Sunday, January 28, 2018

2018 Royals FanFest

My wife and I made the annual trek to the Royals FanFest this weekend in Kansas City.  Unlike the last two years, the crowds were pretty mild.  I heard they had between 10,000 and 15,000 each day.  Last year, I would have put the attendance at probably 30,000 per day.  It was a madhouse.  This year's decline in attendance is most likely due to free agents Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Lorenzo Cain not in attendance.  FanFest is always a good time but I must say that this year was more relaxed, and thus, more enjoyable.

The FanFest is set up in the Bartle Hall of the Kansas City Convention Center.  My first order of business is usually to swing through the team store to check out what Royals Authentics is offering in the way of jerseys, bats, autographed balls, etc.  After talking to the RA manager, it was apparent that this year's selection was pretty dismal.  There wasn't much in the way of reasonable jerseys or autographed bats.  So I headed to the autographed ball section and was able to snag a few of the departed players that I didn't have for basically the cost of a ball.  That group included Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Scott Alexander, Jason Vargas, and Tony Cruz.  Ironically, they would announce on the morning of Day #1 that they had re-signed Escobar to a 1-year deal.

Then it is off to the autograph lines where it becomes a waiting game.  Every hour on 6 different stages they bring out current or former players, managers, broadcasters to sign about 150 items.  They allow one item per person.  They don't announce who is going to be at what station, but every year a list gets out and it becomes a race to find someone to share it with you.  I have learned that during the many hours of waiting it pays to strike up a conversation with your neighbors and it paid off big time this year.  On Day #2, I was in a line that ended up having Ned Yost, Royals manager in it.  During a conversation prior to Yost coming out, I mentioned to my neighbor that I was hoping to snag an autograph of a player that had alluded me during the previous 5 years.  When I said it was Salvador Perez, he checked his phone and told me I might want to head to a different stage for the next session.  I took his word and it turned out great as I ended up being the 4th-to-last person for the Salvy line.  I now have an autographed 2015 World Series ball.

I also head to the Royals ticket booth to see if any lower seats in my section are available.  I usually know the answer since the Kauffman Foundation has about 10 rows of seats below us.  I could have moved down a couple of rows where Red and 81 sit (yes, we name the people that sit around us), but decided to stay in our seats for two reasons:  1.  I'm getting to the point where the number of stairs matters (which is sad), and 2. I have figured that any foul balls off the press box below us will always bounce to our row and over the top of the first 3 rows (it is all about the geometry).  Anyway, I did find out that season ticket holders will be getting the nice Salvador Perez Bobblehead this year which will be a nice addition to the collection.

Along with the many booths they have at events like these, they always have about 8-10 sports card and collectible dealers.  We decided to walk around before we left and I struck up a conversation with one dealer who had some 1956 Topps in his showcase.  He stated he had some commons so I asked to take a look and ended up with these 10 cards to knock off my list.  That brings my want list down to 44 cards remaining.  I hope to complete that this year.....

It was a very enjoyable weekend.  It seems to always jumpstart the baseball season as I know that spring training will be just around the corner, my two real fantasy baseball leagues will be gearing up shortly, along with the historical baseball fantasy league that I'm in.  That may be worthy of a post all by itself.  My wife thinks I'm crazy, but it is really a fascinating league.  Anyway, here's to baseball for the next 9 months!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Organization and Goals - The Ever-Changing Madness

It seems like every year I start to commit to the organization of my card collection.  Cards get sorted, boxed, etc.  Then I begin to think, "What are my collecting goals?"  As far as cards go, it has always been my George Brett PC and to complete a run of Topps sets from 1973 to the present.  Then I head to my LCS or local show and buy something outside of these goals and the card piles begin again.

I used to limit my online card hunts to eBay, COMC, and other card blogs.  Last year I ventured into finding collectors via Twitter.  I quickly realized that my organization was very counter-productive to trading with others.  Sure, there are set collectors out there, but what I found were many more team collectors that made my search for trade-worthy material painful.  If I need a stack of Red Sox, it would take me hours to search everything that has been numerically ordered by individual sets.  Need a David Ortiz?  Let me pull out the SCD Standard Catalog and look up those card numbers, then go to the right box, only to realize I don't have that card.  Does it really make sense to put my eighteen 1983 Topps Bucky Dent #565 cards next to my seven Manny Sarmiento #566 cards???  Probably not!  Especially since my 1983 Topps set has been completed for many years.

So I begin the painful reorganization of many boxes of cards.  My plan is to pull any singles that I need to complete my sets that I am working on.  Then take the other cards and start dividing them into teams but also setting aside star players from each team.  This should only take me 5 or 10 years.....

So here is my new updated list of collecting goals which is much more in tune with what I actually collect.  In order, my current collecting goals are:

1.  George Brett PC
- This blog will continue to feature posts of all my George Brett cards in my PC.  I post the new featured cards on this page.
2.  1956 Topps Set.
- When complete, I will pick another pre-1973 set to work on.  My set want list will continue to be updated here.
3.  Royals Bobbleheads.
- I have every SGA bobblehead from Royals home games.  You will most likely see something about this in the future.
4.  Salvador Perez PC
- My newest Royal PC.  These may not appear on my blog but I will continue to search for cards that I don't have.
5.  Royals Team Sets from 1969-present.
- My Royals Team Set want list will be updated here as I work on the organization of my collection.
6.  Topps Sets from 1973 to present.
- I still need a few more, but will probably just purchase complete sets to fill in what I don't have.
7.  Autographed OMLB from each member of the 2015 World Series Champions.
- Currently over halfway there.
8.  2000 Upper Deck Legends Legendary Jersey Subset
- Started this probably 10 years ago.  I have posted about this before, although not recently because I am down to needing the Musial, Mays, and Gehrig cards which are rarely seen and will require $$$.  My collection can be seen here although I see this needs to be updated.
9.  2013 Upper Deck Lettermen Collin Klein
-  I NEED the "A".  Who has it?
10. EVERYTHING ELSE including other sets that I have collected through the years like the early 80s Donruss and Fleer sets.

Happy Collecting!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

George Brett Card of the Day #9

1983 Kellogg's 3-D Super Stars #4

During the 1970s and 1980s you might find a baseball card in the bottom of your Corn Flakes or other Kellogg's cereals.  The 1983 was the last of the Kellogg's run for the 1980s.   

The back of the card features biographical information, career statistics, and a summary of their career.  The one notable addition is the player's hobbies.  Apparently, George had an interest in horses and surfing probably as a result of growing up in California.

Monday, January 8, 2018

George Brett Card of the Day #8

1988 Smokey Bear Royals Caricatures #20

This was a recent pickup at the bimonthly card show at the local Hampton Inn.  It had been quite a while since I had seen one of the sets.  The price had come down significantly from what I had remembered.  I was able to pick it up in a bundle for less than 10 bucks.

If you went to watch the Royals game on August 14, 1988, was 14 years and younger, you would have received this Royals Caricature card as a part of a 28 card giveaway.  On that day you would have seen Kansas City defeat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-0.  Luis Aquino threw a 6 hit shutout and stymied the Toronto lineup which included George Bell, Fred McGriff, and Jesse Barfield.  Kansas City countered with a lineup that included Bo Jackson, Danny Tartabull and Bill Buckner.  However, George Brett did not play, being given the day off after a 3 for 24 slump.

The card back features Brett's biographical statistics along with a cartoon of Smokey Bear letting kids know that they should "Know Your Home Fire Safety Rules".

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Better Late Than Never

If you are reading this then you stuck around after my much too long hiatus from blogging.  I am back because I missed writing about my hobby and sharing it with others.  So what has happened over the last four years?  Actually, not much has changed within my collection.  I'm still working on the George Brett PC and putting together Topps sets from 73 to the present.  Perhaps, my biggest project has been the 1956 Topps Set.  I am down to 55 cards to complete the set.  You will most likely see some posts about that set in the upcoming months.  Here is my latest addition, one of two checklists for the set.

From a fan's perspective, I got to see my team win the 2015 World Series after coming so close in 2014. 

However, it looks like I will now be going through another rebuilding with them.  Let's hope it doesn't take another 30 years.  However, even if it does I will still remain a loyal season ticket holder.  Over the last 3 years, I have checked off 3 major league ballparks off my list:  Great American Ballpark, Progressive Field, and Safeco Field.

Our trip to Alaska last year was bookended with a game at Safeco in Seattle and the Midnight Sun Game in Fairbanks.  The pictures below were taken at midnight (no artificial lights were used).

Finally, I am going to work on updating my want list as I would love to get back to trading with some of you again.  If you care to follow me on Twitter you can do so @mattbrenz.

George Brett Card of the Day #7

1981 MSA Discs

The 1981 MSA (Michael Schechter and Associates) Discs were sponsored by Peter Pan and Sunbeam Bakery although their names do not appear on the cards.  Being unlicensed my MLB, all logos have been airbrushed off.  According to Pete Williams, author of Card Sharks, MSA was a licensing agent of the MLBPA in the 1970s and 1980s ( so they had access to the player's likeness for these promotional items.  Basic information about George was included on the front while the backs are blank.  The 1981 set consisted of 32 players on unnumbered discs.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

George Brett Card of the Day #6

2008 Topps Triple Threads #53

My first card from a Triple Threads set was the 2008 variety numbered 164/1350.  The Triple Threads set debuted by Topps in 2006 as a high-end product.  I have never purchased a box because of the price so I have purchased the singles that I want on the secondary market and at card shows.  Each of the non-autographed base cards like this one has six different parallels numbered from 525 down to the 1 of 1's.

Besides the career batting records, the "Triple Take" on these cards highlight 3 things about each player.  Brett is the only player with 3000 hits, 300 home runs, 600 doubles, 100 triples, and 200 stolen bases.  Brett also helped popularize Charlie Lau's hitting methods as detailed in "The Art of Hitting .300".

The third take is that George has owned several minor league teams following his playing career.  These teams have been co-owned by his brothers, most notably Ken, who played for several teams in the 60s and 70s before finishing his career alongside George in Kansas City in 1981.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

1975 Topps - 70 more cards in the binder, 122 to go....

Just recently did a "u-pick" Ebay lot of 1975 Topps to go into my set.  I am down to 122 cards to go and my goal is to have that complete by summer.

I thought I would showcase 6 of my favorite cards that entered the binder today and why I chose them along with a bit of history about that player.

The Jackie Brown card is a great commercial for Red Man.  He just might have put the whole pouch in for the picture.  Jackie spent 8 years in the majors as a player and another 9 years as a pitching coach for the Rangers, White Sox, and Rays.

Wilbur Wood first became known to me while completing my 1973 Topps set.  A knuckleballer, who learned his craft from Hoyt Wilhelm, Wilbur was a 4-time 20 game winner in the majors with a league-leading 24 wins in 1972 and 1973.  Wood would see a major decline in his career after a 1976 Ron LeFlore liner shattered his kneecap in 1976.

Oscar Gamble, The Big O, perhaps, best known for his hair was a valuable platoon player for the New York Yankees.  He was discovered by Kansas City icon, Buck O'Neil, playing in a semi-pro league.  O'Neil would convince the Cubs to draft Gamble.  Besides the hair, Gamble is also known for having one of the worst batting stances of all time, crouching down so that his back was almost parallel to the ground.  He claimed it helped him see the ball better.

Darold Knowles, who is obviously disinterested in having his picture taken, was either possessed or checking out the girl in the upper deck.  Darold played 16 major league seasons and appeared in all 7 games of the 1973 World Series.  To this date the only pitcher ever to do so.

Ross Grimsley was chosen because he was born just up the road in our state capital of Topeka, KS.  Please don't think any less of him or me based on the monstrosity that is currently going on with the state legislature.  Grimsley came from a baseball family as his father played for the 51 White Sox and his grandfather was a career minor-leaguer.  Nicknamed "Scuz" because of his grooming habits.  Billy Martin accused him of throwing spitballs and having vaseline in his hair (actually, he didn't like washing it during winning streaks).  In Manning v. Grimsley, a Red Sox fan successfully sued the Orioles and Grimsley for Grimsley purposely throwing a ball into the stands when he was warming up and injuring the fan.  The Orioles defense was the fan was heckling Grimsley and thus, interfering with his work.

Finally, Cookie Rojas, the 5-time All Star 2nd baseman for the Kansas City Royals.  Rojas played 16 seasons for the Reds, Phillies, Cardinals, and Royals,  He was elected to the Royals Hall of Fame in 1987.  During the 1972 All Star Game he hit a pinch hit 2-run homer to become the first non-American player to hit a homer for the American League in All Star Game history.  I'll bet you never use that piece of trivia again.'

To see my 1975 Topps Wantlist, look here.  If you have anything let me know and we'll see if we can work out a trade.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

George Brett Card of the Day #5

2003 Topps Series I Record Breakers RB-GB

The 2003 Topps Set included a Record Breakers insert set.  The cards were inserted at a rate of around 1 in every 5 packs.  Purple background cards were inserted in Series I packs while Series II packs had green backgrounds.  The front of the card highlights Brett's 1980 season in which he batted .390.

The back of the card is bright yellow and highlights his 3 batting titles spread over 3 different decades.  His 1980 mark of .390 was the highest since Ted William's .406 in 1941.  Brett also won the American League MVP that year beating out Reggie Jackson for the award.

Friday, February 7, 2014

George Brett Card of the Day #4

2005 Upper Deck Past Time Pennants #34

The 2005 Upper Deck Past Time Pennant set featured 90 cards of baseball's legendary players.  The picture features Brett with another Royals presumably in the on-deck circle.  Based on the 25th Anniversary patch on the uniform, this picture is from 1993.  You can make out the #34 on the back of the batting helmet so this has to Felix Jose, who came over from the St. Louis Cardinals in a trade for Gregg Jeffries prior to the 1993 season.

The back of the card refers to Brett's role during the 1985 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.  This series still brings bad memories to Cardinals fans for Don Denkinger's missed call at first base in Game 6.  The card lists Brett's five best seasons and his career totals.  Three of those five seasons resulted in him winning a batting title (1976, 1980, and 1990) and made him the only player to win a batting title in 3 different decades.