Friday, March 28, 2014

Let's Start The Weekend With Some Autographs

I'm the kind of TTM autograph collector that will only write letters a few times a year. In other words, I will only write when the mood strikes me, which is usually never. But every now and then I will fire off about 20 letters over the course of a few weeks and send them off to various athletes, actors and comic book artists. Today, the fruits of my labor has arrived in the form of 4 successful returns.

I've been wanting to build my Islanders autograph collection, so I sent off to former players and received these 3 successes today:

Doug Crossman was a defenseman who played 14 years in the NHL for teams such as the Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings, Hartford Whalers and My New York Islanders. In fact, his best offensive season came as an Islander when he scored 15 goals, had 44 assists for a total of 59 points during the 1989-90 season. Mr. Crossman signed my 1990-91 Pro Set card and Islanders custom card in about 10 days.

The current GM of the Phoenix Coyotes is best remembered for his days as a New York Rangers (or Rags as I like to call them). But yes, the left winger played 2 seasons on the island after a season in Hartford. He had a decent season during the 1989-90 season, scoring 16 goals with 27 assists. He was named Islanders GM after his retirement, which wasn't a successful time for Mr. Maloney. He traded Pierre Turgeon to Montreal for Kurt Muller, a player who never wanted to be here and make it known of that by playing like it. That trade summed up Maloney's time as GM of the Islanders. But since I want to collect as many Islander autographs as I can, I needed Maloney's and he was nice enough to sign my 1990-91 Pro Set card, but not my Islanders custom. I sent the request c/o the Coyotes.

I was very happy to get Brent Sutter to sign these for me. Brent is a former Islanders Captain and a member of two Stanley Cup Islander teams and was also an All Star. He played over 1,000 games with both the Islanders and Blackhawks. He also the head coach of the New Jersey Devils, leading them to a division title then coached the Calgary Flames. I sent this request c/o the Red Deer Rebels, a hockey club he owns. He was nice enough to sign my 1990-90 Pro Set, 2006-07 Parkhurst and Islander custom.

To finish off the TTM's for today, I got former NY Jets Dave Herman. He played for the Jets from 1964 to 1973. He was a 2 time AFL All Star and was a member of the 1968 Super Bowl team. In fact, he had to block Bubba Smith, who at that time was one of the most feared pass rushers in the game. Herman did a masterful job, enabling Matt Snell to rush for 121 yards as the Jets beat the Baltimore Colts 16-7 in one of sports greatest upsets. Dave signed my 1971 Topps Football card in less than 10 days.

I also got my half of a trade in today. I traded for this 2013-13 Upper Deck NHL SPx Brock Nelson signed dual jersey card #'ed to 499. I really like the way this kid is playing this season and I think he's going to be a steady player for the Islanders. I traded a few inserts for this and I'm thrilled that I am able to add this autograph to my Islanders collection.

I'm very pleased with the haul today. I am hoping that some more TTM requests I sent out come back within the next few days. I the meantime, I will keep writing them until I just don't feel like writing anymore.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Islanders Announce Tentative Plans For 2014-15

As the Islanders play their final season in Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the speculation as to how the team will celebrate it's 43rd and final season on the only ice the team has called home. So, before the team moves into Barclays Center for the 2015-16 season, it seems like the Islanders will celebrate it's long history on Long Island.

There has been no official announcements made, but today on the team's website, it looks like the team will be bringing back from their Stanley Cup winning teams as well as celebrating players and milestones from each decade. Plus the team will be hosting Fan Appreciation Nights as well as holding open practices.

You can read what the team posted, as well as watch a video posted by the greatest goal scorer in Islanders history, Mike Bossy, here:

It looks like it's going to be a fun and emotional season for us Islanders fans next season. As excited as I am for the move to Brooklyn,  I am going to miss watching the team on Long Island. I am going to enjoy this as much as I can before the puck is dropped on the ice for the last time.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Westchester Sports Card Show-3/22/2014

I attended the Westchester Sports Card Show at the Westchester County Center today. I originally wasn't planning on attending, but my buddy, Victor, wanted to get Mariano Rivera, who was appearing at the show, to sign a piece for him, so I agreed to attend. Rivera was a 300.00 autograph so there was no way I was getting to meet him today. I am confident that I will meet Rivera someday soon. But for today, I made due with meeting former Texas Ranger and New York Yankee, Ruben Sierra.

Sierra was signing autographs from 1-3 pm, but I got caught up at looking at the dealer tables that I was late getting in the line. By the time I had got on,  the signing had started. As of late, the line for the free signings have been incredibly long and today was no different. When I got to the back of the line, it had snaked down to where it was close to where Sierra was signing! I could have turned around and handed my stuff to Sierra to sign.

So for the next hour and a half, I passed the time by talking to my sweetie and playing Solitaire on my phone. My buddy went up to meet Rivera while I was waiting. By the time he was done, I was still waiting. Ridiculous. Next time, I will be in line before the signing even starts.  Slowly, but surely the line started moving and I finally made it to the front of the line to meet Ruben.

As I passed off my items I said hello to Mr. Sierra. Sierra didn't even acknowledge me, instead he chose to continue his conversation in Spanish with his buddy. I tried again to engage him in friendly banter as he signed my items to no avail. He didn't even look at me as he slid my stuff across the table to me. I didn't even say thank you, choosing to just grab my stuff and leave. Look, I know I'm not anything special, but have some manners and at least say hi when someone comes up to you at a signing that you were paid to be at. It wasn't just me he ignored either. I saw other fans and a child or two get he cold treatment from him as he signed without acknowledgement to the fans.

At least I got 2 nice autographs for my Yankees PC

I wasn't going to let that jerk ruin my day at the show, so I circled the floor a couple times, looking at dealer tables.

For various reasons, I didn't bring a whole lot of money with me to the show, so I had to be very picky about what I picked up today. I decided to keep it cheap and stick with looking at cards that were under a dollar. I wanted to look for cards to add to my Tino Martinez and Mark Teixeira collections. After looking through a couple of boxes, all I found was 2 cards.

Not exactly what I had in mind when I decided to stick with these two players. Disappointing to say the least. Guess I will just stick with COMC to add to my player PC's. But all was not lost. I was able to add 2 pieces to my Jets collection.

Picked up a 16 x 20 Calvin Pace signed SI cover, blown up. The dealer had a ton of Jets stuff and would have thrown in the Calvin Pace for free if I had bought a Darelle Revis signed mini helmet for 50.00. Unfortunately, I didn't have that much, so I just took the Pace auto for 10.00.

The Matt Simms card cost me 3.00 at a table where a dealer was trying to get my friend to pay up to 400.00 for a Panini Matt Harvey autograph/Patch card. My buddy is not a card collector, but even he knew that guy was overpricing his cards. The patches were pretty sweet, but I think if he really wanted them he could get them cheaper on eBay. The dealer wanted 5.00 for the Simms, but I talked him down to 3.00. He also had some Stephen Hill Patch/Autograph cards, but wanted 40.00 for them. He said he still believes in Hill. Well, at least someone still does.

I also got a free Mariano Rivera card at the door with paid admission.

The drawing on the card was done by Brian Kong. I have long been a fan of his work on various Topps cards as well as some Marvel comics. He had a table set up, but wasn't there when I went to his table. I looked at some sketch art he was selling. If I had the cash, I would have picked up a piece. I'm a huge fan of original sketch art and saw a sweet Don Mattingly he was selling. Had I known he was going to be there, I might have bought along an artist card and asked him to sketch something and sign it. I'll keep an eye out for his next appearance. The Rivera card is a pretty cool and unique addition to my Yankees PC.

All and all, despite my funds being on the low side, I managed to have a bit of fun and add a few pieces to my various collections. It just goes to show you that if you plan out your day properly, then anyone can have a good time, regardless of what you have in your pocket.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Teixeira Tuesday-2009 Topps Heritage

One of my favorite releases of the year is always Topps Heritage. I love vintage stuff. Cards, toys, comic books, magazines, old black and white movies, 1950's and 60's Rock N' Roll are just some of the things I love. My buddy claims I have an old soul. It's either that or I just realize some things were better back in the day. That isn't to say I don't love the modern conveniences we have today. I guess you can say I love classic with a modern twist.

That's why I love the Heritage sets so much. A classic card design with modern ball players. Ever since Topps introduced the line back in 2001, I have tried to complete the Yankee team sets of this series. I do have some work on some of the sets, but I do love the thrill of the chase and I will continue to chase the cards I need to complete my Yankee sets.

The past few weeks I have been doing a lot of card organizing. I am creating binders for certain sets and on Sunday, I worked on my Heritage binder. Looking through the binder once it was done was pure enjoyment. To a lot of people, organizing can be a chore, but when it comes to my cards I find that it's a relaxing way to spend a weekend day. Put on some music and it makes the day that much better.

The 2009 Topps Heritage set was based on the design of the 1960 Topps set. 2009 was Teixeira's first season with the Yankees after signing a 8 year, 180 million dollar contract with the team. Usually, you get your first glimpse of a player in new duds in the Heritage set where the company will super impose the team colors, logos and whatever else on to the player. You can clearly see it in the photo above. The New York looks small and funny as well as the interlocking NY on his cap. I don't care how funny it looks, I love this card.

The moment Tex became a Yankee, I knew I would be collecting his cards. I was a fan of his when he was in Texas but I never collected him. The moment he put ink to paper I was on eBay looking for cards of his to buy. When this set came out, I was thrilled to have my first Teixeira card in pinstripes.

Even if the NY was Photoshopped.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

It's Always Nice To Have An Islanders Mailday

Being an Islanders fan has not been easy this season. The team has not made that next step forward that we Islanders fans thought the team would after taking the Penguins to the limit in the opening round of last years Stanley Cup Playoffs. The team has regressed back to it's losing ways. Kyle Okposo was stupidly passed over for a spot on the US Olympic Team, John Tavares was injured during the Olympics and was done for the season and Garth Snow could not get the equal value for Thomas Vanek at the trade deadline, settling for an unproven prospect and a 5th round draft pick, which could turn into a 2nd rounder if the Canadiens make the playoffs.

But at least I can still get Islanders mail that puts a smile on my face these days.

Yesterday, I got my return on a trade I made with someone on one of the few card collecting forums that I am a part of. I sent over a few Canadien inserts and he sent me this beauty

a 2013-24 Panini Dominon Thomas Hickey patch/auto numbered to 299. The patch is event used, but I don't care. It's a gorgeous 3 color patch. The autograph leads a bit to be desired, but I needed a Hickey autograph for the Islanders PC. Hickey is in his first full season in the NHL, but he looks like he could be a serviceable defenseman for the Islanders for years to come.

A couple of weeks ago, I started sending out TTM requests again and yesterday, I got my first one back. Of course, it's an Islander.

Former Islanders defenseman Ken Morrow signed 4 cards I sent him. This was a great success for me for a couple of reasons. I grew up watching the Islander teams Morrow played on and won 4 Stanley Cups with. I also watched my very first hockey games during the 1980 Olympics and Morrow was a member of that team as well. During those Olympics, he had a goal and 2 assists as well as prevented Soviet goals by diving in front of the net during that famous game.

Morrow signed a 1984-85 Topps card, a custom and 2 Team USA cards for my Team USA project, which currently stands at 3 players who signed for me: Morrow, Jack O'Callahan and Jim Craig. I plan to get a few more requests to members of that team in the upcoming days.

Despite the fact that the Islanders are probably headed for a top 5 pick in this years Draft (Again!), I still get great enjoyment from watching my team. It's a joy that I will probably never get tired of, no matter how many times they have a losing season. When I get a mailday like the one I got yesterday, it only enhances the love I have for this team and hope I am able to continue to add to my Islanders collection.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Yankees 2014 Topps Series One

I recently participated in a case break of 2014 Topps Series One with my group of team collectors. I had the Yankees and the Rays. I decided to send the Rays to our Rays collector as well as a set of Yankees as I had gotten triples of each card I got.

So, what did I get?

I was pleased to get Jeter since it will be his final season. I know that there will be other Jeter cards made well after he retires, but I will make it a point to enjoy each Jeter pull during his final season as an active player. I've watched Zoilo Almonte since his days with the Staten Island Yankees and also got a Gardner.

One current Yankee and two former Yankees. Logan's in Colorado and Wells is still available, I think. He played well for the first couple of months of 2013 then teetered off.

Hoping that Soriano continues to play well this season. He will be the DH this season. Assuming the Yankees keep Ichiro, that will be the only spot Soriano plays this season. I would assume that Ichiro and Almonte will be the back up outfielders.

I'm betting that Murphy will start the season in Scranton since the Yankees seem to want Cerveli to back up McCann. I'm not a Cerveli fan, but as long as he is not the starting catcher then I'm fine with it. Just keep the hot dog antics to a minimum. I feel Nunez needs to step it up this season and hit more constantly as well as keep the errors down. I'm seriously going to miss hearing "Enter Sandman" and seeing Rivera come out to save another game.

My favorite moment of last season. Watching Jeter and Pettitte come out to get the ball from Mariano and seeing him cry on Pettite's shoulder was very emotional for most Yankees fans, myself included.

Got some very nice Jeter inserts. I love the look of the "Before They Were Great" cards.

More Yankee inserts of Donnie Baseball, Cano and Joe D. I love the vintage picture of Dimaggo as well as the picture of Mattingly they used for these cards. I watched Mattingly from the very beginning of his career and that is how I remember him. Peppering balls all over the place and making outstanding plays at first. People say Keith Hernandez was the premier first baseman in the 80's, but Mattingly was just as good, in my opinion.

I love the 1989 mini's. This will be a fun set to chase.

Got Red Hot Foils of A-Rod, Jeter and Wells. These are not numbered.

My lone Gold parallel, which is numbered to 2014.

Pulled a Andy Pettitte Game Used Jersey card.

I even scored a couple of Roberto Clemente cards for my Clemente PC.

I really love that Rookie Class Of 1955 Pin card. I'm really glad to have it.

I liked this years Topps release, although I think the design looks more "Bowman-like" than a classic Topps design. I really like the inserts in this years set, especially the "Before They Were Great" cards. I will have to chase the inserts I am missing like the "Super Veterans" set on or through trades. I was a bit disappointed that we did not get players such as CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeria or David Robertson in this series. Also, no first Yankees cards of Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann or Carlos Beltran. Oh well, I guess you have to leave something for Series 2.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

This One Bleeds In From The House Of Swag

A couple of days ago, I posted on the Sports Room's brother blog, The Sexy Geek's House Of Swag, about an item I had been long interested in starting a collection of. If you can't what that is by the picture above, that item is lunch boxes.

While writing about them, I started thinking if there has been any sports lunch boxes I have come across in my youth and it triggered some memories that I had buried in the deepest regions of my brain. I HAD come across not one sports lunch box, but two of them in my days.

At the school I attended as a youngster, there was this MLB lunch box just lying around somewhere. The counselor who was assigned to my group either felt bad for me or got sick of my constant yapping about these cursed things and would let me play with this lunch box. I say play because if you look on the back of it...

There is a picture of an infield, a scoreboard and one lonely outfielder. I used to take this lunch box and play an actual 9 inning game with a spitball and a pencil. I recorded the outs, hits, strikeouts, walks and everything in between. I even had my own team, the Bronx Bombers. Yeah, not very original, I know. The team was made up of my friends and I and I would keep stats for each one of us and pad my own stats. I think I had 100 home runs one year. I even designed uniforms for us.

I would love to grab this lunch box. Obviously, the memories of the hours of joy playing the game in the back has something to do with it, but I just love the lithography on it. On the front, you have an obvious picture of a Red Sox player sliding into third base while a Yankee player is administering the tag (He was out, ump!). The side panel on one side has a Baltimore Oriole swinging a bat (Frank Robinson, maybe?) and the top has a pitcher at the tail end of making a pitch. If I had to guess what team he could be from, I'm guessing he's a Cardinal.

Great looking lunch box.

Moving on to a different sport, I also seem to recall a buddy of mine, a Steelers fan, if I remember, having this awesome lunch box.

This is really cool. What it has that the baseball one doesn't have is official logos, or helmet logos in this case, of all the teams that were in the National Football League. I had fun looking at the helmets on this lunch box, trying to count how many teams still were using the same helmets that was on this 1970's lunch box. On this side, The Cowboys, Saints, Bears, 'Skins, Lions, Cardinals, Vikings, Packers and Niners all have just about the same helmets.

These football lunch boxes must have sold well because during the 1960's and 70's there has been numerous NFL lunch boxes offered for the fans to pick up.

Here's one from 1978. I love the painted action shots n the front of the lunch box.  The Cowboys, Steelers, Rams, Raiders and Broncos are all represented here. Where is my team?

Right under the Houston Oilers helmet. 1978 was the year of this lunch box as well as the first year the Jets wore those helmets. I wish they would wear them again as alternates instead of the Titan unis.

This lunch box is from the early 70's, 1975, I think. Again, I love the classic helmets on this lunch box, 10 of which are not in full time use.

Here's one from 1973. Love the blue Oilers helmet on this lunch box.

There was one other from the early 1960's that I couldn't locate a picture of, unfortunately. I have seen it before. What I remember of it, it had a drawn action shot of a QB from the Bears dropping into the pocket while his offensive linemen tried to stop the blitz from the Green Bay Packers.

How about Hockey?

There are the generic ones like these from the 60's and 70's

Borrowed that one from Kovels's site.

NHLPA had lunch boxes of their own

And the players had lunch boxes of their own. Bobby Orr had a few all to himself.

Not an official player lunch box, but you can clearly tell that's Phil Esposito.

Of course, Wayne Gretzky has to have a lunch box of his own.

I'm not sure, but I am willing to bet the majority of those lunch boxes were Canadian. Maybe the Boston Bruin lunch boxes were made here in the good ole US of A, but I can't be too sure.

Shockingly, I could not find any examples of any vintage NBA lunch boxes. I would have thought with popularity in the NBA growing during the 60's and 70's, there would have been some lunch boxes produced, even if it was of players like Wilt Chamberlin, Jerry West, Walt Frazier, or Oscar Robertson. Aside from a Harlem Globetrotter one, there was nothing from basketball.

I did find one for you soccer fans.

I remember when Pele came to New York to play for the Cosmos. It was huge. I knew absolutely nothing about soccer, but when Pele played, I would watch the games. That's when I realized that soccer was not for me. I would give the sport a few more shots during various World Cups, but it just doesn't tickle my fancy.

So, as you can see, if you're a collector of a sport, team or player, chances are there was a lunch box produced that would nicely into your collection. The prices on these vary. They depend of if there is a thermos and condition, but most could be had for around the $50.00 mark. If you have the means, I would definitely suggest grabbing a few to add diversity to your collection.