Is Topps Big the Hobby’s Savior?

Wax Heaven

Sorry for the hyperbole.

Seriously, we need the return of Topps Big. Maybe these cards didn’t receive love from collectors because of their over-sized status but as far as cards from 1988-1990, nothing was more fun to read, front to back than a Topps Big card. Keep in mind, I was 10 years old at the time. If we are talking about bringing kids back to the hobby, how are $150 boxes of cards going to be appealing when they can get an Xbox One or PS4 video game for much less and spend WAY more time with it than a piece of cardboard.

Below are two, very crisp scans of Topps Big cards. Look at the effort that went into producing them. You have a very 90s design, which can’t be blamed. Everything was loud and gaudy during that era. Topps included a great head shot of each player…

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A 20-Year-Old Redemption Fulfilled, and Why I Have Never Been a Happier Collector

Lew Dawson 1997 LeafI started collecting cards during the late 1980s (baseball, football, and eventually basketball) and can honestly say that I have never enjoyed collecting more than I currently do.  Note, this is not equivalent to saying that I enjoy modern cards the most (my favorite era to collect is actually the late 1990s).  But before I go further into my discussion about enjoying The Hobby, let me provide a brief anecdote:

This story begins in December 2016.  I had just created LinguaSportsCards.com and was looking for topics to talk about.  To that end, I ordered a few boxes of 1990s cards from online sellers.  One of these boxes was 1997 Leaf football.  Inside one of the packs was a redemption for an autographed Len Dawson card numbered to /1948. I took a picture of the redemption card, and posted it on Twitter.  I did not get much of a reaction.  I…

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Putting together an E91 American Caramel set? Good freaking luck with that.

Pre-War Card Magazine

E91 American Caramel Set Overview

prewarcards-e91c_unglaub

Collectors are frequently drawn to the 1909-11 E90-1 American Caramel baseball set. The colors pop off the card and, even if some of the artwork is sketchy (looking at you, lipstick-covered Joe Jackson rookie card), it’s a really popular set.

The E91 American Caramel set? Not so much. For starters, it’s a ‘generic’ issue with the poses and pictures repeating for various players. That WaJo card is a lot less appealing when you consider it’s the same picture used on Harry Krause’s card, for example. It is is lacking a bit with many key players missing. But collectors pursue it, anyway, because it’s an American Caramel set and those chasing early caramel cards are still interested in it.

And if you’re hoping to complete a set, good luck.

Is collecting a set impossible? Nope. You’ll see complete ones from time to time,

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Red Grange No. 9B card in 1926 Shotwell set a true rarity

Pre-War Card Magazine

In 1926, Shotwell Manufacturing Company issued two different sets featuring football star Red Grange. An ad-backed set featured 12 cards that were mostly action shots of Grange as a player. A second blank-backed issue featured 24 scenes with him in a movie, “One Minute to Play.”

Both are popular and rare. As I wrote recently for Sports Collectors Daily, they were issued with Shotwell’s Red Grange candy bars but not many exist today.

The first set I mentioned generally draws a little more interest since the focus is on Grange as a football player. And it’s in that set where you can find a rare variation on Card No. 9.

Card 9A vs. Card 9B

grange-9b-shotwell.jpegGrange Shotwell 9AThe most common card No. 9 features Grange in college with his Alma Mater, Illinois. It is titled ‘Illinois Famous Half Back’ and features a basic half-body shot of him. However, a much rarer version…

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1936 Goudey set the perfect introduction for new pre-war collectors

Pre-War Card Magazine

24 - Paul WanerOne of the more common questions I’ve gotten from collectors is where to start with regards to pre-war collecting. But despite answering it numerous times, it’s never that easy of a question, to be honest.

I can’t really spin someone around in circles with a blindfold on and simply say, ‘go’. As with anything, there are plenty of considerations. What do you like? What’s your budget like? How do you want to collect (sets, by type, specific players, etc.)? Once I have a grip on those, it’s generally pretty easy to make some recommendations.

In general, though, there are a few ‘go tos’ that I can offer. I’ve done this enough that I can rattle off a few options based on specific tastes of collectors. And whenever I’m asked for an easy starting point, one option that I find myself continually recommending is the 1936 Goudey set.

What’s a Goudey?

If…

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Custom Sunday: I Love To Say BABIP

The Shlabotnik Report

Four customs plus a rant today. Who could ask for anything more?

Continuing my series of 2017 MLB Leaders in some of the more obscure statistics, today we have BABIP – Batting Average on Balls In Play. The formula for this, according to MLB.com is (H – HR)/(AB – K – HR + SF).

I’m not sure how significant of an achievement it is for someone to lead the league in BABIP, but it’s a fun acronym to say so here it is.  Avisail Garcia lead the majors with a .393 BABIP and Charlie Blackmon and Jose Altuve both had a .373 BABIP.

I’m slowly working my way through all of the new managers and making 1963 Post-inspired customs out of them and I think that Red Sox manager Alex Cora is the last of the bunch.

I’m probably going to expand these ’63 Post customs to feature players from…

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When a Gem Isn’t Actually Pristine

Earlier today, Blowout Buzz posted an article about a 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan / Jerry Koosman on eBay. However, this wasn’t any ol’ 1968 Topps rookie card that someone found at a yard sale and posted for sale. This one was listed at over $1 million and has been given the grade of 98 (on a 1-100 scale) by SGC. In other words, they graded it as gem mint and as a comparison, an SGC 98 would crossover to BGS as a 9.5 and to PSA as a 10.

This is indeed a rare card!

Based on what you can see in the picture above, the front of the card does indeed look like a card that could grade very high. The centering looks even. The corners seem sharp. It’s a very attractive card.

The issue I have is with the back of the card. It is clearly not a centered card. Being that it’s centered 30/70 at best on the back, why would SGC grade this card as a 98 gem mint? It’s anyone’s guess why it earned the grade it did but there has always been a rumor surrounding the grading of vintage cards by companies such as SGC, BGS (or BVG), and PSA. That rumor is that the fronts of vintage cards weigh more heavily in the overall grade especially if the front has substantial eye-catching appeal.

As is the case with the card pictured, the front is fantastic and while the back is somewhat off-centered, it supposedly doesn’t detract enough from the overall appeal of the card to lower the grade.

In my opinion, I’ve always hated when grading companies do this. A card graded as gem mint or pristine should be exactly that. It shouldn’t look “pretty good” and given a higher grade than it deserves because the card is desirable and eye-catching, especially if someone is going to list it at $1.2 million! Each grade should be treated equally and the back should count towards the grade as much as the front does.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments section or tag me @jasondeanmartin on Twitter.