Trader's Backlog: Bolstering the '83 Staff

It's Greg Week here at RTA! The last two posts were about packages that came from our pal Greg G. at Night Owl Cards, and today we have a package from Greg A. over at The Collective Mind. It's a small but sweet envelope of goodness that arrived back in April. I don't recall any commenting or backchannel negotiations that kicked this off, so I'm pretty sure that Greg A. sent these out of the goodness of his heart, which is awesome. Also, looking back at my trade log spreadsheet, it seems that I need to send something back his way as a thank you. Hopefully I can get to that soon!

The biggest find in this envelope - pun fully intended - was this 1983 Donruss Action All-Star of Joe Niekro. I think most casual fans think about the Astros staff in the 80's and come up with two pitchers in mind - Nolan and Mike Scott. Some more versed fans might recall that Don Sutton spent a little time here, and will remember J.R. Richard. But the staff was deep, including the regular Joes - Niekro and Sambito.

Those who don't know much about Joe probably at least realize that the knuckleballer has a famous older brother. This card is part of the 1983 Donruss set, despite the fact that it looks nothing like the rest of the set.

There were a couple of nice Fleer Platinum cards from the mid-aughts in there, including Brad Lidge and Andy Pettitte, key arms for the 2004-05 seasons.

These two were really neat as well. You don't get to see too many cards of Roger Clemens bunting, after all. The Berkman features him participating in the Home Run Derby in 2004, when the Astros hosted the All-Star Game at Minute Maid Park. Lance mashed 21 homers and finished second to Miguel Tejada. I think he would have benefitted from the new format.

There were plenty of stars in this little package, but I've saved my favorite card for last in this post. Greg sent over one very special Nolan Ryan card. What's so special about a 1983 Topps, other than its iconic design, you may ask?

Well, this very card finally finished off my '83 Topps needs for the team set, and I'd been stuck on it for a good while. That's something worth celebrating for sure.

Thanks again Greg! I'll dig through those want lists and see what I can come up with.


Return of the Night Owl

As the Greg's note in yesterday's post read, "there's more to come." Well here's the more! Another package from our friendly neighborhood Night Owl showed up this weekend, which was only fitting as I had mailed one to him as well. This one was heavy on the shiny stuff, like this Roy Oswalt from 2010 Bowman Chrome. I have to say, out of all of the post-2000 Bowman sets which generally run together, I think the simplicity of this design makes it one of my favorites.

Most of what Greg sent over in this package was new stuff, like these two Chrome-alicious Bregmans. The Stadium Club is a photo of Alex after his Game 5 walk-off in the World Series last year. I'm sure Greg was happy to move that one out of the house. I think the photographer in the red takes this photo somewhere shortly after the 1:45 mark in this clip. It has to be just a bit after they cut back to the replay, given that he appears to have crossed the first base line. The Topps Chrome is a lovely refractor version.

Speaking of refractors, Greg sent this 1983 Throwback refractor of Correa, along with a decidedly less shiny card of the young shortstop. Wait a minute - this one doesn't have any shiny at all! That's a grey Topps logo! This is one of the cards from the 2016 AL stars blister packs. Great!

That wasn't the only 80's throwback, though. Here's another throwback design, with Donruss shooting it all the way back to 1982 with this Roy Oswalt card from the 2002 Donruss Originals set. I had this Singleton already - the only card he sent that was already in my collection, but I just love that tequila stripe jersey too much not to show it off here.

Ooh, some fancy Stadium Club cards! The Justin Verlander completes the trio of Astros I needed from this year's Special Forces inserts. It's hard to see on the nameplate foil, but if you check the logo mark on the 2016 Luis Gonzalez you can tell that it's a Gold Foil parallel. Hooray!

As always, it just wouldn't feel like a Night Owl package without a mini or two in tow. I don't come across to many of these and haven't been actively hunting them down, so the 2016 Correa and 2018 Reddick are much appreciated. Oh, and there's something else, too - 

They're A&G backs! I have to say, I like the 2016 design a bit more than the 2018 shield graphic. Hm, has anyone out there written about the evolution of these A&G backs? I bet I know a guy that could take on a topic like that...

Thanks again Greg!


Flying By Night

It's mid-September now, and while both of our teams are in much narrower playoff races than either of us expected - especially in Night Owl's case - back in June things weren't looking like it would end up that way for the Astros. For Greg's Dodgers, though, the alarm bells were beginning to sound, and some talented Rockies and Diamondbacks clubs were already giving him pause. Plus, like half of his team was injured - including the guy that was supposed to anchor shortstop on my fantasy team, one Corey Seager.

That didn't stop Greg from sending some cards my way, though. I think trading is one way that we cope with the long season. These little bundles of cardboard that bring us delight and distraction arrive in our mailbox, and landing a few new cards of your guys helps you shrug off the fact that both your reigning MVP and former ROY middle infielders are slumping like crazy, and that you've had several guys go down with nagging injuries. At least, that's how I feel about these swaps in the heat of the summer, and I like to think about the joy the cards I send out will bring as well. I've sent Greg a few packages this year, and he's returned a few my way as well. Here's what showed up in June.

Ok, I had this card already, but I definitely wanted to pick up another one. I'm hoping to get it signed by the gentleman you see in the train there, who goes by the moniker Bobby Dynamite. I was pumped to see it when I opened this package.

Here's one of those weird Donruss multi-player cards where they chose to leave the corner design but not fill in the text. This has to go down as one of the most bizarre cardboard decisions of the year.

Greg sent two more cards I needed from the Donruss set, including the Bregman variation card showing the Mother's Day uniforms, and another of the star combo cards featuring Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens, who'd both arrived from New York back in 2004.

These were a most pleasant surprise. Tucker just earned another call-up. He absolutely ripped through the minors this season and while his big league stats weren't much to sneeze at, he's got some real promise. Sierra is a shortstop, and while he hit just .230 while spending the year in A-ball, among his 90 hits were 16 doubles, 3 triples, and 11 homers. He's just 20 years old.

Let's shift from modern Bowman to Bowman Heritage. Greg found two more cards I needed here, with this 2002 Eric Bruntlett and 2006 Lance Berkman. Bruntlett's a Stanford guy, so I've got to remember to set aside any dupes I run across for Nick.

Shiny pitching prospects. That 1997 Pinnacle Certified set was really something.

Finally, it's only fitting to end a Night Owl package with two of his specialties - minis and Kellogg's cards. Sure, that Bob Watson has seen some better days, but that doesn't make it any less stupendous.

Thanks again Greg! "There's more to come."


Sliding Into The Mailbox Like...

I'm trying (and succeeding at the moment!) to make some progress on my backlog of cards to post whilst also staying on top of the stuff that's arrived recently - so I'm going to utilize this post to knock out a pair of envelopes that showed up this week from TCDB swaps. Also, if you've sent me something and I haven't gotten to it - I will! I promise you that.

First was a quick swap with Jesse, aka jddavis84. This one actually started out as a 1-for-1 swap that he proposed. He was "desperately trying to finish the Before Opening Day" inserts, and I had the last one he needed - a Bryce Harper. This Dallas Keuchel was the sole card he had from my want lists, but I checked and I had plenty from his. What's more, he's got ambitions on working on a ton of sets. Seeing an opportunity, I browsed through the rest of his trade lists and found this nice MJ card. I've always liked the 91-92 Fleer set. Oh, and I sent Jesse a small flat rate that was absolutely stuffed - 384 cards to help out with his set builds.

The other package that came in was from Michael, who goes by Lugnut80 on the site. He had a little more for me, including two of my last wants from 1993 Stadium Club. Casey Candaele and Doug Jones are the last Astros I need.

Michael also had a pair of 1997 Bowman cards I needed. This Biggio was the 50th new card of him that I've added this year. It's fun keeping track of stuff like that. I enjoy this set quite a bit. Red was used for established players and blue for the prospects.

Speaking of Bowman, I added this foil card of Orlando Miller from the 1994 set, which is probably my favorite Bowman design ever. The Shane Reynolds comes from 1997 Finest, a set from which I don't have many cards. I know Night Owl says he likes to let these breathe. I think I would do that for dupes, but there's something about me that feels like I should leave the coating on.

This package wasn't just Astros either. Among the other cards were four more cards from the 1984 Ralston Purina set. I've gotten 9 of these cards now. I'm not sure whose #DADHAT game is stronger here, Guidry or Lynn.

These last few cards weren't on my want list, but just a few spares I found while browsing Michael's trade lists. Early cards of Paul Konerko, Mariano Rivera, and Richie Sexson.

Finally, there was this lenticular pickup from a 1999 Stadium Club insert set called Video Replay. This one shows Alex Rodriguez sliding into third base while the shot zooms in on him. Here's a little clip of it in action.

Thanks for the trades Jesse and Michael!


See A Dime, Pick It Up

Yesterday I showed off a bunch of Astros that I found whilst digging at ye olde card shoppe. In that post I also mentioned that while a bunch of what I pulled was for trading, there were pretty significant portions that were headed towards player collections of varying levels of commitment, and a nice chunk of potpourri as well.

Take this card. When you find a 1996 Stadium Club of inaugural Diamondbacks skipper Buck Showalter standing amongst the cacti and posing with confidence, you don't ask questions, you just buy that sucker. This one is getting dropped in the mail this week, because I just have to get it autographed. It's a perfect example of what I mean by potpourri, too - it doesn't fit into any of my collections, per se, but it is an awesome card. Hm, I wonder if Night Owl has written about this one before?

Get your eyes ready for feasting, because we are just getting started here. Oh, and remember - everything I picked up cost me one Roosevelt, and no more.
Yes, that includes this crazy 1993 Upper Deck Fun Pack card of Nolan Ryan in an outlandish fauxback uniform - perhaps the first of its kind, although I'm not sure. The earliest actual throwbacks that I can recall seeing were from the White Sox in 1990 - there's an entire card featuring the team in said garb in 1991 Upper Deck, and then the Giants doing some swell early 1900s throwbacks that were prominently featured among the 1992 Upper Deck cards.

But the Rangers? A team that's only been in Texas since 1972? Those are some audacious throwbacks, man. Forget the bodaciousness of the Fun Pack card design - Nolan looks like he's on a movie set here. This one is headed for the PC for sure.

I found another pair of Ryan cards in my dig - and not just any cards, but some of the reprints that were sprinkled into packs of 1999 Topps. These definitely go for more than a dime, and I was really excited to nab them for so cheap. I'm trying to put all of these together, and eventually all the chrome and refractor versions too.

Speaking of inserts from 1999, I found the final three cards I needed to complete the Vintage '61 inserts from 1999 Fleer Tradition. This is one of my favorite insert sets from my childhood, and it's finally complete.

I'll try to keep some semblance of flow to this post, though I'm afraid it'll mostly be "I found some awesome cards of this guy." For example: I found several more nice Randy Johnson cards to add to my collection. The Star Struck is an insert from 1996 Score Dugout Collection, and the Post-Season Glory comes from 1996 Fleer - a set that I love and whose inserts are not messing around. You'll see more later on. Also shown here are a 2003 Donruss Team Heroes, 2006 Fleer (blech, Yankees), a gold parallel from 2001 Topps, and a really nice card from 1999 Fleer Brilliants - so shiny!

I don't target Barry Bonds cards, and while I'm sure there are some of you who would rather not see his cardboard at all, I happy to fall in the pro-Barry-in-the-Hall camp. That's not to say I'm a huge fan, but I respect what he did, and so I'll scoop up a few cool cards here and there. The Collector's Choice is from 1997 - the big stars were given a borderless treatment. In the middle is a Tiffany version from 1996 Fleer - glossy greatness - and I couldn't pass up the card from the Upper Deck Challengers For 70 set, especially given that Bonds would break that mark just years later.

As for that 1996 Fleer, well here's a trio that Night Owl and his fellow Dodgers fans are certain to love. Like I said, 1996 Fleer was not here to mess around. I found three Nomos, including a Tiffany parallel and two wild inserts.

I also scooped up this 1996 Upper Deck with it's fantastic foil badge denoting Nomo's NL ROY award. Huzzah! Nomo is one of several guys who fall in the "I don't need all their cards, but when I find good ones you can be certain I'll hang on to them" category.

I'd say let's continue that theme, but honestly, most of the dudes I collect are that way. So let's continue it!

You have to love Julio Franco, right? I swear the dude is going to come back and play again. My favorite here is the 1994 O-Pee-Chee, which lists his position as DH • Frappeur Désigné • 2B.

Found several nice cards of Juan Gone, including both the base and Silver Foil parallel from 1996 Stadium Club. Yes, the base is gold foil and the parallel is silver - what a wacky thought. I found a nice stack of the silver parallels, most of which are going into trades. The Hit List is from 1998 Donruss, but my favorite card here is that 1995 SP. The red foil just sings with the mid-90's Rangers uniforms.

There were some nice Pudge cards to be found as well, including a 1997 Upper Deck showing him wearing a green jersey during Spring Training for St. Patrick's Day (yes, weird) and some Pacific wildness. That's not another '96 Fleer Tiffany in the lower right - I figured it was at first, as it's glossy, but it comes from one of the half-dozen team sets that Fleer issued that year.

I like Moose. It doesn't hurt that he was one of the first big name active player autographs I got TTM as a kid. It also doesn't hurt that he has a supremely sweet signature. Also, the guy deserves to be in the Hall. So I picked up another pair of Moose. Moosen? Meese?*

*If you happen to get that joke, my college self loves you.

Maybe it's the deeply entrenched sense of anti-Yankeedom in me, or perhaps it's because most cards of the Babe which I've seen are not Ruthian in their elegance, but rather churned out as cheap insert fodder and legends cards in products like A&G and Archives. Either way, I don't like most Babe Ruth cards, but this one is superb. The 1999 Upper Deck Century Legends set is very nice.

Rickey says, "Hey, you see Rickey Henderson do what Rickey Henderson does when Rickey is on the field? Rickey swipes the bases man."

Rickey and Ozzie are two of the Hall of Famers of whom I have larger collections. That's probably due to the fact that their careers were aligned with the explosion in cardboard and also that they were undeniably cool to us as kids watching the ends of their careers in the 90's (and beyond for Rickey). It certainly doesn't hurt that they both tend to have great cards, and I found four more of the Wizard, including a food issue - the 1987 M&M's set - and some great cards of him in brown and gold.

These earlier versions of the Donruss Highlights set are pretty neat. I like the '86 Donruss design, and I think I might like it even more in this marigold hue - although it'd probably be too much for a full set. I like that they made cards for the current HOF inductees as well.

I picked up a handful of nice Cal Ripken Jr. cards as well: 1987 Fleer Star Stickers, 1990 KMart Superstars, 1994 Stadium Club Golden Rainbow, 1996 Fleer Golden Memories insert, and a 1998 Collector's Choice Starquest insert. Again, Fleer had some nice inserts in 1996.

For some reason, I really enjoy picking up cards of the other Ripken as well. This Billy was a new one for me.

Here's another pair of those Golden Memories inserts. I didn't even notice that the one on the left is a combined card of Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell until I got it home.

If anybody needs some 1996 Topps, my LCS has it in spades. I wound up pulling a couple young stars to take home.

When you find a Wonderful Terrific Monds III card, you buy the damn thing. TCDB says that there are 23 cards of him, and my first is this 1996 Fleer Tiffany. Twenty-two more sounds doable, right?

Monds wasn't the only wonderful name I found, either - I ran into Basil Shabazz! TCDB lists just 20 cards of him, which also sounds doable. Also, I have to stress just how strange this card is - the photo is obviously lower quality and is blurry. He's a Cardinals draft pick, so the Braves jersey makes it even more confusing. Finally, his hat doesn't seem to match his high school - I spy an F and an S, and he went to Pine Bluff. So ¯\_(ツ)_/¯? These cards come from the 1992 Stadium Club Dome set. I picked up the Vincent Moore because he went to one of the local high schools in my area and is shown in their jersey.

Are you ready for the full potpourri weirdness? Brace yourselves.

What are these? Broder cards of Mark Grace? But they have backs with stats! Sorry I didn't scan them, but you can see them over at TCDB. These are cards 13-15 of the 1989 Cactus League All-Stars set, an unlicensed 18 card issue featuring three cards each of Grace, Will Clark, Kevin Mitchell, Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, and Ken Griffey Jr. These are too cool.

Someday, I will put together all of the Denny's hologram sets. In fact, I just added them to the Oddball tab on my want list. I'm nowhere near close, but this Albert Belle doubled the number I have from the 1993 set. The Mike Piazza is a Diamond Pearls inset from the 1998 Stadium Club set, These are beautiful cards that are notorious for sticking, unfortunately. This copy was in a plastic sleeve, and I thought I was going to get it off just fine, but the sleeve wound up taking the barrel of Piazza's bat.

I don't have a Daulton PC of any sort, but I have always liked these Phillies Finest inserts from 1994 Fleer Ultra. I may have to try and recreate them.

I found these two guys in a chunk of 2008 UD Baseball Heroes. They're still pretty good, although they've both been battling health issues this year.

Yep, that's right - I found a relic that turned out to be a dime. I'm betting Kenny, Ryan over at This Card Is Cool, NPB Card Guy of the excellent Japanese Baseball Cards, and maybe even Fuji know who this guy is.

For the rest of you who, like me, probably hadn't heard of him before, Michihiro Ogasawara is an NPB legend. He had a nineteen year career for the Nippon Ham Fighters, Yomiuri Giants, and Chunichi Dragons. Among his many achievements, Ogasawara has 6 Gold Gloves, 7 Best Nine awards, led his league in hits twice, in batting average twice, and homers and RBIs once. He was selected to 11 All-Star teams, played on two teams that won the Japan Series (Nippon Ham in '06 and Yomiuri in '09), and played for the Japan teams that won the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics. He's also one of only two players to win the MVP award in both divisions of NPB, and the only one to do so in consecutive seasons, having won the Pacific League MVP with Nippon Ham in 2006 and the Central League MVP in 2007 with Yomiuri. Uh, yeah - I'm really glad I decided to scoop this one up.

What are thooooooooooooose?!? Ooh baby more Broder cards! These are from a five card set called Bay City Sluggers. Cards 1-3 are Rickey Henderson, Jose Canseco, and Mark McGwire, and while the Athletics may win on volume, Clark is the only one who gets two cards in the set. Hmm, I wonder if Fuji has these?

Here's the back in case you're curious. What a season!

I also grabbed this stupendous Fleer Pro-Visions insert of Clark from 1991. I'm gonna need to get this one signed.

Perhaps you'd like some minor league cards in your potpourri? The Stillwell is from a 1984 TCMA team set, and that Grissom is from a 1989 Baseball America AA Top Prospects set. I might have to track down some more of those.

Let's hop back to the HOFers for a minute. I found a big stack of cards from 2003 Donruss Team Heroes and wound up bringing many of them home. These four go right into some PCs. Wait, you bought two of that Killebrew card? Nope, the one on the right is a Glossy parallel. I actually prefer the base matte versions for this set.

Like I said, I bought a good stack of these - many of which will go out for trade, but these are keepers.

Ok, we're almost done. First I need to show off these random HOF pickups. The Molitor in the top row is a checklist from 1997 Score Hobby Reserve. I just found it hilarious that it says "common" on the top, when Molly was a supreme player. I really dig the Young At Heart subset from 1996 Upper Deck - that's the Tim Raines in the center. To his right is a Home Team Advantage parallel of Vladimir Guerrero from 2001 Topps. I don't pick up many Larry Wayne Jones cards, but the Finest Gems was too shiny to pass up on. The Yount looks great with the blue and gold of the uniform and border complimenting each other, and that 2003 Diamond King card is one of the nicer modern Ty Cobb cards I've ever run across.

Finally, a bit more potpourri. I was a little disappointed to come home and find out that East Meets West card was actually one of 8 or so inserts that all feature a player and the same Masanori Murakami photo. I think it took a little of the shine away from it for me, but it's still pretty cool. For some reason, it just felt right to pick up a card of Matt Stairs missing a ball in the outfield. I found an A.J. Hinch rookie that I'll try to get signed, Mondesi wearing a towel on his head, Drabek wearing a fuzzy hat, and a trio of dudes who may all end up in the Hall together, depending on how Vizquel fares.

Finally, I'll end with another one of my favorite finds from the dig. I suppose it's a bit serendipitous that I'd run across this 1997 Collector's Choice Larry Walker the day after I'd decided to start a mini-collection of cards featuring cameras. I haven't gone through the stuff I have on hand, but so far it's a 1993 Upper Deck Cecil Fielder (back photo) and this. Oh, and this is limited to regular cameras, not players with video cameras.

Alright, you made it! I have another week's worth of posts sketched out, so let's see if I fare any better on my posting diligence this time.