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), or you can email him at ted@tedtaylor.com.

Ted Taylor's latest 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).

February 15, 2015

This is our 40th Year of hobby columns

Ted Taylor’s Collector’s Corner

2015 Baseball Cards are out!!! Topps brings spring!

  You can always tell when spring is here. Forget about the robins, the true harbinger is the first box of brand new baseball cards. The 2015 Topps cards have arrived and they do not disappoint. (But, really, how could a baseball card disappoint you?) Dodger phenom, Yasiel Puig decorates the box and the packs.

  Of course this is the base set. Not usually terribly exciting from a design standpoint but gone are the full white borders. Borders have a sort of stone pattern to them, starting out light at the top and fading into team colors.

  They’re calling this the biggest set in a long time – 350 cards - (released now is series 1, of course, meaning a 700 card set is the plan) and it features a slightly larger checklist. Hobby boxes return with the promise of one autograph or relic card – my hobby box (36 10-card packs) contained a Mookie Betts career highlights relic. (With the same old disclaimer that the relic doesn’t come from anything specific.) Jumbo boxes deliver one autograph and a pair of relics.

  Besides veterans and rookies, the 2015 Topps Series 1 Baseball base set has Future Stars, Season Highlights, World Series Highlights, team cards, and League Leaders.

  I pulled two vintage Topps cards (with a gold 2015 inprint added). They were a 1966 Jim King card and a 1969 Galen Cisco. Nice, but really I wonder why? Also inside - where almost 25% of the box was cards of old-timers - I did find some of baseball’s biggest names (Cobb, Gehrig, Ruth) and they all go in to a binder I’ve been building for the last decade or so of immortals. (One day my Grandson might enjoy this assortment.)

  Along with the usual suspects – and a disarming number of traded players or free agents no longer with the team they played for in 2014 – are some nice rookie cards, a transparent Alex Cobb card (03/10) and a bunch of “First Pitch” cards (celebrities who did the honors in 2014) and history-related cards such as Dick Clark on Bandstand, Ted Turner launching CNN and Casey Kasam the host (now deceased) of radio’s long-running syndicated “Top 40” show.

  My box also contained four “Call your shot” game cards that make you chose options of what prize to pursue – autographs, etc. You make the choice, go to the web and presto! (or not).

  The hobby box is going in the $80 range and I found the selection to be quite good – just a very few duplicates.

Bowman 2014 Sterling Baseball..Lots of autographs

  Every box of the new ultra high end 2014 Bowman Sterling baseball cards promises you “18 autographs per box” which is almost true. (Of course the cards came out in 2015, but are part of the 2014 line. Got it?) I got 17 signed cards and one of those annoying “Congratulations you are due to receive a prospect auto”. Okay, but why wasn’t it in my box? I now have to go on the web or mail this card to them. I get that, sometimes, you run out of autographs but my gut tells me that’s not the case.

  Here’s a box going in the $210 range, and cases bringing $1,800. Can you say pricey? The hobby box contains six packs of four cards each. That means that each pack contains one card without an autograph.

  About half of my signed cards were with signatures directly on the card, but the other half were those signed pieces of Scotch tape affixed to the front of the card. Why didn’t the players – these are not big stars, yet – take the time to sign the actual cards? Another beef, I cannot actually read any of the 17 signatures. They are all scribbles. Whatever became of penmanship?

  All the players (being Bowman) are rookies or pre-rookies. All are attired in big league uniforms yet not one card has any indication that these players have ever seen a minute of big league action. I’m a pretty astute fan and I recognized one player (of the 17) and that’s because it’s J. P. Crawford of the Phillies. J. P. is highly rated, still at least a year away. Of the rest I recognize no one.

  In the non-signd category I got two Mookie Betts #17 cards (two in 24?), another Crawford (this one not signed), Addison Russell of the Cubs (who?) and two others.

  Of course Bowman is “the home of the rookie card” and some of the 17 may well turn out to be big news sometime down the road. But, for now, they are just guys in MLB uniforms. The flip side is, it’s a roll of the dice and lots of collectors will happily take he plunge.

Topps 2014 Strata Football

  It’s 2015 but Topps keeps rolling out product. It’s clear, that despite his poor rookie season, Topps still likes Johnny Manziel (or maybe they signed him to such a big deal that they have to use him regardless) because he’s the poster player for 2014 NFL Strata football. The box proclaims “3 Hits Per Box!” and so this product, going in the $60-a-box range, will deliver one clear cut autograph, one autograph card and one relic card. Three hits is a good thing.

  Now in its third year, 2014 Topps Strata Football continues with the brand's focus on shadow box-like autographed memorabilia cards. The popular inserts return as a showcase box hit, and this yields something “high-end” in a product that's cheaper than most.

  The checklist includes more than 30 rookies. The distinct cards take a layered approach with a large jersey swatch acting as a base, followed by the player image and an autograph on a piece of die-cut acetate. Numbered parallels include Bronze, Sapphire, Emerald and Ruby. All but Bronze come with a patch swatch. There are also four different one-of-one Topaz parallels that have either gloves, a football swatch, a Nike Swoosh or a team patch.

  Strata Signature Relics are similar in their approach but have an even more three-dimensional appearance. Inserted as a case hit, all are numbered. Hobby-exclusive patch parallels come in the form of Ruby, Rivet and one-of-one Rivet Swoosh. Rivet cards swing open to show the three distinct layers that make up the card.

Bowman Chrome Football 2014

  It’s clearly 2015 and yet Topps (Bowman) keep trotting out 2014 tagged product. The latest is Bowman Chrome NFL 2014. The box features Jadeveon Clowney (a name that always makes me smile) and bills the fact that there’s one rookie autograph in every 18 pack (4-cards-per) box – in reality, every fourth box has two. Boxes are selling in the $100-per-range. Hobby boxes promise one autograph and a handful of Refractors in what is a fairly straightforward release. (Some sites give it three – of 5 – stars.)

  Although there were Chrome Autographs in 2014 Bowman Football, they featured the rookies in generic uniforms. 2014 Bowman Chrome Football fills in the logo holes, delivering new autograph cards for 75 first-year players.

  The base set has 220 cards. It mixes both rookies and veterans. On top of this, there are 50 rookies with photo variations. (Sure to drive you nuts hunting for them.) Refractors flow freely.

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