Ted Taylor's Collector's Corner

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    Ted Taylor has been a life-long baseball fan and collector of baseball cards and sports memorabilia. He began writing a hobby column back in the early 1970s and has been writing it someplace ever since. He was first president of The Eastern Pennsylvania Sports Collectors Club and co-promoter of the Philadelphia Baseball Card & Sports Memorabilia Shows. He served as VP of the Fleer Corporation (1991-97) and was co-founder and the first President of The Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society (1996-99). Ted can be heard playing big band and swing music from 8 a.m. to noon every Tuesday on WRDV-FM (89.3), and you can email him at ted@tedtaylor.com.

Ted Taylor's previous three books . . .
  "The Ultimate Philadelphia Athletics Reference Book (1901-54)" available from www.amazon.com
  "The Duke of Milwaukee - The Life and Times of Al Simmons" available from www.EduPublisher.com or by mail from TTA Authentic LLC, PO Box 273, Abington PA 19001 ($15 ppd.).

  "The Glenside Kid” – a story about growing up in the mid-20th century - available from www.eduPublisher.com or by mail from TTA Authentic LLC, P. O. Box 273, Abington PA 19001 ($24 ppd).

Click here for information on Ted's latest book . . .
“20th Century PHILLIES by the numbers”
Or . . . You can’t tell the players without a scorecard

May 15 2017

This continues our 42nd year of hobby columns

Ted Taylor’s Collector’s Corner

2017 Topps Gypsy Queen surprises

  The 2017 Gypsy Queen set is here. My friends at Topps know that I’ve never been a huge fan of these “artsy” sets because, for openers, they are not real art, but computer generated images made to simulate art. The other thing that always bothered me was that the set make-up seldom broke any new ground on player inclusion. This was good because I seldom included any of these cards in my team sets. I didn’t have to, real photographic images of the players were already issued in other sets.

  Well I’m still not crazy about the images, but they are better than ever before and the set content breaks a lot of ground so far as new players go.  Okay, you got me with Jorge Alfaro and Cameron Rupp of the Phillies – and Vince Valesquez – and as I compared them to player cards I already had I noticed there were a couple of dozen “new” faces.

  Every hobby box includes two autographs and an oversized topper.
  I got an autographed card (Pat Venditte) and one of those dreaded “Congratulations you are due to receive an autograph missing blackplate parallel of Carlos Rodon” cards. So that means I need to send away for it and then hope the mailman gets around to giving it to me. My topper was a “GQ Glassworks” card of Buster Posey. Nice.

  Although the set does indeed see a price reduction, the biggest change for collectors is the removal of several common features for the brand. The offering does not contain the mini parallels (and variations) and framed parallels. (That’s OK with me, by the way.) It also operates with a smaller primary set and drops the two guaranteed relics of previous years.

  Totaling 300 cards, the base set covers today's stars and key rookies. 20 additional Base Short Print cards offer legends of the game. Parallels add more collecting elements with Purple (#'d), hobby-only Black & White (#/50), Red (#/10) and Black (1/1).

  I got a Derek Jeter card (#303 in the aforementioned short prints). I also got a black-and-white card of Yasmani Grandal (35/50). I got one card (#5) of Adrian Gonzalez with no name on the front (just a blank slot where it belonged). I wonder if this is an error card? Remember when error cards were the hobby craze? There are also hand-drawn “Art” cards by Brian Kong (likely not a relative of King) that are enough to make me glad he didn’t do the whole set. Sorry.

Putting the “Trade” back in Trading Cards

Card collecting is in my blood so you can imagine how excited I was to learn that there’s a new baseball card product available called “Honus Bonus Baseball cards”. This set, obviously paying homage to the legendary Honus Wagner, puts a new spin on the hobby, as it combines card collecting with fantasy baseball.

  The product – and the new company, Honus Bonus Partners - is the brainchild of Jenkintown-based Steve Charendoff, president of Rittenhouse Archives, a longtime producer of trading cards from movies, entertainment, fantasy genre’s and the WNBA. I worked with Steve many years ago at Fleer and, while his niche’ there was entertainment, he has always been a baseball card collector.

            Fantasy Baseball is a game based on statistics and outscoring your opponents with a roster you make up, to win cash prizes. Honus Bonus is a 500 card set of modern players, each card has a scratch-off code on the back; you use the codes to fill your lineup. For more details on how it plays go to www.hononusbonus.com.

            The monthly competition costs you nothing to enter (other than you need to have cards to do so) and some local shops, like Steve McKenize’s Knuckleball Sports in Horsham, have actually been giving out free sample packs at the store.

Geared for the large number of fantasy game participants nationwide, the 500-card-set also has become attractive to team set collectors because Steve has dealt in cards of players that have never had a big league card before.

Steve came up with this idea for this product a couple of years ago and first pitched it to Topps. They are the 10,000 gorilla and saw no reason to go this route. Once they passed he opted to go it on his own.

            Honus Bonus is licensed by the Major League player’s association but MLB (Major League Baseball) won’t license it (nor do they license Donruss) and so the cards and player pictures are sans logo and team name. If I have a nit to pick on the cards it’s that they are black-and-white pictures and only the trim is in color. Steve says, the player designation is cities, not teams, because even though the world knows the team names MLB doesn’t think the cards they don’t license should use them. It’s like calling a Ford just a car, not a Ford, and assuming no one will make the connection.

            Each individual collector’s fantasy team will have 30 players – but each must come from a separate team. In other words you can’t have Kris Bryant and Mike Rizzo (of that un-named Chicago NL team) on your team at the same time. There’s a scratch off panel on the back and once you scratch it the player is “live”. If you remove him from your team, and then want him to return you need to employ a new card with a different scratch-off code on the back. This aspect encourages you to trade for multiple cards. To quote Steve, “this puts the trade back in trading cards”. cards.

            There will be four more monthly sessions (May is almost done) and winners will be in six pitching and offensive categories. Unit winners and overall winners receive cash awards – 22 total.

            Missing from the packs will be none of the usual big hits out of the box – no autographs, no relics – and collecting Honus Bonus cards will be all about the players themselves. One of the nuances of the cards, though, is that there are 1-of-1 cards that highlight a career milestone. One guy may have just a handful of them, Ichiro Suzuki of that un-named Miami club has 3,030 individual hit cards. Complete the 500 player roster (packs generally run in the $2.50 range) and you then establish yourself as a person that understands the value of each player.

            I like the idea and am glad there’s another substantial baseball card set to collect. And as my wife will tell you, I never met a pack of baseball cards that I didn’t want to open. I’m rooting for you and Honus, Steve.

  My latest vintage card project centers on the 1960-61 Fleer old-timers sets. I won a bunch of them in an auction recentlu (over 100) and now am fixated on completing both sets. This is especially motivating for me since I spent seven years of my career with Fleer as an exec. Anyone with those cards looking to get rid of them you have found a willing recipient.

  Still seeking a 1950 Bowman Football reprint set (Card Collectors Company). Anyone who has one be advised I have a willing buyer ($100) for the set. Also looking for Berk Ross (singles or set) and 1951 Topps red or blue backs (singles or set). Buyers for all of them.

  Contact me with comments at ted@tedtaylor.com Thanks for your feedback.

  As usual - Thanks to Ted Silary for including this column in his web-zine and to all of you for regularly reading it.