Monday, March 31, 2008

My Productive Birthday and A Question About Mail

Well, yesterday it was my birthday. I hung one more year on the line...


Okay, yesterday was really my birthday and all week I was looking forward to getting up nice n' early (something I rarely do on Sundays) to head out to the old flea market and then off to my parents for a nice home-cooked birthday meal.

Well, neither of these planned activities disappointed in the least.

While at the flea, I picked up a few cards that I will be writing about very soon and also a box of cards that I got far cheaper than I would have expected.

While at my parents, I managed to pick up all the issues from the first year of Baseball Cards magazine that I will be doing articles on (1989), picked up my 89 Score box so I can finally let Jason know what I have to help him with his set, and also got to sort through a good chunk of my collection looking for cool cards to put in my soon-to-be-better-than-ever baseball album.

Now here's the question I have for all you experts out there:

What is the best way to mail about 400 cards to someone? My only concern is that the cards get to their destination safely.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I'm Still Here

I'm just taking a break from those Heritage videos and waiting until I go to my parents' this weekend to get my Baseball Cards magazines. I've also gotten really behind on my sorting and I know some people (well, Jason from The Writer's Journey) are waiting to hear about my 89 Score. So I'm trying to get to that as well.

Went to the flea market this past weekend and bought three packs of the aforementioned Heritage. Got an Aramis Ramirez auto redemption card. Other than that, nothing great. I'll probably go back on Sunday and hope for some birthday magic to strike, in card form!

I'm gonna quit now before this post gets any more lame.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

2008 Topps Heritage Box Break, part 6

They're baaaaack...

Box Break 6 from Rich Borosky on Vimeo.

Well, there's a couple nice things in there.

That Lance Berkman jersey card is pretty nifty if I do say so myself. I appreciate that there's part of a pinstripe and not just a plain white swatch.

The Magglio Ordonez insert card looks, well, un-attractive, but in a 50s kinds way, so that makes it a little bit cooler.

Besides those two cards, there's the Franklin Gutierrez and Greg Maddux base cards and not a whole lot else for me to get excited about in these three packs.

As always, contact me if you see anything you like!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Collecting Memories: 1988 Topps Baseball

For as long as I've liked baseball, I've been a fan of the Cleveland Indians.

Living in Buffalo, people assume the reasoning behind this is that the Bisons are Cleveland's AAA affiliate team. Well, although that may be true, I started following baseball in 1988, at which time Buffalo's minor league club was affiliated with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In fact, 1987 was the last year the Bisons would be affiliated with the Indians until 1995.

No, quite simply, I'm a fan of the Indians because both of my parents are from Cleveland. My brother, however, was an A's fan since his favorite player was Jose Canseco.

1988 was also the first year that my brother and I started saving the baseball cards we bought. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we had purchased baseball cards before. I distinctly remember my dad teaching me to sort 1986 Topps cards by team and I can also recall opening up packs of 1987 Topps cards (those green wrappers are what I remember most) on a TV tray in my living room while drinking a grape soda from a glass bottle. What happened to these cards I'll never know, but very likely they were thrown out when my family moved in the summer of '87.

This memory is a little fuzzy, but in the spring of 1988 my brother and I went with my mom to visit... somebody. I don't remember who. It was definitely a Saturday. On the way home my mom stopped to get us something to drink at a convenience store and we asked her to look and see if they had any Garbage Pail Kids. They did not. Instead, she came out with two packs of 1988 Topps baseball cards for each of us. I remember being disappointed that these cards weren't Garbage Pail Kids and being jealous that my brother got a checklist card, but that's about all I remember about those packs.

Since at the time they were merely a substitute for what we really wanted, my brother and I pretty much forgot about those baseball cards until the day before school started that September. My mom took us to the local convenience store and we looked for, you guessed it, Garbage Pail Kids.


Not ones to go home empty-handed, we were determined to use our allowance on something. He bought five packs of 1988 Topps baseball (The Real One!) and I bought...

...ten packs of ALF cards.

My brother got one double in those five packs- Mike Loynd. He gave the card to me and it was the first 88 Topps card I ever saved. The cards from the packs we got in the spring failed to re-surface.

All throughout the fall that year, we'd buy some packs whenever we could. It's funny now that I can afford a wax box of the stuff pretty much whenever the mood strikes me. I remember when saving up allowance and getting five packs was a big deal. I remember how the outside of those packs smelled and how much I loved it. I also remember being forced to buy a pack of cards from a drugstore after the lady behind the counter caught me smelling it a little too vigorously. "Don't put that back in the box after you've had your mouth on it," she said. Embarrassed, I didn't have the courage to tell her I didn't have my mouth on it, I just enjoyed the smell... aaaand now I'm getting off-track here.

For some reason, my brother and I had a weird fascination with those "leaders" cards. I remember looking through friends' piles and pulling out all of those vignetted beauties I could find. Naturally, they assumed I knew something they didn't and were very reluctant to trade them. The day I came home from school having just traded for a beat-up looking Twins leaders card was a proud day. It was the first time I had acquired a leaders card my brother did not have first.

Another thing my brother and I were always excited to get were manager cards. Especially Doc Edwards and Tony LaRussa, at the time the managers of our favorite teams. We really liked the team checklist feature on the back of them, because at that time, we sorted our cards by team.

Naturally, I tried to collect the complete Indians team. By mid-fall, I had all of them except one.

Tommy Hinzo.

I had never heard of the guy at the time, and his career, as you can see, didn't last very long but I will never ever forget that name as long as I live.

Try as I did, I never pulled him from a wax pack. Neither did my brother. None of my friends had him in their piles. The only person I knew of who had a Tommy Hinzo card was this kid my brother and I hung around with. He had the complete factory set of 1988 Topps. He also had a saying- "One to keep, one to sell, one to trade!" At least he let me see the card. He'd never trade it to me (and I tried really, really hard to get it; I have to believe Mattinglys were offered at some point), but at least I knew what I was looking for now.

Well, November rolled around and by this time my brother and I had started pulling more doubles from packs than cards we needed, so we started buying Donruss baseball (Fleer was nowhere to be found in my parts until 1990 and then you couldn't avoid the stuff if you tried).

Guess who one of the first cards I pulled was?

So there I sat with my 1988 Topps Indians team set with the 88 Donruss Tommy Hinzo that my mom convinced me was just as good rounding things out.

I eventually ended up with the 88 Topps version but I have no idea how. I don't think that bratty kid ever relented and I know my brother got a complete factory set that year for Christmas, but I don't think it came from him. Probably I don't remember because by the time I got it it was likely 1989 and I was too shocked to see cards of Ron Kittle and Terry Francona in Indians uniforms to care much about last year's team set.

Still, it's a pretty cool looking card. And by cool I mean it looks like the photo was shot on an absolutely miserable day for baseball.

Whenever I run across one of these cards today (and it's still not a common occurrence; I've bought maybe two wax boxes, three cello boxes and at least three vending boxes and have maybe 3 of these cards total) it's as exciting as it would have been had I pulled it back when I needed it in '88. It's like I needed this one card for so long that it's kind of programmed in my mind to be excited when I come across it, no matter how many I might already have.

You'd think, having started collecting in 1988, that I'd have memories of looking for that Canseco or McGwire or Bo Jackson card. Nope. Saw lots of those at the time. They were cool, but I didn't need them for my Indians team set.

By the way, I think it was fitting that it took me about a half hour of internet searching to find the image I used in this article. Still as hard to find for me as he ever was, that crafty Tommy Hinzo.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Baseball Cards Magazine and The Great TV Auction

Remember these?

My brother and I had a bunch of them when we were kids. I specifically remember reading that Mattingly issue (probably the Q & A section- always my favorite) on the floor in my living room in the summer of '89 after getting back from swimming in my uncle's pool down the street. Don't know why. That's what that specific issue reminds me of.

And now, a little info about me: I work in TV. Specifically, I work in public television. You know, PBS.

Not sure how many of you watch PBS all that regularly but once a year many of the affiliate stations suspend regular programming for as many as ten days to hold The Great TV Auction.

In the days before eBay, the Auction was a great place to get deals on everything from collectables to wine, from artwork to ice cream, from dinner packages to oil changes and so on...

The Auction was always a lot of fun for me since it was the only time literally everyone on staff was involved specifically with a TV production. Whereas most of our productions had a crew of ten at the most, when the Auction rolled around, it was like having a crew of seventy-five people, plus a bunch more volunteer workers, all putting what could sometimes be described as total chaos over the airwaves.

Well, I worked every Auction from 2000 until its final year in 2006, but 2001 is the year I got us all into the biggest pickle... no wait.

2001 was the year that someone donated a complete set (literally every single issue) of Baseball Cards Magazine to be auctioned off. Employees were absolutely forbidden from bidding on items but I knew I wanted those magazines. Problem was, not only was I an employee, but the guy who donated them set their value at 600 dollars. Way too rich for my blood.

Apparently, way too rich for anyone else in Buffalo and Southern Ontario as well because they didn't even get one single bid.

Anything that doesn't sell on-air is put up for sale in our studio at the "after Auction sale", usually at one-third of its value. At 200 dollars, it was still way too rich for my blood. The sale was open to the public and is two days long, so I was sure that some die-hard collector was going to come to the sale that weekend and scoop them up and kill my chances of having back an important part of my childhood.

But, even at one-third of their (probably over-estimated) value, they didn't sell.

Monday rolls around and as part of the studio crew, I'm brought in to help tear down the sale and pack up the things that no one wanted and take them to a storage facility. Needless to say I was thrilled t osee the magazines were still there.

Hoping to catch the Auction Manager in a good mood, I quickly decided that I could realistically offer fifty dollars for the box. I figured fifty dollars was better than the zero dollars that had been offered for them so far, so she might be inclined to make that deal.

I casually walked over and looked in the box like I had never seen it before, trying not to appear too excited. I caught the Auction Manager's attention and called her over.

"What, um, what do you think you're going to do with this box?" I asked.

"What's in it?"

"Oh, you know, just some old junky magazines."

"Well, we're not allowed to keep any newspapers or magazines at the warehouse so we'll probably just throw them away." she said.

"Um, well, can I take them?"

"Knock yourself out." And she walked away.

You could have knocked me over with a feather. I immediately wrote my name in huge letters on the side of the box, accompanied by the words "DO NOT THROW AWAY." I wasn't taking any chances. That summer was spent watching Saturday baseball on Fox (I didn't have cable) while sorting through some newly acquired 80's cards from the flea market, a purchase directly inspired by those magazines.

And now I have in my posession every single issue of Baseball Cards Magazine. All the magazines were in great shape, they all contained the original "collector cards", and they were actually in the box chronologically so I didn't even have to sort them out. And I got them for free. This is without a doubt one of the luckiest things that I've ever had happen to me.

My hope is to share all these great magazines with all of you via some sort of regular feature on this blog. So, you know, keep reading!

2008 Topps Heritage Box Break, part 5

This set of packs actually helps illustrate a problem I've been having since getting back into card collecting this year. More on that after the video.

Box Break 5 from Rich Borosky on Vimeo.

Okay. Pretty standard stuff. No inserts or anything, but at least a bunch of guys I've heard of.

And there's the problem.

Outside of the World Series and Indians games, I haven't followed baseball regularly since about '96 or '97. I have almost no idea who's good and who's not so good anymore. I'm judging a pack's value based on how many players I've heard of, and most likely if you're not a superstar, you play on a National League team that hasn't made the playoffs in a while, you don't play for the Indians, Yankees or Red Sox or you started playing baseball after Bill Clinton was president, I've not heard of you.

Let's take the first pack.

I know Soriano is good because in my area (even though we're distance-wise closer to a bunch of other teams) everyone seems to root for the Yankees. He played with the Yanks, so I know who he is.

Piazza I remember from when I was a kid, but is he still considered a "star?"

Carlos Lee- I have no clue. Name sounds familiar though.

Emilio Bonifacio- Okay, he's a rookie. Probably not a lot of people know much about him yet, so I'm likely not alone on this guy.

Red Sox- Well, as much as I hate to admit it, I know a lot about them because they beat my Indians in the ALCS last year. My second most disliked team (though there's a few individual players I kinda like) behind the Yankees.

Jason Giambi- Again, I know him from when I was a kid (and from the whole steroid scandal), but have no idea how relevant he is now.

Yadier Molina- Name sounds familiar.

... and so on and so forth.

Now like I say, I know the big stars. Ortiz, Prince Fielder, Manny... umm...

Mario over at Wax Heaven made a great post a while back detailing how he organizes his collection. I think it's a great system that I could very well implement to put my cards in order (something else that hasn't really been done since Clinton was president) but I just DON'T KNOW WHO A LOT OF THESE GUYS ARE.

But there's hope. I'm gonna buy some baseball magazines this weekend (do they still do Athlon's?) and I read a lot of these blogs, which has seriously helped polish the rust off my baseball knowledge like Coca Cola on chrome.

Still, I'd like to hear from all of you. All two or three of you (for now) who read this page.

Who do you collect?

Who is worth saving regardless of who you collect?

Who are the big stars?

Why did it take me more than thirty seconds to realize J.D. Drew is not J.T. Snow?

I await your responses.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

2008 Topps Heritage Box Break, part 4

Circle wipe! I don't know why I didn't think of this before, as it works perfectly with the design of these cards. Also, "Hello Stranger" is one of my favorite songs ever, and certainly one of the best songs from its time period.

Box Break 4 from Rich Borosky on Vimeo.

Fausto! Great looking card; I love that shade of blue.

I'm pretty sure that Sam Fuld card uses the same photo as his regular-issue Topps card.

I like that "Words Of Wisdom" card there. Based solely on their facial expressions, it looks like the conversation went something like this:

Randolph: Yeah, John, uhhh... throw some strikes okay?

Maine: That's what you call words of wisdom?

(I'm well aware that they're two separate photos, by the way.)

The inserts (minus the chrome parallels) have left a lot to be desired for me so far. I guess they're nice, but I haven't gotten really excited about them either. That could change, especially if I pull a game-used card with something actually used in a game and not just used to watch a game.

I can't think of anything fun to say about the second pack there, except that the Alaska card came OTM with a huge corner ding.

That Chase Utley will end up in my top ten favorite cards in the set, I'm sure of it.

Brian Bannister chrome refractor! Pretty nice.

Once again, anyone sees anything they like just let me know.

Thank You To White Sox Cards

Steve at White Sox Cards has written a nice review of my new blog on his blog and I just wanted to thank him again.

It's nice to see that as fans of division rivals we can still get along as collectors! Ha.

Seriously, Steve's is one of the better-known baseball card blogs and I can't thank him enough for the publicity.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

2008 Topps Heritage Box Break, part 3

DISCLAIMER: This is probably the best three-pack run of the whole box. That's not to say that there aren't other good individual packs to come, it's just the following represents what I would consider the three best consecutively-opened packs of the whole shebang. Take it away, Jackie Wilson!

Box Break 3 from Rich Borosky on Vimeo.

So there you go. That last pack was just unbelievably exciting for me. A Josh Barfield, an Indians multi-player card (and by now you know how much I like those multis) and that Chipper Jones chrome card that looks really nice. It's such a classic pose, as is the card of Braves team-mate Jeff Francoeur.

Speaking of classic poses, what is up Ted Lilly? That card could have come straight out of the original '59 set.

Speaking of Cubs players, Ernie Banks game-used... seat? Oh well, it's still a pretty cool card.

Some more random thoughts:

I just love the colors of that Asdrubal Cabrera card. I'd like it even if I weren't a fan of the Indians.

The Lance Berkman card also looks great with that red border. Hanley Ramirez too.

I really, really dislike the Yankees, but A-Rod looks like a superhero on his card.

Here's a question I honestly don't know the answer to. Do any cards in the '08 set sport the exact same team logo as the '59 set? I'm having a hard time thinking of any team whose logo hasn't changed even a little in the last fifty years, so the answer very well may be zero.

Back for more very soon!

2008 Topps Heritage Box Break, part 2

Now with 200% more transition effects! I'm also trying to use songs that are of (roughly) the same vintage as these cards are supposed to be.

Box Break 2 from Rich Borosky on Vimeo.

Well, obviously those were some pretty great packs. While most excited about that Martinez All-Star card, I was happy to get a bunch of cards of legitimate stars and superstars. Once again, those multi-player cards are really, really cool.

As I was opening these packs, I remember thinking more than once that "this set would look great displayed in pages."

These videos are easy to put together so look for at least one more before the day is through.

2008 Topps Heritage Box Break, Part 1

I have always loved the 1959 Topps design ever since I saw it in a really thick book I had as a kid, The Consumer's Guide Baseball Card Collecting Handbook.

It just so happens that 2008 is the first year I've bought more than one pack of current-year baseball cards since 1993. I started with the Topps regular-issue set and when I saw what Heritage was going to look like this year, well...

So, I went down to the local card shop and bought three packs and this set is evertyhing I hoped it would be. I went out and got a whole box at Dave & Adam's Card World (I live literally five minutes away) and documented my box break via photo montage!

I'm not even sure I'm interested in collecting the whole set (it would be nice, but likely financially impossible) so for now i'm just trying to get all my favorite players and be happy with that.

Here's packs 1-3.

2008 Heritage Box Break, packs 1-3 from Rich Borosky on Vimeo.

So overall I'm pretty happy that in the first three packs I pulled two chrome cards, a Jake Westbrook and an Indians team card, and a few of those nifty looking multi-player cards. I am considerably less happy that...


... every single pack in the box only had seven cards.

I'm working on getting Topps to send me what I missed out on.

If you see anything you like in this or any future posts of mine, just let me know. I'm open to trading pretty much anything that doesn't feature a Cleveland Indian or one of my favorite players.


Well, after about two solid months of reading everyone else's card collecting blogs, I finally decided that yes, I wanted in too. So here I am.

I'm sure the title needs some explaining.

Way back around the time my brother and I first started seriously getting into collecting cards, our mom was working at the post office and had a boss named Vinnie who also collected cards. He would occasionally give us tips on keeping our cards in good shape, what to buy ("Ya gotta get the wax!" was one of his favorites; he probably still has that cabinet in his basement full of 1988 Fleer wax boxes...), who the players worth saving were, etc.

I'll always remember the night Vinnie had us come over and numerically sort out two vending boxes of 1987 Topps baseball. My brother and I had started buying and saving baseball cards in 1988, so while we definitely remember having some cards from 1986 and 1987, they were not saved past the year they were issued and thus these vending boxes were like buried treasure to us. For the longest time, anything pre-1988 was referred to as an "old card" by us, and we both kept all our "old cards" separate from the rest of our collections. Anyway, I digress.

One night Vinnie was over to look through our cards and referred to a lot of them as "out of the mill", or so we thought. We also thought he was referring to their condition. In reality, he probably was calling our cards "run-of-the-mill" and referring not to condition, but to the outright average-ness of the players we collected. Remember, this was a time when something like a 1986 Donruss Dave Shipanoff rated rookie card was a big deal to us.

Long story short, my brother and I always refer to poor condition cards as "out of the mill" or "OTM" for short because of that mis-remembered conversation with Vinnie almost 20 years ago. Lately, it has become something of a joke between us. We take really poor conditioned commons and sign them "OTM- Vinnie" in Sharpie to officially brand them as a certified OTM card. Sort of like grading, but instead of preserving a card for all-time, we're pretty much assuring its next appearance will be in the recycling bin. Still, we often find ourselves seriously referring to cards as "OTM" just as often, and the term is now a part of our card-collecting lexicon.

Feel free to use it for yourself the next time you run across a card with more wrinkles than a dress shirt that's spent two weeks at the bottom of a laundry hamper.

And please do check back often. I plan on making this place as fun as possible. And I'll hang some stuff up on the walls as soon as I get a chance.