March 28, 2007
Card Notes - March 28
I don't want to talk about Ugie Urbina.
But, strangely enough, I have been thinking about the idea of legacy lately, and more specifically, the back of Jorge Orta's 1987 Topps card. On it, his blurb says that he's enshrined in the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame. This morning before work I dug a little deeper and found that the Salón de la Fama del Beisbol is located on the grounds of a brewery in Monterrey, Mexico. And not only is Jorge "Charolito" Orta a member, but so is Josh Gibson and someone named Homobono Marquez (I'd tell you how good he is, but all the pages are in Spanish and I don't really read Spanish, so I'll just say he's 'all good'). Here are a few links to other baseball-related Halls of Fame around the world:
Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame
Venezuelan Baseball Hall of Fame
Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame
Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame
The real kicker will be to wait and see if the Museo de Beisbol in Venezuela inducts Urbina while he's doing time. Something tells me he's not going to be able to save that situation.
Where Old Packs Go To Die
I was in Boston last weekend and, as any card collector up there can tell you, Newbury Comics sells cards--and most of the time sells them for very cheap, much cheaper than you'd expect. I remember a few years ago I bought up the Harvard Square store's supply of Heritage basketball at $0.49 pack. Anyway, whenever I'm there I check them out. I thought it would be no different this time around, maybe get some new packs on the cheap...except this time around I think I may have been the one who ended up with 'SAP' written across my forehead in huge block letters.
I couldn't resist...goddamn Tri-Star...stupid box of packs...what's $20?...I don't know if you've seen these in hobby shops or big box stores or on eBay, but I bought one of those boxes with a picture of a 1952 Topps pack on them. The type across the front of the box screams 'Find the Hi-Series 1952 Topps Pack!!!', and of course there are other old packs worth hundreds of dollars that you could possibly (never) find. So I bought one, and immediately after I bought it--even before I had opened it to take a look at the 20 packs inside--I knew I had been duped. My immediate reaction was that if it was another Tri-Star product (which I'm pretty sure it was), then like the 'Find the Honus Wagner', the packs inside would be worthless, the sum total of the cards would be roughly five dollars (if that) and I'll be out $20.
So I got it home, ripped 'er open and, what do you know, I was staring at a graveyard of packs. But I had to hand it to Tri-Star, and if not Tri-Star then whoever came up with this idea: they found a way to sell old, worthless packs that many dealers had most likely already written off at a loss. I got a lot of packs from 1991, 1992, early Nineties, late Eighties, and one or two weirdos and oddballs that I had forgotten about. I opened most of them, which was cathartic and did momentarily make me forget my post-buy guilt, and left those up in Boston.
In amongst the weirdos and oddballs, the garbage and the junk, I did get three good packs (or at least I would consider three good): 1984 Topps wax, 1989 Topps cello and 1988 Topps American Baseball (sold in Europe). I've been saving these to rip tonight.
1989 Topps Cello
I'm going to start with the 1989 Topps cello. The more I examine it, the more it looks like it was hand-packaged in cellophane, which is totally bizarre, but could also guarantee that there's no chance that I'll find a Randy Johnson or a Gary Sheffield in this pack. I already know I got Dave Winfield and Gregg Jefferies, as they're on the top and bottom of the stack, respectively. And as a sidebar, isn't that the saddest if your Jefferies? Your card is in what is probably a hand-packed cello pack. That means that either someone put you there deliberately to get ride of you, or didn't care enough about you to set you aside. Sad days for you, Gregg Jefferies. At least you're not facing 14 years in a Venezuelan prison.
Well that's totally messed up: I just flipped through the stack of cards and while there's 34 cards (definitely not standard cello pack size), there are two of each of the first six cards: Winfield, Dan Quisenberry, Kelly Downs, Steve Lyons (out of curiousity, I wonder how Psycho would do in a Venezuelan prison), Eric 'Ugly Like Joey Ramone' Plunk, and Julio Franco. Getting two Winfields, two Q's and two Francos no doubt helps the success rate of the pack, but they're really pushing this pack that much closer towards the bizarre.
The rest of the pack: Mike Capel (aka Pat Tabler), Checklist 133-264, Mike Pagliarulo, Chili Davis, Bill Long, Larry Parrish, Jeff Robinson, Brady Anderson, Jim Rice, Wil Tejada, Mike Jackson, Danny Cox, Checklist 529-660, Mike Witt, Tim Laudner, Mookie Wilson, Mark Parent, Bob Ojeda (bad luck with a lawn trimmer, no such bad luck with a machete), Don Mattingly, Ted Power, Floyd Youmans.
Success Rate: 35.29%
I guess Success Rate is not something you can use to judge a pack when 34 cards is your population. It's a mighty tall order to fill.
1988 Topps American Baseball
Trying to drum up interest in American Baseball, Topps sold these cards in Europe in the late Eighties. As you can imagine, they were a flop. Subsequently, they aren't worth very much today. Let's see who I got. Five cards to a pack, one stick of gum...the pack is a boring though omniscent tear-away clear plastic (they should've gone for wax). The cards are smaller than regular sized post-war cards. Greg Walker, Cal Ripken, Eric Davis, Tim Raines, Pedro Guerrero.
Success Rate: 80%
Again, maybe Success Rate isn't a good judge on packs after all, as it doesn't work for packs larger or smaller than 10 to 15 cards in size. Then again, this is a good pack, especially after staring down the barrel of Greg Walker, Chicago White Sox. These cards probably didn't have a chance of success anyways, what with baseball not being played in Europe. It's almost like if Topps unveiled a Cricket card set here: even though the rest of the world's wrapped up right now in the Cricket World Cup, and cricket and rugby and soccer the rest of the time, the United States doesn't care because it's never cared. A card set wouldn't stand a chance.
1984 Topps Wax
I've never opened a wax pack from 1984 Topps before. Should I hold off? Wait and have it graded as an unopened pack? Nah, who am I kidding? It's from 1984. The whole set is selling for under $80. Besides, I can hear the gum moving around in there when I shake it.
Nice. All the cards are warped from age. I bet this pack was kept in a box in a basement or on a radiator somewhere. Plus there's a nice big wax stain on the back of Mike Smithson. Flip it over the pack and there's Houston Jimenez. Next it's Jerry Augustine, fat-faced Glenn Wilson, backup catcher Jeff Newman, Joe Beckwith, Dusty Baker (most likely my star of the pack), Dave Winfield (I stand corrected), Cliff Johnson (already touting the GWRBI--Johnson's claim to fame, if I remember correctly), The Venerable Max Venable, Rick Honeycutt, Checklist 1-132, Bob Clark, Odell Jones and Glenn Abbott.
Success Rate: 20%
My first pack of 1984 Topps was horrible.
And it all happened so fast.
I'll cherish it forever.