Collection Report: Lenny Dykstra

After completing yesterday’s inaugural Collection Report post, I decided to see which player in my collection had the most cards without my posting a single scan of one on this blog. Much to my surprise, the answer was Lenny Dykstra. Seeing as there are only 11 Phillies in my collection with more cards*, I cannot fathom how exactly I made 621 posts to this blog without including a single Dykstra card, but it happened.

My incomplete Database lists 701 Dykstra cards, printing plates, coins, stickers, etc. (Beckett only lists 661 Dykstra Phillies cards, some of which are clearly wrong.) Here is what’s in my collection:

1996 Emotion DykstraTotal cards: 335
“Unique” cards: 321
Solo cards: 322
Solo relic-autograph cards: 2
Solo autograph-only cards: 8
Solo relic-only cards: 2
Multiplayer cards, Phillies only: 8
Multiplayer cards, with other teams: 5
Multiplayer relic-only cards: 2
Multiplayer autograph-only cards: 1
Professionally graded cards: 0
Want Listed: 9

Just an aside before discussing this report in detail, the “unique” cards category, not used in the Chuck Klein report, is an attempt to filter out multiple versions of the same card. It’s actually more nebulous than it sounds; parallels get filtered out, but I apply the “unique” label to cards that differ because of an autograph or embedded relic(s), but are otherwise identical to a more common “base” version. Furthermore, some parallels get the unique label because they actually contain a different photo or some other design element that gives them a dramatically different appearance — see the 1997 Fleer Ultra Gold Medallion parallels or the 2011 Topps Lineage 1975 Minis. Conversely, I consider some sets, like the Topps Tiffany sets from the ’80s, to actually be parallels even though they were marketed and sold as a separate, unique product. Yet, because the headache is just too great, I’ve made no effort to properly determine when various Topps/Bowman Chrome, Topps Opening Day and Topps Phillies Team sets reuse the same photo as the base set or bear a new photo. So, the term isn’t as precise as I would like, but it provides a somewhat clearer picture of the nature of the cards for a particular player in my collection.

2005 Playoff AM TT DykstraWith that out of the way, a couple things jump out at me as I look at this report. First and foremost, is the relatively small number of relic cards. Taking a brief look over at what’s currently available over on COMC, the number easily could be higher. This is less true for the autograph cards, but that’s only because I don’t feel the need to go after the many different Donruss Recollection Collection autographs — although, it might be nice to have one such 1992 card, only because I have quite a few from that set already. The other item that jumps out is the complete lack of graded cards. Of the 28 Phillies with the most cards in my collection, only one other does not have a graded card. I don’t feel any particular need to acquire any such cards for Dykstra. Though I suppose that if I could add one for just a couple bucks and I was in the right mood, I might do so.

A few other items to share. First, all the Dysktra cards on my want list incredibly low priority. In fact, the only card that sticks out as something I’d like to obtain sooner than later is probably his 19941994 Stdm Club Fin Dykstra Stadium Club Finest insert, which is a card a already have. It’s on my want list only because I want to replace it — my copy is a victim of the dreaded color fade that affects so many Chrome and Finest cards throughout the ’90s. That is, if I can find a replacement I would be happy with — a rant for another day. As for the cards in my collection, I harbor no doubts when declaring the 2005 Playoff Absolute Memorabilia Tools of the Trade autograph-triple relic card as my favorite; the fact that it uses a photo of Dykstra wearing the ’70s-’80s jersey just makes it that much more awesome. It’s a candidate for possible professional grading, but there are plenty of other cards in my collection higher on the priority list.

Moving forward, I plan on one Collection Report per week — that is, when I’m not on some hiatus, announced or otherwise. As always, requests in the comment section are welcome.

* I’m reasonably certain that most well-informed Phillies collectors could quickly name at least 10 of them. The 11th player might be a little tricky, but shouldn’t be too big a surprise.

Collection Report: Chuck Klein

At the risk of repeating information 2003 Gallery HOF KleinI’ve shared in the past, one of the many reasons for the Database Project (which is still ongoing and will be the subject of a post very soon) was my desire to quickly and easily get a report of every single card I owned of a particular player — as well knowing which cards of that player I didn’t own. While I continue to work on the database, I actually have entered all the cards in my collection into my personal version of the file. Currently, work on the database predominantly consists of adding new releases as they appear, formatting, and slowly combing through the most recent edition of SCD’s Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards and cross-referencing it against other sources of information to make sure I’m not missing anything.

This ongoing work, however, does not stop me from generating the type of reports I’ve been wanting to make. So, for the first time, here’s one such report. I decided to start with Hall of Famer Chuck Klein, for no other reason than I’ve previously posted only one of his cards to this blog. So without further ado, here’s how Klein is represented in my collection:

Solo cards: 321929 Kashin Klein
Multiplayer cards: 2 (both Phillies only)
Memorabilia cards: 5
Professionally graded cards: 4
Autograph cards: 0

Admittedly, this wasn’t a very interesting report. The few certified autograph cards issued thus far are cut autographs with miniscule print runs, and there’s no way I’ll manage to add any of them to my collection. The four graded cards represent the entirety of the cards I own that were issued during his playing days, and the possibility of acquiring additional ones from that period are somewhat remote, though I won’t rule it out. I’m ridiculously ambivalent about the fact that I have five Klein memorabilia cards — nothing has changed since my initial post about the subject of such cards for players whose careers ended decades ago. The closest thing there is to a Chuck Klein “want” on my list is probably his 1934-1936 Batter-Up card, which is almost certainly out of the range of what I can afford. Failing that, it would be nice to add his 1936 S and S Game (WG8) card to the collection, and it certainly isn’t too expensive. My favorite Klein card in my collection is easily the 1929 Kashin shown here. Nothing against the Goudeys and the other full-color cards of the ’30s, but in my eyes this is the nicest pre-War II Klein card made.

Future player reports likely will be more interesting. Please feel free to leave requests for future player collection reports in the comment section.

Card Number 20,000

I intended to write this post nearly four months ago. I suppose better late than never. Since acquiring this milestone card, the collection has increased by another 250 cards.

Back in October 2003, my only child was born. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter my wife lost her job. In an effort to keep our finances afloat, I sold nearly all my pre-World War II Phillies cards, as well as the majority of my pre-1957 Bowman and Topps cards. In most cases, I had complete 1927 Exhibits Mokanteam sets, and that includes notables ones such as the T206 White Border and 1933 Goudey. It was something I did willingly—the health and well-being of my family was far more important than my baseball card collection—but I didn’t enjoy doing it

Over the past five years, I’ve slowly rebuilt that portion of my collection. It probably would’ve gone much more quickly if I hadn’t devoted so many resources to acquiring the ridiculous number of cards that I originally missed out on during the 2004-2009 timeframe (especially 2005), when I had to be far more selective about what I collected. I’ve managed to reassemble the Play Ball sets, the ’55 and ’56 Topps sets, and most of the Bowman team sets, but the majority of the team sets I once owned remain works in progress. Some of them I may never complete again; in particular, I just don’t see how I’ll ever manage to reacquire a T206 White Border Titus—the remaining card I need to complete that particular team set.

On the other hand, I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up some cards I didn’t own (let alone imagine owning) 10 years ago. I now possess a few Cracker Jack cards, some caramel cards, a few exhibits, a Tattoo Orbit, and even a few pins. The presence of these cards in my collection more than offsets the OCD angst caused by the fact that I still need to complete many pre-1954 Phillies team sets. Nonetheless, the completion of some of those sets remains a serious goal. One such set was the 1949 Bowman, and it probably comes as no surprise that the Ashburn rookie card was one of the final cards I needed to complete it.

Of all the cards I sold during the 2003-2004 winter, the Ashburn’s rookie card was the one that hurt the most when I sold it. I actually only owned it for roughly a year at the time, but it was easily the centerpiece of my collection. 1949 Bowman AshburnIt wasn’t in the best condition (it was professionally graded by SGC as a 40), but I was thrilled with its overall appearance. Yet, at the time I felt confident that I could require it somewhat easily once I again possessed the resources to do so.

I was wrong.

Roughly 18 months ago, I started actively searching for another 1949 Bowman Ashburn card professionally graded in VG or VG-EX condition. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a card that more than held its value—it was more expensive that it had been when I bought and sold it 10 years earlier (even when factoring inflation over that time). I quickly resigned myself to the idea that I would need to accept one graded in Good condition. Even then, it took a great amount of patience. Finally, around the time I was approaching the 20,000 milestone, one finally hit eBay at a price relatively near what I was willing to pay. Thankfully, the seller had a “Make Best Offer” option on the “Buy It Now” price and I was able to negotiate the card down to the maximum I was willing to pay.

So, once again it’s a centerpiece to my collection, and although it wasn’t technically the 20,000th Phillies card in my possession, I made sure that it was the 20,000th added to the Excel spreadsheet I use to track my collection. It’s not as nice as my original 1949 Bowman Ashburn BackAshburn rookie card, but at least I own one again (which is more than could very well be said about the T206 Titus.) Just as nice, it meant that it put me just one card away from completing my 1949 Bowman team set—the completion of which I described yesterday.

If you told me 30 years ago that one day I would own over 20,000 Phillies cards, I might’ve believed that it potentially could happen sometime significantly later in life; I just don’t think any of us back in the mid ‘80s could’ve possibly anticipated the radical changes in the hobby that would begin around the start of the ‘90s and continue to this day. Barring a catastrophic collapse in the hobby or my finances, 30,000 seems incredibly likely at some point down the road—as mind-boggling as that possibility seems.

Flip This Card, or Taking Advantage of “The Bumgarner Effect”

I am happy and grateful to take recent advantage of “The Bumgarner Effect.” See, a couple years back I put together the base set for 2010 Topps National Chicle. I busted a hobby box and a couple retail blasters, and amongst those packs I got a Madison Bumgarner autograph card. At the time, it was routinely selling for no more than five bucks on eBay, so I decided to just keep it2010 Nat Chicle Bumgarner and store alongside the completed base set and the various short prints I acquired during the initial pack-opening stage.

I gave very little thought about it again until midway through this past World Series, when I became curious as to what was happening to the value of the card. When I saw that his World Series performance caused the card to rocket into the $35-$50 range (as recently as late September, one such card sold for just $8.50, including shipping,) I knew I needed to take advantage of the sudden bounce in value. The best part: almost immediately, I was able to use the money to acquire the last card I needed to complete my 1949 Bowman team set: Stan Lopata, and I still had some cash to spare.

I can’t help but feel I came out ahead on this deal. Yes, Bumgarner has crafted an amazing postseason resume, and he currently possesses the skills to assemble a Hall of Fame resume. However, the history of baseball is replete with similarly great young pitchers whose careers flamed out before compiling the stats necessary to 1949 Bowman Lopatagarner enshrinement. Hell, it appears that one of Bumgarner’s own teammates, Tim Lincecum, may very well join the likes of Dwight Gooden, Bret Saberhagen, Fernando Valenzuela, Vida Blue, and Dontrelle Willis — just to name other such examples from my lifetime.

Even if Bumgarner’s career eventually reaches Hall-worthy status, I’d still much rather have the Lopata card. The primary reason for this should be obvious: it’s because I’m a Phillies collector first and foremost. Beyond that, however, is the fact that cards of Lopata’s vintage are holding their value much better than newer material. In addition, there are other Bumgarner autograph cards out there, and I suspect that plenty more will be made in the coming years. In other words, I have no doubt that I’ll face few difficulties should I ever want to reacquire a Bumgarner card at a decent price. The same cannot be said for a 1949 Bowman Stan Lopata in professionally certified in mid-grade condition.

I rarely get the opportunity to sell something from a pack I opened and then turnaround and use the money to fill a hole in my Phillies collection. Even within those confines, this one was a memorable one I’ll never harbor any regrets about.

Topps’s Awesome Job of Handling Roy Halladay’s 2010 Cards

Towards the end of the 2011 season, 2010 Topps Complete Set Halladay FrontI noted that Topps amazingly made sure that each of Roy Halladay’s cards in the 2010 Topps Opening Day, Topps Phillies Team, Topps Chrome, Topps Factory Set Phillies Team Bonus, and Topps Updates & Highlights sets carried different photos. Given Topps’s track record in regards to how it treats these sets, the only card you could’ve reasonably expected to use a different photo was the Factory Set Phillies Team Bonus card. Because of that history, it never occurred to me to check to see if Halladay’s Silk Collection card from Topps Updates & Highlights followed the same pattern. After all, why should it? The Silk Collection parallels always use the same photo.

Or, so I thought.

I was looking through Halladay’s Phillies cards on COMC to fill some holes in my want lists when I stumbled across the Silk Collection parallel from Updates & Highlights, and I paused. Something didn’t feel right — like there was a strange disturbance in The Force. 2010 Silk HalladayRemembering the post from over three years ago, I went back to it and the evidence was irrefutable: his Updates & Highlights Silk Collection card had a different photo from the card used in the main U&H set, and the photo was different from all the others Topps used in the aforementioned sets. I couldn’t believe my eyes; every Silk Collection parallel I had seen up to that point (aside from the special case 2011 John Mayberry, Jr.) and have seen since uses the same photo as the set it was issued with. Someone at Topps that year decided that they were going to use as many different photos as possible with Halladay, and I applaud them for it.

I wish they would do this sort of thing more often so as to insert some joy and reason into collecting all those sets that are little more than derivatives of the flagship set. Until that happens, I’ll attempt to take a closer look at any other Silk Collection cards I see in the future. I don’t expect any more surprises such as this, but I certainly would love to find one.

A Mystery Luzinski Card

I’m stumped. I don’tLawry's Luzinski know anything about this card, but when I saw it on eBay last week I decided I needed it. It’s not an officially-licensed card (by either MLB or the MLBPA), but it’s not a collector’s issue either. Based on the fact that it’s signed (and it looks completely legitimate when I compare it to the other Luzinski autographs in my collections) and the information on the back of the card, my best guess is that this was produced for an Acme in-store signing that Luzinski took part in. Acme then somehow got McCormick (the makers of various Lawry’s seasonings) and Lancaster Brand to co-sponsor the signing, in what I assume was an effort to offset the cost of paying Luzinski to sign autographs for free. But all of that is based on supposition — the lack of copyright date on the card means it could’ve been printed at any time in the last 20+ years years — as I cannot find anything on the internet about it.

Lawry's Luzinski BackSo, if anyone can shed some additional light on this card, please share as a comment. Aside from the scans, the only information I can provide is that it measures 4″ x 6″, the same size as every Phillies team issue set since 1989. I’d love to add it to the database, thus adding it to my official count of Phillies cards, but without knowing anything more about the card, I don’t feel as though I can do so. Nonetheless, it’s a niece piece to have — it’s just a shame that I’m a vegetarian and that there’s no way I’m actually going to try the recipe on the back.

Second Best Name In Phillies History

1919 W514 DilhoeferShort of winning the lottery, a 0% probability since I don’t buy the necessary tickets, there is no way I will ever be able to afford any of the Phillies from the 1886 MacIntire Studio set. Thus, it’s impossible that I’ll ever own a card of Cannonball Titcomb, the man who possesses the greatest name in team history. However, during my recent hiatus from posting I picked up the next best thing: a Pickles Dilhoefer card. I truly don’t believe there is a player in team history who both bears a name as colorful as either Dilhoefer’s or Titcomb’s and appears on a baseball card as a member of the Phillies.

On a related note, the appalling lack of colorful nicknames among modern ballplayers truly is a travesty. Outside of Chooch, there just hasn’t been very many of them on the Phils over the past 30 years.