Wednesday, March 6, 2024

TTM Success: Tom Dukes

   Grabbing TTM off the bottom of the pile, this nice return came from Tom Dukes.  He was a relief pitcher in the late 60's and early 70's for a couple of teams including the Orioles.  He didn't have a mainstream Orioles card released during his time in Charm City but was immortalized in the 1991 Crown Orioles set.  

    He was traded to the Orioles along with Pat Dobson in the 1970-71 offseason from the Padres.  He bounced around the league as a relief pitcher but was fortunate enough to be with the Orioles for their 1971 pennant run.  He pitched in two games in the '71 series against the Pirates, throwing four innings of 2-hit ball.                          

In addition to my card, he included a signed custom postcard of himself.
He also answered my question that I included on an index card:

I sent out on November 11, 2023 and got it back on November 27, 2023 for a 14-day TaT. Thank you very much Mr. Dukes!

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

2 blasters of 2023 Stadium Club

Even though I put these cards away a couple weeks ago, I wanted to show the spoils of my two blaster boxes of  2023 Stadium Club while they are are still somewhat fresh in my mind.  Stadium Club was quite late to the market this year but it's usually worth waiting for.  I heard that it was delayed because the printer actually printed the front of the card on both sides and the whole print run needed to be trashed and redone!  Anyways, I'll lead off with my favorite card of the break:

I've always been a fan of Stadium Club over the years.  Some of the cards of legends of the game, like the Babe Ruth above, have not necessarily shown them actually on the field.  I dig this Orange parallel of George Herman behind the wheel of his car. 

A couple of the inserts that I pulled. I've always enjoyed the INSERT version of Stadium Club Chrome but the base set Topps put out for a few years can suck my toes.  Hats off to my scanner that doesnt believe the bottom left of the Chrome Machado exists.

This was a Acuna insert hot box(es) even though these 2 particular inserts do nothing for me.  Stadium club inserts are quite polarizing.  There's great ones like Instavisions, Beam Teams, Never Compromise and Lone Star Signatures then theres crap like Virtuosos of Velocity and Chief Fantasy Professionals.  woof!
I got two black foils and they were pretty decent players.  I can't complain too much with these guys.
I'm quite happy with these 2 red foils.  Chipper is a guy I collect and the Larkin might be of interest to a certain collector that has a Grande sized collection.  Also, its pretty cool that these are "color match" parallels.  Do you get into color match cards?
Probably the best hit of the box was this Photographer's Proof of Dansby Swanson.  These are hella rare, having a print run of 25.  They aren't numbered so of course nobody looks twice.  I've actually found a JD Martinez Photographer's Proof card in a dime box.  It still languishes on my COMC account to this day.

I didn't get any Orioles cards in either box.  It would be nice to pull cards of the team I actually collect but that's just the way it goes. I'm actually quite pleased otherwise.

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Colonial Heights Card Show: Value?

    Value can mean many different things to different people. I am, through and through, a bargain hunter.  Some may call me cheap, but I know what hard work is and the value of a dollar.  When I go to card shows, I like to take my time and go through all of the dime and quarter boxes that time allows and I've been rewarded by finding some either undervalued or simply misplaced great cards.  It can be mind-numbing for some with a short attention span and the "pelican case mafia" has given me a lot of sideways looks over the last few years.  To each his own... I personally don't put value in what opinions that people may have on my cards.

I went to a smaller card show 2 weeks ago that is about a 20ish minute drive from my house.  I hadn't originally planned on going but at the last minute I decided to go.  In the past, its been a smaller show because of space constraints and this time it was only about 12 or so tables set up in half of the Moose Lodge.  Initially disappointed, I was able to find a couple boxes to dig through.

The first table right inside the door was where I spent most of  my time.  There was a 5000 count box of penny sleeved cards that the dealer said was 50 cents a piece.  I got down to business.  I don't keep a close eye on Topps' website or subscribe to their Brooklyn Club (or whatever its called) so I miss out on all of the online exclusive sets.  No worries, I can buy their tears for a fraction of what they paid.  I was able to grab a handful of Topps Chrome Cosmic from the past 2 years for myself (O's above) and a couple of non-Orioles for other people I know.
My assault on the box continued and I was able to pick out some neat-o inserts of the bigger names of the hobby today.  Its funny to look at the Corbin Carroll card and see that he was ranked as low as he was by the "Bowman Scouts".  I found out that guy is awesome at baseball during the playoffs this past year!
I don't do as much prospecting as a I used to but picking up rookie cards of promising young guns of the game is something I have done more of the last few years.  It makes it better that each of these is a parallel so that adds a little value IMO.  Royce Lewis is also great at baseball in case you hadn't heard and this silver foil parallel now resides in my "good rookie card" box.  I picked up the Logan Gilbert and George Kirby parallels because they are good young pitchers and I think they would look great as Orioles.  There were rumors earlier in the offseason that the Orioles and Mariners talked about them. The Mariners need infield help and the Orioles have (had?) an excess even after trading for Corbin Burnes.  I'm a sucker for the Mojo Refractors and it doesn't hurt that Pasquantino is a local kid.  He played high school ball about 20 minutes in the opposite direction from where this show was held.  Hopefully he turns in a fully healthy season this year.

When I picked up this Cal Ripken, I didn't think I had it already.  I got home and looked in my album and I already did.  Topps has done some confusing SH!T with Stadium Club the last few years so I had screwed up my want and have lists because of it. .  I love Chrome, I really do.  I love getting Stadium Club Chrome INSERTS from regular Stadium Club packs.  I do not love a whole Stadium Club Chrome base set especially when the numbering is all FUDGED up.  There is no consistency between the releases the last few years.  I haven't seen anything about a 2023 Stadium Club Chrome set so maybe Topps came to their senses and stopped with the confusion (wishful thinking?)

Any ways, I finished up with this particular dealer for 8 bucks for 20 cards.  I didn't show all of the cards but they were all epic, trust me!

I moved onto another table with a bunch of boxes sorted by sport and team.  I love it when they do that!  For another buck, I was able to get a green parallel of underrated Dean Kremer from Gypsy Queen and a Topps <shudders> Holiday card of Oriole short-timer Shintaro Fujinami.  I mostly love Gypsy Queen even after they ditched the minis but I could really care less about Topps Holiday.  Its just not a product I can get behind.  In 2023 Topps gave the ax to Gypsy Queen, Opening Day, Fire, and Gallery, bastardized Big League, did not introduce anything new but kept the Holiday collection. Let... that... sink.... in.

So on the whole, I spent less than 10 bucks and was home around noon.  Both huge wins in my book!

Sunday, January 28, 2024

A Tribute to the Best Baseball Player I Knew

     It's been a bit of a rough start to 2024 for my family and I.  The last half of 2023 was no cakewalk because of my father's ongoing health struggle.  Getting him in front of the correct doctors and the correct care he needs while living a couple hours drive and raising a young family has taken put me into survival mode.  In all of the absurdity of real life things happening, I chose to bring this blog out of mothballs and also start sending out TTMs by the boatload.  I will also just briefly mention the subject of career fulfillment and maybe elaborate on it in the future.

    Finding beauty and peace in life has not always come easy.  I had a somewhat rocky upbringing and I believe that it is only by God's hand that I have been able to turn out as decent as I have.  (Taking credit or self-praise also something that is not easy for me to do either)  I still search for answers and ask daily for the purpose of why I have succeeded in life to the degree I have.

    There have been few constants in my entire life.  Baseball cards have been always been around.  They will be here long after I am gone.  

    My father has been around for my 40 years of existence. I don't know how much longer he's going to be around. It's a struggle every time I go to see him.  The drive is long and boring.  It is very tough to carry on meaningful conversation with him even when he remembers who I am. There are only so many pictures on my phone I can show him and ask what he had for lunch.  We will watch whatever football game is on that particular Sunday but he couldn't even tell me what the score is.  Its tough seeing "Super Dad" in such a lowly state.

    The third and final constant was my Grandpa.  As I type this, it was exactly one week ago I was having one of the toughest moments of my life.  I had to make the choice with the doctors at the hospital to only provide comfort care for my grandfather.  The plan was to wait for Monday morning and come up with a plan to get him home where he could pass into eternal rest on his own terms.  It was not to be.  In the wee hours of the morning on January 22nd, 2024, my Grandpa passed into the afterlife with me by his side.  It was quick, and I pray that it was painless.  He sat up in the bed and I asked him "Are you OK, Grandpa?" He replied "I don't know." I rushed out of the room to get the nurse and when we returned ten seconds later, he was gone.  It is the only time I had ever heard my Grandpa say that he didn't know.

    That was the great man my Grandpa was.  He was the most genuine person I'd ever known.  He was the rock of our family and never wavered or changed until he padded.  He lived 90 full years of life and was a farmer right up until he was 85.  The only reason he quit is because my grandmother needed care during her terminal battle with dementia.  To me, it always seemed he  knew exactly what he was doing and exactly how he was going to do it.  It's funny that he became a farmer. I can assure that if he had chosen to be an astronaut or a police officer, he would have been the best around.  He had the drive and determination to be the best.  He was the best farmer around.  He always had the straightest rows, the healthiest crops, and the highest yields.  I will always treasure the countless times I rode with him in the the tractor, combine, or grain truck.  Even as I got into my teens and was able to help him stack seed bags, he could still out work me.  

    Our many fishing trips out on the Potomac River will always have a place in my heart because it always seemed to turn into "catching" instead of just fishing.  It was on one of these trips where I witnessed the only time he ever showed the slightest bit of frustration.  Somehow, while casting is line out, he lost his grip and accidently casted his whole rod into the drink!  He waved his hands toward the water in disgust and sat down on one of the chairs in the boat.  Luckily, after a few casts of my rod, I was able to somehow catch is gear and pull it back into the boat.  The only time in 40 years I experienced my Grandpa get upset.

    So, in going through some of his belongings late last week, I came across a baseball.  I had never seen it before, nor had it ever been brought up in conversation.  See for yourself:

    Its a bit beat up, but you can see it says "Homerun Ball, Reedville, April 14, 1949."  That was his Senior (or maybe Junior) year of high school.  Since it is in his possession and the only known one in existence, I believe this ball is more valuable than even a Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, or Stan Musial homerun ball. There are plenty of baseballs from fancy major leaguers floating around in various collections across the globe but there is only one Weymouth Hughes homerun ball, and I have it.  That is the definition of priceless.

Take a look at the other side of this ball:

    I think since the ball is missing this section of rawhide, when he hit it, the cover actually came off of it.  Nobody has told me otherwise, so that's the story I'm going to go with.  My dad told me stories of how he was told how great of a baseball player Grandpa was during his youth and as a young adult.  There was a league in eastern Virginia called the Chesapeake league that he played in.  He was named pitcher of the year a few times and was also an awesome hitter.  He later played in the men's fastpitch softball league that was huge in the Northern Neck and Middle peninsula area of Virginia in the 60's, 70's and 80's.  He had hung up the spikes by the time I was born in 1983.  While I never got to see him play,  I have no doubt that he was the best baseball player I ever knew.

    It is a testament to his legacy that so many people showed up to pay their respects today at his funeral. In a small town everybody knows everybody and everybody knew my Grandpa.  I even reconnected with folks I knew when I was growing up that I didn't even know I was related to today. It was an absolute honor to stand in front of them today and tell them what he meant to me.  At the same time, it was one of the toughest things I had ever done and one of the easiest things I had ever done. It was wonderful to hear each and every person I spoke with today told me how great of a guy he was.  We will all miss him.

I Love You Grandpa

Thursday, January 18, 2024

TTM Success: Wes Stock

 These two returns came in from Wes Stock recently.  Both of these cards are a bit beat up but they still look great signed. I've noticed on the inside of most of the return envelopes that there ends up being a bit of the ink from the cards rubbing off. causing the paper loss you can see on the 1961 Topps just below.

It seems that this is unavoidable.  I could risk putting the cards in soft sleeves, top loaders, or even card savers but there's been some collectors having horror stories that the protection ends up getting signed instead of the cards.  I started out using index cards as protection and the results have been mixed.  I've just gone to leaving the cards loose in the envelope and hoping for the best.  That's mostly the name of the game for chasing TTMs anyways.

I Sent these two cards out on October 28th, 2023 and got them back on November 24th, 2023 for a 27 day TAT.  Thank You Mr. Stock!

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

TTM Success: Dyar Miller

 This was a nice return I got back just before Thanksgiving.  Dyar Miller is known as a very gracious signer and will write a note back to you.  Looking back, it made me smile the day I got it back and it made me smile again when I just looked at it.  He thanked me for being a baseball fan and especially for being an O's fan.  He wrote in the letter that he still follows them closely and was pretty happy the way the season went.  He then wished me and my family to stay safe and healthy and to have a great holiday season. What a class act.

I Sent these cards out on November 6th 2023 and got them back on November 24th 2023 for an 18day TAT. Thank You Mr. Miller!

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

TTM Success: Paul Mitchell

This TTM was a pretty quick and easy affair.  Paul Mitchell didn't play for the Orioles for a very long because he was shipped to the Athletics in the trade that brought Reggie Jackson to Charm City.  Mr. Mitchell has a nice signature that I wish I had gotten him to also put on an Orioles Crown card.  Beginner's stupidity has led me to make a comedy of errors in sending cards through the mail to get autographed.  You live, you learn that you're a dumbass.

I sent to this 1976 Topps out on November 7th 2023 and got it back on November 21st 2023 for a tidy 14 day TAT. Thank You Mr. Mitchell!

Monday, January 15, 2024

TTM Success: Fred Beene

 This Orioles Crown return was a quick one from former Orioles pitcher Fred Beene.  He also pitched for the Yankees and Indians during his career. He had a respectable 3.63 ERA mostly as a bullpen arm, but seemed to walk too many batters.  I'm mainly focusing on Orioles autographs so I only sent this one card.  He shared his rookie card with another former Orioles star, Terry Crowley. I tend to shy away from getting duo and triple player cards signed through the mail so I decided against sending it to him.  

A fun fact about Fred Beene is that after his playing days were over, he was a Brewers scout for 20 years. On of his most notable signings was Jim Morris when he was originally drafted.  If you remember Jim Morris's story was the subject of the baseball movie, "The Rookie".  Jim Morris had several arm issues, retired and then made his MLB debut 16 years after originally being drafted.

This was one of my first couple of requests that I sent out with an index card question: 

I love that he name dropped Thurman Munson in his response. I appreciate his time to write a well thought out response.

I sent my card and index card question on November 10th 2023 and got them back on November 20th 2023 for a 10 day TAT.  Thank You Mr. Beene!