Here's a story I wrote for Sports Collectors Daily about the 1989 Topps baseball set:
Here is a review I did for Sport In American History of Cesar Brioso's new book, Last Seasons in Havana, by University of Nebraska Press:
Here's a story I wrote for Sports Collectors Daily about former major league pitcher Don Newcombe, who died Tuesday at the age of 92.
Here's a story I wrote for Sports Collectors Daily about Justin Cornett, a collector in Houston who matched a Ted Williams glove to a photograph from his rookie season.
Here's a story I wrote for Sports Collectors Daily previewing the 2019 Topps Stadium baseball product, which will be released in late June:
Here's a story I wrote for Sports Collectors Daily about the Presidents Day card show Feb. 18 in Massachusetts:
The release of Series One of Topps’ flagship baseball card product always reminds me that spring training is just around the corner. And with the anticipation that comes when pitchers and catchers report, the excitement surrounding the release of Series One baseball is full of optimism, too.
I normally buy a hobby box to start off Series One, but this year I went all in and bought a jumbo. The goal was to complete the 350-card base set, and that was accomplished easily. There are 10 packs in a jumbo box, with 46 cards to a pack.
There was a change in the packs for hobby boxes this year. Instead of 36 packs, with 10 cards to a pack, a hobby box now contains 24 packs, with 14 cards to a pack.
So, there are 24 fewer cards in a hobby box.
As usual, the base set highlights the key veterans and rookies, and there are team cards, too. Subsets include Future Stars, League Leaders and World Series Highlights. The advantage of buying a jumbo box means there is at least one autograph cards and two relics. Plus, there are two exclusive 2019 Topps Baseball Silver Packs, which were taped on top of my jumbo box when I received it in the mail. The cards are designed to look like the 1984 Topps set, except in foil. It looks attractive.
The design of the Series One cards have a retro feel to them and are reminiscent to the 1982 Topps set. The partial frame, rounded at the corner, starts in the upper right-hand corner and curves at the bottom, ending in the left-hand corner. The 1982 set began in the top left and rounded to the right-hand corner.
This year’s frame lines include one of the team’s primary colors. Outside of the frame is a background that looks like either large pixels or bleached out burlap, depending on your perspective. I’d lean more toward the pixels.
The major flaw — or, perhaps it’s just an issue with me — is how the player’s name is displayed at the bottom of the card. The player’s last name is in large, gray capital letters, which is fine — but it is positioned above the player’s first name. It’s very disconcerting and reminds me of a school roll call, where the student’s last name is listed first. The player’s first name is part of the frame line and is in thinner, white capital letters.
That same format is followed on the card back, with the player’s last name displayed in large block letters in the upper left-hand corner of the card. The card number is positioned at the top right. I’ve liked the fact that Topps puts “Series 1” underneath the card numbers, a practice it has followed over the past few years.
The player’s vital statistics are included underneath his name, and his position and team are included just underneath the card number. Each card back has a short biography of the player, along with year-by-year, major- and minor-league statistics. In the case of Shohei Ohtani, his stats from the Japanese league are included.
My goal in buying the jumbo box was to complete the base set, and that was done easily. For those collectors who like to chase parallels, this set offers Rainbow foil, Gold (numbered to 2019), Vintage Stock (99), Independence Day (76), a hobby/jumbo exclusive Black (67), Mother’s Day Pink (50), Father’s Day Blue (50), Memorial Day Camo (25) and 1/1 Platinum and Printing Plate cards.
Topps has tied this set into the 150th anniversary of professional baseball, so some of the base cards are stamped with a silver foil “150 Years” inside a gold foil stamp designed to look like home plate.
In the jumbo box I opened, there were five Rainbow parallels, two Gold parallels (Avisail Garcia, which included with a 150 Years stamp and Franmil Reyes), one Father’s Day Blue parallel (Jordan Zimmermann) and five cards stamped with the “150 Years” logo.
The autograph card I pulled was Legacy of Baseball card of Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt. The card has a nice horizontal design, and the signature is on a sticker. It’s always preferable to have an on-card autograph, but it was not to be in this instance.
The first relic I pulled was a Mike Trout card with a piece of a bat that is game-used. Whether is was used by Trout is not clear, but the 1984-style design and vertical layout still makes this an appealing card.
The second relic was a 150th Anniversary Commemorative Medallion card of Astros star Jose Altuve. It’s a thick, heavy card, but a jersey or bat swatch would have been nicer. This card looks like it could have been pulled from a blaster, although those are different cards altogether. The card’s weight and thickness are impressive, but it just doesn’t provide the same buzz as game-used memorabilia.
The inserts for Series One are numerous and interesting. Evolution is a 25-card set consisting of two sides that illustrate changes in the game, from equipment, stadiums, uniforms and logos. The card I pulled showcased the Mets’ Shea Stadium and its newer home, Citi Field.
Another 25-card subset, Greatness Returns, focuses on two players from different eras. The card I pulled featured Milwaukee Brewers stars Robin Yount and Christian Yelich.
Looking back at the 1984 Topps design, a 100-card subset will feature today’s stars in the distinctive ’84 layout. I pulled 10 of these cards, including Aaron Judge, Mookie Betts and Yadier Molina. Each of these cards carries a silver foil stamp commemorating the 35th anniversary of this design.
Speaking of retro designs, the 50-card Iconic Card subset features fronts from famous cards. I pulled two of these cards — a 1955 Sandy Koufax rookie reprint, and a 1957 Brooks Robinson rookie reprint. The cards are stunningly beautiful, and while I have a Koufax rookie in my collection, that ’57 Robinson debut card is the only hole in my birthyear set.
The 150 Years of Professional Baseball insert set consists of — you guessed it — 150 cards, broken into three groups of 50. The first 50 are called Greatest Moments, and I pulled three of those cards. The second group is called Greatest Seasons, and I also found three of these inserts. The final group, Greatest Players, did not show up in the box I opened, but they include Hall of Famers and some players likely to be enshrined in Cooperstown.
Rounding out the inserts is the 10-card Topps Now subset. I pulled three of these cards, including Trout, Ohtani and Juan Soto.
As always, Topps’ flagship product is not radical in its approach to design, thus appealing to traditionalists who have been collecting for many years. The insert sets are a little larger this year, particularly the 150 Years of Professional Baseball offering.
Collectors who have completed the base set can now concentrate on the inserts. Whether you do it by trading or by buying retail blasters, it’s still a challenge. And for me, always a fun challenge.
WrestleMania 35 is coming in April. Bobblehead mania is just beginning.
The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum announced Friday that it is releasing officially licensed, limited edition WWE bobbleheads.
Six of the WWE’s biggest names – past and present – will be featured and can be ordered through the museum’s online store. Cost is $40 for the bobbleheads, which are being manufactured by FOCO.
Three of the bobbleheads are available to ship now – AJ Styles, Andre the Giant and John Cena.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s bobblehead will arrive at the Hall of Fame next. The “Nature Boy,” Ric Flair, will have a bobblehead on the market in March, while WWE newcomer – and former MMA star – Ronda Rousey’s bobblehead will be available in May.
Phil Sklar, co-founder and CEO of the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum, said he was excited about the new products.
"WWE fans are extremely passionate, and there has been a bit of a drought when it came to officially licensed WWE bobbleheads,” Sklar said in a news release. “We were thrilled when we saw how great these bobbleheads turned out — wrestling fans are going to love them.”
The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum opened Feb. 1 in Milwaukee.
I love to blog about sports books and give my opinion. Baseball books are my favorites, but I read and review all kinds of books.