Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Year in Review and a look ahead in 2012

Well another year has come and gone, and once again it's been a great fulfilling year collecting-wise. Card-Wise some of my bigger adds included rookies of Pistol Pete Oscar Robertson, Reggie Jackson, Rod Carew, and George Gervin, Autographs of Derek Jeter, and Albert Pujols, and Bowman Chrome auto rookies of Felix Hernandez, Ryan Braun, and Evan Longoria. I also sold my first ever Michael Jordan card, something I thought I'd never do (it was the 96-97 Slam Cam for a almost $180). I also added quite a bit to my game used collection and decided to part ways with my McFarlane Sports Figures Collection. Here's a few main events that took place in 2011.

Emergence of my Game Used Collection/De-emphasizing my Card Collection- These two go hand in hand pretty much. My card hobby has survived many different "diversions" throughout the years. Coin collecting, Starting Lineup Figures, Pogs, but at the end of the day, my main focus would always return to cards and those other hobbies faded away. After 21 years though, I'm really feeling like my excitement for cards has dwindled down considerably and there are many factors for this. The first is Panini and their exclusive NBA License. The NBA is my bread and butter, because basketball is my favorite sport. The majority of my collection focuses on basketball, and when Upper Deck and Topps lost their basketball license to Panini, I couldn't be more upset. I've tried, but I'm just not a fan of Panini. To me their cards seem cheap (there are a couple of exceptions of course) and I just can't get into any of their products. No MJ and Lebron is huge too. At first, it forced me to go back in to 90's and vintage, and I was still full force cards the first half of the year. Then I started really to expand my game used collection and it took a life of it's own. I ended 2010 with a bang adding three awesome additions to my collection.not one of them was a card. Two game used jerseys (Shaq and Dirk) and a Ty Cobb PSA/DNA certified signed check.  In late 2009, I got my first taste of Game Used Memorabilia, which was a game used Yankees/Mariners baseball from the 2000 ALCS. In 2010, the Alex Rodriguez game used bat, became my first full piece of memorabilia, followed by a Kevin Garnett Game Used Jersey. In 2011, I really started adding more pieces, including some amazing pieces like a Miguel Cabrera Autographed Game Used Bat, Albert Pujols Game Used Bat, Dwyane Wade Autographed Game Used Jersey, Paul Pierce Game Used Jersey, and more. The more I get into Game Used, the less cards excite me, because the majority of cards are based on game used swatches and patches and logomen etc. How can I get excited about a tiny swatch when I can get the full thing? The only game used cards that interest me now are still your hall of fame players that I'll never be able to afford full size memorabilia of (i.e. Mantle, Ruth, Chamberlain, etc). I really scaled down the 2nd half of 2011 on cards, in fact since August, I've bought maybe 6 cards total, a far cry from what I am used to buying. Will cards stay second fiddle in 2012 or will my game used hobby subside like other hobbies have before? Only time will tell.

Selling Off My McFarlane Collection- I'm currently doing a series of posts on my Starting Lineup collection, which is ironic, cause I'm getting rid of my McFarlane Figure  collection which is basically a modern version of SLU's. Starting Lineups were such a huge part of my childhood, that I think I really tried hard to make McFarlane Figures be my new SLU's. It was just never the same though. One, was the price point, SLU's typically retailed for $7.99 at the most, while McFarlane Figures range from $9.99 all the way to $14.99 or even more depending on what Toys R' Us you go to. The cost at retail was so bad, I just started buying cases online, which totally takes the fun out of it. "The Chase" is what made Starting Lineups so awesome, the thrill of the hunt so to speak. Also, when I collected lineups EVERYONE carried them. Target, Toys R' Us, Wal Mart, K-Mart, hell even HEB. Today, not every Wal-Mart carries them, and really the only store that does around here is Toys R'Us and they are so overpriced it's not worth buying them. I tried but couldn't recreate the magic so I decided to jump ship and sell off my McFarlanes. Outside of chase pieces, they don't really have much secondary value, so I figure to recoup what I can and move on. It just proves that nothing really can ever take the place of Starting Lineups.

What does the future hold in 2012? Who knows really? Here are some predictions I believe will happen.

More focus on vintage cards- I did more than I usually do last year, but I think with my current disinterest in current cards for the most part, I might focus on picking up some hall of fame rookies. Guys like Wilt, Johnny Unitas, Nolan Ryan, etc.

More Selling off of my Cards- I definitely think I'll be doing more selling, and looking to consolidate my collection. For example do I need 5 Carmelo Anthony autos? I might look to sell them and pickup one of Melo's best rookies like his Ultimate Collection/SPX. I definitely think I'll be making less card purchases, but the ones I do will be worthwhile. Quality over quantity might be my collecting motto of 2012.

More Expansion on my Game Used Collection- I think my main focus will still be Game Used in 2012. Unless somehow UD gets their BBall license back, I just won't be too interested in current cards and I really love the closer connection you get with full game used memorabilia.

Every year I ask if this is the year where I grow tired of collecting, where I just sell everything and be done with this hobby. I'm not there yet by a long shot yet, but I do think I'm slowing down a little, especially on the card side of things. Who knows though, we'll see what 2012 brings.  Hope everyone had a great 2011, and here's to a great 2012!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sports Cards and Memories Presents: My History With Starting Lineups Part 1: The Beginning Years

My first foray into Starting Lineups began when I was about 7 years old. At the time to a kid like me, Starting Lineup figures were toys, period. I never once thought about them being collectibles, and my introduction to them was the Christmas of 1991 when my parents bought me the 1991 lineups of Michael Jordan, Jerry Rice, and Joe Montana. Now at the time, it was very common to find superstar Lineup figures as they hadn't taken off as collectibles yet. I did what any normal kid would do...I opened them. 
The 1st three lineups I ever received. No, they didn't last in those packages!
Not only did I open them, I...gasp....PLAYED with them! In fact, when I was kid, I used them as wrestling figures, along with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and my WWF figures. Imagine, Hulk Hogan vs Michael Jordan in a WWF ring! 1992 would be no different. For Christmas I received a lot more Starting Lineup Figures. I vividly remember, Scottie Pippen, Barkley, Bird, Dee Brown, Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman, Barry Sanders, Derrick Coleman, the list goes on and on. Another accessory my parents bought me this time were the collector display stands. These were discounted in the bargain bin at Toys R Us. My parents ended up buying me display stands for all 3 sports. Little did I know, how valuable those would end up being.
Starting Lineup Collector's Stands. They initially didn't sell well at all and ended up in bargain bins. Later during the Starting Lineup boom, the Stands were very sought after.

Again in 1992, I opened every single lineup I received. Again, lineups were readily easy to find, even here in South Texas, finding Emmitt Smith, and Troy Aikman was not a problem. The first lineup I actually kept in the package would be one I found at a local card show in 1993. I bought a 1989 Legends Oscar Robertson there. The reason I kept in package was kinda strange. It looked like an old figure and it was of a Hall of Famer and the Cincinnati Royals were a team that didn't exist anymore so I kept it in the package. It had nothing to do about it being valuable. I was still buying figures and opening them in 1993, like the Griffey Jr, Jack McDowell, Horace Grant etc.
   1st unopened lineup in my collection

It was in 1993 though, that I did learn that as a collectible, Starting Lineup figures were more valuable if they were kept unopened in mint shape. The days of opening them up and playing with them were over. I started regretting opening them up and it made me sick to my stomach that what were once so easy to find, were now becoming very hard to find. No more finding Jordans, Emmitts, Nolan Ryan's by the bundle. Starting Lineups were beginning to take off as collectibles now. Now, at this time, I wasn't a huge collector, I would buy them here and there, but it was spread out for the most part. Starting Lineups were still behind cards in the hobby department. It would basically be one of those things I would look for only if we happened to go to a Wal-Mart, K-Mart or Toys R Us. The first lineup I bought at a store that I kept unopened was the 1993 Frank Thomas which I found at our local K-Mart. I thought I had hit the holy grail, and imagined that this piece had to be worth a ton of dough, lol.

1st Lineup I found at a retail store and kept unopened. 1993 Starting Lineup of Frank Thomas

The addition of the Thomas had me officially "collecting" Starting Lineups. No more opening them up at all for me. Like I said, it started it off very small. In 1993, I only added like 5 pieces to my collection. The 93 Steve Young ,93 Michael Irvin, 93 Cal Ripken Jr, 93 Dominique Wilkins, 93 Larry Johnson . I curiously did end up opening the Wilkins for reasons unknown, and in 1994 bought and opened the Laphonso Ellis (of all players) as well. After that though, I would never open up another figure again. Still entering 94, Lineups were a distant secondary hobby, if I managed to find any great, but there was not a really big desire to hunt for them. I was so entrenched in cards and video games, that basically lineups would only come if I received them as gifts, like the 1994 Gary Sheffield, and 94 Latrell Sprewell and Shawn Kemp.
1994 brought in figures of players such as Shawn Kemp and Latrell Sprewell

As 1995 rolled around, it was still more of the same of the last couple years. I averaged around 3-4 new figures a year, so it wasn't that many. 95 only brought in figures of Alonzo Mourning, Jerome Bettis, Barry Bonds and Juan Gonzalez. 1995 would officially signal the end of the 1st phase of my SLU collection because starting in 1996 things really started to take off, and Starting Lineups slowly started it's ascension to the top of my hobby world.

  1995 was the official end of the "Initial Era" of my Starting Lineup Collections. It would be the last time I added less than 10 figures in a year to my collection.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Game Used Greatness: 08-09 LaMarcus Aldridge Game Used Home Jersey

It was a Merry Christmas indeed. I got my Paul Pierce in Friday, and my parents surprised me with this gem. Certified by Meigray and has the Kevin Duckworth Memorial Patch.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Game Used Greatness: 06-07 Paul Pierce Game Used Alternate Road Jersey

Had to take a break from the Christmas madness to post this beauty. I got this in today from Grey Flannel and it's awesome! It's an alternate game used road jersey of Paul Pierce. What makes it awesome is it had both the commemorative Red Auerbach Patch and also the Dennis Johnson (DJ) armband. Very cool indeed.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sports Cards and Memories Presents: My History With Starting Lineups; A multi-part series focusing on one of the biggest hobbies of my childhood

Sports Cards, Video Games, Basketball, and Starting Lineup Figures. Those 4 things basically defined by childhood. They were without a shadow of a doubt the most important things in my life (besides family and friends of course) when I was a kid. Starting Lineup collecting, though was for me one of the more interesting, unique, and more fulfilling hobbies that I had growing up. The "thrill of the  chase" so to speak. From 1991 until 2001, I collected these "sports superstar collectibles". At first, as just toys, then as I got older as collectibles, before giving it up for good right before the lineup crash. Over the next few weeks, I'll be doing a multi-part series on my history with Starting Lineups. The beginnings, personal stories, the heyday, and sadly, the end of what was truly a great hobby to be in. The series will be divided up as follows

Part I: The Beginning Years: 1991-1995
Part II: The Collecting Boom: 1996-2000
Part III: Kenner loses it's NBA License to Mattel
Part IV: Other Kenner influenced collectibles
Part V: The Fall of Starting Lineups

I will always have great and fond memories of Starting Lineup Figures and I hope you will find this retrospective entertaining and for those who collected or still collect Starting Lineups, interesting. It's a fun personal recollection of the little sports figures that ruled from my childhood up to my teenage years. Hope you will enjoy!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Game Used Greatness: 2003 Albert Pujols Game Used Bat

Been sick basically all week, but this definitely made me feel a little better. PSA/DNA certified Albert Pujols Game Used Bat

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Return of Sidney Crosby: Not Too Shabby

After almost a year off due to a concussion, it was interesting to see how Sidney Crosby would play in his return last night against the New York Islanders. Would he be rusty? Could he return to form as one of the best NHL players in the game? Well as last night showed, he still has it. 2 goals and 2 assists in his first game back. Not bad at all, and it's good to see that Crosby looks healthy and the concussion is behind him. Here's hoping to a successful and healthy season for him. I only have one card of his, but I made it a good one. A dual patch with Penguin legend Mario Lemieux. It was definitely a consideration for my top 100 list as it features a couple of multi colored patches of two Pittsburgh greats. I definitely want to pick up an auto of Crosby down the line, but if he keeps playing like this, I might have to dish out some major dough!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Top 100 Cards of My Collection #1 The Grand Finale

We're finally here, 99 cards have come and gone and we've finally made it to the end of the road. When I first started this in March, it was a project to help pass time since I had given up buying stuff for my collection for lent. It gave me an opportunity to sit back and take a look at the collection I have amassed the past 20 odd years. It was really cool going back and trying to come with a list of my 100 favorite cards. It was also a very difficult decision and as you've seen from my honorable mentions, I had to make some very tough choices. However there was one card that I never ever wavered on. It was a slam dunk #1 card no doubt about it. It's a card I chased since my childhood. A card I never ever imagined owning, until finally in the spring of 2009 I was able to obtain, in my opinion the holy grail of my collection. The #1 card in my collection is this

Hands down in my collection, the best basketball card ever made. No game used patches, no autographs, no serial numbers, just a flawless card featuring the most famous action shot in basketball card history. I remember being a little kid, and asking for this card every Christmas, hoping and wishing I would get it. As I got older, I remember thinking when I got a job, this would be the first card I would buy, if I could afford it that is. Luckily for me, after years of waiting, I was able to buy this gem. I don't collect for the grade, but I know with a MJ rookie, there are so many counterfeits, so I had to go graded to make sure I got a legit copy. Without a shadow of a doubt, my best and most favorite card of my collection. I hope you have enjoyed taking a look at the collection I've been able to accumulate the past 20 years. Collecting has been a huge part of most my life, it's a hobby that I enjoy and love, and from the Penny Hardaway Finest Rookie to the MJ Fleer Rookie, I'm proud of my entire collection and it was my pleasure showcasing the best of the best so to speak of my collection.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Game Used Greatness: 2008 Nelson Cruz Game Used Jersey

Another awesome addition to my game used collection. Won this off Mears Auction, Game Used Nelson Cruz jersey. Great piece!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Top 100 Cards of My Collection #2 2001 Donruss Elite Throwback Threads Babe Ruth Jersey

We're down to the final two cards and yes here's a familiar face as this is the 3rd Babe Ruth card in the top 10 (4th in top 15). Ho Hum just another Babe Ruth jersey card right? No, not to me, this is my favorite Ruth jersey card out of all my Babe Ruth memorabilia cards because it's the oldest and also because of this
I always loved the older Donruss memorabilia cards because they show a picture of the actual jersey they cut up to put put in their cards. It's a lost art nowadays (hell, you don't even get what the swatch actually is a piece of anymore) and to me it makes older game used cards much more desirable than their modern day counterparts. That leaves one card left on the countdown, if Babe is #2 who could possibly be #1???? You'll find out soon as the countdown is very close to reaching it's finale!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sports Cards and Memories Salute to Lance Berkman and the St. Louis Cardinals

I'll admit, I'm not exactly thrilled the way the World Series ended for the Rangers. Though I'm not a hardcore fan, more of a casual fan, I was pulling for Texas because my best friend is a huge fan of theirs, and I wanted them to win it for him. I'll tell you what though, this World Series pulled me more than any other series I've ever seen. That game 6 was unbelievable, I've never seen such a game in my life in  any sport. Though the Rangers lost, I always like to see superstars who've played for years get their first ring. For example, Dirk beating the Heat was so awesome and satisfying, because for stars, unfairly or fairly you are measured by championships, and finally nabbing one put Dirk up there as officially one of the NBA's best.
Lance Berkman's 1997 Bowman Chrome Rookie Card

That was the case with Lance Berkman. He played so many years with the Houston Astros, he got his chance in 05, but the Stros got swept by the White Sox. Last year, Berkman had a horrible year and was traded to the Yankees where he had a less than stellar stint there. Signs were pointing to his decline, but he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in the offseason to play outfield. Many thought this was nuts, but Berkman proved his doubters wrong and was a valuable part of the St. Louis Cardinals Lineup. He returned the All Star Game and helped lead the Cardinals to an improbable playoff run and eventually the World Series. His contributions in the World Series were invaluable, he came up clutch hits and last night he  got to hoist up that World Series trophy for the first time in his career.
  My In Person Autograph of Lance Berkman. Got this at a Card Show in San Antonio where he was one of the free players signing. Had no idea who he was at the time, just thought eh why not free auto! 

The card above is an in person autograph I got of Berkman at a small card show in San Antonio. He was one of athletes signing for free and if memory serves me correct he was still in the minors at the time. I had no clue who he was, I just got it cause it was free and I wasn't gonna turn down a free autograph! The cool thing about the show was I was flipping through some cards there was a couple beside me looking for some rookie cards of their son. They happened to be Lance Berkman's parents. I always thought that was pretty cool and it's something I'll never forget. So congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals and most importantly to Lance Berkman for finally getting his championship. Hopefully in the future, I can say the same about the Rangers because I have feeling they'll be a fixture in the playoffs for years to come!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Alarming Story about Possible Fake Memorabilia being used in Cards

I was looking at the Game Used Universe Message Boards and came across this story

The scary thing is that some of these crooks actually sold doctored jerseys to card companies who bought them under the assumption that they were real, and inserted them into their cards. This is horrible news for collectors and now feeds in to the beliefs many have, that memorabilia cards were sketchy and fake. I don't know what's going to happen now, the article doesn't state specific jerseys that were faked and sold to the card companies, but now one has to wonder how much confidence collectors will have in buying game used cards of anybody now.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Top 100 Cards of My Collection #3 06-07 SP Signature Edition SP Signatures Michael Jordan

To me one of the ultimate goals a basketball collector can achieve is to obtain an autograph of the greatest basketball player that ever lived. Nowadays, Upper Deck has made it pretty easy with it's barrage of college themed sets and don't get me wrong, any MJ autograph is awesome and should be a treasure of one's collection, but to me the ultimate goal would be to obtain an autograph featuring MJ in his Chicago Bulls threads, like this card shown here at #3. The only thing that could possibly make this card better is if it were on card instead of a sticker autograph, but nonetheless this is a sweet autograph of Jordan. I grew up with MJ, he's the one who initially got me into basketball, and he was so larger than life, and I never thought I'd ever own an autograph of him. Luckily as Upper Deck made more and more autographs of him (I know some people cringe about that notion that UD is diluting the MJ Autograph market) they became more affordable and that's how I was able to add this beauty. Besides the sticker autograph, the only other reason this tops out at #3 is that I have a UDA certified autographed framed 8X10 photo of Jordan as well. It's in a Washington Wizards uniform, but the autograph is nice and crisp and done in silver pen, and that was my first MJ auto ever so autograph wise that's my favorite. But we're talking about cards here, and my 2nd favorite Jordan autograph happens to my 3rd favorite card out of my whole collection. Not a bad consolation prize I'd say!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

McFarlane EBay Auctions ending tonight including Pujols World Series Trophy Chase

This week's round of McFarlane Figures Auctions ends tonight. You can check em out here

Got some good ones going including the Albert Pujols silver chase piece that includes a replica World Series Trophy. It's numbered to 1000 pieces. I also have a Ray Allen in his Celtics uniform, a Kobe, A Lou Gehrig sepia tone painted chase piece and more. Here are the pics of this weeks auctions.