December 31, 2014

Looking back on 2014 - so I missed a resolution or two



Another year of collecting is gone. My hobby and my regular life have merged. I collect baseball cards. I make baseball cards. I collect baseball cards I make.

Yet, I still want more. I want ALL the baseball cards.

One would think that seeing cards every day would perhaps desensitize me to the hobby, decrease my desire to collect. Oh no! Not even a little bit. I am still a collector and I want others get as excited as I do about cards.

Every year, I make some resolutions on what I plan to do with my collection. Some years are better than others when it comes to sticking to them.

Last year, I posted my three resolutions to Beckett.com (remember when I worked there?).

Binders of Jeter cards


Goal #1
Keep a running tally of my Jeter cards

I would give myself a half point on this one. I put most of them on a spreadsheet. I have counted 2,037 unique Derek Jeter cards in my collection. But this does not include a small box of cards I haven’t logged and any of my hits.

Goal #2
Buy a case of Supernatural cards when it releases

NAILED IT! I bought a case and posted one part of it so far on the blog. I will get to the autographs soon.

Goal #3
Find more stories about collectors

This was more of Beckett-based resolution. I left Beckett at June, so I had half a year to work with. I didn’t do as well as I hoped. I wanted to do this because one thing I love about this hobby is how there are so many people who come from different places, collect in different ways and still have fallen in love with these little pieces of cardboard. I still want to talk to all those people. That part hasn’t changed.

As far as 2014 goes, it was a milestone year for me personally. I got married. I started a new job. We resurrected A Cardboard Problem. Overall, pretty damn good.

December 29, 2014

Getting cereal for Christmas -- without any of the calories



Topps made it easy to enjoy a box of cereal whenever you wanted when it released these pint-sized boxes to big box retailers in 1996. These boxes were created for 1996 Topps Series 1 and 2, and Stadium Club. I received a 1996 Stadium Club Cereal Box set for Christmas. Since, I am working on the 2015 manifestation, the hubby thought it would be fun to look back an early release.

The 1996 Stadium Club cereal boxes were different in a few ways from the hobby version. First, each box came with 113 cards and a random Mickey Mantle Retrospective card. There were no other inserts included. Second, the cards had silver foil compared to gold found in hobby boxes.

This was the first – and seemingly only – time Stadium Club was distributed this way. I don’t know how many of the cereal boxes were made, but the silver foil cards seem to be a little more difficult to find nowadays.

1996 Stadium Club "Mickey Mantle Cereal" Derek Jeter #123
The PSA pop report shows a breakdown of how often Derek Jeter #123 was graded, which was the one player graded most often from the 1996 Stadium Club set.

Regular hobby: 57
Mickey Mantle Cereal Box: 18

Jeter had another card in the set, #260, but the grading on these is even.
Regular hobby: 18
Mickey Mantle Cereal Box: 18

In total, PSA has graded 116 cards from the Mickey Mantle Cereal Box set – about 20 percent of all the 1996 Stadium Club base cards it has graded.

To compare it to Beckett, it has only graded 20 regular Jeter (card #123) Stadium Club cards compared to two of the silver foil cards.

1996 Stadium Club Derek Jeter #123
PSA 10 version of the silver Jeter cards, of which there are just six, sell for a good penny. Two recently finished auctions ended at $287 and $114, respectively. The one I pulled from my Christmas Day cereal box looks to be in good condition – almost good enough to make a girl want to grade a card.

2010 Topps Legends Gold Chrome Target Cereal
Cereal boxes were short-lived. However, Topps did bring the format back in 2009 and 2010 for Target and Wal-Mart. Collectors would get 55 cards for $9.99, including with one exclusive chrome refractor for $9.99, and the checklist for the chrome cards included players such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Roger Maris and others. There was also a Jeter on this checklist – a card I do not have. There were Platinum (WalMart) and Gold (Target) versions.

December 26, 2014

All the Jeters for Christmas



Christmas can be stressful. You want to find the perfect gift for your loved ones and see their excitement as they unwrap it. It REALLY is the thought that counts when it comes to gift giving.

For years, family members have bought me hobby-related items. My mother has gotten me items she has seen on QVC. Once, she saw a blaster box of the retail version of Upper Deck’s 2008 Yankee Stadium Legacy cards on the home-shopping channel and got it for me. It was a great gift (except I had already bought it for myself at Target and since the memorabilia cards were generic, I didn’t have a need for more than one).

Other people have gotten me random packs of cards from the retail aisle at Target or Wal-Mart, and since I hit up the same places, I can’t complain about that. I love the fact that they went out of their way to think to get something from my hobby.

More recently, the collecting gifts have gotten slightly better. That’s what happens when you share your hobby with your best friends. Marie has gotten me Derek Jeter autograph cards (I know, right?) a couple of times – and none for herself – while the hubby has gotten me a couple of great looking Jeter cards.

That leads me to this year’s Christmas. Santa Claus (also my hubby) was good to me this year. I had two small packages among my gift and felt it could only be baseball cards. And, I was right. I added four new Jeter cards.

I found it interesting he wrapped them by brand.

The Upper Deck package included a 1996 Upper Deck Blue Chips Prospects and a 1998 UD3 The Establishment die-cut.



The Topps package contained two 1997 Stadium Club Instavision cards, one of which was a Members Only parallel.





December 23, 2014

A Supernatural case break: An ode to Sam Winchester



I waited for one product most of the year. When I heard Cryptozoic got the rights to make a Supernatural product, I knew I was getting a case. Even better was that the Winchester brothers (Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki) were ‘under contract’ to sign for the product.

As the product came closer to release (around Thanksgiving), the two brothers’ named were removed from the signers list. At that point, I figured I wouldn’t get a case – even though it was one of my New Year’s resolutions – but the collecting itch got the better of me. I bought a case of Supernatural cards because I love collecting and I love Supernatural.

I opened a box earlier, but no, it was time for an entire case.

Each box guarantees an autograph and a wardrobe card, but the boxes that contained a dual wardrobe card also had four total hits, which gave me a good amount of autographs and wardrobe cards – and not one single double, even from the one box I opened a few days before.


Here is a look at the wardrobe cards I pulled – with a bit of commentary from me.

Many of the actors appeared early in the series. This release is dedicated to Seasons 1-3, so there are some actors that will appear here and not in other seasons of the show. There are also characters who appear sparingly throughout the series. While some of those actors weren't my favorite pulls, I was so happy to get a wardrobe card of Jeffrey Dean Morgan. I miss him. 





Even though the brothers didn't sign for the set, they did have wardrobe cards -- plenty and plenty of wardrobe cards. While I only pulled one wardrobe card belonging to Dean Winchester, his cards were slightly tougher. Of the 20 that could be found in the product, his character has just four wardrobe cards. 

But Sam Winchester was a completely different story. There were sooooooo many Sam wardrobe cards. Of course, 11 of the 20 wardrobe cards belong to his character. I am still missing two. 










My favorite pulls were the dual wardrobe cards. I got three of these with two still left in the chase. 




So, that's what wardrobe cards came in a case of Supernatural. I feel that's a good number of wardrbe cards. I still need 10 total wardrobe cards to complete the set, which is a goal of mine next year. 

Here are the cards I need: 

M03 Sam Winchester
M04 Dean Winchester
M07 Dean Winchester
M12 Dean Winchester
M15 Sam Winchester
M18 Victor Henriksen
M21 Dean Winchester (exclusive binder card)

DM01
Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester and
Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester
DM03
Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester and
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as John Winchester

HT06
Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester and
Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester (Hot Topic Exclusive)

December 19, 2014

The throwback set: Ugly 90s cards never felt so good

Sy Berger’s death received national attention with names such as Keith Olbermann and Bob Costas getting nostalgic and talking about their days as card collectors. Twenty to thirty years ago, it seemed every little boy (and many girls) collected cards. They tried feverishly to get their favorite players while wadding up balls of gum in their mouths.

The New York Times ran an article on Berger from the eyes of their national baseball columnist Tyler Kepner. He spoke about his love of collecting as a child and buying a complete set of 1982 Topps – the set that got his love of collecting started. While he doesn’t collect anymore, he still thinks of baseball cards in a fond light.

We all have one of those sets. Despite the mass production of cardboard heroes in the 1980s and early 1990s, there is a set many people of similar ages tend to see and it brings us back to one of simple joys when packs of cards only cost a quarter and we traded with friends and family members.

My throwback set is 1991 Fleer. They were so ugly with their bright, yellow borders. And I loved it.


My mother would send me to the store to get milk or bread and I would pick up a pack or two with the leftover change. Much like now, I couldn’t wait to get home to rip open the pack, so I would stand in the middle of the store with a friend or my younger brother and fly through the cards looking for any New York Yankees.

Matt Nokes! Kevin Maas! Jesse Barfield! Oscar Azocar!

Getting Don Mattingly, though, was the best. I kept all my Yankees in a binder, while the other guys get relegated to a shoebox.

The best thing about these cards, however, was they were all mine. For years, I watched as my older brother and cousins would trade cards and rip open packs with each other. I had to live through their collections until Mom let me use her change to start my own collection.

Even though those sets don’t hold much value these days, it’s not the money that matters when nostalgia hits. It’s the memories that no one can put a price on.

December 15, 2014

Thank you, Sy Berger



As I headed to work this morning, my mind was on Sy Berger. He died this weekend at the age of 91.

My train ride zips through Manhattan headed to a place where magic happens -- a place with the ability to turn cynical adults into awe-struck kids as they look at pieces of cardboard that have pictures of their favorite baseball players on them. That place is Topps, the same place where Sy Berger worked and developed the 1952 Topps Baseball card set, which many consider the start of the modern trading card era.

From the time I was a child until now, so much of my life has been dedicated to collecting cards. My husband is a card collector. My best friend is a card collector. I have had a blog dedicated to cards since 2007. I work at Topps making baseball cards. All in part because of what Sy Berger started all those years ago.

It's surreal to think about how one person can shape your life, especially someone I had never met. If Sy didn't help mold that 1952 set and help change a hobby into what it is now, my life would be amazingly different.

Perhaps baseball cards don't become a central force in my life. My husband doesn't start talking to me about a card to break the ice. My best friend and I don't drive around New Jersey and Pennsylvania searching for card shops, strengthening a bond. We don't have A Cardboard Problem.

So, many lives were shaped by Sy Berger, from children wanting a piece of gum in their packs of cards to people who try to complete their sets every year.

I'm thankful for the contributions he made to the baseball card world because with out him I doubt I am the person I am today.



December 13, 2014

Black Friday Box Break: 2008 SPx Baseball


Many collectors sat in front of their computers or refrshed their phones and tablets looking to get a Black Friday deal from one of the online retailers. I peeked in occasionally on Twitter and followed Blowout's feed to see its offerings. I was only interested in baseball and missed out on a couple of early bargains (like case of 2009 UD Signatures). But I managed to grab a box of 2008 SPx Baseball.

SPx Baseball offers 10 packs with a hit in each pack, with a bonus 11th pack and another hit. Of course, being that the product is from 2008, there is a chance to pull an expired redemption. However, I felt good about the chances of NOT pulling one and grabbed a box. I also hoped to get a Derek Jeter hit, an autograph that wasn't a redemption. Spoiler Alert: I did not pull a Jeter auto.

The base memorabilia cards showcased some good to great players, and all the cards were numbered 150.

First up was Carlos Guillen, a three-time All-Star who retired in 2011. Guillen was a good shortstop for the Tigers.


Randy Johnson should be entering the Hall of Fame this year. I hate him on the Diamondbacks because he beat the Yankees in 2001, but he was a great player. I didn't much care for him on the Yankees either.


I used to hate Pedro Martinez (in the way you can only hate someone you never met simply because he played for a rival team). But then met Pedro and interacted with him while I was working as a sports reporter. Now, I like him. He was pleasantin his one year with the Phillies and always seemed to usually be in a good mood. He's also another guy who should be in the Hall this year.


The product also offered patch variations. The Dan Uggla card is great looking. I love the colors from the Florida Marlins patch. In 2008, when this product came out, this would have been a great hit. Uggla had made his second All-Star Game that season (though one we would like to forget) and looked to be a player on the rise. He hit more than 30 home runs for five straight seasons.

And then he broke. His 2014 season was remarkable in how bad it was.


My final memorabilia hit was a triple jersey card with Vladimir Guerrero, Garret Anderson and Casey Kotchman numbered to 75. A fun card for an Angels fan. 


Upper Deck offered a number of Rookie Autographs in 2008 SPx. Some of the guys didn't pan out.

Dave Davidson played three games in the Majors, two with the Pirates. In his three MLB innings, Davidson has a 30.00 ERA.


Rob Johnson was a serviceable backup catcher for several years. He played with Seattle, San Diego, New York Mets, and St. Louis. In 2009, he played in a season-high 80 games with .213 batting average.


Bill Murphy appeared in 18 games during his two-year MLB career. He last played in 2009 for the Toronto Blue Jays. I guess his signature looks like "Bill Murphy."


Then there were autographs of rookies who had slightly better careers.

Jerry Blevins played in Oakland from 2007-13. Last year, he competed for the Washington Nationals. While he hasn't had a spectacular career, getting an autograph card of a guy still in the league was on the plus side. He's actually had some really nice years coming out of the bullpen for Oakland.


The best card of the autographs was easily my next pull. While not a "Rookie" signature card, the Young Star Signatures of Troy Tulowitzki is the best of the list. If he could just stay healthy (and get traded to the Yankees), things would be great for Tulo.


Out of all that, I still had one hit to go. I'm the type of person who likes the "slow burn." When I know a card is a hit, I will slowly pull the card down in front of it as I like to try and guess who the player is. This time as I started peeking, I saw the Yankees cap edge over the top of the base card. 

"Please, be a Jeter," I said. "Please, be a Jeter."

WOOOOOOO! I pulled a Jeter jersey (where is the pinstripe?!) numbered to 75.