Sunday, April 28, 2019

The 1982-83 O-Pee-Chee Dating Game (Episode 3)

Welcome back to The 1982-83 O-Pee-Chee Dating Game, where we'll randomly select three eligible bachelors from the set and you, the reader, will choose which one wins that date with a special lady. How do we know they're bachelors? Why, it says so right on the back of their hockey cards, that's how!

Previous episodes are available here.

Episode 2 ended in a tie between Ron Francis and Steve Kasper. I'll keep the voting open for another week because we can't send both of those guys out on the date!

Now, let's start the 3rd round and introduce the bachelors chosen by the randomizer! [APPLAUSE]

Bachelor number 1: Right Wing from the Detroit Red Wings, Mike Blaisdell
Bachelor number 2: Center/Left Wing from the Edmonton Oilers, Mark Messier
Bachelor number 3: Center/Left Wing from the Montreal Canadiens, Ryan Walter

Ladies, we've got a trio of outdoorsmen this week. Let's find out more from the back of their cards.

Log cabins, flannel shirts, boats, and the scent of pine trees! Time to decide on a bachelor. Who will it be?

Bachelor number 1: Hunting man from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Mike Blaisdell?

Bachelor number 2: Newly crowned 50-goal scorer and water-skier, Mark Messier?

Bachelor number 3: British Columbia native Ryan Walter, who's recently been traded and might need a lovely lady to show him where the best fishing spots are in his new city of Montreal?

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Completed Set: 1978 Topps Baseball

Well, that was fast.

In January I posted a great meetup-and-trade experience that I had with Bo from Baseball Cards Come to Life! The box of cards he handed over to me that day contained a generous amount of 1978 Topps cards to start me on my set-completion journey.

And now, just a few months (and a few big trades) later, that initial stack of cards has turned into a total of 726. In other words, a complete set!

Not only that, but here's another example of how generous card collectors are:

Before I even finished setting up those trades and receiving all the cards, another collector reached out to me. Turns out he had a complete set of 1978s that he was willing to give me for a very, very good price, plus a small stack of Phillies cards that he needed. (Thanks Dan!)

So yes. That's right. Through the generosity of fellow collectors, I now have two complete sets. Amazing.

The 1978 design is one I've always enjoyed. It's the simple borders, unique script for the team names, and fielding-position-inside-a-baseball theme. Those straightforward, clean elements allow the photography—which in many cases is excellent—to really stand out.

And by excellent, I mean that in the 1978 set you've got some of the most classic of classic baseball card poses. Just look at these images and tell me that your baseball card senses aren't stirred into overdrive:

Robin Yount, #173

Nolan Ryan, #400

Greg Luzinski, #420

Jim Palmer, #160

They're superstars of baseball in superstar poses, captured on cardboard forever. And you'll find quite a handful of these types of cards in the set.

You'll also find plenty of cards that exemplify the ease and blue skies of springtime, like these:

Rick Manning, #11

Bob Grich, #18

Rich Hebner, #26

Bob Forsch, #58

And the dog days of summer, like these:

Dave Chalk, #178

Al Oliver, #430

Biff Pocoroba, #296

Dave Goltz, #249
Here's a card back, featuring the "Play Ball" game on the right-hand side:

In a previous post I wrote about why I like the Eddie Murray card from this set, so here are some other cards that I enjoy:

John Candelaria #190

Cecil Cooper, #154

Reggie Jackson, #200

Dave Winfield, #530

Ken Singleton, #65

I'm very happy that this set is checked off my list. Thanks very much to all of the readers, bloggers, and trading card forum members who've helped me complete it much more quickly than I could have imagined. Twice!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

From the Favorites Box: Terry Ruskowski, 1977-78 O-Pee-Chee WHA #37

A series where I post some thoughts about favorite cards. Previous cards in the series are available here.

I find that when people use the word "interesting" to describe something, it can mean quite a few different things.

Q: How did you like that movie?  

A: It was interesting.

Q: What do you think of my new green Hawaiian shirt with the orange palm trees and purple ukuleles on it?  

A: It's interesting.

Q: How was the weekend retreat with your coworkers? 

A: Sunday was interesting.

See what I mean?

Well, to continue that theme, the 66 cards that comprise the 1977-78 O-Pee-Chee WHA hockey set are also . . . interesting.

First off, I enjoy the design. It's basic, but the hockey stickinspired color bars do zoom across the card with all their neon glory. That's cool. And neon colors were more of an '80s thing. So maybe this card's design was even a little ahead of its time. Regardless, it's interesting.

Secondly, it's a WHA set, so it features some teams that no longer exist (Cincinnati Stingers, Indianapolis Racers, Quebec Nordiques, New England Whalers, Houston Aeros, Birmingham Bulls). That, by itself, is interesting.

The set also features a few players wearing uniforms of the Calgary Cowboys, Minnesota Fighting Saints, Phoenix Roadrunners, and San Diego Mariners—WHA teams that had folded the year before (or in the case of Marc Tardif and the Los Angeles Sharks, four years before!). These teams did not even exist when packs of the cards were on store shelves in 1977-78. That certainly is interesting.

Many images in the set are dark, or poorly framed, or weird. (Check out Anders Hedberg, card #3, and tell me it's not . . . uhhm . . . interesting.)

There is a checklist—at card number 58. A location in a 66-card set that you might find . . . interesting.

The first card in the set celebrates Gordie Howe's 1,000th professional goal, and has a completely different design on the front and back than the other 65 cards in the set. Also interesting.

And in the news during the summer of 1978? A 17-year-old kid named Wayne Gretzky signed with the Indianapolis Racers. So unfortunately, this set just missed out on being a lot more interesting.

But let's turn away from the vagaries of that word, and move to something more definite:

Terry Ruskowski's card.

Now that's a specimen. Ruskowsi is caught in motion, swooping in from the wing and crystal clear while his teammates on the bench behind him are a blur. You even get a good look at the team colors and the classic design of those "Aeros" letters running diagonally across the front of his jersey. (And he's the team captain, look.)

The back of the card? Also cool.

Considered to be one of the better fighters in the WHA, Terry gained that reputation on the strength of his quick right hand and on his not backing away from any challenge. 

Man, what a cool era it was for that kind of information to be considered pertinent.

And thanks to the modern era, we've got some proof of the 5'10", 168-lb. Ruskowski's pugilistic prowess.

Watch here, as Buffalo's Paul Cyr gets rough with a young Mario Lemieux off-camera, and Ruskowski steps in to unleash some schoolyard justice. 

Aside from that quick right hand, Ruskowski also put up some respectable numbers throughout his WHA and NHL career, his best seasons coming with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1979-80 (15 G, 55 A, 70 PTS, 252 PIM) and the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1985-86 (26 G, 37 A, 63 PTS, 162 PIM).

For the little guy stepping up to protect his teammates, and for the great image on the front of the card, 1977-78 O-Pee-Chee WHA #37 has a spot in my box of favorite cards.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Well-Traveled Envelope Challenge

A few months ago, Gavin from Baseball Card Breakdown posted a handy guide on how to pack and ship cards safely and cheaply.

One of his suggestions was to reuse as much packing material as possibleenvelopes, top loaders, painter's tape, bubble wrap, etc.

I finished reading the post, and started thinking: Why don't we start a challenge where bloggers try to reuse the same envelope and supplies as many times as possible when sending cards to one another? It would be fun, it's good for the environment, we'd improve our card-packing skills, and we'd even save a little money. That's a win all around.

Well, a few months have passed, and I say it's time we give it a try. Since Gavin's post was the impetus for this challenge, I'm going to start off by sending him some cards he needs. Then he'll use the same bubble mailer and supplies to send some cards to another blogger, and so on. It'll be fun to track the envelope as it makes its way around the country (or possibly countries?).

Because you might one day be a recipient of the esteemed and well-traveled envelope, here are some tips that will keep the streak going:

(1) To open it and remove your cards, use a pair of scissors to cut the finest line possible across one end, as shown. Better yet, if you've got an x-acto knife or box cutter, just make a cut across the top edge where the previous blogger taped the envelope closed. That will keep the envelope from getting smaller each time it's used.

(2) To pack up your outgoing cards, place them in the same team bag that your incoming cards arrived in, sandwich them between the same top-loaders your incoming cards were sandwiched between, and seal the sides with painter's tape. (As Gavin mentioned in his tips, a pull-tab on each strip of tape is a nice touch.) You can use more supplies if you have more cards to send.

(3) Add your information to the tracking sheet so we can keep a running tab on just how far the envelope has traveled as the challenge continues.

(4) If the previous blogger affixed a mailing label to the envelope using clear tape, try to carefully remove it. If it peels off, that's great. If not, you can try using the edge of a pair of scissors to start a little cut on the angle (going through the tape, but not the bubble mailer), and then peel from there. You can also try to peel off the USPS tracking number and postage stickers. If any of that proves too difficult or frustrating, you can tape your new mailing label on top of the old one. But let's try to avoid too much label build-up.

(5) Once your new mailing label is on, place the cards and the tracking sheet inside the envelope and reseal the open edge carefully.

(6) Post an update on your blog! Feel free to include images of the cards you received and mention who sent them. Also mention which blogger you're sending some cards to next. (Let's keep the specific mailing addresses private, though.)

For starters, I'd like to put a one-year time frame on this. If momentum is still strong after thatand if the envelope is still holding togetherwe can just keep going.

There are no specific rules on card quantity, and it doesn't have to be a trade. If you know a blogger you just want to send some cards to, that's fine. (Generosity among this community won't be a problem, that's for sure.) You can even reach out to a blogger you've never interacted with. Maybe you can help them with their want lists.

All that being said, the first shipment is on its way to you, Gavin!

Looking forward to this, everyone.

P.S.Leave a comment below if you want to be part of the challenge. That will give Gavin some ideas on who to send cards to next.