Retro Review – The 28 Year Chase

Have you ever wanted something so bad you could taste it; but you just feel like it will never happen? I’m not talking about things that are unattainable or just pipe dreams. I’m talking about things that have been within reach but no matter what you do or how much you wish, you keep coming up empty. Sometimes it never happens but you never stop trying to make the dream a reality. But sometimes it does happen and the chase became just as big as the ultimate result, kind of like a Super Bowl Trophy for John Elway. I’ve had a few of those (let’s call them Elway’s) in my life and while some came to fruition, others have ended up on my bucket list with their unattainable brethren.My first memorable Elway was around 1987 when I was 10 years old. Everybody I knew (or so it felt) had a Nintendo except me. My cousin, Coop, had one and I tried to spend every moment I could over at his house. We would stay up late playing Super Mario, Bayou Billy, Ninja Gaiden and Mega Man and I just couldn’t get enough. Corey and Jared had one and we would play RBI Baseball with my Uncle Speedy every time I went to their house. In early 1987, I was rocking Downland and Bedlam on a Tandy TRS-80. I wanted a Nintendo badly but it was elusive. By the time Christmas rolled around, I was almost out of hope. It felt like it was “now or never” for that NES quest.I remember celebrating with my Papa on Christmas Eve, which has always been a tradition. We would rotate the location from year to year but this year was held at our house. I remember Coop getting a Nintendo game from my Papa that year and it spurred a little conversation about the NES. That conversation turned to whether or not I thought Santa Claus was going to bring me one. In my mind, I felt like this was it and I proclaimed that tonight was the night! I remember my dad saying in a very serious tone, “I would not get too excited about getting a Nintendo this year.” I then remember tearing up as I took the box of used wrapping paper out to the roadside trash can. I stood at the trash can for an extra minute trying to wrap my head around what I had just been told. I was devastated, to put it mildly.

It turned out that my dad was just being coy with his ominous statement and I did get that sweet piece of technology the next morning. Somewhere, there is a VHS tape of me walking into the living room that early morning and screaming, “NIN”; unable to even get the full word out. My parents would always set up the camera to catch mine and my brother’s reaction when we walked into the living room. First off, we were half asleep and only awake because we knew there were presents. Second, the wardrobe choices weren’t always the best. We had tightie whities and a t-shirt sometimes; pajama pants and no t-shirt sometimes; and bed hair all of the time. But I could’ve been wearing a woman’s dress that morning and I would not have cared less. My life’s mission had become overtaken by dreams of being a Nintendo owner and my moment had arrived.

I remember that sense of relief when I saw the Nintendo that morning. It was almost like I was tired from running a marathon and I just crumpled by the box and let the emotion wash over me. I have had other moments since then that fit into the Elway category. I felt that way when I got my diploma on the night of my graduation from high school. I felt that way when I got a coveted promotion. I actually felt that way recently when my first interview was published on the Beckett website. There are few things that match the feeling of finally reaching a goal or obtaining something that you’ve wanted badly for a considerable amount of time.

I have an Elway that has eluded me in card collection for almost 30 years. I spoke about it a little in my “Bucket List” article from a few weeks ago. There are several items on my sports card bucket list but the quest for one of those actually began way back when my collecting began. There was one card that I coveted more than any other card when I started collecting in 1989. It wasn’t the ’86 Donruss Canseco or the ’82 Topps Ripken or even a ’68 Topps Ryan. No, the card I wanted in my collection was a 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. That card kept me awake at night sometimes and my desire to have it in my binder burned much like my desire to hold that Nintendo controller in my hand a few years earlier.

Upper Deck was brand new to collectors and was unlike any other card that had ever been produced. It had the fancy foil packaging, futuristic hologram, crystal clear photography and even holographic stickers that came in the packs. It also had Ken Griffey Jr. as Card #1 in the checklist. The other characteristic that Upper Deck had that was a backbreaker was the $1 price tag. In 1989, $.50 was the standard with jumbo cello pack’s ringing up at about $.69. So when this $1 per pack set hit the shelves, it was out of my price range. I know how strange it sounds for $.50 to throw something out of a price range right now but believe me, when I went to Wal-Mart or Piggly Wiggly, the odds that I was walking out with whatever the cheapest pack was at the time, were high. Let me tell you, I collected a TON of 1989 Donruss and Topps.

To be totally honest with you, I only remember opening 3 packs of 1989 Upper Deck in 1989. Those 3 packs were in North Georgia, on a choir trip with my youth group. We went into a town that had a small card shop and I bought 3 packs of Upper Deck and several packs of Donruss. I remember Ken Forrester picking up a few packs of Upper Deck too. I got a John Smoltz Rookie in my 3 packs and thought I did o.k. Then Ken pulled the Griffey and my cards were absolutely worthless. It’s strange how much I remember about that first Jr. I saw pulled from UD but how little I remember from the actual trip. I remember I had a girlfriend on the trip, I remember going on a white water adventure and I remember Ken Griffey Jr. I would’ve traded that girlfriend on the spot for that Griffey.

In 2017, some 28 years later, I have yet to pull a Ken Griffey Jr. from a pack of Upper Deck Baseball. It hasn’t been for a lack of trying either. I buy packs whenever I find them in a thrift store or a card shop. I’ve bought multiple boxes off of eBay. I’ve even had a case sitting in my cart on DA Cardworld but wasn’t able to click “buy”. To be clear, I actually own a few Griffey’s but they are in sets that I’ve bought. My wife got me one for Christmas about 6-7 years ago and it was actually the first one I ever owned. I could never force myself to buy a $100 card before autographs came along and I have a pretty hard time even doing it now. So without buying a single or buying the set, the only other way to get one was by pulling it in a pack.

In hindsight, I’ve spent more money on packs and boxes than if I had bought the single card; but somewhere along the way it became more about pulling the card from a pack than actually owning it. So that is where I am today. At the age of 40, neck deep in a hobby that owes a great deal of its popularity to the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr., I still hold on to the dream that I’ll one day pull one from a sealed pack. That’s why we are here today. I received a message on FaceBook from my LCS owner, Charlie Heinisch, that he had a case and was breaking it to sell by the box. I have grown leery of the boxes on eBay because they aren’t sealed and are usually picked through. But I trust Charlie 100 times more than eBay and this was fresh from a case, so I could not resist the opportunity to check something off of my bucket list.Before we crack this box, let’s do the usual overview of the set so we can set this break up properly. 1989 was the premier edition of this “premium” set and is credited with getting the ball rolling with card companies improving their product. It is also credited sometimes with the beginning of the end as far as 90’s production and oversaturation of products. The cards were produced very well and the photography was a step ahead of the other companies. The card had a normal white border but had the first base line down the right side of the card and the Upper Deck Diamond logo in the bottom left corner. The team logo was inset in the bottom right of the card and the players name was below.The back of the card had a full length photo that took up 2/3rd’s of the card back. The stats and a small amount of biographical info could be found to the right of the photo. The very bottom of the card had the famous UD Hologram Logo that authenticated the card. This was something that UD advertised as a way to know the cards weren’t counterfeit. The foil packaging was very different from the other wax packs that were available in 1989 as well. These packs were completely sealed and it was very easy to see if the packs had been tampered with. The set was truly groundbreaking in 1989 and the $1.00 per pack price tag made that clear.

Overall the cards that I opened in this break held up very well. Some of the issues that have shown up over time have been fading and the hologram logo chipping away. Fortunately, this box was in very good condition. This was clearly taken from a good case and I could tell the minute I saw it. Most of the cards were pretty well centered too, which was another issue in the 80’s. Overall, I don’t think I have opened a 1989 UD box that was in as good of condition as this one. That had me excited to get the rip going! Let’s see how I did!First, the packs didn’t include gum, puzzle pieces or bland stickers like the other sets. 1989 UD included Holographic Team Logo Stickers. Every text book, trapper keeper and card album I had ended up with some of these on them.This first group includes some of the better rookies or first year cards I pulled. I missed out on the Sheffield, which is one I really like but I did pull a sweet Smoltz and Jefferies. Most people who collected in 1989 surely remember the names Jerald Clark, Ricky Jordan and Dante Bichette too. The Jay Buhner was a very nice card back in 1989 and I was happy to pull it in this break.Then we have the sweet “Collector’s Choice” Team Checklist cards that had some artist renderings of the team leader. You should be aware of my thoughts on artist cards by now!The young guns in 1989 included some awesome names that bring back a lot of great memories. These were the guys that we had to have. I spent a lot of time trading for these players back in the day. Mattingly was borderline in the young gun category. He could have easily slid over into the veterans group but I didn’t think of him as an older player at that time. I love Eric Davis cards!The veterans had more great players in some pretty cool photos. The Wade Boggs was always cool to me. Mike Schmidt was in the midst of an interview with an obvious 1980’s microphone. I usually prefer my Rickey Henderson cards in Athletics gear but this one is just fine. Ozzie, Tim Raines and The Hawk were some of my favorites!

As I ripped pack #3 of the box, I had already started to focus on sorting so I didn’t get so worked up about whether I pulled a Jr. or not. And there, right in the middle of the pack, was this beauty! Would it be over dramatic if I told you that I was ALMOST moved to tears at the sight of this card? I have waited for this moment for almost 30 years and here it is. This is the first bucket list item I listed in my previous article and I am now checking it off! I called my daughter into the kitchen and explained to her how important the card was to me because she has heard me talk about Ken Griffey Jr. many times. My wife also knows how big this is because she is the one who bought me the sealed set several years ago at Christmas to help me realize the dream of actually owning one. Believe me when I say, this was a box rip for the ages!There is no way I can give this box less than a perfect score. The packs and cards were in great condition, the rip was super nostalgic and I pulled the card that has eluded me since I was 12 years old. And if you look at the photo, the centering is dang near perfect on this card. The hologram on the back is even completely intact. This is certainly going for grading and will end up in the fireproof. I am also going to earmark this article so I can relive this moment over and over. I saved all of the packs and the box from this rip and it is going into the rubber maid in my closet for safekeeping. This set gets an easy “5” on the Dub-O-Meter and this is truly a night I won’t soon forget when it comes to baseball cards!

J-Dub

Scoring Scale

1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.
2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

Retro Review – Forever Undefeated!

It’s been a really hectic few weeks for me. It’s all been a good kind of hectic but it has definitely kept me off of the blog lately. I have been able to jump on YouTube a couple of times for some breaks but haven’t been able to just sit down and enjoy some old junk wax. I started writing a weekly article with Bags Unlimited a few weeks ago and have one other surprise in the works that I can’t reveal for a few more days. This one coming is huge for me personally and I can’t wait to talk about it. Even now as I’m finally sitting down to take a trip down memory lane, my mind is partially off in the distance planning and thinking about my next project. While that’s good for me personally and is giving me a chance to reach more people, it has no doubt made the blog suffer recently. For that I apologize and hope today’s old school football set will help make some amends.

But before we get to the football cards, let’s talk about football itself. I miss playing football as a kid. I didn’t get a chance to play football in high school for several reasons. Maybe they are excuses more than reasons but it just wasn’t meant to be for me. I really enjoyed playing the sport and I think I know the sport and played just good enough to have been able to make some additional memories in high school. But I experienced a major head injury when I was a 3 year old and since that day, any hit I take beyond a normal tackle has resulted in splitting headaches. I was able to play when I was young but I almost always had a headache at the end of the game. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t very good for me but what did we know about head injuries in 1985?That’s not the only reason I didn’t play high school football. I was also a non-imposing, solid 5’9”, 165 lbs in high school. At my high school (Mitchell-Baker), that wasn’t going to translate into football player unless I ran about a 4.5/40 or better. That wasn’t happening either. My high school won the state title in 1989 and 1992 and was 52-3 during that span. We had a 6’8 QB that went on to play basketball at NC State. We had a pair of inside linebackers that were both 6’5, 250 and were brothers. Our running back was an absolute monster and we had two DB’s that would knock a player’s chinstrap off with their unbelievable hits. I just wasn’t blessed with the size, strength or speed to hang with that type of athlete. I tried, believe me, but our high school team was built like a junior college team.Let me give you a little perspective. In 1992, we were 14-0 when we met up with Washington County in the State Championship, who was 14-0 as well. That team called their home field “The House of Pain” and had a linebacker by the name of Takeo Spikes (Auburn), a running back named Robert Edwards (Georgia) and his brother Terrance (Georgia) who played wide receiver. All three of these players dominated in the SEC and made appearances in the NFL. Mitchell-Baker beat that Washington County team 27-10 and the game was never really close. We had 6 AJC All-State players on that team with 4 of those being 1st teamers. As much as I was the Barry Sanders of my front yard on Saturday’s with my friends; those friends weren’t 6’4, 280 pound linemen chasing me either.I had one moment in high school that made me think I could have fit in but it was short lived. It was a major moment for me though. I was in a P.E. class and we were playing flag football on the practice field. Most of the students in the class were average dudes like me, but for the importance of this story, our starting QB and one of our DB’s was also in my class. Our P.E. teacher was one of the coaches and the head coach was there watching. During the game, I ran about a 12 yard inside slant and caught a touchdown from the starting QB and I was being covered (loosely) by the starting DB. So technically, in my high school career, I caught a TD pass from our QB who lost 2 games ever as a starter. So I guess I knew how to play but I would have never been able to sustain that over a full game or especially a full season.Now that I’ve covered how good my high school team was, I will tell you about the undefeated team that I did play on. This team was made up of 2 players; me and my cousin Dusty. In 1990, we started a tradition of playing football at my Granddaddy’s house on Christmas night that lasted 4 consecutive years. Our opponent was Dusty’s brothers, Corey and Jared, who were my age. Dusty was 2 years older than us but he was also the smallest of all 4, so the teams were matched up pretty evenly. For those years, the meal and gifts took an absolute backseat to that football game. We would only get socks and fruiters from the grandparents anyway.The field was about 20 yards long and the same width or shorter. There was a slightly raised concrete driveway that represented one end zone. At the other end of the field was a dirt driveway that was in total darkness. Both end zones presented major hazards for us as kids. The sidelines were boxwood bushes that we would plow into on one side of the field and the other boundary was protected by a dogwood tree and a big saw grass (pampas) bush. If those obstacles weren’t enough, there was also a water meter and surface rock in the field of play. The ground was usually hard from the cold and there were pitfalls all around us but we weren’t fazed. I guess I should also mention that there was a lone flood light on one corner of the house that lit the field, very poorly.Dusty and I won that first matchup and to be honest it was a bit of a surprise. Jared actually played on his high school team and Corey was a short rock of a running back that was a nightmare to tackle. Turnovers and field obstacles all met in the perfect storm to lead us to victory that night. In ’91, we would win again and we started bragging during the middle of the year. In ’92, Corey and Jared started practicing plays in the front yard on Thanksgiving and Dusty saw them, which gave us even more ammunition to pick at them about. We won again, even though Corey and Jared wore matching bandanas like Rico Suave. By ’94, I had grown a little bigger (beefier) than the others and was becoming harder to bring down. We won in ’94 rather handily and the series fell apart after that.We still gather for Christmas and even today, we talk about striking up what we call “The 5th Annual”. We are all too old and would probably break something if we played but I look back on those days so fondly. We spent a lot of time playing football together, whether in the yard or on Nintendo. We also all collected cards as well and 1990 was a pretty solid year for Topps Football. We strived to collect all the players that we used on Super Tecmo and we would emulate them in the yard. So when my buddy Shane Salmonson found this box of ’90 Topps at his LCS for $4 and offered to pick it up for me, I didn’t hesitate on having him snag it.In classic Topps fashion, ’90 Football came with 36 packs per box and a stick of bubble gum that has now become a white powdery unknown substance. The packs were a whopping .50 cents per pack and there were 15 cards per. The insert in the set was the “Special 1,000 Yard Club” glossy card. The wax packs were some of my favorites as they had the generic QB with bright and bold colors about to make a pass. This pack just SCREAMS 1990. The design was decent with a white border and green striped box in the top left of the card. The player name was at the bottom with the team name and position and the Topps logo was in the bottom left corner with a football inset. The back of the card was a varying pinkish red color with black type for the stats and player info. They were nothing special but they are very nostalgic.My main guys in 1990 were Bo, Christian Okoye, Randall Cunningham, Barry Sanders and David Fulcher based on my Tecmo teams. But I liked a wide range of players back then. That was the NFL of my youth and I recall a laundry list of players that were “favorites”. Let’s see what this 27 year old box held.

Leaders
These were the leagues best from 1989. Barry Sanders led the league as a rookie with 1,480 rushing yards. Okoye finished a close second with 1,470.

All-Pro’s
There were some big names found in the All-Pro group, which is not a big surprise. Jerry Rice, Sanders, Reggie White, Okoye, Joe Montana and LT led the way with this group. I also pulled my David Fulcher card here.

Draft Picks
The big get in 1990 was this Jeff George rookie. The Falcons traded George (or the pick) to the Indianapolis Colts for Andre Rison. That worked out for the Falcons a lot more than the Colts. The long term big get in this group was obviously a very young looking Junior Seau.

Super Rookies
The big names here are obviously Deion Sanders and Troy Aikman, but Dave Meggett and Steve Atwater made pretty good names for themselves at the pro level. Rodney Peete didn’t exactly pan out but wasn’t terrible either.

Record Breakers
Aikman and Montana were the headliners in this group. Flipper Anderson made an appearance in the Record Breaker set and 1,000 Yard Club. He was a very underrated receiver in the late 80’s. And of course, Kevin Butler is a Damn Good Dawg from UGA!

Offensive Studs
I pulled my other favorites here with Cunningham and Bo. I also added Ickey Woods and Thurman Thomas who made noise on Super Tecmo. I was always a fan of Warren Moon and would like to add an auto to the PC one day.

Defensive Studs
These were THE GUYS back in the late 80’s. They were sack masters and ball hawks for their teams and Dent is was a huge part of the ’85 Bears Championship. I was always partial to Joey Browner because of his great first name but he was a very good NFL player.

1,000 Yard Club
This is really a who’s who of offensive studs in the NFL in 1989. It’s easy to forget John Taylor and Roger Craig when you have Jerry Rice but this insert set highlights just how prolific the 49’ers were back in the day. They had 3 representatives who reached 1,000 yards.

Box Bottom
In late 80’s and early 90’s Topps fashion, they had 4 cards on the box bottom. These were the players of the week for Weeks 5-8. I remember how good Jerome Brown was when he was lined up on the opposite end of the line from Reggie White. Brown lost his life, along with his 12 year old nephew, in a car crash in 1992 at the age of 27. In additional bad news, his son Dunell was sentenced to 25 years in prison for second degree murder in 2012. He was also 27.

Oh and I didn’t forget about my buddy Scott Berger!

This was a pretty sweet trip back to the NFL that raised me. I would have loved to have played fantasy football back then too! I will forever be a fan of this NFL era and there are so many true stars that we will never see again like these found here. As for the set, there really isn’t anything fancy about the design and the box includes a ton of kickers and offensive linemen that water it down. But the Super Rookie’s of Deion and Aikman were very sweet and a Junior Seau Draft Pick card is always nice to add. If I ever started one of those autographed set quests, this would be on my short list. Overall, I would give the set a “4”. The price is nice and the stars are abundant. The design was a little behind Action Packed, Pro Set and Upper Deck by 1990 but I like that they stuck with the wax pack a little longer than the others. And a price of $4 is just icing on the cake!

What say you about 1990 Topps Football?

J-Dub

What’s The Deal With Shipping?

Let me start by saying that I am no authority on this subject. I am just a concerned citizen who has shipped and received many cards over the last few years. I have seen a troubling trend over the last few months on eBay that we have to talk about. I don’t like being the preachy kind when it comes to collecting and the hobby in general. But trading, buying and selling are a major part of the hobby and shipping is crucial to those aspects. Sure, I’ve made my share of mistakes over the years but I have found a general balance when it comes to shipping; whether a sale, a giveaway or just a surprise mail day. I hope that you will take a constructive view of my thoughts and share yours if you think they are more efficient.

Some of you may be asking, “Is it really necessary to have this conversation in this day and age?” To those that think shipping just comes naturally and isn’t as hard as it sounds, I am going to share four shipping disasters that have been discussed just in the last 7 days on Twitter. I see shipping nightmares all the time but I received my own last week and couldn’t believe my eyes. After making mine available for thoughts, I had others come forward with horror stories as well. So it does seem as if this conversation is necessary at this point. Is it a fun conversation to have? Probably not if you are one of the offenders of the shipping code. Some of you guys are old pros at shipping so this is more for your concurrence or further advice than instruction. But, I legitimately receive messages on a routine basis asking for advice on shipping certain things so for some of you, this may be educational. In any event, I will try to make it entertaining.

Case #1
I purchased a card on eBay last week. The card wasn’t overly expensive but it was an autographed card #’d to 29 and one I was very happy to make a part of my PC. Shipping on this purchase was free so I didn’t expect an elaborate bubble mailer with insurance and tracking. But I did expect at least an envelope. What I got instead was the packing slip wrapped around the card (in a case) and taped around the edges. My envelope was a piece of printer paper and was shipped from California to Georgia. The card made it safely but I was floored by the effort, or lack thereof.

Case #2
One of my Twitter buds, @hoot_cards, shared an experience in which he received an eBay purchase with the shipping label taped around a piece of cardboard; very poorly, I might add. The shipping cost less than the amount of tape that was used in this instance and I still can’t figure out what the seller had in mind as he “packaged” this up. Just look at the picture and try to figure it out for yourself.

Case #3
Twitter bud @bobbyblanco1 has a similar story to mine. The difference is that he bought an Andrew Benintendi Contenders Autograph #’d to 15. This was a bit more expensive than the one I just bought. His was also shipped in a “paper” envelope but he didn’t get fancy printer paper like I did. He got the old high school ruled paper with blue lines. Yes, an Andrew Benintendi #’d to 15 autograph was shipped in a piece of notebook paper! You can’t make this stuff up!

Case #4
Another Twitter bud, @YabeSportsCards shared a photo of a shipment that his friend @cardfanatic620 received. The envelope wasn’t the issue this time but the way the cards were prepared for shipment is something I see more and more these days. The card he purchased was in a toploader but that was sandwiched between two unprotected cards (Matt Ryan and Greg Olsen) which were taped over the toploader. Granted, the seller at least used painters tape but he taped 2 star players to the toploader to protect the main card.

I have given you four real world examples of shipping practices that are being used in our hobby today. All of these cases are recent and from credible sources. I wish they weren’t true but I have seen enough issues in the last few years to know that they are all too real. My goal with this post is to break down the different ways you can ship a card. There are cheap and expensive ways to ship, depending on the type of transaction you are completing but they are all safe for the card and your shipment receiver should be pleased. This does not take into account any issues with the shipment itself; like being lost or tampered with en route. I have had a few of those instances as well and there is nothing that could have been done to avoid them. They were the result of dishonesty and shenanigans.

First, let’s talk about the shipping methods I find appropriate for each transaction. This can differ from person to person but this is what works for me. Value involved is always a factor too. I generally don’t send a card over $50 in anything short of a bubble mailer. Likewise, I usually don’t ever ship a 1-3 base PC cards above PWE (Plain White Envelope) unless requested or I charge for the shipping.

Giveaways – If I am giving away cards that are less than 6-7 in quantity, I am using the PWE method. I expect no more than that if I am receiving something similar.

Trades – Depending on the transaction, I usually try to square away with the trade partner the shipping method we will use. If it is a preemptive trade and I received a bubble mailer, I am sending back in a bubble. If I get a PWE, I am sending back in a PWE. Usually trades don’t include shipping costs but you don’t want to be the one that skimps. I have had it happen on my end when we didn’t discuss it and I was embarrassed.

Surprise Mail Days – These will depend on the items being sent. Again, a couple of cards will go in a PWE but if I am shipping multiple autographs or relics, I am going with a bubble mailer.

Sales – If I am charging shipping, my buyer is getting the standard First Class Paypal shipping with tracking and a bubble mailer. If you charge for shipping, make sure you are actually paying to ship something. Be upfront about what something costs and let the shipping in fact cover shipping.

Now that we have covered some of the basic reasons you are shipping to begin with, let’s cover the “Tools of the Trade”. These are generally all you will ever need to ship cards and 8×10’s. If you are shipping helmets or a jersey, you need to find the appropriate tools for those trades.

Security Envelopes (4 ½ x 9 ½) – These are perfect for PWE mailings and cost about $3.50 for 125 at Wal-Mart.

Stamps – For PWE, you are generally going to need a .49 cent stamp and a .21 cent stamp because the envelopes are not “machinable” with a toploader inside. Two regular stamps are fine but you can save a little by purchasing a book of the “additional ounce” stamps.

Bubble Mailer (4 x 7) – These are perfect for a stack of toploaded cards or a graded card. You can pick these up for $4 for a pack of 10 at Wally World.

Bubble Mailer (6 x 9) – I use these when I send out multiple packs or a larger quantity of cards. These are about the same price as the 4 x 7.

Bubble Mailer (8 ½ x 11) – These are perfect for 8×10’s or magazines that are being sent. These run about $1.50 for 2.

Toploaders – The size will depend on what type of card you are using but always use a toploader when you are shipping cards. Even if you only use one with multiple cards, make sure you have something sturdy with the cards. These are about $2.95 for 25 at my LCS.

Team Bags – The team bag totally eliminates the need for scotch tape. Using scotch tape on a toploader is akin to taking up 2 parking spaces or putting ketchup on a fancy steak (I’m talking to you @TheSportsJim). You just don’t do any of these things! Ever! You can get 100 of these for about $3.25.

Card Sleeves – As crucial as the toploader, a card sleeve is an added layer of protection for the surface of the card. These are practically free at my LCS as I can get 100 for .95 cents.

Dummy Cards – These are actually free if you collect Panini cards because they come in every other pack. I use these for protection on the outside of a toploader instead of Matt Ryan and Greg Olsen.

Cardboard – Any type of cardboard will do. I use shipping flaps, box sides, etc. Cardboard is very useful when shipping 8 x 10’s and magazines. They can also help some cards from sliding during shipment if necessary.

Scotch Shipping Tape – This is ONLY for the use of taping shipping labels to the bubble mailer or sealing them. This is NEVER used inside the envelope or on the toploader.

Painters Tape – This is the only tape that should be used on toploaders or to hold two dummy cards together. For the love of the hobby, please!

Printer Paper – Not only do I use printer paper for my shipping labels. I also use printer paper to wrap my cards that go in a PWE as I will outline later.

Scissors – You can’t really accomplish the task of shipping without scissors at some point. I know that may seem like a no brainer item but I am trying to list everything practical that you will need.

I think that covers the “Tools of the Trade” but if I missed something, feel free to comment below. Next up, we’ll get down to the brass tacks of shipping. I’ll cover each method I use in card shipping and have attached a short video for each, showing each step. Again, this is probably too far in the weeds for you savvy veterans but I am trying to help the new guys or the guys that just don’t know they’ve been doing it wrong this whole time. Key word here is “help”. I am not here to berate or make fun of anyone for how they ship. I don’t do it right all the time but I don’t have very many shipping complaints either.

PWE – This is a pretty simple process. I load my cards in card sleeves, put at least one card in a toploader and then load them all in a team bag. The team bag gets taped to a piece of printer paper (with painters tape) and then the paper gets tri-folded around the card. It gets loaded in the PWE and it’s ready to be shipped. I tape it to the printer paper to keep it from sliding during shipping. I also write “Please Do Not Bend” in the bottom left corner of the envelope. Watch me load a PWE shipment here!

Bubble Mailer (4 x 7) – When shipping an autographed card or more expensive cards, I use this method. This is even simpler than the PWE method but I see it messed up quite often. Again, always put the card in a sleeve and toploader unless you have the card in a One Touch. If you use a team bag, there is really no need for tape. If a One Touch, you can load those into two team bags coming from both ends of the magnetic case and use painters tape to secure. The card doesn’t have much room to slide in a 4 x 7 and if it’s packaged right, I don’t worry about that part of it. I always seal the bubble mailer with the shipping tape for an added seal. You can also slide a dummy card in the team bag if you want an added layer of protection in keeping the card from flexing. Graded cards usually get shipped inside the bags they come in from Beckett or PSA.  Watch me load a bubble mailer shipment here!

Bubble Mailer (8 ½ x 11) – When shipping a magazine or 8×10, I try my best to find a toploader for them. You have to ship an autographed item in a toploader and those can be found online or at your LCS. I use the added protection of cardboard on either side of the toploader to keep these items from flexing. They generally fit right into this bubble mailer with no room for movement once the cardboard is added. I tape each side of the cardboard with the painters tape to keep the item inside the cardboard protection throughout the shipping process. Again, I tape my bubble mailer closed with the shipping tape for good measure. Watch me load an 8×10 here!

Miscellaneous

  • I use insurance for any cards over $100. This amount may differ from person to person. If a buyer requests it, I will use it for any value.
  • When shipping packs, I use an appropriate sized bubble mailer and try to secure the packs with additional cardboard to avoid using any sort of tape for those that like to keep the packs once they have been ripped.
  • Communication is the key to any transaction. Make sure you are up front about how you are shipping and make sure you accommodate buyers whenever possible.
  • The 300, 400, 500, etc count boxes found at your LCS are best for shipping larger quantities of cards. You can use packing peanuts, bubble wrap or shredded paper for filler. Tape the boxes at all openings and you can put a shipping label right on the box.
  • I’m begging you, DO NOT TAPE A TOPLOADER WITH SCOTCH TAPE!
  • Lastly, if you mess up, own it and make it right. You can refund the buyer a small amount for the shipping malfunction or you can offer a full refund with the return of the item. Again, communication is the key!

Hopefully, this has been of some assistance to those of you that are new to the hobby or who have struggled with shipping. The key to trading and selling is to provide the recipient with the item in the same condition as when it left your hands whenever possible. As mentioned above, you can’t control incidents that happen during the shipping process but if you package your items correctly, they will be able to survive the normal glitches that can be expected from time to time. I have found that I am much more willing to continue trading and buying from those that ship correctly. It doesn’t matter how cheap the shipping is or how nice the item is, if I don’t have faith in the shipping, I am not going for the item. Please feel free to comment below on some methods you have found that works for you or let me know if I hit on something you hadn’t thought about.

J-Dub

Guest Writer – Frank King – A New Level

Fellow Twitter Collector, Frank King, submitted the following to me for publishing on the Dub Mentality Blog.  Give Frank a follow on Twitter (link at the end) and let him know your thoughts on the article.  Thanks ~~ Dub

The year of 1991 was a precarious time. That was the year the Cold War ended with the dissolution of the USSR. It was also the greatest year in cinematic history as both Terminator 2 and Point Break premiered. For me, this was the year when I moved from 8th to 9th grade, the differentiation between Jr. High and High School in my small town Texas ISD. In 8th Grade, you couldn’t have a care in the world. At age 14, I couldn’t drive unaccompanied yet but I really had nowhere to go. That summer I had my first job but it was nothing serious, just teaching rifle and shotgun classes to kids younger than myself. Life was pretty awesome, for about the first 8 months of that year. 

August and everything after was kind of a beating. August meant starting my freshman year, which in Texas, meant Football. And freshman football at my High School meant getting your brain kicked in twice a day by someone who outweighed you by 80 pounds. Our high school was too tiny to have a huge varsity squad. If the varsity squad didn’t brutalize the freshmen and sophomores as tackling dummies in practice, who then would they brutalize? As an 8th grade athlete, nothing mattered: it was all for fun. The differences are huge moving up just one level.

1991 was also my golden year of collecting cards. The 1990 Upper Deck pack I had bought at a 7-11, which I had pulled a sprinting Bo Jackson from, had hooked me. Cards were in every store in 1991 and I sampled every set I could find. One set I was aware of but couldn’t find was the Line Drive Minor League set. I was only aware of this set because a card dealer at a tiny card show in a local town hall had sold me a signed Keith Miller, Buffalo Bisons Line Drive card for $1. I remember thinking, “Cool, didn’t even know anyone made Minor League cards”. Then I moved on buying Upper Deck, Topps, way too much Fleer and Score; never giving a second thought to the minor league sets. Twenty five years later, I traded @collectiblesall for 3 boxes of unopened Line Drive AAA and AA.The cards come wrapped like only one other set I have ever seen, the 1992 Legends of Indy set. They aren’t in wax packs or cello or sealed foil like the Upper Deck sets of that era. For the lack of a better term, they are wrapped in little trash bag wrappers. Those wrappers stretch and pull and and fight you as you try to rip the cards from their grasp. The term “rip” doesn’t even apply.The cards are clean with minimal graphics over a better than expected quality photo. The placement of the photo on the card initially hits me as a miscut, but it’s not. There’s a little too much white at the top. Truth be told, I dig white card stock; Always have. Maybe that’s another call back to that first 1990 UD pack. And white card stock is great for autographs, which I am all about.The checklist is huge considering what you are getting; the roster and coaches of all 26 AAA affiliates at the time. Line drive grouped the teams within the checklist. For example, all the Tulsa Drillers are consecutively numbered. Honestly, I wish EVERY set did this. I know Topps is doing bits within their checklists but I’m over that.On to the hits! And I use that term as loosely as possible.There are no inserts in this set. No sparkle. No chrome. Just pure, uncut base. There are rookies on their way up in the AAA set.There are guys you knew, guys you’d heard of and guys you may never hear of until 25 years later. This Jeff Bannister card is what made the AAA box a win for me. For anybody who does not know the story of Banister, he’s a man worth knowing. He almost lost his leg to cancer in high school. After being told he’d never walk again, much less play again, he fought his way to a september call up with the 1991 Pirates. Yes, those Bucs. He got one infield hit and that was it for him in the Majors. Three years later, he was managing a low A team of his own. Twenty years after that, he’s the manager of my Texas Rangers. In 2 years, he’s won 2 AL West division titles and AL manager of the year. When I pulled this card I gasped audibly because there is only one Banister Topps issue and that’s in the 91 Traded set. I can’t find any of that set and if I did, hell if I’m splitting it up. I really cannot do Banister’s backstory justice so here’s a link to a 2014 Article on him by the Great Jamey Newberg.There are also guys on their way out. I never knew Cecil Espy played after he left the Rangers. And getting quite a few more of the OKC 89’ers wasn’t too shabby.

The thing I also see in these cards is a place and time in baseball. The ill fitting uniforms, almost as if they were wearing a hand me down uni just like I was in 1991. Younger versions of the stars we knew. But I also see guys who were about to take a step up that were unprepared. The point about guys you’ve never heard of is that if you get these boxes, you are going to end up with 90% or more of the cards being players that peaked at AAA. This is why baseball is the most difficult sport. Not the ‘toughest’, but the most difficult. There are 4 levels of minor league ball and only the top 5% of any of the players in those leagues are going to ascend to the next level. And still, all of them are 1000 times better than most of us ever were at playing the game. Opening their packs 25 years later gives them a bit of the respect they are due.

Frank King – @TLFrankKing

Retro Review: End of Summer Blues

Summer time is winding down, although you wouldn’t know it by the temperature here in South Georgia. The summer season runs from about March to October for us with the only real winter being January and February if we are lucky. But the “vibe” that is summer is certainly coming to a close. The kids are going back to school, the Friday Night Lights are turning on and soon, the Saturday afternoon tailgate and Sunday fantasy football frenzy will be an ever present part of my schedule. At my age now, I live for the football months ahead but as a kid, the excitement of football didn’t offset my sheer hatred for returning to the routine of the school year.

Photo Credit – Shaun Hall

Returning to school meant the end of a lot of fun activities. The Legion Pool, which I wrote about HERE, closed and my chances for picking up chicks in bathing suits dropped from about 8% to 0% just like that. The Legion provided a summer long list of fun events for us as kids. There was an awesome volleyball court where I learned how to play smash face. There were the two arcade games in the concession stand that taught me how electricity and water didn’t mix. As kids played the video games, there bathing suits would drip and form a huge puddle. The next person that stepped up would always get a little jolt when they put their quarter in. I specifically remember the games “1941” and “Centipede” but I think they rotated out from time to time.
Photo Credit – Shaun Hall

If volleyball wasn’t your game, you could slide over to the ping pong table and challenge some of the best in the city! I never lasted too long on the table back in those days. As for the pool itself, it was HUGE and was 12 feet deep in some places. It was spring fed with by a big pipe that was in the shallow end of the pool. You could climb on the pipe and make water shoot out at people until the lifeguard saw you. Once they saw you, they had their eye on you the rest of the day. There was an awesome spring board where I saw some of the most death defying jumps I’ve ever seen in my life. The high dive was a sweet 10 foot board that was right next to the spring board and you and your buddies could choreograph some nice combos from the two boards. There was a basic diving board and slide that never got any action.

Photo Credit – Shaun Hall

The main attraction at the Legion, besides the lifeguards and chicks in bathing suits, was the Super Slide! I really can’t tell you how tall the slide was because I don’t know but it had to be at least four of the high dives stacked on top of each other. At 13 years old, we would climb this ladder that went essentially straight up into the air and step up on to a 5 x 5 mesh metal platform to experience this crazy, dangerous thrill ride. We would normally gather up on the platform and hang out a few minutes while taking in all of the scenery around us. You could see all around the legion pool and into the neighborhoods from that height. I still don’t know how there was never a tragedy on that thing. It would NEVER pass the safety tests using 2017 standards. We would eventually go down the slide and the goal would turn into who could slide the farthest across the pool. Just under halfway was my best but some others could stretch it out to almost 3/4 the width of the pool.Besides the legion, the end of summer also meant that city league baseball was coming to a close. In 1989-90, we didn’t play year round sports like kids today. If you were good, you might be lucky enough to make an all-star team that played a one game finale against a neighboring county. But until I started playing high school baseball, we didn’t travel more than about 10 miles to play a baseball game. I made a lot of memories with my friends at the Centennial Park back then. I was usually on a team with Jason Lee, Corey and Jared (my cousins), David Shook and BJ Harris. My Uncle Speedy was usually our coach and we were as thick as thieves as a team. We truly were more of a family than a baseball team and we stood by each other more than people stand by each other in today’s world. We went to DQ together for the batting helmet sundae, spent the night at Corey and Jared’s, played baseball on Sunday’s with all of the equipment because Unc had it in his possession, played Tecmo Tourney’s and traded sports cards.

Jason was well known for the long bombs that he would hit into the O’San parking lot beyond the outfield fence. He would hit trucks and trailers and it was always a sight to see. He also had one of the hardest fastballs of all the kids our age. I was very fortunate he was on our team. The only time I ever had to hit against him was in practice in little league and high school. I was lucky for that. Jared was our catcher and was fearless. He had to be to catch Jason. He also found the O’San parking lot from time to time. Corey played 3rd Base and was great at everything except the occasional throw across the diamond. We nicknamed him Moon Ball because he had a habit of rifling the ball over our first baseman’s head and onto the next field. Our first baseman, David, was 6’7 so that was pretty hard to do. I played short and 2nd and was really a defensive cog on the team. My offense did not produce insurance claims at O’San like some of the other guys but if you hit the ball at me, chances were you were going to be out. BJ was an outfielder and was one of the fastest guys on the team.When we weren’t at the official field, we were playing ball somewhere. It gets discussed a lot but we truly lived in a time where you just didn’t stay inside if the sun was up. We played a ton of video games but they were at night and mostly during sleepovers. If it wasn’t raining, we were playing football, baseball or basketball in the yard. I would leave my house in the morning and my parents wouldn’t look for me until around 7:00. I would come back on my own and fire up a frozen pizza or hot pocket but was back on the road again. I had 5 close friends within walking distance of my house and we used each of their houses for various sports. I remember a time when Todd Hall had one of the best dunk goal courts in the neighborhood behind his house and Brewer and I would dominate everyone that challenged us.My front yard was best for baseball because it was wide open with only one dogwood tree that we would use for 3rd base. We would play with wooden bats and tennis balls using all the classic baseball rules except you could peg the runner with the tennis ball. It was usually 2 on 2 so pitching was a tremendous factor in the game. Everything from centerfield and to the left was wide open and you could run for days if you hit in a gap. Right field was a neighbor’s house and they had one of the meanest dogs I’ve ever seen. I’m pretty sure his name was Rusty but he would attack on sight if he was ever outside of his fence. Everybody was right handed but I did hit left handed as well and would occasionally let one fly into the neighbor’s yard. We left those balls for Rusty. My favorite Rusty memory was when Brewer was going to his house from the bus and he jumped up to grab a pine limb. When he was in the air on that pine limb, Rusty came out of nowhere and was all over him. He wasn’t a big dog but damn, he was vicious!We had an annual beach trip every summer too that was usually Brewer and I with occasional extra friends. Those trips are some of the fondest memories I have from high school. I had a ’92 Red Ford Ranger that was totally pimped out with fat tires, two Fosgate 10’s and an interior black light! We rode the strip at Panama City like bosses playing Das Efx and honking at chicks. One of the funniest things was Brewer yelling out funny stuff at the people walking the strip. He would ask if people were tired of walking and would then say, “Start running!” This was in bumper to bumper traffic in which we were usually being passed by the walking pedestrians. It made no sense but was hilarious at the same time. It was really amazing he never said that to the wrong person too.Panama City Beach was one of the greatest places on Earth in the late 80’s and early 90’s. We still go there as a family and its family fun but back then, it was teens gone wild! I’m glad it has changed now because I couldn’t take it as an adult but I’m so happy I have those memories. There were Haunted Houses, Go-Carts and The Miracle Strip. The Miracle Strip is the one piece of old Panama City that I miss dearly. It was a small theme park where all of us kids gathered at night. There was an awesome old rickety wooden coaster, a log ride, a haunted house and The Abominable Snowman. I would love to take Bailey there today but in the 1990’s timeframe. The Abominable Snowman was an awesome indoor ride that played all of the hottest music of the time. I remember completely jamming to “Found Out About You” by Gin Blossoms on that classic ride!There was one feeling that I always remember though. It came in various situations and it was very depressing. I felt it on the Sunday we headed back from the beach and those last few days before school started back. I even felt it during the school year on Sunday Nights around 9 pm. I would almost get physically ill thinking about forcing myself to get up to go back to school. I completely hated school but would give anything to go back and experience it all over again now. Life is tricky like that. Any time you think you are miserable going through boring parts of life, you are probably making a ton of memories that you will look back fondly on years down the road. If you had told me at the age of 15 that I would miss high school one day, I probably would’ve laughed at you for days. In a cruel twist of fate, that is what I miss as I grow older. I miss the friends; I miss the fun from the ball field and the backyard basketball.I had so much more energy back then. I was so much more outgoing and daring. The world was new and I had not grown cynical yet. I didn’t worry about the next bill that was due, I didn’t worry about where my next meal was coming from and I didn’t worry about whether I had taken good enough care of myself over the years. Life was 100 miles an hour and I loved it because there were no worries to slow it down. It is a classic cliché but I thought I was invincible back then. I know that I’m not now and I understand the world around me at least a “little bit” better. And here we are wrapping up another summer and I’m one more year removed from the “Action Packed” days of my childhood. How’s that for a segue?In 1990, the Hi-Pro Marketing Company released a new type of football card onto the market that had a 3-D look. These cards were called Action Packed and were labeled as “Hi-Profile, Sculptured Cards” with “Action-Specific Notes”. The premier set was 281 cards with some Braille cards included. The card was very well received by my friends and I and we collected 1990 and 1991 heavily. The novelty wore off with us a bit after those years when we were trying to track down more valuable cards but I really loved these when they came out. It was truly next generation and I couldn’t get enough of them. To be honest, I haven’t put a ton of thought into these cards over the years but as I was surfing eBay a few weeks ago, I saw them and had to get me a box. I had a discussion with someone on Twitter about them not long after and I knew that these would resonate with some people.I had never purchased a full box of these and it arrived in one of the plainest boxes of sports cards I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t say Action Packed anywhere on the exterior and you only know what it is when you open it. The packs make up for the bland look of the box with the gold foil wrapper. The box doesn’t even tell you how many packs are included. The packs at least tell you that there are 6 cards inside. After a count of the packs, there are 36 in the box so there is a lot of ripping to do. The back of the packs offered a 1-900 Hotline number to call and get current up-to-date information on Football Cards, Baseball Cards and Hobby Investments; $1.00 for the first minute and .50 for each additional. To rope you in, they said that it was updated 3 times a week so “Call Often!” That is a rip-off I am glad I never fell victim too, although I would like to know what info you got.The fronts of the cards had a gold border with black trim and writing. Along with the photo, the fronts only featured the player name at the top and the team name at the bottom. The backs featured a nice inset photo in the top left with full career stats. There was an action note as advertised on the box and one example of such a note comes from the featured card here; “Steve hands off to RB John Stephens during the Patriots 33-24 victory over the Bills, 11/19/89. His 355 yards passing yds at Indianapolis on 10/29/89 made him the 26th passer in NFL history to reach the 25,000 passing yds mark.” There is also a “break” in the card backs near the bottom and upon closer inspection you can see that they are actually a tri-fold card and this break is where it is secured.

It’s time to see who’s lurking in this 27 year old box of Action Packed!!

The Quarterbacks
There were some good names here but I missed on a couple of the biggest names for me during this era. While Marino, Moon and Aikman are always welcome pulls; missing Randall Cunningham, Jim Kelly and Joe Montana was a bummer. After a closer look at the checklist, Randall Cunningham wasn’t even in the set. I guess he hadn’t gotten his “QB Eagles” issue straightened out just yet.

The Running Backs
Again, a solid list that includes Herschel Walker, Marcus Allen, James Brooks and Thunder and Lightning from New York but some key names were missing. I found no Thurman Thomas, no Ickey Woods, No Okoye, no Bo Jackson and no Roger Craig. A bit disappointing to say the least! Emmitt Smith can be found in the rookie update set so I didn’t expect him to be here.

The Wide Receivers
This group was well represented, though I can point out a couple of obvious omissions. I pulled Jerry Rice, which was the first Action Packed card I ever owned. I also pulled Sterling Sharpe, Tim Brown and Cris Carter. The only two I really missed on were Andre Reed and Michael Irvin.

Defense
I pulled a star studded defense that included Bruce Smith, LT, Mike Singletary, Ronnie Lott and Rod Woodson. There were a few names I would love to see from the box like Deion Sanders, Derrick Thomas and Reggie White but overall, the defensive players were there.There were 216 cards in this box with a set of 281. I pulled way too many dupes in my opinion for that card to set ratio. My dupe stack is about ¾ the size of the base stack I have. I did hold out four packs as a giveaway so there may be some great stars in there but overall, this was one of the worst collated boxes I have opened in the last few years. The cards were in good condition and the names in the set were fun to pull and think back on. There is no question that this is a great nostalgic box to rip but the price of $24 is a little on the high side for me based on the overall results. I can only give this box a 3 on the Dub-O-Meter, and that is driven mostly on nostalgia. The cards were cool and I did pull some stars but I am left wanting a little more at the end of this box. Or, maybe I’m just being negative and ornery because summer is coming to an end.

J-Dub

Scoring Scale

1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.
2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

Retro Review – A Fashionably Great Set!

I have never claimed to be any sort of fashionista. Let’s go ahead and get that out of the way. This has become an even more accurate statement since I hit the age of 40. I choose comfort over style every time my wife lets me. That doesn’t mean that I always look like I’m thrown away but I am a shorts and t-shirt guy 90% of the time. I do try to match when I can but my days of having to have something that is “hot” or a current fad are behind me. I am who I am at this point and you can take me or leave me. “The clothes don’t make the man” has become a quote I hold near and dear at this point in my life.This doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a time when I wanted to be with the “in crowd”. I remember having to have the right design on my Trapper Keeper and having to have fancy batting gloves that made me stand out. Yeah, in the late 80’s and early 90’s, your humble blogger was just like all the other teens wanting to be seen as popular. If you are 30, you probably saw the tail end of the fads I am talking about. If you are younger than that, you probably didn’t get to experience these except in the ironic or hipster sense. By that, I mean the way that old fads come back around and are seen as a novelty or gimmick. People my age lived these fads and they were a part of our life and culture. Let’s go through a few of them.

Fanny Packs
These were also called Belly Bags by some folks. These were actually fairly functional as a clothing item for a kid because you could put some of your toys or collectibles in them instead of your pockets. I remember carrying Nintendo games in mine because we would trade at school. These came in all shapes and sizes and could be extremely generic or could have some cool design from Bugle Boy. There were Ninja Turtles, Alf, Sports Teams and even music groups like the one in the photo. There was also a style that came with wearing them. You could wear them on your hip or on your back or slung across your shoulder if you didn’t want to wear it like the old folks did. I still occasionally see these in my travels and my wife even got one for our last trip to Disney World; again, for the functionality. The fanny pack gets a bad rap in today’s society in my opinion.

JAMS
The only thing that could come in a wilder design than your fanny pack was the classic JAMS Shorts we all had in the late 80’s. These were the shorts that all kids had, whether they wanted them or not. They came in the wildest designs you can imagine. When you have the time, just google JAMS Shorts and see just how nutty we were as kids. My particular favorites came in a cargo style because again, I needed that pocket space for all of my toys. You could put on any shirt you had in your closet and it would match and not match the shorts at the same time. But fortunately, these weren’t the only options when it came to cool shorts back in the day.

Umbros
These were especially sexy on the chicks but guys would wear these as well. I think I had the exact pair that is pictured above. Wearing these was as close to feeling naked in public but not getting arrested as you could feel. As I got older, they shifted to boxers or something I slept in but in the early days, these were standard going out shorts. You could play basketball, go swimming and even go to the local Wal-Mart all in the same day and never have to change your shorts!

Converse All-Star’s
The key to the JAMS and the Umbros was being able to match them up with Converse All-Stars, or Chuck Taylors. These have been around since the 20’s but by the time the 80’s rolled around; we were wearing every color in the rainbow. The brighter they were, the better. I owned them in neon orange, neon green, yellow and red as I remember. I may have owned others but I remember these specifically. I also remember feeling cool when I saw Ferris Bueller wearing them on his day off. They phased out of the NBA in the early 80’s but they continued to be hot commodities to the general public. I would have never worn them playing basketball though because they gave your ankles less than zero support. Once basketball became a heavy part of my life, I had to find something a little more supportive.

Reebok Pumps
In 1989, I was 12 and starting to play basketball daily. A new shoe hit the scene that year called the Reebok Pump. This was an athletic high top that you could inflate using a small basketball designed pump on the tongue of the shoe. You could put these on and pump them up until they were really snug on your ankles. I suppose it was for support but many people used them in an effort to jump higher. Dee Brown famously pumped his reeboks right before a dunk when he won the slam dunk contest in 1991. Well, they didn’t make you jump any higher but you couldn’t tell me that back then.

Tight Roll Jeans
Of course, if you owned sweet looking sneakers, you didn’t want a pair of jeans covering them up. So our answer to that was the tight roll. Trust me when I say that this was an art form. There were people who were famous at my school for their ability to tight roll jeans. I was ok but I was never a Jared McKenzie when it came to the tight roll. If we were going to a party, you might even ask one of the legends to tight roll it for you! This was especially crucial if you were wearing acid wash jeans. I have tried to tight roll my jeans in the recent past and I really suck at it now.

Duck Head
Along with the pants and shoes, you had to find a shirt to wear. I probably owned 10 of these shirts in various colors. The cool thing about the shirt was that it matched every design of the Duck Head shorts that were also very popular at the time. I had so many different shades of their shorts but this shirt is all I needed. I’d be willing to bet that there is at least a 12 month stretch in my teens where I wasn’t seen without wearing something made by Duck Head. This is one of the fads I look back on and want to take back. The pastel colors of Duck Head have not aged well.

Wind Suits
When I wasn’t wearing JAMS, Duck Head or Tight Rolled Jeans, I was sporting a wind suit. This was more of a fall item that we wore to football games and to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving. The wind suit was extremely comfortable and came with matching top and bottom. I wasn’t old enough to match that up with a girlfriend and for that I am thankful. I would not want any photos floating around out there of Dub and an old flame in matching wind suits. This picture may look silly to you but trust me; these things were HUGE when I was about 14.

Starter Jacket
When fall turned to winter, I jumped out of the wind suit and got a little warmer with a starter jacket. This jacket was one of the most amazing innovations in clothing since the loin cloth. They had them for all sports, with team colors, logos and league insignias. I remember having a Falcons jacket for a while but the most popular in my high school in the early 90’s was the Charlotte Hornet Starter Jacket. Remember, the Hornets were established in 1988 and by the time I got to high school, they had Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning and Kendall Gill. I saw that purple and teal every where I went! I couldn’t find a soul wearing a red and yellow Hawks jacket but there were tons of these. I remember football players wearing them a lot on the sideline too when it was snowing. I’m telling you, this was a great jacket!

Cell Phone
While not a clothing option, I think it’s important to remember the old cell phone from my youth. I remember Zack Morris having one of these on Saved by the Bell and kids were losing their minds! This phone was bigger than the phone in our home but you could take it anywhere and call from it. The first cell phone I had was the bag phone in my vehicle but this beautiful piece of technology was all the rage when I was too young for phones. Now my 10 year old daughter can text her friend. When I was 10, it took me 2 minutes to dial the rotary at my house. I guess it could be worse. I think Scott Berger used to have to be patched through to an operator like Andy Griffith. I kid because I care!By now you may be asking what any of this has to do with sports cards. Well, you are about to find out that this information is extremely pertinent to the box I am ripping. In 1991, a football card product hit the scene that hammers at the 90’s clothing scene. Pro Line produced a 300 card base set with NFL players in somewhat of a “glamour shot” style without the manufactured haze. They were all wearing some form of workout or casual gear with their team logos on them. They were either holding a football or leaning against weights or just standing on the stairs of the stadium. The set is also known as the first football set to include random autographs in packs.The cards were full bleed on the front and had a nice gloss – but not too much- balance. The backs of the cards included another inset photo and only a quote from the player. There were no statistics or even player information. There were a couple inserts that included Payne Stewart and Santa Claus and these could be found as autographs as well. Pulling a Santa auto might be as fun as unearthing a ’91 Donruss Elite. There was also a “Wives Set” that included 7 player’s wives. Who can forget that Jennifer Montana card? I collected these pretty heavily back in ’91 but I am about to take my first stab at ripping a full box. Now you see that the above discussion about clothing was necessary to prepare you for the styles you are about to see.

I knew right away I was going to enjoy this as I pulled this Webster Slaughter in the first pack!

I also pulled this Marcus Dupree pretty quickly too! Remember the “30 for 30: The Best That Never Was”?

The Wives
The full Wives Subset was in the box. From top left we have; Jennifer Montana, Babette Kosar, Janet Elway, Michelle Oates, Toni Lipps, Stacey O’Brien and Phylicia Rashad.

Retired Players
The retired players in the set are in this photo. Orenthal James Simpson is the top left. There are some autos floating around out there in unopened boxes of “Juice”. I always loved this Walter Payton card.

Coaches
All of the coaches are present in this set. I only took a photo of the legendary coaches. One of these is a rookie card of one of the greatest coaches ever!

Quarterbacks
I pulled 10 legendary quarterbacks along with many other not so legendary guys. Steve Young is still a fresh face in this set and Troy Aikman is FEELING THE BURN! I’m always happy to add another Randall Cunningham (QB Eagles) to the PC.

Running Backs
The stable of running backs available here take me straight back to Super Tecmo Bowl. This list includes Christian Okoye, Barry Word, Ickey Woods, James Brooks, Roger Craig and others.

Wide Receivers
There were some solid wide receivers in 1991. My personal favorite was Andre Rison but Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin and Andre Reed were amazing! I had to include Ed McCaffrey here too. Steve Largent was technically done playing but I felt like including him with the wide receivers.

Defense
There is a lot of defensive talent (and ferocity) in this photo. I remember David Fulcher dominating the Bengals defensive backfield and Ronnie Lott is an all time legend. The defensive line had Howie Long, Bruce Smith and Derrick Thomas. Meanwhile, the linebackers included LT, Seau and Kevin Greene! This was 90’s football at its finest!

Zubaz
Pro Line was the licensed carrier of Zubaz in the NFL and the cards did not disappoint. There really isn’t much to say. Just peruse the cards!

The Autograph
I was fortunate enough to pull an autograph. I can’t really find the insertion ratios but in 1992 they advertised one per box. Perhaps 1991 was the same. This was an autograph of Philadelphia Running Back, Keith Byars. The interesting part about Pro Line Autographs is that they are autographed on the back of the card as opposed to the front. The authenticity is a stamp in the lower right corner too as opposed to a statement from the company as is customary now.This set brings back a lot of memories for me. 1991 was a great time to be a football fan. There were some awesome video games, highlight tapes were very popular and there were some true legends playing in the league. I missed one card from building the entire set with this box. I missed Card #42, Cleveland Gary, somehow. I’m sure I can pick it up on the Bay for next to nothing. I also love the autograph cards in this set. The box was $20 shipped and really pretty hard to beat on value. It can be quirky to some and I get that but it was indicative of the time we lived in. Card companies were looking for something different and they found it with this one. I have to give this one a “5” on the Dub-O-Meter. Very cheap box, superstars, Zubaz and an autograph? What else do you need from a box of football cards in 1991?

J-Dub

Scoring Scale

1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.
2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

Retro Review: A Scary Good Baseball Set

I’m taking a little different approach with today’s post. Let’s talk about horror movies! I have to thank Rick Brown (@rickbrown0814) for getting the wheels turning on this one. We chatted a bit on Saturday about the cheesy horror movies from the 80’s that we loved. Of course, that included some discussion on video stores so it was right up my alley. While our discussion was aimed at cheese, I started thinking a little more about the horror movies that I really loved from the 80’s. For the record, my favorite cheesy movie was “Ghoulies 2” and his was “Zuni Doll” from The Trilogy of Terror. As I was skimming some of the lists online of horror movies from that time period, one year kept jumping out; 1985. There were a number of horror movies I loved from the 80’s and I was looking at pulling together a Top 10 list but I found 5 in 1985 alone so I felt a theme brewing.I was 8 years old in 1985 and didn’t see any of these when they originally came out. But remember, I worked the video store circuit when I was a teen so my buds and I spent many a late night watching these movies in the early 90’s. We went through phases where we would watch all camp movies, then all zombie movies, then maybe comedy horrors but there was a group of movies that were go-to’s whenever we wanted to get serious about our binge watching. We would memorize these movies, look for little clues in the re-watch that we missed the time before and would eventually become “experts” on the particular film.I’ve gone as far as trying to rank them in reverse order but I feel a little bit of regret for ranking any ahead of the other. Of course, stick around for a review of a great baseball card set from 1985 as well. Remember, I felt a theme brewing. I’ve wanted to review this classic set since I picked it up a few weeks ago. My pal Jonathan Coker (@JonathanBCoker) picked this up for me at his LCS and shipped it down to me. He knows what I collect and sent me pics when he visited the shop. I had to have this one for the price. But first, the horror with, hopefully, no spoilers!

#5 – Re-Animator

This is a classic 80’s horror that has all of the requirements to be on the list. We have plenty of gore. The basis of the movie is that a disturbed med student formulates a serum that brings the dead back to life. After trying it on his unsuspecting roommate’s cat, things escalate to the point where his professor quite literally loses his head but the head is brought back to life with the serum. That’s about all I can say without spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it. In between the gore, we also have some great 80’s chick action with famous horror actress Barbara Crampton. This was an easy top 5 but somehow couldn’t top any of the others. This movie also has its own trading cards that were just released this year. I had to buy some of those.

#4 – Fright Night

This movie legit frightened me the first time I saw it, no pun intended. It stars the awesome Roddy McDowall as a Horror TV Host that “kills vampires” who gets a request from a teen horror fan who is convinced that his new neighbor is a vampire. There are some major scares in this one and the special effects are top notch. The only other vampire movie I can compare it to is “The Lost Boys”. Vampires are generally not all that scary in movies but Chris Sarandon got the job done in “Fright Night”. It was remade in 2011 (as many old horror movies are) but was not nearly as frightening and entertaining. If you haven’t seen this one, it’s a must see for horror fans.

#3 – Day of the Dead

This is an absolute must see. Every horror fan recognizes “Day of the Dead” as one of the top all time films! The movie was directed by Zombie Movie Icon, George Romero and special effects master, Tom Savini. It was the third in the “Dead” series that also featured “Night of the Living Dead” and “Dawn of the Dead”. In this classic, we are led to believe that the dead can be trained to become understanding and cooperative beings. The main test subject is “Bub” and he is the first zombie that I actually cheered for and wanted to “survive”. Bub had headphones and responded to sounds and objects but the military personnel in the testing area just couldn’t leave Bub alone. This movie has a more serious tone than the previous two in my opinion and remains one of my favorite all time zombie movies.

#2 – Return of the Living Dead

Ok, we don’t have a real scary one here but this is probably my 2nd favorite zombie movie of all time and I can pretty much quote it from the opening credits. Return of the Living was not an official Romero piece and was more of a satirical look at how a second outbreak started. Two knucklehead employees at a medical equipment warehouse released a gas found in a drum that was mistakenly shipped through a few years before by the US Military. The drum contains, presumably, one of the subjects from the “Night of the Living Dead” outbreak and when the gas is released, it comes back to life. After more mistakes are made at the facility, a new outbreak is created. There are some scary moments but this is a truly entertaining movie and received a nice 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. It spawned four sequels with each becoming less and less fun.

#1 – Silver Bullet

There is a reason that this is #1, besides the value of the film itself. This was the first horror (creature) movie I ever saw and really paid attention to. Remember, I saw “The Shining” in 1986 but I wasn’t supposed to and I don’t remember it in its entirety. I remember the elevator of blood and “Here’s Johnny” for sure. I first saw Silver Bullet on “BetaMax”. It’s weird that I remember that but it was a strange sight. Anyhow, Gary Busey and Corey Haim star in this movie adapted from a Stephen King book about a werewolf. I have seen many werewolf movies but none scared me like this one. I know it’s because of how young I was when I first saw it but it has stuck with me since then. I own that one now on blu-ray and it is viewed about as often as any movie I still own. It rivals my love for the 1990 version of Night of the Living Dead as my favorite movie of all time, regardless of genre. I so wish I could watch it on BetaMax one more time to get the full effect. Fittingly, the movie features a scene in which Gary Busey and Corey Haim are playing poker and using baseball cards as cash. Haim tries to bet a manager and Busey calls him out. “You can’t bet managers! I’ve told you time and time again, you can’t bet managers! I wonder if they were using the set I’m about to review?So there you have Dub’s 5 favorite horror movies from 1985. Those movies sharing that release year tied in perfectly to my anticipated review of 1985 Fleer. I have owned some singles of 1985 Fleer but I had to have this set because it is really a sweet design for Fleer. The ’84 design was nice as well but up until then, Fleer was kind of a dud in my opinion. 1985 also had some great rookies in it. While the 1984 Update set had first releases, and holds more value, you can find Kirby Puckett, Roger Clemens and Dwight Gooden rookies, among others.The set is 660 cards and the cards feature a gray border with team colors surrounding the inset photo. While gray can feel bland at times, the team colors were enough to make the design pop. It’s a very simple design but very classy. The backs of the cards were red, white and dark gray and in the same general design as all other Fleer cards of the 80’s. Though, there was a small photo on the backs of the cards, which was not always consistent with Fleer. The one strange thing about the card back is that the information about the player (Height, Weight, DOB, Etc) was at the bottom of the card. While this was standard for Fleer up until 1985, the information would float to the top of the card beginning in 1986.

Here are some of the highlights from the master set!

The Rookies
1985 had a solid crop of rookies (Joe Carter was actually FFC). Terry Pendleton would go on to win an MVP with the Braves, Doc Gooden would be a force for several years to come and we all know what happened with the Rocket. My favorite player in this group is Eric Davis. I was always of fan of Davis and he was someone I didn’t like to see play Atlanta because I had to root against him.

Young Stars
The young star group can’t get much better than this! If Wallach would be willing to play 2nd, this would also be an awesome All-Star team. I never get tired of adding Tony Gwynn cards to my PC. My favorite player here is probably The Wizard but it’s a lot tougher than that first group to choose from. I wish Straw’s career had taken a little different path and he might be tops on this list.

Veterans
While these guys weren’t quite as young as the previous group, they were stars nonetheless. I’ve said before that one of my favorite all time uniforms was that 80’s Pirates and this Tony Pena card is excellent. I also loved the old California Angels logo. Some of these guys were better known for what they did in other uniforms but that can’t be said for Molitor and Yount! And another Murph for the PC!

Super Star Special
This “insert” set was at the back of the checklist and included many of the stars in the set. A couple of milestones were celebrated with Reggie Jackson’s 500th Home Run and Pete Rose’s 4,000 Hit. And I never get tired of Father/Son cards in baseball.

Major League Prospects
While the set was loaded with great rookies, the prospect cards were a little underwhelming. I was a fan of Shawon Dunston in the late 80’s so this one was nice!

Fun Cards
What would a review of 1985 be without some great names and photos? One of my all-time favorite combo’s was Kent Tekulve. He had a great name and always rolled with the tinted RX glasses. Steve Trout tried to mimic the look but came off more like a villain in Magnum PI. Rollie Fingers was a great pitcher but no pitcher has ever been as great as that stache! Finally, one of the great names in 80’s baseball was John Wockenfuss.

King of the Hill
I always love finding a card of Kurt Bevacqua. He was a masher in the majors but I know him more for being a softball ringer on King of the Hill. Strickland Propane’s arch rival, Thatherton, hired Bevacqua’s wife so he could qualify for the softball team. He was destroying the competition until he ran into Peggy Hill! Great episode!

Rookie Gem
Did you think I was going to leave out the card of the set? This Kirby is actually in very good condition. Don’t judge it from my photo skills. This is the best looking version of this card I have ever owned. I might even send it in for grading and replace the one in the set with another. As much as I love bashing the Twins, I will never bash Puckett. He was a favorite of mine (except for 1991) and I really love the old Twins logo too.1985 was a great year for horror movies but it might have even been a better year for baseball cards. I go back and forth with Topps and Fleer for my favorite set from that year but going through this new addition gives Fleer a slight edge. I guess I need to add an ’85 Topps set so I can be fair and balanced in my decision. In any event, the set gets a “5” on the Dub-O-Meter. There are some great rookie classes in the late 70’s through the 80’s and this one is right up there with the best of them. The cards are really attractive for a mid 80’s product and this particular set was in pretty good overall condition. I would love to go through a box of ’85 Fleer and try to pull multiples but owning the set is first priority. I bought this set for $30 and I believe it was money well spent.

Lastly, if you have a moment and a couple of dollars, check out www.gofundme.com/jasessoldiers. Even if you can’t give, just send Jonathan a kind word and good vibes for Jase. Thanks again Jonathan!

J-Dub

Scoring Scale

1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.

2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

Maybe I’m An Oddball

I am eccentric, maybe even a weirdo. In the truest sense of the word, I am an oddball. I may look like a regular guy but I recognize that I am different and have some weird tendencies and superstitions. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like that I’m not a Regular Joe. I like the fact that you aren’t going to find a Patagonia hat on my head. You aren’t going to find me sipping coffee at Starbucks and reading the newspaper. There isn’t anything necessarily wrong with those things but I’m not that guy. If you find me wearing a hat, it’s either my trusty FMC cap or I’m showing Bulldog pride. And when it comes to sipping, it’s probably a crown and Diet Dr. Pepper while I’m reading somebody’s baseball card blog.I’ve got what I think is a pretty thick southern drawl when I talk but I like doing periscope videos opening cards because some of my card collecting buddies join in and it feels like they are right there with me while I’m doing it. We can chat about the cards and learn from each other as we go through the stack. I’ve had people that I work with, or play softball with, see the scopes and ask, “What the heck is that about? Are you just sitting there opening baseball cards and talking to yourself?” Well, maybe I am sometimes but I usually have a couple of knuckleheads in there with me and they know exactly what’s happening. Again, that probably makes me different to a lot of people in my personal life.I have even had enough good luck opening cards on Periscope that I don’t want to open them without Nathan Gunderson (@GundersonNathan) watching because he has become a good luck charm. The only way I can open packs without that good luck charm is having my daughter Bailey open the packs for me. She has always been my good luck charm but she has spent more time at friend’s houses this summer than at her own. So Nate, looks like you’re stuck for now. I’m sure the luck will shift at some point and I’ll have to switch things up. It’s sort of like having to wear the same UGA shirt on game day until we lose. And I have to eat at Pearly’s for breakfast on those game days too. And if I’m not at the game, I have to drink out of the same UGA cup every game. Just ask Mrs. Dub; it can get exhausting.I have the same zany behavior in softball. If I have a bat that is working, I use that one and that’s it. I don’t monkey around with success. I even have Mr. Kinnett’s bat from this past season still in my truck because it was so hot for me. Don’t worry Ash, the bat is safe and will be returned. Everybody that plays with me will tell you that I have to be the last player out of the dugout too as we take the field each inning. I play 1st and 3rd so coaches have even gone out of their way at times to make sure we were in the dugout on whatever side I was playing to accommodate this ridiculous superstition. It IS ridiculous and I don’t dispute that but I am going to be the last one out every inning. I will stand at the door of the dugout and rush people out if I have to.Let’s talk about TV and movies for a minute. I really don’t watch as much as I used to, but when I do, it’s usually something from the 80’s or 90’s that I have seen a hundred times. It’s just comfortable. Give me King of the Hill, Married with Children, Seinfeld, Welcome Back Kotter or WKRP in Cincinnati and I’m a happy guy. When I do watch modern TV, it’s not anything my wife wants to watch with me. As for movies, I love 80’s cheesy horror movies. I have an app on my phone called “Shudder” and it has everything you can think of in the horror genre. My whole family will go to sleep and I’ll get in bed with headphones and watch “Phantasm” like I’ve never seen it before. Just last week I watched “Endangered Species” on YouTube – in bed – on a weeknight – at midnight because I couldn’t put it down.I’m pretty sure my heart and soul is still in the 80’s. I have spent the last couple of weeks listening to Yacht Rock on XM for crying out loud. I am riding down the road singing Michael McDonald and Christopher Cross!! I jump at the chance to introduce my kids to ET or Gremlins. I’ve tried to get Bailey to play the Nintendo but, not surprisingly, she thinks it’s a bit dated. She doesn’t even laugh at “Saved by the Bell” and I’ve seen the crap she watches. She thinks “The Thunderman’s” and “Bunked” is hilarious! I can’t wait until she’s old enough to watch Silver Bullet or Night of the Living Dead! I hope my wife doesn’t read this one. We did find common ground with Stranger Things because she really likes being able to watch something sort of scary and I love it because it oozes nostalgia.

I’ll be honest with you. I don’t like 2017. I didn’t like 2015 or 2010. I realize that I am using an online blog (not in existence in the 80’s) and Twitter (not in existence in the 90’s) to talk with people all over the world about my passion. There are some things I wish I could keep from now and go back to then. But for the most part, I miss the old graphics of Atari and the VHS tapes that had to be rewound and the video store you had to rent them from. Damn, I miss Video Stores! I’m sure others get this way sometimes and I wonder often whether I am any more nostalgic than the next person. But I get a lot of positive emotions from going back in time. Sometimes, I feel like I’m addicted to it.Someone asked me this week why I was so dedicated to bringing Junk Wax back and I didn’t have a real answer that would persuade anybody. I just said, “because it’s what I like.” Everybody has their thing and this is mine. I don’t care about over production. I think (I know) these old cards have value to people my age. They are representative of a simpler time in my life. Nate shared a picture the other day of Bowman Platinum boxes he bought and the very first thing that caught my eye was a 1991 Glenallen Hill in the background. I’m telling you, I am really an odd cat.

I have found people like me out there. We have a lot in common and I enjoy conversations with those people. I guess you could call me and several of my Twitter friends a “support group” in a sense. Everybody is nostalgic to a degree but it’s a daily routine for me. I can’t really switch it off. I don’t know that I want to. I know it makes it more difficult to appreciate things today. But I go through life thinking not enough people appreciate things from yesterday so I guess it all evens out. That’s from Seinfeld’s “The Opposite” episode, if you weren’t aware.I bought two t-shirts at Kohl’s this past weekend. One was a Super Mario shirt for me and the other was a Golden Girls shirt for my wife. In the last 5 years, Mrs. Dub and I have seen Poison, Cinderella, Def Leppard, Journey and a Fleetwood Mac tribute band; all live and in person. My DVR is set to record Hank Hill and Cops every day. I bought a box of cards from 1991 on eBay last night. My favorite baseball player hasn’t played a game in over 10 years. My favorite basketball player hasn’t played in almost 20. My favorite movie is from 1994 and my favorite video game is from 1991. Am I the only one? How odd am I, really?

I think there is a place for oddball’s in this world. There is a place for the unique or the lame or the geeks or the nostalgic, or all of the above. Those are usually the kindest and least confrontational people you’ll find in a world that is no longer kind and thrives on confrontation. Maybe that’s what I miss the most about the 80’s and 90’s. Sure, we had problems. We had corruption and war. But we sure seemed to get along a lot better back then. I don’t remember people being so intolerant of each other back then but maybe it is because I was a kid. But then, that would be something else I miss about being a kid; adult problems.

Part of the allure of the card community to me is that we don’t care about what other collectors look like or where they live or whether they are high end or low end or new or vintage. We are all the same at our core. We enjoy collecting little pieces of the past and that makes us happy. It could be an old faded piece of cardboard or a shiny printing plate or a jersey; there is something out there for all of us. The true collectors I have met leave their judgment at the door. We are a community and some of the collectors feel like family to me. Not a single one of us knows everything there is to know about collecting. We all have our niche. But that makes us stronger as a whole. If I need to know about new products, I know where to go. If I need to talk vintage, I know where to go. If I have brain farts about junk wax, I have those guys to go to as well.So maybe I’m not the odd one. Maybe the people who don’t have the benefit of knowing others who have the same passion for something as they do are odd. I’m not searching for what makes me happy; I already know what it is. And I’m not searching for a place where I fit in because I’ve found it. It doesn’t matter what team I root for or what time frame I like the most. I’m home. I’m among people just like me. I’m where the snozzberries taste like snozzberries and the Topps Gum smells like Topps Gum. This is a great time to be a part of this hobby and I’m so very grateful that this was the hobby I chose 30 years ago. Maybe it was fate or maybe it was dumb luck but my version of odd is pretty damn awesome.We might as well discuss some cards while we are here. It should also be an oddball set since that is the theme. I found a little set at the card shop a few weeks ago that I had never seen before. It was right in my collection timeline so having never seen it caught me off guard. It had a price tag of $3 so I yanked it off the shelf faster than Kent Hrbek did Ron Gant in 1991. Yeah, I went there @JunkWaxTwins. The NBA All-Star Game has always been around my birthday and I usually watch most of the weekend’s festivities. I especially did back in the 80’s and throughout the 90’s. Give me MJ and ‘Nique in a slam dunk contest and Larry Bird and Reggie Miller in a 3 point contest all day long!The 1993 All-Star Game has a lot of meaning for me for several reasons. First, 1993 was one of my prime basketball years. I was 16 and in the best shape of my life. I could run up and down the court all day, never get tired and still go out that same night and hang out with friends. Basketball was life for me for a while and this was right in the middle of that. There were some significant events at this All-Star game as well.

• This was Michael Jordan’s last All-Star game before leaving to play baseball;
• Isiah Thomas’ last All-Star game;
• Shaq’s first All-Star game;
• The first All-Star game that featured a Hornet (Larry Johnson) – Who didn’t have a Charlotte cap or starter jacket in 1993?
• The All-Star game was in Utah and Karl Malone and John Stockton shared the MVP;
• Mark Price won the 3 point contest;
• And most importantly at the time, Harold Miner (Baby Jordan) won the slam dunk contest.In 1993, I was a HUGE Harold Miner fan. I had his Heat jersey and a Heat cap that I eventually lost in a break-up. This is the one I mentioned on Facebook, Kin! For one brief moment, we were all vindicated for calling him Baby Jordan when he won that slam dunk contest. Of course, that didn’t last long and we know how the story ended. I still appreciate Harold Miner a lot for what he meant to me during that time. This All-Star game was stacked with all time greats. The game displayed the likes of Jordan, Shaq, Malone, Stockton, LJ, Isiah, Pippen, Clyde, Barkley and David Robinson. These were the starters but the reserves were loaded too! Patrick Ewing, Dominique, Tim Hardaway, Hakeem Olajuwan and Shawn Kemp came off the bench!Back to this oddball set. I found this box that almost looked like a deck of playing cards but they were in fact basketball cards from the 1993 All-Star Game made by Upper Deck. I love the All-Star logo from that year in Utah. It’s a 40 card set and is advertised as “Full Bleed, UV Coated, Holographically Enhanced NBA Basketball Cards.” Yes, please! The checklist is every bit as exciting as you can imagine. Plus, there are 5 All-Star Flashback cards in the set. I couldn’t wait to see what was in this box.The first 10 cards in the set were legends. We’re talking Wilt, Oscar Robertson, Walt Frazier type legends! The photos were really good for vintage photos. They were very crisp!The next portion of the checklist was reserved for current NBA All-Star Heroes. These were players who had significant moments or achievements in an All-Star Game in their career. There were 7 representatives from the East. I love the MJ photo. Also, The Chief and Moses Malone are some of my favorites to collect.The West had 8 representatives in the NBA All-Star Heroes collection. There isn’t a player in this stack that I didn’t like.The next section was the NBA All-Star Recruits, which was made up of projected future All-Star’s and All-Star first timers. Some of these guys wound up having stellar careers. The three centers alone; Zo, Dikembe and Shaq were unbelievable forces for a long time. Throw in Grand-Ma-Ma, Steve Smith and the rest and you can see why the NBA was so much fun to watch in the early 90’s. And yes, there is a Baby Jordan sighting!The last 5 cards were the flashback cards. Here is where you will find Larry Legend; the greatest shooter in NBA History. I don’t care what you have to say about Steph Curry or Kevin Durant, Larry was the man!Without a doubt, this is the best $3 I have ever spent in my entire life. Well, I forgot about the first time I rented the movie “Clerks”. There is really nothing to knock about this set. It was affordable, loaded with stars, was very good quality and the cards didn’t stick together like other UV Coated issues tend to. I’m looking at you ’91 Stadium Club. This was a very easy 5 on the Dub-O-Meter. It’s hard to beat an old oddball set in my opinion. Whether it’s the K-Mart All-Stars, Drakes Hitters and Pitchers or now, the NBA All-Star Collection from 1993; these sets belong in my collection. If you were a fan of 90’s basketball, there is no reason not to add this to your PC. Like “Mike and The Mechanics” would say, these were “The Living Years.” I know, more Yacht Rock. I guess I really am an oddball.

J-Dub

Scoring Scale

1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.
2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

1990 Topps – Neon Memories

I’m the kind of guy that likes to create memories. There are a lot of people who like to live in one moment and rush to the next one and I’m not against that nor have I never had that sort of attitude. But now, as a 40 year old father, I put a lot of thought into what’s happening around me and what I can do to somehow enhance an experience or make it more memorable for my kids. We all do a lot for our kids and we all have moments when you stop and realize that “if I didn’t have kids, there’s no way I’d be standing here posing with The Count from Sesame Street!” But it’s all a part of a larger life that we created when we chose to have children.I think my love for nostalgia and memories from my own childhood is part of what drives my desire to recreate the same for my kids. I remember a lot of cool things that I experienced as a kid and I’ve written about a lot of them. I remember going to Disney with my parents and Papa, playing little league baseball at Centennial Stadium, going to Panama City Beach to swim and ride go-carts and spending summers at Fort Gaines skiing and tubing and fishing. Those were all fun things that I was given a chance to experience as a kid and I thank my parents for opening the doors to those memories.There are other memories that I have that were just normal, everyday occurrences that were a simple part of growing up and I carry them with me still today. I don’t know how the mind decides to keep or throw away certain memories but some little thing can happen every day that takes me back to a moment in my childhood. Last weekend, I sat down and watched a Married with Children marathon and laughed just as much at the memories I had from watching as a kid as I did at the now corny jokes. The show would come on Sunday Nights on Fox and we would get home from the lake and watch it while we cleaned clothes and got prepared for the coming week. It was one of the rare moments that the whole family was in the same room watching TV since my dad was on the road a lot as a truck driver.A big memory for me is also watching the Braves on TBS while eating supper with my mom and little brother every night. I loved Skip and Pete and even though we suffered in the mid 80’s, I loved players like Gerald Perry, Dion James and Claudell Washington. Dale Murphy was a given but we had a lot of likeable players back then. We had a couple that you had to force yourself to like too like Bob Horner and Rick Mahler but that is truly where I found my love for baseball. In turn, I remember both of my children sitting in my arms until they feel asleep watching football and baseball when they were kids. It’s not that they were bored as much as they slept about 16 hours a day.Bailey actually liked when I had football on TV and still watches it in doses today. She also collects cards and autographs with me, even though she is slowing down some because “her things” are becoming important now too. She will still rip packs with me but we have to make time for it now while she used to be at my beckon call. There was even a time when she came to me and said, “Daddy, let’s open these football stickers and put them in my album.” That’s part of the kids growing up I suppose too. I remember wanting to hang out with my friends more and more and pushing my parents to the side. But it’s weird how as I got older, I drifted back to them as the people that I trusted the most. That’s another reason I want to make sure I am creating these memories with my daughters. I want them to always know and remember that I am here for them and they can turn to me just as my parents have done for me.Bailey and I have a lot in common. She likes the thrill rides at the amusement park, she likes the scary movies, she loves King of the Hill and she loves the Georgia Bulldogs. She also loves Pearl Jam! We are able to create a lot of memories that I know will stick with her for the rest of her life. We can never guarantee what path our children will take in life but if we give them love and fond memories, we have done the very best we can. That’s what I’m trying to establish with my kids. So when we go to the beach, Bailey wants me to swim with her and throw her in the air in the pool so she can flip. She wants me to ride the go-cart with her. She wants me race from one end of the pool to the other. And that’s what I want too.Georgia is only 3 but I am trying to raise her just like I started with Bailey. She knows that when we see football or baseball or basketball on TV that those are my sports too. She’ll point and say, “Daddy play baseball?” She recognizes my city league jerseys when I put them on and knows that it is something I enjoy. She stands next to me at the table when I am ripping through an old box of junk wax and wants to see the cards. She really wants the puzzle pieces when I do Donruss but I found out this week just how important those cards are to her. There were four 1990 Donruss checklist cards in the floor of the living room and my wife went to pick them up while cleaning the room. Georgia ran to her and grabbed the cards and said, “these are mine!” The way I interpret that is that she has seen how much daddy likes “playing” with the cards and she wants to be a part of it too. I am more than happy to oblige.Georgia is more into playing right now than doing something as focused as collecting but I’m sure we’ll go through the same phase with her as we did with Bailey and the cards and sticker collecting. But right now, she still knows that the cards on the table are not to be played with. I will toss her an ’87 Donruss Tommy Herr every now and then to keep her happy. Georgia likes to climb on me and have me chase her through the house “trying to get her” but this last trip to the beach she wanted daddy to “fwim” with her too as she is getting more and more accustomed to the water. She’s going to be like her big sister in that regard. They both are little fish that can’t stay out of the water. Even when we go fishing, they want to jump in and swim around the boat. That’s not too much unlike me when I was a kid though.As we continue to create memories, my desire for them is that one day when they are 40, they will be able to look back on certain things in their lives and smile and think, “I’ve really lived a good life.” That’s really what my entire blog has been built around up to this point. The focus is almost always sports cards but there are stories that go with the cards that make them so worthwhile to me. If I hadn’t experienced some of the great times with cards as a kid, I am sure I would have moved on from them by now. I know that some people are able to start collecting as adults and I am all for anybody who wants to join the hobby. I just openly recognize that my love for the hobby today was forged in the late 80’s and early 90’s.Which brings us to the set for this post; 1990 Topps. This one was second to ’89 Donruss in cementing my love for the hobby. That ’89 Donruss was the first pack of cards I ever opened but ’90 Topps was the first full set my parents ever bought for me. I remember getting the full set for Christmas and I didn’t really know what to do with it at first. It was sort of a catch 22 in a weird way. If I had the full set, did that mean I wouldn’t need to buy any packs of ’90 Topps? Did I take the superstar cards out and put them in my binder? Did I keep the full box intact and just keep buying packs for my binder? I really didn’t know what to do. So I just opened the box and started sorting through the cards. And what I found were the neon crazy design Topps cards that I still love today.The set was a massive 792 cards and the first 5 cards commemorated Nolan Ryan’s 5,000 K’s. Remember that one in my post about 1989 Donruss? Then there were some Record Breaker Cards for Vince Coleman, Rickey Henderson and Cal Ripken Jr. Aside from that, the other “insert” types were “Turn Back The Clock”, Future Stars, #1 Draft Picks, All-Star Rookies, and All-Stars. You could get various other inserts in rack packs, cello packs and mail-ins but these were the basics. The big get from that year was the Frank Thomas Rookie and it came with an error version where his name was left off of the front of the card. It remains a highly sought after 1990 Topps card!Let’s go to the design for just a moment. The front of the card had a very 90’s feel with bright neon like colors in the border that matched up with the team colors to a large degree. There were some oranges and yellows that were a little out of place but for the most part, team colors. The back of the card is where things got weird. The color choice was strange with the greenish yellow and the checker board bottom border was just confusing. ’90 Topps is a perfect example of a set where I love the front and hate the back. The front reminded me of Saved By The Bell and the back reminded me of Buster Poindexter in “Scrooged”.I found a 500 count vending box at the LCS yesterday and I’ve never actually gone through one. I have always assumed they were commons and picked through but several Twitter peeps have shown me otherwise. So I figured, for $6, what’s the risk. If anything, I paid $6 to relive a major Christmas gift from my childhood. Let’s see how that panned out.I did pull one of the Nolan Ryan 5,000 K cards and the ’89 Record Breaker Vince Coleman.I also pulled an A. Bartlett Giamatti Commissioner card. I remember this card vividly!The lone “Future Star” in the vending box was Mark Gardner.I pulled five #1 Draft Picks, led by Ben McDonald. I didn’t pull the one I wanted though in Frank Thomas.I was able to put together the full Turn Back the Clock Set.There were seven All-Stars in the stack, including Ryno, Ozzie and McGriff.I missed out on the Griffey Jr. Topps All Star Rookie but did pull Gregg Jefferies. I can’t pull him in 1989 to save my life but here he is in ’90!I pulled a solid crop of rookies with Sosa, Walker, Juan Gone and Bernie! Pleased with these.The stars were a little sparse but did pick up Bo Jackson, The Big Cat and Murphy, which is always fun. McGwire, Canseco, Larkin, Ryan….all eluded me.Finally, one of the most memorable hits in Braves history came from this man. But the airbrushed hat is all I can think of when I look at this card. Not good….1990 Topps has a special place in my collection since it was the first full set I owned. The vending box was not as fun as ripping packs but I don’t feel like it was picked over or anything. The cards had a little bow to them because of being stuffed in that box for 27 years but they’ll probably flatten out when I let them breathe. The vending box experience was a little subpar but the set gets a strong 4 on the Dub-O-Meter. I will be getting a box soon and trying my luck with some wax packs. I would still enjoy pulling a Jr. or Frank Thomas (with or without the name). The set means a lot to me and it’s definitely one of the odder Topps sets in the late 80’s-early 90’s but I enjoy the design as much as I do the ’87 Wood Grain. I like it and can understand how some may not. I think it is often overlooked when navigating the junk wax era for some fun ripping. The boxes are cheap so give one a shot!

J-Dub

Scoring Scale

1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.

2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

1989 Donruss – My Hobby Foundation

This is a post I have been waiting a while to work on. I wanted to be able to give this one my very best because this is where collecting cards all began for me. The recent ’89 Fleer post had me in my feelings a little bit because it was the same year that I started my almost 30 year obsession with cardboard. But ’89 Fleer is not the set that I first collected. There was another set that was widely available in my town and was colorful, had an awesome rookie class and was very cheap. I specifically remember seeing these packs in Stop N Shop, Suwannee Swifty, Big B Drugs, Piggly Wiggly and Wal-Mart. The wax pack is burned into my brain and when I see it, I immediately feel a peace come over me like I’m back home and have no worries or responsibilities.Before we get to the set though, let’s talk about just how great 1989 really was. I will carry the flag for 1989 until my dying day. Whenever I have been asked about what age was my favorite or if I could go back to a certain point in time, when would it be, the answer is always the same; 1989 – Age 12. Part of that is because of my introduction to the hobby. But part of that is also because of just how great life was during that time. We had iconic sports stars, iconic musicians, iconic television and iconic video games that were originals then and are now being remade or mimicked today.There’s no better place to start than video games for a 12 year old. There was a strong list of games that were introduced in 1989 that I owned and played until they messed up. I played these NES games so much; I had to start using rubbing alcohol on q-tips to clean the cartridges! I know now that it was probably not the best way to handle them but that’s what all of my friends were doing. Arch Rivals was a basketball game that featured players who could punch, kick and pull each others pants down to stop them from scoring. It was awesome! “Hoops” was a 2 on 2 playground game that my cousin and I played until the early morning hours on weekends. There were others too like Tecmo Baseball, RC Pro Am, TMNT, Bad News Baseball and Baseball Stars. Those were when video games were true enjoyment!The best video game to come out in 1989 though was one that would probably be debated as the worst as well. I have always been a scary movie guy and when Friday the 13th launched, I was all over it. I’m sure you remember it but for those youngsters reading along, you played as camp counselors who had to go from cabin to cabin (side scrolling) to save kids from Jason. It was always a tangled maze and it took certain patterns to make it through the woods and caves to get to new locations. It was very drawn out and could get boring if you didn’t know what you were doing. But every time you went into a cabin, you ran the risk of meeting Jason, which made me jump almost every time. He was pretty much unbeatable but you could generally take him down for the moment and he would leave you alone. Sounds a lot like the movie! I played this game for HOURS AND HOURS and can still hear the soundtrack in my head when I think about it.When video games weren’t playing, the television was running some of the greatest shows ever to grace the living room. 1989 saw some classic shows come to an end like; Alf, Webster, Family Ties, Miami Vice, the Smurfs and Super Mario Bros. But that was just to make way for some absolute gems. Some of the shows that debuted in 1989 are just unbelievable; Cops, Coach, Rescue 911, Hey Dude, American Gladiators, Doogie Howser M.D., Baywatch, America’s Funniest Home Videos and The Simpsons! I remember every one of these shows being a huge part of my TV routine. There were shows still running as well like; Wonder Years, Roseanne, Cheers, Just The 10 Of Us and Married With Children. You will never convince me that there was a better time for television than when I was 12. I’ll put up any one of those shows against some Real Housewives crap.There were two other shows that debuted in 1989 that deserve their own special recognition. Saved By The Bell came along right when I was gearing up to go to High School and me and my friends lived and died with the kids at Bayside High School. All the prep’s wanted to be Zack, the jocks wanted to be Slater and most of us were actually Screech and didn’t want to admit it. And who wasn’t in love with Kelly Kapowski? She was the dreamiest of the dreamiest for my generation and she only cemented her legacy when she became Ms. Hot Stuff on Beverly Hills, 90210. Not to be outdone, another iconic show debuted in 1989; Seinfeld. I can generally quote every episode at this point in my life and am damn proud of that. These remain two of my favorite shows to this day!In music, it’s hard to believe the number of legendary artists we were dealing with all at the same time. The easy ones are Michael Jackson, Madonna, Paula Abdul, Guns N Roses and Bon Jovi (before he got lame). Other big hitters were Neneh Cherry with “Buffalo Stance”, Tone Loc, Skid Row, Warrant, New Kids, Young MC, Def Leppard and Poison. I actually created my fake band (idea from Saved By The Bell) and performed Every Rose Has Its Thorn as our opening song! Debbie Gibson and Tiffany were the hot chicks during that time and I had a hard time deciding if I was going to marry one of them or Tiffani- Amber Thiessen. I still think Kelly wins though and it’s probably not very close.Speaking of music, one of the most news worthy groups of my generation was very popular in 1989. They are now the punchline to a million jokes but at the time, everybody loved Milli Vanilli. Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan were two R&B singers who took the charts by storm (no pun intended) with hits like Blame It On The Rain, Girl You Know It’s True and Girl I’m Gonna Miss You. They won a Grammy Award for Best New Artist and had a Platinum Record. Then one fateful night while performing live on MTV, it happened. They were caught lip synching when the track that played messed up and they ran off stage. In 1990, they publicly admitted that they did not perform on the records. They tried to resurrect their careers as Rob & Fav but the damage had been done. As a last effort to restore their name, they were set to release the Milli Vanilli songs again with them actually singing but Rob died of a suspected drug overdose the night before they were set to tour. A sad end to a wild story but 1989 is where the beginning of that saga can be found.There were some pretty big sports moments in 1989 as well. The Ryan Express picked up his 5,000th K that year and became a living legend! On the opposite end of the legend spectrum was Pete Rose, who in 1989 accepted his lifetime ban from baseball. I remember the ordeal like it was yesterday. Bart Giamatti was selected as the 7th MLB Commissioner on April 1, 1989 and he immediately took on the task of dealing with Rose. Major League Baseball fought with Pete Rose for almost the entire summer and on August 24, Rose agreed to the lifetime ban. Mr. Giamatti passed away a mere 8 days after Rose’s ban. Giamatti’s entire time in office as MLB Commissioner was largely dedicated to the Rose case.It was also a big year for the Bay Area as both the San Francisco 49er’s and the Oakland A’s won their respective Championship games. Those teams were loaded with superstars from that era! In football, the 49’er squad included Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Roger Craig, Tom Rathman, Ronnie Lott, Charles Haley, John Taylor and Steve Young. They would go on to beat the Cincinnati Bengals, and Boomer Esiason, 20-16. The Bengals had the game in their grasps until Montana hit Taylor with 34 seconds remaining to spoil Cincy’s best shot at the Lombardi Trophy. That 49’er team was legendary!In baseball, the A’s beat their cross-bay rival San Francisco Giants in “The Battle of the Bay” World Series of 1989. Another star studded affair, this series featured Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Rickey Henderson, Dave Stewart, Dennis Eckersley, Will Clark, Matt Williams and Kevin Mitchell. With all of the power contained in one state, ironically, the show stopper was not the Bash Brothers but was an earthquake before Game 3 that registered a 7.1 on the Richter Scale. The A’s eventually proved too much for the Giants though and swept them in 4 games. As it relates to baseball, you could not have been a bigger star than Jose Canseco was in 1989 as far as I’m concerned!Jose Canseco was really the driving force that got me into card collecting. RBI Baseball was a big factor too but the Oakland A’s were such a fun team to watch and I wanted everything I could find with Jose Canseco on it. The first chance for that presented itself with a trip to Wal-Mart and my discovery of 1989 Donruss. I had a couple of baseball cards already that had just landed in my possession for different reasons but I had never actually cracked open a full wax pack until then. The bright yellow box with the rainbow writing just caught my eye immediately. And there on the cover of the box was Jose Canseco in his batting stance getting ready to launch a home run into the seats!That was the moment that grabbed me and pushed me to urge my parents to buy a couple of those packs. They obliged and my lifelong addiction began right then and there. I remember the four sided kiosk like it was yesterday. It was a small square metal stand that had cards all the way around with baseball, basketball and football in their own separate areas. The final side of the kiosk was reserved for binders, pages and Beckett Magazine. I wasn’t quite at the storage and pricing stage yet but I remember them being there. I also remember pulling a Jose Canseco but not the card on the box. I pulled the 40/40 insert and that was my first real treasure for my collection. For several years, Jose Canseco filled the first couple of pages of the binder I eventually bought. I was crushed when he took his fall from grace but still look fondly at his 80’s cards because they are a huge part of the collector I am today.

As for Donruss, it was the most prevalent card product in my area when I started collecting and I remember that being my first choice from 89-94. I’ve mentioned here before that my first real card chase was the Donruss Elite. That’s because Donruss was my card of choice during those days. I liked Upper Deck, Topps and even Fleer for most of those years but they just weren’t stocked like Donruss was in my area. I loved Diamond Kings, loved the MVP cards and loved Rated Rookies. And while Topps had gum, Fleer had stickers and Upper Deck had hologram stickers, I still have a soft spot in my heart for the puzzle pieces offered in the Donruss product. I was thrilled when Panini released a Donruss product in 2014, even though it was unlicensed. I know that there is a large group of collectors today that won’t go near Panini baseball products because of that licensing issue. I’m not one of them. I just have a real love for the Donruss brand and it’s because it was my first purchase.The box came with 36 packs as was pretty standard for the era and the packs had 15 cards and a 3 piece puzzle card. The wrappers are the most beautiful wrappers I’ve ever seen and they make me get a little misty when I see them sitting on a shelf at an LCS. The red fades to blue midway down the pack and the bold yellow BASEBALL PUZZLE & CARDS just grabs my attention like a siren would a nearby sailor in Greek mythology. I’m telling you, there really is nothing I don’t like about 1989 Donruss. It is truly the perfect set in my eyes. Like I said before, I have been waiting to write this one because it is such a special set for me and I wanted to be able to properly convey that in my writing.This set is even where I developed and perfected “my way” of opening packs and looking in the Beckett Magazine for the price. I always wanted a surprise when I ripped packs at that age. I would open the pack and the puzzle would be covering the front card. I could usually see the back card through the pack so it was never a big mystery. I would turn the stack over where I was looking at the back of the last card. I would have the Beckett turned to 1989 Donruss and would slowly slide the back card down to where I could only see the number of the card in front of it. I would got directly to the Beckett and look up that number. I would find out from Beckett if I had a Ken Griffey Jr. or not! I did every card in the pack like that for years and believed that it was the way to keep the suspense alive for 2-3 packs.

Now that I can buy a full box of ’89 Donruss for about $10, I just rip through the packs and spend most of my time sorting. That’s the fun part now, right Cliff (@OriolesRise)? So let’s take a look at what I’m sorting this time around. I’m really hoping for a Canseco from the box top just so I can say it happened this time!The first group of cards in the checklist is the Diamond Kings. I pulled in 15 (plus some dupes) with Gwynn being my favorite.After the Diamond Kings, we find the Rated Rookies. I pulled a solid stack that included Alomar, Sheffield, Jefferies and The Big Unit. I am pleased but unfortunately, no Griffey.There is also a great group of rookies in the set that aren’t “Rated Rookies” but I’m happy with them nonetheless. Smoltz and Biggio especially!The MVP set has always been a sharp set to me. It’s a pretty star studded group too!There were two “sort of inserts” in the high numbers of the checklist. They were the Orel Hershiser “59 And Counting” and the Canseco “40/40 Club” that I pulled in that first pack back in 1989,The stars in the set are the classic guys from the late 80’s and I pulled a nice stack of them!Finally, even though there was no Jr. in the box, this gem meant a lot considering the driving force behind my initial interest in collecting. Even though I have this card already, it meant a lot to pull it tonight as I was immersed in nostalgia. This was the pull of the box without a doubt!

It is just a formality but I have to officially score 1989 Donruss as a 5 on the Dub-O-Meter. There is no product that is more nostalgic. There is no toy or image that takes me back to my childhood like this wax pack. It is the home to my favorite Ken Griffey Jr. rookie. I have grown to love many sets over the years and have even gone back to some I didn’t like and found a way to appreciate them later in life. But none of those sets will ever top 1989 Donruss in my book. We all have those certain sets in our hearts and minds. It is typically the first set you collected or the first pack you bought. It’s hard to ever shake that set if you are still collecting 30 years later. We are still collecting because something clicked that day we opened that first pack. It could be a player or the design of the card or even a color on the card that just makes us want to keep collecting. The hobby changes and innovation is king but there is no feeling like going back and ripping some of the very first product you ever bought. Everyone has memories they will never forget. One of mine is the day I picked up that first wax pack and felt that excitement in my soul.

J-Dub

Scoring Scale

1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.

2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?