind enough to send a few extra goodies that he got from the Series 2 stuff. My son has already claimed the 3 cards of Felix.

Big thanks again to Anthony and Joe for killing Series 2 so quickly. Now it's time to wait for the cards from the Update Series.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hanging with the Stars

It seems as though all my free time has been spent coaching my son's All Star baseball team. I'm not complaining though, it has been the funnest experience. This team has gelled quickly and is playing good ball. We have also kind of had the cavalcade of former players in our midst. A couple of weeks ago in our manager's back yard we played the son of this guy:

Not only did we play against Mike Blowers' son, Mike showed up for part of the game. He also had great things to say about having a field of dreams in your backyard. Last week our team finished 2nd in our tournament. While his son was playing in a tournament for kids that were a little older, we find out that in our midst was The Bone-Jay Buhner.

After finishing 3rd in our tourney yesterday, we lost to a team coached by this former Mariner.

Dan Wilson was the first base coach for his son's Pony League All Star team. I wouldn't have probably recognized Dan at first if someone wouldn't have pointed him out.

It is great to see the former players involved in their kids sports and helping the teams. Nice work guys!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Getting his feet wet

An awful performance by the Mariners last night had a highlight. New call-up Dustin Ackley hits his first MLB home run.

It would be the only run support Felix would get. The Mariners let this game slip away 5-1. It is great to see Dustin hit a single in his very first at bat off Roy Oswalt. The first homer came off Vance Worley. While Dustin is only 2 for 8 so far, he is surviving. His defense has been good, and he will continue to improve. I'm really starting to like the look of this Mariners future.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Trade Bait

Is your favorite team in a pennant race? Do you think it would behove them to pick up a cheap lefty for the remainder of the season? I've got a deal for you...The Mariners currently have a guy that is looking good this year, is on a one year deal, and won't be here next year. Ladies and gentlemen, I offer you and your team Mr. Erik Bedard

Erik is coming off multiple surgeries, but is 4-4 in 13 starts with a 3.16 ERA,  23 walks ands 70 strikeouts in 77 innings. You need to go easy on the elbow and shoulder and not overuse him, but I think he would help a team make a push.

 Also, big congrats are in order for Dustin Ackley for getting the call to the big leagues. Dustin will get to see his first action on Friday night when the Phillies come to town. It should be a great series with the M's one game out of first behind the Rangers.  Bring your best Phillies fans!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Beg and you shall receive

Not long ago, I asked for the usual help to start making my way through the Mariners in Series 2. As of right now there is one less card needed. Thanks to ...Joe at The Sandlot, I now have my first card from Series 2. Welcome home Mr. Bedard:

I didn't have time to scan the card

Also, I have an offer that has come to me to complete this thing already. I'm going to get in contact with that awesome blogger, and I will let everyone know how that works out. If it is that simple again to knock these sets out, the blog land is an awesome place.

The train has come off the track in Seattle. We can't hit the ball or score runs to save our lives. If it wasn't for one bad 1st inning, we might have had a chance. Here is the tough luck Chuck from last night:

Doug Fister has the lowest run support in the AL this year. This poor guy pitches well, but has to be perfect or will lose because his offense doesn't help him. Let's salvage one tonight with Erik Bedard on the bump.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

HELP! I need somebody

Help! Not just anybody. Help! You know I need someone, HELP! OK, enough with the Beatles lyrics. Let's talk Topps Series 2 for a minute. As most people know things happen in the east first. I know that everybody is posting about Series 2, but I haven't seen it yet way up here in the corner of the map. Now that it is out, it has come for the time again when I beg and plead with all the great bloggers to help out a Mariners fan with their extra cards from Series 2. Here is the checklist cards I will be looking for:

333 Tom Wilhelmsen

362 Doug Fister

385 Ichiro

399 Adam Moore

402 Jack Cust

403 Felix Hernandez( just need a base card, not gold)

468 Chone Figgins(just need a base card, not gold)

477 Franklin Gutierrez

483 Justin Smoak (just need 1 card, not 2)

530 Felix Hernandez (just need a base card, not gold)

589 Mariners Team Card

595 Michael Pineda

618 Josh Lueke

624 Luke French
all photos of Series 2 cards courtesy of eBay

If anyone comes across extras of these or just doesn't want them, I can use them for the Super Set. Thanks again to everyone in the blog world for the help that will come in making this happen.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Translation please

After getting no run support and Felix not being very sharp last night, The M's lost again. With the Rangers losing the last two days, we had a chance to make up ground with our two studs pitching.

thanks to WhiteSoxCards
I guess the Mariners are hoping that by finally bringing up Mike Carp, his numbers will translate in the big leagues. He is in the middle of a 22 game hitting streak, and has a .348 average with 19 HR, and 58 RBI's. I don't know if AAA numbers will adjust up in the majors but we will find out as Mike should join the team today in Chicago.

Let's hope that the M's can salvage a game in Chi-town before we jet off to the Motor City for four games with the Tigers.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Danks for nothing

What was the license on that truck last night? The M's got steamrolled by this guy:

John Danks came into last night's game at 0-8 with a 5.58 ERA. Last night he looked like Cy Young out on the bump. All we get is 7 hits and one run. Big Mike Pineda countered Danks and looked good again last night. I'm starting to think there is a good chance that Pineda could make the All Star team this season. Right now, in my mind he has a good shot at the Rookie of the Year too.

Mr. Halman had another great night last night going 3 for 3 again.

Let's hope that the Mariners can right the ship tonight behind King Felix in the Windy City.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Welcome Back

Welcome back to the big leagues Greg Halman.

The kid just goes out and goes 3 for 4 with a triple and 2 RBI's yesterday. The M's take 3 of 4 from the Rays, and go 7-3 on the home stand. Nice work by the hometown 9. Now it's off to the Windy City to take on the Pale Hose. The Mariners have won 6 series in a row and sit 2 1/2 games behind the Rangers. This team is fun again.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Down on the Farms

While the Mariners lost in close fashion yesterday, they fell 2 1/2 games behind the Rangers. When you look at the future Mariners is also a mixed bag of where the teams are this year.

AAA Tacoma Rainiers 24-33 10 GB
The Rainiers have had a rough go with guys up and down to Seattle. They are 3-7 in their last 10.

AA Jackson Generals 34-22 1 GB of Tennessee
The Generals are on a tear going 8-2 in their last 10. Many of the future of the M's in AA right now.

High A High Desert Mavericks 28-28 3 GB of Rancho Cucamonga
The Mavericks are 6-4 in their last 10. The California League is tough to judge. The Mavericks do play in thin air though.

Low A Clinton LumberKings 18-39 20 GB
This is a very young team and it looks like they will only improve over time as they move up.

Short Season Everett AquaSox
The AquaSox return to action on the 22nd of this month for short season ball.

Rookie Pulaski Mariners
Many of the young kids that will get drafted this year will most likely be in Virginia soon. They start on the 21st of June.

If any of these teams play in your area, go give the Mariners farmies some love.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Rockin and Rollin

It is starting to be fun times here in the Emerald City. Last night before the M's game, Seattle native and Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready performed the National Anthem.
(I don't know why it won't just show the video) CLICK it, it is awesome

Then the Mariners got down to business. Jason Vargas was on his game last night. A complete game, 4 hit shutout. There was nothing the Rays could do to get to Vargas.

The offense was powered by the long ball again. Justin Smoak with his 10th homer of the year, and Adam Kennedy and Miguel Olivo going back to back. Let's just keep the Rays in town for the rest of the year and we could have a great record. Also, in a related note, Michael Saunders was sent to Tacoma and Greg Halman will get a chance back up in Seattle.