Saturday, December 30, 2017

1955 Topps Milwaukee Braves Team Set

     I've been getting a bunch of 1955 Topps cards in the mail lately, and have just closed in on 200 cards out of the 206 card set.  I'm actually still waiting on 4 more cards to arrive, so technically, I sitting at 196 cards.  Today, I received a Chuck Tanner #161 card to complete the Braves team set.  With only 6 cards left to go, I still don't expect to complete this set anytime soon.  I can see myself adding 4 more cards to the collection soon for a total of 204 cards, but completing the last 2 cards in the set is probably going to take a while.  I don't think that I've ever spent more than $100 for a single card before.  Acquiring the Roberto Clemente and Sandy Koufax rookie cards is definitely going to break a spending record for me, and 1955 is not yet a priority.  I've been missing 3 cards from the 1954 Topps set for a couple of years now because of the Willie Mays, Ernie Banks, and Al Kaline rookie cards.  Here's my Braves team set pulled straight out of the binder starting with Warren Spahn, and ending with Joe Jay.

Preparing my 1965 Topps Set for Completion

     With only 82 of 598 cards left to go before completing the 1965 Topps set, I decided to organize it into "set formation".  This means that I go from starting each new team from the beginning of a new page, to starting each new team from where the last one left off.  The 1965 Topps set fills nearly 67 binder pages.  When I first started collecting this set, I divided 67 pages into two 1" binders and started off each team with a fresh page.  After doing this for a few sets, I learned that the pages start to run out when I get below 100 missing cards for a 600-card set.  That's when I start figuring out how many cards I'm missing from each team so that I can leave that number of spaces at the end of each team set.  When completed, my set should end in the 4th slot of the 67th page.       

     Here's the tally sheet I used to make the calculations.  My numbers didn't match the first time around so I went through the cycle again and discovered a simple error.  My checklists said I was missing 81 cards, but I also have 16 cards that are still on the way, so I wanted to make sure to account for those spaces as well.  After reorganizing my set to leave only the number of missing spaces that I have identified below, I discovered that my checklist didn't match up with the reality of how many cards I actually have (or have coming).  Somewhere along the way, I marked off a card that I never really obtained.  This would have been a much simpler task if I collected sets in numerical order.  Instead, I had to go through my checklist and verify each card physically by flipping back and forth through 67 different pages.  I finally discovered the missing card as #409, so my set was actually missing 82 cards (not 81).   

     The next 9 scans show the missing spaces intentionally left at the end of each team set beginning from the '65 WS championship Dodgers team to the contending Twins team, and then sequentially according to each team's regular season winning percentage.  Players are organized from oldest to youngest.  Pages without missing cards are not shown.  What I like about this "set formation" strategy is that I can start counting off each team set as it's completed.  All of my sets after 1965 are organized this way including some of my older sets that are also approaching completion.  So far, none of my team sets for the '65T set have been completed.   

Friday, December 29, 2017

2018 BBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot

     The 2018 BBWAA Hall of Fame class will be announced on January 24th, 2018.  The ballot consists of 33 names, including: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Manny Ramirez, Vladimir Guerrero, Sammy Sosa, Chipper Jones, Curt Schilling, Trevor Hoffman, Gary Sheffield, Jim Thome, Larry Walker, Edgar Martinez, Jeff Kent, Mike Mussina, Omar Vizquel, Andruw Jones, Billy Wagner, Fred McGriff, Scott Rolen, Johnny Damon, Johan Santana, Carlos Lee, Jason Isringhausen, Chris Carpenter, Jamie Moyer, Brad Lidge, Livan Hernandez, Hideki Matsui, Kevin Millwood, Carlos Zambrano, Aubrey Huff, Kerry Wood, and Orlando Hudson.  Voters will have an opportunity to select up to 10 players on the ballot.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

1962 Topps Set: One Down and One More Left to Go

     It's been so long since I've added a new '62T card to my collection that I can't even remember who or what the last card was.  Just a few days ago, I received another addition to my '62T set, which brings my collection to within 1 card of completion.  Yes, Bob Miller was the missing link towards completing my last-place-finishing, inaugural Mets team set.

     All that's left for me now is one of the final eight Rookie Parade cards featuring Doc Edwards, Ken Retzer, Don Pavletich, Doug Camilli, and Bob Uecker.  This card sells for way over the NM Book Value of $80, and should probably be reconsidered at the $125-$150 BV range.  Anyways, I'm holding out for 25% of the current $80 BV (or $20).  Obviously, this might take me a little while.  One important thing to note is that there are plenty of counterfeits of this card out there. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Does Beckett Even Review Their Vintage Card Pricing Anymore? An Example from 1967 Topps Series 1

         I still use the Beckett Guide--It's the best there is--but that doesn't make it perfect.  Beckett doesn't really have any competition, and so probably doesn't feel the need meticulously comb through their older pricing to make sure pricing is reasonably accurate.  Are they too concerned with tweaking Mike Trout and Aaron Judge card values to go back and re-look at some of their pricing from the early 1990's back?  With the way commons, minor stars, semi-stars, and unlisted stars are broken out, it sure seems like Beckett is just reprinting more of the same paper for sale every month.  Maybe the task is too overwhelming for their staff to tackle.  Maybe they don't have anyone with the real expertise to evaluate bubblegum card values anymore.  

      Vintage baseball card pricing in Beckett has remained pretty much the same over the past decade.  I'm not concerned about the stability of the overall vintage market over the past decade.  I'm talking about the pricing of individual cards within their respective vintage markets--who's considered a common, minor star, semi-star, or unlisted star?  Their mid-to-late '80s through early '90s card pricing is an absolute mess, but their '50s, '60s, and '70s card pricing is like a dusty book off the shelf.  

     Since I'm primarily focused on the 1967 Topps set right now, let's evaluate Beckett pricing from the 1st Series of this set.  To help, I've used Hall of Fame ballot voting to delineate Stars (HOF'ers), Semi-Stars (>1% HOF ballot), Minor Stars (1 vote to 1% HOF ballot), and Commons (no HOF votes).  I'm not saying that this should be the definitive method for distinguishing players, but it does serve as a good starting point.    I highlighted some of my pricing discrepancies in red. 

     Let's start with the Hall of Famers--for which I found 2 pricing discrepancies.  The most notable one is #70 Ron Santo, a player that Beckett continues to list at the Semi-Star price of $6 (no HOFer should book under the unlisted star pricer ever).  This means that you should be able to find VG Santos for about $1.20-$1.50 (20%-25% BV), which is definitely not true.  The next discrepancy is #20 Orlando Cepeda, which Beckett continues to list at the Unlisted Star price of $8.  This means that you should be able to find a VG Cepeda for about $1.60-$2.00 (20%-25% BV).  Just about every other 1st Series HOF'er is listed in the $15-$20 range by Beckett, which more accurately correlates to about $3-$5 (20%-25% BV) for a VG card.  Despite being double-printed, Hall of Famers Al Kaline and Frank Robinson are still valued at $20 and $15, respectively.

     Now, let's look at the Semi-Stars.  Matty Alou, Curt Simmons, and Manny Mota all received less than 5% of the HOF vote during their best year, so there's no real heartburn there for me.  Elston Howard, Roy Face, and Mickey Lolich remained on the HOF ballot for 15 years each, and received between 18-25% of the vote during their best years.  These are bonafide Semi-Stars and should be getting the Semi-Star treatment in Beckett's price guides.     

     Next, come the Minor Stars discrepancies.  Although I do consider Hal Lanier and Sonny Siebert to be Minor Stars, they only received 1 HOF vote during their best year on the ballot with careers that barely went over the 10 year mark, so I don't have too much heartburn over these two not being listed as such by Beckett.  Don McMahon and Jim Brewer, however, did receive multiple votes and should not be listed common cards.  They were prominent closers during an era where being a closer wasn't respected.  Since I believe that Beckett no longer reviews their vintage pricing, I think that these 2 Minors Stars were overlooked in the same way that Ron Santo and Orlando Cepeda were overlooked as being Hall of Fame stars.  

     Don McMahon won a World Series ring with the Braves against the Yankees in 1957, and again with the Tigers against the Cardinals in 1968.  McMahon also appeared in the 1958 World Series and the 1971 NLCS.  He was known as a reliable closer before being a closer was considered a respectable thing.  He often led the league Top 10 in Games Played, Games Finished, and Saves numerous times throughout his 18-year career.  McMahon was definitely a Minor Star.

     Jim Brewer won a World Series ring with the Dodgers against the Twins in 1965.  He also appeared in the World Series with the Dodgers in 1966 against the Orioles, and again in 1974 against the Athletics.  He was also known as a reliable closer before being a closer was really a respectable thing during a 17-year career.  He was often in the League Top 10 for Games Played, Games Finished, and Saves.  Jim Brewer was definitely a Minor Star. 

     Although Rick Wise never received a HOF vote, and Ralph Terry never appeared on the HOF ballot, I had to ultimate agree with leaving them on the Minor Star list.  They are examples to remind me that my HOF voting lists aren't perfect either--just look at Shoeless Joe Jackson, Pete Rose, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, and Sammy Sosa.  
     Beckett also has a few players listed as Minor Stars that could probably be downgraded to commons like: Phil Linz, Bob Priddy, Joe Nuxhall, Jose Tartabull, Tom Haller, Bob Buhl, Dooley Womack, Jim Maloney, Mike McCormick, and Alex Johnson.  Remember, Dr. James Beckett took a backseat at his company in 2006.  

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Completing the 1968 Topps Baseball Card Set

     Today, I completed the final piece to my 1968 Topps baseball card set of 598 base cards and 33 insert cards.  For more than a year, I searched for a low-grade Nolan Ryan RC at a fair price that was unquestionably authentic in my opinion.  When I first started really looking for a Ryan rookie, the lowest I could find it for was over $75.  With a BV of $500, my goal of obtaining high-valued vintage stars for 10-15% BV was barely being met.  Over the past couple of years, I watched as the price floor raised to $100, $125, and then $150 before dropping off just a little bit lately.  I also watched as the influx of counterfeit Nolan Ryan rookies became mainstream.  When I finally saw a new listing show up for $82.99, I had to get the card and complete my set once and for all.     

     Also included with my 1968 Topps set are 2 "Cards that Never Were" from the 2006 Topps Rookie of the Week insert set.  The Nolan Ryan variant rookie card is shown next to the original.  My focus will now shift to my 1967 Topps set, which is only missing 22 cards.