Thursday, July 20, 2017

Tons Of Dime Box Goodies

Over the past few weeks I've made more trips to Chameleon Cards & Comics than I did for all of last year. I'm not sure what exactly has changed, but it might be due to how I have some trades and Zaps in the works.

Anyway, every time I go, I head straight towards the dime box. It's small and often doesn't contain a whole lot quantity wise, but quality wise there's a lot of really great stuff in there. I often dig through the cardboard looking to ramp up my TTM reserves or get some nice misc cards for pretty much nothing.

Hello old friend

This time, I went with old MLB products and a few recent MLB products to serve as Zap fodder for trading partners. The Bowmans and whatnot will be for them to discuss. I'll instead talk about other things.

Before we begin, let me admit that I'm spoiled. Due to card shows and card shops having incredibly great dimeboxes (and nickeboxes) I won't pay more than 15 cents for late 70's, early 80's cards, or junk wax for that matter. This is why my COMC purchases are always limited to Yankees prospect flame outs or parallels meant to go to other collectors. This is also why I take full advantage when I actually do see these types of bins. Especially when I'm dealing in a no-man's land we all call...


Nobody cares enough to look or think twice at this crap but I (oddly enough) do. Why? Because when you're able to add HoFers and fan favorites for 10 cents each, you do it.

In all of these bargain bins, there are often some HoFers and nice names you know are worth more than 10 cents inside. Are they going to break the bank on eBay? No. But this way you don't have to spent 0.99 cents and possibly shipping to have it sent to you. Which is a deal in itself.

Sandberg showed up the most with five cards. Admittedly one of them isn't from his playing days, but I figure it'd be a nice card to send along to any Cubs collectors as Zip fodder.

To ensure that there's no anti-Brewers bias, the box made sure to have three Molitors inside of it. As well as three Schmidts. Sixty cents for six cards of two HoFers, not bad.

All of these cards were pretty much in the same section/column of the box. I'm guessing that the store just bought a bunch of this stuff from someone who wanted to get rid of it, but the person who sold it kept all of the good names together. Works for me.

The box is really making an appeal to Tony to ensure that it's not accused of Yankees favoritism. I can personally attest to the box's overall lack of Yankees BTW. There were more Sixto Lezcanos in the box than there were Yankees.

With all of that shown, off to the fan faves.

Always good to see names like Tommy John and Orel Hershiser in bargain bins.

And of course the box supplied it's fair share of cool shots too. All of which you've all likely seen before at card shows or on Nick The Dime Box King's blog.

All of these cards were rather fun. I know that they're not really all that special to most of us here in the states since we see these junk wax cards being sold for dirt cheap, but they're still HoFers and notable names and I still enjoy picking them up for literal pennies on the dollar. Especially since they mean more and are worth more to my friends overseas who don't have much access to cards made before 1995.

I guess I'll wrap up this gratuitous "just a bunch of scans with no substance' post with a few cards I picked up for personal reasons.

I picked up a shit-ton of Giants for a special trade I'm working on and the number of Jack Clarks in the box were right up there with the number of Orel Hershisers. This would've been a fun box for Giants and Dodgers fans to yell at eachother about.

Years ago when I got the Candelaria 8x10 photo custom signed for Bob Walk The Plank at a card show, I scrambled to find a Yankees-era Candy Man card to get signed for myself. It showed up two years too late in a dime box and I have no signed Yankees-era Candy Man card in my collection.

The late Dodger Bobby Castillo holds a special place in the fans of Dodger fans who remember him. He was also a member of the Chunichi Dragons so this goes into my Dragons PC.

Sobs... I still miss him...

Finishing off this post is the lone 50 cent pickup I made. This blue refractor of Tetsuto Yamada. It's numbered 120/150. Yamada is still one of the more notable bats in the NPB but he is having a down year this year. Hopefully the 25 year old can get back on track soon.

And that was my haul. In all I spent about $20 between this latest trip and my last trip combined. These dime boxes are awesome but when they add up, they really add up.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Mint Cards From Japan

Around last year I tipped off NPB Card Guy that the biggest chain of baseball/trading card stores in Japan, MINT, had begun offering international buying options. His post explains the process pretty well. You email them and attach URLs of the items you want to buy. They send you an invoice on Paypal (or however you choose to pay), you pay, they ship the cards out in a matter of days, and in a week or two you get your items.

I assume this service was originally set up for buyers in the Chinese/Taiwanese market who're really into basketball cards or for Americans who may be interested in Mint's MLB selection (I helped a guy get a 1/1 Mark Teixiera card thanks to this service).

Well it also comes in handy for people like me who want to either A). buy boxes of NPB products, or B). buy singles of NPB products.

I didn't really want to buy a box because like MLB products, most boxes don't return much value. The boxes themselves usually cost either 6000 yen or anywhere above that ($60+). The completed sets and such can be had for anywhere between 500-3000 yen (aprox 5-30 USD) on the secondary market, and chances are you're going to pull a regular autograph that just sits in the 2000-3000 yen range ($20-30). Meaning that you're almost never going to break even on your box.

So I went the singles route instead. I'll simply pick up a set of 2017 BBM Heat (Dragons Edition) for cheap next time I go to Japan.

And I'm glad I went this route because I ordered my very first certified Shigeru Sugishita autograph. It's a bit hard to see but this one is numbered 03/35. This cost me the price of a blaster and a rack pack combined. But for a legendary HoF Dragon who basically IS Mr. Dragons to me and my family, it's well worth the price.

I've kept tabs on Mr. Sugishita in Japanese news cycles to see how his health is but for the most part he seems to be fine. The 91 year old God of Forkballs had a pretty nice piece in 週刊スポーツ (Shukan Sports), a Japanese sports magazine, earlier in the year where he explained that his forkball was taught to him when he was a sophomore at Meiji University by legendary NPB Hall of Famer Shinichi Amachi, who himself learned the forkball from the American All Stars who had come to Japan in 1922. Amachi was Sugishita's manager and personal coach throughout high school and college. The duo would later lead the Dragons to it's first Nippon Series title in 1954. He also went into details about how the forkball works and how it was classified back in the day.
Nowadays Mr. Sugishita goes golfing 2-3 times a month at the age of 91. He's so active even strangers come up to him and say they hope to lead full, long, fulfilling lives like he's done. I don't blame them, that's what I'd say if I ever met him too (right after asking for an In Person autograph). He also keeps up with baseball, and spoke highly of Shohei Ohtani.

I swear, the more I learn about Mr. Sugishita, the more fun I find in researching Japanese Baseball History. I look forward to doing more research and presenting more parts of the Sugishita story as I post more about him.

Sidenote, now Mr. Sugishita is an official PC guy. I've updated my PC page accordingly.

I picked up another OB Dragon, this time of Tatsuhiko Kimata. It's numbered 28/38.

Kimata is/was the Dragons' catcher for all of 19 seasons. During his college days as a star MVP caliber catcher at Chukyo University, he quit halfway through and joined the Chunichi Dragons as a professional in 1964. Kimata hit pretty well for a catcher during his career and was even the very first catcher to hit over 30 dingers in a single season when he hit 33 dingers in 1969 (nice). Kimata also became the first catcher on a Central League based team to play in over 2000 games (he was the second in history behind Katsuya Nomura), although my sources can't specify whether he appeared in all 2000+ as a catcher or as something else :P.

One interesting tidbit I found researching Mr. Kimata's story is that he had an interesting batting stance. One where he lifted his left leg when waiting for the pitch and made contact with one leg. A stance which was dubbed the "Masakari" method. Unfortunately the best video I could find of it was the one I embedded above.

The last (but certainly not least) of my pickups, is this autograph from 2017 BBM Heat of Dragons pitcher Hiroto Fuku.

Fuku was drafted by the Chunichi Dragons in the fourth round of the 2015 NPB Player Draft. After high school Fuku played in the professional industrial league (Japan's equivalent of Indy Ball) as part of the JR Kyushu team, and managed to get some attention from pro scouts thanks to his 150 kph (aprox 93 mph) heat. Fuku is a reliever with a upper 80's fastball, upper 60's slider, mid-60's changeup, and a curveball. Fuku's outlook is a middle reliever and, yeah, that sounds about right.

This Fuku cost me around $12. A little much for the NPB equivalent of Tyler Webb but considering it's low print run, it's excusable. If nothing else, this and a used competed set of Heat will ensure that I only spend half the price of a sealed box on the same contents :P.

Normally that'd be the end of it but Mint threw in some extras :).

First was this Cross Freeze insert from 2016. 2016 was Takayuki Kishi's last year as a member of the Seibu Lions as he signed a four year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles last winter. Kishi is a native from the Tohoku region so it makes sense that the 32 year old veteran wanted to go back home.

Next up is another 2016 BBM card, this time a base offering of Daiki Tohmei. A middling starter for the Orix Buffaloes with a low 90's fastball, slider, forkball, shuuto and changeup.

And here's former Red Sox farmhand/Pirate/Twin, Kris Johnson. Johnson became a really good starter for the Hiroshima Carp after arriving in 2015 and even won the Sawamura Award, an award they don't give to foreigners often (Johnson himself was the first to earn it in 52 years). Johnson's a quarter Japanese as his grandmother on his father's side is Japanese.

And finally there was Mint's official business card. It's very shiny in person and has a refractory rainbow effect. Color me impressed.

And that was my latest package from Japan. I've had a lot of them come through in recent times and I'm happy because of it.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Peanuts. Cracker Jacks. Water. Ice Cold Beer.

If you've gone to a baseball game, chances are pretty good you've at least heard a vendor walking down aisles selling any of the things in the title of this post. Salty snacks, maybe some ice cream, and cold beverages for a hot summer day. These vendors have been a part of the stadium experience for a while and they will be as long as baseball continues to try to milk every last penny it can from consumers. This is not just limited to baseball in America either.

In Japan they also have vendors, the most notable are probably "Beer Girls." Cute(?) girls around high school/college age (may just be college age now actually) who sell beer to thirsty men fans.

One of these beer girls who've gotten very popular is Honoka Suruga here. She was a beer girl for the Yokohama BayStars (aka the DeNA BayStars). Eventually she entered the entertainment industry and started working as model. Her agency marketed her as being "so cute, you won't believe she's just a beer girl," and she started appearing in sports related magazines before appearing in more general/non-sports magazines. Apparently she's also appeared in various TV talk shows, radio shows and even a music video.

Anyway she was popular enough that the card company Hit's decided to cash in and release a card set for her, which is where the sock relic above came from. It's numbered to 60 copies and yet it's the lowest on the rarity meter.

The back features another shot of Honoka, revealing that she's wearing a pretty generic jersey that says Florida and 9. Kinda looks like a Florida Gators jersey but I'm too lazy to really check what it is.

I picked up this relic because this marks the first time I've obtained any kind of card of a stadium vendor. Granted it's not "event used" at a game but, close enough? This has me thinking though, if Topps is willing to give autograph slots to dorks like Bayless and Hample, they might as well just get people like the vendors and people who do boring ordinary things at stadiums to fill those slots. We need another Director of Smiles card damnit. Or maybe The Freeze? Or the interns who run the Cubs' Twitter account?

Anyway that was my latest import from Japan.

As always thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Double Dip

It's been a while since I was able to enjoy a live baseball game in it's entirety. I actually got to do that yesterday when I stayed for one whole game (the first of a double header).

But before all of that, the autographs.

The key for me this time was getting this custom Jorge Guzman signed. Guzman has been nothing short of a beast during his time in Staten Island and given his success, it wouldn't surprise me if he was up in Charleston by season's end. So I whipped up this custom really quickly and got it signed. I love it. Even if Jorge did sign over his face. Also, I dig the autograph, if he ever signs certified autographs for a company, I assume this signature will change quite a bit.

Guzman didn't pitch in either of the two games yesterday (breaking my streak of games I've attended started by Guzman), but I'm still glad I got this. Guzman is one of the prospects that came over to the Yankees in the Brian McCann trade and is a righty with effortless but still impressive velocity that can sit in the triple digits. Like any fireballer, location and command is still an issue for Guzman but you wouldn't think it given his performance thus far this year. Especially the July 3rd outing (the one I went to) where he went 6.2 IP, struck out 10 batters, and allowed zero runs. Eventually I think he'll come back down to Earth a bit and he'll have to make adjustments again, but that's good. It wouldn't surprise me if he went on to really blossom in the Yankees org like Domingo Acevedo has done so far.

Next up is an autograph of top prospect Wilkerman Garcia. I thought I was done for the year with Wilkerman's IPs (until the team set comes out) but I happened to pull this from some retail packs the other day so, why not? Wilkerman played in the first game and got a single, but was also picked off during the game. Still a lot of promise in him though.

Next up is Will Jones, who actually pitched in yesterday's game in relief. Drafted in the 28th round of the 2016 MLB Player Draft, Jones was a utility guy in college but he's been drafted as a pitcher (in relief). He did pitch as a starter before though. Jones came into the game in the fourth and pitched 1.2 IP. He allowed a run and got one SO.

Last but not least is another 2016 draftee, Greg Weissert. Armed with a low 90's fastball, a slider and a work-in-progress changeup, Weissert has pitched in relief as a pro so far since becoming a Yankee. Weissert may get a few spot starts here and there but his future role hinges on his development of the changeup. Good luck Greg.

And those were my autographs.

The first game was started by Trevor Stephan. The Yankees' third rounder this year. He had some rough stretches but manages to work around the jams he found himself in. A lot of the contact made against him in this game was rather weak, and he managed to hold the Vermont LakeMonsters scoreless for three innings.

The Yankees took game one by a score of 3-1. Dom Thompson-Williams singled Ryan Krill home in the third. Catcher Francisco Diaz, who had a heck of a game by going 3-for-3, later had a two RBI single with the bases loaded to give the SI Yanks an insurance run.

Yankees won the game in 7 innings because MiLB double headers only go 7 innings each (unless there's a tie).

I didn't stick around for the second game, but the Yankees lost that one 6-1. Juan De Paula (who came over from the Seattle Mariners in the Ben Gamel trade) allowed four runs in the first and that set the scene for the rest of the game.

Even so, the Staten Island Yankees were a lot of fun to watch today. Stephan's promising pitching, and the lineup that's full of guys worth keeping an eye on. They're also sitting pretty atop the McNamara division in the standings. A hot start can really make or break your entire season in these short-season leagues.

I'll close out this post by mentioning that it was a special Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle themed day. They passed out these special comics/NYC tourism promos, and Michaelangelo and Raphael actually showed up to the game.

Raph especially enjoyed watching the game.

And that was my latest MiLB game. It might be my last for a while as I wait for the team set to come out (hopefully) soon. For now I have the autographs of everyone I wanted, and I'm sitting pretty.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

2017 IP Auto Count: 21