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

October 5, 2015

This is our 40th Year of hobby columns

Ted Taylor’s Collector’s Corner

Topps Minor League Heritage Baseball..Has  Harry Houdini Come Back?

  Looking just like the 1966 Topps baseball cards the newly released 2015 Topps Heritage Baseball takes you across the landscape of minor league baseball and treats you to the future stars and the funky team names.

  I love this set, though I must admit I go googly-eyed trying to read the tiny type on the back of the card to learn what minor league team is affiliated with which major league club. If you could do it all visually that would be fun, but you can’t. Some make it easier with similar uniforms, some have sleeve patches with MLB logos and others leave you in the dark.

  There are 24 9-card-packs in each hobby box. Kyle Schwarber of the Tennessee Smokies (a Cubs farm club) is on the box. There is not a player on the package it is simply a yellow, vintage looking, wrapper.

  The box promises two autographs and a relic. I got what was promised plus a 1-of-1 black printing plate (card sized) of Alberto Tirado of the Dunedin Blue Jays (nice place, been there).

  Harry Houdini’s real name was Erich Weiss as you may or may not have known. He always promised to return after he died. Now I’m not saying that has happened but one of my signed cards was from Erich Weiss a player for the Bradenton Marauders (Pirates). Hmm. The other signed card, not as mystical, was Chase Vallot a catcher with the Burlington Royals. It was also a blue-bordered version and numbr 43/50. My swatch was from Byron Buxton (27/50) a player for the New Britain Rock Cats.

  I also got two chances to become a pro player for a day and make my pro debut with minor league baseball. Each card has a stratch off spot on the back. As for me making my pro debut, that ship sailed a long, long time ago. You not only get to spend time (a day) with a minor league team you also get your own card in next year’s set.

  Subsets include Minor Miracles and cards of all the statistical leaders in 2014. Cub phenom Kris Bryant is on three of them (each card also has two other players).

  Hobby boxes are in the $65-$70 range – and worth it if you ask me. The base set is 200 players but also has 25 annoying short printed cards (which will be about impossible to find). For team set collectors like me – and value speculators – this is a fun set. Somewhere in this box there are one, two, three…maybe more…future MLB Stars. That’s good enough for most of us.

Topps Heritage High Numbers Baseball fills in some of the blanks

  Team set collectors, like me, always enjoy the sets issued at this time of the year because thwey help you fill in the missing holes on your teams. This year it does that, and yet it doesn’t. For some teams it’s a bonanza, for others not so much.

  Like the earlier Heritage set, this one takes the product back to a more traditional pack-based product. In recent years, it has been done as a premium-style factory set, first as an online exclusive then offered in hobby shops. Like the main Heritage set that is also based on 1966 Topps, hobby boxes promise one autograph or relic card. I got the relic, a scrap of wood (bat?) from Giancarlo Stanton with the typical disclaimer about what it isn’t on the back.

  The 2015 Topps Heritage High Number Baseball base set has 225 cards. Similar to Topps Update, it focuses on rookies and veterans who have found new homes. But, for my money, overlooks some real favorites. Numbering of the set continues on from the early-season release. As most collectors I hate that the final 25 cards (#701-725) are short prints that land 1:3 packs. A total of 25 players have “Action Variations” that come with a different photo.

  Insert sets (i.e., not regular cards) include things like Award Winners and Rookie Performers. I’d have rather had a card of some of the young players on, say, the Phillies (like Jerad Eickhoff who came over in the Hamels trade, or even vet outfielder Jeff Francoeur). There were four, that I found, in my box. Aaron Harang, Jerome Williams, Freddy Galvis and David Buchannon. Really, that’s the best Topps could do.

  Heavy concentration of Mets players, Yankees, Tampa Bay, Atlanta and Marlins spring to mind. Good for fans in those towns anyway. Box has 24 9-card packs. Sells in the low $70-range. Box topper contained a large 2015 “Punchboard” of Zack Grienke (06/25) with a uniform swatch attached. Interesting but I don’t you’d better try punching it.

Topps Supreme…can you say ultra ‘high end’ ?

  At $75-a-box this is high end to the extreme. What do you get for seventy-five bucks? Two cards. Really. In 2014, the all-autograph release arrived with every card boasting a sticker signature. Each 2015 Topps Supreme Baseball box has two cards. Both have signatures. While stickers are back this time around, some on-card autographs are also in the mix – and both of mine were that (both Yankees, too - Dellin Betances and Chase Headley).

  Regular Autographs have signatures from veterans and retired players. The design uses a layering to add some stle – both mine were that, too. Parallels include numbered Green, Orange (#/25), Red (#/5) and Supreme (1/1). There are also Printing Plates. Bang for the buck/ AT $37.50-a-card they all shoud be, at least, stars.

Topps 2015 Triple Threads Comes in 2-Box Packs

  This is a high end set, be there no doubt. A two mini-box package could cost you as much as $170 (though I’ve also seen them for a bit less). This gets you two boxes of seven cards each – at $170 that’s twelve bucks-and-change per card. Imagine.

  Now in its tenth year the set returns with a familiar mix of low-numbered autographs and memorabilia cards that its known for, as well as its big designs. Once again, boxes come as a pair of mini boxes. One mini box has an autographed triple relic and a jumbo relic. The other has an autographed jumbo relic and an unsigned triple relic. Mini boxes also have three base cards and a pair of numbered parallels. The base set has 100 cards that mix veterans and retired players.

  Okay so here’s what I got in the goodies department. Two mini boxes, total of four cards. A triple play swatch card of Hunter Pence from the MLB All-Star game; swatch from Hyun-Jin Ryu numbered 1/3 and signed cards of Carlos Gonzalez (20/50) and one of Garrett Richards (1/3). $12 each?

  Base cards include a nice (and kind of artsy) picture of Lou Gehrig and a card of retired star Mike Piazza (124/125). The rest were the usual suspects, among them was Bryce Harper who I absolutely cannot stand. Cards of Robinson Cano (152/250) and Yasiel Puig (78/99) were at least numbered.

 Packing has Ichiro on the boxes and the larger holder. Why? I have no idea.

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


September 21, 2015

This is our 40th Year of hobby columns

Ted Taylor’s Collector’s Corner

Bowman Chrome showcases Joc Pederson

  Young Dodger star Joc Pederson is featured on both the box and the packaging for 2015 Bowman Chrome Baseball. Oddly in the 18 four-card packs I didn’t get his card. WhatI did get, though, were a lot of players in big league uniforms that had previously appeared in Topps minor league sets and, of course, many of the regular suspects. Somebody at Topps likes the Cubs. While most teams had, maybe, a player or two in my box I pulled nine Cubbies (high in the AL were the Yankees with six).

  Bowman Chrome Baseball continues from where 2015 Bowman Baseball left off, delving into more prospects, autographs and Refractors. Like last year, hobby boxes come with a pair of signed cards rather than the one usually found in regular Bowman and Draft. I got a green refractor signature card of Francisco Lindor (Indians) numbered 37/99 and a regular white border one of Akeel Morris (Mets). Rookie Autographs are also hard-signed.

  Harkening back to the old days I got two cards, but not chrome, of Twins shortstop Nick Gordon. I thought that odd, this being a chrome set and all. But then I flipped the cards over and they turned out to be advertising cards for Twitter exclusive give-away packs. Nice if you care about such things.

  The base set has 200 rookie and veteran players done on chromium card stock. Numbered parallels include Refractors, Purple Refractors, Blue Refractors, Green Refractors, Gold Refractors, hobby-only Orange Refractors (#/25), Red Refractors (#/5) and Superfractors (1/1). I also found two cards about two-thirds in width, same height as the regular cards – they are numbered with a PP in front of the digits. Also mixed in were two die-cut cards – Mike Trout and Blake Swihart. Numbering for them is all letters (four of them).

  Complimenting the base set are 100 Prospects inserts of prospects and international standouts who weren't in 2015 Bowman (I didn’t find any). Both these and the Chrome Prospect Autographs come with several Refractor parallels. The colors are similar to those from the base set. Randomly inserted hot packs come with exclusive Wave Refractors parallels.

 The hobby box is selling for around $65-per (about $4.25-a-pack).

This year the hot rookie is Carlos Correa…says Topps

  Carlos Correa is one of the hottest rookies in Major League Baseball garnering attention for his spectacular play with the Houston Astros.

  Correa became the third-fastest player in MLB history to reach 15 home runs before turning 21 years old (62 games). The other two players on the list include Willie Mays (55) and Frank Robinson (58).

  The only place to get it on an officially licensed MLB trading card is with Topps.

  Topps and Correa recently announced an exclusive multi-year autograph deal that will include trading cards, memorabilia and more. His first autographed card since the deal began appeared in 2015 Bowman® Chrome (see preceding story). Correa will appear in a number of upcoming products, catering to all types of baseball fans and collectors.

A new use for the computer

  I recently purchased the Topps Archives “Ultimate 1954 set”. A neat effort created 20 years ago. The set added some new players – and subtracted two (both Ted Williams cards). In 1994 Upper Deck came up with the Williams cards as reprints and added a Mickey Mantle. The cost of each is staggering – the two Williams cost $84.95 for number 1 and $74.95 for #250. Then the Mantle (and it never existed in the first place) will cost you $129.95.

  I went on the internet, found all three (front and back) and printed them out. Presto, my set was complete. In the search I also found a bunch of 1952 Topps Baseball that never were – and I printed them out too (Stan Lopata, Connie Mack, Casey Stengel, Bob Hope in a Cleveland Indians uniform as co-owner, and another with Hope and Bing Crosby – who was co-owner of the Pirates).

  My reprint sets are more complete then they ever were and the cost was whatever ink, paper and paste I used.

More new stuff from Topps . . .

  Inception Football 2015…Right off the bat the box sells for $125 (one pack, seven cards)... A collector favorite because of the distinct design and hard-signed content. Boxes include two autographs or autographed relic cards and one relic card. The 2015 base set includes 100 veteran players and a large mix of parallels, including Green (1 per pack), Purple (#'d), Magenta (#/99), Red (#/75), Orange (#/50), Blue (#/25), Diamond (1/1) and Framed Printing Plates (1/1).

  Rookie Autographs are signed on-card and obtained at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere. In addition to the base autographs, there are Purple (#'d), Magenta (#/99), Red (#/75), Orange (#/50), Blue (#/25) and Diamond (1/1) parallels.

  Apex Soccer…Hobby box goes for $45…Product contains two mini boxes of 32 cards each…This is a new addition to the growing Topps MLS soccer line. Focusing on artistic designs, master hobby boxes include two autographs and one relic card. The design is much different than MLS collectors have seen since Topps took over the card license. Including 100 cards, the base set features MLS rookie cards for David Villa, Frank Lampard, Sebastian Giovinco and Mix Diskerud. There are also several colorful parallels including Gold (#'d), Orange (#/25 - Hobby), Red (#/5), Black (1/1) and Printing Plates (1/1).

  Base Card Short Prints are a limited option that covers players that are not included in the base set. Autographs average one per mini-box and two per master box.

  Topps 2015 Football…36 packs of ten, but just one autograph or relic card in every box…Selling in the $40-per-box range, the product advertises one rookie card in every pack. Andrew Luck is the poster player on box and packs…This is the brand's 60th anniversary. While the main design and majority of the content is unmistakably modern, there are several nods to the past to go with them.

  The base set has 500 cards, which is 60 more than last year. A total of 240 veterans are joined by 99 rookies. Other subsets include All-Pro and Fantasy Studs. Topp 60 ranks the best players in the league. The 2015 Topps Football set also has cards for award winners, teams, the Super Bowl and a group shot from the Rookie Premiere. Topping things off are 40 Rookie Variations and 60 Veteran Variations that use different photos.

  Parallels are plentiful and revolve largely around color.They are numbered, appropriately enough, to 60.The birthday theme continues with the insert sets. The 100-card checklist uses designs from the past six decades to create new cards of current players, rookies and retired greats.

  BOOK UPDATE –  My latest (8th) book “The 20th Century Phillies by the Numbers – or, you can’t tell the players without a scorecard” (302 pages). It is available from them (BiblioPublishing.com), amazon.com and other internet book sellers. E-book versions also available. By mail an autographed copy costs $24 ppd. From TTA LLC, Box 273, Abington PA 19001. There’s a Phillies talk and book signing set for October 1, 7 PM, at the Horsham PA Library.

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