Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Year in Review / State of the Collection

It was a challenging and enjoyable year for the Ryan's Pitch Collection. Challenging because I found myself with very limited time for cardboard appreciation. I had a tremendous flurry of posts in the late spring/early summer time frame, but that quickly ended when the fall semester rolled around. I had some tough classes on the docket and, when combined with my day job, it created an environment of severe time management demands where my hobbies found the proverbial back-burners.

But that's okay. And I know I'm not alone - all of you probably know exactly what I'm talking about! And that's a big reason why I admire my fellow bloggers so much. They find a way to make the time for regularly scheduled posting, despite everything else they have going on in their lives. I salute you all and will try to find my blogging 'sweet spot' in 2015.

Speaking of goals, I established a few in 2014. I even came darn near accomplishing one as well.


But let's keep things linear! First, what did I accomplish in 2014? I managed to acquire a healthy amount of cardboard. For the first time since rejoining the hobby in 2011, these acquisitions were comprised of more single-card purchases than packs and/or sets. In fact, I haven't purchased a blaster/pack since...well, I guess it would have to be Gypsy Queen. Did that diminish the chaos?


As that cute girl from Texas once said, THAT is a Beautiful Disaster. But I digress...

I will always crave the satisfaction of buying packs of cards and ripping them open. But the level of financial commitment I needed to make in order to collect by this method just doesn't work for me right now. I picked up a 2014 Topps Factory Set for my son's collection this Christmas just as I normally do, but that was enough for me after trying out Series 1, some Heritage and GQ.

The flagship is in pretty good form right now, overall. I'm not here to hate! The photography seems to really be on top of its game - a huge bonus in my book. I Just can't get on board with all of the inserts and parallels. I like them - I just can't collect them all.

Heritage was a real treat. The return of substantial card stock made those rack packs a real joy for me to open. I kicked off my set-build in solid form, with minimal duplicates among the packs that I did purchase. That was a lot of fun and a great example of why I probably won't be able to ever fully give up new-releases.

So what did I buy this year? Singles. Vintage singles and small lots. Junk wax singles. Hobby Ice Age singles. Even modern release singles! Some were graded and some were raw. I picked up a bunch of cheap autograph cards, too. I love autographed cards. They look great in cases and display well for non-collector friends and family to reminisce about and enjoy. That makes me happy!

It wasn't just baseball and even better - these cost me some stamps, envelopes and some paper!

What kind of singles did I buy? A lot of them were for my Player Collections. Just to refresh, here is the list as of today (wink) with a quick example for each:

Don Mattingly

Freddie Freeman

Anthony Rizzo

Craig Kimbrel

David Robertson

Dellin Betances

Eric Jagielo

Jagielo and Betances are new additions to the list this year. It's an interesting list, isn't it? I have some questions to answer in 2015 - will I continue to collect David Robertson now that he has left the Yanks? I'm thinking probably. Is it lame that it's even a question for me? I don't think so...collecting players from my favorite teams will always be a major component of my collecting ways. All you have to do is look at the two new additions for evidence of this trait.

But Robertson will always hold a special place for me. I became a huge fan of his during my first season "back" as a big time, loyal baseball fan. I was rooting for him as we were waiting for my son to be born. David was also kind enough to respond back during "Spring TTM 2012" with an autographed ball and several cards. I'll always be grateful and always be a fan. I can see this becoming a long-term relationship, even if he's wearing some different colored pinstripes.

A lot of my collecting friends from the Blogosphere and on Twitter are responsible for the majority of my PC additions this year. I am so grateful to all of you for that. Words can't describe how much fun it is to pull a plain white envelope out of the mailbox with a nice note and a few fabulous cards inside. That experience really encapsulates baseball card collecting in its purest form - a true organic experience that can be really difficult to find these days and (ahem) at this age.

Thank you for that, you guys!

So, the Rizzo and the Freddie and the Kimbrel collection are going strong! Unfortunately, these PCs are un-ceremonioulsy stacked on the Card Cave table. Is it because I don't care? Absolutely not. Whenever I get tasked by Mrs. Ryan's Pitch to retrieve something from the other end of the Card Cave (i.e. the storage room in our basement), I usually dilly-dally and wander over to my table and flip through my beloved PC stacks - just because. Can you really have fun flipping through cards that you've seen a hundred times?

Damn right you can.

But my PCs deserve more, so a major goal for 2015 will be to binder-ize these stacks of goodness. For one thing, safety of the cards is paramount. I like to keep my cards in as good a condition as when I receive them. I consider this an element of my responsibilities as their Collector-Owner. I foresee a sizable order from Ultra Pro in my future - along with a trial order from UniKeep binders. These binders aren't built for beauty - but I think they may be the utilitarian and hobby solution I've been looking for.

What else is going into a binder? My Mattingly PC. I received dozens of glorious Donnie cards from the same collecting friends that I mentioned above - THANK YOU, guys! I also tried to adhere to a goal for 2014 by adding Mattingly to my singles/lots purchases throughout the year. A couple of "lots" later, and my Hit Man collection has now reached amazing new heights! How many unique cards do I have? No idea - but taking the time to organize and binderize them should assist in making my statistical analysis much easier. I can't wait to see where I stand and to share some REALLY cool cards with you guys!

I'd be lying if I said that the majority of my collecting passion hasn't consistently focused on vintage cards. The history of the sport has always been a huge draw for me and collecting older cards is a great way to create my own personal baseball museum. Vintage for me is anything before I was born (1979). While many of you will probably get a chuckle out of that, it seems to be where the demarcation falls for me. I am getting closer and closer to completing all Topps sets between 1979 and the beginning of my Hobby Ice Age. This will be a major milestone for me as a collector and this goal will remain as a focus for my collecting in 2015.


Prior to 1979 is wide open. In a perfect world, I would say that I am actually collecting/building every set - from bubble gum cards... Trammel RCs...

...and everything, EVERYTHING in between. There's some well-loved 52's and a few slabbed T-205's...

I now have dozens of BEAUTIFUL dog-eared 71's...

...stacked right next to my (in progress) N.Y. Highlanders team set...

There are some old-school Bowmans, each of which deserve their very own post for appreciation...

...and a NEARLY complete '78 set. I also have a beloved stack of 1960 "commons" that will one day be presented to my Dad so that he can complete his main childhood set!

There's a bunch of Virgil Trucks that I treasure just as much as my one-and-only Ted Williams and the two Mantle base cards mixed in among the Bowman trove. All kinds of good stuff, right? But the king for me just continues to be vintage.

God, I love vintage.

They need to be organized, though. Enter more binders and cases. I may only have eleven 1959 Topps cards, but they need to be brought together with two pages and plenty of room to grow. Will I ever obtain a Hoot rookie card and complete this glorious set? I sure hope so but the least I can do is make it as easy as possible for me to access the cards, enjoy them, share them, know which ones I need, etc.

Organize, organize, organize.

I also need to get rid of what I just don't want anymore. I don't need to keep them all - I simply can't. There's not enough space and my storage bins are busting at their plastic seams. Let me know if you are interested. There will be team lots and "Set starter kits". Do you love a team and desire any/all cards for that team? Perhaps I can help. I don't need them in my collection anymore but I want them to go to a good home if possible. Don't worry, they would never be thrown away...I'm thinking grab-bag goodies at Little League parks is a great way to go? So much to reduce, but it has to be done.

I really "got into" graded cards this year. My first foray was a two-slab auction victory that netted two "9" copies of my favorite baseball card - 1984 Topps Mattingly. But even with that first graded purchase came my first lesson. Not all slabs are created equal, and it can become just as confusing and cluttered as raw cards if you don't set up some parameters. So I studied and researched and talked a lot about it with a lot of you over the months (thank you again!). I think I cam up with a system that works for me...

There are certain player and teams and sets that I will always welcome in graded form. Iconic rookie cards from my youth and key cards for certain players from today (PC's and maybe a few others) will be the primary focus. The Highlanders. The first Yankees. The 1951 Bowman set. Foolishly ambitious? Definitely! But I can't help it - I'm all in and I have loved every single inbound slab. They store well. They present well to others. They make it easy to know exactly what you have should a time ever come to redistribute....yes, graded cards are here to stay for the Ryan's Pitch Collection!

So, a quick summary of collecting focus and goals for 2015:

ORGANIZE - binderize PC's and favorite sets, both complete and in progress

TRACK - make lists of "have's" and "need's" for PC's and sets

REDUCE - give away or sell cards, etc. that I truly don't need or want

COLLECT - PC's, sets, autographs and key graded cards (rookies, favorites, etc.)

ENJOY - blog when possible, share with friends, pour a beer and flip through

Uh, "RECTO"? "CERTO"? Whatever the subliminal anagram might be, I feel like I have a very general plan for the coming year and I am really looking forward to it. While I didn't blog as much as I wanted to, I was very fortunate to have the time and resources that I did in order to enjoy when I could. Make no mistake, not all of the cards above were obtained in 2014. Most have been scooped up over the past four years and some more than 25 years ago. The key is seeing a pattern emerge and gaining a vision of what I really want my collection to be and mean to me - and I feel like that is really coming into focus, slowly but surely.

There's a whole other component of my collection that I'd like to dive into more in a future post - my memorabilia. Autographed balls, pictures and tickets. I have  managed to add a few of these to my collection as well and many of them factor into my card acquisition decisions. I'll have to save this topic for 2015, though.

If you have stuck with me this long, I am eternally grateful. It brings me a lot of joy to think that at least one other soul out there is gaining some joy from the pieces of cardboard and baseball history that I squirrel away in my own humble collection. Coming up on this blog's 3rd Anniversary, I'm impressed I've hung on this long. I don't know if this website will ever truly reach the lofty ideals of organization & perfection that I originally had in mind, but it works for now and serves as a nice place for me to call home out here in the cyber ether.

It will be a busy year for me next year - The Ryan's Pitch clan will welcome our third child into the world (in time for its first baseball season!) and I should wrap up my MBA! My daughter will start 2nd grade and my son may very well watch his first Star Wars movie (wink) in addition to preparing for kindergarten. My wife will hit the gas pedal on her photography business after the baby break....and off we'll go. If I disappear from time to time on here - at least you'll know why! Just remember that you can always find me on Twitter via @ryanspitch - I foresee some late night tweeting this spring.

Have a very safe New Year's Eve with the people important to you! I hope that 2015 is a wonderful year for us all and I can't wait to join you for a part of that journey - the State of the Collection is STRONG.

As always, thanks for reading!


Friday, December 19, 2014

My Mattingly Collection - 2001 Topps Archives Reserve, Bat Relic

Not that anybody was really worried or about the lack of posts over here at Ryan's Pitch...but just in case.

The Fall really overwhelmed me with family and work and school I had so much that I wanted to share with you guys in October as an epic baseball season was coming to an end. A season with so many emotional connections to the Ryan's Pitch Collection - but I had to place the blog on the back burner to make sure I could take care of business.

October became Halloween and then Thanksgiving was looming large and then December hit with a fury. But now - now that finals are done and the office has not a creature stirring - now for a few days...I'm all out of business!

I've missed you guys!

(group hug)

And I've missed my hobby time. I have a year left in my MBA program so 2015 may prove to be just as challenging, but as you all know, I am an eternal optimist - so here's hoping! Until then, I'd like to end 2014 on a positive note with a few posts. I'd love to provide one of those "STATE OF THE COLLECTION" posts. My collecting approach has truly evolved over the past year (or so) and I am very excited about tackling some much needed house cleaning in parallel with a renewed vigor for laser-guided collecting focus. And just who wouldn't want to hear about all of THAT?

For now, though, let's check out a slick Mattingly card I recently picked up! I found this bad boy for the price of two modern packs. It wasn't in a shop or at a show (what are those?) and in this case, I didn't even have a picture. This 2001 Topps Archives Reserve fell in my Hobby Ice Age, so I didn't have a clue as to what it might resemble. I am familiar with the Archives series, but what did the "reserve" label indicate?

At $5 though, it was a Mattingly card that I DIDN'T have and a bat card at that, so I scooped it up. And I am sure glad that I did:

I know, I know - another damn version of the Hit Man's '84 Topps rookie card. Isn't it sweet!? It's shiny and refractor-y in all the right, biased ways for me. This one was in great shape, too - for which I am always thankful. The corners are sharp and the surface is pretty clean. The Archives logo is slightly annoying in the top right, but I'm over it. The circular bat relic is kind of a cool contrast with the otherwise well squared-away card.

To the back: 

Pretty much the standard with the exception of the fine-print line at the bottom and the...wait, what's that? A certification hologram?


Houston, that's a serial number! Woo-hoo! God bless these cards from the Hobby Ice Age. I am supposing this an early example of serialization that was utilized as the hobby was figuring out just how they were going to handle this attribute. It's kind of a neat variant, even if it covers up some statistics. Good thing I can easily check the other 30 versions of this card.

Returning some focus to my Mattingly collection is one component of my 2014 Collecting Evolution story-line. It was very easy to dial-in on my modern day PC's:

Craig Kimbrel
Freddie Freeman
Anthony Rizzo
Dellin Betances
David Robertson
Eric Jagielo

Unfortunately, these quests often left Donnie in the dust despite his status as my favorite all-time player. Not to mention, there are SO many cards during the aforementioned Ice Age that I haven't even begun to discover or enjoy and are probably quite affordable.

Hopefully this card is another great step in the right direction for 2015. I say "another" because I was able to scoop up a "Player Lot" of Mattingly cards over the past couple of months that has been a joy to flip through during free moments here and there. Some good, old-fashioned player collecting.

Anyways, it feels great to be back and I hope this doesn't turn out to be a one-hit wonder. I hope you all had a great 2014, find much peace with you and yours for the holidays, and hit the base path in 2015 with tremendous gusto!

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Duke Contest

Contest for a Duke!

Robert of "$30 a Week Habit" is having a contest to win this beautiful '54 Topps card:

A sixty year-old card of a Hall of Famer......what a lovely habit.

Click HERE to enter - good luck and THANKS, Robert!


Sunday, September 14, 2014

My Yankees Collection - 2007 Topps Co-Signers #26 Mike Mussina (Posada) #59/175

We collectors spend a lot of time discussing card designs. What we like and what we don't like. Our favorites and the ones we'd rather not ever see again.....ever. I go back and forth with my own personal preferences. I enjoy simple designs that emphasize the player's photograph. I want to see a team logo and information regarding the player's position as well as a healthy dose of information - statistics, biographical or interesting "factoids".

I checked out of the hobby as the insanely creative card-design engines of the 90's (or "Junk Wax Era") were just heating up. From lasers to rainbows and cartoons to studio portraits, I have seen some beautiful cards from my Hobby Ice Age. I have also seen some complete nightmares that just make me chuckle.

Here is a beautiful card, my friends:

This is a 2007 Topps Co-Signers card of the Moose and his battery-mate, Jorge Posada. I have never seen a card like this before, but I absolutely love it. Mussina and Posada are two Yankee favorites, and a quick glance at their results in '06 tell us why.

Posada boasted a .277 average with 23 long balls and 90+ RBI. You can't ask much more of a catcher than that although Jorge would go on to have his career year in 2007. Mussina recorded a 15-7 record in 2006, nearing 200 IP and close to 175 K's. They truly were a battery, and one that I can fondly recall catching on TV from time to time.

The Yanks would lose to Detroit in the '06 ALDS. Mussina lost a tough Game 2 by the score of 4-3 and actually out-dueled Justin Verlander before the Bombers' bats fell silent in the 5th inning. They would lose the next two games by margins of 5 and 6 runs, seemingly unable to recover.

Here's the back of the card, which is actually a Mussina card:



I couldn't help myself. I had no idea this one was numbered when I bought it. I guess that's pretty cool? It simply adds some luster to a card that I already thought was "tops". Pun intended.

Anyways, I just really dig this dual image - Mussina contemplating the next pitch to be dealt with a sepia-Posada in the background checking for signs from the dugout before lowering the mask and getting back to work. Throw in the facsimile signatures and we're good-to-go!

Despite the burnt-orange trim coloring.....great work, Topps!

A great card for my Yankees Collection.

Thanks for reading!


Friday, September 12, 2014

The Quest for '60: #412 Bob Anderson

One of my most enjoyable collecting moments is when I can cross off a card from a set-building list. I was able to do just that the other day when I scooped up this crispy and magnificently off-centered Bob Anderson from the 1960 Topps set: 

All smiles!

The corners and edges are really sharp on this Anderson card but the printing press gods stepped away from their desks when this one rolled off the assembly line at the Topps factory! No matter, it is another beautiful building block in my quest to complete the 1960 set. The colors on the front of the card are also really sharp.

But who is Bob Anderson?

The bullpen pitcher's lamentation in the cartoon is terrific!

Apparently, Bob Anderson was the professional fencer who played the part of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy during the light saber scenes......and he was also this Bob Anderson! There's a great chronology of Mr. Anderson's highlights from the '59 season for us to enjoy. I love the use of the term "safeties" to describe the number of hits Bob surrendered to the Dodgers on Independence Day. Apparently Mr. Anderson owned the Dodgers that year, had a personal best against the Braves and was well on his way to the history books against the Cardinals later on in the season.

But I think Topps missed a dandy.....TO THE WIKIPEDIA, BATMAN!

"Bob Anderson was involved in one of baseball history's most unusual plays. It occurred during a game played on June 30, 1959, between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs. Stan Musial was at the plate, with a count of 3-1. Anderson's next pitch was errant, evading catcher Sammy Taylor and rolling all the way to the backstop. Umpire Vic Delmore called ball four, however Anderson and Taylor contended that Musial foul tipped the ball. Because the ball was still in play, and because Delmore was embroiled in an argument with the catcher and pitcher, Musial took it upon himself to try for second base. Seeing that Musial was trying for second, Alvin Dark ran to the backstop to retrieve the ball which had found its way into the hands of field announcer, Pat Pieper.

Pat Pipier

Dark retrieved the ball from Pieper. Absentmindedly, however, Delmore pulled out a new ball and gave it to Taylor. Anderson finally noticed that Musial was trying for second, took the new ball, and threw it to second baseman Tony Taylor. Anderson's throw flew over Tony Taylor's head into the outfield. Dark, at the same time that Anderson threw the new ball, threw the original ball to shortstop Ernie Banks. Musial, though, did not see Dark's throw and only noticed Anderson's ball fly over the second baseman's head, so he tried to go to third base. On his way there, he was tagged out by Banks, and after a delay he was ruled out." 

Is that awesome or what? This story alone makes me want to go digging through the Ryan's Pitch archives for some Musial, Ernie and Alvin Dark cards. I swear I just saw an Alvin the other day. Stay tuned for that! And as for Mr. Pipier - all I can say is, WOW. I was not aware of his story and am so grateful for the research induced by this card that has now brought him to my attention. If you don't know about Pat Pipier and the place he holds in Chicago Cubs history, I highly suggest you check it out!

As usual, I feel compelled to check out the box score on as well:

Top of the 4th, Cardinals Batting, Ahead 2-1, Cubs' Bob Anderson facing 5-6-7
t42-10---OSTLG. CimoliB. Anderson-2%61%Groundout: SS-1B
t42-11---OSTLS. MusialB. Anderson-2%59%Walk; Musial out at 2B/3B-SS
t42-12---STLH. SmithB. Anderson1%60%Single to SS
t42-121--OSTLD. GrayB. Anderson-2%58%Strikeout
0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 LOB. Cardinals 2, Cubs 1.

Ha! Glorious....."Walk; Musial out at 2B/3B-SS" - yeah, I suppose that one would've been a head scratcher for Topps design teams as they debated on what to list on the card. What might have been?

Welcome to the set, Mr. Anderson and thank you for today's great baseball history lesson!

Thanks for reading and have a safe weekend, everybody.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

I've Been 30YOC PWE'd!

We all love them and this one was no different!

I believe a basic "oh, I like that" comment on one of 30YOC's posts resulted in a PWE with this bad boy being speedily sent my way for the Mattingly Collection. Couldn't be more grateful, my friend! Thank you!

Here's a fresh version of the 1989 Topps design:

What do you think? Fort Lauderdale, circa 1988? Actually, I am unsure as to exactly what the name of their stadium was back in those days.....either way, I love it! The pinstripes, the Florida sun, the 'stache, the bat......greatness abounds.

Thank you, B! Welcome home, Donnie.

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Night Owl Made A Pass At My Woman!


Night Owl is a righteous dude with tremendous cardboard and Dodger knowledge surpassed only by his own incredible talent for writing. I just couldn't resist the gratuitous post title inspired by The Lost Collector's recent interview of [99.9%] retired blogger, Napkin Doon. It had me laughing out loud and wishing once more for a "Cleve's" of South Carolina....but alas, no such luck. The interview can be enjoyed here.

NO, it was I that was seduced by this glorious plethora of cardboard from our community's winged friend of the night. Completely unexpected but surely treasured, I must now hatch plans for a counterstrike.

Thank you very much, Night Owl!

Here we go - 

Yankees and Braves dominated this well-crafted package. I had never seen these tri-fold Upper Deck "BAT" cards before.....but I LOVE them. How do I store them?

We sure miss Robbie in New York but it's always a pleasure to see him knock one out of Safeco from time to time. I think I caught an update recently that he left a game with some pain...I hope he's okay. This "blue-sparkle" parallel from 2013 is a beautiful card and I have quickly become a fan of the Opening Day logo. Man, that of the finest swings in baseball right now, folks.

What Mo can I say? Rivera cards will always be accepted around here. A simple baseball card with a winning smile from baseball's greatest closer is fantastic!

PC alert!!!!! A Donnie-Braves sandwich served up with my first look at the A&G insert set, "Across the Years". I can dig. The Braves colors and that OD logo (again) look great on the Freddie and Kimbrel cards. Great additions to my collections!

Here's a look at the back of the BAT card. See what I mean? They are REALLY nice and offer up some great baseball knowledge in an attractive, unique design. How were these cards distributed?

A giant Donruss Righetti!!!!! How giant?

THIS giant! Thank you for the perspective, Chippah (also included).

I'm a bit unsure as to how I'm going to store/display this bad boy....but I'll find a way to let Rags breathe safely in the Card Cave. In the end, a wonderful problem to have, right?

Thanks again, Night Owl and thanks for reading -