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

September 5, 2016

This continues our 41st Year of hobby columns

Ted Taylor’s Collector’s Corner

Topps Successfully Bunts A New Set for 2016

  It used to be just a digital card set – that’s probably why I never heard of it, certainly why I never collected it – but this year Topps has trotted out an actual set of cards (along with an app for digital ones) under the BUNT ’16 banner and they are attractive and loaded with interesting graphics and a bunch of old-timer cards.

  Think about it. You can bust a pack and find Babe Ruth, or Hank Aaron, or even Willie Mays (almost as many old-timers as current players, really). When things like that happen I’m excited and am drawn right back in to collecting regardless of the card set’s premise. Thanks to Topps I’ve been working up a couple of hefty binders of old-timers, Hall of Famers, etc. over the years, that one-day my Grandson Brett (assuming he likes baseball) will inherit.

  Not much new ground has been broken on regular player content (200 base cards), but the cards contain a colorful logo and some very good photography. As usual Phillies fans, like me, don’t get much - the usual Franco and Nola cards (and Nola is on the 60-day DL). Some teams get even fewer, imagine.

  The excitement (lost on old guys like me) is that this is the only real-time, real-world Major League Baseball digital trading card game where the cards you own and collect earn points based on how your players perform on the field each day. This set combines the old-time fun of card collecting and marries it with the competitive spirit of fantasy baseball. (I think back to all the games we, as kids, developed for our baseball cards – and, really, this is just a high tech version of what we did with dice, spinners, card packs, etc.)

  Houston Astros shortstop and reigning American League Rookie of the  Year Carlos Correa is the package poster child and, being a modern, tech-savvy, guy says he loves being a part of the Bunt ‘16 app.

  The cards are not only attractive, they are affordable (at 99-cents-a-pack) and every other pack includes loot cards that allow you to get free digital packs of cards. (One snag. I was tooling right along, busting packs, when, at the end, I hit a run of identical packs from the beginning. Eard-for-card the same. That’s unusual for any Topps product. Perhaps, because it is a low-end product, not as much care is being paid to collation). The actual cards come seven-to-a-pack (36 packs in the box) along with the usual parallels in crimson and topaz. And, yes, there are 1-of-1 printing plate cards and I got one. What I didn’t get was an autographed card.

  The set goes in my book as a saver and a pleasant surprise.

  ****An offer…The first six readers sending a self-addressed stamped envelope (post mark determines who is 1st through 6th) to me at: P. O. Box 1302, Buckingham PA 18912 will get two Bunt ’16 loot cards opening the digital door to free packs and much more.****

  This set comes with the usual base design but 2016 Topps Chrome Baseball is on track to continue its’ run as one of the most popular yearly baseball sets. Mostly, I think, because it looks nice. Hobby boxes include two autographs while Jumbo boxes offer five autographs. Dodger hurler Kenta Maeda adorns the packaging. There are just 24 packs (four cards) in the box so that means you won’t be pulling a complete base set from your $65-$75 range purchase.

  Under the category of déjà vu one of my two autographed cards was Aaron Nola of the Phillies – it’s the second Nola for me this season (the earlier came in Topps Archives) and the other was Tom Murphy of the Rockies (55/250). Maybe Nola suffered his season ending arm fatigue from signing all those cards.

  The 200-card base set showcases the top names from the Series 1 and 2 checklists, including the notable rookie players. – which is interesting but breaks no new ground as far as set collectors go. In fact most pictures are the same. There are also limited Base Image Variations that swap photos for select subjects. I got very few of these, by the way, most were like old friends coming back for a visit in their best suit. (I also got two cards of Ryan Howard – duplicates – which makes his long season even more painful. The other Phillie, as usual, Maikel Franco, and Carlos Ruiz – now a Dodger, traded a few days before my box arrived.

  There are the many base Refractor parallels. Options consist of Refractors, Prism Refractors, Purple Refractors (#'d) – only one I got, Ian Kinsler (79/150), Blue Refractors (#'d), Green Refractors (#'d), Gold Refractors (#/50), Orange Refractors (#/25 - Hobby), Red Refractors (#/5), SuperFractors (1/1) and Printing Plates (1/1).  Collectors busting hobby boxes can also find limited hot boxes which feature exclusive Black Refractors in place of the base cards. Some collectors go nuts over these so for them this is a cool set.

Summer Memories…

  As the Summer of ’16 fades in to memories, I was recently walking the boards in Wildwood thinking back to how the hobby and the seashore intersected for me many years ago.

  Exhibit cards – As a kid I used to collect these Penny Arcade treasures, mostly, at Bingham’s Penny Arcade on the Ocean City NJ Boardwalk. (In the realm of full disclosure, though, I also bought some of these at the Willow Grove PA Amusement park.) I still love those cards – still have most of them, too. Baseball players, cowboys, actors & actresses, band leaders, even pin-up girls (those I hid in my underwear drawer from Mom. Later in life I learned that “she knew all along”.). I still buy them whenever I can. Most recently I got a nice batch from Steve McKenzie’s Knuckleball Sports in Horsham PA.

  Bowman Baseball – There was a variety store at the end of a street near where we used to stay in Ocean City. I would buy as many 1950-53 Bowman’s as I could each summer. The legendary Paul Richards 1951 Bowman was purchased by me there. As I recall the Bowman ’51 high numbers were rooted in the shore purchases. I also discovered 1953 Bowman black-and-white cards at a shop on the Boardwalk and, for a time, thought I stumbled on to some error cards. Little did I know that Bowman followed up their color series with a b&w one.

  Hartland Statues – These sold as toys on the Ocean City Boardwaalk at a store called Tabor’s Toys. They cost around $3 each. I skipped buying very many because I, too, saw them as toys not anything I’d really want to collect. I have just two in my collection today. Falls under the category “dumb me”.

  Hobby Shows – I also got to thinking about how my friend, the late Bob Schmierer, and I took our successful Willow Grove hobby show to Ocean City NJ and sold the idea to PR guru Mark Soifer.  We ran it for a few summers but it never got the traction of the Philadelphia-area one. Had some great guests, too – including Bob Feller, Rich Ashburn, Del Ennis (who also had a summer place in OC as I recall). Bob S loved the shore. Sometimes I find it hard to believe that he’s gone.

Can anybody help? Still Looking…

  A fellow collector has asked me to help and we are still looking to help him acquire either/or both of the complete 1951 Topps Red Backs and 1951 Berk Ross (can be just baseball, would like all sports) – two sets from his boyhood. They can be in G-or-better condition. He expects to pay for them, of course. Let me know if you can help. Thanks. (ted@tedtaylor.com).

  Also…Another collector friend is seeking the complete 1950 Bowman football reprint set and wonders why this is so hard to find. Can anyone help?

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