Thursday, July 18, 2019

2019 Topps Allen & Ginter: Ripping the Second Blaster

I'm back with my second (of three) retail blasters of 2019 Allen & Ginter.  This time around, I'm going to simply show off my favorite card from each pack...with the possibility of scanning more than one card from any pack that warrants it.  My first blaster produced three mini inserts for me, here's hoping for more of that this time around!

Blaster #2:
Pack 1:

I avoided looking at the Allen & Ginter checklist when it was released so that I could be surprised as I opened up my packs.  Well, this card definitely surprised me - a beautiful card of the Cincinnati Red Stockings.  Good stuff and a fun way to start the blaster.  I should also mention that this pack included a black bordered short print mini of Jordan Hicks but he's a Cardinals so he didn't get scanned.

Pack 2:

A Ginter Greats of Randy Johnson was nice but I went with a scan of this Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. A&G back mini simply because I have him on my fantasy baseball team this year and he's been fairly productive for me.

Pack 3:

A Roger Maris mini is nice but I love the History of Flight cards.  The plane featured here is the Demoiselle Monoplane which was built using bamboo.

Pack 4:

Another legends mini (this time Willie McCovey) but once again, I went with the History of Flight card to scan.  The plane on this card is the De Havilland 106 Comet which was the first pressurized commercial jet.  The plane debuted on July 27, 1949.

Pack 5:

My second Randy Johnson insert of the blaster, this one is from the Baseball Star Signs set.  Pack 5 also yielded my second black bordered mini of the blaster - a nice Francisco Lindor.  Nice, but not nice enough to scan as a "bonus card" for the pack.

Pack 6:

Woohoo, my first mini insert of the blaster (about time too, I was getting worried).  The New to the Zoo cards are retail only.  That and the fact that it is a 20 card insert set means these will be tough for me to track down in the wild...I'll definitely be relying on trading so if you pull any you don't want let me know!

Pack 7:

This was the most boring pack (so far) of the blaster with only a Lou Gehrig A&G back mini of note.

Pack 8:

My third Randy Johnson of the blaster rounds out Blaster #2.  This is a regular back short print - card number 400 in the set (since Topps apparently somehow screwed up the numbering with the set).

Well, after a great first blaster I have to say that this blaster was a bit of a letdown for me, at least in terms of acquring mini inserts.  Other than getting the one New to the Zoo card (which are seeded 1 per blaster anyhow), I didn't luck into any other mini inserts.  I did at least not pull any duplicates from the first blaster so I guess it's not all doom and gloom.

One more blaster to go and then it'll be on to my hobby boxes!

Delivery Time! Trading with Mr Haverkamp

I'm on a roll in terms of getting caught back up on trade posts - and even though 2019 Allen & Ginter is supposed to be released today (I'm hoping my hobby boxes arrive later in the day), I figured I'd make sure I got another trade envelope highlighted before the inevitable crush of hobby Ginter goodies begins (I've already shown off some retail Ginter if you go back through my archives)!

For this morning's post, we are going to take a look at a small envelope from Mr. Haverkamp (aka Jim).  Jim and I completed a small swap back in late spring.

I have a whole lot of sets that I'm working on right now and Jim was able to help me out with a pair of sets including 2000 Topps.

Thanks to the Tino and Hamilton, I'm now only missing three more cards from 2000 Topps.  One of my stated blog resolutions for 2019 is to whittle my want list down to 100 sets or fewer.  I'd love to be able to acquire those last few 2000 Topps base cards in order to reduce my want list by one more set now!

If you are curious, here are the final three cards that I need from 2000 Topps:
Base:  84, 237, 478

**EDIT**  I received the final three base cards from another fellow blogger!  More on that in a future post.

The other set that Jim helped me out with a bit on was 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter:  Flags of All Nations mini set.

I'm an unabashed lover of the Allen & Ginter line of cards...and I love flag this set is a perfect set for me to try and collect in its entirety.   At the moment, I am still missing 16 of the 50 cards (32%) in the set so I have some work yet to do.  That said, getting even one card in a trade is always much appreciated since mini cards from 2007 aren't necessarily the easiest things to track down these days!

Many thanks for the great swap, Jim!  And, as always, should anyone else want to trade be sure to check out my want list and make an offer.  Now, let's bring on 2019 Ginter, shall we?!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

2019 Allen & Ginter: The Rest of Blaster #1

Earlier this evening, I had enough time to rip open (and scan) the first four packs out of my first (of three) blasters of 2019 Topps Allen & Ginter.  Now, it is time to finish off blaster #1.

Pack 5:
19.  Javier Baez
376.  Wade Davis
39.  Jesus Aguilar
159.  Rodney Mullen
Baseball Star Signs:  BSS-49. Bryce Harper

A&G back mini:  Amed Rosario

The A&G back minis are seeded 1:5 blaster packs.  This year's A&G back design is definitely busier than past years but I think I approve.  The back looks a bit more "special" than simply having the A&G logo and that's it.

Pack 6:
257.  Sonny Gray

It took until the sixth pack for me to pull my first new Reds card of the year.

139.  Harold Baines
119.  Michael Kopech
218.  Michael Brantley
Ginter Greats:  GG-4.  George Brett

Mini:  New to the Zoo:  Penguin Chick

Yeah, that George Brett card is nice and all but the real highlight of the pack is that adorable penguin card.  As a child, penguins were my favorite animal and I have to be honest:  I still have a soft spot in my heart for them to this day.

Pack 7:
69.  Danny Jansen
238.  Trevor Bauer
360.  Jorge Posada
21.  Francisco Lindor
Incredible Equipment:  IE-4.  Paul Bunyan's Axe

Mini:  184.  Travis Pastrana

The Incredible Equipment cards are seeded 1:6 packs.  With 20 cards in the set, it'll take some time before I'll be able to finish it I'm sure.

Pack 8:
170.  Lawrence Rocks
268.  Adam Ottavino
30.  George Springer
121.  Jose Abreu
Mares & Stallions:  MS-10.  Kentucky Mountain Horse

Collectible Canines mini:  CC-25.  Maltese

Woo!  Another mini insert, I'll take it!

The final tally from the first blaster (with stated odds)?

2 Regular back base
1 Regular back short print (1:13)
1 A&G back (1:5)
1 black border (1:10)
1 Collectible Canine (1:10)
1 New to the Zoo (1:8)
1 Chugging Along (1:50)

I'd say I did really well with my selection of mini cards!  Getting three mini inserts is huge for me since I aim to complete all of the mini sets.  My full-sized inserts were all basically right on the dot in terms of stated odds, no complaints from me whatsoever on this blaster!

I Found 2019 Ginter in the Wild!

My wife and I took a shopping trip to Target today and wouldn't you know it, they had 2019 Topps Allen & Ginter blasters in stock (as well as rack packs and loose packs but I avoided both of those options).  I did, however, buy myself three blasters...this despite the fact that I have some hobby boxes of 2019 Ginter on their way to me right now as well.

What can I say?  This is the first 2019 product that I've decided to purchase, might as well go all-in right away, right?!

Three blasters to rip, I'm going to rip the first few packs right now!  Each blaster contains eight packs with six cards per pack.

Pack 1:
228.  Yasmani Grandal

Grandal has the "honor" of being my first new card of 2019.
280.  Bryce Harper
390.  Phil Rizzuto

Woah, card number 390?  I didn't realize that A&G was shifting from the standard 350 cards in the base set to a larger base set.  Actually, according to Cardboard Connection there are no base cards numbered 301-350 which means the base set is actually 350 cards as usual.  That's bizarre to say the least.
Baseball Star Signs:  BSS-42  Tony Gwynn

This is the obligatory "fit in a bunch of retired greats" insert set in Ginter.  The design is certainly colorful and I dig Tony's uniform on the card.
222.  Matt Olson
Mini:  365.  Ty Cobb

A short printed mini card finishes off the first pack.  My early impressions of the set are good (other than the whole weird numbering snafu).

Pack 2:
42.  Jacon DeGrom
142.  Mitch Haniger
299.  J.A. Happ
Ginter Greats:  GG-9.  Bob Feller

Another set full of retired greats.  This is a pretty cool throwback inspired design though that looks at home in a set like Ginter.
50.  Hank Aaron
Mini:  59.  Justus Sheffield

Pack 3:
241.  Kyle Seager
65.  Ozzie Smith
384.  Rogers Hornsby
History of Flight:  HOF-15.  Space Shuttle Endeavour

Alright, the History of Flight cards are freaking awesome.  I guess these will form a mural of sorts when placed together - something I hope to do once I open up more Ginter.  I'll be sure to show it off if/when I finish it.  The borderless design reminds me of the Ascent of Man (I think that's what it was called) insert set from a few years ago.
105.  Todd Helton
Black border mini:  53.  Willie McCovey

That black bordered minis are sharp looking this year.

Pack 4:
58.  Edgar Martinez
166.  1st Tiger Mask
264.  Yonder Alonso
History of Flight:  HOF-12.  Lockheed SR-71

204.  Cionel Perez
Chugging Along mini:  CA-4.  Cable Car

Woo, my first mini insert of the year!  I'll be collecting ALL of the mini inserts once again so please, please keep me in mind if you pull any you don't want.  I'm positive I'll end up with plenty of trade bait options once I get through these three blasters plus the hobby boxes that should be arriving tomorrow!

I'll try to crack the remaining four packs later tonight - Happy Ginter-mas everyone!

Delivery Time! Remember the Astrodome

Yesterday, I mentioned that I was bound and determined to get all caught up on my baseball card hobby.  Today, I'm pleased to report that I'm still working at it - here's another trade post from a package that arrived back in May (or maybe April?) to prove that I'm working hard!

This time around, we've got a PWE from Marc over at Remember the Astrodome.  Over the years, Marc and I have fallen into a semi-pattern of simply dropping little packages in the mail for the other person whenever we acquire some stuff that other person might like.  It's a pretty easy trading system - he gets unwanted Reds and he ships them to me, I do the same thing with unwanted Astros for him.  Win-win.

The latest envelope from Marc basically contained two different sets.  First, the Bowman cards:

I don't collect Bowman but I admit that I do like to get cards of Reds prospects that actually end up doing something good in the big leagues.  It sure seems like Hunter Greene is one such player who could do great things in MLB...but he has to be able to stay healthy (which is looking less and less likely, unfortunately). 

Next up, some Gypsy Queen. 

Marc sent me a pair of these green bordered cards which I imagine are parallels (maybe retail only parallels)?  I sat out GQ this year so I can't say that I know much about the set - but I do know that since I didn't buy any GQ I definitely appreciate getting the Reds mailed my way!

Finally, one more regular base card from GQ:

That Tucker card is a work of art, even if Mr. Barnhart hasn't been all that great for the Reds this year. 

Thanks for the surprise mailing, Marc!  And, as always, if anyone else would like to trade be sure to check out my want list and make an offer.  I'm ready to get back to it.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Delivery Time! Cards from Padrographs!

It might be the middle of July but only now am I starting to feel like I have a handle on the year 2019!  For what seems like forever, I've felt like I was behind.  Behind on the blog.  Behind on yard work.  Behind of school lessons.  Behind organizing my collection.  Behind on cooking, laundry, you name it.

Well, I'm pleased to say that I'm ready to break out of my funk and maybe even start to get ahead on some things (not yard work though, yuck).  While I can't claim to be ahead on trading right now - I can say that I'm aiming to get caught up on trade packages that I've received this year.  I am also pleased to report that I managed to get four trades packed up and in the mail today too.  It was a good day!

Today's envelope is one such trade package that arrived at my house - in this case, right at the beginning of May 2019.  The simple PWE was a return sending from Rod over at Padrographs.  I had sent Rod some Padres and some custom return he hit me up with some more vintage flag cards.  

I've said it before but I think these flag cards are awesome.  The France card has a lot of glue on the back of it but that's okay with me.  Much like my collection of original 1889 Allen & Ginter fish cards, I'm not condition sensitive when it comes to vintage cardboard.

In addition to the flag cards, Rod also sent me this "Ancient Era Remnants" card of a Willis's Cigarettes mini of a card celebrating (?) the technique of pointing a brick wall.  

I love oddball cards like this - and vintage cigarette cards of the mini variety are some of my favorites.  I didn't even know Gypsy Queen had cards like this in it but it's pretty darn cool!

I also have to show off Rod's custom card he included in the package.  

Those mountains int the background are awesome even if I'm more of a warm weather, summery kind of guy.  

Thanks again for the trade, Rod - sorry it took me so long to get a post up!  This isn't the only post though that I need to get written up, I have about seven or eight other packages waiting to be scanned as well.  All in due time - but hopefully sooner than later.  As for trading, I'm officially back open to trading cards.  I'm confident that I'm going to be back and caught up in no time so let's get to it!  

Gint-a-Cuffs 2019?!

One of the fun things surrounding the release of Allen & Ginter for the past several years has been Gint-a-Cuffs.  I know that in the past Topps has graciously offered up a box of Ginter as a prize while a couple of different bloggers have acted as the commissioner of the contest.  Unfortunately, with the release of Ginter days (hours, really) away, I haven't heard a peep about a Gint-a-Cuffs 2019.  Has anyone else?

Monday, July 15, 2019

(Even) Better Know a Blogger: John's Big League Baseball Blog

This is (most likely) the final interview in my (Even) Better Know a Blogger series.  All told, we have completed a total of 13 interviews - not bad at all!  It's been a lot of fun to learn new things about old friends as well as meeting some new friends along the way.  I hope all of you have enjoyed the process as much as I have!  And with that, let's get to the next interview!


1.       Your name (or alias if preferred):  John Sharp
2.       Your blog website:  John's Big League Baseball Blog
3.       Your social media handle(s):  Twitter- @freehan11
4.       What are your favorite sport teams?  All Detroit professional teams, the University of Michigan sports teams, Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo).  Oh, and the New England long as Tom Brady is the QB.

5.       What kind of collector do you consider yourself to be (team collector, player collector, set collector, etc.).  Why do you collect that way?
I'd call myself a general card collector, because I never really focus on one certain thing...I get what I can, but don't need every card of my favorite teams or players.  I completed every set from 1968-1980, and then had to sell them, my biggest regret as a collector.

Now I collect cards of my hero, Bill Freehan, certain Detroit Tigers players, and cards of my favorite players, like Justin Verlander, Matthew Boyd, Trevor Story, and J.T. Realmuto.  I'm also in love with the Topps Living Set, and get as many HOF players cards that I can, and cards of Tigers players.

I guess I'm all over the place because I don't have the patience to focus on building sets.

6.       What is your favorite item in your collection?
My 1963 Topps #466, Bill Freehan's RC.  It's the ONLY card that I have that I'll absolutely never part with.

7.       If you could add any one card to your collection (that you don’t currently own), what card would it be and why?
1954 Topps Al Klaine RC...I've never even seen on in person before.

8.       Thinking back to when you first started collecting, how have your habits changed (if at all)?  Any ideas why?

I was all about the Tigers and Bill Freehan.  Probably traded away Aaron and May's cards for a Kaline card.

9.       If an alien being came down from the stars and forced you to describe yourself using no more than three cards as talking points, how would you do it? 

1963 Topps Bill Freehan RC

10.   If you could give any of the major sport card companies one piece of advice about something you’d like changed (or perhaps simply continued) what would it be?
Stop producing so many cards, it's just too much, and unrealistic to think anyone other than a rich person will to be able to afford every player, set, and product.

11.   Where do you live?  What is your favorite local food?
Portage/Kalamazoo l, Michigan.  The Root Beer Stand has the BEST Hot Dogs in town!

12.   If someone were to visit you, what place (within an hour of travel from your residence) would you suggest someone be sure to check out?
Battle Creek, Michigan, Cereal's where your breakfast cereal is made.

13.   What is your profession?  How did you end up there?  If you are in school, what do you plan to major in and/or what job do you hope to get after graduating?

I'm body started to break down about 10 years ago.  I was in retail, customer service, the restaurant business, and was a Petty Officer in the US Navy, 1985-89.

14.   Do you have any hobbies besides card collecting?
Baseballs and Hockey pucks.

15.   Tell me something interesting about yourself that hasn’t been covered in the first 14 questions.
I was an All-Star Little League First Baseman in Portage in 1972, and my teammate was a guy named Pete Metzelaars, who played in the NFL, and was a TE on the Buffalo Bills 4 straight Super Bowl appearances.


As always, I must first start with a big "thanks" to John, our latest interviewee.  John's love of the Detroit Tigers is apparent both throughout the interview but also if you take a look at his blog.  My uncle is a big Tigers fan so I'll always have at least a small rooting interest in Detroit, even if they aren't my favorite team (or even my favorite American League team) at the moment. 

Back to John's answers, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that I was intrigued with the sounds of the Root Beer Stand for food.  I love a good hot dog and sometimes local hot dog stands can be amazing which is what John seemed to be saying was true about the Root Beer Stand.  Plus, with a name like Root Beer Stand I'd imagine their soft drink selection is on point as well - that sounds good to me!

Thanks again to John (and our twelve other subjects who took the time to complete the interview for me).  This is the last interview that I have responses for - so unless I hear back from someone else I'll consider this series complete!  Thanks to all for a fun time!

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Barry Larkin Collection 683: 2002 Donruss Originals - #296

Barry Larkin
Year:  2002
Brand:  Donruss Originals
Card number:  296

Yesterday, I showcased the first card that I owned from the 2002 Donruss Originals set and in that post I discussed the 14 (!) different Barry Larkins in the set.  Today, we take a look at the second card that I own - the 1986 base design version.  As I mentioned yesterday, as of this moment I don't own any of the other 12 Larkin cards in the set - a total which includes two more run-of-the-mill base cards, two sample cards, four parallels, one regular insert, and three relics.

As for today's card itself, it's very much classic Donruss.  The blue backs, the five years of career stats, the card number in a little's all there, it's all classic, and...well...I feel like I've said all that I can about this design over the years!  The team logo on the backside of the card strikes me as a newer element though I could be wrong about that (I'd have to dig up some old 1986 Donruss cards to check which I'm not keen on doing tonight)! 

Despite the plethora of Larkin cards in the set, I still kind of like the concept.  Donruss Originals is basically the same thing as Topps Archives except Donruss featured the same players over and over within the set, something that Topps doesn't usually do.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Barry Larkin Collection 682: 2002 Donruss Originals - #97

Barry Larkin
Year:  2002
Brand:  Donruss Originals
Card number:  97

The 2002 Donruss Originals set focused on "even numbered" years of Donruss' old designs spanning 1982 - 1988 but featuring only current players.  With four different designs used in the base set, it's a sort of weird mashup that must not have garnered much attraction or attention from collectors because Donruss didn't bother with their planned sequel featuring "odd numbered"  years of Donruss history for the next set.

Another strange thing about the set is that the same players were featured over and over.  In Barry Larkin's case, he has the following cards in the set:
#97:  Beckett Sample Silver
#97:  Beckett Sample Gold
#97:  1982 base set (shown above)
#97.  1982 aqueous parallel
#187:  1984 base set
#187:  1984 aqueous parallel
#295:  1986 base set
#295:  1986 aqueous parallel
#367:  1988 base set
#367:  1988 aqueous parallel
#17:  What if? The Rookies insert
#NF-17.  Nifty Fifty bat relic insert #/50
#NF-17.  Nifty Fifty jersey relic insert #/50
#NF-17.  Nifty Fifty bat/jersey combo relic #/50

That's fourteen (14!) different Barry Larkin cards to track down from a single set!  Insane numbers really, especially when you consider that the aqueous parallels are quite rare (seeded roughly one per box from what I can tell).  As of the time of this post, I own exactly two of the cards from this set.  The one you see above and the second card which I'll probably show off in my next Barry Larkin Collection post.

Friday, July 12, 2019

My Latest Woodworking Project - COMPLETED!

Well, this weekend is already starting off a lot busier than I had originally envisioned.  Tonight, I knew I had a pair of softball games but they ended up getting over about 1.5 hours later than they should have.  As such, I didn't have time to write up the last of the (Even) Better Know a Blogger posts.  I do promise to get the last interview (or two, depending) out to you but now I think I'll wait and try to get the next one posted on Monday since I don't want to shortchange our latest interviewee with a weekend post (and a sunny weekend at that, at least for the east coast).

Instead, I figured I'd show off the final product of my latest woodworking project. 

I had fun creating a combination toy box and bookshelf for my 14-month-old toddler.  My wife is the painter in the house so she took care of that task for me.  I can't wait to see my little guy's reaction to it tomorrow morning. 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Quick Update: Better Know a Blogger Plus Other Stuff

A quick update is in order for tonight. 

First of all, I received one more (Even) Better Know a Blogger entry this morning but I didn't have time to get it posted for today.  I also received word from another person that they are sending me their entry - so if that comes through I should actually have a couple more days of interviews coming up.

Now, as to why I didn't have time to get the latest interview posted? 

Well, I spent the majority of the day in my garage doing some woodworking.  In particular, I built my little guy a combination toy box / bookshelf.  My wife is working on painting the thing for me as we speak - hopefully in a day or two I'll have some completed photos to share but for now here's one I snapped as I was nearing the end of the project.

More (Even) Better Know a Blogger entries to come soon, hopefully Friday I get one up!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

(Even) Better Know a Blogger: Trouble with the Curve

Welcome back to yet another entry in my (Even) Better Know a Blogger series.  I believe this is the final interview that I have...and unless someone sends me their answers prior to the time of my next post tomorrow, I'll consider the last entry in the series.  Enjoy - and thanks to everyone who participated either via interviews or simply by visiting my blog and checking things out!


1.       Your name (or alias if preferred):  Chris Miller
2.       Your blog website:  Trouble with the Curve
3.       Your social media handle(s):  Instagram only is where you can find me:  a_baseball_hobby_blog

4.       What are your favorite sport teams? 
I’m pretty much a baseball guy these days.   I grew up as a New York Mets fan since their AAA minor league team (Tidewater Tides) played in my city when I was growing up.  It was cool to see the guys play locally and then get called up and see them on TV.  It was really cool in the mid-80’s as many of the 86 World Champion Mets once played right in front of me.  If the NFL is on I’ll pull for the Buffalo Bills.  I think being a 90’s kid and seeing them in the Super Bowl so often is where that came from.  Back then, I was what you would call a “bandwagoner” but I think today, I could call myself a true “fan”. 

5.       What kind of collector do you consider yourself to be (team collector, player collector, set collector, etc.).  Why do you collect that way?  

I have a feeling this will be a long answer.  I complete the Topps flagship set every year (whether I like the design or not) just to satisfy the continuity of it all.  I also look for sets that grab my eye.  I really like the Gypsy Queen as well as the Allen & Ginter sets.  I’m just now finishing up the 2010 Topps American Chicle.  I think I need 1 card (Chipper Jones SP) to wrap that one up.  That’s been a fun set to collect as it is an “art-deco” set featuring the works of 4 different artists.  It’s not for everyone but I’ve enjoyed it.  Of course, the Stadium Club sets are just amazing and I make a point to grab a set of those each year. 

Outside of set collecting, I have a few player collections going – Gary Carter being the most prominent.  I have over 2,000 unique Carters but am slowing down.  I even have a 1969 Topps Roberto Clemente that once belonged to Carter.  He was an avid collector himself.  After he passed away, his family auctioned off some of his cards. I also have player collection going for some guys that came out of my hometown; Michael Cuddyer, Chris Taylor, Ryan Zimmerman, and David Wright are four big ones.  I also collect random singles that catch my eye.  I’m big on cards that feature great photography or simply capture the spirit of the game.  I love cards that show players turning a slick double play, cards with diving catches, or cards that show important events in the game.  Every once in a while, you will see a card that really just epitomizes that particular player.  For instance, you can find some iconic images of Rickey Henderson swiping a bag or Ken Griffey Jr’s graceful swing.
I’ve got a binder full of nothing but catchers too so I guess you can add “catchers” to the list of what I collect.  Any card with the ivy-covered walls of Wrigley Field usually make the cut as well. 

I love looking at cards and finding that one little thing that I like about it.  For instance, where is the umpire on Manny Ramirez’ 2008 Stadium Club Card?  A pretty good airbrush job on Topp’s part. 

Lately, I’ve found myself collecting modern cards featuring the old-school players.  I think Topps does a great job finding new photos of those guys to feature.  I also do some “through the mail” autograph requests when I have the time.  I’ve been doing it since the late 80’s and it’s always fun to get that plain white envelope in the mail and have no idea who’s inside. 

Lastly, now that I’m a “grown up”, I can afford some of the vintage cards that I’ve always wanted.  I’m not really a “graded card” collector but if I do purchase one, I find myself sticking to PSA – probably because the cases stack nicely together.  Dumb reason I know. 

6.       What is your favorite item in your collection?  
I’ve got a few actually.  My most valuable item would probably be a Ty Cobb cut signature that I’ve had framed with a lithograph of his 1911 T3 Turkey Red card. 

I also have 3 cards that were given to me. 

My Mom gave the Strawberry for making the honor roll in 4th grade, the Clemente was a Christmas gift from my Dad one year, and the Jack Brohamer was a card that my Grandpa found tucked inside a small wooden box in an antique shop.  We had stopped there to take a break on a family trip to the mountains.  I remember him showing it to me and asking if we should buy it.  I think we paid a nickel for it.  I was about 7 at the time and it was the oldest thing I had ever owned.  I thought it was priceless.  I guess it still is.  I’d never sell or trade it. 

7.       If you could add any one card to your collection (that you don’t currently own), what card would it be and why? 
I think at this point, I need to have a Mike Trout rookie.  He’s literally the best player that the game has seen in a LONG time.  I know I said I didn’t chase cards for financial reasons but this one is a sure bet. 

I’d also love to have the 2017 Topps Opening Day Hanley Ramirez SP.  It’s simply a beautiful card that as I said before “captures the spirit of the game”.  You have Ramirez crouching down studying the pitcher while he awaits his turn at bat.  You have the B&O Warehouse of Camden Yards looking in from right field as the sun sets on the evening ballgame.  The pitcher is in mid-stride as the catcher and umpire await the pitch.  These are the kinds of cards I like to collect. 

8.       Thinking back to when you first started collecting, how have your habits changed (if at all)?  Any ideas why?  
Oh man, we could be here all day with this one.  My tastes have certainly changed over the years.  I collected as a kid in the 80’s and 90’s and enjoyed trading cards with some local kids in the neighborhood.  We used to follow the Beckett price guide religiously and made decisions based on what the numbers were doing.  Once I got to high school though, most of those kids moved away and I really didn’t have the time or money to continue collecting like I used to.  I kept the cards packed away and in the late 90’s realized that what I once thought was going to be a “gold mine”…wasn’t the case.  I also realized that I had cards of a bunch of cards that I really had no attachment to.  After college I decided to get back into collecting and took a much different approach.  Today, I simply collect what I like rather than what’s popular.  For instance, other than what’s in a complete set, I have never set out to collect a single Shohei Ohtani or Bryce Harper card.  Those two guys do absolutely nothing for me.  I just collect for me – sometimes, it’s just one tiny detail on the card that puts it into the “keeper” pile.

9.       If an alien being came down from the stars and forced you to describe yourself using no more than three cards as talking points, how would you do it?
By far the hardest question on the interview! 

Let’s see.  First card – 1909 T202 Charles Seitz – I choose this card because it features a player from Norfolk Virginia.  I love my hometown and would never leave it.  I spent way too much on this card but it’s one of my absolute favorites.

Second card – 2011 Topps Heritage Bronson Arroyo – In 2011 my wife and I honeymooned in Key West Florida and have been back several times for vacation.  It is seriously one of our favorite places.  Since Bronson was born there, he should be included.
Third and final card – 1974 Topps Carmen Fanzone – enjoying a four year career with the Red Sox and the Cubs, Fanzone retired from baseball and become an accomplished jazz musician.  I love jazz music, especially early jazz through the late 60’s. 

10.   If you could give any of the major sport card companies one piece of advice about something you’d like changed (or perhaps simply continued) what would it be? 

I’m not really a fan of how the companies feature an autographed sticker on the cards.  As anyone would, I’d much rather have an “on-card signature.” 

Speaking of autographs; I also really hate it when I see cards featuring “cut” signatures on them.  I’ve seen a lot of cards featuring signatures cut from banking checks lately.  I also think it’s in bad taste when the card companies take something like an 8x10 and cut the signature out of it to feature on a card. 

I’m also not a fan of this year’s Gypsy Queen “variation” theme.  Some of the cards are simply “missing” the player name or the team logo is either the wrong team or missing altogether.  It’s just crazy. 

Don’t even get started on these Topps Bunt “digital cards”! 

On a positive note, despite Topps being the major player in the industry, I love that we have so many different options on what we can collect.  Topps does a great job of producing enough products for all types collectors.  Lots of fun insert sets and different styles of cards out there these days. 

11.   Where do you live?  What is your favorite local food?
Born and raised in Norfolk/Virginia Beach area.  Living here on the coast, we have access to a tremendous amount of fresh seafood which is always good.  I’ve got a little Italian restaurant down the block from my house that has some of the best pizza in town.  Check out Reginella’s if you’re ever in the area.

12.   If someone were to visit you, what place (within an hour of travel from your residence) would you suggest someone be sure to check out?  
I’m kind of a history buff so I would recommend checking out Jamestown (first permanent English settlement in the America’s), Fort Monroe which played a pivotal role in the American Civil War, and the Cavalier Hotel which was built during the roaring 20’s and served as one of the most luxurious hotels on the east coast for many years.  Socialites, politicians, musicians and celebrities all stayed there.  Adolph Coors who founded Coors Brewery committed suicide by leaping out of his sixth floor window in 1929.  He was old, sick and suffering financially from the effects of prohibition.   Many people who knew him said that he was such a miserable person that they weren’t all that sad to see him go whether he jumped or fell.  *ouch!*

13.   What is your profession?  How did you end up there?  
I work for a food service distributor as their Learning & Development Manager so I work with a team of 15 in the Southeast.  I graduated from Elon College in 2001, (the same alma matter at Ted William’s best friend and Boston hurler Tom Brewer) and worked at a private country club for a while.  In 2006 I went on to open a restaurant with a few other guys and ran that for a few years.  I guess that set the stage for what I do now.

14.   Do you have any hobbies besides card collecting? 
My wife says I’m WAY too “into my yardwork”.  I like to read but with a 4-year-old son at home, it’s usually complete pandemonium at my house.  If I had more quiet time, I’d get more reading done.  My parents have a lake house that we enjoy going to and spending time out on the water.  My wife and I both appreciate listening to music and Netflix has made me realize how much of a couch potato I can be.

15.   Tell me something interesting about yourself that hasn’t been covered in the first 14 questions!
I have a relative that played major league baseball.  I can’t remember how my “greats” to use here but let’s just say he’s my great-great-great-great uncle.  Jack Wentz had a pretty successful minor league career from 1887 to 1904.  He actually played a few years of minor league ball in Norfolk Virginia (with Charles Seitz pictured above) which is really ironic considering that it’s my home town.  In 1891 he played 2nd base for the Evansville Hoosiers in the Northwestern League.  As the American Association was collapsing, they were begging for players.  He signed up and played in one game.  He went 1 for 4 with 2 errors. 


Once again, a huge thank you to our latest participant in my (Even) Better Know a Blogger series.  I've had a blast reading everyone's answers including Chris' replies today.  I have to give Chris lots of extra credit points for including so many interesting images for me to use throughout his interview as well!

As for some of Chris' specific answers, I must say that I appreciated all the history he included in his replies.  For example, I had never heard of the Cavalier Hotel before but now I'm inspired to learn a bit more about it.  I also think Chris' love of baseball was apparent throughout the interview - especially when he discussed what he collected.  Good stuff all the way around!

That will basically wrap up this edition of (Even) Better Know a Blogger.  Who knows, maybe in another three or four years I'll run another edition of the series...until then, a big thank you to everyone who took part in any way, shape, or form!