The Good Word: Three Chords and the Truth

It’s been a little while since I penned one of these columns, so I spent the better part of the week wracking my brain how I would tie together the four talking points that I wanted to hit on in this blog.  It’s been said among generations of country western singers that the key to a great song is “three chords and the truth”. That seemed like a pretty good format to work off of, so without delving any further, here are my three chords and a truth.

Chord #1:  A Reunion 10 Years in the Making

One of the perks of working for COMC is that I talk to literally hundreds of collectors on a daily basis. One of the reoccurring points in those discussions is always of trading cards that we once owned but are no longer in our collection. Whether it be low numbered or short printed cards that were sentimental to us that we can no longer owned, or cards that are now worth 100x what we sold them for, everyone has at least one sad cardboard stories.

My story revolves around a beautiful red refractor rookie card of Tim Lincecum from the 2007 Bowman  Draft Picks & Prospects set. Numbered to just 5 copies, it is without question my favorite trading card of one of my favorite athletes of all time. it’s a card that I’ve talked about on this very blog many times in the past. The story goes that in 2009 I was a little tight on money and had to part with the card when I sold off part of my collection. Less than six months later, I was on the hunt to reacquire the card, but was unsuccessful. The collector I had sold the item to had also sold it themselves. Every pathway to a reunion proved a waste of time.

As the years went by and Lincecum’s career flourished and then floundered, I assumed that my opportunity to find one of the five cards was diminishing with each passing year. The push notifications that I had set up on my phone for COMC and eBay for ‘2007 Tim Lincecum Red’ only occasionally yielded false hope notifications that his Topps Turkey Red RC was now in-stock.

Earlier this past Spring, I received a text message from ProjectFiveFive, a fellow Lincecum collector who said that our friend and Lincecum collector TheFreakyFranchise55 was willing to part with his copy of the card I so coveted. Mine was an ungraded and number 3 in the print run, and his was PSA 9 numbered five in the print run, but I didn’t care. A price was quickly negotiated and within a matter of days, my white whale was now safely within the confines of my office at COMC, never to leave my collection again under no circumstances. The cloud that has been hanging over my personal collection has dissipated.

Chord #2: The Fred Hutchinson Award Luncheon

Speaking of emails, last year I received an email from a gentleman named Stan Opdyke, a local collector who is also a very passionate supporter and contributor to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Following an email exchange, he sent over an incredible blog that we published last year highlighting the life and times of Fred Hutchison. In the golden area of Pacific Coast League baseball in 1938, Hutchinson posted a 25-7 record with the Seattle Pilots before moving on to a 10 year career in the big leagues. Hutch would later manage both the Pilots and three major league teams before passing away at the young age 45 from lung cancer.

His legacy lives on to this day thanks in large part to his brother, Bill Hutchinson, a doctor who originally diagnosed him. Bill founded the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle in 1975. The Hutch Award was created a year after his death in 1965 to honor courageous and inspirational baseball players facing similar adversities. This year’s recipient was Stephen Piscotty of the Oakland Athletics,  who’s mother passed away from ALS in May 2018.

Mr. Opdyke kindly invited myself and my fiancé to attend the 54th annual Hutch Award luncheon at T-Mobile Park (Formerly Safeco Field) this past July. The experience was as unique as it was emotionally powerful. Speeches from the employees of The Hutch spoke to the goals and the advancements made in medicine. Keynote speaker and 1995 Hutch Award recipient Jim Abbott spoke of the adversity he faced on and off the field as a pitcher born without a right hand. The event was capped off by powerful message from Stephen Piscotty’s father Mike, who has firmly vowed his life’s work towards finding a cure for ALS.

All-in-all the Luncheon raised more than $577,00, which will go towards accelerating research towards new treatments and cures. I’m a firm believer in utilizing the things that you love to make the world around you a better place, and the Hutch Award and Fred Hutchinson bridge that gap for me, uniting the amazing game of baseball with a meaningful and impactful humanitarian effort.

Chord 3: The National isn’t all about the Cards, it’s about the People

The 2019 National Collector’s Convention in Chicago marked the fourth year I’ve been fortunate enough to attend The National as a representative of COMC. While I’ll admit that my first National experience back in 2016 was five days of sensory overload being in the same room as thousands of revered landmark cards of our industry collectively worth hundreds of millions of dollars, my National experience has taken on a different form in recent years.

I won’t lie, my COMC portfolio will prove me guilty of dollar box diving and ripping bad wax many times over. However the true enjoyment of The National for me is celebrating our hobby with the growing number of familiar faces and connections I’ve made over the years. Meeting thousands of COMC buyers and sellers each year offers us perspective on how collectors intertwine COMC with their collecting needs. We hear their successes and their frustrations, and from those conversations we are able to extract ways that we can improve our platform and re-prioritize desired features we would like to implement on COMC based on their needs.

To me, The National isn’t about finding a 2013 Topps Update Emerald Foil Christian Yelich RC in a dollar box (true story for fellow COMC representative James T.), it’s about my yearly selfie with Ivan (@WatchTheBreaks) of GoGTS Live and chatting about the Twitter-verse. It’s about eating deep-dish pizza with my partner in the Pokemon card world Jameel (Meelypops on COMC) and his team. Having recently opened his first shop in Florida, understanding how his position in the hobby has changed helps me gain the perspective of that of a new shop owner.

Speaking of new shop owners, Ryan (@CardCollector2) bought and re-imagined a shop in Grove City, Ohio just months before The National, amidst the planning of the fourth annual Instagram Trade Night. Having attended the prior three events which COMC has sponsored, Ryan took his event to a whole new level this year by renting out a ballroom blocks from the National. This allowed well over 1,000 attendees to comfortably gather, trade, and enjoy the four hour experience. The work Ryan has done breathing life into the Instagram trading card community and introducing young new collectors to the hobby is an effort that will reward the hobby for decades to come.

The Truth: August 17th, 2019

The truth is that I have been blessed with a life that allows me to live surrounded among the trading card hobby and all of it’s wonder. I live in a world occupied by cardboard, stat lines, and sports memes. I’m incredibly grateful for my better half, who has supported every single moment of it for the last four and a half years.

Less than two weeks after I returned home from The National, I married the love of my life along the coast of Washington as 20 of our closest family members and friends watched on. Nothing in my life will ever be as special as the day we said, ‘I Do’. She is my true 1/1 in this world.

Happiness isn’t finding that pristine 52’ Mantle hiding within an old shoe box at a garage sale you’ve searched for all your life. Happiness is meeting and surrounding yourself with the people who will encourage and support you to never stop searching.

Labor Day 9/2/2019 – Limited Customer Service Support

laborday

Happy Upcoming Labor Day!

In observance of the Holiday, we will have limited customer service support by email only next Monday, September 2nd. Our team will not be available to answer phone calls, though you can always leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

We will return to the office on Tuesday (9/3/19) ready to help with any questions or concerns that you might have requiring our Customer Service Team’s assistance.

Thank you very much for your consideration and have a great weekend everyone!

Guest Blog: The Parallels of Collecting

(Editor’s Note:) Please welcome Johnny Martyr back to the COMC Blog for another guest blog! Johnny owns the world’s largest collection of Night of the Living Dead trading cards, and has been a photojournalist for over 20 years

Collecting parallels can be fun or infuriating, depending on how many you have and how many you need to complete a set!

For the uninitiated, a parallel is an exact copy of a common or base card but it contains some sort of slight but sometimes significant, difference and is much fewer in number.  Some parallels are numbered, whereas their common card copy will not be.

Frankly, I didn’t originally see the appeal in collecting parallels.  I figured I’d just pick up the best of the set and move on.  My interest is in Night of the Living Dead trading cards.  I have the biggest, most complete Night of the Living Dead trading card collection this side of Pittsburgh and I’ve written a few articles about them.  Building this collection is what started me down the rabbit hole of parallel collecting.

Night of the Living Dead director, George A. Romero was featured in 2008 Donruss Americana II, 2009 Panini Americana and 2011 Panini Americana.    

While waiting to find the most desired/expensive, autographed relic Romero cards, I picked up a few of the cheapies just because.  But when I eventually found the nicer autographed parallels that I was searching for, I continued to come across other parallels that were cheaper.  So, I figured I’d fill out my sets as a best as possible now that the expensive cards were out of the way. 

So, you could say that I sort of stumbled into a parallel universe!  And honestly, while the differences from card to card are minor, I think they look quite handsome in a sleeve all together.  In terms of resale, despite some of these cards selling for just a few bucks, when placed with the $50 to $150 cards, the total value of the set can spiral.  How often do you see a complete set of parallels, much less, for sale?  

There are some typical features you can expect to see on parallels that distinguish them from common cards.  And you have to look carefully because the differences aren’t always obvious or show up well in photographs.

Use of foil is popular.  It can be as dramatic as printing the whole front of the card, the background of the image, or border on foil.

Or it can be as simple as stamping a special identifier on the card in foil.  In the Donruss and Panini Americana card sets, the parallels feature the celebrity’s name in foil or words like “Proof” or “Private Signings.”  Notice too, that in three Americana sets, the foil is slightly different colors, there were gold, silver and platinum foils.  Each color means a whole other parallel card with different numbers in the print run.  

Speaking of which, some parallels are also numbered.  In the Americana sets, one can find print runs as short as five or as many as 250.  Both, very small compared to the number of common cards that were available.  Oddly, the autographed relic cards in all three of these sets are numbered 99 or 100 whereas some of the parallel proof cards are numbered much lower; five, ten, or 25.  This is kind of cool because it levels the playing field of value that might be assigned to cards with more and cooler features, to cards that are simply short run.  Or maybe it’s irritating that a card that’s one of five could sell for as much as a signed card simply because of that foil stamped number on it!  In either case, you’ll be happy when you find that one of five!    

Finally, and this is the real thrill with parallels, as I’ve already touched on, you can find autograph and relic cards.

Usually autographs are on a holographic label that is neatly adhered to the card.  Not as cool as hard-signed auto but nice presentation.  These cards tend to be printed on slightly thicker than normal stock and are often numbered as well as have some comment on the back about the guarantee of authenticity of the signature.  

Relic cards contain a swatch of clothing worn by the celebrity.  I’ve read there’s been some controversy over the practice of doing this, that it destroys the value of the original garment or that the garment came from questionable sources etc.  Sometimes the card will contain an image of the celebrity actually wearing the garment, such as screen-worn items.  So that can be some consolation for anyone concerned with authenticity/value.  I’ll leave those debates up to others though.  On the surface at least, relic cards are a fun way to celebrate your favorite famous folks.  Something I like about relic cards too, is that they are very thick compared to a normal trading card.  This is to accommodate the swatch of fabric of course.  But it makes the card much sturdier.  In theory, you should never have to worry about soft corners on these.  Just be sure to keep the additional thickness in mind for storage products.  

If you’re at all interested in collecting parallels, if even only picking up the best of the set, be sure to have a look at checklists posted online to so that you’re aware of how many parallels any given card has and what they are.  That knowledge might sway you one way or the other on some critical collecting decision.  Also, I’d encourage you to inspect cards that are for sale or swap very carefully.  Front side.  Back side.  And ask the seller/trader questions even if you THINK that you recognize the card.  There have been several instances when I had been staring at a card that I needed for months without realizing it.  Things like silver and gold foil are sometimes difficult to differentiate.  

After about three years of searching, I am still missing two of seven George Romero 2008 Donruss Americanas, three of twelve 2009 Panini Americanas and three of ten 2011 Americanas.  I have most of the signatures and relics though so my appetite to press forward is starting to wane… until I find another one! 😉

What parallel universe are you consumed by?  Have any complete sets?  How many do you have left?  

Thanks for reading and happy collecting!

Spin-to-Win Prize Wheel Drawing Results (2019 National Convention)

Thank you to everyone who stopped by our booth earlier this month at the 2019 National Sports Collector’s Convention in Chicago and spun our Spin-to-WinPrize Wheel!

Now that we’re back home and have tallied all of the entries,it’s now time to announce our winners!

$500 COMC Credit Grand Prize:
WAXBLASTER (Kelly W.)

$250 COMC Credit:
Tmgrnzx9r (Eric S.)

$100 COMC Credit:
chn7171 (Connor N.)

1956 Topps Ernie Banks (JAS Certified Autographed):
390in1980 (Rich L.)

2015-16 UD The Cup – Limited Logos PatchAuto Jonathan Toews:
Kyle_AJ_Cards (Andrew W.)

2007-08 Fleer Ultra Gold Medallion Michael Jordan PSA 10:
Lee4420 (Albert A.)

2017 Panini Spectra Patch Auto Mitchell Trubisky BGS 9:
Dshimster (David S.)

(Winners can expect their prizes to appear in their COMC accounts shortly.)

We want to thank everyone who stopped by our booth and spun the prize wheel! We had an incredible time in Chicago and met with thousands of collectors, heard your stories, and listened to your feedback on how we can improve COMC.com going forward!

We look forward to seeing everyone next year for The National inAtlantic City, New Jersey!

[Tutorial] How to Search for Graded, Reviewed, and Aftermarket Autographs on the COMC Marketplace

In 2018 we implemented a much-requested feature allowing search results to be filtered by graded, reviewed, and aftermarket autographs! If your collection contains only items graded by a particular grading service, or if you prefer that the vintage items that you add to your collection are of at least Good to VG-EX quality or better, or even if you only want to see ungraded raw items, this new feature will greatly improve your experience shopping on the COMC Marketplace.

How do you use these search filters? It’s simple! Initiate a search via the search bar at the top of COMC or begin browsing items by category.  On the left side of the search, you’ll be able to filter your search results using many different attributes such as by memorabilia, autograph, rookie related, e.g.  Our newest filters can be found under the ‘Item Conditions’ heading:


Using the Ungraded Filter – Searching for Raw and Reviewed Cards.

The ungraded search filter will remove all graded items from your search results. Once this filter has been chosen, a second set of options is presented: COMC Reviewed, Dean’s Cards Reviewed (DCR), Manufacturer, COMC Comics, and Beckett Raw Card Reviews (BRCR).

In addition to modern items that have been submitted to the COMC Condition Review, the COMC or Dean’s Cards Reviewed filters are your ticket to finding vintage cards of a specific condition range. Vintage items printed before 1980 that have been determined to be in less than near-mint condition will be found under these filters: 

 

The ungraded search filter is also helpful for collectors looking for Manufacturer Uncirculated, Rereleased, or Redemption Autographs that are currently being redeemed:


 

Using the Graded Filter – Searching for Graded Cards by Manufacturer and Grade

The graded filter is a powerful tool that will allow collectors to search for items that have been graded to their exact preference. With this search filter, not only will collectors be able to search by specific grading company such as BGS or PSA, they will also be able to further filter that search by specific grades.

In 2017, we made some changes to our supported grading companies that can be seen on our supported trading cards page. The graded search filter contains options to filter by grading companies that are no longer allow to be listed on the COMC Marketplace. Any items found within these search results are legacy items that date from when we these items were allowed to be listed on the COMC Marketplace.

Perhaps you’re in the market for strictly GEM MINT cards? The graded search filter will allow you to narrow your search results down to just  gem mint specimens:

Using the Aftermarket Auto Filter – Searching for Manufacturer Buybacks and Third-Party-Authenticated Autographs

To complement our autographs filter that can be found under the attributes section of search result filters, we’ve added the option to search by Aftermarket autograph as well. This new set of filters will allow search results to be filtered to only include Manufacturer Buybacks and supported third-party-authenticated autographs.

COMC only allows aftermarket autographs to be sold through our website if they’ve been reissued by a manufacturer or authenticated by a supported third-party authentication service. Cards submitted with aftermarket autographs that do not meet these qualities will be declined to be listed. To see a full list of approved third-party authentication companies, please visit our supported trading cards page.

 

Rich Reminisces: 1968 Detroit Tigers

Why do teams become legendary in our sports collecting hobby? Sometimes the reason is the cast of characters are a unique bunch mixed around. Think of the great New York Yankees teams of the late 1970’s. They had enough oversized personalities on and off the field that the moniker “The Bronx Zoo” worked for that team. For others, it was because they were a right place, right time team. Example of this was the 1969 New York “Miracle” Mets who went on a run the last 2 months of the 1969 season and post-season and won their first World Series. For others. the amount of time a team was dominant mattered. A good example is the 1970’s Pittsburgh Steelers, who won four Super Bowls within a six season period.

And sometimes, there is a little bit of all of the above including fortuitous timing and how they brought a community together. A great example of this scenario is the 1968 Detroit Tigers ,who truly were the last of their era. Five decades later we can say that because they did not have to go through a post-season gauntlet to win a World Series, nor did have to play any night games in the post-season. 

And how did they get to the 1968 World Series? First, their ace pitcher was a youngster named Denny McLain. McLain won an astounding 31 games that season. No one has won more than 27 games in a season since. In fact, very few starters even get to 31 starts anymore, so you’d basically have to win most every start to even be in a position to win 30 games. While we knew 30 games was quite the accomplishment for a pitcher, we all thought in 1968 there might be another one to reach the milestone. Many teams still used four man rotations, and that gave pitchers 40 starts in a season, which meant 30 wins was not the impossible target that it is today.

What made McLain even more interesting was his career as playing the organ and flying an airplane. Did all those outside interests shorten his career? One could argue between the known gambling issues and the just as well known outside interests, the odds were he would have had a longer career if he had focused more on his pitching career. We do know a few things today.

1) His career was over before he reached 30.
2) He is a great guest at a card show.

Their second best pitcher was Mickey Lolich, who would go on to win 3 games in the World Series that year. In 1968, the concept of a pitcher winning 3 World Series games was not considered unusual, as three pitchers had reached that total over the previous 22 seasons. After Lolich, no pitcher has won 3 games in a World Series since. On the other hand, George Frazier actually managed to lose 3 games in the 1981 World Series. Maybe some reliever will win 3 games in a future World Series.  Lolich owned a donut store and rode a motorcycle, but he was always serious about his pitching. To show what a fluke 1968 was, Lolich also blasted his first career homer during that World Series.

It was not just the pitchers who were interesting . Bill Freehan, who was the best American League Catcher from about 1964 through 1971, could have won an MVP award if things had broken a bit differently. Freehan did everything well for the Tigers, and as such garnered much MVP support in 1967 and 1968. He was a force both offensively and defensively. Today, he is battling a long-term illness, but we all remember him fondly for his time on the diamond.

The starting first baseman was Stormin’ Norman Cash. Cash, is a player who helped define the term career year. Look at his 1961 season (.361 batting average and 40+ homers) and compare that year to the rest of his career.  Cash also had a great sense of humor, and in Nolan Ryan‘s first no-hitter brought up a piano leg as his bat as he figured he could not hit Ryan with a standard bat. 

At second base was Dick McAuliffe, who set a record which can be tied, but never broken. After a 1967 season in which he only grounded into 2 double plays, he improved that in 1968 by never grounding into a double play. This record can surely be tied, but never broken indeed.  Also, he had a nasty on-field brawl with Tommy John that injured John’s shoulder and prematurely ended his season. Could that fight have been part of the reason John later needed the surgery now named for him?

The shortstop with the most playing time for the Tigers was Ray Oyler, who batted all of .135 that season. Yes you read correctly, .135 was his batting average.  To me, Ray Oyler is best known for a classic line within the book Ball 4, which I blogged about last month. That line was not family friendly, but if you want to look it up for yourself, search out “bridges completed in 1929”.  Meanwhile, here is Ray posed with a bat in the bunting position. And when he came to the plate,  posing to bunt might have been his best way to get on base.

When you hit just .135, which was absurd for any player, including most pitchers, you probably are not going to play much in the post-season. And that’s what occurred to Oyler, as Mickey Stanley transitioned from the outfield to play shortstop during the World Series. Purportedly, the move was to get Al Kaline‘s bat into the lineup, and who can argue with subbing a future Hall of Famer for a guy hitting all of .135? Yep, all of .135. I don’t know how many times I can repeat that number, but it only gets more awesome each time it’s mentioned. Stanley played error-less ball in the World Series, and having Kaline in the lineup gave extra length as well.  Jim Northrup and Willie Horton were also the other starting outfielders and for 1968, boy that was quite an explosive team at the plate.

Note the position on the 1969 Mickey Stanley card. :

Of course there was plenty of controversy during the series, but one of the oddest ones had to do with the National Anthem. Jose Feliciano was just beginning his career, and did not perform a traditional Star Spangled Banner. I did not understand back then why it was so criticized, and I don’t today but let’s listen and see what you think.

And this is a version done in 2010 to honor the original version by Jose.

We leave you with one final image of the 1968 Tigers, which is of their 3rd base coach Joe Schultz. It was known during the series that Joe would take over managerial duties for the 1969 Seattle Pilots, but who knew just how legendary Joe would become within two years of the series?


Guest Blog: My Top 7 Favorite Trading Cards

(Editors Note: Please welcome Austin Ward to the COMC Blog! Austin’s blog comes to us courtesy of our encouragement of guest blogs a few months ago. Austin has been collecting cards since his youth, and still finds as much joy in the hobby now as he did back then. He recently started Crown Card Connection as a way to engage with the trading card collecting community. He encourages anyone interested in discussing the hobby to join in on the action that Crown Card Connection has to offer!)

Collecting cards brings all sorts of thoughts and feelings to people’s minds. Joy, excitement, risk, and nostalgia are just several of the many for me. Today, I want to share seven favorites from my collection. While a number of them do hold strong value, the memories attached to them are greater still. Here we go:

7. 2018 Leaf Metal Draft Sam Darnold Autographed Printing Plate

One of ones are big in the hobby today, but haven’t been something I’ve really chased after. While browsing some cards online, I came across this Sam Darnold and sent an inquiry to the seller. We ended up getting a deal done, which allowed me to add the first NFL printing plate of my collection.

6. 2018 Select Josh Rosen Tie-Dye Autograph RC

Despite being a San Francisco 49ers fan, Josh Rosen is someone who I’ve decided to personally collect. Due to comparably low value as a rookie, I’ve been able to compile a pretty strong collection of Rosens (around 20 cards and growing). Convinced that Rosen is going to have a strong career in the league, I’m taking my own advice and stockpiling.

5. 1998 Donruss Elite Neifi Perez

Although the card itself is pretty unimpressive (and could be purchased for next to nothing), this was the first autograph I ever got. I vividly remember standing on the third base side with a stack of Colorado Rockies baseball cards during a family trip to Colorado. I was convinced that I was going to get Larry Walker or Vinny Castilla to sign my cards (which clearly didn’t happen), but was thrilled when Perez took the time to make my day.

4. 2018 Leaf Army All-American Football Trevor Lawrence Patch/Autograph

During his freshman campaign, Trevor Lawrence impressed me as a quarterback and as a person. I didn’t anticipate finding much available with him being a freshman in college, but I’m glad I looked when I did. Shortly after I got my Lawrence card, his value spiked during the NCAA Championship run.

3. 1999 MVP Football Set

This one is clearly for the sentimental value, but I can’t count how many times I’ve looked back at the binder that contains the first set I was able to put together. Each time I do, I’m reminded of the hours that went into sorting through my childhood collection and the countless trades that I made with my brother to finish out my set.

2. 2011 Topps Update Mike Trout RC

After a few years of not making many purchases, I bought a random box of cards at an auction and was shocked to find a Mike Trout rookie card inside. I was even more amazed to find out what the card was selling for, but have preferred to hold as a keepsake instead.

1. 2000 Pacific Aurora Tom Brady RC

This is the card that transformed me from a kid that enjoyed collecting to a lifelong hobbyist. The couple hard-earned dollars that I risked back in 2001 created a priceless memory for years to come.