Monday, February 27, 2017

You've Got Mail #62: Sportscards From the Dollar Store

One of my goals is to take a trip to Canada sometime. To start with, it'd be a few days in Toronto for the Hockey Hall of Fame, either a Blue Jays or Maple Leafs game (depending on the season), and assorted other things. My main thing one day is to take a trip through western Canada and see places like Edmonton, Calgary, and Winnipeg. Since I don't have the funds (or a passport) right now to do such a thing, I'll have to experience Canada vicariously through trade packages from everyone's favorite blogger to the north, Douglas from Sportscards From the Dollar Store.

Hockey is pretty popular north of the border, not so much down where I live though, but I do see the rogue Blue Jackets hat or shirt now and then. Speaking of which, these Blue Jackets cards are very cool, especially the Brandon Saad, which feeds my new addiction of "shiny cards". I haven't officially declared shiny cards as a mini-collection yet but in time, I might. The Jackets have trailed off recently  and are now floating in between as the #1 wild card seed or third place in the Metropolitan Division.

More Blue Jackets cards, this time of the Score variety. I like Upper Decks offerings every year but some of them can be on the expensive side when buying packs. I kind of miss Panini being in the hockey card game sometimes as they would have sets on the cheaper end of the spectrum, like Score. These are all nice but look at the Sergei Bobrovsky card. It's definitely a bit odd and I'm not sure why Panini would use a horizontal picture but use the vertical name stripe.

Speaking of Panini hockey products, here are a couple cards from the 2013-14 Rookie Anthology release. Each of Columbus home uniforms are represented with the blue one being their alternate. Personally, I'm partial to the white and blue jersey as the alternate just seems a little boring.

Hockey cards weren't the only thing that made their way down from the great white north, baseball and football were included as well. The Palmer card filled up the empty slot in the back page of my tiny football binder quite well and the other two cards went right into the Reds collection. I was pretty happy to see a Robert Stephenson Dayton Dragons card as Dragons cards are hard to come by.

There were also a good number of Reds from 2016 Topps Series 2 and Update. Some of these may be dupes, I'm not sure though. I know the Jay Bruce All-Star card is for sure. I'll need to do some sorting to double check on the rest of them.

Finally, this was the star of the show, a nice three-color swatch from former Bengals RB Mohammed Sanu. My football collecting has slowed down a lot recently but it's still nice to add a cool card like this to my relic and autograph box. 

Again, a big thanks to Douglas for sending over these cards. I'll have to find some more stuff for you to send out later this year. Two more packages to get through and then I'll be caught up on trade posts!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

You've Got Mail #61: Highly Subjective & Completely Arbitrary

I'm woefully behind on trade packages, just thought I'd throw that out there from the start. As I mentioned previously, my time to scan cards in recently has been pretty much nonexistent as I've been working on other stuff around the house and weekends have been packed full recently. I'm going to try to get caught up on these ASAP as there is a good amount of people who have sent me packages and I feel bad about falling behind.

One of those aforementioned people who sent me cards is Brian from Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary. I've probably mentioned this before, but Brian is the first person I traded with when I started this blog and we've been sending cards back and forth ever since. This time, he loaded me up with a good number of Reds, Expos, Indians, and some great vintage goodies.

I'll start things off with one of my favorite cards of the package, this Topps Gallery Tony Perez bat relic card. This is a really, really nice piece. I like the uniqueness of the color palate on the side and the painting of Perez is pretty much perfect. 

Shiny objects! I think like most everyone, I'm attracted to shiny objects, like these cards here. The card on the left, Ben Lively, is a die-cut. Don't remember him playing for the Reds? That's OK because he didn't, he's just pictured in a Reds uniform because that's what Bowman does. Also, he was traded on New Year's Eve 2014 to the Phillies for noted malcontent Marlon Byrd.

More shiny cards, this time of the mid-90s variety. I've always had this dilemma to peel or not to peel on early chrome cards. I peeled once and instantly regretted the decision. Therefore, I think it's best just to leave it as it. Plus, it makes the card a bit more unique.

Shiny cards weren't the only thing Brian threw in, he also loaded me up on some Reds from the 1994 Fleer set. I must say, that's a really fun looking set, compared to the Fleer cards of the early 90s.

Are you down with OPC? I certainly am. I found some 2009 O-Pee-Chee rack packs completely randomly at the local grocery store last spring. I jumped on them and I'm glad I did as I haven't seen them since. The one thing I don't really like about this set is that the majority of it is a staged studio shots and those are no fun. The Bronson Arroyo card isn't though, it's neat, kind of POV shot of him lobbing the ball towards home. I really hope he manages to make the team this year in his comeback attempt.

A couple new cards for the Votto collection. Donruss Optic was good in small doses, just not a whole box of it like I did but the New Age Performers insert is one I've always liked with Topps Heritage. Speaking of Heritage, who else is excited that this year's design is the classic 1968 design? I definitely am!

To wrap up the Reds portion of this, here are a few more shiny cards from Score Certified Premium. I had to scan these in a binder page as they were suffering from that wonderful thing that chrome-type cards do something, curl. Regardless, they're really nice looking cards and will slot nicely into the Reds binder I'm currently working on.

Moving upstate now, Brian included a good selection of Indians cards, including some Bowman, some Panini Contenders (which was an awesome release), and a first home run card of Brandon Phillips, who the Reds traded to the Braves last week for a mere pittance.

These highlight of the year cards I find really neat mainly because of the old players and old team logos that are sometimes featured. For a moment, I though it was Bob Feller on the card but instead it's Bob Lemon.  That's okay though as it's still got someone in an old school Indians uniform with the old logo as well.

A couple more Indians and two pretty interesting cards. First, the Jody Gerut card on the left is a Diamond Kings card from the early 2000s, complete with frame around it. The other is a card celebrating Asdrubal Carrera's unassisted triple play. I feel it's proper that's on a card titled "Rarities".

I love the 80s! Especially when they're Expos cards from the 80s! You can't really go wrong with cards of Gary Carter and Tim Raines from 1982.

Another thing that is always appreciated is vintage Expos and these are just perfect. I didn't know that Maury Wills ever played for the Expos so this was new to me. Apparently he was picked up in the expansion draft from the Pirates but was traded back to the Dodgers mid-season with Manny Mota of all people in exchange for Ron Fairly and Paul Popovich.

The final batch of Expos I'll show here are some more modern offerings. The Gold Label Vlad Guerrero card is just awesome, but then again, anything featuring Vlad Guerrero is pretty awesome.

If what I've shown above isn't enough, here's the real meat of the package. I really dig these autograph cards, especially the Kearns back when he showed a lot of promise. The Mike Clevenger card is from Bowman's Best, a release that usually comes late in the season when I've usually moved on to hockey cards.

Some autographed Expos cards with crazy 90s pitcher Carlos Perez and a card I actually have sort of wanted, a really nice Jose Vidro autograph from Topps Archives.

But this, this is the jewel of the package, a 1951 Topps Grady Hatton red back. This makes the first 1951 Topps that I now own and I'm pretty impressed at the condition for it being 65 years old. By the time you read this, I've already secured it in a penny sleeve and a top loader and it will hang out with with all the others in my box of "good stuff".

Thanks again to Brian for sending over all these awesome cards, plus the others I didn't show. Sorry it took me so long to get a post up about them. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

68 Years Ago

Photo Credit: Wikipedia
 I've mentioned this before but the Cincinnati Gardens is inching ever so close to becoming a distant memory. After the initial shock of the sale last summer and the announcement that it'll be shuttered as an active arena, I'd finally made peace with the fact it will no longer be around. Then today on Twitter I saw that it was the 68th anniversary of the Gardens opening and nostalgia came flooding back.

Photo Credit: Ronny Salerno
The picture above was taken by local photographer Ronny Salerno of the awesome Queen City Discovery site as in a great shot of the interior of the old hockey barn out on Seymour Avenue is a less than desirable part of town. The reason I chose to use this picture to show the inside is because 68 years ago, the Gardens opened with an exhibition hockey game between Montreal and their farm team, the Dallas Texans. That first week saw both an University of Cincinnati and a Xavier University basketball game, and a boxing match featuring Ezzard Charles but hockey is really what made the Gardens.

Over the years, numerous teams played there, the Mohawks, the Swords, the first iteration of the Cyclones, and the Mighty Ducks just to name a few. Once the Mighty Ducks left town, the Gardens was left without a pro hockey team for the first time in its history. There was a team that was supposed to replace them, the Railraiders, but they never took the ice.

Today, the dasher boards have been pulled up, the scoreboard has been lowered, the seats and memorabilia have been auctioned off, and the last fans have long ago exited the building. As I mentioned in my post back in the summer, I'm going to miss the old place, despite the fact the last event I went to there was in 2011. I only went to three events there, all pro wrestling events, and I still have the ticket stubs as proof that I set foot in the legendary venue.

Now, even though the wrecking ball is imminent, the memories will remain. All that's left for now is to turn out the lights ...

Good bye, old friend, it's been fun.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Hockey for Kids

Image from Cincinnati Cyclones website
Apologies for the lack of posts recently, my time to scan in cards has been pretty much non-existant. However, I seem to be getting some of that time back so expect more posts soon. Getting more free time means the family and I can do more fun stuff, like going to a hockey game, which is exactly what the family and I did yesterday.

My wife, son, and I, along with my mom, made the trek down to old U.S. Bank Arena in downtown Cincinnati yesterday to take in the Cyclones kids matinee game. We weren't planning to go at first but when the PBS Kids characters were added, we decided to give it a go.

We got there with about ten minutes to go before puck drop, just enough time to find our seats, even though we had front row. It was a little confusing as the sections sort of blended together that far down but we found them. Here's a picture of us right before puck drop.

A few years ago we tried taking him to a Reds game but it didn't go well and we ended up leaving by the third inning. This time, we had better success. Popcorn is his favorite snack so my mom bought the $10 tub with unlimited refills and some drinks (RC Cola to be exact). That managed to keep him going and keep him focused on the game. By the way, the popcorn was the best I've ever had at an arena or stadium, even better than what you would find in a movie theater honestly.

Here are a few pictures of my son standing at the glass watching the action. There was a guy next to us would occasionally bang on the glass and every time he did so, my son joined in on the action.

As for the game itself, it was a pretty high scoring game. The Cyclones were up 4-0 just after halfway through the second but Fort Wayne came back with two goals in the second and two more in the third to tie it up at 4-4. Overtime didn't solve the situation so the game went to a shootout. Unfortunately, by this time my son was getting fussy and tired so left before the shootout commenced. We didn't leave empty handed though, as we got him a first game certificate, an official game puck that I bough at the merch stand, along with a drawstring carry bag as the free giveaway, and a BOGO coupon for the local burrito chain since the Cyclones scored a power play goal.

The real reason we came though was so my son could meet the PBS Kids characters. He got to meet Super Why and Princess Pea but the main attraction for him was Daniel Tiger. Even though he's grown out of watching Daniel Tiger on TV, he still carries around his Daniel plush with him everywhere. He seemed really happy to have seen Daniel and to have gotten his picture with him.

All in all, it was a really, really fun time had by everyone and we're definitely planning a return trip sometime next season. On the way back to the car, I couldn't help but stop and take this picture of the amazing sunset. A glorious sunset on a day we'll all look back and remember fondly.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Card Shop Chronicles: Magic City Sports Cards (Akron, OH)

Gosh, it's been a while since I've done one of these.

Anyway, I was visiting family in Akron (well, Copley ... which is near Akron) over the weekend and as usual, my uncle and I do a card shop trip. Instead of opting for the two regular shops, I decided to look and see if there were any others in the area. As it turns out, there was.

On a street just off Interstate 76, there is a place called Magic City Sports Cards. I found it via a Google Search but wasn't sure it was actually still in business. I called a few days before I visited to confirm its existence and sure enough, they were still there. The shop is in an old brick building in an old part of Akron on Kenmore Blvd. It was a little hard to find but we found it.

Here's the main wax area filled with recent and semi-recent stuff. There was a lot of selection, from 2001 Topps to lots of stuff from last year but strangely, no hockey wax. I asked about that and they said they don't carry hockey because it doesn't sell. I saw very little basketball as well, which is strange considering the area is rife with Cavs fans.

There were lots of cases filled with loads of singles from all time frames ranging from relic and autograph cards of present day to high dollar vintage singles and random other cards. Pretty much what you would find in any card shop.

Any shop that had junk wax is aces in my book. While the selection here wasn't the best, everything in the case was $10 each. I almost considered getting a box of the Upper Deck hockey cards or the box of 1990 Topps baseball but the last thing I need right now is more clutter when I'm trying to get rid of the excess.

If you're into oddballs or old non-sport cards, this is the place for you. This case was nothing but old non-sport wax packs and boxes. Look closely at the picture above, you'll seen packs of cards for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Mork and Mindy, The Gong Show, and Planet of the Apes.

Here's a bunch of oddball and oversized cards including some random old hockey cards.

Behind the counters, the shelves were stacked with boxes and boxes of stuff. Too much stuff to even keep track of.

The rest of the cases had tons and tons of miscellaneous stuff. Just check out the variety of this case for example, the Johnny Bench that can be seen is a stack of 1970 Topps Posters. There's also some 1986 Topps minis, a stack of 1970 Topps Supers, a Cal Ripken Jr. commemorative plaque, and some 1987 O-Pee-Chee uncut sheets.

This really caught my attention. For five dollars each, you could get an actual Meadow Gold ice cream box, complete with the card still attached. I'm not sure if they were the blank back variety or the stat back variety though. The one thing though is that the boxes are in immaculate shape.

This case has all manner of crazy stuff from collectable Corgi cars to U.S. Presidents cards and 1964 Topps JFK cards to 1965 Philadelphia James Bond cards. My uncle said that when he worked in the toy shop at an amusement park when he was a kid, they sold Corgi cars.

Aside from the showcases, the tables in the middle of the shop had pretty much anything you could think of from nickel and dime boxes to oddball memorabilia to these autographed items. I would have  sifted through the dime and nickel boxes but we had to meet back up for lunch with the rest of the family at 1:00.

As for what I bought, the main thing I wanted was some 2017 Topps. I nabbed 10 packs at $2.00 a pack. I'm going to wait to open these until tomorrow or next weekend when I have some free time.

The other cool thing I purchased was this 1979 Cleveland Indians team photo. My uncle said that "that looks like the team picture from Major League" and to be honest, it sort of does. I've got a fun idea for an article based on this picture but I've got some research to do first.

Of the three card shops I've visited up here, this one definitely had the biggest variety of just random stuff but there was just a lot to digest. I think maybe next time I'll stick with my regular shops but this was a nice detour off the beaten path.