Spring Training…

February 27, 2008

I haven’t had time to scan some of my newest additions just yet, but I have been diligently preparing for my fantasy draft and following Josh at spring training as closely as the internet allows.  Hoping to find some cool pictures so I can make up his first Texas Rangers customs for my site, and then maybe update my binder and avatar.

In my travels, I stumbled across this story from ESPN about Josh Hamilton and Milton Bradley and their respective journeys to the Texas Rangers outfield.  Its a good read if you have a chance.  I particularly like the part about him keeping his fan mail in a scrapbook.   Here’s another short article about Hamilton and how he might stack up with other players who have battled similar demons.

Week Two Numbers….

February 24, 2008

Got my numbers all crunched for Week 2 earlier today.  I have eliminated the ‘cards incoming’ category from the table, as it was one I had to tabulate manually, and it got a little bit unwieldy.  Pretty happy with how I have been doing, as soon as I get a handle on some of Josh’s 1999 issues, I should be sailing.  I generally consider my collection to be well under way when I have broken double digits in completion percentage for all possible years.  Obviously, that’s not a major concern with 2004 and 2006 in this particular case.  Thanks for following another week, and thanks for the look.

Week Two Status

Sweet Spot Indeed…

February 23, 2008

Gold Stitch/Gold Ink Sweet Spot AutoYesterday’s mail brought the first of several 2007 Upper Deck Sweet Spot into my collection.  I must say, these cards look amazing.  It looks like they used a fine tip gold paint pen, and the scan doesn’t catch just how awesome it looks in person.  Picking up various singles from this set has been my first ‘project’ for my Hamilton collection. 

Also incoming, I have a silver stitch/silver ink variation and a blue ink bat barrel.  My favorite single that I have seen so far on ebay was the black leather / gold ink version /5. 

Signed baseballs look cool at the best of times, and I can’t wait to see all the different variations stacked up together in one scan.  They might have gone a little bit overboard with the total number, but seeing how cool they look in person, I am inclined to forgive that overindulgence.  Of course, these cards are also much too thick to be displayed in a binder, which is my preferred storage method, but I think they will do OK in a magnetic one touch as well.

An earlier sighting

February 21, 2008

   An earlier tattoo sighting!  This one illustrates the oddities of baseball card photography and chronology.  My previous blog about Hamilton’s first visible tattoo featured a 2002 Upper Deck minor league card with a tattoo on his right forearm.  In the mail today is a 2003 Topps Total card, with a tattoo on his right bicep.  Oddly, this photo must predate the 2002 shot, as the forearm tattoo is not visible.  It looks like Topps might have just gone into the vault and pulled out some photo shoot pictures, as Hamilton’s jersey isn’t even crested.

I realize that’s a rather odd thing to focus on for a blog entry, but I like noticing these little things about my cards, it makes collecting more fun.  This was the first thing to jump out at me when I was opening my mail today.  As I sort, checklist and store my cards from today, I’m sure I will have a few other things to point out.  Twenty four different Hamilton singles in my mailbox today.  A great day, and it is good to knock a bunch of cards off at once. 

Just as a bit of a preview for some of the other cards that showed up today – there was a 2007 Topps Chrome Red Refractor, some 2007 UD Goudey singles, and some very cool early 2000-ish Topps Gold Label cards.  Its my best Hamilton mail day to date.  Both in quantity and quality.

The Topps Total card is also my first single from the 2003 card season.  I have a few seasons that still haven’t started – 1999, as I am waiting to see just what I am going to do about the rookie year issues, whether I might stray towards graded issues or not.  Hamilton only has one card in 2006 and two mini helmets in 2004, according to Beckett’s checklists.  As of this point in time, that’s what I am working from.  I don’t need to go looking for really oddball, unclassified stuff just yet!

A couple of firsts…

February 20, 2008

Josh Hamilton Jersey CardYesterday’s mail brought a couple of firsts with it.  The most obvious one was my first game used memorabilia card for my collection.  A minor league jersey card from a 2002 Upper Deck Minors set.  Very cool looking set design.  Clean and simple, with a pretty big swatch.  This isn’t the first memorabilia card issued of Josh, but it is one of the early ones.

The other first, is that as of right now (which I admit is a limited sample size) this is the first cardboard appearance of a visible tattoo on Josh.  Looking at some of his more recent cards, this artwork on his right forearm has undergone some serious additions and is barely recognizable, at least to my untrained eyes.  When I opened the envelope, the tattoo was one of the first things I noticed about this card.  The back of this card also mentions some of his back problems, which led to his troubles.

I’ve always had a fondness for game used jersey cards that were a bit off the beaten path, like minor league sets.  While they never seem to hold any great ‘value’ I prefer them to major league issues if the opportunity presents itself.  And of course, being any colour other than plain white is a bonus.  I picked this card up off ebay, for what I felt was a perfectly reasonable price ($4 + shipping).  I still have many cards to pick up, and I am trying to do that in an orderly manner, but every so often a card shows up that just looks cool, and I need to pick it up.  This was one of them.

A mini post

February 19, 2008

Black Bordered Mini I’ve always loved mini cards.  They are so cool looking.  Yes, they are a pain to sort, and even worse to store, but its like having all the good things about a card, concentrated into a smaller package.

As far as storage – they are awful for player collections.  I am a binder person, and I like to keep everything in order, so I can flip through and see what I need, and what I have.  These little guys slide around too much in the normal 9-pocket pages.  There are 15 pocket pages out there that fit these cards like a glove, but it rarely happens that I start a run of minis when I need to start a new page, so it throws that off as well.  Bottom line – I love mini cards, but they can be a giant pain as well.

As an outside observer of baseball cards, Allen & Ginter was one of my favorite sets to look at.  Now that I actually have a card from that set in hand, I am even more impressed.  They are just fantastic looking.  The black borders on the mini pictured here look excellent, but I am glad they just used them for a parallel. Something tells me A&G is one of those sets that look amazing when you line all the parallels up next to one another.  That should be fun.  Its my only little way of reducing entropy in the universe.  Every time a run of parallels gets completed, somewhere a building collapses to keep the universe in balance.

Starting out

February 18, 2008

Starting a player collection can be kind of daunting.  Even moreso in my case, as it was in a sport with which I was not entirely familiar.  I am mainly a hockey card collector.  I am a fan of all sports, but my collecting has been focused mainly on one sport. 

I didn’t just wake up one morning, decide to collect Josh Hamilton and then hit ebay shortly after.  I did some research, found a checklist, checked book values and completed listings on ebay and then made a few purchases. 

I decided to strike a balance between picking up a few nice, high end pieces and knocking off bulk commons that I would need to get eventually anyways.  Best place to look for high end singles?  Ebay of course.  Finding lots of commons and low end parallels from 5 years ago is a bit trickier.  It is usually difficult to find these cards listed on ebay.  Sportlots is by far the best source for this type of purchase.  It takes a bit of digging to find sellers with exactly what you are looking for, but the shipping is very reasonable, and a wealth of cards can be found.

I have made purchases of small lots from several different sellers, and they have started to trickle in already.  This is allowing me to catch up on styles and designs for several different sets at once, and there are definitely some cool items out there that I have missed out on.  From the lot that arrived on Friday, I pulled out this 2001 Topps HD single as my favorite.  Its on a thick, plastic type stock, which I like.  Its also neat to see Hamilton in these early issues, sans tattoos.

2001 Topps HD

First arrival

February 18, 2008

Although the Upper Deck Masterpieces Press Plate that I picked up was the first actual purchase I made for my collection, it wasn’t the first card I took possession of.  The combination of Canada Post and the USPS made sure of that, with their seemingly random distribution of mail.  I’m used to it by now, so I don’t worry too much until a month has passed.

The first arrival for my collection was also my first autograph.  Bowman Sterling is a very nice looking set, and while I am not a huge fan of the silver foil stickers some card companies use, with the right card design they can be really sharp.  Sterling is one of those sets.

Bowman Sterling Autograph

By the numbers

February 17, 2008

I spent yesterday getting my checklists and binder organized for my Hamilton collection.  I keep everything in an Excel spreadsheet, sorted by year with various notations for cards I have, cards I need, cards that are pending, and cards that are incoming. 

Hamilton Statistics

I think I’ll probably do weekly updates in this format to track my progress more quantitatively, rather than just having scans to show off everyday.  It should be interesting to look back and track how fast my colelction has grown.  I do not have 2008 up there just yet, I believe Hamilton only has two cards to date, an All Rookie Team autograph in Upper Deck, and he shares billing on a Josh Beckett Season in Review, although he doesn’t actually appear on the card.  There will probably be more to come shortly.

Custom Hamilton Cards

February 16, 2008

The two cards in my blog’s banner actually predate my collection by several months.  I love spending time in Photoshop fooling around and remaking card designs from the past.  With Hamilton, I suffered from a distinct lack of good photographs, but I think the shot from Mother’s Day of him on the Fleer card makes up for it.  Its a beautiful picture, and the bright colours on the card really stand out, even if they are gaudy.  1991 Fleer was uglier than sin, but it was really easy to remake, and it was also the first pack of baseball cards I ever opened. 

I am thinking of printing out those two customs and trying to get them signed through spring training.  And, I am looking forward to making a few new Texas Rangers ones this year.