The Topps Binder Project

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I have lots of cards. Sometimes I feel I have too many cards. My wife might agree with that last statement, as I’m sure many your significant others would raise a glass to her as well. Most of my cards range from 1952 to the present day with Topps being a vast majority of them.

Sure I have my Red Sox All-Time Collection, my vintage and 1980s Topps sets I am building, my 1980s Oddballs project … but what do I do with them rest of them? My big question I am always battling with is how to organize my cards in a way I can truly enjoy and have fun looking through them?

I started down the road of doing a “Topps Through the Years” project, but realized once I got in the 1960s I was leaving too many cool and great cards by the wayside. This project was to capture one to two pages for each Topps baseball flagship from 1951 to present (still could happen with the leftovers from new project) depicting nine base cards and then a sampling of nine that might an include an All-Star, player combo, manager, leaders etc, etc. I battled through till I got to 1970 when I hit pause and pulled all the cards out of the pages.

It seems like I have always had card piles dedicated to themes. For example, no-hitters, players who hit for the cycle, players from Massachusetts and so on and so on. And then one day, I was looking at someone’s Twitter feed when I noticed a retweet of another collector’s post. It came from a collector known as gritz (@__gritz__). Gritz was building a binder of pages depicting Topps cards, but only ones printed on actual cardboard. There are a couple of exceptions (1985 Topps Tiffany of Rusty Kuntz, some 80s Traded cards on white stock) but none of todays over-glossed, foil stamped, white card stock. He also includes some inserts from the 1960s such as the 1968 Topps Game and 1969 Deckle Edge issues, as well I believe some Drake’s issues as they were printed by Topps and reside on their gray cardboard stock.

For him, like myself, condition didn’t matter, all it needed to be was fun to look at. In many tweets back and forth, he mentioned there was an arbitrary method to his “organized chaos.” While at one point there may have been themes, they have been long absorbed and no he just sticks the card where it ends up in the cycle of page building. Gritz told me it’s the only binder of cards he routinely pulls out to look at. I was fascinated with these pages and the many cools cards I had forgot about or didn’t realize existed—I was hooked.

And here’s where my new—fun project comes in. As much as I would love to have my Topps Mike Trout rookie card next to, say a 1974 Dave Winfield, it just doesn’t look right. I actually tested a couple of pages and tweeted them out to fellow collectors. One page had just gray cardboard stock (1957–1991), the other page was the same as the first, minus several cards that were replaced with white card stock (1993–present) versions. The gray cardboard won hands down. I don’t know what it is, but modern day cards just don’t look good in sheets nor do they carry that smell that old cardboard carries.

So how am I going to organize this new Topps binder project? Well I have always liked themes so that is where I am going to start. My goal is to try not to have pages full of just star cards unless there’s a good sound reason/theme for it. The below are themes not limited to just one page as there are too many atrocious airbrushed beauties and bad 70s hairdos to limit this collector.

  • Shane (players named Shane)
  • Born on/happened on April 2
  • Card number 1
  • Pitchers who threw No-No’s
  • Players who hit for the cycle
  • All Decades Team: 1960s
  • All Decades Team: 1970s
  • All Decades Team: 1980s
  • ROY winners
  • MVP winners
  • Cy Young winners
  • All-Stars
  • All-Star Gane MVP winners
  • Rookie cards (solo cards for each position)
  • Rookie cards (multi-player rookie stars)
  • Airbrushed beauties
  • Hairdos
  • Specticles (eyeglasses and shades)
  • First team to field an all non-white starting line up
  • Tragic endings (Hubbs, Clemente, Munson)
  • Last cards
  • Managers
  • League Leaders (group by cat; HR, Wins)
  • Player combos
  • Checklists
  • Team cards
  • Post-season/World Series
  • WTF/crazy shiz happening
  • Cups of coffee
  • No bat, all glove guys
  • All about the bats (cards with bats/bat racks)
  • Bunting poses
  • On-deck perspectives
  • Pitchers; behind the plate perspective
  • Catchers (posed, gear, foul pop shots)
  • Same name, not THAT guy (Bob Gibson, Mike Tyson)
  • Oddballs (75 minis, Drakes, box bottoms)
  • From Massachusetts
  • Fron New England (Fisk)
  • Cape Cod Baseball League stars (Will Clark, Cory Snyder)
  • Animal names (Moose Haas, Craig Swan)
  • Dick/raunchy names (yes Rusty Kuntz and Dick Pole)
  • Color names
  • Names with a baseball theme
  • Players who became managers
  • Players who became broadcasters
  • Players who move into front-office
  • Multi-sport guys
  • Fathers and sons
  • Bothers
  • Linked (1970 Pete Rose & Ray Fosse)
  • Hitter feats (oddities)
  • Pitcher feats (oddities)
  • Ballpark shots (cards with just Wrigley ivy, Green Monster (Fenway))
  • Masterpieces (1971 Pinson, 1976 Bench, 1982 Fisk IA)
  • HOFers
  • Hall of Very Good (Pinson, Allen, Simmons, Whitaker)
  • Lots of stats (card backs showing nothing but stats, think 1987 Phil Neikro)
  • World Series Heros (Joe Carter)
  • World Series Goats (Buckner)
  • Cameos (this 1971 Chris Short with Pete Rose leading off second base in the background)
  • Great action shots
  • Great poses

I know I might be missing other themes but the above is just top of my head. I would love to hear your feedback and even card submissions. Hell, I love to trade so would gladly trade for these as well—just drop me a line in the comments or on Twitter (@ShaneKatz73).

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Now with More Wants

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Good afternoon from what feels like an early Spring day here in New England. Yesterday was in the 20’s with snow, sleet, rain, freezing rain. Today almost 60 in spots. Tomorrow, back to winter with a Nor’ Easter that is supposed to drop 10-14 inches across much of the area. Ahh, New England … if you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute.

With that, I did some maintenance on my want lists last night and this morning, especially under the “Wants/Misc.” tab above in the menu focussing on a lot of 1980’s food, team, regional oddball issues. Would like to capture some of the other non-Sox cards during my youth when I began first collecting cards and used to see all the cool box sets, odd balls, regional issues in magazines such as Baseball Cards and Sports Collectors Digest. Looking to put a 9-card sample page of each product at the very least.

I also added a needs list under the “Sets” tab for the 2004 Bowman Heritage (55 Bowman TV set) thanks to a future post package from Shane at Shoebox Legends.

So if you have anything, give me a shout. You can find my trade partners above in the Menu. Thank you for reading!

Born on this date: The Babe

Happy Birthday Babe Ruth!

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The card above was one of the main attractions for the PSA booth in conjunction with the release of the new book about these historic cards, The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball’s Prized Players, and a display featuring what PSA officials describe as “the 1915 Babe Ruth card that never was.” at the 2013 National.

The centerpiece of the display will be a original mixed media on canvas artwork by well-known sports illustrator Arthur K. Miller. At the request of PSA, he has created an artist’s conception of what a Babe Ruth 1915 Cracker Jack card might have looked like based on a period photo of Ruth in his Boston Red Sox uniform. Ruth was not included in the 1915 Cracker Jack set, and this amazing artwork stunningly depicts the great Ruth card that never was.

In addition to the free copy of the Cracker Jack book, the first 500 visitors who sign up for PSA Collectors Club membership or who renew their membership at the show will receive a free, limited-edition fantasy card of the artist’s 1915 Ruth Cracker Jack image. The cards were specially produced by Memory Lane Inc. and are housed in PSA holders with consecutively-numbered labels, 1 to 500.

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As part of building a collection of members of the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame, I was looking for a Babe Ruth Red Sox card (at the time some of the Helmar art cards) when I came across these on eBay. I missed out on several auctions but eventually landed this beauty last summer.

Flashback Friday: 70’s Style

Just a quick post of a nice mail day today. Picked up some rookie cards for my 1970’s vintage album — all for just a little more than a 2017 Topps retail blaster box!

In the batch we have — outside of Johnny Bench — the three other great catchers of the decade in Munson (1970 Topps), Simmons (1971), and Fisk (1972). A couple of Hall of Fame pitchers in Blyleven (1971) and Gossage (1973) and a Red Sox Hall of Famer, a guy that is just outside of the Cooperstown Hall of Fame, and long time Sox favorite … Dwight “Dewey” Evans (1973). Also of note on Evan’s rookie is that of Alonza, or more commonly known Al, Bumbry, who was the 1973 American League Rookie of the Year. Enjoy this groovy Flashback Friday …..

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A Far Out Mail Day

It’s been a crazy week since I last posted. No chance to play as I had freelance on top of work. Heck, even today — working from home for a dentist cleaning — work was too busy to escape to a different LCS I hadn’t been to in maybe 10 months. But alas, it was a good day because these goodies arrived in the mail.

I am putting together a vintage 70’s album with all the Topps I had in a shoebox and top loaders, plus my recent Hostess, Kelloggs pick ups, as well as a couple of other items. I realized while thumbing through some of the years there were a number of cards I wanted to add to this collection. This is the first batch of several coming to me this week and next.

Today’s haul includes two Hall of Famers, four MVP Awards, a collected 49 All-Star Game selections, sixteen Gold Gloves, and 10 Silver Slugger Awards — and a guy who was traded WITH a Hall of Famer.

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1972 Topps Rookie Stars A.L.–N.L. #761

First up, this beauty of a high number! Ron Cey and Ben Oglivie’s rookie card. The Red Sox actually had three high number rookie cards in the 1972 Topps set, a tough one for team set collectors. This Oglivie, Rick Miller (#741), and John Curtis (#724). This will look nice alongside some of the other Rookie Stars I have from this set. Oh, and the guy who was traded WITH a Hall of Famer … Bernie Williams along with Willie McCovey, was sent to San Diego for Mike Caldwell after the 1973 season.

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1973 Topps Rookie Third Basemen #615

Mike Schmidt’s rookie card and some guy Cey is crashing the party again. This is a card I already own in my 1973 Topps Set, but wanted another for the 70’s album. Price was a steal as it has a couple of soft corners and typical of the 1973 and 1974 Topps issues, is miscut. This cut is actually a smidge better than the one in my set yet cost me $65 less! Great coloring and no black printing marks to boot. We all know how Schmidt’s and Cey’s careers turned out but in reading about John Hilton I learned the following:

  • Was the 1971 #1 over all pick in the January Draft (they had two drafts back then) by the Padres. The only player worth mentioning in this January Phase that had any sort of a career was John Wathan taken third picks later by Kansas City.
  • Following his freshman year at Rice, played on a semi-pro ball team that had former Yankees OFer Bob Cerv as its manager along with future big leaguers Ron Guidry, Steve Rogers, and Phil Garner.
  • His first home run was against the Cubs’ Fergie Jenkins.
  • Hilton spent two-plus seasons in Japan, winning a championship with Yakult.

Seems Hilton was a solid defender as he won a couple minor league gold gloves as he bounced through the Blue Jays, Japan, Pirates organizations, and a Mexican League club. He now runs the Arizona School of Baseball.

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1974 Topps Dave Parker #252

Next up, this rookie card of the Cobra. Two bucks got me one of the best right field arms in baseball history. If for some reason you have never seen it, I present you the Cobra Cannon. Gary Carter makes a wonderful play on the ball, but he had to in part because he looked shocked that Parker was even able to make a play a possibility. It’s the All-Star Game, so sure, he wasn’t used to that sort of thing first-hand out of Parker, but it sticks out. You look at Parker’s stats from the 1970’s and it’s easy to see why many thought he was one of the best, if not the best all-around player in the game. He played incredible defense, he could hit period, hit for power, stole double-digits, and had an OBA close just under .400. Just two bad drugs got in the way for a short while.

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1974 Topps Hank Aaron #1

And we close with a card touting the NEW all-time home run king even though he wasn’t yet. Yep that’s right, going into the 1974 season Hank Aaron’s homer count stood at 713. Of course, everyone knew he would break Babe Ruth’s mark, and Topps decided to dedicate it’s flagship issue with Aaron leading off as the number one card.

Hank Aaron’s notable home runs:

  • #1 … April 23rd, 1954 — Vic Raschi (St. Louis)
  • #714 … April 4, 1974 — Jack Billingham (Cincinnati)
  • #715 … April 8, 1974 — Al Downing (Los Angeles)
  • last and #755 … July 20, 1976 — Dick Drago (California)

And with that, off to round up some trade bait to post this week. If there are any Don Mattingly fans, ping me as I have some oddball stuff I will be posting.

Thanks for reading!

Storing Away My Thoughts

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So Jeff Katz (also author of Split Season) over at the new SABR Baseball Committee Blog shared his thoughts on how he organizes his baseball card collection. I left a lengthy post that I figured I should post here as well and see what other collectors and bloggers do with their collections.

I have often found myself battling how to organize my baseball card collection, even today(!!!!) when I am working from home. Most of the time the ideas I come up with

Here is what I have currently organized:

  • 6″ Album for my All-Time Red Sox Collection (one card of every player to have appeared in a Sox uni
  • Another soon to be fruition Red Sox odd ball album
  • A long graded box for my Pre-War, Vintage high-end graded Sox cards. Also in this box are Red Sox vintage oddballs not graded, relics, and auto cards
  • Sets in binders: Topps 1959, 1965, 1968, 1971, 1975, 1981, 1984, 1986, 1993, 2009, barely started 1955 Bowman
  • Another soon to be fruition 1970s/1980s food issue odd ball album
  • Another soon to be fruition No-Hitters/Perfect Games album
  • Everything else is either in stacks, 800, 1600, or 3200 count boxes. In general, these are somewhat organized by year or decade. But there’s some lack of organization within those boxes.

Also just for reference, my collection is technically within living area space, albeit out of site and not in a basement.

I often go through these boxes and pull cards I like for some sort of organized lot/collection/spur of the moment idea … only to have these remain in those said stacks of cards.

I often hit this roadblock over and over. From penny sleeves to top loaders to pages and the cycle keeps going around and around. Pages to semi-rigids, top loaders back to pages …. AAAARRRRGGGGGGHHHH! I have quite a bunch of vintage Topps super stars, leader cards, All-Stars, RCs, combo cards from 1952 to 1979 (and to present) that I don’t know how to organize. I like looking at cards in albums as well as just grabbing a stack of cardboard and flip through to enjoy five, ten, fifteen minutes for myself.

Do I put in pages by years or penny sleeves by years. Just some of what I’m talking about: 53 Bob Feller, 54 Duke Snider, 56 Williams, 56 Jackie Robinson, 58 Aaron, Mays, Berra, Matthews, 60, Musial, 63 Mantle, Koufax, 67 Gibson, Santo, Yaz, 70 Clemente, Gibson, Rose, 74 Winfield, 75 Brett, Yount, Rice, Carter, Aaron and on and on.

I think the one battle that in consistent in my thoughts, is how do I have all my favorite Topps — 1952 to present — in one spot all together. Is that in a large five-inch album or a 3200 count shoebox (kind where cards should be no)?

I just recently thought about taking my favorite Topps cards I have from 1952 to present and create sorta a type collection of Topps Through the Years. One 9-pocket page per year (maybe two if I couldn’t eliminate cards). It certainly would create some great posts for me (otwbbcards.wordpress.com) and would also include the one page each for all the Traded/Update sets (74, 76, and so on). I could add a page of subsets/inserts like the 1969 Deckle Edge too. But THEN, what do I do with the other cards??? What happens if I gotta bump a 1967 Topps Whitey Ford for say a 1967 Tony Conigliaro? Where does Ford go? In a box yet again? I suppose this route would help streamline my collection and extra stars and what not could help me acquire (through trade) other cards I desire more.

Open to other ideas for organizing as well … Would love to hear what other collectors do …