Thursday, September 16, 2010

Obak #45....Hulk Hogan?

That's right, Brutha! You gotta hand it to Obak for relishing the obscure by adding a wrestling champion into a decidedly baseball-oriented product. While Allen and Ginter is full-fledged and blatant in their oddball card additions to the product name, Obak opted for a more subtle, artistic approach covering baseball players as well as others associated with the game. Adding a Hulk Hogan mini, and a rather bright colored one at that, is a very curious decision that has led me to ponder its meaning. How does one get in the Obak set.

To me, the answer is's all about a powerful fu manchu

Dr Fu Machu was a fictitious character that wrecked havoc on anybody that crosses his path. The symbol of his moustache...the fu manchu moustache is a symbol that says, "don't mess with me".

Hmm, well based on that criteria, who else might deserve an Obak card?

Perhaps Paul Sr. is the next 2011 Obak #45? Sr. definitely rocks the fu machu, and I certainly don't want to be anywhere near the guy when he is in the red. I have to admit that Sr. is actually starting to look a little worn and tired these days and has lost a bit of that badass edge, but he is most definitely #45 worthy.

Kevin Youkilis? Mm, perhaps....I will give Youkilis this much, the guys scares the living crap out of me and I am glad he is one our side. When you see Youk turn beet red and see those veins throbbing in his head, I don't think that you want to even be in the same dugout with the guy. Plus the Hulk has the public won over. I can't say this for fact, but I am willing to wager that anybody who is NOT a Sox fan probably can't stand this guy. #45 worthy? Not so much.

The back of Hulk's card also states that Hulk is often imitated, never duplicated. Imitation is the highest form of flattery? Well then I recommend...

Ah-nold! Get to the choppa!!!!! AAARRRRRGGGGGGG!!!!

I still contend to this day that life is a lot more fun if you know how to do a good Arnold impersonation, which I cannot. Arnold impersonations never get old...ever! Is he #45 worthy? I would have to say so, and would love to have a Governator mini in my collection some day...but perhaps he needs just a bit more of a boost to secure his chances...

mm, maybe not.

So who would be my #45? While minor points should be deducted for a less than Fu, Fu Manchu, Danny Trejo is my hands-down pick of Badassery...

Who would be your #45?

The original error card

When I jumped back into collecting just over a year ago, I came back into the hobby with the idea that error cards were still valuable. I remember opening up a box of Topps 2009 Series one and excitedly pulling a "Sharon" Martis rookie card. I knew this spelling was incorrect, and wrote a few other bloggers to see if I had a valuable "error" card (I know I know). What I got was basically polite responses that it was just basically shotty work by Topps and no more valuable than any other base card. Rats.

But back in 1909, error cards were still all the rage, and during the 1909-1911 T206 print run, this little beauty was produced... 1909-1911 T206 Sherry Magee....or in this instance Magie. This particular card is amazingly rare, and is often compared to the famous Honus Wagner card in terms of scarcity. Since the error was caught early on in the print run, only 55 of these cards have ever been graded (compared to the 25 of Honus). A recent sale of a PSA 3.5 Mag(ie) sold for over $18000.00!

And it happened again!

As I was logging in some minis to my spreadsheet (excuse me while I push my glasses up the bridge of my nose) I realized that I had two 2010 Tristar Obak Sherry Magee's in the collection. Dups! No dups allowed!

but upon further inspection...

Ahh! The wily cleverness of Obak continues to impress. It turns out that one of the minis is a circle variation, is a tip of the cap to the famous misspelling of the famous card shown above. Very good, Obak, very good indeed.

I am interested in learning about some of the more famous error cards in history. I am overly versed in the Fleer Billy Ripken card, but would love to hear from you all on some others that you know of or have pulled in your day.

Can you top a 2009 Sharon Martis?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

mmm, crow...tasty.

Close you eyes for a moment..(keep reading this at the same time...come on, multi-task, multi-task!). Imagine your baseball card lair. The area where you..ahem...organize your glorious collection.

Some of you have nice, clean binders full of neatly collated cards from each set, organized chronologically by release date. Others have a multi-tiered spreadsheet where you can easily reference a particular card and know exactly which binder and even which SLOT to find that card in.

Still, others have this... Or perhaps this...
How many of you are looking at this right now?

Or maybe this?

While none of the above are actual photos of my card-sorting station, believe me, these are not far from the truth. Since the laptop and scanner are located in the upstairs living room, a vast majority of hobby boxes, packages, cards of interest, toploaders, penny sleeves, and what-have-you's all tend to centralize on the china cabinet table.

It is a definite eyesore to be sure, and it is a constant accordion of material, it expands, it contracts. It is never-ending.
So finally a week back we were going to have some company over for dinner. The mandate from the high commander was to clean off that china cabinet table so you could actually, you know, SEE the china cabinet.

This was a reasonable request, as it allowed me to break out my archaeological gear and pick through the rubble hunting for buried treasure long since forgotten.
So here is the crow. This is your big payoff for visiting today. While I typically will feel excited about finding some cards that I have tossed aside to scan later, these particular cards gave me that, "uh-oh" and "Doh!" Homer slap-to-the-head feeling...

Topps '52 Yovani Gallardo Red-Auto Hand-Numbered #28/52. Hand-numbered autos are the best. On card autos are even better, and an auto of a pitching phenom is the best! What happened when I received this package that caused me the distraction to pitch it into the rubble that is my workstation, I cannot say. But I REALLY like this card and it is long overdue to thank Beardy for taking a great hit and sending it my direction.
Beardy and me have a bit of a competitive edge to us when it comes to negotiations. It is really hard to explain, but it has been there since the beginning. I strongly suspect that we have a common personality type that causes us to dig in and stick to our guns. I suspect that a game of Monopoly between us would end badly! I appreciate Beardy for his conviction, and also for putting up with mine. Negotiations were fierce and drawn out, but we ultimately came to a agreeable accord and Yovani headed out west to chill with the likes of Lincecum and Tommy Hanson.

Now the "doh" and the crow!
Also included in the package was this...

Oh's the Hot Tejada. I feel really horrible about this. Back in April Beardy devised a fun little game where he wanted to take a mysterious Miguel Tejada relic and have it included in trade packages to bounce back and forth around the country in a "hot potato"-like manner, where ultimately the music stopped at the end of the season and whoever had the Tejada had...something...happen.
Either way it would have been a fun thing to track throughout the summer and to watch people post about it, and do to my lack of organization, I ruined it. Beardy, I sincerely apologize for ruining the Hot Tejada and am prepared to receiving my flogging as a result.

Sigh, what can you say? This hobby can eat you up alive, and sometimes you gotta face the music. The beat goes on!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sharpe Since 92 Cipher Solution


Ha! I have always wanted to write that, but have never had any information that would really spoil anything for anybody since normally when you have a kid you are three steps behind in anything pop culture. Example? The last movie I saw in the theatre was Harry Potter 6.

But now for the spoiler alert. Anybody who might attempting to crack the cipher at Sharpe Since 92 and does not want to know the solution to it, please leave now...but come back soon! After a week or so of starting, quitting, and starting again, I finally broke through and figured out the solution to Jim's diabolical code. Jim has asked me to share the solution with you.

So who is this guy...much like Ginter 2009, a card and a name is the answer to the cipher. I will tell you how to get there.

So Jim included a couple pieces to his puzzle. Initially he listed 17 baseball cards

Leon Durham
Gorman Thomas
Bo Jackson
Kent Tekulve
Andy Van Slyke
Bip Roberts
Dennis Eckersley
Steve Lake
Rickey Henderson
Dave Magadan
Jim Fregosi
Dave Concepcion
Eric Davis
Floyd Rayford
Donnie Hill
Tom Seaver
Enos Cabell

Jim also include a 100-character number code consisting of digits 1-18.

This here already represents a problem. The first thing I did, and probably everybody else was to assume that there were 18 cards and each card represented one letter for the number part of the cipher. Unfortunately 17 does not equal 18, no matter where you are from.

So my next step drove me crazy for the next week. How do you organize the cards? Alphabetical by first name? Last? Team? Mascot? Color of square? Color of text? Also, knowing the Codemaster himself only made it harder for me, because Jim dives into some pretty serious sh*t when it comes to codes and I had to assume he was making it much harder than the rest of the "normal" population could deduce.

I figured that there had to be a way to spell words from the cards that would give instructions on how to do the numbers, but how? Hmm, these are all reasonably random players from the 1987 Topps set, what is the common denominator?? Wait.....1987? Could it?

I took the numbers 1-9-8-7 and placed one digit next to each of the 17 cards...

1 Leon Durham
9 Gorman Thomas
8 Bo Jackson
7 Kent Tekulve
1 Andy Van Slyke
9 Bip Roberts
8 Dennis Eckersley
7 Steve Lake
1 Rickey Henderson
9 Dave Magadan
8 Jim Fregosi
7 Dave Concepcion
1 Eric Davis
9 Floyd Rayford
8 Donnie Hill
7 Tom Seaver
1 Enos Cabell

I then took the corresponding letter from each card based on counting that many letters in to each card...

1 Leon Durham = L
9 Gorman Thomas = O
8 Bo Jackson = O
7 Kent Tekulve = K
1 Andy Van Slyke = A
9 Bip Roberts = T
8 Dennis Eckersley = C
7 Steve Lake = A
1 Rickey Henderson = R
9 Dave Magadan = D
8 Jim Fregosi = O
7 Dave Concepcion = N
1 Eric Davis = E
9 Floyd Rayford = F
8 Donnie Hill = I
7 Tom Seaver = V
1 Enos Cabell = E


Sweet! Finally some plain english after a week of gibberish. Hmm, card one five. Here was a major fork in the road because there is a card in this bunch of Donnie hill of the A's, that not only does Donnie have the number 15 written on his bat knob, but he is also the 15th card of the bunch! This had to be it, right?

So I jumped back on the computer to head back to Jim's code to take a look at the Donnie Hill Card. When I scrolled through his site, I bumped into this...

A checklist from a post after Jim posted the code. I had a though and decided to take a quick glance at the numbers...sure enough this card is for cards 1-64 (totally odd numbering total by the way, but that ginormous yellow box took up space for #65).

Whoa...speaking of ginormous, check out the length of the name for card #15. I quickly jotted down the name and counted the letters and...yep....18 letters! Take that Donnie Hill and your red herring. Jim later told me that Donnie Hill was a complete coincidence with his bat number and his position on the board.

Okay, so here we now have card #15...

Claudell Washington, and a damn Yankee at that. 18 letters. So here is now a simpl(ish) substitution where C=1, L=2, A=3 apply to the 100-character digit code. Here it is all jammed up...


A few things don't quite make sense here, but with a little common reasoning you can determine that "NN" equals "M" (Jim needed to find some creative ways to use certain letters that were not part of Washingtons name)

Basically here is what you get....


Any player state page from google will get you the information you need. in 1982 Claudell had 150 hits in 150 games minus the 50 walks = 250. Thus is you look up card #250 online, you will find...

# 250, Teddy Higuera! I told Jim I have no idea who this guy is and I am being dead serious, back in 1987 I was into GI Joe, and Lego's and Star Wars and Top Gun. It would still be at least a couple more years before Organized professional sports became what it was all about. I have since learned a ton about the history of this great game, but alas 1987 was not on my "to-do" list :)

I want to thank Jim for organizing this cipher. He knows that these things just bug the hell out of me as to where I cannot quit until I know how it is done, so I just kept plugging along after quitting about eight times! This is pretty impressive stuff for a regular ol Jim who decided to throw something together in about an hour. It has several layers to it and if anything, was more satisfying that any ol word scramble that Topps could conjure that nobody would even how to find.

Make sure to drop Jim a comment of thanks for organizing the puzzle, and get him motivated to make another!

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Sharpe Looking Package of Minis

Horrible...did I just fall into the "write a clever title that includes the name of the blog that made the trade" trap? Well, indeed I did.

Jim at Sharpe Since 92 is more than familiar with JD and my sudden obsession with mini cards. Jim is one of my regular daily emails, and he gets a continual earful of cards I find interesting, or lots that I am bidding for on eBay. With each passing filled binder page and entry log in excel (rapidly approaching 500 non-dup minis strong, I get more crazy to find the unique minis that will both stand out and blend in to my card sleeves.

While this card is admittedly one of Jim's favorites...he graciously traded it to me for a pick to be named later, knowing that it would be a great addition to our collection...
Unicorn! Sweet! This is the one and only Creatures of Myth and Terror card in our collection thus far. Finding these available on eBay has become somewhat difficult and I am thrilled to add it to the binder

Jim also decided to include some surprises in the package. A few more minis are always welcome into the collection, but I certainly did not expect to find THESE minis...

Wow! This first one is my personal favorite and automatically shoots to one of my favorites of our entire collection. There is a lot of unanswered questions about the origin of this card. Clearly it is a reprint, but it is pretty unclear WHEN exactly this was issued. Jim suspects somewhere in the late 80's but is unsure. The original was produced in 1888, so perhaps a 100 year anniversary set of Ginter? What I love about this is that this card has seen a bit of rough times and really has the look and feel of the original, all the way down the the original back. Great, great card.
Here are some more fantastic and mysterious additions...

Again, I am unclear where and when these were produced, though I suspect it is the same set. The Lewis card has an original Piedmont back on it. Again, these three cards are a bit worn, as Jim no doubt decided to use them in his bicycle spokes and sent them through the washer a few times as a kid. These are great.
This last bunch was a trade that we had talked about long ago that tagged along for the trip west. My original concept was to keep a page of each Polar Bear, Old Mill, and Piedmont...the rules have since changed, as that collection method is far too organized. Regardless the top three are polar bear, and the bottom three old mill.

These are great, Jim. I have gone back and looked at these several times since they have arrived. Soon they will be logged and sucked into the random binder vortex, and will make great additions. Thanks again!