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?

1989 Fleer Baseball – Pardon My French!

Buckle up ladies and gents!  I am about to pull back the curtain on a very regrettable moment from my youth.  When I was in the 6th grade, I did something really terrible.  I am ashamed of it now but at the time, I just thought I was being cool.  My parents never really used foul language around our house so when I started watching movies like Beverly Hills Cop and Smokey and The Bandit, I got an introduction to a whole new vocabulary that was taboo.  I knew enough to know the words were wrong to say but I still found them hilarious and I wanted to be a part of the fun.  I never dared to utter the words in front of my parents but I did experiment with them a bit at school with friends.For the most part, it was always just harmless fun and there were some friends who were still “scared” to use that language at 12.  You have to remember what it was like to be a 12 year old for any of this to make sense.  One day it moved from harmless fun to very harmful for me.  The initial details are fuzzy but I remember a friend of mine helping a few of us on a test in class and another friend decided to tell on her.  He went right to the teacher and told on every one of us and none of us were real pleased.  The friend who helped us got in the most trouble and she was probably the least culpable in the situation.  She knew the answers and legitimately passed the test.  It was the rest of us slackers that needed the help.Well, my adolescent brain concocted a response to this young lad that was going to really hit him where it hurt.  I wrote him a note!  Yes, your humble blogger resorted to writing a scathing response to him to try and make him feel bad.  I used some choice language as well! It is not one of my proudest moments.  What my adolescent brain did not factor in was that this kid’s dad was in fact the principal of our middle school.  Trust me, I learned some hard lessons early in life that have taught me to just go with the flow and not be a pot stirrer.  This was one of those instances.  If he went to the teacher and told on us for cheating on a test, what made me think I could get away with a profanity laced note?  THAT I SIGNED!

That letter made its way to the principal and I found myself sitting in his office with my mother.  I got 3 days In School Suspension (honestly, the only time ever) for that note but that was just the tip of the trouble iceberg.  My dad has been a truck driver all my life and when I was school age, he would be gone for several days at a time.  I normally got some sort of punishment from my mom and then got more when he got home and heard the news.  I remember numerous times being paralyzed with fear when I heard that semi pulling into the yard because I had done something stupid while he was gone.  I would be ok when the event happened but would slowly build up dread as I knew it was closer to time for him to be home.  That is partially why I am such a straight shooter today.  My dad ALWAYS finds out when I do something stupid.This time, he came home a few days later while I was at school so when we pulled into the driveway, I saw him and my Uncle Greg working on his truck and I almost immediately started crying.  My mom told me to go tell him what happened.  That was the other horrible part; she didn’t tell him that stuff while he was on the road so he would have time to process it.  Oh no, she made ME tell him when he got home. I remember stumbling through my admission and seeing the anger and disappointment filling his face.  I also remember my Uncle Greg walking around the side of the truck to hide his laughter.  I paid for that stunt in a big way. That was one of those “I didn’t sit down for a week” incidents and I lost all of my Nintendo privileges.  I probably didn’t say a cuss word again until I was 17 or 18.  And I look over my shoulder today when I say one…..at 40!Coincidentally, a card company had a profane faux pas that very same year.  I didn’t know about it until much later in my collecting days but if my parents had found out about that at the time, I probably wouldn’t have been allowed to collect cards either.  Fleer produced a pretty solid set in 1989 and there were some very good rookies in that set that included Ken Griffey Jr., Gary Sheffield, Randy Johnson, Craig Biggio and John Smoltz.  But 28 years later, the set is most well known for a veteran player in the checklist that had a relatively quiet career aside from his last name and his 1989 Fleer.  Most of you know by now but that player was Billy Ripken of the Baltimore Orioles.

Ripken’s 1989 Fleer Card #616 has several versions but the first one to hit the printing press had the words “F**K FACE” written in big black letters on the knob of the bat.  Somehow this got by Ripken, the photographer AND Fleer and made its way into stores and into the hands of the public.  It didn’t take too long to get noticed but by then, the damage had been done.  Fleer jumped in and whited out the words and started reprinting the cards.  There are 4 basic versions but as you can see on www.billripken.com, there are many variations to these versions.  And yes, this card has its own website.  The 4 basic variations are as follows:
1. The Original Version
2. The White Out Version
3. The Black Scribbles Version
4. The Black Box Version

Even though there were multiple attempts to cover the obscenity, all of the versions made their way into packs over the production run.  From what I can tell, the White Out version appears to be the rarest of the variations but there are variations of those variations and I’m already neck deep in 1991 Topps so I just can’t go there.  Fleer tried to backtrack and Ripken himself dodged it for a while before coming clean in an Interview with Sports Business Reporter, Darren Rovell, in 2008 about the origination of the phrase.  There are a ton of stories but this one came from Ripken himself.  He is quoted as saying;

“I got a dozen bats in front of my locker during the 1988 season.  I pulled the bats out, model R161 ,and noticed – because of the grain patterns – that they were too heavy.  But I decided I’d use one of them, at the very least, for my batting practice bat.  Now I had to write something on the bat.  At Memorial Stadium, the bat room was not too close to the clubhouse, so I wanted to write something that I could find immediately if I looked up and it was a 4:44 and I had to get out there on the field a minute later and not be late.  There were five big grocery carts full of bats in there and if I wrote my number 3, it could be too confusing. So I wrote “F**K” Face on it.

After the season was over, in early January, I got a call from our PR guy Rick Vaughn (Wild Thing?).  He said, “Billy, we have a problem.” And he told me what was written on the bat and I couldn’t believe it.  I went to a store and saw the card and it all came back to me.  We were in Fenway Park and I had just taken my first round of BP.  I threw my bat to the third base side and strolled around the bases.  When I was coming back, right before I got up to hit again, I remember a guy tapping me on the shoulder asking if he could take my picture.  Never once did I think about it.  I posed for the shot and he took it.

I tried to deflect it as much as I could.  It was fairly easy to say that somebody got me with a joke because people think you’re the scum of the earth for doing something like this.  The truth is that there’s a lot of words like that that are thrown around in the clubhouse.  They just don’t get out there.”

He went on to say that he “can’t believe the people at Fleer couldn’t catch that” and then turned the screws by saying, “I think not only did they see it, they enhanced it.  The writing on that bat is way too clear.  I don’t write that neat.  I think they knew that once they saw it, they could use the card to create an awful lot of stir.”  And he was right about creating an awful lot of stir.  1989 Baseball cards are known for a few specific things; overproduction, Ken Griffey Jr., error cards and Billy Ripken’s Fleer.  If it was intentional, Fleer may have gotten a little blowback in the beginning but the story has had tremendous legs and I still find the hunt for the original and variations intriguing almost 3 decades later.  It would seem that it played out in their favor all these years later.So I picked up a box on a recent trip to a card shop.  I don’t know if the packs are searched or anything.  It was cheap so I bought it.  At the very least, I might pull one of those nice rookies.  The design itself was quite different than the one before it in 1988 and after in 1989.  1988 used a similar design to 1984 with the white border and colorful accents while 1990 went with a plain white border design.  1989 used a gray border with vertical white stripes at the top and bottom.  The player photo was in the middle of the card and most of them jumped out of the horizontal photo border to create somewhat of a 3D effect.  There was a thin line at the top and bottom of the photo in the team color while the player name, position and team logo was in the top border.  The Fleer logo was the only writing at the bottom of the card.The backs of the cards had the same, albeit a little darker, gray border with vertical stripes but had highlighter yellow to draw attention to the stats and player info.  A large portion of the back was just plain white stock unless the player had many years of service.  There was also a “Did You Know” and “Before and After All-Star” section on the cards that were afforded the room.  I have to say that it is one of my favorite 80’s designs.  I don’t know if that’s because of just how “80’s” it is or what but I enjoy 1989 Fleer immensely.  The wrappers weren’t my favorites as that designation is reserved for ’89 Donruss and ’90 Fleer but they scream ’89 Fleer as soon as you see them.  The box contains 36 packs with 15 cards and one sticker in each.  So let’s get down to the nitty gritty and bust this thing open.We’ll start with the box bottom.  As with many boxes in the 80’s, there were some cards only available on box bottoms.  My 4 were the Tigers Team Card, George Brett, Alan Trammell and Mike Greenwell.As stated above, every pack came with a sticker.  There were two options with the sticker; one had a full team logo and the other had 4 smaller team stickers.The “insert” card for ’89 Fleer was the All-Star card.  I pulled 4 with Bobby Bo, Paul Molitor, Orel Hershiser and Alan Trammell.  Fleer All-Star cards would go the artist sketch route soon after.There were also several horizontal cards depicting record breaking or marquee moments from the previous baseball season.  These horizontal cards also included dual prospects.  This particular card was one of my favorites because I was a HUGE Canseco fan back in the day.  This one commemorated his 40-40 season in 1988.The rookie stack I pulled was pretty impressive.  I pulled 4 Hall of Famers on the bottom row and some other fun names that I had forgotten from the ’89 Rookie Class.  Very nice box of rookies!The next photo covers some of the stars that we all loved to collect in the late 80’s.  These guys were hot in the hobby at various times and highly collectible.  Eric Davis was one of my favorites.The final stack was the Legends of the Junk Wax Era.  These guys were some of the biggest names you could get.  Most of these guys are Hall of Famers today and others probably should be.  I’m looking at you Roger Clemens.As for Billy Ripken, I learned something new today.  I learned that you can actually pull two different variations from the same box.  Like I said before, I don’t know if this box was clean but with the names I pulled, I would think that it was pretty close.  With that said, I pulled both the Black Scribbles and Black Box variations of the Billy.  I owned the Black Box version already but am happy to add the Black Scribble to my PC.This was an awesome box to revisit.  It will get a score of 5 on the Dub-O-Meter and it’s as solid a 5 as I can give.  The rookie class is great and loaded with Hall of Famer’s that can be had cheap.  There are also some cool variation chase cards if you like that sort of thing.  The Ripken card is one of those “iconic” cards from the Junk Wax Era and opening packs to try to find one is always fun, no matter how many you already have.  We all go back to being 12 years old when we see that card.  I like the design of the card and the presentation of the player photo but the only drawback is that there are fewer action shots than posed shots.  That doesn’t slow me down a bit though as that was typical of Fleer for many years.  I will always be partial to 1989 Donruss because it’s the first set I collected.  But if I’m being honest, Fleer is likely the best set from that year.  I just didn’t have a lot of access to it locally when I was a kid so I collected it after its newness wore off.  It remains one of my favorite wax rips today though and I’m sure you’d enjoy it too.  Find yourself a cheap box and go on the hunt for Billy!  You won’t regret it!

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?

1991 Donruss – The Elite Quest

When I was in the 9th grade (1991), I was obsessed with a PC game called Space Quest Chapter 2 – Vohaul’s Revenge.  This was before a lot of the RPG games were released and I thought it was really cool.  All of the Nintendo games at the time were basically “games with a little story” and this was a “story with a little game”.  Before Nintendo, the Atari just had games that were nearly impossible to beat unless you were some sort of genius that could figure out patterns and tendencies of the CPU opponent.  Up until SQ2, the closest I had gotten to an RPG was Bedlam on the Tandy 1000.  Bedlam was a text only game that gave you options throughout the experience and your survival was based on the choices you made.  Does anyone remember this game or am I dating myself?Back to SQ2. This game sticks in my mind because I discovered it the first year I took keyboarding in high school.  We would learn how to type for half of the class and then play games like Space Quest and Oregon Trail (another great one) for the other half of the class.  We could even get extra credit if we came in before school or during lunch to work on the computer.  I used my lunch period for basketball but I did make it in to the keyboarding class a few times before homeroom to work on Space Quest.  I was offered extra credit to play PC games!  Who wouldn’t have taken advantage of that?  I wish my Trigonometry class had offered such a sweet deal!My goal was to complete SQ2 before the end of the semester.  I have always been somewhat of a completionist with video games and try to finish what I start.  That has been detrimental at times because I will spend too much time focused on one game and miss something else that comes out.  I’ve been playing Borderlands 2 since Christmas 2016 and am painfully close to finishing it.  I got 3 games for Christmas and haven’t even cracked the wrapper on the other 2.  Granted, I don’t have as much time to play video games anymore but I still enjoy getting lost in the pixelated world of make believe.As I played through SQ2, I found myself stumped at various intervals.  You controlled your player, Roger Wilco, with the arrow buttons but you had to type what you wanted him to do, i.e. pick berries.  The berry picking came during the maze screen which had a living plant with roots stretched out over the screen.  You had to navigate the roots to get to the berries.  I remember being on this screen for about a week!  I would wander aimlessly from screen to screen and just command Roger to do certain things until it worked.  I was totally flying by the seat of my pants.  I would learn that the berries were to be smashed and rubbed all over Roger so he would be able to walk through a swamp where a creature was waiting to eat him.  The berries would cause a bad aftertaste and allow him to survive.  That protective action of smashing the berries took about 3 weeks to figure out.I played this game for 9 solid weeks.  I played this game every day for over 2 months and didn’t finish it.  I made it through the jungle planet, found my way to the escape ship and flew back to Vohaul’s Asteroid.  Once on the asteroid, I even made it to Vohaul’s chamber and was shrunken down and placed in a glass globe.  It was here that I realized that I missed something along the way.  I missed the item that would free me from the glass globe.  My mission and semester ended with me completely unfulfilled and wondering what finishing the game was like.  Not until today did I go to YouTube and watch the last few minutes of the walkthrough and realized that I was mere moments from completing the game.  A glass cutter on Level 3 in the janitorial closet cost me success.  One small oversight!Sometimes we take for granted what little decisions we make or don’t make can ultimately cost us.  Because I had grown weary of the minutia of aimlessly wandering Vohaul’s Asteroid, I lost sight of the goal. I just wanted to be done.  Enter another quest that started in 1991that I have yet to complete.  I had a golden opportunity to complete it very early on but a small decision that I made cost me.  When ’91 Donruss hit the market, they introduced a new “chase card” in the hobby that has driven me crazy for the last 26 years; The Elite Series.  I have one in my safe, a ’92 graded Ken Griffey Jr, but I bought it off of eBay because just like in SQ2, I had grown weary of the minutia of aimlessly searching packs for that golden ticket.I would buy small pack lots online or I would pick up loose packs when I would find them at the LCS or a junk store.  I’ve opened what feels like 1,000,000 packs of 1991 Donruss but I’ve never pulled an Elite Series card.  I did pull a Robin Yount Legend Series from 1992 but I am still looking for that beautiful marbled design of ’91 Elite.  Like throwing the switch on Vohaul’s Life Support System, the satisfaction of pulling this card has eluded me.  Unlike SQ2, I don’t have to have an old school computer and floppy disks to finally realize that dream.  In the case of this particular box, it cost me a solid .99 and $5.00 shipping.  That’s not a bad price to chase a dream!Before we get to this box and as I mentioned above, I had my chance in 1991.  My friend David and I used to stay over at each others house on the weekend and we were always begging for packs of cards at Wal-Mart so we could open and trade.  We would usually buy different products so we could spread out the different designs and pulls amongst each other.  I remember liking football cards more than David at the time but I still collected all sports.  I believe I bought several packs of Pro Line Football while he got the Donruss baseball packs on this fateful trip.  I was looking for the Pro Line autograph insert at the time.  I never pulled that either but David did uncover an Andre Dawson Elite Series in one of those Donruss packs and I will forever remember the day that I passed on Donruss to go after an autograph of Santa Claus!So here I am back at the well again and going to take a stab at a box of ’91 Donruss.  The cards themselves are a much improved version from 1990, which was the deep ketchup red.  The new design includes a blue border that is much easier on the eyes.  The name and position is at the bottom of the card and is no longer in the cursive font from the previous year.  There is a definite ‘90’s flair with the neon tire tread marks and random hot colored lines on the blue border but that is part of the retro allure for me when I go back to ’91 Donruss.  The set was broken up into two series’ with 386 cards in Series 1 and 384 in Series 2 for a total of 770 cards.  This was a massive set to say the least.  The box held 36 packs with 15 cards and a puzzle piece in each.  The puzzle for 1991 was Willie Stargell.Diamond Kings returned as a Donruss staple.  I collected most of the DK set with this box break missing only Ramon Martinez, Edgar Martinez, Dave Righetti, Pedro Guerrero and the Checklist.  There are some big 90’s names here with Clemens, Larkin, Bonds and Sandberg.  The best name is obviously the Ron Gant!The Rated Rookie Class was actually pretty solid at the time this set was released.  Bernard Gilkey, Derek Bell, Moises Alou, Tino Martinez and Ray Lankford were all desirable names.  The biggest name was Phil Plantier.  He was highly sought after in 1991.Series 1 included the American League All Stars and I pulled; Steve Sax, Ken Griffey Jr., Jose Canseco, Sandy Alomar Jr., Cal Ripken Jr., Rickey Henderson, Bob Welch and Wade Boggs.  The A’s were well represented.I also pulled several players that were pretty high on my prospect board in 1991.  They were high on most everyone’s board as a matter of fact.  These players included Alex Fernandez, Jerome Walton, Jerald Clark, Jim Abbott, Gregg Jefferies and Eric Anthony.The ’91 set was loaded with stars from the 80’s and 90’s.  I can’t list them all but look at this spread!  Jr., Ryan, Clemens, McGwire, Glavine, Big Unit, Boggs, Brett, Wizard, Cal, Gwynn and Doc are just a handful of the names available here.Finally, it wouldn’t be 1991 without a terribly miscut card.  Here is a Craig Biggio DK for your viewing pleasure.  I wonder how this would grade out!Alas, no Elite Series found within this box.  I did find the hero and the goat from Braves Playoff lore.  It was a box that was still sealed in the Donruss packaging so should be pretty clean for the most part.  I have seen odds ranging from 1 in 4-5 cases.  Think about that for a minute.  There were 8 Elite Cards numbered to 10,000.  There were 2 other Elite cards that included a Ryne Sandberg Auto (#’d to 5,000) and Nolan Ryan Legend (#’d to 7,500).  That is 92,500 cards spread out over approximately 4 cases per.  That is 370,000 cases with 20 boxes per case.  Using my trusty calculator, that is at least 7,400,000 boxes for a total of 266,400,000 packs!!  Now, break that down into the card total of 3,996,000,000!  So the pull rate for 92,500 Elite Cards spread out over 4 Billion??  That means that 1 in every 43,000 cards was potentially that sweet Elite insert!  My head is spinning right now!As for the set itself, the design is good and the checklist is loaded with former stars.  The rookie class in Series 1 didn’t really pan out with the exception of Moises Alou and Tino Martinez.  Diamond Kings were run of the mill but would get an overhaul in the very near future.  I can only give this set a Dub Score of 3.  If the Elite Cards weren’t quite so elusive, maybe it would get a 4 but I need odds better than one in every 80 boxes to feel like I have a good shot.  It’s not a bad set but it’s nothing that I go crazy over when I see it sitting on a shelf.  If it’s under $10, I’ll probably buy just for the chance of the Elite Card.  Maybe one day I’ll pull one and I’ll bump the score up.  But until then, this is an improvement from ’90 and a better effort than ’91 Score and Fleer.  Nothing more, nothing less.

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?

Saturday Morning Cardtoons

When I was a kid, I lived for waking up on Saturday mornings and camping out in front of the TV for cartoons.  Cartoons didn’t mess around in the 80’s.  Today, they probably wouldn’t seem kid friendly and we’re sometimes even kinda violent but I loved them.  Seriously, watch an old Tom and Jerry cartoon today.  Jerry will chase after Tom with a 2 foot butcher knife while Tom tries to split Jerry in half with an ax!  All the while Spike is trying to eat Tom and protect Jerry.  Maybe you don’t have kids and aren’t experiencing today’s cartoons but trust me, the stuff we used to watch would never pass the ratings test today.  Mickey Mouse Clubhouse teaches how to count and spell while the Mickey Mouse I watched as a kid chased Pluto around and called him a stupid mutt.Looney Tunes wasn’t a whole lot better.  Remember Elmer Fudd hunting Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny?  How many times did Daffy or Bugs make the barrel of the shotgun bend around and shoot Elmer?  Would you let your kids watch cartoons with shotguns today?  I watch anything and everything on TV but I am careful about what my kids watch.  Well, except for one cartoon exception I’ll get to in a minute.  What about Wiley Coyote and Road Runner?  They tried their best to murder each other for entire episodes.  There was poisoned food, anvils and rockets all being used to end the life of the opposing cartoon character.  Many times so one could eat the other.  Let that sink in the next time you think something your kid is watching may be too violent.

Then there were actual fighting cartoons like Transformers, He-Man, Thundercats, Mask and GI Joe.  The entire cast of characters were weaponized and had special fighting skills.  Transformers was my personal favorite but He-Man was pretty big for a while too.  I remember having the Castle of Grayskull toy with He-Man, Battle Cat, Skeletor, Man at Arms and Panthor.  My favorite toy though was Man E Faces because you could rotate his head inside his helmet and he could change into a monster.  I spent many hours battling for the supremacy of Eternia.  Man, I miss He-Man!As I got older, The Simpsons were introduced and I lived on that for quite a while.  I was never as big of a Simpson’s guy as my cousin Adam but I watched it on the regular.  Adam had the Nintendo games and collector cards for Simpsons.  He could also quote all the lines from the Itchy and Scratchy Show.  We then moved to Ren and Stimpy and I can still sit down and watch an episode if I catch it on late at night.  My favorite episode was when they played the board game, “Don’t Whiz On The Electric Fence.”  As you can see, the cartoons got more R rated as I got older.The one that I still watch today, and will let my daughter watch on occasion, when I know it’s a reasonable episode, is King of the Hill.  I actually have my DVR set to record it every night and I will go on a binge from time to time and rip off 5 or 6 episodes in a sitting.  I have seen them all multiple times but they never get old.  Hank Hill is a man’s man and he lives life the right way.  I can quote most of the episodes and even try to do a “Damnit Bobby” impression from time to time.  I only imagine that Nathan Gunderson is living a life like Hank because that’s the way it is in Texas.What does this have to do with baseball cards?  Well in 1993, the two combined to produce a unique baseball card product called Cardtoons.  This was a 95 card parody set that included MLB player cartoons on the front and crazy highlights on the back.  And while they are dated ’93, they weren’t actually released until later in ’94.  I remember finding them childish when they came out because I was trying to find Tony Gwynn autographs and $100 Elite inserts.  My opinion has changed a little since then.  I now see them as pretty interesting and a humorous look back at players from the 80’s and 90’s.  They aren’t very valuable but they are pretty fun.  There’s also a pretty interesting lawsuit you can read about in which MLB sued Cardtoons because they didn’t have an MLB license.  The courts found that a parody card didn’t fall into the category of a reproduction and Cardtoons eventually won the case.The box I have for this post includes 36 packs with 8 cards per pack.  The checklist was pretty solid for early 90’s and they even had 5 insert sets.  The most sought after of the inserts were the Grand Slam Foil cards.  They were tough to pull back when I couldn’t buy a full box.  Not that I ever wanted a full box of Cardtoons back when I was 16, but the foil cards were really cool.  In fact, I like the art on the cards and I think the cards would probably be more sought after if they were inserts as opposed to parodies.  So let’s check out the box break.

Rambo Canseco
Mark McBash

Ryne Sandbox

Ozzie Myth

Tony Twynn

Reggie October

Cal Ripkenwinkle

Will Clock

Franken Thomas

Ken Spiffy Jr.

Just Air Jordan

I was able to pull something from all 5 Insert sets and they were actually more fun than I remember.  The Field of Greed 9 card insert set formed a larger photo which was a pretty bold shot at the previous work stoppages and the current state of the game with the ’94 Strike.  My favorites though are the Foil inserts.  The photos really don’t do them justice as they are very colorful and striking.

The Politics
Field Of Greed

The Replacements

Big Bang Bucks

Grand Slam Foil

And lastly….My Atlanta Braves

This set was not welcomed by the MLBPA and Cardtoons was pretty blunt about what they thought of the strike.  You have to remember that this was a very difficult time for baseball.  The fans were very upset with what was going and many of us were turning away from baseball and card collecting because of it.  The strike was a big reason for me entering my Dark Period.  It’s all water under the bridge 23 years later and the cards can be taken as just a part of the culture at that time.  I enjoyed ripping this box and was very pleased with my Foil pickups.  I put the whole set together, including the Field of Greed and Politics insert sets.  The box only cost $13 and the cards were all in good shape and held up well over time.If you’re in a silly mood and want to go back and enjoy some art cards, this is a box to try.  The names are a little bit of a reach at times but the art saves most of the corny comedy.  I am probably leaning towards a 4 on the Dub-O-Meter because it’s a cheap box, the art is good and the Foil cards are excellent.  Don’t expect a lot of “bang” outside of the Foil but the backs of the cards do have some funny tidbits.  So while it’s not the King of the Hill when it comes to sportscards, it’s definitely better than Thundarr the Barbarian.

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?

1986 Topps Traded – Heeeerrrrrreeee’s Jose!

1986 was a pretty eventful year for both the country and for your humble sports blogger. Some events were awesome, some were frightening and some were just downright tragic! I was 9 and certain things freeze in your mind at that age that you carry with you for the rest of your life. Not every memory sticks but the ones that do are pretty important and meaningful, whether good or bad. 1986 was loaded with them and really stands as a pivotal year in my youth.

The year started with a horrible tragedy witnessed by most of the world on national television. In January, one of America’s most memorable disasters happened when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded about a minute after launching from Cape Canaveral, Florida. I was actually 8 when this happened with my birthday being in February and I, like many other school children at the time, watched this unfold on live television. This was an important launch because a teacher, Christa McAuliffe was chosen among 11,000 applicants to participate in the NASA Teacher In Space program. She was going to teach a few lessons from space on the ship and I remember it being a really big deal.

I can still see the image of those astronauts walking through a galley and smiling and waving at a crowd of people. It’s one of those moments that I’ll carry with me forever. We all have those certain moments and this is definitely one of mine. I remember just staring at the TV trying to figure out what happened. The adults didn’t know what to say. The kids didn’t really even know what we were actually seeing. It was a horrible tragedy that took the lives of all 7 astronauts and captivated the nation. The compartment that held the crew was eventually found on the ocean floor with all crew members still inside. Such a haunting moment in our history.On a much more upbeat note but still frightening for me personally, I saw The Shining for the first time that year as well. You may be asking how a 9 year old would wind up seeing The Shining. Well, I don’t really remember how it happened. I just know that I was at the summer babysitter’s house and she had an older son who had the movie on the tube. I remember the first time I saw those creepy twins in the hallway. I had one of those big wheel tricycles and I was horrified at the thought of riding it around that haunted hotel. That movie could’ve broken me at that early age but thankfully, I’ve stuck with horror movies as my favorite genre into adulthood. I still watch that movie on a somewhat regular basis and I think about how paralyzing some parts were to me but I couldn’t look away. When he burst into the bathroom with an axe and said, “Heeerrreee’s Johnny!”, I almost threw in the towel.Another movie I watched that year was actually a new flick. Top Gun hit the big screen and it was more my speed at 9. I do remember being pretty broken up about Goose dying (spoiler alert) though. The best/worst memory from that movie was when Ice Man said he was “dangerous” and made a horrible clenching of his teeth that even gave us kids douche chills. I was not a fan of Ice. It was the first movie that made me hate Michael Ironside too. He knew Maverick got him whether he was below the hard deck or not – sore loser. And even in 1986, the volleyball scene seemed so out of place and unnecessary. All in all though, it was a classic movie and still very watchable to this day. There is even a rumor of a new Top Gun Reboot coming out in 2019 that will star Maverick himself, Tom Cruise. The jury is still out on that idea.

So as you can see, I’m not lying about how packed the year was with events and memorable moments. But the year was packed with something else that hits closer to home with this blog. 1986 was a tremendous year for Rookies in MLB. Specifically, the ’86 Topps Traded set was loaded. Everybody clamored for the ’86 Donruss Canseco Rated Rookie, and rightfully so. But the ’86 Topps Traded set included a few players that wouldn’t be included in other sets until 1987 so it was really a sneak peek at the ’87 hotness that was coming.The ’86 Topps Design has always seemed like one of those “you either love or hate” sets. But I have personally always loved the design. It was a total change from the previous few years with the heavy black border at the top so as to include the team name. Unfortunately, the black top border has caused nightmares with grading over the years and a “10” is quite elusive. The backs of the cards were a pinkish red that I really liked, which may come as a surprise to those who know I dislike the deep ketchup red of ’90 Donruss. But this red was more subtle and soothing to the retina. They differ slightly from the base set as the red is deeper there. The Traded Set came with 132 cards, including a checklist that included later season rookies and players that had been on the move during the season.The set can be found for $10-$15 and represents a very affordable buy if you are in the market for some big name 80’s rookies. Here are a few that are included.

Barry Bonds – The future “home run king” had very memorable ’87 Donruss and Topps cards but this ’86 Traded was ahead of the curve.

Bobby Bonilla – Here with the White Sox but would soon become a teammate of Bonds in Pitt. He had no clue at this point that he would be a millionaire way into his retirement thanks to a terrible contract on behalf of the Mets.

Jose Canseco – The famous “what am I doing here” face was Jose’s first Topps card. I wish people would give Canseco cards the respect they deserve!

Will Clark – Ultimately underrated in the collecting word today, Will Clark was a superstar in San Francisco. And his middle name was Nuschler

Andres Galarraga – The Big Cat would star in other markets but got his start north of the border in Montreal. He was beloved in Atlanta.

Bo Jackson – The greatest athlete of my generation – Vincent Edward Jackson. Side note for those who didn’t know. He got the name “Bo” from his brothers who called him a Bo “Boar” Hog when he was a kid.

Wally Joyner – Another 1B that is underrated by today’s collectors but was very good in his playing days.

John Kruk – Honestly, I can’t get past the filthy hat and Padres brown shirt. His body type eventually led to a move to 1B, much like mine in softball today.

Kevin Mitchell – If you watched baseball in the late 80’s, you know Kevin Mitchell. He was an absolute terror in the batters box and even caught an Ozzie Smith flyball barehanded in the outfield once That you have to see to believe!. Just a monster!

Danny Tartabull – Tartabull was another beast at the plate during his career. He also helped George Costanza avoid a road rage incident on Seinfeld once.

Managers – There are even a couple of big name rookie managers in this set too!

Airbrush – I couldn’t complete a post on ’86 Topps Traded without a couple of examples of the horrendous airbrush jobs. This Seaver and Claudell are really bad but there are others. The Griffey Sr. above is weak as well.

Did I mention there were a ton of rookies in this set? 1986 Topps Traded is a very affordable set and is a great one to own because of some of the big names included. I love this Traded Set and these players are part of the MLB I grew up with. To me, this would have been a great time to start collecting if I hadn’t been abusing my own psyche by watching movies like The Shining. I do remember collecting some Star Wars stuff around this time but it didn’t stick and baseball cards eventually took center stage. Fortunately, I can go back and buy these sets now and they are cheaper than some shiny variation of a middle reliever in 2017 Bowman Platinum. This set is a perfect example of what I like to sort through when I sit down and go card rummaging. Star power and affordability make this a 5 for me. It could get a knock by some for the design and lack of mint condition in most cases but I like the design and I’m not getting these graded anytime soon.

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 Pro Set Hits The “Prime Time”

I remember certain times in my life when I was the new kid.  I was the outsider trying to enter into a world which I had not previously been a part of and trying to fit in.  We’ve all been there at some point in our lives.  Maybe it was the first day at a new school or the first day at camp.  It may have been a new summer baseball team or a new neighborhood.  Whatever situation it may have been, I’m sure you can think of at least once where you have felt like the newbie who had to prove yourself or show that you belonged.  I most recently felt that way when I joined the sports card twitter community.I have been on some form of social media since AOL dial up back in 1998.  I remember the awe that I felt when I could “instant message” someone in another state just by looking up profiles and seeing if they were online.  It felt like something from Back to the Future with the video phones and digital billboards.  It was a little scary at the same time because you never really knew if you were talking to the person who claimed to be on the other end.  I first started out communicating with my personal friends but eventually I branched out into the cyber world.Then MySpace came along and revolutionized social media to the point of where you could add photos to your homepage, link your favorite music and even design the background to your preference.  Everybody’s first friend was Tom on MySpace and I think he’s still there.  That was where people were starting to promote their brands and you could learn more than you ever wanted to know about them.  MySpace was top of the line at one point in time.  FaceBook would eventually take over and it still remains the most popular social media site among most people (totally a guess).When Twitter first caught my eye, I was skeptical.  I created an account in August of 2009.  Wow, I didn’t know that it had been so long until I just checked my settings.  Eight years later, I’m sitting on 255 followers and they are mostly friends, family and a few sports fans.  I never put a lot of focus on Twitter because FaceBook and my blog seemed to be the best form of communication.  Plus, there is a very negative side to Twitter as well because anybody and everybody can @ mention you when they want to bust your balls.  But I eventually found the sports card community through Bean’s Ballcard Blog (@beansbcargblog).  I don’t really even remember how it happened other than one of my card related blog posts got a retweet and my traffic exploded.I’ve always enjoyed writing (especially about cards), whether just in a notebook or for public consumption via the blog.  I’ve just never been able to find a broad enough audience that could relate and share their experiences.  A lot of my friends from high school stopped collecting a long time ago.  And while they appreciate the occasional blog post about baseball cards, they don’t really sit on the edge of their seat waiting on my review of 2017 Panini Classics.  In fact, I don’t know if anyone even does that now if I’m being honest.  But I noticed a connection with people almost immediately upon Kin sharing that blog post.I had spent the previous couple of years just writing about whatever was on my mind and occasionally hopping on Twitter to see what was trending.  I have a 24/7 brain and it keeps me up most nights because it will never turn off.  I discovered that writing could help me unclutter my head from time to time and after some prodding from my family, the blog was born in 2015.  Even after I started the blog, I just aimlessly chose a topic and started writing.  It was ‘t until my post got shared with like minded card collectors that it all seemed to click.  I knew the subject that I really wanted to write about all along and I finally found more than a handful of people who were interesting in reading it.I have collected for 28+ years and have been writing privately for almost as long.  And with the help of a kind stranger, I was able to find an audience as well.  So with that, my alter-ego Twitter page, Dub Mentality, was born.  Dub has been a nickname for several years because my middle initial is W.  It’s J-Dub, Dub, Dubya, you name it.  So I began writing more about cards and I started adding followers that seemed to like the same thing I did.  Again, I never knew the Twitter Card World existed and I missed out on it for far too long.  But once I found it, I embraced it like I was 12 and opening my first pack again.Here’s where the new kid part comes in.  As is my own nature, the Twitter Community was originally skeptical of me I’m sure.  I would pick up a follower or two here and there.  I kept writing and kept reaching out to important people in the hobby like Eric Norton and Ryan Cracknell to try and navigate this new world.  I picked up the occasional MLB player as a follower, including my favorite player Ron Gant (thanks to somewhat of a Twitter movement started by NRUSSweTRUST).  But all the while, I’ve kept blogging and trying to share my experiences with other people.  And that’s what’s so cool about this whole community.  I haven’t had to be anyone I’m not in order to fit in.  I am being J-Dub, who likes sports cards, 90’s references, old cheesy movies and Deftones and I have found other people who actually like those same things!I have experienced in the last few months what we should all experience in a perfect world.  Coming together with people who share similar interests and talking, sharing and being there for each other.  If somebody on my timeline catches me talking about something I’ve been looking for, it all of a sudden shows up at my door.  I try to do the same thing.  When I see people really like something I share that I don’t PC, it’s likely going to them in the next mail run.  I think that is the way the hobby should work.  It is a hobby after all.  And at some point, we all lost ourselves in the business aspect of card collecting and it became less enjoyable.  I’m not there anymore and that’s thanks in large part to the new community that welcomed me in like one of their own.  I didn’t feel like a new kid for too long.I know it’s a bit of a reach but I am going to bring this full circle and talk about another new kid on the block in 1989.  No, I’m not talking about Jordan Knight.  If you get that joke, you earn the respect of Dub.  If you don’t, you are probably too young to know what I’m talking about.  In 1989, Ludwell Denny, an oil as described on the back of his football card, obtained a football card license from the NFL and began printing Pro Set football cards.  Topps had been the only game in town until 1989, with the exception of Bowman in the 50’s.  There may have been some brands here and there but by and large, Topps was the player.  In ’89 that changed with the introduction of Pro Set and Score.  They opened the door for Fleer, Pro Line, Action Packed and countless others to begin producing football cards.I have established here on the blog before that 1989 was my rookie year of collecting.  I happened to join the fray when a lot of others were jumping in.  Don’t forget Upper Deck and Bowman’s return in baseball.  Basketball saw Hoops start printing cardboard and Skybox would be one year later.  But in football, Pro Set was a new, colorful design that was very popular in my collection.  Score turned out to be the cash cow but hindsight is 20/20 right?  Anyhow, Pro Set was readily available at Wal Mart, Piggly Wiggly and Big B in my home town and when I wanted football that was the pack I bought.  Dubbed as “The Official NFL Card”, Pro Set was also the Official NFL Card of Dub.The set was broken up into two series’ and included only a few inserts.  Those inserts were a 30 card Announcers set and a 23 card Super Bowl Logo set.  It is known for its strong rookie class of Barry Sanders, Troy Aikman, Derrick Thomas and Deion Sanders.  There was also a new insert with Santa Claus on it.  I don’t really know how Santa made it into the set but I know that collectors still like to pull that card when ripping Pro Set.  The set was made up of 561 cards and a wax box came with 36 packs of 14 cards, 1 Extra Point Game Piece and 1 Super Bowl Collectible.The design of the card is pretty memorable as Pro Set used a base color for different teams that included purple, green, orange, red and blue.  There were small white lines on either side of the card slightly reminiscent of ’86 Donruss.  The players name was in the center at the top with the NFL and Conference Logo on either side.  The bottom of the card had the Pro Set slogan, “Pro Set – The Official NFL Card.”  The backs of the cards had a small inset photo of the player, which was a deviation from the years of Topps with no photo on the back.  The back also included statistical information, highlights from their career and the usual vital stats that included birth and draft information.The set has a nice mixture of 80’s and 90’s stars as pictured above.  These were some of the best players in NFL history and any card with them is worthy of a spot in my PC.There were also several Tecmo Super Bowl stars that I would use to dominate the competition on NES.  While they may not have been household names worthy of mention with Montana and Rice, they were definite studs in the gaming world.The coaches were depicted on cards just as managers in baseball.  There are several notable names here including Bill Parcells, Sam Wyche, Chuck Noll and Mike Shanahan with the Raiders.These were the Super Bowl Cards that were included 1 per pack.  I ripped through 20 packs and pulled these 4 over and over.  At this rate, it would take a full case to build the Super Bowl Logo set.  This set should be worth a mint!While I opened a Series 1 box, which I picked up at the LCS for $9.95, I do own the big rookies so I thought I would share them here as well.Even though I didn’t win a trip to the Pro Bowl, I consider the box a success.  For under $10, you are really just looking for nostalgic value and this box had a ton.  If you are trying to score the big rookies, you have to go with a Series 2 box but if you just want to take an inexpensive trip down memory lane, you could do a lot worse than 1989 Pro Set.  The cards were in good condition in the “baggy” packaging and there was no UV coating or Gum getting in the way.  I loaded up with duplicates of Kelly, Montana, Bo and Elway.  It’s really a nice value for late 80’s football.  In fact, it is a fraction of what a box of Score costs.  I’d rip another box without any problem and just add more Falcons and legends to my PC.  It’s not a set that will knock you dead but it still holds up in my opinion.  The cost, rookies available and checklist of superstars makes this a solid 4 on the Dub-O-Meter.

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?